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ILLINOIS FARM BUREAU President Philip Nelson believes passage of the free trade agreement with Colombia may be close. ........2

MANY QUESTIONS remain regarding the FutureGen 2.0 project proposed for Morg an County. FarmWeek looks at concerns. ......4

THE IAA FOUNDATION has made the first distribution of funds from a $1 million donation from 1st Farm Credit Services. .....10

Monday, April 11, 2011

Two sections Volume 39, No. 15

Budget Committee plan urges direct payment, insurance cuts Ag Committee chairman claims he’ll have final say BY MARTIN ROSS FarmWeek

The U.S. House Budget Committee has taken aim at farm direct payments and crop insurance spending, although House Ag Committee Chairman Frank Lucas (R-Okla.) insisted last week his committee — not the Budget Committee — ultimately would trigger any program changes. Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) unveiled a deficit reduction plan that would cut farm spending by $30 billion over 10 years, beginning with the next farm bill. Ryan seeks to trim the existing $5-billion-per-year in direct payments, regardless of producer needs. Ryan’s plan also proposed generally to “reform the openended nature of the government’s support for crop insurance, so that agricultural producers assume the same kind of responsibility for managing risk that other businesses do.” Ryan’s cuts would equal 20 percent of current projected “baseline” spending in both areas, according to Congressional Budget Of-

fice (CBO) figures. Lucas, who has defended direct payments, called Ryan’s proposals “simply suggestions” and said “at the end of the day, members of the House Agriculture Committee and I will write the next farm bill.” While “ag wants to do its fair share in trying to balance this budget,” Illinois Farm Bureau President Philip Nelson noted “we already put significant dollars on the table” via 2010 insurance cuts. American Farm Bureau Federation (AFBF) President Bob Stallman stressed “even before any cuts, farm program expenditures have been falling for years,” with higher crop prices reducing loan deficiency payments. “In the big mix of things, the safety net that underpins American agriculture is fairly insignificant with regard to the massive cuts (Congress is) trying to do,” Nelson added. AFBF economist Bob Young affirmed Lucas and company’s ultimate authority to identify specific program cuts, arguing Ryan’s plan “merely” directs them to target “$30 billion over 10 years.” Within the ag budget, direct

payments and crop insurance are “where the money is,” he said, though policymakers also have eyed cuts to key conservation programs and Market Access Program (MAP) export promotion spending. House Ag Foreign Agriculture Subcommittee member Tim Johnson, an Urbana Republican, rigorously defended MAP last week. Citing ag ex-

port growth amid the economic downturn, Johnson emphasized “the importance of maintaining an aggressive approach to expanding exports.” Were Ryan’s prescribed cuts focused entirely on direct payments, farmers could see nationwide benefits drop to $2 billion per year, Young said. He pondered whether major cuts in federal crop premium

subsidies might spur growers to reduce annual coverage — thus increasing income risk — while questioning whether USDA “can take any more” out of insurer administration and operating reimbursements. The Budget Committee plan argues the current producer price boom presents the See Budget, page 2

ROCKY HARVEST

Shane Beck picked up rocks he unearthed last week while tilling a 160-acre field near Anchor in McLean County. The field will be planted to corn. Beck, who works for the Eyer family, reported nearly perfect soil moisture conditions on the 300 acres that had been tilled so far. (Photo by Ken Kashian)

Periodicals: Time Valued

Congress fixes troublesome Form 1099 tax reporting issue Congress last week repealed a major federal tax reporting requirement farmers and rural businesses had viewed as a potential bureaucratic nightmare. On the heels of U.S. House action, the Senate voted 97-12 to eliminate Form 1099 requirements established under the new health care law. Beginning in 2012, the law would have required businesses to submit a Form 1099 to the Internal Revenue

Service for every vendor from which they purchase $600 or more in goods or services. American Farm Bureau Federation President Bob Stallman argued the 1099 rule “was a costly, burdensome, and unnecessary tax compliance requirement that was counterproductive to job creation and economic growth.” But while even President Obama eventually criticized the requirement, it reportedly would have generated $22 bil-

FarmWeek on the web: FarmWeekNow.com

lion to $25 billion in revenues over a nine-year period, on the assumption retailers and service providers would file taxes on more income knowing 1099s were on record. Bipartisan lawmakers ultimately agreed to “fund” 1099 repeal through changes in health insurance tax credit provisions. “It’s hard to imagine why I should have to pay for something when, really, no one can understand why there was a (revenue) savings attributed to

it in the first place,” Illinois Corn Growers Association President Jim Reed told FarmWeek. “That said, I’m glad this is done — it clearly needed to be done. Everyone can breathe a sigh of relief.” The White House said in a statement following Senate action it was “pleased Congress has acted to correct a flaw that placed an unnecessary bookkeeping burden on small businesses.” — Martin Ross

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


FarmWeek Page 2 Monday, April 11, 2011

TRADE

Quick Takes AIR STANDARDS FOR AMMONIA? — Environmentalists last week petitioned the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to list ammonia as a criteria pollutant under the Clean Air Act. Such action would require EPA to establish air quality standards to “protect public health and the environment.” The environmental groups claim air emissions from Concentrated Animal Feeding Operations (CAFOs) are a problem and have “escaped Clean Air Act regulation for decades.” A variety of environmental groups is involved, including the Sierra Club, the Waterkeeper Alliance, and the Humane Society of the United States. BIOFUELS NEEDS — Renewable Fuels Association President Bob Dinneen had a laundry list of requests when he testified last week at a Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee hearing. He called for continued ethanol tax incentives, approval of E15 (15 percent ethanol gasoline) and higher blends for all cars, expansion of tax incentives to retailers for ethanol refueling infrastructure, and “consumer-based” tax incentives for flexible-fuel vehicles. “The U.S. now leads the world in the production and use of clean, renewable, domestic liquid transportation fuels,” Dinneen testified. “For (the government’s) ultimate goal of 36 billion gallons of renewable fuel use (by 2022) to be realized, however, additional federal efforts to open markets, stimulate investments in new technologies, and assist in the development of infrastructure for these new fuels will be necessary.” Meanwhile, Bill Brady, chairman of the Advanced Ethanol Council and a New Hampshire-based ethanol producer, argued the U.S. needs a stable, consistent policy for “advanced” and biomass biofuels. His company has received DOE grant funding to back private investment, and he urged the committee to continue funding for DOE renewable energy loan guarantees. HEIGH HO, BOSSY, AWAY — A Ger man teenager and her mount won’t be competing in any show jumping competitions, but Regina Mayer and her cow, Luna, made a global media splash last week. Mayer broke Luna for riding and taught her to jump low fences after her parents wouldn’t buy her a horse. Mayer may be viewed putting Luna through her paces online at {www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-europe12986792}. As for Luna’s future, Mayer told the Associated Press the cow “thinks she’s a horse.”

(ISSN0197-6680) Vol. 39 No. 15

April 11, 2011

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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U.S.-Colombia framework reached

Nelson sees FTA urgency to retain key market share “It’s quite clear they want this free trade agreement, and if they don’t get it, they’re going Illinois Farm Bureau President Philip Nelson to move on,” he warned. “We’re already seeing a returned from a Latin American tour last week loss of exports as it relates to that country — in buoyed by progress toward a U.S.-Colombia just a little over a year, we’ve lost more than $1 free trade agreement (FTA) but emphatic about billion of exports into Colombia. the consequences should Congress fail to act. “(Panamanian officials), too, very pointedly Farm groups applaudargued that we’ve always been allies and great ed President trading partners, but for some reason, we are Obama’s not acting on a trade agreement that would benannouncement efit not only American agriculture but also the that U.S. and Panamanian government and that country.” Colombian Nelson observed Brazil is “ready to step negotiators had up to the table” if the U.S. fails to come reached a basic across with timely FTAs. Canada already framework for has negotiated agreements with Panama FTA approval. and ColomObama and bia and is Colombian expected to President Juan “quite significantly” ramp up exports to Manuel Santos those nations over the next few months, he signed an agreesaid. ment last week that He emphasized U.S. FTAs would enable the would strengthen labor rights in Colombia, U.S. to “resume exports that have been curaddressing the primary barrier to congressional tailed” by high import tariffs. U.S. corn exports FTA support. to Colombia declined dramatically during the Nelson, who chairs the American Farm Bureau 2009-10 marketing year, to only 36 million Federation’s (AFBF) Trade Advisory Committee, bushels, but FTA approval would offer immedibelieves “we’re almost at the tipping point” for ate duty-free access to Colombia’s roughly 2.1 passage of that long-delayed million-metric-ton corn market. FarmWeekNow.com agreement as well as an ObamaFurther, Nelson cited a signifiendorsed South Korea FTA and a You can listen to President cant volume of ethanol-derived Nelson’s interview about the distillers dried grains (DDGs) pact with Panama. Together, the U . S . - C o l o m b i a F T A a t moving into Brazil, Colombia, and three represent nearly $3 billion FarmWeekNow.com. in added annual U.S. ag exports, Panama as all three strive to according to AFBF. improve efficiency in traditionally Illinois Corn Growers Association President grass-fed beef production. Jim Reed told FarmWeek he was hopeful Con“In our country, where we have grain-fed gress would quickly send the Colombia FTA to beef, we’re getting cattle to market in almost the White House, tagging Colombia as a grain half the time we’re hearing from our counterbuyer “we certainly want to keep and maintain.” parts in Latin America,” he said. During an AFBF tour of Brazil, Colombia, “I think there are some significant gains to and Panama, Nelson discussed the mutual bene- be made just by their adopting some of the fits of pending FTAs with top Colombian and same methodologies through which we produce Panamanian officials. livestock in this country.”

BY MARTIN ROSS FarmWeek

Budget Continued from page 1 ideal time to trim “numerous overlapping” supports. A representative of CBO’s Ag Team told IFB Leaders to Washington recently the agency’s es-

timated 10-year program spending projections are based on a snapshot of current market/economic conditions. Accurately projecting crop prices out to 2021 can be a “suspect” process, he suggested.


Page 3 Monday, April 11, 2011 FarmWeek

STATE

State House panel passes bill to curtail cattle tail docking The House Business and Occupational Licenses Committee last week passed legislation that would prevent far mers from docking their cattle’s tails unless it was done by a veterinarian for health reasons. The 6-3 vote sends the legislation to the House floor. Earlier, the committee adopted an amendment that exempted all other livestock species from the same requirement applied to cattle. Illinois Far m Bureau is working with the Illinois Milk Producers’ Association, the Illinois Beef Association, and the Illinois Pork Producers Association against the bill’s passage, said Bill Bodine, IFB associate director of state legislation.

