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An egg proDucer from Northeastern Illinois fears a proposal to nearly double cage space for hens will significantly boost egg costs. .....................................................2

Lock upgrADes, approved in 2007, are still waiting for Congress to provide construction funding. One river spokesman hopes this is the year. ............................................4

WHILe sAYIng he sees a cor rection coming, a far mland expert is predicting land prices should remain strong for some time to come. ..................................7

Monday, July 25, 2011

Two sections Volume 39, No. 30

Heat wave plows into corn, soybean country Crop conditions deteriorating BY DANIEL GRANT FarmWeek

Periodicals: Time Valued

The hot, dry pattern that has persisted for months in large areas of the South and Southern Plains last week paid an unwelcome visit to the Corn Belt. High temperatures for much of the week in Illinois and surrounding states hit the high 90s to 100-plus degrees, with heat index ratings as high as 110 to 120-plus degrees. “This heat is the result of what we saw in the Southern Plains for much of the past year, in terms of really hot and dry conditions that have caused a terrific drought problem (there),” Bryce Anderson, DTN ag meteorologist, said last week. “It started to move into the Midwest. We expected that at some point.” USDA last week lowered the portion of the crops rated good to excellent from 69 percent to 66 percent for corn and from 66 percent to 64 percent for beans. Meanwhile, the portion of

the crops rated poor or very poor last week increased 2 percent to a total of 11 percent for corn and 10 percent for beans. Some of the corn crop blown over in heavy winds two weeks ago had righted itself and was pollinating, although harvest will still be a challenge. “The expansion of hot weather to much of the Corn Belt ... raises additional concerns about corn yield,” said Darrel Good, University of Illinois ag economist. “The high temperatures in the Corn Belt are occurring during the reproductive stage for a large portion of the crop.” Anderson predicted the heat wave will relax this week and temperatures won’t be quite as stressful. However, a lack of moisture is becoming an increasing concern.

“There’s a large stretch (of the Corn Belt) from eastern Iowa, though much of Illinois, and all the way to Pennsylvania that the last 30 days is well below 50 percent of normal rainfall,” Anderson said. The short-term forecast as of last week showed a better chance of rain in Northern Illinois with less of a chance of any significant moisture in the southern two-thirds of the state. Portions of Northern Illinois did receive good rains Friday. “For now the corn market is reflecting modest concerns about the size of the 2011 crop,” Good said. “Prices will continue to reflect weather conditions, weather forecasts, and crop conditions ratings.” Matt Kilgus, a farmer and IFB Young Leader from Livingston County, said his crops still are on pace to yield well if

Corn rolling its leaves to preserve moisture was becoming a common sight last week as the Midwest heatwave persisted. (Photo by Ken Kashian)

the farm receives timely moisture. “If we can catch a couple good rains, we’ll be looking at a good crop,” he said. The heat last week also had an adverse effect on the Kilgus family’s dairy herd. “We need to keep them

(cows) under cover and under fans, so we aren’t able to graze them as many hours,” he added. “We’ve done well (maintaining milk production so far this summer), but I think we’ll see a drop-off (from last week’s oppressive heat).”

Debt limit impasse heightens ag anxieties BY MARTIN ROSS FarmWeek

Congress and the White House must quickly reach an agreement over the federal debt ceiling to provide “some stability to the marketplace” and protect the U.S.’ global credit rating, Illinois Farm Bureau President Philip Nelson admonished last week. House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) told Republicans Friday the House must pass legislation to lift the nation’s debt ceiling by Wednesday, though he warned no agreement had yet been reached with the White House. After Aug. 2, the U.S. government will begin defaulting on its debt unless it raises the current $14.3-trillion debt limit, but Republicans have insisted on trillions in spending cuts as a condition of lifting that limit. IFB and nearly three dozen national ag groups last week called for a comprehensive approach to federal deficit/debt management, including across-the-board cuts that do not disproportionately penalize ag programs. According to IFB, lawmakers should credit the ag budget for recent “deep spending cuts” already made and respect “the authori-

ty of the House and Senate agriculture committees to write the next farm bill.” Further, IFB’s statement stressed Illinois farmers are “very interest rate-sensitive,” and urged lawmakers to consider any deficit/debt plan’s impact on rates. Despite last week’s continued impasse, Nelson was cautiously optimistic about a near-term solution. “I think, deep down, both parties would like to see us resolve this and get on with the debt ceiling vote,” he said. American Farm Bureau Federation chief economist Bob Young sees potentially serious consequences immediately if Congress can’t reconcile debt issues. Nelson fears failure to raise the debt limit could spark “calamity in the bond markets” and higher ag and consumer interest rates. Further, when a nation lapses into a state of debt default, “It is never viewed the same by the markets ever after,” Young stressed. He noted current ripples across the debt-ridden states of the European Union (EU). Greece is paying interest rates 6-8 points higher than Germany’s to service its debt, and thus is viewed as “a much more risky proposition” in global markets,

FarmWeek on the web: FarmWeekNow.com

Young said. U.S. default, even on paper, “sends a strong signal to the global economy that we can’t control our spending,” Nelson said. “On Aug. 3, (the government) is supposed to be writing something in the neighborhood of $30 billion in checks. I think expected (federal) receipts for Aug. 3 are only about $12 billion. “Right away, you have a shortfall. Somebody’s not going to get paid,” Young advised in an RFD Radio-FarmWeek interview. He noted more than $400 billion in U.S. Treasury notes could come due in August alone. If the market “gets a little bit jittery” and interest rates subsequently climb even a half to two points, “that adds up to some cash” in terms of added debt obligation, he said. The U.S.’ debt crisis has sparked fundamental partisan debate over excessive spending vs. a perceived need to ramp up tax revenues. Young reported revenues today are at “some of the lowest percentages we’ve seen Jacklyn Detig, Lindenwood.since the second World War.” Meanwhile, spending has reached nearly 24-25 percent of gross domestic See Debt, page 2

Illinois Farm Bureau®on the web: www.ilfb.org


FarmWeek Page 2 Monday, July 25, 2011

Quick takes USDA SEEKS FARMER INPUT — USDA is seeking comments from farmers about its Acreage and Crop Reporting Streamlining Initiative. The goal of the initiative is to improve and reduce duplication of crop reporting procedures for farmers by consolidating information required to participate in farm programs administered by the Farm Service Agency, Federal Crop Insurance Program, and the Risk Management Agency. We’re looking for ways to be more responsive to farmers,” said Michael Scuse, acting undersecretary of USDA’s Farm and Foreign Ag Service. USDA plans to host as many as 100 roundtable discussions with farmers around the country. Scuse earlier this month met with farmers in Springfield. Farmers who cannot attend a meeting may post comm e n t s a b o u t t h e s t r e a m l i n i n g i n i t i a t i ve o n l i n e a t {www.usda.gov/open}. “It (the streamlining initiative) is something (Illinois Farm Bureau) has been supportive of for a long time,” said Doug Yoder, IFB senior director of affiliate and risk management. IFB policy supports the upgrading of computer technology and appropriate software at USDA as well as the simplification of USDA crop reporting procedures. MINI-BULK TANK DEADLINE — Owners of noncompliant portable, refillable pesticide containers have until Aug. 5 to register for a recycling program offered by the Illinois Fertilizer and Chemical Association (IFCA). The containers, commonly known as mini-bulk tanks, must meet new federal requirements by Aug. 16. After that date, any existing non-compliant tanks cannot be used and cannot be filled legally. IFCA is planning for four recycling sites; however, dates have not been set. The sites will be: Conserv FS, Caledonia; Hull Fertilizer, Hull; Lincoln Land FS, Jacksonville; and Effingham Equity, Montrose. Registration forms to participate must be submitted by Aug. 5. Forms and information are available online at {www.ifca.com} or by calling 309-827-2774. FTAS IN THE FALL? — Approval of free trade agreements (FTAs) with South Korea, Panama, and Colombia will have to wait until at least September. With debt-deficit reduction debate dominating Capitol Hill activity and Congress’ August recess looming, the White House reportedly is reluctant to squander any of the 90 days Congress has to take up FTAs after the president formally submits them for a vote. U.S. Sen. Mark Kirk, a Highland Park Republican, reiterated support for the accords Friday. Kirk told RFD Radio South Korea is “the Big Kahuna” of the three agreements in ag terms, offering “tremendous” potential for boosting grain, soybean, and hog, and beef exports. “The Colombia agreement probably would have the biggest quick impact for Illinois,” the senator suggested. “Now that the Canadians have signed a free trade agreement with Colombia, they’ve begun to steal our corn markets. With enactment of the (U.S.) Colombia free trade agreement, Illinois corn growers will be able to get that back.”

(ISSN0197-6680) Vol. 39 No. 30

July 25, 2011

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government

Nelson: Congress is closer to clarifying regulatory intent BY MARTIN ROSS FarmWeek

Illinois Farm Bureau President Philip Nelson last week applauded Capitol Hill efforts to rein in federal regulators and “get back to the intent of Congress.” The U.S. House has approved the Clean Water Cooperative Federalism Act, which would curtail the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) ability to revoke stateapproved federal Clean Water Act permits. Under the bipartisan measure, “if states have water quality standards in place, the federal government doesn’t come in and change them,” IFB Director of National Legislation Adam Nielsen summarized. IFB, meanwhile, is awaiting Senate approval of legislation that would eliminate EPA’s requirement that pesticide applicators secure a National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) permit to use chemicals on or near regulated waters. Applicators already are governed under the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide, and Rodenticide Act. “Our concern all along has been with U.S. EPA trying to interpret and implement things that really weren’t the intent of law,” Nelson said. “If (the Cooperative Federalism Act) will help that process, we’re supportive of it. “When we get into clean water, clean air,

NPDES permits, we’re facing a big challenge at the federal level — basically to get back to the intent of Congress. We continue to be concerned especially on the livestock front, where there’s some edicts, some direction coming from U.S. EPA.” The House also is attempting to stay EPA’s hand through energy-water spending provisions that block funds for any attempt to change the definition of regulated U.S. “waters.” IFB is concerned such a reinterpretation could lead to new federal rules for or permitting of ag activities near local ditches or even isolated farm ponds. Nelson argued Congress’ intent was upheld by a March federal court ruling that concluded portions of EPA concentrated animal feeding operation regulations exceeded agency authority. EPA expected large operations to seek NPDES permits regardless of whether they discharged nutrients into regulated waters, but the court ruled “if you don’t discharge, you don’t need a permit,” he said. Nelson noted definitions of regulated discharges differ significantly from state to state, and IFB is working with the Illinois EPA to arrive at mutually agreeable criteria. “We need to stay very much on top of that issue,” he said.

