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STATE LAWMAKERS addressed some agricultural and rural issues before concluding the spring legislative session by the May 31 deadline. ...........................................3

HIGH-SPEED INTERNET is changing education, research, and medical care in Southern Illinois, but the region is in need of more broadband access. .......................................3

GOODBYE PYRAMID, hello MyPlate. USDA has unveiled a new food icon designed to encourage consumers to build healthy eating habits. ...................8

Monday, June 6, 2011

Two sections Volume 39, No. 23

June 30 deadline

Farm Bureau seeks farmer comments on trucking rules

BY KAY SHIPMAN FarmWeek

Periodicals: Time Valued

Public comments on Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) farm trucking rules are due June 30. FMCSA published its request for comments in the May 31 Federal Register, page 31279. After frequent discussions between Illinois Farm Bureau and U.S. Department of Transportation officials, the FMCSA has agreed to reconsider some of its recent interpretations affecting agriculture. “It is important we have a strong response from county Farm Bureaus and individual farmers,” said IFB President Philip Nelson. “This is our opportunity to weigh in and bring some common sense to the interpretations.” The agency will hear comments on three key issues that impact farm trucking and equipment: • Interstate vs. intrastate definitions that apply to hauling of farm products within a single state’s boundaries; • A for-hire designation for farmers with a crop-share lease; and • A “commercial motor vehicle” designation for implements of husbandry.

The issue pertaining to interstate commerce applies to grain shipments and grain exports by elevators. FMCSA is applying federal court decisions to create scenarios in which all grain hauled to the elevator — even by a farmer — is considered to be involved in interstate commerce although the elevator might export only a small portion of its grain. Farm Bureau contends the definition of “interstate commerce” should not apply to farmer deliveries of grain where only a fraction of the grain received will be delivered to out-of-state destinations, said Kevin Rund, IFB senior director of local government. As for farmers who have crop-share leases, Farm Bureau asserts no shipment of a landlord’s crop share should be considered as a for-hire move unless the lease specifically singles out crop transportation and identifies compensation for that transportation separate from the cropshare agreement, Rund said. The third issue involves implements of husbandry and

the application of commercial motor vehicle rules. Farm Bureau contends neither Congress nor early regulators intended commercial motor vehicle rules to apply to specialized farm equipment.

“Many Illinois farmers, especially the smallest farm operators, rely on farm tractors and wagons to deliver crops and livestock to markets,” Rund said. “Prohibiting the use of implements of hus-

bandry for this purpose would be excessively burdensome to those farmers.” No implement of husbandry — whether being used See Trucking, page 3

COME AND GET IT

Brent Pollard, Illinois Farm Bureau Young Leader State Committee member, feeds cows at his family’s dairy operation in rural Rockford on the opening day of June Dairy Month. The Pollards are building a new facility to improve cow comfort and efficiency of their operation. They also put in a new feed bunk to reduce spoilage. More on the Pollard dairy operation appears on page 5. (Photo by Ken Kashian)

House appropriators target farm payments BY MARTIN ROSS FarmWeek

U.S. House appropriators took a major opening shot at farm programs last week, proposing new producer income limits that at least one Central Illinois grower said would weaken a still-crucial Midwest safety net. The House Appropriations Committee approved a fiscal 2012 ag spending bill that would cut $2.7 billion in discretionary ag spending vs. fiscal 2011 levels and $5 billion in program and other mandatory spending from President Obama’s budget request. The full House is expected to pass the measure with few changes. Rep. Jeff Flake (R-Ariz.)

won approval for an amendment that would lower current farm program adjusted gross income (AGI) eligibility to a total of $250,000 annually for all program participants and program crops. The current limit is $500,000 in AGI from off-farm sources or $750,000 in on-farm income. Flake proposed directing savings resulting from his plan toward federal debt retirement. The committee’s action and apparent House support for the income provision signals pressure on direct payments in particular is “something all of agriculture is going to have to come to grips with,” Illinois Farm Bureau Governmental Affairs/Commodities Director

FarmWeek on the web: FarmWeekNow.com

Mark Gebhards said Friday. “It’s an indication that we’re going to have to work very hard to keep what we have,” IFB National Legislative Director Adam Nielsen advised. “Obviously, we’re opposed to changing the safety net in the middle of the game, and we’ll be opposing that provision in the final appropriations bill. “This does show there’s a lack of understanding of and appreciation for the role farm programs play in providing a safety net for producers,” said Nielsen. Gebhards sees potential for more Senate “sympathy” for farm program preservation,

but warns “the budget pressures will be there, as well.” Chuck Hassebrook, executive director of the national Center for Rural Affairs, hailed the amendment as “a good first step in reducing federal subsidies that mega farms use to drive smaller operations out of business.” But Champaign producer Duane Strunk sees the proposal as a threat to a far more major segment of the Midwest farm community. Strunk argues reducing the program income threshold from $750,000 to $250,000 represents “a pretty significant drop.” “When we’re sitting See Target, page 3

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


FarmWeek Page 2 Monday, June 6, 2011

IFB IN ACTION

Quick Takes FARM FAMILY WEBSITE UP — A new website that shares Illinois farm information with non-farmers is now operational at {www.watchusgrow.org}. The website is operated by Illinois Farm Families, a statewide communications program of Illinois Farm Bureau, Illinois Beef Association, Illinois Corn Marketing Board, Illinois Soybean Association, and Illinois Pork Producers Association. The website offers a variety of information and promotes summer activities, such as opportunities for Chicago-area mothers to visit farms, have questions answered, and see firsthand how food is grown. GIPSA RULES BLOCKED — In its passage last week of the fiscal 2012 ag appropriations bill that will fund USDA and related agencies, the U.S. House Appropriations Committee approved an amendment that would prevent USDA from implementing a proposed rule on livestock and poultry marketing. The ag funding bill denies funding for Grain Inspection, Packers and Stockyards Administration (GIPSA) to implement revised GIPSA rules. The proposed rule changes, in an effort to address concerns about a lack of competition among packers, would ban packer-to-packer sales of livestock and could hinder producers’ ability to enter into specialty contracts. The American Farm Bureau Federation opposes the measure. Farm Bureau is urging USDA to complete reviewing the 60,000 comments received and move forward with the proposed rule. Farm Bureau also supports allowing USDA to continue its economic analysis of the rule. DEERE TO EXPAND IN RESEARCH PARK — The University of Illinois Research Park may see a new technology and fabrication building that would be home to an expanded John Deere operation, according to The News-Gazette. The U of I Board of Trustees is expected to vote on the proposal this week. Deere has outgrown its current facility on campus and wants to give U of I researchers and students access to farm equipment that requires more space than currently is available. Developers hope the new facility will be open by mid-November.

(ISSN0197-6680) Vol. 39 No. 23

June 6, 2011

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

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David Serven, Illinois Farm Bureau District 8 director, poses in his office on his family’s farm in St. Augustine (Knox County). Serven in his spare time studies history, particularly World War II, enjoys sports, and coaches t-ball. He also hopes to renew his involvement in the livestock industry. His family milked cows for generations, in some of the buildings in the background, before exiting the industry in 2009. (Photo by Ken Kashian)

Livestock special to Serven family BY DANIEL GRANT FarmWeek

David Serven, 43, milked cows and was around livestock his entire life until 2009. That’s when Serven, who farms in a partnership with his father, Duane, and mother, Deane, near St. Augustine in Knox County, decided to exit the dairy industry. “Our facilities were built in the 1960s so we would have had to upgrade them. 2009 also is when milk prices went south,” he said. “So it was the perfect time to get out.” Multiple generations of the Serven family milked cows on the family farm dating back to the 1920s. So David, who worked with a herd of about 70 cows, specifically remembers when that tradition came to an end. “Sept. 9, 2009, is the day we quit milking cows,” he said. The Servens currently grow corn, soybeans, and alfalfa hay on about 1,500 acres. But David hasn’t forgotten the importance of the livestock industry or lost his passion for it. In fact, Serven plans to get back into the livestock industry when the time is right. “I feel strongly about the livestock industry. I hope Illinois can grow it,” he said. “I hope to get back in livestock at some point.” Serven shares his passion for the livestock industry and animals with his family. His wife, Barb, is a small animal veterinarian and his son, Perry, 5, last year showed hogs at a local fair. The couple also has a daughter, Anna, 3, and younger son, Tim, 1. “I enjoy working with livestock,” Serven said. “I look forward to getting them (his children) involved with livestock, too, and utilizing the pasture ground we have.” Serven also promised his wife, who worked as a veterinarian in Wheaton before

they got married, that as part of the marriage deal she could get a horse (she’s still waiting). But those plans may have to wait. Serven in December was elected the Illinois Farm Bureau District 8 director. His district encompasses Fulton, Henderson, Knox, Peoria, and Warren counties. He also serves on a school committee of 10 representing the possible consolidation of Abingdon, Avon, and Bushnell-Prairie City school districts, the Knox County Board, and the Riverland FS board. He also coaches t-ball. “The opportunity (to run for the IFB board) was there and, since I wasn’t milking cows anymore, I had a chance to do it,” Serven said. “It seems I’ve been in the right spot quite a few times. “I thought it was a chance to help make a difference.” Serven originally got involved in IFB after he graduated from Illinois State University in 1989. “I was looking for something to get involved in (in the ag industry) so I joined the Knox County Farm Bureau Young Leaders,” said Serven, who won the state YL Achievement Award in 2002. “One thing led to another, I slowly worked my way up, and was (Knox) county Farm Bureau president for five years.” Serven also completed the IFB Agricultural Leaders of Tomorrow (ALOT) program, earned an FFA American Farmer Degree, and is a graduate of the Illinois Ag Leadership Program. Describing himself as a “sports nut,” Serven in his spare time enjoys playing golf and attending live sporting events. “I was involved in sports growing up and in school,” he said. “It’s always been a release for us (on the farm).” Serven also enjoys studying U.S. history, particularly World War II history, when he’s not busy on the farm or attending meetings.


Page 3 Monday, June 6, 2011 FarmWeek

GOVERNMENT

Quinn to review new budget under microscope BY KAY SHIPMAN FarmWeek Gov. Pat Quinn last week didn’t answer directly questions on whether he would sign or veto the General Assembly’s budget and legislation to expand Gov. Pat Quinn gambling in the state. Quinn told reporters he would listen to the people of Illinois and planned a “microscopic review” of the 400-page budget document. However, the governor may have tipped his hand with his critical comments about the gaming expansion bill.

