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CHINA’S LARGEST meat processing enterprise last week acquired Smithfield Foods, the world’s largest pork processor and hog producer. ................................2

ILLINOIS FARMERS will see first-hand how their European counterparts are adjusting to a ban on the use of sow gestation stalls. .............................................8

FOUR WESTERN Illinois counties will host the 18th annual bike ride to support Illinois Agriculture in the Classroom over the Labor Day holiday...........................9

Heavy rains lead to flash floods, planting delays

Too much of a good thing Monday, June 3, 2013


Periodicals: Time Valued

Heavy rains last week delayed planting in many areas and washed away some previously planted crops. Farmers David Erickson, president of the Knox County Farm Bureau, and Martin McManus, president of the Rock Island County Farm Bureau, reported some fields or portions of fields in their areas likely need to be replanted due to heavy rainfall and flash floods. “We had extreme flash flooding with water over roads and bridges,” Erickson said. “Many fields are at the saturation point and there’s more standing water.” McManus noted, “There will be some replants. But the effects (of the heavy rains and floods) won’t be known for awhile.” The state during the month of May received anywhere from 6 to 12 inches of rain in Western Illinois (in a band from about the Quad Cities to Quincy), 5 to 7.5 inches in Central Illinois, and 3 to 5

Two sections Volume 41, No. 22

inches in the northern and southern portions of the state. “It’s been pretty amazing,” said Jim Angel, state climatologist with the Prairie Research Institute/Illinois State Water Survey. “It’s currently the secondwettest year to date on record.” Illinois from January through May 30 received an average of 22.6 inches of precipitation. The only year wetter than that during the same time period was 1898 when the state received an average of 23.2 inches of precipitation. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers last week closed three locks on the Mississippi River, including Lock 21 at Quincy, due to the floodwaters. The river rose six feet last week at St. Louis. Illinois as of Friday morning had received an average of 5.9 inches of rain with more storms on the way.

“The huge prairie ponds are starting to fill up again,” said Dennis Bowman, University of Illinois crop systems educator in Champaign. “It is cause for concern. “Some areas with standing water likely will need to be replanted and some areas with ponds that never did dry out still need to be planted,” he continued. “And with standing water and warmer temperatures, there are opportunities for more nitrogen loss (from the soil).” Farmers in Illinois as of the first of last week had planted 89 percent of the corn crop and 40 percent of the beans after a historically slow start. The majority of plantings, 72 percent of corn and nearly all the beans, were planted the past two weeks. “Farmers didn’t even take a breath to switch to soybean planting,” Bowman said. “It’s amazing how much got planted

Dave Tolley, left, and his son, Joe, view the flooded remains of their cornfield located about four miles south of London Mills (near the Knox/Fulton County border) as the swollen Spoon River in the background spills into the field. The state, particularly in central and western areas, was pounded by more torrential rains last week. The first five months of this year were the second-wettest on record in Illinois, according to Jim Angel, state climatologist. (Photo by Seth Tolley)

in a short amount of time.” The forecast for this week was for cooler, drier air with a

chance of another system moving into the state later in the week, Angel added.

“Normally, that better-producing ground is going to have lower (crop) loss ratios. If those farmers indeed do drop out of the program, those really large, good tracts of ground would not be insured.” With removal of those acres from the “crop insurance pool,” the system would see not only a drop in overall premiums to cover future claims but also a possible increase in pool-wide risk, “potentially raising rates for everyone down the road,” Yoder said. Further, given cost advantages, many larger producers have opted for “enterprise unit” coverage, insuring all corn or beans in a county vs. individual farms. The size and thus diversity of those sprawling units help spread and reduce overall risk, Yoder said. “You’re not only pulling acres out — you may be pulling

out the less risky acres,” he related. “It may be more costly to insure those remaining acres.” The means testing proposal, supported by Springfield Democrat Sen. Dick Durbin, surfaced after Farm Bureau, other ag groups, and environmental interests agreed to a plan to tie conservation compliance to future premium subsidies. Congress is expected to eliminate farm direct payments, and without farm program conservation requirements or federal crop coverage, USDA is left with no “stick” to compel compliance by larger landholders, Barnaby suggested. In the long term, Yoder sees the Durbin amendment setting a precedent for lawmakers to ramp up means testing as a cost-cutting measure in future farm bills, even as individual

Higher premiums, slippery slopes?

Insurance ‘means testing’ BY MARTIN ROSS FarmWeek

Approval of crop insurance “means testing” could generate higher coverage costs for small farmers, a slippery slope for the next farm bill, and a possible setback in ag conservation gains. So warn ag policy analysts and Illinois risk management specialists wary of a Senateproposed 15 percent reduction in federal premium subsidies for producers with annual adjusted gross income (AGI) above $750,000. The Senate is expected to vote on a farm bill package this week. In real terms, that could translate to a 35 to 40 percent increase in out-of-pocket policy costs for larger operations, according to Illinois Farm Bureau Senior Director of Risk Management Doug Yoder. Kansas State University

economist Art Barnaby backs Senate Ag Committee Chairman Deb Stabenow’s (D-Mich.) fear that the measure could spur higher-income farmers to pull land from the insurance pool, possibly raising costs for remaining policyholders. In most years, farmers pay their premiums without prospects for claims recovery, he said. Country Financial agribusiness underwriting specialist Bob Dewey noted concerns that if a significant number of larger producers discontinued crop coverage, “the other producers who are still in the program are going to shoulder increased cost.” “The larger producers are farming the good pieces of ground — they’re paying the premium cash rent payments for the larger, flat pieces of ground that are easier to farm,” Dewey told FarmWeek.

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FarmWeek Page 2 Monday, June 3, 2013

ROUNDUP READY MYSTERY — Monsanto has vowed to help USDA “get to the bottom” of the alleged discovery of unauthorized Roundup Ready biotech wheat growing in a field in the state of Oregon. “There are no food, feed, or environmental safety concerns associated with the presence of the Roundup Ready gene if it is found to be present in wheat,” the St. Louis-based company stated. “The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) confirmed the food and feed safety of Roundup Ready wheat more than a decade ago. “The Roundup Ready gene, which is widely used in multiple crops and by millions of farmers globally, has been reviewed and approved by regulatory authorities in every country around the world to which crops containing that gene have been submitted for cultivation or import approval, including Japan, Korea, and the (European Union).” This is the first report of the herbicide tolerance trait being found on commercial acreage since Monsanto discontinued efforts to commercialize biotech wheat nine years ago.

FFA’ERS PLAN SERVICE, CONVENTION — FFA members and their advisers from around Illinois are planning community service work before the start of the State FFA Convention June 11–13 in Springfield. On June 10, FFA’ers will volunteer at seven organizations in Springfield. They are: Habitat for Humanity, Ronald McDonald House, Midwest Mission Distribution Center, Senior Services of Central Illinois, MERCY Communities, American Red Cross, and the Historic Preservation Agency. Thousands of members, advisers, parents, and supporters are expected to attend the 85th convention. A new convention phone app is available. Install the “Guidebook” app on your device and search for and download the “85th Illinois FFA Convention.”

WHAT MATTERS — Tune in to your local RFD Radio affiliate or other farm stations to hear University of Illinois researcher Fred Below discuss “The Six Secrets of Soybean Success: Improving Management Practices to Produce High-Yield Soybeans.” The segment is part of the Illinois Soybean Association’s Management Matters radio campaign that will air continuously throughout the season. Industry experts will share results from the latest high-yield research and best management practices and provide resources to help farmers break yield barriers during each stage of the growing season. Audio from and recaps of segments will be available at {}.

(ISSN0197-6680) Vol. 41 No. 22

June 3, 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.

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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


Chinese meat processor acquires Smithfield Foods


Demand for U.S. pork could increase in the near future as the result of a major sale announced last week. Shuanghui International, the majority shareholder of China’s largest meat processing enterprise, last week acquired Virginia-based Smithfield Foods, a $13 billion global food company and the world’s largest pork processor and hog producer. The agreement, which was unanimously approved by the boards of directors for both companies, allows Shuanghui to acquire all outstanding shares of Smithfield for $34 per share in cash (a reported $4.7 billion). The closing of the transaction is subject to certain conditions, including approval by Smithfield’s shareholders and the Committee on Foreign Investment in the U.S. The transaction is expected to close the second half of this year. “The combination creates a company with an unmatched set of assets, products, and geographic reach,” Wan Long, chairman of Shuanghui, which produces about 2.7 million tons of meat per year, said in a news release. “Smithfield is a leader in our industry, and together we will be able to meet the growing demand in China for pork by importing highquality meat products, while continuing to serve markets in the U.S. and around the world.” The two companies pledged to maintain current operations in the U.S. Smithfield employs about 46,000 workers. “It will be business as usual – only better – at

Smithfield,” said C. Larry Pope, president and CEO of Smithfield. “We do not anticipate any changes in how we do business in the U.S. and throughout the world.” Steve Meyer, economist and president of Paragon Economics, agreed the acquisition likely won’t change much in the pork industry nearterm. But over time, increased pork shipments from the U.S. to China could boost domestic hog prices along with prices at U.S. meat counters. U.S. pork producers currently export about one-quarter of their production. “My guess is (the acquisition) will enhance the relationship of those two companies shipping pork to China,” Meyer told FarmWeek. “I think it will grow that business over time and could lead to more opportunities for (U.S.) producers.” U.S. consumers could experience higher pork prices during the transition until U.S. producers adjust to the possible increase in pork demand from China. “We could see upward pressure on wholesale and retail prices in the short run,” Meyer said. “But the only way (that pressure) would remain in the long-run is if producers are constrained from reacting to that. The bottom line is if (pork demand and prices increase), we can raise more pigs.” China not only has a growing appetite for pork and other protein sources, but the swine industry there also is dealing with disease losses and pork safety issues. “There’s a number of reasons I’d think someone looking to supply pork to its consumers would look to us,” Meyer said. “We have a healthy system that’s steady.”

