Issuu on Google+

A trAnsmissiOn cooperative is exploring a way to help extend high-speed Internet into rural Central Illinois. .....................2

A stewArDship program is helping far mers better manage their resources in order to continue the use of nutrients. .......................3

imprOVeD LOCKs and dams on the Illlinois and Mississippi Rivers could help promote trade with China. ......................................4

Monday, February 6, 2012

Three sections Volume 40, No. 6

Quinn focuses more on spending, less on funding Farmers get a shout out BY KAY SHIPMAN FarmWeek

Gov. Pat Quinn promoted agriculture as one of the state’s economic engines during his State of the State speech last week as he emphasized a need to grow Illinois’ economy. “Cuts alone will not get us to a better budget. We must build and grow our Illinois economy like never before to keep Illinois moving forward,” the governor told the assembled constitutional officers, lawmakers, and guests.

The governor acknowledged Illinois faces “very difficult decisions to restore financial stability,” but briefly mentioned a need for “Medicaid reform and public pension reform in the coming year.” Quinn added he would say more about such “serious matters” in his Feb. 22 budget address. Instead of focusing on the dark reality of state finances, the govGov. Pat Quinn ernor highlighted several economic sectors that are adding jobs and his goals to capitalize on them. Exports, including agricultural ones,

ranked high on Quinn’s list (see export advisory council story, page 4). He pointed out a fourth of the state’s soybean crop is sold to China and that Illinois farmers are feeding middle-class Chinese. “Thank you agriculture, and thank you Illinois farmers!” Quinn said to applause. Part of the governor’s plan to improve the state’s economy is a new Illinois Jobs Agenda for 2012. That initiative includes three “targeted” tax cuts: elimination of the natural gas utility tax, creation of a new child tax credit, and expansion of tax credit for businesses that hire veterans who’ve served in Iraq and Afghanistan. The administration’s estimated price

tags for those tax changes are roughly $164 million, $100 million, and $5 million to $10 million, respectively. However, the governor did not offer how the state could afford to lose that tax revenue. He also proposed several ideas that would appeal to many residents, including $6 million for statewide ultra-high speed Internet, more funding for early childhood education, and technology upgrades for classrooms. Again, Quinn failed to suggest how the cash-strapped state would pay for his proposals. Instead he told lawmakers: “I look forward to working with you to find the proper funding to meet these urgent needs .... We have real challenges to tackle.”

DOL pledge to re-evaluate rules doesn’t calm concerns BY MARTIN ROSS FarmWeek

Periodicals: Time Valued

Amid mounting pressure from ag groups and lawmakers, the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) has indicated it will revise proposed rules that would weaken an existing “parental exemption” from federal ag child labor guidelines. That may be a step in the right direction, but it doesn’t remove farm families — or future farmers — from the brink of a slippery slope, Farm Bureau leaders responded. DOL’s proposed rules,

which would place new restrictions on allowable ag activities for youth under 16 years of age, were the focus of a U.S. House Small Business Committee hearing last week. Testifying on behalf of the American Farm Bureau Federation, Missouri hog farmer Chris Chinn told a committee panel DOL provisions could significantly limit the chores her 14- and 10-year-old children could do not only on their grandparents’ operation but even the parents’. DOL Wednesday announced plans to “re-propose” a portion of its regulation interpreting the parental exemption. The department conducted an extended public comment period on original proposals last fall, but it now will seek added input on how it can comply with statutory child safety requirements while “respecting rural traditions.” The exemption, created in 1966, allows children of any age who are employed by their parent or a person standing in the place of a parent to perform any job on a farm owned or operated by their parent or that parental surrogate. DOL plans to release the re-proposed portion of the rule for public comment by early summer and currently is

expected to issue a final rule in August. According to Illinois Farm Bureau National Legislative Director Adam Nielsen, that pre-election timetable raises some concerns about Congress being able to respond to remaining concerns about final rules. Chinn argued DOL’s “merely ‘tweaking’ the rule will not fix something that we believe is fundamentally flawed.” IFB President Philip Nelson reiterated IFB’s opposition to the proposal, urging DOL to “take the next step and withdraw the entire final rule.” “Based on the very legitimate concerns of farm families in Illinois and across the country, it’s clear that Department of Labor has taken a step back to re-evaluate the family farm exemption in its proposed child farm labor rule,” Nelson said. “Illinois Farm Bureau welcomes the announcement, and our members will be motivated to comment on the revised family farm exemption in the coming months. “By the same token, this far-reaching rule would still severely limit supervised educational work opportunities for 14- and 15-year-olds and strict-

FarmWeek on the web: FarmWeekNow.com

ly prohibit teens from activities like herding cattle on horseback and using certain equipment like a battery-powered screw driver. “Unfortunately, it doesn’t clearly define ‘family farm,’ which could negatively affect the ability of children to work on extended family members’ farms, and also keeps the door wide open for future arbitrary

government prohibitions on working in either hot or cold weather. “Changes to the family farm exemption aside, this proposed rule would severely limit the ability of farmers and educators to teach safety — on the farm — to the next generation of farmers,” Nelson concluded. Under the proposed rule, See DOL, page 4

BUILDING CONSENSUS

From left, Curtis Walker of Toledo; Brock Shull of Effingham; Jody Hughes of Harrisburg, who also is manager of the Gallatin and Saline county Farm Bureaus; and Ryan Brown of Jewett worked together on a consensus-building project last week during this year’s ALOT program. They were among the 16 participants in the 33rd class, which was conducted at the Rend Lake Resort in Whittington. (Photo by Cyndi Cook)

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


FarmWeek Page 2 Monday, February 6, 2012

Quick Takes FARM KID SAFETY PROGRAM MARKS 25 YEARS — An organization born from a tragedy is marking 25 years of progress in farm children safety. Marilyn Adams founded Farm Safety 4 Just Kids (FS4JK) after her 11-year-old son died in a gravity flow grain wagon accident. Since 1987, FS4JK has promoted farm safety through programs and education to more than 6 million people via 120-some local chapters across Canada and the U.S., including 16 in Illinois. “I didn’t really know what to expect when I started FS4JK,” said Adams. “The organization has grown and evolved so much in the past 25 years. It’s exciting to think about what lies ahead for the farm safety movement.” From 1998 to 2009, the rate of all farm youth injuries has decreased by 59 percent, according to the National Institute of Occupational Safety and Health. FS4JK is funded by corporate sponsors and individual donors. Current projects include revamping an ATV safety packet. STATE JOINS EARTHQUAKE DRILL — An earthquake drill on Tuesday couldn’t be more timely for Illinois. A minor earthquake shook Northern Illinois on Jan. 30. The 2.4 magnitude quake happened just before 10 p.m. and was centered just east of McHenry. Tuesday’s drill, dubbed the Great ShakeOut, will start at 10:15 a.m. across the central U.S. Illinois and the other eight states involved would feel the effects of a New Madrid earthquake. More than 400,000 Illinois residents have registered to participate in the drill by practicing earthquake-related safety procedures. GUARD GROUP HONORS IFB — Illinois Farm Bureau was honored recently by the Illinois Committee for Employer Support of the Guard and Reserve (ESGR) for making it easy for employees to participate in the National Guard and Reserve. IFB President Philip Nelson received the “Above and Beyond Award” on behalf of the organization at ESGR’s annual banquet in Springfield. In all, 23 companies were honored with that award, while three received the prestigious Pro Patria award. Only three employers in Illinois receive the Pro Patria award each year — one large company, one small, and one from the public sector. This year’s winners were Southwest Airlines, Eaton Corp’s Lincoln plant, and the U.S. Postal Inspection Service, respectively. IFB was nominated for the award by Heather Combs, development specialist with the IAA Foundation. She is the wife of Illinois Army National Guard Staff Sgt. Kyle Combs, who has been deployed four times, and who nominated his employer, Eaton Corp. of Lincoln.

