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UNIVERSITY OF ILLINOIS Extension changes are a work in progress, the Illinois Farm Bureau board was told last week. ...............3

EXTENSION OF THE ethanol tax credit, due to expire at the end of this year, will be greatly challenged, U.S. Rep. John Shimkus believes. ....................4

FARM EMERGENCY training proved life-saving for a Pike County farmer who last week was trapped in a grain bin. ....................5

Monday, April 26, 2010

Two sections Volume 38, No. 17

Half of U.S. corn crop in ground by May 1? BY DANIEL GRANT FarmWeek

Periodicals: Time Valued

Farmers last week continued to plant corn at a torrid pace as weather conditions through Thursday were ideal in most areas. Nationwide, farmers as of the first of last week planted 19 percent of the corn crop compared to just 5 percent last year and the five-year average of 9 percent. In Illinois, farmers as of the first of last week planted 34 percent of the corn crop compared to just 1 percent a year ago. “The ground conditions have been as good to plant as they have been in the last three years,” said David Hartke, a farmer from Teutopolis in Effingham County. Hartke estimated 60 percent of corn and 20 percent of soybeans are in the ground in his area. Elsewhere, Garry Niemeyer, a farmer from Glenarm in Sangamon County, has finished planting corn. “It probably was one of the quicker springs for putting anhydrous on, working the ground, and planting that I can remember,” Niemeyer said. In fact, Niemeyer said he

and other farmers in his area actually were looking forward to rain showers that moved into the state on Friday. The rain could help corn germinate, activate chemicals, and would benefit ground that was worked up to plant soybeans, according to Niemeyer. “After all the rain last year, I’m surprised to be interested in that (a rain shower) taking place again” during the planting season, said Niemeyer. Dale Durchholz, AgriVisor market analyst, predicted corn planting in the state as of today (April 26) could be nearly 60 percent complete. He projected corn planting nationwide could be 50 percent complete by the end of the month. “Even with a little rain,we should have half the crop planted by May 1,” Durchholz said. “Certainly the good weather allowed things to catch up and farmers, with that, may have gone a bit harder just remembering the last two years.”

The fast start to planting should improve the chance of at least a trend yield this year, and it also could allow farmers

to plant a few more corn acres, according to the analyst. He predicted U.S. corn plantings this year could reach

90 million acres. USDA last month projected U.S. farmers this spring would plant 88.79 million acres of corn.

Lynn Wollerman of rural Vandalia unfolded his planter as he prepared to plant corn on a 350-acre field. He already had planted 1,300 acres of corn and he said he would finish with corn last week. He will be planting 1,100 acres of soybeans, but was hoping for some rain first. (Photo by Ken Kashian)

Earth Day brings renewed water regulation threat BY MARTIN ROSS FarmWeek

“Every day in the farming community is Earth Day,” Chris Hausman argues. In his bustling Central Illinois piece of that community, conservation is a crucial priority and competing water demands flavor debate over most zoning or development proposals. Hausman thus is disturbed by Rep. James Oberstar’s (D-Minn.) Earth Day revival of measures that would grant federal agencies sweeping authority over all “U.S. waters.” Oberstar’s “America’s Commitment to Clean Water Act,” like his past “Clean Water Restoration Act,” would strike the word “navigable” from the definition of waters that fall under U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) jurisdiction. That small but dramatic change allows for EPA control and potential permitting of remote water sources with no connection to rivers or tributaries, including local

ditches, erosion features, and, theoretically, even Hausman’s own nine-acre farm pond.

Photo by Cyndi Cook

“That would be ludicrous,” the Champaign County producer said last week. “The state already has safeguards on management of our waters — that’s the way it should be. Let the state take care of those waters.” The National Wildlife Federation and sportsmen’s groups applauded Oberstar’s effort to “restore critical Clean Water Act protections for streams, lakes, wetlands,

FarmWeek on the web:

and other important waters.” American Farm Bureau Federation regulatory specialist Don Parrish noted one Washington attorney’s view that the bill could return the U.S. to a period when federal agencies could regulate virtually “anywhere a bird could land,” with wideranging economic implications. Parrish is concerned by the measure’s vague “open-endedness” and supporters’ reluctance to specifically exempt even innocuous “low-hanging fruit” such as sheet flow — water that puddles for extended periods after rainfall. Oberstar’s measure would exempt waste treatment systems and prior-converted cropland from federal controls, but EPA could step in once that farmland is sold or converted for non-ag use. That’s a “significant rollback” in current policies, which clarify that water sources on such land “are not waters of See Water, page 2

Illinois Farm Bureau®on the web:

FarmWeek Page 2 Monday, April 26, 2010


Quick Takes NEW MISSISSIPPI RIVER BRIDGE — Gov. Pat Quinn and U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood last week broke ground for the new Mississippi River Bridge in the St. Louis metro area. The bridge, which is expected to be finished by 2014, is a joint project by the Illinois and Missouri departments of transportation. The four-lane Mississippi River Bridge will ease traffic congestion in the region and will relocate I-70 from the Poplar Street Bridge, which now carries traffic from I-55, I-64, and I-70. The project is expected to create more than 2,200 jobs and spur about $25.3 billion in regional economic activity over the next 45 years. ATRAZINE APPEAL — A trio of Illinois congressmen last week appealed to U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Lisa Jackson for a “transparent and science-based process” for reviewing atrazine and other crop protection products. “America’s farmers deserve to be treated fairly,” stated a letter from bipartisan lawmakers including Crete Democrat Rep. Debbie Halvorson, Urbana Republican Rep. Tim Johnson, and Egan Republican Rep. Donald Manzullo. To start re-evaluating atrazine’s health and environmental impacts a mere third of the way through its current re-registration period is “contrary” to the federal pesticide review process, they argued. Lawmakers questioned review being prompted “because of a report from activist groups” already involved in a class action lawsuit and a national public relations campaign targeting the chemical. Illinois Farm Bureau sought legislative support in the atrazine issue. JOBS/ENERGY STIMULUS — Meeting with steelworkers over the weekend, Rock Island Democrat U.S. Rep. Phil Hare touted a proposal designed to benefit renewable energy development and domestic manufacturing. Hare has unveiled the Security in Energy and Manufacturing (SEAM) Act, aimed at creating “permanent, high-paying jobs in the clean energy industry.” Countries around the globe are buying hundreds of billions of dollars worth of wind turbines, solar panels, and other green technologies. Hare sees the U.S. having an opportunity to be a major manufacturer and exporter, but Congress first must extend and improve a currently depleted Advanced Energy Manufacturing Tax Credit program. The program, enacted last year through stimulus legislation, offers a 30 percent credit for creation of U.S. facilities that produce alternative energy components. Hare met with steelworkers in Galesburg to promote his measure, which has more than 50 original co-sponsors.

