Page 1

THE TRAGIC OIL SPILL in the Gulf of Mexico so far is having only a minor impact on the price of everything from gasoline to seafood, according to one energy analyst. .......................3

ILLINOISANS HIT BY past floods would be spared the immediate economic hardship of mandatory flood insurance under a proposal by U.S. Rep. Jerry Costello. .............4

FARM SERVICE AGENCY employees across Illinois and their partners are growing community gardens around the state for local charities that feed the poor. ...........8

Monday, May 10, 2010

Two sections Volume 38, No. 19

Ag to share pain in proposed state budget BY KAY SHIPMAN FarmWeek

Agriculture will have its share of funding cuts in the proposed state budget for fiscal year 2011. At 1 a.m. Friday, the Senate passed For the latest on the spring legislative session in Springfield, go to FarmWeek

an operating budget that contained identical ag funding proposals also being considered by the House. A final budget did not pass by FarmWeek presstime Friday. Gov. Pat Quinn must sign any budget before it

would take effect. The Illinois Department of Agriculture (IDOA) was budgeted to receive $21.922 million in general revenue funds, which come from income and sales tax revenue, according to Kevin Semlow, Illinois Farm Bureau director of state legislation. That funding includes a $9.337 million lump-sum payment to be divided among several ag-related programs funded under IDOA’s budget and not in specific budget line items. Part of IDOA’s budget provides funding for such ag-related programs as University of Illinois Extension and Soil and Water Conservation Districts (SWCDs), neither of which are operated by IDOA.

Extension is slated for funding cuts. The state match to county-generated funding was expected to be $10 million, which is down from $12.16 million the previous fiscal year. Separate line-item funding for Cook County Extension was eliminated along with line-item funding for Extension youth educators. Those programs last year had received $4.7 million and $1.7 million, respectively. Line-item funding for SWCDs also was eliminated in the budget proposal. “The lump-sum approach transfers the decision making of which programs to fund or reduce to the governor’s office,” Semlow noted. For a second year, the Illinois Council on Food and Agricultural Research

(C-FAR), Farm Resource Center, AgrAbility Unlimited, Grape and Wine Resources, and the Ag Leadership Foundation were poised to receive no funding. Funding for county fairs also was scheduled for cuts, down to about $3.998 million compared to $6.139 million the previous year. This includes the fair rehabilitation fund — expected to be $1.3 million, down from $2.6 million. The package included an Emergency Budget Act that gives the governor broad powers to implement the budget, including making transfers from the General Revenue Fund, different education funds, and any special fund of the State of Illinois, Semlow said.

Schnitkey: ACRE program is worth a second look BY DANIEL GRANT FarmWeek

Periodicals: Time Valued

Crop producers who did not sign up for the Average Crop Revenue Election (ACRE) program in 2009 may want to take a second look at the program this year. Farm financial projections released by the University of Illinois suggested the ACRE program in 2009 possibly provided a better payout for the majority of Illinois producers than the traditional countercyclical payment program.

The U of I estimated 2009 ACRE payments in Illinois could average $27 per acre for corn and $90 per acre for wheat. The grain-based payments were expected to outweigh the fact that no soybean payments were triggered last year under the ACRE program, based on the most recent projections. “The ACRE (option) on most Illinois farms (in 2009) would have been better than sticking with the traditional program,” said Gary Schnitkey, U of I Extension farm management specialist, who noted ACRE payment levels won’t be finalized until the end of the marketing year. The deadline to enroll farms in ACRE is June 1 for those farms not previously enrolled. Farm Service Agency (FSA) also reminded producers to submit their annual reports of acreage to their local FSA offices to meet FSA program eligibility requirements. Accurate acreage reports are necessary to determine and maintain eligibility for programs such as the direct payment and countercyclical programs, ACRE, the Supplemen-

tal Revenue Assistance Payments program, and the Livestock Forage Disaster program, according to FSA. Looking ahead, the U of I

projected there is a favorable chance the ACRE program this year could trigger payments of $41 per acre for corn and $33 per acre for wheat,

although the probability of a corn payment basically is a coin-toss. The chances of such payments were projected See ACRE, page 2


Randy Benson last week loaded his planter boxes with soybeans in a 55-acre field near Irene in Boone County. This was Benson’s last soybean field to be planted. He already had finished planting his corn crop. He said he is three weeks ahead of last year’s rain-plagued planting schedule. Benson’s area near the Boone-DeKalb county border received an inch of rain Thursday night. (Photo by Ken Kashian)

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FarmWeek Page 2 Monday, May 10, 2010


Quick Takes AG TALK CRUCIAL? — With the U.S. House Ag Committee kicking off 2012 farm bill hearings recently in Des Moines, a Farm Bureau analyst sees Congress jumping into deficit debate nearly as quickly. In an RFD Radio interview last week, American Farm Bureau Federation public policy director Mary Kay Thatcher admitted “we’re not all that happy to have (farm bill discussion) start so soon when we don’t have the last one completely implemented yet.” However, she applauded House Ag Chairman Collin Peterson (DMinn.) for “at least thinking about moving forward.” That could prove crucial with lawmakers expected to get serious about dealing with the deficit following November elections. That likely will produce a budget reconciliation push that demands across-the-board budget cuts — and possibly premature development of ag spending priorities. “It’s probably good we’re starting to think about it,” Thatcher said. She believes ag cuts likely would come from among “three big pots of money”: commodity programs, conservation, or the crop insurance budget. FACEBOOK PAGE GOES LIVE — The Illinois Farm Bureau news and communications division is stepping into the online community with two new social media initiatives. The “Illinois Farm Bureau — News & Issues” page on Facebook has gone live. Followers of the page — “fans“ in Facebook parlance — can get updates on RFD Radio guests and upcoming topics, as well as ag-related news tidbits throughout the day. They also can get links to archived RFD stories and {} posts. Also going live within the next few weeks will be a blog that looks at media perception and coverage of agricultural issues. When a story mischaracterizes agriculture, the blog will be used to offer point-by-point documented information to offer the other side of the story. The goal is to educate both consumers and the media. The address for the blog will be released in the near future. FARMERS’ MARKET TO OPEN — The Illinois Department of Agriculture (IDOA) is bringing back on Thursdays the Illinois Products Farmers’ Market on the Illinois State Fairgrounds, Springfield. In addition to fresh fruits and vegetables, the public may buy a number of other products that are either produced or processed in the state. The market will open Thursday and run every Thursday evening from 4 to 7 p.m. through Oct. 21, except during the Illinois State Fair. It is located in the Commodities Pavilion across the street from the Grandstand. For more information about the market, go online to {}.

(ISSN0197-6680) Vol. 38 No. 19

May 10, 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.

Address subscription and advertising questions to FarmWeek, P.O. Box 2901, Bloomington, IL 61702-2901. Periodicals postage paid at Bloomington, Illinois, and at an additional mailing office. POSTMASTER: Send change of address notices on Form 3579 to FarmWeek, P.O. Box 2901, Bloomington, IL 61702-2901. Farm Bureau members should send change of addresses to their local county Farm Bureau. © 2010 Illinois Agricultural Association

STAFF Editor Dave McClelland ( Legislative Affairs Editor Kay Shipman ( Agricultural Affairs Editor Martin Ross ( Senior Commodities Editor Daniel Grant ( Editorial Assistant Linda Goltz ( Business Production Manager Bob Standard Advertising Sales Manager

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For sweet corn growers

U of I study shows atrazine key tool


Without atrazine, Midwestern sweet corn growers would need to do more tillage or pay more for less effective herbicides to control weeds, according to a new University of Illinois study. Sweet corn growers lack effective weed-control alternatives that are available for other crops, according to Marty Williams, a U of I and USDA Agricultural Research Service ecologist. “There is no Roundup Ready or Liberty Link sweet corn,” Williams told FarmWeek. “There are not many herbicide-tolerant sweet corn cultivars. Nearly all the post-emergence and many pre-emergence (herbicides) recommend mixing with atrazine, and what (alternatives) are available are less effective.” Williams didn’t start out analyzing atrazine’s impact when he collected data on 175 sweet corn fields in Illinois, Wisconsin, and Minnesota from 2005 through 2007. He was seeking production data. The sweet corn fields studied were grown for processing and ranged in size from 30 to 130 acres. But when the latest re-evaluation of atrazine surfaced, Williams said he realized he had production data that would provide “a bigger picture of what it would look like when folks could not use atrazine.” Last November, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) launched a special review and re-evaluation of atrazine. Williams’ study showed sweet corn growers depend on atrazine especially if they have particular weedy fields or grow sweet corn in rotation with other vegetables, such as snap beans or lima beans. More than two-thirds of

the Midwest sweet corn acres are treated with atrazine. Row cultivation also is used on half the acres. Williams was able to study farmers’ use of alternative herbicides and weed-control practices in some Wisconsin areas where atrazine use is prohibited. He learned when growers didn’t use atrazine, they did more cultivation to control weeds. For sweet corn production, the average total cost to manage weeds was about $50 per acre. Where atrazine could be used, it accounted for only 9 percent of that cost, according to Williams. He calculated possible costs if growers switched from atrazine to the broad-spectrum broadleaf herbicide mesotrione. He learned all sweet corn growers — not just those in his

study — would pay an additional $9.2 million for weed control. William’s scenario didn’t take into account those weeds not controlled by mesotrione, but would have been handled by atrazine. His calculations merely replaced one herbicide with another. Williams noted mesotrione manufacturers recommend growers use atrazine to enhance weed control. Williams doesn’t view the results of his study as being either pro- or anti-atrazine, he said. Instead, the study is a snapshot of what would happen if atrazine use were prohibited, he added. “If there is a need for an alternative (herbicide), it will be particularly acute for sweet corn growers,” Williams concluded.

