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High Flyer

February 2014

888-762-2163 FEBRUARY 2014 / topflight newsletter 1


GOOD-BYE!!!! by Mikki Burns


his will officially be my last newsletter. I retired on January 3, 2014. The Cisco office is now in the capable hands of Andrew Hanes. I have witnessed a lot of things and changes over the years. We’ve gone from hand tickets to computers…from a lengthy moisture testing procedure to automatic moistures going directly into the computers…from handling 30,000 bushels a day to 200,000 bushels a day…from pickups and 2-tons to 600 bushel wagons and semis…and on and on. Farming has changed a lot over the last 29 years and I was always on both sides…a farmer’s wife and an elevator employee. We’ve gone from 50/50 leases to practically all cash rent leases…from one delivery sheet to delivery sheets for every farm that the farmer has…from doing the books in pencil and by hand to computer generated reports. Most of the changes have been for the best. But the simpler times had many advantages. It just wasn’t as fast paced and stressful. But whatever it is and whatever it has been, it has been a good experience. I have had a lot of good relationships with our farmers and will miss talking to them 2 FEBRUARY 2014 / topflight newsletter

each day. I hope to somehow stay in touch. The grandchildren are all loving school and doing real well. Not too many winter activities for them. JD was supposed to play basketball, but broke his ankle so was unable to practice and play. He and Cooper are going to play Y basketball after the first of the year. They are all growing up so fast – Blaine is now 11, JD and Audrey are 10 and Cooper is 5. I want to thank everyone for 29 years of great working experience and relationships – my co-workers and the farmers. I will miss you all tremendously!!

JD, Blaine, Audrey in the back row, Cooper in the front.


he holidays have passed and as a new year rings in the income tax season begins. Your 1099-PATR was mailed out in January; this will contain important information in Box 3 and Box 6 to be included on your income tax return. In Box 3, we have reported your total gross grain payments for calendar year 2013. In Box 6, we have reported the portion of the Domestic Production Activity Deduction (DPAD) passed through from Topflight Grain to you. In accordance with the IRS code, the tax deduction is based on grain payments made to our members throughout our fiscal year and limited by 50% of qualified wages paid by Topflight Grain. The tax deduction can either be used on the cooperative income tax return or passed through to members. In June 2013, Topflight Grain’s Board of Directors elected to pass through approximately $1.4 million or $.06/ bushel to members. This is the second consecutive year DPAD has been passed on. Topflight Grain has been successful with other strategies to manage income tax exposure and felt this would have more value at the member level. This amount is deductible on line 23 of Form 8903; however please consult a tax professional for further guidance and questions specific to your operation.

by Jeremy Welch

This example illustrates the information on the 1099-PATR form that you or your tax preparer will need in order to correctly file your taxes.

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WE KNEW THIS WAS COMING!! by Scott Docherty


he summer of 2013 was dry, but we avoided The harvest seemed steady and orderly as we had the heat which saved crop yields from another a few rain events and the corn continued to retain disaster like 2012. The Topflight crop tour was moisture; so the harvest started in September, and not far off on our corn yield as we estimated an avdid not finish until the second week of November. erage yield of 180 bushel yield on corn. We believe There were two interesting surprises as we moved our actual harvested corn yield for our territory deeper into harvest. The farmer sold more grain came in at 190, about 7% better than expected. The across the scale than we had seen in many years, beans were much more difficult to estimate, the which turned out to be a good thing when you look pods counts were up but the pods were also empty at what flat price of corn and beans has done. The when we did our tour. We again were surprised at other surprise was both the strength of demand what Mother Nature and the soybean plants could for export soybeans and the processor demand for produce with very little moisture. The key was no corn. Overall, demand has kept the flat price in a flat triple digit temperatures! We quickly realized that to inverted market since the harvest of 2013 startwe needed to create more bean space, so we coned. China has been a huge buyer of soybeans in Noverted some corn bins to beans and put corn out on vember, December, and January. Corn demand and temporary space. The other change from what we the lack of coverage from the processor has kept would consider a normal harvest is the demand for corn flat price with little-to-no carry, and you would corn and soybeans at harvest. After coming off one never know that we are projected to have a 1.6 of the worst crops in the last 10 years, the demand for grain created an inverted market place. Topflight continued to ship company-owned grain and began harvest at the lowest stocks since 1996. We cleaned bottoms of bins we had not seen for a very long time. The demand for new crop grain continued right into September, and we continued to ship with premiums paid for quick-ship grain. Marketing grain in an inverted market place is a lot more difficult than your normal carry charge market. Derrick did an excellent job selling those premiums; and Eric and the operations staff did an excellent job getting grain in position and loading out quickship grain. Our grandson, Blaine, watching harvest on the Hendrix farm.

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billion bushel carryout. The USDA has projected a price range of $4.10 to $4.70 for corn and $11.75 to $13.25 for soybeans for the balance of this marketing year. My question to you is what will our planted acreage this spring for corn and soybeans be?? The corn/bean ratio favors soybeans at this writing, so will we see another 5% of our territory move to soybeans? We feel we have moved from a 75/25 corn bean acreage to a 60/40 corn bean acreage in our territory over the last 3 years. Topflight will continue to build additional space and update facilities as we move forward. Topflight Grain continues to be short space at harvest and believes the yield trends will continue in corn as well as in soybeans. We have heard many times from our current patrons to continue updating facilities and pour money back into the company. Your board of directors will be busy looking at many different

options and building quotes for this spring and summer. I want to also remind you that Topflight continues to pass through the domestic production activities deduction (DPAD) to you for a deduction on your tax returns. Topflight’s investments in both One Earth Energy and United Prairie continue to pay great dividends as both companies had very good years in 2013. The ethanol industry has matured, and we have separated some of winners from the losers, and UP has positioned itself well to see additional growth opportunities over the next few years. I want to thank you for your business and we understand we will need to continue to upgrade facilities and offer better services in the future to earn your continued support. I welcome your comments or concerns, so please don’t hesitate to stop in or call me. Have a safe and enjoyable planting season!



reetings from Cisco! My name is Andrew Hanes. I joined Topflight in August of last year and was able to have my first Harvest with the company under the wing of Mikki Burns. I am grateful for her help and guidance through the fall! I am married to my wonderful wife Lindsey and we have three boys – Isaac, Zachary and Micah. While the boys keep us busy, it is fun to watch them grow and learn new things. About myself, I grew up outside of Maroa on a farm and got to experience the farm life growing up. We had some cattle when I was young, as well as being around my grandparent’s pigs. I can remember many times where my brother and I would go “exploring” in the hay loft of the barn and trying/ finding different things. One time, I found a nail with the top of my head and didn’t realize it until I came inside; the joys of growing up around the farm. I am sure there are many experiences like this that many of us share being families that grew up around or on the farm. I have degrees from Illinois State University and Eastern Illinois University in

Technology and Business. Since graduating from college, I have been indirectly involved in agriculture in one way or another. I have worked for the International Society of Arboriculture and held various positions within ADM. I am looking forward to bringing that experience into this job. Even with that experience, my time here at Cisco has taught me a lot and I am sure there is still a lot to learn. I want to send a big Thank You to all of you that have been patient with me so far. I am looking forward to continuing to learn and grow as I work here at Topflight. Cisco was a flurry of activity during harvest. In the middle of the rush of harvest, we loaded out more trains than we usually do during the harvest season. While it stretched the outside guys thin at times, we made it through and were able to post high volumes for our location. It is great to be around a group of co-workers that are truly invested in the work they do and care about the quality of work they are doing – not only here in Cisco but company-wide. FEBRUARY 2014 / topflight newsletter 5

UH-OHs anD WHAT THE HECKS??? by Amy Brammer


s we navigate throughout a grain year, things always pop up. Things that stress you out and things that make us go “hmmmm…” Here are a few “uh-ohs” and “what the hecks” that came up this year. If you take the time (you know in the next 7 months) to make sure everything matches up, we can avoid a few stressful head scratches! 1. Grain came into Topflight Grain with a Farm Code split 50/50 between owners. However, Crop Insurance was filed under each owner as 100%, not a split. When it came time to turn in Proof of Yields to the insurance agent for a crop loss, the elevator had nothing to give the customer stating the bushels were 100% his. This was not an easy discussion. Please make sure that however you have your grain listed with Crop Insurance or the FSA Office, that it matches the paperwork from Topflight Grain. 2. If your grain comes into the elevator under a Farm Name (ie Brammer Farms), but you file Crop Insurance under an individual name (Amy Brammer), this could be an issue. Topflight Grain will only be able to give you documentation on how the grain comes into the elevator. This will not work if the names are different between inbound grain and crop insurance. Please make sure that however you have your grain listed with Crop Insurance or the FSA Office, that it matches the paperwork from Topflight Grain. 3. Please make sure your Farm Split (ownership split) information on your tickets at Topflight Grain is the same as what you have reported to the FSA office. 4. Be very aware of who your grain checks are made out to versus how you pay your taxes. If Topflight Grain wrote the check out to you (ie Amy Brammer), we will report it as so to the IRS with your social security number as income. This is an issue if you don’t actually take the income and/or if you are filing taxes under a Farm Name/Estate/Trust/etc.!

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Please make sure that the name the check is written out to is correct! The name on the check (w/ Social Security number/Fed ID number) is the name that will be reported to the IRS as receiving income!

5. If you are changing an account to an Estate/ Trust/Business Entity, I will be requesting supporting documents, including the who/what/where involved and the Federal Identification Number! Moral of the story? Please make sure that however you have your grain listed with Crop Insurance or the FSA Office, that it matches the paperwork from Topflight Grain. Also, please make sure the name on your grain checks coincides with however you are filing taxes and reporting income! My gang of guys is doing great! Elliott has begun training for the Champaign Half Marathon in April. Brenden will turn 6 on Feb 4th! He is in Kindergarten at LSA in Decatur and really enjoys it. He started soccer in early January and continues with his Ninjitsu. He is an orange belt and is breaking boards! The twins turned 2 in December! They are growing (sort of!) and amazing us by the day with new words, phrases, and antics. All three boys definitely keep us hopping. Seems like our house is always a bit crazy and disorganized, but it’s always entertaining! We are all looking forward to spring and getting back outside!

Brody, Brenden & Cooper

WINTER IS HERE by Stason Kopps


Elliott & I at the Blarney Castle in Ireland.

s I write this, snow is falling once again. The snow and cold weather are some things we have not had to deal with for a few years. This weather can be an inconvenience, but at Topflight there is work that has to get done. The past couple months the crew has been busy loading trains and trucks. At Monticello, Chris Frye has been dumping trucks and getting grain in position to load trains. Kris Mills has been loading trains and loading trucks at Lodge. Rob Dick has been doing maintenance and helping load trains. Steve Schoonover has been loading trucks at Seymour and helping load trains. I have also been loading a lot of trains. On a personal note my wife and I found out we are to be grandparents. At 40 years old I think I am

a little too young to be called Grandpa, but I am looking forward to it.

