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A neW CeO FOr Country Financial was named Friday to succeed John Blackbur n, who announced previously he would retire in January. ..............................2

As iF herBiCide-resistant waterhemp were not bad enough, now far mers have to be on the lookout for Palmer amaranth, which has invaded the South. .......8

T h e YO U n G L e A d e r s Achievement and Excellence in Ag awards were announced last week at the State Fair, a change from past practice. .................................11

OBAMA COMes Monday, August 22, 2011

Two sections Volume 39, No. 34

tO tOwn

Producers air concerns about regulation, trade budget, and taxes BY MARTIN ROSS FarmWeek

Periodicals: Time Valued

Taxes will be back on the table this fall, President Barack Obama told rural Illinoisans during Henry County “town hall” meetings last week. Between stops at the Whiteside County Fair and Galesburg High School football practice, Obama greeted crowds at Wyf-

fels Hybrids in Atkinson and Alpha’s Country Corner Farm Market. Citizen concerns focused largely on anxieties about prospective budget cuts — a 12-member, bipartisan “super Congress” commission is charged with recommending $1.5 trillion in cuts over 10 years — beyond an initial $1 trillion approved recently as part of a debt-limit increase. Producers also challenged regulatory “overreach,” especially by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. Illinois Farm Bureau President Philip Nelson cited new nutrient management rules for farms and businesses in the Chesapeake Bay as “our biggest fear.” “Will it trickle down to the Mississippi River Basin?” Nelson posed at Alpha. “This really does affect Illinois.” Budget balancing act While Congress has established a deficit reduction framework, U.S. Rep. Bobby Schilling, a Colona Republican and Obama guest, stressed “the structure was not completed.” Though Republicans insisted on removing tax increases from

Surrounded by bags of seed corn, President Barack Obama greets those attending a Henry County “town hall” meeting last week at Atkinson’s Wyffels Hybrids warehouse. Obama discussed budget and tax concerns, pending free trade agreements, federal regulation, and other issues during the Atkinson meeting and a second forum at Alpha’s Country Corner Farm Market. For further details, see stories on page 3 and 4. (Photo by Martin Ross)

the table, Obama told Illinoisans he would ask the super Congress commission to reconsider “how we can raise revenue so we bring the overall budget to a sustainable place.” Obama supported extending Bush-era business tax credits renewed last December, as well as “a mid-level” estate tax pro-

posal “that would exempt most — almost all family farms — and nevertheless would still hit folks like (investor) Warren Buffett.” Henry County producer Karen Urich warned the president a return in 2013 to a mere $1 million estate tax exemption threatens family farms already

Illinois Farm Bureau President Philip Nelson takes the mike at a presidential town hall meeting in Alpha to voice concerns about federal regulatory overreach. Nelson warned President Obama overregulation would impact U.S. farmers’ ability to compete in the global market. Obama told Nelson he was confident family farmers want clean air and water and acknowledged Washington needs to work with farmers to determine the best methods to improve environmental quality. “You can’t tell me that we can’t afford to do what it takes to have clean air and clean water,” the president said, however. (Photo by Teresa GrantQuick, Livingston County Farm Bureau manager)

FarmWeek on the web: FarmWeekNow.com

faced with “having to sell their land in order to pay the property taxes.” Capital gains relief is another Farm Bureau goal, but Obama criticized what he sees as an already-low 15 percent cap gains rate. “These days, the richer you are, the lower your taxes are,” he said of current cap gains treatment. Standard & Poor’s recently lowered the U.S.’ credit rating from AAA to AA+ based, it said, on “political risks and rising debt burden.” “Structured” program changes are needed so “we can get our ratings back up” and stabilize a currently volatile economy, Schilling told FarmWeek. Obama proposed cutting defense spending “in a sensible way,” and advocated changes that would “strengthen Social Security and Medicare for the next generation.” But while he sees “a genuine problem in Medicare and Medicaid,” Obama assured guests “Social Security is not in crisis” and should remain viable for at least the next 75 years. See Obama, page 3

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


FarmWeek Page 2 Monday, August 22, 2011

TrADE

Quick Takes U OF I’S EASTER TO RETIRE — University of Illinois Interim Chancellor Robert Easter last week announced his official retirement, but he assured the Agronomy Day crowd agriculture — and the U of I — will have an important role in his future plans. Easter, who first joined the U of I agriculture faculty in 1976, said he intends to stay on the Urbana campus. “I look forward to spending more time thinking about agriculture and the role of pigs,” said Easter, an expert in swine nutrition. Recently, the U of I faced admissions controversy and challenges, but Easter credited resolution of the problems to the small-town culture of several individuals who stepped into administrative posts. “That culture has been able to help us come through difficult times,” said the former dean of the College of Agricultural, Consumer, and Environmental Sciences. STATE FAIR WALL OF FAME — Ground was broken last week for a monument to pay tribute to exhibitors and others who are part of Illinois State Fair history. A recognition wall will be built inside the Main Gate on the east side of Main Street. It will have commemorative plaques that fair supporters may buy and inscribe. On Ag Day, the John Tolan family of Pleasant Plains, long-time Angus cattle and horse exhibitors, were recognized for making the first contribution to the wall, which is a joint project of the Illinois Department of Agriculture and the Illinois State Fair Museum Foundation. For more information about the wall and how to make a contribution, go online to {www.statefairmuseum.org}. COMPANIES IN ‘DOG’ FIGHT — Lawyers representing Oscar Mayer and Ball Park Franks, a division of Sara Lee, were in a Chicago federal court last week in an attempt to settle a long-running dispute about hot dog advertising claims. Oscar Mayer (Kraft Foods) apparently put itself in a pickle three years ago when it ran ads that claimed its wieners beat Ball Park Franks in national taste tests. Sara Lee filed suit in 2009, asserting its hot dogs weren’t prepared and served properly in the taste tests, which made Oscar Mayer’s ads deceptive, the Associated Press and CattleNetwork.com reported. Kraft hit Ball Park Franks with a suit of its own, saying Ball Park Franks went too far with its advertising claim to be “America’s Best Franks.” Sara Lee also disputed the Oscar Mayer promotion that its beef hot dogs are “100 percent pure beef.” Neither company had been declared a wiener winner in the case as of Friday.

(ISSN0197-6680) Vol. 39 No. 34

August 22, 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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Illinois Farm Bureau President Philip Nelson stresses the importance of free trade agreements during Ag Day activities at the Illinois State Fair. Commodity organization leaders who also addressed the crowd were, left to right, Illinois Beef Association President Jeff Beasley, Illinois Corn Growers Association President Jim Reed, Illinois Pork Producers Association President Mike Haag, and Illinois Soybean Association Chairman Matt Hughes. (Photo by Ken Kashian)

FAIR TRADE: Ag leaders call for trade agreement approval has spoken favor the agreements and President Obama, who touted economic development last Illinois agriculture leaders presented a uniweek in the Midwest, needs to focus on trade. fied front and message on trade agreements on Beasley sent a message to Obama that FTAs Ag Day at the Illinois State Fair. are good for economic development. “These “When we look at the future will create jobs,” Beasley said. of this (ag) industry, we depend Reed pointed out American FarmWeekNow.com on trade,” Illinois Farm Bureau corn farmers have lost a major To view our video of the FTA President Philip Nelson told a share of their Colombian marrally at the Illinois State Fair, crowd gathered at the Comkets. “If the free trade agreego to FarmWeekNow.com. modities Pavilion. ment passed, we could regain Nelson, Illinois Beef Associaabout $70 million of that market tion President Jeff Beasley, Illinois Corn Grow- share quickly,” Reed said. ers Association President Jim Reed, Illinois Colombia has been rated the “No. 1 easiest Pork Producers Association President Mike place to do business,” Reed said, adding U.S. Haag, and Illinois Soybean Chairman Matt farmers have been waiting since 2006 for U.S. Hughes focused on the need for Congress to approval of a trade agreement with Colombia. approve free trade agreements (FTAs) with While action on the trade pacts has stalled in Panama, Colombia, and South Korea. the U.S., Canada moved forward and approved a “If we get access to South Korea (markets), trade agreement with Colombia that took effect that would add $1 billion nationally to the beef last week, Nelson pointed out. industry,” Beasley said. “We are stressing to Congress — we need to Beasley said the congressmen with whom he take up free trade agreements,” Nelson said. BY KAY SHIPMAN FarmWeek

Bock named Country Financial CEO Kurt F. Bock of Bloomington Friday was named chief executive officer of Country Financial. He will succeed John Blackburn, who is retiring in January after 10 years as CEO and nearly 30 years of service to Country. Kurt Bock “Kurt understands our rich heritage,” said Illinois Farm Bureau and Country Financial President Philip Nelson. “He’s worked with Country and Illinois Agricultural Association management, and brings broad-based strategic experience to this position.” Bock has a solid history with Country and other companies in

the IFB family. From 2005-2008, he served as treasurer of Country Financial and IFB, and vice president of finance for IFB. Bock joined the Farm Bureau family of companies in 2003 as chief executive officer of the IAA Credit Union. He currently is executive vice president and chief operating officer for Horizon Hobby Inc. in Champaign. Horizon Hobby is the largest global radio control hobby manufacturer/distributor with subsidiaries in China, Germany, the United Kingdom, and France. “We’ve worked closely with Kurt in the past.” said Blackburn. “His background and work experience show he is someone who is passionate about the same things we are — focusing on long-term financial strength. The management team

and I look forward to working with Kurt in preparing for the transition.” He will assume his duties Oct. 3. Bock served in the United States Air Force for 28 years, attaining the rank of colonel. During his career he commanded flying units at the squadron and group level. While a professor of Air Force aerospace studies at the University of Illinois, Bock led one of the largest Air Force ROTC commissioning programs focusing on strategy and leadership. He earned a bachelor of science degree from the U.S. Air Force Academy, a master’s degree in business administration from Southern Illinois University, and a Ph. D. in business administration from Saint Louis University.


