Page 1

“CAP AND TRADE” may be capped for the time being, but other regulatory threats to agriculture linger in Washington, leading to a Farm Bureau-sponsored rally. .......2

T H E U. S . S E NA T E h a s approved long-awaited restoration of an expired tax credit seen as crucial to the biodiesel industry’s future. ...........................................3

USDA HAS ABANDONED the National Animal Identification System (NAIS) and announced it will promote a flexible framework for animal disease traceability. .......4

Monday, March 15, 2010

Two sections Volume 38, No. 11

Prospects appear good for estate tax fix BY MARTIN ROSS FarmWeek

Prospects appear good for some form of ramped-up estate tax relief this year, if Senate support gels and budget-deficit concerns don’t obscure concerns from the countryside. Under a 2001 tax bill loophole, the estate tax expired Jan. 1 but is set to return at pre-2002 levels in 2011. Lawmakers must quickly address 2011 tax concerns, or “come Jan. 1, we will have estate taxes back on the books with a very low exemption level of $1 million per person and a very high (tax) rate of 55 percent,” American Farm Bureau Federation policy analyst Pat Wolff told FarmWeek during last week’s Illinois Farm Bureau Leaders to Washington tour. Wolff sees “the will in Congress to provide more relief,” but argues a House plan to restore 2009’s $3.5 million exemption, with no consideration for inflationary impacts on estate values, is inadequate to protect heirs from potentially liquidating assets to cover their taxes.

Farm Bureau is pinning its hopes on a proposal from House Ag Chairman Blanche Lincoln (D-Ark.) and Senate Republican Whip Jon Kyl (RAriz.) to reinstate the tax with a $5 million individual, $10 million per couple exemption, adjustable for inflation. The Lincoln-Kyl bill proposes a 35 percent maximum estate tax rate and full “stepped-up basis,” a Farm Bureau-supported provision. The bill would enable heirs to take the fair market value of an estate for capital gains purposes and pay capital gains tax on the difference between the net sales price and that stepped-up basis — if and when they sell assets. Wolff reported Lincoln and Kyl are working on a way to make their plan “revenueneutral” — a key factor in garnering support from budget-conscious colleagues. Rep. John Shimkus, a Collinsville Republican, fears lawmakers may be tempted to let estate tax reform “lapse,” sug-

gesting that amid 10-year deficit projections, they may feel the revenues the high rates and low exemptions would generate are needed. Shimkus stressed that if the Senate acts first to provide relief, “we’ll pass it in the House.” However, he noted Sen. Byron Dorgan (D-N.D.), a lead advocate for estate tax relief, is not seeking re-election this fall, while Lincoln faces a tough race to keep her seat next fall. Wolff nonetheless believes influential Senate Majority Whip Dick Durbin, a Springfield Democrat, will support relief: “He wants to get this issue off the (Senate) plate.” Durbin told the Farm Bureau leaders he would back changes that “respect appreciation in (estate) value,” and was optimistic action would be taken this session. “This has to be done, and it has to be done this year,” he said.

Quinn: Cut ed funding or hike income tax IDOA sees $6.9 million in operating program cuts BY DAVE MCCLELLAND FarmWeek

Periodicals: Time Valued

U.S. Sen. Dick Durbin, a Springfield Democrat, discusses issues ranging from the estate tax to climate change policies with Illinois Farm Bureau Leaders to Washington last week. Leaders made the rounds of congressional offices and attended briefings with American Farm Bureau Federation policy experts and USDA officials. For more details of the lobbying tour, see stories inside. (Photo by Martin Ross)

In what amounted to an ultimatum to the General Assembly, Gov. Pat Quinn last week said he was proposing a $1.3 billion cut in the state’s education funding unless legislators approve a hike in the income tax. Calling his proposed reduction in education funding “the most painful cut of all” in a budget address that proposed several cuts, including some in the ag department, Quinn said slashing state funding across the board to address a $13 billion budget deficit would be “both heartless and naïve.” He said the cut in education

funding, in lieu of a hike in the income tax increase from 3 percent to 4 percent, was needed because $1 billion in federal stimulus funding that had protected education from funding cuts comes to an end July 1. The 17 percent cut in state funding for education would amount to a $1 billion cut from elementary and secondary education funding; the remainder would come from higher education. It is estimated the reduction in elementary and secondary education would reduce the general state aid per pupil from the current $6,119 to $5,600. Only by approving an increase in the income tax —

which would increase tax revenues by about $3 billion — will it be possible to preserve education funding and “keep thousands of committed teachers from getting layoff notices in the next few weeks,” Quinn said.

FarmWeekNow.com For more reaction and details on the proposed budget, go to FarmWeekNow.com.

“I think it is wrong — and short-sighted — to cut education funding,” said Quinn as he announced the cuts. The governor’s budget contained two other major elements: A $1.1 billion appropriation for a capital program that would be leveraged with federal and local dollars to fund $6 billion in construction projects and creation of a Small Busi-

ness Job Creation Tax Credit that would provide a $2,500 tax credit for each full-time job created by employers with 50 or fewer employees. AGRICULTURE FUNDING is proposed to be cut by $6.9 million as Quinn announced proposed cuts of $214 million in overall state operations. Most operating programs within the Illinois Department of Agriculture, as well as pass-through programs such as Extension, Soil and Water Conservation Districts, and county fairs, would see cuts. Some programs would have their appropriation eliminated. Those include Agrability, the Ag Leadership Foundation, the Farm Resources Center, and the Council on Food and Agricultural Research (C-FAR). See Quinn, page 3

FarmWeek on the web: FarmWeekNow.com

Illinois Farm


FarmWeek Page 2 Monday, March 15, 2010

Quick Takes CF TO BUY TERRA — A bidding war in the fertilizer industry that dragged on for months came to an end last week. U.S. fertilizer manufacturer CF Industries, of which GROWMARK is a shareholder, reported Friday it agreed to purchase Terra Industries for roughly $4.7 billion. Terra is a leadingNorth American manufacturer of nitrogen. The deal, which has been approved by both companies’ boards, came together after Canadian fertilizer maker Agrium Inc. dropped its $5.4-billion bid to take over CF Industries. Terra announced on its website that it had officially ended its previously announced deal with Norway’s Yara International. That offer was valued at $4.1 billion. NEW CME WEBSITE — The CME Group recently launched a new website/blog that focuses on financial markets. The new site, Open Markets, is intended to communicate CME Group’s views and help spark dialogue on a broad range of issues that affect financial markets. Content will include testimonies and speeches, white papers and features from CME Group Magazine, and news coverage on related issues. Open Markets can be viewed online at {www.cmegroup.com/openmarkets}. FLORIDA ORANGE CROP REVISED — The Florida orange crop, the world’s secondlargest, will be 1.6 percent bigger than estimated last month, according to a USDA assessment of damage from a January freeze. The U.S. all-orange forecast for the 2009-10 season is 8.10 million tons, up 2 percent from the Feb. 1 forecast but down 12 percent from the 2008-09 final usage, according to a report released last week by USDA’s National Agricultural Statistics Service. Production will total 131 million boxes for the harvest ending in July, more than analysts expected and up from the February forecast of 129 million, according to USDA. About 162.4 million boxes were collected last season. Dry weather and a cold spell in the first half of 2009 resulted in fewer and smaller oranges and a January freeze killed some crops.

(ISSN0197-6680) Vol. 38 No. 11

March 15, 2010

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

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GOVERNMENT

Inhofe: Cap and trade no-go; suits may stall EPA moves BY MARTIN ROSS FarmWeek

“Cap and trade” may be capped for the time being, but amid continued federal legislative and regulatory threats to agriculture, key lawmakers joined Farm Bureau in rallying against policies that “cap our future.” The American Farm Bureau Federation sponsored a Capitol Hill “Don’t Cap Our Future” rally last week, displaying 100,000-plus postcards, signatures, and other “calls to action” against climate/greenhouse gas (GHG) restrictions proposed by Congress and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). Rally participants included Senate Ag Committee ranking member Saxby Chambliss (RGa.). Efforts to revive stalled measures to regulate utility and industrial GHG emissions are “not going to go anywhere,” participant Sen. Jim Inhofe (R-Okla.) told FarmWeek. Inhofe challenges the science EPA used to justify a recent greenhouse gas “endangerment finding” and prospective new GHG rules for a variety of sectors. That position sparked debate at a recent climate summit in Copenhagen, where Inhofe and Sens. John Kerry (D-Mass.) and Lindsay Gramm (R-S.C.), sponsors of revised climate proposals, voiced their different philosophies. “They both (Kerry and Gramm) got in a position over in Copenhagen of making broad statements — ‘You can depend on us; we’re going to pass cap and trade,’” Inhofe said. “I stood up in front of the same crowd and said, ‘What they’re saying isn’t true — it’s not going to happen in the United States. “They’re going to continue to try, and they’re going to call it something besides cap and trade. But it’s still cap and trade, and it’s not going to pass. “I can’t think of very many members of the United States Senate who want to go back to their people and say, ‘Aren’t

Sen. James Inhofe (R-Okla.), left, an outspoken critic of climate change and cap and trade legislation, and American Farm Bureau Federation President Bob Stallman, right, were among those touting concerns about potential greenhouse gas policies at a “rally” last week on Capitol Hill. In the foreground are Farm Bureau-generated postcards and letters against cap and trade from across the U.S. (Photo by Martin Ross)

you proud of me? I passed the largest ‘tax’ increase in America.’ ” Cap and trade would impact ag energy and input

lar measures in an effort to court support from both parties. The bills could move under streamlined “government review” procedures allowing law‘ They’re going to continue to makers to try, and they’re going to call nullify agency regui t s o m e t h i n g b e s i d e s c a p lations with a and trade. But it’s still cap mere 51-vote and trade, and it’s not going majority. In addito pass.’ tion, Inhofe said nearly a dozen law— Sen. James Inhofe suits chalOklahoma Republican lenging EPA greenhouse costs; EPA rules could direct- regs are in the works, ly affect livestock operations. potentially stalling new Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-Alas- r ules at least until fall elecka) is sponsoring a “disaptions and a potential proval” resolution that would change in Congress. knock down EPA authority to Next week’s FarmWeek regulate GHGs. will examine threats to Reps. Collin Peterson (Dagriculture posed by variMinn.) and Ike Skelton (Dous EPA and congressionMo.) and Rep. Joe Barton (Ral environmental proposTexas) support separate simials.


