Page 1

AGRIBUSINESS

SECTION

C Family tradition Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Agriculture briefs

Egg sales rebound Sales of eggs have rebounded after a sharp drop in the weeks following the August recall of 550 million eggs potentially contaminated with salmonella. The upswing is a relief to egg producers, but industry leaders said they thought sales would return to normal as the recall by two Iowa farms faded from memory. The industry also spent about $1 million on an ad campaign emphasizing its commitment to food safety.

Berry genome map Farmers have long struggled with getting ripe strawberries to market in good shape, but scientists say the recent mapping of the wild strawberry’s genome may help them produce berries that are cheaper and easier to grow and arrive in stores in peak condition. The woodland strawberry has become one of only a handful of food plants to have its genetic sequence charted, and scientists said the map could help them cut years off the time that it would take to produce similar results with traditional plant breeding techniques.

Broccoli investment A team of researchers and agricultural agents hopes to take a bite out of the West Coast’s $1 billion broccoli monopoly with new strains of the vegetable designed to withstand the East Coast’s heat and humidity. They’ve received a $3.2 million grant from the U.S. Department of Agriculture and $1.7 million in matching private contributions to create a broccoli corridor running from northern Florida to Maine.

Higher sugar prices A series of disasters in Australia’s sugarcane region and foul weather in Brazil, India and China have driven up world sugar prices, and many U.S. farmers are making enough to pay off loans and buy new equipment. But candy shop owners are feeling a pinch. Jaye Cuccia, owner of Evans Creole Candy Factory Inc. in New Orleans’ French Quarter, said she raised prices in late November for the first time in about eight years, because a 50-pound bag of sugar that used to cost her $15 to $17 now costs $30 to $35. — Wire Reports

Clockwise from above: An old family photograph of the Weinantz farm. Randy Weinantz, left, his father Bob Weinantz and brother Rick Weinantz stand in front of a barn on the family’s farm. Ears of popcorn are in a basket on the family’s farm. Rick Weinantz shows an article written about the family, as his brother Randy looks on Feb. 8 at the family’s farm on Road 950N. The Weinantzes have produced popcorn for 31 years. Their customers include Not Just Popcorn in Edinburgh, a business that sells its flavored popcorn locally and on the Internet, and Ramsey (Ind.) Popcorn Co., which sells the popcorn under the brand name “Cousin Willie’s.”

Farm begun in 1821 still thriving BY BRENDA SHOWALTER | BSHOWALTER@THEREPUBLIC.COM

P

RESIDENT James years. Monroe signed the land The award, presented by the Ingrant for the original 80 diana State Department of Agriculacres of land the ances- ture, has been given to more than tors of the Weinantz 80 Bartholomew County families. family purchased in 1821 in northIn their blood ern Bartholomew County. Randy, 54, and Rick, 63, said The deed to Benjamin Ensley, they never really considered any written on sheep skin, stays carefully stored in a safe-deposit box, the other profession. Farming was in their blood and something they writing still legible and a portion of enjoyed. a cloth seal intact. “It’s generally a good life. Bob Weinantz, 87, a seventh-generYou just have ation family memto deal with ber of Ensley, has Mother Naretired from farmture,” Randy ing, but his sons, MEMBERS: Robert “Bob” said. Rick and Randy “You’re Weinantz, 87, of Columbus; Weinantz, continue your own sons, Randy, 54, and Rick, 63, the tradition that boss,” added (who operate the family farm began nearly 200 Rick. today); and daughter, Connie years ago. The farm “We have 840 Jessee. most likely acres now. We’ve FARM START: Original property in been able to add northern Bartholomew County will continue into another a little,” said Bob was purchased in 1821. with a smile as CROPS: Popcorn, corn, soybeans generation. Randy’s son, he sat at an old, and wheat. Ben, works oak dining table on an organic in Randy’s house farm in Coloon a portion of the rado and might return some original property. day to Bartholomew County. Randy’s white farmhouse was Jessee’s son, Kevin Jessee, built in 1913 on what is now Road 950N near the Bartholomew-Shelby also has expressed interest in someday being part of family county line. Just outside is an old farming tradition. barn from the 1800s. For now, Rick and Randy Rick lives in a restored, twokeep busy growing popcorn, story log cabin not far away, concorn, soybeans and wheat. structed in 1826 and moved from Business has been good for the original property. The brothers’ sister, Connie Jes- many years, but especially in the last three to four. see, lives in Hope. Outside Randy’s house is a Booming business bright blue sign recognizing the Irrigation systems allow place as a Hoosier Homestead for good crops even during Farm owned by the same famdroughts, and technological ily for advances in seed and equipmore than ment have increased the quality of crops and yield. 100 Bob remembers getting about 18 bushels of wheat per acre, when today his sons might get closer to 80 bushels. Worldwide events, including a population

Weinantz family

See FARM on Page C8

WHAT’S INSIDE AGRIBUSINESS? IN DEMAND U.S. bison ranchers struggle to meet consumer needs. Page C9

INDEX z Calendar of events, C2 z Fields ripe for sales, C3 z Record consumer prices expected for yields, C3 z Successful Iowa program adapted for Hoosiers, C6 z State, local farmland prices higher than US average, C6

z Study: No-till farming reduces greenhouse gases, C6 z Working away from the fields, C7 z Conservation programs help protect land, C7 z New tractors help environment, C8 z Meat-nutrition labels, C8

JOEL PHILIP

PSEN | TH

E REPUBL

IC

EMBRACING ORGANIC Consumer demand fueling organic farming; smaller farms challenged by costs. Page C2


C2

T H E R E P U B L I C , C O L U M B U S , I N D ., W E D N E S D A Y , M A R C H 2, 2011

Embracing organic

AGRIBUSINESS

Consumer demand fueling organic farming; costs challenge smaller farms BY CHRISSY ALSPAUGH calspaugh@therepublic.com

W

HEN Lori Moses moved from Colorado to Columbus in 2002, she was shocked by the lack of available organic foods. Moses soon began sharing her garden’s naturally grown produce at the Columbus Farmer’s Market and eventually expanded into a store on Washington Street. Trying to keep up with demand, she recently moved Double Oak Farm into a new store at 1120 Washington St. “The demand is off the charts for sustainable and organic and local food,” she said. “I think it’s that swing of the pendulum — we went to a highly mechanized food system, and now we’re pulling back and going to foods that

Subscribe to a CSA Community-Supported Agriculture programs allow groups of individuals to support local farming operations by subscribing to weekly delivery or pick-up of a box of fruit or vegetables, and sometimes dairy products and meat. Some local organic and natural CSA providers: z Double Oak Farm — Provides up to 10 products per box over 18 weeks from June through October for $275 per season for a half-share or $530 for a full share. Members pick up their shares in the store, 1120 Washington St. Information: Lori Moses, 343-7997. z Ewenique Sheep, Produce and Grains — Provides an assortment of fruits, vegetables, herbs and more over 22 weeks from June through October for $295 for a half-share or $525 for a full share. Products are delivered to homes in Columbus and Seymour and the farmers market in Bloomington. Information: Jennie Hoene, 521-1751. Source: localharvest.org. don’t have all those additives.”

Changing trend Organic and sustainable farming have grown increasingly popular as consumers make chemical-free, nutrient-rich whole foods a larger part of their diet — and as farmers strive

We nowcarry hallwayfeeds!

The official feed supplier of the

1075 2nd St.Columbus 812.375.9604

to become better stewards of the environment. The term “organic” is patented by United States Department of Agriculture for foods that undergo an extensive, and expensive, certification process guaranteeing they have been grown and processed using no synthetic fertilizers or pesticides. Some pesticides derived from natural sources have been approved for use on products labeled organic. Sustainable farming aims to replenish rather than deplete the soil, sustain the economic viability of farm operations and enhance the quality of life for farmers and society as a whole. Carolyn Behrman, owner of Natural Choices in Columbus, said while scientists continue analyzing the potential dangers of traditional pesticides, herbicides and genetically engineered crops, “We should exercise caution and first do no harm while we figure this out. “It seems to me that every time we come out with a chemical, a generation later we find out there was something wrong with that,” she said. “I don’t want to experiment with my children or grandchildren, or my animals.”

ANDREW LAKER | THE REPUBLIC

Above: Jennie Hoene loads a feeding station with organic hay at her farm in southern Bartholomew County. Below: The Hoenes raise Icelandic sheep, peacocks and a variety of produce on their farm on South Road 500W near Waymansville. Behrman said the Midwest has been slow to keep pace with the rest of the nation in switching to organic farming because of the region’s history with growing governmentsubsidized crops including corn and soybeans — leaving merchants such as herself and Moses searching regionally and, especially in the winter, nationally for high-quality natural foods. Their stores carry products including organic and natural frozen foods, produce, meats, dairy, dry ingredients, supplements and more. While Behrman and Moses back certified organic foods, they also use their stores to support local farmers who produce high-quality natural foods whenever possible. Moses said an increasing number of local producers are farming “responsibly,” without chemical fertilizers, pesticides and more.

