Page 1

Farmers have until June 1 to make sure they qualify for crop insurance premium support. page 2

Wheat tour participants estimate an average yield of 60.4 bushels per acre in southern Illinois. page 4

Congress seeks repeal of COOL requirements Monday, May 25, 2015

Need to retrofit a tractor with ROPS? Consider applying for a $500 IFB cash incentive. page 8


Two sections Volume 43, No. 21


The U.S. House Agriculture Committee last week approved legislation that would repeal mandatory country of origin labeling (COOL) requirements for beef, pork and chicken. House Agriculture Committee Where does Chairman Michael Conaway, RTexas, introduced the bill, HR IFB stand? 2393, on the same day the AppelIllinois Farm late Body of the World Trade Bureau policy Organization (WTO) found the “opposes any United States’ labeling law in violation of international trade law for U.S. policy that restricts agriculthe fourth and final time. tural exports.” The ruling could allow Canada and Mexico — two of the United States’ largest trading partners — to apply retaliatory tariffs on billions of dollars of U.S. exports. Illinois alone faces retaliatory tariffs on roughly $900 million worth of exports. Possible targets include breads, cereals, pork, corn, soybeans, plastics and corn syrup. Calling it a threat to Illinois agricultural exports, IFB President Richard Guebert Jr. wrote a letter urging members of Illinois’ Congressional delegation to

Trade Promotion Authority advances in Senate

See COOL, page 2

Periodicals: Time Valued

Above, fourth graders from St. Germaine School in Oak Lawn climb aboard a sprayer at Fulton County Farm Bureau Vice President Bob Vohland’s far m near Canton. Twenty-nine students from the “adopted” classroom enjoyed the spring day. Right, Robin Fisher of Ellisville, who farms with her parents, board member Barry and Laura, introduces students and their teacher, Carole Scannell, to members of the family’s sheep flock. Fulton County Farm Bureau Board members, including Vohland and Fisher, corresponded with the students during the school year about farm activities. (Photos by Cyndi Cook)


Trade Promotion Authority cleared a key hurdle in the U.S. Senate last week. Senators voted 62-38 to end debate on the controversial issue, which would allow President Barack Obama to negotiate trade deals without Congress changing them. At press time, the Senate had yet to take a final vote on the issue. Sen. Mark Kirk, R-Highland Park, voted in favor of ending debate. Sen. Dick Durbin, DSpringfield, voted against it. In a statement, Durbin said trade deals often “end up luring American jobs overseas.”

“The truth is, we can and should expand trade, but we must also expand opportunity in America at the same time,” Durbin said. “The irony of this vote is that it formally ended debate on a bill that would limit the authority of the Senate to debate and amend these trade deals. We owe workers in Illinois and across the country a full, open and honest debate over such critical legislation.” Illinois Farm Bureau supports TPA. Hundreds of FB ACT members contacted Durbin and Kirk, urging them to support the bill. “If you look at history, Trade Promo-

tion Authority has really been good for not only Illinois agriculture but agriculture across the United States,” IFB President Richard Guebert Jr. told the RFD Radio Network®. In the most recent five-year period where statistics are available, USDA says Illinois exported $40 billion in agricultural products.   Supporters said the president needs the fast-track authority to make progress on pending trade deals. The bill would still allow Congress to vote up or down on trade agreements, but members could not amend them.

Quick Takes

Protect crop insurance premium support with AD-1026

FarmWeek • Page 2 • Monday, May 25, 2015

SOLAR TEAM SHINES — A team of 28 University of Illinois students recently nabbed one of five grand winner finalist awards in the 2015 U.S. Department of Energy Race to Zero Student Design Competition. The Illinois Solar Decathlon team competed against 33 teams from 27 universities. They designed, analyzed and documented a net-zero energy and net-zero water ready home. The total amount of energy used in a net-zero energy home on an annual basis is equivalent to or less than the amount of renewable energy created on the site. A net-zero water home means the home is certified for treatment of rainwater to potable standards. U of I team members represented four colleges: Agricultural, Consumer and Environmental Sciences; Business; Engineering; and Fine and Applied Arts. They designed and built a net-zero energy retrofit of a 1940s farmer’s cottage that was slated for demolition at Allerton Park. The team worked with Skidmore, Owings & Merrill, a Chicago architectural firm. 

PORK YOUTH LEADERSHIP OPPORTUNITY — If you’re between the ages of 16 and 22 with an interest in the pork industry, consider attending the 2015 Illinois Pork Leadership Institute (IPLI) June 28 through July 1 in the Chicago area. Participants will tour various segments of the agriculture industry and learn about pork promotion, research, consumer information and issues that affect the pork industry. Goals include building leadership, citizenship and communication skills through hands-on experiences. Tour stops will include Fair Oaks Farms, the Chicago Board of Trade, farm broadcaster Orion Samuelson, a cooking class at Kendall College and Northern Illinois Food Bank. Registration costs $100 per person with applications due June 1. The Illinois Pork Producers Association sponsors IPLI. Applications can be downloaded at {}, call 217529-3100 or email Mike Borgic at

WHEAT CONTEST DEADLINE EXTENDED — Got a good stand of wheat growing? Consider entering the Illinois Wheat Association’s (IWA) yield contest. The deadline has been extended to June 1. Contest entrants must be current IWA members or pay for a one- or three-year membership when submitting an entry form and $50 entry fee. To enter, visit {} or call 309-557-3662. Once a completed entry form has been submitted, IWA will provide a harvest form to collect additional information, which must be completed and returned by July 24. Entries must also be verified by a qualified supervisor. The top four entries will be awarded in both the northern and southern region of the state with first place receiving $500, second place receiving $250, third place receiving $125 and fourth place receiving a three-year IWA membership. Prizes will be awarded at the Summer Wheat Forum Aug. 25 at the Knights of Columbus in Highland.

(ISSN0197-6680) Vol. 43 No. 21 May 25, 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.

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. © 2015 Illinois Agricultural Association


@FarmWeekNow @ILFarmBureau

STAFF Editor Chris Anderson ( Legislative Affairs Editor Kay Shipman ( Agricultural Affairs Editor Deana Stroisch ( Senior Commodities Editor Daniel Grant ( Editorial Assistant Margie Fraley ( Business Production Manager Bob Standard ( Advertising Sales Manager Richard Verdery ( Classified sales coordinator Nan Fannin ( Director of News and Communications Michael L. Orso ( Advertising Sales Representatives Hurst and Associates, Inc. P.O. Box 6011, Vernon Hills, IL 60061 1-800-397-8908 (advertising inquiries only) Gary White - Northern Illinois Doug McDaniel - Southern Illinois Editorial phone number: 309-557-2239 Classified advertising: 309-557-3155 Display advertising: 1-800-676-2353


In order to be eligible for premium support on their federal crop insurance, farmers need to complete and sign an AD-1026 certification form at their local Farm Service Agency (FSA) office by June 1. If a farmer does not have form AD-1026 on file with FSA by June 1 or is not in compliance with the requirements as outlined on the form, he or she will not be eligible for a premium subsidy on any federal crop insurance policy that has a sales closing date on or after July 1. This means farmers may still be eligible for insurance, but will have to pay the full premium. In 2014, the average premium cost of a crop insurance policy was $8,332, of which Federal Crop Insurance Corporation paid approximately 62 percent on the producer’s behalf. If a farmer is not in compliance with Highly Erodible Land Conservation and Wetland Conservation provisions, the premium cost could double, making it vital for farmers to have form AD-1026 on file with the FSA. “Illinois FSA employees are working very hard to get the word out about this new 2014 farm bill provision,” said Doug Bailey, Illinois FSA chief conservation/compliance specialist. “While many producers will not need to take action, we want to help make sure those who are required to act do so by the June 1 deadline. We want all eligible producers to be able to maintain their ability to protect their

operations with affordable insurance.” As of Thursday, COUNTRY Financial representatives said 450 of their policyholders hadn’t filed the required paperwork. Eric Swanson, crop underwriting manager, said COUNTRY representatives notified each customer by phone and by mail to let them know what happens if they miss the June 1 deadline. “We want to give advanced notice to our customers who are noncompliant to minimize surprises when federal crop insurance premium notices are mailed,” Swanson said. The 2014 farm bill continues the requirement that producers adhere to conservation compliance guidelines to be eligible for most programs administered by FSA and the Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS). This includes most financial assistance such as the new price and revenue protection programs, the Conservation Reserve Program, the Livestock Disaster Assistance programs and Marketing Assistance Loans. It also includes the Environmental Quality Incentives Program, the Conservation Stewardship Program and other conservation programs implemented by NRCS. When a farmer completes and submits the AD-1026 certification form, FSA and NRCS staff will review the associated farm records and outline any additional actions that may be required to meet the required compliance. Form AD-1026 is available at FSA offices and at {}. 

Rural Entrepreneur Challenge begins June 1

Beginning June 1, the American Farm Bureau Federation will accept applications for the Rural Entrepreneurship Challenge. Participants will compete for $145,000 in startup funds. Applications must be submitted by June 30. Quincybased Golden Bridges, a senior move management company, placed among last year’s four national finalists. New this year, competitors must have an idea for a business directly or indirectly related to food and agriculture. Businesses directly related to food and agriculture include farms or ranches, value-added food processing, food hubs, community-supported agriculture programs, farm-to-table restaurants and farmers’ markets. Businesses indirectly related to food and agriculture include support services such as crop scouting, agritourism, ag advertising agencies and ag tech companies that develop apps. Also new, Farm Bureau will endeavor to connect top scoring teams with resources for crowdfunding loans to help them jumpstart their businesses. Competitors must be based in a rural community as defined by the U.S. Census Bureau. Competitors’ primary residences or businesses must be located in a county with less

than 50,000 residents or a town with less than 2,500 residents. Applications must include a business plan, video pitch and photo. Judges will review the applications and provide feedback to participants. Participants have the option of resubmitting portions of their applications; resubmission is optional and participants are not penalized for not resubmitting their applications. The top 10 teams will be announced Oct. 15. This includes six teams who will win $10,000 in startup funds and four finalist teams who will win

$15,000 in startup funds and participate in a live competition at AFBF’s 97th Annual Convention in Orlando, Fla., in January. Finalists will compete for the grand prize title Farm Bureau Rural Entrepreneur of the Year and $15,000 in additional startup funds to implement their ideas. One of the finalists also will be honored with the People’s Choice Award and $10,000 in additional startup funding. To view an application, visit { lenge}.

repeal mandatory COOL requirements. He pointed to a recent USDA study that concluded there’s little evidence that consumers buy more food items bearing U.S.-origin labels. The study estimated the new requirements would cost $2.6 billion and ultimately make meat more expensive. “Mandatory COOL has no impact on food safety,” Guebert wrote. “It represents an unfortunate policy failure that can’t be fixed and must be repealed.” He also thanked Reps. Rodney Davis, R-Taylorville;

Cheri Bustos, D-East Moline; and Mike Bost, R-Murphysboro, for co-sponsoring the bill. COOL regulations, first approved as part of the 2002 farm bill, require retailers to notify customers of the country of origin of certain commodities. Labels must include the location of each of the production steps – born, raised and slaughtered. The WTO ruled the requirements discriminate against Canadian and Mexican livestock imports and remain inconsistent with the WTO Agreement on Technical Barriers on Trade.


