In Farm Bureau “Our Food Link” kickoff On March 5, farmer and rancher members of Farm Bureau from around the country officially kicked off the organization’s new “Our Food Link” program in conjunction with a conference for state leaders of Women’s Leadership and Promotion & Education programs. “Our Food Link is a year-round program that county and state Farm Bureaus use to provide consumers of all ages and backgrounds with information about today’s agriculture,” explained Terry Gilbert, a Kentucky farmer and chair of the American Farm Bureau Women’s Leadership Committee. The AFBWLC spearheads the program with participation open to all Farm Bureau members. “People want to know where their food comes from and who is growing or raising it,” Gilbert said. “Helping people connect with sources of clothing, food, shelter and energy in their communities is the foundation of this multifaceted new program,” she said.
On March 7, at its 26th annual induction luncheon in Little Rock, the Arkansas Agriculture Hall of Fame honored six individuals whose leadership and service have brought distinction to the state’s largest industry: (front row, from left) Ruben H. Johnson of Magazine, Leroy Isbell of England, Marion Berry of Gillett, (back row) Jim Smith (accepting for his late father, J. Keith Smith of Hot Springs), Keith Lusby of Fayetteville and O.H. “Doogie” Darling of Crossett. Our Food Link activities range from outreach at supermarkets or farmers’ markets to hosting interactive booths at community events, speaking with lawmakers and neighbors about food, and visiting classrooms to help students understand agricultural topics. Other program ideas include an Adopt-a-Farmer program, fun runs, garden projects and foodie events. Our Food Link activities also may include the collection of food and monetary On March 13, ArFB President Randy Veach (right) discussed Arkansas agriculture with British Consul-General Andrew Millar (center) and Mark Kent, first secretary for the British Embassy, who were in Little Rock for a meeting about the proposed Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership, a trade agreement being negotiated between the U.S. and European Union.
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donations for Ronald McDonald House or other charities. About 15 Farm Bureau members shopped for and donated food to Ronald McDonald House Charities of Greater Washington, D.C. during kickoff week. The connection between Farm Bureau and Ronald McDonald House Charities was forged in the mid-1990s. Since then, Farm Bureau members have donated more than $3 million in food and monetary contribu-
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A Publication of Arkansas Farm Bureau Federation
March 21, 2014 • Vol. 17, No. 6
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tions to Ronald McDonald Houses and other charities. The Our Food Link planning toolkit and publicity tools may be downloaded at http:// bit.ly/1j1jH5H. New Women’s Committee officer Peggy Miller of Lake Village has been named vice chairwoman of the Arkansas Farm Bureau State Women’s Committee. Miller has served on the committee since January 2013 and is filling the post that was vacated when Sherry Felts of Joiner was elected to the ArFB Miller board of directors in December. Miller also serves as chairwoman of the Chicot County Farm Bureau Women’s, Ag in the Classroom and Rural Health & Safety committees. Miller, along with her husband Bobby and son Keith, grows rice, soybeans, wheat and corn on their farm in Lake Village.
At a special dinner Feb. 25 at Chenal Country Club in Little Rock, Arkansas Farm Bureau President Randy Veach presented plaques of appreciation to two outgoing state board members, thanking them for their many years of service to Arkansas agriculture. Richard Armstrong of Ozark (left photo, with his wife Judith) served on ArFB’s state board from 2005 through 2013. Mike Sullivan of Burdette (right photo, with his wife Cynthia) was a state board member from 2009 through 2013.
her busy freshman year of college. With this win, McNeel earned a chance to represent Arkansas at the national discussion meet in Nashville in February 2015. She is a freshman Agriculture Business major and Honors College student at Southern Arkansas University. “It was nerve-wracking because it was my first time to compete at state, but I was glad to be able to win and have the opportunity to go to nationals,” said McNeel. The Young Farmers & Ranchers Discussion Meet competition simulates a committee meeting where discussion and active participation are expected from
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McNeel wins discussion meet Arkansas FFA President Taylor McNeel recently won the state title at the ArFB Young Farmers & Ranchers Discussion Meet, adding another accomplishment to
ArFB’s State Women’s Committee members posed for a photo during the Women’s Conference in Little Rock March 7. Attending were (l to r) Roberta Golmon, Norfork; Donna Bemis, Little Rock; Robin Williams, Forrest City; Sue Billiot, Smithville; Sara Loe, Hot Springs; Angela Jones, Mansfield; Dana Stewart, Judsonia; and chairwoman Janice Marsh, McCrory.
