FarmWeek August 2 2010

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THE UNIVERSITY of Illinois’ new president warned the university must address a long-term trend of fewer state dollars. ..........2

T H E FA R M S E R V I C E Agency today opened the first CRP general sign-up period in more than four years. .................7

ILLINOIS STUDENTS may receive real-world lessons about wind energy through a new Wind for Schools program. .....................9

Monday, August 2, 2010

Three sections Volume 38, No. 31

Flooding in Northern Illinois ‘absolutely crazy’ BY DANIEL GRANT FarmWeek

Farmers in Northern Illinois are unsure how their crops will react to the recent major flood because many never have experienced anything like it before. Large portions of Northwestern Illinois including Carroll, Jo Daviess, Stephenson, and surrounding counties received a foot or more of rain in less than 48 hours July 23 and 24. “We’ve had flooding before, but not at these levels,” said Larry Alexander, president of the Carroll County Farm Bureau, who has farmed near Chadwick since 1974. “I’ve never seen anything like it before. It came up very fast.” The rain came so fast and furious that floodwater was 9 to 10-plus feet deep in some fields, according to Chas Welch, manager of the Carroll County Farm Bureau. She reported many bean fields were underwater, some cornfields on low ground were submerged up to the tassels, and the floodwaters displaced some dairy herds. (See accompanying story on page 3) “We had over 12 inches (of rain) in Lanark,” Welch said. “Everything was out of its

banks. It was absolutely crazy.” The Kishwaukee River near Perryville last week was predicted to crest at about 16 feet (four feet above flood level), the Pecatonica River near Shirland was predicted to crest at 15 feet (three feet above flood stage), and the Rock River at Rockton was expected to crest at 12.4 feet (2.4 feet above flood level), the Rockford Register Star reported. Elsewhere, Bruce Johnson, manager of the Stephenson County Farm Bureau, told FarmWeek he dumped a total of 13.9 inches of rain from his gauge near Freeport in just 36 hours. “This is going to take a long time (to assess losses and rebuild damaged structures) once the floodwaters recede,” he said. An estimated 1,000 homes sustained flood damage in Stephenson County, the Freeport Journal Standard reported. A number of roads and bridges last week were closed in the region. Gov. Pat Quinn on July 26 declared 12 counties in North-

sets that back in a lot of areas.” The situation was similar in other pockets of the state. Dale Hadden, a farmer from Jacksonville in Morgan County and Illinois Farm Bureau District 10

director, told FarmWeek his area from July 18 to July 24 received anywhere from 9 to 13.5 inches of rain. See Flooding, page 3

The Pecatonica River flowed through the Meier family dairy farm on July 25 near Ridott in Stephenson County. Farmers from the area joined family and friends to help evacuate the cows and calves. Clean up and sanitizing of milking facilities started last week after the flood waters started receding. A story and more photos appear on page 3. (Photo courtesy of Kimberly Meier)

Farm Policy Task Force convenes

O’Conner: ‘Start early, think hard,’ unite BY MARTIN ROSS FarmWeek

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ern and Western Illinois disaster areas because of flood damage. “We had tremendous crop potential (prior to the flood),” Johnson said. “This certainly

With diverse interests seeking a piece of the 2012 farm bill pie and lawmakers likely to snack on that pie next year, producers must “start early, think hard, and then find a way to weld agriculture together as a unit.” That’s according to Bill O’Conner, a former USDA chief of staff and key congressional policy staffer who helped develop five previous farm bills. O’Conner kicked off last week’s inaugural meeting of Illinois Farm Bureau’s 36-member Farm Policy Task Force, which is charged with developing ag policy concepts for Farm Bureau to

promote on Capitol Hill. House Ag Committee Chairman Collin Peterson (DMinn.) already has begun hearings with a goal of drafting legislation by late 2011. But O’Connor warns sweeping “budget reconciliation” debate, aimed at deficit reduction, could determine “the size and shape of farm programs” as early as next spring. The congressional budget process starts in late February or March, and although reconciliation “is not a certainty,” O’Conner sees a major budget assault as likely, given annual deficits running at $1.5 trillion and taxpayers upset over current spending.

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“It could be a pretty rough process,” O’Conner told FarmWeek. “A very large number of members, whatever party they are, are going to be new (in 2011). They’re barely going to be able to find their way around town before they’ll be asked to vote on a budget. “The ag community needs to be with the people close to them who are new, and the ones who are not so new, and make sure they understand the significance of this budget for agriculture as soon as possible.” O’Conner doubts the next squeeze will hit nutrition (which received $10 billion in new funding under the 2008 farm bill to capture 65 percent

of current ag spending) or conservation. That leaves farm programs and crop insurance, the latter of which took a $6 billion cut in the 2008 farm bill and a similar hit under USDA’s new standard reinsurance agreement. O’Conner noted “there’s not much left” after subtracting money for nutrition and conservation programs, and farm programs thus could be expected to make only a “relatively small contribution” from meager available funds. The outcome of November’s mid-term elections will See Task force, page 4

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


FarmWeek Page 2 Monday, August 2, 2010

THE BUDGET

Quick Takes EPA REJECTS PETITIONS — The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) last week denied petitions from the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and nine other petitioners asking the administration to reconsider its December 2009 human health “endangerment finding” used to justify agency regulation of greenhouse gas emissions. That leaves EPA free to regulate greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions from factories, vehicles, or even ag sources under the Clean Air Act. EPA’s finding concluded carbon dioxide and other GHGs pose a threat to health and welfare. “The endangerment finding is based on years of science from the U.S. and around the world,” said EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson, who said the petitions were based “on selectively edited, out-of-context data and a manufactured controversy.” But Robin Conrad with the Chamber’s National Litigation Center, charged EPA misstated its assertions and data — “Our petition never claimed that ‘climate science cannot be trusted,’ as the EPA misleadingly claims.” “The Chamber’s petition challenged the wisdom of regulating greenhouse gases under the Clean Air Act, which simply was never intended to regulate something as complex as the problem of climate change,” Conrad said. FUEL-FOOD PHOOEY? — A new report from the World Bank concludes “the effect of biofuels on food prices has not been as large as originally thought.” Instead, it said, use of commodities by financial investors may have been partly responsible for a 2007-08 “spike” in food prices. In 2008, the World Bank blamed biofuels for 75 percent of the commodity price spike. But John Baffes and Tassos Haniotis, authors of the new report, argued it is unlikely biofuels played a major role because they do not represent a large percentage of worldwide grain and oilseed use. VET INVESTMENT — The U.S. House Ag Committee unanimously approved the Veterinary Services Investment Act last week. The bill would authorize “such sums as necessary” for a competitive grant program to relieve veterinary shortage situations and support veterinary services. The new grant program would be administered by USDA’s National Institute for Food and Agriculture and assist states in addressing unique veterinary workforce needs. Awards under the new program may be used to support vet recruitment and retention, encourage veterinary technicians to work in underserved areas, bolster knowledge in food safety and protection, or even to establish mobile and portable veterinary clinics.

(ISSN0197-6680) Vol. 38 No. 31

August 2, 2010

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

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U of I president sees long-term shift away from state funding BY KAY SHIPMAN FarmWeek

The new University of Illinois president warned that the university must address a longterm trend of fewer state dollars, but it also must protect what is most important to the university. “We have to talk about what is important at the U of I and what is important in ACES (College of Agricultural, Consumer, and Environmental Sciences),” Michael Hogan told Illinois Farm Bureau board members during their recent board meeting. Hogan, who started his new position July 1, said he had no specific plans, but he mentioned a need to control costs and reduce duplication among the three campuses in Urbana-Champaign, Chicago, and Springfield. “The state and university have serious financial problems. These are not short-term problems,” the president said. “As we deal with this crisis ... we will deal with it as part of a long-term trend that will not be reversed.” But the state isn’t alone in shortchanging the university — especially for valuable research, according to Hogan. Research is a net cost to the university, although it received $800 million in research funding, he said. For example, the U of I spends $1.40 for every $1 it receives in grants from the National Institutes of Health (NIH), Hogan explained. “We need to convince the federal government to step in and identify the research that is important to U.S. competitiveness” and fund it

accordingly, he said. Underfunded activities, such as research, increase the pressure to raise tuition, Hogan noted. But families and students expect money from higher tuition to be spent on undergraduate education, he added. “People like me have to strike a balance, and I’m not sure what that (balance) is,” Hogan told

‘ We have to talk about what is important at the U of I and what is important in ACES.’ — Michael Hogan President, University of Illinois

IFB board members. “As we reshape the university, there are some things that we’re not going to be able to do anymore. “We have to identify what is truly important at the U of I ... I think ACES will come out pretty good because we’re a land-grant (university),” Hogan said. Hogan said he learned the U of I administration and IFB have had a strained relationship at times, but he assured board members, “This is a new day.” That new relationship started while Hogan was still at the University of Connecticut. IFB was the first organization in Illinois to reach out to Hogan after he was named U of I president, he said. “I feel at home in Illinois and at home with people who do what you do,” Hogan said, adding that he has Iowa farm roots.

Integrity project

Ag coalition seeks budget reform An Illinois agriculture coalition will roll up its collective sleeves to research and attempt to understand a severe problem. The issue? The state’s financial breakdown. The Integrity coalition, which will include the Illinois Farm Bureau and commodity groups, will look into the severity of the fiscal issue. “Everything is being impacted by the state’s fiscal condition,” said IFB Director Terry Pope, who will chair the Integrity coalition. “Local school districts, units of local government, private business, and agricultural programs are near bankruptcy because of the instability of state funds.” A major goal of the coalition will be to help farmers better understand the state’s funding situation and the debate on the fiscal situation in Springfield with an eye toward budget reform. On Tuesday, the group will hear diverse views on the state budget and funding issues at a Fiscal Integrity Forum sponsored by the Vision for Illinois Agriculture. “This will not be an easy task,” said Pope. “The state budget has seen multiple years of financial crisis, and we are afraid if something is

not done soon, the crisis will continue to worsen.” The problems are as immense as the state’s $13 billion budget deficit. The state’s General Revenue Fund — the

main funding source comprised of individual income tax, corporate income tax, sales tax, and other tax revenue — continues to decline. The state has carried over unpaid bills from one fiscal year to another every year since fiscal year 2002, leaving businesses unpaid and racking up millions of dollars in interest. The annual payment to the state pension fund is now $3.7 billion, while the debt for borrowing to make previous pension fund payments is $13.5 billion. “A mountain of debt and no fiscal progress have combined to make Illinois the worst credit risk in the nation — even riskier than California,” said Pope. — Kay Shipman


FarmWeek Page 3 Monday, August 2, 2010

THE FLOOD

‘That’s what farmers do — stick up for each other’ BY KAY SHIPMAN FarmWeek

An 80-mile journey for 250 dairy cows evacuated from their flooded barn and a remarkable story of one farm family helping another began with a phone call from a stranger. “I got the phone call about seven o’clock Saturday evening (July 24),” said Mike Larson, a Wisconsin dairyman. “He said, ‘I’m Glen Meier. I’ve never met you. I heard you’re building a barn. Do you have room for some cattle?’” Meier’s description of the dire situation facing the family’s dairy operation in Stephenson County, Ill., led Larson, general manager of Larson Acres, Evansville, Wis., to head south that evening. “I couldn’t believe how bad it was,” Larson remembered. “It was like something you see on the Weather Channel.” Larson immediately offered sanctuary for the Meiers’ cows in his family’s new unfurnished barn. Kimberly Meier, Glen’s niece, remembered that Larson immediately called his employees and told them to get stalls bedded and temporary gates put up for the Illinois cows. Larson assured the Meier family, including Kimberly’s dad, Keith, that they “would figure out all the details later. Just get those cows out to safety as soon as possible,”

