Page 1

T WO S TA T E M U S E U M S have launched an online barn that houses stories of Illinois agriculture’s past, present, and future ......3

WHEN WARREN BUFFETT talks, the economy listens. But is his message about the future of rail encouraging for agriculture? ............4

FA R M E R S L A S T W E E K finally received a significant window of opportunity to get back in the fields and most did. .................8

Monday, November 9, 2009

Two sections Volume 37, No. 45

Economist: Credit crunch could be issue again in 2010 BY DANIEL GRANT FarmWeek

U.S. farmers who had difficulty covering expenses this year may face an even greater challenge in 2010. Danny Klinefelter, Texas A & M Extension economist, believes some farmers could encounter a significant credit crunch next year as operating loans may be more difficult to secure at a time when the cost of doing business is near an all-time high. “We’re on the front end of what I think could be some significant problems in 2010 on the credit side,” Klinefelter said last week during a webinar hosted by the Chicagobased CME Group. “There are going to be foreclosures on the livestock side in 2010 and there could be some problems in the crop sector as well.” Klinefelter believes most lenders have less appetite for risk due to the ongoing economic crisis. In the future, lenders could place more emphasis on the re-payment ability of customers before issuing loans, interest rate spreads could move higher, and risk premiums may increase as well.

Meanwhile, more bank failures and stress on the farm credit system likely will force more mergers of those institutions, the economist said. And demand for operating loan guarantees from the Farm Service Agency (FSA) to manage risk next year could outstrip supply. “We’ve seen a ratcheting up of capital requirements across the board (that has strained resources for producers and lenders),” said Steve Meyer, president of Paragon Economics. “We’ve seen a number of capital suppliers to agriculture that have left this business.” And the timing couldn’t be worse for some producers, particularly those in the livestock industry, who may have to rely on credit to stay afloat. U.S. net farm income is expected to plummet (see graphic on page 7) from $87 billion in 2008 to just $54 billion this year, according to USDA. “If we stay at that (2009 income) level next year (in 2010), we’re going to have some problems,” Klinefelter said. Key indicators of how the financial situation unfolds next year in the ag industry will be

farm income, land values (87 percent of all assets in the ag sector are real estate), and interest rates. Klinefelter predicted interest rates will not increase sig-

nificantly next year — “I don’t think the economic recovery has enough legs under it.” So what strategy will give farmers the best chance to survive the current eco-

nomic crisis? “Risk management is going to determine the winners and losers, particularly as we see volatility pushed down the chain,” Klinefelter added.


Danielle Trahan tests a sample from a load of corn at the Evergreen FS Yuton elevator facility west of Normal. The load of corn tested at 27 percent moisture — a finding that typically would be high but this year is quite common due to the late-maturing crop and extremely wet fall conditions. Elevators around the state have had to slow the intake of grain this harvest and even close early in order to handle the moist crop. Read more about the effects of this year’s harvest delays on page 10. (Photo by Ken Kashian)

Periodicals: Time Valued

Economist: Cap and trade hits ‘few’ but vital sectors Ag-oriented industries high on list BY MARTIN ROSS FarmWeek

A University of California economist last week told an Illinois campus crowd “cap and trade” would have a limited domestic economic impact and would affect relatively few sectors. But as the list of most likely affected sectors emerges, it becomes clear agriculture would absorb much of the hit under pro-

posed climate legislation. Amid concerns about the economic ramifications of Senate-proposed greenhouse emissions caps, Sens. John Kerry (D-Mass.), Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.), and Joe Lieberman (I-Conn.) last week announced work on a compromise measure. Following a panel discussion of climate policy on the University of Illinois’ Urbana campus, U of C-Santa Barbara environmental economist Charles Kolstad told FarmWeek “careful crafting” of current cap-and-trade measures should reduce the impact of proposed greenhouse emis-

FarmWeek on the web:

sions caps on agriculture. Kolstad, who co-authored an Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change report that spurred policy debate, said higher energy/input costs related to climate regulation would be spread over “a broad sector of the agricultural community.” Farmers could largely pass

costs on to consumers, he said, a contention disputed by ag leaders at the event. Only a dozen or so industries would see double- or single-digit annual cost increases related to a $15-per-ton emissions “‘tax’ burden,” Kolstad said. However, lime production topped his list, followed by power generation. According to Illinois Farm Bureau economist Mike Doherty, the later is “the industry whose costs drive many industries’ costs.” Energy accounts for roughly 40 percent of corn producSee Sectors, page 2

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FarmWeek Page 2 Monday, November 9, 2009

Quick Takes REFUGE PROBLEMS? — More farmers are failing to plant required “refuge” plots near fields where GMO Bt corn is grown, potentially increasing the odds of insect resistance to biotech traits, according to a new report by the activist Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI). The report brought an immediate rebuttal from the corn producing industry. Bt varieties accounted for roughly 60 percent of the corn grown in the U.S. in 2008. Under U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) rules, farmers who grow Bt corn must grow a prescribed percentage of adjacent non-Bt varieties to reduce potential insect resistance to biotech varieties. CSPI charged that as much as 15 percent of the country’s corn acreage is out of compliance with refuge requirements. Compliance rates have dropped from around 90 percent in 2003 to 60-80 percent, according to its report. However, the National Corn Growers Association disputed CSPI’s estimate of 13 million non-compliant acres, which “incorrectly assumes that all of these acres were planted in Bt corn, whereas the vast majority were not.” “This may be a perfect target on paper, but it does not give our farmers credit for their substantial compliance,” NCGA President Darrin Ihnen argued. NCGA stressed there have been no reports of Bt resistance in corn-growing areas. BIOMASS AND GAS — A compact gasification pilot plant in Des Plaines was commissioned last week by developer Pratt & Whitney Rocketdyne of Canoga, Calif. The small pilot plant will have the capacity to consume 18 tons of blended feedstock per day. The system will run on coal, petroleum refinery byproducts, and biomass including corn stover and wood chips, and produce “syngas” that can be converted to electricity, liquid fuels, chemicals, or fertilizer. STAY ALERT, BE CAREFUL — Illinois Farm Bureau President Philip Nelson reminded farmers who are “burning the midnight oil” to take care and plan extra breaks during the extended harvest. “We all need to take time out to be alert when harvesting,” Nelson said. Motorists in rural areas also need to be aware that more farmers will be driving equipment, tractors, and wagons on roads after dark, he noted. “Take your time,” Nelson warned drivers. “Don’t try to rush around.”

(ISSN0197-6680) Vol. 37 No. 45 November 9, 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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Resolutions Committee chimes in on health care BY MARTIN ROSS FarmWeek

As congressional debate over health care policy and the controversial “public option” intensified, Illinois Farm Bureau’s Resolutions Committee (RC) last week reviewed alternatives for improving private options. In a special one-day session last week, the RC sorted through 46 county policy submissions covering a wide range of issues including health care. IFB farmer delegates will vote on RC draft proposals at the organization’s Dec. 5-8 annual meeting in Chicago. The RC supported DeWitt County’s concept of “providing health insurance through the marketplace” by allowing consumer “portability” from insurer to insurer and assuring reasonable coverage of pre-existing conditions. On the health services side, the committee proposed legal tort/malpractice reforms to reduce “the practice of defensive medicine” — authorization of additional tests or other potentially costly measures to avert potential lawsuits charging physician negligence. The committee rejected the notion of vouchers to help provide coverage for lower-income consumers and “disastrous” illnesses largely amid concerns about potential federal intervention in the private sector, RC State and Local Government Subcommittee Chairman Roger Hardy reported. Hardy nonetheless cited concerns about current industry policies and practices that can limit producer options for or even access to coverage.

IFB rural health specialist Brenda Matherly argued policy portability “is not as much of an issue as long as you’re perfectly healthy and have no pre-existing conditions.” Even minor pre-existing medical conditions can preclude approval of routine coverage or transferal of policies between carriers, Hardy noted. “If you have allergies and you’re getting injections, if you’re susceptible to migraine headaches or back problems, or it could be as big as cancer — it covers the gamut as far as what they could exclude,” he said. The RC tentatively reinstated a call for tort reform removed following passage of Illinois malpractice legislation that struck additional punitive damages against providers and required peer review of medical cases. However, the Illinois courts are continuing to review some aspects of the act. A U.S. House Republican alternative to a recently unveiled Democrat plan would impose new restrictions on consumer lawsuits against doctors, hospitals, and makers of drugs and medical devices. Under those measures, lawsuits must be filed within three years after an injury became evident and non-economic damages such as “emotional pain and suffering” would be capped at $250,000. The Republican counterproposal also would limit punitive damages and contingency fees that reward plaintiffs’ lawyers for successful resolution of a case.

Sectors Continued from page 1 still “price-takers, not pricebon offsets that include no-till tion costs alone, Doherty notmakers,” in the food market. practices, use of methane ed. Few details of Kerry-Gradigesters, tree planting, and “Obviously, we’re drying ham-Lieberman proposals precision fertilizer application, grain with electricity,” Jackwere available Friday, but all under USDA oversight. sonville grower Roger Hardy American Farm Bureau FedThe Stabenow bill allows stressed. “Our shops operate eration analyst Rick Krause credits for “early actors” who with electricity. I would say said it likely would take a began eligible practices after we have a 10 to 15 percent newly approved Senate Envi2001 and producers already investment in participatelectricity directly, ing in voldepending on the untary proseason. grams such “You start douas the bling that, and a Cli‘This is still going to have an impact on Chicago higher proportion mate agriculture.’ of our expenses Exchange. are going to be Missing electrical. This is are proviRoger Hardy sions that still going to have Jacksonville producer address an impact on agriculture.” consideraState and local tion of utilities, phos“indirect phate fertilizer and industrial ronment Committee plan land use change” (ILUC) thegas production, and corn wet “out of play.” ories in determining the carmilling also would see cost The Senate Environment bon footprint of ethanol and increases under Kolstad’s bill passed amid avid Republi- other renewable fuels. analysis. can protests and a call for House Ag Committee lanEven a 1-2 percent annual economic analysis of capguage would require a fivecost increase can drive U.S. and-trade impacts. year study to determine if industries offshore, where The package would leave ILUC calculations should labor costs are far lower, decisions on eligible emiseven be used by federal reguDoherty warned. sions offsets to the White lators. Further, the Stabenow Hardy disputed the notion House. bill calls for a scientific advithat higher consumer prices A counterproposal introsory board to guide offsets, would offset rising farm duced last week by Sen. Debwhile the House package procosts, as Kolstad suggested, bie Stabenow (D-Mich.) would vides for producer as well as arguing instead producers are establish an initial list of carscientific input.

