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Iowa Soybean Association, 1255 SW Prairie Trail Parkway, Ankeny, Iowa 50023

NON-PROFIT ORG. U.S. POSTAGE PAID DES MOINES, IA PERMIT NO. 1333

IN FARMER FORESIGHT

CELEBRATING SUCCESSES December 2017

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President Bill Shipley, Nodaway | D7 President Elect Lindsay Greiner, Keota | At Large Treasurer Stephanie Essick, Dickens | At Large

December 2017 | Vol. 30, No. 2

Secretary Tim Bardole, Rippey | At Large Executive Committee Dave Walton, Wilton | D6 Board of Directors Mark Vosika, Pocahontas | D1 Chuck White, Spencer | D1 April Hemmes, Hampton | D2 Casey Schlichting, Clear Lake | D2 Rick Juchems, Plainfield | D3 Suzanne Shirbroun, Farmersburg | D3 LaVerne Arndt, Sac City | D4 Jeff Frank, Auburn | D4 Rolland Schnell, Newton | D5 Morey Hill, Madrid | D5 Robb Ewoldt, Blue Grass | D6 Jeff Jorgenson, Sidney | D7 Randy Miller, Lacona | D8 Warren Bachman, Osceola | D8 Pat Swanson, Ottumwa | D9 Tom Adam, Harper | D9 Brent Renner, Klemme | At Large American Soybean Association Board of Directors Morey Hill, Madrid Wayne Fredericks, Osage Brian Kemp, Sibley John Heisdorffer, Keota Dean Coleman, Humboldt United Soybean Board of Directors Delbert Christensen, Audubon Larry Marek, Riverside Tom Oswald, Cleghorn April Hemmes, Hampton Staff Credits Editor | Ann Clinton Communications Director | Aaron Putze, APR Senior Creative Manager | Ashton Boles Photographer | Joe Murphy Staff Writer | Carrie Laughlin Staff Writer | Matthew Wilde Staff Writer | Allison Arp Sales Director | David Larson

Iowa Soybean Review is published eight times a year by: Iowa Soybean Association 1255 SW Prairie Trail Parkway, Ankeny, Iowa 50023 (515) 251-8640 | iasoybeans.com E-mail: aclinton@iasoybeans.com

14 Laying a Strong Foundation

30 years of investments in the making

16 Visionary Thinking, Extraordinary Results

U.S. soybean promotion pays off in China

20 Investing in Research NCSRP celebrates 25 years

24 Infrastructure

Improvement A bigger check is not always required

SPECIAL REPORT:

An in-depth look at the dicamba issue. What happened last year and what's ahead for next year. See pages 26-29.

For advertising information in the Iowa Soybean Review, please contact Larson Ent. LLC (515) 440-2810 or Dave@LarsonentLLC.com. Comments and statewide news articles should be sent to the above address. Advertising space reservations must be made by the first day of the month preceding publication. In consideration of the acceptance of the advertisement, the agency and the advertiser must, in respect of the contents of the advertisement, indemnify and save the publisher harmless against any expense arising from claims or actions against the publisher because of the publication of the content of the advertisement.

On the Cover: An employee of the Iowa Northern Railway prepares to throw a switch while moving grain near Nora Springs. The Soy Transportation Coalition will continue to be an advocate for soybean farmers by working on load testing for rural bridges, funding for locks and dams and promoting expanding semi weight limits among other items in 2018.

DECEMBER 2017 | IASOYBEANS.COM | 3


Kirk Leeds Chief Executive Officer, Iowa Soybean Association kleeds@iasoybeans.com, Twitter@kirkleeds

Celebrating Milestones “Great things in business are never done by one person. They’re done by a team of people.” — Steve Jobs I thought about this quote from Mr. Jobs while reflecting on this month’s magazine and its focus on a number of organization anniversaries in the soybean world. Job was exactly right. Great things, whether in business or in a trade association, always require a team. All the stories that follow are the result of great people working together. This month marks my 25th year as the Chief Executive Officer of the Iowa Soybean Association (ISA). It has indeed been an honor to serve in this role over the last two-and-ahalf decades. I've had a front row seat observing the growth of the soybean industry and the role Iowa soybean farmers play in feeding and fueling an ever-expanding global population. More people with more money to spend have driven the global demand for soybeans to a level that most of us could barely

have imagined. ISA has changed dramatically in those 25 years, but so has Iowa agriculture and the farmers we have always served. From the growth in production and demand, to the introduction of new technologies and new ways of farming, there has never been a dull moment in the corner office at ISA. I have been blessed to work with and for some really talented and dedicated staff and farmers. Having served in this role for this many years also means I've been able to participate in the formation and growth of many related soybean organizations and efforts. One of those I'm most proud of is the North Central Soybean Research Program (NCSRP). Incorporated in November 1992, NCSRP was formed by a small group of soybean checkoff farmers. Representing a handful of Midwest states, the farmers’ goal was to improve the coordination and the effectiveness of checkoff investments in soybean research in areas of mutual interest across the region.

By 1993, eight state soybean checkoff boards were members of NCSRP. In just a few short years, all 12 of the states in the north central region had joined. I was pleased to serve as the state coordinator in the early days of the organization. When I do finally retire, I know I will look back at the success of NCSRP with fond memories and an appreciation for what the group has accomplished. Likewise, we have also included a story about the significant role the Soy Transportation Coalition (STC) has played in its first ten years in elevating transportation issues and offering solutions. With an office here at ISA, Mike Steenhoek has served as the executive director of the organization since its inception. He has also been blessed with an outstanding set of farmer board members. I hope you enjoy this issue of the Iowa Soybean Review. From all of us here at ISA, best wishes to you as we prepare to celebrate Christmas and the New Year.

Kirk Leeds pictured in the "corner office" at the Iowa Soybean Association in 1999. This image appeared on Leeds's column in the Iowa Soybean Review for many years.

4 | DECEMBER 2017 | IASOYBEANS.COM


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Carol Balvanz Policy Director, Iowa Soybean Association cbalvanz@iasoybeans.com

Iowa’s Nutrient Reduction Strategy Turns Five

F

ive years ago, prompted by problems of hypoxia in the Gulf of Mexico, Iowans bought into a program that would attempt to reduce total nitrogen and phosphorus loadings to Iowa’s rivers and streams by 45 percent. In five years, the Iowa Nutrient Reduction Strategy (INRS), a joint effort among Iowa Department of Natural Resources, Iowa Department of Agriculture, Iowa State University and several farm and urban groups, has gone from a paper concept to action on the ground. It is showing results. A recent Watershed Planning Advisory Council (WPAC) meeting outlined its progress report of the INRS for the year and since its inception. The observations included: 1. Municipal wastewater plants are making progress on updating their facilities and renewing their permits. (105 new permits and 51 feasibility studies completed). 2. Farmers planted more than 600,000 acres of cover crops in 2016, up from 15,000 acres in 2011. Farmers and landowners invested about $8 million in cost share contracts.

