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DELEGATE DEBATE, speakers, and numerous mini-seminars await those who attend the Illinois Farm Bureau annual meeting Dec. 4-7. ..................................2

THIS E15 LABEL has been offered by Illinois Farm Bureau as an alternative to the Federal Trade Commission’s much more inflammatory “CAUTION” label. ...........3

DAIRY CONSUMPTION is increasing, in part because of promotional efforts funded by the dairy checkoff established about 25 years ago. .........................................4

Monday, November 22, 2010

Two sections Volume 38, No. 47

Shimkus: Lame duck tax relief is crucial BY MARTIN ROSS FarmWeek

Periodicals: Time Valued

It’s a “weird time” in Congress, U.S. Rep. John Shimkus notes, as lawmakers move into lame duck debate, a flock of freshmen move onto the Hill, and Shimkus and others race to move “death tax” and related reforms. With Bush-era tax relief measures nearing Dec. 31 expiration, Farm Bureau is urging Congress to consider a $5 million per-person estate tax exemption and a 35 percent tax rate. On Jan. 1, the tax will return at a pre-2002 $1 million exemption and a 55 percent rate, unless lawmakers intervene. In a letter to Congress last week, 39 groups led by the American Family Business Institute and Americans for Tax Reform recommended extending the current one-year repeal of the estate tax as part of efforts to head off January tax increases. President Obama has indicated he would be open to tax break extensions even for those in the $250,000-plus income class he previously targeted. But although Senate Majority Whip Dick Durbin said he “preferred it be resolved this year,” the Springfield Democrat questions whether bipartisan compromise

can be reached during the lame duck session. Shimkus, a Collinsville Republican, supports a one- to

FarmWeekNow.com Listen to comments from U.S. Rep. John Shimkus on estate taxes at FarmWeekNow.com.

two-year extension of the Bush-era tax measures, with the estate tax left dormant in the interim. In an RFD Radio/FarmWeek interview, he stressed a timely tax compromise is key to rural farm families and businesses. “Extension of the Bush tax cuts is more than just an income tax rate reduction,” Shimkus said. “It’s the ‘death tax,’ it’s capital gains, it’s dividends, it’s the child tax credit, it’s the marriage penalty (reduction). “The only thing that’s newsworthy, unfortunately, is the $250,000-and-above rate. That

‘higher-income’ rate is the business rate for a lot of these small businesses.” He argued farmers and businesses across his district are “angry as heck” at the prospect of a returning estate tax, particularly at a $1 million threshold. In Shimkus’ view, estate tax liability amounts to “triple taxation,” along with income and capital gains tax exposure: “How many times are you going to tax the same revenue stream?” Shimkus also opposes capital gains taxation “period,” but is uncertain whether colleagues have the will to adjust capital gains rates. He does anticipate hearty 2011 debate over strategies for “getting our fiscal house in order” and dealing with an estimated $13.5 trillion debt. “Maybe this is the time to talk about a fairer, flatter, simpler (federal) tax code,” Shimkus suggested.

U of I Extension moving forward with reorganization Ag programs in transition BY KAY SHIPMAN FarmWeek

Farmers still may call University of Illinois Extension educators with questions, but they’ll find the reorganized Extension operates differently, Bob Hoeft, the U of I’s interim associate dean for Extension and outreach, told the Illinois Farm Bureau board Friday. “This is a change — no doubt about it Bob Hoeft — but I’m convinced from a commercial ag (standpoint) this system will work better,” Hoeft said. He gave board members an update on the reorganization and

answered questions about the changes. Several questions were raised about the relocation of Extension crop and livestock educators to six U of I research stations and how the information network will work. Hoeft used an example of a farmer with an unidentified crop problem as an illustration. “If something is out there you can’t identify, we will ask you to call in, describe the symptoms and what is happening out there, and to get a digital photo (of the problem). If we can’t identify it that way, then we will make sure we get someone (to the field) to identify it,” Hoeft explained to the board. However, more Extension information will be dispensed on a regional or statewide basis, Hoeft said in a prepared statement. Technology is pro-

FarmWeek on the web: FarmWeekNow.com

viding Extension more options to distribute information through blogs, online courses, and the U of I’s distance-diagnostics system, he added. Hoeft in his prepared remarks said reasons for the changes were today’s farmers are better educated and seek information online and from other universities, and more certified crop advisers and consultants are making farm visits. Given the budget cuts in Illinois and other states, “it no longer makes sense for every university (in the land-grant system) to hire full-time faculty or educators in every subspecialty,” Hoeft said. Extension crop and livestock educators also will conduct their own applied research projects at the research centers, Hoeft told board members. “One quarter to half of their time will be (spent) on

applied research,” he said. As of last week, Extension had not determined the main office location within four of 26 multi-county groups, Hoeft said. The U of I will not release the locations until decisions statewide are finalized, he added. The IFB board raised concerns about the filling of open positions in multi-county groups and local funding for the Extension groups. Hoeft reported 24 county See Extension, page 2

No FarmWeek next week There will be no FarmWeek published next week. FarmWeek is published 50 times a year, with no issues on the Mondays following Thanksgiving and Christmas. The next issue you receive will be dated Dec. 6.

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


FarmWeek Page 2 Monday, November 22, 2010

ANNUAL MEETING

Quick Takes MEETING PROGRAM FOR SMARTPHONES — A web-based application for smartphones has been developed by Illinois Farm Bureau staff to help annual meeting attendees get around St. Louis. The application, available for iPhone, Android, and Blackberry phones, allows members to check out the annual meeting daily agenda, provides maps of the meeting rooms at the Renaissance Grand Hotel, and shows a list of local restaurants. The application can be accessed from the site {http://ilfb.org/meeting/}. MEAT RATING SY STEM UNVEILED — Whole Foods Market recently unveiled a new rating system for the meat sold at its stores based on animal welfare practices. The color-coded labeling system, which is being piloted in the southern U.S. and scheduled for national expansion next year, uses a six-step approach to establish baseline standards for all meat sold in participating stores. Meat with the highest ratings will be awarded to products in which the animals were born, raised, and slaughtered on the same farm and lived year-round on pasture. Lower ratings will be attached to meat produced on farms that use confinement housing and antibiotics. Examples of the type of animal husbandry necessary to obtain the highest Whole Foods rating: Chickens, when caught, must be carried one at a time in an upright position. Piglets must remain with their littermates for the duration of their lives. The new meat rating system, which could test consumers’ willingness to pay for specific farming practices, was developed by the Global Animal Partnership, a nonprofit group reportedly made up of animal welfare advocates, farmers, retailers, and scientists. LAND USE REVISIONS — The California Air Resources Board (CARB) last week adopted a resolution that will integrate the latest research on indirect land use change (ILUC) into the state’s Low Carbon Fuels Standard (LCFS) regulation, meaning the current ILUC penalty for corn ethanol likely will be cut by at least half by the spring of 2011. ILUC theory suggests increased corn and biofuels production spurs global shifts in crop production, conversion of sensitive lands, and higher greenhouse gas emissions. The Renewable Fuels Association (RFA) said CARB’s resolution is good news for the ethanol industry, but expressed frustration that the changes aren’t going to be effective sooner. Waiting until next spring to make the ILUC changes will unnecessarily confuse the marketplace and complicate compliance with the LCFS in 2011, RFA said.

(ISSN0197-6680) Vol. 38 No. 47 November 22, 2010 Dedicated to improving the profitability of farming, and a higher quality of life for Illinois farmers. FarmWeek is produced by the Illinois Farm Bureau. FarmWeek is published each week, except the Mondays following Thanksgiving and Christmas, by the Illinois Agricultural Association, 1701 Towanda Avenue, P.O. Box 2901, Bloomington, IL 61701. Illinois Agricultural Association assumes no responsibility for statements by advertisers or for products or services advertised in FarmWeek. FarmWeek is published by the Illinois Agricultural Association for farm operator members. $3 from the individual membership fee of each of those members go toward the production of FarmWeek.

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STAFF Editor Dave McClelland (dmcclelland@ilfb.org) Legislative Affairs Editor Kay Shipman (kayship@ilfb.org) Agricultural Affairs Editor Martin Ross (mross@ilfb.org) Senior Commodities Editor Daniel Grant (dgrant@ilfb.org) Editorial Assistant Linda Goltz (Lgoltz@ilfb.org) Business Production Manager Bob Standard Advertising Sales Manager

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Prevent a feud

Discuss passing on the family farm

BY KAY SHIPMAN FarmWeek

Continuing the legacy of family farming in Illinois while maintaining strong family bonds is Ronald Hanson’s goal. Hanson, an agribusiness professor at the University of Nebraska, will present two mini seminars on Dec. 6 during the Illinois Farm Bureau annual meeting. Hanson’s presentations are a current project of the Quality of Life Action Team for 2010-11. “How do you pass on a family farm from one generation to the next — and still be a family with no trouble or regrets? That’s easier said than done,” Hanson said. Families will confront many issues while transitioning the farm business from one generation to another. Eventually, all family members need to be involved and allowed to discuss their concerns. “This is a major step toward avoiding personal conflicts and family feuds that often arise during the settlement of a farm estate,” Hanson noted. Hanson put a discussion of “what if ” family issues at the top of each family’s to-do list. These are issues most farm families either fail to discuss or

pretend will never happen, he said. Two of the most important considerations are: Dad and Mom. Fathers have dual roles. Not only have they run the farm business, but they also are the

head of the family. Hanson advised the farming adult children to make the distinction between Dad as the “boss” and the “father.” In some cases, mothers have taken over the farm business after the death of their spouses. The family faces a set of questions about the mother’s future plans for the farm business. The matter may be further compounded if the mother remarries and a new stepfather enters the picture, Hanson added. Some families may have to

determine which individuals are considered “real family members,” Hanson said. Does the title family member pertain to only those related by blood? Do in-laws have a voice in management matters? Hanson warned against excluding in-laws from business discussions because that leads to suspicions and a lack of respect for others. “When family members no longer respect or even lack trust for each other, a family farming operation quickly fails,” Hanson said. Each family’s goal should be to discuss farm ownership succession before the change must happen. It is important to have a strategic plan in place for the next generation of farm operators, he said. “There are some rather sticky and emotional issues to discuss among the family members, but avoiding these issues could have disastrous consequences later,” Hanson warned. Parents need a clear idea about the future of their farm and should discuss that with all their children, especially those who have returned and hope one day to succeed their parents on the farm, Hanson summarized.