FarmWeek Page 3 Monday, November 9, 2009


Three-prong approach to ag ed reaping results BY KAY SHIPMAN FarmWeek

Motivated high school students, involved parents, and a supportive community would make any administrator and school board member proud. Agriculture education and FFA are achieving all three goals at Taylorville High School, board members and administrators told state ag education leaders last week when they visited the school. “We’ve been able to show year after year that kids benefit from these (ag) programs,” said

Thomas Campbell, principal of the Christian County school. “Every year I have more students request ag classes than I can fit in their schedules.” Of 960-some students at the school, about 260 take one or more ag classes. Over the years, ag education evolved from a part-time ag/part-time welding teacher to three full-time ag instructors with a mechanics shop, a welding and tool fabrication shop, and a science-oriented classroom with a greenhouse. The school expanded the number

and types of ag-related classes to meet students’ needs and interests. High school students may select classes in agri-sciences and horticulture, agribusiness, ag mechanics and technology, and ag power mechanics. The three teachers, W. Lee Meteer, Sue Schafer, and Matt Beyers,

emphasize hands-on experiences and real-world applications for their subject matters. “It’s important we train students so they can do things for themselves,” Meteer said. However, Taylorville ag students gain more than classroom knowledge through FFA, the administrators and board

members pointed out. They highlighted the students’ leadership experiences and abilities to run meetings, give speeches, and work in teams. “We are very fortunate to have the vo-ag program we have, and we’re proud of it,” said Taylorville Superintendent Greggory Fuerstenau.

Ag educators seek to grow urban ag ed State agriculture education leaders are seeking to develop agriculture education programs in more urban high schools. Last week, ag ed leaders and state FFA officers discussed ideas to include ag curriculum and establish an FFA program at Decatur’s MacArthur High School. During a brief tour, Principal Dean Schultz described classes and opportunities now being offered to his urban students. Schultz focused on students’ interests in working with animals, especially in the veterinary technician field. He said student field trips, such as those to a local zoo, could be tied to ag classes and related FFA activities. He also expressed interest in helping students understand the connection between plant science and two major Decatur employers, Archer Daniels Midland and A.E. Staley. Earlier, the ag leaders received support for expansion of ag ed programs from teachers, administrators, and school board members with the Taylorville school district. Taylorville officials noted students benefit academically from ag-related classes. Ag classes also hold students’ interests and keep them engaged in school, which raises attendance and increases funding the district receives, they added. — Kay Shipman

Josh Sutton, left, a senior at Taylorville High School and a member of the FFA tractor pulling team, shows one of the team’s tractors to Bob Arthur, center, a member of the Illinois Leadership Council for Agricultural Education. Matt Beyers, the high school’s ag power mechanics instructor, assists Sutton during last week’s tour of Taylorville High School’s ag program by state FFA officers and ag education leaders and supporters. Sutton is planning a career related to mechanics after learning about the field through ag classes and the FFA program. (Photo by Kay Shipman)

Barn raising: Videos, interviews build new ag history website As their forefathers did, people involved with Illinois agriculture together have built a “barn” for the 21st Century. But this online barn houses stories of Illinois agriculture’s past, present, and future. “Illinois has a long agricultural history,” said Bonnie Styles, Illinois State Museum director. Last week, Illinois Agriculture Director Tom Jennings and officials with the Illinois State Museum and the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Listen to comments from former IFB President Harold Steele about local ag history at

Library and Museum marked the launch of an audio-video website of Illinois agriculture. The website is {http://avbarn.}. The joint project of the two museums contains interviews of 146 people whose ag experiences span 129 years. The interviews include one of an elderly farmer who recalled farming in the late 1800s.

More recently, 84 individuals representing all types of agriculture were interviewed; many done with digital video cameras. The project was funded by a $565,000 national grant. Former Illinois Farm Bureau President Harold Steele and current IFB President Philip Nelson are among the interviewees. “No subject is more central to Illinois history than this one,” said Mark DePue, oral history director at the Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum. Information from the interviews covers the general topics of land, plants, animals, people, and technology, said Robert Warren, the project director and anthropology curator at the State Museum. The new website uses an innovative approach — a searchable digital index — to organize the information and makes it user friendly for researchers, educators, and students, according to DePue. Recent interviews also include images of fields, barns, and orchards.

Plumbing Illinois ag history website

Illinois Agriculture Director Tom Jennings, left, chats with Pike County farmer Philip Bradshaw, center, and former state veterinarian Richard Hull after the launch of an oral history of Illinois agriculture at the Illinois State Museum, Springfield. Hull, a museum volunteer, interviewed Bradshaw for the project. (Photo by Kay Shipman)

For example, Calhoun County specialty grower Robert Wieneke shows how grape vines are trained in his vineyard. John Ackerman, a pumpkin grower from Tazewell County, discusses the need to diversify a small farm to support several families.

The website also offers lesson plans based on information from the interviews. The lessons are geared toward middle and high school classes in fine arts, language arts, natural science, and social science. The State Museum is interested in working with school

A variety of information may be gleaned from more than 300 hours of interviews on a new Illinois agriculture history website. The site uses an innovative digital index to organize information, according to Robert Warren, the project leader and anthropology curator at the Illinois State Museum. A people page alphabetically lists all the individuals who were interviewed and links to their stories. A photo gallery page groups images into five categories: people, animals, land, plants, and technology. The searchable index allows a user to find information based on a topic, name, county, or date on the clip search page, Warren explained. The education page provides lesson plans for middle and high school classes. — Kay Shipman

districts and groups involved with teaching students about agriculture, Warren said. — Kay Shipman

FarmWeek Page 4 Monday, November 9, 2009


Buffett rail plan sparks speculation, concerns BY MARTIN ROSS FarmWeek

Illinois grain industry sources are uncertain how mega-investor Warren Buffett might drive ag transportation as prospective owner of the nation’s second-largest railroad. Some, including the freight rail coalition Consumers United for Rail Equity (CURE), are openly wary of plans Warren Buffett by Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway to buy BNSF. The deal “highlights some of the key reasons consumers need rail reform now: The current (rail) oversight system is broken, and railroad monopoly pricing results in excessive rates for consumers,” CURE Executive Director Robert Szabo argued. Szabo nonetheless hopes Buffett, who called his investment “an all-in wager on the economic future of the United States,” might put BNSF on “a more pro-competitive and consumer-friendly path.” Illinois Grain and Feed Association Executive Vice President Jeff Adkisson sees potentially varying outcomes for ag shippers under Buffett’s ownership. “Warren Buffett certainly doesn’t seem to be one who invests in something that’s not giving a good return or having

the ability to provide a good return. But providing a good return doesn’t necessarily mean investing in infrastructure and some of the upgrades that need to be put in place, Adkisson told FarmWeek. “While grain’s very important to us, in their big picture, it may not be as important, if you look at the percentage of ton-miles of grain they haul.” BNSF’s stock price jumped 27 percent following news of the deal, which must be cleared by BNSF shareholders.

would become even less transparent in its activities. Unlike publicly traded companies, it Visit to hear Jeff Adkisson’s comments about how the BNSF purchase may impact Illinois grain shippers.

would not be required to report to the federal Securities Exchange Commission. Szabo suggested consumers could shoulder the premium paid for BNSF through excessive rates

‘Warren Buffett certainly doesn’t seem to be one who invests in something that’s not giving a good return or having the ability to provide a good return.’ — Jeff Adkisson Illinois Grain and Feed Association

Berkshire Hathaway currently owns 23 percent of BNSF stock. The U.S. Surface Transportation Board recently declared BNSF “revenue inadequate” and unable to attract and retain sufficient capital. But Szabo noted “America’s savviest investor” is “purchasing all of BNSF stock, and at a 30 percent premium.” If BNSF became a privately held carrier, Szabo warned, it

under “monopoly pricing protections.” Berkshire Hathaway also holds a nearly 2 percent share in BNSF competitor Union Pacific (UP) and a smaller share in Norfolk Southern (NS). Other powerful players include Bill Gates, Canadian National Railway’s largest investor; billionaire George Soros, with positions in UP and NS; and equity investor Carl Icahn, with a $122 million stake in CSX.

