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LaWmakERS aRE TakInG a new stab at killing the “death tax,” though Urbana Republican U.S. Rep. Tim Johnson warns the tax may not die easily. ............................3

THE majORITY of the Illinois winter wheat crop (78 percent) was in good to excellent condition as of last week, but a hard frost could still hurt. ......................5

THE FaRm SERvIcE Agency is attempting to go paperless, and to keep farmers without Internet access informed, FarmWeek will publish reminders. ............................................10

Monday, April 9, 2012

Two sections Volume 40, No. 15

Farm bill passage by fall a daunting prospect BY MARTIN ROSS FarmWeek

Amid rising election fever, differences over conservation and nutrition programs, and continued budget-deficit wrangling, farm bill negotiators must “try to forge ahead with the best product we can get,” retiring House Ag Committee member Tim Johnson told

FarmWeek last week. Johnson’s Ag Committee colleague, Mike Conaway (RTexas), questioned whether a new farm bill could be enacted by the end of September. Passage is a challenge in a legislative session cut short by a presidential election, Conaway told producers. “I’d like to see us get a farm

bill sooner rather than later, but there are a lot of impediments that have been erected, by the administration,” Johnson, an Urbana Republican, admitted following a town hall meeting in Pontiac preceding his retirement announcement. The budget debate continues to be a major driver in farm bill development.

IT’S DRY NOW, BUT ...

Josh Deavers, left, Kenney, and Dale Johnson, Midland City, connect field tile to a main junction line in a 60-acre field near Clinton in DeWitt County. They are employees of Larry Humphreys of rural Clinton, who owns a tiling and excavating service in addition to growing corn and soybeans in the Clinton area. Humphreys said he will tile about 2,000 acres this year and is trying to finish all the work before planting begins. He said this is the driest spring he has encountered since 1988. (Photo by Ken Kashian)

Addressing public concerns about future federal education spending at the Pontiac meeting, Johnson stressed farmers now receiving direct payments “are going to have to share in the sacrifice.” However, he questioned the idea of subjecting farm safety net programs to severe cuts while shielding nutrition programs that account for more than two-thirds of the ag budget. “I tend to think the on-thetractor farmer who’s producing the food ought to have at least equal prioritization as somebody who’s receiving nutrition assistance from the government,” Johnson held. “Somehow, that priority has gotten out of whack, and we want to restore it.” Reaching consensus on the future scope and direction of conservation programs also is “clearly a challenge,” he said. The National Grain and Feed Association (NGFA) has urged the Senate Ag Committee to “implement fundamental reforms” in the Conservation Reserve Program (CRP), citing “compelling evidence” that millions of acres currently idled in the CRP are suitable for row-crop production and are needed to meet growing food, feed, biofuels, and export demand.

While supporting continued use of the CRP to protect “truly environmentally sensitive lands,” NGFA argued budget pressures require Congress to allocate ag funds “in ways that provide sufficient funding for federal crop insurance and conservation programs for working farmlands.” Further, some landowners reportedly are considering letting federal conservation contracts lapse to allow younger farmers outbid on other parcels to lease productive land. Illinois Association of Soil and Water Conservation Districts Executive Director Richard Nichols nonetheless is concerned about paring too deeply into CRP funding or future enrollments. In Illinois, “CRP does a lot of good as far as keeping soil out of the water and improving water quality,” particularly on highly erodible lands, Nichols said. He fears CRP gains could easily be reversed “if proper management techniques aren’t used” in returning land to row-crop production. The farm bill’s energy title could offer options to protect conserving uses while maximizing farm

vate property owners and give them access to information about companies who may do fracturing in the future,” Semlow said. With the new language that will be added as an amendment to SB 3280, state regulations will require the reporting of the chemical ingredients used in hydraulic fracturing; well integrity testing and proper storage of hydraulic fracturing fluids; a process to allow industry to protect trade secrets; and a process for landowners and agricultural tenants to challenge trade-secret protection if

they have been affected and need access to information about the chemicals used. The Senate Environment Committee passed SB 3280, sponsored by Sen. Michael Frerichs (D-Champaign). The legislation received a deadline extension to allow the addition of the negotiated amendment after break, Semlow explained. PROPERTY RIGHTS co n cer n s a lso a r e a n issue in SB 3758, sp o n so r ed by S en . Ja mes C layb o r n e (DBell evi lle).

See Farm bill, page 4

Periodicals: Time Valued

Proposed bills raise property rights issues BY KAY SHIPMAN FarmWeek

Private property rights will be among the issues state lawmakers will address when they return to Springfield in two weeks. Property rights are at the forefront of an agreement among Illinois Farm Bureau, the oil and gas industry, and environmental groups after weeks of negotiation. IFB and the others agreed on legislation that would create rules for hydraulic fracturing to extract natural gas from shale, according to Kevin

Semlow, IFB director of state legislation. Hydraulic fracturing, also known as fracking, is a method used to increase the flow of oil or gas from a well. The process involves pumping liquids under high enough pressure to fracture rock down a well into subsurface rock. The goal is to create a network of connected fractures, which will allow for the movement of oil or natural gas into the well. “This legislative agreement is an attempt to protect pri-

FarmWeek on the web: FarmWeekNow.com

See Property rights, page 3

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


FarmWeek Page 2 Monday, April 9, 2012

Quick Takes FARMERS DONATE EASTER EGGS — America’s egg farmers last week donated a whopping 10 million eggs to Feeding America, a hunger-relief charity. The eggs will provide high-quality protein to needy Americans at Feeding America’s 78 food banks in 40 states. About one out of every eight Americans will receive help this year from one of Feeding America’s member food banks. “All year long, but especially at Easter, (egg farmers) proudly do what they can to support the communities in which they live and work,” said Gene Gregory, president of United Egg Producers. This was the fifth consecutive year farmers donated eggs during the Easter season, which brought the total donation to 60 million eggs (nearly 5 million dozen) since 2008. LABOR LEGISLATION — Farm Bureau continues to urge bipartisan support for congressional legislation that would prevent officials from finalizing or enforcing proposed new Department of Labor (DOL) ag child labor regulations. The DOL is reviewing approximately 18,000 comments on proposed youth labor rules that would negatively affect the way families operate their farms and ranches. Under the plan, routine farm chores such as driving tractors, milking cows, cutting weeds, and building or repairing fences likely would be considered illegal unless the farm on which the youth worked was wholly owned by his or her parents. Last month, U.S. Rep. Tom Latham (R-Iowa) introduced the Preserving America’s Family Farm Act to block the new proposal. Sens. John Thune (R-S.D.) and Jerry Moran (R-Kan.) have introduced a companion bill with 44 cosponsors. STRATEGIC ALLIANCE — USDA, the Department of Energy, and the Navy are joining forces to mobilize biofuels efforts. Officials are co-hosting a May 18 Advanced Biofuels Industry Roundtable in Washington as the next step in a partnership with the private sector to produce fuels to power military and commercial transportation. “Advanced biofuels are a key component of President Obama’s ‘all-of-the-above’ energy strategy to limit the impact that foreign oil has on our economy and take control of our energy future,” said Ag Secretary Tom Vilsack. “By bringing together farmers, scientists, and the private sector to produce fuel for the American military, we can help spur an industry producing biofuels from non-food feedstocks all over the nation, strengthen our middle class, and help create an economy built to last.”

(ISSN0197-6680) Vol. 40 No. 15

April 9, 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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AROUND ILLINOIS

FFA Foundation, ag educators file proposal BY KAY SHIPMAN FarmWeek

Agricultural education officials have submitted a career education proposal to the Illinois State Board of Education (ISBE) as part of a new education initiative. In February, Gov. Pat Quinn launched the Illinois Pathways to prepare students for college and careers. Agriculture, food, and natural resources was selected as one of nine key career fields in the state. “We received a broad basis of support from our partners in the field,” Jay Runner, state coordinator for the Facilitating Coordination in Agricultural Education, told FarmWeek. Under the ag proposal, the Illinois Leadership Committee for Agricultural Education and the Illinois FFA Foundation would develop a “learning exchange” for agriculture. The learning exchange would provide ag-related career

information for elementary through college students. The ag proposal would build upon current programs and curriculum. This would include offering work-based learning opportunities and electronic learning resources. ISBE also received proposals to develop learning exchanges for: information technology, manufacturing, health sciences, finance, energy, research and development, and transportation, distribution, and logistics. The state will spend $3.2 million in federal education reform money on career-based learning with an emphasis on science, technology, engineering, and math, also known as STEM. The first learning exchanges are expected to start this fall. “I feel we are in good shape ... and in a position to be a role model,” Runner said. “I see this as a tremendous opportunity.”