NRDC seeks atrazine ban; Syngenta points to safety The Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) last week called for a phase out of atrazine uses, citing new study data. However, Sygenta countered that the study has no new information and pointed to another study that showed compliance with federal standards for drinking water. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is studying potential health risks related to atrazine. At the end of the review, the agency will determine if it needs to revise its position on atrazine or if current use restrictions are sufficient. NRDC reported that atrazine was detected in all the watersheds monitored by EPA and in 80 percent of drinking water samples. Results from a 2009 monitoring program continued a fouryear trend of annual average levels of atrazine in drinking water not exceeding EPA standards, said Steven Goldsmith, Syngenta senior communications manager. EPA standards are 3 parts per billion (ppb) of finished drinking water. Even shorter one-day and 90-day levels in drinking water also remained below EPA guidelines for that four-year period, Goldsmith added. NRDC claimed atrazine has limited economic value and farmers can substitute safer methods to achieve similar results. However, average yield gains from 1986 to 2005 in university field trials in which atrazine was used were 5.7 bushels per acre compared to alternative herbicides, according to Goldsmith. “In 2003, the EPA estimated that the national economic impact if atrazine were unavailable to growers would be in excess of $2 billion per year,” Goldsmith said. — Kay Shipman

ACRE Continued from page 1 at 51 percent for corn and 66 percent for wheat (see graph). However, the U of I estimated there is just a 36 percent chance of an ACRE payment for soybeans in 2010. If there is an ACRE soybean payment for 2010, it was projected to average $14 per acre. “I know people view (ACRE) as a complex program,” Schnitkey added. “But it will provide more downside risk protection than traditional programs.” Just 8 percent of crop pro-

ducers and 13 percent of eligible acres nationwide were enrolled in ACRE last year. More information about the

ACRE programand a “2009 ACRE Payment Estimator” are available online at {}.

FarmWeek Page 3 Monday, May 10, 2010


Oil spill has little impact (so far) on commodity markets BY DANIEL GRANT FarmWeek

The oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico, which reportedly was leaking 200,000 gallons per day as of last week, certainly is an environmental disaster. But, when it comes to the commodity markets, the situation last week was described as “minor” in terms of its impact on the price of everything from gasoline to seafood. “It’s a huge environmental disaster,” said Harry Cooney, GROWMARK energy analyst. “But having one oil rig offline is minor in terms of the supply and demand picture” for oil, he said. The national average price of gasoline and diesel fuel last week edged up by about a nickel per gallon to $2.89 and $3.12, respectively. The current disaster is having

much less of an impact on the fuel market than one of the last major disasters in the Gulf of Mexico — Hurricane Katrina in 2005 — when devastation to numerous oil rigs and supply disruptions caused U.S. gasoline prices to spike from $2.50 to as much as $6 per gallon in some areas. “The market (last week) actually started to crumble as a result of the rally in the dollar and the stock market coming down due to all the (financial) problems in Europe,” Cooney said. The situation could change if shipments to the Louisiana Offshore Oil Port (LOOP) are disrupted by the oil slick. About 11 percent of U.S. oil imports enter the U.S. via the LOOP. Otherwise, “if the market continues to fall, we may look at it as a buying opportunity for fall needs of gasoline and diesel

Could Gulf oil spill affect Midwest weather? The oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico in a worst-case scenario could hit home for Illinois residents. Some weather experts believe the growing oil slick has the potential to reduce evaporation of surface water in the Gulf. Summer rain events in Illinois and other parts of the Midwest often originate in the Gulf and draw moisture from it, according to Jim Angel, state climatologist with the Illinois State Water Survey. “Here in Illinois the main connection we have with the Gulf is it brings in a lot of moisture,” particularly during the growing season, Angel said. “So we’re not on the sidelines on this issue.” Angel told FarmWeek researchers in the 1950s, ’60s, and ’70s as part of water preservation experiments in the state placed a film, such as that from vegetable oil, on water to see if it reduced the rate of evaporation. Preliminary evidence from the experiments, which were on a much smaller scale than the current oil slick in the Gulf, suggested evaporation was reduced when there was a film on top of the water. “So (the oil slick) might have an impact on hurricane activity (in the Gulf) and rainshowers we get in the Midwest,” Angel said. “But right now we’re unsure” what effect, if any, the oil spill will have on U.S. weather. Joe Bastardi, {} hurricane expert, said the actual effects of a hurricane on the oil slick are a wild card. On one hand, rough seas could disrupt containment operations and strong winds could push existing surface oil to the Gulf Coast. But, on the other hand, rough seas and heavy rain actually could assist with breaking up the oil slick. In Illinois, there should be no shortage of rainfall any time soon. The forecast for the next two weeks called for above average precipitation, Angel added. — Daniel Grant

fuel,” Cooney said. Meanwhile, there were no reports as of last week of interruptions in grain shipments moving through the Gulf. However, the situation could change if the oil slick moves into the mouth of the Mississippi River, said Darrel Good, University of Illinois ag economist. “If that happens, there will be interruptions,” Good said. “That would cause a temporary weakness in cash (grain) bids.” Overall, Good predicted crop prices near-term could remain in a “tug-of-war” as strong demand is being tempered by predictions of high yields due to the favorable start to the growing season. Elsewhere, Americans are expected to see minimal changes to seafood prices despite the fact the National Oceanic and

Atmospheric Administration last week restricted fishing in federal waters most affected by

the BP oil spill. The U.S. imports about 83 percent of its seafood.

Spill may upset D.C. policy house of cards BY MARTIN ROSS FarmWeek

Amid partisan feuding and deal making and bids to tie energy security to climate policy, the spill in the Gulf may topple a carefully engineered house of cards on Capitol Hill. That’s a potentially doubleedged sword, according to American Farm Bureau policy specialist Rick Krause, who believes the ongoing BP drama will at least temporarily put the kibosh on new offshore drilling proposals backed recently by President Obama. Support for drilling is seen as crucial to garnering Republican support for a combination energy-climate bill ostensibly including a greenhouse gas reductions plan from Sens. John Kerry (DMass.), Joseph Lieberman (IConn.), and Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.). Their supposedly toned-down substitute for failed House cap-and-trade measures nonetheless is feared to pose serious economic consequences. April introduction of the Ker-

ry-Lieberman-Graham bill was postponed after Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nevada) announced plans to push immigration debate ahead of climate deliberations on the election-year congressional calendar. Graham argued Reid’s move would destroy any chance of 2010 approval of a climate measure, and Lieberman affirmed last week the climate plan would be introduced without the key Republican. Further, compromise proposals to expand drilling would “seem to be” dead or dying amid public outcry over the Gulf oil spill, Krause said. “Harry Reid thinks (the spill) could spur some action, because people will think we need to do something about energy,” he said. “I’m of the opposite view. It just makes it a lot more complicated to get anything done. A lot of people who don’t like offshore drilling but who reluctantly went along for the climate bill are pushing way back.” He noted time is running

short this session, and argued immigration debate would eclipse any other large measure. Further, Krause expects the Gulf spill itself to spur extended hearings on existing offshore activity. Rep. Jerry Costello, a Belleville Democrat, favors an “all-of-the-above” energy approach that promotes coal, nuclear power, and, “on a limited basis,” offshore drilling. While the Gulf spill “refocuses the issue of offshore drilling,” he sees the possibility of support for allowing drilling under stricter safeguards and clear liability provisions. “Companies that have oil spills have limited liability from the standpoint of cleanup and so on,” he told FarmWeek. “If we’re going to drill offshore, we have to increase the responsibility of the companies that will be doing the drilling, as opposed to putting it on taxpayers’ backs.”

Rural Development seeking applicants for renewable energy project funds Farmers and businesses may apply to USDA Rural Development for renewable energy project funding. The application deadline is June 30 for grants and loan guarantees through the Rural Energy for America Program (REAP). Last year, 88 Illinois farmers and small business owners received grants and loans for renewable energy and energy efficiency projects through the program. “The Rural Energy for America Program helps to cut energy costs for agriculture and small business operations and supports the development and use of renewable energy systems,” said Colleen Callahan, Illinois state director

for Rural Development. REAP provides money for farmers and rural small businesses to buy and install renewable energy systems or improve energy efficiency. Eligible projects include those that use wind, solar, geothermal, biomass, as well as anaerobic digesters. Funding also may be used to buy energy-efficient equipment, add insulation, and improve heating and cooling systems. In 2009, Illinois’ Wayne-White Counties Electric Cooperative received a grant to install a geothermal heating and cooling system for the cooperative’s office building. The new system is expected to replace 74 percent of the co-op’s energy usage.