Chinese meat demand drives strategies BY MARTIN ROSS FarmWeek

China today consumes twice as much meat as the U.S. Shuanghui International’s planned Smithfield acquisition (see accompanying story) appears to represent China’s latest effort to efficiently fill its larders. Thad Simons, CEO of animal nutrition provider Novus International, notes “phenomenal” cross-sector growth in China over the past 20 years. That includes agriculture, “but they were starting from a very low base,” Simons stressed during a recent panel on food demand in St. Louis. Twenty years ago, China was home to 14,000 feed mills, but they were “all very small, and they weren’t very efficient,” he said. Today, there are far fewer, “because they’re building very large-scale, efficient, world-class feed mills,” Simons reported. “Twenty years ago, local state-owned enterprises basically owned these (mills),” he said. “Today, most of it’s private sector. There’s still a lot of government influence on the private sector, but still, it’s private sector. Half the feed industry’s in the hands of a half-dozen companies. “But there are still a lot of problems, a lot of challenges. Only a few years ago, blue ear disease hit the Chinese swine industry. They had to destroy 300 million pigs — that’s the size of the whole U.S. herd.” Simons noted a growing pool of U.S. - and European-trained Chinese talent versed in herd health and food safety, and China’s “putting the capital in place to make it happen.” However, rapid urbanization and a one-child rule that has Chinese parents pushing children to “go to college and work in the city” has distanced the populace even further from livestock production, he said. Domestic water supply and quality issues have spurred China to look to imports (and, by exten-

sion, offshore production) as a sort of “virtual trade in water,” suggested Philippe de Lapérouse, managing director with global consulting firm HighQuest Partners. Meanwhile, Food and Agricultural Policy Research Institute analyst Wyatt Thompson reports China’s average per-capita income has roughly doubled every 10 years over the past several decades, and meat demand has risen accordingly. “How much more will (China’s) trade policies be under pressure, now that they have so much more skin in the game?” Thompson posed. “Do they have more efficiencies to squeeze out of supply? And do people really expect Chinese (gross domestic production) to continue to grow?”

In this photo from Illinois Farm Bureau’s 2009 China Market Study Tour, a worker bags meal at Noble Grain’s Shanghai-area oilseed crushing facility. (Photo by Martin Ross)


Page 3 Monday, June 3, 2013 FarmWeek

State lawmakers face major issues in final hours


The General Assembly faced several complex, controversial issues before its scheduled adjournment Friday. At FarmWeek presstime, final action on some issues was pending, and lawmakers were expected to work into the night. One of the pending issues was the public employee pension system and the $97 billion of unfunded liability. “Clear differences remain between the House and the Senate (on how to resolve the issue),� said Kevin Semlow, Illinois Farm Bureau director of state legislation. At FarmWeek presstime, negotiations were ongoing, and there was no clear direction on what components would be part of a final plan, Semlow added.

The state’s unfunded pension liability is the debt owed to cover all longterm expenses for retirees and current employees. At presstime, lawmakers were working to pass legislation to establish rules for carrying a concealed weapon. An overall structure for allowing an individual to carry a concealed weapon was proposed, but several points of contention included local gun control ordinances, limitations of concealed weapons around businesses that sell liquor, and other provisions. Hydraulic fracturing regulations Legislation establishing horizontal hydraulic fracturing regulations passed in the House with 108-9 vote. SB 1715 was forwarded to the Senate. If approved, it would be sent to Gov. Pat Quinn for his consideration; however,

Quinn has indicated he will sign the bill. IFB supports SB 1715. The measure would set the most stringent regulations for high-volume horizontal hydraulic fracturing in the nation. These include well construction and casing standards, setback rules, water testing requirements, and waste management procedures. The bill includes protections for surface landowners and specifies how land should be repaired after a well has been drilled and after it has served its useful life. Throughout negotiations, IFB called for protections and requirements outlined in IFB policy on hydraulic fracturing, said Bill Bodine, IFB associate director of state legislation. The bill includes “severance� tax provisions on oil and gas extraction.

Those provisions also include incentives for hiring of Illinois workers who are paid prevailing wages. Following lengthy negotiations and legislative compromise, exploration of energy resources in parts of Illinois will occur with appropriate regulations to protect land and water resources, Bodine said. A new budget The House and Senate passed a series of bills that contained the state budget. The budget is similar to the budget levels approved for the current budget, especially for the Illinois Department of Agriculture. Restorations were made to education funding that was cut in earlier discussions. At presstime, both chambers were in the process of passing numerous budget bills.

NRCS updates cover crop standards with new crops, uses

The Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) in Illinois recently updated its cover crop standards to reflect modern agriculture. The revised standards, commonly referred to as “340,� may play a role when farmers apply

for conservation programs. “The practice of using cover crops and green manure (crops) has been around for many generations,� said Brett Roberts, NRCS state conservation agronomist. Today, Illinois farmers are

Eight more counties OK’d for federal disaster aid Final state request for flood damages

Gov. Pat Quinn announced Friday eight additional counties were approved for federal disaster aid. It completes the state’s damage assessment and request for residents and businesses that suffered flood damage. The governor also was expected to seek federal reimbursement of flood-related expenses for more counties. The newly approved counties are Brown, Calhoun, Clark, Douglas, Henry, Pike, Whiteside, and Winnebago counties. Residents in those

counties may apply for grants and low-interest federal loans. A total of 33 counties have been approved for federal assistance. The others are Bureau, Cook, Crawford, DeKalb, DuPage, Fulton, Grundy, Henderson, Kane, Kendall, Knox, Lake, LaSalle, Livingston, Marshall, Mason, McDonough, McHenry, Peoria, Rock Island, Schuyler, Stark, Tazewell, Will, and Woodford counties. More than $68.3 million in federal assistance has been provided to more than 21,400 applicants from the 25 counties approved earlier. — Kay Shipman

NRCS targets June 14 for CSP applications

Landowners should submit applications by June 14 to be considered for Conservation Stewardship Program (CSP) funding this year, according to the Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS). CSP applications are accepted all year, but June 14 is key for funding consideration this year. Nationwide, CSP will provide about $175 million in funding for up to 12.6 million additional acres this year. Last year, Illinois experienced major growth in CSP. About $4.7 million was obligated for roughly 228,000 acres — a record CSP enrollment for the state. CSP offers payments to farmers who maintain a high level of conservation on their land and agree to adopt higher levels of stewardship. Because of the extreme 2012 weather, NRCS experts anticipate more interest and participation in the cover crop enhancements this year. A CSP self-screening checklist is available to help farmers determine if the program is suitable for their farms. For a checklist and additional information, visit the CSP page on the NRCS website, or visit your NRCS office.

planting not only new cover crops but also using old cover crops for different purposes than in the past, Roberts noted. “It’s an old thing being done in a novel, different way,� Roberts told FarmWeek. “It’s gained enough momentum (in Illinois) and people are curious to Brett Roberts try it.� Two federal conservation programs, Environmental Quality Incentives Program

(EQIP) and Conservation Stewardship Program (CSP), include cover crops as eligible practices. Soil and Water Conservation Districts administer a state program, the Conservation Practices Program (CPP), which may include cover crop practices. The 340 standards contain guidelines and recommendations on cover crop species and their uses, Roberts explained. For example, a farmer may use the standards to help select a species for one or more purposes or for seeding rate recommendations. Cover crop agronomic prac-

tices continue to evolve. “One of the innovative things we found out is that we don’t need as much seed as we once thought we did,� he said. Another evolution was recent development of a webbased cover crop selection tool developed by the Midwest Cover Crop Council. The tool helps Midwestern farmers select cover crops for field crop and vegetable rotations. That tool was developed with input from several Illinois experts. The cover crop selection tool is online at { selectorINTRO.html}. — Kay Shipman

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River projects bill key to unlocking new jobs? FarmWeek Page 4 Monday, June 3, 2013


