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MIDDAY Midwest Digest, March 25, 2019

Will flooding bring Chinese to our door for more corn?

A U.S.-Canadian team has relocated gray wolves to Isle Royal, Mich.

A pet rescue group saved 26 stranded dogs in the flood in Iowa.

A student in Wisconsin was looking through old National Geographic magazines and found an old postcard. The class tracked the woman down.


Photo: aodaodaod/Getty Images


Iowa pork producers test out monarch habitat plots

USDA photo by Charles Bryson Monarch butterfly eating on a flower

Iowa pork producers who teamed up with Iowa State University to provide more habitat for monarch butterflies are now seeing the fruits of their labor in the on-farm research projects.

Since 2015, farmer members of the Iowa Pork Producers Association have worked with researchers from Iowa State and the Iowa Monarch Conservation Consortium to plant and survey monarch habitat plots on their land. One of the many challenges monarch butterflies face is the loss of milkweed and nectar plant habitat throughout the upper Midwest.

When the project was proposed three years ago, it seemed like a unique approach, according to Ben Crawford, Iowa pork producer and environmental services director for Prestage Farms of Iowa.

“The diversity of blooming plants in the plot is really remarkable,” says Crawford, who farms in Hamilton and Hardin counties. “Getting started takes a lot of patience but, by year two or three, the plants have filled in and you can really see the benefits.”

The habitat plantings include milkweed and a diverse array of blooming species to provide nectar for adult monarchs throughout their life cycle and seasonal migrations. Female monarchs lay eggs exclusively on milkweed plants. National and state efforts focus on establishment of new milkweed habitat to reach conservation goals. The Iowa Monarch Conservation Strategy seeks to establish 480,000 to 830,000 acres of monarch habitat by 2038.

Findings from the research collaboration are helping refine practical recommendations for establishing monarch habitat across Iowa’s landscape.

“Iowa’s pig farmers are committed to continuous improvement with Iowa’s environment,” says Trent Thiele, a pork producer from Elma, Iowa, and president of the Iowa Pork Producers Association. “We became involved in this project to help find answers about monarch habitat establishment. Now we can provide information about that research for producers who are interested in putting monarch habitat near their building sites.”

Voluntary efforts to establish monarch habitat are intended to complement existing environmental stewardship and conservation programs for farmers, while still adhering to best practices for livestock production.

“Initially, there were some concerns about biosecurity hazards due to a potential increase in rodents,” says Crawford.  “During these three years, we haven’t experienced any difficulties with unwanted critters and I don’t really see it as an issue as long as there is a buffer area between the barn and the plot and a standard baiting protocol is in place.”

Farmers who want technical or financial assistance to start a monarch habitat project on their land can call or visit their local USDA service center. To search by county for local habitat experts and more, visit 

Source: Iowa State University, which is solely responsible for the information provided, and wholly owns the information. Informa Business Media and all its subsidiaries are not responsible for any of the content contained in this information asset.

Red meat seminar targets 'Gateway to Asia'

iStock/Getty Images Plus Map of the Philippines under a magnifying glass

The U.S. Meat Export Federation recently set its sights on a bustling province northwest of the capital of the Philipines for promoting U.S. red meat. Sharing new ideas for serving and selling U.S. pork, beef and lamb in the Philippines, USMEF conducted a red meat application seminar for chefs and restaurant owners in Pampanga. The full-day seminar, which included tasting samples of selected cuts and marketing plans to encourage consumer interest, was funded by the USDA Market Access Program, the National Pork Board and the Beef Checkoff Program.

Considered by many to be the culinary capital of the Philippines, Pampanga is three times the size of Singapore and twice the size of Hong Kong. With its rapidly expanding economy, the area is expected to continue its growth and provide future opportunities for food exporters.

“There are a lot of things developing in the region – for example, the Clark International Airport and the Manila Clark Railway – that have many believing that Pampanga has the potential to become a sort of ‘Gateway to Asia’ for tourists,” says Monica Regaspi, USMEF representative in the Philippines. “With this in mind, USMEF has decided to be aggressive and take the opportunity to share information about U.S. pork, beef and lamb with restaurant professionals who work in the growing area.”

The educational sessions were led by Regaspi, USMEF chef Lawrence Char and Sabrina Yin, USMEF director in the Association of Southeast Asian Nations region. Each session was composed of presentations and demonstrations specifically designed to help business owners and importers make purchasing decisions. The sessions were also built to help participants pass on valuable information to customers and clients.

Char presented an overview of the U.S. beef industry, including a detailed explanation of the advantages of grain-fed beef. Regaspi spoke about U.S. pork production, its attributes and its availability in the ASEAN. Yin discussed U.S. lamb, emphasizing its unique flavor, texture and quality.

