Ag Update - April 17_ 2009

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					Ag Update - April 17, 2009

         Subject: Ag Update - April 17, 2009
         From: Nebraska Department of Agriculture <>
         Date: Fri, 17 Apr 2009 12:29:51 -0500
         To: Nebraska Department of Agriculture <>

                             Nebraska Department of Agriculture
                              Ag Update – April 17, 2009

         ‘AFBF: Market-oriented focus needed in
         climate change bill’
         ( The American Farm Bureau Federation (AFBF) says they support a market-based
         incentive program rather than a government-mandated program to address the issue of climate
         change. AFBF outlined its goals for climate change legislation in a 29-question survey recently sent
         to the House Agriculture Committee. The committee had asked AFBF and other farm groups to
         complete the questionnaire before hearings are held on climate change legislation.

         In the questionnaire, AFBF President Bob Stallman emphasized that Congress should not enact
         legislation mandating carbon emission reductions to levels not justified by sound, peer-reviewed
         science and that any legislation designed to reduce carbon emissions must make sure the costs

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Ag Update - April 17, 2009

         don’t outweigh the benefits.
         For more on this story, please visit:

         ‘Vilsack to bring up beef with Japan at G8 this
         ( Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack will hold bi-lateral meetings with agriculture
         ministers from Japan, Egypt and Russia while attending the Group of Eight Agricultural Ministerial
         meeting in Italy that begins on Saturday, USDA said in a news release.

         "I hope to have at least a brief conversation about how we can reassure the Japanese market that
         we have quality beef that should be available to their consumers," Vilsack told reporters on
         Wednesday. "We obviously have work to do in terms of convincing our trading partners that we
         have the highest quality and best prices," Reuters quoted him as saying.
         For more on this story, please visit:

         ‘EPA seeks comment on boosting ethanol
         blend to 15 percent’
         ( The Environmental Protection Agency said it will seek public comments on a
         waiver application to increase the amount of ethanol that can be blended into a gallon of gasoline to
         up to 15 percent of volume (E15).

         Since 1978, the limit has been at 10 percent ethanol (E10) for conventional (non flex-fuel) vehicles.
         The comment period will be open for 30 days after the notice is published in the Federal Register.

         Growth Energy and 54 ethanol manufacturers submitted the E15 application to EPA on March 6.
         The current statute calls for EPA to make a decision within 270 days of receipt, which is Dec. 1.
         For more on this story, please visit:

         ‘Ag groups call for hearings on food price
         (Brownfield) Several ag groups are calling for Congressional hearings on food price increases.

         The request for hearings came during a news conference Thursday to discuss the recent report
         from the Congressional Budget Office regarding ethanol’s impact on food prices. The CBO reported
         that higher corn prices, resulting from expanded production of ethanol, accounted for only 10 to 15

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         percent of the overall increase in food prices last year.

         Tom Buis, CEO of Growth Energy, urges Congress to investigate what’s really behind the food
         price increases. “There were several hearings last year that actually were designed, I think, to
         blame us for higher food prices,” Buis says, “and I would still like to see Congress—those same
         committees—hold hearings again and get to the bottom of it.”

         Roger Johnson, the new president of the National Farmers Union, agrees. “In fact we’d love to see
         the same witnesses that blamed farmers for these higher food prices and ask them why, in the face
         of commodity prices that have fallen by more than half in many cases, why food prices haven’t
         gone down along with them, instead of having gone up,” says Johnson.
         For more on this story, please visit:

         ‘Chinese imports of U.S. corn are a
         (Farm Futures) In a report issued last week by the state-owned China National Grain and Oils
         Information Center, they said China may import corn from the U.S. as prices are now competitive
         compared with local supplies.

         "Right now for corn imports into China there is a 13% value added tax, or VAT, and a 1% duty for a
         14% additional charge," said Cary Sifferath, the China Senior Director for the U.S. Grains Council in
         their Beijing office. "Even with that charge added on top of freight to China, U.S. corn is about even
         to slightly discounted to local Chinese corn into the southern China ports. Because of that, there is
         a possibility that people who have corn import licenses, especially in the south, are currently
         looking at the possibility of importing corn."

         Sifferath says the reason for this is not because China is short of corn. In 2008, the official harvest
         of corn was 165.5 million metric tons, the largest in history. But the Chinese government is buying
         large amounts of corn in northeastern China, which is one of the major producing areas. Sifferath
         says they are doing this to increase the corn price at the farmer level to help insure that farmers
         continue to make money growing corn and other grains, and continue to plant and produce plenty
         of corn this coming year.
         For more on this story, please visit:

         ‘Global food security major topic at G8 ag
         (Farm Futures) Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack and a delegation of U.S. officials are
         discussing food security with counterpart nations in the Group of 8 coalition of nations during a
         three-day agriculture summit in Italy starting Friday. Vilsack calls this meeting of agricultural
         ministers historic, as this is the first time such a meeting has taken place.

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         While the U.S. plans to double aid for food safety across the globe, Vilsack says monetary aid is
         not the only contribution the U.S. is making to address world food security.

         "It is actually making sure that individuals have food that is available. Either available through their
         own work and efforts, or through a robust trade regime, or to the extent that their emergency
         circumstances the way the world responds in food aid," Vilsack said. "It's also not just about
         availability, it's also about access. It's about building economies and understanding and
         appreciating the necessity of having robust economies that allow people the opportunity to
         purchase food."

         In addition to the G8 there will also be oil producing countries and a number of African countries in
         attendance as well as several fast developing nations such as India, Brazil and China. Vilsack says
         those non-G8 nations will have the chance to observe the discussion between delegations on
         Friday and several side discussions.
         For more on this story, please visit:

         ‘Listening tour on animal identification to be
         (Farm Futures) Wednesday in Washington, Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack held a roundtable
         discussion with a variety of stakeholders on the National Animal Identification System.
         Representatives from 28 groups attended the meeting.

         "Much work has been done over the past five years to engage producers in developing an animal
         identification system that they could support," said Vilsack. "However, many of the issues and
         concerns that were initially raised by producers, such as the cost, impact on small farmers, privacy
         and confidentiality and liability, continue to cause debate. In the spirit of President Obama's call for
         transparency in government, now is the time to have frank and open conversations about NAIS. We
         need to work collaboratively to resolve concerns and move forward with animal traceability."

         USDA heard stakeholders concerns from both supporters and opponents of mandatory NAIS and
         also asked for potential or feasible solutions to those concerns. Among the groups against a
         mandatory system in attendance was R-Calf USA, represented by president and CEO Bill Bullard.
         For more on this story, please visit:

         ‘Iowa legislation would set alternative fuel
         (KRVN) The Iowa Senate has passed legislation to take the state a step closer to implementing an
         alternative fuel standard. If approved by the House, the legislation would ensure that the state’s
         diesel fuel contains 5 percent biodiesel. The legislation would add Iowa to a roster of seven other
         states that also have introduced standards to support using cleaner burning, domestically produced

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         For more on this story, please visit:

         ‘DNR director denies request to look at Rep.
         River Basin again’
         (Kearney Hub) Nebraska Department of Natural Resources Director Brian Dunnigan has denied an
         irrigation district's petition that asked him to re-evaluate whether the Republican Basin is

         Dunnigan's order denying the request was signed Monday.

         Frenchman-Cambridge Irrigation District officials wanted him to take another look at whether the
         main stem and tributaries of the Republican River upstream of the Cambridge Diversion Dam are
         overappropriated. That means water uses exceed water supplies.

         "It probably should have been done earlier," Frenchman-Cambridge board President Dale Cramer
         said in an early March interview with the Hub. "Either it should have been (defined as) fully
         appropriated earlier or called overappropriated when they determined it was fully appropriated (July
         16, 2004)."
         For more on this story, please visit:

         ‘Supplies look good for 2009 irrigation
         (Farm and Ranch/Scottsbluff Star-Herald) As of April 13, water conditions for the 2009 irrigation
         season in eastern Wyoming and western Nebraska look favorable.

         Even though the National Weather Service is forecasting a drier than normal April, May and June, a
         few days of precipitation are anticipated later this week and through the weekend.

         Dry conditions don't strike fear into the hearts of irrigators as they might have a few years ago, but
         they are still conditions that generate concern for the future. In recent years, wet spells have
         disappeared almost overnight, and significant rain events have threatened flooding in a matter of a
         few hours.

         Barring any of those extreme conditions, John Lawson, western area manager of the U.S. Bureau
         of Reclamation office in Mills, Wyo., expects a good water supply for the summer. Lawson told
         those attending the annual spring North Platte River water information meeting held in Scottsbluff
         on Tuesday that April through July snowpack runoff is expected to be about 700,000 acre-feet. The
         30-year average for that period is 704,000 acre-feet. In 2008 it was 956,000 acre-feet, due in large
         part to a significant rain event on Memorial Day weekend. In 2007 it was 425,000 acre-feet.
         For more on this story, please visit:

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         ‘Nebraska hosts national conference for small
         food manufacturers’
         (Nebraska Farmer) The Food Processing Center at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln will sponsor
         the first National Small Food Manufacturer Conference April 23-24 in Lincoln.

         Participants from throughout the United States will learn more about the issues and challenges
         facing small food manufacturing businesses.

         "We have created a stimulating agenda designed to provide critical information that will help small
         food manufacturers grow their business and succeed," says Rolando A. Flores, director of center.

         Scheduled speakers include Pierce Hollingsworth, president of Hollingsworth Media and an
         important voice in the publishing of food business journals; Patrick Lynch, the National Association
         of the Specialty Food Trade; Will Betts, the Whole Foods Market; and more.

         Participants also will participate in interactive sessions, explore new opportunities and network with
         peers and industry experts.

         The Food Processing Center is nationally recognized for its support of the food industry since 1983.
         The center has provided technical and business assistance to hundreds of food entrepreneurs and
         manufacturers throughout the country and in many foreign countries.
         For more on this story, please visit:

         ‘NPPD gets 18 Nebraska wind farm proposals’
         (Associated Press / NTV) The Nebraska Public Power District has received 18 proposals to build
         wind farms in central and northeast Nebraska.

         Nine developers submitted the proposals in time for Wednesday's deadline.

         In November, NPPD asked for proposals on developments producing 80 megawatts of wind power
         on sites near Broken Bow and Petersburg. NPPD would then buy the electricity generated.

         NPPD's board will be asked to approve one or more power purchase agreements later this year.

         NPPD has such agreements in place for an 80-megawatt wind farm near Bloomfield and a
         42-megawatt wind farm near Crofton.

         The new wind farm or farms could serve more than 24,000 homes, based on generation from a
         60-megawatt operation near Ainsworth. That operation can power about 19,000 homes
         For more on this story, please visit:

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         ‘UNL Extension recycling pesticide
         (Brownfield) The University of Nebraska Extension Service is recycling plastic pesticide containers.
         It’s the 18th year of the program that helps recycle 1-gallon and 2.5-gallon plastic pesticide
         containers, as well as 15-, 30- and 55-gallon plastic crop protection chemical drums.

         Plastic from the containers is turned into shipping pallets, drain tile, dimension lumber and parking
         lot tire bumpers. Last year, the UNL program helped recycle about 25 tons of containers.
         For more on this story, please visit:

         The Nebraska Department of Agriculture’s “Ag Update” features stories on a variety of agriculture-related
         topics, as reported by media from around the world, and selected by Nebraska Department of Agriculture
         (NDA) staff. Readers wishing to view the full article should see the news source referenced at the beginning
         of the each news item or click on the web links, if provided. NDA is not a news organization an d does not
         have reporters on its staff. Posting of these stories should not be interpreted as an endorseme nt of a
         particular viewpoint, but as a summary of news reported by legitimate news-gathering organizations or from
         press releases sent out by agriculture organizations

         Nebraska Department of Agriculture
         PO Box 94947
         Lincoln, NE 68509

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Ag Update - April 21, 2009

         Subject: Ag Update - April 21, 2009
         From: Nebraska Department of Agriculture <>
         Date: Tue, 21 Apr 2009 15:11:08 -0500
         To: Nebraska Department of Agriculture <>

                                       Nebraska Department of Agriculture
                                        Ag Update – April 21, 2009
         ‘Will a phony carbon footprint crush the
         biofuels industry?’
         (Agriculture Online) Biofuel supporters are worried that the EPA is going to use convoluted logic to
         make ethanol and biodiesel look worse than petroleum when it updates the 2007 Energy Bill's
         Renewable Fuel Standard this year. The snag is a theory that every U.S. corn or soybean acre
         devoted to ethanol or biodiesel means an acre of tropical rainforest is being cut down somewhere
         to offset it and grow food. Deforestation puts greenhouse gases into the atmosphere.

         Under the law, biofuels have to show that they reduce greenhouse gases compared to
         petroleum-based fuels. Biodiesel has to be 50% better than diesel fuel, says Ray Gaesser, a
         Corning, Iowa, farmer who is a vice president of the American Soybean Association.

         The Energy Department estimates it's 78% better, Gaesser says. But EPA's interpretation of
         indirect land use makes it only 24%.
         For more on this story, please visit:

         ‘Corn planting just ahead of ’08 pace, USDA
         (Agriculture Online) Farmers say planting progress in the Corn Belt is variable at best. On Monday
         afternoon, USDA officials verified that bumpy progress.