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the bins

WHEW!!! by Pam Jarboe


t’s been over 6 months since the last High Flyer. With the late harvest running into almost Christmas, we just ran out of time. So, you’re getting a lot of news and a lot of pictures in this issue. A lot has happened in the past half-year! We also called upon many of you to assist with articles and pictures. Some of you even sent pictures and stories voluntarily!!! We thank you so much; your contributions truly make it a co-operative newsletter! And many thanks to our employees who write their articles, some extra articles, and are always taking pictures. The Bement facility had some great help during harvest. They were good workers and we enjoyed working with them. It seemed like the harvest would never start, then it seemed like it would never end. After the actual harvest receipts finish, it still takes a while to complete the bookwork, and then we were into the holidays and even had a snow day in January! Our operations staff has been super busy load-

ing trucks and trains! It seems like the trains never show up till the weekend, and the crew usually heads to Monticello, Milmine or here in Bement. Cisco trains usually show up through the week, and our crew often helps there, too. The train crew can include Andy, Paul, Brian, Henry, Roger, Jim, Brad, Steve & Martin, depending on who is needed where. Our bean flat is empty, and it’s still cold weather! It seems like the flat is never empty till it’s about 120 degrees inside! Jim & Brad have shipped out several bean trains, and several corn trains. Our beans are just about gone, and then we’ll be shipping more corn. Amy & I are always working on bookwork, and have begun the women’s program. I listen to Amy think and work on many parts of the program, and I promise you it will be a lot of fun. Ladies, be sure to mark March 26 on your calendar for our program! We wish Mikki a great retirement, with time to enjoy her family and friends, and to not have to set the alarm clock every morning!

Women’s Program

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by Rodd Runyen


ith the recent January snowstorms, they reminded me of my childhood of growing up in Oreana. My parents live on Burgess Street, which is the last street as you head north out of Oreana on Route 48 headed to Argenta. There are no houses on the north side of the street, because back in the 60’s, government grain bins were located there. So we affectionately called this area, “The Bins”. But as we grew up, the bins were all removed and a wide open prairie was left. Every time we would have those big snows in the late 70’s, the winds blowing across The Bins would drift our street shut and we would be left with huge snowdrifts. The village would send big equipment down the street to clear it. This would leave huge mounds of snow on the sides of the street that were a delight for all the kids. We would tunnel into them and make snow forts. It was so much fun as a kid! It was also a place you could escape to and just walk around in that deep snow with mainly solitude around you. You could walk through the crisp air looking up at millions of stars in the cold winter sky. Problems of the world seemed so far away. In the summer, The Bins would be transformed from a prairie into a baseball diamond. All the neighborhood kids would play ball there. There was no homerun fence and the ball seemed to travel forever. We would also build forts out of sticks and grass – some rivaled what they had on Gilligan’s Island! Okay, maybe not that elaborate, but we had fun making them. It was a lot of fun growing up in a neighborhood where all the kids were close to the same age.

But just as I have grown and changed, so has The Bins. It was sold and plowed under as a farm field. The owners also built a garage on part of it. But every time that I go to Oreana to my parent’s house, as I round the curve from Prairie Street to Burgess Street, I am reminded of those good times spent there as a kid. The neighborhood we grew up in is now changed, with many new people living there, as many of the original people who lived there have passed on. My neighborhood friends are all now in their late 40’s and early 50’s and have all moved away. Time marches on, but it can’t take away the great times and the great memories that we all had at The Bins. My kids just continue to grow up! Sara is 24 and working at Danielle Renee Salon and Spa in Monticello after graduating from Shear Learning Academy in Decatur in December. She is also a bartender at Elm Street Grill in Argenta. Autumn is 16 and now driving all over the area! She is a Sophomore at Cerro Gordo High School. Bailey is 19 and is a Freshman at Eureka College in Eureka, IL, majoring in Communications and playing on the baseball and football teams.

Sara, Autumn & Bailey FEBRUARY 2014 / topflight newsletter 9



by Derrick Bruhn


he definition of logistics is the planning, implementation, and coordination of the details of a business or other operation. Each of us manages logistics differently. Each day there are tasks that need accomplished and only a certain amount of resources to make that happen in a certain amount of time. There are many people within Topflight that have to coordinate logistics and work as a team to make sure we are accomplishing what is expected each day. Harvest is the time when logistics are most important. We communicate many things on a daily basis to

Derrick, Mabry, Mylin & Lynne ensure each facility is ready for the next day. We coordinate everything from the amount of wet corn space, dry corn space, and bean space to the amount of gas we have used for drying. During the fall of 2013 we shipped 6,850,000 bushels of corn and beans and transferred an additional 2,575,000 bushels. These tasks take a great deal of communication within the company and with the truckers and railroads. We are fortunate to have a great group of truckers that care for our business like their own and are willing to work the extra hours it takes to get through the difficult logistical times. The NS railroad did a great job this fall, and Decatur Junction at Cisco gave us excellent service. We loaded 14 trains out of Cisco this fall and everything

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by Denny Hill

worked great. As we saw in early January, weather can have a big impact on logistics. This was evident for the corn processors in Decatur and on the grocery store shelves. It is amazing how quickly the shelves in the store become bare when there weren’t any inbound deliveries. The same holds true for the corn processors in Decatur when trucks aren’t able to move and the railroads have minimal movement. The world relies greatly on transportation. When a portion of the transportation grid is reduced or halted, it puts more pressure on the other forms of transportation. Lynne is loving another year of shaping those little kindergarten minds. She is constantly challenged to keep their attention and finding new ways to teach information that they find fun. There is a lot of creativity that takes place at home preparing. Mylin is having a great time in kindergarten and thinks it’s pretty neat to have Mom in the same building. Mabry is in 3rd grade and thinks that not having Mom in the same building is okay. She is taking Spanish lessons, piano lessons, is about to start some rec basketball and will start softball practice before we know it. The logistics at the Bruhn house are about to get very busy too. I hope everyone has a great spring and the weather cooperates.

Mylin & Mabry


e knew harvest would be later than normal this year, with hardly any corn getting planted in the month of April due to wet conditions, and most getting put in the ground the middle of May. Not seeing much corn come in till the last week of September is not the norm these days, and reminded me of the old days. Having ½ price drying on the 23rd of September got several farmers started opening up fields and working on some of their earlier numbers. Most of the moistures were running around 23% to 25% during that time and some of the farmers kept going and took advantage of some early premiums being offered, while others waited for the corn to dry down some in the field. At about this same time frame, some early beans started coming in, and ADM wanted them immediately, as the pipeline was dry from the 2012 crop. This is the way harvest went for the next 3 to 4 weeks, with some farmers in corn while others were working on their beans. This helped keep the corn line down and made it manageable for everyone. Most of our patrons finished up harvest in late October or early November and seemed to be pleased with the yields. Corn varied from 180 to 220 bushels per acre, while soybeans were 50 to the high 60’s per acre. Here in Maroa, we set a couple records on the bean side this fall as we took in 83,000 bushels of beans on the 11th of October and for the harvest we had 639,000 bushels of soybeans delivered here. This was 75,000 bushels more than the previous high, so you can see people were pretty pleased with their bean yields, especially with no rain in August to speak of. It makes you wonder what the yield could have been

with a timely rain. Our corn receipts were down from our projections due to the improvements made in the Emery elevator receiving department. If we start to get a substantial line, it is faster for some farmers to go down to Emery and unload. With corn receipts being lower and the trucks able to get grain to ADM at a good clip, we ended up filling our corn bunker just less than half. Since harvest we have stayed busy shipping corn and beans daily. Dan Greer and Gary Liggett have been loading trucks in all kinds of weather for the past couple of months. With free DP being offered in late December, the farmers have been busy hauling to town from their bins when the weather cooperates. We look to take in another 500,000 to 700,000 bushels from off the farm before planting season. The big news around our family is my wife Terri will be retiring in 3 years from her teaching job with Meridian Schools. She is already concerned about what to do with her free time when it rolls around. I’m sure she will play a lot of golf whenever possible.

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e are just cleaning out after the early January blowing snow and cold weather snap that we received, with the likelihood of more before the beginning of spring. 2013 harvest wrapped up nicely with good yields on corn and a lot of very good yields on the soybeans. Here at Topflight it has been non-stop corn and bean shipments on both rail cars and trucks. It seems every weekend there is at least one, if not multiple trains, in route to be loaded and ready for pickup by Monday morning. Truck corn and beans into the Decatur market has also been brisk and not many weekends have gone by without the need to ship corn or beans to fill the processors’ needs from one or more of your local Topflight locations. I like to take this opportunity, about this time each year, to remind everyone with on the farm storage to check the grain quality in your bins.

Morgan, ready for school

Grain going out of condition is not only costly from a financial standpoint, but also is the leading cause of grain engulfments in the U.S. Out-of-condition grain clogs sump draw offs to unloading equipment, and far too many people feel that the way to get it flowing again is to enter the bin from the top, and prod the chunk of grain with a rod, or pole. This is the number one scenario for farmers and employees to become entrapped or engulfed in a grain bin. Checking bins for condition, and taking the appropriate action, are the first steps in ensuring safety around your farm storage. It seems as though it has been a while since my last newsletter article for the High Flyer, so I have enclosed a couple of pictures of my 4 year old daughter Morgan, who thinks she is 17, and 6 month old son Camden who is a pretty good natured little fellow so far. He must get that from me!



by Chelsey White

s I am sitting here trying to figure out what to write, I begin to reflect on the last 6 months here at Emery. A lot of you know that I am new to the Topflight organization, but I am not new to the grain industry. I worked at ADM for almost 8 years doing various jobs from working at the corporate office to my last job at the elevator in Macon, IL. I currently reside in Oreana with my husband Jeremy (who also works at ADM) and our 4 year old son Cooper. I began my first day with Topflight on July 29th, 2013, almost a month before our harvest started at Emery. We took our first bushels of new corn on September third and we were off to the races! Harvest went very well for Emery; we took in a record amount of corn bushels this harvest and took in a pretty decent amount of beans. Corn received for the 2013 harvest was 3,421,562 bushels, and soybeans received were 524,839 bushels. We were able to have a ground pile this year, for the first time in years and let me tell you, it was and is a beautiful site to see! We did the ground pile a little differently this year; we used a couple of high-hos to pile the grain instead of a conveyor belt as in the past. This way we were able to fit more bushels into the pile in a shorter amount of time which was greatly needed by the end of harvest. I was interviewed by Stu Ellis on WAND’s “Agribusiness Today” segment in late October to discuss the ground pile and why we had to do it. We talked yields and a few other brief

topics. Being on there was a learning experience for sure! Looking ahead to harvest 2014, we have had a few customers making some sales with new crop grain, but there are still quite a few who are waiting to see what happens in this market or how planting will Cooper stopped by the office to go this spring. show Mom his new haircut! In my opinion, if new crop corn hits $4.50/bushel, you will see some significant sales. On the beans it’s hard to say because the spread between old crop and new crop is almost $2.00 and no one wants to sell new crop beans for less than $11.00/bushel. You have analysts talking about beans going to the $9-$10 market if everything in South America holds true and they have a decent harvest. Will this happen? I honestly have no idea! We are still 4 months away from South America harvest to know for sure.