Kimberly Meier recalled. Farmers from throughout the region brought about a dozen trucks and trailers and five semitrucks to help move the cattle north, according to Meier. Volunteers turned out in droves. For hours, they waded in cold water of the flooded Pecatonica River as they helped sort, chase, and load cattle, she said. “It was an overwhelming sight to behold,” Meier said. “We have no idea exactly who all was here to help. “We got the cattle out in the nick of time,” she continued. “I was there when the last two loads left the farm and heard the exhaust systems of the trucks pulling the trailers gurgling and bubbling underwater as they drove up the lane.” In addition to the Larson farm, three local dairies housed some of the Meiers’ cattle. By mid-week, the Pecatonica had started to recede and the Meier family started the long process of cleaning, sanitizing, and rebedding the once-flooded buildings. The evacuated cows remained at their temporary homes. Stephenson County Farm Bureau manager Bruce Johnson encouraged his members who need help recovering from the flood to contact the county

This is a tractor-cab view of the flooded Meier Dairy Farm near Ridott in Stephenson County. The family’s nursery for baby calves is shown in the foreground on the left. When the last calves were evacuated, the flood water level was over the calves’ heads. Behind the nursery stands submerged bunks and a barn used for young stock and bulls. (Photo courtesy Kimberly Meier)

Farm Bureau office at 815-2323186. Farmers interested in helping with flood cleanup also may contact the Farm Bureau office for information. “You see photos on the news all the time of things like this happening elsewhere in the world, never imagining it would happen to you,” Meier said. “Then when it does, and here

come all of these people out of the woodwork to help you save your livelihood, it restores your faith in the innate goodness of the people in your life.” Larson downplayed his family’s part in the drama. “I don’t think we did anything different than any other farmer would do. That’s what farmers do —

help each other out. “That’s the great thing about farmers. We stick up for each other,” Larson said. The Meier and Larson families may have met through a phone call from a stranger seeking help, but that, too, has changed. “I know we’ve met great new friends,” Larson said.

Twelve counties declared state disaster areas by Quinn

Below: Floodwater from the Plum River submerged and rendered unrecognizable a cornfield in the foreground, and the farmstead in the background of Jim Bergland near Mount Carroll in Carroll County along Old Galena Trail. Bergland, with the help of family and neighbors, Lee and Corinne Charles, last week was replacing his carpet as the basement of his home was completely flooded and the water was 1.5 feet deep on the first floor of the house. “I’ve never seen a flood anywhere close to this,” said Bergland, who will be 75 in September. Floodwater was above the windows of B e r g l a n d ’s c a r a s i t s a t p a r k e d i n t h e garage. He estimated it will take at least two months to repair damage from the flood. (Photo courtesy of John Keller)

Twelve counties in the northern half of the state have been designated state disaster areas because of recent flood damage. The counties are Carroll, Cook, DuPage, Henderson, Jo Daviess, Lee, Mercer, Ogle, Rock Island, Stephenson, Whiteside, and Winnebago counties. “Dozens of communities throughout Illinois are reeling from these exceptionally heavy rains (July 23-24),” said Gov. Pat Quinn. “The state has mobilized to help with recovery efforts.” On Monday, the state sent 125,000 sandbags and 20 rolls of plastic sheeting to Henderson County. More requests for help are anticipated. “While it’s too early to know if the damages will warrant a request for federal assistance, this state declaration is a necessary first step in submitting a request,” said Illinois Emergency Management Agency Interim Director Joe Klinger.

Flooding

Above: One blade of an Invenergy LLC wind turbine in a cornfield east of Grand Ridge in LaSalle County split and buckled apparently as a result of strong winds that blew up suddenly during the weekend of July 24-25. A spokesman said the turbines are designed to come to rest with one blade pointing down and parallel to the base of the tower in the event of high winds, but the winds came so quickly the safety mechanism didn’t have time to kick in. (Photo by Ken Kashian)

Continued from page 1 “We lost more crops in the bottom ground,” Hadden said. “Some beans we replanted in June are all gone now. “And the water was over the tops of the ears (on corn in bottom ground),” he continued. “What effect that will have (on yields), we don’t know yet.” Many farmers in Hadden’s area have been unable to harvest hay since June due to the wet conditions. “That will have a direct effect on the quantity and quality of hay in the area,” he said. Meanwhile, some parts of the state actually are on the dry side. Jim Anderson, a farmer from Thompsonville in Williamson County and IFB District 18 director, believes he already has lost the top end of yield potential due to a lack of moisture. “We’ve not had a good, soaking rain since June 25,” he reported.


FarmWeek Page 4 Monday, August 2, 2010

GOVERNMENT

RC seeks input on image, the budget, roads BY MARTIN ROSS FarmWeek

Illinois agriculture is at a crucial crossroads, amid a state budget crisis, obstacles to livestock industry growth, questions about Illinois’ future in “wind farming,” local regulatory policies that limit ag transportation, and concerns about farming’s public image. This week’s FarmWeek includes The Crossroads, a 2010 policy development supplement designed to guide county discussion of those concerns and the policies necessary to address them. Illinois Farm Bureau has joined with state commodity groups in a Farmer Image Campaign aimed at addressing consumer attitudes about agriculture and food. A key challenge lies in marshaling the resources needed to target consumers already bom-

FarmWeekNow.com You also can view the Crossroads supplement online at FarmWeekNow.com.

barded by dramatic, star-studded attacks on production agriculture and technology, according to RC Ag Policy/National Issues Subcommittee Chairman Paul Rasmussen. That means garnering greater support from within the consumer public and among business, academic, health-related, and other allies beyond the farm, Rasmussen suggested. He estimates annual dues from a mere 5 percent of the U.S. population could generate nearly $300 million for “broad-spectrum” public education. “Currently, it’s hard to compete with the campaigns of the animal welfare groups,” Ras-

FAS adviser: FTAs crucial to farmers

The president plans a late fall push to begin moving longdelayed free trade agreements (FTAs) that “offer a lot of benefits and a lot of opportunities” for U.S. producers, according to a USDA trade specialist. In November, President Obama is to travel to South Korea to iron out auto sector and other FTA challenges, before “getting it to Congress to be ratified,” USDA’s Foreign Agricultural Service (FAS) Senior Adviser Christine Turner related last week at Illinois Farm Bureau’s Commodities Conference. Failure to move FTAs would enable competitors such as Canada to capture potential U.S. market share, she said. “It’s critically important people like you are out there vocally talking about what this means to ag producers,” the Bloomington native told farmers. “Agriculture stands to gain so much from these free trade agreements. “Definitely, in the Korea situation, it’s non-ag issues holding things up. It may be above my pay grade as to how they’re going to get this passed through Congress, but certainly picking up the phone and talking to your congressional members or others is always helpful.” Turner noted South Korea and Colombia are “already in our top 11 markets,” the former ranking fifth with $4.4 billion in anticipated 2010 ag sales and Colombia 11th at a prospective $900 million in sales. But soybean exports to South Korea dropped 39 percent from 1999 to 2009, and Turner told FarmWeek the FTA could help growers regain market share. Meanwhile, she said officials are “working tirelessly” to negotiate gains in Russian and Chinese trade. China is “the key driver for strong U.S. export recovery in 2010,” with a projected $14 billion in purchases tentatively powering it past Japan as a U.S. ag customer. While China previously imported virtually no U.S. corn, since April it has bought a million metric tons (34.4 million bushels), possibly in preference to shipping it from northern China’s major grain area to southern China’s livestock belt. Turner believes transportation upgrades within China’s interior may be contributing to a growing demand for corn from coastal ports. A plan for implementing Obama’s National Export Initiative (aimed at doubling exports within five years) will consider containerized shipping resources, the condition of Midwest locks, and U.S. rail deficiencies Turner blames in part for market losses to Canada. Planned opening of a third lock at the Panama Canal in 2014 raises added concerns about U.S. ports being able to accommodate increased traffic in larger “Panamax” vessels used to ship containers. “Looking at our ports is certainly a huge factor, particularly for our ag exports,” Turner said. — Martin Ross

mussen told FarmWeek. “They have so many dollars, they can run national campaigns, and they appeal to people who have very little knowledge about agriculture. They place reliance on celebrities. “We don’t have the dollars currently available to be able to put on a program like that on a national basis. It would be very difficult to raise those dollars just from farmer-members. “There are a lot more people who have a stake in this. There are a lot of advocates for agriculture and for livestock production and for being able to eat meat. We need to go out and attract those kinds of people.”

Closer to home, the RC hopes to tap input on strategies to rein in livestock “nuisance” suits that threaten new or expanding operations before the first new animal can be brought onsite or even before construction starts. At the same time, the RC is feeling out members about the possibility of supporting higher state income taxes to stem Illinois’ budget crisis — “provided there’s a substantial cut in expenditures,” Rasmussen stressed. County Farm Bureaus are being asked to explore other potential tax measures and budget reforms, as well. The RC’s State and Local

Government (SLG) subcommittee is eyeing concerns about local road postings that can make movement of crops or animals a challenge. For example, SLG Vice Chairman David Sadler noted established livestock facilities can be forced to curtail winter deliveries in response to temporarily posted weight limits related to seasonal road conditions. Local broadband access and emergency 911 funding are added priorities for the SLG. Sadler noted the importance of updating 911 capabilities as more Illinoisans move from land-based phone service to cell phones.

Economist charts options for ACRE University of Illinois ag economist Gary Schnitkey suggests a variety of ways in which ag lawmakers could retool ACRE (the average crop revenue election program) to respond more effectively and easily to risk management needs. With only July and August average prices left to plug into federal program calculations, Schnitkey deemed it “highly likely” Illinois corn producers would see a state ACRE payment for 2009. ACRE payments are based on the combination of a national price trigger, a state yield trigger, and a per-acre farm yield that falls below the state trigger. Thus, a state ACRE payment “doesn’t necessarily mean a farm will get a payment,” Schnitkey stressed. He argued multiple triggers add to program complexity and can mean the difference between “a sizable payment and no payment.” Further, while Schnitkey sees prospects for higher corn ACRE payments next year, given longer-term price expectations, he does not anticipate Illinois soybean payments for either 2009 or 2010. According to the economist, ACRE alternatives for the next farm bill could include eliminating farm-level triggers, which would raise payment prospects and “eliminate a lot of the complexity of the program”; switching from a state yield trigger to county or crop reporting district guarantees “more closely aligned to what happens on the farm”; or moving from a season-average price trigger to a fall harvest price trigger similar to that in crop revenue insurance policies. The latter would help growers better coordinate insurance and marketing strategies and expedite ACRE payments (currently distributed roughly a year after harvest). But each option poses both

pros and cons. U of I analysis suggests a corn grower who receives a $14.34-per-acre payment under the existing program could see a $15.08 payment were the farm-level trigger eliminated or a $17.36 payment with use of county rather than a state trigger. Because Illinois has a greater correlation between harvest prices and yields than many other states, that producer might see only an $11.78-peracre corn payment, even if he receives it far earlier. While use of county yields could increase individual benefits, potential for increased payouts would raise ACRE’s federal price tag. A possible answer to that concern would be to institute a lower county-triggered coverage level, still improving payment potential but dropping U of Iprojected corn payments to $14.10. Growers may have to

accept such a compromise to sell ACRE reform, Schnitkey advised. “It’s likely going to have to be budget-neutral, given where we’re at with the U.S. government,” he told FarmWeek. Schnitkey said 2008 approval of standing ag disaster assistance was “probably a good idea,” vs. uncertain and costly annual “ad hoc” aid. However, he maintained SURE (supplemental revenue assistance) is “way too complex, with too many triggers.” Redirecting SURE funding to strengthen ACRE might prove more beneficial to growers, Schnitkey said. But he is wary of the idea of eliminating direct payments in favor of ACRE (ACRE participants already must sacrifice 20 percent of their annual direct payments). — Martin Ross

