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CHINA’S DECISION last week to lift its H1N1-related ban on U.S. pork was viewed as a positive step, but an immediate impact is not expected. ...............................2

A RECORD PERCENTAGE of Illinois cropland acres was far med with conser vation tillage last year, according to a new survey. ................................3

FARM BUREAU opposes a House bill that would require compulsory national health insurance and a government-run insurance option. .................................4

Monday, November 2, 2009

Two sections Volume 37, No. 44

25x’25: Climate plan lacks ag specifics BY MARTIN ROSS FarmWeek

A major renewable energy alliance last week labeled Senate cap-and-trade legislation “a work in progress,” long on conjecture but short on ag specifics. The Senate Environment and Public Works Committee last week launched hearings on Chairman Barbara Boxer’s (DCalif.) plan to reduce annual greenhouse gas emissions 80 percent by 2050. The measure would cap emissions by an estimated 7,500 energy providers, refineries, and companies nationwide. The group 25x’25 noted the Kerry-Boxer plan fails to explicitly exclude U.S. agriculture and forestry from proposed emission caps. Nor does it specifically enable producers to market emissions “offsets” to regulated industries at a level needed to meet a goal of reducing annual greenhouse gas emissions to 20 percent below 2005 levels by 2020, the group said. The measure’s offsets title “falls far short of ensuring an operationally viable program,” 25x’25 Policy Committee Chairman Bart Ruth argued. According to the former

American Soybean Association president, lawmakers must fully address biological sequestration (use of trees and crops to trap carbon dioxide) if they hope to generate short-term, low-cost offsets “in the quantity expected and at the prices desired.” House cap-and-trade proposals spearheaded by House Ag Committee Chairman Collin Peterson (D-Minn.) would charge USDA with determining eligible ag offsets and recognize ag carbon offset practices adopted as far back as 2001. The Boxer plan empowers the White House to authorize which agencies identify offsets and pinpoints no eligible crop practices, though Boxer claims her bill includes an agricultural “placeholder.” Peterson’s provisions “raised the level of comfort considerably” for farmers, Ruth said. However, he believes the final package should go further,” warning “when things are left open to interpretation by those drafting rules and regulations, there’s always room for mischief.”

“There’s a lot of conjecture about what (cap-and-trade legislation) can do for agriculture, but until we can see specifics drafted into legislation, I think people across rural America are going to be very reluctant to be supportive of the legislation,” Ruth told FarmWeek. “It’s important we recog-

“permanence” standards for carbon sequestration practices; allowances for accidental carbon “leakage” (through fires, disease, and the like); program risk management; liability protections for both offset buyers and sellers; and one-to-one offset-to-allowance “equivaSee Climate, page 4

ANOTHER USE FOR SOY

Justin Kurdi with Prairie State Insulation sprays soy foam insulation in the attic of Rodger Sprague’s DeWitt County home. The back of drywall to the right has yet to receive a foam coating. The foam expands once it is applied. Sprague chose soy foam to make his new home energy efficient and to increase demand and markets for soybeans. See story on page 8. (Photo by Cyndi Cook)

CAFO concerns: EPA ramping up focus with inspections BY KAY SHIPMAN FarmWeek

Periodicals: Time Valued

nize things we’re already doing that are having a huge impact. Part of that is reduction of energy being consumed. We’re doing a great job with no-till and all the other fuel-saving practices we’re engaged in.” According to 25x’25, senators must set down specifics on environmentally acceptable

Livestock producers should be aware the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) plans to step up enforcement of the Clean Water Act include concentrated animal feeding operations (CAFOs), according to an environmental specialist with the American Farm Bureau Federation (AFBF). Don Parrish, AFBF senior director for regulatory relations, referred to recent congressional testimony by EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson. Jackson outlined a plan to address “water pollution challenges” caused by numerous sources, such as CAFOs, sewer overflows, contaminated water from industrial facilities, construction sites, and urban street runoff. Parrish said producers should be prepared for inspections by state agency or

regional EPA personnel. “Livestock enforcement is a high (EPA) priority,” he said. Last week, the Illinois Environmental Protection Agency (IEPA) issued a general state permit to implement national CAFO regulations within Illinois. Producers had faced a Feb. 27, 2009, deadline to apply for a National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) permit even though the permit procedure hadn’t been finalized. Throughout the permit development process, the Illinois Farm Bureau had raised concerns and submitted comments about the permit to IEPA. IEPA’s latest general permit issuance stems from EPA revisions to the Clean Water Act more than six years ago. Other states also have been struggling. After nearly a year-long legal challenge, Maryland recently announced it will issue

FarmWeek on the web: FarmWeekNow.com

a general permit effective Dec. 1. With concerns about disease transmission to their animals, livestock producers are more cautious with biosecurity procedures. According to IEPA, its inspectors are required to follow IEPA biosecurity protocol and follow routine and practical biosecurity procedures. Those practices include wearing clean protective footwear and driving vehicles that have not been to other livestock facilities for an extended period. This fall, livestock producers are facing additional challenges with the delayed harvest and wet weather. “We know about the struggle with manure applications this fall,” said Jim Kaitschuk, executive director of the Illinois Pork Producers Association (IPPA). He encouraged producers with questions to call IPPA at 217-529-3100.

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


FarmWeek Page 2 Monday, November 2, 2009

Quick Takes FUTUREGEN DEAL RISKY PROPOSITION? — FutureGen — the long-delayed, revolutionary coal energy/carbon sequestration project tentatively slated for Mattoon — could cost Illinois tens of millions of dollars more than initially believed, critics of a proposed state plan warn. Illinois lawmakers are considering an arrangement that would require the state to purchase all electricity initially produced at the proposed power plant, which was put back on the drawing board by the administration after being shelved by the previous administration. The facility would operate with near-zero emissions and trap carbon dioxide underground near the plant. It is viewed as crucial to helping existing utilities adapt to proposed new greenhouse emissions caps. Because the facility will be state of the art, it is expected to cost more than a traditional coalburning power plant. Supporters say an Illinois deal would help FutureGen qualify for more than $1 billion in federal grants to help finance its construction. But concern about the impact of the proposal on the state’s budget and/or taxpayers could endanger prospects for final FutureGen approval in January. ESTATE TAX ‘FREEZE’? — Amid Democrat concerns about 2010 elimination of the federal estate tax and Republican concerns about its proposed return at pre-2002 rates in 2011 under current law, Congress reportedly is considering a virtual freeze in estate tax exemptions and rates next year as it ponders a solution. With health care debate dominating the congressional agenda, some on Capitol Hill are predicting a mere extension of the current $3.5-million-per-person exemption and 45 percent top estate tax rate for 2010. Illinois Farm Bureau Director of National Legislation Adam Nielsen reiterated continued support for a bipartisan alternative that would raise the individual exemption to $5 million and lower the top rate to 35 percent. Because the bill would be phased in over a 10-year period, the result would be virtually the same in 2010. “The overall impact on the budget is mitigated because of the 10-year phase-in,” Nielsen argued, addressing Democrat concerns about lost revenues related to estate tax relief. “We’re hoping that bill really picks up traction — it’s the best plan out there.” NOT A WHEAT CONVERGENCE FIX? — A proposal to allow variable storage rates at grain facilities likely would not fix the lack of convergence between wheat futures and cash prices, according to Gary Gensler, chairman of the Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC). The CME Group has backed a plan that would allow storage rates at grain facilities eligible for delivery to change based on the price difference between futures contracts. However, Gensler at a CFTC Agricultural Advisory Committee meeting last week expressed concern about whether the plan to implement variable storage rates would address the fundamental issue with the wheat contract, Reuters News Agency reported. Gensler reportedly urged the CFTC committee to explore other options, such as using cash-settled contracts or moving the delivery points, to improve the convergence issue.

(ISSN0197-6680) Vol. 37 No. 44

November 2, 2009

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

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

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EMERGING ISSUES

Senators want redistricting reforms to be considered Republican committee members pushed for “meaningful independence” between those who Republican members of the Illinois Senate draw the legislative boundaries and the politiRedistricting Committee last week urged the cians who will run for seats determined by state to change its process for drawing legthose lines. islative boundaries. “The politicians should not be allowed to The committee chairman, meanwhile, draw the (district) lines in which they will latsaid such proposals would be consider run,” Sen. Dale Righter (R-Mattoon) ered in the usual legislative process. said. During the fall veto session, ComThe timing also is right for redistrictmittee Chairman Sen. Kwame Raoul ing reform, the senators noted. (D-Chicago) said, “We’ll consider “If people in Illinois want to know proposals as they are referred to this why redistricting is important to them, Read views committee. The same as we consider you will never see change in this Capiall proposals in committee ... I don’t on redistricting tol building until there is redistricting intend this committee to be a tool to — page 16 reform,” said Sen. Kirk Dillard (Rblock proposals.” Hinsdale). The Redistricting Committee took testimony The redrawing of legislative districts will in what may be its final hearing last week after begin in 2011 after the 2010 census. A constituhearings in Chicago, Springfield, and Peoria tional amendment would be required to change over the past three months. the redistricting process.

BY KAY SHIPMAN FarmWeek

China to remove ban on U.S. pork BY DANIEL GRANT FarmWeek

China’s decision last week to lift its H1N1-related ban on U.S. pork was a “positive development” for struggling producers, according to Phil Borgic, president of the Illinois Pork Producers Association (IPPA). China, which implemented the ban in April when H1N1 was conPhil Borgic firmed in the U.S., was the third-largest importer of U.S. pork in 2008, purchasing 400,000 metric tons of pork valued at nearly $690 million. “This is good news for U.S. pork producers,” said Don Butler, president of the National Pork Producers Council. “China is by far the largest potential money-making opportunity for the U.S. pork industry.” Borgic agreed the reopening of the Chinese market is crucial to taking U.S. pork exports back to record levels of 2007-08 when nearly onefourth of all U.S. pork was sold outside the country. But he cautioned his fellow producers not to expect immediate results. China during negotiations with U.S. Trade Representative Ron Kirk, Ag Secretary Tom Vilsack, and Commerce Secretary Gary Locke did not establish a time frame for when it will resume purchases of U.S. pork. “It’s a positive development after a lengthy process,” Borgic said. “But, until we see

orders from China, this (decision to lift the H1N1-related ban) won’t affect the prices we receive” for hogs in the U.S. Hog prices in the past year plummeted by $30 to $40 per head due to the combination of the worldwide recession and confusion caused by the H1N1 outbreak, which originally was mislabeled “swine flu” even though the virus is not related to pork consumption, according to Borgic, a hog producer from Nokomis. Borgic believes most consumers now know that pork consumption is safe and is not related to H1N1. However,

the key to boosting pork exports back to record levels could be economic recovery around the world. Pork prices “have been affected by the economic slowdown as there has been a cutback in overall meat consumption,” the IPPA president said. A revitalized export market is “very important” to reversing the trend, he said. Borgic previously specialized in sales of weaned pigs but said he started finishing some of the animals due to a loss of customers. The change in production systems roughly doubled the capital requirements on his farm.