Quinn secures resources to help Southern Illinois recover Several state agencies last week announced up to $13 million in financial aid and other support to help families, businesses, and local governments recover from a Feb. 29 tornado in Southern Illinois. The support includes reimbursement to local governments for some disaster-related expenses, road improvements, grants to help homeowners repair or rebuild damaged homes, and low-interest business loans for businesses. “This assistance package offers real solutions for the long-term recovery effort in Harrisburg and other communities,” said Gov. Pat Quinn. The area was denied federal assistance because the monetary loss tally was not sufficient. The state’s multi-agency relief package includes: • The Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic

Opportunity (DCEO) is offering up to $5 million for public infrastructure improvements, housing rehabilitation, and reconstruction efforts. In partnership with Ameren Illinois, another $1 million from the Energy Efficiency Trust will fund energy efficiency incentives for customers affected by the disaster. DCEO also will make available up to $750,000 in Workforce Investment Act grants to cover wages of dislocated workers who help with disaster cleanup and participate in structured work-based learning. • The Illinois Finance Authority (IFA) is offering up to $2 million in USDA Rural Development business loans through a relending program in Gallatin, Saline, and Williamson counties. Loans between $50,000 and $250,000 may be used to buy

land, machinery, or equipment, or for construction or renovation of an industrial or commercial building. IFA is partnering with local banks to market the program. • The Illinois Emergency Management Agency is offering up to $1.5 million in reimbursements to affected local governments for some disasterrelated expenses. • The Illinois Housing Development Authority is committing up to $1 million in federal home funds. Homeowners in affected areas may apply for forgivable loans up to $40,000 per household. The money may be used to build or renovate destroyed or damaged homes. • The Delta Regional Authority is offering $400,000 in federal funds to reimburse local governments for debris removal expenses.

Six schools selected for Wind for Schools Six middle and senior high schools were selected from applications statewide for the first Illinois Wind for Schools (ILWFS) program for the 20122013 school year. ILWFS is administered by the Illinois Institute for Rural Affairs (IIRA) at Western Illinois University and the Center for Renewable Energy at Illinois State University (ISU). The selected schools are the Chicago High School for Agricultural Sciences, Chicago Public Schools 299, Cook County; Southwestern Middle and High School, Southwestern Community Unit School District (CUSD) 9, Macoupin County; Riverview Grade School, Riverview Community Consolidated School District (CCSD) 2, Woodford County; Galva High School, Galva School District 224, Henry County; Astoria Junior High School, Astoria CUSD 1, Fulton County; and Plano High School, Plano CUSD

#88, Kendall County. The program incorporates wind energy topics into the classroom through on-site workshops at each participating school; customized curricula and lesson plans; and lab equipment for hands-on activities, said Jolene Willis, IIRA wind energy program coordinator. The purpose is to engage Illinois teachers and students in energy education, specifically wind energy, said Matt Aldeman, senior energy analyst at ISU’s Center for Renewable Energy. The new program addresses specific state learning standards in mathematics and also encompasses specific state science learning goals. The program will begin with a summer 2012 teacher workshop at each participating school. During the summer, the six schools will receive experimental model wind turbines and equipment to build and test the

model turbines, experimental weather balloons, a model wind tunnel and lab activities, and a comprehensive wind energy curriculum. In the fall, the ILWFS staff will install scientific weather instrumentation on the grounds at each schools. Wind energy lessons are to be integrated into the existing curriculum throughout the school year with the program concluding in spring 2013. In addition to working with the six schools, the ILWFS program will have a June 14 workshop for any Illinois middle school or high school teachers interested in incorporating wind energy topics into the classroom. The free workshop will be held at ISU. Workshop registration information will be available soon online at {www.ilwfs.org}. For more information about the program, call Willis at 309-2982835 or Aldeman at 309-4381440.


Page 3 Monday, April 9, 2012 FarmWeek

government

Federal estate tax repeal possible in 2012? BY MARTIN ROSS FarmWeek

Lawmakers are taking a new stab at killing the “death tax,” though Urbana Republican U.S. Rep. Tim Johnson warns the tax may not die easily. The Death Tax Repeal Permanency Act of 2012, introduced by Sen. John Thune (R-S.D.), would repeal the federal estate tax and make permanent the maximum 35 percent rate on taxable family gifts and $5 million lifetime gift tax exemption for farm or small business heirs. Thune argued “the death of a loved one should not be a taxable event.” The Senate measure would maintain estate tax “steppedup basis” provisions which adjust the value of property for inflation at death and thus allow survivors to

forego taxes on appreciated value. The bill is similar to a House measure with more

by a surviving spouse and reinstated stepped-up basis. Without congressional

protect a typical far m.” At a Pontiac town hall meeting last week, Johnson

‘The best we can hope for is that at the expiration of (current estate tax relief measures), we can resurrect or re-enact what we have now, with a higher exemption and a lower rate .’ — U.S. Rep. Tim Johnson Urbana Republican

than 200 co-sponsors. Late in 2010, faced with the threat of the estate tax returning to a pre-2002 55 percent top tax rate and a $1 million exemption, Congress OK’d a $5 million-per-person exemption with a top tax rate of 35 percent for 2011 and 2012. The measure also allowed the unused portion of a spouse’s exemption to be used

action, the exemption will drop back to $1 million with no spousal transfer and a 55 percent rate in 2013. High land values have greatly increased the taxable value of far m estates, and American Far m Bureau Federation President (AFBF) Bob Stallman warned a $1 million exemption “is not high enough to

said he is “personally in favor of abolishing the death tax.” But, he advised FarmWeek, given the current political-fiscal environment in Washington, “that ain’t gonna happen.” “The best we can hope for is that at the expiration of (current estate tax relief measures), we can resurrect or re-enact what we have

now, with a higher exemption and a lower rate,” Johnson suggested. “I think that’s eminently fair.” Approval for some form of estate tax relief appears possible, probably in the lame duck session following fall elections. While critics argue ending the estate tax would mean a loss of $23 billion in annual tax revenues, a study by the Congressional Budget Office concludes repealing the tax would generate 1.5 million jobs. Further, Stallman deemed estate tax uncertainty “a barrier to entry for new and beginning farmers,” as well as an impediment to farm retirement/succession planning. In a letter to senators, AFBF warned increased tax exposure would hurt communities and businesses supported by ag activity .

Court joins Congress in charging ‘overreach’

As farm state lawmakers continue efforts to rein in federal agencies’ “regulatory overreach,” an East Coast judge has charged environmentalists with their own overreach in a case with potential implications for Midwest farmers. While fielding pre-trial motions in the case of Maryland poultry far mers Alan and Kristin Hudson, U.S. Judge William Nickerson had harsh words for environmental interests. The Hudsons are fighting a suit charging that their chicken waste has polluted a tributary of the Chesapeake Bay, where the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has focused nutrient management efforts.

Farm Bureau, meanwhile, is suing the government over Chesapeake Bay rules seen by many as a template for farm regulation in the Mississippi Basin. Nickerson questioned the accuracy of environmentalists’ central claim that the Hudsons had placed a large pile of uncovered, untreated chicken litter near a “navigable” and therefore federally regulated waterway. “It seems clear that the original plaintiffs in this action were looking for an opportunity to bring a citizen suit under the CWA (U.S. Clean Water Act) against some chicken production operation,” the judge stated. “When (Kathy)

Phillips (of the group Assateague Coastkeepers) discovered a large pile on the Hudson farm that she believed to be chicken litter, she concluded that she had found her ‘bad apple.’” Nickerson’s comments come at a point of particular contention over legislative, judicial, and administrative “separation of powers.” The White House has come under fire for challenging the U.S. Supreme Court’s ability to gauge the constitutionality of health care law, lawmakers have revived efforts to curb EPA’s scope in water policy development, and environmental groups have looked to the courts to interpret — or reinterpret —

Property rights Continued from page 1 The bill proposes to create underground carbon dioxide (CO2) storage regulations and procedures. As currently written, the bill automatically would compel all landowners to go along with a CO2 storage project if only 51 percent of the landowners in the storage area sign up to participate. “This issue remains high on our radar, even though there was no action in the past week,” Semlow said. “We highly suspect a new amendment is being drafted and will be released by Willow Grove Carbon Storage and its parent company,” Semlow continued. “IFB will take a position on the amendment after it’s been released. We are concerned this legislation could result in a private property right taking that would force landowners

into releasing storage space.” THE SENATE PASSED SB 3318, another bill related to property rights. The legislation, sponsored by Sen. Toi Hutchinson (D-Olympia Fields), would allow the use of quick-take eminent domain to obtain land for construction of an Illiana tollway. The proposed tollway would connect I-55 in Illinois to I-65 in Indiana. IFB opposes the measure. ON WIND ENERGY policy, IFB will continue searching for common ground to carry out IFB policy related to commercial wind energy facilities. SB 3271, sponsored by Senator Frerichs, is being held in the Senate Agricultural and Conservation Committee. “This legislation addressed construction, decommissioning, and siting of commercial wind energy facilities. It drew great

opposition from county and municipal government groups, wind turbine companies, and even some farmers and landowners who oppose any type of statewide standards and believe that these decisions should be made at the local level. “There also are some farmers and landowners who want greater restrictions on wind farm development than what this legislation provides,” said Paul Cope, IFB assistant director of state legislation. “At the present time, IFB will continue to seek common ground on these issues,” Cope said. The most contentious portion of the proposal dealt with facility siting, he explained. Farm Bureau delegates debated and approved related policy at the IFB annual meeting in December.