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3. Terraces, sediment control basins and wetlands installed since the beginning of the INRS benefit more than 300,000 acres by removing both nitrogen and phosphorus. Farmers and landowners invested about $20 million in terraces and stabilization structures. 4. Water monitoring sensors have been installed strategically to cover the drainage area of at least 88 percent of Iowa’s land. Cost share, competitive grants, loan programs and individual investments have funded these results to date. The Iowa Soybean Association has invested in staff and programs to increase the number of bioreactors, controlled drainage and wetlands to control nitrogen losses on even more acres. Sponsored projects where municipal water treatment facilities needing upgrades partner with landowners outside the city to reduce nitrogen loading have emerged in at least five Iowa watersheds. Overall, the progress report shows just that: progress. However, the program has only just begun. The report outlines the next

challenge: the capacity for acceleration. Funding is the issue—but not simply more money. More predictable money. Right now, nearly 55 percent of the funding comes from grants and annual appropriations. The report states, “In the long term, this type of funding is difficult to rely upon for management programs that will maintain ongoing INRS progress. While many programs are in place to further the INRS, there is great need for developing other opportunities and investments that will support the enormous level of scaling-up that is required.” The Iowa Nutrient Reduction Strategy, with its watershed work and rural urban collaboration, is beginning to show what's possible. But true success will require focus and financial commitment beyond annual appropriations and grant awards. Hopefully before we reach our tenth anniversary, we’ll have made that commitment.


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Measuring Progress of the Iowa Nutrient Reduction Strategy By Roger Wolf, Director of Environmental Programs & Services

T

77 percent reported they're knowledgeable he Iowa Nutrient Reduction Strategy (INRS) is now five years old. The first about the INRS, up 9 percent from 2015. draft was written in November 2012 and Land practice adoptio: officially launched in May 2013. Government cost-share programs Each year, the Iowa Department of enrolled 300,000 cover crop acres in 2016. Natural Resources, Iowa State University, Iowa has experienced a steady increase in and Iowa Department of Agriculture and cover crop acres since 2011, and statewide Land Stewardship publish an annual estimates (beyond just cost-share) indicate progress report, the first one published in 600,000 acres were planted in 2016. 2014. The length and weight of the report does not indicate progress. However, Water quality improvement after studying the progression of the outcomes four annual reports, 2017’s stands out. At least 88 percent of Iowa’s land It clearly illustrates maturation of our drains to a location where water quality ability to measure and report progress. sensors are installed and maintained This year’s report represents the most primarily by the Iowa Department of comprehensive articulation to date on the Natural Resources, University of Iowastatus of implementing the INRS. IIHR and the U.S. Geological Survey. The measurement team for the INRS Water monitoring occurs at various scales, advanced what is known as a logic model from edge-of-field to large watersheds. framework (see Carol Balvanz’s column Long-term data collection on page 6). will contribute to our The 2017 understanding of local and report is beginning statewide nutrient loss to integrate all over time. dimensions of the In addition, grab logic model. For samples of surface water example, in addition are collected regularly to illustrating trends Roger Wolf by the Iowa Soybean in terms of practices Association (ISA) and adopted over time, Agriculture’s Clean Water we can now begin Alliance at 187 locations, plus 435 edgeto determine the relationship between of-field sites. focused outreach and/or watershed-based approaches and overall impacts upon ISA provides an annual report of adoption of practices. activities to the INRS measurement team. Following are a few observations from These accomplishments included in the the 2017 report. 2017 report were: • 30 dedicated projects addressing soil Reach conservation, water quality and other Outreach events effectively doubled nutrient strategy efforts, engaging last year. Partner organizations reported 405 individual farmers directly and 474 events with 54,500 attendees. Of coordinating with 86 different partner collaborators. farmers surveyed in selected watersheds,

8 | DECEMBER 2017 | IASOYBEANS.COM

• $2.8 million in dedicated funding toward soil conservation, water quality and nutrient reduction. This includes state and federal grants, contracts and soybean checkoff investments. • 4,121 water samples collected and analyzed from 187 stream sites and 435 edge-of-field sites. • 149 outreach pieces showcasing nutrient reduction strategy efforts including media interviews, articles in Advance and e-weekly newsletters, Iowa Soybean Review and ISA's annual research report. • 56 field days, tours, and watershed events with more than 1,800 attendees. • 18 soil and water presentations to 490 attendees. • Three scientific peer reviewed papers accepted for publication. Demonstrating sustained progress toward meeting the goals of the INRS will continue to be an important endeavor for Iowa. ISA and several other partners support the development and use of watershedbased strategies designed as a pathway to scale up implementation of INRS practices. In most cases, these plans are supported by grants from IDALS and others and are directly supported by local partners who are leading implementation activities. In most of the locations, the watershed-based plans are being used to transition from the demonstration phase to implementation scale-up of practices and projects. ISA is pleased to make progress with the tools and resources provided and optimistic to continue to build on this success.


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INVESTING CHECKOFF DOLLARS

Laying a strong

FOUNDATION Marlyn Jorgensen, farmer from Garrison

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INVESTING CHECKOFF DOLLARS

30 YEARS OF INVESTMENTS IN THE MAKING By Carrie Laughlin

T

he national soybean checkoff has been responsible for numerous projects and programs to help farmers remain sustainable and profitable. Enacted in the 1990 Farm Bill, national checkoff-funded resources have allowed soybean farmers across the U.S. to build international trade and export markets and invest in new soy uses and production research to maximize yield. Marlyn Jorgensen of Garrison was one of many soybean leaders who worked to get the national checkoff program implemented. Only recently retired, Jorgensen began farming in 1963 and became active with the Iowa Soybean Association and American Soybean Association (ASA) in 1971. He served in various capacities for both organizations, including ASA president (1989-1990). Jorgensen shares some of his thoughts looking back on the work he did and where he sees the future of agriculture.

ISA: What projects were you investing in when you were on the board? How have these projects or programs changed in the last couple decades? Jorgensen: When I first started there was only the state checkoff. At the time, Japan was our biggest customer and we did a lot of market development there. We could see the need for more export markets so we moved to implement a national checkoff so everyone was contributing. This was also a time when the former Soviet Union opened up to trade so we did work there as well as in China. There was always a desire to invest in research to improve profitability, but there’s also just the fact we didn’t have much money

back then. We worked with Walter Fehr of Iowa State University on crop varieties and even low linoleic soybeans. One of the biggest new uses successes was when the Cedar Rapids Gazette began to use soy ink. It was the first large paper in the U.S. to do so.

How would you explain to nonfarmers the importance of trade? You have to look at the total economy and the tremendous job creation with exports. Non-ag people don’t see it as much, but if you look at soybean uses around the world, it’s exciting. Processing soybeans into oil and meal and shipping them overseas is a great use of the total bean. When it comes to feeding the world, that’s a moral calling. It's about making sure people have enough protein around the world, as well as an economical value to farmers.