Page 3 Monday, August 22, 2011 FarmWeek

government

Obama urges FTA passage, infrastructure movement BY MARTIN ROSS FarmWeek

While the federal debt took center stage this summer, President Obama last week signaled Congress to “put politics aside” and tackle its unfinished business this fall. That includes passage of a trio of long-awaited free trade agreements (FTAs) and the groundwork for major nationwide infrastructure improvements. Obama is expected to submit South Korea, Colombia, and Panama FTAs to Congress for a vote following the legislators’ August recess. He argued “we should be passing trade deals right now,” emphasizing the benefits that would accrue to U.S. producers and manufacturers under the agreements. “Look, the Koreans, they can sell Kias and Hyundais here in the United States,” Obama told guests at Wyffels Hybrids’ Atkinson seed warehouse. “I think that’s great. “I want to be selling Fords and Chryslers and Chevys into Korea, and I want products all across the world to be stamped with three words: Made in America. That’s something we could be doing right now.” The economic impact of FTA delays already has been seen: Failure to pass the Colombia FTA leaves U.S. corn with a 15 percent import tariff — U.S. sales have declined annually since 2008. “We’re losing some of our markets, and once we lose our markets, it’s hard to get them back,” Illinois Farm Bureau board member Wayne Anderson said at Atkinson.

U.S. Rep. Bobby Schilling (RColona), a guest at Obama’s Atkinson town hall meeting, agreed to the need to “set our Ds and Rs aside” and quickly move the FTAs. Schilling expressed concern that with national campaigns gearing up for 2012, continued delays could spur some lawmakU.S. Rep. Bobby ers to “purposely sit on things” Schilling for their own re-election benefit. Both Obama and Schilling stressed the importance of making improvements in rural transportation infrastructure. “Roads and bridges and schools all across the country could be rebuilt,” Obama said, urging lawmakers to take advantage of current low interest rates to approve job-generating projects. Schilling maintained too little federal “stimulus” funding has gone into key transportation projects, and charged the Senate now is “sitting on” major jobs bills that will stimulate rebuilding nationwide. “We have to have a solid infrastructure, because that’s the only way we succeed as a country,” the Western Illinois congressman told FarmWeek. “Our infrastructure is crumbling. “We have the Interstate 74 bridge (across the Mississippi River) that’s taken four times the amount of traffic it was set up to take. “If we can’t transport things on our roads or our rivers —which is a very inexpensive way to do it — that’s a problem for our economy.”

“grew up with agricultural roots.” “They know how important service and quality are, and so we’ve grown,” he told FarmWeek. “Our workforce increased 10 percent this past year; we look to continue to add to that. Larry Zeien The agricultural economy is doing well. Even though there’s potential for a bit of a soft crop, at least in Illinois, the demands and opportunities in agriculture are fantastic. “The other thing I would say is that it feels like there’s more compliance today for everybody. I’m on a small bank board, and I know that the compliances we have there today take profits off the table.” Across the road from Wyffels’ seed facility is Atkinson Livestock Market and Sales, which buys, groups, and ships feeder cattle throughout the Midwest. Owner Larry Zeien acknowledges the importance of environmental protection but argues the need to further “deregulate agriculture.” He believes the federal gov-

Obama

Continued from page 1 Schilling urged the deficit commission to address cuts “with a scalpel” rather than “come in and weed-whack.” He warned some committee chairs may perceive their authority being “stripped” by the commission, and that could lead to some intense budget debate this fall. IFB board member Wayne Anderson admonished lawmakers not to “pick on one sector,” noting recent significant ag program reductions. “Our farmers are willing to suck it in and tighten their belts, but they don’t want to be the main target,” said Schilling, a House Ag Committee member. ‘Climate’ protection Obama’s Midwest town hall meetings followed on the heels of a new White House Rural Economic Council report and recommendations for bolstering rural business, smaller critical access hospitals, and biofuels development. Obama said economic recovery “(is) going to start on the ranchlands and farms of the Midwest, in the workshops of basement inventors, in the storefronts of small business owners.” Anderson sees lowinterest business loans as “a great way to get started,” but argues loans and grants alone will not foster a friendly business environment. Higher taxes generate an “anti-business” climate, and federal “over-regulation,” which will “scare the businesses away,” warned Anderson, a guest at the Atkinson meeting. Henry County farmer Rock Katschnig told Obama “Mother Nature has really challenged us this growing season.” “Please don’t challenge us ernment can bolster rural comwith more rules and regulations from Washington, D.C.,” Katschnig munities by helping fund said, citing concerns about potential EPA dust and pesticide rules. water, sewer, and related infraWhile new pesticide permits are to kick in this fall and EPA is structure improvements — reviewing dust regulations, Obama suggested some farmer fears are “things that help for genera“unfounded.” Cost-benefit analysis will be a crucial component in tions to come.” any regulatory approval, he said. And he applauded the “If you hear something’s happening, but it hasn’t happened, White House’s push for don’t always believe what you hear,” he said. increased rural business loans ‘Less bickering’ needed and grants, arguing “small While the Illinois meetings were largely congenial, area residents business people will bring the were sharply critical of the current Washington environment. Atkineconomy back up.” son Livestock Market and Sales owner Larry Zeien called for “a little As Congress seeks at least less bickering and a little more $2.5 trillion in 10-year budget businesslike attitude” when Consavings, he recommends lawgress reconvenes in September. makers “leave Social Security Obama scolded lawmakers, and Medicare alone” for the telling them to “stop drawing lines sake of rural seniors. Zeien in the sand” and suggesting partiinstead sees room for cuts in san hostility erodes “business condefense spending and eliminafidence and certainty.” Wyffels tion of more questionable tax Hybrids co-owner and Atkinson “loopholes.” meeting host Bill Wyffels Jr. Overall, however, he shares offered some advice for the Wyffels’ don’t fix-what-isn’tadministration, as well. broken philosophy. “If the rest of the economy During an Alpha town hall meet- “I’m right at the point of the ing, Karen Urich, a Henry County spear when it comes to being was booming like the farm community, the country would farmer and member of both the responsible for the financial capaHenry County Board and Henry bility of our company,” he noted. be in high times,” he said. “I have restraints to live within. County Farm Bureau, asks Presi“Land prices are good, comOur employees know that, and in dent Obama to comment on the modity prices are good. an environment where we comtentative expiration at the end of Machinery dealers are doing pete against some of the largest 2012 of the current $5 million indireally well. businesses in the world, we have vidual federal estate tax exemp“I think the free market is working pretty well in agricul- tion. Obama cited a proposed new to take care of business at home. ture right now. That’s what we $7 million exemption and suggest- “I think, in there, there’s a mesed he would support a “mid-level” sage: As the leader, (Obama) cerneed to have working in agriproposal. (Photo by Chris Magnu- tainly needs to be responsible and culture. We’ll do just fine.” — work with all people in Congress.” son, Illinois Farm Bureau) Martin Ross

Ag businesses: Rural ‘free market’ freedom, infrastructure help needed Walls of seed-filled bags provided a vividly agricultural environment for President Obama’s stop in rural Atkinson last week. In turn, Wyffels Hybrids coowner Bill Wyffels Jr., whose 60plus-year-old Bill Wyffels Jr. Henry County company hosted one of two of the president’s Illinois “town hall” meetings, urged Obama to foster a rural business environment that enables farmer-customers to thrive and products to continue moving through his town. Wyffels urged policymakers to resist the temptation to unnecessarily “intervene” in ag or rural affairs amid potentially rising food and energy prices. He believes existing production and market forces, rather than excessive regulation, eventually will help stabilize the economy. Wyffels attributes his own company’s success to steady growth, continuing efforts to identify “the best genetics and technologies,” and a workforce (currently numbering 110) that

President Obama chats with producers following an Alpha town hall meeting. (Photo by Chris Magnuson, Illinois Farm Bureau)


FarmWeek Page 4 Monday, August 22, 2011

local to global

Obama: New ethanol sources needed BY MARTIN ROSS FarmWeek

Eleven-year-old Alex McAvoy last week helped clarify the White House’s position on ethanol and America’s renewable energy future. During last week’s presidential town hall meeting in Atkinson, McAvoy pled the case for his grandfather, Ted McAvoy, a Geneseo producer and investor in Annawan’s Patriot Renewable Fuels plant. He asked President Obama, “What are you going to do to keep the ethanol plant running?”

fy.

Obama’s response? Diversi-

“When I was a state senator, when I was a United States senator, I was a strong supporter of biofuels,” he told McAvoy. “I continue to be a strong supporter of biofuels. Tom Vilsack, as our agricultural secretary, continues to be a strong supporter of ethanol and biofuels. “I will say that the more we see the science, the more we want to find ways to diversify our biofuels so that we’re not just relying on corn-based ethanol. Now, we can do more to make corn-based ethanol

(production) more efficient than it is. That’s where the research comes in. ”But the key going forward is going to be, can we create biofuels out of switchgrass and wood chips and other materials that right now are considered waste materials? Part of the reason that’s important is because, right now, the costs of feed keep on going up and the cost of food as a consequence keeps going up.” The president did stress that only 4 percent of the U.S. corn supply is used for

ethanol. But he argued the economic need to develop biofuels feedstocks “that don’t involve the food chain” as global food demand rises and “folks in China and folks in India start wanting to eat more meat.” That will require continued federal investment in basic research, Obama maintained. The U.S. Department of Energy this month announced it will invest $175 million-plus over the next three to five years to accelerate development of “advanced vehicle technologies” and improved

fuels and lubricants through 40 projects in 15 states. Obama acknowledged the budgetary challenges of funding further research under the current congressional budget regime, but he warned the U.S. will fall behind in global green energy development “if all we’re doing is cutting and we’re not thinking about investment.” “There’s no reason we should fall behind a country like Brazil when it comes to developing alternative energy,” Obama said “I want to be No. 1 when it comes to alternative energy, and that’s good for the farm economy.”