Quinn makes appointment to Commerce Commission Gov. Pat Quinn last week appointed John Colgan to the Illinois Commerce Commission. Colgan had been vice president for public policy for the Illinois Association of Community Action Agencies. He will fill the vacancy left by Robert Lieberman. Colgan has more than 30 years experience in community organizing and administration. In 2004, he co-authored the Affordable Energy Plan, which was used as the basis for the new Illinois Percentage of Income Payment Plan that helps lowincome families, seniors, and others pay their utility bills. The Commerce Commission is a bridge between consumers and Illinois’ utility companies.


FarmWeek Page 3 Monday, November 2, 2009

CONSERVATION

Conservation practices lowering erosion rates BY KAY SHIPMAN FarmWeek

Conservation practices have significantly reduced erosion in the Illinois River watershed over the last 15 years, according to an Illinois Department of Agriculture (IDOA) official. Alan Gulso, an IDOA land and water resource specialist, reported on 2009 conservation survey results. Since 1994, IDOA and Soil and Water Conservation Districts have surveyed tillage practices and soil losses across the state. Speaking at the recent Illinois River Conference, Gulso focused on sur-

U of I awarded water quality research funds The University of Illinois recently was awarded $660,000 for water quality research through USDA’s National Integrated Water Quality Program (NIWQP). Illinois, one of 12 states awarded new 2009 funding to address critical water issues, received the maximum funding amount and was the largest grant recipient for a single initiative. Mark David, U of I biogeochemistry professor, will be the main researcher on the USDA-funded research project. David had a principal role in a Council on Food and Agricultural Research (C-FAR) project on water nutrient standards. The U of I project will focus on reducing nitrate losses in tile-drained agricultural watersheds. The research team indicates scientists will work with an active watershed group in all phases of the project. The C-FAR nutrient standards research and an earlier C-FAR water quality project allowed U of I scientists to develop a formidable proposal to compete for national research dollars, David said. George Czapar, water quality coordinator for U of I Extension, provided leadership for the C-FARfunded water quality standards project. Czapar, who will participate in the USDA-funded project, attributed the success of the nutrient standards project to awarding of national funding.

vey data collected from more than Within the watershed, soybean declined to 36 percent from 64 per20,000 fields within the river wateracres in conventional tillage dropped cent. shed. When the first survey was “The real story is taken, the overall average erothat more than 50 persion rate for the watershed was cent of soybeans are ‘The realy story is that more than 50 2.5 tons per acre. This year, the planted with no-till in average had decreased percent of soybeans are planted with overall the Illinois River waterto 2 tons per acre. no-till in the Illinois River watershed.’ shed,” Gulso reported. Gulso calculated the reducThis compares to tion in average erosion was about 30 percent no-till — Alan Gulso about 5 million tons on the 10 Illinois Department of Agriculture soybean fields in 1994. million to 10.7 million cropland “The amount of acres in the watershed. conventional tillage has dropped sigto 8 percent in 2009 from 39 percent He attributed the reduction in pernificantly since 1994 in the waterin 1994. During the same period, acre erosion to a decline in sheet and shed,” he said. corn acres under conventional tillage rill erosion.

Illinois farmers using more conservation tillage Illinois farmers increasingly are farming the conservation way. A record percentage of Illinois cropland acres, 49.9 percent, was farmed with conservation tillage last year, according to a statewide survey released last week by the Illinois Department of Agriculture (IDOA). IDOA, Soil and Water Conservation Districts, and the USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service started the soil erosion and crop tillage survey in 1994. “Conservation tillage is good for the environment because it prevents soil ero-

sion and improves water quality,” said Illinois Agriculture Director Tom Jennings. Since 1994, farmers’ use of conservation tillage has increased from 32 percent up to Tom Jennings 49.9 percent on all cropland acres. Conservation tillage leaves at least 30 percent crop residue on the ground after planting. In addition, Illinois farmers have reached tolerable soil loss or T on 85 percent

of cropland acres. No-till farming is the most widespread conservation practice, applied on 29.2 percent of all cropland acres. IDOA officials point to the large percentage, 48.8 percent, of no-till soybean acres compared to 13.2 percent of no-till corn acres. However, overall no-till acres declined slightly compared to the 51 percent in 2006, the previous survey year. “The number of no-till acres actually declined, probably because this spring was so wet,” said Alan Gul-

so, IDOA land and water resources specialist. Some farmers opted to switch from no-till to mulch till in an attempt to dry out saturated fields and get a crop planted, Gulso said. The survey recorded a 6 percent increase in mulch-till acres this year. Illinois experienced the ninth wettest April-July period this year. During those four months, state rainfall totals were 20.94 inches — 4.74 inches above average. Survey data were collected last spring and summer from more than 50,000 fields across Illinois.

Funding needs surface at Conservation Congress More than 20 recommendations were prioritized under three general topics — funding, public access, and involving youth in outdoor sports and recreation — during the recent Illinois Conservation Congress in Springfield. Stacey Solano, a spokesman for the Illinois Department of Natural Resources (IDNR), said the recommendations mainly are intended for constituent groups. Several of the recommen-

dations would require increased funding, while a couple seek to stabilize funding levels. One recommendation seeks passage of legislation to increase the cost of hunting and fishing licenses and other fees with guarantees that the revenue would be used only for intended purposes. To address public access issues, participants recommended passage of legislation to restore liability pro-

EPA orders 67 pesticides be tested for hormone effects The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) last week issued its first orders for pesticide chemicals to be screened for potential effects on hormones. Endocrine disruptors are chemicals that interact with and disrupt the hormones produced or secreted by human and animal endocrine systems that regulate growth, metabolism, and reproduction.

EPA released a schedule for issuing test orders to manufacturers for 67 chemicals. The data generated are to provide information to help EPA determine whether additional testing is necessary or whether other steps are needed to address potential endocrine-disrupting chemicals. Testing eventually will be expanded to cover all pesticide chemicals.

tection for private landowners who allow recreation on their properties. Another recommendation supports establishing a new program to study ways to expand access on private land, including landowner incentives. Participants also favored a plan to buy more land for public recreation. Generating interest among young people was another general topic. Participants favor working with educators and informing children about

existing outdoor programs and activities. Another recommendation seeks to develop adult-youth mentoring programs with partner organizations. Constituent groups need to take the next steps, Solano said. A complete report, including detailed information on the discussions and recommendations, will be posted on IDNR’s website {http://dnr.state.il.us}. — Kay Shipman

Illinois River report now available online A report summarizing conser vation efforts in the Illinois River Watershed is available online. “A Decade of Changes in the Illinois River Watershed” compiles the scope of conser vation work on far mland and reser ved land enrolled in long-ter m conser vation prog rams. In addition, profiles of individual landowners and their environmental practices and work are featured. Included are color photos and maps of the watershed. To view or download a copy, go to {www.conferences.uiuc.edu/ilriver/Documents/Decade_Chan ges_IllinoisRiverWatershed.pdf}.


FarmWeek Page 4 Monday, November 2, 2009

GOVERNMENT

House unveils health plan; AFBF opposed BY MARTIN ROSS FarmWeek

The emergence of revised U.S. House health care proposals at least indicates “the moderates continue to play a role in the discussion,” according to Illinois Farm Bureau National Legislative Director Adam Nielsen. The new “Affordable Health Care Act for America” introduced last week would create a governmentrun “public option” for uninsured or underinsured Americans and impose new restrictions on private health insurers. The full House may vote on the nearly 2,000-page package this week. Illinois reaction was divided. Rock Island Democrat Rep. Phil Hare said the plan is a significant improvement over original House proposals and “will go a long, long way” toward addressing concerns raised at recent Hareheld town hall meetings. Collinsville Republican Rep. John Shimkus charged House Democrat leaders “want government to control yet another sector of the economy.” The American Farm Bureau Federation (AFBF) opposes the bill because it requires compulsory national health insurance and a government-run insurance option. “We’re going to be reviewing all bills over the coming days and comparing them

with Farm Bureau policy,” Nielsen reported. “We’re opposed to the public option. “We support (health-related) tax credits for businesses and are seeking relief for businesses with temporary or seasonal workers. We’re looking to ensure that any bill maintains quality, affordable access to health care in rural Illinois.” Hare said the new bill would expand coverage for younger Americans, improve long-term insurance options, and end antitrust exclusions for health insurers, but would “not add one penny to the (federal) deficit.” It would exempt small businesses with payrolls of up to $500,000 (vs. $250,000 in the original House plan), and address disparities in Medicare payments that tend to penalize the Midwest, he said. Shimkus argued the measure would impose “additional taxes on businesses — in the form of penalties for not providing health insurance — which many small businesses cannot afford.” Proposals to mandate state Medicaid expansion, regardless of need or funding resources, are “particularly troubling for Illinois, which already struggles to meet its Medicaid obligations,” he said. Meanwhile, Senate health discussion “seems to change

on almost a daily basis,” Nielsen said. Amid conflicting proposals advocating a public option vs. development of health co-ops to extend coverage to consumer

pools, some lawmakers are promoting the idea of allowing states to “opt out” of a public system. Another proposal would allow employees to decline to

accept employer-provided policies in favor of lowercost, streamlined public plans, potentially enabling workers to pocket the difference in cost.

Health care proposals offer hospital therapy Congressional health proposals could (provider) input,” Peters told FarmWeek. improve rural hospital survival rates, but IlliHe urged “resource assistance” to help develnois hospital advocates warn effective treatop high-tech telemedicine/-remote diagnostic ment requires provider flexibilicapabilities that extend access to ty, adequate resources, and an care to rural communities. CAH eye to health “outcomes.” incentive payments for “health ‘A lot more work information technology” are Illinois Critical Access Hospital (CAH) Network Executive needs to be done.’ capped well below those for Director Pat Schou supports promany larger hospitals, Schou posals that allow crucial CAHs — Howard Peters said. now held to 25 or fewer inpatient Current U.S. Senate health Illinois Hospital Association beds year-round to maintain an care proposals would: annual 25-bed average. “If there’s • Extend grants for rural a flu epidemic, they can’t go above services ranging from ambu(the 25-bed limit),” she said. lance transport to local hospiFurther proposals would enable some hospi- tal development and changes in health delivery tals with limited resources but more beds to systems. convert to CAHs. CAHs receive 101 percent of • Ensure small rural hospitals receive added “reasonable” Medicare outpatient service costs Medicare payments if their outpatient reimand improved capital improvement resources. bursements under any new payment system are Illinois Hospital Association Senior Vice less than under the existing system. President Howard Peters reports progress in • Expand to all states a rural demonstration “realigning” incentives for rural providers: Schou program that tests the feasibility of CAH-style notes discussion of “bonus payments” for rural reimbursements for non-CAH hospitals. Illiprimary care practitioners and surgeons. nois currently does not participate. But he sees much work to be done in terms • Extend support for rural hospitals with a of local demonstration projects needed to test high proportion of Medicare patients. rural incentives and innovations. • Reinstate a 3 percent add-on payment for “A lot more work needs to be done as it rural home health care providers for 2010-15. relates to creating accountable care organiza• Expand study into the adequacy of tions where you can realign incentives so that Medicare payments for rural providers. — the focus is on (patient) outcome rather than Martin Ross