Family grain business sees ‘committed’ carrier Ag business has been good business for the rail industry, according to a Central Illinois shipper who sees the BNSF as “committed to grain.” Toluca-based Ruff Bros. Grain loads BNSF shuttle trains with grain collected from a network of elevators within a roughly 20-mile radius. In 2008, the family-owned company shipped 100 trains or about 44 million bushels of grain. Ruff Bros. President Jesse Ruff was uncertain whether Warren Buffett’s planned purchase of the carrier (see accompanying story) is “a good thing or a bad thing” for the grain sector. But he has been satisfied with his family’s rail service and believes BNSF has adapted well to a changing ag trade. Coal continues to be BNSF’s top cargo, at 2.5 million carloads in 2008, but Ruff noted grain represents “steady business” for the top U.S. corn shipper, which also transported more than 23 million tons of wheat last year. He stressed grain was a “bright spot” for carriers amid the recent downturn in retail product movements. “I would say the railroad’s been great to work with for us: They want business in Illinois; they’ve been good to work with; they’ve been accommodating. I don’t have any complaints there,” Ruff told FarmWeek. “Now, if I were a shipper in another state who maybe couldn’t load shuttle trains, I might have a whole different opinion of the BNSF. But they’ve been very good to work with, from my perspective. I think they see our business as good business, some of their more profitable grain business.” Ruff acknowledged “much slower” loadings in 2009 amid higher corn prices that affected west Texas cattle demand, flagging ethanol production, and, now, reduced supplies because of a slow Illinois harvest. At the same time, Ruff Bros. is seeing rising demand among regional ethanol plants, and is shipping grain to the Illinois River for the first time in years. And confidence remains high at Ruff Bros., which acquired former Archer Daniels Midland Co. grain facilities at Leonore, Lostant, Wenona, Moon, and Lowpoint this summer and plans major improvements systemwide this fall. “One of these days, we’ll be busy loading trains again, but right now, it’s just slowed down,” Ruff said. — Martin Ross

Swine genome roadmap to better hogs, climate? The University of Illinois has unveiled a genetic roadmap that could open new inroads in pork production, medicine, and, potentially, environmental protection. A global collaboration has produced a first draft of the swine genome (genetic map) based on a U of Iraised Duroc. The draft gene sequence, nearly 98 percent complete, will help improve hog breeding and production and offer insights into swine disease, project participants suggest. Project leader and U of I biomedical sciences professor Larry Schook, who was present when the achievement was announced last week in England, noted the pig is “a unique animal,” similar to humans in physiology, behavior, and nutrition and used as a model for human disease. Barb Glenn, animal biotechnology director with the Biotechnology Industry Organization, told FarmWeek “Not only will the pork industry benefit; the entire animal agriculture industry in the United States will benefit.” “Beyond our borders, the potential is to contribute to the increase in food supply we need for the future. We sequence the swine genome, and the whole world’s going to benefit.” The $24.3 million sequencing project involves a global team of scientists and U.S., European, and Asian interests including the National Pork Board. The USDA National Institute of Food and Agricul-

ture (NIFA) (formerly the Cooperative State Research, Education, and Extension Service) provided an initial $10 million in project funding. The swine genome should accelerate improvements “as the bovine sequence is impacting the dairy industry’s genetic gains,” USDA Ag Research Service Deputy Administrator Steve Kappes said. Using that map, researchers should be able to “turn

The Enviropig, a modified Yorkshire hog able to digest dietary phosphorous, could help the swine industry protect water quality and trim operating costs. Meanwhile, the genome mapping of a Duroc hog could provide assistance on both fronts, as well. (Photo courtesy of the University of Guelph-Ontario)

on” productive genes in a variety of U.S. breeds and in developing regions around the globe, Glenn said. One of the immediate goals of animal biotechnology is production of livestock with resistance to drought, parasites, and “zoonotic” diseases (such as H1N1) that affect humans and animals, she said. Glenn also highlighted “pro-environment” potential of the research. The Enviropig, a modified Yorkshire developed by Canada’s University of Guelph, is capable of digesting plant phosphorus, reducing the need to feed supplemental phosphate or phytate and decreasing phosphorous content in manure by 30 to 60 percent. That reduces potential pollution from hog wastes. While the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approval process for food animal traits is confidential, Glenn noted Canadian scientists have been “very open” in seeking U.S. approval for Enviropig production. New FDA guidelines for genetically engineered animals emphasize food, feed, and environmental safety as well as the effectiveness and multi-generational stability of new traits. “The U.S. government has stepped up to the plate and is showing that these technologies are safe, through a strong regulatory process,” Glenn maintained. “That’s No. 1: We think that strong regulatory framework contributes to how consumers think about the technology.” — Martin Ross

FarmWeek Page 5 Monday, November 9, 2009


Help available for entrepreneurs on, off the farm BY KAY SHIPMAN FarmWeek

One-on-one business advice and counseling is available at no charge through the Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity’s (DCEO) network of small business development centers. “One thing we stress with centers is work with the clients and help them meet their needs,” said Mark Petrilli, the centers’ state director. The centers are located across the state; many are located at partner community colleges and universities. They offer a variety of services and training programs. The services may be helpful especially for farm families who are diversifying their operations with a sideline business, according to Dan Voorhis, director of the small business center at Western Illinois University’s Illinois Institute for Rural Affairs. Voorhis described a common scenario of a farm family who wants to start a second business, such as a trucking operation, to support an adult

child or grandchild. The farm’s operating finances must be kept separate from those of the new business venture or there could be

involved with the farm and those participating in the new venture. Together, they will learn about regulations and due dates of tax obliga-

‘Right now, we’re helping businesses survive, red u c e c o s t s , s ave m o n ey, o r m ay b e g o a f t e r (other) markets.’ — Mark Petrilli Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity

trouble for both operations, Voorhis warned. Using farm operating funds to support a struggling second venture could result in the failure of both businesses, he added. Even retail shops that sell farmgrown produce or products from the farm is vertically integrating the farm operation into retail and should be considered a second venture — even if it sells on eBay, Voorhis said. He recommended a visit to a small business center for family members

tions for new ventures. They also may receive assistance in developing a business plan and cash flow for the new venture. Voorhis also advised the family to talk not only with a bank’s farm loan officer, but also with its commercial loan officer. State and federal financial programs with low-interest rates are available through commercial loan officers. Those programs include ones offered by the Small Business Administration and USDA Rural Develop-

ment. The government programs reduce the risk that commercial venture loans pose to the bank, Voorhis noted. Petrelli added: “We help clients understand when they shouldn’t commit funds, shouldn’t put a second mortgage on their house ... But it may not be what they want to hear at the time.” Voorhis said he never tells people directly that their idea won’t work, but he makes “sure they understand the rules and how much they have to sell or produce every day to make it work.” Given the current economy, businesses — old or new — may benefit from financial analysis, according to Petrilli. “Right now, we’re helping businesses survive, reduce costs, save money, or maybe go after (other) markets,” he said. To locate the nearest small business center, go online to {www.commerce.} and click on “Entrepreneurship and Small business” or call 800-252-2923.

Small business $$ avenue for off-radar energy crops? BY MARTIN ROSS FarmWeek

Renewable energy is an answer to waning fossil resources. It’s also a growing business concern, and that may be key to helping bioenergy innovations come to market. In late October, the U.S. House passed the Small Business and Investment Act, including an amendment by Peoria Republican Rep. Aaron Schock that requires quarterly progress reports on the Small Business Administration’s (SBA) newly overhauled Renewable Energy Capital Investment Program. Schock cited Peoria-based Biofuels Manufacturers of Illinois’ (BMI) challenges in obtaining capital investment or loans for further development of pennycress, a winter oilseed crop with promising potential for biodiesel production. BMI has signed a handful of growers to raise pennycress, and hopes to process the crop through a 45-million-gallon-per-year biodiesel operation. Schock argued the SBA matching grants program, properly structured, could provide small businesses “equal opportunity to participate in the effort to make our country become more energy efficient while also establishing new renewable fuel sources.” As a winter annual, pennycress is “a great cover crop” that wouldn’t replace existing food crops, according to BMI’s Peter Johnsen, former

Peter Johnsen, chief technology officer with Biofuels Manufacturers of Illinois, left, and Brad Glenn, Stanford, board member of the Ag Guild of Illinois, look over harvested pennycress oilseed. (File photo)

director of Peoria’s USDA National Center for Ag Utilization Research (NCAUR). BMI estimates pennycress could generate 115 gallons of biodiesel per acre. But while the federal government has many dollars invested in switchgrass and other cellulosic biomass crops, the U.S. Department of Ener-

gy (DOE) “doesn’t see pennycress on its radar,” Johnsen said. Johnsen, who testified before Schock’s Small Business subcommittee, cited a three-year, $33 million DOE study focusing on energy crops and other biomass sources. “At the end of three years

and $33 million, they’re just going to have more information,” he told Illinois Farm Bureau representatives. “At the end of our (first) three years, we’re going to have a commercial process and be productive. “If you gave us the $33 million, we’d actually have a full-scale production facility, probably getting ready to build a second one. We need to try to have DOE understand that this crop exists.” USDA scientists are working to develop high-quality “bio-oils” from pennycress processing byproducts for possible heating, electrical generation, or transportation use. A ton of seed could produce both 95 gallons of biodiesel plus 95 gallons of bio-oil, Johnsen suggested. Meanwhile, he hopes USDA Rural Development would “look favorably upon pennycress as an opportunity for our growers.” “It does not require (crop) substitution — there’s no tradeoff,” he stressed.

H1N1 confirmed in commercial hog herd in Indiana USDA last week confirmed pigs in a commercial herd in Indiana tested positive for the novel H1N1 influenza. The sample, which was collected in October as part of the USDA swine surveillance program, is the first positive test for H1N1 from a commercial swine herd in the U.S. USDA last month confirmed some show pigs at the Minnesota State Fair tested positive for the H1N1 virus. It is believed the pigs in Indiana were infected by human caretakers who also had the flu. USDA stressed again last week the virus cannot be transmitted via pork consumption and sick pigs are not allowed to be moved to slaughter. The sickened pigs and caretakers at the Indiana hog farm were reported to have recovered from the influenza episode.

