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bUSINESS AGRI

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CORN SEED SHORTAGE? Anxieties over a predicted shortfall mostly unfounded here. PAGE C7

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

the appeal of

ALPACAS Couple trade dream home for dream of running an animal farm

W

HEN Juvonda and Ed Jones first considered raising alpacas, they wanted to do their research before buying the first

animal. “We visited probably 25 alpaca farms,” said Ed, who gives the same advice to others leaning toward the unconventional farm animal. “You need to do your research and find a farm to mentor you.” The Joneses visited large and small alpaca farms, saw a range of farming styles and locations before deciding how to approach their venture. They have been raising alpacas for almost two years and have 16 animals, but it’s still a parttime business that they hope can become more. Ed, 52, works full time for North Vernon Beverage and Juvonda, 55, works 20 hours a week in the office at Redeemer Lutheran Church in Seymour. Their 26-acre farm sets in the far western portion of Jennings County, not far from the Jackson County town of Reddington. The Joneses say they gave up their dream home to buy the farm and build a barn so they could raise the alpacas in a setting with a large, fenced-in pasture, pond and guard dogs to protect their investment. “We fell in love with the alpacas,” Juvonda said. “This is what we want to do.” The Joneses liked the idea of having a small farm together in their retirement and raising the alpacas that are lovable, easy-to-care-for animals. They found the alpacas to be docile and curious. Ed and Juvonda can step into their pens and

the alpacas will gather around, nudging them or softly humming, the only noises they make. Daily work includes about an hour in the morning and hour at night feeding and watering, plus general cleanup and making sure the animals have clean bedding and surroundings. They are sheared once a year and need occasional medical care, shots and nails trimmed. When babies, called crias, are born, the mothers might need assistance. The crias also might need to be bottle fed for a time. Tom Flanagan, president of the Indiana Alpaca Association, said the recession brought down the price of buying and selling alpacas, but the industry is still growing. Indiana has about 125 registered alpaca farms with about six in the Bartholomew, Jackson, Jennings and Brown counties. Nationwide, about 225,000 alpacas are registered, and Ohio has the largest number of farms with 1,700, Flanagan said. Flanagan, who lives in Fortville and raises alpacas, agrees with the Joneses that doing research upfront is essential before starting an alpaca farm. “Visit as many farms as you can and be absolutely clear about your business plan,” Flanagan said. Alpacas have a growing appeal for many, Flanagan said, especially now with the sustainability movement since alpacas are easy on the environment with soft, padded feet and manure that can be used for fertilizer. Their fiber also can be used for many textile products. The Joneses see several options for making

See ALPACAS on Page C10

By Brenda Showalter, bshowalter@therepublic.com z The Republic Photos by Andrew Laker

Top: Ed and Juvonda Jones sold their dream house to start Hoosier Heartland Alpacas near Reddington. The couple have been raising alpacas for almost two years and have 16 animals. Above: Bo the cat rubs noses with one of the alpacas; Phil the alpaca snakes his head into the upper portion of a feed bin to get at more hay; Juvonda, 55, visits with one of her curious animals. She also is a spinner and weaver and can turn alpaca fiber into yarn.

INSIDE: FARMERS DON’T FLINCH OVER PROJECTED DECLINES, PAGE C6 >> CALENDAR OF EVENTS, PAGE C7 >> MADE IN USA?, PAGE C9 DID YOU KNOW?

NEW LEASE ON LIFE

RESTRICTIONS

FEMALE FARMERS

FARM TO FORK

Program helps people with disabilities work in agriculture industry

Proposal aims to improve safety but would restrict young workers

More women own and operate farms and are seeking agricultural careers

Businesses say national movement toward local ingredients lasting trend

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Landowners soon will receive a survey that will ask if they are farming, in order to determine which people should receive the 2012 Census of Agriculture later this year. The National Agriculture Classification Survey asks for basic farm information, and is required by law as part of the U.S. Census of Agriculture. People should respond to the survey even if they are not farming. The Census of Agriculture is conducted every five years to get a complete count of U.S. farms and ranches, and the people who operate them. Information: agcensus.usda.gov.


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BUSINESS

The Republic, Columbus, Ind., Wednesday, March 7, 2012

‘I had to do something’

AgrAbility gives Jackson County woman with lupus a new lease on life BY BRIAN BLAIR bblair@therepublic.com

KIRK JOHANNESEN | THE REPUBLIC

Debbie Curry, of Norman, plants dracaena spikes and calitunias in preparation for opening her greenhouse. Curry had to quit working at an automotive plant because of disabling physical problems. She started her greenhouse four years ago with assistance from a program that helps people with disabilities work in the agriculture industry.

