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FA r m B u r e A u m e m bers can be part of the decision-making process through FB ACT. .......................11, 16

For the FIrst tIme in 78 years, 4-H membership will not be required to apply to live in 4-H House at the U of I. ......................9

IllInoIs-grown fruits and vegetables star in a new marketing campaign launched by the Illinois Department of Agriculture . ........10

Monday, January 21, 2013

Two sections Volume 41, No. 3

IFB pushes farm bill flexibility in AFBF debate BY MARTIN ROSS FarmWeek

Periodicals: Time Valued

Illinois Farm Bureau delegates last week joined producers from across the nation to help set the stage for the next farm bill discussion. In American Farm Bureau Federation (AFBF) debate in Nashville, Tenn., delegates supported IFB policy language that proposes “a choice of program options” if a catastrophic risk program isn’t achievable in the new Congress. IFB President Philip Nelson noted the diversity of farm safety net proposals — from “shallow” or deep-loss revenue protection programs to the House’s proposed two-tiered revenue/price program structure and carve-outs for crops such as cotton. He argued the need to “keep our options open.” While Corn Belt farmers have embraced a revenuebased safety net, delegate advocates for peanuts, rice, and other southern crops pushed for continuation of program reference ( target) prices. “We gave flexibility to the organization going forward,” Nelson concluded. “We were concerned as we came through the last farm bill discussions this past year about trying to define such things as shallow

Illinois Farm Bureau President Philip Nelson, right, confers with Oklahoma Farm Bureau President Mike Spradling on a potential point of policy during American Farm Bureau Federation delegate discussion last week in Nashville, Tenn. (Photo by Ken Kashian)

loss (revenue) programs and catastrophic reference prices. Our language gives us the flexibility to get behind a whole host of proposals as we look to jumpstart the farm bill discussion.” Underlining an emphasis on crop insurance as a linchpin of new farm policy, delegates worked not only to strengthen protections under and address current flaws within the system but also to expand potential coverage for forages, peanuts, rice, and specialty crops. At the same time, they proposed bolstering safeguards for uninsured livestock producers.

IFB helped lead delegate efforts to oppose caps on individual federal premium support or means testing of prospective policyholders. Delegates expressed sup- For additional coverage of the recent AFBF annual meeting, go to

port for a recently approved industry accord aimed at governing how biotech crop traits will be managed and made available for further use after their commercial

patents expire. By encouraging the seed industry and other stakeholders to “data share,” Nelson said he hoped AFBF policy would help ensure producers long-term “have a greater advantage through technology.” Amid recent drought-related and federal developments, water issues loomed large in policy discussions. Delegates addressed concerns about potential decertification of area levees and the impact that could have on insurance costs within the floodplain. With U.S. Environmental

Protection Agency Administrator Lisa Jackson preparing to hand the agency’s reins to a new chief, delegates emphasized that no federal agency should be allowed to legislate through their regulatory power. hey approved policy opposing regulatory actions being taken against landowners based on satellite or aerial imagery. IFB led the debate on taxation of Internet retail sales. Champaign County’s Chris Hausman said he recognized the impact of Internet sales on local merchants, but pushed support for collection of taxes only on online sales of “consumer goods” to minimize increased costs for ag inputs purchased via the web. In addition, AFBF delegates for the first time agreed to cross-sector support for existing biofuels mandates under the federal Renewable Fuel Standard. Nelson stressed that “we need to be prepared and ready” to engage in renewed farm bill debate, noting the potential budget-spending ramifications of forthcoming debt ceiling-fiscal debate. AFBF policy specialist Mary Kay Thatcher admitted “it’s going to be pretty tough in the next five or six weeks to really accomplish much on the farm bill.” Thatcher said she was See Farm bill, page 2

IFB, ICC discuss transmission project issues BY KAY SHIPMAN FarmWeek

The Illinois Commerce Commission (ICC) should take a broader perspective on proposed transmission line projects and consider ways to reduce the impact on production agriculture, Illinois Farm Bureau President Philip Nelson told ICC officials last week. Nelson; Mark Gebhards, IFB executive director of governmental affairs and commodities; Laura Harmon, IFB attorney; and Rae Payne, senior director of business

and regulatory affairs, had an initial meeting with ICC officials to discuss the longterm outlook on transmission line projects that come before the ICC. A first step should be for the ICC to consider several proposed projects in totality instead of individually, Nelson said. He pointed out to the ICC officials that Iowa uses that system and left materials outlining Iowa’s process with them. “We need to look at the future and the necessity” of these transmission lines, Nelson said. “We gave them

FarmWeek on the web:

our philosophy.” Nelson also encouraged the ICC to require transmission line projects to follow interstate or state rights-of-way or property lines instead of cutting across farmland. He also said IFB would prefer that single-pole structures be required for any approved project. Farmers would have an easier time farming around those structures, he explained. “This was a good first meeting to communicate our views to ICC officials,” Nelson concluded.

Illinois Farm Bureau®on the web:

FarmWeek Page 2 Monday, January 21, 2013

Quick Takes LAND OWNERSHIP TRENDS — Illinois farmers rent a larger portion of their production acres than the national average. USDA’s agricultural resource management survey conducted in 2010 showed the majority of farmland in the U.S. (56 percent) is owner-operated. In Illinois, 41 percent of farmland acres is owneroperated. This is roughly the same amount of land (40 percent) rented under fixed or flexible cash rent agreements in the state, the University of Illinois reported on the website {}. But the portion of farmland owned or rented varies by farm. The USDA survey suggested smaller farmers own a larger share of the land they operate. FITZGERALD APPOINTED U OF I TRUSTEE — Former U.S. Attorney Patrick Fitzgerald has been appointed to the University of Illinois Board of Trustees, Gov. Pat Quinn announced last week. The governor also reappointed several members to both the U of I and Northern Illinois University boards of trustees. Fitzgerald served as U.S. attorney for the northern district of Illinois and has received numerous honors during his more than 20 years of public service. Quinn reappointed Dr. Timothy Koritz and James Montgomery to the U of I trustee board. Both are U of I alumni. The governor also reappointed Robert Boey, John Butler, and Wheeler Coleman to the Northern Illinois University Board of Trustees. SUPPORT ACROSS THE POND — Irish ag attaché John Dardis declared “U.S. farmers are very, very good, if not in the top of what you do in the world,” during last week’s Illinois Farm Bureau annual American Farm Bureau Federation state breakfast. He applauded the group’s efforts to make that known to consumers. “We have to bring these people (consumers) out on the farm,” Dardis said. “You have to bring them out and show them that they are being misled. Show them what you do and how you do it. “Ninety-nine percent of everybody in the business is doing it for the right reasons. Globally, we all have this issue.” Dardis, one of 12 international attaches who attended the breakfast, was intrigued by the farm bill debate. He suggested a Farm Bureau-supported emphasis on crop insurance is “a healthier policy than direct payments.” Direct payments are prevalent in the European Union, of which Ireland is a member.

(ISSN0197-6680) Vol. 41 No. 3

January 21, 2013

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

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STAFF Editor Dave McClelland ( Legislative Affairs Editor Kay Shipman ( Agricultural Affairs Editor Martin Ross ( Senior Commodities Editor Daniel Grant ( Editorial Assistant Margie Fraley ( Business Production Manager Bob Standard ( Advertising Sales Manager Richard Verdery ( Classified sales coordinator Nan Fannin ( Director of News and Communications Michael L. Orso 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


Rains replenish navigation channel

Barge executive seeks ‘more dialogue’ among Mississippi River interests


Heavy rains across Southern Illinois seem to have resolved current low-water concerns on the Mississippi River. But Ingram Barge Co. Senior Vice President Daniel Mecklenborg stresses “we’re not out of the woods on a long-term basis.” Recent precipitation and upstream snow melt have spurred a sharp rise in river levels. Rock removal has been under way in the Thebes area south of St. Louis to ensure a navigable channel through January. Destruction of rock pinnacles began after the U.S. Army For more details on the status of the Mississippi River system, go to

Corps of Engineers rejected requests for additional winter water releases from upstream Missouri River reservoirs to bolster the Upper Mississippi channel. Mecklenborg recognized a number of “very critical needs” on the Missouri, including drinking water and ag irrigation. However, he argued “there’s probably enough water in the Missouri reservoir system” to allow added releases for navigation without harming other interests. “We need to have more dialogue and better communications among the various stakeholders of the Missouri and Mississippi River systems,” Mecklenborg told FarmWeek following an American Farm Bureau Federation transportation panel discussion in Nashville. “From a planning standpoint, we believe the Corps of Engineers needs to be more transparent. We as an industry and the agricultural community need to be more active in terms of representing our interests in this process.” And he said, the various uses of the Missouri River need to be taken into account and the supply of water fairly allocated.

During last week’s American Farm Bureau Federation annual meeting in Nashville, Illinois Farm Bureau transportation specialist Kevin Rund joined a panel of state Farm Bureau analysts and Ingram Barge Co. Senior Vice President Daniel Mecklenborg to address changes in federal highway rules, surface transportation issues, and long-term needs on the U.S. inland waterways system. (Photo by Ken Kashian)

Amid low-water concerns, Ingram has been forced to reduce barge drafts from a standard 10 feet to a safer eight feet between St. Louis and Cairo.

‘We’re not out of the woods on a long-term basis.’ — Daniel Mecklenborg Ingram Barge Co. vice president

That’s meant loading some barges to a quarter their normal weight. A winter reduction in Mississippi channel width also has required the company to transport fewer barges per barge tow. Mecklenborg sees “enough water to operate for the nearterm.” But he said he is concerned about levels heading into late February or March, and warned more rain is needed. In terms of the Mississippi’s aging navigation infrastructure, Mecklenborg echoed Illinois

Farm bill Continued from page 1 uncertain whether agriculture would be credited for the proposed $23 billion to $35 billion in farm bill cuts proposed last year by the Senate and House Ag Committee. Amid farm bill uncertainty, AFBF delegates recommended appointing a task force to study dairy policy options.

“We need to start putting some pressure on both the Senate and House to advance the farm bill,” Nelson said. “Hopefully, at the end of the day, we can have this wrapped up before the August recess, so we don’t have to worry about (2008 farm bill) extension deadlines going into September.”

Farm Bureau policy support for new private sources of river investment. Congress’ yearto-year appropriations process and waning revenues in the barge fuel tax-funded Inland Waterways Trust Fund have made it difficult to secure long-term funding for waterways projects. Mecklenborg said he believes commercial stakeholders may be willing to invest particularly in Illinois River infrastructure in particular. “If the state were involved and there was a way to broaden the revenue base for these projects, the venture capital firms would be more than happy to provide funding for these types of projects,” he suggested.