Land use change theories lack scientific ‘maturity’ Lawmakers must “park” theories about indirect biofuels impact until science can catch up with reality, a renewable fuels advocate and producer maintains. House cap-and-trade proposals delay for five years the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s use of indirect land use change (ILUC) considerations in evaluating future federal biofuels support. Bart Ruth, Policy Committee chairman with the renewable energy alliance 25x’25, argued the Senate must follow suit and suspend land use speculation that threatens to penalize corn-based ethanol and soy biodiesel growth. Draft legislation by the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee currently includes no such provisions. ILUC provisions

included in 2007’s update of the federal renewable fuels standard were enacted “without the benefit of mature and defensible scientific study,” Ruth maintained. Ruth, former president of the American Soybean Association, acknowledged there is an expanding portfolio of biodiesel feedstocks, including alternative oilseed crops, animal fats, and waste grease. That further reduces what he argues is an already inflated perception of soy biodiesel’s land displacement-carbon footprint. “The House did a fairly decent job of setting this issue aside until we get better science and fully understand what’s happening with land use,” he told FarmWeek. “It’s imperative the Senate do the same. “We need to make sure

we’re using sound science, and not basing (regulations) on hearsay. I think land use changes are far less extensive than a lot of people think. The idea that every time we increase the demand for soybean oil we’re damaging rainforests in South America defies logic.” Ruth’s concerns came in the wake of a new U.S. Marine Biological Laboratory report that suggests cellulosic biofuels production will displace food production and pasture use and will account for more than half of the world’s total nitrous oxide emissions from fertilizer by 2100. The report argues policymakers have miscalculated biofuels impacts, raising some suggestions that Congress revise climate provisions regarding potential credits for bioenergy. — Martin Ross

Climate Continued from page 1 adequately compensated. Sen. Debbie Stabenow (D-Mich.) is expected soon to introduce proposals directing USDA and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to create an offset program within a year and develop a registry of approved credits. Stabenow favors having agencies focus first on offset practices “that present the fewest technical challenges and greatest certainty of net atmospheric benefits,“ such as forestry and agriculture. Stabenow serves on Senate Energy, Agriculture, and Finance committees, and Ruth suggests she may be able to push ag safeguards “probably beyond even what Congressman Peterson was able to accomplish.” He stressed Senate Ag Chairman Committee Blanche Lincoln (D-Ark.) also has a major role to play. Last week, Lincoln stressed, “You can’t do climate change legislation without agriculture.” Lincoln, who plans hearings on the measure’s ag input-food price impacts by year’s end, argues passage of a plan by Thanksgiving, in time for December’s global climate conference in Copenhagen, is unrealistic. Because of Senate Environment rules, committee Republicans opposed to the bill potentially could delay floor debate until 2010.


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PRODUCTION More rain pounds state

Harvest halts as soil conditions continue to deteriorate BY DANIEL GRANT FarmWeek

Farmers were able to dodge the raindrops and harvest some crops early last week, but a monsoon-like storm Thursday and Friday left most combines either sitting in the shed or stuck in the field. Harvest in Illinois as of the first of last week was just 14 percent complete for corn and 33 percent complete for soybeans. It is the slowest harvest pace for soybeans and second-slowest corn harvest on record, according to the National Agricultural Statistics Service state office. “The soil conditions are more concerning at this point than the grain moisture levels,” said Rock Katschnig, a farmer from Henry County. “We have water standing between the rows. “The ground is going to have to be frozen before you can

drive a combine over it,” he continued. “We could be looking at January before we can cut soybeans (in low-lying fields).” Rainfall in Illinois for October, as of Friday morning, totaled 8.35 inches (5.6 inches above normal), according to Jim Angel, state climatologist with the Illinois State Water Survey. As of Friday, this was the second-wettest October on record, based on the preliminary numbers, behind only the 9.23 inches of precipitation recorded in 1941. “I’m not sure if we’ll beat the record, but we’ll come close,” Angel said Friday morning as rain continued to fall at some locations. “There still is rain on the radar.” Some locations already had set new records for local rainfall for the month. Angel reported Edwardsville endured 16 days in

October with some measurable rainfall. As of Friday, that area’s rainfall totaled 11.5 inches. “That’s four times the normal rainfall and double the number of days with rain,” he said. “It’s no wonder farmers are having trouble getting in the fields.” The weather forecast for the first half of this month looks a little more favorable, Angel said. And farmers are going to have to take advantage of every opportunity to get the crops out, according to Rob Elliott, president of the Illinois Corn Growers Association. “The window (for in-field drying) is getting away from us” as the days are getting shorter and temperatures are getting cooler, Elliott said. “The corn has been extremely wet for the most part but, at this stage, people don’t have a choice. No matter what the moisture is,

High-moisture crops lower farm returns High moisture readings in corn and soybeans this year have done more than slow harvest. The situation literally is cutting into farmer returns at the elevator. Rock Katschnig, a Henry County farmer, last week told FarmWeek he was docked 30 cents per bushel on a load of soybeans due to highmoisture discounts. “When I drive away from the terminal and the discount is 30 cents on a load (of soybeans) that tested at 14.1 percent moisture, that’s a little disheartening,” Katschnig said. Unfortunately, discounts due to high moisture readings have become commonplace this year, according to Jeff Adkisson, executive vice president of the Grain and Feed Association of Illinois. “This year, because the moisture levels are so much higher, the numbers (of discounts) are bigger than what they have been in the past,” Adkisson said. “We’re very frustrated by this harvest season as well.” Katschnig expressed additional frustration that some elevators apply discounts of 10 cents

for every half percentage point of moisture and round the numbers up to the next highest point. He suggested elevators dock moisture for each tenth of a percentage point so in his recent example the soybeans he delivered at 14.1 percent moisture (1.1 percent above the optimum 13 percent) would’ve been docked 22 cents per bushel instead of being rounded up to 30 cents. “This isn’t something new, and in a normal year, the only time we have a concern (with moisture discounts) is early in the season,” Katschnig said. “But it’s going to amount to millions of dollars this fall with the excessive moisture conditions.” Adkisson said many country elevators are simply passing on the discounts they incur from end-users. “We’d encourage producers, since (discounts) are driven by the marketplace, to shop around to see where they can get the best deal,” he said. Otherwise, about the only other options for farmers are to dry their grain on the farm or let it remain in the field and hope for natural drying conditions. — Daniel Grant

Technology could ramp up yield improvements BY MARTIN ROSS FarmWeek

A biomedical research innovation is expected to help a major crop genetics company more quickly boost farm yields and protect producers from the ravages of pests and weather. Syngenta Ventures, Syngenta’s new venture capital subsidiary, announced last week it was investing in Metabolon, a privately held biotech company that focuses on metabolomics — the study of the so-called chemical “footprints” left behind by cellular activity. Metabolon focuses primarily on biomedical applications such as early disease diagnosis. But its technology will enable Syngenta to “look deeply into the cells of plants,” identifying biochemical changes that occur at various development stages or under crop stress, Syngenta head of crop genetics research Roger Kemble told FarmWeek. Researchers can then “work backwards” to identify and potentially modify genes that control those changes. By expediting or redirecting reactions or preventing them from occurring, scientists can produce varieties tolerant to drought or other stressors. “This is enhancing our knowledge of what’s going on in a plant when it’s subjected to stresses that will not enable you to achieve the yield

potential the plant has,” Kemble said. “We’ve been flying in the dark for a long time now, not really understanding what goes on in plant cells. “It’s easy to see how insects stress a plant — they bite holes in the leaves. When you look at the complex stresses like drought, heat, or cold, they’re all due to biochemical changes that are going on in the cell. “Unless you find out what these biochemical changes are, you really can’t approach changing them and producing higher-yielding plants.” Metabolomics research also could aid in charting plant reactions to crop chemical applications and assist in the development of new protection products, Kemble said. The scientist believes a doubling of corn yields over the next 40 years is “achievable.” Syngenta hopes by 2011 to release corn hybrids with a non-GMO “water optimization” trait that Kemble said could contribute up to 25 percent yield recovery under drought conditions. Syngenta’s Viptera trait could help address concerns at the opposite end of the spectrum, where Illinois producers currently find themselves. Viptera offers resistance to a broad spectrum of lepidopteran insects, but it also reduces incidence of aflatoxin, fumonisin, and other fungal contaminations related to insect damage and moisture.

they’ve got to go get it.” Elliott said corn moisture in his area last week remained as high as 25 to 30 percent. The

huge demand for grain drying services has created lines and early shutdowns at some grain facilities, he added.


FarmWeek Page 6 Monday, November 2, 2009

CROPWATCHERS Bernie Walsh, Durand, Winnebago County: More of the same with very difficult harvesting conditions, to say the least. We were able to combine beans last Sunday (Oct. 25), then it rained 0.6 of an inch Monday (Oct. 26). We started combining corn on Tuesday (40 percent moisture), more on Wednesday and Thursday (closer to 30 percent those days), and 0.5 of an inch of rain fell Thursday night. There were reports of up to 2 inches of rain 10 miles west of us. Southwest Winnebago County has received close to 5 inches in the last seven to eight days. The forecast looks better for this week, and we can only hope November is better than October was. The yields are running very good in both corn and beans with 60-bushel beans fairly common and also 200-bushel corn in most fields. The quality of the corn is going to be a big issue, though, with very low test weight and extremely high moisture. Combines aren’t designed to harvest corn this wet, and dryers take forever to dry it. Leroy Getz, Savanna, Carroll County: The weather is causing havoc with harvesting. Muddy fields, combines getting stuck, grain carts falling into creeks and upsetting, and wet corn that is hard to dry. We have to dry small layers in our bin just to save it from spoiling between harvest delays. A very costly way to dry corn. Rain for the week — more than 2 inches and still falling Friday morning. October total is now at 6.2 inches. Ron Frieders, Waterman, DeKalb County: A few farmers started on corn mid-week, only to be rained out again Thursday afternoon. Corn coming to the elevator was 3237 percent moisture. It had a high percentage of foreign material and 50- to 53-pound test weight. Larry Hummel, Dixon, Lee County: Maybe this week. A little corn was harvested this past week, but not soybeans. Over the past month, we have combined just 10 percent of our corn and 38 percent of our soybeans. At that rate, we won’t finish beans until the middle of December and corn in July. I’ve never done it before, but we are looking at the possibility of running soybeans through the dryer. With no room for soybean storage at our dryer, it would have to be trucked to a different site later, slowing down an already slow pace. Joe Zumwalt, Warsaw, Hancock County: There was little harvest activity in Western Illinois in the past week. A few producers worked on corn for a few days before the rains returned on Thursday and left us with extremely saturated fields. No beans have been cut for more than a week, but the forecast looks promising for this week. Yields continue to be quite good and our moistures have been running around 20 percent in corn. We are a little over half done with the acres we have to cover. Local elevators have been keeping up, but dryers are running at capacity, and there is a risk of them filling with wet corn or soybeans. The weather has allowed them to keep up with drying so far. With any luck, we will be back in the field by the time you’re reading this. Ken Reinhardt, Seaton, Mercer County: More than 2 inches of rain Thursday to Friday morning. There was corn harvested during the week, enough to close even the biggest elevators by Thursday so they could keep up with the dryers. The only soybeans harvested that I know of were at 20 percent moisture. The biggest terminal has dropped the acceptable moisture to 14 percent on beans. There was corn harvested at as high as 40 percent moisture. What I harvested was in 25-27 percent range. I may have to put the snowplow on to plow mud off the roads. There will be lots of filling trucks on the roadway this year.

