Fieldviews SPRING 2017 EDITION
Join us for our Brownton Ag Service Center open house on Wednesday, April 5 from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m.!
Inside the Brownton Agronomy Hub
More Gas Customers Farm Supply Spring Wet Spring? We’re Up Hook Up 2017 Preview for a Challenge! Page 9
P E O P L E
P R I D E
Health Care Update Page 21
P U R P O S E
Ready to Spring Into Action
elcome to the spring 2017 edition of Fieldviews. As rural Minnesotans involved in agriculture, we always look forward to spring. It’s the promise of another opportunity to start new and watch our crops and gardens grow. It’s one of the pure pleasures of doing what we do. Of course, the promise of more sunlight and no more subzero temperatures doesn’t hurt either. This spring, UFC is even more excited than usual. We eagerly anticipate our first spring of operation with the new Brownton Ag Service Center and all the efficiencies and capabilities it can bring to you, our member-owners. Nearly 10 years of planning, developing and change have resulted in an agronomy delivery system that will not just serve you well today, but is intentionally designed to serve you well and grow with you for decades to come. It has been a journey involving everyone from your board of directors to the front line men and women who will operate the plant. Difficult decisions needed to be made, partnerships needed to be developed and cash flows needed to be studied to get us to where we are today. These decisions involved everything from closing old plants to constructing the new Hamburg Ag Service Center. It started with our Winthrop Agronomy Hub and is culminating with Brownton. Today we hope you can feel proud of what you own. With these new facilities, we have the ability to serve you for generations to come.
We can’t wait for you to visit this newest addition to your cooperative. We are planning a big open house so you can see for yourself how the Brownton plant will serve you well into the future. Read more about the open house on April 5 on page 12. Of course, none of this is possible without the collaboration and cooperation of all of us working together. Thanks for your support. We look forward to visiting with you at the open house. ●
Enthusiastically, Jeff Nielsen, President/CEO Our Brownton Agonomy Hub
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UFC DIRECTORY AgQuest Finance—507-647-6606 Ext. 6749 Bird Island Elevator—320-365-4012 Brownton Ag Service Center—320-328-5211 Brownton Shuttle—320-328-4002 Cologne Feed Mill—952-466-5518 Corporate Office—507-647-6600 Gaylord Ag Service Center—507-237-4203 Gaylord C-Store—507-237-2281 Gibbon C-Store—507-834-6615 Grain Marketing—507-647-6601 Green Isle C-Store—507-326-5866 Hamburg Ag Service Center—952-467-3111 Hector Ag Service Center—320-848-2296
INSIDE THIS ISSUE:
Judson Implement Ag Service Center—507-947-3644
The Wisdom of Watching Your Own Bobber . . . . . . . . . . Page 4
UFC Welcomes New Chief Operating Officer. . . . . . . . . . Page 7
Klossner Livestock Service Center—507-359-2970
Update From Your Board of Directors . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Page 8
More Gas Customers Hook Up . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Page 9
Lafayette Ag Service Center—507-228-8224 Lafayette C-Store—507-228-8364
The Value of a Plan—and a Plan B . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Page 10
Filled, Calibrated and Ready to Go. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Page 12
Lafayette Seed Shed—507-228-8669
Farm Supply Spring 2017 Preview . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Page 14
Purpose Defined for the UFC Feed Division. . . . . . . . . . Page 16
Litchfield Elevator—320-693-6040 New Auburn C-Store—320-864-2811
A Wet Spring? We’re Up for a Challenge. . . . . . . . . . . . Page 17
New Germany C-Store—952-353-2601
Market Thoughts by Marc. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Page 18
Norseland Ag Service Center—507-246-5300
Living the UFC Brand. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Page 19
UFC Farm Supply-Burnsville—952-890-5296
Equipment for This Spring—and Beyond . . . . . . . . . . . . Page 20
UFC Farm Supply-Maple Plain—763-479-2123 UFC Farm Supply-Waconia—952-442-2126
Cooperative Health Care Gets Approved. . . . . . . . . . . . . Page 21
Waconia Energy Office—952-442-2126
Crop Insurance and Grain Marketing. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Page 22
Property/Casualty: Are You Protected? . . . . . . . . . . . . . Page 23
Winthrop Chemical Warehouse—507-647-6615 Winthrop Elevator—507-647-5311
©2017 United Farmers Cooperative. All Rights Reserved. Published in partnership with VistaComm
Winthrop Energy Office—507-647-6602
The Wisdom of Watching Your Own Bobber By Jeff Nielsen, President/CEO
As you read this magazine, there is more than a change of season in the air. The constant buzz of change and evolution surrounds usâ€”from the turmoil we are witnessing in Washington to what is going on in our industry and right here in the neighborhood.