It takes a lot of strong men to pull the tarp over the corn pile!

It was dualing high-hos, loading the Emery bunker this year.


Morgan & Camden at Christmas

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Morgan & Camden in their minion caps

FEBRUARY 2014 / topflight newsletter 13



by Jason Goodner

know it gets old hearing it, but “Time flies by before you know it!” I had to go back and research my last newsletter article, to see where we left off. We weren’t done planting yet when your last newsletter hit, so I will be more than happy to share with all of you the scoop around Seymour. The landscape changed dramatically around here this past crop year. We had such a wet spring followed by another mini-drought this past summer into fall. We watched old crop prices from the drought-stricken supply of 2012 to the lack of interest for our largest crop we’ve seen in years. Pricing for old crop corn and soybeans topped out around $7.00 and $16.00. Those were great prices for the few that had bushels left to sell. New crop pricing was a dollar to two dollars below what old crop was. Again, no interest to sell undervalued fall crop that just dropped throughout the whole fall season. Our crop tour in August was a 145 bpa corn and 29 bpa on soybeans. Wow! My numbers were blown away after the crop started coming across the scale. We ended up with an average around 175 bpa corn and 52 bpa on soybeans. We filled up all of our upright space; however, we left the bunker void to ship corn while the market was inverted. We also shipped around 100,000 plus soybeans out to make space and be full at the end of harvest. Over the summer, Topflight as a whole, cleaned out every bin we had. Steve and I cleaned a lot of bins, but we were able to get a zero for bushels in the elevator, which is a rarity. Over the summer we put up some new spouting and a new distributor on the inside legs. The new distributor was very easy to learn and to use. No more mishaps while dumping and the distributor picking the bin. We also installed a new air tube in our wet bin for wet corn, and 3 new 15 hp fans on bins that had top air only. Now with fans on the bottom of these 3 bins, it has definitely helped the quality of the grain being stored. Since we are talking about summer, no one can

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forget our 4th of July parade. Kari, Kolby, Addi, and Jaron were in the parade with us this year. The twins made it to the parade, but enjoyed it from the shade of trees by the church with Grandma and Great-Grandma. Needless to say all the candy was gone by the time the parade was mostly over.

Kolby and Addi walked alongside the float. I’m not sure they knew how much walking it was going to be, but they were awesome! I love seeing everything and everybody that comes to the parade. We always have a turnout of tons of people for our little small town parade. Harvest finally did get here. It did take some half rate drying to get people going, but then the process finally did get running. Wow did it run! I think we really had one of the fastest harvests ever. We ran hard for about 6 weeks with really good efficiency. We had some really good experienced help again. Thanks to Kari Goodner, Josh Cozad, Roger Turpin, and Steve Shofner. They did a great job, and made harvest run really smooth, at least from my end. Hopefully everyone found the facility running good, and constructive criticism is always welcomed. We rounded out this year with our Open House on Dec 19th. I’d like to thank Tim Menacher, John Chumley, Chris Karr, Fred Perry, and Bill Young for all donating food and some cash for extra food and cookies. We had a wonderful time and fellowship with around 45 people coming through to enjoy the Christmas spirit. Thanks to my wife, Kari, and my mother-in- law, Diane, and my mother, Cathy, for also making and delivering food. I am lucky to have such wonderful women that take good care of me.

I would like to send our condolences and sympathy to Steve Schoonover’s family. Steve’s step-father William Roberts passed away on Dec 15th at home. We’d also like to send our condolences to the Herbst family, as John passed away in late December. On a lighter note to finish off this newsletter, is a quick family update. Kari is doing well and has the three little people at home. Jordan and Lynzi are 8 months old and getting bigger. Jordan has 4 top and 3 bottom teeth, can crawl, stand and tries to walk. Lynzi has only 2 teeth, is starting to crawl around, but she can sure belt out the vocal chords. Jaron was 2 years old on Jan 24th. He is totally in love with Thomas the Train. He is a spunky kid who is all boy, and is already showing Jordan the tricks of the trade. Addi is marching along in 2nd Grade, and is doing great at school and a big help at home. Kolby, my big 5th grader, is awesome! He is a great kid. He got a solo narrator piece at his Christmas concert in December, and is doing great in school. I feel very blessed to have a wonderful life. I hope this newsletter has found everyone slightly warmer than January was. Have a happy and safe spring. Don’t forget we have FREE DP ON CORN AND BEANS ‘til Aug 31st.

Do You Know .......... The annual meeting announcement always brings a few returned envelopes, as stockholders have moved and we have no forwarding address. If you have a current address for any of these people (with our last known address), please call the Bement office (217-678-2261):

Me, with Jordan, Jaron & Linzy

Juanita Alexander, Monticello Orville Benson, Monticello Claude Burk Jr, Mahomet Maxine Clifford, Decatur Grace Crisup, Decatur Betty Danison, Monticello Jack Davis Est c/o Spencer Davis, Raleigh NC Lee Davis Est c/o Iona Davis, Monticello Laverne Gucker, Annapolis MD Mazella Harper, White Heath Mary Kay Hunter, Monticello William Kirkland, Monticello

Pauline Kreutzer, Green Valley AZ Eugene Kneff, Whitewater CO Rodney Liddle, Fort Myers FL Kevin Lubbers, Monticello Charles McIntosh, Monticello Ron Miller, Monticello Patricia Sparks, Decatur Timberlane Trust c/o Don Wilber, Bloomington Triple K Farm, c/o Kathleen Diamant, Madison AL Wallace Farms c/o Steve Wallace, Ottawa John Wileaver, Seymour Burt Wiesener Est, Tuscola FEBRUARY 2014 / topflight newsletter 15


track to the future

by Russel Wright

by Eric Clements


opflight operations crew has been very busy this winter loading out trucks and railcars. It got me to thinking back when I started at Bement Grain and we didn’t own a railcar trackmobile. When we would load cars at Bement we rented a trackmobile from Grand Prairie. This meant that sometimes we had to drive the trackmobile from Tolono. I remembered one time that Bob High was driving it back and the front tie rod broke sending him into the road ditch. Luckily Bob and the trackmobile were okay. I am sure that it was a ride that Bob will never forget. When I started, we could only load 15 cars at Milmine and now we can load 75 car units. Bement could load 50 cars, but we had to have the railroad switch out the first 25 loads with the next 25 empties. This sometimes meant waiting several hours for the railroad to get here. We always knew that every hour we were waiting on the railroad to get

here to perform the switch was an hour we had to work that evening. Topflight has invested a lot of money in upgrading facilities, rail siding tracks and railcar movers. We now have 6 railcar movers of various sizes. We can now load 50 cars in Bement and Monticello in 9 hours and 75 cars at Milmine in 12 hours. This amounts to 200,000 bushels loaded out of Bement or Monticello and 300,000 bushels at Milmine in one day. These investments should help make Topflight profitable for the future. As our customers continue to get better yields in the future these facilities will allow us to reach good markets and load the train units efficiently. I imagine a day when the Topflight employees will say, “Remember when we could only load 75 cars at Milmine?” I am sure there will be bigger opportunities in the future.

National Cooperative Month


ctober was National Cooperative Month. As a cooperative, Topflight Grain joins the nearly 30,000 cooperatives in the nation. There are more than 900 electric co-ops, serving 42 million Americans; 30% of farmers’ products are marketed through more than 3,000 farmer-owned cooperatives in the nation; 10,000 credit unions provide financial services to 84 million members; co-ops also provide services and products for child care, insurance and housing. The cooperative principle traces back to Rochdale England in 1844 to a store begun by the weavers. The guidelines were set up by one of its members, Charles Howarth. Cooperatives continue to be governed by 7 principles: 1. Voluntary and open membership 2. Democratic member control 3. Member’s economic participation

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4. Autonomy and independence 5. Education, Training and information 6. Cooperation among cooperatives 7. Concern for community Some of the familiar national cooperatives are SunKist, Land O’Lakes, Ocean Spray and Sun-Maid. As a member of your Topflight Grain cooperative, you become a member when you deliver grain, you elect the directors who set policy for Topflight Grain, profits are returned to you in the form of patronage dividends, you are informed of policies and practices through meetings, newsletters, the website, and tele-communications, and we participate and support our local communities. It’s a business model that has stood the test of time; most of our local grain cooperatives were formed in the early 1900’s.


nother harvest has come and gone. This year started late and ended the day before Thanksgiving. The grain volumes that your Atwood facility received were 1,090,784 bushels of corn, 423,288 bushels of soybeans, (a record for the Atwood facility) and 85,768 bushels of nongmo beans. The projections for harvest were met and exceeded at 108% corn, 136% beans, and 85% nongmo beans. The old grain dryer did a good job of trying to keep up, with little breakdowns. Bill had really good help this year; Jeremiah Hamilton, the night dryer man; Kory Hodge ran the soybean end; while Cody Jividen and Joe Wise manned the corn pit. A really big Thanks goes to Korey for climbing and checking bins, sometimes 4 or 5 times a day. Also Susan Harshbarger worked in the office keeping everything straight at the scales. We had a few days of long lines for corn, averaging 40 minutes or so. Bill had that old leg going as fast as he could. I know it seems slow when you are sitting behind a semi that has 1100 bu of wet corn, but the leg is pushing the limits; thank goodness it performed like it is supposed to. After harvest, we have been shipping out corn and beans, either to Tate and Lyle and ADM for corn and ADM for beans. We had the open house on December 19, with 14 attending. A special thank you goes to my wife Debby for making all those delicious goodies, and it is most appreciated. The holidays went well, and now the New Year brings more of the same, shipping out grain. However, the winter blasts of really cold temps and the wind chills below zero have been havoc on equipment, as well as personnel. Oh, did I mention all the snow? We are really having an old fashioned winter. What happened to global warming? I hope all the snowbirds in the warmer climates appreciate what

they have. Oh well, this is Illinois after all, and only the strong will prevail. Winter months bring middle school sports. Granddaughters Kady and Tatum are playing volleyball. Kady is also a cheerleader for the basketball teams. They can’t wait for the volleyball matches to begin. Zac, our oldest grandson is a freshman in high school; where has the time gone? He is taking drivers ed this semester, anticipating getting his driver’s license next year. Maybe Debby and I can get him to drive us to ball games. The other grandchildren, Kendyl and Jaxon, as well as Kodee and Rylee, our extended granddaughters, are doing really good in school at Gibson City. Finally in closing, I want to thank all the Atwood customers, as well as all the Topflight customers, for doing business with us. Without you, our company wouldn’t be able to survive. So think Spring when you’re looking at all the snow and cold temps. You will be back in the fields before you know it.