Oversight sought in health care regs implementation request. There are tons of questions here. “No one really believed the Senate bill that The U.S. House Energy and Commerce was passed would be the final bill. Many people Health Subcommittee docket recently has thought problems in that bill could be fixed in focused on issues such as the impact of smoke- conference. less tobacco and how a “healthy planet” can “The question we have to look at is, have foster healthier consumers. they been fixed in reconciliation? The answer Rep. John Shimkus, the newly selected ranknow is no, because we’re dealing with the laning Republican guage of law on the health and authorizapanel, argues tions, not the lawmakers’ time budgetary ‘There are tons of questions here.’ would be better aspects that are spent helping affected by recshepherd the onciliation.” — U.S. Rep. John Shimkus sweeping health Shimkus Collinsville Republican care reform noted a strong package recently relationship signed by the with Health president. Subcommittee The Collinsville Republican, whose commit- Chairman Frank Pallone Jr. (D-N.J.), but argues tee oversees key domestic health policies, Pallone is “a liberal in how he sees the governbelieves Congress should play a continued role ment’s role.” At the same time, Shimkus cited in guiding administration rules for the new reports of at least four Illinois physicians who health care system, particularly given the lastplan to step up their retirement as a result of minute speed with which the final measure was new health care policies. passed. Congress did not approve a so-called “doc Shimkus is concerned about a variety of fix” which annually adjusts Medicare reimbursehealth provisions, including those dealing with ments for health care providers. The Congrespre-existing conditions in children, consumer sional Budget Office projects that if Congress access to new “high-risk” insurance pools, and a passes a new “doc fix” bill, it will add about planned shift in federal Medicare spending $200 billion to the debt over the next 10 years. toward greater state Medicaid expansion. Shimkus warns failure to move the measure He noted Health Secretary Kathleen Sebelius under the new health care regimen could mean a declined to comment on the health care mea22 percent cut in payments for physicians. sure prior to passage. Shimkus suggested the “You add that to the problem in the State of secretary now could help Energy and ComIllinois of (Medicaid) payments to providers, and merce “sort through” implementation issues you have a tremendous mess,” he maintained. such as an estimated $500 billion in long-term Shimkus is guarded about the prospect of a Medicare cuts and major tax increases and political turnaround in November congressional enable Congress to ensure new regulations jibe elections resulting in repeal of the health care with congressional “intent.” bill. Given President Obama’s commitment to “We’re calling for the majority party to start new reforms, that would require a “veto overhaving hearings on implementation,” he told ride,” and Shimkus is skeptical colleagues could FarmWeek. “They’re not listening to the muster a veto-proof majority.


Water Continued from page 1 the U.S., period,” Parrish said. Based on 2000 USDA Economic Research Service esti-

mates, $160 billion-plus in U.S. farm equity could “go away” with passage of Oberstar’s bill, he said. “Farmers aren’t going

to be able to borrow against that to do what they need to do to capitalize their operations,” Parrish warned FarmWeek.

LUSH PASTURE (ISSN0197-6680) Vol. 38 No. 17

April 26, 2010

Dedicated to improving the profitability of farming, and a higher quality of life for Illinois farmers. FarmWeek is produced by the Illinois Farm Bureau. FarmWeek is published each week, except the Mondays following Thanksgiving and Christmas, by the Illinois Agricultural Association, 1701 Towanda Avenue, P.O. Box 2901, Bloomington, IL 61701. Illinois Agricultural Association assumes no responsibility for statements by advertisers or for products or services advertised in FarmWeek. FarmWeek is published by the Illinois Agricultural Association for farm operator members. $3 from the individual membership fee of each of those members go toward the production of FarmWeek.

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A horse takes advantage of some lush green pasture during an overcast day last week in eastern McLean County. (Photo by Cyndi Cook)

FarmWeek Page 3 Monday, April 26, 2010


Extension moving forward with consolidations, cuts BY KAY SHIPMAN FarmWeek

University of Illinois Extension continues to plan for a worst-case budget and expects merger proposals from counties by May 10, according to Bob Hoeft, interim Extension director. “We’re still listening. There are changes being made (to the plan) as we go. It’s a work in progress,” Hoeft told Illinois Farm Bureau board members last week in Bloomington. Hoeft outlined the steps taken since February when he discussed possible cuts with the IFB board. In the interim, the financial outlook has worsened, he said. “We don’t know how much we’re (Extension) going to be Bob Hoeft cut,” Hoeft said, but he said he anticipates a 15.75 percent budget cut for the next fiscal year. The College of Agricultural, Consumer, and Environmental Sciences (ACES) and Extension are being hit with higher-thanaverage budget cuts compared to other entities on the Urbana campus, Hoeft said. He explained Extension and the agricultural experiment station, both part of ACES, aren’t funded by student tuition, and tuition has become a major funding source for the university. As for restructuring, Extension is continuing to work through proposed consolidations. The number of county Extension directors, who will lead multi-county groups, will be reduced from 76 to 30. However, only 15 county directors actually will lose their current positions because there are 31 vacancies and pending retirements, Hoeft explained. “Those people may apply elsewhere,” he added. Under the reorganization plan, Extension will have 30 multi-county Extension groups, each comprised of three to five counties. A hub office will be located in one county, while the other counties will have satellite offices. The counties are proposing the multi-county mergers and will determine which county will

house the hub office and which will have satellite offices, Hoeft said. “There will be some office in every county, but we’re going to change them, make them smaller,” Hoeft said. He suggested a satellite office might be a room in a public library or county courthouse. Satellite offices will have fewer business hours — possibly only a couple of days each week — and will not be staffed full-time. They will have supplies for volunteers, such as 4-H leaders and Master Gardeners, Hoeft said. As for concerns about county resources, the university will not take county-generated funding for Extension, Hoeft told FarmWeek after his presentation. Budget problems are driving the reorganization, but Extension also needs to address changes in how the public uses its programs and what the program needs are, according to Hoeft. “We are going to really emphasize the importance of setting (Extension education) program priorities and doing those things that have a high impact, and to stop doing those things that are just nice. We can’t be all things to all people,” Hoeft said. Hoeft stressed Extension programs would not compete with the private sector. “If there is an industry doing that (providing education), we’re not going to do that,” he added. Hoeft reasoned more farmers seek agronomy advice from U of I specialists on campus and from GROWMARK and other agribusinesses than they do from county Extension staff. In Illinois, Extension and U of I agronomists, entomologists, plant scientists, and others have a good working relationship with agribusinesses, he added. Several board members raised concerns about potential negative impacts to 4-H programs because of the reorganization. Denise Legvold, director of 4-H youth development, said youth educators’ expertise would be distributed among more counties after the reorganization, compared to the current situation of only 25 counties with youth educators.

Rural Development awards funding for rural water projects USDA Rural Development State Director Colleen Callahan last week announced $5.9 million in low-cost loans and grants will be awarded for three rural water projects in the state. Fayette Water Co. will use a combination of loans and grants totaling $1.275 million to provide 218 families living near Vandalia Lake with drinking water. Currently, residents of the Vandalia Lake area use private wells for their water. The county health department has declared many of the wells as health hazards due to high levels of bacteria and nitrates. The area’s water sup-

ply also is inadequate to meet residents’ needs. The Garden Homes Sanitary District, serving 373 homes in Northeastern Illinois, will receive loans and grants totaling $1.96 million. The district will use the money to replace deteriorating cast-iron water mains, stop water main breaks, and add fire hydrants to the system. The improvements will provide the Cook County community with a reliable water delivery system and adequate firefighting capacity. The Montgomery County Water Co. will use loans and grants of $2.668 million to bring safe water to 87 farms

and rural residences in nine townships. The area’s water has excessive levels of contaminants, and only 13 percent of the sampled water in the area was deemed safe to drink. Rural Development’s water and wastewater programs help rural communities afford safe drinking water and dependable waste disposal. Public entities and nonprofit corporations are eligible to apply for loans and loan guarantees and grants to build, repair, and improve public water systems. More information about Rural Development is available online at {www.rurdev.usda. gov/il}.

