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THE DIALOGUE on biotech crops is not and should not be over, a panel said last week at an international biotech conference in Chicago. ...........................................4

A METEOROLOGIST predicts the cool, wet pattern that dominated March and April could continue into the first part of May, further delaying planting. ...............6

ANOTHER LARGE disbursement from the 1st Farm Credit Services (FCS) donor-advised fund was made last week. It was the third such disbursement. ...............8

Hog producer: Immigrant labor no ‘cheap’ labor

IFB team seeks labor reforms Monday, April 29, 2013


Periodicals: Time Valued

Twelve years ago, McLean County hog producer Pat Bane hired locally, only to find his farm to be a “revolving door” for inexperienced, short-term workers. Today, Bane employs sevenfull-time migrant workers. While he admits he initially was apprehensive about that decision, Bane said he now values their seemingly “innate ability” to underPat Bane stand and care for animals — a quality “you just can’t find in an American workforce any more.” And, he notes, “they don’t leave.” Bane took that message to Capitol Hill last week as part of Illinois Farm Bureau’s producer immigration “strike team.” The team stumped for ag labor reform as bipartisan senators pushed a comprehensive immigration bill that offers a two-tiered ag program and Rep. Bob Goodlatte (R-Va.) unveiled a more cautious, “step-by-step” specific ag worker proposal.

Three sections Volume 41, No. 17

“About 10 years ago, we were employing U.S. workers,” Bane told FarmWeek. “The situation got to where it was just a revolving door — we couldn’t get people to make the commitment. The people trained, and then they’d leave. “The tendency is for people to think (ag laborers) are unskilled workers. We have a sow farm where we do artificial insemination. We have 20plus sows farrowing a day — they need to be assisted in birthing. There’s just a lot of work. We need these people. We who use migrant labor do not consider them ‘cheap’ labor — they’re better labor.” Bane admits the Senate plan (see page 2) is “not perfect.” However, it’s proposed new “Blue Card” system offers a “very nice” alternative to the

current H-2A seasonal guest worker program, which fails to meet continuous livestock labor needs, Bane said. The prospect of Blue Card holders being able to earn expanded Green Card status would help assure the longterm reliability of that labor pool, he maintained. Bane said

More on immigration on page 2

he rejects the notion that workers would view the Blue Card as an easy path to U.S. citizenship, arguing they “just want to be able to travel and see their families.” Goodlatte reported his agspecific proposal would offer existing undocumented workers “some kind of legal status,” but remained resistant to what he termed a “special pathway to citizenship.” But, unlike

Senate proposals, Goodlatte’s plan extends to ag processors as well as farm labor. National Pork Producers Council spokesman Dave Warner told FarmWeek “the packers are very interested in immigration reform.” Congressional reforms would accommodate electronic worker verification systems and thus reduce potential penalties for unwittingly hiring illegal workers who have submitted apparently genuine paperwork, Warner said. Bane saw a generally positive attitude toward immigration reform on the Hill, though he said he realizes it is “a very difficult issue” particularly with regard to a SenateHouse compromise. Although the Senate proposal includes more stringent U.S. border security provisions,

Bane sees a House push to further strengthen them. IFB National Legislative Director Adam Nielsen suggests Goodlatte’s proposal may provide a sound starting point for a House “that just needs to produce a bill.” House reform advocates are aware success likely lies in “how they approach each of the elements,” and ag and border security thus are seen as key “upfront” issues, he said. Bane warns of the possible economic ripple effects of an inadequate livestock labor supply. “ If we lose our livestock, what’s going to eat the corn and beans?” he posed. “If we don’t import our labor, we may end up importing our food.”

The Illinois River surrounds Tazewell County farms about four miles south of the Powerton Generating Station in Pekin. Tazewell County and 47 other counties have been declared state disaster areas. Today (Monday), the state starts assessing damage, a requirement for seeking federal assistance. (Photo by Sean Arians, Woodford County Farm Bureau member)

Quinn seeks FEMA help to assess area flood damage BY KAY SHIPMAN FarmWeek

Gov. Pat Quinn sought help from the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) last week to assess flood and storm damage as flooding continued, especially along the Illinois River. Information gathering was to start today (Monday) in Northern Illinois and move

into other areas after floodwaters recede, according to the governor’s staff. That documentation is required for the state to seek federal disaster assistance. Over the past week and a half, the governor has seen flood damage and met with local officials in 15 communities across the state. Additional counties were

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added to the list of those initially declared state disaster areas, bringing the total to 48. Those counties are Adams, Brown, Bureau, Calhoun, Carroll, Cass, Champaign, Clark, Cook, Crawford, DeKalb, Douglas, DuPage, Fulton, Greene, Grundy, Hancock, Henderson, Henry, Jersey, Jo Daviess, Kane, Kendall, Knox, Lake, LaSalle, Lawrence, Livingston, Marshall,

Mason, McDonough, McHenry, Mercer, Morgan, Ogle, Peoria, Pike, Putnam, Rock Island, Schuyler, Scott, Stark, Tazewell, Warren, Whiteside, Will, Winnebago, and Woodford. In those counties, local officials have access to a variety of assistance from state resources. The Illinois Emergency Management Agency is coordinating the state’s flood response.

Illinois Farm Bureau®on the web:

Quick Takes

FarmWeek Page 2 Monday, April 29, 2013

THE FLOOD AND THE FEDS — New U.S. House legislation, The Mississippi River Navigation Sustainment Act, would maintain critical movement o f g o o d s d u r i n g p e r i o d s o f e x t r e m e we a t h e r, according to the American Farm Bureau Federation (AFBF). “Whether it is low water conditions or devastating floods, we need to be proactive in planning and preparing to keep the Mississippi River open for commerce,” AFBF President Bob Stallman wrote in a letter to sponsors of the bill, Taylorville Republican Rep. Rodney Davis and Belleville Democrat Bill Enyart. Stallman maintains the bill will provide added flexibility for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to respond to extreme events through better water management, river forecasting, and environmental management. Meanwhile, East Moline Democrat Rep. Cheri Bustos has launched a “Flood Resources” page on her congressional website to provide information and resources as flooding continues across her Western Illinois region. The resources page can be found at {}. MAY DAY FOR FARM BILL? — The House Ag Committee plans to mark up the farm bill on May 15, according to Chairman Frank Lucas (ROkla.). An official markup notice has yet to be issued. But Lucas and Rep. Collin Peterson (D-Minn.), ranking member of the committee, have publicly discussed that date for the markup, and it “is a go,” Lucas said last week.

CONSUMERS WANT MOBILE SERVICE — More American consumers say they want to be able to buy groceries online even though only 5.6 percent actually are shopping that way, according to Mobile Marketing Daily. Among 1,000 shoppers sur veyed, 69.5 percent said price comparison is their favored mobile shopping service. It seems shopping by mobile may be more appealing than taking action. About 40 percent of the surveyed shoppers reported they’d like to buy online and have products delivered to their homes. Interestingly, 86 percent of the shoppers said they wanted to be able to request retailers to carry particular grocery items, and another 72 percent wants to share their ideas for new products.

(ISSN0197-6680) Vol. 41 No. 17

April 29, 2013

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.

Address subscription and advertising questions to FarmWeek, P.O. Box 2901, Bloomington, IL 61702-2901. Periodicals postage paid at Bloomington, Illinois, and at an additional mailing office. POSTMASTER: Send change of address notices on Form 3579 to FarmWeek, P.O. Box 2901, Bloomington, IL 61702-2901. Farm Bureau members should send change of addresses to their local county Farm Bureau. © 2013 Illinois Agricultural Association

STAFF Editor Dave McClelland ( Legislative Affairs Editor Kay Shipman ( Agricultural Affairs Editor Martin Ross ( Senior Commodities Editor Daniel Grant ( Editorial Assistant Margie Fraley ( Business Production Manager Bob Standard ( Advertising Sales Manager Richard Verdery ( Classified sales coordinator Nan Fannin ( Director of News and Communications Michael L. Orso Advertising Sales Representatives Hurst and Associates, Inc. P.O. Box 6011, Vernon Hills, IL 60061 1-800-397-8908 (advertising inquiries only) Gary White - Northern Illinois Doug McDaniel - Southern Illinois Editorial phone number: 309-557-2239 Classified advertising: 309-557-3155 Display advertising: 1-800-676-2353


