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AGRONOMY DAY, typically the third Thursday in August, this year it will be a week earlier to avoid conflict with other events. ............10

THE CATTLE MARKET may be poised to bounce back from summer lows as market-ready supplies of animals get tight. ......12

CRUDE OIL PRICES for the second year in a row may have peaked for the year in July, according to an analyst. ..............................14

Monday, July 27, 2009

Two sections Volume 37, No. 30

IFB board unanimously opposes climate proposal BY MARTIN ROSS FarmWeek

Periodicals: Time Valued

The Illinois Farm Bureau Board of Directors last week unanimously opposed U.S. House-approved “cap-andtrade” legislation that the board believes will drive up costs for Illinois farmers and consumers alike. Board members indicated specific climate change legislation recently approved by the House was what they found objectionable. As the Senate Ag Committee conducted hearings on the implications of the House “Waxman-Markey” bill — which would cap utility/industry greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions — IFB President Philip Nelson cited projections that the measure could boost Illinois farm energy-input costs by $11,000 to $15,000 annually over the next decade. Nelson sees an “even bigger overarching issue”: The effect of proposed emissions restrictions on consumer commodity and food prices. In exchange for higher energy and food costs, University of Illinois economist Bob Thompson argued the House plan likely “will have negligible impact on reducing (carbon dioxide).” “We had a long and healthy debate on this, weighed the mer-

its, the pros and the cons, and at the end of the day, we’re really concerned that as farmers, we’re

FarmWeekNow.com To listen to President Nelson’s concerns about climate change legislation, go to FarmWeekNow.com.

price takers, not price makers (under this bill),” Nelson said. “We look out 10 years into this bill, and we can see farmers in Illinois paying between $35 and $50 an acre more to put an acre of corn in the ground.” The American Farm Bureau Federation (AFBF) also opposes the House bill. Sen. Mike Johanns (R-Neb.) suggested the House bill “stands very little chance of going anywhere on the Senate side.” However, “I can’t give you any assurance at all that capand-trade will disappear — quite the opposite,” Johanns warned producers in a teleconference last week. Instead, separate Senate climate proposals likely will emerge under the direction of Senate Environment and Public

Works Chairman Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.), the former ag secretary maintained. As the Senate Ag Committee geared up for climate hearings, he warned Boxer’s measure well

could prove “more extreme than the House version.” And even a “weakened” climate bill coming out of the Senate easily could lose out to the House plan in joint confer-

ence committee debate, Johanns warned. Johanns is pushing the administration to release See Climate, page 2

GLOBAL PERSPECTIVE

Tim Bittner, right, a rural Bloomington corn and soybean farmer, gestures as he describes the capabilities of his planter to visitors from around the world who were in Illinois last week for the International Farm Management Congress. The event featured farm visits around the state along with tours of Pioneer corn processing and soy research facilities, the Monsanto Learning Center in Monmouth, the USDA ag research lab in Peoria, Deere and Co. in East Moline, Big River Resources ethanol plant in Galva, and the Chicago Board of Trade, among other stops. Read inside for more stories from the congress. (Photo by Ken Kashian)

Large generational transfer of land expected in future BY DANIEL GRANT FarmWeek

Farm managers and rural appraisers expect a large intergenerational transfer of farmland to occur in coming years. The 2007 U.S. Ag Census found the number of farm operators 75 years or older increased by 20 percent since 2002 while the average age of farmers during that time increased from 55.3 to 57.1 years. The statistics suggest the baby-boomer generation in coming years will inherit a large number of farmland acres, according to Jerry Warner, president of the American Society of Farm Managers and Rural Appraisers. But the “jury is still out” as to what type of impact the transition will have on the farmland market, he told FarmWeek during the International Farm Management Congress held last week at Illinois State University in Normal. “My thinking is a segment of the inher-

itors will keep it (the land) by virtue of the fact that the investment will be more significant to them,” Warner said. “They may not have the cash pressure they would have if they inherited it 20 years ago. “On the flipside, not Jerry Warner many of them grew up on the farm,” he continued. “Therefore, some may be more likely to sell it because they don’t have the tie (to agriculture).” Either way, the situation likely will lead to a greater number of absentee landowners and an increased need for farm Fred Hepler managers and consultants, according to Fred Hepler, president of the Illinois Society of Profes-

FarmWeek on the web: FarmWeekNow.com

sional Farm Managers and Rural Appraisers. Illinois leads the nation in the percentage of farmland owned by absentee owners (62 percent). The national average is 38 percent. “The number of people (in agriculture) at retirement age is much higher than those entering the business,” said Hepler, who also believes more investors will enter the farmland market because of farmland’s steady returns and the fact that it provides a hedge against inflation. “So I think there will be a lot more land owned by absentee owners.” Meanwhile, farm management likely will become more technically oriented and a great deal more analysis will be needed to determine the best way to turn a profit on each farm in the future, he said. “I feel there is tremendous potential for our industry as we have this transition of wealth,” said Hepler, who also recommended landowners of all ages have an appropriate transition plan in place.

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


FarmWeek Page 2 Monday, July 27, 2009

Quick Takes MEIJER EXPANDING LOCAL FOOD LINK — Hank Meijer, co-chairman and chief executive officer of the Meijer super-center chain, last week announced the company will buy more locally grown produce. Currently, the Meijer company handles more than 75 varieties of locally grown fruits and vegetables. The Home Grown initiative helps keep an estimated $50 million in the local communities near the chain’s 189 stores, according to the company. Meijer said his company will work with more than 65 local growers throughout Illinois, Michigan, Ohio, Indiana, and Kentucky. Last year, the Michigan-based company sold more than 20 million pounds of apples, 1 million pounds of asparagus, and 10 million ears of sweet corn — all grown in Michigan.

GOVERNMENT

ISBE reduces ag ed, vocational ed funding BY KAY SHIPMAN FarmWeek

The Illinois State Board of Education (ISBE) last week during an emergency budget meeting cut in half funding targeted for agriculture education programs. About $400 million was cut from targeted programs, but the ISBE was able to increase the per-pupil funding level and offset other cuts so the total education budget decreased by $180 million.

WILD HORSE ADOPTION IN BLOOMINGTON — On Aug. 7-8 at the Interstate Center, Bloomington, the U.S. Department of Interior’s Bureau of Land Management (BLM) will offer for adoption about 40 wild horses ranging from yearling to 5 years old. The adoption will be on a first-come, first-served basis. Adoption hours are 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Sunday, Aug. 8. Animals may be previewed from 2 to 7 p.m. Saturday, Aug. 7. A fee of $125 for animals less than 3 years of age and $25 for animals 3 and older is required. Adoptees may take a second horse for an extra $25 if they pay $125 to adopt the first animal. Applications to adopt will be reviewed starting Aug. 7 and may be submitted until Aug. 8. For more information, call 1-866-468-7826 or visit the BLM website at {www.wildhorseandburro.blm.gov}. HIGHWAY PROVISIONS EXTENDED — The Senate Commerce, Science, and Transportation Committee last week approved an 18-month extension of current highway safety programs authorized under the Safe, Accountable, Flexible, Efficient Transportation Equity Act: A Legacy for Users (SAFETEA-LU), commonly known as “the highway bill.” The Senate Environment and Public Works Committee also approved an 18-month extension of highway and bridge programs authorized by SAFETEA-LU and authorized $41 billion for fiscal 2010 and $20.5 billion for fiscal 2011 for the programs. The proposed extension would take effect when the current law expires on Sept. 30. The proposals will be merged with a Finance Committee provision that would transfer $20 billion from the Treasury to the Highway Trust Fund, which is expected to be depleted as early as next month. The administration supports extending the current law and postponing reauthorization of highway programs until after 2010 congressional mid-term elections.

(ISSN0197-6680) Vol. 37 No. 30

July 27, 2009

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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Ag education will now receive $1.69 million in funding used as an incentive for agriculture education programs that meet quality standards. “It will be a significant reduction in Facilitating Coordination in Agricultural Education (FCAE) services and in the dollars that schools receive directly for agriculture education programs,” said Jay Runner, FCAE coordinator. In addition, funding for career and technical education, including all vocational education programs, was held steady at last year’s level.

BROWN COUNTY INSTITUTE

Brown County Farm Bureau last week hosted a Summer Ag Institute for teachers from McDonough, Fulton, and Hancock counties. Andy Baker, a Western Illinois University professor, also attended. Here, Larry Hanold from Ridge View Winery explains to the teachers the reason for putting netting over the grapes. The teachers also toured Timewell Tile and DOT Foods Inc. (Photo submitted by Kathy Knight, administrative assistant for Brown County Farm Bureau)

Climate Continued from page 1 sources of information that it claims support its “extravagant promises” that agriculture will benefit from cap-and-trade. One thing he said he has gleaned from analysis to date is “that input costs are going to go up for agriculture.” A USDA report released last week suggests net farm income would decrease by less than 1 percent in the short term and between 3.5 and 7.2 percent from 2027 to 2033 under the bill, but that benefits from an ag emissions “offsets” market likely would overtake costs by 2050. But the USDA study pins a major share of projected offsets revenue to tree plantings potentially on productive cropland — a major issue for Johanns. “There are all kinds of studies and projections out there, but I think the one certainty is that input costs would go up for agriculture,” he said. “That would be everything from gasoline to diesel, electricity, fertilizer, transportation, food processing. Literally from farm to fork, everything is going to be impacted in terms of upward costs. “USDA acknowledges this; I think the Obama administration acknowledges that input costs would go up. But the administration has very consistently held to the line that even though input costs are going up, don’t worry — you are going to get more money from (marketable ag emissions credits), and so the input cost increase should be offset.” Johanns sees a number of potentially “devastating” ripples for agriculture beyond immediate costs, including trade disputes and “real serious”

retaliation from other countries impacted by U.S. proposals (see page 3). Johanns also noted the House bill’s “hugely expensive” plan to “subsidize” international rainforest preservation. He told FarmWeek the concept was “their idea of trying to get other countries to come on board,” but noted that India and China — both major global emitters — have steadfastly rejected the idea of adopting their own carbon caps. Nelson reported the bill’s purported long-term emissions reductions are premised in part on the construction of 261 new nuclear plants across the U.S. If those plants failed to materialize (a very real possibility, given widespread congressional opposition to nuclear power) he anticipates “a real rush toward natural gas,” and that would impact crop drying and fertilizer costs as well as longterm oil prices. Senate Ag Committee Chairman Tom Harkin (D-Iowa) argued India, China, and Brazil “have to be put in the same category as we are” in terms of the need for climate reforms. Amid uncertain cost-benefit implications and predictions of a World Trade Organization challenge following the measure’s passage, Nelson lobbied Illinois’ senators for “off-ramp” provisions during a recent trip to Washington for an AFBF meeting. “Ten years from now, if we don’t site the nuclear power plants, if we see that a number of the mechanics of this bill are not coming into fruition, we could take a time-out (from federal requirements) to try to address that without upsetting the whole economy,” he explained.


FarmWeek Page 3 Monday, July 27, 2009

GOVERNMENT

Capital bill helping U of I build ‘next-generation facility’ BY KAY SHIPMAN FarmWeek

University of Illinois researchers will test new discoveries on a pilot scale in a unique laboratory to be built by the College of Agricultural, Consumer, and Environmental Sciences (ACES). The General Assembly included about $20 million for the one-of-a-kind facility in the capital bill recently signed by Gov. Pat Quinn. The Integrated Bioprocessing Research Laboratory (IBRL) has been in the planning stage for several years, according to Hans Blaschek, a food microbiology-biotechnology professor and director of the Center for Advanced Bioenergy Research. “There is no facility like this in the United States. Ours really is a next-genera-

This architect’s drawing shows the future Integrated Bioprocessing Research Laboratory at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign campus. The new lab will face Pennsylvania Avenue. (Drawing courtesy U of I)

tion facility,” Blaschek told FarmWeek. The IBRL facility has been designed to accommodate many different types of scientists and technology, Blaschek stressed. The facility will allow

researchers to test bench-scale discoveries on a pilot-scale level, examining their technology before it moves into the commercial market. Other university pilot testing facilities exist, but none is able to accommodate the vari-

Trade climate threatened under the House plan? environment minister Jim Prentice denounced the House provision as “green protectionism.” “The ‘Buy American’ provisions of the (federal) Bob Thompson offers sobering predictions about the long-term impact of climate change leg- stimulus bill were really the beginning of our increasing protectionism in this country,” Thompislation on world ag production. son told FarmWeek. The University of Illinois economist said he “We’ve seen Canada rattling its saber and threatfeels House “cap-and-trade” legislation not only would do little to reduce greenhouse emissions, but ening retaliation, which is exactly what happened after the Smoot-Hawley Tariff Act was passed likely would spur global trade protectionism as back in the ‘30s. well. Other countries The trade implication of ‘Between the stimulus bill retaliated, we counter-retaliated, climate policy is and the Waxman-Markey and international a key issue for bill, I fear there’s signifi- trade went into a Senate Finance Chairman Max cant risk of rising protec- downward spiral. Baucus (Dtionism.’ “Between the Mont.), who — Bob Thompson stimulus bill and likely will be University of Illinois ag economist the Waxmaninfluential in the Markey bill, I fear cap-and-trade there’s significant risk of rising protectionism, first debate. in this country and then through retaliation from Thompson cited concerns that the House plan other countries, which will hurt our export potenwould prove “the Smoot-Hawley of the 21st Cential.” tury,” referring to 1930 legislation that raised to Waxman-Markey’s import “tariff ” was designed record levels U.S. tariffs on more than 20,000 to offset projected costs of new emissions limits imported goods. Consequent retaliatory tariffs by other countries on U.S. industries and energy providers. Further, multinational companies with U.S. operations reduced U.S. exports and imports by more than would be required to comply with emissions caps half, contributing to the severity of the Great beginning in 2020, raising additional concerns. Depression. At the same time, Stanford University econoThompson warned the House “Waxmanmist and International Food and Agricultural Markey” climate bill would move the U.S. into “the Trade Policy Council member Tim Josling noted vanguard of rising protectionism,” potentially House exemptions for countries that already have spurring a flurry of international retaliation. A joined multilateral climate agreements and eligible resulting decline in trade would delay economic recovery necessary to “getting us out of this global developing countries. Canada fears a potential shift of energy-intendownturn,” he told FarmWeek during the Intersive industries (such as steel or paper) to emerging national Farm Management Association Congress economies exempted under the House bill. last week in Normal. “The main question is, do you try to make comOne particularly contentious issue is a lastpanies in other countries conform with the same minute amendment inserted into the House bill, regulations U.S. companies have to,” Josling told which would tax U.S. imports of energy-intensive FarmWeek. products from countries that refuse to adopt car“Or do you put up tariffs against imports from bon-reduction measures. countries that don’t have the same sort of regulaCanada is working with the U.S. to establish similar greenhouse reduction targets, and Canadian tions?”