River infrastructure may not be seem “sexy” in the federal scheme of things, but Debra Colbert finds the prospect of 500,000 new jobs tantalizing. The national Waterways Council senior vice president echoes Senate Environment and Public Works Committee Chairman Barbara Boxer’s (DCalif.) characterization of the Water Resources Development Act (WRDA) as fundamentally a jobs measure. The Senate recently passed WRDA with provisions aimed at spurring investment in long-needed navigational upgrades through public-private partnerships. Colbert said she expects House approval of the comprehensive water projects bill by fall. Boxer suggests modernization of major river corridors could generate a half-million long-term jobs. “It’s been six years since WRDA passed last time,” Colbert said in an RFD-FarmWeek interview. “We always hope for a two-year cycle for reauthorization. Waterways resources projects are just as important as any ‘sexy’ new project that seems to get most of the attention in Washington. “These are seriously American foundational issues. Our inland waterways infrastructure is critical to growing our exports and to adding jobs.” The Senate has proposed a key step in freeing available money from the Inland Waterways

Trust Fund — the currently waning source of private funding needed to leverage federal waterways spending. Senate WRDA would remove the costly Olmsted Lock and Dam project from the trust fund account. Construction of a new dam with twin 1,200foot locks at the confluence of the Upper Mississippi and Ohio rivers — was launched in 1988 with an original appropriation of $775 million. However, Colbert noted Olmsted costs have “ballooned” to nearly $3.2 billion, and work may not be completed until 2020-24. By shifting the “problematic project” to wholly federal funding, Congress offers the trust fund “a little bit of relief to build and focus on other priority projects,” Colbert said. However, the Senate bucked a proposed 9-cent increase in the existing 20-cent-per-gallon barge diesel fuel tax to the House. Fuel taxes feed the waterways trust fund. Moving a barge tax increase past House leadership may prove a challenge — even an increase supported by barge interests. Colbert argued “here in Washington, ‘tax’ is an ugly word.” “We’ve had some resistance because of the ‘no new taxes’ pledge that’s been taken by some here,” Colbert said. “But we think we’re going to be able to drive home the fact that this is a ‘user fee’ and an investment and that (a fee increase) will get some traction in the House.”

EPA offering relief?

Researcher: RFS2 crucial to future fuels Jan Jaworski is a key player in the search for tomorrow’s renewable fuels. But without sound energy policy, the ag-based fuels of tomorrow could have nowhere to go, warned Jaworski, chief investigator with the Donald Danforth Plant Science Center’s Enterprise Institute for Renewable Fuels. While farmer decision making, weather issues, and other factors may influence near-term grain supplies and production costs for “crop-based biofuels,” Bloomberg New Energy Finance U.S. lead bioenergy analyst Alejandro Zamorano argues “Washington always has the last word.” With U.S. Rep. Jim Sensenbrenner (R-Wis.) working to block commercialization of 15 percent ethanol blends and bipartisan House-Senate lawmakers backing measures to eliminate or “reform” the federal Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS2), Zamorano argued “it doesn’t look too good this year.” At the same time, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has proposed expansive RFS2 changes that offer leeway for meeting cellulosic biofuels requirements until significant commercial supplies of biomass-based fuels come on-line. That, in turn, could relieve pressure on corn-based ethanol that has fueled congressional RFS2 attacks. The RFS2 mandates 36 billion gallons of annual transportation biofuels use by 2022, including 21 billion gallons of non-cornbased fuels. One of the more surprising provisions of EPA’s plan would permit power used to charge electric vehicles generated from certain kinds of biogas to generate RFS2 “renewable identification numbers” (RINS). RINS basically are tradable credits fuel blenders can use in lieu of RFS2-mandated biofuels use when renewable fuels are in short supply. The RFS2 remains “essential” to building the market for emerging “advanced biofuels” from a variety of crops, the Enterprise Institute’s Jaworski told FarmWeek. He stressed institute projects are “driven” by anticipated energy needs as set forth under annual RFS2 biofuels blending targets. “The Department of Energy (DOE) essentially has a mandate for expanding fuels,” he said. “The (biofuels research) grants I run require me to talk to DOE program managers on quite a regular basis. It’s very clear when they’re talking to me that they’re talking in terms of this mandate (the RFS2).” A definitive direction for future biofuels demand is especially critical amid anxieties about federally supported research funding, Jaworski maintained. While the Danforth Center to date has been “extremely successful” in obtaining necessary funding (center principle investigators last year had $750,000 to $850,000 to work with), he noted research teams at “good universities” across the U.S. were fortunate to land $300,000 in 2012 federal funds. — Martin Ross


Continued from page 1 land and input costs increase. Over the last two farm bills, AGI eligibility limits have dropped to $750,000 for direct payments and $500,000 in non-farm income for commodity programs, he noted. American Farm Bureau Federation policy director Dale Moore cites the current Senate proposal as “a signal of what’s to come.” “There’s no longer as big a pile of ag money to go after or things to criticize in (the farm bill commodity title),” Moore told FarmWeek. Barnaby also challenged Sen. Jeff Flake’s (R-Ariz.) proposal to eliminate the default harvest price option from federal Revenue Protection (RP) policies. Corn Belt farmers pay 50 percent higher premiums for the fall price guarantee trigger, but without it, “many Corn Belt farmers would not have been paid for 2012 crop losses,” the economist advised. As Senate debate continues, farmers also face a threat to renewable energy policies credited with boosting corn prices and lowering overall farm program payments. Sen. Saxby Chambliss (R-Ga.), whose state is a major poultry producer, has sought to incorporate measures that either would eliminate or place new restrictions on the federal Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS2). While “we can’t take it for granted,” Moore predicted defeat for what he deemed Chambliss’ “statement” — if it even reaches the floor. At the same time, Moore did not dismiss the possibility the Senate might consider issues such as biotech food labeling or restrictive new standards for poultry housing and care proposed by the Humane Society of the United States and opposed by Farm Bureau.


Page 5 Monday, June 3, 2013 FarmWeek

Biotech offers hope for world’s ‘orphan’ crops BY MARTIN ROSS FarmWeek

They’re orphans — crucial to the survival of the world’s smaller farmers and poorer populations but not profitable enough to merit the billions in research afforded corn and soybeans. The St. Louis-based Institute for International Crop Improvement (IICI) has found a home for that research in what director Paul Anderson called an effort to “feed the hungry

and improve human health.” The institute, located at the Donald Danforth Plant Science Center, is employing advance technology to enhance “important food security orphan crops,” Anderson noted. In collaboration with African, Asian, and Latin American partners, IICI is working to improve the productivity and/or nutritional benefits of cassava, rice, sorghum, sweet potatoes, cowpeas (a key protein source for northern sub-Sahara Africa),

Biotech acceptance a family affair

In East Africa, farmers and consumers understand fully the need for vast improvements in food production. The technology crucial to making those improvements can be a tougher sell. That is according to Paul Anderson, executive director of the Danforth Plant Science Center Institute for International Crop Improvement (IICI). For example, as part of efforts to improve beta carotene (Vitamin A) content in African sweet potatoes, IICI and others have had to convince consumers to move from white sweet potatoes popular throughout the region to more beta carotenerich orange varieties. African mothers have accepted that the change means a “better source of nutrition for their children,” Anderson reported. Agricultural adoption has been helped tremendously by the fact that “most of the farmers are women,” he said. Anderson believes the same cultural dynamic will aid in biotech acceptance as IICI and its global partners apply advanced genetics to improved nutrition in crop staples such as rice, bananas, sorghum, and cassava. “Women are very interested in the new technologies — they’re much more open-minded about them, and that definitely works in our favor,” Anderson related. “Having said that, it’s the men who buy the planting materials. The women actually do the work to produce the plants. We need to work with both members of the family in getting acceptance of the technology.” — Martin Ross

and bananas (a major Ugandan staple). Cassava is the focus of efforts to strengthen resistance to cassava mosaic and brown streak viruses and boost levels of Vitamin A key to visual health and immunity and iron vital for maternal health and infant development. Anderson said he sees cassava — sub-Saharan Africa’s second-largest crop — as “the best example of a food security orphan crop,” although it is a prime food source for some 800 million people. “It’s really drought-tolerant,” he said. “It grows well in poor soils, and in Africa, there are a lot of poor soils. It requires very low labor input. “And once the plant grows up — it grows to about eight feet over about a year and a quarter — you can leave the (edible) roots in the ground for as long as two years and dig them up as you need them, when other sources of calories may be failing. That’s a good definition of food security.” That security’s thwarted when cassava is infected with mosaic virus: Malformed leaves

result in poor photosynthesis and reduced underground yields. Brown streak, which has moved west across Africa over the last seven years, is even more insidious: Anderson noted aboveground foliage “looks pretty normal,” while roots may be a total loss. The Danforth Center is studying potential disease-

economic growth of 7.85 percent in 2010 and 7.75 percent in 2011. However, roughly 40 percent of Nigerians under age 5 are developmentally stunted, 25 percent are underweight, and two out of every five children in Nigeria are chronically underfed, according to the Global Hunger Index. Nigerian dietary staples include corn, sorghum, tubers, and seafood, largely in unprocessed or semiprocessed form. Amid an increased consumer preference for convenience, processed, packaged, and more nutritious foods, Nigeria’s manufacturing and retail food sectors are expanding. “We’re helping them build (soy) demand and see the versatility of soy,” Anderson related. “We don’t teach them to grow the soy — we teach them to use the soy, because we want them to use U.S. soy.” This week, the Urbana lab is

hosting an International Soybean Program “short course” on processing and marketing soybeans for meat, dairy, baking, and snack applications.

resistant lines and possible biotech solutions for disease control. However, both mosaic and brown streak are transmitted by the whitefly, and because that insect can’t be imported into the U.S., candidate lines must be shipped to Africa for trials. The prognosis nonetheless is promising. Anderson reported one line shows no sign of infection to brown streak, and suggested biotech varieties will be available to Ugandan farmers within four years. “Our objective over the long run is to make ourselves obsolete by having our partners develop newer products that will be beneficial to countries they work in,” he said.