Senators face bill deadline; some IFB initiatives stall BY KAY SHIPMAN FarmWeek

State senators last week faced a deadline to pass bills out of the chamber. Despite multiple attempts to address wind energy concerns, continued industry opposition in the Senate stalled an Illinois Farm Bureau initiative to provide landowner protections. IFB-supported SB 1469, sponsored by Sen. John Sullivan (D-Rushville), wasn’t called for a vote. The legislation sought to require ag impact mitigation agreements for wind energy projects, said Bill Bodine, IFB associated director of state legislation. The bill also proposed to require a wind energy developer to file a deconstruction plan and a reclamation bond with the Illinois Department of Agriculture to assure the wind farm would be removed if the developer wasn’t able or willing to so, Bodine added. “IFB will continue to consider its options to address the concerns of landowners,” Bodine said. Legislation to establish horizontal hydraulic fracturing regulations (HB 2615) was returned to the House Rules Committee. After it was not vot-

ed on by the House Revenue and Finance Committee. The sticking point was proposed license requirements for drilling and operating high-volume hydraulic fracturing wells. IFB has no position on the proposed license requirement. IFB, the oil and gas industry, environmental groups, and other interested stakeholders have agreed on two other amendments to HB 2615. Those address regulations and the tax structure for high-volume horizontal hydraulic fracturing wells. IFB’s permanent road closure initiative, HB 2367, was held in the House Transportation, Regulations, Roads, and Bridges Committee. The bill would require written approval of highway commissioners, the county superintendent of highways, and the elected board associated with that road district to permanently close, vacate, or reduce the weight limit on any road or portion of a road. The bill is opposed by the Township Officials of Illinois, road commissioners, the Illinois Association of County Engineers, and the Illinois Department of Transportation. IFB staff was unable to find a solution after negotiating with those groups.

Last week in Washington, Sarah Frey Talley of Frey Farms Produce — the U.S.’ largest single-largest pumpkin producer — discussed ag labor issues with George Fishman, right, chief minority counsel for the House Judiciary Committee’s Immigration Subcommittee. The Wayne County producer/wholesaler took part in an Illinois Farm Bureau immigration “strike team” visit to Capitol Hill offices. Talley’s family business employs some 250 H-2A workers per year. Talley was joined in the discussion by Chris Eckert, St. Clair County fruit and vegetable grower, left. (Photo by Mike Orso)

Immigration legislation: terms of employment The Blue Card • Undocumented workers would be eligible for legal status through a Blue Card program for experienced farm workers. • Workers who can document working in U.S. agriculture for at least 100 workdays over the two years prior to Dec. 31, 2012, are eligible. • Workers who fulfill Blue Card work requirements in U.S. agriculture, show that they have paid all taxes due for past work, have not been convicted of any felony or violent misdemeanor, and pay a $400 fine are eligible for a Green Card that allows them to work in other sectors. Green Card requirements include at least five years of ag employment for at least 100 workdays per year during the seven-year period beginning with program’s enactment or at least three years’ ag employment for at least 150 workdays per year during the five-year period after enactment.

Eligible chores include crop cultivation and tillage; crop har vest; dairy work; livestock, poultry, or bee production; or any practices “perfor med by a far mer or on a far m” (including forestry operations). Other eligible work includes far m handling, drying, packing, packaging, processing, freezing, or pre-storage grading of any commodity in its “unmanufactured” state. The Agricultural Worker Program • The program offers temporary workers two options — a portable, “at-will” employment-based visa, or a contract-based visa program. • The program would operate under a three-year visa term. The existing H-2A ag guest worker program would end one year after the new program is enacted. • The program would be administered by USDA. Ag employers must register with USDA as a Designated Agri-

cultural Employer to secure workers. • Workers would lose status and leave the U.S. if they were unemployed for more than 60 consecutive days. A worker who breaches his or her employment contract must leave the U.S. before accepting another U.S. job. As many as 337,000 visas could be issued annually over the program’s first five years. • Caps will be divided evenly by quarter the first year and by quarterly “historical need” after that. After five years, the ag secretary will determine annual caps. Wages The bill sets 2016 minimum hourly wage rates for six key ag categories: • Farmworkers and laborers in crop, nursery, and greenhouse jobs: $9.64 • Graders and sorters: $9.84 • Dairy and livestock: $11.37 • Ag equipment operators: $11.87


Page 3 Monday, April 29, 2013 FarmWeek

Top left photo: Two men on the Scott County side of the Illinois River check the river level last week near the lift bridge that carries Illinois routes 100 and 106 at Florence. (Photo by Blake Roderick, Pike County Farm Bureau manager) Top right photo: Spoon River floodwaters cover Fulton County farmland between Dickson Mounds and the town of Duncan Mills after breaching a levee. Today, volunteers with the Fulton County Farm Bureau and the Western Illinois Pork Producers were to serve lunch in London Mills, which had been evacuated. (Photo by Bob Martin, Fulton Democrat)

The Scott W. Lucas Memorial Bridge that carries U.S. 136 and Illinois routes 78 and 97 over the Illinois River between Mason County and Fulton County at Havana was closed to traffic last week because of nearby flooding of both the Illinois and the Spoon rivers. (Aerial picture by Chris Young/State Journal-Register)

Country Financial representative Mike Lonergan, in green shirt, checks the pork chops, while Country Financial agency manager Rick Pettit, far right, handles the seasoning. Looking on are flood volunteers Denny Taylor, far left, and Alan Merriman. Lonergan and Pettit cooked and served lunch last week for volunteers working at the Big Swan Drainage District levee in Scott County. (Photo by Blake Roderick, Scott County Farm Bureau manager)

United effort feeds flood volunteers BY KAY SHIPMAN FarmWeek

Top photo: The Mississippi River last week covered a northwest Calhoun County field. Bottom photo: Last spring, at about the same time, a farmer doing fieldwork in the same field kicked up dust. (Photos by Robert Reed, Calhoun County Farm Bureau president)

News from the flood fight

Private wells that may have been contaminated by floodwaters need to be tested, according to the Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH). Melaney Arnold, IDPH spokesman, recommended anyone concerned a well may have been contaminated check with the local health department about having water samples tested for bacteria and other contaminants. To prevent waterborne illnesses, flush out contaminated flood-

water, disinfecting the well casing, and re-flush the well system before using the water for household purposes, the IDPH said. Have the well tested immediately after it is disinfected and flushed, and have the water retested a week to two weeks later. For more information, go online to {web.extension.illinois. edu/disaster/facts/waterbor.cfm}. Remember to wear boots, gloves, and masks when cleaning flood-contaminated areas. Dis-

An army of flood-fighting volunteers needs food and sandbags. In Scott County, volunteers working on the Big Swan Drainage District levee munched on hearty meals grilled and served at the levee, which is located five miles from Winchester. The grill master? Mike Lonergan, who has served as a Country Financial representative in the county for 22 years. On his way to “find” 250 hamburgers for an evening meal last week, Lonergan laughed when he momentarily forgot

card food that has come into contact with flood water. “When in doubt, throw it out,” said IDPH’s Arnold. **** Flood records were set in seven communities along the Illinois River by April 25, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. Potential records might have been set over the weekend when the river crested in Southwestern Illinois. New

what day it was. Since Monday noon (April 22), he’d coordinated and cooked some of the food donated by the Scott County Farm Bureau for volunteers. “It’s a community effort. Everyone chips in. That’s what small towns do,” he said of the work to feed farmers, students, teachers, and other volunteers. After a day of Red-Cross-served meals, Lonergan manned his grill for lunch and dinner on Wednesday and planned to return to those duties on Thursday. He wasn’t sure about Friday, but added he and his grill would be busy “as long as they need it.”

records were established in Beardstown, Havana, Henry, LaSalle, Morris, Ottawa, and Peoria. ****

Check out the latest video on local flood-fighting efforts at

New technology enhanced flood-fighting efforts along the

Illinois River. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers used Hesco barriers, according to the Quincy Herald-Whig. A Hesco barrier is a 3-by3-by-4-foot box-like device filled with sand or rock. Each holds th e equiva len t o f 200 sa n d b a gs a n d g rea tly cuts th e t i m e t o erect a barrier compared to the use of traditional s a n d b a g s. — K a y S h i p man


FarmWeek Page 4 Monday, April 29, 2013

Farmers defend biotech safety, global importance

Continuing the dialogue BY MARTIN ROSS FarmWeek

A panel of farmers, communicators, and scientists last week covered the biotech waterfront, from concerns about the technology’s safety and consumer rights to the messages consumers receive and the media delivering them. One key takeaway was clear to a pair of farmers participating in the latest round of U.S. Farmers and Ranchers Alliance’s “The Food Dialogues”: The dialogue is not and should not be over. The discussion was spon-

sored by the Farm Bureausupported alliance as part of the BIO International Conference at Chicago’s McCormick Place. Illinois Ag Director Bob Flider, who introduced the biotech dialogue, argued “(agriculture) is the No. 1 industry in Illinois, and this is one way to keep it going.” However, Melinda Hemmelgarn, host of radio’s “Food Sleuth,” argued there is a need to “raise the precautionary principle (the idea that a technology should be regulated based on suspected but yetundocumented effects) and public health above profit.”