“The people of Illinois don’t want an excessive gambling bill that’s top heavy,” Quinn added. “If the people of Illinois will be hurt in any way, I won’t approve it.” To raise future revenue, the General Assembly voted to allow five new casinos and permit slot machines at race tracks and expansion of existing casinos. Legislators also agreed to off-track betting on the Illinois State Fairgrounds and other locations. Supporters of the measure estimated the state eventually could gain an additional $1 billion to $1.6 billion annually. The gambling expansion bill included about $20 million that would provide additional funding for several agricultural pro-

grams once the gaming operations are licensed and built, said Kevin Semlow, Illinois Farm Bureau director of state legislation. Receipt of those funds could be several years down the road. Ag-related programs pegged to receive a portion of the future funding include: up to $5 million annually for county fair support and development, $10 million annually for soil and water conservation districts, and $4 million annually in grants for the University of Illinois Extension. As for education funding, the governor criticized legislators’ cuts — especially to preschool programs and elementary and secondary education. Quinn told reporters he would

“keep working” with lawmakers and hoped to get more money for education. “We’ll take a look at it (the budget) and see how we can repair it,” he added. The General Assembly cut education funding by $171 million compared to the previous year’s budget and approved $6.85 billion for education. However the budget maintained the per-pupil funding rate of $6,119 and kept funding for the regional superintendents — funding that was to be eliminated in the governor’s proposal. For the most part, ag-related programs would have funding levels maintained. However, funding for some ag programs were cut compared to the previous year’s budget. For example,

soil and water conservation district funding was reduced to $2.785 million, down from $3.531 million the previous year. A couple of programs, such as the state funding match for locally generated Extension funding, received an increase. Semlow said it is uncertain whether Quinn would approve the budget or use his veto powers. “If the governor chooses to use his veto pen, he will force the General Assembly back into a special session when any action would take a super majority,” Semlow said. “To override the governor’s veto or pass a new budget with a super majority would require the support of Republicans in both chambers.”

Lawmakers settle some issues and leave others in limbo State lawmakers addressed some agricultural and rural issues before concluding the spring legislative session by the May 31 deadline. The General Assembly may be adjourned, but legislators’ work may not be finished, especially if Gov. Pat Quinn

FarmWeekNow.com V i e w G o v. Q u i n n ’s e n d o f spring session news conference at FarmWeekNow.com

calls them back for a special session, noted Kevin Semlow, Illinois Farm Bureau director of state legislation. While the budget and new legislative district maps were

two focal points during the final hours, other issues of interest were discussed during the session. The following summary indicates status of several bills of interest: Legislation to establish a new permit fee for livestock operations required to obtain a National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) permit was not called for a second vote by its sponsor, Rep. Michael Tryon (R-Crystal Lake). Held because the bill did not receive sufficient votes to pass the first time, SB 1682 would have established a fee of up to $1,200 for operations required to have an NPDES permit. It was opposed by Illinois Farm

Bureau, Illinois Pork Producers Association, Illinois Beef Association, and the Illinois Milk Producers Association. The Senate defeated an effort to restrict artificial trans fats in certain foods, excluding baked goods. IFB opposed HB 1600. Two pieces of legislation that would have incorporated the reorganization of the Illinois Council on Food and Agricultural Research (C-FAR) remained in the House. IFB supported both stalled bills. Legislation that allows the Illinois public health director to create a farmers’ market task force passed both chambers and was sent to the governor.

Broadband bringing opportunities and challenges to Southern Illinois High-speed Internet is changing education, research, and medical care in Southern Illinois, but advancements have been slowed because the region needs more access to broadband, the Illinois Broadband Deployment Council heard last week. “This digital divide translates into an educational divide because there is not equal access to highspeed Internet,” said Donna Boros, regional superintendent of schools for Jackson and Perry counties. Boros spoke last week during the Illinois Broadband Summit at Southern Illinois University (SIU), Carbondale. Expert panels discussed broadband applications for education, health care, and economic development. “The people who potentially could benefit the most from broadband are our rural members, but they face the biggest challenges of connectivity and access,” said Brenda Matherly, Illinois Farm Bureau assistant director of local government. “Rural areas have lower Internet adoption rates because rural residents don’t have the (Internet) experience. How do you get experience if you don’t have access?” Matherly asked. Broadband shortages are impacting even SIU, although it offers some of the most robust Internet service in the region. “Our (broadband) network is saturated from 8

a.m. to midnight, so researchers have to calculate and download (information) at times when it is not busy, like 3 a.m.,” said Dr. John Koropchak, SIU vice chancellor for research and a biochemistry professor. But early-morning hours don’t solve the problem for some researchers. Some complex data, such as systems to analyze genes, would take up to 22 hours to download using SIU’s current network — and that download would be interrupted during peak hours, Koropchak said. Educators aren’t the only ones frustrated with slow Internet service. Charles Kelley, operations manager of MedStar Ambulance of Sparta, said emergency medical services are at a crossroad. “I do (ambulance) dispatch for three counties, and I’m told there is very little I can do about (increased Internet access) until there is new technology,” Kelley said. “I’m working with what technology I have now.” In addition to sending critical patient information to emergency room doctors, broadband could provide maps for ambulance drivers to locate patient addresses on new roads and in new subdivisions, Kelley explained. IFB will continue to be involved with the Broadband Deployment Council and with Internet adoption in rural areas, Matherly said. — Kay Shipman

The panel will help review laws and rules governing products and practices permitted at farmers’ markets and will help enact statewide administrative rules for those markets. IFB supported the bill as amended and passed. A bill proposing trespass notification via marking of pri-

vate property through the use of purple paint on trees or posts was approved in both chambers and sent to the governor. IFB supported SB 1914, which was amended to exempt the City of Chicago and to prohibit purple paint use if it is not allowed by local ordinances or other laws. — Kay Shipman

Trucking Continued from page 1 for fieldwork or for transporting crops or livestock to market — should be considered a commercial motor vehicle and subject to federal motor carrier safety rules, Rund maintained. Instead, the authority to regulate implements of husbandry that are operated within state boundaries should be reserved for the states and not the federal government, Rund said. By the end of this week, county Farm Bureaus will have additional background information that could be shared

with individuals wanting to offer written comments. Comments need to be identified as pertaining to Federal Docket Management System Number FMCSA-2011-0146. They may be submitted online to {www.regulations.gov}. Follow the online instructions. Comments also may be sent via fax to 202-493-2251. They may be mailed to: Docket Management Facility, (M-30), U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT), 1200 New Jersey Ave., SE., West Building, Ground Floor, Room 12-140, Washington, DC 20590-0001.

Target Continued from page 1 here with markets for $7 corn and $13-$14 beans, you don’t have to farm too big to get into that (ineligible) category. “Even with those prices, those crops are “not in the bin yet” and a production/revenue safety net remains crucial to producers faced with potential income volatility, he said. Strunk also is concerned by an appropriations amendment to prohibit funding for USDA inspections at U.S. horse slaughter facilities. While Congress effectively shut down equine slaughter amid concerns from such groups as the Humane Society of the United States, that provision would preclude export

of older or unwanted animals to still-active processors in Canada or Mexico that required USDA-inspected carcasses. The slaughter market “cleaned up the bottom of the horse population and set the (floor) on the market,” noted Strunk, who chairs the IFB Grassroots Issue Team’s Equine Committee. With elimination of U.S. slaughter, auction prices have fallen from a minimum $400$500 per animal to around $50$100, and equine abuse reports have risen sharply, he said. “This is a non-cost item to the government,” Strunk argued. “The horse slaughter plants would pay for the (USDA) inspections.”


FarmWeek Page 4 Monday, June 6, 2011

GOVERNMENT

Bill would give states water quality authority BY MARTIN ROSS FarmWeek

A new Capitol Hill proposal would attempt to shed what many view as an increasingly one-size-fits-all regulatory approach in favor of state-level water quality management. As producers continue to challenge the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) regulatory reach, U.S. Reps. John Mica (R-Fla.) and Nick Rahall (D-W.Va.) are touting the Clean Water Cooperative Federalism Act, which would affirm states’ rights to regulate water quality. The bill would restrict the U.S. EPA’s ability to issue a revised or new water quality standard for a pollutant “whenever a state has adopted and U.S. EPA already has approved a water quality standard for that pollutant.” State agencies could adopt new standards if they deemed them crucial to meeting federal Clean Water Act requirements. The measure appeals to Illinois Fertilizer and Chemical Association (IFCA) President Jean Payne, whose members are concerned about expanded EPA regulation of ag nutrients and pesticide applications on a watershed basis. She cites continued cooperation between the Illinois Environmental Protection Agency (IEPA) and the state’s ag interests in crafting compliant, Illi-

nois-tailored programs and policies. “The state agency has personnel and field staff that we all know, that we work with on a consistent basis, that we have relationships with, that understand the uniqueness of that state’s agricultural system, and that can usually come up with solutions that are much more doable and not threatening to the industry,” Payne told FarmWeek. A prime example is IEPA’s participation in Keep it for the Crop 2025, a nutrient strategy effort focusing on nitrogen use and other practices and stewardship options that also maximize crop potential and help producers manage risk. The effort underlines IEPA’s willingness to consider “what we can solve without regulations,” Payne suggested. Because Illinois is a far more significant anhydrous ammonia user than Ohio or Kansas, a federal or even regional strategy “wouldn’t make any sense” for the state, she said. And given Illinois’ ongoing budget dilemma, Payne sees public-private partnerships and “industry-funded solutions” as preferable to unenforceable, unfunded federal mandates. Concerns about regulatory overreach have heightened with a current U.S. EPA “guidance document” that proposes to greatly expand federal overview

of waters nationwide. That’s spurred fears of U.S. EPA promoting a Mississippi River Basin watershed management plan similar to the new nutrient management rules being implemented for the eastern Chesapeake Bay region. “Illinois’ tile drainage system is much different than systems in the Chesapeake Bay,” Payne stressed. “They have more issues with poultry; we have a lot more issues with grain production and tile drainage that force us to take a different perspective on managing nutrients. “What would work for TMDLs (total maximum daily loads) in the Chesapeake Bay cannot just be picked up and plunked down in Illinois. That’s why we fight for the right to have our own statewide strategies.” Meanwhile, IFCA and others are working this summer to garner support for Senate legislation to rescind U.S. EPA National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) permits for selected pesticide applicators. Beyond creating a double layer of pesticide regulation (Federal Insecticide, Fungicide, and Rodenticide Act provisions already guide chemical use), Payne warned NPDES program implementation would place an added burden on an already-overtaxed IEPA.

