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The proposed Farm bill includes a “safe box” designed to promote global agricultural productivity and feed a growing, hungry population. ........................................4

argonne naTional Laboratory scientists shared updates on their research projects during a recent state wind energy conference in Normal. ................10

Monday, August 13, 2012

a campaign To save lives and prevent farm machinery-traffic accidents that involves displaying banners kicks off today at the Illinois State Fairgrounds. ................11

Two sections Volume 40, No. 33

USDA slashes crop production estimates

New flu strain confirmed in state

Analysts expect high prices IPPA, IDOA to choke corn, soy demand taking extra safety

BY DANIEL GRANT FarmWeek

USDA’s August crop production estimates released Friday revealed the severity of this year’s drought. U.S. production was pegged at just 10.8 billion bushels for corn, down 13 percent from last year, and 2.69 billion bushels for soybeans, down 12 percent from a year ago.

FarmWeekNow.com For more details on USDA’s August crop report, go to FarmWeekNow.com.

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Yields nationwide were projected to average 123.4 bushels per acre for corn and 36.1 bushels for beans. Those yields would be the lowest on record since 1995 for corn and 2003 for soybeans. “The production numbers were a little lower than the trade was expecting,” said Dale Durchholz, AgriVisor market analyst. Pete Manhart, owner of Bates Commodities in Normal, agreed.

“It surprised the industry (USDA) lowered the crop estimates that much,” Manhart said. USDA projected the crop production numbers based on more than 28,000 farmer surveys, 4,504 field samples, and satellite imagery. The field checks showed corn ear numbers actually are in line with previous years, but ear weights are down considerably this year. In Illinois, ear lengths were the shortest on record. “The kernel size and ear size are dismal,” said Brad Schwab, Illinois state statistician. The yield estimates don’t include abandoned acres. USDA cut its projections of harvested acres by 1.5 million acres for corn and 680,000 acres for beans. In Illinois, harvested acres were trimmed by 220,000 for beans and 200,000 for corn. USDA estimated crops in Illinois will average 116 bushels per acre for corn, down 41 bushels from a year ago, and 37 bushels for soybeans, down 10 bushels from last year. The average farm price estimates for 2012/13 were raised substantially due to the short crops. The per-bushel corn price was projected at a record-high range of $7.50 to $8.90, the soybean price range was estimated at $15 to $17, and the wheat price was projected to average between $7.60 to $9. “I don’t think we’ve gotten close to the highs yet,” said Manhart, who believes prices near-term could increase by $1 to $2 for corn and by $3 for beans. “But once we go higher, it won’t stay there long as it will shut off usage.” USDA on Friday projected corn use will decline by 725

‘It surprised the industry (USDA) lowered the crop estimates that much.’ — Pete Manhart Bates Commodities

million bushels in the feed and residual sector and 400 million fewer bushels will be used to produce ethanol. In fact, corn imports were raised 45 million bushels to 75 million bushels, which reflects strong domestic corn prices and competitively priced foreign supplies, USDA reported. “Just like in (drought years) 1988 and 1983, I think the August crop report marks the point where we start looking away from the supply side to what are we doing on the demand side,” Durchholz said. USDA on Friday lowered its projection for U.S. bean exports by 260 million bushels. Durchholz believes China may scale back imports of U.S. beans. But the sector hurt the most by reduced crop supplies will be livestock. “The whole situation is going to hit the livestock industry pretty hard,” the analyst said. “The rationing caused this year not only will affect the demand base for corn and feed this marketing year but next marketing year as well.” USDA on Friday projected meat production in 2013 compared to 2012 will shrink by 3.9 percent for beef, 1.2 percent for pork, and 1.3 percent for broilers.

FarmWeek on the web: FarmWeekNow.com

precautions at fair

BY KAY SHIPMAN FarmWeek

Illinois State Fair exhibitors and visitors are being reminded to wash their hands, especially around pigs and other livestock, and to practice good hygiene. Last week, the Illinois Department of Public Health confirmed one case of a new flu strain (H3N2v) in a Coles County child. The boy was not hospitalized. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is conducting additional laboratory tests. Local, state, and federal health officials were trying to determine how the child, who attended the Coles County Fair, caught the virus. Across the State Fairgrounds, extra precautions were being taken at livestock education exhibits and in livestock barns. At the new swine birthing center located near Farmer’s Little Helper, the Illinois Pork Producers Association (IPPA) added hand washing stations at the entrance and the exit and Four-year-old Oliver Daniel Weber of Flanagan posted signs scrubs his hands with sanitizer last week during with health tips. the Illinois State Fair. Several hand washing sta“We just tions are located in the Swine Barn where fair and want to be caustate agriculture department officials are taking tious,” said additional health precautions. (Photo by Kay ShipIPPA’s Mike man) Borgic. “We’re taking precautions not only to keep people safe and healthy, but also to keep the sows healthy.” The six sows in the center were tested for flu-like symptoms, Borgic said. They were deemed healthy. This year visitors may look at the animals, but not touch See Fair, page 2 Illinois Farm Bureau®on the web: www.ilfb.org


FarmWeek Page 2 Monday, August 13, 2012

Quick takes POST-DROUGHT EDUCATION — As part of its ongoing drought relief efforts, USDA will continue to educate consumers about the drought’s impact on food prices. The department recently projected food prices next year could increase by 3 to 4 percent, although prices nearterm could decrease as some livestock producers liquidate herds. “We continue to calm fears so the drought doesn’t get blamed for some things like higher food prices,” USDA Chief of Staff Krysta Harden told Illinois Farm Bureau Marketers to Washington last week. The Wall Street Journal recently reported increases in food prices next year for each U.S. consumer may average less than $3 per month. STATE FAIR LIVE ONLINE — Check out the butter cow or the action in the Coliseum from the closest Internet connection. Live web cameras, located around the fairgrounds, are streaming images of different fair sights through Aug. 19. Go online to {www.agr.state.il.us/isf/webcam/}. Butter sculptor Sharon BuMann again will finish her bovine work of art at the start of the fair. This marks the 90th year a butter cow has served as the fair’s unofficial icon. It may be viewed daily in the Dairy Building from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. COW WITH BSE AN ISOLATED CASE — After a three-month investigation by USDA, a dairy cow in California that was found to have bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE) has been ruled an isolated case. After the BSE discovery, the life of the 10-year old cow, only the fourth case ever in the U.S., was traced by USDA personnel in an effort to find out if other cows could be infected and when she may have contracted the disease. “The results of this thorough investigation confirmed that at no time was the U.S. food supply or human health at risk, and that the United States’ long-standing system of interlocking safeguards against BSE continues to be effective,” said John Clifford, USDA’s chief veterinary officer.

(ISSN0197-6680) Vol. 40 No. 33

August 13, 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.

Address subscription and advertising questions to FarmWeek, P.O. Box 2901, Bloomington, IL 61702-2901. Periodicals postage paid at Bloomington, Illinois, and at an additional mailing office. POSTMASTER: Send change of address notices on Form 3579 to FarmWeek, P.O. Box 2901, Bloomington, IL 61702-2901. Farm Bureau members should send change of addresses to their local county Farm Bureau. © 2012 Illinois Agricultural Association

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 Richard Verdery (rverdery@ilfb.org) Classified sales coordinator Nan Fannin (nfannin@ilfb.org) Advertising Sales Representatives Hurst and Associates, Inc. P.O. Box 6011, Vernon Hills, IL 60061 1-800-397-8908 (advertising inquiries only) Gary White - Northern Illinois Doug McDaniel - Southern Illinois Editorial phone number: 309-557-2239 Classified advertising: 309-557-3155 Display advertising: 1-800-676-2353

goverNmeNt

Ag chair argues for extension of estate tax relief measures BY MARTIN ROSS FarmWeek

Farmers who’ve coped with drought, poor yields, and financial uncertainty this summer face an added hazard next season — potentially devastating estate tax exposure. A current $5 million individual/$10 million-per-couple estate tax exemption expires Dec. 31, along with a 35 percent “death tax” rate. If Congress fails to act, the estate tax will default to a $1 million exemption and a 55 percent rate. High crop prices have enabled many growers to accumulate capital assets over the last few years, but they or their heirs “might have to pay that back in estate taxes,” Knox County farmer David Serven warned House Ag Committee Chairman Frank Lucas (ROkla.) last week in Normal. Serven cited his 70-year-old father’s lifelong contribution to the family farm, “building up equity over the years and paying taxes all along.” Lucas urged tax relief for farmers “who’ve done without, who’ve reprioritized their lives in order to make payments on (and) accumulate that most important asset.” “If you’re a farmer or rancher, your most important asset aside from your loving wife, healthy children, and wonderful parents is your farm, your ranch,” he stressed at a McLean County Chamber of Commerce lunch. “It’s your livelihood. It’s how you create your existence. “(Lawmakers) may disagree over where (tax) rates should be, but I’d hope everyone in this room would agree we don’t want to go back to 2000 tax rates. Suck that much money out of the economy right now, when it’s anemic at best?” Lucas noted a number of his colleagues “have a different point of view.” House Republicans are unlikely to accept “picking winners and losers” via tax policy revision, while the White House and Senate leaders are unlikely to “accept anything less than picking winners and losers,” he said.

Fair

U.S. Rep. Aaron Schock, left, a Peoria Republican, argues for extended estate tax relief as House Ag Committee Chairman Frank Lucas (ROkla.) looks on. “I don’t think there’s any better constituency in my district to argue against the president’s proposal on taxes than the ag industry,” Schock told reporters in Lincoln last week. He cited President Obama’s support for tax relief only for households with annual income under $250,000 and noted the need for farmers to invest in costly farm equipment such as that seen behind the congressman. (Photo by Martin Ross)

House Ways and Means Committee member Aaron Schock, a Peoria Republican, argued against President Obama’s “middle-class tax relief ” plan limited to households with less than $250,000 in annual income. While Illinois land prices alone expose farmers to a $1 million exemption, Obama’s threshold would exclude many farm families from needed relief, he said. Farmers with earnings above $250,000 must invest heavily in “big green machines” and crop storage facilities, Schock maintained. “These are small family businesses trying to stay above water,” he told FarmWeek. The Job Protection and Recession Prevention Act, which cleared the House prior to its August break, would maintain existing income tax rates, the $1,000 child tax credit, “marriage penalty” relief, and a top 15 percent tax rate on dividends and capital gains. It would extend a 35 percent death tax rate and a $5 million exemption. The Senate Finance Committee has recommended extension of enhanced small business expensing, the $1-pergallon biodiesel blenders credit, a credit for donations of conservation easements, and a 10-cent-per gallon credit for

small “agri-biodiesel” producers. The committee’s plan does not deal with the estate tax. Given pre-election politics, Lucas sees the possibility of the next Congress having to extend expiring tax relief measures “retroactive to midnight, Jan. 1, 2013.” “I’m sorry about the uncertainty that causes you as you make your planting decisions for next year,” he told farmers. “That’s the trap we’re in.”

Tuesday: • Harvey Freese, Freese-Notis Weather • Gayle Jennings, clinical dietitian, Memorial Medical Center, Springfield • Kristine Book, Audrey Cox, and Renee Deuth, Illinois Farm Bureau manager trainees Wednesday: • Susan Moore, IAA Foundation director • Harry Alten, chairman of the Illinois Specialty Growers Association • Jim Bower, Bower Trading • Melissa Rhode, IFB membership and program director Thursday: • Steve Stallman, president of Illinois Wheat Association • Bob Vose, king of State Fair corn dogs • Catherine Rylatt, sponsor of grain handling safety coalition Friday: • Sara Wyant, AgriPulse publisher • Illinois Corn Growers Association representative • Alan Jarand, director of RFD Radio

Continued from page 1 Additional hand washing stations FarmWeekNow.com them, he added. And volunteers were prominent in the barns and in the center won’t hold any little Visit the Centers for Disease around the grounds. Control and Prevention webpigs as they have in the past. All animals shown on the site for additional details by grounds have health certificates, Near the grandstand, FFA going to FarmWeekNow.com. said Jim Kunkle, manager of members also are taking precauemergency programs for IDOA. In tions in the Illinois FFA Association’s petting barn. Hand sanitizers are located near addition, a veterinarian is located on the grounds. the entrance, and health and safety tips are posted, State officials’ additional precautions follow said Frank Dry, the association’s executive secretary. on the heels of a flu outbreak in Indiana where In the livestock barns, the Illinois Departmore than 100 H3N2v cases were confirmed ment of Agriculture (IDOA) distributed health last week. and safety information to exhibitors. Posters The Indiana State Fair sent hogs home early with similar advice were displayed in the barns. after six pigs developed high fevers.


