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USING THIS MASCOT, the Illinois Soybean Association kicked off its “This Bridge Needs Support” campaign last fall, and bridge repairs are in the news again. ........5

THE U.S. SUPREME COURT heard arguments last week in a biotech “seed saving” case that could result in a landmark decision, but the court may not rule until fall. ..............9

ILLINOIS AGRICULTURE in the Classroom has received $240,000 through the sale of agriculture specialty license plates. ..........................11

‘Farmers deserve certainty’

Promising farm bill ‘prognosis’ despite looming concerns

Monday, February 25, 2013


Amid a whirlwind of congressional activity and anxiety, an Illinois congressional freshman sees high-ranking hopes for a five-year farm bill in 2013. The House Ag Committee reportedly plans to assemble its farm bill in April. East Moline Democrat and committee member Cheri Bustos reported ranking committee Democrat Collin Peterson (D-Minn.) “feels better about the prognosis for a five-year farm bill moving forward.” Peterson has huddled with House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) to ensure “that not only we get something out of the Ag Committee, but that it be brought to a vote by the

Two sections Volume 41, No. 8

full House,” said Bustos. She said she was hopeful committee freshmen including herself, Taylorville Republican Rodney Davis, and Belleville Democrat Bill Enyart would re-energize the push for a five-year bill. Bustos chided the last Congress for merely extending 2008 farm bill provisions “at a time when farmers were living through the worst drought in a generation.” “The farmers deserve certainty,” she told FarmWeek last week in Peoria. However, despite Bustos’ hopeful outlook on the farm bill, other major concerns remain. Without agreement on a budget/deficit alternative this week, Congress faces

having to approve acrossthe-board “sequestration” cuts that could curtail key USDA services and pare the budget baseline for future ag program spending. The Senate Ag Committee reportedly plans to take up farm bill legislation in

See more coverage on page 4

March, despite a Senate Democrat budget plan that proposes to divert $27.5 billion in direct payment funding to long-term deficit reduction. Illinois Farm Bureau seeks farm bill approval by Congress’ August recess. Ag groups fear the budget proposal would signifi-

cantly reduce funds available for new House-Senate safety net programs and crop insurance. The Senate farm measure proposed roughly $25 billion in cuts not only in commodity programs, but also in conservation and nutrition spending. Meanwhile, the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) last week released its proposed ag baseline designed to guide 2013 farm bill development. At a projected $950 billion in available spending over 10 years, the new baseline poses a $30 billion reduction over CBO’s 2012 “score,” but the proposed budget hit was “not to the magnitude we’d expected,”

IFB President Philip Nelson noted. “We have myriad items that are all coming about at once,” he nonetheless said. “We’re very concerned when you put all these issues to the timeframe we’re looking at today to begin deliberations on a farm bill. “At the same time, we’re looking at potential acrossthe-board cuts in the Department of Agriculture as we write this farm bill.” Nelson believes the CBO baseline provides a “workable” farm bill foundation, though IFB National Legislative Director Adam Nielsen warns “the budget ax is only to get sharper” if Congress delays action.

Reis. His district encompasses the Southeastern Illinois area that has seen much commercial interest in hydraulic fracturing. As currently proposed, the regulations would apply only to high-volume, horizontal wells and would not impact traditional hydraulic fracturing on vertical wells. Before construction could begin, the Department of Natural Resources (DNR) would have to issue a permit. Well operators would be required to have pollution insurance, submit a bond, and submit detailed plans about their fracking operations. The state would establish setback requirements from water sources and specified structures, such as schools and churches. The proposed regulations also provide protection for surface landowners. Those include specific requirements detailing how land is to be restored to predrilling conditions after the drilling and hydraulic fracturing process is completed.

Operators would be required to disclose to DNR all chemicals used pre- and postfracking. That information would be posted on DNR’s website. Companies would be allowed to request trade-secret protection; however, they would have to submit a detailed justification for that action. Health professionals and others would be able to obtain trade-secret information to treat patients and respond to emergencies. Operators would be required to conduct all phases of the process in a way that would not endanger public health, life, property, and wildlife. They would be required to conduct mechanical integrity testing before starting the process and continuously monitor and record pressures and the injection rate during hydraulic fracturing operations. Other proposed requirements would govern fluid and waste handling, air pollution control, water testing, and public information.

IFB supports proposed regulations for horizontal fracking BY KAY SHIPMAN FarmWeek

Periodicals: Time Valued

Legislation proposing a regulatory process for high-volume hydraulic fracturing of oil and gas wells in Illinois was introduced by state Reps. John Bradley (D-Marion) and David Reis (R-Willow Hill) last week. Both sponsors called HB 2615 “historic.” It would establish regulations for specific uses of hydraulic fracturing

IFB lobbyists have been involved in lengthy negotiations to establish regulations for high-volume hydraulic fracturing that complies with IFB policy.

also known as fracking. “It’s a very good framework that protects farmers’ rights,” Reis told FarmWeek. “It is a delicate balance and the most comprehensive set of rules in the United States.” Bradley added: “We wanted to make sure we came up with a way to protect groundwater, communities, and farms in Southern Illinois and also a way for an industry to develop responsibly.” Bill Bodine, Illinois Farm Bureau associate director of state legislation, said, “Farm Bureau policy supports regulations for hydraulic fracturing that protect land and water resources while allowing for the commercial development of this resource. We feel the proposed regulatory structure strikes that balance.”

Last week, IFB representatives attended a bipartisan press conference with Reis, Bradley, and House leadership from both parties. Reis described the bill negotiations as “very contentious and very intense.” Among those involved were lawmakers and representatives of state agencies, the attorney general’s staff, agriculture, the oil and gas industry, and environmental groups. “We were able to bring together a coalition to support reasonable regulations,” Bradley said. “Everybody feels good about the process and how it worked.” For the last 1.5 years, potential hydraulic fracturing has been on hold and talk of a possible moratorium chilled further development, according to

FarmWeek on the web:

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Quick Takes


FarmWeek Page 2 Monday, February 25, 2013

NELSON HONORED — Illinois Farm Bureau President Philip Nelson was presented the Outstanding Service to Agriculture Award by the Illinois Society of Professional Farm Managers and Rural Appraisers during that organization’s recent annual meeting. Mark Wetzel, immediate past president of the society, cited Nelson’s life-long service to various agricultural organizations within the state as well as his service on USDA committees and advisory boards. He noted that Nelson “started with the state FFA Star Farmer citation in 1977 and has never slowed down.” Nelson has served as president of the IFB since 2003 and is on the American Farm Bureau Federation Board of Directors. He and his family operate a fourth-generation grain and livestock farm near Seneca.

CRP SIGN-UP — USDA last week announced it will conduct a four-week general sign-up for the Conservation Reserve Program (CRP) in late spring. The sign-up period will begin May 20 and end June 14. There currently are about 27 million acres enrolled in CRP, which is a voluntary program available to ag producers to help them safeguard environmentally sensitive land. Contracts on 3.3 million CRP acres will expire on Sept. 30. USDA encouraged producers with expiring contracts or environmentally sensitive land to evaluate their options under CRP. For more information, visit a local FSA service center or check the website {}.

FIELD MOM TOUR — Illinois Farm Families’ (IFF) field moms were scheduled to tour Steve Ward’s farm near Sycamore last Saturday. Steve Ward and his father, John, operate a wean-to-finish hog farm. This year 20 urban and suburban moms from the Chicago area were selected as the second group of field moms. They will tour six Illinois farms between February and November this year for a firsthand look at what farmers do every day. The field moms will get to know the farmers and ask questions as they tour beef, pork, canning vegetables, dairy, and grain farms. The coalition of Illinois farm organizations that makes up the IFF program includes the Illinois Farm Bureau, Illinois Pork Producers, Illinois Corn Marketing Board, Illinois Soybean Association, and the Illinois Beef Association.

(ISSN0197-6680) Vol. 41 No. 8

February 25, 2013

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. © 2013 Illinois Agricultural Association

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

Dick Craig, left, DuPage County Farm Bureau member, chats with Scott Shearer, center, with the Bockorny Group, and Michael Stokke with the Farm Credit Administration during Illinois Farm Bureau’s Governmental Affairs Leadership Conference last week. Shearer and Stokke discussed the political landscape during the conference in Springfield. (Photo by Kay Shipman)

Ag working in a changed political landscape


Farm Bureau leaders need to understand the changed political landscape in the nation’s capital and learn to work in it, two government experts said during the Illinois Farm Bureau Governmental Affairs Leadership Conference last week in Springfield. Scott Shearer of the Bockorny Group and Michael Stokke of the Farm Credit Administration shared their views not only of some challenges facing agriculture but also the circumstances under which farm leaders must work. The farm bill will be written and voted upon by a larger percentage of new lawmakers compared to previous farm bills, Shearer noted. Roughly 67 percent of the House and Senate has been elected over the last 10 years, and 40 percent of House Agriculture Committee members is new this year. “It used to be congressmen were on the (agriculture) committee for their (states’ main) commodity,” Shearer said. “Now there are more urban (committee) members with different interests.”

Watershed workshop focus bioenergy crops and conservation

Researchers and farmers will discuss the potential use of bioenergy crops as a conservation practice at a March 8 workshop. The meeting will be from 8 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. in the Fairbury First Baptist Church. Bioenergy crops are a potential revenue source on land that is less productive for growing corn and soybeans, said Cristina Negri, an agronomist and environmental engineer with Argonne National Laboratory. Negri has been researching bioenergy crops in the Fairbury area. During the workshop, farmers and others will discuss their experiences in growing bioenergy crops, the crops’ suitability to grow in adverse soil conditions, yields, potential markets, and water quality benefits. The workshop is sponsored by the U.S. Department of Energy’s bioenergy technology office. Refreshments will be served. Questions should be directed to Negri at or 630-252-9662.

He advised Farm Bureau leaders to become acquainted with Illinois’ new congressional members, especially those representing the Chicago area and those serving on the Agriculture Committee. Stokke also said it is critical that farmers reach out to congressmen. “You want them to rely on you to be their resource on agriculture policy,” he said. “These members want to get it (a farm bill) right and do no harm.” Both Stokke and Shearer focused on the need for compromise for passage of legislation. “There has to be a willingness on both sides to sit down and work toward the middle,” Shearer said. However, agriculture can provide something “unheard of in Washington ... optimism,” according to Stokke. He advised Farm Bureau leaders to emphasize that strength in their discussions with lawmakers. “You in agriculture have an amazing story. Agriculture has outperformed the other (industry) sectors of the country,” Stokke said. “You not only are feeding the country, you’re feeding the world.”