How has the ag industry changed in the last 30 years? How did early investors help farmers today? Just laying the foundation and getting everyone to understand the importance of investments. You have to start with a good base if you’re going to build a good house. Even before my time there were people writing checks to do something that had never been done before – like investing in Japan. Consolidation both on and off the farm has also been a big change. Prices and yields have greatly improved thanks to research, genetics and technology. I’m hopeful we’ll continue to invest in research and market development to make sure we have a bright future ahead.

What advice would you give to farmers who are deciding which projects and programs to invest? One of the big things is to listen to your members and find out what’s important to them. They also have to be forwardthinking. You can’t just do the same thing over and over. Look for new opportunities whether they are research or new uses. I think new uses is always a top priority. We have to be looking outside the box of where we can go to create new demand. Obviously, the bottom line is to make sure producers remain profitable, but where can we invest research funds to keep farmers sustainable and environmentally friendly, which is of prime importance? I’m thinking it’s water quality, and the soybean industry is one of the leaders of that in Iowa.

What do you think will be the next great investment for ag? There needs to be more involvement in the supply and value chain and end-user communication. We need those not in agriculture to understand the importance of what we do so we’re not an island. Consumers are kind of fickle sometimes, but we have to monitor what they’re invested in and it’s in our interest to meet their needs whether it’s food, fiber or new uses. We need to always be on the lookout for new opportunities. Carrie Laughlin can be contacted at claughlin@iasoybeans.com. DECEMBER 2017 | IASOYBEANS.COM | 15


INVESTING CHECKOFF DOLLARS

Visionary Thinking,

EXTRAORDINARY Results

U.S. SOYBEAN PROMOTION PAYS OFF IN CHINA By Matthew Wilde

I

t was only a dream 35 years ago for soybean growers to help the Chinese get a chicken in every pot. That may seem like an odd goal, but industry leaders say it was far from farfetched. “Back then that was the phrase,” says Kirk Leeds, Iowa Soybean Association (ISA) CEO. “With a billion people, that would be a whole lot of chickens and soybeans.”

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U.S. and China soybean industry partners, including several ISA representatives, gathered in Beijing earlier this year to celebrate the 35th anniversary of the American Soybean Association (ASA) opening its first office in China’s capitol and the meteoric rise of the nation’s soybean industry and U.S. soybean exports that followed. The foresight of farmer

leaders to invest scarce checkoff funds more than three decades ago in a communist country that was a soybean exporter with no immediate payback was a risk, industry officials agree. In the early 1980s, China — once a closed society — was opening up under new leadership and talking about introducing some capitalism and free markets. The U.S. and China re-established full diplomatic relations in 1979.


INVESTING CHECKOFF DOLLARS

Soybean producing states pooled resources — tens of thousands of dollars a year initially — to open the Beijing office, send farmers to China to build relationships and provide livestock feed and nutrition training. Experts helped potential customers understand the advantages of soybeans, particularly from the U.S., to feed animals and people. Visionary investments paid off handsomely. China became the world’s largest soybean importer, and is still considered the pinnacle of checkoff lore. “It’s a great story people need to hear,” Leeds says. “I get questions from time-totime about the value of the investment. “Some say we would be selling soybeans in China even if it wasn’t for the checkoff program,” he continues. “That may be true, but I guarantee market development wouldn’t have occurred this fast and we wouldn’t sell China as many soybeans as we do.”

Purchases ramp up China started importing soybeans in the mid-1990s. Purchases gradually ramped up from about 150 million bushels in 1997-98 to nearly 1.5 billion bushels 10 years later. Imports exploded after 2007 when the country decided to be selfsufficient in corn, wheat and rice and buy most of its soybeans. The U.S. Department of Agriculture predicts overall Chinese imports will grow by about 110 million bushels to nearly 3.5 billion, possibly more, this marketing year. Today, soybeans aren’t just feeding poultry as early soybean leaders envisioned. “You’re feeding the pigs, chickens and fish,” says Paul Burke, U.S. Soybean

Kirk Leeds, CEO ISA, has visited China more than 20 times in efforts to expand the market for Iowa and U.S. soybeans.

Export Council (USSEC) North Asia director, in a video about soybean demand. “Twenty percent of soybean imports are used for soybean oil for cooking. And, consumers are frequently using soy sauce, soy paste and tofu. “So, they are consuming soy for breakfast, lunch and dinner,” he adds.

Leap of faith For the farmers who took a leap of faith decades ago, they’re still in awe of the success of early checkoff investments in China. Norman Chambers of Corwith was one of many visionary farmer-leaders that realized the nation’s potential. He was a former chairman of the Iowa Soybean Promotion Board in 1984-85, United Soybean Board (USB) secretary in 1991 and Iowa’s representative on the ASA Development Foundation, which dispersed state checkoff funds for market development in the late ‘80s. The foundation preceded passage of the national soybean checkoff in 1991, which spawned the USB. The American Soybean Association and USB formed USSEC, which now handles market development. ASA concentrates on policy issues. In the early ‘80s, Chambers says Europe garnered most of the attention of farmers since it was the largest importer of soybeans at the time. But others believed bigger opportunities lie elsewhere. “We thought the giant was China just because of the population,” Chambers says. “Companies at the time weren’t excited about it. Many of us felt like it was the producers’ place to do it.

Soybean organizations working on behalf of U.S. soybean farmers ASA The American Soybean Association concentrates on policy issues.

USB The United Soybean

Board oversees the investments of the soybean checkoff to maximize profit opportunities.

USSEC The U.S. Soybean

Export Council handles market development.

China started importing soybeans in the mid-1990s. Purchases gradually ramped up from about 150 million bushels in 1997-98 to nearly 1.5 billion bushels 10 years later.

[ Continued on page 18 ]

Jim Sutter, CEO of USSEC, has been a driving force in expanding international demand for soybeans since starting in 2010.

China is the world's largest U.S. soybean buyer. In 2016/17, more than 1.33 billion bushels were sold to the country.

DECEMBER 2017 | IASOYBEANS.COM | 17


INVESTING CHECKOFF DOLLARS

[ Continued from page 17 ]

“American Soybean Association could see it,” he continues. “As it turns out, they were right.” As national checkoff revenues increased, more was spent in China. Programs became more intense and specialized, such as livestock feed efficiency and increasing soy in feed rations. Risk management became a focus, along with aquaculture. Each nation hosts multiple trade teams a year from the other. Relationship building is stressed. U.S. soybean exports to China increase from 197 million bushels in the 2000-01 marketing year to 1.33 billion bushels in 2016-17, a 39 percent market share. “It’s a much bigger deal than anyone of us could imagine,” Chambers says.

Celebration ISA President Bill Shipley of Nodaway attended the 35th anniversary gala with Leeds and Grant Kimberley, ISA market development director. As attendees fondly reminisced about the past and talked about the future, Shipley couldn’t help but think of what farmers did for the industry decades ago.

