Page 1

AGRICULTURE TOOK ITS share of state funding cuts, but the pain is worse for some programs than others. ......................................3

A MENDOTA FAMILY has certified to its mostly urban consumer base that its cattle are raised in a humane manner. ......................5

NO SURPRISE! Last month was the coldest July since 1924, according to the Illinois State Water Survey. ...................................8

Monday, August 10, 2009

Two sections Volume 37, No. 32

Halvorson on E15

Boosting blends offers new ‘green jobs’

BY MARTIN ROSS FarmWeek

A Central Illinois congresswoman last week hailed a new biofuels industry report that indicated an increase in the percentage of ethanol blended into gasoline nationwide would reduce the percentage of unemployed Illinoisans. Illinois could gain more than 4,000 new jobs and $833 million in added economic activity if the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) approves a “green jobs” waiver to allow sale of blends up to 15 percent (E15), according to a Growth Energy report released last week. Growth Energy is an ethanol industry group committed to increasing the use of ethanol in the U.S. The report projected a short-term boost of $1.5 billion and 10,418 constructionrelated jobs needed for Illinois to expand capacity to meet demand related to new blend levels. Illinois “has much to benefit from an expanded use of ethanol in our economy,” concluded Crete Democrat

and U.S. House Ag Committee member Debbie Halvorson. She has urged EPA to approve what Illinois Corn Growers Association President Rob Elliott termed “an immediate, low-cost stimulus package.” Amid high unemployment, “there couldn’t be a better time to implement this new plan,” argued Illinois Renewable Fuels Association Secretary Gene Griffith, CEO of Patriot Renewable Fuels in Annawan. Illinois State University (ISU) Center for Renewable Energy Associate Director Randy Winter cited demand for ISU’s renewables curriculum and suggested higher blends would provide jobs for graduates and displaced workers. “When the state has an average unemployment rate of 10.5 percent — in some counties, it’s reached 11 percent — it’s great news to know we’re on the cusp of ushering in a greater clean energy economy and creating new green jobs while supporting our local farmers,” Halvorson said. “(Growth Energy’s) proposal to increase the blend to 15 percent ethanol will create up to 140,000 green collar jobs nation-

wide and reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 20 million tons per year -- the equivalent of removing 3.5 million vehicles from our roads,” she said. According to the report, higher blend levels would boost the national economy by $24.4 billion. Beyond providing 200-plus construction jobs, Patriot

employs 52 workers and has created an annual market for 37 million bushels of corn. It annually produces 320,000 tons of distillers dried grains (DDGs). By adding a container-loading facility, Japanese, Korean, Chinese, and Malaysian DDG markets have “opened up to us in one short year,” Griffith said.

A key challenge to EPA waiver approval is the smallequipment industry, which has questioned the impact of E15 on mower and other gas-powered off-road engines. Growth Energy market development manager Michelle Kautz told FarmWeek her group hopes to work with small-engine manufacturers to resolve their issues.

MUSTANG TAMING

Walt Gentry, operator of the Eastern States Wild Horse and Burro Holding Facility at Ewing in Franklin County, demonstrates a “gentling” technique that uses a plastic bag to socialize a 2-year-old mustang filly. Over the weekend, the Bureau of Land Management offered 47 mustangs for adoption at Bloomington’s Interstate Center. Most of the animals were captured in Nevada. (Photo by Ken Kashian)

Periodicals: Time Valued

Would climate bill extinguish coal power? House “cap-and-trade” proposals could spell “the end of the coal industry not only in Illinois but for the country,” Illinois Coal Association President Phillip Gonet warns. That would mean major retooling for many of Illinois’ 200-plus power plants, higher costs for Midwest electrical customers (see accompanying map), and a further economic blow to Southern Illinois’ coal industry, Gonet and others advise. Coal-fired electricity generation and the Midwest are projected to be the biggest losers under House proposals to

reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions 17 percent from 2005 levels by 2020 and 83 percent by 2050. The average U.S. electricity customer could face a 20 percent price increase in 20 years as a result of the plan under a best-case scenario, a U.S. Ener-

FarmWeek on the web: FarmWeekNow.com

gy Information Administration (EIA) report concluded last week. Association of Illinois Electrical Cooperatives (AIEC) President Duane Noland calls cap-and-trade “without a doubt, the biggest federal issue probably in the history of the rural electrification program.” The plan could generate a “tremendous windfall” for states that rely on hydroelectric or other non-coal sources and are in a position to sell surplus emissions “offsets” to coal-reliant regions, he said.

“We have a real issue with affordability and with fairness,” Noland told FarmWeek. “We see the opportunity for this to become a wealth redistribution program from region to region. There shouldn’t be winners and losers based on the region of the country you are from.” Speculation and sequestration AIEC opposes auctioning of emissions allowances in the electrical sector and urges lawmakers to provide an “ecoSee Coal, page 4

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


FarmWeek Page 2 Monday, August 10, 2009

GOVERNMENT

Quick Takes SENATE ‘BETTER’ RESPECT AG — U.S. Rep. Debbie Halvorson, a Crete Democrat, has some stern words for senators set to eye “cap-and-trade” proposals this fall. Halvorson’s House Ag Committee crafted more producer-friendly amendments to the measure that “we needed to have in order to vote for the bill,” she stressed. She is especially adamant about wanting provisions that grant USDA, rather than the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), overview of ag emissions allowances and offsets and a directive against using global “indirect land use” as an EPA consideration in evaluating the environmental impact of future biofuels. Halvorson warned the Senate “better” preserve the ag committee’s compromise provisions or cap-and-trade legislation will “have a hard time when it comes back to the House in conference.” “We worked really hard with our Farm Bureaus, with our corn (groups), and the soybean (groups),” she told FarmWeek. “These were all important things in order to get this passed in the House.” CONSERVATION STEWARDSHIP SIGNUP STARTS — USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) will begin continuous signup for the new conservation stewardship program (CSP) today (Aug. 10) with the first cut-off scheduled for Sept. 30. CSP is a voluntary program that helps farmers and landowners maintain existing conservation practices and adopt additional ones on their operations. Congress capped the annual acreage enrollment at 12.769 million acres nationwide. Eligible acres include cropland, grassland, prairie, improved pasture, and nonindustrial private forestland. To apply for the newly revamped CSP, potential participants should use a self-screening checklist to determine whether the program is suitable for them or their operation. The checklist is available on the NRCS website {www.nrcs.usda.gov/new_csp} and from NRCS offices. BROADBAND CONFERENCE CANCELLED –- Supporters of high-speed Internet in rural areas are working overtime on proposals for federal stimulus funding, resulting in the cancellation of a national rural broadband conference. The board of the Rural Telecommunications Congress (RTC) decided to cancel the October 2009 conference in Georgia because many government officials and broadband supporters are working on broadband proposals and dealing with budget cuts. “Rural broadband is RTC’s reason for being,” said Jane Patterson, an RTC board member, “so we don’t want to create a conflict for those who are working on proposals that will expand rural broadband.”

(ISSN0197-6680) Vol. 37 No. 32

August 10, 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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STAFF Editor Dave McClelland (dmcclelland@ilfb.org) Legislative Affairs Editor Kay Shipman (kayship@ilfb.org) Agricultural Affairs Editor Martin Ross (mross@ilfb.org) Senior Commodities Editor Daniel Grant (dgrant@ilfb.org) Editorial Assistant Linda Goltz (Lgoltz@ilfb.org) Business Production Manager Bob Standard Advertising Sales Manager

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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

Ten-year-old Andrew Yount of Springfield comes up for a breath while bobbing for eggs at last week’s Illinois State Fair preview in Springfield. Looking on at left is Terry English, a marketing representative with the Illinois Department of Agriculture’s (IDOA) bureau of marketing and promotion. During the State Fair, IDOA will have daily egg bobbing contests at 5 p.m. in the Heartland Area. (Photo by Kay Shipman)

IFB plans State Fair activities Illinois Farm Bureau will entertain and inform visitors to the Illinois State Fair, which starts Friday and concludes Aug. 23. On the Commodity Pavilion stage across from the Grandstand, IFB will have shows daily from Aug. 14 to 20. Singer-songwriter Chris Vallillo will return with a special focus on AbraFarmWeekNow.com ham Lincoln. Check out IFB’s activities at the Illinois State Fair by going Vallillo will combine Linto FarmWeekNow.com. coln’s own words and stories with period folk songs and contemporary folk music. Also on the stage, RFD Radio’s Alan Jarand from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. Aug. 14 to 20 will interview newsmakers and elected officials at the fair. Also conducting interviews will be Rita Frazer from RFD affiliate WSMI, Litchfield. On Aug. 18, Agriculture Day activities will include the IFB Young Leader Agri-Quiz Bowl

Contest in the Illinois Building theater. Thirtysix county Young Leader teams from across the state will compete. The first round will start at 8 a.m. with the competition continuing through the day. The final match will start at 4 p.m. A consolation bracket will be conducted for second-place teams from preliminary rounds. The winner of the consolation bracket will advance to compete in the finals. For the second year, IFB will help junior livestock champion and reserve champion exhibitors commemorate their achievement. IFB photographer Ken Kashian will photograph the junior champion and reserve champion exhibitors of beef, hogs, sheep, chickens, meat goats, and rabbits. On Agriculture Day, those exhibitors will be presented with their framed photographs during the Governor’s Sale of Champions in the Livestock Center. For more details, go online to {www.ilfb.org}.

Nelson: Health care access key, D.C. proposals questionable BY MARTIN ROSS FarmWeek

Illinois Farm Bureau President Philip Nelson sees key differences between nationwide “access to health care” and “universal” health care coverage. Amid growing congressional debate over health care reform, Nelson questions how current Senate proposals would affect the existing U.S. health care/coverage structure, overall health care affordability, and consumer choice of doctors or medical procedures. He said he is “philosophically” wary of moving toward a health system similar to government programs operating in Canada or Europe. Opponents of administration-supported Senate proposals target a potentially tax-supported “public option” aimed

at addressing medical costs for the uninsured or underinsured. “There’s no doubt you have to sympathize with the 47 million Americans who do not have health care coverage, and I think the ultimate goal should be to see if there’s something we can do to provide that coverage,” Nelson told FarmWeek. “Having said that, ultimately, when you look at the potential price tag for this bill, from a fiscal standpoint, it’s a concern of ours about how much this government can afford to jump into the debate. Once you put in an entitlement of this magnitude, how do we pay for it at the federal level?” Nelson is particularly concerned about a Senate-proposed mandate that all employers offer coverage for

their workers. Agriculture would be exempted for up to 25 employees under the plan, but he remains wary of the mandate’s potential economic impact on growing farm businesses or specialty operations that regularly employ temporary seasonal workers. An American Farm Bureau Fderation federal deficit reduction task force has eyed the alternative concept of health care vouchers that Nelson said would “still keep things private” and enable individuals to choose their provider. In any case, he seeks not only a more level playing field in Medicare reimbursements for urban and rural providers, but also efforts to remedy significant cost differences between hospitals and insured and non-insured patients.


FarmWeek Page 3 Monday, August 10, 2009

STATE

State budget cuts mixed bag for agriculture BY KAY SHIPMAN FarmWeek

Agriculture took its share of state funding cuts, but the pain is worse for some agrelated programs than others. Gov. Pat Quinn has outlined $1 billion in state budget cuts, based on lump-sum appropriations passed by the General Assembly. The Illinois Department of Agriculture (IDOA) will not have to eliminate any of its programs and will be able to meet its core responsibilities, said Jeff Squibb, IDOA spokesman. However IDOA received a 15 percent reduction in general revenue funds from $42 million in fiscal year 2009 to $36 million in fiscal year 2010 (July 1, 2009, to June 30, 2010). In addition, the General Assembly did not pass proposed fee increases that would have offset a $3 million decrease in general revenue funds, Squibb said.