Task force Continued from page 1 flavor budget debate, though any shift in party control may have little impact on general ag targeting. Democrats are not “as dedicated to deficit reduction,” but likely would focus on a narrow range of targets, including “pure farm programs,” O’Conner said. Republicans, while more sympathetic, “have a greater appetite to make deficit reductions.” Currently grim re-election prospects for Senate Ag Chairman Blanche Lincoln (D-Ark.) pose a potentially significant shift in farm bill direction. Lincoln’s most likely successor as ag chairman would be Sen. Deb Stabenow (D.-Mich.), who, according to IFB President Philip Nelson, represents “a totally different view of ag,” leaning more toward the specialty crops that dominate Michigan production. But even if major ag players remain intact, O’Conner anticipates “a big magnitude shift of relative power and a lot of new faces,” likely slowing farm bill completion. In the interim, commodity and regional interests “need to sit down and try to figure out a way to work together,” he said. That could prove challenging, given differing Midwest and southern priorities. But O’Conner sees a united front as more crucial than ever as farmers face policy opposition from environmental interests and animal welfare groups such as the Humane Society of the United States, “which has continued to gather strength” at the state and federal levels. “If (ag groups) spend their time fighting each other in the Agriculture Committee, they’re going to be dead when it comes time to go ... onto the floors of the House and Senate (where lawmakers are) a lot less friendly,” he said.


FarmWeek Page 5 Monday, August 2, 2010

ENERGY

Will Reid biofuels omission free ‘hostage’ credits? BY MARTIN ROSS FarmWeek

Despite disappointment over a lack of biofuels measures in Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid’s (D-Nev.) latest energy plan, a Washington analyst suggests that may free two key “hostages” — biodiesel and ethanol tax credits — from energy debate. Tom Buis, CEO of the ethanol group Growth Energy, lamented that Reid’s limited energy plan did not include measures “that would support the most viable alternative to imported oil –- ethanol.” Instead, Reid’s plan would remove a current $75 million liability cap on economic damages from oil spills, increase perbarrel oil taxes that feeds the Oil Spill Liability Trust Fund, strengthen federal oversight of oil drilling, and promote electric and natural gas vehicles. Former Illinois congressman Tom Ewing, spokesman for the renewable energy coalition 25X’25, decried the lack of a cohesive congressional “roadmap” to reduce foreign fossil energy dependence as well as the administration’s “indecision and a lack of direction” on biofuels. At the same time, policy analyst and former U.S. HouseUSDA aide Bill O’Conner sug-

gested “things are not looking as bad as they were two weeks ago,” when Congress peeled tax extender provisions — including long-delayed biodiesel credit extension — from unemployment benefits legislation. It was widely speculated the $1-per-gallon biodiesel credit, which expired Jan. 1, and the 45-cent-per-gallon ethanol credit set to expire Dec. 31., would be considered as part of comprehensive — and complex — energy legislation. “There was a stratagem to use them (the credits) as hostages to get the bill some people wanted,” O’Conner told FarmWeek. “Since they’re not going to pursue that bill, at least not now, the question is, do they need them as hostages any longer? “Some members of the Senate and some members of the House have put a lot of investment into trying to get the biodiesel and ethanol credits resolved. Will they be successful? It’s going to be a tough fight, because it’s money.” At Illinois Farm Bureau’s Commodities Conference, Renewable Fuels Association Vice President Jim Redding anticipated extension of “some form” of ethanol credit this year. He offered long odds on a proposed five-year extension,

‘Back-door maneuver’ planned for cap-and-trade? Reports that Senate climate debate is dead may be premature, according to a “cap-and-trade” critic who warns of a possible “back-door maneuver” to move greenhouse measures this year. Senate Democrats in July abandoned plans to push a “comprehensive” energy package including new caps on annual greenhouse gas emissions. But Chris Horner, senior fellow with the Competitive Enterprise Institute (CEI), said Sens. Robert Kerry (D-Mass.) and Joe Lieberman (I-Conn.) may attempt to “conference” existing 2009 House cap-and-trade provisions into a “remotely related” Senate bill, purportedly during a post-election lame duck session. After nearly a year of haggling over controversial House proposals, the Senate “doesn’t have the political will, before the election or otherwise,” to support a major climate initiative, Horner said. But Kerry and Lieberman may see potential to merge cap-and-trade language with Senate energy proposals aimed at addressing the Gulf oil spill, he said. “It’s actually just a vehicle to get people to stop offshore drilling, among other tenets of their agenda,” he told FarmWeek at Illinois Farm Bureau’s Commodities Conference. “What they’re going to do is call this Gulf spill bill an energy bill. Then they can merge it after the election in a conference committee with the House and bring it back for an up-or-down vote in the Senate with cap-and-trade (included). “That’s what Senators Lieberman and Kerry have said they’ve wanted to do. That’s what the White House has said (it) should do. That’s what (Senate Majority Leader) Harry Reid (D-Nevada) has indicated he’d like to do. That’s what the House is demanding they do.” Asked about the possibility that House provisions could be incorporated into a narrower Senate bill, White House spokesman Robert Gibbs said he “wouldn’t rule it out.” Meanwhile, Sen. Mike Johanns (R-Neb.) seeks approval to require a two-thirds lameduck vote for any conferenced version of cap-and-trade. Horner called cap-and-trade “the biggest tax increase in our history,” at a potential $400 billion annual cost. In effect, greenhouse caps are “a means to raising the price of energy without voting on a direct, transparent tax,” he said. — Martin Ross

but stressed the credit’s value as a “green jobs” driver. National Corn Growers Association Vice President-elect Garry Niemeyer, Auburn, said major ethanol growth “really started about 2005,” arguing the credit is still needed to develop “an American product made by American workers.” Another wrinkle in the debate is Growth Energy’s proposal to divert a portion of

future credits into funding and incentives for development of ethanol infrastructure, including dial-up “blender pumps” and ethanol pipelines. O’Conner suggested the plan, though well-intended, may represent “a miscalculation of how the process would work.” He doubts Congress would “subtract money on the tax side and add money on the spending

side,” while Ewing, a former House Ag Committee member, is skeptical funds, once authorized, would be fully appropriated toward improvements. “There are so many ‘I’s that have to be dotted and ‘T’s that have to be crossed, that may very well not happen,” he said. “I personally favor weaning ethanol off these incentives — at some point. I don’t know if today is that point.”

E12 best now, E15 ‘buys time,’ E20-E30 vital Given the bureaucratic and commercial complexities of blending “E15” into the nation’s fuel mix, approval for 12 percent ethanol blends (E12) is not only the best immediate option but also the most effortless one for razing a rapidly approaching 10 percent ethanol “blend wall.” So argues Jim Redding, vice president for industry relations with the Renewable Fuels Association (RFA), which last week recommended the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) approve use of E12 in conventional gasoline. That would boost U.S. biofuels demand as ethanol producers expand supplies and enable researchers to prove the case for and ethanol suppliers to gain industry acceptance of unrestricted E15 use, Redding said. But even then, eventually, higher blend levels will be crucial, he told farmers at last week’s Commodities Conference. RFA supports E12 approval amid concerns the EPA could opt this fall to limit E15 use to newer vehicles. While E15 use in standard vehicles requires an EPA waiver, Redding told FarmWeek E12 should not. EPA previously allowed blending of up to 10 percent ethanol plus 2 percent MTBE (a petroleum-based fuel oxygen additive), and he held E12 provides

“the same oxygen content EPA allowed prior.” Redding sees eventual E15 approval as “just a stair step”: The federal renewable fuels standard (RFS2) requires 36 billion gallons of annual biofuels use by 2022. He warns E20 to E30 approval will be necessary by 2015, when he expects E15 to “hit another blend wall.” “E15 buys us time, but only for three or four years,” Redding said. “We’re going to have to be even above that, especially as we put more flex-fuel vehicles on the road.” E15 approval also requires EPA fuel additive registration based on yet-unpublished industry air emissions specifications, testing of and approval for E15 dispensing equipment; and changes to state laws to accommodate E15 use. Further, carmakers must provide for E15 use in vehicle warranties. Amid questions about the impact of higher blends especially on catalytic converters, Redding suggested “they’ll go for E12, but I don’t think they’re ready for E15.” Meanwhile, he notes Brazilian gasoline today runs at 18-24 percent ethanol (depending on domestic sugar and thus ethanol feedstock supplies), in vehicles from “the same manufacturers that produce cars here.” “But somehow, we can’t make them here,” Redding pondered. — Martin Ross

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FarmWeek Page 6 Monday, August 2, 2010

CROPWATCHERS Bernie Walsh, Durand, Winnebago County: In last week’s report I said it was raining at the time and the area came up with some huge amounts of rain in the two-day event July 23 and 24. We received 7 inches of rain, but other areas south and west of here accumulated 12 to 17 inches in those two days. Needless to say, this caused some severe flooding in the Pecatonica River valley and most longtime residents say it’s the worst they have ever seen. Many roads have been closed and thousands of acres of corn and beans are either under water or have standing water in them. We needed some rain, but not that much. We also have lots of second-generation corn borer moths flying around. They appear to be southwestern corn borers. Leroy Getz, Savanna, Carroll County: Last week I said it was raining hard. It only rained harder yet last Friday and Saturday (July 23-24) with 9 to 15 inches of rain in the Northwestern Illinois area in 26 hours. Massive flooding resulted. More than 600 people were evacuated along Plum River because of fears that the Lake Carroll Dam might break. Some homes were flooded. Thousands of acres of crops were totally underwater, but much was still standing when the flood water receded. Bridges built above the 100-year flood plain were submerged and roads were washed away. A dairy farm in Stephenson County had to move its cattle as the Pecatonica River flooded the area. (See story on page 3). Just when emergency personnel thought the flood was over, Carroll County experienced a tragic grain bin accident at Mount Carroll. That took the lives of two young men and a third was injured. Our prayers go to those families. Ron Frieders, Waterman, DeKalb County: July 23 was a wild weather night in Northern Illinois. The DuPage County Fair completely stopped. Livestock buildings were locked down, tents closed, rides shut off, and people sent to the main buildings of the fairgrounds. Thankfully, the worst of the storm missed the fair and activities resumed after an hour. Crops continue to mature. Insects seem to be a threat. Clouds of corn borer moths, greater than I have ever seen, are present even when mowing the grass or at night on the house windows. There are plenty of rootworm beetles in the corn and also feeding on soybeans. Japanese beetles are defoliating the beans also. We sprayed insecticide on most of the beans two weeks ago, but the heavy rains must have cut its resistance. Larry Hummel, Dixon, Lee County: Tragedy struck in Mount Carroll last week. Two teenagers lost their lives and another man injured in a grain bin accident in the small community. As we pray for the families of these children, let’s also look at our own practices for safety on the farm. Our local grain elevator has monthly safety meetings for all its employees. I’m going to suggest officials there have an open meeting and invite customers. Occupational Health and Safety Administration regulations seem very strict, but at times like this, they make a lot of sense. O n eve n i n g d r i ve s we are encountering large populations of corn borer moths splattering on the windshield. Ken Reinhardt, Seaton, Mercer County: We missed most of the rains during the week, but may get some Friday night. The Mississippi flood was short lived and river grain terminals will open today (Monday). Damaged grain is a big problem and most elevators are rejecting loads with more than 10 percent damage and one is down to 5 percent limit. Some corn was harvested with more damage than that, and it hasn’t improved with age. There will be corn harvested the first of September, and there is a long way to go for some of the grain-handling facilities being built.