Seats available for Ag Masters Conference Registrations are still being accepted for the University of Illinois’ new Ag Masters Conference Dec. 1-2 at the I Hotel and Conference Center, Champaign. Presentations will be given on the latest crop production and crop protection research and issues. A general session format will be offered the first day, followed by more in-depth presentations the next day. The advanced registration fee for Dec. 1 is $135; on-site registration is $175. The advanced registration fee for Dec. 2 is $235. Pre-registration for both days is $350. Registration and program information is available online at {} or by calling Sandy Osterbur at 800-321-1296.

FarmWeek Page 6 Monday, November 9, 2009

CROPWATCHERS Bernie Walsh, Durand, Winnebago County: We finally had good weather for harvest, and everywhere you looked there was a cloud of dust from a combine cutting soybeans. We were still drying beans to start the week, but they have dried down now to less than 14 percent, and that is saving some handling and drying cost. We should have finished the beans on Friday and got started on the corn Saturday. Hopefully, it has dried down since we tried it 10 days ago. Have a safe week everyone. Pete Tekampe, Grayslake, Lake County: A cool, dry week in Lake County. Not a lot of sun, but better than what we’ve had lately. Some combines started beans on Tuesday with moisture in the 16 percent range. Most went on Wednesday at 14 percent moisture. Most are yielding in the mid- to upper 30s. I had a 20-acre piece that the geese found and they cleaned up 4 to 5 acres for me. I did a hand test on corn last week at 31 percent on my early-May corn. Not much wheat has been planted because of the wet ground. I was cutting in pretty badly Thursday and even found some mud. Temperatures in the 60s were expected over the weekend with maybe a slight shower today (Monday). I hope they are right for a change. Leroy Getz, Savanna, Carroll County: Morale in the ag community is so much better when the sun is shining and the combines are rolling. We had a little rain Wednesday morning, but no delays. Moisture levels have dropped a couple percentage points in the corn. Bins are filling fast with the high yields that are out there. We’ve been able to get some cornstalk bales of fodder made. Some producers are doing the math, and there is no way they can be done harvesting before New Year’s Day. Larry Hummel, Dixon, Lee County: Finally, excellent harvest weather the first week of November allowed us to harvest more acres than we did the whole month of October. We should have had soybeans almost wrapped up last Saturday. We had one field that is wetter now than it was when it was planted last spring, and the ground will need to be frozen to get the last of the beans. Most are harvested between 14 and 16 percent moisture. On Thursday, late in the day, we finally got some down close to 13 percent. White mold devastated some fields, dropping yields by as much as 10 bushels per acre. Corn is still wet, but should be dropping some moisture this week. We finally harvested some corn under 30 percent on Monday (Nov. 2), but not by much. The field average was 29.5 percent. Ken Reinhardt, Seaton, Mercer County: Finally a nice harvest week, although elevators were closed for corn by mid-week to catch up with dryers. Soybeans were cut all week, and I finished harvest with 12 percent moisture. I found some corn at 20 percent moisture, but most is above 25 percent. It looks like elevators will be closed more than half the time, unless moisture levels drop significantly. Ron Moore, Roseville, Warren County: Finally, a week with no rain to report. We started on soybeans last Monday (Nov. 2) and have been on them since. The elevators are still taking in too much wet corn and shutting down until they get it dried. The yields on soybeans are anywhere from 30 to 60 bushels, depending on the amount of disease pressure. We are still not past 50 percent harvested in this area. The weather forecast is for several more days of sun and warm temperatures. Hopefully, this will dry the corn down to more acceptable levels.

Jacob Streitmatter, Princeville, Peoria County: Finally the weather broke. Harvest is in full swing, and the nice weather allowed a lot of soybeans to be harvested. Our soybean yields are below average. We have not harvested any corn. Hopefully, the moisture will be below 30 percent when we get to it and a lot of crops will be harvested. Tim Green, Wyoming, Stark County: We picked corn Monday (Nov. 2). The moisture had dropped a little bit, but it still just was right at or a little above 30 percent. Kind of going slow, but were going. The weather straightened out toward the middle of the week and some started cutting beans. Yields are very disappointing in general. A lot of white mold is present, creating a lot of sub-50bushel beans. Everybody knew we had it, but we just didn’t realize how severe it was in spots. Spraying seemed to help a little, but the key word is a little. Have a safe fall. The time change makes a difference, so think before you do. Mark Kerber, Chatsworth, Livingston County: What a difference a week can make. The sun has been shining and the wind has been blowing — great for drying mud and crops. The corn has even dried down some. Combines are rolling again in the soybeans; sometimes around wet holes. Corn harvest is continuing. We are working around drying batches of corn and elevators getting full of wet corn. Our local elevator operator said he could see a difference in drying capacity with corn moistures going down a little. We all hope November weather will be different than October. Let’s keep this dry pattern going. Ron Haase, Gilman, Iroquois County: Soybean harvest resumed for many local farmers on Tuesday A lot of the local soybean fields have been removed. We started harvesting corn again on Monday (Nov. 2). Corn finally is beginning to dry down some. Some varieties have dropped 6 percentage points since I first began harvesting them. Overall, the moisture of what I have harvested has dropped from a range of 23 percent to 32 percent to a range of 21 percent to 26 percent. With more farmers beginning to harvest corn, elevators either are handling the wet corn by closing some days or closing early every day to allow time to dry what they have received. Last Thursday, for example, we had to stop hauling corn in at 11 a.m. Thus far we have harvested 16.6 percent of our corn. The local closing prices for Nov. 5 were: nearby corn, $3.51; fall 2010 corn, $3.83; nearby soybeans, $9.58; fall 2010 soybeans, $9.18. Brian Schaumburg, Chenoa, McLean County: Just as in Philadelphia, there is no joy (or profit) here in Mudville. As of Friday, corn was 20 percent and soybeans were 80 percent complete. Elevators are reducing their hours because corn moisture is still 22 to 32 percent. Diplodia is a lesser problem in the later-planted corn. Refuge yield is 20-30 bushels less, especially where there are drainage problems. White mold was a major problem in susceptible soybean varieties. The easy part is over. Corn, $3.55, January $3.70, fall 2010, $3.84; soybeans, $9.52; January, $9.57, fall 2010, $9.25. Wilfred Dittmer, Quincy, Adams County: It’s hard to believe that bright spot in the sky is still the same sun that has been virtually nonexistent for the last month. I think it has given everyone an energy boost and maybe finally, the wheels can get rolling and get this crop in the bin. Several have been going the last couple days, mostly in soybeans but some are working in corn. Soils are not that dry yet as evidenced by how much mud is being carried out onto the roads. No rainfall in the gauge since Oct. 29. Total since March 1 in our gauge stands at 42.95 inches. Total last year came in at 40.4 inches. Have a safe week as the harvest momentum picks up.

Harry Schirding, Petersburg, Menard County: Rainfall last week, 0.27 of an inch. Total for November, 0.05 of an inch. Normal for November, 2.87 inches. Corn harvest started again on Nov. 1; however, field conditions were less than ideal. As the week progressed, ground conditions steadily improved, but most had to harvest through areas of standing water. Moisture levels in corn remain high so lines at the elevator are the norm. Some elevators have shortened hours in order to allow the drying process to keep up. As the week ended, most producers have turned their attention to soybeans, which should be nearly 90 percent complete by the beginning of this week. Even though October was the second wettest on record, grain quality remains unaffected except for the corn’s moisture level. Corn nearby, $3.51, down 13 cents; corn for January, $3.56, down 3 cents; soybeans nearby, $9.52, down 15 cents; soybeans for January, $9.59, down 19 cents. Tom Ritter, Blue Mound, Macon County: It was a beautiful work week. More accomplished last week than any week previously this fall. Beans especially were disappearing at a rapid rate. If the forecast holds through the first of this week, we should be close to completion on soybeans. Corn is still lagging behind with less than 50 percent of the crop harvested. Moisture still is the biggest issue even though corn has dried down a few points. I have not heard of any corn below 20 percent coming in the last several weeks. Elevators still haven’t had any major problems trying to keep up with the drying. Early in the week, there were a lot of frustrations with combines, auger wagons, and trucks getting stuck, but the fields have firmed up and farmers were able to at least work around some of the major wet spots. Very little tillage was done this past week. Whether much tillage will be done or fertilizer applied could be a problem for next year’s crop. Todd Easton, Charleston, Coles County: It comes as no surprise to me that Farmweek asked us to continue reporting for a few extra weeks. It’s just one of many signs that this harvest has gone well into overtime. The good news is field operations are in full swing. Looking across the countryside last week, it looked like every piece of fall season farm equipment in the county was out working as farmers and fertilizer suppliers were trying to get a long list of work done in a very short time. Soybean harvest appears to be in the last 10 percent as many producers have worked down to their ponds and latest plantings. Soybeans seemed to have a very well defined trend of the later plantings being lower yielding. I couldn’t even venture a guess on what the final county bean average will be, but I’m afraid it will be somewhat lower than our five-year average. Corn, on the other hand, is doing surprisingly well as most fields I have been in so far are at or above average with the last two years — topping the 200bushel mark even after shrink. As we get farther in, it will be interesting to see what the June-planted corn does. Hopefully, it won’t show a significant lag as did the beans. As harvest moves along, stay safe out there. Doug Uphoff, Shelbyville, Shelby County: We had a good week of harvesting. Corn is still in the 20 percent range, so we still are facing dryer issues with the elevator. A lot of the local elevators are closing between 10 a.m. and 3 p.m. The crop is going to the bins after that. Some guys are testing beans. A lot of ruts are being cut in the bean fields, but they are getting the beans out. We’re also facing a problem in our local area with the mega farmer moving in and trying to move out local farmers. It’s becoming a big issue in our county. Crop prices were up the beginning of last week and down at the end of the week. Everybody be safe out there and have a good week.