No IDOA layoffs are anticipated; however, vacant employee positions throughout the agency will not be filled, according to Squibb. “Every bureau has vacancies,” Squibb said. “We’ll have to make do with what we have.” Soil and Water Conservation Districts (SWCDs) may have a budget that is 25 percent lower than the previous fiscal year, said Rich Nichols, executive director of the Association of Soil and Water Conservation Districts. “We’ve had assurances that IDOA will provide funding for (SWCD employee) insurance

for the entire year,” Nichols said. “We feel fortunate that we came out with what we got,” Nichols added. But the cuts were too much for at least one district. Adams County SWCD laid off both its employees on July 31. The office and district directors remain, but there are no employees, according to Nichols. In many cases, district offices may have to reduce hours of operation, he said. Many SWCD employees are working half time or working four days a week.

Nichols advised farmers and landowners to check on their district office hours before making a visit. The budget news was grim for Illinois Council on Food and Agricultural Research (CFAR). Funding for food and agricultural research funding was eliminated, compared to the $2.275 million C-FAR received last year. “We’re working toward getting some funding to help research that is in progress finish,” said Jerry Hicks, C-FAR chairman. “There were three or four other projects that were cut,

Quinn signs renewable energy, clean coal bill Gov. Pat Quinn recently signed legislation that provides a state-backed guarantee supporting construction of renewable energy and clean-coal projects. “This legislation boosts investment in clean energy and sustainable practices that reduce our carbon footprint while generating greater employment opportunities,” Quinn said. SB1906 clarifies the Illinois Finance Authority’s (IFA) existing bonding authority for renewable energy and clean-coal projects. The law also increases the state and IFA’s

loan guarantee from $75 million to $225 million for agricultural businesses. Under the law, the state and IFA will work to make available up to $3 billion in guaranteed financing for qualified renewable energy and clean-coal projects. The law provides guarantees to back qualified renewable energy projects such as wind, biodiesel, or biomass initiatives that are related to agriculture. The law also positions Illinois to compete for federal stimulus loan guarantees designated for new green projects.

too. We’re not alone.” Hicks estimated $1.5 million to $2 million would be needed to complete the research projects under way. C-FAR officials have said if funding isn’t restored, critical ongoing research will stop and current research programs will be in disarray. The state also will lose the ability to leverage millions of dollars in federal funding. Budget cuts have taken a toll on rural mental health services once offered by the Farm Resource Center (FRC). The center’s funding was eliminated by the Department of Public Health and by the mental health division of the Department of Human Services, according to Roger Hannan, FRC executive director. People still call the toll-free crisis line, but a message tells callers FRC is shut down and to call their local mental health service in cases of suicide emergencies, Hannan said. He said some of the callers have left tragic messages. With no state funding, “it becomes a challenge for the (volunteer) board to keep the agency open,” Hannan said.

State launches pilot project targeting meth manufacturers Meth incidents up 36 percent Illinois is launching a pilot project to find possible methamphetamine manufacturers as the number of illegal meth incidents increases in the state. The General Assembly passed and Gov. Pat Quinn signed HB865 that creates a pilot program to track electronically purchases of pseu-

doephedrine in Adams, Madison, St. Clair, and Vermilion counties, which have a higher incidence of meth problems. Pseudoephedrine is a key ingredient in the illegal production of meth. In the first six months of this year, state law enforcement officials have seen a 36 percent increase in meth incidents compared to the same period a year ago, said Illinois State Police Master Sgt. Eric Hall, coordinator

of the statewide meth program. The state’s new pilot program will create a paperless system to provide real-time information to law enforcement, Hall said. The law takes effect Oct. 23. People who buy the overthe-counter cold and allergy medicine in those counties will be asked to show a form of identification to a pharmacy employee, who, in turn, will scan the information

electronically or enter it into the store’s computer, Hall explained. Within two or three seconds, law enforcement will be able to view the information, he added. “Methamphetamine usage has been a serious and ongoing concern in Western Illinois,” said Sen. John Sullivan (D-Rushville) one of the bill sponsors. “This pilot program is especially significant because it targets the producers and distributors of

methamphetamines, rather than the users.” The pilot project will not cost taxpayers or businesses because the necessary components already are in place, according to Hall. Kentucky uses a similar electronic system statewide, and 30,000 illegal pseudoephedrine purchases were thwarted in the first six months the program was in operation, according to Hall. — Kay Shipman

Community colleges offering renewable energy programs Community colleges around Illinois are joining the state’s growing renewable energy industry by offering twoyear degree and training programs. A wind energy developer told Highland Community College officials the industry needed certified wind energy technicians, which led to development of a training program, said Scott Anderson, the Freeport college’s dean of business and technology. Recently, Anderson joined with representatives of Lake Land College, Mattoon, and Sauk Valley Community College, Dixon, to discuss training and associate degree programs in renewable energy. Since last August, Highland students have studied courses leading to an associate wind technician degree on turbine operation and maintenance. Before starting, students must climb a turbine tower to test their ability to

work in the field. “Students realized they have to climb towers four or five times a day, so we added a physical fitness requirement to the program,” Anderson said. The wind energy company helped college officials develop the curriculum, which includes an internship. Sixteen students were admitted into the first class in August 2008. Sauk Valley also focuses on turbine operation and maintenance in its program, said Alan Pfeifer, the college’s dean of information services. Because students will work in high places and tight spaces, “safety is a big concern and part of our program,” Pfeifer added. Students may earn one-year certificates, including an advanced certificate. Two-year science degrees will be available online for wind energy employees.

The college has a partnership with a wind turbine manufacturer and is

‘Students realized they have to climb towers four or five t i m e s a d a y, s o w e added a physical fitness requirement to the program.’ — Scott Anderson Highland Community College dean of business and technology

interested in working with other businesses in the industry, Pfeifer said. Sauk Valley students must test their climbing aptitude before they’re admitted into the program. The col-

lege has received twice as many applicants as it has openings in the program, Pfeifer said. At Lake Land College, wind energy is part of an alternative energy curriculum, said Joe Tillman, an engineer with the college and an adjunct faculty member. The college is converting its physical plant to include geothermal, solar, and other alternative energy sources. “The results are nothing short of phenomenal — beyond any engineer’s wildest imagination,” Tillman said. The college is installing a wind turbine to generate electricity for the campus and to provide training for students. Lake Land students, even some in a draft class, are studying different aspects of alternative energy, he noted. — Kay Shipman


FarmWeek Page 4 Monday, August 10, 2009

CLIMATE

Co-ops find members cold on cap-and-trade BY MARTIN ROSS FarmWeek

Downstate electricity users appear none too warm toward shouldering costs associated with proposed climate change policy, according to a pair of Illinois co-ops. In April, Auburn-based Rural Electric Convenience Co-op Co. (RECC), which serves parts of Christian, Macoupin, Montgomery, Morgan, and Sangamon counties, surveyed members regarding climate policy and electricity costs. RECC CEO David Stuva, whose members largely are involved in agriculture or state government, noted a roughly 50-50 split over whether climate was even an issue. Yet nearly 80 percent were unwilling “to pay anything toward climate change,” Stuva told FarmWeek. “The (House cap-and-trade) bill talks about increasing elec-

tricity rates two to five cents per kilowatt-hour,” he said. “A lot is determined by the price of (emissions) allowances and how they’re allocated, but that would have a tremendous impact on our members. We want our members to know this will affect the quality of life they currently have.” Because it is a co-op, any compliance costs incurred by RECC would be passed directly on to members, Stuva emphasized. He urged lawmakers not to hurry cap-and-trade legislation, warning Congress would be “opening a Pandora’s box” by failing to build in failsafe provisions to ease or halt requirements if costs reached unmanageable levels. At an initial $15-per-ton price for allowances, Larry Lovell, general manager of the Marion-based Southern Illinois Electric Cooperative (SIEC), estimates the House plan could

cost his members $240-$1,300 more per year. The problem is, prices “are probably not going to stay at $15,” he said. SIEC — which serves Alexander, Johnson, Massac, Pope, Pulaski, and Union counties — relies predomi-

nantly on coal-fired generation. Lovell is concerned about SIEC compliance with “any bill that’s going to come from Congress,” given a current lack of proven coal carbon sequestration technology. “Anything that comes out

has to be tied to the technology,” maintained Lovell, whose directors oppose any congressional climate measure. “You can’t impose something on us that we cannot do. And we cannot comply the way the bill is written right now.”

FutureGen best option for coal adaptation As the U.S. moves into what he terms a “green era,” U.S. Rep. Jerry Costello insists “we cannot move away from coal.” The Belleville Democrat continues to push for final federal approval of the long-delayed FutureGen coal power/carbon sequestration project slated for Mattoon. The U.S. Department of Energy may make a major announcement regarding FutureGen’s fate “in the not too distant future,” Costello told FarmWeek He said he “adamantly opposed” House capand-trade legislation “for a number of reasons,” including its impact on consumer-business energy costs. Costello warned it would penalize states reliant on coal-fired electrical generation — “If we have a national problem, we need a national solution.” “Clean coal” projects such as FutureGen offer the best hope for future Midwest coal use under greenhouse emissions caps, he said. Tapping an estimated 250-year domestic coal supply would reduce U.S. dependence on foreign oil and natural gas, the latter being coal’s likely replacement under the House plan.

Coal also is a reality for countries such as China, where an average of one new coal-fired plant is going online each week. Costello argues options for coal-based sequestration may provide the best approach for energy-hungry nations joining the U.S. in climate change efforts. Unilateral policies will put U.S. businesses and producers at a competitive disadvantage globally, he warned. “We have other countries willing to invest their money and resources in this FutureGen project in the United States,” Costello related. “They know if it’s successful here, it will be successful in their countries and they can take the model from the United States. “We could pass the strictest cap-and-trade bill in the United States and clean up our environment. But if China and India aren’t going to reach an international agreement with us, within five years of us cleaning up our air and our environment, we could be back to square one. “People are kidding themselves if they think we can move away from coal any time in the near future, he said.” — Martin Ross

Coal

Coal and cap-and-trade • Nearly 1.1 billion tons of coal were mined across the U.S. last year. Illinois boasts nearly 25 percent of the nation’s bituminous (soft) coal reserves. • Coal lies under about 65 percent of the state, including all or parts of at least 86 of Illinois’ 102 counties. The Illinois State Geological Survey estimates 100 billion tons of recoverable coal lie beneath Illinois. According to the Illinois Coal Association, that’s enough to meet domestic coal needs over the next 100 years. • The nation’s roughly 1,200 coal-fired power plants together produce about 51 percent of the electricity in the U.S. — more than that generated through natural gas, oil, nuclear, hydroelectric, and wind sources combined. • Coal generates an estimated 47 percent of the electricity used in Illinois, at a 2008 cost of roughly 8.6 cents per kilowatthour, with much of the rest derived from nuclear plants. Across the U.S., coal accounted for $2.07 per million Btu in average receipts for electric generating plants in 2008, vs. oil at $10.96 and natural gas at $9.11, the U.S. Energy Information Administration reports. • Because of Illinois coal’s higher sulfur content, some 45 million to 50 million tons of coal used last year in Illinois came from Wyoming. Roughly 80 percent of the 33 million tons mined in Illinois last year was shipped out-of-state for use in clean coal “scrubbed” plants (see accompanying story). An estimated 2 million to 3 million tons of Illinois coal were exported. • As of early 2008, 17 mines were operating in Central and Southern Illinois. • The Illinois coal industry currently provides about 3,600 jobs. Coal-related employment was more than 4,000 in early 2007, but three Illinois mines closed that year. • Non-utility markets for Illinois coal — which accounted for nearly 40 percent of Illinois coal sales 30 years ago — have declined in recent decades. — Martin Ross