Ron Moore, Roseville, Warren County: We received another 2 inches of rain last week. We did get some corn harvested in between rains. The moisture is still 26 to 30 percent, and it doesn’t look like it will dry down to normal levels at all. The elevators are doing their best to handle this crop. No soybeans were harvested last week in this area. The forecast this week is for some dry and sunny conditions, so maybe we can get some soybeans done. Jacob Streitmatter, Princeville, Peoria County: October is gone but the same scenario exists: The majority of the soybeans are yet to be harvested and we have not touched the corn crop. The moisture of the corn is not coming down. It is still averaging between 30-35 percent. After Thursday night’s rain, I would estimate the soil conditions to be soupy as they were far from solid before the rain. Our final go date was Nov. 1 on corn. I never thought we would still have soybeans left standing. It’s rumored that the elevators are shutting down before noon because of wet corn, and there are not a lot of people harvesting corn. I hope the sun shines in November because it is getting hard to remember what it looks like. Hopefully, this next week there is a better report. Tim Green, Wyoming, Stark County: Same old thing — rain, rain, rain. Thursday afternoon we got quite a bit of rain. It rained pretty much all Thursday night, and it looked pretty wet out there Friday morning. It wasn’t very dry to begin with. Corn seems to be staying around that 32-33 percent range. The laterplanted corn is even wetter. Not much bean cutting because of all of the rain. People are getting a lot of machinery fixed and a lot of bins ready, but we would like to use them. Have a safe fall. Mark Kerber, Chatsworth, Livingston County: I just poured another 1.5 inches of rain out of the gauge. No soybeans were combined last week and only a small amount of corn. Field conditions are muddy and getting worse. Remember 1972, 1977, and 1993. Livingston County probably has about 60 percent of the soybeans harvested and only 5 percent of corn completed. Looks like a winter harvest coming up. Markets are not paying any attention to fundamentals, only the strength and weakness of the dollar. Ron Haase, Gilman, Iroquois County: Prior to the rain beginning Thursday night, I had received 0.4 of an inch earlier in the week. I received 1.6 of an inch overnight and it is still raining as I wrote this report Friday. We might receive 2 to 3 inches. We harvested corn on Oct. 26, 27, and 29. On Oct. 29 there were a few others harvesting corn as well. We had to find areas where the soil was not too wet to operate. Harvest was brought to a halt by the current rainfall event and the elevator closing due to not taking any more wet corn. The drying rate at the local elevator has been running at less than 30 percent rated capacity. The corn I have harvested still ranges in moisture from 23.6 to 32.3 percent. From what I have selected to harvest, the average moisture remains at 27 percent. Everything I have harvested was planted on or before May 12. We have harvested a little less than 8 percent of our acres (100 percent corn). The local closing prices for Thursday were: $3.55 for nearby corn, $3.58 for December corn, and $9.74 for nearby soybeans. Brian Schaumburg, Chenoa, McLean County: More than 9.5 inches of rain for the month and 6 inches in the last 10 days has stopped everything but the sump pumps. Many National Weather Service stations report that this has been the wettest October since 1941. Harvesting progress is gauged in hours, not days. Mud! Keep your resolve. Corn, $3.61, $3.74 for January; $3.84 for fall 2010; soybeans, $9.65, $9.70 for January, and $9.34 for fall 2010.

Steve Ayers, Champaign, Champaign County: Rain kept field activity to a minimum. A few combines rolled Monday, Wednesday, and Thursday combining corn. Fertilizer floaters were spreading lime or dry fertilizer on corn fields. Last Friday (Oct. 23) we had 0.9 of an inch of rain, then 0.1 of an inch Monday, 0.26 of an inch Tuesday, 0.15 of an inch Thursday and 0.8 of an inch as of 6 a.m. Friday with rain continuing throughout the day. Champaign had 7.31 inches in October before our latest rain. With last night’s 0.8 of an inch, we have had the second-wettest October on record with 8.11 inches. The previous second wettest was 7.78 inches in 1949 and the record wettest was 9.01 inches in 1941. Normal October rain is 2.81 inches. It rained 21 of the 31 days of October. Total precipitation for 2009 has been 42.87 inches here while the average yearly total is 41 inches. The National Agricultural Statistics Service has our crop reporting district with 11 percent corn harvested and 55 percent soybeans harvested. Looks like we may get a few days of running this week. Think safety! Wilfred Dittmer, Quincy, Adams County: Rain, rain, go away. Come again sometime next year. We have had enough for this year after receiving another inch Thursday, which brings our total for October to 6.2 inches. The forecast is for dry weather the next four days so maybe we can come out of our Ark sometime. Needless to say, machinery has been parked since last Saturday (Oct. 24) when a few were able to roll. Everything is pretty wet, including the crops, and they are not drying much in the field or in the bin. Maybe November will be better. Have a safe week. Harry Schirding, Petersburg, Menard County: Rainfall last week, 2.72 inches. Total rainfall for October, 10.25 inches. Normal rainfall for October, 2.6 inches. Harvest resumed for about seven hours on Oct. 25. Little was accomplished since then, and it will be days before we can think about returning. With four times the normal monthly rainfall, the Sangamon River likely will flood low areas. Corn is 10 to 15 percent harvested while soybeans are at 50 percent. Some of the wheat planted this fall likely has drowned out. Corn nearby, $3.64, down 20 cents; soybeans nearby, $9.67, down 25 cents; Corn for January, $3.59, down 22 cents; Soybeans for January, $9.78, down 22 cents. Tom Ritter, Blue Mound, Macon County: Another wet week with very limited field activity. Did get in to do some spotty harvesting around muddy spots and standing water for a day or two, but that quickly came to a halt with rain Thursday afternoon. Probably less than 30 percent of the corn is done in this area. There is still 50 percent of the soybeans to be harvested — if not more — and this is the first of November. This will be the latest that we’ve completed harvest for decades. Corn moisture is still not coming down. Finding very little corn under 25 percent coming out of the fields, creating a major problem not only for on-farm storage trying to dry that down, but overloading elevator capacities with many elevators stopping the dumping of wet corn by 1 p.m. It is definitely going to be a long struggle to get out the remainder of the crop. We need several dry days in a row before we can even be think of harvesting soybeans. Doug Uphoff, Shelbyville, Shelby County: We picked corn for two days and now it looks like we may get another week off. It seems like that’s the way this season has gone so far. Still a lot of crops in the field around here. The elevators are filling up and closing every day. We get to work two days and the elevators close early. This thing is going to be dragged out for awhile. We may be lucky to be done by Christmas. Corn yields are decent. No beans were cut last week and I doubt if they will be cut this week. It’s probably going to have to freeze before we cut many beans in this area. I know everybody is getting discouraged and behind and is trying to hurry and cut corners, but just be careful out there. It doesn’t matter how quickly you get it done if you get killed along the way. May the sun shine this week.


FarmWeek Page 7 Monday, November 2, 2009

CROPWATCHERS Todd Easton, Charleston, Coles County: The calendar has turned saying it is November, but looking across the countryside, it is hard to believe. I never thought I would ever see so many crops still out after Halloween, and I hope it is a once-in-a-lifetime experience. Progress was stop and go once again last week. Corn harvesters started back up over the weekend (Oct. 24-25), stopped again on Tuesday by rain, resumed work on Wednesday and Thursday, until once again more rain fell. Corn moisture has been showing a small improvement — many fields are in the lower 20s, but elevators are still having to limit wet corn deliveries on a regular basis as dryers are pushed to the limit. The remaining soybean crop remained mostly untouched through the week as precipitation came at the wrong times. Among all the limited delivery e-mail notices from elevators, there are pictures of grain dryer fires at both commercial elevators and on farms. Make sure you closely monitor your dryers and clean them out on a regular basis. Jimmy Ayers, Rochester, Sangamon County: As I write this Friday morning, we have received 1.75 inches of rain. The Sangamon River that runs through much of the Sangamon County is in a flash flood warning. Riverton may get quite a bit of water. It was wet most of the week. A few people tried to shell corn in some areas, but as far as getting many of these crops out of the field, it just didn’t happen. Someday it will dry up and we will be wishing for the water, but not right now. The elevators are pretty well caught up, although the moisture doesn’t seem to be dropping much. The corn that was brought in last week was wetter than it was a week earlier. Damage seems to be getting less in the fields. I don’t know whether that is maturity or timing of rains earlier in the season — not exactly sure what is going on there. Damage scales seem to be changing at the major terminals about weekly. Going to have to stay on top of your moisture docks and damage scales throughout the season. David Schaal, St. Peter, Fayette County: The topic around here again last week was rain, rain, and more rain. Bean harvest happened on Sunday and Monday (Oct. 25-26) and then 0.7 of an inch of rain came on Tuesday. Some producers went back to corn on Wednesday and early Thursday until rains moved in again on Thursday. It was still raining Friday morning with 0.5 of an inch in the rain gauge already and quite a bit more rain to come. The corn and beans seem to carry quite a bit of moisture. Mid-20s on up to 30 percent or above. Wheat sowing in the area probably is history. Fields will continue to get softer as we see the rain falling here. Have a safe harvest.

