Page 1

HIGH WINDS LAST WEEK again raised concerns about pesticide drift. The state ag department recommends communicating with neighbors when planning to spray. .............2

FARMERS HAVE CUT soil erosion on cropland in Illinois and across the nation, but fewer acres are being farmed, says the Natural Resources Conservation Service. ...3

THERE NOW IS A CROP to watch and our 28 Cropwatchers begin doing just that this week in the 18th year of Cropwatcher reports. ........................................6, 7

Monday, May 3, 2010

Two sections Volume 38, No. 18

Battle to continue

Redistricting reform chances over this year


Periodicals: Time Valued

Illinois voters won’t have a chance this year to change how the state draws legislative districts. Last week two efforts — one in the General Assembly and the other a citizen initiative — both ended unsuccessfully without putting a measure on the November ballot. “Are we disappointed that the Illinois Fair Map Amendment Coalition didn’t garner enough signatures to be put on the November ballot? Yes. But this is not the end of this battle,” said Illinois Farm Bureau Director Terry Pope, who chaired the IFB Legislative Redistricting Working Group. “We’re very proud of the Farm Bureau members who collected signatures for the petition drive. IFB collected and submitted about 10,100 signatures,” Pope noted. The Illinois Fair Map coalition, which included the League of Women Voters, IFB, and other groups, announced last week it collected between 150,000 and 160,000 signatures — not the 288,000 required to put the measure on the ballot, said Jan Czarnik, the League’s executive director. Today (Monday) was the deadline to submit voter signatures to the

secretary of state’s office. “We did fabulously well in four and a half months. I don’t want anyone to think of this as a failure,” Czarnik told FarmWeek. “This is just Chapter One in the work to reform redistricting.” Meanwhile, the House failed to pass another redistricting proposal, Senate Joint Resolu- Listen to comments from floor debate last Thursday on legislative redistricting at

tion Constitutional Amendment (SJRCA) 121, sponsored by Sen. Kwame Raoul (DChicago). The bill needed 71 votes to pass, but received 69 votes along party lines. “One of the IFB Legislative Redistricting Working Group’s goals also was to encourage the legislators to have a plan, and both parties had bills addressing

redistricting,“ Pope said. During floor debate, Minority Leader Tom Cross (ROswego) asked lawmakers if their goal was to dramatically reform the redistricting process “or nibble around the edges.” Cross challenged fellow representatives to remember the districts’ purpose. “Since when are these our districts?” he asked. “None of us has ownership of our districts.” Redistricting reformers may have lost this fight, but the battle to change the process will continue. “Legislative Redistricting Working Group members and IFB staff will continue to monitor the redistricting process in the coming year to make sure a fair map that follows the parameters of IFB policy is proposed and approved,” Pope said. Czarnik agreed: “We’re not giving up on redistricting reform.”


When opinion researchers probed more than a thousand non-farm people across Illinois last month, most said “I respect farmers as people.” But the majority also added, “I don’t trust the farming that they do.” Surprised? Maybe not. You understand that Americans know less about farmers and farming than at any time in our history. Millions no longer have a direct connection to food production. Farmers have known for a long time that this separation from the farm could negatively impact the traditionally positive image of their livelihood. And now, opinion research sponsored by four state commodity groups and the Illinois Farm Bureau has tested the strength of the farmers image — and found it wanting. The image a farmer has is very real and critically important — ask Wall Street bankers about the value of image in terms of controlling the public agenda. A sign of problems? When asked to guess what percentage of farms in Illinois are “family owned farms” (95 percent+ is the right answer) the mean guess by the surveyed non-farm citizens was 46 percent. They said 54 percent of farms were operated by corporations — which meant they believe the dominant structure in farming is a distant owner, shareholders, hired labor, and a different attitude toward profit and environmental stewardship than they can accept. In fact, in 10 hours of one-on-one interviews and focus groups involving 17 Chicagoans, the gap between the “good” farmers they want to believe in and the “bad” farmers they think dominate agriculture became very obvious to the researchers. Milwaukee-based public relations firm Morgan & Myers and the Roper public research firm have been contracted to help farm groups determine how people feel about farmers, determining the current image of the farmer. Partners on the project include the Illinois Beef Association, Illinois Corn Marketing Board, IFB, Illinois Pork Producers Association, and Illinois Soybean Association. Morgan & Myers executive Linda Wenck and I will write a series of columns for FarmWeek in coming weeks, examining the farmer’s traditionally positive image and describing how that image has been misplaced by a cynical and fearful public. A communications working group composed of staff members from the five organizations will propose ways for Illinois farmers and farm groups to update, modernize, and clarify the farmer’s image in the minds of our non-farm customers and neighbors.

First of a series


Tina Gray, left, and her husband, Bill, of Tonica in LaSalle County chat about planting progress on their last cornfield last week. Tina had just delivered the final bags of seed corn for the 160-acre field. Gray said he planned to wait until the soil temperatures warm up more before he starts to plant soybeans. In addition to Tina, Gray also gets help from his son, Chris. Read more about planting progress on page 11. (Photo by Ken Kashian)

FarmWeek on the web:

Dennis Vercler is IFB’s director of News and Communications. Illinois Farm Bureau®on the web:

FarmWeek Page 2 Monday, May 3, 2010


Quick Takes PROGRAM REVISIONS — USDA has loosened some farm program and disaster restrictions for the season ahead. It eliminated provisions that terminated base acres on federally owned lands — a practice that precluded program benefits for producers who rented ground from federal agencies. That change should help some Southern Illinois producers farming around federal refuge/forest areas. Producers also now will be able to certify their acreages without being required to submit accompanying documentation such as settlement sheets or scale tickets. Also, farms with fewer than 10 base acres previously were ineligible for program benefits unless they were wholly owned by “socially disadvantaged or limitedresource producers.” Under new rules, 10 acre-or-smaller operations need only be 50 percent owned by such producers to qualify. Under Supplemental Revenue Assistance Program (SURE) livestock disaster assistance in the past, a producer’s animals must have been grazing on ground the day a drought effectively began to qualify for SURE payments. Now, farmers will be eligible if animals “normally” would have grazed an affected area. N E W E PA O N L I N E TO O L O F F E R S C WA INFORMATION — The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is launching new online tools, data, and interactive maps to inform the public about Clean Water Act (CWA) violations in their communities. The web tools are part of EPA’s CWA action plan to work with states to ensure facilities comply with standards. The new web page offers interactive information from EPA’s 2008 annual noncompliance report on 40,000 permitted CWA dischargers across the country. The report lists a state-by-state summary of violations and state enforcement responses for smaller facilities. The new web page also allows users to compare state compliance rates and enforcement actions. T h e i n t e r a c t i v e m a p i s o n l i n e a t { w w w. e p a}. HOPS CUT CATTLE AMMONIA PRODUCTION — In addition to beer, hops may have another use, according to a USDA Agricultural Research Service scientist. Microbiologist Michael Flythe has learned hops help reduce the amount of ammonia produced by cattle and one group of bacteria, known as hyper-ammonia-producing bacteria, or HABs in the animals. While other bacteria help cattle convert plant fibers to cud, HABs break down amino acids, which produces ammonia and robs the animals of the amino acids needed to build muscle. Hops, originally added to limit bacterial growth in beer, can reduce HAB populations, Flythe said. Either dried hops flowers or hops extracts inhibit HAB growth and ammonia production.

(ISSN0197-6680) Vol. 38 No. 18

May 3, 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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Remember communication

Take precaution to avoid the herbicide spray drift

All applicators need to be aware of the impact herbicide drift can have on off-target plants and crops, said Warren Goestch, Illinois Department of Agriculture (IDOA) bureau chief of environmental programs. Last week’s high winds raised the issue once again. Remember that communication of your plans in advance of the actual pesticide application is one of farmers’ best tools to prevent pesticide drift problems, especially with neighbors, Goetsch added. Herbicide drift is one of the most common complaints received by IDOA. About 66 formal ag-related drift complaints were recorded by IDOA last year. That was less than the previous year. Usually in any one year, IDOA receives about 100 pesticiderelated complaints, including both lawn care and ag-related drift complaints. Neighbors should discuss any sensitive crops — especially high-value crops that are irreplaceable — and their locations. Growers also should discuss what crop traits may make drift or pesticide residue troublesome. Before applying a pesticide,

farmers also should remember to check current weather conditions and conditions forecast for the application day. Wind Visit to view the spray drift booklet developed by the U of I, IDOA, and IFB.

speed and direction are major considerations. Also, check your application equipment. Do you have the correct nozzle type, size, orientation, pressure, and boom height? Check your intended pesticide or tank mix. Have you obtained the correct produc-

tion formulation for both efficacy and minimizing drift? Are you using the proper adjuvants and drift-control additives, if needed? The University of Illinois developed a booklet, “Reducing Pesticide Drift,” in which Illinois Farm Bureau, the Illinois Department of Agriculture, and the Illinois Specialty Growers Association provided input. The booklet includes best management practices to reduce drift and offers suggestions on how specialty growers can help reduce the impact of drift. An online copy is available at {}.

IDOA planning ag pesticide collections in Northwest Illinois Residents of eight Northwestern Illinois counties may dispose of unwanted agrichemicals for free through the Illinois Department of Agriculture’s (IDOA) agricultural pesticide collection program, IDOA announced last week. Collections have been scheduled in late summer in Carroll, Henry, Jo Daviess, Knox, Mercer, Rock Island, Stephenson and Whiteside counties. The collection is open to farmers, retired farmers, nursery owners, private pesticide applicators, and landowners who inherited unwanted ag pesticides with their property. Warren Goetsch, IDOA bureau chief of environmental programs, noted the program is free because IDOA received a grant from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. “If individuals were to properly dispose of agrichemicals on their own, the cost would be expensive,” Goetsch said. He added the state assumes liability for proper disposal of the product, not program participants. By June 25, participants must register what products they plan to dispose. Registration is required to give the waste disposal contractor time to prepare for the

materials that will need to be handled. Registration forms may be obtained either by calling the IDOA’s pesticide hotline 800641-3934 or visiting a program sponsor. Completed forms should be mailed or faxed to the: Clean Sweep Program, Illinois Department of Agriculture, State Fairgrounds, Box

19281, Springfield, Ill., 62794-9281. The fax number is 217-524-4882. Sponsors in the respective counties are: Carroll County Farm Bureau, Soil and Water Conservation District (SWCD), and Extension; Henry County Farm Bureau, SWCD, and Extension; Jo Daviess County Farm Bureau, SWCD, and Extension. Also: Knox County SWCD and Extension; Mercer County Farm Bureau, SWCD, and Extension; Rock Island County Farm Bureau, SWCD, and Extension; Stephenson County Farm Bureau, SWCD, and Extension; and Whiteside County Farm Bureau, SWCD, and Extension.

FarmWeek Page 3 Monday, May 3, 2010


Nation’s high court hears first GMO case BY DAVE MCCLELLAND FarmWeek

The case involves genetically modified alfalfa, but legal experts believe its implications could go far beyond that crop. The U.S. Supreme Court last week for the first time ever heard oral arguments in a case involving biotech crops. The case stems from a lawsuit four years ago by Phillip Geertson, an organic grower from Oregon. A northern California district court accepted arguments that Geertson and others face “the likelihood of irreparable harm” from contamination of Monsanto-engineered alfalfa through cross pollination with their alfalfa crops. That court permitted farmers who

already had purchased the Monsanto seeds to plant them but said they couldn’t do so until after USDA com-

‘This isn’t the end of the world, it really isn’t.’ — Justice Antonin Scalia

pleted an environmental impact statement. That ruling was upheld by the 9th U.S. District Court of Appeals. Deputy Solicitor General Malcolm

Stewart told the court USDA is not expected to complete its impact statement for another year, meaning it could be at least that long before Monsanto can begin again to sell modified alfalfa seeds — barring the high court’s intervention. A ruling by the justices is not expected until June at least. However, the tenor of the questions justices asked attorneys at the hearing offered some insight into their thinking. Often interrupting attorneys as they stated their cases, the justices sharply questioned the lower court’s decision to prohibit sale of the modified seed. Lawrence Robbins, who argued the case for Geertson and other plaintiffs,

made reference to poisoning the water in New York City while making a general comment about contamination. Justice Antonin Scalia stopped Robbins in mid-sentence: “This isn’t contamination of New York city’s water supply. The most it does is affect farmers who want to cater to the European market (many European and some Asian countries have banned GMO crops). “This isn’t the end of the world, it really isn’t,” said Scalia. One concern legal advisers have is that farmers could become hesitant to start using new biotech products if they are worried a court could prohibit use of the varieties after they have been put on the market.