Administration ‘relief’ disappoints producers Amid disappointing White House “regulatory relief” measures, Illinois Farm Bureau National Legislative Director Adam Nielsen says efforts to rein in the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) are “in Congress’ court.” The administration announced a series of measures aimed at reducing regulatory requirements and improving bureaucratic efficiencies across federal departments, in response to a January presidential executive order. Those include USDA plans to consolidate farm program and crop insurance information collection under the Farm Service Agency, streamline conservation technical assistance procedures, and make participation in rural development programs easier for lenders, communities, and businesses. But in terms of growing concerns over environmental regulation, American Farm Bureau Federation analyst Paul Schlegel doesn’t expect “a lot of relief from the administration.” EPA is continuing on a trajectory toward determining “everything is federal,” granting increasingly less discretion to state agencies, Schlegel argued. In his order soliciting agency recommendations, President Obama made it clear “he didn’t want to do anything that was going to impact at all the air or the water,” Nielsen said. He applauded the administration’s focus on multi-agency rules and procedures “across the economy,” but argued the president’s environmental disclaimer left little hope for “real regulatory reform or pullback.” “When Obama issued his executive order, EPA said it didn’t think any of its regulations would be affected,” Schlegel told FarmWeek. “That kind of told you from the get-go they weren’t going to do anything significant. “There are a number of efforts on the Hill that would look at regulatory reform in a legislative context. Lamar Smith (RTexas), who chairs the House Judiciary Committee, wants to look at the Administrative Procedures Act, the guiding regulatory statute that hasn’t been amended since 1946. The act states how (agencies) look at public comments, how you promulgate rules, that sort of thing.” Additional proposals would require congressional review of any major new federal rules and address how EPA deals with legal settlement agreements. Schlegel noted concerns about essentially “backdoored” regulations that arise from lawsuits filed by environmental groups, as well as use of taxpayer funds to pay costs in such “citizen activist” suits. In a letter to EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson, Senate Ag Committee Ranking Republican Pat Roberts (R-Kan.) cited her failure to answer questions the committee posed to her months ago. He noted concerns about EPA’s “lack of transparency and unclear guidance” and questions about EPA operating “outside the bounds of its legal authority.” — Martin Ross

FTAs offer meaty potential for cattle sector Pending free trade agreements offer a potentially significant impact for Midwest beef producers, and they could help reduce agriculture’s global “footprint” as well. The fate of free trade agreements (FTAs) with South Korea, Colombia, and Panama appeared uncertain last week as lawmakers continued to tie agreement approvals to extension of the Trade Adjustment Act (TAA), a measure that addresses U.S. workers who lose jobs because of export competition. While FTAs predominantly benefit U.S. exporters, 41 Senate Democrats wrote the White House saying they were “unified in our belief that the first order of business, before we should consider any FTA, is securing a

long-term TAA extension.” Orrin Hatch (R-Utah), Senate Finance Committee ranking

Republican, warned, “We don’t have the votes to pass TAA through this Congress.” Beef access was a primary obstacle to bringing the Korean agreement to the Hill, but now that those concerns have

been addressed, “cattle ranchers may very well see greater opportunities in South Korea,” National Cattlemen’s Beef Association President Bill Donald O’Donnell said. With the beef industry continuing to “fight with chicken” for domestic market share, Illinois Beef Association Executive Vice President Maralee Johnson main-

tains “we have to be in the global marketplace, where 96 percent of the people are.” Johnson noted accelerated middle income growth in many Asian countries, ostensibly feeding an appetite and generating the dollars for more red meat. “We know they like beef,” she told FarmWeek, citing hearty sales of U.S.

chucks, rounds, and other lower-cost cuts in the Pacific Rim. Last year, the U.S. sold more than $500 million in beef to Korea, and that was under heavy import tariffs that remain an obstacle to expanding U.S. beef exports. The FTA would reduce duties from 40 percent to zero over a 15year period, making U.S. beef more affordable to Korean consumers. Japan’s national crises intensify the importance of South Korea as an alternative “conduit” for moving beef into Asia, Johnson said. The U.S. Meat Export Federation (USMEF) recently announced $1 million in USDA Market Access Program (MAP) cost-share funds to spur beef product sales in Korea, and seeks an added $10 million in MAP funding to implement a five-year strategy

to further expand exports to Korea. “There’s a lot of work needed to create that conduit, as well as work with (Asian) chefs and retailers on how to merchandise the product. USMEF can go in and develop those markets and be poised to take advantage of that conduit, to be able to put product in that marketplace,” Johnson said. Johnson also sees FTA-driven meat trade contributing as well to global sustainability. The U.S. is one of the world’s most efficient, most stringently regulated beef producers, “with the smallest carbon footprint per pound,” she said, adding that she believes availability of affordable meat exports could help head off protein production in areas with limited resources. “In some of these countries, do you want to see rainforests cleared for more (cattle) ground?” Johnson posed. — Martin Ross


Page 5 Monday, June 6, 2011 FarmWeek

DAIRY

Dairy owners focus on improving cow comfort, efficiency BY DANIEL GRANT FarmWeek

Brent and Carrie Pollard, owners of Po-Cop Dairy in rural Rockford (Winnebago County), this month plan to replace a free-stall barn built in 1975 with a new facility. The update will allow the Pollards to add more cows to the operation in the future. But that’s not their top priority near-term. The Pollards’ primary focus is to improve the environment for their cows, which in turn could enhance milk production. “We’re trying to create an environment that’s more comfortable for the cows,” Brent told FarmWeek. “We live by the adage that if we take care of our cows, the cows will take care of us.” Pollard spent extensive time in college studying the effects of heat stress on cows. He has a degree in animal science from the University of Illinois and a master’s degree in dairy physiology from the University of Arizona. He noted dairy cows start feeling heat stress at temperatures as low as the 70s. The Pollards’ new facility, therefore, will provide better natural ventilation and it will feature larger stalls to improve comfort for their herd, which

Carrie and Brent Pollard, owners of Po-Cop Dairy in Winnebago County, milk their herd of about 80 cows last week on the first day of June Dairy Month. The Pollards are in the process of replacing their 1970s-era free-stall barn with a new facility. The new facility is designed to improve cow comfort, efficiency of the operation, and allow the Pollards to expand if they choose to do so in the future. (Photo by Ken Kashian)

consists of about 80 registered Holstein cows along with a few cross-breds and milking short-horns. “We’re just trying to make changes to transition to the future,” said Brent, who farms with his parents, Warren and Gail. “We’re trying to make a better environment so (the cows) milk more and we can

be more efficient.” The Pollards also have improved the efficiency of their operation recently by putting in a new feed bunk with concrete walls, which helps reduce feed spoilage. They also expanded feed rations to include items such as corn gluten and sugar byproducts.

Farmers hope to build demand during June Dairy Month Dairy farmers hope to grow demand for their products and maintain “favorable” milk prices as part of June Dairy Month. Midwest dairymen so far this year are catching up economically after disastrous 2009 and 2010 business years, according to Mike Hutjens, University of Illinois professor of animal sciences emeritus. “Illinois milk producers need $17 per 100 pounds to cover feed, variable, fixed, and labor costs with a modest return on assets,” Hutjens said. “Currently, milk prices have been favorable, but dairy managers need a full year of these margins to replace lost equity in 2009-2010.” Several factors will be critical to maintaining a successful 2011 dairy business model. Hutjens said milk prices will depend on supply and demand with more than 13 percent of current U.S. milk solids being exported. World demand is important to keep supply and demand balanced, and that may be impacted by the financial problems in some European countries and unrest in the Mideast. “Corn price will also impact profit margin,” he said. “Late planting of corn in the Midwest, flooding along major rivers such as the Mississippi, and drought in the Southwest will impact

corn and feed prices. Higher corn prices will raise the price of corn silage, forages, and byproduct feeds.” Meanwhile, energy costs (price of oil) will affect fertilizer, fuel, and energy costs, he said. In order to overcome these challenges, Hutjens said dairy managers will need to focus on areas that they directly control on their farms. The dairy specialist suggested Illinois dairy farmers pay attention to maintaining forage quality to reduced purchased-feed costs; calculate feed inventory to meet 2011-12 herd needs; and use byproducts to replace higherpriced corn, soybean meal, and fat/oil in dairy rations. He also recommended keeping total feed costs per 100 pounds of milk to less than $7 per hundredweight for lactating cows, and maintaining high milk yields to produce more income and profit to maximize feed efficiency. They also must sell their products to an increasingly segmented consumer base. “June is Dairy Month,” Hutjens said. “It’s an opportunity for dairy managers to promote the importance of milk production, the nutritional value of dairy products, and the economic impact dairy farms have on the Midwest’s economy.”

“With the way corn prices are going, my goal is to get as much out of forage, silage, and haylage as we can and feed as many byproducts as we can,” Pollard said. The Pollards grow all their own corn, alfalfa, and other forage crops, which provide a

major advantage for feed inputs. Their dairy operation is surrounded by urban sprawl, so the couple spends a lot of time working with consumers to help educate them about food production. Brent currently serves on the IFB Young Leader State Committee and is president of his local Dairy Herd Improvement Association and the Boone-Winnebago Holstein Club. Carrie, who is a technical services manager at Bethany Swine Health Services in Sycamore, also volunteers as a public speaker for the Pork Checkoff ’s Operation Main Street Program and for dairy promotions. “We as livestock producers should be proud of what we do,” Carrie said. “It’s rewarding to feel like you’ve made a difference.” The Pollards not only will be updating their dairy operation this month, but Brent believes June Dairy Month also is a good time to promote their product. “The days of being an ostrich and sticking your head in the sand are gone,” he said. “You’ve got to get your message out there.”

Class III milk price slips The Class III price for milk adjusted to 3.5 percent butterfat for the month of May was $16.52 per hundredweight, 35 cents lower than the previous month. With dairy farmer culling slowing down and timely heifer placements bringing more milk to the market, milk supplies are starting to become more plentiful. The “spring flush” also is in full swing, further adding to the pressure on milk prices. Seasonal demand also is a little soft this time of year as schools let out for the summer. Processors will see a surge in demand as temperatures rise and ice cream sales start to pick up.


FarmWeek Page 6 Monday, June 6, 2011

CROPWATCHERS Bernie Walsh, Durand, Winnebago County: We had good growing conditions last week, with 0.5 of an inch of rain on Sunday (May 29) and warm temperatures the rest of the week. Corn in this area is growing very fast right now with some of it doubling in size to an average of 6 to 7 inches. Soybeans also are catching up due to this excellent growing weather. The last few wet fields are finally drying up and being planted, now that we missed some recent rains. Lots of hay making, sidedressing nitrogen, and spraying when its not too windy, were the main jobs last week. Pete Tekampe, Grayslake, Lake County: A very cloudy Friday in Lake County. A hot, wet weekend was forecast after a week with a little more than 0.6 of an inch of rain. With all of the rain late last week, not much fieldwork was done. Beans are about 75 percent planted with the earlyplanted ones looking good. Corn also is growing fast and getting better color because of the heat. Winter wheat looks good and is heading out. Not much hay has been cut yet because of the other fieldwork. Spring grains look tough. Leroy Getz, Savanna, Carroll County: Rain showers over Memorial Day weekend totaled 1 inch. I received 5.5 inches for the month of May. Some areas had much more. Hay making is top priority when the weather allows. Yields are good. There is some alfalfa weevil present and the new growth will need to be monitored. Corn and soybeans are emerged and looking good. I have a total of 435 growing degree units. There seems to be a lot of poison hemlock in fields and ditches where last year’s summer flooding occurred. This needs to be controlled. Ryan Frieders, Waterman, DeKalb County: Last Saturday (May 28) and Sunday, the area was saturated with 3 to 5 inches of blinding, heavy rain in a very short period of time. There has been major ponding in the fields since that time. Water levels are just starting to recede in most areas almost one week later. I am sure there will be replanting of corn and soybeans in the low areas. We will be spraying post-emergence herbicide and sidedressing nitrogen when cornfield conditions improve. Some soybean fields still wait to be planted, but most planted soybeans have emerged. Larry Hummel, Dixon, Lee County: It was difficult to get much spraying done last week. Thursday morning, it finally dried up enough to start. But by evening, it showered just enough to chase us back out again. Friday’s forecast called for 20 to 30 mph gusts — not very promising. A few neighbors cut hay on Thursday. Hopefully it can stay dry long enough to get it up in good shape. We did get a lot of corn shipped last week. I can’t wait to get to the corn on the bottom of the bin that has a 7 in front of it. Ken Reinhardt, Seaton, Mercer County: It was dry enough in some fields to start some postemergence spraying Wednesday. It rained off and on all day Thursday, amounting to 0.8 of an inch. The Edwards River still is flooding farmland but finally is dropping. Cutworms continue to be found and are doing some serious damage in some cornfields. Ron Moore, Roseville, Warren County: We received another 2.7 inches of rain last week. That makes the total rainfall for the last two weeks almost 5 inches. Needless to say, the 2011 yields for this area are now going to be lower than normal again. The ponds were just drying up and then filled with water again. The corn is yellow from lack of nitrogen and oxygen. Weeds are going to be another problem because the fields are too wet to post spray. Some fields of hay were mowed before the last rain and the quality may not be as good. The only bright spot that comes with excessive rain is pasture conditions are very good right now. Even my cattle are staying home with all of the grass.