Ron Moore, Roseville, Warren County: We only had 0.2 inches of rain last week. Other areas had up to an inch. The corn crop is now all pollinated and the silks are all brown. The next few weeks will determine our final yield. I don’t have a feel for the yield this year. This crop is so variable from one end of the field to the other. Every field has some good looking crop and areas that are severely damaged by excessive rainfall. The beans are flowering and setting pods. They look a little better overall than the corn. Most of the fungicide has been applied. We are seeing some late-season weeds emerging, but it is too soon to tell how much they will influence yields.

Wilfred Dittmer, Quincy, Adams County: Since we visited last, my gauge collected about 3.1 inches of rain, which brings our total for July to slightly more than 10 inches and the total since spring of about 23 inches. The local news reports that it is not the wettest July on record compared to 1958 which came in at more than 13 inches of rain. At least the rains make the grass and the small beans grow. Early soybeans are close to waist high. Corn is looking good (most of it) and there is not much insect activity. But there are still holes or ponds where the ground is bare. I have seen some small hoppers while mowing waterways and roadsides. Have a good week!

Jacob Streitmatter, Princeville, Peoria County: A very nice week across Central Illinois. We have had great growing days and were lucky and received a very nice rain Wednesday with totals between a half and an inch of rain across my area of the county. We also were lucky and received a scattered shower last weekend (July 24-25) that was beneficial. The stunted yellow corn is getting some green color and also is shooting ears. It will be interesting what kind of yields 4-foot-tall corn can provide.

Carrie Winkelmann, Menard County: We had 1.3 inches of rain last week. The large amounts of rain we received directly following pollination has caused diplodia to become a large problem in area cornfields. There is hardly any insect pressure in either corn or soybeans. Planes have been out spraying fungicide on soybeans.

Mark Kerber, Chatsworth, Livingston County: More of the same. Hot and dry. We did get a rain over a week ago that amounted to half an inch. Last week, though, a front came through with good rain, only to dissipate as it approached eastern Livingston County. Cornfields are drying up. One can see into them quite far. Last week’s missed rain would have been a key one for the soybeans. Most producers are getting ready for an early harvest. Some are traveling on vacations or going to fairs. We traveled north, as it was much cooler than going south. Crops in Canada looked great. Markets are holding steady. Ron Haase, Gilman, Iroquois County: On Friday and Saturday, July 23-24, we had three light showers that brought 0.4 to 0.8 of an inch of rain on our different farms. So for the month of July, we have received a total of 0.7 of an inch to 1.6 inches of rain. This compares to the historical average rainfall of 4.22 inches for the month of July. The 10-day forecast continues to look unfavorable for rain. The hot and dry weather has been stressful for the crops. Cornfields have been rolling their leaves in the heat to conserve moisture. Corn is anywhere from the R2 stage up to a few fields entering the R5 or dent stage. Most soybean fields are anywhere from the R2 up to the R5 growth stage. Local closing prices for July 29 were $3.53 for nearby corn, $3.56 for new-crop corn, $3.80 for fall 2011 corn; $10.31 for nearby soybeans, and $9.59 for new-crop soybeans. On a positive note, it is hard to believe our new son, Bruno, is 2 months old already. Brian Schaumburg, Chenoa, McLean County: A trace to a half inch of rain fell in isolated areas last week. July rainfall was 1.6 inches. Corn is anywhere from dough to dent and soybeans are R3 to R5. Fungicide is now being applied on beans. Insects are not a problem, but millions of celery leaf tier moths are coming out at night. Evidently they do little if any damage to crops. Corn, $3.51, $3.52, fall; beans, $10.33, $9.43, fall; wheat, $5.67. Steve Ayers, Champaign, Champaign County: A dry week after 0.6 inch of rain last weekend (July 24-25). Our crop reporting district is 4 percent surplus moisture, 51 percent adequate, 32 percent short, and 13 percent very short. Some areas have totally missed the rains for the past six weeks. We have about half the corn in dough stage and about half the beans are setting pods. Some weeds are poking through the soybean canopy. Think safety!

Tom Ritter, Blue Mound, Macon County: It was a warm week without precipitation, but the 4.5 inches of rain we had two weeks ago followed by another 1.5 inches of rain the weekend before has provided ample moisture for the moment. Crops conditions look very good. Corn is progressing nicely, as well as soybeans. Weeds and insects are pretty well under control, and spraying of fungicides has been wrapping up. Overall, crop prospects look very good and farmers are preparing for the upcoming harvest, as well as working in a little vacation time. Jimmy Ayers, Rochester, Sangamon County: This past week we received 1.25 inches of rain. Rainfall ranged anywhere from a half inch to 2.5 inches in the area. Corn is a little bit yellower than you would expect this time of year with the amount of moisture we have had. I’m getting all kinds of different reports from farmers. Some of them feel really good about their crops and some of them don’t feel very good at all. There is more green snap in the area than we originally thought, but some of the corn looks really good. Beans are dark and green and seem to be accepting the environment rather well. Most weeds and volunteer corn have been cleaned up. The biggest excitement has been the markets reflecting what is going on around the world and possibly in our area. Visiting with people across the state last week, I learned some have excellent crops in places they normally don’t have, but they also have flooded fields in areas that they never got planted. The state has got quite a mix of crops this year. Many people are taking a little vacation. Roadside mowing and equipment maintenance are going on right now as people bring their farmsteads back into shape. Doug Uphoff, Shelbyville, Shelby County: The past week we saw temperatures in the 90s everyday and in the 80s at night. Corn is starting to dent and maturing quite rapidly. Some beans around here have closed the rows and some have not. So we are wondering what bean yields will be. Some disease is showing up in the corn. We are seeing some diplodia show up in the ear. We are spending our time getting our equipment ready for the fast-approaching harvest. Crop prices: Decatur corn, $3.73; fall Decatur corn, $3.77; January corn delivered into Decatur processors, $3.92; Decatur beans, $10.53, newcrop, $9.78; and January, $10.01. Those are delivered to the processor without trucking taken off. Prices at the elevator: cash corn, $3.50, fall corn, $3.59, January corn, $3.75, next fall 2011 corn, $3.89; cash wheat, $5.77, July wheat new crop 2011, $6.34; cash beans, $10.25, fall beans, $9.55 (70 cent difference there), January, $9.72, and next fall 2011, $9.48. Diesel fuel prices: farm diesel without soy oil, $2.48, farm diesel with soy oil 11 percent, $2.39, truck diesel with no soy, $2.96, soy diesel for on-the-road use, $2.85, gasohol, $2.77. The price at the pump is around $2.69 to $2.70 in town.


Page 7 Monday, August 2, 2010 FarmWeek

CROPWATCHERS Todd Easton, Charleston, Coles County: Our corn crop is developing rapidly, and I am confident that next time the calendar changes there will be several combines out in the fields. Cornfields across the county are well into the dough stage with some beginning to dent. Growing degree units (GDUs) are just over 2,100 for April 15-planted corn and this month should reach the standard 2,700 GDUs that is theoretically needed to mature a corn crop. Soybeans have had no lack of water as they approach the full seed stage (R6) and should have a lot of potential as they work toward maturity, which will be after several fields of corn have been harvested. David Schaal, St. Peter, Fayette County: Weather conditions in the past week were pretty warm and somewhat humid. Precipitation amounted to about 0.2 of an inch of rain here. A lot of the corn is in the denting stage, but we have noticed some of it tipping back. There also is a little diplodia showing up, but it’s not too bad. With the wrong weather conditions, this problem could get worse. Some corn also looks like it’s showing nitrogen deficiency with a lot of firing at the bottom of the plant. Soybeans are in full bloom and for the most part looking good. Waterhemp still seems to be appearing in bean fields and growing at a rapid pace. It’s really hard to control. No pests to report at this time. Grain prices: old and new corn, $3.56; cash beans, $10.30; new beans, $9.58; wheat, $5.87; and January is at $6.35.

Reports received Friday morning. Expanded crop information available at FarmWeekNow.com

Dan Meinhart, Montrose, Jasper County: A drier and cooler week for the most part, although localized areas received moderate to heavy rainfall on July 24 and again last Wednesday. Chemical application continues where ground conditions permit. Aerial application of fungicides on corn is also in progress. The July-planted beans are growing rapidly. The May corn has fully tasseled. There is some talk of ear mold in the April-planted corn. Drier and warmer conditions are expected this week. The heat index is expected to be 97 to 102. Bob Biehl, Belleville, St. Clair County: Not much rain except a sprinkle for the week. Corn continues to progress rapidly and most is at the dent stage. Some diseases have set in, but the crop is so far along that I don’t anticipate too much yield reduction. Beans continue to add height and blossoms. Some late Group 3 beans are just starting to add a few pods. Main activities around the farm are mowing, hauling grain, and cleaning out grain bins. It is a hot job, especially during this hot and humid weather. Area peach growers are in full swing with the pick-yourown season. Many county fairs have been taking place in the area. Rick Corners, Centralia, Jefferson County: It rained a surprise 0.6 of an inch Wednesday evening. I heard a few miles in one direction they had more than 2 inches of rain and a few miles the other way they had none. Typical summer showers. I know there are areas not too far from here that need rain desperately. I hope by the time you read this they‘ve had a good soaking. I’m hearing some talk that kernel depth on the corn ears is not good this year. Time will tell.

Kevin Raber, Browns, Wabash County: I can’t believe how fast this summer is going. Crops are holding up well with very little rainfall. There were some small showers this past week with some places getting a good shower and others very little. Yield tours start this week, so next week should give everyone an idea about yields for the fall. Dean Shields, Murphysboro, Jackson County: Last week was very hot and very humid. Almost smothering. I did have one of those showers pop up and give me 0.9 of an inch of rain on quite a bit of the ground that I farm. But it didn’t cover a very big area in Jackson County and the county has some areas that are very, very dry. The corn crop looks like it is made. The stalks are dying, especially on the sandy ground. We’ll have to see what happens here at harvest. Beans are growing. They seem to take the heat a little better in the low ground. We have beans from anklehigh to waist-high. We have not been able to kill the waterhemp or the pigweed as well as we want to, so we still have some weedy fields. Milo looks good. It likes heat. The wheat field beans are coming along pretty well too if they are not on sandy ground. We would love to have some more rain and less hot temperatures. Maybe this week we can get some cooler weather. Stay cool. Ken Taake, Ullin, Pulaski County: It is hot and dry here in deep Southern Illinois. We had another week with no measurable precipitation. The weatherman is not optimistic for anything in the near future. Grass is brown. At least the dryness reduced the amount of mowing going on. Crops are stressed. We are in a critical time for beans. They sure could use a shower.