FarmWeek Page 7 Monday, November 9, 2009

CROPWATCHERS David Schaal, St. Peter, Fayette County: Soybeans are disappearing from the fields at a rapid pace. Some guys will be done with soybean harvest when this report is read. Field conditions are getting better everyday. Early last week combines were making some ruts in places. Soybean yields are all over the place, depending upon soil type and where it had rained a little more. From what I have seen and heard, they are yielding in the low 30s to low 40s. Have a safe and prosperous week. Ted Kuebrich, Jerseyville, Jersey County: The combines in Jersey County were going full speed ahead last week. The weather was good with a lot of sunshine and a nice wind to dry the bean stems after the frost the night before. The Illinois River is 5 feet above the flood stage and the corn and beans in the low areas are standing in floodwater. The moisture in most of our beans is running between 9 percent and 12 percent moisture. Prices at Jersey County Grain, Hardin: November corn, $3.48; January corn, $3.70; fall corn for 2010, $3.87; November beans, $9.56; January beans, $9.84; fall beans for 2010, $9.28. Dan Meinhart, Montrose, Jasper County: It hasn’t rained for almost a week. A lot of corn and beans came out of the fields. There have been considerably more beans harvested than corn. Corn is still running high in moisture with some drydown taking place in the field this past week. Corn harvest is slow as farmers have to wait for the dryers to catch up due to the excessive moisture. The ground is very wet. Deep ruts are being cut in some fields. This week looks fairly clear with a slight chance of rain today (Monday) and Tuesday.

Bob Biehl, Belleville, St. Clair County: It’s hard to believe, but it’s been one week without rain after 4.5 inches of rain the last week of October. Some started shelling corn the next day. We started shelling last Sunday (Nov. 1). It actually was surprising how firm the ground was after all the rain. The worst areas were the clay hills and flat, poorly drained fields. The only place we got stuck was in a waterway that was silted in with topsoil from the spring rains. Corn moisture still was in the low- to mid-20s with June-planted corn hovering around 30 percent. We switched to beans on Wednesday and that has been working out well. Beans are dry and fields carrying well, so ruts are minimal. Yields mostly have been in the 40s, which is good for beans planted around June 25 or later. Group 4 beans have been in the upper 40s, as compared to the late Group 3 beans, which have been in the low- to mid-40s. Bean harvest progress to date ranges from 0 to 40 percent complete for most area producers. Hopefully after a nice weekend, it will be up to 50 to 80 percent complete. Rick Corners, Centralia, Jefferson County: Bean harvest is finally going. In some fields we are making bad ruts and in others we hardly make any. One advantage is we’re not bothered with getting full tanks. Yields are a little over half of the ones we cut early. Kevin Raber, Browns, Wabash County: Harvest continued almost all week. This was the most days in a row for harvest since it started. The ground is still soft, but everyday makes it a little more solid. I’ve cut some double-crop beans, and I was pleased with their yields. Very little wheat has been sown here locally. If we have a couple more weeks of nice weather, harvest should be behind us.

Dean Shields, Murphysboro, Jackson County: As I reported a week ago, it was raining and it rained quite a bit. We got more than 2 to 3 inches in the area. A lot of the low ground was flooded. I have a couple hundred acres in the water right now. I’m actually caught up to the water’s edge, as they say. Harvest still is going hot and heavy now that the weather turned better. But, there is still a lot of crop out in the field in Jackson County. I saw a guy trying to work some ground up to sow some wheat; that’s the first I’ve seen in quite awhile. The biggest problem for corn farmers in this area is that the corn is not drying down and we don’t have the facilities to dry the corn as fast as we’d like. But the sun is shining, and the forecast is good for this week, so it looks like harvest will be going along pretty well. Take care and be safe. Ken Taake, Ullin, Pulaski County: We finally had an open week here in Pulaski County. I think this was the most days in a row of sunshine we have had all fall. Everyone is trying to take advantage and running about as hard as they can. We’ve been in the field since Monday (Nov. 2), with some people really pushing it and were in the field the first weekend in November. The only elevator concerns I heard was last weekend (Oct. 31-Nov. 1). One sent out an e-mail saying no soybeans above 20 percent moisture would be accepted. I know some of the farmers who had crops in the river bottoms were concerned the river was getting up and they were trying to get beans out. Soybeans were dry late last week. Our corn still seems to be running about 20 percent moisture. I guess that’s about as dry as it’s going to get this year. Please remember to be careful.

Reports received Friday morning.

Soy plantings may increase about 5 percent in Brazil BY PHIL CORZINE

It’s time to start our monthly reports on the Brazilian crop, the planting of which is just getting under way. So far, things are going well, but as usual some areas are getting too much Phil Corzine rain and others not enough. Overall, planting is moving along at a somewhat normal pace. It’s pretty much a sure

thing that when the planters are finished this year in Brazil, Brazilian farmers will have seeded about 2.5 million acres more to soybeans than they did the previous year — up 4.7 percent. While that’s just a small increase for Brazil, it’s a pretty large area — the entire state of Kentucky planted only about 1.5 mil-

lion acres this year. The increased soybean area is tied to low corn prices, which have plunged to near $2 per bushel after reaching more than $7 last year. The area planted to first-crop corn is forecast to be down by 1.3 million acres. On our farms in Tocantins, the ideal date to start planting soybeans is Nov.

Commodity Conference to be held Nov. 24 The annual Illinois Commodity Conference will be held from 7:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. Tuesday, Nov. 24, at the DoubleTree Hotel and Conference Center in Bloomington. The theme for this year’s event is “Wrestling with Change.” You can download a brochure Speakers on the upcoming Commodity during the Conference by going to event include Wes Jamison, associate professor of communication at Palm Beach Atlantic University, Florida, who will discuss animal welfare issues; Pat Haggarty, political humorist; John Carter, a Brazilian farmer who will reveal “What’s Really Happening in the Amazon Rain Forest;” and Rulon Gard-

ner, dairy farmer and Olympic gold medal wrestler, who will provide the “Seven Steps to Success” during his presentation. The Commodity Conference is sponsored by the Illinois Beef, Corn Growers, Milk Producers, Pork Producers, Soybean, and Wheat Associations. A brochure about the conference and registration information is available online at {}. Producers also may register for the conference by contacting any of the above commodity groups or by calling Nicole Branum at 309-557-3343. The registration fee is $65, which originally was the early-bird special price. The earlybird rate last week was extended through the conference due to the unusual weather and harvest conditions.

10, so burn-down applications are set to begin there in the next few days. Rains in our part of the state have been spotty, but we were able to get our dry-land rice planted last week. This year we are planting 1,250 acres of soybeans, 170 of rice, and 50 of corn. Over the next six months, I will try to keep you up to date on the Brazilian crop, as we get crop reports from a few of our Cropwatchers from key production regions.

In addition, I will give you an inside look at our farms in Tocantins — from the price of soybeans to the cost of our fertilizer. If you really want to get an inside look at Brazil, consider joining our Brazilian Frontier Tour in February of 2010. Phil Corzine is general manager of South American Soy, a global investment, management, and production company. His e-mail address is pc@ag

FarmWeek Page 8 Monday, November 9, 2009


Finally! Mother Nature cooperates BY DANIEL GRANT FarmWeek

Farmers last week finally received a significant window of opportunity to get back in the fields, and most took full advantage of it. “Everywhere you looked there was a cloud of dust from a combine cutting soybeans,” Bernie Walsh, a FarmWeek Cropwatcher from Winnebago County, said last week. Harvest progress this week likely will show a big improve-

ment compared to the first of last week when just 19 percent of corn and 35 percent of soybeans were harvested in the state. Harvest as of the first of last week was 67 percent behind the five-year average pace for corn and 57 percent behind the average pace for beans. “Excellent harvest weather (last week) allowed us to harvest more acres than we did the whole month of October,”

said Larry Hummel, a Cropwatcher from Lee County. Rainfall last month across the state averaged 8.9 inches, which made it the secondwettest October on record, according to the Illinois State Water Survey. Fortunately, the weather last week and the forecast through the end of this week appears much more conducive to harvest and other field activities. “We’ve gone through a

Urban sprawl key to hail damage upswing BY KAY SHIPMAN FarmWeek

Hailstorms are inflicting more property damage in the United States, and urban sprawl — not increased storms — is the chief reason, according to climatologist Stan Changnon. Changnon, retired director of the Illinois State Water Survey, is completing a national climatological atlas of hailstorms. The atlas will provide such information as the frequency of hailstorms, size of hail stones, and amounts of property and crop damage at given locations. “It’s designed for those with the potential of real damage from hail,” Changnon explained. For example, a farmer could use the information to estimate his risk of crop damage from hail and thus assess his need for hail insurance.

Changnon noted there are U.S. locations where hail damage is not a threat; however, none is in Illinois or elsewhere in the Midwest. Changnon cautioned against misinterpretations of storm property damage data. “The frequency of days of hail (storms) has not gone up over time,” Changnon said. “It’s the same level as 50 years ago. But dollar-wise property losses have gone up like crazy.” Why has storm damage increased so dramatically? Changnon asserted urban sprawl has provided a wealthier target for the storms. He illustrated his point by highlighting the nation’s most expensive hailstorms that caused $1.8 billion in property damage in April 2006. Hailstorms that year hit several Chicago suburbs, Indianapolis,

south of Madison, Wis., and then spread into Milwaukee. If those same storms had occurred 50 years earlier, less property damage would have occurred because those areas were less developed, Changnon asserted. In the future, Changnon plans to post the hailstorm atlas online. FarmWeek will publish the website location once it becomes available.