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NORMAN — Debbie Curry thought her life was over four years ago. But then, a new existence blossomed. For that, she owes a big debt to a program called Breaking New Ground/AgrAbility. It helps people with a broad range of challenges, from physical conditions to mental and emotional illness, live and work in agricultural jobs. The Jackson County resident was forced to quit her factory job at Seymour’s Aisin USA after being diagnosed with lupus in November 2007. The autoimmune disorder has damaged her joints and limited her mobility. “I had to do something,” the 50-year-old Curry said. “I had to do something to generate some income.” The West Lafayette-based AgrAbility has broadened her horizons. A $30,000 grant from the program helped her launch The Flower Pot greenhouse and a new sense of purpose and independence. The small, backyard business, which constitutes a part-time job, provides needed income for her family — and produce and flowers for area residents and retailers. “If it hadn’t been for this greenhouse, I would have driven myself crazy,” Curry said, referring to an intense battle with depression over her debilitating illness. AgrAbility, launched nationally 20 years ago through the U.S. Department of Agriculture, boasts a budget of $4.2 million annually. More than 11,000 people have received assistance since 1990, according to program re-

cords. AgrAbility leaders expect numbers to increase, especially in the next few years as the farming population ages — and as injured soldiers returning from war also return to farms. “The tricky thing is we’re often marketing this to people who really don’t want to think about needing it,” said Kylie Hendress, AgrAbility’s engagement coordinator. Curry, similar to many of the program’s clients, knew nothing of its work until she needed it. Officials blended that help with assistance from other programs such as Indiana Vocational Rehabilitation. A mix of help covered everything from the cost of a master gardener class to the compilation of a business plan to the expense of an all-terrain vehicle to haul her dirt. “I think more people today are willing to accept the help,” said Steve Swain, rural rehabilitation specialist with Breaking New Ground/AgrAbility. “Years ago, if someone had a disability, you really didn’t see them much.” The program has been visible at functions such as the Indiana State Fair and the Farm Progress Show, displaying modified farm equipment such as tractors with lifts for those in wheelchairs. Curry has found success not only in boosting her selfesteem, but in boosting her business as well. Sales have doubled every year, even though many people living near her still are unsure what she’s doing. “They just know,” she said, “that I’m the lady with the huge plastic bubble in my backyard.”

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BUSINESS

The Republic, Columbus, Ind., Wednesday, March 7, 2012

FARMING RULES

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Proposal sets limits for youth workers

BY PAUL MINNIS pminnis@therepublic.com

Columbus East High School freshmen Collin Crase, Chase Ballard and Layton Daily love farming. Fresh air. Dirt. Hard work. A grown-up sense of accomplishment. But a law that allows them to work those jobs at just 15 years of age would be severely restricted if legislators move forward on a bill that sets new rules for youth in farming. The proposal, intended to improve safety, would ban non-family farmhands younger than 16 from using most powerdriven equipment, from working at elevations over 6 feet and from helping produce tobacco, among other things. Children are exempt if they work on their parents’ family farms, or on farms where the parents partly own or operate them. Bartholomew County farmers and agricultural officials generally agree that the plan, will hurt not only young workers who need the experience, but also the farms themselves. The plan is the first update to the U.S. Fair Labor Standards Act since 1970, Greg Daily, owner of Daily Feed and Grain near Petersville, still would be free to use his son, Layton, in any farming job he thinks is appropriate. But he often employs Collin and Chase for jobs like bailing straw and hay. Those are not his children, so the legislation would affect them directly. Greg Daily said the legislation implies that farmers have poor judgment when it comes to putting youth to work. He said nothing could be further from the truth. “We’ve never had an accident, as far back as I can remember,” said Daily, 53, a fourth generation business owner.

PAUL MINNIS | THE REPUBLIC

Legislation being pushed at the national level would restrict young farmhands like these from working some jobs on farms. Pictured from left are 15-year-olds Collin Crase, Chase Ballard and Layton Daily, who work often at Daily Feed and Grain. Doug Whipker, co-owner of Whipker’s Market and Greenhouse, said he generally does not hire people younger than 16. But he sympathizes with those who do. “It’s already harder than it used to be to find people for

the field,” he said. “Kids play sports 365 days a year these days. Schools are going to a balanced calendar with the year starting the first week of August. “It bites into the melon season.”

Brett Glick, part owner of Brothers Beef in Columbus, remembers driving a tractor on the family farm at 13 years old. He said the experience and maturity he gained would not have happened if the legisla-

tion being considered was in effect. Roger Tormoehlen, who heads the Purdue University department of youth development and agricultural education, said he appreciates that legislators are trying to make

farms safer. The fatality rate for farm workers ages 15 to 17 is four times higher than in non-farm industries, according to the National Institute for Occupa-

See RULES on Page C10

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The Republic, Columbus, Ind., Wednesday, March 7, 2012

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The Republic, Columbus, Ind., Wednesday, March 7, 2012