Tuesday: • Ag weather provided by the Illinois State Water Survey • Rick Morgan, financial security consultant with Country Financial • Tom Husek, Illinois Agricultural Auditing Association Wednesday: • Tim Schweizer, Illinois Department of Natural Resources • Katie Pratt, finalist U.S. Farmers & Ranchers Alliance Faces of Farming and Ranching • Brian Fuchs, Ag Connect climatologist Thursday: • Jill Johnson, Illinois Beef Association • Illinois Farm Bureau President Philip Nelson • Chad Miller, Kankakee County Farm Bureau manager Friday: • Sara Wyant, Agri-Pulse publisher • Elizabeth Wahle, Illinois Extension Agricultural Association and an advisory member of the IFB Board of Directors To find a radio station near you that carries the RFD Radio Network, go to, click on “Radio,” then click on “Affiliates.”

Page 3 Monday, January 21, 2013 FarmWeek


Vilsack: ‘We need a five-year farm bill’ BY MARTIN ROSS FarmWeek

Congressional failure to promptly pass a new farm bill could have serious consequences for farmer security, the rural economy, and future trade relations, U.S. Ag Secretary Tom Vilsack cautioned last week. “We need a five-year farm Tom Vilsack bill, and we need it now,” Vilsack told farmers in a keynote address at the American Farm Bureau Federation (AFBF) annual meeting in Nashville, Tenn. Vilsack said the 2012 drought showed the importance of farmer safety nets. He emphasized the need for farm legislation with crop insurance, an “understandable and defensible” safety net program, flexible and streamlined conservation programs, and research and rural development investments that help grow new bio-based industries and jobs. The secretary, who said he will stay on with USDA for

President Obama’s second term, blasted Congress for rejecting “an opportunity for true reform,” $23 billion to $35 billion in long-term deficit savings, and much-needed aid for drought-stressed livestock and dairy producers. Vilsack warned the need to return to the farm bill drawing board could leave agriculture with an even lower budget baseline heading into new farm bill negotiations, and lawmakers’ failure to address further cotton program revisions required under a World Trade Organization ruling “could threaten significant (trade) retaliation” by Brazil. The specter of across-theboard budget “sequestration” cuts being triggered possibly a few months from now offers “no absolute guarantee” of prospective ag program spending, he said. If sequestration is triggered, USDA would have roughly six months to cut more than 8 percent of its budget — a process that could effectively “unextend” some 2008 program authorizations Congress recently extended through Sept. 30, Vilsack said. In an effort to bolster inter-

im farm protections, Vilsack will allow farmers to opt in or opt out of the Average Crop Revenue Election (ACRE), a to-date relatively unpopular revenue safety net program

‘We need a five-year farm bill, and we need it now.’ — Tom Vilsack U.S. Ag Secretary

slated for extinction under Senate and House Ag Committee farm bill proposals. Vilsack noted there has been a sharp decline in the rural population and “the political clout rural America once had,” and urged farmers to emphasize a “proactive message” in lobbying for a new farm bill. He touted “the unlimited potential of the biobased economy” and the jobs renewable fuel and cropbased chemical production could generate as a key selling point for consumers and urban lawmakers. At the same time, he

Spending cuts needed to avert ‘deferred tax increase’ — Schock Peoria Republican U.S. Rep. Aaron Schock anticipates approval of significant spending cuts by spring as Congress seeks, from his perspective, to avert future tax increases. Lawmakers on New Year’s succeeded in resolving merely “the tax component” of a continuing fiscal dilemma, the House Ways and Means Aaron Schock Committee member told FarmWeek. That left three major issues to be addressed: short-term spending following late March expiration of a temporary continuing budget resolution; forthcoming automatic across-the-board budget “sequestration” cuts (see Vilsack story); and Congress’ approach to the U.S. debt limit or “ceiling,” which impacts the U.S.’ global credit standing. Schock argues a bipartisan vote is crucial to passing any of those measures. But Republicans “are going to

demand there be cuts in spending” in exchange for supporting any fiscal deal, he said. “Every borrowed dollar is a deferred tax increase on future generations,” Schock advised. “Increasing debt faster than we have in the history of our country — which is what we’re doing right now — results in a weak dollar. It will result in instability in the market. It will result in inflation setting in. All those things are harmful to economic growth and opportunity for Americans.” The government was scheduled to hit the current $16.4 trillion debt ceiling on Dec. 31, but the U.S. Treasury took emergency measures to allow it to continue taking on debt. Sequestration cuts required under a 2011 deficit agreement are set to trigger March 1. Last Thursday, House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) reported Republicans were mulling a short-term increase in U.S. borrowing authority, possibly linking another boost in the

encouraged “constructive engagement” with a range of interests not traditionally involved in the farm bill debate, including the U.S. Environmental Protection

debt ceiling to deficit reduction talks. Schock suggested “everything is on the table” in forthcoming debate, including federal entitlement spending. Defense spending already has been targeted for cuts, but he argued entitlement costs must be addressed “if we’re going to save the country from a debt crisis and preserve Social Security and Medicare.” However, resolution of the tough budget decisions likely won’t be easy. House Republicans have proposed changes to entitlement programs in the later years of a long-term deficit reduction plan, ideally affecting only those 55 or younger. The president has proposed changes in cost-ofliving increases for current Social Security recipients. Under sequestration, defense would be slated for a more than $500 billion cut over 10 years. Defense Secretary Leon Panetta warned that could jeopardize national security, and President Obama has asked Congress to seek offsetting cuts in other program areas. — Martin Ross

Agency, the nutrition community, and minorities. He defended farm bill nutrition programs as “an important safety net” both for lower-income families and producers, who, he said, receive an estimated 15 to 16 cents for every retail food dollar. And Vilsack recommended farmers promote agriculture’s value “in unconventional ways,” such as supporting controversial nominee Chuck Hagel for secretary of defense because of his Nebraska background and prospective sup-

port for military biofuels development and use. Vilsack raised eyebrows with the suggestion that farmers seek common ground with groups such as the Humane Society of the U.S. (HSUS), which has engaged in a stateby-state campaign to limit livestock production practices. Egg producers who reached a 2012 agreement with HSUS to phase in more spacious housing systems “thought it was in their best interest to avoid 50 different referenda,” he maintained. USDA has attempted to reallocate unused or otherwise available funds to shore up programs including dairy protections and the Market Access Program export promotion initiative. However, Vilsack told FarmWeek funding options are becoming limited as March 27 expiration of the current temporary continuing budget resolution looms. “We essentially robbed Peter to pay Paul, and now we have to pay Peter back,” Vilsack said. “As the fiscal year continues to go on, those options become less available.”


Illinois Farm Bureau President Philip Nelson, left, accepts the American Farm Bureau Federation (AFBF) New Horizon Award from AFBF President Bob Stallman at the national organization’s annual meeting last week in Nashville. The award recognizes new and innovative state Farm Bureau programs: IFB was honored for its role in Illinois Farm Families (IFF), a group committed to dialogue and sharing modern farm experiences with consumers. IFB Vice President Rich Guebert Jr. noted the program’s communications multiplier effect — “(Participants) are on Facebook and Twitter, and that’s what gets our story out” — and cited growing enthusiasm for similar county Farm Bureau programs. IFB also received AFBF awards for excellence for work in five program areas: Agriculture Education and Promotion; Leadership Development; Member Services; Policy Implementation; and Public Relations and Information (the category into which IFF falls). (Photo by Ken Kashian)

FarmWeek Page 4 Monday, January 21, 2013

young leaders

USDA unveils loan program to assist beginning farmers BY DANIEL GRANT FarmWeek

USDA last week unveiled a microloan program designed to help young and beginning farmers, disadvantaged farmers, and returning military veterans enter the business. Farmers through USDA’s new microloan program can apply for a maximum of $35,000 to pay for initial startup expenses such as hoop houses, tools, equipment, irrigation, delivery vehicles, and annual expenses such as seed, fertilizer, and land rent. The final rule establishing the microloan program was published in the Federal Reg-

ister last Thursday. “As we see an expansion of direct-to-consumer sales opportunities and a need for smaller operations to obtain credit, we decided to go with a microloan program,” Ag Secretary Tom Vilsack said during a teleconference. “I believe it will help expand opportunities for beginning farmers.” USDA since 2009 has made a record number of farm loans (more than 128,000 totaling nearly $18 billion) through the Farm Service Agency (FSA). FSA in recent years also increased the number of loans to beginning farmers, from

11,000 in 2008 to 15,000 in 2011. “We’ve seen a remarkable increase in the amount of direct and guaranteed loan activity at FSA offices across the nation,” Vilsack said. “But one of the problems with our programs, in terms of helping beginning farmers, is they require a significant amount of history in order for a farmer to access a fairly significant loan amount.” Farmers in applying for a microloan will be required to provide their most recent operation cycle history compared to the three years of production history required

for traditional FSA loans. The number of forms for a microloan application compared to a traditional loan was reduced from 17 to 8. Farmers, once their financing needs increase, can apply for an operating loan up to the maximum amount, $300,000, or obtain financing from a commercial lender under FSA’s Guaranteed Loan Program. The interest rate for microloans will be competitive with other FSA loan programs, said Vilsack. “I have met several small and beginning farmers, returning veterans, and disadvan-

taged producers interested in careers in farming who too often must rely on credit cards or personal loans with high interest rates to finance their start-up operations,” he said. “By further expanding access to credit to those just starting to put down roots in farming, USDA continues to help grow a new generation of farmers.” The new microloan program is part of USDA’s strategy to help rebuild the rural economy and population, Vilsack added. Farmers may apply for a microloan at their local FSA office.