Soybean rust found in more counties than usual BY KEVIN BLACK

According to the USDA ipmPIPE website {http://sbr.ipmpipe.org/cgibin/sbr/public.cgi}, Asian soybean rust has been found in 16 states and 480 counties or parishes in the United States as of Oct. 28. In Illinois, 20 counties have been found to have soybean rust in 2009, but all finds occurred Sept. 29 or later. Illinois also boasts the farthest north 2009

Ted Kuebrich, Jerseyville, Jersey County: Jersey County is still very wet. We had rain on and off all week. The first part of the week there was some harvesting on some hillsides. On Thursday at about 11 a.m. it started to rain and it rained just about all day. Sometimes it rained hard. With all the rain and the wet fields, farmers who do not already have drive axial on the back of their combines are thinking about putting them on. Some of the beans are starting to mold in their pods. By 4:30 a.m. Friday, we had received 4 inches of rain for the week. There was still more rain in the forecast. Prices at Jersey County Grain, Hardin: October corn, $3.66; January corn, $3.77; June 2010 corn, $3.97; October beans, $9.88; January beans, $10; June 2010 beans, $9.65. Dan Meinhart, Montrose, Jasper County: Another wet week. 0.5 of an inch of rain came in early week and another 0.5 of an inch as of 7 a.m. Friday morning, and it was still raining. Very little harvest was done last week. Some of the July-planted beans just matured while others are still green. Corn is running 26-30 percent moisture — some even higher. Wheat sowing is over with very little wheat sowed. The stands are marginal in fields where the wheat has emerged. Most farmers have their own drying and storage facilities for corn. Drying capabilities and soggy grounds will be the limiting factors for a speedy harvest. Most area elevators have not started their dryers up as of yet as most area farmers are concentrating on beans rather than corn. According to the weather forecast, we can hope for a drier period through Thursday. Bob Biehl, Belleville, St. Clair County: Another 3.5 inches of rain so far for the week. The way it was raining Friday, 4 to 4.5 inches of rain is not out of the question. Thursday night’s rain should put us above 12 inches for the month of October. As far as harvest, on Oct. 24-26, we did get some corn shelled with moisture about 21 percent. However, we are down to the last 10 acres of Mayplanted corn. The rest was planted or replanted in June. We are about 25 to 30 percent complete on corn harvest and only 10 percent complete on bean harvest. Looks as if the Chicago Board of Trade has confidence we will get the crops out, though, because the market looked pretty sour again Friday morning.

finds of Asian soybean rust in the U.S. with reports from McDonough and Perry counties. With its late arrival, Kevin Black soybean rust poses absolutely no threat to the soybean crop in the GROWMARK trade areas, even though it is interesting to note that more U.S. counties have been found to have soybean rust this year than ever before. Winter weather is still the

Reports received Friday morning.

principle determinant of how successful soybean rust will be the following season. The broad distribution of soybean rust this fall will have little meaning if cold weather moves into the deep South this winter. Carl Bradley, plant pathologist at the University of Illinois, said soybean rust seems to be shifting slightly in its pathogenicity. Apparently, there have been kudzu populations that historically were not infected by soybean rust but now are. In addition, Bradley and Glen Hartman of USDA’s Agricultural

Rick Corners, Centralia, Jefferson County: I just tallied up the rainfall for October month — 11.6 inches with 4-plus more predicted for Friday and Saturday night. A few tried to shell last week and were leaving belly deep ruts. I think if we get what is predicted, it may be curtains for the harvest. I’ve never see this many crops still in the field on the first of November. This is probably worse than 1984 or 1972. Kevin Raber, Browns, Wabash County: There were several days for harvest this past week. It rained us out Thursday evening and it is still raining as of Friday a.m. Corn seems to have stopped drying in the field. My moisture is between 18 percent and 20 percent. That’s where it was two weeks ago. The elevators seem to be caught up, but I don’t know if they would stay that way if we had a week or more of good harvest weather. I think I’ve given up on sowing wheat this year. This will be my first year ever of not having any wheat in the ground. Dean Shields, Murphysboro, Jackson County: The week gave us only about a day and a half to harvest. I was able to harvest Sunday afternoon and Monday late (Oct. 25-26) and then we got about an inch or better of rain. We had more rain Thursday and the prediction was for 3-4 inches in our area, which would create a terrible amount of flooding in the river bottom lands and areas on our farm. Things are really running slowly here because of the wet weather. The corn does not seem to be drying down and a lot of the guys don’t have the facilities to dry corn like they used to. Everybody is waiting and hoping the weather will clear up so they can get back at harvesting. We’re keeping our spirits up, and we will have to wait to see what this week brings us. The forecast seems to be pretty good. Corn seems to be yielding pretty decent and so are the soybeans. There has not been any additional wheat sown. Ken Taake, Ullin, Pulaski County: It was another wet week here in Pulaski County. We did get in the field over the weekend of Oct. 24-26. We got 0.9 of an inch on Tuesday. We tried to get back in the field on Thursday. We were there until about 10:30 a.m. when we got rained out again, so we got maybe 11 acres done. As I call this in on Friday morning, we’ve had 0.6 of an inch of rain and it is still raining. Not a lot of progress made. I guess every day you get in the field is another day that you got in the field. Looks like it is going to be a slow, wet harvest. Please take time to be careful. I realize harvest is a real struggle, but your family needs you.

Research Service indicated that a kudzu patch in Southern Illinois was confirmed to have been infected by soybean rust. This is the first report of successful soybean rust infection of kudzu in Illinois. Kudzu in Illinois loses its leaves in the fall and, therefore, will not serve as an overwintering host for soybean rust. The presence of soybean rust this late in the season is no reflection of a grower’s skill or ability. Further, the disease is about to lose out to freezing weather.

With this disease, we start over again every year. Depending on how severe our winter, soybean rust often freezes back to a few locations near the Gulf Coast. The principle value to tracking the late-season occurrence of soybean rust in northern locations is that this information helps validate the computer models that are being fine-tuned for rust prediction. Kevin Black is GROWMARK’s insect/plant disease technical manager. His e-mail address is kblack@growmark.com.


FarmWeek Page 8 Monday, November 2, 2009

MARKETS

Soy-based insulation? No brainer for farmer or company BY KAY SHIPMAN FarmWeek

Rodger Sprague’s new home is increasing demand for the soybeans grown on his DeWitt County farm. Truly a case of reaping what you sow. Sprague decided to install soy foam insulation to make Rodger Sprague his house energy efficient and expand his soybean market. “It’s a no brainer. I have a

farm and we grow soybeans. If there’s another market for them, it makes sense,” said Sprague, who also is DeWitt County’s assistant engineer. Soybean oil replaces nearly 97 percent of the petroleum used in other foam insulation, said Erick Kane, owner of Prairie State Insulation, based in Roseville. The soy oil is refined, bleached, and deodorized. Erick Kane “By the time

it gets into the spray foam, it (the oil) has no soy characteristics,” Kane said. Soy insulation has no odor and does not attract rodents or insects, he added. The soy foam insulation usually is less expensive than its petroleum-based counterparts, according to Kane. Although foam insulation costs twice as much as fiberglass insulation, it will pay for itself in three years because it seals all gaps and cracks, he said. Soybean growers can thank themselves for helping to fund research and development of soy oil in foam insulation

through the soybean checkoff. In fact, Kane, then a recent college graduate, first read about soy foam insulation in a soy

FarmWeekNow.com Learn more about the benefits of soy-based insulation at FarmWeekNow.com.

check off publication. That article planted the idea in his mind of marketing soy insulation. “I wanted to find something to help farmers and another way to increase markets for soybeans,” said Kane, whose family farms.

In addition to promoting a soy-based product, Kane helps farmers in a very practical way — insulating their homes and buildings. About 40 percent of his business is installing soy foam insulation in metal buildings, including machine sheds, because the foam adheres to metal, he said. Kane has installed soy insulation in a variety of buildings throughout Northern and Central Illinois. For more information, visit {www.prairiestateinsulation.com} or contact Erick Kane, Prairie State Insulation, 26th St., Roseville, Ill., 61473.

Soy nutrition good for students, producers BY MARTIN ROSS Far mWeek

As Congress eyes the needs of a diverse, nutritionally at-risk student population, Soyfoods Association of North America (SANA) Executive Director Nancy Chapman notes ag efforts literally to “step up to the plate.” In detailing administration priorities under reauthorization of the Child Nutrition Act, Ag Secretary Tom Vilsack cited a new Institute of Medicine study indicating U.S. children eat too few dark green/dark orange vegetables, fr uits, whole grains, and low-fat/non-fat dairy products. That increases risks of diabetes, heart disease, cancer, and other “obesityrelated” conditions, the study warned. The Nutrition Act, renewed every five years, guides school programs that feed more than 31 million children. Chapman notes an expanding focus on “plantbased proteins” in health and education programs. Soy foods cut cholesterol and reduce saturated fats in school menus, and school demand for soy has risen sharply, she told FarmWeek. An upcoming Jour nal of School Health article will detail success in substituting soy foods for popular offerings such as chicken nug gets and burgers in Maryland student taste tests. Soymilk has found acceptance alongside dairy in school cafeterias, especially with federal approval of reimbursement for its use, Chapman said. She cited Vilsack’s

recognition of the need for protein-rich legumes such as soybeans in school diets. Edamame (whole green soybeans) are popping up on school salad bars. “What is good for the children of America can be good for agriculture,” Chapman argued. “Agriculture’s really beginning to step up to the plate to try to find solutions to ensuring kids are getting healthy meals. “Schools are looking for vegetarian alternatives, and there’s a real need for schools to follow (USDA) dietary guidelines. In order to meet guidelines for saturated fats, cholesterol, and calories, one needs to look at including more plant-based protein foods.” The School Nutrition Association reports the number of schools offering vegetarian options has more than doubled over the past year. Beyond lifestyle choices and conditions such as lactose intolerance that limit dairy intake, some cultures embrace a vegetarian diet. Chapman nonetheless stressed use of soy to expand offerings rather than to replace animal protein. The Maryland school study featured soy/beef burgers, and SANA and cattle interests have promoted blended products with reduced fat and cholesterol to keep meat on school menus. SANA, meanwhile, is pushing to credit more soybased items as federally “reimbursable meals.” For example, some tofu-based foods are not eligible for school reimbursements, based on USDA protein content standards.