Fair Map coalition continues; short of required signatures A drive to change the state’s redistricting process continues this week but is running out of time to gain enough voter signatures to put a proposal on the November ballot, according to Jan Czarnik, executive director of the League of Women Voters. Early last week, Czarnik estimated the Fair Map amendment coalition, which includes the League and the Illinois Farm Bureau, had collected about 120,000 out of 288,000 signatures necessary to place the issue on the ballot. “We thought it was going to be a huge public education effort — long and hard — to explain to voters why they should sign petitions,” Czarnik said, during a press conference. However, “this is the easiest public education (effort) we’ve undertaken.” The challenge has been getting to all those voters in the short time period that the coalition has to get the measure on the November ballot, she explained. She added the coalition must stop accepting petitions by the end of April because the petitions must be processed before they are submitted Monday, May 3, to the secretary of state’s office. Over the last several weeks, additional groups, including the Green Party, joined the effort, Czarnik noted. “We still have thousands of petitions out there,” Czarnik said. She urged individuals with petitions to send them to the League of Women Voters. At the same press conference, Republican legislative leaders criticized another redistricting proposal, Senate Joint Resolution Constitutional Amendment (SJRCA) 121, sponsored by Sen. Kwame Raoul (D-Chicago). Minority Leader Tom Cross (R-Oswego) said SJRCA 121, which passed in the Senate, will not reform the current redistricting process because members of the General Assembly would retain control over how the districts are drawn. Cross speculated the bill would not receive any Republican votes in the House. It needs 71 votes to pass. Currently, there are 69 Democrats and 28 Republicans in the House. — Kay Shipman

ACI: Farmers are pessimistic about current state of industry BY DANIEL GRANT FarmWeek

Farmers have a somewhat pessimistic view of the current financial state of the industry, based on the firstever Agricultural Confidence Index (ACI) released last week. The ACI, which is produced by DTN/The Progressive Farmer, is calculated based on the results of 500 farmer surveys. A neutral score is 50, so any number below that mark is considered a pessimistic outlook and anything above 50 is considered an optimistic outlook, according to Mary Rose Dwyer, DTN product manager. The overall score of the first ACI last week was just 34.2. However, farmers have a more positive outlook for the future — the “Expectations Index” for a year from now was 36.9. “The current sentiment is a lot more gloomy than what producers expect 12 months from now,” Dwyer said. The near-term pessimism

likely is tied to a recent downturn in crop prices and the fact that many livestock producers are coming off nearly two years of losses, according to the product manager. Dwyer also believes part of the reason for the negative outlook could be a cultural response from farmers who often are “quite humble people who don’t like to toot their own horns,” she said. Livestock producers were more bearish than crop producers when it came to the current financial outlook but were more optimistic about the industry in the next 12 months. The next ACI will be released Sept. 20, Dwyer added. The initial ACI will be used as a benchmark to help gauge the September results. The ACI asks farmers questions about their expectations of input prices, net farm income, and gross household income. More information about the new index is available online at {www.AgricultureConfidence}.

FarmWeek Page 4 Monday, April 26, 2010


Ethanol credit likely to be ‘greatly challenged’ BY MARTIN ROSS FarmWeek

To U.S. Rep. John Shimkus, maintaining a federal ethanol tax incentive is not merely a tool for biofuels market expansion — it’s a matter of national energy security. So apparently agree Sens. Charles Grassley (R-Iowa) and Kent Conrad (D-N.D.), who last week unveiled Senate “green jobs” legislation mirroring the House Renewable Fuels Reinvestment Act championed by Shimkus, a Collinsville Republican, and Rep. Earl Pomeroy (D-N.D.). The American Farm Bureau Federation supports the measure. The twin measures would extend the 45-cent-per-gallon volumetric ethanol excise tax credit (VEETC) — set to expire at the end of 2010 — through 2015. They would

renew a corresponding tariff on imported ethanol for five years to offset the benefits VEETC offers foreign ethanol producers. Rep. John The bills Shimkus also would extend through 2015 a 10cent-per-gallon small producers tax credit available on the first 15 million gallons of ethanol produced by ethanol companies producing no more than 60 million gallons per year, to encourage new startups and small-scale operations. The Grocery Manufacturers of America, the American Meat Institute, and the National Council of Chain Restaurants oppose the mea-

sure, and Shimkus predicts long-term extension will be “greatly challenged” by interests ranging from livestock Listen to Rep. John Shimkus’ comments on efforts to challenge the ethanol tax credit at

groups and food processors concerned about ethanol demand hiking corn prices to “Big Oil.” “I hope that if we start talking about energy security as gas prices start creeping up — in this area, they’ve risen to $2.99 a gallon — people with start thinking, ‘Why do we have ethanol? To decrease our reliance on imported crude oil,’” Shimkus told FarmWeek. “Have we done that? Yes, we have — by almost 8 per-

Senate climate details coming

Will international heat ‘translate’ to U.S. action? Historically, the U.S. may talk globally, but it and trade may color the U.S.’ fervor this time tends to act locally, according to ag law profesaround. Hamilton sees prospects for congressor Neil Hamilton. sional climate action “increasingly doubtful as That trend may play out again as a trio of the calendar moves along” toward election senators unveils principles of a retooled climate time. change/greenhouse emissions reduction mea“Certainly, there still seems to be a lot of sure. international support for the idea that we need Bypassing last week’s rumored Earth Day to have some type of agreement — maybe a unveiling of the long-awaited bill, Sens. John stronger agreement than the (Copenhagen) Kerry (D-Mass), Joseph Lieberaccord,” he told FarmWeek. But man (I-Conn.), and Lindsay there remains the question of Graham (R-S.C.) were expected whether that will translate into early this week to reveal details ‘I think you’ll see any kind of U.S. congressional of a plan aimed at replacing s o m e a c t i o n i n action. failed greenhouse “cap-and“The United States historithe Senate.’ trade” legislation. cally has taken decisions as One of the few certainties national decisions, whether it last week — at least, according was the League of Nations or — Neil Hamilton the creation of the first World to Kerry — is that the bill Drake University would include “nothing similar” Trade Organization (WTO) in to a highway fuel tax or a “carthe ‘60s. I think you’ll see some bon tax.” Earlier drafts of the measure included type of action in the Senate, more likely on an imposing a “fee” on petroleum products purenergy bill, but then, will we pull (climate proportedly linked to a carbon price established visions) into the energy bill? Then you still through emissions trading. have the issue of taking it back through the But the ag and industrial sectors fear any House.” major regulatory approach to controlling greenIn upcoming world climate talks, U.S. agrihouse gases — even to a lesser extent than last culture “is going to be the concern other people year’s House industrywide carbon cap plan — talk about,” Hamilton said. But even at the would have a serious impact on energy and global level, ag interests are sounding a note of input costs. discord: African protestors this month declared “It won’t be called a carbon tax, but it’ll be “No ag, no deal” in response to climate propossomething,” Illinois Farm Bureau National Leg- als focusing primarily on incentives for forest islative Director Adam Nielsen suggested last preservation and creation. week. Hamilton believes ag has a positive role in The cap-and-trade bill gained speed then and could benefit from climate policies, but stalled amid pressures leading into December’s laments that U.S. producers seemingly “don’t Copenhagen global climate summit. The sumwant to play.” mit itself yielded an accord which amounted At the same time, he acknowledged the formerely to “a promise to continue to talk,” mer Kyoto climate protocol (which the U.S. according to Hamilton, director of Iowa’s would not sign) “offered little for agriculture” Drake University Ag Law Center. and that the private carbon trading market to A second climate conference is set for Mexi- date has been “somewhat checkered in terms of co City later this year, but the specter of cap economic terms.” — Martin Ross

cent. That’s why we have (the ethanol credit), that’s why we need to keep it, and that’s why we need to work hard to educate our colleagues that this is an energy security debate more than anything else.” Shimkus’ proposal doesn’t affect merely the corn industry: It would extend a cellulosic ethanol producer tax credit until Jan. 1, 2016. Currently, cellulosic ethanol is eligible for both the VEETC credit and an additional 56per-gallon production tax credit. Shimkus anticipates major

energy legislation reflecting the White House’s call to ramp up renewable energy use as well as expanded domestic offshore oil and gas exploration and renewed nuclear energy development — in his view, “all good things.” However, he sees a strong probability of the Senate merging energy proposals with climate legislation sponsored by Sens. John Kerry (DMass.), Joseph Lieberman (IConn.), and Lindsay Graham (R-S.C.). “You can bet there’s a climate hook in this bill,” Shimkus said.