Also last year, 83 farmers used the funding to upgrade their grain drying systems to more energy-efficient ones. More information on Rural Development in Illinois is available online at {}. In addition to REAP, USDA also is planning to accept applications for three other renewable energy programs: the Biorefinery Assistance Program, Repowering Assistance Program and the Bioenergy Program for Advanced Biofuels. Details about applications for those programs are in the May 6, 2010, Federal Register. The Biorefinery Assistance Program provides guaranteed loans to develop and

construct commercial-scale biorefineries or to retrofit existing facilities using eligible technology for advanced biofuels. The Repowering Assistance Program is designed to encourage the use of renewable biomass to replace fossil fuels that provide heat or power for the operation of biorefineries in existence on June 18, 2008 — the date the 2008 farm bill was enacted. The Bioenergy Program for Advanced Biofuels supports production of advanced biofuels by providing payments to eligible advanced biofuel producers. Eligible biofuels are those derived from renewable biomass other than corn kernel starch.

FarmWeek Page 4 Monday, May 10, 2010


Economist: Putting all blame on biofuels ‘unfair’ BY MARTIN ROSS FarmWeek

Increased use of feed grains for biofuels was merely one component in a complex series of events leading to current challenges in the livestock industry, a pair of ag economists told FarmWeek. The American Meat Institute has joined several major livestock/poultry groups seeking an end to the ethanol blenders tax credit and an accompanying import tariff on foreign ethanol. The combination of the two “has distorted the corn market, increased the cost of feeding animals, and squeezed production margins,” the groups maintained. Further, livestock interests have cited ethanol policy as

playing a key role in anticipated higher consumer meat prices this summer. American Farm Bureau Federation livestock economist John Anderson believes the current livestock/meat outlook represents “the delayed effects of cutbacks in production that really started last year and even back in 2008.” “What we’re seeing now is kind of the culmination of events that have really been playing out over the last year or two,” he said. “These livestock industries have to deal with very long production lags, and so what we have now is reduced production as a consequence of decisions that were made over many months. Those decisions were driven by a lot of factors.

Cross-industry interests seek firm ethanol policy What do a Ford Motor Co. executive, a VP with meat megaproducer Tyson, biomass biofuels developers, and a tech troubleshooter for the oil refining industry have in common? An avid interest and a strong economic stake in future biofuels growth and policy. During last week’s international biotechnology conference in Chicago, Susan Cischke, Ford vice president for sustainability and environment, affirmed her company’s pledge to double “flex-fuel” vehicle (FFV) offerings by year’s end. Ford remains committed to making half its vehicles capable of running on 85 percent ethanol (E85) by 2012, “provided incentives continue to encourage manufacturing, distribution, and availability of the renewable fuel,” she said. Because “we don’t charge customers for that flexibility,” Ford’s FFV investment costs “tens of millions of dollars annually,” Cischke argued. John McCarthy, CEO of Massachusetts-based cellulosic ethanol technology provider Qteros, believes “the trends are all in place for broad biomass fuel and chemical production,” but stressed development will require “aggressive and consistent energy policy that transcends any administration.” Graham Ellis, whose Honeywell subsidiary UOP is developing advanced biomass “green” diesel, jet fuel, and “gasoline,” deems “legislative stability” crucial to biofuels investment. Ellis decries annual congressional review of the ethanol blenders tax credit], which is set to expire Dec. 31. Rep. John Shimkus, a Collinsville Republican, seeks a five-year extension of the 45-cent-per-gallon credit. “If you keep changing (policy) each year, you can’t make an investment plan,” Ellis warned. Corn-based ethanol is not all that’s at stake. The federal renewable fuels standard calls for 36 billion gallons of biofuels use by 2022, including 21 billion gallons of cellulosic and other “advanced biofuels.” Such fuels are emerging on several fronts. Tyson has partnered with ConocoPhillips to tap fats from its multi-species operations to produce and blend “renewable diesel” and hopes to kick off its own fat-to-diesel plant by fall. Qteros has interested BP Ventures, Valero Energy, and others in its singleorganism biomass-to-fuel technology. Beyond E85, Ford plans to unveil a power stroke diesel engine enabling 20 percent biodiesel use in “super-duty” pickups. Cischke, meanwhile, sees the benefits of expanding the 10 percent ethanol “blend wall” for conventional vehicles: Ford has helped guide the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency in considering proposed “E15” use. Because ethanol has an octane (fuel oxygen) rating greater than gasoline, higher-level blends should improve engine performance and “enable consumers to drive further on a tank of gas,” Cischke said. — Martin Ross

“Certainly, the high feed prices we had in 2008 were a component of what we see now, particularly in the cattle business. But I do think it’s unfair to tie all of that to ethanol policy. There were a lot of things going on in 2008 that pushed feed prices higher.” Purdue University ag economist Chris Hurt acknowledged “a very rapid increase” in ethanol corn use during the 2006-08 period. That may have been a more sudden consumption burst “than producers were able to respond to,” Hurt said. However, the industry also was seeing world grain stocks tighten severely, with successive wheat crop failures in the Northern and Southern Hemispheres “that put all grain markets on edge,” Anderson said. He noted feed grain demand rose on various fronts

— Asian market growth, compensation for wheat shortfalls — and “not just (in) the bioenergy sector.” In 2009, “the other shoe dropped,” as the ripples of the financial crisis and subsequent global recession caused a weakening in consumer demand and “another serious negative shock to profitability in the livestock sector,” Anderson related. That spurred a production pullback across all livestock sectors. “You can’t put the recession on biofuels policy,” Hurt held. Beyond continued crop yield advances, Hurt sees feed pressures being relieved longterm by reduced wheat acreages shifting to corn and productive land continuing to come out of the Conservation Reserve Program (CRP). This fall, 4.5 million acres in CRP contracts will expire; another 4.4 million acres of

contracts are to expire in September 2011. At the same time, Anderson sees distillers dried grains (DDGs) produced as part of ethanol production continuing to replace a significant volume of feed corn. Producers “continue to get better at using it as we know more about it,” the economist said. And the rate of increase in corn consumption for biofuels is slowing as the ethanol industry approaches capacity under federal renewable fuels targets, Hurt said. “For the livestock sector, the shock of the doubling of corn prices has taken a long time to work though,” Hurt told FarmWeek. “It’s not been until this year that finally we have animal numbers down low enough to be able to see the livestock industry be able to pay in the mid-$3s for corn.”

Breathing room for communities, business?

Flood insurance moratorium on way to U.S. House floor Illinoisans hit by past floods would not have to feel the immediate economic hardship of mandatory flood insurance under proposals spearheaded by U.S. Rep. Jerry Costello, a Belleville Democrat. The House Financial Services Committee last week passed the Flood Insurance Reform Priorities Act that includes provisions authored by Costello that would prevent mandatory purchase requirements for insurance from taking effect for five years. The bill, now on its way to the full House, would phase in insurance rates over an additional five years.

up to certification levels. Under Costello’s five-year moratorium, mandatory insurance would phase in beginning with the sixth year — property owners behind “decertified” levees initially would not be required to pay full premiums. Beyond immediate relief for area residents, Costello sees the moratorium as an important economic/job preservation measure as his Southwest Illinois “Metro East” region looks ahead to new or expanded commercial development. “No one who has an existing business in the area would want to expand their business or

‘ No one would want to locate a new business in the area if, in fact, there were mandatory insurance.’ — U.S. Rep. Jerry Costello Belleville Democrat

Costello introduced similar measures last July because of concerns about the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) effort to redraw flood maps nationwide. The bill approved by the committee last week requires local jurisdictions to have flood evacuation and outreach/communication plans in place, directs flood insurance availability, and outlines potential consequences of not purchasing insurance. Insurance would be mandatory in areas where local levees are not federally certified as providing adequate protection. Along with remapping, FEMA will review levee certifications. In the wake of 2008 flooding, Costello felt communities, residents, and businesses within the “new floodplain” charted by FEMA should be given time for levee districts to make repairs necessary to bring flood control structures back

build on, and no one would want to locate a new business in the area if, in fact, there were mandatory insurance,” Costello told FarmWeek. “FEMA’s doing the remapping process all over the country, and when I raised the issue by introducing legislation, a number of other (House) members came to me and said, ‘We’re tackling the same problem.’ ” Costello hopes the measure will reach the House floor by the end of June. He anticipates “ample support” for the bill in the Senate. Lawmakers last year formed a Levee Caucus co-chaired by Costello and Rodney Alexander (R-La.) and dedicated to the view that levee districts that are “doing the right thing” should be given incentives to repair levees “without penalizing people with the high cost of insurance.” — Martin Ross

FarmWeek Page 5 Monday, May 10, 2010


Biotech wheat viewed through new economic filter BY MARTIN ROSS FarmWeek

After years of debate, producers, millers, and marketers have largely reached a consensus: Biotech wheat is crucial from economic, humanitarian, and even political viewpoints. Wheat production, milling, and baking industry representatives supported GMO wheat development at a recent global biotech conference in Chicago. Monsanto suspended its Roundup Ready wheat program in 2004 amid concerns about industrywide GMO acceptance, but U.S., Australian, and Canadian wheat groups in 2009 supported