Hoosierganics With the expense of the USDA certification process placing the organic label out of reach for many small-scale producers, some are opting for labeling their foods with terms including all-natural, or the Indiana-patented certification Hoosierganics. “It’s a way around the bureaucracy,” said Jennie Hoene, of Ewenique Sheep, Produce and Grains in southern Bartholomew County. Hoene said Hoosierganics practices parallel organic guidelines while making natural farming more feasible and cost-effective for growers. Coming from generations of farmers, Hoene and her husband in 1994 began the process of converting their 102-acre farm to all-natural. “(Modern farming practices) are just so hard on the environment, and it’s so hard on us and it’s a misuse of the land,” she said. “As far as I’m concerned, (farming all-naturally) does take more money and it does take more time, but we’d all be healthier if everyone did it.” Moses said aside from the cost of organic certification, she’s also concerned about the increasing number of chemi-

JOEL PHILIPPSEN | THE REPUBLIC

What is organic? Organic is a certification used by United States Department of Agriculture for foods grown and processed using no synthetic fertilizers or pesticides. A bit more about what it means to be organic:

Crop standards z Land will have no

prohibited substances applied to it for at least three years before the harvest of an organic crop. z The use of genetic engineering, ionizing radiation and sewage sludge is prohibited. z Soil fertility and crop nutrients will be managed through tillage and cultivation practices, crop rotations and cover crops, supplemented with animal and crop-waste materials and allowed synthetic materials. z Crop pests, weeds and diseases will be controlled primarily through management practices including physical, cals USDA considers safe for use on the products. “It depends on who has the most money to lobby,” she said. “It’s watered down what organic means.” Consumers have little choice but to do their own research about the foods they consume, Moses said. “You just need to ask a lot

mechanical and biological controls. When these practices are insufficient, a biological, botanical or synthetic substance approved for use may be used.

Livestock standards z Animals for slaughter

must be raised under organic management from the last third of gestation, or no later than the second day of life for poultry. z Producers are required to feed livestock products that are 100 percent organic, but may also provide allowed vitamin and mineral supplements. z Producers may convert an entire, distinct dairy herd to organic production by providing 80 percent organically produced feed for nine months, followed by three months of 100 percent organically produced feed. z Organically raised animals may not be given hormones or antibiotics for any reason. Source: epa.gov.

of questions about who’s growing your food, where it’s coming from and how it’s grown,” she said. Consumers can expect to spend slightly more on organic products, but Moses said she thinks their contribution to a healthier diet and overall physical well-being makes it a price worth paying.

AGRICULTURE CALENDAR OF EVENTS March 4 — Southeastern Indiana Ag Conference, “The Future in Farming,” Greensburg 19 — Bartholomew and Johnson counties Bull Soundness Exam, Keegan Poe Farm, Franklin 31 — Prospective Plantings Report and Market Outlook Webinar, extension office April 2 — Bill Rogers Beef Show, Bartholomew County 4-H Fairgrounds 7 — Bartholomew County Farm Bureau Inc. Ag Day Expo, Bartholomew County 4-H Fairgrounds 9 — Bartholomew County 4-H Dairy Starter Calf Weigh and ID 21 — Preschool Ag Days,

Bartholomew County 4-H Fairgrounds May 5 — Kindergarten Ag Days, Bartholomew County 4-H Fairgrounds 7 — Bartholomew County 4-H Sheep and Goat Weigh and ID June 4 to Sept. 24 — Columbus Farmer’s Market, Saturdays 18 — Frank Burbrink Swine Show Classic, Bartholomew County 4-H Fairgrounds 28-29 — Indiana Farm Management Tour, Sullivan, Knox and Daviess counties July 8-16 — Bartholomew County 4-H Fair August TBD — Bartholomew County

Farm Bureau Inc. Annual Meeting 5-21 — Indiana State Fair 25 — Southeast Purdue Ag Field Day, Butlerville 30 to Sept. 1 — Farm Progress Show, Decatur, Ill. September 20-22 — Farm Science Review, Columbus, Ohio October 19-22 — National FFA Convention, Indianapolis November 5-18 — North American International Livestock Exposition Center, Louisville, Ky. December 2-4 — Indiana Beef Congress, Indianapolis 8-10 — Indiana Farm Bureau Inc. Convention, Indianapolis


AGRIBUSINESS

T H E R E P U B L I C , C O L U M B U S , I N D ., W E D N E S D A Y , M A R C H 2, 2011

Fields ripe for sales BY BRIAN BLAIR bblair@therepublic.com

J

IM and Carol Daily never really worried about frosty sales for a winter farmers market. Their biggest initial concern was the time to operate it. “I was on the fence,” Carol said. “After all, this was our family’s down time.” She’s on the fence no more. Carol and her spouse exceeded their 2010 sales goals three months into opening their year-round market on Jonathan Moore Pike. Talk about a hot winter for clan farming some 2,000 acres, including some with “high tunnels” that allow cold-weather growing. “Now, we’ve got a slew of things that will carry us yearround,” said manager Kim Hollenkamp, referring to produce, dairy, meats and other items. “And people are used to coming here.”

Popular markets There are at least 898 winter farmers markets running nationwide, a 17 percent increase from late 2008, according to U.S. Department of

Agriculture. A winter market is defined as one that operates between November and March. Winter markets often run less frequently than their summer counterparts; Plymouth Farmers Market, for example, runs weekly from June through October and monthly from December through March. Perhaps surprisingly, several northern states are among those with the largest numbers of winter markets, including Massachusetts, New York, Pennsylvania, Ohio, New Jersey, Connecticut and Michigan, USDA said. “We’ve been very surprised,” Jim said. The Dailys have seen previous success, mind you, at weekly spring and summer farmers markets here and in Carmel. “There’s such an emphasis (from customers) on freshness,” Carol said. These days, the year-round market features items such as beef, popular enough to have spawned a waiting list. Plus, there are offerings from other farms for elements such as dairy and maple syrup, which comes from Zionsville’s Trad-

Year-round farmers markets new here but already a hit

erspoint Creamery. “Sales here (in Columbus) have grown more than I thought they would,” said Craig Sanders, Traderpoint’s director of sales and distribution. He says Traderspoint launched the state’s first yearround market in 2003. “I think the more people are learning about food,” Sanders said, “the more they’re caring about what they’re putting into their bodies.” Hollenkamp agreed. “People are wanting to know where everything comes from,” Hollenkamp said.

Worthwhile venture Lori Moses’ family began selling their home-grown produce as a way to cover their girls’ school tuition. Now, their Double Oak Farm produces food for its own year-round farmers market on Washington Street. It opened in May. February was the key month to decide firmly on the future, and Moses recently said it’s officially a success. Offering 12 different kinds of meat, from organic beef to bison to even goat, helps.

ANDREW LAKER | THE REPUBLIC

Carol and Jim Daily, owners of Daily’s Farm Market, opened their year-round business on Jonathan Moore Pike last summer. “With the huge international population that we have here, that we have, there’s quite a demand for it,” Moses said. The toughest challenge for Double Oak is simple: Produce during these winter months.

They recently have been buying from an organic distributor in Indianapolis. She also has been working with local growers so they can begin winter growing with heated high tunnels and other

Bill Lentz, pictured at his farm, says the cost to produce crops is the highest he has seen in years partly due to increased prices in fuel, fertilizer and seeds.

Jody Isley

(Financial Services Officer)

Cody Gault

(Crop Insurance Specialist)

www.e-farmcredit.com

Increasing expenses

Record consumer prices expected for yields; farmers struggle to balance costs

Record prices Chris Hurt, an agricultural economist with Purdue University, said consumers’ previous high for beef came in 2008, when cost per pound was an average of $4.32 among all cuts of beef. In 2010 a record was reached, as the price rose to $4.39. And in 2011, the cost is expected to rise

The Associated Press also contributed to this story.