BY MARTIN ROSS FarmWeek

ety of researchers and technologies envisioned for IBRL, according to Blaschek. For example, one U of I researcher will test thermal chemical conversions of swine manure using high pressure and high tempera-

tures. A separate ventilation system and entrance has been designed within IBRL for such projects. Another researcher will test new milling and processing technology for ethanol and value-added byproducts. Blaschek anticipated other technologies will involve pretreatment of cellulosic matter, enzyme treatment, and fermentation. As a researcher, Blaschek himself could have used an IBRL a few years ago. “I had technology for bioethanol that worked beautifully on a bench scale, but I wasn’t sure what would happen on a larger scale,” he remembered. Today a company is commercializing his technology, but that step might have come sooner if IBRL had existed, he added.

Capital bill includes $50 million for broadband loans, grants The recently passed capital bill provides $50 million to the Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity (DCEO) for broadband-related grants and loans. The state plans to offer funding commitments to cover part of stimulus-funded broadband projects on a first-come, firstserved basis until all state funds have been committed. The state application deadline is Aug. 5. Matching fund commitments will be available to qualified organizations in time for the Aug. 14 deadline for the first round of federal funding. Illinois officials expect, but cannot guarantee, that state funding will be available for all three federal funding application rounds. State officials plan to release the funding application Tuesday and have set an Aug. 5 deadline for completed applications. Decisions will be announced Aug. 11. State officials ask entities considering applying for federal broadband funding, especially those planning to request state funding, to send an e-mail notice as soon as possible to gov.broadband@illinois.gov. Questions about this opportunity should be e-mailed to gov.broadband@illinois.gov. For more details and updates, go online to {www.broadband.illinois.gov}.

New truck weight limit starts 2010 The capital bill that was signed by Gov. Pat Quinn included authorization for 80,000-pound truck weigh limits — but not until 2010. Below, FarmWeek readers will find answers to some basic questions from Kevin Rund, Illinois Farm Bureau, senior director of local government. More information will be published in the future. Question: What about the new law and how could it affect permits? When does it take effect? Rund: After nearly three decades of operating under dual “Bridge Formulas,” Illinois farmers are about to experience what farmers in the other 49 states already have — a single statewide 80,000-pound weight limit. The legislation authorizing the “Federal Bridge Formula” was part of the capital bill; however, the weight limit change does not take effect until Jan. 1, 2010. During this fall’s harvest, local roads will still be restricted to “State Bridge Formula” weights that top out at 73,280 pounds. Even under the new law, local road jurisdictions will retain authority to post roads for a lesser weight limit. It is anticipated that many will allow the new limits to take effect. But some local roads are likely to be posted for the current lower limits yearround.


FarmWeek Page 4 Monday, July 27, 2009

WIND ENERGY

Horizon CEO to farmers: Seek answers from others BY KAY SHIPMAN FarmWeek

The top executive of the world’s third-largest wind energy company has advice for Illinois farmers who are unsure about wind turbines — investigate for yourself. Gabriel Alonso, chief executive officer of Horizon Wind Energy and chief operating officer for Energias de Portugal, told FarmWeek skeptical farmers should gather information and seek answers for their questions from farmers who have turbines on their farms. “Visit wind farms and ask, ‘How is it to have a turbine? How is the company to work with?’ ” Alonso offered. Last week, he dedicated Horizon’s Rail Splitter Wind Farm, a $200 million development in Logan and Tazewell counties. Rail Splitter, Horizon’s second wind project in Illinois, will produce 100.5 megawatts of electricity from 67 turbines. The farm will generate enough electricity to supply 30,000 families with power for a year. Alonso paid tribute to the 140 landowners who allowed

Horizon to build turbines on their land. “We understand you have lived here for many generations and will live here for many generations in the future,” he said. The state can anticipate more wind energy projects from Horizon, according to Alonso. “We are serious about Illinois, and we are serious

Wind farm facts Illinois’ newest wind project, Rail Splitter Wind Farm, is another milestone in the state’s wind energy industry. The new wind farm: • Created 200 jobs during construction and 10 to 15 new full-time operational jobs. • Covers 11,000 acres in Logan and Tazewell counties; 100 to 125 acres were removed from production. • Consists of 67 turbines, each measuring 389 feet tall.

Gabriel Alonso, chief executive officer of Horizon Wind Energy, says his company is serious about developing wind energy in Illinois. Alonso dedicated the $200 million Rail Splitter Wind Farm in Logan and Tazewell counties last week. (Photo by Kay Shipman)

about this area. We have great wind resources, access to transmission lines, and great community support to make this happen,” he said. Currently, Horizon wind farms produce 500 megawatts of electricity. The company will generate another 200 megawatts from wind energy projects in development. David Sinn, a Delavan farmer and turkey producers

and Tazewell County Farm Bureau member, said he contacted Iowa farmers for answers to questions about raising turkeys near wind turbines. Sinn has two Horizon turbines on his farmland and said the experience has been good. Problems during construction were resolved and any damaged tile lines were repaired, he said. Sinn acknowledged aerial

applicators will charge a 50 percent “upcharge fee” to apply pesticides on fields with turbines. However, Sinn focused on the broader benefits from the wind energy project. “It’s been a blessing for the upgrade of our township roads,” he said. “The tax revenue (from the wind project) our school and county will receive will take the pressure off landowners.”

Public backs wind energy projects — ISU survey

A wind farm in Bureau County. (File photo)

New law helping state keep wind development edge A law recently passed by the General Assembly and signed by Gov. Pat Quinn will keep Illinois competitive in wind energy development, according to a business development expert. The new law establishes a new program that allows a high-impact business “to become its own enterprise zone,” said Kyle Barry, a Springfield attorney who formerly was with the Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity (DCEO). Barry spoke at a recent state wind energy conference in Bloomington. Enterprise zones and the accompanying incentives have been critical to the state’s wind energy industry. “Every major Illinois (wind energy) project has located in an enterprise zone, mainly because the sales and use tax exemptions offered substantial savings. “Without that, Illinois would be at a competitive dis-

advantage because all the surrounding states exempt wind generation equipment from the state sales tax,” Barry explained. The new law makes Illinois enterprise zone rules more applicable to a wind energy project. Under that law, a wind energy developer may apply directly to DCEO for consideration as a high-impact business, instead of applying to local governments. State agency approval also will remove several hurdles required for a local government to expand its enterprise zone to include a wind farm project, Barry said. The new law does not require a high-impact business to create a certain number of jobs or build in an economically depressed area — enterprise zone requirements that have been a challenge for wind projects, Barry said. However, the law does require high-impact businesses to pay prevailing hourly

wages, he noted. A major incentive for wind energy developers in a highimpact business zone is the exemption from paying the 6.25 percent state sales or use tax on millions of dollars of equipment, Barry said. The new law also will benefit counties that have good wind resources but don’t have an enterprise zone, he added. However, wind developers that build in a high-impact business zone will not receive the following: an automatic across-the-board real estate tax abatement, investment tax credit, jobs tax credit, or exemption on personal property used in the manufacturing process or at a pollution control facility. Those incentives are offered for projects that build in an enterprise zone. However, “the big ticket item is the sales and use tax exemption for wind farms,” Barry concluded. — Kay Shipman

Illinoisans support wind energy development — even if that means turbines would be built near their towns, according to an Illinois State University (ISU) survey. Randy Winter, ISU agricultural economist, reported preliminary results of a four-region survey about public perception of wind energy development. Winter spoke at a recent state wind energy conference in Bloomington. The regions surveyed were: McLean County; Mercer and Warren counties; Marion County; and Morgan-Scott counties. Winter noted researchers were still collecting survey responses. A total of 82.4 percent of respondents support or ‘There seems to be strong strongly supsupport (for wind developport wind energy development ment) in the state.’ in Illinois. The rate of support — Randy Winter remained nearly Illinois State University ag economist unchanged at 82 percent when respondents were asked about wind development in or near their communities, Winter noted. “There seems to be strong support (for wind development) in the state,” Winter said. Among respondents, the top perceived benefit for wind development was reduction of U.S. dependence on foreign oil. Respondents’ top concern was removal of farmland from production. As for future electricity sources, respondents ranked wind and solar as their top choices. Winter also surveyed people about climate and energy issues. About 70 percent of respondents agree or strongly agree that humans have had an impact on the Earth’s climate; however, only 43 percent support programs to address climate change. Asked about renewable energy standards, 56 percent of respondents said they support such standards. “I think there is growing acceptance of federal renewable energy standards,” Winter said. — Kay Shipman


FarmWeek Page 5 Monday, July 27, 2009

AG INCOME Lower grain prices, economy pressure land values

ISPFMRA: Cash rents projected to decline 5 percent BY DANIEL GRANT FarmWeek

Farmland values for the first half of 2009 softened and the volume of sales declined, according to a mid-year survey released last week by the Illinois Society of Professional Farm Managers and Rural Appraisers (ISPFMRA). ISPFMRA members in the survey indicated the average price of excellent quality farmland the past six months declined 2.3 percent ($171 per acre) while the average price of fair quality farmland

slipped by 5.4 percent ($225 per acre). Average land values in the state as of July 1 were estimated at $7,200 per acre for excellent ground, $6,300 per acre for good land, $4,900 per acre for average land, and $4,000 per acre for fair quality land. “The economy and grain prices in particular” are the key factors pressuring land values, said Bob Swires of Swires Land and Management of Danville, during a news conference Friday at the International Farm Manage-

ment Congress in Normal. “The survey was conducted (in recent weeks) right as we were experiencing a dramatic drop in grain prices.” The volume of farmland sales also declined the past six months, according to 88 percent of ISPFMRA members who responded to the survey. Swires believes many potential sellers are holding onto land because they don’t know what to do with the money during the current economic recession that a sale would generate. ISPFMRA members pre-

dicted the recent trends will continue throughout the year. “Members generally think land prices will remain steady or get a little softer, but nobody thinks they’ll take a severe drop,” Swires said. “Land is still a solid investment.” The drop in grain prices so far this year also is putting downward pressure on cash rental rates. ISPFMRA members as of July 1 believe cash rental rates for 2010 could decline by an average of 5 percent. Cash rent levels for 2010 were estimated at $260 per

acre for excellent land, $210 per acre for good land, $160 per acre for average land, and $130 per acre for fair quality land. However, Swires noted cash rental rates vary greatly by location, depending in part on each farmer’s marketing skills. Rates also could fluctuate from the estimates in coming months based on the direction of the commodity markets. “It’s still early,” Swires said of cash rent negotiations. “Things will get a lot more serious come October.”