‘Vision’ targets production, sustainability, poverty A few weeks ago, the world again was reminded of the powerful links between poverty, hunger, and social unrest, as residents of a Somalian refugee camp and government soldiers clashed over food aid supplies, with deadly results. The day before that skirmish, Monsanto executives and scientists outlined a threepronged “New Vision for Agriculture” strategy aimed at forging new links between increased and environmentally sustainable ag production and a reduction in global poverty. At a recent World Economic Forum meeting, global organizations, governments, and corporations launched the plan with a view toward dou-

bling food production. Monsanto Vice President Jerry Steiner argues food security must be viewed “in the context of the environment and the economy.” “First, we need farmers around the world to increase productivity about 20 percent every decade,” Steiner told FarmWeek. “Second, how we produce that really matters, so we want to see a smaller (carbon) footprint for every ton we produce. Largely, that is going to happen by increasing (peracre) yield without having to put more inputs on that field. “Finally, this will only work if at the same time we’re improving the lives of the world’s farmers and people

who live in these rural communities. “We’re looking at a 20 percent reduction in rural poverty each decade. If you look at these three pieces together and start connecting people up and down the value chain, you can make real progress.” He argues those gains must involve “small holder” agriculture — developing world producers with minimal land holdings who collectively could boost productivity and develop profitable markets at home or even abroad. Steiner sees “corporate responsibility” as a key component in boosting world productivity, whether in the form of philanthropy, research partnerships,

Economist Robert Thompson anticipates “the need to feed the equivalent of two more Chinas in the next 40 years,” in terms of projected global population growth. But for the most part, new farmland either “is not going to be available, or it’s not going to be right to put more of Robert Thompson that land into production” from an environmental standpoint, Monsanto Senior Vice President Terry Preete maintains. Thompson questions Monsanto’s estimate that even 1012 percent more of the world’s arable land could be tapped for production. While that kind of expansion “technically” may be possible, the former World Bank analyst argues “the economics of it aren’t all that attractive.” Thompson sees closer to 1 percent of unused farmable land potentially being brought

into play. Global energies are better spent to “double the average productivity of that land that’s already in production,” he suggested. “We know there’s degradation of soils going on, erosion of soils,” Thompson told FarmWeek. “We know there are prime agricultural lands being taken out of production for road construction or being paved over as cities are expanded. We have some loss of farmland occurring year by year. “But most importantly, most of that 10-12 percent ‘more’ land is in very remote areas, in many cases served minimally, if at all, by infrastructure. Most of that potentially arable land is in South America or in sub-Saharan Africa.” He cites a staggering variety of obstacles to expanding acreages in Africa: a shortage of viable roads, underinvestment in crop research, a lack of improved varieties, government corruption, and inadequate property rights protections and enforcement of contracts that protect buyers and sellers.

Further, most of the soils available for new cultivation exhibit poor quality and fertility, meaning hefty input needs and production costs, Thompson said. He stressed Brazil’s modern soybean “miracle” was the result of a major government investment in soil science and breeding research, as well as massive river and associated infrastructure development. “I lived in Brazil in ’72 and ’73,” Thompson related. “We drove through that area of (then-) recent soybean expansion, and you couldn’t imagine it in annual crop production. There were twisted, gnarled trees and bushes and the occasional scrawny beef cow. “Today, you drive through that same area, and it’s soybeans from horizon to horizon, with productivity not much less than in the U.S. Corn Belt. Investments in research showed the way, made it possible to bring that land into production. But (Brazilian growers) do have to use a lot of lime and a lot of superphosphate.” — Martin Ross

Land at hand scarce to meet ‘need to feed’

or “patient capital” — investments in which any financial or economic payoff may be decades away. However, the public sector has a role to play, and the U.S. is a potentially crucial player. Economist Robert Thompson fears Congress’ newly passed $2.5-trillion deficit reduction plan could endanger the U.S.’ role in promoting development. Thompson stressed the need for basic research via U.S. land grant colleges and USDA’s Agricultural Research Service, and he noted USDA food assistance programs have helped underwrite research in lower-income countries. But he also notes foreign aid is “always a popular place for

Congress to try to make cuts.” “Until the early to mid-‘80s, agriculture and rural development were principal targets of the U.S. foreign aid program, as well as (programs in) many European countries and Japan,” Thompson told FarmWeek. “But agriculture fell off the development agenda, and the investments of our foreign aid in ag development plummeted. As a result, we’ve basically had stagnation of agriculture in most low-income countries, as foreign aid programs and World Bank lending backed out and the governments of many low-income countries themselves cut back on their investments in rural development.” — Martin Ross

sharing ag information

Larry Magnuson, a Tiskilwa-area (Bureau County) farmer, shared information about farms and farming with consumers at a recent Daley Plaza Farmers’ Market in Chicago. Part of the Illinois Farm Families effort — sponsored by Illinois Beef Association, Illinois Corn Marketing Board, Illinois Farm Bureau, Illinois Pork Producers, and Illinois Soybean Association — farmers use urban advertising and specials events such as Chicago farmers’ markets to connect with consumers, building trust in today’s farming. (Photo by Dennis Vercler)


Page 5 Monday, August 22, 2011 FarmWeek

STATE FAIRS

Madigan seeking solutions for state’s rural challenges BY KAY SHIPMAN FarmWeek

Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan said she and her staff feel like “mediators” in livestock odor nuisance complaints in which they’re involved. “Understand, we all have to live together,” Madigan told FarmWeek after addressing fairgoers on Ag Day at the Illinois State Fair. In cases in which her staff has worked, odor control measures “have significantly diminished the odors that neighbors have had to contend with,” Madigan said. She noted she is aware odor control measures can be expensive.

Another issue that involves the attorney general’s office and touches rural Illinois is the illegal manufacture of methamphetamine. “The meth makers have changed their manufacturing techniques,” Madigan said. Meth producers now use smaller tools, such as 1- or 2liter pop bottles, and have smaller labs that are not as easily detected. For years, state laws have restricted over-the-counter sales of cold and sinus medicine that contains ingredients to make meth. Illinois now uses a new system to track sales to individuals. In the past 14 months, more than 58,000

restricted sales were blocked in the state, Madigan noted. Another trend has been an increase in the number of Missouri residents buying cold and sinus medicine in Illinois, according to Madigan. Missouri recently passed a law requiring a doctor’s prescription to buy pseudoephedrine, she noted. This year, the Illinois General Assembly passed a law requiring a doctor’s prescription for pseudoephedrine for individuals who have been convicted of meth-related crimes. Madigan said she hopes Gov. Pat Quinn will sign the bill into law.

Illinois food, wine focus of Du Quoin State Fair show

John Gellerman, 11, checks out a 7088 Case IH combine exhibit last week at the Illinois State Fair near the Farmer’s Little Helper area. This marked the first year in many that farm equipment was displayed at the State Fair. John is the son of Doug and Dee Dee Gellerman. (Photo by Kay Shipman)

Farm machinery back with educational goal at Illinois State Fair

After a 22-year hiatus, a farm machinery exhibit again graced the Illinois State Fair, but this time the purpose was more about educating and less about selling. “We’re trying to educate the general public so when they come up on farm equipment on the road, they know the investment that agriculture has (in the equipment),” said Riverton farmer Allen Entwistle, the Sangamon County Farm Bureau president who spearheaded the exhibit. With prices posted by each implement on display, the educational aspect fit perfectly with other teachable opportunities offered at the nearby Farmer’s Little Helper area that taught children how crops are grown and animals are raised. “The average person does not know a tractor costs $350,000 or $400,000,” Entwistle added. Entwistle asked several area implement dealers and agribusiness companies to display machinery at the request of Illinois State Fair manager Amy Bliefnick. The participating companies were Sloan Implement Co.; Cross Brothers Implement; Tri-Co Equipment Inc., Taylorville; Sievers Equipment Co., Auburn; J.O. Harris and Sons, Alexander; Central Illinois Ag, Atlanta; and Lincoln Land FS. The exhibit included an early fertilizer truck once used by Brandt’s Fertilizer. Entwistle said he was pleased by the positive comments “from the governor’s office on down” and plans to not only continue the equipment exhibit next year — but in true State Fair tradition — make it bigger. — Kay Shipman

A new show will feature Illinois wines and food products Sept. 3-4 at the Du Quoin State Fair. The fair will start Friday and continue through Sept. 5. The first Illinois Food & Wine Products Show is the result of a partnership between the Illinois Department of Agriculture (IDOA) and Carbondale’s Entrepreneurship and Business Development Center, according to Larry Aldag, IDOA marketing representative. Show hours are noon to 7 p.m. Sept. 3 and noon to 4 p.m. Sept. 4 in Expo Hall.

More than 25 Illinois food companies and eight Illinois wineries will sell their products and provide free samples to fairgoers. Activities will include cooking demonstrations using Illinois foods and pairing the dishes with Illinois wines. Cooking demonstrations will be at noon and 3 p.m. both days. In addition to wines, products to be offered will include pizza, fudge, chocolates, meat products, homemade egg noodles, barbecue sauce, salsas, Vidalia onion relish, fresh produce, pepper jams and jellies, hot sauces, Amish baked goods, and honey products.

Orr Beef Center field day planned for Aug. 31 The University of Illinois Orr Beef Research Center near Perry in Pike County will hold its annual field day Wednesday, Aug. 31, starting at 4 p.m. Presentations and a meal will be available in the classrooms at the John Wood Community College Ag Center located a mile north of the center. The field day will highlight the center’s research and demonstration programs as well

as a number of current topics relevant to the beef cattle industry. Presentation topics include “Winter Feeding Strategies,” “Effects of Cow Nutrition on Subsequent Calf Performance,” “Using Residual Feed Intake as a Feed Efficiency Measure,” “Effects of Differing Co-product Blends on Calf Performance and Body Composition,” and “Voluntary Forage Intake in Beef Cows.”

Pre-registration is not required, and there is no registration fee to attend. The John Wood Community College Ag Center is located about 32 miles east of Quincy or 32 miles west of Jacksonville on Ill. Route 104 near Perry. From the intersection of Ill. 107 and 104, go approximately 4 miles west on Ill. 104 and follow the signs. For additional information, contact Travis Meteer at 217-236-4961.