Producer: HSUS plan will raise prices It’s cost him, but Keith Mussman over the years has been more than willing to give his birds some space. But the Northeastern Illinois egg producer fears a proposal to nearly double cage space afforded hens would significantly boost egg costs and, potentially, crowd out cost-sensitive producers. Mussman Back Acres, Grant Park, is Illinois’ top egg-producing operation and a family venture for more than a half-century. Mussman questions legislation drafted by the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) and the United Egg Producers (UEP) that would require a projected $4 billion in industry investment in “enriched” housing systems over the next decade. The plan proposes a roughly 18-year timeframe for henhouse upgrades, specific consumer egg labeling requirements, and standards for feeding, watering, and euthanizing hens. The Mussmans are subject to U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) food safety inspections as well as USDA overview and U.S. Environmental Protection Agency poultry waste regulations. He is wary of an added federal presence “to measure bird cages.” “This ultimately is going to raise the cost of eggs,” Mussman warned FarmWeek. “The buildings are going to be more costly, and we’re going to have fewer birds in the building. It has to drive the price up.

“And I think we’re a little concerned about having this much more government involvement in regulating the way we produce eggs. Regulation always adds cost. The other thing is, this is not my first rodeo: We’ve seen HSUS in action before, and I don’t think it can be trusted.” During recent Washington discussions, Illinois Farm Bureau National Legislative Director Adam Nielsen noted solid House Ag Committee opposition to the HSUS-UEP plan. Ag lawmakers fear the measure poses a perilous precedent for other livestock groups, and it appears “dead on arrival” at least in the House, Nielsen related. Mussman was surprised HSUS agreed to such a “long phase-in period” for housing changes, but could not conceive of new standards being costeffective even with gradual transition. He already complies with the industry’s UEP Certified Animal Care program, which outlines — and audits — building temperature, water, and other on-farm conditions. Mussman has voluntarily expanded per-bird space over the past five years and, with FDA, instituted a “massive clean-out program” to ensure henhouse sanitation between flocks. “All those things have added tremendous costs, but having said that, I think we’re probably producing safer eggs,” Mussman said. “We’ve been doing this as efficiently as we possibly can. Any more changes we have to make are going to add to cost.” — Martin Ross

Debt Continued from page 1 product vs. a historic 20 to 21 percent. Past debt experience suggests countries are “far, far better off ” relying more heavily on spending cuts than on higher taxes, Young said. In the late ‘90s, Canada initiated a program of roughly $7 in cuts for every $1 in tax hikes. “We need to be thinking at least in that range,” Young argued. The question is the extent to which agriculture must contribute to spending cuts. Young noted farm spending has been “No. 1

or No. 2” on nearly every recent budget hit list, with proposed long-term cuts ranging from $10 billion to $40 billion. The American Enterprise Institute, which represents major U.S. corporate interests, proposes a $100 billon, 10-year ag program cut. “This does have a significant impact on agriculture — a number of programs in the farm bill are being targeted,” IFB’s Nelson said. “We have to stay very close to this process and weigh in on its impact for agriculture.”


Page 3 Monday, July 25, 2011 FarmWeek

gOvErNmENt

IFB, Taxpayers Federation testify on incentives’ value

State tax structure panel focus

State tax incentives keep Illinois goods on a level playing field and prevent “pyramiding of taxes” on Illinois farmers, members of the state Senate and House revenue committees heard last week in Chicago. The Illinois Senate Revenue Committee and House Revenue and Finance Committee took testimony about the state’s current tax structure

FarmWeekNow.com Video from the Chicago tax hearing is available at FarmWeekNow.com.

from state agency directors, business leaders, and fiscal organizations in the first of four hearings. The joint hearings, cochaired by state Sen. Toi Hutchinson (D-Olympia Fields) and Rep. John Bradley (D-Marion), are to study Illinois’ tax burden and the impact on the business climate. There is speculation a host of changes in the state tax code may be recom-

Survey tracks distinctions between rural, urban Illinois BY KAY SHIPMAN FarmWeek Illinois residents share some views whether their home is in the country or the city, but they place different importance on other issues depending on their address, according to recently released results of a rural life poll. The Illinois Institute for Rural Affairs (IIRA) at Western Illinois University surveyed 8,000 Illinois residents last fall and recently published the results. Overall, rural residents were less optimistic about quality of life issues now and in the near future, said Chris Merrett, IIRA director. Merrett discussed the survey data and their potential application toward issues addressed by the reorganized Governor’s Rural Affairs Council. Compared to their urban counterparts, rural residents placed more importance on having an adequate skilled workforce to meet demand and on keeping young people in their communities. They also were more concerned about the adequacy of school funding compared to urban residents. Merrett raised the issue of how economic development could be accomplished in some counties given their declining populations of 66 rural counties, 54 (81.8 percent) showed population decreases in the 2010 census. “There are some counties whose populations peaked 100 years ago,” Merrett told council members. “What does success and community development mean in counties where the populations haven’t changed in 50 or 100 years?” Another trend has been the wage gap between urban and rural residents. On average, the gap has increased from $9,922 in 1990 to $11,418 in 2008, according to Merrett. Merrett proposed more information be gathered at a series of town hall meetings in rural areas across Illinois. The Rural Affairs Council could use the meetings to promote its efforts and gain information to help it promote rural issues, he suggested.

mended after the hearings. Much of the testimony focused on the state’s corporate income tax rate that increased from 4.8 percent to 7 percent in January. A key theme was the use of the state’s tax structure to create jobs. Many spoke about the need to retain and expand the number of jobs in Illinois. During the hearing, a question was raised about whether tax incentives, referred to by some as “loopholes,” should be eliminated based on the assumption those incentives give certain businesses an unfair advantage. However, Tom Johnson, president of the Taxpayers Federation of Illinois, explained tax incentives “are necessary to bring a fair and equitable base tax structure so inputs in the making of goods are not taxed.” “In regards to retail sales,

120 other nations use a value added tax that does not tax inputs,” Johnson said. “To keep Illinois goods on a level playing field, Illinois tax incentives — such as those for machinery and equipment exemptions, manufacture’s purchase credit, and seed, feed, fertilizer input incentives — have to be built into the base tax structure,” he said. Johnson continued that the “use of automatic sales tax incentive sunsets establishes an unpredictable tax structure that is flawed. All automatic sunsets need to be repealed,” he said. Kevin Semlow, Illinois Farm Bureau director of state legislation, testified “that removing the current production agriculture sales tax incentives would cause a pyramiding or cascading of taxes putting farmers in Illinois at an unfair disadvantage. “Farmers are not able to ‘add’ the sales tax onto the price of their commodities,” Semlow said. “The market sets the price — not the farmer — so farmers would not be able to

recoup this additional cost.” Semlow noted that the Illinois estate tax also hinders the ability to keep family farms in a family. To further complicate this issue, Illinois has a separate exemption level of $2 million compared to a $5-million exemption on the federal level. Illinois also does not allow for the exemption levels for spouses to be combined. The lawmakers received an overview of the state’s income tax system and numerous business tax incentives from Brian Hamer, director of the state Department of Revenue, and Warren Ribley, director of the state Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity. In addition to IFB and the Taxpayers’ Federation, other groups to testify were the Illinois Chamber of Commerce, Illinois Manufacturers Association, and the Center for Tax and Budget Accountability. The lawmaker committee will continue with hearings Aug. 2 in Rockford, Aug. 23 in Springfield, and Aug. 30 in Marion.

ISSUE DISCUSSION

Illinois Farm Bureau President Philip Nelson, right, chats with state Sen. Michael Frerichs (D-Champaign) last week in Nelson’s office at the IFB headquarters in Bloomington. Frerichs, chairman of the Illinois Senate Agriculture and Conservation Committee, visited with the IFB board. (Photo by Cyndi Cook)

House OKs rail fund use for flood recovery BY MARTIN ROSS FarmWeek

Redirection of federal rail funds could help Midwest producers and communities recover from spring flooding, though East and West Coast high-speed rail advocates may push to derail the measure. The U.S. House’s newly approved fiscal 2012 energy and water spending bill proposes transferring $1 billion from planned high-speed rail projects to flood relief on the Mississippi and Missouri Rivers. The measure reportedly would divert “unobligated stimulus funds” primarily from New York and California rail projects. Rep. Louise Slaughter (D-N.Y.) charged her colleagues with “using the tragedy of the national disasters in America’s heartland as a political tool to try to eliminate a job-creation program.” Illinois Farm Bureau Vice President

Rich Guebert Jr. sees lawmakers instead responding to what remains a dire situation for many Corn Belt farms and communities. Northern Missouri’s Bird’s Point Levee was breached intentionally by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers in May to relieve pressure on the rain-swollen Mississippi and prevent flooding in Cairo. The breach flooded 130,000 Missouri farm and residential acres. Pulaski and Alexander counties also experienced significant flooding at the confluence of the Mississippi and Ohio Rivers. The Corps is rebuilding the Bird’s Point Levee within what Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon called a “moderate range” to offer short-term protection. The Southwestern Illinois Flood Prevention District Council proposes a five-year, $161 million plan to bolster Madison, St. Clair, and

Monroe County levee systems against potentially major future flood events. “Particularly in these difficult times, levee districts are up against it,” Guebert said. “They just do not have the dollars to make necessary repairs. “If you look at Bird’s Point or any of the levees that were topped, they’re really in dire need of emergency repairs for this winter and next spring. Hopefully, we can find some more dollars to take care of some emergency repairs.” House Republicans deemed use of high-speed rail funds necessary to provide post-flood relief with a minimal budgetary impact. The White House opposes fund diversion, and the House plan could run into heavy resistance in the Senate — influential Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) is a key supporter of her state’s “bullet train” project. Southwestern Illinois upgrades would

prevent residents and businesses from having to pay higher flood insurance premiums when new Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) insurance rate maps take effect. Springfield Democrat U.S. Sen. Dick Durbin, Highland Park Republican Sen. Mark Kirk, Collinsville Republican U.S. Rep. John Shimkus, and Belleville Democrat Rep. Jerry Costello asked the Corps to expedite approvals for work particularly in the St. Louis “Metro East” region. Guebert sees “a little bit of give” among policymakers and federal agencies in the wake of spring flooding. But while the House has approved a proposed five-year delay in FEMA flood map implementation to accommodate levee improvements, prospects for Senate approval are uncertain. “We need a lot more give from FEMA,” Guebert concluded.


