| TSLN.com

Nebraska ag producers pay nearly 50 percent more than the national average in property taxes

Nobody likes taxes, but Nebraska farmers and ranchers have even more to dislike than many others around the country.

According to a study by J. David Aiken, Nebraska agriculture property taxes are among the highest in the United States. Over the last three years, Nebraska farmers and ranchers have paid nearly 31 percent of their net farm income as property taxes (47 percent in 2017). Aiken, an agriculture and Water Law Specialist Department with the agricultural Economics University of Nebraska-Lincoln, said that when state and federal taxes are factored in, this represents an effective tax rate of more than 50 percent (over 60 percent in 2017.) Nebraska property taxes on agricultural land as a percentage of net farm income are 146 percent of the United States average (1950-2017 data). The twenty year average is 150 percent, the ten year average is 147 percent, the five year average is 164 percent and the three year average is 188 percent. Property taxes are the single largest tax paid in Nebraska accounting for 38 percent of total state and local tax collections.

The study revealed that sales taxes make up 29 percent of total taxes, and income taxes are 26 percent. Sixty percent of property taxes go to K-12 education funding. All property taxes fund local government—cities, counties, and local school districts. All income taxes and 84 percent of sales taxes are used to fund the state government. Currently with high ag land values across the state, 85 percent of state aid goes to non-agricultural areas and 15 percent is distributed across the board to all school districts. Two-thirds of Nebraska school districts (largely rural) receive little to no state aid.

In Nebraska in 2017, 42,502 farmers paid $686.5 million dollars in property taxes. On a per-farm basis, that breaks down to $16,151 each, second only to California with the average there being $17,229. The national average in 2017 was $4,902, according to data from the 2017 ag Census collected by Chris Clayton, DTN ag Policy Editor.

John O’Dea lives near McCook, Nebraska with his wife and sons. They are feeling the high tax rate, paying 9 dollars a year per acre of grass. More of his tax dollars are given to support Mid-Plains Community College than he can afford to give his own son, who is putting himself through Fort Hays State University in Hays, Kansas. This for him was a cheaper option than Southeast Community College in Nebraska.

“My sons were talking the other day and they agreed “The expense of being a Nebraskan is getting too high,” O’Dea said. “The state has turned into two liberal cities that expect the rest of the state to support them. Folks are having to work off the place to support the ranch. Who will feed and pay the taxes if they force everyone out. It is having a ripple effect on small towns and communities. Every ag producer that has to take a job in town is taking that job away from someone else. I’m 43 years old and I’m paying more for property taxes now than I did for rent when I started. Land in Nebraska is a liability.”

O’Dea feels that there will be some major changes made as producers attempt to refinance land and cattle in the next few years especially with land values going down. The O’Dea family is seriously considering moving their base of operation to a more ag friendly state in the near future.

“The death losses in Nebraska alone will more than offset what USDA estimated what the calf crop was set to increase in 2019. If calf and yearling prices are not considerably higher this fall, our supply and demand market is broken beyond repair. The cow calf expansion phase was at or near its peak, so these losses will pull us back into a shrinking phase in the cow calf sector,” O’Dea said.

Another Nebraska rancher, Karina Jones, said that on top of weather-related disasters, her state’s property taxes are overwhelming.

“Property taxes are like a second mortgage,” said Karina Jones.

The Jones Ranch in Custer County Nebraska has been hit hard by nature and in a way kicked repeatedly while they were down.

“Our situation is unique. We endured the hailstorm in August of 2017 we had to wean calves immediately and start feeding cows on August 13. We didn’t have a blade of grass left on this ranch,” she remembers. By early December of that year, they were running out of feed, and they were forced to send all of the mother cows to be fed by someone off the ranch. “We fed cows from Aug 13, 2017 to June 1, 2018,” Jones said.

Jones believes the state is taking advantage of ranchers like herself and her husband.

“You would think the government would value people like us. We have a particular skill set that can not be taught in a classroom. You can not learn how to be a rancher from Google. It is generations of DNA intelligence. When they put us out of business, it is all lost. Society won’t be able to get that back. We have a particular skill set to feed the world and I can not think of a more noble profession than that,” Jones said. “It doesn’t matter if you own the ground or lease it. The cost of these high taxes is carried by the producer, the cow/calf man or the yearling guy. With the poor cattle markets the last few years we cannot support this tax burden. I do not know the last time I bought my girls a special sports drink at the supermarket line or convenience store. I cannot afford extras!”

The Jones are not a multi-generational operation. “We do not have the working capital of the generations before us to lean on. It all falls squarely on our shoulders, just like many other operators around us. It is a big load to carry,” Jones said.

The Jones’ had insurance on their home but hay loss from the hail storm was not covered because hail is a non-covered peril. The same with destroyed grass, trees lost, poor weaning weights on the calves that the cows had at side and poor performing calves that they had in utero. “We just want to raise cattle and kids. That’s all. We don’t want to take from anyone else. We want to give back and better our communities. We want to contribute fairly to our tax commitments. We want to feed our neighbors with a high quality product that we are proud to feed our own families.”

Jones would like to see some producer support meetings where others like her could share ideas. “We all need some good education and a place to be positive and focus on solutions. And yet we need a safe place to be heard. The bankers need us to stay in business,” said Leah Peterson of Custer County, Nebraska. “And none of us want easy; we just want a fair shot. Taxes take that away. As someone says, it’s like paying taxes on a 401K every year.”

Jim Scott, branch president of Bruning State Bank in Broken Bow, Nebraska said, “High property taxes are definitely a major issue due to the current ag economy and high expenses. There has been a depreciation of land values in the last 12 months, due to more land being sold and less profitability, people are looking to reduce debt load.”

“We need to even the tax burden on all citizens, like with a sales tax increase; we are waiting on the legislature to help. Producers need to get involved and pay attention to how money is spent,” Scott said.