Congress’ intent in regulatory policy. U.S. Rep. Tim Johnson, an Urbana Republican, lashed out last week at the growing role of “unelected officials” in trying to shape or influence new policy. The congressman, who has announced his retirement, noted agencies’ “apparent willingness to intrude” into the ag sector, led by “people who aren’t responsive to anyone.” “I find it mind-boggling that an administration — not through legislation but through regulatory lawmaking — can declare milk a (regulatorily) controlled substance and farm dust a pollutant,” Johnson said. — Martin Ross


FarmWeek Page 4 Monday, April 9, 2012

transportation

House floats measure to address lock issues BY MARTIN ROSS FarmWeek

Bobby Schilling grew up near Rock Island’s Lock and Dam 15. While he went on to be a union steward, insurance agent, restaurateur, and congressman, the Western Illinois lawmaker argues Lock 15 hasn’t fared quite so well over the years. “That thing is so outdated,” the Colona Republican told FarmWeek, citing the need for navigational improvements on the Illinois and Mississippi rivers. “We’ve got to catch up when it comes to infrastructure.” To that end, Urbana Republican Rep. Tim Johnson, Belleville Democrat Rep. Jerry Costello, and their bipartisan House Transportation Committee colleagues from Missouri, Kentucky, and Tennessee

are sponsoring the “Waterways Are Vital for the Economy, Energy, Efficiency, and Environment” (WAVE4) bill. WAVE4 includes elements of the Capital Development Plan, a proposal designed to replenish the waning Inland Waterways Trust Fund, which, ideally, covers half of lock maintenance-construction costs. River shippers support a barge fuel tax hike to rebuild revenues and unlock federal lock spending. Waterways Council Inc. President Mike Toohey sees WAVE4 as an opportunity to address at least 25 projects, including seven new 1,200foot locks approved for the Illinois and Upper Mississippi rivers in 2007. Without congressional action, only six current projects “will take up the entirety of the Inland Waterways Trust Fund,” Toohey said.

The American Soybean Association, which deems funding to modernize river

Farm bill Continued from page 1 productivity and profit, Nichols suggested. “Many of those acres that have CRP are probably not the best-suited for row-crop production,” he told FarmWeek. “There are alternatives to utilizing CRP on working lands, particularly as we progress into bioenergy crops or forage or feed production for livestock. “I think there’s potential in many cases to be able to use that land with proper management as an additional food source for livestock, without causing undue harm to the protections (conservation programs) provide.”

mercial river priorities. Highly publicized construction delays and cost overruns at the Olmsted Lock near Paducah, Ky., underline the need for fundamental changes in how the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers plans and implements projects, Tarmann told FarmWeek. “That’s really our bottleneck right now in trying to secure funding for construction projects in the Upper Mississippi,” he said. “Until they get (Olmsted concerns) resolved, we may not see any construction in the Upper Miss for more than 10 or 15 years.” WAVE4 would impose an industry-supported 6- to 9cent- per-gallon increase in the existing 20-cent barge fuel tax. It aims to prioritize navigation projects across the entire inland navigation system and improve Corps project management and processes in an effort to deliver projects on time and on budget. T he bill would preser ve the 50-50 industr y/federal cost-share for mula for key lock constr uction/rehab projects with a projected cost above $100 million. It seeks 100 percent federal funding of dam and smaller lock rehab projects and would impose a cost-share cap on new

locks. Those locks would eliminate need for double locking (separation, passage,

‘Infrastructure’s a long-term investment, and I’d really like to see some type of long-term plan.’ — U.S. Rep. Bobby Schilling Colona Republican

infrastructure a “high priority,” is stumping for the bill. Schilling, citing major infrastructure work in Panama and China, warned failure to modernize the Midwest navigation system would hurt U.S. global ag competitiveness. “It’s great to be able to produce all this product, but if you don’t have the ways and means to get it from Point A to Point B, that’s going to be a prob-

Measure builds accountability into lock construction process The assurance of federal accountability in waterway development will be crucial in clearing a potential “bottleneck” in Midwest lock funding, according to Jim Tarmann, Illinois Corn Growers Association field services director. The House Waterways Are Vital for the Economy, Energ y, Efficiency, and Environment bill (WAVE4) (see accompanying story) not only provides a mechanism for bolstering lock funding, but also directs that refor ms aimed at ensuring funds are used efficiently in targeting com-

lem,” he said. “Infrastructure’s a longterm investment, and I’d

constr uction projects. Congress authorized the Olmsted project in 1988 at an estimated cost of $775 million and a seven-year construction timeline. One year later, the Corps raised cost estimates to $816 million and extended its schedule to 12 years. Nearly 20 years after project launch, the Corps has asked for an additional $800 million, bringing total project cost to $3.1 billion. National Waterways Council Inc. Chair man Matt Woodruff acknowledged concerns about the project process, particularly given Washington’s “resourceconstrained environment.” He thus stressed the need to objectively “pick the projects we need the most” from a nationwide perspective. “We need to start at the very beginning in terms of planning, better cost estimation, having a far better idea of what it’s really going to cost to build a project before we go to Congress and ask them to authorize it, before we ask the industry to fund half of it,” Woodruff told FarmWeek. “And then, once we make a decision that it’s in the nation’s interest to do something, we need to prosecute it as efficiently as we can.” — Martin Ross

really like to see some type of long-term plan where we’re going to be able to go in, fix these locks and dams appropriately, and make sure we can move our food when we need to move it.” WAVE4 likely must be rolled into a larger Water Resources Development Act such as the 2007 bill that authorized new Midwest

and reconnection of barge tows) and leave older locks for recreational or back-up use, thus helping reduce river freight costs. Schilling would like to see double locks at more points on the system, noting that when one lock is shut down for unexpected repairs, “we’re down for quite some time.”

Guebert: Ag, infrastructure needs surface at export council BY KAY SHIPMAN FarmWeek

Agricultural exports and transportation infrastructure were highlighted during the first meeting of the Illinois Export Advisory Council last week in Chicago, said Illinois Farm Bureau Vice President Rich Guebert Jr., a council member. The 21 leaders that comprise the council were appointed by Gov. Pat Quinn and are expected to develop recommendations to increase trade and business investment in Rich Guebert Jr. the state. After a council member discussed a need to enhance river barge traffic, Guebert said he shared the efforts by IFB, the Illinois Corn Growers Association, and other organizations to secure passage of the federal Water Resources Development Act and the modernization of Illinois River and Mississippi River locks and dams that would benefit Illinois exports. Guebert advised council members that they “need to work together to get money for the locks and dams.” Meanwhile, Brazil and China are spending millions on infrastructure, and Illinois needs to improve its infrastructure to be competitive, he continued. Guebert said he saw many council members nodding in agreement. During the meeting, several references were made to a goal shared by the Obama and Quinn administrations to double exports by 2014. “Everyone’s thinking is that agriculture is important to double exports,” Guebert said. Export council members want to build on the state’s competitive advantage of being the nation’s second largest producer of corn and soybeans and among the leading states in food processing. “We need to take advantage not only for exports, but also for job opportunities in small and large companies,” Guebert said. After the meeting, Quinn and several council members urged Congress to pass a four-year reauthorization of the Export-Import Bank (Ex-Im Bank) and raise the limit on Ex-Im’s loan portfolio. The Ex-Im Bank, which has financed exports since 1934, may close in May without the reauthorization. Over the past five years, the bank has assisted more than 280 Illinois companies, of which 67 percent are small- and medium-sized businesses. This week, Quinn will travel to Washington, D.C., and meet with Brazil President Dilma Rousseff and nine governors from Brazil. Quinn will lead a trade mission to Brazil later this year.