Howard Berg, director of integrated microscopy at St. Louis’ Donald Danforth Plant Science Center, studies Arabidopsis, a mustard relative used extensively in crop genetics research. (Photo by Martin Ross)

Urbana center helps African chefs, Haitian children The National Soybean Research Laboratory (NSRL) at the University of Illinois is tapping the power of soy to change developing world diets — and, ideally, health. Many Third World crop staples are high in energy but lack protein needed to bolster immunity against disease and sharpen mental acuity key to education and economic growth. NSRL researchers are looking to soy protein to boost the nutritional impact of Medika Mamba — a new therapeutic product for malnourished Haitian children that also contains ground peanuts, powdered milk, vitamins and minerals. “You eat it at school — it kind of tastes like peanut butter,” NSRL spokesman Melinda Anderson told FarmWeek. In fact, Mamba has been nicknamed “peanut butter medicine.” NSRL has partnered with

the St. Louis-based group Meds and Food for Kids and Edesia, a Rhode Island company that produces ready-touse therapeutic foods.

Their hope is to boost educational performance and reduce childhood anemia and school sick days, and the project is supported by USDA’s global Micronutrient-Fortified Food Aid Pilot Program. Meanwhile, in cooperation with the International Institute for Tropical Institute, NSRL experts are training Nigerian chefs and food processors to incorporate soy protein into popular regional dishes. Nigeria is the largest market in sub-Saharan Africa with

In cooperation with NSRL, Illinois soybean growers will tour Central America this month and Haiti in July. — Martin Ross

One of the National Soybean Research Laboratory’s (NSRL) key education efforts, “When You Know, You Grow!” is an interactive tool for school-aged children aimed at improving nutrition, healthy lifestyles, and food safety and emphasizing the importance of protein in the diet — the focus of the activity shown here. The Urbana-based center has helped develop versions of the program for Central America, Africa, India, and (in French) Haiti.

FarmWeek Page 6 Monday, June 3, 2013

CROPWATCHERS Bernie Walsh, Durand, Winnebago County: We had 1.5 inches of rain in seven days, and the corn and beans look pretty good right now. We were ready for some rain, so it came at just the right time. Because of the occasional rains, there hasn’t been much progress in bean planting. Between 85 and 90 percent of the beans have been planted. Very little hay has been cut. I have seen only one field that was mowed, but everyone will be ready to “make hay” when the sun shines. There will be lots of spraying herbicides and sidedressing nitrogen as soon as the ground dries enough.

Jacob Streitmatter, Princeville, Peoria County: It was a very wet week here. Heavy rains covered the entire area destroying fields and crops. Creeks went out of their banks leaving debris all over and silting in and washing out corn and soybeans in their path. Total rainfall? I have lost count. My rain gauge is not big enough. The first rain on May 27 left close to 4 inches. Others had 5, and my dad was in the drought only receiving 1.5 inches. Not to worry, he has made up since. We have averaged 1 inch a day since May 27. There are still many soybeans to be planted and a few scattered fields of corn.

Pete Tekampe, Grayslake, Lake County: Another great week in Lake County. Got a shower almost every day, but not enough to halt fieldwork completely. Then on Thursday night the sky was threatening and dark, but we only got a little wind and about 0.5 of an inch of rain. Most of the corn is looking good. Beans are about three-quarters planted with the early beans starting to pop out. Winter wheat is looking good, as well as the alfalfa. Rain is in the forecast four of the next seven days, and we could use a little toward the end of the week. Remember — be careful.

Tim Green, Wyoming, Stark County: Another wet week. By Memorial Day we had received anywhere from 3 to 4.6 inches of rain, depending on which side of the county you were on. Got another 1.7 inches on Tuesday morning. For the week, we probably are at a little bit above 5 inches of rain. A lot of corn was washed out. Many beans are not yet planted. The river bottoms flooded again, and everything is pretty wet right now. Farmers are driving around trying to drain wet spots and keep the stalks from blocking culverts. Be careful.

Leroy Getz, Savanna, Carroll County: Rain last week of 2.3 inches brought May’s total to 5.1. The only fieldwork was for a few hours on Thursday with a little sidedressing. More rain and storms hit Thursday afternoon, putting a stop to all work. No hay cuttings have been made. Corn populations are very good and beans are emerging very nicely in this moist soil. What we need now is some sunshine. Ryan Frieders, Waterman, DeKalb County: Summer in Waterman has officially begun. By looking at our crop conditions, you wouldn’t be able to tell. Weather the last two weeks has caused crop growth to stall. We have had only two days with sunshine and the rest were cloudy and cool with rain. Soybeans are very slow to emerge and there are some fields that are not yet planted. Corn looks yellow and is short. There has not been any post spraying done, and fields without a preplant chemical are getting very weedy. Larry Hummel, Dixon, Lee County: A quiet week down on the farm. It seems like we had a shower almost every day. Most were only about 0.1 of an inch, except for Thursday night when we got 0.75 of an inch. Any chance we get, the sprayers are running full force to stay ahead of the weeds. Most of our time was spent going over the planter making sure it is ready for next year. Ken Reinhardt, Seaton, Mercer County: We have had excessive precipitation with more on the way Friday, the last day of May. Totals for the week were from 5 inches on up. My ground in Henderson County has had about twice that amount. There is still corn to be planted — maybe 10 to 15 percent. Some will end up prevent plant or soybeans. There will be some replanting from flooding, ponding, and washing out. Less than half the soybeans are in with many not even started. Ron Moore, Roseville, Warren County: We received 6.4 inches of rain since my last report. Some areas received up to 9 inches. Severe flooding has occurred again and more rain was expected over the weekend. We seem to be checking flood gaps every day to make sure the cattle remain in the pastures. The replanted corn has just as much or more water standing on it once more. All of the rain has caused the corn to be a pale green color. It looks like a lot of nitrogen may have been lost due to the ponds in the fields lasting for several days. There is still a fair amount of corn yet to be planted in this area and about 50 percent of the soybeans. No one is mowing hay yet. The fields are just too wet for any hay to dry out.

Mark Kerber, Chatsworth, Livingston County: A stormy, wet, humid week caused flooding in our area. The closer you farm to the Vermilion River, the more flooding you have, especially in the flat areas. Some crops have been under water all week. The fields that aren’t under water are completely saturated. There will be a lot of replanting activity whenever the time comes. Soybeans planted before the rains will have spotty stands. There are still soybeans to be planted the first time. We had just hooked up to the liquid nitrogen applicator to start sidedressing as the heavy rain came. It’s also too wet to mow ditches and waterways. Two of my neighbors have gotten their lawnmowers stuck. Markets have reacted some to the wet weather and planting delays in some areas. Ron Haase, Gilman, Iroquois County: We were able to get a little planting done Friday, May 24, through Sunday, May 26, in between light showers. Then on the evening of May 26, the big rains began. We received 4.3 inches for the week on most of our farms. We will be out of the fields for awhile with more rain still expected during the weekend. In the last two weeks, we have been able to be in the field for only about two and a half to three working days total. Now we will have to do some replanting in addition to the corn and soybean fields that have not been planted the first time. Some corn has reached the V5 growth stage, while some soybean fields are at the V1 growth stage with their first trifoliolate leaf unfolding. Local closing bids for May 30 were: nearby corn, $6.82; new-crop corn, $5.43; nearby soybeans, $15.40; new-crop soybeans, $12.67. Brian Schaumburg, Chenoa, McLean County: May likely will set a record for rainfall as we finished the week with 2 to 7 inches in the immediate area. Farming is at a standstill. Corn planting is complete and about 20 percent of the beans need to be seeded. If you look past the ponds, one would have to say that this crop is in very good shape. Corn, $6.87, fall, $5.46; beans, $15.26, fall, $12.59; wheat, $6.59. Steve Ayers, Champaign, Champaign County: Raindrops keep falling on my head again and again and again. After 1.1 inch of rain last weekend (May 25-26), storms rolled through the area Thursday evening and dropped another 0.55 of an inch. Some farmers were able to get into the field last week but many faced damp fields. We were battening down the hatches preparing for Friday afternoon’s next wave of storms with potential high winds and hail. Storms were expected to roll through Saturday and drop another 2.5 to 3 inches. The next storm potential is Thursday. Corn is growing well and our beans are still on the truck. Let’s be careful out there.