Continued from page 1 nomic safety valve” that limits potential carbon dioxide (CO2) allowance prices. In light of the recently reported impact of speculation on energy prices, the association is concerned about Wall Street’s ability to “set electricity rates” by treating allowances as a marketable commodity. AIEC seeks emissions caps “consistent with current best available control technology which is commercially available” to capture and sequester GHGs, rather than requirements that might mandate an immediate switch to a new generation source. Gonet rejects congressional comparisons between proposed emissions controls and federal efforts that led to a 98 percent reduction in U.S. sulfur dioxide (SO2) emissions. When the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency capped SO2 emissions in the ‘80s and ‘90s, plants could install “scrubber” technology that allowed “clean” use of highsulfur Illinois coal or bring in low-sulfur western U.S. coal. Illinois utilities opted predominantly for western coal — less than a handful of scrubbers are in use across the state. Illinois coal is shipped to states with scrubber technology, but Gonet stressed there is a lack of coal technology currently “proven to capture and store

CO2 underground” or any new low-carbon or carbon“scrubbable” coal sources. “In my mind, the only way

FarmWeekNow.com For more on the climate bill and its effect on coal power, visit FarmWeekNow.com.

coal-burning power plants can comply with carbon limits is to shut down,” he said. “When you consider 50 percent of the power in the United States comes from coal, we’re going to have a shortage of electricity in this nation we’ve never seen before. “No one’s building nuclear plants. You can’t put up enough windmills to replace all (coalbased electricity) and meet the increasing need for electricity. You can’t retool (coal-fired plants) for natural gas. “There’s no compromise here: If this passes, the coal industry loses. And the U.S. economy loses, because where will we get low-cost energy?” Power to the people Gonet noted coal today “tops out” at about $1.50 per million Btu (energy units), while natural gas currently is trading at roughly $4 per million Btu. Last week’s EIA report concluded allocation of free emissions allowances to electricity providers would lessen the House bill’s impact on energy

prices through 2025. But it projected “substantially greater” average electrical price impacts in 2030 as a result of higher allowance prices and phaseout of free allowance allocations between 2025 and 2030. Electricity prices would vary from 11 to 17.6 cents per kilowatt hour in 2030 under six EIA scenarios that vary according to availability of lower-emissions technologies, generation costs, and availability of emissions offsets. The economic ripples of the House plan extend well beyond utilities and their customers. Several new Illinois mines are in the planning or state permitting stages, but Gonet warned “none of those permits will probably wind up in a coal mine being built” if Congress approves the measure. That also impacts the transportation sector and its customers. Tennessee-based Ingram Barge Co., a major Upper Mississippi grain carrier, delivers much of the coal used by Illinois utilities. “There’s no question that anything that would materially reduce the amount of electricity that’s created by the burning of coal would not be good for us,” Ingram Assistant Vice President Jerry Knapper said. “It’s really impossible today to have a coherent picture of how that bill’s going to impact coal-burning utilities.” — Martin Ross


FarmWeek Page 5 Monday, August 10, 2009

LIVESTOCK

Efforts under way to slow losses in dairy industry

John Sondgeroth of Mendota pauses while working with his cattle on a mild August day. The Sondgeroth family processes the meat at its own federally inspected plant and markets the specialty beef directly to consumers. The Sondgeroths also enrolled their farm in the American Humane Association’s Certified Farm Animal program to assure their mostly urban consumer base the cattle are raised in a humane manner. (Photo by Ken Kashian)

Program guarantees humane treatment of farm animals BY DANIEL GRANT FarmWeek

Pat and John Sondgeroth of Mendota have taken numerous steps to separate their centuryold farm from most commercial beef operations. They raise Piedmontese cattle, an Italian breed that produces naturally lean meat with tender texture; they own and operate their own USDAinspected processing plant south of Mendota; and they direct-market their specialty beef to consumers. The Sondgeroths, who recognized changing trends and attitudes about food production, also enrolled in the American Humane Association (AHA) Certified Farm Animal Program. The program, established in 2000 by the AHA, guaran‘It gives us one tees consumers more edge on that products our competition.’ bearing the American Humane Certi— John fied label are Sondgeroth American Humane Associafrom animals tion certified beef producer that were raised in a humane manner. “It’s a third-party certification process that was established to create validation” of the production practices used to raise farm animals, said Tim Amlaw, manager of the AHA Certified Farm Animal Program. Producers can check into the program online at {www.americanhumane.org}. Those interested can fill out a questionnaire and do their own self-audit to see if they qualify or what they may need to do to qualify.

AHA then will audit the farm, and once it meets program standards, issue it a certification. “We authenticate (production practices) through a very thorough oversight and auditing process,” Amlaw said. Consumers, retailers, and even farmers “have embraced the whole program, he said.” About 60 million different farm animals are represented by the AHA program. Most animals in the program are poultry, but Amlaw projected program growth in the pork and veal industries. A need for the certified program developed as the number of consumers with ties to production agriculture dwindled to less than 2 percent, according to Amlaw. Meanwhile, many consumers have been confused or misled about farm production practices due in part to some negative ad campaigns. “It’s a communication linkage to consumers,” Amlaw said of the certification program. “And we try to keep it as cost effective (for farmers) as possible.” John Sondgeroth believes it was worth the time and money to obtain AHA certification for his farm. More information about his operation is available online at {www.heartlandmeats.com}. “It stemmed from a marketing standpoint,” he said. “It gives us one more edge on our competitors.” The Sondgeroths didn’t have to make any changes to their operation. However, the certification process can provide producers with insight into potential improvements that may provide tangible benefits for their operations, Amlaw noted. “We’re finding retailers really want it,” he added. “It gives producers an opportunity to open new markets.”

USDA and the National Milk Producers Federation (NMPF) recently announced separate moves that have the same goal: reducing mounting losses in the dairy industry. USDA announced it will increase the Dairy Product Price Support Program from August through October. Prices per pound the government will pay for the next three months will increase from $1.13 to $1.31 for block cheese, from $1.10 to $1.28 for barrel cheese, and from 80 cents to 92 cents for nonfat dry milk powder. The move reportedly will increase revenues for dairy producers nationwide by an estimated $243 million. Meanwhile, Cooperatives Working Together (CWT), which is administered by NMPF, last week accepted 294 bids from producers to liquidate 86,710 cows in its secondlargest herd retirement plan since 2003. The previous retirement round, which was completed in July, removed a record 101,000 cows from the national dairy herd. “These two herd retirements, combined with USDA’s price support increases, should result in a very positive movement in dairy farmers’ milk prices,” said Jerry Kozak, presi-

dent and CEO of NMPF. Kappy Koch, a dairy producer from Tremont who is vice president of the Illinois Milk Producers Association and a board member of Prairie Farms Dairy, said it currently takes a milk price of about $14 per hundredweight to break even. However, the U.S. all-milk price from January through April averaged $4.80 per hundredweight below the U.S. average cost of production. Koch said prices last week still were several dollars below breakeven for his operation. “The industry is in pretty poor position,” said Koch, who believes the recent moves will reduce losses. “So every little bit helps.” Koch believes the market eventually will turn around for dairy producers. An increase in dairy exports and reduced milk production nationwide will be instrumental for a return to profitability, he said. In the meantime, he said he will continue to limit capital expenditures to try to cut costs. “Diversification does help some and we do have a small advantage in that Prairie Farms still is one of the best markets in the country,” Koch added. “But we’re still struggling to make ends meet.” — Daniel Grant


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CROPWATCHERS Bernie Walsh, Durand, Winnebago County: We finally had the warmer weather we had been hoping for with mid-80s and mid-90s forecast for the weekend. Now we could use more rain. The Japanese beetles have returned in large numbers in some fields; in others, they have been very spotty. Corn pollination is usually complete by this time of the year but it isn’t this year, and Japanese beetles clipping silks in those later fields can be a huge problem. The county fair season is here and time to take a couple days off. Pete Tekampe, Grayslake, Lake County: A cool week in Lake County. Got a quarter of an inch of rain on Saturday (Aug. 1) and a couple of drizzly days during the week. Winter wheat was 16 percent moisture on Wednesday, and I started cutting Thursday. It’s doing about 40 bushels per acre. Corn looks good and most early corn is done tasseling and setting ears. Later planted corn is from knee high to starting to tassel. Early 30-inchrow beans have filled the rows, while later beans are less than 6 inches tall. Both crops need a lot of time and heat to make it. Second-crop hay is growing well. We had a good week at the new Lake County Fair. Leroy Getz, Savanna, Carroll County: No rain for the week. Nothing yet in August, but that could change soon. A dry week and pleasant temperatures allowed wheat and oat harvest to be completed. Straw has been baled and some good hay was made on a timely basis. Most corn has brown silked. I have not done any yield checks yet. Soybeans are improving with the sun and heat. Milk prices are finally starting upward. Many people seem to have a solution for milk prices, but milk must be marketed every day and answers come slowly. Ron Frieders, Waterman, DeKalb County: Twenty percent of the cornfields are still not tasseled. The late planting dates and poor soil conditions of last spring are quite apparent even now. Uneven pollination, low corn price relative to the cost of production, and not wanting to slow the dry-down this fall are all reasons fungicides have been sprayed on only about a third the acres this year. I did hear of at least a few fields being sprayed for bugs, as silk clipping was a problem. Soybeans are coming along. So far, I don’t think bug pressure is great enough to justify spraying. Take some time to rest and enjoy family and the fruits of your labor. Larry Hummel, Dixon, Lee County: We have been asking for more heat all summer, and it looks like it‘s finally here. Temperatures were expected to climb into the low 90s over the weekend and then settle back into the mid-80s this week. With the moisture reserves we have in the ground, I would call that perfect weather. A large percentage of the corn crop will be pollinating this week. There hasn’t been any bugs feeding on silks, but a few aphids are starting to show up on the corn plants. Soybeans are setting pods and look OK. We have three fields that are being sprayed with a fungicide. One is no-till and the other two are minimum-till with one having heavy soils and the other medium soils. Even though Japanese beetles have thinned out, they are still munching away in a few localized spots. Take a look at the average crop revenue election (ACRE) program — Friday’s deadline is fast approaching. Ken Reinhardt, Seaton, Mercer County: It was starting to rain here this Friday morning, with 1 to 3 inches possible. I have had only 0.4 of an inch of rain since last report. Corn on un-irrigated sand is firing, but there is still plenty of moisture most places. A contractor said he had two dozers stuck and was having to pull his tiling machine in the field he was in. No big insect problems other than the constant problems in alfalfa. There are still Japanese beetles on corn, beans, and about anything green. No soybean aphids have been found, but there are some to the north and east of here.