Aug. 14 enrollment deadline

ACRE webinar, landlord information available BY MARTIN ROSS FarmWeek

As the Aug. 14 deadline for ACRE (average crop revenue election) enrollment nears, university and ag industry experts are ramping up the learning curve for producers and their landlords. ACRE is an optional safety net program that protects against price/production losses on a commodity-by-commodity basis. Under the program, growers are eligible for coverage equaling 90 percent of a twoyear national average program guarantee price times a “benchmark” state yield that

factors average yield per planted acre of each commodity over a five-year period, dropping high and low yields. Illinois Farm Bureau, USDA’s Illinois Farm Service Agency (FSA), and the University of Illinois are offering three “webcasts” providing information about ACRE, at {www.farmdoc.uiuc.edu/prese ntations/index.asp}. In addition to the presentation “Summary and Benefits of ACRE,” IFB risk management specialist Doug Yoder provides a comprehensive “2008 Farm Bill: ACRE Overview” and FSA program director Stan Wilson outlines

“ACRE Election and Enrollment.” In addition, the National Corn Growers Association has released a bulletin, “ACRE for Landlowners,” which reviews tenant-landowner arrangements under ACRE and compares potential landowner returns under ACRE vs. existing farm countercyclical payments. The guide is available to read or download at {ncga.com/files/pdf/ACREfo rLandowners.pdf}. Tenant operators must obtain the agreement of their landowner-lessor to enroll in ACRE, unless they already

CULTIVATING ACRE Editor’s note: Because of federal delays in implementing the average crop revenue election (ACRE), questions have arisen regarding the optional safety net program. Between now and the Aug. 14, 2009, program signup deadline, FarmWeek, with an assist from Illinois Farm Bureau risk management specialist Doug Yoder and University of Illinois experts, will attempt to provide answers so growers can make an informed decision on whether to enroll in the program.

What is a “break in continuity?” Answer: A break in continuity occurs when acreage is reported for a covered commodity and no production is reported.

If I sign up for ACRE, do I have to come with past settlement sheets or production evidence? Answer: No. Producers who enroll in ACRE have two choices when building their farm benchmark yield. They may either accept the “plug” yield (95 percent of their county yield) or certify their past production history by supplying the Farm Service Agency (FSA) with acceptable production evidence.

Can I use crop insurance records to certify past yields? Answer: Yes. There are many documents that can be used to certify past production history, including: settlement sheets; loan deficiency payment, or marketing loan records; warehouse receipts or ledgers, scale tickets, or weight slips (unless it’s your own scale); computer-generated documents from a licensed warehouse or elevator as long as it contains the necessary information; crop insurance yield production (APH) records; crop insurance records of loss appraisals; and measured quantities of farm stored production if it was measured by FSA or crop insurance personnel.

If I use the “plug” yield for a certain year, does that mean I have to use it for every year? Answer: No. You can use the higher of your plug yield or your certified yield for each of the five years needed, as long as there is no “break in continuity.” Once a break in continuity occurs, the plug yield must be used for that crop year and all years previous to that year.

In certifying yields, can I get credit for bushels I’ve fed to livestock? Answer: Yes. There are several options available that producers can use for certification of fed bushels. The same is true for grain used for seed, hybrid seed corn production, commingled production, or acreage that was silaged, hayed, or grazed, and commingled (mixed) production.

have legal power of attorney to make unilateral program decisions. However, because ACRE enrollment is binding for the duration of the 2008 farm bill, through 2012, Yoder recommends tenants always communicate their intentions to the landowner. “If a far mer has a power of attorney and signs up a particular far m for ACRE, and ... the absentee landowner isn’t aware of it, two years from now, if that landowner decides to get a new tenant or sell the land or he passes away and the land goes to his

heirs, they have ACRE on their land and could have some issues,” Yoder advised. Tenants and landlords should consider whether attaching ACRE to an individual farm is a potential positive or a negative in selling land or attracting future tenants, he added. As of last week, some 2,520 farms nationwide were enrolled in the 2009 ACRE program. Illinois reportedly leads the nation with more than 540 approved ACRE contracts, followed by Nebraska, Iowa, Ohio, South Dakota, and Indiana.

Cover crop innovation focus of WIU organic farm field day Cover crops will be the focus of the Western Illinois University (WIU) organic farm field day Friday, Aug. 7. Advanced registration is required by Aug. 5. The activity will run from noon to 4 p.m. on WIU’s Allison Organic Farm and neighboring Kane Farm in southwestern Warren County. Participants will receive a CD with information about more than 40 organic and conventional Midwest grain farmers who are cover crop innovators. At the field day, certified organic and conventional cover crop seed will be available at discounted prices for farmers who place orders in advance. For information about ordering seed, contact Andy Clayton at 217-3222639. The event will start with a meal featuring local farm products. Several presentations will follow the meal, including a panel of organic and conventional farmers who will answer questions about their experiences with cover crops. The day will conclude with a walking tour of the research and production fields. The field day is open to the public, but registration is required by Aug. 5 for the meal. To register, contact Clayton at AW-Clayton@wiu.edu, 309-298-1172 or 217-322-2639, or WIU‘s school of agriculture at 309-298-1080. The lunch, expert presentations, and farmer panel will take place one mile west of the Allison Farm at the Kane Farm, 220 10th St., Roseville. The Allison Farm is one mile east of the Kane Farm on the northwest corner of the intersection of County Rd. 20th Ave. N and 20th St. Signs will be posted at both farms. More information about WIU’s organic agriculture research is available online at {www.wiu.edu/ag/organicfarm}.


FarmWeek Page 6 Monday, July 27, 2009

CROPWATCHERS Bernie Walsh, Durand, Winnebago County: Its mid-July and we have had highs in the mid-70s. I think we would all welcome some warmer weather. We also had more rain during the week — 0.9 of an inch on Tuesday and up to 0.5 of an inch Thursday in scattered storms near Rockford. All this has made it very hard to combine wheat or bale second-crop hay. We were able to get one round of wheat done on Monday night (July 20) and were very encouraged by the yield. It should be very good when it finally dries out. The corn is tasseling and this cooler-than-normal weather is good for pollination. The soybeans seem to be standing still, flowering, but not growing very tall. Pete Tekampe, Grayslake, Lake County: Another cool week in Lake County. We got 1.25 inches of rain on Wednesday and another 1.5 inches on Thursday. Corn is getting a great color, but needs a lot of sun and heat to beat the deadline. Saw my first tassels Thursday. Beans are slowly progressing with some looking great and others under 2 inches tall. Winter wheat still needs some heat to dry down. Spring grains are starting to turn. Need a hot, dry week for this week for the Lake County Fair. The fair is at our new location this year from July 28-Aug. 2. For more information, go to our website at {www.lcfair.net}. Leroy Getz, Savanna, Carroll County: Rain for the week, 3.3 inches on July 21 and 22. Not bad for days that were supposed to have light sprinkles. July’s total, 4.8 inches. Record cool temperatures have crops at a standstill. Scouting for leaf disease shows few problems in the corn. White mold in the soybeans is a concern. Many soybean fields have a lot of volunteer corn. Some hay was made between rains, but very little escaped without getting wet. Ron Frieders, Waterman, DeKalb County: Still only a small percentage of corn is tasseling. This year, pollination will be stretched out for the next two or three weeks. I have not seen any insect or disease pressure in the soybeans. Earlier-planted beans look good. Later-planted ones have a long way to go. Wheat is being combined and straw baled. Progress is being slowed by scattered showers and the storm on Thursday in the afternoon with high winds didn’t help. Midwest average temperatures are the coolest in 114 years, and I don’t remember what the crops were like that year. Joe Zumwalt, Warsaw, Hancock County: It was an unusual yet beautiful week for mid-July in Western Illinois. Temps hovered in the 70s during the day and 50s at night. So much for global warming! Some gentle rains moved through leaving anywhere from 0.5 to 1.5 inches of rain. It was very much needed as we were edging on dry and the crops were showing it. Most of the stress is due to very shallow-rooted crops. Many fields are beginning to tassel and some beans are approaching waist high. Cropdusters are beginning to get busy with fungicide treatments. There have been some European corn borers found, but very few. I will leave you all with this little anecdote: In a recent conversation with a neighbor and area producer, we were talking about the high cost and high maintenance of this year’s crop. His wife leaned over and said that it must be a “girl crop.” So, no offense to you ladies, but the 2009 crop will forever be known as a “girl crop” in my record books! Ken Reinhardt, Seaton, Mercer County: Up to 1 inch of rain for the week. Planes are flying fungicides on corn. Conditions have been favorable for gray leaf spot development. There are plenty of Japanese beetles around. A neighbor and I took an hour and a half helicopter ride around our crops. There are few fields that don’t have drowned-out areas. The Keithsburg area remains extremely wet, with hundreds of acres of ponds.

Ron Moore, Roseville, Warren County: We have received 3 inches of rain in the last two weeks. Most of our corn is now tasseled with only the replanted corn not tasseled. The corn looks good, despite the poor planting conditions. There was a lot of fungicide sprayed last week. The airplanes have been spraying whenever the winds are calm. The soybeans are looking good as well. Most of the post spraying is done and they should start flowering soon. The weather has been cooler lately and that has helped the corn and beans handle the stress from the spring season. Pasture conditions are some of the best I have seen for this time of year. Jacob Streitmatter, Princeville, Peoria County: Nice week in Peoria County. Rain totaled anywhere from more 1 inch to just a few tenths. I was lucky to receive about 1 inch. Some corn is tasseling and some is getting close, while other corn I have is waist high. Japanese beetles are getting bad. So far, they have only found our fruit trees and other trees. Hopefully, they’ll die before all the corn starts silking. Tim Green, Wyoming, Stark County: A very pleasant and cool week. Starting to see a few tassels. There is a lot of talk about diseases in the beans and the corn. I don’t know if anyone is spraying yet. Japanese beetles are starting to pop up here and there in the bean fields. A few guys are spraying insecticide on them just to stay ahead. Otherwise, people are trying to get ready for fall and hoping we have something to pick. We need warm weather. It has a lot of people concerned. Mark Kerber, Chatsworth, Livingston County: Cool temperatures have prevailed this summer and, for most, plenty of rain. Have we had any 90degree days this summer? It has been fair time for many 4-H’ers showing their projects. Insect pressure during this critical time of corn pollination has been light to none. Leaf diseases are not bad yet, as only a few have sprayed fungicides. Another rain would help us as the crops are really pulling moisture out of the ground. Soybeans are growing, but have a long way to go. Markets have done their summer retreat regardless of acres and conditions. Ron Haase, Gilman, Iroquois County: Farm activities for the week included spraying herbicides in soybean fields, scouting cornfields for leaf diseases, spraying fungicides in cornfields, and mowing roadsides. Most cornfields in the area are anywhere from the V-14 to the R-2 growth stage. I did see my first rootworm beetle as I was scouting for leaf diseases in our corn, but that is the only beetle I have seen. Japanese beetles have been less of a problem at this point. More fungicide application took place last week, as some of the corn planted from May 9 to May 12 has entered pollination. The $1 drop in corn prices has altered the decision-making process. Most of the corn in this area still has not pollinated. Area soybean fields are from the full bloom (R-2) to the beginning pod growth stage (R-3). Local closing prices for July 23: nearby corn, $3.19; new-crop corn, $3.12; nearby soybeans, $10.30; newcrop soybeans, $9.05. Brian Schaumburg, Chenoa, McLean County: Another week of relatively cool and cloudy conditions leaves us to wonder when summer will arrive. Seventy-five percent of the corn was pollinating last week. Aerial fungicide applications are warranted as gray leaf spot is developing. Average crop revenue election (ACRE) sign-up remains low as the Aug. 14 deadline approaches. Get the facts, not ill-informed speculation! See you at the McLean County Fair. Corn, $3.20; fall, $3.14; soybeans, $10.27; fall, $8.97; wheat, $4.37.

Steve Ayers, Champaign, Champaign County: We’re coasting through July with moderate temperatures, but we are starting to look for a rain after a dry week. We have chances for rain Tuesday with temperatures remaining in the 60s to 80s. Nearperfect tasseling conditions continue and beans are blooming, but are extremely short. Crop scouts are monitoring gray leaf spot in corn and soybean defoliation primarily from Japanese beetles. See you at the Champaign County Fair this week. Wilfred Dittmer, Quincy, Adams County: A nice, clear morning here Friday after a few partly cloudy days and cool weather. We did pick up 2 inches of rain in the gauge on Tuesday, which brings our total for July to 3 inches thus far, and the crops sure did soak it up. Some areas in the county received more than 3 inches and some were less fortunate with 1 inch or less. Corn and beans in general look good, but most beans still have a long way to go before they get to the bin. Weeds also are coming fast and sprayers will have to keep moving to keep ahead of the game. It’s fair week in our county this week. Where did the summer go? Harry Schirding, Petersburg, Menard County: No rainfall last week. Total for July so far is 3.71 inches. Normal rainfall for July is 3.53 inches. Pollination, which will be spread out over several more weeks, continues with few problems. A number of cornfields have been sprayed by airplane for fungal leaf diseases. Most corn leaf lesions are gray leaf spot, although there are other leaf diseases present. A dry week was good for hay and the remaining straw harvest. Double-crop soybeans are growing slower than usual, due to the cool temperatures. Volatility and lower prices continue to be an ongoing concern. The Menard County Fair had good weather, good attendance, and was considered a success. Corn nearby, $3.16, up 2 cents; soybeans nearby, $10.32, up 2 cents; January corn, $3.17, up 11 cents; January soybeans, $9.28, up 48 cents. Tom Ritter, Blue Mound, Macon County: We’ve had a week of dry weather. Tuesday’s predicted rains fizzled and barely wet the roads. We’re not hurting for moisture, but the crops have a long way to go to be ready, and we’d hate to start missing showers at this point. Overall, corn continues to improve a little bit in looks. Fungicide spraying has subsided as 5 percent of the corn that was planted in April has been sprayed. Corn planted in mid- to late-May or at the end of June has not advanced enough for fungicides to be sprayed. Soybeans also continue to improve. Beans planted in late May and early June are getting close to closing the row but at varied height, depending on the planting date. David Schaal, St. Peter, Fayette County: We finally had a dry week here. It has, however, been unusually cool for the end of July. Temperatures have been down in the upper 50s in the morning. Soybeans in the area do not have a very good color. They look really pale. Many area farmers have been spraying soybeans, but are having a hard time killing what is out there. The Roundup gene may be on its way out. Some corn around the area is beginning to tassel. Ted Kuebrich, Jerseyville, Jersey County: We had rain the weekend of July 18 that measured about 0.5 of an inch. The beans are starting to bloom. The corn is at different stages of growth, with some tasseled, others just starting to tassel, and still others just about waist high. The cool temperatures that we have been having the last couple of weeks have caused growth to slow in the late beans. The Japanese beetles have moved from our gardens and trees to the corn and bean fields. I was out looking at our beans to see how they are blooming and found many Japanese beetles. Cash corn, $3.35; new corn, $3.13; January corn, $3.24; cash beans, $10.41, new beans, $9.27, January beans, $9.37; cash wheat, $4.24.