Jacob Streitmatter, Princeville, Peoria County: Rain received last week has not let many make progress on fieldwork. Some spraying resumed the last part of the week, but it is far from being dry. The crops look decent. Warm and drier weather would be beneficial. Tim Green, Wyoming, Stark County: A warmer week. The corn crop is starting to grow a little bit. We seem to be getting 0.3 or 0.4 of an inch of rain about every second day. A lot of corn needs to be sprayed. We keep getting little showers — just enough to keep us from getting corn sprayed. That seems to be the big concern. I would say we are virtually done with corn and probably have 5 percent of the beans left to plant. Mark Kerber, Chatsworth, Livingston County: Last week was a dry week so we could get back into the fields to plant soybeans. It’s taking a long time to dry out this time, as the ground is full of water. Some have started sidedressing nitrogen. There were a few rotary hoes running as the ground got pretty hard on what was planted just ahead of the rains. We hoed about 160 acres of no-till. This sure makes the stalks fly, but it did help. Hopefully, next week at this time, there will be a lot more progress in the fields. Ron Haase, Gilman, Iroquois County: On May 29, we received rainfall in the range of 0.5 of an inch to an inch. With the wind, sun, and high temperatures drying the soil surface, I was able to return to post emergence application of herbicides in our cornfields on May 31. It was a real challenge to avoid the soft areas of mud. On June 2, tractors were returning to some fields to work ground to dry out the soil in order to be able to plant the next day. There also were a few farmers I saw planting no-till or planting ground that was worked before the rain knocked them out of the field on May 22 without reworking the soil. Some were rotary hoeing to help corn emerge and applying sidedress nitrogen. In the next day or two we should be able to finish the planting. I would say about 96 percent of our corn crop has emerged. Corn development varies from still in the bag or fighting to emerge on up through the V-5 growth stage. The most developed soybean field in the areas is at V-1. We are behind 2009 in the progress of field activities that we need to make. The local closing bids for June 2 were nearby corn, $7.63; new-crop corn, $6.61; nearby soybeans, $14.08; new-crop soybeans. $13.60. Brian Schaumburg, Chenoa, McLean County: Planting is finally close to wrapping up. Corn development is at V-E to V-5 and soybeans are V-E to V1. There are some yellow streaks in corn, as roots search for nitrogen. Post-spraying of corn has started and sidedressing is half finished. Our area condition report card would be a B+ to A- downgraded only due to the late start. Corn, $7.54; fall, $6.53; soybeans, $13.97; fall, $13.48; wheat, $6.95. Tom Ritter, Blue Mound, Macon County: Showers on Thursday morning put a stop to all fieldwork. It wasn’t major rain, but 0.4 of an inch with cloudy conditions is taking farmers out of the field for a day or two. Many farmers were just getting started planting again, but most have wrapped up planting. Soybeans are approaching 90 percent complete. Corn with the warm days and warm nights continues to grow rapidly. A lot of post application spraying of corn is going on at this time. As you go south, they are fighting some problems with cutworms. Overall, corn at this point looks very good. Soybeans that were hit by the 2 to 3 inches of rain the week before are emerging. Stands and weed control look great. Off to a good start for the growing season even though we are running a little later than normal.

Steve Ayers, Champaign, Champaign County: Saturday, May 28, we received 1.5 inches of rain and then 0.1 of an inch Thursday morning, just as fields were starting to dry. Rain was in the forecast Saturday, but if we miss it, we will drill beans this week. Corn is looking good except for the ponds. Burndown is effective on bean ground. Our crop reporting district has corn 96 percent planted with 74 percent emerged and soybeans 55 percent planted with 16 percent emerged. Let’s be careful out there! Wilfred Dittmer, Quincy, Adams County: A partly cloudy morning around here Friday with temps already above 70, which is good corn-growing weather. We are wet again after the earlymorning rain Thursday that filled the gauge to 1.9 inches right here while others received upwards of 5 or more inches. I think all corn is doing well and looks good with little or no insect activity. Small soybeans are perking up as well after the temps have finally warmed up and it looks as if it will be grass-cutting time again soon. Have a safe week. Todd Easton, Charleston, Coles County: It was a good week in the fields, and they seem to get noticeably greener every day. Last week after the rain, it looked as if there were going to be many drowned-out areas in practically every field. Astonishingly, the water went away relatively quickly, and with the help of the cooler temperatures in the days after the rain the water damage was minimal. Sprayers and sidedress applicators are running hard in fast-growing cornfields with some of the early fields approaching V-5 maturity. Soybean fields also had a good week as most have emerged with real good stands. There have been some trouble spots, though, mostly in the southern part of the county. Rotary hoes have been in the fields to help the beans break through the crust. Doug Uphoff, Shelbyville, Shelby County: May rainfall: 3.5 inches. The first corn we planted on April 9 is at V-6, and the ponds we replanted are V-2. We began planting again on May 10, finishing corn on May 19. We still had to plant around ponds but some south of here are just now planting corn, so I’m not complaining. Big thing last week was cutworms. Man, can they eat fast. One day they aren’t there and the next day the plant population is cut 10 to 25 percent. We just added insecticide to post application of herbicide to control them. Started planting beans on May 19 and have 15 acres of notill left to plant. Emergence is good, but wet spots from 2.5 inches of rain will not make it. I have some spots in the cornfields next to timber where the deer have completely eaten 1 to 3 acres. Not sure what to do with those. I’ve never seen the damage this bad this early before. It’s too wet to replant, and I’m not sure it would be worth running over the other corn to do it. May corn at Findlay, $7.59; May to Decatur less trucking (off farm), $7.63; May beans, $14.02; off farm, $14.15; fall 2011 corn, $6.61; beans, $13.57; farm diesel No. 2, $3.65; B11, $3.397; truck No. 2, $4.12; truck B11, $3.85; gasohol, $3.99. David Schaal, St. Peter, Fayette County: Farmers hit the fields here again last week in various ways. Some were finishing planting corn, some replanting corn due to rain or cutworm damage, and others were staking beans in the ground. Cutworm pressure has been pretty heavy in this area where insecticide was not applied. The corn crop is anywhere from just going in the ground to 4 to 5 inches tall. The corn that is up and growing looks good. There should have been a lot of soybeans planted here over the weekend, providing there was no rain. The verdict is still out on a lot of the wheat. Some looks good and others don’t. There are a lot of white heads showing up. The weather forecast is in our favor for this week, and I’m hoping it holds true. Everyone be safe.


Page 7 Monday, June 6, 2011 FarmWeek

CROPWATCHERS Dan Meinhart, Montrose, Jasper County: A relatively rainfree week with warm temperatures. Farmers were able to get back into the fields by mid-week. In the wet areas, it was the first time this year. In the dry areas, planting is pretty well complete for both corn and beans. Spraying for black cutworms in the corn and for armyworms in the wheat were the most urgent projects of the week. Other activities included applying preplant chemicals, spreading fertilizer, replanting and sidedressing corn. Wheat is beginning to turn. No rain is in the forecast this week. Temperatures are expected to be in the 90s with the lows in the 70s. Hopefully, a lot of fieldwork will be accomplished. Rick Corners, Centralia, Jefferson County: Finally, a week without flash flooding. The corn planters are rolling. Things would be just hunky dory if it were May 3 and not June 3. Looks like the tools needed for corn harvest this fall will be a new pair of Carhart coveralls and a train load of LP gas. That’s if we get any rain in August.

Dave Hankammer, Millstadt, St. Clair County: The past week seemed uneventful compared to the previous weeks as far as the weather is concerned. Memorial Day weekend started off with clouds and occasional light sprinkle of rain, but by Memorial Day we had warm temperatures and sunshine making it a beautiful holiday. Many of the fields were soggy from the rains received during the previous week. With temperatures reaching into the low 90s and light winds with sunshine, fieldwork resumed on Tuesday. Corn planting continued for many local farmers with many of them planning to finish this week. Some corn was replanted in the area due to thin stands. Soybean plantings are well under way for many of the farmers in the area. Hopefully, bean plantings will progress at a faster pace since many of the forecasted rains missed the area. Local grain bids are corn, $7.56; soybeans, $14.05; wheat, $7.47. Have a safe week. Reports received Friday morning. Expanded crop and weather information available at {www.farmweeknow.com}.

Kevin Raber, Browns, Wabash County: I find it hard to believe it’s June already. Southeastern Illinois had a great week for fieldwork. The hot, dry weather helped to dry some fields. The Big Wabash is above flood stage again, so that will stop the farming in low lands. Wheat finally got the dry weather it’s been needing. Ken Taake, Ullin, Pulaski County: We finally had what seems like our first open week of the planting season. Things were really busy. We got back in the field on Monday (Memorial Day), and we were in the field all week. We finished planting our corn and we planted about two-thirds of our soybeans. Now we are back to concentrating on sidedressing our corn and post-spraying it. Everyone is planting as hard as possible. That’s what’s going on in our 40 — I haven’t really had a chance to get out and see how the rest of the county is doing.

Seventh-wettest spring recorded in Illinois BY DANIEL GRANT FarmWeek

The weather last week picked up right where the climatological spring (March through May) left off — wet across much of the state. Many farmers who still have crops to plant and fieldwork to complete as a result were rained out for much of the week. Overall, Illinois in May averaged 5.6 inches of rain, 1.34 inches above normal. Soil moisture the first of last week was rated 51 percent adequate with 49 percent surplus. “It was a very wet month,” said Jim Angel, state climatologist with the Illinois State Water Survey. “In fact, we’ve now had four wet Mays in a row.” Overall, Illinois for the March through May period averaged a whopping 15.4 inches of precipitation (4.3 inches above normal), which made it the seventh-wettest spring on record. The largest rainfall totals this spring were concentrated in Southern Illinois. Cairo from March to May received 30.9 inches, Brookport received 29.2 inches, and Carbondale was soaked with 27.6 inches. “The whole area south of I-64 really got hammered with heavy rain,” Angel said. Planting progress for the state as of the first of last week reached 94 percent for corn, 1 percent ahead of the five-year average, and 59 percent for soybeans, 5 percent behind the average pace. However, corn planting last week was just 56 percent complete in the southwest and 73 percent complete in the southeast districts of the state.