Ron Moore, Roseville, Warren County: We received 0.5 of an inch of rain last week. The corn is starting to fill the ear now, but we still need more rain to fill all the kernels that have been pollinated. The soybeans are starting to flower and form some small pods. I still have not seen any insect problems. Maybe the cooler temperatures have helped this summer. Jacob Streitmatter, Princeville, Peoria County: What a difference two weeks can make. Spent one week in the State of Washington learning about agriculture there. While I was gone, some of our early-planted corn (May 26) started to tassel and pollinate. Now it looks like a field of corn should look in August, except for all the yellow and uneven corn. I still have corn close to pollinating and some a ways off yet. Rain this past two weeks was very spotty, less than 1 inch in a two-week timeframe. I believe it is the least amount of rain all season. Soybeans may be growing, but they are still very short. Tim Green, Wyoming, Stark County: Hot temperatures expected for the weekend are greatly needed. The crop is far behind. Probably 20 percent of the corn in this area is yet to pollinate. Planes have been flying and spraying fungicides. There has been a lot of water and a lot of diseases in the beans fields, so we are thinking a fungicide might help. Not finding too many bugs in the bean fields yet. We are mowing ditches and getting ready for fall, which will be greatly delayed. Mark Kerber, Chatsworth, Livingston County: We are watching the crop continue to grow as we have come to the point in the growing season where rain is the most critical. A long, hot, dry spell could give us a disastrous crop where a couple of timely rains would give us a great crop — late, however. The government‘s ACRE program signup is gaining interest with lower prices. Informational meetings explained how this would add price and yield protection to go along with federal crop insurance, but not replace it. Keeping farms trimmed up and starting to work on fall machinery, bins, etc., are the main chores after vacations and fairs. Ron Haase, Gilman, Iroquois County: The only rain we received was on Aug. 4. The largest amount any of our farms received was 0.05 of an inch. Airplanes were still applying some fungicides this past week due to uneven and late pollination. Most of the cornfields in the area are anywhere from the blister stage (R2) up to the dough stage (R4). Most soybean fields are in the beginning pod (R3) or full-pod growth stage (R4). The local closing prices for Aug. 6 were: $3.25 for nearby corn, $3.14 for new-crop corn, $11.23 for nearby soybeans, and $10.06 for new-crop soybeans. Harry Schirding, Petersburg, Menard County: Rainfall last week, 0.93 of an inch. Total rainfall for August, 0.93 of an inch. Normal rainfall for August, 3.5 inches. A line of storms Tuesday morning did little crop damage, but some trees and power lines were blown down. Conditions are nearly ideal for the continued development of leaf diseases in corn and soybean fields. On days without rain, some producers are beginning to applying fungicide to soybean fields. Japanese beetles are still easy to find, but few other insect pests are causing any damage. Weeds continue to appear in soybean fields as a result of the above-normal rains. Wet conditions continue to hamper both hay and straw baling. Corn nearby, $3.20, down four cents; soybeans nearby, $11.52, up 39 cents; corn for January, $3.19, down a penny; soybeans for January, $10.18, up 59 cents.

Brian Schaumburg, Chenoa, McLean County: Corn development is anywhere from R1 (silk) to R3 (milk). Preliminary yield checks show ear counts that are girthy and stand counts that are 10 percent light. If the sweet corn is indicative of the coming corn crop, it could be tremendous! Soybeans are R1 to R4, short, and 30-inch rows are not all canopied. Still very little insect pressure, but gray leaf spot and common rust are widespread due to cool, wet mornings and lack of sunshine. Corn: $3.26, $3.13, fall; soybeans: $11.25, $9.90, fall; wheat: $4.10. Steve Ayers, Champaign, Champaign County: Storms rolled through the area Tuesday morning with wind and heavy rain. We ended up with 0.5 of an inch of rain with tree limbs down and power out for a couple hours. Seventy mph straight-line winds hit some areas. Bin damage was reported at the Premier Co-op Sidney facility. The Georgetown Fair in neighboring Vermilion County had tent and awning damage but was up and running later Tuesday. Heat and humidity were forecast for the weekend followed by a cool-off. Japanese beetles continue munching on soybeans and gray leaf spot is showing up in more cornfields. See you at Agronomy Day Thursday! Wilfred Dittmer, Quincy, Adams County: Our gauge picked up just a bit more than 1 inch of rain over three different days. There was a little hail but no major damage. Strong winds in some areas did some building and crop damage. Overall, I think corn shares the same problems in a wide area with the blanks, low spots, yellowing, short stalks, etc. Soybeans are beginning to get some growth, but their clock is winding down also. I see just a little leaf feeding on some beans. Hay guys are trying to get the next crop put away between the showers, and there is still some general mowing to do. Tom Ritter, Blue Mound, Macon County: There were light showers early in the week. Some areas received up to 1.5 inches, but most received in the 0.3 to 0.4 of an inch range. We are definitely in a drier pattern and have received only 0.6 to 0.7 of inch of rain in the last three weeks. Cooler conditions have prevented major drought stress on the crop. It’s definitely time for rain. The corn continues to progress, but we are needing the heat expected to come during the weekend before you read this report. We are way behind on growing degree days. Planes are spraying fungicides, but the spraying has been on a more limited basis. Economics are just not there as in previous years. Soybeans also continue to progress but very slowly. They are extremely short considering this is August. It will definitely be a late harvest. Farmers are working on equipment and storage as fall approaches, even though it will probably be late, late September before the majority of the corn will be in full swing. Todd Easton, Charleston, Coles County: Summer heat and humidity seem to have finally shown up here in Coles County. I spent most of last week in and out of several fields to see how the crop is getting along. I was surprised at how much potential we actually have so far. The majority of the corn is in the R2 to R3 stage. I have not seen any pollination problems, and population and kernel counts are very good. Soybeans so far look good also and range from the beginning bloom (R1) to beginning pod (R2) stages and are almost canopied over even in the 30-inch rows. Right now, we have the potential, but we will need rain and warm temperatures through much of September to hold onto it. Grandpa wanted me to mention our rainfall total here so far. It has been a whopping 34.2 inches, and we have received 5 inches since July 1. Hopefully, we will get close to that in August. I am still trying to figure out this ACRE program, and I wish luck to anyone else who is trying to do the same.


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CROPWATCHERS Jimmy Ayers, Rochester, Sangamon County: We received a little over a half inch of rain at our place last week. Springfield’s newspaper said we had the coldest July temperaturewise on record. We were expecting 90-degree-plus weather during the weekend. Beans seem to be putting on some growth. Need to be checking your corn for disease. We found corn that has some problems, but it looks like the ears are dented and pretty well loaded. A little bit of corn is still pollinating. It’s been cool and wet in the mornings, and that is ideal for diseases to take off. The Illinois State Fair twilight parade will kick off Thursday. The fair runs through Aug. 23. If you get a chance, swing by Springfield for activities. I had the opportunity to do a little bit of river rafting in Missouri last week. I enjoyed a little down time. Doug Uphoff, Shelbyville, Shelby County: Last week we had from 0.4 to 1.6 inches of rain in the county. We also had storm damage, although not severe. We lost a couple tree tops and one old tree at Dad’s. Dog days of summer have arrived so, hopefully, crops will get caught up. We are still shedding pollen in cornfields and beans are setting pods and blooming heavily. They definitely have some catching up to do. Some corn is still being sprayed with Headline. Farmer turnout was heavy at an ACRE meeting in the county, and we are trying to make an informed decision on the new Farm Service Agency program. Remember, we are taking a chance of receiving no payment from ACRE and a reduction in the current payment and marketing loan programs. By the way, I’m first. I had seven acres of corn harvested already, although it was by a stolen car being chased by police. The 15 year old looks like he got lost while doing loop-d-loops in the field. Anhydrous can be booked for $400 to $425 per ton, and it already has started going up. Cash corn, $3.27; fall, $3.10; January, $3.26; cash beans, $11.35; fall, $10.08; January, $10.24; wheat, $4. Rick Corners, Centralia, Jefferson County: We had a very nice rain Aug. 1. It varied around the area from 1 inch to almost 2 inches. The first rain we’ve had in six months that we actually wanted. I think most of the beans have finally grown a little.

David Schaal, St. Peter, Fayette County: July was one of the coolest on record. Not real sure that was a good thing. I received a strong 0.5 of an inch of rain on Aug. 1 and on Aug. 3, the northern part of the county had a little shower. The corn crop around the area is now pretty well tasseled out and is pollinating or soon will be. Soybeans have regained good green color and some fields seem to be growing, but others are not. That might be due to working or planting in too wet of conditions, which was pretty common around here. It is still odd to think that somewhere close to 20 percent of the county was not planted to crops this year. There is a lot of soybean spraying going on and many weeds are difficult to kill. We need soybeans to canopy soon to hold some of the weeds back. We also need timely rains and some heat to help catch the crops up to the calendar. If it were July 10, things would not look that terribly bad. Ted Kuebrich, Jerseyville, Jersey County: The corn crop in Jersey County for the most part is in very good shape with most of the crop past pollination. There are still some fields of corn that were planted late and have not started tasseling. The earlyplanted beans are putting on pods, blooming, and looking very good. The Japanese beetles have left, and now I see we have a few green grasshoppers eating on the early-planted beans. Cash corn, $3.42; new corn, $3.16; January corn, $3.33; cash beans, $11.78; new beans, $10.22; January beans, $10.41. Dan Meinhart, Montrose, Jasper County: Rainfall this past week was 0.5 of an inch more or less. Bean spraying continues. Corn is from waist high to pollinating. Most areas are in need of a rain. The crop was planted 4 to 6 weeks late and cool weather has slowed its growth. As one drives around the county, it becomes apparent how many fields have not been planted at all, how many cornfields are uneven, and how many drowned-out spots there are.

Bob Biehl, Belleville, St. Clair County: Received 0.9 of an inch of rain last week. That really helped corn going into the critical pollination stage and jump started some of the smaller beans. Today, yield potential on corn looks better than on beans. Beans are blooming and only about 8 to 10 inches tall. There is still a fair amount of spraying of the beans going on. Weed kills are fairly good except for a few taller water hemps that probably needed close to 50 ounces of Roundup to get the job done. Morning glories were plentiful, too. I hope Synchrony herbicide helped me on those. Otherwise, we’re getting bins cleaned out and repaired for fall harvest. Traveled to Evansville, Ind., Thursday via I-64. Crops are uneven and several fields are not even planted. Kevin Raber, Browns, Wabash County: We traveled a lot of miles on vacation recently and all the corn and beans looked to be way behind in development for this time of year. Here at home, the grass in my yard is outgrowing my lateplanted beans. The corn looks good from the road, but most will need a couple more rainy weeks to get good yields. Dean Shields, Murphysboro, Jackson County: We had another fairly wet week in Jackson County. We are getting quite a bit of rain, anywhere from 1 to 3 inches. It’s keeping everything soaked. The crops, except for those in the low ground, are coming along pretty well. Low ground corn is getting too much and some it is turning yellow. We have corn now that has black silks and we have corn that is pretty small yet. The same with beans — all different sizes. Still doing quite a bit of spraying in the area for the late-planted beans. It feels like summer is winding down for some of us. Some stuff is being done to get ready for harvest and people are still on vacation. Reports received Friday morning.

Survey: Bumper crops still possible nationwide Bumper corn and soybean crops still are possible, despite a very unusual growing season, according to a Farm Futures survey of U.S. farmers. Farm Futures in late July surveyed 741 farmers from around the U.S. and from that information projected corn production this year could reach 12.545 billion bushels,

which would be the secondlargest crop in history. Soybean production could set a new record at 3.275 billion bushels. USDA on Wednesday will release its first estimates of corn and soybean production this season based on actual infield surveys as opposed to statistical projections. Farm Futures predicted

Far m Futures predicted USDA this week will lower its estimate of cor n plantings by 2 million acres compared to its June survey. USDA this week will lower its estimate of corn plantings by

2 million acres compared to its June survey.

Illinois wheat forum Aug. 26 in Highland An Illinois wheat forum will be held Wednesday, Aug. 26, to assist wheat producers with fall planting decisions. The forum will be held in Highland at the Knights of Columbus Hall, located on the north edge of town on Route 143.

Registration will begin at 8 a.m. on the day of the event. The program will run until 3 p.m. Certified Crop Adviser Continuing Education Credits will be available for those in attendance. The program will feature

Phil Needham of Needham Ag Technologies, who will discuss potential for high wheat yields; Emerson Nafziger, University of Illinois Extension agronomist, who will report results of the 2009 U of I wheat variety performance trials; Tony

Organic trading firm plans programming Organic Alliance Inc., based in California, last week announced it is working with the Chicago-based Tribune Media Co. to develop television, newspaper, and web information about the benefits of organic products. Programs will focus on the use of natural and organic products and include cooking

demonstrations, health and fitness tips, and visits to natural and organic product producers, according to Organic Alliance. The preliminary plan is to go on air in the fall with pilot programming and expand to other media outlets. Organic Alliance offerings range from organic fruit and vegetables to organic grass-fed beef.