“It would ban far mers from perfor ming an animal husbandry practice that is used to improve the care of cattle,” Bodine noted. DeKalb County cattleman Mike Martz of Maple Park explained the reasons for the practice during his testimony before the House committee last week. “We dock tails (four inches above the switch) to prevent tail infection and paralysis,” Martz told Far mWeek. He said the practice has eliminated the deaths of 13 to 15 animals in his herd each year from infected tails. If the practice is banned, “we’ll go back to the same old problem

that we had eliminated,” Martz said. Stephenson County dairyman Doug Block of Hunter Haven Far ms, Pearl City, said tail docking is a management practice that allows dairymen to keep cows cleaner. “Dairymen are in the business of caring for cows, and we care very much about them,” Block said. Cows that aren’t in good condition do not produce as much milk, he added. “The practical application (of the practice) is it is a cleanliness issue.” Block said. — Kay Shipman

Few downstate issues surface at redistricting hearing BY KAY SHIPMAN FarmWeek

Few issues of importance to downstate voters surfaced during the Senate Redistricting Committee hearing last week. A couple of downstate residents testified at the Springfield hearing about their legislative districts and expressed support for new

FarmWeekNow.com You can view viedo of Randy Becker’s testimony by going to FarmWeekNow.com

maps that would not divide their counties. Randy Becker of Effingham County pointed out his county is divided into three state Senate and three state House districts. “We feel we sometimes get lost in the shuffle,” Becker

told lawmakers. Sen. Dale Righter (R-Mattoon) noted it will be important to “keep communities of interest” and populations together in legislative districts. Every 10 years, a national census is conducted, and the results are used to determine the need for new legislative district maps for state and federal elections. The Illinois Constitution empowers members of the Illinois House and Senate with drawing the district maps the year after the census, which is this year. Illinois’ future district boundaries will reflect the state’s population changes. “We’re quite sure the population growth in the Chicago suburbs will result in a concentration of districts there, meaning other districts will

Redistricting hearing details released The Senate Redistricting Committee last week released details about its next public hearings on drafting of the new legislative boundary maps. A hearing on Saturday, April 16, will start at 10 a.m. at the Red Cross of Central Illinois in Peoria. A second hearing that day will start at noon at the Kankakee Community College, Kankakee. The Illinois House has scheduled three hearings for April 16. The first will be at 10 a.m. in Marengo Community High School, change in areas with lower population growth,” said Kevin Semlow, Illinois Farm Bureau director of state legislation. All legislative districts must have the same number of residents. This may result in geographically larger legislative districts in downstate and

Marengo. Hearings at 1 p.m. will be in Parkland College’s Tony Knoll Ag Building, Champaign, and Cicero Town Hall, Cicero. Other House hearings will be Monday, April 18, at 1:30 p.m. in the Illinois Math and Science Academy in Aurora and at 4 p.m. in the East St. Louis Township Senior Center, East St. Louis, and the Centre of Elgin, Elgin. An April 19 hearing will start at 4 p.m. in the lower level of the Zeke Giorgi State of Illinois Building, Rockford.

rural areas that experienced lower population growth. “We need to make sure agriculture would not be adversely affected by the redistricting map,” Semlow said. The majority of the individuals who spoke at the redistricting hearing urged senators to not divide ethnic

and religious communities among legislative districts. Other speakers asked for an opportunity to comment on the proposed district maps before they become official. The Senate will continue its redistricting hearings on April 16, while the House will start its hearing that day. (See accompanying story)

ISU science speaker April 18

Gianessi: Herbicides benefit society and the environment Societies around the globe have advanced economically after farmers began using herbicides to control weeds and eliminated “the drudgery of hand weeding,” Leonard Gianessi, director of the Crop Protection Research Institute and CropLife Foundation, told FarmWeek. Gianessi will speak at 7:30 p.m. Monday, April 18, in Illinois State University’s (ISU) Bone Student Center, Normal. Gianessi is one of

the featured speakers for ISU’s Science & Technology Week. His presentation will be free and open to the public. “All the societies that have advanced economically in the world have gotten rid of the drudgery of hand weeding. We did it, the Japanese and Europeans did it. The Chinese are doing it now,” Gianessi said. Gianessi has written com-

prehensive reports on the benefits of using herbicides, fungicides, and insecticides in U.S. crop production. Prior to joining the CropLife Foundation, he was a senior research associate at the National Center for Food and Agricultural Policy. Many countries have decided it is not in their best interest to keep millions of people weeding fields by hand, he continued. In Africa, 100 million women spend billions of

hours yearly hand weeding fields. In addition to the economic benefits derived through farmers’ use of herbicides, societies also gained environmental benefits, such as reduced soil erosion and water conservation, from the reduced need for tillage, Gianessi noted. “The (U.S.) Dust Bowl was caused as much by tillage as by drought,” he said. Organic growers use hand weeding and/or tillage

today, Gianessi said, and he will discuss organic farming during his presentation at ISU as he has in other presentations. Recently, Gianessi received a compliment from an organic farmer who heard him speak in Maine. After the speech, the organic farmer asked Gianessi for copies of his slides because he had done “such a good job explaining how difficult it is” to farm organically, Gianessi said. — Kay Shipman


FarmWeek Page 4 Monday, April 11, 2011

FUTUREGEN

FutureGen CEO: Alliance listening to public BY MARTIN ROSS FarmWeek

Local questions and concerns remain about the potential impact of a proposed Morgan County carbon sequestration project. FutureGen Alliance officials told FarmWeek they are listening — and planning accordingly. Cass-Morgan Farm Bureau manager Jim Carleton noted “a very open exchange” on the potential carbon dioxide transportsequestration project during a March meeting with FutureGen Alliance CEO Ken Humphreys. The alliance has identified northeast Morgan County as the “preferred site” for “FutureGen 2.0,” a major project that would include underground carbon dioxide (CO2) storage, a visitor center, and research and “clean coal” technology training facilities. The project would transport Amid proposals to develCO2 via pipeline from a rejuveop a cutting-edge carbon nated Ameren power plant at dioxide (CO2) capture/Meredosia to an initially consequestration site and CO2 ceived 25-acre injection-storage pipeline across Morgan County, key questions have site. arisen regarding safety, While the county Farm long-term liability, local Bureau is maintaining a neutral property value impacts, stance toward the project, Carlegal issues, and the costleton said the meeting with effectiveness related to the Humphreys “definitely set the proposed “FutureGen 2.0” stage to keep the lines of comsiting. FarmWeek set out in this munications open.” Some local landowners were issue to get answers about FutureGen Alliance’s plans. concerned about what they We explore steps involved in deemed inadequate information final federal approval for the from the alliance and local offiproject and address several cials regarding “FutureGen 2.0” concerns raised by local resplans. idents. Humphreys noted selection of the Morgan County site will kick off a roughly 18-month process of environmental and geological assessment, cost analysis, and project planning and land acquisition (see accompanying details). The current site was selected after some 330 local landowners petitioned against an original site near Alexander east of Jacksonville. Morgan County producer Andy Davenport is concerned about the long-term security of project funding, FutureGen land needs, potential liability for CO2 “escape” or pipeline rupture, possible use of eminent domain, and the general cost-effectiveness and safety of underground “carbon capture.” Gretchen Hund, FutureGen Alliance stakeholder involvement manager, stressed the alliance’s plans for a continuous “open process” for gathering and processing local input. “We’re listening to those views,” Humphreys told FarmWeek prior to an initial Jacksonville meeting with a new 13-member project “citizens” board. “I know there’s some concern that we’re not, but what they’ve said is already shaping our approach in terms of designing the (CO2) storage site, how we approach the land acquisition strategy.” The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) sets the basic timetable for final project approval through its environmental impact statement process. DOE will hold at least one local “scoping” meeting to identify public concerns for inclusion in the statement and will issue a draft statement for further public review before releasing a final document. The alliance plans parallel public meetings with on-site experts and “poster sessions” visually explaining all aspects of the project. The Illinois State Geological Survey, which is working with the group, has developed a 3D model that illustrates how CO2 would be injected and contained. Ongoing feedback and guidance on further community outreach efforts will be supplied by the local citizens board, which Hund said includes community representatives “from all walks of life.” The board also includes representatives of Jacksonville’s two colleges and community college and Morgan County Farm Bureau President Jon Freeman. “There are still a lot of unknowns for us as well as (the alliance) as we get into this project, as there are with any pilot project,” Carleton told FarmWeek. “We are going to take this thing one step at a time. “We’re actively involved and engaged here at this point. We’re not going to take a position pro or con; we’re neutral. Our objective is to make sure our members have the information they need to make an informed decision when approached to sign a lease, easement contract, option, whatever.”

FUTUREGEN 2.0: THE PLAN GEOLOGY Analysis of the geology of the Mt. Simon sandstone formation under Morgan County is crucial before there is any carbon injection or sequestration. That will include measuring the depth and thickness of structures within the formation and the permeability or ability of materials to pass through rock layers and identifying any fractures or faults that could contribute to CO2 escape or other problems. The formation underlies Illinois, Indiana, and Kentucky. In the Illinois basin, 2,500 feet is the minimum depth at which CO2 remains “supercritical” (in an ideal liquid form for sequestration) -- the top of the formation in the Morgan County area is some 4,450 feet below the surface. Scientists will conduct a “sonogram” of the formation, transmitting energy waves through the rock and creating a series of underground images as waves bounce back toward the surface. Particularly important is the integrity of the formation’s overlying Eau Claire and subsequent shale “seals” which will help keep underground CO2 underground. “We come to this with as much geological data as has been gathered in the State of Illinois, as well as in Indiana and Kentucky,” noted Sallie Greenberg, assistant director of the Illinois State Geological Survey’s (ISGS) Advanced Energy Technology Initiative.