(ISSN0197-6680) Vol. 40 No. 6

February 6, 2012

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

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RURAL ISSUES

Co-op explores rural Internet expansion BY KAY SHIPMAN FarmWeek

Internet infrastructure remains one of the largest hurdles to expanding highspeed Internet service into rural Illinois. A Central Illinois transmission cooperative is considering installing fiber-optic cable to power substations and offering new opportunities to Internet providers, said the co-op’s chief executive officer. Prairie Power Inc., based in Jacksonville, is a transmission cooperative owned by 10 rural electric cooperatives. By forming a consortium, Prairie Power would upgrade its communication infrastructure to meet smart-grid technology goals, Jay Bartlett, Prairie Power president and chief executive officer, told FarmWeek. The upgrade would involve either fiber-optic cable, which is more expensive but would provide greater opportunity for economic development, or microwave radio, which would fulfill the co-op’s smart-grid goals but not offer additional

opportunities, Bartlett explained. “Our goal is to drive fiber (cable) to the substations that are distributed across the countrywide. The most important point is that fiber optic would be located not too far from anywhere in the service area,” Bartlett said. Prairie Power and its 10 members serve an area of about 17,500 square miles. If fiber-optic cable is disbursed to the substations, the individual cooperatives or other service providers could determine whether to build the so-called last-mile infrastructure and offer Internet services to customers, according to Bartlett. “Prairie Power’s objectives are to be a facilitator for others, to support our member distribution co-ops and smartgrid technology, and to lower electric rates,” Bartlett said. Co-ops have unique characteristics that make them well suited to provide rural Internet service, Bartlett said. He noted cooperatives:

• Already have right-of-way access and would not have additional expenses to acquire it for infrastructure. • Have a strong relationship with rural Illinois residents and businesses. • Understand the needs of rural residents and businesses. Bartlett has discussed the idea for a consortium to build and operate the infrastructure with government leaders. Last fall he testified before U.S. Rep. Tim Johnson (RUrbana) and the Subcommittee on Rural Development, Research, Biotechnology, and Foreign Agriculture. Bartlett also raised the idea with the Illinois Broadband Deployment Council. “We’re welcoming ways to work with state and federal officials to drive fiber (cable) even deeper into the countryside and to make this project even more successful,” Bartlett said. For more information about the consortium and project, go online to {www.ppi.coop} or call Prairie Power at 217-245-6161.

Warmer-than-normal temps persist in Midwest BY DANIEL GRANT FarmWeek

What a difference a year makes when it comes to winter weather in the Midwest. Last year a Groundhog Day blizzard pounded the mid-section of the country and much of Illinois was blanketed with 10 to 18-plus inches of snow. Last week, temperatures on Groundhog day pushed 60 degrees and there was not a flake of snow visible in the majority of the state. “We have seen very little of cold temperatures and snow this winter in Illinois,” said Jim Angel, state climatologist with the Illinois State Water Survey. Snowfall totals in January ranged from 0 to 2 inches in Southern Illinois, 2 to 7.5 inches in Central Illinois, and 7.5 to 15 inches in Northern Illinois. But most of the snow melted quickly as temperatures remained above average for the month. The statewide average temperature in January was 31.4 degrees, 6.6 degrees above normal. And the average temperature for December and January combined was 33.4 degrees, which was the sixth warmest on record in Illinois for those two months, Angel reported. And the run of mild temperatures for this time of year could continue, according to Mike Tannura, meteorologist with T-storm Weather. “Most likely we’ll continue to average warmer-than-nor-

mal temperatures in February and March,” Tannura told FarmWeek last week at an AgriVisor risk management meeting in Springfield. Oddly enough, the lack of snowfall could help maintain warmer temperatures as the bare ground is able to absorb more sunlight. Mike Tannura Last year, more than half the continental U.S. was covered with snow the first week of February, but less than one-fifth of the country had a snowpack as of last week. “Unless we move into a snowier pattern quickly, it will make it harder for February and March to average cooler than normal (in the Midwest),” Tannura said. Topsoil moisture last week in Illinois was in decent shape despite the lack of snow. It was rated 77 percent adequate, 14 percent surplus, and 9 percent short. Elsewhere, conditions are much drier this winter. “The northwest Corn Belt is much drier than normal,” Tannura said. “It is a concern because you don’t want to go into the planting season unusually dry. ���But planting is still about 10 weeks away, so if we can get one or two big (precipita-

tion) events, that problem will alleviate itself.” A winter storm was developing in the West on Friday. Weather challenges also continue to hang over large portions of South America. “It looks like there is a fairly substantial heat wave coming in (last) weekend that will encompass more of Brazil and Paraguay,” Tannura said. “They’re still in a key part of the growing season there, equivalent to our August. You’d have to say there will be at least some crop damage.”

DATEBOOK Feb. 6 On-the-Road seminar, 8 a.m. Christian County Farm Bureau, Taylorville, 217-824-2940. Feb. 7 On-the-Road seminar, 7:30 a.m. Shelby County 4-H Center, Shelbyville, 217-774-2151. On-the-Road seminar, 1 p.m. Macon County Farm Bureau, Decatur. Feb. 7-8 University of Illinois crop management conference, I-Hotel and Conference Center, Champaign.


Page 3 Monday, February 6, 2012 FarmWeek

environment

KIC seeks best nutrient management practices BY KAY SHIPMAN FarmWeek

Agronomist Dan Schaefer envisions one day offering farmers a watershed-level formula for optimum nutrient rates based on Illinois field data. Schaefer, Dan Schaefer the nutrient stewardship director of the Illinois Council for Best Management Practices, is spearheading the Keep it for the Crop (KIC) by 2025 program. Recently, he reported on the state initiative focused on adoption and implementation of best management practices. “We’re talking nutrient management for high-yielding corn and beans,” Schaefer told members of the Illinois Agricultural Legislative Roundtable. Much planning has been done since KIC was unveiled at the Farm Progress Show last fall and Schaefer started his job in early December.

The initiative is focused on six priority watersheds: Lakes Bloomington, Decatur, Vermilion, and Mauvaissee Terra, and the Illinois Basin of the Vermilion River and the Salt Fork

Vermilion River. With the cooperation of watershed farmers and their fertilizer dealers, Schaefer said he is planning in-field nitrogen rate trials with five

different nitrogen rates each replicated three times. It is the same research protocol used by University of Illinois professor Emerson Nafziger. Schaefer’s goal is to collect trial data over time and use it to develop a watershed-level nitrogen-rate calculator for optimum rates. Another need is information about what management practices and nutrient rates currently are being used in the watersheds. “We’re talking about collecting information on what farmers and dealers already

Lake Vermilion watershed meeting to focus on nutrients Practices and programs to enhance nutrient management in the Lake Vermilion watershed will be discussed at a free workshop Feb. 21. The meeting will start at 8 a.m. in the Rossville Fire Department building, Rossville. The meal reservation deadline is Feb. 17. Topics to be covered will include the Keep it for the Crop (KIC) by 2025 campaign, adjusting equipment for spring fertilizer applications, effective cover crops and practices, and pertinent conservation programs.

An area farmer will share his experiences with cover crops. “It’s good to hear from another operator who’s done it and how it works,” said Cindy Johnston, soil conservation technician with the Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS). Johnston noted the workshop is not limited to farmers or landowners in the watershed or those who have previously participated in conservation programs. For more information or a reservation, call the NRCS office at 217-442-8511, extension 3.

are doing as a (nitrogenapplication) system. It’s information we need to collect,” Schaefer explained. Schaefer discussed the practice of spreading out nitrogen applications over the fall and growing season. A general rule of thumb is to apply half of the nitrogen in the fall, a fourth in the spring, and the remainder early in the growing season. Nutrient management is proving to be a successful system that applies the right source and rate at the right time and place, according to Schaefer. He noted Howard Brown, GROWMARK manager of agronomy ser vice, has achieved 17bushel-per-acre yield increases through nitrogen management at more than 150 sites. Schaefer advised farmers and others interested in KIC to periodically visit {www.kic 2025.org} because new information and events are being posted.