Mark Koehne

ANDREW LAKER | THE REPUBLIC

Like any small business owners, farmers have to turn a profit to make their efforts worthwhile. Bartholomew County Farm Bureau President Scott Bonnell, who farms about 300 acres in this county, said the world of farming is a mix of predictions, priorities and luck. Those factors have crashed down on American consumers, who agricultural experts predict will pay more in 2011 than at any time in history for beef and pork. “As the cost of corn rises, so goes everything else,” said Bonnell, who, like all farmers, has seen costs rise to produce crops. Bartholomew farmer Bill Lentz said the cost to produce crops is the highest he has seen in years, even though he gets great prices for crops in the end. High crop prices are not helping his bottom-line much, he said, because the cost also has increased substantially to produce them. Prices are up dramatically for fuel, fertilizer and seeds, which has forced Lentz to play the stock market, in a sense, to help his bottom-line revenue. For example, should he burn more expensive fuel to make an extra pass over his crops with expensive fertilizer, when he doesn’t know how much his crops will draw at market? “I probably was not making much more money now than I was when commodities were half of what they are now,” he said.

methods. “This (year-round plan),” Moses said, “definitely has been worthwhile.”

(Assistant Vice President)

1-800-231-2747

BY PAUL MINNIS pminnis@therepublic.com

C3

Going up The upswing in beef and pork prices is likely to continue until 2015, said Chris Hurt, agricultural economist at Purdue University. Beef prices per retail pound: z 2007 — $4.16. z 2008 — $4.32. significantly to $4.60. Pork costs are seeing similar increases. A record high of $2.94 a pound in 2008 reached a new high of $3.11 a pound in 2010. Hurt expects the 2011 price to reach $3.30. “My guess is it will be 2015 before we begin to see a moderation of prices at the retail level,” he said. Reasons for the price hikes are vast. The summer’s dry weather in southern Indiana destroyed pastures that feed cattle, Hurt said. It reduced the corn yield, which commonly is used to “finish” cattle before they are processed. Reduced crops mean higher prices. Ultimately, that hike passes to the consumer at the store. Hurt said the worldwide recession in 2008 and 2009 reduced demand for beef, which contributed to farmers reducing herd sizes to keep the price up. Another reason for herd reductions was the high price of feed, which comes back to the damaged crop yields of previous years. More of the overall corn crop is going toward the creation of ethanol. China is buying record amounts of soybeans and corn. The cost of fertilizer is up 45 percent from last year, and the cost of diesel fuel to run the farm equipment is up 40 percent. The list goes on. “It’s taking a long time to see the industry adjust,” Hurt said.

z 2009 — $4.26. z 2010 — $4.39. z 2011 — $4.60 expected.

Pork prices per retail pound: z 2007 — $2.87. z 2008 — $2.94. z 2009 — $2.92. z 2010 — $3.11. z 2011 — $3.30 expected. He expects prices to climb through 2015. He said the increase would be less if the area gets enough rain in the spring and summer.

Farmers’ dilemma Andy Dietrick, director of public information for Indiana Farm Bureau, said the different forces at play leave farmers in a constant quandary on how to maintain profit margins without overpricing their crop. “I have to decide if I should make another pass with pesticide or herbicide,” Dietrick said. “If I do, it might help my yield, but it costs money. If I don’t, it saves money on the front end but it might hurt my yield.” Dietrick said consumer costs get more complicated with products that don’t go straight from the farm to the dinner table. Corn simply is one ingredient in many products. Making a box of cereal, for example, involves extra processes that are more expensive than before and further impacts consumers. Farmers get about 12 cents of every dollar charged for a box of Corn Flakes, Dietrick said. Even so, Corinne Alexander, associate professor of agricultural economics at Purdue, said farmers should see record profits in 2011. She said record low grain supplies have come up against high demand. “Three years ago, in 2008, it was a good year,” Alexander said. “But 2011 will blow it out of the water.”

2905 State Street Columbus, IN 47201 812-376-6838


C4

The Republic, Columbus, Ind., Wednesday, March 2, 2011

BUILDING CONCEPTS of Indiana

BCI

TOM SMITH GLASS CO.

Authorized Dealer

Buildings, Roofs, Remodeling, Building Services

Commercial/Residential 550 Center St. 812-372-2887 Insulated Glass, Mirror, Window & Screen Repair. Free Estimates

720 S. Mapleton Columbus, IN 376-2614

379-1771 Providing Storage Solutions in Columbus for Over 30 Years Local Owner On Site

Call Julie! 372-6717 www.SelfStorageofColumbus.com 739 Repp Court • Columbus (off State St. East of Marr Rd.)

Temperature Controlled

Double Oak Farm Green Grocery

fresh local produce meats • dairy • produce • grocery 1120 Washington St., Columbus, IN 812-376-0775 www.2oakfarm.com

These Supp

Silgas Fertilgro We provide the supplies, services, training & expertise necessary to make your farming successful!

1864 W. 550 N. 372-4469

Azalia Elevator, Inc. Don’t forget-Annual Consignment Auction April 2 812-342-3264 • 812-523-6664 www.auctionsandrealestate.com mensendiek@tls.net

800 S. - Azalia 579-5475 www.azaliaelevator.com

Family Owned Since 1955 780 Repp Drive, Columbus

372-6177

Smith Implements Inc. 2040 Cottage Avenue Columbus, IN 812.379.4911

3871 W. Old State Rd. 46 Greensburg, IN 812-663-5992

Family Restaurant 1602 State St. 376-6386 Famous for our Broasted Chicken Mon.-Fri. 5am - 8pm • Sat. 6am - 2pm Closed Sunday

DRIFTWOOD BUILDERS, INC. 8750 N US 31, Columbus 812-526-2200 •

CASH PAID FOR JUNK CARS & TRUCKS ENGINES

• TRANSMISSIONS • BODY PARTS • OPEN MON-FRI 8AM – 5PM SAT 8AM – 3PM

WHEELS

USED PARTS

A Varco Pruden Buildings Dealer

www.boewe-newsom-auctions.com

LOW COMPETITIVE PRICE DELIVERY SERVICE AVAILABLE

(812) 378–1901

625 South National Road

372-5090

Get that pool you've always dreamed of.

3020 N. National Rd. Columbus 372-2575

1250 W. 2nd Street, Seymour 812-522-1922 www.deercountryequipment.com

5780 25th Street Columbus (812) 372-7983

Real Estate Professionals

Jeaney Hignite Daily 812-372-2200 Office 372-2627 Home jdaily@remax.net

You live on earth. Why not own a piece of it.

(800) 832-5025 www.rumpke.com

9-5:30 • 526-2651 At Taylorsville 1/4 mile west of U.S. 31 on road 650 N

Hope Auto Parts Welding and Machining. 905 S. Gladstone Columbus, IN 47201 Portable welding available 812-376-6870 • 812-376-0214 fax email: davidsinc@sbcglobal.net website: www.davidsinc.com

Keeping Neighborhoods Clean & Green Since 1932

TRICO For All Your Agri Needs! Elizabethtown, IN 47232

515 Main St., Hope, IN 812-546-6101

579-5262

Auntie Amiee’s Country Tea Room Hours Mon-Sat 11-2 Strawberry Fields Mercantile Hours Mon-Thurs 11-5 Fri-Sat 11-4 Tracy Fugate Proprietor 326 Jackson St., Hope, IN 546-0640

Bush’s Market

“From Vision

2545 Foxpoint Columbus, 812-376 www.nunn

Since Specializing in Amish Made Furniture

Phil Gorrell, Manager

7301 E 25th Street

1661 N. State St. North Vernon 812-346-2959

379-9077

www.TENNOAKS.com

(812) 526–5574 (800) 284–2676 6672 E. 650 S. Edinburgh, IN 46124

Supplying the area with healthy choices.

Larry E and Asso

812-379-9501

EUDY S & SER

DIXIE CHOPPER •

652 N. Glad Colum 372-3


The Republic, Columbus, Ind., Wednesday, March 2, 2011

e Local Businesses port Our Farmers

Businesses You Can Count On!

E. Nunn ociates

Schafstall, Inc. General Contractors

to Solution” 14055 S. 725 W., Columbus, IN 47201 812-342-6010 • Fax 812-342-1010 • Cell 812-371-1960

Trevor & Brett Glick Lynn H. Glick 15120 E. Baseline Rd. Columbus, IN (812) 343-8119 (812) 371-5532 (812) 579-6924 Round Up Ready & STS Soy Beans

te Dr., Suite A , Indiana 6-3061 cpas.com

925 S. Marr Road, Columbus 800-264-9920 • 372-9976

Custom sheet metal fabrications and welding for all your farming needs.