FarmWeek Page 3 Monday, March 15, 2010

GOVERNMENT Final approval near?

Senate OKs biodiesel credit restoration BY MARTIN ROSS FarmWeek

As Illinois producers last week lobbied for marketfriendly policies on Capitol

Hill, the U.S. Senate approved long-awaited restoration of an expired tax credit seen as crucial to the biodiesel industry’s future.

High speed to help freight lines?

Transportation bill ‘most multimodal’? Freight carriers — and their ag customers — should benefit from high-speed rail, according to U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood. A portion of the $8 billion in 2009 stimulus funds allocated for high-speed rail service nationwide will be spent “in cooperation with the freight rail system,” LaHood told FarmWeek and RFD Radio. Some $1.2 billion of that has been allocated for a Chicago to St. Louis high-speed corridor. “Freight rail systems will be utilized, and we’ll be using some of this money to fix up the infrastructure on freight tracks so that these passenger trains can go faster,” the former Peoria congressman said. “Where we have infrastructure — like Amtrak lines, like freight rail lines — there will be opportunities to use some of this money. This is a real partnership between the highspeed rail enthusiasts, freight rail companies, and Amtrak.” LaHood noted the “lion’s share” of $1.5 billion in 2009 U.S. Department of Transportation (USDOT) Transportation Investment Generating Economic Recovery (TIGER) grants went to freight rail improvements that should help “get trucks off the road and unclog some of our highways.” A $100 million TIGER grant was awarded to CREATE (Chicago Region Environmental and Transportation

Quinn Continued from page 1 “This was the first shot over the bow in the process of developing a state spending plan,” said Kevin Semlow, Illinois Farm Bureau’s director of state legislation. “It was clear that there was not outright support for the approach the governor took in placing an ultimatum to either cut education funding or raise the income tax. “We will continue to work with legislators to develop a budget that does not hinder programs crucial to agriculture in light of a budget with a growing debt and shrinking revenue,” said Semlow.

Efficiency), a partnership between USDOT, the State of Illinois, the City of Chicago, the Metra public rail system, Amtrak, and freight carriers. CREATE projects include crossing, signaling, rail yard, and related improvements along five key rail corridors. Chicago freight rail demand is expected to nearly double within 20 years. Sen. Dick Durbin, a Springfield Democrat, deemed CREATE crucial to helping relieve “huge bottlenecks that restrict the flow of freight and passengers at a cost to the United States of an estimated $200 billion a year.“ Carload freight volume on U.S. rails reached its highest level in more than a year over the week ending Feb. 27, according to the Association of American Railroads (AAR). AAR reported intermodal traffic — truck/rail delivery of freight containers to and from ports — reached its highest level this year, up 17.5 percent from 2009, and rail container volume increased 23.2 percent over the same week in 2009. LaHood predicts Congress’ next highway/transportation bill will prove “the most multimodal bill people have ever seen.” USDOT has consulted with U.S. House Transportation Chairman James Oberstar (D-Minn.) over the past year, and will develop basic “principles” for project prioritization and funding. LaHood sees “many, many good provisions” in Oberstar’s draft proposals, and maintains Congress already has set the stage for intermodal improvements. “When the $48 billion (in transportation recovery funds) came to us a year ago, we broke down the kind of insular way transportation has worked and we put together a team that worked for 13 months to make sure the money was getting out the door, was being spent correctly,” the secretary said. “We now have a good team that’s working together across modes. We’re sharing resources, and we’re also working very closely with other Cabinet agencies on the agricultural end of things, to make sure we’re not ignoring rural America.” — Martin Ross

The Senate OK’d a massive $138 billion second “jobs” package that includes a range of federal tax “extenders” and prospective disaster assistance for producers affected by recent weather extremes. The bill included a one-year extension of a $1-per-gallon biodiesel blenders credit that expired Jan. 1, resulting in industry layoffs and shutdowns. The extension, which must be reconciled with House proposals before a final vote, would be retroactive to January — an important factor for fuel suppliers who have been purchasing biofuels on faith over the past two months. The Illinois Soybean Association (ISA) applauded lawmakers “for taking action on this very important issue for

the biodiesel industry in our state and others.” “We are thankful to see this kind of support for the biodiesel industry,” said ISA Vice Chairman Mike Cunningham of Bismarck. “Now we urge Congress to move swiftly to come together on a final bill that can be passed and signed into law as soon as possible.” Earlier House extenders legislation also offered a oneyear, retroactive extension. The National Biodiesel Board warned 23,000 jobs supported by the U.S. biodiesel industry “are in jeopardy if the incentive continues to lapse.” “It’s like Nero — we’re fiddling as Rome is burning,” U.S. Rep. John Shimkus, a Collinsville Republican and biofuels advocate on the House

Energy and Commerce Committee, warned Illinois Farm Bureau Leaders to Washington touring Capitol Hill last week. USDA also has been pushing lawmakers to ensure continuation of a “vibrant biodiesel industry,” a department representative told the leaders. The Senate jobs bill also extends tax breaks for shortline and regional railroads and seeks $1.5 billion in ag disaster aid sought by Senate Ag Chairman Blanche Lincoln (D-Ark.). California senators secured a tentative $150 million alone for largely West Coast specialty growers, but an aide to Springfield Democrat Sen. Dick Durbin told the leaders that “there should be some assistance available” for Midwest growers as well.

Horse slaughter legislation pulled State Rep. Jim Sacia (R-Freeport) last week pulled his legislation that would legalize horse slaughter in Illinois from the legislative agenda for this session of the General Assembly. In an impassioned speech to his colleagues, Sacia said he would not pursue a vote on HB 4812 this session based on his knowledge that the Illinois Senate leadership would not allow the measure to be called for a vote and that Gov. Pat Quinn had promised a veto should the bill reach his desk.

Sacia’s district includes DeKalb, where the nation’s last horse-slaughter plant shut down a few years ago. Illinois banned horse slaughter in 2007. In other action, Sen. John Sullivan (DRushville) successfully passed SB 2566 that would reinstate the ability of farmers to drive ATVs and UTVs on rural roadways for farm purposes. The bill was approved in a 56-0 vote. Rep. Bob Flider (D-Decatur) is now a sponsor of the bill in the House and is working to gain passage there.

MARCHING FOR CONCEALED CARRY

A group of Southern Illinois Farm Bureau members and staffers journeyed to Springfield last week to participate in the Illinois Gun Owners Lobby Day in support of allowing concealed carry of weapons in Illinois. About 10,000 participated in the rally. Participating were Randy Anderson, Saline County Farm Bureau treasurer; Sam DeNeal, Saline vice president; Jim Patterson, Saline board member; Garry Jenkins, Williamson County Farm Bureau manager; Bob Hall, Jackson-Union manager; and David Meeker, Saline-Gallatin manager. The group met with state Sens. Gary Forby (D-Benton) and William Delgado (D-Chicago) and Reps. Brandon Phelps (D-Harrisburg), John Bradley (D-Marion), Luis Arroyo (D-Chicago), Cynthia Soto (D-Chicago), and Ed Sullivan Jr. (R-Mundelein). In addition to concealed carry, the group also discussed budget issues, the deficit, Dixon Springs Agricultural Center funding, tax issues, and the now-withdrawn horse harvest bill. (Photo by David Meeker)


FarmWeek Page 4 Monday, March 15, 2010

LIVESTOCK

USDA seeks input on animal disease traceability BY DANIEL GRANT FarmWeek

USDA this month will begin gathering input from the livestock industry to help in developing the framework for its new approach to animal disease traceability. Ag Secretary Tom Vilsack at the Commodity Classic in Anaheim, Calif., told FarmWeek he hopes the industry comes up with a “consensus position on what the standards will be for interstate commerce.” USDA last month aban-

doned the National Animal Identification System (NAIS) and announced it will promote a flexible framework for animal disease traceability in the U.S. The new system will apply only to animals moved in interstate commerce, it will encourage the use of lower-cost technology, and it will be implemented transparently through federal regulations and the full rule-making process, according to USDA. “We’ll allow the states to decide themselves” where to go from there, said Vilsack, who not-

ed the traceability program will be administered by states and tribal nations to provide more flexibility. The livestock industry beginning this month will hold meetings around the country to establish the framework for animal disease traceability. The National Institute for Animal Agriculture (NIAA) recently announced it will dedicate a portion of its annual meeting, which will be held Monday (March 15) through Wednesday in Kansas City, to

offer input on the new program. “Given the new direction (of the animal disease traceability program), there are many questions as to what producers, marketers, and processors of livestock in the U.S. should expect as a result of the shift in policy” said Michael Coe, cochairman of the NIAA Animal Identification and Information Systems Committee. A panel of animal agriculture representatives from each of the major food animal sectors,

