Page 1

North American Meat Institute members crush meat myths on a new website. page 3

IFB leaders and staff proved worthy advocates of top priorities with federal and state legislators. page 4

Young Leaders cite their top challenges in the latest American Farm Bureau Federation survey. page 8

Farm input costs rise; Ag Confidence Index slips Monday, March 30, 2015

BY DANIEL GRANT FarmWeek

Results of the latest DTN Ag Confidence Index reveal a more pessimistic outlook as farmers prepare for the planting season. A preplanting survey of 500 farmers across the U.S. conducted Feb. 18 to March 2 came in at a score of 98.8 on the Ag Confidence Index. Anything below 100 shows pessimism.

Two sections Volume 43, No. 13

“This is the lowest score we’ve had (since DTN began the survey in April 2010), although it’s still fairly close to neutral,” said Katie Micik, DTN markets editor. The latest survey of farmers also shows the cautious view of the future spread geographically and among sectors within agriculture. “The last time we conducted the survey, the pessimism

Egg study a positive for animal agriculture BY JOANIE STIERS FarmWeek

Periodicals: Time Valued

A definitive, three-year study on various egg production systems inadvertently cast negative light on “free-range” egg-laying in terms of animal welfare and worker health. A coalition that includes prominent stakeholders like McDonald’s and General Mills late this month announced results of the Laying Hen Housing Research Project, a commercial-scale sustainability study of three types of egg production systems. The research intended to identify the trade-offs and risk factors among housing systems, which included conventional cage,

enriched colony and cage-free aviary systems, often called “free-range.” The study had no intention to identify a “best” or “worst” system, the report noted. “To me, what spoke very loudly is that this was very counter-intuitive to what a person would think is a system that would work out the best for chickens,” said Jim Fraley, Illinois Farm Bureau livestock program director. “Basically, the more room you give chickens, the more trouble they get into.” While egg quality rated the same across all three housing types, the study recorded differences in worker health, food affordability and animal welfare. Most notably, results of this study showed aviary, or “free-range,” environments led to higher death rates. Specifically, the “pecking order” behavior contributed to twice the death rate in an aviary system versus conventional. The results also showed that hens in the aviary system sustained more breast bone damage than the other systems studied, likely from failed flight landings. Meanwhile, the bone structures of See Egg, page 2

was primarily from crop producers in the Midwest,” Micik said. “This time it was much more widespread.” Farmers’ economic expectations not only are fading in the Midwest, but also in the southern U.S., according to the latest DTN survey. Livestock farmers, after record prices last year, also are feeling more financial stress. The financial stress results

from the combination of lower commodity prices and steeper input prices. USDA projects farm income this year could plunge 32 percent from $108 billion to $73.6 billion. If realized, farm income would sink to its lowest level since 2007. Meanwhile, despite lower energy and feed prices, USDA forecasts total farm production expenses this year actually

will increase 1 percent ($2.5 billion) to a record $370 billion in nominal dollars (2014 expenses were higher in inflation-adjusted dollars). If realized, farm expenses would constitute 83 percent of gross farm income, the highest share in the past six years. “Input prices haven’t really See Confidence, page 2

SCIENCE CENTER STAFF TOURS FARM

Above, Dairy farmer Marvin Beer, second from left, talks with Saint Louis Science Center staff during a tour of Beer’s Robo Holstein LLC farm near Mascoutah last week. St. Clair County Farm Bureau invited staff to visit farms. Staff members plan to build a $6 million agricultural exhibit on 1 acre of land and include 50,000 square feet of exhibit. From left, Matthew Stevens of the science center listens to Beer along with Richard Osborn, dair yman Mark Beer, St. Clair County Farm Bureau President Paul Beisiegel and Patti LaBrott. Right, LaBrott of the Saint Louis Science Center meets a new friend. Illinois and Missouri Farm Bureaus agreed to help pay for the center exhibit’s interactive map, which will provide a high definition, aerial view of farms, roads and cities. (Photos by DeLoss Jahnke, RFD Radio Network® anchor)


Quick Takes

FarmWeek • Page 2 • Monday, March 30, 2015

WOMEN SHARE COMMON AG BOND Top, David Kohl, Virginia Tech professor emeritus, discusses family living expenses and record keeping with more than 200 women attending the recent bi-state Women in Agriculture Conference in Rock Island. Bureau, Carroll, Fulton, Henry, Knox, Lee, Mercer, McDonough, Rock Island, Stark, Warren-Henderson and Whiteside Farm Bureaus along with Scott County Farm Bureau in Iowa planned the annual conference. Bottom, from left, Prairie Farmer writer Holly Spangler, Midwest Central ag teacher DeAnna Thomas and Farmington blogger Emily Webel, conduct a live podcast of “Confessions of a Farm Wife.” River Valley Cooperative and John Deere served as primary conference sponsors. Other contributors included COUNTRY Financial, 1st Farm Credit Ser vices, Gold Star FS/GROWMARK, Iowa State Extension, River Gulf Grain and University of Illinois Extension. (Photos by Cyndi Cook)

FARM BILL SIGNUP EXTENDED — Farmers have one more week to sign up for Agriculture Risk Coverage (ARC) or Price Loss Coverage (PLC), and update yield history and reallocate base acres. Farmers need to contact their local Farm Service Agency office and make an appointment by April 7. Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack said 90 percent of farmers have enrolled in ARC or PLC, and 98 percent have updated yields and base acres. He extended the deadline to provide “a little more time to have those final conversations.” SOYBEAN SURVEY UNDER WAY — Got 10 minutes? Take an online University of Illinois soybean survey by April 10. U of I crop scientists and Extension educators want to better understand soybean growers’ decisions regarding management and inputs, and then tailor programs and projects to improve yields and profitability. Take the survey at http://bit.ly/1LT75Na. Send questions about the survey to Maria Villamil at villamil@illinois.edu or Anne Silvis at asilvis@illinois.edu.

FARMDOC POSTS 1,000TH ARTICLE — What was considered a slightly crazy idea four years ago has succeeded in the form of the University of Illinois’ farmdoc. U of I Ag Economist Scott Irwin developed the daily economic blog-style website, which just posted its 1,000th article by ag economist Darrel Good. The project has two corporate sponsorships — TIAACREF and Farm Credit — to help provide the base funding. Farmdoc Daily articles are distributed to more than 11,000 subscribers via email and has more than 1,300 Twitter followers. NASCAR RACES TO E15 MILESTONE — NASCAR racers just crossed the finish line of a fuel milestone — running on more than 1.75 million gallons of E15 fuel since 2011. That’s enough fuel to travel 7 million race track miles equivalent to nearly 281 laps around the earth. The move to E15 fuel proved beneficial environmentally by lowering emissions and boosted race car performance by increasing horsepower. NASCAR switched to E15 after forming a partnership with American Ethanol, a group established by ethanol organization Growth Energy in partnership with the National Corn Growers Association and others. “This partnership (with NASCAR) has been critical in showing the American consumer that if E15 performs in the most rigorous and demanding situations in motorsports, it’s clearly a safe, high-performance, reliable fuel that is good for American consumers, who want a choice and savings at the pump,” said Tom Buis, Growth Energy CEO.

(ISSN0197-6680) Vol. 43 No. 13 March 30, 2015 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 goes toward the production of FarmWeek. “Farm, Family, Food” is used under license of the Minnesota Farm Bureau Federation.

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Confidence

Continued from page 1 come down (despite the dramatic drop in farm earnings),” Micik noted. “That’s what’s pinching farmers. “There’s talk that many farmers might cut back on P (phosphorus) and K (potassium fertilizer rates), and some See FarmWeekNow.com for more details on the results of the DTN Ag Confidence survey.

may buy less advanced seeds due to high prices,” she continued. “There’s a lot of concern within the elevator business that’ll cut yields.” Unfortunately, many farmers don’t look for financial relief any time soon. Forty percent of farmers

Egg

in the latest DTN survey rank current farm income as normal, while 31 percent believe it’s bad. Just 28 percent of farmers

Continued from page 1 birds in aviary systems exhibited better loadbearing capacity than conventional-caged birds, which receive less exercise. In terms of worker health, the aviary system required dust masks as it recorded the poorest air quality among the systems, Fraley said. This system also demanded more physical labor as workers monitored hen mortality and collected eggs laid in places other than nests. Research data reveals that eggs in the aviary system cost 36 percent more to produce than the conventional cage system.

rank income as good. Looking ahead, 42 percent of farmers believe farm income could be even worse at this time next year.