         In its weekly Crop Progress report, USDA-NASS indicated 5% of the nation's corn crop is in the
         ground compared to 4% at this time last year. This year's number is almost 10% behind the
         previous five-year average.

         But, '09 planting thus far isn't a carbon-copy of last year; Monday's report shows better progress in
         some states and a slower pace in others. In Iowa, for example, 6% of the crop was in the ground as
         of Sunday versus last year at this time, when planting had yet to begin there. On the other hand,
         planting is behind last year's pace in states like Kentucky and Tennessee.
         For more on this story, please visit:

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         ‘Midwest corn farmers battling wet field blues’
         (Associated Press / Omaha World-Herald) Ed Mies would like to plant corn on his central Illinois
         farm by now, but instead he has time to talk about how wet his fields are.

         "We're not quite waxing tractors yet," he joked last week.

         Farmers across a wide stretch of the Midwest find themselves in similar shape: talking, watching
         and waiting rather than planting, thanks to a cool, wet spring.

         "We're all sitting on pins and needles waiting for it to dry out," said Bob Nielsen, a Purdue
         University agronomy professor. Most of Indiana's fields are too wet to plant.

         It reminds some of 2008, when the crop went in a month or more late in many states and prices -
         just as ethanol and booming economies overseas drove up demand - went through the roof.

         Farmers rode a yo-yo that had them waiting, then planting late, then replanting in many cases as
         fields flooded, and finally watching and waiting again to see if they could harvest crops seeded as
         late as June before the first frost.
         For more on this story, please visit:

         ‘S.K. inspectors give U.S. meatpackers
         thumbs up’
         ( U.S. meat packers that ship beef to South Korea are conforming to legal safety
         and sanitation standards, South Korean government inspectors said Monday, according to Yonhap.

         Officials from the National Veterinary Research and Quarantine Service (NVRQS), who conducted
         on-site inspections of 22 U.S. meat companies from March 29 through early last week, said all
         facilities were properly removing specified risk materials (SRMs) and had standard sanitation
         operating procedures and hazard analysis systems in place to ferret out meat that could pose
         health problems, Yonhap reported.

         The 10-person group of three teams said the U.S. meat packers were enforcing rules on downer
         cattle and were taking steps to differentiate the butchering process for animals over 30 months old.

         The inspections are a follow-up to a revised beef trade pact reached last year that eased Seoul's
         restrictions on imports of U.S. beef. South Korea allows shipments of U.S. beef from cattle younger
         than 30-months of age.
         For more on this story, please visit:

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         ‘Economist: Cattle prices predicted to
         increase in time’
         ( Cattle prices are likely to increase over time, said Chris Hurt, Purdue University
         Extension marketing specialist.

         "The magnitude of price improvement may be robust at some point in 2010 as beef cow numbers
         continue to drop, beef exports continue to improve, and the world economy begins to heal," Hurt
         said. "A return to finished cattle prices of $1 per pound or higher seems probable as per capita beef
         supplies will be low and competitive meat supplies will drop as well."

         However, for the present Hurt noted that as much of the agricultural sector is taking a big hit from
         the recessionary economy, the beef sector is no exception.

         "Weak retail demand has lowered finished cattle prices," he noted. "The magnitude of the hit is hard
         to measure precisely, but consider that late last summer the price outlook for the first quarter of
         2009 was for finished steers to average about $94 per hundredweight.

         "As the economy weakened, cattle prices fell and only averaged $81.50 in the January to March
         quarter. A reduced price of $12.50 per hundredweight represents a revenue reduction of $750
         million in the first quarter alone."

         Cattle prices have paralleled the decline, and more recent recovery, in the U.S. stock market, he
         added. Since September, the Dow Jones Industrial Average index and finished cattle prices have
         been nearly 90 percent correlated using weekly data.
         For more on this story, please visit:

         ‘Brasher: Pesticide ruling puzzles farmers
         who spray’
         (Des Moines Register) Farm groups are buzzing over an appeals court ruling that could require
         growers and pesticide applicators to have permits for some uses of herbicides and insecticides.

         The ruling, which struck down a Bush administration decision, said insecticides and herbicides
         should be regulated as a pollutant when they are sprayed over or by ponds, streams and drainage

         The Obama administration declined to appeal the ruling but has asked the 6th U.S. Court of
         Appeals in Cincinnati to give the Environmental Protection Agency two years to implement it.

         How big a deal this is, and to whom, remains to be seen.

         Jim Pray, a Des Moines lawyer who represented the Agribusiness Association of Iowa in the case,
         said most farm pesticide usage in the Midwest should be exempt from permits.

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         "It's a very limited ruling, which is great for us and Iowa agriculture," Pray said.

         Still, Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack warned the agency last month that the ruling "will have
         profound implications for American farmers" and require farmers to have permits for "almost any
         pesticide application."
         For more on this story, please visit:

         ‘EPA says global warming might benefit
         certain crops’
         (Des Moines Register) In moving toward regulation of greenhouse gases, the Environmental
         Protection Agency argued that agricultural production could be harmed by a warmer climate but
         acknowledged that there could be some benefits to crops.

         Citing scientific reports, the agency allowed that some crops will initially benefit from rising
         temperatures and carbon dioxide levels. But the agency said yields of corn and other commodities
         could fall as the climate continues to warm and some areas experience more frequent droughts.

         Moreover, fruit and vegetable yields are "very likely to be more sensitive to climate change than
         grain and oilseed crops," the agency said. The agency cited the potential agricultural impact in a
         long-awaited proposed finding that greenhouse gas emissions endanger the public health and
         welfare. The finding, released Friday, is the first step toward imposing reductions on emissions of
         carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases.

         The move is intended to keep pressure on Congress to enact a cap-and-trade system for curbing
         emissions. Under such a system, utilities, manufacturers and companies would have to reduce their
         emissions or else buy allowances.
         For more on this story, please visit:

         ‘NCGA files comments with California Air
         Resources Board’
         (KRVN) The National Corn Growers Association has submitted formal comments to the California
         Air Resources Board - pointing out flaws in the group’s proposed low carbon fuel standard. NCGA
         says the proposed standard could severely harm the domestic biofuels industry and increase
         reliance on foreign oil. NCGA President Bob Dickey says the nation’s corn growers are eager to
         play a central role in the decarbonization of transportation fuel - but if adopted as currently
         proposed - the standard will undercut a tremendous opportunity to spur economic growth in ag
         communities and reduce carbon emissions with American farming.
         For more on this story, please visit:

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         ‘Legislation introduced to protect livestock
         from greenhouse regs’
         (KNEB) Nebraska Senator and former Secretary of Agriculture Mike Johanns has co-sponsored
         legislation that would protect animal agriculture from any greenhouse gas regulations promulgated
         by EPA. Last Friday, EPA announced it had determined that greenhouse gases may endanger
         public health or welfare. The ruling faces a 60-day public comment period.

         Johanns points out that - for a state like Nebraska, which ranks first in the nation in commercial red
         meat production, this EPA proposal could have devastating consequences. He said, - this 'cow tax'
         could cost farmers and ranchers tens of thousands of dollars per farm per year.
         For more on this story, please visit:

         ‘Ag economy taking a big hit in 2009’
         (Farm Futures) After two boom years for net farm income, 2009 is going to see a retrenchment as
         farmers deal with softer crop prices and lagging livestock returns. That was one of the messages
         delivered by James Hrobovcak, USDA deputy chief economist, during a presentation this week in
         Washington DC.

         Hrobovcak says the agency is still forecasting net cash income at $77 billion, a drop of $16 billion
         from 2008 but "still high from historical measures" he says. And farmers have strong balance
         sheets with debt at 9.1% of total assets versus the ag economic debacle during the 1980s.

         During a media discussion, Hrobovcak covered a wide range of topics, but there were two
         interesting areas that farmers should keep an eye on. First is the move by California and its
         low-carbon fuel standard. There's been quite a bit of talk about this standard which will not only
         measure direct carbon from the making of a renewable fuel, but also include potential land-use
         changes as well. That means looking at the "indirect emissions" including the greenhouse gas
         profile, he says.

         He explains that if California adopts a strict land use change standard, "zero amount of corn based
         ethanol from the Midwest" will go to the state. California currently has 11 to 12% of the U.S.
         gasoline consumption. Add in that 11 Northeast states will adopt the new California standard, once
         established - which would add another 30% of gas use that would lock out Midwest-based ethanol.
         For more on this story, please visit:

         ‘Bison-meat demand more than supply’
         (Meat and Poultry) Demand for bison meat far outweighs the supply, said Ralph Mahoney, a
         Fulton, S.D., man who has raised bison for 47 years. Mr. Mahoney told The Associated Press that

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         the demand for the low-cholesterol bison meat should increase, as society becomes more

         Bison meat was previously a challenging product to sell, which led many "hobby" producers to drop

         According to the most recent numbers from the U.S. Department of Agriculture, South Dakota was
         the nation's top producer of bison in 2008, with an inventory of 38,700 head — which is twice as
         much compared to the No. 2 state, Nebraska. North Dakota was third with an inventory of 15,900
         For more on this story, please visit:

         ‘Changes to food safety system
         recommended by report’
         (Farm Futures) A report issued by the George Washington University School of Public Health and
         Health Service says local and state health officials trying to prevent food illness outbreaks are
         stymied by scarce resources, weak leadership from the federal government and bureaucratic
         barriers. Michael Taylor, who authored the study and teaches at the school, says Congress needs
         to take responsibility for telling the government what its job is. The study urges Congress to invest
         at least $350 million over five years to bolster under-funded state and local agencies and ensure a
         basic level of food safety in each state.

         The report says the bulk of food safety work is performed by about 3,000 local and state agencies,
         which handle everything from inspections of restaurants, food processing plants and grocery stores
         to detecting outbreaks and removing unsafe products from stores. The analysis describes a
         fractured collection of food safety professionals all trying to do the same thing but their efforts are
         hampered by weak coordination, poor communication, varying abilities, inconsistent methods and a
         lack of federal leadership.
         For more on this story, please visit:

         ‘Nebraskans celebrate state’s first ethanol
         blender pumps’
         (Brownfield) Nebraska corn producers and ethanol supporters gathered in Grand Island Friday to
         celebrate the grand opening of the state’s first ethanol blender pumps.

         The six ethanol blender pumps at the Bosselman’s station on Allen Drive in Grand Island give
         drivers of flex-fuel vehicles (FFV) the option of using E85, E30, E20 or the traditional E10 blend of

         Becki Keeshan of Grand Island was pumping E85 into her Chevy Tahoe at the special grand
         opening price of one dollar per gallon. “My husband works in the ethanol industry, so I’m trying to

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Ag Update - April 21, 2009

         support him as much as possible,” Keeshan says, “and also my vehicle does get real good gas
         mileage on the E85 blend.”

         Unfortunately, Keeshan was one of the few drivers punching the E85 button on the blender pump
         on Friday. Most customers still drove non-flex fuel vehicles and we’re pumping E10. Nebraska Corn
         Board chair Jon Holzfaster of Paxton says it will take some time to educate the public on the new
         For more on this story, please visit:

         ‘Stimulus funds will rebuild Blackwood Creek
         (McCook Daily Gazette) A dam on the Blackwood Creek south of Hayes Center will receive $2
         million in federal stimulus funds aimed at improving U.S. infrastructure.

         A press release from the U.S. Department of Agriculture indicates that the Blackwood project is
         among 55 projects nationwide receiving $84.8 million in USDA stimulus funds to improve water
         quality and flood mitigation, increase water supply, decrease soil erosion and improve fish and
         wildlife habitat.

         The Blackwood dam was built in 1985, and failed in August 2008 after two days of heavy rain. A
         spokesman for the Natural Resources Conservation Service said it is believed the $2 million will
         cover construction costs.

         Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack said April 16 that federal funding for rural projects "will make a
         big difference in the lives of the people who live in these rural communities."

         A second project funded with federal recovery act money is on Colorado's Beaver Creek, which
         also flows through Southwest Nebraska.
         For more on this story, please visit:

         ‘PETA responds to carriage crash’
         (Nebraska City News-Press) Mayor Jack Hobbie says he does not anticipate a recent letter from
         People for Ethical Treatment of Animals to result in any official actions regarding horse-drawn
         carriages in Nebraska City.

         PETA’s Desiree Acholla said the animal advocacy group sent the mayor a letter after learning of an
         April 3 accident involving a horse drawn carriage at the Lied Lodge and Conference Center parking

         Police report the carriage was traveling east in the parking lot when something spooked a horse
         and caused it “to take off rapidly.”

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         The carriage, driven by 32-year-old Joel Hadden of Sidney, hit a curb with the passenger side
         wheels, flinging debris into a car parked nearby.

         In its letter to the mayor, PETA says that although no one was injured in the Nebraska City
         accident, that is not always the case.