Delay in ethanol gas specs accommodates E15 intro A year’s delay in new ethanol gasoline “blendstock” specifications has resolved concerns among Illinois petroleum interests and biofuels supporters and left the door open for development of E15 specifications. The Illinois Petroleum Council (IPC) proposed state adoption of special specifications for gasoline to be blended with ethanol after a major oil company claimed it would not be able to market ethanol blends in Illinois without them. Ethanol blends already must meet ASTM international specs; Illinois Corn Growers Association Technical Director Dave Loos stressed the state has seen no “drivability” issues associated with ethanol use. After working with the National Conference of Weights and Measures, Illinois nonetheless adopted new national standards for 10 percent ethanol (E10) gasoline blendstock effective Jan. 1, 2010. Because new specs were to kick in during the winter fuel season, the petroleum industry asked the Illinois Department of Agriculture (IDOA), which enforces fuel regulations, to delay enforcement until May 1. Fuel retailers subsequently voiced concerns about whether existing gasoline stocks would meet Illinois requirements, and the Illinois Petroleum Marketers Association requested a further postponement, arguing requiring conversion as of May 1 could result in “potential supply issues and possible higher fuel costs for consumers.” Added time would ensure adequate conversion of refinery production and terminal and retail station tanks, the association stated. Given Illinois’ trouble-free history of “E10” use, Loos said IDOA’s postponement should pose no consumer issues. “We’re hoping (the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency) approves 15 percent ethanol (blend use) some time this summer,” he told FarmWeek. “When that happens, specs are going to have to redone anyway. “Work’s already starting at the national level. As we move toward adopting new specs for E15, I think everyone’s going to be engaged. I think petroleum marketers will take a more active role with ASTM in helping develop those specs so they’ll better understand what’s coming down to them.” EPA predicts an E15 decision by June, but Loos suggests the agency won’t issue a ruling until at least July. With ethanol prices currently running 65-70 cents per gallon lower than gasoline, he believes most independent fuel retailers “look forward to the option of having E15 to blend.” Corn/ethanol groups oppose a reported proposal to authorize E15 use only in 2001 and later-model vehicles. According to Loos, such a requirement would make it difficult and legally risky for retailers to “segregate” E15 and blends for older cars. At the same time, he noted progress in Underwriters Laboratory (UL) certification of fuel dispensing equipment for E15. Questions regarding certification of “flex-fuel” dispensers caused a recent blip in new E85 (85 percent ethanol) pump installations. — Martin Ross

FarmWeek Page 5 Monday, April 26, 2010


Bin-rescue training, quick action saves Pike County farmer BY KAY SHIPMAN FarmWeek

Farm emergency training helped save an 81-year-old Pike County farmer who was engulfed up to his chest in a corn-filled grain bin last week. Pike County Farm Bureau member Ervin Borrowman, Kinderhook, was recovering at home with sore legs after being released from a local hospital, his wife, Roberta, told FarmWeek. Mrs. Borrowman praised her husband’s rescuers, including her grandson, Jared Borrowman, who is a volunteer firefighter. “I think everybody ought to give firefighters credit,” she added. Another firefighter who rushed to the scene was Mark Pulliam, an employee at the Two Rivers FS Kinderhook facility. Pulliam, who has participated in four training sessions on entrapment accidents, said last week was the first time he had applied that training.

Two Rivers had offered grain entrapment rescue training last fall and invited local firefighters. Earlier, Pulliam also attended rescue training offered by GROWMARK Inc. “I’m just thankful that GROWMARK and Two Rivers offered it (emergency training) to us,” Pulliam said. “If it wasn’t for the group that was there working together, well, that was the plus for him surviving.” Ron Tomhave, Two Rivers general manager, noted the safety training covered “bin accidents exactly like this one.” He encouraged others to provide such training. “We could always use more people to be involved,” Tomhave said. Bob Aherin, University of Illinois Extension safety specialist, noted farmers have had problems with stored grain “bridging” due to high moisture levels this year. Aherin said he didn’t know if more

bin accidents have happened this year compared to previous years, but added several accidents this year occurred when people broke through the grain bridges inside bins. Mrs. Borrowman said her husband had had problems with the grain in that bin and went into the bin while the

auger was running. Fortunately, Borrowman was able to call his wife on his cell phone and ask for help. Pulliam credited the many emergency responders, including the Illinois State Police, the Pike County sheriff and deputies, Pike County ambulance, volunteer fire depart-

Will demand concerns slow cattle market? The cattle on feed report released Friday should maintain the bullish tone in the market, at least in the nearterm. USDA for the fifth consecutive month reduced the number of cattle and calves in U.S. feedlots compared to year-ago levels. The most recent report showed a total inventory on April 1 of 10.77 million head, down 4 percent from last year. Meanwhile, placements in feedlots in March increased 3 percent to 1.86 million head, which was well below pre-

report estimates of 6-plus percent. “Cow and calf (numbers) are going down, and the last hog report showed (swine producers) were liquidating, not expanding, so (the trade) expected people to place animals in feedlots looking ahead to 2011,” said Dale Durchholz, AgriVisor market analyst. “But the numbers weren’t there. That’s where the bullishness was” in last week’s cattle report. Fed cattle prices this month broke the $100 per hundredweight mark for just the third

Fertilizer supplies tight as demand skyrockets BY DANIEL GRANT FarmWeek

The explosion of corn planting activity the past two weeks is making it difficult for some farmers and retailers to obtain immediate supplies of fertilizer. Joe Dillier, GROWMARK’s director of plant food, last week reported there were several shortages of anhydrous ammonia and UAN (urea/ammonium nitrate) in the state as spring deliveries

this month are at a 16-year high. “We’ve just been hit so very hard in a short time frame Visit to listen to Joe Dillier’s comments on fertilizer availability this spring.

there’s not been time to catch up,” Dillier told FarmWeek. “The draw-down (on existing fertilizer supplies) has outrun

ments from Barry and New Canton, and local farmers. “Everyone was so happy we were able to make it (the accident) a plus instead of a minus,” Pulliam said. “Like the sheriff said, ‘This is the reason we live in Pike County. When a crisis happens, we all work together.’”

our ability to resupply it.” The situation developed because farmers last year completed just half the expected anhydrous ammonia applications due to the late harvest. It then boiled over in recent weeks as farmers took advantage of unseasonably warm and dry weather and planted a large portion of what is expected to be a huge crop. USDA last month estimated Illinois farmers this year will plant 600,000 more acres of


Jim Finnigan of Shirley and his son, John, Morton, chat briefly as the elder Finnigan took a break from planting a 480-acre field near Sabina in McLean County. A great deal of corn was planted last week. Some estimates expect 60 percent of Illinois’ corn crop will have been planted when the new planting progress report comes out today (Monday). Many farmers welcomed late-week and weekend rains to help corn germinate and prepare the soil for soybean planting. (Photo by Cyndi Cook)

corn than they did last year for a total of 12.6 million acres. Some analysts last week predicted corn planting in the state could be 50 to 60 percent complete through the past weekend. If realized, that means Illinois farmers the past two-plus weeks planted about 7.5 million acres of corn. In Southeastern Illinois, David Hartke said corn planting outpaced the ability to apply fertilizer on his farm. “We shut down the planter waiting on anhydrous,” said Hartke, a farmer from Teutopolis in Effingham County. Dillier said problems with fertilizer shortages were “particularly acute in Southern Illinois,” where many farmers are unable to apply anhydrous ammonia in the fall. Fortunately, most farmers shouldn’t have to wait for fertilizer for more than a day. Anhydrous ammonia and UAN shortages in the south are being met by shipping products from the north. However, farmers who didn’t pre-pay for their fertilizer likely will see a price increase and possibly could have difficulty obtaining supplies in some areas. “Suddenly we’ve gotten into a tight supply situation and we’ve had a $50- to $80-perton price increase (at the wholesale level) on new cash sales — if it (ammonia) is even available — plus higher freight rates,” Dillier said. Dillier noted showers during the weekend could allow fertilizer retailers to rebuild supplies and ease the situation.

