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D ry n e S S c o n c e r n S have intensified in recent weeks in much of Illinois and a large portion of the western Corn Belt. ....3

A Will county farmer is breaking new ground in raising money for the American Cancer Society. .............................................4

Ag exportS could play a key role this year in deter mining whether commodity prices remain at profitable levels. ..........................5

Monday, June 11, 2012

Two sections Volume 40, No. 24

Stage set for open, limited (?) farm bill debate BY MARTIN ROSS FarmWeek

The Senate has set the stage for open but controlled farm bill debate, as ag lawmakers seek program provisions agreeable to both midwestern and southern farmers. A farm bill “cloture” measure, aimed at limiting the time devoted to anticipated Senate floor amendments, cleared handily by a 90-8 vote last Thursday. While the measure should help prevent crippling extended debate on individual issues, cloture does not preclude a possible “flood” of proposed amendments, National Corn Growers Association policy director Jon Doggett stressed.

Doggett cited three prime areas for heated floor debate — commodity program, crop insurance, and “food stamp” spending. Thirty amendments had been filed as of late last week, and he sees “a certainty there will be more.” The White House last week offered a “not-so-subtle signal that its going to fight for SNAP (federal Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program – food stamp) funding,” he said. Further, key southern senators are “pursuing some accommodation” for rice and other growers facing elimination of direct payments and a proposed new revenue safety net they believe to be of greater benefit

to corn and soybean growers, Doggett noted. Also at issue are potential proposals to place “draconian” new income/eligibility limits for farm program recipients or possible “anti-ethanol” amendments forwarded by recently outspoken Senate biofuels critics, Doggett said. “(The cloture) vote indicates strongly that the Senate wants to move forward on the farm bill,” he told FarmWeek. “It gives us an indication they’re going to move through the amendment process, perhaps quickly. It indicates that on some points of contention, negotiations now going on could bear fruit and remove

Survey says changes to sow housing systems will be costly BY DANIEL GRANT FarmWeek

Periodicals: Time Valued

The number of food companies that have pledged to source pork from suppliers who do not use sow gestation stalls has jumped in recent months. Kroger Co. last week joined the likes of McDonald’s, Burger King, Wendy’s, Denny’s, and

other companies that have asked pork producers to start phasing out the stalls. However, just because food companies have made new policies regarding pork production doesn’t mean producers simply

FarmWeekNow.com Listen to Rita Frazer’s interview with Chris Novak about the sustainability of pork production at FarmWeekNow.com.

will be able to flip a switch and convert to an all-open-housing system overnight. In fact, a new survey released last week at the World Pork Expo found the elimination of gestation stalls would take years; it would be very costly for producers, packers, and eventually consumers; and such a change won’t necessarily improve the welfare of all hogs. “A lot of retailers are talking about switching (from gestation stalls to open pen systems), but they aren’t talking about a price premium (to cover the cost of such a massive change to the production system),” said Ron Plain, University of Missouri Extension economist who sur-

veyed the industry about its current production practices. Plain surveyed pork producers with 1,000 or more sows, which account for 3.6 million of the nation’s 5.7 million hogs, and found only 17.3 percent of sows currently spend a portion of gestation in open pens. The pork operators also indicated current plans would put a range of just 20.7 to 23.8 percent of sows in open pens in the next two years. Meanwhile, a number of sows spend time in both open pens and stalls during gestation. Pigs also are mixed at packing plants, which will make a stallfree claim even more difficult to achieve in the near future. “If a restaurant or grocery store wants to say all its ham or sausage comes from pigs whose mothers were raised in open pens, we’ll need some type of sorting system to track the pigs all the way from the growth process on the farm through slaughter and retail,” Plain said. “There’s going to be a cost associated with that.” R.C. Hunt, president of the See Housing, page 11

FarmWeek on the web: FarmWeekNow.com

some opposition to the bill.” Meanwhile, the administration endorsed Senate Ag Committee proposals that “provide certainty for rural America and (include) needed reforms and savings.” The new farm bill “should promote rural development, preserve a farm safety net, maintain strong nutrition programs, enhance conservation, honor our World Trade Organization (trade) commitments, and advance agricultural research,” it stated. According to Doggett, “supplemental policy” is a likely approach to building farm bill support among Southern inter-

ests. The Senate measure already proposes a separate revenue program for cotton growers, though more commodity carve-outs could challenge program budget constraints. Nutrition program debate could prove a more dicey proposition: The administration’s statement deemed SNAP “a cornerstone of our nation’s food assistance safety net,” and pushed for continued, full SNAP funding. Farm groups suggest up to $4 billion in cuts could be made in food program administration without hurting benefits for needy Americans. See Debate, page 4

curled corN

Corn curled like that in this Saline County field is becoming a common sight across Illinois as a prolonged period of dryness has the crop seeking ways to protect itself. This field was planted April 2 and has received only about 1.75 inches since then. (Photo by Randy Anderson, FarmWeek Cropwatcher from Saline County)

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

FarmWeek Page 2 Monday, June 11, 2012

Quick Takes JURY SIDES WITH CONAGRA FACILITY VICTIMS — A federal jury awarded about $181 million to three persons injured in a 2010 explosion at a Southern Illinois grain facility, according to the Associated Press. A c c o r d i n g t o t h e l aw s u i t , t h e v i c t i m s we r e removing equipment from ConAgra’s facility at Chester in Randolph County on April 27, 2010, w h e n a s i l o e x p l o d e d i n t o f l a m e s. N e b r a s k a based ConAg ra Foods Inc. announced it would appeal the decision. The three victims: John Jentz of St. Peter, Minn., Robert Schmidt of Hutchinson, Minn., and Justin Becker of Cedar Rapids, Iowa, are to divide $100 million in punitive damages. Compensatory damages include $41.5 million for Jentz, about $34 million for Becker, and $2.9 million for Schmidt. Jentz also was awarded $1 million in additional punitive damages by Westside Salvage Inc., a subcontractor and ConAgra’s co-defendant. CME GROUP CHANGES SCHEDULE AGAIN — CME Group Friday made yet another change to its trading schedule. The exchange, beginning June 25, will expand its open outcry trading hours by 45 minutes. The move means futures prices for corn, soybeans, and wheat will settle at 2 p.m. instead of 1:15 p.m. Grain settlement prices previously were established 45 minutes before futures stopped trading electronically, which caused confusion for grain elevators. CME Group previously expanded its electronic trading hours from 17 to 21 hours per day. It later announced it would move up the start of open outcry on government report days in response to complaints from floor traders that they would be shut out of crucial trading periods. The most recent moves are pending approval of the Commodity Futures Trading Commission. WATERSHED EVENT? — The House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee last week approved the Preserve Existing Rights and Responsibilities with Respect to Waters of the United States Act. The bill, a priority piece for Farm Bureau, reaffirms longstanding provisions in the federal Clean Water Act and prevents the Environmental Protection Agency and the Army Corps of Engineers from pursuing the agencies’ proposed Final Guidance on Identifying Waters Protected by the Clean Water Act and from using it as a basis for any rule. The proposed guidance effectively eliminates the term “navigable” from the Clean Water Act and dramatically expands the scope of federal jurisdiction. The bill now awaits Senate passage.

(ISSN0197-6680) Vol. 40 No. 24

June 11, 2012

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

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

STAFF Editor Dave McClelland (dmcclelland@ilfb.org) Legislative Affairs Editor Kay Shipman (kayship@ilfb.org) Agricultural Affairs Editor Martin Ross (mross@ilfb.org) Senior Commodities Editor Daniel Grant (dgrant@ilfb.org) Editorial Assistant Linda Goltz (Lgoltz@ilfb.org) Business Production Manager Bob Standard (bstandard@ilfb.org) Advertising Sales Manager Richard Verdery (rverdery@ilfb.org) Classified sales coordinator Nan Fannin (nfannin@ilfb.org) Advertising Sales Representatives Hurst and Associates, Inc. P.O. Box 6011, Vernon Hills, IL 60061 1-800-397-8908 (advertising inquiries only) Gary White - Northern Illinois Doug McDaniel - Southern Illinois Editorial phone number: 309-557-2239 Classified advertising: 309-557-3155 Display advertising: 1-800-676-2353

ENERGY

New ethanol standard could add blenders to mix BY MARTIN ROSS FarmWeek

The latest step in diversifying the ethanol blend portfolio could save the biofuels industry a few future steps as it continues to push for a greater pump presence. A new “mid-level” ethanol blend standard submitted by the scientific certification body ASTM International could serve as the missing link necessary for blender pumps to become widely used across the U.S. The standard provides technical guidance for retailers and fuel blenders who wish to offer blends containing 15 and 51 percent ethanol volume. Blender pumps enable owners of E85 (85 percent ethanol-capable) vehicles to dispense standard E10 or E85 gasoline, or various blends between the two. Prior to the new standard, E15-E51 blends were not covered under ASTM guidance. Some Midwest states have developed their own guidelines for blender pumps, but other’s have been hesitant to approve them without ASTM guidance. Kristy Moore, Renewable Fuels Association vice president of technical services and a member of ASTM’s gasoline-oxygenate committee, stressed “we want blender pumps ‘legal’ in every state.” Even in already “flex-fuel”-friendly states such as Illinois, the mid-level blend standard should “give retailers the comfort to install blender pumps,” Illinois Corn Growers technology and business development director Dave Loos told FarmWeek. It also should help set the stage as biofuels producers push approval for higher-level standard blends such as E20 or even E30. “This probably won’t impact Illinois and Iowa as much — our (Illinois Department of Agriculture Bureau of) Weights and Measures is pretty much on board with moving ahead,” Loos said.

Equipment available for composting

“But it’s important to give the bureau the necessary ASTM standards it can reference in the future as it adjusts guidelines for flex-fuels for the marketplace. The more we can do to reduce the risk the petroleum marketers see in changing to higher blends, the better those blends can get into the marketplace.” States with existing blender pump rules may continue with those policies or choose to adopt the ASTM standard, while other states can simply adopt the ASTM standard as their technical policy. The standard should encourage equipment manufacturers to provide an adequate stock of fuel dispenser parts compatible with mid-level blends, Loos said. Underwriters Laboratory (UL) has approved new E85 pumps, tanks, hoses, and related equipment, but manufacturers are seeking certification of mid-level blend-compatible replacement parts for older pumps. Currently, there are fewer than 500 blender pump locations across the U.S. The Qik n EZ food and fuel chain plans to continue gradually adding blender pumps at Illinois stations, reported Grady Chronister, chief of Chronister Oil, which owns the outlets. Chronister stressed the need to address a number of issues before his company can move ahead with dedicated E15 pumps, but he views the new ASTM standard as a positive step toward expanding fuel choice. Once clear ethanol and E15-compatible gasoline standards are in place, “we’ll be much more aggressive with installations,” he told FarmWeek. “We’re just moving along,” he said. “We’re putting a couple more blender pumps in, but those products are catered to flex-fuel engines rather than the general public. I think the owners of flex-fuel engines appreciate the blender pumps. They have the tendency to buy the E50 or E30 products.”

SECRETARY SPEAKER

Illinois State University animal science professor Paul Walker is seeking livestock farmers who are interested in composting manure. With a grant through the Natural Resources Conservation Service, Walker has tractors and compost turners for loan to livestock producers for a two-year period. Operations with cattle, hogs, horses, or sheep are eligible; however, the operation must use confinement buildings. Beef farms with hoop structures or mono-slope buildings also would be eligible, according to Walker. Farmers would be responsible for maintaining equipment. Interested livestock farmers should contact Walker as soon as possible by calling 309-438-3881 or by e-mailing pwalker@ilstu.edu.

Tuesday: • Ag Weather with Freese-Notis Dale Durchholz, AgriVisor Doug Kamholz, Illinois State Fair Museum Wednesday: • Tim Schweizer, Illinois Department of Natural Resources Jerome Johnson, Garfield Farms Ruth MacPete, veterinarian Thursday: • Eric Johnson, Illinois Beef Association Gayle Jennings, Memorial Medical Center, Springfield Dan Parker, Monsanto Friday: • Sara Wyant, AgriPulse Joe Bierman and Keith Mussmann, IFB Market trip to Cuba Alan Jarand, story time

Ag Secretary Tom Vilsack, center, tours greenhouse facilities at the Chicago High School for Agricultural Sciences prior to delivering the school’s graduation commencement speech Friday. He was escorted by graduates Jennifer Nelson and Mahmoud Shalabi. In his speech, Vilsack hailed farm technological advances and conservation gains and stressed the importance of agriculture in feeding a growing world population. “Agriculture is more relevant than ever to the challenges our country faces today,” he argued. (Photo courtesy of Cook County Farm Bureau)

Page 3 Monday, June 11, 2012 FarmWeek

climate

Climatologist: Forecast favors high corn yields, low prices Things could change if drought expands BY DANIEL GRANT FarmWeek

Dryness concerns have intensified in recent weeks as the majority of Illinois and a large portion of the western Corn Belt are abnormally dry or in moderate to severe drought, according to the U.S. Drought Monitor. The driest regions of the state are Southern Illinois and a portion of Central Illinois to the east of the Illinois River. However, a good start to the growing season, a favorable forecast, and high crop condition ratings still suggest farmers are on pace to harvest a record corn crop, according to Elwynn Taylor, Iowa State University climatologist. Taylor last week at the World Pork Expo in Des Moines predicted above-average temperatures with normal precipitation the next two weeks.