         PETA points out that similar incidents have occurred in nearly every city in which horse-drawn
         carriages are still permitted to operate, often causing fatalities and serious injuries to horses,
         motorists, onlookers, carriage operators, and carriage riders.
         For more on this story, please visit:

         The Nebraska Department of Agriculture’s “Ag Update” features stories on a variety of agriculture-related
         topics, as reported by media from around the world, and selected by Nebraska Department of Agriculture
         (NDA) staff. Readers wishing to view the full article should see the news source referenced at the beginning
         of the each news item or click on the web links, if provided. NDA is not a news organization an d does not
         have reporters on its staff. Posting of these stories should not be interpreted as an endorseme nt of a
         particular viewpoint, but as a summary of news reported by legitimate news-gathering organizations or from
         press releases sent out by agriculture organizations

         Nebraska Department of Agriculture
         PO Box 94947
         Lincoln, NE 68509

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Ag Update - April 23, 2009

         Subject: Ag Update - April 23, 2009
         From: Nebraska Department of Agriculture <>
         Date: Thu, 23 Apr 2009 13:35:46 -0500
         To: Nebraska Department of Agriculture <>

                                      Nebraska Department of Agriculture
                                       Ag Update – April 23, 2009
         ‘U.S. gives EU more time on beef dispute’
         ( The United States and European Union agreed Wednesday to extend
         discussions involving a decades-old beef dispute and postpone retaliatory U.S. duties on EU
         products, according to a report by Reuters.

         "The EU and the U.S. have agreed to extend the deadline for the retaliatory actions by at least two
         weeks until May 8," an EU source was quoted as saying. "Talks will begin in earnest on Monday in

         Last month, Washington decided to delay the duties until April 23 after Brussels offered a deal that
         would double from 11,500 metric tons the quota for non-hormone-treated U.S. beef in Europe in
         exchange for eliminating the U.S. duties on EU products.
         For more on this story, please visit:

         ‘Vilsack: Climate law aids farms’
         (Des Moines Register) Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack says climate legislation should be a "net
         winner" for farmers, although details that will determine how much growers get paid for offsetting
         greenhouse gas emissions are yet to be worked out.

         Payments to farmers could hinge in part on the extent to which emission allowances for
         greenhouse gases are sold or given away to utilities and other polluters, Vilsack said Tuesday.

         He listed numerous issues yet to be addressed, such as how carbon-saving measures on farms are
         to be analyzed and verified.

         Democrats in Congress are preparing bills that would address climate change by placing caps on
         emissions of carbon dioxide, methane and other greenhouse gases. Companies that exceed the
         limits would have to obtain allowances or buy credits elsewhere. One source of the credits could be
         farmers who have cut carbon emissions by reducing their tillage or capturing methane from
         livestock manure.

         Giving the allowances away instead of selling them would soften the blow on emitters and on
         energy prices, but it would reduce demand for the credits and produce less revenue for the

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Ag Update - April 23, 2009

         Farmers need to benefit from the credit system "in a comprehensive and significant way," Vilsack
         said in a meeting with members of North American Agricultural Journalists. "I think we have a lot to
         For more on this story, please visit:

         ‘Nelson says Congress should clip EPA
         (Lincoln Journal Star) Sen. Ben Nelson on Wednesday expressed concern that the Environmental
         Protection Agency may be moving toward regulation of greenhouse gases without congressional

         If that’s so, Nelson said, “we’ll just clip their wings legislatively.”

         Nelson said he’s “absolutely opposed” to any Obama administration effort to bypass Congress on
         the global warming issue.

         “It’s the responsibility of Congress to make these decisions,” the Democratic senator said during a
         telephone conference call from Washington.

         “Just because (the administration) is unlikely to get cap and trade provisions doesn’t justify EPA to
         go ahead and do what Congress absolutely would not do.”
         For more on this story, please visit:

         ‘Bill banning antibiotics in California animals
         passes committee’
         (KNEB) A bill introduced in California that would ban antibiotics from meat and poultry in that state
         passed out of a Senate committee Tuesday by a vote of 3 to 1. The measure, written by Senate
         Majority Leader Dean Florez, would phase out the use of non-therapeutic antibiotics in animals
         meant for human consumption. SB 416 would prohibit schools in California from serving meat or
         poultry treated with non-therapeutic antibiotics after January 1, 2012. By 2015, the ban would apply
         to any animal raised for human consumption in the state.

         In a news release issued following the vote, Florez said, - we tell people to take antibiotics only as
         prescribed for the very reason that they not develop resistance to these drugs they may need when
         they are truly sick.
         For more on this story, please visit:

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Ag Update - April 23, 2009

         ‘Texas group to sue feds for putting biolab in
         (Associated Press / Omaha World-Herald) A group of Texas research facilities announced
         Wednesday that it plans to sue the Department of Homeland Security over its selection of a Kansas
         site for a planned $450 million biodefense laboratory, claiming political connections led federal
         officials to overlook the site's tornado risk.

         The Texas Biological and Agro-Defense Consortium, a group of regional research institutions that
         tried to win the facility for San Antonio, filed a notice of its intent to sue in the U.S. Court of Federal
         Claims, the venue for lawsuits against the U.S. government. The notice is mandatory before an
         actual lawsuit, which was expected to be filed Thursday.

         The Texas consortium's chairman, John Kerr, called the selection of the Manhattan, Kan., site
         "grossly irresponsible, the equivalent of playing Russian roulette with Mother Nature."

         He said the site was improperly chosen because DHS ignored the high risk of tornadoes in the
         region, pointing to a tornado with 200 mph winds that struck the site last year. Kerr said damage to
         the facility could cause the release of deadly airborne pathogens - an allegation disputed by
         Kansas officials.
         For more on this story, please visit:

         ‘FDA confirms April 27 effective date for final
         feed ban’
         ( The Food and Drug Administration on Wednesday afternoon confirmed the
         effective date of April 27 for the final rule banning cattle materials at a high risk of carrying bovine
         spongiform encephalopathy from all animal feed.

         The agency also established Oct. 26 as an extended date by which renderers and packers must be
         in compliance with the rule, which was initially published in the Federal Register on April 25, 2008.

         FDA had proposed delaying the April 27, 2009, effective date by two months and allowed a
         week-long comment period after industry organizations turned up the volume on concerns about
         the disposal of prohibited cattle materials and difficulties in modifying operations to comply with the

         FDA said it received comments from more than 400 organizations and individuals on the proposed
         delay of the effective date. In general, opponents of the delay cited a heightened risk of BSE to
         U.S. consumers and cattle herds and proponents of the delay cited the need for more time to come
         up with alternative methods of disposal.
         For more on this story, please visit:

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Ag Update - April 23, 2009

         ‘Crop insurance works well, but could be
         (Farm Futures) The House Agriculture Subcommittee on General Agriculture and Risk
         Management held a hearing Wednesday to review the federal crop insurance program. Several
         witnesses presented testimony and answered questions by the committee.

         "Crop insurance generally is working fairly well," said National Farmers Union President Roger
         Johnson. "Lots of folks carry it and that's a very good thing, we want to encourage them to carry it."

         American Farm Bureau Federation President Bob Stallman agreed with Johnson that for the most
         part the crop insurance program works well for most producers.

         "Participation in the program hovers at about 80% of eligible acres," Stallman said. "In addition,
         about 85% of the insured acreage is now covered by a buy-up policy rather than simply a
         catastrophic policy. Our farmers and ranchers are annually provided more than $90 billion in risk
         management protection, up from $31 billion in protection just 10 years ago."

         Johnson also stressed the importance of the Supplemental Agricultural Disaster Assistance
         program that was established in the 2008 Farm Bill. He told the committee it was very important
         that should they change the crop insurance program they be cognizant of that provision because
         the two are very closely linked.

         Both Johnson and Stallman also talked to the committee about shallow loss provisions under the
         crop insurance program, which the permanent disaster program was designed to deal with.
         For more on this story, please visit:

         ‘FDA research could result in avian flu
         detection tests’
         (Meat and Poultry) Important insights into how to combat the potentially lethal H5N1avian influenza
         virus have been provided by an in-depth analysis of blood from patients recovering from the lethal
         virus. Findings could help develop new tests to detect infection, as well as new tools to study H5N1
         vaccines, researchers said.

         Findings by U.S. Food and Drug Administration scientists and collaborators better explain what part
         of the "bird flu" virus is seen by the immune system once a person becomes infected. A protein of
         the bird flu virus called PB1-F2 was identified, as one result of this research, as a potentially potent
         target for attack by human immune systems to stop the spread of the virus.

         "Analysis of blood from patients recovering from the H5N1 avian influenza virus can lead to new
         tools for testing the potential protective activity of vaccines under development," said Karen
         Midthun, M.D., acting director of the F.D.A.’s Center for Biologics Evaluation and Research. "The
         findings could also lead to new tests to detect infections, and improved therapies."

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Ag Update - April 23, 2009

         For more on this story, please visit:

         ‘Program in veterinary medicine approaches
         (Nebraska Farmer) A program that enables the University of Nebraska-Lincoln to help educate
         future veterinarians has reached a milestone. Twenty-four students in the inaugural class of the
         Professional Program in Veterinary Medicine offered by Iowa State University and UNL have
         completed the UNL portion of the program in May and begin the ISU portion this fall.

         The cooperative program is a national model and is attracting interest from universities in other
         states, says David Hardin, head of the Department of Veterinary and Biomedical Sciences at UNL
         and associate dean of the program.

         The program, also known as the 2+2 program, was developed between UNL and ISU and began in
         2007. Nebraska students accepted into the program attend classes at UNL for the first two years,
         then move to ISU to complete their veterinary degree.

         Johanna Fithian of Elkhorn, one of the Nebraska students completing the first half of the program,
         says it was such an attractive program that it was the only one she considered. "We're paving the
         way for future Nebraska students to become veterinarians, and our experience will be applied to
         make their journey that much smoother."

         The 2+2 program allows Nebraska students to continue paying the in-state tuition rate during their
         ISU studies. The state of Nebraska pays the difference between the two rates to ISU.

         "The small class size, individual attention, in-state tuition and smaller applicant pool were a few of
         the things that drew me to Lincoln," says Robert Reid of Crawford.

         The 2+2 program currently is the only such program in the country.
         For more on this story, please visit:

         ‘Farm land values continue slide’
         (Agriculture Online) A decade-long trend in farm land values has reversed and is now trending the
         other way, with downward price pressures continuing to weigh on the market, specialists say.

         Factors like a drop in the number of large capital expenditures and lower commodity prices have
         converged to cause a leveling-off or drop in farmland prices in states like Ohio, where values had
         been trending sharply higher until last year.

         "Input costs are lagging commodity prices and both producers and landowners are now in a
         squeeze," says Ohio State University (OSU) Extension economist Barry Ward. "High commodity

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Ag Update - April 23, 2009

         prices and relatively low input costs drove up profits in 2007 and 2008, but this year is not the case.
         We are unlikely to see those profit margins in 2009."
         For more on this story, please visit:

         ‘CARB meets to set low carbon fuels
         (Brownfield) The California Air Resources Board—CARB—is meeting in Sacramento today and
         Friday. The main order of business—a decision on the state’s low carbon fuels standard.

         Corn, soybean and ethanol groups, scientists, and others have been trying to convince the
         California board that they should not use an indirect land use formula in determining carbon scores
         for biofuels. Many fear the models being considered by CARB could effectively eliminate California
         from using any ethanol from the Midwest.

         And there could be ripple effects as well. Jamey Cline, biofuels director for the National Corn
         Growers Association, says several other states, as well as the federal government, are watching
         the California decision very closely.
         For more on this story, please visit:

         ‘EPA releases review of climate bill’
         (KRVN) After declaring that carbon emissions were a threat to human health, the Environmental
         Protection Agency has given high marks to the climate bill put forward by the House Energy
         committee. According to the EPA, the Waxman-Markey bill, also known as the American Clean
         Energy and Security Act of 2009, will - drive the clean energy transformations of the U.S. economy,
         - and substantially reduce energy consumption and carbon emissions.

         The E.P.A. focused its analysis on the bill’s proposed cap-and-trade mechanism. It assumes that
         carbon prices would range from 13 to 17 dollars a ton in 2015, and would rise by about 5 percent a
         year. By 2020, carbon costs would reach 17 to 22 dollars a ton. That is approximately what
         participants in a European Union cap-and-trade program are currently paying.
         For more on this story, please visit:

         The Nebraska Department of Agriculture’s “Ag Update” features stories on a variety of agriculture-related
         topics, as reported by media from around the world, and selected by Nebraska Department of Agriculture
         (NDA) staff. Readers wishing to view the full article should see the news source referenced at the beginning
         of the each news item or click on the web links, if provided. NDA is not a news organization an d does not
         have reporters on its staff. Posting of these stories should not be interpreted as an endorseme nt of a
         particular viewpoint, but as a summary of news reported by legitimate news-gathering organizations or from

6 of 7                                                                                                                                           5/13/2009 11:45 AM
Ag Update - April 23, 2009

         press releases sent out by agriculture organizations

         Nebraska Department of Agriculture
         PO Box 94947
         Lincoln, NE 68509

7 of 7                                                          5/13/2009 11:45 AM
Ag Update - April 28, 2009

         Subject: Ag Update - April 28, 2009
         From: Nebraska Department of Agriculture <>
         Date: Tue, 28 Apr 2009 16:52:44 -0500
         To: Nebraska Department of Agriculture <>

                                     Nebraska Department of Agriculture
                                      Ag Update – April 28, 2009
         ‘Corn, soybeans, wheat drop as swine flu may
         cut animal feed use’
         (Bloomberg) Soybean prices tumbled the most in two months, and grain futures fell on speculation
         that a swine- flu outbreak will curb demand for livestock feed and pork.
         The World Health Organization will raise its pandemic alert to an unprecedented level today, saying
         that swine flu is spreading across North America, two people familiar with the agency said. Hog and
         pork-belly futures plunged 3 cents a pound, the most allowed by the Chicago Mercantile Exchange.
         Several nations banned pork from Mexico and the U.S.