Tuesday: • Ag weather with an Illinois State Water Survey meteorologist • Jennifer Tirey, bureau chief of marketing and promotion with the Illinois Department of Agriculture • Jacob Meisner, Illinois Farm Bureau Young Leader • Erika Eckley, Center for Agricultural Law and Taxation Wednesday: • Sue Hofer, Illinois Department of Revenue • Kayla Friend, public relations manager for the Central Illinois Food Bank • Chris Merrett, director of the Illinois Institute for Rural Affairs • Brad Clow, Country Financial crop claims manager Thursday: • Illinois Beef Association representative • Rita Frazer live from the Commodity Classic • Doug Yoder, senior director of affiliate and risk management for Illinois Farm Bureau • Troy Frerichs, senior investment officer for Country Financial Friday: • Sara Wyant, Agri-Pulse publisher • Mike Doherty, senior economist with Illinois Farm Bureau • Cynthia Haskins, manager of business development and compliance with Illinois Farm Bureau

To find a radio station near you that carries the RFD Radio Network, go to, click on “Radio,” then click on “Affiliates.”


Page 3 Monday, February 25, 2013 FarmWeek


Above, Illinois Farm Bureau Young Leader Committee member Doug Kirk of Vermilion County, right, accepts food donations from Roger Walsh, a Livingston County Farm Bureau board member. (Photo by Kay Shipman) Right, IFB Young Leader Committee members Brent Pollard, left, of Winnebago-Boone County Farm Bureau, and Jared Finegan of Ford-Iroquois Farm Bureau, stack food donations from participants of the Governmental Affairs Leadership Conference last week. Looking on left to right are Kaliegh Friend and Kristy Gilmore, both with the Central Illinois Food Bank. The Young Leaders collected 532 pounds of food and $270 that will be distributed in the 21 Central Illinois counties served by the Food Bank. The Young Leaders met their goal and filled the bed of a Ford truck with food. The donations will be applied toward their Harvest for All campaign totals. (Photo by Ken Kashian)

Springfield happenings


Legislation and state government actions that took place last week: Farmland assessment law changes proposed — Leg-


islation proposing to amend the state farmland assessment law was introduced last week by Rep. Frank Mautino (DSpring Valley). Under HB 2651, any increase or decrease in the equalized assessed value

Feb. 26 IFB Crop Insurance and Truck Regulations seminars, 8 a.m., John A. Logan Community College’s H 127 and 128, Carterville, and 1 p.m., First Christian Church, Salem. To register, go to {} at least three days prior to the event. For more information, email or call 309-557-3207. Meet the Buyers event 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., Heartland Community College, Normal. Registration deadline is Friday. Call McLean County Farm Bureau at 309-663-6497 to register. Feb. 27 IFB Crop Insurance and Truck Regulations seminars, 8 a.m., The Holiday Hotel, Olney, and 1 p.m., Lake Land Community College’s West Building, Mattoon. To register, go to {} at least three days prior to the event. For more information, email or call 309-557-3207. March 1-3 Illinois Horse Fair, 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. Friday and Saturday, March 1 and 2, and 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Sunday, March 3, at the Illinois State Fairgrounds, Springfield. March 4 IFB Crop Insurance and Truck Regulations seminar, 8 a.m., Southeastern Illinois College, Harrisburg. To register, go to {} at least three days prior to the event. For more information, email or call 309-557-3207.

by soil productivity index (PI) would not exceed 10 percent of the certified assessed value of the state’s median soil PI. The changes were proposed by the Illinois Department of Revenue. Illinois Farm Bureau supports the legislation. State buys land in four counties — The state paid $2.8 million for 547 acres in four counties to be used for public access. The largest purchase was 410 Pike County

acres southwest of Pittsfield valued at $1.8 million. The funding came from the Illinois Open Lands Trust, which is funded by the governor’s capital program and intended for public recreation and conservation purposes. The other purchases were 64 Ogle County acres, valued at $450,000, to expand the Lowden-Miller State Forest; 71.8 McHenry County acres, valued at $511,000, to estab-

lish the Hackmatack National Wildlife Refuge, the first refuge established in Northern Illinois; and 0.94 of a Vermilion County acre, valued at $25,000, to expand the Kickapoo State Recreation Area. The Open Lands Trust is administered by the Illinois Department of Natural Resources. Since 1998, trust funding has acquired 41,000 acres for public recreation and conservation.


State Rep. Mary Flowers, right, (D-Chicago) chats with Warren-Henderson Farm Bureau leader Deb Moore of Roseville, center, and Carol Ricketts, the county Farm Bureau manager, during a legislator reception in Springfield last week. Flowers was “adopted” by Warren-Henderson Farm Bureau through the Adopt-a-Legislator program. About 18 “adopted” lawmakers were among the nearly 70 legislators who discussed issues with Farm Bureau leaders during the Governmental Affairs Leadership Conference. (Photo by Ken Kashian)


FarmWeek Page 4 Monday, February 25, 2013

Feds vs. states: What’s the right regulatory balance? BY MARTIN ROSS FarmWeek

U.S. Rep. John Shimkus argues state regulators are “every bit” as qualified as their federal counterparts, and closer to the ground — or the air or the water — they protect. In an effort to “set the stage for future discussions,” the Collinsville Republican moderated a House Energy and Commerce Committee hearing focusing on the role of the states in environmental protection. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is

set for a shift in leadership, and ag interests are concerned about the agency seeking broader authority. Shimkus argued states “are by no means junior regulators” and offer “the added bonus of actually living in the communities they are trying to make safe.” Last fall, a federal court upheld EPA’s authority to issue federal nutrient standards but ruled its nutrient criteria for Florida waters were arbitrary, unscientific, and unlawful. Under the federal Clean Air Act, states submit state imple-

mentation plans outlining plans to implement national air quality standards, subject to EPA approval. EPA has no such wide-ranging authority under the Clean Water Act, but American Farm Bureau Federation regulatory specialist Paul Schlegel argued environmental interests “have always wanted to make clean water like clean air.” “State and local governments are much closer to the reality of what’s going on on the ground — the states have a role to play under the Clean Water Act, and they ought to be allowed to play

it,” he told FarmWeek. “The clean air statute has nothing to do with economics: If (EPA) finds something in the environment endangers health, it has to regulate it. But when a state comes up with an implementation plan, EPA ought to give some deference to how states want to grapple with these things.” Illinois Coal Association President Phillip Gonet cites a range of EPA proposals seen as an “economic train wreck for coal” (see accompanying story). A new National Center for Policy Analysis report questions the future of coal

use in part due to the “massive regulatory burden imposed on coal power plants.” Gonet noted Illinois EPA emissions limits are more stringent than those of the federal EPA. However, IEPA rules are not as stringent as (EPA’s) proposed rules, and federal-state coordination is a “reasonable approach,” he argued. “It’s appropriate for the federal government to set a minimum standard (for states),” Gonet told FarmWeek. “I believe proposed regulations by the Obama administration are setting that bar too high.”

Bustos: Sequester impacts Climate, CAFOs, and clean water potentially wide-ranging

The regulatory agenda:

The administration, Congress, farmers, and the courts appear poised to grapple over the scope of regulated “waters,” federal control over smaller livestock producers, and renewed efforts to curb climate change. American Farm Bureau Federation (AFBF) regulatory specialist Paul Schlegel suggested the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) this spring may attempt to formally redefine “waters of the U.S.” that would be subject to federal regulation. On the air quality side, both the president’s State of the Union address and newly appointed Secretary of State John Kerry emphasized the global impact of greenhouse gas emissions and climate change. Kerry, who will represent the U.S. in forthcoming international climate talks, warned “rising temperatures and rising sea levels will surely lead to rising costs down the road.” President Obama urged Congress to “pursue a bipartisan, market-based solution to climate change.” Schlegel sees long odds on the House and Senate being able to reach consensus either on comprehensive climate measures or a “carbon tax” on greenhouse emissions such as that currently championed by Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.). “So what are we left with?” he posed. “What can the administration do in a regulatory regime?” Schlegel outlined possible moves by EPA in the months ahead: • Nutrient management. A Pennsylvania federal district court is expected to rule on whether EPA can “impose its own views” on states regarding federal nutrient total maximum daily load (TMDL) requirements within the northeast Chesapeake Bay. AFBF and Pennsylvania Farm Bureau sued EPA for prescribing a so-called “pollution diet” for farmers and others within the 64,000-square-mile watershed. Midwest interests fear EPA may consider Chesapeake-style regulations for the Mississippi River Basin. “We’re relying on specific language in the (federal) Clean Water Act, contending that the way the law is crafted, it’s clear Congress gave states the primary role of developing and implementing TMDLs,” Schlegel said. • The CAFO corral. Schlegel sees EPA attempting to “tighten the noose” on livestock producers by requiring smaller animal feeding operations to register as regulated concentrated animal feeding operations (CAFOs), based on the theoretical impact of farm “dust and feathers” on water quality. In December, EPA withdrew an order demanding a West Virginia poultry grower obtain a Clean Water Act discharge permit for storm water runoff. However, EPA hasn’t backed away from its basic stance on on-ground livestock or poultry “pollutants.” Schlegel noted talk of the agency seeking to regulate ammonia emissions from CAFOs, as well. — Martin Ross

U.S. Rep. Cheri Bustos implores bipartisan colleagues to resolve budget issues “in a reasonable way” before the severity of “sequestration” kicks in. During last week’s House recess, Bustos, an East Moline Democrat, argued budget sequestration could have wide-ranging economic impacts especially within her 17th District. She visited regional small businesses and defense contractors, a Canton medical device manufacturer, and Peoria’s USDA National Center for Ag Utilization Research (NCAUR) to “learn as much as I could about the possible impact of such severe actions as sequestration.” Across-the-board sequestration, directed by Congress after 2011 deficit reduction talks failed, is set to begin Friday if Congress can’t reach a budget accord. Under sequestration, military spending could be reduced by 7.5 percent, Medicare payments to providers by 2 percent, other mandatory spending by 8 percent, and non-defense discretionary spending by 8.4 percent. “These were designed to be cuts so severe and drastic and harmful that our country would never get to this point,” Bustos said last week in Peoria. “And here we are. That’s why I reached out to (House Speaker John Boehner) and said, ‘Leave us in Washington, where we can work through this problem together. Don’t send us home at this critical time.’” The non-partisan Congressional Budget Office