Continued from page 1

Page 3 • Monday, May 25, 2015 • FarmWeek

Nutrient notes

Sangamon County farmer Garry Niemeyer shows some of the residue caught in a filter strip beside his cornfield near Chatham. Niemeyer uses

filter strips, conservation tillage and split fertilizer applications to keep sediment and nutrients out of Lake Springfield, the city’s water source.

Consider the following to improve nutrient use and management: • Apply nitrogen close to maximum crop development to increase its effectiveness and yields; • Focus on retaining soil and catching runoff, even around flat fields, to keep nutrients out of lakes and streams; • Conduct field trials of nutrient products, rates and applications to find combinations suited for soils and topography; and • Work with local watershed groups, fertilizer dealers and university researchers for viable solutions for local issues.

WATERSHED FOCUS: Keeping soil and nutrients on fields, out of lake Editor’s note: FarmWeek’s ongoing series, entitled Nutrients Matter, shares farmers’ expertise and practices with a goal of enhancing nutrient management. BY KAY SHIPMAN FarmWeek

Sangamon County farmer Garry Niemeyer works to keep his soil and nutrients on his fields and out of Lake Springfield, which supplies drinking water to Springfield and neighboring communities. Unlike the bad blood between some cities and farmers, Springfield and its electric and water utility work with farmers and the ag industry on water quality. Recently, the Lake Springfield Watershed focus turned to improving nutrient management, especially nitrogen, to reduce nitrate levels in the lake. The lake watershed includes about 95 percent of Niemeyer’s fields. During the last four years, Niemeyer of Auburn adjusted his nitrogen fertilizer, switching from all fall-applied anhydrous ammonia with a nitrogen stabilizer to applying half in the fall, starter fertilizer in the spring, and the rest either in a band or as urea at the V8 stage when corn measures about a foot. “We did a nitrogen study


last year. It only makes sense to apply fertilizer close to the time when it is needed most,” Niemeyer said. “We don’t use any more or less nitrogen, we’re just changing the timing ... The kicker is — we’ve increased yields 15 to 20 percent.” Before Niemeyer changed his fertilizer applications, he concentrated on reducing soil erosion. Now, corn grows on sediment dredged from the lake, and turned into a field and berm in the 1980s. “We (farmers) didn’t want to do that again; we wanted to be proactive,” Niemeyer noted. Niemeyer installed filter strips that total 23 acres on his 2,100-acre farm. He adopted conservation tillage and no-till. “My main purpose was to keep soil on my farm. When I stopped the soil leaving, I stopped the nutrients and chemicals leaving, too,” he added. Niemeyer illustrates by showing residue trapped in a wide grass filter strip between his cornfield and a swath of trees that edge the lake. On one side of the cornfield, 23 acres of prairie grass grow as part of the Wildlife Habitat

types of fertilizer on his own this year. Recently, he began using a fertility data service that monitors and reports precipitation and projects nutrient changes within each field. Niemeyer receives daily nutrient updates about each field on his smartphone. Niemeyer also stressed the importance of working with others within watersheds and beyond. Last week, he agreed to watch a video of Sangamon County farmer Garry Niemeyer.

Niemeyer continues to tweak his farming practices and use new technology to better manage nutrients. Niemeyer and other farmers in the Lake Springfield Watershed work with the city, agencies, organizations, academia and ag retailers to improve nutrient management and water quality. (Photos by Kay Shipman)

Incentive Program. Niemeyer continues finetuning his system and trying new ideas. Last fall, he planted his first oats and tillage radish cover crops on 40 acres near the lake. Despite a late harvest and frigid temperatures,

Niemeyer was pleased with the stand. This year, he plans to plant 160 acres of oats and radishes. Having participated in a statewide, on-farm nitrogen rate trial last year, Niemeyer is experimenting with different

to become part of a stakeholders working group on updated ammonia water quality standards for Illinois. “We’ve gotten the lakeshore homeowners involved (in Lake Springfield Watershed),” Niemeyer said. “This is evolving. To do what is right, we need coordinated efforts of universities, farmers, fertilizer dealers and CBMP (Council on Best Management Practices) ... Farmers, when they see a problem, they want to solve it. But the plans need to be tweaked for soil types and topography because there aren’t any watersheds alike.”

IAITC to share nutrient heroes’ management practices with teachers BY KAY SHIPMAN FarmWeek

Farmers soon will share with teachers what they’re doing to keep nutrients in fields, thanks to Illinois Agriculture in the Classroom (IAITC). This summer on its website, IAITC will launch “Nutrient Hero,” using photographs, videos and information about farmers profiled in FarmWeek’s Nutrients Matter series, according to Kevin Daugherty, Illinois Farm

Bureau education director. “The teachers we work with always rank environmental stewardship at the top of their concerns with agriculture,” Daugherty said. “Each year during our teacher training sessions, we work to include agriculture and the relationship with the environment. “The Nutrient Hero section on our website and Facebook page will help showcase the efforts by farmers across the state.”

Farmers’ best management practices and conservation structures will be explained in layman’s terms for educators. Terms, such as grassed waterway, buffer strip and cover crops, may not be understood, and nonfarmers may not even recognize those practices when they see them as they travel. Teachers will find related experiments and activities to help students understand the concepts discussed.

Daugherty plans to highlight different farmers throughout the summer, starting in late June. The information will cover the new Nutrient Loss Reduction Strategy. The statewide voluntary strategy offers a menu of practices and programs to reduce nutrient losses in rural and urban areas from point sources and diffuse nonpoint sources, such as farm fields, residential and urban areas.

Southern Illinois Wheat Tour pegs yield at 60.4 bushels FarmWeek • Page 4 • Monday, May 25, 2015


The Illinois wheat crop possesses the potential to produce an average to slightly above-average yield this season, based on findings of the Southern Illinois Wheat Tour.

and get a firsthand look at southern Illinois wheat conditions.

Participants of the annual tour, hosted by the Illinois Wheat Association (IWA), last week estimated an average wheat yield this season of 60.4 bushels per acre. “Overall, it looks pretty decent right now,” said James Harper, of ADM Milling in Mount Vernon, Ind., who led one of four legs of the tour. “Time will tell.” Mother Nature now will determine if the final yield moves up or down from the estimate. Wheat growers hope for sunshine and average temperatures in coming weeks with the hope of reducing the spread of wheat diseases. “One of the biggest challenges with the timing of the tour (this year) is we’re still

about 10 days out before we’ll know if head scab is an issue again this year,” Harper said. Dave DeVore, merchandiser at Siemer Milling Co. in Teutopolis, last week said it was too early to gauge wheat disease pressure in his area as well. Yield estimates on the first part of the tour in Effingham County, led by DeVore, range from 44 to 77 bushels per acre. “From what I’ve seen so far, I’m pretty optimistic yields will be average or better,” he said. Wheat tour participants left

from four locations; Siemer Milling Co., Mennel Milling Co. in Mount Olive, Wehmeyer Seed Co. in Mascoutah and Wabash Valley Service Co. in Carmi. “We pretty well covered southern Illinois,” DeVore said. “I think we have a pretty good feel for what kind of yield potential we have.” The Southern Illinois Wheat Tour estimate typically ends up close to the final yield calculated by USDA. This year’s yield estimate was based on about 50 field checks in 18 counties,

Representatives of Siemer Milling Co., Teutopolis, left to right, Adam Kessler, Daphne Gullet and Stephanie Leasher record wheat tiller counts in an Effingham County field during the Southern Illinois Wheat Tour hosted by the Illinois Wheat Association. Tour participants estimated an average yield of 60.4 bushels per acre this season. (Photo by Daniel Grant)

according to Diane Handley, IWA executive director. Previous tour estimates came in at 62.1 bushels per acre in 2013 and 65 bushels per acre last year. The USDA final yield both years tied a record of 67 bushels per acre. USDA this month predicted the 2015 crop once again will tie the record yield of 67 bushels. Growers will know for sure in late June when participants

of the wheat tour believe harvest will commence. “I think it (the wheat yield) will be average to slightly above average in wheat fields that are intensively managed,” said Larry Cooper, of Crop Vision Consulting in Albion. “The greatest downfall could be a lack of tillers.” Tiller counts generally were a little higher in deep southern Illinois, Harper added.