time since the fourth quarter of 2003. But cattle producers likely won’t expand until the market signals profitability is back for the long haul, according to Steve Foglesong, president of the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association and a cattle producer from Astoria. “The supply side of this thing looks like we should have a heck of a market,” Foglesong said. “There aren’t many cows out there.” However, the market could soften in coming months due to possible demand issues, according to Durchholz. “I’m starting to get concerned if demand can sustain itself at these price levels,” the analyst said. “With high wholesale prices for red meats, there is not a lot of profit potential for retailers.” Retailers, therefore, could feature red meats less frequently this grilling season or even feature other protein sources such as chicken (see Cash Strategist on Page 11). The price of beef cuts at the middle of this month compared to the same time last year were up 25.8 percent for round, 21.7 percent for chuck, and 72.7 percent for hide and offal. Durchholz also believes steer weights will climb as the weather continues to improve this spring and summer. “I don’t see anything more than that,” Durchholz said of recent highs in the cattle market. “And the summer low easily could go back to the high $80s or $90 level, especially if feed input prices stay weak — an incentive to put on more pounds” to cattle in feedlots. — Daniel Grant

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AROUND ILLINOIS Women in agriculture

‘It might be a boy’s club, but we can join, too’


Enthusiasm for agriculture was contagious as 200-some high school and college students chatted recently with professionals representing most industry sectors. In addition to their shared interest in ag, the professionals and students also had something else in common. They were all women participating in the first state Women Changing the Face of Agriculture conference, sponsored by Illinois Agri-Women. Gloria Diggs, a freshman studying agriculture science at Western Illinois University, surveyed one of several exhibit halls. “To me, agriculture seems like such a man’s world, but seeing all these women in agriculture gives me a confidence boost,” said Diggs, who is interested in careers related to engineering and technology. About 75 professional women, including USDA

Tamara White, left, and Nancy Erickson, both with the Illinois Farm Bureau governmental affairs and commodities division, discuss potential ag policy careers during the Women Changing the Face of Agriculture conference sponsored by Illinois Agri-Women. Conference presenters included several IFB staff and county Farm Bureau managers. (Photo by Kay Shipman)

agency state directors Colleen Callahan and Scherrie Giamanco, discussed ag-related careers and opportunities. Illi-

nois Farm Bureau was represented by several state staff and county managers. Cheryl Day, past Agri-

Women president, said her organization was pleased with the response both from the professionals and the students. Sponsors helped defray transportation costs for the high school students because some budget-strapped districts are limiting field trips and travel, she noted. “I’ve overheard many great conversations,” Day said. “I think they (students) will find there are hidden stories (behind the women’s) current jobs. A lot of women ag professionals have made their own way.” Erica Frye, a “graduating senior” at the University of Illinois, said she expected to meet a number of women professionals and was taking

advantage of the networking opportunities. “It might be a boy’s club, but we can join, too,” said the agricultural consumer and economics major from Seneca. Not everyone expected to see such a wide variety of careers represented at the conference. “It’s actually kind of surprising,” said Kaily Kohl, a freshman and member of the DeKalb FFA Chapter. “Usually you think of agriculture as a man’s field. It’s really good to see so many women are involved. It makes me think I have a chance to get into a job I want.” Kohl speculated more girls at her high school would join FFA if they learned that FFA and agriculture were more than “getting dirty and animals.” Allyson Norman, a junior studying agriculture education at Illinois State University, said

‘It’s really good to see so many women are involved.’ — Kaily Kohl DeKalb FFA member

the conference gave her a shot of confidence about her career choice. “Going into ag ed, I was scared because I’m a woman, but now seeing all these women, well ...,” she said with a smile as she looked around the exhibit hall.

Antique farm show May 1 at Lincoln’s New Salem Horse-drawn plows, historic farming equipment, and agricultural techniques from the 1800s will be featured during the Antique Farm Show from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday, May 1, at Lincoln’s New Salem

State Historic Site, near Petersburg. The event is free and open to the public. Central Illinois farmers who still use horses for farming will show how horse teams and antique equipment were used for plowing, planting, and other fieldwork. An exhibit of historic farming equipment will be available in a field by the Blacksmith Shop. The Vintage Ag Association of Menard County also will have a antique tractor display in the parking lot. Lincoln’s New Salem State Historic Site, administered by the Illinois Preservation Agency, is located about 20 miles northwest of Springfield and two miles south of Petersburg on Route 97.

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Health ‘megatrends’ driving worldwide soy interest BY MARTIN ROSS FarmWeek

Phil Kerr and his colleagues at Solae see a growing international market for and an exploding global population driving the need for soy nutrition. April is National Soyfoods Month: Kerr told FarmWeek the St. Louis-based soy ingredient developer-supplier’s “line of sight is global in nature,” though North American market share remains a primary focus. He noted the “drivers of future food trends” vary greatly particularly among developed countries and nations struggling toward or achieving improved incomes and lifestyles. Those

healthy aging. We track those trends closely: A number of the ingredients we’re currently selling to the world or developing for future consumers are right in the sweet spot. “We think soy protein plays a very critical role; soy fiber also will play a role. Through collaborations with both sister companies within DuPont like Pioneer and others like Monsanto, we’re even looking at healthy oils and how they might be used alone or in combination with soy protein.” Rising incomes in developing countries have driven

‘A number of the ingredients we’re currently selling to the world or developing for future. consumers are right in the sweet spot .’ — Phil Kerr Senior research/development director, Solae

include differences in global health “megatrends,” cultural and dietary customs, and government policies and “sensitivities.” New U.S. health care provisions direct nutritional labeling in restaurant menus, a development Kerr expects to raise everyday consumer awareness. “In North America, we have the challenges of a very developed economy,” he told FarmWeek. “They’re more concerned about weight management, the impact of obesity, and diabetes issues. We also have the concerns of a population that’s living longer and interested in

nutritional awareness, opening the door for “healthy processed foods” such as soy-enriched nutrition bars that can help consumers supplement existing diets on the go. Such products are attracting Western European, Asian, and Latin America consumers seeking “protein-dense,” convenient foods. Also at play are global population growth and sustainability. Given land demands of and environmental concerns with developing world livestock production, Kerr argues soy protein can offer “just as complete a nutritional protein as milk,

Samuelson to be featured at Chicago Farmers meeting Chicago farm broadcaster Orion Samuelson will discuss agriculture’s big picture May 10 at the Chicago Farmers May meeting. The reservation deadline is May 7. Members also will approve the 2010-2011 slate of officers. The meeting will start at 11:30 a.m. with registration, followed by a noon meal and program in the University Club of Chicago, Cathedral Hall, 76 E. Monroe St., Chicago. The cost is $35 for members with reservations, $45 for members without reservations, and $60 for non-members. To register, go online to {} or call 312-388-3276.

egg, or certain meat proteins” without making as significant a global production footprint. He nonetheless acknowledges animal-based proteins provide amino acids and micronutrients beyond those available from vegetable proteins. Combining soy with meat, dairy, and related protein sources will be important in assuring the “eating quality” of products across the globe, Kerr added. For example, nutrition bars seven or eight years ago were produced largely with dairy proteins, and tended to harden within a short period. Solae researchers found a combination of dairy and soy proteins greatly improved texture and shelf life in a variety of products. “We increasingly are going to have to find ways where plant proteins and animal proteins can work effectively together in providing healthy nutrition and economic viability,” Kerr stressed. “We don’t think it’s an either/or situation.”