Peterson, ConAgra Mills, who will discuss food safety; Gary Schnitkey, U of I Extension farm management specialist, who will provide estimates of 2010 crop input costs; and Rob Huston, manager of AgriVisor, who will discuss factors that affect wheat prices. Registration will be on site, and the fee, which includes lunch, is $15 for members of the Illinois Wheat Association (IWA) and $25 for non-members. For more information, contact Lowell Lenschow, IWA executive secretary, at 309-557-3662 or by e-mail at Lenschow@ilfb.org.

However, a large crop still is expected as the Farm Futures survey found corn yields could average 160.3 bushels per acre compared to USDA’s current estimate of 153.4 bushels per acre. The Farm Futures survey projected a national soybean yield of 42.8 bushels per acre, which is a slightly higher than USDA’s current forecast. “It will likely be feast or famine in the Midwest this year,” said Arlan Suderman, Farm Futures market analyst. “High crop ratings shout record yields, but an early frost could quickly ignite bullish talk of shortages.” The corn crop in Illinois last week was rated 60 percent good to excellent, 29 percent fair, and 11 percent poor to very poor. The soybean crop was rated 58 percent good to excellent, 32 percent fair, and 10 percent poor to very poor. Crop maturity as of last week was well behind in the state: 16 percent of the corn crop was in the dough stage compared to the average of 50 percent while just 18 percent of soybeans were setting pods compared to the average of 58 percent.


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PRODUCTION

Expert wages ‘war’ on weeds, ignorance on Hill BY MARTIN ROSS FarmWeek

An effective war on weeds requires a battle for the hearts and minds of policymakers and influencers and, often, a chemistry or economics lesson. Last week, Leonard Gianessi, director of the Crop Protection Research Institute, brought “War of the Weeds,” an examination of the agronomic and economic benefits of herbicides, to an Illinois Farm Bureau/GROWMARK audience in Bloomington. Gianessi delivers the presentation to ag and trade groups, crop protection companies, regulators, and Washington lawmakers. Many legislators and congressional staffers “have their prejudices against agricultural chemicals” and may merely be confused by complex scientific analysis, “so we take them back to the basics,” he told FarmWeek. “One of the factors involved right now is people’s impression of organic agriculture,” Gianessi

related. “Organic agriculture is very favorably presented in the press; many people have the impression that organic agriculture could feed Leonard Gianessi the world. “We use this as a teachable moment, to talk to people about the constraints of going without chemicals. A half a percent of American acres are organic. There are some solid reasons why it will probably always be a niche in our agriculture.” A new study from the United Kingdom documents little difference in nutritional value and no evidence of added health benefits from eating organic produce. The report found no differences in vitamin C, calcium, iron, or other nutrients in organic or conventionally grown crops. Further, a recent Council for Agricultural Science and Technology analysis concluded

biotech soybean production, with its impact in reducing tillage needs and soil erosion, is “a far more sustainable system” than organic systems that may require moldboard plowing, Gianessi noted. Gianessi sees “extremely robust” industry research and development going into new, more sustainable chemicals. Despite continued policy challenges, he feels the ag chemical industry “is a good place to be in this economy.” “Right now, the major manufacturers have new molecules at very low (use) rates that are approved by the EPA (Environmental Protection Agency) and that pose almost no human toxicity concerns,” he said. “There are vast improvements in application technology, very little drift offsite, buffer zones to keep products out of streams. “We’ve been managing these compounds with a health and safety approach now for 40 years, since Nixon set up the U.S. EPA.”

Gianessi: Ag chemical use ally in climate protection? Going chemically au natural may not be as suited to the changing climate as some might expect, according to Crop Protection Research Institute (CPRI) Director Leonard Gianessi. A June CPRI report indicated U.S. producers who used herbicides to control weeds saved 337 million gallons of diesel fuel that otherwise would be needed annually for mechanical tillage. A growing policy focus on greenhouse gas emissions thus may cast a more skeptical light on organic crop production, Gianessi said. Herbicides are derived from petroleum-based feedstocks and additional energy inputs required in manufacturing. CPRI concluded manufacturing a pound of herbicide requires the equivalent of 0.30 of a gallon of diesel fuel. In 2005, 349 million pounds of herbicides were used in U.S. crop production, requiring the estimated equivalent of 105 million gallons of diesel fuel. “The carbon footprint is greater with a non-chemical type approach,” Gianessi told FarmWeek. “Organic farmers use about 10 times more fuel per acre in their weed control operations than does a no-till soybean farmer here in Illinois.” California-based organic producer Earthbound Farms states conventional farmers “spend only about $50 an acre on herbicides that knock out every weed in sight,” while organic farmers “may have to spend up to $1,000 an acre to keep weeds under control. — Martin Ross

July ’09 coldest on record; warmer weather expected BY DANIEL GRANT FarmWeek

Temperatures this month were projected to warm up around the state after last month ended as the coldest July on record in Illinois. The statewide average temperature last month was just 70.4 degrees, which was 5.3 degrees below normal and more than one full degree below the previous record low average of 71.5 degrees set back in July 1924, according to the Illinois State Water Survey (ISWS). “It’s pretty remarkable to beat the old record by a full degree,” said Jim Angel, state

climatologist with ISWS. The cool pattern last month was accompanied by a continuation of above-average precipitation. Statewide precipitation for July averaged 4.9 inches, 1.1 inches above normal. Overall, precipitation from January through July averaged 29 inches, 5.6 inches above normal. The mild weather conditions last month helped reduce energy demand for cooling homes and businesses, and conditions generally were favorable for corn pollination, according to Angel. The cool, wet pattern continued much of last week as

some portions of the state, particularly in Southern Illinois, received 3-plus inches of rain from storms that also produced strong winds. But the forecast for much of the rest of the month is for warmer temperatures and an increased chance of below-normal precipitation, Angel reported. “Historically, the odds favor a continuation of cool conditions in August (after a cool July),” Angel said. “But the forecast points toward much

warmer temperatures. It could be more like last year when we had a cool July followed by a warm and dry August.” A switch to a warmer weather pattern should benefit the crops, which generally are behind in maturity. It also may reduce the risk of crop injury that could occur if there is an early frost. “Last year, we were worried about the same situation and we ended up having a warm August and September that

really bailed the crops out,” Angel said. “That scenario could play out again.” Otherwise, if it’s a “normal” season, the first freeze should arrive around Oct. 1 in Northern Illinois, Oct. 15 in Central Illinois, and Nov. 1 in Southern Illinois. But farmers simply will have to wait to see how the weather plays out. “It’s really hard to get a sense of the risk for an early frost. It’s kind of like trying to predict a tornado a month in advance,” said Angel.

Widespread bacterial disease noted in soybeans BY KEVIN BLACK

We have received widespread reports of brown lesions on upper soybean leaves. From these descriptions, and from images submitted, it looks like bacterial leaf diseases are common again this year. Bacterial disease infection in soybeans is usually brought about when storms beat the soybean foliage and splash soil up onto the leaves. Once infection is initiated, further infection may occur with each storm or with any physical contact from plant to plant. In soybeans, the two principal bacterial diseases that we encounter are bacterial blight and bacterial pustule. The one most often reported this year appears to be bacterial blight. In addition to the typical small brown spots on upper leaves, symptoms of bacterial blight (vs. bacterial pustule) include absence of pustules, water-soaked appearance of young lesions, and tattering of top leaves. These diseases tend to appear first on the tops of soybean plants, even though bacteria are probably uniformly spread over the plant at

the time of infection. Bacteria infect the plant through wounds or leaf pores or stomates. When identifying bacterial diseases in soybeans, note small yellow spots that quickly become brown and angular in shape because of leaf veins. These small lesions usually are surrounded by yellow haloes, easily seen when holding the infected leaf up to the light. With bacterial pustule, the lesions usually remain small and pustules develop within the lesion. With bacterial blight, lesions often coalesce, or enlarge, and ripping or tattering of the leaf is common. Both soybean bacterial diseases have the risk of being confused with soybean rust or with Septoria brown spot. Rust pustules do not develop yellow haloes and release tan spores from pores, instead of splitting open to release the bacteria. Leaf tattering is uncommon with rust. Septoria brown spot starts on lower leaves and gradually moves up the plant. The disease rarely leaps all the way from bottom to top leaves. Kevin Black is GROWMARK‘s insect and plant disease technical manager. His e-mail address is kblack@growmark.com.


FarmWeek Page 9 Monday, August 10, 2009

COMMODITIES ACRE deadline Friday

Economist: Chewing on ACRE? Crunch new numbers

BY MARTIN ROSS FarmWeek

Producers who’ve waited this long to roll the dice on the average crop revenue election (ACRE) might as well wait until fresh yield estimates roll in Wednesday, Kansas State University ag economist Art Barnaby advised last week. Recent corn and soybean price rallies have cast some doubt on projected 11th-hour signup for the 2009 ACRE program. Illinois soybean prices have risen well above ACRE national price payment triggers, while corn last week was hovering near the point of no payment. Friday is the deadline for ACRE enrollment. Under ACRE, growers are eligible for revenue coverage equaling 90 percent of a two-year national average guarantee price times a “benchmark” state yield factoring average yield per planted acre of each commodity over the previous five years, dropping high and low yields. While countercyclical payments wouldn’t trigger under current prices, ACRE enrollment requires sacrificing 20 percent of annual farm direct payments through 2012. Thus, the rally has producers — and their bankers — eyeing the ACRE risk/benefit equation.

IFB President Nelson schedules regional ‘farm talk’ meetings Illinois Farm Bureau President Philip Nelson has scheduled regional “farm talk” meetings this month and next throughout the state. The first meeting will begin at 11 a.m. Monday, Aug. 24, at the VFW Hall, 1200 E. Jefferson, Macomb. The second that day will begin at 6 p.m. at Wise Guy’s Bar & Grill, 2205 N. Main, Princeton. At 11 a.m. Tuesday, Aug. 25, he will be at the Round Barn Banquet Center, 1900 Round Barn Rd., Champaign. At 6 p.m., he will be at Joliet Junior College, Weitendorf Ag Ed Center, 17840 W. Laraway Rd., Joliet. At 9:30 a.m. on Thursday, Sept. 3, he will be at the Holiday Motel, 1300 West Rd., Olney; and at 2:30 p.m., he will meet with members at the DuQuoin State Fairgrounds, Southern Illinois Center Lobby, DuQuoin. Members may register by contacting their county Farm Bureau or the IFB president’s office at 1-800-676-3217.

While he offered a few ACRE near-certainties — Colorado wheat growers are unlikely to collect payments for 2009, while Oklahoma wheat producers should collect “the maximum” — Barnaby acknowledged continued uncertainty about corn and soybean prices and ACRE payment prospects. However, USDA‘s yield estimate report this Wednesday “could really change the outlook for possible ACRE payments.” “Bottom line on corn and soybeans, I’d look at the Aug. 12 numbers,” Barnaby told FarmWeek. “If it’s below average, I’d seriously consider

(ACRE) unless you’re really bullish on prices. “Essentially, this is a put option on state revenue. If

‘Bottom line on cor n and soyb e a n s , I ’d l o o k at the Aug. 12 numbers.’ — Art Barnaby Kansas State ag economist

you’re showing a payment, then that means your option’s in the money but your ‘premi-

um’ cost doesn’t change. “That sort of tells you it’s a good buy, if it’s in the money. If it’s out of the money — you’re not showing a payment — the premium’s still the same at 20 percent of your direct payment, but there’s less chance of collecting.” In addition, Barnaby stressed ACRE participants also must fall below individual farm-level yield benchmarks to receive a state-triggered payment. Producers must be able to document a five-year “Olympic average” yield, dropping high and low years, and thus 2009 harvest projections provide the crucial third component in

ACRE payment forecasts. In wheat, annual pricing is “heavily weighted on the front end,” with the first three months of the marketing year representing 40-50 percent of final average price, Barnaby said. However, he noted October, November, and January prices weigh more heavily than July prices in determining final corn prices. Illinois Farm Bureau risk management specialist Doug Yoder meanwhile cautions “current market conditions can change numerous times.” “In fact, the clock hasn’t even started yet — 2009 crop year average price starts September 1,” Yoder said.