FarmWeek Page 6 Monday, August 22, 2011

CROPWATCHERS Bernie Walsh, Durand, Winnebago County: It was a relatively quiet week in Northern Illinois, even though we had almost 2 inches of rain last Friday and Saturday, Aug. 12 and 13. The storm that came through Saturday brought some hail with it in some spots. Thankfully, we did not get hit with any of that. I don’t know of any new insects in the corn or beans right now, and that is always good. There is some sudden death syndrome showing up in some of soybean fields, but not as bad as last year. It was a good week for the Winnebago County Fair. Pete Tekampe, Grayslake, Lake County: A great week in Lake County. We had 0.6 of an inch of rain over the weekend of Aug. 13-14 and then nice weather all week. Corn is looking good with great color. Beans, on the other hand, are suffering from too much water. We have a lot of yellow beans in the low ground and heavy clay spots. Some good second-cutting hay has been made and most of the straw is baled. They are calling for rain five of the next seven days. Hopefully, they will be light showers. Leroy Getz, Savanna, Carroll County: Spotty heavy rains occurred in the area on Friday, Aug. 12, and Saturday, Aug. 13. I received only 0.1 of an inch while eastern Carroll County had more than an inch with some golf ball-sized hail that covered the ground. Some crops that already had been damaged from previous wind storms were severely stripped down by the hail. Other crops show signs toward maturity. Corn has dented and beans are filling pods and looking very good. We made some very excellent hay this past week. Ryan Frieders, Waterman, DeKalb County: Saturday afternoon (Aug. 13) a band of severe weather came through the area bringing swaths of hail that devastated crops. The hail lasted only a few minutes but the damage to both corn and soybean plants will affect yields. Along with the hail came 0.3 of an inch to 1 inch of rain. The last few days have been beautiful with highs in the 80s and cool nights. Cicadas have been singing in the trees, which usually means the first frost is six weeks away. Larry Hummel, Dixon, Lee County: Storm events have been the big story for this season. Last week’s rain event provided little moisture, but way too much hail. Extensive damage to both corn and soybeans occurred in a long path about 12 miles north of us. Northern Illinois has been mentioned as a garden spot of the state, but high winds and excessive heat have done plenty of damage to the area’s corn crop. For us, I am estimating a yield about 30 bushel below our five-year average. Soybeans, on the other hand, look good and could be slightly above average. Ken Reinhardt, Seaton, Mercer County: Two promising chances of rain produced a couple of drops. Soybeans are really needing some rain to fill out pods. Spider mites are showing up on more field borders. Corn harvest is rapidly approaching. There are some weak stalks that will need to be harvested early. Ron Moore, Roseville, Warren County: No rain to report this past week. Corn is rapidly maturing with the milk line about halfway down the kernel. Silage chopping has started in the area. Corn harvest will not be far behind. The soybeans look good, but the dry weather has taken its toll with pods starting to abort. The tile lines are drying up and the streams in my pastures will be next. We will bring cattle home sooner than planned if we don’t get some rain.

Jacob Streitmatter, Princeville, Peoria County: A nice week with cooler temperatures but no rain. Our high temperatures for the week was the same as the night-time temperatures in July and the first part of August. The corn crop is progressing fast and is looking different every day. Soybeans are filling pods, but they need a rain to continue filling. Mark Kerber, Chatsworth, Livingston County: More of the same — hot and dry. There were a few showers around last week, but our area missed them again. Crop conditions are deteriorating. Corn is hurt up to 50 percent of last year’s yield. Kernel depth is very shallow and pollination is poor. Also, ears are small. Soybeans had a chance as they looked good two weeks ago, but with no rain, we will be seeing pods aborted and not filled. In addition to poor yields, low silage quality and low test weight, the drought likely will contribute to another problem, aflatoxin. The eastern Corn Belt could have a problem getting this corn to a market as aflatoxin’s is very potent and can cause harm to humans and livestock. On the bright side, federal crop insurance will help recoup our expenses. Markets are still under pressure with uncertainty in the stock markets. Will we see a spike in commodities this fall? It would be harmful to our inputs. Ron Haase, Gilman, Iroquois County: On Saturday, Aug. 13, our farms received from 0.35 up to 0.65 of an inch of rain. Local corn development is anywhere from the R-3 or milk stage up to the R-5 or dent stage. Most soybean fields range from the R-3 or beginning pod growth stage up to the R-6 or full seed growth stage. The local closing bids for Aug. 18 were: nearby corn, $7.10; new-crop corn, $6.92; nearby soybeans, $13.49; new-crop soybeans, $13.31. In Mato Grosso, Brazil, harvest of the second crop of corn (the safrinha) is 99.2 percent complete. Production is 8 percent below what was projected earlier in the year. The average productivity is 95 bushels per acre. Brian Schaumburg, Chenoa, McLean County: Another week without rain but moderate temps are helping crops hang on. We have had 2,400 growing degree units and corn is at the R-5 (dent) stage. Most beans are at R-5 as well. Our 26th Heartland Bank yield tour for the Prairie Central Co-op area showed yields are slightly lower (5 percent) compared to 2010. The disparity between rotational and continuous corn is not as great as last year. Soybeans will not rival last year’s yields even with timely rainfall. Downed corn will be a challenge. Watch out for those yellow school buses and precious cargo! Corn, $7.04; fall, $6.88; soybeans, $13.56; fall, $13.31; wheat, $6.63. Steve Ayers, Champaign, Champaign County: Saturday, Aug. 13, a storm rumbled through that dropped 0.44 of an inch of rain and caused some wind damage. Rain varied from nothing to more than 1 inch in the area. Beans desperately need rain as the pods are still flat. The long-range weather outlook is not promising for moisture. Topflight Grain had its crop tour Tuesday and found an average 148 bushel per acre of corn in an area from Seymour in western Champaign County through Piatt County to Maroa in eastern Macon County. Yield estimates ranged from 126 at Milmine to 168 at Cisco. Bean pod count averaged 38 pods per plant compared to last year’s 44. Wilfred Dittmer, Quincy, Adams County: We may as well report the same as last week as the only difference is the cracks in the fields are a little bigger and crops are getting smaller. If the old saying is true that “rain makes grain,” then I guess we could say that “no rain means no grain.” Anyway, I think the rain gauge needs priming because rain keeps being predicted and all we get is a few drops. That was the case early this Friday morning. What corn I’ve looked at is pretty well filled out, but ears are small and stalks are getting drier by the day. Soybeans may put on a little growth yet if they get a drink. At least it has cooled off some. Have a safe week.

Tom Ritter, Blue Mound, Macon County: After eight weeks of no measurable rain, we received a shy 0.2 of an inch on Aug. 13. Needless to say, that didn’t go very far, and we did not receive any rain in the past week. We were hoping for some good showers to help the soybeans. It is a very critical time for them, but that time is rapidly fading. Corn is continuing to dry down. A few people are beginning harvest, but on a small scale. I’ve heard anywhere from 28 to 35 percent moisture is coming out of the field. There probably will be more people going this week — definitely before Farm Progress Show time. Overall, crop prospects look only fair at this time for both corn and beans. We’re looking at probably at least a 25 percent reduction in yields on corn; beans are difficult to determine. Todd Easton, Charleston, Coles County: The drought persisted last week with only a small shower occurring in some places and not having much effect on the moisture situation. Producers are starting to make their advance preparations for harvest. Most are not anticipating the need to use some of their smaller, out-of-the way grain bins this fall after a local yield estimate came out Aug. 15. The magic number that teams brought out of the cornfields was 146.15 bushels per acre. It looks like the southern townships will have a shot at being the high yielder for the year because of more precipitation coming through that area. Another couple of weeks and yield monitors will be telling us for sure what is in those fields. Soybeans are hanging in there but could really use rain. Doug Uphoff, Shelbyville, Shelby County: We’ve had only 0.65 of an inch of rain since June 25. We planted corn April 9, and after that we didn’t think it would quit raining. Well, guess what? It did. And now I’m ready for a do over. We had a wind on Aug. 13 and it steamrolled 20 of 80 acres. We had 0.8 of an inch of rain with the wind, but it probably was too late to help the corn. We need rain now for beans. Ours are very short and have low pod counts. Fertilizer seems to go up weekly. They say its supply and demand. Farmers are busy getting equipment ready and some are harvesting. Yields in our area will be 140 bushels per acre and lower. Beans will be below 35 if we don’t get rain. David Schaal, St. Peter, Fayette County: It was a dry week here, other than a sprinkle or two. Again farmers are doing yield checks on corn and are not finding the aboveaverage yields everyone around here was looking or hoping for a few weeks ago. Soybeans could use a good drink to help put pods on or fill pods that are there, depending on planting date and maturity. There was some bean fungicide put on this past week. Roadside and waterway mowing, along with grain bin cleaning and harvesting equipment preparation is going on. Have a good week. Ted Kuebrich, Jerseyville, Jersey County: The corn planted the first week of April in the Illinois River bottom west of Fieldon is starting to show signs of maturing and drying down. Plant leaves are drying from top to bottom, which is normal for the time the crop was planted. On the other hand, as you drive past other fields planted later on lighter clay soil or sandy soil, the corn is showing more stress. The bottom leaves are fired up almost to the ear. Around Jerseyville on good, black, well-drained soil, the corn stalks are still green. The beans are doing well and putting on many pods. Prices at Jersey County Grain, Hardin: cash corn, $6.93; fall corn, $6.92; January 2012 corn, $7.01; cash beans, $13.39; fall beans, $13.40; January 2012 beans, $13.55; June/July wheat, $6.67.


Page 7 Monday, August 22, 2011 FarmWeek

CROPWATCHERS Dan Meinhart, Montrose, Jasper County: We had a very pleasant week temperature-wise. A couple tenths of rain fell in very isolated areas on Saturday, Aug. 13. The entire area could use a good general rain. Fungicide and insecticide are being applied to soybeans. Some early fields of corn are showing signs of maturity. Farmers continue to clean out grain bins in preparation for harvest. They also are mowing road ditches and waterways and going to fairs and seed companies’ field days. Mild weather is expected to continue this week with a slight chance of rain. Dave Hankammer, Millstadt, St. Clair County: It was mild enough during the first part of last week that I was able to give the air conditioner a rest during the evening hours. Temps in the low 90s, however, returned at the end of the week. Unfortunately, we had no rain for the week. Farmers were busy making hay while others were chopping sudan grass for silage. Some reported they were scouting their soybean fields for spider mites and are concerned that infestation levels may be nearing treatment levels. Also, signs of heat stress on the soybean plants are apparent with the slow setting and filling of seed pods. A good soaking rain is needed to help this crop along. Local grain bids are corn, $6.83; soybeans, $13.39; wheat, $6.57. Have a safe week.

Kevin Raber, Browns, Wabash County: We stayed away from the oppressive heat this past week with highs in the 80s or low 90s. It made outside work much more comfortable. It rained Thursday afternoon. Rainfall amounts varied — some places got a flood and others hardly any. The rain may not help the earlyplanted corn. But the later corn and all soybeans will benefit from the cooler temperatures and soil moisture. Dean Shields, Murphysboro, Jackson County: This past week it cooled down and we got anywhere from 0 to 0.9 of an inch of rain over the county. Hurray, hurray — the flood water has finally left my river bottom property. Corn is maturing. A windstorm come through and blew down 50 acres of corn. Most of it is flat, so I am working on getting a reel on my corn head so I can pick it back up. The jury is still out on yield. Everybody has a different opinion on how the corn and bean yields are going to be. I think we could have some pretty good corn in places and not so good in others. Wheat field beans now are well above the stubble and looking good. There still has been a little bit of spraying. More right’s-of-way are being mowed and equipment is now being pulled out of the shed and readied for harvest. Everyone take care and be safe.