         “A pandemic could slow economic activity, cutting into demand for all commodities, grain included,”
         Dale Durchholz, a senior market analyst at AgriVisor LLC in Bloomington, Illinois, said in an e-mail.
         “Some in the grain trade fear this could adversely affect world pork trade, cutting into feed

         Soybean futures for July delivery fell 37 cents, or 3.6 percent, to $9.97 a bushel on the Chicago
         Board of Trade. The drop was the biggest for a most-active contract since Feb. 17. The price has
         dropped 25 percent in the past 12 months.

         Corn futures for July delivery declined 5 cents, or 1.3 percent, to $3.8075 a bushel. Earlier, the
         price fell as much as 4.1 percent. The grain has declined 36 percent in the past year.
         For more on this story, please visit:

         ‘No reason to ban U.S. pork exports, Vilsack
         (Brownfield) Hog and pork markets have declined sharply so far this week – and one reason is
         they’re reacting to China and Russia banning U.S. pork exports. U.S. Ag Secretary Tom Vilsack
         says there’s no real reason for those bans, “I think it’s important to emphasize that swine flu viruses
         are not transmitted by food, so a person can’t get swine flu from eating pork or pork products. Our
         trading partners should know as we do that cooking pork to an internal temperatures kills all viruses
         and all foodborne pathogens. So if you eat properly handled and properly cooked pork or pork
         products, it’s safe. So we’re reaching out to make sure our trading partners are fully aware of that.
         We believe we should be able to continue doing business for our pork industry and for our pork
         products.” Vilsack says he’ll keep sending that message to U.S. pork customers.

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Ag Update - April 28, 2009

         The U.S. exports pork to 80 nations and the US Meat Export Federation says it’s working with all
         sectors of the pork industry and US trade officials to assure trading partners that US pork is safe.
         USMEF President and CEO Philip Seng says the reaction so far has been mixed, “We’ve had
         countries who have actually announced that they want to either close their markets temporarily or
         basically keep their markets regulated through 100 percent testing of shipments coming in. So we
         feel that we need to get information as quickly as possible to these central authorities in these
         For more on this story, please visit:

         ‘Industry battles social media over flu
         ( The pork industry was facing plenty of challenges before the swine flu outbreak
         became a story over the weekend. Now the industry is attempting to engage — and correct — the
         vast social media networks that are spreading misinformation about the virus.

         Bloggers, Facebook posts and Twitter are among the non-moderated networks through which
         many consumers spread information about and read up on issues. By Monday afternoon,
         Facebook had more than 100 "group" Web pages dedicated to swine flu.

         Wrote one Facebook poster: "MmMmM BACON. & all you have to deal with is a little fever nausea
         and diarrhea and a chance of death but other than that your cool!" (sic).

         Among bloggers, a large number are spreading the word from the CDC, WHO and the Obama
         administration that the virus is mis-named, treatable with medicines such as Tamiflu and unrelated
         to swine so far.

         Others, however, are picking up and repeating a story that appeared in a Mexican newspaper near
         the town where the outbreak seems to have started, in which residents (not the authorities) blame a
         nearby pig production facility.
         For more on this story, please visit:

         ‘Corn planting progress varies greatly’
         (Farm Futures) Wet conditions have been abundant this spring and much of the country is likely to
         receive more precipitation this week, but farmers made substantial inroads in corn planting during
         the past week.

         "Nationally more than one-sixth of the corn was planted last week," said USDA meteorologist Brad
         Rippey. "Nationally it's reached 22% planted. Still a little bit behind the five-year average of 28%,
         but still several favorable days in the main planting areas."

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         Several states are well ahead of the national average. Rippey says there was tremendous progress
         in Iowa with 41% planted last week and 47% overall. Minnesota is another state that is ahead of
         schedule with 40% of their corn planted. However there are also states behind the national
         For more on this story, please visit:

         ‘Canada to move ahead with challenge of
         ( Canada will now pursue a case via the WTO against the U.S. over mandatory
         Country of Origin Labeling (COOL) of meat and meat products. Canada's International Trade
         Minister Stockwell Day said Canada has now given the U.S. notice it is filing the complaint.

         Under WTO rules, this activates a 60-day consultation period where the two sides are to meet to
         see if a solution can be found. If not, Canada can request a dispute settlement panel be established
         to look into their claims relative to COOL.

         "By giving formal notification of the consultation period, it says, 'We think this is offside,' " Day said
         at the Canadian embassy.

         Initial rules announced for COOL were viewed as flexible enough to avoid Canadian meat from
         being "unfairly" targeted, Day said. But the injection of a request by USDA Sec. Tom Vilsack to U.S.
         meatpackers to voluntarily adhere to even stricter rules has caused uncertainty among Canadian
         For more on this story, please visit:

         ‘California adopts low carbon fuel standard
         that could penalize corn-based ethanol’
         (Agriculture Online) By a vote of nine to one the California Air Resources Board Thursday evening
         approved a low carbon fuel standard that gives gasoline a slight edge over Midwestern corn-based
         ethanol as the state tries to move away from petroleum. Other sources of power for vehicles,
         including electricity and natural gas, would have an immediate advantage over gasoline or ethanol,
         under the way the standard measures the potential effect of fuels on global warming.

         John Telles, a medical doctor who represents the San Joaquin Valley, was the lone dissenter. He
         said that with some cities in California's Central Valley suffering 42% unemployment, he was
         concerned about the uncertain economic impact of changes in fuel use. The Board's staff
         anticipates no major economic effects but Telles wondered what would happen if food and fuel
         costs went up. "No place in the document does it say what we would do if that were to occur," he

         He said he was also concerned about the reliability of computer modeling that showed indirect land

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Ag Update - April 28, 2009

         use triggered by corn ethanol adding 30 points to corn ethanol's carbon footprint, bringing it to 99.4
         grams of carbon dioxide equivalent for every megajoule, a measure of energy, in the fuel.
         For more on this story, please visit:

         ‘House approves legislation to improve water
         (Farm Futures) The U.S. House has passed H.R. 1145, the "National Water Research and
         Development Act of 2009." The legislation is designed to improve the federal government's role in
         implementing federal water research, development, demonstration, data collection and
         dissemination to address changes in U.S. water use, supply and demand. This initiative calls for an
         interagency committee led by the U.S. Department of Commerce's National Oceanic and
         Atmospheric Administration. The bill now heads to the Senate.

         Irrigation Association Federal Affairs Director John Farner says this legislation is a definite step in
         the right direction in coordinating our federal resources to ensure our nation addresses water
         research in a responsible manner. According to Farner continued dialogue surrounding water use,
         supply and demand and how water-use efficiency can play a key role in our nation's water
         management debate is necessary.

         The Irrigation Association is the leading membership organization for irrigation equipment and
         system manufacturers, dealers, distributors, designers, consultants, contractors and end users.
         For more on this story, please visit:

         ‘Farmers, NPPD spar over water’
         (Associated Press / Columbus Telegram) The latest round in an ongoing battle over control of
         Nebraska’s water has landed in the state’s highest court.

         The Nebraska Supreme Court will hear arguments Wednesday in one of several pending attempts
         to thwart the Nebraska Public Power District’s efforts to use water rights that went unused for

         The case is one of a growing number of conflicts over water management in Nebraska prompted by
         increased demand for water at the same time supplies in some areas dwindle.

         If the high court agrees with irrigators, the case will go back to the state Department of Natural

         And that’s OK with department officials, who have reversed course on their decision not to consider
         irrigators’ argument that NPPD shouldn’t be able to claim the water rights.

         The case began in 2007, when the department ordered hundreds of farmers and ranchers to shut
         off their surface water and groundwater irrigation pumps because NPPD wanted to exercise its

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Ag Update - April 28, 2009

         water rights.
         For more on this story, please visit:

         ‘CRP income threatened without contract
         (Farm and Ranch/Scottsbluff Star-Herald) Area farmers and landowners are gathering their forces
         to try and protect at least part of the expiring Conservation Reserve Program contracts. The
         agreements provide stable revenue to those who opt for rental payments from the U.S. government
         instead of farming what is considered fragile land, and/or producing excess commodities.

         A number of agriculture oriented organizations have sent delegates to Washington, D.C., in
         attempts to persuade USDA to at least extend the current contracts until some evaluations are
         completed. All producers knew about the expirations when they signed up for the program, but with
         today's global and domestic economy, many would like to obtain extensions to see them through
         tough times.

         According to Keith Rexroth, chairman of the South Platte Natural Resources District, his colleagues
         sent a letter to Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack, asking for a two-year extension. Rexroth said the
         2008 Farm Bill mandated an environmental study, but it won't be completed until next year.

         "This is a multi-state concern," Rexroth said Thursday afternoon. "We're trying to be pro-active.
         We've been to Washington twice, and have involved our representatives."
         For more on this story, please visit:

         ‘Beatrice Biodiesel: No bites from potential
         (Lee Enterprises / Beatrice Daily Sun) It was designed as a $50 million investment capable of
         producing 50 million gallons of soydiesel fuel a year.

         But two years after the first shovel of dirt was turned -- and months after the last of hundreds of
         construction workers walked away -- the Beatrice Biodiesel plant might remind you more of a
         glorious mansion where nobody ever lived.

         Shiny metal tanks and tubing glisten in the sun and every obvious detail of operational readiness is
         in place. That includes freshly painted signs that mark the handicapped parking stalls in front of the
         business office and the 10 mph speed limit posted for the trucks that never arrived.

         A red pickup and a security guard who declined to give his name are the only signs of human
         presence at what once appeared likely to become Nebraska’s first major foray into the biodiesel

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Ag Update - April 28, 2009

         You can bet that Lincoln attorney Rick Lange, trustee for the company’s Chapter 7 bankruptcy,
         would like to be able to announce that Beatrice’s most expensive business property has a
         prospective buyer.
         For more on this story, please visit:

         ‘More horses, fewer options spur neglect’
         (Omaha World-Herald) As the economy fell apart last year, the Nebraska Horse Council began
         receiving more and more phone calls from people worried about neighbors' horses with protruding
         ribs and hips.

         Horse rescue operations in Nebraska heard from landowners who woke up to find extra horses in
         their pastures.

         There was even talk of people turning horses loose to fend for themselves in the forest outside
         Chadron, Neb.

         Then the big one dropped.

         Alliance, Neb., rancher Jason Meduna was arrested April 17 after at least 60 dead and almost 200
         starving horses were found on his 1,900-acre property. Hungry horses foraging for any available
         scrap of grass had ravaged his pastures.

         Meduna, 42, who ran a mustang rescue ranch widely known in horse rescue circles, now stands
         charged with one count of felony animal cruelty while authorities continue to investigate.

         While Meduna's case may be unique in size, it is similar to horse neglect and abandonment
         episodes in other parts of Nebraska and across the country. Maryland, Nevada, Wyoming and
         Texas all have had horse neglect cases.

         Most blame the surge in neglect on a sagging economy. But some also point to the closing in 2007
         of the last U.S. horse slaughterhouses, removing what they called a viable option for people who
         couldn't afford to euthanize and dispose of the horses themselves.

         "Kill buyers" would purchase old, sick or unwanted horses at auctions for below-market prices that
         generally just recoup the horse owners' cost of transporting the horse to the auction.
         For more on this story, please visit:

         ‘Volunteers to the rescue’
         (Scottsbluff Star-Herald) More than 12 tons of hay was delivered yesterday to the Morrill County
         Fairgrounds for the starving Mustangs that have been removed from the 3-Strikes Ranch.

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Ag Update - April 28, 2009

         The Scottsbluff, Morrill and Box Butte County Farm Bureau Organizations partnered together in an
         effort to help in the best possible way.

         Angora farmer/rancher and Morrill County Farm Bureau member Jeff Metz said they thought the
         best way to help was by supplying food and hope others will follow suit.

         “We are appalled at the whole situation,” Metz said. “What has happened is not the way the
         farming/ranching community operates and is totally unacceptable.”

         Jerry Finch with the Habitat for Humanities out of Hitchcock, Texas, said all of the horses have
         been removed from the 3-Strikes Ranch.

         “The total number of animals rescued, including horses, burros and mules, is 211,” Finch said, “and
         they have been receiving hay and fresh water for the past week and are on their way to recovery.”