FEBRUARY 2014 / topflight newsletter 17

300 BUSHEL CORN by Adam Jackson


t’s a little bit later than normal, but I thought I would give a brief harvest recap for Monticello. We took in a total of 492,404 bushels of beans from September 23rd through November 11th. We had to ship out 107,884 bushels to make sure we could accommodate all of the beans that were delivered. We took in 2,044,617 bushels of corn from September 16th through November 26th. We had to ship 1,054,018 bushels of corn during harvest. Overall it was one of the smoothest harvests I have been a part of. Even with the big crop, we never had much of a line nor had to close early. We had just enough rains to give us time to keep up with corn drying and shipments. We also had great part-time help this year, which is always very important! So far this winter, things at the office have been fairly uneventful. With the exception of USDA report day in January, there has been very little interest in selling grain. Derrick and I have had some crop insurance claims on corn, but they were mostly small. We have all of those wrapped up and are moving on to the 2014 insurance year. There are several changes in crop insurance this year, so if you have any questions as you are signing up, feel free

to stop by and ask Derrick or I. We have also been spending quite a bit of time working on marketing programs for 2014. There has been a lot of interest the last few months in some programs that haven’t been used for several years. The signup for the Average Pricing Program and the pool were around double what they were last year. We have also booked several accumulators and have other marketing programs available if you are interested in trying something other than regular cash sales for the 2014 crop year. You can stop by any branch to get information on the various marketing programs, or we would be happy to help you here in the Monticello office. I don’t have too much to report on the home front. I have still been working on a few projects around the house. It seems to be a never ending battle! My wife Lindsay has started working on her master’s degree at U of I in addition to her job at Pioneer, so she has been very busy. We are both eagerly waiting for spring so we can get back to the outdoor activities that we both enjoy! I hope everyone has a great winter and a safe spring planting season!

10 Ways Marrying a Farmer Will Change Your Life As you know, there is SO much of everything available on social media, now. Amy monitors, follows and re-tweets several sources to provide information to you, on the Twitter account on our grain market page. In her searching for information, she found Jenny Dewey Rohrich, who posted the “10 Ways Marrying a Farmer Will Change your Life”. This is a summary of her comments. We’re sure most of our farm wives will agree with each of the 10: 10. You will become very good at directions, landmarks, and where people live. 9. A majority of the conversations during your meal time will be about farming.

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8. Date nights during planting and harvest time = time in the tractor or combine with your husband. 7. You will find random things in your laundry. 6. Don’t plan on eating at a certain time every night or day with your husband. 5. You can never RSVP “yes” to events during planting, spraying or harvest because you never really know IF you will be available. 4. Your trips out of town usually involve some sort of farm business. 3. You become very good at just going with the flow. . . . Like I said earlier, farm life is unpredictable. 2. You will become a glass half full person in a hurry. 1. You appreciate Mother Nature in way you’d never thought possible.

PIERSON by Gloria Litwiller What a winter so far!! As the saying goes “If you don’t like Illinois weather just wait 10 minutes and it will change”. Here are the winter predictions from the Farmer’s Almanac: Snowiest part of winter will be late January and the coldest will be early and mid-January with the same in February. During our little January blizzard, I kept hearing the younger generations talking about how bad it was. The older generations kept saying, “You haven’t seen anything like it was in the 70s”. Here is some information on our weather records. This information is from the State Climatologist Office of Illinois: Highest temp – 117 in July of 1954 Lowest temp - -36 in 1999 (this is not wind chill temps) Most rainfall in a 24 hour period – 16.94 inches in Aurora in July 1996 Most precip in a year – 74.58 inches in 1950 Most snow in a single event – 37.8 inches in February 1900 Most snow for a single winter – 105.1 in the winter of 1978-1979. Just a little interesting tidbit. Now, if I can remember what happened since the last time I wrote this article. I do remember there was a harvest. Harvest started at the same time for corn and beans on 9/23 and finished up at about the same time on 11/25. Harvest ended a little later this year, but it also didn’t get started till the second half of September. It seemed to be a fairly smooth harvest. We did have to close early one day. You won’t believe this…. it was for BEANS and not corn. That has never happened in my 15 years. Pierson broke a record for bean receipts in one day with 94,120 bushels of beans. You can see several Topflight Grain records were broken this year further back in the newsletter on the Harvest Receipts Page. It has been a rough few months around my household. Rob’s dad, Sonny, passed away in Sep-

tember of Invasive West Nile, then his Aunt Mary and then my sister, Brenda, on Christmas night. Everyone and everything else are good. The grandsons are still in hockey. Randy became a step-grandpa again, to a little girl this time, Laney Rose, on October 10th. Randy’s Dad, Jerry, passed away in December. Jerry worked for United Prairie as an operator for many years. Chris has had a quiet home front. We wish Dave Conlin, former manager of Unity Grain, a speedy recovery, after a slip on the ice.

We welcome Laney Rose to Pierson. Laney is Randy’s step-granddaughter.

FEBRUARY 2014 / topflight newsletter 19



by Jon Carr

by Vanessa Stinson


he harvest of 2013 is now in the books. Your Laplace facility was a little short on its projections, but still took 637,000 bushels of beans and 2,930,767 bushels of corn. All in all, the harvest went pretty smooth. We would like to say thank you to everyone who made it a good one. We are busy shipping out grain this winter. The processors have been keeping weekend hours so we have been working weekends to get the grain moved to them. We all enjoyed the holidays. In the Stinson household, the girls and their families all made it home.

This was our grandson Brogan’s first Christmas. He and our granddaughter, Brynnan, had a blast opening presents and playing with the boxes. It’s funny how kids love boxes instead of the toy itself. We hope your holidays were as memorable as ours. This winter has all of us wishing for an early spring. It’s funny how a few days make a big difference: one Sunday you are watching the snow and the temperatures come down and the wind blowing and the next Sunday you’re outside enjoying the 40 plus degree weather. It could only happen in Illinois. May your spring planting be a successful one.

Brynnan, Brogan & Chloe

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hat a harvest we had this year in Milmine! We set both daily and total harvest receiving records for our location for corn and beans this fall! Several other facilities also broke receiving records for beans in what turned out to be a surprisingly good bean crop, considering the lack of rainfall late in the summer. In addition to taking in over 800,000 bushels of beans, we also received 154,000 bushels of non-gmo beans. This was the first year that we have taken non-gmo beans in Milmine and we will continue to do so in the future. Sign up for next year’s non-gmo program was closed soon after it was initially offered; we saw increased interest in the program from many producers. This added an extra burden on Rick and Chris outside since we regularly had 4 dumps running and the ground pile to keep an eye on. They did a great job handling all the grain, keeping lines short, and making sure we always had enough room to stay open. Doing all this with what seems to be a revolving door of seasonal employees is to be commended. I once again had great help in the office this fall. Becki Durbin and Kim Eldred kept trucks rolling across the scale at a good pace. The addition of the outbound scale across the street really helped speed things up and quite a few farmers commented on how much they liked it. Needless to say, that with the record numbers we had, all the bins and the ground pile were full of grain. Since the end of harvest we have shipped out a good amount of grain to processors and now have plenty of room to take in what was stored in the farmers’ bins. This year we will ship the majority of our grain by rail. We have

shipped most of our corn by rail the last couple of years, but this year we have several bean trains as well. The way things are looking now, we will have nearly all of the beans shipped out by the end of January! On another note, I am now able to settle grain and print checks right here in the Milmine office. This is the first time that this service has been offered out of the office here, and many of our customers are still unaware of it. So if you deliver grain to Milmine, and it would be more convenient for you to do your business through this office, then come on in or call, I will do my best to help you! It won’t be long before the snow and bitter cold of this winter are behind us. With what Mother Nature has dealt us this winter, I’m sure everyone will be ready for spring and the field work that comes along with it. I’ll be looking forward to welcoming a niece around the first week of May. My sister, Sarah, and her husband, Mike, will make wonderful parents. I know my nephew Easton will be happy to have a cousin to torment, I mean, to play with when the family gets together. I hope you have all had a great start to the New Year!

FEBRUARY 2014 / topflight newsletter 21




by Louie Tieman

t’s been 10 years since I retired and I asked Pam if I could write an article for the newsletter. She said sure, so I guess I will tell about my farming in “REDNECK” country in Tennessee. I was fortunate to meet my neighbor who is a farmer. He owns about 600 acres and helps the Jones boys, (Sims) boys farms. I can tell you one thing, the farmers at Topflight Grain Co. don’t know how good they have it. The farmers up North complain if they have to take their grain too far. Well, the farmers down here take it to “SHACKS”, as you might say. There are no concrete elevators down here unless you go to the river 30 miles away. I can tell you one thing, THE SHACKS “grainery” down here has been wore out for a few years. Down here they call them “Grainerys” instead of elevators. It took me awhile to figure out what they were talking about. I said, “You mean the elevators?” Yep, that was it. Richard Wilkerson was to become my best farming buddy because he thought I was real smart and could tell him all about the markets. I told him I remember when the Pope was in Chicago and the markets closed at 10:30 am because of the traffic. I have never forgotten that. I was literally shoved into the cab of my 8420, to run the auger cart. I hadn’t been in a tractor for 6 years. He said it would come back to me. He showed me the key to start it and the 3 switches to run everything and he jumped out of the cab and said, “You are on your own.” They have FM radios, so I told him I was as nervous as a wh_ _ e in church. Little did I know that Alan and Keith’s Mom had a FM radio she listened to! I told Richard I was not getting in a hurry because I was not about to tear up a $200,000 piece of equipment. So I took my time and it came back to me slowly. There is an alcohol plant (ethanol) 25 miles away that they haul corn to. I went into the elevator the first time and saw the semis loading out corn. When he pulled on the scales I said, “Is that right?” The scales topped out at 108,000 lbs. I said, “He’s not taking that is he?” Yep, and I saw one loaded to the 22 FEBRUARY 2014 / topflight newsletter

Takes a long time for that green combine to empty!! gills and he had on about 110,000 lbs. They don’t seem to worry about their weight as much down here. The “Grainerys” here are privately owned as they buy grain for the hog industry. Some of the largest hog operations are in western Tennessee. It seems as though the fields are chopped up a lot with ditches or creeks running thru them. The one grainery is a worn out SHACKS, that is opened and closed by a metal bar. Most grainerys are anywhere from 20 - 40 miles away. I talked to one farmer who even hauled a load to Bunge at Cairo, about 70 miles away. So those Yankee farmers at Topflight Grain Co. have it made. I posted a note on Facebook that said ,”Milmine, the elevator that LOUIE built”. Rosie Brandenburg said the “Flagship of elevators.” After all these years I still miss my Farmers. Well, I just wanted to give you some REDNECK Farming tips. In the picture, you can see why the green combine takes a long time to empty. I couldn’t believe Mr. Alan Sims would do that, and Keith Sims has all the business lines. They run like a well-oiled machine, very smoothly. Hope you enjoyed my Red- My friend, Richard neck lesson in Farming.

by Dana Shull


et another interesting harvest, so I am looking forward to see what the 2014 harvest will bring us! We are staying busy here at the Maroa elevator with receiving grain off the farm, and hauling out. It will soon be time to pick up the piles of grain from the bunkers and flats. We had a nice turn out for the Christmas Open house. It is one of my favorite times of year. It’s always nice to see everyone and enjoy some good food. The Women’s Program is coming this March, so we ladies of Topflight are already busy planning for that. I am attending a Mid-Co Commodities Winter Outlook meeting soon as well. On the home front... My two oldest children, Zane and Ceara, continue to stay busy with their jobs. My son, Holden, is finishing up his Senior year of High School. He received some football awards from Cumberland: Most Valuable Player, Best Running Back, and Little Illini All-Conference award for Running Back. Holden’s Senior night game was a very special moment for me. I will always remember him walking me out onto the field. My youngest daugh-

ter, Paige, is doing well in 4th grade. She recently made the tri-honors list at school, so that was a great accomplishment for her. She continues to be involved with Girl Scouts, and enjoys spending time with some of her good friends. My family & I would like to wish you & yours health and prosperity for the New Year!