FarmWeek Page 4 Monday, July 25, 2011

government

Congressional ‘principles’ in way of new locks? BY MARTIN ROSS FarmWeek

Despite a ban on congressional “earmarks” and new taxes, a river industry representative remains hopeful lawmakers eventually will sign off on a new plan that would replenish navigational funds and kick start new lock construction. The House’s newly passed fiscal 2012 energy and water spending bill proposes $4.8 billion for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers civil works program — the portion of the Corps budget used to fund the nation’s navigation system. That includes $1.6 billion for Corps construction projects. While Mississippi Lock and Dam 27 and a few Pennsylvania locks are slated for a share of that funding, Waterways Council Inc. Vice President Paul Rohde suggests the bulk likely would be allocated for further work at the Ohio River’s Olmsted Lock and Dam on the Illinois-Kentucky border.

Lawmakers offered $104 million for the Corps “investigations” budget — the repository for funds that could be be

Rohde told FarmWeek the Corps has spent fiscal 2011 funds and “is in the process of ramping down everything”

‘(The Capital Development Plan) is a way to make sure the trust fund is going to be sustainable into the future, which the administration and Congress have instructed the waterways industry to do.’ — Paul Rohde Waterways Council Inc.

spent on new lock engineering and design. However, because of Congress’ current prohibition on specific spending “earmarks,” Rohde was unsure whether any of that money would be applied toward design of seven new 1,200-foot locks on the Upper Mississippi and Illinois Rivers. Lock upgrades were approved in 2007, but Congress has failed to provide construction funding. Further,

until new dollars arrive. The Corps construction fund matches private money provided through the Inland Waterway Trust Fund — a river users account fed by barge fuel taxes. But trust fund reserves have declined significantly, and the House spending bill prohibits awarding even continuing project contracts that commit added trust fund dollars “until the enactment of a long-term mechanism to

enhance revenues in the fund sufficient to meet the required cost-sharing provisions.” The industry supports such a mechanism — a new Capital Development Plan that includes a voluntary fuel tax increase. Illinois Farm Bureau transportation specialist Kevin Rund fears another House principle — a pledge of “no new taxes” — could stand in the way of plan approval. Further, Soy Transportation Coalition Executive Director Mike Steenhoek questions whether Washington will be willing to ante up its share of lock funding even with trust fund reinforcement. Rohde nonetheless hopes at least parts of the development plan may be included in some legislative vehicle this session and argues a selfimposed tax increase is “a different animal” for Congress. “I’m not saying it’s a gamechanger, but it certainly is a relatively unique aspect,” Rohde said. “No. 2, the tax

portion is just a small part of the Capital Development Plan. You have a lot of other things — for example, changing the way the Corps does design and planning and prioritization. Some things are relatively small and can be implemented without congressional authorization. “This is the product of industry and the federal government coming together, looking for solutions. It is a way to make sure the trust fund is going to be sustainable into the future, which the administration and Congress have instructed the waterways industry to do.” The only other option offered for shoring up the fund — proposed new perbarge/per-lock fees — likely would be a “non-starter” in the new Congress, Rohde maintained. That would force Upper Mississippi users to shoulder costs for “the entire 12,000 miles of commercially navigable (Mississippi system) waterways,” he warned.

Biodiesel prospects looking relatively bright As the ethanol industry struggles with challenges to federal biofuels support, prospects appear relatively bright for the recently on-theropes biodiesel sector. Sens. Maria Cantwell (DWash.) and Charles Grassley (R-Iowa) have joined Peoria Republican Rep. Aaron Schock and Rep. Collin Peterson (D-Minn.) in supporting a three-year extension of the $1-per-gallon biodiesel credit through 2014. The credit currently is set to expire on Dec. 31. Under the measure, the credit would shift from a fuel blenders incentive to a biodiesel production credit, a move which Grassley said would “reduce potential abuses of foreign fuel passing through the U.S. to claim the blender’s credit.” The bill would continue an added 10 cent-per-gallon credit for the first 15 million gallons created by smaller producers with less than 60 million gallons of annual capacity. In addition, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has offered “good numbers” for future biodiesel use under the federal renewable fuels standard (RFS2), National Biodiesel Board (NBB) member Darryl Brinkmann told FarmWeek. The RFS2 sets annual targets to reach 36 billion gallons

of U.S. biofuels use by 2022. EPA has proposed boosting required biodiesel volume from a current 800 million gallons to 1 billion gallons in 2012 and 1.3 billion gallons in 2013. “One of the concerns (EPA) has always had was, ‘Can you deliver the product?’” said Brinkmann, a Carlyle grower. “At least three different groups track biodiesel production, and they’re all saying the same thing: It’s going up; it’s on track to meet 800 million gallons this year. “We have the capacity out there; it just has to come online. The biodiesel feedstock is available. More and more (convertible corn) oil is coming out of the ethanol process.” The biodiesel credit was renewed in December following a sharp industry downturn resulting from its expiration on Dec. 31, 2009. Biodiesel producers have come back quickly, and monthly production had reached 82 million gallons in May. Amid positive signals, Renewable Energy Group (REG), which runs a Danville biodiesel plant, is purchasing Minnesota-based SoyMor Biodiesel’s facilities. Last week, REG announced it had filed for a initial public stock offering. Meanwhile, President Obama touted “cutting-edge biodiesel and ethanol

approaches” during a July “virtual town hall” meeting on Twitter. The Chicago Park District has launched a biodiesel production program tapping waste grease from sources including restaurants and the annual Taste of Chicago to fuel district vehicles and diesel-

powered mowers. And U.S. diesel vehicle adoption may be on the rise. Consumers bought some 9,000 diesel cars in May, up 34 percent from a year earlier, in part due to tight supplies of Japanese “hybrids” that offer improved fuel economy. General Motors plans to introduce its diesel-powered

Chevy Cruze in the U.S. market by 2013. The research firm J.D. Power and Associates sees U.S. diesel market share growing from 3.1 percent in 2011 to 7.4 percent by 2017. “That’s good news, but it takes time to get those vehicles on the road and people to use them,” Brinkmann advised. — Martin Ross

Biodiesel ‘energy balance’ looks more favorable In an era when energy “footprint” is a key factor in biofuels acceptance, a new study indicates biodiesel is several steps ahead of previous estimates. Newly published research from the University of Idaho and USDA shows that for every unit of fossil energy needed to produce biodiesel, the return is 5.54 units of renewable energy. This energy-in, energy-out ratio is called the “energy balance.” And that’s based on the most recent data available, from 2006. Don Scott, National Biodiesel Board (NBB) director of sustainability, suggested “using data from 2009 or 2010 would likely show an even greater gain in energy efficiency.” “This study shows the clear trend that biodiesel production continues to improve when it comes to efficient use of resources,” Scott said. “No other fuel available in the U.S. comes close to such a high energy balance.” Biodiesel made from soybeans and other crops always has had a relatively high energy balance, in part because of the significant amount of solar energy used to raise ag feedstocks. The U.S. Department of Energy and USDA completed the first comprehensive energy

“life-cycle” assessment for U.S.-produced biodiesel in 1998, estimating a 3.2-to-1 positive energy balance. By 2009, that ratio was updated to 4.56-to-1. In the latest study, three major factors were credited with the leap in biodiesel’s estimated energy balance: • New USDA-NBB data indicate soybean crushing facilities and biodiesel production plants have become increasingly energy-efficient. • Soybean growers increasingly have adopted energy-saving farm practices such has minimum tillage. • Soybean yields have increased significantly. “Growers have accomplished greater yields with lower inputs of water and fertilizer per bushel, even as cropland has declined,” said Jim Duffield, USDA senior ag economist, who co-authored all three lifecycle analyses. The new study found energy input in soybean production has dropped by 52 percent since the previous analysis, while energy used in soybean processing fell by 58 percent. Energy input in biodiesel production, meanwhile, dropped 33 percent per unit volume of biodiesel produced.


Page 5 Monday, July 25, 2011 FarmWeek

productioN

Economists: Risk rising in production agriculture BY DANIEL GRANT FarmWeek

High commodity prices and strong world demand in recent years helped insulate the farm sector from the recession and ongoing economic troubles in the U.S.

FarmWeekNow.com You can view a webinar on the rising risk of interest rates in farming at FarmWeekNow.com.

USDA recently projected net farm income this year could increase by 20 percent compared to 2010. But farmers shouldn’t get too comfortable, according to Mike Boehlje and Brent Gloy, ag economists at Purdue University.