Page 3 Monday, August 13, 2012 FarmWeek

the drought

Drought mobilizes administration and lawmakers BY MARTIN ROSS AND DANIEL GRANT FarmWeek

As President Obama last week called for a Cabinet-wide “all-hands-on-deck-response” to the growing nationwide drought crisis, agency officials, lawmakers, and farmers continued to explore possible new relief options. Spurred by President Obama’s call, Ag Secretary Tom Vilsack announced USDA would tap $16 million in financial and technical assistance to immediately help drought-stricken crop and livestock farmers in 19 states including Illinois. USDA also plans to transfer $14 million in currently unobligated program funds into the Emergency Conservation Program. Those funds can be used to assist in moving water to livestock in need, providing emergency forage for livestock, and rehabilitating lands severely affected by the drought. USDA will continue to seek ways to assist crop and livestock farmers, USDA Chief of Staff Krysta Harden told Illi-

nois Farm Bureau Marketers to Washington last week. “Keeping farmers on the farm is our goal,” she said. “We continue to ask growers about things we can do within our existing authority,” she said. “(The drought) is the focus of everything we do.” Meanwhile, bipartisan senators including Springfield Democrat U.S. Sen. Dick Durbin called for creation of an Interagency Drought Task Force to address wide-ranging concerns. They asked the president to charge the task force with reporting on drought severity, its impact on all economic sectors, and further options to address drought issues. During an earlier meeting with Durbin at Evergreen FS’ Yuton elevator in McLean County, farmer Jason Lay deemed area prospects “very challenging, not only with yields this fall, but moving forward.” He cited potential “demand destruction” resulting from tight supplies for existing corn customers. Area grower Matt Hughes

said the soybean harvest “is a little harder picture to get,” though even his “best” plants are stunted and pods are dropping prior to maturity. Livestock farmers are seeing negative margins because of higher feed costs, and even talk of herd liquidations is “depressing the price of meat,” Yorkville hog producer Bill Wykes related. Yuton elevator general manager Kendall Miller anticipates “a dramatic ripple effect throughout the entire local economy.” Grain shortfalls will affect sales of propane for drying, truckers will find fewer “bushels to haul into town,” he said. Further, Miller foresees a reduced elevator payroll “if we have half the bushels coming in.” “We employ a lot of parttime people in the fall,” Miller noted. “We will try to get by most likely with existing people or at least a reduced number of employees.” Durbin also recognized likely consequences for the rail and barge industries, as well as regional biofuels and other

U.S. Sen. Dick Durbin, a Springfield Democrat, right, tours Evergreen FS’ Yuton elevator in McLean County with Yuton General Manager Kendall Miller. During Durbin’s conversation with area farmers, Miller outlined likely drought consequences throughout ag production, distribution, and market channels. (Photo by Martin Ross)

processors who supply feed coproducts. USDA has approved several livestock relief measures, including release of Conservation Reserve Program (CRP) acres for emergency haying and grazing. USDA recently extended release to grass waterways in non-easement areas and a number of wetland and wildlife

habitat categories. However, farmers at Yuton recommended ag officials consider releasing additional CRP lands, such as filter strips with more lush vegetative development. “Most of the (acres) we could get high-quality forages from have not been released yet,” Hughes said.

IDOA, grain industry addressing aflatoxin concerns BY KAY SHIPMAN FarmWeek

Corn suspected of aflatoxin contamination was found in a bin last week by a Southern Illinois elevator and has been segregated, evidence of the diligence occurring this season concerning the mold, an Illinois Department of Agriculture (IDOA) official told FarmWeek. Stuart Selinger, head of IDOA’s warehouse bureau, declined to name the elevator, but noted the company was testing for aflatoxin, and on its own volition had segregated the 3,000 suspect bushels in a bin to maintain grain safety. IDOA’s warehouse and agriculture product inspection bureaus “are reaching out to constituents on the best way to approach the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and trying to formulate a plan if we need it,” Selinger said.

Example of Aspergillus flavus ear rot

He is compiling results from a survey of elevators on how they plan to handle aflatoxin-contaminated grain. The FDA determines rules and sets guidelines for allowable aflatoxin levels in livestock feed at so many parts per billion. Blending is not permitted without FDA approval. “We are actively working with industry partners on reasonable ways to make a difficult situation better,” added Acting Illinois Director of Agriculture Bob Flider. Illinois’ entire grain industry must address

any grain-quality issues, said Steve Dennis, grain department manager with Evergreen FS’ Yuton Elevator in McLean County. “We all have to work together to provide the end user with a product he can use. It will take a lot of patience and due diligence on our parts,” Dennis said. No single sector — not farmers, elevators, processors, or users — should be saddled with unusable grain, Dennis added. Corn infected with aflatoxin may be blended prior to being fed to livestock, but it cannot be sold, according to Dan Shike, University of Illinois animal science professor. Shike added the aflatoxin level of the blend still needs to be within the feeding levels recommended by the FDA. (See accompanying story) Selinger reminded farmers to address any grain grade disputes at the time they receive their scale tickets, not later. “If there are any questions on the grading, those need to be resolved at the scale. Two weeks later, it’s too late,” Selinger said. “It pays to be looking at those (tickets) at the time of delivery.” In other drought-related news: Several communities have stopped selling bulk water due to drought conditions, according to the Illinois Environmental Protection Agency. Many farmers had been purchasing water for their livestock. In addition to Mt. Pulaski, which had stopped sales earlier, Williamsville and Elkhart, also located in Logan County, have stopped bulk water sales. Decatur in Macon County also has stopped bulk water sales and implemented the city’s toughest water restrictions on record. Country Financial as of last week had received more than 4,000 crop production lost claims in Illinois.

Handle with care: aflatoxin and insurance Farmers with aflatoxin-infected corn have insurance options as long as they are diligent. Development of the potentially hazardous mold is a particularly acute threat in this year’s drought-stricken corn crop. The impact of high aflatoxin levels varies from corn price discounts to requirements that affected grain be destroyed. Illinois Farm Bureau risk management specialist Doug Yoder notes quality losses in corn are insurable. But in order to be covered by a federal crop policy, a farmer must notify his agent and/or claims adjuster prior to placing grain in farm or commercial storage. An adjuster may take hand samples of corn prior to harvest, an insured farmer may harvest representative areas from which the adjuster can obtain samples, or adjusters may allow the insured to leave representative sample areas from which they can collect samples for post-harvest testing. Because of this year’s heightened risk, Country Financial emphasizes the need for pre-harvest scouting of corn to keep infected grain out of the bin. “Federal crop insurance does not cover losses occurring in storage,” Yoder stressed. “Testing after grain is placed in storage could result in invalidating claims for aflatoxin.” Corn containing less than 20 ppb of aflatoxin can be sold as normal grain, is considered safe for human or livestock consumption, and no insurance “quality adjustment” is required at that level. Any aflatoxin testing for crop insurance purposes must be performed by a “disinterested,” approved testing facility. An approved facility must be a recognized commercial, government, or university testing lab, including approved facilities at an elevator or other delivery point, but it cannot be involved in buying or selling grain to be tested, unless USDA’s Risk Management Agency provides a waiver. Recommended aflatoxin limits for feeding are no more than 20 ppb for dairy animals; 100 ppb for breeding cattle, breeding swine, and mature poultry; 200 ppb for finishing swine over 100 pounds; and 300 ppb for finishing cattle. — Martin Ross


FarmWeek Page 4 Monday, August 13, 2012

policy

Farm bill deemed prime drought survival vehicle The best medicine for drought-stricken farmers is a new farm bill, lawmakers from both sides of Capitol Hill told Illinois farmers last week. At an ag summit in Lincoln and a McLean County Chamber of Commerce lunch last Tuesday, U.S. House Ag Committee Chairman Frank Lucas (R-Okla.) noted challenges in moving a House farm bill in September. He cited a roughly $12 billion gap between House and Senate long-term ag spending proposals and debate within House ranks over proposed nutrition program cuts. Lucas fired back at reporters who questioned likely huge 2012 crop insurance payouts. The program, which has provided nearly $9 billion in payouts over the previous 10 years, “has been very cost-effective over the past decade — over the last 20 years, for that matter,” he argued. He rejected suggestions that crop premium subsidies and commodity programs should take a greater hit amid proposals to reduce future “food stamp” spending. Lucas’ committee recommends $14 billion in long-term farm program cuts and $16 billion in cuts to nutrition pro-

grams that account for nearly 80 percent of ag spending. The Senate proposes $4 billion in farm bill nutrition cuts. Lucas maintained his committee seeks merely to assure that prospective food stamp recipients “have the income and the asset levels” to qualify for assistance. He questioned whether, ultimately, the farm bill should be viewed as “food policy or social policy.” “It doesn’t matter how much money you give people to buy food — if there’s nothing on the shelf to buy because you forgot about production, you forgot about processing, then they’re going to be hungry,” Lucas told his Lincoln audience. Lucas noted “some of my conservative colleagues” seek greater nutrition cuts, liberal lawmakers oppose House-proposed cuts, “and a mix of my friends on the left and the right just don’t like farm policy.” Ultimately, however, the drought should apply the pressure needed to demand action on a farm bill from House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio), he said. Rep. Aaron Schock, a Peoria Republican who hosted the Lincoln summit, deemed affordable, effective insurance “part-and-parcel to (farmers) maintaining their livelihood.” Lucas refuted the idea of

setting income eligibility limits for insurance premiums: “If crop insurance is a tool, then everyone should be able to use it on all their production.” At the same time, Lucas pushed for Senate approval of House livestock disaster proposals that the chairman said plug “a hole in the ’08 farm bill.” The measure effectively restores provisions of the 2008 bill’s Supplemental Revenue Assurance disaster program which expired last fall by reallocating existing farm bill resources, Lucas said. Despite his support for broadspectrum rural drought relief, U.S. Sen. Dick Durbin, a Springfield Democrat, questioned the value of the House plan. The senator noted standing livestock disaster proposals already are included “in our (the Senate’s) version of the farm bill.” Given current deficit concerns and proposed federal program cutbacks, Durbin believes ad hoc “disaster assistance is going to be so hard to come by.” “Don’t just give us a temporary fix to our current problem” he told FarmWeek during a stop last week at Evergreen FS’ Yuton elevator in McLean County. “Give us a five-year farm bill. We want to get this done. “If there’s a specific disaster need, we can deal with it. But I

Illinois Farm Bureau President Philip Nelson, center, discusses ag issues with U.S. House Ag Committee Chairman Frank Lucas (R-Okla.), right, prior to a McLean County Chamber of Commerce “economic summit” last week in Normal. IFB leaders met privately with Lucas after the lunch meeting to talk about the farm bill, drought concerns, and tax issues. (Photo by Martin Ross)

Ag Under Secretary Kevin Concannon last week announced a broad range of strategies to improve program “integrity” in USDA’s Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) — i.e., food stamps — and accountability for those who misuse benefits. Measures include tougher financial sanctions for mostly

smaller retailers who attempt to defraud the program and new requirements and tools for states to ensure benefits go solely to eligible individuals. Concannon said “USDA has a zero tolerance policy for SNAP fraud.” New measures are aimed at “ensuring these dollars are spent as intended — helping millions of people

in need get back on solid economic footing,” he said. U.S. House Ag Committee Chairman Frank Lucas (ROkla.) argues his committee’s farm bill plan, which includes a controversial $16 million in nutrition program cuts, has the same goal. The proposal seeks to “dramatically tighten” procedures for demonstrating

income and household asset eligibility thresholds for SNAP recipients, Lucas said. “We are an oversight committee,” Lucas emphasized during an ag summit at Lincoln College. “But when you read opinion pieces in the big publications on the East and West Coast about how mean that ‘Okie’ (Lucas) is, under-

BY MARTIN ROSS FarmWeek

really think that keeping the pressure on the House to do a farm bill is the best thing in the long run.” If the House can’t reach an

effective compromise over ag spending levels and priorities, “they owe it to the farmers across America to call the Senate bill for a vote,” Durbin said.