Holden and me, Senior night

January snowfall at our office in Maroa. The snowflakes were HUGE!!!

Paige FEBRUARY 2014 / topflight newsletter 23

Our Congratulations to ... Ethan Morton, elected to the Bement Homecoming Court; Johnnie Carr, who celebrated his 90th birthday in October; Marie Evans, 95 years old in October; Butch Fisher, 70 years old in October; and married to Sherlyn for 45 years in November; Sabrina Tucker-Hinton, Bement High School salutatorian; Alyssa Hendrix & Anna Hendrix, co-valedictorians of Bement High School; Andrew Hiser and Heidi Brown, married in June; Nick Appleby, Atwood-Hammond salutatorian;

Our Congratulations to ...

Monticello FFA members, Cory Magsamen, Shane Sinclair, Andrea McCollum and Elizabeth Miller, who earned their State FFA degrees;

Megan Magsamen, member of the Monticello Magic 16U softball team, placing 2nd at the NSA Class A World Series Qualifier;

Kaitlin Magsamen, one of the top 10 FFA Section leaders in Illinois;

Justin Klein, chosen to attend the American Legion Premier Boys State at Eastern Illinois University;

Dr. John Sochor, chosen as Grand Marshall of the Fat Hill Fest;

Richard & Judy Tilton married 50 years in July;

Jason Jennings and Catherine Riordan, married in July;

Dale & Margie Wade, married 60 years in August; Sam Dick, 80 years old in August;

Steve & Donna Walsh, married 25 years in June; Haley Briggs, on the Dean’s List at SIU-Edwardsville in the Spring 2013 Semester; Ann Hertz, Elaine Beazly, Carol Stoddard, John Hendrix, and Dean Beazly honored with Paul Harris Fellows awards or Honorary Paul Harris Fellows in the Monticello Rotary Club;

John Hendrix, celebrating 40 years with Country Financial;

Jan & Dale Riggins, married 60 years in July; Freeman & Lucille Wildman, married 65 years in July;

The State Bank of Bement, celebrating 100 years on January 9, 2014. Several events were hosted, including open house, where many employees and customers were attired as in days gone by; Bill & Marilyn Sago, married 60 years last June; and both celebrating their 80th birthdays;

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Emily Bakken and Corey Zelhart, married in June;

Samuel & Kim Brandenburg, proud parents of Collin Samuel; proud grandparents are Sam & Rosie Brandenburg and Steve & Kay Beuttel; proud greatgrandmother is Naomi Brandenburg;

Mick Gallivan (winner of “Millionaire for a Day”), Austin Foran, Ken Wright, Peggy Wells, Tabi Elder, Juanita Jennings, Gary Shaffer, Mary Lou Mulvaney, Kim Klein, and Kent LeFever. --Photo provided by Southern Piatt Record Herald--

Arlene Totten, celebrating her 102nd birthday, with Sam Brandenburg & Naomi Brandenburg; Megan Magsamen, crowned Miss Piatt County; Rolland Malone, 80 years old in July;

Nicolle & Kyle Shay, proud parents of Brogan; proud grandparents are Keith & Vanessa Stinson and Dan & Judy Shay; proud greatgrandparents are John & Judy Cain; proud greatgrandmothers are Glenda Stinson and Mary Helen Kikolla;

Bryce & Deborah Reifsteck, proud parents of Sofia; proud grandparents are Jack & Mary Appleby and Doug & Jody Reifsteck; proud great-grandparents are Pat Appleby, Mary Negangard and Bill Negangard; Joan Randall, 80 years old in August; Larry & Sue Albro, married 50 years in August;

Richard & Shirley Wallace, married 50 years in August;

Roy & Mona Babcock, married 70 years in August;

Arnold Schultz, celebrating his 80th birthday last summer;

George & Sandy Muirheid, married 50 years in August;

Members of Phyllis Hendrickson family, honored as Grand Marshalls of the Apple Dumpling parade;

Jo Redman, 90 years old in September;

Ron & Charlotte Eagan, married 60 years in August;

Day Angus Farm, named Herdsman of the Year at the Illinois State Fair Roll of Victory Angus Show; Gladys Baker, 101 years young on September 22; Jeanne Jones, 85 years old in September; Marilyn Timmerman, 75 years old in October; FEBRUARY 2014 / topflight newsletter 25

Our Congratulations to ... Garold & Joyce Hilligoss, married 50 years in September; Tom & Martha Leeper, married 25 years in December; Daci Hermann & Troy Schmidt, engaged to be married in May;

Donald Pflum, remembered by Bob Fallstrom, as “The Miracle Man”, an outstanding athlete from Cerro Gordo; John, Steve & Dave Wentworth, mentioned in “A Look Back” in the Decatur Herald. It was 1991 and John was perched on top of a grain truck, communicating via radio. Steve commented that the crop was about 2 weeks early, with slightly lower corn yields of 145-150 bu/acre;

Our Congratulations to ... Jason Goodner, recipient of 2012-13 Fire Fighter of the Year award for the Seymour Fire Department, presented by Fire Chief Mark Nibling;

Jon & Jenny Carroll-Bobell, parents of Frances Jane; proud grandparents are Dan & Barb Carroll and Bo & Mary Bobell;

Alice Briggs, recently celebrating her 80th birthday; Carol Otis, recently celebrating an 80th birthday; Dale & Joyce Bennett, married 60 years;

Allan & Maria Perry, proud parents of Nolan Frederick, born in October. Proud grandparents are Fred & Janet Perry; proud great-grandmother is Genevieve Perry; Lance Muirheid, selected as a member of the National Society of High School Scholars; Tracy Ferrill, owner of Basket Case Catering, featured on the front page of the Decatur Herald in December; Lauren Jordan & Clinton Foran, engaged to be married in August; Roger Oliver, retired from Van Horn, Inc. after 41 years; Robert Kingston, featured on the front page of the Decatur Herald in November, showing his furniture restoration talents; Dick & Viola Agee, married 50 years in December;

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Richard & Beulah Robson, married 65 years in September. To celebrate, their children, Duane & Marlena Robson and Linda & Charlie Rumler treated them to a day trip to the Caterpillar Museum in Peoria. Our thanks to Linda for the great picture of her parents. Stephanie Briggs & Chris Short, parents of a new son, born in July; proud grandparents are Greg & Vickie Briggs; proud great-grandparents are Roger & Alice Briggs; Grant & Cassy Briggs, proud parents of a new son, born in September; proud grandparents are Greg & Vickie Briggs; proud great-grandparents are Roger & Alice Briggs;

Heather Young, mother of Bronson Jagger, born in August; Proud grandparents are Roger & Sherryl Young;

Sid & Debi James, grandparents to their 4th grandson, Braxton Alexander, born to their daughter Andi and her husband, David;

Grandpa Dan

Grandma Barb

Norma Fay, celebrating her 80th birthday; Reed & Joanne Fombelle, proud grandparents of Ian Himes; FEBRUARY 2014 / topflight newsletter 27

Grain Prices & Grain Sales Mary Ahlrich Janice Bales Dorothy Baxley Elizabeth Bennett John Binder Jean Black Rita Blickhan Bob Brown Sally Brown Lois Byerly Bill Cahill Bill Caryle Roy Carter William Clark Virginia Bear Clarke Helen Clarkson Mary Cullison Kayleigh Kaufman-Coppess Mary Daily Dean DeVore Jerry Drake Thelma Dubson Donna Edwards June Elliott Phylis Emberton Carolyn Ewen Ruby Fay Delores Ferrill Jackie Fisher Pat Ford Jan Fristoe Charles Hamilton Laura Handley Kate Hanner

Earl Harshbarger Kyle Hendrix John Herbst Howard Hite Patricia Hogan Judith Jacobs Frank Jean Marlene Johnson Helen Kaufman Marlin Krall Ed Lamb Corwin Leeper Mary Ann Lehman Carol “Sonny” Litwiller Dolores Maden Catherine Mahannah Todd Massey Evelyn Mauck Robert McCarty Lola McKibben Bob Medaris Rolland Miller Dwight Miner Jack Miner Brenda Munson Judith Nelson Neil Noland Roberta Odle Donald Pflum Ivan Porter Bob Postlewait Arnold “Butch” Raiha Bob Randall Robert Dale Redman

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Evelyn Reed Nancy Remmers Florence Rhoades Janet Richardson James Ralph Rigg David Rohde “JR” Richey Bill Roberts Hazel Roos Stanley Schultz Jack Scott Don Severns Ellen Sinkosky Lonnie Smith Beverly Stine Martha Suhl Glenn Thompson Morris Valentine James Vanatta Clark Waldmier Duane Welch Mary Ann Welch Diane Wentworth-Jenson Earl Whitfield LaVerne Whitfield Lisa Wilson Margie Withers Nadine Workman Mark Younger John M Zelhart

As of January 1, Topflight Grain had purchased: 60% of the 2013 fall crop at an average price of $4.27. That compares to about 68% of the crop purchased at the end of 2012. 78% of the 2013 fall soybeans at an average price of $12.84. That compares to about 60% for the crop purchased at the end of 2012. Less than 1.7% of the 2014 corn crop at an average price of $4.48. That compares to about 3% of the crop purchased at this time in 2013. Less than 1.3% of the 2014 bean crop at an average price of $11.39. That compares to about 2% of the beans purchased at this time in 2013.