GMO commercialization. “Had we had this discussion 10 years ago, it would have been much different,” U.S. Wheat Board (USWB) member and USWB/National Association of Wheat Growers Joint Biotech Committee Chairman Mark Darrington told FarmWeek. Panelists cited projections that world food production must double by 2050, with wheat as a crucial staple. Noting Russia’s goal of becoming top wheat exporter by 2020, American Bakers Association President Hayden Wands argued U.S. growers can protect their market share by

Ag leaders: FTAs needed to stay in game American Farm Bureau Federation President Bob Stallman last week joined corn, wheat, pork, and beef producers in a plea for Congress to move ahead with long-delayed Panama, Colombia, and South Korean free trade agreements (FTAs). Stallman hailed President Obama’s recent announcement of a sweeping new export initiative, but argued “it’s time to take the words and turn them into reality.” “It’s time to put the politics aside,” he said. National Pork Producers Council immediate past president Don Butler noted the U.S. exported $4.3 billion in pork products last year — the equivalent of $38 in added value per marketed hog. FTAs currently up for approval would add another $11 to per-pig prices by reducing foreign import tariffs that render U.S. product less competitive, he said. “It is clear that without new trade agreements, the United States will be going backward by standing still,” Butler emphasized. “Our industry can’t afford that; our country can’t afford that. “The South Korean trade agreement was the last of the three negotiated, and it was finalized more than three years ago. It’s been sitting on the shelf awaiting congressional action since then. There’s no such thing as ‘time out’ in international trade.” While U.S. producers have been sidelined, South Korea has pursued trade pacts with the European Union (EU), Japan, India, Mexico, Peru, Pakistan, and Russia, as well as with key South American and Asian regional trade groups. U.S. ag exports to Colombia declined by nearly 50 percent from 2008 to 2009, and this year hasn’t started any better. January-February exports to Colombia fell 11 percent below the same period last year, and Mercosur — a bloc comprised of Argentina, Brazil, Paraguay, and Uruguay — “are moving into that market,” Stallman said. Australia currently is working “very diligently” on its own FTA with South Korea, warned Steve Foglesong, a Western Illinois producer and president of the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association. “If they get that done before we do, they’ll have a 2.67 percent tariff advantage over us,” he said. “This 2.67 percent is a big deal: It will give the Australians an advantage whenever (a South Korean) consumer goes to the grocery store. At the end of the day, they decide on price.” An Iowa State University analysis concluded a South Korean accord with the EU without a similar U.S.-Korea FTA would put U.S. pork producers at a major disadvantage — a potential 3 percent loss of market share per year and possible removal from the market within 10 years. Foglesong noted similar annual market losses for U.S. beef if Australia gains a tariff edge. Ag leaders highlighted trade-related job creation — Congress’ current hot-button issue. Each percentage point of U.S. pork industry expansion generates roughly 920 full-time direct and 4,500 “ancillary” jobs, according to Butler. Panama, Colombia, and Korean FTAs cumulatively could create 7,500 pork industry and 37,000 total jobs, he said. Loss of South Korea market share to Europe could cost the pork sector more than 3,600 full-time jobs and the general economy 18,000 jobs, based on Iowa State estimates. — Martin Ross

becoming more “consumerfocused” via nutritionally enhanced GMO wheat varieties.

from which to select grain with prime quality/end user traits. Darrington stressed the

‘For wheat producers to remain profitable, biotech wheat will have to be one of the alternatives.’ — Mark Darrington U.S. Wheat Board

However, advances in wheat production have lagged behind corn and soybean yield growth spurred by biotech developments. North Dakota State University economist Bill Wilson estimates only 70 cents per acre is spent in the U.S. on wheat research each year, compared with $10 invested per acre per year in other row crop breeding and technology. Wilson noted the Corn Belt is “moving northward and westward,” eating into wheat acreages. North American Millers Association Chairman John Miller sees wheat availability as a worry for his industry: Millers have fewer supplies

need to develop “a wheat we can raise economically and reliably.” “2008 demonstrates you can have too little wheat left around the world,” the Idaho producer said. “A stable wheat supply around the world is essential. Now, we have to talk about the sustainability of those who produce wheat, and that brings us to the discussion of biotech. “For wheat producers to remain profitable, biotech wheat will have to be one of the alternatives. That doesn’t mean there will not be nonGMO wheat produced in this country.

“If there’s a customer base willing to pay for non-GMO wheat and keep their growers sustainable, those growers will be growing very loyally for that customer base,” he said. Monsanto’s recent acquisition of Westbred LLC signaled its return to wheat improvement, an effort that also involves Dow, Bayer, Syngenta, BASF, France’s Limagrain (which projects a possible release by 2016), and Australia’s Victoria AgBiosciences. Researchers in the southern state of Victoria are making significant gains toward yield enhancement and drought, disease, and frost tolerance traits. Drought “is on the top of the list for Australian wheat growers,” said German Spangenberg, Victoria Department of Primary Industries biosciences research executive director. In 2006, drought claimed some 70 percent of Victoria’s crop. “We’ve had very significant impact from drought over the last decade, and that’s likely to be further exacerbated under (future) climate change,” Spangenberg told FarmWeek.

EPA approves initial ‘refuge-in-a-bag’ product The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has granted first-time approval for “refuge-in-a-bag” seed aimed at reducing necessary segregated rootworm refuge and streamlining planting of corn borer refuge. EPA signed off on DuPont-Pioneer’s Optimum AcreMax I, a multi-trait product that blends 90 percent Herculex Xtra above/belowground insect-resistant seed with 10 percent non-rootworm-resistant Herculex I seed to provide rootworm refuge in a single planting. EPA requires growers to plant a percentage of corn without specific insect protection traits to serve as a refuge from resistant GMO corn. The new bagged product can be planted over an entire field, reducing traditional 20 percent rootworm refuge by half and eliminating the need for separate rootworm refuge. Rootworm larvae do not travel far, and the integrated bagged refuge is designed to attack rootworm biology on multiple fronts, offering extended product “durability,” Bill Belzer, Pioneer senior corn marketing manager, told FarmWeek. “Today, when growers deploy refuge, they face a lot of challenges and complexity,” Belzer said. “With traditional

triple-stack refuges today, you have to have an (in-field) or adjacent 20 percent set-aside for a non-insect-protected refuge. “There’s opportunity for yield loss (in non-protected corn), and there’s also a lot of planning that’s involved. “I have to match hybrids from a maturity standpoint and an herbicide tolerance standpoint. It also means I’ll probably have to clean my planter units out (between plantings).” FS, Monsanto, and Syngenta seed corn brands are expecting similar bagged refuge

approvals in the near future, according to GROWMARK. This season, AcreMax 1 has been planted over roughly 30,000 acres nationwide. Belzer anticipates a significant expansion of product plantings with full-scale launch in 2011. EPA also has granted registration for Optimum AcreMax RW rootworm products, which integrate 90 percent Herculex RW seed and 10 percent of a hybrid from the same genetic family without biotech insect protection. All seed in the bag is glyphosate herbicide tolerant. — Martin Ross

FarmWeek Page 6 Monday, May 10, 2010

CROPWATCHERS Bernie Walsh, Durand, Winnebago County: We had an excellent week of planting, and to top it off, we were getting a nice rain Friday morning. There is 0.5 of an inch of rain in the gauge so far with more on the way. Corn planting is pretty well finished and soybean planting is between twothirds and three-fourths complete. The corn is all coming up with excellent stands, and some is 3 to 4 inches tall. A few fields of beans are just coming up. The forecast for Sunday morning (May 9) was for very cold temperatures — 30 degrees. By the time you read this we will know if it got that cold. Pete Tekampe, Grayslake, Lake County: It was raining in Lake County Friday morning. We got 0.3 of an inch over last weekend (May 1-2) and they were calling for another inch of rain Friday. It is needed. Most of the corn is planted with much of it up already. About 40 percent of the beans are planted. Another first for me was planting beans in April. Wheat and spring grains are looking good, but dandelions are invading the hay fields, which had looked good. Have a safe planting season. Leroy Getz, Savanna, Carroll County: As I called this report in Friday morning, we were in the middle of a thunderstorm with fairly heavy rain. Rain last Friday (April 30) boosted April’s total to 5.1 inches. Corn planting is almost complete in the area. Emergence looks great with good soil-to-seed contact. Some producers are now done with their soybeans. Rye has been chopped in the area and will now be double-cropped with corn. In scouting hay fields, I am finding some alfalfa weevil on the south-facing slopes. Maybe the cooler temperatures will slow their activity. Hay cutting will begin soon. Growing degree units since April 20 now total 181. Ron Frieders, Waterman, DeKalb County: To all our mothers and wives, we hope they had a happy Mother’s Day! Never can I remember being finished planting corn and beans this early. More than half the corn is up and most looks good. Corn planted in soybean stubble has emerged and is looking nicer than corn on corn. Soybean planting has been at a record pace with close to 75 percent completion. As I wrote this report early Friday morning, it was raining. So far, we had received 0.8 of an inch. The soil didn’t work up as nice as you would like, mainly because of all the cornstalks on top, and we really needed the rain to help with germination. Larry Hummel, Dixon, Lee County: Since last year’s harvest, we have received a wonderful new crop of grandchildren. Three to be exact, two girls and a boy. What a joy! This year’s corn crop is off to a great start. Perfect planting conditions, warm weather, and nice spring showers. As I was driving down the road on Thursday to get to the next soybean field to plant, I was feeling pretty lonely. It was too windy for any sprayers to be out, and the majority of the crops are in, so it was nice to see that there were a couple of farmers besides me still planting. I’m down to the last 50 acres and it is May 7. I guess I won’t let that bother me too much. Ken Reinhardt, Seaton, Mercer County: We got in another two days of fieldwork here before 0.75 of an inch of rain overnight. Total rain the last three weeks is more than 5 inches. I need a couple of days to finish up corn and am half done with soybeans. There were many lost planting days because of some mechanical problems we had. More than three-fourths of the corn is up and could get nipped by frost over the weekend (May 8-9).