333 2nd Street Columbus 812-379-5600

1953

SALES RVICE

• STIHL • TORO

dstone Ave. mbus 3434

305 Washington St. Columbus, IN

372-7829

305 Washington St., Columbus, IN 812-372-0841

2255 West Jonathan Moore Pike Columbus • 812-372-3276 dailysmarket@yahoo.com

America’s Largest Pre-Owned Auto Dealer Call 812-348-1255 2445 N. National Rd. Columbus www.gojdb.com

C5


C6

Success

AGRIBUSINESS

T H E R E P U B L I C , C O L U M B U S , I N D ., W E D N E S D A Y , M A R C H 2, 2011

BY BRIAN SANDERS bsanders@therepublic.com

A

new program seeks to optimize Indiana farmers’ yields while reducing their impact on the environment. Indiana’s On-Farm Network aims to allow Indiana farmers to put their heads together to determine the best practices for the environment and for their wallets. The program is modeled after a similar and successful program started 11 years ago in Iowa by the state’s soybean association. Piloted last year in Jasper County, Indiana’s On-Farm Network now is available in several areas in the state including Bartholomew County. Farmers from Bartholomew, Decatur and Jennings counties enrolled in OFN and began meeting in February. Funded through a United

Iowa program adapted for Hoosier farmers

On-Farm Network WHAT: Recently introduced program where farmers volunteer to work with each other and with representatives from local soil and water conservation districts, the Purdue Extension or Natural Resources Conservation Services to develop and evaluate different farming methods to reduce effects on the environment while maintaining or increasing crop yields. FOR: A limited number of farmers in Bartholomew, Decatur and Jennings counties. INFORMATION: Indiana State Department of Agriculture, in.gov/isda/ ofn, or Bartholomew County Soil and Water Conservation District, 378-1280 ext. 3. States Department of Agriculture Conservation Innovation Grant, OFN is open to a limited number of farmers in 2011, according to Rosalind Leeck, a program manager with Indiana State Department of Agriculture, which oversees the program. The grant was $150,000 annually for 2011, 2012 and 2013. In the coming years, Leeck hopes to find additional fund-

“Award Winning”

DARLAGE CUSTOM MEATS T- BONES . RIBEYES FILETS . GROUND BEEF PORK .PORK BURGERS . BEEF FREEZER BUNDLES AVAILABLE GREAT FOR PARTIES AND GRILLING

522-1635

JUST OFF HIGHWAY 50, 5974 E. CR 410 N., SEYMOUR

ing for the program to allow participation by more farmers. Focus groups of 10 to 20 farmers discuss issues and develop strategies to improve their operations with guidance from representatives with area soil and water conservation districts, Purdue Extension offices or Natural Resources Conservation Services, explained Christine Goldstein, a resource specialist working with Bartholomew County SWCD. Farmers in the Iowa program often developed a common idea and agreed to test it. “It just gets people to look at their operation,” Leeck summarized. “The group-learning aspect of it is really quite powerful,” she said.

Runoff current focus Leeck expects the On-Farm Network will cover numerous farm-related issues in the years ahead, but focus now is limiting nitrogen runoff. Corn farmers fertilize their fields with nitrogen.

“You want it in the soil because the plants need it, but you don’t want it to leech into the water,” Goldstein explained. OFN seeks to help farmers find the right balance. Needs for nutrients such as nitrogen vary widely even within the same field, Leeck explained. In its inaugural year, OnFarm Network will take aerial photographs of participating farmers’ fields and perform endof-season cornstalk nitrate tests at no charge to the farmers. Both processes aim to help farmers determine which areas of their fields need more

nutrients and which need less. Farmers then can put their heads together and determine the best courses of action based on the data. Leeck pointed out that the changes farmers will make are graduated and should not jeopardize crops — a strategy known in farming circles as adaptive management. “That’s really the spirit of what the On-Farm network is,” she said. “It’s just a continuous improvement-type thing.” “It’s relatively low-risk,” Leeck said. “We aren’t wanting to put farmers in positions where

they would be doing things that would cause them economic hardships.” Iowa’s program succeeded in getting a large percentage of its farmers to alter their farming practices to the benefit of them and the environment. Enthusiasm at Jasper County’s end-of-season results meeting had farmers discussing strategies for hours. With no signs that conversation would wind down, officials in Jasper County adjourned the meeting after three and a half hours, Leeck said. “So far, the response has been wonderful,” she said.

State, local farmland prices higher than US average BY BORIS LADWIG bladwig@therepublic.com

schafstall, inc. 14055 S. 725 W. Columbus, IN 47201 812-342-6010 • kendal@schafstall.net

SUBMITTED PHOTO

An aerial image of a cornfield with the soil map overlay

Prices for Indiana farmland have remained relatively steady over the last two years, but they have increased about 60 percent since 2003, according to U.S. Department of Agriculture. On average, an acre of farmland in Indiana sold for about $4,100 in 2010, nearly twice the national average. In Bartholomew County, prices can exceed even twice the Indiana average, depending on location and soil quality, local real estate experts said. Scott Taskey, associate broker with Century 21 Breeden Realtors, said a farm near Otter Creek recently sold for $8,470 per acre, and he routinely sees prices per acre above $6,000. Ken Kaiser, president of Pieper Real Estate Services Inc., said farmland prices have increased fairly steadily since 1985, primarily because: z Low interest rates have meant a lower investment for farmers. z Farmers are investing profits from good earlier years. z Of a shortage of available land. z Of strong crop prices, especially for corn and soybeans. Crop prices have increased primarily due to growing demand in China, India and for ethanol and biodiesel.

Farmland prices Prices of farmland in Indiana and across the nation have remained relatively level in the last three years. Since 2003, however, prices in Indiana have increased nearly 60 percent, or about 8.5 percent annually. Prices since 2003, per acre, with comparison to the lower 48 states:

48 states

Indiana

Source: U.S. Department of Agriculture

The Republic graphic by Amber Pulley

In Bartholomew County, most farmland is being acquired by farmers who are trying to expand, Taskey and Kaiser said. Farmers with more land can take advantage of better economies of scale, Kaiser said. For example, they can save money by buying in greater bulk or locking in lower prices through long-term contracts. Farmers with more land also can survive better on lower

margins, Kaiser said.

Investors Nationwide, farmland prices are growing partially because investors are buying land, Kaiser said. Forty percent of farmland in the U.S. is non-owner occupied, he said. In many such cases, the investors lease the land to farmers, which provides investors with a steady income — in addition to any gain they reap when

they sell the land. Leasing also lowers monthly bills for farmers, because lease payments tend to be lower than mortgage payments. “With current prices on quality farmland up more than 20 percent over 2009 in some areas and investors eager to diversify into agricultural land, we’re starting to see a greater interest also by farmers in selling land and leasing it back,” said R.D. Schrader, president of Schrader Real Estate & Auction Co., based in Columbia City, in northeastern Indiana. “Many investors and hedge funds are seeking precisely this type of investment, and this enables the farmers to secure their gains and still continue their farming operations,” Schrader said in a press release. “We literally hear from investment professionals in New York and other financial centers every week as they look for quality agricultural land in which to invest. I’ve never seen anything like it.” Kaiser said urban sprawl has very little impact on farmland prices. However, Taskey said sometimes landowners can make a lot of money when developers want to purchase lots of land. That happened, for example, during the developments of McCullough’s Run and Tipton Lakes.

Study: No-till farming reduces greenhouse gas ASSOCIATED PRESS INDIANAPOLIS — Cropland that’s left unplowed between harvests releases significantly smaller amounts of a potent greenhouse gas than conventionally plowed fields, according to a new study that suggests no-till farming can combat global warming. Researchers said the findings also could help farmers make more efficient use of the costly nitrogen-based fertilizers used to promote plant growth. No-till farming reportedly slows the breakdown of fertilizers in the soil, they said. The three-year, federally funded Purdue University study looked at the amount of nitrous oxide released by no-till fields compared to plowed fields. Notill farmers don’t plow under their fields between crops and disrupt the soil surface as little as possible, although they do cut into it to plant seeds and inject fertilizers. The study found no-till fields

released 57 percent less nitrous oxide than chisel tilling, in which plants are plowed back into the soil after harvest, said Purdue agronomist Tony Vyn, who led the research. They also produced 40 percent less gas than fields tilled with moldboard plows, which turn the dirt over onto itself. Those numbers are averages, he said. Researchers looked at fields where corn and soybeans were alternated from year to year and others that were planted each year from corn. Emissions in fields where crops were rotated were lower than in those where they weren’t, he said. Vyn said he was stunned by the large amounts of nitrous oxide his team detected in the air above the plowed fields compared with those that had long been farmed using the erosionfighting no-till approach.