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BUSINESS

The Republic, Columbus, Ind., Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Farmers face mixed prices BY KIRK JOHANNESEN johannesen@therepublic.com Wayne Downey and Garry Arnholt both raise cattle in Bartholomew County, but they face far different financial situations this year. The United States Department of Agriculture is projecting record prices for beef, which is good news for Downey, who has a beef cattle farm in Hope. “We’re expecting a decent year,” he said. But the USDA is also projecting a 7.5 percent drop in milk prices in the dairy industry, which has Arnholt bracing for a tough year on his Columbus dairy farm. “We’re going to try and weather it out one year and see what happens,” Arnholt said. “We’ve had a couple of good years to fall back on.” More than one bad year, though, will force Arnholt to think hard about whether he can keep his dairy farm operating. While the dairy industry faces a tough year, farmers who raise hogs, cattle, poultry or grains are expected to benefit from strong, if not record, prices, said Chris Hurt, agricultural economist at Purdue University. Beef cattle margins will be particularly good, Hurt said. There are fewer cattle available so the reduced supply is

See PRICES on Page C10

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JOE HARPRING | THE REPUBLIC

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Farm incomes are projected to drop this year, but Columbus farmer Mark Fischer said he’d be more concerned if forecasters could accurately project a drought. “I don’t think that farmers on the whole worry about what people say of incomes being up or down,” Fischer said. “Everything can change … rain or if it’s dry. It’s just so hard to tell. … A 10 percent decrease I don’t think is going to bother anybody.” National farm incomes reached a record $101 billion in the U.S. in 2011, besting the previous record of $87 billion, said Chris Hurt, professor of agricultural economics at Purdue University. Farm incomes rose 28 percent from 2010 to 2011, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, while crop sales rose 16 percent and livestock sales 17 percent. Incomes are expected to dip 8 to 10 percent this year. Still, “2012 would be a record if not for 2011,” Hurt said. The past five years have been a good period of profitability for farmers, Hurt said. One reason is that the demand for ethanol products has driven up the price of corn. Chinese demand for corn, soybeans, beef, eggs and milk also fueled price increases. From 2005 to 2010, demand outpaced supply of these products, which meant price increases, Hurt said. For example, $2 per bushel for corn was the norm through 2005. Last year it was $6.20 per bushel. Fischer, who farms about 1,200 acres, has enjoyed higher prices for the corn and soybeans he produces. The proximity of ethanol and soybean processing plants helps in selling his crops. The byproduct of the growing demand for products such as beef, corn and soybeans has been higher farmland values. That enhanced the overall wealth of farmers, Hurt said. But supply is catching up with demand, so prices are expected to level off and decrease through 2014. Price dips plus high costs for feed, fertilizer and fuel are why farm income projections are down this year, Hurt said. Hartsville farmer Bill Gelfius, who produces corn, soybeans and tomatoes, said farmers are also keeping tabs on Greece’s debt, European monetary issues and the value of the U.S. dollar, because the value is related to U.S. commodity prices. “The macroeconomic outlook is not as bright,” Gelfius said. One concern about the agriculture industry is the possibility of a bust following the boom. A boom in the 1970s saw a lot of farmers rack up debt as they bought more land and machinery, Hurt said. But when land values dropped 57 percent in the 1980s, the industry suffered a major bust. “We’re trying to caution people against the idea that land values will always go up,” Hurt said. Indiana farmland prices averaged about $4,000 per acre from 2008 through 2010, jumping from about $2,500 in 2003, according to the USDA. National averages trailed the state, rising from about $1,200 per acre in 2003 to about $2,000 from 2008 to 2010. Gelfius said a lot of farmers are trying to expand their operations, but a change in tax laws reduced the incentive to buy new machinery. Fischer said he’s taken a cautious approach. He bought a 100acre farm three years ago, but otherwise he hasn’t taken on much debt and is using the same equipment. “It would be real easy to buy a new tractor and combine. Different farmers take different risks. I guess I just try to take care of the stuff I’ve got,” he said. Fischer said he doesn’t have a strategy for going into a year when incomes are forecasted to decline. He just makes sure to

See DECLINES on Page C10


agri

BUSINESS

The Republic, Columbus, Ind., Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Fears of corn seed shortage mostly unfounded here

CALENDAR OF EVENTS MARCH 30 — Prospective Plantings Report and market outlook webinar, extension office, noon 31 — Bill Rogers Beef Show, Bartholomew County 4-H Fairgrounds

BY BRIAN SANDERS bsanders@therepublic.com

APRIL 4 — Bartholomew and Johnson counties bull soundness exam, Harker Farms, Hope 5 — Bartholomew County Farm Bureau Inc. Ag Day Expo, 4-H Fairgrounds 14 — Bartholomew County 4-H dairy starter calf weigh-in and identification

MAY 3 — Preschool Ag Day, 4-H Fairgrounds 5 — Bartholomew County 4-H sheep and goat weigh-in and identification 10 — Kindergarten Ag Day, 4-H Fairgrounds

JULY 6-14 — Bartholomew County 4-H Fair

AUGUST TBA — Bartholomew County Farm Bureau Inc. annual meeting 3-19 — Indiana State Fair 23 — Southeast Purdue Ag Field Day, Butlerville 28-30 — Farm Progress Show, Boone, Iowa

SEPTEMBER TBA — Bartholomew County Community Dinner 18-20 — Farm Science Review, Columbus, Ohio 24-27 — National FFA Convention, Indianapolis