Enriched colony systems cost 13 percent more than conventional production costs. The Coalition for Sustainable Egg Supply funded the research project in response to public scrutiny and a lack of science-based evidence on housing systems. Coalition members include animal welfare scientists, universities, associations, egg suppliers, restaurants and other food companies. “This study indicates that the farmer really knows best when it comes to raising livestock,” Fraley said. “This study is a huge win for animal agriculture, in my mind.” View the report at {www2.SustainableEggCoalition.org}.


NASA scientist: Shift of water availability could persist Page 3 • Monday, March 30, 2015 • FarmWeek

BY DANIEL GRANT FarmWeek

Shifts in the global water cycle likely will continue and could impact what farmers produce and where they raise it. Jay Famiglietti, hydrologist/professor at the University of California, Irvine and senior water scientist at the NASA Jet Propulsion Lab, discussed the situation last week at the National Institute for Animal Agriculture annual meeting in Indianapolis. NASA measures monthly changes in water mass around the globe via its Gravity Recovery and Climate Experiment (GRACE). Launched in 2002, GRACE measures water mass

What’s in a hot dog?

around the world via two satellites that act as a scale in the sky. “The water cycle and water availability are changing,” Famiglietti said. “We’re not losing water. It’s just moving from drier regions to wetter regions.” Areas with the greatest groundwater depletion in recent years include California, northern India and the Middle East. California, mired in a devastating drought, lost about 8 trillion gallons of water each of the last three years. About two-thirds of that was groundwater, Famiglietti noted. “They’re losing more (water) than they use each year (in California),” he said. “It’s very serious.”

Elsewhere, however, water availability continues to rise. Water availability in the Midwest, for example, trended up in recent years. “One of the things we’re looking at is wet areas in the world are getting wetter and dry areas are getting drier,” said Famiglietti, who outlined the issue recently on an episode of CBS News’, “60 Minutes.” The shift in water availability could have a major impact on agriculture. Aubrey Bettencourt, executive director of the California Water Alliance, said ag production out west has been migrating to the Midwest for years due in part to changes

Website tackles myths about meat

Did you know beef from grass-fed cattle eliminates the threat of E. coli, or that hormones used in livestock production accelerate the physical development of young women? Hopefully not, because these statements are false, of course. But many people believe these and other claims due in part to a growing disconnect between agriculture and the general population along with the digital media boom that continues to change how people receive information. Janet Riley, senior vice president of public affairs and member services at the North American Meat Institute, last week discussed the prevalence of meat myths during the National Institute of Animal Agriculture annual meeting in Indianapolis. The Meat Institute created a website {MeatMythCrushers. com} that busts many of the popular myths currently in circulation about meat. “We have to be as active and Janet Riley passionate (about getting information to consumers) as our critics are,” Riley said. “We need to hold people accountable.” The Internet, unfortunately, doesn’t require accountability for “news” posts. So, misinformation about agriculture, food and meat, in particular, seems to be spreading like wildfire. “We’re in a digital media boom. We’re sort of dumbing down the news because more people are reading news on mobile devices,” Riley said. “It’s just a very different world. “Myths live on the Internet,” she continued. “Context seems to be optional anymore.” As much as farmers and others in the ag

industry probably would like to just ignore some of the outrageous claims about food, it serves consumers and the industry better to tackle them head on, according to Riley. “We have to engage. It’s important to share information and use social media in your circles,” she said. “We have to be fearless on this.” Riley noted there are numerous food and ag myths that farmers can help dispel by communicating with consumers. For instance, some people believe beef from grass-fed cattle eliminates the threat of E. coli when in reality E. coli can be found in about 1 of every 400 samples, regardless of the production method. Cooking destroys the bacteria. Another ongoing myth suggests it takes about 2,400 gallons of water to produce 1 pound of ground beef when it actually takes about 441 gallons, nearly 300 fewer gallons than it takes to produce a cotton shirt, Riley noted. What about the use of hormones in pork and poultry production? While all organisms contain hormones, additives aren’t allowed in pork and poultry production. “Breeding techniques are why pigs and poultry are bigger today,” Riley said. So, does processing meat make it much more unhealthy? A study, which pooled data from 14 major studies, found no association between red/processed meat and cancer, according to MeatMythCrushers.com. Processed meat comes in different formulations to meet a variety of nutritional needs, including low-fat, lower sodium and gluten-free products. Current USDA dietary recommendations call for Americans to consume 5 to 7 ounces of meat and beans daily. “Meat is the most nutrient-dense food out there,” Riley added. — Daniel Grant

in resource availability. “We’ve been seeing that (migration from the west to the Midwest) about 20 years,” she said. “We see a lot more industry (in California) looking for other places to go.” Water shortages in California cut off some farms from vital supply lines for irrigation. Water use for agriculture, under drought rules, isn’t considered beneficial in some instances, according to Bettencourt, who noted an estimated 800,000 farmland acres could go fallow this year in California due to the drought. “We’re in a fight to prove we know what we’re doing (in regard to water use),” she said.

“The future of American ag depends on water availability.” About 8 percent of food produced in the U.S. from about 250 different crops comes from California’s central valley, Famiglietti noted. The water scientist expressed concern that evaporating water availability could lead to further depletion of groundwater sources out west. “The fear is there will be a water rush to get wells in the ground (in California),” he said. “That’s not renewable.” Famiglietti believes the water availability issue shouldn’t be urban versus agriculture, but rather an overall plan of how to better allocate water needs.

Sink or swim? NIAA sees growth opportunities in aquaculture

The theme of the National Institute for Animal Agriculture (NIAA) annual conference, “Water and the Future of Animal Agriculture,” focused on more than just making sure fourlegged animals have adequate hydration. NIAA also sees opportunities to raise more animals in water via aquaculture. “Water is important to the business (of animal agriculture). Aquaculture brings it to another level,” Michael Coe, NIAA board member from Portland, Ore., said last week at the annual conference in Indianapolis. Seafood demand continues to increase in the U.S. and worldwide. The U.S. ranks third in capture fish landings, but only 14th in aquaculture production. The lack of production and booming demand make the U.S. the second-largest importer of seafood. “With over 92 percent of seafood being imported into the U.S., there is a large market for U.S. producers to engage,” said Glenn Fischer, NIAA chairman. NIAA members, which include Illinois Farm Bureau, recently added an Aquatic Livestock Committee. That committee last fall hosted its first stakeholder meeting in Denver. “Aquaculture is the fastest growing area of animal agriculture,” Coe said. And it appears that trend will continue, according to the NIAA board member. “We’ve reached our limit on natural (seafood) production,” Coe said. “Any growth will come from aquaculture.” Expansion of seafood production won’t be limited to the U.S. coasts. Aquaculture could expand in the Midwest due in part to an ample supply of feed. Soybean meal, rich in protein and soy oil, efficiently meets nutritional needs of most fish species, according to the Illinois Soybean Association. It also can lower production costs as fish meal and oil prices have been pressured in recent years by the surge in demand. “I believe there are opportunities for aquaculture in states like Indiana,” Ted McKinney, Indiana Ag Director, said at the NIAA conference. “We in the Midwest do a good job producing protein and shipping it to places around the world.” — Daniel Grant

Inventory buildup, lower prices could slow hog expansion in its tracks Market signals that determine the size of the swine herd changed from green to yellow in recent months as an inventory buildup prompted prices to take a U-turn. USDA, in its quarterly hogs and pigs report released Friday, estimated the inventory of all hogs and pigs as of March 1 shot up 7 percent nationwide, to 65.93 million head, compared to the same time last year. The swine inventory in Illinois increased 9 percent, to 4.65 million head, from a year ago. The market hog inventory (60 million head) increased 8 percent, while the pig crop (a record 28.8

million head) jumped 9 percent December through February. “Numbers are significantly larger (than a year ago) across the board,” said Steve Meyer, president of Paragon Economics, during a teleconference hosted by the National Pork Board. The boost in hog inventory was due in part to expansion of the herd along with reduced losses to porcine epidemic diarrhea virus (PEDV), which decimated the herd last year. “It looks like we’re getting back to the long-term upward trend of litters,” said Dan Vaught, economist with Doane Advisory Services.

