Tag Archives: Ranching

Price movements and volatility over the past month for commodities have been striking. Figure 1, prepared by the Federal Reserve Bank in Kansas City, shows price changes and volatility indexes this year compared to last year for selected commodities and equity indexes. The COVID-19 pandemic, economic stoppage, consumer behavior, and underlying supply and demand conditions created a whirlwind of uncertainty and volatility in the markets. In order to get a sense of how the commodity price movements might impact Nebraska agricultural producers, estimates were calculated on how the changes in prices in March could impact revenues for Nebraska’s three largest agricultural sectors—beef cattle, corn, and soybeans.

Source: From presentation by Nathan Kaufman, Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City, on webinar sponsored by FarmDoc Daily at the University of Illinois, March 27, 2020.


Beef Cattle: Estimates of the potential impact to Nebraska’s cattle sector were calculated borrowing approaches used by Kansas State agricultural economist Glynn Tonsor. Tonsor calculated the price changes over the past few weeks could impact the nation’s cattle sector between $7.98-$9.4 billion. Estimating impacts to the cattle sector is complicated by the different sectors in the industry (cow/calf operators, stockers, backgrounders, and feeders) and the timing of cattle sales throughout the year.


Informal inquiries of persons in the industry suggested 95 percent of the cows in Nebraska calve in the spring. Of the calves born, 75 percent are weaned and sold in the fall, a few are kept and sold as yearlings the following year, and the remainder backgrounded and sold in winter or early next spring. Assuming 20 percent of last year’s calf crop was held and backgrounded for sale in April and using the April feeder cattle futures contract declines between March 2 and March 25 of $6.60/cwt., results in a $49.50 per head or $17.8 million impact to these producers. Assuming a calf crop of 1.77 million head this year, with 75 percent of the calves sold in the fall, and using the declines in the October feeder cattle futures contract, equates to a potential $71.9 million impact to the sector.


The USDA reported 2.5 million head of cattle in the state’s feedlots as of March 1. Estimates of the impacts to the feeding sector are complicated by the fact some of the cattle in the feedlots had already been marketed, or hedged, prior to March, but some not. Additionally, the price changes in March changed the economics of cattle placed in feedlots during the month and over the remainder of the year. So, using the average decline in the April and August feeder cattle futures contracts between March 2 and March 25 of $7.56/cwt., or $105.84 per head, and assessing it against the 2.5 million head on feed on March 1 suggests an impact of $264.6 million. In total, then, the price declines in the cattle markets between March 2 and March 25 might have a $354 million impact on the state’s cattle sector.


Corn/Soybeans: According to data provided by the Nebraska Corn Board, 43 percent of the corn marketed during the year is sold in the months of March-September, and 36 percent is sold between October-December. For these estimates, the assumption was made soybeans are marketed similarly. To calculate the price declines, changes in the appropriate futures contracts between March 2 and 25 were used, and changes in the basis were also considered using Kansas State University crop basis maps. Using last year’s crop production numbers, and the assumptions noted above, corn and soybean producers selling 2019 production this year could see an impact of $387 million. Using assumptions of crop production levels this year, and the share of new crop production which will be sold yet this year, equates to impacts on this year’s production of $280 million. So, the total potential impact to corn and soybean producers could amount to $667 million.


Summary: Compared to pre-COVID prices, Nebraska’s cattle, corn, and soybean producers might see a potential impact of $1.02 billion, or 5 percent of Nebraska’s annual agricultural receipts. These estimates are simplistic and do not account expense reductions which might occur which could offset the revenue impact. For these reasons, the estimates are intended to provide a sense of the magnitude of the impacts to Nebraska’s largest industry during these uncertain times and volatile prices and not an accurate accounting. Fortunately, for some in agriculture, there is flexibility regarding the timing of sales so they might be able to seize better market opportunities over the next few months.

DENVER – March 30, 2020 – In the latest effort to address myths about beef production and nutrition, Beef. It’s What’s For Dinner., managed by the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association, a contractor to the Beef Checkoff, has released a new video series, ‘Real Facts About Real Beef.’ The videos highlight real farmers and ranchers and other beef experts candidly addressing some of the most common misconceptions and questions about cattle and beef.