FarmWeek Page 7 Monday, July 27, 2009

CROPWATCHERS Todd Easton, Charleston, Coles County: Crops are working hard to catch up with where they would like to be at this time of the year. And, despite the abnormally cool weather, they seem to be making progress. The majority of the corn that was planted in late May is at, or rapidly approaching, the pollination stage. The yellow planes have been flying over us on their way to apply preventative fungicide. Many of us still are not sure how much of that we will do. It will be interesting to see if what does get applied ends up helping the corn yields. Soybeans are in all ranges of maturity with the most mature I have seen approaching the beginning bloom stage. Keeping the weeds out of the beans is a real chore this year. The sprayers will be working hard for awhile longer. This week brings our county fair, which almost always brings rain, and that would be good for both crops. Drought stress is the last thing this crop needs after all it has been through. Bob Biehl, Belleville, St. Clair County: Showers and storms passed through Thursday night, but our area received very little. Clouds, overcast days, and cool temps last week slowed crop development. Just what we don’t need. Corn planted three or four days prior to Memorial Day has been tasseled for seven to 10 days, but as I drove by Thursday on a sunny day, I could really smell the pollen. No sunshine, no pollination, I guess. Later corn is anywhere from kneehigh to head-high and looks OK since there is plenty of moisture and cool weather. Beans are finally starting to look better. Their feet are finally starting to dry out some. You can’t find many fields over boot-high yet, though. Lots of spraying of beans this past week. I know I can’t seem to get caught up with spraying this year. Maybe by mid-week we should be done except for the second pass on some fields. For the producers down here with poor crop conditions, it looks like the markets are going to take away every bit of profit from last year and then some.

Jimmy Ayers, Rochester, Sangamon County: On Sunday evening (July 19), Springfield set a new record low of 52 degrees. North of us in Lincoln, the longstanding record of 48 degrees was tied. Chicago is set for its fourthcoldest summer in history. Global warming is certainly not affecting our area. We had no rain at our place last week, but some areas received 0.2 of an inch. The beans seem like they are coming along really well. Some of them are reaching up to a little more than knee-high, and some are waist high, but not many. Corn pollination is going on in many fields. Not as many beetles now as we have had in earlier weeks. Quite a bit of hay was put down and a little bit of mowing is going on. Working on equipment for harvest is where we are spending most of our energy at this time. Check out the county fairs — several of them are going on. Don’t forget to take a little vacation this summer to help you have a safer harvest. Dan Meinhart, Montrose, Jasper County: Showers were in the area several days last week leaving little or no measurable precipitation. Corn spraying is wrapped up, although spraying beans is still in progress. USDA decided to resurvey corn and grain sorghum acres. In earlier reports, I stated preventative planting on corn has been taken on thousands of acres over a large area. On many of these acres, nothing has been planted. Many expect USDA to find out the corn acres planted are much less than previously reported. Kevin Raber, Browns, Wabash County: Rainfall amounts of 1.5 inches or more fell this past week. There was some flooding and a lot of standing water. The other story for the week was the low temps. I think we set several new records for daytime low temperatures. The corn needs a little more heat and sun, and I think the beans don’t like the saturated soils. Our temps are going up this coming week, so maybe it will feel like summer again.

Uneven corn, such as this field in Montgomery County, seems to be the norm rather than the exception this season in many portions of Illinois due to late planting, denitrification, and flooding/water compaction. This field, farmed by Dan Helgen of North Litchfield, was first planted May 11, sprayed for cutworms May 26, flooded in early

Rick Corners, Centralia, Jefferson County: A week without any rain — a first probably since last year. Little yellow beans might be looking a tad better and actually could have grown a millimeter. Ear lierplanted corn is in full tassel now. Dean Shields, Murphysboro, Jackson County: It looks like it is time for me to put my planter away now that it is past July 20. There were a few acres I was not able to get planted, so this is another year of some land not getting planted in Jackson County. However, the corn seems to be growing real well with the temperature and weather we have here. I think pollination went well. There is still a lot of variance in the size because of the way it was planted. Soybeans are coming along pretty well, too. Wheat field beans are growing well. Things are in a slow pattern. Everybody is doing some spraying and mowing rights-of-way. A few people are gone on vacation. We need it to warm up just a tad – more than what we’ve had to get some growing degree temperatures for the corn. Ken Taake, Ullin, Pulaski County: It’s been another nice week weatherwise here in deep Southern Illinois. We received 1.1 inches of rain Tuesday afternoon and night. It came really nice and slow. It was a wonderful rain. Then we received another 0.3 of an inch Thursday night. The temperatures have been cooler and it has been really pleasant for humans and animals. You wonder if the crops need a little more heat for growing, but it sure has been nice for us. The crops look good from the road. They are getting tall enough that it hides the thin spots and the drowned out spots are hidden. Double-crop soybeans are showing above the wheat stubble. Everything seems to be going pretty well.

June, and then had portions replanted June 17. USDA last week responded to variable weather conditions by announcing it will ask some farmers for updated planting information for corn so it can make more reliable projections for the Aug. 12 crop production report. (Photo by Ken Kashian)

Crop prices expected to stabilize; weather still an issue BY DANIEL GRANT FarmWeek

Crop prices that dropped since mid-June by more than $1.50 per bushel for corn and $2 per bushel for soybeans may be near a bottom. “I think (crop prices) have gone down far enough” in response to USDA’s recent projection of a large harvest, Jack Scoville, vice president of Price Futures Group, said during a teleconference hosted by Dow Jones Indexes. “I expect (prices) to stabilize, and we may even see some small rallies for corn and beans.” USDA earlier this month projected U.S. farmers this fall will harvest 12.3 billion bushels of corn and a record

3.26 billion bushels of beans. But Scoville believes the crops are far from made, particularly in the eastern Corn Belt where late planting and cool temperatures have slowed crop development. USDA last week reported 31 percent of the U.S. corn crop was silking compared to the average of 54 percent while 44 percent of soybeans were blooming compared to the average of 62 percent. “All that implies is we’re going to need about every day we can get to get these crops home” before the fall frost/freeze ends the growing season, Scoville said. He projected prices in the near term would hover in $8.50 to $11 range for beans,

$3 to $3.75 for corn, and $5plus for wheat. However, any crop issues between now and harvest could push prices to as high as $11.50 for beans and $4.25 for corn, according to the analyst. Long term, wheat prices could rebound to as high as $7.50, he said. On the flipside, recent quality crop ratings for corn and beans should keep a lid on prices near term, he said. USDA last week rated 71 percent of corn and 67 percent of beans as good to excellent. The ratings for both crops were up 6 percent compared to the same time last year. “There is an extremely high

correlation between the percent of the corn crop rated good or excellent at the end of the season and the U.S. average trend-adjusted yield,” said Darrel Good, University of Illinois Extension economist. He said current crop ratings suggest an average corn yield as high as 163 bushels per acre. “For soybeans, very favorable weather through August would point to a U.S. average yield of 44.7 bushels per acre,” Good said. He noted there is “more uncertainty about yield estimates than normally would be the case due to the lateness of the crop” in the eastern Corn Belt.

Overall, the markets have “priced in” large crops, but considerable production and price uncertainty remains, Good added.


FarmWeek Page 8 Monday, July 27, 2009

MARKETS

Eight-gene corn ‘stack’ granted U.S., Canadian OKs BY MARTIN ROSS FarmWeek

U.S. and Canadian agencies have signed off on an unprecedented eight-trait GMO corn “stack” — and unprecedented allowances for its use. Monsanto and Dow AgroSciences have received U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) approvals necessary to commercialize SmartStax corn hybrids. Pending key global import approvals, Dow AgroSciences CEO Jerome Peribere anticipates “aggressive launch” of the multi-modal, multi-insectresistant, herbicide-tolerant product in 2010. The companies project marketing SmartStax for use on an initial 3 million to 4 million acres, across a range of brands and ideally in all maturity zones. SmartStax includes Dow AgroSciences’ Herculex 1 and Monsanto’s VT Pro traits, offering corn earworm, European corn borer, southwest corn bor-

er, sugar cane borer, fall armyworm, western cutworm, and black cutworm protection. Monsanto YieldGard VT and Dow’s Herculex traits protect against multiple corn rootworm species, and Monsanto’s Roundup Ready 2 and Bayer’s LibertyLink traits provide dual glyphosate/glufosinate herbicide tolerance. Phillip Miller, Monsanto vice president of product management, suggested SmartStax would offer a 5 to 10 percent yield improvement over current varieties. SmartStax varieties would be priced in various markets to reflect “the value they bring in that particular geography,” Miller noted. EPA also approved reducing Bt insect resistance management refuge for SmartStax corn from a standard 20 percent nonGMO corn planting per farm to 5 percent. Refuge is designed to prevent successive insect generations from developing resistance to corn varieties. Illinois Farm Bureau Senior

Monsanto VP hopeful about GMO wheat ‘curve’ A Monsanto executive hopes his company’s newly revived wheat biotechnology program will help wheat growers catch up with corn and soybean producers in terms of both agronomic potential and potentially crucial environmental gains. Monsanto has purchased Montana wheat breeder WestBred LLC, and with access to new germplasm resources, Monsanto Vice President Kevin Eblen expects GMO wheat products to begin hitting the market in the next eight to 10 years. “Our focus from an R&D standpoint is going to be really on a long-term level — we’ll be working more in what we refer to as ‘second-generation’ traits,” Eblen told FarmWeek at last week’s International Farm Management Congress. “Once we understand the biotech traits themselves, we have the ability to put them in a lot of different crop species. So wheat will benefit from a lot of the same things we’ll see in corn, like drought tolerance, nitrogen use efficiency, cold tolerance, etc. “It’s more in the eight- to 10-year range before we see a (commercial) product, but it’s a great signal for the wheat industry.” Eblen estimates roughly 80 percent of U.S. corn, cotton, and soybean plantings today include biotech traits that offer “tremendous efficiencies in resource use.” But in the absence of genetic improvements, he maintained wheat “has really fallen behind” in some key areas. Monsanto is a member of the Keystone Alliance for Sustainable Agriculture, along with the American Farm Bureau Federation. A recent Keystone study cited reductions in greenhouse gas emissions per unit of corn and soybeans produced between 1987 and 2007 but noted a 34 percent increase in peracre emissions and a 15 percent increase in per-bushel emissions in wheat. “Hopefully, we can get the curve going the other way for wheat,” Eblen said. Further, while Monsanto’s focus on biotech improvements in corn, soybeans, and cotton (what Eblen calls “very large footprint crops”) has offered limited commercial potential overseas, Eblen noted “billions of people rely on wheat as their staple food source.” New products thus could benefit and generate markets in developing countries, and he sees the possibility of Monsanto eventually directing biotech research toward serious wheat disease concerns around the globe. — Martin Ross

Commodity Director Tamara White was “comfortable” with EPA’s decision, given SmartStax’ layered protections. But she said different refuge requirements underline the need for growers to strictly follow product-specific guidelines. “If we’re going to have a 5 percent refuge, we need to ensure people stick to that 5 percent, so we can keep the

technology,” White maintained. Refuge compliance also is crucial under new risk management opportunities. Miller told FarmWeek Dow AgroSciences and Monsanto have applied to USDA’s Risk Management Agency to include SmartStax under the crop insurance “biotech endorsement” (BE), given its potential to expand producer “risk mitigation.”

BE offers a premium discount to producers who plant a minimum 75 percent “triplestack” corn on each insured unit. Growers who violate BE requirements may lose their endorsement, coverage on BEendorsed units, and, depending on the severity of violations, all or part of their overall corn coverage.

B i o b u t a n o l ke y i n r a i s i n g bl e n d wa l l ?