Environmental impact The results are particularly

disconcerting in light of the fact that nitrous oxide packs 310 times the heat-trapping power of carbon dioxide, the greenhouse gas largely blamed for climate change, he said. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has determined that nitrous oxide can remain in the atmosphere for 120 years, adding to its global warming impact. “Because it’s so long-lived, we need to do everything we can in terms of farming practices to reduce these releases,” Vyn said. “Once it’s released, it’s going to be in the air for a long time — longer than anyone’s lifetime.” His team’s research results appear in the January-February issue of Soil Science Society of America Journal. Robert Horton, a professor of agronomy at Iowa State University who was not involved in the study, called the results exciting and said they high-

light another potential benefit of no-till farming, which has been shown to reduce erosion and improve soil quality. “Now we can add an airquality advantage of no-till rotations to the list,” he said. Vyn’s team conducted its research in fields Purdue maintains near the West Lafayette campus in rich soils that once were tall grass prairie. The university has farmed those fields for three decades using either no-till or one of the common plowing practices. The differences seen in the nitrous oxide emissions are likely due to variations in microbial life and soil chemistry created by the different farming practices, Vyn said. Rodney Venterea, a soil scientist with the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s research arm, said the Purdue study supports his research, which also found that scaling back on field plowing reduces nitrous oxide emissions.


AGRIBUSINESS

T H E R E P U B L I C , C O L U M B U S , I N D ., W E D N E S D A Y , M A R C H 2, 2011

C7

Planted in more than 1 area

More farmers work away from fields to pay bills BY BRIAN BLAIR bblair@therepublic.com

A

LTHOUGH Marcus Speer grew up in farming, he finds it tough to stay planted in any one pursuit. “I call myself the part-time of part-times,” the Elizabethtown resident said with a laugh. He and his father and brother farm 1,100 acres, 200 of which he works himself. Speer also drives a Bartholomew Consolidated School Corp. bus, pastors the Jennings Church of Christ and serves on the Rockcreek Township Board. All paying jobs. And, all good ways, he figures, to reap beyond his first calling of farming. He’s among more than half of America’s farmers working a job off the farm to make ends meet, according to figures from the U.S. Department of Agriculture. “Actually, I always had a dream of driving a bus to supplement it,” said the 36year-old Speer. His childhood driver/farmer, Bob Howe, inspired him. But so did practicality, even at age 23. He knew he would

need good health insurance if he stayed with farming. So the view from the driver’s seat looked even better. “That was a really important reason I started driving,” Speer said. He sees his farming parents pay four times what he pays so they can keep a private policy. His late grandfather told him a few years ago that farming income issues were less significant for him “because it was cheaper to have kids” then, according to Speer. Mike Ferree, Purdue University-Bartholomew County extension educator, sees plenty of farmers doing duty elsewhere for more money or health care. “For many, there’s a little of both going on,” said Ferree. “If they don’t have a heavily valued crop, then they have another job for the benefits.” Several other farmers like Speer drive a school bus. Others, such as Scott Bonnell and Scott McNealy, are firefighters away from their crops. Elsewhere, other avenues exist to supplemental income. Throughout the country,

Need for supplement NUMBER OF FARMS: 2.2 million nationwide. IN THE BLACK OR RED: Fewer than half of those make a profit. The remaining ones depend on supplemental income. SALES: 60 percent of all farms report less than $10,000 in sales of agricultural products. farmers open up their land to tourists, set up roadside stands and travel the farmers market circuit, but they also moonlight as mechanics, pool cleaners and even authors. They make jam and paint landscapes, work at banks and own businesses in order for the farm to survive. The trend of farmers taking on other jobs to help pay the bills is hardly new, but the figure has grown from 55 percent in 2002 to 65 percent in 2007, according to the latest figures from the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Census of Agriculture. The frequency of working off the farm has also grown substantially over the last 75 years, according to a report

ANDREW LAKER | THE REPUBLIC

Farmer and bus driver Marcus Speer greets Rockcreek Elementary students as they board bus 261 at the end of the school day Feb. 17. by the USDA’s Economic Research Service, which conducts the farm survey every five years. In 1929, only one in 16 farmers in the nation reported

Conservation programs help farmers protect land BY ANDREA ZEEK azeek@therepublic.com Last year’s hot and dry summer was a challenge for some people, but an opportunity for one Columbus resident. Bob Harden, a retired farmer who since has downsized his land, has converted most of his former fields into wetlands and grasslands in conjunction with the federal Conservation Reserve Program, the country’s largest private-lands environmental improvement program. On about 40 acres, Harden has created four wetland ponds and a field of Big Bluestem prairie grass. But Harden’s largest pond, built with help from the local Soil and Water Conservation District and Department of Natural Resources, wasn’t holding water as it should. “Because it was so dry (last summer), it looked to be a good time to re-do that pond, to rehabilitate it,” he said. CRP was established about 25 years ago, and a more specialized offshoot of CRP, Conservation Reserve Enhancement Program, was created in 2004. Both programs are administered by U.S. Farm Service Agency and aim to help farmers use their old or low-producing fields to protect critical environments, prevent soil erosion, improve water quality and restore wildlife habitats. They are typically cost-sharing programs, but Harden took extra initiative when maintaining his wetlands. For his pond rehab, Harden said the local conservation office had funding available, but told him they wouldn’t have time to complete it that summer. So, seizing the moment, Harden decided to use his own money and labor.

“We didn’t know when it would be dry enough to do it again,” he said. “A neighbor here had a bulldozer sitting here on the property anyway.” “I didn’t wait for the funds. I was 80 in November, and I wanted see it full again in my lifetime.” In January, Soil and Water Conservation District presented Harden with the Gillman O’Neil Conservation Farmer of the Year award in recognition of his conservation efforts. Harden grew up on a farm and, with his wife Juanita, served as resident manager at Columbus Youth Camp. “I guess I was born and raised to like nature,” he said. “(CRP) is just something we enjoy doing.”

Conservation Conservation Reserve Enhancement Program was expanded by Lt. Gov. Becky Skillman in August 2010 to include 65 Indiana counties, including Bartholomew. CREP focuses on improving water quality by creating “buffer zones” (strips of land between agricultural land and targeted watersheds) that catch agricultural runoff, such as sediments, pesticides, herbicides and other nutrients, before they can enter the watersheds and pollute rivers and streams. Sara Christensen, program manager at Indiana Department of Agriculture, said CREP builds on CRP by inviting more state involvement. “CRP is only federal funds,” she said. “But with CREP, the state kicks in as well, (however), there’s not as much land that qualifies.” So far, Christensen said about 5,000 acres have been enrolled as part of CREP. The program

has resources for a maximum of 26,250 acres, she said. “We really focus on buffer practices,” she said. “We really want to get the stream buffers so we can hold back some of the sediment (that erodes).” Hardwood tree plantings, which are good for water quality and help with soil erosion and flooding issues, are popular among farmers, Christensen said. The potential flood protection CREP land would provide was a major reason Bartholomew County was added to the program, she said.

Benefits In addition to protecting the environment and community, Zuercher, who helps administer CREP locally, said these buffer lands also help crops. “It’s a benefit to farmers,” he said. “They can create areas (around their fields) that reduce their potential loss of soil and pesticide.” Not to mention the financial incentive. Farmers enrolled in CREP contracts, which are typically 14 or 15 years, receive annual rental payments from the program, Zuercher said. Payment value is determined by soil quality and potential crop yield. The county average is about $107 to $224 per acre, he said. There are also 40 and 50 percent incentive payments available, and the state is offering a signup bonus of $10 per acre for 10 years (or $100 per acre for the life of the contract), Zuercher said. “I definitely think it’s an excellent opportunity with a significant amount of costsharing,” he said. “They can protect those lands for not just themselves, but for everyone.”

JOE HARPRING | THE REPUBLIC

Bob Harden is still looking for new ways to be a better steward of the Bartholomew County land farmed for generations.