Stripe rust, armyworms invade portions of Illinois wheat crop

Many wheat growers took a proactive approach to pest and disease management this year. And it appears those efforts could pay off. Participants of the annual Southern Illinois Wheat Tour, hosted by the Illinois Wheat Association, last week found patches of disease and a fairly healthy presence of armyworms in a number of fields. “We’ve got a lot of obstacles to overcome before the (wheat) crop is harvested,” Larry Cooper of Crop Vision Consulting in Albion said in an Effingham County wheat field during the tour. “We found quite a bit of (armyworm) feeding.” Cooper estimated 80 percent to as much as 90 percent of growers he works with opted to spray their fields in recent weeks. “With the experience last year of having Fusarium head blight pretty severely, most growers were pretty easy to convince to try to protect what investment they had by putting on a fungicide,” Cooper said. “Most bundled it in tank mixes with insecticide in anticipation of some types of (pest) problems.” Early-season moth catches hinted armyworm and cutworm populations could be significant in isolated patches of wheat fields. And that’s exactly what participants of the wheat tour found at some locations. However, it could be weeks before growers know the extent of disease outbreaks, such as wheat scab. Cooper found some plants infected by powdery mildew on the tour. “Certain diseases should start manifesting about now,” Cooper said. “But it will be several weeks before we find out the effects of fungicide applications.” Carl Bradley, University of Illinois Extension plant pathologist, said research shows Fusarium head blight can be reduced by 40 to 60 percent with the use of Prosaro or Caramba. The best time to apply fungicides typically occurs during the early flowering stage. “The way things are lining up (with cool weather and more rain in the Memorial Day weekend forecast), I’d consider it (a fungicide application for later wheat fields), especially if you have some susceptible varieties,” he said. Bradley this month confirmed another disease, stripe rust, moved north along the Mississippi Valley into Illinois. Stripe rust recently materialized at U of I wheat plots in Brownstown, Dixon Springs and Urbana. “The two main things going on right now (on the disease front) are a risk of head blight, depending on where you are and the stage your wheat is in,” Bradley said. “And there’s a risk of stripe rust, especially if it stays cool.” — Daniel Grant

Larry Cooper of Crop Vision Consulting in Albion displays a wheat plant with powdery mildew and armyworm feeding damage in an Effingham County field. The field check was one of many during the Southern Illinois Wheat Tour hosted by the Illinois Wheat Association. (Photo by Daniel Grant)

Plan joins state’s ag, food, business strengths

Page 5 • Monday, May 25, 2015 • FarmWeek


By harnessing together Illinois’ industries of agriculture, food and business, the state could emerge as the nation’s and world’s food innovation capital, a strategic partnership announced last week. The Food andAgricultural Road Map for Illinois — FARM Illinois released its report, the culmination of eight months of work by the state’s top agriculture, business and economic leaders. To view the plan, visit {}. The 90-page report set goals and strategies in six categories: innovation leadership, business development, workforce and education, resource management, infrastructure, and branding and market development. Some recommendations offer short-term actions, while others look farther into the future.

“FARM Illinois provides a road map to strengthen the agriculture and food sector, create jobs, and solidify Illinois’ position in the global agriculture and food marketplace for decades,” said Illinois Farm Bureau President Richard Guebert Jr., a member of Richard Guebert Jr. the FARM Illinois leadership council. “Farmers need to continue to stay intimately involved in the FARM Illinois process,” Guebert said. “I hope to be on the Leadership Council. IFB plans to financially support implementation efforts, and I hope other commodity groups will do the same.” FARM Illinois grew from the roots of the Vision for Illinois Agriculture, which provided “the starting point of conversation,” said University of Illinois President Emeritus Robert Easter, who played significant roles in both efforts. Easter described Vision as “mainly downstate folks” com-

pared to FARM Illinois’ inclusion of business, food industry, technology and local food leaders, along with those from farming and agribusiness. “I was impressed by the extent the additional people were interested and wanted to be part of the conversation Robert Easter and where we go next,” Easter, FARM Illinois leadership council chairman, told FarmWeek. “Many key elements of the Vision are incorporated as recommendations in the FARM Illinois report,” Guebert noted. “These include improving the state’s business climate, transportation infrastructure and workforce development. We now have a larger group of stakeholders working on these initiatives.” Tantalizing opportunities await Illinois agriculture and its farmers of all products — if only to supply most of the food consumed within the state, Easter noted.

Education, advocacy comprise goals for new 4-H livestock ambassadors BY KAY SHIPMAN FarmWeek

The Illinois livestock industry gained youthful advocates when Illinois 4-H launched its new state livestock ambassador team this year. From around the state, 21 4-H’ers, ages 16 to 21, were selected from applicants statewide to serve on the inaugural team, according to Dan Jennings, University of Illinois Extension animal science educator. With 25,000 options, livestock comprises a major segment of 4H projects, Jennings noted. He added ambassadors will gain knowledge about the livestock industry and careers as well as leadership and spokesperson skills. The leadership and educational components attracted Jessica Arnold of Clifton in Iroquois County. Arnold, who recently completed her freshman year at Joliet Junior College, exhibited sheep in 4-H, works on a commercial hog farm and participates in collegiate livestock judging. An aspiring agriculture teacher, Arnold reasoned a term as a livestock ambassador offered “opportunities to be around kids and gain leadership.”

After receiving their initial training in late June, the ambassadors will play ag-related educational games with visitors of all ages at farm exhibits in urban areas, including Brookfield Zoo and the Illinois State Fair. The group will also conduct a 4-H leadership clinic for younger teens, Jennings said. As for the ambassadors, they will receive leadership, spokesperson and media training along with other information. The Illinois State 4-H Livestock Ambassador program will pull components from various livestock breed youth leader programs and the Texas 4-H livestock ambassador program, Jennings said, adding that Texas offered the first, and only other, state 4-H livestock ambassador program. Because the program’s new, Jennings remains open to different opportunities for the new ambassadors. He noted the 4-H’ers live in all parts of the state. “As new opportunities arise, we’ll pull from the kids closest” to the location, he said. For inquiries about the 4-H livestock ambassadors, contact Jennings at 815-218-4358 or email

Alternative proteins cut into retail fresh meat sales Several factors contribute to decreased fresh meat sales at retail stores, according to a new Nielsen report. Consumer trips to buy fresh meat dropped 5 percent during the past year, and shoppers bought less meat per trip, according to the report. Meat still accounts for 11 per-

cent of retail food store sales; however, 41 percent of surveyed consumers reported buying it less often because of higher prices and 37 percent reported buying less-expensive cuts. Alternative protein sources cut into meat sales with 14.5 percent of consumers increasingly choosing dairy, cereal, yogurt

and protein-rich snacks. Everyday meat prices attract consumers more than promotions, Nielsen reported. Retailers also may use cross-merchandising opportunities, such as bringing seasoning and other grillingrelated products, into the meat department during grilling season.

One strategy supports food and agriculture business, and innovation clusters throughout the state. “If the FARM Illinois ambitions are realized, Illinois becomes the place as companies doing agriculture — tractors, seeds, food processing — cluster, and they will,” Easter said. “We get first crack at everything, and that has to be an advantage to Illinois farmers. Wouldn’t that be nice?” Other strategies include:

• Creating a state food and agriculture council to spearhead strategy implementation and development; • Forming a higher education food and agriculture consortium to attract top students and enhance related academic programs; • Hosting a global food and agriculture summit in Chicago, starting in 2018; and • Developing an Illinois “brand” that includes the food and agriculture industries.

A food-focused theme took the spotlight of the six-month world’s fair in Milan, Italy. The USA Pavilion, sponsored by the James Beard Foundation, International Culinary Center and the U.S. Department of State, highlighted America’s place in the global food system from leading scientific standpoints to new entrepreneurs in food technology. The pavilion’s exhibits and presentations covered food industry changes, including food safety, food relief, sustainability, trade policy and GMOs. “We believe the best solutions to the food system challenges come from a collaborative approach that combines different perspectives to yield

innovative models,” said Doug Hickey, commissioner general for the USA Pavilion. “It’s a unique platform that brings together entrepreneurs, companies and investors from around the world to solve complex global issues, [such as] how to feed 9 billion people by 2050.” The commission’s Feed the Accelerator program, a new food tech incubator, will help eight to 12 upcoming food tech entrepreneurs. Visit {feeding}. Participating startups may launch innovative ideas in the global market with access to workshops, seminars, hackathons and mentorship with top food system experts.

Food focus of world’s fair


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For Agriculture!

Illinois Farm Bureau

ACTION TEAMs Don’t have a crystal ball? You don’t need one! The special skills you bring to the table can create great things for agriculture. Twice a year, you meet with team members from around the state to develop a plan for a statewide project. If approved, your idea is set into action to produce results for Farm Bureau and agriculture. Work magic with a team that matches your interests. Choose from Quality of Life, Consumer Outreach, Membership Promotion, or Leadership Development. Applications are available at your county Farm Bureau. Return by Nov. 24.


FarmWeek • Page 6 • Monday, May 25, 2015 Brian Sisson, Belvidere, Boone County: The first part of the week started with daily high temperatures being 20 to 25 degrees below normal. Planting continued Monday (May 18) as, thankfully, the rain chances last weekend never really materialized. We got two good days of running before sleet and rain came Wednesday morning. We received between .5 of inch to 1.1 inches of rain, depending on which part of the county you were in, with the northern part receiving most. About 95 percent of corn has been planted and about 50 percent of the soybeans are planted. Most of the corn crop is V2 to V3. Livestock guys started first cutting of hay this week. Planting should continue as we head towards the weekend. Rain chances, yet again, are forecast starting Saturday evening through Wednesday. Pete Tekampe, Grayslake, Lake County: We received 1.2 inches of rain. With the cool temperatures, there has only been about one day of fieldwork and that was on the wet side. Corn is about 80 percent planted. The corn that is in looks good, and it greened up late last week with the warm temperatures. Beans are about 20 percent planted, and the early beans are sprouted and looking good. Rain is in the forecast four of the next seven days, but temperatures are going to warm up. Think safety. Leroy Getz, Savanna, Carroll County: We received 1.4 inches of rain on three days. May’s total is now at 6.75 inches with more forecast. On Saturday (May 16), heavy rains fell to our north, which was reported as up to 3 inches in only a few minutes. Lots of erosion occurred. Not much planting has occurred with many acres of corn and soybeans yet to be planted. Haymaking has started, but only a little has been chopped. Quantity and quality are good. Oats and wheat fields look excellent and rye has headed out. Lawns need to be mowed about every four days. Ryan Frieders, Waterman, DeKalb County: Another week spent waiting on fields to dry out so planting can resume. Corn that was planted early has suffered from wet feet and cold weather. Corn planting is still not complete in our area, and some corn will need to be replanted from ponding. A few fields of soybeans have been planted. When driving around, you see how many fields have nothing done except for weeds growing. We definitely need a change in the weather pattern for anything to grow and for work to get done. Ken Reinhardt, Seaton, Mercer County: Spotty rains around last weekend (May 16-17) and midweek didn’t slow planting progress too much. Soybeans will pretty much be finished up before Memorial Day. Post spraying on the earliest planted corn and sidedressing has begun. This part of western Illinois is still the only dry area in the Corn Belt on the drought monitor map. Ron Moore, Roseville, Warren County: We received .5 of an inch of rain. It was cooler and not enough rain to stop fieldwork for very long. Most of the soybeans are planted in this area. Post spraying of corn resumed when it dried out and the wind died down. We did get the hay mowed, and it should be baled by this week. Pasture conditions are very good now. Mark Kerber, Chatsworth, Livingston County: It felt good to get really busy again after a twoweek rainout. A few are still finishing planting corn as most everyone is planting soybeans. NH3 and liquid N are getting side-dressed, and burndown is still being applied. Our county has seen varied amounts of rain in the past few weeks and as a result, many are hoeing and replanting corn. Spotting in or tearing up whole fields is a result of the cold, wet weather. Also, herbicides don’t help. I went from wearing shorts and T-shirts back to the winter coat — welcome to Illinois weather. Our goal over the years has been to be done by Memorial Day in order to take the family camping. Doesn’t look like that will happen this year unless forecasts are wrong. Markets are getting back to break-even levels, but the Cubs are over 500 — that will change.

