Page 1

it’s not everyDay you see a combine going through a field with armed sheriff ’s police in tow, but that scene presented itself recently in Kankakee County. .......2

UrBan MoMs discovered talking with farm families resulted in “shining a light on the truth” for them. The moms met recently with farmers from Northern Illlinois. ...5

WHat are tHese weirdlooking things? Here’s a hint: They may be roasting on someone’s open fire this Christmas season. ...................................................8

Monday, October 24, 2011

Two sections Volume 39, No. 43

Farm bill possible by Christmas? BY MARTIN ROSS FarmWeek

Periodicals: Time Valued

A farm bill draft is expected well before Thanksgiving, with lawmakers possibly delivering a final package — sans direct payments — by Christmas. That’s according to Illinois Farm Bureau President Philip Nelson, who noted “a lot’s going on in Washington.” House and Senate ag committees have submitted a proposed $23 billion, 10-year spending cut for review by a 12member congressional “super committee” charged with finding at least $1.2 trillion in longterm deficit savings by late November. Few details were available regarding specific program cuts, but American Farm Bureau Federation (AFBF) policy specialist Mary Kay Thatcher told FarmWeek committee leaders agreed to “total elimination” of direct payments. Further, Nelson noted proposals for a major “pullback” in conservation spending. Thatcher now expects ag lawmakers to “pick and choose” elements from various farm bill program options, including individual “shallow loss” revenue protections sup-

ported by Springfield Democrat and Senate Majority Leader Dick Durbin, Sen. Kent Conrad (D-N.D.), and corn and soybean groups. “We believe we’re going to write the farm bill between now and Nov. 1,” she said. “The belief is the committees wouldn’t be going to all this work to write the entire farm bill if the super committee hadn’t indicated it was something it was willing to give serious consideration to.” AFBF Friday submitted its own revenue-based “Systemic Risk Reduction” program proposal reportedly aimed at helping farmers deal with “large systemic risk issues” rather than “smaller fluctuations in income” that can result from average weather and market events. AFBF’s program would provide farmers “area-based coverage” using county level yield data as the area payment trigger. In counties in which data are limited, a crop reporting district or other geographical region would be used. While the program would be similar to the current Average Crop Revenue Election (ACRE) approach, AFBF President Bob Stallman argued it represents a “radical shift in the structure of government support.” “This approach to the safety net concept is to provide farmers with more down-side protection and allow them to deal with

the upside end of the risk profile on their own,” Stallman said. The House/Senate ag committees’ plan included no cuts in crop insurance spending. IFB’s Board of Directors recently signed off on IFB Farm Policy Task Force (FPTF) recommendations to bolster crop insurance premium subsidies and strengthen insurance protections. “We want to keep crop insurance whole,” Nelson stressed. The task force also supported efforts to improve existing program revenue protections, with more timely farm pay-

ments based on regional rather than state-level triggers. Beyond general revenue protections, Thatcher sees likely farm bill inclusion of dairy program measures reflecting Rep. Collin Peterson’s (D-Minn.) support for new margin loss protections aimed at helping producers cope with feed price volatility and restructuring of federal milk market orders. An accelerated farm bill timetable poses a quandary for IFB’s Resolutions Committee, which convenes next week to refine proposed farm policies

for member debate at the organization’s December annual meeting. But FPTF Chairman Darryl Brinkmann was hopeful final congressional provisions would come down “somewhat along the guidelines of the Farm Policy Task Force and what the delegates come out with.” “The ag committees have been bipartisan; they’ve been open-minded,” he said. “They’ve listened to agriculture and taken our input. We don’t have that on the super committee.”

WEIGHING IN

Jim Sutton, right, manager of Earlville Co-Op Inc. in LaSalle County, talked with farmer Darrel Carr of rural Mendota while Carr’s grain carts were being weighed after being unloaded. Soybeans harvest is 90 percent complete in the area with yields ranging from 60 to 80 bushels per acre. Sutton described the quality of soybeans this year as excellent with higher-than-average test weights. Corn harvest is about 25 percent complete with moisture averaging 18 percent. (Photo by Ken Kashian)

Jackson says no dust rules, but process not over Farmers and farm state lawmakers were gratified last week after U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Administrator Lisa Jackson rejected the idea of stringent new “farm dust” regulation. But with new federal “particulate” rules subject to further federal input and public comment, American Farm Bureau Federation regulatory specialist Rick Krause urges Congress to maintain efforts designed to prevent EPA from — as Illinois Farm Bureau board member Richard Ochs puts it — “going up the wrong trail.” In a letter to Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-

Minn.), Jackson stated she would support retaining EPA’s existing PM-10 “fine particulate matter” standard without revision, “based on my consideration of the scientific record, analysis provided by EPA scientists, and advice from the Clean Air Science Advisory Council.” EPA is required to review particulate standards every five years, and ag groups have feared EPA might draft new rules governing larger “coarse” particulates (dust) possibly limiting ag activity or even use of rural gravel roads. Krause reported EPA officials “have decided not to make things any worse.”

FarmWeek on the web: FarmWeekNow.com

Ag concerns spurred House/Senate proposals to prohibit EPA from revising the PM10 standard for at least a year and exempt dust from “normal” rural activities from federal Clean Air Act regulation. U.S. Collinsville Republican House Energy and Commerce Committee member John Shimkus hailed Jackson’s decision as “a positive step by the administration to reduce regulatory uncertainty in our economy,” calling the notion of regulating farm dust “absurd.” See Dust, page 4

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


FarmWeek Page 2 Monday, October 24, 2011

in the news

Quick takes ACTING AG DIRECTOR NAMED — Jim Larkin, an 8-year employee of the Illinois Departm e n t o f A g r i c u l t u r e ( I D OA ) , w a s appointed acting agriculture director last week. Larkin succeeded Tom Jennings who retired on Oct. 18. Most recently Larkin served as head of IDOA’s agricultural products inspection bureau. He brings a strong agricultural background to the job. A McLean County farm native, Larkin Jim Larkin lives in rural Towanda. He managed a 680acre farm and founded Agri-Fire, a business that develops and markets corn-burning heating appliances before he accepted a job with the state in 2001. He began working at IDOA in 2003 and was promoted to bureau chief within a year. EXTENSION FOR WORKER COMMENTS? – The American Farm Bureau Federation and other ag groups filed a request last week with the U.S. Labor Department seeking extension of the comment period deadline for the department’s proposed ag youth labor regulations. The groups are asking that the deadline be changed from Nov. 1 to Jan. 1. “We are uniformly concerned not only with the breadth of the proposed changes but also with our ability to comment in a meaningful way on the proposal in the time period allowed,” the groups stressed. “Should the proposed rule be promulgated in its current form, it would entail sweeping changes in current private and commercial agricultural practices, coupled with an increase in legal liability to farm and ranch families,” they maintained. U.S. Sens. Jerry Moran (R-Kan.) and Ben Nelson (DNeb.) and Rep. Denny Rehberg (R-Mont.) sent a letter to colleagues seeking congressional support for an extension. TRUCKING FLAP RESOLVED — The National Pork Producers Council (NPPC) praised U.S. and Mexican governments for following through in resolving a longstanding trucking/trade dispute. Mexico last week lifted tariffs on U.S. exports, including pork, as the U.S. government granted the first permit to a Mexican trucking firm to haul goods into the United States. The two governments in July signed an agreement resolving the issue, with the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) crafting a cross-border trucking program and the Mexican government cutting retaliatory tariffs by 50 percent. Remaining tariffs were suspended after DOT issued the trucking permit. “America’s pork producers are very pleased that the United States issued the first Mexican trucking permit, which has led ... to the Mexican government removing the remaining retaliatory tariffs on our products,” said NPPC President Doug Wolf. “Mexico is a very important market for the U.S. pork industry and for many other sectors. More than 6 million U.S. jobs depend on trade with Mexico.”

(ISSN0197-6680) Vol. 39 No. 43

October 24, 2011

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

Address subscription and advertising questions to FarmWeek, P.O. Box 2901, Bloomington, IL 61702-2901. Periodicals postage paid at Bloomington, Illinois, and at an additional mailing office. POSTMASTER: Send change of address notices on Form 3579 to FarmWeek, P.O. Box 2901, Bloomington, IL 61702-2901. Farm Bureau members should send change of addresses to their local county Farm Bureau. © 2011 Illinois Agricultural Association

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

Richard Verdery (rverdery@ilfb.org) Classified sales coordinator

Nan Fannin (nfannin@ilfb.org) Director of News and Communications

Dennis Vercler Advertising Sales Representatives

Hurst and Associates, Inc. P.O. Box 6011, Vernon Hills, IL 60061 1-800-397-8908 (advertising inquiries only) Gary White - Northern Illinois Doug McDaniel - Southern Illinois Editorial phone number: 309-557-2239 Classified advertising: 309-557-3155 Display advertising: 1-800-676-2353

Mark Tanner, Kankakee County Farm Bureau board member, harvests corn as two Kankakee County sheriff’s deputies, armed with automatic rifles, ride along (one inside the cab with Tanner). All three are wearing Kevlar vests. A fugitive hid in the cornfield so authorities asked Tanner to open up the field to flush him out. The tactic worked — the unarmed fugitive emerged from the field after four hours in hiding and peacefully turned himself in to police, who had the field surrounded. (Photo by Mike Voss, The Daily Journal of Kankakee)

Farmer clears cornfield to help capture fugitive BY DANIEL GRANT FarmWeek

An impromptu harvest of a 65-acre cornfield in Kankakee County earlier this month yielded much more than 170bushel corn. The harvest, which was initiated at the request of the Kankakee County sheriff ’s police, also flushed out a fugitive who took refuge in the stalks. A 19-year-old Kankakee man allegedly ran from police after a traffic stop and hid in a standing cornfield owned by Mark Tanner of Tanner Farms in Kankakee. Police surrounded the field but initial attempts to locate the suspect were unsuccessful. Authorities, who reportedly used a canine unit and airplane during the manhunt, decided to employ a different strategy. “We had just started corn harvest (at a different location) that morning (Oct. 12) when I got a phone call,” Tanner told FarmWeek. “A (police officer) told me a suspect ran in my field and (authorities) had it surrounded. And, rather than damage my field, (the officer) asked if I could come over with my combine” and clear away as much of the corn as possible. Tanner, a Kankakee County Farm Bureau board member, responded immediately but didn’t consider the seriousness of the situation until he arrived on the scene in his combine. “It didn’t sound like a big deal to me at the time (of the request),” Tanner said. “It didn’t hit home what I had gotten myself into until I had to put on a bullet-proof vest.” Two officers, both armed with automatic rifles, then climbed onto the combine with Tanner as he began harvesting.

“I got the field opened up and we decided to make 24row strips,” said Tanner, who later was assisted by farm worker Dick Jensen, who drove a combined owned by nearby Schaeffer farms. The fugitive, after a fourhour standoff, eventually was cornered in one of the 24-row strips and he decided to exit the cornfield and surrender peacefully. The fugitive, coincidentally, exited on the side of the field that was across the road from the Jerome Combs Detention Center. “He walked out of the end

of the field right next to the jail,” Tanner said. “I’ve been farming for 30 years and never had something like this happen,” he continued. “I’m happy it turned out as good as it did.” The fugitive was charged with a parole violation, resisting a peace officer, and fleeing and attempting to elude police. Meanwhile, harvest has continued without incident for Tanner since that eventful day. His yields so far have ranged from 150 to 170 bushels per acre for corn and 40 to 65 bushels for beans.

Illinois groups awarded farmers’ market grants USDA recently awarded grants to four Illinois groups to promote farmers’ markets. Nationwide, 149 grants were awarded in 42 states. Lt. Gov. Sheila Simon, who chairs the Governor’s Rural Affairs Council, noted the council is working to eliminate barriers to local food production. The council met last week in Carterville. “This funding will help local food producers grow their operations and provide greater access to local foods,” Simon said. Southern Illinois University received $81,058 to create a Farmers Market Association that will provide professional development, resources, and support for farmers, markets, and communities. The project will include development of a farmers’ market manager training manual and a statewide database to connect farmers to markets. Another Southern Illinois group, Food Works of Carbondale, received $89,648 to conduct a comprehensive training and mentoring program for 60 new farmers and ranchers in Southern Illinois. The goal is to establish farmers’ markets, roadside stands, and other direct-marketing venues. Growing Home Inc., Chicago, received $79,300 to establish a new farm stand for its urban farm, to buy refrigeration equipment and other marketing supplies, and to conduct educational programs. Faith in Place, Chicago, received $39,270 to help expand its 15 Chicago-area winter farmers’ markets and support development of a congregational-supported agriculture program in Champaign. The USDA grants may be used to improve and expand farmers’ markets, roadside stands, community-supported agriculture programs, agritourism activities, and other direct farmer-to-consumer market opportunities.