U of I Agronomy Day

Studies examine residue removal, refuge-in-a-bag BY KAY SHIPMAN FarmWeek

Corn residue may be viewed as one farmer’s trash and another far mer’s treasure. “Ever ybody who does corn after corn knows r e s i d u e i s a n i s s u e,” s a i d Emerson Nafziger, University of Illinois Extension crop specialist. Commercial interest in use of corn residue for bioenerg y has generated questions about the consequence of removing residue from cornfields. For the past five years, Nafziger has studied the impact of corn residue removal on yields and also examined the impact of different tillag e systems and nitrogen applications in combination with residue removal. Nafziger estimated a far mer would have to pay about $30 per ton or $75 per acre to replace the nitrogen, phosphorous, and potassium lost if half the residue was removed from cor n that yielded 200 bushels per acre. Nafziger concluded partial residue removal might make sense for far mers, if the process doesn’t cause excessive soil compaction or increase soil erosion. Mike Gray, interim assis-

tant dean of agriculture and natural resources Extension, will discuss the Environmen-

FarmWeekNow.com Visit the Agronomy Day website for additional information by going to FarmWeekNow.com.

t a l P r o t e c t i o n A g e n c y ’s (EPA) approval of DuPont’s refuge-in-a-bag for corn rootwor ms. Far mers have embraced use of a blend of transgenic and nontransgenic seed because of its convenience. However, Gray questioned whether farmers

would continue to support a 10 percent blend of nontransgenic seed if another seed company is per mitted to offer a 5-percent nontransgenic blend. “I think the refuge-in-thebag will be the foundation of resistance management programs,” Gray said. “But what are the implications for other agriculture sectors?” Gray questioned the market implications for soil insecticides if farmers plant blends of 95 percent transgenic seed: “If the soil insecticide industry gets smaller and we have fewer choices, s h o u l d we b e c o n c e r n e d ?

Those are unforeseen consequences that may come back to hurt us.” N a f z i g e r a n d G r ay w i l l join fellow U of I researchers who will discuss the latest research at the U of I Agronomy Day on Aug. 19. The event will start at 7 a.m. and conclude at 2 p.m. on the Crop Science Research and Education Center, also known as the S o u t h F a r m s , S t . M a r y ’s R o a d a n d Wr i g h t S t r e e t , Champaign. Field tours will depart every half hour from 7 a.m. to noon. An exhibit tent will house organization displays

and additional research projects. The tour topics will include: herbicide-resistant waterhemp, global climate change and implications on future plant diseases, new soybean vir uses, a new source of genetic diversity to improve soybeans, corn yield variability, nutrient placement and tillage, and perennial grasses for biofuel. Pre-registration is not required, and lunch will be available for a nominal cost. For more infor mation, g o online to { h t t p : / / a g r o n o m y d a y. cropsci.illinois.edu/}.

General sign-up for CRP under way BY DANIEL GRANT FarmWeek

T he USDA Far m Ser vice Ag ency (FSA) today (Monday) opened the first general sign-up period for the Conservation Reserve Program (CRP) in more than four years. The sign-up period will run through Aug. 27 at local FSA offices around the country. Donald King, FSA conservation program specialist in Illinois, encouraged landowners interested in CRP to visit their local FSA office as soon as possible. Interest in the program is anticipated to be strong in many counties. Contracts for 8 percent of land in Illi-

nois currently in the CRP program (80,000 acres) will expire on Sept. 30. “This is the first opportunity (for a general CRP sign-up) we’ve had ( u n d e r t h e 2 0 0 8 f a r m b i l l ) ,” K i n g said. “From a water quality and soil erosion standpoint, hopefully most of this ground can be re-enrolled (in CRP).” The previous general sign-up period for CRP was in the spring of 2006. Since that time, acreage enrollment was at or above capacity as Congress in the 2008 farm bill lowered the maximum number of CRP acres authorized nationwide from 39.2 million to 32 million.

CRP acres subsequently declined in recent years. This year, contracts for 4.5 million acres in CRP will expire nationwide, King reported. Landowners nationwide will be allowed to enroll a total of 4.4 million acres in the program this year. “We’ll take all applications through Aug. 27, and then they will be ranked on a national basis” from environmental and cost/benefit standpoints, King said. Land that is eligible for the CRP general sign-up must have been cropped four out of the six years from 2002 to 2007 or it must be ground currently in CRP that expires this fall.


FarmWeek Page 8 Monday, August 2, 2010

WEATHER

Weather outlook favorable for harvest However, conditions are much drier in the south. Farmers who endured heavy rainfall in “Not that far away (from flooded areas in recent months may be worried about a repeat the northern half of the Corn Belt) there are of last year when wet conditions delayed crop extreme (moisture) deficits (in parts of Southdevelopment and harvest. ern Illinois), the Delta, and the Southeast But Mark Russo, meteorologist with Chesa- U.S.,� Russo said. peake Energy, believes conditions will be betOverall, topsoil moisture in the state last ter this fall based on week was rated 62 perhis weather outlook cent adequate, 23 perpresented last week at cent surplus, and 15 ‘ T h e a r e a o f we t n e s s h a s percent short or very the Illinois Farm Bureau Commodities contracted. It looks to be a short. Conference in NorRusso predicted dry harvest’ mal. rainfall will be normal Russo predicted a to below-normal warmer bias will peracross the state in — Mark Russo August and into Sepsist through August Chesapeake Energy meteorologist and September. He tember. also predicted the “It looks to be a dry number of extreme harvest,� he said. rainfall events will taper off, although crops Many farmers should be able to harvest in some parts of the state (particularly east, next month — Russo also noted growing southeast, and deep Southern Illinois) could degree units are above average compared to use some moisture. last year when the coldest July since 1895 “The extreme nature (of precipitation slowed crop development. events) carried forward through the growing Crop development in Illinois this year is season,� Russo said. “But the area of wetness well ahead of last year and the five-year averhas contracted.� age. Ninety-six percent of corn had silked as Much of the northern two-thirds of the of last week compared to just 49 percent last state in June received more than double the year and the average of 82 percent. normal precipitation followed by extreme rainMeanwhile, 79 percent of soybeans were fall events late last month that dumped more blooming last week compared to 43 percent a than a foot of rain in some areas. year ago and the average of 71 percent.

BY DANIEL GRANT FarmWeek

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Long term outlook

Heavy downpours a sign of things to come? Extreme weather events, particularly heavy downpours of rain similar to those experienced in recent weeks in parts of the Midwest, could become more common in the future, according to one climatologist Eugene Takle, Iowa State University climatologist, believes there is a correlation between warmer temperatures around the globe and an increased number of heavy rainfall events, which he defined as 1.25 inches of rain or more in a day. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) recently reported the global land and ocean surface temperature the first half of this year (January through June) was the warmest on record. And a continuation of this pattern could Eugene Takle lead to more extreme weather events, particularly heavy bursts of rain in the Midwest, according to Takle, who was a keynote speaker last week at the Illinois Farm Bureau Commodities Conference in Normal. “In the future, there’s going to be more and more (weatherrelated) challenges,� said Takle, who projected an increase in the number of heavy downpours in Midwestern states such as Illinois. Takle believes the situation already is playing out. He reported the number of years in which annual precipitation in Iowa exceeded 40 inches quadrupled from two (between 1873 and 1953) to eight (between 1954 and 2008). “Precipitation is projected to increase,� he said. “We had two 500-year floods in Iowa that were just 15 years apart (1993, 2008).� If the projections are realized, agriculture will be impacted in multiple ways, said Takle, who claimed the growing season already is one to two weeks longer now than it was 50 years ago. Heavier rains could make it more difficult for farmers to conduct spring fieldwork and it could increase the levels of mold and fungus in crops. On the flipside, growers may be able to plant higher populations of crops and produce more bushels because of the greater soil moisture. Takle believes the earth is in a warming trend but was unable to point to one factor, such as natural processes/cycles or manmade pollution, as the primary driver. “The issue of (rising levels of) carbon dioxide and temperature shows a statistical correlation, but it doesn’t tell us which one drives the other,� he said. Tackle also noted climate change trends are variable around the globe. “The changes in temperature are not uniform,� he added. “You can always find areas where the temperature is going down.� The U.S., for example, this year shivered through its coldest winter in 25 years, according to the National Climatic Data Center. — Daniel Grant


FarmWeek Page 9 Monday, August 2, 2010

WIND ENERGY

Hands-on wind energy ed coming to Illinois BY KAY SHIPMAN FarmWeek

Illinois elementary, secondary, and university students may receive real-world lessons about wind energy through a new Wind for Schools program involving Illinois State University (ISU), Western Illinois University (WIU), and the Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunities (DCEO). The goal is to install a small wind turbine at a rural school, use the turbine as a component of wind energy curriculum for students in kindergarten through 12th grade, and involve ISU and WIU stu-

dents who are studying renewable energy. Illinois Wind for Schools is a spinoff of a national program offered by Wind Powering America and the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL). Each year, states apply for federal grants, and five are selected. Although Illinois’ application was not accepted last year, ISU and WIU plan to apply again in the fall, according to Matt Aldeman with ISU’s Center for Renewable Energy. DCEO has agreed to supply state matching funds, Aldeman noted. With DCEO funding, ISU

and WIU plan to proceed with a state program next year. Aldeman speculated school applications would be accepted in February and the first meteorological towers would be erected in the spring. Participating schools would receive funding to put up meteorological towers to assess the wind resource and determine if a turbine project is viable. Districts also would receive help to develop a business plan for buying, installing, and operating a small turbine that would offset some of their energy needs. They further would receive

assistance in identifying grants and other potential funding sources to defray the turbine’s cost, according to Jolene Willis with WIU’s Illinois Institute for Rural Affairs. ISU plans to handle the educational component. “The goal is to make an Illinois-specific curriculum,” Aldeman said. Teacher training on the new energy curriculum will be offered through general workshops. On-site teacher workshops are being considered for participating districts, according to Aldeman. The university students will help assess, design, and install

the turbines at the schools and act as wind energy consultants. They also will participate in classroom work and other engineering projects to prepare them for the wind energy workforce. WIU plans to start a Wind Application Center near its Macomb campus and install a small wind turbine on the site, Willis said. More information about Wind for Schools is available online at {www.windpoweringamerica.g ov/schools.asp}. In the future, information about the Illinois program will be posted online at {www.illinoiswind.org}.

