Weekly ag briefs: Tax filing workshop, new rail merger, a butterfly stamp and more

Compiled by Candace Krebs
Bulls for sale to open spring.

Tax filing workshop offered online

Colorado State University’s El Paso County Extension is hosting an online farm tax class on March 31 beginning at 5:30 p.m. The class is designed for anyone planning to file a Schedule F (form 1040) Profit or Loss from Farming tax form. Class fee is $20. Program topics include farm business expenses, farm recordkeeping, reporting farm income and strategies for managing tax liabilities.

CSU entomologist helps launch butterfly stamp

On March 9, Colorado State University entomology professor Paul Opler was presented with the opportunity to combine his interests in stamp collecting and insects when he lent his entomology expertise to the U.S. Postal Service’s first-day-of-issue virtual celebration for a new stamp featuring the Colorado Hairstreak Butterfly. The new stamp is the eighth in the USPS’s series of non-machinable butterfly stamps, which are used on square or oversized envelopes. In 1995, the Colorado Hairstreak Butterfly was designated the state insect. The two-inch butterfly is non-migratory and lives its entire life in the canopy of scrub oak trees on both sides of the Continental Divide. The upper side of the insect’s wings feature vibrant purple markings with black borders and orange accents.

New rail merger announced

Canadian Pacific Railway Limited and Kansas City Southern have entered into a merger agreement that, if approved, would form the sixth largest U.S. Class 1 railroad by revenue. The combined company would operate approximately 20,000 miles of rail line, employ close to 20,000 people and generate total revenues of approximately $8.7 billion based on 2020 figures. The two rail companies will join their transportation networks together in Kansas City, Mo., to form what they describe as “the first rail network connecting the U.S., Mexico, and Canada.”

Limagrain increases focus on CoAXium wheat technology

To provide the best wheat and barley genetics to U.S. farmers, capitalize on the new CoAXium wheat production system — developed at Colorado State University — and explore new crop markets, Limagrain Cereal Seeds recently announced a strategic restructuring. LCS closed its breeding programs in the Midwest and East in January and entered a partnership with small grains seed producer Northern Star Integrated Services. The savings generated from the closure is being reinvested in development of varieties for the Pacific Northwest, Northern Plains and Central Plains regions. In the Central Plains, LCS’ CoAXium varieties, which are used in conjunction with Aggressor herbicides, give farmers unprecedented control over yield-robbing grassy weeds, the company says. In 2022, LCS plans to launch CoAXium hard red spring wheat lines in the Northern Plains and CoAXium soft white winter wheat lines in the PNW.

APHIS authorizes continued use of existing identifiers

After reviewing 944 public comments on a July 2020 notice that proposed to approve Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) as the official ear tag for use in interstate movement of cattle, the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service has decided to use the rulemaking process for future. That means the original notice will not be finalized, and all current APHIS-approved methods of identification can continue to be used as official identification until further notice. APHIS continues to believe RFID tags will provide the cattle industry with the best protection against the rapid spread of animal diseases and will continue to encourage the use of RFID tags while rulemaking is pending. An official ear tag is defined as an identification tag approved by APHIS that bears an official identification number for individual animals. Under the current regulations, ear tags may be used as official identification, and both visual-only metal and plastic tags, as well as RFID tags are current options. The animal disease traceability regulations for cattle apply only to sexually intact beef animals over 18 months of age moving in interstate commerce, cattle used for exhibition, rodeo and recreational events, and all dairy cattle. The regulations permit brands and tattoos as acceptable identification if the shipping and receiving states agree.

New soil health report touts promising results

Soil health practices increased net income for 85 percent of farmers growing corn and 88 percent of farmers growing soybeans, according to a new report from the Soil Health Institute. Researchers interviewed 100 farmers across nine states (Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Michigan, Minnesota, Nebraska, Ohio, South Dakota, and Tennessee) to acquire production information on their tillage practices, nutrient management, pest management, yield changes, and other factors, then evaluated the on-farm economics using partial budget analysis. The data collection and analysis showed that soil health management systems reduced the average cost to grow corn by $24 an acre and soybeans by $17 an acre, and increased net farm income by an average of $52 an acre for corn and $45 an acre for soybeans. In addition, 97 percent of the farmers interviewed reported soil health management systems increased crop resilience to extreme weather.

Elanco CEO to headline sustainability conference

Jeff Simmons, president and CEO of Elanco, will provide the keynote address at the 2021 Global Conference on Sustainable Beef on April 14. His presentation, "Putting Our 'Steak' in the Ground," will provide a view on the importance of sustainability at every level of the beef value chain, as well as how Elanco views their responsibility and commitment to helping the industry be more sustainable. The global conference will also launch a set of goals to be implemented over the next ten years by the Global Roundtable for Sustainable Beef.

NIAA speaker lineup announced

The National Institute for Animal Agriculture has announced its keynote speaker lineup for the upcoming annual conference. Planned around the theme of “Exploring Sustainability in Animal Agriculture – A Comprehensive Approach,” the conference has been scheduled to overlap with Earth Day on April 22 and will occur April 21 through April 23. Keynote speakers will include Charlie Arnot, director of the Center for Food Integrity; Erin Fitzgerald, U.S. Farmers and Ranchers in Action; Mary Matlock, University of Arkansas; and Ernie Shea, Solutions from the Land.

Iowa farmers turn obstacles into opportunity

When the supply chain faced unprecedented challenges causing unpredictable markets and temporarily bare grocery store shelves, Jared Achen and Katie Olthoff were able to turn an obstacle into an opportunity. They’ll share their lessons learned in a keynote address at the 2021 Animal Agriculture Alliance Virtual Stakeholders Summit May 5-6. Olthoff and Achen founded ChopLocal, dubbed the “Etsy of meat,” an online marketplace that connects consumers with farmers to get their meat straight from the source. During their keynote address, Achen and Olthoff will take attendees through their journey of pivoting during a pandemic and their future goals for the company.