YL chairman draws from dairy management experience Brent Pollard, Rockford, hopes to provide guidance to fellow farmers as the new chairman of the Illinois Farm Bureau Young Leader State Committee. Pollard was selected chairman last month at the IFB annual meeting in Chicago. He will be assisted this year by Brent Pollard Vice Chairman Jared Finegan (Ford-Iroquois county), Secretary Matt Rush (Wayne), and sub-committee chairmen Matthew Starr (Hancock), John Klemm (DeWitt), and Dale Pitstick (Kane). “I’m trying to help guide the Young Leader Committee to best serve Young Leaders throughout the state,” said

Pollard, who is in his third year on the state committee. “We’re putting a lot of emphasis on the most effective ways to utilize the program and develop leaders.” Pollard will draw on his experience as a farmer and dairy manager in his new role on the committee. He is the managing partner, with his parents, Warren and Gail, of a 100-cow dairy operation in Winnebago County. Pollard’s wife, Carrie, also helps on the operation. The couple last September welcomed the birth of their first child, a daughter, Ainsley. The Pollards produce feed on 250 acres for the dairy cows, and Brent helps his father farm 500 acres of cropland. “We raise all our own feed so, even though there were challenges this year (with feed

YL Conference slated Friday, Saturday The Illinois Farm Bureau Young Leader Conference will be held this Friday and Saturday at the Marriott Hotel and Conference Center in Normal. The theme of this year’s event is “Unleash Your Potential.” Keynote speakers at this year’s event are Jay Lehr, economist and futurist, IFB President Philip Nelson, and Baxter Black, a cowboy humorist. “It’ll be a great event for networking and leadership development for Young Leaders,” said YL State Committee Chairman Brent Pollard of Rockford. Educational sessions on Saturday will cover topics such as protecting the family farm, foods that fight disease, local and regional food in the mainstream, and selecting the best federal crop insurance policy for your operation. Walk-in participants are welcome at the conference but they’re not guaranteed a hotel room or conference materials. Registration will be open from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. Friday and from 7 a.m. to 8 a.m. Saturday. quantity and quality), we don’t have any problems (with the herd) I’m aware of at this time.” The Pollards in the summer of 2011 built a new

free-stall barn. As a result, milk production increased. “I’ve always had a lot of interest in dairy cows,” Pollard said. “But as a dairy farmer,

there’s not a whole lot of time off. So it will be a challenge and privilege to serve the Young Leader State Committee.” Pollard joined Young Leaders in 2006 after he was elected to the Winnebago County Farm Bureau board. He hopes to increase Young Leaders’ involvement in the legislative process this year. “And we always push state and county efforts for the Harvest-for-All program, which helps fight local hunger,” he said. IFB Young Leaders each year donate food, volunteer hours, and money to food shelters around the state. An estimated 15 percent of Illinoisans live in poverty while the number of state residents on food stamps since 2009 has increased 41 percent. — Daniel Grant

Vilsack, young farmers: Agriculture labor a crucial issue BY MARTIN ROSS FarmWeek

Farmers must share their voices and faces with policymakers if they hope to secure the workforce crucial to the industry’s future, young ag leaders argued last week in Nashville. Ag labor was the openinground topic for the American Farm Bureau Federation (AFBF) Discussion Meet as 2012 Illinois Farm Bureau Young Leader Discussion Meet winner Ann Larson of Shabbona shared thoughts on ag worker policy. Larson competed in the meet’s final four round. In comments at AFBF’s annual meeting, Ag Secretary Tom Vilsack stressed “agriculture has a stake in the immigration debate.” Beyond addressing labor deficiencies, Vilsack suggested the issue “is

one way (farmers) can reach out to the evangelical faith community” and other immigrant rights advocates for ag policy support. AFBF delegates followed up last week with approval of policies supporting labor reforms. North Carolina Extension agent and Discussion Meet participant Travis Birdsell deemed Farm Bureau “the unbiased voice that can bring us together.” Larson, who works for an animal health/pharmaceutical company, noted the wideranging, cross-sector impacts of ag labor issues. “The industry I work in works a lot with livestock and dairy producers,” the University of Wisconsin-Platteville graduate told FarmWeek. “They rely heavily on immigrant workers.

Ann Larson

“I hope American Farm Bureau will support (federal) policy that makes it not as daunting for farmers to get what they need — to get laborers here and make sure they can work without losing an extraordinary amount of money bringing them here,

housing them, or transporting them, Larson said prior to delegate debates. “I hope we work on a policy that takes in the diversity of agriculture and makes sure we’re supporting all those diverse industries equally.” AFBF has joined with a diverse Agriculture Workforce Coalition in supporting policy aimed at addressing the needs of both employers with seasonal labor needs and those who provide year-round employment opportunities. Georgia Young Farmer Matt Bottoms argued during the Discussion Meet that congressional polarization over immigration/border issues “leaves farmers like me shorthanded.” Further, Birdsell challenged an emerging patchwork of state immigration laws. He noted many migrant workers

are “afraid to go through Georgia on their traditional route to work in North Carolina, because of Georgia’s new “show-me-your-papers” law. That affects North Carolina’s Christmas tree industry. Discussion Meet participants agreed to the need to put a human face on immigration issues, whether that face is a long-term, responsible seasonal worker or a producer facing lost revenues as a result of an inadequate workforce. “American Farm Bureau is a grassroots organization,” Larson said. “We’re hoping we can go to those grassroots and pull people for personal testimonials on why they need immigrant workers, why the current programs aren’t working. With that ammo, American Farm Bureau can get something done in D.C.”

Page 5 Monday, January 21, 2013 FarmWeek


Crowder: Trade ‘is where the action is’ BY MARTIN ROSS FarmWeek

U.S.’ trade opportunities “have never been greater and are just going to get better,” former U.S. Trade Representative chief ag negotiator Richard Crowder told FarmWeek last week. However, the rules of the game — and indeed how the global game is played — are changing, he cautioned. Trade Promotion Authority (TPA) — also known as “fast track” authority — is key to the U.S. staying ahead of the game, the Virginia Tech international trade professor said following Illinois Farm Bureau’s annual American Farm Bureau Federation (AFBF) state breakfast last week in Nashville, Tenn.

‘Without trade, profitable growth in U.S. agriculture is just an inconsistent term.’ — Richard Crowder former U.S. Trade Representative chief ag negotiator

Crowder, recipient of AFBF’s 2013 Distinguished Service Award, joined ag attaches from a number of countries and state Farm Bureau representatives from throughout Country Financial’s service territory at the gathering. IFB nominated Crowder for the AFBF honor. “Trade is where the action is,” he maintained. “Without trade, profitable growth in U.S.

agriculture is just an inconsistent term. We need trade for growth. “Crop exports are even better than what the numbers say. A lot of crops are being exported in the form of beef, in the form of poultry, in the form of pork … these things are key to prices and profitability. “I think we’re going to see more trade, but trade is going

to be more volatile. Decisions are not totally market-based at times. They’re domestically as well as internationally driven.” Crowder acknowledged the prospective benefits of Russia’s accession to the World Trade Organization (WTO) and the U.S.’ subsequent approval of permanent normal trade relations with the former Soviet state. Crowder said he was skepti-

cal about near-term progress in the stalled WTO Doha Round of multilateral trade talks. While multilateral negotiations are key to improving a “rules-based trading system,” he argued bilateral and regional trade agreements will continue to be integral to U.S. market growth. He nonetheless stressed Congress has a key role to play in building U.S.’ trade capabilities. TPA is a crucial tool in assuring good-faith negotiations with trading partners “and shows a real commitment to trade,” he said. “What we cannot do is become a residual supplier by not having trade agreements with our partners when our competitors do,” Crowder said.

Trans-Pacific Partnership offers larger forum to address trade barriers A prospective Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) agreement could set the stage for a new world trade regimen that might result in fewer trade disruptions for both exporters and importers. That’s according to Dennis Stephens, former head of the Canada Grains Council, who deems the TPP an “extremely important trade negotiation” for global grain traders. TPP talks currently involve Australia, Brunei Darussalam, Chile, Canada, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore, the U.S., and Vietnam. Japan is still mulling participation, while South Korea declined the U.S.’ invitation to join the talks. Where recent U.S. agreements with Colombia and South Korea focused on reducing or eliminating tariffs or duties on U.S. imports,

Stephens said he believes current east-west talks offer a “unique opportunity” to set down basic “todos and not-to-dos” in health and safety or biotech product issues. “In the grain industry, whether it be at the producer level or further downstream at the exporter or processor level on the import side, there’s increasing concern about the number of disruptions being caused by non-tariff trade barriers,” Stephens told FarmWeek at last week’s American Farm Bureau Federation annual meeting in Nashville. “While in the past, most of our bilateral or regional agreements have focused more on tariff issues, rather than on non-tariff trade issues, we suggest that it’s the time now to significantly increase the priority of non-tariff trade barriers within our multilateral or bilateral negotiations. “These are some of the things

that need to be drawn forward into an international treaty of some type that will attempt to ensure that the true need to protect our respective environments or our food or health are in place, but we do it in a manner that does not unnecessarily disrupt trade and thereby increase costs or possibly threaten food security.” For example, Stephens argued evolving testing technologies “far exceed our capability” to deliver commodities or products with a zero threshold for biotech content, leading to increasingly frequent trade disruptions. Stephens said he is pleased that the TPP offers a bridge not only between more affluent traders and developing countries but also between “traditional exporters and traditional importers.” He noted the U.S., Canada, and

Mexico already are linked by the North American Free Trade Agreement, while other participants such as Australia are “very similar in their approach to trade.” Meanwhile, many Asian rim nations “are beginning to realize the importance of improved market access provisions,” Stephens said. “While sometimes we sit as an exporter and say, ‘This is a big problem because it increases our costs,’ it’s probably of greater concern to an importing country,” Stephens said. “When that market disruption occurs, it means that that country’s importers no longer have the product they committed to having to process in their mills. That suddenly creates a whole chain reaction that ultimately hits the consumer, who may not have food on the shelves.” — Martin Ross

Animal welfare debate grows; global approach varies Whether it’s by consumer revolution in Germany or collaborative evolution in Canada, animal welfare issues are continuing to take center stage in the global arena, according to international ag attaches. In 2011, German ag officials convened farm and consumer groups to determine emerging ag policy issues. Animal welfare proved a “high-ranking point,” reported Thomas Schmidt, German minister counselor for agriculture and food. “The funny thing is, we have more members in animal rights organizations than in political parties in Germany,” Schmidt told FarmWeek at Illinois Farm

Bureau’s annual American Farm Bureau Federation state breakfast in Nashville. “As you might see, there is a huge amount of pressure on politicians.” He noted Germany has moved from small poultry cages to a “more-or-less” free-range environment. On Jan. 1, the European Union (EU) imposed a partial ban on sow stalls that resulted largely from German activist pressure on the governing European Commission. Compliance with new sow restrictions nonetheless varies across the EU. While the Netherlands is among those on the forefront of new requirements, Schmidt said many other

Eastern European countries “understand that they have to adapt” but recognize the economic limitations that can be placed on their smaller producers. Schmidt acknowledged producer concerns about the cost of new restrictions, and noted some governments have provided subsidies to help farmers transition. Eastern European countries generally don’t have those resources, he said. “Consumers probably wish the change would be faster,” Schmidt said. “The politicians try to find a way that farmers can adapt in time but don’t go bankrupt because of it.” In Canada, the animal

welfare dialogue has been ongoing and more broadly balanced. On-farm practices are regulated at the provincial level, though the Canadian national government shares ag jurisdiction and works with regional officials on issues such as slaughter and transportation that cross provincial lines. Jeanette Patell, first secretary for agriculture with Washington’s Canadian embassy, reported gestation stalls have drawn public scrutiny in her country, as well. However, since the ‘80s, species-specific issues have been the focus of a roundtable including industry representatives, provincial

and federal officials, scientists, and the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, which in Canada enjoys a “quasi-governmental mandate.” That effort provides an established mechanism for dealing with welfare issues. Thus Patell sees “a different dynamic” in Canada than that in the U.S., where “huge campaigns” have emerged. “It’s certainly an issue consumers are paying attention to,” she told Far mWeek. “We’ve not had the same profile attached to it as you might see in the U.S., with groups like HSUS (the Humane Society of the U.S.).” — Martin Ross

FarmWeek Page 6 Monday, January 21, 2013

Specialty cropS

Drought magnifies needs for irrigation systems BY DANIEL GRANT FarmWeek

Many specialty crop growers managed to produce a crop, or a portion of a crop, during last year’s drought because of their irrigation systems. Jeff Kindhart, senior research specialist at the University of Illinois Dixon Springs Agricultural Center in Southern Illinois, believes most specialty crop growers in the state use some type of irrigation. But changes are likely this year as the drought magnified shortcomings of some irrigation systems and highlighted the need for at least some type of system for specialty crop farmers who still rely on Mother Nature to water their crops. There were reports of some total crop losses last year on non-irrigated farmland. Irrigation was an emerg-

Mark Torkelson of Indiana Irrigation Co. demonstrates some components of an irrigation system to Tod Satterthwaite of Urbana at the Illinois Specialty Crops, AgriTourism, and Organic Conference in Springfield. The event was hosted by the Illinois Specialty Growers Association. (Photo by Cyndi Cook)

ing issue discussed recently at the Illinois Specialty Crops, Agritourism, and Organic Conference hosted by the Illinois Specialty

Growers Association in Springfield. “Most (specialty crop) growers already have some type of (irrigation) system


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in place,” Kindhart said. “That said, it (the drought) taxed those systems awfully hard.” Some irrigation water sources ran low or dried up last year, he noted. In other cases, water quality was an issue. “Some guys’ ponds went dry last year,” Kindhart said.