Farmers may be considering switching to earlier-maturing varieties or to soybeans. But Emerson Nafziger, University of Illinois Extension agronomist, said there really is no “drop-dead” date for planting. Instead, he said growers need to consider what yields they can expect as planting stretches into June. Using this information, they can decide at what point yield levels and added costs of planting will make the crop less profitable

than collecting insurance. Nafziger said growers can expect corn to lose about 25 percent of its maximum yield when planted the first few days of June, based on previous studies. Hybrids probably should not be changed to earliermaturing ones in Central and Southern Illinois, unless the first-choice hybrid in Central Illinois was late-maturing — above 114-day RM (relative maturity), he said. There shouldn’t be many

changes in other agronomic factors when planting is delayed into June, according to the agronomist. If nitrogen has not yet been applied, the N rate should be reduced by 10 to 15 percent. “Plant population needn’t be changed much, either, though on lighter soils planting rates shouldn’t be higher than the low 30,000s, since corn planted late is more likely to experience water stress,” he said. Meanwhile, wheat growers

should continue to monitor their crop for disease pressure, particularly as steamy temperatures moved into the state over the weekend. The wheat crop last week was rated 59 percent good to excellent, 29 percent fair, and 12 percent poor or very poor. Illinois is on the transitional line for this month’s forecast. The June forecast last week called for cool and wet conditions in the Upper Midwest and warm and dry conditions to the south.

‘Too late’ to plant a relative question It’s inevitable when corn and bean acreages remain unplanted in early June to ask, “When is it too late to plant?” “That answer depends on what insurance we have taken out,” said University of Illinois Extension agronomist Emerson Nafziger. “Between June 1 and June 15-20, we can expect to lose another 25 percent of potential yield, bringing yields down to about half their full potential. “Variability of realized yields following such late planting actually decreases some, but only because low yields become more likely and good yields become rare indeed.” The “glide path” for bean yields as planting is delayed into June is less steep than for corn, but the “half-yield” date for soybeans may be only a week or so later, perhaps two weeks later in Southern Illinois, Nafziger said. At current prices (with corn price per bushel only about half the bean price) soybeans offer a smaller margin to work with. This means the planting date at which returns are equal is later than

when the price ratio is less favorable to corn. “With some very heavy rain coupled with high temperatures following soybean planting this past week, we can expect some substantial stand loss, especially in the places

where water stood for a day or two,” Nafziger said. “There’s little guesswork here — soybean seed will barely last a day submerged at 85 or 90 degrees, especially if the germination process has started.

“Stand loss for both soybeans and corn will be common in low areas where water stood this past week, and replanting these low areas should be considered if it can be done within the next week or two.”


FarmWeek Page 8 Monday, June 6, 2011

USDA

Field hearing mulls future farmer, nutrition needs BY MARTIN ROSS FarmWeek

Earlier this year, Ag Secretary Tom Vilsack called for addition of 100,000 new farmers nationwide. Michigan cherry grower Ben LaCross last week offered Senate ag lawmakers a prescription for achieving that goal. LaCross, American Farm Bureau Federation Young Farmers and Ranchers Committee chairman, testified at the Senate Ag Committee’s first 2012 farm bill field hearing in Senate Ag Chairman Deb Stabenow’s (D.Mich.) home state. Stabenow indicated committee work on specific program priorities would begin after a fiscal 2012 budget is in place. That raises concerns about meeting Vilsack’s goals, given “the dire situation in Washington,” LaCross said in an RFD Radio-FarmWeek interview.

The government still has a role to play in helping newer farmers gain footing or take over family operations, LaCross said. A solid farm safety net is key to young farmer survival, he said, noting Michigan’s spring planting challenges and flooding in the Mississippi River basin. “Some of the challenges young farmers and ranchers are facing ... are the same things that have plagued young producers for years,” he said. “It’s been access to credit, transferring ownership from one generation to the next, and marketing limitations. “I think there are some great examples of young farmers and ranchers being creative in those financing decisions and ownership transfer decisions. “I hear great stories out there of people who haven’t grown up on a farm working for a farmer who wants to

retire in 10 years and using some of that work as sweat equity toward transferring the farm to themselves. “USDA has done a pretty good job in trying to find lowinterest loans and beginning farmer and rancher loans to help young producers get into agriculture. I think that’s going to be even more of a challenge in the next five years, as we come into this new farm bill.” LaCross shares with grain producers concerns that Congress maintain a program safety net to ensure “weather and market fluctuations won’t take us out of the market.” Funding for the 2008 farm bill’s Supplemental Revenue (SURE) disaster program — a program that’s proven “fairly successful for some of our growers in the specialty crop industry” — runs out this year, and he urged preservation of SURE with some adjustments

to address “more localized disasters.” He said he favors HouseSenate proposals to permanently reinstate “greatly needed” five-year depreciation for farm machinery. And he urged Congress to move beyond December’s two-year estate tax reprieve to a permanent solution that offers long-term certainty for farm families. LaCross said that security is “crucially important” to his family’s operation: His parents have been forced to purchase a $30,000 life insurance policy to cover potential estate tax liability and ensure “we can continue farming.” “That (cost) could be put back into the economy, to create another job,” he argued. He sees an adequately funded USDA playing a critical role in helping not only open new market opportunities but also assuring diverse opportunities

within school lunch and other nutrition programs. He noted a bias in school feeding programs against dried cherries and other processed fruits and vegetables — products of “a value-added industry that creates jobs” and taps various commodities as co-ingredients. “It was an eye-opening experience to see all the local food systems people and nutrition directors from school districts at this (Senate Ag) hearing,” LaCross noted. “They have a stake in what comes out of this farm bill. “The tart cherry industry treats the USDA feeding programs as a customer — a great customer for us. We want to continue that customer relationship and make sure that our product and, I’m sure, hundreds of other commodity products, get into the hands and mouths of those people who need them.”

MyPlate encourages healthier food choices BY DANIEL GRANT FarmWeek

U.S. consumers, who live in a world where supersized meals and televised eating competitions have become commonplace, were reminded last week it is possible to have too much of a good thing. USDA last week unveiled a new food icon, MyPlate, designed to encourage consumers to build healthy eating habits by seeking more information about the food and portions they pile on their plates. The icon and detailed information about food choices, available online at {www.ChooseMyPlate.gov}, replace the well-known food pyramid. The dietary recommendations are based on the 2010 Dietary Guidelines for America, released in January. “With so many food options available to consumers, it is often difficult to determine the best foods to put on our plates when building a healthy meal,” said Tom Vilsack, ag secretary. “MyPlate is an uncomplicated symbol to help remind people to think about their food choices in order to lead healthier lifestyles.”

First Lady Michelle Obama and U.S. Surgeon General Regina Benjamin are two key supporters of the new MyPlate initiative. The new dietary guidelines encourage consumers to enjoy their food, but eat less, and to avoid oversized portions. About one-third of chil-

dren and more than twothirds of adults in the U.S. are overweight or obese, according to USDA. “Many Americans are in a caloric imbalance — they consume more (calories) than they expend,” said Robert Prost, deputy director of the USDA Center for Nutrition Policy and Promotion. USDA in response, via the dietary guidelines and MyPlate icon, encourage consumers to make half their plate fruits and vegetables, switch to fat-free or low-fat milk, make at least half their grains whole grains, compare

FarmWeekNow.com Learn more about the new USDA MyPlate food icon at FarmWeekNow.com.

sodium in foods and choose food with lower numbers, and drink water instead of sugary drinks. The average American consumes about 3,400 milligrams of sodium per day compared to the recommended 2,300 milligrams per day. Meanwhile, about 7 percent of an average American’s daily caloric intake is derived from sugar-sweetened beverages. U.S. agriculture, because of its ability to produce large amounts of food at affordable prices, often has been blamed for America’s obesity issue. But MyPlate’s emphasis on numerous ag products, from low-fat milk and whole grains to lean beef, as essentials to a healthy diet last week drew praise from ag groups. “Dairy foods are rightfully being recognized, from the school house to the White House, as an important part of everyone’s diet,” said Jerry Kozak, CEO of the National Milk Producers Federation. Bill Donald, president of the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association, said of MyPlate: “Consumers need to know that lean beef supplies nearly half of their daily value for protein, as well as nine other essential nutrients.

“The MyPlate icon makes it easy for consumers to enjoy lean beef while meeting the

recommendation to fill half of their plate with fruits and vegetables.”

Pinker pork OK

USDA lowers temp guideline New cooking guidelines from the nation’s food-safety agency confirm Pork Checkoff research that shows pork can be consumed safely when cooked to an internal temperature of 145 degrees, followed by a three-minute rest time. The guidelines were announced last week by the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Food Safety Inspection Service (FSIS). The new recommended temperature is a significant 15 degrees less than what was previously recommended and typically will yield a finished product that is pinker in color than that to which most home cooks are accustomed. “Our consumer research has consistently shown that Americans have a tendency to overcook common cuts of pork, resulting in a less-than-optimal eating experience,” said Dianne Bettin, a pork producer from Truman, Minn., and chairman of the checkoff ’s Domestic Marketing Committee. “The new guidelines will help consumers enjoy pork at its most flavorful, juicy, and safe temperature.” The revised recommendation applies to pork whole-muscle cuts, such as loin, chops, and roasts. Ground pork, like all ground meat, should be cooked to 160 degrees. Regardless of cut or cooking method, both USDA and the National Pork Board recommend using a digital cooking thermometer to ensure an accurate final temperature. The new recommendation evolved from a 2007 Pork Checkoff-funded research project conducted by Ohio State University to measure consumer eating preferences. “It’s great news that home cooks can now feel confident to enjoy medium-rare pork, like they do with other meats,” said Guy Fieri, a chef, restaurateur, and host of several foodfocused television programs. “Pork cooked to this temperature will be juicy and tender.” The new recommendation reflects advances in both food safety and nutritional content of pork in recent years. On average, most common cuts of pork are 16 percent leaner than they were 20 years ago, and saturated fat has dropped 27 percent. In fact, pork tenderloin is now as lean as the leanest type of chicken —- a skinless chicken breast. Additional information about cooking pork, including recipes, is available online at PorkBeInspired.com, or Facebook.com/PorkBeInspired.