PRCA Standings as of May 21, 2019

All-Around Standings

Rank, Name, City, State, Earnings

1. Caleb Smidt, Bellville, TX………………..83,412.48

2. Tuf Cooper, Decatur, TX………………..60,321.49

3. Stetson Wright, Milford, UT………………..59,437.54

4. Rhen Richard, Roosevelt, UT………………..48,731.67

5. Steven Dent, Mullen, NE………………..34,749.59

6. Daylon Swearingen, Rochelle, GA………………..34,029.14

7. Trevor Brazile, Decatur, TX………………..33,024.65

8. Landon McClaugherty, Tilden, TX………………..30,803.04

9. Clayton Hass, Weatherford, TX………………..29,576.98

10, Marcus Theriot, Poplarville, MS………………..26,593.99

11. Bart Brunson, Terry, MS………………..22,334.97

12. Eli Lord, Sturgis, SD………………..20,631.83

13. Tim Pharr, Resaca, GA………………..18,613.71

14. Tanner Green, Cotulla, TX………………..16,662.97

15. Shane Proctor, Grand Coulee, WA………………..14,343.56

16. Chance Oftedahl, Pemberton, MN………………..13,328.67

17. Delon Parker, worden, MT………………..11,515.10

18. Riley Warren, Stettler, AB………………..10,974.88

19. JoJo LeMond, Andrews, TX………………..10,889.68

20, Rhett Kennedy, Chowchilla, CA………………..10,338.62

Bareback Riding Standings

Rank, Name, City, State, Earnings

1. Kaycee Feild, Genola, UT………………..115,965.14

2. Orin Larsen, Inglis, MB………………..91,732.69

3. Ty Breuer, Mandan, ND………………..79,260.32

4. Richmond Champion, The Woodlands, TX………………..71,681.68

5. Tilden Hooper, Carthage, TX………………..71,591.27

6. Clayton Biglow, Clements, CA………………..63,983.44

7. Austin Foss, Terrebonne, OR………………..48,393.32

8. Caleb Bennett, Corvallis, MT………………..43,266.77

9. Bill Tutor, Huntsville, TX………………..42,330.36

10, Taylor Broussard, Estherwood, LA………………..40,200.43

11. Steven Peebles, Redmond, OR………………..38,835.49

12. Logan Patterson, Kim, CO………………..38,630.32

13. Wyatt Denny, Minden, NV………………..37,106.88

14. R.C. Landingham, Hat Creek, CA………………..36,558.72

15. Jake Brown, Cleveland, TX………………..34,336.68

16. Steven Dent, Mullen, NE………………..31,279.49

17. Connor Hamilton, Calgary, AB………………..31,029.66

18. Tanner Aus, Granite Falls, MN………………..29,801.84

19. Clint Laye, Cadogan, AB………………..27,613.71

20, Seth Hardwick, Ranchester, WY………………..27,259.17

Steer Wrestling Standings

Rank, Name, City, State, Earnings

1. Ty Erickson, Helena, MT………………..101,161.53

2. Josh Garner, Live Oak, CA………………..66,096.30

3. Tyler Waguespack, Gonzales, LA………………..58,399.12

4. Scott Guenthner, Provost, AB………………..57,785.26

5. Hunter Cure, Holliday, TX………………..54,005.31

6. Riley Duvall, Checotah, OK………………..39,028.28

7. Cameron Morman, Glen Ullin, ND………………..38,770.40

8. Kyle Irwin, Robertsdale, AL………………..38,249.00

9. Tyler Pearson, Louisville, MS………………..36,664.83

10, Stephen Culling, Fort St. John, BC………………..33,991.85

11. Josh Clark, Belgrade, MT………………..33,970.76

12. Dakota Eldridge, Elko, NV………………..33,854.81

13. Tanner Brunner, Ramona, KS………………..33,601.58

14. Will Lummus, West Point, MS………………..30,924.86

15. Chason Floyd, Buffalo, SD………………..30,881.00

16. Juan Alcazar Jr, Okeechobee, FL………………..30,109.80

17. Tanner Milan, Cochrane, AB………………..30,100.46

18. Stetson Jorgensen, Blackfoot, ID………………..29,763.53

19. Justin Shaffer, Hallsville, TX………………..28,750.55

20, Dirk Tavenner, Rigby, ID………………..28,576.12

Team Roping (Headers) Standings

Rank, Name, City, State, Earnings

1. Ty Blasingame, Casper, WY………………..73,228.67

2. Clay Smith, Broken Bow, OK………………..65,415.64

3. Coleman Proctor, Pryor, OK………………..63,529.64

4. Riley Minor, Ellensburg, WA………………..54,131.71

5. Cody Snow, Los Olivos, CA………………..48,316.95

6. Luke Brown, Rock hill, SC………………..45,626.22

7. Paul David Tierney, Oklahoma City, OK………………..39,176.71

8. Tate Kirchenschlager, Yuma, CO………………..38,637.85

9. Kaleb Driggers, Hoboken, GA………………..36,762.82

10, Jake Cooper, Monument, NM………………..36,212.09

11. Clay Tryan, Billings, MT………………..33,505.01

12. Chad Masters, Cedar Hill, TN………………..32,104.62

13. Tyler Wade, Terrell, TX………………..31,354.77

14. Spencer Mitchell, Orange Cove, CA………………..23,440.80

15. Matt Sherwood, Pima, AZ………………..23,312.59

16. Dustin Egusquiza, Mariana, FL………………..23,221.82

17. Cory Kidd V, Statesville, NC………………..22,400.48

18. Steven Duby, Hereford, OR………………..20,803.24

19. Blake Hirdes, Turlock, CA………………..20,565.55

20, Clayton Van Aken, Descanso, CA………………..19,880.20

Team Roping (Heelers) Standings

Rank, Name, City, State, Earnings

1. Kyle Lockett, Visalia, CA………………..81,645.41

2. Ryan Motes, Weatherford, TX………………..71,808.63

3. Jake Long, Coffeyville, KS………………..57,915.64

4. Brady Minor, Ellensburg, WA………………..54,131.70

5. Paul Eaves, lonedell, MO………………..49,681.66

6. Tanner Braden, Dewey, OK………………..39,176.71

7. Wesley Thorp, Throckmorton, TX………………..39,149.47

8. Junior Nogueira, Burleson, TX………………..36,762.82

9. Caleb Anderson, Mocksville, NC………………..36,212.09

10, Ross Ashford, Lott, TX………………..35,193.09