Roasted U.S. pork spareribs with lemon grass was one of several dishes offered at a tasting session at the seminar.

The seminar also featured cutting and cooking demonstrations by Char. Several cuts of U.S. pork, beef and lamb were featured in the session, including U.S. beef outside skirt, U.S. beef top sirloin and U.S. pork spareribs. A tasting session followed with U.S. beef Texas-style brisket, grilled U.S. beef skirt with chimichurri, U.S. beef top sirloin yakiniku, roasted U.S. pork spareribs with lemon grass, U.S. pork Boston butt char siew and U.S. lamb Sichuan honey-glazed spareribs.

After the tasting session, Regaspi explained USMEF marketing programs and how USMEF helps industry partners introduce and promote U.S. red meat at their businesses.

Source: USMEF, who is solely responsible for the information provided, and wholly owns the information. Informa Business Media and all its subsidiaries are not responsible for any of the content contained in this information asset.

Triumph Foods resumes operations in Missouri

Triumph Foods Triumph Foods facility FDS.jpg

Triumph Foods said Saturday it was restoring operations after the city of St. Joseph, Mo., lifted the mandatory evacuation order for the area that was put in place due to an unexpected rise in the water level of the Missouri River.

The company said it planned to re-commence normal B-shift schedules on March 23rd and asked all departments to report to work as normally scheduled. Additionally, the company said any shift volunteers willing to assist in harvest and fabrication floor activities could report to work beginning at 2:45 p.m.

“During the evacuation, Triumph Foods made the safety and well-being of its employees the top priority and will continue to do so as those employees return to work,” the company said.

Stephen McFarland, general plant manager in St. Joseph, added, “We want to thank our dedicated staff members who voluntarily participated in the evacuation shutdown protocols and re-commencement efforts. We are a resilient enterprise with hard-working, committed employees. As we return to a normal schedule of operations, we remain committed to fulfill our customers’ needs, ensure sustainable work for our employees and support our local community.”


Severe supply rationing has begun

Getty Images A vendor in China sell a variety of pork cuts

Last month’s hog article was most difficult for me to write. After covering shorts, all shorts early last fall and accumulating call option positions, large positions during the fourth quarter and part of January, hog prices continued to collapse during February. Gaps on the charts left from last August, incredibly, were filled with April hogs driven downward and well below the fall lows. Cash hog prices reached a 20-year low, hams were trading at 10-year lows and loins were so cheap that data bases going back 40 years had never seen prices so low. Indeed, I had more than one, and in fact several, suggest to me directly that I had no idea what I was talking about.

As I re-read last month’s article I relished the fifth paragraph. I quote “I still contend that the African swine fever story will dominate the fundamental news before the end of the year. I’m not interested in downplaying the impact for fear of getting my producers trapped in a rapid acceleration of hog prices at some point this spring/summer.” End of quote. 

Sometimes the futures market, in rare instances, is simply not in tune or not capable of anticipating major changes in fundamental developments until they actually rear their head. We (the market) have known about ASF in China since last fall. However, the market was unable or unwilling to come to terms with the situation until strong evidence surfaced. In my opinion, this evidence was the rapid escalation of cases reported in Vietnam in early March. In a one week period, upon learning that ASF had been detected in Vietnam, more than double the cases had been reported than total cases reported out of China over a seven month period. This is when the market finally began to realize, or believe that the situation was much worse in China than what had been reported.

Two items are key. First, ASF in China is going to have a long tail, a very long tail. They’ll likely still be fighting this disease three to five years from now. It will totally change the manner of hog farming in China. Larger, more efficient and vastly more secure farms will replace the courtyard producer of today which comprises from 30% to 40% of the hog herd. Perhaps 10 years from now China will be much more self-sufficient in pork production. That is, however, a long way down the road. Second, because of panic breeding herd liquidation that occurred this winter, the magnitude of the situation is amplified dramatically. This is the key development which was misunderstood or misjudged by myself this winter. This caused a short term flood of pork in China, and contributed to the depressed hog market in the fourth quarter and extending into February.

Cutting right to the chase, right to the point, my number one advice to clients, whether producer hedger or spec, DON’T GO SHORT THIS MARKET. Don’t pay any attention to overbought indicators. A rationing process has begun and will continue until or unless we are stricken with ASF in America. The function of market prices is to ration supplies. Markets don’t ration demand. They curb demand with high prices. Markets, through changes in price, ration available supply. If China is going to need to replace 20% to 40% of their production, down the road, there will not be enough pork in the world. Sharply higher prices will be required to ration the supply. This is the process that has started.