Page 3 Monday, October 24, 2011 FarmWeek

STATE

Rutherford: Real debt ‘fix’ must include state pensions

Illinois Treasurer Dan Rutherford describes revisions that he made to the state’s agriculture link-deposit program as Illinois Farm Bureau President Philip Nelson looks on. Rutherford announced the changes during a news conference last week at IFB headquarters in Bloomington. (Photo by Ken Kashian)

Treasurer makes ‘user-friendly’ changes to state Ag Invest link-deposit program institutions are on board, they (the farmers) have no one” to lend them the money, Illinois Treasurer Dan Rutherford last Rutherford said. week rolled out more “user-friendly” The timing of the changes couldn’t be changes to the state’s ag link-deposit probetter for farmers, Illinois Farm Bureau gram, six months after he first revised Ag President Philip Nelson explained. Invest. “We’re prepaying and buying inputs for Rutherford found Ag Invest “was not a corn and soybean crops and livestock operacompetitive program with what the market tions. They will be the second-most expensive could deliver” after he became treasurer, he inputs that we have seen in recent history,” said during a press conference at the Illinois Nelson said. “This is a critical element — to Farm Bureau headquarters in give farmers access to capital.” Bloomington. Under the new terms, eligible FarmWeekNow.com He noted he had farmers may borrow up to assessed changes that were Go to FarmWeekNow.com. to $300,000 and eligible farm operaview video of Treasurer Ruther- tions may borrow up to $600,000 made in April and decided ford’s Ag Invest news confer- for an annual revolving line of more revisions were needence. credit at a maximum of 3.74 pered. cent. The latest revisions The previous limits were $120,000 and include increased loan limits for individual $240,000, respectively. farmers and farm operations, lower interest For a long-term loan an eligible farmer may rates for borrowers, and a streamlined appliborrow up to $200,000 at a maximum 4.12 cation process. percent for the first two years with repricing Rutherford emphasized the state is not for the final three years of a five-year loan. loaning farmers money but is depositing The money that Rutherford is investing in state funds in participating financial institutions that determine farmer borrowers’ cred- link-deposit programs comes from a now-$10 billion state portfolio, the treasurer explained. it worthiness and make the loans. For more information about the Ag Invest “Our real customer is the financial instiprogram, call the treasurer’s office at 217-557tution. If they aren’t in, it doesn’t matter if 6436 or e-mail AgInvest@treasurer.state.il.us. farmers are interested. Unless the financial BY KAY SHIPMAN FarmWeek

Illinois faces a massive problem in funding state employee pensions. How massive is it? Illinois Treasurer Dan Rutherford described the problem in simple terms: “The amount of the income tax increase of 2011 — the amount that (tax) raised in 2011 — was the amount of the pension payment ... Now, you can’t raise the income tax that way every year.” Rutherford discussed the budget and state debt after announcing changes to the treasurer’s ag link-deposit program. If nothing is done before the end of the 2012 fiscal year, the state is expected to be about $8 billion in debt, according to state reports. The treasurer told FarmWeek he plans to voluntarily cut his office’s budget, but said such reductions won’t solve the state’s debt if the state employee pension issues are not addressed. “We have to get a handle on spending and we have to get a handle on the state public pension system,” Rutherford said. “The real fix cannot come until we address the pension system.” Rutherford also does not favor the state borrowing its way out of the situation. “We had an income tax increase; we haven’t paid our current bills. We’ve got a state that is dramatically in debt, and now the answer is to go out and borrow money? No,” he said. — Kay Shipman

Public ideas about education sought in online state survey

Do you have ideas on how public schools and districts can be more efficient? The Classrooms First Commission, chaired by Lt. Gov. Sheila Simon, is conducting an online survey to gather innovative and practical ideas to improve school and district efficiency while preserving and

enhancing classroom learning opportunities. The survey may be found online at {www.ltgov.il.gov}. Suggestions may address individual schools, districts, multiple districts, and collaborations among school districts and other organizations, regions, or the entire state.

NEIGHBORS PITCH IN

Central area farm-to-school summit planned A summit on farm-toschool programs in the Sangamon County area will be from 9:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. Nov. 5 in Lincoln Land Community College’s Trutter Center, Springfield. The Springfield Area Local Food Task Force is organizing the event. The goal is to improve child nutrition, support local

agriculture, and integrate school gardening into curriculum. Speakers will include a principal, food service director, teacher, parent, and others who have implemented farmto-school projects across Illinois. The registration fee is $15 and includes a meal of locally grown foods. Registration

details and more information is online at {www.ilstewards.org}. The summit is sponsored by the Springfield Area Local Food Task Force comprised of the Gen H Coalition, the Green Center at Lincoln Land Community College, Illinois Stewardship Alliance, St. John’s Hospital, and the University of Illinois Extension.

At the suggestion of farmer-neighbor Leonard Armstrong, he and 12 other Mercer County farmers gathered on the rural Aledo farm of Dan Lloyd Oct. 12 and harvested about 150 acres of Lloyd’s soybeans in four hours. Lloyd, second from left holding a cane, recently had foot surgery and was unable to help with the harvest. In all, the 13 farmers used four combines, tractors, grain carts, and six semis to get the beans out of the field. Lloyd said he appreciated the generosity of his neighbors. Looking on with Lloyd, from left, are Steve Staker, Tim Reusch, and Ron Kerres, all of Aledo. (Photo courtesy of Mercer County Farm Bureau)


FarmWeek Page 4 Monday, October 24, 2011

gOvErNmENT

Yield option offers potentially higher protection BY MARTIN ROSS FarmWeek

USDA’s Risk Management Agency (RMA) will allow Illinois producers to effectively rewrite history, if the math works for them. Beginning next season, RMA will offer corn and soybean crop policyholders in nearly all Illinois counties the option of adjusting their actual production history (APH) ideally to better reflect more recent county yield trends. A higher APH generally translates into a higher insurance guarantee.

The new Trend-Adjusted APH Yield Option will be available for individual yield or revenue policies in selected counties in Illinois, Colorado, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Michigan, Missouri, Minnesota, North Dakota, Nebraska, Ohio, South Dakota, and Wisconsin. Each eligible county will be assigned an individual trend yield adjustment based on annual National Agricultural Statistics Service (NASS) county yield estimates — perhaps two bushels per acre per year in

POTENTIAL CONSTITUENTS

one county, 1 1/2 in another. All Illinois counties will offer a soybean adjustment; no option is available for corn in Cook, DuPage, or Hardin counties. Those counties did not have adequate NASS yield data for adjustments in the first year of the option. The Illinois Corn Marketing Board developed the plan along with the financial consulting firm Integrated Financial Analytics and Research. University of Illinois helped refine proposed statewide adjustments. Though it will come with at least a slight increase in individual premium, based on the prospect of higher guarantees, the yield option offers net advantages for many producers, said Illinois Farm Bureau risk management specialist Doug Yoder. However, bottom line ben-

efits will depend on traditional area yield variability and other individual circumstances. “For your APH, you may need a minimum of four and up to 10 years’ history,” Yoder noted. “But if you think about 50-50 crop rotations — one year I plant corn, the next year I plant beans, back and forth — those 10 years of corn history may be 20 years of data, because every other year is corn. “Our yield trends have jumped up dramatically in the last five to 10 years, because of technology advances. From what we’ve seen thus far, I think most Illinois corn farmers are going to be very interested in this. “The fairly small increase in premium rates this would bring about is more than made up for with the higher guarantees they’d be achieving.”

To be eligible for the option, a grower must have at least one proven yield for a given crop over the past four years. If McLean County offers a two-bushel adjustment factor, a producer with four or more actual yields over the past 12 years would receive 100 percent of that adjustment per year of history. Growers with one proven yield would receive 25 percent of the adjustment, while those with two years of APH would receive 50 percent and those with three could take a 75 percent adjustment. The yield option will not be available for producers using county-based Group Risk Plan or Group Risk Income Protection policies. RMA will publish program details later this fall on its website {www.rma.usda.gov}.

double whammy under coarse particulate controls. “I don’t know how you could have regulated our dust

stop the ‘dust’ blowing out. “We have dirt roads in some areas. How are we going to regulate the dust coming up on a dirt

Dust

Chicago Democrat U.S. Rep. Jesse Jackson Jr., left, chats with Paul Johnson and his daughter, Paula Karlock, at the family’s Momence farm last week. Under a proposed 2012-21 congressional map now under court review, Jackson’s 2nd District would be expanded to include all of Kankakee County and part of eastern Will County. Jackson met with Kankakee County Farm Bureau and representatives of Grant Park Cooperative Grain Co. to discuss ag and rural issues. (Photo by Illinois Farm Bureau National Legislative Director Adam Nielsen)

Continued from page 1 However, EPA still must submit recommendations for review by the administration’s Office of Management and Budget and public comment prior to approval of a final rule. Even if EPA proposals survive public comment unscathed, Krause acknowledged “there’s always a possibility somebody could challenge that final rule,” possibly in court. Thus, he argues lawmakers should “press forward” with legislative efforts to pre-empt federal dust regulation. As a Southern Illinois cattle and grain producer, IFB’s Ochs could face a

‘I don’t know how you could have regulated our dust over the last two or three weeks with no rain.’ — Richard Ochs Illinois Farm Bureau Board member

over the last two or three weeks with no rain,” he said last week. “When the material comes through the combine, there’s nothing we can do to

road or a gravel road? Maybe we need to bring the folks from Washington to the rural areas and let them see how things are in real life.” — Martin Ross

Senators urge Superfund livestock exemption

Last week, U.S. Sens. Roy Blunt (R-Mo.) and Mike Crapo (R-Idaho) introduced measures to clearly exempt livestock manure and nutrients from liability and potential regulation under the federal “Superfund’s” Comprehensive Environmental Response Compensation and Liability Act (CERCLA). The Superfund Common-Sense Act of 2011 would block any required reporting of manure emissions by livestock and poultry producers under CERCLA and the Emergency Planning and Community Right to Know Act. CERCLA was passed in 1980 to regulate toxic waste sites and hazardous spills, but subsequent lawsuits periodically have threatened to bring animal operations into the regulatory fold.

Superfund liability could affect farm insurability, and producers who field-apply manure could be held liable for cumulative runoff. In a “Dear Colleague” letter, Blunt and Crapo told other senators legislation was needed because of renewed pressure on the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. “Organic manure and poultry litter were never intended by Congress to be regulated under CERCLA,” they wrote. “Despite this, some have worked to increase the law’s reach by attempting to convince courts that livestock and poultry producers should be subject to CERCLA liability for storm water discharges associated with the use of animal manure and poultry litter as fertilizer on farmland.”

USDA seeks trade advisory committee members

USDA is seeking new members for its trade advisory committees. Members of these committees provide advice to the secretary of agriculture and the U.S. Trade Representative based on their experience in international trade. The committees are consulted regularly regarding ongoing negotiations, implementation of existing agreements, and other issues related

to international trade. Nominations are accepted any time and appointments are made periodically, generally for four years. More information about membership criteria and nomination procedures is available online at {http://www.fas.usda.gov/itp/apac-atacs/advisorycommittees.asp}. Questions may be directed to Steffon Brown or Bob Spitzer at 202-720-6219.


Page 5 Monday, October 24, 2011 FarmWeek

CONSUMER ISSUES

Conversations ‘shining a light on the truth’ for field moms

Kane County dairyman Dale Drendel, right, explains the milking process to Farrah Brown, left, Glendale Heights, and Angel Ishmael, Chicago, during a recent tour of his Hampshire milking parlor. The two women joined five other “field moms” selected by the Illinois Farm Families for farm tours. (Photos by Ken Kashian)

BY KAY SHIPMAN FarmWeek

DeKalb County farmer Lynn Martz, left, describes grain and other cattle feed ingredients to “field moms” Farrah Brown, right, Glendale Heights, and Angel Ishmael, Chicago, second from right. Illinois Farm Families hosted seven field moms for a tour of Mike and Lynn Martz’s farm and Dale and Linda Drendel’s Kane County dairy.

What moms want to know about farmers and farming The “field moms” who toured the Mike Martz and the Dale Drendel farms with Illinois Farm Families asked many questions. Below is a sample of questions the farm families addressed during the tours. • How do cows know when it’s time to be milked? • What happens to the culled animals? What are they used for? • At the grocery store why is there a $4 spread of milk prices across the brands of milk? Is this marketing or does it have to do with quality or grade (of milk)? • Are hormones in milk related to girls developing earlier? • Why isn’t your farm organic? • What’s in the different feed and how does it make up their (cattle) diet? • How does winter wheat grow in the snow? • Why do you dry corn? • What is the difference between grass-fed and corn- or grain-fed beef ? Is one better for the cattle? What are the benefits for the consumer? • How do you keep track of each cow and how much it eats?