According to market research, 52 percent of people agree that they trust the people who raise cattle[i]; however, only 27 percent of people say they are knowledgeable about how cattle are raised. [ii] In a time when consumers are more removed from food production than ever, these videos deliver facts directly from the source – beef farmers and ranchers, as well as credentialed experts in the fields of sustainability, human nutrition, and more.


The videos in this series include:

  • Real Facts About Real Beef: Red Meat and Health – Cattle rancher and life coach, Kiah Twisselman, takes on the myth that “red meat is bad for your health” in this video. She highlights that, while there are many mixed messages on the internet about certain foods being bad or good for your health, it is ultimately important that people are eating a well-balanced diet with nutrient dense foods like lean beef.


  • Real Facts About Real Beef: Cattle Production and Climate Change – In this video, Carlyn Petersen, an animal biology doctoral student, is tasked with addressing the myth that “methane from cattle is the leading cause of climate change.” She tackles this myth head on with the real fact that cattle only contribute about two percent of greenhouse gas emissions in the U.S. and that the leading contributor of greenhouse gas is actually the burning of fossil fuels.


  • Real Facts About Real Beef: Grazing Cattle vs. Crops – Mike Williams, a cattle rancher and owner of Diamond W Cattle Company, addresses the myth that “instead of letting cattle graze all over, we could be using that land to grow crops for humans.” As a rancher in the western U.S., Williams knows best and shares how cattle largely graze on land that isn’t suitable for growing crops, and that this land actually thrives when grazed properly.


  • Real Facts About Real Beef: Cattle Production and the Environment  – For this video, Dr. Frank Mitloehner, a leading expert on cattle and sustainability, debunks the myth that “cattle production and farming is harmful to the environment, creating soil erosion, water pollution and poor air quality.” Dr. Mitloehner explains that, as an animal science researcher, he has found the exact opposite to be true, and that, in fact, a properly run ranch or farm will sequester carbon and promote biodiversity.


“’Real Facts About Real Beef’ is one more way Beef. It’s What’s For Dinner. is working to help ensure consumers are informed when it comes to how beef is produced and the nutrients it delivers,” said Buck Wehrbein, federation division chair at NCBA. “These videos are a powerful way we’re able to share fact- and science-based information about beef production and nutrition with these important audiences.”


The ‘Real Facts About Real Beef’ videos will be promoted on social media platforms, such as Facebook and Twitter, to help address misinformation about beef production and its role in a healthy, sustainable diet. In addition to addressing the myths head on, the videos direct consumers to BeefItsWhatsForDinner.com for additional information.


This video series is just the latest from Beef. It’s What’s For Dinner. in an effort to debunk myths about the beef industry. In mid-January, new ads, complete with the brand’s unique personality and swagger, were rolled out addressing the topics of health, sustainability and meat substitutes. The initial six-week digital media flight generated more than 35 million consumer touchpoints, reaching more than 11.6 million consumers multiple times.

In addition to these myth busting efforts, Beef. It’s What’s For Dinner. is giving consumers a behind-the-scenes look at beef production with 360° virtual ranch tours. The videos take consumers on an educational journey to farms and ranches across the United States to learn how beef farmers and ranchers raise cattle to produce high-quality beef.

“As a contractor to the Beef Checkoff, we are committed to ensuring consumers, media, chefs, dietitians foodservice, retail partners and other stakeholders have the facts and information they need when it comes to the beef industry,” said Alisa Harrison, senior vice president of global marketing and research at NCBA, a contractor to the Beef Checkoff.


For more facts about real beef, visit www.BeefItWhatsForDinner.com.

CURTIS, Neb. – It’s National Agriculture Week!

As I write this weekly message, it is National Ag Day across the United States and at the Nebraska College of Technical Agriculture in Curtis.

Our 2020 observance may be muted by current events around the globe. Nonetheless, we recognize the immense contributions made by those who produce the food, fiber and fuel needed to feed the world.

NCTA is evaluating the evolving situation around COVID-19 daily. The safety of our students, faculty, staff and the greater community is our utmost concern. We will be transitioning our Spring semester toward remote learning after Spring Break, on March 30. For more information on these details, please see ncta.unl.edu

Most of our students are away on Spring Break, and our faculty and staff are working remotely or from their offices on campus.