“Some will respond by making deeper ponds or by punching new or better wells.” Farmers who install irrigation systems this year or seek additional sources of water should get a water test/analysis of the potential source, according to Mark Torkelson of Indiana Irrigation Co., who has been working with Illinois growers for 35 years. A water test will reveal what types of solids, minerals, and bacteria are in the water. “It (a water test) will tell you if it will be a good source (for irrigation),” Torkelson said. Farmers who install drip irrigation systems also should use a flow meter, filters, and air vents to prevent clogs in the system. “The biggest problem I see is with volume and pressure issues,” Kindhart told specialty crop farmers at the conference. “It behooves you to work with a professional dealer to get a system designed and set up correctly.” New technology allows farmers to monitor their irrigation systems and soil moisture conditions remotely on smartphones or computers.

Driftwatch identifying more pesticide-sensitive crops, sites BY KAY SHIPMAN FarmWeek

Driftwatch, a state website that identifies farms with pesticide-sensitive crops, gained additional users during the second year of operation. Recently, Warren Goetsch, bureau chief of environmental programs with the Illinois Department of Agriculture (IDOA), reported increases in registered sensitive sites and pesticide applicators. Driftwatch is a voluntary program that allows farmers and beekeepers to register and map pesticide-sensitive locations online and to provide contact information. The site is intended for commercial operations, not small gardens. The number of registered beekeepers more than doubled last year from 84 to 177 with 1,600 hive locations listed. The number of grape growers who registered their crop sites also increased from 58 to 68. Another increase came in the number of Warren Goetsch participating pesticide applicators who designated “an area of interest,” Goetsch said. Pesticide applicators may register and sign up for electronic notification when sensitive locations are registered within their service areas. The significant numbers of site accesses “suggest people are using the site,” Goetsch said. “We saw increases in every area,” he added. There is no cost to register sensitive crops or locations. 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 locations of pesticide-sensitive sites and crops. The website is {}.

Page 7 Monday, January 21, 2013 FarmWeek

Farm economy

Economist predicts drop in livestock production, higher prices BY DANIEL GRANT FarmWeek

Drought conditions in recent months eased or disappeared around most parts of Illinois. But the impact of the drought likely will continue to influence commodity markets this year and possibly into 2014, according to economists last week at the American Farm Bureau Federation annual meeting in Nashville. “With record-high feed costs and the drought, we’re producing less meat,” David Anderson, livestock economist at Texas A & M, told the RFD

‘We have one of the tightest supplies of cows in the past 50 years.’ — David Anderson Economist, Texas A & M

Radio Network. “We’ll produce less until prices go up enough to cover costs.” Anderson believes livestock feeders were hit the hardest by the drought as on-farm grain/forage production declined and commercial feed prices escalated.

Chicago Farmers to host farmland investment fair The Chicago Farmers’ farmland investment fair will be from 8 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 2, in Joliet Junior College’s Weitendorf Agricultural Education Center, Joliet. The early registration deadline is Saturday. This year’s fair will feature 18 seminars. In addition to the educational sessions, a diverse blend of exhibit booths will cover all aspects of buying and selling farmland. The early registration fee of $50 includes access to the exhibit hall, all breakout sessions, and lunch. After Saturday, the fee is $75. To register, call 312-388-3276, register online at {} with a credit card, or download the brochure/registration form and mail with a check.

USDA last month reported the inventory of cattle on feed was down 6 percent from a year ago. “We have one of the tightest supplies of cows in the past 50 years,” Anderson said. “I look for a fairly substantial decline in beef production (4-6 percent) this year and, with that, some higher (retail beef and cattle) prices.” Anderson also looks for a small pull-back in hog production the first half of this year before higher prices encourage expansion of the hog herd the second half of 2013 and into 2014. Ron Plain, University of Missouri economist, recently predicted hog prices this year will average in the low $80s per hundredweight the first quarter and then jump to the low-$90s in the second and third quarters. USDA earlier this month

SOUTH AMERICA IS TAKING OUR PLACE. Scary thought, isn’t it? The good news is we can do something about it every time we choose a soybean variety to put into the ground. If we start getting closer to 35 percent protein and 19 percent oil, our beans would be a lot more attractive to domestic livestock producers and foreign markets—and we’d help stop the loss of export share to Brazil and other foreign competitors. It’s time to talk with your seed dealer or Certified Crop Adviser about protein and oil. Then visit to validate your seed selection and for more information.

Cattle feeding is expected to decline in the U.S. this year due to dwindling herd numbers. Beef production as a result could decline by 4 to 6 percent, David Anderson, livestock economist at Texas A & M, told the RFD Radio Network. He predicted cattle prices will increase this year. (File photo by Ken Kashian)

lowered ending stocks of corn by 44 million bushels and of wheat by 38 million bushels. Ending stocks of soybeans were raised 5 million bushels but remain tight at 135 million bushels. Chad Hart, Iowa State University economist, believes tight crop supplies and higherthan-expected feed demand will keep pressure on crop/feed prices the first half of this year.

“There’s no doubt the drought was a major influence on the crop markets in 2012 (when prices raced to historic highs),” he said. “I’d argue that influence will continue as we look forward in 2013.” USDA this month increased its estimate of corn used for livestock feed by 300 million bushels to 4.5 billion bushels. USDA boosted its wheat feed estimate by 35 million bushels.

FarmWeek Page 8 Monday, January 21, 2013

Natural resourCes

Kaskaskia basin water supply projected to meet future needs Coulterville, and Farina, each of whose water supplies were projected to be most sensitive to A 22-county Southeastern Illinois region has drought. access to enough water to meet its needs The communities of Fairfield, Mount Olive, through 2050, according to a comprehensive and Staunton also were projected to be at risk regional water supply plan. for water shortages during a severe drought. A regional planning committee approved the The plan recommends continued regional comprehensive Kaskaskia management of the Basin water supply plan in Kaskaskia Basin with reglate December. Last week ular meetings of individuthe plan and supporting als representing different ‘We found the region as a sectors and geographic materials were posted online at {heartlandsconwhole seems to have an regions. “The committee}. found it helpful to have adequate water supply.’ The Kaskaskia Basin all entities sitting at the became the third region table,” McCreary noted. with a water supply plan. In addition, local water — Allie McCreary conservation efforts The others are the EastHeartLands Conservancy Central Illinois Mahomet should be supported Aquifer region and the within the region, accordChicago area and Northing to the plan. east Illinois region. The planning committee ended its function “We found the region as a whole seems to after it approved the final plan. have an adequate water supply,” Allie McCreary, The Kaskaskia Watershed Association has environmental programs technician with the taken ownership of the regional water supply HeartLands Conservancy, told FarmWeek. plan and will coordinate the plan’s periodic The region’s primary water supply is surface review. water sources that include two federally conIllinois Farm Bureau Director Darryl trolled reservoirs, Lake Shelbyville and Carlyle Brinkmann, Carlyle, represented Farm Bureau Lake. on the planning committee. The plan identified a few communities that For more information about the regional could face water shortages during a severe plan, contact McCreary at 618-566-4451, extendrought. The committee recommended drought sion 21 or allie.mccreary@heartlandconservanpreparedness efforts take place in Altamont,


Nutrient management, cover crops focus of Lake Springfield watershed meeting Farmers in the Lake Springfield Watershed will be able to hear about management practices from 1 to 4 p.m. Feb. 8 in the Holy Cross Hall, Auburn. Reservations are requested by Feb. 6. Howard Brown, GROWMARK manager of agronomy services, will discuss efforts to protect water resources and technology being used to help farmers improve nutrient management by applying the right source at the right rate, right time, and right place. Joel Gruver, assistant professor at Western Illinois University and manager of an 80-acre research farm, will discuss cover crop research and the value of cover crops in suppressing weeds and improving nutrient cycling and soil health. Hal Pyle, district conservationist with the Sangamon County Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS), will cover a soil-erosion study and government farm programs that may be used to implement nutrient management, conservation tillage, and cover crops. For information or reservations, contact the county Soil and Water Conservation District office at 217-241-6635, extension 3 or email

Teachers sought for wind energy education program The Illinois Wind for Schools (ILWFS) program is accepting applications from middle school and high school teachers in Illinois public school districts. The application deadline is March 1. Three to five middle and/or high schools will be selected for the 2013-2014 academic year as partner schools for intensive support through on-site teacher training and classroom resources. This will be the second year for the program. ILWFS applications are available at {}. Eligible teachers include those who teach math, science, agriculture, industrial technology, engineering, and related subjects. An open-enrollment generalize workshop will be available to all schools interested in incorporating wind energy into their curriculums. Schools selected for the program will be notified by April 2. The program offers curriculum development resources, professional development, on-site technical assistance, and instructional equipment. The wind energy curriculum includes lesson plans in energy and electricity, wind and weather, turbines and engineering, environmental considerations, and economics. This initiative is made possible through Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity grant funding. It is sponsored through a partnership with the Illinois Institute for Rural Affairs at Western Illinois University (WIU), WIU College of Business and Technology, and Illinois State University’s Center for Renewable Energy and College of Education. For more information regarding the Illinois Wind for Schools program, contact WIU’s Jolene Willis at 309-2982835 or ISU’s Matt Aldeman at 309-438-1440, or go to the {} website.