he sense that there is something different happening is hard to escape. But if you stop to think about it, this is really nothing new. United Farmers Cooperative and its members have been experiencing and dealing with change for more than a century now. I have addressed change before, but in this issue I’d like to take a slightly different approach. I’ve always believed that change is not necessarily bad or good in and of itself. What makes change bad or good is how we respond to it. Do we retreat in fear or do we try to predict and plan for the change we see coming? Around UFC, we have a saying: “Watch your own bobber.” This saying reminds us that we can only influence and control what’s right in front of us. I have been reminded of this bit of wisdom when fishing with my grandsons. At age five, they can already out-fish me. If I spend too much time watching them fish, they will eventually say, “Poppa, watch your own bobber.” So how does this apply to agriculture and cooperatives? Well, if you grew up on a farm, you can probably recall trips to town that involved slowing down as you passed the neighbors’ cornfields and listening to Dad comment on what the crops looked like. We called it “the crop tour.” We were rubbernecking the competition instead of making plans for next year based on our knowledge of what works and what doesn’t on our own land. As independent farmers and cooperatives, we are best served by making sure we have our own plan, honor our own commitments and focus on what we need to do to be successful. Independent co-ops and farmers need to have a plan and the courage to follow it. Through the Fieldviews magazine, we try to keep you informed about the projects we are working on, the choices being made and our constant commitment to honoring our strategic plan. I have been asked many times— most recently at our annual meeting in January—why we do what we do or how we make decisions. This space doesn’t allow for a full explanation, but I can boil it down to simply having a plan and seeing it through by making solid business decisions. These decisions are not always
based on the present. Often they are based on where we need to be to serve future generations. The Brownton project, for example, has been in process for nearly 10 years, and it is only fully being realized today. But it will serve you and your children well, for decades to come. At the annual meeting, we discussed our planning process in detail—including the market analysis, project design and, most importantly, the financial implications of every decision we make. Instead of running from change, we try to anticipate it and use it to the advantage of our member-owners. At the same time, we never fail to remember that we are only stewards in leadership of this co-op for a short time. Our founders wisely adopted the cooperative model to make sure we remain relevant for a long time. This model is central to everything we believe and do. If you were able to attend our annual meeting, you heard from the board and leadership team that UFC had another very strong year. Thanks to your support, we generated $7.5 million in earnings. At the same time, we built facilities, added equipment to serve you and reduced our leverage—strengthening the balance sheet of your company. None of this happens without a plan and the courage to follow the plan, even when roads get hilly, bumpy or ice-covered as we experienced this past winter. Again, what is the importance of a plan? A talented baseball player and unintentionally witty philosopher by the name of Yogi Berra said it pretty well: “If you don’t know where you are going, you might wind up someplace else.” Simply put, we need to have a plan, and we do. UFC remains committed to being your business partner and to doing all that it can to add value to your farming operations and to your communities. This commitment is as consistent and unending as the changes happening around us. In closing, there are a lot of things we can’t influence, but we can influence those things right in front of us. As my grandsons wisely advise, “Poppa, you’ll catch more fish if you pay attention to your own bobber.” ●
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UFC Welcomes New Chief Operating Officer President/CEO Jeff Nielsen has announced the appointment of Mitch Altermatt to the positon of Chief Operating Officer with United Farmers Cooperative, effective Feb. 1.