ENVIRONMENT Meanwhile, the U.S. Department of Energy will oversee a projected 18-month environmental impact statement process as required under the National Environmental Policy Act, analyzing a range of potential above- and belowground issues that could arise from the project. The process will cover not only the injection site and the planned CO2 pipeline from Meredosia to the site but also any environmental concerns regarding “repowering” and operation of the retooled Ameren plant. According to project environmental consultant Lucy Swartz, DOE’s study will extend even to project research, training, and visitor facilities. “They’ll look at impacts to prime farmland,” Swartz related. “They’ll look at impacts to agricultural resources; they’ll look at impacts to wetlands, air quality impacts, water quality impacts.” DOE also will consider socioeconomic impacts: community benefits and costs, truck traffic during construction, decibel (audio) levels related to construction and injection. FutureGen Alliance CEO Ken Humphreys related plans to address the injection site’s visual “footprint,” as well.

SAFETY AND SECURITY In Morgan County, groundwater supplies are at most 80 feet beneath the surface, ISGS’ Greenberg said. Consumer water supplies and the proposed CO2 “reservoir” are separated by nearly a solid mile of “very impermeable” shale, limestone, and other rock, she said. At that depth and in its liquid state, a CO2 leak is of “ultra-low” risk, Humphreys said. In its supercritical state, CO2 is even less volatile than in its odorless, non-flammable, generally non-toxic gaseous state, Humphreys said. Further, the alliance CEO reports CO2 would leave the Meredosia plant in a “97 percent-plus pure” state, with Ameren separating sulfur, heavy metals, and other potential contaminants. Underground CO2 supplies actually should exceed the health safety level of untreated water within the Mt. Simon formation, Humphreys said. The planned 10-inch steel pipeline that would move CO2 to the injection site is rated to withstand pressures above 2,200 pounds per square inch. Gulf Interstate Engineering, the Houston firm expected to construct the line, has

worked extensively in Illinois natural gas transportation and CO2 transport in other regions. “While a CO2 pipeline has never specifically been built to connect a power plant and a storage hub, within the chemical and oil and gas industries, there are literally thousands of miles of CO2 pipeline that have been safely operated for decades,” Humphreys told FarmWeek.

FUNDING AND LIABILITY Humphreys cites a potential triple line of protection in the event of a breach in or other problem with CO2 storage, equipment damage or failure, or crop damage related to construction or operations: project financial resources, industrial insurance, and a proposed project trust fund. He noted a couple of commercial insurers are developing products specifically for the carbon capture-sequestration industry, and he maintained the alliance would obtain “an adequate policy to protect the project.” A project-supported trust fund to protect groundwater likely will be required under FutureGen’s U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) injection permit. But Humphreys envisions a reserve overseen by an independent trustee, that also would cover property or other project-related damage. That fund ostensibly would function for at least EPA’s 50-year “default timeline” for ensuring protection after injection has been completed, he said. That’s after a potential four-year design phase and a possible 30-35 years of site operation, Humphreys said. EPA is expected to set bonding or other fund security requirements. FutureGen “enabling” legislation in the Illinois House would require at least $15 million in project coverage, trust fund establishment, and state indemnification of losses not covered by insurance or the trust fund.

LAND ACQUISITION The Illinois Senate’s “Denbury Pipeline Bill,” prompted by an unrelated plan to transport CO2 from the Midwest to the Gulf region, includes an eminent domain provision that has raised concerns about how the FutureGen Alliance or others could acquire land or easements for the project. Humphreys stressed the alliance had no role in the measure but is watching its progress. Currently, the alliance has no eminent domain authority, and is buying deep subsurface “pore space” rights through what he termed “a normal business transaction, from willing landowners.” Where practical, the alliance would attempt to co-locate its pipeline with or adjacent to existing pipeline/utility right-of-way, he said. “I believe there are 150 landowners between Meredosia and the storage site,” Humphreys said. “We hope to be able to acquire (right-ofway) through normal negotiations. “I can’t completely rule out the possibility that through one mechanism or another, part of the pipeline might be sited using eminent domain. But it’s not an option that exists today.” Humphreys said should eminent domain be used, producers would be compensated for an easement and for “fair market” value of crop losses during construction. Pipe would be installed at a depth of five feet, per Illinois Department of Agriculture pipeline siting guidelines, to enable resumption of cropping. Responding to speculation on possible expansion of an initially proposed 1,000-acre “circle” above the CO2 storage area, Humphreys said the alliance “would like to have some flexibility to expand.” But whatever future needs arise, he told FarmWeek “We’re not going to expand onto properties where people are not amenable to selling their pore space.” — Martin Ross


Page 5 Monday, April 11, 2011 FarmWeek

EMERGING ISSUES

Above: Members of the Mt. Vernon FFA Chapter build a 26-by-36-foot greenhouse for the Our Giving Gardens project, which grows and distributes free vegetables to local elderly residents. Chapter members also helped clean the vegetable garden and recycle gardening materials. At left: Mt. Vernon FFA members Josh Donoho, top, and Betsy Kueker, bottom, work with their agriculture teacher and FFA adviser John Kabat while building a new greenhouse for a garden charity project. (Photos courtesy Mt. Vernon FFA)

FFA members learn elderly food needs, greenhouse construction BY KAY SHIPMAN FarmWeek

Josh Donoho, treasurer of Mt. Vernon’s FFA chapter, learned more than how to build a greenhouse when he and his fellow FFA members volunteered their time over spring break. Donoho also learned many lowincome elderly in his area depend on the free vegetables grown by the Our Giving Hands Garden, a ministry project run by Duane and Debbra Arndt. “It was a real eye-opener. I felt I needed to do more,” said Donoho, a senior. He also experienced building a 26-by-36-foot greenhouse for the first time.

In addition to buildRecently, the chapter ing a greenhouse, the 20 applied for a grant to FFA members and their ‘ I t w a s a r e a l buy vegetable seeds and adviser, John Kabat, materials to help propaeye-opener.’ helped clean and pregate plants for the garpare the Arndts’ garden den. and recycle old materiKabat said he and the — Josh Donoho students were struck by als. Mt. Vernon FFA treasurer the number of low“It’s been amazing income elderly — more what the kids helped us than 200 families — who rely on the do,” Debbra Arndt explained. Medical problems limit the amount of work her free vegetables delivered to their neighhusband is able to do, she added. borhoods and homes. While doing community service The students plan to continue to be work, the students learned about green- involved with the garden, possibly with house construction and about irrigation harvest and delivery, he added. systems for vegetables, Kabat said. Donoho said he and some other

students have discussed their future plans with the garden project. “I hope to continue to go back and help. I’ve talked to other people. We felt strongly about trying to figure out what more to do,” he said. Arndt said she hopes the greenhouse will help increase production from 3,500 pounds to 5,000 pounds of vegetables this year. For more information about the program, go online to {http://our givinghandsgarden.weebly.com} or contact Debbra Arndt at R.R. 1, Box 482, Belle Rive, Ill. 62810, or 618-7362093, or e-mail her at ourgivinghandsgarden@yahoo.com.

U of I study shows hunger hitting closer to home Exotic pest within striking distance A new University of Illinois study on hunger is the first to identify the county-level distribution of more than 50 million Americans who don’t have enough food. “Until now, we could only compare the data by state,” said Craig Gundersen, an ag economics professor at the U of I and executive director of the National Soybean Research Laboratory.

The study shows the distribution of individuals who are hungry and not eligible for food assistance programs. In Illinois, for example, 41 percent of the almost 2 million people identified as being food insecure also are ineligible to receive federal assistance from the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP). Previously, SNAP was known as the Food Stamp Program.

A summary of the findings, an interactive map of the U.S. showing data for each county, and the full report are available on Feeding America’s website at {www.feedingamerica.org}. The study was funded by the Howard G. Buffett Foundation and the Nielsen Co. “To address the problem of hunger in our communities, we have to understand it,” Gundersen said.

Early season canopy focus of grape grower workshop Illinois grape growers are invited to the Lazy L Grape Ranch, owned by Brad Lindquist, near Mechanicsburg for a 10 a.m. Saturday, May 14, workshop on early-season canopy management and vineyard nutrition. Brad Taylor of Southern Illinois University and Elizabeth Wahle of University of Illinois Extension will discuss major practices, including shoot thinning and positioning

and cluster thinning. Registration fees will be collected at the site beginning at 9:30 a.m. The cost is $20 for Illinois Grape Growers and Vintners Association (IGGVA) members or $30 per vineyard or non-IGGVA member. Lunch is included. The vineyard is east of Springfield and just south of Mechanicsburg. From Interstate 72, take the Mechanicsburg Exit 114 into Mechanicsburg.

As you come into town, turn left or east onto West Main Street, then take a right onto South Church Street, which turns into Roby Road. Continue south past Darnell Road and turn left or east onto Moomey Road. The vineyard will be on the right and is visible from the road. For more details, contact Elizabeth Wahle at 618-6929434, extension 21 or e-mail wahle@illinois.edu.

A potential pest problem that may come to Illinois this year is the brown marmorated stink bug, said Matt Montgomery, director of the University of Illinois Extension Mason County office. “The brown marmorated stink bug is an exotic pest that has been on the Extension entomology radar screen for several years,” Montgomery said. Originally from Asia, the brown marmorated stink bug was first detected on the East Coast nearly 15 years ago and has steadily moved westward. “Today, it is within striking distance of Illinois, having established itself in Indiana, Kentucky, and Missouri. It has not officially become an Illinois resident, but in time that will undoubtedly change,” Montgomery said. Its name accurately describes this insect, according to Montgomery. It is a stink bug, apparently dispensing more aroma than

native Illini versions. The bug is considered a pest because it feeds on many plant species and it migrates into buildings to overwinter. Apples, peaches, grapes, green beans, tomatoes, peppers, ornamentals, and Illinois primary row crops all can be damaged by feeding from this stink bug species, Montgomery warned. Fruits and vegetables, in particular, may display necrotic regions within the fruit that may scar and otherwise deform it. Grapes may be severely injured when a feeding stink bug inserts a needlelike mouthpart into a grape to consume juice. A team effort by the Extension and the public will be needed to watch for this pest, Montgomery said. For more about this invasive species, go online to the Illinois Cooperative Agricultural Pest Survey website at {www.ncipmc.org/alerts/sti nkbug_alert.pdf}.