11. Hunter Koch, Vernon, TX………………..34,749.76

12. Travis Graves, Jay, OK………………..33,505.01

13. Joseph Harrison, Overbrook, OK………………..33,192.75

14. Jade Corkill, Fallon, NV………………..24,791.35

15. Kory Koontz, Stephenville, TX………………..23,221.82

16. Chase Boekhaus, Rolla, KS………………..22,848.44

17. Billie Jack Saebens, Nowata, OK………………..22,134.97

18. Logan Medlin, Tatum, NM………………..20,197.53

19. Trey Yates, Pueblo, CO………………..19,808.42

20, Tyler Worley, Berryville, AR………………..19,736.55

Saddle Bronc Riding Standings

Rank, Name, City, State, Earnings

1. Ryder Wright, Beaver, UT………………..140,241.51

2. Zeke Thurston, Big Valley, AB………………..93,369.11

3. Jesse Wright, Milford, UT………………..80,391.55

4. Chase Brooks, Deer Lodge, MT………………..74,115.78

5. Jacobs Crawley, Boerne, TX………………..58,833.72

6. Sterling Crawley, Stephenville, TX………………..57,879.84

7. Jake Watson, Hudsons Hope, BC………………..57,675.29

8. Isaac Diaz, Desdemona, TX………………..52,519.52

9. Rusty Wright, Milford, UT………………..52,220.47

10, Bradley Harter, Loranger, LA………………..51,703.25

11. Spencer Wright, Milford, UT………………..50,839.75

12. Jesse Kruse, Great Falls, MT………………..39,492.19

13. Cody DeMoss, Heflin, LA………………..35,572.64

14. Wade Sundell, Boxholm, IA………………..32,512.35

15. Dawson Hay, wildwood, AB………………..30,956.69

16. JJ Elshere, Hereford, SD………………..30,727.16

17. Kolby Wanchuk, Sherwood Park, AB………………..27,187.72

18. Jade Blackwell, Rapid City, SD………………..23,216.06

19. Joey Sonnier, New Iberia, LA………………..22,860.03

20, Jake Finlay, Goondiwindi, QL………………..20,949.38

Tie-Down Roping Standings

Rank, Name, City, State, Earnings

1. Michael Otero, Weatherford, TX………………..81,434.64

2. Tyson Durfey, Brock, TX………………..73,951.19

3. Caleb Smidt, Bellville, TX………………..72,679.36

4. Shane Hanchey, Sulphur, LA………………..61,138.90

5. Tuf Cooper, Decatur, TX………………..53,587.75

6. Haven Meged, Miles City, MT………………..52,036.83

7. Riley Pruitt, Gering, NE………………..48,267.17

8. Rhen Richard, Roosevelt, UT………………..41,132.72

9. Marty Yates, Stephenville, TX………………..41,060.77

10, Taylor Santos, Creston, CA………………..37,561.68

11. Westyn Hughes, Caldwell, TX………………..36,770.71

12. Ryan Jarrett, Comanche, OK………………..34,994.66

13. Cooper Martin, Alma, KS………………..34,941.75

14. Cimarron Boardman, Stephenville, TX………………..33,116.02

15. Justin Thigpen, Waycross, GA………………..30,205.13

16. Adam Gray, Seymour, TX………………..28,303.26

17. Timber Moore, Aubrey, TX………………..28,242.76

18. Ty Harris, San Angelo, TX………………..28,133.74

19. Tyler Milligan, Pawhuska, OK………………..26,806.42

20, Cody Craig, Wendell, ID………………..26,617.43

Steer Roping Standings

Rank, Name, City, State, Earnings

1. Vin Fisher Jr., Andrews, TX………………..32,562.76

2. Trevor Brazile, Decatur, TX………………..31,657.89

3. Tuf Cooper, Decatur, TX………………..28,915.75

4. Scott Snedecor, Fredericksburg, TX………………..23,051.06

5. Chris Glover, Keenesburg, CO………………..19,425.13

6. Landon McClaugherty, Tilden, TX………………..17,751.37

7. J. Tom Fisher, Andrews, TX………………..17,673.64

8. Tony Reina, wharton, TX………………..17,603.68

9. Shay Good, Abilene, TX………………..17,395.31

10, Brady Garten, Oologah, OK………………..16,340.38

11. Garrett Hale, Snyder, TX………………..15,920.18

12. Chet Herren, Pawhuska, OK………………..14,865.48

13. Jess Tierney, Hermosa, SD………………..14,724.34

14. Cody Lee, Gatesville, TX………………..14,622.37

15. Jason Evans, Glen Rose, TX………………..13,251.02

16. Roger Branch, Wellston, OK………………..12,001.10

17. Brodie Poppino, Big Cabin, OK………………..11,800.29

18. Corey Ross, Liberty Hill, TX………………..11,196.78

19. Cole Patterson, Pratt, KS………………..11,085.44

20, Rocky Patterson, Pratt, KS………………..10,282.91

Bull Riding Standings

Rank, Name, City, State, Earnings

1. Sage Kimzey, Strong City, OK………………..92,855.47

2. Trevor Kastner, Roff, OK………………..85,322.87

3. Parker Breding, Edgar, MT………………..69,107.08

4. Clayton Sellars, Fruitland Park, FL………………..67,773.77

5. Trey Benton III, Rock Island, TX………………..60,549.66

6. Stetson Wright, Milford, UT………………..59,874.56

7. Tyler Bingham, Honeyville, UT………………..59,534.07

8. Jeff Askey, Athens, TX………………..53,390.86

9. Garrett Smith, Rexburg, ID………………..51,586.80

10, Boudreaux Campbell, Crockett, TX………………..49,904.73

11. Trevor Reiste, Linden, IA………………..43,409.68

12. Trey Kimzey, Strong City, OK………………..42,976.14

13. Josh Frost, Randlett, UT………………..39,092.32

14. Lon Danley, Tularosa, NM………………..$36,910.09

15. J.W. Harris, Goldthwaite, TX………………..$36,276.86

16. Cole Melancon, Liberty, TX………………..$36,138.87

17. Aaron Williams, Pismo Beach, CA………………..$36,093.34

18. Roscoe Jarboe, New Plymouth, ID………………..$35,939.68

19. Chase Dougherty, Canby, OR………………..$34,442.13

20. Tristan Mize, Bryan, TX………………..$31,962.14

Barrel Racing Standings (last updated May 20, 2019 | Courtesy of WPRA)