Page 5 Monday, April 9, 2012 FarmWeek

production

Textured beef issue could have ripple effect on markets Group Daily Livestock Report. Last week the producer of LFTB — South Dakota-based A consumer-driven push to Beef Products — announced eliminate the use of lean, fineit would stop production of ly textured beef (LFTB), or LFTB at plants in Iowa, so-called “pink slime,” in Kansas, and Texas. The move, ground products could have prompted by consumer backsome unintended conselash to the quences. product, is Derrell expected to Peel, Oklahoaffect 650 ma State Unijobs. versity ag Iowa Gov. economist, Terry Branlast week prestad resdicted the U.S. ponded to likely will have the situation to import by calling for more beef, a congresand the price sional invesof hamburger tigation. will rise as the “We have U.S. beef a smear industry finds campaign substitutes for LFTB in The website {www.beefisbeef.com} offers further information about lean, going on against a ground beef. finely textured beef and meat production. product that The issue is healthy and safe,” Branstad June live cattle futures from with LFTB also is believed to told the Associated Press. the last week of February be a recent contributor to LFTB is produced from through early last week tumbled softer demand for ground by about $10 per head, or 8 per- extra fat trim in a process that beef and lower cattle prices in separates the fat from remaincent, according to the CME the U.S. BY DANIEL GRANT FarmWeek

“This (replacement of LFTB) will impact the price of ground beef,” Peel told FarmWeek. “It will be higher for consumers, and it will lower the total value per animal” possibly by $10 to $20 per head.

Winter wheat in good shape despite vulnerable state The majority of the Illinois winter wheat crop (78 percent) was in good to excellent condition as of the first of last week. But the rapid maturity of the crop, sparked by record-warm temperatures in March, has put the highly advanced wheat plants in a vulnerable position. “Without a doubt wheat looks pretty good right now,” Steve Ebelhar, agronomist at the University of Illinois Dixon Springs Ag Center, told FarmWeek last week. “Most everybody got their nitrogen on in a timely manner and we’ve not had the type of rains that cause significant nitrogen loss.” The current condition of the crop is just the opposite of what it was last year when just 36 percent of the crop was rated good to excellent on March 1. However, the rapid maturity of this year’s crop — Ebelhar said much of the wheat in Southern Illinois was between the jointing and boot stages last week — make it more vulnerable to frost damage. “There is a concern about what happens if we get a cold snap,” Ebelhar said. “Between jointing and boot (stages), if we get to 28 degrees or less, you can get moderate to

severe damage on wheat. “There’s a lot of vulnerability with this crop,” he noted. Once the crop gets to the heading stage, a temperature of 30 degrees or less still could inflict significant damage. Ebelhar noted the wheat crop of 2007 wasn’t as advanced as the current crop and it suffered extensive damage from the infamous Easter freeze that year. Easter was on the same date in 2007 as it was this year (April 8). “It (a repeat of 2007) is a concern,” said Ebelhar, who has been an agronomist at the U of I for 25 years. “I’ve never seen (the wheat crop) progress as quickly as it has this year.” Ebelhar estimated wheat yields in 2007 were reduced by one-quarter to one-third by the Easter freeze. Fortunately, temperatures dipping as low as 28 degrees, at least in Southern Illinois, did not seem likely based on last week’s long-term forecast. However, last week’s forecast indicated there was a threat for frost in Northern Illinois and southern Wisconsin, Todd Thumma, an agronomist with Syngenta, reported. — Daniel Grant

Greenhouse, high tunnels field day focus

McNitt Growers, Carbondale, will host an educational field day from 5 to 7 p.m. Thursday at its nursery and small fruit operation. The event is sponsored by the Southern Illinois Farming Network. McNitt Growers has 1.25 acres of greenhouses and more than 6,000 square feet of

high tunnels in production. During the field day, Andy McNitt will demonstrate irrigation and ventilation systems he uses in both his greenhouses and high tunnels. He also will discuss basic nursery management and share his experiences in growing perennial fruit in high tunnels.

The fee is $10, but the event is free to members of the Southern Illinois Farming Network. Registration is required and capacity is limited. To register, contact Devin Brown at 618-771-0237 or devin@eatsouthernillinois.org or register online at {www.eatsouthernillinois.org}.

ing meat and results in a product that is 90 percent lean. An estimated 400 million to 500 million pounds of LFTB is incorporated into ground beef products each year. Peel predicted the issue will have little effect on overall beef demand. But the situation could be different in the ground beef market where demand could wane and prices could escalate as processors add more lean beef cuts to the grinder to replace LFTB. “The pushback against this product is very targeted,” Peel said. “It will have an impact on ground beef.”

Authors of the Daily Livestock Report agreed. “Consumers eventually will get the supply of ground beef they need,” the authors said. “It may cost more even if cattle are valued less.” Meanwhile, U.S. beef imports through March 22 increased 38.4 million pounds compared to the same period last year, and Peel believes the trend toward more beef imports will intensify as the industry locates substitutes for LFTB. “I expect to see some increase in imports,” Peel said. “We need to bring in additional lean products.”

Weather forecast favorable for planting, crop development The temperature this week may not climb as high as it did in previous weeks when it felt like mid-summer in parts of Illinois. But the forecast for the rest of the month calls for the overall trend of above-average temperatures to continue, according to Bryce Anderson, DTN ag meteorologist. “The month of April looks to us like it will feature abovenormal temperatures and precipitation near to above-normal in most of Illinois,” Anderson told the RFD Radio Network. “That being the case, it would be a pretty good scenario, especially when we’ve had such an early start.” Temperatures since late last week have cooled down, but Anderson predicted it would stay warm enough to avoid any major damage to ‘We have a little the winter wheat crop and bit cooler trend early-planted cornfields that have emerged. working in.’ “We have a little bit cooler trend working in,” Anderson said last week. “But I — Bryce Anderson DTN meteorologist don’t expect any freeze-level temperatures (this week).” Anderson predicted low temperatures in the southern third of the state this week will get no colder than the low-40s. The cool down is a big change from last month, though, when the average temperature in the Midwest, 50.3 degrees, was a new record-high for March. The previous record-high for March in the Midwest was 46.9 degrees, which was set in 1910, according to the Midwestern Regional Climate Center. In Illinois, the temperature last month averaged 54.9 degrees, which eclipsed the previous record set in 1946. Looking ahead, weather this growing season could be different from the previous two years as a La Nina pattern in the Pacific Ocean is transitioning into El Nino. “The water temperatures (in the Pacific) are warming up,” Anderson said. “El Nino has a tendency to bring in late-summer rain” which would be welcomed by farmers in the Midwest and South who last year experienced extremely dry and drought conditions. One of the main weather concerns in parts of Illinois as of last week was a lack of precipitation required for seed corn germination. Topsoil moisture in the state the first of last week was rated 31 percent short or very short, 64 percent adequate, and just 5 percent surplus, the National Agricultural Statistics Service Illinois field office reported. — Daniel Grant


FarmWeek Page 6 Monday, April 9, 2012

PRODUCTION

Planters continue to roll; frost concerns linger BY DANIEL GRANT FarmWeek

The cyclical nature of farming certainly is on display so far this spring. A year removed from cold, wet conditions that delayed planting well into May and even June, farmers so far this year are having much better luck putting the crop in the ground. As of April 1, 5 percent of the Illinois corn crop had been planted compared to the fiveyear average of zero. Last year, just 10 percent of the corn crop was planted during the entire month of April. “There is considerable field activity going on,” said Ken Taake, a Pulaski County farmer and a FarmWeek Cropwatcher. “We’re probably 20 percent done planting corn. There are guys who started planting in March who are finished (planting corn).” Full reports from Cropwatchers will return to FarmWeek in the May 7 issue. In Jackson County, most of the field activity so far has

been preparation work for planting, according to Dean Shields, also a Cropwatcher. “We’ve had a lot of activity getting ready to plant,” Shields said. “A few guys have planted corn and some is up, but there hasn’t been a big surge yet.” Shields’ farm received about 2 inches of rain last week. “Once it dries out, we’ll be hitting it (corn planting) hard,” he said. But while many farmers have taken advantage of the unseasonably warm weather in recent weeks, the threat of frost still hovers over the state. “Some wheat is headed out. Everything is really ahead of normal,” Taake said. “If there is a major freeze now, it would decimate the fruit crops.” Freezing temperatures were recorded Thursday night and Friday morning in the Northwest, Northeast, and parts of Central Illinois, according to Jim Angel, state climatologist with the Illinois State Water Survey. “Several sites, particularly in Northern Illinois, got to 32

degrees or colder (Thursday night),” Angel said. “And the forecast (for Friday and Saturday) indicates Northern Illinois will be wrestling with temperatures at or below freezing.” Paxton in East-Central Illinois had the lowest cold temperature reading Thursday night at just 25 degrees. Angel said temperatures in

the low 30s shouldn’t do extensive damage to crops, but a hard freeze, with temperatures at or below 28 degrees, could cause significant damage to wheat, fruit trees, emerged corn, and alfalfa. The forecast for this week called for overnight temperatures to remain above freezing in much of the southern two-

thirds of the state. “In Southern Illinois and parts of Central Illinois we’re still dodging the bullet,” Angel added. “But we’re not out of the woods yet.” Oat planting also was well ahead of schedule as of the first of last week with 70 percent of the crop in the ground statewide compared to the average of 14 percent.