IFB National Legislative Director Adam Nielsen discussed budget concerns and the need for a five-year farm bill with U.S. Rep. Adam Kinzinger, a Manteno Republican, last week.

predicts a possible l.3 percent contraction in the U.S. economy during the six months after sequester would take effect, possibly pushing the nation back into a recession. Further, Bustos noted “a major defense presence” in Illinois, including the Rock Island Arsenal — her district’s largest employer. The district also includes hundreds of businesses that supply the defense industry. At the same time, Bustos stressed “how important a

place like (NCAUR) is not just to Peoria, not just to the State of Illinois, but even to our country and world.” Given NCAUR’s role in food safety, ag-based product development, and health issues, she argued that “for every dollar we invest, we get more in return.” “Ensuring we’re investing in what makes sense is a driver to me,” Bustos told FarmWeek. “And a place like the ag lab in Peoria makes sense to invest in.” — Martin Ross

Mark Berhow, right, research chemist with Peoria’s USDA National Center for Ag Utilization Research, discusses plant-derived components that could prevent or delay chronic disease development with visiting U.S. House Ag Committee member Cheri Bustos, an East Moline Democrat. Following a center tour, she hailed the lab’s achievements, from developing penicillin in 1941 and exploring potential new cancer therapies to devising “a better kind of kitty litter” using ag-based ingredients. “To think that all that is coming out of Peoria with the help of 100 Ph.Ds walking through the door every day,” Bustos told FarmWeek. (Photo by Kate O’Hara, National Center for Ag Utilization Research)


Page 5 Monday, February 25, 2013 FarmWeek

Rural bridges forgotten first link in ag chain

State-private cooperation key? BY MARTIN ROSS FarmWeek

In what Soy Transportation Coalition (STC) Director Mike Steenhoek deemed a rare State of the Union nod to transportation, President Obama proposed a new “Fix-it-First” program aimed at hiring

capital to help fund “modern ports to move our goods, modern pipelines to withstand a storm, modern schools worthy of our children.” Steenhoek hailed White House recognition of “the role public-private partnerships can play in addressing our trans-

IFB and Illinois Department of Transportation representatives discussed challenges in local bridge funding at the IFB Governmental Affairs Leadership Conference.

Americans to attack “our most portation challenges.” STC is seeking partnerships urgent (infrastructure) with state transportation repairs.” departments in a pilot project Obama specifically cited the focusing on bridge assessment nation’s 70,000-some “structechnology. turally deficient” bridges. SteenSteenhoek argues current hoek noted a “dramatic underinreliance on visual inspections vestment toward our nation’s has resulted in a significant bridge inventory,” urging the percentage of federal bridges desigment to be “a more robust part- L i s t e n t o M i k e S t e e n h o e k ’s nated with ner” with states in comments about the public- unnecessary or surface infrastruc- private bridge initiative at “overly vative” load ture financing. postings, limited “Locks and access on some rural roads, or dams and rail and interstate bridges being questionably highways are very important,” identified for rehabilitation or Steenhoek told FarmWeek. “But the modes of transporta- replacement. That can force ag traffic to tion that are most tangible for take unwarranted, costly farmers are these rural roads detours and forces agencies to and bridges.” wastefully allocate scarce Obama also proposed a “Partnership to Rebuild Amer- resources, he said. Use of advanced sensing ica” that would tap private

technologies offers more accurate rural bridge assessment, he said. STC is willing to share the cost of those technologies with transportation agencies within its 11-state territory, including Illinois’ Department of Transportation. Iowa is the first state to join forces with STC: Testing has begun with assistance from Iowa State University’s College of Engineering. Steenhoek said he hopes success in Iowa might attract other “cash-strapped” states, though he admits the STC initiative is “a different model for a lot of states.” “They don’t have a real legacy of engaging the private sector in cost-sharing initiatives like this,” Steenhoek said. “There are a lot more hoops you have to jump through. You have to engage both the state and the county. “The problem’s not as

severe with state bridges as it is with rural bridges owned by municipalities or, usually, the county. But the state DOT

gives approval for the process by which bridges are evaluated or subsequently rated.”


70,000 The estimated number of structurally deficient bridges across the U.S.

3,000 The number of structurally deficient bridges in Illinois, according to the Illinois Department of Transportation and the Federal Highway Administration.

$10.25 The reported economic return for every dollar invested in repairing or updating deficient bridges.

2,500 The average number of extra trips Stockland Grain Co. must make to its rail loading facility in Iroquois County annually because of reduced weight limits on the 105year-old North Road Bridge.

Using this agitated mascot, the Illinois Soybean Association (ISA) kicked off its “This Bridge Needs Support” campaign last fall to raise awareness of rural bridge deterioration throughout the state. The campaign, which focuses on local, state, and federal efforts, is the result of a “critical bridge assessment” targeting bridges in Adams, Bureau, Clinton, DeKalb, Iroquois, McLean, Macoupin, Peoria, Shelby, and Wayne counties. Those counties represent each Illinois crop reporting district plus Peoria, a central point for grain origination and Illinois River staging.

Immigration reform impacts the dairy case Rockford dairyman Brent Pollard hopes Congress will recognize the public and economic impact of a strong dairy sector as it focuses on immigration reform. Labor challenges “add another layer of uncertainty to an already uncertain industry,” the Illinois Farm Bureau board advisory member said. Pollard, IFB state Young Leader Committee chairman, stressed the need for an “expedient and streamlined” process that ensures an “available, competent workforce.”

Labor availability is “becoming a bigger issue” amid proliferation of specialized crop and livestock operations, said IFB President Philip Nelson. Nelson said he sees 2013 as a possible “defining moment” for immigration reform, with bipartisan lawmakers “fleshing out” proposals aimed at satisfying both proponents of tighter border security and those who support options for undocumented workers across the U.S. Pollard, who milks 100 cows, notes widespread use of

migrant labor throughout Illinois’ dairy sector, not only in the milking parlor but also for grooming, pen maintenance,

Ag Undersecretary Kevin Concannon last week announced tough new measures as a part of USDA’s ongoing effort to ensure integrity in the federal Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) — i.e., food stamps. The announcement codified an expanded legal definition of SNAP benefit “trafficking”

that includes not only the direct exchange of SNAP benefits for cash but also other indirect methods of obtaining cash for SNAP benefits. The expanded definition now includes so-called “water dumping,” or the purchase of beverages in containers with returnable deposits for the sole purpose of discarding the con-

tents and returning the containers to obtain cash refunds; and the sale or purchase of products originally purchased with SNAP benefits for purposes of exchanging those products for cash or other items. Nutrition programs including SNAP fall under farm bill authority.

‘We’re just looking for a simple program that allows people to get visas to work when they want to work.’ — Brent Pollard Illinois Farm Bureau Young Leader chairman

USDA tightens SNAP regulations

and general herd care. “After they’ve been established for awhile, a lot of them work up to herdsmanlevel activities: lower management roles on the farm; overseeing an area such as calving, transition cows, the heifer side of the operation,” he related. “We pay well above minimum wage — these are attractive jobs. These people want to do the work because of what we pay for these jobs. We’re just looking for a simple program that allows people to get visas to work when they want to work.”

The immigration debate hit a snag last week after President Obama introduced a plan that seeks a potential “path to citizenship” for currently undocumented immigrants, heightened border security, and required electronic verification of prospective workers, but does not include a guest worker program. That omission would render Obama’s plan “dead on arrival,” warned Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.), one of eight bipartisan senators who have drafted a framework for reform. Under the current system, ag employers are expected to prove good-faith efforts in employing legal workers but are unable to personally verify worker documentation. “We try to do everything to the letter of the law, as it’s laid out for us,” Pollard told FarmWeek. “But if a worker gives us incorrect or falsified papers, there’s nothing we can do about it.” — Martin Ross


FarmWeek Page 6 Monday, February 25, 2013

USDA predicts rebound in crop production, lower prices

USDA chief economist, said last week at the USDA Ag Outlook Forum in Arlington, Va. “One may have a sense of déjà vu as the forecast is similar to last year’s forecast, which also called for record corn and soybean crops.” USDA issued another bullish crop production forecast this year based on its expecta-

tion for a return to more normal weather. Strong crop prices, profitable crop insurance guarantees, and more land available from the Conservation Reserve Program (contracts for 2.5 million CRP acres expired last fall) are expected to encourage U.S. farmers to plant the second-most acres of corn, soybeans, and wheat, combined, since 1982. USDA projected plantings this year will total 96.5 million acres of corn (down from 97.2 million last year), 77.5 million acres of soybeans (up 300,000 acres), and 56 million acres of wheat (also up 300,000). If those plantings are realized and yields return to trendline averages, USDA projected crop production this year will total a record 14.53 billion bushels for corn (up 34.8 percent from last year), 3.4 billion bushels for beans (up 12.9 percent), and 2.1 billion bushels of wheat (down 7.4 percent). Wheat production is expected to slip a bit from last year due to possible crop abandonment in the Plains where dry-

The farm economy is strong and should remain that way this year, said Joe Glauber, USDA chief economist. “Despite the drought, I think the ag economy is still very strong,” Glauber said last week at the USDA Ag Outlook Forum in Arlington, Va. USDA last week projected U.S. ag exports for fiscal year 2013 will reach a record-high $142 billion, up $6.2 billion from a year ago. The boost in the value of exports is due to high commodity prices, record sales of soybeans (worth more than $22 billion),


USDA last week predicted crop production will rebound in a big way and prices subsequently will decline this growing season. Of course, USDA issued a similar forecast a year ago for the 2012 season before the drought set in and flipped those predictions upside down. “We’re expecting a rebound in yields, record crops, and lower prices,” Joe Glauber,

Visit to listen to Mike Doherty’s observations about the recent USDA Outlook Forum.