Rank, Name, City, State, Earnings

1. Nellie Miller, Cottonwood, CA………………..$77,539.16

2. Brittany Pozzi Tonozzi, Victoria, TX……………………58,461.12

3. Lisa Lockhart, Oelrichs, SD………………..$56,652.28

4. Hailey Kinsel, Cotulla, TX………………..$55,636.36

5. Ericka Nelson, Century, FL………………..$47,680.75

6. Jimmie Smith, McDade, TX………………..$47,250.57

7. Jennifer Sharp, Richards, TX………………..$45,964.65

8. Shali Lord, Lamar, CO………………..$44,282.16

9. Jessica Routier, Buffalo, SD………………..$39,444.52

10, Stevi Hillman, Weatherford, TX………………..$38,606.19

11. Dona Rule, Minco, OK………………..$38,601.91

12. Jessica Telford, Caldwell, ID………………..$38,330.80

13. Ivy Conrado, Nowata, OK………………..$35,825.46

14. Cheyenne Wimberley, Stephenville, TX………………..$32,970.89

15. Lacinda Rose, Willard, MO………………..$32,605.07

16. Emily Miller, Weatherford, OK………………..$31,317.83

17. Leia Pluemer, Las Lunas, NM………………..$29,926.97

18. Teri Bangart, Olympia, WA………………..$29,378.92

19. Kathy Grimes, Medical Lake, WA………………..$27,064.08

20. Jill Wilson, Snyder, TX………………..$25,676.15

Japan to accept Canadian beef over 30 mos of age

May 21, 2019 – Ottawa, Ontario – Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada and Global Affairs Canada

Maintaining and expanding market access for Canada’s high-quality agricultural products means greater export opportunities, the creation of good, middle-class jobs, and more money in the pockets of Canadian farmers.

Building on a successful G20 Agriculture Ministers’ Meeting and trade visit to Japan, the Honourable Marie-Claude Bibeau, Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food, and the Honourable Jim Carr, Minister of International Trade Diversification, announced that the Government of Canada has secured expanded market access for beef from cattle older than thirty months of age to Japan, the world’s third-largest economy.

Japan is an important market for Canadian beef, with exports to Japan totalling almost $215 million in 2018. Based on industry estimates, the expanded access announced today has the potential to further increase exports by up to 20 per cent, contributing to the government’s goal of $75 billion in annual global agri-food exports by 2025.

This success is due in part to Canada’s competitive advantage in the region, thanks to a recent trade deal with Asia-Pacific countries. Expanded market access for beef provided by the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP) creates further opportunities for Canadian beef exports to Japan. In the first three months CPTPP was in force, Canadian agri-food, fish and seafood exports to CPTPP countries increased 3.6 per cent over the same period in 2018, with Canadian beef exports to Japan increasing by more than 117 per cent.

Canada is committed to providing the safest, highest-quality products to the global marketplace. In early June, Minister Carr will lead a trade mission to Japan and South Korea to promote Canadian exports, including agricultural goods. This mission will build on Canada’s ongoing efforts to maintain market access and to diversify destinations and consumers for Canadian products.

Quotes

“I was pleased to advocate for and represent our hardworking farmers and processors in Japan last week. Increasing and diversifying trade in Asia’s dynamic markets is an important part of our government’s overall trade strategy. Our Government is committed to creating good middle-class jobs by helping our farmers and processors compete and succeed in markets at home and around the world.”

– Marie-Claude Bibeau, Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food

“Increasing access to new and existing markets for Canadian products is at the heart of Canada’s Trade Diversification Strategy. That’s why we are working relentlessly to create the best conditions for our Canadian producers and exporters, including securing agreements like our new deal with Asia and Pacific countries, so they can benefit from privileged access and remain competitive around the world.”

– Jim Carr, Minister of International Trade Diversification

Quick facts

Japan is Canada’s third-largest trade partner in agriculture and food.

Canada’s exports of agriculture, agri-food and seafood products to Japan have increased by 5% in the first three months of 2019 compared to the same period in 2018.

Canadian beef exports to Japan have increased over 117% in the first three months of 2019, compared to the same period last year.

Under CPTPP, Japan’s 38.5% tariffs on beef imports has already been reduced to 26.5%, and will be further reduced to 9% over 14 years. This has provided Canadian exporters with a clear tariff advantage over our key competitors.

–Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada

Baxter Black: Foreign Language

A medical doctor friend of mine was recounting his experiences in Africa as a volunteer for a church missionary program. He said it was very satisfying for the soul but his biggest problem was communicating with the patients. He gave me an odd look and said it gave him a begrudging respect for veterinarians.

Several ago I made a trip to Australia. Grand folks, hospitable and definitely livestock people. However, it did take me several days to get used to the language. It’s like you’re talkin’ Spanish to Italians…they sound so much alike, you actually think you’re communicating!

The only thing I really learned to say in Australian was ketchup. But they call it T’maw-tow-sawz. It didn’t stop me from makin’ friends. I spent a week each with a couple of bush country veterinarians. On the day they planned to pass me from one to the other we made the trip from Barraba to Quirindi. The three of us found much in common, as three ol’ cow vets could. We spent the afternoon at an Angus field day.

That evening my hosts had planned a big formal supper. On our way home a call came over the two-way.

“Can you attend a kawving?” it squawked.

“A carving?” I asked.

“Yes, a kawving.”

It was getting dark as we climbed out of the car at a little farm. The wife said her husband was detained at the pub but the heifer was in the crush. Said heifer was smallish and pitiful lookin’. Sort of a magpie Angus cross. Two cold hooves stuck out behind her tail. It didn’t look good. My colleagues introduced me to the Missus and explained, to my surprise, that she would be pleased to see the American method.