Lucas: House plan, USDA share common SNAP goals

Farm bill helps stabilize drought-stricken world The proposed 2012 farm bill includes not only a new safety net for U.S. farmers but also a “safe box” designed to promote global ag productivity and feed a growing, hungry population. That’s according to Margaret Zeigler, new executive director of the Global Harvest Initiative (GHI). GHI works to sustainably boost ag productivity using modern technology, promote economic growth, and “smooth out food price crises” across the globe. At a time of international drought, U.S. policy can play a key role in helping stabilize food availability and price, she told FarmWeek. A new USDA study warns the number of “food-insecure” people in 76 low-income nations that receive food aid or experience supply or nutrition-related insecurity could rise by 37 million, or 4.6 percent, over the next decade. USDA projects a 15.1 percent increase in Sub-Saharan Africa alone. GHI’s own 2011 Global Agricultural Productivity report indicates world ag productivity is “somewhat on track,” but Zei-

gler notes progress “varies a lot country-bycountry, region-by-region.” That’s where the farm bill — specifically, “Title II” food assistance programs — comes in. Beyond emergency aid, a portion of Title II funds go to what Zeigler calls “the safe box for development assistance.” Safe box funding supports long-term “resilience” among developing world farmers by fostering co-ops and finance options, improving irrigation and infrastructure, and boosting production to levels that allow farmers to connect with markets beyond the community level, she said. Typically, Congress appropriates $1.4 billion to $1.8 billion per year for Title II pro-

grams, but funding has been declining since 2009, Zeigler said. “The U.S. share of global emergency aid is about 20 to 35 percent,” she said. “When you reduce that Title II amount, it really squeezes the amount of food available both for emergencies and these development programs. “And when you’re looking at increasing prices, which we’ll probably see globally because of drought in the U.S. and around the world, that money’s not going to go as far.” The Senate proposes $1.47 billion in annual Title II funding, while a House Ag Committee’s plan authorizes $1.1 billion — a source of concern for Zeigler. Given the European economic crisis, the U.S.’ role in bolstering food security is increasingly crucial, she advised. Nations such as Turkey, Brazil, China, and India have stepped up food relief, but donors worldwide “take their cue from the United States,” she said. “It’s not a time to step back,” Zeigler argued. — Martin Ross

stand all I’m saying is, show me you qualify, and I’ll help you,” USDA’s new retailer sanctions proposal would allow the department not only to permanently disqualify a retailer who is found to defraud the system, but also to assess a financial penalty on top of disqualification. Currently, when retailers are found guilty of fraud or abuse, USDA can disqualify them from participating in SNAP or issue a penalty, but not both. USDA also proposes to allow states to take specific new actions aimed at preventing fraud and abuse and ensuring recipient eligibility. Under the plan, states could identify cases that may require further investigation and review when an applicant or recipient is found in a federal database. During the third quarter of fiscal 2012, USDA staff imposed fines or temporary disqualifications on more than 574 stores found violating program rules. USDA permanently disqualified 1,016 stores for exchanging SNAP benefits for cash or falsifying SNAP applications. — Martin Ross


Page 5 Monday, August 13, 2012 FarmWeek

markets

Economist: RFS2 complex issue of ‘interpretation’ The food (and feed) vs. fuel controversy has resurfaced in the form of proposals to temporarily waive Renewable Fuels Standard (RFS2) corn ethanol requirements (see accompanying story). But in the end, the Environmental Protection Chris Hurt Agency (EPA) is expected “to interpret the law as Congress wrote it,” Purdue University ag economist Chris Hurt told FarmWeek. “We have at least one observation of that interpretation — the 2008 petition by Texas Gov. Rick Perry (to block EPA approval of 15 percent ethanol blends),” Hurt argued. “We were really scary short on corn at that point, but EPA’s interpretation was, ‘Congress wants ethanol in the mix.’ “EPA isn’t trying to do this on a moral basis; it’s not trying to say what is fair. That’s not what Congress said — it said fuel is the priority.” RINS and reductions EPA also must consider the potential impact of “RINS” (renewable identification numbers) — essentially, tradable credits that can be used in lieu of actual biofuels purchases to meet RFS2 requirements. Biofu-

els interests suggest RINS, short term, could reduce ethanol corn needs by as much as 18 percent. By some estimates, between 2.4 billion and 2.7 billion equivalent gallons of RINS may be available to the fuel market. That offers “the distinct possibility” of reducing the amount of shortterm corn needed for ethanol production by as much as 900 million bushels, Hurt said. “If they left the 13.8 billion (RFS2 ethanol target) in place for 2013, that’s around 5 billion bushels of corn,” he calculated. “If 2.5 billion gallons of RINS could be used to substitute for use of corn, that potentially could drop the corn usage for ethanol down to about 4.1 billion bushels.” RINS activity likely would increase if ethanol prices exceeded wholesale gasoline prices, Hurt maintained. Price and production Since June, rising corn prices have forced plants either to raise ethanol prices or curtail production to address cost margins, Hurt said. With less ethanol in the marketplace, ethanol prices on average have risen 60 cents per gallon, and margins have come into line with corn costs. Hurt argues the converse also could prove true: Higherpriced corn under supply shortfalls could spur added ethanol shutdowns, resulting in higher ethanol prices and potentially reduced corn use for fuel. However, with biofuels use

mandated under RFS2, ethanol theoretically could outbid other uses for available corn no matter what the price, he said. Politics and policy While an RFS2 decision rests with EPA, policymakers continue to join the debate. Twenty-five bipartisan senators signed a letter to EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson last week seeking immediate action on the standard to reduce “economic ramifications for consumers, livestock and poultry producers, food manufacturers, and food service providers.” After meeting with farmers in McLean County, Springfield Democrat Sen. Dick Durbin recognized “there are so many angles here that you have to consider.” Durbin concluded that, “We are not going to disadvantage most livestock and poultry producers,” especially with availability of ethanol-based distillers dried grains as a partial corn replacement. “If the corn crop is as bad as it appears, a substantial portion of the crop will go through the ethanol cookers,” House Ag Chairman Frank Lucas (R-Okla.) suggested at an ag summit last Tuesday in Lincoln. “The refiners have to have the ethanol to blend with the gasoline under the mandate. We’ll see how high that drives prices for corn for both animal and human food.”

The U.S. likely will lose some ag export opportunities in coming months due to lack of output from drought-ravaged crops. In fact, six shipments of corn from South America recently were booked for shipment to North Carolina to service the poultry industry there. The U.S. Grains Council (USGC) in response is working to assure foreign customers the U.S. will remain a reliable supplier of grains near-term, despite possible supply issues, and in the future. “We’ve been getting a lot of questions (about grain availability) from our customers,” Tom Sleight, president and CEO of USGC, told participants of the Illinois Farm Bureau Marketers to Washington trip. “The main question is ‘is the American farmer going to be there (long-term)?’ Our answer is ‘yes.’” USGC is recommending

foreign customers modify grain-buying patterns and review marketing plans. The Grains Council also is assisting customers with Tom Sleight their search to find markets where they can bid on grain. “This year is going to be all about trade servicing,” Sleight said. “What we’re concerned about is the potential for demand destruction.” USGC, despite the down year in crop production, projected world demand for grains and U.S. crop production will continue to grow. “We have a disappointing crop,” said Erick Erickson, director of global strategies for USGC. “But we know the production potential of U.S. agriculture is tremendous. “Yields (are) expected to grow,” he continued. “And

that’s a good thing because the world market will require more and more of what we produce.” About 400 million people in the world are expected to move into the middle class this decade, Erickson noted. The increased buying power is expected to be used for better diets. Tight supplies of grain have pushed crop prices to new heights in recent months. But many foreign customers are more concerned about crop availability than the higher prices, according to Sleight. “Domestic corn prices in China are over $10 per bushel,” he said. “We can compete with that, if we have the grain.” Sleight believes it is critical for the U.S. to remain a major player in world markets, even as it grapples with the challenges of a short crop. “It is important the U.S. does not take market disruption kind of steps” such as implementing grain embargoes or waiving the Renewable Fuels Standard, in response to tight

BY MARTIN ROSS FarmWeek

‘Difficult decision’ ahead as EPA considers RFS BY DANIEL GRANT FarmWeek The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) likely will not make a decision any time soon on a request to waive the Renewable Fuels Standard (RFS2). Larry Elworth, agriculture counselor to EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson, last week told participants of the Illinois Farm Bureau Marketers to Washington trip that his agency must weigh a number of factors before it could suspend or alter current requirements of the RFS2. EPA has the authority to grant a waiver of all or some of the required volume of renewable fuels production for a period not to exceed one year — if it concludes the current mandate is causing severe harm to the economy. A coalition of livestock groups earlier this month requested a waiver of at least part of EPA’s 2013 RFS2 mandate, which calls for 13.8 billion gallons of ethanol use. The livestock groups are concerned about feed availability due to drought-shortened crops and a spike in feed prices that already has caused some farmers to thin their herds. “It will be difficult for EPA to make a decision, Elworth said. “We have to make sure that what we do (in the event EPA alters the RFS2 mandate) actually helps solve the problem.” A waiver of the RFS2 could create a ripple effect in commodities markets as demand for grain likely would decline. It also is possible international demand for U.S. commodities could decline in a short-crop/high-price scenario. Meanwhile, EPA has to consider the possibility of increased greenhouse gas emissions if use of cleaner-burning renewable fuels diminishes. “We’re in the center of the drought issue,” Elworth said. “We will work with USDA and the Department of Energy to make the best decision we can make.” States also can request a waiver of the RFS2, which would require EPA to make a decision within 90 days. As of last week, no states had made such a request. Texas in 2008 requested a 50 percent waiver from the mandate, and EPA denied that petition. There is no specified timeline, on the other hand, for EPA to make a decision on a private waiver request such as the one made by the livestock groups. Wayne Anderson, IFB District 3 director from Henry County, told Elworth he believes it is possible the market could work itself out. “The marketplace has a tendency to take care of it,” Anderson said. “Ethanol production already is down 20 percent.” Elworth noted the RFS2 requirements could be eased as credit for 2.64 billion gallons of ethanol production could be applied to this year’s mandate. There also is as much as 1 billion gallons of ethanol in storage, he added.