. . . . And all others who have lost loved ones. FEBRUARY 2014 / topflight newsletter 29

Field of Dreams


o a lot of farmers in central Illinois, a “Field of Dreams,” could be described as a field of corn that has excellent stalk quality with a yield of 250 and the price sitting at $6.00. To one Moultrie County farmer, the phrase “Field of Dreams” takes on an entirely different meaning. Bryan Yoder, a 3rd generation farmer, has always been a big dreamer. He decided eight years ago to take a step of faith and turn a dream into a reality in order to help the children of the surrounding farming communities. Bryan’s two daughters, Alissa and Courtney, were competing in power tumbling and trampoline in Shelbyville, and he began cultivating an interest in the fast growing sport. He quickly became fascinated with the way that one sport could combine strength, endurance, and coordination with more important life lessons such as building self­esteem, learning to set and achieve goals, and improving overall wellness. In most situations, gymnastics and tumbling is a sport reserved for kids living in cities. Gym owners traditionally place their facilities in highly populated areas in order to build big businesses. Bryan decided that the kids in our area deserved the opportunity to participate in such a rewarding sport, and the passion to help children continued to grow in his heart. So, instead of building a business in a city, Bryan did what any man with a farmer’s mindset would do, and he planted his business in the middle of a cornfield. Prairieland Tumbling & Trampoline opened in May of 2006 with 30 kids signed up and with one simple goal: make a positive impact on as many children as God would allow. Bryan’s daughter, Alissa, became the first athlete from Prairieland to make the USTA National Team, and the standard of excellence for the gym has continued from there. Today, Prairieland is home to over 120 athletes from all over the area. Bryan and his staff have coached numerous elite athletes, have had teams win multiple awards at

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National competitions across the United States, and have been privileged to help countless numbers of children grow and learn, right before their eyes. This fall, three more of Prairieland’s “home grown” athletes will represent Prairieland in the USTA National Team Trials with high hopes of making the national team, just like his daughter did five years ago. The gym has had two kids make the national team and is hoping to add to that number this year. Bryan has also had the opportunity to coach upper level athletes at clinics in the Chicago area, and was honored to be one of the coaches for a national team training camp in Florida. To Bryan, there is no greater gift than to be able to be a positive influence in a child’s life. He finds great joy in planting seeds of encouragement, kindness, and compassion in young lives and watching the effects take root. So, during the day you can often find Bryan in a Case IH tractor, planting corn or harvesting crops, but in the evenings you’ll find him in his own Field of Dreams, impacting children and cultivating a legacy of love for as many people as he can.

The Prairieland Tumbling and Trampoline team.

Scholarships & Internships


oday’s job market is tough, we all know this. First, there are fewer jobs as companies have learned to run lean and be successful, and sometime more productive, with fewer employees. Second, the best of the best from all fields of studies, college majors, and industries are fighting it out crossing stereotypical industry boundaries as companies are trying to find individuals with the skills and talent necessary to move their businesses forward and the competition between industries is steep. The Agriculture Industry recognizes this difficulty in obtaining quality candidates and is enthusiastic about supporting students that are dedicated to agriculture and seeking a higher education. In doing so, Topflight Grain Cooperative is part of the Grain and Feed Association of Illinois’s scholarship program, giving opportunities to Illinois students who have a sincere interest in the grain and feed segment of the Agriculture Industry. There are two scholarships offered. 1.) Simple, straightforward Monetary Scholarship. It varies per year but ~$2,000 for a University student and ~$1,000 for Junior College student. 2.) Industry Immersion Scholarship Program. This is a scholarship/internship combined program for students interested in pursuing a career in the grain and feed industry (not production agriculture). The scholarship varies per year but was $3,500 for 2013. The internship consists of students working at an Illinois elevator/coop/grain handling facility/etc. for 1 day a month for 8 months, as well as attending a Leadership Seminar during the summer. This brief internship gives students a chance to get a taste of what actually goes on at these facilities day to day and helps them determine where they feel they would best fit in within the industry. (Not to mention giving them great industry networking contacts and some experience to add to their resume!) This past year, Topflight Grain had two interns: Ashley Jennings (Bradley University, Grain Accounting focus) and Jacob Fricke (University of Illinois, Grain Merchandising focus). I think the overall experience is best summed up by Jacob: “The knowledge I gained from this hands-on experience is incomparable to what I have learned in the classroom.” This program gets students out of the classroom and

into an actual business situation, giving students a glimpse of what the industry is about. If you know of a student studying agriculture or interested the Grain and Feed Industry at an Illinois University or Junior College, please contact us or go to the Grain and Feed Association of Illinois website for further information: Applications are generally due in the fall.

Ashley Jennings, our intern, weighed trucks and sampled inbound grain.

Our intern, Jacob Fricke, joined our crop tour in August. FEBRUARY 2014 / topflight newsletter 31

Above: Jessie Burgess, charter member of Bement Grain Company.

Above: Dave Devore interned with us that spring. Below: Nadine Funk & Judy Gregory, flying out to the Farmland Women’s Discovery Conference.

Left: Pam & Delight Wier, speaker at the 1984 women’s program.

Above: Julie Walsh.

Above: Harold Robinson & Ray Walsh.

Left: Joann Bentley & Sarah Larson

Left: Michael Ayers, enjoying popcorn in the Bement office.


REMEMBER WITH US… (was 30 years really that long ago??)

Right: Joyce Hendrix was one of the ladies who cross-stitched many “I (heart) Bement Grain” for the 1984 womens’ program.

Left: Vernon Miller is assisted by Harf Remmers with his fuel tax refund. Right: Henry Larson & Cora Marshall, returning to the Voorhies office, where Henry installed the very first ever pneumatic probe.

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Above: Our first desktop computer!!

Above: Richard & Bill Larimore pick up a grain check from Pam.

Right: Stub Evans, “mayor of LaPlace”.

Right: Henry Woodyard & Earl Whitfield. Earl passed away recently. He celebrated his 100th birthday about a year ago.

FEBRUARY 2014 / topflight newsletter 33

Tragic Times

It seems like we’ve lost too many friends and neighbors in the Topflight community lately. Each passing affects many people; our rural communities are strong, friendly and supportive during those times. Here, are two of those community stories that occurred this past fall.

John Zelhart John & Imogene Zelhart have lived forever in the Maroa area, being very active members of church and community. They raised three sons, John, David and James, who have carried on the family farm business, and they too, are very active in their community. John died this harvest season. Harvest activities stopped for the Zelhart families during this sad time. On November 9th, friends and neighbors brought combines, trucks Verneil Legget, dumping beans on his auger cart. and manpower to finish bean harvest for the Zelharts. 18,000 bushels of beans were combined and delivered to the Maroa elevator in a short 3 hours. It was truly the kindness and neighborliness that our rural communities are known for. We extend our thoughts to the Zelharts, and thank the neighbors who assisted in the bean harvest. Dave Braden Tom Riley Some of those neighbors were Jim Stoutenborough, Billy Voorhees, Bill Voorhees, Bob Turney, Craig Hill, Tom Riley, Verneil Leggett, Lori Leggett, Steve Halicki, Boots Fenton, Dan Marsh, Richard Hanes, Tom Fogerson, David Braden, Larry Groves, Wayne Kissinger, Ed Mayfield, Steve Mayfield, David Hoffman, Terry Hoffman, Doug Adloff, Jeremiah Hoffman, Nick Hoffman Bob Turney Troy Stoutenborough, Tyler Stoutenborough, Dick Brelsfoard, Gary Brelsfoard, Don Westerman, Bob Roberts, Zachary Hyde, Ken Boyd, Clark Weston, Tom Stoutenborough, Steve Stapleton, Aaron Hill, Jerry Wallace and Nick Hoffman. Thanks, too, to Tom & Jim Stoutenborough for sending pictures, names and the story.

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Jim Stoutenborough

kyle hendrix Kyle, too, lived his entire life in his rural community; his entire life was only 30 years. He has always farmed in the Bement area with his dad, grandfathers, brother, and uncle, was a truck driver in the off-season, and was a wonderful husband to Kristin and father to Kaleb and Khloe. As a tribute to Kyle, the young-farmer community organized a tractor-cade, lining the highway north of Bement with tractors, a few combines, and semi trucks. It was a sight to behold, and a great honor to a fine young man who touched so many lives. Jake Moore organized the tractor-cade, with the assistance of many friends in the community. Part of the crew who organized the tractor-cade were Scott Allison, Jake Moore, Dan LeCrone, Ryan Meece, Scott Jean, Doug LeCrone, Dan Foran, Kyle Meece, Jim Harrington, John Cahill, Chris Robeck, Chad Larimore, Terry Lawson, Matt Cahill, Nathan Bartley. Not pictured - Cary Hinton, Brant Sietz, Dan Larson, John Adcock

Semi tractors lined up.

Kyle, Kristin, Kaleb & Khloe Red tractors lined up the highway.

Brother Andy, and Kyle

Green tractors lined up the highway. FEBRUARY 2014 / topflight newsletter 35

Friends & Family

We’re proud of our Atwood-Pierson farmers, the Henningsens, who are also popular country-western singers in Nashville. Brian, Clara and Aaron stopped to visit with Rajah Katie Kerns.

Pat Fay & Gloann Walsh, on the Bement Alumni Homecoming float. (Peggy Wells photo)

Friends & Family

Jack & Mary Appleby

Roger Lewis, Aaron Hill, Jim Mattingly, & Bill Roberts

Tim Schable We had to show Grady, with both of his grandpas: Don Dyson and Larry Dyson delivered trays of yummy goodies, made by Larry’s wife Linda, to the Maroa elevator.

Grandpa Lynn and Grady

Grandpa Bill and Grady

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Jim Murphy’s granddaughter, Madeline, and the lucky leprechaun he brought her from the Notre Dame game.

Liam Bruntjen

Mike Myers & Harold Nickey

Our Topflight Grain snowman, built by Cayden Brittenham and his mom. Cayden chose the Topflight Grain hat & the scarf for his snowman.

FEBRUARY 2014 / topflight newsletter 37

Friends & Family

Bill Gallagher, with Sackagawea and William Clark, at the re-enactment of Custer’s Last Stand. Bill & Gene Schnierle attended the re-enactment on the Crowe Reservation in Montana, last summer.

Dick & Bonnie Thomas made many good friends during their years with Topflight Grain. Recently, the retired managers and spouses met for some visiting. The managers included: Front row – Dean Chesnut, Bill Sago, Paul Johnson, Dave Prahl. Middle row – Dave Hastings, John Cummings, Dick Thomas, Fred Gent, Bill Killian, Don McNeely. Back row – Delmar Castor, Dave Conlin, Leon McClain, Wayne Davis, Rich Connell, Les Busboom.

Friends & Family

Stan & Miriam Seevers John Clark and his granddaughter, Blakely Conner

Ken Smith, Don Greene, Fred Perry, Jason Perry

Rick Beauchamp

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Rafael and Rafael Jr. Rodriguez, from Panama, riding in the combine with Joe Pharis. The Rodriguez family is a Christian group traveling for the organization Reaching Panama for Jesus.

Drew’s first grain check, hauling in with Grandpa Bill. Ken Kresin

Jan Lommle FEBRUARY 2014 / topflight newsletter 39

Friends & Family

Reed Curran

Denise Docherty, Todd Thomas, Annie Docherty

Dan Gregory

Friends & Family

Harriett & George Hiser

Johnny & Karen Stinson

Open house at Seymour.

