Issuu on Google+

be SuRe, FoR youR safety and that of others, that your farm machinery is properly marked as you travel the roads this season. .............3

It appeaRS that SoMe corn hit by frost is not coming back, even though the growing point was below ground. .....................................5

the WaRM WInteR and early spring may impact the number of insects around this summer. But then again, it may not. .................12

Monday, April 23, 2012

Two sections Volume 40, No. 17

Senate ag chair offers farm bill ‘mark’ BY MARTIN ROSS FarmWeek

Periodicals: Time Valued

As Senate Ag Committee Chairman Debbie Stabenow (D-Mich.) prepared last week to release her “chairman’s mark” — a prospective Senate farm bill blueprint — ag groups re-emphasized the need to keep the crop insurance safety net firmly tethered. Stabenow’s farm bill summary proposes $23 billion in ag cuts over the next 10 years, in line with last fall’s HouseSenate recommendations to a congressional deficit “super committee.” Under the plan, expected to move out of committee this week, direct payments would be eliminated and remaining farm countercyclical and revenue programs consolidated into a single new safety net program. The proposal also would attempt to bolster crop insurance and consolidate 23 existing conservation programs into 13 while preserving existing tools for farm stewards. In a letter to Stabenow and Ag Committee Ranking Member Pat Roberts (R-Kan.), eight ag groups, including the American Farm Bureau Federation (AFBF), voiced support

for the Senate’s basic ag policy/funding approach while raising concerns about future commodity and risk management programs. American Soybean Association, National Corn Growers Association, and the National Association of Wheat Growers joined AFBF in applauding the committee’s decision not to restructure or reduce funding for the federal crop insurance program. The groups stressed crop insurance is “the core risk management tool used by our producers.” As the Senate moves closer to farm bill debate, Illinois Farm Bureau President Philip Nelson is concerned by a proposal from Sen. Charles Grassley (R-Iowa) to place a payment limit on federal crop insurance premium subsidies.

A recently released Government Accountability Office report concludes $1 billion could be saved either through

an overall cut in the percentage of premiums subsidized or by capping individual subsidies at $40,000 per year.

That report has “ratcheted up the pressure” on lawmakers See Farm bill, page 4

RECALIBRATING

Mark Nunnery, right, of rural Clinton in DeWitt County, and Mike Jones, an employee of Cross Brothers Implement, also in Clinton, recalibrate the auto steer on Nunnery’s tractor. This is the fifth year Nunnery has used the GPS-guided system. He reported dry soils and an uncharacteristic lack of water in his field tiles. (Photo by Ken Kashian)

Groups mobilizing to address growing livestock threat Livestock groups are ramping up Capitol Hill efforts amid growing pressure for lawmakers to support proposed new poultry care standards and rumors that an influential California senator soon may enter the fray. Meanwhile, Illinois Farm Bureau continues to dialogue with food industry representatives whose advocacy of specific livestock production practices could, according to IFB President Philip Nelson, play into passage of questionable industry standards. Bipartisan West Coast House lawmakers are continuing to solicit colleague support for prescriptive new animal treatment measures drafted by the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) and the United Egg Producers (UEP). The measure seeks phased replacement of layer cages used by 90-plus percent of the industry with “enriched housing” systems that would nearly double the space now allotted each hen. The projected cost of the change is $4 billion over the next 15 years.

The National Pork Producers Council (NPPC) is among ag groups lobbying for the bill’s

FarmWeekNow.com To l i s t e n t o I F B P r e s i d e n t P h i l i p N e l s o n ’s c o m m e n t s on these issues, go to FarmWeekNow.com.

defeat, focusing on undecided members, NPPC spokesman Dave Warner said. Measure approval would “set a precedent for federal bureaucrats to be able to tell farmers how to raise and care for their animals,” he said. HSUS last week filed a Federal Trade Commission (FTC) complaint charging NPPC’s We Care and Pork Quality Assurance Plus programs with “deceptive advertising.” HSUS argues NPPC acceptance of sow gestation stalls belies its commitment to animal care; NPPC anticipates FTC dismissal of the complaint. “We’ve made our opposition (to HSUS-backed legislation) pretty well known; today, we got repaid for that opposition (through filing of the com-

FarmWeek on the web: FarmWeekNow.com

plaint),” Warner told FarmWeek last Wednesday. Egg bill sponsors Reps. Kurt Schrader (D-Ore.), Elton Gallegly (R-Calif.), Sam Farr (D-Calif.), and Jeff Denham (R-Calif.) are working to build on a current roster of 50-plus largely urban co-sponsors. Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) reportedly may offer a companion measure. California’s role in pushing the bill is aimed in part at leveling the playing field for West Coast egg producers, Warner said. California’s Proposition 2 sets strict future housing requirements for layer operations in that state, and some lawmakers support federal regulation purportedly to prevent California farmers from facing a competitive disadvantage. While NPPC often favors federal guidelines over a patchwork of contradictory statelevel regulations, Warner argued that in this case, federal pre-emption of the California statute would be “bad public policy.” “A bad state law is going to be a bad federal law,” he maintained.

The issue has gained momentum with decisions by major players such as McDonald’s and corporate/institutional food service giant Compass move toward prohibiting use of gestation stalls by their suppliers. In an RFD RadioFarmWeek interview last week, Nelson reported Compass representatives were “very receptive” to farmer concerns and insights during a recent meeting between the company and IFB. In response to HSUS’ FTC complaint, NPPC defended common industry practices “that have been designed with input from veterinarians and other animal-care experts.” Nelson invited food companies to visit farms and view firsthand “how we raise our livestock with the modern technologies we utilize.” “If you’re a grain farmer and think this has nothing to do with you, you’re wrong,” he warned. “Don’t think this (legislation) can’t come to grain farming, as well, as far as setting standards and practices for how you raise crops.” — Martin Ross

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


FarmWeek Page 2 Monday, April 23, 2012

FARMER PROFILE

Quick Takes CONGRESS REACTS TO LFTB ISSUE — Thirty members of Congress last week signed a letter asking Ag Secretary Tom Vilsack to define steps USDA plans to take to set the record straight about lean finely textured beef (LFTB). The product, which is 90 percent lean, has been labeled “pink slime” by some members of the media and consumers. Bad publicity and misconceptions about the product recently forced Beef Products to end production of LFTB at plants in Iowa, Kansas, and Texas. “We have been watching with great concern as this campaign of misinformation has unfolded and have been particularly concerned about the loss of jobs that’s resulted from it,” the letter stated. Vilsack recently called LFTB safe, healthy, and affordable but defended USDA’s decision to give school lunch programs the option to choose ground beef without LFTB. DISASTER FAIRNESS — U.S. Sens. Dick Durbin, a Springfield Democrat, and Mark Kirk, a Highland Park Republican, have unveiled bipartisan legislation aimed at bringing “consistency and fairness” to the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s (FEMA) disaster declaration process. After storms swept through Southern Illinois in late February, FEMA denied federal assistance for Harrisburg and Ridgway. Kirk and Durbin would require FEMA to give a specified weight to each factor it considers in determining community eligibility for individual and public assistance. It would require FEMA to consider local economic factors such as an area’s assessable tax base and median income and poverty rates relative to the state’s. Kirk argued FEMA’s process for determining a disaster declaration is biased against larger, more populous states. “FEMA explained that the economic damage done (in February) didn’t meet an internal threshold the agency uses for more populated states,” Durbin said. “The thinking is that large states have the resources to absorb the recovery costs. Well, that’s just not the case in Illinois.” CARP BILL — Two Michigan members of Congress hope to prod the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to act quickly and decisively to prevent the spread of Asian carp. Sen. Debbie Stabenow (D-Mich.) and Rep. Dave Camp (R-Mich.) have introduced the Stop Invasive Species Act, which would require the Army Corps of Engineers to submit an expedited action plan to Congress with options for stopping the voracious carp from entering the Great Lakes at 18 possible points the agency has identified. The Corps with other state and federal agencies is trying to determine whether it’s feasible to permanently separate the Chicago River and various canals from Lake Michigan. Illinois Farm Bureau and Illinois lawmakers have resisted efforts to close Chicago-area locks that potentially could disrupt commercial barge traffic. Corps studies indicate Asian carp could invade the lakes at other points, including a low-lying marsh in Indiana and rivers in Minnesota.