“I am very appreciative of the foresight of others and every farmer should be when it comes to opening and developing the Chinese market,” he says. The 35th celebration was a little more subdued than the silver anniversary party, Leeds adds. Many buyers and farmers in attendance weren’t around when Chinese imports were taking off. “To many industry people in high positions, what’s happening now is normal,” Leeds says. The success serves as inspiration to find and invest in new markets, Shipley contends. India is a prime example. The nation usually raises enough soybeans to be self-sufficient. However, experts predict it will become a major importer as its population — currently 1.3 billion — grows, becomes more affluent and demands more protein. Sound familiar? “We have to look long range,” Shipley says. “Increasing demand is what it’s all about.” Matthew Wilde can be contacted at mwilde@iasoybeans.com.

Xiaoping Zhang, USECC director and Grant Kimberley, ISA market development director

Bill Shipley, ISA President

U.S. Soybean shipments pour into Chinese ports every year.

U.S. soybean exports to China increase from 197 million bushels in the 2000/01 marketing year to 1.33 billion bushels in 2016/17, a 39 percent market share.

Norm Chambers, of Corwith, a former chairman of the Iowa Soybean Promotion Board, realized the importance of Asia as an emerging market for U.S. soybeans.

18 | DECEMBER 2017 | IASOYBEANS.COM


INVESTING CHECKOFF DOLLARS

Paul Burke, USSEC North Asia director

ONWARD & UPWARD CHINESE SOYBEAN IMPORTS PROJECTED TO SOAR By Matthew Wilde

C

hinese soybean demand has grown beyond the imaginations of industry leaders, but by no means is it topped out. Soybean stakeholders in China and the United States recently celebrated the 35th anniversary of the American Soybean Association opening its first office in Beijing. It serves as a hub to provide checkoff-funded education and technical assistance in China to build demand for U.S. soybeans. A strong trade partnership flourishes today as a result. U.S. soybean exports to China increased from nothing in the early 1990s to more than 1.33 billion bushels last year, U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) records show. The USDA predicts overall Chinese imports will grow by about 110 million bushels to nearly 3.5 billion this marketing year. “I don’t know anyone 30 years ago who guessed China would import over 60 percent of the soybeans traded in the world today,” says Kirk Leeds, Iowa Soybean Association CEO. “I’m still bullish on China.”

And for good reason. During anniversary events and meetings in China, several high-ranking government officials projected continued growth. Liwei Zhang, director of market information at the China Grain and Oil Information Center, forecasts Chinese soybean imports will increase 128.6 million bushels annually, on average, for the next five years. Purchases will likely reach 4.4 billion bushels in 2022, he contends. “We require more and more soybeans every year,” He Xintian, secretary general, told growers at a Chinese Feed Industry Association meeting. “Soybean production in China cannot meet demands of the market here, and U.S. soybeans have a great reputation in this market. We both benefit a lot from trade between our two nations.” John Baize, an international oilseed analyst from Falls Church, Virginia, projects an additional 3 billion bushels of soybeans or more will be needed

to feed the world 10 years from now. Much of the increase will be in China. An estimated 300 to 400 million Chinese citizens are expected to move to cities and join the middle class in the next decade. Increased protein consumption typically accompanies a higher standard of living. More soybeans will be needed for animal feed and cooking oil. “Imagine if 300 million citizens in the U.S. (almost the entire population) increased consumption of animal protein by 30 percent,” says Paul Burke, U.S. Soybean Export Council (USSEC) North Asia director, in a video about demand. “We will see that in China in the next 10 years.” ISA President Bill Shipley of Nodaway says it’s all about feeding people. “The Chinese market isn’t mature by any means,” he adds. “We won’t see huge jumps in the future, but use will gradually increase.” Matthew Wilde can be contacted at mwilde@iasoybeans.com. DECEMBER 2017 | IASOYBEANS.COM | 19


INVESTING CHECKOFF DOLLARS

Investing in

RESEARCH NCSRP CELEBRATES 25 YEARS

I

n September of 1991 the national soybean checkoff began, increasing the research budgets of state soybean boards and with it, their ability to fund university research. Inter-disciplinary and inter-institution research was uncommon and the likelihood of duplication and uncoordinated research and communication among the states was high. From this situation, the idea to create a regional research program began. The North Central Soybean Research Program (NCSRP) was officially created in November of 1992 to increase the collaboration among states, especially for

20 | DECEMBER 2017 | IASOYBEANS.COM

By Allison Arp

soybean genetics, diseases, insects and agronomics that posed regional challenges and opportunities. In 2017 NCSRP celebrates its 25-year anniversary of helping north central farmers invest checkoff dollars in research. From pest management to farmer communication the group has had a major impact on the soybean industry at the state, national and regional levels. “With the increased dollars from the checkoff (in 1991) there was a lot of concern about duplicate research at universities in the various states,” says Kirk

Leeds, Iowa Soybean Association (ISA) CEO and the original executive director for NCSRP. “Multi-disciplinary research across campus was not common in the early 1990s. Neither was research between researchers from multiple institutions. NCSRP from the beginning worked to change both limitations.” Three state boards – Iowa, Illinois and South Dakota – were part of incorporating NCSRP in 1992, In 1993 Indiana, Michigan, Minnesota, Ohio and Wisconsin joined followed by Missouri in 1995 and Kansas, Nebraska and North Dakota in 1998.


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NCSRP directors and staff from Illinois, Kansas and Missouri investigate diseased plants as part of an NCSRP summer tour (left and right). Each summer NCSRP visits a different state to see the progress of research being funded by checkoff dollars. to various state research sites. Ed Anderson (center) is the current NCSRP executive director.

NCSRP funded various projects in its first year, including soyfoods, white mold, row spacing and soybean cyst nematode (SCN). Since then it has funded projects involving soilborne and foliar diseases, soybean aphids and other insect pests and soybean rust. More recently, it has invested in research focused on glyphosate resistance, cover crops and communications initiatives. It has been a critical supporter of the first and second SCN Coalitions, Plant Health Initiative, National Soybean Checkoff Research Database and many other collaborative research and outreach efforts. Leeds heralds the group’s early work on white mold, aphids and SCN as great accomplishments. bHe also recognizes the commitment the states have made to many projects and programs focused on increasing soybean farmers’ productivity and profitability through yield improvement and yield protection. “The fact all 12 states in the region are members and contributing to the research is a huge accomplishment,” he says. “The farmer-directors have stayed focused on research that has importance to all the farmers of the region and they haven’t allowed politics or other distractions to get in the way of their important work.” Leeds also credits NCSRP for “setting the stage” for future state collaboration including the Soy Transportation Coalition and Soy Aquaculture Alliance. NCSRP’s reach touches many parts of the soybean industry through their philosophy of combining dollars and working together was a better option for the nation’s soybean farmers. Who better than the farmers to make decisions about where their checkoff money goes. Each member state has a farmer director that represents their state on the board and helps make those

decisions. ISA’s current representative on the board is Suzanne Shirbroun of Farmersburg. “Being on the board is a privilege and I say that because I truly believe NCSRP is great because it’s a way to use the farmer’s checkoff dollars more efficiently,” Shirbroun said. “Research dollars are harder to come by with the economic climate of ag right snow so it’s good there’s work going on between the states and universities. We’re multiplying our research dollars when everybody is working together.” Perhaps the best way to describe NCSRP and its research is, when good people come together, great things happen. Allison Arp can be reached at aarp@iasoybeans.com.