Lawmakers, activist groups ramp up livestock concerns BY MARTIN ROSS FarmWeek

An animal disease outbreak “tabletop” exercise sponsored by the Tristate Agro Emergency Committee was conducted last week at Highland Community College in Freeport. Personnel from Iowa, Wisconsin, and Illinois spent the day working through a simulated animal disease event on a livestock farm located in the corner of the tri-state area. Shown here, from left, are Bruce Johnson, manager of Stephenson County Farm Bureau; Jill Frueh, manager of Bureau County Farm Bureau; and Annette McLane, manager of Jo Daviess County Farm Bureau. (Photo by Jim Fraley, Illinois Farm Bureau livestock program director)

livestock auctions, and processors will be part of the discussion at the NIAA meeting. Information on that event is available online at {www.animalagriculture.org}. “I’m hopeful we’ll get a system that contains disease outbreaks and allows us to continue to aggressively market our products,” Vilsack said. More information about the new framework for animal disease traceability is online at {www.aphis.usda.gov/traceability}.

Livestock producers must arm themselves with “truth” as animal rights activists mobilize for a second round of Midwest consumercourting and a push to involve Congress in the debate over best animal practices. So says American Farm Bureau Federation policy analyst Kelli Ludlum, who warned Illinois Farm Bureau Leaders to Washington last week of an animal care “agenda” that potentially ties into “agricultural policy, food policy, and even obesity.” The debate has reached Capitol Hill: Southern California congressmen have unveiled a measure that would force federal agencies to buy meat, milk, and egg from sources that raise animals “free from cruelty and abuse.” The bill, which covers school, military, and other feeding programs, requires procuring products from animals given room to stand, lie down, turn, or extend their limbs in any direction without touching an enclosure or another animal. Effectively, the plan, adapted from Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) proposals, requires suppliers to move to “open production systems,” Ludlum warned. “There are a number of animal rights groups out there that really seek to limit producers’ ability to be proper stewards of their livestock,” Ludlum told FarmWeek. “Fighting those off at both the federal and state levels is going to be something we’re going

to continue to deal with for some time to come. Groups like (HSUS), with 10 million members strong, aren’t going to go anywhere soon.” Moving from controlled indoor production raises concerns about environmental compliance at a time of already heavy regulation, leaders warned Capitol Hill lawmakers. Carroll County’s Edwin Livengood stressed, “We already raise our animals humanely,” and maintained that if animals are forced outdoors, “our production’s going to go way down” and ultimately, “costs are going to go up.” Meanwhile, HSUS hasn’t given up its push to restrict Ohio livestock practices. Ohio voters rejected HSUS proposals last fall, approving a ballot initiative that created a diverse Ohio Livestock Care Standards Board. But HSUS has launched a petition drive for signatures to place a new initiative on this November’s ballot, which, according to Ludlow, would “outlaw use of most modern production systems for pork and poultry.” She suggests HSUS likely will hit its June 30 target for signatures, and said she fears “Ohio’s going to have another battle on its hands with educating consumers.” HSUS has been accused of misleading consumers, drawing support by focusing on animal rescue issues despite a meager funding share for companion animal/shelter-rescue programs. In response, it recently established a mobile emergency shelter and equine rescue facilities, Ludlum reported.

Antibiotics measure threat to consumers Lawmakers concerned about livestock antibiotics use and potential public health should consider the potential consumer consequences of removing crucial veterinary tools from the producer’s arsenal, American Farm Bureau Federation policy analyst Kelli Ludlum warns. The proposed national Preservation of Antibiotics for Medical Treatment Act (PAMTA) would require U.S. Food and Drug Administration re-review under new criteria of seven classes of antibiotics that are used in both veterinary and human care. The bill, originally championed by the late U.S. Sen. Edward Kennedy (D-Mass.), aims to restrict “sub-therapeutic” or preventative use of antibiotics in farm animals. Ludlum noted provisions

already are in place for FDA review of all antibiotics, and emphasized “there’s never been a correlation (of animal antibiotics use) to human health in peer-reviewed research.” “Even if PAMTA were to pass, there’s no evidence it would have any effect on the legitimate issue of antibiotic resistance in humans,” Ludlum told FarmWeek during last week’s Illinois Farm Bureau Leaders to Washington visit. “There’s just no data that links antibiotic usage in livestock to resistance in humans, she said. “The upshot of this legislation is that livestock producers would essentially lose important tools to keep animals healthy and provide safe food, and there’d be no public benefit in terms of the antibiotic resistance issue — we’d be no

further ahead than we are today.” Ludlum noted antibiotic use can be crucial in stemming the spread of microbial pathogens than cause livestock diseases and that, ultimately, may “linger into the food supply.” Preventative use of antibiotics can help reduce the need for after-the-fact treatment of livestock diseases, she argued. There are no truly effective vet-use-only replacements for some key antibiotics targeted by PAMTA, she claimed. “The upshot is there’s no way these products would still be on the market for livestock production if PAMTA passes,” Ludlum said. “The criteria are so specific and the timelines are so short. We think this is an extremely short-sighted bill.” — Martin Ross


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PRODUCTION

Analysts: USDA crop revisions Will weather pattern have little impact on markets continue this season? BY DANIEL GRANT FarmWeek

USDA last week revised its final corn and soybean production numbers — originally released in January — to include updates after a late harvest. But the markets hardly blinked as additional farmer surveys prompted USDA to make only slight adjustments. U.S. corn production last week was trimmed by 20 million bushels to 13.1 billion bushels, and soybean production was trimmed by 2 million bushels to 3.36 billion bushels. Both production totals remain well above record levels. In Illinois, the statewide corn yield estimate was trimmed by 1 bushel to 174 bushels per acre. Market analysts last week said the production revisions will have little effect on a market that instead will focus more in coming weeks on the South

American harvest and planting intentions in the U.S. “You can almost ask the question — was it even worth it?” said Darin Newsom, Telvent DTN senior analyst. When asked how much impact on the market a 20-million-bushel reduction in corn production will have on a 13.1billion-bushel crop, AgriVisor analyst Dale Durchholz told the RFD Radio Network, “It’s chicken feed. It’s not important.” What may have more of an impact on the market is the fact that USDA in its World Agricultural Supply and Demand Estimates (WASDE) report last week cut corn exports by 100 million bushels. USDA in the WASDE report, meanwhile, increased soy exports by 20 million bushels to a record 1.42 billion bushels and increased ending stocks of wheat by 20 million bushels.

Soy yield challenge deadline extended until April 15 Farmers now have until tax day, April 15, to sign up for the 2010 Soybean Yield Challenge. The unique new program coordinated by the Illinois Soybean Association (ISA) and funded by the soybean checkoff is designed to give soybean growers and soy industry leaders an opportunity to collaborate on the best ways to maximize yields in each of Illinois’ nine crop reporting districts. “This is going to give us a tremendous amount of data to increase yields on their (Yield Challenge participants’) farms and overall in Illinois,” Ron Moore, ISA chairman, told FarmWeek during the Soy Research Forum last week in Champaign. The deadline was extended due in part to an influx of last-minute inquiries, according to Moore. It also will give farmers and teams more time to determine what varieties they want to Ron Moore plant, plot locations, and other factors. Early indications suggest the first-ever Yield Challenge could include at least 500 to 600 plots for study and there is “a lot more interest out there,” said Moore, who hopes the number of plot entries could reach as high as 800. Participants who have questions about the Yield Challenge may visit the website {www.soyyieldchallenge.com}, call the ISA office at 309-663-7692, or contact Jim Nelson, Yield Challenge coordinator, at 309-825-7542. A series of training sessions also has been scheduled for later this month. The sessions, from 8:30 a.m. to noon, will be held March 29 at Heartland Community College in Normal; March 30 at the Holiday Inn in Mt. Vernon; and March 31 at Kishwaukee College in Malta. “There’s no other effort created to unify farmer research like this,” Nelson said. “We’re looking forward to meeting and networking with everyone who attends (the training sessions) and giving them the tools they need to get the most out of this endeavor.” — Daniel Grant

“The corn estimates were a little negative,” Durchholz said. USDA lowered its marketing year price estimate for corn by 20 cents on the top end to a range of $3.45 to $3.75 per bushel. The U.S. soybean market, which is expected to come under pressure because of competition from a record crop in Brazil, was projected to average $8.95 to $9.95 per bushel, while the marketing year average price for wheat was estimated at $4.80 to $5 per bushel. “I think it’s going to be a tight year (for farm margins),” Newsom said. “But that doesn’t mean we won’t see seasonal rallies.” He recommended farmers take advantage of rallies to price a portion of their new crops. The weather in coming weeks could trigger rallies — USDA projected U.S. farmers this spring will plant 89 million acres of corn (up 2.5 million from last year) and 77 million acres of soybeans (down a half million acres from last year). USDA on March 31 will release its first official estimate of prospective plantings for the upcoming season.