NOVEMBER JUNE 2 — Columbus Farmer’s Markets, Saturdays through Sept. 29 16 — Frank Burbrink Breakfast and Swine Show Classic, 4-H Fairgrounds 20-21 — Indiana Farm Management Tour, Marshall and St. Joseph counties

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2-16 — North American International Livestock Exposition Center, Louisville, Ky. 30-Dec. 2 — Indiana Beef Congress, Indianapolis

DECEMBER

Anxieties over a predicted corn seed shortage are subdued among Columbus area dealers. A disappointing 2011 farming season had analysts bracing for a shortfall in corn seed this year. Locally, however, it appears to be business as usual. “There is plenty of seed corn,” said Barry Trotter, a dealer with Beck’s Seeds. Newer hybrid seeds might be in short supply, but no area farmer will be left with nothing to plant, Trotter said. Analysts can be forgiven for their early skepticism though. “There were major pollination issues throughout the country because of the heat and the dryness,” Trotter said of 2011. Concerns were such that dealers leaned a bit more heavily on corn seed supplies from South America, but ultimately North American farmers produced enough to supply the 2012 planting season. “You always have extra seed anyway in case of a replant,” Trotter said of dealer stocks. In cases of flood or extreme drought, farmers sometimes

lose the original crops they planted and are forced to replant their fields. Seed dealers keep some seed in reserve should farmers need to replant their fields. The reserve seed might not be exactly what a farmer wants, but it will get the job done, Trotter said. Roger Glick, who co-owns Glick Seeds in Hope, also said corn seed supplies are a little low but no cause for concern. “It doesn’t look too bad right now … it’s not a white knuckle thing,” Glick said. “The consensus seems to be there is plenty of seed to go around if there aren’t a lot of replants,” he said. The seed supply from South America is running a bit late, but Glick foresees no problems. “There’s some concern as far as getting the right seed to the right place, there’s a lot of wholesale trade within the industry,” Glick said. “It’s going to be tight, but I think we’ll be OK.” Any seed supply concerns that might exist have had minimal impact on farmers’ buying habits, he said. Some farmers put in their

seed orders a little earlier than normal, but that’s been the trend over the past five years, Glick said. It used to be that farmers ordered their seed in February — now ordering before Thanksgiving is becoming the norm. Seed suppliers offer incentives for ordering early, which also helps insure a farmer gets the seed variety he wants. Some farmers also double order to ensure they get what they need and cancel later if they’re not needed, Glick said. Keith Arnholt of Columbus farms 5,000 acres in the area and foresees no problems planting corn this season. The shortage, however, did force him to hold off on a new hybrid he had planned to plant this year. Supplies of the waxy corn variety he ordered from Pioneer Seeds were insufficient to meet his needs. Before ordering, Arnholt researched the hybrid and believed it would be a good match for the sandier soil in the fields he farms. A wet spring last year forced Arnholt to do a good bit of replanting, but he hopes to avoid that this season.

6-8 — Indiana Farm Bureau Inc. Convention, Indianapolis

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Farmers and ranchers seeking information from the Farm Service Agency can do so more easily using smartphones with a new optimized website. The technology improvements will allow users to access information on loan deficiency payments, updated prices, agency news releases and other services. The mobile version organizes the website information to make it easy for reading on a small, handheld screen. The FSA’s mobile website is at: fsa.usda.gov/ mobile.

A Nebraska lawmaker wants to make sure that schools are teaching children about agriculture and how food gets to their plates. Sen. Kate Sullivan, a Democrat, says an Agriculture Literacy Task Force should be created to study whether agriculture plays an adequate role in school curriculums. Commissioner of Education Roger Breed says he understands the idea but thinks the issue is already being addressed as part of changes to the state’s social studies curriculum that will increase the focus on agriculture. — Wire Reports

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BUSINESS

The Republic, Columbus, Ind., Wednesday, March 7, 2012

WOMEN

IN

AGRICULTURE

Farmer Joe is making way for Farmer Jill. In the last 30-plus years, the proportion of women who own and operate farms has roughly doubled, and more women are seeking careers in agriculture, according to federal and university statistics.

“More women own small specialty farms that today serve a niche,” said Elysia Berry, Purdue University’s agriculture and natural resource extension educator for DeKalb County. The undergraduate population in Purdue’s College of Agriculture now consists of more women than men, said Dinah McClure, communications specialist for Purdue’s dean of agriculture. In 1978, women owned and operated 5.2 percent of all farms in the U.S., according to the United States Department of Agriculture. By 1997, they owned and operated 8.6 percent. As of 2010, the figure had climbed to 10 percent. Approximately 219,000 farms are run by women, and that number is expected to increase, according to a report by the USDA. Most of these farms are less than 140 acres and have annual sales of less than $25,000, the USDA said. “Agriculture still is heavy lifting, but it’s gotten to be much more of a mental operation almost,” Berry said. “There’s a lot more work by computers and numbers. … With the increase in technology and the increase in the number of small farms we’re seeing, women are able to handle specialty small farms.” Those might be herb farms or farms that sell goat products, Berry said. Purdue’s College of Agriculture currently consists of 52.4 percent women, up from 50.6 percent in 2010 and 49.6 percent in 2009, McClure said. The increase is due in part to