The chute was covered and had a concrete floor. Unfortunately, the floor was wider than the tin roof so the afternoon shower had left two inches of standing muck right where we laid the heifer down.

Soon I was wallowing about on my side in the slimy pool, arm deep inside trying to correct the ‘head back’ malpresentation. My two friends carried on a nonstop commentary describing my procedures to the preoccupied farm wife. She stood, arms folded across her chest as I splashed and scrabbled for some leverage on the slick floor. They held the flashlight and occasionally lent a boot for me to brace against as I pedaled like a three leg-ged crab on glass.

We saved the heifer but lost the calf. I rode to the formal dinner in the backseat, my green underwear sticking to the upholstery. Needless to say, ‘The American Method’ was dinner conversation.

I was reminded of my Australian experiences while listening to the African M.D. Yes, I told him, I could relate. I, too, had been to a foreign country where I didn’t speak the language. But I was able to communicate with my patients. I guess it was because my language was universal. I speak cow.

Lee Pitts: I Can Explain Everything

Any day now I expect to get an e-mail from one of the many editors of the magazines and newspapers who run this column informing me they no longer want my essays because I can’t relate to the millennial generation. To which I say, “Their parents can’t even relate to them and they’ve been living in the same house with them for 26 years, so how do they expect me to?”

They say this because of…

• My continuing reference to things or people that only old geezers like myself have heard of, such as Pall Mall cigarettes, Rexall Drug, soda fountains and the two Andys, Andy Griffith and Andy Williams.

• The fact they are unable to reach me on my cell phone, find me on Facebook or “tweet” to me. Maybe that’s because I’m not on Facebook, I don’t twitter tweets and all the phones in our house have something called “cords.”

• I continue to refer to countries that no longer exist, like Yugoslavia, and sports teams that haven’t been around for decades such as the Seattle Seahawks and New Orleans Jazz.

• The handful of millenials who do read my column don’t like it when I make fun of their lip jewelry, colorful tattoos or that they are struggling to repay their $200,000 college loan while writing an advice column on their blog while living in their parents’ basement.

• I continue to use words that are no longer used by the general public such as cattywampus, chucklehead, dance hall, varmints, lunch bucket, cooties, gallivanting, persnickety and pipsqueaks.

• I also use too many phrases that the majority of Americans have never heard, such as twiddle your thumbs, hubba hubba, jumping Jehosaphat, and tan your hide. When I refer to “eenie meenie mo” my readers confuse them with some hip hop group from New Jersey.

• Quite often I refer to breeds or diseases of farm animals that haven’t been around since Hector was a pup. Oops, there I go again, using phrases that no one has ever heard before.

• Editors also don’t like it when I refer to appliances that are no longer in use such as my mother’s Mixmaster mixer, Oliver tractors and Oldsmobiles. I also date myself when I refer to the toys I played with as a child like steelies (marbles), blocks and rocks. Hey, we were poor, what can I say? Young readers today simply can’t begin to comprehend that a single orange could be a kid’s total take from Santa Claus.

• I lose people when I mention my cowboy idols like Roy Rogers, Dale Evans, Hopalong Cassidy and The Lone Ranger. They aren’t interested in what time the Ed Sullivan Show came on (eight o’clock on Sundays), or that Bonanza came right on after it, but on a different channel. I make myself unbelievable as a writer when I say things that could obviously not be true, such as the fact we only got three channels on our black and white television set and cigarettes made up the bulk of the advertising on TV.

• My continual reference to people like Bob Hope, Douglas McArthur, Mamie Eisenhower, Ed McMahon and Sandy Koufax leave readers scratching their heads. And my Watergate and Woodstock references have readers going to Google to find out who, or what, they were.

• A more urbanized audience knows little about agriculture and I only confuse them when I refer to things like PTO, brucellosis and lactation. They either have never heard of, or have never used, tools such as the hoe, shovel and ball pein hammer.

• Younger readers are miffed at my continued use of proper spelling and complete words when I could get by using a few letters such as “u”, “r” and “LOL.” I suppose they think I should save letters as if they are on the endangered species list. I’m sure there is probably a group somewhere trying to save the “Z.”

• Editors say I should reinvent myself and “grasp the new paradigm,” whatever that means.

I suppose I should look forward to the future more but it’s hard when you know you won’t be around for most of it. So I’ll hang on, trying to remain relevant while insisting that the past isn’t dead as long as I’m around.

R-CALF USA Asks Court to Declare Beef Checkoff Practices in 15 States Unconstitutional

Billings, Mont. – Yesterday, R-CALF USA, through its attorneys, filed documents in the federal district court in Montana asking that its motion to declare the beef checkoff practices in 15 states unconstitutional be granted. Those states are: Hawaii, Indiana, Kansas, Maryland, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, New York, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, South Dakota, Texas, Vermont, and Wisconsin. 

The documents contend that in each of the 15 states, the state beef councils are private corporations that have been keeping half of all the mandatory beef checkoff assessments collected within their states to fund their private speech.  The group is challenging this practice on the grounds that the First Amendment prohibits the government from compelling cattle producers and other citizens to subsidize private speech. 

The remedy to this constitutional violation, according to R-CALF USA, is to allow producers in those 15 states to choose whether or not to fund private corporations.

If producers choose not to fund their private state councils, their money should go to the government to fund its work on behalf of ranchers, which the Supreme Court has held is constitutional. This now occurs in Montana where R-CALF USA was granted a preliminary injunction in June 2017.  

The court documents state R-CALF USA and its members are injured by the state council’s private speech because rather than promote consumption of domestically produced beef, which R-CALF USA believes will benefit its members, the councils promote beef regardless of how or where it was raised. The injury arises because the councils are not accountable to the public, meaning R-CALF USA cannot employ traditional lobbying techniques to advocate for change. Another of the group’s objections is that the state beef councils send checkoff money to third-party entities that are likewise not publicly accountable and that use the money to support the consolidation of the cattle and beef industry, another outcome R-CALF USA opposes. In 2018, the Texas Beef Council, for instance, gave $2 million to the private Federation of State Beef Councils and U.S. Meat Export Federation. Other councils have donated to political advocacy groups like the Wisconsin Livestock Identification Initiative.  “The beef checkoff is eliminating opportunities for U.S. cattle producers to remain profitable by promoting foreign beef as if it were equal to domestic beef and by supporting corporate efforts to consolidate and control our industry. Our members said enough is enough and our plan is to put producers back in control of the checkoff, which our lawsuit helps accomplish,” said R-CALF USA CEO Bill Bullard.     