Elsie & Don Westerman, Deena & Zach Hyde

George Nord, Louie Stoerger, Garrett Stoerger, Dan Smith

Rick Stone, John Boehm, Gary Turner

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Dan & Emerson Larson

Vicki & Lynn Larson

Duane Brian FEBRUARY 2014 / topflight newsletter 41

Friends & Family

Community Garden Project By Cheryl Day


ver the course of the summer, the Cerro Gordo FFA Chapter sponsored a community garden that was a part of the Land O’Lakes Answer Plot® Community Garden Program. While this was the FFA chapter’s first year participating, the Community Garden Program has been going on for three years now. The community garden was one of 21 across the country and located at Van Horn Inc. in Cerro Gordo, Illinois. The garden had various vegetables being grown including

sweet corn, squash, and cucumbers. A little over 5,000 pounds of vegetables were donated to various food pantries in Cerro Gordo, Decatur, and the surrounding areas. The Land O’Lakes Answer Plot® Community Garden Program has given Cerro Gordo FFA members not only the opportunity to learn about gardening, but also about how to work in a group setting. Along with community service and the ability to help others, FFA members have gained communication skills, and they have learned about leadership and responsibility.

Pat Malone, Richard Kaufman, Edwin Wallace

Roger Harris

Members of the Cerro Gordo FFA chapter plant the Community Garden Project.

Gene Weir, Paul Quick, Colleen Weir & Helen Jones Don Cordts with Landon & Emma

Doesn’t it seem more and more that physicians are running their practices like an assembly line? Here’s what happened to Kevin:

Jason Lubbers

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Jim Bennett, Josh Lieb, Mike Bennett

Products from the Garden Project are harvested for the local food pantries.

Kevin walked into a doctor’s office and the receptionist asked him what he had. Kevin said: ‘Shingles.’ So she wrote down his name, address, medical insurance number and told him to have a seat. Fifteen minutes later a nurse’s aide came out and asked Kevin what he had.... Kevin said, ‘Shingles.’ So she wrote down his height, weight, a complete medical history and told Kevin to wait in the examining room.

A half hour later a nurse came in and asked Kevin what he had. Kevin said, ‘Shingles.’ So the nurse gave Kevin a blood test, a blood pressure test, an electrocardiogram, and told Kevin to take off all his clothes and wait for the doctor. An hour later the doctor came in and found Kevin sitting patiently in the nude and asked Kevin what he had. Kevin said, ‘Shingles.’ The doctor asked, ‘Where?’ Kevin said, ‘Outside on the truck. Where do you want me to unload ‘em??’ FEBRUARY 2014 / topflight newsletter 43

ALWAYS EDUCATIONAL We may take the 2nd grade class out of school, but they keep learning. Each year, we “adopt” the 2nd grade class in Bement. We begin the new school year with a tour of the elevator. We meet the class and talk about farming, and the services we provide to the farmers as a grain elevator. The young students then tour the office to see how the scales and computer record the weight of the truck and the name of the farmer. We show them the grain probe and how the moisture meter works. In the elevator, Jim and Brad show them the “map” of the elevator where they record what commodities are in each bin and how full the bins are. They describe how the temperature of the grain is taken and recorded, and how the bearings are monitored. The tour concludes with popcorn for all! In November, we took a trip to Curtis Orchard. The class enjoyed the playyard, then went into the “school” at the Orchard, where they learned all The rotating tray allows the ap- about the honey ples to be sorted, after they’ve bees that pollinate the apples been sized and washed. and pumpkins grown at the Orchard. They are told about the 3 kinds of bees in a hive, how the honey is gathered and how to safely brush off a honey bee that has landed on your arm. In Everyone had fun in the the backroom, playyard. the apple sorter is

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demonstrated and the processing of apple cider is described. And what would a trip to Curtis Orchard be without apple cider and apple donuts? Those two treats concluded our trip to the Orchard. Right before Christmas break, the class returned to our office for a Christmas party. As the students enjoyed cupcakes and drinks, we heard the sound of sleigh bells and Santa visited with each one of a jolly “ho-hoho”. Santa arrived the students.


Amy’s trick-or-treaters.

early, with a little time to spare, and visited with each child. While the others listened, we heard many requests, often for gifts for oth- Two of the 2nd grade students er family mem- colored pictures in their activity bers. Santa had a book, a gift from Santa. gift for each one, then left with a Merry Christmas wish for all. We had to share parts of the letters the 2nd grade class wrote to Santa: “I was good this year. I am very chatty in school, though.” “I have been good and sometimes bad.” “I want to tell you to have a fun Xmas. I will also tell you to eat all of the cookies.” “Can you tell the reindeer “hi” please?” “If you could get some stuff for my dog that would be great.” We look forward to more adventures with the 2nd grade class this spring.

It was a fun Halloween for many of our Topflight kids!!

Spiderman, aka Drew Larimore, visited us in Bement.

Morgan & Camden Casteel, grand champions of the Hammond Halloween contest.

Paige Shull

Mylin Bruhn, second place winner in the Monticello Halloween costumes & Mabry Bruhn, third place winner in the Monticello Halloween costumes.

Other Halloween winners included Glenda Bates, Daphne Walsh & GloAnn Walsh and Olin & Elias Walsh. FEBRUARY 2014 / topflight newsletter 45

Topflight Golf Outing By Denny Hill


opflight Grain held the semi-annual golf outing on July 11th at the Hickory Point Golf Course in Forsyth. The weather was beautiful once again for our gathering with mild temperatures and beautiful sky for the middle of the summer. This year’s event had 112 golfers tee off at our 8:30 shotgun start consisting of 4 man teams mixed between employees, patrons and vendors. The winning team this year was Ralph Myers, Mitch Myers, Mike Ferrill and John Hill who shot a round of 11 under par 61. With the 28 teams that teed off, the scores ranged from the winning 61 to 94. So you can see we have a wide variety of golfers who play, but everyone has fun. After everyone had completed their round of golf the Decatur Park District served a nice lunch in their banquet room for all the golfers. Proximity prizes were given out immediately following lunch with the winners being Deb Good – longest drive on #2 for women

Topflight Golf Outing

Andy Parsons- longest drive on #12 for men Ken Smith- closest to the pin on #8 Rob Litwiller- closest to the pin on #16 Mike Strader- closest to the pin on #13 Roger Lewis- closest to the pin on #4 Harry Woods- longest putt on #9. A special thanks to our vendors and special guests for donating numerous prizes to be given away in our drawing. Shirts, jackets, golf balls, hats, umbrellas, gift certificates, golf clubs and 4 tickets to a Cardinal ballgame were some of the many prizes. Tom Stoutenborough was the winner of the 4 box seats to the Cardinal game in August. As in the past outings, the help I get from my coworkers in the morning getting 112 people organized to play golf is much appreciated. Vanessa and Mikki handle the registration station and pass out sleeves of golf balls while several Topflight employees help with bags and organization outside. This year Gloria Litwiller had the task of taking group pictures on the 13th tee. Without their help the outing would not run as smoothly as it does. We look forward to hosting our next outing in 2015.

Janice Timmons, Sherryl Young, Dave Thompson, Paul Thompson.

Dylan Gallagher, Rory Wright, Richard Hanes, Jeremy Welch.

Jurg Padrutt, Margrit Padrut, Terri Hill, Denny Hill.

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Norman Ross, John Stinson, Kent Ferre, Charlie Bolin.

FEBRUARY 2014 / topflight newsletter 47


50 Years at the Illinois State Fair

During our harvest season, we had two drawings to recognize Fire Prevention Month, and Farm Safety Week.

Farm Safety Week was acknowledged from September 15 – September 21. Each weekday, one farmer was selected from each of two locations to receive a first aid kit. The winners included Dean Day, Nick Hoffman, Harold Ard, Brent Ferrill, David Beachy, Bill Olson, Darren Powell, Dan Larson, Mark Morgan and Randy Howland.

Dean Day was one of the winners of the safety kit, awarded during Farm Safety Week.

Nick Hoffman won the safety kit, from the Maroa area.

Mike Rose was the safety kit winner from Pierson.

50 years ago, Willis “Toby” Bolsen showed his first steer at the Illinois State Fair. He and his Angus cattle have been at the fair every year since then.

The 2013 Reserve Grand Champion Angus steer in the junior and open shows was bred and raised by Toby and Kathy Bolsen. He was shown by the JW Day family of Lovington. These cattle were exhibited during the 50th anniversary of Bolsen Angus Farm, breeding champions and registering Angus cattle through the American Angus Association.

Nancy Ard picked up Harold’s first aid kit.

In October, for Fire Prevention Month, we gave away fire extinguishers to 10 of our farmers, one chosen from each Topflight Grain facility. Our winners were Mike Myers, Adam Sleeth, Derek Albert, Rob Wood, B&B Farms, Joe Schumacher, Tom Riley, Larry Larson, Gary Appleby and Jack Hill.

This year, Toby’s bull, “Bolsens Kool Kat” was the 2013 Reserve Senior Champion LOL (Land of Lincoln) Angus Bull, at the Illinois State Fair.

Toby Bolsen, with the Reserve Grand Champion steer over all at the 1969 Illinois State Fair.



Howard Kamm was one Jack Hill was chosen Charlie Bolin won the of our winners of the as the winner from the fire extinguisher in the fire extinguisher for Fire Maroa area. Pierson area. Prevention Month. Every month, we choose one person from the month’s correct Trivia answers to receive a free Topflight Grain T-shirt. Recent winners have included Mike Rose Larry Larson, and Sadie, and Shannon Somers. The Trivia contest is on our website. A new question is were chosen as winners posted each Friday. Test your knowledge; your correct answer is an entry into of a fire extinguisher. the monthly drawing for a T-shirt.

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103,137 244,708 214,274 225,215 60,783 250,589 125,987 238,132 150,990 164,534 92,436

2010 2010 2007 2012 2008 2005 2010 2013 2009 2010 2005

51,252 86,542 94,057 75,100 19,811 96,905 83,072 80,200 69,478 94,120 30,091

2013 2009 2005 2010 2005 2009 2013 2013 2009 2013 2012

1,373,311 3,502,638 4,117,559 3,340,859 320,674 3,663,549 2,717,492 3,206,129 2,764,599 2,698,713 1,475,808

2010 2009 2009 2013 2007 2007 2007 2013 2009 2009 2007

506,663 691,504 788,774 615,058 73,822 885,712 638,802 957,436 585,445 558,793 293,017

2013 2010 2010 2010 2007 2010 2013 2013 2010 2013 2006









This year broke several records for harvest receipts, for daily receipts and total receipts. This is the spreadsheet that Jeremy put together. The 2013 record breakers are in bold and double underlined. You can see records set for Atwood, Maroa, Milmine, and Pierson.