Farmers this growing season could see a “continuation of the wet and cool (weather) pattern” in Illinois, according to Eric Luebehusen, meteorologist with the USDA World Ag Outlook Board. Weather indicators, including an active El Nino pattern in the Pacific Ocean, point toward normal to wetter-than-normal conditions this spring and summer, Luebehusen told IFB Leaders to Washington participants last week. The forecast, if realized, could create planting delays this spring and possibly more crop disease issues later in the ‘The central season. Corn Belt still is On the bright side, the chances of reverting back to stuck in a wet dry or drought conditions at weather pattern.’ this point appear minimal. “The central Corn Belt still — Eric Luebehusen is stuck in a wet weather patUSDA meteorologist tern,” Luebehusen said. In fact, since 2003 “2005 was the only season in Illinois where dryness was a concern. Other than that year, it’s been normal or wetter than normal.” Precipitation levels in the central Corn Belt for the past year range from 8 to 20-plus inches above normal, Luebehusen said. Farmers at least could see some relief from the soggy conditions this week. Amy Jankowski, meteorologist with the National Weather Service office in Lincoln, said the weather forecast for the next two weeks is fairly dry with the exception of a chance for rain this weekend. “Then, it could be dry again toward the end of the month,” Jankowski said. If the near-term forecast is realized, farmers the rest of this month may be able to catch up on fieldwork that wasn’t completed last fall or begin preparations for planting. There were reports last week of farmers applying spring fertilizer in Southern Illinois. — Daniel Grant


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MARKETS

USDA sets sights on international markets BY DANIEL GRANT FarmWeek

USDA will place more emphasis on overseas markets to help domestic farmers and rural economies. Ag Secretary Tom Vilsack earlier this month at the Commodity Classic in Anaheim, Calif., discussed specific strategies aimed at increasing U.S. ag exports. “We have to think differently about trade,” Vilsack said. “We’ve had a one-sizefits-all approach.” USDA will continue to focus on trade expansion through measures such as free trade agreements and multilateral discussions, Vilsack assured farm leaders at the event. But it also will implement trade-enhancing strategies that are specific to each market. “We have to recognize there are different markets,” Vilsack said. “It’s important to tailor trade to individual market conditions.” USDA, for example, will send technical teams to countries with a growing middle class to ensure market access. The

U.S. earlier this month reached an agreement with Russia to reopen the Russian market to U.S. pork and pork products. Meanwhile, USDA will work to build the American brand in mature markets to promote sales of high-value products, said Vilsack. It also will focus on teaching consumers about the quality of U.S. products in countries with tremendous growth potential such as South Africa, and it has specific strategies to rebuild fragile states such as Afghanistan, he said. The emphasis on ag trade is part of the Obama administration’s new National Export Initiative. The goal of the initiative is to double U.S. exports within the next five years. “It’s important that we figure out strategies to bring prosperity back to the farm and rural America,” Vilsack said. “The surplus in ag trade (which this year is estimated at $22.5 billion) helps create wealth in rural communities.” Rob Joslin, president of the American Soybean Association, noted infrastructure

improvements will be vital to meet the lofty export goals. Meanwhile, Vilsack said USDA also will place more emphasis on educating consumers about the benefits of biotechnology to help meet increasing demand for food. “As the population continues to grow, and the amount of land for ag continues to shrink, we’ve got to use sci-

ence to increase productivity,” said Vilsack, who will deliver the keynote address next month at the U.S. Grains Council’s Global Food Security Symposium in Tokyo, Japan. Karl Scronce, president of the National Association of Wheat Growers, said biotechnology could be critical to improving wheat yields.

“We’re losing acreage to other commodities,” Scronce said. “We desperately need to increase yields, and the way to do that is through biotechnology and advanced breeding techniques.” Wheat scab resistance and drought tolerance are among the traits that could provide immediate results for wheat growers, Scronce added.

Small, mid-sized exporters focus of export plan BY MARTIN ROSS FarmWeek

The administration will support new technical and financial resources intended specifically for the novice ag exporter while stepping up efforts to beat down global trade violations that hinder market access, a USDA official assured Illinois farmers last week. During a USDA briefing for Illinois Farm Bureau Leaders to Washington, Michael Scuse, USDA deputy under secretary for Farm and Foreign Services (FFAS), hailed last week’s release of specifics of President Obama’s new U.S. export initiative intended to double U.S.

exports over the next five years. The plan calls for a new “mini-cabinet” including USDA; Commerce, State, Treasury, and Labor departments; the U.S. Trade Representative’s office; and other key federal officials, to focus on increased international sales and access. Obama argued “we need to up our game” amid foreign growth and trade competition. The initiative would expand federal trade advocacy, “especially for small to mid-sized companies,” with an emphasis on promoting potential export opportunities and educating producers and others on foreign market entry and an additional $2 billion in added annual credit for farmers and other prospective exporters, Scuse said. He deemed small to medium-sized entrepreneur-marketers “key to the success of our initiative.” At the same time, Obama pledged more rigorous U.S. efforts to endorse existing trade policies and practices. In particular, “non-science-based barriers are a hindrance to getting our products into these markets,” Scuse argued. But barriers created by high foreign import tariffs also will not be ignored under the administration’s new trade

regime, he stressed. Obama urged passage of stalled trade agreements. “Make no mistake — if there are new deals out there to be had, we’re looking at them,” Scuse told the Illinois farmers. The plan proposes $53 million for USDA in 2011 to enhance export promotion activities, with $18 million in total technical assistance funds for specialty crop and other growers — double the current budget. In addition, new funding would help USDA and its offices in 97 countries promote U.S. commodities, Scuse said. The plan would double spending under the Foreign Market Development Programs “cooperator” program, to help producers grow market potential. Scuse acknowledged the administration push to reduce spending under the popular Market Access Program (MAP) by $40 million, but argued the reduction would be “more than offset” by export initiative funding and would better serve producers. “How many trade shows can you have?” he posed, citing MAP’s major emphasis on promotions through international exhibitions.

INSPECTING GADGETS

Steve Hosselton, left, IFB District 14 director from Clay County, and J.C. Pool, IFB District 17 director from Hamilton County, check out some of the new farm technology on display at a trade show at the recent Commodity Classic. The annual event, which many ag companies use to unveil new products and services, drew more than 4,000 people to Anaheim, Calif. (Photo by Daniel Grant)


FarmWeek Page 7 Monday, March 15, 2010

TRADE

Stallman: Cuba policy not way ‘business is done’ BY MARTIN ROSS FarmWeek

As the U.S. looks to capture new international market share, Cuba is low-hanging fruit — a “market right at our back door,” according to American Farm Bureau Federation (AFBF) President Bob Stallman. “There’s no reason we shouldn’t own that market,” Stallman told FarmWeek as Illinois Farm Bureau Leaders to Washington prepared for a Capitol Hill sweep last week. However, federal policies root-

ed in the Cold War have kept Cuban export potential out of U.S. reach. Stallman testified last week before the U.S. House Ag Committee on behalf of proposals to remove existing Cuba travel limits and allow Cuban buyers to operate under what he termed “typical transaction rules” that apply to other trade partners. In 2000, Congress approved the flow of U.S. ag and medical goods into Castro’s Cuba, but the U.S. Treasury Department has imposed stringent “cash-in-

advance” requirements for and necessitated costly use of thirdparty foreign go-betweens in

FarmWeekNow.com To listen to AFBF President Bob Stallman’s comments on the need to change Cuba trade policy, go to FarmWeekNow.com.

Cuban purchases. Because Cuban trade policies may change “at the whim of our government,” Cuba does not view the U.S. as a “reliable supplier,” AFBF trade specialist Chris Garza argued.

“Basically, exporters have to have (Cuban) money in hand before the product ever leaves our ports,” Stallman noted. “That’s not the way commercial business is done. Cuba’s the only country for which the Treasury Department says those rules have to apply. “We also want to remove travel restrictions. We think it’s very important that individuals from this country have the opportunity, if they desire, to go to Cuba. Once again, there are no other countries the U.S. prohibits citizens from traveling to.”