he past year and a half has been a time of transition in some key leadership roles. Our previous COO, Roger Price, left 18 months ago to pursue a great career opportunity. More recently, Joel Dahlgren, our Chief Risk Officer, left. Greg Peton took on additional COO duties, and Jay Walterman, served as a project manager for the Brownton fertilizer project. Jay has announced his intention to retire this summer. “These vacancies gave us the opportunity to combine many responsibilities into one position that will assist in overseeing the diverse operations of our UFC family of businesses,” Jeff stated. “Mitch is a great communicator with tremendous coaching and leadership skills, and technical competencies in trading,” declared Jeff. “He grew up on a farm and is still actively engaged in a family farm partnership. “He has gained experience as the CEO of a smaller cooperative, and his new role as a COO of a larger cooperative is a good fit,” added Jeff. “Mitch’s primary role will be to provide guidance and oversite on major projects as well as overseeing UFC’s 34 locations across 19 communities,” stated our general manager. In making these remarks, Jeff expressed his thanks to Greg Peton for helping to fill the role of COO in recent months. “With this appointment,” he said, “Greg will be able to return to his primary responsibility as Chief Marketing Officer, overseeing the sales and marketing efforts of the entire company.”
across CHS’ trade territory, assisting them with risk management, forecasting and forward contracts. In the fall of 2014, Mitch accepted a job as CEO of Central Lakes Cooperative in Atwater, where he has served for two and a half years. Over that time, he helped put together a merger between Central Lakes and Consumers Cooperative of Litchfield, which took effect on Jan. 2. ”My focus as COO is to provide my staff with leadership and resources that are necessary to be successful in today’s environment. I’m known for building relationships, being a hard worker and very straight forward and transparent.” He adds, “I believe that we can accomplish anything if we work together.” Mitch and his wife, Megan, have two children: a daughter, Jayde (6), and a son, Cael (2). They are expecting their third child in June. The family currently resides in Spicer, and plans to relocate. ●
Mitch Altermatt, his wife Megan, their daughter Jayde and their son Cael.
Meet Mitch Mitch grew up on a family row crop and beef farm near Wabasso, where he continues to stay active in the farm operation with his two brothers, dad and uncle. After graduating from high school, Mitch attended Southwest Minnesota State University, earning his degree in business management. Even before graduating high school, Mitch got his start in the cooperative industry with Meadowland Cooperative based in Lamberton, where he performed various duties throughout the seasons. During his college tenure, Mitch had the opportunity to work for Monsanto® on several projects, gaining experience in the seed and chemical industry. After graduating from SMSU, CHS recruited Mitch to work for the company’s Country Operations division and Mitch moved his family to Inver Grove Heights. Over the next two years, Mitch worked in accounting and safety. He was then an account manager for the company’s Cenex® energy division. In this position, he managed wholesale refined fuels for a number of local cooperatives
Update From Your Board of Directors By Todd Nelson, UFC Board Chairman
Thanks to all who attended the annual meeting of United Farmers Cooperative, held Jan. 9 at the Berdan Center in Winthrop. We had a good year in 2016. Our audit report, released at that meeting, announced our 2016 local profit as $4.1 million and our total profit as $7.5 million.
he month previous to our annual meeting, we mailed checks to our active members totaling $1.2 million. This represented 100 percent of their 2016 qualified patronage dividend. At the same time, we issued $2.6 million in non-qualified patronage to our members. UFC has paid the tax on these non-qualified dividends and will redeem them at a later date. At the annual meeting, members re-elected three board members for three-year terms: Jeff Manderscheid —representing our northwest trade territory; Kevin Vetter—representing our southeast trade territory; and Eric Annexstad—a director at large. Later, at the board’s January meeting, we reorganized the board. Our chairman of four years, Jeff Franta, retired as chairman, although he continues to serve on the board. Thank you, Jeff, for your service. I was elected as chairman of the board, Kevin Vetter was elected
vice-chairman, and Todd Kettner was re-elected secretary. We look forward to serving in these positions.