‘There are people who don’t want biotech around. I don’t know that you ever do win them over to our side. But it is important that you call them out.’ — Jerry Slocum

Mississippi farmer

Iowa corn farmer Pam Johnson said she is confident of the safety of existing commercial biotech products. She compared blanket condemnation of ag biotechnology to asking consumers

Iowa farmer and National Corn Growers Association President Pam Johnson, second from right, addresses concerns about the public’s perception of biotechnology and growers at large during last week’s installment of “The Food Dialogue.” Johnson was joined in the U.S. Farmers and Ranchers Alliance panel discussion by, from left, science writer Emily Anthes, Mississippi soybean grower Jerry Slocum, CNBC senior analyst Ron Insana, radio hosts Melinda Hemmelgarn and Michael Olson, and, to Johnson’s left, Steve Smith, chairman of the Save Our Crops Coalition. (Photo by Martin Ross)

to surrender cell phones or other “things that make your life easier and safer.” “I think, today, we began the discussion,” the National Corn Growers Association president and nurse told FarmWeek. “You can see some of the challenges we’re going to have going forward. There are just some things we do not agree on. “We want to make sure the dialogue continues. This technology is so crucial to us as we learn to adapt to the challenges going forward, whether they’re from weather or pests. It’s also crucial to our growing global markets — we have to feed 9 billion people in 2050.” Emily Anthes, journalist and author of “Frankenstein’s Cat,” an overview of biotech issues, argued the debate today has become muddled in “feelings about corporations and feelings about technology” (see accompanying story). Steve Smith, chairman of the group Save Our Crops Coalition, said he harbors concerns about issues such as the impact of dicamba-tolerant

soybeans on pesticide drift. However, he noted constructive dialogue with biotech providers and suggests some organic practices, as well, could merit public scrutiny. As a result of the “toxic environment” surrounding biotechnology, University of California, Los Angeles plant molecular biologist Bob Goldberg warned “we are losing our brain trust of the future” as young people shy away from genetic research. That, in Goldberg’s view, would be tragic for a developing world in need of improved technology. Mississippi farmer Jerry Slocum agreed many people globally “won’t get fed” without biotechnology. Unfounded biotech criticism is a luxury in “the well-fed, high income country we live in,” he said. “There are people who don’t want biotech around,” Slocum told FarmWeek. “I don’t know that you ever do win them over to our side. But it is important that you call them out.”

don’t have an equal weight of evidence,” she warned. “Let’s have a dialogue on the scientific issues, and let’s not have advocacy,” urged University of California, Los Angeles plant molecular biologist Bob Goldberg, who shared the stage with Anthes. Entine attributes a recent shift in media accountability to several “watershed events,” including 2012 coverage of French scientist Gilles Eric Seralini’s attempt to link biotech corn and cancer. Some writers pounced on “clearly poor data misrepresented by NGOs (activist non-government organizations),” and the result “outraged many journalists on the left and the right,” he said. He also uncovered the White House’s alleged pre-election efforts to block release of

positive data about genetically engineered AquaAdvantage salmon cleared months earlier by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. Within four hours of his article’s publication, that information was released, he said. Entine’s expose spurred a flurry of coverage, including a New York Times piece by Anthes. Entine blasts journalists for linking biotech to “the corporate takeover of agriculture.” Both AquaBounty, developer of the AquaAdvantage salmon, and Okanagan Specialty Fruits, which hopes to market a genetically engineered non-browning apple, are “tiny little companies,” he noted. “We’re not talking about a multi-national juggernaut here,” he said. — Martin Ross

Science vs. sentiment: biotech and the media Science is neither liberal nor conservative — end of story, according to journalist and media critic Jon Entine. Emily Anthes, science writer and author of the biotech exploration “Frankenstein’s Cat,” maintains biotechnology should not “be covered as a single monolithic entity.” During last week’s U.S. Farmers and Ranchers Alliance Food Dialogues biotech panel, Anthes expressed concern that “the fear of GMOs as a single, scary entity” could prevent future genetic advances from reaching fruition. At the same time, Entine, executive director of George Mason University’s Genetic Literacy Project, sees a key “turning point” in how the press covers biotechnology. Entine, a contributor to

Forbes magazine and a selfavowed liberal, believes a growing number of “progressive, science-minded

gressive’ means being antiGMO. Emily Anthes is about as leftie as you can get, but she’s pleading for us

‘I’m trying to break the link that someh ow b e i n g l i b e ra l o r ‘ p r o gr e s s i ve ’ means being anti-GMO.’ — Jon Entine Genetic Literacy project

journalists” are willing to sideline their political views in favor of solid data. “This isn’t about liberal politics,” he told FarmWeek. “This is about what science says. I’m trying to break the link that somehow being liberal or ‘pro-

to follow the data.” Anthes acknowledged the difficulty of capsulizing complex research “in an 800word story.” Reporters seeking quick balance may resort to “false equivalency,” giving equal story weight to scientific sources and critics “who


Page 5 Monday, April 29, 2013 FarmWeek

Biotech key economic building block for Illinois BY MARTIN ROSS FarmWeek

Biotechnology is a growing keystone of Illinois economic development, and agriculture remains key to the sector’s Midwest strength, according to a new report released last week by the Illinois Biotechnology Industry Organization (iBIO). During a news conference at the BIO International Conference in Chicago, iBIO President David Miller noted “Illinois is at the core of the most vibrant bioscience cluster in the United States.” The “Midwest Super Cluster” includes more than

16,800 biotech/life sciences concerns which together employ 377,900-plus people. A similar California “cluster” has only 7,500 biotech “establishments” and a workforce of roughly 230,000. According to the iBIO report prepared by consulting firm Ernst & Young, Illinois’ biotech industry accounts for $98.6 billion-plus in overall economic output and 81,000 direct jobs. The state is home to more than 3,500 biotech companies. Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity Director Adam Pollet includes a variety of

Holistic approach key to outpacing wily weeds

Farmers must work within the “system” if they hope to stay ahead of evolving weed resistance, ag industry execs and a Central Illinois grower advised last week. At the BIO International Conference in Chicago, Dow AgroSciences global regulatory affairs leader Brad Shurdut stressed the continued value of Roundup Ready herbicide tolerance as a “sustained existing technology.” However, he acknowledged growing weed resistance concerns and the need to “bring new solutions to the marketplace.” Jerry Steiner, Monsanto vice president of sustainability, related the push toward dual modes of herbicide action and accompanying dual tolerance traits. New cross-licensing agreements between Monsanto and Dow should offer trait combinations that accommodate multimodal treatments, Steiner said. Shurdut said he recognizes the need to develop not just new herbicides and traits but also “key sustainable systems” that integrate chemical use, crop genetics, and management best practices. Dow’s Enlist weed control system includes a new 2,4-D choline herbicide formulation designed to address drift issues, biotech tolerance traits, and what he deemed “a pretty significant stewardship program.” Champaign County farmer John Reifsteck, who participated in a BIO weed resistance panel, stressed resistance is “an evolutionary process that’s been going on since farmers have been farming.” He noted continual shifts not only in resistance but also in the weed species that must be attacked. Reifsteck argued flexible cultural practices as well as biotech solutions are critical to combating weed pressure. “We have to just keep our game on and keep evolving and changing with it,” he told FarmWeek. “There are practices that slow resistance from occurring. “Part of that is to quit doing the things that encourage resistance, and we’re getting better at understanding what those are. It’s an issue we have to work through. We now know that we can’t just use (just) one (herbicide) product.” Bayer CropScience’s “Respect the Rotation” initiative urges a systemic approach that includes rotation of crops, herbicide tolerance traits, and chemical modes of action. Bayer is working on new chemicals and tolerance traits, on its own and with Syngenta, Bayer global seed chief Mathias Kremer reported. Shurdut emphasized the need to bring new weed chemistries to market “in a very responsible way.” Plans for new products that promote expanded 2,4-D or dicamba use have exacerbated concerns about drift, and he said the Enlist program is designed “to promote coexistence with other farmers.” “The stewardship of the technology is critical for its long-term effectiveness,” Shurdut maintained. — Martin Ross