Ohio voters OK Livestock Care Board Ohio voters last week overwhelmingly approved a ballot initiative that will establish a board on livestock care standards. The newly approved Ohio Livestock Care Standards Board will be made up of 13 members, including Ohio’s ag director, family farmers, veterinarians, a representative from a local humane society, and consumers. Board members will set standards for the care, treatment, and welfare of livestock and poultry raised in Ohio based on ethics and science. The measure also is intended to block liberal animal care reforms in Ohio advocated by the Humane Society of the United States. The Ohio Farm Bureau actively supported the measure, which may be a blueprint in other states for ag supporters who are concerned about the agendas of animal activist groups. “The Illinois Farm Bureau supported this effort by making a contribution to assist in the voter education efforts to ensure passage of this ballot initiative,” said IFB President Philip Nelson. “Ohio has blazed a bold new trail for other states to follow on the issue of livestock care and well-being,” said Bob Stallman, president of the American Farm Bureau Federation. “It is clear that voters in that state know farmers and ranchers share their values regarding the care of farm animals.”

major pattern change,” said Chuck Schaffer, meteorologist with the National Weather Service office in Lincoln. “We’re heading into a much warmer and drier period than what we saw most of October.” A cold front is expected to move through the state today (Nov. 9), and into Tuesday, but rainfall should be much lighter than a number of October storms that produced 2 to 3-plus inches of

rain, according to Schaffer. “It doesn’t appear to be a major system,” which means rainfall could be scattered with totals of a half-inch or less, Schaffer said. “Then, after that, it looks like things will dry out and be fairly warm.” Light winds also are expected to sweep across the state, helping reduce crop moisture levels. “It looks like really good drying conditions,” Schaffer added.

Near-record rain not conducive to planting wheat Cold and extremely wet conditions last month could take the top end off of corn and soybean yields in some locations around the state. But those losses pale in comparison to what could be a dramatic drop in soft red winter wheat production in Illinois in 2009/10. Winter wheat planting as of the first of last week was just 35 percent complete (55 percent behind the five-year average). And, even after a return to sunny weather last week, very ‘ I t w o u l d b e a little wheat was seeded, stretch to say according to Dennis Epplin, one-third of the University of Illinois Extenwheat farmers insion crop systems educator tended to plant is in Mt. Vernon. “It would be a stretch to planted.’ say one-third of the wheat farmers intended to plant is — Dennis Epplin planted,” Epplin told U of I Extension FarmWeek on Thursday. “The difficulty (of trying to plant wheat now) is most farmers are really going hard to try to get soybean harvest accomplished and many have a lot of corn to harvest as well.” Harvest in Illinois as of the first of last week was just 19 percent complete for corn and 35 percent complete for soybeans, the National Agricultural Statistics Service Illinois field office reported. The historically slow harvest is the result of delayed planting last spring, cool and wet conditions that slowed the rate of crop maturity during the growing season, and more rain this fall that made many fields unworkable for much of September and October. “Obviously, it’s been very tough for farmers,” Epplin said. The statewide average rainfall last month was 8.9 inches, which — at 6 inches above normal — made it the second-wettest October on record, according to the Illinois State Water Survey. The temperature last month averaged just 49.8 degrees, 4.8 degrees below normal. “Some of the wheat fields that were planted really look rough,” Epplin said. Meanwhile, a month already has passed since the ideal time to plant wheat (about Oct. 10) in Southern Illinois. “An early-November-seeded wheat field could produce a good crop,” Epplin said. “But the probability of that happening goes down the later it gets.” Each day that passes prior to wheat planting increases the chances of a poor stand and/or winter weather damage. Epplin, therefore, expects another big reduction in wheat production this year after wheat plantings in the state declined from 1.2 million acres in 2007 to 850,000 acres last fall. — Daniel Grant

FarmWeek Page 9 Monday, November 9, 2009



FFINGHAM — The Prime Timers will have a Thanksgiving dinner at 6 p.m. Tuesday, Nov. 17, at the Centenary United Methodist Church, Effingham. Cost is $6 for members and $11 for non-members. Food will be collected for the Catholic Charities Food Pantry. Reservations and payment are due by Tuesday. Call the Farm Bureau office at 217-342-2103 for more information. • Farm Bureau and St. Anthony’s Memorial Hospital will sponsor a health fair from 3 to 6 p.m. Tuesday, Nov. 17, at the Farm Bureau office. Complimentary health screenings will include blood pressure, blood cholesterol, blood glucose, and pulmonary function. Dr. Lana Schmidt will conduct skin cancer screenings from 4 to 6 p.m. for members who have not seen her during previous screenings. Call the Farm Bureau office at 217-342-2103 for the skin cancer screening. • Stroke Detection Plus will conduct screenings Thursday, Nov. 19, at the Farm Bureau office. The screenings will identify people at high risk for stroke, abdominal aortic aneurysm, peripheral vascular disease and osteoporosis. Results will be mailed to participants. Cost is $40 each or $80 for all the tests. Call 877-7328258 for an appointment. ANCOCK — The annual meeting will be at 7 p.m. Thursday, Nov. 19, at the Farm Bureau office. Call the Farm Bureau office for more information. ENRY — Terry Jones, Russell Consulting Group, will be the speaker at the final program of the marketing seminar series at 6:30 p.m. Monday, Nov. 23, at Glory Days, Geneseo. Cost is $18, which includes a buffet dinner. Call the Farm Bureau office at 309-937-2411 or the HenryStark Extension unit at 309853-1533 for reservations or more information. • Steve Johnson, Iowa State University Extension farm and ag business management specialist, will be the speaker at a marketing seminar at 9:30 a.m. Tuesday, Nov. 24, at Happy Joe’s, Coal Valley. Cost is $15, which includes lunch and materials. The seminar is sponsored by Henry and Rock Island County Farm Bureaus, Gold Star FS, and Bank ORION. Call the Henry County Farm Bureau office at 309937-2411 or the Rock Island County Farm Bureau office at 309-736-7432 for reservations or more information. ANKAKEE — Darrel Good, University of Illinois Extension, will be the speaker at the first of four winter ag breakfast meetings at



7 a.m. Thursday, Dec. 10, at the Iroquois Room, Kankakee Community College. Future dates will be Jan. 14, Feb. 4, and March 18. Cost is $9, which includes breakfast buffet. Call the U of I Extension office at 815-933-8337 for reservations or more information. NOX — Steve Johnson, Iowa State University farm and ag business management specialist, will be the speaker at a marketing seminar at 6:30 p.m. Monday, Nov. 23, at the Knox Agri Center. Riverland FS, Tompkins State Bank, Abingdon Banking Center, Winship Farm Management, North and Co., Monsanto, and Warren-Henderson and Knox County Farm Bureaus will sponsor the program. Call the Farm Bureau office at 3422036 for reservations or more information. ASALLE — Farm Bureau is accepting orders for Florida fruit and Amish country cheese. Deadline to order is Tuesday, Nov. 24. Forms are available at the Farm Bureau office or online at {}. EE — Steve Johnson, Iowa State University farm and ag business management specialist, will be the speaker at a “managing crops risk and revenue” seminar at 7 p.m. Tuesday, Nov. 24, at the Quality Inn, Dixon. Lee, Ogle, and Whiteside County Farm Bureaus, and Sauk Valley



Auction Calendar Thurs., Nov. 12. 10:30 a.m. 51 Ac. Tazewell Co. Leslie Hellemann, TREMONT, IL. Kuhfuss and Proehl, P.C. Thurs., Nov. 12. 10 a.m. 64 Ac. Henderson Co. Farmland. Harlan Miller Estate, Dale Miller, Executor, GLADSTONE, IL. Burns Auction Service. Thurs., Nov. 12. 6 p.m. 145 +/- Ac. Bond Co. Jim and Peggy Darnell, Shoalsburg Farms. Langham Auctioneers. Sat., Nov. 14. 11 a.m. 80 Ac. Reatha E. Green Estate, DECATUR, IL. Central Illinois Auctions. Sat., Nov. 14. 1 p.m. Greene County Real Estate Auction. Ken and Brenda Timpe, WHITE HALL, IL. Langham Auctioneers. Sat., Nov. 14. 10 a.m. Unbelievable Huge 2 Ring Event. Tom and Elsie Blomenkamp, FREEBURG, IL. Mark Krausz Auction Service. Sat., Nov. 14. 10 a.m. Farm Machinery. Paul Range, MILLSTADT, IL. Schaller Auction Service. Sat., Nov. 14. 10 a.m. Real Estate Auction. MARION, IL. Jamie Scherrer Auction Co. Sat., Nov. 14. 9:30 a.m. Estate Auction. Edwin Porter, ST. JACOB, IL. Rutz Auction Service. Sat., Nov. 14. 11 a.m. Jo Daviess Co. Land Auction. David Kempel, PEARL CITY, IL. Jim Calhoun, Auctioneer. Sat., Nov. 14. 8 a.m. Machinery consignment auction. Route 9 Auction Co., CANTON, IL. Tues., Nov. 17. 10 a.m. 3055 +/- Ac. Kilton Farms, Inc., HILLSBORO, IL. Aumann Auctions. Tues., Nov. 17. 10 a.m. 240 Ac. Farmland. Chrystal F. Thompson Trust, PONTIAC, I L. Immke and Bradleys’ Auction Service. Tues., Nov. 17. 10 a.m. 575 +/- Ac. McLean Co. David Davis IV Trust, Commerce Bank, N.A. Trustee, HEYWORTH, IL. Farmers National Co. Wed., Nov. 18. 10 a.m. 199.79 Ac. McDonough Co. William E. Miller St. and James A. Miller, BUSHNELL, IL. Roberts Auction Service.