NCSRP was officially created to increase the collaboration among states, especially for soybean genetics, diseases, insects and agronomics that posed regional challenges and opportunities.

Suzanne Shirbroun, Iowa Soybean Association district 3 director from Farmbersburg, is Iowa’s representative on NCSRP. All 12 member state nominate a farmer director to serve on the board. DECEMBER 2017 | IASOYBEANS.COM | 21


INVESTING CHECKOFF DOLLARS

A NEW LEASE ON LIFE FIRST BIOREACTOR IN IOWA GETS RECONDITIONED By Carol Brown

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t was like déjà vu for Mike Bravard early last month as he watched a backhoe dig a large hole alongside his corn field. Nearly a decade ago, an excavator was used to install a bioreactor. Recently, the digger unearthed the first-of-its-kind water quality improvement structure. Spent, dry and brittle woodchips were exposed – confirming they had done their job of removing nitrates from the drainage water. The idea behind the bioreactor exemplified the meaning of hypothesis or “educated guess” for scientists, according to Iowa State University and the Iowa Soybean Association (ISA) environmental specialists. After years of data collection from Bravard’s site, as well as from nearly 30 more installations that

followed, researchers believe bioreactors can play an important role in improving water quality. Agriculture’s Clean Water Alliance (ACWA) funded the $10,400 installation of Bravard’s bioreactor, which was the first of six installed and monitored for the organization. ISA, Agri-Drain, and the Sand County Foundation, Madison, Wisconsin, partnered with ACWA on the project. “We can show a nitrogen reduction of about 1,500 pounds over the first seven years of study,” says ISA Environmental Scientist Keegan Kult. “Looking at the cost per pound of nitrogen removed, that puts us in the $6–8 ballpark. With bioreactors now, we can get closer to the $2–3 mark, even down to $1. The average concentration reduction of

nitrogen was 51 percent, of the water that was pushed through the bioreactor.” Concerned about the nitrates in his water, Bravard gave the go-ahead to install the bioreactor when approached by Todd Sutphin, ISA senior environmental operations manager. He had already done several strip trials and a manure study with ISA. “I had been to a lot of meetings, knowing that our watershed was on the Des Moines Waterworks’ radar,” says Bravard, a participant with the West Buttrick Creek Watershed improvement project. The Des Moines Waterworks unsuccessfully sued three northwest Iowa counties for contributing to the nitrate pollution in the Raccoon River, a primary water source for the agency. Bravard

The old woodchips were dug up from the bioreactor and spread on a nearby field. Two semi truckloads of new woodchips were added and the soil cap replaced so it is ready for another 10- to 15-years of nitrate removal.

22 | DECEMBER 2017 || IASOYBEANS.COM IASOYBEANS.COM


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The drainage outlet of the bioreactor hides in the streambank buffer. The outlet was dry as the drainage control structures were in place to dry out the bioreactor prior to its dismantlement.

says the bioreactor and the other conservation practices he uses helps improve soil health and water quality.

Time for a recharge Recently, Bravard noticed the bioreactor was literally sagging. Its surface had subsided between 2- and 3-feet in some places, indicating the bioreactor may not be functioning well. Kult agreed. “There was a decline in performance in the last few years,” says Kult. “The numbers weren’t lining up anymore for how much nitrogen should be removed and was actually removed. That indicates it’s time to recondition it.” The old woodchips were dug up from the bioreactor and spread on a nearby field. Two semi truckloads of new woodchips were added and the soil cap replaced so it is ready for another 10- to 15-years of nitrate removal.

With study comes revision “We’ve learned a lot about building and optimizing bioreactors in the landscape since installing this first one,” says Roger Wolf, director of ISA’s Environmental Programs and Services and ACWA executive director. Researchers have learned over time that if water stays too long within the bioreactor, bacteria can reduce sulfur, creating conditions for unwanted effects.

A spent woodchip that was in the bioreactor since 2008 is lightweight and brittle, a sign the living organisms are gone.

“The first bioreactor designs included a one-foot depression at the bottom so there would always be water in it,” says Chris Hay, ISA senior environmental scientist. “Now, they are designed with a flat bottom. Our plan is to leave enough woodchips — compact them in the excavation to flatten the bottom out, then lay plastic over that, so it will be like the new bioreactors.” In the middle of the bioreactor reconditioning, ACWA, ISA and Capital Crossroads hosted a Current Conversations on Water Quality field day event. Attendees could see the uncovered bioreactor, the old and new woodchips, and the scope of size before it was covered with a couple feet of soil.

Iowa Nutrient Reduction Strategy Because of the experimental bioreactor installed in Bravard’s field in 2008, farmers and landowners now have another tool to reduce nitrogen entering rivers and streams.

Field day attendees gather in Mike Bravard’s field at the bioreactor site, including ACWA president Harry Ahrenholtz, front.

“All this happened before the Iowa Nutrient Reduction Strategy,” says Wolf. “This bioreactor was the first that actually had the science, data and information for it to become a cost-sharable practice with the USDA. It enabled bioreactors to be included in the Iowa Nutrient Reduction Strategy (INRS) as one of the eligible practices.” The strategy offers a suite of practices that farmers can implement to reduce nitrogen and phosphorus by 45 percent in Iowa waterbodies. A reduction of the hypoxia zone in the Gulf of Mexico also is a goal. Generally, bioreactors can remove nearly 43 percent of nitrates from the subsurface waters, close to the goal in the INRS. “Bioreactors are a practice that works well in a number of situations,” adds Hay. “It’s a good way to deal with the nitrate that we can’t keep in the field.” Carol Brown can be reached at cbrown@iasoybeans.com.

Generally, bioreactors can remove nearly 43 percent of nitrates from the subsurface waters. DECEMBER 2017 | IASOYBEANS.COM | 23


INVESTING CHECKOFF DOLLARS

INFRASTRUCTURE IMPROVEMENT

A BIGGER CHECK IS NOT ALWAYS REQUIRED By Mike Steenhoek, Executive Director – Soy Transportation Coalition

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s President Trump and Congress continue to debate the need to enhance our nation’s transportation infrastructure, the temptation among both policymakers and the public is to reduce the discussion to a simple question of funding. After all, the needs are exorbitant and current resources are limited. Therefore, the logic suggests, the solution to our transportation dilemma must be to increase funding. While the Soy Transportation Coalition (STC) and others have rightfully promoted more robust

24 | DECEMBER 2017 | IASOYBEANS.COM

investment in roads and bridges, locks and dams, ports, and other key modes of transportation, it would be myopic to focus exclusively on the revenue side of the equation. To make significant and lasting benefits to our infrastructure requires an equal focus on the cost side of the equation. Farmers have a wellestablished reputation of demanding stewardship from themselves and others. “Making do with less” and “getting the biggest bang for the buck” are traits farmers have long

demonstrated both professionally and personally. Given this reputation, it is most appropriate for the STC – an organization funded by and led by soybean farmers – to explore and promote opportunities to improve the infrastructure agriculture relies upon by not only asking, “How do we acquire the resources we do not have?” but also by asking, “How can we get more out what we currently have?” By approaching our transportation challenge with this perspective, the STC is prioritizing a number of key initiatives in 2018.