Bartholomew County has had three farmers apply for CREP and hopes to get more soon, Zuercher said. Those interested in signing up for the program should contact Soil and Water Conservation Office at 378-1280, ext. 10, or visit Farm Service Agency’s website at fsa.usda.gov.

working 200 days or more off the farm. By 1947, one in six farmers reported that much off-farm work, and by 1997, the ratio was one in three farmers. The 2007 survey reported that

almost 900,000 farmers worked more than 200 days a year in other jobs. The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Whiteside Drainage & Excavating

Ben Whiteside 812-343-4150

• Field tile installation & repair • RTK & GPS mapping • Septic installation & repair • Residential site work • Dozer/Backhoe


C8

AGRIBUSINESS

T H E R E P U B L I C , C O L U M B U S , I N D ., W E D N E S D A Y , M A R C H 2, 2011

New tractors help environment, hit pocketbook BY CHRIS SCHILLING cschilling@therepublic.com

N

EW tractors that emit less pollution into the air meet stringent new federal environmental standards but will come with a higher price tag to farmers. The tractors come with new technology that reduces the particulate matter released into the air by 90 percent and nitrogen oxides emissions by 50 percent. The standards, called Tier 4, are a step toward federal environmental regulations that will be implemented fully by 2015, which will reduce emissions to near-zero levels. With new technology to clean farm equipments’ emissions comes the higher price tag. Steve Ginder, a sales representative for Smith Implement Inc. in Greensburg, said consumers should expect a 5 percent increase in the price of equipment fitted with the new technology. Some machines can cost in the neighborhood of $250,000. The largest model went up in

JOHN ARMUTH | FOR THE REPUBLIC

Above: William Galloway, of Westport, in Decatur County, stands in front of his tractor. Right: In this photo taken Nov. 24, a Case IH Magnum tractor is shown on the assembly line at the CNH Tractor Plant in Mount Pleasant, Wis. The tractor contains a diesel engine that already is compliant with federal Tier 4A emission standards, which took effect this year. price about $14,000 due to the new technology, Ginder said. “Basically today this type of equipment is custom ordered. There are thousands of different configurations,” Ginder said. “These things

We can help with: Precision AG Services Farm Surveys Drainage Maps

Acreage Calculations Property Line marking Classified Forests

Locally Owned

1428 Lafayette Ave • Columbus • 812-7398 Check out our website www.ERGRAY.com or and join us at facebook

BRINGING LOCAL FARM FRESH PRODUCTS TO YOUR TABLE.

Enjoy

baked goods & healthy options from our kitchen. 2255 West Jonathan Moore Pike, Columbus. (812) 372-3276

cost what houses cost.” A Tier 4 tractor made by Deere & Co., based in Moline, Ill., alerts the owner if a thief tries to drive it out of a specified area. To meet the new federal standards, the tractor has a system that captures and cools exhaust gas and then redirects it to the engine, where it can burn at a lower temperature and produce fewer emissions. Some farmers say they’re in no hurry to upgrade tractors that might last another 25 years or more. Others are upgrading, but their old tractors are getting traded in and resold rather than retired.

ASSOCIATED PRESS

Ginder said Smith Implement has received some orders for the new machines. Consumers are skeptical at first about the new technology, but less resistant once salesmen explain the added components and how they operate. The price also is an issue, Ginder said, but he added that price always has factored in a consumer’s decision on what equipment to buy and whether to buy new or used. Westport-area farmer William Galloway said he has

talked with Smith Implement about the new machinery but has not purchased a “cleaner” tractor. He acknowledged that the new technologies and lower emissions are good moves. “I sort of look at this as when we went from leaded fuel to unleaded,” Galloway said. “It probably turned out for the best.” Galloway, 55, farms about 1,100 acres of corn and beans and said he’s “seen lots of things happen in the past 20

years.” He sounded accepting and perhaps a little resigned to the higher price. “I know the cost is going to go up,” Galloway said. “If that’s what it is, then that’s what it is. “If I’m going to buy a new one, you have to go with what’s there. A lot of guys might jump up and down and get mad, but that’s not going to help anything.” The Associated Press contributed to this report.

New meat-nutrition labels give added information to consumers BY BRENDA SHOWALTER bshowalter@therepublic.com Aimed at providing more information to consumers, U.S. Food Safety and Inspection Service will begin requiring nutrition labels on meat starting Jan. 1. Labels already can be found on many other food products purchased in stores, including canned and boxed goods, beverages and frozen foods. Information was limited, however, for such items as hamburger, steaks, chicken and turkey, although some producers already included nutrition information voluntarily. Labeling meat products will enhance consumers’ knowledge, said Amanda Virostko, health and human sciences program assistant with the local Purdue University Cooperative Extension Service. “The prevalence of nutrition labeling may influence consumers to choose a healthier cut of meat, especially when they see the remarkable disparities based on cut and type,” Virostko said. She added that the public’s increased awareness of the obesity epidemic has led to a steady increase in information available to consumers. “Now it is up to the individual to evaluate the information

Nutrition information WHAT: New regulations will require nutrition labels on most major cuts of meat, including beef, pork, chicken, turkey and lamb. WHEN: Jan 1. INFORMTION: Will include calories, calories from fat, total fat, saturated fat, cholesterol, sodium, protein and certain vitamins. and make the right choices,” Virostko said.

40 top cuts The new regulations will require nutrition labeling on 40 of the most popular cuts of singleingredient, raw meat and poultry products. According to U.S. Department of Agriculture, nutrition labeling is an integral part of efforts to educate consumers. USDA also updates its Dietary Guidelines for Americans every five years, with the latest update released in February. Information includes the recommended upper limits for grams of saturated fat and total calories per day. Nutrition labeling on meat products will help consumers more clearly see good and bad

MEYER’S CROP INSURANCE

Call us for all your seed and crop insurance needs.

All Risk • Crop Hail

15361 South 300 West, Columbus, IN 47201

Gary Meyer

Nancy Meyer

Authorized Sales Representative

Independent Insurance Agent

812-350-3897

812-342-9218

PIONEER

Nathan Newkirk Independent Insurance Agent

812-524-9118 BRAND PRODUCTS

PIONEER HI-BRED INTERNATIONAL, INC. PHI INSURANCE SERVICES ® Registered trademarks and service marks of Pioneer Hi-Bred International, Inc.

EOE

The Next Generation

R-Series

BRENDA SHOWALTER | THE REPUBLIC

Basic cuts of meat, including beef, chicken and turkey, will have nutrition labels beginning next year. choices, said Molly Marshall, registered dietitian with Columbus Regional Hospital’s Healthy Communities. “I definitely think it’s a good idea,” Marshall said. “I think people will be very surprised on some things.”

Useful for choices Consumers will be able to see, for example, the difference in total fat in hamburger that is 70 percent lean and hamburger that is 95 percent lean. Consumers also will see the nutritional advantages of picking lean beef or fresh fish, chicken or turkey over such items as ham, sausage, bacon or lunchmeat. Marshall said the labels

FARM

Continued from Page C1 boom in China and severe weather in other grain-producing countries, also have had positive influences on American farmers. The increase in exports means more customers and higher profits for grain farmers. “We’ve had some of our best years ever,” Randy said. One of the brothers’ biggest crops is popcorn, which they have produced for 31 years. Customers include Not Just Popcorn in Edinburgh, a business that sells its flavored popcorn locally and on the Internet, and Ramsey (Ind.) Popcorn Co., which sells the popcorn under the brand name “Cousin Willie’s.” The Weinantzes also have seen an increase in sales of soybeans, because the number of products that use soybeans has skyrocketed.

Then and now Hydrostatic Steering • Differential Lock • Wet Disc Brakes Hand and Foot Throttles • Headlights • Adjustable Spring Suspention Seat ROPS and Seatbelt • Safety Lights • Adjustable Drawbar • Overriding Clutch Synchronized Transmission • 12 Forward & 12 Reverse • 4 Year Limited Warranty

DAVE’S

FARM SERVICE

50 N. Eisenhower Drive • Edinburgh, IN • 812-526-5504 • 1-866-778-5504

www.davesfarmservice.com

also will be eye-opening on some products that consumers might think are good choices, but have drawbacks. She cited ground turkey, which sometimes includes ground skin in the product, increasing the fat content. Fresh chicken breasts also sometimes include added sodium as part of the manufacturers’ processing. Marshall said this nutrition information can be very important, particularly to people who need to watch their sodium intake. “You do have to watch and read labels,” Marshall said. “This will help consumers make informed decisions and know what they’re getting.”

Bob marvels at the advances in farming, from the equipment used to the quality of seeds and fertilizers he has seen in his nearly nine decades. “I remember walking behind a horse-drawn plow,” Bob remembered with a smile. Randy and Rick, meanwhile, enjoy many of the comforts of a car from the cab of their combines and tractors, including air conditioning, CD players and

heated seats. Costs also have changed, along with the value of a dollar and interest rates. Bob can remember paying $1,700 for a tractor in his day, while a high-end model today might cost $100,000 to $300,000. Bob has enjoyed farming, but he also is dealing with one of the fallouts from many hours a day he spent in the sun: skin cancer on his face. “Now, they use sunscreen,” Bob said. In down financial years, Bob learned to supplement the family income in other ways, including driving a school bus. He also served as a Bartholomew County commissioner from 1964 to 1968. And for 16 years, Bob went in a new professional direction. He operated Weinantz Food & Spirits restaurant on Jonathan Moore Pike from 1980 to 1996. The Weinantz family farm and homes still have the feel of days gone by with antique furniture and appliances, homegrown food, historic buildings and sleepy dogs in the yard that spring to life, barking when a strange car intrudes on their territory. And after 190 years, Bob is happy his sons continued the family business. “Grandpa would be proud of the boys,” Bob said.