Invitation to celebrate We are planning an open house for our newly constructed Brownton Ag Service Center on April 5. Turn to page 12 for more details on this event. I look forward to seeing you there. Together, we’ll celebrate this forward-looking expansion of your cooperative’s agronomy services. I want to assure all of you that UFC has a strategic plan. Whatever we do, whether it is a merger or buying a major piece of equipment, we plan and study it first. Unlike a popular advertising slogan, we never “Just do it!” When we merged with Brownton Co-op Ag Center last spring, we had studied the benefits of that union for months and even years before. Likewise, when we bought a Patriot® Sprayer for use this spring in growers’ fields, it was all part of our carefully
considered strategic plan to add value to our customers’ lives. If you have a question about a decision we make, or if you just want to know more about why we do what we do, feel free to contact any of our board members. Have a safe and prosperous spring planting season. ●
More Gas Customers Hook Up Gas has been flowing through UFC’s 36-mile pipeline loop, which services Lafayette and Courtland, for seven months now. We estimate the total number of potential customers in these two incorporated communities and along the length of the pipeline at 700, and to date we have set meters for 60 percent of this number.
Dozers used to pull sixinch gas pipe underground.
By Darv Turbes, Vice President of Energy
n March we’ll begin notifying the remaining unserved individuals and businesses along the pipeline route of their opportunity to connect. We’re looking forward to a very active and early construction season, running gas line to new customers and installing meters. We’re working down a list of people who may want to hook up to United Natural Gas, but if you would like to contact us first, call 507-647-6602.
have switched over to natural gas and been delighted with the services. We’re excited about the opportunity this summer to bring natural gas to the asphalt plant between Courtland and New Ulm. If you know of someone who would benefit from United Natural Gas, please feel free to call us at 507-647-6602.
Changing circumstances Besides the individuals on our list, there may be opportunities along the existing line that we do not know about. For instance, a business or farmer may have had a change such as purchasing and installing a new corn dryer or putting up a new shop or hog barn. Any of those circumstances may signal a change in their willingness to hook up to our system. We’ve already talked with businesses and schools that Worker guides six-inch natural gas pipe as it is pulled underground in the road right-of-way.
Something that has become very helpful for our natural gas customers is our secure pay plan, where we balance out their payments throughout the year. Almost 15 percent of our natural gas customers participate in the secure pay program. Instead of paying for gas in the month it is used, the customer’s payments are spread over 10 months and the over or under payment is adjusted in the 10th month. That way, all payments are equal through the heating season and into the middle of the summer. Call the UFC Energy Division at 507-647-6602 if you are interested in setting up a secure payment plan.
Expansion on the horizon We are always looking for opportunities to expand the current natural gas distribution system. That’s because adding customers lowers fixed expenses and keeps the cost of gas more competitive for all. As we move into summer, United Natural Gas is planning an expansion of its current 36-mile loop. We’ll announce this expansion in the next edition of Fieldviews. ●
The Value of a Plan—and a Plan B By Tyler Johnson, Field Sales Agronomist
Spring is almost here—but not quite. That means you still have time to plan. If you haven’t adopted a formal strategy for the 2017 crop year, your UFC field sales agronomist would be happy to assist you.
s author, salesman and motivational speaker Zig Ziglar stated: “If you aim at nothing, you will hit it every time!” Nothing, that is. The first step in your plan should be to calculate your breakeven. How many bushels do you need to raise to break even at $3.25/bu. corn, or whatever you think you’ll be able to sell it at? Next, break your entire land base into fields and determine, based on their history, which fields have more or less potential; then review your input options and allocate them accordingly. Avoid being aggressive on every acre of ground or applying the least amount of inputs on each acre. Put your money where you anticipate the best rate of return. You can’t control a bearish grain market, but what you can do is raise more bushels. So break your opportunities up by fields and have the best plan in place BEFORE you go to the field. Another wise business practice is to have a secondary plan in place. The weather might not allow you to fertilize or plant when and what you want to raise the yields you’re shooting for. So have a “Plan B” in place. If you don’t, you’ll end up making a quick decision that carries a lot more risk than you’re able to assume. It’s good to sit down with a UFC field sales agronomist to consider what your alternate plan will be. He or she knows the risks and can help determine your best options. Give us a call.