downstate/ag-based companies in that mix, including Archer Daniels Midland, Tate and Lyle, Ingredion (formerly Corn Products International), and biofuels processor Abengoa. He told FarmWeek he sees “some of the absolute most cutting-edge research and innovation” emerging at the intersection of biotechnology and bioenergy, through collaboration between university and corporate scientists. Ag biotechnology offers potential from “health to energy to industrial applications” such as biofuels or plant-based plastics, Pollet said. “Agriculture and the bioindustrial work that’s taken from biomass are part of what makes Illinois probably one of the most diversified states in the country, in terms of its biotech balance,” Miller told FarmWeek. “It’s a great economic strength to have a balanced set of sectors. We have the health care sector, we have the agri-

cultural sector, and we have the bioindustrial sector.” Illinois’ biotech industry has shown the strongest revenue growth of all states analyzed in the study, at an average annual growth of 13.3 percent. The industry reportedly generates $3 billion in annual state and local tax revenues. “The fact that you can get $3 billion in revenues in this state is incredible,” argued Fritz Bittenbender, iBIO vice president of alliance development and state government relations. Illinois’ seven major universities have steadily increased biotech expenditures, creating opportunities for more than a dozen biotech startups in 2011 alone. Illinois venture capital funding rose 209 percent from 2009 to 2012. “We must focus on collaboration,” said JoEllen Helmer, Midwest Health Services Leader with Ernst & Young. “We must foster biotech startups.”


According to the new report, “Global Impact of Biotech Crops: Economic and Environmental Effects 1996-2011,” released by British ag research firm PG Economics:

$19.8 billion The net economic benefit of biotechnology at the farm level worldwide in 2011. For the 19962011 period, the global farm income gain was estimated at $98.2 billion.

49 percent The share of that total farm income benefit attributed to yield gains resulting from lower pest and weed pressure and improved crop genetics.

10.1 percent Average yield gains worldwide over the 1996-2011 period attributed to insect-resistant corn and its impact in reducing pest damage.

51 percent The percentage of 2011 farm income gains that accrued to farmers in developing countries.


FarmWeek Page 6 Monday, April 29, 2013

Meteorologist: Rain intensity should ease, but cool temps, soggy soils could linger BY DANIEL GRANT FarmWeek

Floodwaters receded in many areas last week, but farmers in the Midwest still could face significant idle time before farmland is fit for fieldwork. Bryce Anderson, DTN senior meteorologist, last week predicted the cool, wet pattern that dominated March and April could continue into the first part of May. “It looks like there will be a little bit of an echo of the colder pattern during the first part of May in the heart of the Midwest,” Anderson told FarmWeek. “It could mean more unsettled weather, including cooler temperatures and more chances of rain.”

‘All it takes now is a half inch of rain here and there to keep field conditions unfavorable (for fieldwork).’ — Bryce Anderson DTN senior meteorologist

The intensity of rain showers should ease in the weeks ahead compared to recent downpours. But even light rains could be enough to keep farmers out of fields due to sloppy soil conditions. Topsoil moisture in Illinois last week, prior to mid-week rain, was rated 65 percent surplus and 35 percent adequate. “All it takes now is a half inch of rain here and there to keep field conditions unfavorable (for fieldwork),” Anderson said. Rainfall the first 24 days of this month totaled a whopping 8 to 10 inches in Northwestern Illinois, 6 to 8 inches in the remainder of the northern two thirds of the state, 4 to 6 inches in Southern Illinois, and 3 to 4 inches in the southernmost region of the state, according to the Illinois State Water Survey. The deluge of rain, which caused significant flooding, was the result of a clash between cold air from the north and warm air from the south, mixed with precipitation from the Gulf of Mexico. “The intensity and longevity of the cold pattern was more than forecast,” Anderson said. “It allowed a tremendous temperature contrast to form and a frontal boundary set up shop over the Corn Belt.” The average temperature the first four weeks of April was 1 to 2 degrees below normal in parts of Southern Illinois to as much as 5 degrees below normal in parts of Northern Illinois. “The big issue now is how soon will the cold stretch start to moderate and allow producers to do more (in fields),” Anderson said. “We are looking at later plantings.” A large snowpack in the Upper Midwest and southern Canada has been a key contributor to the colder-than-normal temperatures from the north. But melting of that snowpack shouldn’t be a major contributor to additional flooding on the Mississippi or Illinois rivers. “Flooding will be a problem for northern parts of the Corn Belt (particularly the Dakotas),” the meteorologist added. “But I don’t look for that to add to the Mississippi Valley flooding. The Red River (in the Upper Midwest) flows north. It’s not part of the Mississippi basin.” There is some snow remaining in northern Wisconsin and Minnesota that in coming weeks will melt and flow down the Mississippi. But it’s not expected to have a major impact on river levels.

Tuesday: • Ag weather with Chesapeake Meteorology • Mike Doherty, senior economist for Illinois Farm Bureau • Gene Robinson, director of the Institute for Genomic Biology, University of Illinois Wednesday: •Tim Schweizer, Illinois Department of Natural Resources •Joe Kath, endangered species manager with the Illinois

Department of Agriculture • Henrik Mortensen, president, and Hans Aarestrup, CEO of the Association of Danish Pig Producers Thursday: • Tim Maiers, Illinois Pork Producers Association •Bonnie McDonald, president of Landmarks Illinois • Donna Jeschke, Illinois Farm Families field mom acre host Friday: •Sara Wyant, Agri-Pulse publisher

Farm leaders: There’s still time this season to grow a sizable corn crop in U.S. The cold, wet weather pattern and subsequent lack of planting progress this month frustrated many farmers. But it’s too early to push the panic button, farm leaders told FarmWeek last week. “It’s not too late. I don’t think farmers are frantic,” said Paul Taylor, president of the Illinois Corn Growers Association and a farmer from Esmond (DeKalb County). “There’s still potential for a good crop. At this point, we could still have over 200-bushel corn here.” Corn planting in Illinois, as of the first of last week, was just 1 percent complete compared to 56 percent last year and the fiveyear average of 24 percent. However, recent history shows the planting date isn’t a yield guarantee. Illinois farmers in 2009 planted just 2 percent of the corn crop as of the third week of April and farmers nationwide that year produced a record-large 13.2-billionbushel crop. “I continue to be hopeful and optimistic,” said Ag Secretary Tom Vilsack. “Last year was the worst drought in 80 years, and we still had the fifthlargest corn crop (on record at 10.8 billion bushels).” USDA last month estimated farmers would plant 97.28 million acres of corn. Some of that ground may be flooded or switched to other crops, such as

spring wheat or beans, but Vilsack said he still anticipates bountiful corn acres. “The good news is we have a significant commitment to plantings,” he said. “Furthermore, with the seed technology we have, the fact that planting may be delayed in some areas doesn’t necessarily mean yields will be less.” Data from Indiana indicate the planting date accounts for about 23 percent of the variability in corn yields each year, according to Bob Nielsen, Purdue University Extension corn specialist. Other key yield-influencing factors include tillage, the use of herbicides and nitrogen fertilizer, and weather conditions during pollination. “While we hope to get much of our crop planted by the end of April, what happens after

planting remains a lot more important to the corn crop than the exact date we are able to plant,” said Emerson Nafziger, University of Illinois Extension crop systems specialist. Taylor said he was more concerned last week about farmers who may consider “mudding in” the crop. “That’s my biggest fear, more so than if we plant late,” he said. “It almost never pays to push the envelope. (Early-season soil damage from compaction) will show up all summer long.” Farmers typically like to wait to plant corn until the soil temperature is at least 50 degrees. Topsoil temperature readings late last week ranged from 40.5 to 44 degrees in Northern Illinois, 41.9 to 47.6 in Central Illinois, and 48.8 to 51.3 degrees in Southern Illinois. — Daniel Grant

stock program director, who also is co-chairman of NIAA’s Animal Care Council. “It killed their industry. “If and when FMD comes to our shores,” he continued, “we’ve changed our thinking to a vaccinate-to-live strategy.” Keys to controlling FMD and limiting its impact on animal ag include early detection and reporting of the disease, effective biosecurity, and early implementation of vaccination, Fraley reported. FMD can have a devastating impact on livestock. South Korea in 2011 culled about one-third of its swine herd due to a massive FMD outbreak. Wholesale pork prices in South Korea subsequently increased 43 percent, according to Fraley. NIAA at its annual conference also took a position in support of animal welfare and teachings of animal welfare in schools. However, NIAA opposes the promotion in schools of an animal rights philosophy that advocates an end to all human use of animals. “There’s a difference

between animal welfare and animal rights,” Fraley said. “We believe in, and support, animal welfare as these practices focus on the prevention of suffering and cruelty to animals.” NIAA reviewed animal rights and production issues in Europe as well. The European Union (EU) this year implemented a ban on the use of gestation stalls in the swine industry. “They (in the UK) are 100 percent compliant (with the ban on sow stalls), but other countries are only 30 to 40 percent compliant,” Fraley said. “This is frustrating (for farmers in the UK as production costs increased and cheaper pork has been imported from other countries). “They found only a small percentage of the population (in the UK) is willing to pay for this product (pork produced in stall-free systems), he added. Fraley this summer will take part in IFB’s market study tour to Europe that will study various animal issues in the EU. — Daniel Grant