Female farmers Percentage of women who own and operate farms in the United States: 1978 — 5.2 1997 — 8.6 2010 — 10 — Source: United States Department of Agriculture more women who are animal science majors who want to go on to veterinary school, she added. The animal sciences department is the largest of the 11 departments in the College of Agriculture, and 80 percent of its students are women, McClure said. Other departments with high percentages of woman are youth development and agricultural education (71 percent), food science (69 percent) and biochemistry (64 percent). Berry coordinates the annual Midwest Women in Agriculture conference, which brings in speakers to address various topics. This year marks the 11th conference and the third Berry has organized. She said attendance numbers have increased over the years, and now are in the 125 to 150 range. Women who attend these conferences have questions about topics such as marketing, corn hybrids, buying and selling of animals and grain, and estate planning, Berry said. Attendees include women who operate farms, sell or market farm products, or work as extension educators. “You find women across the board in the industry,” she said.

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Susan Arnholt sits in the wheel of a large tractor in an equipment shed at Sudan Farms. Arnholt, husband Dan and son Clint run the farm in eastern Bartholomew County. The family tills 1,000 acres of their own and contracts a variety of services to other farmers.

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Farming full-time labor of love for Arnholt F

ARMING has been a way of life for Susan Arnholt since she was a girl, but when she made it a full-time career in the early 1990s, she represented a shift in agriculture. Farming was considered man’s work back when she grew up on a farm. Even when she helped her husband, Dan Arnholt, plant and harvest corn and soybeans on their rural Columbus farm, men couldn’t picture this little woman driving a planter in the spring or a semitrailer to haul grain. But in 1993, Susan quit her job as a dental hygienist because she wanted to run the family farm full time. For eight weeks she took certification courses at Purdue University, covering areas such as agricultural economics and agricultural engineering. Since then, Susan has run Sudan Farms Inc. full time while Dan worked for electric companies. until retiring in 2008. Their son Clint has helped full time since he graduated from Purdue University in 1999. The percentage of women who own and operate farms in the United States has about doubled in the last 30-plus years. For 65-year-old Susan, running a farm is a labor of love. “It’s a challenge, but there is a reward. Every day is different. When you go outside, especially in the spring and fall, and see the sun go up and down, and see the beauty of what God created, it’s awesome,” she said. Susan, Dan, 66, and Clint, 35, farm about 1,000 acres in Rockcreek Township. They primarily plant and harvest corn and soybeans, although they have additional farming ventures. They also contract with other farmland owners to plant and harvest their crops for them. Spreading lime on farmland to raise the pH level, and sampling and mapping soil with a global positioning system also are business lines for Sudan Farms, which was incorporated in 1983. “If (Susan) didn’t work full time, there would be hired help here,” Clint said. “It takes all three of us to work efficiently.” When asked who is in charge of the operation, Dan smiled and nodded at Susan, although he said they all have roles and work together as a team. Susan handles the marketing and financial records, although Clint is trying to help in those areas to ease the workload. She also has a commercial driver’s license and a pesticide license. Depending on the time of year and what is needed to be done,

EOE

See ARNHOLT on Page C10

The Arnholt file

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WHO: Susan Arnholt AGE: 65 WHAT: Co-owner of Sudan Farms Inc. with husband Dan; operates it with Dan and their son Clint DUTIES: Marketing; financial records; drives planter, combine, semitrailer during planting and harvesting seasons NOTABLE: Received the 2007 Women in Agriculture Achievement Award, given by Purdue University Cooperative Extension Service and Farm Credit Services of Mid-America to women making a difference in Indiana agriculture. FAMILY: Husband, Dan; sons, Clint and Cory

Susan Arnholt studies a fertilizer application chart with her son Clint.


agri

BUSINESS

The Republic, Columbus, Ind., Wednesday, March 7, 2012

C9

FARM TO FORK

Businesses here say national movement a lasting trend BY ANDREA ZEEK azeek@therepublic.com Restaurant owners here are getting back to their roots — literally. Over the past few years, it has grown more popular for restaurants to source local ingredients for their menus. Based in good business practices, it’s a trend that isn’t disappearing, chefs and owners here say, because foods grown close to home are not only fresher and tastier, they’re typically healthier. Columbus native and chef Daniel Orr, the owner of FARMbloomington who plans to open a similar restaurant in downtown Columbus (farmbrew.com) at the end of the year, said he’s been cooking with local ingredients since he started his professional career about 25 years ago in New York City, where he used to roller blade down to Union Square Market to pick up fresh produce. “The main reason chefs like to use local produce is that flavor,” Orr said. “The quality is so much better.” But the health benefits are a big bonus. Buying ingredients from regional growers cuts down on the time it takes food to travel from the ground to the table, Orr said. Because the food doesn’t have to be packed and shipped around the world, it is more likely to retain its nutritional value. As a business owner, Orr said he also enjoys the direct interaction with the farmers from whom he buys. “You’re looking those people in the eye,” he said. “You