Indiana bat

FWS creating inclusive plan for regional wind development The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) is developing a regional habitat plan that Midwestern wind energy developers may use to address concerns for threatened and endangered species, including the Indiana bat. The plan may be critical to Illinois’ wind industry because the bat’s habitat covers much of the state, and a fatal disease, known as white nose syndrome, has killed almost a third of the Indiana bats in the U.S. “The white nose syndrome heightens our concern for the species,” said Jody Millar, assistant field supervisor for FWS in Rock Island. Last December, a legal precedent was set by a federal judge who stopped expansion of a West Virginia wind farm,

ruling the turbines would kill Indiana bats. Chicago-based Invenergy was allowed to complete 40 turbines, but had to obtain a special permit to finish its $300 million project of 122 turbines. FWS requires small wind farm projects to apply for a permit under one section of the law and large wind farm projects to apply under another section. Millar said the Rock Island office had reviewed applications for 100 small wind turbines proposed for Illinois and Iowa. “Ninety-seven percent (of small turbines) would not have had an effect on the Indiana bat. Just a handful (of those turbines) were (proposed) in bat breeding habitat,” she offered. However, large wind ener-

gy projects must meet more stringent requirements and submit a habitat conservation plan, especially wind farms proposed for construction in the bat’s breeding habitat. “There is opportunity (for turbines) to kill bats during migration or the

breeding period,” Millar said. FWS recently received $3.3 million to develop a habitat conservation plan that would cover all threatened and endangered species in Illinois and seven other Midwestern states for the rapidly expanding wind energy industry. The

model plan may be used by any private company, Millar noted. “This (regional) approach would streamline compliance, provide certainty, and reduce costs,” Millar said. “Everyone would deal with the same plan and save time and energy.” — Kay Shipman

®

Don’t miss our Early Season Sale from March 17-31, 2010 The Indiana bat is an endangered species whose habitat includes Illinois. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is developing a habitat plan for the Midwestern wind industry to address projects that might impact the bats. (Photo by Rich Fields, Indiana Department of Natural Resources)

Member Company Name Contact: Name

website

Phone: (000) 000-0000 ©2010 GROWMARK, Inc. A11424_6x8_aod


FarmWeek Page 10 Monday, August 2, 2010

HAPPENINGS READY TO PULL

Jackson County Farm Bureau Young Farmer Committee member Blake Canning gets ready to pull his Massey Harris tractor during the Young Farmer Committee’s fourth annual antique tractor pull. Other Young Farmers, Glenn Mueller, center, and Tyler Beckman, look on. Including all categories, there were 105 pulls during the recent event at Vergennes Equipment. A pedal pull also was held for children with 21 participants. Money raised during the event will go toward funding other Young Farmer activities for the year. (Photo by Lindsay McQueen, manager of Jackson County Farm Bureau)

Investigation clears USB of any wrongdoing The Office of Inspector General (OIG) found “insufficient evidence� to support allegations that farmer-directors on the United Soybean Board (USB) improperly managed the soybean checkoff. The 18-month investigation was triggered when the American Soybean Association (ASA) board of directors requested an investigation into alleged abuses of resources. USDA agreed an OIG investigation was warranted. The results were announced last week. “USB directors and staff are encouraged by the OIG’s report,� said Philip Bradshaw, USB chairman and a farmer from Griggsville. “The report confirms that, as farmerdirectors, we’re doing our jobs as financially responsibly as the federal law that created the soybean checkoff set out for us to do.� Bradshaw believes the situation didn’t put a major dent in USB’s credibility. A survey of U.S. farmers in February found 75 percent support the soy checkoff. The investigation did lead to a recommendation that USB increase its oversight of U.S. Soybean Export Council (USSEC) expenditures. USSEC is the primary contractor for the checkoff ’s international marketing programs. ASA reported substantial management and board changes were made at USSEC after ASA asked for the investigation. “ASA is pleased that OIG has competed its review and found that the soybean checkoff is operating as it should,� ASA stated. “We are pleased that we can put this issue behind our industry.�

Dixon Springs’ future focus of meeting Supporters of the University of Illinois’ Dixon Springs Agricultural Center at Simpson will plan for the center’s future starting at 2 p.m. Thursday and concluding Sunday. Registration may be done online at {http://sites.google.com/site/dixonspringscharrette/} or by calling 618-638-2286 or 618-201-7169. The charrette — a collaborative session to draft a solution — will include U of I staff, elected officials, and local supporters. Participants are encouraged to attend all or some of the planning days. Meals, featuring locally grown foods, will be served to participants. There is no registration fee. Topics will include the future of facilities’ land uses, agricultural and natural resources, organization, and economic development. Dixon Springs is one of seven field research and education centers operated by the U of I College of Agricultural, Consumer, and Environmental Sciences. A fundraiser fundraisser for

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FarmWeek Page 11 Monday, August 2, 2010

LIVESTOCK

Award-winning researcher focuses on soy in swine diets BY DANIEL GRANT FarmWeek

Soybean meal has been referred to as the “gold standard” for supplemental protein in swine diets — and for good reason. Pigs and poultry consume more than 75 percent of all soy meal produced in the world, according to Hans Stein, Hans Stein University of Illinois associate professor of animal nutrition. “Without the soybean industry, it would not be possible to feed all those pigs and

chickens,” said Stein, who was a featured speaker recently at a soy research tour in Urbana hosted by the Illinois Soybean Association. “It (soybean meal) is the premier protein source.” However, soy meal presents some challenges when it comes to feeding piglets. Soy meal contains anti-nutritional factors, such as trypsin inhibitors and phytic acid, that can diminish growth performance in swine. Piglet feed rations, therefore, typically contain other protein sources, primarily fish meal, until each pig weighs more than 50 pounds. A typical pig eats about five to six pounds of fish meal before it graduates to the standard soy

Without the soybean industry, it would not be possible to feed all those pigs and chickens.’ — Hans Stein U of I associate professor of animal nutrition

meal/corn diet, according to Stein. “A problem is fish meal has increased dramatically in price and there is not enough in the world,” Stein said. A tight supply of fish meal for swine diets has been exacerbated by the fact that numerous fish processing facilities in the Gulf of Mexico were shut down due to the oil spill.

The soy industry has responded with processes — fermenting soy meal and treating the meal with enzymes — that remove antinutritional factors and allow farmers to feed soy meal to young pigs. Stein tested the processed soy meal, along with a new soy variety that is high in protein (56 to 58 percent compared to the usual 44 to 48

percent) in feeding trials and concluded the products are digestible for swine and provide adequate nutritional value. “The timing is good for those two products” to replace fish meal in the diet of young pigs, the animal nutrition expert said. Stein recently received the 2010 American Feed Industry Association Award in NonRuminant Nutrition Research. “It’s an honor and it’s humbling,” Stein said of the award he credited to his network of people including research assistants, graduate students, and his family. “It also reflects the work we’re doing is relevant to the industry.”

Illinois Farm Bureau Action Teams elect 2011 leadership The Illinois Farm Bureau Action Teams met recently at the Illinois Farm Bureau building to develop new statewide programs that address the needs of agriculture and farm families and to elect new officers. Elected chairman of the Quality of Life Action Team was Carrie Titus (Henry County). Carol Jerred (Hancock) was elected vice chairman. The chairman of the Public Relations Team for 2011 is Connie Schneider (McLean). David Headley (Peoria) will be vice chairman. The chairman of the Membership Team is Dennis Verbeck (Henry), with Phillip Butler (Warren-Henderson) service as vice chairman. The chairman of the Education Team is Gail Pollard (Winnebago), and Carleen Paul (Madison) will serve as vice chairman. Verbeck and Paul were also elected chairman and vice chairman, respectively, of the Action Coordinating Council. Men and women involved in the Action Teams meet twice a year in Bloomington,

state 80 near Ottawa, reusable tote bags displaying IFB membership information, rebates on county Farm Bureau purchases of warning signs for farm/roadway hazards, and educational outdoor signs at various orchards and wineries around the state. Connie Schneider

Dennis Verbeck

Gail Pollard

Carrie Titus

and applicants elect to participate on the team that matches their interests and experience. Applications are now open for 2011 Action Team membership. Contact your county Farm Bureau for an application/brochure or go to {www.ilfb.org}, then select Programs and Activities/Committees/ACTIONS TEAMs. Recent Action Team projects include “Farmers Care” livestock billboards on Inter-

The Public Relations Action Team video “Look, it’s a whatchamajig,” won a Clarion Award in the educational, informational, or training production category for 2010. Developed from a brochure of the same name, the video is designed to iden-

tify ag objects as they are observed from the window of an automobile while traveling Illinois highways. For questions about Action Teams or to apply for membership, call the IFB member services and public relations division at 309-557-2922.


FarmWeek Page 12 Monday, August 2, 2010

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FarmWeek Page 13 Monday, August 2, 2010

FROM THE COUNTIES

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ROWN — Farm Bureau and Country Financial will sponsor an open house and customer appreciation day from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. Friday, Aug. 13, at the Farm Bureau office. Breakfast, lunch, and dinner items will be served. Call the Farm Bureau office at 217-773-2634 or 217773-3591 for more information. UREAU — The District 4 Young Leaders picnic will be at 4 p.m. Saturday at Lake Mendota, next to the Mendota Civic Center. Games will be played and dinner will be served at 6 p.m. The picnic is open to members ages 18 to 35. Call the Farm Bureau office at 875-6468 for reservations or more information. • Farm Bureau and Illinois Ag in the Classroom is inviting Bureau County teachers to meet with Sara Bass, Bureau County Ag in the Classroom coordinator, for an educational seminar at 10 a.m. Tuesday, Aug. 10, at the Farm Bureau office. Materials for classroom instruction will be available. Teachers will receive continuing education credits. Call the Farm Bureau office at 815875-6468 or e-mail Sara at aitc.bcfb@comcast.net for reservations or more information. HRISTIAN — Farm Bureau and Christian County FS will sponsor an informational meeting on the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s spill prevention, control, and countermeasure rule at 7 p.m. Wednesday, Aug. 11, at the Taylorville Memorial Hospital auditorium. Call the Farm Bureau office at 217824-2940 or e-mail ccfb@ctitech.com for reservations or more information. • Farm Bureau will sponsor an informational meeting about Taylorville Energy Center’s wastewater pipeline running from the Decatur Sanitary District at 7 p.m. Wednesday, Aug. 18, at the Stonington American Legion. Call the Farm Bureau office at 217824-2940 or e-mail ccfb@ctitech.com for reservations or more information. OLES — The membership picnic and Foundation silent auction will be at 5:30 p.m. Friday, Aug. 20, at Morton Park, Charleston. Call the Farm Bureau office at 345-3276 by Wednesday, Aug. 11, for reservations or more information. UMBERLAND — Farm Bureau will sponsor a bus trip Sunday, Aug. 15, to see the St. Louis Cardinals vs. the Chicago Cubs game, St. Louis. The bus will leave the Farm Bureau office at 10 a.m. Cost is $65 for members and $70 for non-members. Call the Farm Bureau office at 217-

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849-3031 or stop by the office to purchase tickets. FFINGHAM — The Young Farmers Committee will sponsor a food pantry drive for Effingham County 4-H clubs. Bring food pantry items to the fairgrounds through Friday. Clubs that bring the most donations (determined by weight) will receive a pizza party at the next club meeting. Call the Farm Bureau office at 217-342-2103 for more information. • The Young Farmers Committee will sponsor a pedal tractor pull at 3:30 p.m. Friday at the county fairgrounds, Altamont. There will be different age categories from 4 to 11 years. Participants will receive a coupon for a free ice cream cone at the 4-H Dairy Bar. Call the Farm Bureau office at 217-342-2103 to register. • The Partners for Ag Literacy will sponsor ag literacy programs at 11 a.m. today (Monday) through Wednesday at the Effingham County Fair, Altamont. Participants will make paper plate chickens and putty eggs, homemade bread, and clothes pin sheep. Call the Farm Bureau office at 217-3422103 or 217-347-7107, ext. 3, for more information. ULTON — Farm Bureau will sponsor a trip Saturday to see the Peoria Chiefs vs. the Quad City River Bandits game and Jimmy Buffett night. The game starts at 6:30 p.m. Tickets are $9 and are available at the Farm Bureau office. Call the Farm Bureau office at 547-3011 for reservations or more information. • The Marketing Committee and Vortex Generations will sponsor a crop flyover Wednesday, Aug. 11. Cost is $25 for members and $35 for non-members for a half-hour tour. Participants will go in groups of three and are encouraged to register as groups. Flights will begin at 8 a.m. from the Ingersoll Airport. Deadline to register with payment is 4 p.m. Tuesday, Aug. 10. There will be a rain date of Aug. 13. Call the Farm Bureau office at 547-3011 for reservations or more information. ANCOCK — An informational meeting on the national flood insurance program with U.S. Rep. Phil Hare (D-Rock Island) will be at 10 a.m. Tuesday at the Ursa Farmers Co-op, Warsaw. The Bott Center will be the location if it rains. Call the Farm Bureau office at 217-357-3141 for more information. • The Viewpoint Committee will sponsor a policy development meeting from 7:30 to 9 a.m. Tuesday, Aug. 10, at the Farmers Junction Café, Ferris. Breakfast will be served. Call the Farm Bureau office at 217-