FarmWeek Page 6 Monday, April 11, 2011

ENVIRONMENT

Scholl: Outreach one remedy for federal ‘overreach’ BY MARTIN ROSS FarmWeek

Producers, businesses, and even sound stewardship can get lost in the potentially murky ground between regulatory intent and federal implementation, American Farmland Trust (AFT) President Jon Scholl warns Wash-

ing key stewardship improvements. Regulatory excess has become a key concern for farmers as EPA eyes pesticide permit requirements, greenhouse gas regulations, and new water quality/nutrient standards. Agency development and enforcement of rules pos-

approach to standards enforcement included random compliance checks. Where corporations that devote staff resources to compliance and environmental liability are far more prepared to address challenges, many producers may not always know their rights or understand all

‘ Putting (producers) in a vulnerable situation distracts attraction from the constructive kinds of solutions producers are willing to engage in if they have the flexibility they need and the information that helps them understand what’s going to happen when an inspection takes place .’ — Jon Scholl President, American Farmland Trust

ington lawmakers. The former U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) ag counselor testified regarding “the impact of the overreach of federal regulation on business” during a House Natural Resources Water and Power Subcommittee hearing last week. Scholl stressed the need for a balanced blend of environmental incentives and regulations, and regulatory certainty possibly in the form of a “safe harbor” for producers who already are implement-

sibly could cause “more problems than the regulations themselves,” Scholl told FarmWeek. He noted livestock producers have been “in the crosshairs more than anyone else.” EPA should enable operators to manage manure as “a product that has real value” rather than play a “gotcha game” with overly prescriptive standards and penalties triggered by “minor or trivial points,” Scholl said. During Scholl’s tenure with EPA, the agency’s typical

the complexities of evolving standards and can wind up “behind the eight ball,” he said. “(Federal officials) could really help them focus on the options they have available and how they can get the support to implement practices that not only helps them solve the problem but also helps them stay in business,” Scholl said. “Putting them in a vulnerable situation distracts attraction from the constructive kinds of solutions producers

are willing to engage in if they have the flexibility they need and the information that helps them understand what’s going to happen when an inspection takes place.” Scholl applauded Congress’ backlash against regulatory excess, citing House efforts to block EPA National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) pesticide applicator permits. Given the rigorous federal pesticide approval process already in place, Scholl called EPA’s plan a “poster child” for regulatory frustration. He suggests debate over and a Farm Bureau-sup-

ported lawsuit challenging planned nutrient management requirements within the eastern Chesapeake Bay may provide a better way of dealing with environmental issues. Reps. Tim Holden (D-Pa.) and Bob Goodlatte (R-Va.) are sponsoring a measure that would restructure efforts to restore the watershed. Future watershed efforts require a collaborative approach that includes “some level of public support to make sure farmers can bear costs that might come along with installing certain practices,” said Scholl.

‘Pay for performance’ path for ag stewards? With producer supports under the gun and environmental protection gaining ever-increasing attention, American Farmland Trust (AFT) President Jon Scholl suggests consideration of farm bill provisions that foster “conservation markets” of benefit to farmers and consumers. During a Washington roundtable sponsored last week by AFT, ag groups mulled a “pay for performance” concept aimed at further rewarding producers for advances in water quality and other key conservation improvements. Key to developing such a stewardship “market” are efforts to capture and measure environmental benefits various ag practices and technologies provide, Scholl said. Once those benefits could be quantified, values could be assigned to specific farm conservation practices. “In the process of reducing the amount of a particular pollutant or addressing an environmental concern, we could incentivize producers in taking actions that have the kind of impact we’re looking for,” Scholl told FarmWeek. For example, in the Ohio River basin, AFT efforts have enabled utilities under strict nitrogen limits to pay farmers to implement practices that reduce overall area nitrogen “load” and thus meet water quality standards. More widespread markets have arisen to reward reductions in nitrous oxide and sulfur oxide emissions. Applying that principle to ag conservation would require federal help in setting measurement “protocols” and developing tools that pinpoint specific producer gains, Scholl said. Farmers and environmentalists have stressed need for “edge-of-field” monitoring to track runoff reductions. Also crucial are the means to enable groups of producers to collectively provide verifiable proof of pollution reduction “credits” to regulators. Producer market information and technical/cost-share resources also are necessary, Scholl said. AFT continues to tout opportunities for producers to benefit from greenhouse gas reductions, though Scholl sees little chance in the near future of “any successful legislative effort” similar to the House’s recently failed regulationsbased greenhouse “cap-and-trade” bill. However, he argued “workable” strategies to help producers adapt to potential climate change will be an important component in farm bill debate. Scholl notes many well-established ag practices that help lower greenhouse emissions also “have other environmental benefits.” “No-till’s a good example,” he said. “I’m a big believer in getting to the point where methane digesters can be a more economically viable option for producers. Both offer the opportunity to take and keep bad stuff out of the air and, if done properly, maybe even provide additional economic opportunities for producers.” — Martin Ross


Page 7 Monday, April 11, 2011 FarmWeek

MARKET USDA lowers price forecast

Stocks estimates surprise the trade

BY DANIEL GRANT FarmWeek

It seems only fitting the April crop production report was released during the opening week of major league baseball as USDA on Friday basically threw the trade a curveball. Many traders expected the Ag Department last week to tighten ending stocks of corn and soybeans after its March 31 report indicated heavier usage of both crops.

USDA instead left ending stocks unchanged at 675 million bushels for corn and 140 million bushels for soybeans.

FarmWeekNow.com Yo u c a n l i s t e n t o H e l e n Pound’s analysis of the April supply and demand report at FarmWeekNow.com.

“Traders expected (stronger corn and soy usage indicated in the March 31 grain stocks report) to translate into this

China could be back for more U.S. corn China, after reportedly making the sixth-largest purchase of U.S. corn (49 million bushels) last month, could be back for more despite high corn prices. Economic growth in China and throughout Asia is placing stronger-than-expected demands on livestock, poultry, and dairy supplies, the U.S. Grains Council (USGC) reported last week. Thomas Dorr, president and CEO of USGC, recently traveled to China and reported sources there indicated China’s state corn reserves could be 390 million to 472 million bushels less than previous projections for the 2011/12 crop year. “After reviewing the figures with a number of sources, I believe it is possible China will purchase another two to three million tons (79 million to 118 million bushels) of corn prior to the end of the 2010/2011 crop year,” Dorr said. “Chinese buyers ideally would like five to seven million tons (197 million to 276 million bushels) but realize present global inventories may not accommodate this added demand.” The Chinese returned to the world corn market as a buyer last year when they purchased 59 million bushels from the U.S. Overall, China was a net importer of corn last year for the first time since 1995. The Chinese also have increased purchases of soybeans and wheat. If the U.S. is to capture long-term value from this change in the U.S./China corn trade relationship, Dorr said he believes it is important both countries develop a system that adequately signals demand. A critical component of the relationship will be China’s ability to work with U.S. suppliers to provide accurate readings of production estimates and carryover stocks. “U.S. farmers need consistent signals and, if given the correct ones, they will step up to the task at hand,” Dorr added. “Chinese buyers and end-users need to be transparent with regard to becoming a sustainable market.”

report,” said Helen Pound, analyst with Penson Futures, during a teleconference hosted by the Minneapolis Grain Exchange. “But I can’t find hide nor hair of those numbers” in Friday’s report, she said. Pound described the market as “confused” after the report was released. She predicted crop prices could slip nearterm. “This is not a bullish report,” Pound said. “After the big run-up in prices after the March 31 report, we may have a fair amount of retracement to do in order to find some support in the market.” USDA in its world ag supply and demand estimates report on Friday lowered its projected marketing year average prices by 35 cents per bushel on the high side for soybeans (to a range of

$11.25 to $11.75), 10 cents for wheat (to a range of $5.50 to $5.70), and 5 cents for corn (to a range of $5.20 to $5.60).

Carryover vs. usage remained extremely tight for both crops at 5 percent for corn and 4 percent for soybeans.

‘ We may have a fair amount of retracement to do in order to find some support in the market.’ — Helen Pound Penson Futures

The projected amount of corn used for ethanol was raised 50 million bushels, but feed use subsequently was reduced by that same amount. Meanwhile, world corn production was raised 1.2 million tons (47 million bushels) while Brazilian soybean production was raised 73 million bushels to a record 2.6 billion bushels.

There currently is no shortage of wheat, though. USDA lowered ending stocks by 5 million bushels but the carryover vs. usage is a “burdensome” 34 percent, Pound said. Traders currently are keeping a close eye on planting progress, or a lack thereof, but Pound said “it’s too early to bet one way or another on yields.”


FarmWeek Page 8 Monday, April 11, 2011

PRODUCTION

Rain in Brazil hampering harvest progress I left our farm in Goias less than 30 hours ago at this writing. It was still raining there, and we are still trying to get our beans Phil Corzine harvested between the rains. We finally hit the half-way mark on Wednesday, but it rained both nights I was there — 2 inches one night and an inch and a quarter the next. Bean moistures had dropped to about 16 percent during a four-day-run of dry weather

but were closer to 20 percent when I left. Fortunately, the excessive rains haven’t created significant losses or damage beyond the moisture dockage, and the Pioneer 98Y11 beans we have planted on the remaining half of the farm are just ready to cut. Their cycle has been extended by at least two weeks due to the continued rains.

The first half of the farm is going to average about 48 bushels per acre — pretty much right at our expectations, although we probably would have been in the mid50s if we not had a 32-day drought in December. I also visited a farm at the far northern edge of the state of Minas Gerais. The owner indicated that this crop, with

the mid-season drought followed by this deluge of harvest rains, has been one of the toughest in many years. The rains are slowing us to a crawl at both of our farms in Tocantins as well. At Araguacu, our second variety appears to be yielding about 48-50 bushels per acre, but it’s a stop-and-go harvest with the later planting, longer cycle varieties, and the continuing rains. At this rate, we may still be cutting beans into May. The first two varieties we harvested at Araguacu were conventional, and we sold them to a small local company

for a 71-cent-per-bushel premium. The current price for commodity beans in Tocantins is about $11.25 per bushel. Higher soybean prices are pushing up the cost of land rent in Brazil as well. Last year we rented land in Goias for about $75 per acre, but the asking price for top-producing farms in the same region this year is $110 to 125 per acre. Phil Corzine is general manager of South American Soy, a global production management and investment company. His e-mail address is pcorzine@agpage.com.