Tim Green, Wyoming, Stark County: Weather was pretty decent towards the middle of the week. Corn planting is finished up. Bean planting is on its way. A lot of farmers may be done this weekend (May 23-24). Corn emergence looks good. Some spraying has been done. No big problems that we can see yet. There is some yellow corn, but I think that has more to do with the cold weather. Hopefully, a little sun and heat will help. Beans seems to be emerging decently. Be safe. Ron Haase, Gilman, Iroquois County: Farmers were able to enter the fields again to continue planting. Some were able to start Monday (May 18) and more joined in as the week progressed. Most of the field activity has been planting soybean fields. Some replanting has been needed in areas where the rain was heavier. The rain for this week fell Saturday (May 16) with our farms receiving a range of .1 up to .4 of an inch. Most cornfields in the local area are at the V3 to V4 growth stage. Some farmers have been side-dressing nitrogen in corn. The earlyplanted soybean fields are in the VC to V1 growth stage. The local closing prices for May 21 were nearby corn, $3.46; new-crop corn, $3.47; nearby soybeans, $9.29; newcrop soybeans, $8.79. Brian Schaumburg, Chenoa, McLean County: A cool, wet week gives way to a warm, wet week, but in between, a lot of soybeans went in the ground. Sidedressing of corn was getting finished up as well. Corn is V3 to V4 and soybeans are now VE to V1. Early plantings are looking great, and crop ratings are still excellent. Nearby corn and fall, $3.55; soybeans, $9.26, fall, $8.88; wheat, $4.87. Steve Ayers, Champaign, Champaign County: A chilly week. We received .75 of an inch of rain Saturday evening (May 16). The big weather news of the week was the monsoonal rains in central Vermilion County — our neighbor to the east. From the same Saturday storm, 4 to 6 inches fell, closing roads and flooding Kickapoo Park in a localized storm. We also received .1 of an inch in a gentle rain Wednesday afternoon. Corn is V3 to V4, and beans are VC and V1 growth stage. I hope you attended your local Memorial Day services to honor those who gave the last full measure of devotion. Let’s be careful out there! Wilfred Dittmer, Quincy, Adams County: The gauge picked up .3 of an inch Wednesday plus .1 of an inch last Saturday (May 16) for a total of .4 of an inch for the week. I think most all planters have remained parked to let the season catch up with the calendar and hopefully escape the SDS problems many experienced last year. Corn is coming along, and one can even see an occasional field of beans up. A few are cutting hay and catching up on other jobs. Wheat looks good, but seems short. Have a good day and be careful. Life is so short and eternity so long. Tom Ritter, Blue Mound, Macon County: Rain last weekend (May 16-17) in northern Macon County totaled more than 2 inches. Southern Macon County had less than a tenth. Needless to say, we were able to get back in the fields. Some soybeans still being planted. We are probably within the last five percent of soybeans left to be planted. Corn is all planted with quite a bit of spraying of herbicides on corn. The cooler temperatures may have slowed some growth and emergence on soybeans, but overall, corn and soybeans seem to have good stands and decent color. We are off to a good start and hoping to enjoy a good Memorial Day weekend with or without rainfall.

Todd Easton, Charleston, Coles County: The predicted rains for last weekend (May 16-17) ended up going around us, allowing planters, sprayers and sidedress bars to have a very busy week in the fields. Planting is all but wrapped up in this area with the vast majority of fields emerged. A general summary of the corn maturity would be the V1 stage and soybeans split between the VE and VC stages. Cool weather has slowed development, and we can only hope that changes soon. More chances of showers late in the holiday weekend, along with warmer temperatures, would be just what the doctor ordered for the young crop. Jimmy Ayers, New City, Sangamon County: We had rain most of last weekend (May 1617). A small amount of fieldwork started Tuesday. We received another tenth and a half on Wednesday. By Thursday, the activities were side-dressing corn and spraying corn. Hay was being mowed and roadsides were being taken care of. Cold weather was the highlight of the week. On Wednesday, the record low in Springfield of 54 degrees was tied with a record that was set in 1892. Hope you enjoyed Memorial Day. Doug Uphoff, Shelbyville, Shelby County: THANK YOU VETERANS! Not much farming was done until the end of last week. Side-dressing NH3 and 28 percent and some planting took place. At least we do not have to worry about denitrification with cold temperatures. Jeez. Wet spots where we spring-applied NH3 don’t look so great. Spotty stands in wheel tracks are looking better. Ponded areas where we planted beans are suffering from poor emergence. We haven’t started out nearly as well as we did last year, that’s for sure. Be careful and have a safe week. David Schaal, St. Peter, Fayette County: It was an unseasonably cool week with a little fieldwork starting again. There has been a lot of post spraying of corn along with some side-dressing of nitrogen. For the most part, corn looks good. It has lost some of its color due to the cool temperatures. Some beans are up and look decent. Some have to be replanted and still several to plant for the first time. Hoping for warmer and drier weather for the upcoming week, but the forecast is not in our favor. Be safe. Jeff Guilander, Jerseyville, Jersey County: We got our first ditch maker rain of the season last weekend. Amounts were from .8 of an inch to almost 2 inches of rain in a half hour or less. That slowed a lot of planting progress and got the sprayers nervous as a lot of extra green is starting to show up in fields that don’t have a lot of residual herbicide on them. All in all, we are off to a pretty good start. Dan Meinhart, Montrose, Jasper County: Heavy rains moved through the area last weekend (May 16-17). No planting took place the last two weeks until Thursday when a few planters ventured out. Quite a bit of corn and beans need to be planted and replanted. Corn that was planted several days before the rains moved in has emerged and is looking good. Wheat is in the flowering stage and needs to be sprayed for head scab. The wheat looks good and should yield fairly well if the diseases can be held off. Rain is in the forecast for Saturday night (May 23) through Wednesday. Dave Hankammer, Millstadt, St. Clair County: The past week has been a cool one with daytime highs in the upper 60s and nighttime lows in the upper 40s. We accumulated .6 of an inch of rain over the week with small showers passing through the area almost on a daily basis. Fields remained wet due to poor drying conditions. Some planting occurred in fields of well-drained soils with light tillage. Wheat silage was made since the wheat plants had reached optimal stage for feed. Local grain bids are corn, $3.58; soybeans, $9.49; wheat $4.82. Have a safe week.

Page 7 • Monday, May 25, 2015 • FarmWeek Rick Corners, Centralia, Jefferson County: Cold nights and heavy rains don’t make for a very good stand of corn or beans. Duh! I have taken a couple of tours this week in different directions, and there sure are some pitiful stands of corn, and most of the beans that were planted are no-stands. Long way to a bumper crop, but who knows at this point in time. Wheat is all headed and looks pretty darn good. Oh yeah — I had 43 degrees Thursday morning. Blackberry winter, I suppose. Kevin Raber, Browns, Wabash County: Wet fields limited most field activities last week. There has been some spraying done, but very little planting. Wet soils, limited sunshine and cool temps have slowed emergence and growth. Damp and cool conditions have been hard on wheat as well. We will see how the wheat has adapted in a few weeks.

Dean Shields, Murphysboro, Jackson County: We had nothing last week but rain, rain, rain. Most of the corn and milo (grain sorghum) has been planted, but the soybean planting is behind. The wheat crop looks pretty good, but I heard that the dock is going to be high. Hope it dries out soon. Take care and have a safe planting season. Randy Anderson, Galatia, Saline County: As another week goes by, no bean planting on my farm, or as far as I know, the county either. Wet and cold is not too ideal for beans, but great for SDS this summer. Corn is barely holding its own. Same problem — needs some heat and dry feet. Was able to do some side-dressing on some rolling ground. Hay needs to be cut and roads mowed, but we might get stuck. Thank you to all the veterans out there that gave the ultimate sacrifice, so that we can remember them on Memorial Day.

Ken Taake, Ullin, Pulaski County: There was no fieldwork this week in deep southern Illinois. Actually, we haven’t been in the field since Friday (May 15), and we only had two days we were able to get in the field that week. Corn planting is finished or at least 95 percent done. Soybeans on the other hand are, I’m guessing, 30 percent complete in our area. We’ve only planted less than 100 acres of soybeans. Some plantings in the bottoms are starting to show the effects of all of the rain. If it doesn’t rain anymore, we might be able to get in the field Saturday (May 23), but more rain is in the forecast starting Sunday (May 24) and during the Memorial Day weekend. Please take time to be careful as we are in this busy planting season.