Rick Corners, Centralia, Jefferson County: Oh my, we need a rain really bad. Yields are falling as fast as the Cardinals in the National League Central. Rain was predicted for the weekend.

Randy Anderson, Galatia, Saline County: What a pleasant week. We had mild temps and finally received a little more than 1 inch of rain on Thursday. The April corn is looking like it will be ready the first week of September. I would say it looks to be a fair crop on my farm, but there will be some areas in the county that will be very good. We are finishing up making hay and trying to get equipment ready for fall. I’ve been to some field days, and it looks like Liberty Link soybeans are going to be a hot item. Something everyone needs to watch out for are all the little kids, and the big yellow buses because those buses haul our future.

Reports received Friday morning. Expanded crop and weather information available at {www.farmweeknow.com}.

Cooler temps stabilize crops; markets still jumpy BY DANIEL GRANT FarmWeek

Crop conditions stabilized last week as Mother Nature provided some relief from the heat in the form of cooler temperatures and spotty rainfall. The portion of the crops statewide rated good to excellent as of the first of last week was unchanged at 57 percent for soybeans and 50 percent for corn, the National Agricultural Statistics Service (NASS) Illinois field office reported. The crop condition ratings prior to last week had declined for five consecutive weeks. “Slightly cooler weather and scattered showers across much of the state made for a favorable growing week and

was a welcomed change from the hot and dry conditions experienced throughout the summer thus far,” NASS noted in its weekly crop condition update. The statewide temperature the second week of August averaged 72.5 degrees, 1.2 degrees below normal. Precipitation, however, remained very spotty. Topsoil moisture last week was rated 84 and 80 percent adequate to surplus in Northeastern and Northwestern Illinois, respectively, while 85 percent of topsoil moisture in the west, 83 percent in the east, and 81 percent in the westsouthwest portions of the state was rated short/very short. “Based on the way the growing season is ending,

the size of the 2011 crop could be smaller than the August projection,” said Darrel Good, University of Illinois Extension economist. USDA earlier this month projected national yield averages of 153 bushels per acre for corn and 41.4 bushels for soybeans, down from the previous forecast of 158.7 bushels for corn and 43.4 bushels for beans. Elwynn Taylor, Iowa State University Extension climatologist, last week projected a national corn yield average of 149 bushels per acre based on weather challenges. Dale Durchholz, AgriVisor market analyst, noted corn ear weight estimates currently are below the fiveyear average.

However, some of the lost yield potential appears to be factored into the current USDA estimate as opposed to last year when USDA in August projected a corn yield of 165 bushels per acre before that number fell to 152.8 bushels by the end of the season. “A year ago expectations were relatively good until (farmers) actually went in the field and started harvesting and it got increasingly worse,” Durchholz told the RFD Radio Network. “I kind of wonder this year are farmers’ expectations, because of what happened last year, already dialed down? “I’m not saying the crop won’t get smaller,” he continued. “But I bet it doesn’t get a whole lot smaller.”

The tight supplies should keep pressure on crop prices. But high prices and economic trouble in parts of the world could cut into demand. Corn also could face competition from other grains while U.S. soybean sales could be impacted by another large South American crop. USDA this month projected world wheat production this year is up 3.7 percent. “We have a huge wheat crop in the world and prices that are competitive with corn,” Durchholz said. Feed wheat “will continue to be a drag on corn exports.” USDA last week reported U.S. corn export sales as of Aug. 18 were down 35 percent from the four-week average.

Time to evaluate your 2011 weed control system BY BARRY NASH

During the month of August most of us are focused on evaluating corn and soybean fields to estimate yield potential for the year. Unfortunately, we often overlook the fact that this time Barry Nash of year is ideal for evaluating our weed control programs. Right now, most of our key weeds are at or nearing maturity, making weed identification much easier. Leaves are fully expanded and seed heads are developed — two key factors in successful

weed identification. Additionally, problem areas within a field are easily identifiable and should be noted or documented for future reference. Key weeds to look for include small-seeded broadleaves such as waterhemp, lambsquarter, and marestail (horseweed), as well as a few large-seeded broadleaves such as common ragweed, giant ragweed. and morningglory. Be sure to check fields closely as these weeds can produce seed at very short heights. If any of these weeds are obser ved in the same areas of a field over a twoto three-year period, serious consideration should be given to rouging these

weeds out. Yes, rouging. For the younger generation, that means using a corn knife or weed hook and physically removing these plants from the field in order to prevent the possibility of developing weed resistance. Keep in mind that not only do these weeds have a unique ability to survive and thrive (that’s why they’re called weeds), but they also produce extremely high amounts of seed. Multiple years of university research has shown that seed

production from these weeds can range from 60,000 seeds per plant (giant ragweed) and 200,000 seeds per plant (marestail) to more than 400,000 seeds per plant (waterhemp). Thus, that spot in the field that has a couple dozen waterhemp plants equates to 9.6 million seeds — and then we run them through the combine. If weed pressures are too high to justify rouging, the use of a two-pass program is essential for your 2012

weed control system. A residual herbicide application prior to or near to planting followed by a postemergence glyphosate application is critical to a successful weed management system. For more information on weed identification and successful weed control practices, contact your local crop specialist. Barry Nash is GROWMARK’s weed science technical manager. His e-mail address is bnash@growmark.com.


FarmWeek Page 8 Monday, August 22, 2011

U oF I Agronomy DAy U of I Agronomy Day

Pessimism abounds on corn crop

BY KAY SHIPMAN FarmWeek

Gloomy corn yield predictions permeated the sunny skies over the University of Illinois’ South Farms on Agronomy Day last week. After quizzing some farmers on their corn yield estimates, U of I crop sciences professor Emerson Nafziger even joked: “You bunch of pessimists.” Later, Nafziger noted that group’s gloomy projection was echoed by many Agronomy Day attendees. “They’re pretty pessimistic on yields,” he said. Nafziger reminded farmers to look on the bright side. In recent days, the corn crop received less than two inches of rain, but used nine to 10 inches

‘Today, we should only do as much tillage as necessary to get a good stand and to help the roots grow better.’ — Emerson Nafziger University of Illinois crops sciences professor

of water in development. “The fact it’s alive still is remarkable,” Nafziger said. The corn’s health may be attributed to fertile soils and the improved hybrids planted, he added.

Farmers also may improve the growing conditions for corn by using tillage for its intended purposes — conditioning the seedbed and the root zone, Nafziger said. If those soil conditions exist without additional tillage, then more tillage isn’t necessary, he said. U of I research studies have found “deep ripping” of soil has little effect on corn yields, he noted. “Today, we should only do as much tillage as necessary to get a good stand and to help the roots grow better,” Nafziger advised. “Keep it practical. We don’t have to make it so (corn) roots can grow four-feet deep.”

Emerson Nafziger, University of Illinois crop sciences professor, shows stunted ears with “zippers” or flat missing rows of kernels on one side, during last week’s Agronomy Day on the South Farms. Nafziger speculated the ears were the result of plant populations that were too high. (Photo by Kay Shipman)

Agronomy Day recruiting for future crop scientists prevalent Future agronomists and plant breeders, the University of Illinois wants you. That message came through loud and clean amid reports of research results last week. Agronomy Day attendees repeatedly were encouraged to tell prospective students about the variety of careers and job openings for crop science graduates. Student recruiting had a much higher profile compared to past Agronomy Days. In the research fields, the

exhibit tent, and nearly everywhere, the crop science department took every opportunity to recruit students. Before U of I plant breeding professor Fred Kolb reported on wheat scab management, he urged high school students interested in plants to consider studying plant science at the U of I. Kolb is the teaching and adviser coordinator for crop science undergraduates. While waiting for tour wagons to load, U of I Extension

media specialist Todd Gleason described his experience in transferring from a community college to the U of I and encouraged prospective students to contact him for more information. “There are fantastic opportunities for students

who graduate out of our department. There is a lot of demand for well-educated agronomists,” German Bollero, crop sciences department head, told FarmWeek. “We have seen (student enrollment) numbers have

not increased the past few years,” Bollero said. “The reason we are tapping the (Agronomy Day) audience is we want everyone to help us (recruit). We want parents to say, ‘Why don’t you look at the department of crop sciences?’” — Kay Shipman

Aaron Hager, University of Illinois weed science professor, displays the leaves of a Palmer amaranth plant during last week’s Agronomy Day on the South Farms. Hager warned herbicide-resistant populations of Palmer amaranth have been confirmed in Southern Illinois. (Photo by Kay Shipman)

Move over waterhemp, here comes Palmer amaranth A farmer audience chuckled nervously when University of Illinois weed science professor Aaron Hager waved a heavy-duty hoe and described it as the best tool to control their next potential weed foe — Palmer amaranth. “We don’t know if this (Palmer amaranth) will be a problem in the central part of the state, but it will be a plant we’re going to keep an eye on,” Hager told attendees at Agronomy Day last week on the South Farms in Urbana. Glyphosate-resistant populations of Palmer amaranth have been confirmed in Southern Illinois counties. Given the weed’s track record

in the southern U.S., farmers need to be prepared, according to Hager. “This weed has caused fields in the South to be bushhogged down so they (Palmer amaranth) don’t make seeds,” Hager said. Southern farmers have reported corn yield losses as great as 91 percent due to Palmer amaranth pressure, he said. The weed is very competitive with crops, grows as much as two to three inches a day, and can shoot roots deep into soil because it is a desert plant. If Palmer amaranth does become a problem, farmers will need to integrate tillage with pre-plant and post-plant

herbicide applications to control the weed, Hager said. Meanwhile, glyphosateresistant populations of waterhemp continue to be confirmed around Illinois, although final totals aren’t known because researchers continue to test suspected resistant weed samples. Hager noted a troubling trend in waterhemp herbicide resistance. About 7 percent of tested samples show resistance to three classes of herbicides. “This is going to get a whole lot worse before it gets better,” he warned. — Kay Shipman