However, agriculture production does not take a break. Hard work and responsibilities continue at the 550-acre NCTA Farm and Learning Laboratory.

Livestock at the farm, horses, and the animals or various species used for teaching programs at the NCTA Veterinary Technology program, are fed, managed and facilities maintained by employees and student workers.

Standards of care are a priority for all animals owned and managed by NCTA.

Spring calving

The NCTA cow herd is about half done with calving. The 31 head of cows are pastured in Aggieland, located immediately north of the campus.

Over the weekend, several of the Vet Tech students took their shifts in checking cows. And, student workers and fulltime staff with the NCTA “Farm Crew” are watching the animals, as well.

Students in livestock management and one of the VT classes had signed up for their calving rotations, as part of their class credits. This hands-on training is a hallmark of the NCTA experience.

Equine science

Campus horses are maintained for by Huntra Christensen, Ranch Horse Team assistant coach. With temperature swings and rain or snow, special attention is paid to a couple of geriatric horses. Like humans, older animals may need extra care for nutrition, hydration and exercise.

Animal Science and Ag Education Division Interim Chair Joanna Hergenreder reports that professors are busy preparing academic content for online platforms to begin next week.

The Ranch Horse Team’s Punchy In Pink Horse Show scheduled for April 3-5 has been canceled.

Crops program

On the crops side of the NCTA Farm, wet weather prevents any crop field activity for a while. Once conditions allow, Dr. Brad Ramsdale, agronomy professor, reports as a 100% no-till farm, we will go straight to planting.

In Crops Practicum II class, students have planned for crops on the varying sizes of ground assigned to them. Nine acres of triticale is slated to be planted in one area. Spring forage mixtures will be planted on the dryland corners of a center pivot irrigated field.

Ag Week, March 22-28

From all of us at NCTA, we appreciate the contributions of each individual to the success of our rural campus and culture, and to the daily lives of all consumers.

The Agriculture of America reports that each American farmer feeds more than 165 people. Those of us in American agriculture are producing even more food and fiber – and doing it safely and with improved technologies.

Thank an agriculture producer today, and throughout the year.

MANHATTAN, Kan. — People of all ages walking around wearing ear buds seems to be a common sight in society today. Often it leads a person to wonder, “What are they all listening to?”

For cow/calf producers interested in learning practical information to address the challenges of raising beef cattle, it just might be the Kansas State University Beef Cattle Institute weekly podcast.

BCI Cattle Chat is a 25-30-minute podcast lead by moderator Brad White, BCI director and veterinarian will be posting its 100th episode on March 27, 2020. The weekly podcast features beef cattle health and management advice from Kansas State experts Bob Larson, veterinarian; Bob Weaber, beef cattle extension specialist; and Dustin Pendell, agricultural economist.

Those four began the podcast in July 2018 to bring together experts from the Kansas State College of Agriculture and College of Veterinary Medicine, White said.

“The goal of the podcast is to effectively communicate relevant, practical information for beef producers and veterinarians through this format,” White said. The format includes 5-8 minute segments on an array of beef cattle topics.

White said their listenership continues to grow. “Last month there were 5,474 downloads from 26 countries.”

With an increasing number of listeners, the podcast team continues to receive listener questions from Kansas and around the globe.

“Our team really appreciates the questions from listeners and the feedback we receive on the podcast. The listener questions allow us to directly address topics important to producers,” White said.

He also values the discussions that happen on the podcast, especially the ones with outside guests who join on occasion. Many of these guests are well-recognized experts in their field.

“I enjoy the interaction with our team and guests because everyone has a different perspective and we can discuss many sides of an issue,” White said.

To listen to this podcast search for BCI Cattle Chat wherever podcasts are found.

TUESDAY, MARCH 17, 2020 12:00 NOON, CDT

Link to webinar: zoom.us/j/283190186

*no preregistration for the webinar .. just enter the above address.
Stress has become a fact of life for farm families. Many are facing financial problems, marketing uncertainties, farm transfer issues, weather, production challenges and more.