USGC hopes to avoid ‘demand destruction’ in export markets crop supplies, he said. “The market will work.” USGC reported explosive growth in demand for distillers grains, a by product of ethanol

production, around the world. USDA at the end of this month will update its ag export projections for 2012-13. — Daniel Grant

Wayne Anderson, Illinois Farm Bureau District 3 director from Henry County, is interviewed by an RFD-TV reporter at the National Agricultural Statistics headquarters in Washington, D.C., Friday following the lock-up for the August crop report. Anderson was a participant in the Marketers to Washington last week. (Photo by Daniel Grant)


FarmWeek Page 6 Monday, August 13, 2012

CROPWATCHERS Bernie Walsh, Durand, Winnebago County: It wasn’t as hot last week, and we even had rain on two different days. Saturday, Aug. 4, brought the first rain, about 0.25 of an inch here at our farm with 0.6 of an inch-plus in the southern part of the county. The second rain came on Wednesday and Thursday. We recorded 0.4 of an inch of rain, and the Rockford airport had 1 inch. This should help our beans and help fill out the corn that we have, but USDA confirmed Friday that the damage has been done on the corn crop. Corn pollination just doesn’t work very well when you don’t have any rain for a month, and the thermometer hits 105 degrees. There were some Conservation Reserve Program acres being baled last week. Hopefully, that can help some beef cow herds. Pete Tekampe, Grayslake, Lake County: It was a cool, wet Friday morning in Lake County. We got 0.9 to 2 inches of rain in Lake County Thursday. Sunday, Aug. 5, we got a wind burst storm but only enough rain to wet the pavement. Corn has good color but is not putting much grain out. Spider mites have returned, and we had to spray the beans a second time. Hopefully, we will get enough rain to chase them away. Rain is being called for Monday and Wednesday. Hopefully, we will get some and keep the cool temperatures. Leroy Getz, Savanna, Carroll County: Storms with high winds on Saturday, Aug. 4, swept through the Fulton area and the southeast part of Carroll County. Trees were toppled and several buildings destroyed, including two at the Carroll County Fairgrounds just before the fair was to begin. That area had several rain events with a total of 3 inches of rain for the week. I received 1.4 inches of rain. Soybeans and hay will benefit from the latest rain, but corn yields are already determined. We may have to dust off our lawnmowers one more time. Ken Reinhardt, Seaton, Mercer County: Rainfall was again disappointing with several chances missed. We did get 0.2 to 0.3 of an inch of rain last Saturday, Aug. 4. There is talk of corn harvest by the end of this month. I just watched the trading reaction to the August crop report on the DTN screen, I’ve never seen anything like it. I thank Farm Bureau for being able to experience a lockdown for an August crop report years ago in Washington. (Another group attended the lock-down last week) Ron Moore, Roseville, Warren County: We received 0.2 of an inch of rain on Aug. 4. No rain since then. Some areas got up to 1.5 inches. The corn crop is just about done with the milk line about halfway down to the tip. We should be chopping silage sometime in late August. The beans still can benefit from more rains in August. Spraying for spider mites continues. Lots of meetings concerning what farmers have to do to comply with the federal crop insurance rules as many claims will be turned in this fall. Mark Kerber, Chatsworth, Livingston County: More of the same — hot and dry. Actually, it cooled off finally going into the weekend. Storms went through the area, and some of the county received one inch of rain. Southeast Livingston County received only trace amounts again. Producers are analyzing their yield potential and coming up with some pretty low numbers, unless you are in an isolated area that got some summer showers. Farmers are getting machinery ready as the crop will mature early this year. Fall tillage will be hard on equipment unless rain softens the ground. Mother Nature has sent some wide cracks pretty deep into the soil. My neighbor says that will be his tillage. The August crop report numbers Friday were pretty bullish. Producers are wondering how high this market will go before it runs out of buyers.

Jacob Streitmatter, Princeville, Peoria County: A few showers/sprinkles went through the area last week, and I was fortunate enough to receive about 26 rain drops. The ears on the corn are starting to fall over along with the stalk. Soybeans look OK if you look early in the morning before the heat starts. By noon, they look as if they would be dead by night on lighter ground. The game is over for corn. Hopefully, we won’t get a big wind storm, or it will all be flat. There is a lot of highly productive ground that will yield less than an average soybean crop in the area.

Wilfred Dittmer, Quincy, Adams County: Our rain last week totaled four drops in the rain gauge Thursday morning. We had some pretty hot temperatures during the week, but cooler weather is promised for the next few days. That may help the beans. The corn crop, however, is keeping everyone guessing, but it is not looking very promising. Some have started to cut silage. Others are wondering if it is worth running any machine through the fields. The year 2012 most likely will go down in history books as not a good year for the farmer or any ag-related business.

Ron Haase, Gilman, Iroquois County: For the month of July, our farms received between 0.3 and 0.85 of an inch of rain. Most of our acres received closer to the 0.3. Last week, we had light showers on Aug. 4, 5, and 9. Total rainfall ranged from 0.2 to 0.5 of an inch. Corn development ranges from the R3 (milk) growth stage on up to the R5 (dent) growth stage. Most fields in the local area are at or near R5. Some fields have the milk line 70 percent of the way down the kernel. In those fields, the dry matter content is close to 90 percent of final dry matter weight. Many soybean fields have entered the R5 (beginning seed) growth stage. The pods are still flat at this point. Crop protection products continue to be sprayed in some soybean fields. The local closing bids for Aug. 9 were: nearby corn, $8.34; new-crop corn, $8.30; fall 2013 corn, $6.17; nearby soybeans, $16.69; newcrop soybeans, $16.17; fall 2013 soybeans, $12.56. USDA did lower its projected yields as expected. It is hard to tell what our corn yields will be due to the wide variability of ear size.

Carrie Winkelmann, Tallula, Menard County: The wonderful 65-degree weather I woke up to Friday morning was sure a welcome change from the sweltering heat that has made this summer so unbearable. We received 0.52 of an inch of rain on the farm last week, but the totals have been quite varied across the county. The rain and cooler weather have taken some pressure off of the soybeans, especially when it comes to spider mites. And it is official: Corn harvest has started in our area. Thursday, I saw a field opened up and partially picked.

Brian Schaumburg, Chenoa, McLean County: Cooler temperatures were a welcomed change in the weather. Widely scattered storms missed the driest areas again. Spider mites are making a comeback in fields that were sprayed two weeks ago and the beans may need another dose. Farmers are debating the need to artificially dry an “insurance” crop and may let corn dry in the fields longer than usual. Silage is being chopped and hay people are scrambling to fill needs. Corn, $8.23; fall corn, $8.24; soybeans, $16.71, fall soybeans, $16.06; wheat, $8.73. Steve Ayers, Champaign, Champaign County: Our “five minutes before it’s too late” countdown is now minus four. A total of 1.15 inches of rain fell in the Champaign area last weekend and 0.45 fell Thursday evening while some of the driest areas counted the raindrops. Philo and Sidney areas received strong winds that blew train cars off the tracks, downed trees and power lines, and flattened corn. Hail was reported in some areas. Topflight Grain held its annual crop tour Tuesday and found the 2012 average from 10 locations was 122 bushels per acre compared to 148 bushels per acre year ago. Low corn yield was 94 bushels per acre in Milmine area while high was 163 bushels per acre at Cisco. Pod count average was 28 per plant compared to 38 a year ago. See you Thursday at Agronomy Day. Todd Easton, Charleston, Coles County: In the wee hours of Thursday, loud and persistent thunder and lightning woke me. Before bedtime on the same day, another front rolled through — not as violent but still wetting things up. In all, I had 1.8 inches in the rain gauge. The consensus is that the rain had to help the bean crop some, so with that, I finally have good news to report. The ground was able to soak up the precipitation pretty fast, so it had little effect on corn harvest. More and more combines kept nipping away at fields throughout the week, and there may be several more out this week. Moistures are in the mid-20s on average, keeping everyone from running long hours. But stories of weak stalks and ear dropping may encourage farmers to run some of their grain through the dryer. Maybe next week I’ll have some yield numbers — if they are even worth sharing.

Jimmy Ayers, New City, Sangamon County: This past week combines were rolling in a few spots. Yields were running from 160 to 100 — all over the board in the same field. It’s just tremendous the differences showing up with the different soil types. We received 0.5 of an inch of rain early in the week, but the beans are still showing signs of the heat and dry weather. The Illinois State Fair kicked off Thursday and Ag Day is Tuesday. A yield report from Christian County had the overall county average at 126 bushels per acre with a low of 67 and a high of 179. Crop insurance records need to be documented very well. Our insurance agent told us to keep track of everything — even stuff we wanted to throw away. Doug Uphoff, Shelbyville, Shelby County: We received 1.4 and 2.5 inches of rain here while we were in Florida. That will help beans because they have set more pods. Corn has been harvested, and corn planted in March that we thought would be so much better than April was terrible and tested 18 to 20 percent. So April corn must really going to be bad — I have heard under 80 bushels per acre. Will know more next week. All I do know is corn that has died is falling over with every little wind or rain. Son’s wedding in Florida was awesome. David Schaal, St. Peter, Fayette County: On Friday morning the thermometer was in the mid60s. We haven’t seen that for awhile. On Thursday morning, storms rolled through the northern part of the county and dumped anywhere from half an inch up to 2 inches of rain. But here in the southern part of the county, we got just lightning. The county crop tour last week showed corn averaging 41.65 bushels per acre (bpa) with a range of 0 to 170 bpa. Soybeans had a range of 2 to 51 bpa, and a county average of 21.49 bpa. The 170 bpa of corn and the 51 bpa of soybeans came out of the Kaskaskia River Bottom. There were 57 corn checks taken. Out of those 57, 10 were zeros, and 10 were less than 10 bpa. Only eight samples out of the 57 were triple-digit yields. Yield checks were taken by teams which consisted of farmers, bankers, seed and chemical salesmen, insurance salesmen, elevator operators, Farm Service Agency personnel, and members of the news media. Thanks to all who participated. Dan Meinhart, Montrose, Jasper County: The week was mostly dry and warm. Showers moved through the area Wednesday night and early Thursday morning leaving various amounts of rain. Some isolated areas received a nice amount while most received little or none. Some beans may have been helped where the rains hit, but for most the time is running out. Mowing of road ditches and waterways is taking place. Farmers are attending field days and lining up their seed orders for next year. Seed could be in short supply.Temperatures this coming week are expected to be in the 80s with a slight chances of rain.


Page 7 Monday, August 13, 2012 FarmWeek

CROPWATCHERS Jeff Guilander, Jerseyville, Jersey County: We had widespread rain last week for the first time in more than two months. Most received a little more than 2 inches, bringing our grand total for the summer up to 3 inches. It is definitely too late for most of the corn, but the fuller-season beans may benefit. Samples of early-planted corn are hovering around 20 percent moisture through the combine with alfatoxin showing up in some of the samples. Figuring out how to handle crop insurance seems to be the main topic of interest these days. The beans that were holding on last week have greened up some with the rain, but I have not seen a lot of the flowering or secondary growth that we were hoping for. That leads me to believe bean size will be the main plus from the rain. It sounds like there will be a lot of combines rolling by the end of the week with most of us ready to start putting this year behind us. Kevin Raber, Browns, Wabash County: The Wabash County Farm Bureau yield tour showed the corn yield at 71 bushels per acre, compared to 150 bushels per acre in 2011. The yield in many fields was estimated at zero. This is the lowest estimate that we have had in 14 years of doing the survey. Recent rains seemed to have helped the beans. The double-crop soybean fields now look like bean fields.

Dave Hankammer, Millstadt, St. Clair County: This report comes to you by way of Washington, D.C., where I am on the Marketers to Washington tour just prior to the USDA crop report. The weather in Washington was hot with temperatures in the mid90s and high humidity during the daytime. The weather at home had temperatures in the high 90s with very little rain. The last rain we received was Aug. 4 — about 0.4 of an inch. Some areas received as much as 1.5 inches. All showers were spotty at best. Some farmers are starting to harvest corn on the sandier soils in the river bottoms where the corn was planted early in the season and has died. Some yields are less than what they expected. Dean Shields, Murphysboro, Jackson County: The weekend (Aug. 4-5) brought us rain again — anywhere from 2 to 3 inches in some places, which was very nice. It didn’t do much for the corn, but it did help the beans. They are starting to bloom again, and I think the ones setting pods will fill out a lot better now. The wheat field beans that have been sitting still for six to eight weeks are now starting to come up. I doubt if the stands will be very good, but the two rains we had this past week made everything kind of come back to life. Let’s hope the rains continue through the rest of summer so we can get a halfway decent bean crop.