Wilfred Dittmer, Quincy, Adams County: Hello from our fields that are still soggy and with machinery that is still parked. The rain gauge says 4.75 inches of rain fell the past week, and that brings the total to 9.75 inches for the month. Quite a change from last year. I don’t think anything was planted near here all week. What corn is in the ground could use some sunshine, and I’m sure the hay guys would appreciate it also. Have a good week. Carrie Winkelmann, Tallula, Menard County: When I wrote last, we were trying to get corn post sprayed before the weekend rains. We were somewhat successful and posted 500 acres of corn on May 24, but have not been in the field since. We received 4.25 inches of rain in the last week, which brought our total for May up to 9.4 inches. We have corn at every stage between emerging and V5. Soybeans range from unplanted fields to putting out their second trifoliate. Some is under water for us and many more in the area, so we will just have to wait and see what will have to be done in each circumstance. Tom Ritter, Blue Mound, Macon County: The first band of showers that went through Thursday night left us with 0.3 of an inch of rain, bringing us back to pretty well saturated following 2.5 inches over the long Memorial Day weekend. No action took place in the field last week. Tractors haven’t moved for two and a half weeks. Planting remains stalled at 80 percent of the corn and less than 50 percent of the soybeans. Farmers are beginning to discuss whether to switch from corn to soybeans, but many are committed with their herbicide program. Needless to say, that call will not be made at least for another week because there will be no field activity for that period. Farmers are not real optimistic at this time, even though other than some ponding areas, stands on corn seem to be very adequate and the corn is getting some very good rapid growth. Todd Easton, Charleston, Coles County: The adverse weather pattern continued last week when Mother Nature decided to put 2-plus inches down during the Memorial Day weekend. On Thursday, a handful of farmers tried to mud in a few more acres of crop until rainfall stopped them. At the time of this writing, we had received about 0.5 of an inch of rain and forecasters say we may get another 2 inches. The area stands at 85 to 90 percent of the cornfields planted and at least half of those emerged. Many of the remaining fields are the ones that never dried out and are still a long way away from dry. The corn out of the ground is in a range of V4 to V5 on the earliest planting to V1 to V3 on the May plantings. Soybean fields, which probably are not even half planted, are seeing steady emergence. The wheat crop looks good at this point. Whether the cool wet spring has set the crop back will be seen when the combines begin their work. Doug Uphoff, Shelbyville, Shelby County: We had 4 inches of rain in two days. I heard that a county southeast of here had very little rain. More rain is in the forecast, so I doubt we will get into the field this week. Odd jobs, mowing, and ditching water are the only activities around here. I read an article last week that the drought was about over. I would say it was over here the middle of April. Fields going to beans are a weedy mess unless guys put on pre-plant herbicide in the fall or early spring. We will be pushing to be planted by the June 10 deadline for full coverage insurance on soybeans. Some switching of acres from corn to beans will happen unless anhydrous fertilizer or herbicides for corn already have been applied. Be careful mowing ditches. I saw a tractor with an axle snapped off as someone tried to mow a ditch that was too steep. Another about turned over when he hit a soft spot in the ditch. Have a safe week and who knows, we may miss a few rains and be back in the field before we know it.

Page 7 Monday, June 3, 2013 FarmWeek

CROPWATCHERS Jimmy Ayers, New City, Sangamon County: We started last week with a pretty good storm on Monday, May 27. Fifty or 60 mobile homes were torn up in Springfield. We finished out the week with a storm Thursday night with 70 mph winds. That storm knocked 40 rail cars off the track, took some limbs down, and caused quite a bit of damage around the Waverly/Loami area. We had 2.7 inches of rain at our place for the week. Corn that was planted a week or so ago is struggling in overly wet soil. Very few beans were planted last week. There was talk of some beans being put on with an airplane. Not sure if that happened. Starting to think about alternatives to seeding. We’ve been doing some spraying around the farm — roadsides, etc. David Schaal, St. Peter, Fayette County: Woke up early on Friday morning with showers again. We received 1 inch of rain. Farmers in this part of the county hit the fields Tuesday and Wednesday to start bean planting again. Most producers in this part of the county are done with corn and some are even starting to wind up everything. Corn that has emerged looks really good, has good color and is growing well. I finished with corn on May 20 and received 0.5 of an inch of rain on it that evening. Most bean planters have been rolling while farmers are watching the skies. Some quit and went to the shed and some kept going. Everyone stay safe during the rest of the planting season. Jeff Guilander, Jerseyville, Jersey County: It’s the type of year when every newsletter I get starts with replant decisions or the effects of corn in flooded fields. One good thing is the decision will keep getting easier as long as it keeps raining. Most cornfields look OK as long as you look down the row and not across. No progress was made in the last week, leaving corn about 90 percent planted and beans less than 10 percent planted. Growers already are being warned about sudden death potential. I guess there’s always something. Expecting 3plus inches of rain by today. Dan Meinhart, Montrose, Jasper County: Showers moved through the area on May 25, 26, and 27, leaving up to 1 inch. Planting resumed on Tuesday where ground conditions permitted. Heavy rain and strong, straight-line winds were in the area on Thursday night causing many downed trees, damaged buildings and vehicles, and downed power lines. Some area residents were without power for many hours. There is still some corn to be planted. Some beans have gone into the ground. The wheat crop is progressing. More heavy storms and flash floods were predicted for the weekend. Rick Corners, Centralia, Jefferson County: Here we go again. We got our one day of fieldwork in for the week on Wednesday, and then rain fell on Thursday afternoon. From the look of the forecast Friday, we may have inches in the gauge before the weekend is over. Some of the corn that was planted before the last deluge has pretty spotty stands with the low spots where the water stood being bare. Think most of the corn is planted, with some people either getting done or quitting.

Columbia Sheep Show this week in Bloomington

The National Columbia Sheep Show and Sale will be held this week in Central Illinois. The event begins Tuesday and ends Saturday at the McLean County Fairgrounds, 1106 Interstate Drive, Bloomington. The show schedule includes the national junior show, production yearling ram and ewe classes, wool show, and annual meeting on Thursday; a futurity show, National Columbia Show, and annual banquet and promotional auction (tickets required) on Friday; and the national Columbia sale on Saturday. For more information, visit the website {}

Dave Hankammer, Millstadt, St. Clair County: Memorial Day weekend was a holiday most farmers in our area were able to enjoy with comfortable temperatures and sunshine. With most of the corn planted, they were able to take time off. Besides, most of the fields in the area were on the damp side. We received some showers late Memorial Day afternoon delaying some of the evening’s events. The majority of the cornfields have emerged and can be seen down the row. We received a total of 0.7 to 0.8 of an inch of rainfall for the week, keeping farmers out of the fields and delaying any post-planting application of crop protectants and fertilizers on cornfields that has reached that stage of development. As we closed out the week, we received heavy rainfall and severe weather, and more was predicted for the weekend. Local grain bids: corn, $6.56; soybeans, $15.21; wheat, $6.98. Have a good week and stay dry.

Kevin Raber, Browns, Wabash County: Trying to finish planting soybeans, but didn’t have many days last week fit for fieldwork. It already was raining Friday morning, so more planting delays. Wheat is still looking good. Yield estimates should start by my next report.

Randy Anderson, Galatia, Saline County As I sat there Friday morning, I thought back to last year and how the weather man would call for rain, and it never showed up. But now if he calls for it to be mostly cloudy, it comes a downpour. I would say the county is about 95 percent complete on corn and 50 percent on soybeans. Wheat is showing signs of lodging from the downpours and high winds. Had to make a parts run over to Kentucky and the windshield report didn’t reveal the best on the early corn. You see a lot of uneven corn and compaction. In between rains, we started making hay, and it’s off about 25 percent from normal. I assume that’s because of the late frost we had.

Ken Taake, Ullin, Pulaski County: It was raining as I called in my report Friday morning. It started Thursday evening, but up until then, it had been a busy week in Southern Illinois. A lot of planting activities were completed this past week. Most area farmers are finished with corn and are well into planting soybeans. We are about half finished planting our soybeans. Other activities have been sidedressing corn and, of course, spraying. Please take time to be careful as we go through this busy season.

Dean Shields, Murphysboro, Jackson County: We had a lot of dry weather to finish corn planting and to get quite a bit of beans planted. Some people are done. Being down in the river bottom area, we have another problem with flood water. The river is going back up, so there will be no chance of getting our locks open this week. The corn, as well as beans, look good and stands are good. The wheat is coming along OK, too. It looks like it might be very good wheat; time will tell.