Driftwatch makes strides denoting pesticide-sensitive crops Driftwatch, a state website that identifies farms with pesticide-sensitive crops, made progress in its first year, according to Warren Goetsch, bureau chief of environmental programs with the Illinois Department of Agriculture. Driftwatch is a voluntary

Driftwatch by the numbers The Illinois Department of Agriculture reported the following pesticide-sensitive operations registered on the Driftwatch website last year: 3,077 acres of organic crops, 16 growers; 2,297 acres of certified organic crops, 14 growers; 495 acres of vegetables, 18 growers; 483 acres of grapes, 58 growers; 303 organic livestock acres, 3 farmers; 40 acres of floriculture, 1 grower/greenhouse operator; 13 fruit acres, 3 farmers; and 1,212 bee hives, 84 beekeepers.

program that allows farmers and beekeepers to register and map pesticide-sensitive locations online and provide contact information. The site is geared to commercial operations, not small gardens. The website is {http://illinois.agriculture.purdue.edu/}. Purdue University hosts the website for Illinois. In addition to specialty crops and beehives, Driftwatch information may identify the locations of organic crops and livestock, fish farms, greenhouses, Christmas tree farms, and nursery crops. A variety of crops was registered last year, Goetsch reported. “This (website) at least is giving specialty growers and (pesticide) sensitive growers an opportunity to be proactive and do something. They can take a positive step,” Goetsch said. “Driftwatch is a positive approach for both those who are involved in spraying fields and those growing sensitive crops,” added Cynthia Haskins, Illinois Farm Bureau manager of business development and compliance. “What better way to let one know what the other is doing. It makes

Warren Goetsch, left, head of the Illinois Department of Agriculture’s environmental programs, explains the Driftwatch program to Randy Zorn, a custom applicator, during a 2011 trade show. A variety of farms registered during the website’s first year of existence. (FarmWeek file photo)

for good neighbors.” There is no cost to register sensitive crops or farm operations. Each registrant is given a password and only those with the password will be able to change online information. Neighboring farmers,

pesticide applicators, and others may view the Driftwatch map to see where pesticide-sensitive farms are located. Pesticide applicators also may register and sign up for electronic notification when new sensitive locations are registered

within their ser vice areas. Although Goetsch said he was pleased with the number of sites registered, he hopes website use continues to grow. “We would like to see more participation in future years,” he said. — Kay Shipman


FarmWeek Page 4 Monday, February 6, 2012

government

Lock improvements deemed crucial to tapping Asian trade BY MARTIN ROSS FarmWeek

Representatives of a growing St. Louis port facility recently showed Chinese officials there’s more than one way — and potentially a better way — to trade with the U.S. In January, China Vice Minister of Maritime Affairs XU Zuyuan toured America’s Central Port, a 1,200-acre multiuse facility north of downtown St. Louis on the Illinois side of the Mississippi River. Port Executive Director Dennis Wilmsmeyer has high hopes for his growing facility in promoting Asian export movement via the Gulf and an expanded Panama Canal. But upgrades on the rest of the Upper Miss system will be important in selling Asia on the benefits of inland importexport trade, he acknowledged. The Chinese mission also toured the Melvin Price Locks at East Alton, a showplace for the commercial efficiency of modern 1,200-foot locks. Outdated 600-foot locks on much of the Upper Miss

require barge tows to break apart for passage, delaying deliveries and raising freight costs. Shippers have waited more than four years for federal funding of new locks at two Illinois and five Upper Miss locations. Wilmsmeyer believes last month’s tour was “a great eyeopening experience” for the Chinese delegation, highlighting key shipping capabilities “right here in the center of the country.” During recent travels in China, he found Chinese officials “very familiar” with West Coast ports, “vaguely familiar” with Chicago as “a big trading area,” and hard-put to even locate St. Louis in the shipping scheme of things. “During their visit, we told them, ‘Let’s use New Orleans; let’s use the Panama Canal,” Wilmsmeyer told FarmWeek. “We said, ‘Let’s get goods right to the center of the country (China), so you don’t have costly rail or truck delays in getting them spread throughout the rest of the country.’”

National Waterways Council Inc. (WCI) Vice President Paul Rohde cites heightened foreign attention to U.S. waterways with the “new” Panama

Canal’s potential as a conduit for bulk or containerized ag shipments. At the same time, Washington’s focus on infrastructure

During a recent Chinese tour of America’s Central Port at St. Louis, U.S. Rep. Jerry Costello, a Belleville Democrat, presented a Jefferson-era desk compass to China Vice Minister of Maritime Affairs Xu Zuyuan. In addition to Costello and port representatives, Deputy Transportation Secretary John Porcari and U.S. Maritime Administrator David Matsuda met with the Chinese delegation. The port is gearing up for work on its new South Harbor project. The U.S. Department of Transportation recently awarded the project $8.5 million dollars in addition to a previous $6 million grant. (Photo courtesy of America’s Central Port)

improvement as a key means to economic stimulus has been “on the media’s minds,” he said. With anticipated House highway measures at least opening the door to “maritime” funding, Rhode hopes WCI can push an industry “capitol development” plan that would leverage federal funds through increased barge fuel taxes, rather than a new administration-proposed “perbarge, per-lock” fee that would merely offset lock funds with higher shipping costs. In any case, he sees the future success of America’s Central Port and, indeed, future Gulf exports, riding largely on modernization of the Upper Miss. “It’s pie in the sky unless you’re willing to back it up with the funding to keep the (river) channel open, to ensure that Lock 27 (the Chain of Rocks lock near St. Louis) and Mel Price are going to be operational and functioning to the best of their capabilities,” Rhode held.

Development ‘at stake’ with levee issues Quinn names Guebert cation standards and provide greater leeway for Lock funding is only part of the equation in improving inland shipping capabilities. Dennis Wilmsmeyer, executive director of America’s Central Port, notes plans to move forward with his port’s new South Harbor project, a development expected to catapult his facility in terms of export-shipping capabilities. He also is working with U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to assure compliance with area levee requirements. But he shares concerns with area levee officials and communities about the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s (FEMA) role in area levee certification and influence on insurance requirements and thus future development in the floodplain. “FEMA’s been a challenge throughout the country, and locally, it’s no different,” Wilmsmeyer told FarmWeek. New Farm Bureau policy seeks to designate the Corps as lead agency in setting levee certifi-

levee upgrades needed to head off decertification. Meanwhile, Wilmsmeyer reported four levee districts in the St. Louis region are nearly ready to begin key levee upgrades, essentially after “taxing ourselves.” “The responsibility is falling back on the shoulders of the local municipalities, those local levee districts, to be able to go in and upgrade these levees to a new standard,” he warned. “In many cases, FEMA is not willing to wait (for upgrades) before flood insurance requirements are imposed. “There are tens of thousands of residents and many businesses that have invested not just millions but billions of dollars, even as recently as this last year, in terms of upgrades of their facilities and new investment. That is all at stake — there is no doubt about it.” — Martin Ross

33 Illinois counties eligible for air quality initiative Farmers in 33 Illinois counties are eligible for a new air quality initiative through the Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS). “The NRCS has developed and funded an initiative that can help farmers reduce contributions to particulate matter and the formation of ozone, which will serve to improve air quality throughout the region,” said Ivan Dozier, assistant state conservationist for Illinois NRCS. The Illinois counties were designated as needing to address air quality issues. Farmers and landowners in those counties are eligible for special technical and financial assistance. Potential solutions

include more than 40 conservation practices and the Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP). Top priority will be given to the following counties: Cook, DuPage, Grundy, Jersey, Kane, Kendall, Lake, Madison, McHenry, Monroe, Randolph, St. Clair, and Will. Secondary priority counties, should funding be available, are Boone, Bond, Calhoun, Clinton, DeKalb, Greene, Jackson, Henry, LaSalle, Livingston, Macon, Macoupin, Mercer, Moultrie, Montgomery, Perry, Piatt, Rock Island, Washington, and Whiteside. A number of regular and popular conservation practices used in Illinois may directly or

indirectly benefit air quality, according to Dozier. Eligible participants include ag or forest landowners or those involved in livestock, agricultural or forest production on eligible land that has an air-quality-related concern. For a list of eligible practices or to learn about Illinois air quality concerns, go online to {www.nrcs.usda.gov/Internet/FSE_DOCUMENTS/stel prdb1045920.pdf}. Applications for the EQIP air quality initiative will be accepted on a continuous basis throughout the fiscal year; however, March 30 will be a cut-off date for evaluating, ranking, and approving funding.

to new export council

Illinois Farm Bureau Vice President Richard Guebert Jr. of Ellis Grove has been appointed to a new state export advisory council by Gov. Pat Quinn. The governor announced the council’s formation during his State of the State address last week. “Expanding trade opportunities in growth markets like China, Australia, Brazil, and India puts Illinois products in the international marketplace and creates jobs here at home,” the governor said. Richard The council, chaired by Navistar ChairGuebert Jr. man Daniel Ustian, is to make recommendations on state policies and programs to make Illinois more competitive in the international marketplace. The council also is to advise the governor on federal trade policy questions and work with the state Departments of Commerce and Economic Opportunity and Agriculture. Other council members with ties to agriculture are Jack Fortnum, president of North American division of Corn Products International Inc., and Doug Oberhelman, chairman of Caterpillar.