Page 9 Monday, August 22, 2011 FarmWeek

Food security

Imaging technology may enhance food inspections, safety BY DANIEL GRANT FarmWeek

A picture could be worth a lot more than a thousand words when it comes to food safety. High-speed imaging, known as spectral sensing technology, being tested by USDA’s Agricultural Research Service (ARS) could improve the quality of food inspections nationwide without slowing processing time. Automated imaging methods can capture photos on high-speed processing lines that can help detect contamination of food products or food processing equipment. “(Multi-spectral) imaging can speed up inspections and determine the wholesomeness of each bird,” Diane Chan, ag engineer at the ARS Environmental Microbial and Food Safety Lab, recently told Illinois Farm Bureau Marketers to Washington participants. ARS currently is studying the use of high-speed imaging

for the automated inspection of poultry, cereal grains, and fruits and vegetables, and for sanitation inspections. The automated poultry inspection technology, which has a patent pending, can process 140 birds per minute. The American poultry industry produces about 9 billion chickens per year and USDA must inspect every bird, postmortem, that is sold for human consumption. Automated inspection systems have been developed to help chicken processing plants improve food safety on highspeed processing lines. Meanwhile, methods to improve the inspection of fruits and vegetables have become a priority due to various outbreaks of foodborne illnesses such as E. coli and salmonella, according to Chan. “We can detect indicators (such as fecal matter) that may lead to E. coli,” Chan said. Manure used as fertilizer, nearby pastures, and wildlife

Titan Tire auction at Farm Progress Show to support FFA Titan Tire will sponsor a tire auction to support the Illinois FFA on Aug. 30 and 31 at the Farm Progress Show, Decatur. The auction will be held at 1 p.m. both days on Lot 1205 located between 11th and 12th streets next to East Progress Ave. The auction will include a wide range of tires plus seed corn, crop chemicals, and miscellaneous items donated by Farm Progress Show exhibitors. The same number and sizes of tires will be offered both days of the auction. A complete list of tires available at the auction will be posted online at {www.illinoisffa.org} and {www.centralillinoisauctions.net}. Prospective bidders may register for the auction and pick up a bidder number in the FFA/Agricultural Education tent each day before the auction on Tuesday and Wednesday. Cash, check, or credit card will be accepted.

Country Financial to offer Farm Progress Show relaxation Country Financial will help Farm Progress Show visitors relax and learn Aug. 30 through Sept. 1. Country will be located in Booth 749 next to the Illinois Farm Bureau at the Decatur farm show. Visitors may register to win a Cub Cadet lawn tractor or one of six rocking chairs, four of which will be available for a relaxing test run on the

Country front porch. “We welcome all visitors to our booth to sit back and share a free glass of lemonade with us. We’ll also be available to talk about farmers’ interests — everything from crop coverage to protecting newly purchased equipment,” said Sheri Bane, director of commercial agribusiness and product development.

Documentary about raw milk sales to show in Chicago File this in the “just so you know” category: A documentary about government intervention in sales of raw milk will be shown at the end of August in Chicago’s Gene Siskel Center. Entitled “Farmageddon — the Unseen War on American Family Farms,” the documentary was made by filmmaker Kristin Canty. The film shows federal, state, and local governments’ actions in the case of a Venice, Calif., health food co-op. Canty is a member of the Farm-to-Consumer Legal Defense Fund, based in Falls Church, Va.

Diane Chan, ag engineer, demonstrates automated imaging methods developed by USDA’s Ag Research Service (ARS) that can be used to improve the effectiveness of chicken inspections without sacrificing processing time. The U.S. poultry industry, which produces about 9 billion chickens each year, could inspect about 140 birds per minute with each device at processing plants around the country. The current prototype is being tested at the ARS Environmental Microbial and Food Safety Lab in Beltsville, Md. (Photo by Daniel Grant)

are potential sources of fecal contamination on fresh produce. Surface defects on fruits and vegetables, which can be detected with spectral imaging, also can favor bacterial growth. ARS also is studying the use if spectral sensing for the highspeed inspection of single kernels of cereal grain.

The technology could be used to detect scab-damaged wheat kernels, for example, that often are shrunken, underweight, difficult to mill, and contaminated with mycotoxins. Overall, the priorities at ARS specified by the Obama administration are food safety, food security, nutrition/child-

hood obesity, bioenergy, and climate change, according to Jay Green, technical information specialist at the ARS Beltsville Ag Research Center in Maryland. ARS has about 2,500 scientists working on about 1,200 projects with an annual budget of about $1 billion.


FarmWeek Page 10 Monday, August 22, 2011


Page 11 Monday, August 22, 2011 FarmWeek

YOUNG LEADERS

USGC official: Good corn crop in China won’t satisfy demand BY DANIEL GRANT FarmWeek

The U.S. Grains Council (USGC) earlier this month toured the northern plain of China and found what appears to be more corn acres and better-than-average growing conditions. But even a bumper corn crop in China this year likely won’t satisfy booming demand there, according to Floyd Gaibler, USGC director of trade policy. “Even though they (the Chinese) expanded corn acreage this year, they’re not in a good situation (to meet all the demand for corn),” Gaibler told Illinois Farm Floyd Gaibler Bureau Marketers to Washington participants. China’s stocks-to-use ratio for corn the past five years has plummeted from about 30 percent to 15 percent. Meanwhile, Chinese demand for feed grains is increasing about 3 to 6 percent per year due to increased demand for food spurred by a growing population that has more spending power. China’s middle class is expected to surpass 325 million people (larger than the entire U.S. population) by 2020 while the gross domestic production (GDP) there has been growing at an annual clip of about 9 percent the past decade. “It (China’s GDP) is slowing a bit, but we still expect rapid economic growth, which translates to increased food demand,” Gaibler said. Chinese farmers have

YOUNG LEADER AWARD WINNERS

responded to increased food demand by planting more fruits and vegetables, according to the USGC official. They also are building up hog pro-

FarmWeekNow.com Listen to comments from Floyd Gaibler about Chinese corn prospects at FarmWeekNow.com.

duction (the portion of hogs in commercial production facilities in China the past five years has grown from 35 percent to 65 percent) and the dairy herd (annual dairy feed demand is growing 14 percent). The shifts on Chinese farms have cut into row crop production at a time when demand for grain and oilseeds is booming. China, which consistently was a net exporter of corn from the late 1990s until recent years, reportedly ordered 21 million bushels of U.S. corn in July, which was more than USDA expected for the entire year, the Wall Street Journal reported. “They (the Chinese) have accepted the reality they have to import their soybeans,” Gaibler said. “And their ability to expand (corn) production is limited.” The USGC official estimated China corn import needs may reach 15 million metric tons (585 million bushels) by 2015. China also is on pace to increase its imports of U.S. distillers grains from 3.2 million metric tons (mmt) in 2010 to anywhere from 4 mmt to 8 mmt in the next few years. The U.S. currently exports about 10 mmt of distillers grains per year to all destinations.

QUIZ BOWL COMPETITORS

Teams of county Farm Bureau Young Leaders test their knowledge during a round of the Young Leader Agri-Quiz Bowl on Agriculture Day at the Illinois State Fair. A team from Champaign County captured first place. The other winning teams were from Perry County, second place; Sangamon County, third place; and Effingham County, fourth place. (Photo by Cyndi Cook)

Stephanie and Kirk Liefer of Red Bud in Randolph County last week won the 2011 Illinois Farm Bureau Young Leader Achievement Award. The announcement was made during the Illinois State Fair in Springfield. The Achievement Award recognizes extraordinary accomplishments in farming and leadership. Matt and Jenna Kilgus of Fairbury in Livingston County were the runners-up. Also at the fair, Alan Chesnut, right, of Ridge Farm in Vermilion County won the 2011 Young Leader Excellence in Ag Award. The award recognizes Young Leaders who may not be full-time farmers for their efforts in ag and leadership achievement. (Photos by Ken Kashian)


FarmWeek Page 12 Monday, August 22, 2011


Page 13 Monday, August 22, 2011 FarmWeek

from the counties

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UREAU — Farm Bureau will sponsor a fall task force meeting at 6 p.m. Tuesday, Sept. 6, at the Farm Bureau office. Members will be able to choose from four main task forces which include education, member relations, farm business, and government and policy. Members will attend only two meetings a year. Call the Farm Bureau office at 815875-6468 for more information. • Farm Bureau and Ag in the Classroom will sponsor a fall kickoff meeting for teachers at 4 p.m. Wednesday, Sept. 7, at the Farm Bureau office. Sara Hildebrand, Ag in the Classroom coordinator, will have materials available for classroom instruction. Continuing education credits will be given to teachers who attend. Call the Farm Bureau office at 815-8756468 or e-mail Sara at aitc.bcfb@comcast.net for reservations or more information. ARROLL — Farm Bureau will sponsor an “On the Road” seminar at 7 p.m. Wednesday at the Carroll County Fairgrounds. Call the Farm Bureau office at 815-2443001 or go online at {carrollcfb@grics.net} for reservations or more information. ASALLE — LaSalle, Grundy, Kendall, and Will County Farm Bureaus will sponsor a bus trip Tuesday, Aug. 30, to the Farm Progress Show, Decatur. Cost is $40. Call the Farm Bureau office at 815-4330371 or the Kendall County Farm Bureau at 630-553-7403 for more information. • The annual seed plot day will be at noon Tuesday, Sept. 6, at the corner of E 12th and 2950th Road, Ottawa. Lunch will be served. Todd Tesdal, GraincoFS marketing manager, will be the speaker. Call the Farm Bureau office at 815-4330371 for more information.