Risk is rampant in the industry and it is expected to intensify to unprecedented levels in the future. “There are big profit opportunities available today,” Gloy said last week at Purdue’s Top Farmer Crop Workshop in West Lafayette, Ind. “But we shouldn’t be lulled into thinking (those opportunities) will be available forever.” The economists predicted input costs, cash rental rates, and interest rates will rise while demand for farm products could be threatened by any downturn in economic conditions or policy decisions. U.S. farm expenses this year are projected to jump 7 percent and exceed $300 billion

Beef producers feeling the heat

U.S. beef producers last week felt the burn of an expanded heat wave — which took a toll on cattle herds — along with the sting of weak cash market bids. USDA in its monthly cattle on feed report Friday surprised the trade when it estimated June placements (1.695 million head) were up 4 percent. Trade estimates prior to the report suggested placements could be down 6 percent. “That was a pretty big surprise,” said Rich Nelson, director of research at Allendale Inc. in McHenry. “The trade hasn’t been that off in placements in years.” Nelson said the large placement number could cause a short-lived hiccup in the cattle market and cool market expectations later in the year. USDA on Friday also projected increases in July 1 cattle on feed (up 4 percent) and June marketings (up 5 percent). Nelson believes feedlots in recent weeks may have marketed extra cattle early due to the extreme heat. Rick Hirsch, Texas AgriLife Extension agent, noted beef producers in drought-ravaged Texas continue to cull herds at a rapid rate. “They’re culling a lot deeper than they normally would,” Hirsch said of Texas cattlemen. “And they’re culling into the heart of their herds (heifers and 3- to 6-year-old cows that typically would form the core of future production).” USDA in a separate cattle inventory report Friday estimated the total beef cow herd (31.4 million head) is down 1 percent from last year. And the herd won’t expand any time soon as USDA projected beef replacement heifers (4.2 million head) are down 5 percent. Nelson estimated cattle slaughter next year could decline 4 to 5 percent.

“(The USDA report) still shows no indications of expansion,” Nelson said. “We should see beef supplies drop, which means overall higher prices.” The extreme heat last week reportedly caused thousands of cattle deaths from the Dakotas to Illinois and all the way to Texas. But the tragic losses likely won’t have much effect on the market. “With a beef cow herd of 31-plus million head, 1,000, 10,000 or 20,000 head (lost to the heat wave) doesn’t make any difference,” Nelson said. Producers who lost livestock because of the heat last week were encouraged to apply for financial assistance through the Livestock Indemnity Program. “Producers need to document the number and kind of cattle that have died as a result of the excessive heat and timely notify their local FSA office of these losses,” said Scherrie Giamanco, executive director of the Illinois Farm Service Agency. Producers must file a notice of loss with their local FSA office within 30 calendar days from the date the loss is apparent to the producer. — Daniel Grant

for the first time in history. “The farming environment is as risky today as ever,” Gloy said. “And it’s about to get even more risky as rents go up.” Farmers not only face higher costs, but wild price swings of input supplies and commodities also make it more difficult for farmers to establish reliable budgets. “In the late-1990s and early-2000s, you could put the loan rate in your budget and bank on that,” Gloy said. “But the loan rate is irrelevant now (with higher prices), yet the price changes more

dramatically than ever.” And Gloy believes increased use of the commodity markets as investment tools will continue to make prices highly volatile. Meanwhile, futures markets suggest interest rates by 2015 could increase 2 to 4 percent. And Boehlje believes rates could climb as much as 5 percent by 2015. “Interest rates are going to go up. It’s not a question of if but when and by how much,” he told farmers at the workshop. “Your capital costs will go up. There’s no question about it.”

Policy risks that threaten current commodity price levels include monetary policy in China and U.S. ethanol policy, according to Boehlje. If China continues to raise interest rates to slow its economy or if the U.S. reduces its ethanol mandate, commodity prices likely would experience significant downside pressure. “The key reason we didn’t have the same pain (in agriculture) as the rest of the economy is because of this demand,” Boehlje said. “If China’s economy slows down, it could be disastrous for ag.” Farmers as a result will have to become better risk managers in the future, Gloy said. The economists recommended farmers know their costs, analyze their margins, maintain financial reserves, stress-test their operations, consider improving yield potential on their farms with tiling or irrigation systems, and look for direct-marketing opportunities such as local foods or organic foods initiatives.


FarmWeek Page 6 Monday, July 25, 2011

CROPWATCHERS Bernie Walsh, Durand, Winnebago County: I woke up to the welcome sound of rain Friday morning — the proverbial multimillion dollar rain. We had some rain Thursday, along with high winds, that brought 0.4 of an inch to the northern parts of Winnebago County. So far this Friday morning, we have received another inch and it was still raining when I filed my report. It will take this much to fill up some of the huge cracks in the ground because this is the first good rain in more than a month. The current heat wave and dry spell, (before this morning) reduced the yield in almost every cornfield. It is a lot worse on the sandy soils and stony knolls, but also has impacted the really good fields; we just don’t know how much yet. The wheat harvest was very good around here — most yields were 90-plus with very good test weights. Have a good and safe week. Pete Tekampe, Grayslake, Lake County: A very hot week in Lake County. It had been very dry with a lot of corn showing stress, then we received 2.6 inches of rain early Friday morning, just in time for most of the corn. Corn is about a quarter tassled. Beans also needed the rain. Some early 30-inch rows are fully canopied. Most of the wheat has been cut with yields in the 40- to 50-bushel range. Leroy Getz, Savanna, Carroll County: Wow! What a hot week and no measurable rain yet. Heat lightning with some sprinkles occurred Thursday night. Livestock death loss has been high and milk production drastically cut. Producers who have lost livestock due to weather should be reminded to report to the Farm Service Agency office for help under the Livestock Indemnity Program (see link on FarmWeekNow.com on the program). Crops are being pressured with the heat. Corn that was flattened in the July 11 storm has lifted, but ears are close to the ground and pollination has not been good. Soybeans are setting pods, but many are drying up. Japanese beetles are in high numbers, but I have not heard of any being treated yet. Some third cutting of hay is being chopped. Ryan Frieders, Waterman, DeKalb County: Over the last week we received only 0.1 of an inch of rain and it was hot and miserable from the humidity. All of the wheat is combined in the area and most of the straw has been baled. Soybeans are being sprayed for spider mites and there is some Japanese beetle pressure. Corn is half finished with pollination. Early-planted corn is being sprayed with fungicides. We have been staying busy working in the shade of the shop. Believe it or not, fall is just around the corner with the days getting noticeably shorter. Larry Hummel, Dixon, Lee County: The crops handled last week’s oppressive heat fairly well. The rain we received with damaging winds two weeks ago really has helped the crops through this stressful time. Pollination has gone relatively well. Corn that is still on the ground has scattered and pollinated kernels on the better ears. Ears covered by leaves are pollinated only about half way up but the bottom side is blank. The last-planted corn is pollinating now. Soybeans are looking good and the pods are about an inch long. Japanese beetles continue to eat holes in the leaves, but have not reached a level that would require spraying yet. Ken Reinhardt, Seaton, Mercer County: There was rain overnight Thursday. I thought I had 1.8 inches, but it turned out Jake, the 3-year-old, had watered Grandpa’s rain gauge. Others reported from 0.3 to 0.7 of an inch. Crops were starting to show stress from the heat. There is corn down on the sand that is not irrigated and is pretty well done for. Otherwise, there is still good potential for corn and beans. Wheat yields ran from 50 to 70 bushels. The drone of spray planes has been constant, as most of the corn was treated with fungicide.

Ron Moore, Roseville, Warren County: No rain to report. That makes no rain in July and going on four weeks with no rain. The corn and soybeans are starting to show signs of stress. The upper leaves on the corn are rolling and the lower leaves on the lighter soils are starting to turn yellow. I believe we are now losing yield every day that we don’t get rain. The soybeans are handling the heat a little better. They are still flowering, but not growing very much. Pasture conditions are rapidly deteriorating as well. The heat is causing the cattle to stay in the trees and creeks and not gain very well. Jacob Streitmatter, Princeville, Peoria County: Hot, Hot, Hot. The crops suffered last week. Hopefully, rain will come and some cooler temperatures to relieve stress on the plants. There have been alot of spray planes flying around fighting the Japanese beetles and applying a fungicide to the corn crop. Soybeans are looking OK — just a little short for this time of year. Driving around the area it is easy to see the light spots in the ground as the corn is almost burned up. Hopefully, next week I will be able to write about some rain and cooler temperatures. If that happens, I hope the corn will still be in the upright position. Tim Green, Wyoming, Stark County: Can we say hot? We had three days of 98 degrees recorded in Peoria — probably a little hotter out here. Tuesday’s humidity was really high, but I don’t think it hurt us too badly. Wednesday the wind blew and you could just see the crop go backward in front of your eyes. I don’t know how bad the crop is hurt, but it definitely is hurt. Beans have quit growing, lawns are brown. Hay ground that was cut hasn’t recovered much if at all. We could really use a rain. There are a lot of planes spraying fungicides. Some guys are spraying Japanese beetles in their beans. Otherwise, we are just kind of hoping for a rain. Have a good week. Mark

Kerber,

Chatsworth, Livingston County: Another week of hot temperatures with no rain. Corn is firing and turning white in the 100-degree afternoon heat. Hopefully, pollination is taking place with all the humidity. Soybeans also need a rain to add growth. Livingston County Fair was last week. Heat was stressful on animals and people during this event. The sky is full of airplanes spraying fungicides on corn. Many are using the preventative and the cure for leaf diseases to preserve plants health. Traders believe rain will save this crop yet. Hopefully, when you read this it will be cooler and wetter.

Ron Haase, Gilman, Iroquois County: We still have not had any rain since July 1 when we had a range of 0.3 to 0.9 of an inch. Three weeks without rain and the extreme heat this past week have taken their toll on the corn crop. The majority of local cornfields have been pollinating during this period. With the high demand for water, the corn crop has been wilting every day for quite some time. The range in corn development is from the V-11 growth stage to the R-2 or blister stage. Some fields at R-2 are beginning to rob the lower stalk to begin to fill the ear. The corn near V-11 has been rolling leaves for a couple weeks now. The potential yield has been decreasing as the consecutive days of wilting continues to increase. Fungicide applications have been made to cornfields over the past week. We have sprayed only 28 acres. We have not seen as much disease pressure at this point. Soybean development in the area ranges from the R-2 growth stage up to the R-4 or full pod growth stage. The local closing bids for July 21: nearby corn, $7.21; new-crop corn, $6.48; nearby soybeans, $13.90; new-crop soybeans, $13.55.