Cold soils slow planting progress — for now BY DANIEL GRANT FarmWeek

Farmers have been advised in recent weeks to avoid planting corn into cold soils. But that recommendation will change soon, regardless of the weather as

the month grows older. The statewide temperature a week ago averaged just 42.7 degrees, about 5 degrees below normal. Soil temperatures as a result remained on the cool side prior to last weekend. Tempera-

ture readings of bare soil at the 4-inch depth on Thursday were just 42.5 degrees in DeKalb, 42.8 degrees in Freeport, 45.6 degrees in Peoria, 47.8 degrees in Springfield, 51 degrees in Carbondale, and 51.8 degrees in Kilbourne, the

Illinois State Water Survey (ISWS) reported. Kevin Black, insect/plant disease technical manager with GROWMARK, recommended farmers wait, if possible, until the soil temperature reaches 55 degrees before planting corn. “We recommend that soil temperature be used as the best indicator of when corn planting should begin,” Black said. But that recommendation could change as early as this week. Illinois farmers as of the first of last week had planted just 1 percent of the corn crop, according to the National Agricultural Statistics Service Illinois field office. “As we near mid-April, soil temperature will lose out to the calendar as the best trigger for planting corn,” Black said. Emerson Nafziger, University of Illinois Extension agronomist, said early planting

gives farmers time to replant corn if a portion of their crop is drowned out by spring rains. “While we hope that we won’t need to replant, another advantage of very early planting is that if we need to replant, it can be done early enough to avoid large penalties from late planting,” Nafziger said. However, Nafziger does not expect corn planted in the first half of April to yield better than corn planted the second half of April. Therefore, he recommended farmers plant early only if seedbed conditions are favorable. In particular, if it is wet, growers should not try to get back in fields too soon, he advised. Farmers can check daily soil temperature reading by visiting the ISWS website at {www.isws.illinois.edu/warm/ soiltemp.asp}.


Page 9 Monday, April 11, 2011 FarmWeek

PRODUCTION

U of I agronomist: Continuous corn suffered in 2010 The 2010 season was a disappointing one for corn growers in many parts of Illinois, said University of Illinois Extension agronomist Emerson Nafziger.

‘ We k n o w f r o m history that a good fall doesn’t a l w ay s m e a n a good crop the following year.’ —Emerson Nafziger U of I Extension agronomist

The statewide average yield was only 157 bushels per acre, just 4.2 bushels higher than the U.S. average, and the thirdworst yield in the past decade. Over the past 10 years, the Illinois corn yield has averaged 13.7 bushels per acre above the U.S. national average and has been below the national average only once (by 4.9 bushels in 2005) and above it by as much as 25.1 bushels (2008). “The major problem in 2010 was heavy rainfall in June that resulted in standing water and saturated soils, which in turn resulted in nitrogen loss and damage to root systems which could not be repaired,” Nafziger said. “As a result, affected fields

and parts of fields ended up with shortages of both nitrogen and water, problems made worse by high temperatures and early maturity, and in some cases by dry weather during the latter part of the grain-filling period.” Corn-following-corn was hit particularly hard in 2010, and there were more reports of larger yield penalties for corn-following-corn compared to corn-following-soybeans than had been the case for a number of years, he added. In research trials conducted since 2003, Nafziger saw similar results. He has been comparing continuous corn, corn rotated with soybeans, and corn following either corn or soybeans in a corn-corn-soybean rotation. Nafziger said the rule of thumb for many years has been that corn-following-corn yields about 10 percent less than corn-following-soybeans, but he said the difference varies depending on the year. Despite the relatively poor performance of corn-following-corn in 2010, Nafziger said most indications are that may not be the case this year. “Field and soil conditions are much different than they were a year ago,” he said. “None of the factors of a year ago — late fall harvest, poor tillage conditions, lots of fresh residue on the surface, and much nitrogen yet to apply —

Extension offering interactive materials for K-8 students University of Illinois Extension is offering colorful educational materials that are high-quality, interactive, and affordable for students in kindergarten through eighth grade. The program “Schools Online 2,” is a CD-ROM that features eight of the latest and most-popular curricula from Extension’s award-winning Schools Online website. These curricula include: •Fresh from the World ... Where Your Food Comes From, which focuses on how food is produced and travels from faroff places to the dinner table. • Food Fun from Apples to Zucchini introduces students to fruits and vegetables, both familiar ones and some they may never have tasted. •The Great Corn Adventure traces the history, science, and economic importance of one of the world’s most important crops. All of the curricula were designed by experienced, award-winning educators who understand the needs of both teachers and learners, according to Jane Scherer, urban programs and Web development specialist with U of I Extension. The self-paced lessons are designed to help students strengthen their skills in science, math, social studies, and language arts. Each of the lessons includes a teacher’s guide with variety of fun activities to extend and reinforce students’ learning. Copies of the U of I Extension’s Schools Online 2 CDROM may be ordered online at {http://urbanext.illinois.edu/SchoolsOnline/CD/}. Copies of Schools Online Volume 1, featuring nine other curricula, also are available. Each CD sells for $16.99, including postage and handling.

exists this spring. We did a massive amount of tillage last fall, in some cases perhaps more than was necessary.” One additional benefit for producers is that it has not been wet for extended periods when soil temperatures were warm since nitrogen was applied last fall. Most of

the nitrogen should still be present, with a good deal of it still in the ammonium form and not as subject to loss. “Though we can certainly feel good about preparations we’ve been able to make for this spring, we know from history that a good fall doesn’t

always mean a good crop the following year,” Nafziger cautioned. “Soils are starting to dry out nicely in some areas, but we need to be careful not to undo the compaction relief provided by last fall’s tillage by driving on soils before they’re dry enough.”

FSA offers loans to upgrade, expand farm storage Farmers considering upgrading or adding extra storage space for harvested crops this spring should be aware of the Farm Service Agency’s (FSA) Farm Storage Facility Loan program, said Scherrie Giamanco, FSA Illinois state executive director. The program provides low-interest loans for building or upgrading storage facilities. The maximum principal amount of a loan through the program has increased to $500,000 per structure. Participants are required to provide a down payment of 15 percent, with the Commodity Credit Corp. (CCC) providing a loan for the remaining 85 percent of the net cost of the eligible storage facility and permanent drying and handling equipment. Loan terms of seven, 10, or 12 years are now available depending on the amount of the loan. Interest rates for each loan term are different and are based on the rate at which the CCC borrows from the Treasury Department.

Currently, interest rates are 2.75 percent for a seven-year loan, 3.375 percent for a 10-year loan, and 3.625 for a 12-year loan; however, interest rates change monthly. Payments also are available in the form of a partial disbursement and a remaining final disbursement. The partial disbursement will be available after a portion of the construction has been completed. The final fund disbursement will be made when all construction is completed. The maximum amount of the partial disbursement will be 50 percent of the projected and approved total loan amount. The partial disbursement is available only on the portion already constructed. Loan applications must be submitted to the FSA county office that maintains the farm’s records. A loan must be approved before any site preparation or construction can begin. For more information, visit your FSA county office or go online to {www.fsa.usda.gov}.


FarmWeek Page 10 Monday, April 11, 2011

EDUCATION

Farm Credit donations sowing seeds of learning, leadership BY KAY SHIPMAN FarmWeek

The charitable donation from 1st Farm Credit Services (FCS) had different meanings for the recipients who received checks last week through the IAA Foundation. To Sarah Song with Facilitating Coordination in Agricultural Education (FCAE), the funds mean low-income Chicago students will have an opportunity to develop agricultureexperience or agri-science projects. To Denise Legvold with the Illinois 4-H Foundation, the money is a stable source of funding for 4-H programs that will focus on science literacy. To Bob Aherin with AgrAbility Unlimited, the dollars will support farmers with disabilities “to continue to do what they love.” Last week, the IAA Foundation awarded the first distribution of $75,000 from 1st FCS’ donor-advised fund, which is managed through Country Trust Bank. The funding was divided

among: the University of Illinois College of Agricultural, Consumer, Environmental Sciences: $17,500; Illinois State University Department of Agriculture: $5,000; and Western Illinois University School of Agriculture: $5,000. Other recipients were: Illinois Agriculture in the Classroom: $15,000; Illinois Ag Leadership Foundation: $15,000; Illinois FFA: $4,000; Illinois 4-H: $4,000; AgrAbility Unlimited: $4,500; and the Cook County Farm Bureau Foundation: $5,000 for the Chicago students’ ag and science projects. “Seeing these first dollars going to groups that promote agriculture education,

youth, and leadership confirms that our $1 million gift

will benefit current and future generations of Illinois farmers. This is a longterm commitment we want to make,” said Gary Ash, 1st FCS president and chief executive officer. In December, 1st FCS established the fund through the IAA Foundation with a $1 million investment. The plan is to continue distributing funds over the next 12 to 15 years, according to Ash. Steve Cowser, a Bradford farmer and chairman of the 1st FCS board, said his fellow board members were intrigued by some of the programs and projects that will receive funds.

“First Farm Credit feels very strongly about giving back to the community and supporting education,” Cowser added. Song explained the Chicago pilot program will allow students in four high schools to apply for mini-grants of up to $150 through the Cook County FB Foundation. The students, primarily from lowincome families, would not be able to afford an ag-based entrepreneur or science project otherwise, she added. “This donation will not only help support agriculture today, but well into the future,” concluded Susan Moore, IAA Foundation director.

Grads: Illinois ag ed good training for any career Regardless of their chosen career field, in or out of agriculture, young people in Illinois consistently find agricultural education provides them tools necessary for success, according to several graduates of Illinois high school ag programs. “What we often see with agricultural education students

going to college is that their coursework has prepared them for the next level,” said Jay Runner, coordinator of Facilitating Coordination in Agricultural Education (FCAE). “FFA prepares them for public speaking, leadership, job experience, and more. They overcome limitations or

challenges they face coming from small communities or high schools. An agricultural background brings a lot to the table.” Jake Butcher, Mt. Auburn, is a good example. Butcher attended Taylorville High School, grew up on a grain and livestock farm, and participated in agricultural education and FFA. After graduating from the University of Illinois with a degree in agriculture and consumer economics, he worked on Illinois legislative races and as a legislative liaison for the Illinois Department of Insurance. He now is attending Drake University Law School and will receive his law degree in May. Butcher said his high school agriculture teachers taught him the importance of hard work, attention to detail, and the team-building skills that have contributed to his success. “Without these opportunities, I would not have chosen this career pathway. My high school agricultural education prepared me for public speaking and public service,” he said. Amanda Runner also is using her agricultural education background in a non-agriculture career. Runner grew up on a farm and graduated from Colchester High School where she took ag classes and was active in FFA. Runner said she knew she wanted a business career in a big city. “I had the opportunity to spend time in Chicago, and that really opened my eyes to possibilities in finance,” Runner said. “I have found over the last several years that my background in ag education has provided transferable skills to fields outside of agriculture.” Runner majored in economics at Northwestern University and served an internship at the

Chicago Mercantile Exchange. “My agriculture background opened doors as I built skills in other areas,” she said. “After graduation, I worked for Bain Consulting in Chicago and in Amsterdam. Again, my background was useful with so many industries tied to agriculture.” Currently, she is attending Harvard Business School, and will graduate this year with a master’s degree in business administration. Colleen Dickinson Anderson did not grow up on a farm but attended a rural high school in Amboy. She convinced her parents to let her take an ag class as a freshman. “I had seen all that FFA did and stood for, and I wanted to be part of that,” Anderson said. She took ag courses throughout high school and served as the 2001-02 Illinois FFA president. After experiencing emergency medical technician training, Anderson switched her college major from ag education and communication to health sciences. “Agricultural education prepared me with the right study skills and for leadership roles on campus,“ she said. Anderson studied rural medicine in the U of I College of Medicine program in Rockford. She worked one semester with a family practitioner in Oregon, Ill., and earned her medical degree. Now Anderson interviews and mentors rural medicine students in Rockford. “Students interested in agriculture will find they are absolutely not putting themselves behind academically by taking agriculture classes to prepare for any career,” she said. “It is quite the opposite. Agriculture classes provide realworld training and great college preparation.”