New phosphorus source Speaking of options, UFC is offering a premium phosphorus fertilizer this year called MicroEssentials®SE™ (MESZ) with an analysis of 12-40-0-10S-1Z. Manufactured by our partners at Mosaic®, MESZ has been available on a limited basis in the past, but UFC customers will have more options with our Brownton Ag Service Center coming online. MESZ is a granular product that gets micronutrients closer to the roots of each plant by the way it is manufactured and delivered. Instead of applying them separately at a flat rate, MESZ uses a patented fusion process to wrap sulfur and zinc into granules of nitrogen and phosphorus. We spread these granules evenly across each field, ensuring better distribution. Here’s another reason we’re offering MESZ more widely in 2017. In the past, our most common phosphorus source was DAP with an analysis of 18-46-0. The chemical formulation of MESZ allows a more consistent uptake of phosphorus than DAP allows. Ask your sales agronomist to discuss how MESZ can best be used on your farm. Editor’s Note: Tyler joined United Farmers Cooperative this past September. Based at our Judson Implement location, Tyler works with UFC growers between Mankato and New Ulm. A native of Montevideo, he earned a bachelor of science degree in agronomy from South Dakota State University in 2013. Before joining UFC as a field sales agronomist, Tyler gained experience with a crop consulting firm in western Minnesota. ●
Your UFC field sales agronomist will help you develop a “Plan B” and work with you throughout the season.
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Filled, Calibrated and Ready to Go By Dave Eckhoff Vice President of Agronomy All UFC Agronomy Division locations are equipped and ready to serve your crop input needs this spring. This includes our new Brownton Ag Service Center, which will add value and efficiencies throughout our system. Here is a recap of what’s been going on at Brownton: • We have received unit trains of urea (in December) and potash (in February). • We have received rail cars as well as truckloads of MESZ, DAP, ESN, AMS, sulfur and zinc. MESZ (12-40-0-10-1) and ESN (44-0-0 slow-release urea) may be new products to some UFC customers. See Tyler Johnson’s story on page 10 for more on MESZ. • We are making a change in our inventory of UAN. Historically, we have stored UAN as 28%. Going forward, we will be storing it as 32%. This will give our customers the option to purchase either product. • Partnerships between UFC and our manufacturers/distributors allowed us to procure crop protection products in the summer and fall of 2016 for delivery in February and March of 2017. Our entire chemical facility at Brownton will be operational by March 15. • During February and March, we tested and calibrated all of our scales and machinery while filling our satellite locations to ensure accuracy and quality of product and service. We are excited for everyone to see the magnitude of the Brownton facility and how it will serve our patrons as well as the greater Minnesota agricultural community. Look to your right for details on our April 5 open house. ●
Join us Brown
s for an open house of our nton Ag Service Center!
pril 5, 2017 | 11:00am - 3:00pm 7891 State Hwy 15 Brownton, MN 55312 13
Farm Supply Spring 2017 Preview By Steve Spears, Vice President of Consumer Goods and Hardware
Check out our new products, rental options and unbelievable service. When the snow is gone and the grass starts to green up, it’s time to make the trip to UFC Farm Supply to get everything you need for your yard. Not only do we have all the products you need to complete all of your spring projects, but we have expert teams to help you do it right the first time.