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357-3141 by Friday for reservations or more information. ACKSON — The Ag in the Classroom Committee will sponsor a Country Cruising Day Thursday, Aug. 12. Participants will tour Pomona Winery, Rendleman Orchards, Alto Vineyard, Darn Hot Peppers, and Rustle Hill Winery in vans. Lunch will be at the Yellow Moon Café. Cost is $30. Call the Farm Bureau office at 618-684-3129 by Friday for reservations or more information. ENDALL — The Young Leaders will sponsor a raffle for a five-day, four-night trip to Riviera Maya in Mexico or $1,500 cash. Cost is $20 each or six for $100. The drawing will be held at the golf outing Friday, Aug. 13. Proceeds will benefit the Ag in the Classroom program. • The Young Leaders will sponsor a golf outing to benefit the Ag in the Classroom program at 1 p.m. Friday, Aug. 13, at the White Tail Ridge Golf Course, Yorkville. Cost is $100, which includes golf, cart, and prime rib dinner. There are three options for sponsors: $1,000 for platinum, which includes golf and meal for four; $300 event sponsor; or $100 hole sponsor. Call the Farm Bureau office at 630-5537403 for reservations or more information. EE — The District 4 Young Leaders picnic will be at 4 p.m. Saturday at Lake Mendota, next to the Mendota Civic Center. Dinner will be at 6 p.m. Call the Farm Bureau office at 815-857-3531 or e-mail leecfb@comcast.net by Monday (today) for reservations or more information. • The annual Farm Visit Day will be from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday, Aug. 14. Buses will load at Woodhaven Association in Sublette to go to the host farm. Tickets to board the bus are available at the Woodhaven Association office or by calling the Woodhaven office at 815849-5200. Call the Farm Bureau office at 815-857-3531 for more information about the event. CDONOUGH — The McDonough County Farm Bureau Foundation will sponsor a golf outing Saturday at Gold Hills Golf Course, Macomb. Call the Farm Bureau office at 309-8373350 to register a team or more information. ONROE — The Mon-Clair Corn Growers test plot tours will be at 6:30 p.m. Monday, Aug. 9, at Dale Haudrich’s farm, Hecker, and at 6 p.m. Monday, Aug. 16, at Greg Guenther’s farm, Belleville. Call the Farm Bureau office at 939-6187 or 233-6800 by Tuesday for reservations or more information. • The Ice Cream Social and

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Meet the Candidates night will be at 7 p.m. Thursday at the fairgrounds. Attendance prizes will be awarded. EORIA — Peach orders may be picked up from 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. Thursday at the Farm Bureau office. • A Stroke Detection Plus health screening will be Tuesday, Aug. 10, at the Farm Bureau office. Call 877-7328258 for reservations or more information. ICHLAND — Farm Bureau will sponsor an “On the Road” seminar at 6 p.m. Tuesday, Aug. 17, at Holiday Inn, Olney. Dinner will be served. Kevin Rund, Illinois Farm Bureau transportation specialist, will be the speaker. Call the Farm Bureau office at 618-393-4116 by Friday, Aug. 13, for reservations or more information. ANGAMON — Farm Bureau will sponsor a truck regulations seminar at 9 a.m. Thursday at the Farm Bureau office. Kevin Rund, Illinois Farm Bureau transportation specialist, will be the speaker. Illinois Department of Transportation and Illinois State Police staff also will attend. Call the Farm Bureau office at 753-5200 or e-mail Jim Birge at jbirge@sangamonfb.org for reservations or more information. • The Marketing Committee will sponsor its annual AgriVisor steak fry at 6 p.m. Thursday, Aug. 12, at the Farm Bureau office. Dale Durchholz, AgriVisor LLC, will be the speaker. Cost is $10. Call the Farm Bureau office at 7535200 by Friday for reservations or more information. T. CLAIR — The MonClair Corn Growers test plot tours will be at 6:30 p.m. Monday, Aug. 9, at Dale Haudrich’s farm, Hecker, and at 6 p.m. Monday, Aug. 16, at Greg Guenther’s farm, Belleville. Call the Farm Bureau office at 939-6197 or 233-6800 by Tuesday for reservations or more information. TARK — A Women’s Market outlook seminar will be from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. today (Monday) at the Big River Resources plant, Galva. Cathy Ekstrand, StewartPeterson senior market adviser, will be the speaker. Call the Henry County Farm Bureau office at 309-9372411, the Knox County Farm Bureau office at 309-3427392, or the Stark County Farm Bureau office at 309286-7481 for reservations or more information. ABASH — The Young Farmers will sell pork burgers and tenderloins during Ag Days. The kiddie pedal tractor pull will be Saturday.

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• A farm bill meeting will be at 5 p.m. Tuesday, Aug. 10, at the Community Building, Bellmont. U.S. Reps. Tim Johnson (R-Mahomet) and John Shimkus (R-Collinsville) will attend. • A yield survey will be Thursday, Aug. 12, with board members collecting yield data from their precincts. Members may bring their moisture testers for calibrations. Lunch will be served at the Farm Bureau office. Call the Farm Bureau office for more information. ARREN-HENDERSON — Member and volunteer lunches will be from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. Wednesday at the Farm Bureau office in Monmouth and Thursday at the Farm Bureau office in Stronghurst. Call the Farm Bureau offices at 309-734-9401 or 309-924-1511 for reservations or more information. • A crop marketing breakfast meeting will be at 7 a.m. Thursday, Aug. 12, at the Farm Bureau office. The program is in conjunction with David Rehn, Wyffels Hybrids. Dale Durchholz, AgriVisor LLC, and Emerson Naftziger, University of Illinois, will be the speakers. Call the Farm Bureau office at 309-734-9401 for more information. • Farm Bureau is seeking input from members who have questions they would like to ask those who are seeking election this fall. Send questions to the Farm Bureau office, PO Box 350, Monmouth, Ill., 61462 or e-mail them to whfb@whfarmbureau.org. Call the Farm Bureau office at 309-734-9401 for more information. HITE — The annual White County crop tour will begin with breakfast at 7 a.m. Wednesday at the Farm Bureau office. Lunch will be served following the tour. Call the Farm Bureau office at 618-382-8512 for reservations or more information. • The Young Leader Committee will sponsor a pedal tractor pull at 3 p.m. Saturday at the White County Fair. Multiple weight classes will be offered. Rules are in the White County Fair book or online at {www.whitecfb.com}. • The member appreciation lunch will be from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. Wednesday, Aug. 11, in the Floral Hall, White County Fairgrounds. Call the Farm Bureau office at 618-382-8512 by Friday for reservations and to be entered into a drawing for prizes.

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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 Farm Bureau manager.


FarmWeek Page 14 Monday, August 2, 2010

PROFITABILITY

Strong spring demand drained fertilizer coffers BY JOE DILLIER

It was a big spring in the fertilizer business and the large demand depleted inventories around the country to levels we’ve not seen in several years. We start the new “fertilizer year” (it’s always new year’s in somebody’s business, right?) with virtually no inventories. And so far, Joe Dillier depletedinventory is the biggest driver in the marketplace for pricing. More on that later. Good spring demand made up for weak sales last fall. So on a July-June “fertilizer year” basis, volumes came in well above last year’s levels. April was a month that most folks in the fertilizer business won’t forget anytime soon. Europe also drained its inventories this past spring, so the Europeans start the new year on empty, too. At the same time, demand in Asia and Latin America has been strong, helping to support fertilizer prices globally. What does this inventory situation mean for fertilizer markets and pricing for this fall? One thing it probably means is that whatever happens in the wholesale markets

in regard to prices will be quickly translated to retail markets, as there is no inventory buffer to cushion the transition from one market to the other. Phosphate may be in the most acute situation. Inventory levels at phosphate producers are up slightly from last year, according to industry statistics, but stocks at wholesalers and retailers certainly would be well below last year’s levels (there are no statistics to measure this). Indian demand has been very strong, so manufacturers have large orders on for exports. Expect phosphate prices to be strong this fall. Prices for fall ammonia have been racing higher in recent days. Import values for ammonia were expected to drop post spring, but with strong industrial demand for ammonia, particularly in Asia, this has not happened. And the stronger world market for ammonia, combined with the uptick in wheat and corn values, and the depleted inventory situation in Midwest terminals, means prices have been rising. Where spring ammonia prices will be is anybody’s guess at this time, but as long as the industrial economy and grain prices stay on the uptick, expect fall prices for anhy-

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 $35.10-$42.00 $39.22 $56.94-$57.00 $56.97 n/a n/a This Week Last Week 18,495 29,399 *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 $81.64 $78.57 $60.41 $58.14

Change 3.07 2.27

USDA five-state area slaughter cattle price Steers Heifers

This week $92.86 $92.93

(Thursday’s price) Prv. week Change $94.89 -2.03 $94.96 -2.03

CME feeder cattle index — 600-800 Lbs. This is a composite price of feeder cattle transactions in 27 states. (Prices $ per hundredweight) This week Prev. week Change 112.77 111.93 0.84

Lamb prices Confirmed lamb and sheep sales This week 930 Last week 816 Last year 679 Wooled Slaughter Lambs: Choice and prime 2-3: 90-110 lb., $118; 110-130 lbs., $132. Good and choice 1-2: 60-90 lbs., $125. Slaughter Ewes: Utility and good 1-3: $46-$48. Cull and utility 1-2: $39-$46. THIS REPORT WILL NO LONGER BE AVAILABLE AFTER JULY 30.