Page 11 Monday, April 11, 2011 FarmWeek


FarmWeek Page 12 Monday, April 11, 2011

COUNTY SPOTLIGHT

Popcorn bags used to promote image of farmers BY ELAINE STONE

Fulton County Farm Bureau is taking the “Farmer Image” message to sporting venues in Fulton County-area schools. The Public Relations Committee designed popcorn bags using the Illinois Farm Fami-

lies logo that was created by the coalition groups that funded the recent farmer image study. The bags feature the slogan “Growing Your Food With Care.” Fulton County FB President Randy Farr said he

believes the popcorn bags are a great way to dispel some misconceptions about farming. “One of the most concerning facts coming from the consumer research done last year is that those surveyed estimate that fewer than half of Illinois farms are familyowned. Actually, 94 percent of Illinois farms are family owned,” he said. “Farmers need to let consumers know that we are family farmers. By making it personal to the consumers, we can let them know that we take care of the land, the animals, and grow crops to provide for our families as well as theirs.” A total of 4,000 bags was printed and in the coming

Tysin Stone, son Jeff and Elaine Stone, Lewistown, enjoys popcorn from the new farmer-image promotion bag while waiting for the Lewistown Indians to take to the diamond in early April. (Photo by Elaine Stone, Fulton County Farm Bureau manager)

months will be given to some of the eight school districts in Fulton County.

“We’ll make them stretch as far as we can, then we will either reprint these or create ones with a new message for the remainder

of the schools,” said Farr. Elaine Stone is manager of Fulton County Farm Bureau. She can be reached at 309-547-3011.

Old-growth tree stumps show fires altered Midwest ecology Illinois researchers have constructed a 226-year history of fire in Southern Illinois by studying the fire scars in tree stumps. Their study reveals changes in fire frequency dating back to early European settlement permanently altered the region’s ecology. The researchers took advantage of a 1996 timber harvest of old-growth post-oak trees in Hamilton County. “I was just amazed at the fire scars in these trees,” said William McClain, a botanist with the Illinois State Museum. “I knew that the information that was in these tree trunks was really, really valuable.” McClain led the study with researchers John Ebinger and Greg Spyreas of the Illinois Natural History Survey at the University of Illinois. McClain counted growth rings, fire scars, and other distinguishing features of the old-growth post-oak trees. Luckily for the researchers, the fire-damaged trees had repeatedly healed, retaining their heartwood despite having been injured by numerous intense fires. The new study confirms that the people, who lived in Illinois before the European settlers arrived, set fires in the region nearly every year. Fires in the Hamilton County woodland happened at least every two or three years, McClain said. This repeated burning actually stabilized the prairies and open woodlands that dominated the region until the late 19th century, when the fire-suppression efforts of the new settlers allowed different plant species to take over, the researchers said. The researchers found evidence of more than 100 fires in Hamilton County between the 1770s and 1996, when the trees were cut down. Prior to 1850, the woodlands burned roughly every two years. A “fire-free” interval followed between 1850 and 1885, as settlers rapidly colonized the area and suppressed fires. Then in 1885, the fire scars appeared again, probably as a result of the localized burning of woodlots, which was a tradition in the region in the late 1800s and early 1900s, the researchers said. “These smaller, less intense fires were probably started to enhance forage quality for livestock, improve visibility for hunting, and to reduce the amount of flammable material in the underbrush,” Spyreas said. But by that time the previously “open woodlands,” with limited shade and even a few prairie plants growing in the understory had become a dense forest with lots of shade. The shade-intolerant post oaks could not compete with fast-growing, shade-loving species, which until 1850 had been kept in check by frequent fires. After the brief period of fire suppression, only established postoaks could survive as other tree species closed in around them; the shade was already too dense for post-oak seedlings to survive. “For hundreds, maybe thousands of years, this was a stable postoak woodland,” Spyreas said. “And then you have a gap of a couple of decades where there were no fires and suddenly the whole system is completely different. It’s amazing how, from Kansas to Ohio, these ecosystems completely depend on fire to be stable.”


Page 13 Monday, April 11, 2011 FarmWeek

FROM THE COUNTIES

C

OOK — The Member Relations Team will sponsor a workshop on preparing wills and trusts and transferring non-title property from 7 to 9 p.m. Wednesday, April 20, at the JC Restoration Building, 3200 Squibb Ave., Rolling Meadows. Call the Farm Bureau office at 708354-3276 for reservations or more information. • The Member Relations Team will sponsor a free shred day from 10 a.m. to noon Saturday, April 30, at the Rolling Meadows Country Financial Building. Call the Farm Bureau office at 708-354-3267 for reserva-

tions or more information. • The Commodities/Marketing Team and the University of Illinois Extension will sponsor “Farming Fundamentals: Know Your Food, Be a Farmer” program from 9 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. Saturday, June 11, at the Farm Bureau office. Cost is $10 for the lunch. Reservations are available online at {http://web.extension.illinois. edu/cook/}. “From the counties” items are submitted by county Farm Bureau managers. If you have an event or activity open to all members, contact your county Farm Bureau manager.

Exclusive Ford rebate program available to IFB members The Illinois Farm Bureau Rewards Program recently rolled out a new benefit for IFB members who are in the market for a new vehicle. IFB members are eligible to receive $500 bonus cash from Ford Motor Co. for the purchase or lease of any eligible 2010, 2011, or 2012 Ford or Lincoln vehicle. The exclusive offer is valid through Jan. 3, 2012, and is good for any eligible Ford or Lincoln car, truck, or sports utility vehicle (excluding Mustang Shelby GT, Shelby GT 500, Edge SE AWD, F-150 Raptor, and Taurus SE). A person must be an IFB member in good standing for 60 days prior to purchase to be eligible for the rebate program. IFB members interested in the discount should visit the website {www.fordspecialoffer.com/farmbureau/il} to obtain a certificate number that can be presented to local Ford or Lincoln dealers to redeem the incentive.

Auction Calendar Wed., Apr. 13. 10 a.m. Real Estate Auction. Richard Eckberg Sr., PRINCETON, IL. Aumann Auctions. www.aumannauctions.com Sat., Apr. 16. 1 p.m. Real Estate Auction. The Agnes Hermeling Estate, GERMANTOWN, IL. Mark Krausz Auction Service. krauszauctions.com Sat., Apr. 16. 9 a.m. Spring Consignment Auction. NITE Eq., PECATONICA, IL. www.niteequip.com Sat., Apr. 16. Consignment Auction. Bobcat of Madison, MADISON, WI. Powers Auction Service. www.powersauctions.com Sat., Apr. 16. 9 a.m. Consignment Auction. Nite Eq., PECATONICA, IL. Jim Sacia, Dan Powers, Lenny Bryson and Cal Kaufman, Auctioneers. www.niteequip.com Sat., Apr. 16. 1 p.m. 2 Land Auctions. Cummings Estate and Estate of Marvin D. Johnson, ARGYLE, IL. Gordon Stade, Auctioneer. www.gordonstadeauctions.com Thurs., Apr. 21. 10 a.m. Farmland LaSalle Co. Randy Graham Estate and James R. Graham, KERNAN, IL. Bradleys’ and Immke Auction Service. www.bradleyauctionsinc.com Thurs., Apr. 21. 7 p.m. 60 Ac. Land Auction Jasper Co. Don and Gloria E Meyer, DIETERICH, IL. Auctions/Realty By Schackmann Inc. www.schackmann.com

Sat., Apr. 23. 10 a.m. Land Auction Pulaski Co. Buy a Farm Land and Auction Co. buyafarm.com Sat., Apr. 23. Consignment Auction. Black Hawk FFA Alumni, SOUTH WAYNE, WI. Powers Auction Service. www.powersauctions.com Tues., Apr. 26. 10 a.m. 85 Ac. Farmland Auction. Lorene Gerdes Estate, CISSNA PARK, IL. Bill Kruse, Auctioneer. Wed, Apr. 27. 10 a.m. 234.04 Ac. Ford Co. Gibson Hospital Foundation, GIBSON CITY, IL. Bill Kruse, Auctioneer. Sun., May 1. Consignment Auction. Orangeville Fireman’s, ORANGEVILLE, IL. Powers Auction Service. www.powersauctions.com Sat., May 7th at 10 a.m. Construction Eq., Trucks and Trailers and Misc. Hunters Ridge Development Auction, FREEPORT, IL. Powers Auction Service. www.powersauction.com Sat., May 7 . 9 a.m. Congerville Lawn and Garden, Farm and Construction Consignment Auction. CONGERVILLE, IL. Kaufman Auction Service. www.calkaufmanauction.com Sat., May 14. Lawn and Garden Consignment Auction. Riesterer and Schnell, HORTONVILLE, WI. Powers Auction Service. www.powestauctions.com Sat., June 11. 10 a.m. LaSalle Co. Land Auction. NEWARK, IL. Richard A. Olson, Auctioneer. richardaolson.com