Brazilian soy harvest better than expected BY PHIL CORZINE

Harvest is finally under way at three of our four farms in Tocantins, and so far, yields are exceeding expectations. At Fazenda Sonho Verde (Green Dream Farm), we are about Phil Corzine half done on our 1,360 acres, and the first fields have averaged 54 bushels per acre. Last year

this farm averaged 43. This farm has been on a year-to-year lease, and we just finished negotiating for one more year. For the first two years, we paid 5.35 bushels per acre, half up front and half at harvest. The higher prices this year have a lot of farmers from other states trying to rent land, so our rent went up 33 1/3 percent for the next season. Near Alvorada, Tocantins, harvest just got started on a 220-acre field, and the first 12 acres weighed in at 63 bushels per acre. This is our first year on this farm, and this field is only producing only its third crop after being converted from pasture. We also have fields here producing their first and second crop after conversion, so our yields will be lower on these fields, but we are still expecting an average of 45 to

50 bushels per acre. We just started harvesting at our owned farms near Araguacu last week, so it is too early to know about yields there. Our newest farm, 1,730 acres in its first year out of pasture, was planted last, and we won’t get going there until closer to the first of May. Soybean prices in Brazil are the highest we have seen since just after we started in Brazil in 2003. Cash beans are about $12 per bushel, and we just sold 12,000 bushels for the 20122013 crop for $11.30. Given the timing, these prices are going to encourage new acres being brought into production in Brazil in the next crop year. Phil Corzine is general manager of South American Soy, a global production management and investment company. His e-mail address is pcorzine@agpage.com.

IEPA supplies answers to NPDES permit questions

At the Illinois Farm Bureau Governmental Affairs Leadership Conference, the Illinois Environmental Protection Agency (IEPA) provided the following answers to questions about new rules for the National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) pesticide permit: Question: Who should apply for the permit? IEPA: Either the person, such as the landowner, who is making the decision to have the pesticide applied or the pesticide applicator. How do I apply for a permit? IEPA: To obtain coverage under the general NPDES permit, the operator must file a notice of intent (NOI) with IEPA. The NOI form serves as a permit application for coverage under the general NPDES permit. How long does it take to get a permit? IEPA: A NOI is due at least 14 days before the pesticide application. You could have to wait as much as 30 days to apply your pesticide. If you receive a coverage letter, you can apply the pesticide sooner. If you do not receive a letter and you are not notified by IEPA to submit additional information for your application, you automatically will be covered 30 days after IEPA receives your NOI.


Page 7 Monday, April 9, 2012 FarmWeek

trade IFB to tour Cuba June 28-July 2

Cuban tourist trade good avenue for soy products?

BY MARTIN ROSS FarmWeek

Mill Shoals grower Doug Winter sees good potential to move more Midwest soy oil and meal into Cuba, especially if Congress can help provide Cuba better credit terms in purchasing U.S. goods. A blossoming Cuban tourist trade provides a “really good avenue” for U.S. value-added poultry and pork as well as the high-quality feed needed to fuel domestic meat production, said Winter, who participated in the Illinois Soybean Association’s March tour of the island nation. And that avenue is a relatively short jaunt for U.S. shippers — less than 125 miles off the Florida coast. “It’s a natural fit,” Winter told FarmWeek. Cuba is a prime warm-weather destination for consumers from throughout the European Union — Winter said he encountered a particularly high volume of British visitors. Changes in current U.S.-Cuban travel policy would spur “a lot larger influx of Americans,” and thus heightened demand for U.S. imports, the Southern Illinois farmer suggested. “Cuba has to import somewhere between 60 and 70 percent of its food supply,” Winter said. “Naturally, if you’re increasing the number of tourists down there, that’s going to go up proportionately. “Despite Brazil coming in and taking a lot of the market we had four or five years ago, we see a really good potential for (U.S.) soy in Cuba, and, I think, for other grains, too.” Sixteen farmers from across the state plan to promote their products during an Illinois Farm Bureau Cuban market study tour June 28-July 2. IFB President Philip Nelson and IFB Director Steve Hosselton will accompany the group. In 2007, Cuba imported roughly 175,000 tons of U.S. meal. Since then, annual U.S. sales have dropped to about 25,000 tons even as Cuba’s total imports have risen by close to 75,000 tons — largely Brazilian meal. Cuba’s state-run farms today are producing primarily for the tourist industry, while smaller private farms generally are feeding the domestic population. The Cuban government is pushing to ramp up food production at both levels and that offers the U.S. expanded marketing opportunities, Winter said. At the same time, soy oil accounts for more than 90 percent of the country’s edible/cooking oil use. Winter sees additional Midwest product moving to Cuba via Savannah, Ga., or New Orleans ports. Cuba continues to refine its import capabilities, reserving its Havana port increasingly for the tourist trade and upgrading commercial operations at Mariel on the island’s northwest end. The Brazilian engineering group Grupo Odebrecht is building a new port that includes a major container terminal, in partnership with a subsidiary of Cuba’s military-controlled Almacenes Universal S.A. The Brazilian government has agreed to subsidize up to $800 million in project costs; some $300 million already has been appropriated. Improved container capabilities at both the Gulf and at Mariel heighten Winter’s hopes for increased flow of Corn Belt products down the Illinois and Mississippi rivers into the Caribbean. However, while the U.S. would seem to enjoy “a very good freight advantage” moving into Cuba, Winter said ongoing trade restrictions offer Brazil and Argentina a competitive edge in the Cuban market. Under U.S. rules, Cuban payment for U.S. goods is required prior to export shipment, and buyers often must wire payments through European or other banks. Cuban buyers thus are exposed to potential seizure of goods in U.S. ports. The grower likens “cash-in-advance” requirements to “trying to conduct a normal business without 30- or 60-day credit terms.”

Illinois Soybean Association Chairman Matt Hughes of Shirley visited a Cuban poultry facility recently. The U.S. has lost significant soy meal market share in Cuba to Brazil, but the island nation’s two-tiered effort to ramp up food production for its citizens and a booming tourist trade has fueled hopes for a soy export rally. (Photo courtesy of the Illinois Soybean Association)


FarmWeek Page 8 Monday, April 9, 2012

issues

Scientists uncover more details about aquifer BY KAY SHIPMAN FarmWeek

Scientists and the people who rely on the Mahomet Aquifer continue to learn more about one of the state’s largest groundwater resources. “New information has been gathered about the aquifer,” said Andrew Stumpf, a research geologist with the

Illinois State Geological Survey (ISGS). Stumpf and several other researchers with ISGS and the Illinois State Water Survey (ISWS) reported on new studies during a recent regional water conference in Urbana. Over the past six decades, scientists have conducted numerous studies of the

aquifer, and they continue to learn new details. A recently completed study in Champaign County and adjacent areas showed layers of sand and gravel in the aquifer are interspersed with layers of glacial till. The geological processes that formed the aquifer were more complicated than researchers thought, according to Stumpf. Based on the new information, scientists believe the aquifer has a more complex groundwater flow, Stumpf said. George Roadcap, a hydrol-

ogist with the ISWS, reported researchers are learning about connections between the Mahomet Aquifer and the neighboring Glasford Aquifer. Roadcap described the Glasford Aquifer as “acting like a bank” of water and decreasing the fluctuation of water levels within the Mahomet Aquifer. Annual fluctuation levels have been reduced in recent years, he noted. In the Monticello area, scientists have found a connection between surface water and ground water.