Mini seminars to cover a range of topics at IFB annual meeting A variety of subjects from fun to serious will be presented in 14 mini seminars Monday, Dec. 6, during the Illinois Farm Bureau annual meeting in the Renaissance Grand Hotel, St. Louis. Sessions will start at 8:30 a.m. and continue through noon. All the seminars will be in Landmark Rooms 1-5. Seminars from 8:30 to 9:30 a.m. will be: common farm insurance pitfalls; opportunities for local food production; farmer image campaign update; succession of family farm business ownership; and integrating agriculture and

food science through literature. Seminars from 9:45 to 10:45 a.m. will be: Farm Bureau membership recruitment; cyber security; food deserts and Illinois corn farmers; farm succession strategies for family members; and urban agriculture and ag literacy. Seminars from 11 a.m. to noon will be: retirement financial planning; agroterrorism; Illinois Corn Marketing Board and agriculture promotions using minor league baseball; and assessment of current and future policies to improve opportunities for corn production.

Extension Continued from page 1 directors had been named and started their jobs Nov. 1, and applications for three director vacancies closed in the last week; 118 local educators, who will start officially on July 1, 2011, were named last week, but 27 positions remain open for a variety of reasons. Those educator openings will be advertised, “but we

will let the county directors take a look at their budgets to see if they have enough money,” Hoeft added. Local funding remains an issue, especially with some counties not contributing property tax revenue while others within the same multicounty group are contributing. Thus far, no county governments have cut local Extension funding, although

some have proposed doing so, Hoeft said. “I’m hoping people in counties that don’t have a (tax) referendum will recognize the value Extension gives them and that they are not paying their fair share and will contribute more,” Hoeft told the IFB board. However, Extension can’t force local governments to fund Extension, he added.


FarmWeek Page 3 Monday, November 22, 2010

ENERGY

To EPA: E15 labeling should be simple, not scary BY MARTIN ROSS FarmWeek

Consumers should be enlightened — not frightened — by retail labeling of new 15 percent ethanol (E15) fuel blends, producers and biofuels proponents advised the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) in Chicago last week. As ag/ethanol, oil, retail, and small-engine interests debated over the wording and tone of E15 pump labels, EPA Office of Transportation and Air Quality Director Margo Oge offered some sharp words of her own for petroleum interests at a Chicago hearing last week on E15 introduction and “misfueling mitigation.” EPA has OK’d E15 use for 2007 and newer cars and light trucks, raising some concerns about potential fuel supplierretailer liability in the event unapproved E15 use is blamed for vehicle or engine damage. Fuel marketers sought EPA’s assurance that labeling would clear them of misfueling liability. But Illinois Farm Bureau spokesman Adam Nielsen

argued regulators can “accomplish what they need to accomplish without damaging E15 in the eyes of consumers and setting back our national RFS2

at all,” Becker said. If E15 fails to break the current 10 percent ethanol “blend wall,” development of cellulosic ethanol that is key to meeting RFS2 goals will be “severely limited,” warned Adrian Dee, whose company, GEA BarrRosin, supplies ethanol plant technology. Left: Illinois Farm Bureau offers this model for a new retail E15 label. Below is a sample label designed by the Federal Trade Commission. Both comply with EPA’s draft E15 rules.

(renewable fuels standard) goals” — a mandated 36 billion gallons of annual biofuels use by 2022. Todd Becker, CEO of ethanol producer Green Plains Renewable Energy, labeled the misfueling issue a “red herring” and argued consumer perception is “at the heart of this issue.” The word “Caution” in a sample label designed by the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) (see example) “makes me want to step back from wanting to use the fuel

EPA on E15 The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is evaluating industry testimony and written comments on labeling of 15 percent ethanol gasoline (E15) through Jan. 3. Margo Oge, director of EPA’s Office of Transportation and Air Quality, discussed introduction of the new blend with FarmWeek during a Chicago hearing last week. On E15: “We are really excited with the opportunity of introducing more renewable Margo Oge fuels in the marketplace. It’s good for the economy; it’s good for energy security. It’s what Congress told us to do; it’s what the law has asked us to do. But as we’re doing that, we realize that there are challenges. We want to make sure we are doing this in the best way possible. “We want the introduction of 15 percent ethanol in gasoline to be successful. The agency is very confident that the extensive data we have today supports the safe use of E15 gasoline with 2007 and newer vehicles, which is like 30 to 40 percent of all cars on the road. “We’re also testing, along with the Department of Energy (DOE), 2001 to 2006 vehicles, and the agency’s going to be able to make its decision (about E15 use in those vehicles) by the end of the year. (EPA announced Friday test results would be delayed, and a decision thus may not be announced until January) On labeling: “We want to label (gasoline) dispensers for E15 to make sure the public makes the right decisions when they go to purchase fuel. We have done it for low-sulfur diesel; it’s been very successful. “FTC (the Federal Trade Commission) has proposed its own label. There is a lot of interest in the agencies working together so we have one label. We’re working with FTC, and we’re very hopeful that at the end of the day, we’ll have one unified label.” On E15 and older vehicles: “DOE is making a lot of effort to test 2001 to 2006 vehicles. They have spent over $40 million doing testing. Without their data, we could not have taken this great step in approving E15. I cannot comment on what they’re doing for (pre-2001) ‘legacy’ fleets.” — Martin Ross

“For the sake of the environment, the economy, fuel security, and, of course, the safety of my children, please

keep it simple, keep it clear, please make sure everyone works together,” Dee told EPA. “You must succeed.” IFB offered a red-whiteand-blue design for the E15 label (see accompanying art) featuring the product itself — the FTC’s label does not specifically mention “E15.” Nielsen argued the prominence of the product acronym is “more likely to grab the attention of the person pumping E15.” IFB’s label retains the FTC label’s warning that federal law prohibits E15 use in nonapproved vehicles and engines while omitting EPA’s original warning it “might damage other vehicles.” Minnesota Farmers Union President Doug Peterson, a former state representative, noted a three-year Minnesota State University study finding “no ill effects” related to use of higher-level blends; Nielsen said theoretical damage warnings “throw up an unnecessary red flag.” In addition, IFB and others were concerned by the federal draft advisory that labeled fuel “may consist of a range of

ethanol up to a maximum of 15 percent ethanol,” amid fears it could spark anxiety about now-standard E10 blends. Oge cited EPA’s role in a “successful consumer education effort” following addition of federally mandated ultralow sulfur diesel (ULSD) to the diesel fuel mix. American Petroleum Institute policy adviser Patrick Kelly called her comparison of ULSD and E15 labeling “inaccurate,” and National Petrochemical and Refiners Association spokesman Gregory Scott urged regulators to require a “physical barrier” to prevent E15 misfueling. Biofuels group Growth Energy CEO Tom Buis rejected the idea that “the sky’s going to be falling” as a result of E15 introduction, citing EPA’s “30-some years of experience in introducing new fuels and new blends.” “I’m surprised to hear you suggesting that what we’re doing here is so different than the efforts we have undertaken, working with all of you together, to reduce misfueling with ULSD,” Oge told the petroleum groups.

Is ethanol policy drag diluting ‘do-good attitude’? Adrian Dee was energized when he arrived support extension of “bio-based fuel” incenin the U.S. — excited by the nation’s drive tives, emphasizing those that promote nexttoward cleaner, renewable fuel. generation cellulosic ethanol. Today, the Naperville-based Brit — whose The federal renewable fuels standard company, GEA Barr-Rosin, helps equip nearly (RFS2) mandates 36 billion gallons of annual 60 ethanol plants — fears that biofuels use by 2022, including commitment could be running 21 billion gallons of celluon fumes. He cites delays in and losic/“advanced” biofuels. ‘I came to this industry resistance to E15 (see RC Ag Production-National accompanying story) and Issues Subcommittee Chair Paul country because potential loss of ethanol tax Rasmussen argues ethanol proI saw a do-good duction is not yet “a mature credits. a t t i t u d e — a industry”; Dee said the blenders “I came to this country because I saw a do-good atti‘Let’s get it done’- credit gives the RFS2 “a little tude — a ‘Let’s get it done’-type type philosophy.’ help.” philosophy,” Dee told “I think it’s also critical to FarmWeek. “The minute I the consumer, if those tax walked off the plane, the indus— Adrian Dee breaks get passed on,” Dee try ‘died.’ That was 3 1/2 years said. “At the moment, ethanol’s GEA Barr-Rosin ago. Hopefully, it’s on the turn trading for pretty much exactly and coming back. Let’s hope the same as gasoline on the the sensible side wins.” (Chicago Board of Trade). Without congressional “If (blenders) can pass tax action, the 45-cent-per-gallon ethanol credit savings on, that will promote the industry, and expires Dec. 31. According to Tom Buis, CEO that will promote the cellulosic side of things.” of the biofuels industry group Growth Energy, Meanwhile, Dee understands why Environa year’s extension would “get us down the mental Protection Agency officials have been road” as the next Congress eyes possible “hesitant” to approve across-the-board E15 ethanol tax policy changes and “the bigger, use. He recognizes that without lifetime vehibroader opportunity for access to the market” cle emissions, engine durability, and other fuel — ethanol blender pumps and more flexibleuse data, “they can’t make that decision.” fuel vehicles. He nonetheless is “amazed how long it’s Dee noted the credit serves as an important taken to assemble the data.” Once all data on “carrot,” inducing fuel blenders to use more E15 use are in, “if it’s safe, if it doesn’t cause ethanol. The Illinois Farm Bureau Resolutions any damages, then why hold back?” Dee Committee (RC) is asking IFB delegates to posed. — Martin Ross


FarmWeek Page 4 Monday, November 22, 2010

DAIRY

RC seeks delegate input on dairy changes BY MARTIN ROSS FarmWeek

Given a volatile milk market that has moved well beyond farm program triggers and a bleak congressional budget environment, a Farm Bureau economist suggests a new dairy “program” may be worth considering. The Illinois Farm Bureau Resolutions Committee (RC) is asking farmer-delegates in December to consider recommending new farm bill dairy policy that includes “risk management tools that will protect dairy farmers from catastrophic swings in feed and milk prices.” The RC’s proposed policy nonetheless would oppose “quota-type marketing concepts” or state or regional dairy compacts aimed at regulating wholesale milk prices. The National Milk Producers Federation (NMPF) has proposed a new “margin protection” program that would help producers cope with higher feed or input prices.