The number of pigs saved per litter was a record 10.17 last quarter compared to 9.53 a year ago. Chris Hurt, Purdue University economist, believes hog prices on a live weight basis could average between $50 and $55 per hundredweight this year. Robert Brown, an independent market analyst, projects a carcass price range of $66 to $71 per hundredweight compared to $92 to $117 last year. “The incentive to expand has been sharply cooled off,” Hurt said. “I think we’ll see modest expansion of the breeding herd.” The breeding inventory on

March 1 totaled 5.98 million head, up 2 percent. Producers intend to boost farrowings 2

percent from March to May followed by a 2 percent decline this summer. — Daniel Grant


IDOA adds $14.6 million IFB leaders push trade, crop insurance, Cuba to fill state budget hole

FarmWeek • Page 4 • Monday, March 30, 2015

Approving Trade Promotion Authority (TPA), leaving crop insurance alone and opening trade with Cuba dominated last week’s Leaders to Washington visit by 27 county Farm Bureau leaders. During their visit with U.S. Sen. Dick Durbin, D-Ill., IFB leaders asked him to support TPA. Durbin said he hasn’t seen a TPA proposal yet and won’t commit until he reads it thoroughly. The senator also said BY JOHN HAWKINS

The Illinois Department of Agriculture’s (IDOA) share of the current state budget solution totals $14.6 million, according to IDOA officials. Gov. Bruce Rauner signed the measure shortly after it passed Thursday. Last week, the General Assembly approved a plan to resolve a $1.6 billion shortfall in the fiscal year 2015 budget. The negotiated plan authorizes Rauner to transfer $1.3 billion from other purposes, including several IDOA funds. The plan includes an across-the-board budget cut of 2.25 percent. IDOA’s largest transfer of $5 million comes from the agricultural premium fund, which supports fair premiums. Other IDOA funds and the

amounts to be transferred include: pesticide control fund, $3 million; weights and measures fund, $2 million; Illinois State Fair fund, $1 million; fair and exhibition fund, $1 million; feed control fund, $1 million; fertilizer control fund, $500,000; agriculture master fund, $400,000; standardbred breeders fund, $250,000; thoroughbred breeders fund, $250,000; and Illinois AgriFIRST program fund, $204,000. Rauner thanked legislative leaders for “their leadership in fixing this year’s fiscal crisis.” “As promised, we are eliminating a $1.6 billion deficit without borrowing or increasing taxes on hard-working Illinois families,” the governor said.

Federal legislation introduced in the U.S. House proposes to block state genetically modified organism (GMO) labeling laws. The Safe and Accurate Food Labeling Act of 2015, sponsored by U.S. Reps. Mike Pompeo, R-Kan., and G.K. Butterfield, D-N.C., includes a provision to regulate and certify foods promoted as nonbiotech. A similar bill introduced last year did not require USDA certification. The new legislation would set up a voluntary certification process run by USDA

BY KAY SHIPMAN FarmWeek

Go to FarmWeek Now.com for more coverage from the recent tour.

U.S. Rep. Robin Kelly, D-Matteson, second from right, talks with Illinois Farm Bureau Leaders to Washington participants. Kelly emphasized the diversity of her district and encouraged IFB members to communicate with their urban counterparts. From left, IFB leaders include Hugh Scates, Gallatin County; IFB director Scott Halpin; Steven Warrick, Will County; Cliff Pfundstein, Whiteside County; and Kelly’s legislative aide Zach Ostro. (Photo by John Hawkins, IFB farm information web editor)

for foods labeled as not containing GMOs. Under the bill, no labeling of GMO foods could be required unless a “material difference” between the biotech ingredient and its conventionally produced version exists. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration would remain in charge of a premarket notification process for new biotech crops. In Illinois, legislation mandating food labels denoting any ingredients from biotechnology crops re-emerged in the General Assembly.

he opposes any movement to reopen the farm bill and tweak crop insurance subsidies. A visit with Republican Sen. Mark Kirk’s staff centered on questions about the senator’s position on Cuban trade and GMO labeling proposals. “Senator Durbin was open to possible agreements on trade promotion and the Trans-Pacific Partnership,” IFB director Scott Halpin said. “Both senators were supportive of the current farm bill.” Earlier, the House Ag Committee conducted a hearing on proposals for a national GMO labeling plan that would replace current anti-GMO labeling laws being passed in various states. Lynn Clarkson of Clarkson Grain in Cerro Gordo told the panel that reasonable labeling rules need to be approved to appease consumers who want to know what’s in their food without “being alarmist.” U.S. Rep. Rodney Davis, RTaylorville, told IFB leaders

he’s waiting on the Obama administration to show leadership in the effort to approve TPA. He also remains hopeful that some attempt at comprehensive tax reform can be accomplished in the coming year — especially on items like Section 179 expensing and repealing the estate tax. Will County beef producer Steven Warrick said his visit with Rep. Robin Kelly, D-Matteson, emphasized the need for Illinois farmers to communicate with consumers. “Agriculture today has to have a teaching aspect ... knowledge about agriculture leads to good decisions,” he said. IFB leaders also visited USDA and Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) headquarters. USDA officials gave a status update on the progress of farm program sign-up, which ends April 7. Mike Schmidt, Farm Service Agency deputy administrator for farm programs, talked about new rules regarding

farm payment limits for nonfarmers who are “actively engaged” in farming operations. The new regulations do not impact family-owned operations or landowners. Ron Carleton, U.S. EPA ag counselor, noted that EPA and farmers haven’t been the “warmest of friends recently.” He said the agency received more than a million comments on the “waters of the U.S.” proposal. He said a revised rule should be ready by the end of the year. Carleton added that his role is to be the “voice of the farmer” in agency discussions on new regulations that may impact farmers. “This trip was one of the most productive we’ve ever taken,” said Adam Nielsen, IFB director of national legislation and policy development. “We were able to meet with key members of Congress, USDA and EPA. Our leaders proved themselves as effective advocates for our priorities.”

guage upon becoming law.” Illinois has yet to adopt federal regulations that exempt operators of covered farm vehicles from having to obtain a commercial driver’s license. HB 2515 proposes this change to state statute, along with additional cleanup language provided by Secretary of State Jesse White. Rep. Kate Cloonen, D-Kankakee, sponsored the bill in the House, while Sen. Scott Bennett, D-Champaign, serves as the Senate sponsor. “Representative Cloonen and Senator Bennett have been excellent sponsors. Both represent large agricultural districts, and we appreciate their leadership on the issue,” Orrill noted. IFB also succeeded in committee passage of proposed agricultural impact mitigation agreements related to commercial development of wind energy. The House Renewable

Energy and Sustainability Committee unanimously passed HB 3523, sponsored by Rep. Adam Brown, R-Decatur. “We’re working with the wind industry to finalize some technical details with the legislation; however, we’re optimistic we will reach an agreement and move the legislation this session,” said Bill Bodine, IFB associate director of state legislation. The bill would require commercial wind energy operators to sign an ag impact mitigation agreement with the Illinois Department of Agriculture outlining construction and deconstruction standards, and policies designed to preserve the integrity of any agricultural land impacted by construction and deconstruction. Another IFB priority involves decisions on road posting and closure. The House Transportation Regulation, Roads and Bridges Com-

mittee passed HB 2580 in spite of “very vocal opposition from county highway engineers and township road commissioners,” said Kevin Semlow, IFB director of state legislation. HB 2580, sponsored by Rep. Jerry Costello II, DSmithton, was amended to require a public hearing before any decision to permanently post a road at a reduced weight limit or to permanently close a road. The road commissioner would then be required to create a memorandum explaining his decision to permanently post or close the road and answer concerns heard at the hearing. The memorandum would then have to be approved by the county engineer before the road is permanently posted or closed. “This would create public involvement, and checks and balances in the decisions made by road commissioners,” said Semlow.