Joe Glauber, left, USDA chief economist, discusses his forecast for farm returns with Mike Doherty, center, Illinois Farm Bureau senior economist and policy analyst, and Robert Thompson, right, senior fellow for the Chicago Council on Global Affairs and University of Illinois professor emeritus. Glauber gave the forecast last week at the USDA Ag Outlook Forum in Arlington, Va. (Photo by Daniel Grant)

ness remains a major issue. “There’s still significant drought in the Central Plains,” Glauber said. “But it’s improved a lot in the eastern Corn Belt.” Glauber noted there is little correlation between rainfall totals from one year to the next, which is part of the reason

USDA predicted a return to normal yields this season. A return to more normal weather and large plantings likely will boost crop inventories and sink prices. Global corn stocks as a percent of use currently are projected to be the lowest since 1973/74. USDA projected 2013/14

season average prices of $4.80 for corn, $10.50 for beans, and $7 for wheat. “Large global supplies should lead to stock rebuilding in 2013/14,” Glauber said. “But markets will remain volatile until production levels are known with more certainty.”

and a 1.3 percent increase in meat exports. Corn exports, however, are down 38 percent in volume. In fact, USDA projected Brazil this year will surpass the U.S. in corn exports. High commodity prices, record exports, and crop insurance payments helped U.S. farmers earn a record-high $135.6 billion in net cash income last year, according to USDA estimates. Indemnity payments for 2012 losses currently total $14.7 billion and could reach a recordhigh $17 billion.

This year, net cash income is projected to slip 9 percent to $123.5 billion. “The financial situation is quite solid,” Glauber said. “However, there are sharp differences between sectors. Crop losses hit uninsured and underinsured farmers much harder.” Crop losses that led to feed shortages and higher feed costs also weighed heavily on margins for livestock producers. “The U.S. cattle and calf herd is at its lowest level since 1952,” Glauber said. “Strong pork and broiler exports helped keep margins higher than they would

have been otherwise, but high feed costs have limited hog, poultry, and dairy expansion.” Glauber predicted livestock farmers will have some relief this year in the form of higher prices for their products and lower feed costs later in the year. USDA projected prices this year will increase 5.4 percent for cattle, 3.5 percent for hogs, and 4 percent for milk. Other economic measures are encouraging for the ag industry. USDA projected farm equity will reach record levels in 2012 and 2013. Meanwhile, the farm debt-to-asset ratio for 2013 is forecast at 10.2 percent, which would be the lowest level since

USDA began calculating it in 1960.

1 totaled 11.1 million head, down 6 percent from a year ago. Placements in feedlots during January totaled 1.88 million, up 2 percent. Placements prior to the report declined for seven consecutive months. Ron Plain, University of Missouri economist, said this year’s cattle numbers imply the inventory in January 2014 could be about 1.5 percent smaller than last month. The smaller herd indicates prices could climb higher. Plain estimated fed cattle prices this year could average around $130 per hundredweight, on a live weight basis. Overall, there is a shrinking supply of cattle in North Amer-

ica, according to Close. One of the only areas of the world with an expanding cattle herd is Brazil. However, hog and chicken production could grow this year in the U.S., particularly if crop production returns to normal and feed prices stabilize. “Broiler production is up 2 percent so far this year,” Close said. “They (poultry producers) are positioning themselves to regain marketshare” as a replacement for beef. Hog numbers in the U.S. could grow, too. Close predicted sow numbers in next month’s quarterly hogs and pigs report could increase 1.5 percent. — Daniel Grant

Auction Calendar

Glauber: Farm economy strong, expected to remain so this year

Cattle herd projected to shrink; hog, chicken numbers could grow

The U.S. cattle herd likely will continue to shrink, according to market analysts. If so, cattle prices are expected to increase this year and possibly climb higher in 2014. “North American cattle supplies will be curtailed for at least two years,” said Don Close, vice president of food and ag research at Rabo AgriFinance. “We’re going to see prices go higher.” The U.S. cattle herd as of Jan. 1 totaled 89.3 million head, down 1.2 percent from last year. That’s the smallest herd since 1952. USDA last week in its monthly cattle on feed report estimated the inventory of cattle and calves on feed as of Feb.

Tues., Feb. 26. 9 a.m. Annual Spring Farm Machinery Con. Auc. CARLINVILLE, IL. Rick Stewart, Auctioneer. or Tues., Feb. 26. 10 a.m. Modern Clean Farm Eq. Edwin Lawrence Estate, WARRENSBURG, IL. Mike Maske Auction Service. Tues., Feb. 26. Douglas Co. Land Auc. Justus Seaman Trust Farm. Soy Capital Ag Services. Wed., Feb. 27. 10 a.m. Bureau and Stark Co.’s Farmland Auc. Brummel Realty, LLC Wed., Feb. 27. Online Only Unreserved Auc. Wed., Feb. 27. 10 a.m. Bureau/Stark Counties Farmland. Paul and Cluskey, WYANET, IL. Rediger Auction Service and Brummel Realty, LLC. or Thurs., Feb. 28. McLean Co. Farmland. Len Jones Trust Heirs. Soy Capital Ag Services. Thurs., Feb. 28. 9 a.m. Peoria Co. Farmland. Marcus W. Britton, DUNLAP, IL. Jim Maloof Farm and Land, John Leezer. Fri., Mar. 1. 10 a.m. McLean Co. Land

To listen to comments by USDA chief economist Joe Glauber, go to

Farm assets for 2013 also are projected to set a new record at $2.732 trillion. On the downside, farm expenses this year are projected to total $316.6 billion. Feed costs are expected to increase $4 billion, labor costs could rise by almost $3 billion, and rental expenses were forecast to jump $1.7 billion. — Daniel Grant Auc. STANFORD, IL. Farmers National Co. Fri., Mar. 1 and Sat., Mar. 2. 9:30 a.m. both days. Consignment Auction. RANTOUL, IL. Gordon Hannagan Auction Co. Sat., Mar. 2. 10 a.m. Farm Machinery Estate Auc. Estate of Edward Matzenbacher, WATERLOO, IL. Schaller Auc. Service. or Sat., Mar. 2. 9 a.m. Consignment Auc. MURPHYSBORO, IL. Canning Auction Service. or Sat., Mar. 2. 9 a.m. Farm Machinery. Dean Monke Farm, MT. OLIVE, IL. Ahrens and Niemeier. Sat., Mar. 2. 26th Annual Con. Auc. Murrayville-Woodson Emergency Ambulance Service. Sat., Mar. 2. 10 a.m. Calhoun Co. Land Auc. PLEASANT HILL, IL. Buy A Farm. Sat., Mar. 2. 9 a.m. Farm & Construction Eq. Consignment Auc. TREMONT, IL. Cal Kaufman and Brent Schmidgall, Auctioneers. or

Page 7 Monday, February 25, 2013 FarmWeek


FarmWeek Page 8 Monday, February 25, 2013

Analyst: Uncertainty abounds in crop markets BY DANIEL GRANT FarmWeek

Farmers should prepare for another year of volatility in the commodity markets. Tight crop supplies, strong demand, and weather uncertainly will keep the market on edge, according to Don Close, vice president of food and agribusiness research at Rabo AgriFinance, which is part of Rabobank. “This approaching crop (season) has the highest level of uncertainty I’ve seen in Don Close the 35 years I’ve been doing this,” Close said last week at the Grain and Feed Association of Illinois’ convention and trade show in St. Louis. “It doesn’t matter what market (is the focus). It all hinges on weather.” Crop supplies are tight in the U.S. due in large part to drought losses last year. USDA this month lowered

ending stocks of soybeans to a razor-thin 125 million bushels. Close projected ending stocks of corn could sink to 560 million bushels, from the current level of 632 million bushels, prior to harvest. “We’re using beans at a faster pace than we will be able to sustain,” Close said. “We could see a lot of price volatility the next two weeks to month (as the world transitions to South American bean supplies).” Rabobank recently predicted average crop prices (for corn and wheat) this year could peak in the second quarter before tailing off in the third and fourth

quarters (see graphic). Close, however, emphasized the price projections are

based on normal growing conditions this season. If adverse weather impacts yields again

this year, it could be a much different price scenario. “Clearly we’ve seen (drought) improvement in the eastern Corn Belt,” he said. “But there’s still a great deal of concern in states such as Nebraska, Kansas, and Iowa for this coming summer.” Drought conditions currently are having a negative impact on the prospects for the U.S. hard red winter wheat crop in the Southern Plains. “The volatility we’ve seen in the marketplace the last several years is not going to get better; it probably will get worse,” Close added. “It could be more stress. But it also could present opportunities.”

The drought eased in Illinois in recent months, but it will continue to affect operations at country elevators and terminals until harvest. Drought-stressed crops last year not only reduced the volume of grain and oilseeds delivered to many elevators, but it

also created storage and quality issues at some locations due to aflatoxin. Crop production in Illinois last year declined 34 percent for corn and 10 percent for beans compared to 2011. “This grain year has been stressful from a reduced volume

standpoint,” Brian Kierna, manager of the Demeter/Seegers Grain elevator in Harvard, told FarmWeek last week at the Grain and Feed Association of Illinois (GFAI) 120th annual convention and trade show in St. Louis. “But we’re always one good crop away from building comBrian Kierna fortable supplies,” he said. Tight crop supplies have heightened volatility at many elevators. “In past drought years we had big inventories to absorb it,” said Kierna, who has been in the grain industry since 1984. “But this drought we didn’t (have the inventories).” Kierna, the new president of GFAI, also believes aflatoxin issues could resurface, particularly in the southern half of the state, when the temperature warms up this spring. “It’s not unthinkable (for aflatoxin levels in corn) to go from 10 parts per billion (ppb) to 20 parts ppb (the threshold for human consumption) just in storage,” he said. “The situation has forced some corn into the pipeline sooner rather than later.” The drought also created

problems shipping crops on the Illinois and Mississippi rivers due to low water levels. The situation has improved due to recent rains, but it continues to be a concern. “(Barge) operators are still trying to make up for lost business the last several months,” Paul Rohde of Waterways Council Inc. told GFAI members. “We should be in decent shape (this spring if the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers continues to remove rock pinnacles obstructing barge movements in the Mississippi) and presuming we get close to normal rainfall.” Goals and priorities for GFAI this year include engaging membership, increasing participation in its scholarship program, expanding health and safety training, and working with newly elected lawmakers to familiarize them with industry issues, Kierna said. “We see over 50 percent of scholarship recipients come back to work in the industry,” he said. “That’s what it’s all about, bringing young talent into the industry.” GFAI will expand safety training opportunities for members by adding a new staff person to focus on that area. GFAI also provides training and curriculum used at the new Asmark Institute training facility in Bloomington. — Daniel Grant

GFAI members deal with storage, supply issues

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Cattle feeders meeting March 6


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The annual Illinois Cattle Feeders Day will be Wednesday, March 6, at the Ogle County Farm Bureau building in Oregon. The event will begin at 9 a.m. and conclude at 4 p.m. A complimentary lunch will be provided. The seminar will highlight low-stress cattle handling, changing market parameters, future economic considerations in the beef industry, and the latest in feeding strategies. Registration is free, but seating is limited. The registration deadline is March 1. Call Travis Meteer at 217-823-1340 to sign up for the meeting. More information is available at {}. Click on 2013 Illinois Cattle Feeders Day on the right side of the page.