Known as Foundation for the Future, the plan may offer a congressionally preferable alternative to adjusting existing dairy supports for a changing industry, American Farm Bureau Federation senior economist Bob Young argues. “I think we all understand the political likelihood of being able to raise target prices, raise loan rates, etc.,” Young said. “The political likelihood of being able to pull that off in this environment is virtually non-existent.” The current dairy support program sets a price floor through government purchases of nonfat dry milk, butter, and cheese. When “government’s there to buy anything you have to offer,” the program effectively provides a “perfectly elastic demand curve at a particular price,” Young suggested. The existing Milk Income Loss Compensation (MILC) program further offers producer “income transfer” outside the marketplace, trigger-

ing payments when prices fall below a prescribed level. Additional producer assessments have helped promote products or, in the case of the Cooperatives Working Together program, enable operators to reduce cow numbers. Rounding out the dairy “program” is what Young called a “set of hopelessly complicated marketing orders” that enable producers to set prices for various end uses of their milk. The Foundation for the Future plan would eliminate MILC and price supports and redirect funds for a two-tiered insurance-style Dairy Producer Margin Protection Program (DPMPP) that would offer base “coverage” and supplemental protection similar to crop insurance “buy up” coverage. A Food and Agricultural Policy Research Institute (FAPRI) study concludes replacing MILC and price supports would have no negative impact on price levels or pro-

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duction. Since price supports peaked at $13.10 per hundredweight under the 1981 farm bill, “the market has inflated itself away from where government support levels are,” Young said. FAPRI noted MILC covers only 45 percent of the price difference for a maximum 2.985 million pounds of total production, while NMPF seeks to have DPMPP cover 90 percent of a producer’s base milk production. The new program would seem to provide a “solid” floor for producer margins, and “when this program does make payouts, it potentially makes a big payout,” Young said. Further, he said existing

price supports reduce total demand for U.S. dairy products and export capabilities, setting a market floor for the rest of the world as well as for American dairymen. Because the government accepts only products that meet exact specifications, it discourages “product innovation,” Young said. “Here’s an industry where prices have become much more volatile than they’ve been in times past,” he related. “Also, the general price level has moved away from those price supports, which are basically no longer functioning. “If we ever got down to those price levels again, the industry itself would be in some pretty serious straits.”

Illinois dairy checkoff reaches milestone BY DANIEL GRANT FarmWeek

The reclaimed demand for dairy products since the checkoff was implemented in Illinois nearly 25 years ago has done more than boost milk sales. It literally helped about 20 percent of dairy producers stay in business, according to Warren Pollard, a dairy producer from Rockford and chairman of the Midwest Dairy Association (MDA) Chicago Division Board. “If it wasn’t for the dairy checkoff, about one out of every five producers would not be in business,” Pollard told FarmWeek. “The demand wouldn’t be there for the products we produce.” The checkoff organization, the Illinois Milk Promotion Board (IMPB), was formed in 1986 to promote the consumption of milk and milk products. Per capita consumption of milk since that time has increased by nearly 90 pounds per person, to a total of 611 pounds, after trending down for a number of years prior to the checkoff. The investment in IMPB since its formation recently reached the $50 million mark. Pollard said he shudders to think where the state’s dairy industry would be without IMPB, which directs MDA and the St. Louis District Dairy Council to implement checkoff-funded programs that increase demand and sales of dairy products and ingredients. “Illinois dairy farmers’ checkoff investment has helped to bolster dairy demand here in Illinois and throughout the Midwest,” he said. Recent efforts have focused on encouraging school-age children to be lifelong milk drinkers. Illinois, a milk-deficient state, historically has lost about onethird of its dairy farms every five years. The remaining farms generally have increased herd sizes so cow numbers have remained fairly stable, according to Pollard, who operates an 80-cow operation with his wife, Gail, their son, Brent, and Brent’s wife, Carrie. “The issue with losing farm numbers in Illinois is you lose your dairy support infrastructure,” Pollard said. “The infrastructure issue is really important. We milk twice a day, seven days a week, so we need the support if something goes wrong.” Industry groups currently are looking for methods, such as production control or a margin insurance program, to stabilize a milk market that in recent years has exhibited wild fluctuations in price. Milk prices, which this month reached 20-month highs, recently returned to profitable levels. However, Pollard predicted milk prices could trend lower as a traditional fall spike in demand has not materialized this year.


FarmWeek Page 5 Monday, November 22, 2010

RISK MANAGEMENT

Big bank reforms RC floats prepay protection major impediment to rural lenders? BY MARTIN ROSS FarmWeek

Smaller “community” banks largely stayed out of the mortgage-foreclosure fray that spurred the recent economic slump. Rural lenders nonetheless are expected to shoulder a share of new regulatory reforms. Loan reserve requirements and reduced banker discretion in determining individual creditworthiness could end up squeezing farm borrowers, according to American Bankers Association (ABA) leaders. ABA Chairman Stephen Wilson told FarmWeek agriculture continues to be an economic bright spot, with a combina‘This bill causes tion of higher crop prices and yields putting producers us (bankers) to good “in the best position they’ve a s k a q u e s t i o n been in in a long time.” However, Wilson sees new that never should congressional financial be asked: What reforms potentially inhibiting size do I have to small bank capabilities and the banking industry’s “naturbe to survive?’ al progression back to strength” and improved credit — Stephen Wilson quality. American Bankers He believes the new ConAssociation gress could approve at least a “technical corrections” bill that would buffer some of the original bill’s “unintended consequences.” Prospective regulatory problems range from provisions granting the Federal Reserve power to regulate interchange fees that banks can charge merchants for debit card/ATM transactions — thus impacting bank income — to more stringent bank capital requirements. Wilson anticipates “overzealous regulators” dictating new loan underwriting terms and “impeding us getting credit out to small businesses and farms.” Smaller banks are hard-pressed to raise new capital, and forcing them to maintain higher capital reserves “diminishes our ability to meet credit needs,” he said. “This bill causes us (bankers) to ask a question that never should be asked: What size do I have to be to survive?,” Wilson added. “Can a bank with 10 employees or 20 employees or 30 employees comply with 500 new regulations and go out there every day and serve their customers, make the loans, inject capital into the system, and move their economies ahead?” As part of financial reform, a new Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) annually will receive $500 million and hire a projected 3,000 new examiners to ensure “consumers are getting a good deal from their banker,” according to ABA regulatory specialist John Blanchfield. Blanchfield warned new requirements subject local lending choices to after-the-fact review by “some bureaucrat in Washington.” The CFPB reportedly will expect banks to detail race, sex, and other loan applicant characteristics, loan amounts, and reasons for approving or rejecting individual loans. With no clear guidance yet provided on “what exactly this new regulatory entity is going to do with this information,” Blanchfield fears new regulations could lead to “the politicization of credit.” Rural banks could feel constrained to allocate a share of loan funds to specific borrower groups at the expense of existing customers. Substituting federal loan guidance for established local relationships threatens to “replace character with compliance” as a major lending criteria, Blanchfield said. “Especially with agricultural bankers, the character issue is so important,” he said. “I’ve talked to reporters who’ve asked, ‘What’s the subprime crisis in agriculture?’ “The answer is, there isn’t a subprime crisis in agriculture, because agricultural bankers work very closely with their customers to provide them with the credit that they need — no more than what they need, no less than what they need.” — Martin Ross

Input “prepay” is an attractive option for many cost-conscious producers. But it carries some significant risks if the supplier ultimately can’t come through with the goods. Illinois Farm Bureau’s Resolution Committee (RC) is asking farmer-delegates next month to consider creation of an insurance fund for farm input prepayments similar to the state’s existing grain insurance fund. Paul Rasmussen, chairman of the RC’s Ag Production-National Issues Subcommittee, noted increased prepayment by farmers for seed, feed, fertilizer, chemicals, or services to lock in supplies or capture discounts offered with advance orders. Given credit constraints and new federal banking regulations (see accompanying story), farm finances will be even tighter and more suppliers will offer prepay discounts, according to Will County Farm Bureau, which originated the RC resolution. While prepaying can save buyers a reported 20-40 percent over “in-season” input costs, advanced purchases place farmers in the vulnerable position of being an unsecured creditor in the event of a supplier bankruptcy or default. “A lot of farmers put a lot of money into prepay,” Rasmussen told FarmWeek. “When they do that, unlike with grain they have sitting in a grain bin at an elevator, they’re basically unprotected. At times, you can write a pretty good-sized check in

prepay to these companies, and it may be several months before you use those products. “The concern is that if that company, that seller, went broke, (farmers) would be an unsecured party in the negotiations following. They may not get their money back, or the product. Mostly, they want the product they paid for.” The RC-proposed fund would be administered by the Illinois Department of Agriculture (which oversees the state’s grain insurance fund) or another designated agency and would be structured to be immune from legislative fund transfers, cutbacks, or elimination. Rasmussen himself already has locked in fertilizer supplies, and anticipates paying for seed over the next month or so to capture prepay discounts. He spreads seed purchases generally over four suppliers, reducing potential risk, and he noted prepayment for next year’s fertilizer helped him avert potash shortages in some parts of the state. Given current farmer exposure under prepay agreements, IFB Senior Counsel Jerry Quick stressed the importance of thorough documentation of transactions. That should include the amount prepaid for the product, the type of product and quantity purchased, expectations for delivery, provisions regarding unused product, and any price guarantees. “There is no easy or efficient way to protect yourself,” Quick stressed. “This is what you can do to help yourselves.”