Brian Schaumburg, Chenoa, McLean County: It is beginning to feel like our crops’ clock is about a quarter til too late as high heat saps both corn and soybeans of much-needed moisture. Only a trace of precipitation has been recorded on our farm since June 26. July average temperatures are rivaling those of 1988. Hopefully, that trend breaks and we can get close to average yields. Fungicides are being applied to corn. Crop ratings have slipped to fair to good. Corn, $7.18; fall, $6.48; soybeans, $13.90; fall, $13.49; wheat, $6.52. Steve Ayers, Champaign, Champaign County: “Cobwebs in My Rain Gauge” is the title of my new country & western song. The “five minutes before it’s too late” for a timely rain countdown is now down to four minutes. Our eastern crop reporting district is 21 percent very short and 43 percent short of topsoil moisture. Premier Co-op rain gauge has no rainfall so far in July for Sadorus, Pesotum, and Ivesdale. Mother Nature gave us five-minute teaser showers on Monday (July 18) and Tuesday afternoon. We had sweet corn Thursday night that was great and pollinated all the way to the tip. Shake test indicates good pollination so far. We found a patch of Roundup resistant water hemp. Bug of the week is the two-spotted spider mite that was found in soybeans in the county. See you at the Champaign County Fair! Wilfred Dittmer, Quincy, Adams County: Another hot week and I imagine a few bushels have been taken off the top of this year’s corn crop. Soybeans seem to be able to withstand the stress a little better. Otherwise, it has been uncomfortable for all, including livestock. A good soaking rain would be great, but this is July and fair time and who knows what nature may hand out. Stay cool and safe. Carrie Winkelmann, Tallula, Menard County: The weather has been hot. We have not received any rain and we could use some. Cropdusters have been in the area applying fungicide to corn. Application of fungicide on beans should commence this week as beans hit the R-3 stage. Japanese beetle pressure has been spotty. Tom Ritter, Blue Mound, Macon County: A week of extremely hot weather, coupled with dry conditions, is putting some major stress on the corn crop. Beans seem to be surviving a little better. Corn is starting to show deterioration in some of the lower-lying areas that previously were stunted by too much water and now from lack of water and heat. Some of that corn had recovered and was beginning to have a deep green appearance, but now is starting to go back to the yellow side. Also, some of the corn on the better ground is showing some yellowing of leaves, which may be early signs of loss of nitrogen from the large amount of rain we had throughout the spring and early summer. Overall, we downgrade our corn crop from very good to good. Soybeans? Too early to tell. We are waiting to see whether we are fortunate enough to get some August rains that would greatly help them. Definitely need some cooler conditions and cooler nights for both corn and beans to progress. Todd Easton, Charleston, Coles County: The most used word of the week has clearly been “hot” as temperatures seem unrelenting across the area. The corn and soybean fields are showing signs of stress in some places, which means the heat probably is having some adverse effects on final yields. The grass in the yards also is beginning to turn brown — another good sign that we need some moisture and cooler temps. Hopefully, rain was forecast during the weekend and beginning of this week will pan out. Pollination is nearing completion for the entire corn crop and producers are hoping the heat did not have a significantly adverse effect, but it is too soon to tell. As fungicide applications in the cornfields near completion, applicators are turning their attention to soybean field fungicide application as some of the earlier fields are nearing the full pod stage. I can’t stress enough, as the heat wave continues, to take it slow and easy outside.


Page 7 Monday, July 25, 2011 FarmWeek

CROPWATCHERS Jimmy Ayers, Rochester, Sangamon County: This past week was simply a very hot and humid week with no rain. Some of the corn that was under stress from too much water ended up getting some pineapple rolled leaves. The beans seem to appreciate the warm weather and are growing well. But there were a few days when it was really hot that they faded back. A few guys are doing some baling and there is a little bit of mowing going on. Many took in the Christian County Fair. Ted Kuebrich, Jerseyville, Jersey County: In this week’s report, the rain gauge is empty. The big weather news now are the hot, muggy temperatures. The temperature last week was mostly in the high 90s and one day it may have hit 100 degrees. The early-planted beans are blooming and look good after being sprayed with Roundup to clean up the weeds. Corn in the cornfield next to my house on these hot afternoons smells like it is being cooked with the high heat from the sun. Driving alongside some of the cornfields where water stood or the corn was planted in wet soil, you can see that it is starting to fire up about a foot from the ground. Growing degree days are at 2,233. Prices at Jersey County Grain, Hardin: cash corn, $7.05; fall corn, $6.42; January 2012 corn, $6.67; cash beans, $13.88; fall beans $13.43; January 2012 beans, $13.84; June/July wheat, $6.75. Reports received Friday morning. Expanded crop and weather information available at {www.farmweeknow.com}.

Dave Hankammer, Millstadt, St. Clair County: This past week we shared in the wealth of heat that has been hovering around several states in this nation with daytime temps reaching the highs of 100 and a heat index of 113. No rain has fallen since July 12. The soil surface appears to be dry, but there is adequate moisture within the root zone to keep the crops going. The crops are holding up well under the heat, but were starting to show typical signs of heat stress late in the week. Fieldwork activities have tapered off since many farmers have wrapped up planting and replanting soybeans in low-lying fields and wet areas. Post-applications of crop protectants continue as weeds reach recommended label heights. Hay-making became a priority for farmers with delayed second-cutting alfalfa and third cutting for others. Peach and sweet corn harvest is under way with both being offered in roadside stands and local markets. Local grain bids: corn, $6.99; soybeans, $13.81; wheat, $6.39. Even though this caution maybe redundant, please remember to take frequent water breaks during this heat wave and have a safe week. Rick Corners, Centralia, Jefferson County: Sure hope corn can pollinate at 102 degrees. Earliest-planted corn is at full tassel and later-planted is starting, except in the low spots where it is still knee-high. A cooling inch of rain would sure be nice. Some are still planting beans — now that is optimism.

Doug Uphoff, Shelbyville, Shelby County: H-O-T. The Shelby County Fair was last week. Hottest one in my lifetime. Always good to meet with old friends you only see once a year. Have seen some planes in the sky applying fungicide, but rain from the sky is what we really need. July rainfall total so far is 0.25 of an inch. Everything is trying to pollinate in this heat. April corn looks really good despite the heat. Timber soil corn is firing really badly. If we don’t get rain soon, a tremendous amount of yield potential will be lost. Kevin Raber, Browns, Wabash County: A hot, dry week here in Southeastern Illinois. I think this is the longest period of no rainfall for the last several months. Crop conditions look good, even with the extreme heat. There have been a few cornfields sprayed with fungicide, but very few insects have been found. Ken Taake, Ullin, Pulaski County: The heat and humidity continue here in deep Southern Illinois. We’ve had temperatures in the mid- to upper 90s for the past week with no rain. Actually, I don’t feel the crops are under too much moisture stress right now, but with these temperatures, it won’t take long. The ground dries out awfully quickly. There is a lot of corn pollinating or almost pollinating right now, so these high temperatures cannot be good for the crop. I guess time will tell. It is out of our hands now.

Farmland expert predicts correction in market BY DANIEL GRANT FarmWeek

Demand for top-quality farmland currently is high, and prices continue to escalate, at least in the Corn Belt. Reports recently surfaced of farmland sales that fetched a whopping $14,000-plus per acre in Central Illinois and $13,900 per acre in northwest Iowa. “The bulls are loose, primarily for the better-quality land,” said Mike Walsten of the Landowner Newsletter, who was a featured speaker last week at the Top Farmer Crop Workshop at Purdue University in West Lafayette, Ind. The Federal Reserve Bank

of Chicago recently reported the value of “good” farmland from April 1, 2010, to April 1, 2011, increased 20 percent in Iowa, 19 percent in Indiana, 17 percent in Illinois, 11 percent in Michigan, and 9 percent in Wisconsin. But the run-up in cropland prices isn’t a national phenomenon. Cropland values have declined 27 to 35 percent in Florida since 2008, 11 percent in the southeast since 2007, and more recently 1 to 5 percent in the west, according to Walsten. In fact, the farmland expert believes the jump in prices in the Midwest is unsustainable. “I see a correction coming,

although I’m still long-term bullish,” Walsten told farmers at the workshop. “I’m not ready to say it’s a bubble just yet,” he continued. “But looking ahead, will we maintain these current profitability margins (that allow farmers to bid up the price of farmland and cash rents)? Probably not.” Mike Boehlje, ag economist at Purdue, agreed that land prices well into five figures per acre are difficult to justify. “The extremes are not supportable by fundamental economics,” he said. Even farmers who pay cash for farmland to avoid interest

available for “late-season” weed control, it is critical to understand the precautions and restrictions of each herbicide prior to application. Consider the following prior to making any late-season herbicide application: Crop growth stage: Most herbicides have a crop growth stage or height limitation that restricts applications during the reproductive developmental stages of the crop. For example, most soybean herbicides restrict applications once the plant begins flowering (R1). However, the glyphosate label allows applications to

Roundup Ready Soybeans through the flowering stages (R1-R2). Similarly, many corn herbicides restrict applications beyond V6 while others allow applications up to tassle (VT) or after the hard dough stage. Preharvest interval: Preharvest intervals are established by the Environmental Protection Agency to allow sufficient time for an herbicide to be metabolized within the plant to non-toxic forms. If a herbicide application is made outside of the preharvest interval, herbicide residues may be in excess of established limits, thereby making

rate risk are taking a major wealth risk when they pay prices well above $10,000 per acre, according to the economist. Meanwhile, farmers continue to bid-up cash rental rates. And that trend likely will continue as long as crop prices remain high, according to Howard Halderman of Halderman Farm Management, and Steve Wright of Farmers National Co. “Competition for leasing land remains at an all-time high,” Halderman said. Farmers, as a result, “are willing to take less (profit) per acre to expand their businesses,” Wright noted. “That’s what

we’ve seen the last few years, and I see no sign of that changing.” However, extreme variability in crop and input prices is making it more difficult to establish fair rental rates in the fall when returns for the following year are so uncertain. Halderman said cash-flex leases, which set a base rent with the potential for a bonus, have been the answer for many producers/landlords. He claimed the portion of cash rental arrangements that are cash-flex leases in his business in the past four years has increased from 21 percent to 70 percent.

the grain unacceptable for human consumption. Crop rotation interval: Many herbicides labeled for late-season applications have soil residual activity and require crop rotation restrictions for the following year. These herbicides will have a comment in the precautions or restrictions section of the label that recommend a time period for safe planting of a different crop the following growing season. These recommendations take into account the physical and biological factors required for successful degradation of the herbicide, e.g.,

amount of time required for microbial degradation, amount of rainfall required, and soil pH. Recognizing the crop rotation intervals of a herbicide can become critical when applications are made after the middle of July — especially if winter wheat is the intended crop for the next year. For more information on late-season herbicide applications, be sure to contact your local FS crop specialist.