(ISSN0197-6680) Vol. 40 No. 17

April 23, 2012

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 (bstandard@ilfb.org) Advertising Sales Manager

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Carol and Glenn Meyer, Steeleville, prepare potted plants for retail sale recently on their farm, G & C Meyer Farm in Randolph County. The Meyers’ specialty crop operation blossomed in 2002 when they installed a greenhouse on a portion of their farm that previously was used for hog production. The two green thumbs are Master Gardeners. (Photo by Ken Kashian)

Green thumb family excels in greenhouse

BY DANIEL GRANT FarmWeek

Glenn and Carol Meyer of Steeleville (Randolph County) for years had great success growing specialty crops, such as tomatoes and berries, to complement their row-crop operation. But it wasn’t until the couple added a greenhouse that their specialty crop operation really blossomed. “My wife always talked about getting a greenhouse,” Glenn said. “We had a family friend who was working at Walmart who told us they were taking one (a greenhouse) down at the Walmart. He offered to put it up on our far m.” The Meyers took their friend up on the offer and in 2002 they put up a 20by-75-foot hoop structure — about 12 feet tall in the center — on a portion of their operation, G & C

FarmWeekNow.com has forester directory

A University of Illinois Extension directory of foresters is available online at {www.farmweeknow.com}. Jay Hayek, a U of I Extension forester, reported last week’s FarmWeek story about timber marketing generated many requests for the online directory. Readers may access the directory by clicking on the article “Forester: Illinois timber owners could earn much more” at FarmWeekNow.com. Farm Bureaus members who need more assistance may contact their county Farm Bureau.

Meyer Far m, where they previously raised hogs. Carol worked with the couple’s daughter, Annette, a horticulturalist at the University of Kentucky, in deter mining which fruits, vegetables, and flowers would be the best fit on their far m and in the greenhouse. “It just kind of all fell into place,” said Carol, who became a Master Gardener in 2004. “I always enjoyed plants and growing things.” Glenn followed suit and became a Master Gardener in 2005. The Meyers currently are certified sellers of Proven Winners variety of plants and flowers. More infor mation about that line of plants is available online at {www.provenwinners.com}. “We do the best we can to get the varieties that work in our area, whether it’s vegetables, fruits, or flowers,” Carol said. “You need to know what you’re doing.” Gardeners in Randolph County have to deal with clay soils and oftentimes high heat in the summer

that some plants can’t tolerate, Carol noted. G & C Meyer Far m sells many flowers and hanging baskets. The Meyers also grow tomatoes, cabbage, and peppers in the greenhouse and sell seeds for many garden vegetables. “We grow garden products in there (the greenhouse) too,” Glenn said. “My nephew runs the commercial far m.” The Meyers also put out 250 to 300 tomato plants and har vest about 11 100foot rows of blackberries, 75 bushes of blueberries, and 300 feet of black raspberries. Glenn, who ser ved as the District 16 director on the Illinois Far m Bureau Board from 1992 to 2004, also was the interlocking member of the Illinois Specialty Growers Association board. Carol is a graduate of the IFB Agriculture Leaders of Tomorrow (ALOT) program. The couple in 2010 won the IFB Eagle Award of Excellence and still remain active members in Far m Bureau and the Specialty Growers Association.

U of I Extension launches websites The University of Illinois Extension’s agriculture educators at the university’s agricultural research and demonstration centers recently launched websites with information and research findings. The four crop-focused educators are Dennis Bowman in Urbana, Russ Higgins in Shabbona, Robert Bellm in Brownstown, and Angie Peltier in Monmouth. Each educator’s website features a blog communicating the center’s research and discussing factors that may influence the region’s crop production.The websites may be accessed at {http://bulletin.ipm.illinois.edu /article.php?id=1610}.


Page 3 Monday, April 23, 2012 FarmWeek

education

Farm Credit donations sustain ag education, leadership BY KAY SHIPMAN FarmWeek

The charitable donations of 1st Farm Credit Services (FCS) touched the lives of many students and adults across Illinois last year and will expand those experiences this year. Last week, the IAA Foundation awarded checks to representatives of 10 groups selected to receive a total of $85,000 in donations from the 1st FCS’ donor-advised fund (see map for coverage area). A new recipient this year was Annie’s Project, which provides education and training for women involved with agricultural production.

Annie’s Project received $4,000. The remaining funding was divided among the University of Illinois College of Agricultural, Consumer, and Environmental Science: $19,000; Illinois State University Department of Agriculture, $5,500; and Western Illinois University School of Agriculture, $5,500. Other recipients were: Illinois Agriculture in the Classroom, $16,000; Illinois Ag Leadership Foundation, $16,000; Illinois FFA $4,500; Illinois 4-H Foundation, $4,500; AgrAbility Unlimited, $5,000; and Cook County Farm Bureau Foundation, $5,000 for

viding programs to enhance agriculture education, youth, and leadership,” said Steve Cowser, chairman of 1st FCS Board of Directors. “The contributions given today speak to the long-term commitment made by 1st Farm Credit Services to support agriculture and also serves as a great way to

Norton president-elect for leadership group Chicago students’ ag and science projects. “Each of the recipients has an established history of pro-

Simon says voluntary, virtual consolidation recommended Draft recommendations from a state education commission will support voluntary and virtual school consolidations, Lt. Sheila Simon Gov. Sheila Simon said last week. The Classrooms First Commission released its report last week. The commission is

studying how districts can reduce costs and improve student learning. In a RFD Radio-FarmWeek interview, Simon said the commission, which she chairs, supports voluntary district consolidation and virtual consolidation for districts whose large territories make traditional consolidation impractical. Virtual consolidations would save money by allowing districts to share bookkeepers

or books, she explained. The commission’s draft recommendations are available online at {www2.illinois.gov/ltgov/Pages/defa ult.aspx}. Simon has indicated repeatedly that the state would not force school consolidation despite Gov. Pat Quinn’s earlier comments that the state would save money by reducing the number of school districts from 900 to 300. — Kay Shipman

Simon schedules listening sessions Rural leaders, citizens, and employers are invited to attend two listening sessions April 30 and May 10, Lt. Governor Sheila Simon announced last week. Hosted by the Governor’s Rural Affairs Council and the Illinois Institute for Rural Affairs (IIRA) at Western Illi-

nois University, the sessions will focus on rural health care, education, infrastructure, business climate, workforce training, and quality of life. Dates and locations are April 30, 1 to 3 p.m., FHN Burchard Hills Family Healthcare Center, Freeport; and May 10, 10 a.m. to noon, The Ray

highlight the accomplishments of each group receiving donations from the fund,” added Susan Moore, director of the IAA Foundation. Established in 2010 with an initial investment of $1 million, donations from the fund after two years now total $160,000.

and Joan Kroc Corps Community Center, Quincy. Information from the sessions will be used to develop a strategic plan for the state. The plan, which will include specific policy recommendations, will be written by the IIRA and presented to the Rural Affairs Council in July.

Don Norton of Macomb has been named CEO and president-elect of the Illinois Agricultural Leadership Foundation (IALF). Norton will succeed Joyce Watson, who recently announced her retirement would be effective Aug. 10. Norton currently serves as foundation education coordinator, working with Watson and IALF’s Education Committee to develop curriculum for each of IALF’s 14 seminars included in its two-year leadership training program. He also assists with grant writing and alumni relations for the foundation. Norton has taught broadcasting and Don Norton “new” media, public speaking, advertising, and public relations at the university and community college levels. Prior to joining IALF in November 2010, he taught at South Suburban College in South Holland and before that at Western Illinois University (WIU). Norton received his master of arts degree in communications from WIU in 1991. He has held marketing communications positions with Northrop Corp. and Blue Cross in California, and has worked on numerous marketing communications projects for ag businesses while with Mediacall Inc. As a radio news anchor and reporter, Norton earned four Illinois Associated Press awards for his work at WGN in Chicago, WJBC in Bloomington, and WJEQ in Macomb. “The (IALF) Board of Directors is excited that Don will be leading the foundation into a new era,” said GROWMARK and IALF Board Chairman Dan Kelley. “His skills as an educator and communications professional will provide the organization with a high level of visibility while at the same time maintaining the integrity of the leadership training we provide.”