Randy Anderson, Galatia, Saline County: It was a nice week here. Temps weren’t too bad, and we had some showers on the 4th and 5th. It helped the beans. Some corn harvest is getting started in the county. I don’t think a person is going to wear the unloading auger out on the combine this year. I have heard reports that you can take a semi to the field and with a combine with a 12-row head, you might fill it by the end of the day. The showers have helped the pastures. Cows are out grazing again again and not at the hay ring so much. Ken Taake, Ullin, Pulaski County: It continues to be pretty much the same here in Pulaski County, hot and dry. At least during the weekend it was supposed to be a little bit cooler. That will help, but rain has been really lacking. Beans are starting to go the way of corn. They are really struggling just to stay alive. A few people have started to shell corn. I’ve heard of yields anywhere from 50 to 80 bushels per acre. That seems to be the range they’ve been in so far on the earlier-planted corn. There has not been a lot harvested yet, so we’ll see if it continues at that yield or not. Please do take time to be careful as we get into this busy season. Reports received Friday morning. Expanded crop and weather information available at FarmWeekNow.com

Early yield reports illustrate severity of drought BY DANIEL GRANT FarmWeek

Curt Niemeyer, who farms south of Humboldt in Coles County, knew his crop yields would take a hit this year because of the drought. But he didn’t know how big the hit would be until he recently har vested his first field of March-planted corn. “It was worse than I thought it was going to be,” Niemeyer told FarmWeek. Moisture readings from Niemeyer’s field ranged from 22 to 27 percent. But he wa s n’t s p e c i f i c a b o u t t h e yield on his first 20 acres other than to say, “it was well below average.” Eric Helgen, a farmer from Montgomery County, in recent weeks harvested a few hundred acres of corn. His crop so far tested 23 percent for moisture and averaged about

96.5 bushels per acre. A normal yield on his farm is 176

bushels per acre. “ I t h i n k i t ’s a l l a b o u t

Mark Austin (in tractor cab), his brother, Jami (in combine), and their father, Jim, last week were combining corn in a 20-acre field on s o m e o f t h e f a r m ’s h i g h g r o u n d n e a r Charleston in Coles County to avoid yield loss from ears dropping to the ground. Their yield so far was averaging 80 bushels per acre with a moisture content of 23.5 percent. At left, Mark Austin kneels between rows of corn where the ears had dropped to the ground. (Photo by Ken Kashian)

hybrid and soil type (that will deter mine if far mers have anything to har vest in d r o u g h t - s t r e s s e d f i e l d s ) ,” Helgen said. “It should be a very quick harvest.” Some farmers have gotten an early start on harvesting corn due to rapid maturation of the crop. Others are harvesting early to reduce the potential of dropped ears or total collapse of weak cornstalks. The National Agricultural Statistics Service Illinois field office last week reported 6 percent of the corn crop was mature in the state compared to the five-year average of 1 percent. The majority of the soybean crop (82 percent) was setting pods last week compared to the average of 52 percent. “The corn is done,” said Ed Gerstenecker, a far mer from Marion County. “A lot

of yields in my area will range between zero and 40 bushels.” Gerstenecker, however, believes some soybean fields still have yield potential after recent rains provided a bit of relief. In fact, he predicted soybeans will out-yield corn in his area. G e r s t e n e c k e r ’s f a r m received just 1.5 inches of rain in June, 0.3 of an inch in J u l y, a n d 0 . 3 s o f a r t h i s month. “It’s the driest I’ve ever s e e n i t ,” s a i d t h e ve t e r a n farmer of 40 years. Last week, 74 percent of the state’s corn crop, 57 percent of soybeans, 94 percent of the sorghum crop, and 95 percent of pastures were rated poor or very poor. Nationwide, nearly 90 percent of the U.S. corn crop is in regions impacted by the drought.

Herbicide carryover concerns? Consider a field bioassay BY BARRY NASH

I remember my father harvesting a 25-acre soybean field during the 1983 drought and not being able to fill a two-ton truck. Among the most frustrating issues of a drought not only are the Barry Nash yield loss experienced but also the serious concerns of herbicide carryover to next year’s crop. Remember that soil moisture is the key to successful residual herbicide degradation. The lack

of soil moisture equals an increased concern for residual herbicide carryover. A field bioassay uses test plants similar to the field crop to be grown. It is a practical and realistic evaluation and can be conducted with simple equipment and minimal time. While this method is not 100 percent accurate, it is an economical and “real world” experiment that generally provides a good indication of herbicide carryover to a given crop. To conduct a successful field bioassay: • Pull soil samples in a “Z” or “X” pattern across a field. Focus samples in areas of herbicide overlap, such as end rows or

point rows. This should provide results from areas in the field that have the highest potential for herbicide carryover. • Individual soil samples should be no more than 3 inches deep if minimal rainfall has occurred since the herbicide application. Soil samples taken beyond the depth may dilute the sample. • Place several soil composites into 2-inch aluminum pans. • Plant the follow crop and

place the containers outdoors where the plants are exposed to sunlight. Be sure to plant at least two “control” samples with soil taken from a garden or a field where a non-residual herbicide was applied. • Water the samples daily – or at least a minimum of every two to three days – depending on temperature, humidity, wind, and sunlight. • Evaluate the plants approximately three weeks after plant-

ing. Look for the mode-ofaction symptoms for the herbicide in question. Now is the time to begin preparing for a successful follow crop. We recommend being proactive. A field bioassay is an easy and simple method to assess the possibility of herbicide carryover. For more information, contact your local FS crop specialist, who has the training and experience required to conduct these tests properly. Ba r r y N a sh is G ROW MARK’s weed science technical manager. His email address is bnash@growmark.com.


FarmWeek Page 8 Monday, August 13, 2012

around illinois

Above, Chicago playwright Wendy Whiteside listens as Christian County farmer R.D. Elder describes farming with a disability. Whiteside interviewed Elder to collect material for an original play while the two sat inside Elder’s farm shop near Blue Mound. At right, Christian County farmer R.D. Elder demonstrates how he uses a lift to get into his tractor cab from his wheelchair. (Photos by Kay Shipman)

Disabled farmer’s story brings reality to the stage BY KAY SHIPMAN FarmWeek

This fall, Chicago theater audiences will share the joys and challenges of farming with a disability. If the production moves audiences to support those farmers and AgrAbility Unlimited, Christian County farmer R.D. Elder of Blue Mound will have accomplished his goal. Recently, Elder, president of the county Farm Bureau’s Foundation, shared his story with Wendy Whiteside, producing artistic director of Chicago’s American Blues Theater, as the two chatted in

his air-conditioned farm shop. “With the lift, I’m independent in the tractor,” Elder told Whiteside (see photo). But such equipment wasn’t easy to find when he was injured as a young man in a traffic accident, so Elder said he had to design and build much of his own early equipment modifications. Farmers using their ingenuity to solve problems resonated with Whiteside, who grew up on a Kansas farm. Her father had polio as a child and is disabled. Both her grandfathers farmed

with mobility problems. “They were always jerry-rigging something,” Whiteside said with a laugh. In fact, she learned to drive a tractor by watching one grandfather who couldn’t move his right leg. She even copied his left-leg driving technique. Elder and Whiteside’s conversation ranged from the prejudices and challenges disabled farmers face to some of the joys of working and living on a farm. “At the end of a day during harvest, there’s a sense of accomplishment, a sense of

peace,” Elder said. However, the ability to help Elder and other disabled farmers continue farming has been limited by funding cuts to AgrAbility Unlimited, Bob Aherin, the AgrAbility project director, told Whiteside. AgrAbility receives no state funding and has sought grants and donations from organizations and foundations. Recently, Illinois Farm Bureau donated $10,000 to AgrAbility. Whiteside shared her plans to write a piece about a fictional character based on Elder and others. “Some of the things you said moved me and will

move others,” she told Elder. Whiteside’s play will premiere in late fall as part of Ripped: The Living Newspaper Project in Chicago. American Blues Theater playwrights use headlines and current issues to create new works that are performed for the first time. Although sharing his story is not new to Elder, it will be the first time it is shared with a theater audience. AgrAbility has helped Elder, and he wants to help the program by raising awareness about the program and the need for it. “I’m doing what I can for AgrAbility,” Elder said.

USDA analyst at summit: Russia, Vietnam latest ‘plumbs’ BY MARTIN ROSS FarmWeek

While a nationwide drought may raise concerns about nearterm U.S. export capabilities, a USDA trade analyst last week outlined efforts to clear the way for shipment of more U.S. products abroad. According to Robert Riemenschneider, deputy administrator with USDA’s Office of Global Analysis, that

includes coming to terms with a couple of tough customers — Russia and Vietnam. During a Lincoln College “ag sumRobert Riemenschneider mit,” Riemenschneider noted “some pullback” from fiscal

2011’s record $137.4 billion in U.S. ag exports. The U.S. hopes to regain ground through current Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) talks and congressional approval of permanent normal trade relations (PNTR) with new World Trade Organization (WTO) member Russia. As part of a WTO accession agreement, Russia will scrap a 15 percent duty on in-quota U.S. pork imports. That should

clear the way for more pork to enter Russia duty-free. A 15 percent Russian duty on frozen beef muscle cuts will remain unchanged under WTO conditions. However, Russia has committed to increasing its quota on U.S. beef imports to 60,000 tons in 2012. In Riemenschneider’s view, PNTR would help ensure that commitments translate to U.S. access. Russia has had “no obligation whatsoever” to comply with its commitments in the past, and U.S. complaints have required bilateral “government-to-government” negotiations, he said. “Just in the last couple of years, the things Russia has done in terms of changing import quotas on pork and poultry, in terms of sanitary and phytosanitary (health-related) import restrictions, have made it very difficult to trade there simply due to the uncertainty,” he told FarmWeek. “WTO accession isn’t going to completely eliminate that uncertainty. But it does give you

an avenue; it gives you leverage and some level of predictability that’s greater than what we’ve had in the past.” Meanwhile, the U.S. will join in the next round of TPP talks Sept. 6-15 in Virginia. Other participants include Australia, Brunei Darussalam, Canada, Chile, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore, and Vietnam. Riemenschneider hopes for a TPP agreement by year’s end, but warns “there are lots of moving pieces.” U.S. and Australian pork producers challenge Canadian swine subsidies, and Asian AIDS interests question proposed pharmaceutical patent protections via the TPP. Riemenschneider dubs Vietnam “the real plumb” for U.S. ag market access. The U.S. has some form of free trade agreement with or sees little export potential in the other TPP countries. “(Vietnam) also is turning out to be the toughest negotiator,” Riemenschneider noted, however.


Page 9 Monday, August 13, 2012 FarmWeek

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easy steering and responsiveness for all-day rides with less fatigue. „ Polaris Independent Rear Suspension and high

ground clearance keeps the ride smooth.

full-size models. That’s industry-leading pulling power.

NOW IS THE TIME TO BUY With rebates up to $700 and financing as low as 2.99% — during the Polaris Factory Authorized Clearance Sales Event!* See your local dealer or visit polaris.com for details. *Offers end September 30th. Rebates vary by model. Financing and rates based on credit worthiness. See your participating Polaris dealer for details. Warning: The Polaris RANGER and RZR are not intended for on-road use. Driver must be at least 16 years old with a valid driver’s license to operate. Passengers must be at least 12 years old and tall enough to grasp the hand holds and plant feet firmly on the floor. All SxS drivers should take a safety training course. Contact ROHVA atwww.rohva.org or (949) 255-2560 for additional information. Drivers and passengers should always wear helmets, eye protection, protective clothing, and seat belts. Always use cab nets. Be particularly careful on difficult terrain. Never drive on public roads or paved surfaces. Never engage in stunt driving, and avoid excessive speeds and sharp turns. Riding and alcohol/drugs don’t mix. Check local laws before riding on trails. ©2012 Polaris Industries Inc.