In demand

AGRIBUSINESS

T H E R E P U B L I C , C O L U M B U S , I N D ., W E D N E S D A Y , M A R C H 2, 2011

C9

US bison ranchers struggle to meet consumer needs

BY ANDREA ZEEK azeek@therepublic.com

S

INCE Papa’s Grill opened in 2008, it has offered an 8-ounce Papa’s Bison Burger. The bison burger is just as popular as the other burgers on the menu, said Jody Hill, manager of the restaurant at 3780 W. Jonathan Moore Pike. “I love it, and the customers seem to love it too,” Hill said. “Some people will order out other burgers, but they’ll ask for the bison meat instead of the Angus (beef).” Bison meat has grown in popularity, and consumer demand for healthy meat has sent prices soaring. However, farmers are struggling to meet the demand. Part of the struggle is something farmers can’t control. Bison grow slower than other livestock, and a heifer can’t have her first calf until she’s 3, said Dave Carter, executive director of National Bison Association in Westminster, Colo. Beef cows can have calves at 2. Also, many producers are finding heifers more valuable for breeding than eating, which means fewer bison going to market — at least temporarily, he said. The tight supply comes after bison farmers spent much of the past decade aggressively courting consumers by touting the health benefits of the lowfat, low-cholesterol meat. Bison caught on, and even in the economic slump, prices haven’t discouraged consumers. Bison fans say the meat doesn’t taste gamey — it has

ASSOCIATED PRESS

Bison brave the winter elements on the Ed Eichten family farm near Center City, Minn. Despite growing consumer demand for bison meat, which has sent prices soaring, Eichten, right, said he doesn’t see the boom slowing. a rich, beefy flavor but is a little sweeter. Since it’s so lean, chefs say preparing it properly requires slower cooking over lower heat than beef. They say steaks shouldn’t be cooked past medium or medium rare. Those who prefer meat well done might want to try a bison pot roast. While retail prices vary, ground bison has been selling for about $7 a pound, compared with a little more than $5 a year ago, Carter said. Lori Moses, owner of Double Oak Farm Green Grocery, 1120 Washington St., said she gets about 75 pounds of bison meat in every three weeks and sells out each time. “We’ve only carried it for a short while (since November), but because we had such a tremendous customer request for it, we made sure to find it,”

I thought maybe it would taste gamey or different, but I don’t think it tastes a lot different than a regular Angus burger. I love it.

– Jody Hill

she said. Mark Wolfe, meat manager at Jay C Foods in Columbus, said he has seen a slight increase in demand for bison since the grocery store started selling it six years ago. “There has been a little more movement on (bison),” Wolfe said. “But not by any great leaps and bounds.” He said bison meat tends to sell more in the summer, probably due to the outdoorgrilling season. But, bison meat is still a niche product. About 92,000 head of bison were processed last year in North America, according to the National

Bison Association. That’s less than one day’s beef production in the U.S. alone. South Dakota, Montana, North Dakota, Nebraska and Colorado are the top bison states, but the animals are raised in all 50, Carter said, including a herd on the Big Island of Hawaii and one on Long Island in New York. U.S. Department of Agriculture counted about 4,500 ranches and farms with nearly 200,000 bison in the U.S. in its 2007 Census of Agriculture. The total North American herd, which includes animals

2011

Home Garden

Show

F

R

E

E

A

D

M

I

S

S

I

O

N

Bartholomew County Fairgrounds

Saturday, April 16 10am-4pm Sunday, April 17 12pm-4pm Sponsored by

Real Estate Professionals

Dana Carson Jeff & Joy Hilycord Vicky Gelfius Steve White Jean Donica Annette Donica Blythe Nancy Ann Brown Diane Hawes Barb Masters

Presented by:

in state and national parks, is estimated at 450,000, compared with fewer than 1,000 a

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

SUDAN FARMS INC. Working hard to better serve you! Ag Lime, Gypsum & GPS Services Susan Arnholt - General Manager Clint Arnholt - Operations Manager sudanfarms@bcremc.net

TricoSupplies, Farm Inc. Dependable Service - Quality Products Bulk Fertilizer • Bag Fertilizer • Liquid Fertilizer Anhydrous Ammonia • Chemicals Custom Application • Bulk Delivery • Soil Testing GPS Soil Testing & Application

19541 East Road 300 South Elizabethtown, Indiana 47232 (located 1/2 Mile Northeast of Grammer, Indiana)

812-579-5262 little more than a century ago.

Complete list of vendors and demonstrations information coming soon.

ANDREW LAKER | THE REPUBLIC

The 8-ounce Papa’s Bison Burger at Papa’s Grill continues to be a popular item on the restaurant’s menu. Slightly richer and sweeter than beef, bison meat is much lower in fat content and is packed with nutrients.

Exceptional Quality & Value In One Unbeatable Package.

The big deal about bison DAVE’S FARM SERVICE Mitsubishi, Perkins & Caterpillar Engines

Synchronized or Power Shuttle Transmission • Power Shift Transmission Optional Hydrostatic Power Steering • 4WD • 23-100 h.p. Available Remote Valves are Standard Backhoe and Loaders Available • 5 Year Limited Warranty

I

’VE never been one who likes to think too much about the meat I’m chewing. (It makes me kind of nauseous.) But with all I’ve heard recently about the wonders of bison meat, I had to find out for myself. To satisfy my curiosity, I ordered the 8-ounce. Papa’s Bison Burger at Papa’s Grill, 3780 W. Jonathan Moore Pike. It looked just like a normal beef patty, and the platter came with crispy fries and ketchup, lettuce, onion, cheese and tomato toppings. As I stretched my mouth wide to take a bite, I guess I was expecting something earth-shattering. Not so. If I hadn’t known I was eating bison, I don’t think I would’ve been able to tell the difference. But I did know, so I made some small observations: Bison tasted a little leaner and was slightly chewy in texture. It reminded me of steak prepared on a George Foreman Grill, which drains the fat while cooking. The lower fat content also made me feel better about eating it. Jody Hill, a Papa’s Grill manager who hadn’t tried

50 N. Eisenhower Drive • Edinburgh, IN • 812-526-5504 • 1-866-778-5504

www.davesfarmservice.com

Andrea Zeek bison until the restaurant opened, said he had a similar experience. “I thought maybe it would taste gamey or different, but I don’t think it tastes a lot different than a regular Angus burger,” he said. “I love it.” Lori Moses, owner of Double Oak Farm Green Grocery, which sells bison meat, said it is important to buy 100 percent-grass-fed bison in order to get all the health benefits to the leaner meat. “It’s good,” she said. “It’s got a richer flavor to it.” Mark Wolfe, meat manager at Jay C Foods, said he also enjoys the taste of bison. “It’s like a hamburger, but it’s real lean, so it can tend to be dry.” Andrea Zeek is a reporter for The Republic. She can be reached at 379-5703 or azeek@ therepublic.com.

At your electric co-op, we don’t simply send electricity to your home. We look out for you and your entire community. And we do so for a very simple reason—it’s our community too. That’s why we are always working to keep the lights on and our costs down. Because we pay the same bills you pay. Your hometown is our hometown. And together, we can’t go wrong.

Looking out for you.

www.kokomograin.com


C10

AGRIBUSINESS

T H E R E P U B L I C , C O L U M B U S , I N D ., W E D N E S D A Y , M A R C H 2, 2011

With this bill passed, farms, orchards and many other tourist spots can have visitors enjoy what they have to offer without worry.