Be sure farm machinery is properly marked for road travel Several Illinois laws require farm equipment to be properly marked when operated on public roads. Slow moving vehicle (SMV) emblems must be displayed on implements of husbandry (any vehicle used for agriculture, horticulture, or livestock) whenever those vehicles are on a public road — day or night. The SMV must be mounted at or near the center of the rear of the vehicle and not less than four feet nor more than 10 feet above the road’s surface.

Newer farm equipment also must have conspicuity markings, which are alternating red and fluorescent orange reflective horizontal bars across the rear of the implement. Each marking is two inches by nine inches. The marking may have gaps of up to six feet and should extend to within 16 inches of the vehicle’s left and right extremities. Far m machinery on the road must have lights turned on between sunset and sunrise. Older equipment, manufactured in 2002 or earlier, must have at least two white headlights on the towing unit, two red taillights, and

at least one oscillating, rotating, or flashing amber light that is visible from the rear and mounted as high as is practical. If an implement that is being towed partially or fully obscures the taillights and/or the SMV emblem on the towing vehicle, the rearmost implement being towed must have lights and markings. The flashing amber lights must be mounted on the rearmost implement being towed. Farm equipment manufactured in 2003 or later must have two white headlights and two flashing amber lights visible from the front and two flashing amber lights and two red tail reflectors visible from the rear. Most major manufacturers meet these requirements.

If the tractor or the implement is more than eight feet wide, amber reflectors are required on the front to mark the extremities. If the width is more than 12 feet, flashing amber lights — front and rear — and conspicuity markings on the rear must be extended to within 16 inches of the right and left extremities. Implements that measure more than 16 feet in length from the point of hitch to the rear must have a SMV emblem mounted on the rear and amber reflectors along each side. If that length is more than 25 feet, the implement must have taillights and flashing amber lights on the rear — even if those lights also are visible on the tractor. — Kay Shipman


FarmWeek Page 4 Monday, April 23, 2012

government

Flood insurance bill highlights concerns BY MARTIN ROSS FarmWeek

A new U.S. House flood insurance proposal to some may seem a bit over the top, but the debate could help rural Illinoisans currently struggling to keep their heads and businesses above water. A measure by Rep. John Garamendi (D-Calif.) would allow farmers to obtain subsidized flood insurance on some existing and new ag structures behind a levee that meets flood protection criteria as prescribed in his bill. As part of a federal floodplain remapping process, many existing levees that protect ag land have been “decertified” by the Federal Emergency Management

Agency (FEMA). Decertification can require affected property owners to buy insurance, pay higher premiums, and meet strict building requirements for all new construction or improvements. In some cases, federal downgrades could prevent farmers in the floodplain from rebuilding or expanding operations. Garamendi’s Flood Insurance for Farmers Act would exempt new and substantially improved ag structures from flood plans that communities must adopt to be eligible for National Flood Insurance Program coverage. It allows rebuilding of ag or residential structures within a “covered levee-protected area” — in the House bill, an area with at

least one foot of “freeboard,” or levee height above a 100-year flood. A 100-year levee has been defined as one built to resist a flood event with a 1 percent chance of occurring in a given year. FEMA has required three feet of freeboard for levee certification, and decertification can occur if added height falls below that level as a result of settling or deterioration or the calculated elevation of a 100-year flood is raised due to changing weather or land use conditions. Garamendi’s plan would allow rebuilding of residential and non-residential structures (other than those that have sustained repeated loss-

es) in a so-called “legacy community,” where agriculture is or has been an economic mainstay. The measure requires FEMA to provide insurance coverage on request for new or substantially improved farm structures in a covered protection area, at a subsidized rate. According to Illinois Farm Bureau’s Kevin Rund, the Garamendi bill offers “afterthe-fact” relief for producers impacted by levee decertification. Farm Bureau seeks flexible floodplain policies that offer communities “adequate time” to repair belowcapacity levees before they are decertified. “This proposal basically waives the bulk of restric-

tions that apply to farm operations and small ag communities — anything under 2,000 in population,” Rund said. “Those in the floodplains, behind the levees, may herald this bill because it frees them from a lot of restrictions FEMA otherwise would put on them. “For those who’ve been trying to lessen the impact of flooding, ‘clean up’ the floodplains, and require floodproofing of new structures, this could be seen as setting that effort way back. “It’s going to see strong, strong opposition in Washington. But it also will help put a spotlight on this problem of (levee) decertification,” said Rund.

Nutrition spending: Where to cut with least pain It’s a tough issue: Food and nutrition programs offer one of the few large ag spending pots left for a budget-conscious Congress to explore, but they provide a crucial farm bill connection for urban lawmakers. Illinois Farm Bureau President Philip Nelson hopes lawmakers can rationally evaluate program costs and posPhilip Nelson sible savings without resorting to partisan politics. Nelson sees at least two key “areas of contention” in 2012 farm bill debate: Differences over how to devise new farm safety net programs that can serve producers across commodity and regional lines, and the potential extent of and need for spending cuts in federal food/nutrition programs. With direct payments on the way out, nutrition program spending, the largest component of the farm bill budget, becomes the “light-

ning rod” for further reductions, Nelson noted. But that doesn’t mean U.S. families dependent on food or nutritional assistance have to suffer, he stressed. The U.S. Conference of Mayors last week blasted a House Ag Committee proposal to cut $33 billion in Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) — i.e., food stamp — funding over a 10year period, charging it would cut benefits to low-income and senior consumers and reduce state revenues accrued through SNAP-related grocery/retail sales. The Ag Committee argued its newly approved budget reconciliation package instead would target “reforms, elimination of loopholes, and the reduction of waste, fraud, and abuse” within SNAP. An earlier House Republican budget resolution proposal recommended $122.5 billion in longterm SNAP cuts. Last fall, Farm Bureau suggested at least $4 billion to $5 billion could be saved through greater efficiency in food program administration. Nelson feels a more extensive federal

examination of program operation could suggest savings. “In the last farm bill, we put an additional $10 billion into the nutrition area,” he noted. “What we’re saying is not to cut those programs — we can try to streamline them and make them more effective for the dollars invested.” Senate Ag Chairman Debbie Stabenow’s (D-Mich.) farm bill plan, released Friday, reportedly would attempt to improve SNAP accountability by: • Blocking lottery winners from continuing to receive assistance. • Ending program misuse by college students. • Cracking down on retailers and recipients engaged in illegal benefits “trafficking.” • Increasing requirements to prevent liquor and tobacco stores from becoming SNAP retailers. • Eliminating gaps in standards that result in overpayment of benefits. University of Illinois ag economist Craig Gundersen warns against letting politically charged rhetoric drive arbitrary nutrition cuts. Gunder-

WIU plans May 3 pennycress field day Farmers will have an opportunity to learn about field pennycress at a May 3 field day hosted by Western Illinois University (WIU). It will be held rain or shine. The free event will be from 10 a.m. to noon at the Agriculture Field Laboratory near WIU’s Macomb campus. The School of Agriculture established the annual field day to introduce a new winter annual crop to local and regional farmers, according to Win Phippen, WIU researcher and faculty member. “Due to the unseasonably warm weather this spring, the annual field pennycress plot

tour has been moved to the first week of May,” Phippen noted. Researchers, along with industry representatives, will discuss the unique short-season crop. Information presented will include planting date studies; winter and spring variety trials; planting methods; winter and spring nitrogen treatments; and results from a soybean croprotation study. For more information, contact Phippen at 309-298-1251. Information also is online from the Pennycress Resource Network at {www.wiu.edu/pennycress/}.

sen, a specialist in nutrition policy, emphasizes the benefits SNAP purchases accrue both to major food chains and small convenience marts in rural communities as well as urban neighborhoods. He argues SNAP largely has been “successful in alleviating food insecurity” and, by extension, improving “educational outcomes” among children fed through the program. Food insecurity rates jumped from 2007 to 2008, “and those rates have remained high ever since then,” Gundersen said.