“When the Sangamon River rises, it pushes a lot of water into the aquifer because of the gradient,” Roadcap explained. On the western side of the aquifer around Mason City, scientists have discovered geological funnels that cause “strange behavior” in aquifer recharge, Roadcap said. “Rains are funneled right down into the aquifer,” he added. This discovery and other information have led scientists to conclude irrigation in the Havana lowlands will not have a long-term impact on aquifer levels, according to Roadcap.

Pest populations thriving so far this spring BY DANIEL GRANT FarmWeek

This area of Central Illinois shows the boundaries of the Mahomet Aquifer, the Sangamon River watershed, and the 15-county area of the Regional Water Supply Planning Committee of East-Central Illinois.

Humans aren’t the only living creatures in the Midwest who apparently have been enjoying the recent run of above-normal temperatures. Numerous pests, including black cutworm moths, bean leaf beetles, and alfalfa weevils, have been active in some parts of the state and could present

problems this growing season. “The record-breaking warm temperatures in March will likely hasten the emergence and development of some overwintering insect pests of field crops as well as those that are new arrivals, such as black cutworm larvae,” said Mike Gray, University of Illinois Extension entomologist. Black cutworm larvae hatch from eggs laid on winter annual weeds. The migratory moths already have been captured in pheromone traps throughout much of the state, Gray reported. The larvae initially feed on weeds, but they have the potential to cut seedling corn plants. Corn in the one-leaf to the four-leaf stage of development is most susceptible to injury from black cutworm larvae. Gray urged producers who planted corn early to look for signs of leaf-feeding injury from black cutworm larvae. “Even if you planted a Bt hybrid, don’t be lulled into complacency,” he said. Fields most at risk of injury

from black cutworms include those that are heavily infested with winter annual weeds. More information about black cutworm larvae is available online at {www.farmweeknow.com}. Meanwhile, Kevin Black,

FarmWeekNow.com To check on the status of black cutworm moth captures in Illinois, go to FarmWeekNow.com.

GROWMARK insect/plant disease technical manager, last week reported bean leaf beetles are active in Central and Southern Illinois. Alfalfa weevils also have been active in those two regions of the state and at many locations the populations are at threshold levels. “Many alfalfa fields in the southern half of Illinois are entering the bud stage and could be harvested instead of treated with insecticides,” Black said. Black also reported birdcherry oat aphids are common in wheat in Southern Illinois and large numbers of armyworm moths have been noted throughout much of the state.

Results of corn referendum expected to come this week Results of the referendum on the corn checkoff are expected to be released this week. The Illinois Department of Agriculture (IDOA) on March 28 held a referendum so corn growers in the state could vote on whether to increase the corn checkoff rate from 3/8 of a cent per bushel to 5/8 of a cent per bushel. The increase in the corn checkoff was requested by the Illinois Corn Marketing Board. If approved, the increase in the corn checkoff would be the second raise since the Illinois Corn Marketing Act was established by growers in 1982. Growers still would have the right to request a refund. Results of the vote have been delayed as IDOA last week still was waiting to receive ballots, via the mail, from three counties, according to Jeff Squibb, IDOA spokesperson. “We anticipate an announcement (this) week,” he said. A simple majority in favor of the increase is all that is required to raise the checkoff rate.


Page 9 Monday, April 9, 2012 FarmWeek

From the couNties

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AWRENCE — Lawrence and Richland County Farm Bureaus will sponsor an Illinois Farm Families program at 6 p.m. Tuesday, April 17, at the Farm Bureau office, Olney. The program will provide resources for off-farm consumers who would like to learn more about how their food is grown. Call the Farm Bureau office at 618-943-2610 by Friday for reservations or more information. EE — Dixon Family Dentistry, 1355 N. Galena Ave., Dixon, is participating in the Lee County Farm Bureau local discount program. Members will receive a free dental exam, X-rays, and consultation and a 15 percent discount on dental treatments. Call the Farm Bureau office at 815-857-3531 or the Dixon Family Dentistry at 815-2841995 for more information. IVINGSTON — Farm Bureau, University of Extension, and Livingston County Soil and Water Conservation District’s (SWCD) Agricultural Literacy Partnership will sponsor a “T.A.P. (Technology, Animals, Plants) Into Agriculture” summer teacher workshop Tuesday, June 5, through Thursday, June 7, at the Livingston County Extension office, Pontiac. The workshop participants will receive 24 continuing professional

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development units. Cost is $50. Applications are available at the Livingston County SWCD office and the Farm Bureau office. Deadline to return applications to the Livingston County SWCD, 1510 W. Reynolds St., Pontiac, Ill. 61764 is Friday, May 4. Call Debbie Ruff at the SWCD office at 815-844-6127, ext. 3, for more information. ICHLAND — Lawrence and Richland County Farm Bureaus will sponsor an Illinois Farm Families program at 6 p.m. Tuesday, April 17, at the Farm Bureau office, Olney. The program will provide resources for off-farm consumers who would like to learn more about how their food is grown. Call the Farm Bureau office at 618-393-4116 by Friday for reservations or more information. 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.

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FarmWeekNow.com To register for the upcoming 5K Grow and Go run, go to FarmWeekNow.com.

a.m. Saturday, May 12, on the grounds of the Illinois Farm Bureau headquarters in Bloomington. The early registration deadline is May 2. Proceeds raised will benefit Illinois Agriculture in the Classroom (IAITC) and the IAA Foundation’s efforts to provide free educational resources to teachers and to help students make the connection between food, fiber, fuel, and farming. The Grow and Go will include a timed 5K run and a cock-a-doodle dash for kids 10 and younger. Afterward, participants may attend an indoor open house with a hot breakfast and fun

BY SARAH GRANT

More than 200 women convened at the iWireless Center in late March for the first annual Women in Agriculture Conference. The event was coordinated by Farm Bureaus in Bureau, Carroll, Fulton, Henry, Knox, Lee, Mercer, McDonough, Rock Island, Stark, Warren-Henderson, and Whiteside counties. Michele Payn-Knoper of {CauseMatters.com} fired up the room with two presentations that each urged the women to speak up on behalf

of agriculture as well as embrace their agricultural legacy. Breakout session topics included working with Congress, far m finances and tax law, marketing commodities, connecting with consumers, and creating safe play areas. Panelists at lunch focused on “So you

married a far mer, now what?” A list of sponsors and information is available online at {www.womeninagricultureconference.com}. Sarah Grant is the manager of the McDonough County Farm Bureau. She can be reached at 309837-3350.

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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.

Registration open for second annual 5K Grow and Go The IAA Foundation is accepting registrations for the second annual Grow and Go 5K run and family event. Activities will start at 9

County Farm Bureaus honor women in ag

activities for families. Children will find interactive learning stations and activities led by IAITC staff and volunteers. The event will include a silent auction. The 5K registration fee is $20 by May 2 and $25 after that date. The entry fee is $5 for youth dash participants who each will receive an award. Runners may earn free registration fees and other awards by raising donations for IAITC. Registered participants will receive a T-shirt, professional timing provided by the Lake Run Club of Bloomington-Normal, and a hot breakfast. Open house and breakfast only tickets are available for $7 each. For more information or to register, go online to {www.iaafoundation.org}, e-mail Heather Combs at hcombs@ilfb.org, or call the Foundation office at 309-557-2230.

Motivational speaker Michele Payn-Knoper, far left, of {CauseMatters.com} shows participants of the Women in Agriculture Conference how to respond, metaphorically, to anti-agriculture sentiments. Payn-Knoper, a kick boxer, encouraged the women to speak up for the industry.


FarmWeek Page 10 Monday, April 9, 2012

profitability

Money management important in risk management BY CLAYTON POPE

The world in which we live can change dramatically and quickly. In this environment, preservation of capital must be a primary concern. That means having the discipline to limit losses, cash or futures,

and to be always willing to reevaluate the rationale for remaining in any position. When considering strategy alternatives, cash or futures, it is important to consider the risk or potential loss (including “opportunity” loss) that is

Farm Service Agency reminder USDA Farm Service Agency (FSA) offices are moving toward a paperless operation. Farmers are asked to enroll in the new govdelivery system, which will provide notices, newsletters, and electronic reminders instead of paper copies through the mail. Farmers may sign up at their local FSA office. For those without Internet access, FarmWeek has agreed to include reminder notices on the profitability page weekly or as often as needed. Moving to electronic notifications via e-mail will help conserve resources and save taxpayer dollars. County committee ballots will continue to be mailed to all eligible farmers. Farmers may call or visit their local county office for more information. 2012 DCP/ACRE sign-up Enrollment for 2012 direct and countercyclical program (DCP) started Jan. 23 and will end June 1. Supplemental revenue assistance program (SURE) The sign-up for 2010 losses runs through June 1, 2012. Conservation Reserve Program (CRP) Landowners now have until Friday (April 13) to enroll their land in CRP as the deadline was extended a week because of strong interest. The program compensates landowners for taking environmentally sensitive farmland out of production. About 30 million acres are enrolled in CRP. However, contracts on more than 6 million of those acres will expire in September.