         Plus, Alliance Veterinarians Jim and Tom Furman and a group of UNL veterinary students worked
         all day yesterday on all the animals, he added.
         For more on this story, please visit:

         The Nebraska Department of Agriculture’s “Ag Update” features stories on a variety of agriculture-related
         topics, as reported by media from around the world, and selected by Nebraska Department of Agriculture
         (NDA) staff. Readers wishing to view the full article should see the news source referenced at the beginning
         of the each news item or click on the web links, if provided. NDA is not a news organization an d does not
         have reporters on its staff. Posting of these stories should not be interpreted as an endorseme nt of a
         particular viewpoint, but as a summary of news reported by legitimate news-gathering organizations or from
         press releases sent out by agriculture organizations

         Nebraska Department of Agriculture
         PO Box 94947
         Lincoln, NE 68509

7 of 7                                                                                                                                       5/13/2009 11:45 AM
Ag Update - May 1, 2009

         Subject: Ag Update - May 1, 2009
         From: Nebraska Department of Agriculture <>
         Date: Fri, 1 May 2009 12:54:28 -0500
         To: Nebraska Department of Agriculture <>

                                       Nebraska Department of Agriculture
                                           Ag Update – May 1, 2009

         ‘Planting underway throughout area’
         (Albion News) Boone County farmers joined many others throughout Nebraska in making good
         progress on planting corn and soybeans last week. This photo was taken southeast of Albion last
         Thursday, April 23. The pace was slowed by cooler temperatures and rainfall over the weekend.
         Corn planting progress was estimated at 15 to 20 percent in Boone County early this week.
         For this story, please visit:

1 of 5                                                                                                                 5/13/2009 11:45 AM
Ag Update - May 1, 2009

         ‘Cap and trade discussion continues on
         Capitol Hill’
         (Brownfield) Two prominent farm leaders expressed support for a carbon cap and trade system at a
         Washington hearing Wednesday. Meanwhile, two key congressmen are expressing doubts.

         National Farmers Union president Roger Johnson told the House Committee on Small Business
         that the flexibility of a cap and trade program holds the most promise in making actual greenhouse
         gas emission reductions. At the same time, Johnson says, it would mitigate the overall energy cost
         increases that would result from such a program.

         Fred Yoder, a past president of the National Corn Growers Association and member of the Climate
         Change Task Force, agreed that agriculture can play a positive role in reducing greenhouse gas
         emissions. And he outlined several NCGA policies stressing that agriculture should not be subject
         to an emissions cap.

         Speaking to farm broadcasters in Washington Wednesday, Senate Ag Committee chair Tom Harkin
         said he’s still not sold on the cap and trade idea.

         “I’m much more inclined to just say ‘let’s just have a straight carbon tax,’” Harkin says. “It’s simple,
         it’s straightforward, it’s understandable, it gets to the root of the problem.”
         For more on this story, please visit:

         ‘H1N1 erosion continues in livestock markets;
         grains brush off virus news’
         (Agriculture Online) An altogether inaccurate public perception that the H1N1 virus, formerly known
         as the "swine flu," is somehow related to hogs and carries risks in the consumption of pork has
         already done damage to the livestock market. The hog market is four days into a slide and packer
         demand has slowed. Now, the industry looks ahead to what many say will be a continued erosion in
         demand in the near future.

         Analysts say they expect the slide to continue as packers find tightening margins because of a
         slowdown in consumer pork demand despite the fact the H1N1 virus is not currently in the North
         American hog herd. But, the good news is it's coming at about as good a time as it can, as lighter
         pork demand is typical of this time of the year. That means the abrupt slide in demand has only
         accelerated a trend already partially underway.

         "Packers have cut back on slaughter rates in an effort to get ahead of expected declines in pork
         demand due to the media's linking of the flu with the hog industry," says Linn Group livestock
         analyst Thomas Elwood.

2 of 5                                                                                                                                 5/13/2009 11:45 AM
Ag Update - May 1, 2009

         For more on this story, please visit:

         ‘Corn, soybeans sales still strong’
         (Farm Futures) Worries about slow U.S. exports were calmed a bit this morning, when weekly
         export sales numbers came in better than expected for corn and soybeans. Wheat business,
         however, continues seasonally slow.

         While news about cancellations by China swept through the market briefly this week, the latest
         sales data showed the world’s largest importer holding steady. Total sales, both old and new crop,
         for the week hit 43 million bushels, with China taking half the total.

         Corn sales were even stronger than last week’s good showing, coming in at 52.8 million bushels.
         Buyers from Asia and the Americas were joined by a smattering of African business, which mostly
         has lagged this year. The good week puts corn on track to top USDA’s forecast for the marketing
         year, which could lead the agency to up its estimate when demand figures are updated on May 12.

         Wheat sales again were a bit disappointing, falling to 9.2 million bushels. Though shipments remain
         above the rate needed to reach USDA’s forecast for the marketing year that ends May 31, new
         crop sales are slow. Buyers continue to wait, for now, to see how the new crop comes in around the
         northern hemisphere, but that could change if adverse weather hurts production out of Europe and
         the Black Sea.
         For more on this story, please visit:

         ‘Minnesota’s 5 percent biodiesel mandate
         takes effect May 1’
         (Brownfield) Minnesota’s new 5 percent biodiesel mandate takes effect on Friday becoming the first
         state at that level. A 2 percent mandate was enacted in 2005 despite concerns the renewable fuel
         would have problems in the cold Minnesota winters. Since that time it has been found biodiesel has
         much the same characteristics as regular Number-2 diesel, when it gets cold, it gels. In the same
         manner, biodiesel blends can be treated for winter use in similar ways that Number-2 diesel is

         Ed Hegland, a Minnesota soybean farmer and Chairman of the National Biodiesel Board says he is,
         “Proud to live in a state that is leading energy innovations and taking part in valuable solutions like
         biodiesel.” The Minnesota mandate will move to 10 percent in 2012 and 20 percent by 2015.
         For more on this story, please visit:

         ‘Farm Bureau supports raising blend wall’

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Ag Update - May 1, 2009

         (KRVN) The American Farm Bureau Federation says the federal government should increase the
         ethanol blend level to 15 percent, which will promote environmental protection, help create jobs and
         reduce dependence on foreign oil. In a letter sent to EPA administrator Lisa Jackson, the farm
         organization said - increasing the ethanol blend level to 15 percent from the current level of 10
         percent is critical to the sustained health and expansion of corn and cellulosic ethanol production in
         the United States.
         For more on this story, please visit:

         ‘Vilsack's approach as ag secretary surprises
         (Des Moines Register) The World War II-era poster that faces Tom Vilsack's desk should provide a
         clue that he may not be the kind of agriculture secretary expected of a former governor of Iowa, the
         land of big, high-tech grain and hog farms.

         The poster says: "Let's All Grow Vegetables."

         In his first 100 days in office, Vilsack has surprised his early detractors, who feared he would be too
         close to agribusiness.

         In what is supposed to be a symbol of the Obama administration's new priorities, Vilsack started an
         organic vegetable garden in front of the Agriculture Department near one of the more prominent
         spots for tourists in Washington, the subway stop that serves the Smithsonian museums.

         In another key move, Kathleen Merrigan, a university professor who helped create the national
         program for certifying organic food, was installed as deputy secretary at the USDA.

         Vilsack also demonstrated an early willingness to take on the USDA's traditional constituency
         among conventional farm interests. He called meatpackers in and told them to adhere to more strict
         procedures for labeling pork and beef from foreign sources, and he pitched a proposed cut in farm
         subsidies as vital to funding better nutrition for poor children.
         For more on this story, please visit:

         ‘Corn planting provides $3.5 billion stimulus’
         (Nebraska Farmer) Each spring, Nebraska corn producers invest approximately $1.4 billion in fuel,
         seed, fertilizer and other planting costs alone. According to the Nebraska Corn Board, this
         investment in just a couple weeks' time multiplies by about 2.5 times into a $3.5 billion stimulus for
         Nebraska communities.

         "Investments in putting a crop in the ground, provides not only a ripple effect in rural communities,
         but tremendous job opportunities in the agribusiness sector along with stimulus for the rest of the

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Ag Update - May 1, 2009

         state, not to mention the value of what ultimately is harvested in the fall," says Don Hutchens,
         executive director of the board.

         The Nebraska Farm Business Association and the University Extension NebGuides substantiate
         the per-acre investments that Nebraska corn farmers make this time of year of approximately
         $160-$170 an acre. Nebraska is expected to plant 8.8 million acres of corn.

         Jon Holzfaster, Paxton producer and chairman of the Nebraska Corn Board, says that volatility in
         the market place of some of the inputs such as fertilizer and fuel, along with the wild swings in
         commodity prices, make it a challenge to find stability in production agriculture, not to mention the
         impacts Mother Nature has on the business.
         For more on this story, please visit:

         The Nebraska Department of Agriculture’s “Ag Update” features stories on a variety of agriculture-related
         topics, as reported by media from around the world, and selected by Nebraska Department of Agriculture
         (NDA) staff. Readers wishing to view the full article should see the news source referenced at the beginning
         of the each news item or click on the web links, if provided. NDA is not a news organization an d does not
         have reporters on its staff. Posting of these stories should not be interpreted as an endorseme nt of a
         particular viewpoint, but as a summary of news reported by legitimate news-gathering organizations or from
         press releases sent out by agriculture organizations

         Nebraska Department of Agriculture
         PO Box 94947
         Lincoln, NE 68509

5 of 5                                                                                                           5/13/2009 11:45 AM
Ag Update - May 6, 2009

         Subject: Ag Update - May 6, 2009
         From: Nebraska Department of Agriculture <>
         Date: Wed, 6 May 2009 10:42:16 -0500
         To: Nebraska Department of Agriculture <>

                                     Nebraska Department of Agriculture
                                         Ag Update – May 6, 2009
         ‘Administration addressing ethanol, climate
         (Associated Press / Omaha World-Herald) The Obama administration renewed its commitment
         Tuesday to speed up investments in ethanol and other biofuels while seeking to deflect some
         environmentalists' claims that huge increases in corn ethanol use will hinder the fight against global

         President Barack Obama directed more loan guarantees and economic stimulus money for biofuels
         research and told the Agriculture Department to find ways to preserve biofuel industry jobs. The
         recession, as well as lower gasoline prices, has caused some ethanol producers to suffer, including
         some who have filed for bankruptcy.

         Obama said an interagency group also would explore ways to get automakers to produce more
         cars that run on ethanol and to find ways to make available more ethanol fueling stations. "We must
         invest in a clean energy economy," Obama said in a statement.

         The reassurances to the ethanol industry came as the Environmental Protection Agency made
         public its initial analysis on what impact the massive expansion of future ethanol use could have on
         climate change. Rejecting industry and agricultural interests' arguments, it said its rules - which will
         take months to develop - will take into account increased greenhouse gas emissions as more
         people plant ethanol crops at the expense of forests and other vegetation and land use is
         influenced worldwide by the demand for biofuels.

         When Congress in 2007 required a huge increase in ethanol use - to as much as 36 billion gallons
         a year by 2022 - it also required that ethanol - whether from corn or cellulosic crops like switchgrass
         or wood chips - have less of a "lifecycle" impact on global warming than does gasoline. It set the
         threshold at 20 percent climate-pollution improvement for corn ethanol and 60 percent for cellulosic
         ethanol, although ethanol made from facilities already operating would be exempt.

         EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson said the analysis shows corn ethanol emitting 16 percent less
         greenhouse gases than gasoline, even taking into account global future land-use changes.
         For more on this story, please visit:

         ‘Nebraska may benefit from new renewable

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Ag Update - May 6, 2009

         fuel standards’
         (Omaha World-Herald) The Obama administration wants advanced biofuels made from non-food
         crops and agricultural wastes, and it wants them made in plants fired by something other than
         carbon fuels like natural gas.

         Nebraska's got them.

         Todd Sneller, administrator of the Nebraska Ethanol Board, said the state is well-positioned to
         benefit from new initiatives, backed by federal dollars, that would sharply increase the use of
         ethanol and other biofuels in the United States.

         Sneller said the Obama administration's creation of an interagency working group to coordinate the
         initiatives was "critically important" because it puts together federal efforts on rural development,
         control of greenhouse gases and developing energy policies and technologies. The groups involved
         will be the U.S. Agriculture and Energy Departments and the Environmental Protection Agency.

         The aim of the working group is to streamline the process of boosting biofuels production and to
         move the industry beyond corn.

         "My initial reaction is this is a smart move," Sneller said.

         And likely to be good for Nebraska, too.
         For more on this story, please visit:

         ‘Dates, locations set for NAIS listening
         ( USDA's Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) will hold a series of
         listening sessions on the National Animal Identification System (NAIS) in Alabama, Colorado,
         Connecticut, Kentucky, Pennsylvania, Texas, and Washington state.

         APHIS seeks to gather not only producer comments and concerns, but also potential or feasible
         solutions to create a program producers can feel comfortable supporting. The listening sessions will
         include information about the current program, as well as an opportunity to give public testimony or
         ask program-related questions. Discussion sessions related to NAIS’ cost, impact on small farmers,
         privacy and confidentiality, liability premises registration, animal identification and animal tracing will
         allow producers to provide their input on ways to make the program into something they can
         For more on this story, please visit:

         ‘Economist: No big impact on corn prices due

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Ag Update - May 6, 2009

         to planting delays’
         ( To date, corn planting delays in the eastern Corn Belt have not had a substantial
         impact on corn prices, said Darrel Good, University of Illinois Extension marketing specialist.