Ron Moore, Roseville, Warren County: We received 0.7 of an inch of rain last weekend (May 1-2). We started planting soybeans again on May 4. On May 6, we received 1 inch of rain overnight and it was still raining Friday with rain forecast for all day. Most of the corn is planted in this area. About 50 percent has emerged. Stand counts are good for the corn crop. Soybean planting is just getting a good start. I did see one field of beans up. We have two days of beans left to plant and then it is on to mowing hay. Pasture conditions are normal for this time of year. Tim Green, Wyoming, Stark County: Pretty decent week. Friday morning we had a good rain with thunder and lightning. Some probably appreciated that as those who no-till beans were finding the ground to be very hard and were concerned about getting the beans deep enough. Bean planting around here is probably close to half finished. Corn is virtually done, probably in the 90 percent range. Emergence looks pretty good. Temperatures have slowed growth lately. No diseases or any big problems yet. Mark Kerber, Chatsworth, Livingston County: Most of the corn is up and the soybeans are getting planted. Last year at this time we hadn’t even started planting. Last week’s 0.5 of an inch of rain really kept the ground wet, especially the no-till stalks. It just doesn’t dry underneath the shucks and the crop residue. We are all planting anyway. Since very little NH3 was applied last fall, sidedressing 28 percent will be very popular — reserve your applicator now. Market advisers tell us that this early-planted corn crop could add 5 bushels to the national average, putting carryout above 2 billion bushels. Should we be selling new crop at these levels? Ron Haase, Gilman, Iroquois County: It rained Thursday night, bringing field activities to a halt, although the most rain I found in any gauge was 0.05 of an inch. There was a 50 percent chance of rain Friday afternoon. We finished planting corn on May 1. Corn development is anywhere from about to emerge up to the V-2 growth stage. The last planted corn is taking about 10 days to emerge. Last year, corn planting was just beginning at this time while this year farmers are planting soybeans. Some have finished planting soybeans, too. We finished our herbicide application on our cornfields Thursday. Some farmers have been burning corn shucks that were blown into unwanted areas by the strong winds. Sidedressing of nitrogen is about to become a major activity in the area. The local closing prices for May 6 were: nearby corn, $3.46; new-crop corn, $3.48; nearby soybeans, $9.35; new-crop soybeans, $8.87. Brian Schaumburg, Chenoa, McLean County: Spring certainly hit the ground running with 277 growing degree units, very similar to 2006 and 2007. Corn is 98 percent and beans 60 percent complete. Emergence was helped by 0.5 of an inch of rain on May 2 leaving many hoping for more. Crop rating is excellent. Mother’s Day was celebrated with the realization that no more tuition checks will be going to U of I! Congrats to Joel and all the grads. Corn, $3.48; fall, $3.42; soybeans, $9.26; fall, $8.86; wheat, $4.18. Steve Ayers, Champaign, Champaign County: The textbook planting season continues. We had 0.8 of an inch of rain last weekend (May 1-2) so corn is growing well. We have a chance of rain several days this week with a chance of frost predicted for Sunday (May 9). Corn planting is done with bean drilling in full swing. State climatologist Jim Angel released April statistics that explain the record planting pace. (See story page 7) Let’s be careful out there.

Wilfred Dittmer, Quincy, Adams County: Hello again from our little corner of the state where we awoke to thunder and showers Friday morning, so the machinery will be parked again after it was just getting dry enough to get started. My gauge collected about 0.35 of an inch of rain over last Saturday and Sunday (May 1-2). Not a lot of rain, but early corn is having trouble emerging. Planters will probably be heading back to some fields. I don’t know of any beans being planted nearby yet. Who said it was going to be a normal year after getting such a good and early start? And yes, we also have the pesky little gnats again. Carrie Winkelmann, Menard County: Corn is at V-3 and looking good. After a wet weekend (May 1-2), 1.02 inches of rain, we finally got back to spraying corn on May 4. Ninety percent of corn herbicide was applied as of May 7. Soybean planting started full force May 6 in our area. We have yet to plant a single soybean on our farm, but should have started Saturday (May 8), weather permitting. We are on the lookout for corn rootworm, but no insect pressure has been found yet. Todd Easton, Charleston, Coles County: A line from a popular song goes “the waiting is the hardest part” and for farmers in the area that is especially true this spring. A highly varied amount of rainfall hit the area during the weekend (May 1-2), but because of good drying weather and anxiety to get some work done, sprayers once again hit the field on Tuesday followed by planters and toolbars on Wednesday. Some of the motivation seems to come from the weatherman who keeps saying more rain is around the corner. With corn planting a fond memory for virtually everyone, soybean planting has hit its stride. My best guess is bean planting is 10 to 20 percent completed. The handful of bean fields planted ahead of the rains two weeks ago have emerged and are looking good. In the cornfields, rows of green are easy to see, but with the cooler weather the crop has not shown much change from last week. That has not stopped several sidedress applicators, including myself, from going over several fields. Surprisingly, the job can be done in 2inch-tall corn with no problem. Jimmy Ayers, Rochester, Sangamon County: This past week we received 0.3 of an inch of rain. Rain amounts varied. The majority of the corn is pretty well planted. A considerable amount of beans went in this past week. Several cornfields have spotty stand but some look pretty decent. We spent most of last week in Washington, D.C., with 26,000 directors and managers from across the nation from rural electric co-ops trying to provide fair and affordable electricity to rural America. Hopefully, you have a bit of a marketing plan put together and are ready to pull the trigger when things happen in the market. Doug Uphoff, Shelbyville, Shelby County: Corn is all planted and most of it is up, but there is still corn to be planted south of here and some will have to be replanted. We have 30 acres that is questionable. A lot of soybeans were planted in the county last week with terrible soil and field conditions being reported. Not much different than the corn. The soil did not work well then either, but we have a good stand on most fields considering the spring-applied anhydrous and the clods we planted into. We applied Harness Extra on corn and are waiting for warmer soil to plant beans. Grain prices: cash corn, $3.48; Decatur direct, $3.68; fall corn, $3.48; Decatur, $3.65; January corn, $3.60; Decatur, $3.82; cash beans, $9.29; Decatur, $9.54; fall beans, $8.91; Decatur, $9.14; January beans, $9.01; Decatur, $9.35. Decatur bids are a direct price with no trucking charge taken off of the bid. Fuel prices: farm soy diesel, $2.54; farm diesel, no soy, $2.63; road soy diesel, $3; road diesel, no soy, $3.10; gasohol, $2.77. Be careful out there!

Page 7 Monday, May 10, 2010 FarmWeek

CROPWATCHERS David Schaal, St. Peter, Fayette County: There was not a lot of field progress since last report. I received 1.8 inches of rain in the last week. Some farmers got in Thursday and Friday and started sidedressing corn. Some corn spraying also is occurring. Ground is getting close to being dry enough to go to beans, but the weather forecast was not good. Corn stands for the most part are pretty good, but there are producers thinking of replanting a field or two that were planted right before the rain. Hope the forecast was wrong so we can progress with soybean planting. Have a safe and prosperous week. Ted Kuebrich, Jerseyville, Jersey County: Late Monday afternoon (May 3) the skies turned dark, then part of the sky turned reddish orange, and then came the hail. There was a line of hail from Rosedale east to the east side of Jersey County. The size of the hail went from pea size to larger than golf ball size. The large hail cut a lot of corn off. Hopefully, the plants will grow out of it. The southern side of Jersey County received more rain and farmers were unable to get in the fields the first of last week. The rest of the county went back to planting beans. We had about 0.6 of an inch of rain at the farm. The early-planted corn looks good. Prices at Jersey County Grain, Hardin: May 2010, corn, $3.61; harvest delivery corn, $3.47; May 2010 beans, $9.28; harvest delivery beans, $8.96; July wheat, $4.54.