He nonetheless suggests policymakers could “rethink” the way SNAP benefits are calculated. Minimum benefit levels actually could be raised with a “budget-neutral” impact by adjusting SNAP “discounts” at higher benefit levels, the economist said. “If somebody has a projected benefit level of $100, maybe they should receive more for a family of four,” Gundersen told FarmWeek. “If someone has a projected benefit level of $500, maybe they should get less.” — Martin Ross

Farm bill Continued from page 1 to seek further savings in the program, said Adam Nielsen, IFB national legislative director. Nelson maintains those subsidies are crucial in encouraging many farmers to use crop policies, especially as Congress looks to eliminate direct farm payments. “We view crop insurance as a risk management tool that really takes on a life of its own, from small operations to large operations and, more importantly, as producers weigh a decision on what level they want to manage their risk,” he said in an RFD Radio-FarmWeek interview. “Going into this farm bill, we knew that with the elimination of direct payments, we needed to have an adequate safety net to help us manage risk. You can see by the participation in crop insurance right here in this state that farmers utilize that as a tool — a very important tool.” IFB also is monitoring potential efforts to tie new conservation compliance requirements to crop insurance. Meanwhile, House Ag Committee Chairman Frank Lucas (ROkla.) announced another series of ag subcommittee farm bill hearings beginning Wednesday and concluding in May. Wednesday’s hearing will focus on rural development, while Thursday hearings will explore conservation and dairy programs. Members will review nutrition and specialty crop programs on May 8, credit programs on May 10, commodity programs and crop insurance on May 16 and 17, and energy and forestry programs on May 18. Recent House field hearings in Galesburg and other locales gathered grassroots input on future farm policies and priorities. New Capitol Hill hearings will “round out” information needed to draft House proposals, the Ag Committee reported.


Page 5 Monday, April 23, 2012 FarmWeek

production

Rain interrupts planting; dryness still a concern BY DANIEL GRANT FarmWeek

Scattered rain and cool soil temperatures last week interrupted planting progress at many locations in the state. But Illinois corn planting still is off to one of the quickest starts in recent history. “Ground conditions have been very good,” Philip Nelson, Illinois Farm Bureau president and a LaSalle County farmer, told the RFD Radio Network last week. “We’re at the two-thirds mark (for corn planting) and hope to wrap up over the weekend.” Corn planting as of the first of last week was 41 percent complete statewide compared to just 8 percent last year and the five-year average of 6 percent, according to the National Agricultural Statistics Service (NASS) Illinois field office. “We’ve got half a day of

corn planting left,” said Dennis Green, IFB District 13 director and a farmer from Lawrence County, whose farm received about 2.1 inches of rain in recent weeks. “When we get done, and if it doesn’t rain, we’ll probably start on soybeans.” Illinois farmers as of the first of last week planted 2 percent of their soybeans compared to the five-year average of 1 percent. Doug Uphoff, a FarmWeek Cropwatcher from Shelby County, finished planting corn on April 11 but noted the recent stretch of cool, wet weather slowed planting and crop progress. “Cooler temps have slowed crop progress dramatically,” Uphoff said. “Soil temps were 65 degrees in March and have cooled to the middle-50s” as of last week. Cropwatchers’ reports will

return to FarmWeek in the May 7 issue. Fortunately, the National Weather Service’s (NWS) eight- to 14-day forecast last week called for a return to above-normal temperatures, Chris Geelhart, meteorologist at the NWS Lincoln office, reported. Precipitation, however, was projected to be below normal in the southeast half of the state and near normal in the northwest portion. “We have a small area of moderate drought in Central Illinois, roughly from Rushville to Lincoln and over to Clinton,” Geelhart said last week prior to some scattered showers on Friday. “We also have abnormally dry conditions in places between the I80 and I-72 corridors, and a little bit along the Ohio River.” Nelson said a lack of rain-

fall probably is the top concern for farmers so far this season. “We just need Mother Nature to cooperate and give us some showers to recharge the soils,” he said. NASS last week also reported 40 percent of the

wheat crop in Illinois was headed, compared to the average of just 1 percent; 93 percent of oats were planted, compared to the average of 44 percent; and 3 percent of the first cutting of alfalfa was complete, compared to the average of 1 percent.

Early crop development prompts need for scouting Farmers who have wheat or early-planted corn that is developing quickly should scout those fields soon, according to University of Illinois specialists. Early-planted corn should be evaluated for frost damage and for signs of black cutworm moth feeding activity while viruses reportedly are present in some wheat fields. Corn that emerged prior to April 1 had, as of last week, endured at least two

corn plants suffered more frost damage due to dry soils. Dry soils have low heat-holding capacity, he noted. The crop specialist encouraged farmers who have corn that was emerged during recent frost events to check the growing point — the tip of the stem at the base of the plant — on some plants to make sure it remains white and healthy. Nafziger also encouraged farmers to take population counts to see if replanting

“Don’t assume the cold weather took care of the black cutworm threat this spring,” said Mike Gray, U of I Extension crop sciences coordinator and entomologist. “Corn plants in the oneto-four-leaf stage remain susceptible to cutting,” he continued. “Producers should be monitoring their fields closely this spring for potential stand reductions.” Meanwhile, wheat growers

‘ We are finding that most damaged plants are very slow to send out new leaf tissue, and some are making no regrowth at all .’ — Emerson Nafziger University of Illinois crop systems specialist

nights of below-freezing temperatures in several parts of the state. “We nor mally assure ourselves that, with the growing point protected beneath the soil surface, the potential for regrowth back into nor mal plants is high,” said Emerson Nafziger, U of I Extension crop systems specialist. “However, we are finding that most damaged plants are very slow to send out new leaf tissue, and some are making no regrowth at all.” Nafziger believes some

may be in order in some frost-damaged fields. Corn that was in at least the V-3 (third leaf) stage during the frosts generally exhibited the most damage. “Some of the badly damaged plants were showing some regrowth (as of last week),” he said. “Others showed no regrowth and probably will not survive.” The wave of cool weather apparently did not slow the spring migratory flight of black cutworm moths, which has been heavy in some areas of the state.

should be scouting their fields because symptoms of virus infection, such as purple or yellow leaf tips, have been observed in some wheat fields. Discoloration of wheat leaves in Illinois often are caused by barley yellow dwarf, a virus transmitted by aphids, and wheat soilborne mosaic virus or wheat spindle streak mosaic virus that are transmitted by soilborne organisms that feed on wheat roots. There are no in-season control options for wheat viruses once symptoms are

observed, according to Carl Bradley, U of I plant pathologist. However, farmers can prevent the transmission of viruses by aphids, such as barley yellow dwarf, by using seed treatments or foliar insecticides. “For the best management

of wheat viruses, choose varieties that have high levels of resistance to these diseases,” Bradley said. The U of I Plant Clinic can help farmers facilitate virus-specific tests of wheat samples. — Daniel Grant

Freeze raises tough questions for Champaign County orchard BY KAY SHIPMAN FarmWeek

A Champaign County orchard owner last week could not speculate about freeze damage to his apple crop because he’d never experienced a freeze at this stage of crop development. While fruit growers to the south and other parts of Illinois apparently were spared, Champaign County growers with an early crop saw recent temperatures dip to the mid-20s. “It’s the kind of year that we don’t have history to go on,” Randy Graham, co-owner of Curtis Orchards, told FarmWeek. “We’ve not gone through a freeze before (when we) had small fruit on the trees.” Curtis Orchard is an 80-acre farm with more than 4,500 apple trees, 20 acres of pumpkins, and a country store near Champaign. Earlier, Blake Kamp of Hagen Family Orchard near Golden Eagle in Calhoun County said his family’s peach and apple crops did not appear to be damaged. In late March, FarmWeek profiled the Kamps and the unusual mid-March bloom of their peach trees. Graham said apple tree leaf surfaces and some fruit look good, but he noted the susceptibility to cold weather may vary among apple varieties. The orchard grows more than 30 varieties. He has past experience with a frost occurring when the trees are in bloom or have buds and has learned how to detect potential damage to the crop at that stage. “It’s a little difficult to assess (the crop) at this point. There are lots of apples on the trees. We’re not sure if they will keep growing or not,” Graham said. “It’s a weird, challenging kind of scenario.”