Manager to retire after nearly half-century on the job BY DANIEL GRANT FarmWeek

A lot has changed in the ag industry in the last half century. Machinery has gotten bigger, the average U.S. corn yield more than doubled, and the number of farmers dwindled. But one constant in Southeastern Illinois the past 47plus years is Herman Ginder, manager of the Richland County Farm Bureau in Olney. Ginder’s first official day on the job was Nov. 1, 1963 — about three weeks before President Kennedy was assassinated in Dallas. It also was the same year Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. delivered his famous “I have a dream” speech, legendary golfer Jack Nicklaus won his first Master’s golf tournament, and audio cassettes were introduced. When Ginder retires on April 30, he will be the longestemployed county manager in Illinois Farm Bureau history. “One thing I’ve been blessed with is really good, interesting board members and presidents,” Ginder said. “If you have a good board and officers, you can get a lot done.” Ginder has worked with 15 different county presidents, five of whom have passed away. He attended every IFB annual meeting during his career, although he had to leave one meeting early for the birth of his daughter, Kristy, who now is 41. Last week during an inter-

Stan Crites, left, president of the Richland County Farm Bureau, exchanges ideas with longtime county manager Herman Ginder at the county Farm Bureau office in Olney. Ginder will retire April 30 after 47.5 years on the job. Crites is the 15th Richland County Farm Bureau president Ginder has served under. (Photo by Ken Kashian)

view with FarmWeek, Ginder reflected on his career. “When I was a kid, everybody had cattle, hogs, and maybe some sheep, chickens, and turkeys,” Ginder said. “You grew a lot of your crops to feed the livestock. Anymore, it’s all specialized.” Ginder also has the distinction of serving farmers in the same county where he grew up. He was raised on a farm near the small town of Amity. “I was the youngest of seven kids. I knew there wouldn’t be any room for me on the farm,” he said. “I went into auto parts sales for a few years, then got wind there were some openings for Farm Bureau managers, (got the job in Richland County), and it

worked out fine. There were a lot of good years.” Looking ahead, Ginder believes potential Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) regulations pose one of the biggest threats to the ag industry. “A lot of things we used to take for granted, now you’re going to have to get a permit,” he said. “Farm Bureau (members) need to be ready for all the different regulations (EPA) is going to throw at them.” Fortunately for Ginder, about the only permit he’ll have to worry about after April 30 is possibly a fishing license. “I have four grandchildren. I plan to take them fishing and just relax,” he said of his retirement plans.


FarmWeek Page 14 Monday, April 11, 2011

PROFITABILITY

Spring is here — is your farm equipment ready? BY MATT THOMAS

It is spring, and planting is right around the corner. Is your equipment ready? One of the leading causes of equipment breakdown is improper fuel quality management, and we all know that each Matt Thomas minute spent broken down costs money. Your local FS energy specialists go through extensive training to ensure they know

all the signs of contaminated fuel in order to prevent breakdowns. They can identify the issue and correct it before it gets to your equipment. Any fuel can become contaminated during storage regardless of the delivered quality. I say this to reassure you that the fuel you are receiving is high quality. More often than not, it is a tank in poor condition that contaminates stored fuel. GROWMARK facility equipment developed the phrase “Pre-Ventative Maintenance” as part of the training

program covering the tools to insure proper fuel quality management. The first tool in that toolbox is the Pre-Vent cap. A Pre-Vent cap is designed to reduce condensation in fuel storage tanks. Condensation, or water, is the foundation for all fuel quality issues, as it allows for rust, corrosion, phase separation, and microbial growth. Ordinary fill caps allow condensation and rain water to enter the tank, but a Pre-Vent cap diverts the water away from the tank.

Once water has entered the tank, there are several ways to remove it. Proper storage tank filtration is a crucial piece of Pre-Ventative maintenance. Storage tank filters perform a multitude of tasks. Some are designed to remove water from the fuel and some filter to a very minute size. New equipment engines demand an extremely cleanburning diesel fuel, which in turn creates a demand for two-micron storage tank filters. Making sure your storage tank is filtering at the same micron size your equip-

ment requires means less downtime due to plugged equipment filters. The use of all of these tools combined can reduce equipment downtime considerably during the busy planting season. Keep this in mind: “A proactive approach prevents most reactive actions.” Have a safe and maintenance-free spring. Matt Thomas is GROWMARK’s facility equipment product manager. His e-mail address is mthomas@growmark.com.

Good corn crop critical to keep pace with world demand Yield must average at least 159 bushels BY DANIEL GRANT FarmWeek

A jump in corn acres this season will help U.S. farmers meet growing demand for their crop. USDA last month projected farmers in 2011 will plant the second-largest corn crop (92.2 million acres) since 1944. However, with corn demand projected to total between 13.5 billion and 13.6 billion bushels this year, yields will be the key to determining whether the U.S. can rebuild stocks or if the market will be forced to ration

demand, according to Darrel Good, University of Illinois Extension economist. “A yield of 159 (bushels per acre) is the threshold number,” Good told FarmWeek. “We need to be above that Darrel Good or increase acres (to meet current corn demand projections).” A national corn yield average of 159 bushels per acre this year would produce about a 13.55-billionbushel corn crop, based on the current acreage projection, according to Good.

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 $33.74-51.65 $40.32 $61.00-74.65 $70.12 n/a n/a This Week Last Week 29,040 34,532 *Eastern Corn Belt prices picked up at seller’s farm

Eastern Corn Belt direct hogs (plant delivered) Carcass Live

(Prices $ per hundredweight) This week Prev. week $92.70 $88.04 $68.60 $65.15

Change 4.66 3.45

USDA five-state area slaughter cattle price Steers Heifers

This week 122.68 121.00

(Thursday’s price) Prv. week Change 112.36 0.32 122.38 -1.38

CME feeder cattle index — 600-800 Lbs. This is a composite price of feeder cattle transactions in 27 states. (Prices $ per hundredweight) Prev. week Change 134.13 1.94

This week 136.07

Lamb prices Slaughter Prices - Negotiated, Live, wooled and shorn 125-180 lbs. for 157200 $/cwt.(wtd. ave. 186.59); dressed, no sales reported.

Export inspections (Million bushels)

Week ending Soybeans Wheat Corn 3-31-11 23.1 29.5 39.1 3-24-11 30.9 29.7 43.8 Last year 17.6 21.2 42.7 Season total 1299.4 997.3 1004.0 Previous season total 1261.6 713.0 1022.1 USDA projected total 1580 1275 1950 Crop marketing year began June 1 for wheat and Sept. 1 for corn and soybeans.

“That would mean there will be no room to expand use or stocks next year,” Good said. A “trend” yield of 162 bushels per acre, though, would produce a 13.835-billion-bushel corn crop and boost ending stocks from 675 million bushels to about 870 million bushels. And, if farmers could match the record corn yield of 164.7 bushels per acre recorded in 2009, this year’s harvest would surpass 14 billion bushels and ending stocks would total more than 1.1 billion bushels, according to projections by the Renewable Fuels Association. “That (a trend yield of 162 bushels per acre) would give us a little breathing room,” Good said. On the flipside, a repeat of last year’s disappointing corn yield averages of about 153 bushels per acre nationwide and 157 bushels in Illinois could be a disaster. “A repeat of last year would be a real problem,” Good said. “Not only would there be no carry, but we would have to cut consumption.” Corn consumption so far this year has not showed signs of slowing down despite the fact CME Group corn futures prices last week surpassed the record-high ($7.65) set in June 2008. Ethanol production in March increased 6 percent compared to March 2009. “Current blending and production margins point to a continued high rate of ethanol production,” Good said. Meanwhile, the most recent USDA livestock reports showed the number of cattle in feedlots on March 1 was up 5 percent compared to the same time last year. The inventory of market

Traders are expected to scrutinize potential corn yield all season as supplies are at a 15-year low. A repeat of last year’s national yield (about 153 bushels per acre) would drop ending stocks even lower. A trend yield (162) would boost ending stocks by about 200 million bushels to 870 million bushels, and a repeat of the record yield (165) of 2009 or above would push stocks back above 1 billion bushels, based on projections by the Renewable Fuels Association.

hogs on March 1 was up 1 percent compared to last year, and the number of milk cows in February also was up 1 percent compared to a year ago. “A slowdown in feed use does not appear imminent,” Good said. The situation, therefore, puts a great deal of pressure on farmers to increase corn

production compared to last year. “It appears consumption is progressing at a rate that cannot be sustained by available supplies,” Good added. “In the heart of the Corn Belt, we need pretty good weather from beginning to the end” of the growing season to alleviate the pressure.


FarmWeek Page 15 Monday, April 11, 2011

PROFITABILITY Corn Strategy

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

Focus on grain will shift to new crop In the wake of the March 31 quarterly grain stocks report, the trade geared up for USDA to lower its ending stocks projections for corn and soybeans, especially the former. USDA surprised the trade again, only this time with estimates that had negative overtones. In particular, the trade was expecting USDA to significantly lower the corn ending stocks estimate because the March 1 stocks were about 200 million bushels less than expected. Many felt the miss implied demand for corn for feed and ethanol consumption was running at a higher level than USDA had been building into its balance tables. But USDA supported the perspective we have been talking about in recent weeks; one that had wheat making its way into the feed bunk. Instead of USDA raising its feed consumption projection, it was lowered by 50 million bushels. And in accompanying verbiage, USDA explained wheat had become a more attractively priced feed across the South than corn. Wilmington LLC’s import of Canadian feed wheat four to five weeks ago was the first clue wheat had started to compete with corn as a feed. USDA didn’t raise its estimate for feed use on the oldcrop wheat supply/demand estimates as most of this feed-

Basis charts

ing should take place during the beginning of wheat’s new marketing year starting on June 1. We’ll get the first newcrop supply/demand projections on May 11, along with revised old-crop projections. Along with the shift to wheat feeding, USDA felt we’ll again see some feeding of newcrop corn ahead of Sept. 1, much like apparently occurred last year. This perspective is based on larger plantings than last year, and good early-planting progress in southern areas. But feeding of new-crop corn in the old-crop year puts more pressure on the need for a good new crop to meet next year’s potential demand. If anything, the persistent price strength into the start of planting should attract even larger acreage into corn, partially offsetting the shift in usage. USDA did increase the processing demand for corn 50 million bushels, largely because of strong ethanol demand, domestic and export. For soybeans, USDA lowered both its export and crush projections to counter what looks like a larger residual number this marketing year. But with export shipments only 30 million bushels ahead of last year, and the pace slowing, USDA needed to lower its forecast. The ag department has been using a 90million-bushel larger projection in recent months. The story is the same for soybean crush, although USDA had been projecting a 97-million-bushel smaller crush this year because of softer product export demand and weak processing margins. But last month’s crush number indicated the persistence of extremely poor processing margins may be slowing demand even a little more. The passing of these reports and the approach of planting will shift the focus to new-crop features and their implications for the fundamental structure. And as always, the outside markets — especially crude oil and currencies — will be the bigger day-to-day drivers. AgriVisor endorses crop insurance by

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2010 crop: Speculative buying carried July futures to new highs in the wake of the USDA stocks report. There’s evidence, confirmed by USDA, that supplies might be large enough to get us through the year. That puts the burden of higher levels on corn sentimentally following the lead of outside markets. Speculative interest could shift to December futures. Still, there’s a chance July futures could breach $8. If you’re risk prone, you might wait on a new high, but it still looks wise to use rallies to wrap up sales. Hedge-to-arrive (HTA) contracts for summer delivery are the best tool. 2011 crop: December futures held firm after surging to a new high. Use this surge for catch-up sales, especially if it moves close to its next target at $6.65. We could add to sales at any time. Fundamentals: Fundamentally, it may take issues with the new crop to support the market. But persistent high prices could boost plantings even more. And signs continue to indicate the La Nina may be waning, boosting chances for good yields.