Pointing the Way to Soybean Premium Programs Like a map leading to buried treasure, SoybeanPremiums.org leads farmers to potentially more revenue! Developed by the Illinois Soybean Association, the regularly updated site lists first purchasers, locations and details for soybean premium programs such as non-GMO contracts and food grade soybeans. Just click on “Find a Premium Program” to see what opportunities are available in your area.

Visit SoybeanPremiums.org.

Funded by the soybean checkoff.


FarmWeek Page 6 Monday, November 22, 2010

WEATHER

La Nina could hang over crop markets into 2011 BY DANIEL GRANT FarmWeek

The ongoing La Nina (cooler-than-normal water temperatures) in the Pacific Ocean could affect more than just the weather around the world. It also could affect crop production at various locations and keep pressure on the markets well into next year. “La Nina tends to promote dryness in certain crop areas of the world,� said Mike Palmerino, Telvent/DTN ag meteorologist. Palmerino last week reported temperatures in the Pacific Ocean were 2 to 5 degrees below normal, which he classified as a moderate to strong La Nina event. In fact, the last time La Nina was this strong this late into the year was 1988, which happened to be the year of a major drought in the U.S. that carried over into 1989 at some locations. “Sea surface temperatures currently are about where they were in 1988,� Palmerino said. “Looking forward to the 2011 growing season, the critical situ-

‘Looking forward to the 2011 growing season, the critical situation will be how quickly we come out of LaNina.’ — Mike Palmerino Telvent/DTN ag meteorologist

ation will be how quickly we come out of La Nina.� Palmerino predicted drought conditions in the Ohio and Tennessee Valleys could shrink this winter. But drought could continue to be an issue in winter wheat regions (Western Plains

and the Delta) of the U.S. Elsewhere, only about half the Argentine grain belt has adequate soil moisture while much of the Black Sea region still has a soil moisture deficit, according to Palmerino. In Australia, conditions are

extremely wet to the east and dry in the west. Those weather conditions are expected to create quality issues with wheat in eastern Australia and reduce wheat yields in the west. “We’ve got some real issues to be concerned about,� said Bryce Anderson, another Telvent/DTN ag meteorologist. “There are many thousands more acres in some phase of drought (this year compared to last year).� The United Nations’ Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) last week projected world cereal production in the

2010/11 crop year will decline by 2.1 percent while world cereal stocks were projected to decline by 7 percent. The drop in production and strong demand have helped propel crop prices, which as of last week, were 49 percent higher for corn, 39 percent for wheat, and 35 percent for soybeans compared to a year ago. Prices for other commodities have rallied as well. Sugar recently hit a 30-year high and coffee reached a 13-year high. FAO subsequently projected food prices will continue to increase in 2011.

Specialty soybean opportunities now available online An early harvest has provided Illinois soybean farmers with the opportunity to spend a little more time on seed selection for 2011. And farmers considering identity-preserved (IP) soybean production may want to browse prospects available in their area at the website, {www.soybeanpremiums.org}. The site, created by the Illi-

nois Soybean Association (ISA) in 2008, serves as a conduit for matching soybean farmers with premium contract opportunities. Farmers can review detailed listings posted by soybean buyers, as well as find contact information to follow up with merchandisers. The site was expanded last year to include Iowa and Indiana. Today, the site lists every state

offering soybean premiums. “SoybeanPremiums.org is a good site for exploring potential value-added production opportunities. It is one-stop shopping to see what soybean varieties are in demand by certain buyers and then (a way to) contract with a buyer in your area,� said Mike Cunningham, a soybean farmer from Bismarck and ISA Demand Committee vice chairman. “Many of these programs can provide farmers with higher revenue than traditional soybeans, and farmers report they really do not see much yield drag anymore with specialty varieties.� Premiums are not always listed on the site due to the competitive nature of programs, but farmers in the past have obtained premiums in the 50-cent- to $1.40-perbushel range when meeting specific guidelines.

Qualified farmers must segregate and store specialized soybeans and understand how to meet quality requirements and unique market needs. “SoybeanPremiums.org is a good starting point for farmers in filtering down IP options within a certain radius of their operations,� said Corey Nikkel, vice president of marketing for Schillinger Genetics, West Des Moines, Iowa. Schillinger offers nonbiotech seed contract opportunities. “This is the time of year when we see a big spike in interest,� Nikkel said. “We may not know yet what the 2011 season may hold or all premiums that may be offered, but the earlier harvest gives farmers a chance to spend more time reviewing their options and locking in early seed discounts.� For more information, visit the website {www.ilsoy.org}.

Pesticide safety clinics scheduled

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Reorganization of the University of Illinois Extension is resulting in regional private pesticide safety education clinics over the next several months. A $30 clinic fee and pre-registration is required. State law requires individual farmers to be certified as private pesticide applicators to be able to buy and use restricted-use pesticides. To meet that requirement, a farmer must pass a closed-book, 50question exam administered by the Illinois Department of Agriculture (IDOA). A farmer who passes the exam and submits a $30 license fee will be issued a three-year certification license. The Extension clinics will help farmers prepare for the license exam. Each clinic will be offered from 9 a.m. to noon. Exams will be administered from 1 to 3 p.m. Clinic participants will pay a $30 clinic fee and a separate $30 license fee to IDOA. The clinic schedule is: Dec. 14, Crowne Plaza, Springfield; Dec. 17, Gateway Center, Collinsville; Jan. 6, Clock Tower, Rockford; Jan. 7, Rock Falls Hotel & Conference Center, Rockford; Jan. 10, Holiday Inn, Mt. Vernon; Jan. 13, Keller Convention Center, Effingham; Jan. 18, Crowne Plaza, Springfield; Jan. 28, I-Hotel, Champaign; Feb. 18, Knights of Columbus, Kankakee; Feb. 22, Holiday Inn City Center, Peoria; Feb. 25, Chateau Hotel & Conference Center, Bloomington; March 1, Best Western Prairie Inn, Galesburg; March 4, Quincy City Center Hotel, Quincy; and March 8, Celebrations 150 Ltd., Utica. Farmers may register for a clinic by calling 877-626-1650 or by going online to {www.pesticidesafety.uiuc.edu}, click on “training schedule� and then select “private.� Farmers who are unable to attend a clinic may use the online private pesticide safety education training program that is available on the same website.


FarmWeek Page 7 Monday, November 22, 2010

EMERGING ISSUES

Designer plants seed to develop homegrown ‘agripaper’ BY KAY SHIPMAN FarmWeek

Eric Benson likes to think out of the box, literally. Benson, an assistant professor in graphic design at the University of Illinois, has developed ways to save water and Eric Benson reduce paper usage for several printing projects ranging from university course catalogs to conference programs. Benson would like to take his creative ideas to the next level and spark development of “agripaper,” ideally made from residue of existing Midwestern crops. He reasoned a new product

could be made from agricultural fiber or crop waste, using existing farm equipment and farm management practices, and spark a new industry. Currently, much of U.S. paper is made from Canadian wood pulp. “There is a growing momentum behind this (agripaper movement),” Benson said. In fact, Canadians are experimenting with paper made from wheat straw and even printed a straw edition of “Canadian Geographic.” In South America, work has been done to make paper from banana waste, Benson added. Currently, the USDA Agricultural Research Service does

not have any research projects exploring the use of crop residue to make paper, accord-

ing to Sandy Miller Hays, director of information. Several years ago, USDA experimented with making paper from kenaf, a reedlike crop. A New Mexico company contin-

ues to offer paper made from that crop. At Western Illinois University, Win Phippen, a plant breeding and genetics professor, has made a white paper from milkweed floss. Phippen speculated the coarseness of corn stover, soybean residue, and wheat straw would require significant amounts of bleaching to make paper. Printing technology may pose a big challenge to paper made from crop residue, according to Bill Starks, president of P & P Press Inc., which prints FarmWeek. In addition to printing challenges for agripaper, newsprint is an economical choice for many publications, such as

Illinois 4-H’ers discover science behind changes Carbon dioxide’s effect on water was the focus for more than 2,000 Illinois youth who participated in the recent annual 4-H National Youth Science Day (NYSD). The NYSD experiments were operated under the Illinois 4-H Science Excited program, an initiative organized by University of Illinois Extension in 2009. “Science Excited offers hands-on learning opportunities focused on science topics,” said William Million, 4-H youth development specialist. This year’s NYSD experiment introduced youngsters to the connection between water quality and climate change. In the first of a two-part experiment, participants demonstrated how human activities can degrade water quality. The youth filled cups with water and bromothymol blue, a solution that changes color to indicate the presence of carbon dioxide. Using straws, they blew air into the water, increasing the amount of carbon dioxide in the cup and changing the indicator from blue to yellow. In the second part of the experiment, participants demonstrated how carbon dioxide collects in the atmosphere by dropping effervescent tablets into plastic sandwich bags half-filled with water. The tablets reacted with the water to release carbon dioxide and expand the bags with gas. “These experiments give 4H staff and volunteers the opportunity to expose kids to real science and replace some of the pseudo-science seen on children’s entertainment shows,” said David Knox, a Will County 4-H leader.

Funded by the soybean checkoff.

Grow. Compete. Lead. The 2011 Yield Challenge combines the talents of growers and agri-businesses to test production skills, compete for higher soybean yields, and develop new and innovative farming practices.

Sign up at SoyYieldChallenge.com! Call the ISA office at (888) 826-4011.

FarmWeek, Starks noted. An agripaper would need to be a low-cost alternative to be competitive given the state of the printing industry, he explained. Benson has tackled challenges in print and design beyond academia. His company, Re-nourish, promotes conservation within the graphic design industry. As a graphics designer, Benson said he will need the expertise of agriculture researchers to explore the possibility of making paper from crop waste and/or residue and would like to speak with interested researchers. Benson envisions “bringing people to the table (and creating) a supply chain to make a sustainable industry.”