Page 9 Monday, June 6, 2011 FarmWeek

MARKETS

Switch to ethanol seamless for NASCAR Wallace passionate farmer spokesman BY DANIEL GRANT FarmWeek

All race cars and trucks in NASCAR’s three national series this season have used ethanol (Sunoco Green E15) instead of unleaded gasoline, and the switch so far has been seamless. In fact, some drivers believe there is additional horsepower while the effect on fuel mileage reportedly has been minimal. “Ethanol is a high-performance fuel,” veteran driver Kenny Wallace, who last month became only the second driver to make 500 career starts in the Nationwide Series, told FarmWeek. “We see nothing negative (with the switch to E15). It’s like we never changed fuels.” NASCAR racers this season are expected to burn a total of

about 450,000 gallons of the corn-based fuel. “If it could withstand the endurance of what we put it through on the race track, then it can handle the roads of America,” Clint Bowyer, driver for the Richard Childress Racing Team, said on the American Ethanol website. Wallace is a big proponent of the switch to ethanol. In fact, about three years ago he ventured from his hometown of St. Louis to the Illinois Corn Growers/Marketing Board office in Bloomington with the intent of becoming an ethanol advocate. “I made the trip to Illinois with a couple of (promotional DVDs),” Wallace said. “My objective was to become the spokesperson for ethanol.” Wallace not only landed a sponsorship — last weekend he drove the Family Farmers High Performance Team car at the Nationwide Series event at

WTO concludes COOL violates the trade rules BY MARTIN ROSS FarmWeek

The World Trade Organization (WTO) tentatively has determined U.S. country of origin labeling (COOL) violates global trade rules. National Cattlemen’s Beef Association President Bill Donald applauds the WTO’s preliminary ruling, labeling it proof mandatory retail meat labeling was a “poor decision.” Illinois Beef Association Executive Vice President Maralee Johnson told FarmWeek COOL has left today’s consumer lukewarm while providing questionably meaningful information. The WTO plans in September to issue a formal ruling in response to Canada and Mexico’s complaint against COOL. The WTO’s preliminary ruling concluded U.S. COOL requirements violate provisions of the organization’s agreement on Technical Barriers to Trade (TBT). WTO ruled COOL requirements do not fulfill a stated U.S. FarmWeekNow.com objective of helping inform Listen to Maralee Johnson’s consumers of the origin of comments about COOL at meat and, consequently, violate FarmWeekNow.com. the TBT agreement. COOL was aimed at helping U.S. consumers reach meat-buying decisions, and was not intended as any kind of food safety initiative. That was the goal of federal animal identification efforts, though failure to implement a cohesive national ID program also raises questions about the effectiveness of U.S. country labeling, Johnson said. Further, retail labeling may only confuse consumers confronted with ground beef identified as being of mixed U.S., Canadian, and/or Mexican origin, she said. “When we first saw implementation of COOL, people were alarmed,” she said. “They didn’t want ‘Product of U.S., Canada, and Mexico.’ “But since that initial ‘shock,’ I don’t think anybody pays any attention to (labeling) anymore.” Donald maintained many proponents of mandatory COOL believed labeling would reduce imports of Canadian or Mexican feeder cattle and would boost U.S. feeder cattle prices. Instead, reducing the number of animals in the marketplace “reduces the infrastructure of the U.S. beef industry,” negatively impacting “the value of all feeder cattle in Mexico, the United States, and Canada,” he said. Johnson sees the average U.S. consumer as far more concerned about meat price than about the fine print of origin labeling.

Chicagoland Speedway in Joliet — he also is achieving his goal of serving as a spokesman for farmers and the ethanol industry. The Family Farmers coalition includes the Illinois Corn Marketing Board and the Illinois Soybean Association. “I met with farmers last year who said they felt like they were beat down, and the public looks to them as the reason for high food prices,” said Wallace, who also is a race analyst on Speed TV. “That’s when I got passionate. “I want to tell (farmers’) story,” he continued. “I’m lucky to have a platform and be the voice for American ethanol and American farmers.” For instance, Wallace talks about corn yield advancements that will help maintain an adequate supply of the crop. He also educates consumers about the different kinds of corn, ranging from No. 2 yellow — used primarily for feed and ethanol production — to white corn and sweet corn, which are consumed by humans. “With such great advancements in yields (yearly corn production from 1980 to 2010 increased 87.5 percent, according to The Fertilizer Institute), there is more corn than ever,” Wallace said. “Food vs. fuel simply is not true.” Wallace, 47, hopes to con-

tinue racing and serve as a spokesman for farmers and ethanol for at least three more years, at which point he could be ready to retire. “The word ‘passion’ comes up a lot for me. At 47, when I race, it’s no different than when I was 12 and playing baseball,” he said. “My favorite moment is getting in

a car and starting it up.” Racing definitely is in Wallace’s blood. Kenny’s older brother, Mike, and nephew, Steve, currently are drivers in the Nationwide Series and his eldest brother, Rusty, is a retired driver and former Sprint Cup champion who currently is a television race analyst.

Kenny Wallace, veteran NASCAR driver, has become an avid spokesman for American farmers and ethanol. NASCAR this season began using E15 (15 percent ethanol) fuel in its three national series. Wallace, who drives for the Family Farmers High Performance Team supported in part by the Illinois Corn Marketing Board (ICMB) and Illinois Soybean Association, last week said racers have reported no problems with the “green” fuel. (Photo by Tricia Braid, ICMB)


FarmWeek Page 10 Monday, June 6, 2011

WHEAT

Wheat looks to technology despite GMO challenges BY MARTIN ROSS FarmWeek

Dave DeVore hopes his grower-suppliers someday will have access to the genetic tools that have helped significantly boost corn and soybean yields. A wet April raised concerns about wheat scab emergence, which can lead to vomitoxin development, noted DeVore, merchandiser with Siemer Milling Co. in Teutopolis. Vomitoxin contamination limits feed and food uses and necessitates inspection of every load that arrives at the miller, he said. DeVore suggested growers this year may have “dodged” a scab outbreak, but he cited vomitoxin issues in 2009 and 2010. Wheat growers have been “trailing corn and beans” in terms of available biotech improvements that could address scab and other yieldquality concerns, he said. Monsanto shelved Roundup Ready wheat development in 2004 amid con-

cerns from millers and food companies but revived its wheat genetics program after Australian, Canadian, and U.S. wheat groups agreed to support GMO commercialization. “You’ve seen the advantage of that research with corn varieties — where we’ve come in the last 15 years with yields and the impact that’s had,” DeVore told FarmWeek. “Hopefully, (biotech wheat development) will continue, and over the course of the next 10 years, we’ll begin to see (gains) with wheat varieties.” Recent challenges to Roundup Ready alfalfa and sugar beets nonetheless have revived fears of new obstacles. Roundup Ready beets were deregulated in 2005, but a U.S. district court banned planting last August after ruling USDA’s product approval was illegal. Wheat groups warned that ruling “dramatically impacts growers and processors of raw commodities who have made significant financial decisions

and legally binding obligations” based on the technology. USDA since issued a “par-

production pending USDA environmental analysis of the product. Monsanto reported

‘Hopefully, (biotech wheat development) will continue, and over the course of the next 10 years, we’ll begin to see (gains) with wheat varieties.’ — Dave DeVore grain merchandiser

tial deregulation” allowing GMO beet production in 2011. The Supreme Court last year reversed a lower court ban on Roundup Ready alfalfa

“strong seed sales” of its GMO alfalfa this season. Champaign County producer John Reifsteck, a board member with the group Truth

about Trade and Technology, told FarmWeek the courts and USDA eventually “got to the right place,” but “took a side trip that was not beneficial.” “The real risk we had with Roundup Ready alfalfa was legitimizing the idea that you could have ‘pollution by pollen’ — that pollen that could drift onto somebody else could be cause for legal and, certainly, regulatory action,” Reifsteck related. “Long-term, that would have been a very difficult and dangerous precedent. It wasn’t based on science — it was based on some other group of issues.”

Wheat R&D under way via ‘tiered’ approach Roundup Ready wheat may not be on the menu. But Monsanto is back in the wheat business — with industry guidance. Monsanto wheat program spokesman Sara Miller stressed “we’re not currently working on Roundup Ready

wheat” — the focus of controversy that prompted Monsanto’s 2004 suspension of wheat research and development (see accompanying story). But the St. Louis company has revived its wheat program in what Miller termed a “tiered” approach. Monsanto’s current focus is on “delivering high-performing, locally adapted varieties across all the major (U.S. wheat) classes,” through Westbred LLC, a company it acquired in 2009, she reported. Moving forward, Monsanto plans to incorporate genetic marker-assisted research and other tools that have led to identification and development of improved traits in corn and soybean varieties. The goal is to enhance “sustainability and profitability” through higher wheat yields, Miller said. “Longer term, we’re going to use those seeds to serve as kind of the germplasm foundation that will introduce biotech traits,” she told FarmWeek. “Some of what

we’re working on through breeding and then transgenic (biotech) approaches are things like drought tolerance, water use efficiency, nitrogen use efficiency, disease resistance, and, overall, just higher-yielding, stress-tolerant wheat. “We see some of the breeding work happening in the next five to seven years, with some of the biotech stuff more in 10 years and beyond.” Miller is buoyed by newfound support for improvements among millers and others who, in her view, have recognized the need for producer-suppliers to compete with “other crops that have gotten a lot of investment over the years.” She nonetheless acknowledged the special considerations attached to a wheat crop raised primarily for food rather than feed. “It’s definitely going to take everyone in the industry really working closely together to make all of this happen in the coming years,” Miller maintained. — Martin Ross


Page 11 Monday, June 6, 2011 FarmWeek

EMERGING ISSUES

Video letters, tour bring farm ‘to life’ for students Farmer experiences epiphany as well BY KAY SHIPMAN FarmWeek

Chicago suburban fourth graders knew Lee County Farm Bureau member Katie Pratt, her family, and farm from the video letters she sent to them during the school year. But the farm and family really came to life when nearly 40 of those students and adults toured Pratt’s farm near Dixon and her parents’ farm near Amboy on May 26. The students from St. Vincent Ferrer, River Forest, and their teacher, Sarah FineKoukol, were matched with Pratt through Illinois Farm Bureau’s Adopt a Classroom program. Pratt taught the stu-

dents about farming and farm life through letters and short videos. “I did videos about our grain storage facility, harvest, a day in the life of a farm kid — featuring my kids, our family’s annual Christmas tree cutting, winter work in the shop, planting the garden, and moving cattle,” Pratt said last week. “When you are explaining things to fourth graders, pictures tend to hold their attention longer and can trigger even more curiosity,” she noted. While on Pratt’s farm, the students saw firsthand the farm equipment, the grain bins, and the garden. They focused on farm animals while touring the farm of Gail and Jane Dallam, Pratt’s parents. During the school year, the

Institute overseeing state surveys renamed The state scientific surveys haven’t changed or moved from the University of Illinois, but the institute that oversees them has a new name — Prairie Research Institute. The new name better reflects the combined efforts and large body of work produced for Illinois by the five scientific surveys, said Libby Johnston, the institute’s communications director. Illinois Farm Bureau is a member of the institute’s advisory committee. The five surveys are the Illinois State Geological Survey, the Illinois Natural History Survey, the Illinois State Water Survey, the Illinois Sustainable Technology Center, and the Illinois State Archaeological Survey, the latter of which joined the institute last year. In 2008, the Illinois General