“The court should grant this motion and bring relief to ranchers in these fifteen states. Independent producers of beef are currently being compelled to subsidize the speech of multinational corporations regardless of their wishes,” said Public Justice Food Project Senior Attorney David Muraskin, who represents R-CALF USA. “Hopefully the unfettered misuse of U.S. cattle producer’s checkoff dollars by the state beef councils, many of which are closely associated with NCBA affiliated state cattlemen’s associations that fought to repeal country of origin labeling for beef, will be a thing of the past,” said J. Dudley Butler.


Attorneys for R-CALF USA include lead counsel David Muraskin, a Food Project Attorney at Public Justice, J. Dudley Butler of Butler Farm and Ranch Law Group, PLLC, and Bill Rossbach of Rossbach Law, P.C. in Missoula, Montana.

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PANHANDLE PERSPECTIVES: Project asks – can farmers produce rubber from dandelions?

Crops growing in the numerous small plots at the UNL Panhandle Research and Extension Center this summer will include the usual assortment of dry beans, corn, sugar beets, peas and various alternative crops. In their midst, one small plot has rows of plants that look like the dandelions in local yards.

In fact, they are dandelions of a different type. Their roots produce rubber, and this test plot is part of a multi-state collaborative project to see if rubber and biofuels can be grown and processed in the United States from dandelions. The project is titled Biofuel and Rubber Research and their Agricultural Linkages (BARRAL).

According to the project proposal, this effort aims to develop rubber dandelion (or TK for the plant’s scientific name, Taraxacum kok-saghyz) as an alternative to help meet the country’s critical need for both transportation biofuels and a domestic supply of natural rubber. It is believed that rubber dandelion could meet both these needs.

Inulin and biomass from the plant can be converted to biofuel, and the natural rubber produced from the plant “has qualities almost identical to the rubber extracted from rubber trees, and can be similarly used for a variety of applications, including technically-sophisticated, high performance automotive tires.”

The BARRAL Consortium is led by The Ohio State University, and has a goal of overcoming potential barriers to commercialization of rubber dandelion. Some of these barriers include mechanical operations, such as planting and harvesting; the agronomy practices used to grow the crop in certain regions; handling, storage and bioprocessing of rubber and biofuel from the dandelions; and the larger impacts that a rubber-producing industry might have on the northern United States.

The three-year project is funded by a grant for $2 million, funded jointly by the Department of Energy and U.S. Department of Agriculture. It has several components, including plant breeding, processing (turning the dandelion roots into rubber) and agronomics. At the Panhandle Center in Scottsbluff, the focus is on the agronomic element, and it is led locally by Nevin Lawrence, Integrated Weed Management Specialist at the Center.

One-fourth of the $2 million total funding goes to the University of Nebraska. The grant will pay for labor, equipment, and materials.

Two other specialists from the Panhandle Center will also be involved. Bijesh Maharjan, Soil and Nutrient Management Specialist, will co-coordinate the irrigation and fertility study. Xin Qiao, Irrigation and Water Management Specialist, will co-coordinate the irrigation and fertility study.

The research in Scottsbluff will focus on what equipment and methods can be used to establish a crop; the optimal length of growing season; the irrigation and fertilizer requirements; how to improve weed control; and the optimal harvest methods.

So far, the dandelion plants are proving difficult to get started in this region’s light soils and windy spring conditions, Lawrence said. Several dandelion plots have been seeded at the Panhandle Center, with varying soil treatments compared: some rows are covered with manure, some with straw, and some with char, a coal combustion residue created as a by-product of refining sugarbeets at regional sugar plants.

The project proposal says that rubber dandelion could be a new source of natural rubber in the event of a sudden global shortage. Currently, all commercially available natural rubber is produced from rubber trees in tropical countries, more than 90 percent in southeast Asia.

The United States imports 1.5 million tons of natural rubber per year for manufacturing, as well as vast quantities of finished goods that contain natural rubber. There is a current global shortfall in global natural rubber production, and global demand is increasing as other countries develop.

This puts the United States and other importing counties at risk of high prices or unavailability of natural rubber.

According to Lawrence, the project got its start with a biochemist from The Ohio State University, Katrina Cornish, who made a presentation at a biochemistry conference. Cornish was studying the dandelions, but found that they would not grow well in the heavier soils typical of Ohio, Lawrence said, but that a lighter, sandier soil might work. Cornish is the Endowed Chair and Ohio Research Scholar, Bioemergent Materials, Department of Horticulture and Crop Science, Department of Food, Agricultural and Biological Engineering.

The suggestion that the Nebraska Panhandle might have suitable soils came from Donald Weeks, an emeritus professor of biochemistry at UNL. Weeks contacted Jack Whittier, Research and Extension Director for the Panhandle, who agreed to pursue the project with Lawrence as the lead for the agronomics section.

In addition to the Nebraska Panhandle, agronomic research is also being conducted at Oregon State University and The Ohio State University, Lawrence said.

To date, rubber from dandelions has not been commercially grown and processed. But Ohio State has contracted with an Ohio grower to produce a small amount that has been processed on a small scale, and it has been used to manufacture tires and other products that match the quality of existing rubber, according to Lawrence. The question is whether it can be grown and processed on a large, commercial scale, and maintain the quality of finished product.

Lawrence cautions that the dandelions will not become a major alternative crop for Panhandle farmers anytime soon. In addition to the agronomic hurdles of how to grow the crop in this area, there are questions about whether it will be possible to grow and produce rubber on a large scale that matches the quality of existing rubber products.

AngusSource® bolsters program with genetic verification

Many cattlemen can say their calves are “Angus-sired”, but when buyers want added assurance, the AngusSource® program now offers an option to document that fact.

The American Angus Association recently added genetic verification into their USDA process verified program (PVP).