PROTEIN PROGRESS SOY AND PRODUCTIVITY: Illinois Soybean Association directors recently witnessed how soy protein is making a difference for Central American children. Visiting directors reviewed World Soy Foundation (WSF)/World Initiative in Soy Human Health programs aided by the University of Illinois’ National Soybean Research Laboratory. In Guatemala and Honduras, nearly half of all children under 5 are chronically malnourished. A drought is making malnutrition even more widespread in Guatemala this year. “We are following up with companies with facilities in Central America who are concerned about the health of their employees as well as employees’ children,” WSF Executive Director Nathan Ruby said. “When their kids are unhealthy, employees can’t be as productive and they miss work.” SOY AND PERFORMANCE: Improved “functionality” and flavor are features of a new soy protein isolate developed by St. Louisbased soy ingredient provider Solae and Novozymes, an industry technology provider. Supro XF may be sold as a powder or ready-to-mix beverage or even in pudding, with special appeal for athletes. “It has particular benefits in performance nutrition,” Phil Kerr, Solae senior research/development director, told FarmWeek. “It brings the ability to enhance flavor and mouth feel in a number of protein-rich food forms.” Solae’s client pipeline also includes new protein “crisps” that combine soy ingredients with whole grains and other healthy foods, Kerr reported. SOY AND HEALTH: The U.S. Soybean Export Council sent American Soybean Association International Marketing (ASA-IM) staff country directors a new U of I report showing consumption of a new high-beta-conglycinin soybean should help lower inflammation within the human body. The council hopes the report can boost sales to foreign retailers. Inflammation is one of the contributing causes to diseases such as arthritis and cancer. U of I scientist Elvira de Mejia’s research provides insight into the way beta-conglycinins — a certain type of soy protein — inhibits fat accumulation and thus reduces inflammation.

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DGAR — Farm Bureau will sponsor a bus trip May 12 to the Beef and Boards Dinner Theatre, Indianapolis, Ind., to see “Always Patsy Cline.” Cost is $68, which includes bus, buffet lunch, admission to the show, and gratuities. Call the Farm Bureau office at 217-465-8511 for reservations or more information. • Farm Bureau will sponsor a bus trip Friday, Aug. 6, to

Wrigley Field to see the Chicago Cubs vs. the Cincinnati Reds. Cost is $80, which includes bus, admission, and gratuity for the bus driver. Call the Farm Bureau office at 217-465-8511 for reservations or more information. FFINGHAM — The second annual National Trail “old Capital Ride” poker run will begin at 10 a.m. June 19 in Collinsville and Marshall and riders will meet at noon in


Call-A-Thon proves successful; LaSalle CFB members pleased This spring, the LaSalle County Farm Bureau (LCFB) tried a new approach to gathering member input and was met with extreme success. The plan: LCFB directors would personally call newer members to solicit opinions and input. The result: new ideas, new volunteers, and a new sense of purpose for directors and membership alike. “This event went really well,” said Bob Beutke, Viewpoint Committee chairman. “Every single member that we talked to on the phone thanked us for calling. All were appreciative of the fact that the organization was asking for input and was touching base with them. “We don’t want members to pay their dues and then think no one cares. If that feeling is out there, I hope we turned that around.” Following the event, more members who weren’t called, but had read about the effort in the March AgriSource, called the LCFB office to provide their feedback. Many of those contacted had similar concerns. Some ‘ W e d o n ’ t w a n t of the common topics of m e m b e r s t o p a y concern were cap and trade, Illinois state budget, and t h e i r d u e s a n d the funding for Extension. For a then think no one majority of the concerns cares. If that feel- voiced, the directors were to relay information on ing is out there, I able programs already in place to h o p e w e t u r n e d address those issues. According to Beutke, a that around.’ secondary goal of the Call-A— Bob Beutke Thon was to increase LCFB’s volunteer base and provide Viewpoint Committee chairman membership an awareness of involvement opportunities. “During one of my calls, I had one young farmer who was interested in our Young Leaders Committee and asked to be invited to the committee’s next meeting. That’s one more guy who’s going to benefit from the leadership training and educational opportunities that this organization has to offer,” he said. The Viewpoint Committee now looks forward to reviewing the input and making recommendations to the board for followup to address any of the ideas or concerns not already being addressed. “I think all the directors were really pleased with the responses we were receiving. There were some members who responded with some negativity and made us aware of programs that needed to be tweaked, but that’s positive feedback, and we need to know that,” Beutke said. “This is a worthwhile program. I hope other counties can do it, too.” Article supplied by LaSalle County Farm Bureau, which can be reached at 815-433-0371.

Vandalia. This is a fundraiser for ag literacy to support Bond, Clark, Cumberland, Effingham, Fayette, Jasper, Madison, and St. Clair counties. Those paying a $10 early bird entry fee by May 19 will receive a T-shirt. Register online at {} or any Farm Bureau office in the counties listed above. • Farm Bureau will sponsor a bus trip Saturday, May 15, to Harold and Margie Steele’s farm in Bureau County for the Bureau Valley Antique Club’s spring preview. Demonstrations will include a working blacksmith, stone grinding of corn, horse treadle corn shelling, and broom making. The bus will leave the Farm Bureau office at 7 a.m. Dinner will be at the Cracker Barrel where a $10 gift card will be given to participants. Cost is $50 for members and $55 for non-members. Reservations and money are due by May 1. Call the Farm Bureau office at 217-342-2103 for more information. OCK ISLAND — A Steak for Troops event coordinated by the Rock


Island County Farm Bureau Foundation, Henry County Beef Association, and the All American Beef Battalion is scheduled for Saturday, May 1, at noon at the Milan National Guard Unit, Milan. More than 30 area farmers and volunteers will cook at least 300 ribeye steaks and provide a homecooked meal for members of the Milan National Guard unit, which will be deployed in late May. More information is available by calling DeAnne Bloomberg at 309-781-4073. ANGAMON — Farm Bureau will sponsor a defensive driving course from 8:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. Monday and Tuesday, May 3-4, at the Farm Bureau office. Those 55 years and older who qualify and attend the complete course are eligible for a discount on their auto insurance. Cost is $15. Call the Farm Bureau office at 7535200 for reservations or more information. CHUYLER — The Schuyler County Ag Day Committee will sponsor an Ag Day Around the Square from 8:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. Fri-



day on the square in Rushville. Lions Club members will serve sandwiches. The Rushville-Industry FFA will do a chore run, have a farm implement exhibit and a petting zoo, and sell popcorn and soda. The Farm Service Agency, University of Illinois Extension, and Farm Bureau will give ag-related presentations at the Schuyler State Bank, Rushville State Bank Annex, and the Phoenix Opera House. ARREN-HENDERSON — Farm Bureau and Country Financial will sponsor a defensive driving course from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Wednesday and Thursday, May 19-20, at the Farm Bureau office. Lunch will be served. Cost is $10 for members and $20 for non-members. Call the Farm Bureau office at 309-7349401 or 309-924-1151 or e-mail for more information.


“From the counties” items are submitted by county Farm Bureau managers. If you have an event or activity open to all members, contact your county Farm Bureau manager.

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Many choices available as biodiesel feedstock BY BRIGETTE HARLAN

At the end of the 1985 film “Back to the Future,” Doc Brown comes back from the future and refuels his DeLorean with garbage. Though not yet to the point of being made from recycling garbage, biodiesel today can be made from a Brigette Harlan wide variety of feedstocks. The most common in the Midwest are soybeans, corn, animal tallow, yellow grease, and waste oils.

Other, less common feedstocks such as coconuts, palm, or sunflowers also are used in biodiesel production. According to a source at the National Biodiesel Board, 70 percent of the approximately 600 million gallons of biodiesel produced in the U.S. last year was derived from soybean oil. It is no wonder that people often think about soybeans when they think about biodiesel. There also are unexpected feedstocks on the horizon that may be the next generation of renewable fuels. Oil derived from algae is believed to have the potential to replace all of our nation’s diesel fuel.

Algae oil research has built tremendous momentum the last few years and has gained financial backing from major industry players. Much research is needed to determine the most effective growth conditions and harvesting processes to maximize yields with this new “crop.” While the biodiesel production process determines the ultimate quality, there are aspects of the fuel affected by feedstock choice that cannot be changed no matter what the process. The most important of these characteristics is the temperature at which crystal formation begins, commonly

known as the fuel’s cloud point. Biodiesel users must be cautious when choosing their fuel, particularly in cold temperatures. To achieve a good blend of biodiesel/diesel fuel, the component fuels should be at least 10 to 15 degrees warmer than the cloud points. Since an underground storage tank typically remains at a relatively constant 55 degrees Fahrenheit year round, biodiesel made from various types of tallow, poultry, pork, or beef for example, with a typical cloud point above 50 degrees Fahrenheit (10 degrees Celsius), could cause operability issues.