Page 9 Monday, January 21, 2013 FarmWeek


Leadership opens doors to unique U of I housing BY KAY SHIPMAN FarmWeek

Leadership experience offers new, more affordable, housing opportunities for women students at the University of Illinois’ UrbanaChampaign campus. For the first time in 78 years, 4-H membership no longer will be required to apply to live in 4-H House, 805 W. Ohio, a cooperative near campus. Now, young women with at least three years of leadership experience who are currently enrolled at the U of I, the dual-admission program with Parkland College, or high school seniors who will enroll next fall will be permitted to reside in 4-H House, according to Kayla Hedrick, a 4-H House alum.

The leadership experience may include membership in 4H, FFA, or another national youth organization, student council, or some other experience that involved leadership positions, Hedrick explained. The house offers cooperative living arrangements, meaning each resident helps with cooking, cleaning, and general maintenance. “It helps keep the cost down,� Hedrick noted. Currently, 4-H House residents save 64 percent compared to university dorm housing costs. House leaders and residents will interview interested students on Feb. 8-9 and March 9-10. For more information, go online to {} or contact Laura Child at 217344-4784.

4-H House women discuss college and home life during a dinner prepared by fellow residents. (Left to right are) Tess Tucker, Alexis Foster, Lizzy Kephart, Kelsie Ubbenga, Ashley McCoy, Anna Nugent, Liz Koehler, and Aleisha Finger. (Photo courtesy Erin Ehnle, 4-H House)

Prospective U of I students invited to ExplorACES The University of Illinois College of Agricultural, Consumer, and Environmental Sciences (ACES) is inviting prospective and enrolled students to ExplorACES Friday and Saturday, March 8 and 9. The hours will be 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. on March 8 and 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. on March 9. More than 2,000 students are expected to attend the student-run event that acquaints students with the college’s faculty, curriculum, and student organizations. Information will be available on study-abroad pro-

grams, potential careers, and how students may apply for nearly $2 million in scholarships. More than 125 exhibits will showcase academics, research, and student development. A reception for admitted students will complete Saturday’s activities at the Student Dining and Residential Programs Building. “ExplorACES is the ultimate opportunity to learn more about the college, especially if you are a soon-to-be high-school graduate or transfer student interested in fin-

Auction Calendar

ery and misc. Ronald Janke Estate, STREATOR, IL. Bradleys’ and Immke Auction Service. Sat., Feb. 9. 9:30 a.m. Retirement Auction. John R. and Shelia Hathaway, HARRISBURG, I L. Jamie Scherrer Auction. Sat., Feb. 16. 10 a.m. Jackson and Union Co.’s Land Auc. JACOB, IL. Thurs., Feb. 21. 10 a.m. Farm machinery. Mike and Susan Seitzinger, LAWRENCEVILLE, IL. Parrott Auctions. or id 4851 Fri., Feb. 22. 9 a.m. Consignment Auction. MORRIS, IL. Richard A. Olson and Assoc. Fri., Feb. 22. 6 p.m. Edwards Co. Farmland Auction. The Melvin W. Crackel Trust and Nadine M. Crackel Trust, ALBION, IL. Barnard Auctions. id 2008 Sat., Feb. 23. 10 a.m. Gallatin Co Land Auc. Tues., Feb. 26. Douglas Co. Land Auc. Justus Seaman Trust Farm. Soy Capital Ag Services. Sat., Mar. 2. 9 a.m. Farm & Construction Eq. Consignment Auc. TREMONT, IL. Cal Kaufman and Brent Schmidgall, Auctioneers. or Thurs., Mar. 7. Spring Farm Closeout and Consignment Auc. Agri-Tech, Inc, RAYMOND, IL. Thurs., Mar. 7. McLean Co. Farmland Auc. Soy Capital Ag Services.

Mon., Jan. 21. 9 a.m. Farm Machinery Con. Auc. MT. ERIE, IL. Wed., Jan. 23. Online Only Unreserved Auction. Fri., Jan. 25. 10 a.m. Bureau Co. Farmland Auc. Lucille Pinter Est., CHERRY, IL. Rediger Auction Service and Brummel Realty, LLC. or Sat, Jan. 26. 10 a.m. Retirement Farm Auction. Dean and Helen Rankin, ALEXIS, IL. Van Adkisson Auction Service, LLLC. or Tues., Jan. 29. 10 a.m. Farm Eq. Auc. James K. and Carolyn R. Deppe, ASHLAND, IL. Middendorf Bros. Wed., Jan. 30. Online Only Unreserved Auction. Wed., Jan. 30. 10 a.m. Farmland by Sealed Bid. Estate of Gene Graff, MINIER, IL. Thomas E. Davies, Attorney. or Thurs., Jan. 31. 10 a.m. Christian Co. Land Auc. Mary D. Andersen Trust, STONINGTON, IL. Wm. Beck Auc. and Realty. Fri., Feb. 1. 1 p.m. Menard Co. Land Auc. William and Katherine Sherman Trust, GREENVIEW, IL. Sanert Auction Serv. Sat., Feb. 2. 9:30 a.m. Farm machinery and misc. Anthony “Tony� Rider, RIDGWAY, IL. Jamie Scherrer Auc. Co. Thurs., Feb. 7. 10 a.m. Farm machin-

ishing a bachelor’s degree,� said Jason Emmert, ACES assistant dean of academic programs. Although prospective and admitted students are the target audience, families are encouraged to attend. “ExplorACES is really about providing students and their families the opportunity to understand what ACES has

to offer,� Emmert said. Current ACES students have been planning the event since last September. “We’ve all been in their shoes and know how hard it can be to choose a college, but this event is shaped to help prospective students imagine themselves as students in the College of ACES,� said Ellen Reeder,

ExplorACES co-director. Event coordinators have helped make the campus more accessible by providing free parking and free shuttle service to and from parking lot E14, just west of the Assembly Hall. For more information, go to {} or connect with ExplorACES on Facebook and Twitter.

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FarmWeek Page 10 Monday, January 21, 2013

Specialty cropS

New IDOA campaign targets Illinois fruits and vegetables BY KAY SHIPMAN FarmWeek

Illinois-grown fruits and vegetables star in a new marketing campaign by the Illinois Department of Agriculture (IDOA). IDOA is accepting applications for free marketing materials from Illinois grocery stores and farmers’ markets that sell locally grown fruits and vegetables. Jennifer Jennifer Tirey Tirey, head of IDOA’s marketing and promotion bureau, told FarmWeek and RFD Illinois last week the goal is to distribute materials to 200 stores and 100 markets. The materials will feature the revamped “Illinois where fresh is” logo. The application deadline is Feb. 15. Selected applicants will receive a vinyl banner and

1,000 stickers by March 15. The campaign is being funded by a USDA specialty crop grant. However, any grower or entity that sells Illinois fruits and vegetables may submit a free application for approval to download and use the “fresh is” logo, according to Tirey. Single-page application forms are available online at {}. Tirey plans to compile a webpage of stores and farmers’ markets that will be participating in the campaign. In addition, Central and Southern Illinois residents may notice radio and television commercials promoting the campaign and locally grown fruits and vegetables later this year, she added. Tirey explained the goal is to sell more Illinois produce by letting consumers know when it is available. She illustrated with a grocery store owner’s comment: “I put a sign out it’s local and it sells.”

Specialty crop growers adjust to the challenging conditions BY DANIEL GRANT FarmWeek

Last season wasn’t a total loss for many specialty crop growers. In fact, some farmers at the Illinois Specialty Crops, Agritourism, and Organic Conference in Springfield reported above-average crops last year despite the worst drought in a quarter century. Keys to specialty crop production, as always, included the timing of planting, harvest, and access to water. “If you don’t have water (for irrigation), don’t even attempt to do this (grow specialty crops),” said Dale Conrady, who operates Backwoods Berry Farm in Hettick (Macoupin County) with his wife, Becky. The Conradys use irrigation from eight surface acres of water in four ponds on their farm to irrigate asparagus, strawberries, blueberries, and peaches, and other specialty crops. They harvested an excellent strawberry crop but lost a significant portion of their blueberries to the excessive summer heat. Last year was the second-warmest on record in the state. “The strawberries were great,” Conrady said. “Any dry year we usually have a smaller-sized product, but the sugar is concentrated so the fruit is better.” Backwoods Berry Farm was able to cut down on fungicide and insecticide applications last year because insect and plant disease activity was reduced by the hot, dry conditions, Becky Conrady said. The Conradys plan to upgrade their irrigation system in preparation for the next crop. “We stretched our irrigation to its limit last year,” Dale said. “We’ll definitely have to make some changes (for this season).” One recent change Becky Conrady made to the operation was to provide daily picking conditions on Facebook. “I was amazed how well it worked,” Dale said. “You can turn a crowd on or off (by posting crop conditions on Facebook).” More information about the Conrady’s operation is available online at {}. Jerry Mills, who operates Mills Apple Farm in Marine (Madison County), said his established trees produced bumper crops of apples and peaches last year. But the drought killed the majority of his new plantings. “One of the things I did last year was I dug holes at the root zone of all my (older) peaches (trees) and dumped water in there,” he said. “It kept them alive.” Mills plans to plant more trees this year and water all of them directly at the root zone.

Illinois grain, livestock reports now more accessible




The latest Illinois grain and livestock reports are now three mouse clicks away. Market News, a joint service of USDA and the Illinois Department of Agriculture (IDOA) redesigned its page on the IDOA website to make the information easier to find and the site easier to navigate. Go to {} and click on “Grain & Livestock Prices” in the brown bar at the top of the page. You will be directed to the Market News page where reports are listed under six menus, such as the Illinois grain reports menu. Other menus include links to audio reports, Illinois livestock reports, Illinois hay reports, U.S. regional and national reports, and national agricultural statistics reports.

Illinois farmers’ markets SNAP sales a record U S DA U n d e r S e c r e t a r y Ke v i n C o n c a n n o n l a s t we e k announced a record number of Illinois farmers’ markets last year sold produce to low-income people who use federal food assistance. Speaking last week in Chicago, Concannon said wireless technology and USDA grants helped increase electronic sales at farmers’ markets and roadside stands. In Chicago alone, SNAP (formerly food stamp) sales more than doubled between 2011 and 2012. Statewide, SNAP sales at farmers’ markets and direct farm sales totaled more than $191,000.