         "Drier-than-expected conditions over the past weekend and a forecast that calls for less rain than
         predicted last week suggest that corn planting could still be completed in a timely fashion," Good

         He added that recent strength in the soybean market provides producers an opportunity to price
         old-crop inventories.

         "In addition, November 2009 futures that are $1 above the spring price guarantee for crop revenue
         insurance offer a chance to start new crop sales," he said. "Sales of new-crop corn appear less
         attractive, with December 2009 futures about 20 cents above the spring price guarantee."

         Good's comments came as he reviewed the corn and soybean markets where prices for the two
         commodities have diverged.

         July 2009 soybean futures traded above $11.25 in overnight trade on May 4, reaching the highest
         level since last September. Spot cash prices of soybeans exceeded $11 in central Illinois locations
         as basis levels remained very strong. November 2009 soybean futures traded over $9.90, the
         highest since early January 2009.

         "In contrast, corn prices remain in a relatively narrow range, with July 2009 futures now trading
         near $4.05 and December 2009 futures near $4.25," he said. "Corn prices are well off the lows
         reached in late February, when July futures dropped to near $3.50, but the rally has been anemic in
         comparison to soybeans."
         For more on this story, please visit:

         ‘USDA announces opportunity to extend
         some CRP contracts’
         ( USDA will offer certain producers the opportunity to modify and extend their
         Conservation Reserve Program (CRP) contracts that are scheduled to expire on Sept. 30, 2009,
         USDA announced today.

         USDA can only extend approximately 1.5 million acres out of a total 3.9 million acres expiring this
         year. This extension will ensure that FSA meets the statutory CRP acreage limitation of 32 million
         acres established in the Food, Conservation, and Energy Act of 2008.

         A general CRP signup is not scheduled during fiscal year 2009. However, producers may continue
         to enroll relatively small, highly-desirable acreages, including land that is not extended, into
         Continuous CRP. Continuous CRP includes such practices as filter strips and riparian buffers.
         For more on this story, please visit:

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Ag Update - May 6, 2009

         ‘European Union duty cuts biodiesel demand’
         (Des Moines Register) Biodiesel production has fallen to 2006 levels as producers struggle to cope
         with low oil prices and the imposition of stiff European duties that have cut off a key market for the
         fuel additive.

         Production fell to 30 million gallons in March, down more than 40 percent from April 2008.

         The Energy Department has predicted production will fall 20 percent this year, but that figure could
         be more. At current levels, production could be half what it was last year, according to the National
         Biodiesel Board.

         "America is at risk of going backwards in energy security," said John Jobe, chief executive of the
         biodiesel board.

         Half of the industry's production last year was sent to Europe, but the European Commission
         imposed duties on the imports in March to offset U.S. subsidies that European producers said were

         Annual mandates for U.S. biodiesel usage that Congress enacted in 2007 are supposed to
         guarantee a growing domestic market for the fuel additive. However, the Environmental Protection
         Agency is due to propose rules today that will determine whether the industry's prime feedstock,
         soybean oil, can qualify toward meeting the mandates. Qualifying biofuels must meet targets for
         reducing greenhouse gas emissions.
         For more on this story, please visit:

         ‘Nebraska producers upset with California
         (Nebraska Farmer) Corn producers across the state are disappointed in the recent approval of the
         low-carbon fuel standard by the California Air Resources Board. The approval will set forth
         regulations that include questionable land use change and may ultimately alter the market for corn
         based ethanol.

         "Although we support initiatives that look at reducing greenhouse gases, we can not support
         initiatives that include very questionable science and do not take into consideration modern day
         efficiencies," says Jon Holzfaster, chairman of the Nebraska Corn Board.

         Holzfaster says that the inclusion of indirect land use change penalties against corn ethanol, no
         indirect changes to petroleum and the lack of inclusion of current efficiencies in corn production,
         distillers grains livestock rations and ethanol production may ultimately become a huge barrier for
         the usage of corn based ethanol in the California market.

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Ag Update - May 6, 2009

         "We have always believed, and current peer reviewed data has substantiated, that corn based
         ethanol is a renewable fuel that can have profound impact on reducing our greenhouse gas
         emissions compared to petroleum based gasoline," adds Holzfaster.
         For more on this story, please visit:

         ‘Despite sick pigs, H1N1 seems to be winding
         (Farm Futures) Canadian officials have confirmed the first case of the H1N1 virus in a herd of
         2,200 pigs near Alberta. Officials believe these pigs were infected with the virus by a worker on the
         farm that had recently visited Mexico. Dr. Liz Wagstrom, assistant vice president of science and
         technology for the National Pork Board, says influenza is not uncommon in pigs. But, they recover,
         and it does not affect the safety or quality of pork.

         Meanwhile, in Mexico City, where the H1N1 virus began, the flu alert level has been lowered,
         allowing cafes, museums and libraries to reopen. Mexican officials declared that the epidemic is
         waning. Worldwide 898 people in 18 countries became ill because of the H1N1 virus.

         However the U.S. pork industry and international health groups continue to reassure people pork is
         safe to eat and handle. The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, the World
         Organization for Animal Health, the World Health Organization and the World Trade Organization
         all say that pork and pork products, handled in accordance with good hygienic practices
         recommended by the WHO, FAO, Codex Alimentarius Commission and the OIE, will not be a
         source of infection.
         For more on this story, please visit:

         ‘Groups fight to end railroads’ antitrust
         (Brownfield) Legislation to remove the railroads’ antitrust exemption is winding its way through
         Congress. The Senate is expected to vote in early June on the Railroad Antitrust Enforcement Act
         of 2009.

         Bob Szabo is the executive director of CURE—Consumers United for Rail Equity. He says passage
         of the antitrust bill, along with companion legislation that would reform the Service Transportation
         Board, would increase competition and fairness in the rail freight industry.

         “Both bills will knock down some barriers the railroads have put up to access a second competing
         railroad,” says Szabo, “and those people should get access to market rates and service dictated by
         the marketplace.”
         For more on this story, please visit:

5 of 9                                                                                                                                  5/13/2009 11:45 AM
Ag Update - May 6, 2009

         ‘Pork industry official says industry deserves
         federal aid’
         (Farm and Ranch) It’s time for the federal government to step in quickly and provide funds to help
         U.S. pork producers who are being crushed by an event that they did not create but threatens to be
         their demise, a pork industry official said Friday.

         Richard Ellinghuysen, vice president of Producers Livestock in Omaha said, A storm as
         economically devastating as Hurricane Katrina is roaring across the U.S. pork industry and causing
         financial devastation to a business segment that didn’t build below sea level, didn’t engage in risky
         subprime mortgages and didn’t build a product that struggles to compete in the world market.

         Even so, the U.S. pork industry and hog operations have had millions of dollars sucked away
         because the virus H1N1 is called by many swine flu, and fears of illness and a global pandemic
         have resulted in unwarranted bans against U.S. pork.

         "Reality has been replaced by fear and emotion," he said. "Unfortunately that means equity is being
         replaced by financial ruin for many pork producers."

         Chris Hurt, agricultural economist at Purdue University, says U.S. hog producers already were
         suffering from recent high grain prices and now must deal with the impact of the H1N1 virus.

         Hurt estimates that up to one-third of the nation's hog producers may be forced to seriously
         reconsider their positions in the industry. He also said the effects of such historical events on the
         market can linger for several weeks, or even longer.
         For more on this story, please visit:

         ‘Soybean checkoff referendum petition is
         being circulated’
         (Farm Futures) Soybean farmers have the opportunity to participate in a request for a referendum.
         Farmers can sign a petition requesting a vote on the continuation of the soybean checkoff program.
         United States Soybean Federation Vice President Jerry Slocum explained that farmers who believe
         the soybean checkoff is doing a good job for them don't need to sign the petition.

         Since the beginning of the national soybean checkoff in 1991, the farmgate value of soybeans has
         increased 2.5 times to $25 billion, demand for U.S. soy has doubled and exports have tripled.

         "The farmers who created the checkoff nearly 18 years ago demonstrated an amazing amount of
         insight," said Warren Stemme, USSF president and a soybean farmer from Chesterfield, Mo. "Now
         it's the job of today's soybean farmers to keep the program and the corresponding legislation

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Ag Update - May 6, 2009

         For more on this story, please visit:

         ‘Water use gathering issues dire warnings’
         (Omaha World-Herald) Fifty years.

         That's how long before current water and land use practices will lead to a worldwide water crisis, a
         Harvard University professor told those attending a University of Nebraska-Lincoln conference to
         begin developing a global water institute.

         It isn't so much that the world will run out of water, said Peter Rogers, a professor of environmental
         engineering. Nebraska, for example, probably has enough water to last several hundred years. Yet
         water could become so difficult to obtain in some areas that it would touch off a global food crisis.

         "Only if we act to improve water use in agriculture will we meet the acute freshwater challenge
         facing humankind over the coming 50 years," said Jackson.

         Solutions were discussed, including improving water and irrigation infrastructure, making irrigation
         agriculture more efficient and conserving water.

         Jeff Raikes, chief executive officer of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation kicked off the "Future
         of Water for Food" conference.

         More than 200 people, including scientists and policymakers from Nebraska and around the world,
         attended the $100,000 conference sponsored by the Robert B. Daugherty Charitable Foundation
         and the University of Nebraska Foundation.

         NU President J.B. Milliken said the UNL Water Center already devotes 160 faculty — engineers,
         hydrologists, economists, lawyers, chemists and others — to water matters.

         "We believe it is in a position to do more," he said. "This is the right time and the right place to
         establish a global water institute."

         Raikes, keynote speaker for the conference, said the goals of such an institute would fit with the
         work of the Gates Foundation in combating global poverty.
         For more on this story, please visit:

         ‘Tyson Foods sees brief drop in pork demand’
         (Associated Press / Lincoln Journal Star) Tyson Foods Inc. said Monday it lost more than expected
         in its fiscal second quarter because of declining beef sales and one-time costs.

         The world’s largest meat maker noted that it expects only a short drop in demand for pork because

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Ag Update - May 6, 2009

         of the outbreak of H1N1 flu, often called swine flu.

         The Springdale, Ark.-based company said it was too soon to assess the impact of the virus, which
         has sickened more than 1,000 people globally. Tyson said fears of the virus — also called H1N1 —
         have kept some shoppers away from pork even though there has been no evidence that eating it
         can lead to an infection.

         In Nebraska, Tyson has pork or beef processing operations in Columbus, Dakota City, Lexington,
         Madison and Omaha. In recent years, it closed operations in West Point, York and Norfolk.

         Another packer with a big Nebraska presence, Smithfield Foods, on Monday repeated its flu refrain:
         the disease has not showed up in any of its swine herds.
         For more on this story, please visit:

         ‘Baucus to introduce Cuban trade bill’
         (KRVN) Senate Finance Committee Chairman Max Baucus is expected to introduce legislation this
         week that would open the door to more agricultural exports to Cuba. American farmers view Cuba
         as a lucrative, largely untapped market. The finance panel chairman has introduced legislation
         aimed at increasing agricultural exports to Cuba in previous years.

         Democratic Senators Jeff Bingaman, Maria Cantwell, Tom Harkin, Mary Landrieu, Blanche Lincoln,
         Mark Pryor, Debbie Stabenow and Ron Wyden have signed on as co-sponsors. Previous bills
         would have prohibited the President from restricting payments from Cuban financial institutions and
         would have directed the Secretary of Agriculture to promote exports to Cuba.
         For more on this story, please visit:

         ‘Late week weather helps Nebraska corn
         (Brownfield) Favorable end of week of weather helped Nebraska producers make good spring
         planting progress. According to the state office of the National Ag Statistics Service, topsoil
         moisture is better than last year at 81% adequate and subsoil moisture is at its best since 1999 at
         80% adequate.

         Corn planting is at 52%, five days ahead of last year and three days ahead of average, and
         soybeans are 7% planted, just ahead of the five year average of 5%. Still, corn emergence is a little
         slower than average at 3%. Oats are 95% planted, with 68% emerged, and 80% of the crop in good
         to excellent condition.
         For more on this story, please visit:

8 of 9                                                                                                                                  5/13/2009 11:45 AM
Ag Update - May 6, 2009

         The Nebraska Department of Agriculture’s “Ag Update” features stories on a variety of agriculture-related
         topics, as reported by media from around the world, and selected by Nebraska Department of Agriculture
         (NDA) staff. Readers wishing to view the full article should see the news source referenced at the beginning
         of the each news item or click on the web links, if provided. NDA is not a news organization an d does not
         have reporters on its staff. Posting of these stories should not be interpreted as an endorseme nt of a
         particular viewpoint, but as a summary of news reported by legitimate news-gathering organizations or from
         press releases sent out by agriculture organizations

         Nebraska Department of Agriculture
         PO Box 94947
         Lincoln, NE 68509

9 of 9                                                                                                       5/13/2009 11:45 AM
Ag Update - May 7, 2009

         Subject: Ag Update - May 7, 2009
         From: Nebraska Department of Agriculture <>
         Date: Thu, 7 May 2009 15:33:02 -0500
         To: Nebraska Department of Agriculture <>

                              Nebraska Department of Agriculture
                                 Ag Update – May 7, 2009

         ‘U.S. trade rep calls for end to bans on pork’
         (Associated Press / Omaha World-Herald) Trade officials from the United States, Canada and
         Mexico called Thursday for China and other counties to end bans on pork prompted by the H1N1
         swine flu outbreak.