Be cautious with late-season herbicide applications BY BARRY NASH

Although most postemergence herbicide applications have been completed within the last few weeks in both corn and soybeans, several weeds continue to prosper: waterhemp, giant ragweed, and morningglory in particular. In some instances, complete control was not achieved due to inadequate herbiBarry Nash cide rates, larger than expected weeds, or a brief shower shortly after application. In other cases, additional weed flushes already have begun. Although several postemergence herbicide options are

Barry Nash is GROWMARK’s weed science technical manager. His e-mail address is bnash@growmark.com.


FarmWeek Page 8 Monday, July 25, 2011

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University, ag industry panel focusing on ag research BY KAY SHIPMAN FarmWeek

A task force organized by the Vision for Illinois Agriculture last week adopted a “big

and tall order” to understand and energize agricultural research at the four state universities with ag programs. “Research has always been a

CLOSE INSPECTION

Rep. Michelle Mussman (D-Schaumburg), second from right, and her family study the feed Clay County Farm Bureau member Mike Kitley, right, gives his cattle. Mussman was matched with Clay County Farm Bureau through the Adopt a Legislator program. Recently, Mussman and her family spent a day touring farms in the county and talking about issues. Accompanying Mussman, left to right were her sons, Justin, Matt, and Nick in the cap, and husband, George. Farm Bureau leaders also received a legislative update during a breakfast meeting with Mussman, Rep. David Reis (R-Willow Hill), and Sen. Dale Righter (R-Mattoon). (Photo by Christina Nourie, Illinois Farm Bureau northeast legislative coordinator)

main staple ... as we try to be more efficient,” Illinois Farm Bureau President Philip Nelson told the leaders who gathered for a daylong meeting in Bloomington. The task force’s assignment is “a big and tall order,” Nelson said. “How do we energize agricultural research during a time of tight budgets?” asked John Huston, a retired executive with the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association who facilitated the meeting. Funding, and the lack of it, drove much of the discussion. Representatives of Illinois State University, Southern Illinois University, the University of Illinois, and Western Illinois University reported their respective ag programs continue to receive fewer state dollars for agricultural research, especially basic research. Those state funding cuts also have resulted in staff attrition or cuts on university research farms as campus administrators have tried to preserve professor and researcher positions, university

representatives reported. As state funding has decreased, individual researchers are focusing more on group research projects that may involve several universities, agencies, and private industry. “The university is moving toward multi-disciplinary research with a chance to go after big (research) grants ... This trend will continue to grow,” said Jozef Kokini, associate dean for research at the U of I’s College of Agricultural, Consumer, and Environmental Sciences. Meanwhile, commodity organizations and other ag industry groups increasingly are turning to sources other than universities for quicker studies and data analyses, representatives said. Farmers and the ag sector are under pressure to address environmental issues and need

reliable information more quickly than they have in the past, the representatives said. Ag group representatives repeatedly stressed the need for research that can be applied in the field to address existing needs. In addition to learning about research trends, the different sectors also learned about some of the constraints each faces. For example, some of the commodity checkoff funds cannot be spent on certain types of research, while there are few restrictions on other checkoff funds. Also, the universities face a variety of challenges due to their employees’ union rules and contract requirements. The task force discussed meeting again later this year. “We’re working toward consensus,” Huston told task force members.

LARGE LEGISLATIVE TURNOUT

Sixty-plus legislators or staff representatives enjoyed a steak sandwich and sweet corn meal during the recent annual legislator luncheon sponsored by the Gallatin County Farm Bureau (GCFB). Issues discussed during the day included free trade agreements; trucking regulations; and state, federal, and agriculture budgets. Attending were Illinois Sen. Gary Forby; state Rep. Brandon Phelps; Kappy Scates as a representative for U.S. Sen. Dick Durbin; Kevin Johnson for U.S. Rep. Tim Johnson; Holly Healy for U.S. Rep. John Shimkus; and Tim Bickett for Illinois Ag Director Tom Jennings. Illinois Farm Bureau Vice President Rich Guebert Jr. and Director Jim Anderson also attended. Here, GCFB President Hugh David Scates, left, shares a joke with Representative Phelps and GCFB board member Don Brockett. (Photo by Dave Meeker, Gallatin County Farm Bureau manager)


Page 9 Monday, July 25, 2011 FarmWeek

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ROWN — Farm Bureau and Country Financial will sponsor a customer appreciation open house from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Wednesday, Aug. 10, at the American Legion Hall, Mt. Sterling. Lunch will be served. Call the Farm Bureau office at 217-773-2634 or the Country Financial office at 217-7733591 for more information. LAY — The membership appreciation picnic will be from 5 to 7 p.m. Saturday at the Flora Library Park. Call the Farm Bureau office at 618-665-3300 for free tickets. UMBERLAND — The Women’s Committee will sponsor a blood drive from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Friday at the Farm Bureau office. Call the Farm Bureau office at 217-849-3031 for an appointment or more information. • Farm Bureau will sponsor a bus trip Tuesday, Aug. 9, to the Amish country. Stops include Rockome Gardens, Illinois Amish Museum, and an Amish dairy farm and woodworking shop. Lunch will be at an Amish family’s home. Cost is $60 for members and $65 for non-members. Call the Farm Bureau office at 217849-3031 for reservations or more information. EWITT — The DeWitt County Farm Bureau Foundation golf outing and fundraiser will be at 7 a.m. Friday, Aug. 5, at the Clinton Country Club. Cost is $75, which includes donuts and lunch. Call the Farm Bureau office by Friday for reservations or more information. ULTON — The Fulton County Fair queen pageant is at 7 p.m. Monday (today). The Women’s Committee candidate is Amanda Havens and the Young Farmers Committee candidate is Rachel Bull. • The Women’s Committee will sponsor the Best Milk Mustache contest at 2 p.m. Thursday during the county fair at the Farm Bureau booth in the Merchant Building. The Young Farmer Committee will sponsor the 4-H Ag Olympics following the scramble events which begin at 6:30 p.m. Thursday in front of the grandstand during the country fair. The Young Farmer Committee will sponsor the pedal tractor pull at 2:30 p.m. Friday in the grandstand during the county fair. The Women’s Committee will sponsor the pork cook-off contest at 11 a.m. Saturday in the band pavilion during the county fair. • A legislative breakfast “meet and greet” will be at 8 a.m. Thursday at the VFW Post 5001, Lewistown. Invited to attend are state Rep. Norine

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Hammond (R-Macomb), state Rep. Michael Unes (R-East Peoria), state Sen. David Koehler (D-Peoria), and state Sen. John Sullivan (DRushville). Cost is $5. Call the Farm Bureau office at 5473011 for more information. ALLATIN — The Gallatin and Saline Farm Bureau Foundation annual golf scramble will be Saturday, Aug. 13, at the Saline County Golf and Country Club, Eldorado. Call 252-6992 or 272-3531 for reservations. Oncourse registration will be at 7:50 a.m. with tee time at 8:32 a.m. A meal will follow the scramble. Call the Farm Bureau office for more information. ANCOCK — The Illinois Soybean Association will sponsor an informational meeting from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Tuesday at the Colusa Elevator, Nauvoo. Topics will include soybean markets, river transportation issues, and export channel partnerships. Lunch will be served. Call Barb Baylor Anderson at 618656-0870 for reservations or more information. ACKSON — The Foundation fish fry and fundraiser will be from 5 to 8 p.m. Saturday at the Murphysboro American Legion. Cost is $8 for adults and $4 for children. There will be a silent auction, games, and live entertainment. • The food drive continues through the end of July. Bring non-perishable items to the Farm Bureau office and the Jackson County Farm Bureau Foundation will donate the items and $2 to local food banks. EE — Visit the Lee County 4-H Fair and Junior Show this week. The Young Leader Committee will sponsor its food stand from 5 to 7 p.m. Thursday. The Public Relations Committee will sponsor each day a “Farmer for a Day” activity at the county Farm Bureau booth. • The Young Leader Committee will sponsor a Harvest for All food drive that will kick off Thursday at the Lee County 4-H Fair and Junior Show. The food drive will conclude Saturday, Aug. 20, at the Lee County Farm Bureau Farm Visit Day. Donations of nonperishable food items or cash may be dropped off at the Farm Bureau booth at the fair or the Farm Bureau office. All items collected will be donated to the Lee County pantries. ONROE — An ice cream social for members will be at 7 p.m. Thursday, Aug. 4, at the Monroe County Fairgrounds. “Hometown Harmony” will provide the entertainment. Call the Farm Bureau office for more information.