What will make this move in cash, cutout and futures so dramatic is two-fold. First, the sudden realization that we need to ration supply was actually realized when prices were still at historical lows. The market now needs to swing the pendulum clear to the other end of the spectrum. Second, because U.S. hog producers had been losing money, large amounts of money in their operations for at least six months, in tandem with the threat that ASF can possibly develop in the U.S., it’s highly likely that lending funds dried up and contraction of U.S. hog breeding numbers will be revealed on the upcoming hog and pig report. Indeed, the market signals, up and until two weeks ago, was to contract, not expand. The quarterly hog and pig report is scheduled for release on Thursday, March 28.

My advice to our hedge clients is to secure puts to establish a price floor while leaving the upside to prices wide open. As long as the U.S. remains disease free, this is your time, your time to reap a generous profit.

Don’t hesitate to contact me if you need help in executing a hedging and or trading scheme.

Source: Dennis Smith, who is solely responsible for the information provided, and wholly owns the information. Informa Business Media and all its subsidiaries are not responsible for any of the content contained in this information asset.

MORNING Midwest Digest, March 25, 2019

Five of the final Sweet Sixteen basketball teams are from the heartland of America.

Rain could contribute to more flooding later this week. They could create a 1-foot rise in the Missouri River in the Nebraska area.

Twenty-six dogs were rescued from the flood in Iowa.

China has booked its largest purchase of grain from the U.S. in five years.

In fewer than half of all homicides, the killer is convicted.

A North Dakota World War II hero has passed away. 


Photo: кирилл поляшенко/Getty Images

Farm Progress America, March 25, 2019


Max Armstrong shares a look at a lawsuit filed by farmers against the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers where a judge ruled in favor of the farmers. Back in 2004 the Corps changed how it managed the Missouri River due to the Endangered Species Act. The group made moves designed to protect species, not property. Max shares more details.


Farm Progress America is a daily look at key issues in agriculture. It is produced and presented by Max Armstrong, veteran farm broadcaster and host of This Week in Agribusiness.


Photo: Scott Olson/Getty Images

This Week in Agribusiness, March 23, 2019

Part 1

Note: The video automatically plays through all show parts once you start.

Max Armstrong and Chad Colby start off with a chat with Greg Soulje to talk about the ongoing flood disaster in the Midwest and what the spring rains might hold. They also get a report from farm broadcaster Bryce Doeschot on the ground in Nebraska. Brian Basting of Advance Trading talks with Max and Chad about the impact of the flooding on the markets, where the effect has been modest.

Part 2

Brian Basting of Advance Trading rejoins Max and Chad to turn towards the livestock markets including international trade and the flood challenge there, also a look at the upcoming USDA reports. In the Colby Ag Tech segment Chad talks about his visit to NASA’s Kennedy Space Center which has influenced ag technology in many ways.

Part 3

Max Armstrong and Chad Colby get a report from Delaney Howell who is talking with Iowa ag secretary Mike Naig about markets for Iowa crops. They also hear from Lynn Ketelsen reporting from Minnesota on international trade impacts on poultry.  

Part 4

Max Armstrong and Chad Colby were both in Orlando for Commodity Classic and they talked with a lot of highly-successful growers and Dekalb-Asgrow staff who were represented well in the yield contest. Agricultural Meteorologist Greg Soulje give us the agriculture weather forecast for the week ahead.

Part 5

Agricultural Meteorologist Greg Soulje returns to take a look at the long-range weather picture.

Part 6

In Max’s Tractor Shed, Max introduces a 1931 McCormick-Deering Iron Mule own by Van Merchant in Pecatonica, Illinois and will be at the upcoming Mecum Auction. Chad Colby profiles Somonauk-Leland-Sandwich FFA in Somonauk, Illinois where they provide leaf pick-up in their town. Member Avery Plote who shares how he’s taking skills learned in FFA and sharing them.

Part 7

Max Armstrong and Chad Colby talk with Mark Stock, Founder and Chairman of Big Iron Auctions, who is in Nebraska and reports on flood damage there. Max talks with Sam and Jenn Zimmerman, Wisconsin dairy farmers, about the challenges in the industry.

Oklahoma youth swine show breaks with PED virus

Logo to stop porcine epidemic diarrhea virus (PEDV)

The porcine epidemic diarrhea virus was diagnosed this week at the Oklahoma Youth Expo. Several pigs have become ill and it is assumed most pigs that were at the show have been exposed.

All attendees at the 2019 Night of Stars and the gilt and/or barrow shows specifically, and the Oklahoma Youth Expo in general, are urged to use the strictest biosecurity possible upon return to farms.