can trust them, you can ask questions.” Orr said he makes sure to buy produce free of pesticides and meat from grass-fed or pasture-raised animals. “A lot of times, if (animals) are not raised in food factories, they have a lot of natural Omega 3s in them,” he said. “Animals that were raised happy and slaughtered humanely, I think I can feel better about eating that animal than an animal that never enjoyed a day of its life.” Orr sources some beef for his Bloomington restaurant from Columbus business Brothers Beef, which is owned by brothers Brett and Trevor Glick. Brett Glick said his cattle are raised humanely and as naturally as possible — using antibiotics only when absolutely necessary, such as during an outbreak of pink eye two summers ago. Glick said 95 percent of Brothers Beef’s customers are local people looking to stock their freezers. Orr sought them out. And though Brothers Beef has sold to a handful of other Indiana restaurants, freezer beef remains the niche for which their current business model works best, Glick said. Demand for locally sourced food has allowed Lori Moses, owner of Double Oak Farm Green Grocery in Columbus, to expand her business model. In addition to the store’s supermarket offerings, now customers can purchase made-to-order soups, salads and sandwiches featuring regional cheeses, meats, eggs

Apple juice made in US? Think again. BY CHRISTINA REXRODE Associated Press NEW YORK — Which food revelation was more shocking? Did it blow you away that low levels of a fungicide that isn’t approved in the U.S. were discovered in some orange juice sold here? Yawn. Or was it the news that Brazil, where the fungicide-laced juice originated, produces a good portion of the orange pulpy stuff we drink? Gasp! While the former may have sent prices for orange juice for delivery in March down 5.3 percent, the latter came as a bombshell to some “Buy American” supporters. But that’s not the only surprise lurking in government data about where the food we eat comes from. Overall, America’s insatiable desire to chomp on overseas food has been growing. About 16.8 percent of the food that we eat is imported from other countries, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, up from 11.3 percent two decades ago. Here are some other facts: z Not all juices are treated the same. About 99 percent of the grapefruit juice we drink is produced on American soil, while about a quarter of the orange juice is imported; more than 40 percent of that is from Brazil. z About half of the fresh fruit we eat comes from elsewhere. That’s more than double the amount in 1975. z Some 86 percent of the shrimp, salmon, tilapia and other fish and shellfish we eat comes from other countries. That’s up from about 56 percent in 1990. Better communication (thank you, Internet) and transportation (thank you, faster planes) play a role in all the food importing. And in many cases, it’s just become much cheaper to pay for shipping food from distant countries, where wages are often lower and expensive environmental rules often laxer than in the U.S. Our expanding population — and bellies — also has made feeding people cheaply more important. The U.S. has about 309 million residents, as of the 2010 U.S. Census. In 1990, that number was about 249 million. There’s also a shift in our food psychology. New Americans — those who have immigrated from Latin America and other countries — want the foods that they enjoyed back home. Not to mention that Americans in general have come to expect that they should be able to buy blueberries, spinach and other things even when they’re not in season in the U.S. “This is about the expectation that we’re going to have raspberries when it’s snowing in Ithaca,” said Marion Nestle, a food studies professor at New York University. Of course, the U.S. government still has high standards when it comes to dining on vittles that were created elsewhere. For instance, while 85 percent of the apple juice we drink is imported, only about 7 percent of the apples we eat are. Andy Jerardo, an economist at the USDA, says that’s because the juice often comes from China, which produces apples that are inferior for snacking but good for drinking. And we still get the majority of American dinner staples like wine, red meat and veggies from within the U.S. The U.S. is more inclined to import foods that can be easily stored and won’t spoil quickly.

and dressings. Moses said the “farm to fork” movement is gaining strength all the time. Today’s consumers want to know where their food comes from, and they’re more conscious about supporting their local economy. And although finding local ingredients is more difficult than just calling a big distributor in Indianapolis, Moses said she sells about 50 different area foods in her store. “I don’t think (the trend) is stopping anytime soon,” she said. Bartholomew County resident Tamar Everard said she enjoys shopping at Double Oaks grocery because she wants to support local farmers and humane treatment of animals. On a recent trip to the store, Everard and her 4-yearold son, Stephen, loaded their carts with Traders Point yogurt. “Should we get the yellow one that Daddy likes?” she asked. “Yeah!” said Stephen. Everard said Double Oaks often carries items, such as whole wheat flour, that are harder to find at big chain grocery stores. Moses said she has sold ingredients to several Columbus restaurants, including Bistro 310 and Tre Bicchieri. Liz Bohall, owner of Bistro 310, said the restaurant has featured local foods on its menu since 2009, when it reopened at its current downtown Columbus location. Buying foods here allows Bistro 310 to provide its customers with top-quality meals,