— Mike Steenhoek, Executive Director, Soy Transportation CoalitionINVESTING

Load testing technology To promote better evaluation and management of the state’s rural bridges, the STC has promoted the use of load testing technology. The greater utilization of this technology will reduce the likelihood of rural bridges being unnecessarily load restricted and increases the likelihood of taxpayer funding being allocated more strategically to those bridges that are truly in need of repair or replacement. The STC recently completed a pilot project with Midland County, Michigan, that is designed to be replicated in rural areas throughout the country. The technology employs the use of load testing sensors attached to the underside of the bridge. After the sensors are installed, test loads are driven over the various segments of the bridge surface to determine a precise understanding of the capabilities of the bridge. The pilot project in Michigan evaluated three load posted bridges. After conducting the testing, one bridge was able to have a 10 percent increase in allowable weight. The other two bridges were each able to have 30 percent increases in allowable weight. The load postings on all three bridges have therefore been removed. This project was designed to increase clarity of the condition of rural bridges – resulting in enhanced stewardship of both the bridges themselves and the scarce taxpayer dollars available to maintain them.

Predictable funding Over the years, the STC has routinely conveyed the argument, “How you allocate money is just as important as how much money you allocate.” Improving our nation’s inventory of locks and dams is not solely a function of increased funding. More efficient allocation of funding is also essential. The STC recently completed a research project that analyzed and highlighted the inefficiencies and cost escalations resulting from the current unpredictable and piecemeal approach to funding the nation’s locks and dams. In addition, the project identified best practices that, if implemented, would

increase the likelihood of lock and dam modernization projects being completed on schedule and within budget. This unpredictable and piecemeal funding approach results in materials and equipment for the construction effort becoming more expensive. If the Army Corps of Engineers, the agency responsible for lock and dam maintenance and construction, is provided funding assurance for only a fraction of the total cost of the project, the Corps will naturally only purchase materials and equipment commensurate with that funding level. If a lock and dam project, for example, will require five years to complete and if Congress only provides one year’s amount of funding toward that project, the Corps will purchase only one year’s worth of steel, concrete, labor, equipment, etc. Repeating this over the course of five years will result in a significantly more expensive project compared to one that received the full five years’ allotment of funding. In construction, better to make one five-year purchase of materials vs. five one year purchases. The unpredictable funding for locks and dams also results in inconsistent and sporadic construction. When funding is assured, work can proceed. When it is not, work will be suspended. This mobilization and demobilization of effort has a cost every time it occurs.

Expanding semi weights The STC continues to update and expand earlier research on the benefits of expanding semi weight limits on state highways and interstates to a six axle, 91,000 lbs. configuration. If our nation continues to struggle to expand miles of public roadways, we should be open to opportunities to increase the capacity and throughput of truck transportation while maintaining and improving public safety and infrastructure integrity. Allowing trucks to transport more freight provided the addition of a sixth axle is a way of providing this. In 2010, a number of Iowa agricultural organizations utilized STC research on this topic and led an

CHECKOFF DOLLARS

"We should be alarmed, but not surprised, by the cost increases and construction delays experienced throughout the inland waterway system simply due to funding not being provided in a predictable and reliable manner." — Mike Steenhoek, Executive Director, Soy Transportation Coalition

effort that eventually resulted in semi weight limits on state roads being increased when utilizing six or seven axle configurations. Having similar allowances on the interstate system would provide cost savings and greater access to potential markets for farmers and grain elevators. As the STC celebrates its tenth anniversary, the organization will continue to promote sufficient resources for the needs of our multimodal transportation system. There is no substitute for funding. However, farmers can and will play a role in ensuring limited dollars are more efficiently utilized. This approach works on the farm. It can work for our transportation system as well. DECEMBER 2017 | IASOYBEANS.COM | 25


INVESTING CHECKOFF DOLLARS

DICAMBA:

A Year in Review By Matthew Wilde

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he 2017 soybean harvest is in the books, but the controversy surrounding dicamba use is far from over. Was the debut of dicamba sprayed over-the-top of soybeans a success? Does its weed-control prowess outweigh its shortcomings? Answers vary widely depending upon whom you ask. Some farmers report no problems using the new-and-improved herbicide and associated traits, weed-free fields and production boosts. Others claim losses — some significant — to nontolerant crops due to drift and volatility. Companies selling low-volatile formulations of dicamba and tolerant traits consider 2017 a triumph. University weed scientists say the growing season was neither a complete success nor failure and remain skeptical about the herbicide’s future. Custom applicators agree dicamba is an important tool to fight glyphosateresistant weeds, but drawbacks exist. “It was a unique experience this year,” says Brent Renner, who farms near Klemme. “I’m entering next year with an open mind.”

The Iowa Soybean Association (ISA) at-large director planted 232 acres of dicamba-tolerant seed beans for Syngenta. He didn’t plan to use dicamba, but weather delays and two failed applications on resistant weeds forced Renner to use the herbicide. He sprayed soybeans following label instructions without issue. Despite severe hail damage, the dicamba-tolerant soybeans yielded 45 bushels per acre. “I was amazed they did that well,” Renner says. “I was nervous about using dicamba, but for the most part it did a nice job controlling weeds. As a farmer, I’m open to growing the soybeans again and using the product. “But as a custom applicator, it scares me due to liability concerns,” he adds. “I have friends and neighbors who have the same concerns. We’re dealing with a chemistry that even if you do everything perfect, there still could be potential problems.” Dicamba is 50 years old, but use waned over the years because it’s prone to off-target movement from rain, wind

and volatility (herbicide turns from liquid to gas). The advent of crops genetically engineered to tolerate dicamba and new less-volatile formulations to control herbicide-resistant weeds, particularly to glyphosate, contributed to its resurgence. Reformulated chemistries and strict label instructions help curb off-target problems, but they can’t stop it.

Reported problems Dicamba drift injured 80 percent of a 115-acre soybean field farmed by Brian Kemp of Sibley. The American Soybean Association Board member estimates a yield reduction of 7 bushels per acre amounting to a $7,200 loss. He’s confident the liability insurance of the neighbor responsible will make it right. The longtime farmer and former Iowa State University (ISU) Extension and Outreach agent knows dicamba injury when he sees it, including stunted growth and cupped soybean leaves. Despite the best efforts of industry, he’s skeptical dicamba can be used during the growing season without issue.