FarmWeek Page 8 Monday, November 22, 2010

YOUNG LEADERS

ACHIEVEMENT IN AGRICULTURE The 2010 Young Leader Achievement Award finalists Illinois Farm Bureau’s Young Leader Achievement Award recognizes extraordinary accomplishments in farming and leadership. This year’s award winner will be honored at IFB’s annual meeting Dec. 4-7 in St. Louis. Participants are judged on their management, innovation, and self-initiative, as displayed through their farming operations. Leadership ability and involvement and participation in county Farm Bureau or other civic, service, or community organizations also are major factors in selecting the top young producer. The first place winner receives 150 hours of use of any two-wheel-drive Case IH tractor, $1,000 cash from IFB, a one-year membership in the Illinois Corn Growers Association (ICGA), and expense-paid trips to the American Farm Bureau Federation annual meeting in Atlanta, the GROWMARK annual meeting in Chicago, and the Young Leader State Conference in Springfield. The first runner-up will receive a $600 Visa gift card from Farm Credit Services/1st Farm Credit Services and a oneyear ICGA membership. The two honorable mention finalists each will receive $250 cash courtesy of Country Financial and a one-year ICGA membership. Four producers are finalists in this year’s competition. Here, they share their thoughts on maintaining the tradition of the family farm, embracing their role as advocates for agriculture, and planning for the future. Interviews for this feature were conducted by Daniel Grant.

Matt DeBlock Aledo, Mercer County Matt DeBlock has a dual role in production agriculture as he manages his family’s farming corporation and he also runs his own operation. The farms produce row crops and beef from a cow/calf operation. DeBlock and his wife, Kim, also run a commodity brokerage business and recently started a commercial trucking business that focuses on hauling grain, feed, and fertilizer for customers. DeBlock’s brother, John, — who joined the family corporation in 2008 — also operates a 2,400-head feeder pig operation. “We all work together (on the family farm owned by Matt and John’s parents, Victor and Susan) but we each operate our own separate entities,” said Matt, who graduated from the University of Illinois in 2000. “It helps to be diversified in anything you do,” he continued. “This allows us to be employed 12 months a year.” DeBlock, a fourth-generation farmer, always knew he wanted to return to the family farm. “Through my entire educational process, my interest always was to return to the family farm and eventually take over its management,” Matt said. He also believes it’s important for young farmers to be active in leadership roles to help shape the future direction of the industry. “It’s really important as a young individual to become involved in an industry that really needs a voice,” he said. “My goal is to help people see agriculture as a positive industry in our nation, and I’d like to be part of the voice that sends

mes sages to consumers and policymakers.” The DeBlocks have two children (Kaitlynn, 5, and Macy, 3) and are expecting a third in May.

Steve and Dawn Huls St. Joseph, Vermilion County Steve and Dawn Huls grow corn and soybeans and operate a custom hay business. Dawn also is a fifth grade school teacher. Steve started the custom hay business to earn more income when he first got into production agriculture. Since then the Huls added to their land base and also expanded the hay operation. “It’s grown substantially,” said Steve, who shares equipment with his parents, Dave and Cheryl. “The (farming) operation has more than doubled, and I seem to pick up business (for the custom hay operation) every year.” The Huls grow corn on 80 percent of their crop acres and soybeans on the other 20 percent. They use global positioning systems and auto steering to be more efficient and improve output. “We use a lot of technology,” Steve said. “I think it pays for itself right away.” The Huls also spread all their own fertilizer, spray their own crops, and are finishing construction of an on-farm storage facility capable of holding 220,000 bushels of grain. The Huls got involved in Young Leaders about six years ago and Steve has served as the county YL president among other leadership positions. “I enjoy getting together with other people who have the same interests,” Steve said. “I also think Young Leaders gives younger people an opportunity to get out in front of consumers and show everybody there are some young people who do this (production agriculture).” The Huls have one child, Morgan (17 months), and are expecting another in February.

Matt and Jenna Kilgus Fairbury, Livingston County Matt and Jenna Kilgus produce corn, soybeans, wheat, and hay on a multi-generational farm. Matt and his uncle, Paul Kilgus, also have a herd of 100 Jersey dairy cows.

The Kilgus family opened its own creamery and bottling plant and bottle and market all the milk produced on the farm. The milk is distributed to stores throughout Central Illinois and the Chicago area. “It took some time to get going, but we’re currently selling about 3,000 gallons per week,” Matt said. “The idea is to bring more family back to the farm and make it sustainable. We liked this alternative as opposed to doubling our herd size.” Milk from Kilgus Farmstead is unique by today’s standards in that it is non-homogenized, which means the cream floats to the top. Kilgus believes non-homogenized milk provides health and taste benefits. The Kilgus family also hosts numerous tours of the dairy operation, including visits by the IFB Adopt a Classroom and Adopt a Legislator programs, to help teach consumers about the industry. “We can bring (consumers) in here and show them what happens to the milk they buy off the store shelf,” Matt said. “We feel it’s a great way to get the message out.” Matt and Jenna got involved in Young Leaders about eight years ago and helped rejuvenate the program in their county.

Joe Zumwalt Warsaw, Hancock County Joe Zumwalt grows corn and soybeans, he is a part owner of Hancock Land Co., and he does some excavation work on the side. “I knew I always wanted to farm,” said Zumwalt, who farms land that was acquired by his family back in the 1930s. Zumwalt believes efficiency and management are the keys to surviving the turbulent economic times. He also believes farmers must manage their inputs more carefully due to wild fluctuations in the price of everything from fertilizer to fuel. “I think people have to get the most out of each acre,” said Zumwalt, who hopes to expand his operation in the future. “It’s not just about how many acres you cover.” Looking ahead, Zumwalt believes it is critical for young farmers to represent their industry. “As we all know, there are fewer of us (farmers), so I think it’s more and more important” for young leaders to pursue leadership opportunities, he said. Zumwalt has been involved with Young Leaders the past 16 years, he was the winner of the 2008 Young Leader State Discussion Meet, he served a four-year term on the Young Leader State Committee, and he currently is a third-generation president of the Hancock County Farm Bureau. “I’ve met a lot of wonderful people and had some great opportunities” through Young Leaders, he said. This is the second consecutive year Zumwalt has been a finalist for the YL Achievement Award.


FarmWeek Page 9 Monday, November 22, 2010

RESEARCH

SIU scientists looking to counter a newly identified soybean virus A newly identified virus is attacking soybeans in Illinois and four other states, Midwestern plant scientists reported recently. “We have field locations in Belleville, Carbondale, Carmi, Ullin, Valmeyer and elsewhere in Southern Illinois and have found it in all of them,” said Stella Kantartzi, Southern Illinois University-Carbondale’s (SIUC) soybean breeder. The virus has been named the soybean vein necrosis virus. “It was most severe at Belleville. We didn’t even have to walk to the field — you could see it from a distance,” she added.

A newly identified virus, shown on a soybean leaf, attacks and kills soybean leaves. (Photo courtesy Southern Illinois University)

Plants afflicted by the virus first develop yellow splotches near the leaf veins. As the disease progresses, the patches grow larger and darker, giving the leaf a scorched appearance before the virus kills it. “The disease starts with yellow lesions as do many of the fungi attacking soybeans,” said Ioannis Tzanetakis, a plant pathologist from the University of Arkansas. Tzanetakis first saw the disease there shortly after his arrival in 2008. “With this disease, though, the lesions are more extensive, and they eventually become necrotic, killing the affected area,” Tzanetakis said. “While the vascular system does not collapse as it does with soybean sudden death syndrome — it doesn’t kill the stem — if you lose all the leaves, I am not sure how much yield you will have.” Given the virus’ reach — Tzanetakis has found it not only in Arkansas and Illinois but also in Kansas, Mississippi, and Missouri — he speculates that it has been active for more than a decade. Still, there’s some good news. It does not hit all soybean cultivars in the same way.

“Some have all the leaves involved, others have only a spot here and there,” Tzanetakis said. “This is where Stella’s contribution will be very important,” he continued. “We don’t really know much about the virus (genetic sequencing reveals no matches with known viruses), so we don’t know whether there is natural resistance to it.” Kantartzi’s breeding program combines work in the field and lab with computer technology, allowing her to search the DNA of plants grown in research plots for sequences, or “markers,” linked to genes with desirable traits. “In the field, we saw that some of our advanced breeding lines were hit by the virus and others didn’t have any symptoms,” she said. “We are now inoculating plants from all those lines with the virus and screening them in the greenhouse, hoping to identify some that are tolerant of the virus and some that are susceptible. We will then take the tolerant lines back out to the field and look at yield potential. “At the same time, we will be crossing resistant and susceptible lines and screening with molecular markers in the lab to find the genes associated with resistance. Once we’ve found them, it will be easy to map them on specific chromosomes so we know their exact location.” The map will allow them to confirm more quickly the presence or absence of resistance genes in other lines. Kantartzi is aided by SIUC graduate student Rajesh Dabala and SIUC freshman Ian Kessler, an undergraduate researcher funded by the Illinois Soybean Association’s scholarship program. Also participating is Jing Zhou, an Arkansas graduate student. The group expects to complete screening of 100 lines by next summer. “The ultimate goal is to release resistant lines that still have the other qualities farmers care about — seed quality, high yield potential, resistance to other diseases,” Kantartzi said. “Because we are starting with advanced lines that already have these qualities, we do not expect it to take very long to release a line to companies for commercial development.” Added Tzanetakis, “We’re putting a lot of energy into this project — we feel it’s pretty important.”