Jason Knapp, Diamond Chef Award Winner and executive chef at Little Rock’s Green Leaf Grill, presented three cooking demonstrations during ArFB’s State Women’s Conference in Little Rock March 8. Knapp prepared Steak au Poivre with Brandy Cream Sauce, a delicious dish each of the conference attendees got to sample during his workshop.
each participant. The judges look for the competitor who offers constructive criticism, cooperation and communication while analyzing agricultural problems and developing solutions. Garden of the Year contest Entries are being accepted for the inaugural Arkansas Grown School Garden of the Year contest sponsored by the Arkansas Agriculture Department and Farm Credit. Applicants can be any Arkansas school, grades pre-K through 12, that had a school garden open during the 2013-14 school year and can provide documentation through photos or video of its uses and existence. Entries will be judged by a committee. Farm Credit is providing funding for the following award categories: Best Nutrition Education Based Garden, $500; Best Community Collaboration Award, $500; Best Environmental Education Focused Garden, $500; and Overall Winning Arkansas Grown School Garden of the Year Award, $1,500. “We are pleased to partner with Farm Credit to recognize the school garden programs that are crucial for educating students about the benefits of fresh produce,” said Arkansas agriculture secretary Butch Calhoun. “The life skills and nutrition lessons learned from the hands-on experience of school garden programs will serve the students well the rest of their lives. The Arkansas Agriculture Department looks forward to receiving applications from schools across the state.”
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Woodland Owners workshop Keeping the forest in the family will be among the topics on the agenda for the Women Woodland Owners Workshop set for March 26 at the University of Arkansas Community College at Hope. Registration begins at 8:30 a.m., with the program beginning at 9 a.m. Registration is $20 and includes lunch, breaks and materials. To register, contact Tamara Walkingstick, associate director of the Arkansas Forest Resources Center, at 501-671-2346 or Caroll Guffey at 501-672-2147. “We’re excited to have Allen and Ginny Nipper, the 2013 Arkansas Tree Farmers of the Year, presenting information on how to conduct family meetings,” Walkingstick said. “The Nippers will be presenting information they’ve learned from their own intergenerational experience, and it’s all material nearly every family can identify with.” The afternoon session includes a tour of Jane and Charles Purtle’s forest land near Prescott. “We’ll learn about their management activities and their approach to handling the family legacy,” Walkingstick said. The Purtles are certified in the Arkansas Tree Farmer Program and the Forest Steward-
On March 11 in Fayetteville, UA soils/ water quality professor Andrew Sharpley (right), leader of the Big Creek Research Team, spoke about the team’s progress evaluating impacts of agricultural endeavors in the Buffalo River watershed. “We’re doing this research and monitoring as part of finding the science, and the science will dictate what goes from here,” he said.
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Applications must be submitted online by Aug. 31. Go to https://www.surveymonkey.com/s/CQ9ZJ5X. For more information, contact Cynthia Edwards at 501-219-6362.
At the Arkansas Agriculture Hall of Fame luncheon March 7 in Little Rock. FFA officers posed for a photo with Sen. Mark Pryor (center) and Arkansas FFA Program Coordinator Marion Fletcher (right). Left to right: Mason Strayhorn of Beebe, Lindsey Triplett of Damascus, Megan McMahen of Taylor, Taylor McNeel of Vilonia and Sunni Wise of Bismarck. ship Council. They also were recognized as Nevada County Farm Family of the Year in 2000.