NRCS: Farmland erosion down, but fewer acres farmed Illinois mirrors nationwide trend BY KAY SHIPMAN FarmWeek

Roberts: Consumer education remains an ongoing challenge BY DANIEL GRANT FarnWeek

Lyle Roberts, the chief executive officer of the Illinois Soybean Association, is “very optimistic” about the future of the ag industry. Population expansion around the world bodes well for the demand of farmbased products. However, when it comes to ag production, farmers increasingly will be challenged not only with a need to produce more on fewer acres but also with the task of educating an expanding consumer base about modern food production practices. “When I started (working in the ag sector in 1970) everyone was one generation away from the farm,” said Roberts, who will retire in October with 40 years of service to the industry. “What’s happened the last 40 years is (the ag population has declined while the overall population has increased) and people don’t understand (food production) at all.” The number of farms in the U.S. has declined from

2.5 million in 1982 to 2.2 million in 2007, according to the USDA ag census. Meanwhile, the number of farms that produce 75 percent of the value of U.S. ag production declined from 144,000 in 2002 to just 125,000 in 2007. “It’s very difficult to educate somebody” with no farm background about food production, Roberts said. “It will be a challenge to maintain a continuous flow of information to people.” Roberts also believes it’s getting harder to find people in the ag industry, due in part to dwindling farmer numbers, who have the time and resources to volunteer for leadership roles and to help with educational efforts. Illinois in 2007 had 76,860 farms, according to USDA, compared to 128,000 in 1970 when Roberts entered the industry. “I’m still very optimistic about farm leadership, we just have to be innovative,” he said. “And it’s still best if the voice (of agriculture) is collective.”

Farmers have cut soil erosion on cropland in Illinois and across the nation, but fewer acres are being farmed, the Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) reported last week. “Total Illinois cropland erosion has decreased, and cropland acres have decreased. Part of it (decreased acres) is development; part of it is other uses,” James Johnson, Illinois NRCS resource inventory specialist, told FarmWeek. USDA Deputy Secretary Kathleen Merrigan last week announced results of the National Resource Inventory (NRI) — the first comprehen-

sive report since 1997. The NRI covers resource data up to 2007. Illinois NRCS staff is analyzing the NRI and will have Illinois-specific findings in a couple of weeks, Johnson said. One of the highlights is a 40 percent decrease nationwide in all types of soil erosion over the past 25 years. Most Kathleen progress was Merrigan made between 1987 and 1997. Another notable change was the 15 percent decrease in the amount of acres being farmed — from 420 million acres in 1982 to 357 million acres in 2007. About half of the reduction was due to enrollment in

the Conservation Reserve Program (CRP). Development also contributed to the decrease in farmland acreage, accounting for a reduction of nearly 40 million acres between 1982 and 2007. However, NRCS defines “development” as a variety of uses, including roads and railroads as well as urbanization development for homes and industry. The total area of developed land in all states, except Alaska and Hawaii, nearly equals the combined surface area of Illinois, Iowa, and Michigan. The largest increase in development, 10.7 million acres, occurred between 1992 and 1997. For additional information about NRI, go online to { nri}.

EPA awards U of I team sustainable design grant A University of Illinois team was one of 14 collegiate teams selected by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to receive a grant in a national sustainable design competition. EPA awarded more than $1 million total to the 14 winners. Winning teams developed sustainable projects and ideas that protect the environment, encourage economic growth, and use natural resources more efficiently. The U of I students are implementing community-constructed concrete bio-sand filters that incorporate the addition of iron oxides to remove viruses from drinking water in Socorro, Guatemala. Collaboration with local non-government organizations will enhance community education about this simple

technology and promote hygienic practices. Each award winner received

up to $75,000 to further develop a design, implement it in the field, or move it to market.

Illinois wheat tour set for May 26 The Illinois Wheat Association (IWA) on Wednesday, May 26, will hold its annual winter wheat tour in Southern Illinois. The tour is an opportunity for producers and others in the wheat industry to make crop observations, check for signs of disease, and make yield estimates for the 2010 crop. Random field checks will be held throughout the day followed by an evening report session at the Jim Rose farm located four miles north of Salem on Route 37. The report session will begin at 5 p.m. with a dinner at 5:30. The daytime tour will begin at 9 a.m. and will feature field checks in Southeastern and Southwestern Illinois. The starting point on the southeastern leg of the tour will be Siemer Milling Co. located at 111 W. Main, Teutopolis. Call 217857-3131 to make a reservation. The starting point on the southwestern leg of the tour will be Mennel Milling Co. located at 415 E. Main St., Mt. Olive. Call 217-999-2161 to make a reservation. Those interested in attending the session at the Rose farm should contact IWA by May 24 at 309-557-3662 or e-mail

FarmWeek Page 4 Monday, May 3, 2010


What’s best for farmers? Vilsack, congressmen disagree BY DAVE MCCLELLAND FarmWeek

Both the administration and farm state members of Congress believe they have the best approach for helping the nation’s farmers remain viable. But their ideas differ greatly. “We’ve got to do something different,” Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack told members of the North American Agricultural Journalists last week during the journalists’ annual meeting in Washington, D.C. “If we only focus on what we’ve done before and try to do a better job of it, it won’t be enough.” The Obama administration

Tom Vilsack

is proposing significant cuts in direct payments and crop insurance subsidies and instead, Vilsack said, will focus more on restructuring rural Ameri-

can. Vilsack said the administration will concentrate on “a new framework for the rural economy,” which will entail new jobs being created with incentives for the biofuels and renewable energy industries, broadband, and expansion of domestic

Hare: Help Midwest projects ‘get moving’ Congress must help river users and shippers build capital for and “get moving” on new Midwest lock construction, U.S. Rep. Phil Hare told FarmWeek last week. The Rock Island Democrat and House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee member is working with bipartisan colleagues “on both side of the river, from Minnesota all the way down to Missouri and beyond” to promote an industry plan to shore up the Inland Waterways Trust Fund. The trust fund is a private pool, fed by barge fuel taxes, that matches federal funding for new lock construction. Producers and shippers have waited nearly three years for congressional funding of seven larger Upper Mississippi-Illinois locks — funding that has mired in part over waning trust fund reserves. Hare met last week with Quincy-area interests economically impacted by Upper Mississippi navigation after discussing with Transportation Chairman James Oberstar (D-Minn.) the importance of an industry-supported fuel tax increase and changes in the way trust fund money is used. Delays in moving 1,200-foot barge tows through existing 600-foot locks increase shipping costs and consequently impact farm commodity prices. “That fund is basically broke,” Hare noted. “We have the need; we don’t have the money. We have to ensure we fund the Inland Waterway Trust Fund — some of the barge owners are willing to actually tax themselves to get the money into it. These locks are in very bad shape. “We’re losing six days just in terms of breaking these (barge) tows apart (along the Upper Miss lock system) and competing with Brazil. “There are a lot of members who understand that if these locks fail, we’re going to have a monumental problem on our hands here. It’s not a question of if they’re going to fail — it’s when they’re going to fail.” Beyond the river’s importance in building U.S. export volume and cost-competitiveness, Hare cites estimates that new locks and associated projects would generate some 28,000 construction jobs. In his view, that’s “a pretty good selling point” for lawmakers focused on economic stimulus. Hare also continues to push congressional approval for an Upper Miss-Illinois comprehensive plan that would bolster flood protections upriver while preserving existing protections south of St. Louis. Gulfport (Henderson County) residents recently reviewed possible options for buyouts in the wake of 2008 flood devastation. Hare joined in an April letter urging the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers the agencies to change their process for modernizing flood maps. In many cases, lawmakers advised, data being used to create the new insurance rate maps are several years or even decades old and lack details on recent municipal improvements that will impact water flow. “It’s very hard to get new business into a community when there’s a fear of flooding,” Hare told FarmWeek. “Look at what happened in Gulfport, and what’s going to continue to happen.”

markets for local producers. He labeled as “nonsense” allegations the focus on local food and rural development threatens to U.S. Rep. Frank Lucas turn farming communities in the bedroom communities. “I’m telling you folks, if you are going to focus on traditional ways of dealing with this, you’re not going to break out of the mold. “We have doubled exports in the last 10 years. We have significantly increased payments (direct payments and crop insurance premiums subsidies), and we’re still losing farmers,” said Vilsack. The administration is proposing to cut spending for crop insurance by $6.9 billion over the next 10 years and make sharp reductions in direct payments. That is disturbing to such farm state legislators as Frank

Lucas (R-Okla.), ranking Republican on the House Agriculture Committee. “Don’t make us pick between conservation and commodity titles and research and so-called infrastructure-rural development. We have the right to have both,” he said. If the administration carries out its plans to “reduce the safety net” for farmers, “Are we going to get our food from someplace else on this planet?” Lucas asked sardonically. He and Collin Peterson (DMinn.), chairman of the House Ag committee, have agreed to launch early hearings for the 2012 farm bill (the first of which were last weekend) because they fear they cannot wait for a more traditional starting time. “If we don’t make the case early, these people (the administration) may have turned down our baseline to the point we won’t have anything to work with,” said Lucas. Farm Bureau also has formed a Farm Policy Task Force to get an early start on

the farm bill discussion. In a later development last week, Christina Romer, chairman of the President’s Council of Economic Advisers, said the administration’s farm policy goals include targeting future farm program payments to “what we think are the people who need it most.” Vilsack said the administration’s aim to reduce direct payments from those making $750,000 adjusted gross income (AGI) to $250,000 AGI would affect perhaps 30,000 of the nation’s 1.4 million farmers. Romer argued the need to set new payment limits or eliminate program benefits “for the very wealthiest farmers,” while heading off what she termed “windfall profits” under the federal crop insurance reinsurance agreement. Crop insurers are concerned proposed reductions in USDA reimbursement for the policies they offer could compromise rainy-day reserves or future customer services.

Over-the-counter (regulatory) market remedies necessary? BY MARTIN ROSS FarmWeek

As policymakers look at taking a more handson approach to “over-the-counter” (OTC) derivatives, they should consider the realities of ag derivatives and the potential consequences of altering current market structures, according to American Farm Bureau Federation economist Bob Young. U.S. Democrats and Republicans struggled last week toward a compromise to end GOP filibustering over financial reform legislation, and Young maintained treatment of financial instruments such as off-exchange derivatives “deserves a lot of the conversation it’s getting.” Derivatives include a variety U.S. Sen. Blanche Lincoln of largely unregulated, offexchange agreements often aimed at offsetting financial risk. Speculation involving derivatives has been linked with the recent financial crisis: President Obama last week charged financial giant AIG and others with “making huge and risky bets, using derivatives and other complicated financial instruments in ways that defied accountability.” Illinois Farm Bureau seeks greater public “transparency” in derivatives trading. As part of the hefty Democrat reform package, Senate Ag Chairman Blanche Lincoln (D-Ark.) proposes mandatory exchange trading of derivative “swaps,” with immediate, “real-time” reporting of transactions and mandatory clearinghouse requirements. Last week, Lincoln told farm editors U.S. Treasury staff, the Securities Exchange Commission, and the Commodities Futures Trading Commission helped her craft proposals designed to foster “a robust marketplace” and greater

trader “confidence.” But the Federal Reserve has joined major banks in opposing Lincoln’s proposal to “spin off ” derivatives trading outside the banking system. While that concept might have some merit, Young warned independent entities would face “very different kinds of capital requirements.” He echoed investor Warren Buffett’s concern about the impact changes in the way derivatives are traded or cleared might have on existing agreements, and argued proposals “need to be talked about.” At the same time, Young stressed important distinctions between general financial derivatives and ag derivatives. “With most ag instruments, you’re dealing with a physical commodity, and the folks on both sides of the trade tend to be dealing in that physical commodity,” Young told FarmWeek. “In the ag derivatives market, (transactions) tend to be real stuff. That’s quite a bit different than where I think a lot of the financial risk was coming from that created these financial problems.” Ag enterprises could be exempted from Lincoln’s derivatives clearing requirement if trades relate directly to a “central part of their primary business operation.” Illinois Farm Bureau’s GrassRoots Issues Team and Profitability Advisory Team supported efforts to raise producer awareness of derivatives as well as on-exchange marketing tools. IFB risk management specialist Doug Yoder was uncertain what impact Congress’ recent focus on derivatives has had on over-the-counter activity. “There’s no regulatory oversight, so no one knows the amount of trades going on,” Yoder pointed out. “There’s no good way to measure that, and that’s probably what Congress is concerned about.”