‘Distorted’ trade perspective behind delays in FTA approval? Meeting with Illinois Farm Bureau Leaders to Washington last week, Collinsville Republican U.S. House Energy and Commerce member John Shimkus acknowledged that with rapidly growing farm yields, Illinois producers need access to expanded international markets. Congressional approval of bilateral free trade agreements (FTAs) with Panama, Colombia, and South Korea is crucial to achieving that export growth, Shimkus stressed. He called the Colombia FTA “the best argument for trade” — “it’s all gain for us in this environment of great job loss.” FTA approval in this Congress nonetheless will require “the vast majority of Republican votes and some Democrat votes,” Shimkus maintained. “The obstacles in the House are purely political at this point,” American Farm Bureau Federation (AFBF) trade specialist Chris Garza told FarmWeek. Shimkus maintained key Democrat critics share “a distorted view of what trade does,” tying agreements to “environmental issues and workers rights” in destination markets

rather than foreign import tariff reductions that will spur U.S. export flow. FTA opposition has been fueled heavily by U.S. labor interests amid the perception that “we’ve lost our manufacturing base because of trade,” Shimkus said. In fact, he argued, the cost of exporting under current tariff/tax regimes is a major impediment to sales of manufactured goods. U.S. heavy equipment producers often sell machines for South American use through Canada to remain in the competitive “ballpark,” he related. “If they’re going to build a new Panama Canal, which they’re proposing, what earthmoving equipment will they use?” Shimkus asked. “If we don’t have a Panama trade agreement, it’s not going to be Caterpillar. That would be big, heavy equipment and good paying jobs.” Unions remained concerned about Korean restrictions on imported cars and appliances, and have voiced concerns about Colombian workers’ rights. U.S. Trade Representative Ron Kirk told Senate lawmakers “labor does have a necessary voice and

SIU HONOREES

Illinois Farm Bureau Vice President Rich Guebert Jr. and IFB President Philip Nelson were honored at the recent Southern Illinois University (SIU) All-Ag Banquet for their service to agriculture. A portrait of each leader will be hung in the seminar room in the dean’s office along with pictures of other ag leaders who in the past were similarly honored. Pictured, from left, are Todd Winters, acting dean of the SIU College of Agriculture, Guebert, Nelson, and Gary Minish, former dean of the college. (Photo by Steve Buhman, SIU)

a seat at the table in this administration.” President Obama has stated a goal of doubling U.S. exports, but AFBF President Bob Stallman told FarmWeek “we have yet to see words put into action.” Illinois Farm Bureau President Philip Nelson, chairman of AFBF’s Trade Advisory Committee, noted delays in lawmakers confirming new ag trade and World Trade Organization ambassadors.

At the same time, Nelson reported 600 FTAs currently are in some stage of development worldwide, and “we’re only a part of 25 of them.” Without U.S. movement on FTAs, “we do begin to see what’s left of our market share slipping away,” Garza warned. “Colombia already has (dutyfree) access to our market — it’s ridiculous that we can’t have that kind of access to their market,” Stallman said. — Martin Ross

Supporters have “a very small window of time” this year to convince congressional leaders of the need for Cuban trade liberalization, Garza advised. Last year, the administration allowed U.S. telecommunications companies to expand into Cuba under standard business practices, and he questioned “why agriculture should be any different.” Open travel between the U.S. and Cuba would spur key economic interactions and help the Cuban people see the U.S. “as something more than the enemy the Castro brothers have always characterized us as,” Stallman maintained. The ability to freely conduct business on Cuban ground also would provide the U.S. access to the island’s value-added, tourist-driven markets, Garza said. Further, Garza suggests “exportation” of cash-ready U.S. tourists would inject muchneeded dollars into Cuba. “It’s going to open the door for us to be able to provide them more agricultural product,” he said.


FarmWeek Page 8 Monday, March 15, 2010

AG WEEK Saturday is National Ag Day, and National Ag Week is being observed this week. Following are some of the many ways county Farm Bureau members plan to celebrate the week: UREAU — The Women’s Committee will sponsor an Ag Fair involving approximately 415 fourth grade students, 22 teachers, and 66 volunteers. The day-long event will highlight dairy, wheat, safety, pork, corn, research, conservation, beef, soybeans, embryology, technology, equipment, and large and small animals. UMBERLAND — An open house will be from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Tuesday at the Farm Bureau office. Come check out the remodeling, visit with friends and vendors, or help scrapbook old pictures. • There will be a coloring contest for youth ages 3-11. Pick up sheets at the post offices, banks, or the Farm Bureau office. There will be a photo contest for adults. Enter a 4 x 6 photo taken in Cumberland County within the last three years for your chance to win. For details, call 217-849-3031. • Informational table tents and “Ag in the Eyes of Kids” placemats will be used at restaurants in the county. The placemats were colored by Cumberland Grade School students. EWITT — DeWitt County will be donating Ag in the Classroom materials to all the elementary schools in the county. • The Young Leaders will conduct a Harvest for All food drive from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday at Save-A-Lot and IGA stores in Clinton and Niemann Market in Farmer City. DWARDS — Farm Bureau will sponsor Ag in the Classroom contests for students in kindergarten through fifth grade. Entries will be on display at four local banks. • The Women’s Committee will have a display in a local grocery store. • Farm Bureau will sponsor a “Farmer’s Share of the Food Dollar Breakfast” on Saturday at the Senior Center, Albion. Cost is 25 cents for pancakes and sausage. FFINGHAM — Farm Bureau will sponsor agricultural quizzes on local radio stations. Ag-related multiple choice questions will air Monday through Friday on radio stations WXEF, WKJT, and WCRC. Winners of the quizzes will receive a $25 gift certificate to a local grocery store or gas station. ULTON — The Women’s Committee will present a Baby Bundle of ag-based products to the family of the first baby born during Ag Week at Graham Hospital in Canton. • The Women’s Committee conducted a drawing contest for all fourth grade students in the county with the theme “Agriculture — Everyday in Everyway.” Four entries were chosen to be printed on an ag fact placemat in area restaurants during the week. • The Ag in the Classroom

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Committee gave the book “Soybeans, A to Z” to eight community libraries. • The AITC Committee gave the “Bean Team” educational set and book “Soybeans in the Story of Agriculture” to fourth grade classrooms in the county. • The Young Farmer Committee and board of directors will host the Farmer’s Share Breakfast at 7 a.m. Saturday at the Farm Bureau Building. • The Women’s Committee will present special Ag Week aprons to area high school cafeterias and the Graham Hospital cafeteria. ANCOCK — Hancock County churches received an ag day prayer and National Ag Week information to use in their bulletins. • Merlin Tobias, a local Basco farmer, and Farm Bureau manager Carla Mudd will make Ag Day presentations Monday (today) to second grade classes in the county. Farm Bureau will be donate five new ag-related story books to each of the school’s libraries. • Farm Bureau members and manager Carla Mudd will meet with local legislators Tuesday on Ag Day at the Capitol. • The Carthage Kiwanis Club will sponsor an Ag Day Breakfast at 7 a.m. Wednesday at the Extension Center. • An E85 promotion will be from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. Wednesday at Roger Law’s Service Station, Carthage. Up to 10 gallons of E85 may be purchased for 85 cents per gallon. Free Irish potato soup, Irish crème coffee, and shamrock cookies will be served to customers. The promotion will be sponsored by Hancock County Farm Bureau, WestCentral FS, and Illinois Corn Marketing Board. • Farm Bureau will pass out fortune cookies with an ag-related message from noon to 1 p.m. Friday at the four-way stop in Carthage. ENRY — The Young Leaders Committee will visit county fourth grade classrooms. They will show a video, do a project with the students, and discuss their farming operations. In conjunction with the visits, the “Great American Farm T-Shirt” contest will be held. Fourth graders may submit a poster depicting agriculture in Henry County, and the winning entry will be transferred to T-shirts for all the students and the teacher in the class. • The Women’s Committee will provide church bulletin inserts to area churches. • The Women’s Committee will sponsor a poster contest “Where Does All that Corn Go?” for first, second, and third grade students. • Table tents featuring ag facts will be placed on restaurant tables throughout the county to celebrate Ag Week. • Area businesses will be asked to help celebrate National Ag Week by placing a message on their marquees. • Young Leaders will sponsor a countywide food drive, “Sharing the Harvest,” through March 26.

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Non-perishable food items may be dropped off at the Farm Bureau office or at any Country Financial office in Henry County. Young Leaders will deliver the collected items to food pantries throughout the county. Contact the Farm Bureau for more information. ANE — Farm Bureau will sponsor its 26th annual Ag Days at Mooseheart Fieldhouse Tuesday through Thursday. More than 1,600 fourth graders will hear a series of presentations from area farmers, agribusinesses representatives, and Farm Bureau volunteers on agricultural topics. Farm Bureau members interested in seeing or volunteering for Ag Days may contact the Farm Bureau at 630-584-8660 for additional information. NOX — The Women’s Committee will donate a baby basket filled with agricultural items to the first baby born in Knox County during National Ag Week. The Women’s Committee will provide churches in Knox County with an agricultural prayer to include in their weekly bulletin or newsletter during the week. ASALLE — The Young Leaders Committee will sponsor a coloring contest for fourth grade students. Each participant will receive a Wendy’s kids hamburger meal certificate, and the winner of the contest will receive a “Farming our American Heritage” sweatshirt. • The Membership Committee will work with local businesses that offer a LaSalle County Farm Bureau discount to offer a special Agriculture Week discount. Members should check the last issue of Agri-Source or check the website for participating businesses. • The Legislative Committee is cosponsoring with our adopted legislator, Linda Chapa LaVia (DAurora), an agriculture essay contest for fourth grade teachers and their students in the Aurora area. The winning classroom will receive a free trip to the LaSalle County 4-H and Junior Fair in July. • The Membership Committee will donate agriculture books to libraries in the county. EE — The Public Relations Committee will Sponsor the annual Farmer’s Share Breakfast from 8 to 11 a.m. Saturday at the Loveland Community Building, Dixon. The cost for a sausage and pancake breakfast will be 50 cents per plate, representing the actual income a farmer receives from the breakfast. • The Young Farmer Committee will donating agriculture children’s books to the local libraries. IVINGSTON — The Young Leaders’ Committee will sponsor a “Harvest for All” shopping cart race at 10 a.m. Thursday at the County Market, Pontiac. Bill Fairfield, Livingston County Board chairman, will challenge Pontiac Mayor Bob Russell to a two-minute shopping cart race. The winner’s food will be donated to Livingston County food pantries. A grant from the Illinois Corn Marketing Board is