he teams at our Burnsville, Maple Plain and Waconia locations have just one goal: to serve YOU. The experience will be very different from anywhere you have ever done business and will have you coming back for more. The Garden Center at Maple Plain and Waconia will be open for spring with live plants, décor, trees and shrubs to dress up your backyard. In spring 2017, all UFC Farm Supply locations will stock and service Toro®, Cub Cadet® and the best mower on the market, Exmark®. Below are new items coming to UFC Farm Supply locations this spring. Introducing STIHL® battery-powered products. Now you can choose from a clean and efficient line of hand held tools driven by reliable lithium-ion batteries and offered under this iconic brand. These yard and garden tools are designed for the homeowner, but they have the quality and power you’ve come to expect from STIHL. Priced competitively, they start at $129 for a complete unit. The line will be available at UFC Farm Supply in March! Massey Ferguson sub-compact tractors are now available at all UFC Farm Supply locations. Finally, a tractor that works as hard as you do! There is not a better value in the market. You’ll be amazed at how much tractor you can buy in a
Massey. We also rent these models if you want to get a feel for what they can do. They’re in stock NOW. Come in and talk to one of our product experts to learn more! RENT IT! Many times the most cost-effective approach to a project is to rent the equipment you need, versus buying. We have many options for your spring projects—trailers to haul equipment, tillers to turn your garden soil, boom lifts to trim trees and tackle home projects, and skid steers to finish
that landscape project. All these and more can be rented at UFC Farm Supply stores. Service, service, service! Is your mower in running order? How are your mower blades? Need a new spark plug? Filter? Either pick up the parts from us at UFC Farm Supply OR bring your mower in for a tune-up by one of our elite technicians. We service all of your lawn and garden equipment—both in-house and onsite. Just give us a call to set up an appointment. Skid steers, spreaders, mixers and tillers got problems? We can get you back to work quickly. We look forward to working with you this spring! ●
Come to Our Spring Sales Event April 29 at ALL UFC Farm Supply locations. Vendors, food, demos and more! This is a perfect event for the whole family! Plus, you’ll save 10% on your purchases that day only.* *Maximum Discount: $300
Purpose Defined for the UFC Feed Division By Steve LeBrun, Vice President of Feed
At this year’s UFC annual meeting, the theme was “Purpose Defined.” In other words, “Why do we do what we do?” This topic was chosen to help our patrons understand some of the thought processes that we apply before investing in projects or services. It had me reflecting on how we in the Feed Division define our purpose.
bviously our purpose is to make feed and get it delivered. When the Klossner mill was built in 1995, that was pretty much it. But as time passed, that basic purpose has continued to evolve into what it is today: producing safe and wholesome food for people. The livestock and feed industry has gone through 20 years of intensive growth and regulatory change. The consumer now drives the market with demands for safe meat and milk for their families. Consumers also have concerns about the welfare of our animals. Feed is now considered (indirectly) food for people because it is consumed by the animals that provide the food. This has driven both livestock producers and feed suppliers to accept more responsibility for meeting these demands and concerns. When faced with challenges, the UFC Feed Division could do one of two things: 1) Just do the minimum needed to get by, or 2) embrace the change and develop programs that give our patrons an advantage in the market. We have always chosen the second option. Some of the processes we started years ago are coming into play as we now are complying with the Veterinarian Feed Directive (VFD) that became effective Jan 1. Starting five years ago, we also developed a very rigorous Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Points (HACCP) program in anticipation of meeting the new feed industry regulations that will take effect over the next year. We are in compliance with all of those regulations and more. Some of our patrons have marketing contracts for their livestock or milk. They and their processors audit us for quality controls and documentation. We also have a process to
UFC has a process to address biosecurity in our mills and delivery trucks to avoid the movement of diseases.
address biosecurity in our mills and delivery trucks to avoid the movement of diseases, software to track feed use by each farm and a continuous monitoring of incoming ingredients. Recently, we held a series of meetings to educate our patrons on how to comply with the new VFD regulations. Last year, between UFC’s three mills, we hosted 11 visits by federal, state and independent auditors. Each one monitors our compliance to their specific requirements. We gladly participate in these, as it only helps to solidify our programs going forward. Most importantly, we have a staff of people dedicated to making all of these things happen each and every day. These people include operations, delivery, sales and management. We have been blessed with some of the best talent in the industry. Our task is to provide them with the training and tools necessary to accomplish all we have been talking about. Allow me to define our purpose again—this time in a little more detail. It is to constantly look into the future and anticipate what our producers will need from the UFC Feed Division in one, five and 10 years. We need to have that ready so they can participate in new market opportunities and be confident that UFC will help them stay in compliance. There is no doubt in my mind that the next 20 years will be just as full of opportunities as the last 20 years. ●
Feed is now considered (indirectly) food for people because it is consumed by animals that provide the food.