“It’s a generally favorable outlook as I see things now,” he said. “But that could change.” Taylor’s model currently suggests the most likely scenario is a national corn yield average of 164 bushels per acre, just two bushels below USDA’s May forecast, . If the high yield is realized,

FarmWeekNow.com Listen to Elwynn Taylor’s comments about crop potential this summer at FarmWeekNow.com.

Taylor estimated corn prices could average just $4.60 per bushel, down significantly from last year’s average range of $5.95 to $6.25. The price forecasts obviously change if the current dryness concerns escalate into a major production problem. “There are a lot of areas of the Corn Belt that are a bit dry,” said Steve Meyer, president of Paragon Economics. “We’re going to have to have some timely rain if we’re going to hit

trend yields (or above).” Meyer predicted the average corn price could drop to as low as $4 if the national corn yield averages 166 bushels or it could rally to an average of $6 if there is a repeat of last year’s harvest, when the corn yield averaged 147 bushels. Corn condition ratings, as of the first of last week, remained good despite the growing pocket of dryness. In the U.S., 72 percent of the corn crop was rated good to excellent, 23 percent fair, and just 5 percent poor or very poor. The corn crop in Illinois last week was rated 66 percent good to excellent, 29 percent fair, and 5 percent poor or very poor. Darrel Good, University of Illinois economist, said timely rainfall will become more important each week. “There’s a large area of the country living on the edge, in terms of moisture, and the critical period to determine yields is just now beginning,” Good said.

“We need to move back to a pattern of more abundant rainfall,” he added. “Without

that, we’ll see a deterioration of crop conditions and lower production.”

Climate agenda continuing in Washington? BY MARTIN ROSS FarmWeek

“Cap-and-trade” no longer is the buzzword on Capitol Hill. But Washington remains abuzz with concerns about potentially costly administration efforts to regulate greenhouse gases (GHGs). Armed with a court-supported GHG “endangerment ruling,” the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is “moving right along” with prospective climate-based

standards for a variety of interests, American Farm Bureau Federation regulatory specialist Rick Krause reported. “Our elected officials know better than to try to impose these types of costly restrictions on the American public,” James Taylor, senior fellow with the Chicago-based Heartland Institute, told FarmWeek at an institute consortium on climate theory and policies (see accompanying story).

“So where we’re seeing these actions is in the regulatory agencies, and EPA in particular. They’re not accountable to voters. All the various ways they can think of to restrict carbon dioxide emissions are coming through a non-elected bureaucracy, and that’s very troubling.” Currently at issue are EPAproposed nationwide standards for power plant emissions, which said Krause “could really only be met by

using natural gas, not coal.” EPA’s alternative is development of carbon dioxide “capture and storage” in conjunction with coal-fired facilities, but Krause noted a current lack of any “commercially viable” carbon sequestration technologies. Consequently, he argued, “there won’t be any new coalfired plants built,” and existing Midwest plant shutdowns likely will occur as a result of new standards. Costs of shutdowns

Scientists argue skepticism needed to target global efforts A little skepticism may be a healthy thing for the planet, according to scientists gathered recently in Chicago. Jerry Arnett, a pulmonary specialist and science adviser to the American Council for Science and Health, argues overriding global concern with greenhouse gas (GHG) regulation and associated policy costs drain resources from efforts to fight poverty, hunger, and disease. Illinois Farm Bureau National Legislative Director Adam Nielsen perceives “a slow drumbeat,” reflected in the media, to return greenhouse gas concerns to the public “radar screen.” That’s despite new International Energy Agency estimates noting U.S. emissions have fallen 7.7 percent since 2006 — the world’s largest drop, achieved without GHG mandates. Arnett warned “exaggerated and unsupported claims” regarding climate impacts misdirect global public health priorities and impede economic growth and fuel advances that have contributed to “enormous reductions” in global mortality, he said at a recent Chicago climate conference. He cited a study by Stanford University economist Thomas Moore indicating that reducing emissions under international cli-

mate treaty guidelines would have contributed to 33,800-67,000 added annual U.S. deaths from 2008 to 2012, because of “the loss of wealth squandered to reduce these emissions.” “Global warming’s been described as the greatest threat facing mankind, but the policies proposed to address global warming are in fact a much greater threat,” Arnett argued. “Many environmentalists and like-minded politicians have proposed trillions of dollars to reduce anthropogenic (humanrelated) greenhouse gases. “Spending a small percentage of these billions of dollars on basic infrastructure improvements in water, sewage and waste management, nutrition, and housing is a vastly more effective way to reduce disease and improve life expectancy,” he said. Joe Bastardi, chief forecaster at WeatherBell Analytics and a contributor to Accuweather forecasting services, sees scientific room for “a degree of doubt” regarding the popular connection between greenhouse carbon dioxide (CO2) and climate. He argues human CO2 contributions are too small to have any significant effect on global climate change.

“I believe the heat capacity of the ocean generally rules the roost, and the outside radiation from the sun has a longer-term effect on up-and-down (temperatures),” he said. “I don’t believe CO2 has anything to do with the weather. I call CO2 plant food. Saying CO2’s driving the entire system is like blaming a hangnail for obesity.” Every 25-30 years, oceans undergo a cycle of colder water churning to replace warmer surface water, reportedly affecting global temperatures by fractions of a degree. Over recent years, the correlation between oceanic conditions and U.S. temperatures has been “pretty dead on,” Bastardi said. Deep sea core samples appear to back oceanic climate theory, suggesting CO2 levels have not always been linked with global temperatures. Further, University of Connecticut physicist Howard Hayden said some colleagues may misinterpret a modern link between temperatures and CO2 levels. Hayden argues the idea that atmospheric CO2 levels “simply respond to what the temperature is” makes at least as much sense as the contention that CO2, “and virtually nothing else,” is causing global climate shifts. — Martin Ross

and plant retooling are expected to result in higher consumer energy rates. Petroleum refiners likely will be next on the agency’s docket, further affecting consumer and ag input/energy prices, Krause said. Meanwhile, a federal court has ordered EPA to respond to a Center for Biological Diversity petition requesting it study the public impact of greenhouse emissions from aircraft, ships, and off-road engines. EPA’S endangerment ruling, approved in 2009, decreed that greenhouse gases pose a threat to “public health and welfare.” While EPA’s “tailoring rule” allows the agency to adjust standards for various sectors, Krause stressed regulators cannot administratively exempt agriculture from clean air standards. Thus, farm-level greenhouse regulations are not outside the realm of future possibility, he warned. A D.C. court soon could rule in a major lawsuit against the endangerment ruling. However, the tailoring rule well may be the legally weakest element in the case for continued greenhouse regulation, Krause advised. “If the tailoring rule were struck down and everything else was upheld, all of the stationary (non-transportation) sources for ag automatically become subject to permitting,” Krause told FarmWeek. “That would be a mess.”

FarmWeek Page 4 Monday, June 11, 2012

rural life

Will County farmer taps roots to raise money for cancer cure BY KAY SHIPMAN FarmWeek

A Will County farmer is breaking new ground in raising money for the American Cancer Society with one of the largest third-party fundraising events in the state. Dean Bettenhausen and his wife, Linda, will host the second Tractors for a Cure event on July 14 at the Beecher Fireman’s Park, Beecher. Bettenhausen, a Will County Farm Bureau member, said his goal is to exceed last year’s total of $81,000 and 500 participants. Two driving forces behind Bettenhausen’s efforts are his wife and their daughter, Annie, both of whom are cancer survivors. Bettenhausen proudly shared that his daughter has been cancer free for eight years, but choked up when stating the event’s slogan: “Find a cure today and make cancer go away.”

A natural promoter, Bettenhausen expanded the event that started “as a potluck dinner” on his farm. “We have people flooding in to help us,” he said. “It’s unbelievable.” Myra Kocsis, a spokesman for the American Cancer Society in Tinley Park, said she was not aware of any other agrelated cancer fundraiser and noted Bettenhausen’s was one of the largest third-party fundraising events. The money raised supports a Tractors for a Cure Inc. team that participates in the Relay for Life Peotone-Beecher-Monee fundraiser. Tractors for a Cure T-shirts will be sold on July 14, but Bettenhausen recommended advance orders by June 15. Order forms are available through the Will County Farm Bureau or by e-mailing Joan Meier at meierfarm@aol.com. Raffle tickets also are being sold for several items, including a 1953 Farmall Super H. Bettenhausen is accepting donations for silent and live auctions at the event. The day’s activities start at 9 a.m.

Tractors and other vehicles form a cancer ribbon at the first Tractors for a Cure fundraiser in 2011. The ribbon was formed along the Illinois-Indiana border that coincides with the road seen at the bottom of the picture during the first farm stop for the tractor drive near Beecher. (Photo courtesy Dean Bettenhausen)

with registration wristband and ticket sales. The admission price includes lunch and dinner. The daylong event will offer many activities, including a pedal tractor pull, performances by several bands, a parade, tractor run, and a candlelight memorial service at 9 p.m. A schedule and information are available by calling 708243-8877, e-mailing tractorsforacure@gmail.com, or by visiting a new website {www.tractorsforacure.com}.

Joan Meier, left, of Frankfort in Will County and Ronda Graf of Grant Park in Kankakee County place gift certificates donated by area businesses on artificial trees that will be part of a silent auction July 14. The auction is one of several events organized by a Will County farmer to raise money for the American Cancer Society. (Photo by Ken Kashian)

Debate Continued from page 1 Crop insurance also could be a hot-button topic on the Senate floor. The Environmental Working Group (EWG), a high-profile group traditionally critical of farm programs, has targeted federal crop premium subsidies. EWG leaders “know where the money is,” Doggett argued, noting crop insurance is “the next biggest pot” for potential budget savings after direct payments. That could appeal to congressional “budget hawks,” he advised. “Our biggest concern is maintaining crop insurance and the levels we have,” Plainville farmer Dan Cole said. “Crop insurance is essential for every farmer in every state.” Doggett also anticipates possible debate over proposals to tie conservation compliance to crop insurance, given farm program pare-backs. Cole told FarmWeek the conservation program “still has teeth” even without program cross-compliance, especially in terms of access to federal direct or guaranteed ag loans, and sees no need to add insurance requirements that could reduce farmer participation. Across Capitol Hill, Republican House Ag Committee members Randy Hultgren of Winfield, Tim Johnson of Urbana, and Bobby Schilling of Colona and Rep. John Shimkus, a Collinsville Republican, joined bipartisan colleagues seeking to include provisions of the Reducing Regulatory Burdens Act or similar measures in the House farm bill. The act, approved in 2011 by the House but yet to reach a Senate vote, attempts to pre-empt what the lawmakers deemed costly and “duplicative” new U.S. Environmental Protection Agency pesticide permit requirements. As to a timeline for final farm bill approval, Illinois Farm Bureau National Legislative Director Adam Nielsen was optimistic senators would “plow through” proposed amendments and vote a bill by month’s end. “There’s no question bipartisan Senate Ag Committee leaders have their work cut out for them, but they have proven they can get a bill through committee in a day,” Nielsen noted.

Page 5 Monday, June 11, 2012 FarmWeek

EXPORTS

USDA raises ag export estimate for fiscal 2012 BY DANIEL GRANT FarmWeek

Ag exports could play a key role this year in determining whether commodity prices remain at profitable levels.

USDA is forecasting that fiscal year 2012 ag exports will total $134.5 billion, which would be the second-highest value on record. The projection is up $3.5 billion from USDA’s

Speed marketing connecting Illinois exporters, buyers BY KAY SHIPMAN FarmWeek

Thirty minutes to learn about an international market and make a pitch for Illinois foods. Then off to meet another buyer. Welcome to the rapid pace of Food Export-Midwest. “It is like speed dating with suppliers on one side (of a table) and buyers on another side,” said Kim Hamilton, an international marketing representative with the Illinois Department of Agriculture (IDOA). Next month, IDOA will sponsor Food Export-Midwest in Chicago where speed marketing will be offered. Fifteen international buyers representing markets around the world have been invited. About 30 suppliers, about half from Illinois, are expected. The event is funded through USDA. Registered suppliers rank the top 10 buyers they most would like to meet, and Hamilton arranges face-to-face meetings. Speed marketing offers some advantages over trade shows and other types of marketing, according to Hamilton. In speed marketing, suppliers “actually get to capture a buyer’s attention for 30 minutes and engage in one-on-one conversations,” she said. This compares to snatches of conversation grabbed on a trade show floor. Speed marketing also is cost effective with registration fees ranging from $100 to $150. “For that amount of money, a company might do research for 10 buyers and learn feedback (about their products),” Hamilton said. Most suppliers have previous export experience, but occasionally a business will use speed marketing to test the export waters because it can do so for a nominal cost. Some suppliers learn that exporting would work for their operations; others find out it’s not for them, she added. Hamilton remembered a woman with no export experience who participated last year and had “a big learning experience.” The woman found an individual who agreed to represent her company in an international market, which was one way to ease into exporting, Hamilton explained. This year about 20 buyers missions will occur around the U.S., and Illinois companies have an opportunity to participate. Given the time limits for speed-marketing meetings, everyone must stay on schedule with five-minute warnings. Unlike some types of speed meetings, Hamilton doesn’t use a whistle to signal time’s up, but makes an announcement over a microphone.