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 $31.00-50.33 n/a no longer reported This Week 88,960 *Eastern Corn Belt prices picked up at seller’s farm

Weighted Ave. Price $40.12 n/a by USDA Last Week 128,793

Eastern Corn Belt direct hogs (plant delivered) Carcass Live

(Prices $ per hundredweight) This week Prev. week $77.76 $76.36 $57.54 $56.51

Change 1.40 1.04

USDA five-state area slaughter cattle price Steers Heifers

(Thursday’s price) (Thursday’s price) Prev. week Change This week 120.79 125.08 -4.29 121.08 125.16 -4.08

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 152.22 153.93 -1.71

Lamb prices Slaughter Prices - Negotiated, Live, wooled and shorn 100-170 lbs. for 140-157 $/cwt. (wtd. ave. 149.52); string wooled 50-60 lbs. for $285/cwt.; dressed, no sales reported.

Export inspections (Million bushels) Week ending Soybeans Wheat Corn 03-29-12 28.9 15.4 31.0 03-22-12 25.4 15.4 24.8 Last year 24.6 29.5 40.4 Season total 1012.9 826.6 953.2 Previous season total 1300.5 998.0 1005.1 USDA projected total 1275 1000 1700 Crop marketing year began June 1 for wheat and Sept. 1 for corn and soybeans.

present — even before considering the potential gains. This is difficult to do, and it might seem backward, but, over time, it should lead to gains and marketing successes that more than make up for the losses. Limiting losses reClayton Pope quires discipline, and this means recognizing you will not always be right. No one has a crystal ball, and risk management should not be considered an attempt to predict the future, anyway. One of the biggest mistakes you can make when in a losing position is to freeze and hope the market comes back “the right way.” What happens all too often is that after some

minor losses occur, a few days later the loss is bigger, and the person involved feels he or she can’t afford to change course. This results in remaining frozen in a bad position, which more often than not continues to go sour. Eventually, the person is forced to make an emotional decision motivated more by fear than logic or strategy, and a much bigger loss than was necessary is locked in. Another benefit of exiting a losing position is that once done, the situation can suddenly be seen more objectively and without the bias that was probably in place originally. As long as one is still in the position, he or she tends to defend that position — even if the original reasons for which it was entered are no longer valid. It is important to keep in

mind that marketing and trading is an art, not a science. Accordingly, success does not come from rigidly following a set of rules. If that were the case, success would be easy. We know it’s not. Realistically, success often depends on knowing when to follow which rules — and doing that successfully seems to be mostly dependent on having enough experience. A critical component of any risk management plan should be to define and limit the risk of any strategy, including the strategy of holding cash grain. Contact an AgriVisor analyst for assistance in developing your risk management strategy. Clayton Pope is manager of AgriVisor. His e-mail address is cpope@agrivisor.com.

FSA offering emergency loans to equine operations Certain equine operations are eligible for loans under the Farm Service Agency’s (FSA) emergency loan program, according to Scherrie Giamanco, FSA state executive director. “Equine operations whose primary enterprise is to breed, raise, and sell horses now are eligible for the same emergency loan assistance that is available to livestock and row-crop producers,” Giamanco said. Emergency loans will help eligible producers who suffer losses due to drought, flooding, quarantine, or other natural disasters, she said. Emergency loans may be used to: • Restore or replace essential property; • Pay all or part of production costs associated with the disaster year, the calendar year in which the disaster occurred;

• Pay essential family living expenses; • Reorganize the farming operation; and • Refinance certain debts. Emergency loans may be made to farmers who own and operate land in a county or contiguous county declared a disaster area by the president or designated as a disaster area by the secretary of agriculture. Farmers may borrow up to 100 percent of actual production or physical losses up to $500,000. Loan terms include an interest rate of 3.75 percent and repayment over 1 to 40 years depending on the nature of the loss and the available collateral. Contact your local county FSA office for more information on FSA’s emergency loan program.

House bill would alleviate retail E15 fears BY MARTIN ROSS FarmWeek

Bipartisan lawmakers hope to take the fear out of fueling as retailers consider adding E15 at the pump. Last week, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) approved 15 percent ethanol gasoline as a federally registered fuel. The move followed EPA’s February approval of E15 health effects testing data, which set the stage for retailers and fuel suppliers to register the blend for sale. Meanwhile, Collinsville Republican Rep. John Shimkus has introduced the Domestic Fuels Act along with House colleagues Mike Ross (D-Ark.), John Sullivan (R-Okla.), and Collin Peterson (D-Minn.). Lawmakers hope measures will help bring new biofuels to market by providing liability protection for fuel storage, use of pump equipment, and sale of the fuels according to legally appropriate use. Currently, Shimkus notes, there are no consistent standards nor regu-

latory protections for sale of all fuels. The bill would help new biofuels blends and alternative fuels “reach the marketplace and compete with existing products,” the congressman said. E15 approval and adoption has been slowed by retail fear of liability particularly related to consumer misuse of the fuel in pre-2001-model vehicles and small engines. That’s despite stringent labeling requirements, including specifications for proper use, being imposed on marketers. William Fleischli, senior executive vice president with the Illinois Petroleum Marketers Association/Association of Convenience Stores (IPMA/IACS), noted, “We’ve sold more ethanol product than any other group in the United States.” IPMA/IACS represents roughly 3,000 major corporate “branded” marketers and independent outlets across the state. Amid rising gas prices, Fleischli sees availability of new

ethanol blends as “a benefit to the consumer,” as well as a necessity in meeting federal Renewable Fuel Standard requirements for nationwide biofuels use. But he argued his members need protections “for the sake of our businesses.” “There is not (fueling) infrastructure in the ground that’s been certified for any blend higher than E10,” Fleischli told FarmWeek. “That goes for the tanks, the lines, the couplings, the adhesives. Nothing has been certified. That puts us in a precarious situation. “(Illinois’) Underground Storage Tank Fund program says you have to have approved tanks, lines, and all that. If we did have leakage, the program would not cover that incident. That would put us in a liability situation involving hundreds of thousands of dollar.” Misfueling also is an issue for Illinois retailers, who have seen the courts rule in favor of vehicle damage claimants. “We still have people who fill their gas tank with diesel,” Fleischli related.


Page 11 Monday, April 9, 2012 FarmWeek

PROFITABILITY Corn Strategy

CASH STRATEGIST

Planting mix will change The unexpected planting numbers in the March 30 USDA prospective planting report enhanced the focus on this year’s spring planting season. The corn estimate was larger than expected, while the soybean and spring wheat estimates both came in below expectations. From the accompanying graphics, you can see the expected plantings on the first estimate are not “set in stone.” While weather historically has been a large factor in changing the mix, the relative prices and profitabilities have had an impact, too. You can see soybean plantings have a history of swinging 2 million to 3 million acres from the March to the June estimate. Planting shifts for most crops in 1983 were unusually large because of a USDA program that took massive amounts of acreage out of production.

There have been a number of times (shown in white) that soybean plantings increased significantly because of an unusually late, wet spring. But, there also are many years in which soybean plantings changed significantly from March to June because of economics. There is an inclination for soybean plantings to increase from the March to June reports when the new-crop soybean/corn ratio is 2.5 to 1 or higher in March and April. Such is the case this year, with the ratio at 2.51 to 1 as of Easter weekend. And it’s not just the relationship with corn prices that could pull acres, but the relationship with cotton and rice as well. The early harvest of winter wheat could add to the size of double plantings of beans this year, too. How much of a shift is still difficult to decipher at this writing, but we wouldn’t be shocked at a 2-2.5 million-acre increase from the March estimate. Instead of soybean plantings being down 1 million from last year, that would put them at 11.5 million above.

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ü2011 crop: The May contract’s inability to penetrate the 200-day moving average is keeping it from challenging the last high at $6.76. Use rallies to $6.60 on May futures to make catch-up sales. Leave an order to price remaining bushels if May futures hit $6.80. ü2012 crop: Use rallies to $5.49 on December futures to make catch-up sales. Price another 10 percent if rallies hit $5.60. We prefer hedge-toarrive contracts for making sales but plan to tie up the basis no later than mid-summer. vFundamentals: This week’s focus will be on Tuesday’s USDA supply/demand estimates. The market remains uneasy about the tight old-crop supply. Abundant supplies of wheat, domestically and internationally, should ease pressure. Even with some switching of acres from corn to soybeans, plantings will still be large. And the pace will accelerate with the passing of insurance dates. ûFail-safe: If May futures fall below $5.44, wrap-up oldcrop sales and make the newcrop sale.