Reports received Friday morning. Expanded crop and weather information available at

Dan Meinhart, Montrose, Jasper County: No fieldwork has been done the last two weeks. About half of the corn has been planted. There has been only about four days suitable for applying fertilizer and planting this spring. Farmers are reporting they will have to replant somewhere between half and all of the corn they planted before the rains. Rainfall the last two weeks amounted to 4.5 to 5 inches and more in some places. This area covers several counties in Southeastern Illinois. Very little wheat was planted in this area last fall, but the fields that were are beginning to head out. Farmers are busy hauling grain and repairing equipment while they wait for weather conditions to improve so they can return to fieldwork. More rain was in the forecast for the weekend and next week. Bob Biehl, Belleville, St. Clair County: About an inch of rain fell on May 1 and on May 3 some areas received another half inch to an inch. There also were many reports on May 3 of some thumbnail-size hail. Corn planting was being wrapped up in our area late last week with just a small percentage probably left to plant after Friday. Bean planting has been very isolated, but many are getting fields sprayed and ready to go. Also, many are waiting for a later date on the calendar and hoping that the threat of thunderstorms subsides. Kevin Raber, Browns, Wabash County: Heavy rains have slowed field activities. There were a few people working ground and spraying fields Thursday, but fields need another day or two to dry. I will have some corn to replant in the creek bottoms, but it looks like most of my low spots will have good enough stands to leave alone.

Dean Shields, Murphysboro, Jackson County: This past week we received 2.5 to 4 inches of rain and it has brought all fieldwork to a halt. Things are drying out, and if we didn’t get any rain over the weekend, we should be able to get back in the field early this week. What corn we got planted before the rain started, which is quite a bit, looks pretty decent yet. Not too many wet holes. Most everybody has been catching up on little stuff around the shop to get ready to go here with planting. Some fellows planted a few beans, which are struggling to get out of the ground. The wheat acres were low because of the wet fall we had. The wheat fields I see are growing and coming along alright. We’ll see how they do, but the acreage, in Jackson County at least, seems to be down quite a bit because of the wet fall. We are all sitting here waiting for it to dry up so we can hit it hard again and get some beans and corn planted. Everybody have a safe planting season. Ken Taake, Ullin, Pulaski County: We had another wet weekend (May 1-2). We had anywhere from 3.5 to 5 inches of rain across the county. We were fortunate in that we were on the light end, but we got more than we needed. There was no planting last week. The corn we planted looks pretty spotty. With all the rain over the past two weekends, emergence has not been very good. There are quite a few drowned out spots. That leaves us with 50 acres of corn to plant, and we haven’t planted any soybeans. We did manage to start sidedressing corn on Thursday. That is progressing pretty well. Please be careful and have a safe week.

Showers slow planting activity; more rain possible this week Watch emerged corn for cutworms BY KEVIN BLACK Emerged corn should be scouted for cutworm activity regularly over the next several weeks. Cutworm feeding has been detected in Southern Illinois corn near St. Louis and has also been reported in Kentucky south of Paducah. Any time strong southerly airflow occurs, particularly associated with storm fronts, black cutworm moths (and others, such as armyworm moths) can ride those weather systems into the area. Apparently, black cutworm moths arrived in Southwest Illinois with some of the earliest of our unseasonably warm weather in late KEVIN BLACK March and early April. Their offspring are now showing up in corn. These small larvae will not permanently damage the corn, but their feeding activity is likely just the first of much more to come. Areas at highest risk from black cutworm damage this year will be those in which heavy weed growth was present and was burned down with herbicide or tilled down immediately ahead of corn planting. Some of the early feeding has been noted in areas of fields that had earlier been wet and supported winter annual weed growth. Much of the predicted cutworm activity will occur between mid- and late May. Also, because of the recent and continuing weather pattern, we probably will continue to see new cutworm moths move into the area. This means that cutworm feeding will stretch out for the next four to six weeks. The good news is that fields that were free of weeds (planted to corn or tilled) when the cutworm moths arrived are less likely to host cutworms now and in the near future.

Kevin Black is GROWMARK’s insect and plant disease technical manager. His e-mail address is

BY DANIEL GRANT FarmWeek Rain that moved into Illinois late last week put the brakes on what so far has been the quickest planting season in the past decade. Corn planting in the state as of the first of last week was 87 percent complete compared to just 5 percent at the same time last year and the fiveyear average of 47 percent, according to the National Agricultural Statistics Service Illinois field office. Many farmers last week were done or wrapping up corn planting and had planted a large portion of their soybeans. Soybean planting as of the first of last week was 11 percent complete compared to the average of 4 percent. “Soybean planting has been at a record pace,” said Ron Frieders, a FarmWeek Cropwatcher from DeKalb County, who estimated soybean planting on Friday was 75 percent complete in his area. Planting progressed quickly this season due to favorable weather conditions. The average temperature in the state for April was 58.4 To view Cropwatchers reports d e g r e e s , 6 . 2 o n l i n e , g o t o F a r m W e - degrees above, click on the “News” normal, while the average premenu and select Cropwatchers. cipitation (3.5 inches) was 0.3 of an inch below normal, according to the Illinois State Water Survey (ISWS). “We ended up with the warmest April on record,” said Jim Angel, state climatologist with ISWS. “A couple of times we were well above normal.”

Temperatures that spiked in the high 70s to mid-80s in the middle of last month were well above the normal average temperature of 63 degrees, Angel reported. The furious pace of fieldwork could be slowed, though, as the forecast the next two weeks called for a chance of above-normal precipitation.

‘It may not be as favorable planting conditions for soybeans as it was for corn.’ — Jim Angel state climatologist

“It may not be as favorable planting conditions for soybeans as it was for corn,” Angel said. Meanwhile, farmers were encouraged to begin scouting cornfields that had emerged and make plans for post-emergence herbicide applications to control a broad spectrum of weeds. Black cutworm activity in recent weeks was reported in portions of Central and Southern Illinois, and some farmers applied pesticide to reduce leaf feeding injury to corn, according to the University of Illinois Pest Management and Crop Development Bulletin. As for weed control, crops and weeds can coexist for a time without resulting in yield loss, according to Aaron Hager, U of I Extension weed specialist. However, many weed scientists suggest farmers apply post-emergence herbicides before weeds exceed 2 to 3 inches in height, he added.

FarmWeek Page 8 Monday, May 10, 2010


Growing solution: FSA, partners raising community gardens BY KAY SHIPMAN FarmWeek

Farm Service Agency (FSA) employees across Illinois and their local partners are growing 53 community gardens around the state to provide produce for local charities that feed the poor. Last week, state FSA staff

and their partners planted a 150-by-150-foot garden near the Illinois Feed and Grain Association office in Springfield. “Our goal is to provide as much healthy raw vegetables as possible to those in need,” said Charles “Chad” Chadwell, an FSA executive officer who is serving as the point person for the community garden projects. In Illinois, FSA boasts nearly twice as many community gardens as any other state, according to Scherrie Giamanco, Illinois FSA executive director. U.S. Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack and FSA Administrator Jonathon Coppess have encouraged all FSA offices to plant gardens to help the needy. Giamanco explained some FSA offices planted and will care for more than one garden. With help from local partners, most gardens were planted near county USDA Service Centers when possible. Other gardens were located on available plots within the same communities. Most are

vegetable gardens; however, some were planted with flowers as pollinator gardens. In Illinois, the participating counties are scattered across the state (See accompanying map). Some counties have planted more than one garden. Garden locations and other details are posted online at {}. Giamanco praised the other agencies, groups, businesses, and volunteers who are working with FSA. Many have donated equipment, plants, and services for the projects. “It’s (the project) not just one person or one organization. We are grateful to our partners,” Giamanco said. Still FSA employees would welcome help from additional volunteers, including 4-H and FFA members, Giamanco added. “Everybody is getting into it (the garden),” Chadwell said of his fellow FSA employees. “We like to do good.”

Illinois Farm Service Agency (FSA) employees and volunteer partners last week planted their community garden to grow vegetables for a Springfield food pantry. Illinois FSA leads other state FSA offices with 53 community gardens around the state. (Photo courtesy Illinois FSA)


More than 40 representatives from fire, rescue, and emergency medical service providers in Bureau, Henry, and Stark counties participated in a recent Surrounding Area Farm Emergency (SAFE) course. The Illinois Fire Service Institute provided the instructors. The training session at the Kewanee Fire Department was offered in cooperation with the county Farm Bureaus, Illinois Farm Bureau, and Country Financial. The program offered eight hours of instruction and hands-on simulated grain extrications, such as shown here. (Photo courtesy of Bureau County Farm Bureau)

FarmWeek Page 9 Monday, May 10, 2010


Farm Bureau, cattlemen host cookout for National Guardsmen being deployed BY DEANNE BLOOMBERG

The Rock Island County Farm Bureau (RICFB) and its county Foundation worked recently with local cattlemen and businesses to honor a Milan-based National Guard Unit that is being sent overseas.

Farmers in the peak of the planting season pulled together to organize and pay for a steak fry and to serve 300 steaks to guardsmen before they left in late May. The group had but about two weeks to get everything in order for the steak fry.