ONE BIG BURGER

Gary Vinsand, a restaurateur from Dakota City, Iowa, grills a mammoth pork burger at the World Pork Expo last week in Des Moines. The monster burger weighed in at a hefty 260 pounds. Vinsand estimated it would take eight to nine hours to fully cook the burger, which he said could feed as many as 700 people. The three-day Expo last week attracted about 20,000 visitors from 38 countries. (Photo by Daniel Grant)

February forecast. “Soybean export demand continues to be hot,” said Darrel Good, University of Illinois Extension economist. “I expect that will continue for at least the next several months because of the small South American harvest and continued demand from China.” USDA projected soy production in the top five producing countries in South America this year will total 4.237 billion bushels, down 779 million bushels from last year. USDA will update its crop production and world ag supply and demand projections Tuesday. The most recent export projections predicted an increase in shipments of oilseeds, wheat, and rice that are expected to more than offset a reduction in course grains. “Corn exports and exports sales are really slowing down,” Good said. Prospects of a big crop and economic woes around the world also could weigh on the price of corn and other commodities.

“The ongoing (financial) problems (in Europe) and disappointing economic news here could put a cloud over the markets this summer,” Good said. Exports to the European Union were projected to decline $1.5 billion. But U.S. ag exports to the top three markets — Canada, China, and Mexico — were projected to increase this year. The forecast for livestock, poultry, and dairy exports was

raised by $400 million. USDA also raised its projection for U.S. ag imports by $1 billion, which would total a record-high $107.5 billion. Higher imports were projected for vegetable oils, oilseed, bulk grains, beef, and veal. The U.S. still is projected to maintain a surplus ($27 billion) in ag trade for 2012. Overall, trade growth is expected to be 3.4 percent this year, down from 6-plus percent last year.

FarmWeek Page 6 Monday, June 11, 2012

CROPWATCHERS Bernie Walsh, Durand, Winnebago County: It was warm and dry here again last week. There was some rain west of Rockford on Sunday evening and Monday morning (June 3-4) of about 0.5 of an inch in a small area. The corn and beans are still doing pretty well right around here despite the dry weather. There is some V5 corn that is knee-high, but in the drier soils some of the V5 corn is only 10 to 12 inches high. Most of the soybeans are looking better because of the rains from two weeks ago, but there are lots of variability in the bean fields also. There was lots of post-emerge spraying last week with several days of calm winds. The secondcrop hay cutting has started, but is shorter than average because of the lack of rain. Pete Tekampe, Grayslake, Lake County: A very beautiful, comfortable week in Lake County. No rain, but luckily the temperature has been very mild. Corn is showing stress in the heat of the day from lack of moisture. Beans are growing fast and looking good. Winter wheat is turning fast, but still a couple of weeks off. Some good hay has been baled and it’s drying fast. There is a possibility of rain Monday and Tuesday and hopefully we get it. Leroy Getz, Savanna, Carroll County: Earlier rains and then another 0.2 of an inch on June 3 have helped crops to grow. Corn that was lying in dry ground has now emerged. It’s going to be very uneven on some hills. Post-spraying of corn is nearly complete in the area. Beans are looking better but still needed help in warmer days. Second-crop hay is ready or already has been made in some cases. My oats are filling their heads and look excellent. Growing degree units now total 778. Ryan Frieders, Waterman, DeKalb County: The effects from the blasting winds and extreme temperatures are showing up in cornfields. Rootless corn syndrome can be found in many fields in the area. Plants are easily tipped over from a lack of crown roots. The topsoil also is very dry, making it even harder for plants to take up nutrients and generate new roots. We have received half of our normal precipitation so far this year and have accumulated twice the normal growing degree units. We really need some slowfalling precipitation to recharge topsoil moisture. Soybeans continue to grow. We started spraying our first post application of glyphosate in soybeans. Larry Hummel, Dixon, Lee County: In last week’s report I mentioned two of our cornfields that had some issues. One field had rootless corn syndrome. Although we lost some plants, the population counts are sufficient, and the previous week’s rain has stimulated root growth, so it appears to be growing out of it. The other field had leaves with white stripes that I thought might be a magnesium deficiency. Plant tissue tests came back showing no deficiencies in nutrients, so I haven’t figured that one out yet. The 1.5 inches of rain we received at the end of the month has been a real boost to the crops, but it won’t be long and we will be looking to the skies for another charge up. Joe Zumwalt, Warsaw, Hancock County: Dry seems to be the story in western Illinois. I have received just 0.6 of an inch since April 20, and the stress is beginning to show. While the corn continues to grow and for the most part looks very good, the soybeans seem to be growing quite slowly. Some have been in the ground for a month and have still not germinated. The seed still looks good. A good soaking rain would be welcomed. Japanese beetles have been thick, but the threshold is very high, so I haven’t heard of anyone treating for them. Sprayers, shredders, and hay equipment have been very busy lately. With all of our normal work, even more of my time has been taken up by building a new shop out on the floodplain. In the coming weeks I’ll share a few stories of my progress. Stay cool this week and pray for that million-dollar rain!

Ken Reinhardt, Seaton, Mercer County: It was a dry week with pleasant temperatures and calm winds, which was ideal for spraying. Some soybeans are still emerging a month after planting. There is some replanting of soybeans going on where the seed gave up. The earliest corn has taken off and has great potential if we get some timely rains. Ron Moore, Roseville, Warren County: We did not receive any rain again last week. We are starting to be concerned about the lack of rain so far this growing season. The crops look OK, but the tiles and streams are almost out of water. The corn is now about fence post tall and still has good potential. The soybeans are still small and not growing very fast due to a lack of moisture. The weeds are growing faster than the soybeans. Post-spraying is starting now and should help control the weeds. Pasture conditions are not the best. The grass is starting to turn brown, and it looks a lot like August. The weather predictions for the next two weeks are for hot and dry conditions. We will need timely rains the rest of the summer to achieve this crop’s potential. Tim Green, Wyoming, Stark County: Just a beautiful week. Temperatures were low and humidity was nice. The wind was calm for four days in a row. Corn spraying is pretty well wrapping up and bean spraying is going off and on. Corn looks pretty good right now, and stands are pretty good. We don’t need any hot weather for three or four days. We have almost no topsoil moisture and almost no subsoil moisture. Timely rains are very important. The rootless corn syndrome is still out there and people are talking about it. The rain two weeks ago seems to have helped the corn. Mark Kerber, Chatsworth, Livingston County: Dry weather is a concern around here. Corn is looking pretty good since the last rain, but we will need more timely rains, as there is no subsoil moisture. Soybeans are growing slowly. They also need a drink. Corn spraying is complete and soybeans will be next. Conventional-planted soybeans are weedy, but no-till beans are cleaner if a residual herbicide was used with the burndown application. As farmers are getting caught up, the batwing mowers are coming out and the roadsides are getting mowed. I have lost three new maple trees, to the emerald ash borer. The problem weed this year looks to be marestail. Markets are responding some to the dry weather conditions. Ron Haase, Gilman, Iroquois County: We had a light shower of 0.05 of an inch on Sunday, June 3. It was cool and cloudy so it soaked into the soil. It wasn’t much, but every amount helps when the soil is dry. The water-holding capacity of the topsoil is very important at this time. We finished sidedressing nitrogen on our corn on June 5, which is before we even started last year. We now are applying our post-emergence application of a herbicide mix, which includes glyphosate. The corn and soybean fields planted in the latter part of May have big lambsquarter plants that the field cultivator or herbicide did not kill. Corn in the local area ranges from the V2 growth stage up to the V9 growth stage. Those plants entering V9 will begin rapid stalk growth through internode elongation. Most soybean fields in the area range from the V1 growth stage up to the V3 growth stage. Some fields have areas of reduced population due to soybeans being planted into dry soils. Some plants began to emerge after the shower on May 31. The local closing prices for June 7 were: nearby corn, $6.19; new-crop corn, $5.05; fall 2013 corn, $4.99; nearby soybeans, $14.18; new-crop soybean, $13.13.

Brian Schaumburg, Chenoa, McLean County: Cool temperatures are giving way to more heat and increased chances for rain. Hopefully, a soaker is in the offing, as crops are tapping into subsoil moisture. Spraying will wrap up this week on soybeans. Large weeds, especially lambsquarter and ragweed, are evident. Corn is at V9-plus and soybeans are V2 to V5-plus. GDUs since mid-April are 803. Crop rating is still excellent with a lot of growing season left to go. Corn, $6.25; fall, $5.07; soybeans, $13.98; fall, $12.92; wheat, $6.01. Steve Ayers, Champaign, Champaign County: The green carpet emergeth from the dark soil! We are in an area where it rains five minutes before it’s too late, and the countdown has begun. We are looking for possible rain today (Monday) and again Wednesday. Last weekend (June 2-3) we had a shower, and a beautiful full rainbow in the eastern sky late Saturday afternoon. Showers again last Monday (June 4)and dry since then. Corn looks good, dark green, and growing rapidly. We have had spotty emergence with mid-May soybeans, and after three weeks, cotyledons are finally breaking through the ground. Wilfred Dittmer, Quincy, Adams County: It is still dry and steadily getting more so with nothing in the gauge at all for the past week. Corn is holding its own at about waist-high average, and soybeans are mostly tall enough to row. Sprayers are going to have to get started while the weeds are small. No combines have started yet, but wheat sure looks ready. And the hay guys also need some water to replenish the creeks and ponds for the livestock. Carrie Winkelmann, Tallula, Menard County: The cooler weather last week made the lack of significant rain last month tolerable for the corn and soybeans. Although, the warmer weather forecast this week could really take a toll on both crops. We need rain. I have seen a couple combines out sitting on the edges of wheat fields after sampling, but no one has really gotten going yet. I’ve gotten reports of wheat harvest in nearby Mason County with wheat testing 15 percent moisture. We finished posting beans last week, and it looks like we have gotten that pesky lambsquarter under control. Tom Ritter, Blue Mound, Macon County: Sounds like the same report that I’ve been issuing for several weeks. No major rains — nothing but a couple of traces of precipitation. Overall, crops look fairly well and continue to grow. Corn is curling on the hotter days to protect itself, but at this point, its color and growth are adequate. There is some post application of soybean herbicides, but very little activity otherwise. Everyone is waiting and hoping for rain. We’ve not had enough rain since planting to even put a major crust on the ground. Todd Easton, Charleston, Coles County: A little rain here and there is getting us by for now. The couple tenths we got over the last weekend (June2-3) surely helped, but these dry soils seem to be soaking up anything they get. At some point, some serious precipitation is going to have to hit these fields and give the crops the encouragement they need. Earlier cornfields have slowly advanced to the V8 to V9 stages and are once again showing signs that they need water. Sprayers ran across the countryside this week as producers sprayed herbicide on soybean fields that range from the V2 to V3 growth stages. Normally that would be plenty early for herbicide application, but weeds are growing fast and with resistance issues seen in the past, nobody is taking chances. The beginning of this week has chances for rain in the forecast. Hopefully, they bring enough rain to at least get us by.