Soybean Strategy 2010 crop: Slowly, export demand is shifting to South America. Domestic processing remains subdued because of poor meal demand and poor processing margins. Both were confirmed by USDA. Make catch-up sales any time May futures are above $13.75. 2011 crop: Uncertain new-crop fundamentals may continue to be somewhat supportive to new-crop prices. But the large South American crop may mitigate enthusiasm to some degree. Business flowing to South America may tend to undermine new-crop demand and prices. Use rallies for catch-up sales. Plan to add to them over the next few weeks. Fundamentals: USDA confirmed what daily/weekly data had been suggesting — that demand was slowing. There are signs Chinese demand in general may be moderating. The fundamental

focus will start to shift to newcrop, especially planting uncertainty, over the next few weeks.

Wheat Strategy 2010 crop: The May contract continues to trade in a choppy to sideways trend. However, if the Chicago May contract can penetrate $7.95, it would open the door for prices to test the last high at $8.37. With the carry in futures, it’s become more attractive to store old-crop into summer at least. Even then, we’d be pricing any old-crop deliveries for a later delivery period. 2011 crop: Use rallies

above $8.10 on Chicago July 2011 futures for catch-up sales. Check the Hotline frequently; we could recommend additional new-crop sales at any time. We still prefer HTA contracts. Fundamentals: Even though USDA reduced ending stocks slightly, 839 million bushels is still a big number. Potential for higher prices clearly remains tied to newcrop prospects. And even then, good prospects in the world, along with exportable supplies in India and Pakistan this year, could cause our export sector to underperform next year.


FarmWeek Page 16 Monday, April 11, 2011

PERSPECTIVES

CROSSING THE LINE Keep electricity safety in mind Farmers have plenty to do this spring. Let’s encourage them to add electricity safety to their to-do lists. The Energy Education Council has provided a timely reminder about the potential dangers of farming near and around power lines. Sadly, two teenagers working on a Southern Illinois farm were electrocuted recently when they tried to rescue a raccoon from inside a yet-to-beinstalled aluminum irrigation pipe. KAY Once upended, the pipe was blown SHIPMAN against an overhead power line. The Safe Electricity organization and its members remind farmers to avoid storing irrigation pipes under power lines and to not work with pipes near power lines when it is windy. Farmers also need to be aware that sprayer booms and other equipment extensions may come in contact with overhead power lines. Farmers and their employees have been injured and killed when farm equipment has touched power lines.

That safety hazard is the focus of this year’s Teach Learn Care (TLC) safety campaign. The campaign features the family of the late Central Illinois farmer Jim Flach. A video of the family’s story may be viewed online at {www.SafeElectricity.org}. Farm equipment with high-rising markers and overhead power lines can In 2001, Flach died from severe electri- be a deadly combination. The Energy Education Council/Safe Electricity cal burns, the result of an accident after a has a campaign to remind farmers to be alert when doing fieldwork this Terragator sprayer he was operating came spring. (Photo courtesy of Energy Education Council/Safe Electricity) into contact with an electric wire. If your equipment does come in contact with a Although no one witnessed the accident, experts power line, stay in the cab where you are grounded, speculated that Flach became the current’s path to the call for help, and wait until the power is shut off. ground when he climbed down from the cab. His son, Electrocutions on farms are the fourth highest of Brian, reflected the outcome would have been differany job classification, according to the National Instient if his father had stayed in the cab. Given the snow and ice that may have caused power tute of Occupational Health and Safety. As Flach’s widow, Marilyn, warns in the video lines to droop this past winter, farmers are encouraged about her husband: “You can never be too cautious to ensure they have adequate clearance for equipment at field entrances. If there isn’t enough clearance, con- when there are power lines around ... Double check, triple check. That’s a good rule to follow.” tact the local utility company to have the wire raised. Consider having a spotter to check as equipment moves to ensure there is adequate clearance from utili- Kay Shipman is the FarmWeek legislative affairs editor. Her e-mail address is kayship@ilfb.org. ty lines.

LETTERS TO THE EDITOR Many misinformed about organic farming Editor: I am an organic fruit and herb farmer, and I have several friends and neighbors who are successful organic grain and livestock farmers in Central Illinois. From my own experience, my observation of my neighbors’ experiences, and my reading of the peer-reviewed scientific literature (not pseudoscientific studies funded by companies that have a vested interest in the results), I know that it is family organic farming, not industrial-chemical farming that will “feed the world” — in both quantity and quality. But it’s not just me and my experiences. In recent years, a steady stream of peer-reviewed studies show that many of the writers of articles and letters in FarmWeek have been misled by the claims of companies whose quarterly profits depend upon widespread misinformation. Like a muscle man who depends upon steroids to keep himself pumped up, industrial agriculture relies on the extensive (and unsustainable) use of petrochemical fertilizers, herbicides, insecticides, fungicides, fuel, water, and continuous new investment to keep itself pumped up. I don’t have room to list all of the studies showing how organic farming has been proven to be more productive and better for people and the planet, so I will just mention the most recent one. A few weeks ago, the United

Nations Environmental Program released an advance copy of the report called “Agriculture: Investing in Natural Capital.” The report warns, in no uncertain terms, against continuing energy-intensive and input-intensive agribusiness as usual. In place of the industrial model, the report calls for “restoring and enhancing soil fertility through the increased use of naturally and sustainably produced nutrient inputs; diversified crop rotations; and livestock and crop integration.” In other words, it affirms the basic tenets of organic agriculture that more and more farmers are embracing worldwide. TERESA SANTIAGO, Eureka

Better ways to spend FutureGen money Editor: This letter is to inform your readers of the threat carbon dioxide sequestration poses to Illinois farm owners. The FutureGen Alliance has selected eastern Morgan County as the site for a carbon dioxide storage hub for emissions via pipeline from the Ameren power plant in Meredosia. FutureGen selected this site despite a petition in opposition by more than 330 local farmers, farm owners, and homeowners. The site must include 1,000 acres in a contiguous circle above the Mt. Simon sandstone formation, which contains the pore space necessary to store carbon dioxide emissions for a 30-year period.

FutureGen‘s long-range plans include expanding to 10 1,200 acre non-contiguous circles with a capacity to accept up to 500 million metric tons of carbon dioxide from a variety of industrial sources. Besides the high cost of carbon capture technology, the process also requires 35-40 percent more coal to produce the same amount of electricity. Conservative estimates of the increase in electric rates are 3567 percent for consumers. This is a 30-year experiment with many important questions. Senate Bill 1821 has been introduced and would grant eminent domain for pipeline easements for carbon dioxide sequestration. The geologic formation they wish to use for that storage is present over much of Illinois, so the threat of eminent domain could be widespread. I encourage all Farm Bureau members to contact their state legislators to oppose this bill. With carbon capture and storage, we’re simply trading one environmental hazard for another. Organizations such as Greenpeace and the Sierra Club do not think this process will aid in preventing global warming. If environmentalists don’t believe in this technology, it truly shows this is a scam by coal companies to sell more coal. The $1 billion in taxpayer money allocated for FutureGen would be better spent to find a safer, more long-term energy source. ANDY DAVENPORT, Ashland

Is underground C02 storage safe? Editor: The FutureGen project is coming to Morgan County with no input from farmers or citizens in the county. Carbon dioxide storage is still in the experimental stage. The FarmWeek article states the storage site is 4,000 feet underground. A Jan. 16 article in the Jacksonville Courier says 3,500 feet. The article in FarmWeek indicated this is an advantage over the originally considered Mattoon site (7,000-8,000 feet underground) as it would “reduce drilling costs.“ The corporation would benefit, but would it affect the safety of people? Also, it would benefit the corporation financially as it would not need more miles of pipeline from Meredosia. There’s real danger if C02 escapes from the storage site or pipeline, forming a cloud as described in Jeff Goodell’s book, “Big Coal” (2006, Houghton-Miffiin, p.225.) Goodell asks, “Do people

view it (C02 storage) as a smart underground recycling program or a dangerous way of burying their problems? The corporations may view it as just a way of getting rid of waste products and may be interested in doing it as cheaply as possible. “Who will make sure it’s buried responsibly and safely? Given Big Coal’s history of regulatory abuse, will people trust federal and state officials to make sure that power companies don’t cut corners?” How do landowners feel about living above the storage site? How do residents of Jacksonville, where two colleges and schools for the blind and deaf are located, feel about this big storage site in their county? How would Senator Durbin or Representative Schock feel about living in a home over the storage site with their families? How do citizens feel about the federal government paying $1 billion in stimulus funds when wealthy corporations should be paying the costs? CATHERINE EDMISTON, Abingdon

Letter policy Letters are limited to 300 words and must include a name and address. FarmWeek reserves the right to reject any letter and will not publish political endorsements. All letters are subject to editing, and only an original with a written signature and complete address will be accepted. A daytime telephone number is required for verification, but will not be published. Only one letter per writer will be accepted in a 30-day period. Typed letters are preferred. Send letters to: FarmWeek Letters 1701 Towanda Ave. Bloomington, Ill., 61701


FarmWeek April 11, 2011