while supporting area businesses and a clean environment, Bohall said. Customers who know the restaurant serves Indiana food always give positive feedback, she said. Scott Wise, president and chief executive officer of Pots & Pans Production, the parent management company of Scotty’s Burger Joint in Columbus, said serving a quality product is what motivated him to create the Scotty’s Burger Joint and Scotty’s Lakehouse concept restaurants, which emphasize the “farm to fork” movement and other green practices. In addition to featuring local foods such as meat and cheese on its menu, Wise said 90 to 95 percent of the beer, wine and hard liquor served at Scotty’s Burger Joint comes from Indiana. “This was something that we wanted to hang our hat on,” Wise said. “It’s definitely not the easy way. It’s a little more expensive … (but ) I felt that it was important for me to do in my career.” Wise said the emphasis on local foods looks to be a lasting trend. He’s even seen it mimicked in national chains Season 52 and Chipotle, which recently opened a restaurant in Columbus. And as a father of three with a fourth child on the way, Wise said the pros of sourcing local ingredients outweigh the cons. “I like knowing that I’m eating local and organic food, especially when I’m eating with my kids,” Wise said. “It just makes me feel better as a parent.”

SUDAN FARMS INC.

ANDREA ZEEK | THE REPUBLIC

Above: Bartholomew County resident Tamar Everard and her son, Stephen, 4, shop for local produce at Double Oak Farms Green Grocery in downtown Columbus. Everard said she likes to buy from Double Oaks to support local farmers and the humane treatment of animals. Below: Eggs are one of the 50 locally sourced ingredients sold at Double Oak Farms Green Grocery. The store recently expanded its offerings to soup, salad and sandwich grab-and-go items.

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C10

BUSINESS

The Republic, Columbus, Ind., Wednesday, March 7, 2012

ALPACAS

Did you know?

Continued from Page C1 money with the alpacas. They can sell the fiber, which garners a higher price than wool because it doesn’t have lanolin, making it hypoallergenic. Juvonda also is a spinner and weaver, turning the fiber into yarn and crafts that she sells at a small shop inside the barn at their home business called Hoosier Heartland Alpacas. Alpaca owners also sell their animals and offer breeding services. The cost of the animals varies greatly, but the Joneses currently have animals for sale from $400 to $8,000. Costs can increase with the animals earning honors at alpaca shows.

Juvonda said it’s important for people wanting to get into the alpaca business to network with other alpaca farmers. She and Ed correspond with other alpaca owners on various alpaca websites and on Facebook and talk at various shows and breeder gatherings. Anyone curious about alpacas will have an opportunity to see and learn about the animals up close over Memorial Day weekend. The Alpaca Owners and Breeders Association will have its National Conference and Auction May 25-28 in Louisville, Ky. Information: 445-7874.

Disaster assistance

ANDREW LAKER | THE REPUBLIC

Hoosier Heartland Alpacas near Reddington

ARNHOLT

Profit up at ag banks

Continued from Page C8

Susan can be found driving a planter or combine, or hauling grain in a semitrailer. “She can pretty much drive anything we’ve got,” Clint said. That shouldn’t come as a surprise. She grew up on a farm in Bartholomew County, and her father started her in the family business at an early age. “I had a little Ford tractor.

I had to stand up to put the clutch down,” she said. Susan was involved in 4-H, and it was through the organization that she met Dan. Their first date was at an FFA square dance. They bought their farm in August 1969, but for years they farmed while also working full-time jobs.

While Clint was growing up, seeing his mother working on the farm didn’t seem out of the ordinary to him because that was just part of how their family functioned. “I was raised in a tractor with her,” Clint said. Clint’s children are growing up seeing exactly what he saw his mother do.

PRICES

Continued from Page C6 causing prices to increase. When feed costs shot up in 2008 and 2009, cattle farmers suffered big losses. So they reduced the sizes of their herds to reduce costs, Hurt said. A drought in southern states also caused cattle ranchers to thin their herds. The U.S. cattle herd dropped to 90.8 million in 2011, a 2 percent decline from 2010 that resulted in the lowest national herd size since 88.1 million in 1952, according to the USDA. The average cost for a pound of hamburger increased from $2.38 in December 2010 to $2.92 in December 2011, according to the USDA. Downey took a different approach, though, and actually has increased his herd by 40 percent over the last six years by keeping more heifers and their offspring. “The ground we own and rent was conducive to rais-

Farmers in Bartholomew, Brown, Decatur, Johnson and Shelby counties could be eligible for emergency federal loans to help offset losses incurred during drought and excessive heat last year from July 1 through Oct. 18. The U.S. secretary of agriculture issued a disaster declaration for Indiana, making some counties eligible for assistance from Farm Service Agency. Applications will be accepted through Sept. 27. Information: United States Department of Agriculture farm loan programs, Greensburg office, 663-8674 ext. 2.