Nebraska Cattlemen has partnered with UNL–Nebraska Extension to offer this webinar to producers.
· Recognizing symptoms of stress in ourselves and others
· Understanding how chronic stress affects us and learning coping strategies
· How to talk to someone experiencing chronic stress
· How to approach a conversation if you feel someone is considering suicide
· Where to turn for help

If you or someone you know needs help with stress management or would like to talk to someone confidentially. Call the Rural Response Hotline 800-464-0258

Washington, D.C. – U.S. Senator Ben Sasse, an outspoken advocate for Nebraska agriculture and trade, met with Secretary Perdue and the entire Nebraska congressional delegation at the Department of Agriculture to discuss challenges to Nebraska agriculture.

“We just spent an hour talking about Nebraska agriculture with Secretary Perdue,” said Senator Sasse. “We let the Agriculture Secretary know that nobody out hustles Nebraska farmers, and we talked about some of the ways we can give predictability to these families as they slog through everything from disaster applications to bizarre environmental red tape. We gave the Department of Agriculture an unvarnished look at the challenges we’ve got and the Secretary committed to partnering with us on some important priorities.”

During the meeting, Sasse and the Nebraska delegation thanked the Secretary of Agriculture for beginning the sign up for sugar beet producers impacted by the canal collapse in July 2019 and early frost in October 2019.  Sugar beet producers are eligible for disaster assistance under the Wildfire and Hurricane Indemnity Program Plus (WHIP Plus) and sign up begins March 23. This is an important resource for sugar beet growers in western Nebraska that were hit hard by disasters.

Sasse and the delegation relayed concerns from Nebraska farmers who are going into the 2020 crop year facing excessive moisture still in the ground from the 2019 floods and a lack of irrigation following 2019’s irrigation canal collapse.

Sasse and the delegation asked the Department of Agriculture to ease environment restrictions on Nebraska farmers who face delays in completing post-flood restoration work because of bureaucratic environmental red tape.  We want our farmers to get in the fields as planting season will start soon.

Farmers The USDA’s most recent forecast of net farm income in 2020 pegs it at $96.7 billion, up 3.3 percent or $3.1 billion, from last year. If realized, 2020 would represent the fourth consecutive year of improved farm income. However, according to American Farm Bureau, 2020 farm income would only be slightly higher than the 20-year, inflation-adjusted, national average of $93 billion. Cash receipts from crop and livestock sales are projected to $384.4 billion, up 2.7 percent or $10.1 billion, from 2019. Total animal/animal product receipts are expected to increase 4.6 percent with growth seen in hogs, cattle/calves, and poultry/eggs. Projected receipts from cattle/calves, $69 billion, is expected to be the highest since 2015. Cash receipts from crops are forecast at $198.6 billion, up $1.9 billion or 1 percent, from the prior year. Corn receipts are projected to be $1 billion higher; soybeans are projected to be about $1 billion lower. Federal government payments are expected to fall 37 percent. This is due to the expectation of no Market Facilitation Payments (MFP) this year. The final tranche of the 2019 payments, $3.7 billion, was made earlier this month.


The farm income forecasts offer positive news for Nebraska. Higher cattle/calves receipts are particularly positive as Nebraska is second only to Texas in the number of beef cattle. Poultry receipts in Nebraska should also be higher due to the ramp up of production at the Costco facility in Fremont. On the crop side, typical production levels with steady prices could be coupled with lower per bushel costs.


The USDA projections do not include any growth in exports to China due to the Phase 1 deal. If China ramps up purchases of U.S. agricultural goods, a big “if” given the uncertainties created by the coronavirus outbreak and its accompanying economic impacts, the farm income numbers could improve. Another uncertainty is federal support payments. As noted above, the income projections do not include any MFP payments this year. With the Phase 1 agreement and passage of a new trade agreement with Canada and Mexico, most people thought a MFP program this year was unlikely. However, a President Trump tweet on Friday said additional aid to farmers will be provided until the trade deals “fully kick in.” Either way, more exports to China or additional MFP payments should improve income conditions on the farm or ranch.


On July 25, 2019, U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue announced details of additional actions the U.S. Department of Agriculture would take to support American agricultural producers while continued efforts on free, fair and reciprocal trade deals take place. As part of those actions, USDA’s Agricultural Marketing Service announced up to $17 million of food purchases in American lamb under the authority of Section 5 of the Commodity Credit Corporation Charter Act for distribution to various food nutrition assistance programs.


A pre-solicitation notice issued Feb. 18 announced a near-term opportunity for a solicitation of lamb products to be procured as to include, but not limited to, lamb shanks. A delivery period is suggested as May through September.