Two Illinois farm families and seven Chicago-area moms recently exchanged valuable information that went beyond the nuts-and-bolts of milking dairy cows, growing crops, and raising beef cattle. “To hear the words directly from the people who care for the cows and grow the grain ... This was shining a light on the truth,” Farrah Brown, a Glendale Heights mother of two, told FarmWeek. “I feel so grateful for how much effort and work is put into producing healthy food at a reasonable cost for me and my family.” The words Brown heard were spoken by DeKalb County farmers Mike and Lynn Martz and Kane County farmers Dale and Linda Drendel. The Martzes and Drendels hosted the field moms who were selected from among online applicants to Illinois Farm Families, a state ag coalition. On Oct. 15, the group toured the Martzes’ grain and beef cattle farm near Maple Park and the Drendels’ dairy near Hampshire. Giving farm tours and answering visitors’ questions were not new experiences for either farm family, but they noted the field moms asked many good questions, took notes, and were attentive. (See accompanying story for a sampling of questions) “I thought they were open minded and wanted to learn,” said Linda Drendel. “They weren’t as negative as I thought they would be,” added her husband, Dale. Learning facts was high on the agenda for Angel Ishmael, a Chicago mother of three. “I wanted to know what was going into my children’s

mouths,” she said. One fact that impressed Ishmael is farmers’ dedication 365 days a year, and she shared that with her daughters, ages 7 and 9. “They’re out in the rain, the snow, the blizzards. That was impressive,” Ishmael said. “My daughter asked, ‘Mommy you mean they’re outside?’ I said, “They’re in the snowstorm in order to provide you food.” The women were not shy about inquiring about organic farming and growth hormone use in dairy cattle. “Our vet was here and he answered their questions about drugs and hormones. Some good questions came out,” said Dale Drendel. Mike Martz also answered the women’s questions about

such sensitive topics as antibiotic use in his livestock. “I don’t have any secrets out here,” Martz said. “We try to do the best job we can.” The farmers’ honesty and willingness to be forthright were appreciated by both Brown and Ishmael. The exchange between the farmers and the moms “is open and honest,” Ishmael said. “It’s important.” “We want to know the absolute truth how our food is grown,” Brown added. “These conversations are so valuable,” she advised other farmers. “Don’t be afraid to have a dialogue.” To view additional photos online, visit Ken Kashian’s photo gallery located under the Electronic Media & Publications tab on {www.ilfb.org}.


FarmWeek Page 6 Monday, October 24, 2011

CROPWATCHERS Bernie Walsh, Durand, Winnebago County: We had good harvest progress last week, even with a couple days of sprinkles to slow down the bean harvest. The high winds dried out any light rain we had and there are clouds of dust everywhere you look. Soybeans are 75 to 80 percent finished, and most everyone is happy to very happy with the yields this year. The southwest part of the county had some very high bean yields, with 80 bushel yields in some fields. The rest of the county had to settle for yields in the 50s. There also is a very good corn crop being harvested right now. The downed corn that got hit with the high winds in July is not yielding as well and is taking extra time to pick it up. Have a good and safe week. Pete Tekampe, Grayslake, Lake County: A beautiful Friday morning in Lake County. After two days of drizzle amounting to 1 inch of rain and 40 to 50 mph winds, it was a very calm Friday. Beans are about 70 percent done. Winter wheat is almost all planted. A little more corn was picked last week, maybe 20 percent. Heard some was down to 17 percent moisture. Hopefully, this week we will finish beans. Forecasters are calling for rain on two days. Hopefully, they are wrong. Leroy Getz, Savanna, Carroll County: A very cold, frosty Friday morning. Rain did not occur in Northwestern Illinois last week. Bean harvest is near completion with record-high yields of 70 to 80-plus bushels per acre. Corn harvest is going well. Moisture levels are dropping into the teens. We’ve baled more cornstalk bales making five bales per acre. Rye seeding looks good with good fall growth and some wheat has been seeded. Fall tillage is going well with above average moisture. Larry Hummel, Dixon, Lee County: I finally found that field of soybeans that we have been looking for the past three weeks — the last one. Last week wasn’t necessarily what you would order for soybean harvest. Intermittent light showers weren’t conducive to getting a lot of beans harvested, but we were able to push pretty hard in between to finish things up. Last week I mentioned a few combine fires in the area. This week was our turn. Fortunately, it didn’t cause any damage. It took quite awhile for us to determine where the fire originated. But on the back end of the rotor on a John Deere combine, there is a piece that is similar to a break drum and dust was building up inside of it and overheating. Ken Reinhardt, Seaton, Mercer County: Temperatures were in the 20s Friday morning, ending the growing season. I saw the first NH3 application Thursday. I planned to finish harvest over the weekend. There is quite a bit of tillage getting started. It would be nice to get a rain to soften the ground. Ron Moore, Roseville, Warren County: We have finished harvest. It was one of the fastest harvests in recent memory. This area is about 90 percent complete. We only had a few days of rain delays and the crop was drier than normal. Yields on both corn and soybeans were better than most farmers expected. Our corn will be about average and the beans above average. We are concentrating on fall tillage and fertilizer application right now. I have about four days of pit cleaning to do before we prepare for winter and plan for next year. Jacob Streitmatter, Princeville, Peoria County: The recent rainy and cloudy weather made it difficult to harvest soybeans, but for the most part, corn harvest has continued. Looking around here, I would guess harvest is about 50 percent complete. Wind storms in early July and late August created tangled cornfields for some, including me. The farther into it I get, the worse it gets. There are not many ears on the corn that went down in July, but the corn that went down in August has ears and is worth fighting to get.

Mark Kerber, Chatsworth, Livingston County: A cold, wet, and windy spell delayed harvest a few days. This kind of weather doesn’t help the standability of corn. Hopefully, an extended dry period will give us a chance to continue with harvest. Most of the soybeans are done, but there are a few fields around to do yet. Fertilizer, lime, and tillage will continue also with dry weather. Strip tillers are gearing up to start that operation. Yields overall have been better than expected, except for areas of downed corn. Markets are hanging in there. Hopefully, foreign and U.S. economies will stabilize, or all markets are in trouble. Ron Haase, Gilman, Iroquois County: Rain brought harvest to a stop on Wednesday. We received 0.4 to 0.9 of an inch of rain on our farms. Other farms nearby received an inch or more. I planned to return to harvesting Friday afternoon. Ninety-five percent or more of the soybeans in the area have been harvested. In our area, 60 percent or more of the corn has been harvested. As you expand the size of the local area, the percent harvested would increase. Local closing bids for Oct. 20 were: nearby corn, $6.45; fall 2012 corn, $5.59; nearby soybeans, $12.03; fall 2012 soybeans, $11.72. Thursday evening, we harvested all our tomatoes before the temperatures dropped below freezing Friday morning. Brian Schaumburg, Chenoa, McLean County: Harvest of corn and soybeans is more than 90 percent complete despite a couple of rainy, windy days that had combines parked. Tillage, fertilization, cleanup, and crop planning for 2012 are the jobs now. NH3 applications are seven to 10 days off as soil temps are still too warm even with N stabilizers. Basis remains tight, leaving us to wonder if there is an analog year for comparison like ... 1980? Do short crops still have a long tail? Corn, $6.43; January $6.58; fall 2012, $5.67; soybeans, $12; fall 2012, $11.67; wheat, $6.01. Steve Ayers, Champaign, Champaign County: We fortunately finished beans on Monday (Oct. 17). Then the rainy spell last week yielded 1.35 inches of precipitation plus an “Auntie Em Alert” from WDWS’ Dave Gentry for the 50 mph wind gusts. Frost was on the pumpkins Friday morning and there is a chance of rain about every other day this week with temperatures bouncing from lows in the 30s and 40s to highs in the 50 and 70s. USDA has our crop reporting district at 54 percent corn harvested and 78 percent soybeans harvested. Let’s be careful out there. Wilfred Dittmer, Quincy, Adams County: Another cool morning here Friday with the temp hovering at 32 degrees and clear with no wind for a change. Combines got to rolling again Thursday after most in the area received rain on Monday evening (Oct. 17). Our gauge picked up 0.6 of an inch. A lot of crop has left the field since our last visit, but there is still some around to meet the combine. Fall tillage has started at a slow pace, as has fall fertilization. I like the commercial that states “arrive alive.” Could we in agriculture add to that? “Be careful so that we also may arrive home at the end of the day, alive.” Have a Good Day! Tom Ritter, Blue Mound, Macon County: Showers during the past week slowed harvest, but we have less than 10 percent to be harvested on both corn and soybeans. Corn harvest was slowed, but bean harvest with the rain and cooler temperatures came to a complete halt. Rainfall totals were between 0.5 and 1 inch, also slowing tillage, but tillage will resume fairly rapidly. Overall, there has been no anhydrous applied at this time even though the cooler temperatures were making some people antsy to get started. With the warmer temperatures coming back, anhydrous applications probably will be delayed for at least another week.

Todd Easton, Charleston, Coles County: After a relatively good fall season, we finally got the rainfall we didn’t want to get. The almost 3 inches in the rain gauge and the machinery-getsto-stay-in-the-shed-for-severaldays kind of rain. The good news is that almost all of the crop is harvested but it still is frustrating for those who have just a few acres of corn or double-crop beans to go and now have to wait a few more days to finish up. Fertilizer applications and tillage operations were just hitting their stride until the weather halted those operations too. Hopefully, the chance of more precipitation at the beginning of this week doesn’t materialize and work resumes. Jimmy Ayers, Rochester, Sangamon County: We received 0.8 of an inch of rain in three different showers last week. We expected to finish corn Friday. Corn yields recently have been a bit toward the lower end of our expectations. They dipped below 100 quite a bit, and that’s a little unusual. Clay hillsides, late plantings, and no rain in July and August didn’t help. There are still a few beans left in the area. Bean harvest probably was wrapped up Friday. Tillage has slowed due to the moisture we received. David Schaal, St. Peter, Fayette County: It was frosty here Friday morning with temperatures down in the low-30s. It was a damp, windy, chilly week here for the most part. Showers moved in on late Monday (Oct. 17) afternoon and lasted until Wednesday night. Rain totals were 1.5 to 2 inches. Harvest will resume here Friday with sunshine and a little warmer temperatures in the forecast for the week. More and more producers are completing the 2011 harvest around here. Still some later-planted crops, along with double-crop soybeans, to be harvested. Dan Meinhart, Montrose, Jasper County: Harvest was full speed ahead until Monday evening (Oct. 17) when it came to a screeching halt. Light rain fell almost continuously for two days, the average totaling about 2 inches. Strong winds and very cool temperatures accompanied the rain. Corn harvest was expected to resume Friday. Reported yields vary widely. The earlierplanted wheat has emerged. Temperatures dropped to the mid- to lower 30s last night leaving some frost. A warming trend is expected this week with chances of more showers. Dave Hankammer, Millstadt, St. Clair County: Farmers made great progress on soybean harvest until last Tuesday afternoon when rain showers moved through the area. Up to 2 inches of rain fell Tuesday evening and Wednesday morning. The rain was beneficial for the newly-seeded wheat crop, but it brought harvest to a halt. One benefit of this down time is it will allow farmers time to watch the World Series. Go Cards! Local grain bids, corn, $6.38; soybeans, $12.06; wheat, $5.92. Have a safe week. Dean Shields, Murphysboro, Jackson County: Last week, we got 0.8 to 1 inch of rain in Jackson County, which was needed by the guys planting wheat. Harvest was delayed for a couple of days because of the drizzly rain. Corn and bean harvest is continuing. Some of the later beans are now yielding a little bit better than the earlier varieties — I guess because of the rain we finally got. The sunflowers are ripening up and wheat planting is continuing. Things are coming along OK. Be safe and take care during harvest. Randy Anderson, Galatia, Saline County Harvest progressed slowly last week. The only good day we had was on Monday (Oct. 17). Everybody was running just as hard as they could ahead of the rain. We ended up getting rain showers on Tuesday and Wednesday. Rain totals ranged from 0.5 of an inch to 1.2 inches. It was a soaking rain — nothing ran off, so it made field conditions not too desirable for harvest. Pulling trucks into the field is going to be very limited. It is starting to look like the carts are going to have to bring it to the road more often.