FarmWeek Page 5 Monday, May 3, 2010


Obama hails biofuels’ role, but concerns remain BY MARTIN ROSS FarmWeek

President Obama last week hailed Midwest ethanol production, saying in Iowa that “the country that leads the clean energy

ernment has provided $800 million in 2009 stimulus funding for ethanol fueling infrastructure, biorefinery construction, and advanced biofuels research designed to triple production within

elimination could halt domestic development just as recent expiration of a biodiesel tax credit has prompted plant shutdowns and layoffs. U.S. Rep. Phil Hare, a

‘ There shouldn’t be any doubt renewable, homegrown fuels are a key par t of our strategy for a clean-energy future.’ — President Barack Obama at Iowa’s Poet ethanol plant

economy will be the country that leads the 21st Century global economy.” At the same time, soybean interests intensified efforts to ensure continued U.S. biodiesel growth. And Midwest lawmakers continue to push long-term extension of an ethanol tax credit seen as crucial to the next-generation biofuels Obama touted while touring Poet, an Iowa ethanol producer that is gearing up for corn cob-based ethanol production. Obama noted the gov-

12 years. A biofuels working group that includes Ag Secretary Tom Vilsack is “working to promote this generation of biofuels and help you deliver the next,” Obama said. “There shouldn’t be any doubt renewable, homegrown fuels are a key part of our strategy for a cleanenergy future,” he told Poet employees. But doubts remain. The 45-cent-per-gallon ethanol credit expires Dec. 31, and corn growers fear credit

Rock Island Democrat, supports Collinsville Republican Rep. John Shimkus’ proposal to extend the ethanol credit for five years. “I think there’s a tremendous amount of support for biodiesel and ethanol out here,” Hare told Far mWeek. “If we’re going to have an energy policy, it has to be comprehensive. There’s clearly room for ethanol and biodiesel in this mix along with nuclear, wind, and solar.

Illinois ‘Main Street’ green industry corridor? U.S. Rep. Phil Hare is energized by President Obama’s support for tapping “Main Street” as a major avenue for new green jobs and renewable infrastructure. During a Midwest tour with stops in Quincy, Obama visited Siemens Energy Inc., a major wind energy equipment U.S. Rep. Phil Hare manufacturer. Hare, a Rock Island Democrat, viewed Obama’s visit as “a great opportunity” to highlight jobs legislation which would extend recent stimulus measures and position Illinois as a center for green energy infrastructure production and new wind farm development. Touring Siemen’s Iowa plant, Obama suggested “if we pursue our full potential for wind energy, and everything else goes right, wind

could generate as much as 20 percent of America’s electricity 20 years from now.” Stimulus funding made possible 10 gigawatts of new wind-based capacity last year alone, “enough to power more than 2.4 million American homes,” Obama told Siemens workers. Last week, Interior Secretary Ken Salazar endorsed plans for the first U.S. offshore wind turbine array near Cape Cod, Mass., and wind energy interests support a federal “renewable portfolio standard” that requires a percentage of future electric generation from wind, biomass, or other sources. Hare’s bill would offer a 30 percent tax credit to companies that build domestic facilities to manufacture wind, solar, or other alternative energy components. Smaller manufacturers would receive startup grants through the roughly $5 billion initiative.

“This bill doesn’t add a penny to the deficit — it comes out of the stimulus bill,” Hare told FarmWeek. “The first pot was already spent. “We’re trying to take $5 billion that’s going to be allocated anyway and spur manufacturing in (Hare’s) 17th District or, for that matter, across the country. We make these products here, with American workers, and we install them here.” Hare’s measure had 60plus co-sponsors, and a Senate companion is gaining momentum. Stimulus funds have supported 183 new or expanded manufacturing facilities, and he sees potential to reactivate dormant facilities such as Galesburg’s Maytag plant which shut down in 2004. Hare views renewable infrastructure production as “a natural fit” because of Illinois’ wind corridors. He also sees potential for U.S. equipment exports to countries hungry for green energy. — Martin Ross

“There are some who feel (biofuels development) is too expensive, but for the most part, I think we have a lot of support in Congress.” American Soybean Association (ASA) President Rob Joslin applauded Obama’s highlighting “the importance of our domestic biofuels industry and how it supports rural economies.” But Congress must prioritize retroactive extension of the biodiesel tax credit

“to put people back to work at green jobs as soon as possible,” he argued. Since expiration of the credit Dec. 31, 2009, biodiesel production and consumption have declined and surplus soy oil stocks continue to rise. Illinois Soybean Association director-ASA Secretary Ron Kindred urged growers to encourage Illinois senators and representatives to push for credit extension by Memorial Day.

Livestock groups ask House to eliminate credit, tariff Major livestock/poultry groups asked the U.S. House Ways and Means Committee last week to allow the 30year-old ethanol blenders tax credit (see accompanying story) and a related tariff on imported ethanol to expire at year’s end. However, the American Meat Institute, the National Turkey Federation, the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association, and others livestock interests maintained they “support the need to advance renewable and alternative sources of energy.” “We strongly believe that it is time that the mature corn-based ethanol industry operates on a level playing field with other commodities that rely on corn as their major input,” they told the committee. “Favoring one segment of agriculture at the expense of another does not benefit agriculture as a whole or the consumers that ultimately purchase our products. “The blender’s tax credit, coupled with the import tariff, has distorted the corn market, increased the cost of feeding animals, and squeezed production margins — resulting in job losses and bankruptcies in rural communities.”

FarmWeek Page 6 Monday, May 3, 2010 * New Cropwatcher this year Bernie Walsh, Durand, Winnebago County: Greetings from near Durand in Winnebago county about two miles from the Wisconsin state line. My wife, Deb, and I raise corn, soybeans and wheat and this is the 127th consecutive year our family has planted a corn crop on this farm. This is the start of my sixth year as a Cropwatcher and the first year that we have all of our corn planted by the first crop report. Most growers are finishing up planting corn and getting started with planting soybeans, thanks to the very nice March and April. What a difference a year makes. Have a good week and a safe and prosperous year. Pete Tekampe, Grayslake, Lake County: Welcome to Cropwatchers 2010. We got a half inch of rain on the weekend of the 24th with light rain coming Saturday and Sunday. Monday (April 26) we were back in the fields. I started planting corn on April 17, which is the earliest I have ever started. I finished April 27. The soil was in good shape, but on the dry side. About 50 percent of the corn is planted in Lake County. They were calling for rain over the weekend. It was 80 degrees with wind gusting to 40 miles per hour on Thursday and Friday. The ground is drying out fast. Small grain looks good but needs a shower and so does the hay land. I’m afraid to ask for a shower after what happened last year. Also, I heard Thursday that someone had just finished picking corn in Lake County. Leroy Getz, Savanna, Carroll County: Welcome to Northwest Illinois livestock country. Our dairy cows remain an enjoyable way of farm life. The season started off with the earliest corn planting that I have ever recorded — on April 12. Yet a few fields of 2009 crop were still to be harvested. Many producers are nearly finished with corn, and beans are going into the ground. March-seeded oats and alfalfa are off to a good start. Soil conditions are so much better than the last two years. I recorded 4.25 inches of rain for the month of April. Other than a few frosty mornings, the warmer temperatures seem to be the main thing that are pushing the plant growth ahead of normal. Ron Frieders, Waterman, DeKalb County: Hello from DeKalb County and welcome to another exciting year in agriculture. What a difference a year makes. This time last year we were still waiting for the fields to dry out. This year, corn planting is complete and some fields are up. Wednesday morning the lawns were white with frost and the temperature was 28 degrees. I haven’t been by a field that was planted on Easter to see if there was damage. It is the biggest corn around. Most other fields just emerged or still are in the ground. Soybean planting also is in progress. Some beans were planted the middle of last week. I never have been in a season in which everyone felt such an urgent push to get crops planted. It will take awhile after the struggle of last year for people to return to an average pace. Thursday afternoon, as we were in the field, the wind was blowing 40 mph with gusts to 50. A half a mile from us, we saw a field fire. The fire spread faster than you could run. 400 acres burned along with some buildings and vehicles. It took 14 area fire departments to extinguish the blaze. Please take time to be careful and stay safe. Larry Hummel, Dixon, Lee County: The 2010 crop year will be special as my son, Nathan, joins my brother, Rich, nephew, Chris, and myself as a partner in our farming operation. Nathan has worked as an employee for the farm for the last five years. Hopefully, I will have the patience and wisdom to be the teacher and mentor that my father was for me. Thank God the weather has cooperated this year because the equipment hasn’t. Within a twoday period, while we were putting on anhydrous, the tractor we normally have on the corn planter went down with rear-end problems (a week and a half in the shop). It was closely followed by a second tractor, with only 900 hours on a remanufactured engine, that started spewing oil and losing power. I’m not sure what kind of lesson that was for Nathan, but it sure wasn’t a fun one.

CROPWATCHERS Joe Zumwalt, Warsaw, Hancock County: What a great start to a new year. I am beginning the new year of Cropwatching with all of my corn planted and emerged. Stands are looking even and uniform. It has been a few years since this has happened. I farm in the Mississippi River bottoms between Warsaw and Quincy. While my parents raise livestock, I am strictly a corn and soybean producer. I am glad to be reporting to you again as I sit at my desk awaiting the upcoming rain. Nearly 90 percent of the corn has been planted in my immediate area, but very few beans. Early April was a very busy time, as it was for many of you across the state. Dry fertilizer applications, anhydrous ammonia application (for those who could get the anhydrous), sprayers, planters, fall tillage, and field cultivators were all working simultaneously. The last two weeks have been very slow due to several weather systems bringing 2 to 4 inches of rain to Western Illinois. It is still looking like a great beginning so far. Ken Reinhardt, Seaton, Mercer County: It’s finally fit to plant again after the 3 or more inches of rain April 23-25. Well, it is unless the ground is in the Pope or Edwards river bottoms, where there was extensive flooding. Corn planting began around April 12 and is finishing up, and bean planting is getting a good start. Early stands of corn look good. I planted corn and beans Friday, and it would be nice to miss more heavy rains possible over the weekend. Ron Moore, Roseville, Warren County: Greetings from Western Illinois. What a different spring than the last two. Late March and early April were dry and warm here. We were able to finish fieldwork and apply anhydrous ammonia in early April and started planting corn on April 12. After the last two years of late planting, once we started, we did not stop until we finished on April 20. We decided to wait to plant soybeans until it rained, and we received 2.3 inches on April 24 and 25. We started planting soybeans on April 29. The corn that emerged is still a pale yellow color, but I expect that to change as the corn roots reach fertilizer. There was rain forecast for over the weekend. Jacob Streitmatter, Princeville, Peoria County: I grow corn and soybeans in Peoria and Marshall counties. Spring arrived earlier this year than last year. We started fieldwork the last week of March and have been running hard since then. I should have all my corn planted by the time you read this, unless it rains. This spring seems to be starting out better than last year. I was fortunate to get my corn harvested in January and with any luck, I will get all my corn planted by the first of May. The majority of the corn is planted in our area. We received around 2 inches of rain last weekend (April 17-18). The rain helped pop the corn out of the ground that was planted the previous week. Have a safe spring. Tim Green, Wyoming, Stark County: We farm in Stark/Marshall County, mostly in Stark. We grow corn and soybeans near a bunch of ethanol plants. What a difference a year makes. Still feeling the effects of 2009. Our spring was off to a very fast start. We got corn completed on the April 22. A year ago we started May 11 and got rained out for another week after that. Corn that’s in is looking pretty decent. The weather has been warm. I would say this area is probably 80-85 percent planted in corn with some beans planted. A lot of fall tillage did not get done, so there was a lot of spring tillage. Mother Nature seemed to cooperate and let us get that done on time. We got the anhydrous supplied and the tillage done that we didn’t get done last fall. We had 1.7 inches of rain last weekend (April 17-18), which really made us average farmers really good farmers, because now all the corn will come up even!