FEBRUARY 2014 / topflight newsletter 49

Harvest Receipts

Our Proud Family Farmers:

It’s been awhile since harvest, but we thought you might be interested in our harvest receipts, how they compared with projections, how much we received each day, and how each facility fits into the “whole pie”: our receipts vs projections:

Chase Hendrix, Ryan Hendrix & John W Hendrix

The Gallaghers – Dylan, Zach, Bill & Grady, Brody & Mac

The Larimores – Jessie & Drew, Roberta, Susan Chad, Bill, Gilbert Quick, Richard

The Lynn Larson family Sara, Grady, Zach Gallagher, Brooke, Audrey, Dan, Vicki, Emerson, & Lynn Under the barn sign of Lynn’s grandfather, LB Larson, on one of Dan’s tractors



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FEBRUARY 2014 / topflight newsletter 51

ANNUAL MEETING 500 stockholders and guests joined your board of directors and employees for the Topflight Grain annual meeting on August 8, at the Decatur Civic Center. Basket Case Catering served a delicious buffet meal; then annual meeting chairman Kyle Johnson welcomed everyone and introduced President Ron Meece to conduct the business meeting. Minutes from last year’s meeting were approved and Jeremy Welch

Sheila & Bob McCoppin

presented the auditor’s report, summarizing the year’s financial numbers. During the manager’s report, Scott introduced the employees and special guests. Special recognition was given to Gary Liggett as a 15 year employee and to Eric Clements as a 25 year employee. President Meece honored Manager Docherty for his 20 years of employment. Pat Malone presented results of the election, naming Bill Schable,

Ed & Cheryl Yoder

Cindie & Dave Zelhart, Richard & Susan Larimore, Vickie & Greg Briggs

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Richard Larimore, and George Riley as directors elected to serve in 2013-14. They join the remaining directors of Kyle Johnson, Dave Zelhart, Ron Meece, Cary Hinton, JW Day and Greg Briggs. Kyle announced the winners of the returned-proxy drawing, as Fred Sebens, Rob Springman, Mary Ann Landgrebe, Ronald Carper, Larry Pflum, Naomi Brandenburg, Richard Robson, and Huisinga Farms.



afety training and awareness is a priority at Topflight Grain. In addition to frequent safety meetings for the operations staff, and safety tips from Brock Casteel our safety manager, Scott arranged a day of safety at the AsMark Ag safety center in Bloomington. John Lee, from the Grain & Feed Association conducted the meeting, balancing lecture and book learning with actual hands-on and examples. He had a collection of electrical tools with frayed cords, taped cords, missing parts, and many more unsafe examples. In another room, he told each group to find all the safety violations. Those included ladders with missing rungs, ladders that were taped together, conveyors with missing shields, augers with missing shields, and many other areas that were not safe. In a real-life example, three “volunteers” tethered themselves to support structures and entered a corn bin. Using the grain tube rescue system, others rescued the entrapped person. This exercise is carefully controlled and safely planned, but illustrates the force of grain in a bin, how quickly a person can become entrapped

or engulfed, and the huge effort required to rescue that person. It was an interesting day, and a very informative day for all of the Topflight employees.

Chelsey White practiced fire extinguisher techniques.

Dick & Evelyn Wilkin

Eric Gerard, our Growmark representative

John Lee demonstrated the explosiveness of grain dust.

With hardhats and tether straps, the operations staff surrounded Jon with the rescue tube, in a demonstration of the effort and time it takes to save a person entrapped in a grain bin. FEBRUARY 2014 / topflight newsletter 53


Crop Tour 2013

Crop Tour 2013

he Topflight Grain annual crop tour was August 26. Prior to that Monday evening, crop scouting teams were out in the fields throughout the Topflight Grain area, taking samples and collecting information. Patrons and employees joined the meeting that evening at the Second Story Banquet Center in Bement for the results. Derrick Bruhn announced the average corn yield at 178 bu/acre, and the average bean pod count at 32 pods/plant. Our guest speaker for the evening was Roy Huckabay from the Linn Group who gave a market outlook, discussing the current market situation and looking ahead to the pricing of the 2013 fall crop.

The yield maps, as surveyed by our crop scouts:

More yellow paths, showing water damage.

Stacey Longfellow, John Cowell and Ty Hildum, counting bean pods.

Darren Powell, Richard Casteel and Ed Beauchamp.

Austin & Chris Foran

Jason Fricke and Cary Hinton, collecting data for the crop tour.

Dave Boyer, John Butterfield, and Jack Hill.

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About a week prior to the crop tour, Jacob Fricke, Denny & Pam taxied down the Monticello runway with pilot Bob Cundiff to view the crops from the air. Overall, the crops looked good, although blown down corn was observed in places and the tell-tale yellow paths of too much water could be seen in some fields.

Some lighter areas could be seen from the air, indication too much water.

A picture of the “greensnap” that occurred during a windstorm in the Atwood-Pierson area, taken by Russel Wright

Pond areas, southeast of Bement, during Russel’s aerial tour. FEBRUARY 2014 / topflight newsletter 55

around topflight

around topflight

The sun was shining. It was a beautiful Fall day.

Just flyin’ around . . . .

However, harvest was to be delayed.

The Topflight airplane made several appearances throughout the year. You can usually see it in Maroa, Monticello, Seymour, Bement, Hammond, Atwood, and maybe other events!

‘Twas the third week in September, when all through the land Barely a combine was moving, rarely even a hired man. The corn and bean heads were attached with care In hopes that harvest would soon be there. The corn would not dry, the beans not quite ready As the farmer started to feel quite unsteady. When should I go to the field, now or later? Maybe I’ll just mow or ride around on the Gator!?!

Chelsey visited with Stu Ellis on WAND-TV, describing the corn pile and harvest at Emery.

Until the trucks roll in and countryside begins to chime We’ll all be waiting and snacking on peanuts to pass the time! ---composed by Amy Brammer, as she waited on harvest to begin!

Grain checks written on January 1 & 2, 2014 totalled $80,930,000.00 Russel & grandson Zach drove the TFG airplane in the Apple Dumpling parade.

Hardhats became a safety requirement at Topflight this summer:

John celebrated his 40th birthday at Cisco during harvest. Chayton wore his hard hat while riding with Uncle Ron.

Grandma Sherryl and Bronson, in their Topflight Grain hardhats.

Dillon donned his hardhat & glasses as he left the office.

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Drew put on his hard hat and his safety glasses.

Martin and his granddaughter taxied in the Bement 4th of July parade.

Brian & Martin, working on the dryer in Maroa. FEBRUARY 2014 / topflight newsletter 57

around topflight

around topflight We welcome .....

At Milmine .....

We always appreciate the cooks and servers who bring lunch during harvest!!

Jake, Terry, William & Josh Lieb picked up lunches from the Farm Credit group.

The new bin was up and ready for harvest.

The Off the Fence youth ministry in Bement teamed up with Clark Foran to serve lunch in Bement.

Andrew Hanes, as grain originator at Cisco.

Andy & Roger worked at the top of the leg on the bean flat in Bement.

The outbound scale was a great improvement to traffic flow!

The music boosters served up chips, cookies and sandwiches in Bement.

Mike Day takes a sandwich from daughter Sierra, with Cheryl Day and Joslen Summar, all working to raise money for the FFA, and feed us a good lunch during harvest.

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Roger & Andy put replace worn buckets on a leg in Bement.

Kenny Ross, member of the Topflight Grain calf roping team, brought home a championship this year from the Piatt County TrailBlazers rodeo.

Chelsey White, as grain originator at Emery. Manager Scott Docherty and Gary Liggett were recognized at the annual meeting for their years of employment at Topflight Grain.

New steps were poured at the Bement office. FEBRUARY 2014 / topflight newsletter 59

Christmas Cheer!!! Christmas open house was held at the Topflight facilities on December 19. Each office (except Cisco, where the party was on December 20 for Mikki’s retirement) served up all types of good food and beverages. If you missed it, you missed visiting with your good neighbors, your Topflight employees, and the good food.

Jack Funk & Rob Wood. Gary Kuhn Doug Stahl, at the Maroa open house

Denny Hill & Mike Strater. Mike won closest to the pin on #13 in the TFG golf outing. Atwood customers gathered around the table for lots of good food!

Jim Stoutenborough, with a cup of Holiday cheer

Jeff Snyder

Lots of good food and friends at Seymour!

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Tim White, filling his plate of goodies at Maroa.

George & Brian Dukeman FEBRUARY 2014 / topflight newsletter 61

Happy Retirement, Mikki!!! It was bittersweet when we said “happy retirement� to Mikki Burns. Mikki began her career with Cisco Co-op in 1985, coming through the merger into Topflight Grain in 1998, and retired this past December. We enjoyed working with Mikki; she was also a good friend to all of us. She knew her customers well, greeting them at the scales, in the hardware store, and buying grain from them. Many of the Cisco customers and friends joined Mikki for open house on December 20. Many memories were shared, and there were lots of hugs.

Amy, Vanessa, Mikki & Sherryl at the Topflight Grain golf outing.

Dave Ritchie wished Mikki well.

Scott congratulated Mikki and thanked her for so many years of hard work and long hours.

Dean & Bev Carroll came to say farewell.

Mikki, Denny & Bill Sago

Kay Drew, former Cisco Coop employee and dear friend, shared memories with Mikki.

Bonnie, Sherryl, Scott, Mikki, Gloria, Dick, Jill & Sandy, on tour at the GSI plant in 2004.

We will all miss Mikki, and wish her a very happy and long retirement!

Amy, Vanessa & Mikki, serving ice cream at the crop tour meeting.

Mikki & Jim at the 2009 Christmas Party.

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Topflight Grain

prsrt std us postage paid champaign, il permit no. 880

420 W Marion Monticello IL 61856

topflight Grain mission statement:

We are committed to the future of agriculture by improving the profitability of our customers through quality service and exceptional people. As Russel says, “It’s a dog’s life in Atwood.”

Everything I need to know, I learned from my dog… (especially take naps!!)

When loved ones come home, always run to greet them. Never pass up the opportunity to go for a joyride. Allow the experience of fresh air and the wind in your face to be pure ecstasy. When it’s in your interest, practice obedience. Let others know when they’ve invaded your territory. Take naps and stretch before rising. Run, romp, and play daily. Thrive on attention and let people touch you. Avoid biting, when a simple growl will do. On warm days, stop to lie on your back on the grass. On hot days, drink lots of water and lay under a shady tree. When you’re happy, dance around and wag your entire body. No matter how often you’re scolded, don’t buy into the guilt thing and pout… run right back and make friends. Delight in the simple joy of a long walk. Eat with gusto and enthusiasm. Stop when you have had enough. Be loyal. Never pretend to be something you’re not. If what you want lies buried, dig until you find it. When someone is having a bad day, be silent, sit close by and nuzzle them gently.

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Aaron’s son, Jaice Hill, and his new puppy, Yadie

Topflight Grain February High Flyer 2014  
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