“We want our commercial producers to have the tools they need to be eligible for any marketing track they might want to take,” says Ginnette Gottswiller, director of commercial programs for the Association.

“When we saw demand at the packing level for verified Angus usage, it was a logical addition.”

As Angus-influenced cattle are evaluated for USDA branded beef programs, the Association’s Live Animal Specification determines initial eligibility. Cattle qualify in one of two ways, by:

phenotype—predominantly solid black

genotype— traceable to one parent, or two grandparents, registered with the American Angus Association

The new Angus-Sired Genetics component enables cattle to qualify as Angus-influence under the genotype requirement, regardless of hide color.

“This program is designed to document and add value to calves in a marketplace demanding additional transparency,” Gottswiller says.

All cattle enrolled in AngusSource are automatically group age and source verified. Other verifiable enrollment options include:

Non-Hormone Treated Cattle (NHTC)

Never Ever3, or a “never ever” program which certifies the animals have never received hormone growth promotants, antibiotics or been fed animal by-products

Cattle care and handling, a documentation and audit program

Calf management, which certifies preventative animal health programs

“Adding the Angus-Sired Genetics option gives progressive cattlemen one more tool to be successful and grow their profits,” she says. “That’s our continual goal.”

For more information about AngusSource enrollment, visit angussource.com.

–American Angus Association

Smooth crabgrass – Crabgrass seeds begin to germinate when the soil temperature consistently reaches 55 degrees.

Crabgrass seeds begin to germinate when the soil temperature consistently reaches 55 degrees.

Crabgrass is a warm-season annual weed with a wide leaf that can look unattractive to homeowners wanting a healthy lawn, says Esther McGinnis, NDSU Extension horticulturist.

Although the plants die with the first hard frost, a large soil seedbank ensures a new crop of weeds each year.

Smooth crabgrass – Crabgrass seeds begin to germinate when the soil temperature consistently reaches 55 degrees.

Crabgrass seeds begin to germinate in spring when the soil temperature, at a depth of 2 inches, consistently reaches 55 degrees. Seeds will continue to germinate throughout summer but the majority will germinate at soil temperatures between 60 and 70 degrees.

“With our late spring, turf soil temperatures have been slow to rise. However, the soil will warm very quickly this week with warmer air temperatures,” says McGinnis. “Now is the time to apply a crabgrass pre-emergent herbicide before we reach this germination threshold.”

To check on the turf soil temperature in your area, please consult the North Dakota Agricultural Weather Network (NDAWN) website at https://ndawn.ndsu.nodak.edu/soil-temps.html. Crabgrass preventers are a class of pre-emergent herbicides that are applied before the crabgrass seeds germinate. Most pre-emergent herbicides will not provide effective control after germination.

Commonly available crabgrass preventers include active ingredients such as pendimethalin, prodiamine and dithiopyr. Of these three herbicides, dithiopyr is the only one that has early post-emergent activity. Dithiopyr can control crabgrass seedlings that are in the one- to three-leaf stage.

“When applying a crabgrass preventer, follow all label instructions,” McGinnis recommends.

To be effective, it is necessary to apply 1/2 inch of water to dissolve the granules and move the herbicide into the top layer of soil. Once dissolved, the crabgrass preventer will form a barrier in the soil.

Do not apply a standard crabgrass preventer to newly seeded lawns. The pre-emergent herbicide cannot differentiate between crabgrass seeds and lawn seeds. Instead, products that contain the active ingredients mesotrione or siduron (Tuperan) can be used in that situation.

–NDSU Extension

UW taps food science expert as College of Agriculture and Natural Resources dean

A food scientist, engineer and attorney who is internationally recognized for her expertise in food safety, processing and regulation has been selected to lead the University of Wyoming’s College of Agriculture and Natural Resources.

Barbara Rasco, director of the joint Washington State University/University of Idaho School of Food Science, will take the reins as dean of the UW college June 28. The UW Board of Trustees approved the appointment today (Friday), following a nationwide search involving constituents and stakeholders across the state.

“We’re delighted that a scholar and leader of Dr. Rasco’s caliber has agreed to lead this academic college that plays such an important role in fulfilling the university’s land-grant mission across Wyoming and beyond,” Provost Kate Miller says. “Her experience in developing one of the nation’s strongest food safety outreach programs, working extensively with the agricultural and food sectors, gives us great confidence that she will lead the College of Agriculture and Natural Resources to new levels of excellence in education, research and service.”

Rasco said she is excited to work with the faculty, staff and students of the college, as well as Wyoming’s cornerstone agriculture industry, to support the state’s traditional animal and crop production and drive diversification to strengthen Wyoming’s economy.

“I am excited to join the University of Wyoming and to share the optimism, curiosity and unshakeable determination for which the students, faculty and staff are known,” Rasco said. “I look forward to working with these talented individuals to build the next generation of future leaders in agriculture, human science and natural resource management.”

Rasco said the shared vision is to improve the quality of life for people in Wyoming and the global community by living the land-grant mission and integrating quality education, innovative research and impactful outreach programs to provide innovative solutions for some of the most pressing needs facing the people of Wyoming, nation and world.

Rasco has held her current position since 2014 at the Washington State University/University of Idaho School of Food Science, where she has served as a professor since 1998. From 1983-1998, she was a professor in the Institute of Food Science and Technology and assistant director of the Division of Aquaculture and Food Science in the University of Washington’s College of Ocean and Fisheries Sciences.

She earned a bachelor’s degree in bioengineering from the University of Pennsylvania (1979), a Ph.D. in food science and nutrition from the University of Massachusetts (1983) and a law degree from Seattle University in 1995 and is licensed to practice in Washington state and federal court, where she specializes in matters related to food and agriculture.

Rasco also has private-sector experience as a biochemical engineer and a food scientist, providing assistance to hundreds of companies in the United States through outreach activities and extension programming.

Rasco’s research has focused on food quality and safety, process design and product development. She has developed analytical methods to predict the safety and quality of food using spectroscopic, nanomaterial and microfluidic systems.

In addition to working extensively with the agricultural and food sectors in specialty crops and other operations, she has provided technical and legal assistance to small and medium enterprises in 37 countries to improve food security, economic development and public health.