Former National Cattlemen’s Beef Association President and McLean County Farm Bureau member Dan Koons also contacted former Illinois Beef Association President Warren Hadley, Geneseo, to help with organizing the grilling workforce. Despite the short notice and busy season, e-mails and other contacts to the Quad City agricultural community raised $2,100 within five days. After expenses, $1,100 will donated to the All American Beef Battalion for its next steak fry for troops being deployed overseas. “We had to do this although we didn’t know what kind of workforce we would have considering the peak planting sea-


The Schuyler County Farm Bureau taught third and fourth graders about soybeans as part of the festivities for the “Ag Day on the Square” celebration in Rushville. The students were asked if they had soybeans for breakfast. When they responded that they did not, they learned from Ag Literacy Coordinator Jean Barron, right, that many of things they ate for breakfast did, in fact, have soy in them. The lesson was followed by a hands-on activity in which the students planted their own soybean plant. Fortune cookies with Ag Facts were given to each student. (Photo submitted by Schuyler County Farm Bureau manager Kelly Westlake)



ASALLE — Farm Bureau will sponsor a bus trip June 29 to see the Chicago Cubs vs. Pittsburgh Pirates game. Cost is $65 for members and $70 for nonmembers if paid before June 1. After June 1, the cost will be $70 and $75, respectively. Tickets are on a first-come, firstserved basis. Call the Farm Bureau office at 815-433-0371 for reservations or more information. EORIA — Farm Bureau will sponsor a stroke detection plus health screening from 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Wednesday, May 19, at the Farm Bureau auditorium. Members will receive a $35 discount for all four screenings. Call 877-


732-8258 for an appointment or more information. ARREN-HENDERSON — Farm Bureau and Country Financial will sponsor a defensive driving course from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Wednesday and Thursday, May 19-20, at the Farm Bureau office. Lunch will be served. Cost is $10 for members and $20 for non-members. Call the Farm Bureau office at 309-7349401 or 309-924-1151 for reservations or more information.


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

son,” said RICFB Foundation President Jim Neumann. Although Rock Island County does not have a formal beef association, Hadley, the Geneseo cattleman, organized a group to grill the steaks using the Henry County Beef Association’s grill. On May 1, Rockridge FFA members and more than 20 RICFB volunteers helped grill and serve the steaks. “Everyone stepped up to the plate and made it happen,” said RICFB President Phil Fuhr. “Steaks for troops” was the creation of fourth generation cattleman Bill Broadie, who founded the All American Beef Battalion. Broadie, a native of Ashland, Kan., is a Vietnam War veteran. He developed an idea that since 2008 has fed more than 35,000 military personnel and their families. Comments from the author: I would encourage all to get involved with this event if you have an opportunity to do so. The idea sold itself and the fundraising was easy, especially when you tell people the project

Rock Island County Farm Bureau members serve National Guardsmen who will soon deploy overseas. The county Farm Bureau helped organize, raise funding for, cook, and serve a steak meal to honor the soldiers. (Photo by DeAnne Bloomberg)

is to show support for our troops. The farm community knows how to step up to the plate and deliver, and it is even better when groups work across county lines with other or ganizations. Despite being stressed with the pressures of planting and

increasing costs, area farmers gave support to another group of people who really needed and appreciated it. That’s what it’s all about. DeAnne Bloomberg is the Rock Island County Farm Bureau manager. Her e-mail address is

FarmWeek Page 10 Monday, May 10, 2010


Farm income appears to be on solid foundation BY JIM CHARLESWORTH

Net cash farm income in the U.S. reached a record high of nearly $98 billion in 2008 and dropped significantly in 2009 to approximately $71 billion, yet hovered at the previous 10-year average. Jim Charlesworth The 2010 net cash farm income is forecast to improve by $5.5 billion to $76.5 billion. Recent economic news suggests increasingly blue skies ahead for the U.S. economy, though not without some remaining clouds. The return to steady domestic and global economic growth supports gains in consumption, trade, and commodity prices. These factors together result in higher commodity market prices and increasing farm cash receipts for crops and livestock. Crop cash receipts are forecast to grow steadily through 2013, reflecting growing world demand and high corn use for ethanol. Livestock cash receipts, after falling almost $17 billion last year, are projected to level off this year and begin to show modest improvement over the next three years.

Crop production cash receipts have increased more than 35 percent since 2006, while farm cash expenses increased nearly 22 percent during this time period. Over the next three years, total cash receipts and total cash expenses are forecast to increase modestly. Also, producers will rely less on government farm payments compared to recent years, leveling out to nearly 10 percent of net cash farm income. Fixed direct payments and Conservation Reserve Program payments will anchor the government support to producers. The farm sector balance sheet will remain favorable during the next three years. A solid foundation for net cash farm income boosts asset accumulation and debt management.


Feeder pig prices reported to USDA*

Weight 10 lbs. 40 lbs. 50 lbs. Receipts

Range Per Head Weighted Ave. Price $35.10-$50.00 $39.48 n/a n/a n/a n/a This Week Last Week 28,637 15,858 *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 $85.46 $83.80 $63.24 $62.01

Change 1.66 1.23

USDA five-state area slaughter cattle price Steers Heifers

This week $99.99 $99.67

(Thursday’s price) Prv. week Change $98.15 1.84 $98.30 1.37

CME feeder cattle index — 600-800 Lbs. This is a composite price of feeder cattle transactions in 27 states. (Prices $ per hundredweight) This week Prev. week Change 112.96 113.53 -0.57

Lamb prices Confirmed lamb and sheep sales This week 1285 Last week 1026 Last year 693 Wooled Slaughter Lambs: Choice and prime 2-3: 90-110 lb., $115; 110-130 lbs., $130. Good and choice 1-2: 60-90 lbs., $135; 90-110 lbs., $150-$160. Slaughter Ewes: Utility and good 1-3: $43-$45. Cull and utility 1-2: $30-$40.

Export inspections (Million bushels)

Week ending Soybeans Wheat Corn 04-29-10 7.2 17.6 28.2 04-22-10 10.0 10.1 36.6 Last year 22.1 10.6 31.6 Season total 1303.1 773.8 1154.0 Previous season total 1024.5 920.5 1110.6 USDA projected total 1420 825 1900 Crop marketing year began June 1 for wheat and Sept. 1 for corn and soybeans.

Total farm assets are projected to decrease modestly in 2010, impacted by slightly lower farm real estate values. Farm assets are supported with a firm foundation based on real estate representing 84 percent of total farm assets.

The value of farm real estate is projected to moderate in 2010. Rising farmland values in recent years have been driven by strength in net cash farm income, and upward pressure on land values in areas where urban and other

nonagricultural influences impact value. This positive outlook is not without risks, however. The threat of a U.S. recession and global economic slowdown, volatile upward energy costs, challenges to corn-based ethanol and high food prices, increases in deficit spending, and weather-related conditions negatively impacting crop production can all play a role. But all in all, net cash farm income looks positive for 2010 and through the next few years, barring any significant, unforeseen headwinds. Jim Charlesworth is GROWMARK’s marketing research director. His e-mail address is

Signs point toward start of economic recovery BY DANIEL GRANT FarmWeek

The U.S. economy, at least in certain segments, appears to be recovering from the recession. The gross domestic product (GDP), which is a measure of the country’s overall economic output, increased 3.2 percent the first quarter this year, according to the U.S. Department of Commerce. It was the third consecutive quarter of positive GDP growth in the U.S. Meanwhile, a member-survey of the National Association of Business Economics this month projected the U.S. GDP this year will grow by 2 percent to 3-plus percent. Scott Irwin, ag economist at the University of Illinois, agreed the U.S. GDP likely will grow this year after bottoming out in the last quarter of 2008 and the first quarter of 2009. “We are likely to see GDP growth in the U.S. somewhere in the neighborhood of 3 percent,” Irwin told FarmWeek. “But with a very sluggish improvement in employment.” Three ag-related companies already showed some improvement compared to last year based on recent quarterly results. Peoria-based Caterpillar recently reported first-quarter earnings of $233 million compared with a loss of $112 million during the same time last year. Cat predicted worldwide growth of 3.5 percent this year and is expected to hire back 2,000 workers to fill some of the 19,000 full-time positions it cut last year. “Economic conditions are definitely improving, particularly in the world’s developing countries,” said Jim Owens, CEO of Caterpillar. Elsewhere, Decatur-based

ADM last week reported its earnings for the first three months this year increased by more than $400 million compared to the same time last year. The oilseeds processing business was the key to the earnings increase, ADM reported. And Union Pacific, based in Omaha, Neb., in the first quarter this year posted net income of $516 million compared to $362 million a year ago. “Clearly, some level of recovery is ongoing,” Irwin said. “The real question now is the degree of the momentum

and how long-lasting it will be.” Irwin believes slow gains in employment, the poor housing market, and the fact that federal stimulus funding will begin to dry up by year’s end will continue to weigh on the U.S. economy. “Traditionally, the engine that pulls us out of a recession is residential (housing),” Irwin said. “That, of course, looks to be a sector that will be sick for some time.” Irwin does not believe interest rates will skyrocket any time soon.