Bank will sponsor the meeting. Visit the website at {} or call the Farm Bureau office at 8573531 for reservations or more information. ENARD — The annual meeting will be at 5:30 p.m. Friday, Nov. 20, at the PORTA High School. Tickets are $2 and should be purchased by Friday. James Keeran, Abraham Lincoln impersonator, will provide the entertainment. Call the Farm Bureau office at 309-632-2217 for more information. ONTGOMERY — The Prime Timers will meet at noon Wednesday, Nov. 18, for a Thanksgiving dinner. Cost is $8. Wanda Cook, also known as Dora Merriweather, will provide the entertainment for a free-will offering. Call the Farm Bureau office at 217-5326171 for more information. • The Prime Timers will sponsor a bus trip Wednesday, Dec. 2, to Our Lady of the Snows Shrine, Belleville. The bus will leave at 3:05 p.m. from Nokomis downtown park, 3:30 p.m. from the Farm Bureau office, and 3:45 p.m. from the former Kroger park-



ing lot, Litchfield. The group will visit the gift shop, have a buffet meal, hear the St. Louis University mass choir, and see a display of lights. Cost is $33. Call the Farm Bureau office at 217-532-6171 for more information. CHUYLER — Dave Shiley, Extension educator, will be the speaker at a Working Windbreaks seminar at 1:30 and 6:30 p.m. Thursday at the Schuyler County Extension office. Call the Extension office at 217-322-3381 or the Cass County Extension office at 217-452-3211 for reservations or more information. HITE — Kevin Rund, senior director of local government, will be the speaker at an “on the road” seminar at 7 p.m. Tuesday, Nov. 24, at the Farm Bureau office. Topics will include universal carrier registration, weight limits, and commercial driver’s license requirements. Call the Farm Bureau office at 618-3828512 for reservations or more information. ERMILION — Florida citrus, nuts, and snacks will be available for sale.




Orders and payment are due to the Farm Bureau office by Wednesday, Nov. 25. Delivery will be Monday, Dec. 14. Call the Farm Bureau office at 217442-8713 to order or for more information. INNEBAGO — The Winnebago and Boone Farm Bureau Prime Timers will sponsor a bus trip Thursday, Nov. 19, to see the musical, Holly Jolly Christmas, at Circa 21. The bus will leave the Farm Bureau office at 9:30 a.m. and return around 5 p.m. Cost is $60, which includes transportation, meal, and show. Call the Farm Bureau office for more information. • Farm Bureau will sponsor a bus trip Wednesday, Dec. 2, to Gurnee Mills shopping center. The bus will leave the Farm Bureau office at 8 a.m. and return by 6 p.m. Cost is $18. Call the Farm Bureau office at 815-962-0653 for reservations or more information.


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

FarmWeek Page 10 Monday, November 9, 2009


2009 growing season: A true perfect storm BY MATT HYNES

We have gone from a late, wet spring to a cool, wet summer to a long, wet harvest. The central theme here is “wet.” This is the slowest harvest we have had in more than 40 years. I believe there are three important things to Matt Hynes discuss about this season. First is growing conditions, second is Diplodia ear rot in corn, and third is

white mold in soybeans. There have been some outstanding corn and soybean yields, set up by the ideal growing conditions we had this summer. Those same growing conditions brought on the two other highlights of the year — Diplodia ear rot and white mold. Where Diplodia ear rot has been heavy, it devastated corn quality, resulting in large dockage fees. Remember when our corn crop was about to pollinate and silking occurred? It was cool and wet, two components needed for disease development.

Those same conditions prevailed for most of the remainder of the growing season, a great environment for this disease to continue its development. So what can be done about this next year? Make careful observations from this growing season and consult your FS crop specialist. But keep in mind that this was an unusual year, and don’t make all your decisions based on this year alone. What about white mold? We have not seen the disease this severe in more than 15 years, and some Central Illi-

nois counties observed white mold for the first time ever. This disease thrives in cool, wet, overcast, rainy conditions. Does that sound like the 2009 Illinois growing season? You might call it a perfect storm. All elements of the disease triangle were present: the host, the environment, and the disease. How is white mold prevented? There is very little resistance in today’s varieties. It might not even be what would be called true resistance but more like field tolerance or partial resistance.

Variety selection is one step, and planting population is another — lower populations give more beneficial air movement through the canopy. While tillage is an option, it can be a positive or a negative. Your best alternative is to consult your FS crop specialist as he or she is equipped with the knowledge to help you make the appropriate decisions for your 2010 crop. Matt Hynes is FS Seed sales and marketing manager. His e-mail address is

Harvest delays create ripple effects in ag industry BY DANIEL GRANT FarmWeek

Poor field conditions this fall are affecting more than just the harvest pace in Illinois. The situation has reached a point in which a large portion of the ag industry is experiencing ripple effects from the wet conditions and slow harvest. Representatives of the ag industry last week told FarmWeek poor harvest conditions have done everything from threaten farmers’ ability to apply fall fertilizer to potentially delay seed shipments for next year.

“This is one of the worst falls we can find on record,” said Joe Dillier, director of plant food at GROWMARK. Illinois farmers in recent fall seasons applied as much as 50 percent of their anhydrous ammonia and in some areas as much as two-thirds of their dry fertilizer products. If that fieldwork is not completed this fall, Dillier believes it could create a supply problem and increase fertilizer prices next spring. “If you throw all this demand (for fertilizer) to the spring, it will be very hard to


Feeder pig prices reported to USDA*

Weight 10 lbs. 40 lbs. 50 lbs. Receipts

Range Per Head Weighted Ave. Price $26.77-$37.44 $32.55 $35.00-$35.00 $35.00 n/a n/a This Week Last Week 28,595 20,187 *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 $52.08 $49.20 $38.54 $36.41

Change 2.88 2.13

(Thursday’s price) This week 86.78 87.00

Prv. week 87.75 87.88

Change -0.97 -0.88

CME feeder cattle index — 600-800 Lbs. This is a composite price of feeder cattle transactions in 27 states. (Prices $ per hundredweight) This week Prev. week Change 93.21 93.25 -0.04

Lamb prices Confirmed lamb and sheep sales This week 844 Last week 881 Last year 626 Wooled Slaughter Lambs: Choice and Prime 2-3: 90-110 lbs, $98; 110-130 lbs., $82-$92. Good and Choice 1-2: 60-90 lbs., $105. Slaughter Ewes: Utility and Good 1-3: $28-$31. Cull and Utility 1-2: $28.

Export inspections (Million bushels)

Week ending Soybeans Wheat 10-29-09 63.7 11.9 10-22-09 49.2 14.4 Last year 51.5 14.2 Season total 218.4 360.5 Previous season total 196.4 538.9 USDA projected total 1305 900 Crop marketing year began June 1 for wheat and Sept. 1 for corn and soybeans.

opportunity” and to avoid possible supply issues next spring. Meanwhile, the harvest of seed beans has been delayed, which therefore could cause delayed shipments of seeds for the 2010 season, according to Ron Milby, GROWMARK seed division manager. “I’d say (seed harvest) is six weeks behind for soybeans,” said Milby, who noted pro-

State tillage seminar to focus on soil, field conditions

USDA five-state area slaughter cattle price Steers Heifers

service it all from a logistical standpoint, especially for nitrogen,” he said. “If we get in that environment, (fertilizer) prices could go up. There’s only so much storage and capability to move product.” Dillier encouraged farmers to apply nitrogen as soon as conditions allow so they can take advantage of what currently may be a “good value

duction of most seed corn is on schedule. “Farmers can order the stuff, but we’re going to be later in shipping it.” Yields and the quality of seed crops so far have met expectations, so the supply shouldn’t be an issue next spring, according to Milby. He predicted seed conditioning plants may run multiple shifts to try to catch up with soybean production. Elsewhere, those in the grain elevator industry likely will absorb additional costs for natural gas. Many elevator managers in September and October had to sell natural gas back into the system at a loss due to the slow harvest. Now, they likely will have to ramp up natural gas purchases at higher prices to handle the belated harvest rush, according to Jeff Adkisson, executive vice president of the Illinois Grain and Feed Association. “It’s going to be an added cost this fall,” Adkisson said.

Corn 23.4 25.5 23.2 295.1 278.1 2150

Statewide conservation agencies will offer an Illinois Tillage Seminar Jan. 26 in the Pere Marquette Hotel, Peoria. This will be a change to a one-day activity from regional seminars in recent years. The program will focus on the critical role various tillage practices play in determining soil conditions and making corn and soybean enterprises profitable, especially given two years of wet weather. The program, featuring state and nationally recognized speakers, will run from 8:50 a.m. to 3 p.m. with registration starting at 8 a.m. The registration deadline is Jan. 19 and will be handled on a first-come, first-served basis. Topics will include: managing soils after saturation, vertical tillage, cover crops’ role in soil

management, conservation field drainage, soil and water erosion and flooding monitoring, and on-farm tillage management. Details and on-line registration will be available at { r}, and interested persons should monitor that website. Registration also will be handled by mail. The registration fee is $25. Co-sponsors include the University of Illinois Extension, Soil and Water Conservation Districts, the Natural Resources Conservation Service, the Association of Illinois Soil and Water Conservation Districts, and the Illinois Department of Agriculture. For more information, contact John Church, Extension natural resources educator, at 815-395-5710.

FarmWeek Page 11 Monday, November 9, 2009



South American crops coming to forefront The late U.S. harvest will cause uncertainty over the size of our crops to drag into the January USDA reports and maybe even beyond, depending on the outcome of the Dec. 1 soybean stocks number. But in the oilseed complex, the focus is increasingly on South American crops. As is typical, the initial expectations for those crops started at a high level. Analysts talk about increased acreage in Argentina and Brazil, along with good yield prospects. Brazilian planting is thought to be 35 percent complete, with progress further along in the northern states. The No. 1 producer, Mato Grosso, is 64 percent done, well ahead of normal. Moisture supplies are good in Brazil for this time of year.

