Growing the Next Farm and Ranch Generation PDF Print E-mail
News Releases - Agribusiness
Written by Elisha Smith   
Thursday, 22 March 2012 12:29

National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition Releases its 2012 Farm Bill Platform

Lyons, NE - Today, the National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition released its comprehensive 2012 Farm Bill policy platform, Farming for the Future: A Sustainable Agriculture Agenda for the 2012 Food and Farm Bill.  The Center for Rural Affairs is a represented member of NSAC, and played an integral role in developing this platform.

“This platform includes a comprehensive set of farm bill proposals that will strengthen family farming and ranching systems, especially beginning farmers and ranchers,” said Traci Bruckner, Assistant Policy Director at the Center for Rural Affairs and member of the Coalition’s Coordinating Council. “These policies, if advanced, will help farmers and ranchers conserve soil and water, tap into high-value, niche markets; provide access to land and capital for the next generation of farmers and ranchers; level the playing field by capping subsidies to mega-farms and invest the savings in real family farmers and ranchers.”

The last several Agriculture Censuses demonstrated large drops in the number of younger farmers involved in farming or ranching as their primary occupation. According to Bruckner, the revitalization of rural America depends, in large part, on reversing that trend.

“The Congressional debate over these issues is underway, with both Senate and House Agriculture Committees currently holding hearings aimed at writing a new farm bill,” added Bruckner. “Past farm bills and the recent recession demonstrate the need for a farm bill that truly reforms farm programs and invests in creating real opportunities for family farmers, ranchers and rural communities.”

Farming for the Future spans nearly every title in the farm bill and reflects a comprehensive approach to farm policy reform that will –

  • Create jobs and spur economic growth through food and farms.

  • Invest in the future of American agriculture.

  • Enhance our natural resources and improve agricultural productivity.

  • Drive innovation for tomorrow’s farmers and food entrepreneurs.

  • Make healthy food widely available today and for generations to come.

The platform document explains that the policy proposals therein are the culmination of over two years of policy work with a broad, diverse coalition of over 90 grassroots organizations from across the country.  And it reflects the real, urgent needs of farmers, ranchers, and food entrepreneurs across the country.

Of particular focus of the Center for Rural Affairs in this platform are the various provisions of the Beginning Farmer and Rancher Opportunity Act, a cross-cutting initiative aimed at helping the next generation of farmers and ranchers enter into agriculture.

During the first week of March, a cadre of young farmers, ranchers and military veterans traveled to Washington, DC to participate in a nationwide fly-in and grassroots lobbying effort spearheaded by the Center for Rural Affairs and National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition.

Justin Doer, a farmer and military veteran from Plainview Nebraska was one of  the young farmers and ranchers lobbying in Washington and talking to lawmakers and USDA about the importance of programs that support the next generation of farmers and ranchers.

“We face a lot of barriers as beginning farmers as far as access to land and credit and barriers in crop insurance,” said Doer. “As a beginning farmer one way of getting a start is through niche markets and raising non-conventional crops, but it’s hard to gain access to crop insurance for that... that problem should be addressed.”

According to Doer, the Beginning Farmer and Ranchers Opportunity Act - a key element of the National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition Farm Bill Platform - helps break down many of the barriers beginning farmers and ranchers face, including access to land and credit and barriers in obtaining crop insurance.

“And this legislation would include a provision that would assist younger farmers and ranchers that work with older producers in acquiring land, much as the Center for Rural Affairs’ Land Link program,” added Doer.

The platform can be viewed online at

Comprehensive BSE Rule Released PDF Print E-mail
News Releases - Agribusiness
Written by Grassley Press   
Monday, 19 March 2012 12:16

U.S. Senator Chuck Grassley made the following statement after the Office of Management and Budget cleared the comprehensive BSE rule and the Department of Agriculture released the rule for public comment.

Grassley, along with Senator Ben Nelson of Nebraska, led a bipartisan group of senators pressing the administration to issue the comprehensive BSE rule.  The rule had been in the works for several years, but was stalled within the Office of Management and Budget.  The letter to the Office of Management and Budget Acting Director Jeffrey Zients and Animal Plant Health and Inspection Services Administrator, Dr. Gregory Parham, can be found here.