Solicitations will be issued soon and will be available electronically through the Web-Based Supply Chain Management system. Public WBSCM information is available without an account on the WBSCM Public Procurement Page. All future information regarding this acquisition, including solicitation amendments and award notices, will be published through WBSCM, and on the Agricultural Marketing Service’s website at www.ams.usda.gov/selling-food. Interested parties shall be responsible for ensuring that they have the most up-to-date information about this acquisition. The contract type is anticipated to be firm-fixed price. Deliveries are expected to be to various locations in the United States on an FOB destination basis.


Pursuant to Agricultural Acquisition Regulation 470.103(b), commodities and the products of agricultural commodities acquired under this contract must be a product of the United States, and shall be considered to be such a product if it is grown, processed and otherwise prepared for sale or distribution exclusively in the United States. Packaging and container components under this acquisition will be the only portion subject to the World Trade Organization Government Procurement Agreement and Free Trade Agreements, as addressed by FAR clause 52.225-5.


To be eligible to submit offers, potential contractors must meet the AMS vendor qualification requirements. The AMS point of contact for new vendors may be reached via email at NewVendor@usda.gov. Details of these requirements are available online at: https://www.ams.usda.gov/selling-food/becoming-approved.


Source: USDA/AMS


Persons of all ages are invited to attend a “Farm and Ranch Estate Planning Workshop” hosted by UNL Extension.  This workshop will be held on March 2 from 9:30 to 3:00 at the Merrick County Ag Building, Fairgrounds, Central City.

The program is free with the lunch being provided by the Archer Credit Union. Everyone attending is asked to register by calling the Merrick County Extension Office at 308-946-3843 to ensure that there is enough lunch, handouts, and other materials. Please register by February 27, 2020.

One presentation will focus on the decisions and situations which should be addressed when thinking about how your farm or ranch estate will be passed. Topics will include: the need for planning, proper family communications, who makes the decisions, concept of fair versus equal, family negotiations, and much more. The presentation is designed to give some basic information to those that haven’t yet started to think about their succession or transition plan for their assets.

In addition, an attorney will be making his presentation to give Ag Families the basics of what they need to start planning their wills, trusts, and other end of life documents that need to be in order.

The objective is to start the process of having the farm succession or transition planned. Bring your questions, as the session is designed to be interactive answering as many questions as possible.

Allan Vyhnalek, UNL Extension Educator for Farm Succession will present. He was recently assigned to the Ag Economics Department to work on farm and ranch succession and transition. Tom Fehringer, Columbus based attorney with an additional office in Central City, will make the legal presentation. He has worked with farmers for over 16 years will cover the legal aspects of end of life and end of business decision making.

While the workshop will use examples related to Agriculture, the estate planning parts of the workshops will be applicable to all and anyone with interest is invited to attend. Participants at previous events always report that they wished they would have started sooner, when asked about the value of attending the presentation.  The consequences of not having an appropriate plan in place can jeopardize the financial stability of your operation, and the future of the family.  More importantly, we need to have our wishes known to others so the legacy of the farms and ranches can be passed to the individuals or entities intended.

For more information or assistance, please contact _308-946-3843 to register or Allan Vyhnalek, 402-472-1771.

Twenty-one farm and ranch groups that represent millions of U.S. farmers and ranchers are launching Farmers for a Sustainable Future. It’s a new coalition committed to environmental and economic sustainability.

The coalition will serve as a primary resource for lawmakers and policymakers as they consider climate policies. One important task for the new coalition is to share with elected officials, media, and the public, U.S. agriculture’s commitment to sustainability and the incredible strides they’ve already made to reduce agriculture’s environmental footprint.

As policy proposals are developed and considered, the goal is for the coalition and its guiding principles to serve as a foundation to ensure the adoption of meaningful and constructive policies and programs affecting agriculture. Those guiding principles include calling for policies that support science-based research, voluntary incentive-based conservation programs, investment in infrastructure, and solutions that ensure vibrant rural communities and a healthy planet.

The coalition says farmers and ranchers are committed stewards of the land, leading the way to climate-smart farming by promoting soil health, conserving water, enhancing wildlife, using nutrients efficiently, and caring for their animals.