Page 11 Monday, January 21, 2013 FarmWeek

ifb in action

49 members named to Action Teams The Illinois Farm Bureau Board of Directors recently named 49 members who will serve on the 2013 IFB Action Teams. Action Teams will meet twice in 2013 to develop recommendations to the IFB board for statewide organization projects and programs in education, membership, quality of life, and public relations. Recent team projects include ads on buses that travel the University of Illinois campus, digital photo frames with pre-programmed health and safety messages, an ag ambassador at the college level, and signs identifying family farms along the U.S. 47 corridor in Northern Illinois. Team members, including chairs and vice chairs, and their county Farm Bureaus are: Education: Carleen Paul,

Madison, chair; Dana White, Woodford, vice-chair; Sharon Barr, Hancock; Audrey Davis, McHenry; Megan Dwyer, Henry; Jesse Faber, Livingston; Tom Feltes, DuPage; Gayle Harris, Clay; Bob Johnson, Grundy; Deanna Keeney, Clark; David King, Tazewell; Gale Koelling, Washington; John O’Neill, Fulton; Leonard Sheaffer, Lee; Dale Wachtel, Effingham; and Nancy Wisted, McLean. Membership: Darrin Storm, Shelby, chair; Monica Green, Douglas, vice-chair; Claire Benjamin, Champaign; Phillip Butler, Warren-Henderson; David Headley, Fulton; Linda Wikoff, Knox; Kaylee Williams, Champaign; and Bridget Verbeck, Champaign. Public Relations: Mitch Heisler, Henry, chair; Kevin Miller, Effingham, vice-chair; Jesse Edlefson, Henry; Mike

U of I offering farm analysis tool workshops The University of Illinois will offer four February workshops to help farmers understand and use FAST (farm analysis solution tools). The sessions are designed to help participants consider potential return scenarios for 2013 and perform financial analysis. The dates and locations are: Feb. 5, Stephenson County Extension office, Freeport; Feb. 21, Jefferson County Extension

office, Mt. Vernon; Feb. 26, Knox County Extension office, Galesburg; and Feb. 28, Champaign County Extension office, Champaign. The registration deadline is one week before the scheduled workshop. Each workshop will start at 9:30 a.m. and end at 3 p.m. FAST is a series of Microsoft Excel spreadsheets that help users make farm business decisions. They offer guidance in livestock management, financial analysis, investment analysis, loan analysis, farm management, grain marketing and management, and risk management. The morning session will focus on crop insurance options for 2013. The afternoon session will demonstrate the balance sheet tool features. Each participant will have access to a laptop computer as part of the registration fee. However, participants may bring their own laptops equipped with a DVD drive and Microsoft Excel, version 2003 or higher. Each participant will receive a copy of the FAST software, workshop notes, a one-year subscription to FAST updates, and lunch. The registration fee is $85. Checks should be made payable to the U of I. To register, send the date and workshop location desired along with your name, address, phone number, and email to: FAST Tools, 326 Mumford Hall, 1301 W. Gregory Drive, Urbana, Ill., 61801. Direct questions to the U of I’s Ryan Batts at 217-333-1817 or at

Hennenfent, Knox; Bob Kapraun, Woodford; Deborah Moore, Warren-Henderson; Diane Murphy, Montgomery; Vernon Schiller, McHenry; Rob Sharkey, Bureau; Karl Spencer, Jasper; Katrina Stoller, Livingston; Kevin Urick, Henry; Steve Weber, Henry; and Nick Wurl, Effingham. Quality of Life: David Wessel, Cass-Morgan, chair; Marion Barr, Hancock, vicechair; Roger Christin, Winnebago-Boone; Ray Dieter, Livingston; Don DuVall, White; Elaine Kapraun, Woodford; Julie Kern-Morrison, Sangamon; Steve Launius, Washington; Christina Lionts, Sangamon; Paul Rickey, Warren-Henderson; and Diane Truckenbrod, LaSalle. Leading the Action Coordinating Council are Carleen Paul, Madison, chair and David Wessel, Cass-Morgan, vice chair.

FB sharpening focus on members’ involvement with FB ACT Policy development and implementation are hallmarks of Illinois Far m Bureau, and IFB continues to put a premium on member involvement in policy implementation. Members can be a part of the decisionmaking process and make their voices heard through FB ACT (Far m Bureau Agricultural Contact Team). FB ACT is an IFB program for members, and it works on the national, state, and local levels. When the need arises for contacts from FB ACT participants, they may be contacted in several different ways: a phone call from the local FB ACT chair man, an email, a text message to mobile phones, or a letter from the county Far m Bureau. The contact requested may be as simple as calling, emailing, or writing an elected official about issues important to agriculture. FB ACT participating members are expected to respond to every IFB action request and to vote in elections. For more insights on IFB action requests, read the column by Mark Gebhards, IFB executive director of governmental affairs and commodities, on page 16. To learn more about the program or to participate, go online to {} or contact your county Far m Bureau.

FarmWeek Page 12 Monday, January 21, 2013


Programs reach out to students, urban consumers, officials BY MARTIN ROSS FarmWeek

Their target audiences differed substantially: second graders, urban consumers, and Cook County officials whose decisions impact local farmers. But the aim was essentially the same for three Illinois county Farm Bureau ag awareness programs recognized last week at the American Farm Bureau Federation (AFBF) annual meeting in Nashville. As part of AFBF’s County Activities of Excellence (CAE) awards program, Cook County Farm Bureau introduced its county government staff exchange program to farmers from throughout the U.S., while Grundy County Farm Bureau touted its “Grow a Garden/Feed a Family” program and Livingston County Farm Bureau promoted its “Project PAIL” (Promoting Agriculture in Literature) educational program. ProjeCt PaIl offers a virtual bucket list of opportunities for ag education. Volunteers toting red pails containing literature and activities visited second grade classes as part of National Ag Month last March to reach the grade level where local participation in the Agriculture in the Classroom program was the lowest, Livingston County Ag Literacy Coordinator Debbie Ruff told FarmWeek. The Farm Bureau has been invited into roughly 80 percent of the area’s second grade classrooms. The program’s centerpiece is Cris Peterson’s “Seed, Soil, Sun,” a book that highlights the origins of many foods. Students were asked to identify a variety of farm and garden seeds. “For every answer, we gave them something they’re familiar with,” Ruff related. “With soybeans, we asked, ‘Do you like chocolate? Well, soy lecithin is what makes it so nice and creamy.’ “With pumpkins, we stated that we were the nation’s No. 1 producer and asked kids if they knew what other crop we were No. 1 in, so we could get a little about horseradish in there.” With a nod to Beanie Babies, the program provides children with the makings for a “kernel kid” — a small plastic bag, a wet cotton ball, yarn, and a corn cob from which three kernels are selected. The cotton ball serves as the medi-

um for germination inside the bag, and students can wear the bag around their neck to speed development. Ruff and company plan to continue the project this year. Grundy County’s Tammy Halterman anticipates Grow a Garden/Feed a Family being “bigger and better” in 2013. The Northern Illinois Farm Bureau connected with Illinois Valley Community Living Programs, which helps individuals with disabilities live independently, to cultivate a variety of vegetables in the then-idled garden of the Bob Wilkinson farm near Mazon. Along with learning the fundamentals of horticultural production by trial and error, “the girls” — as Halterman (Wilkinson’s daughter) calls the growing cadre of gardeners — have explored the joys of canning and jellymaking. “The girls have been planning since their last day, when they closed the garden down in October,” Halterman told FarmWeek. “They’re planning lots more vegetables — they want more root crops, possibly more potatoes, carrots, and possibly more melons. “We’re cleaning off another part of the garden to make it even bigger for them. It is their garden — I gave them advice, I gave them leadership, but it was their decisions. They learned, and they love it.” take a Walk on the Farm Side focused on cultivating ag awareness among county government staffers. According to Cook County Farm Bureau Director of Government Affairs Bona Heinsohn, the program focused on reinforcing that “agriculture’s alive and well” in the largely metro county and on building relationships with county elected officials. “At the time we took the individuals out to the farms, our county was debating incorporating all of Cook County,” Heinsohn noted. “We have about 62 square miles that are unincorporated, many of which are used by our farms. “The farm where we ended the program was in an unincorporated area. The staff member said, ‘We need to take a step back and look at these proposals, because incorporating a farm could definitely impact how it does its business.”

Outreach was a common theme for Illinois county Farm Bureau programs recognized through this year’s American Farm Bureau Federation County Activities of Excellence showcase in Nashville. Above, Grundy County Farm Bureau Manager Tasha Bunting ser ves up homemade jellies and preserves to promote h e r c o u n t y ’s “ G r o w a G a r den/Feed a Family” program, as Tammy Halterman of Dwight, left, and Jill Kodal of Morris look on. At left, Livingston County Ag Literacy Coordinator Debbie Ruff, left, and County Manager Teresa Grant-Quick illustrate how Project PAIL (Promoting Agriculture in Literature) takes second graders from seed to food. Below, Cook County Farm Bureau manager Bob Rohrer, center, and county board members Daniel and Karen Biernacki, right, discuss with exhibit hall visitors the county’s staf f exchange program, which helped local government workers understand the role of agriculture in the Chicago metro area. (Photos by Martin Ross)

Page 13 Monday, January 21, 2013 FarmWeek

from the counties


UREAU — Farm Bureau has a 2013 summer internship available for an agricultural student who has completed at least two semesters of college classes and has enrolled for an upcoming semester. Submit an application, resume, and two personal recommendation forms to the Farm Bureau office by Feb. 28. • Farm Bureau scholarships are available to students who are a Bureau County Farm Bureau member or a dependent of a Bureau County Farm Bureau member and are pursuing a degree in an agricultural-related field. Applications must be postmarked by Feb. 28 or hand delivered to the office by 4 p.m. Feb. 28. • The Young Leaders Committee will sponsor a farm labor pool listing for Bureau County residents. Contact the Farm Bureau office for forms and more information. Deadline for sign up is Feb. 28. ARROLL — Farm Bureau Foundation scholarship applications are available at the Farm Bureau office or at {}. Application deadline is March 1. • Prime Timers will meet at 7 p.m. Friday, Feb. 1, at the Farm Bureau building. Nancy Gable will speak about the Senior Center. Call the Farm Bureau office at 244-3001 for more information. HAMPAIGN — A truck regulation and crop insurance seminar will be from 8 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. Tuesday, Feb. 12, at Parkland College in the Tony Noel Center. Kevin Rund, Illinois Farm Bureau transportation expert, and Doug Yoder, Illinois Farm Bureau risk management specialist, will be the speakers. Call the Farm Bureau office at 352-5235 to register or for more information. LINTON — Farm Bureau Foundation scholarship applications are available at the Farm Bureau office. Call the Farm Bureau office at 526-7235 or email to request an application or for more information. OLES — Farm Bureau will sponsor a landowner meeting at 1:30 p.m. Thursday, Feb. 7, in the 4-H Building at the Coles County Fairground. Laura Harmon of the Illinois Farm Bureau general counsel’s office, and Ray Payne, IFB senior director of business and regulatory affairs, will discuss Ameren’s Illinois Rivers project and the rights of landowners. Call the Farm Bureau office at 345-3276 to





register or for more information. OOK — Farm Bureau members may purchase discounted Disney on Ice Rockin’ Ever After tickets. A full list of qualifying dates is available in the January CoOperator. To purchase tickets, call the United Center at 312455-7469, fax 312-455-4669, or mail to Group Sales, United Center, 1901 Madison St., Chicago, IL 60612. A $2 facility fee per ticket will apply. REENE — Farm Bureau Foundation scholarship applications are available at the Greene County Farm Bureau office and through high school agriculture departments and guidance counselors. Call the Farm Bureau office at 9426958 for more information. ACKSON — Farm Bureau will sponsor a market outlook program at 6 p.m. Tuesday, Jan. 29 at Southern FS in Marion. Dale Durchholz, AgriVisor market analyst, will be the speaker. Call the Farm Bureau office at 684-3129 for reservations or more information. • The annual all-committee meeting will be at 6 p.m. Thursday, Feb. 7, at 17th Street BBQ Annex. Call the Farm Bureau office at 6843129 for reservations or for more information by Feb. 1. ERSEY — Farm Bureau Foundation scholarship applications are available at the Farm Bureau office and through high school agriculture teachers and guidance counselors. Call the Farm Bureau office at 498-9576 for more information. AWRENCE — Farm Bureau will sponsor a blood drive from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Friday at the Lawernceville Wal-Mart. Call the Farm Bureau office at 943-2610 to sign up or for more information. • The annual meeting will be at 6 p.m. Monday, Feb. 11, at Central Christian Church, Lawrenceville. Call the Farm Bureau office at 943-2610 for reservations or more information. EE — Farm Bureau will form a committee to plan the county Farm Bureau’s 100th year celebration and to compile the history of the organization. Contact the Farm Bureau office at 857-3531 or email if you are interested in serving on the committee. • The Young Leaders will attend an Ice Hogs hockey game on Saturday, Feb. 16, in Rockford. Tickets are $12. Contact the Farm Bureau office at 857-3531 or email