         “We urge our trading partners to remove these restrictions on our products immediately,’’ the
         statement read. “We will continue to follow this situation closely, and will take any steps to prevent
         the enforcement of unjustified measures against our exports, as appropriate.’’

         The statement, released by the office of U.S. Trade Representative Ron Kirk, said the bans aren’t
         based on scientific measures.

         “We are ... concerned that some trading partners are imposing restrictions on trade in swine, pork
         and other meat products from North America that are without scientific justification and inconsistent

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Ag Update - May 7, 2009

         with their international obligations.’’

         There are 16 countries with bans on pork or pork products. The largest is China, which has banned
         imports of live pigs, pork and pork products from 38 states, including Iowa, the largest pork
         producer in the U.S.
         For more on this story, please visit:

         ‘Former Ag Secretary blasts Obama’s
         approach to agriculture, emissions’
         ( Sen. Mike Johanns (R-Neb.) took the Obama administration to task on
         Wednesday for focusing more on organic and small farm production than traditional crop and
         livestock production.

         "It is fine to romanticize that farming should return to its agrarian beginnings — where every farm
         family owned a few acres, a dairy cow, a couple of pigs and a chicken coop — but it is far from
         realistic," Johanns, who served as secretary of agriculture during the Bush administration, told the
         National Association of Farm Broadcasters.

         He urged the administration to "not let their fervor for organic production cloud their judgment
         regarding the production methods for traditional crops [and livestock]," saying fertilizers, pesticides
         and modern plant and animal genetics help farmers and ranchers fight disease and ensure a safe
         and abundant food supply.
         For more on this story, please visit:

         ‘EPA tough on ethanol, tougher on biodiesel’
         (Agriculture Online) Proposed rules released by the Environmental Protection Agency this week
         have the potential to keep new ethanol plants from selling into a government mandated market. But
         the biodiesel industry could fare even worse.

         Members of the biofuels industry on Wednesday testified before the House Agriculture Committee's
         subcommittee on Conservation, Credit, Energy and Research. Manning Feraci of the National
         Biodiesel Board said the effect of the EPA's rule, if unchanged, would be to lock soybean-based
         biodiesel out of the revised renewable fuels standard. And, because of that, there would not be
         enough biodiesel available to meet a 2012 mandate under the 2007 energy bill that requires the
         nation to use 1 billion gallons of biodiesel.

         The reason is that EPA appears to be counting increased soybean acreage devoted to biodiesel
         production as an incentive to clear rain forest and grasslands to grow soybeans in Brazil, even
         though Brazilian soybean production decreased from 2004 to 2008 while the U.S. biodiesel industry
         was ramping up from 25 million gallons to 690 million.
         For more on this story, please visit:

2 of 7                                                                                                                                           5/13/2009 11:45 AM
Ag Update - May 7, 2009

         ‘EPA view on biofuel worries industry’
         (Des Moines Register) The government and the biodiesel industry are at odds over the impact of
         the soy-based fuel's failure to meet standards for reducing greenhouse gas emissions.

         The Environmental Protection Agency believes the industry could still produce more than 900
         million gallons of the fuel annually, nearly the amount required in 2012 by a two-year-old energy

         Producers would have to make biodiesel from waste restaurant grease and animal fats as well as
         soybean oil, a far more abundant feedstock but one that doesn't score well on the agency's
         climate-impact test, said Margo Oge, an EPA official who testified before the House Agriculture
         Committee on Wednesday.

         However, an industry representative said that combining the fuel sources may be impractical for

         Some facilities may not have access to adequate supplies of the grease or fats they would need,
         and using those feedstocks also creates distribution problems because biodiesel made from them
         doesn't perform as well during the winter, said Manning Feraci, vice president of federal affairs for
         the National Biodiesel Board.
         For more on this story, please visit:

         ‘Horse slaughter bill now law in Montana’
         (Brownfield) That legislation to allow investor-owned horse slaughter plants in Montana is now law.
         It went into effect when Montana governor Brian Schweitzer chose to neither sign nor veto the
         action. The law limits opportunities for legal action against such investors.

         Other states are also considering legislation that would permit horse slaughter plants to operate.
         For more on this story, please visit:

         ‘New GISPA director announced’
         (KNEB) USDA’s Grain Inspection, Packers and Stockyards Administration has a new leader. J.
         Dudley Butler has been named by Ag Secretary Tom Vilsack to serve as Director of GIPSA. GIPSA
         facilitates the marketing of livestock, poultry, meat, cereals, oilseeds, and related agricultural
         products, and promotes fair and competitive trading practices for the overall benefit of consumers
         and American agriculture.

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         Butler has been an attorney in private practice for over three decades and is a certified mediator
         and arbitrator. He has also been involved in cattle, timber and farming operations, and in the 80's
         and 90's, owned cattle in Wyoming and traded cattle in states including Texas, Oklahoma,
         Colorado, Montana, Nebraska and Utah.
         For more on this story, please visit:

         ‘DFA representatives get reassurances from
         (KNEB) Dairy Farmers of America Senior Vice President John Wilson and 50 of his board members
         met this week with Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack. The Secretary told the group that his
         department is working on additional ways to deal with some of the challenges facing the dairy
         industry. USDA has already provided help by using more nonfat dry milk in federal nutrition
         For more on this story, please visit:

         ‘Chief vet reports low participation in
         traceback system’
         (KRVN) USDA chief veterinarian Dr. John Clifford says low participation in a livestock traceback
         system could hamper disease control and make it harder to restore sales to nations who ban U.S.
         meat. Clifford told House Agriculture and Homeland Security subcommittees that - unfortunately, a
         disappointing rate of producer participation -- currently only 35 percent -- hampers our ability to
         achieve animal traceability. He said 70 percent would provide an - effective - program.

         Clifford added - while 70 percent would provide some measure of traceability, I must emphasize
         that we really need to achieve higher participation rates, as high as 90 percent, to ensure the
         benefits of the system.
         For more on this story, please visit:

         ‘Producers wait to hear details of USDA bean
         (Scottsbluff Star Herald) While the federal government’s decision to purchase Great Northern
         beans that are sitting idle in storage is good news, the details of the transaction are still to be

         Producers in western Nebraska have been hoping for either a large export sale or a purchase by

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Ag Update - May 7, 2009

         the U.S. Department of Agriculture to get some cash in their pockets so they can move forward with
         the 2009 crop. With beans in storage and no cash, this year’s operations have been in limbo.

         Several factors over the past few years resulted in the huge carryover of Great Northern beans
         from the 2008 harvest. Global markets have been drying up for several years, and more than
         enough beans have been grown for domestic use. Without sales, producers have had no money to
         proceed with this year’s crop, and banks are leery of loans. With so many beans still on the market,
         farmers have been hesitant to commit to planting any kind of dry edible bean. A careful balance
         must be maintained in order not to overload the market with other varieties such as pintos, kidneys,
         or any other line.

         The purchase of up to $25 million was announced Monday by the USDA. A number of farmer and
         processor organizations have been lobbying Gov. Dave Heineman, the agriculture department and
         members of the state’s congressional delegation to encourage the purchase, which would provide
         food for government programs.
         For more on this story, please visit:

         ‘Nebraska corn producers urged to express
         support for ethanol waiver’
         (Brownfield) Nebraska corn producers are being urged to submit comments to the EPA in support
         of increasing the ethanol blend rate from 10 to 15 percent.

         The comment period on the ethanol waiver request runs through May 21st. The chairman of the
         Nebraska Corn Board, Jon Holzfaster of Paxton, says the waiver is extremely important to corn
         producers and rural communities.

         “The E-15 waiver will help bring back some demand for some of the idled ethanol capacity that’s on
         the market right now,” says Holzfaster. “It’s very important to rural communities—the jobs and the
         economic vitality that ethanol brings to rural America.”

         To make the comment-submitting process easier, the Nebraska Corn Board and Nebraska Corn
         Growers Association are sending all producers in the state a postage-paid postcard. All the grower
         has to do, Holzfaster says, is complete a few lines of information and drop it back in the mail.
         For more on this story, please visit:

         ‘Nebraska farmers sharing their experiences
         via Twitter’
         (FARM-NET) To help people around the world better understand farming and farm life, several
         Nebraska farmers are using Twitter to broadcast what they are up to on any given day.

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         Posts on Twitter are captured in real time and provide a peek into the life of farmers. People can
         read what we’re working on that day, the issues we’re facing, why we do the things we do and
         more, said Debbie Borg, a farmer from Allen. If people choose, they can join Twitter and ask us

         This time of year I’m posting about planting progress, problems that come up some days and
         issues that are important to me as a corn farmer, said Brandon Hunnicutt, a farmer from Giltner.
         Hunnicutt is @cornfedfarmer on Twitter.

         Other Nebraska farmers on Twitter include Ryan Weeks of Juniata (@huskerfarm) and Susan
         Littlefield (@firefighter89) of Surprise. Weeks has been posting planting and crop progress updates
         and related information, while Littlefield has been describing the impact of weather on her operation
         and providing updates on lambing.
         For more on this story, please visit:

         ‘District pursues basin review’
         (Kearney Hub) Frenchman-Cambridge Irrigation District officials will seek a formal hearing with
         Nebraska Department of Natural Resources Director Brian Dunnigan to
         ask him again to re-evaluate whether the Republican Basin is overappropriated.

         Dunnigan denied the district’s initial petition. The next step is the request for a formal hearing.

         “We will pursue it,” Frenchman-Cambridge Manager Brad Edgerton told the Hub this morning. The
         district’s board members voted Tuesday to seek the formal hearing, he said, and he’s consulting
         with attorneys about what must be done to make that request.

         Dunnigan issued an order April 13 denying the Frenchman-Cambridge petition to re-evaluate the
         Republican Basin. The district then had 30 days to seek the formal hearing.

         Frenchman-Cambridge officials want Dunnigan to take another look at whether the main stem and
         tributaries of the Republican River upstream of the Cambridge Diversion Dam are
         overappropriated. That means water uses exceed water supplies.
         For more on this story, please visit:

         ‘VeraSun late in paying first half property
         (Albion News) With the passing of the May 1 deadline for payment of 2008 first half property taxes
         last week, one important Boone County tax bill remained unpaid.

         VeraSun Energy Corp., which filed Chapter 11 bankruptcy last October, had not paid its 2008 first
         half taxes as of Tuesday, May 5, so interest charges are accruing on the delinquent amount of

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         $895,000. With interest added, the total was already up to nearly $897,000 by Tuesday.

         County Treasurer Laurie Krohn said the company has called her several times recently, and a
         spokesman has expressed the intent to have the taxes paid by this Friday, May 8.

         The company owes $437,558 in personal property taxes and $457,599 in real estate taxes on its
         plant southeast of Albion, which was shut down last December.
         For more on this story, please visit:

         ‘Neb. bill would continue paying to clear
         (Associated Press / NTV) Nebraska lawmakers have voted to keep paying to clear vegetation from
         the Republican and Platte river basins.

         It would cost $2 million each of the next two years, but could save the state much more by
         increasing the amount of water that flows into Kansas.

         The bill (LB98) got final approval Thursday and goes to Gov. Dave Heineman for his signature.

         Riverfront landowners are supposed to keep the river clear but weren't doing so consistently, so the
         Legislature passed a law in 2007 allowing the state to pay for it until June 2009.

         Officials say the trees and vegetation share some of the blame for depletion of Republican River
         flows into Kansas.

         An arbitrator is deciding how much money Nebraska owes Kansas for using too much of the river

         The Nebraska Department of Agriculture’s “Ag Update” features stories on a variety of agriculture-related
         topics, as reported by media from around the world, and selected by Nebraska Department of Agriculture
         (NDA) staff. Readers wishing to view the full article should see the news source referenced at the beginning
         of the each news item or click on the web links, if provided. NDA is not a news organization an d does not
         have reporters on its staff. Posting of these stories should not be interpreted as an endorseme nt of a
         particular viewpoint, but as a summary of news reported by legitimate news-gathering organizations or from
         press releases sent out by agriculture organizations

         Nebraska Department of Agriculture
         PO Box 94947
         Lincoln, NE 68509

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Ag Update - May 12, 2009

         Subject: Ag Update - May 12, 2009
         From: Nebraska Department of Agriculture <>
         Date: Tue, 12 May 2009 16:40:35 -0500
         To: Nebraska Department of Agriculture <>

                                       Nebraska Department of Agriculture
                                          Ag Update – May 12, 2009
         ‘EPA responds to vocal ethanol rating critic’
         (Agriculture Online) The Environmental Protection Agency has responded to an Iowa senator who
         says it shouldn't be rating the carbon footprint of ethanol based on estimates of how farmers are
         planting virgin timber and grasslands in other nations.