Farmers hustle to catch up, finish soybean planting

Reports received Friday morning. Expanded crop and weather information available at


The 99th running of the Indianapolis 500 wasn’t the only significant race on the schedule in recent days. A number of far mers made a charge to catch up and, in some cases, complete soybean planting last week before Mother Nature beat them to the finish line with another possible round of rain showers. “Sunday through Thursday (May 24-28) is going to be near normal temperatures (with highs in the 70s and 80s), but there’s going to be periodic showers and thunderstor ms (based on the forecast as of May 21),” said Charles Mott, meteorologist with the National Weather

Service office in Romeoville. With that forecast in mind, dust was flying late last

(94 percent complete) also wa s a h e a d o f t h e ave r a g e pace as of the first of last

week in many farm fields. Illinois farmers as of the first of last week planted 47 percent of the soybean crop, 11 percent ahead of average, and nearly all the corn (94 percent — 12 percent ahead of average). Planting of sorghum (26 percent complete) and oats

week. “About ever ybody’s g ot t h e i r c o r n i n ,” s a i d M i k e Kreke, a longtime farmer and Effingham County Far m Bureau member. “But (weather forecasters) are talking rain again Sunday, so e ve r y b o d y ’s t r y i n g t o g e t (beans) finished up before it

gets here.” The majority of the soybean crop was in the ground last week in the west, central and east central regions of the state. However, soybean planting last week was just 22 percent complete in the northeast, 31 percent in the southwest and 36 percent in the southeast. “Most of the corn and milo (grain sorghum) is planted,” said Dean Shields, a Far mWeek CropWatcher from Murphysboro (Jackson County), who endured wet conditions on his farm last week. “But the soybean planting is behind.” Precipitation from May 10-17 averaged 1.41 inches s t a t e w i d e, . 3 8 o f a n i n ch

showed that cr ude protein (CP) was around 25 percent in early May. CP content declines, as expected, as the forag e matures. However, measurements in 2013 and 2014 show levels could be in excess for approximately 20 days. Despite seeing no differences in cow body weight or body condition score either year of the trial, Meteer said

he saw a numerical increase of 22 percent in first ser vice conception rates in 2013. “In 2014, we saw a 14 percent increase. It is evident that cows that received the dry, low-protein supplement were more apt to breed early in the season, despite no differences in overall conception rates,” he said. In 2014, Meteer and his

team took blood samples from the cows to look at the blood urea nitrogen (BUN) levels. Cows that received only green grass tended to h ave e l e va t e d BU N l e ve l s after being turned out to pasture. Supplementing cows on lush spring pasture too high in protein may be necessary to avoid losses in performance.

Rotating cows rapidly through paddocks, only allowing them to consume the top one-third of the plant, can help, Meteer said. “Cows calving from midFebruary to mid-March will be the most likely to experience trouble re-breeding as the lush, spring pasture coincides with their breeding season,” Meteer noted.

Far mers and other residents in seven central Illinois counties may safely dispose of unwanted agrichemicals in late summer through an Illinois Department of Agric u l t u r e ( I D OA ) p r o g r a m , which rotates among counties. By July 15, participants must register the products they plan to bring. The counties include Calhoun, Cass, Greene, Jersey, Morgan, Pike and Scott counties. Those eligible to participate in the free dis-

posal program include farmers, retired farmers, nursery o w n e r s, p r i va t e p e s t i c i d e applicators, str uctural pest control applicators and landowners who inherited unwanted ag pesticides on their property. “The department is able to provide the ser vice free of charge thanks to a g rant obtained from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. If individuals were to properly dispose of agrichemicals on their own, the

cost would be expensive,” said Warren Goetsch, chief of the environmental programs bureau. He added the state, not individuals, will assume liability for proper disposal of all materials collected. Registration by par ticipants allows the waste disposal contractor to prepare to handle different kinds of materials. Registration for ms may be obtained by c a l l i n g I D OA’s p e s t i c i d e hotline at 800-641-3934 or

visiting the Cass-Morg an, C a l h o u n , G r e e n e , Je r s e y, Pike and Scott County Farm Bureaus. Completed for ms should be mailed or faxed to IDOA. Mail to: Clean Sweep Program, Illinois Department of Ag riculture, State Fairgrounds, P.O. Box 19281, Springfield, IL. 627949281. The fax number is 217524-4882.  Registered participants will receive a reservation card indicating the date, time and location of their

‘About everybody’s got their corn in.’ — Mike Kreke Effingham County farmer

above normal. There was an average of just 2.1 days suitable for fieldwork during that stretch, the National Agricultural Statistics Ser vice Illinois field office reported. While many far ms don’t n e e d m o r e r a i n , f o r n o w, far mers cer tainly welcome warmer temperatures. “We should be near the end of it (temperatures in the 40s), but we’ll see,” Mott said. “We had sleet yesterday ( May 2 0 i n n o r t h e a s t I l l i nois). Who expects that at the end of May?” Topsoil moisture the first of last week was rated 22 percent surplus, 75 percent adequate and just 3 percent short. Most areas short on topsoil moisture occupy the western region of the state.

Consider providing dry supplement to pastured cattle Spring pasture conditions appear lush with grasses and clover containing high protein levels. However, such factors can ultimately contribute to poorer performance and slower breed-back in some cases, according to a University of Illinois Extension beef educator. “Providing a dry, low-protein supplement that is palatable will help balance protein excess in the rumen and contribute to optimal performance,” said Travis Meteer. “After experiencing slower breed-up in the university herd and hearing many similar complaints from Illinois cattlemen who calve in late winter, we decided to investigate supplementing cows with a dry, low-protein mix to see if performance improved.” Pastures at the Or r Research Center contain endophyte-infected fescue, red clover, orchard grass and white clover. Meteer said that samples from the pastures

IDOA sets unused ag pesticide collection in central Illinois

Farm returns slip; more cash flow adjustments likely

FarmWeek • Page 8 • Monday, May 25, 2015


Farm returns are down so far this year, and it appears farmers may have to tighten their belts even more in 2016. USDA this month forecast crop prices for 2015-16 could fetch between $3.20 and $3.80 per bushel for corn and $8.25 to $9.75 per bushel for soybeans. “We’re going to be looking at much lower income,” said Gary Schnitkey, University of Illinois Extension farm management specialist. “I think that sets Gary Schnitkey up an interesting fall decision environment.” Lower crop prices, obviously, are a key factor behind expectations for less farm income. Many farmers last year sold some old-crop corn that still was valued well above $4 per bushel, while soybean prices were in double digits. Record crop yields in Illinois last year also insulated

farmers from the price declines. State yields last year averaged a record 200 bushels per acre for corn and 56 bushels for soybeans. A return to trend yields this year at current or lower prices would represent a large financial blow for many farmers to absorb. In fact, some farmers with stiff cash rent agreements likely will take a loss in the coming year. “Cash rents have to come down,” Schnitkey said. “And at these prices, the decline has to be large.” The average cash rental rate would have to decline between $60 and $70 per acre, compared to 2014, to limit the losses, according to Schnitkey. Another factor contributing to a drop in farm returns includes steady to higher prices for many key inputs such as seed, chemicals and fertilizer. “We saw farmers begin to make adjustments to cash flows in 2014,” Schnitkey said. “That will have to accelerate.” Farmers already responded to the financial situation by reducing machinery purchases,

noted demand for farm loans exceeded expectations in the first quarter as the stress of lower farm returns affected working capital. “Lower grain prices are finally changing the psychological mindset for producers,” an ag banker said in the Federal Bank survey. “Most produc-

ers are not able to lower operating expenses significantly and are looking at troublesome cash flow projections.” Schnitkey believes many farms still have financial reserves built up during the recent golden era and can ride out the return to more typical farm returns.

Avian flu forces Americans to shell out more for eggs

which ripples through the farm economy. “We saw farm capital purchases decline by one-third in 2014,” Schnitkey said. “That’s (down) from an all-time high level. But it still needs to come down more.” Farmland values also flattened or continued to fall after racing to record highs in recent years. Quality farmland values the first quarter this year declined 2.5 percent, according to the Federal Bank of St. Louis first quarter ag survey. In the survey, ag bankers


The outbreak of highly pathogenic avian influenza (HPAI) doesn’t represent a human health or food safety threat. But it now causes financial pain at the checkout counter. Egg prices in recent weeks posted significant gains in response to the outbreak of HPAI, or bird flu, according to Mike Doherty, Illinois Farm Bureau senior economist and policy analyst. Shell egg prices since mid-April increased 20 percent. Prices paid by warehouses in the Midwest during the same time increased 40 to 43 cents per dozen, USDA reported. “The primary price impact of the avian flu outbreak is on eggs,” Doherty noted. “Smaller price impacts are being felt on turkey and chicken meat.” About 38 million birds perished from HPAI or via culling measures to contain the virus since it first was reported in a backyard poultry flock in the northwest U.S. in December. Nearly 10 percent of egg-laying hens and 4 percent of the turkey flock was affected by the HPAI outbreak nationwide as of last week. HPAI as of last week was confirmed in 16 states, but not Illinois, with significant outbreaks in Iowa and Minnesota.

Ensure tractor operator safety via ROPS incentive program

If you’re an Illinois Farm Bureau member needing to retrofit your tractor with a Rollover Protection Structure (ROPS) and seat belt, consider applying for a cash incentive. Thanks to an IFB Quality of Life ACTION TEAM project, members can apply for an incentive of $500 per tractor per farm when they retrofit a tractor with a factory-built, dealer-installed ROPS and seat belt. Tractor rollovers continue to be the leading cause of agricultural fatalities. A ROPS represents the only proven device to protect a tractor operator in the event of a rollover. A ROPS proves 99 percent effective when used with a seat belt; the survival potential without a ROPS drops to 20 percent. Currently, only about 60 percent of farm tractors have a ROPS.

To qualify for the cash incentive, Farm Bureau members must use their tractor in production agriculture. They must also have the ROPS installed by an authorized dealer. The tractor must be one which did not originally contain a ROPS. Farm Bureau members can obtain a ROPS incentive application form from their county Farm Bureau. If approved by the IFB Program Department, a ROPS Certification Form will be mailed to the applicant. Then members can have a dealer install the ROPS and seat belt. After installation, members send the completed certification form and copies of paid receipts to the IFB Program Department. If you have questions, call 309-557-2007.

Lamb producers target growing ethnic markets to boost domestic lamb consumption, which has dropped for decades. The average American eats a half-pound of lamb per year, compared to 50 pounds of beef and 90 pounds of chicken. A majority of Americans eat no lamb, according to USDA’s Agricultural Marketing Research Center.

Lamb producers are focusing on the Muslim and Latino markets, and the American Lamb Board is offering to help retailers and producers market locally produced lamb to compete with Australian and New Zealand producers. Eventually, the organization plans to expand a pasture-toplate lamb campaign in Chicago and other cities with large Muslim populations.