Page 7 Monday, June 11, 2012 FarmWeek

CROPWATCHERS Jimmy Ayers, New City, Sangamon County: We received no rain this past week. It was hot and dry. Some of the corn is showing signs of protecting itself — rolling up as early as 8 a.m. Other fields don’t seem to show much response at all to the heat. Corn has a dark green color to it and for the most part looks rather good. A few beans that didn’t get planted deep enough haven’t looked really good. Several are spraying beans. Hay guys are working really well with the dry weather. We are looking forward to the Sangamon County Fair this week — June 13–17 in New Berlin. If you have a chance, you should take part in the festivities. Corn is beginning to get tall enough that safety concerns at the crossroads are warranted at this time so slow down and take the time going through those intersections. Doug Uphoff, Shelbyville, Shelby County: DRY. Some wheat coming out 40-50 bushels per acre and 23-15 percent moistures. Have heard soil is too dry and hard to get double-crop planted but will know more when we try. Corn and soybeans need a drink, but look good considering dry weather. Army Corp of Engineers have told my son, who works for them, that we are in a level one drought. Not sure what that means other than we need a rain and the lake is low. We had 1.5 inches of rain in May and have had 0.5 of an inch in June. David Schaal, St. Peter, Fayette County: Wheat producers began harvesting last week and most are saying it is a little better than they thought it was going to be. Test weight has been running well above 60 pounds. Yields are from mid-50s to more than 70 bushels per acre. After the wheat has been cut off the fields, farmers don’t know whether to go ahead and double-crop beans or wait for rain. Moisture in wheat stubble in this area is down 2 to 2.5 inches. For the most part, corn and soybeans are hanging on and really don’t look too bad. Hoping for rain this week. Dan Meinhart, Montrose, Jasper County: Showers moved through the area on Saturday night, (June 2), but most areas received little or no rain. The week began with cool mild weather. A warming trend set in for the later part and temperatures for the weekend were expected to reach the lower 90s. A lot of fields have very spotty stands. Wheat harvest has begun. Goods yields are being reported. Post chemicals are being applied. There is a slight chance of rain in the forecast for the first part of this week with a cooling trend. Reports received Friday morning. Expanded crop and weather information available at FarmWeekNow.com

Jeff Guilander, Jerseyville, Jersey County: Rain around here is about like winning the lottery — someone inevitably wins — it just isn’t you. We were lucky enough to get a pop-up shower of 0.5 of an inch last Monday (June 4), that kept the corn from rolling for the first day in two weeks. By Wednesday, it was back to rolling up again. It might be enough rain to get some of the beans up that have been planted for a month on the lighter soil, but I’m not holding my breath. The lightning bugs have shown up in full force, which makes me think the Japanese beetles won’t be far behind. Maybe the first wave will be gone before the early corn tassels, but the way it grew last week, that is not far off, either. Wheat is getting real close and it looks like next we’ll soon find out how it will turn out. Right now, I think there is more concern than potential, but a good soaking rain would change that in a hurry. Dave Hankammer, Millstadt, St. Clair County: This past week was dry with the temperatures in the low-80s. Only a few areas received a couple tenths of an inch of rain. Most of the area remained dry. The corn crop is developing well on soil moisture; however, it is showing signs of stress by rolling and pointing its leaves upward toward the sky, begging for rain. Some of the fields planted in mid-May on rolling ground have areas that haven’t emerged yet and the viability of the seed is starting to become a concern. Weed control also is becoming a challenge. Areas of some fields which had previously held water from heavy spring rain are experiencing an outbreak of water hemp and climbing milkweed. The other extreme is fields which received very little rain to fully activate herbicides. The soybean crop also is having similar problems due to the dry conditions despite timely planting. There are a lot of uneven stands of soybeans due to the dry soil. One bright spot to the dry conditions is that it has dried the wheat crop down, allowing harvest to move into full swing. Report of yields varies from the high-40s to mid-60s per acre. Local grain bids are: corn, $6.15; soybeans, $14.32; wheat, $6.18. Rick Corners, Centralia, Jefferson County: Disaster is looming. There I go again. I’ve never seen anything like this. I feel if we don’t get some good, soaking rain soon, things are going to be hurtin’ for certain. Little 8-inch-tall corn twisted by 9 a.m. Very poor stands of soybeans. Wheat may be the only crop we get this year, but it is turning out very good. By the time you read this, most of the wheat probably will be combined.

Kevin Raber, Browns, Wabash County: No rainfall this past week. Corn in the lighter soils rolled up quickly in the mornings. The dry weather has moved wheat harvest along rapidly. I finished wheat harvest Friday. Yields from 65 to 85 bushel and good test weights are something we haven’t had from a wheat crop for several years. The moisture won’t seem to drop from my wheat. With the dry air and soil conditions, I thought it would dry down quickly, but I haven’t had a load go dry yet. Most people are planting double-crop beans in the dry dirt and hoping for a rain. Dean Shields, Murphysboro, Jackson County: I hate to keep singing the same old song, but rain has left our area for quite awhile. Dry, dry, dry. No rain last week to speak of other than maybe a tenth here and there. I heard of one place that had 0.3 of an inch. Jackson County is very dry. Corn is stunted in some places and turned white in some dry areas on the sand. The hill ground is not doing very well, either. Soybean planting has pretty well come to a stop, if there is anything left to be planted because it is just too dry to plant the soybeans. Some are trying double-cropping. The wheat crop turned out to be fairly good. Test weights are high and disease is light, so the quality is pretty good. The yields have jumped all over from very good to not very good. Hopefully, we can get some much-needed rain so we can double-crop. Randy Anderson, Galatia, Saline County Two words can describe this report: “No rain.” I hate to sound like a broken record, but it is getting to the point of no return. Finished wheat this past Monday (June 4). The later varities were better than the earlier ones. Sprayed a few bean fields and worked on a deck for a swimming pool, and that’s about it. Ken Taake, Ullin, Pulaski County: A few showers moved though the area last Monday evening (June 4). Amounts ranged from just a few drops up to 2 inches. We received only 0.2 of an inch. That gets us up to a total of 1 inch of rain since May 1. Needless to say, the crops are looking very stressed. Corn is rolling and soybean stands are very spotty with the emergence not very good due to the lack of rainfall. Wheat harvest is winding down and most of the area farmers that I’ve talked to are pleased with their yields this year.

Postemergence herbicide activity in a dry environment BY BARRY NASH

Since much of Illinois currently is experiencing a prolonged dry period, it is imperative that we understand how most of the weeds will respond to these conditions — as well as how Barry Nash our herbicide applications will perform. Not only are current condit i o n s e x t r e m e l y d r y, b u t humidity levels also are abnormally low, resulting in an excess of plant respiration (excessive moisture loss through the leaf tissues). These environmental condi-

tions will result in a thickening of the leaf cuticle. You may recall that the primary goal of the cuticle is to protect the plant from dehydration. Thus, a significant lack of moisture accompanied by low humidity means a thickened cuticle. Once the cuticle layer thickens on a plant, serious consideration must be given to proper adjuvant selection, herbicide rate, and weed height at the time of application for complete control of any given weed species. Postemergence weed control in a prolonged dry environment can be very challenging. It is imperative that we use the highest herbicide rate recommended on the product’s label. Further, the use of

high-quality adjuvants is a MUST to attain complete and consistent control. In Roundup Ready soybeans, use higher rates of glyphosate to ensure there is enough active ingredient to kill the larger plants. Remember, many of the “big” weeds we are now seeing from the road are actually larger and more mature than they a p p e a r, a d i r e c t r e s u l t o f improper tillag e from late March – early April. All glyphosate applications should include “true” ammo-

nium sulfate as opposed to any ammonium ion formulations or ammonium sulfate substitutes. When using post grass herbicides for volunteer cor n control, be sure to add a crop oil concentrate (COC). The formulation of this chemistry is primarily emusifiable concentrates, e.g. oil-based. Thus, a COC will enhance their activity in dry climates that result in thicker cuticles. Both our crops and weeds are at or approaching dormancy. This is an expected occur-

rence when plants are exposed to prolonged periods of stress. Basically, we are witnessing the “survival of the fittest.” Our job is to find a way to get our herbicides into a plant that has shut down. Higher herbicide rates and high-quality adjuvants are key. Your local FS crop specialist has more information on weed control in dry environments. Ba r r y N a sh is G ROW MARK’s weed science technical manager. His e-mail address is bnash@growmark.com.

FarmWeek Page 8 Monday, June 11, 2012

livestock

Vet: Ag needs to be at table for emergency plans BY KAY SHIPMAN FarmWeek

An avian disease outbreak wasn’t real last week, but the emergency response it elicited from the veterinarians, government officials, and zoo staffs from 10 states and Washington, D.C., was. The participants discussed how to respond to a fictitious outbreak of contagious bird flu at a federal wildlife refuge in Southern Illinois when they converged on the Illinois Farm Bureau building for a day-long exercise. “This is a unique opportunity to bring all the stakeholders together,� said Dr. Yvette Johnson-Walker with the University

of Illinois College of Veterinary Medicine. She directed the emergency exercise. “There is an important role for people in the livestock and poultry industries to be at the table when plans are made for public health and zoonotic (diseases). We’ve got to work together as opposed to pointing fingers of blame,� Johnson-Walker said. Zoonotic diseases are those that can be transmitted between animals and humans. Dr. Yvonne Nadler, a veterinary epidemiologist with with Chicago’s Lincoln Park Zoo, agreed that experts must pool information and work together.

Some participants raised concerns about the individuals who would be handling the sick or dead birds, and WalkerJohnson pointed out the planning needs to address the health of farmers and agriculture workers. “We need to protect the health of agriculture workers and the producers who are right there (on the farms) with their families. We have to consider their needs,� WalkerJohnson said. Walker-Johnson noted care is needed even in naming a disease. “The typical person does not understand the impact on the ag industry. Naming H1N1 swine flu had

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‘We’ve got to work together as opposed to pointing fingers of blame.’ — Yvette JohnsonWalker University of Illinois

good working relationship with each other and the USDA

veterinary services, and they already participate in monthly conference calls, said Dr. Mark Ernst, Illinois state veterinarian. Illinois also has a voluntary emergency response team of veterinarians and veterinary technicians, Ernst added. Illinois Veterinary Emergency Response Team (IVERT) members have been trained to respond to animal disease outbreaks, including foreign animal diseases and possible bioterrorism. Between 150 and 200 individuals participate in IVERT.

Vets offer petting zoo, summer fair pointers Summer means visitors, especially children, will learn about — and touch — animals at county and state fairs, petting zoos, and even farms. The National Association of State Public Health Veterinarians Inc. offered the following recommendations to minimize the spread of disease from animals to visitors: • Hand washing is the most important step for reducing disease transmission. Soap and water is the best way to reduce germs; if those are not available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer that contains at least 60 percent alcohol. • Hand-washing facilities or stations should be accessible to children as well as adults. Volunteers and workers should encourage visitors to wash their hands after they leave the animal area. • Food and drinks should be prohibited from areas with animals and should not be prepared or served in those areas. • There should be a separate storage or holding area for strollers, wagons, diaper bags, etc. away from the animal area. A poster of health tips for visitors to animal exhibits and petting zoos and a full copy of the recommendations are available online at {www.nasphv.org/documentsCompendiaAnimals.html}. — Kay Shipman

USDA reports fewer honey bee colony losses last winter

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an impact,â&#x20AC;? she said. State veterinarians have a

Grow!

Nationwide, beekeepers reported fewer loses of managed honey bee colonies over the winter, according to an annual survey conducted by USDA, the Bee Informed Partnership, and the Apiary Inspectors of America. The 21.9 percent loss is lower compared to the previous five years when reported losses ranged between 29 and 36 percent. The unusually warm winter during 2011/2012 could be one possible contributing factor to the decrease in colony losses, although there has been no scientific investigation of the weatherâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s impact. January 2012 ranks as the fourth-warmest in U.S. history. â&#x20AC;&#x153;A warm winter means less stress on bee colonies and may help them be more resistant to pathogens, parasites, and other problems,â&#x20AC;? said Jeff Pettis, co-leader of the survey and research leader of the Agricultural Research Service Bee Research Laboratory in Beltsville, Md. Among beekeepers who reported colony losses, 37 percent reported they lost some of their colonies but didnâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t find any dead bees. The absence of dead bees is one of the symptoms of colony collapse disorder (CCD), a serious problem that beekeepers began facing in 2006. Scientists were not able to confirm if reported losses were due to CCD or other causes. â&#x20AC;&#x153;Tracking CCD continues to be complex,â&#x20AC;? Pettis said. â&#x20AC;&#x153;Despite several claims, we still donâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t know the cause of CCD.â&#x20AC;? A total of 5,543 beekeepers, who manage nearly 15 percent of the countryâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s estimated 2.49 million colonies, responded to the survey.