The Senate Revenue Committee and the House Revenue and Finance Subcommittee held over legislation that modernizes state sales tax incentives for ethanol-blended fuels. “However, negotiations continue on the bills,” said Semlow. SB 1948, sponsored by Sen. Andy Manar, D-Bunker Hill, and HB 3378, sponsored by Costello, seeks to expedite the sunset of the 10 percent ethanol blended fuel incentive and create additional demand for the use of fuels containing higher ethanol blends. The Senate Energy and Public Utilities Committee held SB 1727, sponsored by Sen. Chapin Rose, R-Mahomet. The bill would explore opportunities to amend the Illinois Commerce Commission expedited review procedures for new large, complex high-voltage electric service lines to better protect landowners’ rights.

Federal legislation proposes block of state GMO labels

IFB moves state legislative priorities as committee deadline passes BY KAY SHIPMAN FarmWeek

Illinois Farm Bureau successfully maintained a full-court press on state legislative priorities through last week’s deadline for committee passage of bills. On Thursday, the General Assembly recessed for a twoweek Easter break. One of the first priorities to advance aligns state statute with federal transportation regulations. The House passed HB 2515 on a 113-0 vote. “HB 2515 simply puts state statute in line with federal regulations regarding exemptions for Covered Farm Vehicles,” said Russell Orrill, IFB assistant director of state legislation. “We worked with both the Illinois Secretary of State staff and the Illinois Department of Transportation to assure the language aligns with federal regulations, and that there would be no concerns with the implementation of the lan-


Farmers need to consider nutrient needs, responsibility

Page 5 • Monday, March 30, 2015 • FarmWeek

BY KAY SHIPMAN FarmWeek

Applying nitrogen in the spring and the fall ensures the crop will find nutrients, offers timing flexibility and uses best management practices, according to a member of the Illinois Farm Bureau Conservation and Natural Resources Strength with Advisory Team (SWAT). SWAT member and Douglas County Farm Bureau President Larry Dallas fall applies about 80 percent of his nitrogen as anhydrous ammonia with a nitrification stabilizer. He waits for cold soil temperatures. “We think it (using a stabilizer) is a responsible way to put part of it (nitrogen) on,” Dallas told FarmWeek. In the spring, Dallas applies the remaining nitrogen along

Use the 4Rs

‘It’s going to be very important for farmers to pay attention to the Nutrient Loss Reduction Strategy.’ — Larry Dallas Conservation and Natural Resource Strength with Advisory Team

with a pre-plant herbicide, working it into the soil and using a stabilizer to prevent volatilization. “That gives some shallow nitrogen for the crop starting out, especially when soil temperatures are cool,” Dallas added. A systems approach of divided nitrogen applications benefits farmers as well as the environment. Divided applica-

USDA defines ‘actively engaged’ farmers

USDA officials have proposed a rule to limit farm payments to nonfarmers for 2016 and beyond. Family farm operations would be exempt from the rule. Specifically, the proposed rule limits farm payments to individuals who may be designated as farm managers, but are not actively engaged in farm management. Under the proposed rule, nonfamily joint ventures and general partnerships comprised of more than one member must document that their managers are making significant contributions to the farming operation, defined as 500 hours of substantial management work per year, or 25 percent of the critical management time necessary for the success of the farming operation. Comment can be made at {www.regulations.com} by May 26. The proposed rule can be viewed at {http://go.usa.gov/ 3C6Kk}.

PRUNING THEIR WAY TO SUCCESS

Participants of a recent fruit tree pruning clinic get hands-on practice at Dixon Springs Agricultural Center. The clinic, taught by Local Food Systems/Small Farms Extension Educators Bronwyn Aly and Nathan Johanning, involved more than 40 participants and focused on apple and peach tree pruning techniques. (Photo by Bronwyn Aly)

tions eliminate the risk of having a crop’s entire nitrogen supply on a field at one time and potential weather extremes. Dallas estimated he applied nitrogen in fall and spring for four or five years. While he hasn’t done any side-by-side comparisons, Dallas said he believes the fall-spring applica-

tions proved advantageous and he likes spreading out his nitrogen applications. Farmers need to consider a spectrum of application methods and timing as well as fertilizer products, he added. “It’s going to be very important for farmers to pay attention to the Nutrient Loss

Does your fertilizer plan follow the 4Rs? Nutrient stewardship using the 4Rs helps increase production and profitability while protecting the environment and improving sustainability. The 4Rs stand for: Right fertilizer source, Right rate, Right time, and Right place. Reduction Strategy,” Dallas said. “It’s very important to show we can do this voluntarily without regulation.”

Specialty crop grant applications due May 1

Growers and others applying for more than $600,000 in federal specialty crop funding must submit applications by May 1, according to Illinois Agriculture Director Philip Nelson. The Illinois Department of Agriculture is accepting grant proposals for funding from the Specialty Crop Block Grant Program in the farm bill. Projects need to solely enhance the competitiveness of Illinois-grown specialty crops in either domestic or foreign markets.

“For many Illinoisans, specialty crops not only provide vital nutrition, but also are a primary source of income,” Nelson said. “These grants can help enhance a grower’s profitability and sustainability.” Ineligible projects would benefit a particular commercial product or provide a profit to a single organization, institution or individual. Request for proposal packets and more information about the program may be found by visiting {agr.state.il.us} or calling 217-524-9129.


Farmers should focus on yield potential FarmWeek • Page 6 • Monday, March 30, 2015

BY DANIEL GRANT FarmWeek

Matt Foes, regional agronomy manager for 360 Yield Center, offers a simple message for farmers as they prepare for the 2015 growing season. Foes, who also farms in northwest Illinois, urges farmers to focus on maximizing yield potential rather than slashing inputs in response to tighter margins. “There’s more potential in that bag (of seed) than you can realize,” Foes said recently at the Illinois Land Values Conference hostMatt Foes ed by the Illinois Society of Professional Farm Managers and Rural Appraisers. “We need to capture more potential in that bag.” Farmers can improve yields via information management and use of data to essentially create a prescription for each field. Foes promotes variable rate seeding, establishing

seeding rates based on the soil and yield potential of each field, and splitting nitrogen applications to provide fertilizer to crops when they need it most. “Even though when you see the land, and it looks all uniform, there’s ebbs and flows,” Foes said. “You need to think ‘what can I do to bring the lows (yielding areas of fields) up.’ You’ve got to manage differently.” Nitrogen management will continue to be key to boost yields while becoming more efficient. Farmers in the near future should have access to a tailgate nitrate test to quickly get a read on each of their fields. “We used to put our N rate on in the fall and we were done with it,” Foes said. “We need to make a smarter decision on what we put on and get a prescription rate of N that varies across the field (based on yield potential).” Nitrogen rates aren’t the only key to fertilizer management. Farmers also should strive for applications to be near the base of corn plants

and split applications to ensure N availability when plants need it. A recent study shows splitting N rates increases corn yields by an average of 11 bushels per acre, according to Foes. “People are starting to see, as margins get tighter, we’re all looking for ways to get more efficient,” he said. “Managing nitrogen and seeding rates are some things that will allow us to do this.” While spring N and sidedress applications can improve efficiency and boost yield, Foes doesn’t believe either measure will replace fall applications. Illinois farmers can’t apply all their fertilizer in the spring due to logistics, weather and other factors. Either way, farmers should try to maximize output rather than focus on chopping expenses in this and coming years, according to the agronomist. “The last thing you want to do is cut an expense that adds yield,” Foes added. “You should look at different technology to make better decisions.”