DOL Continued from page 1 “basically, 14- to 15-year-olds won’t be on a tractor,” Illinois FFA Center Executive Secretary Jim Craft warned members of the Illinois Agricultural Legislative Roundtable meeting recently in Bloomington. “About 25 percent of our students particularly in Illinois come from a working farm,” he related. Another 25 percent, roughly, live in the country.

There are a lot of kids who want to learn this so they can advance into vet school or become a farm manager or whatever else, and gain that real-life experience. That’s not going to happen here.” Interpreted broadly, new rules could even prevent children from being able to raise livestock purely for exhibition purposes on other than a parent’s farm, he said.


Page 5 Monday, February 6, 2012 FarmWeek

Markets

IPPA builds demand for pork one burger at a time

last week at the Illinois Pork Expo in Peoria. IPPA initially marketed

pork burgers during tailgating at Soldier Field in 2010. The promotions went over

so well the pork burgers, marketed as DaBurger, were sold at every Bears’ home game in 2011. DaBurgers debuted at the United Center Jan. 20 and were so popular they will be sold at four locations during all Bulls and Blackhawks games. “Windy City sports fanatics clearly deserve a bigger, better burger,” said Erin Cleary, IPPA director of marketing and education. “The Illinois Pork Producers are proud to provide it.” Chicago sports venues aren’t the only places in which fans developed a taste for DaBurger. IPPA last summer teamed up with the Illinois Corn Marketing Board and hosted pork night at a Normal CornBelters minor league baseball game. “It went over so well it was

expire on Sept. 30. Offers for CRP contracts are ranked according to the Environmental Benefits Index (EBI). USDA’s Farm Service Agency (FSA) collects data for each of the EBI factors based on the relative environ-

mental benefits for the land offered. Each eligible offer is ranked in comparison to all other offers and selections are made from that ranking. FSA uses the following EBI factors to assess the environmental benefits for the land offered: • Wildlife habitat benefits resulting from covers on contract acreage; • Water-quality benefits from reduced erosion,

runoff, and leaching; • On-farm benefits from reduced erosion; • Benefits that likely will endure beyond the contract period; • Air-quality benefits from reduced wind erosion; and • Cost. For more information on CRP and other FSA programs, visit a local FSA service center or {www.fsa.usda.gov}.

BY DANIEL GRANT FarmWeek

The Illinois Pork Producers Association (IPPA) appears to have found the ideal way to generate interest in one of its long-existing products. IPPA in recent years started promoting pork burgers by selling fresh sandwiches at sports venues, mostly in Chicago. And many consumers apparently like the taste. Demand for pork burgers has skyrocketed at Soldier Field (home of the Bears) and more recently at the United Center (home of the Blackhawks and Bulls). “We’re trying to put more emphasis (on the pork burger) and look for opportunities to promote and expand it,” Tim Maiers, IPPA director of public relations, told FarmWeek

Emery Moorehead, left, who was the starting tight end for the 1985 Chicago Bears Super Bowl champion team, talks with Brian Litwiller, a pork producer from Delavan, last week during the Illinois Pork Expo in Peoria. Moorehead was a featured speaker at the event and also passed out autographed water bottles to promote DaBurger, a pork burger sandwich that has become a favorite at sports venues in Chicago and Normal. (Photo by Daniel Grant)

Ag Department to offer four week CRP sign-up USDA will conduct a four week Conservation Reserve Program (CRP) general signup March 12 through April 6. Currently, about 30 million acres are enrolled in CRP. Contracts on an estimated 6.5 million acres will

Milk price posts big drop The Class III price for milk adjusted to 3.5 percent butterfat for the month of January was $17.05 per hundredweight, a $1.70 drop from the previous month. The mild winter has kept cows milking well. As a result, butter is starting to back up, putting pressure on milk prices. Corn sileage that was put up last fall is really feeding well right now, translating to even more milk in the tank.

added to the menu” that night, Maiers said. However, IPPA’s goal isn’t to just sell pork burgers at sports venues alone. IPPA hopes to build enough demand for the juicy patties that more retail outlets will start carrying the product. “When we do the sampling, people love (the pork burgers) but they don’t know where to get them,” Maiers said. “Ultimately, our goal is to increase ground pork sales at the food service and retail level.” The pork burger was created in Illinois in the late 1980s as part of the national “Other White Meat” campaign, according to Maiers. It mostly was promoted at state and county fairs, along with limited local sales, before it was rebranded as “DaBurger” and promoted at Chicago sports events. For more information go to {www.facebook.com/daburgers} or {www.ilpork.com}.


FarmWeek Page 6 Monday, February 6, 2012

PRODUCTION

Analyst: This could be a big year for corn production BY DANIEL GRANT FarmWeek

Record-high corn prices in 2011 fueled by a historically low stocks-to-use ratio likely has many farmers thinking one thing this year — plant more corn. In fact, Dale Durchholz, AgriVisor senior market analyst, believes U.S. farmers this year could produce one of the largest corn crops in recent history and still possibly increase acres of other crops. “If the weather is good this spring, we could have huge acreages,” Durchholz told FarmWeek last week at an AgriVisor risk management workshop in Springfield. “And not just for corn but possibly wheat, soybeans, and even cotton.” How will farmers find the acres to boost plantings of various crops? U.S. farmers last year planted 9.6 million fewer acres of all crops compared to 2008

due in large part to weather challenges. Meanwhile, since 2008 more than 3.5 million acres have been released from the Conservation Reserve Program. “We have a huge storehouse of acres that can be Dale Durchholz planted this year,” Durchholz said. And even though crop prices have come down from last year’s highs, the market still is encouraging corn production this year. The University of Illinois recently projected operator and land returns this year on Central Illinois high-productivity ground will average $578 per acre for corn-after-beans, $510 for corn-after-corn, $467 for continuous corn, $425 for beans after two years of corn, and $390 for beans-after-corn. “Corn budgets have higher returns than soybean budgets,” U of I economists noted in a

report at {www.farmdocdaily.illinois.edu}. Durchholz also believes the crop insurance guarantee for corn this year could be the second- or third-highest on record. “Give me a good spring and (farmers) will plant early and they will plant a lot,” the analyst said. Steve Turner, who farms in Cass and Morgan counties, said he plans to plant about 5 percent more corn this year. He believes that if the weather cooperates, U.S. farmers easily could plant 94 million acres of corn or more, as predicted by some private analysts. U.S. farmers last year planted 91.9 million acres of corn. “From the guys I talk to, the question is how much over 94 million acres will we put in the ground,” Turner said. Even if the planting season starts off wet, similar to the past two years, Turner believes farmers still could plant more corn due to their ability to plant more acres per day than

ever before in history. Turner recently added a second 12-row planter on his

FarmWeekNow.com Watch our video interview with AgriVisor’s Dale Durchholz at FarmWeekNow.com.

operation. “People will hang in there for corn (if there are early planting delays),” he said. “We

can plant corn so fast anymore.” “If we plant fast and get big acres, it will set the stage for the trade thinking about big crops and potentially lower prices,” Durchholz said. December corn prices could slip from around $6 per bushel closer to $4.50 if that scenario plays out, according to the analyst. “I think profit margins will be thinner this year,” Turner added.

OUT FOR A GRAZE

Cattle on the farm of Larr y Miller, farmer and manager of the Franklin County Farm Bureau in Benton, seem to pause from grazing and pose for a photo during an unseasonably warm and snow-free day last week in Southern Illinois. Illinois snowfall totals as of Friday were well below average for the season with less than one-third of the climatological winter left on the calendar. (Photo by Cyndi Cook)


Page 7 Monday, February 6, 2012 FarmWeek

pork producers

New IPPA president focuses on youth, consumers BY DANIEL GRANT FarmWeek

Most pork producers obviously are very good at raising pigs or they wouldn’t be in business. The efficiency is evidenced by the fact that the average number of Dereke Dunkirk pigs-savedper litter in the most recent quarter was a record-high 10.02. “Things look pretty good,” Dereke Dunkirk, newly elected president of the Illinois Pork Producers Association (IPPA), said last week at the Illinois Pork Expo. “Sure, we’ve had high grain (feed) prices, but we’ve had high hog prices, also. Producers have had good opportunities to lock in profits.” But hog farmers in general still have some work to do when it comes to building and maintaining consumer trust and attracting more young people to the business, according to Dunkirk. He, therefore, plans to focus his year as IPPA president on attracting youth to the industry, engaging consumers, and promoting pork to the public.