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


FarmWeek Page 8 Monday, June 3, 2013

Illinois primed to continue dairy herd expansion

June is Dairy Month BY DANIEL GRANT FarmWeek

Most Illinois dairy operations not only survived the great drought of 2012, but many farmers managed to increase milk production. Milk production statewide last year increased 3.4 percent compared to 2011. It was the largest yearly increase in milk production in Illinois since 1999/2000, according to Jim Fraley, manager of the Illinois Milk Producers Association (IMPA). The boost in milk production was due in large part to an expansion of the herd. Milk cow numbers in the state, which currently total about 101,000, increased over the past three consecutive years. “It’s going in the right direction,” Fraley said of the size of Illinois’ dairy herd. “I’m hoping the increasing numbers will continue.” There’s plenty of room for herd growth in Illinois, according to Fraley. Illinois is a milk-deficit state: About threequarters of the milk consumed

milk processing state, and we have a lot of consumers,” Fraley said. Illinois nationwide ranks first in total production of low-fat ice cream/ice cream mix, second in the production of cream cottage cheese, fifth in sour cream production, and

12th in cheese production. “It makes sense to put milk production near consumers,” the IMPA manager said. And Illinois typically is a feed-rich state, although supplies got tight last year and over the winter due to the drought. Fortunately, the wet spring revived pastures and forage growth. “Just being able to put cows out on pasture (this spring) really helped,” Fraley said. “There were guys completely out of feed.” Illinois dairy cows currently produce about 19,000 pounds of milk per head per year. In fact, dairy cows in the U.S. today produce about 4.5 times as much milk as their counterparts in the 1940s. The

Hog farmers from Illinois are eager to see how their counterparts in the European Union (EU) adjusted to a ban on the use of gestation stalls that took effect the

first of this year. Pat Bane, McLean County, and Pam Janssen, Woodford County, are two of the farmer participants and members of the Illinois Pork Producers

here is imported from outside the state’s border. Illinois, with about 12.88 million people, is the fifthmost populous state in the nation but ranks only 21st nationwide in milk production. “What’s really good (for the dairy industry) is Illinois is a

Information about June Dairy Month in Illinois can be found at

increase in production led to consolidation in the industry; there currently are about onethird fewer cows in the U.S. than in the 1940s.

The average herd size in Illinois, however, increased from single digits in the 1960s to about 135 head per farm last year.

Association who will take part in Illinois Farm Bureau’s EU Animal Care Study Tour. Tour participants will travel to the United Kingdom, France, Holland, Germany, and Denmark from June 23 to July 2. “It’s an exciting opportunity to go and visit Pat Bane with these (European farmers) to see how things are done, the good and the bad,” said Janssen, whose family runs a 200-sow, farrow-to-finish swine operation near Minonk. “We can see how all that could impact what we do here.” A number of U.S. food companies in recent years announced plans to source pork from farms that do not use gestation stalls. But U.S. hog producers at this point still can choose the sow housing systems that work best on their farms. “I think the U.S. (hog) producer is in a predicament,” said Bane, who with his brothers operates Bane Family Pork Farm near Arrowsmith. “I feel (the EU tour) will give us some perspective of the road we may be heading down.” The Banes operate a 3,000sow breed-to-wean, highhealth, closed-herd operation. Bane also contracts with another family farm in Illinois and produces 70,000 wean pigs per year. So if gestations stalls are banned in the U.S., it would have a great impact on his

operation. Bane said he believes changing sow housing systems would be costly and actually could reduce sow comfort and productivity. “We have a moral obligation to do what we feel is right on our farms,” Bane said. “So, for someone to tell you to do it their way because they think it’s better would be a tough pill to swallow.” Bane noted that gestation stalls currently are an industry standard in the U.S. About 85 percent of sows in the U.S. spend some time in a gestation stall. “We have gestation stalls and we really like them,” Janssen said. “We think they’re a better housing facility for the care of our Pam Janssen sows. “I’d really like to have the option (of sow housing systems),” Janssen continued. “Not every farm is the same. What works on one won’t always work on another.” IFB members on the EU tour also will investigate other livestock-related issues such as layer housing, antibiotics, tail-docking, and castration. — Daniel Grant

Illinois hog farmers eager to tour European operations


Page 9 Monday, June 3, 2013 FarmWeek

IAITC Bike Ride heads to Western Illinois roads BY KAY SHIPMAN FarmWeek

Four Western Illinois counties will host the 18th annual bike ride to support Illinois Agriculture in the Classroom (IAITC). From Sept. 2 to 4, cyclists will ride through Henry, Knox, Mercer, and Warren counties, raising money for ag literacy and awareness of agriculture’s importance to area students. Cyclists will stop at several schools to inform students about agriculture and bicycle safety. “The bike ride is a great way to teach and/or create awareness of agriculture throughout

Additional information on the IAITC Bike Ride is available at

the state,” said ride co-chairman Don Bergfield, an agriculture professor at Parkland College, Champaign. “I always stress to my students at Parkland how important it is to educate non-ag people on what we are doing to provide food to our nation,” said Bergfield who has ridden in AITC bike rides since 2005. “Raising awareness of and conveying the message of agriculture is the goal of presentations (by riders),” said cochairman Charlie Grotevant, a Kankakee County Farm Bureau member. Most presentations focus on elementary students. When feasible, the cyclists

also give presentations about ag-related careers to high school students. “With agriculture being the largest industry in Illinois, the scope of careers related to or directly involved with agriculture is immense,” Grotevant added. The ride will begin with a kickoff banquet in Galesburg, which will serve as the hub for the ride. Cyclists may choose between two routes on Sept. 3 and 4. Ardent riders will find challenging routes, while others may prefer shorter, less strenuous options, according to Grotevant. Riders who register before Aug. 26 will receive a discounted registration fee of $70. After that date, the fee will increase to $90. The registration fee for a one-day ride is $50. Students receive a $10 discount on registration. In addition, individuals who raise funds for IAITC will receive different benefits depending on the amount they raise. Those who collect between $250 and $499 in donations receive free registration. Participants who collect between $500 and $999 earn free registration and meals. Those who collect $1,000 or more earn free registration, meals, and lodging. More details on registration and fund raising are online at {} or by calling the foundation office at 309-557-2230.


Alexis Hammer, a junior at Clinton High School, cleans out the seed box of a planter used to plant the Clinton FFA Chapter’s test plot. The students took advantage of good weather near mid-May to plant their plot. (Photo by Mariah Dale-Anderson, Illinois Farm Bureau)


EE — Farm Bureau will sponsor a marketing workshop at 7 p.m. Wednesday, June 19, at the Dixon Comfort Inn. Dr. Steve Johnson, Iowa State University Extension farm management specialist, will be the speaker. Call 857-3531 or email by June 14 to register or for more information. • Lee and Bureau Farm Bureaus will host a golf outing to benefit Agriculture in the Classroom beginning at 9 a.m. Friday, June 28, at Hunters Ridge Golf Course in Princeton. Cost is $200 for basic registration, $225 for super registration, and $250 for premium registration. Call the Farm Bureau office at 875-6468 to register. • Farm Bureau’s 100th Anniversary Committee will meet at 7 p.m. Tuesday, June 18, at the Farm Bureau office. Members interested in joining the committee are invited to attend. ACON — Farm Bureau will sell tickets to grandstand events at the Macon County Fair. Discounted tickets will be available to members for the truck and


tractor pulls. Fair information is available at {}. ERCER — Farm Bureau will host a market outlook program at 7 p.m. Thursday, June 13, in the Farm Bureau basement. Dan Zwicker, Consolidated Grain and Barge market analyst, will be the speaker. Call the Farm Bureau office at 582-5116 for more information. OCK ISLAND — Farm Bureau and other area Farm Bureaus will sponsor “Celebrate Agriculture” night with the Quad City River Bandits at 7 p.m. Friday, June 14, at Modern Woodmen Park. Call the Farm Bureau office at 736-7432 to purchase tickets or for more information. • Farm Bureau will sponsor a market outlook meeting at 6:15 p.m. Tuesday, July 2, at the Moline Viking Club. Jamey Kohake, Paragon Investments, will be the speaker. Cost is $20 in advance and $30 at the door. Call the Farm Bureau office at 736-7432 for reservations. ANGAMON — Farm Bureau Women’s Committee will host a bus trip to Oglesby Mansion in Decatur and Flesor’s Candy Kitchen



and the outlet mall in Tuscola from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tuesday, June 11. Call 753-5200 for reservations. AYNE — The Young Leader Committee is seeking sponsors for the Young Leader Golf Scramble Saturday, July 27, at the Wayne County Golf Course in Fairfield. Event information is available at {}. HITE — Farm Bureau has extended the deadline to submit White County photo contest entries to June 7. The winning photograph will be used on the cover of the 2014 county plat book. Contest rules are available at {}. • The Young Leader Committee is seeking sponsors for the Young Leader Pistol Shoot Saturday, July 13, at the Carmi Rifle Club. Pistol shoot information is available 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 10 Monday, June 3, 2013