NIAA prepares for potential FMD outbreak

The U.S. has not had an outbreak of foot-and-mouth disease (FMD) since 1929, and the livestock industry hopes to keep it that way. But just in case the worst occurs, the National Institute of Animal Agriculture (NIAA) this month at its annual conference prepared to deal with FMD to limit its spread and potential impact. “When the United Kingdom (UK) had an outbreak (of FMD) in 2001, (the livestock industry there) had a stamp-itout strategy and killed healthy animals (to prevent the spread of the disease),” said Jim Fraley, Illinois Farm Bureau live• Rita Frazer will be live at TA truck stop in Troy from 9-10 a.m. talking about the biodiesel industry. Darryl Brinkmann, IFB director, will be among guests. Stop by and see her and get an RFD travel mug. To find a radio station near you that carries the RFD Radio Network, go to, click on “Radio,” then click on “Affiliates.”


Page 7 Monday, April 29, 2013 FarmWeek

Livestock prices disappoint; stronger dollar hurts exports BY DANIEL GRANT FarmWeek

The run-up in livestock prices forecast for this spring and summer is off to a slowerthan-expected start and may not fully materialize. Prices so far this spring have remained well below previously projected marks of $130-plus per hundredweight for cattle and $100 per hundredweight for hogs. “It’s tough to be optimistic right now looking at the pork situation,” Ron Plain, University of Missouri ag economist, told FarmWeek. “Exports aren’t doing very well.” U.S. pork exports, which typically account for about one-quarter of sales, plummeted 14 percent the first two months of this year compared to last year.

Plain identified two key factors limiting pork exports. “The stronger dollar is hurting exports,” he said. “And world pork production is expected to be up (1.8 percent) this year. When foreign customers produce more pork, they’re likely to buy less from the U.S.” Pork production this year could increase 14 percent in South Korea, 3.5 percent in Mexico, and 2.8 percent in China, Plain reported. U.S. pork inventories last month continued to climb due to reduced demand. Total pork in cold storage at the end of March totaled 648.8 million pounds, up 10 percent compared to the five-year average, according to the CME Group Daily Livestock Report. Larger-than-expected sup-

Biotech discussion key in U.S.-EU talks BY MARTIN ROSS FarmWeek

Bayer CropScience moved its seed division from Europe to North Carolina last year out of a desire to expand Western Hemisphere market share, according to Bayer Global Head of Seeds Mathias Kremer. Kremer also admits “the business environment (in the U.S.) was quite positive.” The German native hopes ongoing U.S.European Union (EU) free trade negotiations will foster a more positive political environment for biotechnology — and farmers — across the Atlantic. While the EU has remained competitive in the global market, Kremer questioned whether “this will be the case moving forward.” Experts at last week’s BIO International Conference in Chicago noted Europe’s growing importer status. “As a European, I’m really looking forward to these (trade) discussions,” Kremer, a member of the Biotechnology Industry Organization (BIO) Food and Agriculture Governing Board, told FarmWeek during the conference. “For me, it’s very important to see that European farmers have access to the best technologies, to produce more food, fuel, fiber. “I think this is absolutely crucial. They have to be competitive with all the other farmers in the world. I am really hoping that, sooner or later, we will get this technology in Europe.” U.S.-EU talks also are crucial to U.S. farmers reliant on a growing variety of biotech products and global biotech acceptance. Kremer acknowledged continued European support for the “precautionary principle,” which places the burden of proof for potential biotech risks on technology providers, despite existing safety assurances. However, he argued “Europeans are not totally risk-averse,” and he sees a major shift in consumer “mentality” toward biotechnology in the United Kingdom, Germany, and France. The key challenge remains high-level political resistance to biotech approvals and the EU’s generally “complicated approach to decision-making,” often placing scientists and policymakers at odds, Kremer said. Without policy change, Information Technology and Innovation Foundation consultant Val Giddings sees potential for European grower “civil disobedience.” While the Ukraine is a “very biotech-unfriendly country,” he reported the majority of the soybeans now grown there are from genetically modified seed, while biotech rice awaiting Chinese approval already is in production in China. He noted biotech bean production was widespread in South America “long before the Brazilian government approved it.” Jerry Flint, DuPont-Pioneer vice president of biotech affairs, applauded Brazil’s “foresight” in developing a science-based regulatory framework for biotech crops.

plies of beef also are weighing down that market. Total beef stocks (513.2 million pounds) through March were 17.4 percent higher than the five-year average. “The expectation at the start of 2013 was for a 3 percent decline in beef production during the first half of the year. To date, beef supplies have been down closer to 1 percent,” said Chris Hurt, Purdue University Extension economist. “More beef often means lower prices.” Weak demand for beef is due in part to a weaker-thananticipated U.S. economy, reduced pork and poultry exports that have added to the domestic meat supply, and previously record-high beef prices that likely shifted demand to competing meats, Hurt noted. “Retail beef prices the past six months have risen by about 6 percent relative to retail pork prices, 10 percent relative to turkey, 4 percent relative to chicken, and 7 percent relative to eggs,” he said. Meanwhile, beef exports may not live up to expectations.

“Beef exports now look somewhat weaker than last year,” Hurt said. “The culprit seems to be the strength of the U.S. dollar,” which has risen about 4 percent so far this year. The good news is feed prices are expected to retreat from historic highs due to breaks in the grain

and oilseed markets. Overall, Plain projected hog carcass prices could peak in the low $90s this summer and average $83 for the year. Cash cattle prices, which traded at $126 in mid-April, could sink to $113 this summer, Rich Nelson, director of research at Allendale Inc., told FarmWeek.

The U.S. dollar index is a measure of the value of the dollar compared to a basket of foreign currencies. The value of the index started at 100 in 1973 and since that time traded as high as 164.7 in 1985 and as low as 70.7 in 2008.


FarmWeek Page 8 Monday, April 29, 2013

Farm Credit donations impact people in agriculture BY KAY SHIPMAN FarmWeek

Illinois agriculture education and leadership opportunities grew when the IAA Foundation awarded $102,000 from the 1st Farm Credit Services (FCS) donor-advised fund last week. Recipients shared stories of how they spent money received earlier in the second disbursement of funds. “It’s very heart warming,” Steve Cowser, a Bradford farmer and chairmen of the 1st FCS board, said of the recipients’ reports. A video showed specialneeds students from Chicago proudly describing their horticulture-related projects, which were funded by $100 grants from the Cook County Farm Bureau Foundation. (Read more about the program on page 12.) “These grants and these

View video of the IAA Foundation’s latest grant recipients at

businesses have made a difference for these kids,” said Luke Allen, a Facilitating Coordination in Agricultural Education field adviser who works with the students. The IAA Foundation awarded the third distribution of donations from the donoradvised fund, which is managed through Country Trust Bank. The funding was divided among the University of Illi-

Kevin Daugherty, right, Illinois Farm Bureau education director, explains the uses of a My Illinois Plate poster, to, from left, Susan Moore, director of the IAA Foundation; Troy Uphoff, IAA Foundation trustee; and Steve Cowser, chairman of the 1st Farm Credit Service Board of Directors. Illinois Agriculture in the Classroom used funding from 1st Farm Credit to develop and distribute posters linking Illinois farmers and nutrition to cafeterias in schools, hospitals, and businesses. (Photo by Kay Shipman)

nois College of Agricultural, Consumer, and Environmental Sciences, $20,000; Illinois State University department of agriculture, $7,500; and Western Illinois University School of Agriculture, $7,500.