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EORIA — A Peoria County Equine Directory of Services was printed in the July “Farmer” newsletter and is available online at {www.peoriacountyfarmbureau.org.} • The Peoria County 4-H Show is Thursday, Aug. 4, through Saturday, Aug. 6, at the Exposition Gardens, Peoria. The livestock auction is Friday, Aug. 5. The Young Leaders will sponsor a tractor driving contest Saturday morning, Aug. 6. Call the Farm Bureau office for more information. • Orders for Calhoun County peaches are due Friday, Aug. 5. Pickup will be Wednesday, Aug. 17, at the Farm Bureau office. ALINE — The Saline and Gallatin Farm Bureau Foundation annual golf scramble will be Saturday, Aug. 13, at the Saline County Golf and Country Club, Eldorado. Call 252-6992 or 272-3531 for reservations. On-course registration will be at 7:50 a.m. with tee time at 8:32 a.m. A meal will follow the scramble. Call the Farm Bureau office for more information. TARK — Farm Bureau and Western Farm Business Farm Management will

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sponsor a farmland leasing seminar from 9 a.m. to noon Tuesday, Aug. 9, at Black Hawk East campus conference room. Call the Farm Bureau office at 309-286-7481 by Wednesday, Aug. 3, for reservations or more information. • Farm Bureau will sponsor a bus trip Wednesday, Aug. 24, to Circa 21 to see Nana’s Naughty Knickers. Cost is $80, which includes the meal and show. Payment is due with registration. Call the Farm Bureau office at 286-7481 by Aug. 3 for reservations or more information. NION — The food drive continues through the end of July. Bring non-perishable items to the Farm Bureau office and the Union County Farm Bureau Foundation will donate the items and $2 to local food banks. ERMILION — Farm Bureau is taking orders for Southern Illinois peaches. A 25-pound box cost is $23 for members and $28 for nonmembers. Orders are due by Tuesday, Aug. 2, with delivery the middle of August. Rendleman Orchards will supply the peaches. Call the Farm Bureau

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office at 217-442-8713 or visit the website {www.vcfb.info} for more information. AYNE — The Young Leaders golf scramble will be at noon Saturday at the Wayne County Golf Course, Fairfield. Cost is $50, which includes golf, cart, dinner, and prizes. The hole-in-one contest winner will receive a John Deere Gator XUV 825i. Register online at {www.waynecfb.com/golfscramble.html}. • The member appreciation dinner will be at 5 p.m. Friday, Aug. 5, at the Cumberland Presbyterian Church, Fairfield. Tickets are $2 and are available at the Farm Bureau office. A silent auction benefiting the Wayne County Ag in the Classroom program will be held. Go to {www.waynecfb.org} for more information. HITE — The member appreciation pork chop lunch will be from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. Wednesday, Aug. 10, at the Floral Hall at the White County Fairgrounds. Call the Farm Bureau office at 618-382-8512 for reservations or more information. Those who pre-register are eligible for door prizes.

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FarmWeek Page 10 Monday, July 25, 2011

proFitability

Historical experience can help decision-making BY LANCE RUPPERT

“Those who fail to learn from history are doomed to repeat it.” I looked back to my FarmWeek article from July 2009 and this was part of the opening paragraph: “As an encore Lance Ruppert to the 2008 growing season, Mother Nature brought out her worst and gave us an even more challenging spring to deal with in 2009. Many commented that

the spring of 2009 was the wettest and latest that anyone can remember.” I know some of you were not affected as extremely as others by the moisture this spring and early summer, but for some, 2011 was a challenging year to get crops in. With that said, I’ll use another quote that I have heard from Cubs fans: “There’s always next year.” So let’s talk 2012. Each growing season brings new experiences, thanks to the complexity of agriculture. The question is, do we learn and remember things that apply to

our future decision-making process, or do we just remember the weather? If we don’t take note and remember what happened, how do we make better decisions in the future? Recently, there was a question that came up about applying fungicide on corn that was blown down by high winds. Our agronomists made a recommendation to spray fungicide if an application was planned before the wind. Why? What happens with downed corn? If the plant is intact, it will slowly “gooseneck” and part of the plant will become erect again.

The corn will yield but not as well as if no wind damage had occurred, so harvesting every bushel counts and we all know downed corn is not fun to harvest. The application of a fungicide could help overall yield but will also help keep the plant healthy and improve stalk strength. Stalk strength is vital when harvesting downed corn. How do we know this? Unfortunately, from harvesting downed corn in the past. Remembering and applying your historical experiences can and will help you make better

decisions in the future. I think they call this “experience” and it’s still very valuable. Use as many experiences as you can when making decisions by utilizing your local FS crop specialist who has many acres of experiences each year and has a network of peers to glean experiences from as well. A final quote from Yogi Berra: “It ain’t over till it’s over.” Keep a positive outlook and enjoy the ride. Lance Ruppert is FS Seed sales and marketing manager. His email address is lruppert@growmark.com.

U of I ag economist: Crop prices have moved to new plateau BY DANIEL GRANT FarmWeek

Corn prices long-term aren’t expected to keep trading in the $6.50 to $7-plus-perbushel range.

FarmWeekNow.com View Scott Ir win’s comments about the new price plateau for crop prices at FarmWeekNow.com.

But they’re not expected to plummet back to a much lower 30-year average either. Scott Irwin, ag economist at the University of Illinois, believes crop prices instead

have moved to a new plateau and are poised to stay there possibly for decades. “We’re not going back to an average price of $2.42, unless something dramatic happens,” Irwin said last week at the Top Farmer Crop Workshop hosted by Purdue University at West Lafayette, Ind. “We are at a new plateau.” Irwin described the rise of crop prices since 2008 as a “profound, structural change similar to the 1970s” as opposed to a brief spike that occurred in 1995-96. If the structural change of the 1970s is being repeated, Irwin projected long-term price ranges of $3 to $6.70 per

M A R K E T FA C T S Feeder pig prices reported to USDA* Weight 10 lbs. 40 lbs. 50 lbs. Receipts

Range Per Head Weighted Ave. Price $17.00-$47.83 $36.87 $35.75-$67.70 $61.31 n/a n/a This Week Last Week 21,405 27,286 *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 $92.03 $88.72 $68.10 $65.65

Change 3.31 2.45

USDA five-state area slaughter cattle price Steers Heifers

This week 108.50 108.50

(Thursday’s price) Prev. week Change 110.74 -2.24 110.87 -2.37

CME feeder cattle index — 600-800 Lbs. This is a composite price of feeder cattle transactions in 27 states. (Prices $ per hundredweight) Prev. week Change 139.33 -3.43

This week 135.90

Lamb prices Slaughter Prices - Negotiated, Live, wooled and shorn 120-190 lbs. for 196-212.42 $/cwt. (wtd. ave. 203.57); dressed, no sales reported.

Export inspections (Million bushels) Week ending Soybeans Wheat Corn 7-14-11 3.7 18.7 29.0 7-07-11 6.2 21.3 34.2 Last year 10.0 23.6 40.9 Season total 1434.4 143.4 1549.4 Previous season total 1387.3 110.9 1612.8 USDA projected total 1540 1295 1900 Crop marketing year began June 1 for wheat and Sept. 1 for corn and soybeans.

‘We’re not going back to an average (corn) price of $2.42.’ — Scott Irwin Ag economist University of Illinois

bushel for corn (compared to the previous 30-year average of $2.42), $7.51 to $17.56 for soybeans (compared to the previous average of $6.15), and $3.30 to $10.15 for soft red winter wheat (compared to the previous average of $3.24). The higher crop values are due in large part to increased biofuels demand (with mandates for ethanol or biodiesel use in the U.S., Canada, Europe, Brazil, and Argentina) and economic growth in emerging markets, according to the economist. “Biofuels demand is a big driver,” Irwin said. “You put those (mandates) together with high oil prices and you have an explosive situation.” The U.S. ethanol industry is expected to buy about 40 percent of corn produced domes-

tically this year, according to Michael Boehlje, Purdue University ag economist. However, once distiller grains are removed from corn and put into the feed supply, the portion of the corn crop used by the ethanol industry actually

will be closer to 28 to 30 percent, which still is a sizable increase from previous years. Looking ahead, Irwin believes U.S. farmers need to plant closer to 95 million acres of corn for multiple years to ease the tight supply situation. Meanwhile, corn prices near-term will continue to be pressured by heat and dryness that could threaten pollination and total production. “With the heat, we actually could get to higher prices than where we’re at,” Irwin said last week when December corn futures were priced at $6.87.

Farming projected to remain profitable through 2012 Farmers are projected to turn a profit in 2011 and 2012 despite the possibility of higher inputs costs and lower crop prices. A University of Illinois study released last week projected net returns on highly productive Central Illinois farm ground this year will average $345 per acre for corn and $167 per acre for soybeans. The returns were based on average prices in 2011 of $6.25 per bushel for corn and $13.20 for soybeans. Prices in 2012 were projected to slide to averages of $5.50 for corn and $13 for beans. Meanwhile, input prices were projected to rise next year. Fertilizer costs in particular were projected to increase by $10 per acre for corn and $6 per acre for soybeans in Central Illinois. “It suggests we need prices above $4 for corn and $10 for soybeans for farmers to be profitable in this new cost environment,” said

Gary Schnitkey, U of I Extension farm management specialist. Current projections suggest farmers will make money next year, though, despite the possibility of higher costs. Returns in Central Illinois next year were projected to average $269 per acre for corn and $136 per acre for beans. “It looks like 2012 will be a profitable year, but there are risks out there,” Schnitkey said. For example, there likely will be pressure for higher cash rents in 2012 even though estimated returns currently do not suggest the need for another price increase. Average cash rents in Illinois from 2006 through 2010 increased an average of 28 percent. “The stickiness of cash rents at high levels may become an issue when returns become lower,” authors of the U of I report noted. The full report on 2011 and 2012 farm budgets can be viewed online at {www.farmdoc.illinois.edu}.


Page 11 Monday, July 25, 2011 FarmWeek

PROFITABILITY Corn Strategy

C AS H ST RAT E GI S T

Soybean export demand isn’t robust With all of the focus on the supply side of the balance sheet, negative demand issues have gone mostly unnoticed. The trade “talks up” the sporadic sale of soybeans to China noted on the USDA daily reporting system, but overall, Chinese demand, along with demand from other export customers is routine at best. Even discounting the big sales made to China early last winter when a “buying team” was in the country, the early pace of our new-crop export sales is reason to keep abreast of developments. At the current pace, new-crop export sales will fall under last year’s pace within a couple of weeks. The trend clearly is softer than last year, a time when prices were signifi-

cantly lower than they are today. The Chinese import data only add to the negative uncertainties. There’s risk Chinese imports this marketing year will be no better than last year, ending a string of huge increases. China’s calendar year imports are well short of last year’s and could drop below 2009’s. Port warehouses are bulging with inventory, thought to be near 7 million metric tons (mmt, 259 million bushels). That is thought to have cut June unloading nearly 1 mmt. There’s talk about government moves to expand pork output in China, but it’s expected to take some time for those actions to have an impact, helping to keep a lid on soybean meal demand and soybean imports. Chinese crush margins are better than a couple of months ago, but not strong enough to generate significant imports as they did last year. The situation could change, but it’s certainly one worth keeping an eye on this year.