Southern Illinois University (SIU) students Rajesh Dabala, a graduate student, left, and freshman Ian Kessler, right, help soybean breeder Stella Kantartzi examine soybean leaves stricken by a newly identified virus. The group stands in an SIU research plot. (Photo courtesy Southern Illinois University)


FarmWeek Page 10 Monday, November 22, 2010

SCHOLARSHIPS

IAA Foundation offers scholarships to IFB families Illinois Farm Bureau members and their children may apply for college scholarships offered by the IAA Foundation. A total of 42 scholarships, ranging from $1,000 to $2,000 per year, will be awarded. Completed applications must be postmarked on or before Feb. 1. “We are pleased to once again have the opportunity to assist Farm Bureau families with the ever-growing expenses of college,” said Susan Moore, IAA Foundation director. “It is a great privilege to support our next generation of leaders and encourage continuing education in agricultural fields.” Guidelines, applications, and an activities template will be on the foundation website

{www.iaafoundation.org} starting Dec. 1. Questions may be directed to the IAA Foundation office at 309-557-2230, or by sending an e-mail to charms-garman@ilfb.org. New this year is the Illinois Award scholarship. It is for high school seniors who will major in an agriculture program at any accredited post-secondary institution after graduation, with preference given to students from Cass, Morgan, Stark, or Henry counties. Four Robert Rouse scholarships are available for students who are studying agriculture or nursing, with preference given to Lake county residents. The William Kuhfuss scholarship is available for a student with an agricultural background or who

is studying agriculture at an Illinois post-secondary institution. The Greg Carney scholarship is available to a University of Illinois student who is actively involved in production agriculture and is a current or former 4-H member. The Dale Butz scholarship is available for a student involved in production agriculture who is attending any educational institution. One Heartland NAMA Steven A. Hammerschmidt Memorial Scholarship will be awarded to a junior- or seniorlevel college student majoring in agriculture or agribusiness with an interest in agriculture marketing, sales, or communications at an Illinois college or university. Three $3,000 scholarships, two $1,000 scholarships, and a

$1,100 IAA Foundation scholarship are available and may be used at any accredited university, college, or community college in the nation for the study of agriculture, agribusiness, or an ag-related major. Twelve additional scholarships of $2,000 each are funded by Prairie Farms Dairy (PFD) as a tribute to former PFD executives Fletcher Gourley, Leonard Southwell, and Roger Capps. The scholarships are available for children of PFD employees and producers who sell milk to PFD. A total of 15 Dorothy and Wilhelmine Ratermann scholarships are available to residents of Southern Illinois counties. The scholarships may be applied toward any major at any accred-

This program is overflowing with the resources you need to grow your business and your profits. January 5 Pre-Conference Workshops 1) 2) 3) 4)

Pumpkin Production and Pest Management High Tunnels, 2011: Tomatoes and more Good Agriculture Practices: Making a Farm Plan and Becoming GAP - Certified Expanding Farmers Market Opportunities

January 6 - 7 Conference Tracks ©Fruit ©Vegetables ©Herbs ©Agritourism/Marketing ©Organic Production ©Business Management ©Irrigation

Program Highlights ©Retail Readiness ©Labor issues ©Yˆ…†Insurance ©Legal issues ©Post Harvest Handling of Produce ©Public Relations & Advertising ©Producer Certification Programs

For more information: 309-557-2107 or handley@ilfb.org Go to www.specialtygrowers.org for full agenda

ited university, college, or community college in the nation. All applicants must be high school seniors who have been accepted for enrollment or students already enrolled at an accredited college, university, or community college. Scholarships are awarded for exceptional academic ability, leadership, and financial need. Previous winners of an IAA Foundation scholarship are eligible to apply again. For more information, contact your county Farm Bureau, the IAA Foundation at 309-5572230, or e-mail charms-garman@ilfb.org.

Farm economics series to be held in December The University of Illinois Extension next month will host the 2010 Illinois Farm Economics Summit, a series of five meetings to be held across Illinois. The theme is “The Profitability of Illinois Agriculture: Managing in a Strong Ag Economy.” “The economic outlook for Illinois agriculture is generally positive. High crop and livestock prices have bolstered incomes and balance sheets. In good times like these, producers can still use help managing farm businesses effectively and dealing with large risks,” said Scott Irwin, U of I professor of agricultural and consumer economics. Program speakers will discuss the direction of prices, outlook for farm returns, when to sell corn and soybeans, new tax legislation, land rents, and crop insurance choices. There will be time for questions from the audience. Each session begins at 7:45 a.m. and concludes at 1:30 p.m. The registration fee is $50 per person and includes lunch, refreshments, and all meeting materials. Pre-registration deadline is Dec. 6. Registration at the door will be $65 per person as space permits. Dates and locations are: Dec. 13 (Champaign, I Hotel and Conference Center); Dec. 14 (Sycamore, Center for Agriculture); Dec. 15 (Galesburg, Best Western Prairie Inn); Dec. 16 (Bloomington, Doubletree Hotel); and Dec. 17 (Mt. Vernon, Holiday Inn). Registration may be completed online at {www.farmdoc.illinois.edu}. Registration brochures are available at local U of I Extension offices. Additional information can be obtained by contacting Sue Esposito at 217-3335506.


FarmWeek Page 11 Monday, November 22, 2010

LIVESTOCK

Competition from other sectors could weigh on cattle prices BY DANIEL GRANT FarmWeek

Cattle prices near-term could be held in check by competing meats such as pork and poultry.

FarmWeekNow.com To view the entire cattle on feed report, visit FarmWeekNow.com.

USDA in its November cattle on feed report released Friday reported the inventory of cattle and calves on feed in the U.S. as of Nov. 1 (11.49 million head) was up 3 percent compared to last year. Meanwhile, October placements (2.5 million head) increased 1 percent from a year ago. “We aren’t really short on cattle,” said Dale Durchholz, AgriVisor market analyst. “It looks like (cattle prices) will be stuck in the high-$90 range. We’ve still got enough struggles in the economy that you can’t get too wildly bullish right now.” Durchholz believes new highs on fed cattle futures last month offset a corn price rally and were the key to higher cattle placements. Corn futures in October jumped from about $4.50 to $6 per bushel. Some traders were looking for cattle placements at even higher levels despite the jump in feed costs. “The fact that fed cattle moved to new highs helped accommodate some of the higher feed inputs we saw in October,” Durchholz said. Pork producers weren’t as fortunate in recent weeks, having endured lower prices for their products and higher feed costs. The situation could catch up to the beef market, though, in the form of increased competition. “With pork prices spiraling downward, it makes pork more attractive relative to beef (at the retail level),” Durchholz said. Competition from the poultry industry also could weigh on beef prices, according to Ron Plain, University

of Missouri ag economist. try as the increase in milk-outbushel compared to the aver“If we’re short on (affordput-per-cow was projected to age last year of $3.55. able) feed, it probably will be slip from 2.8 percent this year Overall, Durchholz still is more of a prob“somewhat lem for cattle optimistic” (producers) than ‘With pork prices spiraling downward, it about the longchicken,” Plain makes pork more attractive relative to term potential said. “The feed of the cattle beef (at the retail level).’ conversion isn’t market, particnearly as good ularly if for cattle as it is exports continfor birds.” — Dale Durchholz ue to surge. AgriVisor market analyst Plain believes U.S. beef higher feed exports the costs will limit first three quarexpansion in the livestock secto 1.3 percent next year. ters of this year were up 16 tor into 2011. The situation USDA earlier this month percent in volume and 27 perrecently was projected to lower projected corn prices this year cent in value compared to the productivity in the dairy indus- will average $4.80 to $5.60 per same time a year ago.


FarmWeek Page 12 Monday, November 22, 2010

FROM THE COUNTIES

Gallatin County Farm Bureau, FFA promote agriculture BY DAVE MEEKER

Gallatin County Farm Bureau and the Gallatin County FFA Chapter are ensuring motorists learn about agricultural production in the county. The county Farm Bureau bought signs to promote county agriculture production. The idea was developed by the Illinois Farm Bureau Public Relations Action Team.

The county Farm Bureau contacted the Illinois Department of Transportation for permits and specifications to post the signs at the county entrances. It then contacted John Sutton, the FFA adviser, and his chapter about helping with the signs. Recently Sutton and six members and volunteers helped erect the

signs, which read “Gallatin County farmers can produce safe food for 47,668 people in a year. From your county Farm Bureau.” “We hope everyone in and out of the county will appreciate the ag industry and the facts that are sometimes overlooked,” said David Meeker, county Farm Bureau manager. Dave Meeker is the manager of Gallatin and Saline County Farm Bureaus.

Gallatin County FFA adviser John Sutton operates the tractor and auger as his FFA members help install posts for a sign to promote agricultural production in the county. Left to right are FFA members Brandon Patton, Jaden Gross, Chase Baker, Kyler Bosaw, Megan Milburn, and Dustin Newton. The sign that was installed is shown in the inset in the upper left-hand corner. (Photo by Dave Meeker, Gallatin County Farm Bureau manager)


FarmWeek Page 13 Monday, November 22, 2010

FROM THE COUNTIES

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UREAU — The district caucus meeting for nominating directors will be at 10 a.m. Friday, Dec. 10, at the Farm Bureau office. Call the Farm Bureau office at 815-875-6468 for a list of vacancies or information on eligibility. HAMPAIGN — Farm Bureau will sponsor an Environmental Protection Agency rules and regulations meeting at 7 p.m. Tuesday, Nov. 30, at the Farm Bureau auditorium. Nancy Erickson, Illinois Farm Bureau director of natural and environmental resources, will be the speaker. Topics will include farm dust, fuel storage, and water regulations. Call the Farm Bureau office at 352-5235 or visit the website {www.ccfarmbureau.com} for more information. • Illinois Farm Bureau District 12 Young Leaders will sponsor the annual Illini Farm Toy Show Jan. 7-9 at the Holiday Inn, Urbana. Open room trading, farm toy consignment live auction, and a sanctioned kiddie tractor pull are the main events. Adult admission for Friday and Saturday is $3; children ages 6-12 are $2; and under 6, free. Free admission on Sunday with a free-will donation will benefit Ag in the Classroom programs. Call Alan Chesnut at 217-247-2644, Kurt Wolken at 217-202-2730, or the Cham-

paign, Douglas, or Vermilion County Farm Bureaus, or visit the website {www.ccfarmbureau.com} for more information. ASALLE — The annual LaSalle County Stockman’s Association Harvest Reward and Recognition banquet will be at 5:30 p.m. Tuesday at Celebrations Banquet Hall, Utica. A silent auction and auction of grand and reserve grand champions will be held. Cost is $20 and children 10 and under are free. Tickets are available at the Farm Credit Services office, Ottawa. Call Terry Patyk at 815368-3551 for more information. CLEAN — The McLean County Farm Bureau IMPACT Committee and Illinois State University chapter of the National Agricultural Marketing Association will sponsor an agricultural economics seminar at 7 p.m. Monday, Nov. 29, in the Old Main Room of ISU’s Bone Student Center. Michael Boehlje, professor in the department of agricultural economics and the Center for Food and Agricultural Business at Purdue University, will be the speaker. Call the Farm Bureau office at 663-6497 or e-mail anna@mcfb.org for more information. EORIA — Tickets are available for members and their families to the Bradley vs. Utah basketball game Satur-

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day, Dec. 4, at the Peoria Civic Center. Tipoff is at 7 p.m. Tickets are $4, and the seats are located in section 5C or 6. Call the Farm Bureau office for more information. ERMILION — The annual meeting will be at 6 p.m. Monday (today) at the Beef House Banquet Center, Covington, Ind. Tickets

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may be purchased at the Farm Bureau office or from a Farm Bureau director. State Rep. Bill Black (R-Danville) will be the speaker. (Due to an error, last week’s FarmWeek had the wrong time listed. Please note the correct time is 6 p.m.) OODFORD — Deadline to order Florida citrus, nuts, and cheese

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is Wednesday. Call the Farm Bureau office at 309-457-2347 for an order form or more information. “From the counties” items are submitted by county Farm Bureau managers. If you have an event or activity open to all members, contact your county Farm Bureau manager.