Tight soy stocks, strong demand may boost imports from South America U.S. soybean export sales have been running at a record pace for the 2012-2013 marketing year, but it would appear that old-crop exports are drawing to a close. The recent decline was apparent, Shalene Reeves as inspections for the week ending May 9 came in at a marketing year


low of 3.35 million bushel. Conversely, exports out of Brazil this past week were a marketing year high at 2.3 million metric tons (84.5 million bushels), indicating that Brazil’s exports for May are on pace to be record large. The switch of soybean exports from the U.S. to Brazil is not surprising given the time of the year and the fact that South America’s soybean production is larger than last year’s. However, it is interesting to note that South American

Northern Illinois small grains program set June 20 at U of I center in Shabbona Farmers in Northern Illinois this month can learn more about management practices and variety development of small grains. The Illinois Wheat Association (IWA) and University of Illinois Extension on June 20 will host the 2013 Northern Illinois small grains program at the U of I Northern Illinois Agronomy Research Center in Shabbona. The event will begin at 5:30 p.m. “Producers interested in learning more about wheat management and wheat and oat variety selection will have an excellent opportunity to get the latest information from experts located right here in Illinois,” said Diane Handley, IWA executive director. Fred Kolb, U of I small grains breeder, will discuss oat and wheat variety development for Northern Illinois; Emerson Nafziger, U of I Extension agronomist, will discuss the 2013 wheat crop, management practices, and a commercial variety trial; and Carl Bradley U of I Extension plant pathologist, will talk to farmers about wheat disease management. Those interested in attending may register in advance by contacting the IWA office at 309-557-3619 or by emailing Charlene Blary at Registration is $10 and includes dinner. For more information, visit the IWA website {}.

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 $26.97-$46.50 $57.17-$57.17

Weighted Ave. Price $37.61 $57.17

This Week Last Week 78,526 121,246 *Eastern Corn Belt prices picked up at seller’s farm Receipts

Eastern Corn Belt direct hogs (plant delivered) Carcass Live

(Prices $ per hundredweight) This week Prev. week Change $90.72 $90.20 $0.52 $67.13 $66.75 $0.38

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

This week $124.81 NA

Prev. week $124.04 $123.90

Change $0.77

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 $130.81 $131.67 -$.86

Lamb prices Slaughter Prices - Negotiated, Live, wooled and shorn 130-163 lbs. for 104.86-135 $/cwt. (wtd. ave. 118.30); 170-203 lbs. for 112-129 $/cwt. (wtd. ave. 115.16)

Export inspections (Million bushels) Week ending Soybeans Wheat Corn 5/24/2013 3.4 21.2 12.4 5/17/2013 3.8 21.2 14.6 Last year 12.8 20.6 30.4 Season total 1263.0 987.5 528.7 Previous season total 1149.2 1018.0 1195.0 USDA projected total 1350 1025 750 Crop marketing year began June 1 for wheat and Sept. 1 for corn and soybeans.

exports are being sold not only to China but also to the U.S.

It is interesting to note that South American exports are being sold not only to China but also to the U.S. Recently, there has been talk in the marketplace that at least three cargoes of South American soybeans have been sold to the U.S. for old-crop shipment. Old-crop domestic supplies are very tight, with soybean ending stocks estimated to be

at their lowest level since 20032004. Despite falling U.S. bean exports, there are no signs that U.S. domestic crush is slowing to levels needed to maintain minimal ending stocks. With crush margins remaining profitable and demand for meal remaining strong, U.S. crushers are expected to continue to buy soybeans until their local supply has been depleted. At this point, the majority of the remaining bean inventory in the U.S. looks to be in the hands of the farmer as commercial elevators have liquidated their bean ownership due to historically high basis levels. Given last year’s drought and the fact that most producers are in a strong cash flow position, the anticipation is for the farmer to be a reluctant seller

of his remaining soybeans until he gets his 2013-2014 crop planted and out of the ground. This should keep cash prices and basis values firm in the near term unless there is noticeable evidence that crush demand is being rationed. It also is important to note that there is no shortage of soybeans globally. If domestic demand remains on pace, tight supplies likely will force the U.S. to import soybeans from South America this summer in order to bridge old-crop inventory to new crop. This, in turn, should keep a cap on old-crop soybean prices. Shalene Reeves is a commodity risk consultant for MID-CO Commodities Inc. Her email address is


FSA COUNTY COMMITTEE NOMINEES SOUGHT — County Farm Service Agency (FSA) committee election nominations may be made from June 17 to Aug. 1, according to Scherrie Giamanco, Illinois FSA state executive director. Nomination forms must be postmarked or received in the local USDA Service Center by close of business Aug. 1. Elected county committee members serve three-year terms and are responsible for making decisions on FSA disaster, conservation, commodity, and price support programs, as well as other federal farm program issues. “County committees are unique to FSA and are a valuable resource that gives locally elected farmers and ranchers who participate in FSA programs the opportunity to impact farm programs at the local level,” Giamamco said. Farmers may nominate themselves or others. Organizations that represent minority and women farmers and ranchers also may nominate candidates. Nominees must participate in a program administered by FSA, be eligible to vote in a county committee election, and live in the local administrative area in which the person is a candidate. To become a nominee, eligible individuals must sign form FSA-669A. The form and more information about county committee elections are available online at

Farm Service Agency

{}. County committees are comprised of three to five members elected by local


farmers. All newly elected county committee members and alternates will take office Jan. 1.

June 8 Illinois Junior Preview Sheep Show, Woodford County Fairgrounds, Eureka. Check-in begins at 8 a.m. with shows at 9:30 a.m. and 1 p.m. For more information, email, call Bill Royer at 309-472-3231, email, or call Cheryl at 815-795-5030. June 8 Prairie Farms 75th anniversary activities, Expo Gardens (10 a.m. to noon), Peoria; River Rec Bike Path (11 a.m. to 2 p.m.), Rockford; and Olney White Squirrel Park (1 to 3 p.m.), Olney. For more information, call Rebecca Leinenbach at 314-513-3580. June 13 Illinois Soybean Association Export Transportation Summit, University of St. Francis, Joliet. The agenda will explore ways farmers, transporters and other industry partners can collaboratively overcome transportation infrastructure roadblocks. Free admission. Visit {} to register. June 13 Illinois Agriculture in the Classroom golf outing, Elks & Wolf Creek golf courses, Pontiac. Call 309-557-2230 or go to {} for more information. June 15 Prairie Farms 75th anniversary activities, Macon County Fairgrounds (11 a.m. to 5 p.m.), Decatur, and Wilson Park Ball Fields (noon to 3 p.m.), Granite City. For more information, call Rebecca Leinenbach at 314-513-3580. June 22 Prairie Farms 75th anniversary activities, Turley Park (9 a.m. to noon), Carbondale, and O’Fallon City Park (10 a.m. to 1 p.m.), O’Fallon. For more information, call Rebecca Leinenbach at 314-513-3580. June 23 Prairie Farms 75th anniversary activities, National River Museum and Aquarium Plaza (6 to 9 p.m.), Dubuque, Iowa.


Page 11 Monday, June 3, 2013 FarmWeek

Corn Strategy


Late planting and soybean yields

We ran a graphic similar to this for corn in early May, and it had similar implications. Planting date just does not have much impact on the crop’s yield. The trend suggests there is a slight downward bias to the planting/yield relationship, but it is small. There is a bias toward above-trend yields if the crop gets planted early, but there doesn’t seem to be a big penalty for planting late. Unlike corn, in which yields were consistently at or above trend unless it was a dry year, the pattern for soybean yields seem more scattershot. But even those years in which planting was less than 75 percent complete by June 9, more of them had good yields than bad ones. Even the year that was arguably the most delayed, 1995, had a yield that was only 2 percent below trend yield. We suspect the more scattershot look of soybean yields relative to trend is due to yields being dependent on late-summer weather even more than for corn. And that is a period in which moisture has a tendency of being more limited. By June 9, we’d guess soy-

bean plantings could be near 60 percent complete. Using the trend relationship, the yield would be 3 percent below trend, pointing to a 42.7 bushel yield this year, assuming relatively normal weather. The uncertainty surrounding acreage will last into the June 28 USDA acreage report. The market currently is rife with discussion about use of the prevent plant insurance provision and switching from corn to soybeans. Corn plantings are about on schedule given the mid-May progress. Some switching may occur, but we doubt corn plantings fall more than 2 million acres. Some will go to soybeans, and some could go to prevent plant. But total prevent plant acres in 2008 were not a lot different than last year. And 2009’s were only 2.44 million, about double what they were a year ago. And soybeans have not yet reached the late-plant date of June 15 in Iowa and most of Illinois. Unless the extreme wet pattern continues, soybean plantings could match USDA’s 77.1million-acre forecast, if not be somewhat higher. Using a normal harvested acreage relationship and a yield 3 percent below trend, it results in a 3.2billion-bushel crop, one that still suggests a larger carryout.