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Cents per bu.

ü2010 crop: If you still have old crop, make sure basis is locked up. Use rallies above $7 on December to complete pricing. ü2011 crop: The current weather rally may have come to an end, although uncertainty will persist until December futures close below $6.60. Any turn lower would position prices to decline into the 20week low due in early August. This week’s break has strengthened resistance on December futures above $7. Use rallies above that for catch-up sales. We might recommend adding a small sale at any time; check the Hotline frequently. vFundamentals: Ideas abound about how much recent weather may have impacted corn yields, but uncertainty will persist into harvest. Wheat continues to be a drag on prices, especially after rumors that a Southeastern feed group may have bought Black Sea area feed wheat. ûFail-safe: If December falls through $6.60, make sure sales are at recommended levels.

Soybean Strategy

ü2010 crop: With prices so far unable to overcome winter highs, it’s time to dispose of any inventories you might have. ü2011 crop: Production risk is the big unknown, but August weather is more important to soybeans than July weather. And amid the optimism, there’s reason to question demand. There’s still a shot at seeing new highs, but soybeans have struggled at $14 all year. Use strength for catchup sales. We could add a small sale at any time; check the Hotline frequently. vFundamentals: Supply uncertainty is the cornerstone of current strength, along with prices remaining low relative to corn. But modest export sales and the persistence of negative crush margins leave a lot of demand questions on the table. Talk of better Chinese demand persists, but evidence continues to suggest caution is warranted (see main article). ûFail-safe: Make sure sales

are at recommended levels if November drops below $13.70.

Wheat Strategy

ü2011 crop: Wheat may have shifted into a sideways trade. The market has potential to gain more upside momentum as harvest pressures ease. Increase sales to 65 percent if Chicago September futures trade to $7.52. We prefer hedge-to-arrive contracts for winter or spring delivery if you have the capability to store wheat because of the large carry. vFundamentals: The overall fundamental structure

for wheat mostly is unchanged, although world supplies appear to be getting a little larger. Spring wheat conditions have improved with the warmer, drier weather. However, if these conditions persist, they could stress the crop. Winter wheat harvest has passed its peak, with 68 percent now harvested. Yields have been variable, but mostly surprisingly good depending on moisture. Export demand for U.S. wheat remains routine, but high protein wheat continues to see relatively good demand.


FarmWeek Page 12 Monday, July 25, 2011

perspectives

Building a new partnership: USDOT, America’s farmers notice in the Federal Register seeking public feedback on how existing commercial truck safety regulations impact the agricultural community. The feedback we’ve received so far has reflected significant concern among the agricultural community. We wanted to be clear about the purpose of this notice. We are not proposing new regulations for the farming community. What we are doing is seeking input and

flexibility to provide additional guidelines, but we are interested in feedback on how we can provide better guidance within the constraints of established judicial rulings. • Commercial driver’s license. Currently, federal regulations allow states to make exceptions to commercial driver’s license (CDL) regulations for certain farm vehicle drivers, as long as their vehicles are not used by for-hire motor carriers.

U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood often says that of all the U.S. Transportation Department’s (USDOT) responsibilities, safety is the most important — nothing else comes close. All of us at USDOT are working to ANNE build a transFERRO portation network that creates jobs and ensures America’s long-term competitiveness. Still, under Secretary LaHood’s leadership, safety is always priority one. At the same time, we realize that well-meaning regulations can be burdensome if the government isn’t thoughtful about how they’re put in place. Finding the right balance between the two can be challenging. In many cases, farmers and farm equipment don’t come under federal truck safety regulations when they are transporting products short distances, either within the farm or to a local market. This allows farmers to do business without meeting the same requirements as, for example, a company shipping goods across the country. However, the lines of distinction aren’t always clear. So in May, USDOT’s Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) published a

solutions from the community on three important issues: • Interstate vs. intrastate commerce. We’ve heard feedback that more clarification is needed between the two. Since the difference between the two has been determined by the U.S. Supreme Court and other federal courts, we have limited

We’ve heard questions about whether drivers who work for “crop share” or similar arrangements are eligible for this exemption. • Implements of husbandry. In a perfect world, farm vehicles would only operate on farms, while commercial trucks would operate on public roads.

The reality is that farm equipment not designed or intended for everyday use on public roads is often used for short trips at limited speeds. This creates a gray area for classification. In the absence of guidance, enforcement officials sometimes cite carriers for violating equipment rules, even when doing so would be impractical. A key principle of the Obama administration is that the best public policy comes from bringing the most people to the table. Although USDOT doesn’t have a long history of working with the agricultural community, it’s time we rolled up our sleeves together and got started. We’re well aware of the concern within the agricultural community regarding these three issues. The comment period is an opportunity to bring those concerns to the table. We’re eager for input and ideas about how we can achieve our safety mission without tying America’s farmers down with unnecessary burdens. Nevertheless, the comment period only works if stakeholders take an active role in

New England poet Emily Dickinson began one of her nature poems with the line: “To make a prairie it takes a clover and one bee.” Clover is a plant, and a bee is an insect that most people recTOM TURPIN ognize when they see one. We also generally have some notion that bees often are found around clover plants. To be sure, such knowledge could be the result of a bad experience — a sting! We might have been stung while running barefoot across the lawn and stepping on a bee visiting a flower. It is possible that our personal knowledge of the ability of a bee to inflict a sting might have been generated when we intentionally or accidentally grabbed a bee in our hand. Hoosier poet James Whit-

comb Riley wrote about such an incident: Wunst I watched one climb clean ‘way In a jimson-blossom, I did one day An’ I is grabbed it - an nen let go An’ “Ooh-ooh! Honey! I told ye so!” Says the Raggedy Man: an he is run An’ pullt out the stinger, an’ don’t laugh none. Riley’s poem is titled “The Bumblebee.” But if the Raggedy Man pulled out a stinger, it must have been a honeybee that did the stinging because that is the only bee that leaves a stinger in the skin. Emily Dickinson did not specify the type of bee or clover that she had in mind in her poem. There are about 300 species of clover and nearly 20,000 species of bees. Because she didn’t tell us, the kind of bee and type of clover Emily Dickinson is referencing is anyone’s guess. The natural history in Dick-

inson’s poem is even more challenging because of the reference to a prairie. In general, clover species are not common in prairies of North America. That is the case even though the greatest diversity of this group of plants is found in temperate habitats of the Northern Hemisphere. The common clovers that people recognize were introduced to the United States as fodder or pasture plants because they are highly palatable to livestock. These include the white and red clovers, and neither would have been found in a native prairie habitat. Such clovers, though, are common in agricultural lands such as old fields or pastures. In all likelihood, Emily Dickinson was describing what most of us probably would call a meadow. The connection between bees and clover is a mutually beneficial relationship known as pollination. The plant bribes the insect with nectar, and the

insect repays the plant by carrying pollen from flower to flower. As a result of this relationship, the insect gets food and the plant is able to reproduce. In today’s lingo, it is a win-win situation for the plant and insect. Bees and clover also are a winning combination as far as humans are concerned. At least, it is for those humans who like to consume honey. The clovers are such good nectar-producing plants that they are the source of much of the honey marketed by beekeepers in the United States. The honeybees maintained by beekeepers get from white clovers the nectar that is the source of clover honey. The nectar produced by red clovers is not accessible to honeybees. Why? Because the tongues of honeybees are too short to reach the nectar of the flower. On the other hand, bumble

LaHood on rule review U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood recently praised Illinois Farm Bureau’s efforts to address problems stemming from interpretations of federal transportation rules. LaHood spoke to state Farm Bureau presidents when they met in Washington, D.C. IFB President Philip Nelson later presented LaHood with a copy of IFB’s comments to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) about the impact on farming and possible solutions. Nelson said LaHood told him and American Farm Bureau Federation (AFBF) President Bob Stallman in a recent meeting he and FMCSA officials are well aware of the problems in Illinois and the secretary strongly encouraged farm organizations such as IFB and AFBF to propose solutions.

the conversation. At the request of a number of Farm Bureaus, we’ve extended the comment period to Aug. 1. This allows all participants more time to ensure their voices are heard. Everyone in this administration — from President Obama, Vice President Biden, and Secretary LaHood on down — is committed to the long-term success of America’s agricultural industry. In many ways, agriculture is the backbone of our economy — feeding hundreds of millions of Americans and billions more around the world. As the largest user of freight transportation in the nation, the agricultural industry is also one of USDOT’s most important constituents. We hope this comment period is the start of a new and productive relationship. We may not ultimately agree on every issue, but we will always listen — and do our best to help America’s farmers succeed. Anne Ferro is the administrator of the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration.

Clover, bees, and prairies — the circle of plant life bees are long-tongued and can reach the nectar of a red clover flower. That is why fields of red clover were always heavily populated with nests of bumble bees by the end of the growing season. That is also why many old farmers have tales to tell of the hazards of plowing up clover fields in the fall — the bumblebees didn’t take kindly to having their nests destroyed! What exactly did Emily Dickinson have in mind when she penned the line about a bee, a clover, and a prairie? I believe she used the bee and the clover and the unstated pollination connection to symbolize the components and the process of creating something much larger — a prairie. Or as Walt Disney said: “If you can dream it, you can do it!” Tom Turpin is a professor of entomology at Purdue University, West Lafayette, Ind. His e-mail address is turpin@purdue.edu.

FarmWeek July 25 2011  

FarmWeek July 25 2011

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