–UW Extension

Resources, tools & support provided during SDSU Extension farm stress workshops

BROOKINGS, S.D. – Over time, the impacts of low markets and extreme weather can take a toll on South Dakota’s farmers, ranchers and those who care about them.

“Staff began to share tough stories of how these chronic stressors were impacting agriculture producers. Stress of hearing these stories, but not knowing what to do was impacting our team. We knew we needed to do something,” explained Suzanne Stluka, SDSU Extension Food & Families Program Director.

In response, SDSU Extension hosted workshops across the state to provide agriculture producers, their family, friends and those who serve them, with the knowledge to recognize and respond to signs of chronic stress, which can result in changes in emotions and behavior.

Uniquely designed, SDSU Extension hosted two separate workshops: one focused on agriculture producers and their families, the other designed for agri-business and service providers.

Led by SDSU Extension staff who received national Mental Health First Aid training, the workshops focused on stress management strategies as well as support strategies when dealing with the impacts of chronic stress or working with those suffering from chronic stress. The first set of workshops were held on April 15, 2019 in Aberdeen, Sioux Falls, Pierre and Rapid City. More workshops will be held on May 23, 2019 at SDSU Extension Regional Centers in Lemmon, Mitchell, Watertown and Winner.

“I don’t think anxiety or depression is something people readily discuss. It’s easier to talk about concerns over the weather or markets – but these factors, which our farmers and ranchers cannot control – can have a lasting and unhealthy impact on them and their families,” says Krista Ehlert, Assistant Professor & SDSU Extension Range Specialist, whose position is based in the Natural Resource Management Department within the College of Agriculture, Food & Environmental Sciences.

Ehlert was among the team of SDSU Extension staff leading the workshops.

She and the other workshop presenters traveled to Michigan State University to participate in Mental Health First Aid training, to be trained to lead farm stress workshops. They joined more than 100 extension personnel from 20 land grant institutions across the nation.

“The economic and extreme weather challenges, and the impact the resulting chronic stress has on farmers, ranchers and those who care about them, is not isolated to South Dakota. It is nationwide,” Ehlert says.

In addition to understanding the warning signs of chronic stress, the workshops provide some stress management techniques, emphasize the importance of self-care and encourage producers to reach out for support from family, friends or professionals.

“Everyone has stress. You often don’t know what people are going through. Being aware of symptoms and how to communicate more effectively with people experiencing extreme stress makes a difference because you feel like you can help,” Ehlert says.

Attendee feedback from the first workshops emphasized the value in discussing the topic, Stluka added. “As we talked with participants, and from surveys, they kept saying they were glad we brought them together to talk about this. We need to make sure our farmers and ranchers understand they are not alone.”

May 23 workshop information

Two workshops will be held May 23, 2019 at SDSU Extension Regional Centers in Lemmon, Mitchell, Watertown and Winner.

Communicating with Farmers Under Stress workshop is designed for agri-business professionals and service providers. It begins at 9 a.m. MT / 10 a.m. CT until 1 p.m. MT / 2 p.m. CT. The workshop is designed to help participants with the following:

1. Build awareness around potentially stressful conditions affecting some farmers.

2. Learn stress triggers, identify signs of stress, and review helpful techniques for responding.

3. Learn techniques for identifying, approaching and working with farmers who may not cope with stress effectively.

4. Learn where to go for additional help.

To help cover costs, this workshop is $30 and includes lunch and handouts. To register, visit extension.sdstate.edu/events and search Farm Stress Workshop. If your organization or business is interested in having a workshop on site, contact Ehlert at 605-394-2236 or krista.ehlert@sdstate.edu to learn more.

Weathering the Storm in Agriculture: How to Cultivate a Productive Mindset workshop is designed for farm and ranch families. The evening meal and workshop are provided at no cost to participants.

The event begins at 5:30 p.m. MT / 6:30 p.m. CT and ends at 7 p.m. MT / 8 p.m. CT. Families are encouraged to attend and bring their children as SDSU Extension 4-H team members will provide programming to youth in attendance.

During the workshop, participants will:

1. Identify stress signs and symptoms.

2. Practice three everyday strategies for managing stress.

3. Make an action plan for managing stress.

4. Find out where to go for more help and resources.

5. Be provided with brief market and climate forecasts to be better prepared, informed, and ready to take action.

To register for this free event, visit extension.sdstate.edu/events and search Farm Stress Workshop.

Signs you or a loved one needs mental health support

So, how do you know if someone you know, or love is battling anxiety or depression? Andrea Bjornestad, Assistant Professor & SDSU Extension Mental Health Specialist shares some symptoms to watch for among family and friends:

Depression, hopelessness

Withdrawal from people or activities they ordinarily enjoy

Negative thoughts, including frequent talk about disappearing or death

Strong feelings of guilt or low self-esteem

Decline in hygiene or appearance

Alcohol or substance misuse

Stockpiling medication

Easy access to firearms

If you see the above symptoms or assume someone is struggling, don’t hesitate to get involved. “If someone is struggling with emotions such as sadness, anger, or irritability, socially withdrawing from others, or changing their behavior, don’t hesitate to ask them if they are thinking about killing themselves,” Bjornestad said. “Don’t be afraid to ask the tough questions. You asking, will not impact a person’s response or thoughts.”

How to begin the conversation? Bjornestad suggests talking to the person alone and in a private location.

“It is important to describe any changes you’ve observed in the person and to let them know that you care about them,” Bjornestad says. “After describing changes, you may need to ask tough questions directly including, “Have you had any recent thoughts of death and dying?” or, “Are you experiencing thoughts of suicide?’”

If the answer is yes, the following resources are important:

Help the person get immediate mental health assistance. Offer options such as the Helpline (dial 211) or Farmers Stress Hotline 800-691-4336; call a family member to come help and potentially take the person to the hospital; call a local mental health crisis team; call for emergency medical services. Do not leave the person alone.

For more information, contact Bjornestad at 605-688-5125 or andrea.bjornestad@sdstate.edu or call the Avera Farmer’s Stress Hotline 800-691-4336 at Avera.org/FarmerStress.

–SDSU Extension