FarmWeek Page 10 Monday, August 10, 2009

CONSERVATION

Illinois southwest bluffs tapped as NRCS’ first cooperative project BY KAY SHIPMAN FarmWeek

A bluff-karst area in Southwestern Illinois is the state’s first Cooperative Conservation Partnership Initiative through USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS). Land within a 120,000-acre area in Monroe, St. Clair, and Randolph counties was selected for the conservation project, according to NRCS State Conservationist Bill Gradle. That area is part of the state’s hill prairie corridorkarst sink hole plain. NRCS will work with the Clifftop (Conserving Lands In Farm, Forest,

Talus (a steep slope) Or Prairie) Alliance, which was formed in 2006 by local landowners in Monroe and Randolph counties {www.clifftopalliance.org}. Currently, 5,000 area acres already are involved in conservation and stewardship activities. The new project will provide landowners financial and technical assistance to plan, install protection measures, and restore an additional 2,500 acres. Wayne Johanning, Monroe County district conservationist, explained that farmers and landowners in the eligible

area may use programs such as the Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP) and the Wildlife Habitat Incentive Program (WHIP) to obtain funding for conservation and management practices, especially forestry management. “We’re seeing a severe problem with bush honeysuckle, an invasive species that is taking over,” Johanning said. NRCS and Clifftop will help identify and address other critical conservation issues and problems in the area. For project’s first year, NRCS funding and matching contributions from

partners will total about $200,000. If funding is available over four years, NRCS plans to provide $750,000 in technical and financial assistance, while Clifftop will offer matching funding and in-kind services worth more than $700,000. The program is limited to landowners and farmers within the bluff corridor and adjacent sinkhole area in the three counties, according to Johanning. For more information about the project, contact the NRCS offices in Monroe, Randolph, or St. Clair counties or go online to {www.il.nrcs.usda.gov}.

FSA offers new options for Farmable Wetlands Program Illinois farmers and landowners have a couple of new options as part of USDA’s Farmable Wetlands Program (FWP) administered by the Farm Service Agency (FSA). Two new practices in the farm bill would work well in Illinois, according to Don King, Illinois FSA conservation chief. The FWP is a voluntary program that is part of the Conservation Reserve Program (CRP). Farmers and landowners may sign up on a continuous basis for FWP contracts of 10

to 15 years. They receive annual payments, incentive payments, and cost-share funding for installing necessary practices. One new practice, constructed wetlands, allows land that has been farmed to be converted into a wetland. “This practice is one of the first CRP practices to allow part of the ground to be farmable and cost-share to put in a practice (in which) the ground would not be farmed,” King said. The other practice suitable for Illinois is a flooded prairie

wetland practice, according to King. Under that practice, land that had been farmed would be restored to wetland hydrology that existed previously.

Overall, Illinois enrollment is limited to 5,000 acres, and 900 already are in the program, King noted. A producer may enroll multiple wetlands and associated

buffers as long as the total acreage is not more than 40 acres. FSA offices have more details on the program. — Kay Shipman

Illinois groups receive rural development funds Two Illinois organizations are among 145 nationwide selected to receive grants to start or expand businesses in rural communities. U.S. Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack recently announced the awarding of more than $15.3 million in grants through USDA Rural Development. The Southern Illinois Stimulus Corp., which promotes economic development in Alexander, Pulaski, and Johnson counties, will use $79,650 to buy equipment that it will lease to River Bend Rice. That business will be headquartered in Cairo in Alexander County. River Bend Rice specializes in producing high-quality rice and soybean seed for mid-South producers. The new equipment

will increase seed-cleaning capacity and improve sales opportunities. The low-cost lease will make it possible for the company with its eight employees to stay in Southern Illinois. The Lena Economic Development Corp. in Stephenson County will use a $99,000 grant to establish a revolving loan fund to help small businesses.

The non-profit corporation was formed last year to advance the economic and cultural growth of the village and the surrounding area. The grant will support the development of small and emerging businesses in the area and help the community expand its local business base. The grant is expected to help the organization create or save 31 local jobs.

Drainage water demonstration set A demonstration field day of drainage water management techniques will be Thursday, Aug. 27, at the Hume Community Center at Hume in Edgar County. The program will begin at 9 a.m. at the community center,

GOLFING FOR AITC

LaSalle County Farm Bureau (LCFB) conducted its annual golf outing recently, with proceeds going to benefit the Ag in the Classroom program. Participants included, from left, Don Walter; state Rep. Linda Chapa LaVia (D-Aurora), who with former Bears football star Dennis McKinnon served as honorary cochairman of the event; Monty Whipple, president of LCFB; and Darren Walter, LCFB vice president. Chapa LaVia is LCFB’s adopted legislator. Also attending was state Rep. Frank Mautino (D-Spring Valley). (Photo by Jeff Hartman, LCFB manager)

then move to a field site with drainage control structures. There is no registration fee, but anyone planning to attend should call in advance to reserve a meal. The program will include presentations on the effects of drainage intensity, yield and water quality effects from drainage water management, reducing nitrate with subsurface bioreactors, and designs for submerged outlet flow. The activity is sponsored by the Agricultural Drainage Management Coalition (ADMC). The coalition includes scientists with USDA’s Agricultural Research Service; Cooperative State Agriculture Research, Education, and Extension Service; and the Natural Resources Conservation Service. Managing water levels in crop fields with gated control structures and patterned tile systems offers a variety of benefits, according to Leonard Binstock, ADMC executive director. For more information about the field day and to reserve a meal or for details on ag drainage water management, contact Binstock at 507451-0073 or go online to {www.admcoalition.com}.


FarmWeek Page 11 Monday, August 10, 2009

GLOBAL AG

AFRICA: OPPORTUNITIES, OBSTACLES, OPTIMISM

BY MARTIN ROSS FarmWeek

African government leaders must make tough decisions to bring their continent out of poverty and eventually into the world trade community, global analysts agree. Gregory Traxler, senior program officer with The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, feels 6 percent annual growth in African ag productivity is possible but requires making agriculture an investment priority. The Gates Foundation is focusing on development in Sub-Saharan Africa, and has partnered in Basic Research to Enable Agricultural Development (BREAD), a competitive award program for innovative projects that address constraints to “smallholder” producers in the developing world. Africa “could be much, much more productive,” University of Illinois economist Bob Thompson argues.

Despite relatively plentiful arable land, only 4 percent of African crops are irrigated, and growers have inadequate access to inputs. However, while the majority in most African nations is rural, Thompson noted, “the political clout is all in the cities,” with subsidies for urban consumers vastly outweighing those for producers. To Traxler, the highest “payoffs” for African investment lie in rural education, ag research and development, infrastructure, and availability of reasonably priced fertilizers and other inputs for farmers. “And it’s things like … getting a policy environment that doesn’t discriminate against farmers,” he told FarmWeek. “The agricultural sector

Radio rocks Uganda’s farm ‘smallholders’ Elijah Kyamuwendo notes Uganda’s “troubled past,” but reports his nation’s farmers today are “on a very good path.” And although funding for producer training and development remains tight, Uganda literally is developing creative channels to ensure its producers will be on the same wavelength with ag experts. Kyamuwendo is chief executive officer with Kulika Uganda, a charitable trust aimed at fostering community development and education. He said the Ugandan government is providing a good environment for ag development, with an emphasis on road and rail improvements that connect “smallholder” farmers with markets. At the same time, Kulika Uganda is helping revive an ag cooperative system to help producers “to benefit from economies of scale” and improve credit options. Ugandan farmers are studying sustainable ways of improving productivity to feed a population that is growing at a rapid 3.2 percent annual rate, Kyamuwendo told FarmWeek during a recent International Farm Management Congress in Normal.

And, mindful of growing constraints on Sub-Saharan water supplies and the potential impact of future climate change on Africa, Kyamuwendo and others are focusing on “harvesting and harnessing” local water resources. Irrigation is costly, and biomass mulches are being used to build soil water retention. Tight economics also have spawned innovation in producer education, Kyamuwendo reported. Given the farmers’ general inability to pay for Extension services, Uganda has honed in on “farmer-to-farmer training” and affordable ag information through the nation’s growing system of FM radio stations. “In 1986, we had three stations,” Kyamuwendo noted. “Today, we have 161 radio stations in local communities. Ag information is easily translated and communicated to communities in their own languages. “People have smaller radios, in their gardens, in their kitchens. They have an opportunity to call in and ask questions.” Uganda produces coffee, cotton, sesame, bananas, corn, millet, sorghum, and a range of vegetables. — Martin Ross

shouldn’t be taxed. It should receive fair prices for outputs, and it should have access to inputs and distribution systems for inputs that allow them to become more productive. “We’re asking for government officials and policymakers to make some tough calls. In fact, if you invest more in agriculture, you’re investing less in something else.“ The potential U.S. payoff is export opportunity. Thompson argued trade is “a powerful engine of economic growth” that likely would translate into demand for imported protein, feedstuffs, and value-added goods. Thompson said Kenyan producers are forced to pay as much as 500 percent of world fertilizer prices because of poor roads and purported payoffs to bring in supplies. In some cases, producers must shoulder the cost of fertilizer sales taxes on top of government-imposed input import duties, Traxler said. Thompson faults the U.S. and others for Africa’s lagging progress. He suggested an abundance of food aid has “let (African) governments off the hook” in terms of encouraging new ag investment.

African farmers benefit from ‘creative channels’ Monsanto director of global development partnership Natalie Dinicola helps generate “creative market channels” and sustainable economics for small farmers across the globe. Commercial fertilizers and seed “can definitely turn around (farmers’) livelihoods,” Dinicola maintained. But African producers won’t see sustained benefits “unless you close all the other parts of the loop.” “Usually, in order to get access to inputs, they need to have access to credit, because they have very little capital to work with,” she told FarmWeek. “They’re usually too risky for banks to work with on an individual basis. “If they’re able to get access to inputs, they’re able to get the right kind of Extension and training for using those inputs correctly, they get good weather, and they get a good surplus, but if they don’t have either a storage system for their surplus or some way to get it into a market, that doesn’t do them any good in the long run.” Dinicola and company network with regional banks to determine how farmers can become creditworthy and with insurance companies that can help growers manage risks. She coordinates with non-profit groups to organize area producers, identify potential sources of farm finance, and collectively educate producers in sound credit management. At the same time, she focuses simultaneously on Extension and other resources to instruct producers in input use and on finding markets for their crops. Malawi’s development from a food-aid recipient to a relatively self-sufficient nation is one of Dinicola’s favorite African success stories. Malawi President Bingu wa Mutharika, an economist, consulted with the seed industry to ensure availability of adequate supplies and provided vouchers that helped small producers buy quality seed. “The farmers overwhelmingly chose hybrid seed over (traditional) open-pollinated varieties, and using that with fertilizer, were able to get bumper crops,” Dinicola related. — Martin Ross


FarmWeek Page 12 Monday, August 10, 2009

FROM THE COUNTIES

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UREAU — Farm Bureau will host a three-part marketing seminar Thursday and on Aug. 20 and Sept. 10 at the Farm Bureau office. Call the Farm Bureau office at 815-8756468 to register. OOK — Farm Bureau will sponsor a “Farm Bureau White Sox Night” vs. the Minnesota Twins Wednesday, Sept. 23, at U.S. Cellular Field. Tickets are $17. Call 866-7694263 or go online at {whitesox.com} and click on the “T” in the Sept. 23 box. Enter code “CCFB” in the special promotions box. EWITT — The annual meeting will begin with registration at 6 p.m. Monday, Aug. 24, at