Page 7 Monday, October 24, 2011 FarmWeek

CROPWATCHERS Kevin Raber, Browns, Wabash County: Rain slowed harvest again. Amounts of about 1 inch this past week made most fields too wet. I was hoping to get back into the field by Friday afternoon or Saturday. The wheat is off to a good start. I’m hoping all the rain won’t cause ponding and hurt stands in the low spots.

Ken Taake, Ullin, Pulaski County: We had showers and drizzle on Tuesday and Wednesday, which kept us out of the fields until Thursday. We planned on being back in the fields on Friday. I noticed we had a pretty good frost on the ground Friday morning. Please take time to be careful during this busy season.

Reports received Friday morning. Expanded crop and weather information available at {www.farmweeknow.com}.

U.S. crop acres projected to grow, pressure ’12 prices BY DANIEL GRANT FarmWeek

Analysts with Doane Advisory Services last week projected crop prices through the year will remain high. In fact, they are expected to remain high enough to give U.S. farmers incentive next year to plant about 1.1 million additional acres of corn, 1.5 million more acres of soybeans, and about 2 million more wheat acres. “We’re expecting (corn growers) to ramp up acres to 93 million next year,” Marty Foreman, senior economist with Doane Advisory Services, said last week at Doane’s annual agriculture outlook conference in St. Louis. “We think they can do that fairly easily.”

‘If the (corn) yields bounce back to normal, next year we could be pushing 14 billion bushels.’ — Marty Foreman Doane Advisory Services analyst

Foreman noted about 1 million acres intended for corn were not planted this year due to spring flooding. The situation is similar for soybeans and wheat as Doane analysts projected U.S. farmers in 2012 will plant 76.5 million acres of beans (up from 75 million this year) and 56.3 million acres of wheat, up about 2 million acres from this year.

“We probably lost 1 to 2 million acres (of soybeans) due to spring flooding,” said Bill Nelson, analyst with Doane. “We see acres jumping back up (in 2012) mostly due to a recovery of those failed acres.” Additional acreage that came out of the Conservation Reserve Program (CRP) also could be farmed next year. Contracts totaling about 4.4

million acres nationwide expired from CRP last month. Severe drought in the southern U.S. could limit crop production there. But the analysts believe most farmers will plant their crops, including wheat, following recent rains. “The deck is stacked against the Southern Plains coming out of the drought,” said Dan Manternach, Doane analyst. “The recent rains were just an interruption in the drought. They weren’t a drought-breaker.” The price of wheat was projected to average $7.10 per bushel in 2011/12 and could jump to an average of $7.40 per bushel in 2012/13 if weather severely impacts the crop.

Otherwise, a good harvest next year could drive the average wheat price down to $6.33 per bushel. Doane analysts predicted corn and soybean prices would remain strong this year, with an average price of $6.75 per bushel for corn and $12.75 for beans, before slipping in 2012/13 to an average of $5 for corn and $12.50 for beans. “If the (corn) yields bounce back to normal (around 164 bushels per acre nationwide), next year we could be pushing (a production total of) 14 billion bushels,” Foreman said. If farmers are able to increase crop plantings, “We expect prices will pull back after next spring,” he added.

Shift in weather pattern shouldn’t slow harvest The temperature last week finally matched the calendar as a fall-like blast of cold air moved into the Midwest. Temperatures the second half of last week plummeted 20 to 30-plus degrees in many areas of the state after averaging 60.6 degrees statewide, 5 degrees above normal, the previous week.

‘It was one of the fastest harvests in recent memory.’ — Ron Moore FarmWeek Cropwatcher

In fact, the Midwest experienced only 23 percent of its normal precipitation and the temperature averaged 6 degrees above normal for the first 12 days of the month, according to Steve Hilberg, director of the Midwestern Regional Climate Center in Champaign. The conditions were ideal for harvest before the balmy temperatures came to an abrupt halt. “It’s a fairly typical pattern shift,” said Patrick Bak, meteorologist with the National Weather Service office in Lincoln. “We’re

now getting more air masses out of Canada as opposed to the Gulf.” Last week’s return to more seasonal conditions was accompanied by spotty rain showers. But it wasn’t enough to slow harvest activity in many parts of the state. “The high winds last week dried out any light rain we had,” said Bernie Walsh, FarmWeek Cropwatcher from Winnebago County. “There are clouds of dust everywhere you look.” Farmers as of the first of last week were ahead of the five-year average pace for all major fall field activities. Harvest was 64 percent complete for corn (9 percent above the average pace), 73 percent complete for soybeans (9 percent above average), and 63 percent complete for sorghum (11 percent above average). Meanwhile, 66 percent of winter wheat was seeded as of the first of last week compared to the average pace of 52 percent. “We have finished harvest,” said Ron Moore, FarmWeek Cropwatcher from Warren County. “It was one of the fastest harvests in recent memory.” Farmers with more crops to harvest, particularly in the north, should have more favorable conditions. Bak projected high tem-

peratures this week will be in the 60s across much of the state and possibly in the 70s in Southern Illinois,

although there is a chance of another shot of cold air by midweek. Rainfall chances are spotty.

“It’s not looking like a real wet pattern,” Bak said. “It should be good for harvest.” — Daniel Grant

TALKING APPLES

Steve Bock, one of the owners of Honey Hill Orchard in rural Waterman in DeKalb County, talks with customer Chelsea Lovejoy of DeKalb about the characteristics of different varieties of apples. Bock said the quality of the orchard’s apples this year was above average, although an August hailstorm caused nearly a 70 percent loss in the U-Pick orchard. Honey Hill’s cider won first place in the Illinois state cider competition at the 2011 Specialty Crops, Agritourism, and Organic Conference held this year in Springfield. (Photo by Ken Kashian)


FarmWeek Page 8 Monday, October 24, 2011

NEW MARKETS

Linda and Dale Black gather chestnuts by hand from their 30-acre Pike County orchard, Chestnut Ridge, near Rockport. The Blacks must collect the nuts before they are eaten by wildlife. (Photos by Ken Kashian)

Chestnuts more than holiday treat in Pike County BY KAY SHIPMAN FarmWeek

Dale and Linda Black of Rockport think about chestnuts year round, not just as an ingredient for Thanksgiving or Christmas meals. The Blacks operate Chestnut Ridge, a 30acre chestnut orchard in Pike County. The farm’s website is {www.chestnutridgeofpikecounty.com}. After retiring as a general contractor, Dale, a Pike County native, and his wife, Linda, bought a 160-acre farm in 2000. Between 2001 and 2002,

FarmWeekNow.com Check out Ken Kashian’s photo gallery of Chestnut Ridge orchard at FarmWeekNow.com.

the couple planted more than 3,000 chestnuts or seedlings, and an estimated 2,500 trees survived. Linda recently chatted during a break from harvesting the nuts. Harvest started Sept. 15 and will end this month. Chestnuts are harvested by hand after they fall from the trees. The nuts must be collected quickly before they are eaten by deer, rabbits, squirrels, and other wildlife.

Linda estimated the yield is about 2,000 pounds per acre with roughly 100 trees per acre. However, their orchard is fairly young with only a few 12- to 13-year-old chestnut trees that were planted before they bought the property. The Blacks planted Dunstan chestnut trees that are resistant to fire blight. Blight is an invasive fungal disease that decimated the American chestnut tree population, starting in the early 1900s. Each September, the Blacks collect the nuts by hand, wearing heavy gloves as protection from the sharp burrs. The Blacks remove the burrs using a machine that Dale built and dubbed a “de-burrer.” “It makes the process go so much faster,” Linda said. The machine contains several small, spinning wheels. Previously they shucked the nuts by hand. Typically, a burr contains three chestnuts. After the burrs are removed, the nuts are sorted, sized, graded, sanitized, bagged, weighed, and put into cold storage. The goal is to complete the entire process within seven days after the nut “hits the ground,” Linda said. Chestnuts are refrigerated to keep the nuts from dehydrating, she added.

Wildlife, especially deer, have been the Blacks’ biggest problem. “We have an extremely high deer population. They love to eat chestnuts as soon as they fall,” Linda said. The Blacks sell about half their crop through Internet orders; the other half is sold to the Hy-Vee Inc. central distribution market in Iowa. Usually, they sell out by mid-December. The Blacks have now begun shipping package orders. Prices for individual orders range from $3.50 to $6 a pound, depending on the size of the chestnut and the amount ordered. “We have a lot of repeat sales,” Linda said. “A lot of people have ties (with chestnuts) to their childhood.” The Blacks have found chestnuts are popular among many European and Asia cultures. Linda has been contacted by a man who knew 8,000 Koreans who might be interested in the Blacks’ chestnuts, she said. While people from other cultures are familiar with chestnuts, many Americans don’t know how to prepare the nuts, Linda noted. “I think it’s because the American chestnut tree is nearly extinct,” she said. “We weren’t raised with them.”

Top: Dale Black pours chestnuts into a revolving sieve that sorts chestnuts by size. Above: The Black’s farmer neighbor Jerry Rodhouse wears gloves to handle a chestnut burr with thorns. Each burr typically contains three chestnuts and must be shucked before it is processed. Left: Paul Turner, father of chestnut farmer Linda Black, feeds chestnuts that have not been shucked into a de-burrer machine that was made by his son-in-law, Dale. In the background, Rodhouse, left, and Dave Gapinski of Rockport, fill baskets with harvested chestnuts.


Page 9 Monday, October 24, 2011 FarmWeek

PRODUCTION

Economics key factor with fall fertilizer practices BY KAY SHIPMAN FarmWeek

Farmers will save money and get more bang for their fertilizer bucks by using best management practices for fall fertilizer applications, according to Mike Plummer, coordinator of the Illinois Council on Best Management Practices (ICBMP), and Fabian Fernandez, University of Illinois soil fertility professor. ICBMP is implementing the Keep it for the Crop by 2025

program, dubbed KIC. The program focuses on adoption and implementation of nutrient best management practices. “Keep your nutrients for the crops for the best economics,” Plummer said. The U of I recommends any fall-applied nitrogen be in the form of anhydrous ammonia or ammonium sulfate. “Those two forms work the best for fall applications,” Plummer said. Fernandez added a nitrogen

inhibitor should be used with fall applications because it limits bacterial activity that trans-

Cattle on feed mitigates herd liquidation for now BY DANIEL GRANT FarmWeek

U.S. beef consumers still haven’t felt the full effect of ongoing cattle herd liquidation in the drought-parched Southern Plains as the number of cattle in feedlots still is above year-ago levels. USDA on Friday estimated the number of cattle and calves on feed in U.S. feedlots on Oct. 1 totaled 11.31 million head, up 5 percent from last year. It was the 17th consecutive monthly report, dating back to May 1, 2010, in which feedlot inventories were above the previous year’s level, according to the CME Group’s Daily Livestock Report. “In the short-run, there won’t be any shortage of cattle,” Daniel Vaught, livestock analyst with Vaught Futures Insights, said last week at Doane Advisory Service’s annual ag outlook conference. “Liquidation of the herd is being mitigated by the current number of cattle on feed.” Beef cow slaughter numbers the past three weeks were the largest since the fall of 1996. Meanwhile, the number of breeding cows shipped out of Texas the past month reportedly were up 140 percent compared to the same time last year. Herd liquidation eventually is expected to have a large effect on beef supplies and prices. “There are still a good number of cattle to work through as those large placements of light-weight cattle this summer will not reach market weights until late winter,” authors of the Daily Livestock report noted. “Once they are gone, though, supplies will tighten quickly.” Vaught believes live cattle prices near-term could enter a period of seasonal weakness, although prices still may

FarmWeekNow.com Complete details of the cattle on feed report are at FarmWeekNow.com.

be at historically high levels. “I doubt fed cattle prices will dip much below $1 per pound in the future,” Vaught said. The Livestock Marketing Information Center recently forecast profits of $100 per cow this year. “Demand for beef and cattle has increased significantly,” Vaught said. “A lot of this is exports (driven by a weak dollar).” U.S. beef exports in July represented a record-high 13 percent of production. But demand for beef in the future could be threatened if the value of the dollar increases when domestic retailers raise prices, according to the analyst. “I think demand hasn’t declined more because retailers are not comfortable pushing prices a lot higher (despite record-high cattle prices),” Vaught said. “But there is a big danger for the cattle and beef market when retailers decide to pass

those costs along (to consumers), it could spell the beginning of the end of the market.” Rich Pottorff, analyst with Doane Advisory Services, believes it could take years to rebuild the cattle herd in the U.S. “Buy those steaks now and put them in the freezer because it’s going to get more expensive before it gets better,” Pottorff said last week at the Doane outlook conference in St. Louis.

forms the nutrient into nitrate, which can be lost. Another U of I recommendation is that no anhydrous applications be made until the 4-inch soil temperature reaches and remains below 50 degrees Fahrenheit. Plummer noted Northern Illinois soil temperatures recently reached the below-50 level. However, if the weather warmed up as expected last weekend, farmers may have to wait a little longer before applying anhydrous, he added. Fall fertilizer applications are not recommended on fields south of Illinois Highway 16, a route stretching from Jer-

seyville to West Union. Farmers may find daily soil temperatures on the Illinois State Water Survey site at {www.isws.illinois.edu/warm/ soiltemp.asp}. Temperature records are displayed for the past seven days. Fernandez suggested farmers consider strategic applications of some fertilizer in the fall and the remainder in the spring. “Sandier soils or those in water-logged conditions are not the best to apply fertilizer on in the fall because the risk for loss is too great,” Fernandez said. Spring applications would be better on those soils, he added. Farmers should focus on getting the most from their fertilizer applications, Plummer added. “For the best nitrogen utilization and economics, we need to follow those U of I guidelines,” Plummer said. “And if we follow those guidelines, we will help protect water quality, too.”