Ag/food industry partners helping keep soy oil in schools A dietitian on the front lines of federal nutrition policy applauds soybean and food industry “partners” with helping keep soy oil on school menus. Soy oil offers a nutritionally “terrific composition,” rich in beneficial essential fatty acids, according to Nancy Chapman, executive director with the Soyfoods Association of North America and a registered dietitian. However, concerns about potentially harmful “trans fatty” acids in processed soy oil and federal requirements for labeling of trans fats in foods have raised grower concerns, despite soy oil’s low saturated fat and other benefits. USDA has recommended schools begin eliminating products with trans fat or serving them less often. With assistance from the United Soybean Board and others, manufacturers have explored chemical, enzyme, and blending processes that reduce trans fat content in cooking oils and food ingredients. At the same time, biotech/crop research has produced a variety of soybean traits aimed at further improving soy oil’s nutritional profile. A major success story is Vistive, Monsanto’s line of low-linolenic soybean varieties that

require little or no hydrogenation — the process that causes higher trans fat levels in oil. The St. Louis company has partnered with Cargill in contracting Midwest Vistive production, and Kellogg’s and KFC are among those using Vistive-based oils. Pioneer is seeking USDA approval for release of beans with Plenish, a biotech higholeic trait. And Monsanto and soy food concern Solae announced last week the U.S. Food and Drug Administration had issued a “Generally Recognized as Safe” notice approving development and testing of foods containing a new heart-healthy omega-3 soy oil. “The food industry in general has taken this seriously — they’ve done a lot of innovation in the products that are available to restaurants,” Chapman told FarmWeek. “Probably 30 or 40 metropolitan areas have banned use of trans-fatty acids, and when restaurants do that nationwide, you create a demand for these kinds of products. “That spills over to school lunches. Many of the schools have put into place this same need for very low trans fatty acid products.” — Martin Ross


FarmWeek Page 9 Monday, November 2, 2009

LIVESTOCK

Livestock producers may see better prices in 2010 BY DANIEL GRANT FarmWeek

Livestock producers who are able to survive the current economic crisis could see better pricing opportunities by next year. Economists and a livestock industry leader recently predicted economic recovery around the world will spark demand for meat, milk, and eggs. “When the economy recovers, demand will return,” Scott Brown, program director for the Food and Ag Policy Research Institute at the University of Missouri, told FarmWeek at the recent American Farm Bureau Federation Commodity Outlook Conference. Brown pointed to “dreadful demand” the past year as one of the main reasons that meat and dairy prices dropped to below break-even levels. Consumer demand from January through July reportedly declined 1.5 percent for beef and 3.5 percent for broilers. Meanwhile, the demand index for dairy products

dropped nearly 20 points, according to Brown. “This came at a time when we had higher feed prices,” he said. “I think we (in the livestock industry) could’ve dealt with one or the other. But the combination (of lower prices and higher input costs) has been hard to deal with.” Quarterly U.S. meat exports slipped from about 3.5 billion pounds in 2008 to nearly 3 billion pounds this year as demand dwindled around the world. Brown predicted U.S. meat exports in the coming year could improve due to the lower value of the dollar. “If you believe the economy is improving, and it will improve, prices could rebound,” he said. Brown predicted prices in 2010 could climb above $90 per hundredweight for cattle, $50 per head for hogs, and $16 per hundredweight for all milk based on the strength of increased demand. Joe Glauber, USDA chief economist, made similar projections, forecasting prices

next year could average $90.50 for cattle, $44.50 for hogs, and $15.15 for milk. “I think we will start seeing a recovery in the livestock market by year’s end with higher prices forecast for 2010,” he said. A return of demand also should bring the price of various meat cuts back to more traditional relationships. Brown noted that demand for higher-priced meat cuts took the worst hit during the current recession. The price of higher-quality chicken breast, for example, recently was $1.20 per pound compared to $1.40 per pound for wings that were of lower quality but in greater demand. “One of the last things to go out of a consumer’s diet (during a recession) is meat products,” Jim Fraley, Illinois Farm Bureau livestock director, told the RFD Radio Network. “One of the first things to come back is meat and dairy products. Hopefully, we will see that recover very strong in the coming months.”

New program allows producers to calculate cost of feed rations A new program is available to help livestock producers sift through many available feed options and determine the best ration for their animals. The “Cost of Feedstuffs Calculator” developed at the University of Illinois is a new Farm Analysis Solution Tool (Fast) available online at {www.farmdoc.uiuc.edu/pubs/FASTtool_special_feedstuffs.asp} The program also can be accessed at the U of I Illini DairyNET and Illini BeefNET websites {www.livestocktrail.uiuc.edu/} and at the website of the Illinois Value Added Sustainable Development Center at Western Illinois University {www.valueadded.org/renewableEnergy/ethanol/ddgs/}. The cost of feed is the most expensive part of dairy and livestock production, according to the U of I. Co-products from ethanol production have added feeding options for producers, but they FarmWeekNow.com also can have varying moisture Check out the latest U of I online levels and nutrient value. Also, f e e d s t u f f c a l c u l a t o r s a t storage losses can be quite FarmWeekNow.com. variable among the different products. The calculator allows livestock managers, consultants, and veterinarians to compare the cost of purchasing and transporting, 120 different feedstuffs including a number of co-products, byproducts, grains, forages, crop residues, silages, and supplements. Storage losses also can be determined. Each of the feedstuffs can be compared to No. 2 shelled corn, 44 percent soybean meal, and mid-bloom alfalfa hay. Groups of different feedstuffs also can be compared and ranked on a “cost per pound of energy” or a “cost per pound of protein” basis. Support for the development of the new program was provided by the Illinois Corn Marketing Board, the U of I Extension, the U of I department of agricultural and consumer economics, and the U of I animal sciences department. For more information about the program, contact Mike Hutjens, U of I Extension dairy specialist, at 217-333-2928; Dave Seibert, U of I Extension animal systems educator, at 309-694-7501; or Gary Schnitkey, U of I Extension farm management specialist, at 217-244-9595.


FarmWeek Page 10 Monday, November 2, 2009

CONSERVATION

Friend: Do best you can to reduce soil compaction BY KAY SHIPMAN FarmWeek

Harvesting in wet fields is a given this fall, but farmers have options to reduce the amount of soil compaction, according to Duane Friend, a University of Illinois Extension natural resources educator based in Jacksonville.

“Soils at field capacity are the absolute worst conditions for compaction,” Friend said. Friend advised farmers to follow the same tracks in the field as much as possible. The first trip through the field will cause the most compaction, while the next pass over the same area will

not increase the compaction significantly, he said. Friend cautioned farmers about driving a tractor and wagon alongside a combine through the field. A singleaxle wagon with 1,200 bushels of grain puts tremendous pressure in those wheel tracks, he noted. Given the choice between

National no-till conference to be held in Des Moines The 18th annual National No-Tillage Conference will be held Jan. 13 to 16 in Des Moines, Iowa. The conference agenda recently was completed and is available online at {www.NoTillConference.com}. Speakers at the event include no-tillers,

agronomists, and university experts who will discuss topics such as fertility management, precision ag, soil quality, equipment modifications, and cover crops. The annual conference, to be held at the Marriott in downtown Des Moines, is organized by the No-Till Farmer publication.

increased soil compaction and harvesting as much crop as quickly as possible, a farmer needs to choose “whatever you think is the lesser of two evils,” Friend said. When unloading the combine, use the combine’s previous wheel tracks. Don’t cross a field diagonally. Park semi trucks on adjoining roads when possible and on the headlands as the next best alternative. Correct tire pressure also will help lessen compaction, Friend noted. Over-inflated tires concentrate loads onto smaller areas and compacts the soil. Use of large wheels

and tires for a given load allows lower inflation pressures to be used. Some people may consider waiting until the ground is frozen before harvesting wet fields, Friend said. He remembered some Mason County farmers waited until January to combine wet soybean fields from the 1993 growing season. Once compaction occurs, farmers will have to wait to address it next fall, according to Friend. Depending on the winter weather, a wet and dry cycle will help some with compaction but won’t correct it by spring, he added. “It (compaction) may be something we have to live with next year,” Friend concluded

Auction Calendar Mon., Nov. 2. 7 p.m. 46.9 Ac. Champaign Co. Donald R. Prather and Beverly Jane Prather, URBANA, IL. Gordon Hannagan Auction Co. Fri., Nov. 6. 11 a.m. 78.49 Ac. Morgan Co. Louise Coop Estate, JACKSONVILLE, IL. Middendorf Bros. Auctioneers. Fri., Nov. 6. 10 a.m. 160 Ac. Brown Co. Koch Farm, MT. STERLING, IL. Sullivan Auctioneers, LLC. Sat., Nov. 7. 12:30 p.m. 115 Ac. LaSalle Co. Robert O. Hagie Estate, GRAND RIDGE, IL. Bradleys’ and Immke Auction Service. Sat., Nov. 7. 10 a.m. 127.5 Ac. Ford Co. Burris Family Revocable Trust, ROBERTS, IL. Schrader Real Estate and Auction Co., Inc. Mon., Nov. 9. 10 a.m. 163 Ac. Woodford Co. Arthur P. Kennell Residuary Trust, ROANOKE, IL. Terry Wilkey Auction Service. Mon., Nov. 9. 10:30 a.m. Land Auction Champaign Co. Norma J. Elkins, PHILO, IL. Gordon Hannagan Auction Co. 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. 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. Real Estate Auction. MARION, IL. Jamie Scherrer Auction Co. 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. 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.


FarmWeek Page 11 Monday, November 2, 2009

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FarmWeek Page 12 Monday, November 2, 2009

PRODUCTION

Tips for drying high-moisture corn, improving dryer efficiency This year’s corn crop obviously is putting high demand on grain drying systems. Mike Roegge, University of Illinois Extension crops system educator in Adams County, offers the following suggestions for drying high-moisture corn: Generally speaking, the more air that can be moved, the better conditions are for drying. Certain minimum air flows are required based on grain moisture and temperature.

The lower the heat, the higher the air flow should be, Roegge noted. The higher the heat, the quicker and more efficiently grain moisture levels will be lowered. Roegge offered several tips based on a paper by Ken Hellevang of North Dakota State University. Hellevang’s paper is available online at {www.extension.org/pages/Po stharvest_Tips_for_Latermaturing_Corn}. High-temperature grain dry-

ing using the maximum drying temperature that will not damage the corn increases the dryer capacity and can reduce energy consumption. The amount of energy required to remove a pound of moisture is about 20 percent less at a temperature of 200 degrees Fahrenheit (F) than it is at 150 degrees F. Remember, however, temperatures that are too high can lead to increased cracking of grain and lower test weights.

Some corn rootworm predators work night shift While exploring cornfields at night, USDA Agricultural Research Service entomologist Jonathan Lundgren found a different group of predators with a great appetite for corn rootworms, the most costly pest of corn in the world. Research on day-active and night-active predatory insects is important for scientists who are developing strategies that maximize the potential of the natural predators in crop pest control. During his night studies, Lundgren focuses on the top few inches of the soil surface, where rootworm larvae do most of their damage to corn roots. Lundgren works at the USDA North Central Agricultural Research Laboratory in Brookings, S.D. He found that during the night, there is abundant and diverse life underground with predators that include ground beetles, rove beetles, spiders, crickets, and daddy-longlegs. Wondering how so many and such diverse species could manage in the confines of the

upper surface of soil near corn roots, Lundgren’s research revealed the answer might be separation by time, with some insects confining their activity to as little as a threehour window. Scientists have two ways to spy on predators. One is to place pinned rootworms as sentinels. The researchers come back later with a red light to see which rootworms have been attacked and which predators are hanging around. Insects can’t see red light. The second way is to collect predators in a timed trap. Trapped predators are analyzed for corn rootworm DNA. This gives researchers information about how long the predators are hunting and the amount of rootworms the predators eat. Lundgren found that one common carabid beetle prefers day work, while another common carabid works a night shift from 10 p.m. to 3 a.m. Wolf spiders search for rootworms during the night, while some other spiders hunt during the day.