Page 9 Monday, February 25, 2013 FarmWeek

High court reviews potential landmark seed case BY MARTIN ROSS FarmWeek

The U.S. Supreme Court heard arguments last week in a biotech “seed saving” case that, according to a Cornell University plant patent expert, could have “a significant chilling effect” on biotech investment. Bowman v. Monsanto Co. pits the St. Louis-based biotech company against Vernon Bowman, an Indiana farmer charged with illegally replanting Roundup Ready soybean seed. Bowman signed grower contracts with Monsanto for his original Roundup Ready crop but subsequently planted beans purchased from an elevator that had some beans containing Monsanto’s technology. He then replanted seed from plantings that survived a Roundup herbicide application. Bowman argued he had the right to freely use products he purchased legally, but a federal judge ordered Bowman to pay

Monsanto more than $84,000 for patent infringement. According to Cornell’s William Lesser, the case focuses on patent rights regarding “self-replicating” products such as seeds — a currently illdefined “anomaly” within the intellectual property arena. Monsanto attorney Seth Waxman maintained that “without the ability to limit reproduction of soybeans containing this patented trait,” Monsanto would have been unable to commercialize the Roundup Ready trait. “Monsanto and other biotech companies invest enormous amounts of money not only in the development of these traits but also in getting regulatory approval, (product) registration, and so on,” Lesser told FarmWeek. “If, in the worst-case scenario, they sold seed and someone could save their harvest and replant it, they really wouldn’t have much time at all to recoup the investment they’ve put into these enor-

Oil, grocery groups ask Supreme Court to reconsider E15

Biofuels interests last week appeared unfazed by a proposal to take E15 to the U.S. Supreme Court. The American Petroleum Institute (API) and the Grocery Manufacturers Association (GMA) have asked the Supreme Court to reverse an August District of Columbia circuit court decision to dismiss the groups’ challenge to the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) decision to allow 15 percent ethanol blends to be sold for use in 2001 model year or later cars. “Good luck with that,” Renewable Fuels Association (RFA) President Bob Dinneen mused. “We now know why gas prices keep going up and up — to fund unnecessary Big Oil lawsuits to protect their monopoly on the fuel market.” The groups’ original suit argued EPA’s E15 decision was not within the agency’s legal authority. API, GMA, and affiliated groups maintained that under the Clean Air Act, the EPA administrator may grant a waiver for a new fuel additive only if it “will not cause or contribute to a failure of any emission control device or system.” RFA Friday was uncertain when the high court might consider the API-GMA request.

IDNR schedules idea sessions for Conservation Congress

The Illinois Department of Natural Resources (IDNR) is hosting brainstorming sessions for the upcoming Conservation Congress. Each session will start at 7 p.m. and last about two hours. Dates and locations include: Tuesday and Wednesday, Heartland Community College,

Normal; March 4 and 5, Western Illinois University’s, Moline campus; March 12, 13, and 14, South Shore Cultural Center, Chicago; and March 21 and 22, Southwestern Illinois College, Belleville. The Conser vation Congress will be held in September but a date has yet to be deter mined.

mously expensive biotech traits. The high court may not rule

contract law “and would probably prevail,” Lesser said. But while a ruling for Monsanto

‘Monsanto and other biotech compan i e s i nve s t e n o r m o u s a m o u n t s o f money not only in the development of these traits but also in getting regulatory approval, (product) registration, and so on.’ — William Lesser Cornell University

until fall, Lesser suggested. Seed companies could pursue illegal seed savers under

would affirm seed patent rights, he warned companies likely would have to prosecute

contract infringement on a case-by-case basis. A ruling against Monsanto could affect continued availability of traits even after their patents expire. Monsanto has indicated it would not take action against growers who replant seed with the trait following Roundup Ready patent expiration in 2014. However, while the trait no longer would be patentprotected, other companies could enforce patents on crop varieties that include expired traits. “If (Bowman v. Monsanto) goes against them, they wouldn’t be able to do that, either,” Lesser advised.

Developing countries pick up biotech pace

For the first time since the introduction of biotech crops almost two decades ago, developing countries in 2012 grew biotech crops on more land than did industrialized countries. That’s according to a report released last week by the International Service for the Acquisition of Agri-Biotech Applications. Developing nations planted 52 percent of

global biotech crops in 2012, up from 50 percent a year earlier and higher than the 48 percent that industrialized countries, including the U.S., grew last year. In 2012, the growth rate for biotech crops was more than three times as fast and five times as large in developing countries vs. industrial nations.

FarmWeek Page 10 Monday, February 25, 2013

We have Illinois covered for you

RFD Radio Network broadcasters Rita Frazer and Alan Jarand.

For the complete picture of what’s happening in ag, listen to the RFD Radio Network®. Tune in to your favorite program on these local radio stations: Station













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Mercer Madison Union Kane McLean McLean McDonough Alexander Henry Fulton Fulton White Hancock Champaign Coles Dewitt Vermillion Macon Macon DeKalb Lee Perry Effingham Kane Wayne

102.3 1570 1440 1280 104.1 1230/ 93.7 104.7 1490 93.9/102 1560 107.9 1460 990 99.1 1270/107 1520 980 95.1 1340 1360/98.9 1460 1580 102.3 1410 1390/104.9


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103.9 92.1 1570 94.9 1400 102.5 106.3 101.7 1240 1510 100.9 1180 1480 1320 1450/104.3 910/103.1 96.3 106.1 1510 1330 1550 100.5 940/94.1 1420 104.7


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To hear your favorite programs, scan this QR code -- or visit and click on “Radio.”


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Page 11 Monday, February 25, 2013 FarmWeek

Vilsack: USDA seeks to minimize farm risks Farming always has been and always will be a risky business. USDA, however, is taking steps to help farmers minimize their risk so they’re better prepared to handle the Tom Vilsack challenges. “We’re trying to mitigate the effects of drought,” Ag Secretary Tom Vilsack said last week during his keynote address at the USDA Ag

Outlook Forum in Arlington, Va. The theme of the event was “Managing Risk in the 21st Century.” USDA last year formed a drought task force and implemented steps to help farmers survive the drought. Those included such things as opening Conservation Reserve Program ground for grazing and relaxing crop insurance premium payments. Long-term, Vilsack believes multi-cropping strategies, such as the use of double-crops or cover crops, also could benefit farmers,

the soil, and the environment. “It (multi-cropping) is another tool to manage the risk of weather,” he said. “There are many different production systems people may want to use.” Weather risks could intensify in the future. “There’s no doubt the climate is changing,” Vilsack said. “Higher temperatures lead to more intense weather patterns, which increase stress on crops and livestock.” USDA’s climate change adaptation plan recommends measures such as expanded

pest forecasting, increased soil management efforts, and improved outreach to minimize future risks. There also are a number of man-made risks that could hinder farming in the nearby and long-term future, according to the ag secretary. USDA is faced with making mandated budget cuts of 5 to 6 percent across the board come Friday unless Congress acts. There also is great uncertainty in farming caused by the lack of a new farm bill. “Some of these risks (in agriculture) can be solved if Congress does its job,”

Farmers will have an opportunity for one-on-one meetings with regional produce buyers at a Meet the Buyers event from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Wednesday, March 6, in the DeKalb County Farm Bureau building in Sycamore. Interested farmers must register by March 4. Participating buyers will provide an overview of their organization and their procurement needs. “We have grocery buyers, foodservice distributors, an organization that makes direct-to-consumer deliveries, another organization that prepares meals for schools, and a state procurement department attending,” said Cynthia Haskins, Illinois Farm Bureau manager of business development and compliance. The day will start with

University of Illinois-Extension, presentations on MarketReady and Good Agriculture Practices (GAPs). MarketReady is designed to teach growers best commercial business practices for retail markets. GAPs are a set of recommendations that can help improve produce quality and safety. Hosting the event are the DeKalb County Farm Bureau and surrounding county Farm Bureaus, U of I Extension, IFB, Illinois Department of Agriculture (IDOA), and the Illinois Specialty Growers Association. “In this industry, the difficulty for producers often lies in making the right connections. These events are the perfect setting for the proper people to meet and begin building working relationships,” said Kendra Buchanan,

IDOA local foods liaison. “The interest for local food, in particular fresh fruits and vegetables, continues to grow,” said Greg Millburg, DeKalb County Farm Bureau manager. “We have organizations traveling as far away as St. Louis and Chicago in addition to several organizations located right here in our

community that want to meet with Illinois farmers who are growing fresh fruits and vegetables.” The event is open and free to farmers from across Illinois, but they have to register by March 4. For information or to register, call the DeKalb County Farm Bureau at 815-7566361.


Meet the Buyers event planned for Northern Illinois

IAITC earns $240,000 from ag plates

Illinois Agriculture in the Classroom (IAITC) has received $240,000 through the sale of agriculture specialty license plates. Statewide, about 2,800 vehicles are sporting the special plates. For each new ag specialty plate, IAITC receives $25 of the $40 fee with $15 going to the secretary of state’s office. For each renewed plate, IAITC receives $25 of the $27 renewal fee with the remainder going to the secretary of state. The plates were first offered in 2007-08.