FarmWeek Page 6 Monday, April 23, 2012

ResouRces

Scientists face water quality, other issues End-users counting on big corn BY KAY SHIPMAN FarmWeek

Urban impacts on water quality, planning for droughts, and regulatory water standards are shared challenges for the Illinois and English scientists who compared different approaches last week in Urbana. “No single academic discipline can solve water issues. It will involve every science humans can bring to bear —and economics,” University of Illinois President Designate Robert Easter advised the scientists. Last week, a team of scientists from the University of Leeds discussed water research with researchers from the U of I, the Illinois State Water Survey, and the Prairie Research Institute. The British scientists are working on many of the same problems as their Illinois counterparts. Government rules and water standards are issues in both countries. Illinois scientists referred to the federal Clean Water Act (CWA), while the British discussed the Water Framework Directive (WFD). Mark David, a biogeochemist in the U of I College of Agricultural, Consumer, Environmental Sciences, described the challenges of establishing water nutrient standards in the Midwest. Using future nutrient standards to improve water quality also will be a challenge, according to David. “Fixing one (nutrient) may not fix another, and they are difficult to tackle

together,” he said. “It’s very seldom nutrients alone are a problem of Illinois streams.” He reported Illinois researchers have found many factors influence the quality of water in streams, rivers, and lakes, and scientists have not found simple formulas to assess water quality. “In my mind, nutrients may not be the biggest (water quality) problem we face; it may be habitat or sediment,” David said. “Do we really want to spend money on (practices to reduce) nutrients when there is only so much money to go around?” British researchers shared similar concerns about whether water bodies would be able to meet the 2015 quality deadlines established in the WFD. That deadline may be delayed until 2027, according to Leeds scientist Paul Kay, who studies agricultural impacts on water quality. “You can see the whole of England is going to fail (water standards) because of nitrates,” Kay said as he pointed to a map depicting impaired water bodies. Kay described English watershed projects designed to educate local farmers about best management practices. After the watershed initiative started in 2006, “we have seen significant decrease in nitrate (levels) in some streams,” Kay reported. The U of I’s David mentioned Illinois’ agriculture sector last fall initiated Keep It for the Crop (KIC) by 2025 to help reduce nutrients.

crop from U.S. farmers this year BY DANIEL GRANT FarmWeek

The early start to the growing season is just what farmers and end users needed this year as they hope for one of the largest corn crops in U.S. history. Farmers hope to grow more corn to take advantage of profitable prices while endusers are relying on a big crop to ease tight supplies. USDA earlier this month

U.S. farmers this year will plant 95.9 million acres of corn, which would be the highest total since 1937 when U.S. farmers planted 97.2 million acres. Farmers planted that much corn 75 years ago to meet strong on-farm feed demand, Anderson noted. It also was a time when yields were much lower, stocks needed to be rebuilt after the Dust Bowl, and there was less competi-

‘There’s a lot of talk of a big crop, but it’s still months and months away (from harvest). The corn supply now is very tight.’ — John Anderson AFBF senior economist

projected ending stocks of corn at just 801 million bushels while it lowered global coarse grain supplies by 4.3 million tons. “There’s a lot of talk of a big crop, but it’s still months and months away,” John Anderson, American Farm Bureau Federation senior economist, told FarmWeek. “The corn supply now is very tight.” USDA projected corn used in the U.S. for ethanol production this year will total 5 billion bushels while feed and residual use was projected to total 4.6 billion bushels. “The main thing affecting our industry today is growing this big corn crop,” said Eric Moseby, general manager of the Lincolnland Agri-Energy ethanol production facility in Palestine. “This crop is especially critical,” he continued. “If we can rebuild stocks and prove we can keep enough corn to make all the ethanol we need and continue to do the other things (such as feed livestock and meet export demand) we’ve always done, that would be huge for us going forward.” USDA last month projected

tion from soybeans for acreage. “The main thing during that period of time is (farmers) still were growing corn to feed a lot of horses and mules,” Anderson said. “They had tremendous on-farm feed needs.” The corn yield in 1937 averaged just 28.9 bushels per acre, which produced a 2.5-billionbushel crop. This year, if farmers plant nearly 96 million acres and the national yield averages a projected 164 bushels per acre, farmers would produce a record 14.4billion-bushel crop, Anderson said. “Corn users would love to see a big crop,” the economist said. “And we’re on pace to get it planted.” U.S. farmers as of April 16 planted 17 percent of the corn crop, which was well ahead of the five-year average pace of just 5 percent. “The implications of early planting are less significant to yields than late planting,” Anderson added. “The quick start means we’re more likely to get all the planned (corn) acres planted — and maybe more.”


Page 7 Monday, April 23, 2012 FarmWeek

safety

Safety audits offer human, economic benefits BY MARTIN ROSS FarmWeek

The term “audit” generally brings chills to taxpayers this time of year. However, an onfarm safety audit can save lives and keep money in a farmer’s pocket. The Iowa Center for Agricultural Safety and Health (ICASH) Certified Safe Farm (CSF) program is an “agricultural intervention” program designed to reduced farm accidents and farm family illnesses. The center and Successful Farming magazine are offering producers a free CSF review as well as a $2,500 grant for operational safety improvements. CSF aims to change farmer attitudes and behaviors by encouraging occupational health screenings, on-farm safety reviews based on specific performance standards, expanded safety education, and incentives such as insurance or agribusiness discounts for outstanding safety efforts. The University of Iowabased center has refined a comprehensive on-farm safety checklist over the past dozen years (see accompanying list). However, I-CASH specialist Aaron Kline believes farmers are better served by an outside ”reviewer.” “Somebody who’s out on the farm every day, sees the same thing every day, just doesn’t think about it,” he told

FarmWeek. “The (auditor) can see things the farmer will miss. It’s just a way of drawing attention to those little items that can make a difference in the safety of the farm — little things that can add up in the long run.” To be eligible for a free CSF audit and safety grant, send a one-page application to Successful Farming by May 31. The application should include a brief description of operations and family members involved in them and an explanation of how your operation would benefit from a review. For information on CSF and the magazine’s “Operation FarmSafe” offer, visit {www.publichealth.uiowa.edu/icash/programs/CSF/index.html} I-CASH has developed a series of CSF safety “modules” addressing concerns for the average family farm, dairy farms, and elderly farmers. New modules targeting large farms and providing resources for farm ���self-audits” are in the works. Meanwhile, the Illinois Grain Health and Safety Coalition is developing a new program to train future local safety trainers. University of Illinois ag safety/health program leader and coalition coordinator Robert Aherin deems independent auditing a “good idea,” but

Safety 1-2-3 Check out Illinois Farm Bureau’s “Farm Safety 1-2-3” campaign online for seasonal safety tips and questions. IFB’s website includes a monthly checklist targeting an individual aspect of ag safety {www.ilfb.org/get-involved/be-safe.aspx}. With planters already in the field, April’s focus is general machinery safety. Monthly checklists have covered the waterfront from general topics such as pesticide handling and storage, fire prevention, emergency response, and tractor operation to less obvious but equally important areas such as lawn mower safety and precautions to be taken on farm lanes and driveways. “Slips and trips are some of the biggest hazards on the farm,” IFB safety program director Peggy Romba noted. Here are some key equipment questions to ponder before taking to the field: • Are key warning decals on machinery readable? Replacement decals are available from most dealers. • Are all equipment shields and guards in place? • Are all machines free of jagged metal or protrusions that could ensnare and/or injure an unsuspecting operator? • Is there a policy for when personal protective equipment should be used or worn? • Is any equipment likely to be towed on roadways equipped with safety chains and safety hitch pins? Is equipment attached properly according to regulations? • Are slow moving vehicle signs clean and reflective? Are they mounted on the rearmost piece of equipment before roadway travel? • Are defective or worn parts replaced as soon as possible (including tires)? • Are children and bystanders kept away from operating equipment? • Is power turned off before adjusting or servicing machinery or lockouts used if required? • Are moveable components properly blocked before repair or adjustment? Are they locked out? • Do you always observe the “no riders” rule on machines or drawbars? • When implements are parked, are they out of the transport position, blocked, or left in the down position as outlined in the operator’s manual? — Martin Ross

while grant funding’s helped I-CASH and Iowa Extension rural health providers offer services, he noted constraints in Illinois Extension funding and limited resources for on-farm visits. Kline considers health screenings a key prerequisite to an audit. For example, if a farmer has reduced breathing functions, an auditor can focus on respiratory hazards in livestock or grain facilities. Health issues nonetheless pose a challenge in developing insurance incentives for safe farms, Aherin said. Farm injury risks are merely “a small part” of the insurer equation, especially if an older farmer is ill-equipped to perform risky chores around otherwise safe facilities or equipment. This is an example of a farm safety checklist develThe estimated annual oped by the Iowa Center for Agricultural Safety and cost of ag-related injuries Health as part of its Certified Safe Farm program. A farm auditor/reviewer can rate all safety aspects of is $4.5 billion per year, which amounts to an aver- an operation and develop an overall safety “score” to guide on-farm improvements. age roughly $2,400 per

U.S. farm. Further, Kline noted concerns about future farm safety regulations that have arisen amid debate over proposed U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) ag child labor rules. DOL’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) generally does not inspect businesses with fewer than 11 employees, but a larger farm could face fines in the six figures if OSHA uncovers major onsite issues, he warned. OSHA regulations will be addressed in CSF’s large-farm module. “Safety costs are hidden,” Kline said. “If you have a problem on the farm, that cost could put you out of business. There’s a cost to not making safety part of your bottom line.”