In addition, drying highermoisture corn for longer periods at high temperatures can lead to corn browning and discounts. Using in-storage cooling rather than in-dryer cooling will boost your capacity. It requires airflow rates of about 0.2 of a cubic foot per minute per bushel (cfm/bu) or a fill rate of 12 cfm/bu per hour. Cooling should start immediately when corn is placed in the bin. About 1 percentage point of moisture is removed during corn cooling. Dryeration will increase dryer capacity by 50 percent or more, reduce energy by 25 percent, and remove 2 to 2.5 points of moisture (0.25 of a point for each 10 degrees the corn is cooled). Place the hot corn from the dryer into a bin, let it sit for 4 to 6 hours without airflow, then turn on the fan to cool it. There will be a tremendous amount of condensation, so you must move the corn to a different bin, said Roegge. Use the following formula to estimate costs for hightemperature drying. The cost

per bushel point equals 0.022 times the propane cost per gallon. For example, the drying cost is 2.9 cents per bushel point if the cost of propane is $1.30 per gallon (0.022 X $1.30). It will cost about $34 for propane to remove 10 points of moisture from 120 bushels of corn using $1.30 propane. The estimated quantity of propane needed to dry is 0.022 of a gallon per bushel of moisture removed. For example, 26 gallons of propane are needed to dry 120 bushels of corn from 25 percent to 15 percent (0.022 X 120 bushels X 10 points). Test weight also will increase as corn moisture decreases. Normally, test weight increases about 0.25 of a pound for each point of moisture removed during high-temperature grain drying. However, mechanical damage during harvest and gentleness during the drying process can affect test weights. Remember also to account for shrink when drying grain. To dry corn to 15.5 percent moisture, the shrink factor is 1.1834. The shrink in drying corn 5 points would be 5 times 1.1834 or 5.92 percent.

FLOOD PROTECTION PETITIONS

U.S. Rep. Phil Hare, left, a Rock Island Democrat, accepts a sheaf of petitions seeking expanded flood protection for Western Illinois from producer Don Kerr of Warsaw during a recent stop at Oquawka in Henderson County. Warren-Henderson County Farm Bureau joined with Hancock, Adams, and Pike County Farm Bureaus; the Upper Mississippi, Illinois, and Missouri River Association; and Hunt, Lima Lakes, Fabius, and Sny drainage districts in a drive that has yielded 7,000 signatures in support of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers’ Upper Mississippi/Illinois River comprehensive flood management plan and 500-year flood protection for area farms, businesses, and residents. Hare has been a leading House advocate of floodplain protection on the Upper Mississippi. (Photo by Carol Ricketts, manager of Warren-Henderson Farm Bureau)


FarmWeek Page 13 Monday, November 2, 2009

FROM THE COUNTIES

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U R E A U — Bur eau, Henry, Knox, and Stark County Far m Bureaus, the University of Illinois Extension, and Black Hawk East (BHE) will sponsor a series of three equine seminars f r o m 6 : 3 0 t o 8 : 3 0 p. m . Thursdays, Nov. 5, 12, and 19, in the Black Hawk East ag arena. There is no charge for 4-H and FFA members. Cost for others is $9 per session or $20 for all three sessions. Call the Farm Bureau office at 815875-6468 for reservations or more information. • Bureau, Marshall-Putnam, and Stark County Farm Bureaus will sponsor a college open house from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Wednesday, Nov. 18, at the Marshall-Putnam County Farm Bureau office, Henry. Several colleges that offer agriculture programs have been i nv i t e d . C a l l t h e Fa r m Bureau office at 815-8756468 for more information. ANCOCK — The annual meeting will be at 7 p.m. Thursday, Nov. 19, at the Farm Bureau office. Call the Far m Bureau office for more information. ASALLE — Farm Bureau is accepting orders for Florida fr uit and Amish country cheese. Deadline to order is Tuesday, Nov. 24. Forms are available at the Far m Bureau office or online at {www.lasallecfb.org}. EE — Steve Johnson, Iowa State University Extension farm and ag business management specialist, will be the speaker at a “managing crops risks 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 Bank will sponsor the meeting. Visit the website at {www.leecf.org} or call the Farm Bureau office at 8573531 for reser vations or more information. E O R I A — Dr. Donald Crane will g i ve a p r e s e n t a t i o n o n health care refor m at 1 p. m . We d n e s d a y a t t h e Farm Bureau auditorium. Call the Far m Bureau office for more information. • The annual meeting will be at 5 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 14, at the Dunlap High School. Tickets are $10 and must be purchased by Wednesday. OCK ISLAND — Steve Johnson, Iowa State University Extension far m and ag business management specialist, will be the

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speaker at a “managing crops risks and revenue” 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 Count y Fa r m B u r e a u s, G o l d Star FS, and BankORIO N. C a l l t h e H e n r y County Far m Bureau office at 309-937-2411 or the Rock Island County Fa r m B u r e a u o f f i c e a t 309-736-7432 by Monday, Nov. 23, for reservations or more information. TEPHENSON — The annual meeting of Far m Bureau and Stephenson Ser vice Co. will be at 6:30 p.m. Tues-

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day, Nov. 24, in the Newell Room, Highland Community College’s conference center. A light dinner will be served. The Freeport Varsity Choir will provide the entertainment. Call the Farm Bureau office at 815-232-3186 by Thursday, Nov. 19, for reservations or more infor mation. ERMILION — The annual meeting will be at 6 p.m. (Illinois time) Monday, Nov. 23, at the Beef House Banquet Center, Covington, Ind. A silent auction which includes an Illini basketball s i g n e d by C o a ch B r u c e Weber, an Americana comforter, a series of desserts provided by Sheila Lane,

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Danville Dans season tickets will be held. Mike Marron, a Fithian farmer, will give a presentation on the market study tour to China. Call the Far m Bureau office at 217-4428713 for more infor mation. • Far m Bureau will sponsor a defensive driving program for members who are 55 and over. The program will be from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Tuesday and Wednesday, Dec. 1-2, at the Farm Bureau auditoriu m . Pa r t i c i p a n t s mu s t attend both days to receive a discount on their auto insurance. Cost is $35, which includes lunch. Call the Farm Bureau office at 217-442-8713 for reserva-

tions or more information. I L L — Far m Bureau and Heroes West Restaurant, 1530 Commerce Lane, Joliet, will sponsor a fundraiser Monday, Nov. 23, to raise money to purchase phone cards for troops in the Operation Care Package promotion. Ten percent of purchases at the restaurant will be donated to purchase the phone cards. Inform the ser ver you are a Far m Bureau member. A drawi n g o n t h a t d ay w i l l b e held for a $100 gift card to Heroes West. Call the Fa r m B u r e a u o f f i c e a t 815-727-4811 or go online to {www.heroeswest.net} for more information.

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FarmWeek Page 14 Monday, November 2, 2009

PROFITABILITY

The economics of farm fertilizer decisions BY SID PARKS

What a difference a year makes! Last year, producers were facing unprecedented prices for ag inputs, including nitrogen and phosphorus fertilizers. As a result, many producers altered fertilizer use decisions to reflect the changes in fertilizer costs and crop Sid Parks prices. Today, the world economy has endured months of recession, and pressure on investments and manufacturing have contributed to declining demand

for energy and fertilizers worldwide. On the farm, many producers have faced another tough year in the fields. Delayed planting, excess rainfall, cool temperatures, disease pressure, and more have contributed to a late harvest and disappointing yields for many. While there remain challenges on the farm, I would like to encourage you to consider next year’s crop fertility needs. Commodity prices have returned to more “normal” levels, which should allow you to return to practices for optimum productivity. I recently reviewed a study published by the International Plant Nutrition Institute enti-

tled The Fertility of North American Soils. This study analyzed data from 3.4 million soil samples submitted by farmers and crop professionals to 70 major North American public and private soil testing laboratories. These data were compared to those collected five years previously. One of the conclusions was that in some states, soil test levels appear to be trending downward. Reasons for the change are varied, but among them is the fact that replacement fertilizer applications have not kept pace with nutrients removed by the crop as yield levels have improved. In Illinois, the percentage of soil tests requiring maintenance levels to avoid profit loss was

45 for potassium and 40 for phosphorus. Grid soil sampling is a good method to determine whether your current fertilizer program is on target. Using that information to generate a variable rate recommendation will further improve nutrition management. Areas testing near or above optimum will receive reduced rates or recommendations for no fertilizer. Areas testing below desired levels will receive rates above crop removal to build available nutrients and help increase production. Yet another option using a yield map with data collected from GPS-enabled yield monitors to help direct main-

tenance applications. This process replaces only that nutrient volume removed by the previous crop, thereby not making applications in areas that may have flooded out or had less production this year. Your FS crop specialist has many tools available which can be used to help make sound agronomic recommendations. Good, representative soil testing and variable-rate nutrient management are two important methods of maximizing profitability while reducing grower risks. Sid Parks is GROWMARK’s manager of precision farming. His e-mail address is sparks@growmark.com.

Economist: Care needed in derivatives reform BY MARTIN ROSS FarmWeek

A University of Illinois economist is concerned that congressional efforts to regulate “over-the-counter” (OTC) commodity derivatives could lead to potential disruption of cash prices. Derivatives include a variety of largely unregulated, offexchange agreements often aimed at offsetting financial risk. Market speculation involving certain types of general OTC derivatives has been

implicated in the recent financial crisis. In an effort to improve accountability in and strengthen oversight of both regulated exchanges and OTC derivative markets, the House Ag Committee has proposed a clearing or registration requirement for all OTC swap transactions (asset exchanges) between dealers and large market participants such as index funds. The proposal also would require reporting of noncleared swaps.

M A R K E T FA C T S

Feeder pig prices reported to USDA*

Weight 10 lbs. 40 lbs. 50 lbs. Receipts

Range Per Head Weighted Ave. Price $22.00-$34.45 $29.29 $30.00-$31.00 $30.48 n/a n/a This Week Last Week 20,187 24,200 *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 $49.20 $49.58 $36.41 $36.69

Change -0.38 -0.28

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

This week 87.75 87.88

Prv. week 85.83 85.85

Change 1.92 2.03

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 93.25 93.29 -0.04

Lamb prices Confirmed lamb and sheep sales This week 881 Last week 895 Last year 413 Wooled Slaughter Lambs: Choice and Prime 2-3: 90-110 lbs, $98; 110-130 lbs., $91. Good and Choice 1-2: 60-90 lbs., $105. Slaughter Ewes: Utility and Good 13: $28-$30. Cull and Utility 1-2: $28.

Export inspections (Million bushels)

Week ending Soybeans Wheat 10-22-09 43.8 14.3 10-15-09 40.3 18.9 Last year 47.0 22.1 Season total 149.3 348.4 Previous season total 144.9 524.7 USDA projected total 1305 900 Crop marketing year began June 1 for wheat and Sept. 1 for corn and soybeans.