Lamb producers focus on ethnic markets

Horse owners urged to take caution

Page 9 • Monday, May 25, 2015 • FarmWeek

An outbreak of equine herpesvirus, EHV-1, this month claimed the life of one horse in eastern Illinois. Horse owners, in response, Sheryl King should use caution, but not overreact to the common illness that rarely


becomes life-threatening for equine, according to Sheryl King, president of the Horsemen’s Council of Illinois. Two horses tested positive for EHV-1 and the virus quickly spread to other animals in the same boarding facility. One of the horses was humanely euthanized. “EHV-1 has been around a long time. Most (horses) get the virus at least once during their lifetime,� King said. “It’s the equivalent of the


common cold, most of the time,� she continued. “The problem we have is, in rare situations, (infected horses) can have complications that turn into paralysis.� The infected horses shared a stable at Gordyville USA near Gifford in Champaign County. Officials at Gordyville quickly quarantined the facility to equine for 21 days and canceled the Illinois Quarter Horse Association youth show and the National Barrel Horse Association Great Lakes Finals, according to the website {}. “This was a relatively new

outbreak (of the common EHV-1),� King said. “I’m worried people will equate this outbreak of EHV-1 with paralysis. Less than 1 percent of horses that get the virus get paralysis.� Vaccines are available to protect horses that contract EHV-1 from suffering with respiratory symptoms or lost pregnancies. However, the vaccine doesn’t protect horses from the neurological problems associated with EHV-1. “I still recommend the vaccination,� said King, retired director of the Southern Illinois University Equine Sci-

ence Program. “It may limit the spread of the disease.� King recommends horse owners monitor reports and the spread of EHV-1 around the state. But she doesn’t foresee a major impact to future horse shows due to the virus. “Be cautious. If there’s an (EHV-1) outbreak in your area, you probably should restrict the movement of horses and, if it gets in your barn, it should be quarantined for three weeks,� King added. “But to cease all (horse-related) activity around the state would be an overreaction.�

Chicago’s Brookfield Zoo will host a second season of Summer Nights this year — even larger than the last. The summertime event helps visitors see the popular zoo from a different perspective, when it’s cooler and less crowded, said Ken Grzeslo, manager of events. Activities include live entertainment, food, beer and wine gardens, and laser light shows. Summer Nights will be held on Friday and Saturday nights from June 5 to Aug. 8. Activities begin at 4 p.m. and end at 9 p.m. with a laser light show, Grzeslo said. Illinois Farm Bureau spon-

sors Summer Nights along with Meijer. IFB’s $40,000-plus sponsorship originated from the Food for Thought Group, which consists of more than 15 county Farm Bureaus. “Brookfield Zoo provides the ideal venue for Farm Bureau to reach our consumer target audience of women ages 18 to 49 with children,� said Sabrina Burkiewicz, IFB promotion manager. “The zoo has the same target demographic, so it allows us to work together to effectively deliver our messages to consumers. The zoo is supportive of farmers and agriculture in Illinois, too, so it’s a win-win situation for everybody involved.�

A Farm Bureau tent will be displayed each night and feature a barn scene, tractor peek boards and a trivia spin wheel. Children will receive an “I met a farmer today� sticker. Farm Bureau staff, members and volunteers plan to be on hand during at least 15 of the 20 events. About 3,000 children are expected each night. A series of signs with a message about the food Illinois farmers produce also will be displayed around the zoo. Based on the success of last year’s event, zoo officials expanded the program from 12 nights to 20.

IFB sponsors second season of Brookfield Zoo’s ‘Summer Nights’ BY DEANA STROISCH

Stark County Farm Bureau member Frank Shafer of Wyoming explains the life cycle of a corn plant to “adopted� second graders from St. Vincent de Paul Catholic Grade School in Peoria. Shafer also discussed the difference between grasses and broadleaf plants during the students’ recent visit. Thirty-one second graders, two teachers and six parent chaperones also visited Doug Murray’s dairy farm near Toulon. He shared how milk travels from his farm to their tables. The recent visit marks the second for the students. They visited during the fall to observe harvest and visit a hog farm. (Photo by Katie Bowles, Stark County Farm Bureau manager)

Survey shows women in ag seek leadership skills

Communicating effectively, establishing and achieving goals, and strategic planning ranked highest on a list of important leadership skills for women in agriculture to master, according to a new American Farm Bureau Federation (AFBF) survey. Nearly 2,000 women completed the informal online survey, which was conducted to determine the goals, aspirations, achievements and needs of women in American agriculture today. Most women surveyed said they are comfortable advocating about agriculture, and most believe they have the necessary skills and knowledge to be successful. Those surveyed said they prefer social media as an avenue of advocating about agriculture. Nearly three-quarters of those surveyed own or share ownership of a farm or

ranch. One-third of women surveyed have not yet started a business, but indicated they would like to do so in the future. Respondents cited obtaining financial support, business plan development and prioritizing/finding time to accomplish tasks as their most common business challenges. “The survey results point to a need for a deeper dive into what leadership traits women in agriculture are interested in learning about in order to achieve their goals,� said Sherry Saylor, an Arizona row crop farmer and chair of the AFBF Women’s Leadership Committee. The committee sponsored the survey. Farm Bureau membership was not a requirement for participating in the survey. Women from all 50 states and Puerto Rico responded.

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Tirey named IPPA executive director FarmWeek • Page 10 • Monday, May 25, 2015

Jennifer Tirey has been named executive director of the Illinois Pork Producers Association (IPPA) effective July 1. Tirey currently serves as executive director for Jennifer Tirey the Illinois Council on Best Management Practices, a post she’s held since October 2014. Tim Maiers will remain interim IPPA executive director. Jim Kaitschuk, immediate past IPPA executive director, now serves as Gov. Bruce Rauner’s legislative director. “The committee was very impressed with her enthusiasm and the skills that she brings to the position,� said Curt Zehr of Washington, IPPA president. “Jennifer has worked in agriculture, legislative advocacy and has strengths in communications, promotion and education.� A Southern Illinois native, Tirey still shares ownership in her family’s farm in Gallatin and Hardin counties. She attended Eastern Illinois University and graduated with honors with a bachelor’s

degree in political science in 1998. Upon graduation, she began working for Michael J. Madigan, Illinois House speaker, as part of the issue development staff. In 2003, Tirey became director of Legislative Affairs at Central Management Services, and in 2005, she became deputy director of the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum. In 2011, Tirey became bureau chief of marketing, promotions and grants at the Illinois Department of Agriculture where she promoted small to mid-sized Illinois food and agribusinesses. Tirey resides in Springfield with her husband, Kevin and two children, Flynn and Katharine. “I am honored to be selected as the next executive director of the Illinois Pork Producers Association,� said Tirey. “The members of this organization have a true passion for what they do. For producers, it is a 365-day operation that requires dedication and hard work. In my role, I intend to continue working with our stakeholders and educating consumers about the importance and value of the pork industry.�


Above, Woodford County Farm Bureau member Sean Arians shows Illinois Farm Families City Moms Autumn Perrault of Mount Prospect and Maggie Nodland of Deerfield how planters regulate seed flow. Arians, a Precision Planting marketing manager, helped host the moms during their recent spring planting tour. Below, Nick Saathoff of Manteno tells City Moms about the importance of field crop residue. The tour was the fourth this year for the moms. (Photos by Cyndi Cook)

Listen To “RFD Livestock Report� RFD Radio Network’sŽ Rita Frazer hosts the daily “RFD Livestock Report� on these radio stations across Illinois. Tune in: Station


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Rita Frazer - Director of Network and Audio Services for the RFD Radio NetworkÂŽ (RFDRN) and

The livestock industry in Illinois creates: ‡ELOOLRQD\HDULQUHYHQXH ‡PLOOLRQLQWD[UHYHQXH ‡MREV

Follow us on Twitter: @FarmWeekNow UIG7

Ag job future continues to look bright Page 11 • Monday, May 25, 2015 • FarmWeek


Above, Springfield fourth graders, from left, Dreon Dea, Amaryon Dunn and Charlie Eastvold pet a curious calf during Sangamon County Farm Bureau’s recent, weeklong AgVenture Barn program. Members presented the barn to more than 1,800 prekindergarten to sixth-grade students at nine, urban Springfield elementary schools. Below, first graders Trevian Blakely and Raleigh Brock, from left, meet a rabbit held by county Farm Bureau volunteer Julie Morrison. The barn housed two rabbits, a goat, a dairy calf, two piglets and two chickens. (Photos by Jenny Webb, Sangamon County Farm Bureau assistant manager)

USDA to provide $11 million in organic certification assistance USDA’s Agricultural Marketing Service announced recently about $11 million in organic certification assistance available through state departments of agriculture to defray costs of organic certification. “The organic industry saw record growth in 2014, accounting for over $39 billion in retail sales in the United States,” said Ag Secretary Tom Vilsack. Through the National Organic Certification Cost Share Program, USDA will make $11 million available to organic farms and businesses nationwide. Funded by the 2014 farm

Tuesday: • FarmWeek: “The Early Word” • Bud Wright, American Association of State Hightway and Transportation: Federal Highway Trust Fund • Roger Fluegel, California farmer: drought, farming in Golden State • Jim Angel, Illinois State Water Survey Wednesday: • Colleen Callahan, USDA Rural Development: Home Ownership Month • Cyndi Cook, Illinois Farm

bill, the program provides cost-share assistance to USDA certified organic farmers, covering as much as 75 percent of an individual applicant’s certification costs up to $750 annually per certification scope. In 2014, USDA issued nearly 10,000 reimbursements totaling more than $6 million. Illinois certified organic farmers should contact Jeff Squibb, Illinois Department of Agriculture Bureau of Market ing and Promotions, 801 E. Sangamon Ave., Springfield, IL, 62702. The telephone number is 217524-9129 and fax number is 217-524-5960.