Assembly placed the surveys back under the auspices of the U of I and created the Institute for Natural Sciences and Sustainability. Prior to the switch, the surveys were overseen by the Illinois Department of Natural Resources. However the institute’s original name was cumbersome, and some people confused it with other institutes on the U of I’s Urbana campus, according to William Shilts, the institute’s executive director. The new name gives the surveys’ research activities an appropriate geographical context compared to the old name, Shilts noted. The U of I Board of Trustees and the Illinois Board of Higher Education recently approved the name change. The Prairie Research Institute has 700 employees and a fiscal year 2010 budget of more than $68 million. The website is {www.prairie.ill inois.edu} — Kay Shipman

Auction Calendar

Sat., June 25. 10 a.m. Farmland Real Estate Auction. Randy Gobeli, SEWARD, IL. Pro Auctions, LLC. www.mudcreekfarms.com/proauctions.html Sat., June 25. 1 p.m. Consignment Auction. SANDWICH, IL. www.oldegine.org/memebers/sa ndwich Sat., June 25. 10 a.m. Land Auction. HECKER, IL. Buy A Farm. buyafarm.com Fri., July 15. 9 a.m. Consignment Auction. TREMONT, IL. Cal Kaufman and Brent Schmidgall, Auctioneers. calkaufmanauction.com or brentschmidgallauction.com Tues., July 19. Ag Eq. Consignment Auction. Taylor and Martin Real Estate/Ag Sales, LLC. www.tmras.com

Tues., June 7. 10 a.m. 77.26 Ac. McLean Co. Soy Capital Ag Services. www.soycapitalag.com Fri., June 10. 10 a.m. Farmland Auction. Dorelle Denman/Trust 2061, EARLVILLE, IL. Dick McConville, Marty McConville, Joe McConville, Auctioneers. www.mcconvillerealty.com Sat., June 11. 10 a.m. LaSalle Co. Land Auction. NEWARK, IL. Richard A. Olson, Auctioneer. richardaolson.com Tues., June 21. 1 p.m. 440 Ac. Mason Co. MASON CITY, IL. Murray Wise Associates LLC. murraywiseassociates.com Thurs., June 23. 10 a.m. Henderson Co. Land Auction. Harvey Lubelchek Revocable Trust, GLADSTONE, IL. Sullivan Auctioneers, LLC. www..sullivanauctioneers.com

students’ questions evolved from asking if the Pratts had running water to wondering how they cared for livestock during blizzards. The farm tour “brings farming to life, not only for the students, but also for their parents who often serve as chaperones,” Pratt noted. The parents’ questions were intriguing and are causing Pratt to reconsider the type of information she tells students. The parents’ questions ran the gamut from corporate farms to farm technology and from antibiotic use in livestock to where farm families get their food. “While it is important to explain how we care for the land and our livestock, I think it is even more important to explain how we live, how the farm is a part of our life, and how we aren’t that different from our city cousins,” Pratt said. “The farm visit serves as a great reminder to those of us in agriculture how great the divide is between city and country, consumers and farmers. And how much we need to continue to advocate for our livelihood,” she concluded.

Lee County Farm Bureau member Billie Childs is shown discussing dairy goats with fourth-grade students from St. Vincent Ferrer School, River Forest. Another Lee County Farm Bureau member, Katie Dallam Pratt (not pictured), has corresponded with the students through the Adopt a Classroom program. The students, their teacher, and chaperones recently toured a couple of Lee County farms. (Photo by Danelle DeSmith, Lee County Farm Bureau manager)


FarmWeek Page 12 Monday, June 6, 2011

IFB IN ACTION DIALOGUE FROM A BOG Bob DeGrandchamp, who owns DeGrandchamp Farms with his two brothers in South Haven, Mich., addresses participants of the recent Midwest Farm Bureau Commodities Conference from the state’s first and only cranberry bog. He explained the crop is “floated off” in the fall by flooding the bog and threshing the berries off of the runners. The cranberries are then brought to one end of the bog and sucked into a standard grain wagon for transport to processing. Farms near the eastern side of Lake Michigan have a unique microclimate that allows many fruits and vegetables to thrive in their sandy, acidic soils. Michigan is second only to California in the diversity of its agriculture. (Photo by Jim Fraley, Illinois Farm Bureau livestock program director)

GrassRoots Issue Teams seeking 2012 applicants Farm Bureau members interested in addressing emerging policy issues and identifying new educational programs have until Aug. 11 to submit application for the Illinois Farm Bureau GrassRoots Issue Teams (GRITs) program. The goal is to increase farm income for members. The eight teams are: conservation and natural resources; crop production and trade; equine; livestock and dairy; renewable resources and energy; risk management and farm programs; rural life; and specialty crops and labor. GRITs members meet twice a year. The first meeting is scheduled for Jan. 17 in Bloomington and the second will be the following March. Additional meetings, either in person or by conference call, may be held as needed. IFB reimburses appropriate expenses including mileage for the two scheduled meetings. Interested members should contact their county Farm Bureau or visit the IFB website at {www.ilfb.org} to obtain an application. GRITs members will be announced in October.

Ag pesticide collection set in 11 southern counties Residents of 11 Southern Illinois counties have an opportunity for free disposal of unwanted agrichemicals through the Illinois Department of Agriculture’s (IDOA) agricultural pesticide Clean Sweep program. The registration deadline is July 15. A Clean Sweep collection has been scheduled in late summer for Alexander, Gallatin, Hardin, Jackson, Johnson, Massac, Pope, Pulaski, Saline, Union, and Williamson counties. The collection program, which rotates among Illinois counties, is open to farmers, retired farmers, nursery owners, private pesticide applicators, and landowners who inherited unwanted agricultural pesticides with their property. “There are two big reasons to take advantage of this program,” said Warren Goetsch, bureau chief of IDOA’s environmental programs. “First, it’s free. If individuals were to properly dispose of agrichemicals on their own, the cost would be expensive. “But the department is able to provide the service

free of charge thanks to a grant it obtained from the U.S. EPA (Environmental Protection Agency). “Second, the State of Illinois, not the program participant, will assume liability for the proper disposal of all materials collected.” Participants must register the products they plan to dispose of by July 15. Registration is required to give the waste disposal contractor time to prepare to handle different materials. Forms may be obtained either by calling IDOA’s pesticide hotline at 800641-3934 or visiting the county Farm Bureau office in each participating county. County Farm Bureaus, Soil and Water Conservation Districts, and Extension units are sponsoring the collections. Completed forms should be mailed or faxed to the IDOA. The mailing address is: Clean Sweep Program, Illinois Department of Agriculture, State Fairgrounds, Box 19281, Springfield, Ill., 62794-9281. The fax number is 217-524-4882. Participants will receive a reservation card indicating the date, time, and location for their collection.


Page 13 Monday, June 6, 2011 FarmWeek

FROM THE COUNTIES

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ARROLL — The Carroll, Ogle, and Winnebago County Farm Bureaus are sponsoring a bus trip Monday, June 27, to the Chicago Board of Trade and Federal Reserve Bank. Cost is $25. Call the Farm Bureau office at 815-244-3001 for reservations or more information. ORD-IROQUOIS — An “On the Road” seminar will be at 7 p.m. Wednesday, June 15, at the Farm Bureau office. Kevin Rund, Illinois Farm Bureau senior director of local government, and representatives from the Illinois Department of Transportation will be the speakers. Call the Farm Bureau office for more information. EE — Lee, Ogle, Whiteside County Farm Bureaus, and Sauk Valley Bank will sponsor a “Managing Crop Risks in Volatile Times” at 7 p.m. Wednesday, June 15, at the Comfort Inn, Dixon. Steve Johnson, Iowa State University Extension farm and ag business management specialist, will be the speaker. Call the Farm Bureau office at 857-3531 or e-mail leecfb@comcast.net by Friday for reservations or more information. CDONOUGH — A “Managing Crop Risks in Volatile Times” seminar will be at 7 p.m. Monday, June 13, at the Spoon River Outreach Center. Steve Johnson, Iowa State University Extension farm and ag business management specialist, will be the speaker. Call the Farm Bureau office at 309837-3350 for reservations or more information. CLEAN — Farm Bureau will sponsor a bus trip Thursday, June 16, to Wrigley Field to see the Chicago Cubs vs. the Milwaukee Brewers game. The bus will leave the Interstate Center in

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Bloomington at 8 a.m. Cost is $60, which includes bus and ticket. Lunch on your own. Call the Farm Bureau office at 309-663-6497 for reservations or more information. ERCER — A market outlook meeting will be at 7:30 p.m. Thursday at the Farm Bureau office. Dan Zwicker, ADM market analyst, will be the speaker. Call the Farm Bureau office for more information. EORIA — The summer Market Outlook meeting will be at 6:30 p.m. Tuesday, June 21, at Farm Bureau Park. Raber’s will serve a pork chop meal. Cost is $5. Luke Hickey and Brian Basting, Advanced Trading, will be the speakers. Call the Farm Bureau office for more information. • The annual golf scramble will be at 7 a.m. Saturday, July 16, at Laurel Greens, Peoria. Cost is $25, which includes golf and cart. Reservation forms are available at the Farm Bureau office or on the website {www.peoriacountyfarmbureau.org}. OCK ISLAND — A market outlook meeting “Managing Crop Risks in Volatile Times” will be at 6:15 p.m. Thursday, June 16, at the St. Paul Lutheran Church, Orion. A buffet dinner will be served. Steve Johnson, Iowa State University Extension farm and ag business management specialist, will be the speaker. Mike Schaver, Gold Star FS grain merchandiser, will provide an update. Cost is $18, unless paid for the series. Call the Farm Bureau office at 309736-7432 for reservations or more information. • Farm Bureau will sponsor a bus trip Friday, Aug. 5, to see the Chicago Cubs vs. the Cincinnati Reds game at Wrigley Field. The bus will

EXPLAINING CORN PLANTING

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Julie Mellert of rural Canton explains what goes into planting corn to students from St. Germaine Parish School, Oak Lawn. The 39 students from the fourth grade classes of teachers Carol Scannell and Peggy Gordon also visited the Carlberg family dairy farm, near Canton. Fulton County Farm Bureau board members corresponded with the students during the past school year. Using “Farmer Stanley” (the Farm Bureau’s version of the popular character “Flat Stanley”) directors took pictures of Stanley doing activities on the farm and sent the pictures and narratives to the classrooms. Farm Bureau members also routinely provided the fourth graders with Ag in the Classroom activities and supplies and Ag Mags that corresponded to farm activities. (Photo by Ken Kashian)

leave at 7 a.m. from the Farm Bureau parking lot. Cost is $85. Call the Farm Bureau office at 309-736-7432 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 Farm Bureau manager.


