South Dakota Farmers Union opposes importing Brazilian beef

The South Dakota Farmers Union says it’s a bad idea to import cattle from 14 Brazilian states that have a history of foot and mouth disease. The last case of foot and mouth in any of the 14 states in the USDA proposal was in 2001, but South Dakota Farmers Union President Doug Sombke takes little comfort in that.

“How do you know that those animals all come from that area,” Sombke told Brownfield Ag News on Wednesday, “they may be shipped from foot and mouth disease clean, free area, but that’s not to say that they aren’t brought in from another part of Brazil that has the problem.”

U.S. producers are held to a high standard for livestock health and Brazilian cattlemen should be too,” said Sombke.

Importing beef from countries with a history of foot and mouth disease could erode U.S. consumer confidence in beef, said Sombke.

The farm organization submitted comments discouraging the USDA from allowing the importation of beef from those states in Brazil. The USDA comment period ended on Tuesday.

AUDIO: Doug Sombke (2 min. MP3)

Dairy product prices

National Dairy Products Sales Report for the week ending April 19: cheddar cheese blocks averaged $2.36 per pound down 5.5 cents from the previous week. Barrels were 6.2 cents lower at $2.28, butter decreased 1.6 cents to average $1.96, nonfat dry milk increased 1.2 cents to $2.01 and dry whey increased 0.8 cents to 67.9 cents per pounds.

The Base Class I price for May is $24.47 per hundredweights up 82 cents from the previous month. The Base Skim Milk Price for Class I is $17.45 per hundredweight for May, up 23 cents from the April price.


Study: renewable fuels account for 850,000 U.S. jobs

Jon Doggett with the National Corn Growers Association says the $184.5 billion economic impact of renewable fuels goes beyond just numbers. Those numbers are part of an economic impact study showing that the renewable fuels industry supports more than 850,000 U.S. jobs.

Doggett cites what he’s heard from corn growers whose children have come back to the farm because of the relative prosperity resulting from the renewable fuel standard.

“Not only could I afford to have my kid and his or her family come back to the farm and get them into the operation, but we actually had an economically viable community,” said Doggett, during a coalition-hosted conference call Wednesday. “We had a movie theater, we had a hospital; the school district is doing well because of the economic impacts of biofuels.”

Larry Ward, with ethanol producer POET, says their plants keep people busy distilling 1.6 billion gallons of ethanol annually.

“They provide good-paying, direct jobs in rural small communities,” said Ward, who was also on the call. “These are jobs, as others have mentioned, that cannot be outsourced. These are great local jobs, direct jobs, highly technical jobs, good paying jobs for all those that are participating.”

POET and the National Corn Growers are part of Fuels America, a coalition working to preserve the Renewable Fuel Standard. The coalition commissioned the economic impact study, which also shows that biofuels account for $14.5 billion in annual tax revenue.

Fuels America wants the EPA to uphold the Renewable Fuel Standard, the federally mandated volumes of ethanol and biodiesel that are blended with petroleum fuels.

Renewable fuels represent nearly 10 percent of the U.S. fuel supply.

AUDIO: Fuels America conference call (39 min. MP3)

Corn continues to watch planting conditions

Soybeans were mixed on old crop/new crop spread trade. There are more reports of U.S. soybean imports and a lot of uncertainty about Chinese demand. Past that – the trade’s watching South America’s harvest. Soybean meal matched beans and bean oil was weak on profit taking and the lower crude oil. ABIOVE lowered its 2014 Brazilian soybean export estimate to 43 million tons due to those concerns about Chinese demand. USDA’s weekly export sales report is out Thursday at 8:30 AM Eastern/7:30 AM Central. Old crop soybeans are pegged at -250,000 to 100,000 tons, with new crop at 300,000 to 625,000, old crop meal is seen at 25,000 to 175,000 tons, with new crop at 25,000 to 125,000 tons, and old crop oil is placed at 0 to 50,000 tons, with new crop at 0 to 10,000.

Corn is higher on fund and commercial buying. Demand’s the big factor for corn, from both the export side and the domestic side of the market. Additionally, the trade’s concerned about planting delays in some key growing areas. Ethanol was mixed, with May through September contracts up modestly. China may not be buying U.S. corn, but Beijing did pick up 120,000 tons of old crop U.S. sorghum. The EIA reports ethanol production for the week ending April 18 was an average of 910,000 barrels per day. Weekly old crop U.S. corn sales are estimated at 300,000 to 800,000 tons, with new crop at 100,000 to 250,000 tons.

The wheat complex was higher on fund and technical buying, in addition to spillover from corn. The complex is watching chances for rain in the Southern Plains, in addition to a potential cold snap. The trade’s also assessing freeze damage from earlier this year. Japan bought 29,700 tons of U.S. hard red winter and 21,800 tons of U.S. dark northern spring, along with 25,100 tons of Canadian western red spring and 32,200 tons of Australian standard white. Iran bought 60,000 tons of wheat from Russia. Weekly old crop U.S. wheat sales are projected at 100,000 to 450,000 tons, with new crop at 225,000 to 450,000 tons.