Heated storage tanks or warm, summertime temperatures, however, help ensure uniform blends and dependable performance. With the many feedstocks used today to make biodiesel, Doc Brown’s idea of renewable fuels displayed 25 years ago in one of the more popular movies may have not been so crazy after all. For additional information and assistance in determining your biodiesel needs, contact your FS energy salesperson today. Brigette Harlan is GROWMARK’s renewable fuels product manager. Her e-mail address is

Gains in U.S. meat exports beef up livestock values BY DANIEL GRANT FarmWeek

U.S. pork and beef exports grew in February and added considerable value to hog and cattle prices. All U.S. beef exports (muscle cuts and variety meat) in February increased 8.6 percent in volume and 14.5 percent in value compared to the same time last year. Pork exports during the same time frame increased by 1 percent in volume and 2.6 percent in value, the U.S. Meat Export Federation (USMEF) reported. “There are solid signs of

progress in key markets,” said Philip Seng, president and CEO of USMEF. “And that means positive growth in profitability for U.S. producers.” Pork exports in February accounted for Philip Seng 25 percent of production and were valued at nearly $44 per head, compared to $37.37 per head in January. Meanwhile, February beef exports accounted for 10 per-


Feeder pig prices reported to USDA*

Weight 10 lbs. 40 lbs. 50 lbs. Receipts

Range Per Head Weighted Ave. Price $35.10-$50.00 $42.79 $71.00-$74.00 $73.32 n/a n/a This Week Last Week 27,863 27,771 *Eastern Corn Belt prices picked up at seller’s farm

Eastern Corn Belt direct hogs (plant delivered) Carcass Live

(Prices $ per hundredweight) This week Prev. week $79.87 $78.09 $59.10 $57.79

Change 1.78 1.32

USDA five-state area slaughter cattle price Steers Heifers

This week $99.10 $99.30

(Thursday’s price) Prv. week Change $97.67 1.43 $97.25 2.05

CME feeder cattle index — 600-800 Lbs. This is a composite price of feeder cattle transactions in 27 states. (Prices $ per hundredweight) This week Prev. week Change 112.39 113.45 -1.06

Lamb prices Confirmed lamb and sheep sales This week 692 Last week 926 Last year 863 Wooled Slaughter Lambs: Choice and prime 2-3: 90-110 lb., $110. Good and choice 1-2: 60-90 lbs., $135. Slaughter Ewes: Utility and good 1-3: $43-$45.

Export inspections (Million bushels)

Week ending Soybeans Wheat Corn 04-15-10 15.7 17.7 37.7 04-08-10 14.7 18.3 37.0 Last year 21.8 15.1 41.1 Season total 1285.2 745.6 1087.1 Previous season total 994.1 896.4 1044.7 USDA projected total 1420 825 1900 Crop marketing year began June 1 for wheat and Sept. 1 for corn and soybeans.

cent of production and were valued at $123 per head of steers and heifers slaughtered compared to $119 per head the previous month. “We’re seeing some positive (returns) for the first time in two years,” said Steve Foglesong Steve Foglesong, president of the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association and a beef producer from Astoria. “And there is some optimism we could increase the export markets.” Buyers who purchased more U.S. beef the first two months of this year include Canada (up 19 percent in volume), Japan (up 45 percent in volume despite market access limitations), and Greater China plus Vietnam, the thirdlargest market for U.S. beef muscle cuts this year, with a 36 percent increase in volume. Meanwhile, Mexico emerged as the top destination for U.S. pork in 2009, and that growth continues so far this year as the value of pork sales to Mexico in January and February increased 24 percent compared to the same time last year. Elsewhere, pork exports to Canada increased 7 percent in volume while China/Hong Kong the first two months this year purchased 15 percent more muscle cuts than a year ago. Foglesong said a key to greater U.S. meat exports is to eliminate “trade barriers” around the world. He was encouraged Ag Secretary Tom Vilsack recently traveled to Japan to discuss trade issues. “It’s critical that the U.S.

continues to engage Japan and all of our international trading partners about the necessity of abiding by science-based international guidelines in beef trade,” Foglesong said. Japan continues to limit imports of U.S. beef to products from cattle less than 21 months of age. The restriction was put in place after BSE was discovered in a U.S. cow in 2003. The restriction reportedly

costs U.S. producers roughly $1 billion per year in lost revenue from exports, according to NCBA. However, the World Organization for Animal Health nearly three years ago (May 22, 2007) classified the U.S. as a controlled-risk country for BSE, which means all beef products, regardless of age, can be safely traded as long as specified-risk material is removed.

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Higher red meat prices may impact demand Livestock producers may want to step back, ignore the bullish ingredients of the red meat supply situation, and look at prices and the implication those prices might have on demand. In the “heat of battle,” it’s easy to forget where prices are in relation to historical levels. In the summer of 2008, when crude oil was racing to $147 a barrel, corn toward $8, and soybeans toward $16, nearby hog futures hit $90. Today, we have nearby hog futures closing in on that $90 peak, at a time when feed input prices, corn in particular, are more reasonable than they were at that 2008 peak. The trade was surprised by the March USDA hogs and pigs report, indicating liquidation was ongoing. The question now is, will that same pattern hold up on the June report. Meat analysts were baffled by the industry’s reluctance to liquidate during the long stretch of losses that started in late 2007. Into the summer 2008 peak in hog futures, forward contract months carried premiums, discouraging liquidation. Having to meet the fixed cost of buildings may have been a part of that reluctance as well. It wasn’t until the 2008 eco-

Basis charts

nomic collapse that the situation changed, allowing the industry to feel the persistent impact of negative operating margins. Eventually, the situation became unbearable enough to force liquidation. Today, the opposite situation persists, one offering profits. Forward month lean hog futures are at reasonable levels, and early planting is promising better quality, reasonably priced feed inputs, corn in particular. Again, producers need to ask the question: Can I afford to allow a building to sit empty? The fixed cost remains even if the building is empty. Only now they are looking at covering a part, if not all, of those fixed costs by filling them up. Barrow and gilt slaughter has been running under forecasts, too, hinting at the possibility of some withholding for the breeding herd. At the same time, high wholesale prices for pork ( beef as well) have pinched the retailer’s ability to feature red meat. Current weekly retail ads appear to be “light” on meat. Sources indicate retailers might be turning toward chicken for features because wholesale prices offer better opportunity than either red meat. And, because wholesale prices are high, some think chicken may garner more interest for Memorial Day than either red meat. In short, lean hog futures are high; even summer 2011 futures are at $80. And cattle prices have gotten back closer to the upper end of historical ranges if one discounts 2003’s spike. This comes at a time when the economy is still struggling, and the forecast for what’s ahead is still uncertain. And the more houses and cars that are bought, the more consumers might be a little more careful with remaining disposable income. Because of that, we think locking in a portion of your sales for the next year may be a wise choice. Prices may not quickly fall apart, but what are the odds they can go significantly higher? AgriVisor endorses crop insurance by

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Cents per bu.

2009 crop: Prices on July futures continue to hold above the 20-day moving average, keeping the door open for a test of the 50-day at $3.77. The longer-term bias still remains bearish with the 40week cycle expected to bottom in June. Sales were boosted to 90 percent when July futures hit $3.70. Because weather is now the major feature that can trigger a rally, we prefer to complete old-crop sales now. 2010 crop: Our $3.89 target on December futures was hit, lifting sales to 40 percent. Even though we expect a lower trend into early summer, we’ll defer making additional sales until we have a better sense of production potential. Fundamentals: The rapid pace of planting will dampen near-term upside potential. The trade is expecting planting to be 45-50 percent complete by today, potentially eclipsing 2004’s record. Quality issues are firming cash prices in some areas.