New school lunch rules target low-fat, flavored milk New USDA regulations, published last week in the Federal Register, will eliminate low-fat, flavored milk as a reimbursable menu option in school meals. However, schools may still offer fat-free, flavored milk to students. The rules, which take effect in the 2012-2013 school year, require most schools to increase the availability of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and fat-free and low-fat milk in school meals. The rules also will reduce the levels of sodium, saturated fat, and trans fat in school menu items. Schools will be required to offer fruit at each breakfast and lunch, and vegetables (the amount of starchy vegetables will be limited each week) at each lunch. The new standards are expected to cost $3.2 billion over the next five years. The new regulations and meal requirements are part of the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act that passed in late 2010.

“We have to try to engage the youth. They’re the future,” Dunkirk said. “We need younger producers to get involved in the association.” IPPA at its Pork Expo offered a purebred seed stock and showpig symposium that was well attended by young people. IPPA also is making a big push to promote domestic sales of ground pork in the form of pork burgers. “One of my top priorities is to maintain our marketing and promotion efforts and expand on them,” Dunkirk said. “We’ll also continue to work with Illinois Farm

Families to get our story out there (to the general public).” Illinois Farm Families is a coalition of the Illinois beef,

front, Dunkirk believes it’s vital for pork producers, and farmers in general, to continue to promote ag trade. The U.S. last year exported

‘We have to try to engage the youth. They’re the future.’ — Dereke Dunkirk President, Illinois Pork Producers

corn growers, pork producers, and soybean associations along with Illinois Farm Bureau. On the international

nearly one-quarter of all the pork produced nationwide. “Those exports will help drive demand in the future,” he said.

Dunkirk is a third-generation pork producer from Morrisonville in Christian County. His family’s operation has transitioned over the years from outdoor farrow-to-finish, to feeder pigs and wean pigs to its current role as a contract grower. IPPA at its annual meeting this year recognized Scholl Family Farms, Polo, as the Illinois Pork Producers Family of the Year; Bill Fisher, Pesotum, was named the Pork Promoter of the Year; and Bob Easter, University of Illinois, was the recipient of IPPA’s Distinguished Service Award.


FarmWeek Page 8 Monday, February 6, 2012

FB IN ACTION

State ag groups, law enforcement focusing on agro-security issues BY KAY SHIPMAN FarmWeek

Farmers are best suited to watch for suspicious actions related to possible criminal and terrorist activity on farms. To raise farmer awareness, state agriculture groups, law enforcement, and government agencies formed the Illinois Agro-Security Working Group. The working group developed information and created a brochure with tips and contact information. The working group includes the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), Illinois Farm Bureau, Illinois Pork Producers Association, Illinois Soybean Association, Illinois Corn Growers Association, Illinois Beef Association, Midwest Dairy Association, Illinois Fertilizer and Chemical

Association, USDA Veterinary Service, Illinois Department of Agriculture, Illinois Environmental Protection Agency, Illinois State Police, Illinois Statewide Terrorism and Intelligence Center, and the Illinois Emergency Management Agency.

TEACHING THE TEACHERS

Dave Patton, IFB field operations manager, and Laura Harmon, IFB attorney, have represented IFB at working group meetings. Farmers should be alert for “something that looks out of the norm” and then contact the appropriate people, Patton said. If farmers see a crime in progress, they should call law enforcement, he added. Unusual activities include attempts to rent or borrow farm equipment for no logical reason, specific questions about facilities or processes, and thefts of anhydrous or other fertilizer. “We’re trying to educate people to be alert to spot suspicious activity,” Patton said. County Farm Bureaus have received information about the working group and a copy of the group’s brochure, according to Patton. Diane Merrion, ag literacy coordinator for Cook County Farm Bureau (CCFB), explains the new USDA MyPlate program to some of the 195 suburban teachers CCFB hosted recently during a teachers’ institute in School District 109 in Justice. Organizers of the event included Facilitating Coordination in Agriculture education program adviser Sarah Song, Merrion, and Kane County Ag in the Classroom county coordinator Suzi Myers. Teachers of students from pre-K through eighth grade participated in handson activities designed to given them ideas on how to incorporate agriculture into their curriculums. Here, Merrion shows the teachers how to make a nutrition abacus showing how many servings of vegetables, protein, fruits, grains, and dairy they may eat at a meal or in a day. The fruit spins served as beads for the abacus. (Photo courtesy of Cook County Farm Bureau)

Auction Calendar Mon., Feb. 6. 10 a.m. Farmland Auction. Rex Moreland, RAMSEY, IL. Cory Craig, Auctioneer. www.corycraig.com Tues., Feb. 7. 10 a.m. Farm machinery. Lester F. Lydigsen Jr., DWIGHT, IL. Bradleys’ and Immke Auction Service. www.bradleyauctionsinc.com Tues., Feb. 7. 11 a.m. Vermilion Co Land Auction. ROYAL, IL. Murray Wise Associates, LLC. murraywiseassociates.com Wed., Feb. 8. 10 a.m. Unreserved Auction Online Only. www.bigiron.com Thurs., Feb. 9. 10 a.m. 153 Ac. Livingston Co. Dorothy A. Coyne Trust, GRAYMONT, IL. Immke and Bradleys’ Auction Service. biddersandbuyers.com/immke Thurs., Feb. 9. 10 a.m. 395 Ac. Warren Co. Roy L. Green Trust, MONMOUTH, IL. Van Adkisson Auction Service, LLC. www.biddersandbuyers.com Fri., Feb. 10. 9 a.m. Consignment Auction. TREMONT, IL. Cal Kaufman and Brent Schmidgall, Auctioneers. kaufmanauction@aol.com or brentschmidgall@yahoo.com Sat., Feb. 11. 10 a.m. Farm Auction. Blann Farms Inc., CARLISLE, IN. Jeff Boston Auc Service LLC. www.bostoncentury.com Sat., Feb. 11. 10 a.m. Estate Auction. Claude Bonham, EXETER, IL. Darrell Moore, Roger Strang and Dick

Samples, Auctioneers. Sat., Feb. 11. 10 a.m. Farm and Livestock Eq. Auction. Rod Kehr Est., ALEXIS, IL. Gregory Real Estate and Auction, LLC. www.biddersandbuyers.com Sat., Feb. 11. 10 a.m. Pike Co Land Auction. Prairie Power Inc., PITTSFIELD, IL. Sullivan Auctioneers LLC. www.sullivanauctioneers.com Sat., Feb. 11. 10 a.m. Farm Eq Auction. Dave Miller, DELAVAN, IL. Hoyland Auction. www.auctionblock.com or www.auctionzip.com Sat., Feb. 11. 9:30 a.m. Retirement Auction. David and Laverne Schumm, WAYNE CITY, IL. Jamie Scherrer Auction Co. www.jamiescherrerauction.com Sat., Feb. 11. 10 a.m. Farm Machinery Close-Out Auction. Chuck and JoAnn Ursprung, EDWARDSVILLE, IL. Mark Krausz Auction Service. krauszauctions.com Tues., Feb. 14. 10 a.m. LaSalle Co Land Auction. Hertz Farm Mgmt. Inc. www.hfmgt.com Wed., Feb. 15. 10 a.m. Unreserved Auction ~ Online Only. www.bigiron.com Wed. Feb. 15. 10:30 a.m. Land Auction Winnebago Co. Homer F. Green Trust, PECATONICA, IL. Lenny Bryson, Auctioneer. www.lennybrysonauctioneer.com Thurs., Feb. 16. 10 a.m. Coles Co. Real Estate. John Mast, ARCOLA, IL. Stanfield Auc Co. www.stanfieldauction.com