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Vilsack said. One of the other great challenges for agriculture, according to Vilsack and former Sen. Tom Daschle, who also spoke at the Ag Outlook Forum, is closing the information gap between farmers and consumers. “We need to bridge the gap between people who produce food and those who consume it,” said Daschle, senior policy adviser for DLA Piper law firm. Daschle said scientific advances in crop production can help farmers produce more food with fewer inputs. But improving crops and production systems will take an investment of time and money. “We’re not investing enough to improve ag productivity,” Daschle said. He said he also believes more research is needed to develop systems that better deliver food to regions of the world that need it. “Thirty to 50 percent of food produced in the world rots or goes uneaten,” Daschle added.


FarmWeek Page 12 Monday, February 25, 2013

IFB study tour to address animal care issues in Europe


Illinois Farm Bureau’s 2013 study tour will concentrate on animal care issues and how they have evolved in the European Union (EU). The objective of the tour is to expose Illinois farmer leaders first-hand to the consumer, retail, legislative, and other stakeholders who affected change on EU livestock production methods. The tour, tentatively scheduled June 23 through July 2, will include only 10 at-large farmers this year. It

will include visits in the United Kingdom, France, Belgium, Holland, Germany, and Denmark. Selected farmers must show active involvement in livestock production and marketing and be well versed on animal care issues related to their production. Tour participants also must meet certain criteria, including: • Be a voting member. • Be able to fund approximately one-third of the total tour cost ($1,500 to $2,000). • Give presentations

about the trip after its conclusion and media interviews before and after the trip. In addition, for this study tour, participants also will be expected to provide active leadership (visiting legislators, food companies, consumer groups) on animal care issues. There are other provisions, and county Farm Bureaus have application forms and further details. IFB is to receive the applications back from the counties by the end of the day Friday, March 15.

week, but they really delved into learning about corn by sculpting starch packing peanuts. Dan Mag gart, general manager of Piatt FS, discussed with the students the sources of their meals and the factors that make Central Illinois an ideal location to grow corn. “I think it’s so important for kids to know where their food comes from and to teach them about agriculture as much as we can,” Maggart told FarmWeek. Agriculture in the Classroom (AITC) lessons in Monticello and elsewhere around the state have been assisted by GROWMARK’s $75,000 donation to the IAA Foundation last year to support ag literacy efforts. To mark National FFA Week, agriculture students

from Monticello High School helped the younger students learn about different aspects of corn and its history. Emily Bakken, Piatt County Farm Bureau manager, and Illinois Farm Bureau manager trainee Kate Lansaw helped the high school students as they did hands-on activities with the elementary students. With giggles and groans, teams of youngsters competed to build the largest standing sculpture from corn starch packing peanuts. Afterward, each student made colored corn starch putty in a sandwich bag. “The corn starch particles turn to a solid and a liquid all at once. Isn’t that cool?” Lansaw asked the students. “It’s cool,” one answered.

AITC sprouts corny lessons during FFA Week Will County Farm Bureau member Jerry Davidson accepts FB ACT supplies from Jenny Harrison, an administrative assistant in the Illinois Farm Bureau Governmental Affairs and Commodities Division, during the Governmental Affairs Leadership Conference last week. FB ACT is the Farm Bureau Agricultural Contact Team. Davidson and other county FB ACT chairmen received supplies for working with legislators and other elected officials on behalf of Farm Bureau. (Photo by Kay Shipman)


Inquisitive Monticello fifth graders learned the parts of a corn kernel and the many uses of corn last



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Dan Maggart, general manager of Piatt FS, shows sweet corn seed to Washington Elementary fifth graders in Monticello last week. Maggart was joined by Monticello High School ag students, Piatt County Farm Bureau manager Emily Bakken, and Illinois Farm Bureau manager trainee Kate Lansaw. Ag literacy programs in Monticello and elsewhere in Illinois have been assisted by GROWMARK’s $75,000 donation to the IAA Foundation last year to support Illinois Agriculture in the Classroom. (Photo by Kay Shipman)


Page 13 Monday, February 25, 2013 FarmWeek


DAMS — Farm Bureau will sponsor a Viewpoint luncheon at 11:30 a.m. Monday, March 4, at the Farm Bureau office. Sen. John Sullivan (D-Rushville) and Rep. Jil Tracy (R-Mt. Sterling) will be the speakers. Call the Farm Bureau office at 222-7305 for reservations. UREAU — Farm Bureau will sponsor a trucking regulation and crop insurance seminar from 8 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. Tuesday, March 12, at the Geneseo Moose Lodge. Advanced registration is requested. Call the Farm Bureau office at 875-6468 to register. • Farm Bureau, the University of Illinois Extension, and Ag View FS will host iPad Basics and iPad for Agriculture classes from either 3 to 5 p.m. or 6 to 8 p.m. Monday, March 18, at the Bureau County Extension office in Princeton. Cost is $10 for members and $15 for nonmembers. Registered 4-H volunteers and Bureau County teachers who are using Ag in the Classroom may attend for $10. Call the Farm Bureau office at 875-6468 or email to register or for more information. • Farm Bureau will co-sponsor separate grain handling safety training sessions from 8 a.m. to 12 p.m. and 1 to 5 p.m. Tuesday, March 5, at the Black Hawk College Community Education Center. The training is open to grain elevator employees, farmers, farm employees, and commercial operators. Call the Farm Bureau office at 875-6468 or email to register or for more information. OLES — The deadline for Farm Bureau Foundation scholarship applications is March 15. Call the Farm Bureau office at 3453276 or email for an application or more information. • Farm Bureau’s Farm Mall Show will be Friday through Sunday, March 1 to 3, at the Cross County Mall in Mattoon. Young Leaders will host a kiddie tractor pull at 12:30 p.m. Saturday, March 2, for children weighing up to 100 pounds. Registration will be at noon. Call the farm Bureau office at 345-3276 for more information. RAWFORD — Farm Bureau’s annual meeting will be at 6 p.m. Thursday at the Robinson Community Center. Rich Guebert Jr., Illinois Farm Bureau vice president, will be the speaker. Call the Farm Bureau office at 5443792 for reservations. Reservation deadline is Monday. DGAR — Farm Bureau will sponsor a technology meeting from 9:30





to 10:30 a.m. Tuesday. Participants are asked to bring their iPhone, smart phone, tablet, iPad, and favorite apps to share. There will be a limited number of devices available for demo purposes. Discussion will include increasing efficiency through the use of apps. For reservations, call the Farm Bureau office at 4658511 or email ORD-IROQUOIS — Farm Bureau will host a Viewpoint breakfast at 7:30 a.m. Wednesday at the Farm Bureau building. A crop insurance meeting will be held immediately following. A second Viewpoint breakfast will be held at 7:30 a.m. Thursday, March 7, at the Happy Days Diner in Roberts. ENRY — Farm Bureau Foundation scholarships are available at {} or by emailing Four $1,000 scholarships and five $2,000 Wilbert and Carol Keppy Foundation scholarships will be awarded. Applications deadline is Friday. • Henry, Bureau, and Stark County Farm Bureaus and the Grain Handling Safety Coalition will sponsor separate grain handling safety training sessions from 8 a.m. to 12 p.m. and 1 to 5 p.m. Tuesday, March 5, at the Black Hawk College Community Education Center. Registration deadline is Monday. Call the Farm Bureau office at 9372411 to register or for more information. • Farm Bureau will cosponsor a weather and market outlook meeting at 6:15 p.m. Thursday, March 7, at the Moline Viking Club. Mike McClellan, Mobile Weather Team, and Mike Schaver, Gold Star FS, will be the speakers. Cost is $20 in advance and $30 at the door. Call the Farm Bureau office at 937-2411 to register. • Farm Bureau will host a crop insurance and truck regulations seminar at 8 a.m. Tuesday, March 12, at the Geneseo Moose Lodge. Registration is requested. Call 309-557-3207, go to {}, or email to register. ACKSON — The Marketing Committee will host a weather outlook and soils and tiling meeting at 6 p.m. Thursday at the Farm Bureau office. Nick Hausen, WSIL News 3 meteorologist, and Sam Inforante and Scott Martin of the Natural Resources Conservation Service will be the speakers. Registration is not required but appreciated. Call the Farm Bureau office at 684-3129 for more information. ANKAKEE — Farm Bureau’s annual meeting





will be at 5:30 p.m. Thursday, March 7, at the Hilton Garden Riverstone Conference Center in Kankakee. Steffan Nass, Federal Bureau of Investigation special agent, will be the speaker. He works to prevent agriterrorism as a member of the Weapons of Mass Destruction Springfield Division. Cost is $15 for members and $30 for non-members. Call the Farm Bureau office at 932-7471 for tickets. ENDALL — The Young Leaders will sponsor an estate/succession planning meeting at 10 a.m. Thursday at the Kendall County Extension office. Denny Prentice and Dan Howes, Country Financial agents, will be the speakers. Call the Farm Bureau office at 553-7403 for reservations by Wednesday. • The Farm Bureau Foundation annual meeting will be at 7 p.m. Monday, March 11, with a regular board meeting following. • Applications for Foundation scholarships are available to LaSalle County high school seniors or college students majoring in agriculture. Call the Farm Bureau office at 5537403 for an application or more information. Applications must be in the Farm Bureau office by July 1. • Kendall, Will, and Grundy County Farm Bureaus will sponsor the Tri-County Summer Ag Institute July 17 to 19 and 22 and 23. Contact the Professional Development Alliance office in Joliet to register. Teachers can receive three hours of graduate credit from Aurora University for participating. Call the Farm Bureau office at 553-7403 for more information. • Prime Timers will sponsor a bus trip leaving at 8:45 a.m. Tuesday, March 12, from the Farm Bureau office to the Chicago Flower Show. Cost is $38. Call the Farm Bureau office for reservations. • Farm Bureau will sponsor an “On the Road” meeting at 1:30 p.m. Thursday, March 14, at the Farm Bureau office. Kevin Rund, Illinois Farm Bureau transportation expert, will be the speaker. ASALLE — Foundation scholarship applications are available. One $1,500 scholarship will be awarded to a high school senior who will be enrolling in an ag-related field of study. One $1,500 scholarship will be awarded to a student who is currently enrolled in an ag credited college in an ag-related field of study. Call the Farm Bureau office at 433-0371 or go to {} for an application or more information. • The Stockman’s Association will sponsor a commodity