FarmWeek Page 10 Monday, October 24, 2011

markets

Will new patent law improve biotech benefits? BY MARTIN ROSS FarmWeek

New patent laws should encourage smaller crop innovators and help promote industry partnerships instead of legal infighting. That’s according to Biotechnology Industry Organization attorney Hans Sauer, who sees farmers potentially benefiting from the White House-endorsed, congressionally approved America Invents Act. The new law includes “some of the biggest changes (in the

patent system) since 1836,” he said. Amid use of increasingly complex plant genetics technology, “stacking” of multiple traits within individual GMO products, and fierce competition and litigation among ag biotech companies, the law makes it more difficult to bring suit, especially in cases in which disputes may be designed toward “holding people up and shaking them down,” Sauer said. The high-tech computer sector is far more notorious

than the biotech industry for lawsuits by so-called “patent trolls” looking to squelch competing development especially by smaller companies. However, Sauer sees the new law protecting smaller ag tech providers who otherwise might have to abandon innovations or face costly attorney/court fees. “In the ag industry, there are a whole host of small companies that depend on feeding new technologies, new traits to big companies that then have the capacity to actu-

FTAs accomplished

Will trade momentum continue?

Farmers continue to celebrate the successful culmination of years of campaigning for free trade agreements (FTAs) with South Korea, Colombia, and Panama. But Illinois Farm Bureau Senior Commodities Director Tamara Nelsen saw last week’s White House FTA signings not as the end of a battle but as the potential beginning of a new era in U.S. trade engagement — and economic recovery. Passage of the agreements has free traders hopeful for a key U.S. role in the TransPacific Partnership — a prospective pact with the Asian nations — as well as other possible bilateral or regional agreements. But Ed Gerwin, senior fellow for trade and global economic policy with the “centrist” think tank Third Way, is concerned “everyone will take a deep breath after these deals and let momentum dissipate.”

Nelsen is secretary-treasurer of the International Policy Council on Food, Agriculture, and Trade (IPC), which recently toured the European Union (EU) in an examination of global economic challenges, ag policies, and trade concerns. All three are intertwined, and IPC leaders see questionable trade policies slowing the global economic turnaround. “We have all these inefficiencies in the trade system that only make debt crises and economic downturns worse,” Nelsen said. “There certainly are some things moving; there’s certainly lots of great trade happening with China and India. But unless you get rid of these endemic inefficiencies in the world trading system, we’ll have a slower recovery. “If we’d had a WTO agreement, if we’d had these free trade agreements signed two years ago, we’d have less of an economic problem

now,” she maintained. Ideally, she said, the WTO is the vehicle for reducing inefficiencies in world trade. But prospects for progress in the latest Doha Round of WTO negotiations remain bleak, and Nelsen argues the existing WTO process “keeps breaking down.” For example, she notes emergence of “process-based trade barriers” (PBTBs) over the past decade, especially in the globally influential EU. Those include buyer demands for non-GMO commodities and “low carbon footprint” products, despite a lack of “science- or data-based assessment” indicating they are superior to conventionally produced goods, she said. Though they are “atrociously affecting” developing countries, Nelsen warned PBTBs and the misperceptions they spread “inevitably” impact U.S. exporters. However, EU policymakers are starting to recognize “green protectionism” as a trade barrier and urging member countries to set basic food standards and remove tradedistorting PBTBs, she said. Germany is considering a ban on antibiotic use in feed, but Nelsen said Denmark’s ban on antibiotic use in animals has spurred “tremendous, documented problems” with disease resistance in animals and humans. The German government thus recently sent a panel to seek additional input in the U.S. The Trans-Pacific Partnership, in particular, offers “huge opportunities for streamlining trade flows,” Nelsen said. Ultimately, she hopes trade momentum may help revive WTO talks, arguing the WTO’s “rules-based” system “lifts all ships” instead of resolving issues on a bilateral, countryby-country basis. — Martin Ross

ally bring them to market,” he told FarmWeek. “I think we’re going to get patents through faster and examined with better quality, and that can only benefit the smaller companies.” New provisions provide for more public participation in the patent review process, enabling outside interests to provide crucial information or concerns before an application is approved. Sauer suggests increased funding for the U.S. Patent Office was one of the American Invent Act’s “biggest accomplishments,” given the current budget environment. The agency has an backlog of 750,000-plus patent applica-

tions “sitting unexamined on the the Patent Office shelf,” he said. “A biotech application today takes between three and 3 1/2 years from the time it’s applied for to get out of the Patent Office,” Sauer noted. “That’s just unsustainable. It’s just too many inventions waiting for protection, that are locked up, and that don’t see investment. “With proper Patent Office funding, which is now much more assured, these things get cranked out faster. This is going to accelerate innovation in the biotech space, including the ag biotech space. We’re optimistically looking forward to some big changes.”

Industry groups working on post-patent transition Monsanto’s patent on Roundup Ready genetics expires in fall 2014, moving the herbicide resistance trait into the public domain. That means seed companies or individuals will be able to market and growers buy varieties with the trait without paying the currently imposed royalties or “technology fees.” But patent expiration raises questions regarding opportunities for farmers to legally save and replant Roundup Ready seed, the impact that could have on U.S. exports, and the status of future products with both patented and “off-patent” traits. The Biotechnology Industry Organization (BIO) and the American Seed Trade Association (ASTA) thus have joined to develop a general “industry accord” for future crop patent expirations. The accord will define who may use data from expired traits in new products and outline protections for products that incorporate those “generic” traits. ASTA’s Executive Committee signed off on the draft accord earlier this month, following BIO board approval, and the groups hope to release final guidelines by April. American Farm Bureau Federation biotech specialist Kevin Richards told FarmWeek the U.S. has set a “good intellectual property rights (IPR) regime,” backed by the courts. A U.S. appeals court in September upheld Monsanto’s right to prohibit farmer replanting of second-generation Roundup Ready seed, and Richards sees it as crucial that the accord “not erode IPR issues” associated with active crop patents. “I think there’s a good chance we’ll have an effective accord,” Richards said. “The other issue is whether there’ll be a market for generic traits once patents start expiring. We don’t know exactly what a generic market might look like. “It’s likely that once patents expire, you’ll start seeing those traits being stacked with other proprietary (protected) traits, so you still have a proprietary product rather than a strictly generic product. “Exactly how that will work is a bit of an open question. And it’s a market question based on what growers want and seed companies can provide.” Monsanto plans to work with seed companies for use of Roundup Ready technology and maintain trait registrations in key export markets. The company intends to extend all Roundup Ready soybean trait licenses and collect royalties through final expiration, but will not require licensees to destroy or return seed following license expiration or use variety patents against U.S. farmers who save seed containing the Roundup Ready trait following trait patent expiration. However, those provisions may not apply to other companies that offer the trait in their varieties. Farmers thus should consult with seed suppliers regarding replant policies for individual products. “As things start to go off-patent, we need to make sure folks are well-informed and educated and able to follow the law and their own contractual obligations,” Richards said. — Martin Ross


Page 11 Monday, October 24, 2011 FarmWeek

agmasters

GROWMARK names scholarship winners Thirty-five college students from Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kentucky, Missouri, Nebraska, and Wisconsin will be able to continue their education with help from GROWMARK. The students are recipients of GROWMARK-sponsored scholarships aimed at promoting higher education in agriculture and business.“GROWMARK invests more than $45,500 annually on scholarships. We’re investing today for a return tomorrow,” said Steve German, GROWMARK member employment manager. “There’s a need for agriculture businesses to support formal education to strengthen agriculture.” GROWMARK has been supporting college students with scholarships since the early 1960s. Scholarships have been awarded to students majoring in agriculture or accounting at 15 universities and colleges. Each educational institution is responsible for the selection process and awarding scholarships. University scholarship recipients are honored each year at the GROWMARK annual meeting in Chicago. Students from Illinois receiving scholarships are listed below: Illinois State University Theresa Helmink, daughter of Ronald and Jo Ellen Helmink of Montros, majoring in accounting. Kirsten Keener, daughter of James and Michelle Keener of Geneseo, majoring in agribusiness. Ryan Sauder, son of Brad and Marci Sauder of Tremont, majoring in

agribusiness and agronomy. Kelsey Vance, daughter of Rick and Patti Vance of Tremont, majoring in agribusiness and agronomy management. Nicole Bomberek, Seneca. Illinois Wesleyan University Annie Sheley, daughter of Lynn and Margie Sheley of Lincoln, majoring in accounting. Iowa State University Samuel Vigue, son of Arthur and Lavonda Vigue of Brimfield, majoring in agronomy. Kansas State University Steve Niemeier, son of Keith Niemeier and Laura Lee Rose of Pocahontas, majoring in agricultural economics. Murray State University Becky Mosbacher, daughter of Steven and Doris Mosbacher of Prairie du Rocher, majoring in agribusiness. Southern Illinois University - Carbondale Blake Duesterhaus, son of Daryl Duesterhaus of Mendon, and Barbara Duesterhaus of Quincy, majoring in agricultural systems technology. Kelsey Graber, daughter of John and Julie Graber of Heyworth, majoring in agribusiness economics. Jenna Richardson, daughter of Greg and Cheryl Richardson of Cisne, majoring in agricultural communications. Ben Arteman, Bellflower. University of Illinois Austin Ashby, son of Jim and Lisa Ashby of Savanna, majoring in agricultural business markets and management. He is the recipient of the Herndon Scholarship, established to honor Fred E. Hern-

Kane County FB wins national award Kane County Farm Bureau has been named one of six national winners of the American Society of Association Executives’ 2011 Summit Award for its Harvest for ALL program. The award was presented to county Farm Bureau officials earlier this month in Washington, D.C. The farmer-developed Harvest for All program has gathered more than $40,000 in the county for local food panties since its inception locally in 2009. Donations have included proceeds from the sale of crops, eggs, and vegetables, plus thousands of dollars in cash and hundreds of hours of labor. The county Farm Bureau program has received state and national Farm Bureau awards and has benefitted more than a dozen food pantries and the regional food bank, the Northern Illinois Food Bank. Those entities service the majority of the 40,000 people in Kane County who don’t have enough to eat.

Antique plowing bee Oct. 30 The ninth annual Antique Tractor Plowing Bee will begin at noon Sunday, Oct. 30, in a field a half mile north of Minier on the Minier blacktop. Several antique tractors (1959 and older) will be used as their owners demonstrate old-time plowing techniques. Admission is free and a lunch stand will be provided by the Minier Fire Department. For more information, contact Louis Weishaupt at 309-3033920.

don, president of a GROWMARK predecessor company from 1931-1959. Nicolas DeArwester, son of Matthew and Andrea DeArwester of Camp Point, majoring in agricultural business markets and management. Zachary Ferguson, son of Rod and Karen Ferguson of Argenta, majoring in crop sciences. Kaitlin Weitekamp, daughter of Larry and Nancy Weitekamp of Raymond, majoring in crop sciences. University of Wisconsin Platteville Kristin Taylor, daughter of Sterling Taylor and Beth Taylor of Mt. Morris, majoring in animal science and agricultural education. Western Illinois University Andy Bulfer, son of Tom and Monica Bulfer of Amboy, majoring in agriculture. Michael Hoener, son of Greg and Kathy Hoener of Sutter, majoring in agricultural science. Andrew Nelson, son of Ron and Rita Nelson of Geneseo, majoring in agricultural science.