Brent Renner, farmer from Klemme

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“I would like to see the chemistry work,” Kemp says. “I suspected there would be problems. That’s why I didn’t plant dicambatolerant soybeans. And, I shouldn’t have to plant them as a defense.” More than 2,700 dicamba-injury investigations were conducted nationwide to determine why problems occurred, according to data compiled by the University of Missouri. There were 110 in Iowa, records show. Typically, the state receives a dozen or less, says Iowa Deputy Secretary of Agriculture Mike Naig. He suspects if every complaint was turned in and not “handled across the fence,” Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship investigators would be much busier. “Investigations help resolve local issues, determine what happened for insurance purposes and findings are sent to the EPA (Environmental Protection Agency) for future determinations on the product,” Naig says. Preliminary results from investigations show dicamba injury occurred all over the state and for various reasons — volatility, label instructions not followed and tank contamination were the most common. “We haven’t identified a particular trend that would be a silver bullet to fix,” Naig adds.

Dicamba success stories Monsanto claims a 99 percent customer satisfaction rate with their dicamba products — Roundup Ready 2® Xtend soybeans genetically engineered to tolerate

Mike Owen (left) and Bob Hartzler, Iowa State University weed experts, discuss the pros and cons of new dicamba formulations to control herbicide-resistent weeds in Iowa.

nationwide this year, according to the company. Partridge says 100-bushel-peracre reports weren’t uncommon when the chemistry and traits were used. The Monsanto executive says he walked many soybean fields from North Dakota to Louisiana after on- and off-target applications of dicamba. He witnessed injury symptoms and excellent results. “The combines told the story,” Partridge says. “I think a lot of the emotion will disappear.” He’s confident the science behind the traits and chemistry, testing and protocols are sound. “We know from our tests from 2010 forward that the product does not move because of volatility beyond the buffer

University weed scientists say the growing season was neither a complete success nor failure and remain skeptical about the herbicide’s future. XtendiMax™ with VaporGrip Technology, a low-volatile formulation of dicamba for pre- and post-emergence use, and glyphosate. “I have growers smiling ear-to-ear telling me their dicamba fields are the highest-yielding, cleanest fields they have,” says Scott Partridge, Monsanto vice president of global strategy. About 21 million acres of Roundup Ready 2 Xtend soybeans were planted

zones (110-220 feet, depending on herbicide rate) and causes a reduction in plant height or economic loss,” Partridge says. “We also know from experience that over 90 percent of off-target movement of dicamba was the function of not following the label.”

Movement worries Todd Claussen, director of agronomy for Landus Cooperative, doesn’t agree with the volatility statement.

The co-op’s sprayer fleet applied two of the three approved post-emergent dicamba products to a “significant” number of acres in Iowa, Claussen says. Application protocols and label instructions were strictly followed, he adds, including buffer zones. Many applications were monitored and video recorded. “The manufacturers did a really good job building a protocol to make sure the product didn’t move off-target out of the machines — that is a fact,” Claussen says. “Fellow applicators said the same thing.” Yet, every Landus Cooperative sprayer hub location received an unspecified number off-target dicamba injury claims, which are being addressed. “It’s not because of drift coming out of the sprayer. The herbicide still has a propensity of volatilization,” Claussen says. “We had claims on farms that had injury in more than one direction from the target field.” Mike Owen, ISU Extension weed specialist, believes off-target dicamba applications widely occurred statewide. “A very small percentage were reported because of the Midwest ethos of getting along, working with your neighbors,” he says. “But if it happens again next year, I think the situation will be different.” Matthew Wilde can be contacted at mwilde@iasoybeans.com.

DECEMBER 2017 | IASOYBEANS.COM | 27


INVESTING CHECKOFF DOLLARS

DICAMBA:

Better Days Ahead? By Matthew Wilde

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rop protection companies and the government took steps to minimize the potential for drift damage to neighboring crops from dicamba for 2018. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) reached an agreement in October with manufacturers to reclassify new formulations of the herbicide as “restricted use.” Only certified applicators with special training, and those under their supervision, will be able to buy and apply Monsanto’s XtendiMax™ with VaporGrip Technology, BASF’s Engenia and DuPont’s FexiPan next year. New label restrictions and requirements are also on tap for the products spayed over-the-top of soybeans. Farmers, applicators and weed scientists hope new rules and regulations will reduce the thousands of dicambainjury complaints registered nationwide this year. Plantings of dicamba-tolerant soybeans are expected to more than double in 2018.

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“(The) actions are the result of intensive, collaborative efforts, working side by side with the states and university scientists from across the nation who have first-hand knowledge of the problem and workable solutions,” EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt said in a statement. Mike Owen, Iowa State University (ISU) Extension and Outreach weed scientist, says the mandate for more education and rule changes are good. It will make applicators more aware of potential issues. New recordkeeping requirements will also aid future drift investigations, which Owen predicts will rise as more dicamba is sprayed over more acres. “Changes in the wind speed will help curtail the potential movement from particle drift,” Owen says. “But truth be told, none of the changes the EPA proposed and the registrants agreed to address the issue of volatilization. It’s not

the biggest issue, but it is an issue.” Companies are stepping up their efforts to increase on-target applications by working with EPA and educating customers. Monsanto projects 43-44 million acres of Roundup Ready 2® Xtend soybeans, genetically engineered to tolerate dicamba and glyphosate, will be planted next year. Possibly half of the nation’s crop. Scott Partridge, Monsanto vice president of global strategy, says this year’s success of the products and customer feedback provide the confidence to make the bold prediction. He says the enhanced label will address the “vast majority” of problems encountered this season. “We believe the requirement that applicators be trained and certified goes directly to the necessary education and training component that needs to be done to ensure on-target applications,” Partridge says. “We trained over

(Photo by Matthew Wilde/Iowa Soybean Association.)


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EPA and manufacturers agreed to the following label changes for XtendiMax™ with Vapor Grip Technology, Engenia and FexiPan, new dicamaba chemistries for “over-the-top” use:

April Hemmes of Hampton reported excellent control of glyphosate-resistent weeds and drift issues using XtendimaxTM with VaporGrip Technology and following label instructions. (Photo by Matthew Wilde/Iowa Soybean Association)

50,000 individuals in proper applications of our product and we’ll ramp up that activity next season.” Training is required from the registrant or a state-authorized provider to apply dicamba in 2018, according to Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship (IDALS). The department is working on an online option to meet the auxinspecific training label requirement. It will work with ISU Extension and industry to provide training. ISU Extension and IDALS are involved in a regional effort with other state pesticide safety educators and regulators to develop a list of topics that would be included in the training. “Our interest is to make sure the training does the job and meets EPA requirements,” Naig says. “We want to ensure applicators understand the label and what can happen if they deviate from it.” States have the option to ban dicamba or restrict its use beyond the label. The Arkansas State Plant Board banned application from April 1-Oct. 31. Naig says there’s no plans to do either in Iowa. State officials, citing industry sources, predict dicamba-tolerant soybean acres will dramatically increase in Iowa beyond the 1 million

ISU estimates were planted this year. Dicamba use is expected to increase as well. Some farmers plant dicambatolerant soybeans and use the chemistry for weed control. Others like the elite germ plasm and yield possibilities. Some will choose the traits as a defense against drift. April Hemmes of Hampton plans to use Monsanto’s dicamba products again after a successful 2017. The Iowa Soybean Association Board member doesn’t think the “restricted use” label and new rules will be a deterrent, though custom applicators believe their business will increase because of it. “For farmers like me who spray their own crops, we’re already certified. It’s not that big of a deal,” Hemmes says. “I had no problems and I like the weed control.” The conditional two-year registrations for XtendiMax with VaporGrip Technology, Engenia and FexiPan are set to expire at the end of next year. EPA says it will monitor the success of the label changes to decide whether to allow over-thetop use of dicamba beyond the 2018 growing season.