” Bill limiting

– Randy Frye

liability could help ag industry BY KIRK JOHANNESEN johannesen@therepublic.com A bill that addresses agritourism safety and liability reform has passed the Indiana House of Representatives and awaits action in the Senate. House Bill 1133, written by State Rep. Randy Frye, RGreensburg, passed 94 to 0 Feb. 10. Farmers markets, wineries, Christmas tree farms, pumpkin patches, dairy farms and orchards are examples of Indiana’s agritourism destinations. The bill lends protection to RANDY FRYE agritourism locations and workers, and states that an agritourism provider is not liable for the injury or death of participants if the cause is part of the risk associated with the agritourism activity. Agritourism providers would be responsible for posting warning signs and including warning notices in contracts signed by participants informing them of the risks of the activity. “With this bill passed, farms, orchards and many other tourist spots can have visitors enjoy what they have to offer without worry,” said Frye, who serves on the House Agriculture and Rural Development Committee. Those involved in agritourism would still be liable if their equipment or machinery was faulty and caused an injury, Frye noted. Agritourism is growing in Indiana, particularly in the southeastern portion of the state, but the main roadblock for agriculture producers is the high cost of liability insurance. That forces some to abandon agritourism ventures that could supplement their incomes, Frye said. “This helps keep liability insurance down. …We hope it will be substantial enough to keep folks in business,” Frye said. Liability is just one of the challenges a producer faces when getting involved with agritourism, said Phil Lehmkuhler, state director for United States Department of Agriculture rural development. Development of a business plan, zoning, fit with existing farm operations, marketing and pricing are other factors one has to consider. “You’re putting together a whole new business,” Lehmkuhler said. Some other notable agri-

culture bills being considered during this session of Indiana General Assembly are: z HB 1187 — Satellite manure storage structures. After June 30, 2011, a person may not start construction or expansion of certain satellite manure storage structures that increase manure containment capacity without obtaining the prior approval of Indiana Department of Environmental Management. Frye said manure storage structures, such as a lagoon, on a farmer’s land are regulated. But if the farmer moved the manure to a satellite storage structure on land he didn’t own, then the manure wasn’t regulated. In some cases, manure from Ohio was being shipped to Indiana farms. Regulating satellite storage structures is needed, Frye said, to prevent possible pollution problems, such as a flood causing an overflow of manure into a waterway. The bill passed the House and moved to the Senate for debate. z HB 1091 and SB 419 — Sales tax exemption for farm drainage systems. A component of a farm drainage system is exempt from sales tax if a farmer acquires the component. Equipment used to install, repair, or maintain a farm drainage system is exempt from sales tax if the equipment is acquired by a farmer. Frye said farmers currently have to pay sales taxes on field tiles, the installation of which is the primary way to increase overall yield. However, other states didn’t have the sales tax requirement on field tiles, and Indiana was losing sales because of that. “I think it’s a great bill,” Frye said. State Sen. Brent Steele, RBedford, who represents part of Jackson County, is co-author of the Senate version of the bill. The Senate version passed and moved to the House for consideration. z Senate Joint Resolution 9 — Constitutional right to hunt and fish. Provides that the people have a right to hunt, fish, harvest game or engage in the agricultural or commercial production of meat, fish or poultry, which is a valued part of Indiana’s heritage and shall be forever preserved for the public good, subject to laws prescribed by the general assembly. Steele, who authored the resolution, said this would protect hunters, farmers and fishermen from activist groups who want to shut down their activities. The resolution passed the Senate 45-4 and moved to the House for consideration.

JOE HARPRING | THE REPUBLIC

Above: Judy Newkirk pots fuchsia that will be for sale this spring at Elsbury’s Greenhouses Feb. 4. Below: Flats of flowers that will be for sale this spring at Elsbury’s Greenhouses.

Growing attractions Agritourism increasing in Ind. BY KIRK JOHANNESEN johannesen@therepublic.com

E

LSBURY’s Greenhouses is a place known for the flowers and plants it sells, but in the past year added offerings have made it more of a tourist attraction. “I’ve had a lot of customers call it a place of destination,” said Kim McKinley, who owns the business with her husband, Brian McKinley. Customers can take a break and dine onsite at Millie’s Café, watch floral demonstrations or attend “green thumb” seminars conducted by Gordon Elsbury, the previous owner. McKinley has hosted office parties in the greenhouse and would like to make the grounds suitable to host weddings regularly. The month of May already is booked with garden clubs, McKinley said. “We’ve seen a real boost to our business because of the groups that come through,” McKinley said. Elsbury’s is an example of the growing agritourism business in Indiana.

Growing in Indiana According to United States Department of Agriculture’s Census of Agriculture for 2002 and 2007, the number of farms participating in agritourism and recreational services — such as farm and wine tours, hay rides, fishing and hunting — increased from 172 to 267, and agritourism income increased from $838,000 to $2,688,000. “One of the nice things in rural communities is you have a lot of ag producers, and a lot

of the things they do are value added, and can be a revenue source depending on the size of the operation,” said Phil Lehmkuhler, state director for USDA rural development. Agritourism appeals to some agriculture producers, because it diversifies their operations and helps stabilize income and increases profits, he added. Farmers markets and wineries are on the rise in Indiana, Lehmkuhler said. “The nice thing about agritourism is they are places people can come and see and do things and buy products,” he added. Sales in Elsbury’s greenhouse quadrupled from June to July 2010, McKinley said, because of the addition of Millie’s Café. “Customers enjoy coming and having a meal and shopping,” she said. The Wine Grape Council in Indiana estimates it has 2 million visitors per year to Hoosier wineries. Agritourism receives plenty of promotion in the state. Indiana State Department of Agriculture produces guides featuring farm tours, markets, wineries, orchards and farms where people can pick produce. Indiana Office of Tourism partners with ISDA, Indiana Arts Commission and Office of Community and Rural Affairs to create Indiana Artisan. This promotes select works of art and food products such as wine, salsas and maple syrup. Agricultural sites are featured on visitindiana.com, and Indiana Office of Tourism and Ball State are working together to create videos of agritourism sites. “There’s a growing interest in understanding where food comes from, and the best way to experience Indiana’s agricultural heritage is to visit an orchard, farm or winery,” said Brian Blackford, communications and outreach director for Indiana Office of Tourism Development. “Fortunately, there is no shortage of family friendly and affordable agritourism destinations in Indiana.”

Local attractions

JACOBI SALES INC. 415 Stevens Way, Seymour, IN 47274, 812-523-5050 550 Earlywood Dr., Franklin, IN 46131, 317-738-4440

Some of the best sites and products Columbus Area Visitors Center promotes are related to agritourism, said Cindy Frey, the center’s associate director. Simmons Winery and Elsbury’s Greenhouses near Hope, the Weinantz farm on Road 950N and Not Just Popcorn in Edinburgh are places where groups and individuals can visit. “I think for a group market, folks traveling on motor coaches, it’s a good niche for them,” Frey said. How much money agritourism generates in Bartholomew County is unknown, Frey said, because tourism income isn’t broken down by segments.

JOE HARPRING | THE REPUBLIC

Big business Agritourism and recreational services — such as farm and wine tours, hay rides, fishing and hunting — have become a big and growing business for farmers in Indiana and nationwide. z The number of Hoosier farms participating in agritourism increased from 172 to 267 from 2002 to 2007, according to the 2007 Indiana Census of Agriculture. z Agritourism income in Indiana increased from $838,000 to $2,688,000 from 2002 to 2007, according to the ’07 state agriculture census. z From 2002 to 2007, per-farm income generated from

Randy Weinantz said his farm hosts FFY groups in October, when the national FFY convention is in Indianapolis. They learn how the farm grows and harvests popcorn. Afterward, they go to Not Just Popcorn — which buys popcorn from the Weinantz farm — to see how the different flavors of popcorn are made. “It’s a learning process for kids. An educational tour,” Weinantz said. The farm has given tours to a few families and school groups, too. Simmons Winery grows about 50 percent of its grapes, so people can learn about the process of winemaking from start to finish, said David Simmons, who owns the business with his wife, Brenda Simmons. Tours show visitors the variety of grapes, inform them how grapes are grown in Indiana, detail the challenges of growing grapes and show how the wines are made. Afterward, people have the opportunity to sample and purchase the products. Simmons’ banquet hall, which hosts weddings and parties, is an added source of income.

agritourism increased 236 percent, to an average of $24,276, according to the 2007 USDA Census of Agriculture. The increase was despite 17 percent fewer farms nationwide participating in agritourism. z Agritourism and recreational services were among the activities that produced the highest average income for farmers, according to the ’07 USDA agriculture census. z The number of farmers markets operating in the U.S. has increased from 1,755 in 1994 to 6,132 in 2010, according to National Directory of Farmers Markets, published by USDA. The number rose 16 percent from 2009 to 2010.

Individuals, FFY groups, garden clubs, other grape growers and wineries, and bus tours have visited the winery, which is a destination point mostly in the summertime, David Simmons said. Simmons Winery also is part of Indy Wine Trail, along with six other wineries in the state. They work together to host four themed events each year. People can buy a ticket that allows them to tour one winery after another and sample and purchase their products. Hope Area Welcome Center is trying to create an event similar in format to a progressive dinner that features several types of agritourism businesses that people could tour one at a time. It might include a dairy or beef farm and an orchard. The Welcome Center also is considering Simmons Winery and Elsbury’s Greenhouse. “I think it’s going to be an important element for us,” said Larry Simpson, president of Hope Area Chamber of Commerce. The goal is to have the round-robin event sometime this year, he added.


Agribusiness  

Agribusiness special section for Columbus, Ind. and Bartholomew County by The Republic newspaper

Advertisement
Read more
Read more
Similar to
Popular now
Just for you