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EE — The Lee County Farm Bureau Foundation will sponsor a raffle with five $100 prizes and one $1,000 grand prize. Tickets are $10 each. The winner will be selected at the Lee County Farm Bureau annual meeting at 10 a.m. Thursday, Jan. 19. All proceeds will help fund the ag literacy programs. Tickets are available at the Farm Bureau office or from a board director. Call the Farm Bureau office at 815857-3531 or e-mail leecfb@comcast.net for more information. IVINGSTON — The Livingston County Farm Bureau Foundation will sponsor a “Pull for Ag Students” fundraiser at 8:30 a.m. Sunday at the Livingston County Bureau Gun Club, 4-H Park, Pontiac. Fifty-bird derby is $15, which includes targets and lunch. All proceeds will benefit the Foundation and Naylor Scholarship. Call the Farm Bureau office for more information. • The Marketing Committee will sponsor an “Ag Professionals” breakfast at 7:30 a.m. Thursday, Sept. 1, at the Pontiac Family Kitchen, Pontiac. Jerry Quick, former Illinois Farm Bureau senior counsel, will discuss master agreements for sale of grain and prepayments for ag inputs. Call the Farm Bureau office at 815-842-1103 or e-mail tvlcfb@frontier.com by Monday, Aug. 29, for reservations or more information. EORIA — The deadline to submit pictures for the photo contest is Thursday, Sept. 1. Members should place their name on the back of each picture. Cash awards will be given for first, second, and third place in three categories. A Best of Show award also will be given. OCK ISLAND — Farm Bureau is seeking

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nominations for the first ever Hall of Fame award to be presented to individuals who have made an impact on Rock Island County farming and agriculture. The winner will be be announced at the Harvest Gala event at 6 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 12, at the iWireless Center, Moline. Nomination forms are available at the Farm Bureau office. Deadline to submit nominations is Wednesday, Aug. 31. TARK — Farm Bureau will sponsor a river cruise Thursday, Sept. 15, from St. Louis to Kimmswick, Mo. Lunch will be at the Blue Owl with shopping to follow. Cost is $130, which includes bus, cruise, and lunch. The bus will leave the Farm Bureau office at 5:30 a.m. Call the Farm Bureau office at 286-7481 for more information. TEPHENSON — Farm Bureau will sponsor a bus trip Wednesday, Aug. 31, to the Farm Progress Show, Decatur. Passengers will be picked up in Freeport and Rockford. Cost is $30 for members and $35 for non-members, which includes transportation and refreshments on the bus. Discounted show admission can be found at

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{www.farmprogressshow.com}. Call the Farm Bureau office at 815-232-3186 for reservations or more information. • Orders for Terri Lynn nuts and candies are due and must be paid for by Oct. 28. Delivery will be the week of Thanksgiving. Visit the website {www.stephensoncfb.org} or call 815-232-3186 for more information. • A family portrait program for members will be Nov. 1213 at the Farm Bureau office. Katie Lynn Photography will provide the portraits. Call the Farm Bureau office at 815-2323186 for a sitting or visit the website {www.stephensoncfb.org} for more information. ERMILION — Ag in the Classroom open houses will be from 4 to 7 p.m. Monday, Aug. 29, and from 4 to 5 p.m. Tuesday, Aug. 30, in the Farm Bureau auditorium. Staci Walker, ag literacy coordinator, will have ag learning kits and materials available. Classroom presentations also may be scheduled with the teachers. • The Vermilion County Farm Bureau Foundation is asking farmers to consider donating some of their fall harvest to the Acres for Agricul-

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ture Education fundraising drive. Producers may pledge any amount of grain and work with their local elevator so that the donation gets applied to the foundation. Call the Farm Bureau office at 217-442-8713 for more information. AYNE — The third annual Wayne County Tractor Drive will be on Labor Day, Sept. 5. The event will begin and end at the Wayne County Fairgrounds, Fairfield. Tractors will travel to White Farms, Geff. Forty antique tractors of the Carroll White Collection will be on display. Download an application at {www.waynecfb.com}. HITE — The annual White County crop tour will begin at 7 a.m. with breakfast Wednesday, Sept. 7, at the Farm Bureau office. Teams will return at 11 a.m. for lunch and accumulation of data. Call the Farm Bureau office at 618-382-8512 for reservations or more information.

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


FarmWeek Page 14 Monday, August 22, 2011

proFitability

2011 crop still holds promise for a strong B+ into this year, the concept of applying a fungicide early in the growth stage was new and exciting, a means to protect the corn crop early from disease. That application was adopted with some success. In many places, the corn crop went from V1 to V10 in no time at all, resulting in a short window to make the fungicide application. Over the last couple months, the

normal fungicide application timing saw many fields treated with a fungicide. It’s important to understand that integrated pest management practices should be followed, and that your crop specialist can explain the conditions that would suggest the use of fungicide early in the 2012 growing season. Many growers have been including nitrogen stabilizers

to protect nitrogen in the environment. Crop specialists have taken the approach of managing nitrogen applications as a system. This helps protect the environment as well as gives the corn crop the chance to achieve maximum yields. If you’re not aware of this practice or need more information, contact your local FS crop specialist. We gave this year’s crop the

best chance for success. As combines begin rolling and you start planning for next year, take time to learn from practices implemented this year and consider them for next year to give your farming operation a strong start in 2012.

BY DANIEL GRANT FarmWeek

environmental scientist, told participants of the Illinois Farm Bureau Marketers to Washington trip this month. A lot of research has been done on how different ag lands/farm practices — such as cropland, forests, and animal feedlots — impact GHG emissions, according to Eve. USDA is in the process of developing a computer-based tool that can assess all types of operations and how they interact with each other. “The tool being developed will be user-friendly so landowners can evaluate different management scenarios,” Eve said. “The tool could be applied anywhere in the country on any type of operation.” An expert/peer review of the GHG guidelines and tool is scheduled for the spring of 2012 followed by a public review in August 2013. Eve noted the GHG guide-

lines could help USDA react more quickly in the event Congress passes climate change legislation. He insisted the guidelines are not designed to create legislation or regulations. “First and foremost, it’s a tool landowners can use to enter negotiations with the understanding there are types of (environmental) practices on their farms that may be worth some money,” Eve said. “We are on the side of producers to make sure there is good science” behind any possible GHG-reducing practices. More information is available online at {www.usda.gov/oce/climate_change/}. Elsewhere, USDA at its Agricultural Research Service (ARS) in Beltsville, Md., is targeting traits in crops that may be more valuable in the future when farmers will have to feed

more people in possibly different growing conditions. “We have a massive program under way to determine the genes responsible for root architecture” in most major crops, said Jack Okamuro, national program leader of genetic improvement in crops at ARS. A better understanding and use of traits responsible for root structure can help researchers improve water and nutrient use efficiency in crops, according to Okamuro. ARS researchers also are targeting crop traits that allow better light absorption, control biomass production, and that grow better in more saline soils. “It’s becoming even more important to address anticipated environmental challenges,” Okamuro added. “Global food security is one of (Secretary Vilsack’s) priorities.”

BY JEFF BUNTING

Even though this year’s crop was planted late, it was looking strong through the month of June and then came the hot, dry weather in July. Jeff Bunting Some are convinced that the crop will be below expectations. However, I would suggest that it is a strong B+. Let me explain. FS crop specialists have commented that many of their customers stuck to their original plans despite the late growing season. Last winter, the common phrase was weed resistance. Many soybean acres were treated with a soil-applied herbicide to help with hard-tocontrol weeds and provide residual control throughout the season. Yes, there are a number of issues with certain weed species, but many of the soybean fields across Illinois still look weed-free today. For those fields that have herbicide resistance, your crop specialist will be able to help you identify a solution for 2012. Another bright spot has been the use of fungicides to help protect yield. Going

USDA focuses on role of ag in changing environment Agriculture, a source of methane and nitrous oxide, often gets blasted in climate change debate. However, USDA researchers and scientists believe the industry actually can help lower greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions in the future through increased carbon sequestration and biofuels production. USDA’s Climate Change Program Office is attempting to develop a standard set of GHG guidelines and methods for measurement that can help farmers participate in environmental markets down the road. “We’re trying to develop the tools to allow landowners to participate in any type of environmental markets that may be available,” Marlen Eve, USDA

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 $19.00-$42.25 $34.16 $33.00 $33.00 n/a n/a This Week Last Week 18,722 26,971 *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 $99.99 $101.40 $73.99 $75.04

Change -1.41 -1.04

USDA five-state area slaughter cattle price Steers Heifers

This week 113.84 113.71

Jeff Bunting is GROWMARK’s crop protection marketing manager. His e-mail address is jbunting@growmark.com.

(Thursday’s price) Prev. week Change 116.02 -2.18 116.03 -2.32

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 134.67 -0.28

This week 134.39

Lamb prices Slaughter Prices - Negotiated, Live, wooled and shorn 110-190 lbs. for 167.24-212 $/cwt. (wtd. ave. 188.86); dressed, no sales reported.

Export inspections (Million bushels) Week ending Soybeans Wheat Corn 8-11-11 4.3 18.4 27.6 8-04-11 6.1 27.3 35.5 Last year 16.7 22.0 33.0 Season total 1458.6 230.5 1693.6 Previous season total 1429.5 187.9 1767.4 USDA projected total 1540 1295 1900 Crop marketing year began June 1 for wheat and Sept. 1 for corn and soybeans.

Cattle prices unfazed by bearish USDA report Cattle prices, which dropped about $6 per hundredweight early last week, hardly nudged Friday despite the release of a fairly bearish cattle on feed report.

FarmWeekNow.com For more details of USDA’s cattle on feed repor t, go to FarmWeekNow.com.

USDA on Friday estimated the number of cattle and calves on feed as of Aug. 1 in the U.S. (10.63 million head) was up 8 percent from a year ago. Meanwhile, placements in feedlots in July were pegged at 2.15 million head, 22 percent above a year ago. The projections for placements and cattle on feed were up slightly from pre-report estimates, according to Graham Utter, AgriVisor market analyst. “When you look at what the market did (last week), (traders) expected the report to be bearish, and that’s the way it came out,” Utter said. December cattle futures, which last week plunged from about $122 per hundredweight

to $116, remained steady on Friday afternoon. “We’re not seeing much response (to the report) in the futures market,” Utter said. “If that’s any indication, this report already was built into the market.” The run-up in on-feed and marketing numbers likely was the result of a tightening feed situation, according to Utter. Corn prices have firmed up in recent weeks as USDA this month lowered its national yield estimate by more than 4 bushels per acre while at the same time severe drought in the southern U.S. has burned up crops and reduced feed availability. “We’re seeing strong corn prices,” Utter said. “It’s going to cause these (cattle) guys to push cattle through feedlots faster and continue the liquidation of herds.” Fortunately, cattle prices should remain strong as well. Utter predicted prices briefly could dip to $112 to $114 per hundredweight in the wake of the bearish report but then rebound back to the $116 to $120 trading range.