FarmWeek Page 10 Monday, August 13, 2012

WIND

Researchers exploring limits of wind energy technology BY KAY SHIPMAN FarmWeek

Scientific discoveries and new technology continue to change wind turbines and the wind industry. Argonne National Laboratory scientists shared updates on their research projects during a recent state wind energy conference in Normal. Some of the discussion: Storing wind-generated power: The ability to store energy generated by wind power would address daily and seasonal generation fluctuations. But “storage is not a silver bullet,” advised Guenther Conzelmann, director of Argonne National Laboratory’s energy systems analysis. Currently, hydro storage with pumps is the only economically viable way to store energy, according to Conzelmann. Portugal and Spain are “building storage capacity like crazy,” he said. Southern Germany also is encouraging more pump storage of energy because that region recently closed several nuclear plants. Battery technology “has a long way to go to capture the

storage market,” Conzelmann said. He envisioned batteries being used to store smaller amounts of wind energy generated at night for use during the day. Seasonal storage to supplement lower wind power in July and August wouldn’t be possible at the moment because huge storage capacity would be needed, he said. Massive off-shore turbines future possibility: Argonne scientists studying the potential for less expensive wind energy believe huge, off-shore turbines may be the future of the industry, reported Jerry Nolen with Argonne’s superconductivity technology team. Scientists are investigating the potential of a 10 megawatt (MW) turbine that would be much larger than today’s 1.75 to 2 MW turbines. “If you double the (turbine blade’s) diameter, you get four times the power,” Nolen said. He speculated land-based turbines would reach a maximum of 2.5 to 3 MW. Any 10 MW turbines would have to be built on water because the

State Fair Fun

Young Leader

Agri-Quiz Bowl Where Great Thinkers Come Together & Compete!

REVISED Tuesday, August 14, 2012 Illinois State Fair • Illinois Building Theatre 8:00 a.m. 8:30 a.m. 9:00 a.m.

Madison #1, Sangamon, Macon, Champaign #1 Macoupin, Vermilion, Cass-Morgan, Shelby #1 Mason, Madison #2, Tazewell, Edgar

9:30 a.m. 10:00 a.m.

Consolation Round Semi-Final Round

10:30 a.m. 11:00 a.m.

Champaign #2, Shelby #2, Adams, LaSalle Announcement of State Winners in Achievement Award and Excellence in Ag Award

11:30 a.m. 12 Noon

Grundy, Hancock #2, Effingham, Hamilton Randolph, Wayne #1, Knox, Edwards #1

12:30 p.m. 1:00 p.m.

Consolation Round Semi-Final Round

1:30 p.m. 2:00 p.m. 2:30 p.m.

Richland, Carroll, Edwards #2, Perry Wayne #2, St. Clair, Jo Daviess, Henry White, Kane, Hancock #1, Kankakee #1

3:00 p.m. 3:30 p.m. 4:00 p.m. 4:30 p.m.

Consolation Round Semi-Final Round Consolation Finals Finals

Watch County Farm Bureaus Take On Each Other YL748H2

blades would be too long to transport on land, he noted. Superconductivity technology will play a role in the massive turbines because the wires

would carry much higher current density, he said. In theory, scientists have reasoned massive off-shore turbines could reduce wind

energy costs, but further research is needed to determine if the technology would be feasible, according to Nolen.

WIND DAMAGES GRAIN FACILITIES

Straight-line winds clocked at 101 mph Saturday (Aug. 4) damaged grain bins and related equipment at the GRAINCO FS facility at Kentland in Kendall County. Damage was concentrated primarily at the old part of the elevator shown here, according to Bill Stahler, risk and regulator manager for GRAINCO. Two legs and the top conveyors and spouting were destroyed. The backup dryer also was destroyed. A newer 750,000-bushel bin sustained heavy damage and bin roofs in the old section were damaged. Stahler said the facility expects to be ready to take grain this fall. No estimate of damage has been made. (Photos courtesy Kendall County Farm Bureau)


Page 11 Monday, August 13, 2012 FarmWeek

fb in action

County FBs join with State Police, IDOT on SMV safety BY KAY SHIPMAN FarmWeek

A campaign to save lives and prevent farm machinerytraffic accidents kicks off today (Monday) at the Illinois State Fairgrounds, Springfield. Several county Farm Bureaus, the Illinois State Police, and the Illinois Department of Transportation (IDOT) are working to make drivers aware that farm equip-

Adams County Farm Bureau manager. A similar safety awareness campaign is being spearheaded by the Madison County Farm Bureau Young Farmers and IDOT. “IDOT wanted to make motorists aware of slow moving farm vehicles on the road,” said Tom Jett, Madison County Farm Bureau manager. Madison County Farm Bureau

Kevin Adolph, left, Chadwick, watches as grain he donated to the Carroll County Young Leaders Harvest for All campaign is loaded into a semi-trailer. Young Leaders looking on are, from left, Nate Wiersema, Chadwick, and Adam Drinkall (orange hat) and Ed Livengood, both of Milledgeville. (Photo by Chas Welch, Carroll County Farm Bureau manager)

Carroll County YL donations hit record BY CHAS WELCH

ment moves slowly on rural roads and highways. “One driving fatality is one too many. We need to educate the public about these things,” State Police Trooper Mike Kindhart told FarmWeek. Kindhart, a safety education officer, helped spearhead the campaign along with IDOT and the Farm Bureaus in Adams, Brown, Pike, Schuyler, and Scott counties in State Police District 20. Similar to a statewide motorcycle awareness campaign, the new campaign focuses on slow moving vehicle (SMV) emblems and urges drivers to slow down and share the road. The county Farm Bureaus had 3-foot-by-20-foot banners printed with the slogan. Farmer volunteers will post the banners along heavily traveled rural roads during harvest, said Shawn Valter,

leaders also are launching their campaign today at the State Fair. With drivers being distracted by cell phones and other devices, the need for such a campaign is greater, Kindhart said. The banners will be relocated among the counties during harvest. They will be removed and then posted at different locations during planting season. Both Kindhart and Valter said they hoped the safety campaign expands around Illinois. The Western Illinois area campaign will kick off at 10 a.m. Aug. 23 at the Martin Kroencke John Deere dealership, near the Quincy Airport. The State Police are taking the campaign seriously, according to Kindhart. State troopers are committed to making “zero fatalities a reality,” he said.

Sustainable farming practices will be the focus of a Wednesday twilight tour of the Andy Anderson Farm in Leland. The registration deadline is today (Monday). The tour, organized by the University of Illinois Extension and the Illinois Organic Growers Association, will start at 6 p.m. Anderson does not use organic practices but has transitioned his small acreage with compost beds for raising vegeta-

bles and fruit and a pollinator to encourage beneficial insects. His crops include lettuce, potatoes, turnips, rutabagas, sweet corn, peppers, pumpkins, melons, and strawberries. He also has a new pole-structure workshop that has geothermal and wood heat. To register, go online to {http://andyandersonfarm.even tbrite.com}. For more information, call Ellen Phillips, U of I Extension, at 815-732-2191.

Sustainable farming focus of tour

iPad winner announced Dean DeVries of New Douglas in Montgomery County was the winner of an iPad from Illinois Farm Bureau after he recorded his name and email address on the IFB website at {www.ilfb.org/win}. Other Farm Bureau members will become eligible to win an iPad by registering their email addresses during the State Fair at a location near the Farm Bureau stage inside the Commodity Pavilion. Providing email addresses will allow Farm Bureau members to remain abreast of such things as pending legislation and member benefits.

Probably none of the Carroll County Farm Bureau Young Leaders would have guessed when they began their Harvest for All corn collection eight years ago that such a small county could raise an accumulative total of more than $123,286, let alone collect more than $25,511 in 2012. Sixty-three farmers gave to the Young Leaders’ 2012 Harvest for All campaign — which was record-setting. “In a year like this, you never know how the donations will come in. Once again, the

farmers in our county exceeded our expectations with their generosity,” stated Ed Livengood, chairman of the Carroll County Young Leaders. All corn donations were taken to the local ADM facility where they were sold and then combined with cash donations. All proceeds were divided among the four food pantries that serve Carroll County. The timing of the Harvest for All works out to be beneficial for the food pantries as most donations are received around the holidays and supply starts to run low at this time of year. Chas Welch is manager of Carroll County Farm Bureau. She can be reached at 815-244-3001.


FarmWeek Page 12 Monday, August 13, 2012

fb IN ACTION

IFB hopes to help aviation biofuels take off BY MARTIN ROSS FarmWeek

Illinois Farm Bureau hopes to help make the friendly skies a bit friendlier for farmers and greener for fliers. Last November, Continental Airlines Flight 1403 became the U.S.’ first biofuel-powered paid passenger flight when the plane landed at O’Hare International Airport. The Boeing 737-800, operated by United Airlines, burned “green jet fuel” derived in part from algae that produce oil from plant wastes. Now, United and Boeing — companies with a strong Illinois base — are eyeing expanded biofuels use to meet new European Union standards for low-carbon aviation fuels. IFB, Iowa Farm Bureau, and other groups will consult with the recently created Midwest Aviation Sustainable Biofuels Initiative (MASBI) regarding development of “advanced aviation biofuels” within a 12-state region. MASBI was formed by United, Boeing, Honeywell’s UOP (formerly United Oil Products), the Chicago Department of Aviation, and the

Clean Energy Trust. In a release announcing its formation, MASBI suggested “significant promise for biomass (fuel) feedstock.” The fuel for Flight 1403 was supplied by San Franciscobased Solazyme, which previously supplied Australia’s Qantas Airlines. United has contracted to buy an annual 20 million gallons of Solajet from the tech company. Technologies such as Solazyme’s offer MASBI’s heralded potential. Unlike many microbial enzymes used in corn ethanol production, its algal conversion technique could help tap a variety of crop residues, such as corn stover. “Illinois farmers could soon be helping to power Boeing airplanes flown by United pilots in the European airspace,” IFB economist Mike Doherty suggested. As part of its corporate “eco-skies” campaign, Continental already is involved with various stakeholders through USDA’s “Farm to Fly” biofuels initiative, the Commercial Aviation Alternative Fuels Initiative, and DLA Energy, an arm of the military’s Defense Logistics Agency.

Doherty cites Illinois’ potential to capture aviation market share, given major fleets at O’Hare and Midway airports and St. Louis’ Lambert Airport. And the aviation fleet essentially is a “captured market” with few green fuel alternatives — “They can’t use electric; they can’t use natural gas,” Do-

The Kankakee County Farm Bureau Young Leaders Committee recently spent a day volunteering at the Salvation Army soup kitchen in Kankakee. Over the past two years, the Young Leaders have donated more than $500 to the Salvation Army soup kitchen, but this time the committee chose to donate

sweat equity instead of cash. The term “soup kitchen” is a bit of a misnomer since the Young Leaders served a complete and nutritious meal instead of merely soup. The volunteers worked on the serving line and

REACHING OUT TO CONSUMERS

suggests the same oil or fat conversion process used to produce biodiesel could be applied to generating industrial chemicals and “renewable jet fuel.” “We want to diversify into the production of other advanced biofuels,” Kramer told FarmWeek.

United Airlines crew members look on as Continental Airlines Flight 1403 is filled with Solajet “green” jet fuel for its maiden biofuels trip last November. (United Airlines photo)

Kankakee FB Young Leaders help Salvation Army feed the hungry BY CHAD MILLER

herty pointed out. Aviation also offers new market potential for the biodiesel industry, which already has made major off-road inroads at Lambert Airport. Renewable Energy Group spokesman Alicia Kramer, whose company operates plants in Danville and Seneca,

served 206 lunches. The number has been larger lately since the Salvation Army is a cooling center and has drawn more people in during the recent hot weather. The Salvation Army in Kankakee serves free lunches six days a week as a part of its program of services. Last year, 62,000 lunches were served. After their volunteer duties were finished, the Young Leaders toured the Salvation Army facilities. Chad Miller is the manager of the Kankakee County Farm Bureau. His email address is kankfb@sbcglobal.net.