Other recipients were: Illinois Agriculture in the Classroom, $18,000; Illinois Ag Leadership Foundation, $18,000; Illinois FFA, $5,000; Illinois 4-H, $5,000; AgrAbility Unlimited, $5,000; Cook County Farm Bureau Foundation, $6,000; and Annie’s Project for education of farm women, $5,000. This year for the first time, Illinois Agri-Women received $5,000 for its annual conference

targeting female high school and college students seeking agricultural careers. “We are so pleased to see that an initial idea has flourished into a sustainable giving mechanism,” said Susan Moore, IAA Foundation director. In December 2010, 1st FCS established the fund through the IAA Foundation with a $1 million investment. In 2012, 1st FCS added $250,000 to the fund.

State governments are relying on existing resources to keep nutrients out of the Mississippi River and the Gulf of Mexico, an Illinois member of a national gulf hypoxia task force reported. “The bottom line is we’re all trying to reduce nutrient loading (into the river),” said Warren Goetsch, head of the Illinois Department of Agriculture’s environmental programs. “You’ve just got to do the best you can with existing resources.” Recently Goetsch, Illinois Agriculture Director Bob Flider, and Marcia Willhite of the Illinois Environmental Protection Agency represented Illinois at a national task force meeting in Louisville, Ky. Rae Payne, Illinois Farm Bureau senior director of business and regulatory affairs, and Jean Payne, president of the Illinois Fertilizer and Chemical Association, also attended. The Mississippi River/Gulf of Mexico Watershed Nutrient Task Force completed a fiveyear review of its original goal

to reduce the size of the hypoxia zone and added information that became available in the interim, Goetsch noted. Task force members also discussed a need to engage scientists from land-grant universities. University of Illinois researchers are involved, Goetsch added. A third discussion topic was development of a nutrientreduction strategy by and for each state. “At this point, all the states are on track to have an individual nutrient-reduction strategy over the next 12 to 18 months. They are making progress and working hard,” Goetsch said. Illinois’ plan is expected to be finished by fall. “State and federal officials continue to discuss programs and practices that may reduce nutrient losses in the Mississippi River Basin,” said Payne. “Each state’s nutrient assessment document and resulting reduction strategy for both point and non-point sources will be critical in meeting nutrient-reduction goals. Illinois stakeholders are currently engaged in the development of that strategy,” he said. — Kay Shipman

Hypoxia task force focuses on states’ work, universities


Page 9 Monday, April 29, 2013 FarmWeek

Sangamon County FB women answer city moms’ questions

The Sangamon County Farm Bureau held its first “Moms’ Get Together” in early April. Three women from Springfield joined seven farm moms to get answers to questions and express their concerns about farming and the ag industry. The farm moms were: Carrie Winkelmann, Lindsey Bliler, Elizabeth Blier, Sarah Prescott, Stacey Stremsterfer, Ashley Beutke, and Diana Beaty. The three Springfield moms had many questions about growing produce in their own gardens; pesticide use on local produce and what is safe to use on their own gardens; and whether to plant from seeds or plants as they start their own gardens. The farm moms attempted to help them with their questions and also tried to clear up any misconceptions regarding crops improved through biotechnology. They also fielded questions about antibiotic use in animals; organic vs. non-organic food; questions on milking processes on dairy farms; and how farmers keep up with the day-to-day farm duties and record keeping, soil testing, and soil fertility. The women were eager to learn how farmers stay abreast of expanding technology in agriculture.


Ashley Beutke is assistant manager and communication specialist for Sangamon County Farm Bureau. Her email address is


Bryan Roosevelt, a partner in Stumpy Hill Farm, tells third grade students from Albion Grade School about the farm’s farrow-to-finish hog operation. Three classes of third graders visited the farm and learned about hogs from Edwards County Ag in the Classroom coordinator Carol Jo Beadles while touring the facilities. (Photo courtesy Edwards County Farm Bureau)

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January 2014 Departures! This famous Hawaiian Farm Tour has been offered by YMT every year since 1974. Discover the natural wonders and breathtaking scenery as you visit the four main islands. Plus you will be accompanied throughout by one of our friendly Polynesian Tour Directors, which adds a unique cultural perspective to your tour experience. Highlights: Honolulu, world-famous Waikiki Beach, Punchbowl Crater, Pearl Harbor, USS Arizona Memorial, Wailua Riverboat Cruise, mystical Fern Grotto, Steel Grass Farm, (bamboo, vanilla and cacao) lao Valley, Maui Gold Pineapple Plantation, Volcanoes National Park, Giant Ferns, Macadamia Nut Factory, Orchid Nursery, Black Sand Beaches, Kona Coffee Plantation, Natural Energy Laboratory of Hawaii, Abalone Farm and much more. Includes: a flower lei aloha greeting, quality hotels, inter-island flights, baggage handling, tour director, special events & escorted sightseeing. *Price per person/double occupancy. Add $159 tax, service & gov’t fees. Airfare is extra.

For details and itinerary call 7 days a week:



HAMPAIGN — Farm Bureau Foundation will sponsor the Countryside 10K and two mile walk at 8 a.m. Saturday, June 1, at Witt Park in Sidney. • Farm Bureau Foundation will sponsor a Pull for Agriculture at 7 a.m. Saturday, July 13, at the Olde Barn Sporting Clays in Oakland. OOK — Farm Bureau will partner with the University of Illinois Extension Master Gardeners to provide an in-suite resource center at the Farm Bureau office. Resource center hours are 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. Monday, Wednesday, and Friday through Nov. 15. For gardening assistance, call Master Gardener volunteers at 708354-3276 or email • Farm Bureau will host a health expo from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Friday, May 17, at the Farm Bureau office. The expo will feature free glucose and blood pressure testing; free spinal and basic hearing screenings; and stroke, abdominal aortic aneurysm, peripheral vascular diseases, and osteoporosis screenings. Cost is $100 for members


and $135 for non-members. • Farm Bureau will sponsor a “Paint the Yard” contest. Entry forms, contest rules, and a list of participating greenhouses and garden centers are available at {} or by calling the Farm Bureau office at 708-354-3276. FFINGHAM — The Young Leader Committee will sponsor a coloring contest for children ages 2 to 12. Copies of the coloring page are available at the Farm Bureau office. Contest deadline is May 10. Call the Farm Bureau office at 342-2103 for contest details. EE — Lee and Bureau Farm Bureaus are seeking sponsors for the Ag in the Classroom golf outing on Friday, June 28. Call the Farm Bureau office at 8573531 or email for more information on sponsorship opportunities. ERCER — Farm Bureau will host an Agriculture, Conservation, and Environment (ACE) camp for second graders on Tuesday, May 7, at the Mercer County Fairgrounds.



• Farm Bureau will partner with Country Financial and Genesis to sponsor a Kid’s Safety Day in the Park from noon to 3 p.m. Saturday, May 11, at Central Park in Aledo. Call 582-5116 or email for more information. • Prime Timers will travel to see the Church Basement Ladies featured in “A Mighty Fortress is our Basement” at 12 p.m. Wednesday, May 22, at Circa’21 Dinner Playhouse in Rock Island. Cost is $38.50. Call the Farm Bureau office at 582-5115 or email by May 1 for reservations or more information. Carpooling will be available. EORIA — Prime Timers will meet at 1 p.m. Wednesday at the Farm Bureau building. Eric McFarland with Methodist C. Duane Morgan Sleep Disorders Center will speak on sleep disorders.