Mark Kerber, Chatsworth, Livingston County: Welcome to Cropwatchers again. Let’s take a look at what is going on around the State of Illinois. After the difficult year to farm finally ended, we started this spring a little more normal. Good weather has given us a chance to plant our corn in April. It also has given farmers dry weather to get last year’s ruts and fields prepared for a seed bed this spring. Some call it rut management. Most of the corn is planted by now and some of us have started soybeans. As we filled the planter last week, strong winds made it difficult and tiring. One also had to worry about heavy rains in the weekend forecast. We lucked out a week ago and received a slow 0.9 of an inch, two-day rain. I have been driving around, watching the corn come out of the ground, and admiring the good stands. Markets have come up some, maybe winter lows are in. Ron Haase, Gilman, Iroquois County: When I last made a report, we only had 33 percent of the harvest done. We finished harvesting all but one acre on Jan. 11. The last acre we harvested at the end of March when the snowdrift had melted. After a late harvest, we followed that up with an early planting season. We have 89 percent of crops planted. We hoped to finish the rest of the planting Friday after I filed this report. We are all corn again this year. Last year by comparison, we had 6 percent of our crop planted at this time with nothing emerged. The first three cornfields that we planted this year have emerged. Many neighbors are done planting corn and have started to plant their soybean fields in the last couple of days. Wednesday was the only day fit to apply herbicide. We covered one third of our acres in that day alone. Now the sprayer sits with all the strong winds. I did lose one document from my tractor cab yesterday due to the 30 mph winds. I didn’t notice it until I wanted to use it. The local closing prices for April 29: nearby corn, $3.39; new-crop corn, $3.46; nearby soybeans, $9.74; new-crop soybeans, $9.29. Brian Schaumburg, Chenoa, McLean County: Northern McLean County corn planting is 90 percent complete and 15 percent of the beans are in the ground. Planting began on April 10 and 12 with 166 growing degree units accumulated. Sustained high winds caused blowing dust and dry topsoil. Subsoil is fully charged. Corn is off to an excellent start with solid stands and emergence. No insect pressure as yet. I appreciate the kind words from readers and hope to meet your expectations this year. Cash bids at Prairie Central Co-op: corn, $3.45; fall corn, $3.42; soybeans, $9.63; fall soybeans, $9.28; wheat, $4.05. Todd Easton, Charleston, Coles County: What a difference a year makes and after 2009 that can only be a positive note. Things are looking really good across Coles County so far. Corn planting for the most part started around Easter weekend and progressed rapidly to about 95 percent completed ahead of the gentle 1.5 inches of rain we received over last weekend (April 24-25). About half of the planted corn just entered the early V1 Stage, and stands are looking exceptionally good. With the way most fields went from muddy to ideal planting soils in just a few days, many acres missed the usual pre-plant anhydrous applications and will depend on sidedress applications this year. Most producers held off on soybean planting, but a few early birds put some out ahead of the rain. But with the rainfall being scattered and slow, it looks like they should be OK and probably be up before long. As of Thursday, fields were still too wet to work, with the exception of some spraying where the winds were not too gusty. If the weekend forecast pans out, we may get an extended break. After reviewing grandpa’s journal from last year, I learned no two years are the same. Best wishes to all in this new season, and please always remember safety first!

Page 7 Monday, May 3, 2010 FarmWeek

CROPWATCHERS Steve Ayers, Champaign, Champaign County: Wow, what a planting season, and such a difference from the past two springs! Planters began rolling around April 8 and did not stop until last weekend’s (April 24-25) rains. Amounts varied from 0.75 to 1.25 inches, and we needed it. The old saying around here is “it rains five minutes before it’s too late” and we were on the countdown. Some producers stopped planting corn due to dry soil, while others had the spring anhydrous dilemma of when to plant. With a record 73 percent of Illinois corn planted, our crop reporting district is at 80 percent with 6 percent emerged and planters are rolling now. Soybeans are 4 percent planted so far. Rain is in the forecast for the weekend into today. Frost early Wednesday didn’t seem to affect corn. Winds Thursday were clocked at more than 60 mph, but I did not see any dust blowing. Wilfred Dittmer, Quincy, Adams County: Welcome back as we start another planting season and reporting session. Seems like we just hung up the phones and turned off the computers from last year. So here we are with clear skies Friday morning, but it will be short-lived as the clouds are moving in, along with a rainy weekend forecast. My gauge collected only 0.9 of an inch of rain for the month of March and 3.8 inches so far for April. Several planters were rolling the first week of April and more the second week. Some have parked their planters already. I’m guesstimating that probably close to 70 percent of corn is in the ground. Even though soil temperatures were in the 50s, corn emergence has been slow. Have a safe week as man is no match for machinery. *Carrie Winkelmann, Menard County: The 1.1 inches of rain we received since we finished planting corn on April 22 greatly aided the majority of the corn to excellent emergence with the rest spiking through as I write this. One day of spraying down, many more to go. No beans in the ground on our farm, but some in the area have started. We emptied all of the storage on our farm over the last couple of weeks. Grain condition was good (no damage) with corn averaging 17.2 percent moisture and beans averaging 13 percent. Total rainfall for the month of April as of Friday was 2.3 inches. Carrie Winkelmann is agricultural literacy coordinator with the Sangamon-Menard Agricultural Education Partnership. A former ag teacher, she and her husband operate a corn and soybean farm near Tallula. They also raise pumpkins and specialty corns, and have “a very large vegetable garden.” Tom Ritter, Blue Mound, Macon County: The vast majority of the corn, more than 80 percent, was planted the week of April 11 to 17. Still 10 to 20 percent of the corn left to be planted, but most farmers quit after April 17 due to lack of moisture, which was remedied by the weekend of April 24-25 when we received a couple of inches followed by 0.5 to 1 inch in southern Macon County on April 27. Not a lot of field activity last week. We started to dry out late last week, but wind hampered any spraying efforts. Very little, less than 5 percent, of soybeans have been planted at this date, but most farmers will be going this week if weather permits. Overall, corn is off to a good start at two to three leaf height at this point, or just emerging depending on the planting date. It’s a far cry from last year when corn planting finished up in early June. Hopefully, we’re getting back to somewhat normal planting dates for corn and soybeans. Doug Uphoff, Shelbyville, Shelby County: My wife, Sarah, and I have three children, Whitney, Elliot, and Isaac. Two are in college, and my wife is going back to college. I farm with my dad, who is now retired, and we farm mainly in the north central part of the county. We have 100 percent of our corn planted. I would say 97 percent of the county corn is in the ground. The last rainfall event produced 1.7 inches. That varied from 1.5 inches to 3 inches in the county. Reports received Friday morning. Expanded crop and weather information available at

Jimmy Ayers, Rochester, Sangamon County: My wife, Sidney, and I have farmed together for more than 25 years in the Rochester area. We are located at New City. Our farm ranges 10 miles either side of the New City area. We are raising somewhere around 600 acres of corn and 300 acres of beans. We custom farm about another 400 acres for some neighboring farmers. We also produce a few cows and a little bit of wheat. We are involved in a small trucking company that runs mainly in Illinois. I am also involved in the electric co-op industry. As for the crops in our area, the corn pretty well has been planted. We are at 75 percent done with some river bottom stuff left. A lot of farmers have been done since early April. Most of the corn is just spiking through. The stands seem to be pretty good. Two and a half inches of rain the last week or so made some wet spots. There probably will be some drowned out corn after we had a dry spell for about three weeks. I know a farmer who is done with his beans, but very few have actually started planting beans. Welcome to the cropping season for 2010 and hope everybody is getting along great. David Schaal, St. Peter, Fayette County: Greetings from southeastern Fayette County. As of right now, things appear to be a whole lot better than last year when all that was talked about the first few weeks was rain. A boat load of corn was stuck in the ground from April 16 to 23. There are some soybeans planted in the county, but none in the immediate area. I have heard of some cutworm activity in the northern part of the county. That corn was planted the early part of April. Not a lot of wheat sown around here, but what is sown doesn’t look like a high-yielding crop. Anhydrous ammonia and DAP supplies got tight when everybody was going hot and heavy. It was a matter of waiting on transports to deliver, fill wagons, and go again. Everybody have a safe week and the rest of the planting season. Ted Kuebrich, Jerseyville, Jersey County: This spring started out wet in March, and it looked like we were going to have another wet spring. April started out warmer than normal and it stopped raining so the ground dried out and warmed up. With the late, wet fall last year most farmers were unable to get their nitrogen on. The “lucky” farmers were able to start planting the first week of April, while the rest were applying nitrogen. Farmers applied more nitrogen than their suppliers could provide, which caused some down time. Most of the corn in Jersey County is in the ground and waiting for some warm, dry weather. Farmers in Jersey County were rained out for the past 10 days. The amount of rain in the past 10 days ranged from 2.5 inches in the western part of the county to about 1.5 inches around Jerseyville. Prices at Jersey County Grain, Hardin: April 2010 corn, $3.61; harvest delivery 2010 corn, $3.46; April 2010 beans, $9.66; harvest delivery 2010 beans, $9.37; July wheat, $4.41. Dan Meinhart, Montrose, Jasper County: There wasn’t any fieldwork done last week. It rained almost every day, with some areas receiving about 2 inches. Farmers north of I-70 are pretty well done with planting corn. South of I-70, they are anywhere from not started to nearly finished. Those north of I-70 got a week’s head start on the others because they missed out on the heavy rains that occurred three to four weeks ago. Rain was in the forecast for last weekend. Kevin Raber, Browns, Wabash County: A year certainly makes a big difference. Last year at this time, almost no fieldwork was done. In 2010, I would guess 90 percent of corn and even some beans are planted. Some of the earliest corn is probably 3 inches tall. There is not much wheat planted, and what there is doesn’t look real good. We will find out in a couple of months how good it is. I didn’t sow any wheat, and this is the first time in my life I haven’t had any wheat to harvest. I hope everyone has a safe and profitable year.

Rick Corners, Centralia, Jefferson County: Greetings from just down the road from paradise. Hope you can put up with my ramblings for another summer. Talk about every year being different — wow! Probably 90 percent of the corn is planted locally, although it has been very slow to come up with the cold nights. A few beans have been planted, but most are waiting for warmer weather. Bob Biehl, Belleville, St. Clair County: What a difference a year makes. Last year we ended our report a month too early and this year we started them a month too late. Corn planting probably is around 80 percent complete in our area. Many started planting corn around April 12 and before last week’s rain, many were either done or had quit because it was too dry. After about 1.5 inches of rain, many planted a portion of the remaining corn acres late last week. We have two fields that are remaining in the bottom and lie fairly flat that we will wait to plant until after the weekend’s predicted storms. Anhydrous supplies were tight for a couple weeks, especially if all you wanted to do was put on anhydrous. But many farmers had other things to do, such as fieldwork, fertilize, close ditches, or plant. We decided to sidedress some of our level square fields, so we didn’t have to wait on tanks. Corn is slowly emerging. Many fields are taking nine to 12 days before you can row the corn. There were reports of cutworms last week, so we will be watching that. Otherwise, spring is going well so far, and we’ll see how things turn out over the next few months after the earliest planting dates many farmers can ever remember. Dean Shields, Murphysboro, Jackson County: Off to a new year being a Cropwatcher. I enjoy it and hope I can give people some useful information. I farm in Jackson County. About 75 percent of my property is down in the river bottom area right next to the Mississippi River. I have some more ground in the surrounding area in Jackson County. We got off to a real good start down here after having such a bad, long, and muddy harvest. We dried off, got the ground worked, and I’ve actually planted my corn already. There were several other farmers like myself who were done with corn and were waiting for the ground to dry to plant beans. We could have started planting beans, but we end up getting 2 inches of rain. All of the planting has come to a halt in Jackson County for right now. I planted a couple hundred acres of soybeans myself and they are just peeking through the ground. As I said, a good start. The corn that I have planted is up to a couple of inches tall. It is looking pretty good, and the beans are just starting to pop through. The big concern now is they are calling for a bunch of rain over the weekend — anywhere from 1 to 3 inches. Some places could get 4 to 5 inches. I hope we are not going to get ourselves started in that flooding situation again this spring. It’s been a good start with the planting, and I am hoping the weather cooperates with us this year and we can have a pretty decent year for everybody. Ken Taake, Ullin, Pulaski County: Welcome to a new year of Cropwatchers. What a difference a year makes. Corn planting started in earnest on April 12 here in deep Southern Illinois and we had almost two weeks of open weather. Then we had 3 inches of rain on the weekend of April 23. It came pretty fast and furious. There was quite a bit of erosion. A lot of bottoms had water standing on them. It will be interesting to see how the corn did through all of that rain. Since then, there has been no fieldwork done. However, in those two weeks, most of the corn was planted here in Pulaski County. We are down to about 50 acres of corn to plant in some bottoms. A few people planted some soybeans. Most people thought it was a little bit early, and with all the rain predicted, we are trying to hold off a little while. Most of the corn was planted before the rains, so a lot of people are very pleased with the progress they have made so far this year. Hopefully, it will be a good year for everyone.