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helping fund the shopping spree. • The Young Leaders and Marlon Eilts, Country Financial, will promote how agriculture touches a baby’s life every day by providing “Baby Bundles” to the first 25 babies born at OSF St. JamesJohn W. Albrecht Medical Center, Pontiac, during the month of March. Some items each bundle contains are baby powder with corn starch, oatmeal cereal with oatmeal and soy oil, and chicken and turkey baby food. • The Women’s Committee will donate two agricultural-related children’s book to the 20 grade school libraries in the county. • More than 2,500 parishioners will find an agricultural insert in their church bulletins on Sunday. • More than 200 children participated in a poster contest to find a design for a placemat with the theme, “From the Farm to You.” The winning posters were made into 12,500 placemats, and will be used in restaurants during Ag Week. ARION — Farm Bureau will sponsor a 35-cent breakfast from 6 to 9 a.m. Wednesday at the Farm Bureau office, Salem. Tickets are available at the Farm Bureau office or from a director. No carryouts. The Illinois Farm Bureau RFD Network will have a broadcast live during the breakfast. ASON — The board of directors, Young Ag Leaders and Women’s Committee will present an Ag in the Classroom lesson to all the second and third grade students in the county. ASSAC — The Young Farmer’s Committee will be team up with the Massac FFA Chapter to visit local second grade classrooms with special guest Captain Cornelius. Visits are scheduled throughout the week to emphasize the importance of agriculture. ERCER — The Marketing Committee will sponsor an Agriculture Week Ag Trivia contest on local radio station WRMJ-FM with 20 winners being awarded red meat certificates to local grocery stores. • Copies of the coloring book “ABC’s of Agriculture” will be given to each student participating in the school-year-long Agriculture in the Classroom program. ONROE — About 275 agriculture table tents were distributed to area restaurants and businesses in the county. • First grade students will participate in a coloring contest. • High school students in the “Introduction to Agriculture” classes will participate in an essay contest. • Displays will be set up at three local banks asking consumers to identify which products in a basket are made from corn. This project is in cooperation with the Illinois Corn Marketing Board. • Fourth grade students will receive copies of the Corn Ag magazine and Soybean Ag magazine. EORIA — The 10th annual Farmers Share of the Food

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Dollar Breakfast will be from 7 to 10 a.m. Saturday at the Exposition Gardens, Peoria. The cost of 60 cents is based on the farm value of menu items. A display of farm photos and educational exhibits will be featured. “ABC’s of Agriculture” coloring books and Ag Mags will be available for the children. A silent auction to raise funds for the the Peoria County Farm Bureau Foundation will be held. Soybean candles, Soy Smooth hand lotion, and a glass and surface cleaner made from corn will be available for purchase. IATT — Farm Bureau and the Monticello FFA Chapter will sponsor the first annual Piatt County National Ag Day breakfast from 7:30 to 8:15 a.m. Friday at the Monticello Community Building. Guest speakers are Tim Berry from the Piatt County Farm Service Agency office and Robert Reese, meteorologist from WCIA Channel 3. Call the Farm Bureau office at 217-762-2128 for reservations. HELBY — The Young Farmers will host a Farm to City breakfast from 6:30 to 8:30 a.m. Wednesday at the Shelby County 4-H Center, Rt. 128 North, Shelbyville. The cost of the breakfast is 20 cents — the farmer’s share of the food dollar. Call the Farm Bureau office at 217-774-2151 for reservations or more information. ERMILION — Farm Bureau will distribute 32,000 placemats to area restaurants for Ag Week. “The Magic of Agriculture” placemats will focus on the changes in farming practices and the ability of agriculture to meet the food needs of a growing world. The placemat project is sponsored by 19 Vermilion County agribusinesses. ILL — Farm Bureau will be host approximately 1,500 fourth grade students at its 15th annual Ag Expo from Tuesday, March 23, through Thursday, March 25, at the Joliet Junior College Weitendorf Ag Center on Laraway Road in Joliet. All children will be treated to a slice of pizza and small can of pop (containing ingredients from corn) at the end of the program. • The Young Farmers Committee sponsored a coloring contest for all youth ages 3-11. All entries will be on display at the Farm Bureau Hall of Presidents during the latter part of March. Winners of the contest will be chosen on Thursday at the Young Farmers Committee meeting. • Church bulletin materials were mailed out to all county churches. • The Ag in the Classroom Committee will speak to various groups and schools in the county from March to May. • The Young Farmers Committee will sponsor an FFA exchange March 30 with Will County area FFA programs touring ag industries as well as exploring careers in agriculture. • Farm Bureau provided ag science kits to the Peotone FFA Chapter to present to fourth grade classrooms in Peotone.

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FarmWeek Page 9 Monday, March 15, 2010

FROM THE COUNTIES

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U R E A U — A marketing dinner meeting will be at 6:30 p.m. Wednesday, March 24, at the Farm Bureau office. Scott Stoller, Michlig Ag, and Dan Aubry, Consolidated Grain and Barge, will be the speakers. Call the Farm Bureau office for reservations or more information. • The Young Leaders Committee will sponsor a farm labor pool listing for Bureau County residents. The committee has compiled a list of people who are looking for ag-related work. The list is available at the Farm Bureau office. Deadline to sign up for the labor pool is Friday. Call the Farm Bureau office at 815-875-6468 or e-mail jillfrueh.bcfb@comcast.net for more information. ALHOUN — Duane Kolbus, Country Financial certified financial planner, will be the speaker at an estate planning seminar at 10 a.m.

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Friday at the Riverdock Restaurant, Hardin. The event is sponsored by Farm Bureau and Dan Eberlin, Country Financial. Call the Farm Bureau office at 618576-2233 by Thursday for reservations or more information. H A M PA I G N — Kevin Rund, Illinois Farm Bureau senior director of local government, will be the speaker at an “On the Road” seminar at 7 p.m. Wednesday at the Farm Bureau auditorium. Topics will include unified carrier registration, ATV use on public roads, the federal bridge formula, and medical card changes. Call the Farm Bureau office at 217-352-5235 for more information. O O K — Professional income tax preparation from the Illinois Agricultural Auditing Association is available at the Farm Bureau office and Country Financial in Schaumburg and South

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Holland. Call Peggy at the Farm Bureau office at 708354-3276 for an appointment. • The Commodities and Marketing Team will sponsor a “Farming on Your Balcony” seminar at 9 a.m. Saturday, April 10, at the Farm Bureau office. Call the Farm Bureau office at 708-354-3276 for reservations or more information. • The Member Relations Team and the University of Illinois Extension will sponsor a workshop on preparing wills and trusts and transferring non-titled property at 7 p.m. Tuesday, April 13, at the Farm Bureau office. Call the Farm Bureau office at 708354-3276 for reservations or more information. RAWFORD — Kevin Rund, Illinois Farm Bureau, will be the speaker at an “On the Road” meeting at 9 a.m. Thursday, March 25, at the First Christian Church, Oblong. Topics to be dis-

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cussed include unified carrier registration and 80,000 pound roads. Call the Farm Bureau office at 5443792 for reservations or more information. ANKAKEE — Scott Stewart, Kankakee Community College director of horticulture and agriculture programs, will be the speaker at the ag breakfast at 8 a.m. Thursday at the Kankakee County Fairgrounds. Cost is $9. Call the Farm Bureau office at 815-933-8337 for reservations or more information. E R C E R — The Women’s Committee and the Mercer County Health Department will sponsor a free health screening program Wednesday at the First Baptist Church, Aledo. A free breakfast will start at 7 a.m. followed by a variety of health screenings from 7:30 to 10 a.m. Screenings are prostate cancer blood test, oral cancer, blood pressure,

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skin cancer, and a hearing test from 9 to 10 a.m. Free tetanus shots will be given. Call the Farm Bureau office at 309-582-5116 for more information. • The Prime Timers will meet at noon Thursday, March 25, at the Farm Bureau office for a potluck lunch and a presentation about the American Red Cross organization. Call the Farm Bureau office at 582-5116 for reservations or more information. • Rob Huston, AgriVisor LLC, will be the speaker at the spring market outlook meeting at 7 p.m. Thursday, March 25, at the Farm Bureau office. Call the Farm Bureau office at 5825116 for more information. E O R I A — A Viewpoint meeting will be at 8 a.m. Tuesday at the Heritage Bank, Hanna City. Topics will include farm credit and crop spraying regulations. • A Stroke Detection Plus health screening will be from 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Tuesday at the Farm Bureau auditorium. Cost is $90 for four screenings. Call 877-732-8258 for reservations. I A T T — Shannon Carroll and Jake Lieb will present a program on their recent Young Leader Industry trip to Florida at noon Thursday at the Farm Bureau office. Call the Farm Bureau office at 7622128 for reservations or more information. • Brenda Midendorf, Access Illinois Outdoors coordinator, will be the speaker at a meeting at 6 p.m. Tuesday, March 23, at the Farm Bureau office. She will discuss a program that matches private landowners with wildlife and outdoor enthusiasts. Call the Farm Bureau office at 762-2128 for reservations or more information. • The Piatt County Farm Bureau Foundation is taking applications for scholarships. Applicants must be high school seniors or college students majoring in an ag-related field of study. Applications are available at the Farm Bureau office or by e-mailing a request for an electronic copy at piattfb@piattfs.com. Deadline to return applications is at 4 p.m. Friday, April 9.