Biofuels not ‘going away’ Biofuels no longer are “going away” when oil prices go down, according to DuPont Biofuels North American industry manager Dennis Magyar. During the International Farm Management Association Congress in Normal last week, Magyar related DuPont’s threepronged approach to meeting a national renewable fuels standard (RFS) target of 36 billion gallons of biofuels use by 2022. DuPont is working with Pioneer to boost corn yields and develop regional feedstocks for use worldwide, with technology provider Danisco to launch corn cob/switchgrass ethanol plants by 2013, and with energy giant BP to develop advanced “biobutanol.” According to Magyar, that is “the next significant change” in sustainable renewable fuels growth. “In years past, when oil suddenly went from $20-$30 a barrel back to $12 a barrel, the ethanol industry went away,” Magyar told FarmWeek. “We’re in a new environment:

Oil is a depletable resource. We saw how easily oil can get up into the $120-$130-$140 category. We’re in a global recession: Oil’s still trading between $60 and $70. There’s a very good chance oil’s going to move back into the $100-plus category. “As demand increases in the Asian Pacific, China, India, there’s only so much oil, and oil will go up. There’s a need for the continued growth of biofuels and different technologies to get us there. It’s all about energy independence — that’s not going away.” Unlike ethanol, biobutanol has limited water absorption and can be blended with gasoline at conventional refineries, with biobutanol blends transported via pipeline. Because biobutanol exhibits low vapor pressure (i.e., lower emissions), special gasoline blends would not be required in high-pollution markets. Biobutanol’s energy content is closer to gasoline’s, offering greater fuel efficiency than existing ethanol blends, Magyar said.

And biobutanol can be produced from corn, wheat, or sugar cane at existing ethanol plants. Magyar suggests biobutanol could help demolish the 10 percent federal “blend wall” for ethanol in conventional gasoline. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency is considering whether to approve “E15” blends; Magyar said biobutanol could be blended at 16 percent without affecting refinery or automotive systems. More than 1.3 million miles of biobutanol vehicle tests have been conducted with no reported performance problems. A British biobutanol demonstration plant should be running in 2010, with the first commercial plant tentatively online by 2013. DuPont and BP plan to license biobutanol production to existing ethanol plants, and are working with global biofuels producers, regulators, and vehicle manufacturers to speed biobutanol acceptance. — Martin Ross

Logistics challenge to cob-based fuel Midwest biofuels producers face an interesting dilemma: Corn residues offer a potentially lowercost gateway to next-generation cellulosic ethanol production, but their removal for fuel production could compromise environmental goals. DuPont is looking to take the problem literally by the ear: As part of a joint venture with Danish-based technology provider Danisco/Genencorp, the company plans to launch a 25 million-gallon-per-year Midwest corn cob-toethanol demonstration plant by 2012. A second 15-million-gallon switchgrass-based plant is slated for Tennessee by 2013. DuPont Biofuels North American industry manager Dennis Magyar argues “the science to convert biomass to fuel is real,” and DuPont anticipates a potential 2-billion-gallon annual “cob-to-ethanol” market, “assuming biomass supply chains become available.” Further growth will depend on improvements in cob “collection economics” and other plant costs, Magyar said. Both DuPont/Danisco plants will feature onsite production of enzymes used to break cellulose down into fermentable sugars, and he expects enzyme costs to drop perhaps 70 percent by the time the plants begin operation. Further, ethanol processing yields are “exceeding our expectations”: While a ton of biomass generated an average 67 gallons of fuel a few

years ago, Magyar projects per-ton yields rising to 90 gallons by 2012. That should reduce biomass ethanol production costs from a current $2 per gallon to $1.50, he said. A major challenge lies in plants obtaining a “reliable long-term supply of biomass at competitive and predictable prices.” Magyar acknowledged producers will require “a bankable and profitable” sales contract. “A key component in the supply chain that’s not been met yet is the actual competitive collection, storage, harvest, and delivery to the plant gate of the cobs,” Magyar told FarmWeek. “That needs to be done. We’ve teamed with Iowa State University and other academia, and DuPontDanisco Cellulosic Ethanol is currently working to resolve that in time for our first commercial plant. Collection and distribution of biomass at a competitive price is still a work in process.” Talk of tapping corn stover for ethanol has raised concerns about low-till/no-till practices that help preserve soils and sequester atmospheric carbon. Additional use of post-harvest residues along with cobs is possible “if science tells us there’s a certain percentage that could (safely) be pulled from the ground,” Magyar said. However, because of the density of crop residues, he argued cobs are easier to collect. — Martin Ross


FarmWeek Page 9 Monday, July 27, 2009

GROWMARK

Leveraging agronomic expertise within GROWMARK system BY AMY BRADFORD

Scattered across a smattering of states are 400 individuals who advise farmers on seed, fertilizer, crop protection and other agronomic practices. These specialists are part of the legion of experts in the GROWMARK System who work with farmers daily to help them reduce risks, increase profits, become more competitive, and make farming easier. “Our responsibility is to make sure the best agronomic recommendations get put with the seed a farmer uses,” said Rod Woefel, manager of GROWMARK’s agronomy marketing and agronomic services. “Yet it’s only through our relationship with local FS member cooperatives and their crop specialists that it happens.” Woelfel noted the infrastructure at local FS member cooperatives: “They have the equipment, the service plans, and the ability to address the whole-farm cropping challenges growers have. Our job (at GROWMARK) is to make sure our training provides the skill sets, the tools, and the software programs to do it better than others in the marketplace,” he said. GROWMARK is an industry leader in agronomic practices and adopting new technology. Woelfel said years ago crop specialists used slide rules to determine accurate fertilizer application for optimum yields. They graduated to electronic calculators, small

crop protection, and fertilizer products as a more significant force in the marketplace.” Woelfel acknowledged new technology and challenges will come with further growth. “If we have the approach that we are going to help make the best recommendations using the latest technologies that have real value and application with growers, and we

continue to train, prepare, and equip our people to work in these environments and provide access to the very best solutions, that’s our best position to have going forward,” he said. Amy Bradford is GROWMARK’s corporate communications manager. Her e-mail address is abradford@growmark.com.

Third of a series computers, and hand-helds as curement, marketing, and new technology was available. technical support while mainGROWtaining efficienMARK also cies. was one of the “Our acqui‘Our responsibility is sition of Agway first to use t o m a k e s u r e t h e took us to the Geographic Information best agronomic rec- farm gate on Systems (GIS). o m m e n d a t i o n s g e t the East Coast. “We took the put with the seed a Combined with lead in the Mid- farmer uses.’ our business in west with the Midwest, regard to the not only have — Rod Woefel we grown our utilization of manager of GROWMARK’s these tools, and own business, agronomy marketing and the acres that we became a agronomic services came with better partner them,” he said. for our member-owners and Agronomic solutions initial- with manufacturers of seed, ly were offered through local FS member cooperatives in Illinois, Iowa, and Wisconsin. GROWMARK expanded into Ontario, Canada, in 1994. In 2002, it moved into the East Coast market with the acquisition of Agway Agronomy and Seedway. Jim Spradlin, vice president of agronomy, said the larger footprint enables the cooperative to offer best-in-class expertise in the areas of pro-

Certified crop specialist program was created by GROWMARK In the 1980s, a challenge surfaced on how to assure farmers they were dealing with individuals who were trained to help make the best agronomic recommendations for their farming operations. In response, GROWMARK in 1986 created the certified crop specialist (CCS) program. The first program of its kind in the marketplace, the program requires crop specialists to demonstrate the highest ability of diagnostic and agronomic assessments. In 1993, the American Society of Agronomy (ASA) implemented a state and national program. Today, the ASA certified crop adviser (CCA) program is one of the largest agricultural certification programs in North America, with 13,000 CCAs in the U.S. and Canada. Attaining the CCA designation is a prerequisite for crop specialists who want to achieve their CCS recognition. Under the GROWMARK/FS CCS program, specialists are certified annually through a series of continuing education and professional leadership programs. Of the 400 crop specialists throughout the GROWMARK System, approximately 175 are certified. Rod Woelfel, GROWMARK’s manager of agronomy marketing and agronomic services, said some certified crop specialists were certified in 1986 and have recertified each subsequent year.

Jim Link, right, a crop specialist with Riverland FS Inc., Wataga, consults with farmer Mike DeSutter of Woodhull. (Photo courtesy of GROWMARK)


FarmWeek Page 10 Monday, July 27, 2009

RESEARCH A week earlier this year

U of I Agronomy Day packed with research information BY KAY SHIPMAN FarmWeek

Agronomy researchers are applying new high-tech tools to help farmers cope with herbicide resistance in weeds and get the information to them much faster.

FarmWeekNow.com Additional details on the exhibits at this year’s Agronomy Day are available at FarmWeekNow.com.

“It’s pretty exciting to be able to use these modern, sophisticated tools in weed species,” said Patrick Tranel, University of Illinois professor in molecular weed science. Tranel will discuss DNA sequencing of weeds Thursday, Aug. 13, during the U of I Agronomy Day. Agronomy Day typically has been on the third Thursday in August, but this year it will be a week earlier at the Crop Sciences Research and Education Center (South Farms), south of the main Urbana-Champaign campus off

of St. Mary’s Road. The event was moved up so it wouldn’t conflict with other ag events scheduled for later in the month. U of I researchers are using molecular information about weeds to help “develop a tool kit” for farmers, Tranel said. “Now that we have DNA sequences, when we have (herbicide) resistance, we can rapidly test for resistance (in weed populations),” Tranel explained. For example, scientists have developed a test to check weeds for resistance to PTO-inhibitor herbicides, such as Flexstar and Cobra. “There is a lot more resistance to PTO inhibitors out there than we’re aware of,” Tranel added. If a farmer encounters glyphosate resistance in a weedy soybean field, he might turn to a PTO-inhibitor herbicide for control. “If that (PTO inhibitor) didn’t work, he might wonder why,” Tranel said. Now, ag scientists can run a test on weeds to check for PTO resistance.

Farmers “are getting into more situations where control is an issue,” he said. Researchers also are working on a DNA test for glyphosate resistance in waterhemp. Agronomy Day will start at 7 a.m. with hour-long tours that will be repeated every half hour until about noon. Four separate tours will be offered. Tour subjects will include research findings on soybean varieties that are resistant to soybean aphids, management of western corn rootworm, biomass energy crops, and aerial fungicide applications. In addition to field tours, a tent will host displays from agricultural organizations, research projects, and agribusinesses. During a noon program, Colleen Callahan, director of Illinois Rural Development, will speak. She earned a degree in agricultural communications from the U of I. Information about Agronomy Day is

available online at {http://agronomy day.cropsci.illinois.edu/} or by contacting Sharon Conatser at 217-333-4256 or by e - m a i l i n g h e r a t s c o n a t s e @ i l linois.edu).

Agronomy Day booklet now available online A version of the booklet outlining research to be presented at the University of Illinois Agronomy Day on Aug. 13 is available online. The booklet offers brief summaries of the research projects that will be discussed. It may be found at {www.aces.uiuc.edu/news/News_Pho tos/agronomyday/agronomyday.pdf}. Printed booklets will be distributed at the event. More than 1,000 visitors attend the annual event on the Crop Sciences Research and Education Center, commonly known as the South Farms, south of the main Urbana campus.

Farmers may harness wind energy for on-farm power Illinois farmers could harness wind energy for electricity needs on their own farms, according to the director of a USDA Agricultural Nolan Clark Research Service lab. Nolan Clark, head of the

Conservation and Production Research Laboratory in Bushland, Texas, recently discussed on-farm use of wind-generated power at a state wind power conference in Bloomington. Clark focused on a farm operation using all of the power generated by an on-farm turbine instead of selling power wholesale on the grid. The Texas agricultural engineer suggested Illinois farms

could use wind-generated electricity to supplement any purchased power. “Many (farmers) who use propane now could convert (those operations) to electricity if they had cheap electricity,” Clark said. He suggested wind-generated power might be used for feed milling and handling systems on livestock farms and for operating grain bin dryers.

Specialty-crop grants available through IDOA The Illinois Department of Agriculture’s (IDOA) bureau of marketing and promotion is seeking grant proposals for nearly $435,000 made available by USDA to promote the domestic specialty-crop industry. In addition to grants for advertising and promotion, IDOA also is seeking mini-grant proposals for streamlining product distribution and handling. Advertising-related expenses for entities such as farmers’ markets are eligible as long as program requirements are met. Proposed projects should accomplish one or more of the following: • Increase nutrition knowledge and consumption of specialty crops; • Ensure industry participation at meetings of international standard-setting bodies in which the U.S. government participates; • Improve efficiency and reduce costs of

distribution systems; • Help specialty-crop distribution chain entities develop good farming, handling, and manufacturing practices; • Invest in specialty-crop research, including organic research to focus on conservation and environmental outcomes; • Enhance food safety; • Develop new and improved seed varieties and specialty crops; • Improve pest and disease control; and • Augment sustainability. IDOA will accept grant applications until Monday, 4 p.m. Aug. 3. Funding will be awarded early next year. Applications are available online at IDOA’s website {www.agr.state.il.us} or by contacting Delayne Reeves at 217-524-9129 or by e-mailing Delayne.Reeves@illinois.gov.