FarmWeek Page 8 Monday, May 3, 2010

RURAL HEALTH The new health care:

Short-term benefits, long-term access issues? Medicare provisions will offer women an annual “wellness exam” at no cost. U.S. Rep. Phil Hare, a Rock While Illinois will shoulder a Island Democrat, acknowlgreater share of Medicaid costs edges that at roughly 2,000 under new laws, he argued pages, congressional health Medicare eventually “would reformers passed “a complihave gone under if we hadn’t cated piece of legislation.” done some“Is it perfect? thing.” No,” Hare “When admits. But he ‘(Medicare) would seniors start sees consumers have gone under getting their realizing “meaningful” benefits in if we hadn’t done $250 checks this year to the near future, something.’ help them such as required close the coverage for children with pre— U.S. Rep. Phil Hare Medicare doughnut existing condiRock Island Democrat hole and, tions such as dianext year, betes or epilepsy. when the prescription prices And the measure offers they pay are cut in half, I think geographical “portability” of that will show them a lot,” insurance, according to Hare, Hare told FarmWeek. a former union man, a key “Most of the insurance feature for workers forced to companies have agreed already relocate due to recession. to institute the policy of Over the long run, Illinois putting younger people on their Rural Health Association parents’ policy until they’re 26. President Mary Jane Clark “Just because you’re young believes much remains to be doesn’t mean you can’t get sick done to bring health care access into line with projected — if you graduate from college with a high debt load and you new levels of nationwide become ill, you can be bankrupt insurance availability and before you get that first job.” affordability. But Clark, a registered nurse Women’s health care has who presided over last week’s long been a concern in much IRHA annual conference in Effof the state’s southern tier, ingham, noted continuing conand Hare reported new


cerns about rural access to prical access hospitals (CAH), to bolster oral health, diabetes, mary care especially for Medicand so-called “tweener” hospi- cardiac, or increasingly crucial aid patients. tals that don’t mental health care, Clark said. She also is meet CAH “Those people are going to ‘ W e ’ r e r e a l l y criteria for concerned about end up in our emergency providers rooms; they’re going to end up going to have to special increasingly turnMedicare in our prisons,” Clark told look at what provi- reimburseing away FarmWeek. sions are in there ments but prospective “For those patients who Medicare patients and how they’re may lack suffi- need inpatient services, there’s because they are g o i n g t o i m p a c t cient traffic to not a lot. You’re looking at a uncertain over remain viable. waiting list. They’re ending up our rural area.’ adequate reimAt a time in the emergency rooms, with bursement for when Illinois no place to put them. services. “is at a point “As we move forward with — Mary Jane Clark of getting rid She said medthe health care law, we’re really Illinois Rural Health ical “workforce” of critical pro- going to have to look at what Association issues are critical grams,” federal provisions are in there and to handling the health care how they’re going to impact demands of the new system, but reforms included few provisions our rural areas.” warns efforts to train and place new rural providers — an eightyear or more process — likely will be “too late” to handle initial needs. In her own McDonough County, the departure of primary care providers has left a yet-unfilled local gap, and While Main Street providers and patients continue to while she has “great insurstruggle with special challenges, a U.S. Health and Human ance,” Clark currently is withServices (HHS) senior health policy adviser maintains “right out a family doctor “and now, the sun is shining on rural health.” nobody’s taking new patients.” A new rural regimen already was under way well “It’s great that people are before Congress passed health care reform, according to going to have a health care card, Paul Moore, adviser with the HHS’ Health Resources but there isn’t going to be an and Services Administration (HRSA) Office of Rural access point for them,” she said. Health Policy (ORHP). At last week’s Illinois Rural Further, she notes the need Health Association conference, Moore noted “a lot is to assure sustained funding for going on at HHS this year.” rural health clinics, small critiThe president’s fiscal 2010-2011 budgets include a “healthy rural initiative” within HHS, emphasizing access to “quality” care and funding for communities in need of improved services, he told FarmWeek. A larger $36 billion, multi-agency rural health initiative seeks to address issues ranging from nutrition to broadband access. “The budget for our office is looking good; budget for rural health is looking good,” Moore said. “It’s not been enlarged, but it’s not been zeroed out. “There’s lots of interest in rural health and human services in other parts of the government, as well, and there are some exciting new activities going on as a result. It’s time to seize the opportunity. There’s a chance to start on a level playing field and play offense instead of defense.” With last year’s reauthorization and expansion of the federal Child Health Insurance Program, 2.6 million children were signed up for coverage families otherwise might not have afforded. Economic stimulus legislation fed $2 billion into community health centers, $500 million into medical workforce development, and $650 million into prevention-wellness efforts aimed at reducing demand for acute-inpatient care. ORHP is ramping up efforts to develop health information technologies that can extend care in remote areas and medical workforce recruitment and retention to meet future patient demands. It is evaluating a variety of HHS-supported community projects for “outcome and process measures” that might guide improvements across the rural system. HHS maintains six rural health research centers — Moore argues “you can’t do policy without research.” Three regional policy centers review “every regulation that in any way could have anything to do with rural health care.” Ironically, one of the wild cards in HHS’ efforts to improve rural access is the comprehensive, complex new health package now up for administration interpretation and implementation. “We’re still waiting for those (official) talking points,” Moore related. — Martin Ross

‘Sun is shining’ for rural health?

FarmWeek Page 9 Monday, May 3, 2010


Retiring commodity leaders: Biotech key to future BY DANIEL GRANT FarmWeek

Crop production and marketing have come a long way since Lowell Lenschow and Lyle Roberts entered the ag industry. The two got involved in agriculture in 1968 and 1970, respectively, when regular gas was less than 50 cents per gallon, corn and wheat prices were below $2 per bushel, and soybean prices were below $3 per bushel. Roberts, chief executive officer of the Illinois Soybean Association (ISA), and

Lenschow, who managed the Illinois Specialty Growers Association and Illinois Wheat Association, during their careers Lyle Roberts also have seen wheat yields increase about a quarter-bushel per year while soybean yields have increased by a half-bushel per year. The two commodity leaders, who have a combined 82

years experience in the ag industry, recently provided their perspective on the industry as they neared retirement. Lenschow, who farmed in Kane County for 18 years and worked for Illinois Farm Bureau the past 24 years, retired last week. Roberts, who worked as a farm underwriter for Country Companies (now Country Financial), was animal health director for GROWMARK, and managed the IFB export division before leading ISA the past quarter century, will retire

Vet: Don’t trade one set of problems for another BY DAVE MCCLELLAND FarmWeek

The nation’s veterinarians find themselves philosophically right in the middle of the animal care debate, members of the North American Agricultural Journalists were told last week in Washington, D.C. “In some confinement systems, it certainly is true that behaviors that would be considered natural for animals are restrictive,” said Gail Golab of the American Veterinary Medical Association. The association is comprised of 80,000plus veterinarians — about 85 percent of the vets in the U.S. “However, when you move to more extensive systems (such as free range or open pen), you start to have more problems with disease and injury. “We don’t want to move from one extreme system to another extreme system because in the process what we end up doing is exchanging one set of problems for another.” She said veterinarians want to take the production systems being used now and try to make them the best they possibly can be. “It can be as much how you handle the system in terms of improving the welfare of the animal as it is about the system itself,” said Golab, a member of a panel appearing before ag journalists. An example of what prob-

lems can be generated by going from one extreme to another is evident in the case of dealing with unwanted horses. What to do with spent and unwanted horses is a growing concern now that all slaughtering plants in the U.S., including one in DeKalb, have closed their doors. Another panelist, Paul Shapiro, senior director with the Humane Society of the U.S. (HSUS), and a key player in campaigns to alter livestock production practices in California and Arizona, said surveys have shown Americans don’t want horses slaughtered for human consumption. “Americans want horses humanely euthanized,” he said. Therein lies part of the problem, said Sue Wallis of the United Organizations of the Horse. She said since the domestic slaughterhouses have closed, there has been a 400 percent increase in the number of starving horses in the U.S., horses no longer wanted by their owners because they are old or have grown mean or the owners no longer can afford to feed them. Many simply are abandoned at sale barns or in parks, she said. Euthanizing may not be a viable alternative because of the cost. A cat or a dog can be euthanized at a cost of up to

Wild horse adoption in Ewing The Bureau of Land Management will have a wild horse adoption from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Friday and Saturday at the Ewing holding facility at Ewing in Franklin County. Adoptions will be made on a first-come, first-served basis. Yearlings will be available for $125, and animals 2 years and older will be available for $25. This will be the last adoption at the Ewing facility before the animals are removed. Individuals who have adopted previously will attend to talk with visitors. For information about the Wild Horse and Burro Program, go online to {}.

$150, said veterinarian Golab. The cost to euthanize a horse, she said can run up to $1,500 and then the issue of disposing of the carcass remains. Horses shot or felled by a penetrating captive bolt often can be buried or rendered. But horses killed by a selection of “cocktail drugs” may not be permitted to be buried or rendered because of concerns over drug residues, said Wallis. Actions by the HSUS and other animal rights advocates have “cut the horse industry off at the knees,” she said.

in October with exactly 40 years of service. “The biggest change the last 40 years has been technology and what it’s Lowell Lenschow done to all businesses and life in general,” Roberts told FarmWeek. “When I started, there were more small-to-medium-sized farms with a lot of diversity. Now there is a lot of consolidation and people specialize in what they do.” One of the biggest changes for specialty crop growers the past quarter century, according to Lenschow, how they market their produce. “I’ve seen a big shift from a lot of producers selling (fruits and vegetables) wholesale to a lot more producers selling direct via roadside markets and farmers’ markets,” said Lenschow. Looking ahead, both leaders realize farmers must increase their production to feed a growing population. Biotechnology is expected to be the key to that goal. “Looking at the global population, we’re expected to go from 6.25 billion people to 9 billion people by 2050,” Roberts said. “We don’t have a lot of new land to bring into

production. Technology has done wonders for us” and will be a key part of future yield increases and enhanced consumer benefits, he said. ISA this year introduced a yield challenge in Illinois to isolate production methods and other information that could boost soy yields. Meanwhile, biotechnology may be the only answer for some wheat growers to remain competitive. Many conventional wheat varieties currently are sensitive to disease outbreaks that can drastically lower yields and quality. “Those (disease) problems can be mitigated with different biotech traits,” Lenschow said. “The wheat industry needs to move in that direction if it’s going to stay competitive with corn and soybeans.” U.S. wheat acres decreased from 85 million in 1981-82 to just 53.8 million this year while soybean acres nearly doubled from about 43 million acres in 1970 to a projected 78.09 million this year. Elsewhere, the key to maintaining specialty crop production in the U.S. is immigration reform to ensure a viable workforce in the future, Lenschow added. The two leaders plan to stay in Central Illinois upon retirement. Lenschow lives in Eureka and Roberts has a small farm in Hopedale.