“The saving grace of the whole report is exports continue to be strong,” the analyst said. U.S. beef exports in June totaled $461.8 million, which was the second-highest total ever and 23 percent higher than in June 2010, the U.S. Meat Export Federation reported. In fact, beef exports currently are on pace to set a yearly record and, for the first time ever, could eclipse $5 billion. — Daniel Grant


Page 15 Monday, August 22, 2011 FarmWeek

PROFITABILITY Corn Strategy

C AS H ST RAT E GI S T

Corn crop mirror image of ’10? Even though population details are lacking, we believe the population counts are somewhere between the levels of the last two years. Given that and the state acreage/yield estimates in the August report, we’ve been able to come up with an approximate “implied ear weight” for the August production estimate. To really understand the implications of this implied ear weight, one has to understand the construction of the USDA production report. It is comprised of both data collected in the field and a farmer survey, with yield/production estimates coming from each data source. On the field data collected in August, USDA typically assigns an average ear weight and assumes normal weather through the remainder of the growing season. The five-year average of the final ear weight is .3338 of a pound, above the implied ear weight we have calculated. The implied ear weight we derive from data provided includes the yield results from both the field data and farmer survey. Given that it’s below the average USDA uses for estimating yield from the field data, it

suggests farmer yield expectations on average were below the 153-bushel yield USDA forecast in the August report. Given last year’s experience, that doesn’t surprise us. Farmer expectations were extremely high mid-summer. The implied ear weight on the August report was near record high and above the five-year average at that time. It declined somewhat by the September report with the warm August temperatures, only to fall precipitously after that when farmers started harvest and realized the crops weren’t nearly as good as they hoped. As one USDA analyst put it regarding the two data sources they have to project yields, “farmers were slowest to realize the crop wasn’t there.” Given last year’s experience, the July heat, and the low early “implied ear weight,” we cannot help but wonder if the opposite might be true to some degree this year. Admittedly, yields will be down, but are producers over-reacting the other way to some degree this year? Elwynn Taylor at Iowa State University recently forecast a 149-bushel corn yield. Based on the understanding of USDA procedures and its August report, we think there’s little risk of a significant decline in yields. And we wouldn’t be shocked if the final one proves to be slightly higher than the September USDA projection.

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ü2010 crop: Wrap up oldcrop sales on strength. Ending stocks could grow from the latest USDA forecast. ü2011 crop: Acreage uncertainty joined negative yield expectations to carry December corn to a new contract high last week. Economic uncertainty and a risk-averse attitude of investors kept markets from exploding higher when new highs were achieved. That economic uncertainty and moderating weather may make it more difficult for the market to easily sustain gains. Overdone technical indicators leave the market vulnerable to sharp breaks. If you are comfortable with production prospects, boost sales to 60 percent, preferably with a hedge-toarrive (HTA) contract for winter/spring delivery. vFundamentals: Private yield estimates are seen as either confirming the low USDA forecast or causing some to discount potential a little more. The trade will be closely watching the results from this week’s Corn Belt crop tour. Export interest is being subdued by high prices and the availability of feed wheat in the world.

Soybean Strategy

ü2010 crop: Unless nearby futures quickly pop above $14, there’s little reason to hold old-crop inventory. ü2011 crop: With November futures back in the upper end of the $13-$14 range, we recommend you get sales caught up to recommended levels, using comfortable yield expectations. vFundamentals: Soybean prices are still taking their cue from the other two grains because of relative price relationships, especially with corn. Amid this, demand continues to struggle with ongoing poor crush margins and slow export business. The new-crop export sale total is less than last year, and trending at a more subdued pace. The U.S. will fight the availability of South American supplies deeper into the fall than usual. The Farm Service Agency acreage numbers gave the market a brief lift, but they are deemed less important to soybeans than the other two major crops.

Wheat Strategy ü2011 crop: The short-term trend in wheat has turned up, with Chicago December futures clearing $7.50. Use current strength to make catch up sales. We may recommend another 20 percent sale if December moves up near $8. Check the Hotline daily. If you need to move wheat out of storage before fall harvest, either get it priced or arrange for commercial storage. The carry in futures more than pays for commercial storage. Because of the carry, we prefer

HTA contracts for winter or spring delivery for sales. vFundamentals: The recent market strength was based in part on concern about spring wheat yields and the rebound in equity markets. Early harvest reports in the Northern Plains suggest the summer’s warm, dry conditions may have helped cap yield potential. At the same time, the approach of planting in the Southern Plains and the persistent drought already is triggering concern about the 2012 wheat crop.


FarmWeek Page 16 Monday, August 22, 2011

perspectives

Farmers pitch in to protect nation For farmers and ranchers, upholding one’s duty to defend and protect the liberties and ideals for which our nation stands is not a choice but rather a debt. This patriotic spirit has been engrained in rural agricultural communities since the birth of our nation. Even today, more than 44 percent of all U.S. military troops boast rural roots. MICHAEL PETTENGILL guest columnist

America’s farmers and ranchers always have demonstrated unwavering commitment to protecting our nation from threats both foreign and domestic. And, as the U.S. faces the growing threat of individual acts of terrorism, farmers are honoring their national duty by supporting Department of Homeland Security (DHS) regulations on ammonium nitrate fertilizer. While many farmers and ranchers have transitioned away from ammonium nitrate, the compound still is used as a nitrogen source for many crops, particularly in warmer climates. However, in the right concentrations, ammonium nitrate can be added to explosive

devices to increase the magnitude of explosions. Ammonium nitrate was used in several terrorist attacks including the 2005 London underground bombings, and the 1995 Oklahoma City bombing that killed 168 people and cost the U.S. $1.35 billion. In 2007, new legislation instructed DHS to step up existing efforts to protect the nation from the potential misuse of ammonium nitrate. Earlier this summer, DHS announced initial steps toward creating the Ammonium Nitrate Security Program (ANSP). Unlike previous DHS programs focused primarily on security at high-risk chemical facilities, ANSP is designed to increase controls and monitoring of sales, purchases, and transfers of the product. Purchasers, sellers, and individuals involved in the transfer of ammonium nitrate products containing 30 percent or more of the compound by weight would be required to register for approval by DHS. The registration process is estimated to take about two hours and will require a payment every five years (based on volume purchased) that the agency estimates would average from less than $100 up to

$832 for farm use. Purchasers who use ammonium nitrate but never come in direct contact with it are not required to register. According to DHS, the program will be cost-effective if it prevents just one attack the size of the Oklahoma City bombing every 14 years. In keeping with farmers’ and ranchers’ commitment to protecting our great nation, Farm Bureau is working to support efforts that help further secure ammonium nitrate. This includes requiring individuals making purchases to show positive identification and increased agency oversight of sales, provided undue burdens are not placed on farmers, fertilizer distributors, and dealers. Farmers and ranchers are proud to produce agricultural products to meet the growing global demand for food. Now more than ever, it is important that we provide our farmers and ranchers with every tool at our disposal. However, we also must keep in mind that the risk of ammonium nitrate being used to commit acts of terror is real. The new standards will allow farmers and ranchers to assist DHS in monitoring ammonium nitrate while still

ensuring the product is available for agricultural production. While national security must come first, food security is equally important in ensuring the success of our nation and its economy. Through the

combined efforts of both DHS and our farmers and ranchers, we can achieve balance between the two. Michael Pettengill is a public relations intern at the American Farm Bureau Federation.

A call for common sense biotech crop regulation by the government Once a year, I file an application with the federal government for my water supply. If I miss TED SHEELY the deadguest columnist line by just a day, my farm in California’s Central Valley won’t receive even a trickle of water for crop irrigation. Nothing will grow and my livelihood will be ruined. So I always make sure this paperwork is done properly and submitted ahead of schedule. Perhaps you experience something similar on April 15, as you scramble to pay taxes. It would be nice if the government returned the favor by performing important work in a timely manner. Unfortunately, its refusal to do so now threatens our country’s economy and food security. Federal regulators are sup-

posed to take about six months to approve new biotech crop traits that benefit both farmers and consumers. This is according to the government’s own guidelines. In reality, the process now takes an average of almost three years. Instead of trying to speed up this dawdling performance, however, Washington may allow the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to build new hurdles that will turn a bad situation worse, threatening our country’s economy and food security. It shouldn’t be this way. President Obama said so earlier this year, in his State of the Union address. He announced a review of government regulations “to reduce barriers to growth and investment.” Then he made a promise: “When we find rules that put an unnecessary burden on business, we will fix them.”

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Obama should fix the delays in biotech crop approvals immediately. Biotechnology has revolutionized farming, allowing us to grow more food on less land and at lower costs. It has strengthened our nation’s food supply and energized rural economies. For years, the U.S. has led the world in the research, development, and commercialization of these outstanding products. We’re on the verge of even greater progress, as scientists develop crops with traits such as drought tolerance and the benefits of biotechnology being spread to minor crops. Yet instead of capitalizing on this success, we’re letting our competitive advantage slip away. Last year, Brazil approved eight new biotech traits for corn, soybeans, and cotton, according to Agri-Pulse. The United States managed

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to approve only two new traits. At this rate, a dozen years will pass before the USDA’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) gets through the 24 applications it already has pending. A petition submitted this year would receive an answer in 2023. The delays will grow even longer if the EPA gets involved. “The increased regulatory burdens that would result from this expansion would impose steep barriers to scientific innovation and product development across all sectors of our economy and would not only fail to enhance safety, but would likely prolong reliance on less safe and obsolete practices,” a group of 60 scientists, including two Nobel laureates, wrote to EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson last month. We must restore common sense to biotech regulations. If you’re late for your job, the boss docks your pay. Yet the federal government can ignore its own self-imposed regulatory deadlines. Fortunately, a first-term member of Congress has proposed a bill which offers a solution that merits discussion.

Rep. Stephen Fincher is from Frog Jump, Tenn. — it’s a real place. He has suggested a way for biotech crops to leapfrog a sluggish regulatory process. His legislation would require APHIS to make a decision on crop applications within 180 days (or a little longer if reasonable extensions are required). “As a farmer myself, I understand that a more efficient approval process will result in increased investment and jobs,” Fincher said. Best of all, this legislation would boost our economy at no cost to taxpayers or the government. At a time of 9 percent unemployment and shattered debt ceilings, it may not be a perfect solution, but it’s a creative and potentially effective response to a nagging problem. Fincher proposes a deadline, but what he’s really offering is a lifeline. Ted Sheely raises lettuce, cotton, tomatoes, wheat, pistachios, wine grapes, and garlic on a family farm in California. He is a board member of Truth About Trade and Technology that is online at {www.truthabouttrade.org}.


FarmWeek August 22 2011