Small grains program slated June 24 Farmers can receive tips about wheat management, wheat variety selection, and oat variety selection next month at a meeting in Northern Illinois. A small grains program will be held Thursday, June 24, at the University of Illinois Agronomy Research Center near Shabbona. The event will begin at 5:30 p.m. The meeting will focus on variety selection, best managment practices, and disease management for small grains. It also will include inside sessions and an opportunity to view varieties in yield and research trials. Continuing education credits for certified crop advisers will be available for participants. The event, which will feature a meal for $5, is co-sponsored by the U of I Extension and the Illinois Wheat Association (IWA). Those interested in attending should register in advance by contacting the IWA office at 309-557-3662, the U of I research center at 815-824-2029, or by e-mailing Lyle Paul at The U of I Northern Illinois Agronomy Research Center is located in DeKalb County one mile east of Shabbona on Route 30 and then 5.5 miles north on University Road.

FarmWeek Page 11 Monday, May 10, 2010



Cents per bu.

2009 crop: Recent market activity suggests the larger trend is beginning to shift lower. Chicago July futures prices have been unable to hold above the 50-day resistance level. This coincides with our cycle counts pointing to the 40-week cycle bottoming in June. You should have completed sales last week. If not, use rallies to do so. 2010 crop: Use strength to get sales up to 40 percent if you haven’t already done so. Even though we expect a lower trend into early summer, we expect to see one or two opportunities to add to sales during the summer. Fundamentals: The fast pace of corn planting continues to be a drag on prices. The most recent crop progress report indicated 68 percent of the crop has been planted vs. 50 percent last week and 32 percent in 2009. The current forecast is calling for cool temperatures to settle over the Corn Belt, but it is not expected to have a significant impact on the crop.

Soybean Strategy

Wheat, soybean exports hold steady Wheat exports since midMarch managed to track the USDA forecast after lagging for several months. However, it may be difficult to see much of an increase as U.S. wheat prices remain over-

Basis charts

priced in the world market and supplies are abundant. Soybean exports and shipments have fallen enough to suggest USDA may not need to raise its export forecast. In addition, business likely will start to shift down to South America where harvest of a substantial soybean crop is being wrapped up. Corn exports continue to lag, but the wildcard going forward will be if China remains a buyer of U.S. corn. The Chinese stepped into the market and bought a confirmed two cargos of corn, and rumors circulated they may have bought another four to six cargos. However, the rumored sales have yet to be confirmed and it is unknown if the Chinese will sustain buying in the future. It likely will be determined on the outcome of this year’s crop in China. Planting there is off to a slow start due to cool and wet conditions. AgriVisor endorses crop insurance by

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2009 crop: The recent close below $9.80 should confirm the short-term trend has turned down, positioning the market to decline into the 16to 18-week cycle low due in early to mid-June. The premium old-crop prices have over new crop will start to erode unless something impacts production potential. Use rallies to wrap up old-crop sales. 2010 crop: Use rallies for catch-up sales. We intend to get up to 50 percent of the crop sold before harvest. But we prefer waiting to see how crop potential develops before adding another increment. Fundamentals: Newcrop fundamentals look a little more abundant, but ultimately they depend on the size of our crop, Chinese demand, and South America crop potential next year. But other than our summer weather, there may not be much to impact the market until after our harvest. In addition, the outside markets are proving to be a drag on commodities. Crude oil has a semi-

annual low due in the month of July, while the longer-term cycles have an additional bottom in late 2010/early 2011.

Wheat Strategy 2009 crop: Chicago July futures recently breached resistance at $4.97 to $5. This opens the door for a test of $5.17. Rallies may be limited by the downward drag of the 40-week cycle and seasonal tendency for prices to weaken into harvest. If you still have old-crop inventories, complete sales now. 2010 crop: If Chicago July futures reach $5.15, price another 15 percent, bringing

the total to 40 percent complete. If you price your wheat at harvest, get those sales up to 50 percent now. Use rallies to make catch-up sales. Fundamentals: The Kansas wheat tour was completed last week and the overall sediment was that this year’s crop will be good, but not as good as the 2009 crop. The fields have adequate moisture levels, which will encourage growth but makes the crop susceptible to disease. In addition, the current forecast is for cool conditions to unfold in key wheat regions, which has the potential to damage the flowering crop.

FarmWeek Page 12 Monday, May 10, 2010


The perfect three: food science, agriculture, and cooperatives



hen deciding what career option would be the most suitable for me, there were a few activities I enjoy that I wanted to consider: cooking, math, agriculture, and designing things. I looked at many majors that combined all four

factors, and I finally decided on food science. When I was younger, I would help my mother cook supper, bake cookies, and even do the dishes. This interaction of food and culinary arts has given me a deep interest in food preparation, cooking, growing methods, and how food gets from the field to a home. Basic food science is something in which I have a lot of experience. Growing up on a farm, I have had experience with the first step of food development: growing corn and soybeans. These crops can be found in many foods ranging from sodas to cereals. Even though there are many products made from corn and soybeans, there is still room for new development of food products made from agriculture crops. Burdette Rosendale, director and a member of West Central FS Inc., states: “There will continue to be a need for the development of new products as people’s preferences change and we learn more about nutrition. New products to feed the

hungry efficiently will be needed for some time.” The job of a food scientist is to develop or improve ways of preserving, processing, packaging, storing, and delivering foods. They must find ways to capitalize crop production to ensure that production is maximized so that the agriculture industry can be preserved and flourish. Some scientists do basic research and develop new items, and some work for the government to monitor regulations. No matter what their role is, however, their job requires the work and cooperation of many parties. A food scientist must work with members and businesses of a community to research and develop ways to best use the resources in that community to exploit their potential to improve the community. One of the benefits of being a food scientist is that you are given the chance to work for and become part of a cooperative. For example, a food scientist who works with dairy products may become part of the Prairie Farms cooperative. Working in a cooperative has many advantages, which includes an overall better working environment. Rick Balzer, West Central FS controller, states: “Stability of the cooperative system that results from the commitment of the patron-owners to the local cooperative is a strong advantage to cooperatives. The relationships formed between the patrons and the cooperative employees are unique in that each

employee has an impact on the patrons’ operations in some way. Those providing services to the patrons are directly involved with the operation and take pride and satisfaction from doing a good job.” Nick Billingsly, employee at Two Rivers FS Inc., believes that an advantage to working in a cooperative is “working with good people in a rural community and knowing your work will benefit the world in the long run.” Through cooperatives, food scientists have the power to sustain agriculture and to benefit agricultural communities. My career goal is to obtain a job as a food scientist, working at a cooperative, because I will not only be able to improve the community and cooperative in which I work, but also I will become a more empowered employee and will strive to do the best I can for the benefit of others. As Balzer stated, “The cooperative system has been around for a long time and the consistency of agriculture makes working for a cooperative a good employment opportunity. Today’s cooperative is structured and functions as a major company, offering its employees complete benefits programs and competitive wages.” Amanda Rosendale of the Southeastern FFA Chapter, Augusta, was the Illinois winner of GROWMARK’s 2010 essay contest. Her winning entry is presented here. She will receive $500 in June during the state FFA convention. Her chapter also will receive $300 in her honor. Kelly Weiman is her ag teacher and FFA adviser.

WIU marks 60 years of celebrating ag student leaders Western Illinois University’s School of Agriculture recently held its annual Student Awards Banquet. The banquet has been around for a long time; this year was the 60th. That means the first banquet was held in 1950. In that year, the Korean War was in WILLIAM full swing, the BAILEY first credit card was introduced by Diners Club, and Zenith sold the first television remote control. Some things have changed, but the high quality of students in the School of Agriculture continues. At this year’s banquet, 200 students were in attendance, along with the faculty, parents, and two School of Agriculture Advisory Board members. The event is a chance for students in the School of Agriculture to

be publicly acknowledged for their achievements. The focus of the evening was on the students. All of the school’s clubs and student organizations were honored, starting with the Agriculture Council. Most academic departments at Western have two or three student clubs. Agriculture has 14. All of the agriculture clubs and organizations are active — raising money for educational trips to Houston, Louisville, Boston, and Washington, D.C. They also raise money for others. For example, the Agriculture Council went shopping at

Christmas to purchase gifts for less fortunate children. Students join the clubs because they are interested in an area, agronomy or horticulture for example, or they wish to make new friends, or they join for purely academic reasons. Each of the 14 clubs requires leaders. As a result, these clubs provide students with the chance to try out being a leader, such as being the chancellor of Alpha Zeta, and see how they like it. In my view, the opportunity to serve in a leadership role is a very important aspect of these clubs. For many students, this

is their first opportunity to shoulder the responsibility that comes with leading others. Some students really enjoy the burdens of leadership. Others have the opportunity to say, “I tried it, and I don’t like it.” These clubs provide students the opportunity to reach their own conclusions about leadership based on

their own experience. I can’t wait for next year to see which agriculture students will be honored for their successes. William Bailey is chair of the School of Agriculture at Western Illinois University, Macomb. His email address is WC-Bailey

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FarmWeek May 10 2010  

FarmWeek May 10 2010

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