350 SPEND A DAY IN THE COUNTRY

A Day in the Country hosted by the Sangamon County Farm Bureau attracted an estimated 350 people interested in learning about farming and agriculture. Participants were encouraged to ask local farmers questions about farming practices. The goal was to educate the urban population about farming. The event was held on the Rochester farm of Larry and Diana Beaty. Heartland Beef Alliance provided hotdogs, and Prairie Farms Dairy provided ice cream sandwiches. (Photo courtesy of Sangamon County Farm Bureau)

IAITC Bike Ride to traverse Central Illinois Residents in three Central that date, the fee will increase to agriculture, landmarks, and his-

To give consumers a chance to ask questions of real farmers, the LaSalle County Farm Bureau hit the streets during Ottawa’s recent Riverfest Agriculture Day. The combine shown here with a banner hanging from its auger was one piece of equipment displayed at the entrance of the street in downtown Ottawa that the county Farm Bureau occupied during the event. The event offered urban residents a chance to meet farmers and learn what it takes to grow crops and raise livestock. (Photo by Jeff Hartman, LaSalle County Farm Bureau manager)

Illinois counties can expect to see cyclists Sept. 3-5 during the 17th Annual Illinois Agriculture in the Classroom (IAITC) Bike Ride. An early registration discount ends Aug. 27. This year’s theme of Ride with the Wind pays homage to the growing wind farms in McLean, Piatt, and DeWitt counties. Lodging and evening activities will be in LeRoy and Bloomington. “Each year, we like to highlight what’s unique to an area in

torical importance,” said Susan Moore, IAA Foundation director. Cyclists will make stops at several schools to inform students about agriculture and bicycle safety. “We spend a great deal of time planning the best possible routes for great riding and great views of the countryside,” said Charlie Grotevant, bike ride cochairman. Riders who register before Aug. 27 will receive a discounted registration fee of $70. After

$90. Additionally, individuals who raise funds for IAITC will receive benefits. Those who collect between $250 and $499 in donations receive free registration. Participants who collect between $500 and $999 earn free registration and meals; those who collecting $1,000 or more earn free registration, meals, and lodging. More details on registration and fund raising are online at {www.iaafoundation.org} or by calling Moore at 309-557-2230.


Page 13 Monday, August 13, 2012 FarmWeek

from the counties

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HAMPAIGN — A farm bill discussion will be at 7 p.m. Tuesday, Aug. 21, at the Farm Bureau auditorium. Doug Yoder, Illinois Farm Bureau senior director of affiliate and risk management, will be the speaker. Call the Farm Bureau office at 352-5235 for more information. • An ag drainage update meeting will be at 8 a.m. Wednesday, Aug. 22, at the Farm Bureau auditorium. Call the Farm Bureau office at 352-5235 for more information. • The Champaign County Farm Bureau 100th anniversary celebration continues with a tractor drive at 10 a.m. Saturday, Aug. 25, leaving from Tolono, and a family picnic from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. at Curtis Orchard, Champaign. Call the Farm Bureau office for more information. EWITT — The DeWitt County Soil and Water Conservation District and Farm Bureau conservation tour will be at 8 a.m. Wednesday. The bus will load at Pinky’s, Weldon Springs. Lunch at Pinky’s will follow the tour. • Farm Bureau will sponsor a landowner information meeting at 2 p.m. Thursday on the Enbridge Pipeline at the University of Illinois Extension office, Clinton. • The annual meeting will be at 7:30 a.m. Monday, Aug. 27, at the 4-H Fairgrounds, Clinton. Breakfast will be served. • The DeWitt County Farm Bureau Foundation golf outing fundraiser will be at 8 a.m. Friday, Aug. 31, at Woodlawn Country Club, Farmer City. Cost is $75 for golf and lunch. Call the Farm Bureau office at 217935-2126 for more information. ASPER — Call the Farm Bureau office at 618-783-2733 if you are interested in forming a landowners’ group to address mineral leasing issues in the county. ASALLE — The Prime Timers Committee will sponsor a defensive driving course from 8 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. Wednesday, Aug. 22, at the Farm Bureau office. Cost is $20 for members over the age of 55. Non-member cost is $25. Call the Farm Bureau office for more information. • The Marketing Committee Plot Day will be at 5:30 p.m. Tuesday, Aug. 28, at the corner of East 12th Road and 2960th Road, Ottawa. A pork chop meal will be served. Adam Day, North-

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ern Partners agronomist, and a Water Street Solutions representative will be the speakers. Seed corn company representatives will discuss their seed corn and soybean varieties. Door prizes will be given with an iPad as the grand prize. A ticket is required for the meal and each membership may receive two tickets, which are available at the Farm Bureau office. Call the Farm Bureau office at 815-433-0371 for more information. EE — The Young Leader Committee will sponsor a Harvest for All food drive through Aug. 31. Donations of non-perishable food items or cash donations may be taken to the Farm Bureau office. All items will be donated to Lee County food pantries. • The District 4 meeting will be at 6 p.m. Monday, Aug. 20, at the Mendota Civic Center. Dinner will be served. Kurt Bock, Country Financial chief executive officer, and Kevin Semlow, Illinois Farm Bureau director of state legislation, will be the speakers. Call the Farm Bureau office by Wednesday for reservations or more information. • Farm Bureau has tickets for the Clinton Lumber Kings and Quad Cities River Bandits at a discounted rate. Tickets for the Lumber Kings are $3 and $6 for the River Bandits. Tickets are available for all remaining home games. Call the Farm Bureau office at 815857-3531 or email leecfb@comcast.net for more information. ACON — Farm Bureau will sponsor a fire extinguisher recharge/purchase program from 9 a.m. to noon Friday at the Farm Bureau office. Bring in used fire extinguishers to be checked. The option to purchase several sizes of new extinguishers will be available. EORIA — A Stroke Detection Plus health screening will be Thursday at the Farm Bureau office. Call 877-732-8258 and provide your Farm Bureau membership card number for a discount on the screenings. • A grassroots picnic will be at 6 p.m. Tuesday, Aug. 21, at the Farm Bureau office. A pork loin meal will be served. Candidates on the November ballot have been invited to attend. Call the Farm Bureau office at 686-7070 by Wednesday for reservations or more information. • A member family picnic will be at 2 p.m. Sunday, Aug. 26, at Farm Bureau

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Park. A fried chicken dinner will be served at 4 p.m. Call the Farm Bureau office for reservations or more information. • Farm Bureau will sponsor a bus trip Wednesday, Aug. 29, and Thursday, Aug. 30, to the Farm Progress Show, Boone, Iowa. Tours will include Kinze, Monsanto, and the Maytag Dairy Farm. Call the Farm Bureau office for reservations or more information. T. CLAIR — The Young Farmers Committee will sponsor a shred day from 9 to 11 a.m. Saturday at the Farm Bureau office. Call the Farm Bureau office at 618-233-6800 for more information. TARK — Farm Bureau will sponsor a bus trip Wednesday, Sept. 12, to Circa 21 to see the Dixie Swim Club. Cost is $65, which includes transportation, show, and a meal during the show. Payment is due at the time of the reservation. Call the Farm Bureau office at 286-7481 by Friday, Aug. 24, for reservations or more information.

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• Farm Bureau will sponsor an overnight cruise Thursday, Oct. 18, from Peoria to Starved Rock on the Spirit of Peoria. Cost is $400 per person for double occupancy and $450 for single occupancy and will be due when making the reservation. Call the Farm Bureau office at 286-7481 by Friday, Aug. 24, for reservations or more information. TEPHENSON — The Classic Tractor Drive III will be Saturday, Aug. 25, in the Winslow/ Warren/Apple River/Nora area. Cost is $20, which includes breakfast, snack bag, ribeye sandwich lunch, and door prizes. Deadline to register is Friday. Registration is available online at {www.stephensoncfb.org}. Call the Farm Bureau office at 815-232-3186 for more information. • A Stroke Detection Plus screening will be Sept. 26-27 at the Farm Bureau office. A discount will be given to Farm Bureau members. Call 877-732-8258 for an appointment or more information.

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• A workshop on variable cash lease options will be at 1 p.m. Thursday, Aug. 23, at the Farm Bureau office. Jim Endress, retired Extension specialist, will be the speaker. Call the Farm Bureau office at 815-232-3186 by Wednesday, Aug. 22, for reservations or more information. ERMILION — Farm Bureau will sponsor the annual Farm-City Gathering at 4 p.m. Thursday, Aug. 23, at Laury Barn at Kennekuk County Park. There will be trolley tours of the park and local specialty crop vendors will open at 4:30 p.m. A meal and presentation of annual agriculture awards will be held. Tickets are $10 and may be purchased at the Farm Bureau office.

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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.


FarmWeek Page 14 Monday, August 13, 2012

profitability Cropland values remain strong

Patience advised in setting 2013 cash rents

BY DANIEL GRANT FarmWeek

Landowners and farmers should be patient in coming months when it comes to setting cash rents for next year. What they see now in terms of crop prices may not be the price later this year and in 2013. “Setting cash rents based on what (crop) prices look like now probably is not the best strategy,” said Gary Schnitkey, University of Illinois Extension farm management specialist. “Right now we have really high prices,” he continued. “But following the pattern of a typical short-crop year, we’d expect to see crop prices peak early and then fall.” Schnitkey believes some farmers already may be in a

bind this year because they signed leases for high cash rents on property that may yield little or nothing because of the drought. The average cash rental rate in Illinois from 2011 to 2012 increased $28 per acre. “That’s the biggest increase I’ve ever seen,” Schnitkey said. The situation could be even worse for those who hedged their crops prior to harvest and now won’t have the bushels to fulfill those contracts. “Those guys will be hurting,” Schnitkey said. “This year we’re looking at lower revenue. There will be some farms not in the best of shape.” At this point, the farm management specialist believes cash rental rates likely will remain flat for next year.

Schnitkey will discuss the situation, and how to set cash rents for next year during two land lease programs this month in Northern Illinois. The programs will be from

9 to 11 a.m. Aug. 30 at the Grundy County Extension office in Morris and from 6 to 8 p.m. that day at the Sycamore Historical Museum in Sycamore (DeKalb County).

For more information about the lease programs, call the U of I Extension office in Grundy County (815-9422725) or DeKalb County (815-758-8194). Overall, land values through the first half of this year remained strong, USDA reported this month. Cropland values increased by an average of $450 per acre (14.5 percent) to $3,550 nationwide. In Illinois, cropland values the past year increased 17.2 percent to an average of $6,800 per acre. The trend of higher farmland values hasn’t been the same everywhere, though. Cropland values through the first half of this year decreased 3.8 percent in the Southeast U.S. compared to the same time last year.

Propane inventories high going into winter BY RANDY MILLER

Midwest propane demand has been nearly nonexistent this summer because of the record high temperatures and drought conditions. SumRandy Miller

mer filling of home heat tanks has been light. As you might expect, we continue to see propane inventories climbing, typical for this time of year. However, earlier projections which called for suppliers to run out of propane and natural gas storage don’t look like they will materialize this year. Demand, mainly in the form of exports, has kept

M A R K E T FA C T S Feeder pig prices reported to USDA* Weight 10 lbs. 40 lbs.

Range Per Head $11.36-$46.78 $53.34

Weighted Ave. Price $37.59 $53.34

This Week Last Week 98,596 77,365 *Eastern Corn Belt prices picked up at seller’s farm

Receipts

Eastern Corn Belt direct hogs (plant delivered) Carcass Live

(Prices $ per hundredweight) This week Prev. week $83.98 $90.37 $62.15 $66.87

Change -6.39 -4.73

USDA five-state area slaughter cattle price Steers Heifers

(Thursday’s price) (Thursday’s price) Prev. week Change This week 119.00 118.06 0.94 119.00 117.86 1.14

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 136.89 136.50 0.39

Lamb prices Slaughter Prices - Negotiated, Live, wooled and shorn 100-145 lbs. for 96.05-140 $/cwt. (wtd. ave. 116.70).