FarmWeek Page 8 Monday, April 23, 2012

livestock

April cattle numbers could be start of bullish trend to show up. This could be the start of a string of a few Cattle prices were projected months of lower placeto remain steady to possibly 20 ments.” cents per hundredweight lower The industry is transitioning to start this week as large to fewer placements from large quantities of red meat in storplacements in feedlots last year age could weigh on markets when farmers had few other near-term. feed options due to droughtBut longstressed pastures. term, USDA’s FarmWeekNow.com “We’re payApril cattle on To check out the latest USDA ing for that feed report cattle on feed report, go to (run of large released Friday FarmWeekNow.com. feedlot placeshowed a signifments) now,” icant decline of placements in Nelson said. feedlots, which Rich Nelson, Marketings of fed cattle in director of research at Allen- March also declined by 4 perdale Inc. in McHenry, believes cent from a year ago to 1.92 could signal the start of a million head. bullish trend in the cattle Nelson projected cash cattle market. prices could average around USDA reported placements $116 to $117 per hundredin feedlots during March weight this summer before totaled 1.79 million head, making a move by the fourth down 6 percent from a year quarter. ago. “We should be rallying back “This is a good sign,” Nel- pretty aggressively by the son said. “The trade has been fourth quarter,” the analyst waiting for lower placements said. “We may be back to $130 on December futures.” U.S. cow and bull slaughter recently slowed to a pace of about 120,000 head per week, BY DANIEL GRANT FarmWeek

Cows and their calves relax in a pasture near Sesser in Franklin County. (Photo by Ken Kashian)

about 10 percent below yearago levels, according to authors of the CME Group Daily Livestock Report. The reduction of slaughter numbers could help prices long-term. But a steady supply

of cows and heavy red meat storage numbers currently are somewhat negative, according to Nelson. USDA on Friday reported the number of cattle and calves on feed as of April 1 totaled 11.48 million head, up 2 percent from last year. Meanwhile, total red meat supplies as of last week were up 3 percent from the previous month and up 11 percent from last year. Nelson believes the heavier red meat supplies are due in part to a pull-back in demand caused by confusion about lean finely textured beef, a 90 percent lean beef product that was used in ground beef but labeled “pink slime” by many media outlets. “It’s our opinion that the general media scare-mongering was a complete success,” Nelson said. “There is clear evidence consumers had a sharp aversion to not only ground beef but red meat as a whole last month.”

Beef supplies last week were up 14 percent compared to last year while pork supplies were 7 percent higher than a year ago, USDA noted last week in its cold storage report.


Page 9 Monday, April 23, 2012 FarmWeek

FROm ThE COuNTIES

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UREAU — Bureau and Lee County Farm Bureaus will sponsor their third annual Ag in the Classroom golf outing at 9 a.m. Friday, June 29, at Timber Creek, Dixon. Country Financial will provide lunch. Cost is $200 for a team of four, which includes cart and lunch. Deadline for reservations is June 22. Call the Bureau County Farm Bureau office at 815-875-6468 or the Lee County Farm Bureau office at 815-857-3531 for a reservation form or more information. • The Bureau and Henry County Farm Bureau Foundations will sponsor a TractorTrek Saturday and Sunday, June 23-24. Proceeds will benefit the Ag in the Classroom programs in the counties. Cost is $75, which includes lunch and refreshments. Deadline to enter is June 8. Call Dave Doty at 815-739-5983, the Bureau County Farm Bureau office at 815-875-6468, or the Henry County Farm Bureau office at 309-937-2411 for more information. • Bureau and Stark County Farm Bureaus will sponsor a trip Wednesday, June 20, to Chicago for a Chicago Architecture Foundation River Cruise. Cost is $100 and is due when registering. Nonmembers may attend. Call the Farm Bureau office at 815875-6468 by May 23 for reservations or more information. ULTON — National Prime Rib Day is Friday. Kim Newburn, owner of American Grille in Canton, will serve a prime rib special. Five dollars from every dinner will be donated to the area food pantry. There will be give-aways and a door prize drawing. The promotion is sponsored by the American Grille and its distributor, Fox River Foods. NOX — Henry, Knox, Mercer, Stark, and Warren-Henderson County Farm Bureaus will sponsor three “Ag in a Day” teacher workshops at the following dates and places: June 11, Galesburg; June 12, Alpha; and June 13, Kewanee. Workshops will include hands-on activities, grants for classrooms, kit give-aways, farm tours, and resources. There is no charge to attend. Deadline to register is May 15. Call the Mercer County Farm Bureau office at 309-582-5116 for reservations. Call the Knox County Farm Bureau office at 309-342-2036 or visit the website {www.knoxcfb.org} for more information. ASALLE — Farm Bureau will sponsor a bus trip June 27 to see the

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Chicago Cubs vs. the New York Mets game at Wrigley Field. Cost is $75 for members and $85 for non-members if paid by May 25. After May 25, the cost is $85 and $95, respectively. Tickets are on a first-come, first-served basis. Call the Farm Bureau office at 815-433-0371 for reservations or more information. EE — Bureau, Lee, and Whiteside County Farm Bureaus will sponsor the Summer Ag Institute II for teachers June 26-27. Cost is $25 for members and $40 for non-members. Certification units may be earned upon completion of the course. Register at the Farm Bureau office or call 875-6468 by May 15 for reservations or more information. • Lee and Bureau County Farm Bureaus are seeking hole sponsors for the annual Ag in the Classroom golf outing Friday, June 29. Cost is $100 a hole. Call the Farm Bureau office at 815-857-3531 or e-mail leecfb@comcast.net for more information. IVINGSTON — Farm Bureau has an opening for a summer intern to work one day per week for 13 weeks. Duties for the position would include preparation for and working at the 4-H Fair, IAA Golf Outing fundraiser, and Young Leader activities. Submit a resume to Livingston County Farm Bureau, PO Box 410, Pontiac, Ill. 61764 or email to tvlcfb@frontier.com. Deadline to return applications is Monday, April 30. TARK — The Ag in the Classroom Committee is selling raffle tickets for a 2012 John Deere 8350R pedal tractor. Cost is $3 each or two for $5. All proceeds will benefit the Ag in the Classroom program. Call the Farm Bureau office at 286-7481 for more information. ERMILION — Farm Bureau will sponsor a Marketing Local Foods workshop at 7 p.m. Monday, May 7, at the Farm Bureau auditorium. Cynthia Haskins and Mary Ellen Fricke, Illinois Farm Bureau, will discuss establishing a brand identity and developing a marketing plan for food products along with websites and social media. Call the Farm Bureau office for more information.