FarmWeek Page 10 Monday, May 3, 2010


Brazilian agriculture: same as Illinois yet different BY JULIE ROOT

I’ve been back from Brazil a little more than a week now, and I am still trying to absorb everything I learned. I had the opportunity to go to Brazil as part of a “minitour” led by Phil Corzine, general manager of South American Soy, a global production management and investment company. The trip Julie Root was full of tours to machinery dealerships, a cattle operation, and several different cities. For a couple of days, we watched soybean harvest at South American Soy’s farm, Nova Fronteira, located outside of Araguacu in the state of Tocantins. When it comes to farming in Brazil, there are a number of similarities to farming here in Illinois. But there also are many differences. Did you know Brazil has a

national land reserve? Brazilians can’t farm fence-row-tofence-row as we do in the U.S. At Nova Frontiera, South American Soy has to reserve 35 percent of the land. On top of that, land near creeks or waterways can’t be touched. So basically 48 percent of the land has to remain untouched. It can’t be farmed. Transportation and infrastructure continue to be challenges for farmers in Brazil. When I first arrived, I thought the roads seemed quite good. However, once we got farther away from the bigger cities, my thoughts on the roads quickly changed. We might complain about the gravel roads we have here in rural Illinois, but trust me we really have it good by comparison. The condition of some of the roads is indescribable. Crops have to be hauled by truck hundreds of miles to get to the nearest biodiesel plant or port. So

Workers on South America Soy’s farm near Araguacu, Brazil, unload soybeans into a truck to be transported to the nearest port. The scene could be from Illinois — except the John Deere combine was of a much older vintage, and the combine’s cab was not enclosed. (Photo by Julie Root)

imagine what it would be like driving a semi load of beans while swerving from side to side to dodge pot holes.

One bright side to the transportation system in Brazil is its North-South Railway Project. We toured a construction site near Palmas. This rail platform will consist of the main rail line, loading tracks, and six lots which can be used for loading, storage, and receiving of grain. The rail area near Palmas will be split into three general areas for fuel, grains, and containers and general cargo. It’s estimated that 100 million metric tons will move through the rail site at Palmas.

Some parts of the rail project already have been finished. The project at Palmas is set to be operational by August. If this rail system is finished and expanded across Brazil as planned, it would not only solve some of Brazil’s transportation needs but cut transportation costs down significantly. It will certainly be interesting to see how agriculture has changed in Brazil 10 years from now. Julie Root is RFD Radio’s news manager. Her e-mail address is

Illinois State Fair posts premium books online Premium books for the 2010 Illinois State Fair are now available online at {}. The fair will run Aug. 13 through 22. The books explain the rules, entry deadlines, and prizes for more than 8,700 competitive events. Click on the “Competitions” tab. The premium books are listed in the menu on the left side of the page. Five books have been published, one each for the Livestock and Junior Livestock contests, the Western Horse Show, the Society Horse Show, and general fair competitions. Downloadable entry forms also are posted on the site. They may be completed online, saved, then printed, and mailed. Junior Livestock entries must be submitted to county University of Illinois Extension offices. Because the deadlines vary, exhibitors are advised to contact their local Extension office for the appropriate date for their county. All other livestock entries should be sent to the Illinois State Fair no later than July 1. July 1 also is the entry deadline for both horse shows. For most other fair contests, including the culinary, floriculture, and textiles, the entry deadline is July 15. Print copies of the premium books are available upon request. To receive one, call Durinda Kirby at 217-7820786.

FarmWeek Page 11 Monday, May 3, 2010


Cool weather could slow corn development Focus shifts to beans; The return of seasonably cooler temperaNafziger said much of the early-planted tures last week could slow the development of corn looks good so far. The fast pace to plantcorn planting nears end the corn crop. ing also could encourage some farmers to BY DANIEL GRANT FarmWeek

Many farmers who didn’t start planting corn last year until May this year finished the job in April. To v i e w C r o p w a t c h e r s reports online, go to, click on the ‘News’ menu, and select Cropwatchers

Illinois farmers as of the first of last week had planted 73 percent of the corn crop compared to just 4 percent at the same time last year. The five-year average is 28 percent. A dry, windy stretch of weather last week allowed numerous farmers to put the finishing touches on corn planting prior to predictions of heavy rains for the weekend. Nationwide, a record 50 percent of the corn crop was planted as of the first of last week compared to the average of 22 percent, according to USDA. “What a difference a year makes,” said Tim Green, a FarmWeek Cropwatcher from Stark County. “We got corn (planting) completed on April 22. A year ago we started on May 11.” In fact, corn planting went so well Tim Lenz, a Shelby

County farmer and president of the Illinois Corn Growers Association, believes some farmers may have planted more acres. “A few farmers in my area might plant a little more corn, but most people are wrapping up,” Lenz said last week. “This year, hopefully, we’re setting up for a good crop.” Drier-than-normal spring weather was the main reason farmers were able to complete so much fieldwork in recent weeks, according to But an early start to corn planting doesn’t guarantee a bin-buster crop. “The most important consideration for a good corn crop is the weather leading up to the harvest period,” said Dale Mohler, ag meteorologist. Cold overnight temperatures last week caused many emerged cornfields to turn yellow, but Lenz believes overall stands look pretty good. The focus of many farmers now is on soybeans. “Many producers are nearly finished with corn and beans are going into the ground,” said Leroy Getz, a Cropwatcher from Carroll County. Soybean planting in Illinois as of the first of last week was 5 percent complete compared to the average of 1 percent.

Direction of crop rows may have impact on yields The March-April issue of the journal Weed Science reported the results of four trials of crop orientation conducted from 2002 to 2005 in western Australia. Researchers compared the effects of orienting rows of crops north to south or east to west to allow the crops to increase their exposure to sunlight while decreasing access to light for weeds. Situating the crop rows at a near right angle to the sunlight direction can influence the light interception. Crops can create a canopy over weed plants, giving the weeds more shade than sun, suppressing weed growth, and maximizing crop yield. Grain crops of wheat, barley, canola, field peas, and lupine were sown in both north-to-south and east-to-west orientations in the Australian experiment. Wheat and barley crops experienced significant yield increases when placed east to west rather than north to south — a 24 percent increase for wheat and a 26 percent increase for barley. Weed biomass was reduced by 51 percent and 37 percent, respectively. The remaining three crops, canola, field peas, and lupine, did not show a consistently significant difference between the two orientations. The authors theorize that because these are broadleaf crops and have a wider canopy structure than the cereal crops, the row orientation provides less advantage. Location determines which direction crops should be planted for the best utilization of sunlight. The western Australian wheat belt ranges from 28 degrees to 33 degrees south in latitude with a winter and spring growing season, making east-west crop orientation the most advantageous. Near the equator, north-south orientation would yield the best results, while latitudes up to 55 degrees would benefit from north-south crops in the summer and east-west crops the rest of the year. At latitudes above 65 degrees, east-west orientation would offer the best light absorption throughout the year.

Emerson Nafziger, University of Illinois increase corn acres, he said. Extension crop systems specialist, said it could “The stands I’ve seen so far look good,” he take two said. “One weeks for thing I’ll be some recently watching (is the ‘The return to more normal tempera- temperature planted corn to emerge due tures will slow the process up some.’ pattern this to the shift in month). I’d temperatures. much rather see “The — Emerson Nafziger temperatures in return to the 70s than in U of I crop systems specialist more normal the 50s once the temperatures crop is up and will slow the growing.” process up some,” said Nafziger, who noted Producers with corn to plant should take advanhigh temperatures in the 60s produce just 5 to tage of any opportunities in coming weeks regard10 growing degree days per day. less of their fertilizer situation. There were reports Most corn hybrids grown in Illinois require in recent weeks of some farmers who delayed 2,500 to 2,800 growing degree days to reach planting due to spot shortages of fertilizer. maturity. “I advise farmers to plant when conditions Illinois farmers as of the first of last week are right even if that means finding another way had planted 73 percent of the corn crop comto get their nitrogen on,” said Peter Scharf, Unipared to just 4 percent at the same time a year versity of Missouri Extension soil specialist. ago. High temperatures in recent weeks pushed Options to apply fertilizer include pre-emerinto the 80s, but last week temperatures gence, post-emergence, sidedress, topdress, dropped by as much as 15 to 20 degrees. broadcast, injection, or dribbling, according to “I don’t think replanting will be a big issue,” the soil specialist. Nafziger said. “Most of the crop was planted in “Research suggests that as long as you get warm enough temperatures that it will start the your nitrogen down before corn is three feet germination process.” tall, there is no average yield difference from Corn could be rowed last week in some getting it on before planting,” Scharf said. — fields in far Northern Illinois. Daniel Grant

FarmWeek Page 12 Monday, May 3, 2010


GrassRoots Issue Teams study challenges, issues BY KAY SHIPMAN FarmWeek

Illinois Farm Bureau GrassRoots Issue Teams (GRITs) recently completed their work and developed their recommendations for consideration by the Illinois Farm Bureau board. Some of their recommendations also will be forwarded to the 2010-2011 Farm Policy Task Force and the 2010 Resolutions Committee (RC) for their consideration.

The eight teams provide members the opportunity to address emerging policy issues. One focus of the Crop Production and Trade Team was federal policy related to the environment and potential incentives for farmers. The Renewable Resources and Energy Team was interested in the federal biomass crop program and its future. The Risk Management and Farm Programs Team encour-

aged research of different types of farm program payments. The Rural Life Team surfaced several issues for possible consideration by a Rural Development subcommittee of the Farm Policy Task Force.

The Equine Team developed ideas to gain support for an equine census and planned for an upcoming Equine Issues Forum. The Livestock and Dairy Team forwarded several ideas for consideration to the RC, including policy related to animal health and identification. The RC also will receive ideas for consideration from the Specialty Crops and Labor Team, which focused on federal and state unem-

ployment insurance laws. Meanwhile, the Conservation and Natural Resources Team forwarded ideas about soil nitrogen research and state conservation incentive programs for consideration by the RC. The application process for the 2011 teams will begin in June. To learn how you can be a part of the process and help guide your industry, contact your county Farm Bureau.

ICGA president: China corn purchase a good sign BY DANIEL GRANT FarmWeek

Tim Lenz, president of the Illinois Corn Growers Association and a Shelby County farmer, believes the export market could play an important role this year when it comes to corn prices. U.S. farmers last year harvested a record-large 13.1-billion-bushel corn crop and could be on pace

this season to challenge that record — some analysts believe corn plant ings this year could reach or surpass 90 million Tim Lenz acres. “We’ve got a big crop coming,” Lenz said last week. “We need somewhere

to go with it. We’re going to need to export more corn.” U.S. corn growers last week were encouraged when China, often a net exporter of corn and a competitor of the U.S., turned the tables and imported 4.5 million bushels of U.S. corn. China’s agricultural output, though growing, is being outpaced by demand,

‘We feels it’s great. The only caution is (China in the past) has used the GMO issue as a trade barrier.’ — Tim Lenz Illinois Corn Growers Association president

according to the U.S. Grains Council (USGC). China also reportedly had production issues with corn harvest last year and plant ing this year, which may have led to the decision to import U.S. corn. “As China’s demand continues to increase, along with its economic growth and urbanization, China is likely to rely more heavily on imports as a way to maintain critical supply and demand balances,” said Mike Callahan, USGC senior director for international operations. USGC sources last week suggested six additional cargoes of U.S. corn, totaling between 9.8 million and 11.8 million bushels, also may have been China-bound.

“We feel it’s great,” Lenz said of China’s renewed interest in U.S. corn. “The only caution is (China in the past) has used the GMO issue as a trade barrier.” Lenz also noted that potential gains in the export market intensify the need to upgrade the U.S. transportation system, particularly locks and dams on the Illinois and Mississippi Rivers. USDA last month projected U.S. soybean expor ts this year could total a record-high 1.445 billion bushels, which would be a 13 percent increase from a year ag o. U.S. cor n expor ts for the year were projected to total 1.9 billion bushels.



ASALLE — Farm Bureau will sponsor a bus trip June 29 to see the Chicago Cubs vs. Pittsburgh Pirates game. Cost is $65 for members and $70 for nonmembers if paid before June 1. After June 1, the cost will be $70 and $75, respectively. Tickets are on a first-come, first-served basis. Call the Farm Bureau office at 815433-0371 for reservations or more information. EORIA — Farm Bureau will sponsor a stroke detection plus health screening from 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Wednesday, May 19, at the Farm Bureau auditorium. Members will receive a $35 discount for all four screenings. Call 877-


732-8258 for an appointment or more information. ARREN-HENDERSON — Farm Bureau and Country Financial will sponsor a defensive driving course from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Wednesday and Thursday, May 19-20, at the Farm Bureau office. Lunch will be served. Cost is $10 for members and $20 for non-members. Call the Farm Bureau office at 309-734-9401 or 309924-1151 for reservations or more information.