• CLASSIFY products as “restricted use,” permitting only certified applicators with special training, and those under their supervision, to buy and spray them. Dicambaspecific training for all certified applicators to reinforce proper use. • REQUIRE farmers to maintain specific records regarding the use of these products to improve compliance with label restrictions. • LIMIT applications to when maximum wind speeds are below 10 mph (from 15 mph) to reduce potential spray drift. • LIMIT application times between sunrise and sunset. • INCLUDE tank clean-out language to prevent cross contamination. • ENHANCE susceptible crop language and record keeping with sensitive crop registries to increase awareness of risk to especially sensitive crops nearby.

Monsanto’s plan to improve on-target applications of dicamba in 2018 • ASSIST states in training herbicide applicators per restricted use guidelines. • GIVE away approved nozzles to customers who buy Roundup Ready 2® Xtend soybeans and XtendiMax™ with Vapor Grip Technology. • ESTABLISH a 1-800 number so applicators can receive help to understand the label and proper application techniques. The call center will be manned continuously manned by trained professionals. • CREATE a training and education program for retailers.

Matthew Wilde can be contacted at mwilde@iasoybeans.com. DECEMBER 2017 | IASOYBEANS.COM | 29


'TIS THE SEASON FOR GIVING … AND RECEIVING By Lindsey Foss

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his time of year, it’s not uncommon to see a line of people waiting to greet Santa, Mrs. Claus and their entourage of helpers. What is unusual is when the North Pole crew trades out their sleigh of presents for a gift that’s on the wish lists of thousands of foodinsecure Iowans. Each year, Iowa Select Farms employees, in conjunction with the Deb and Jeff Hansen Foundation, trade in their work boots and farm responsibilities for holiday costumes to distribute free pork as part of Operation Christmas Meal. Earlier this month, Iowans in need drove through the Iowa State Fairgrounds to receive a complimentary five-pound, boneless pork loin roast, no questions asked. Jen Sorenson, communications director for Iowa Select Farms, considers the event an opportunity to give back to communities they serve. “For families in need, protein sources are expensive. When people are faced with decisions to pay bills, fuel their cars and keep their utilities on, oftentimes, meat is the first to go,” says Sorenson. “We don’t want families to have to make that choice — especially when it comes to their Christmas meal.” Each year, dozens of volunteers gather in the wee morning hours to distribute more than 4,000 pork loins to individuals and families in need. “We’re fortunate to work with a lot of people who are so passionate about their jobs and the amount of care they put into raising healthy animals and producing a safe product. That passion translates into other areas of the company, too,” Sorenson says. “They offer to come out

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in the cold and distribute pork loins because they have a big heart and care about giving back to Iowa. It makes them feel like they’re part of something special — because they are.” Providing hunger relief for Iowans is one of the core missions of the Deb and Jeff Hansen Foundation. Operation Christmas Meal was started in 2011 and is one of many activities throughout the year to fulfill Iowa Select Farms’ commitment to giving back to the state. “Our founders, Deb and Jeff Hansen, always wanted to be an Iowa-based company and committed many years ago to starting and growing a pork production business out of Iowa Falls, while many producers made decisions to

put their sows elsewhere,” she recalls. “The business was built from the ground up and now both our roots and our branches are in Iowa. We’re close to the people and communities we serve, which allows us to do things and give back in a more meaningful way.” Natalie Johnson is the Hansen’s daughter and Foundation board member. She is proud of the annual holiday event and opportunity to assist more than 21,000 families to date. “Christmas means a lot to my family — and to all of us at Iowa Select Farms,” she says. “The idea that we can pass along the spirit of giving and provide a good meal to thousands of Iowa families is what the Foundation is all about.”

An Iowa Select Farms employee delivers a 5 pound pork loin during operation Christmas Meal at the Iowa State Fairgrounds in Des Moines.


The Last Word Editor’s Notes by Ann Clinton aclinton@iasoybeans.com

Much to Celebrate

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his is an easy time of year to start counting blessings. As your staff put together this issue of the Iowa Soybean Review, we realized there was much to celebrate. There are many soybean checkoff programs marking milestone years since establishment. Therefore, we’ve been calling this the “anniversary issue,” but it’s really an acknowledgment of where we are going by remembering how far we’ve come. I recently celebrated my 19th work anniversary at the Iowa Soybean Association. It’s not even a date I would have remembered if it wasn’t for LinkedIn contacts sending me congratulatory notes. However, it was a timely reminder. I’ve had the privilege of working in agriculture for nearly two decades.

There’s never been a time in my life that I haven’t been connected to the land. I was lucky enough to have been born into farming. This fall, my daughter Jennifer and I were riding in the combine with my Dad. We were watching the corn dump out of the auger into the grain wagon. “Why didn’t you do this, Mom?” Jennifer asked. “Why aren’t you a farmer?” She wants to be a farmer when she grows up. I have every reason to believe she will be. However, I felt I had to answer carefully. But I’ve been thinking about her question. There are so many days, especially in the fall, that I wish I could be out in the field. It’s my happy place. It’s where I feel at home.

But the truth is, my strength is in the story of agriculture. It always has been. I get to be apart of a beautiful narrative that I deeply care about. That’s not a bad way of spending the last 19 years. However, this is YOUR story. The programs and achievements outlined in this issue of the Review are because of the foresight and intelligence of farmers investing in the future. I’m grateful for the legacy that has been established in agriculture, and I feel blessed to be raising the next generation who will carry it on.

Twin daughters of Iowa Soybean Review editor Ann Clinton watch their grandparents harvest corn this fall in southwest Iowa.

DECEMBER 2017 | IASOYBEANS.COM | 31


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Iowa Soybean Review, December, 2017  

An employee of the Iowa Northern Railway prepares to throw a switch while moving grain near Nora Springs. The Soy Transportation Coalition w...

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An employee of the Iowa Northern Railway prepares to throw a switch while moving grain near Nora Springs. The Soy Transportation Coalition w...

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