Page 9 Monday, June 11, 2012 FarmWeek

markets

Better bugs, new chemicals key to corn profits BY MARTIN ROSS FarmWeek

For scientists like Michael Cotta and Hans Blaschek, it’s not a matter of getting the bugs out of the system. It’s about developing “bugs” that work harder within the system. Last week’s Corn Utilization and Technology Conference in Indianapolis focused on expanding “biorefinery” capabilities — squeezing an expanded portfolio of renewable products from every part of the corn plant. USDA’s Peoria-based National Center for Agricultural Utilization Research (NCAUR) is working to “build on the capacity we’ve built in the fuels area,” by developing value-added “biobased” chemicals, Cotta, NCAUR Fermentation Biotechnology Research Unit leader, told FarmWeek. Cotta sees continued industry momentum toward bio-based replacement of petroleum products, with USDA “leading the charge.” However, NCAUR is focused on research that points the way to product development, rather than merely “taking the lead from industry,” he said. Much of that research centers on identifying and, in some cases, tweaking microorganisms that can interact with starches or

sugars to create both biofuels and commercially valuable industrial compounds. “In addition to enhancing things on the fuel side, we’re trying to see if we can take some of these approaches and expand them into making other products, as well,” Cotta said. “Rather than just making one product, can we spin off other co-products? Can we get some of the organisms we’ve developed for fuel production to make other things?” NCAUR’s Renewable Product Technology Research Unit geneticist Timothy Leathers sees growing promise in petroleum replacement products, but notes they often are not cost-competitive and have limited uses. He argues creative technology is vital to developing organisms that generate more and cheaper materials. A striking example is Aureobasidium pullans, a yeastlike fungus used to produce Pullulan — a polymer used in edible films found in various breath freshener/oral hygiene products. Genetic study of Aureobasidium has identified strains that can produce large quantities of polymalic acid or PMA, a “biopolyester” used in pharmaceutical applications. Other strains produce socalled “heavy oils” that are com-

Livestock industry primed for joint co-product use? Extensive dietary and consumer research, capped with a free steak dinner, suggests promising joint market opportunities for ethanol and biodiesel producers. In an effort funded by corn and soybean growers, University of Minnesota animal scientists weighed the merits of blending ethanol-derived distillers dried grains (DDGs) and glycerine, a co-product of soy biodiesel production, in beef cattle finishing diets. The new ration appears to offer cattlemen solid nutrition and potential cost control amid high corn prices while providing “a good quality, consistent beef product,” U of M graduate research assistant Kaitlyn McClelland reported. “It gives us some more options in replacing corn and giving our cattle producers some more economical options for diet replacement,” McClelland told FarmWeek at last week’s Corn Utilization and Technology Conference. “We found that adding (glycerine) gave us no difference in a lot of our meat-quality parameters, such as color, rancidity, or sensory or flavor attributes. It can give us the same beef that consumers are used to and a nice, consistent product.” While glycerine is used in a wide variety of pharmaceutical, personal care, and other chemical applications, glycerine stocks are rapidly ramping up as the biodiesel sector boosts production capacity nationwide. U of M plans more extensive research into glycerine use in livestock, including economic analysis, but McClelland cites existing studies indicating potential in swine as well as in cattle feeding. In tests comparing pure steam-flaked corn, a 40 percent modified DDGs/corn ration, a 10 percent glycerine/corn blend, and a 40 percent DDGs/10 percent glycerine ration, the DDG/glycerine blend showed little to no difference in terms of carcass data or meat moisture loss or fat profile. Researchers recruited consumers to gauge flavor, texture, tenderness, juiciness, and other attributes in strip steaks produced using various diets. Diners offered high marks in all areas. “We also asked consumers to look at the color of uncooked steaks in the package, just like they would at the grocery store,” McClelland related. — Martin Ross

mercially promising and highly “bio-active.” “Different oils (produced by various strains) appear to have different anti-cancer qualities,” Leathers explained. “We’re currently working to optimize conditions for heavy oil production and recovery for further testing.” Another fungus, Schizophyllum commune, produces Schizophyllan, a compound that aids in drug delivery and makes durable films used to protect foods. Recent studies indicate Schizophyllan also can be produced from distillers dried

grains or corn fiber as well as from starch-based corn glucose, potentially maximizing per-bushel profitability. Meanwhile, a genetic mutation could hasten progress in commercialization of butanol — a prospective corn-based “advanced” biofuel that could be dropped directly into vehicles without first being blended with gasoline. Blaschek, director of the University of Illinois Center for Advanced Bioenergy Research, reported the hardy bacterium Clostridium beijerinckii has continually evolved to pro-

duce butanol from multiple sugars at the same time. One mutant strain has proven to be a “hyper-butanol producing” machine, and researchers are using a genetic “toolkit” to further modify the microbe for tailored chemical production. “Butanol inherently is a more valuable chemical,” Blaschek stressed. “There are a lot of folks who have focused on using it as a (fuel) octane enhancer, but when you look at the chemical market, you can get three times higher value for butanol, and you don’t have to deal with fuel regulations.”

Fiber from field healthy market potential? Want to get your daily fiber without bloating but with beneficial farmer side effects? Mark Cisneros may have the prescription. His Indiana-based company, Nutrabiotix, hopes to commercialize “high-tech fibers” that address digestive disease problems. Nutrabiotix’s initial corn starch-derived product is a “prebiotic” — according to Cisneros, “food for the good bacteria” that aid in gastrointestinal health. During last week’s Corn Utilization and Technology Conference in Indiana, Cisneros argued “we’re trying to change the value proposition of starch.” He envisions a variety of product offerings, from functional foods with built-in fiber and dietary supplements to targeted “medical foods” and pharmaceuticals used to treat specific conditions such as irritable bowel syndrome or Crohn’s disease. “The functional foods and dietary supplements are ready for commercialization,” Cisneros told FarmWeek. “Medical foods

and therapeutic uses are further down the pipeline in our development — there are quite a few regulatory requirements there. “We’re working on those particular approvals, and they’re not very onerous at this point. Putting together pilot market runs is where we’re putting our focus right now. The feedstocks we’re using — corn starch and algae — are used in the food industry currently, so we don’t anticipate any deleterious side effects.” Nutrabiotix’s prebiotic technology, which “entraps” fiber in algae-based “micro-beads” for graduated release, is the result of joint research efforts by Purdue University (the company is located in Purdue Research Park) and Chicago’s Rush University Medical Center. Nutrabiotix now is seeking commercial partners who would source raw materials from growers or corn processors. In addition to an initial granular product, the company hopes eventually to develop a liquid soluble fiber product that could significantly boost a

patient’s dose and, potentially “heal their colon.” In human trials, the Nutrabiotix product displayed a high “non-bloating performance” relative to other dietary fibers that cause heavy initial fermentation in the gut and patient discomfort, Cisneros said. In addition, because of its encapsulated formula, the Nutrabiotix fiber works more effectively than other products in the lower colon. Where existing products spur positive development in one of three groups of beneficial bacteria, the corn starch-based fiber reportedly promotes growth in two classes of organisms. And the new product generates two to three times more butyrate — a substance that fights inflammation and helps create a selective barrier in the colon, Cisneros said. “You want to have the nutrients come into your body and keep the toxins out,” he noted. “That’s what we believe our product is doing.” — Martin Ross

Oils made to order Solazyme sees itself as “a 21st century oil company.” But don’t look for pumps or derricks around the home office. “We turn sugars into oil,” The company’s vice president Walter Rakitsky declared. “Our technology is a bridge between what the corn plant likes to make and what we crave. Starch and corn are fantastic feedstocks for us moving forward.” Solazyme’s oils are no ordinary oils: By using specially tailored microalgae, the California firm can imitate the best qualities of a variety of existing food and industrial oils while eliminating the worst. Picture an imitation palm oil or lard with a healthier olive oil fat profile. Rakitsky argues his company’s approach is far less time-consuming and costly than breeding new oilseed traits, requiring merely “months of development time, vs. years.” And the technology is flexible. Rakitsky sees oil potential in sugar cane, corn, corn stover, and miscanthus, and Solazyme recently purchased a Peoria facility with plans for a demonstration run of its specialized triglyceride oils. Microalgae feed on sugar syrups derived from processed starch, then convert carbohy-

drates into oils. “What we want to do is get these things really fat and full of oil, and, at the end of fermentation, get the oil out,” Rakitsky said. By genetically modifying “corn-fed algae,” Solazyme is able to modify harvested oils for baking, frying, food use, and industrial applications that often tap petroleum sources. Generally, Rakitsky said, “the oil component of food is the weak spot,” and his company is focusing on improving oil processing traits, extending stability and shelf life, and reducing off-flavors. A key goal is development of healthy oils with an improved melting profile — oils “that disappear in your mouth very quickly” without a waxy aftertaste. As with a growing number of value-added, ag-based enterprises (see accompanying story), energy has proven an important element in Solazyme’s development. “We’ve made over a million liters of oil (more than a quarter million gallons) over the last year or two,” Rakitsky said. “Most of that oil has been converted into fuel and used by the Navy.” — Martin Ross

FarmWeek Page 10 Monday, June 11, 2012

events

No speeches? Women say sharing information works well BY KAY SHIPMAN FarmWeek

The Champaign County Farm Bureau Lady Landowners recently used a different meeting format in which participants and experts share information. “The whole goal was to give the women knowledge and confidence and to help them make informed decisions,” said Susie Harbaugh,

the county Farm Bureau’s assistant manager. The woman-centric format, known as a learning circle, has been used successfully for years by Iowa’s Women Food and Agriculture Network and recently adapted for Illinois, according to Ann Sorensen, director of research for American Farmland Trust (AFT). AFT and Prairie Rivers Network worked with the

‘I think it will help women it our county feel more comfor table about asking questions.’ — Marguerite Zahnd Champaign County Farm Bureau Lady Landowners chairman

county Farm Bureau’s Lady Landowners “to deliver information in a different way to

WIU agronomy field day set for June 28 Corn and soybean weed control and the unusual 2012 weather will be among the topics June 28 at Western Illinois University (WIU) School of Agriculture’s annual agronomy field day. The event will be from noon to 3 p.m. at the WIU Agricultural Field Laboratory, Macomb. It will include a meal and presentations from WIU faculty and a University of Illinois Extension educator. “The program will feature plot tours of corn and soybean agronomy and weed-control research being conducted here at WIU,” said Mark Bernards, WIU agronomist.

Tom Williams, a professor in the geography department, will discuss the unique weather phenomenon experienced in Illinois this year, and Angie Peltier, a U of I Extension educator, will talk about identification of corn foliar diseases. Registration is not required, but participants are encouraged to contact the School of Agriculture office to ensure enough food is prepared. To sign up, call the ag school at 309-2981080. For specific questions about the agronomy day, contact Bernards at 309-298-1569 or via e-mail at ML-Bernards@wiu.edu.

Learn to Shine with IFB’s Young Leader Discussion Meet Friendly Competition That Builds Your Leadership Skills Show your art of discussion for hot agricultural topics - and compete for great prizes, including a chance to represent Illinois in the National Discussion Meet.

District & State Discussion Topics:

Additional State Topics:

What can be done to encourage young farmers and ranchers to return home to the farm if it means living in a rural area that does not provide the same amenities (education, health care, technology) as a metropolitan community?

Certain sectors of agriculture are labor intensive and rely heavily on immigrant workers. What is a fair and balanced immigration policy?

How should Farm Bureau help prepare its members-both young and old--for transferring operations to the next generation of farmers and ranchers? What is Farm Bureau’s role in encouraging more transfers?

How can Farm Bureau play a role to ensure the viability of quality agricultural education programs within our schools?

How do we reach out to associate members to provide value to their membership?

Entry Deadline August 1 (to Illinois Farm Bureau) Contact your county Farm Bureau® for eligibility and contest information.

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women. The goal is to make women comfortable,” Sorensen explained. The meeting focused on conservation and included a watershed tour. The participants’ ages ranged from the early 40s to the late 80s. They included landowners and farmers who operated organic and conventional farms of 40 to 2,000 acres. A learning circle, unlike a traditional meeting format, does not have formal presentations by experts. Instead the experts, in this case women specialists, attended and were available to answer questions raised by the participants. Each participant shared information about her background, farm, and experience. Marguerite Zahnd, the Lady Landowners chairman,

said it was beneficial to have women experts, especially those representing government agencies. “I think it will help women in our county feel more comfortable” about asking questions, Zahnd said. “Some (women) were intimidated about walking through the door of the FSA (Farm Service Agency) and SWCD (Soil and Water Conservation District),” Harbaugh added. The women were assured they could ask any questions at the agencies, she said. “It was tough” to have a meeting with no formal presentations, but “it worked really, really well ... Everybody spoke up and asked questions,” Sorensen said. Harbaugh agreed the format was “more encouraging for everyone to participate.” AFT would like to use the learning-circle format again in Champaign County and is considering expanding into other Illinois counties, Sorensen said. “They’re on the right track with the group and circle discussion about issues,” Zahnd concluded.