FARM-CITY WEEK DONATION

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Sara Bass, Bureau County ag literacy coordinator, left, and Bev Read, Bureau County Farm Bureau Women’s Committee member, pose with food items the Women’s Committee donated to the food pantry in Princeton in recognition of Farm-City Week, which began Friday and concludes Thanksgiving day. The donation comprised enough food to feed 144 people, the number of people an average U.S. farmer feeds in a year. The donation included 21 turkeys, 24 cans of sweet potatoes, 24 cans of cranberry sauce, 12 boxes of instant potatoes, 24 packages of stuffing, 42 cans of green beans, 12 packages of rolls, 12 jars of apple sauce, 15 boxes of cake mix, and 15 cans of frosting. (Photo courtesy of Bureau County Farm Bureau)

WAY TO GO! Illinois Farm Bureau® and Affiliates Youth Education Committee Congratulates

THE STATE 4-H AWARD WINNERS WHO REPRESENT ILLINOIS at the National 4-H Congress in Atlanta, Georgia, Nov. 26 – 30, 2010 Achievement Ellen Schumacher Haley Hahn Tanner Cessna Casey Schumacher Brian Buss Evan Hall Keegan Gaines Peter Prindiville Ann Clary Doris Brown Mandy Jo Bronkema Nora Kaeding

Effingham Effingham Effingham Ford-Iroquois Hancock Macon Macoupin McHenry McLean Morgan Stephenson Winnebago

Animal Sciences Ranae Brackney Danie Reece Haley Craig Katie Sandage

MY380T0

Effingham McLean McLean McLean

Community Involvement & Global Awareness

Home & Family

Eric Hansen

Larisa Sica Aleska Barkoviak

McLean

Engineering & Technology

Personal Development

Zachary Roberts Adams Addison Phillips McLean Environment & Natural Resources Evan Swiech McLean Travis Smith Will

Alexander Dennis

Food, Nutrition & Health Christine Rott Rachel Skelton Hannah Weinzierl Blair Phillips Megan Schwenk Morgan McMurtry

Kendall Logan McLean McLean McLean Will

Kane McLean

Kendall

Plants & Soils Shannon Breen

Moultrie-Douglas


FarmWeek Page 14 Monday, November 22, 2010

PROFITABILITY

Energy markets: boom or bust? Livestock margins tighten BY BRIAN HARTMAN

some erosion this fall, remain high after building stockpiles to record highs in August and September. In supply and demand terms, that should signal weaker markets. However, markets are globally traded, and the record demand from China and India offsets the high U.S. inventory. Global demand coupled with the weaker dollar should put a floor under the markets. For now, that floor seems to be $80 for crude. Long-term expectations for

tronic volume. Foreign exchange traders Harvest is done, Thanksaccounted for 67.73 percent; giving is approaching quickly, Energy traders accounted for and questions about pre-buy33.77 percent. ing fuel are flowing in. The CME Group also sugMost popgests that, on average, ular: “What’s increased proportions of algoaround the rithmic trading-sourced volcorner for the ume and message traffic tend oil market?” to be associated with Lately, the enhanced liquidity and energy marreduced volatility. Its stateket feels like a ment has some validity, but we blind corner, Brian Hartman still feel the markets will see especially folwide fluctuations. lowing the mid-term elections In May of 2010 the energy and a further round of quantimarkets did tative easing something by the Federal unusual. Oil Reserve’s FedFuel inventories, despite some erosion made a new high eral Open this fall, remain high after building and a new low in Market Committee. stockpiles to record highs in August 16 days. This new low was The Fed and September. completely unexannounced pected and went another $600 against energy billion in U.S. futures seasonal bond purchaspatterns. volatility remain high. Some es which brought our dollar Just because this happened market participants do not index to a six-month low vs. once does not change my phicare which way the markets the euro. This weaker dollar losophy. Looking back at seamove as long as there is has made most commodity sonal patterns, this year volatility. markets into a bottle rocket. included, the pattern does not In a recent study, the CME Metals, grains, and energies change much and spring purGroup announced that algohave all traded above or close chases still look like a win in rithmic or automated trading to yearly highs. There is still my book. systems have increased in use an undertone with global for their markets. demand and growth Brian Hartman is GROWIt disclosed that during prospects, but the primary MARK’s energy analyst. His ethe third quarter of this focus is still the dollar. Long mail address is bhartman@year, automated trades in term, I expect the dollar to its markets totaled 45.61 growmark.com. tightly control commodities. percent of the total elecFuel inventories, despite

despite meat exports surge BY DANIEL GRANT FarmWeek

U.S. meat exports continued to soar this year, based on the most recent sales data, but that may not be enough to bring profitability back to the pork industry. Beef exports in September jumped 30.2 percent in value and 16.6 percent in volume compared to last year. Meanwhile, the value of pork exports in September increased 10 percent compared to last year even though the volume of exports slipped 3.6 percent. “On the beef side, three markets stand out — Japan (up 29 percent compared to last year), the Middle East (up 39 percent), and South Korea (up 136 percent),” said Dan Halstrom, senior vice president of marketing and communications for the U.S. Meat Export Federation. “On the pork side, we saw dramatic growth in China.” Pork exports would’ve increased more if not for a 5 percent tariff put in place in August by Mexico. The tariff was in retaliation for the U.S. not honoring a North American Free Trade Agreement provision that would allow Mexican truckers to haul goods into the U.S. Pork exports to Mexico have declined by 20 percent since the tariff went into effect. Overall, U.S. beef exports have increased 27 percent in value, and the value of pork exports is up 9 percent through the first three quarters of the year. “The price continues to go up, so we’re getting more money for our products,” Halstrom said. Unfortunately, the price of other commodities — such as feed ingredients and energy-related products — also increased this fall and tightened the margins for most livestock producers. The average return for a pig went from $30 in September to minus-$4 in October, according to Iowa State University. “It changed in a hurry,” Ron Plain, ag economist at the University of Missouri, said of hog returns. “It was the biggest month-to-month decline ever.” Plain blamed the tighter margins in the livestock industry on higher feed costs and softer livestock prices. “We made money (in the hog industry) from March through September,” Plain said. “But I’m not looking for anymore profitable months this year.” Plain predicted hog prices will creep back up late this year and into 2011.

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USDA five-state area slaughter cattle price (Thursday’s price) Steers Heifers

This week $98.00 $98.00

Prv. week $97.92 $98.00

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CME feeder cattle index — 600-800 Lbs. This is a composite price of feeder cattle transactions in 27 states. (Prices $ per hundredweight) This week Prev. week Change 112.39 111.46 0.93

Lamb prices Slaughter Prices - Negotiated, Live, wooled and shorn 130-175 lbs. for 135157 $/cwt., dressed, no sales reported.

Export inspections (Million bushels)

Week ending Soybeans Wheat Corn 11-11-10 55.5 15.3 25.9 11-04-10 60.7 19.3 32.2 Last year 65.7 15.6 22.6 Season total 444.0 506.8 347.5 Previous season total 356.1 396.2 352.5 USDA projected total 1520 1250 2100 Crop marketing year began June 1 for wheat and Sept. 1 for corn and soybeans.

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FarmWeek Page 15 Monday, November 22, 2010

PROFITABILITY Corn Strategy

C A S H S T R AT E G I S T

Chinese policy changes We may have seen the first of many monetary policy changes in China. The unexpected surge in inflation, especially in foodstuffs, triggered the second increase in bank reserve requirements in the last three weeks. And the increases may have been a pre-emptive move for what lies ahead. It may be difficult to fathom, but the pace of growth may be causing the Chinese more problems than we can fathom. 2009’s GDP (gross domestic product) was nearly four times as large as it was at the beginning of the decade. And the rate of growth is slightly larger than it was then. China’s GDP grew 8.4 percent in 2000. In the third quarter of 2010, China’s GDP was growing at a 10.6 percent pace. That pace of growth, in an economy four times larger, brings more problems than it does with a smaller economy. The overall inflation, especial-

Basis charts

ly the 10.1 percent foodstuff inflation rate, may be symptomatic of other problems that aren’t readily apparent. Simply, it looks as though demand is outrunning the ability to supply those needs. And one could argue it’s outrunning the world’s ability to meet the Chinese demand for commodity goods, too, grain included. Given that, we wouldn’t rule out a conscious decision to slow the rate of growth to a more sustainable level commensurate with the size it is today. While there aren’t any signs yet showing the rate of grain imports is changing, the situation suggests it’s an idea worth considering. A shift in Chinese monetary policy might be what the action in commodity indices is implying. A couple of weeks ago, we indicated that the major indices had reached to critical levels. When the news broke that China raised bank reserve requirements and inflation was higher than expected, commodity prices and the indices immediately turned down. All of the indices, the Continuous Commodity Index included, scored strong reversal downs two weeks ago. And, further losses followed last week. Because those reversals came at important benchmarks, and there was downside followthrough, it tilted the odds in the favor of their short-term trends turning down. Maybe just as important is that threeyear lows are due in commodity indices mid-2011, hinting we may have seen the larger trends turn down, too. And that doesn’t bode well for commodity prices, grain included. AgriVisor endorses crop insurance by

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2010 crop: The close above $5.35 on the December contract hints a recovery may have started, but it’s not assured. Eventually, March futures could trade up to $5.70, but the pattern doesn’t favor new highs. Wait on a rebound to price remaining bushels you have to sell. Hedge-to-arrive (HTA) contracts for winter/spring delivery may be the best marketing tool, but because carry has diminished, check prices against the cost of ownership. 2011 crop: The gross income per acre offered by new-crop prices is too large not to initiate new-crop sales. Still, we’d temporarily wait for December 2011 futures to move above $5.25. Fundamentals: Ongoing hopes for Chinese purchases are putting a floor under the corn market. The daily swing in the dollar’s value seems to be the ingredient behind the daily breaks and rallies. Amid this, end-of-year profit taking by the hedge funds and the pending rebalancing by the index funds could keep prices from reaching the recent peak.