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

FarmWeek Page 13 Monday, May 3, 2010


IAA Foundation names 2010-2011 scholarship winners The IAA Foundation has awarded scholarships for the 2010-2011 school year to 55 college students based on their academic ability, financial need, leadership, and career goals. Through contributors, funds set up to honor loved ones, and leaders committed to agriculture, $72,900 will be invested through tuition assistance for the upcoming school year. “It is an honor to maintain scholarship funds in the memory of past leaders and significant contributors to Illinois agriculture,” said Illinois Farm Bureau President Philip Nelson, who also chairs the IAA Foundation Board of Trustees. “I am confident that this great group of young leaders will leave their mark as an integral part of our state’s No. 1 industry as educators, producers, scientists, mechanical engineers, and future agricultural leaders,” Nelson said. Susan Moore, IAA Foundation director, said, “Each year we see more and more applicants and the highest caliber of students. We are so pleased to be able to help support these students’ education while also supporting the future of the agriculture industry, rural communities, and farm families.” Students receiving IAA Foundation general scholarships worth $1,000 and their current or planned majors are: Kelsey Graber, Heyworth, daughter of John and Julie Graber, Southern Illinois University-Carbondale (SIUC), agribusiness economics. Brittany Hosselton, Clay City, daughter of Scott and Lori Hosselton, University of Illinois, agriculture education. Laura Child, Amboy, daughter of Jim and Billie Child, U of I, animal science. Receiving the $1,000 IAA Foundation general scholarship in the name of Fletcher A. Gourley is Erin Salz, Tonica, daughter of Jon and Jolene Salz, Illinois Valley Community College, pre-vet/animal science. Receiving the $1,000 IAA Foundation general scholarship in the name of Leonard Southwell is Kristin DeSutter, Woodhull, daughter of Randy and Susie DeSutter, U of I, agriculture communications. Receiving the $1,100 IAA Foundation general scholarship in the name of Robert F. Rouse is Jessica Collins, Flanagan, daughter of Gary and Brenda Collins, U of I, ag education. Receiving a $1,000 William J. Kuhfuss Memorial scholarship is Derrick Nelson, Mt. Morris, son of Rick and Michelle Nelson, U of I, crop and soil sciences/management. Receiving a $1,500 Greg Carney scholarship is Amy Schaufelberger, Greenville, daughter of Boyd and Sandra Schaufelberger, U of I, agriculture communications. Receiving a $1,000 Dale E. Butz scholarship is Jeffrey Barnes,

Leland, son of James and Danette Barnes, Joliet Junior College, ag economics/agribusiness. Receiving a $1,100 Robert Rouse scholarship is Emily Jehl, Lake Zurich, daughter of James and Mary Jehl, U of I, human nutrition and dietetics. Receiving the $1,200 Walter and Martha Wills scholarship is Jason Barker, Shelbyville, son of Jane E. Barker, SIUC, agriculture production. The $1,000 Case-New Holland scholarship was awarded to Kent Wagenbach, Princeville, son of Kevin and Sara Wagenbach, Illinois Central College, ag mech/systems management. The recipient of the $1,000 Heartland NAMA, Steven Hammerschmidt scholarship is Brad Pilcher, Paxton, son of Michael and Mary Jo Pilcher, U of I, agriculture sales and management. Those who will receive a $1,200 Dorothy and Wilhelmine Ratermann scholarship are: Caroline Bremer, Metropolis, daughter of Jeff and Lisa Bremer, Oklahoma State University, economics. Rosemary Chapple, Fults, daughter of Richard and Carey Chapple, U of I, aerospace engineering. LeAnn Hall, Moweaqua, daughter of Darrell and Melanie Hall, Purdue University, veterinary medicine. Ross Recker, Venedy, son of Ronald and Glenda Recker, U of I, crop and soil science. Ashley Kloth, Ellis Grove, daughter of Joyce Kloth, U of I, animal science/production. Casey Braddock, Patoka, daughter of Harry and Angie Braddock, SIUC, agriculture education. Emily Tanner, Stonefort, daughter of Brian and Tempa Tanner, St. Louis College of Pharmacy, pharmacy. Kaitlin Weitekamp, Raymond, daughter of Lawrence and Nancy Weitekamp, U of I, crop science. Rebecca Kallal, Chesterfield, daughter of Dan and Marilyn Kallal, Purdue University, engineering. Cassie Becker, Carlyle, daughter of Steve and Amy Becker, U of I, ag communications and public relations. Kari Weis, Highland, daughter of Richard and Margaret Weis, University of Missouri-Columbia, ag journalism. Jill Vogt, Neoga, daughter of Clarence Vogt and Martha Vogt, Eastern Illinois University (EIU), speech pathology. Julia Wendling, Louisville, daughter of Don and Kathy Wendling, U of I, early childhood education. Rebecca Hurst, Dorsey, daughter of Richard and Dianna Hurst, U of I, crop and soil science/management. David Marburger, Mount Olive, son of Edward and Christina Marburger, U of I, crop and soil science/management. Jennifer Hoene, Sigel, daughter of Joseph and Jeanne Hoene, SIUC or SIU Edwardsville, radiology. Dustin Probst, Stewardson, son of Kurt and Karla Probst, SIU School of Law, ag law. Christopher Waddell, Taylorville, son of Kenneth and Linda Waddell, U of I, crop and soil science. Samuel Martin, Carterville, son of Steven Martin and Margaret Rehagen, undecided, oceanography/environmental science.

Ashley Kennedy, Carlyle, daughter of Gary and Cheryl Kennedy, Western Illinois University, forensic chemistry. Jessa Becker, Carlyle, daughter of Steve and Amy Becker, Purdue University graduate school, ag economics. Michael Varel, Troy, son of Joe and Sharon Varel, U of I, chemical engineering. Marlene Walker, Windsor, daughter of Dale and Lois Walker, SIUC, agriculture education. Mary Becker, Carlyle, daughter of Steve and Amy Becker, Illinois State University or U of I, secondary math education. Kelcie Woker, Greenville, daughter of Craig and Jan Woker, U of I, ag communications/public relations. Receiving the Dorothy and Wilhelmine Rattermann $1,000 scholarship are: Katie Hatfield, Wayne City, daughter of Richard and Paula Hatfield, Murray State University, animal science/production. Hope Nottmeyer, Hoffman, daughter of Dennis and Deb Nottmeyer, EIU, English. Dana Coles, Ellery, daughter of David and Joy Coles, SIUC, agribusiness economics. Nicholas Anderson, Edwardsville, son of Barb and Keith Anderson, undecided, finance/accounting. Jonathan Robinson, Mulkeytown, son of Laura and Jonathan Robinson, SIUC, environmental studies.

Recipients of the Fletcher A. Gourley, Leonard Southwell, and Roger Capps Memorial scholarships, awarded to children of employees of Prairie Farms Dairy in the amount of $2,000 each are: Laurey Lehman, Versailles, Mo., daughter of Stephen and Tamra Lehman, Hannibal-LaGrange College, vocal music education. Daniel Delaney, Carlinville, son of Joseph and Mary Lou Delaney, undecided, psychology. Emily Bouchard, Owensboro, Ky., daughter of Michael and Amy Bouchard, Western Kentucky University, exercise science. Megan Phillips, Somerset, Ky., daughter Roger and Becky Phillips, University of Kentucky, ag biotechnology. Amanda Nicholson, Kane, daughter of Matthew and Barbara Nicholson, Lewis and Clark Community College, elementary education. Randy Moore Jr., Broseley, Mo., son of Randy and Tammy Moore, Linn State Technical College, electrical distribution systems. Recipients of the Fletcher A. Gourley, Leonard Southwell, and Roger Capps Memorial scholarships, awarded to children of patrons of Prairie Farms Dairy in the amount of $2,000 each are: Katrina Kaeb, Cissna Park, daughter of Eric and Lou Ann Kaeb, EIU, pychology/family and marriage counselor. Jenny Eichhorn, Altenburg, Mo., daughter of John and Reva Eichhorn, undecided, nurs-

ing/nurse practitioner. Carrie Schumacher, Breese, daughter of Martin and Karen Schumacher, McKendree University, biology. David Mackinson, Pontiac, son Don and Rita Mackinson, Georgetown University graduate school, economics. Allison Meinhart, Wheeler, daughter of Richard and Nancy Meinhart, Maryville University, physical therapy. Elizabeth Krill, Edgerton, Ohio, daughter of Joe and Rosey Krill, Ohio State University, engineering.

Since 1989, the IAA Foundation has awarded 541 scholarships. Applications for 20112012 will be available in December. Specific details and eligibility requirements are online at {}. The mission of the IAA Foundation, IFB’s charitable foundation, is to fund education, research, and charitable activities that benefit Illinois farm families and agriculture. Learn more about the IAA Foundation and the efforts it supports online at {}. Individuals interested in contributing to the scholarship program may call the Foundation office at 309-557-2230.

FarmWeek Page 14 Monday, May 3, 2010


Fertilizer markets: half Dr. Jekyll, half Mr. Hyde BY JOE DILLIER

Like the famous doctor and his just-as-famous alter-ego, there have been two main, competing “influencers” shaping spring fertilizer markets. “Dr. Jekyll influencers” have been centered on Joe Dillier the fundamental outlook for supply and demand. A major factor here has been the strong outlook for corn acreage this spring, which was expected to drive strong Midwest demand for fertilizer.

Also prominent was the big deficit in application from last fall. Because of the wet, delayed fall harvest, anhydrous ammonia applications were only about 50 percent of normal in Illinois last fall. All of this meant that there was likely to be a lot (really a lot) of demand that would be forced into a small spring season “window” and that spring had lots of potential for supply and logistical “issues.” Some of those issues have surfaced this spring. Then there has been the Mr. Hyde side of the fertilizer market. This side was driven by fear (some might say terror) that fertilizer prices would fall

pre-spring, and that any supplies not forward-sold to a farmer-customer would generate an inventory write-down and financial loss. After the huge losses incurred by the fertilizer price implosion of last year, the potential for more inventory write-downs this year simply was not acceptable to many (nor to their bankers). This situation caused many to be very cautious, positioning minimal supplies. Farmers were cautious; retailers were, too. Most had some, and some had “normal” inventory amounts (I’d put GROWMARK/FS in this category)

but overall it looked like inventories would be tight if demand was as expected, per Dr. Jekyll’s fundamental assessment. In March, because of wetweather delays around the country, it looked like Mr. Hyde may have been the “smart money.” By mid-April, though, Dr. Jekyll and his assessments were quickly being borne out. To this point, movement has been fast, furious, and several outages have occurred at terminals, and reportedly at some retailers. So after this, the question likely will be coming up more and more in the weeks ahead: “How do I better

secure supply?” It’s not a new concept, but you need to seriously look at doing more forward-contracting of supply, and potentially managing the associated price risk via selling grain forward. The reality is that fertilizer price volatility and a long supply chain are going to be a feature of the fertilizer market for the foreseeable future. As such, forward-contracting is likely to be increasingly used as a future “risk management/supply tool” for fertilizer retailers. Joe Dillier is GROWMARK‘s director, plant food. His e-mail address is

2009 Illinois farm returns dip below five-year average Final farm return averages in the state released recently by the University of Illinois confirmed 2009 was a tough year for farmers. The average return to an operator’s labor and management income last year was $44,551, based on Illinois Farm Business Farm Management (FBFM) Association records of 2,624 farms statewide. Labor and management income is what remains from an operator’s net farm income (see graphic) after a fair return to the operator’s equity in machinery and land has been subtracted. Labor and management

incomes varied greatly in the past five years from a low of $38,787 in 2005 to a high of

‘Net farm income for 2009 is down significantly.’ — Gary Schnitkey Farm management specialist

$175,558 in 2008. The 2009 average return was $56,093 below the five-year average.