Export inspections (Million bushels) Week ending Soybeans Wheat Corn 08-02-12 12.7 20.9 19.9 07-26-12 15.6 19.1 21.5 Last year 6.2 27.3 36.3 Season total 1295.1 167.9 1429.1 Previous season total 1455.1 212.1 1667.8 USDA projected total 1315 1025 1700 Crop marketing year began June 1 for wheat and Sept. 1 for corn and soybeans.

inventories from overflowing. What to expect going forward? Demand: Propane demand for the upcoming season might not be as low as expected. Even though forecasts call for a warm winter and grain drying gas demand to be light across the Midwest, propane exports from the Gulf and petrochemical demand will keep propane moving. The accompanying export chart shows the dramatic increase over the past two years. Only a few years ago, exports of propane from the U. S. were nearly non-existent. We expect to see higher export numbers in the future as companies gear up to handle the ever-increasing supply from shale production and additional facilities are completed. Weather: Of the few longrange forecasts available, most are predicting warm, dry conditions to continue into next spring. At least some kind of moisture this winter will be welcomed. Supply: Propane inventory levels in the United States are near 70 million barrels cur-

rently, nearly 25 percent more than the 5-year average and nearly 40 percent more than last year’s levels. In the spring we estimated it would take until October to reach the 70million-barrel mark. Obviously, the market is well supplied going into winter. Propane values are still led by crude oil prices, even though nearly 70 percent of propane now comes from natural gas. Both crude and natural gas prices have strengthened since early summer, with natural gas pricing coming off near-record lows with demand

greater than expected due to the hot summer. Natural gas demand for cooling purposes has continued to grow over the past several years. Propane appears well-supplied going into the heating season. In order to keep up with the latest market conditions, stay in touch with your local FS propane salesman who can offer you programs to manage your propane needs. Randy Miller is GROWMARK’s propane operations manager. His email address is rmiller@growmark.com.

CRP sign-up of HEL continues Continuous Conservation Reserve Program (CRP) sign-up for the highly erodible land (HEL) initiative will continue until 50,000 Illinois acres have been enrolled or Sept. 30, whichever happens first, said Scherrie Giamanco, Farm Service Agency (FSA) state executive director. Farmers should contact their county FSA office to determine if their land qualifies for the initiative and to receive location-specific details. Landowners enrolled in CRP receive annual

rental payments and cost-share assistance to establish long-term, resource conserving covers on eligible farmland. Incentive payments are not authorized under this initiative. New land contracts approved during this continuous sign-up initiative will become effective the first day of the month following the month of approval and are valid for 10 years. CRP contracts set to expire Sept. 30 may be offered for consideration. Approved contracts will become effective Oct. 1 and also are valid for 10 years.


Page 15 Monday, August 13, 2012 FarmWeek

PROFITABILITY Corn Strategy

CASH STRATEGIST

Cents per bu.

ü2011 crop: Sell remaining old-crop bushels. ü2012 crop: Prices need to hold the $8.20 level in the December contract to keep the door open for a test of $8.50. Do comprehensive yield checks to access your production potential. Get to 70 percent priced on a conservative assessment of the bushels you’ll have to sell, but don’t exceed your insurance guarantee. ü2013 crop: Leave orders to get sales up to 20 percent if December 2013 futures trade above $6.50. vFundamentals: USDA Friday slashed its forecast for corn production this year by 16.9 percent due to the extreme drought throughout the Midwest. Farmers are now expected to produce just 10.779 billion bushels of corn this year, down from its previous estimate of 12.97 billion bushels. Yield was pegged at 123.4 bushels per acre, down 24 bushels from last year.

Soybean Strategy

Wheat exports next wildcard? Wheat exports recently dipped slightly below USDA projections but are now back on track. The Black Sea region has been contending with drought conditions that are diminishing its wheat crop potential. There was some speculation Russia may impose restrictions on its wheat export business, but officials recently indicated they do not have any such plans at this time. The United States is

hopeful some demand will be pushed toward it, but Asian importers have been snapping up cargos of wheat from India. Soybean export shipments have been running above USDA projections. Though the export business has been limited this summer, China for the past few weeks again has made some purchases. Corn exports started to lag in late spring and have been unable to recover, as U.S. corn prices skyrocketed on production concerns. This has been reflected in disappointing weekly export sales throughout the summer months. Last week, Mexico did make a large purchase of U.S. corn.

AgriVisor endorses crop insurance by

AgriVisor LLC 1701 N. Towanda Avenue PO Box 2500 Bloomington IL 61702-2901 309-557-3147 AgriVisor LLC is not liable for any damages which anyone may sustain by reason of inaccuracy or inadequacy of information provided herein, any error of judgment involving any projections, recommendations, or advice or any other act of omission.

Policies issued by COUNTRY Mutual Insurance Company®, Bloomington, Illinois AgriVisor Hotline Number

309-557-2274

ü2011 crop: Wrap up oldcrop sales. ü2012 crop: Soybean yields will remain a more difficult call than for corn. But if you are comfortable with potential, get sales to 70 percent of a conservative output. ü2013 crop: Another 10 percent sale was added when November 2013 soybean futures hit $12.90. vFundamentals: The August USDA report took on a friendly tone as U.S. soybean production was pegged at 2.692 billion bushels, down from the July forecast of 3.05 billion bushels. Yield was dropped to 36.1 bushels per acre, down from 40.5 bushels per acre. The smaller soybean production estimates led to tight ending stocks numbers in the U.S. for 2012/2013. They are now pegged at 115 million bushels. The shortterm weather pattern appears to be wetter and could stabilize the crop’s

condition, but any significant improvements are unlikely.

Wheat Strategy

ü2012 crop: Wheat has shifted into a choppy sideways trend after establishing a high back in late July. If you need to make catch-up sales, use rallies above $8.90 on Chicago September futures. ü2013 crop: Make catchup sales with Chicago July futures trading above $8.60. vFundamentals: Downside risk for wheat

prices should be limited by continued dry weather in the Black Sea region, Australia, and Argentina, as well as persistent strength in corn prices. Spring wheat potential remains strong, as the crop is holding steady at 63 percent good to excellent. Amid corn’s problems, wheat will be forced to shoulder more of the burden of feed needs as well. The USDA August report pegged U.S. wheat stocks for 2012/2013 at 698 million bushels, above trade expectations of 681 million.


FarmWeek Page 16 Monday, August 13, 2012

perspectives

Measuring global food security in face of disaster The United States is suffering through one of the worst droughts in its history. In July, USDA announced that more than 1,000 counties across 26 states qualified as natural disaster areas. By some estimates, the bone-dry weather could cost farmers and ranchers as much as $50 billion. On my Central Illinois farm, the effects of the dry weather and high temperature are stunning. What might have been one of my best crops ever has turned into one of the worst. It is a serious JOHN problem economic REIFSTECK for farmers, but it’s not a life-threatening event. We’re not about to witness a famine in the heartland. Crops may fail, but Americans won’t starve to death. That’s because the United States is the most food-secure country in the world. So says a new report from the Economist Intelligence Unit, which has just released the first edition of the Global Food Security Index, a comprehensive survey on the availability, cost, and quality of food. If food security were an Olympic event, the United States would take the gold medal. The silver would go to Denmark; the bronze to France. In reality, there are plenty of winners, including Australia, Canada, Europe, Israel, Japan, and South Korea. Even New Zealand, off by itself on the edge of the world, is the 11th most food-secure country. There are no losers or also-rans in

this distinguished club. This is positively good news — a tribute to the success of modern agricultural methods, which have all but abolished food shortages in prosperous nations. We’re growing more and safer food than ever before, using 21st century technologies that were not available just a generation ago. We overcome the food supply challenges that can be a result of droughts through sheer abundance and availability. If one part of the U.S. endures poor weather for agriculture, another section can begin to make up the difference through its own productivity. Interna-

tional trade networks also soften the blow: Buying and selling food across borders means that no single region is abandoned to its own fate. Earlier this year, Michigan’s cherry farmers lost most of their crop, due to an untimely freeze. The state of Washington is stepping up. So are imports from Poland. A year from now, Michigan’s growers will be back on their feet. Most consumers probably won’t even notice that they had stumbled. When a supply of food is secure, people don’t have to worry about the source of their next meal. One way or another, it will be there — possibly with cherries on top. Yet food security is hardly universal. Around the world, according to the Global Food Security Index, billions of people lack it. In Sub-Saharan Africa, only Botswana and South Africa enjoy reasonable levels of food security. Their neighbors often live on the brink of catastrophe — and there, a drought like the one now hitting the American

Midwest is measured not in dollars lost but in lives destroyed. Signs suggest that global food security may improve in the near term. USDA recently issued its International Food Security Assessment, which predicts that rates of food insecurity will creep downward between 2011 and 2012. In the decade ahead, the share of the population without adequate food security will drop from 24 percent to 21 percent. If there’s a drawback to food security, it’s in the encouragement of an unwelcome complacency: the problem of taking food security for granted. We may live in the most foodsecure nation in the world, but our country is full of hyperventilating activists who step in front of television cameras and try to terrify us about the perils of our safe, affordable, and abundant food. We’ve never had it better, but they try to convince us that things couldn’t be worse. We see it all the time, from celebrity chefs who appear unfamiliar with basic nutritional facts to antibiotech activists who want to frighten voters into approving a costly labeling rule that will drive up grocery-store bills without achieving anything good in return. Let’s keep things in perspective and recognize good news when we see it. The United States is food secure — and it will stay that way for a long time, if only we remember how we got here.

John Reifsteck raises corn and soybeans in Champaign County and volunteers as a board member for Truth About Trade & Technology. The group’s website is {www.truthabouttrade.org}.

Insects’ multi-faceted vision helps them see the light Insects, like almost all other animals, can see. The sense of sight, called photoreception, depends on light energy being reflected off objects. Eyes capture the reflected light, and vision results. TOM TURPIN Animals use vision for many purposes, including recognizing form, detecting movement, and discerning color. Insects also use photoreception to determine day length, sometimes called the photoperiod. These creatures can even monitor the position of the sun — high in the sky vs. near the horizon — by the polarization of light. Insect vision plays an important role in attracting mates, finding food plants, and avoiding enemies. Insects also use their vision to navigate around stuff as they crawl or fly. In addition, photoreception

is the reason insects can predict the approach of winter. The prediction is based on the declining minutes of sunlight. This information is important for a cold-blooded animal to anticipate — and survive — the cold of winter. The ability to detect the polarization of light from the sky allows insects to determine direction. This is important for insects, such as honey bees, that need to find their way back to a nest site. Sort of the insect equivalent to a GPS (global positioning system) for humans. While insects and humans have a lot of similarities when it comes to sight, major differences exist as well. The most obvious is in the structure of the eye. Human eyes and the eyes of most other non-insect animals are single-lens structures. The insect eye is made up of multiple lenses and is called a compound eye. The number of lenses in the compound eyes of insects

varies according to species and ranges from as few as 10 up to 28,000 or more per eye. The presence of multiple lenses means that the vision of insects is different than the vision of animals that possess eyes with a single lens. Exactly what an insect sees through all of those lenses is a matter of speculation. One early theory, proposed by Johannes Müller in 1826, is accepted still today. According to this theory, an individual lens records a very small portion of the field that each eye views. Together, the eye sees a mosaic of the total view. One would guess that such an image would be very similar to viewing the world through a woven-wire fence, a food strainer, or a bundle of soda straws. Another major difference in photoreception of insects compared to other animals is in color vision. In general, humans can see wavelengths of the electromagnetic spectrum from 400 to 800

nanometers — from violet to red. Insects, on the other hand, perceive wavelengths from 650 to 300 nanometers, including the ultraviolet range of the spectrum. What this means is that most insects don’t see well in the yellow, orange, and red portion of the spectrum but see ultraviolet very well. Humans are just the opposite. We can see the yellow, orange, and red but don’t do so well with the ultraviolet. The way that insects perceive color has led to the use of yellow light bulbs to discourage insect attraction to lights. A red bulb would be less attractive to insects but provides a minimum amount of light for humans. However, some insect behavioral researchers do use red lights to observe insects that are active at night, because the light is not seen at all by the insect. On the other hand, ultraviolet lights are used to attract night-flying insects to traps. Entomologists use such traps

to assess numbers of insects that are pests. Black lights also are used to lure insects to electric grids where they are killed. Such “bug zappers” are used to eliminate undesirable insects. Unfortunately, most of the insects killed in such devices are not problem insects. So why are night-flying insects attracted to lights? This is an age-old question, and one for which science does not have an answer. One theory is based on the fact that insects use ultraviolet light to navigate during dark hours. A point source of light, such as a flame or a light bulb, interferes with the insect’s ability to navigate. As a result, the insect loses direction and ends up flying around in the vicinity of the light. Tom Turpin is an entomology professor at Purdue University, West Lafayette, Ind. His email address is turpin@purdue.edu.


FarmWeek August 13 2012