Rootworm, weed, disease resistance focus of 2011 AGMasters conference BY KAY SHIPMAN Farmweek

Resistance development to herbicides, fungicides, and Bt rootworm corn will be highlighted at the University of Illinois AGMasters Conference Dec. 5-6 in I Hotel and Conference Center, Champaign. The conference again will offer participants an opportunity to interact with speakers during in-depth sessions on specific topics, said Mike Gray, U of I assistant dean for Extension programs. The first day’s general session will include a presentation by Leonard Gianessi, director of the Crop Protection Research Institute in Washington, D.C., on the irreplaceability of herbicides. In addition, Aaron Gassmann, Iowa State University entomologist, will describe the field-evolved resistance to Bt rootworm corn that he saw in Iowa. Participants will be able to select six of the 12 two-hour indepth sessions that will feature experts from across the country. Those sessions will cover a variety of emerging issues, including plant responses to environmental extremes, legal threats to agriculture production, the unexpected consequences of glyphosate applications, improving the effectiveness of adjuvants, and the truth about micronutrients. Gray noted registration will be limited to the first 160 individuals and encouraged interested participants to register early either online at {www.cropsciconferences.org} or by calling conference coordinator Sandy Osterbur in the crop sciences department at 800-321-1296. The registration fee is $300 through Nov. 18. The fee includes meals, breaks, and all hand-out materials. After that date, individuals will need to call Osterbur to check if seats still are available.


FarmWeek Page 12 Monday, October 24, 2011

IAA FOUNDATION

IAA Foundation caps successful fundraising year IFB annual meeting activities announced BY KAY SHIPMAN FarmWeek

Illinois Agriculture in the Classroom (IAITC) will reap the dividends of successful summer and fall fundraising activities by the IAA Foundation. “A successful year of fundraising events has helped the IAA Foundation reach its goal of contributing $125,500 toward the new IAITC program year,” said Susan Moore, IAA Foundation director. “Much of that success is attributed to the generosity of our Farm Bureau members, county boards, and staff as well as business partners who sponsor our events. We are grateful for their contributions to help fund ag literacy. “The 2011 Illinois Farm Bureau annual meeting will kick off the first events to help support the 2012 IAITC year, and we hope to be off to a great start for the new fundraising year,” Moore said.

All event proceeds support the IAITC program. This summer’s new activity, a 5K run, netted $14,704 for the foundation and included educational activities for children. In June, more than 200 golfers participated in the IAITC Golf Outing at the Wolf Creek Golf Club and Elks Country Club in Pontiac. The event netted $44,198. In September, cyclists trav-

eled more than 500 miles and netted $32,184 as they rode through six Central Illinois counties. Fundraising activities at the IFB annual meeting will start at 3:15 p.m. Dec. 3 with an ice cream social sponsored by Prairie Farms Dairy. A live auction will begin at 3:45 p.m. The silent auction will start Dec. 3 and bidding will continue until Dec. 5. Currently, the foundation is accepting

donated items for the silent auction either with an online form or by contacting the foundation office at 309-5572230. The trivia contest will be Dec. 4 with doors opening at 7:30 p.m. and the contest starting at 8:15 p.m. This year’s theme is “red, white, and blue.” Teams of eight that register before Nov. 28 will qualify for a reduced registration fee.

After that date, teams will register at the door. Registration is limited to the first 45 teams. Teams will compete for prizes in the county Farm Bureau and the staff-corporate divisions. A prize also will be awarded to the team with the best costumes and table décor. For more information or to register a team, go online to {www.iaafoundation.org/iaaf/ Events/AnnualMeeting.html}.

In Illinois, those needs included grants to local ag literacy coalitions. The IAA Foundation was able to parlay the $25,000 from Pioneer into grants for local ag literacy groups that, in turn, leveraged the grants to raise additional dollars for local programs, Moore explained. “My wish is for the $25,000 to continue the good work of Ag in the Classroom. We understand the value of Ag in the Classroom; it’s important to me and everyone at Pioneer,” Lance said. “We want youth to pursue education and careers in agriculture and the sciences,” added Alyssa Sundell, Pioneer community investment manager. In addition to IAITC, Pioneer also has a legacy of supporting 4-H and FFA, Lance noted.

Pioneer’s history of support is especially meaningful today, according to Moore. “We realize that Pioneer receives numerous requests for support and appreciate that it sees the value of the dollars that are given to help ag literacy,” she said. “Pioneer has expressed a desire to continue our longterm relationship and help us plan for the future,” Moore said. “This is even more reassuring as we’ve seen donor trends move in the opposite direction with corporations shifting their philanthropic giving to national campaigns.” Lance summarized: “We like to deploy our resources locally where they are needed and appreciated — where our seed growers, customers, and employees are.”— Kay Shipman

Auction Calendar

Tues., Nov. 1. 9 a.m. Henry Co Farmland. Szalo Family Land Trust, KEWANEE, IL. John Leezer, ALC. www.illinoisfarms4sale.com Tues., Nov. 1. 10 a.m. Livingston Co. Land Auction. Kankakee-Livingston Farm LLC, (Wagner Farms), CAMPUS, IL. Immke and Bradley Auction Service. biddersandbuyers.com/immke Wed., Nov. 2. 11 a.m. Adams Co. Land Auction. Edwin and Virginia Wittler Farm, GOLDEN, IL. Sullivan Auctioneers, LLC. www.sullivanauctioneers.com Wed., Nov. 2. 10 a.m. Farmland. John V. Bermes Estate, KERNAN, IL. Bradleys’ and Immke Auction Service. Thurs., Nov. 3. 7 p.m. Quality Farmland. Mary Jane Dodson, Lisa Foster, Sally6 Ann Rutherford and Albert Lynn Van Dyke, EFFINGHAM, IL. Col. Bill Carson and Col. Justin Carson, Auctioneers. www.carsonauctionandrealty.com Thurs., Nov. 3. 10 a.m. McLean Co. Land Auction. BLOOMINGTON, IL. Hertz Farm Mgmt. www.hfmgt.com Thurs., Nov. 3. 10 a.m. Land Auction Livingston Co. Mary Becker Estate, PONTIAC, IL. Immke and Bradley Auction Service. biddersandbuyers.com/immke Thurs., Nov. 3. Farmland Kankakee Co. Soy Capital Ag Services. www.soycapitalag.com Fri., Nov. 4. 10 a.m. Macoupin Co. Farmland. Marvin H. Jones Estate, CARLINVILLE, IL. Mike Crabtree, Auctioneer. www.mikecrabtreeauctions.com Fri., Nov. 4. Edgar Co. Real Estate. Sims Farms, HUME, IL. Stanfield Auction Co. www.stanfieldauction.com Fri., Nov. 4. 10:30 a.m. Real Estate and Prime Farmland DeKalb Co. Dale Nowicki Trust, LELAND, IL. Jim Elliott, Dick McConville and Craig Elliott, Auctioneers. www.elliotauctions.net, www.mcconvillerealty.com, www.auctionzip.com (id#2927)

Pioneer focuses financial support on local needs IAITC benefits, leverages gifts Ag literacy programs offered through Illinois Agriculture in the Classroom (IAITC) and county Farm Bureaus help children understand agriculture. Without a steady source of funding, the myriad materials, activities, and opportunities would not be available to teachers and students. The IAA Foundation raises money through such activities

as the annual golf outing, but it also relies on corporate support to help fund local programs, according to Susan Moore, IAA Foundation director. Pioneer Hi-Bred, one of those corporate donors, focuses on local needs where its employees, seed growers, and customers live, said Brad Lance, director for Pioneer’s Illinois business. “We have a long history of local support,” Lance said. “We keep our ear to the ground and hear the needs.”

Tues., Oct. 25. 7 p.m. Morgan Co. Land Auction. Dr. Donald E. Kolmer Estate, JACKSONVILLE, IL. Middendorf Bros. middendorfs.com Wed., Oct. 26. 10 a.m. 85 Ac. Lee Co. AMBOY, IL. Martin Goodrich & Waddell Inc. www.mgw.us.com Wed., Oct. 26. 6 p.m. Lawrence Co. Land Auction. John Land and Michelle Land. Gregg Parrott, Auctioneer. www.sellafarm.com Thurs., Oct. 27. 6 p.m. Real Estate Auction. Fleming Brothers Farms, OLNEY, IL. Auctions/Realty By Schackmann, Inc. www.schackmann.com Thurs., Oct. 27. 6 p.m. White Co. Land Auction. Bankston Creek Land Trust, NORRIS CITY, IL. Gregg Parrott, Auctioneer. www.sellafarm.com Thurs., Oct. 27. 10 a.m. LaSalle Co. Farmland Auction. Estate of Doris E. Chalus, UTICA, IL. Dick McConville and Jim Elliott, Auctioneers. www.mcconvillerealty.com, www.elliottauctions.net, www.auctionzip.com id 2927 Thurs. Eve., Oct. 27. 7 p.m. Sangamon Co. Land Auction. Febus Estate and Trust. Sanert Auction Service. www.sanertauctions.com or auctionzip.com auction ID#2473 Sat., Oct. 29. 9 a.m. Consignment Auction. N.I.T.E. Eq., PECATONICA, IL. www.niteequip.com Tues., Nov. 1. 1 p.m. Bureau Co. Farmland. Elma E. Mitchell Trust, BRADFORD, IL. Johnson Auction Service. www.biddersandbuyers.com (keyword johnson) or www.topauctions 24-7.com Tues., Nov. 1. 10 a.m. Marshall Co. Farmland. Edward E. Haugens Trust, TOLUCA, IL. Lauf Auction Service. www.auctionzip.com and www.illinoisauctioneers.org Tues., Nov. 1. 10 a.m. Bureau Co. Farmland. Jane Marsh Dunlap Estate, BRADFORD, IL. Rediger Auction Service. www.rickerediger.com


Page 13 Monday, October 24, 2011 FarmWeek

from the counties

C

LAY — Farm Bureau will sponsor a financial planning and home budgeting class at 6:30 p.m. Thursday, Nov. 3, at Anthony’s Restaurant, Flora. Richard Rudy and Lisa Cash, Country Financial representatives, will be the speakers. Dinner will be served. Call the Farm Bureau office at 665-3300 or the Country Financial office at 662-5208 for reservations or more information. DGAR — Farm Bureau will sponsor a bus trip Thursday, Nov. 3, to see “It’s a Wonderful Life” at the Beef and Boards Dinner Theatre, Indianapolis, Ind. The bus will leave the Paris Kroger parking lot at 8 a.m. Cost is $80 for members and $90 for non-members. Call the Farm Bureau office at 217465-8511 for reservations or more information. ENDALL — The annual meeting will be at 5:30 p.m. Monday, Nov. 14, at the Yorkville Legion. A Foundation silent auction will be held. Upper Crust will cater the meal. Cost is $15. Former U.S. Speaker of the House Dennis Hastert will be the speaker. Call the Farm Bureau office at 630-5537403 by Monday, Nov. 7, for reservations or more information. • The Young Leaders and Newark FFA Farm Toy Show will be from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. Sunday, Nov. 20, at Newark High School. Admission is $2. FFA will sell refreshments. Call the Farm Bureau office at 630553-7403 for more information. EORIA — A flu, tetanus, and pneumonia clinic will be Wednesday in the Farm Bureau auditorium. Flu and tetanus shots for members are $20. Pneumonia shots for members are $40. Call the Farm Bureau office at 686-7070 for reservations or more information. • A stroke detection plus health screening will be Thursday in the Farm Bureau auditorium. Members will save $35 for all four screenings. Call 877732-8258 for an appointment or more information. • Ag Service award nominations are due Tuesday to the Farm Bureau office. The award recognizes an individual who has demonstrated service to agriculture and will be presented at the county annual meeting Nov. 12. TARK — Bureau, Henry, and Stark County Farm Bureaus will sponsor a defensive driving

E

K

P

S

course from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Thursday and Friday, Nov. 17-18, at the Black Hawk College Community Education Center, Kewanee. Both Days must be attended to receive certification. Cost is $30, which includes materials and lunch. The course is open to auto policy holders 55 years of age and older. Those who complete the course are eligible for a discount on their auto insurance. Call the Farm Bureau office at 309-286-7481 by Nov. 7 for reservations or more information. TEPHENSON — Flu shots will be given from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. Wednesday at the Farm Bureau office. Cost is $20 for members and $25 for non-members with Medicare Part B accepted. • Deadline for submitting orders and payment for Terri Lynn holiday nuts and candies is Friday. Order forms are available at the Farm Bureau office or online at {www.stephensoncfb.org}. • Stroke Detection Plus screenings will be from 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Monday and Tuesday, Oct. 31 and Nov. 1, at the Farm Bureau office. Members will receive a discount on the full package of tests. Call 877-7328258 for an appointment. • A defensive driving course will be from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Wednesday and Thursday, Nov. 9-10, at the Farm Bureau office. Doug Sommer will present the program. Cost is $15 for members and $25 for nonmembers. Lunch will be provided. Call the Farm Bureau office at 825-2323186 for reservations or more information. • The family portrait program will be from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Nov. 12-13 at the Farm Bureau office. Call the Farm Bureau office at 815-232-3186 for an appointment or more information. NION — The Young Farmers Committee will host a “farmer feed” from 5 to 8 p.m. Tuesday, and Tuesday, Nov. 1, at the Farm Bureau office. The event is open to the community. Cost for a cheeseburger, chips, soda, and cookie is $5 or five meals for $20. Call the Farm Bureau office at 618833-2125 for reservations or more information.