FOLLOWING CORN’S TRAVEL

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

Schuyler County Farm Bureau ag literacy coordinator Jean Barron recently provided a lesson on corn to students in the Rushville-Industry School District. Students saw pictures and illustrations of an actual Schuyler County farmer, Greg Rebman, and the process a load of his corn went through from his field to the end user. Half of his load of corn went to China (for human consumption) and the other half went to Mexico (for chicken feed). Thanks to the elevator and friends of agriculture, he was able to get pictures of the whole process (see {rebmanfarms.com}; click on Grain Trak). The students were shown how the Panama Canal plays a huge role in exporting corn. Students received a corn muffin and a corn Ag Mag to share at home. Pictured is Mrs. Darcey Wort’s second grade class. (Photo by Schuyler County Farm Bureau manager Kelly Westlake)


FarmWeek Page 10 Monday, April 23, 2012

ProfItAbILIty

New engine technology, fuels cause ‘sticky’ injectors BY KEN REICHERT

Today’s diesel engines outperform the diesel engine technology of just a few years ago in many ways. Original Equipment Manufacturers (OEM) now incorporate sophisticated, electronically Ken Reichert controlled fuel injection systems that inject diesel fuel into engine

cylinders as many as seven times per injection cycle at pressures up to 30,000 psi. These new High Pressure Common Rail (HPCR) systems feature extremely tight tolerances between the fuel injector body and the injector plunger. Clearances can be as tiny as 1 3 microns. As early as 2008, OEMs began noticing injectors “sticking” in their HPCR systems. The affected engines seemed to operate fine at normal operating temperatures, but when

USDA

Farm Service Agency Unauthorized disposition of grain — If loan grain has been disposed of through feeding, selling, or any other form of disposal without prior written authorization from the county FSA office staff, it is considered an unauthorized disposition. The financial penalties for unauthorized dispositions are severe and a farmer’s name will be placed on a loan violation list for a two-year period. Always call before you haul any grain under loan. Rural youth loans — FSA makes loans to rural youth to establish and operate income-producing projects in connection with 4-H clubs, FFA, and other agricultural groups. Projects must be planned and operated with the help of the organization’s adviser, produce sufficient income to repay the loan, and provide the youth with practical business and educational experience. The maximum loan amount is $5,000. 5 FSA offices to start part-time hours in July — Five Illinois FSA offices will be open two days a week, starting on July 17. Those offices are located in Boone, Calhoun, Union, Wabash, and Williamson counties. Additional details and specific office hours will be released in the future.

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 $32.88-46.00 $39.08 n/a n/a no longer reported by USDA This Week Last Week 101,105 92,445 *Eastern Corn Belt prices picked up at seller’s farm

shut down, they would be hard to start, run rough, or not start at all. At the time, there was little understanding of the problem, or what was causing it. It was known that the problem wasn’t isolated to any one engine manufacturer or specific fuel or biodiesel blend. The operating problems continued to become more prevalent in the field and outside of the OEMs’ laboratories. In 2009, after much analysis, it was determined that whitegray, soapy, waxy deposits were causing the sticky injectors. Further analysis revealed the new deposits, now termed “Internal Diesel Injector Deposits” (IDID) consisted of carboxylate salts. Detergents that historically

were effective at removing the carbonaceous deposits that form on injector tips and orifices exhibited only a limited effect on the new, waxy deposits. Even finer fuel filters were ineffective at preventing the problem. So what was causing the new deposits? Researchers determined the carboxylate salt formation was related to the introduction of Ultra Low Sulfur Diesel (ULSD) fuel. Corrosion inhibitor chemistry, traditionally used to maintain pipeline integrity, combined with insoluble sodium found in the ULSD fuel to produce the resulting carboxylate salts, which likely had been present in the fuel for years. The deposits only manifested and became a problem as the

new HPCR technology became widely used in diesel engines. As a result, fuel additive manufacturers developed new, sophisticated detergent chemistry to address the problem. Recognizing the efficacy of the new chemistry, several OEMs now recommend fuels containing it or sell an additive product for conventional No. 2 diesel fuel. Dieselex Gold from FS has been reformulated to incorporate improved detergency as well as several other performance upgrades to help your diesel engines run at optimum performance. For more information, see your local FS energy specialist. Ken Reichert is GROWMARK’s refined and renewable fuels sales manager. His e-mail address is reichert@growmark.com.

Purdue offers new webinar on bees, neonicotinoids Insecticides known as neonicotinoids are used extensively across the Corn Belt, according to Mike Gray, University of Illinois professor of entomology and crop sciences Extension coordinator. Research reports have identified exposure to the neonicotinoids, which are used as seed coatings and foliar sprays, as a contributing factor in honeybee deaths from colony collapse disorder. Recently, Christian Krupke, Purdue University entomology professor, offered a webinar about the insecticide, its uses, and concerns. It is online at {https://gomeet.itap.purdue.edu/p32228058/}. “This class of insecticide, which includes clothianidin and thiamethoxam, is widely used

in the form of insecticidal seed treatments,” Gray said. “Imidacloprid, another neonicotinoid insecticide, is used widely in urban and suburban landscapes to protect ornamentals from insect injury.” Overall, these products are used extensively in both urban and rural settings and are a source of concern. In addition to the webinar, Krupke collaborated on a research paper about pesticide exposures of honey bees living near agricultural fields. It was published in the January 2012 journal PLoS ONE (Volume 7, Issue 1). Gray encouraged people who are interested in the topic to read the report and view the webinar.

DISCUSSING PLANS

Eastern Corn Belt direct hogs (plant delivered) Carcass Live

(Prices $ per hundredweight) This week Prev. week $79.23 $79.66 $58.63 $58.95

Change -0.43 -0.32

USDA five-state area slaughter cattle price Steers Heifers

(Thursday’s price) (Thursday’s price) Prev. week Change This week 122.98 122.00 0.98 122.38 122.00 0.38

CME feeder cattle index — 600-800 Lbs. This is a composite price of feeder cattle transactions in 27 states. (Prices $ per hundredweight) Prev. week Change This week 150.18 149.14 1.04

Lamb prices n/a

Export inspections (Million bushels) Week ending Soybeans Wheat Corn 04-12-12 18.1 25.7 42.9 04-05-12 27.9 17.7 26.6 Last year 16.0 38.0 39.0 Season total 1059.6 870.6 1023.1 Previous season total 1339.3 1064.8 1085.2 USDA projected total 1275 1000 1700 Crop marketing year began June 1 for wheat and Sept. 1 for corn and soybeans.

Bill Sulcer, left, of Sesser in Franklin County talked over work plans with his employee, Dylan Loucks, as they were getting ready to refill Sulcer’s sprayer before heading back to the field to spray some recently planted corn. Sulcer described the soil conditions as excellent and mellow. (Photo by Ken Kashian)


Page 11 Monday, April 23, 2012 FarmWeek

PROFITABILITY Corn Strategy

CASH STRATEGIST

Early planting linked to good yields Even though the correlation isn’t perfect, the enclosed graphics tend to support the contention that early planting results in good yields. There are years that stand out, in particular 1980 and 2010 for corn, in which yields came in below trend even though corn was planted in a timely manner. There is a bit stronger tendency for yields to come in below trend when corn is planted late. But again, there are some years in which yields were good even though the crop was planted slowly, 2009 being the most recent. This year’s corn planting pace nationally is good, but not a record. As of last week, planting was 17 percent complete nationwide. On that

same week in 2010, farmers had planted 19 percent of the crop, and in 2004 they had planted 20 percent. But by the next week in 2010, farmers nationwide had planted 50 percent of the corn crop. This year’s pace won’t be near that, and may even be a little behind the 37 percent planted by the same week in 2004. If corn planting goes well, soybean planting tends to as well. And like corn, there is a tendency for yields to be good if the crop is planted timely, if not a little faster than normal. Like corn, there are a few more exceptions, with latesummer dryness a stronger drag on soybean yields than it seems to for corn. Still, looking across the years, when a crop is planted early, yields tend to be close to trend, if not better. And so far, there’s nothing in the weather forecasts to suggest this year’s crops won’t be planted in a timely manner.

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Cents per bu.

ü2011 crop: Friday’s quick retracement of Thursday’s gains suggested the 20-week low likely still lies ahead. Given current prices, and the approaching low, we’d put off making any catch-up sales until after that low has hit. Even if prices drop lower in the short term, July futures should be able to reach these levels again. ü2012 crop: Use rallies to $5.40 on December futures to make catch-up sales. Newcrop sales were increased to 40 percent when the fail-safe was triggered two weeks ago. We prefer hedge-to-arrive contracts for making sales, but plan to tie up the basis by mid-summer. vFundamentals: Good planting and good weather undermined the corn market, along with speculative liquidation in the old-crop months. Persistent weakness in wheat markets remains a downward drag on the old-crop corn market. Late week, rumors of Chinese interest sparked a rebound, but the lack of confirmation allowed prices to slide just as quickly.