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


FarmWeek Page 10 Monday, March 15, 2010

PROFITABILITY

Visit to Washington, D.C., an eye-opener BY ROD WELLS

I am not what would be considered a real political animal. In fact, the first time I had been to Washington, D.C., was in late February as a member of the Agricultural Retailers Association. My general Rod Wells perception of the political process prior to the trip was that “things can’t be changed” and “someone else can fight the political fight.”

After spending those few days in Washington, I have come to believe I was wrong on both counts. You see, I always felt that if a person kept his head down and did his job the right way, people would come to respect him and his opinions. As my colleague, Chuck Spencer, would say, I was only part right. In today’s environment, our industry must tell the story of the way we work hard and do the right things. This became even more apparent to me after my week in Washington, where some folks are underinformed or,

worse yet, misinformed. One of the sessions involved the USDA chief economist discussing a study that projected the potential impacts of greenhouse gas regulation on our industry. According to this particular study, the ability to provide offsets by planting trees on farmland could lead to some dramatic changes in land usage. Projections show almost a 30 percent reduction in soybean production and more than a 20 percent reduction in corn production by 2050 under this scenario. As I listened to this mes-

sage, I couldn’t help but think of the numerous presentations I have given, and several articles I have written, discussing the need for increased production to feed a growing world population. Finding a way to double yields by 2030 to feed the world is a huge challenge in itself. How will we double yields and make up for a 20 percent or greater reduction in corn productivity in the U.S.? How could anyone overlook something so basic? It began to come together for me at that moment. If we

don’t step up as individuals to change this type of thinking, who will? I will say that in visiting with the staff of several members of Congress, all of them were eager to hear from those of us with grassroots experience. They listened and agreed with our positions on key issues. But be assured, they also certainly hear from those who would oppose our views. Rod Wells is GROWMARK’s director of agronomy sales and operations. His e-mail address is rwells@growmark.com.

High input costs continue to challenge farmers BY DANIEL GRANT FarmWeek

The price to plant this year’s crops keeps going up for farmers who haven’t locked in their input purchases.

FarmWeekNow.com Visit FarmWeekNow.com to check out the latest reports on crop input prices.

The Illinois Department of Agriculture’s most recent statewide production cost report showed an increase in the price for all seven inputs (anhydrous ammonia, urea, liquid nitrogen 28 percent spread, diammonium phosphate, potash, lime, and diesel fuel) it

tracks each month. The average price of anhydrous ammonia in the state as of March 4 ($527.82 per ton) was up $4.14 from the previous month while the average prices of potash ($484.56 per ton) and liquid nitrogen ($256.12 per ton) inched up $4.32 and $6.61, respectively. Meanwhile, retail gasoline and diesel fuel prices last week surged to new highs for the year. The national average price for regular gasoline was $2.75 per gallon, up 81 cents from last year, while the average diesel price was $2.90 per gallon, up 86 cents from last year, according to the Energy Information Administration (EIA).

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 $34.90-$48.50 $40.72 $60.00-$66.00 $65.50 n/a n/a This Week Last Week 22,533 25,404 *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 $70.74 $69.39 $52.35 $51.35

Change 1.35 1.00

USDA five-state area slaughter cattle price Steers Heifers

This week N/A $91.00

(Thursday’s price) Prv. week Change $90.00 N/A $90.00 1.00

CME feeder cattle index — 600-800 Lbs. This is a composite price of feeder cattle transactions in 27 states. (Prices $ per hundredweight) This week Prev. week Change 102.09 102.08 0.01

Lamb prices Confirmed lamb and sheep sales This week 409 Last week 373 Last year 633 Wooled Slaughter Lambs: Choice and prime 2-3: 90-110 lb., $132. Good and choice 1-2: 60-90 lbs., $150. Slaughter Ewes: Utility and good 1-3: $54-$56. Cull and utility 1-2: $45-$54.

Export inspections (Million bushels)

Week ending Soybeans Wheat Corn 03-04-10 30.9 20.4 34.1 02-25-10 40.5 19.1 42.4 Last year 31.0 14.7 43.9 Season total 1137.9 641 841.4 Previous season total 854.5 792.1 821.8 USDA projected total 1400 825 2000 Crop marketing year began June 1 for wheat and Sept. 1 for corn and soybeans.

“Input costs are still a huge factor that affect profitability,” said Ron Moore, chairman of the Illinois Soybean Association. “Fertilizer prices have come down (from 2008 and 2009 highs) but chemical costs, capital costs, land prices, and cash rents aren’t coming down.” Moore said this year he purchased a tractor that cost three times as much as the one he replaced on his Warren County farm. Fuel prices are expected to remain high for the foreseeable future based on oil prices EIA projected would average $81 per barrel the second half of this year and $84 per barrel in 2011. The average price of gasoline was projected to increase from $2.35 per gallon last year to $2.97 this year. EIA projected fuel prices likely will tip the $3 mark this spring or summer. The price of diesel was projected to average $2.95 per

gallon this year and $3.16 per gallon in 2011. Overall, USDA recently estimated U.S. farmers this year will experience a $700 million increase in production expenses. If realized, production expenses would reach $281.4 billion, which would be the second-highest on record. In light of the pressure

from input costs, Darrin Ihnen, president of the National Corn Growers Association, recently called on lawmakers and regulators to avoid passing new legislation or regulations that would add to the cost of production. “In tight economic times, we can’t stand to add costs,” he said.

Soy research could yield better beans Research projects highlighted last week at the Illinois Soybean Research Forum in Champaign offered hope for farmers not only to increase yields but to produce better beans as well. Lila Vodkin, professor of crop sciences at the University of Illinois, reported more than 12 million gene sequences of soybeans in the post-flowering stage have been profiled and could be used to improve the quality of seeds. “We’re trying to correlate them to traits that are important in seed development,” Vodkin said. The two key traits that could be improved through research are the protein and oil content of soybeans. Meanwhile, advancements in nanotechnology — the study of controlling matter on an atomic or molecular scale — could yield advancements in crop research, human/medical applications, and animal health. In fact, American Soybean Association delegates this month at their annual meeting added support for the science of nanotechnology to their resolutions. Researchers also have mapped the genes of the pesky waterhemp plant in Illinois, according to Bryan Young, weed scientist at Southern Illinois University in Carbondale.

“Now we have the major herbicide target site genes,” he said. “It could lead to a more rapid response to resistance in the future.” Farmers at least for the time being will have to shift their focus from simple glyphosate programs to a broader approach to manage weeds such as waterhemp and marestail that have developed resistance to Roundup and other herbicides. “We have to get back to a (weed management) strategy and not just how many applications of Roundup you use,” Young told farmers. Farmers also should consider management practices such as soil testing and identifying particular types of soybean cyst nematodes (SCN) in fields to better control that pest, according to Terry Niblack, professor at the U of I department of crop sciences. SCN “costs us at least 150 million (bushels) a year in lost soybean yields,” Niblack said. There are different types of SCN and various soy varieties with different levels of resistance to each. Farmers who match resistant varieties to the particular type of SCN in their fields could increase their yields by as much as 15 to 24 percent, according to Niblack. — Daniel Grant


FarmWeek Page 11 Monday, March 15, 2010

PROFITABILITY Corn Strategy

C A S H S T R AT E G I S T

Dollar, index changes ahead At least from a sentimental perspective, the strength in the dollar since the beginning of the year has been a drag on commodity prices, grain prices in particular. The dollar has moved higher with investors moving money out of the Euro because of Greece’s fiscal problems and the difficulty the Europeans were having resolving them. Over the past two to three weeks, they have made headway on the problem, at least

Basis charts

for the foreseeable future. Long term, however, the moves may bring only a temporary resolution to fiscal problems in a few European countries, Greece included. They are likely to surface again. Amid the mix of features, it’s also interesting to note that the Continuous Commodity Index (CCI) put in its semi-annual bottom in early February. From a technical perspective, the rally out of the February low may be the first leg of a correction of the decline into it. There eventually should be another push higher, testing January’s high, before the correction is complete. With a number of key commodities — crude oil and grains in particular — having positive seasonal forces through spring, we’d expect the next move up to occur over the next few weeks. Even with the grain markets still having difficulty recovering from the implications of the January USDA reports, the CCI, and potential for a weaker dollar suggest there should be better marketing opportunities in the weeks ahead. Still, the CCI’s January decline may have set in motion the long-term decline in commodity prices, grains included, that we addressed last week. AgriVisor endorses crop insurance by

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Cents per bu.