Bureau photographic services manager: 2015 Member Photo Contest • Steve Wentworth, IAA Foundation: upcoming event Thursday: • Harry Sawyer, Illinois Department of Veterans’ Affairs: Homegrown By Heroes and Stand Up and Be Counted • Harry Cooney, GROWMARK: energy report • Maggie Nodland, Illinois Farm Families: first experiences on a farm Friday: • Bill Davison, University of Illinois Extension: edible forest • Lee Strom, FARM Illinois: what it is/next steps • Wade Meteer, Syngenta: 2015 growing season challenges

An estimated 57,900 highly skilled job openings occur every year in food, agriculture, renewable natural resources and environmental fields. With an average of 35,400 new U.S. graduates with a bachelor’s degree or higher in ag-related fields annually, that leaves 22,500 jobs unfilled. A recent study by Purdue University and USDA’s National Institute of Food and Agriculture shows strong opportunities for college ag graduates. “Not only will those who study agriculture be likely to get well-paying jobs upon graduation, they will also have the satisfaction of working in a field

that addresses some of the world’s most pressing challenges,” said Tom Vilsack, U.S. agriculture secretary. “These jobs will only become more important as we continue to develop solutions to feed more than 9 billion people by 2050.” The report projects almost half of the job opportunities will be in management and business. Another 27 percent will be in science, technology, engineering and math. Jobs in food and biomaterials production will make up 15 percent, and 12 percent of the openings will be in education, communication and governmental services. The report further noted

that women make up more than half of the food, agriculture, renewable natural resources and environment higher education graduates. Other findings showed even as enrollments in these programs increase and the job market becomes somewhat more competitive, good employment opportunities can be expected for the next five years. Expect to see a strong employment market for e-commerce managers and marketing agents, ecosystem managers, agricultural science and business educators, crop advisers and pest control specialists.

All types of renewable energy, plus related policy, technology and case studies, will abound at the Illinois Renewable Energy Conference July 16 at Illinois State University (ISU), Normal. Participants should register by June 1. “This conference is a onestop shop for information about proposals for seasoned professionals as well as a full introduction for beginners,”

said David Loomis, director of Center for Renewable Energy and ISU’s Energy Learning Exchange and Institute for Regulatory Policy Studies. Plenary session speakers include representatives of the Environmental Law and Policy Center and the Illinois Power Agency. Sessions offer topics of interest to landowners, county and municipal officials, school administrators and board members, county board

members and zoning officials. A registration fee of $50 applies until June 1 when the fee increases to $70. After July 1, the fee increases to $90. Registration includes a continental breakfast and lunch. For more information or to register online, visit {Renew}. For questions, email Renewable or call 309438-7919.

Conference highlights renewable energy

There’s a difference between field experts and experts in the field. At FS, we’re experts in the field. Our crop specialists are driven to maximize every acre and bring the latest agronomic technologies and innovations to your farm. Whether recommending the appropriate for optimum opriate hybrid or varietyy,, nutrient management m growth, or advice on disease and pest management, our crop specialists are always focused on pointing your operations forward. So, the only thing you’ll be asking FS is, what’’s next?



©2013 GROWMARK, Inc. A14141

FarmWeek • Page 12 • Monday, May 25, 2015

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Page 13 • Monday, May 25, 2015 • FarmWeek


OOK — Rescheduled Food and Farm webinar on Hops, 7 p.m. June 15 at the Farm Bureau building. To register and learn more about the forums, visit buy-local/programs, email membershipdebbie@cookcfb. org or call 708-354-3276. ANCOCK — Young Leader Farm Bureau Find Out event, 6:30 p.m. Thursday at the Farm Bureau office. Area graduating high school seniors and those ages 18 to 35 are invited to attend. Upcoming Young Leader summer events will be discussed. Call 357-3141 by Thursday for reservations. ENRY — Ag in the Classroom (AITC) golf outing, 8 a.m. June 12 at Baker Park Golf Course, Kewanee. Call 937-2411 to register. • “Farmland” movie showing, 2 p.m. June 14 at Geneseo Central Theater. A farmer panel discussion will follow the movie. Email henrycfb@ for reservations. EE — Foundation red/green challenge, 4:30 p.m. June 13 at the Elks Lodge, Dixon during the Lee County Farm Bureau Centennial Celebration. Vote for your favorite equipment color with a monetary donation. Donations will also be accepted at the Farm Bureau office or by mail to Lee County Farm Bureau, P.O. Box 198, Amboy, IL 61310. Proceeds will benefit Lee County ag education programs. • AITC golf outing, 9 a.m. June 26 at Chapel Hill Golf Course in Princeton. Proceeds will benefit Bureau and Lee County AITC programs. Call 815-875-6468 for reservations by June 5. • Irrigation growers’ meeting, 1 p.m. June 8 at Arnie’s Happy Spot, Deer Grove. Lauren Lurkins, Illinois Farm Bureau director of natural and environmental resources, will speak. Call 857-3531 by June 4 to register. ASSAC — Local agricultural irrigators’ meeting, 8 a.m. June 2 at Shawnee Community College Campus River Room, Ullin. Lauren Lurkins, IFB director of natural and environmental resources, will speak. Call 5245811 for reservations by Friday. ULASKI-ALEXANDER — Local agricultural irrigators’ meeting, 8 a.m. June 2 at Shawnee Community College Campus River Room, Ullin. Lauren Lurkins, IFB director of natural and environmental resources, will speak. Call 618-524-5811 for reservations by Friday. ANGAMON — Fair Oaks Farm bus trip, 7


a.m. to 7 p.m. June 6 in Fair Oaks, Ind. Cost is $35 for members and $45 for nonmembers. Email jwebb@ or call 7535200 for reservations by June 1. • Ladies’ bus trip to St. Charles, Mo., 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. June 10. Cost is $25 for members and $35 for nonmembers. Email or call 753-5200 for reservations and more information by June 3. HITESIDE — Irrigation growers’ meeting, 1 p.m. June 8 at Arnie’s Happy Spot, Deer Grove. Lauren Lurkins, IFB director of natural and environmental resources, will speak. Email or call 772-2165 by June 4 to register or for more information.



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FarmWeek • Page 14 • Monday, May 25, 2015

Forget planting season — it’s propane summer building season

Spring is the notorious kickoff for a very busy planting season. We start to worry about moisture, putting on fertilizer, spraying fields, and getting seed out of the bag and into the ground. The days are longer, the Kyle Fecht weather is nicer and everybody seems to perk up. Spring also marks the ceremonial closing of the prime propane season. We tend to not think or worry about propane until the fall when it starts to get cool again, but as we close the books on the 2014-15 propane heating season, the propane industry starts its summer build season. This year is very different from years past. Last summer, the U.S. propane inventory levels started under the five-year average at 26.6 million barrels, peaking in October at 81.6 million barrels. This year, we came out of the winter season at 53.7 milBY KYLE FECHT

lion barrels, almost 21 million barrels over the five-year average. If we assume the average build during the next six months, we could see U.S. inventory climb near 100 million barrels, well over the five-year average of 70 million and the all-time high of 81.6 million barrels. So, what is our storage capacity and what can greatly affect these builds over the next six months? The total U.S. storage capacity is truly unknown as many natural gas liquid (NGL) producers and end users have added storage during the last few years. Many estimates come in at the mid to upper 95 million barrel mark. As we look at what can affect these builds during the next six months, three things stand out: • petrochemical demand, • export capacity and profitability, and • NGL production. Petrochemical demand is below its five-year average as other feed stocks are relatively cheap, but we could see a shift in this as the summer continues. Export capacity continues to increase with additional projects

being added at new and old loading locations. As the dollar falls from its previous highs in April, the profitability of exporting additional gallons increases, new projects remain on schedule and export capacity remains maxed

out. The third variable continues to be the production of NGLs in the U.S. A long-term decline in U.S. energy prices could curb U.S. produced crude and NGLs. This could slow builds as the summer carries on. We will continue to

watch the weekly builds as we plan for the next propane season.

Kyle Fecht serves as GROWMARK’s propane supply manager. His email address is kfecht@grow

Beef demand, cattle prices stay strong BY DANIEL GRANT FarmWeek

It appears beef demand and cattle prices could remain strong through this year despite increased competition from other meat sectors. Rich Nelson, director of research at Allendale Inc. in McHenry, projects cash cattle prices could dip to a summer low around $149 to $150 per hundredweight before a rebound this fall to the $155 to $160 range. Last week’s cash cattle price was 10 percent higher than at the same time last year as beef production was about 2 percent less than a year ago. “Beef prices are holding up extremely well considering the size of meat production this year,” Nelson told FarmWeek. “Also, with slack growth in GDP (gross domestic product) and employment, beef demand remains much stronger than anticipated.” U.S. meat production this year could increase 5 percent for pork as producers expand the herd and 3 percent for chicken. Additional poultry meat also could wind up on the domestic market due to avian-influenzarelated export restrictions. Cattle numbers, on the other hand, remain bullish for prices despite a slow transition to expansion. USDA last week, in its

monthly cattle on feed report, pegged the inventory of cattle and calves at 10.64 million head, up 1 percent, as of May 1. However, April placements totaled just 1.55 million head, down 5 percent from a year ago and about 4 percent below trade expectations. April marketings totaled 1.64 million head, down 8 percent from last year. “There was a clear issue with placements (compared to pre-report expectations),” Nelson said. “That’s good news.” The trend of placing cattle in feedlots at heavier weights continued last month (see graphic) as the 800-plus pound category increased 7 percent.

Corn Strategy

Big funds, big shorts

There has been a lot of talk the last couple of months about the size of hedge fund short positions in the three primary grain futures. In aggregate, they have been consistently adding to short positions since early March, going from a net–flat position to their present 1.4 billion bushel short position in futures and options. Soybeans became the first grain they moved to a short position the third week in January, but the persistent price volatility kept them from building a short position until after the middle of March. They first became short on wheat (Chicago and Kansas City futures) the first of February, consistently building it to the present size of 597 million bushels. But that shouldn’t be a big surprise with wheat being characteristically one of the “trendiest” of the markets. They spent much of the fall and winter working off a long corn position, but like soybeans, turned consistently net short later in early April for corn. Currently, the wheat and corn shorts are about equal, each holding 42 percent of the current short position. The remaining 16

percent is held in soybeans. You might be surprised they held a larger short soybean position in mid-April than they do today. The sideways-to-higher action into May had forced them out of part of their shorts. We’d assume it may now be near the 400 million bushel position they held in mid-April given weakness since the last Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC) report based on May 12. Much has been made about the aggregate position, and some individual grain positions, held by the hedge funds being record large. But you need to understand the history the industry is looking at is relatively modern, only dating back to 2006. That’s because the CFTC made changes in its reports at that time to better illustrate the details of the new players in the business. And since, markets have been more bullish than bearish, hence the absence of a big short until now. Relative to crop size, the short wheat position is the largest. And there’s a lesson to take from that. When conditions do change, even the possibility of a change, prices can rally quickly and significantly as hedge funds are chased out of short positions. Given that, the recent rally in wheat should not be ignored because the first thing that typically happens when there’s a major turn is that shorts are chased out of their positions.