AG PRICES Recent and projected 2012 prices for farm commodities: Corn 2010: $5.18 per bushel 2011: $6.20 2012: $5.70 Soybeans 2010: $11.30 per bushel 2011: $11.70 2012: $11.50 Wheat 2010: $5.70 per bushel 2011: $7.30 2012: $6.50 Beef cattle 2011: $1.15 per pound 2012: $1.27

Hogs 2011: 66 cents per pound 2012: 65 cents Milk 2011: $20 per 100 pounds 2012: $18.50 Eggs 2011: $1.15 per pound 2012: $1.06 Broiler chicken 2011: 79 cents per pound 2012: 85 cents Turkey 2011: $1.02 per pound 2012: $1.04

ing cattle. We like working with cattle and we saw some profitability in raising cattle,” Downey said. Doing a better job of managing resources and the pas-

ture ground — by rotating the pastures the cattle grazed on — helped profits and allowed the herd size to be increased, Downey added. He has also been taking ad-

— Source: Chris Hurt, professor of agricultural economics at Purdue University

The Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City says strong farm income in Midwest and Western states improved agricultural banks’ balance sheets but reduced demand for new loans. The Fed said bank profits in the region improved in the third quarter of 2011 because many borrowers paid down some of their farm debts. Many farmers also used proceeds from last fall’s high crop prices to pay operating costs, so demand for vantage of a growing market The U.S. average price for operating loans fell. — Wire Reports for freezer beef — cattle that 100 pounds of milk was $20.50 His oldest, Lillyan, has ridden in a combine and a grain cart with Susan. One Christmas, Dan made Christmas books showing pictures of Susan, Dan and Clint with the farm equipment they use. Clint said his children look at one book called “Memaw is a Farmer.”

Lillyan is amazed by all Memaw can do, he said. Susan is glad Lillyan is growing up in a time when there are more opportunities in agriculture for females, and Lillyan can take advantage of them if she wants to. “It’s a livelihood. It’s something I enjoy, and it’s always been good to me,” Susan said.

are butchered for various cuts of meat that people can store in their freezers. Downey said he isn’t expecting a “great year” because like other farmers he’s dealing with higher prices for feed, fertilizer and fuel. The dairy industry is experiencing financial stress because of a shift to larger dairies, those with more than a thousand cows, Hurt said. “We assume in the long run the big dairies will be there and the family farms will drop out,” Hurt said. Arnholt has about 120 cows on his third-generation dairy farm, which dates to the 1930s. He believes the county has five or six dairy farms remaining. The cyclic nature of the industry has made it tough on small dairy farms, Arnholt said.

in January 2008, according to USDA National Agricultural Statistics Service. The price fell to $15.50 by that December, plummeted to $11.30 in June and July 2009, and rebounded to $18.50 in October 2010. Last year, the price dipped to $16.70 in January, rose to $22 in August and fell to $19.80 by December. Last month is slipped to $19.20. Combined with increasing input costs such as feed and fertilizer, some dairy farmers took big financial hits, Arnholt said. So, he downsized his herd from 250 to 100 cows in 2009, which was a really bad year, he said. He’s hoping he can weather the cyclic turmoil long enough for demand and supply to realign causing milk prices to increase again.

DECLINES Continued from Page C6

take soil samples every two years and apply appropriate amounts of fertilizer to keep the land as healthy and productive as possible. Farmers are also less inclined to worry about downward income forecasts because of their ability to lock in crop prices ahead of time, Fischer said. If a farmer likes current prices and what he’s paying for expenses, he can negotiate with a customer a set price for a certain amount of his crop. It’s common for farmers to lock in prices a little at a time as the year progresses, Fischer added. That can help hedge against future drops — but it also could preclude a farmer from capitalizing on future price increases. The other failsafe for farmers is buying crop insurance in case of drought or flood, Gelfius said. “When that kicks in, you’re really not making any money,” he said.

RULES

Continued from Page C3

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tional Safety and Health. The institute found that 74 percent of children under age 15 who were killed on the job from 2003 to 2010 were employed in agriculture. But Tormoehlen said the legislation, if it passes as written, would cause unintended consequences. A rule that puts a 19 horsepower limit on tractors that children can operate would be changed to ban children from driving tractors of any power level. Tormoehlen said that would include even lawn tractors. Another change lowers the elevation at which children may work from 20 feet now to 6 feet. “If you stack hay bails on a wagon that’s 3 feet off the ground, you don’t have much room to stack it much higher than that.” Another change would add an entirely new ban on the use of electronic devices, including cell phones, while operating power equipment, including motor vehicles. A letter that Tormoehlen cowrote with other Purdue professors warns that the plan would create “lasting consequences for agricultural production and the economic viability of rural communities.” Labor Department officials said their goal is to better protect children who are more vulnerable to injury when performing tasks like driving tractors. They insist they are listening to farmers. A recent revision was made Feb. 2 in response to farm groups’ complaints, when the officials exempted children whose parents are part-owners or operators of farms, or have a substantial interest in a farm partnership or corporation. The Associated Press contributed to this report.


2012 Agribusiness  

Agribusiness section from March 7, 2012, Columbus, Ind. Republic

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