New U of I agronomy handbook available A revised edition of the “Illinois Agronomy Handbook” for research-based guidance on crop production is now available. The handbook has new information and guidelines as well as color photos and illustrations. Emerson Nafziger, University of Illinois crop sciences professor, said the handbook

contains a new chapter on nitrogen that completely replaces the corn-yield-based nitrogen (N) recommendation with a system that generates guideline N rates using recent data and taking into account changes in N and corn prices. The handbook will not be available free on the Internet, so some of the costs of pro-

ducing and printing the publication can be recovered. The handbook covers best management practices for Illinois conditions with information to increase yield and lower production costs. To order a copy, call 800-345-6087 or visit the Publication Plus website at {https://pubsplus.uiuc.edu/C 1394.html}. The price is $35.

Clark’s rule of thumb is that a turbine should supply about 60 percent of a farm’s electrical load. “You don’t want a turbine that is too big or too small,” he said. Most farmers are accomplished mechanics, but Clark recommended farmers buy a maintenance contract for any on-farm turbine because turbines contain so much electronics. However, farmers could do monthly or quarterly inspections of their turbines, he added. Education about on-farm turbine use is needed, and Clark said he has worked with University of Illinois Extension specialists to address that need.

Illinois isn’t alone in the need for wind energy education; nationwide, research labs are scrambling to provide information. Clark has a staff of four to address many issues, including small wind-energy projects. “NREL (the National Renewable Energy Laboratory) has two people working in small wind (research), and that’s at the national level,” Clark noted. The nation also needs safety and performance standards for small wind-energy equipment, according to Clark. Information about farm wind energy research is available online at {www.cprl.ars.usda.gov}. — Kay Shipman

Still time to apply for GRITs Farm Bureau members interested in Illinois agriculture policy issues have until Aug. 14 to apply for the Illinois Farm Bureau Grassroots Issue Teams (GRITs) program. The GRITs program provides members the opportunity to address emerging policy issues as well as identify new educational programs. The goal is to identify emerging policy issues and/or program opportunities to increase farm income for members. A new team, renewable resources and energy, has been added this year. The other seven teams are conservation and natural resources; crop production and trade; equine; livestock and dairy; risk management and farm programs; rural life; and special crops and labor. GRITs teams meet twice a year. The first meeting is scheduled for Dec. 18 in Bloomington with the second meeting scheduled next March. Interested Farm Bureau 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.


FarmWeek Page 11 Monday, July 27,

IFB IN ACTION

Discussion Meet deadline Aug. 4

LARGE GIFT

Country Financial CEO John Blackburn, left, presents a $100,000 contribution to Illinois Farm Bureau President and IAA Foundation Chairman Philip Nelson to help support Illinois Agriculture in the Classroom. The donation is the largest single gift ever from a corporate entity. A significant portion of the donation will go toward helping fund county grants supporting ag literacy coordinators throughout Illinois. (Photo by Al Hasty)

Datebook July 29 Illinois Farm Bureau Commodities Conference, 8:30 a.m., Crowne Plaza, Springfield. July 30 Illinois Agriculture in the Classroom golf outing, Wolf Creek Golf Club and Elks Country Club, Pontiac. University of Illinois Brownstown Agronomy Center field day, starts at 9 a.m., Brownstown. Aug. 6 University of Illinois Dixon Springs Agricultural Center field day, 8 a.m. to noon, Simpson. Illinois Conference on Agricultural Land Use and Planning, 8:30 a.m., Oak Ridge Golf Course, LaSalle. Registration deadline July 30. Call 815-395-5710. Aug. 13 University of Illinois Agronomy Day, 7 a.m. to 2 p.m., South Farm, Urbana. Aug. 14-23 Illinois State Fair, Springfield.

PULLING FOR AG

Young Leaders who want to compete in this year’s Discussion Meet have until Aug. 4 to register with their local county Farm Bureau. The annual Discussion Meet is a competition in which 18 to 35 year olds exchange facts and insights about a predetermined topic. A panel of judges scores the contestants on how well each works with other contestants and how well each expresses his or her views on the topic. Winners advance from local competitions to the state event held in conjunction with the Illinois Farm Bureau annual meeting in December. The winner of the state event then will compete at the national contest held during the American Farm Bureau Federation annual meeting in January. The winner of the national contest receives a new Dodge Ram pickup. More information about the Discussion Meet is available by watching a video of last year’s contest online at {www.ilfb.org}.

. . . y e k r u t k l a Let’s t tractors, cows, and corn

!

Come Stick Your Neck Out at Your County Farm Bureau Young Leaders Discussion Meet.

Show your art of discussion for hot agricultural topics - and compete for great prizes, including a chance to represent our state at the National Discussion Meet. District & State Discussion Topics: How can agricultural producers reach out to the public to gain their support on important issues impacting agriculture? What can be done to encourage young people to get involved in the agricultural industry and remain there?

Entry Deadline August 4 (to Illinois Farm Bureau) Contact your county Farm Bureau® for eligibility and contest information. IAA District 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 & 12 13 & 17 14 15 & 16 18

Jessica Farthing of Tamaroa in Perry County was among the more than 300 trap and sporting clays shooters participating in the recent third annual Pull for Ag Education event at the World Shooting & Recreation Complex in Sparta. All funds raised at the event go to help Illinois Agriculture in the Classroom continue its mission to promote agriculture literacy. (Photo by Al Hasty)

Date August 27 August 24 August 19 August 24 August 6 August 24 August 25 August 12 August 19 August 11 August 25 August 27 August 10 August 27 August 20

Starting Time 7:00 p.m. 7:00 p.m. 7:00 p.m. 4:30 p.m. 6:30 p.m. 7:00 p.m. 7:00 p.m. 6:30 p.m. 7:00 p.m. 7:00 p.m. 6:30 p.m. 6:30 p.m. 6:30 p.m. 6:30 p.m. 6:30 p.m.

Location DeKalb County FB, Sycamore Stephenson County FB, Freeport Henry County FB, Cambridge Wise Guys Restaurant, Princeton Will County FB, Joliet Livingston County FB, Pontiac Tazewell County FB, Pekin Knox Agri-Center, Galesburg Adams County FB, Quincy Cass-Morgan FB, Jacksonville Champaign County FB, Champaign Edwards County FB, Albion Montgomery County FB, Hillsboro Madison County FB, Edwardsville Saline County FB, Harrisburg

Additional State Topics: The U.S. has the safest food supply in the world. How do farmers continue to improve the public’s perception of their products? How can we continue to bridge the gap between farmers/ranchers and lawmakers in order to have an influence in the changing political environment? State Winner June 1 - Aug. 1, 2010 (2 mo. use) or 100 hrs. use (whichever comes first) on an AGCO DT205B 4WD cab tractor, 205 PTO hp. Power Maxx CVT powershuttle transmission (additional terms apply) (courtesy of AGCO) $ 1,000 Cash (courtesy of IFB) Trip to 2010 AFBF® Annual Meeting, January 10-13, Seattle, WA Trip to 2010 IFB® Young Leader Conference, February 5-7 Trip to 2010 GROWMARK Annual Meeting First Runner-Up $600 VISA Gift Card (courtesy of 1st Farm Credit Services & Farm Credit Services of Illinois) Four State Finalists $ 200 Cash (courtesy of COUNTRY® Financial) 1 yr. membership in Illinois Soybean Association District Winners COUNTRY® prize $50 Fast Stop gift card for fuel or merchandise (courtesy of GROWMARK, Inc.) Trip to 2009 IAA Annual Meeting in Chicago with specific expenses to be paid

MY013T9REVISED


FarmWeek Page 12 Monday, July 27, 2009

LIVESTOCK

Inventory declines; market may be poised to recover BY DANIEL GRANT FarmWeek

The cattle market may be poised in coming months to bounce back from summer lows as market-ready supplies of animals could get tight. USDA on Friday reported the inventory of cattle and calves on feed for the slaughter market in the U.S. (9.8 million head as of July 1) was down 5 percent compared to the same time last year. Meanwhile, placements in feedlots in June totaled just 1.39 million head, 8 percent lower than a year ago. “The number (of cattle) slated to come out of feedlots could get drastically tighter,” said Dale Durchholz, AgriVisor market analyst. “It’s going to have an impact (on the market).”

Cattle slaughter by this fall could sink to as few as 580,000 head per week compared to

‘Cattle prices could become more attractive as we look to the fall months.’ — Dale Durchholz AgriVisor

640,000 head per week during the fall of 2008. In fact, slaughter numbers in October, November, and/or December could reach five-year lows, accord-

ing to the analyst. The smaller cattle inventories “Cattle prices could become in the most recent report were more attractive as we look to expected, according to Durchthe fall months,” Durchholz holz. But one number that caught said. “I think we’re setting up some traders off guard was marthe cattle marketings, which ket, once increased 1 percent FarmWeekNow.com we’re out of from a year ago. The the dog days Details of the USDA cattle in- trade reportedly ventory report are available anticipated a reducof summer, to lift out of at FarmWeekNow.com. tion in marketings the lower from last year. $80s and start “That implies our march upward back to $90 the number of market-ready and maybe even the low $90s cattle in feedlots should be rel(per hundredweight).” atively current,” Durchholz Beef supplies could get even said. tighter once the U.S. dairy Dressed weights in the most industry completes its dairy recent report also were higher cow buyout. Dairy cows that than last year (see graphic). have gone to slaughter in Durchholz believes the heavier recent months have kept the weights are a function of the beef cattle market under presmild summer in the Midwest, a sure, the analyst noted. recent decline in corn prices

that reduced feed costs, and the fact that cattle prices earlier this year were soft and feedlot managers, therefore, were not as willing to price their animals.

Irrigation field day scheduled Aug. 6 The first-ever irrigation field day for farmers and landowners in Southeastern Illinois and southwestern Indiana has been scheduled for Thursday, Aug. 6, at 8:15 a.m. Central Time at the JMR Farms on old Route U.S. 50 between Lawrenceville and Vincennes, Ind. The field day will provide an opportunity for both landowners and producers to obtain the most current information about the assessment of irrigation systems. Lyndon Kelley, Purdue’s Extension irrigation specialist, will be the featured speaker. Topics to be covered include: • Water application uniformity issues and assessments • Trickle irrigation • Irrigation scheduling issues • Irrigation scheduling tools and techniques • Chemigation and fertigation — required backflow prevention and safety equipment For additional information, contact the Knox County, Ind., Soil and Water Conservation District at 812-882-8210, extension No. 3. Breakfast will be provided. Reservations are due prior to Aug. 3.

Illinois forage expo offers demonstrations The Illinois Forage Expo will be Friday from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. on the Meier Farms near Ridott in Stephenson County. Meier Farms is a family dairy confinement operation with 345 acres of alfalfa. The expo will include field demonstrations of forage harvesting equipment and commercial displays of forage-related products and equipment. Educational sessions will cover the use of autosteer in forage systems, economics of alfalfa production, managing risk with hay insurance, and nutrient management planning and the environmental quality incentives program (EQIP). In addition, producers may participate in a free quality hay and haylage contest. Contest entries must be delivered to the site between 9 and 10 a.m. Bales weighing more than 100 pounds will need an official scale weigh ticket. Lunch will be available at the site. Additional information is available online at {web.extension.uiuc.edu/stephenson/index.html}. The expo is sponsored by the Illinois Forage and Grassland Council, Blackhawk Hills Resource Conservation and Development, and the Illinois Environmental Protection Agency.