NEW SET OF WHEELS

Woodford County Young Leader Sean Arians, left, takes possession of a 2015 Chevrolet Silverado from Ron Wigfall, Chevrolet district manager, at Ulrich Motor Company in Washburn. Arians earned the truck as winner of the American Farm Bureau Federation Young Farmer & Rancher Discussion Meet. “You don’t have to be a national winner to have a voice and share your message of agriculture,” said Arians. “Everyone needs to share their stories with our policymakers and know they can make a difference.” Go to FarmWeekNow.com to see a video of the truck presentation. (Photo by Ken Kashian)

Study reveals yield-boosting tips

While many recent studies have documented that farmers must significantly increase yields in order to meet the food, feed and fuel demands of a growing population, few have given practical solutions on how to do this. A study from the Illinois Crop Physiology Laboratory led by Fred Below, a University of Illinois crop physiologist, provides some key findings about corn yield gap — the difference between a farmer’s actual yield and the potential yield for a specific field. Researchers studied combinations of five management factors in corn-following-soybean trials to determine their effect on yield, both individually and cumulatively. The result? Corn yields in Illinois can be increased by about 28 percent using commercially available technologies and hybrids. The study concluded that no single factor or technology accounted for this increase in yields. Rather, it was the result of a consistently observed greater-than-additive effect of factors acting together that produced the highest yields. All factors, except for plant population, were necessary for maximizing yield and reducing the yield gap. The study focused on an intensified management system that included increased plant population, transgenic (Bt trait) insect resistance, strobilurin-containing fungicide, balanced crop nutrition (phosphorus-sulfur-zinc), and supplemental side-dressed nitrogen. The design of the study entailed applying each of the five management factors at two levels — traditional and advanced. The design allowed for two important control treatments: high tech, in which all management factors are applied at the advanced level, and traditional, in which all management factors are applied at the lower level. Field trials were conducted during the 2009 and 2010 growing seasons at the Crop Sciences Research and Education Center in Champaign-Urbana (CU) and the Dixon Springs Research Center in southern Illinois (DS). Laura Gentry, U of I adjunct professor and Illinois Corn Growers Association water quality research director, explained that the Bt trait and the strobilurin-containing fungicide proved the two management factors most influential for increasing yields. When the Bt-traited hybrid was omitted from the high-tech system, they saw an 8.7 percent yield decrease and a yield increase of 4.5 percent when the Bt trait was added to the traditional system. The contribution of the strobilurin-containing fungicide was unexpected by the researchers, especially during the 2010 growing season when conditions were dry. Applying strobilurin fungicide increased yield by 8.5 percent (CU) and 9.4 percent (DS). Gentry said this may have been due to strobilurin’s properties as a plant growth regulator, which kept leaves greener later in the season, and also that it may have accounted for a reduction in kernel abortion during the moderate drought. Will this intensified approach be economically possible for farmers? “That was not the focus of this study or the question we wanted to answer,” Gentry said. “In all likelihood, our high technology treatment of advanced inputs would not prove to be the most profitable treatment despite producing the greatest yields. “The value of the added yield would not compensate for the cost of the extra inputs, especially when corn prices are low. This study was a first step towards a greater understanding of how we can increase yields in the U.S. Corn Belt to meet increasing demand for corn,” she added.


Edgar County experiences Chicago legislator’s district

Page 7 • Monday, March 30, 2015 • FarmWeek

Edgar County Farm Bureau members recently toured the Chicago district of their “adopted” legislator, state Rep. Ann Williams, DChicago. The representative, who joined Illinois Farm Bureau’s Adopt-A-Legislator® program in 2011, hosted her second district tour for Edgar County farmers. Last summer, she toured several Edgar County farms. The Chicago tour started with a brief meeting at the representative’s office in the Lakeview neighborhood where the Edgar County group was joined by Cook County Farm Bureau members and Colleen Smith, Williams’ chief of staff. First, the group toured a Chicago firehouse in the Lincoln Park neighborhood, and the farmers learned about firehouse operations and how firefighters plan and prepare for emergencies. Edgar County Farm Bureau members were offered an opportunity to try on a firefighter’s uniBY CHRISTINA NOURIE

form and firefighting gear. Next, the visitors traveled to Burley Elementary School, met the school principal and discussed educational issues, such as school funding reform, standardized testing and the Common Core State Standards initiative. Burley, considered one of the city’s top public schools, places special focus on literacy, writing and technology. The principal discussed educating students and encouraging parental involvement. While touring technology classes, the farmers were amazed to see kindergarteners and first graders using computers and iPads in their daily lessons. During lunch at the Mystic Celt in Southport, the farmers met Kevin Vaughan and his wife, who own seven restaurants and pubs in the Chicago area. The group discussed the state’s business climate and challenges faced by business owners. The final stop, Half Acre Brewery in the North Center neighborhood, included a tour

Chicago Farmers to discuss land values

Michael Swanson, senior vice president and agricultural economist and consultant at Wells Fargo & Co., will discuss land values with the Chicago Farmers from 11:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. April 13 in the Illini Center, 200 S. Wacker Drive, Chicago. The early registration deadline is April 6. Based in Minneapolis, Swanson’s responsibilities include analyzing the energy impact on agriculture, forecasting for key agricultural commodities, such as wheat, soybeans, corn and cotton, and livestock sectors, such as cattle, dairy and hogs. Additionally, he helps develop credit and risk strategies for Wells Fargo’s customers, and performs macroeconomic and international analysis on agricultural production and agribusiness. Ticket prices for Chicago Farmer members and spouses cost $30 each, nonmembers, $50; young professional members, $20; and young professional guests, $40. To register and pay via mail, send information and payment to The Chicago Farmers, c/o: Administrative Offices, 19244 S. Blackhawk Parkway, Unit 73, Mokena, Ill. 60448. Direct questions to 312-388-3276 or email info@chicagofarm ers.org. Travel with others in the AG Industry!

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conducted by owner Gabriel Magliaro. He explained the brewing process from start to finish. The farmers learned not only has Magliaro built his business in a few years, but he’s also opening a second brewing facility nearby.

The farmers commented on the fun, educational tour and appreciated the opportunity to discuss legislative issues with the representative. Edgar County Farm Bureau hopes to host Williams and some guests for a farm tour in the fall. The

county Farm Bureau also hopes to adopt a Burley Elementary class or one in another school in Williams’ district. Christina Nourie serves as the IFB northeast legislative coordinator.

State Rep. Ann Williams, second from left, joins Edgar County Farm Bureau President Steve Webb, third from left, Farm Bureau members from Edgar and Cook counties, and a Chicago firefighter during a recent firehouse tour in her Chicago legislative district. Williams recently hosted her “adopted” county Farm Bureau for a daylong tour. (Photo courtesy Christina Nourie)


Young Leader survey points to land challenges FarmWeek • Page 8 • Monday, March 30, 2015

Farm Bureau Young Leaders across the nation listed finding and securing adequate land to grow crops and raise animals as their top challenge in the latest American Farm Bureau Federation annual outlook survey. Twenty-nine percent of survey respondents ranked land availability as their primary challenge, while 13 percent said government regulations pose the most severe obstacle. Other issues ranked as top concerns by young farmers and ranchers included the willingness of parents to turn over the reins, 10 percent; overall profitability, 10 percent; taxes and the availability of water, each at 7 percent; and urbanization and the availability of ag financing, each at 5 percent. The 23rd survey revealed that 84 percent of respondents remain more optimistic about farming and ranching than they were five years ago. Last year, 91 percent of respondents said they were more optimistic about farming compared to five years ago. Ninety-two percent of the nation’s young farmers and ranchers said they are better

off than they were five years ago. Last year, 93 percent reported being better off. Ninety-one percent of respondents consider themselves lifetime farmers, while 97 percent would like to see

their children follow in their footsteps. The survey revealed that 88 percent believe their children will be able to follow in their footsteps. The majority of those surveyed — 75 percent — consid-

their farms and ranches. The survey further showed America’s young farmers and ranchers continue to be committed environmental caretakers with 58 percent analyzing the nutrient content of soil and 56 percent using conservation tillage to protect soil and reduce erosion on their farms. The informal survey of young farmers and ranchers ages 18-35 was conducted online in February.

The 2014 farm bill increased opportunities for the farm loan program. Check out a USDA fact sheet outlining program offerings for new and existing farmers at {http://1.usa. gov/NM3Ryq}. Program changes include: • Elimination of the 15year term limit for guaranteed operating loans. • Modification of the definition of beginning far mer, using the averag e far m size for the county as a qualifier instead of

the median far m size. • Increase of the maximum loan amount for Direct Farm Ownership Down Payment Loan Program from $225,000 to $300,000. • Increase of the guaranteed percentage on Conservation Loans from 75 to 80 percent and 90 percent for socially disadvantaged borrowers and beginning farmers. • Microloans will not count toward direct operating loan term limits for veterans and beginning farmers.