Page 9 Monday, February 6, 2012 FarmWeek

from the counties

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ROWN — An “On the Road” seminar will be at 1 p.m. Friday, Feb. 24, at the John Wood Community College Ag Center-Orr Farm. Kevin Rund, Illinois Farm Bureau senior director of local government, will be the speaker. Call the Farm Bureau office at 217-773-2634 for reservations or more information. UREAU — The Young Leader Committee will sponsor a farm labor pool listing for Bureau County residents. It will list people who are looking for agriculturalrelated work. Forms are available at the Farm Bureau office or by e-mailing jillfrueh.bcfb@comcast.net. Deadline to sign up is Friday, Feb. 24. • Farm Bureau will offer an agricultural student an internship for the summer. The internship is open to Bureau County residents who have completed at least two semesters in college. Preference is given to applicants who have a farm background or are in an agriculture-related field of study. Deadline to return applications is Friday, Feb. 24. ALHOUN — An “On the Road” seminar will be at 10 a.m. Friday, March 9, at the Extension office, Hardin. Kevin Rund, Illinois Farm Bureau senior director of local government, will be the speaker. Call the Farm Bureau office at 618-576-2233 by March 1 for reservations or more information. ASS-MORGAN — Farm Bureau will sponsor a social networking seminar at 7 p.m. Monday, Feb. 20, at the Morgan County Extension building. The program will include Twitter, Facebook, and other social networking applications. Call the Farm Bureau office by Wednesday, Feb. 15, for reservations or more information. HRISTIAN — An international ag breakfast meeting will be at 7:30 a.m. Tuesday, Feb. 14, at the U.S. Bank Community Room, Taylorville. Ken Cripe and Phil Corzine will present the program on production of crops in South America. Call the Farm Bureau office at 8242940 for reservations or more information. OLES — Farm Bureau will sponsor a state representative meet and greet meeting at 5 p.m. Thursday, Feb. 16, at the Lifespan Center, Loxa Road. Call the Farm Bureau office at 345-3276 for reservations or more information. FFINGHAM — The Local Affairs Action Team will sponsor a land use planning seminar at 7 p.m.

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Tuesday at the Farm Bureau office. Kevin Rund, Illinois Farm Bureau senior director of local government, and Carolyn Willenburg, Effingham County Board chairman, will be the speakers. Call the Farm Bureau office at 217-342-2103 for reservations or more information. • The Local Affairs Action Team will sponsor a farmland assessment seminar at 7 p.m. Wednesday, Feb. 15, at the Farm Bureau office. Pamela Braun, Effingham County supervisor of assessments, will be the speaker. Call the Farm Bureau office at 217-342-2103 for reservations or more information. • Farm Bureau and the Effingham County Country Financial representatives will sponsor two farm estate and transfer planning seminars at the Farm Bureau office. The first will be at 6 p.m. Tuesday, Feb. 21, with dinner being served. Deadline for reservations is Wednesday, Feb. 15. The second workshop will be at noon Wednesday, Feb. 29, with lunch being served. Deadline for reservations is Wednesday, Feb. 22. Call the Farm Bureau office at 217342-2103 or your Country Financial representative for reservations or more information. ORD-IROQUOIS — A crop insurance informational meeting will be at 7 p.m. Tuesday, Feb. 21, at the Farm Bureau office. Doug Yoder, Illinois Farm Bureau senior director of affiliate and risk management, will be the speaker. Call the Farm Bureau office for more information. RUNDY — The Young Leaders, TS Quick Enterprises, Grainco FS, First Midwest Bank, and Pioneer will sponsor a grain rescue and protection training session from 12:30 p.m. to 5 p.m. Wednesday, Feb. 15, at the Grundy County Highway Department. Lunch will be served. Call the Farm Bureau office at 815-942-6400 for more information.

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ANCOCK — The Women’s Committee will sponsor a culinary class at noon Monday, Feb. 13, at the Quincy Steamboat Co., Quincy. Featured will be a handson preparation of an appetizer, main course, and dessert. Call the Farm Bureau office at 217-357-3141 for reservations or more information.

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IVINGSTON — Livingston and McLean County Farm Bureaus and Prairie Central Co-Op will sponsor a “Put Safety First on Your Farm” meeting at 7:30

a.m. Wednesday at the Lexington Community Center. Breakfast will be served. John Lee, Illinois Feed and Grain Association, and a representative from the Illinois State Police will be the speakers. Call the Farm Bureau office at 815-842-1103 for reservations or more information. ONROE — An Ag Day program will be at 8 a.m. Wednesday at the Monroe County Annex. Breakfast will be served. Robert Bellm and Wayne Johanning will be the speakers. Call the Farm Bureau office for more information. • The annual meeting will be at 6 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 25, at St. Mary’s Parish Center, Valmeyer. Dinner will be served following the silent auction. The Band Room Brass will provide the entertainment. Tickets are $10 and deadline to purchase them is Wednesday, Feb. 15. ONTGOMERY — The Prime Timers will meet at noon Wednesday, Feb. 15, at the Lion’s Club, Hillsboro. A fried chicken dinner will be served for $8. Ken Cripe, president of

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Fayette County Farm Bureau and owner of Cripe Elevator, will present a program on his recent market study tour to South America. Call the Farm Bureau office at 217-532-6171 for reservations or more information. EORIA — A family fun day will be at 11:30 a.m. Saturday at the Mt. Hawley Bowl, Peoria. Cost is $5 for three games and children 6 to 12 years of age bowl free. Reservations are not necessary. IKE — The annual meeting will be at 6:30 p.m. Wednesday at the Farm Bureau office. Election of directors will be held. An Illinois Senate candidate forum will follow the election. • Farm Bureau will sponsor a “meet the candidate” forum at 6:30 p.m. Wednesday at the Farm Bureau office. Featured will be the three Republican candidates from the 50th Senate district. The forum is open to the public. COTT — Farm Bureau will sponsor a “meet the candidate” forum at 6:30 p.m. Wednesday at the Pike County Farm Bureau office. Featured will be Republican candidates

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from the 50th Senate district. The forum is open to the public. TARK — Farm Bureau will sponsor a market outlook program at 6:30 p.m. Thursday, Feb. 16, at the Black Hawk College East Campus conference room. Cory Winstead, AgriVisor market analyst, will be the speaker. Pizza will be served. Call the Farm Bureau office at 309-286-7481 for reservations or more information. TEPHENSON — Farm Bureau will sponsor a stroke detection plus screening Monday, Feb. 20, and Thursday, Feb. 23, from 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. at the Farm Bureau office. Members will receive a discount on the package of tests. Call 877-7328258 for an appointment. • Farm Bureau will offer meat gift certificates for sale, redeemable at five area retailers. Certificates are available in $5 increments, and Farm Bureau will match dollar-fordollar purchases to create a grant assistance fund for area FFA chapters. Certificates are available at the Farm Bureau office.

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FarmWeek Page 10 Monday, February 6, 2012

proFitability

Nitrogen fundamentals continue to evolve worldwide BY KREG RUHL

Natural gas prices have been dropping and currently are at the lowest levels in the past 10 years, even though we are in the middle of the winter heating season. Availability of natural gas in the U.S. and around the world is increasing and driving changes in nitrogen fertilizer

production as new plants are due to come on line late this year to take advantage of this cheap feedstock. With new nitrogen production, more volatility in nitrogen pricing should be expected in late 2012 and beyond. Natural gas as a feedstock accounts for 80 percent of the cash cost of producing ammo-

CME Group fund to protect farmers CME Group last week announced it will establish a $100 million fund designed to provide further protection of customers’ segregated funds for U.S. farmers and ranchers who hedge their business in CME Group futures markets. The decision came in response to the recent MF Global failure, in which a clearing firm violated Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC) regulations and misused customer monies that should have been kept segregated. CME Group is adding the extra security measure to protect those who use CME Group futures markets to hedge their crops and livestock. Under the Family Farmer and Rancher Protection Fund, expected to be in effect by March 1, farmers using CME Group products will be eligible for up to $25,000 per account in the case of losses resulting from the future insolvency of a clearing member or other market participant. Farming and ranching cooperatives also will be eligible for up to $100,000 of protection per cooperative. If losses in a future failure total more than $100 million, participants will be eligible for a pro-rated share of the fund, up to $100 million. This new fund is expected to be backed by an insurance policy and will not be available retroactively. “Many have been hurt by MF Global’s bankruptcy,” said CME Group Executive Chairman Terry Duffy. “Though all the facts are not yet in, we do know our industry needs to focus on enhancing protections for customer segregated monies held at the firm level.” The Family Farmer and Rancher Protection Fund will serve as an additional layer of customer protection in addition to current CFTC regulations and CME Group exchange rules.