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ü2014 crop: Prices are set up to complete the downside correction that started in late December. The final low shouldn’t be much lower than the current $3.56 low on July futures. Once complete, the market should be positioned for an extended period of stronger prices. Other than locking in basis, we are not interested in pricing corn. ü2015 crop: Given the larger cyclic parameters, the longterm outlook continues to look constructive. Hold off making sales. vFundamentals: During the last week, the market has mostly followed the lead of wheat prices with the big, newcrop expectations limiting corn’s ability to rally. The strengthening El Nino in the Pacific Ocean has only reinforced ideas yields could be high again this year. Talk about large South American corn crops, especially Brazil’s second crop, is adding to the influences keeping a lid on prices. Amid this, export sales remain reasonably good, implying buyers see current prices offering good value.

Page 15 • Monday, May 25, 2015 • FarmWeek Cents per bu.

Soybean Strategy

ü2014 crop: Prices continue to slip lower, but demand under the market continues to absorb most of the selling pressure. Meanwhile, from a technical perspective, both time and pattern indicate an important low could come at any time. At the moment, the best strategy is to lock up the basis, but keep the futures component of pricing open. ü2015 crop: Even though the short-term trend remains down, the market has to “work” to get to lower levels. Larger technical features imply better marketing opportunities should come this summer. vFundamentals: The most negative aspect of the fundamentals in the complex is tied to supply, specifically the supply that could be coming during the next year. And that supply is the most uncertain. There’s little certainty regarding acreage and yield for the major producers. Meanwhile, demand for soybeans and products remains robust. The biodiesel sector may have the most uncertainty, but rumors

indicate new RFS standards will be supportive.

Wheat Strategy

ü2014 crop: Use current strength to wrap up needed sales. ü2015 crop: We prefer to store new crop for an expected mid to late summer rally if you have on-farm storage. But if you have to price wheat at harvest, use the current rally to make sales using conservative yield/production expectations. vFundamentals: Weather concerns have continued to keep wheat prices strong with hard wheat prices leading the

way higher. Heavy rains have hurt a part of the Southern Plains crop with more rain still in the forecast. While the ultimate impact of the rain is an unknown, it has been enough to cause hedge funds to liquidate part of their big, short position. In addition, the latest forecasts indicate the weather is going to turn warm and dry in the main Russian wheat areas. No one is sure whether it will be a lasting change, but at these prices no one is willing to bet against it. And El Nino talk is casting a cloud of uncertainty over the potential for Australia’s coming crop.

FarmWeek • Page 16 • Monday, May 25, 2015

Bee-havior: Swarms hanging around

If I were asked to create a “Top 10” list of truly amazing things that insects do, I would have to include the swarming behavior of honeybees on that list. As a beekeeper, I must admit that I am a bit biased in my attitude toward honeybees. Several TOM aspects of honTURPIN eybee biology might qualify for my Top 10 list. One is that the industrious bees process nectar into honey that is stored as a food resource for winter months. Honeybees are also pollinators, an ecological partnership with plants that results in seed set and fruit production. Then face plenty of threats, but as the Competitive there is the honeybee dance. Bees Enterprise Institute argues in a new report, “Pestiuse this dance, cides are the least among these factors and neonisometimes cotinoids the least among those, if they have any called a waggle impact at all.” dance, to comSo, what’s behind the fuss? Radical environmen- municate the talists stir up much of it as a front in their unrelent- direction and distance of ing war on modern agriculture. Embedded in their concern is an irony: Honeybees aren’t even native to flowers to othNorth America. They were imported from Europe er bees. The product centuries ago as agricultural commodities to assist of honey, plant with pollination. In another context, the activists pollination might label them an “invasive species” and call for services and the their eradication. communication What they fail to understand is that if farmers lose the neonic option, they’re going to have to turn technique of dancing each to other methods of pest control, including sprays would merit inclusion on my list of that may pose greater risks to honeybees. amazing things that insects do. But This is known as the law of unintended consethere is another aspect of honeyquences — and we must always be sensitive to it, bee biology that I consider equally especially when we’re thinking about the environamazing –— the process of proment. ducing a new colony from an Neonics became established colony. popular the 1990s in part because they’re less Administration releases When this happens, people who witness toxic to honeybees than national pollinator plan the process are The federal government will insecticides. They also increase research and preserve 7 amazed, a bit wary make economic and or scared to death. million acres of habitat for bees, environmental sense. Honeybees monarch butterflies and other Applying neonics to swarm to establish a seeds early in the grow- insects in a new strategy to new colony. Such increase the nation’s pollinators, ing season means farmswarming should according to a White House strateers need fewer crop pronot be confused gy released last week. tection sprays later on. with the use of the Long anticipated, the national Neonics are an excellent strategy stems from a White House term to describe a illustration of the old task force that wants to reduce large, dense group adage that an ounce of annual bee losses to 15 percent of ants, bees or prevention is worth a compared to 40 percent last year. mosquitoes in pound of cure. Public-private partnerships, flight. To be sure, Good farmers know education and research comprise honeybee swarming that they can’t rely too main components. However, sever- sometimes involves heavily on any single al agencies are directed to take a lot of bees flying method of crop protec- steps, such as managing federal around with the tion. Neonics and other land to promote pollinator habitats. accompanying products must be parts USDA is expected to use the Con- buzzing sound. No servation Reserve Program and of a larger strategy to other social insects other programs to support and fend off pests and start a new colony expand summer forage areas, weeds. in this way. The best approach is according to the plan. Most social The U.S. Environmental Protecto let neonics remain an insects, including option for farmers who tion Agency continues to measure bumblebees, wasps, strive for economic and pesticides’ effects on honeybees termites and ants, environmental sustain- and has slowed the use of neonidepend on mated cotinoids. ability, and not to react queens to start a with haste or emotion as new colony. To get this done, an we work to grow as much food on as little land as established colony will produce possible. females and males that go on mating flights. Dan Kelley grows corn and soybeans on a family farm near A newly mated queen will then Normal and volunteers as a board member for Truth seek a suitable location and About Trade and Technology . attempt to start a colony. The new

Ounce of prevention won’t help honeybees

Nobody wants to hurt honeybees. Not only are they an important part of the environment, but as pollinators, they’re also essential to agriculture. I’ve heard that honeybees contribute to one out of every three bites of food that Americans take. As a farmer, I am constantly looking for the right tools to protect the crops I grow, the environment and bees. That’s why I was disappointed to read a recent warning from the Environmental Protection Agency that federal regulators probably won’t approve new varieties of a popular and important insecticide. The agency said it wants more time to gather data on how treatments of neonicotinoids, commonly known as neonics, affect honeybees. DAN A few days later, Lowe’s, the KELLEY chain of home improvement stores, said it would stop selling products that contain neonics. I use neonics on my farm in Illinois. They help me grow healthy soybean plants. Many other farmers rely on neonics for canola and corn. I strongly support responsible research into the effects of neonics and other products — but also urge caution. We should let science drive our regulatory decisions rather than politics, propaganda or fear. Despite the widespread use of neonics, honeybees are flourishing. The United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization counts nearly 81 million honeybee colonies around the world today. That’s up from less than 50 million in 1961 — an improvement of more than 60 percent. Yet the media has peddled alarming stories of a “beepocalypse” — a crash in honeybee populations. The truth is that although the number of beehives in the United States has fallen since the 1970s, they’ve held steady during the last generation. There are about as many beehives today as there were in 1995. In other words, during the period in which neonics became mainstream crop protection products on U.S. farms, the overall bee population has remained stable. During the last few years, in fact, it has ticked upward. Lots of factors affect honeybee populations, from the harshness of winters to diseases and parasites, such as the varroa mite that feast on bee larvae. Scientists also have investigated a mysterious phenomenon called colony collapse disorder, in which worker bees vanish and leave behind a queen and an empty hive. Its causes are poorly understood, though some research indicates that the mites may be to blame. Historical data suggest that honeybee populations suffered similar pressures in the 1880s, 1920s and the 1960s. They’ve always bounced back. Do neonics play a part in current trends? The best evidence suggests that they do not. Honeybees

queen produces a few eggs and feeds the newly hatched larvae herself. When the first workers emerge, they take over the job of rearing their siblings. So, how does honeybee swarming work? First, the colony will begin the process by producing new queens. Bee larvae destined to become queens get a queen cell in the comb and are fed a special diet. The queens-tobe eat only the appropriately named food called royal jelly that is produced in the mandibular glands of worker bees. Once a new queen emerges in a honeybee colony, she has a macabre task in front of her. The pretender to the throne will have to seek out and kill other developing queens before they emerge from their cells. Once the new queen has reduced the competition for a change of leadership of the colony, she has to go on a nuptial flight. It’s out of the hive on the wing to seek out what are called drone zones, locations where the male honeybee drones congregate for the opportunity to mate with a queen. Following a successful mating flight, the queen returns to her hive. A newly mated queen back in the hive is the signal for the resident worker bees to begin preparations for swarming. First, they reduce feeding the old queen so that she loses weight and will be able to fly when it is time for her to do so. Some of the worker bees that have been collecting nectar or pollen begin flying from the hive to seek possible locations for a new home. When the weather is suitable for bees to fly and the new queen has assumed her duties of egg laying, the older bees in the hive rather unceremoniously force the old queen to join them in a swarming flight. The bees signal this flight by buzzing around in the vicinity of the hive until the old queen emerges and is escorted to the location of the new hive. If a location has not been established prior to leaving the old hive, the swarm lands and forms a cluster of bees with the queen at the center. Bees in such a cluster do not sting and do not pose a hazard to anyone in the vicinity. But a group of 10,000 or so honeybees in a cluster does attract attention. Most people assume that those bees will sting even if they are just hanging around looking for a place to call home. Tom Turpin serves as an entomology professor at Purdue University, West Lafayette, Ind.

Farmweek may 25, 2015  

farming, agriculture, Illinois Farm Bureau

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