S. Illinois ag ed fundraiser features shooting, fishing Calling all sports enthusiasts. You have an opportunity to show your skills, compete for prizes, and raise money for Agriculture in the Classroom programs in Randolph and Perry counties. The Pull and Cast for Agriculture Education, competitive sporting clays and a fishing tournament, will be July 29 at the World Shooting and Recreational Complex in Sparta. The early registration deadline is July 16. All proceeds will benefit Agriculture in the Classroom programs. New this year, everyone will receive a complimentary pork burger lunch followed by homemade ice cream with their paid registration fee. The early registration fee for the sporting clays competition is $60 per person for participants older than 18 and increases to $70 after the deadline. The registration fee is $35 per person for those 18 and younger. The early registration fee is $130 per boat for the fishing tournament and $140 after the deadline. A maximum of 35 boats with two-person teams may compete. Boats are limited to a maximum of 10-horsepower motors or use of the trolling motor only. Registration for the fishing tournament will start at 5 a.m., followed by a pre-launch meeting at 5:15 a.m. with fishing to start at 5:30 a.m. The weigh-in will be at noon. Registration for the sporting clays contest will start at 7:30 a.m. with the course opening at 8 a.m. All competitors must be on the course by 1 p.m. At 4 p.m., a shootout will be held for those 18 and younger and another for other competitors. Overall, more than $4,000 in cash and prizes will be awarded, according to Ryan Ford, Randolph County Farm Bureau manager. If there is a full slate of boats, the first-place fishing team will win $1,000. The second-place team will receive $600, and other placings will garner lesser prizes. Gateway FS and Southern FS will reward an additional $250 bonus for the heaviest bass. Sponsored by Buyafarm.com, the youth shootout will award $350 for first place and $150 for second place. Gateway FS and Southern FS also are sponsoring prizes for the shootout. The winner will receive $500 and the second-place contestant will receive $250. To register online, go to {www.rcfb.org} or call Ford at 618443-4511. — Kay Shipman

Page 11 Monday, June 11, 2012 FarmWeek

production

Extension specialists serve as resource Wheat harvest progresses; quality excellent so far BY KAY SHIPMAN FarmWeek

BY DANIEL GRANT FarmWeek

Wheat harvest in Southern Illinois is off to a fast start and quality of the crop so far has been excellent. Bill Bender, a wheat grower from Pinckneyville (Perry County) last week finished harvest and reported some of the best test weights ever on his farm. “The earliest I’ve ever started before this year was June 10. On average the crop is about three weeks ahead of schedule.” Test weights on Bender’s farm (62 to 63 pounds per bushel) were as high as he’d ever seen while yields ranged between 77 and 89 bushels per acre. He applied multiple nitrogen applications along with insecticide and fungicide to achieve such productive results from his wheat crop. “The lack of disease, high yields, and high test weights are attributable to a lot of intense management,” Bender said. Dave DeVore of Siemer Milling Co. in Teutopolis last week reported harvest was just beginning in his area. He also has seen a lot of 60-plus test weights. “Quality is excellent at this point,” DeVore said. “Early indications are yields are going to be good.” Wheat harvest as of the first of last week was 7 percent complete statewide compared to the five-year average of 1 percent, the National Agricultural Statistics Service Illinois field office reported. More than half the crop (57 percent) was ripe last week compared to the average of 1 percent. DeVore believes the good quality of the wheat crop is due in part to a lack of rainfall/disease pressure the last month. “It appears vomitoxin is not an issue,” DeVore said. “It could be one of the best test weight years we’ve seen in some time, as long as we can avoid the rain before we get (the wheat crop) out of the field.” The lack of rain in many parts of the state, however, is a major concern for corn and soybean development. “Farmers can get double-crop beans out there in great time (due to the early wheat harvest),” DeVore said. “But without rain, it’s kind of a waste of time.” Bender plans to wait for rain before he plants double-crop beans. “Some guys are double-cropping in the dust while others are waiting,” he said. “It just depends on your personal preference.” Bender’s farm has received just 0.2 of an inch of rain in the past five weeks.

Housing Continued from page 1 National Pork Producers Council, believes many food company leaders who made policies to phase out gestation stalls haven’t thought through the complexities, logistics, or implications of their requests. He also believes in some cases they have been influenced by animal rights activists, including the Humane Society of the United States. “Simply making an announcement without understanding the entire supply chain’s ability to meet these requests or the challenges involved is utterly befuddling,” Hunt said. And the trend of food companies making policies about gestation stalls could get more difficult to slow each day it gains momentum, according to Jim Kaitschuk, executive director of the Illinois Pork Producers Association. “It seems there is a domino effect going on and some companies are making pressure decisions (about production practices) based on emotion, not science,” he said. “They don’t want to lag behind the trend.” Food companies may continue to push farmers to overhaul the pork production system, but it will be consumers who will decide how their food is raised, according to Plain. “Ultimately, it will come down to what economists call ‘willingness to pay,’” Plain added. “There are a lot of things consumers say they want, but the key is, are they willing to pay the extra cost.”

The University of Illinois Extension is providing education and services following an extensive reorganization of specialists and offices statewide, said Mike Gray, assistant dean for agriculture and natural resources Extension.

south are: Russell Higgins, Northern Illinois Agronomy Research Center, DeKalb/Shabbona; Angie Peltier, Northwestern Illinois Agricultural Research and Demonstration Center, Monmouth; Dennis Bowman, Crop Sciences Research and Education Center, Champaign/Urbana; Meteer,

psdoty@illinois.edu; Duane Friend, friend@illinois.edu; Gary Letterly, letterly@illinois.edu; and Jay Solomon, jssolomo@illinois.edu.

Six educators who specialize in commercial agriculture are based at the university’s research farms around the state. Two of the commercial educators are livestock specialists. Six educators who specialize in commercial agriculture are based at the university’s research farms around the state. Their main focus is providing information for large-scale farming operations, Gray noted. Two of the commercial ag educators, Travis Meteer and Teresa Steckler, are livestock specialists, Gray added. Commercial ag educators and their locations from north to

Orr Agricultural Research and Demonstration Center, Perry; Robert Bellm, Brownstown Agronomy Research Center, Brownstown; and Steckler, Dixon Springs Agricultural Center, Dixon Springs/Simpson. Four other Extension educators are specializing in environmental and energy stewardship in multiple counties. Their names and contact information are: Peggy Doty,

University of Illinois Extension educators are based in towns around the state. The locations of commercial agriculture educators are depicted with squares, while locations of the environmental-energy stewardship educators are shown with stars.

FarmWeek Page 12 Monday, June 11, 2012

SPOTLIGHT ON THE COUNTIES

‘Breakfast on the Farm’ Dairy Month highlight BY TERESA GRANT-QUICK

More than 500 people attended a recent June Dairy Month Observance, “Breakfast on the Farm,” sponsored by the Livingston County Farm Bureau Young Leaders at the Kilgus Farmstead (dairy farm) in Fairbury. The Young Leaders served a hearty breakfast of sausage gravy and biscuits, two scrambled eggs, and 8ounce glass of juice, an 8-ounce glass of Kilgus Farmstead milk, and an 8-ounce cup of coffee for 75 cents. How was the price determined? It was calculated based on the value of the wheat in the biscuit, the market price of a pig, the value of the milk picked up on the farm, and the farm value of eggs. A Florida farmer provided the value of a pound of orange juice solids. The price of 75 cents is what the farmer would receive for the products that he sells that were included in the breakfast. Tours of the Kilgus Dairy

operation were given throughout the morning. Visitors got a chance to see calves and goats, the feeding operation, and milking stations. The milk bottling operation at the Kilgus Farmstead was another chance to show how farmers are diversifying. The Midwest Dairy Association sponsored a booth to highlight the benefits of dairy in one’s diet. Volunteers working the event were Matt and Jenna Kilgus, Paul and Carmen Kilgus, Trent Kilgus, Brad Schmidgall, Dennis Haab, Jason and Tasha Bunting, Katrina Stoller, Michael Kilgus, Phil Hanson, Jessica Collins, Brenda Collins, A.J. Olsen, Roger Wahls, Mark Elliott, Pete and LaRae Walters, Justin Kilgus, Lisa Kilgus, and Joe Palen, and Molly McGrew, Illinois Farm Bureau manager trainee. Teresa Grant-Quick is manager of Livingston County Farm Bureau. She may be reached at 815-842-1103.

Young Leader members Phil Hanson, in foreground, and Jason Bunting serve breakfast during ”Breakfast on the Farm” at the Kilgus Farmstead to kick off Dairy Month. (Photo by Teresa Grant-Quick, Livingston County Farm Bureau manager)

Joliet Junior College establishes scholarship honoring Philip Nelson BY KAY SHIPMAN FarmWeek

A new agriculture leadership scholarship is being established at Joliet Junior College (JJC) to recognize Illinois Farm Bureau Presi-

dent Philip Nelson. Nelson, a 1978 JJC graduate, recently received the college’s distinguished alumni achievement award. “The reason we donated and set up the scholarship is because of his extraordinary achievements in agricultural leadership,” Bill Johnson, JJC agriculture professor, told FarmWeek. Johnson said Nelson was one of his ag students and he also supervised Nelson’s internships. According to the college, Johnson donated money for the Philip Nelson Agriculture Leadership Scholarship and will match contributions for the endowed scholarship.

The goal is to award the first Nelson scholarship in fall 2013. To be eligible, a recipient must be a full-time agriculture JJC student who has demonstrated agriculture leadership achievement through involvement with FFA, 4-H, or other ag organizations. Currently, JJC offers 18 scholarships specifically for agriculture students. Donations for the Nelson scholarship may be made to the JJC Foundation, 1215 Houbolt Road, Joliet, Ill., 60431. Information is available by contacting Kristin Mulvey, the foundation’s executive director, at 815-280-2353.

Auction Calendar

LAWRENCEVILLE, IL. Max Groff Auctioneer. Tues., June 19. 7 p.m. 80 Ac. Farmland. Virginia Lewis, CISNE, IL. Carson Auction Realty & Appraisal Co. www.carsonauctionandrealty.com Tues., June 19. 5:30 p.m. Crawford Co. Farmland Auc. Charles and Sarah Clark, HUTSONVILLE, IL. Parrott Real Estate & Auction Co., Inc. www.parrottauctions.com Thurs., June 21. 10 a.m. Douglas Co. Real Estate. HINDSBORO, IL. Stanfield Auction Co. www.stanfieldauction.com Fri., June 22. 10 a.m. Winnebago Co. Land Auc. Hertz Farm Mgmt. www.hfmgt.com Thurs., June 28. 10 a.m. McHenry Co. Land Auctions. MARENGO, IL. Farmers National Company. www.farmersnational.com Sat., June 30. 6 p.m. Perry Co. Land Auc. Sprague Land Co. & John and Heather Wilmesher, OKAWVILLE, IL. Sullivan Auctioneers. www.sullivanauctioneers.com Sat., June 30. 9:30 a.m. Antique Tractor and Eq. Auc. BROWNTOWN, WI. Powers Auction Service. www.powersauction.com Tues., July 24. 10:30 a.m. Land and Gravel Pit Auction. Dan and Paula Ellberg, FORRESTON, IL. www.lennybrysonauctioneer.com

Tues,. June 12. Will Co. Farmland Auction. Salzmann Farm. Soy Capital Ag Services. www.soycapitalag.com Wed., June 13. 6 p.m. 1,460+/Ac. Fulton Co., IL. CANTON, IL. United Country, Wallingford Group. duckcreekauction.com Wed., June 13. 7 p.m. Real Estate Auction. Fort Russell Mgmt. LLC, BETHALTO, IL. Henke Auction & Realty, LLC. www.henkeauction.com Thurs., June 14. McLean Co. Farmland Auc. John Cox Farms. Soy Capital Ag Services. www.soycapitalag.com Thurs., June 14. McLean Co Farmland Auction. Soy Capital Ag Services. www.soycapitalag.com Fri., June 15. 10 a.m. JD and Farm Collectibles. Irwin Conklen Estate, NEW HOLLAND, IL. Sanert Auction Service and Mike Maske Auction Service. www.sanertauction.com or www.maskeauction.com Fri., June 15. 10 a.m. Kishwaukee Rd. #2 Farm/Ogle and Winnebago Land Auc. ROCKFORD, IL. www.mgw.us.com Sat., June 16. 9:30 a.m. Farm machinery. Victor Payne Estate, LEXINGTON, IL. Schmidgall Auction Service. www.topauctions24-7.com/schmidgall Sat., June 16. 9 a.m. Consignment Auc. Groff Eq.,

Page 13 Monday, June 11, 2012 FarmWeek

from the counties

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DAMS — The YoungFarmers will host a fun night at 6:30 p.m. Thursday, June 21, at the Gems baseball game. Tickets and food will be free. Call the Farm Bureau office at 222-7306 for reservations or more information. UREAU — Bureau and Lee County Farm Bureaus will sponsor a trip Friday, Aug. 17, featuring a boat ride on the LaSalle Canal and a tour of the Hegeler Carus Mansion. Cost is $35, which includes lunch. Tour registration and payment are due to the Farm Bureau office by Monday, July 30. Call the Farm Bureau office at 815875-6468 for reservations or more information. • Bureau and Lee County Farm Bureaus will sponsor their annual golf outing at 9 a.m. Friday, June 29, at Timber Creek, Dixon. The tournament will be a four-person scramble. Cost is $200, which includes golf, cart, and lunch. All proceeds will benefit the Ag in the Classroom programs. Call the Farm Bureau office by Friday, June 22, for reservations or more information. • Bureau and Henry County Farm Bureau Foundations will sponsor a Tractor Trek Saturday and Sunday, June 23-24, from Princeton to Cambridge. Registration fee is $75, with a one-day trek option from Princeton to Annawan for $40. Proceeds will benefit Ag in the Classroom. Call Dave Doty at 815-739-5983 for more information. ARROLL — Farm Bureau will sponsor a bus trip Friday, July 13, to see the Chicago Cubs vs. Arizona Diamondbacks game at Wrigley Field. Cost is $70. Call the Farm Bureau office at 815-244-3001 or visit the website {www.carrollcfb.org} for more information. • The Membership Appreciation Breakfast will be from 6:30 to 10:30 a.m. Friday, June 29, at the Farm Bureau office. Call the Farm Bureau office for more information. HAMPAIGN — Farm Bureau and the Champaign County Soil and Water Conservation District (SWCD) will sponsor an ag drainage update meeting from 8 to 11 a.m. Wednesday, June 20, at the Farm Bureau office. Jim Ayers, an attorney; Yvonne Odom, Farm Service Agency; Richard Cooke University of Illinois associate professor; and Bruce Stikkers, Champaign County SWCD, will be the speakers. Call the Farm Bureau office for more information. • The Champaign County Farm Bureau Foundation and Farm Credit Services will sponsor a Pull 4 Agriculture sporting clays event at 7 a.m. Saturday, July 7, at Ole Barn Sporting Clays, Oakland. Registration will close at 1 p.m. Cost is $60 per shooter or $200 for a team of four, which includes a raffle tick-