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Clinton High School. Dinner will be served at 6:30 p.m. Cost is $5 and tickets are available from Farm Bureau directors or the office. • The Farm Bureau Foundation will hold a golf outing fundraiser Friday, Aug. 28, at the Clinton Country Club. Lunch will be at 11:30 a.m. with tee times at 12:30 p.m. Cost is $75 for golfers. Dinner-only tickets are $25. Tickets are available from Farm Bureau directors or the office. ORD-IROQUOIS — Farm Bureau will sponsor a commodity price outlook meeting at 7 p.m. Tuesday, Aug. 18, at the Farm Bureau in Gilman. Dave Dickey, director of

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agricultural programming at WILL-AM 580, will lead a panel discussion on what could happen to grain prices this summer and fall. Call the Farm Bureau office for more information. ANCOCK — WestCentral FS and the HCFB Marketing Committee will hold a biodiesel and ethanol promotion at the Fuel 24 station west of Carthage from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. Wednesday, Aug. 19. The biofuels will be discounted significantly, and free hot dogs, chips, and soda will be served to customers. ENRY — The Henry County Marketing Seminar series will continue Monday, Aug. 31, at 6:30

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p.m. at Glory Days, Geneseo. Featured speaker will be Rob Huston of AgriVisor. This is the third of four seminars. Cost is $18 with a buffet supper included. Reservations are required. To register, contact the Farm Bureau office at 309-9372411 or the Extension office at 309-853-1533. • Farm Bureau and HenryStark Extension will offer “Annie’s Project-Education for Farm Women.“ The fivesession course will be held on Monday and Wednesday evenings Aug. 24, 26, 31, and Sept. 2 and 9 from 6:30 to 9 p.m. at the Black Hawk East Community Education Center in Kewanee. The registration fee for the program is $50, which covers all five sessions, materials, and presentation. For further information, contact the HenryStark Extension office at 309-853-1533 or the Farm Bureau office at 309-9372411. NOX — Signup is under way for a defensive driving class Wednesday and Thursday Aug. 19 and 20 from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. at the Knox Agri Center. A fee of $15 includes lunch on both days. Those completing the course are eligible for an auto insurance discount. Contact the Farm Bureau office at 309342-2036 to register. • John McGillicudy will present a session on agronomy from noon to 3:45 p.m. Friday, Aug. 21, the Riverland FS facility. Call the Farm Bureau office at 3422036 or go to {www.knoxcfb.org} for more information. • Farm Bureau along with Warren-Henderson, Fulton, and McDonough counties will sponsor a local government conference series Wednesday, Aug. 26, at Café Aroma in Macomb. Lunch will be served at 12:30 p.m. followed by the program at 1 p.m. • Kevin Rund, Illinois Farm Bureau senior director of local government, will present an “On the Road” program at 7 p.m. Monday, Aug. 31. Rund will recap key trucking laws and answer questions. Contact the Farm Bureau office at 342-2036 to register. ASALLE — Farm Bureau, along with Will, Grundy, and Kendall Farm Bureaus, is sponsoring a bus trip to the Farm Progress Show in Decatur Sept. 2. Cost is $33 per person, which includes the bus ride and show admission. Dinner will be at the Home Town Buffet for $12.50 per

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person. Availability is first come, first served. Call the office at 815-433-0371 for reservations. • A fundraiser for the LaSalle County 4-H and Junior tractor pull will be held Sept. 4. No advance tickets will be sold. Food and drink will be available at the 4-H Federation stand. Call the Farm Bureau office at 815-433-0371 for more information. EE — Lee and Whiteside County Farm Bureaus and Country Financial agents will sponsor a bus trip Tuesday, Sept. 1, to the Farm Progress Show, Decatur. Cost is $25. Call the Farm Bureau office at 815-857-3531 or email leecfb@comcast.net for reservations or more information. • The District 4 meeting and regional farm talk with Illinois Farm Bureau President Philip Nelson will be at 6 p.m. Monday, Aug. 24, at Wise Guy’s Bar and Grill in Princeton. Call the Farm Bureau office at 815-8573531 or e-mail leecfb@comcast.net for reservations. • The Farm Bureau has launched a new website. Check out the {www.leecfb.org} to get the latest news and events from the Lee County Farm Bureau. • Farm Bureau, University of Illinois Extension, and the Amboy Fire Department are sponsoring a family friendly farm safety program at 1 p.m. Sunday, Aug. 23, at the Lee 4-H Center and Fairgrounds. The event is free, but advanced registration is required. Contact the Farm Bureau at 815-857-3531 or leecfb@comcast.net for more information. ACON — The Macon County Solid Waste Department is sponsoring a jug drop-off day at the Maroa FS plant Friday. Jugs must be triple rinsed. Anyone dropping off jugs must remain on site until the container is approved for drop-off. • The Young Farmers Committee is sponsoring a bus trip to the Twin Groves Wind Farm near Bloomington Friday. Bus will depart the Farm Bureau at 7 a.m. and return by noon. Space is limited and reservations are required. Call the Farm Bureau office at 877-2436 for reservations.

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


FarmWeek Page 13 Monday, August 10, 2009

GROWMARK

GROWMARK goal: deliver product where, when needed BY KAREN JONES A business can thrive only if it is able to provide customers with the products and services they need, when they need them. GROWMARK’s logistics division is charged with ensuring all FS member cooperatives can provide their customers with the necessary inputs at the right time. “It’s become a global supply chain,” said Bill Taft, GROWMARK logistics division manag-

State, industry leaders request pork assistance BY DANIEL GRANT FarmWeek A request for immediate assistance to the ailing pork industry was sent last week to the Obama administration. Governors from eight states, including Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn, at the urging of pork industry leaders, signed a letter calling for the federal government to purchase $50 million of pork for government feeding programs, the removal of a spending cap on government purchases of nonprogram commodities, and efforts to reopen key export markets, China in particular. Copies of the letter were sent to President Obama, USDA, and the U.S. Trade Representative’s office. The effort was spearheaded by Iowa Gov. Chet Culver, whose state is the nation’s top producer and exporter of pork. “It’s important to help our nation’s pork producers get through this economic downturn,” Culver said during a teleconference Friday. The average pork producer in the U.S. has lost about $21 for every animal marketed since September 2007, according to Neil Dierks, CEO of the National Pork Producers Council. The industry since that time has lost an estimated $4.5 billion. “It’s an unprecedented time for pork producers,” said Steve Meyer, president of Paragon Economics. “2008 was the second-worst financial year in history, but, ironically, (those losses) occurred in a year in which prices received for pigs were the thirdhighest in history.” The primary reason for the ongoing equity drain is extremely high production costs, Meyer noted. The situation worsened this spring when the outbreak of the H1N1 flu cut into domestic pork demand and exports even though the virus is not transmitted through pork products. Futures market revenues, since the H1N1 flu was mislabeled swine flu in April, had declined by an estimated $636 million as of last week, Meyer reported. “A number of markets stopped shipments of U.S. pork products post H1N1,” Dierks said. “Fortunately, the bulk of those closures have gone away. The one significant market with restrictions still in place is China.”

er. “We work to move products in the best way possible from the vendor to the customer, at the least possible cost.” A variety of transportation options is used to accomplish that goal. More than 100,000 truckloads of fuel, LP-gas, anhydrous ammonia, and dry cargo are arranged by GROWMARK each year. “We own more than 500 trailers, and that allows us to control shipments and put our focus on customer service,” Taft said. The traffic department also coordinated more than 1 million tons of rail and barge fertilizer shipments last year, along with shipments of salt and soy biodiesel. To improve efficiency, most bulk product shipments are

received into two warehouses — one in Alpha, Ill. and the other in Kitchener, Ontario. From there, the products are distributed to member cooperatives on regular route loads. The Alpha Distribution Center, built in 1980 and pictured at right, has 5.5 acres of warehouse space under one roof. More than 6,500 individual products are in the center’s inventory, including agricultural chemicals, seed, lubricants, grain systems, automotive supplies, livestock equipment, paint, and pet food. The facility also has turf seed blending and bagging equipment. In-season delivery service is available to more than 175 locations in Illinois, Iowa, and Wisconsin. “Normally during the year, we deliver to each member company

GROWMARK’S distribution center at Alpha.

one, three, or six times a week, depending on the season,” said Bob Miller, GROWMARK supply chain manager of packaged goods. “With the unusual spring this year, we decided to try a flexible delivery system in which members could place an order and receive their items the next day.” The “you call, we haul” system was well received and studies are

under way to determine if it should continue. GROWMARK dispatchers created optimized route loads each day to ensure the most efficient routing to each FS member company so they could best serve their farmer-owners. Karen Jones is GROWMARK’s publications and news specialist. Her email address is kjones@growmark.com.


FarmWeek Page 14 Monday, August 10, 2009

PROFITABILITY

What intellectual property means to you BY PETE TROTTER

You may have heard others talk about intellectual property (IP) and wondered what they meant. IP law protects things that we create with our minds and typically gives the holder of an IP right the ability to exclude others from sellPete Trotter ing, using, or otherwise taking advantage of that right. IP rights are limited geographically, and obligations of the law of the United States or another jurisdiction could apply in a given situation. IP owned by one person can be transferred to or shared with another person

through the use of licenses and other contracts. You want to protect the rights in IP which you own, and you may be contractually obligated to protect IP owned by others. Litigation to enforce IP rights can lead to various remedies, including money damages, injunctive relief, and attorneys’ fees. Three major types of IP include patents, trademarks, and copyrights. Patents are IP rights which protect inventions, including new processes and methods. Patent rights are established by filing a patent application with the U.S. Patent & Trademark Office. Federal patent protection exchanges full disclosure of the patented material for protection for up to 20 years.

Trademarks are IP rights which distinguish products and services of one company from those of others. Trademarks are symbols of product value and quality, and trademark law gives the owner of a trademark the exclusive right to use the trademark for specific products or services in a particular territory. Trademark rights are creat-

ed as soon as the trademark is used, and filing with the U.S. Patent & Trademark Office can enhance existing rights. Trademark protection requires ongoing maintenance and lasts for 10 years, plus available renewals. Copyrights are IP rights protecting original works which have been created and fixed in a tangible medium of expression. Once copyrighted

material has been created and fixed, it exists without any requirement of registration or any other action by the copyright owner. Copyright protection may be enhanced by registration with the U.S. Copyright Office. Most copyrights last for the life of the author, plus 70 years. Members of the GROWMARK System come into contact with or use valuable IP rights which have been developed within the GROWMARK System over many years. Assistance with use and protection of these IP rights is available from GROWMARK. Pete Trotter is GROWMARK’s assistant general counsel and privacy officer. His e-mail address is ptrotter@growmark.com

Is it a buyers’ market for agricultural equipment? BY DANIEL GRANT FarmWeek

Most farmers probably are well aware of the federal government’s highly publicized cash-for-clunkers program that may be used to trade in an old pickup truck or car. But many farmers may not realize some key tax incentives that apply to farm equipment purchases may end after this year. Plus, a number of retailers are offering rebates and discounts to revitalize the equipment market during its current downturn.

The result is what appears to be a buyers’ market for many farmers who are interested in upgrading their equipment, according to Neil Harl, emeritus professor of ag economics at Iowa State University. “For those in good financial position, this is a good time to take a close look at expenditures you want to make,” Harl told FarmWeek. “There are more incentives to buy equipment than a lot of people realize. It isn’t just for automobiles, which are getting all the attention.” Expense method deprecia-

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 $8.00-$32.77 $25.21 $16.00-$26.50 $17.94 n/a n/a This Week Last Week 18,510 25,895 *Eastern Corn Belt prices picked up at seller’s farm

Eastern Corn Belt direct hogs (plant delivered) Carcass Live

(Prices $ per hundredweight) This week Prev. week $46.84 $52.40 $34.66 $38.78

Change -5.56 -4.11

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

This week 81.02 80.99

Prv. week 82.00 81.50

Change -0.98 -0.51

Lamb prices Confirmed lamb and sheep sales This week 732 Last week 679 Last year 806 Wooled Slaughter Lambs: Choice and Prime 2-3: 90-110 lbs, $98; 110-130 lbs., $93.00. Good and Choice 1-2: 60-90 lbs., $105. Slaughter Ewes: Utility and Good 1-3: $25-$28. Cull and Utility 1-2: $25.