L for more information or reservations. Deadline to register is Jan. 31. ARION — Farm Bureau scholarship applications are available at the Farm Bureau office. Call the Farm Bureau office at 548-2100 or email for an application or more information. ONROE — Farm Bureau will sponsor Viewpoint meetings at 8 a.m. Friday at the Corner Pub and at 6:30 p.m. Wednesday, Jan. 30, at Bully’s in Columbia. Call the Farm Bureau office at 939-6197 by Jan. 30 for reservations or for more information. • Mon-Clair Corn Growers annual meeting will be held at 6:30 p.m. Wednesday, Feb. 6, at Turkey Hill Grange in Belleville. Representatives from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers will speak. Call the Farm Bureau office at 9396197 or email by Jan. 30 for reservations or more information. EORIA — Farm Bureau will sponsor a crop insurance meeting at 9 a.m. Wednesday, Jan. 30, at the Farm Bureau Auditorium. Illinois Farm Bureau risk management specialist Doug Yoder will be the speaker. • Prime Timers will meet at 10 a.m. Wednesday, Feb. 6, at the new Caterpillar Museum in Peoria. Call the Farm Bureau office at 686-7070 for reservations and for more information. ERRY — Farm Bureau will sponsor a market outlook seminar at noon Wednesday at the Farm Bureau office in Pinckneyville. Dale Durchholz, AgriVisor market analyst, will be the speaker. Call the Farm Bureau office at 357-9355 for reservations or more information. • A charter bus going to the Louisville Farm Show will leave the Farm Bureau office at 5:30 a.m. Wednesday, Feb. 13. Cost is $55. Call the Farm Bureau office for reservations for more information. Reservation deadline is Wednesday, Feb. 6. ULASKI-ALEXANDER — Farm Bureau will sponsor a market outlook meeting at 6 p.m. Monday, Jan. 28, at the Farm Bureau office in Mounds. AgriVisor market analyst Dale Durchholz will be the speaker. Call the Farm Bureau office at 745-9429 for reservations or more information. T. CLAIR — MonClair Corn Growers annual meeting will be held at 6:30 p.m. Wednesday, Feb. 6, at Turkey Hill Grange in







Belleville. Representatives from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers will speak. Call the Farm Bureau office at 2336800 by Jan. 30 for reservations or more information. • The annual meeting will be Friday at the American Legion Hall in St. Libory. Kurt Bock, Country Financial chief executive officer, will be the speaker. Cost is $5. Call the Farm Bureau office at 233-6800 for reservations or more information. NION — Farm Bureau will sponsor a market outlook program at 6 p.m. Monday, Jan. 28, at the Pulaski-Alexander County Farm Bureau office in Mounds. Dale Durchholz, AgriVisor market analyst, will be the speaker. Call the Farm Bureau office at 833-2125 for reservations or more information. • Farm Bureau scholarship applications are available at the Farm Bureau office and area high schools. Preference is given to graduating seniors, children of members, and those pursuing a career in agriculture. Call the Farm Bureau office at 833-2125 or email for an application or more information. • Farm Bureau will sponsor a market outlook program at 6 p.m. Monday, Feb. 4, at the Farm Bureau office. Grain merchandisers Ryan Thurston and Drew Whalen will be the speakers. Call the Farm Bureau office at 833-2125 to register or for more information by Jan. 30. ERMILION — Farm Bureau will co-host a cover crop workshop from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Monday, Jan. 28, in the Farm Bureau Audi-



torium. Mike Plumer, conservation consultant, will be the speaker. Call the Vermilion County Soil and Water Conservation District office at 442-8511, ext. 3, for reservations or more information. • The Young Leader Committee will meet at 7 p.m. Tuesday, Feb. 5, at the Farm Bureau office. Members under the age of 35 may attend. ASHINGTON — Farm Bureau will sponsor a market outlook seminar at 8 a.m. Wednesday, Jan. 30, at the Little Nashville Restaurant. Dale Durchholz, AgriVisor market analyst, will be the speaker. Call the Farm Bureau office at 327-3081 for reservations or more information. Reservation deadline is Wednesday. • Farm Bureau’s annual meeting will be at 6:30 p.m. Thursday, Jan. 31, at the Nashville Community Center. Cost is $5. Dr. Mickey Latour, Southern Illinois University-Carbondale dean of ag, will be the speaker. Call the Farm Bureau office for reservations or more information. Reservation deadline is Friday. • A charter bus going to the Louisville Farm Show will leave the Farm Bureau office at 5:30 a.m. Wednesday, Feb. 13. Cost is $55. Call the Farm Bureau office for reservations or for more information. Reservation deadline is Wednesday, Feb. 6.


“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.

Travel with other Farmers!

Canadian Rockies Tour Also includes “Rocky Mountain” Rail Trip & Olympic National Park

14 Days

Depart July 12 & Aug. 2, 2013



Start in Seattle, Washington; beginning your drive to Spokane. En route, visit the Grand Coulee Dam, and Dry Falls. Drive through the beautiful lake-side communities as you head east to “The Big Sky Country” of Montana. Next visit Glacier National Park. Then cross over to Waterton Lakes National Park, Glacier’s, Canadian sister park. The following day you will travel to the town of Banff and Banff National Park. Then travel north on the Icefields Parkway beginning your scenic route through the Canadian Rockies. Visit Lake Louise; Jasper National Park; Jasper town and Yoho National Park before crossing the Continental Divide to Revelstoke; the Lake Okanagan region and the resort town , you will board the “Sea to Sky Climb” Rocky Mountaineer train and travel the breathtaking Pacific coast to Vancouver. The following day you will take a ferry trip to Victoria on Vancouver Island with its classic colonial architecture. Then travel back to the U.S. and enjoy another ferry trip to Port Angeles and tour Olympic National Park before returning to Seattle. *Add $100 for July 12 departure. *Price per person, based on double occupancy. Airfare is extra.

For reservations & details call 7 days a week:


FarmWeek Page 14 Monday, January 21, 2013


How do corn prices stack up against nitrogen prices? BY GRAHAM UTTER

Everyone knows corn volatility has increased in recent years, but since 1998, nitrogen prices have been one and a half times more volatile than corn prices. Demand for both nitrogen and corn have been the key reasons behind the increased volatility. Domestic corn acres Graham Utter have increased from 80 million acres in 1998 to 96 million acres in 2012, while nitrogen production globally has only inched higher and domestic production actually has fallen. The U.S. has been forced to rely on fertilizer imports, but don’t expect this supply and

demand imbalance to last. Currently, there are 20 proposed nitrogen plants in North America. While it is doubtful that all or even half of these will be built, any additional nitrogen production will be welcome. Let’s take an objective look at the relationship of corn price to nitrogen price over time. First, think of corn as a currency. Now ask: “How many bushels of corn at today’s price does it cost to fertilize one acre of corn at today’s nitrogen price?” In the accompanying chart you can see this calculation using the average Midwest harvest delivery corn prices and the average Midwest nitrogen prices for ammonia (greenline), urea (red), and UAN (blue); the black line is an average of all three nitrogen

Bushels of corn to pay for 180 units of nitrogen

sources combined. The chart assumes application of 180 units of nitrogen each year. Don’t worry if you apply more or less, the same principle will apply. On the chart look at “All Three Nitrogen Sources” combined (black line). Over the last six years, the average number of bushels it took to pay for nitrogen fertilizer was 19.85 bushels; today it would take 19.21 bushels.

Over the last year, the low was 15.55 bushels and the high was 22.75 bushels. This tells us that today it is costing us about the same number of bushels of corn to fertilize one acre as it has cost us over the past six years. Agriculture has been fortunate, so far, to have corn prices that keep pace with the cost of nitrogen. Expect both corn and nitrogen prices to stay volatile into the distant future,

all the more reason to manage risk on both sides of this equation. Two key takeaways: Nitrogen as a commodity is even more volatile than corn, and nitrogen is at a good value in relation to corn — believe it or not. Graham Utter is GROWMARK’s plant food risk management analyst. His email address is


Farm Service Agency FSA loan program aids in passing land to next generation

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

Range Per Head $32.25-$60.28 n/a

Weighted Ave. Price $44.17 n/a

This Week Last Week 93,214 84,888 *Eastern Corn Belt prices picked up at seller’s farm


Eastern Corn Belt direct hogs (plant delivered) Carcass Live

(Prices $ per hundredweight) This week Prev. week $79.84 $79.05 $59.08 $58.50

Change .79 .58

USDA five-state area slaughter cattle price Steers Heifers

(Thursday’s price) (Thursday’s price) Prev. week Change This week 122.34 126.00 -3.66 123.16 126.00 -2.84

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 148.15 150.82 -2.67

Lamb prices Slaughter Prices - Negotiated, Live, wooled and shorn 100-170 lbs. for 94.83-128 $/cwt. (wtd. ave. 112.89)

Export inspections (Million bushels) Week ending Soybeans Wheat Corn 1/10/2013 39.1 10.6 9.2 1/3/2013 40.0 13.4 7.3 Last year 41.0 13.5 30.1 Season total 855.9 539.4 272.4 Previous season total 640.2 621.0 612.3 USDA projected total 1345 1050 950 Crop marketing year began June 1 for wheat and Sept. 1 for corn and soybeans.