Export inspections (Million bushels)

Week ending Soybeans Wheat Corn 07-22-10 6.6 15.4 42.4 07-15-10 9.7 23.5 40.8 Last year 9.3 12.6 54.7 Season total 1389.1 125.7 1652.5 Previous season total 1181.8 103.3 1554.4 USDA projected total 1455 900 2000 Crop marketing year began June 1 for wheat and Sept. 1 for corn and soybeans.

drous to be above last fall and potentially above spring 2010 values. too. Potash is not as acute supply-wise as the other products at this point, but international demand looks pretty firm, so expect prices to be stable through the fall. Joe Dillier is GROWMARK’s director, plant food. His e-mail address is jdillier@growmark.com

Busy fall could strain N supply BY DANIEL GRANT FarmWeek

Fertilizer terminals are rebuilding inventory after strong demand last spring drained supplies. But if farmers have a good window to apply anhydrous ammonia this fall and/or

FarmWeekNow.com Check out the latest Illinois fertilizer price report by going to FarmWeekNow.com.

boost corn acres for next year, some locations in Illinois could experience spot shortages of fertilizer, according to Joe Kilgus, area sales manager in Southern Illinois for GROWMARK. “There are a lot of predictions we’ll plant the largest corn crop ever (next year),” said Kilgus, who provided an input price outlook last week at the Illinois Farm Bureau Commodities Conference in Normal. “If we have a good fall, it will pressure the ammonia supply and prices could go back up.” USDA in June projected Illinois farmers planted 12.6 million acres of corn this year compared to 12 million acres in 2009. The average price per ton for urea ($426), liquid nitrogen ($262), diammonium phosphate ($505), and potash ($489) increased last month by a range of 29 cents to nearly $7 per ton, according to the Illinois Production Cost Report. Anhydrous ammonia prices late last month averaged $546 per ton in the state, a slight decrease from the previous two weeks. In the near future, Kilgus believes there is little chance of another fertilizer price spike (ammonia prices surpassed $1,000 in 2008), but he also believes farmers are unlikely to see much of a drop in prices. “This fall (fertilizer) prices likely will be more than last fall and comparable to last spring,” he said. The fertilizer market is expected to remain strong due to increased competition around the world. Kilgus also

noted phosphate stocks are at a five-year low. “The U.S. has become a small player (in the fertilizer market),” Kilgus said. To acquire or keep fertilizer stocks “the U.S. has got to outbid the competition.” China and India consume 44 percent of all nitrogen fertilizer in the world compared to just 11 percent in the U.S. Meanwhile, the U.S. produces

just 9 percent of all nitrogen fertilizer in the world, making it a net importer. The world market and changes in production costs/fuel prices have added volatility to the fertilizer market. Kilgus recommended farmers use risk management strategies similar to those used in selling grain and lock in a portion of their input prices when they are at manageable levels.

Milk posts a slight gain The Class III price for milk adjusted to 3.5 percent butterfat for the month of July was $13.74 per hundredweight. This is a 12-cent increase from the previous month. Slowly, but surely, the milk price is inching higher. The record-setting heat during the month of July is not yet showing up in reduced milk production or higher prices. Despite the high temperatures, milk production for the nation for the month of June posted a 2.3 percent increase compared to last year. Month-to-month milk production was down 4 percent as the typical post-flush seasonal decline starts as we head into fall.


FarmWeek Page 15 Monday, August 2, 2010

PROFITABILITY Corn Strategy

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

Cents per bu.

2009 crop: Use current strength to wrap up remaining old-crop sales. 2010 crop: The short-term trend in corn has shifted back higher. If the December contract can penetrate the $4.10 region, it would open the door for prices to test $4.50. Sales should have been boosted to 60 percent when December futures fell below $3.84. Use current strength for making catch-up sales. Fundamentals: T he fundamental picture for corn hasn’t changed much. Prices continue to gain short-term strength on spillover support from wheat. In addition, the extreme heat in Europe has resulted in the International Grain Council reducing its estimate for 2010/2011 world maize crop by 1 million tons to 823 million. Export business remains strong, as weekly sales were pegged at 960,500 metric tons (37.5 million bushels), which was at the high end of trade estimates of 800,000-1,000,000 metric tons.

Soybean Strategy

Wheat export business the next wildcard? Wheat exports are tracking projections but may have the potential to exceed them in the future. The Black Sea region has

Basis charts

been contending with drought conditions that are diminishing wheat crop potential there. This has surfaced speculation that Russian wheat exports may slip to 15.3 million tons (562 million bushels) in 2010/2011. As a result, this could shift additional export business to the United States. Soybeans export shipments since last fall have been running above USDA projections. The pace started to cool early this spring as business shifted to South America, but is now showing signs of picking back up. Corn exports have picked up since this spring and have been able to track projections. The recent uptick in business has been attributed to the unexpected dealings with China. However, the unknown going forward will be if China will remain a regular buyer of U.S. corn and soybeans. AgriVisor endorses crop insurance by

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2009 crop: We are starting to see old-crop basis levels weaken, indicating the premium old-crop prices have over new-crop is coming to an end. Wrap-up sales now. 2010 crop: If soybeans can maintain momentum and penetrate $10 in the November contract, it would open the door for prices to test the $10.50 region. If November futures fall through $9.60, boost new-crop sales to 60 percent. Check the Cash Strategist Hotline occasionally to see if we change that trigger price. Fundamentals: Weather and its impact on the size of our crop will be the primary market driver the next few weeks. However, crop condition ratings have started to level off. Generally speaking, weather conditions have been non-threatening, but the Delta region is expected to heat up over the next seven to 10 days and has some concerned about the fate of the soybean crop. In addition, export demand remains strong, as was reflected in weekly export sales com-

ing in at 1,483,300 metric tons (54.5 million bushels) vs. trade expectations of 900,000 to 1,050,000 metric tons.

Wheat Strategy 2010 crop: The upward trend in wheat remains intact with the trade worrying about international crop conditions. Prices in the September contract need to penetrate resistance at $6.33 to maintain momentum. Use current strength for catch-up sales. For producers who can store wheat, it is worth noting storage hedges are attractive this year. 2011 crop: New-crop sales total 25 percent. Use current

strength to make catch-up sales. We recommend making an additional 10 percent sale if Chicago July 2011 would penetrate $6.98. Fundamentals: Drought continues to grip the Black Sea Region. As a result, the International Grains Council forecasted Russian wheat expor ts in 2010/2011 could drop to 15.3 million tons, which has the potential to shift some export demand over to the United States. Also, supportive were weekly exports sales coming in strong at 919,900 metric tons (33.8 million bushels) vs. trade expectations for 300,000 to 400,000 metric tons.


FarmWeek Page 16 Monday, August 2, 2010

PERSPECTIVES

Caterpillar encounters can be educational In the good old summertime, human and caterpillar encounters are a common event. That is especially true if you are a gardener, a farmer, or a kid. Regardless of age, occupation, or avocation, you generally end up learning something when you come face to face with a caterpillar. TOM For gardeners TURPIN or farmers, the presence of caterpillars might indicate a pest problem. Then it is decision time. People who grow plants often have to decide if control is necessary to eliminate caterpillars that are making a meal out of their foliage. Technically, caterpillars are larvae of insects in the order Lepidoptera. Many people refer to caterpillars as worms. Regardless of the name, a caterpillar, after feeding, forms a pupa and then emerges as an adult insect. Some pest caterpillars turn into butterflies. Caterpillars of the white-colored cabbage butterfly are green worms that feed on cole crops, such as cabbage, broccoli, and cauliflower. As a caterpillar, the painted lady butterfly sometimes feeds on soybean plants. Other pest caterpillars become moths in the adult stage. These include corn earworms, European corn borers, and armyworms. The tomato hornworm caterpillar also becomes a moth and is known by various names, including hawk moth, hummingbird moth, or Sphinx moth. For kids, the discovery of a caterpillar feeding on a plant or just crawling along the ground is

an exciting event and reason enough to ask questions. The first question is usually, “What is it?” That is not an easy question to answer. There are thousands of types of caterpillars and many look similar. In fact, many caterpillars are so much alike that the only way to tell them apart is by using a diagnostic key with the aid of a high-power microscope to get a

close up look at the critter. For most people, comparing the caterpillar to pictures in a book, such as the Golden Guide for butterflies and moths, or looking up photos online on Google is a good place to start. Either way, it helps to have some idea about the type of caterpillar in question. In general, moth caterpillars are hairy and butterfly caterpillars smooth-bodied. There are exceptions to this rule. Some moth caterpillars are smooth-bodied: the familiar tomato hornworm cater-

“Buying land has changed Jack.”

pillar, for example. Other things to note when trying to identify a caterpillar are size and color patterns. Also, unusual protrusions on the body might allow you to put a name on the caterpillar. Such things as the horn on the tail end of the hornworm or the fleshy antennae-like protrusions behind the head of the monarch caterpillar can be useful for identification purposes. Another common question about caterpillars is, “What do they eat?” Caterpillars are sometimes finicky eaters and will only feed on one species of plant or on the type of plant where they began feeding. One thing to remember about caterpillars is that at some point they stop feeding and look for a place to become a pupa. They don’t need food after this! The “Who are you?” question is sometimes asked by home gardeners when they encounter a caterpillar on their parsley, dill, or fennel. The striking black- and green-striped caterpillar with yellow dots becomes the black swallowtail butterfly. When disturbed, the caterpillar has an interesting habit of protruding a forked scent gland called an osmeterium from behind its head. Then it releases a disagreeable odor, which conveys the message, “I don’t care who you are; just leave me alone!” In nature, caterpillars can sometimes send a powerful message just by the way they look or act. And that means a caterpillar encounter can be a learning experience for humans. Tom Turpin is an entomology professor at Purdue University, West Lafayette, Ind. His e-mail address is turpin@purdue.edu.

Don’t just admire blossoms, you can nibble on them, too People have been eating flowers for millennia. From daylily flowers used in sweet and sour soup to rose water for flavoring Turkish Delight, hundreds of flowers are used for food and flavorings all round the world. Edible flowers are enjoying a resurgence in popularity across the country, from fancy, upscale restaurants to rural grocery stores. Once when I grew nasturtiums, I discovered the hard way that they don’t like fertile soil, because they grew and grew and grew, but only put out one or two blooms late in the season. Fortunately for me, both the MARI leaves and flowers of nasturtium LOEHRLEIN are edible, and both have a nice, peppery flavor. Have you ever eaten a squash bloom? These large, delicate blossoms can be eaten raw or dipped in batter and deep-fried. The University of Illinois Extension website provides a recipe for stuffed squash blossoms at {http://urbanext.illinois.edu/veggies/ssquash.cfm}. The site recommends collecting only male squash flowers, because there are many more of those than females. The female flowers can be easily identified by a bulbous base, which is actually the ovary, and is a miniature version of the full-grown fruit, whether it be pumpkin, zucchini, or summer squash. If you try eating flowers at home, make sure you don’t eat anything that’s been sprayed with chemicals or has some other environmental pollutant. This is when eating local, such as from your own garden, is recommended. Consuming plants grown for florist sales should definitely be avoided. I offer a few other caveats, such as taking the usual precautions if you have food allergies, and making sure you correctly identify the plant you want to eat. Some experts recommend removing the pollenbearing anthers before eating, and most flowers should have the small green appendages, or sepals, removed, too. However, Johnny-Jump-Up, pansy, and violet sepals can be eaten. Sunflower buds are said to have flavor resembling an artichoke, whereas petals from the open flower are bitter and the pollen can cause an allergic reaction in some people. Pansies have a wintergreen flavor. If you plan to pick your own flowers for eating, it is best to pick in the morning after the dew has dried. Squash blossoms are to be harvested at midday, when fully open. If you are going to have them in a meal later in the day, place them in a glass of water and store in a cool, dry place. You can refrigerate them that way or put them in one of those specially designed bags for storing produce. Two weeds that come up every year in my lawn, the violet and the dandelion, both are edible. When young, dandelions are said to have a sweet, honeylike flavor or taste like mushrooms, depending on the source. Mature dandelion flowers taste bitter. They also contain both vitamins A and C. You might want to sample a couple before picking, because their flavor can change depending on such factors as temperature, soil moisture, and even how early or late in the season it is. Nibbling on flowers doesn’t have to be expensive or exotic. It’s easy and fun, and you can join the latest food fad right from your own backyard. Mari Loehrlein is a horticulture professor at Western Illinois University’s school of agriculture. Her e-mail address is MM-Loehrlein@wiu.edu.