Growers who provide fresh products to local or regional markets, and are considering diversification or looking to use small acreage should plan to attend the southern Illinois summer twilight meetings offered by the University of Illinois Extension, said Bronwyn Aly, U of I Extension educator. Extension and area farmers provide four evening meetings to highlight and demonstrate diverse farming enterprises across the region. Meetings are scheduled for the third Monday of each month from May through August and will run from 6 to 8 p.m. Participants will hear about different types of production and marketing practices being used by area farmers and gain hands-on learning experience. The topics will include low-tunnel tomato production; strawberry plasticulture;

blueberry, blackberry and wine grape production; peach production; sweet corn and pepper production; raising laying hens; value-added processing; and utilizing farmers markets, roadside stands, restaurants and wholesale outlets as marketing tools. Meeting dates and locations: • May 18, Miller Farms, Campbell Hill; • June 15, Ridge Road Vineyard, Pulaski; • July 20, Sunnybrook Gardens, Carmi; and • Aug. 10, Darn Hot Peppers, Cobden. No registration fee is charged, but participants must preregister for each meeting. Register online at {web.ex tension.illinois.edu/ghhpsw/}. For more information or to register by phone, call Aly at 618-382-2662 or email baly@ illinois.edu.

Tuesday: • FarmWeek: “The Early Word” • Jennifer Tirey, Illinois Council on Best Management Practices: cover crop meetings • Ralph Martire, Center for Tax Budget Accountability: 401K and pension reform • Don Stork, Verdesian: field nutrient recommendations Wednesday: • Kevin Rund, Illinois Farm Bureau senior director of local government: county zoning and transportation

• Brenda Matherly, IFB assistant director of local government: farmland assessment law changes Thursday: • Carl Wardin, Michigan dairy farmer; Darrell Glaser, Texas turkey farmer: antibiotic use in animals • Diane Handley, IFB affiliate association manager: Prairie Bounty Friday: Andrew Bowman, Illinois Leadership Council for Agricultural Education: proposed ag education budget cuts • Kacy Perry, Channel: 2015 growing season

Farm loan programs expanded

Southern Illinois twilight tours announced

Protecting your field is our scout’s honor. At FS, we’re focused on crop performance. Our certified crop specialists will identify environmental conditions, crop growth stage and plant development to make agronomically sound recommendationss for each of your fields. It’’ss our goal goa to maximize every acre you farm and protect the local environment nment so you’re ready for what’’ss next. ne

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er communicating with consumers a formal part of their jobs. Many use social media platforms as a tool to accomplish this, in addition to traditional outreach methods such as farm tours, agritourism and farmers’ markets. Seventy-four percent use Facebook, while 23 percent of respondents use Twitter. Nineteen percent have a farm blog or webpage and 14 percent use YouTube to post videos of

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©2013 GROWMARK, Inc. A14140


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LINTON — Marketing Committee market outlook dinner, 7 p.m. Wednesday at the Farm Bureau office. Kim Holsapple, South Central FS, will speak. Cost is $5. Call 5267235 for reservations by Tuesday.

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OOK — Creating compost workshop, 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. April 7 at the Farm Bureau office. Cost is $5 for members and $10 for nonmembers. Call 708354-3276 or email member shipdebbie@cookcfb.org to register by April 6. RAWFORD — Farmland assessment meeting, 7 p.m. April 9 at Robinson Community Center. Brenda Matherly, Illinois Farm Bureau assistant director of local government, will speak on changes in the Farmland Assessment Law. ULTON — Cover crop luncheon workshop, 10 a.m. Wednesday at the Farm Bureau office. Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) staff and a panel of farmers who have implemented cover crops will

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Kinkaid Lake project receives restoration funding

This year, two federal agencies will use a federal restoration award to help state and area partners restore a southern Illinois lake and watershed. Kinkaid Lake near the Shawnee National Forest provides drinking water for 30,000 residents as well as recreation. A three-year restoration plan for the lake and watershed will cost about $1 million. Recently, the U.S. Forest Service and Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) received the Chief ’s Joint Landscape Restoration Partnership Award. This year, NRCS will contribute $145,000, the Forest Service, $265,000, and local partners, $31,000. The federal agencies will work with landowners to improve water quality in the 2,350-acre lake. The primary water quality efforts will control phosphorus contributions from nonpoint sources, and reduce soil erosion and sedimentation into the lake. State and local partners include the Illinois Department of Natural Resources and Illinois Environmental Protection Agency, the Kinkaid Area Watershed Project Inc. (KAWP), Kinkaid-Reed’s Creek Conservancy District, Shawnee Resource Conservation and Development Area, and the Jackson County Soil and Water Conservation District. Other work will include ground shoreline and gully stabilization on Forest Service lands. The efforts are aided by extensive sediment modeling used to pinpoint where the critical restoration is needed, thanks to KAWP.

Page 9 • Monday, March 30, 2015 • FarmWeek

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speak. Call 547-3011 for reservations. RUNDY — On-theroad seminar, 7 p.m. Monday at the American Legion in Mazon. Kevin Rund, IFB senior director of local government, will speak. ANKAKEE — Foundation scholarship applications are available for 2015 high school graduating seniors at the Farm Bureau office, from school guidance counselors and ag teachers. Call 815-932-7471 for an electronic application. Application deadline is Tuesday. ARION — Marketing Committee market outlook dinner, 6:30 p.m. Thursday at the Farm Bureau office. Kim Holsapple, South Central FS, will speak. Cost is $7.50. Call 548-2100 or email marioncofb@sbcglobal.net by

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Tuesday for reservations. CLEAN — “Farmland” movie screening, 6:30 p.m. April 7 at Braden Auditorium in Bone Student Center on the Illinois State University Campus. A panel discussion with local farmers will follow the film. ONTGOMERY — Prime Timers luncheon meeting, noon April 15 at the Farm Bureau building. Bill and Andra Ebert, Heartland Mini Hoofs Therapy, will be present with their therapy horses. Members 55 years and older are invited to attend. Cost is $9. Call 532-6171 by Wednesday to register. EORIA — Weather outlook/NRCS update luncheon, 10 a.m. Wednesday at the Farm Bureau office. Mike McClellan, Mobile

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Weather Team, and Ivan Dozier, NRCS, will speak. Cost is free for members and $10 for nonmembers. Call 686-7070 for reservations by Monday. ASHINGTON — CPR/first aid course, 6 to 9 p.m. April 13 at the Farm Bureau office. After completion of course, certification will be given for adult, child and infant CPR; use of an Automated External Defibrillator; and first aid. Cost is $10 for members and $15 for nonmembers. Call 327-3081 by April 7 to register. ILLIAMSON — Nutrient management workshop, 6 p.m. Tuesday at Southern FS board room. University of Illinois and USDA NRCS staff will speak. Call 993-2309 to register.

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FarmWeek • Page 10 • Monday, March 30, 2015

Fertilizer and Goldilocks: too little, too much or too late?

Spring is finally here ... I think. Sometimes by this point, we are moving fertilizer to the ground as fieldwork takes off. This year though, as temps stay cool, it feels like we are at least several more days away from much happening in the Prairie State. We’ll see. What is unusual about this year is that the southern U.S. is staying very wet as rain sysBY JOE DILLIER

tems continually pass over Texas through the delta region on through the Southeast and up the East Coast. There is little fertilizer movement happening in this broad region, which typically would have already experienced much of its spring demand by now. I would guess that if things don’t dry out broadly by at least the second half of April, it could become too late for

M A R K E T FA C T S

Market Facts no longer appear in FarmWeek. For up-to-theminute livestock market prices, visit FarmWeekNow.com or {ams.usda.gov/AMSv1.0/LPSMarketNewsPage}.

IAA Foundation accepting entries for Grow & Go 5K fundraiser

Runners and walkers of all ages may enter the IAA Foundation’s 5th Grow & Go May 9 at the Illinois Farm Bureau headquarters in Bloomington. The early registration deadline is May 1. Participants learn more about agriculture while raising money for Illinois Agriculture in the Classroom (IAITC), which offers free educational resources for teachers. The course covers well-maintained lawns, pavement and slightly rolling terrain. Finishing times and results are provided by the Lake Run Club of Bloomington/Normal. Runners 10 and younger may participate in a Cock-a-Doodle Dash quarter-mile race. Check-in and race day registration starts at 7:30 a.m. followed by the 8:30 a.m. quarter-mile run and the 9 a.m. 5K run and walk. After the race, participants may join an indoor open house featuring a hot breakfast and family activities. IAITC staff offer youngsters interactive learning stations and activities. Before May 1, the 5K registration fee is $20 and increases to $25 after the deadline. The youth dash fee is $5. Registered participants receive a T-shirt, water stops, professional timing and breakfast. Tickets for attending the open house and breakfast only cost $7. For information or to register, visit {iaafoundation.org} and click on the 5K Grow & Go box.