S

U

“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.

IFB announces GRITs members for 2012

Farm Bureau members recently were named to Illinois Farm Bureau GrassRoots Issue Teams (GRITs) for 2012. This marks the 16th consecutive year for GRITs. The goal is to provide IFB with feedback on marketing, technology, regulatory, and rural issues, as well as to generate new approaches to problem solving and policy development. Each year following GRITs appointments, IFB also submits nominations to the American Farm Bureau Federation for assignments to its Advisory Committee. Illinois nominees are selected from current and former GRITs members, when possible, to enhance continuity in the problem-solving and policy-development processes at the state and national levels. Team members and the county Farm Bureaus they represent are as follows:

Conservation and natural resources: Richard Bachman, Menard; Larry Beck, White; Thomas Dowson, Sangamon; Jim Drew, Logan; Lonial Lovellette, Grundy; Jonathon Manuel, Piatt; Edie Raices, Cook; John Reitmeier, Champaign; Jeffrey Schone, Scott; Stanley Sipp, Piatt; Don Stephen, Clark; Troy Uphoff, Shelby, District 11 IFB director; and David Wessel, Cass-Morgan. Crop production and trade: Randall Anderson, Saline; Robert Beutke, LaSalle; Christopher Bunting, Jefferson; Paul Daily, Coles; William Harmon, Peoria; Jonathan Hodel, Woodford; Thomas Leeper, Adams; John Longley, Mercer; David Meiss, McLean, IFB District 7 director; Linus Nosbisch, Effingham; Steven Stallman, Randolph; Lance Tarochione, Fulton; and Kyle Winkelmann, Menard.

Equine: Raymond Elder, Christian; Jennifer Fecht, Bureau; Jill Frueh, Bureau; JoAnne Gernant, Henry; Debra Hagstrom, Champaign; John Knight, Tazewell; Gerald Kopping, Cook; Paula Leifel, McLean; David Sadler, Vermilion; and Chad Schutz, Greene, IFB District 15 director. Livestock and dairy: Carol Bennett, Pope-Hardin; William Carlberg, Fulton; Kati Hagenbuch, LaSalle; Richard Hurst, Macoupin; Ray Krausz, Clinton; Larry Larson, Winnebago; Al Lyman, Henry; Hugh Moore, Jersey; Ronald Schaufelberger, Bond; David Serven, Knox, IFB District 8 director; Karl Spencer, Jasper; David Taylor, Will; and Patricia Titus, Douglas. Rural life: Emily Bakken, Piatt; Claire Benjamin, McLean; Frank Carlson, Kane; Robin Cruse, Champaign; Sam DeNeal, Saline; John Eisenmayer. WarrenHenderson; Susan Guinnip, Clark; Bob Pharis, Logan; Randy Poskin, Ford-Iroquois, IFB District 6 director; Josh Reagor, Massac; Jamie Schaffer, Stark; Steven Weber, Henry; and Joe Zerrusen, Effingham. Risk management and farm programs: Dwayne Anderson, Henry; Kenneth Dalenberg, Champaign; Randall DeSutter, Knox; Richard Gates, White; Christopher Gould, Kane; Dale Hadden, Cass-Morgan, IFB District 10 director; Richard Heinz, Peoria; Dale Jackson, Stark; Kara Kinney, Douglas; Gale Koelling, Washington; Paul Mariman, Macon; Steven Turner, Cass-Morgan; and Bradley Zwilling, Champaign. Renewable resources and energy: Robert Baumgart, White; Linda Bush, Adams; Steve Hosselton, Clay, IFB District 14 director; Kevin Johnson, Champaign; Glenn Meyer, Randolph; Darrel Miller, McLean; Dwight Ringhausen, Calhoun; Blake Roderick, Pike; Eric Rund, Champaign; Ken Schafer, Jersey; Grant Strom, Knox; Robert Vohland, Fulton; and Dale Wachtel, Effingham. Specialty crops and labor: Harry Alten, McHenry; David Daniken, Bond; Carl Duewer, Mason; James Eckert, St. Clair; Edward Gerstenecker, Marion; David Headley, Fulton; Bona Heinsohn, Cook; Carol Meyer, Randolph; Frederick Meyer, Tazewell; Brenda Middendorf, Pike; Douglas Scheider, Stephenson; and Craig Tanner, Marshall-Putnam.


FarmWeek Page 14 Monday, October 24, 2011

profitability

Economist: Another recession unlikely but risks elevated BY DANIEL GRANT FarmWeek

The U.S. economy was “anemic” the first half of this year and unemployment remains high, but another recession is unlikely near-term, according to Kevin Kliesen, business economist with the St. Louis Federal Reserve Bank. Kliesen last week at the Doane Agriculture Outlook Conference in St. Louis predicted economic conditions will improve the rest of this year and into 2012. “Recession risks are elevated,” Kliesen said. “But I still think it’s unlikely.” The U.S. gross domestic product (GDP), which hovered around 1 percent (well below average) the first two quarters of this year, was projected to reach 2 to 2.5 percent in coming months. The GDP projections, if realized, would be an improvement, but it still would be well below the high (4 percent) of 2010. Meanwhile, energy and commodity prices have declined in recent months, which could give consumers more money to spend on other items. Oil prices late last week were about $25 per barrel below the recent high of $110. Corn prices since June have declined about 20 percent due

in part to reduced inventory concerns and economic worries. “Higher oil and commodity prices have been a drag on consumers’ purchasing power,” Kliesen said. “The second half of this year and 2012 should be a little better.” But Kliesen cautioned that economic recovery likely will remain slow as financial crises usually have long-lasting effects. “Labor markets are slowly improving,” he said. “But the unemployment rate is still very high.” The unemployment rate in September was 9.1 percent compared to the recent peak of 10.1 percent in October 2009. Looking ahead, Kliesen said business capital spending should continue to increase and the Federal Reserve plans to keep interest rate at historic lows, which should help the economy. “The Fed probably is not going to do much with interest rates the next couple years,” Kliesen said. “That should have some positive effect and remove some uncertainty about monetary policy shortterm.” An emerging economic threat, though, is an unexpected rise in inflation, which this month was around 3.75 per-

M A R K E T FA C T S Feeder pig prices reported to USDA* Weight 10 lbs. 40 lbs. 50 lbs. Receipts

Range Per Head Weighted Ave. Price $28.00-$43.80 $36.40 n/a n/a n/a n/a This Week Last Week 11,951 42,219 *Eastern Corn Belt prices picked up at seller’s farm

Eastern Corn Belt direct hogs (plant delivered) Carcass Live

(Prices $ per hundredweight) This week Prev. week $90.76 $92.39 $67.16 $68.37

Change -1.63 -1.21

USDA five-state area slaughter cattle price Steers Heifers

(Thursday’s price) Prev. week This week 120.61 119.05 120.85 119.01

Change 1.56 1.84

CME feeder cattle index — 600-800 Lbs. This is a composite price of feeder cattle transactions in 27 states. (Prices $ per hundredweight) Prev. week Change 137.13 1.05

This week 138.18

Lamb prices Slaughter Prices - Negotiated, Live, wooled and shorn 95-175 lbs 164.24-205.00 $/cwt. (wtd avg $177.12/cwt.); dressed, no sales reported.

Export inspections (Million bushels) Week ending Soybeans Wheat Corn 10-13-11 45.0 16.4 21.2 10-6-11 23.4 12.6 32.0 Last year 66.8 21.2 30.1 Season total 114.3 423.2 165.0 Previous season total 185.3 430.9 234.9 USDA projected total 1375 975 1600 Crop marketing year began June 1 for wheat and Sept. 1 for corn and soybeans.

The federal funds rate is the interest rate banks use to trade balances held at the Federal Reserve. It as a key benchmark for financial markets.

cent, the economist noted. Elsewhere, the farm sector continues to be one of the few

bright spots of the U.S. economy. Net farm income this year is

projected to reach a recordhigh $114 billion. Doane Advisory Services projected net farm income next year will slip but remain high at $102 billion. “The farm sector is really healthy,” said Rich Pottorff. “But there are some folks (particularly in the droughtravaged southern U.S.) who are not enjoying this prosperity.” The debt-to-asset ratio for farmers this month remained extremely low at 10.2 percent compared to a high this decade of about 15 percent.

USDA cuts commodity reports; analyst concerned USDA last week cut a number of commodity reports from its annual budget in an effort to save money. But the move could prove costly to farmers, traders, and others tied to ag markets as less information may lead to increased market volatility. “The last thing we need USDA to cut back on is (commodity) reports. That leaves us in an information vacuum,” Dan Manternach, market analyst with Doane Advisory Services, told FarmWeek. “We understand the budget constraints,” he continued. “But one of the most important functions USDA serves the global marketplace is it lets us know the fundamental supply and demand. That information reduces volatility.” USDA last week eliminated annual reports on farm numbers, land in farms, and livestock operations; the July cattle report; annual floriculture report; January sheep and goat report; all catfish and trout reports; the annual bee and honey report; nursery report; and its annual mink and hops reports. The distiller coproducts for feed survey was canceled while USDA also announced it will reduce the frequency of chemical use reports, fruit and vegetable in-season estimates, and rice stocks reports.

“The decision to eliminate or reduce these reports was not made lightly,” USDA’s National Agricultural Statistics Service stated in a news release. “But it was, nevertheless, necessary given the funding situation.” Manternach believes the reduction of commodity reports not only will increase market volatility, but it also could give large firms, which can generate private supply and demand estimates, an advantage over individual traders and farmers. “On any given day, the price is a collective voice of the marketplace based on what we know about supply and demand,” Manternach said. “That becomes less accurate if buyers and sellers have less information. “It becomes a guessing game,” the analyst continued. “And it sets up a situation where only the big players in the trade know what’s going on.” USDA officials last week also reported at an annual data users’ meeting in Chicago that changes in grain use patterns have made it more difficult to estimate stocks. USDA corn stocks estimates in June and September were well above trade expectations and triggered large sell-offs. — Daniel Grant

New regulations lead to diesel injector problems

BY MARK DEHNER Today’s diesel industry is very different from the past. New government regulations are pushing engine Original Equipment Manufacturers (OEMs) to meet extremely stringent emissions standards, while also reducing fuel consumption. These same regulations force fuel refiners and distributors to process and additize fuel more than ever before. Mark Dehner These changes have created a perfect storm in the field, collectively affecting off-road, on-road, marine, and railroad diesel equipment owners. In order to meet the new regulations, engine manufacturers have implemented many new technologies. One of them, the high pressure common rail (HPCR) fuel system, includes a single fuel rail that is pressurized to injection pressures of up to 30,000 psi.

The injectors in this system are electronically actuated, meaning the fuel injection timing and duration is independently controlled by each injector. In order to improve fuel atomization and injection precision, these injectors are manufactured with much tighter tolerances than traditional injectors. Diesel fuel properties also have changed. With the introduction of Ultra Low Sulfur Diesel fuel (ULSD), particulates that were once soluble in previous fuels are beginning to cause problems. One particulate, called sodium carboxylic acid salt, is now traveling downstream and accumulating in fuel injectors. Since the new HPCR injectors have such tight tolerances, the deposits on the internal parts cause the injectors to react more slowly and even stick open or closed. The result of this sticky injector phenomenon is rough running engines, increased exhaust smoke, loss of power, difficult cold starts, reduced fuel economy, and increased emissions.

Sticky injector issues sometimes sneak up on operators and quietly rob power and fuel economy without being noticed until catastrophic problems occur. Replacement of fuel injectors can be expensive, not to mention the cost of downtime. Cases of injector failure in the field related to internal injector sticking are becoming more numerous. As more and more manufacturers use HPCR technology, the problem is expected to become even more common. Fuel additive companies already are working to provide solutions to this performance issue by upgrading detergency formulations to clean up the new sodium carboxylic acid salt deposits as well as the traditional carbon based deposits. If you have additional questions, ask your local FS energy specialist for more information. Mark Dehner is GROWMARK’s marketing manager of refined and renewable fuels. His e-mail address is mdehner@growmark.com.