Biosecurity protocols should include:

  • If taking animals from OYE home to the farm, isolate those animals until it can be confirmed they have not been exposed or are contagious. This is a highly infectious disease where a very small amount of virus can cause an infection in pigs.
  • Do not wear the same clothes, shoes, caps, jackets, etc. worn at OYE once arriving home. Clean and disinfect shoes, clothes and outerwear as soon as possible.
  • Clean and disinfect trailer and any tack or equipment that was at OYE. It is best if to clean and disinfect at a location not on farm. 
  • Dispose of any unused feed that was in the barns at OYE. It is possible for virus particles to survive on feedstuffs for some time.
  • Monitor all animals daily for illness. If there are any signs of illness alert a veterinarian immediately.
  • If your pigs do get ill, it is very important to manage biosecurity off the farm as well. Do not go visit other farms. Shower and put on clean clothes and shoes before leaving the farm.

PED causes a transient illness in feeder pigs and mature swine. In baby pigs it can cause up to 100% mortality. It is very contagious and can be transmitted easily on fomites. Howver, PED virus is not a human health risk, and pork is is safe to eat.

Source: Oklahoma Youth Expo, who is solely responsible for the information provided, and wholly owns the information. Informa Business Media and all its subsidiaries are not responsible for any of the content contained in this information asset.

Whole Herd Approach maximizes immunity, minimizes transmission

National Hog Farmer gilts at a feeder

If we want to understand influenza A virus in swine, the industry really needs to get back to the simple side of complex, says Christa Goodell, technical manager for Boehringer Ingelheim Animal Health USA Inc.

“We actually have a much better appreciation for what it takes to report and to measure IAV-S. It’s been very hard to assess and say, ‘IAV-S causes this, it has this impact in my production system,’” Goodell says. “But we really need to do a better job helping producers, as well as ourselves as veterinarians, better understand the true cost of IAV-S, not only on its own but in the context of co-infections and the overall health of a herd.”

While better methods to measure IAV-S’s impact are needed, not just at closeouts but also in real time, one technique that has been successful in controlling IAV-S is the Whole Herd Approach. During Boehringer Ingelheim’s Pre-AASV Symposium, Goodell shared why WHA has worked so well during her presentation “IAV-S Control: Reminders of What Made Whole-Herd Approach a Success.”

Goodell says with high flu numbers and many different strains present, even on the same farm, IAV-S can be difficult to manage.

“Many pigs are exposed younger than 10 days of age,” Goodell says. “Trying to get pigs to have a great immune response when they are getting vaccinated at three days and then getting exposed at 10 days is really hard.”

The transmission rate for IAS-V is high and even low prevalence can still lead to flu in the nursery. Aerosols can carry IAV-S, particularly large droplets and aerosol transmission risk increases with an increasing number of shedding pigs. IAV-S is ever changing and multiple strains and co-circulating IAV-S is common in a herd.

Transmission rate can be reduced by maternal antibodies, but it still occurs.  Maternal antibodies and killed vaccines protect against clinical signs/disease but they don’t prevent infection, antigenic drift or resident IAV-S diversity. Transmissions are also prolonged in maternal antibody pig populations.

“We also know pigs are born free of flu. This is not PRRS, this not something that comes in utero, this is not something the pigs pick up from colostrum, so our chance of success is quite high,” Goodell says. “We just need to address the transmission and we have to address the immunity.”

The goal is to reduce exposure in gilts and piglets and immunize so that circulation of the flu is prevented. It really comes down to “minimizing transmission, maximizing immunity,” Goodell says.

A control plan to reduce the influenza endemicity and its impact from farrow to finish, WHA takes a two-prong approach, which involves a strategy to push that resident flu out of the farrowing house to ensure the vaccine has a chance to immunize the pigs and then a strategy to eliminate that strain of flu from the gilt development unit.

The cornerstone of WHA is addressing subpopulations, such as new gilts and piglets and the older piglets in the farrowing house. Another risk factor to consider is human behavior.

Goodell says there are three key steps to implementing the WHA for Site 1 Endemicity:

  1. Characterize current status. Implement whole-herd vaccination in sow farms with actively circulating IAV-S. Include on-site growing pigs and gilts. Execute immunization plans to all subsequent replacement animals.
  2. Focus on high-risk farrowing house management activities. Assess movement of people, tools and animals. Implement best practices for biosecurity of neonatal pigs.
  3. Immunize all commercial pigs and replacement animals as early as day one.

The same procedure can be used during a herd closure event and should be included in all PRRS closure practices along with mass vaccination. A batch farrowing system is another opportunity to implement the WHA.

“If we batch farrow, we are all in and all out, as long as we do a good job of cleaning and disinfecting, and if our gilts aren’t bringing new flu in, we are actually ahead of the game in these systems,” Goodell says. “If we use vaccine to homogenize the populations, we are already there. Again, these are just opportunities where the Whole Herd Approach works.”