Soybean Strategy

ü2011 crop: We aren’t opposed to wrapping up sales, but the market still hasn’t given a good signal prices are about to turn down. But the first break could be brutal with the record long position held by the trading funds. Use strength for catch-up sales. ü2012 crop: Get sales to recommended levels. Price another 10 percent if November futures hit $14. vFundamentals: Chinese buying talk, a small reduction in the Argentine crop, and speculative buying are holding the soybean market up, the latter in particular. Sales on the most recent weekly report were good, but they were made ahead of the April 10 USDA supply/demand report. That hints end users were playing a little defense against the possibility of a friendly report. There’s talk Canadian producers are poised to plant record acreage to canola. ûFail-safe: If July futures

fall below $14.09, wrap up old-crop sales, and make the new-crop sale.

Wheat Strategy

ü2011 crop: Wheat may have seen a short-term low, but the market remains vulnerable to further weakness with seasonal pressure an increasing drag on prices. Use rallies to wrap up oldcrop sales. With the end of the marketing year approaching, use the cash market to make sales. Don’t carry unhedged inventories beyond April. ü2012 crop: Use rallies to $6.39 on Chicago July futures to make catch-up sales. Producers selling 100 percent off

the combine need to be aggressive in making sales on rallies. vFundamentals: The most recent crop progress reported indicated 64 percent of the winter wheat crop was in good to excellent condition, enhancing the likelihood of a good winter wheat crop, in particular a hard red winter crop. Spring wheat plantings at 37 percent are well ahead of the five year average pace of 9 percent. More important to the short term is the fact that the winter harvest should be two to three weeks ahead of normal this year because of rapid maturity.


FarmWeek Page 12 Monday, April 23, 2012

pERspEcTIvEs

Early spring, showers, cold snap may mean fewer insects This year I mowed the lawn for the first time on March 24. Most of us who live in the northern and central areas of the U.S. aren’t accustomed to mowing the lawn at such an early date. As a general rule, we haven’t even put away the snow shovels, much less sharpened the mower blades, by the end of March. Now don’t get me TOM wrong; I have nothing TURPIN against mowing grass. In fact, I rather enjoy the process. But I wasn’t overanxious to begin mowing grass. After all, by the time fall rolls around, I get a bit tired of the grass-mowing thing; so starting the process early is never a good thing. The grass, though, was demanding to be cut. So there I was, mowing the lawn a good three weeks early. The grass wasn’t the only thing off to a fast start this year. Many flowering plants — among them daffodils, tulips, forsythia, dandelions, and fruit trees — also were blooming early. For fruit production, that could be a bad thing. After all, a frost and freeze could destroy the blossoms or developing fruit. A warm winter and early spring always

bring up the question of how such conditions will affect insects. Insects and plants are both coldblooded organisms, so warm temperatures will accelerate development. That generally means that insect activity, like plant development, will be earlier than normal. But will such conditions lead to more problem insects? The answer is yes, no, and maybe. The reason is, that it all depends on the insect species and weather conditions going forward. In general, we are likely to observe more insect species in summers following mild winter and spring conditions. That is because some insect species do not survive cold winters but do survive milder conditions. These insects are likely to show up in higher numbers this year. In most years, they are carried to our area by later-season winds. There are insects that are adapted to survive winter conditions by hibernation or diapause, the slow-down of metabolism. Some of these insects have the added protection by being in a protected habitat, such as the soil. The grubs of the June beetles are in the soil and generally spend the winter “snug as a bug in a rug.”

The survival of diapausing or hibernating insects normally is not affected by winter conditions. But early springs might be a different story because they could emerge before their food supply develops. For example, ladybird beetles hiber-

nate during cold periods. When temperatures warm up, such insects come out of hibernation and begin crawling around, looking for places to lay eggs. This means they may use up stored energy supply. When summer arrives, they might have died of starvation, or if they survived, end up depositing fewer eggs

than normal. Consequently, the summer populations of the insect might be lower than when following a winter with colder temperatures. The most important time period relative to population numbers of insects and a lot of other plants and animals is not winter. The most important time is when eggs are being deposited and young are hatching. Cooler temperatures and rainfall during this time are a lot more important to insect survival than are cold temperatures during winter. So as I was mowing my lawn in March, I know it is the type of year that would generate the question, “Does the warm winter and early spring mean we are going to have a lot more insects this summer?” I was correct, and my answer has been, “I don’t know; we’ll just have to wait and see what April and May bring.” Just as April showers bring May flowers in a normal year, showers and a cold snap might bring fewer insects in this unusual year. Tom Turpin is an entomology professor at Purdue University, West Lafayette, Ind. His email address is turpin@purdue.edu.

The emergence of retail agriculture part of a consumer trend Consumer trends such as personal electronics technology, women’s fashion, or even popular vegetable varieties start with a good product idea that is amplified by the buzz of media, advertising, and social networks. GARY MATTESON Many farmers guest columnist and ranchers have benefitted from the trend in local foods, finding ways to sell direct-to-retail and capture a higher profit margin. Young, beginning, and small farmers in particular have been able to enter into farming at the smaller scale of direct-to-consumer sales in the local foods marketplace, such as farmers’ markets, roadside stands, and through community-supported

‘Factory farms’ not best approach

Editor: I’ve read several recent articles in your paper by people lamenting that the humane societies are trying to destroy the meat industry because they advocate humane treatment of animals. I’ve been a Farm Bureau member since 1954, and we pasture-raise hogs and used to have a small flock of chickens that we turned outside every day in nice weather. The trouble with confine-

agriculture (CSAs). If the evolution of this trend in consumer demand for farm products stopped at local farmers’ markets, it would be easy to dismiss. However, the impact of this trend — if recognized, described, and labeled properly — shows that it is economically significant, commonly practiced, and geographically widespread. None would argue that $7 billion in sales of cotton and rice are insignificant, yet in the same Ag Census year of 2007, organic, direct-to-retail, and local foods sales conservatively added up to $8 billion. Perhaps those of us in agriculture missed that comparison because it is so difficult to extract such statistics from USDA data sources, which are

based on counting commodity products rather than following marketing channels. If the direct-to-consumer marketing channel were counted as if it were a commodity product, then it would be the fifth most common farm activity by number of farms. As for geographic distribution, CSA farms were present in nearly 2,100 counties, according to the 2007 Ag Census. If you raise cattle, you are in good company with the ag sector that is most likely to sell direct-to-retail; three out of five cattle producers use that marketing channel. If you don’t see some kind of consumer demand-based agriculture, you’re not looking, or maybe you see it and don’t know it.

That illustrates a big part of the problem — we don’t have a name to call this trend of interrelated agricultural marketing channels that centers on the emergence of retail consumer demand as a driving factor. More farmers and ranchers are getting closer to their customers and finding that they can capture a higher margin when they grow vegetable or meat products with a specific consumer market segment in mind. Whether they sell directto-retail or through wholesale channels, if it is sold with special product attributes such as being local, organic, or small farm-raised, then a significant portion of the value is based on retail consumer demand. Let’s

LETTER TO THE EDITOR ment factory farms is they put markets to close. ease-driven to some extent.

too many animals in a small area and restrict their movement. Anybody with common sense would know that animals are unhappy when they don’t have freedom of movement. Chickens are confined to tiny cages. A big egg farm that had huge places in Iowa and Pennsylvania a few years ago caused an outbreak of salmonella. This is a big disease problem. The big factory farms have driven many small owners out of business and caused their

Many farmers don’t like the factory farms. Government should regulate them better and require space for animals to move and ban chicken cages, which are cruel and dis-

The European Union is banning some restrictedmovement practices. McDonald’s and some other buyers of meat are requiring they be raised in a humane

Letter policy

Letters are limited to 300 words and must include a name and address. FarmWeek reserves the right to reject any letter and will not publish political endorsements. All letters are subject to editing, and only an original with a written signature

name it “Retail agriculture.” Retail agriculture is analogous to “small business,” which is also a term that describes a wide variety of very different businesses in order to allow effective policy discussion. Retail agriculture is a shorthand way to talk about this subject in agricultural policy discussions. We need the term “retail agriculture” as we describe its modest yet growing economic significance, its capacity to provide opportunities for lower-cost entry into agriculture, and its relevance to the future. Gary Matteson is vice present of Young, Beginning, Small Farmer Programs and Outreach at the Farm Credit Council, a trade association of the Farm Credit System.

manner. More power to them. It’s time some farmers practiced some ethics and humane ways of raising livestock again. KEN SANDERSON, Leland

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FarmWeek April 23 2012