Feeder pig prices reported to USDA*

Weight 10 lbs. 40 lbs. 50 lbs. Receipts

Range Per Head Weighted Ave. Price $35.10-$50.00 $40.46 n/a n/a n/a n/a This Week Last Week 15,858 27,863 *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 $83.80 $79.87 $62.01 $59.10

Change 3.93 2.91

USDA five-state area slaughter cattle price Steers Heifers

This week $98.15 $98.30

(Thursday’s price) Prv. week Change $99.10 -0.95 $99.30 -1.00

CME feeder cattle index — 600-800 Lbs. This is a composite price of feeder cattle transactions in 27 states. (Prices $ per hundredweight) This week Prev. week Change 113.53 112.39 1.14

Lamb prices Confirmed lamb and sheep sales This week 1026 Last week 692 Last year 438 Wooled Slaughter Lambs: Choice and prime 2-3: 90-110 lb., $112. Good and choice 1-2: 60-90 lbs., $135. Slaughter Ewes: Utility and good 1-3: $43-$45. Cull and utility 1-2: $32-$36.

Export inspections (Million bushels)

Week ending Soybeans Wheat Corn 04-22-10 8.0 9.8 32.8 04-15-10 16.4 17.9 39.3 Last year 8.3 13.6 34.3 Season total 1293.9 755.7 1121.7 Previous season total 1002.4 910.0 1079.0 USDA projected total 1420 825 1900 Crop marketing year began June 1 for wheat and Sept. 1 for corn and soybeans.

“Net farm income for 2009 is down significantly compared to recent years,” said Gary Schnitkey, U of I Extension farm management specialist. The main reasons for the dip in farm returns last year were lower corn yields and higher input and drying costs. Average corn yields last year on the farms tracked by FBFM decreased by 12 bushels per acre compared to 2008 while soybean yields dipped by one bushel. Meanwhile, crop costs averaged $230.77 per acre last year compared to $183.17 per acre in 2008. Fertilizer and seed prices jumped 31 percent, and pesticide prices increased by 7 percent. Drying costs averaged $22.10 per acre in 2009 compared to $14.16 in 2008 and $6.03 in 2007. Some input costs have eased this year, but Schnitkey believes they will continue to challenge farmers. “Input prices have come down quite a bit, but they’re still high by historical standards,” he said. Wages by farm type last year were highest on grain farms ($52,733) and negative $36,441 on beef farms, negative $47,369 on dairy farms, and negative $85,657 on hog farms. USDA earlier this year projected U.S. livestock receipts would increase by $11.5 billion in 2010 due to higher prices triggered in part by smaller herds. Meanwhile, Schnitkey believes Illinois grain farmers this year could be looking at returns similar to last year. “They could be at 2009 levels or lower, depending on what happens with commodity prices,” he said. The full report on average farm returns and costs is available online at {}.

Milk price heads higher The Class III price for milk adjusted to 3.5 percent butterfat for the month of April was $12.92 per hundredweight. This is a 14-cent increase from the previous month. Producers are encouraged to see higher prices even as milk production edges higher. The near-perfect spring weather has allowed for tremendous progress planting as well as comfort for cows.

FarmWeek Page 15 Monday, May 3, 2010



China corn buy shocks market After a couple months of rumors, China bought two cargoes of corn the last week of April. There’s talk it may have bought another four to six cargoes, lifting the total sales to 230,000 to 350,000 metric tons (9.8 million to 13.6 million bushels). The unanswered question: Is this the beginning of a larger import program? Domestic Chinese prices were running at 100 yuan per ton premium to imported prices this winter, equivalent to 37 cents per bushel. Recently, that premium had dropped to 30 yuan, or 12 cents per bushel. The corn rally even eliminated that. The government has been selling corn from its reserves, with sales totaling a little more than 3 million metric tons. It plans to offer another 1.38 million tons this coming week. Some believe the Chinese government owns only 10 million metric tons of corn, but by our calculations, its owner-

Basis charts

ship should be somewhere near 20 million. At the end of 2008, the government purchased 35 million to 37 million metric tons of corn to soften the impact the economic collapse would have on Chinese farmers. Late last summer, the government released 10 million tons back into the market to relieve tightness at the end of the old-crop marketing year. That should leave something near 20 million metric tons after the recent sales. There’s still some dispute over the size of last year’s crop. USDA is using 155 million metric tons, a number still below the official Chinese estimate. Some analysts still think the crop is under 150 million metric tons, but at this late date, we’d doubt USDA is that far off. Chinese quarantine rules for importing GMO products put in place last year may be playing a part as well. No corn has been imported since. With cool, wet conditions in China getting planting off to a slow start this year, feed producers might be sensing the possibility of needing to import significant quantities of corn next year. They may be making some small imports now to understand the mechanics of the quarantine rules so they will be prepared in the event larger imports are needed. From our perspective, it looks like they have generally adequate inventories to get them to new-crop supplies. If there is potential for significant imports, it might be next year, and that possibility is tied to the size of the crop Chinese farmers will raise this year. But with China, nothing is ever certain. AgriVisor endorses crop insurance by

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Cents per bu.

2009 crop: The recent rally in corn may have altered the short-term pattern slightly, but we are still inclined to think the larger trend is still lower. Cycle counts point to the 40-week cycle bottoming in June. Sales were boosted to 90 percent when July futures hit $3.70. You should have completed sales last week; if not, use rallies to do so. 2010 crop: Use strength to get sales up to 40 percent if you haven’t already done so. Even though we expect a lower trend into early summer, we expect to see one or two opportunities to add to sales during the summer. Fundamentals: The Chinese corn purchases (see main article) triggered the steep rally in corn prices. A few more sales may yet occur, but we don’t expect enough to alter the abundant old-crop supply situation. And the rapid pace of new-crop plantings tilts the balance toward good yield potential and another big crop this year.

Soybean Strategy 2009 crop: Use rallies to wrap up old-crop sales. Both export sales and shipments have fallen enough to suggest USDA may not need to raise its export forecast. The premium that old-crop prices have to new crop will start to erode unless something impacts production potential. 2010 crop: Use rallies for catch-up sales. We intend to get up to 50 percent of the crop sold before harvest. But we prefer waiting to see how crop potential develops before adding another increment. Fundamentals: The fast pace of corn planting may cause some acres to be shifted from soybeans to corn, especially with the Chinese corn buying news. However, fast corn planting will allow soybeans to be planted ahead of schedule as well, weather permitting. That will help ensure good yields for this year’s crop. If prices fall later this year, soybean plantings may not increase in Brazil and actually

could slide. And some think Argentine acres will decline.

Wheat Strategy 2009 crop: Chicago July futures recently breached resistance at $4.97-$5 but lacked the momentum to close above that level. But if they could close above $5, it would open the door for a test of $5.20. Rallies may be limited by the downward drag of the 40-week cycle and seasonal tendency for prices to weaken into harvest. If you still have old-crop inventories, complete sales now. 2010 crop: If Chicago

July futures can reach $5.20, price another 15 percent, bringing the total to 40 percent complete. If you price your wheat at harvest, get those sales up to 50 percent now. Use rallies for making catch- up sales. Fundamentals: Fundamentals for wheat have not changed much. U.S. wheat still is overpriced compared to the rest of the world. If prices are to continue to move up in the short term, they’ll need support from outside markets. The trade will be watching the Kansas wheat tour this week, but everyone already expects good yield potential.

FarmWeek Page 16 Monday, May 3, 2010


ACTIVE & ENGAGED Farmers must share their concerns in the halls of legislative power As a producer and a citizen, what are my responsibilities to my industry and my country? These were questions I asked myself recently as I looked up at the paintings lining the U.S. Capitol Rotunda. A group of Farm Bureau leaders had just finished a whirlwind of attending meetings and lobbying members of Congress, followed by a tour of the Capitol arranged by Congressman Aaron Schock. It was the perfect ending to my Leaders to Washington trip. MIKE MARRON Standing in the halls once roamed by such men as James Madison, John Quincy Adams, and Henry Clay, I thought about my experiences of the last several days and how they pertained to my duties as an American farmer. We, as producers, face some of the most dynamic challenges in the history of agriculture. American farmers face an invigorated Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) trying to increase environmental regulation exponentially and deep-pocketed nongovernmental organizations, such as People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals and the Humane Society of the United States, that are determined to end animal production. We also face funding cuts for crop insurance and other important programs, unresolved free trade agreements, and a dilapidated infrastructure that we rely on to get our products to market. These challenges are real and present. They are one reason why IFB’s Leaders to Washington trip is so important. The Leaders to Washington program ‘Good repre- gives individual Farm sentative gov- Bureau members an ernment is opportunity to take message directly only possible their to our elected leaders when the elec- in Washington, D.C. torate is active In these turbulent that is a critiand engaged. ’ times, cally important task. During our three days in Washington, we visited with Sen. Richard Durbin, congressmen, and House Agriculture Committee and USDA staff members. We discussed several issues. No. 1 was the EPA. Producers face an immense number of new regulations coming from the EPA. EPA has promised to implement a cap-andtrade system against the will of Congress. It has issued a zero-tolerance rule for spray drift, which could result in devastating liability issues for farmers. EPA has threatened regulation on all waters, including small ponds and puddles if the

Clean Water Restoration Act is passed. Plus, it is determined to require permits for all pesticide applications. We stressed to Senator Durbin and the congressmen that these new regulations would hurt the American farmer’s ability to produce safe, inexpensive food. We also stressed these stringent, new rules could have a negative ‘Our story needs impact on the environ- to be heard on ment by moving U.S. Capitol Hill, and it food production offis our duty as proshore. Another extremely ducers and citiimportant issue farm- zens to tell it ers face is maintaining there.’ baseline appropriations for the farm program. While visiting with House Ag Committee staff, it became apparent that funding for the 2008 farm bill would face great scrutiny in a reconciliation bill early next year. This will be part of the effort to fix the fiscal situation our nation faces. Funding for the crop insurance segment of the farm program seems the most likely area to face cuts, resulting in increased premiums for producers. A bright spot in our policy discussions was U.S. Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack’s commitment to increasing U.S. farm exports and trade. We received assurances the secretary favors moving the Colombia, Panama, and Korea free trade agreements forward. Amid all of the challenges we face, increased world food demand represents our greatest future opportunity. Free trade is an integral part of feeding the world. Leaving Washington, I thought back to the paintings in the Capitol and my questions about my responsibilities to my industry and my country. I realized those responsibilities are one and the same. Our story needs to be heard on Capitol Hill, and it is our duty as producers and citizens to tell it there. Good representative government is only possible when the electorate is active and engaged. Being engaged in the process is what the Leaders to Washington is all about. I would recommend this experience to anyone who wants to participate in this great experiment of self governance. Mike Marron farms near Fithian in Vermilion County with his wife, Brandy, and his parents. A township supervisor, he chairs the county Farm Bureau Legislative and Local Affairs Committee and serves on the Young Leaders Committee.

An immigration deal worth considering What about immigration? Is Congress going to try to address this difficult and polarizing issue this year? William Siegel, a trustee of the Hudson Institute, has put forth a suggestion that I think is worth consideration. Here is the situation that exists today: We have anywhere from between 12 million and 20 million illeJOHN gal immigrants in this country now. BLOCK They sneaked in across the border or came in on a temporary visa but never left. They broke the law. They don’t deserve health care, school lunch, food stamps, all of the entitlements that our legal citizens receive. Send them back! That’s just not going to happen. Twelve million or 20 million is too many. Some have been here for years, raising their children. Most of them are working — doing work that we can’t get our legal citizens to do. Who is going to milk the cows, slaughter the hogs, roof the houses, pick the strawberries, or do the lawn work? They are doing the dirty work, the dangerous work. We need them. So, here is the middle-ground suggestion. Give all the illegal immigrants six months to register. This does not give them citizenship or necessarily the many benefits that our legal citizens are entitled to receive. However, the federal government and states may in the future give them some of these benefits. You ask: Why would they register if they don’t necessarily get benefits? Because we would agree to let them stay here in the United States with no risk of deportation. Stay and work. Raise your family. However, if they don’t register, they would be subject to deportation — no excuses. I know that this does not deal with all the details. Will there be a path to citizenship? What kind of benefits could they expect, etc? But they would have the peace of mind in knowing that the next time their workplace is checked by immigration officials, they would not be deported. The plan outlined here is not perfect, but it could be a compromise worth considering. If we insist on the all-or-nothing approach, we will get nothing. John Block of Gilson, a former U.S. agriculture secretary in the Reagan administration, is a senior policy adviser with the Washington, D.C., firm of Olsson, Frank, Weeda, and Terman. His e-mail address is

Free range chicken nuggets

FarmWeek May 3 2010  

FarmWeek May 3 2010

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