A national land contract guarantee program is available to landowners who wish to transfer farm real estate to the next generation of farmers, according to Farm Service Agency (FSA) State Executive Director Scherrie Giamanco. The program provides a new approach to landowners willing to sell their land to beginning or socially disadvantaged farmers because it reduces the seller’s financial risk if the buyer defaults on the payments. The buyer must provide a minimum down payment of 5 percent of the purchase price, plan to operate the farm, and demonstrate the ability to make the land contract payments. The national program offers two options, one that guarantees up to three annual installment payments on the contract and one that guarantees 90 percent of the unpaid principal of the contract. Guarantees may be used for financing the purchase of a farm with a purchase price up to $500,000 on a new land contract. “Landowners can use any escrow agent that meets the program qualifications to service the land contract,” said Giamanco. “Landowners interested in the Land Contract Guarantee

Program may contact their local farm loan office to obtain a list of available nationwide escrow agents that can be used with this program,” she added. FSA credit programs are designed to provide credit to

eligible farmers when conventional or commercial credit is not available or does not meet their needs. For more information, contact your local county FSA office.

DATEBOOK Jan. 28 Illinois Farm Bureau Crop Insurance and Truck Regulations seminars, 8 a.m., Elgin Community College Seigle Auditorium, Elgin, and 1 p.m., Highland Community College Newell Hall, Freeport. Call 309-5573207 or email to register at least three business days prior to the event. Jan. 29 Meet the Buyers event, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., Kankakee Community College, Kankakee. Registration deadline Jan. 25. Call 815-932-7471. Jan. 29-30 Illinois Cover Crop Strategies, Decatur Hotel and Conference Center. Early registration due by Jan. 21. For information, go to {}. Jan. 31 Illinois regional tillage seminar, 8:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m., Wise Guys, Princeton. Registration deadline Jan. 25. Call 309-738-7227. Feb. 4 IFB Crop Insurance and Trucking Regulations seminars, 8 a.m., Festivities Unlimited, Ottawa, and 1 p.m., Kankakee Community College’s Main Auditorium, Kankakee. Call 309-557-3207 or email to register at least three business days prior.

Page 15 Monday, January 21, 2013 FarmWeek



Soybean export sales key to prices The two soybean export graphics above illustrate what has occurred and what might — or might not — lie ahead. Soybean export shipments so far this year have paralleled those from the 2010/2011 marketing (shown) year. That was the year we set the record for U.S. soybean exports, 1.501 billion bushels. Early exports the prior year were nearly as good, with shipments only 50 million bushels less than this year. Aggressive Chinese buying and crop difficulties in South America in 2009/2010 contributed to the ramped up pace of early shipments in both years. But this year, given our

smaller supply of soybeans because of the smaller crop, we cannot sustain the late-season export pace we had those two years or last year. That brings us to the second illustration, and one that holds the key to how exports might evolve. Unlike 2009/10 and 2010/11, the level of soybeans that have been sold, but not shipped, is substantially smaller. And other than this last week’s sales, the pace of new sales has been falling off. Generally, the recent trend of new soybean sales fits with the current USDA forecast for this year, 1.345 billion bushels. But if weekly sales are much more than 20 million to 25 million bushels a week through winter and even smaller in the spring, the current yearly forecast could be too small. For now, the pace of sales may be more important than the pace of shipments.

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Cents per bu.

ü2012 crop: The trade is still adjusting to the fundamental shift dictated by USDA’s production and supply/demand reports. The rally has stalled in the wake of a 50-cent increase, but prices eventually should work higher. Target a move to $7.60-$7.70 on March futures for catch-up sales. We might add to sales if prices reach that level. Check the Hotline. ü2013 crop: The positives of the old-crop situation will help support new-crop prices. December corn may stall near $6, but has potential to move modestly higher if old-crop prices move up. Continue to use rallies near $6 for catch-up sales. It’s too soon to add to sales, but we might if December hits $6.25. Check the Hotline. vFundamentals: The small ending stocks projection will support corn prices into late winter at least. Ongoing uneasiness about the drought in the western Corn Belt and Great Plains is supportive as well. Informa is edging closer to 100 million acres being planted this year, with its latest forecast being 99.3 million.

Soybean Strategy

ü2012 crop: Reasonably good weather in South America and minor technical features have temporarily halted the rally. Use a rally to $14.75 on March futures for catch-up sales. Plan to add to sales if March pushes past $14.85. Check the Hotline. ü2013 crop: Use rallies above $13 on November 2013 futures for catch-up sales. We might add an increment if November pushes to $13.25$13.50. vFundamentals: Demand for soybeans remains good, but buyers are preparing to begin sourcing supplies out of South America. Early Brazilian yields have been mixed but aren’t expected to be indicative of the total crop potential. Persistent light showers are slowing the early harvest with short-term forecasts suggesting they may continue. That will delay the switch of sourcing soybeans to South America. Argentine weather has been warmer and drier.

Traders are watching closely to make sure it doesn’t become an extended situation.

Wheat Strategy

ü2012 crop: Wheat prices could fall back slightly following the recent surge. Still, they should be positioned for another move higher. Oldcrop sales should have been increased 15 percent when Chicago March traded above $7.90, bringing them to 90 percent complete. ü2013 crop: Sales should have been increased another 20 percent when Chicago July traded above $8, bringing the total

to 35 percent complete. Use rallies to make catch-up sales. vFundamentals: Wheat prices are getting support from the friendly January USDA numbers, primarily the smaller hard red winter plantings. The ongoing Great Plains’ drought enhances the potential of seeing a sharply lower hard red crop this year. The latest seven- to 10-day forecast is for below-normal precipitation. Still, the winter wheat crop is typically “made” in the spring months. But if the weather doesn’t shift, production will be disappointing this year.

FarmWeek Page 16 Monday, January 21, 2013


We want to make our voices heard, not be background noise As I read one of my Christmas gifts, “Thomas Jefferson: The Art of Power,” I could not help but think of our organization as we attempt to weigh in on the multitude of issues that we work on in the legislative arena. One of the strategies that Jefferson spent hours contemplating was what MARK GEBHARDS seemed to be most effective when lobbying his colleagues to support certain legislation. He found that not speaking was more effective than an endless barrage of points and positions. In other words, timely and calculated messages became much more effective than a constant clamor. Illinois Farm Bureau receives a number of inquiries about when and why we issue action requests. I wish there was a short answer, but there is not, so please bear with me while I walk through some of the things considered when deciding to issue an action request. The biggest consideration is if the issue needs a strong push to change legislators’ minds in their decision making process. The organization

takes positions on hundreds of issues, and different means of educating lawmakers are used for each issue. Action requests generally are made when an issue has reached an impasse and lawmakers are unsure of our position or need additional input from our members on our position to sway their vote. In these instances, a unified and coordinated call to action is definitely needed to effectively influence the decision. There are many issues that are of key importance to each and every one of us, but we have to be strategic in using action requests. We have to keep in mind that we cannot initiate an action request on every issue — or our voice will just become background noise. We have to maintain the effectiveness of action requests so they are a

tool for the times when they have the greatest impact. For example, some of you have asked why IFB has not issued an action request on issues like the recent gun bills and the same sex marriage bill. It is clear that legislators know the organization is opposed to these proposals because we communicated our position to them and filed our opposition publically in committee. There are also other groups we are working with to oppose these bills who were effectively spreading the message that these two pieces of legislation should be defeated. We also have to consider what our efforts will gain. It quickly became clear that these bills were not gaining traction, and there were not enough votes to gain passage. In the end, the wheels on

these bills not only deflated, they fell off. In the coming months, it is very likely there are going to be a whole host of issues that we will have positions on at the federal and state levels. Many of these issues will affect the bottom line of farming. Issues like requiring all farm employees to be paid overtime, numerous tax and fee issues, private property rights, and many others. It makes me dizzy just thinking about the possibilities. An action request on one or more of those issues may be needed to influence votes. Please be assured that we do not take issues lightly just because an action request is not issued. The organization has numerous ways of making sure each of the positions and policies of the organization are expressed and used to influence the outcome in the legislative and regulatory arena. So when we issue a request, please take the time to engage! Your voice will be the right voice at the right time to make a difference! Mark Gebhards is the executive director of the Illinois Farm Bureau governmental affairs and commodities division. His email address is

Fighting to keep Illinois’ ag community healthy, strong As a young girl growing up in Central Illinois, few things made me happier than my family’s regular trips to my grandparents’ hog farm in Milford (Iroquois County). I’d spend hours outside on the farm, playing with the baby pigs while taking in the sights, sounds, and yes, the CHERI smells. BUSTOS Ever since those days, I’ve had a deep-felt appreciation for farmers and for the important role agriculture plays in keeping our communities great places to live, work, and raise a family. That’s why as a new member of Congress who represents a region like ours that relies on agriculture for a strong economy, I was excited to be appointed to the U.S. House Committee on Agriculture. As anyone can tell as they drive across our district, from Rockford to the Quad Cities, to Peoria and everywhere in between, agriculture and agricultural products are our No. 1 industry. Not only is Illinois’

17th Congressional District the home to thousands of farmers and millions of acres of farmland, but it is a world leader in agricultural products, including grain and oilseed production, as well as hogs and cattle. It also is home to the headquarters of large manufacturing employers Caterpillar and Deere & Co., which employ thousands of workers in our region. The entire western border of our congressional district is met by the Mississippi River, on which the barge transportation of agricultural products is key to commerce in the region. Additionally, the National Center for Agricultural Utilization Research in Peoria, also known as the Ag Lab, is at the forefront of agricultural innovation. This includes finding new uses for crops and creating new technology that improves environmental quality and food safety. This clearly has the potential to create many new, good-paying jobs. You get the picture: Agriculture is vitally important to the well-being of our economy and our way of life. As a member of the

House Committee on Agriculture, I will have the unique opportunity to be a strong advocate when it comes to keeping our No. 1 industry healthy and strong. Keeping the agricultural industry vibrant will not only benefit farmers, but it will lead to economic development in communities across rural Illinois. I’ll be a leader when it comes to fighting for valueadded agricultural products and the biotech industry, both of which are creating jobs in Illinois communities large and small. Finally, because I believe the agricultural industry, like any other industry, needs long-term certainty to plan for future investments and growth, I will push for the passage of a bi-partisan, five-year farm bill. I look forward to traveling throughout the district to meet with farmers and others employed through agriculture in the coming weeks and months to hear firsthand their concerns and priorities. I’ll make sure our region always gets a seat at the table in Washington and that our values are taken into consideration. This will ensure that

futur e g en er a tio n s o f Il l in o i sa n s a r e a b le to h ave th e sa me a p p r ecia ti o n fo r a g r icultur e th a t I fo un d a s a ch ild o n my

g r a n dp a r en ts’ farm. U.S. Rep. Cheri Bustos represents Illinois’ 17th Congressional District.

FarmWeek January 21 2013  

FarmWeek January 21 2013

FarmWeek January 21 2013  

FarmWeek January 21 2013