outlook meeting at 6 p.m. Wednesday, March 13, at Celebrations 150 in Utica. Dave Dickey, WILL Radio AM 580; Jacquie Voeks, Stewart Peterson Group of Indiana; Curt Kimmell, Bates Commodities of Normal; and Mike ZuZolo, Global Commodity Analytics of Indiana will be the speakers. Call 252-3077 by March 9 for reservations. EE — Country Financial will sponsor a farm estate planning seminar from 11 a.m. to noon Wednesday at the Farm Bureau office. Rick Morgan, Country Financial security consultant, and Dan Hawkins, local attorney, will be the speakers. Call the Farm Bureau office at 625-4876 or your local Country Financial representative for reservations. • Deadline to pay membership dues is March 1. Call the Farm Bureau office at 8573531 if you did not receive a dues notice. • Farm Bureau will sponsor a Stroke Detection Plus screening from 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Tuesday, March 12, at the Farm Bureau office. Cost for Farm Bureau members will be $100; $135 for non-members. Call Stroke Detection Plus at 1-877732-8258 to schedule an appointment. IVINGSTON — The Marketing Committee will host Agronomy Day from 8:45 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. Tuesday, March 5, at the Livingston County Extension office in Pontiac. Certified crop adviser continuing education units will be available in nutrient management, integrated pest management, and crop management. Call the Farm Bureau office at 842-1103 or email to register. ACON — Farm Bureau will host a policy development meeting at 6:30 p.m. Wednesday in the Farm Bureau auditorium. Illinois Farm Bureau staff will facilitate the meeting. The meeting is open to all voting members. Call the Farm Bureau office at 877-2436 for more information. ONTGOMERY — Montgomery and Macoupin County Farm Bureaus welcome O’Reilly Auto Parts in Litchfield and McKay Auto Parts Inc. in Litchfield, Hillsboro, Nokomis, Gillespie, Staunton, Carlinville, and Virden as new memberbenefit providers. Members will receive a 10 percent discount at each store. Membership card must be shown at time of purchase. • Farm Bureau Foundation scholarships are available to students entering college during the 2013-2014 school year who are Farm Bureau members or a child of a




Farm Bureau member and pursing an agricultural-related field of study. Six $1,500 scholarships will be awarded. Applications are available at {}. Application deadline is noon Monday, March 11. OULTRIE — The Sullivan FFA Alumni will host a dinner at 4:30 p.m. and a live auction at 6 p.m. Saturday, March 9, at the high school gym. Go to {} for a sale bill. EORIA — The Farmers Share of the Food Dollar breakfast will be from 7 to 11 a.m. Saturday, March 9, at the Exposition Gardens in Peoria. Cost is 85 cents. • Farm Bureau will host a weather and market outlook meeting at 9 a.m. Tuesday, March 12, in the Farm Bureau auditorium. Pete Manhart, Bates Commodities, and Chuck Collins, WEEK and WHOI meteorologist, will be the speakers. • Farm Bureau will sponsor an equine roundtable at 6:30 p.m. Wednesday, March 13, in the Farm Bureau auditorium. Jay Solomon, University of Illinois Extension, will be the speaker. OCK ISLAND — Farm Bureau will cosponsor a market outlook meeting at 6:15 Thursday, March 7, at the Moline Viking Club. Mike McClellan, Mobile Weather Team Inc., and Mike Schaver, Gold Star FS, will be the speakers. Cost is $20 in advance and $30 at the door. Call the Farm Bureau office at 736-7432 for reservations. ERMILION — Farm Bureau Foundation will host a “Luau for Learning” trivia night at 7:30 p.m. Saturday, March 2, at the Danville Knights of Columbus Hall. Registration is $100 per table of eight. Proceeds will benefit the Ag in the Classroom program. • Farm Bureau will bag groceries and farmer volunteers will meet with consumers from 2 to 4 p.m. Friday at Danville area County Markets to kick off ag month in Illinois. AYNE — Farm Bureau’s annual meeting will be at 6 p.m. Friday, March 15, at the Cumberland Presbyterian Church in Fairfield. Alan Jarand, RFD Radio Network, will be the speaker. Call the Farm Bureau office at 842-3342 by March 8 to register. The annual meeting official notice will be available in the February edition of the Wabash Valley Ag News or at {}.




“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.


FarmWeek Page 14 Monday, February 25, 2013

No silver bullets, but ke-mo sah-bees exist When I was a young boy I occasionally watched The Lone Ranger on TV. There are a few iconic phrases and visuals from the show many of us can recall: • A masked hero riding on a white stallion calling out “Hi-yo Silver, away!” • A loyal sidekick named Tonto who called the Lone Ranger “Ke-mo sah-bee,” or trusted friend (as you read this you probably can even hear the William Tell Overture playing in the background). • Finally, the famous silver bullet that was used by The Lone Ranger and has ever since been a phrase to


signify a mythical idea, concept, or product that solves problems. In the past 20 years agriculture Lance Rupert has been blessed with new technologies which could be seen as silver bullets. When RoundUp Ready soybeans first hit the market in the mid-1990s, the ability to control weeds in soybean fields was revolutionary. When corn borer traits were introduced, corn borer control and the subsequent

yield increases were tremendous. And, when corn rootworm traits were launched, they changed the corn growing landscape like no other technology had. Each of these technological advancements took agriculture to new levels of productivity and could have been called “silver bullets” for their ability to almost completely governor the pests they were developed to control. Unfortunately, we all know that silver bullets don’t really exist and, in the case of agriculture, Mother Nature often finds a way to adapt and overcome our technology.

We must be aware of and strive to manage the issues of weed and pest resistance to active ingredients currently available. Manufacturers will continue to invest in research and development to keep bringing new innovations to address an ever-evolving agriculture. However, it’s everyone’s job to help extend the life and effectiveness of current and future tools available to control and manage potential yield-limiting factors such as weeds, disease, and insect pests. Using multiple methods or modes of action to control and manage pests is an

important agronomic practice that maximizes yield, thereby increasing production income, while prolonging the life of our management tools. The Lone Ranger was blessed with a trusted friend, Tonto, who was always there to help him in times of need. Likewise, far mers have trusted advisers in their local crop specialist and local FS teams, who work hard to provide the best solutions to help far mers be more profitable.

pany leaders moved funds to try to improve MF Global’s financial statement. The good news is MF Global had about $41 billion in assets when it filed for bankruptcy. The bad news is some of the money is tied up in safe-harbor accounts. “We’re in a little better position now, but there’s still a long way to go,” John Roe, president of Roe Capital Management and spokesman for the Commodity Cus-

tomer Coalition, said last week at the Grain and Feed Association of Illinois’ convention and trade show in St. Louis. A legal dispute in the MF Global case recently was resolved, which released $333 million in customer property in the U.S. and $294 million in the United Kingdom. The recent releases raised recoveries in the MF Global case to about 93 percent. It is the eighth-largest bankruptcy in U.S. history, Roe noted. The PFGBest case was similar in that customer segregated funds disappeared. But the key difference in that case is the $220 million in missing funds was stolen and previously paid out. Former PFGBest CEO Russell Wasendorf was arrested and faces numerous federal charges and the possibility of decades in prison. “The PFGBest case is a completely different story (than the MF Global bankruptcy),” said Roe, who described it as a Ponzi scheme. “The customer pool is severely underfunded. It’s a huge mess … .” The PFGBest case is further complicated by the fact that its Forex and metals accounts were unsecured and not protected by the same laws as the futures accounts. Roe estimated distribution of funds to former PFGBest customers may amount to 30 to 50 cents on the dollar. Roe and the coalition are pushing for the creation of a commodity customer protection fund to insure commodi-

ties customers in the future. “It became clear (after the two bankruptcies last year) there needs to be reforms in the way the (futures) industry does business,” Roe said. A customer protection fund would be private and carry re-insurance.

“We’re stress-testing it now,” Roe said. If a customer protection fund had been implemented in 2004, it would have been able to absorb the MF Global and PFGBest bankruptcies without breaking into re-insurance, according to Roe.

Lance Ruppert is FS Seed sales and marketing manager. His email address is

Customer protections proposed in wake of bankruptcies

Funds still missing in MF Global, PFGBest cases BY DANIEL GRANT FarmWeek

It appears customers whose accounts were frozen when MF Global filed for bankruptcy last year could get most of their money back. But the outcome doesn’t look as rosy for those who lost money invested with Peregrine Financial Group (PFGBest). About $1.6 billion in customer segregated funds vanished at MF Global as com-

M A R K E T FA C T S Feeder pig prices reported to USDA* Weight 10-12 lbs. 40 lbs.

Range Per Head $32.25-$57.00 NA

Weighted Ave. Price $42.90 NA

This Week Last Week 101,361 69,560 *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 $75.26 $81.12 $55.69 $60.03

Change -$5.86 -$4.34

USDA five-state area slaughter cattle price Steers Heifers

(Thursday’s price) (Thursday’s price) Prev. week Change This week $123.00 $122.96 0.04 $123.00 $123.00 0.00

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 This week $140.62 $142.03 -$1.41

Lamb prices Slaughter prices - Negotiated, Live, wooled and shorn 126-181 lbs. for 106.49-135 $cwt. (wtd. ave. 119.60)

Export inspections (Million bushels) Week ending Soybeans Wheat Corn 2/14/2013 40.4 30.3 9.5 2/7/2013 30.8 23.3 14.8 Last year 38.5 22.5 34.9 Season total 1078.8 653.6 336.5 Previous season total 835.8 716.1 776.1 USDA projected total 1345 1050 950 Crop marketing year began June 1 for wheat and Sept. 1 for corn and soybeans.