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ü2012 crop: The relative weakness of old-crop prices reinforced our unwillingness to hold old-crop inventory other than “gambling stocks.” Both basis and futures have weak underpinnings. ü2013 crop: Weather fears may be exaggerating ideas of acreage losses. History does not bear this out unless planting delays become extreme. If you are comfortable with your planting, increase sales to 50 percent. vFundamentals: Large planting progress in mid-May took some of the enthusiasm out of the market. Weakening old-crop basis has become an additional drag, shifting the bullish hopes, if there are any, to the new-crop prices. Longer-range weather forecasts are more mixed at this writing. Without extreme delays in the final plantings, current expectations for acreage reduction may be exaggerated. The two most recent years with rain/flooding issues saw plantings drop less than 1.3 million acres. And while the rain is a detriment for some crop’s yields, it is a benefit to others.

Cents per bu.

Soybean Strategy

ü2012 crop: Futures are holding near $15, but basis declines are dragging cash bids slowly lower. Sell remaining bushels other than “gambling” inventories. ü2013 crop: Just like it did for corn, the delay in planting is keeping new-crop prices firm. But it’s not yet late enough to suggest the situation is critical. Use this push to increase sales to 50 percent if you are comfortable with planting prospects. vFundamentals: The trade remains uneasy about the weather and the planting pace. But the 44 percent planting nationwide on May 26 was well above the slowest on record. And it was only slightly behind progress in 2008 and 2009. Mostly, hedge fund buying is fueling new-crop strength. Unwinding of old-crop/newcrop spreads is helping support new-crop prices. But poor exports, declining basis levels, and declining crush margins indicate demand is subsiding. Continued weather problems

could give new-crop prices a lift, but when the weather rights itself, new-crop prices will quickly turn lower.

Wheat Strategy

ü2012 crop: The failure of the wheat market to sustain gains diminished the chances of seeing further short-term strength. Because the futures carry is not that good, we prefer to use minor strength to make catch-up sales. ü2013 crop: Use rallies above $7 on Chicago July futures to make catch-up sales. If you plan to sell wheat off the combine, be more aggressive

making additional sales on rallies. Prices will be vulnerable to seasonal pressure into harvest. vFundamentals: The discovery of some unapproved GMO wheat in a field in Oregon may have a dampening influence on export demand until the situation is clarified. We don’t believe it’s going to be a significant problem, but until more is known, buyers may spurn U.S. wheat. Harvest also is close to accelerating. Harvest could begin in Arkansas this week. Crop/moisture conditions are improving in various countries, potentially increasing competitive supplies.


FarmWeek Page 12 Monday, June 3, 2013

End of bond bull market forecast on the money?

Re-energizing public research How can we re-energize the public research model in Illinois in an environment with diminishing resources? A task force created by the Illinois Farm Bureau, commodity groups, and Illinois universities with ag programs issued that charge with full knowledge of our state’s budget challenges. The task force learned demand is strong and funding is available for food and agriculture research. But due to declining state resources for higher education, attracting and maintaining top research faculty is a CHRIS challenge. MAGNUSON We need effective research and development for farmers to stay competitive. Advancements in seed technology, tillage, precision application, and farm equipment have allowed farmers to increase productivity while reducing their environmental footprint. Food and agriculture research benefits more than just farmers. On the federal level, the President’s Council of Advisors on Science and Technology (PCAST) December 2012 report identified a series of challenges facing agriculture, including: • managing new pests and invasive plants; • increasing efficiency of water use; • reducing environmental footprint; • managing production of bioenergy; and • producing safe and nutritious foods. The PCAST report recommends increasing funding for ag-related research by $700 million. PCAST also recommends moving to a more competitive allocation of funds. While state funds are declining, private funds for research are increasing. The source of federal research money is changing — less from USDA and more from sources such as the Department of Energy, the National Institute of Health, and commodity checkoffs. All of this has implications for farmers. The decline in state funding has the biggest impact. Why? Because universities traditionally use state funds to hire faculty, who then write grants to do research. You need human capital to successfully compete for the best students and research project funding. Illinois ranks near the bottom of Midwestern states in funding for agriculture-related research despite being one of the largest in ag production. Illinois’ lack of funding support for agriculture research is discouraging. We can pound our fists on the table and demand more funding, but given the state’s fiscal mess, I’d rather bet on my Cubs winning the World Series. It’s time to be realistic and consider

additional approaches. Findings from our research task force suggest increasing the awareness of the situation and developing an agreed-upon vision for public research in Illinois. As a first step, farm and commodity organizations plan to formalize a list of research needs and priorities. This is a good first step, but ultimately we need more significant changes to the research model. Obviously, there are no easy answers. The following are three ideas to consider: 1. Universities must operate more efficiently and address their cost structure. At some point, technology will revolutionize the insulated university environment as it did travel agents, book sales, and the media industry. Innovative universities will provide online classes to thousands of students across the globe. Tuition can’t continue to increase at 8 percent a year. OK, maybe I’m venting now, since I have two daughters attending colleges in Illinois. 2. Universities need to consider alternative approaches to pay for faculty. For example, despite facing a similar reduction in state funding, the University of Nebraska is adding 36 new tenured faculty positions in its college of agriculture. Officials there believe the investment in additional staff will improve their ability to attract more federal research competitive grants. To put this in context, the U of I received approval to fill three vacant faculty positions in the College of Agricultural, Consumer, and Environmental Sciences. Nebraska received a boost through a $50 million gift from an alumnus. It will be interesting to watch if that aggressive approach pays dividends. 3. Private funders of research, including farmers, need to consider how to target their research funds to attract top research faculty. Financing research projects has its limitations if there is no one to propose the projects and conduct the research. Establishing endowed chair positions is one option. However, funders can be uncomfortable providing several million dollars for a position with academic freedom and little control on the outcomes or defined deliverables. Creative approaches need to be developed. Illinois agriculture’s ability to reach its full potential depends on finding creative solutions and rising to meet our need for research. Chris Magnuson is Illinois Farm Bureau’s executive director of operations, News and Communications. He served on the Illinois Public Research Task Force along with IFB board member Chuck Cawley.

It’s official. As of April 29, 2013, the great bond bull market ended — that is, according to Bill Gross, the legendary bond investor who manages the largest bond fund in the world. Gross made that comment roughly two weeks after the 10year U.S. Treasury hit the 1.67 percent mark. He does hedge his forecast by saying that a bear market (where rates would begin a steady rise) still is not in the cards until growth and inflation begin to rise. Since the great recession, the U.S. has been able to manage only slow to moderate growth. This, even as monetary policy has been extremely accommodative. With short-term rates essentially 0 percent, and the massive quantitative easing program pouring $85 billion per month into bond purchases, the pedal has been on the metal for quite some time. The big question no one seems to be able to answer is when we will see a significant pickup. Of course, timing is the hardest part of any forecast. While only Gross knows the exact variables upon which he bases his forecast, perhaps he is taking cues from the corporate bond market. High-quality companies can now fund their businesses at what can only be described as ridiculously low rates. Recently, Apple decided to tap the credit markets for the first time, although the company was already flush with cash. Apple placed $17 billion in new issuance in record time with investors eager for even more. Apple’s six-tranche (six part) offering ranged from three to 30 years with the longest bearing a coupon of only 3.85 percent. The debt due in five years carried a coupon of only 1 percent. DEREK While high-quality companies such as Apple VOGLER with tons of cash always have been able to sell their debt at reasonable rates, even much riskier companies recently have seen their funding costs decline dramatically. At the beginning of May, the Barclay’s High Yield Index, which is composed of below-investment-grade credits, dropped below 5 percent for the first time ever. For comparison, this number briefly touched 25 percent back in late 2008 at the heart of the credit crisis. Five percent also is interesting because this is where the 10-year U.S. Treasury traded back in 2007 before the crisis. While there is nothing magical about 5 percent and similar comments could have been made all the way down from the peak of the yield, we do find it interesting how little investors are now willing to accept on these risky assets. In many cases these companies have less-than-stellar balance sheets and clearly have yet to impress the major credit rating agencies. But investors are willing to pour their money into these assets due to the current rate environment. Maybe Gross was factoring in these paltry returns and decided “enough is enough” when he made his recent call. Other than some short-term fluctuations, the general trend in rates has been down for a number of years. So the question now is what has changed? Has the recent uptick in employment and the U.S. housing market been enough to reignite the high-powered U.S. economy? Certainly some of the data have improved lately, but there are quite a few indicators that still point to very sluggish growth. Equity investors definitely appear to be believers, as they have pushed market indexes in the U.S. to all-time highs. Year-to-date, through mid-May, the Standard & Poor 500 index has soared by roughly 15 percent. Most other developed countries also have seen their markets lift dramatically, with double-digit returns across the board. And who could forget Japan? Its market has been red hot since its new government targeted higher inflation. In the same time period, the Nikkei Index is up about 45 percent. Equity markets appear to be reflecting an economic recovery on the horizon, success in battling worldwide deflation, or maybe it’s just the reaction from investors being forced into riskier assets to find an acceptable return (even if it comes with higher risk). Given Gross’ forecast, along with significantly higher stock prices, one could assume that we are close to a period of significant and sustained economic growth. While nothing is impossible, we remain concerned that some of the positives we are seeing today will quickly diminish once the Fed decides to exit its current quantitative easing program. Derek Vogler is a vice president of investment at Country Financial.

June 3 2013