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


FarmWeek Page 10 Monday, April 29, 2013

2013 a non-typical year for energy markets, too

What a difference one year makes! At this time last year, planting was well under way, and in many parts of the Midwest corn was sprouting. Mother Nature surely has different plans for us this year. Likewise, it seems cold Brian Hartman and wet in the energy markets. Recently, West Texas Intermediate crude oil made new lows. To make a new low in April is very unusual. Typically, prices have a very high probability of increasing during March and April, so a decrease in prices makes this year unique. Moreover, speculators recently bailed out of a portion of their long positions. There are an infinite number of reasons for the large move in pricing, but here are a few of the popular opinions: global oil demand growth is lessening, China’s economy is slowing down, and the latest U.S. economic data is not hitting targets. According to the latest International Energy Agency monthly oil report, global oil demand growth in 2013 is predicted to increase by only 795,000 barrels per day (b/d). BY BRIAN HARTMAN

This is less than initial expectations, which has an effect on trader perception. Consumption in Europe is expected to shrink by 340,000 b/d. Oil demand in Europe has not been this weak since 1985. Estimated global demand for the year remains at 90.6 million b/d. China’s economic recovery unexpectedly slipped in the first three months of 2013, with economic growth easing to 7.7 percent from 7.9 percent


Many farmers in recent weeks probably wondered why crop prices haven’t rallied higher with all of the planting delays. Corn planting in the U.S. as of the first of last week was just 4 percent complete compared to 26 percent a year ago and the five-year average of 16 percent. Crop prices in recent weeks, however, remained well below highs recorded earlier this year. Darin Newsom, DTN senior market analyst, last week discussed the situation at a crop outlook seminar hosted by the CME Group. “We’re entering the time of year when weather typically moves to the forefront (of market factors),” Newsom told

Feeder pig prices reported to USDA* Range Per Head $30.31-$48.00 NA

Weighted Ave. Price $37.61 NA

This Week Last Week 82,800 83,169 *Eastern Corn Belt prices picked up at seller’s farm Receipts

Eastern Corn Belt direct hogs (plant delivered) Carcass Live

(Prices $ per hundredweight) This week Prev. week Change $78.09 $73.66 $4.43 $57.79 $54.51 $3.28

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

This week $127.21 $126.00

Prev. week $126.31 $126.24

three months of this year than economists previously thought. As a result of lessthan-expected economic statistics from the U.S., Europe, and China, analysts are transmitting bearish connotations. Sometimes it may seem as though the sky is falling, but do not expect prices to fall forever. If prices decrease enough (i.e. Brent oil — a major trading classification of sweet light crude oil — stays under $100), the Saudis may

FarmWeek. “But we may not see a normal seasonal rally.” Market fundamentals in recent weeks have been overshadowed by investors who

corn market and, to a lesser degree, the wheat market, the analyst noted. Price movements in recent weeks also have been stymied

attempt to jawbone the market higher or decrease oil production behind the scenes. The industry also has seen its fair share of refinery mishaps and shut downs over the past year. We all know how fast market sentiment can turn and when it does — prices typically bounce off the lows quickly.

Brian Hartman is GROWMARK’s energy analyst. His email address is

Analyst: Market divergence limits price rallies

M A R K E T FA C T S Weight 10-12 lbs. 40 lbs.

in the final quarter of last year, economists predicted 8 percent growth. The unexpected slowing of growth in China sparks new fears about global demand. China generally offsets any downturn in European consumption. Retail sales fell 0.4 of a percent in March, missing analysts’ expectations for no change in sales. The data indicate consumer spending was noticeably weaker in the first

Change $.90 -$.24

CME feeder cattle index — 600-800 Lbs. This is a composite price of feeder cattle transactions in 27 states. (Prices $ per hundredweight) Prev. week Change This week $134.35 $134.53 -$.18

Lamb prices Slaughter Prices - Negotiated, Live, wooled and shorn 75-165 lbs. for 106.61-138 $/cwt. (wtd. ave. 120.99)

Export inspections (Million bushels) Week ending Soybeans Wheat Corn 4/18/2013 5.0 24.8 12.4 4/11/2013 6.7 23.7 14.7 Last year 12.8 25.2 31.1 Season total 1237.0 870.0 470.1 Previous season total 1073.7 897.3 1055.1 USDA projected total 1350 1025 800 Crop marketing year began June 1 for wheat and Sept. 1 for corn and soybeans.

have been in sell-mode, according to the analyst. “We seem to have a market that is in disagreement with itself,” Newsom said. “Investment traders are moving to other sectors. Until they come back, it doesn’t matter what the fundamentals do.” The influence of traders has been most dramatic in the soybean market. The same argument about investors’ influence could be made in the

by poor demand for corn and the possibility of greater plantings of beans, according to Doane Advisory Services. “The uptrend in corn stalled as worries about sagging demand offset concern about planting delays,” the advisory service noted in a newsletter. “Gains in soybeans were subdued because if there are serious delays in corn planting, it could shift some acreage into soybeans.”

Many crop farmers have some insulation from lower crop prices this year because crop revenue insurance levels were locked in at profitable levels. “If we can’t get the markets to rally, marketing opportunities could be tough to come by,” Newsom said. “It could be a problem next year.” The drop in crop prices will help livestock producers who struggled with high feed costs, according to Chris Hurt, Purdue University Extension ag economist. Corn prices in recent months dropped about $1 per bushel while soybean meal prices slipped about $15 per ton. “A dramatic downward movement in feed prices had not been expected until midto late summer,” Hurt said. However, “if late planting or poor summer weather results in another below-normal production year, that could push up new-crop prices.”

USDA last week renewed its commitment to help the dairy industry diversify revenues and become more energy efficient. Ag Secretary Tom Vilsack signed an extension of a 4-yearold memorandum of understanding (MOU) aimed at increasing the construction and use of anaerobic digesters and exploring new ways to use products previously considered waste. USDA since 2009 has helped finance the development, construction, and biogas production of 178 anaerobic digesters nationwide. Anaerobic digester technology captures methane from waste products, such as manure, and converts it to heat and electricity. “This vital research will support the dairy industry as it works to reach its long-term goal of reducing greenhouse gas emissions by 25 percent by 2020,” Vilsack said. The Ag Department through the Natural Resources Conservation Service since 2009 has provided $257 mil-

lion to more than 6,000 dairy farmers to implement conservation practices to improve sustainability. USDA during that time helped fund 354 onfarm and in-plant energy audits as well. “Every operation (regardless of size) can benefit from an (energy) audit,” Vilsack said. “It’s an opportunity to find ways to save energy or create energy.”

Dairy producers have improved production efficiencies over the years. Milk production per cow has increased from about 5,500 pounds per cow in 1950 to more than 20,000 pounds per cow, Vilsack noted. In Illinois, dairy herds also expanded in recent years. The average herd size statewide increased from 100 cows six years ago to a current average of 135 cows. — Daniel Grant

‘We may not see a normal seasonal rally.’ — Darin Newsom DTN senior market analyst

USDA seeks to improve efficiency in dairy industry

IFF field moms donate meat

The Illinois Farm Families (IFF) field moms recently used the proceeds from “their” soybean acre in 2012 to buy and donate fresh pork to the Oak Park River Forest Food Pantry. More than 150 families will benefit. IFF is a coalition of commodity groups for beef, corn, soybeans, pork, and the Illinois Farm Bureau. Last year, the Chicago-area field moms followed the growth of an acre of Western Illinois soybeans grown on the Roseville farm of Ron and Deb Moore. On April 22, field mom and food pantry volunteer Amy Hansmann and her son, Kyle, made the presentation along with the Moores. This year, more Chicago-area field moms will follow a pen of pigs to market as well as the growth of an acre of corn and an acre of soybeans. Follow the progress of the field moms’ acres and pen at {}.


Page 11 Monday, April 29, 2013 FarmWeek


Late corn planting progress does not equal bad yields

The late emergence of spring weather this year elevated the anxiety about crops, not only from a producer perspective but from the trading sector as well. But even with the slow start to planting this year because of rain and snow, the general perception is the benefits of the moisture more than outweigh the implications of the slow start. On average since 2000, we have been planting corn about one week ahead of the 1990’s average pace. The 1980s were not a lot different than the 1990s, but the pace in the 1970s was about a half week later, yet. The shift to earlier planting is tied primarily to technology and farming practices. But it’s the notion that early planting tends to lead to good yields that has been the focus in recent years. Nevertheless, last year’s experience “blew a hole” through that theory. This year, it has been the cold April temperatures that have been more of an issue than the amount of moisture. Other than the heavy rains along the Illinois River and the mid-Mississippi River corridor and central Indiana, moisture has

not been a significant planting impediment. The big snows across northern Iowa, Minnesota, and the Dakotas were mostly welcomed, given the drier soils. It was those snows and April’s cold temperatures that interested us the most. They led us to look at some old weather records — the best ones coming from Iowa. We noted years with a number of snows in Iowa in the latter part of April, but 1984 and 1992 seemed to be the most notable, the first one coming on the 29th of the month. Planting was slow in both years, with 1984 being the slowest. Only 1983 and 1993 were slower by mid-May, both because of extreme wetness across the Corn Belt. It’s interesting to note 1984’s national yield came in 2 percent above trend. The 1992 crop was 13 percent above trend, as well as being a new national record. The growing season and fall for both were good; 1992 was exceptionally good. Late planting didn’t penalize yields. We learned that again in 2009. Late planting caused acreage to decline about 1.3 million from the March intentions in 1984. Intentions didn’t change much in 1992 because of rapid May plantings. But this year, even losing 2 million to 2.5 million acres would still produce too much corn if yields ended up close to trend.