FIELD MOMS LEARN ABOUT FOOD

corn planting. And especially in recent years, corn acreage in this geography has been an important piece of the spring demand “puzzle” for fertilizer.   On the other hand (and there is always another hand Joe Dillier to consider in fertilizer/commodity markets), if things dry up in time, all of that rain would likely become a “material positive” factor boosting application rates and fertilizer demand in the South, just as the Midwest market may be getting cranked up. There have been some

strong yields in the south in recent years, surprisingly strong, and great moisture prospects could propel application rates further.   We had a very light application season for fertilizers last fall in the Midwest — probably the lightest fall application season since the “general commodity price implosion” of 2008. That means we have a lot of fertilizers that we need to put down this spring, more so than last year would be my guess.     Whether southern markets turn out to have excess supplies, and some of those supplies find their way to the Midwest, we will have to wait and see. Whether especially intense spring demand in the Midwest

happens at the same time as especially intense demand in southern markets, generating a possible “logistical logjam” and potential outages, we’ll see also. I don’t think so, but maybe there is too much fertilizer in the Midwest. Maybe that is what “buyer cautiousness” on the part of many farmers to date is telling us somehow. Or we may have too little supply, depending on how southern demand and logistics go, and how “intense” Midwest demand really turns out. Or, maybe everything is just right?

Joe Dillier serves as GROWMARK’s director of plant food. His email address is jdillier@grow mark.com.

Good fat, bad fat, low fat, no fat creates diet dilemma

group. These fats are considered healthy because Still trying to achieve your New Year’s resothey are good for your heart, your cholesterol lutions to eat right? With so much information flying around about fat, it’s easy to be confused. levels and overall health. They actually help lower LDL (bad) cholesterol levels,” she said. Grocery aisles feature reduced-fat, low-fat According to the National Institutes of Health, and fat-free foods. Restaurant and fast food menus load up on bacon and butter. Fat, fat, fat! bad fats include saturated fats and trans fats. These fats are generally solid at room temperature Some people become so frustrated that they want to exclude fats all together, said a Universi- and only become liquid when heated. Notice how meat fat and ty of Illinois bacon fat hardEducation nutrias they cool. tion and well‘No fat is not the answer. The problem ensBanks said ness educator. with no fat is that you eliminate the trans fats, or “No fat is vegetable shortnot the answer,” good along with the bad.’ enings, are mansaid Drusilla made. They are Banks. “The problem with — Drusilla Banks oils that have been hardened no fat is that U of I nutrition and wellness educator in an industrial you eliminate the good along with the bad. A better plan is to process that adds hydrogen, thus the name “partially hydrogenated.” They lower good HDL and eat fewer bad fats and replace them with good raise bad LDL cholesterol. Higher LDL levels can ones. In order to do that, you must understand put people at risk for a heart attack from a sudden the different types of fat.” blood clot in an artery narrowed by plaque Banks explained that good fats are essential to buildup, also called atherosclerosis. good health. In fact, the human body needs fat “Try to get into the habit of checking the and cannot live without it. Fats comprise an ingredient list on food packages,” Banks important part of a healthy diet and assist many bodily functions. Fats provide fat-soluble vitamins, advised. “These labels will tell you what’s in the food, including the type of fat and any added which are needed for healthy skin and energy. nutrients or sugars. Ingredients are listed in “The best fats for cooking and eating are liqdescending order of amount by weight. uid fats at room temperature. They pour rather “Fat-free on the label does not mean you can than being scooped out of the container. These fats, called mono-unsaturated and polyunsaturat- eat all you want without consequences. Foods with all the fat removed have usually replaced it ed fats, come from olives, nuts, seeds, soybeans with something else,” Banks cautioned. and other vegetables. Canola oil is also in this

Global sugar glut driving down food business cost

Brianna Eeten, a Logan County Field Mom, fourth from right, learns facts about the Central Illinois Food Bank during a Central Illinois Farm Families tour. Participants visited MJ Kellner Food Service and the food bank in Springfield. The tour concluded at the Sangamon County Farm Bureau with lunch, and a pork preparation and cooking demonstration from the Illinois Pork Producers. Other tour participants included, from left, Diana Beaty, Sangamon County Farm Bureau member; Larry Beaty, Sangamon County Farm Bureau president; Dave Opperman, Logan County Farm Bureau member; Ashley Beutke, Mason-Menard Farm Bureau manager; Eeten; Lindsey McQueen, Cass-Morgan Farm Bureau manager; Alice Meeker, Mason County Farm Bureau member; and Anna McMakin, food bank donor relations coordinator. Central Illinois Farm Families include Field Moms from Cass, Logan, Mason, Menard Morgan and Sangamon counties. (Photo by Jenny Webb, Sangamon County Farm Bureau assistant manager)

The global sugar supply will exceed demand for the fifth consecutive year, leaving a record-breaking stockpile of almost 80 million tons, according to the London-based International Sugar Organization. The excess supply is expected to drive already low sugar prices that dropped by 50 percent in the last three years even lower. However, annual consumption has kept up. In the United States and Europe, people ate more sugar in 2013 compared with 2011 — 82 pounds in Europe, and 71.6 pounds in the U.S., both well above the global average of 50.7 pounds. Lower sugar costs already

are helping to reduce commodity costs for some food manufacturers. Krispy Kreme report-

ed reducing costs by $3 million for the next fiscal year, according to Bloomberg Business.

Black Hawk to host judging conference

More than 1,000 high school and collegiate agriculture students plan to attend the 2015 North American Colleges and Teachers of Agriculture (NACTA) Judging Conference hosted by Black Hawk College in Moline. The April 8-10 conference at the iWireless Center in Moline will feature judging competitions, which cover everything from soils and agribusiness to crops and livestock management. An Agricultural Networking Fair will provide participants and volunteers opportunities to engage with industry leaders. Students and volunteers can further take tours of John Deere World Headquarters, the Niabi Zoo and Figge Art Museum. NACTA is an organization committed to advancing the scholarship of teaching and learning in agricultural, environmental, natural and life sciences.


Weather enters the fray

There’s a verse in the Old Testament of the Bible, “There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under the heavens.” Now is the time for weather to again become a part of the daily action in the grain markets. That’s not to say that it hasn’t had implications during the winter, but without extremes, either here or elsewhere in the world, it has not had a significant impact. But now that spring is unfolding in the U.S. and the northern hemisphere, weather will get much more attention. There’s already been talk about the general dryness in much of the Great Plains, from the southern areas to the northern reaches, even into Canada. With winter wheat breaking dormancy, there is need for good spring rains if the winter crop is to achieve good yields. Even though winter wheat conditions have improved in the Southern Plains in recent weeks, they’re still less than desirable to produce a good crop. Good/excellent ratings are only 41 percent in Kansas, 44 percent in Oklahoma and 55 percent in Texas. That’s not a recipe for disaster, but dictates the need for spring rains. It’s been dry enough in the Northern Plains and Red River Valley to drop conditions to moderately/abnormally dry. That extends into the Canadian Prairies. It is dry enough that some very early planting of spring crops has started in those areas. Moisture has been less than normal the last 45 days except for central North Dakota and

most of Texas. Recent forecasts for April show abovenormal chances for Texas, below-normal moisture in the Northern Plains and normal elsewhere. While it’s good for planting spring crops, it should perpetuate some yield risk. The wetness stretching from Texas across the South has gotten planting of spring crops off to a slow start with forecasts calling for cool, moist conditions to continue. While it’s too soon to generate much concern, it will be closely watched. Soils across much of the heart of the Corn Belt have normal/slightly less-than-normal moisture. That bodes well for planting to get off to a good start, but the light showers/snows and cool conditions are keeping farmers out of the field. With many still needing to get fertilizer on this spring, anxiety will start to increase when the calendar turns to April. Forecasts are generally normal, suggesting little reason for concern at this time, but as always, anything unusual brings price volatility with it. This same pattern persists across key areas of the world. The Russian/Ukrainian winter crops are in good shape. Spring planting is said to be under way, and a little ahead of last year. Western Europe’s winter crops are not quite as good as last year’s at this time. And the near-term outlook calls for conditions to be a little dry. This week, the International Grains Council reiterated its forecast for slightly smaller crops in 2015. If weather would turn unfavorable in any major area, production could slip and supplies decline, sparking a need to build some risk premium back into prices. There’s still a long way to go before this year’s crops are in the bins.