This chart offers a glance at possible corn, soybean, and wheat producer payouts in 2013 under the extended Average Crop Revenue Election (ACRE) program, based on potential state yield and national price triggers. For example, if the national price trigger for corn were $4 per bushel and the state yield trigger were 105 bushels per acre (top left), a farmer might expect a $194-per-acre payment. As part of the current extension of 2008 farm bill provisions, farmers will be permitted to newly enroll in or drop out of the program for 2013. For a farm to receive an ACRE payment, farm revenue must be less than the program’s farm revenue benchmark. In most cases, the farm-level payment equals the state ACRE payment times 0.85 times the ratio of individual farm-tostate yields. (Information compiled by Doug Yoder, Illinois Farm Bureau)


Page 15 Monday, February 25, 2013 FarmWeek


The soybean ‘fundamental dance’

There’s been a lot made of the slow harvest and delay in soybean shipments out of Brazil the last few weeks. It has pushed some extra business to the U.S., especially from China. The vessel line-up to load out of Brazil’s two main ports, Paranagua and Santos, has grown large. The latest data indicate 82 boats are waiting to load at Paranagua and 39 at Santos, although not all of those are slated to load soybeans. Harvest in Brazil is accelerating, with nearly 30 percent harvested in Mato Grosso, while 22 percent has been harvested in Parana. The latter’s harvest is especially important because it’s a relatively short haul to port. It’s important to remember more than 60 percent of the crop already has been priced, making significant quantities available for export. You’ll notice on average Chinese soybean imports tend to increase from February into June. Since the beginning of the marketing year, the Chinese cumulative import total is about 3 percent behind last year. But that has improved markedly the last two months. Port stocks are

thought to be about normal at this time. The issue the trade has trouble dealing with is whether Brazil and Argentina have the ability to handle the world’s business. In 2010 and 2011, the combined exports for those two countries in May was more than 8.2 million metric tons. Given modest port improvements, monthly exports could hit 9 million metric tons this year. That’s more than 50 percent higher than last year’s peak monthly Chinese soybean imports. That suggests Brazil and Argentina have the capacity to not only supply China but potentially the rest of the world as well — or nearly so. And even if our present exports pace threatens to make our supplies too tight before the new crop arrives, there’s a precedent of U.S. processors importing soybeans to crush. Both Cargill and Owensboro Grain imported soybeans in the summer of 1997. The key is whether South American prices get to a large enough discount to make imports economically feasible. Livestock feeders in the Southeast also are notable for importing soybean meal and corn when the economics justify it. Hence, soybean stocks could get tight, but maybe not tight enough to justify higher prices. We won’t run out!

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Corn Strategy

ü2012 crop: Even though corn prices remain soft, they have fallen to a level that should present limited downside risk. Because of the depth of the break, we’ve lowered our target to make catchup sales to $7.25 on May futures. Plan to add to sales if prices reach that level. Check the Hotline. ü2013 crop: Upside potential for rebounds has declined because of the depth of the break. Use rallies to $5.75 for catch-up sales. We may add a sale if December hits that level. Check the Hotline. vFundamentals: Slack export demand continues to be the biggest drag on the market. Persistent slippage in the wheat market has been adding to the pressure in the world trade. On the plus side, ethanol grind profitability has improved slightly, but could be short lived with the energy market declining again. Lackluster farmer selling and tight supplies are supporting the cash market.

Cents per bu.

Soybean Strategy

ü2012 crop: With South American harvest accelerating, demand for U.S. soybeans has only a limited time span. Price another 10 percent now, boosting your sales total to 90 percent. ü2013 crop: New-crop prices are weaker than old-crop because of potential for a significant increase in supplies. Use a rally to $12.85 on November futures for catch-up sales. vFundamentals: Renewed Chinese buying in the wake of their return from holiday carried prices up this past week. It’s said crush demand has pulled their port stocks back down to relatively normal levels, helping prompt more near term imports. The pace of Brazilian harvest is accelerating. About 30 percent of the Mato Grosso crop has been harvested, with 16 percent of Brazil’s crop having been gathered. Recent rains should have at least stabilized potential for the Argentine crop. As it is, out-

put from those two countries and Uruguay and Paraguay should reach 5.4 billion bushels this year.

Wheat Strategy

ü2012 crop: Wheat prices continue to trace out a choppy sideways pattern. Wait for prices to rebound before making needed catch-up sales. ü2013 crop: Wait for Chicago July to trade above $7.48 before making catch-up sales. New-crop sales stand at 35 percent complete. vFundamentals: Demand for U.S. wheat is

showing signs of improving following a recent purchase from Egypt, and reports that China bought a significant quantity of wheat. USDA announced a sale of 110,000 metric tons of soft red winter wheat to an unknown destination. Upside potential is being stifled by improved conditions in the U.S. Great Plains, with the recent winter storm bringing much needed moisture. However, the critical time period will come this spring when the crop breaks dormancy, as soil moisture reserves are still lacking.


FarmWeek Page 16 Monday, February 25, 2013

Following big dreams but on a smaller scale Microloan gains footing; answers faster credit need

Throughout my tenure as state executive director for the Illinois Farm Service Agency (FSA), I have met several small and beginning farmers and ranchers, military veterans, and disadvantaged producers interested in making a living in production agriculture. For many, the high cost of buying land and equipment can be prohibitive, compelling newcomers and those struggling against the odds to take risks to finance their dreams by relying on credit cards and personal loans with high interest rates. I am keenly aware, too, that the average age of our farmers and ranchers is increasing. I am concerned about where the next generation of farmers and ranchers will come from. USDA understands the needs of these small, beginning, and specialty crop farmers. Through FSA’s Farm Loan Programs division, the department responded to SCHERRIE GIAMANCO those needs by developing a new microloan program that will provide up to $35,000 to help bolster these farmers during their start-up years. Likewise, it will assist small, established farmers who find themselves in extenuating financial circumstances. Microloans are like other operating loans. They can be used to purchase livestock, equipment, feed, seed, fertilizer, and related supplies. And here’s a real benefit when compared to those credit cards and personal loans: The current interest rate for a microloan is 1.125 percent. It is imperative that we use solutions like the microloan to provide access to credit to those just starting out or those farming on a smaller scale in order to grow American agriculture. It’s important because agriculture can provide new jobs that will build our economy and ensure a safe and affordable food supply at home and abroad. In addition, these loans keep people living in our rural communities, sending their children to our local schools, and doing business in our local shops. Microloans are unlike traditional FSA loans. Applying for them is a

simpler, more flexible process. By reducing the application form from 17 pages to eight and by modifying requirements for experience, it‘s easy and far more convenient for both our customers and our employees. Although some production experience is necessary, there are many farmers who may not meet the managerial requirements for traditional loans but may be eligible for a microloan. FSA will consider an applicant’s small business experience, experience with a self-guided apprenticeship, and specialized education to meet the prerequisite. As the country moves toward more local food sources and joins the farmto-table movement, there is an increasing number of people going back to the farm and selling their products through farmers’ markets and community-supported agriculture. Microloans are perfect for those who want to grow niche crops to sell directly to ethnic markets, farmers’ markets, or consumers. Young future farmers and ranchers also will benefit. Prospects who previously used an FSA Youth Loan to finance an agricultural endeavor, successfully repaid the debt, and are of the “age of majority” according to state law, are eligible for microloans. The microloan graduates farmers to a new level and further prepares them for larger FSA operating loans or commercial loans through the FSA Guaranteed Loan Program. By expanding access to credit, FSA continues to help grow the industry on which our country was built — agriculture. Through FSA, more than 128,000 loans totaling $18 billion have been issued. The number of loans to beginning farmers and ranchers has increased from 11,000 in 2008 to 15,000 in 2011. More than 40 percent of USDA’s farm loans now go to beginning farmers, while lending to socially disadvantaged producers has increased nearly 50 percent since 2008. At FSA, we aim for ways to help farmers and ranchers achieve their dreams, to be part of the American population that feeds the world whether they are large-scale or small-scale operations. By supporting America’s growers, we help all Americans. We provide a secure, low-cost food supply and make a major contribution to the U.S. economy. And we do these things while nourishing millions. Scherrie Giamanco is the state executive director of Illinois Farm Service Agency.


Time now to confront misguided extremists

Editor: I recently attended the annual Monsanto shareholders’ meeting. Misguided environmentalists got up to speak in favor of mandatory labeling of foods that contain genetically modified material and criticized Monsanto for contributing to the defeat of Proposition 37 last fall in California. I was upset and got up to speak in opposition to the environmentalists’ position. There is no scientific evidence of harm to humans from genetically improved foods. Quite the contrary, improved drought resistance and disease resistance with greater yields have substantially benefited mankind. Farmers should be free to choose the seeds and the products that best

Place focus more on prices, not immigration

Editor: A series of articles in FarmWeek continues to push the agenda of comprehensive amnesty. We had the 1986 amnesty bill, which was supposed to secure the borders and establish E-Verify. Of course, the politicians had no intention of doing this and didn’t. Now we have another 11 million to 15 million illegal aliens that Obama and many business interests want to give amnesty and a permanent stay in the U.S. The dairy industry not only wants a guest worker program for foreign ag workers, which we already have in the H2-A visa program, it wants permanent status for such workers. All of these may be swell for certain

Letter writing 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

meet their needs. No-till and low-till operations and good conservation practices have greatly reduced erosion and improved soil quality. Proposition 37 was rather narrowly defeated, 51.5 percent to 48.5 percent. Labeling would be expensive and stigmatize foods that scientific evidence shows is not harmful. Segregations of crops and products is an additional expense. All of these costs would make food more expensive for consumers. We need to confront these environmental extremists and be sure the public is not fooled. We need to be sure our public officials are not taken in by their argument. The environmentalists’ real aim is first to label and segregate genetically modified foods and then to ban them legislatively. EDWARD RAGSDALE, Alton ag businesses and corporations, but it is not going to help most citizens, and that includes the overwhelming number of farmers in Illinois who do their own work. And it certainly is not going to help their children’s children. This is all about cheap labor for various business interests. But Farm Bureau is pushing very, very hard for comprehensive amnesty again as it did in 1986. Ever notice that when natural gas prices go up, the price for anhydrous goes way up, but when the price declines, you do not see the effect to the same degree. These are the types of issues that the American Farm Bureau Federation needs to focus on for ALL farmers, not the wants of big agribusiness boys. FRANK GOUDY, Cuba

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 February 25 2013  

FarmWeek February 25 2013

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