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Corn Strategy

ü2012 crop: Last week’s break all but ended hopes for a modest bounce. Get your old-crop sales to 90 percent now. We wouldn’t oppose the idea of wrapping up sales, other than “gambling inventories.” ü2013 crop: The shift in weather hurt new-crop prices even more than old-crop ones. We’d get new-crop sales up to 30 percent now. There may not be another good opportunity to make new-crop sales until a summer weather scare. vFundamentals: The shift in weather was the biggest feature hitting corn prices this past week. Even though planting might be a little later than normal, traders do not yet believe it’s late enough to have significant yield implications. Just as important, the moisture laid down in western areas is seen as helping diminish extreme drought problems this summer. And it will take another serious weather problem to build a positive supply/demand scenario. Demand for ethanol grind has improved, but export interest remains lackluster.

Cents per bu.

Soybean Strategy

ü2012 crop: The trade keeps talking up the high interior basis levels and the tight supplies. Meanwhile, the spread between Brazilian and U.S. prices is close to making soybean imports feasible. Wrap-up 2012 crop sales other than “gambling inventories” you want to carry into summer. ü2013 crop: Use rallies to get your sales to the recommended 40 percent level. If weather is reasonably good next month, new crop prices could slip another 50 cents to $1. vFundamentals: Increasing exports out of Brazil, and potentially eroding imports for China, are changing the landscape even for nearby cash prices. Brazil exported 4.7 million metric tons (a metric ton is equal to 36.7 bushels) of soybeans the first three weeks in April. Ports are slated to start round-theclock activities, boosting shipments even more. Argentina

is said to be 56 percent complete with harvest. And China bird flu steadily gets a little worse. Poultry demand, and even pork demand, are said to have been impacted.

Wheat Strategy

ü2012 crop: The Chicago July contract’s ability to hold above the $6.86 support tends to suggest the downside could be limited. However, we remain cautious and cannot completely rule out additional weakness. If Chicago July tests the $7.21 high we may consider wrapping up old-crop sales. Stay close to the Hotline.

ü2013 crop: Wait for Chicago July to trade above $7.07 before making catch-up sales. vFundamentals: The trade still does not have a strong handle on the damage that was done by freezing temperatures in the U.S. Southern Plains. This week’s annual Kansas wheat tour should offer the first good insight on how much the crop was impacted. However, some of the concern has been overshadowed by ample international supplies and lackluster export demand. This past week’s export sales, 306,400 metric tons, came in below expectations, reinforcing that notion.




FarmWeek Page 12 Monday, April 29, 2013

Top photo: Meaderis Cheatum, a Chicago Vocational High School student, displays his Cheatum’s Hot Peppers for his horticulture teacher, Joyce Stackhouse, who coordinated the grant projects at the school. Cheatum used a $100 grant from Cook County Farm Bureau Foundation to start his own business. Right photo: Jessica Malloy, a student at the Chicago High School for Agriculture Sciences, takes orders for homemade candy. She also used a $100 grant from the Cook County Farm Bureau Foundation to launch her own candy business.(Photos courtesy Cook County Farm Bureau and Facilitating Coordination in Agricultural Education)

Seed money encourages high school student entrepreneurs

Can $100 make a difference? The answer is a resounding yes! Back in the fall, 1st Farm Credit Services partnered with the Cook County Farm Bureau Foundation to present a grant program to urban high school students who were involved with an agriculture program at their high school. The program is called SupportDIANE MERRION ing Entrepreneurship in Urban Youth. Ten students who are in the career and tech education program at Chicago Vocational High School received $100 grants (each) to start a business or an entrepreneurial project. Students had to submit a business proposal outlining their project idea and budget. Then they were given several months to start their business.

Details of their business plans had to be documented in a record book as part of a supervised ag experience (SAE). On Feb. 4, they presented their results to the foundation. To say we were blown away by the results is an understatement. Several of the participants were special-needs students who took the $100 and their idea and found a passion their teachers didn’t know existed. One student took plain table lamps and designed horticulture-themed lamps that were adorned with silk daisies and décor, butterflies, crepe paper, and much more. Another non-verbal student designed puzzles with handdrawn designs, and yet another created a line of decorative, jarred peppers complete with a corporate logo. Under the direction of Joyce Stackhouse, the horticulture teacher, these students

came to life with this opportunity and showed how far just $100 could impact their education and their lives. Mrs. Stackhouse helped the students with their ideas, purchased many of the materials with the grant money, then let them create. In addition to the products mentioned above, other students made floral designed pens, headbands, and stationary. As the students sell their products, they are using the proceeds to invest in new materials in order to continue their project work and new business venture. The students were so proud of their accomplishments and proud of the fact that they now know how to start their own business. Luke Allen, a Facilitating Coordination in Agricultural Education field adviser, helped coordinate the grant program and shared his thoughts. “This endeavor is a great

example of how agriculture education courses help prepare students for life outside of school,” Allen said. “Entrepreneurship and record keeping are integral to the way we teach agriculture, and 1st Farm Credit is to be commended for providing Chicago students with such a wonderful opportunity. “Today, I saw the face of a student who cannot communicate verbally glow in smiles and gestures as he showed us his artwork. I saw a young woman excited about the new ideas she developed for expanding her bow-making business. “I heard a principal tell me how he and other staff members noticed the total turnaround of a student who now has a new sense of purpose for attending classes,” he continued. “Agricultural education does help students prepare for life after school. Our motto is ‘Learning to Do, Doing to

Central bankers and politicians across the globe continue to tinker with policies to mask their respective slowdowns, hide their past excesses, and DEREK reignite growth VOGLER in their economies. One recent example happened in the tiny country of Cyprus . Government officials in Cyprus — under the encouragement of the other members of the European Union (EU)

— recently decided they would confiscate some bank deposits to help bail out the country and recapitalize its failing banks. While the idea of taking money from depositors seemed almost crazy when it was first announced, the proposal moved forward. The shape of the plan ended up changing somewhat, taking into account the size of the accounts. Depositors with less than 100,000 euros were left alone (a euro is worth about $1.30), but those with more than that amount will pay a yet-to-be-determined “levy” of up to 40 percent.

Without these additional funds, the EU would not have agreed to essential bailout money, and Cyprus’ membership in the EU and use of the euro would have been in jeopardy. Here in the U.S., we have started to see a slowdown in employment and even a variety of other economic variables. During March, payrolls increased by an anemic 88,000. At the same time, there was another decline in the unemployment rate to 7.6 percent, the lowest since 2008. While on the surface this seems positive, a closer look

reveals the drop was due to an increase in the number of people who left the labor force. The result is now the lowest labor participation rate since 1979. Sequestration cuts, which kicked in on March 1, are being blamed for much of the slowdown. Current expectations have the negative impact on future payrolls to be somewhere between 50,000 and 75,000 per month while these cuts are in place. Roughly 75 percent is expected to come from government jobs. While many people believe these are exactly

Learn, Earning to Live, Living to Serve.’ 1st Farm Credit has certainly made it possible for these students to Learn to Do and Do to Learn by their commitment of Living to Serve,” he said. Our (the foundation’s) gratitude goes to 1st Farm Credit for supporting this program and to the teachers, aides, and parents who also guided these students. Students at Chicago High School for Ag Sciences also participated in the program. One hundred dollars did indeed make a huge difference in the lives of these students.

Diane Merrion is the Cook County Farm Bureau ag literacy coordinator. This column appeared in the March issue of “The Cooperator” and is reprinted with permission. Editor’s note: The IAA Foundation works with 1st Farm Credit on a donor-advised fund that provided the students’ grants.

Nations are facing economic challenges here and elsewhere

the types of cuts that are necessary to reduce our longerterm debt burden, politicians already are clamoring for the next round of discussions that could reduce the pain from the sequestration. Will the existing momentum, combined with continued Fed action, be enough to maintain slightly positive growth? The answer is anything but clear at this point, but the outlook will be challenging given the increasing number of headwinds.

Derek Vogler is a vice president of investment at Country Financial.

April 29 2013  

April 20 2013

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