"Beef producers have been waiting years for the Department of Agriculture to issue the BSE comprehensive rule.  Without the rule, our trade negotiators face real challenges when they are pushing other countries to adopt science-based approaches to beef imports.  Just as we got close to having this rule issued, OMB held it up for reasons that still aren't clear.  It looks like we finally shook the rule loose after our bipartisan group of senators sent a letter to Acting Director Zients pressing him to quickly act.  I will continue to follow the progress of this rule as it moves through the public comment process, and I look forward to seeing new openings for our beef markets.”

USGC Global Update for March 8, 2012 PDF Print E-mail
News Releases - Agribusiness
Written by Marri Carrow   
Monday, 19 March 2012 11:44

Corn Quality Report Explores 2011 U.S. Crop
The 2011 U.S. corn crop entered the global market with a good test weight, low stress cracks and good moisture readings, according to the 2011 U.S. Corn Quality Harvest Report, the first national corn quality report of its kind commissioned by the U.S. Grains Council.

Results in the study were drawn from 474 yellow commodity corn samples taken across 12 top corn producing U.S. states representing 98 percent of 2010 U.S. corn exports.

“Many key questions we are asked every year surround the quality of the U.S. corn crop,” said the Council’s Erick Erickson, director of programs and planning. “With this initial report, we aim to objectively provide that information. As reports are completed in future years, we’ll have an excellent history of the quality of U.S. corn as it enters the merchandising channel.”

Samples for the study were collected by country elevators in each participating state. Samples were sent directly to the Illinois Crop Improvement Association Identity Preserved Grain Laboratory in Champaign, Ill., for analysis following U.S. Department of Agriculture standards.

The study compiled the results on an aggregate basis, covering all 12 states, but also broke them out into three composite export catchment areas, the Gulf (Mississippi Gulf shipments), Pacific Northwest and Southern Rail (rail shipments to Mexico).

“The catchment areas can help buyers who ship out of certain points to better understand the quality of the corn entering merchandising channels that generally ship to those areas,” Erickson said. 

On an aggregate basis, the report shows a good test weight crop in 2011 – 58.1 pounds per bushel (74.8 kg/hl). 

Moisture samples taken at grain elevators averaged 15.6 percent and had low variability, which implies that the corn dried down mostly in the field , helping improve storeability and creating fewer stressed kernels due to less equipment-based drying.

The crop also showed low stress cracks and low levels of broken corn and foreign matter (BCFM). Low figures in both of these areas indicate the possibility of reduced rates of breakage as corn is handled.

“Study results show that despite challenging growing conditions experienced in several corn growing regions, farmers in the United States produced a high-quality crop overall,” Erickson said.

Other characteristics were also examined, including protein, starch and oil content, and are shown in the second chart.

USGC President and CEO Thomas C. Dorr discusses the Corn Quality Harvest Report on Council Cast. Click here to listen.
Find the report on the Council’s website by clicking here.

Competing for Algeria’s Feed Grain Market
Algeria imported 3.5 million metric tons of feed grains last year, with corn reaching 126 million bushels and barley topping 17.7 million bushels. Algeria’s corn sales were dominated by Argentina, Brazil, Ukraine, France and Romania, and barley sales by France, Finland, the U.K. and Bulgaria. According to Cary Sifferath, U.S. Grains Council regional director, the U.S. market share is estimated at 2 percent overall.

“Much of the growth in Algeria’s market is the result of the Arab Spring, which allowed Algerian importers to take advantage of some shipments originally destined for Libya. That gave Algeria’s poultry producers access to lower-cost corn and soybean meal, which led to better producer profits and expanded poultry production,” he said.

“The market is growing, but we need to work much harder to increase the U.S. market share in 2012,” Sifferath added.

“There’s a growing preference for Argentine “red” corn, and Black Sea corn often provides a cost advantage to its suppliers. This year, we want to focus on removing Algeria’s high import duty and Value-added tax on distiller’s grains in order to promote combination shipments of U.S. corn and co-products.”