         Senator Chuck Grassley (R-IA) a long time advocate of ethanol production, repeated his criticism of
         the EPA's methods Tuesday.

         "My feeling is that it doesn't meet the common-sense test because, first of all, there's no science
         behind it," Grassley told Agriculture Online during a conference call with reporters. "And we ought
         to -- EPA ought to only be making their decisions based on science. And then you get into the
         ridiculous situation that somewhere around the world somebody's waiting to plow up an acre of
         virgin soil just because they're waiting to see if Chuck Grassley sells a little more corn for ethanol. I
         think that's a ridiculous combination that doesn't face the real-world test."
         For more on this story, please visit:

         ‘Less than half of U.S. corn planted’
         (Brownfield) Heading into the middle of May, U.S. corn planting has yet to reach the halfway mark.
         USDA reports that as of Sunday, 48% of the crop has been planted. That's up 15% from last week
         and in line with last year but well behind the five year average of 71% as planting delays continue in
         the Eastern Cornbelt and Northern Plains. Of the eighteen top producing states, only three, Iowa,
         Minnesota and Nebraska, are ahead of the respective five year averages. 14% of corn has
         emerged, compared to the five year average of 28%.

         14% of soybeans have been planted, compared to 25% on average with farmers focused on
         planting corn when possible.
         For more on this story, please visit:

         ‘USGC: Corn exports to gain momentum’
         ( The United States is more than able to continue supplying global customers with the
         necessary grains, according to the U.S Grains Council (USGC). At the same time, barley, corn, and

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         sorghum growers can rest assured that exports are contributing to the disappearance of grains and
         their co-products, they add.

         Citing today’s release of the USDA’s World Agricultural Supply and Demand Estimates (WASDE),
         USGC President and CEO Ken Hobbie said ethanol and exports are responsible for increasing
         demand and reducing existing supplies.

         USDA’s report projects corn supplies at 13.7 billion bushels, down 35 million bushels from
         2008/2009. The report states that lower 2009/2010 beginning stocks reflect this month’s 50 million
         bushel increases in both exports and ethanol for 2008/2009.
         For more on this story, please visit:

         ‘Influenza not slowing U.S. pork’s momentum
         in Japan’
         (Brownfield) While some foreign markets have closed to U.S. pork because of the H1N1 flu scare,
         Japan has remained fully open to pork imports.

         The U.S. Meat Export Federation’s Japan director, Gregory Hanes in Tokyo, says the Japanese
         government has done an excellent job of easing any unfounded fears that may have associated the
         influenza with pork consumption.

         “The Japanese government had probably actually learned something from the way they had
         handled the BSE situation, and handled this situation much, much better,” says Hanes.

         Hanes says restaurant sales of pork in Japan have slowed somewhat, but that’s due to the sluggish
         For more on this story, please visit:

         ‘Goodlatte wants increased ethanol blend
         proposal rejected’
         (Brownfield) While saying he’s a “strong supporter of renewable fuels,” Congressman Bob
         Goodlatte of Virginia last week urged President Obama, Ag Secretary Vilsack and EPA
         administrator Lisa Jackson not to approve the current ethanol blend increase request. Goodlatte,
         the ranking member of the House Ag Committee, says “many other members of Congress” have
         joined him in a letter saying an ethanol blend above 10 percent in gasoline could “result in serious
         economic consequences that could negatively affect already struggling Americans.”

         Goodlatte asserts that raising the blend would decrease fuel efficiency in automobiles and “increase
         food costs for all Americans.”

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         Matt Hartwig with the Renewable Fuels Association says Goodlatte is exaggerating the effects of
         an ethanol blend increase.
         For more on this story, please visit:

         ‘New group strives to tell real story of
         (Farm Futures) The organization known as "The Hand That Feeds U.S." has been formed to
         educate urban news reporters, to answer agriculture's critics and explain why farmers and farm
         policy are so important to the nation's future. The American Sugar Alliance, and the peanut, rice,
         cotton, corn, sorghum, and ethanol industries have joined forces and have introduced their web
         presence at

         "We're the best farmers in the world, but we're far from being master communicators," said Andy
         Quinn, a Minnesota corn and ethanol producer. "For too long, we've let a handful of environmental
         extremists and coalitions, bankrolled by big business, define our industry in the news."

         Linda Raun, a rice grower from Texas, is a spokesperson for the campaign. She says producers
         haven't done a good enough job telling the media their story, which has led to agriculture being
         demonized in many of the nation's top media markets.
         For more on this story, please visit:

         ‘China's hunger for soybeans thrusts prices
         (Des Moines Register) Even as they plant, Iowa farmers have been placing sell orders to take
         advantage of soybean prices that have run up 30 percent since February, reaching their highest
         levels since September.

         "We're getting calls from farmers on their tractors, selling while they're in the fields," said Roger
         Fray, vice president for grain for West Central Cooperative in Ralston.

         Tom Hauschel, vice president for grain and risk management at Heartland Co-Op of West Des
         Moines, said: "There's been a lot of selling in the last couple of weeks. Things were very quiet most
         of the winter and suddenly became very active when the prices went up."

         Farmers who saw soybean prices drop to less than $7 per bushel last winter want to lock in prices
         of $9.70 or better for delivery of this year's crop in November. If they still had some of last year's
         beans in bins, they could have received up to $11.25 per bushel Friday.

         Prices have gone up because word is out that Argentina's soybean crop came in 15 percent to 17
         percent less than expectations and Brazil's crop was down 6 percent to 8 percent below forecasts,
         both mostly hobbled by drought.

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         For more on this story, please visit:

         ‘Brasher: Pace lags for new biofuels’
         (Des Moines Register) The clock is ticking on the Obama administration’s promises to speed
         development of the next generation of biofuels.

         There isn’t a commercial-scale plant in operation making ethanol from crop residue and other types
         of plant cellulose, the stuff that’s supposed to replace corn as the feedstock of the future for

         The biomass fuel isn’t economical yet, and there are obstacles still to be overcome, including how
         to harvest, transport and store the huge amounts of biomass required.

         But the biorefineries will have to be built at a relatively fast rate in the coming decade if there will be
         sufficient quantities to meet congressionally imposed mandates, according to an analysis by the
         Environmental Protection Agency.

         The first couple of plants would have to go up next year, and the number would have to increase
         after that. By 2013, 10 plants, each capable of producing 40 million gallons a year, would need to
         be built. By 2018, the industry needs 20 such plants a year, each with an average annual
         production capacity of 100 million gallons.

         That’s the pace needed to produce 16 billion gallons of cellulosic biofuel by 2022, the consumption
         level Congress required in the 2007 energy bill.
         For more on this story, please visit:

         ‘Johanns calls on nations to lift pork bans’
         (Grand Island Independent) A misleading reference to the H1N1 influenza as “swine flu” has come
         at a heavy price to American pork producers, said Sen. Mike Johanns, R-Neb.

         This week Johanns sent letters to the ambassadors of countries that are imposing full or partial
         bans on U.S. pork and pork products, urging them to lift unjustified trade restrictions.

         “U.S. pork is safe — plain and simple,” Johanns said. “There is no link between our pork and the flu
         virus affecting humans. Unfortunately, misinformation early on identified this flu as being linked to
         Mexican pigs and our nation’s pork industry is paying the price, including Nebraska’s pork

         To help take some of the pressure off pork producers, the American Farm Bureau Federation is
         calling on the U.S. Department of Agriculture to allocate additional purchases of pork using the
         Section 32 program to help provide stability to the pork industry.
         For more on this story, please visit:

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         ‘Oil refining giant Valero closes on Albion
         ethanol plant’
         (Associated Press / Lincoln Journal Star) Oil refiner Valero Energy Corp. said it hopes to have its
         ethanol plant in Albion up and running again in a month.

         Valero said Tuesday it closed on the sale of the plant in Albion, the last of seven it’s purchasing
         from VeraSun Energy Corp.
         For more on this story, please visit:

         ‘Funds available for organic agriculture’
         (Associated Press / Omaha World-Herald) Nebraska organic producers wanting to do more planting
         or those wanting to get in the game have until May 29 to apply to be first in line for federal funding.

         Kathleen Merrigan, deputy U.S. agriculture secretary, recently announced that $50 million has been
         made available to encourage more organic agriculture production. That includes $1.8 million
         available in Nebraska.
         For more on this story, please visit:

         ‘Raising standards, building bins’
         (Kearney Hub) The document with alternating paragraphs in English and Chinese in a folder with a
         cherry-red velvet cover may open doors to big business for the Chief Industries plant in Kearney.

         It outlines terms for Chief officials to help write grain storage and handling standards for the world’s
         most populous country.

         “It gives Chief a competitive advantage if we’re the ones who help them with the standards,” said
         Roger Townsend of Kearney, president of Chief’s Agri/Industrial Division. “... Obviously, our goal is
         to see a tremendous increase in the amount of Chief products going to China.”

         At an April 16 ceremony in Beijing, he signed a five-year agreement between Chief and GuoMao
         Engineering Design Institute, a government non-profit organization designated by China’s State
         Administration of Grain.

         First, Nebraska Department of Agriculture Director Greg Ibach of Sumner signed a memorandum of
         agreement with China’s grain administration that is required as the “gateway” for private business

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         Nebraska’s technical and management practices in harvesting, loading, storing and transporting
         grain will be the framework for changes in China. “They realize they need to step up on farm
         storage, as well as regional and terminal facilities,” Ibach said.
         For more on this story, please visit:

         ‘Abundant water supplies available for 2009
         growing season’
         (Farm and Ranch/Scottsbluff Star-Herald) With an above average runoff expected from the
         snowpack in the Rocky Mountains, and frequent snow and rain events this spring on the plains of
         eastern Wyoming and western Nebraska, farmers are encouraged about the prospects of the 2009
         crops and rangeland.

         Early plans had called for most irrigation districts to begin water deliveries about May 10. In most
         cases, this is still the plan. However, the Pathfinder Irrigation District will delay deliveries from May
         11 until May 13. The change is due to continued filling of the Inland Lakes, as well as the need for
         additional work on getting the system ready.

         Dennis Strauch, general manager at Pathfinder, said on Thursday that water is still being delivered
         to lakes Alice, Winters Creek and Minatare. Pathfinder water users don't get water until deliveries to
         the Inland Lakes cease.

         The other large districts, Gering/Fort Laramie, and Goshen still plan on deliveries beginning on
         Monday. Mitchell Irrigation District began making some deliveries last week, but many farmers are
         still planting corn and holding off on taking water, as long as the sugar beets are not threatened by
         dry conditions.
         For more on this story, please visit:

         ‘Western Sugar reaches 100 percent planted
         (Farm and Ranch/Scottsbluff Star-Herald) While everyone is glad to get their crops in the ground,
         share owners in Western Sugar Cooperative are especially pleased this year. For the first time
         since the Coop was formed in 2002, all of its shares are being planted. This means a 135,000 acre
         crop throughout the company's four state growing area -- Colorado, Montana, Nebraska and

         "This is exactly what we'd hoped for," said Mike Hofer, Western's vice president of agriculture. "We
         have 100 percent of the shares planted. That's 135,000 acres. With Roundup Ready beets, a good
         water supply and good prices, it all adds up to a lot of excitement. Every area is full, so with the
         increased yield, the outlook is for a full campaign at all factories this year."

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         Hofer said that in addition to good conditions in the growing areas, the market has picked up,
         thanks to several companies switching from high fructose sweetener to natural sugar. Pepsi, Ocean
         Spray, Snapple, and some bakeries, are among those that will increase the demand for sugar by 1
         million hundredweights in 2009.

         "What a difference a year makes," Hofer commented, referring to recent years when the lack of
         water and available land had reduced acres and sugar beet production. "We're very optimistic
         because of the water, the market and the Roundup Ready benefits. The Cooperative and the
         industry are very healthy now."
         For more on this story, please visit:

         ‘Gov. Heineman again honors Knickrehm
         students for posters’
         (Grand Island Independent) Maybe Nebraska residents don’t have to vote on their preferences for a
         new license plate after all.

         Knickrehm Elementary fifth-grader Will Nabity has already come up with a winning design, which
         was recognized by Gov. Dave Heineman Monday morning.

         Will’s design, which was entered into the annual Agriculture Week poster contest, won first place.

         Classmate Stephanie Matal won third place, while Diego Martinez won the Governor’s Choice
         Award in the poster contest, which attracted 1,200 entries from across the state.
         For more on this story, please visit:

         The Nebraska Department of Agriculture’s “Ag Update” features stories on a variety of agriculture-related
         topics, as reported by media from around the world, and selected by Nebraska Department of Agriculture
         (NDA) staff. Readers wishing to view the full article should see the news source referenced at the beginning
         of the each news item or click on the web links, if provided. NDA is not a news organization an d does not
         have reporters on its staff. Posting of these stories should not be interpreted as an endorseme nt of a
         particular viewpoint, but as a summary of news reported by legitimate news-gathering organizations or from
         press releases sent out by agriculture organizations

         Nebraska Department of Agriculture
         PO Box 94947
         Lincoln, NE 68509

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