FarmWeek Page 13 Monday, July 27, 2009

FROM THE COUNTIES

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UREAU — The Member Relations Task Force and the Extension office will sponsor three computer classes from 3 to 5 p.m. Tuesdays, Aug. 4, 11, and 18, at the Princeton High School computer lab. Computer basics, Microsoft Excel, and introduction to the Internet will be covered. Cost is $10 per class. Call the Farm Bureau office at 815-875-6468 by Tuesday for reservations or more information. • Farm Bureau, Henry, Marshall-Putnam, and Stark County Farm Bureaus will sponsor a local government conference at 9 a.m. Tuesday, Aug. 11, at the Farm Bureau office, Princeton. Breakfast will be served. Topics will include local road funding, rural development, and drainage law. Call the Farm Bureau office at 815-875-6468 by Friday for reservations or more information. HAMPAIGN — Farm Bureau will sponsor a “Preparing for Tomorrow’s Harvest: AgriEnergy” seminar from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Tuesday, Aug. 11, at the Tony Noel Agricultural Center, Parkland College, Champaign. Speakers will include former congressman Tom Ewing; director of the Center for Advanced Bioenergy Research Hans Blaschek; Vice President of Biofuels for Monsanto Technology Martha Schlicher; and Illinois state Director of Rural Development Colleen Callahan. Cost is $25, which includes lunch. Call the Farm Bureau office at 217-352-5235 or go online at {www.ccfarmbureau.com} for reservations or more information. ULTON — The allmember pool party will be at 6 p.m. Friday at the Big Creek Park, Canton. Call the Farm Bureau office for more information. ERSEY — The Marketing Committee will sponsor a pork promotion from 4 to 7 p.m. Tuesday, Aug. 4, at the State Street Farmers’ Market. Jersey County Farm Bureau members will receive 50 cents off a pork chop or burger sandwich by showing their membership card. NOX — Doug Yoder, Illinois Farm Bureau senior director of marketing and risk management, will be the speaker at an average crop revenue election (ACRE) meeting at 9 a.m. Thursday, Aug. 6, at the Knox Agri Center. Call the Farm Bureau office at 342-2036 for reservations or more information. AWRENCE — The Young Leaders will sponsor a pedal tractor pull at 5 p.m. Monday (today) at the

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county fair. There will be prizes for the top three individuals in each class. • The Young Leaders will sponsor a family fun night at 7 p.m. Tuesday at the fair. Games for all ages will be in the grandstand. EE — Lee, Carroll, and Whiteside County Farm Bureaus will sponsor a local government conference at 1 p.m. Thursday at Sauk Valley Community College, Room 2K2. The program will focus on local funding of rural roads, rural development, and local government funding. Call the Farm Bureau office at 815-857-3531 or e-mail leecfb@comcast.net for reservations or more information. • The Young Farmer Committee is sponsoring a “Harvest for All” food drive, which will continue through Aug. 8. Non-perishable food items may be dropped off at the Farm Bureau office or the Woodhaven Association main office. Call the Farm Bureau office at 815-857-3531 or email leecfb@comcast.net for more information. • A policy development meeting will be at 7:30 p.m. Tuesday, Aug. 4, at the Farm Bureau office. Members may take part in this grassroots process to help shape Farm Bureau policy. Call the Farm Bureau office at 815-857-3531 or e-mail leecfb@comcast.net for more information. • Farm Bureau will sponsor is 15th annual Farm Visit Day from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday, Aug. 8. Buses will leave Woodhaven Association to visit the host farm. Tickets are available at Woodhaven’s main office and are required to board the bus. Call Woodhaven’s office at 815-849-5200 or the Farm Bureau office at 815-857-3531 for more information. ONTGOMERY — The Prime Timers will sponsor a bus trip Tuesday, Aug. 4, to Fairmount Park Race Track, Collinsville. The bus will leave at the following times and locations: 9:35 a.m. downtown park, Nokomis; 10:05 a.m. Farm Bureau office; and 10:20 a.m. former Kroger parking lot, Litchfield. • Kevin Rund, Illinois Farm Bureau senior director of local government, and Paul Hentze, Illinois State Police District 18, will present an “On the Road” seminar at 7 p.m. Wednesday, Aug. 5, at the M&M Service Co. fertilizer plant, Litchfield. Topics will include U.S. Department of Transportation numbers, commercial driver’s license requirements, and medical cards. The program is sponsored by Macoupin and Montgomery County Farm Bureaus and M

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& M Service Co. Call the Farm Bureau office for more information. EORIA — A renewable energy breakfast meeting will be at 7:30 a.m. Friday, Aug. 7, at the Farm Bureau auditorium. Bauer Power will give a presentation on solar, wind, and geothermal energy. Call the Farm Bureau office at 309-686-7070 by Monday, Aug. 3, for reservations or more information. • Orders for Southern Illinois peaches are due by Friday, Aug. 7. Cost is $20 for a 25pound box. Peaches may be picked up at the Farm Bureau office Thursday, Aug. 13. OCK ISLAND — A Rules of the Road seminar will be at 7 p.m. Tuesday, Aug. 11, at the Farm Bureau office. Kevin Rund, Illinois Farm Bureau senior director of local government, and Joey Delarosa, Illinois State Police commercial vehicle officer, will be the speakers. Call the Farm Bureau office at 309736-7432 for reservations or more information. • The Rock Island County Farm Bureau Foundation golf outing will be at 8 a.m. Friday, Aug. 14, at the Highland Springs Golf Course, Rock Island. Cost is $60 or $290 for a foursome plus a hole sponsorship. Call the Farm Bureau office for more information. • The annual meeting will begin with dinner at 5:30 p.m. Thursday, Sept. 3, at the Milan Community Center. A Viewpoint meeting will be held with U.S. Rep. Phil Hare (DRock Island), Jim Bohnsack, county board chairman, and local Farm Bureau directors attending. ANGAMON — The Marketing Committee will sponsor a market education tour to Twin Groves Wind Farm in McLean County and a tour of Becks Hybrid research facility near LeRoy Tuesday, Aug. 11. The bus will leave the Farm Bureau office at 8:15 a.m. and return by approximately 5 p.m. Cost is $20 for members and $35 for non-members. Call the Farm Bureau office at 217-753-5200 by Wednesday, Aug. 5, for reservations or more information. TEPHENSON -Orders for Cresthaven peaches from Rendleman Orchards are due Thursday, Aug. 6. Cost is $20 for a 25pound box for members and $23 for non-members. Delivery will be Monday, Aug. 10. Call the Farm Bureau office at 815-232-3186 or at {www.stephensoncfb.org} for an order form. • A “first on the scene” farm safety and rescue program will be from 10 a.m. to 3

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p.m. at the Kevin Keltner farm near Pearl City. Stateline Farm Rescue will present the program highlighting farm hazards and safety procedures. Lunch will be served. Call the Farm Bureau office at 815232-3186 for reservations or more information. • Farm Bureau has bus trips planned to the Illinois State Fair on Tuesday, Aug. 18; the John Deere Tractor and Engine Works, Waterloo, Iowa, on Wednesday, Aug. 19; and to the Farm Progress Show on Tuesday, Sept. 1. Complete details can be found at {www.stephensoncfb.org}. Call the Farm Bureau office at 815-232-3186 for reservations. • A bus trip to the Half Century of Progress Show in Rantoul will be Saturday, Aug. 29. The bus will leave at 6:30 a.m. from Forreston High School. Contact Eric Kohlbauer at 816-362-2111 for more information. • Preview programs for the August 2010 trips with TriState Travel will be at 7:30 p.m. Thursday, Aug. 20, for the Nova Scotia trip and Tuesday, Sept. 22, for the Michigan trip. Details are available at {www.stephensoncfb.org} or call the Farm Bureau office at 815-232-3186. ERMILION — Kevin Rund, Illinois Farm Bureau senior director of local government, will be the speaker at a unified carrier registration truck information meeting at 9 a.m. Friday at the Farm Bureau office. Call the Farm Bureau office for more information.

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ARREN-HENDERSON — A Farm Safety Day planning meeting will be at 10 a.m. Wednesday, Aug. 5, at the Farm Bureau office. There will be two safety days planned — one for fifth grade students on Sept. 30 and one for seventh grade students on Oct. 1. Call the Farm Bureau office at 309-734-9401 for more information. • Farm Bureau will sponsor an average crop revenue election (ACRE) meeting at 1 p.m. Thursday, Aug. 6, at the Farm Bureau office. Doug Yoder, Illinois Farm Bureau, will be the speaker. Mark Phillipson, Warren County Farm Service Agency, and Cindy Bridgford, Henderson County Farm Service Agency, also will attend. Call the Farm Bureau office at 309-734-9401 for more information. • Farm Bureau and Wyffels Hybrids will sponsor a marketing and crop report breakfast meeting at 7 a.m. Wednesday, Aug. 12, at the Farm Bureau office. Call the Farm Bureau office at 309-734-9401 for

reservations or more information. • Farm Bureau and Country Financial will sponsor an educational long-term care insurance seminar at 2:30 p.m. Thursday, Aug. 13, at the Farm Bureau office. Call the Farm Bureau office at 309-734-9403 for reservations or more information. • Farm Bureau will sponsor a program at 6 p.m. Thursday, Aug. 13, on how to plan financially for a family with special needs. Rick Morgan, an attorney, will discuss special needs trusts. Call the Farm Bureau office at 309-734-9403 by Monday, Aug. 10, for reservations or more information. AYNE — Wayne and Edwards County Farm Bureaus and the Farm Service Agency will sponsor an average crop revenue election (ACRE) update meeting at 7 p.m. Monday, Aug. 3, at the Community of Christ Church, Fairfield. Doug Yoder, Illinois Farm Bureau senior director of marketing and risk management, will be the speaker. Call the Farm Bureau office at 842-3342 for reservations or more information. • Farm Bureau will sponsor its annual appreciation dinner from 5 to 7 p.m. Friday, Aug. 7, at the Cumberland Presbyterian Church, Fairfield. Tickets are $2, but children 12 and under may eat for free. Takeouts are available. A silent auction will benefit the Wayne County Ag in the Classroom program. Tickets must be purchased by Aug. 1. • The first annual Wayne County Antique Tractor Drive will be on Labor Day, Sept. 7. The event will begin and end at Grainergy Farms, north of Geff. Drivers may register by calling the Farm Bureau office or by stopping by the office. HITE — Farm Bureau will sponsor its annual appreciation lunch from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. Wednesday, Aug. 12, at the Floral Hall, White County Fairgrounds. Call the Farm Bureau office at 618-382-8512 by Wednesday, Aug. 5, for reservations or more information. HITESIDE — Farm Bureau will host an antique tractor drive Monday, Aug. 17. The ride leaves the county fairgrounds at 8 a.m. and travels to Coleta and returns through MorrisonRockwood State Park. Registration is $35 per tractor. All proceeds will benefit the county’s Agriculture in the Classroom program. Deadline to register is Friday, Aug. 7. Call the Farm Bureau office at 815772-2165 for a registration form or more information.

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FarmWeek Page 14 Monday, July 27, 2009

PROFITABILITY

Analyst: Crude oil prices may have peaked for 2009 BY DANIEL GRANT FarmWeek

Crude oil prices for the second year in a row may have peaked for the year in July, according to Phil Flynn, senior market analyst with PFGBest’s Research and a contributor to the Fox Business Network. If oil prices have peaked, this year’s high would end up near $75 per barrel compared to oil’s historic run last year that topped out at $147 per barrel. The oil market “just hit $74 to $75. Now it’s trying to decide where to go next,” Flynn said last week during a mid-year commodities outlook teleconference hosted by Dow Jones Indexes. “It likely could test the highs again, but I think we’re

getting close (to a peak).” Flynn projected a “sell-off ” in the crude oil market once prices reach their peak. Prices in coming months, therefore, could test the January low of about $35 per barrel, according to the analyst. That type of scenario would be welcomed by consumers, including farmers, who would benefit from lower prices for everything from gasoline and diesel fuel to heating oil. In fact, Flynn believes a “price collapse” in the gasoline market is possible, due to what he described as plenty of supply and refining capacity. Meanwhile, an eventual economic recovery likely will result in the federal government raising interest rates, which will be “very

bullish for the dollar and keep a cap on the price of oil,” Flynn said. The analyst, however, is concerned about possible government intervention in the energy market. “There seems to be a real movement toward taking away hedge exemptions and instituting position limits,” Flynn said. “I think that’s a real danger to the energy market, and I’m concerned how that would affect the economy.” Flynn rejected the idea that speculators in the energy market are to blame for last year’s historic run-up in prices. “Liquidity always lowers volatility,” he said. So why have energy markets been more volatile in 2008 and 2009?

“When oil prices reached $147, it was not about supply and demand,” Flynn explained. “People had lost confidence in

the U.S. economy and the U.S. banking system so they were using it (the oil market) as a hedge against systemic risk.”

Finishing off the year: Fungicides needed? BY LANCE RUPPERT

As an encore to the 2008 growing season, Mother Nature brought out her worst in 2009 and gave us an even more challenging spring to deal with. Many said the spring of 2009 was the wettest and latest anyone can remember. As farmers, we must play the cards we’re dealt and do the best with what we have. So how do I maximize what is in the field today through this fall’s harvest? In addition to moisture and

heat units, what factors may affect my crops yield in the next 60 days? The short answer: disease and insects. In late-planting years, there is the potential for greater yield reduction from disease and insects. With the abundance of moisture, moderate temperatures, and reduced tillage, the probability of leaf disease in both corn and soybeans is relatively high. As you recall, our situation last year was very similar to this year at this time. Growers who used a fungicide application on their corn and soybean acres reaped the rewards of higher yields than those who

didn’t treat their fields. As you mull over the pros and cons of applying a fungicide, consider analyzing the situation from a return on investment (ROI) viewpoint. If the projected revenue/acre (bushels of increased yield x market price/bushels) is greater than the projected cost/acre (product and application costs), the application of a fungicide probably makes sense. When thinking about corn, please do not overlook the plant health benefits of some fungicides and the ability for the plant to have a stronger stalk and stand in the field bet-

ter and longer than untreated corn. This looks to be a repeat of last year with late plantings and a cooler-than-normal summer forcing the crop to remain in the field well into the fall. Standing corn makes everyone’s life better and allows harvest to be more efficient and profitable. What value you place on that added benefit should be considered when making a decision. Insect pressure can come quickly and negatively impact final yield. Many growers have seen yield response to planned applications of insecticides with fungicides. Again, a

sound economic analysis based on ROI, will help you make better decisions. A final piece to the fungicide and insecticide puzzle is to use an adjuvant package that can help these products work better, giving more value to the investment. Any decision on management practices requires good information. Contact your local FS crop specialist for the most current information and recommendations. Lance Ruppert is crop protection marketing manager for GROWMARK. His e-mail address is lruppert@growmark.com.