Page 15 Monday, October 24, 2011 FarmWeek

PROFITABILITY Corn Strategy

C AS H ST RAT E GI S T

Soybean demand questions surface Demand for U.S. soybeans by all measures should show steady improvement. From an export perspective, the industry has moved into a window in which Chinese needs will need to be filled mostly from the U.S. Domestic demand may continue to struggle, with processing demand likely to remain soft unless margins exhibit a sustained period of attractive levels. But it’s the export sector that needs to be the most dynamic over the next few months. The pace of soybean export shipments dropped to lower levels a little earlier than usual last spring because of larger-than-anticipated South American crops. At the same time, the disease problems in the Chinese pork industry were subduing demand for soybeans and soybean meal. Those issues appear to now be behind, with indications China’s pork industry is expanding. Soybean port stocks in China appear to have fallen near a more normal 3 million metric tons (mmt.). Last summer, they got as high as 7 mmt. Soybean crush margins have returned to moderately attractive levels as well. Imports declined to less than 4 mmt. in September as port stocks were worked off. October imports are expected to rise

slightly, with imports reaching the 5 mmt./month level by November. They dip a little in February because of Lunar New Year holidays, but tend to remain seasonally high through spring. Import projections for the coming year range from flat to 7 percent higher. Brazil should have no more than 3 mmt. of soybeans to ship, with Argentina having less than 2 mmt. to ship. Their shipments enter in a lull through February, with Brazil’s shipments starting to rise again by mid-March and Argentina’s by April. We have come to a time in the U.S. when our soybean export business should be most robust. Because of Chinese demand and declining South American availability, our weekly sales should be at their strongest over the next four months. But total soybean sales have fallen back to the needed pace. If weekly sales don’t accelerate over the next few weeks, it will make traders question whether the current USDA export forecast might be too large. At a minimum, it puts more emphasis on needing a crop problem in South America to shift business to the U.S., extending our seasonally strong sales deeper into the spring. Soybean meal sales are good, but not as robust as two years ago. Soybean oil export sales are dismal. Unless they improve, oil in particular, they hint of a slow crush pace, adding to the struggle soybean prices might have in sustaining rallies for any length of time.

AgriVisor endorses crop insurance by

AgriVisor LLC 1701 N. Towanda Avenue PO Box 2500 Bloomington IL 61702-2901 309-557-3147 AgriVisor LLC is not liable for any damages which anyone may sustain by reason of inaccuracy or inadequacy of information provided herein, any error of judgment involving any projections, recommendations, or advice or any other act of omission.

Policies issued by COUNTRY Mutual Insurance Company®, Bloomington, Illinois AgriVisor Hotline Number

309-557-2274

Cents per bu.

ü2011 crop: December corn reached our $6.60 target for making catch-up sales. Leave an order to sell another 10 percent if December reaches $6.80. Hedge-to-arrive (HTA) sales for late winter/spring delivery are still the best tool for sales of farm-stored grain. Changing spread relationships may have diminished the economics of storing corn commercially. If so, plan sales around tax considerations. ü2012 crop: Use rallies to $6.20 on December 2012 futures for catch-up sales. We may add another increment at that level. Check the Hotline frequently. vFundamentals: The two central influences in the corn market remain uncertainty about the European debt situation and the persistent downward drag from wheat prices. In the short term, traders are banking on the framework of a plan to resolve European problems to come out of meetings this week. Chinese purchases may be the biggest wildcard going forward, but purchases for government inventory are political and not always easy to anticipate.

Soybean Strategy

ü2011 crop: The European financial problems are the key short term factor moving prices. Even though prices have been weak over the last week, higher levels should come. Target a move to $13 for catch up sales, and one to $13.15 to sell another 10 percent. A HTA for winter/spring delivery may pay if you store soybeans on the farm. Commercial storage is a closer call. ü2012 crop: Wait for a rally to $12.70 on November 2012 futures for catch-up sales. We may add another sale at that level; check the Hotline. vFundamentals: Even though Chinese business still has not risen to last year’s level, the U.S. soon will be the only place for them to source soybeans. Chinese crush margins have improved, and their port stocks have fallen to normal levels. Those factors and the resurgent pork sector, should bring enough buying to carry prices higher. Still, deteriorating U.S. crush margins may continue to

subdue domestic demand.

Wheat Strategy

ü2011 crop: Wheat has been unable to sustain upside momentum. As a result, the short-term picture still doesn’t look good, keeping prices poised to test the previous low at $5.96 on Chicago December futures. Hold off catch-up sales for now, because prices may rebound. We may recommend another 20 percent sale depending on the extent of any rebound; check the Hotline daily. The carry in futures still pays for commercial storage, making a HTA contract for winter or

spring delivery the best tool. ü2012 crop: Remain close to advice; we still are considering an initial sale. Check the Hotline daily. vFundamentals: The Southern Plains received beneficial rains a couple of weeks ago, but the weather pattern has turned dry again. No significant rains are in the forecast at least for the next week. Wet weather in Ohio and Indiana is preventing farmers from planting wheat, adding to uncertainty about next year’s crop. Pressure continues to come from world export competition.


FarmWeek Page 16 Monday, October 24, 2011

pERspEcTIvEs

A

Looking back and ahead

fter five years of exhausting struggle, Congress finally has approved a trio of freetrade agreements with Colombia, Panama, and South Korea. They’ll create thousands of jobs in the United States, lower prices for consumers, and generate billions of dollars in business opportunities for American-made products and commodities. All told, the agreements will provide a much-needed jolt to an economy that suffers from an unemployment rate of more than 9 percent. Think of this trade package as a jobs bill that doesn’t require the federal government to spend more money or to drive itself deeper into debt. There’s plenty DEAN KLECKNER of credit to go around. Let’s start with President Obama. He campaigned for the White House as a protectionist who threatened to renege on important international obligations, such as the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA). After his election, however, Obama felt the weight of the responsibility that comes with occupying the Oval Office — and he had the courage to change his mind on trade, even though it also required him to stand up to powerful special interests within his own party. At times, the president frustrated his new-found allies. Some of us questioned his devotion to the cause of trade. In the end, however, he made good on his commitments, even persuading the UAW (United Auto Workers) to get behind the agreement with South Korea,

I’m still puzzled about why the passage of these trade agreements took most of the year. With the political pieces in place by January, they could have been approved months ago. So what’s next for U.S. trade policy? Obama has talked up the Trans-Pacific Partnership, a potential accord that could improve ties between the U.S. and a number of countries that surround the Pacific Rim. This would be a remarkable and worthwhile accomplishment, though it’s probably best understood as a long-term objective. In the near term, the most important accomplishments may be defensive. Lawmakers must resist the protectionism that always tempts them during economic hard times and election years. One bad idea already is chugging through Congress. The Senate just approved a bill that would allow the federal government to identify nations that undervalue their currencies, define them as illegal subsidies, and slap special duties on their products. The legislation has a single target: China. As a law, this policy would produce two results. First, American consumers would pay more for products made in China. Second, China would retaliate against American-made goods and services, hurting our exports. Here’s another thought: Instead of igniting a trade war with Beijing, what about negotiating a free-trade agreement? Now that Obama has shown he can close a bilateral deal, maybe he should show us that he can start one.

at trade agreements

Scientists best qualified to teach science classes

Editor: My comments pertain to Kay Shipman’s article in the Oct. 3, 2011, issue of FarmWeek in which she reports on the practice of using high school ag teachers to teach science classes. She quotes an official saying this is occurring because there is a shortage of science teachers. Another contributing factor is the No Child Left Behind law requiring that schools show improvement in their graduation rates each year. Science classes are generally

which is America’s most significant trade deal since NAFTA. Now Obama can claim a substantial victory that will help him achieve his goal of doubling American exports by 2015. His predecessor also deserves high praise. President George W. Bush and his trade representatives negotiated these deals. Without their vision and effort, the pacts with Colombia, Panama, and South Korea never would have become realities. If this were a baseball game, Bush would be the starting pitcher who earns a win and Obama would be the closer who gets a save in a bipartisan triumph. The middle innings, however, were more than a little dicey, due to the obstructionism of Democrats in the House of Representatives, led by Nancy Pelosi. For years, their firm opposition was an insurmountable hurdle. While a number of Senate Democrats appeared ready to join their Republican colleagues in approving these trade agreements, House Democrats behaved as a disciplined bloc of protectionists. While they were in power, they exercised a functional veto over the enabling legislation. Then voters swept them out last November.

Dean Kleckner of Des Moines, Iowa, chairs Truth About Trade and Technology. He may be contacted through the group’s website at {www.truthabouttrade.org}.

Beware of dire predictions Here is a prediction: American farmers and ranchers will be able to feed this nation well into the future if given access to land, water, capital, and scientific advances. If you’d like the prediction to be more specific, let’s say the nation’s food supply will be secure until at least the year 2061. There’s an excellent chance this prediction will be true, but it’s hardly the stuff books are written about. A prediction like this would only bring a yawn, and the reader would go back to worrying about dire predictions of economic collapse or the 2012 apocalypse. Finally, someone has written a book about expert predictions: “Future Babble” by Dan Gardner. The author claims socalled expert predictions are next to worthless, and we can probably do better ourselves. The expert predictions that catch our eye are ones predicting doom and gloom. One such book was “Famine 1975!” Written by William and Paul Paddock in 1967, the book predicted food scarcities so severe that food aid would have to be cut off from a few nations leaving their populations to starve. India and Egypt were said to fit this description. The Paddocks underestimated the Green Revolution and other advances in production agriculture around the world, but they weren’t the only ones. Paul Ehrlich predicted a similar fate when he said, “The battle to feed all humanity is over,” in his book “The Population Bomb.” In a 1982 book, “Encounters with the STEWART TRUELSEN Future,” respected futurist Marvin Cetron and co-author Thomas O’Toole forecasted that the Soviet Union would invade Australia within 10 years for its natural resources. They missed the part about the Soviet Union crumbling. Why do we pay attention to expert predictions in the first place? In “Future Babble,” Gardner gives several reasons. Most people love certainty, so if someone says they know what will happen in the future, it attracts our attention. We jump to conclusions about the future because we tend to look for patterns where none exist. Randomness and chaos limit our ability to see very far ahead. We also are attracted to experts who are bold and confident about their predictions despite the fact that Gardner says they have the worst track records. In his words, “Reliable forecasting is a challenge on a par with climbing Mt. Everest barefoot.” Life is unpredictable and uncertain, but that isn’t as bad as it seems. Gardner believes an accurate prediction isn’t necessary to make good decisions. A rough sense of possibilities and probabilities will do fine. That’s why we can stick by our prediction that American farmers and ranchers will meet our food needs for at least the next 50 years. They’ve done it in the past despite all kinds of obstacles and dire predictions. There’s every reason to believe they can do it in the future. Stewart Truelsen is a regular contributor to the Focus on Agriculture series and is the author of a book marking the American Farm Bureau Federation’s 90th anniversary, Forward Farm Bureau.

LETTER TO THE EDITOR

harder for students to pass than ag classes. The shortage of science teachers could easily be addressed by making it easier for scientists to get a teaching certificate. There are many scientists in the state who could perform the duties of a science teacher far better than the incumbent teachers are doing and at a lower cost to the school districts. They are not being hired because the state and the universities have made it practically impossible for them to get a teaching certificate. With support from the

teachers’ unions, teaching certificates are become more and more restrictive. The practical effect is to minimize competition for the teaching jobs and to justify the positions of state and university employees supporting the certification programs. At the same time, again with the support from the unions, it is now practically impossible to fire tenured (four years) teachers no matter how poorly they are performing their assigned duties. Teaching quality would improve if the local school boards were free to fill teach-

ing positions with the best qualified employees and at the lowest cost to the district. In summary, if the state would do away with tenure, relate salaries to job perform-

Letter policy

Letters are limited to 300 words and must include a name and address. FarmWeek reserves the right to reject any letter and will not publish political endorsements. All letters are subject to editing, and only an original with a written signature and complete address will

ance, and certify all qualified applicants, the quality of education would improve and the cost would decrease. BILLY FAIRLESS, Burnside be accepted. A daytime telephone number is required for verification, but will not be published. Only one letter per writer will be accepted in a 60-day period. Typed letters are preferred. Send letters to: FarmWeek Letters 1701 Towanda Ave. Bloomington, Ill., 61701

FarmWeek October 24 2011  

FarmWeek October 24 2011