 2009 crop: The minor trend has turned softer. However, downside risk should be limited with the 20-week cycle bottoming just last month. If May futures move above $3.89, it would open the door for a test of $3.94-$3.97 resistance. Increase sales to 60 percent if May rallies to $3.92. We may boost sales even more; check the Cash Strategist Hotline frequently. Basis may not improve much until late April/early May when farmers turn their focus to planting.  2010 crop: December futures hit our $4.10 target to make a 20 percent new-crop sale. Given the depth of the break, wait for a move to $4 for catch-up sales. Check the Cash Strategist Hotline daily; we could add to sales at any time. However, we believe there will be more opportunities in March and April.  Fundamentals: T he March supply/demand report offered little surprise. For now, weather and the March 31 USDA reports are the most important features on which traders focus on.

Soybean Strategy 2009 crop: The apparent turn lower in the dollar should help put a floor under soybean prices. T he de pth of this break has turned the larger trend sideways but not lower. We’d still leave orders to sell soybeans if May futures hit $9.90, but would boost sales to 60 percent. Keep in touch, as we want to boost sales even more relatively soon. Check the Cash Strategist Hotline frequently. 2010 crop: Leave an order to make a 20 percent sale if November futures reach $9.49. Check the Cash Strategist Hotline occasionally for changes. Plan to have 50 percent sold by the end of planting.  Fundamentals: This past week, the Chinese soybean cancellation captured traders attention. Traders didn’t respond to talk that some nearby shipments were being shifted to the U.S. because of loading delays in Brazil. Talk of larger production continues

to prevail, but at the same time, there are continued re por ts of scattered crop problems.

Wheat Strategy  2009 crop: The shortterm trend remains negative with prices slipping below the 20 day moving average. Prices still could test the early February low of $4.80, a violation o f w h i ch wo u l d o p e n t h e door to additional weakness. Wait to see if the May contract can recover back to $5.26 to wrap up old-crop sales.

2010 crop: Use a rally to $5.40 on Chicago July futures to make an initial 25 percent sale. Check Cash Strategist Hotline daily as this target could be adjusted at any time.  Fundamentals: The March supply/demand report confirmed supplies are large with U.S. ending stocks pegged at 1 billion bushels. World stocks of 196.8 million metric tons remain large, too. The time when wheat crops around the world become most vulnerable to problems still lies ahead.


FarmWeek Page 12 Monday, March 15, 2010

PERSPECTIVES

Farm Bureau members key to improving state government It’s our pleasure at the League of Women Voters of Illinois to be working with the Illinois Farm Bureau on a citizen initiative — the Illinois Fair Map Amendment — to reform the way we elect members of the Illinois General Assembly. As you all know, our state faces extremely serious problems and issues that our General Assembly has failed to address. Despite this lack of leadership and NANCY responsiveness to the people of IlliMARCUS nois, many members of the General Assembly will be able to guarantee their re-elections for the next decade. They can do this by drawing the districts from which they will run for office for the next 10 years after this year’s census is taken. In the next few weeks, we have the opportunity to place on the November ballot an amendment to our state Constitution that will ensure these districts will be drawn in a fair and bipartisan way that represents the public interest. Newspaper editorial boards across Illinois are writing in favor of the Illinois Fair Map Amendment. Some examples: “If the people don’t act now, Illinois likely will be stuck with a system that almost always ensures victory for incumbents regardless of their record. It’s a system that breeds corruption and prevents accountability ... . Sign the petition. Pass the petition. Today.” Daily Herald “We’re tired of lawmakers choosing their constituents. It’s time for us to choose them.” Southtown Star

“Lawmakers aren’t going to give up power without a fight. There are proposals in the General Assembly that revise the way political maps are drawn. However, we don’t trust anything they might come up with. We think the Fair Map Amendment is the best chance for political reform in Illinois.” Rockford Register “Everyone who’s tired of accepting less from Springfield ought to give this (the Illinois Fair Map Amendment) their support. Of all the refor ms that have been proposed over the last year, we don’t believe any would have as much impact as this one.” Peoria Journal Star “...We’ve been to Springfield, where self-preservation is the first rule of the road. Our bet is on the Illinois Fair Map Amendment. Its backers call it a ‘citizens’ movement to take back Illinois.’ That sounds about right.” Chicago Sun Times I couldn’t say it better. The League of Women Voters of Illinois was an early supporter of amending the Illinois Constitution via citizen initiative and is pleased to be part of the growing list of partners devoting time and resources to ensuring that we garner enough signatures to put the amendment on the November ballot. IFB is among those partners, and we are grateful for its support. But we need the support of its members as well. There are about 80,000 voting Farm Bureau members spread throughout Illinois. If only

half of you downloaded one Fair Map Amendment petition (at www.ilfairmap.com), circulated it and got 10 signatures, we could easily reach our signature goal. If only 20,000 of you did likewise, we’d be halfway to our goal. Lots is riding on our ability to get the nearly 500,000 signatures we need to make sure this measure gets on the November ballot. Farm Bureau has been incredibly generous with its resources, its ideas, and its willingness to make the petition available at its county offices throughout the state. Members of the League of Women Voters of Illinois are returning dozens of signatures each day and repor t that it’s pretty easy to get signatures of registered voters with the simple message, “If you want to help make sure that Illinois voters choose their representatives and not the other way around, then sign this petition.” Please help us to achieve our goal. Your involvement in this project can materially affect the way in which “politics as usual” in Illinois can be transformed to politics “of the people, by the people and for the people.” On behalf of all Illinois Fair Map Amendment initiative partners, thank you. Nancy Marcus is president of League of Women Voters of Illinois. She can be contacted at info@lwvil.org.

Reaching beyond the farm gate Emily Webel shares with the world her stories about life on a livestock farm in Western Illinois. From her computer, she writes insightfully about farming on her blog, “Confessions of a Farm Wife,” found online at {www.webelfamilyfarm.blogspot.com}. “We have a way of life not a lot of people understand — even some of our city friends,” says Emily, the KAY mother of three young daughters, SHIPMAN ages 5, 3, and 8 months. She and her husband, Joe, live on her family’s far mstead in Farmington. Emily’s readers probably can identify with the Webels’ hectic lifestyle even if they don’t live along a gravel road. Emily can identify with her readers who also didn’t grow up on a farm. She jokingly refers to her blog dispatches as “Farming 101.” She explains farming activities in layman’s terms and notes situations that are unique to country life. Her entry on the “farmer wave” (in which even strangers get a salutation) rings true to anyone who has had a rural route address. While Emily demonstrates that farm families aren’t that different than families who make their homes in cities and suburbs, she also shares special heart-felt concerns held by farm wives. “Although far m wives are all different types, most of us speak the same lingo: We wish the planting season would end, but don’t want our husbands to hurry and get hurt,” she writes. “We hope for no breakdowns — mechanical or mental — during trying seasons. We pray for more rain or less, depending on the year.” Along the way, she also reveals the care farmers give their animals and how the entire farm family, even the youngest members, become involved. “On these cold days, Joe is like a good parent to his (cattle) herd, continually checking them, especially the heifers who are nearing their due dates ... My little livestock girls will know so much about the life cycle of our animals.”

She continues on about far ming lore passed down from her father-in-law to her husband and now to her own girls. Sharing such stories makes farming less of a job and more of a way to connect family members, she notes. Emily began putting a face on the average farm family after her experience of commenting online about Michael Pollan’s appearance on Oprah Winfrey’s show. Author and food activist Pollan spoke against government aid to farmers and corn-fed beef production. “I dreaded the show giving farmers a bad reputation for no reason,” Emily remembers. She was surprised by the reaction to her settingthe-record-straight comments. Quite a few were negative, but she also heard from a California grape grower who praised her effort. Emily credits her cousin and McDonough County Farm Bureau manager Sarah Grant with planting the idea for a blog. “I used to be a teacher,” Emily explains. “I have a niche; I like to explain.” Emily launched her blog on Jan. 29. Since then, nearly 480 readers have visited her site. Emily and others like her are using technology to promote agriculture, much as farm wives have done for generations. The Porkettes and Cowbelles passed out samples at grocery stores and fairs. Farm Bureau Women’s Committees educated children and adults about how crops are grown and their many uses. Those earlier efforts involved many face-to-face conversations and only reached people in the immediate vicinity. Today anyone anywhere potentially may be contacted via blogs, Facebook, and other social media — and it can happen around the clock. Agriculture needs thoughtful far m people to explain the reality of farming to consumers whom they may never meet and who may never step onto a farm. Technology offers farm wives, especially those who work off the farm, an opportunity to provide

Emily Webel squeezes in a few minutes to update her blog, “Confessions of a Farm Wife,” about life on a Western Illinois livestock farm. Daughters, left to right, Anna, 5; Amelia, 8 months; and Josie, 3; provide their mom with plenty of material for her writings. (Photo by Joe Webel)

the truth about country life and their husbands’ work. They can share stories about farm family life with a husband who checks calves in the early morning and children who think the moon is magical because it helps calves be born. Kay Shipman is legislative affairs editor for FarmWeek. Her e-mail is kayship@ilfb.org.

FarmWeek March 15 2010 edition  

FarmWeek March 15 2010 edition

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