M A R K Feeder E T pigFA CTS prices reported to USDA* Weight 10 lbs. 40 lbs. 50 lbs. Receipts

Range Per Head Weighted Ave. Price $14.00-$37.63 $29.35 $26.00-$30.00 $26.59 n/a n/a This Week Last Week 20,779 15,896 *Eastern Corn Belt prices picked up at seller’s farm

BY JEFF BUNTING

Eastern Corn Belt direct hogs (plant delivered) Carcass Live

(Prices $ per hundredweight) This week Prev. week $57.01 $56.26 $42.19 $41.63

Change 0.75 0.56

USDA five-state area slaughter cattle price (Thursday’s price) Steers Heifers

This week 83.04 82.47

Prv. week 83.86 83.84

Change -0.82 -1.37

Lamb prices Confirmed lamb and sheep sales This week 775 Last week 886 Last year 787 Wooled Slaughter Lambs: Choice and Prime 2-3: 90-110 lbs, $96--$100. Good and Choice 1-2: 60-90 lbs., $105. Slaughter Ewes: Utility and Good 1-3: $25-$28.50. Cull and Utility 1-2: $25.

Export inspections (Million bushels)

Week ending Soybeans Wheat 07-16-09 13.4 19.0 07-09-09 11.2 9.8 Last year 7.4 30.4 Season total 1172.0 94.7 Previous season total 1054.6 145.0 USDA projected total 1210 980 Crop marketing year began June 1 for wheat and Sept. 1 for corn and soybeans.

Corn 36.8 39.4 31.2 1495.2 2099.0 1700

Recent below-average temperatures have led to the question: “Is this good or bad?” The amount of growing degree days (GDDs) is about half where it should be. If this period lasts awhile, it might not be good, but right now it’s not bad. The process of photosynthesis involves many factors. Cooler temperatures reduce photosynthesis, reducing dry matter accumulation, and water use rates. The cool nights increase the retention of sugars produced during the day, which means more sugars are retained. It’s a balancing act right now. Using the same calendar date, about half of the corn acres were silked in 2008 compared to only a quarter of the crop in 2009 with the most critical time for yield determination approaching. There are reports of corn diseases, with gray leaf spot being the most common. Many questions need to be addressed before making the decision to apply fungicides, so give your FS crop specialist a call. Corn color is good except for those areas that had standing water. Overall weed control appears to be pretty good. The soil-applied herbicides did a good job and put less pressure on the post applications. There have been a few issues in controlling

weeds such as waterhemp, giant ragweed, and lambsquarters, mainly related to the size of the weeds at the time of application or the rate that was used to control them. If you suspect herbicide resistance on your farm, contact your local FS crop specialist to determine if this is an issue. Soybean growth across the state varies from just planted to almost setting pods. Photosynthesis in soybeans can be limited during the day following a cool night. Soybean color looks good, meaning the root nodules are active. A great amount of volunteer corn is present this year. University research has shown that volunteer corn in soybeans can cause significant yield loss, depending on the amount and how long it competes with soybeans. It has been a long, challenging year — one that many of us won’t forget. Plot tours will be taking place soon. Planting intentions will be decided and then nutrient applications will be made. Next comes the decision for fall herbicide application to avoid delays in planting the 2010 crop or to get a handle on those pesky winter annual weeds. Jeff Bunting is GROWMARK’s weed science technical manager. His e-mail address is jbunting@growmark.com.


FarmWeek Page 15 Monday, July 27, 2009

PROFITABILITY Corn Strategy

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

Corn is relatively cheap Looking at these three graphics, you get the sense that the corn has become cheap. It may not be extraordinarily cheap, other than relative to

Basis charts

gold, but it has become cheap nonetheless, especially compared to direct competitors such as wheat and soybean meal. The relationship between corn and gold may be an exaggeration of the extent corn has become undervalued, but it still illustrates values are in the process of being pulled to an extreme. At some point, the relationship between the two will go through an adjustment process. Either corn prices will move up, gold prices will move down, or a combination of both will occur. Even though this means little to the market next week, next month, even the next two to three months, it’s clear there should be an adjustment in these relative values over the next year or so. And with corn prices at the lower end of the relative price spectrum, it should have the least downside risk and the most upside potential. AgriVisor endorses crop insurance by

AgriVisor LLC 1701 N. Towanda Avenue PO Box 2500 Bloomington IL 61702-2901 309-557-3147 AgriVisor LLC is not liable for any damages which anyone may sustain by reason of inaccuracy or inadequacy of information provided herein, any error of judgment involving any projections, recommendations, or advice or any other act of omission.

Policies issued by COUNTRY Mutual Insurance Company®, Bloomington, Illinois AgriVisor Hotline Number

309-557-2274

Cents per bu.

✓2008 crop: Corn prices have fallen to levels that have little downside risk. We expect a better pricing opportunity before summer’s end to make needed old-crop sales. Tie up the basis if you can. Plan to make sales if December futures move back into the $3.50-$3.75 range. If storage is available, it may pay to carry some inventory past harvest. ✓2009 crop: There are a few signs the minor trend is turning back up. December futures need to close above $3.50 to confirm it. Hold off new-crop sales. We may recommend only needed harvest sales on the rebound we expect over the next few weeks. ❖Fundamentals: USDA announced it will resurvey some eastern Corn Belt states for acreage, hinting corn acreage could be reduced in the August report. Last year, though, the plantings were reduced only about 400,000 acres in the August report. Yield expectations remain high with the relative stress-free environment, but there’s an acknowledgement the market may need to build in some “frost risk” premium.

Soybean Strategy ✓2008 crop: Soybean prices may have put in their 16- to 18-week cycle low. If you can, tie up the basis on old-crop inventories against November futures. Use a rally on that contract to $9.75 to complete pricing. ✓2009 crop: The action on November futures continues to imply downside risk is relatively small. Still, the extent of the decline has ruled out a move back near early summer highs anytime soon. We prefer to carry unpriced inventory into post-harvest. We think it will pay to store soybeans unless the cost is exceptionally high. If you need to price soybeans before harvest, wait to see if November futures can move back to $9.75 before making sales. ❖Fundamentals: China failed to attract any bids for the soybeans it offered to the

market. Chinese crushers continue to willingly buy U.S. soybeans. India may not have as much meal to sell in the fall in Asia, either, potentially boosting our meal exports. Still, our crop has good production potential.

Wheat Strategy ✓2009 crop: Prices again broke an emerging short-term uptrend. However, it appears the $5.12 low may hold. Going forward, prices need to close above the 20-day moving average before higher prices might be more secure. Continue to hold off additional sales. We

anticipate better pricing opportunities in late summer/early fall. But, if your sales lag recommendations, use rallies near $5.50 on Chicago September to get caught up. ❖Fundamentals: Fundamentally, wheat has very little that would suggest much upside momentum. Demand has been routine at best, with weekly export sales continuing at a nominal pace, 342,300 metric tons (12.5 million bushels) this past week. Short-term stocks remain adequate with fresh inventories that entered the pipelines from harvest.


FarmWeek Page 16 Monday, July 27, 2009

PERSPECTIVES

Trade opportunities crucial to ag economy

l i o y he o S o t e! t cu s e r

Can pantry products help you avoid insect bites? One of the realities of life is that encounters with insects of the biting kind always increase during the summer. When an insect takes a bite out of a human, scientists say it is an example of an ecological relationship called parasitism. Such a relationship means that one species will benefit and the other will not. In the case of insects, biting us it is painfully evident that we are not the species benefiting from the encounter. So thinking animals that we are, we do what we can to avoid becoming a two-legged meal for a six-legged insect. Our efforts to avoid providing food for an insect are generally associated with one of three approaches. The first, at least in modern times, is use TOM of an insecticide to kill potenTURPIN tially offending insects. Some of these efforts use area-wide programs involving government, such as mosquito abatement districts. The second general approach is directed toward keeping the insects out of our spaces. Such things and activities, including window screens, mosquito nets, light traps, ultrasonic devices, and burning plant materials, are used. In spite of the claims touted through slick ads in the media, only the physical barriers -- the screens and the nets -- and burning some plant materials actually work. Light traps and ultrasonic devices when used alone are not effective in reducing encounters of the close kind with biting insects. A third approach can best be described as personal protection that involves the use of an insect repellent. The idea behind repellents is that a person wears a chemical, which either masks an odor that attracts the insect in the first place or prevents an insect from landing. Through the magic of modern chemistry, a number of very effective insect repellents are available on the market. The first was DEET, developed in 1946 by the U.S. Department of Defense. Others include picaridin, IR3535, DEPA, and MGK 264. All of these products have abbreviations because the official chemical names are impossible to pronounce or remember unless

you happen to be a chemist. The first repellents, though, were natural compounds that were no doubt discovered by accident. Which brings us to the relationship between humans and plants. Plants are a great food item. Because plants have been fed on by all kinds of creatures over the ages, these green food items defend themselves with chemical defenses. In other words, many plants are bad tasting or even poisonous when eaten. And as you might suspect, many plants produce chemicals that insects avoid, and some of these have become “natural repellents.” For instance, oil of citronella, a product made from a grass of Indian origin, first sold as a repellent in 1882 as McKesson’s Oil. As it turns out, many plant extracts that are used as spices and flavors in cooking have some insect repellent activity. For instance, anise, basil, fennel, garlic, ginger, peppermint, spearmint, black pepper, rosemary, sassafras, sesame, bayberry, and turmeric will all provide short-duration relief from biting insects. Plant extracts that have a longer protective action include soybean oil, celery, clove, coconut oil, garlic, lime, palm oil, and thyme. In general, these natural products are highly volatile and evaporate from the skin rather quickly. That means that the products will have to be reapplied often to be effective. The general perception that natural products will be safe to eat or rub on our skin is not always true. We need to remember that nicotine, cocaine, and strychnine are natural plant products, as is urushiol, the problem chemical in poison ivy. And the widely used citronella, for instance, can cause irritation in some people when applied on the skin. So when mosquitoes begin to bite as you work in the garden, don’t reach for the repellent spray can. Just head to the pantry and grab a little soybean oil and add a dash of rosemary and thyme and a pinch of black pepper. If the homemade mixture prevents bites, you won’t be sure if the mosquitoes were repelled or if they just mistook you for a garden plant. Tom Turpin is an entomology professor at Purdue University, West Lafayette, Ind. His e-mail address is turpin@purdue.edu.

How do we breathe some life into the agriculture economy? About 75 percent of what we produce is sold domestically. The other 25 percent is exported. Maybe we can grow the domestic market some, but the real opportunity can be found beyond our borders. In fact, shortly after confirmation in a speech to the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, our new U.S. trade ambassador, Ron Kirk, pointed out the Obama administration is working to put its stamp on bilateral trade agreements with Panama, Colombia, and South Korea that were negotiated by the Bush administration. “Our success in resolving outstanding issues will determine the pace at which we JOHN move forward with our FTAs (free trade BLOCK agreements),” he said. Well, the pace is discouragingly slow. Nothing is happening. Recently, the South Korean president arrived in Washington to meet with President Obama. As close allies, we are standing shoulder to shoulder against the North Korean nuclear threat. It was a perfect time to show solidarity by agreeing to move ahead with the free trade agreement with South Korea. Just think of all the beef we could sell. But no! Nothing was done. The same thing happened to the president of Colombia, who visited a couple of weeks ago. President Obama sent him home empty-handed. No deal! Colombia is a friend of ours in opposition to Venezuela dictator Hugo Chavez. The trade pact would end duties on tons of our farm products, expanding sales dramatically. I thought the president was moving on the Panama deal, but now, apparently that sits in limbo. I credit the president for his modest move to lift some of the financial obstacles in trade with Cuba, but even there we simply need to do more — faster. We are in a recession that is pushing unemployment up. We need jobs and economic activity. The most effective and easy way to improve the situation is to open the trade channels. Our trade problems are not being addressed. Improperly naming our new flu “swine flu” has hammered pork exports. The House spending bill has a provision that bars the imports of Chinese chicken. Now, they won’t buy our chicken. There are market opportunities within our reach, and we aren’t doing anything. John Block, former U.S. agriculture secretary from Gilson, is a senior policy adviser with the Washington, D.C., firm of Olsson, Frank, Weeda, and Terman, which specializes in ag issues. His e-mail address is jblock@ofwlaw.com.

Letter to the editor

Recent weather doesn’t seem very much like global warming Editor: We are having “global warming” here this year. It is mid-July and this is the coldest week of the coldest summer I can remember in my 58 years. It must be global warming, because that is all that is acceptable as an explanation. And, of course, man has to have caused any observable climate change. I mean what else under the sun could have? Have you heard how is the weather is in Washington, D.C.? Are our rulers still following Al Gore over the cap and trade cliff into the sea? Will China and India cap their economies and trade away their countries? I’ve read that the Red Planet has warmed and cooled in the same cycle as Earth. I wonder what legislation the Martians have passed. DANIEL HARMS, Bone Gap


FarmWeek July 27, 2009