Soybean Strategy

ü2011 crop: The biggest short-term downside risk this complex faces is the record long futures/options positions held by the hedge funds. Fundamental uncertainty remains, but if prices soften a little, it could trigger a liquidation break. We aren’t opposed to wrapping up sales. Use strength for catch-up sales. ü2012 crop: Get sales to recommended levels. Price another 10 percent if November futures hit $14. vFundamentals: Other than summer weather, there’s not a lot that could make fundamentals more bullish than analysts already expect. South American production estimates won’t change much. U.S. plantings are more likely to go up than down from the March 30 projection. And Chinese demand remains relatively robust. That only leaves this year’s yield, and major

weather influences aren’t favoring serious problems this summer. ûFail-safe: If May futures fall below $14, wrap-up oldcrop sales, and make the newcrop sale.

Wheat Strategy

ü2011 crop: Since midFebruary prices have traced out a sideways trading pattern. Seasonal pressure has become an increasing drag on prices. Use rallies to wrap-up oldcrop sales. With the end of the marketing year closing in, use the cash market to make sales. Don’t carry unhedged inventories beyond April. ü2012 crop: Use rallies above $6.60 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. New-crop sales should have been increased 10 percent when July traded at $6.69. vFundamentals: Demand for U.S. wheat is starting to show signs of improving, with good daily sales made to an unknown destination and Egypt. But unless there’s a frost/freeze in the next two weeks, our winter crop should be on its way to good yields. World conditions are improving as well. That could slow business with buyers waiting on harvest lows to make purchases.


FarmWeek Page 12 Monday, April 9, 2012

pERspEcTIvEs

Just give me all the facts Editor’s note: Farrah Brown is a field mom with Illinois Farm Families, a coalition of commodity groups for beef, corn, soybeans, and pork, and the Illinois Farm Bureau. This column is reprinted with her permission. It appeared March 19 on her blog, DuPage Mamas. A field mom is an urban mother who has questions about food, farmers, and farming. I hate the feeling of being in the dark, like someone is trying to pull one over on me. I get that pit feeling in my stomach when I learn that something I thought or believed is actually different than I thought, and someone has been purposely hiding important information from me. This is especially true when it comes to the food I buy to feed to my family. I want it to be exactly what I think it is, nothing hidden or shady going on behind the scenes before the food gets to my table. And so much of what we read these days about mainstream farming claims that there are shady things going on all the time. FARRAH BROWN And there may be in some guest columnist places. But that’s the beauty of the Field Moms program: I am actually looking behind the supermarket curtain to see for myself what is going on before the food leaves the farm. And from what I have seen so far, no one is trying to pull anything over on anyone. Recently, I was blessed to go on another farm tour with the Illinois Farm Families. Instead of beef and corn, this time we delved into the world of pork production and all that this operation entails. We spent the day with the Gould family at their farm located about 50 miles west of the Loop between St. Charles and DeKalb. One of the most special things about being a Field Mom is the opportunity to meet these amazing farming families and see how passionate they are about what they do. Chris Gould and his father, Eldon, talked and walked us through every part of raising pigs, from collecting (semen) from the boar — an interesting conversation! — to inseminating the sow to the birth of the piglets and all the care of the animals across all stages of the process. I know more now about a sow’s cycle than I ever thought I would. But it is all so interesting — how the farmers know pretty much to the day when she will deliver her piglets (115-day gestation) and how long she should nurse them and how to help transition her to getting pregnant again just a few days later. Not much rest for that weary sow.

And to us city/suburban moms, it seems difficult to not get attached to these mama and baby pigs. But to the Goulds, it is their livelihood. The cuteness of the baby piglets is not lost on them. They still marvel at a brand new litter trying to nurse from their mama and their instinct to survive. But this is their business and to them the pigs are born for a purpose and the mamas are there to give birth to more piglets and so the cycle goes. It’s not cruel — quite the opposite. They have every motivation and desire to care for the animals and treat them with dignity. The better the animals are treated and cared for, it is better for everyone involved. Eldon Gould even commented that they “treat each sow as an individual. They are some pampered pigs!” While touring the barns, Chris Gould made a point to talk about the stalls that the pregnant sows live in during their gestation time. “Gestational stalls” are apparently quite the controversial topic, one that I seriously had never heard of before our tour last Saturday (March 10). The EU (European Union) has put all these regulations in place on pig farms saying they have to stop using this system by 2013. McDonald’s just came out and said they promised to not buy any pork from producers who use stalls, and several other companies are following suit. How have I not heard about this? Have you? The argument is that the stalls are inhumane and that they limit the sows’ ability to perform natural behaviors, causing her distress. On the tour, we had the pleasure of talking with Janeen Johnson, a professor at the U of I (University of Illinois) who specializes in animal science and welfare issues. She has done extensive research worldwide on the best way to house the sows and the piglets — from open pastures to tight crates. Her conclusion? Gestational stalls are a “viable system that needs to change and improve but needs to be based on actual scientific research on sow welfare.” Fair enough. From what we heard and saw (in pictures), sows will harm and even kill each other if they are left in open pens. The stalls provide a safe environment for the sows and help the farmer to manage their feed and health care with greater accuracy and benefit.

Field mom Farrah Brown gets acquainted with a baby pig held by Maple Park farmer Chris Gould during a recent farm tour hosted by Illinois Farm Families. Brown indicates in her blog that she appreciated seeing farms first hand and learning facts about agriculture from farmers. (Photo by Ken Kashian)

But it is easy to get bogged down in the details. Here is my bottom line: The Gould’s is not an “organic” pig farm. They use gestational stalls to house their sows and farrowing stalls when the sow gets to that point. And some people would shake their head at these facts and say we shouldn’t eat meat from these farms. But from what I saw, that is just not true. These pigs seem content and well cared for. The entire Gould family does everything they can do to make the pork that comes from their farm the absolute healthiest and highest-quality meat they possibly can. And they are constantly trying to improve. And to me, that is important. I am not saying I am throwing the idea of organic food out the window. I am still a huge proponent of eating organic when we can and trying to reduce the “middlemen” when it comes to taking my food from farm to table. I want to know that no one is mistreating animals in order to cut a few corners. And the idea of GMOs truthfully frightens me and I need to learn more about that. But to meet farmers like the Goulds and the Martzes and the Drendles and the Moores (we go to their farm next) is to see that they are not trying to cheat nature to get more profit. They are not trying to pull anything over on the public in the name of personal financial gain.

They are families doing the best they can to produce food that is safe and nutritious and in enough quantities to feed the greater population of our planet. They feel a duty to care for the animals and the earth and their consumers. They are up front about what they do, never shying from questions. They just want it all to be out on the table. And so do I. I know that not everyone can go see the farm for themselves (although they have all said that their doors are always open). And I feel so grateful to be one of the lucky moms who does get to see these farms first hand and help bridge the gap between farmer and consumer. But most importantly, I love that I am getting the facts. All the facts. And so far, what I have seen and learned is amazing. I left the (Gould) farm feeling a little swimmy from having heard SO much information. But mostly I was grateful for people who are willing to say what is true. They are doing their part to make sure we as consumers have the information we need to make informed food choices. And that is SO important to me. And I’m sure to you, too. Don’t try to persuade me. Or trick me. Or sneak one by. Just give me the facts. ALL the facts. And let me make up my own mind. And these farmers are doing just that.

Farrah Brown of Glendale Heights is a “field mom” with Illinois Farm Families. The mother of two writes a blog, “DuPage Mamas.”

LETTER TO THE EDITOR County board chairman pleased with Farm Bureau

Editor: I would like to thank Randolph County Farm Bureau Board President Kirk Liefer and manager Ryan Ford on behalf of the elected office holders and department heads of Randolph County for the enjoyable meal on March 19. Thanks, also, to the Liefer family for its hospitality and for showcasing its farm operations for our meeting. This is my last year on the Randolph

County Board, and it has been a real honor to have had the Randolph County Farm Bureau involved in our county to the extent it has been in my 14 years. The Farm Bureau input has been most valuable in our decision-making process on the county level. I would hope the other counties in Illinois and the nation could have the relationship we have with their respective Farm Bureaus. TERRY LUEHR, Chairman Randolph County Board of Commissioners

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FarmWeek April 9 2012