A Wet Spring? We’re Up for a Challenge
By Aaron Schwab, Crop Nutrients Operations Manager, and Chad Wilson, Crop Protection Operations Manager
The operations department of UFC’s Agronomy Division is ready for the spring season. We’ve added applicators and trucks, and we’ll be bringing our new Hamburg chemical warehouse and liquid fertilizer plant online this spring. Our dry and liquid fertilizer plant at Brownton is also completely staffed and ready for its first season.
ot only are our facilities ready, but our equipment is ready to go to the field. We’ve updated our floaters, updated our sprayers, gotten rid of some tired equipment and bought new. One of our newest pieces of equipment is a 2017 Case IH Patriot® 4440 row crop sprayer with a 120-foot boom and 1,200-gallon tank that will apply around 1,000 acres a day. We traded two older sprayers in for this new model with AIM Command FLEX™, AutoBoom™ height control and auto steer. We put our current fleet through extensive preventive maintenance this winter, to minimize breakdowns and reduce down time in the field. With this spring’s anticipated wet conditions, we’ll need every minute possible to apply your inputs.
The UFC Agronomy Division purchased a new Patriot 4440 sprayer for spring 2017. Applicators pictured in front of the sprayer at a trade show in December are (left to right) Trevor Ahlbrecht, Darin Lantz, Aaron Schwab, Justin Rettmann, Jared Firle, Ryan Hoffmann and Mitch Hoffmann.
Our warehouses are stocked with bulk and packaged chemicals that are available for you to pick up as soon as you have the room to take them. At the Winthrop and Brownton Agronomy Hubs, we’ve taken in all the shipments of dry fertilizer and liquid nutrients we intend to take. With Brownton Ag Service Center fully operational, we will be more efficient in servicing the northern territory and as far east as the Waconia and Hamburg area. In return, this takes pressure off our Winthrop Hub plant to better service the southern territory. Our floater and sprayer operators have gone through extensive training and recertification this winter. We have a great line-up of applicators with knowledge of the newest application technology and the experience needed to get the job done right. Growers should contact their field sales agronomist as early as possible so they can contact us and make sure we get out to your farm as early as possible. We’re willing and capable of customizing our application service to meet your needs. Good communication with your field sales agronomist will make this process easier and more efficient for everyone. The weather forecasters are predicting a wet spring. The UFC operations team is up for this challenge. With two world-class facilities that load out product faster than anyone else, we won’t wear out or run out. With our increased storage capacity, we have enough product on hand to make it through any season. Our flexibility and the geography we cover also set us apart. We have a fleet of nearly 40 pieces of application equipment and the trucking capacities to get the job done. If it’s raining in one area and dry in another, we move our equipment and its operators where we need to go. We work as a team across our entire service area. Try us and see the difference. ●
MARKET THOUGHTS BY MARC Most Exciting Part of Marketing Year Still Ahead By Marc Peterson, Introducing Broker, MPT Trading As U.S. producers get ready to plant the 2017 crop, the corn and soybean markets enter what history indicates as the period of highest price volatility of the year. This is the time in the marketing year I like to refer to as the “toos.” This is when the market reacts to a weather forecast of “too hot, too cold, too wet or too dry.” Traders start buying in anticipation of some kind of shortage. Keep in mind, price controls demand. Raise the price, demand decreases and the anticipated limited supply lasts longer. On the other hand, lower the price and demand increases because we have plenty. It’s not until combines roll in the fall that we ultimately know if one of the “toos” really affected the crop. Over the last few years, the grain markets have spent a substantial amount of time below, or at least very close to, a breakeven price. With that said, I think farmers are going to be willing sellers during any rally that hints to profitability. For that reason, the idea of using some kind of courage call
strategy to remain in the market after making what hopefully are profitable cash sales can be a good plan. I define the courage call as an out-of-the-money September call option, which expires at the end of August. The exact strike price and premium paid depends on the individual. The goal associated with this call option is it gives producers the courage to make a cash sale even though all the news is bullish and prices have to go higher. (Key words have to.) Hopefully, this strategy reduces the woulda-coulda-shoulda part of marketing that producers deal with as harvest approaches and prices fall. Give me a call at 612-756-1406 and we can discuss whether a “courage call” strategy could be a valuable part of your marketing plan. As always, if you do not totally understand this strategy, do not try this at home. ●
ay! he W T d Fin
Taking care of your Farm Financial needs has never been more convenient. Few people know and understand your business as well as the people who supply your agronomic supplies and services. Thanks to UFC’s relationship with AgQuest, you can also secure insurance and financing right at UFC. When you stop by UFC for your input needs, you are also stopping by your local lender - AgQuest! AgQuest’s finance & insurance availability at UFC makes for an easy, one-stop service experience. AgQuest Insurance Agency is an equal opportunity provider.