M A R K E T FA C T S Feeder pig prices reported to USDA* Weight 10 lbs. 40 lbs. 50 lbs. Receipts

Range Per Head $33.40-$53.80 $70.53 no longer reported This Week 102,737 *Eastern Corn Belt prices picked up at seller’s farm

Weighted Ave. Price $42.50 $70.53 by USDA Last Week 121,528

Eastern Corn Belt direct hogs (plant delivered) Carcass Live

(Prices $ per hundredweight) This week Prev. week $80.81 $81.11 $59.80 $60.02

Change -0.30 -0.22

USDA five-state area slaughter cattle price Steers Heifers

(Thursday’s price) (Thursday’s price) Prev. week Change This week 124.00 123.77 0.23 124.00 123.94 0.06

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 $153.62 153.07 0.55

Lamb prices Slaughter Prices - Negotiated, Live, wooled and shorn 110-160 lbs. for 150-165 $/cwt. (wtd. ave. 158.68); dressed, no sales reported.

Export inspections (Million bushels) Week ending Soybeans Wheat Corn 01-26-12 41.5 18.7 22.7 01-19-12 36.4 17.8 36.2 Last year 43.8 25.1 31.3 Season total 718.0 656.7 671.1 Previous season total 979.4 756.2 682.9 USDA projected total 1275 950 1650 Crop marketing year began June 1 for wheat and Sept. 1 for corn and soybeans.

nia. At present, U.S. nitrogen producers have a lower cost of production than many international producers. Kreg Ruhl Over the last decade, many feared these international nitrogen producers would drive domestic producers out of business. Countries that export nitrogen do so as a way to monetize natural gas resources. Tropical areas such as Trinidad, or sparsely populated areas such as Siberia, have natural gas resources but no end user demand. Nitrogen products are easily stored and transported, making them desirable export products. Experts predict that global ammonia production will increase by 20 percent over the next five years, the first wave of which will hit the market later this year. Most new production is expected to surface in China, the Middle East, and Northern Africa.

China is an anomaly because it has a higher cost of energy than many other regions, but politics dictate that it builds nitrogen capacity to mitigate food supply risks for its growing population. High commodity prices, lower natural gas costs, and increased nitrogen supplies create the potential for nitrogen price volatility, which impact farmers’ bottom lines. Nitrogen producers around the world want to “sell high,” but a lower cost of goods for

producers allows more latitude in pricing while remaining profitable. Volatility in fertilizer is here to stay. The U.S. needs to import approximately 60 percent of its annual nitrogen needs, and your local crop specialist can help mitigate nitrogen price risk by matching fertilizer purchases with forward grain sales. Kreg Ruhl is GROWMARK’s senior market manager for nitrogen. His e-mail address is kruhl@growmark.com.

Shrinking cow herd could pressure beef prices BY DANIEL GRANT FarmWeek

A smaller inventory of cattle in the U.S. is expected to provide upward pressure on beef prices throughout this year and possibly into 2013. USDA in its semi-annual cattle inventory report released Jan. 27 estimated the number of all cattle and calves in the FarmWeekNow.com U.S. as of Jan. 1 Listen to Chris Hurt’s comments totaled 90.8 on the cattle market outlook at million head, FarmWeekNow.com down 2 percent from the previous year. In fact, the Jan. 1 herd size was at its lowest level for that time of year since 1952. “This report very much is attributable to the drought in the South,” which forced many cattle farmers to liquidate herds, Derrell Peel, ag economist at Oklahoma State University, told FarmWeek. “The industry in 2011 was poised to stop liquidation or expand slightly,” he continued. “Now (with a continuation of the drought and herd liquidation) we’re facing some of the same challenges to start 2012.” The cattle herd last year declined in the two largest cattle production states in the nation, Oklahoma and Texas, by 14 and 13 percent, respectively. Reduction of herd numbers, though, may not be quite as severe as it appears on paper. The average carcass weight of cattle that went to slaughter in 2011 was 773 pounds compared to just 575 pounds in 1958, according to authors of the CME Group Daily Livestock Report. “Certainly from a production standpoint, it’s not that small of an industry,” Peel said. “But the

(herd) numbers have continued to go down and we are at a smaller level than we ever intended to be.” This year marked the sixth in a row and 12 out of the past 14 years the beef cow herd declined in the U.S., according to the Daily Livestock Report. The drop in cattle numbers suggests beef production this year could decline about 4 percent, Peel said. But exports so far have remained strong. Beef prices, therefore, are expected to increase this year by another 4 to 5 percent. “We have very tight numbers ahead of us for 2012 and 2013 at best,” Peel said. “We’ll continue to see record (cattle) prices and they will go higher yet.” As for retail prices, Peel believes consumers will determine when beef prices get too high to continue demand growth. “We don’t know how much higher (beef) prices can go,” he said. “The real limit will be at the consumer level. We just don’t know where that is because we’ve never challenged these levels.” The price of a pound of Choice beef in December averaged $5.02 per pound, which was a new nominal high for the fourth month in a row.


Page 11 Monday, February 6, 2012 FarmWeek

PROFITABILITY Corn Strategy

CASH STRATEGIST

Cents per bu.

ü2011 crop: The performance of the corn market last week was not good considering new highs were seen. Leave an order to add a 10 percent sale if March futures hit $6.60, but note the fail-safe target below. Continue to use rallies above $6.35 to make catch-up sales. ü2012 crop: December futures hit $5.80, triggering an order to price another 10 percent. Continue to use rallies above $5.65 on December futures to make catch-up sales. vFundamentals: The surge in wheat prices on Black Sea winterkill fears took a lid off the corn market. The strong cash markets in the U.S. and continued absence of significant moisture in southern Brazil have helped strengthen corn prices. The U.S. agriculture attaché indicated Argentina’s corn crop would only hit 21.8 million metric tons (858.3 million bushels). Traders at the Buenos Aires Grain Exchange are looking for one below 23 million metric tons. ûFail-safe: Make sure sales are completed if March futures drop below $6.33.

Soybean Strategy

Corn, wheat shipments holding pace The talk about Russia possibly instituting an export tax starting in April could boost our wheat export business somewhat. And even though wheat shipments have been ahead of pace since summer, they have slowly slipped back to the projected trend. Because there are exportable supplies still available in other countries, notably Europe, there’s no guarantee business will come here. And we aren’t short of wheat with ending

stocks currently projected to reach 870 million bushels. Corn exports are holding pace at best, because of the competition from feed wheat around the world. Even though South American exportable supplies have tightened, feed wheat supplies may keep much business from coming to the U.S. Soybean exports, sales, and shipments continue to lag, especially the former. Even though South American crops are shrinking, they will push supplies into the world pipeline aggressively after harvest. The fundamental benefit of the smaller South American crops could help our new-crop business the most.

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: The lack of rain in southern Brazil is keeping prices firm and may continue to do so until moisture relief comes. Still, leave an order to price another 10 percent if March reaches $12.75. Use rallies for catch-up sales. ü2012 crop: The small decline in South American output increases the need for more soybean acres and production here this year. Use rallies above $12.35 on November futures for catchup sales. Leave an order to add another 10 percent sale if November futures hit $12.45. vFundamentals: Rains have stabilized the Argentine crop. Some double-crop acres have even been planted the last two weeks. Analysts look for a 46 million to 47 million-metricton crop. The focus has shifted to southern Brazil’s continued drought. Most estimates are looking for a 70-million-metricton crop there, but that could slip lower yet. Drier weather has allowed harvest to push forward in the north. It is 11 per-

cent complete in Mato Grosso. ûFail-safe: Make sure sales are completed if March soybeans fall below $12.