Word from the Ground:

Building an Industry with New Standards
By Clover Chang, USGC Director in Taiwan

Taiwan's Council of Agriculture is under pressure from feed millers and poultry producers to establish national mycotoxin standards for grains and feedstuffs. At the U.S. Grains Council Taiwan office, we are working to promote U.S. standards as a benchmark in setting national quality control systems in Taiwan. We recognize that these new standards have to be adaptable to encourage producers, even at the most local level, to embrace new industry guidelines.

This month the Council's Taiwan office worked with Taiwan’s COA and feed sector representatives to hold a mycotoxin standard policy meeting. The Council of Agriculture plans to publish a technical bulletin on mycotoxins by July, conduct seminars about the standard for feed millers and livestock producers and invite a U.S. or Japanese consultant to share his or her expertise on mycotoxin prevention and control at these seminars. 

This meeting succeeded in involving a round-table of key industry leaders from the academic community and government agencies.


March 20 - 30: The Council will host a number of buyer seminars and training workshops at the Shanghai JCI’s Raw Feed Materials Market conference in China. Council consultants will be on-hand to address buyer needs and share their expertise in risk management and freight solutions. Buyers of U.S. corn and co-products, representatives from major feed companies and regional grain traders will have the opportunity to learn about the quality and supply of U.S. grain products. For more information, contact Kyle Cromer, USGC international operations coordinator for Asia, at This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it .

Do you find the information in Global Update useful? If so, be sure to pass it on to your friends and colleagues who might benefit from learning more about the U.S. Grains Council’s programs to build demand for U.S. grains and increase market access around the world. If they would like to receive Global Update directly, encourage them to contact Marri Carrow at This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it with their name, company and e-mail to subscribe.


News Releases - Agribusiness
Written by Heather Lilienthal   
Monday, 19 March 2012 10:48

Members manage virtual grain using real-time market information

WEST DES MOINES, IOWA – March 7, 2012 – Grain is the name of the game in a new commodity challenge simulation being offered by the Iowa Farm Bureau Federation (IFBF).

Starting March 7 and running through Oct. 12, Iowa Farm Bureau members can participate in a commodity challenge simulation to learn more about markets, pricing and risk management…but without risking real bushels and money. Iowa Farm Bureau members involved in the simulation are allocated virtual grain (75,000 bushels of corn and 25,000 bushels of soybeans) and challenged to make wise marketing decisions for the 2012 new crop to be harvested in October.

“The goal of this grain marketing challenge isn’t selling the highest price, but learning how to effectively manage the risk associated with today’s volatile markets,” explained Ed Kordick, IFBF commodity services manager. “We want to help farmers understand how to use various tools and see how they work with real markets. Risk management is the focus.”

Members can join the simulation challenge at any time. They receive educational materials by e-mail and online. Participants must be members of their county Farm Bureau to access the simulation.  To register, go to and click on the hotbox banner. For more information, contact Kordick at This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it or 515-225-5433.


Taiwan broadening of U.S. beef imports PDF Print E-mail
News Releases - Agribusiness
Written by Grassley Press   
Monday, 19 March 2012 07:45

Sen. Chuck Grassley today made the following comment on the Taiwanese government announcement that Taiwan plans to set an allowance level for U.S. beef that contains the feed additive ractopamine but not set a similar level for U.S. pork.  Ractopamine has been approved by the Food and Drug Administration and is used by many U.S. beef and pork producers as a feed additive.

“I’m encouraged that the Taiwanese government may allow some U.S. beef that contains traces of ractopamine into Taiwan, but the announcement falls far short of resolving this issue.  The Taiwanese government has not set any allowable level of this additive for U.S. pork imports.  As I’ve said before, Taiwan must treat U.S. agricultural products fairly, in accordance with scientific evidence, and in keeping with its trade obligations, if it expects to maintain its status as a strong economic partner with the United States.  There is no scientific reason for Taiwan to set residual levels of a certain additive for beef but not pork.  I hope Taiwan’s announcement was just a first step in the right direction toward more removal of the trade barriers hurting U.S. farmers.”

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