Elsewhere Young farmer concerns Securing adequate land to grow crops and raise livestock was the top challenge identified again this year in the American Farm Bureau Federation’s annual outlook survey of participants in the Young Farmers & Ranchers program. That challenge was identified by 22 percent of respondents, followed by economic challenges, particularly profitability, which was identified by 15 percent of the respondents “For young people today, securing adequate land to begin farming or expand an established farm or ranch is a major challenge,” said Jake Carter, AFBF’s national YF&R Committee chair and a farmer from Georgia. “Another major challenge is figuring out how to excel – not just survive – in today’s economy,” he said. Other issues ranked as top concerns by young farmers and ranchers included burdensome government regulations and red tape, 12 percent; availability of farm labor and related regulations, 9 percent; water availability and urbanization of
farm land, 7 percent each; and health care availability and cost, 6 percent. Farm to School for students Busy hands make for busy minds. That’s the theory behind experiential, or handson, learning. The high-school-level Farm to School Youth Leadership Curriculum from the Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy, released March 4, is designed with that in mind. Beyond learning about sourcing local food and the research that goes into localizing their school lunch, students participate in creating or expanding a Farm to School program by assisting their school lunchroom staff and administration with the nitty gritty of sourcing local foods for lunch. The curriculum includes six lessons that can be taught consecutively over a semester or as single lessons or activities to complement other classes. Each lesson contains facilitator preparation notes, activities, worksheets, recommended optional work and further resources for students and teachers. Lessons include themes such as “School Lunch: How Does it Really Work?” and “Communicating with Producers of Local Foods.” The entire curriculum can be downloaded free at www.iatp.org/f2scurriculum. Editor Keith Sutton
In the Market As of March 19, 2014 Prospective Plantings Report kicks off second quarter of 2014 On March 31, the U.S. Department of Agriculture will release the 2014 Prospective Plantings Report. This will be the market’s first official look at 2014. Looking back at the first quarter of 2014, the market has probably exceeded most expectations from when we started 2014 as are beans over $14, corn testing $5, cotton over 90 cents and wheat at almost $7. The reason these have probably exceeded expectations is because, when we started 2014, we were looking at a larger corn crop that would push stocks in excess of 2 billion bushels; a South American crop that would shatter previous records and put a huge supply of beans on the market in March; large global wheat production that outpaces demand by some 8 million metric tons; and China’s new cotton policy that would reduce China’s demand for imported cotton. Instead of seeing these fundamentals, the market saw smaller corn production and stronger than expected demand for corn in the U.S.; a smaller South American crop and strong demand for U.S. soybeans through the first of quarter of 2014; unrest in the Black Sea that caused the market to worry about supply disruptions in the wheat market; and strong demand for cotton outside of China, and uncertainty as to the effectiveness of China cotton policy to reduce exports. Now we are poised to look at the second quarter of 2014, and the potential exists for the market to get more curve balls that could change the market’s direction yet again. The 2014 Prospective Plantings Report and the first quarter stocks report will kick off this quarter and likely drive this market similar to way the January report drove the first quarter. Let’s take a quick look at each of these on a commodity by commodity basis. SOYBEANS. With just over a week before the report comes out,
we are beginning to see a host of private survey estimates released. For soybeans, those estimates range from 78 million acres all the way up to 83 million acres. This compares to 76.5 million acres planted last year. With the trend yield of 45.2 bushels per acre, these private estimates put production at 3.48 billion bushels to 3.684 billion bushels, up 191 million to 395 million bushels. With either of these estimates, we are likely to see stocks recover to at least 200 million bushels. This would be a comfortable stock situation for the U.S. especially given the large stocks available in South America. Arkansas is expected to plant 3.3 million to 3.4 million acres of soybeans, but if weather is good, plantings could be as high as 3.5 million acres. This compares to 3.26 million acres planted in 2014. CORN. Corn acres are slightly less variable than soybeans, with private estimates ranging from about 93 million to 96 million acres. This compares to 95.4 million acres planted last year. If you apply a trend yield of 165.3 bushels per acre to these estimates, you get corn production ranging from 14.18 billion to 14.64 billion bushels. This compares to 2013 production of 13.93 billion bushels. The corn market, much like the soybean market, will need to see demand increase in order to keep stock in check if yield comes in close to trend. As for Arkansas, corn acreage is expected to be down in 2014 to between 450,000 acres and 600,000 acres.
COTTON. Cotton acres are expected to be up in 2014 as prices remain competitive with other commodities. The National Cotton Council forecasts that acreage will be around 11.2 million acres in 2014, up about 8 percent from 2013. While this report was done in January, and many questioned the numbers for the Midsouth, the recent increase in soybean and corn prices will likely make this number closer to the actual plantings for 2014. One caution for growers is that if this acreage level is met, cotton production would reach 16.37 million bales, up 3.2 million bales from 2013. The market will have to find a significant amount of additional demand to prevent cotton stocks from topping 5 million bales. The NCC report showed Arkansas acreage down slightly to 296,000 acres. While many thought this number low, with cotton remaining below 80 cents, soybeans close to $12 and corn near $5, it may again prove difficult for cotton to gain significant acreage in the state. RICE. Rice acres are forecast to be up in 2014. Arkansas rice acres, which account for roughly half of the nation’s crop, are expected to be at least 1.3 million acres, possibly as high as 1.5 million acres. Tight U.S. stocks for long-grain rice continue to support rice prices here in the U.S. Additionally, the market may see additional premiums develop for medium-grain rice due to the drought in California.
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