Wheat Strategy

ü2011 crop: The Chicago March contract remains above $6.45 support, keeping the minor trend pointed up. But once the situation in Europe passes, the market has little fundamental support. You should have made a 20 percent sale when Chicago March hits $6.70, wrapping up old-crop sales. If you didn’t pull the trigger, use rallies to wrap them up. The carry in futures still pays for commercial stor-

age, making spring hedge-toarrive contracts the best tool. ü2012 crop: We recommended a 15 percent sale on the Hotline when Chicago July futures hit $7. Do it now if you haven’t already. vFundamentals: Wheat prices moved to a new winter high on the winterkill fears in Russia and Ukraine. Many times, prices put in a peak when temperatures bottom. Forecasts call for more cold air this coming weekend, but not as cold as seen last week. Consultants believe at least onethird of the Ukraine’s wheat crop could be affected.


FarmWeek Page 12 Monday, February 6, 2012

pERSpEcTIvES

Making a case against wind turbines in Illinois I think there are two groups that are strongly in favor of wind turbines: venture capitalists and environmentalists. The first group is taking advantage of a lucrative situation; the second is either uninformed or misinformed. The DON ELLINGSON venture capitalguest columnist ists are enthusiastic about making money with someone else paying the majority of the freight. The 400-foot-tall wind turbines that are being constructed today cost $2 million each, but the government pays a majority of the cost. A wind turbine would have to last almost double its expected lifetime to pay for itself and then start creating a profit. However, since the investors pay only about 1/3 or 1/4 of the cost, they eventually make a profit — again at someone else’s expense. Many people think that school districts or counties can

Saying no to pipeline from Canada good idea

Editor: Before we allow the Keystone Pipeline, with its oil sand, corrosive acid, hole-eating mess, through states on its way to our refineries so Canada can sell oil to other countries, we should see what those states want. Nebraska does not want it — when it leaks into the state’s aquifer, the underground river that supplies Nebraskans with fresh water, as well as residents in surrounding states, it will be a horrible disaster with no fix. How would they ever clean that up? Last year, a couple of Canada’s sand oil pipelines leaked thousands of gallons into the Yellowstone River and Kalamazoo River. “Friendly Canada” should build its own oil refinery and build its pipelines to its east and west coasts to sell to other countries. Remember the past, when the Canadians threatened to sue California when California tried to shut off their air-polluting gas additive. How about that “mad cow” they brought into the U.S. and affected our beef industry for years. And the time they dumped pork on our market and put our pork producers out of business. A few years ago, a Canadian natural gas pipeline went across our farm and only

receive a considerable amount of money from turbine companies if they have turbines locally. Yes, they can receive money, but most of it comes from the federal treasury that has underwritten the majority of the cost of erecting the turbine. It is basically transferring tax money from one taxing body to another. If it is money from the U.S. Treasury, then it is money that we the taxpayers have contributed. If it is borrowed federal money, then it is money that future taxpayers will have to contribute. Either way, very little of the money comes from turbine companies. When it comes to turbine life expectancy, the largest wind farm in the country at the time it was constructed, 1,600 turbines, was built in the mid80s near San Francisco. It did not last 25 years and today sits abandoned. It is not the only wind farm that has been abandoned, just the largest. Since wind farms operate

only approximately 30 percent of the time, they do not cut back much of the generating capacity for a utility company, since the company must be capable of generating the needed energy when the turbines are not generating. Even if it’s in the contract that the turbine company is

liable for the decommissioning of a wind farm, it still could be an ordeal for the landowner. Some people insist that wind turbines do not devaluate adjoining property. However, it would be hard to convince the people in the Township of Lincoln, Wis., of that fact. In 2003, which was prior to the 2006 and 2007 drop in real estate property, everything within one mile of turbines was selling at 78 percent of assessed valuation, but in the same area prior to the turbines, everything had been selling for 104 percent of assessed valuation. Anyone who questions wind turbine devaluating neighboring property should ask Realtors, not wind turbine people. And, yes, environmentalists love the idea of wind turbines. Their first thought is, “The wind is free.” Is it really free if it costs $2 million per turbine to harvest it? In 2010, Prairie Farmer magazine quoted the Hulthens family about how terrible and dev-

LETTERS TO THE EDITOR

about a dozen guys were working on it and figured it would take them another two years to finish it ... just them not thousands of workers. Do you think the Canadian workers are going to get laid off when they hit the U.S. border, and men from the U.S. will be hired to take over their jobs? When Congressmen leave office, they are multi-millionaires from insider trading and lobbyists. People should get the facts on issues and tell Congress, instead of Congress letting lobby money talk. LAVONA ONCKEN, Prophetstown ***

Farmers should be allowed to grow hemp

Editor: Why is it that the Washington, D.C., leadership will not allow U.S. farmers to grow industrial hemp? In the 1940s, it was a key part of the war effort and of our economy at more than 420,000 acres. Hemp is not a drug crop. The THC (drug) level is 0.3 of 1 percent or less. Canada and 36 other countries grow hemp. Canadian research shows that hemp in rotation with soybeans will kill cyst nematodes. Cross-pollination of hemp and marijuana reduces THC (drug) level by 50 percent each year. Recently, I received a note from John Block (former USDA ag secretary) saying

“Our policy rejecting hemp doesn’t make any sense”. Detroit wants hemp fiber for car and truck bodies as does the recreational vehicle industry. There is a long list of users for hemp — food, feed, and fiber. All are legal to import. Let us have this “new” crop back. It will help everyone. JEFFREY W. GAIN, Hardin ***

Bees’ existence not a wonderful life

Editor: I’ve been reading FarmWeek stories about honeybees supplied by your Extension educators and university people. Everyone seems to fantasize about the wonderful life of the honeybee and the hive. Indeed at our Michigan Farm Bureau annual meeting, an Extension educator speaking to the delegates characterized the beehive as a bastion of “peace, love, and harmony” ... and indicated that we farmers could learn from the honeybees. As a beekeeper for 20 years, let me add a couple of points you should know before you make up your mind: 1. The queen bee kills the drone (male) immediately after they mate. 2. Males do not work. They live on the honey produced by others. If they choose to mate, they die as a

result. The remaining drones are driven from the hive to freeze when winter arrives to help conserve food. 3. A beehive is the most socialistic of all groups. Consider a weaker hive going into winter. The bees share and they share until all the food is gone. Then they all die of starvation at the same time. There are no individual success stories. So much for peace, love, and harmony. I don’t want to be a bee, do you? JOHN OCHS, Ann Arbor, Mich. ***

Should publication be called ‘ShimkusWeek’?

Editor: I have often joked to my wife that FarmWeek might want to change its name to ShimkusWeek given the number of articles that seem to be little more than press releases from the congressman’s office. It usually provides a laugh to watch him in action, for example, quoting God and

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astating it is living close to turbines. In April 2009, an issue of the Wisconsin State Farmer included a letter to the editor from Tony S. Moyer of Fond du Lac County that verifies what the Hulthens family said. Environmentalists are very concerned about carbon footprint. Isn’t an enormous carbon footprint being created with the manufacturing of 300- to 400-ton towers and turbines and then the delivery and erection of the monstrosities? Don Ellingson lives in Poplar Grove in Boone County. Editor’s note: Farm Bureau supports wind energy generation as a component of the energy portfolio of the U.S. and will seek legislation to establish statewide standards for commercial wind energy conversion systems that provide adequate protection of public health and safety and protect private property rights. Such standards should include property setbacks, other siting issues, performance bonds, and ensure adequate funds are in place for decommissioning.

Noah in congressional hearings to support his global warming denial, “... the earth will end only when God declares it’s time to be over.” On second thought, that probably wouldn’t get a laugh from folks near the Gulf Coast last year. Neither would the voters of his district, which has some of the highest unemployment rates in the State of Illinois, laugh at Shimkus’ comments from the Jan. 2 article, “... you go to rural America, where they’re trying to hire folks, and they tell us that if we keep extending unemployment benefits, they’re going to continue having trouble filling their jobs.” What a callous and insulting thing to say to people who have been struggling to find work for months or years. Does he really believe the 1012 percent of workers unemployed in Marion, Clay, and Montgomery counties are just living it up on unemployment? DUSTIN JOY, Illinois City and complete address will be accepted. A daytime telephone number is required for verification, but will not be published. Only one letter per writer will be accepted in a 60-day period. Typed letters are preferred. Send letters to: FarmWeek Letters 1701 Towanda Ave. Bloomington, Ill., 61701


FarmWeek Feb. 6, 2012