August 4, 2015

Nebraska Cattlemen hit the road to hear from members (AUDIO)

Hereford_cattle_herdBeef producers get to hear from those representing them at the state Capitol and in Washington and get to air their opinions this week during the Nebraska Cattlemen’s educational road trip.

Topics will be wide-ranging during stops at six cities across Nebraska.

Nebraska Cattlemen Legislative Affairs Director Laura Field expects a lot of questions about why the legislature hasn’t eased property taxes for ranchers.

“We realized it’s going to take millions and millions and millions and hundreds of millions of dollars to come up with a long-term solution to some of the property tax problems, but the frustration really comes in the fact that we’re not even really seeming to take very many first steps,” Field tells Nebraska Radio Network during a cell phone interview on the way to the first meeting in Bridgeport.

One topic more important to some cattle producers than others will be discussed this week: branding regulations.

Members will also be advised on how to get active and shape Nebraska Cattlemen policy.

Time will be set aside for those attending the meeting to ask questions of the Nebraska Cattlemen staff.

The educational road trips began last year. They proved successful, according to Field, leading to this second year. The trips cover the same geographic area, but Field says the group has scheduled the meetings for different cities than those they visited a year ago.

Field expects worries about federal regulations to be a concern of beef producers, especially the controversial Waters of the United States proposal by the EPA.

“Always a concern with what’s going on there that could get passed down in regulations that could affect the state in a lot of different ways,” according to Field.

Meetings began in Bridgeport. They continue in Thedford, Lexington, Deshler, York, and West Point.

For a full schedule click here to be directed to the Nebraska Cattlemen web site.

AUDIO:  Brent Martin reports [:45]

Group says Nebraska farmers missing out on big cash crop: hemp

The Nebraska Hemp Association would like Gov. Pete Ricketts to look into the development of industrial hemp as a cash crop for Nebraska farmers.

President Bill Alchord says a law was passed in 2014 to legalize the development of a pilot program at postsecondary institutions and the Department of Agriculture for research, but that will likely focus on genetics. Alchord says the law does not allow for private studies that would focus on the development or industrial use.

Alchord says, “There are 2,500 uses for industrial hemp. Bio-diesel, fiber, plastics. Henry Ford made a car. Rudolph Diesel made gas. It would be a good crop in Nebraska for farmers to make some money.”

There are some that argue that by allowing industrial hemp production in Nebraska is the start of legalizing marijuana for medical and recreational use. Alchord says those that believe that need to do more homework. He says, “Cannabis is the same plant but it is like corn is a grass. It grows very differently. It is a different plant and by law it has less than 3/10’s of a percent of THC. That is hemp.”

Alchord is says more than half of all states allows some form of industrial hemp production and we need to be on-board. He be believes when the law passed that Gov. Ricketts depended on the Department of Agriculture to do a good job with the program and association’s opinion is they didn’t. Alchord is hoping the governor will look into the possibilities of industrial hemp and take action.

State’s ag director named to international trade position

Greg IbachThe director of the Nebraska Department of Agriculture is being appointed to a trade advisory committee that provides counsel to the Office of the United States Trade Representative.

Greg Ibach says his previous experience chairing the group’s marketing and international trade committee should help him on the advisory panel.

“So, this is kind of right up my alley coupled with my experience in promoting Nebraska agriculture across the world,” he says.

Ibach says he’s excited to be appointed to this panel as two major free trade deals are under discussion, the Trans Pacific as well as The Trans-Atlantic Trade and Investment Partnership.

“The Trans Pacific Partnership and the TTIP agreements are going to be aggressive agreements that will hopefully set the standard for agreements between countries in the future,” Ibach says. “Both of these agreements have components that are very important to agriculture.”

Ibach says he’ll work to see these deals lead to more fair trade between the nations involved.

“Hopefully, these agreements will get countries around the world, especially TTIP, get the Asian marketplace to lead and set the example to use internationally-recognized science-based protocols to help us facilitate world trade more equitably,” he says.

The purpose of the Intergovernmental Policy Advisory Committee is to provide insight from state and local governments on the activities of the U.S. Trade Representative.

By Jerry Oster, WNAX, Yankton


Farmland values dip over the past year

Irrigation(Farm_Bureau)Big jumps in farmland values seem to be ending in Nebraska; at least, somewhat.

The University of Nebraska-Lincoln Farm Real Estate Market Survey discloses a two percent drop overall in agricultural land values.

The survey covers the 12-month period which ended February 1st.

UNL Extension educator Jim Jansen explain that “average” doesn’t tell the whole story.

Jansen says farmland which supports the beef industry, such as pasture and hay land, rose in value the past year, sometimes by as much as 10%.

“Whereas the dry land or irrigated cropland declined on average across the state around 5-10% depending upon where you were at,” Jansen tells Brownfield Ag News.

Pasture land rose between 10 and 15% statewide.

Cropland took a hit over the previous 12 months.

“There are a few cases where the decline was very modest, but on average it was around 5-10% across the state of Nebraska for dryland cropland, irrigated cropland, and center-pivot irrigated cropland,” according to Jansen.

Rental rates for land set aside for grazing and haying rose between 10 to 30% over that 12-month period.

Even with the overall setback in farmland values, the average acre of agricultural land in Nebraska has risen 34% since 2012 and 116% since 2010.

Ken Anderson with Brownfield Ag News contributed to this story.


UNL report predicts drastic drop in farm income for 2015

Soybean field in JulyNebraska’s farm income is forecast to drop as much as 45% this year, according to a report from the Bureau of Business research at the University of Nebraska Lincoln.

UNL Extension Public Policy Specialist Brad Lubben says while the drop is substantial from 2013 to this year, farmers saw record income levels before that.

“We do have adjustments to make,” Lubben says. “Ag producers will have to tighten their belts and make sure they make sound management and finance decisions, but it is more of a return to a longer-run normal than it is falling out of bed. Caution, yes, but not much concern yet.”

The drop is due in large part to lower crop prices and reduced government payments. Lubben says despite that, the state of the ag economy is generally good.

“Farm income levels are still strong by historical standards,” Lubben says. “We have such a strong financial position right now and low interest rates that debt service is very manageable. We have a lot of strength coming into this current crunch.”

Lubben says the challenge for farmers now will be to fine tune their operations and pay close attention to the bottom line.

“There is a never-ending need to keep honing their skills and making better management decisions, more efficient and cost-effective decisions,” Lubben says. “That will be a challenge for the next couple of years. Crop prices have fallen dramatically in the last year-and-a-half and input costs haven’t caught up yet.”

Lubben says while producers had been receiving higher prices, input costs and land values have both gone up rapidly.

By Jerry Oster, WNAX, Yankton