Two settle animal mistreatment charges

Two Wisconsin dairy farm employees seen on an undercover video have entered “no contest” pleas to animal mistreatment and disorderly conduct charges. Mercy for Animals released a video last December showing the two defendants and others mistreating cows at Weise Brothers Dairy Farm near Greenleaf, Wisconsin. The video was shot by a Mercy for Animals person posing as an employee of the farm.

Lucia Martinez of Wrightstown was found guilty of two ordinance violations for the mistreatment of animals and disorderly conduct. She was ordered to pay $1,292 in fines and court costs. Abelardo Jaimes of Menasha was found guilty of one ordinance violation and disorderly conduct and fined $709. Jaimes is still employed at the farm, Martinez was fired when Weise Brothers became aware of the video.

Two other employees facing charges in the case are due in court in May 5th and 6th.


Walker signs Wisconsin’s IoH law

Governor Scott Walker signed Wisconsin’s Implements of Husbandry bill on Wednesday. The law clarifies the definition of implements used for agriculture and establishes a new class of agricultural commercial vehicles. It establishes new parameters for size and lighting for farm machinery traveling on roadways.

The legislation increases the maximum weight allowance on agricultural vehicles and implements to 92,000 pounds with no more than 23,000 pounds per axel. There is a provision to allow tillage, planting and harvesting equipment to exceed 23,000 pounds per axle weight, towns and counties can adopt a resolution or an ordinance to establish a local permitting process to issue no-fee permits for approved routes for that equipment. Wisconsin Farm Bureau president Jim Holte says; “It’s now up to farmers to talk with their local officials about how this law will be implemented in their town and county.”

Supporters of the new law, now known as Act 377, say it is a much-needed update to antiquated state laws which did not accommodate today’s larger farm machinery.



Countries ban California chicken on fears of avian flu

Russian and Taiwanese governments are banning imports of chicken from California after a poultry flock in that state was found to have low pathogenic avian influenza.

According to, USDA spokesman Ed Curlett says the flock as been quarantined and USDA is currently appraising the flock in question for indemnity.

The ban from Taiwan affects California poultry products loaded on or after April 19, Russia’s ban affects products loaded on or after April 21.

Planting is off to a good start for Poseyville farmer

Planting is underway for Poseyville, Indiana farmer Mark Seib.  He says the corn is going into the ground really well.  “We are ahead of last year’s rate of planting,” Seib says.  “We were planting corn in June last year.  We are ahead of schedule right now – although there is rain in the forecast for Thursday, and then Sunday, Monday, and Tuesday.”

He tells Brownfield he’s very pleased with the condition of the soil.  “The temperature has come up to the right temp for us to start planting,” Seib says.  “We have adequate moisture in the ground right now.  Things are going really well for us – and I hate to say that without knocking on wood – but things are really starting to align.”

He says they normally try to start planting corn in mid-April – so he’d call them slightly behind their preferred pace – but says at this point – he’s not too worried.

AUDIO: Mark Seib, Poseyville (3:00mp3)

Judge dismisses HFCS suit

A federal judge in Buffalo, New York has dismissed a case which claimed a 14-year-old girl contracted type 2 diabetes from consuming high fructose corn syrup. The suit filed last June against several corn refiners alleged they were selling a product they knew to be “dangerous, life-threatening and a cause of type 2 diabetes.”

Judge William Skretny of the U.S. District Court for the Western District of New York ruled the plaintiff did not prove HFCS was dangerous, that it caused the diabetes and could not “connect her disease to the actions of any one defendant”.

Food Navigator-USA reports the plaintiff, the mother of the teenager sought $5 million in damages.


Vermont passes GMO labeling bill

On a 114 to 30 vote, the Vermont House of Representatives concurred with the State Senate on Wednesday passing a GMO labeling bill. The measure now goes to the Governor Peter Shumlin. Supporters say the Governor will sign it.

Once signed, food companies would have until July of 2016 to include something on the label if the product may contain genetically modified ingredients. Milk and meat products are exempt. The state’s attorney general will write the specific rules.

The bill also sets up an $8 million fund to implement the rules and defend them if necessary. Many anticipate legal challenges to the measure. Backers of the bill such as State Senator David Zuckerman say they can defend the legislation.  Zuckerman contends it does not question the safety of genetically modified ingredients, it just makes the information available to consumers.  He also contends the impact on interstate commerce would be minimal because there is no need to separate products, just put a label on anything which may contain genetically modified ingredients.  And he says that could be done with just a sticker if they like.

This would make Vermont the first state to require GMO labeling, Maine and Connecticut passed labeling laws last year but both are withholding implementation until other states pass similar legislation with the hope of sharing the expense of any litigation.

AUDIO:Zuckerman talks about the challenges 2:38 mp3