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et for a Beretta semi-automatic gun and lunch. Mail registration and check to Champaign County Farm Bureau Foundation, Attention: Pull 4 Ag, 801 N. Country Fair Drive, Suite A, Champaign, Ill., 61821. Call 217-352-5235 for more information. OLES — The Coles County Ag Breakfast will be at 7 a.m. Thursday, June 28, at the Custom Smokehouse, 3020 Lake Land Blvd., Mattoon. Cost is $8. Cameron Craig, Eastern Illinois professor, will discuss environmental changes that have created the land that we farm. Call the Farm Bureau office at 345-3276 by Thursday, June 21, for reservations or more information. OOK — Farm Bureau will sponsor a “Paint the Yard” contest. Members are encouraged to visit a participating garden center (list available by calling the Farm Bureau office at 708-354-3276), obtain an entry form, and submit the form and pictures of the garden to Farm Bureau. Participating garden centers will provide gift certificates to the winners. Forms are due by Friday and photos by July 15. Voting will be from July 15 to Aug. 7. Call the Farm Bureau office for more information. • Farm Bureau will sponsor a tour of the Metropolitan Water Reclamation District’s labs from 9 to 11:30 a.m. Tuesday, July 10. Call the Farm Bureau office at 708-354-3276 for reservations or more information. ULTON — Fulton and Mason County Farm Bureaus will sponsor a meeting at 7 p.m. Thursday, July 5, for landowners impacted by the Enbridge pipeline project. The meeting will be at the Mason County Farm Bureau office, 127 S. High, Havana. An Enbridge representative will give a presentation. Following the presentation, Rae Payne, Illinois Farm Bureau senior director of business and regulatory affairs, and Ryan Gammelgard, IFB general counsel, will discuss the pipeline. Call the Farm Bureau office for more information. ENRY — Henry and Rock Island County Farm Bureaus will sponsor a marketing program at 6:15 p.m. Thursday, June 21, at the Moline Viking Club, Moline. Steve Johnson, Iowa State University Extension farm and ag business management specialist, will be the speaker. A buffet dinner will be served. Cost is $20 if preregistered or $30 for walk-ins. Call Henry County Farm Bureau office at 309-937-2411 or the Rock Island County Farm Bureau office at 309-736-7432 for reservations or more information. • Members may purchase discounted tickets to the Henry County Fair, June 19-24. Call the Farm Bureau office at 309-9372411 for more information.

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• An agricultural rescue training session will be from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday, July 21, at the Kewanee Fire Department, 401 E. Third St., Kewanee. Deadline to register is Friday, June 22. Register online at {www.fsi.illinois.edu}. Call the Bureau County Farm Bureau at 815-8756468, Henry County Farm Bureau at 309-937-2411, or Stark County Farm Bureau at 309-2867481 for more information. EE — The Farm Bureau will sponsor a legislative breakfast at 8 a.m. Monday, June 18, at Mama Cimin’s special events room, Dixon. Area legislators have been invited. Call the Farm Bureau office at 857-3531 or e-mail leecfb@comcast.net by Friday for reservations or more information. CDONOUGH — Hancock and McDonough County Farm Bureaus, Haley Risk Protection, and Sullivan Auctioneers LLC will sponsor a marketing program at 7 p.m. Monday, June 18, at the Spoon River Outreach Center, Macomb. Steve Johnson, Iowa State University Extension farm management specialist, will be the speaker. The seminar is free to all Farm Bureau voting members. Cost for associate and nonmembers is $10. Call the Farm Bureau office at 309-837-3350 or e-mail mcdfb@logonix.net for reservations or more information. ERCER — The Marketing Committee will sponsor a market outlook meeting at 7 p.m. Thursday at the Farm Bureau office. Dan

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Zwicker, Consolidated Grain and Barge market analyst, will be the speaker. Call the Farm Bureau office at 309-582-5116 for more information. • Mercer and Rock Island County Farm Bureaus will sponsor a local government series. The first will focus on township government and will be at 6:30 p.m. Wednesday, June 20, at the Reynolds American Legion. A light dinner will be served. Jerry Crabtree, Township Officials of Illinois associate director; Kevin Rund, Illinois Farm Bureau director of local government; and Brenda Matherly, IFB assistant director of local government, will be the speakers. Call the Farm Bureau office at 309582-5116 or e-mail mcfb1@frontier.net by Wednesday for reservations or more information. ONTGOMERY — Farm Bureau will sponsor a defensive driving course from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. Thursday at the Farm Bureau office. Cost is $15. Call the Farm Bureau office at 217-532-6171 for reservations or more information. • The Prime Timers will meet at noon Wednesday, June 20, at the Farm Bureau office. A fried chicken lunch will be served. Donna Roach and Don Clausen will provide the entertainment. Cost is $8. Call the Farm Bureau office at 217-532-6171 for reservations or more information. OCK ISLAND — Steve Johnson, Iowa State University Extension, will be the featured speaker Thursday, June 21, at the Moline Viking Club,

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Moline. The evening will begin with a buffet dinner at 6:15 p.m., followed by an update from Mike Schaver, Gold Star FS Grain merchandiser. Johnson will discuss supply/demand and price forecasts, outside markets, U.S. and global economies, role of commodity and index funds, charts and technical analysis, and marketing strategies and tools. The pre-registration cost for the single session is $20 or $30 the day of the event. Call the Farm Bureau office at 309736-7432 to register. ERMILION — Farm Bureau is hosting a master grain contracts meeting at 6 p.m. Tuesday, June 19, in the Farm Bureau auditorium. Laura Harmon, Illinois Farm Bureau assistant general counsel, and Jerry Quick, a grain law expert, will be the speakers. They will discuss the ontracts — a new approach for contracting grain sales between farmers and elevators. • The Young Leaders Committee is hosting a District 12 Young Leaders cookout at Sleepy Creek Vineyards on June 23. Reservations are due by Friday. Contact your District 12 county Farm Bureau office for reservations and details.

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

The Freedom To Grow The Support To Succeed s!REYOULOOKINGFORANEWCAREER s7OULDYOULIKECONTROLOVERYOUROWNINCOME s$OYOUWANTTORUNYOUROWNBUSINESSANDBEYOUROWNBOSS s$OYOUWANTTOBEINBUSINESSFORYOURSELFBUTNOT"9YOURSELF Find out more about being a COUNTRY Financial representative. Go to www.countrycareer.com today.

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FarmWeek Page 14 Monday, June 11, 2012

profitability

Extended trading hours require added market awareness BY BRYCE STREMMING

Until mid-May, overnight electronic trading took place from 6 p.m. to 7:15 a.m. Sunday night through Friday morning with open outcry and electronic trading open from 9:30 a.m. until 1:15 Bryce Stremming p.m. Monday through Friday. As of May 14, the Intercontinental Exchange now trades agricultural futures electronically from 7 p.m. to 5 p.m. Central Time Sunday evening through Friday afternoon. On May 20, the CME Group, owners of the Chicago Board of Trade, expanded trading hours to 5 p.m. to 2 p.m. Sunday evening through Friday afternoon. This creates some trading issues that are still being addressed. One issue is open outcry closing at 1:15 p.m., while electronic trade continues until 2 p.m. This causes difficulties for grain buyers and sellers regarding where to set closing prices. The 1:15 p.m. close is the official close, but the 2 p.m. trade stoppage more accurately reflects the market, as it is the last trade. Various trade groups are lobbying the CME as this article is being written requesting the

open outcry session close at 2 p.m. to rectify this problem. Another issue is that USDA reports, specifically monthly supply and demand reports, will be issued while trading is in progress, giving no time to analyze the reports. Beginning with Tuesday’s report, open outcry will begin at 7:20 a.m. on dates of major reports. A request for a suspension of trade for a brief time on report mornings in order for

the reports to be analyzed seems unlikely as the Intercontinental Exchange has no plans to adopt this schedule. What does this mean for the producer marketing grain? Most likely it means more volatility. As mentioned in a previous article, daily price volatility has increased the past five years and the price range for corn and beans on report days is 27 and 35 cents, respectively. We are accustomed to

having time in the morning and afternoon to analyze bids and pricing opportunities. Longer trading hours and trading during reports being issued shortens or erases the time for analysis. Working with your local elevator manager or merchandiser to establish pricing objectives becomes even more important. Attractive pricing levels can appear and vanish extremely quickly.

Bryce Stremming is MID-CO COMMODITIES commodity risk consultant. His e-mail address is bstremming@mid-co.com.

time last year while the average litter size grew about 2 percent. “We could have a substantial increase in pork production a year from now,” Meyer said. A lot could depend on feed availability and prices. “If we have a record (corn) harvest, that will give us a lot lower feed prices,” said Ron Plain, University of Missouri Extension econo-

mist. “If that pans out, I think we’ll expand the breeding herd.” If that happens, Plain also looks for lower hog prices. “I think we’ll make it up to the low-$90s for a carcass price this summer, but maybe back to the upper-$70s by fall,” Plain said. “And next year’s price may be no better than this year’s price, maybe lower.”

Your risk is not a penny or two difference in competing grain firms’ bids, it is missing pricing opportunities in volatile markets. Your local elevator is more than willing to work with you in setting pricing objective, if you are willing to use their services.

Buildup of pork supply could pressure hog prices

should be pricing opportunities for fall. Be ready to take An increase in pork produc- action.” tion in recent months has put Overall, Meyer forecast U.S. pressure on hog prices. hog producers this year will But the market still could make an average profit of rally this sum$5.70 per head, mer and prowhich would be ducers should up from $4.59 be prepared to ‘We could have a per head last take advantage s u b s t a n t i a l year but less of the situahalf of increase in pork than tion, according what producers production a year made in 2010. to Steve Meyer, president of Margins from now.’ Paragon Ecohave been nomics. squeezed by “I still think — Steve Meyer lower hog we’ll rally hogs prices and high Paragon Economics up into the production $90s this sumcosts. Meyer mer,” Meyer projected protold farmers last week at the duction costs this year could World Pork Expo in Des average $84.66 per hundredMoines. “If the cash market weight, which would be the lifts the futures market, there second-highest on record. Hog prices in recent months have been slowed by weak demand and increased production. Feeder pig prices reported to USDA* “Year-to-date pork production is up 2.2 percent,” Meyer Weight Range Per Head Weighted Ave. Price 10 lbs. $27.25-46.00 $38.64 said. “That’s put pressure on 40 lbs. $43.00-53.00 $48.40 cut-out values since early This Week Last Week Receipts March.” 84,240 109,136 *Eastern Corn Belt prices picked up at seller’s farm Pork prices in the first quarter were lifted by a 17 percent Eastern Corn Belt direct hogs (plant delivered) jump in exports. But Meyer (Prices $ per hundredweight) believes it could be difficult to This week Prev. week Change Carcass $87.56 $81.83 5.73 sustain the export pace. Live $64.79 $60.55 4.24 The Chinese and South USDA five-state area slaughter cattle price Koreans — major importers of (Thursday’s price) (Thursday’s price) U.S. pork last year — have Prev. week Change This week built up their domestic hog Steers 122.21 121.47 0.74 Heifers 121.93 121.98 -0.05 herds, the European debt crisis has thrust much of Europe CME feeder cattle index — 600-800 Lbs. into a recession, and the rising value of the dollar is making This is a composite price of feeder cattle transactions in 27 states. (Prices $ per hundredweight) American commodities more Prev. week Change This week 155.14 152.30 2.84 expense and thus less attractive to foreign buyers. Lamb prices “The dollar futures index is up 12 percent since SeptemSlaughter Prices - Negotiated, Live, wooled and shorn 120-155 lbs. for ber,” the economist said. “That 137-162 $/cwt. (wtd. ave. 151.97). means our products are more expensive (in the world market).” Export inspections Meanwhile, U.S. pork pro(Million bushels) Week ending Soybeans Wheat Corn ducers have increased produc05-31-12 17.0 21.6 27.1 tion via efficiencies and 05-24-12 12.7 20.6 30.4 Last year 4.7 22.5 37.9 expansion of the breeding Season total 1163.5 1035.8 1220.9 herd. Previous season total 1397.9 1269.6 1339.5 USDA projected total 1315 1025 1700 USDA reported the U.S. hog Crop marketing year began June 1 for wheat and Sept. 1 for corn and soybeans. breeding herd in March was 1 percent larger than the same BY DANIEL GRANT FarmWeek