Basis charts

The wet season seems to have started a little earlier than usual. Moisture supplies are reasonably good across much of the center-west areas where planting has progressed the most for this time of year. Farther south, moisture is even better. We also are being told producers are planting more “early-season” soybeans this year to take advantage of the premium being paid for early-harvested crops. That could shift export business away from the U.S. sooner than normal. With yield expectations relatively high, and moisture in the main areas still a little on the dry side, there’s potential for a crop scare at some time. And, there is a tendency for centerwest areas in Brazil to be dry during an El Nino. Argentine planting is only 12 percent complete, less than the 18 percent that is normal. More importantly, producers there are still experiencing lingering drought in some of their producing areas. September rains hinted the last year’s drought might finally be ending. But October’s rains were as much as 1-2 inches below normal. Given the high initial yield expectations, disappointing rains, and slow early plantings, there’s reason to think there could be a crop scare before a large crop is assured. And, given the odds don’t favor another poor crop from South America, crop scare rallies should be used for making sales. Still, anything is possible. Who would have guessed we would have two wet springs in a row in the U.S.? AgriVisor endorses crop insurance by

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Cents per bu.

2009 crop: We are inclined to think the 7-weekcycle low may have been seen early last week. Still, upside potential may be capped by supplies finally entering the pipelines. Downside risk below $3.50 on December futures appears limited. Wait for strength before making a sale, even if you need to price corn for harvest delivery. If December futures rally to $4.25, boost sales to 50 percent. Check the Cash Strategist Hotline frequently for changes. Because of the large futures carry, a hedge-to-arrive contract for an April/May/June delivery may be the best pricing strategy. If you are a cash seller, be sure to check forward bids, too. Fundamentals: FC Stone group expects a 13.004billion-bushel crop in this week’s report, with Informa looking for a 13.064-billionbushel crop. Even with a big crop, we don’t see supplies overwhelming the market with dryer capacity limiting the harvest pace.

Soybean Strategy 2009 crop: We continue to see little reason to sell soybeans at lower prices. Good weather was the key that undermined prices last week. The market may act hesitant around the Nov. 10 USDA report, but price cycles are due to bottom at any time, if they haven’t already. Good demand should provide a floor for prices, especially if production estimates aren’t increased. Continue to target a move to $10.90 on January futures to boost sales to 50 percent. Check the Cash Strategist Hotline frequently as we could adjust targets at any time. Fundamentals: Given last week’s weather, harvest should have gotten to at least 65 percent. The end still may be slow, but there’s now enough in the pipeline to satisfy demand. There is some talk about quality issues in export circles, but we’ve yet to see an impact on business. South American crops are becoming more important,

but with large crop expectations, short changes could give prices a temporary lift.

Wheat Strategy 2009 crop: The longterm trend in wheat remains positive, with the short term trade appearing to have turned into a choppy, sideways correction. Use rallies to $5.50 on Chicago December futures for catch-up sales. Target a move near $5.70 on the December as point to consider making additional sales. 2010 crop: We are con-

sidering an initial sale if Chicago July futures approach $6.50. Fundamentals: There is no doubt soft red wheat acres will be significantly reduced this fall because of the slow row-crop harvest. The latest weekly crop progress report showed that only 35 percent of the crop in Illinois had been planted vs. the five-year average of 92 percent. Still, the large supply of wheat in the world and slow pace of exports is keeping a lid on price expectations. Crop conditions in India could be important over the winter months.

FarmWeek Page 12 Monday, November 9, 2009


Butterflies have own version of TV’s ‘The Bachelorette’ From 1965 until 1973, ABC television aired a show called “The Dating Game.” The show was based on the idea of having an eligible female “bachelorette” select a man for a date from among three candidates. The concept of the show appeared again as “The Bachelorette,” but this time the stakes were higher. The bachelorette wasn’t just selecting someone for a date — she was picking a husTOM TURPIN band! At least that is how the show was touted. So far, only the first bachelorette has managed to tie the knot with her reality TV show selection. Mate selection is not just a human thing. Far from it. While animals don’t have such things as dating and matchmakers, they do frequently play a mating game. Butterflies, for instance, find mates in much the same way demonstrated on “The Bachelorette” TV show. In both cases, it is the female who makes the mate selection. As biologists are fond of saying, “In the animal mating game, it is the male who pursues; it is the female who selects.”

So how does female mate selection work with butterflies? It goes something like this: Butterfly courtship behavior of the male normally begins with the release of pheromones. Pheromones are chemicals that other members of the species can smell and that elicit certain behaviors on the part of the receiving animal. Pheromones could be called chemical messen-

gers. For instance, some pheromones are called alarm pheromones because they will cause the animal to flee from danger, or in the case of honey bees, to attack and sting. Ants use such chemicals to mark trails to and from food sources. In the insect world, pheromones are widely used by butterflies and moths as mate attractants. In moths it is the female of the species that commonly produces pheromones. The female moth will release the pheromone in a process named “calling” by scientists. Male moths will detect the pheromone and follow the

scent toward the source, which in this case is a female moth in search of a mate. However, in butterflies the male and female roles are often reversed, and it is the male who produces the pheromone. But the function is still the same — to attract females. It has been shown that humans also produce chemicals that function as pheromones. But we prefer to wash off our natural pheromones and replace them with “store-bought” odors that we call perfumes. The butterfly courtship frequently involves male butterflies pursuing female butterflies in an upward, spiraling dance. Sometimes several male butterflies will be engaged in the pursuit of a single female. Each of the males is releasing pheromones and jostling with other males in an effort to get closest to the female. Ultimately, in the butterfly mating game, the guy who wins the girl is the strongest with the best odor. So “The Bachelorette” and reality TV in general have nothing on nature. Tom Tur pin is a professor of entomology at Purdue University, West Lafayette, Ind. His e-mail is tur

Farmers are feeding the world — but for how long? Sometimes when I think about the past, I fear for the future. The Chinese were once the world’s greatest seafarers. A few people even think they reached the west coast of North America before Columbus sailed. But then the emperor banned foreign travel. JIM MCCARTHY The Islamic guest columnist people once led the world in math and science. But then their culture embraced fundamentalism. Today in Europe, our own civilization threatens to turn back the clock on progress. While much of the rest of the planet adopts agricultural biotechnology — an absolutely essential tool if we’re to achieve food security in the 21st Century — the foolish antics of European Green Party activists would lead us toward a future of poverty and hunger. Before that happens, you’ll be hearing from me. This is one of the most important battles of our time. We cannot stay silent. I farm on three continents. In my native Ireland, I work 1,100 acres, growing wheat for pigs and poultry. In Argentina, I’m managing director of a 31,000-acre

operation that harvests corn, soybeans, and wheat. In the United States in southwest Missouri, I’m an investor in a dairy farm. So my experience as a farmer is global. I’ve observed the best practices in very different environments. Unfortunately, I’ve also witnessed worst practices. A bullheaded refusal to take advantage of biotechnology is probably the very worst practice around. In Ireland, the situation is so bad that we aren’t even allowed to research genetic modification in crops. Forget about planting them for commercial benefit, the way farmers do all the time in North and South America. In Ireland, it’s illegal for researchers to conduct experiments. Do you realize what this means? They’ve outlawed scientific inquiry! Ireland tries to take pride in building what it calls a “knowledge-based economy.” When it comes to biotech crops, however, Ireland is in a headlong retreat from knowledge. Our government prefers ignorance. Argentina is the exact opposite. Farmers in that country, including me when I’m working there, are

allowed to grow genetically modified crops. It gives them a big boost in yield and soil protection. Ironically, Ireland has the better business reputation. Each year, the World Bank calculates the ease of doing business around the world, using quantitative measurements on start-ups, regulations, taxes, and so forth. This year, Ireland ranks seventh. Argentina is No. 118. The United States, by the way, is fourth. Yet I much prefer the business of farming in Argentina. It’s a dream place for agriculture. I’m not just referring to the climate. I’m thinking about how hard farming has become in Ireland, or just about anywhere else in Europe. The Argentine government doesn’t try to tell me what I can and cannot grow based upon deliberate ignorance. It lets me make my own decisions. If I were a younger man, I’d be tempted to move permanently to Argentina. But Ireland is home. It nevertheless saddens me to see a vocal minority of Green Party activists throttle the future of farming in Ireland. There are about as many people in Ireland as there are

in Oregon — a bit less than 4 million. The world adds roughly this number of people to its total population every three weeks or so. The demand for food never has been higher — and if current trends continue, it will continue to set new records every year for the rest of my life. It will take Irish farmland — and existing farmland everywhere — to meet this need. Europe must do its part to produce more and use its influence, especially in Africa, to encourage biotechnology. The policy of refusing to take GM crops seriously sets us up for an awful tragedy. Maybe there’s some good

news ahead. Recently, the Royal Society, the United Kingdom’s National Academy of Science, released a report that calls for the acceptance of genetic modification on the farm. Let’s hope for a better future, so our present doesn’t become a past we come to regret. Jim McCarthy, a first-generation farmer based in Kildare, Ireland, farms in Europe, South America, and North America. He is the 2009 Kleckner Trade and Technology Advancement Award recipient and a member of the Truth About Trade & Technology Global Farmer Network at {}.

“Some days I just don’t feel bullish.”

FarmWeek November 9 2009  
FarmWeek November 9 2009  

FarmWeek November 9, 2009 edition