Soybean Strategy 2009 crop: Recycled Chinese news is one of the key factors keeping prices firm, but there’s really little new regarding the Chinese at this time. Last week’s break triggered the fail-safe, completing old-crop sales. If you didn’t complete them, do so now. 2010 crop: Even though prices have rallied more than we expected, there’s little reason to expect a move significantly higher. Use strength for catch-up sales. We’ll defer making additional sales until the summer, when we can better gauge production potential. Fundamentals: China continues its program of willingly buying soybeans, but for U.S. origin, the Chinese mostly have shifted to new-crop. Those purchases total only 1.7 million metric tons (62.3 million bushels), less than 10 percent of this year’s purchases. Given the need to line up shipping, that should be expected.

Rapid corn planting should allow normal to fast soybean planting, helping ensure good yield potential.

Wheat Strategy 2009 crop: Wheat gained technical ground with Chicago July trading above the $5.08 resistance. If it can hold this level, it would open the door for prices to test $5.25. However, rallies may be limited by the influence of the 40-week cycle and seasonal tendency for prices to weaken into early summer. Old-crop sales should be complete. If you still have

inventory, complete sales now. 2010 crop: Chicago July futures hit our $4.90 target to make an initial 25 percent sale. We may advise additional sales at any time, especially for those who sell wheat at harvest. Check the Cash Strategist Hotline daily. Fundamentals: The private group Informa pegged 2010 U.S. wheat production down 8 percent from last year’s 2.216 billion bushels. Smaller acreage accounted for much of the lower estimate. Crop condition ratings continue to improve, especially for the hard red winter crop.

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NRCS celebrating 75 years with farmers, landowners On Tuesday, the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) will turn 75. During these years, NRCS has led the nation in protecting our natural resources. NRCS employees followed the lead of the first chief of our agency, Hugh Hammond Bennett. He envisioned the agency’s soil conservationists would work one-on-one with producers on private lands. He saw them walk the land and develop conservation plans that would repair and restore damaged land. I can BILL assure you that Bennett’s vision came GRADLE true. Although NRCS programs, technology, and the tools we use have changed how we deliver our services, working with producers and landowners and getting conservation on the ground remains NRCS’ No. 1 priority. That priority is reflected in our mission, “Helping People Help the Land.” This mission is one that NRCS staffers in Illinois are proud to call their own. Conservation practices carried out by farmers, ranchers, and other landowners in Illinois have improved our quality of life and built stronger rural communities. Agency statistics show dramatic improvements in Illinois’ natural resources because of conservation

practices such as crop rotations, terraces, grassed waterways, cover crops, windbreaks, wetlands, no-till farming, buffers, ponds, and nutrient and pest management, just to name a few. These 75 years of success can be attributed to thousands of dedicated producers, agency employees, our local county conservation district board supervisors and staff, and partners. We all work together to accomplish our shared goal: protecting natural resources. That includes soil, water, air, plants, and animals, and doing all we can to keep production agriculture in Illinois a profitable and sustainable option and lifestyle. This agency’s rich conservation legacy has resulted in countless benefits to the state’s citizens — abundant food and fiber, cleaner water, cleaner air, proView our online photo ductive soils, and open gallery dealing with NRCS’ spaces to use and 75th anniversary at enjoy. Our fertile soils are the envy of the world. By continuing to work together, we will keep it that way. NRCS was created as the Soil Conservation Service on April 27, 1935, in response to the devastation of the Dust Bowl on the nation’s agricultural land. The agency’s primary mission then was to conserve soil on agricultural land. Our agency became NRCS in 1994 to better reflect our expanded role of servicing other natural resources on private and tribal lands.

An early conservationist inspects a rock grade stabilization structure, also known as a drop structure, somewhere in Illinois in 1938. Conservation structures and practices have changed considerably, but the goal to conserve natural resources remains the same. (Photo courtesy Natural Resources Conservation Service)

As families, classrooms, and groups of all kinds from Rockford to Cairo paused this month to remember and celebrate another Earth Day event, hopefully they remembered also to celebrate the early beginnings of our agency and the good things we’ve done together in the name of conservation. Happy Birthday, NRCS! For more information about NRCS in Illinois or to learn how to become an NRCS Earth Team volunteer in your area, visit {} or stop by your local county USDA Service Center. Bill Gradle is the Natural Resources Conservation Service state conservationist for Illinois. His e-mail address is

Wanted: ethical treatment of livestock AND producers It’s easy to understand why a business would shut its doors to professional protestors who show up with video cameras and a political agenda. But who would have expected an egg-producing DEAN KLECKNER farm to be more open than a press conference put on by the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS)? Recently, HSUS brought its anti-livestock propaganda show to Iowa. At a media event in Des Moines, it released footage that its agents had taped at several large egglaying farms and made headlines as far away as California. Yet the last thing the HSUS wanted was candid discussion about agricultural practices. When a vice president from one of the targeted companies showed up to watch the video and defend his industry, he was prevented from attending. In the words of the Des Moines Register, he was “blocked out.” In other words, animalrights activists enjoyed better access to Iowa’s egg farms than Iowa’s egg farmers were able to obtain at an HSUS-

sponsored forum — described as a public event. Apparently the HSUS crowd prefers its breakfast omelets served with extra helpings of irony. There was a time when the HSUS performed the honorable work of trying to find loving homes for puppies and kittens. Nowadays, however, it prefers to deceive job-creating employers, smuggle video cameras onto farms, and release provocative images without having to debate its tactics or ideas. Sometimes publicity-seeking journalists manage to reveal hidden corruption and uncomfortable truths. The HSUS, however, does no such thing. For starters, it’s not a media organization that aims for objectivity. Instead, it has now become an ideological group that pursues a bizarre and extremist vision of animal rights — and it won’t let basic fairness or democratic deliberation get in the way of its goal. The HSUS says that it supports the ethical treatment of animals. It should also pay attention to the ethical treatment of farmers. Here’s what happened: The HSUS sent its people to several egg-laying farms in Iowa (the nation’s No. 1 producer) and had them acquire jobs under

false pretenses. Over time, these phony workers secretly videotaped examples of what they described as the inhumane treatment of chickens. Perhaps some of it was staged. We just don’t know. It’s all based on footage released by HSUS. “There is no other way to get the story out,” complained HSUS President Wayne Pacelle. Yet that’s not true. Pacelle might have asked for a tour. “We are open to anyone who wants to visit our facilities,” said one of the egg-farm executives. His company has hired a third-party auditor to review the farm’s business practices. At its closed-door, private press conference, the HSUS failed to explain any of this. In fact, egg-farm employees receive training in the care and handling of chickens. If they spot a problem, they are supposed to report it to a supervisor, who will terminate abusers if necessary. Workers even sign paperwork to this effect. The HSUS operatives refused to honor the terms of these agreements — by design, of course. In doing so, they circumvented one of the essential mechanisms for ensuring the proper treatment of animals. They let their

desire for publicity get in the way of animal welfare. Once the full story emerges — away from the manipulative HSUS event — we see that the sky isn’t falling. This is not the case of an egg farm that is doing everything the wrong way. This is an egg farm that strives for excellence as it performs the important service of providing an affordable source of food for Americans as well as jobs for those who seek honest work. By contrast, the work of the HSUS is fundamentally dishonest. Its activists aren’t really concerned about the welfare of animals. Instead, they just want attention for participating in a

broad-based assault on the livestock industry. The San Francisco Board of Supervisors recently hopped aboard this radical bandwagon when it officially encouraged citizens and restaurants to observe “Meatless Mondays.“ If people don’t want to eat meat on Mondays or eggs on Tuesdays, that’s their choice. It’s a free country, even in San Francisco. Personally, however, I’d like to be free from the tricks and lies of the HSUS seven days a week. Dean Kleckner, an Iowa farmer, chairs Truth About Trade & Technology. He may be contacted at {}.

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FarmWeek April 26 2010  

FarmWeek April 26 2010