Corn 24.0 31.4 25.2 270.1 255.0 2150

‘This could be a dramatic example of the law of unintended consequences.’ — Scott Irwin University of Illinois economist

The bill would strengthen position limits on futures contracts for physically deliverable and OTC commodities as a way to prevent potential price distortions caused by excessive speculative trading. While on the surface, the measure would appear to provide greater market transparency, the U of I’s Scott Irwin said he harbors “real hesitations” about proposed new clearing requirements. Irwin questions how effectively clearing requirements would apply to privately negotiated, off-exchange contracts without “all the elements that are required to ensure the soundness of the exchange clearing process.” Further, he is unconvinced index fund and related speculation have had more than merely “short-term, marginal impacts” on recent commodity price volatility. “Unless you’re owning and holding off the market physical cash bushels, you’re not going to affect determination of equilibrium prices in the cash market,” Irwin advised. “But there’ve been noises coming from the financial index fund industry that if really tight limits are put on their ability to take long positions in commodity markets, they’ll simply form new funds where shares are actually

backed by physical bushels. They’re going to buy grain elevators someplace and store physical bushels. “Now, we have the potential for a real mess. This could be a dramatic example of the

law of unintended consequences. “Imagine if a very large investment fund owned 500 million bushels of corn — the impact it could have on cash markets by holding corn or dumping it very suddenly.” Commodities Futures Trading Commission Chairman Gary Gensler last week recommended even more stringent measures, including extending new regulations to all market participants and all OTC products.

Milk price continues to improve The Class III price for milk adjusted to 3.5 percent butterfat for the month of October was $12.82 per hundredweight. This is a 71-cent increase from the previous month and marks the third straight month of higher prices. Prices continue to move higher as milk production adjustments and increased product demand work together to improve the supply situation. The higher prices are allowing producers finally to get closer to matching their cost of production.


FarmWeek Page 15 Monday, November 2, 2009

PROFITABILITY Corn Strategy

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

Fewer wheat acres expected Many times, history can offer an insight into what to expect in the future. This year, producers have been fighting Mother Nature at every turn, and this fall is no exception. This could have significant implications for this year’s plantings of soft red winter wheat in the Corn Belt. Typically, producers prefer to plant soft red winter wheat on harvested soybean fields. However, this fall’s wet pattern has pushed soybean (and corn) harvest well behind normal. Illinois soybean harvest is only 33 percent complete, corn even less. Missouri is slower, and Arkansas only slightly better. Indiana is further along, but Ohio is the only soft red state with a near-normal soybean harvest pace. This year reminds us much of 1977, the most recent year that had as wet a fall as this year. Even then, the wetness didn’t extend through the fall as long as it has this year.

Basis charts

Across much of the Midwest and Midsouth, October is going to go down as one of the wettest, if not the wettest, on record. Soft red wheat plantings declined sharply in the fall of 1977. A total of 4.66 million acres was planted, down nearly 50 percent from the 8.47 million planted the prior year. Part of that was due to weather and the delay in getting the crop planted, although other ingredients played into the picture as well. In August 1977, wheat prices fell to their lowest level of the 1970s after hitting their all-time highs in 1974, close to $2 on Chicago wheat futures. With farm programs still oriented to supply management, the low prices triggered a set aside program. Producers “set aside” 8.4 million wheat acres for the 1978 crop. That had been the first government control program since 1973. We no longer have diversion programs. Instead, acreage decisions are now being impacted by crop insurance provisions. Many producers already have decided to take the prevented-planting payment instead of planting wheat at this late date. Because many of the Corn Belt/Midsouth acres are doublecropped, they still can plant those acres to another crop next spring. Even if weather opens up in the short-term, the focus on harvesting and the lateness for planting wheat will cause many to forgo wheat this year. USDA issues its first winter wheat planting estimate in early January. It’s still a little early to easily forecast that number, but soft red acres could easily drop another 2 million to 3 million this year. AgriVisor endorses crop insurance by

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Cents per bu.

2009 crop: Corn might temporarily shift into a sideways pattern after losing 35 to 40 cents. Weather forecasts imply a better harvesting environment, but drying capacity will limit the speed of harvest from now forward. We see limited downside risk below $3.50 on December futures. Wait for strength before making a sale, even if you need to price corn for harvest delivery. If market forces carry December futures to $4.25, boost your sales to 50 percent. Continue to check the Cash Strategist Hotline frequently for changes. Because of the large futures carry, a hedge-toarrive contract for a April/May/June delivery may be the best pricing strategy. If you are a cash seller, be sure to check forward bids, too. Fundamentals: Lower export interest because of higher prices is a bit of a negative. Still, the size of the crop, and level of harvest losses may be the more important short-term fundamental feature.

Soybean Strategy 2009 crop: We see no reason to sell soybeans on weaker prices. If weather forecasts hold up, prices should be soft the first week of November and maybe even the second. However, price cycles are due to bottom by mid-November, implying better prices should come later in the month or in December. Continue to plan to boost sales to 50 percent if January futures move to $10.90. Check the Cash Strategist Hotline frequently as we could adjust strategies or prices at any time. Fundamentals: If weather forecasts hold up, soybean harvest should finally make significant progress. Still, because the harvest is 2 to 2 1/2 weeks behind normal, field losses should start to mount. An Iowa State University agronomist indicated that yields tend to fall 2 percent for every week harvest is delayed. In the upper Midwest, that implies production losses could be as high as 50

million bushels on the 1.5 billion acres yet to be harvested.

Wheat Strategy 2009 crop: It appears a near-term top is in place. Prices on the December contract penetrated both the 20day moving average and psychological $5 support. Use rallies to make catch-up sales. Hold off making additional sales. Continue to target a move near $5.70 on the December as a potential trigger for making a sale. 2010 crop: We are considering an initial sale if

Chicago July futures approach $6.50. Fundamentals: Wheat fundamentals remain a mixed bag, but with a negative tilt because of the abundant world supplies. Still, with the planting of the winter crop under way, the focus is starting to include uncertainties surrounding next year’s crop. The delayed soft red winter wheat plantings have been a recent plus for prices. Weekly export sales were disappointing again, but we expect better business later in the marketing year.


FarmWeek Page 16 Monday, November 2, 2009

PERSPECTIVES

DRAWING THE LINE Change redistricting; stir up competition In the decades before becoming a state senator, David Luechtefeld guided the Okawville Rockets to 738 victories, more than all but nine coaches on the fiercely competitive Illinois hardwoods of boys’ prep basketball. None of those wins came without a foe. Coach Luechtefeld’s teams earned their laurels in the crucible of competition. But too many in Senator Luechtefeld’s legislative arena have triumphed without trial. So, we need to demand lawmakers allow us in the 2010 election to amend the state Constitution and junk a system that permits them to choose their constituents instead of vice versa. If they balk, we must move to force — through citizen initiative — a That, together with the traditional Democsweeping constitutional change in the process ratic or Republican enclaves within the state, to map the districts from which we elect our spawned a slew of one-party districts — even representatives. No some ceded to the mapmakers’ opposition. MIKE LAWRENCE reform will do more to For example, the Democrats in 2001 packed make state legislators guest columnist more responsive and even more Republicans into a traditionally GOP district, allowing Dale Righter, a Mattoon responsible. Republican, to waltz into the Senate the next More than 20 of Luechtefeld’s Senate colyear. leagues and half of the House members garWhy? To enhance the Democrats’ chances nered election last November unopposed. of capturing neighboring territory the RepubliOnly a couple of the 40 Senate seats at stake cans also had occupied. were closely contested; likewise, a scant dozen Righter curses his good fortune these days. or so of the 118 House slots. He and other Republican lawmakers have Democrats were virtually guaranteed ample joined editorial writers and groups, such as the majorities — due in large measure to a proIllinois Campaign for Political Reform, in toutfound miscalculation by the framers of the ing overhaul. state’s 40-year-old Constitution. They have little, if anything, to lose; the When they were developing a method to combination of reapportionment and the determine the new legislative districts required George Ryan scandal deciafter every census, the IFB to form working group mated their ranks. framers devised an impasse-breaker to scare for legislative redistricting Democrats savoring their Republican and DemocratThe Illinois Farm Bureau is to form huge majorities are less enamored. But Senate Presiic lawmakers into biparti- a Legislative Redistricting Working Group to serve as an advisory group dent John J. Cullerton has san, balanced agreement. In the event of a stale- to the IFB board and the board’s Illiexpressed support for nois Government Committee. mate, the party chosen reform, and House Speaker Board action at the October meetthrough a lottery would be Michael J. Madigan earlier ing led to forming the group. It will given control over redisbacked a plan fashioned by a study the issue of amending the Illitricting and the other bipartisan panel formed by nois Constitution’s legislative article would suffer the consethe Paul Simon Public Polion redistricting. quences. cy Institute. The working group will be comNo party leader, even in prised of two IFB board members and The proposal would have the byzantine world of Illi- five Farm Bureau members who rep- provided more transparency, resent different areas of the state. nois politics, would dare given a higher priority to risk everything, the framers preserving community interreasoned. ests than to protecting incumbents, and placed Well, this is Illinois, after all. The Constituultimate power in the hands of a Supreme tion’s authors did not foresee Democratic and Court-appointed master in the absence of a Republican legislative kingpins becoming mystibipartisan accord. cally mesmerized by Illinois roulette, focusing There is no politically impregnable solution, on the 50 percent chance for mastery, not the but several of the proposed reforms would put even odds for misery. more candidates for positions that affect the Lady Luck blessed the Democrats in 1981 lives of millions in the same posture as the and 2001 and Republicans in 1991. Okawville Rockets. They won’t get a win withEach time, the partisan cartographers maxiout the competition. mized the opportunities for their party and the vast majority of its incumbents, even if it Mike Lawrence is the retired director of the Paul meant splintering cities, communities, and Simon Institute for Public Policy. He recently testified neighborhoods into different legislative disbefore a special Senate committee on redistricting. tricts. Reprinted with permission of the author.

Letter to the editor IFB should support ‘concealed carry’ law Editor: I believe Illinois Farm Bureau would be doing a great service to its membership by supporting a “shall issue conceal and carry law” in Illinois. The Illinois Sheriff ’s Association has voted to support such a law, realizing that citizens, due to the large area the sheriffs are commissioned to protect, at some point will be their own first line of defense when confronted with a crime. I believe a majority of IFB members would be interested in a concealed carry permit, based on the number of men and women who take instruction offered by the Highland Pistol and Rifle Club. The three classes held so far have had a minimum of 50 people attending and the current list stands at 45 for the next date. It has been duly documented that states which permit concealed carry have had a reduction of crime to persons of assault, rape, robbery, etc. There should be no option for various municipalities to preempt concealed carry within their jurisdictions. This confounds the principle of concealed carry and poses the possibility of making a law-abiding citizen a criminal by simply entering a city limit after leaving an area in which concealed carry was legal. All requirements of minimum age, residency, background checks, including a psychological check, and proper instruction by a certified trainer should be met. Once the applicant has met these requirements, it must become a “shall issue” situation without further delay, within a time frame of no more than 45 days from the time of the application submission. There should be no requirement of registration with any law enforcement agency of any firearm the applicant intends to use, beyond the forms required by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives for the legal purchase of any firearm. BILL SCHROEDER, Hillsboro

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“We’re herding cattle from here to Laredo. Didn’t you get my Tex message?”


FarmWeek edition November 2 2009