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Corn Strategy

ü2014 crop: The recent action in corn prices suggests they are starting to turn up out of a winter low, but the USDA reports will have some impact on the speed and extent of any move. We expect better selling opportunities ahead, but can’t be sure on the level until after the reports. Make only needed sales at this time. We still think basis contracts are attractive, leaving pricing open into late spring or summer. Continue to hold 2013 crop for expected long-term improvement. ü2015 crop: The technical picture continues to improve, but it may take time to get an uptrend entrenched. We see no reason to price new crop now. Buy some out-of-the money, new-crop call options to make sales against this spring/summer. vFundamentals: Like the other grains, the short-term trend in prices will largely be dictated by the outcome of the USDA reports. Still, signs of trend shifts in financial markets bode well for potential improvement in corn prices in the weeks ahead.

Page 11 • Monday, March 30, 2015 • FarmWeek Cents per bu.

Soybean Strategy

ü2014 crop: Soybean prices struggle more than corn with the trade continuing to expect significantly larger acreage in 2015. But until a large crop is secure, prices shouldn’t have much downside risk. Unless the USDA reports are bearish, we still see somewhat higher prices in the short term. Hold off making sales. ü2015 crop: New-crop prices still take their lead from old crop. Spring/summer prices will key off USDA reports and weather. But we don’t see a negative enough scenario to cause them to spiral sharply lower at this time. We have no interest in pricing 2015 crop at these levels. vFundamentals: Temporarily, the South American crops will take a back seat to the potential for the 2015 U.S. crop. The Brazilian harvest is starting to wind down. But the Argentine harvest is starting to accelerate. In both countries, disputes between producers, unions and the government have potential to restrain

how fast soybeans flow into the world pipeline.

Wheat Strategy

ü2014 crop: Futures still face the weight of big, oldcrop stocks, but new-crop futures are beginning to take the lead. ü2015 crop: Hold off making sales while prices appear to be turning up out of a bottom. vFundamentals: It was a volatile week for futures as weather worries eased and exports disappointed. Weekend reports from USDA showed improvement in the Southern Plains crop. Rain is forecast for the area, but soil conditions remain very dry .

It is too early to say much about the soft red wheat crop. All eyes are on quality after last year’s issues. For U.S. and world growers, estimates are being cut for 201516 output. Even so, old-crop stocks are abundant and bears are quick to point out the outlook for high domestic and global stocks-to-use ratios. There can’t be much slippage in demand at this point in the marketing year, not after last week’s poor export sales. New-crop considerations are friendly enough to outweigh old-crop headwinds, and patience on sales is justified.


FarmWeek • Page 12 • Monday, March 30, 2015

Ag education reflects changing face of ag

Sue Schafer, Taylorville High School agriculture teacher, helps a student count kernels to estimate yield. (Photo by Michael Conti)

It is an honor to represent the nearly 520,000 elementary and 30,000 high school students exploring and preparing for careers in agriculture in the state of Illinois. Agriculture is all around us; it is an industry we cannot live without. With a fast-growing world population, a safe and plentiful food supply is important for our future. Agricultural education is the tool to ensure our great state of Illinois has a well-trained work force to feed our nation and the world in a progressive and responsible way. Agriculture education and FFA have been essential in preparing students for careers in the agriculture field and helping them develop the leadership skills they will use later in life. This year, the Illinois FFA adopted a theme of “Proud Traditions ... Sparking Ambitions.” What a great legacy agriculture leaders have provided Illinois youth. For 45 years, the Illinois Department of Agriculture has helped coordinate Agricultural Legislative Day. It’s a day that brings commodity groups and many others interested in agriculture to share agriculture’s message with CODY the leadership of our state. The Illinois MORRIS Department of Agriculture and those agriculture organizations realize youth are vitally important to the future of this industry. Agriculture education defies an average person’s perception of “agriculture.” Only 11 percent of all the students in agriculture education actually live on a family farm. The face of agriculture has changed, and with it, the students and communities we serve. We continually strive to be a part of those urban communities, so we can prepare students from all backgrounds and experiences for a key role in tomorrow’s agriculture. From research to marketing, from veterinary science to food science, from landscaping to agritourism, students across Illinois — from Naperville to New Athens and from Chicago to Sherrard — and all the communities in between have built a strong foundation for Illinois agriculture. On behalf of all the agriculture students in Illinois, thank you for supporting agriculture and agricultural education.

Cody Morris of Mattoon serves as Illinois FFA Association president. He gave this message to the Illinois House of Representatives and state agricultural leaders on Illinois Agricultural Legislative Day.

Constructing an Illinois food and agriculture road map When you hear the words “Silicon Valley,” you think technolog y. Detroit is the motor city. Politicians talk ethanol when they campaign in Iowa. When it comes to Illinois, I’m afraid the economic importance of food and agriculture is underappreciated, especially in the Chicago region. The Food and Agriculture Road Map for Illinois (FARM Illinois) seeks to change that perception. The initiative is being funded by the Chicago Community Trust in collaboration with the Illinois Far m Bureau. CHRIS FARM Illinois MAGNUSON intends to develop a comprehensive plan to enable Illinois and the Chicago region to become the leading global hub for food and agriculture system innovation. Why Illinois? As a state, we have many great assets, including: • the most productive soils in the world, • available water supplies, • extensive transportation infrastructure to ship products to global markets, • ranking first in food processing sales, • serving as home to the ag financial futures market, and • Chicago, a major global city with deep roots in agriculture. A diverse cross section of farmers, business leaders, food industry, academia, and state and local agency representatives are participating in the plan development. The Leadership Council is chaired by University of Illinois President Bob Easter. IFB President Richard Guebert Jr. co-chairs the production and supply committee. The plan is taking shape, and we hope to have it finalized by May 2015. The draft plan has identified strategic recommendations in seven areas:

• improving Illinois business climate, • supporting emerging local and regional food systems, • securing investment in transportation infrastructure, • facilitating innovation, • fostering community development, • ensuring resource conservation, and • attracting and training a high quality work force. How will a statewide plan be used? The final plan will be shared with Gov. Bruce Rauner and members of the Illinois General Assembly. It provides a road map for future state investments to support food and agriculture. In fact, many concepts from FARM Illinois were included in recommendations from the governor’s transition team. It can assist university ag-related colleges in planning future investments in research and academic programs. We hope to influence the conversation in Illinois around food sustainability, research and infrastructure investments, innovation and work force development. I believe Farm Bureau will benefit from the expanded relationships with groups like World Business Chicago, Mariano’s, the Chicago Mayor’s Office, Fresh Taste and the Chicago Community Trust. I’ve seen the growth in awareness of the importance of food and agriculture to the state among these stakeholders. As an example, the Chicagoland Chamber of Commerce has added an agriculture committee. The political landscape in Illinois is diverse with rural, suburban and urban interests. However, we share many common interests in areas like education, transportation, resource conservation and business climate. It is nice to have many allies working together on a shared vision to promote agriculture in our state.

Checking food label information

will always buy no GMO if I have a choice. No. 4, I look for no or the least amount of artificial additives. As an RN, I’ve seen too many farmers suffer and die from their occupation of working with chemicals. As I heard a dietician say once, everything God made is OK, but when we add to or change his creation, we create problems. MARY WHITE Vandalia

Chris Magnuson serves as IFB executive director of operations, news and communications. Find out more about FARM Illinois at {farmillinois.org}.

Letter to the editor

Editor: I have to disagree with some of your articles regarding food. As a farmer’s daughter, Registered Nurse (RN) and Farm Bureau member, I always check labels when I grocery shop. I have four necessities for buying food. No. 1, the product must be from the USA because restrictions are stricter. No. 2, the product needs to be organic if possible. No. 3, I

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Farmweek march 30, 2015  

agriculture, Illinois Farm Bureau

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