Soybean Strategy 2010 crop: China talk remains a key background influence, but in the wake of this week’s announcement that the Chinese are going to take measures to slow food inflation and crack down on speculation, that is more uncertain. Still, there’s a possibility new highs might come but maybe not until later in the winter, if at all. Wrap up sales if January hits $12.60. 2011 crop: Gross income per acre is too large not to make an initial sale. Having 20 percent priced is a good risk-management strategy, but we’d wait for November 2011 futures to rally past $11.75. Fundamentals: The latest export sales were good, but Chinese purchases were made before they announced coming policy changes. That could alter their pace of buying, especially with so many bushels already on the books. Brazilian weather is good, but a drier

pattern is causing some planting problems in Argentina. Keep an eye on that situation.

Wheat Strategy 2010 crop: The recent performance suggests the market may have established a short-term bottom. Prices flirted with $6, a level with substantial support. Upside resistance starts at the $6.65 level. If you still have inventories, wrap up sales if December rebounds to $7. HTA contracts for winter delivery still appear the best marketing tool. 2011 crop: Use rallies to $7.30 on Chicago July 2011

futures for catch-up sales. If basis is wide compared to this past summer, consider a HTA contract. Fundamentals: The recent break in wheat prices triggered more aggressive buying in the export sector, but they still significantly lag the needed pace. Last week’s sales, 986,900 metric tons (36 million bushels), were above expectations for 400,000 to 600,000 tons. Dry conditions in the western Great Plains remains supportive, although some locations did receive modest rainfall. Still, weather next spring will prove to have the most impact on final yields.


FarmWeek Page 16 Monday, November 22, 2010

PERSPECTIVES

Insect advice columnist takes on the bed bugs

Making an

IMPACT It’s not your parents’ AITC A high school teacher recently assigned her students a research project about sustainable agriculture based on their comparison of the “Meatrix,” an animated film about a livestock “factory farm” vs. a local, organic farm. Fortunately, the teacher applied to the Cook County Farm Bureau Agriculture in the Classroom (AITC) for a grant to buy fresh agricultural products so her students could prepare food. Haley Loy-Siergiej, the county Farm Bureau’s ag literacy director, brought KAY the teacher’s appliSHIPMAN cation to county Farm Bureau manager Bob Rohrer. “We said, ‘Wow. That’s not really a good illustration of modern agriculture,’” Rohrer said. “We can turn our back on this (request) or say, ‘Here’s a fair view of modern agriculture,’ and that’s what we did.” Loy-Siergiej helped locate a livestock farmer who will work with the teacher so her students hear from a real farmer — not cartoon animals. This time, the students will get information about farming from a reliable source, but Rohrer speculated about others who had the same assignment over the years. “You wonder how many students have left that classroom with that kind of skewed knowledge,” he said. Today, some ag literacy coordinators and volunteer farmers not only explain how crops and livestock are raised, they also put a human face on the men and women who farm. That need was made evident by county ag literacy coordinators and elementary teachers who spoke at

Sandy Prather of Schuyler County Farm Bureau is one of many Agriculture in the Classroom volunteers who helps students, such as these fourth graders at Chicago’s St. Mary’s Star of the Sea school, better understand farmers and modern agriculture. (FarmWeek file photo)

a recent meeting of state agriculture education leaders. “Our farmers have become faceless,” said Rhodora Collins, DeKalb County Farm Bureau AITC coordinator. “The only time we see them is (during) a food scare, and they’re (viewed as) the villains.” It’s easy to mislabel members of a group if you’ve never met any of them. That’s where AITC is helping. Understanding and mutual respect between farmers and consumers are two benefits that come from AITC programs and outreach efforts. Consumers are less likely to think badly of farmers if they know those individuals are sincere and strive to do the right thing. Understanding and respect also are two byproducts farmers reap from Summer Ag Institutes and other efforts that help teachers learn about modern farming. “One teacher (involved with AITC) said she would never look at another farmer the same way again,” Collins said of the teacher’s positive reaction. Elizabeth Christian, assistant director of Concordia University’s early childhood education center, described the impact on educators attending a Summer Ag Institute: “All those teachers were floored ... Some of their ideas about ag did a 360 (degree turn) or somewhere in between. “We’re seeing a lot of misconceptions — brown eggs are organic, but white eggs are processed,” Christian cited as an example. Illinois educators aren’t the only ones who are concerned about consumers’ misconceptions about farming. U.S. Deputy Agriculture Secretary Kathleen Merrigan expressed similar thoughts to FarmWeek during a recent Chicago visit.

“There are so many misconceptions about American agriculture that we really need to take this moment in time ... to have a robust discussion that leads to a bettereducated consumer,” Merrigan said. Consumers’ misconceptions combined with misinformation threaten livestock production, according to Merrigan. “I have been very concerned about some of the referendum initiatives across the country on humane (animal) care ... I’m one of the strongest spokespersons right now to say, ‘Some of this that’s going on is ill-informed and is going to wipe out livestock agriculture as we know it,’” she said. That’s where AITC and the reliable information it provides educators and students are so valuable. A teacher who attended a Summer Ag Institute later turned to LoySiergiej for correct answers after reading online comments about “Food Inc.,” a controversial film about farming and agribusiness. “That’s what we’re (AITC) doing,” Loy-Siergiej said. Those on the education frontlines who are confronting so-called “documentaries” about farming and livestock production want accurate information, or “ammunition,” as Loy-Siergiej put it. Farm Bureau members who attend the Illinois Farm Bureau annual meeting Dec. 4-7 may support AITC by participating in the live and silent auctions and the trivia contest. During this Thanksgiving holiday, farmers should be thankful for AITC staff and volunteers. And consider making a donation to the program — it may save your bacon. Kay Shipman is the FarmWeek legislative affairs editor. Her e-mail address is kayship@ilfb.org.

Dear Miss Ladybug: We bed bugs have been getting a lot of negative press lately. I know humans don’t like us sneaking out at night in search of a nice blood meal, but shouldn’t we get a little love for being the insects that provided the name bug for the English language? — BUGGED BUG Dear Bugged: For sure, the term bug is based on the Welsh word for ghost that was used to describe your ancestors. But don’t hold your breath waiting for humans to show appreciation for your kind. Sleep tight and don’t let the ... Well, you know the rest of TOM that story. TURPIN Dear Miss Ladybug: What’s the deal with that fuzzy black- and brownbanded woollyworm that I saw crawling around the other day? He was carrying a sign that said, “Severe Winter Ahead!” Is he protesting global warming or what? — JUST CURIOUS Dear Curious: That woollyworm is Isia Isabella. Those woollybear caterpillars are thought by some to be prognosticators of winter severity. Wider black bands supposedly indicate severe winters. As it turns out, woollyworms are no better at predicting winter severity than ground hogs are at predicting the arrival of spring. Neither can do the job. But I’ll bet the woollyworm doesn’t care about accuracy anymore than most sign-toting protestors. Dear Miss Ladybug: I’m a monarch butterfly and the other day a redwing blackbird looked at me and shouted, “You just make my craw wretch!” Should I be offended at such a crass remark? — MIFFED MONARCH Dear Miffed : Well that is a true statement, but I would consider it a compliment. After all, you monarchs garner a chemical from your milkweed host plants that causes birds to vomit when they try to make a meal out of you. Your color pattern advertises this fact to insect-eaters such as birds. For that you ought to be very happy. Next time just say, “I’m glad you noticed!” Dear Miss Ladybug: I am a male honey bee and live in a colony with thousands of sisters and hundreds of brothers. All of us are sons and daughters of our mother, the queen. Last week some of our sisters started making fun of us boys. They taunted us by saying, “You boys don’t have a father, but we girls do!” I think those girls are just making this up. Am I correct? — DOUBTING DRONE Dear Doubting : I know it is going to be tough on your male ego, but your sisters are correct. In honey bee genetics female bees are the result of fertilized eggs and, therefore, have a father and a mother. On the other hand, honey bee males come from unfertilized eggs and, therefore, have a mother but no father. If it makes you feel better, you do have a grandfather — your mother’s father. Dear Miss Ladybug: I am a giant water bug and live in an aquarium exhibit at a zoo. The other day some human visitors pointed at me and said, “Look, an electric-light bug!” I’m accustomed to having people point and ask, “What is that?” But where do you suppose those zoo visitors came up with such a name? — SHOCKED AT THE ZOO Dear Shocked : You are a victim of a widespread human practice of giving common names to plants and animals. Common names vary from place to place and several such names exist for most creatures. So your name of giant water bug is based on the fact that you and your relatives are true bugs, are large, and live in water. The name electric-light bug is based on the fact that some of your type insects leave the water and fly around electric pole lights. I hope this illuminates the subject to your satisfaction. Confidential note to Miss Mosquito : If you really want to be liked, stop whining when you are around people. And cutting out the biting remarks might also help! Tom Turpin is an entomology professor at Purdue University, West Lafayette, Ind. His e-mail address is turpin@purdue.edu.


FarmWeek November 22 2010