Export inspections (Million bushels)

Week ending Soybeans Wheat 07-30-09 4.6 13.5 07-23-09 9.1 12.5 Last year 10.2 29.8 Season total 1186.0 116.2 Previous season total 1079.2 196.4 USDA projected total 1210 980 Crop marketing year began June 1 for wheat and Sept. 1 for corn and soybeans.

Corn 47.3 54.7 35.1 1600.7 2177.6 1700

tion, for instance, is available for new and used items and is set at $250,000 through the end of this year. It is scheduled to decrease to $133,000 after 2009. “That’s quite a lot of money you can write off ” this year for the purchase of everything from farm machinery to tile lines, fences, and grain bins, Harl said. Meanwhile, 50 percent bonus depreciation is available on new property, which includes farm buildings, machinery, and equipment. Those interested in upgrading their equipment “should talk to their accountant soon,” Harl said. The new property has to be placed in service in 2009 to be eligible for the current tax incentives. Overall, sales of new ag equipment have declined since last year. The Association of Equipment Manufacturers (AEM) reported last month total sales of new farm tractors the first half of 2009 declined 21.6 percent compared to the same time last year. “Sales of smaller horsepower tractors have followed the economy very closely and (subsequently) have been negative throughout the year,” said Charlie O’Brien, vice president of agricultural services for AEM. “But higher horsepower tractors and combines continue to be selling quite well (see graphic),” O’Brien said. “Part of it was demand created last year (prior to the economic downturn) when we had higher commodity prices.”

But even four-wheel-drive tractor sales that were up 5.7 percent the first six months of the year slipped 4.4 percent in June compared to last year. “Over the past couple months, we’ve seen some of the optimism come out of the marketplace,” O’Brien said.

Harl predicted the chances of a “quick turnaround” to the current economic recession are slim. He believes many consumers may be more conservative with their spending and consumer spending accounts for about two-thirds of the economy, he noted.

Fungus tapped to take on kudzu Kudzu, an invasive weed, may meet its match in a naturally occurring fungus that USDA Agricultural Research Service (ARS) scientists have formulated as a biologically based herbicide. By one estimate, kudzu spreads at the rate of 150,000 acres annually, easily outpacing the use of herbicide spraying and mowing, as well increasing the costs of these controls by $6 million annually. But in Stoneville, Miss., ARS plant pathologist Doug Boyette and colleagues are testing a fungus which infects kudzu with astonishing speed. In fact, the fungus works so quickly that kudzu plants sprayed with it in the morning start showing signs of damage by mid-afternoon, according to Boyette. In greenhouse experiments, spray formulations killed 100 percent of kudzu seedlings and 90 to 100 percent of older plants in outdoor trials. The fungus also worked under a wide range of conditions, including the absence of dew. Additionally, tests in 2005 showed the fungus caused little or no injury to many of the woody plants known to occur in kudzu-infested habitats, including oak, cedar, pine, hickory, pecan, sassafras, and blackberry. A few commercial companies have expressed interest in the fungus, but only if its production of toxins can be reduced or stopped. Boyette’s group examined several approaches, settling on a method that put the fungus in a fermenter on a liquid diet instead of a solid one. Not only did this stop toxin production or reduce it to acceptable levels, the method also extended the fungus’ shelf life and potency under field conditions.


FarmWeek Page 15 Monday, August 10, 2009

PROFITABILITY Corn Strategy

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

Cents per bu.

✓2008 crop: Prices surpassed our target on December futures at $3.50 to price remaining old-crop. If you failed to pull the trigger, use rallies to get caught up. Given price expectations, it’s unlikely to pay to store corn commercially into next year, unless a frost/freeze cuts output significantly. ✓2009 crop: Recent action confirmed the trend for the seven-week cycle to turn up, but the downward pull of the 20-week cycle due in early September may have already caused it to peak. The rally was too short lived to recommend a sale except via the hotline. Prices should drift lower into an early September low, but major downside price risk appears limited. Use rallies into the $3.40s on December to make needed harvest sales, but plan to hold remaining bushels until after harvest. ❖Fundamentals: A temporary warm-up is expected, but is not going to last long enough to do any damage. The development lag, though, could keep yields from achieving some expectations.

Soybean Strategy

Soybean export sales exceptional This year’s accumulation of soybean export sales has been nothing short of extraordinary. The 355 million bushels is one-third to one-

Basis charts

fourth of a normal year’s export shipments, and we haven’t even started the new crop year yet. Reports out of Brazil and Argentina suggest they have only a few weeks of supplies yet to ship before their soybean export programs end. That leaves the U.S. as virtually the only supplier until South American crops become available again next spring. Corn sales are a little lower than the last couple of years, but are still ahead of every other year since 1996. That implies buyers see corn prices representing good value. It also hints the current USDA forecast is a reasonable one at this time. Wheat sales are the bigger drag, but buying interest has accelerated in recent weeks, especially when Chicago wheat futures drop near $5. AgriVisor endorses crop insurance by

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✓2008 crop: Old-crop basis levels firmed a little this past week, but they eventually will come together with newcrop levels. Unless you are comfortable with the risk, there’s no economic justification for holding old crop into the new marketing year. Use November futures rallies toward $11 for catch-up sales. ✓2009 crop: Use rallies to $10.90 on November futures for needed harvest and/or catch-up sales. Potential fundamentals are price-positive, but significantly higher prices will depend heavily on production falling enough to keep stocks tight. Keep close contact with the Cash Strategist Hotline; we may recommend a sale at any time. ❖Fundamentals: The large new-crop export sales all but ensure an aggressive fall shipping campaign. Sources indicate Brazil and Argentina have little left to ship, leaving fall/winter business mostly to

the U.S. India’s monsoon problem could boost soybean meal shipments to Asia, too.

Wheat Strategy ✓2009 crop: Following the brief surge, the short-term trend turned down again. However, since the beginning of the year, speculative and commercial buying at $5 has stopped declines. Continue to hold off additional sales; better pricing opportunities should come this fall or winter. If your sales lag recommendations, use rallies near $5.50 on Chicago September for catch-up sales.

❖Fundamentals: The fundamental structure of the wheat complex has changed very little in recent weeks. However, the trade is starting to note conditions in Australia and Argentina. Both are expected to remain dry through late August, potentially cutting into production and exports. Weather is cutting into Russian, Ukrainian, and other Eastern European output, removing some of the competition that undercut demand for U.S. wheat this past year.


FarmWeek Page 16 Monday, August 10, 2009

PERSPECTIVES

LOCAL FOODS How do we determine if it’s local? A pork tenderloin was something unfamiliar to me until my cousin introduced me to it several years ago as we drove back to Macomb from the Peoria Airport. My daughter-in-law revealed to me the gastronomic, if not healthy, delights of a horseshoe during a visit to Springfield. And of course, there is the WestCentral Illinois favorite — burgoo. Arenzville in Cass County proclaims itself the home of the world’s best burgoo. WILLIAM It would be tough to get a horseBAILEY shoe in Seattle or burgoo in Paris. These are regional foods and might even be considered, perhaps, local foods. But it was something from Kewanee in Henry County that really caught my attention and made me ask the question, “How local are local foods?” A definition of a local food is as elusive as local foods often are. Some, such as promoters of the 100mile diet, have defined a local food as something that has been grown within a certain geographical radius. Another definition is local foods represent a close relationship between the consumer and the producer, with a limited role for the processors that normally stand between the two ends of the food chain. To me, the challenge of defining local foods was

highlighted with a product from Kewanee — coffee. While I may be wrong, I really don’t believe there is much, if any, coffee grown around Kewanee, or even within a 100-mile radius. Yet the coffee from Country Morning Coffee, in my humble opinion, could easily be considered a local food. The coffee beans used by Country Morning Coffee are imported from 35 countries at last count. Once the foreign beans arrive in Kewanee, they become locals. The future of those beans depends on the efforts of people at Country Morning Coffee. The beans are roasted, blended, and packaged in Kewanee with the company’s owner writing on each bag. The company’s slogan is “Roasted Fresh in the Rural Midwest.” Other than some furniture purchased at a major furniture store there, I had never purchased something from Kewanee— until I tried this coffee. It was great, and when it comes to coffee, I am a tough customer. And, as a local food supporter, I will buy it again. Unlike the major food company that makes Bear

Naked cereals, whose employees really did not want to talk to me about their products, or Wal-Mart, whose associates were happy to talk but disliked answering questions, it is possible to talk directly with the owners of Country Morning Coffee. In fact, I think they would like to talk with you since you could be their next customer. Maybe local foods are simply foods produced by companies that do things locally, whose employees actually like talking with their customers, and, in fact, see many of them every day. William Bailey is director of the School of Agriculture at Western Illinois University, Macomb. His e-mail address is WC-Bailey@wiu.edu.

Cap and trade is death knell for U.S. fertilizer production The Middle East. Russia. South America. China. The Ukraine. Venezuela. These are countries from which we seek independence in terms of our energy needs. PropoJEAN nents of cap PAYNE and trade sell this legislation as a way to lessen our dependence on oil from these countries. But as a citizen of the U.S., are you willing to jeopardize our food security in this endeavor? The fact is, cap and trade will all but ensure that the 55 percent of nitrogen fertilizer that we now import from these very same countries will grow to 100 percent as the vise of the caps, the costs of the trades, and the dash for natural gas force what is left of nitrogen production out of the USA. In the last decade, 26 U.S. ammonia plants have shut down due to the high cost and volatility of natural gas prices. That’s a lot of fertilizer and a lot of lost jobs. Under cap and trade, natur-

al gas prices will escalate rapidly as the utility industries and other manufacturing sectors move away from coal and oilbased sources of energy to meet new environmental mandates. Clean-burning natural gas will be in high demand, and because it accounts for 70-90 percent of the cost of producing ammonia, the demise of nitrogen production in the U.S. is all but certain. The countries mentioned above don’t have high natural gas prices because their governments control the cost of gas, and they have minimal — if any environmental — regulations to add to their cost of production. The administration claims natural gas costs won’t escalate dramatically because we are going to double nuclear energy production by 2035 and increase it 157 percent by 2050. That will require at least 50 new nuclear power plants. Does anyone really believe this will occur? Let’s hope getting a permit to build a nuclear plant is easier than getting a permit to build an ethanol plant, or any other manufacturing plant, for that matter. Developing homegrown energy from ethanol and bio-

mass is laudable, but if we have to import all the nitrogen to grow the crops to produce the ethanol and biomass, we aren’t achieving independence. Fertilizer is a strategic commodity. It will become even more valuable as world population grows. We can depend on imports, but we better hope our supply never gets cut off. Do we want U.S. citizens to be dependent on other countries for the fertilizer that is absolutely necessary to sustain food production here? Cap and trade is fatally flawed policy; it cannot be fixed as far as nitrogen manufacturing goes. The logistics involved in importing so much fertilizer into the Gulf of Mexico is yet another concern, but can be summed up in one word that should give you pause: Hurricane. The fertilizer industry in the U.S. isn’t perfect — it had its moments in 2008 that we’d all like to forget. Nevertheless, it’s still largely our fertilizer industry, our good paying jobs — and our food security. Jean Payne is president of the Illinois Fertilizer & Chemical Association. Her e-mail address is jeanp@ifca.com.

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FarmWeek August 10 2009  

FarmWeek August 10 2009

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