M A R K E T FA C T S

USDA

Farm Service Agency ACREAGE CERTIFICATION: Time is nearing for farmers to certify their 2012 acreage. Filing an accurate acreage report for all crops and land uses, including failed acreage and prevented planting acreage, can prevent the loss of benefits for a variety of programs. July 16 is the deadline for filing an acreage report for spring-planted crops. Failed acreage must be reported before disposition of the crop. Prevented planting must be reported no later than 15 days after the final planting date for the applicable crop. Acreage reports on crops covered by the Noninsured Crop Disaster Assistance Program (NAP) are due in the county office by the earlier of the acreage reporting date or 15 calendar days before the onset of harvest or grazing of the specific crop acreage being reported. CRP GENERAL SIGN-UP RESULTS: USDA had announced it would accept 3.9 million acres offered under the 43rd Conservation Reserve Program (CRP) general sign-up. During the extended five-week signup, USDA received nearly 48,000 offers on more than 4.5 million acres of land. USDA accepted 2,276 offers on 52,190 acres from Illinois farmers. FSA SEEKS MICROLOAN COMMENTS: To further help beginning farmers and ranchers, FSA is seeking comments by July 23 on a new microloan program that would simplify and streamline the process for obtaining operating loans of less than $35,000. The intended effect of the proposed rule is to make the operating loan program more widely available and attractive to smaller farmers with reduced application requirements that reduce application processing times and add flexibility to meet managerial eligibility requirements. The proposed program rule may be viewed at: {www.fsa.usda.gov/FSA/federalNotices?area=home&subject=la re&topic=frd-pi}. Submit comments online to {www.regulations.gov} or by mailing them to: Director, Loan Making Division (LMD), FSA, USDA, 1400 Independence Ave., SW, Stop 0522, Washington, D.C. 20250-0522.

Page 15 Monday, June 11, 2012 FarmWeek

PROFITABILITY Corn Strategy

CASH STRATEGIST

Wheat exports exceeding expectations

Wheat exports for the first time since last fall are beginning to exceed USDA’s projection. Certainly domestic and international supplies of wheat remain adequate to meet the near-term demand. U.S. supplies could decline quicker than anticipated if the current corn/wheat ratio holds, as wheat will be viewed a viable feed alternative. In addition, it appears as if Russia’s wheat crop may not reach expectations due to a dry growing season. Since late April, soybean shipments have started to demonstrate momentum and are now

on track to meet USDA projections. With the disappointing South American soybean crop, some export demand could be pushed back toward the U.S. However, the wildcard going forward will be demand out of China. Recent talk has been circulating that the Chinese could step back into the market this month and start making some purchases, but it is still unknown if they will sustain buying in the future. Corn exports continue to lag and are not showing any signs of picking up in the near-term. Over the past several months, weekly export sales numbers persistently came in below trade expectations. While the Chinese were aggressive buyers during the winter months, they currently have backed off making U.S. corn purchases.

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ü2011 crop: Over the past week, old crop has gained upward momentum on renewed concern about tight supplies. However, we are still in the mindset that you need to be aggressive in pricing remaining old-crop supplies on rallies. Use rallies near $5.90 on July futures to wrap-up sales. ü2012 crop: Sales should have been increased another 10 percent when December futures hit $5.33, bringing sales to 50 percent complete. We prefer hedge-to-arrive contracts for making sales, but plan to tie up the basis by midsummer. vFundamentals: The trade’s attention has been focused on the hot and dry weather pattern developing over the Midwest. The models are not calling for any significant rain event over the next eight to 10 days and the last system that moved through was a disappointment. However, there is still the potential for a record corn crop this year, and this likely will limit some of the upside movement. Weekly export sales over the past few weeks have been disappointing.

Soybean Strategy

ü2011 crop: Fresh talk of export demand out of China and a dry weather pattern have turned the short-term trend back higher. Use rallies to $14.21 on July futures to sell old-crop soybeans other than any “gambling stocks” you want to hold into summer. ü2012 crop: Sales should have been pushed up another 10 percent when November futures reached $13.25, bringing sales to 50 percent complete. vFundamentals: The dry weather pattern has presented some concern about the size of the double-crop plantings. The current models are not offering much relief over the next eight to 10 days. World economy got a surprising boost when China’s Central Bank cut interest rates by .25 of a percent. The rate cut is the first for China since 2008 and considered supportive for

commodities and equities. Weekly export sales came in within trade expectations and a fresh old-crop soybean sale to China recently was reported.

Wheat Strategy

ü2012 crop: Following the recent break, the trend has turned sideways to slightly higher. It is going to be difficult to sustain significant upside momentum due to seasonal pressure. Sales should have been increased 15 percent when Chicago July traded above $6.80, bringing them to 60 percent. If you failed to pull the trigger, make catch-up sales with Chicago July trading to $6.45. Producers selling 100

percent off the combine need to be aggressive making sales on rallies. The futures carry makes it attractive to store wheat during the summer, but only if it’s priced or hedged. vFundamentals: Winter wheat harvest already has moved into the top wheat producing state of Kansas. Yield reports so far have been coming in above expectations following concern about hot and dry conditions late in the growing season. The trade continues to keep a watchful eye on weather in Russia. Due to a lack of moisture, expectations are the Russian crop will fall short and exports could lag.

FarmWeek Page 16 Monday, June 11, 2012

pERspEcTIvEs

A-maize-ing corn has astonishing history

Here in Illinois, surrounded by the vast acreages of corn and beans, we have a special vantage point from which to appreciate our ancient heritage of agriculture. Seeing the corn emerge from the ground renews MARI LOEHRLEIN that annual feeling of optimism that this will be a good harvest year. It is easy to forget that, with all our modern technology of machinery and global positioning systems to aid our efforts, we have the ancient Olmec people to thank for the basic technology on which all of this is founded. After all, they have not only been cultivating maize (an alternative term for corn, based on its botanical name Zea mays) for several thousand years, they purposely selected seeds year after year for traits such as larger kernels, increased number of rows of kernels, and the ability of an ear to hold onto its seeds long enough for it to be harvested.

They developed agricultural systems, too. The milpas of Guatemala and Mexico are maize fields in which a dozen or so crops are grown together. Melons, tomatoes, amaranth, squash, and beans often are included. According to archeologists and others, the crops grown are nutritionally complementary. They say that the amino acid composition — the building blocks of protein — of the different plants complement each other. In that way, complete proteins can be had, and nutritional deficiencies can be avoided. Apparently, the milpa system of growing corn was imported and dispersed throughout what is now the United States along with the corn itself. In the northeastern U.S., for example, the Iroquois taught the growing of corn, beans, and squash together in a system called “Three Sisters” gardening. The Legend of the Three Sisters indicates the strong cultural, and even spiritual, connection that existed between people and the food they cultivated.

Nutritionally, corn and beans combine to provide complete protein. Agriculturally, beans fix nitrogen in a symbiotic relationship with soil microbes. That is, the microbes take gaseous nitrogen from the air and transform it into a form plants can take up and use. The nutrients become available to the high-nitrogen-using corn the following year. Modern farmers in Illinois use a system of rotation to accomplish a similar benefit from growing soybeans. Other beans, or legumes, as they also are known, can provide this benefit. Thus, clovers and vetches are often used as cover crops for that purpose. The development of maize as a food source is an intriguing and astonishing story, the roots of which are as yet not entirely clear. It almost certainly began with a grass-like plant called Teosinte (from the Nahuatl “grain of the Gods”), and is thought to have been aggressively bred by people in or near southern Mexico more than 6,000 years ago. Maize researchers speak of

landraces, or locally adapted genetic types of maize. At least 50 genetically distinguishable types have been identified in Mexico alone. Estimates of as many as 5,000 landraces may exist in the southern Mexico-Central American region. American farmers of today still rely on the development of genetic types or cultivars, as we now call them (for cultivated variety). Thousands of corn cultivars have been developed, and hybridizing is an ongoing process, allowing farmers to select the ones best suited to their growing conditions. So, the cycle continues, and most certainly will continue indefinitely. As we watch and wait for yet another harvest, it is good to take a step back and appreciate the heritage we have received from those who have gone before and made life as we know it possible. Mari Loehrlein is a professor of horticulture and landscaping in the School of Agriculture at Western Illinois University, Macomb. Her email address is MM-Loehrlein @wiu.edu.

Step back in time, farming with the 1940 census Earlier this spring the National Archives released the 1940 census to the public. If you are wondering what took so long, there is a 72-year waiting period required by law STEWART to respect the TRUELSEN privacy of the respondents. The personal information, which by law cannot be released for any census for 72 years, had been awaited anxiously by the growing number of amateur genealogists trying to fill out a family tree and learn more about their ancestry. Prior to the release, the 1930 census was the latest available. A census of the population has been taken every 10 years since 1790, primarily for the apportionment of members to the House of Representatives. However, it also provides a useful snapshot of the population of America. In 1940, it would

have been a Kodak Brownie black-and-white photo. The population of the United States was 132.2 million then, including the territories of Alaska and Hawaii — a little more than 5 million were farmers. By the 2010 census, the population had more than doubled to 308.7 million, and there were 751,000 full-time farmers, ranchers, and agricultural managers. The decline in farm population started well before the 1940 census and was expected to continue. The Agriculture Department reported at least twice as many young people were maturing each year in rural areas than would be needed on the farm. The transition from real horsepower to tractor power, which was still going on, reduced the need for farm labor. This was a major concern because the national unemployment rate in 1940 was

14.6 percent. There weren’t many jobs to be found in the cities to accommodate rural youth. Besides, not all were anxious to leave the countryside. Writing in the 1940 Yearbook of Agriculture, Harvard University philosophy professor William Hocking said, “The farm has an opportunity for normal family life which is still definitely superior to that of the city, in spite of rapid recent changes.” Hocking even warned that “no civilization survives when the urbanite becomes the model for all groups.” The American Farm Bureau Federation didn’t find farming entirely superior. In 1940, it sought to raise farm prices relative to industrial prices and create a fair economic balance between farmers and other groups. Sadly, Americans who filled out the census forms in 1940 had no idea that the fighting in World War II would erase

more than 400,000 of their names from the next tally, including young farmers and ranchers. The postwar years saw rapid change. Suburban living became the compromise between choosing to live in the city or rural countryside. The unemployment rate plunged as manufacturing and construction grew and the Baby Boom Generation was born. The snapshot of America taken in 1940 became quickly outdated by all those events, but its release this year gives many of us a chance to find and appreciate our connection to that difficult yet interesting time. The official website of the 1940 Census is {www.1940census.archives.gov}. Stewart Truelsen is a regular writer of American Farm Bureau Federation columns and wrote “Forward Farm Bureau” about AFBF’s 90th anniversary.

LETTER TO THE EDITOR Likes proposal to cut crop insurance subsidy

Editor: The Government Accountability Office (GAO) has suggested capping the amount that each farmer’s crop insurance premiums are subsidized by the government. As long as this is simply a ceiling on the dollars the government will contribute to subsidizing my crop insurance premiums and not a limit on the amount of unsubsidized crop insurance I can purchase, this is an eminently reasonable cost-cutting policy reform. According to my 2011 crop insurance bill, that premium subsidy was about $10 an acre for soybeans and $16 an acre for corn on an 80 percent Crop Revenue Coverage policy. Under this reform, after I have used up my maximum premium subsidy, I start paying the full insurance premium on my acres above that. Illinois Farm Bureau has strongly opposed this reform suggestion. IFB says that this reform “would make it more difficult for farmers to obtain loans and grow their businesses, stifling rural economies. …” This is not quite true. It would only make it a bit more expensive for farmers to grow their businesses beyond a certain size. No ground will go unfarmed, though it may more likely be farmed by a farmer in the area instead of a farmer two counties away. If the ag community resists such reasonable reforms, how can we effectively argue for truly critical improvements in surface transportation and estate tax relief ? DARREL MILLER, Danvers

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Letters are limited to 300 words and must include a name and address. FarmWeek reserves the right to reject any letter and will not publish political endorsements. All letters are subject to editing, and only an original with a written signature and complete address will be accepted. A daytime telephone number is required for verification, but will not be published. Only one letter per writer will be accepted in a 60-day period. Typed letters are preferred. Send letters to: FarmWeek Letters 1701 Towanda Ave. Bloomington, Ill., 61701


FarmWeek June 11 2012