FarmWeek Page 15 Monday, June 6, 2011

PROFITABILITY Corn Strategy

C A S H S T R AT E G I S T Don’t ignore demand details Another year of planting difficulties here in the U.S. and scattered growing problems around the world have kept the focus on the supply side of the fundamental structure in the grain markets. But the persistence of high prices has a corrosive effect on demand. And today, those demand ingredients are a little different, for corn in particular. The surge in demand for ethanol processing makes corn demand more vulnerable to changing economic parameters and their impact on gasoline demand. Although it’s a little soon to detect a good trend for gasoline demand, anecdotal evidence indicates higher prices have curtailed usage. Data from one firm indicate gasoline demand over the last four weeks has declined 2 to 2.5 percent from last year. And with ethanol now a major component, as demand for gasoline goes, so will go demand for ethanol, implying ethanol demand should be down a similar amount. The livestock industry has been feeling the brunt of high grain prices the last few weeks. As grain prices have stayed strong, or moved higher, livestock futures have collapsed. Significant changes in production have been scant so far, but the longer the situation persists, the stronger the pressure will become to reduce output. Broiler producers have cut egg sets about 2 percent in recent weeks, but their chick placements continue to hold at, or slightly above last year’s level. Pork producers are starting to feel the heat as well, unless they have feed inputs covered well into next year. The ratio

between December lean hog futures and December corn has dropped below 9-to-1, below a level that historically has been associated with liquidation. We may get some insight in the June 24 hogs and pigs report, but that insight may not come until the Sept. 28 report. Cattle on feed numbers have risen sharply, but that’s more of a function of the drought conditions in the Southern Plains. And because of the long gestation cycle, producers cannot change as quickly as poultry or pork producers. None of this begins to address the economic uncertainties in China and the demand repercussions the Chinese might have. A major economic consulting group believes a “sudden” economic slowdown in China could cut commodity prices as much as 75 percent. While that may not occur, the Chinese appear to be having some success slowing growth. While demand deterioration may not be of much concern until everyone gets comfortable with supply, when the focus shifts, all you will hear is how much demand has deteriorated and how low prices might drop. We aren’t there yet, but given the age of this bull market, grain markets may not be that far away from a change. In addition, data continue to indicate that money has left the commodity arena. Even though there’s still a chance of seeing new highs, risk has gotten too large for investors. This leaves the market with little buying interest when the tide changes. As usual, prices likely will fall faster than they have gone up. It’s always happened and always will, maybe even more so in this new paradigm of “bubble” markets. Having said that, in the short term, supply factors could still carry prices higher. One thing is certain — there should be a lot of volatility.

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2010 crop: Corn prices rebounded on speculation surrounding planting and the potential size of the 2011 corn crop. We still think it wise to wrap up sales at these prices. Hedge-to-arrive (HTA) contracts for summer delivery are the best tool, unless you are at a location that is offering an unusually good basis. 2011 crop: A December futures close above the $6.85 high keeps the short-term trend pointed up. Psychologically, it might be difficult for it to clear $7. Sales should have been pushed up to 50 percent of a conservative yield. HTAs for fall or early-winter delivery are the best tool for sales. Fundamentals: Planting delays in Ohio and Indiana and across the northern Corn Belt remain the key focus, with a lot of talk about producers possibly taking insurance “prevented planting” payments in lieu of planting any crops on some land. A private firm forecast corn plantings at 87.2 million acres, well below the 92.2 million USDA March intentions.

Soybean Strategy 2010 crop: Demand for old-crop soybeans is steady at best, with the larger ending stocks having shifted the emphasis to new-crop fundamentals. Use strength to wrap up old-crop sales. 2011 crop: Soybean prices continue to take their lead from the other grains. But doubts about planting bolster new-crop prices. November again is testing $14, a level that rejected rallies earlier this year. Use this rally to that level to get new-crop sales to 50 percent of a conservative yield. We continue to prefer fall and earlywinter HTA contracts. Fundamentals: Talk about use of the prevented planting feature on insurance contracts is enhancing thoughts that soybean plantings could fall below the needed level. Still, high insurance guarantees could shift some acreage to soybeans, as well as increase double-crop plantings. Chinese acreage will decline slightly, but there are indica-

tions protein demand may be softening in China, which could limit import needs.

Wheat Strategy 2011 crop: Wheat broke following news that Russia will resume exports on July 1. Domestic and international weather issues kept the weakness from turning into a rout. If Chicago July futures can close above $8, the short-term trend could turn up again. Plan to increase sales to 65 percent if Chicago July trades above $8.50. Stay close to the Hotline as we could adjust our target at anytime. We prefer

HTA contracts, especially for winter delivery, if you have the capability to store wheat. Fundamentals: Wheat reacted negatively to news that Russia would resume exports. However, questions linger about the amount of quality wheat it will be able to offer. In addition, there is talk the Russians could impose an export tariff that could restrict the flow of their wheat into the world market. Still, weather in the Northern Plains and southern Canada may be the most important short-term market factor. Rains in the Northwest heightened the probability of reduced acreage.


FarmWeek Page 16 Monday, June 6, 2011

PERSPECTIVES

This summer may be one corn crop for the records

30, 2011, the legislative authority for these five programs expires and they will, in essence, cease to exist. What does this mean to you, the producer? It means that, although we hope a farmer or rancher never requires disaster assistance, no industry is more vulnerable to nature’s wrath than agriculture and the odds are, if you’re in the industry very long, you will indeed experience your fair share of setbacks — compliments of Mother Nature. Permanent disaster legislation offers producers some peace of mind that, in time of need, FSA can be immediately responsive. To date, row-crop and livestock producers nationwide have received more than $2.9 billion in assistance from FSA for qualifying losses resulting from natural disasters. These dollars are, in turn, pumped back into the rural economy as producers purchase inputs, hire contractors, or procure whatever is necessary to get back on their feet and back to the business of farming and ranching. If you want to see similar disaster legislation in the next farm bill, now is the time to make your voice heard. Commodity organizations, elected officials, and special-interest groups need to know your thoughts on disaster programs as they set out to craft the next farm bill. The faster a producer recovers from a natural disaster, the better for everyone, including the consumer who can continue to enjoy the abundant, safe, and affordable food and fiber that we, as Americans, have come to expect. So when it’s the bottom of the ninth, Mother Nature steps up to the plate with bases loaded and she knocks one out of the park, make sure disaster assistance legislation is in place to level the playing field. And never forget — USDA’s FSA is always on your team.

Much of the activity in the fields around West-Central Illinois has been farmers getting their corn planted. The question now becomes how big will be the crop and how will prices respond? While private forecasters have been guessing the size of this year’s corn crop, the key report comes from USDA. That report, the first official estimate of the size of the recently planted crop, is now out. The day the new USDA forecasts came out, corn prices dropped 30 cents a bushel. While those prices have recovered, that one-day price drop would have cost the average McDonough County corn farmer almost $50 an acre. USDA is forecasting several interesting things. The first is the size of the corn crop. It is forecast to be the largest on record — 3 percent above the previous record. If yields turn out as high as two years ago, this year’s corn crop would be almost 8 percent above the previous record. Last May, in the first USDA report for the crop harvested last fall, production also was expected to be a record — even larger than this year’s crop. The WILLIAM average yield turned out to be 6 bushels BAILEY an acre less than expected, and actual production was almost 1 billion bushels below USDA’s May forecast. Another area of interest is ending stocks — how much corn will be left in the bin at the end of the crop year as the new corn crop is harvested. Last May’s USDA ending stock estimate was not even close to what eventually happened. The amount of corn in the bin at the start of this year’s harvest is the smallest since 1995. That simple fact is the key reason markets are nervous. Even with record production forecast, USDA does not expect next year’s ending stocks to grow very much because demand remains strong. The final area of interest is the number important to any farmer — price. Each year, USDA projects the expected average price for the coming crop year. Last year, it forecast corn prices to average $3.20 to $3.80 a bushel. Its current price forecast for last year’s crop is $5.10 to $5.40, a 50 percent increase. The record crop forecast did not appear, and prices responded. This year, USDA is forecasting both a record crop and record prices. Its estimate of season average prices for this year’s corn crop is $5.50 to $6.50. With corn prices currently very high, even with a record crop forecast, it is not difficult to anticipate considerable volatility in corn prices this summer. Weather markets are always exciting — rain, heat, not enough or too much of one or both. This summer could be one for the record books.

Scherrie Giamanco is state executive director for the Illinois FSA.

William Bailey is director of Western Illinois University’s School of Agriculture. His e-mail address is WC-Bailey@wiu.edu.

Time for Agriculture, baseball, & Mother Nature

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hat do agriculture, baseball, and Mother Nature have in common? Any farmer or rancher will tell you, without hesitation, that in the competitive industry that is agriculture, Mother Nature ALWAYS bats cleanup and nine times out of 10, she bats for the opposition. She’ll make or break you every time. To date, crop year 2011 has been exceptionally tough for farmers and ranchers. That which isn’t drying up from drought, burning up in wildfires, or blowing away in tornadoes is being swept downstream by torrential SCHERRIE flooding. It’s an unfortunate reality GIAMANCO that somewhere in the U.S., this very minute, a farmer or rancher is battling the elements — and as most agricultural producers know all too well: You win some and lose some. What happens when you lose? Prior to the 2008 farm bill, a row-crop or livestock producer was at the mercy of lawmakers to approve ad hoc funding for emergency disaster assistance. It literally took an act of Congress for USDA’s Farm Service Agency (FSA) to get much-needed recovery assistance to producers impacted by natural disasters. The process was tedious, time-consuming, and budget-dependent. Fast forward to the 2008 when Congress passed legislation providing for five “permanent” disaster assistance programs: the Supplemental Revenue Assistance Payment Program (SURE), Livestock Indemnity Program (LIP), Livestock Forage Disaster Program (LFP), Emergency Assistance for Livestock, Honeybees, and Farm-Raised Fish Program (ELAP), and the Tree Assistance Program (TAP). All are administered by FSA. So, how “permanent” is permanent? The truth is these disaster assistance programs are only “permanent” for the life of the 2008 farm bill. As of Sept.

LETTERS TO THE EDITOR Reader takes issue with Block comments Editor: John Block’s article in your May 23, 2011 issue compared “factory farming” with other factories in our country and declared that both were using “much less labor.” He claims that is “progress” and says, “That just frees up more people to work on the Internet or something else.” Maybe he hasn’t heard that the labor that’s been freed up from factories, whether on the farm or in the cities, is now on unemployment or trying to live

on food stamps and no income at all. Mr. Block, I haven’t heard anyone else call that progress, and you apparently haven’t heard about the worst recession since the Great Depression. Maybe you should go work “on the Internet or something else” instead of the farm and see how you like it. RAMONA C. COOK, Industry

Don’t accept funds for high-speed rail Editor: Regarding the article about

additional funding to Illinois for “high speed” rail, (May 16 FarmWeek). Perhaps Florida, Ohio, and Wisconsin have the right answer: “Just say NO!” Amtrak loses more money every year even though ridership increases. Only on the East Coast commuter routes does Amtrak show a profit. The entire passenger rail system should be independently reviewed. The problems of the system cannot be fixed with politicians in every state and of both major parties voting for “pork barrel” funding of

Amtrak year after year. Meanwhile, broke Illinois accepts funding from our broke federal government for a rail system that is financially broke.

The passenger rail system in the USA is long overdue to be run in a more efficient fashion. JACK CURRY, Mendon

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June 6 2011 FarmWeek  

June 6 2011 FarmWeek

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