Vince Sloot, Finance/Crop Ins. cell 507-995-9029 email@example.com
Dawn Wickenhauser, Admin Finance/Crop Ins. ph 507-647-6606 x6749 firstname.lastname@example.org
Tim Lewis, P & C Ins. cell 612-756-2903 email@example.com
By Greg Peton, Chief Marketing Officer From the moment we wake up, our senses are bombarded with a variety of media. These messages strive for us to favor a brand as our preference, and ultimately purchase products as a result of brand recognition and loyalty. Most of us do not pause to think about the brands we use on a regular basis, as they have become part of our daily routine. The brand you choose becomes a subconscious decision based upon a sense of security in buying a product from a company you trust. Think about a normal day. Your iPhone® triggers you to wake up. You hop out of bed and into the shower. You use Head & Shoulders® shampoo, scrub with Irish Spring® soap and dry off with The Fabric of Our Lives® cotton towel. The Crest® toothpaste tingles as you brush your teeth. You gargle with Listerine® to complete the clean. The Schick Hydro® razor provides you with the ultimate shaving experience followed by a couple splashes of Old Spice® to awaken your senses. You throw on a Jockey® T-shirt and pair of briefs, Carhartt® jeans, a Duluth Trading Company® flannel shirt and Smartwool® socks. As you lace up your Red Wing boots, you smell the Folgers® coffee brewing. The day is only 20 minutes old and you have interacted with dozens of brands without a second thought. If you were challenged to try a different, unfamiliar product, I am confident you would be reluctant due to the trust you have developed with your preferred product. You know what you are going to get and it will be a consistent experience that doesn’t surprise you.
Living the UFC Brand is more than a catch phrase. The UFC logo in the title of this article is merely a visual trigger point to help you recognize the company you are dealing with. You will see and recognize that logo in virtually every interaction you have with UFC. Location signage, delivery trucks, buildings, pickup trucks, application equipment, advertising, social media, website, clothing and numerous other applications will display the UFC logo. The logo itself will not trigger a buying decision. However, it is the emotional experience attached to the logo that stimulates a positive or negative opinion. UFC’s mission is to partner with you to supply you with technology, products and services in a manner that is extraordinary enough to add value to your business and life. The UFC logo, our mission, vision, slogan and value statements are meaningless unless our team of employees are committed to living the brand experience every day in a manner that is distinctive, consistent and relevant to your specific needs and concerns. We want you to experience a positive emotional reaction when you see the UFC logo, knowing that behind the logo stands a team who strives to live the UFC brand and deliver to you a value proposition that exceeds your expectations. My primary responsibility is to lead UFC’s sales and marketing efforts, and my commitment to you is that the UFC team is working diligently to earn your business. Tell us how we are doing and what the UFC brand means to you. You can call my office at 507-647-6606 ext. 6772 or send me an email at greg. firstname.lastname@example.org. I look forward to hearing from you. ●
Approximately 450 people attended Judson Implement’s open house on Nov. 30. Thank you for welcoming us to the UFC family of businesses.
Equipment for This Spring—and Beyond By Tyler Zollner, Vice President of Ag Services
On Oct. 1, 2016, Judson Implement officially became part of UFC’s Ag Services Division. We appreciate everyone who has stopped to check out this unique AGCO dealership over the winter months. Special thanks to those of you who gave us your end-of-the-year business. We really appreciate it!
e’ve had a couple of things going on already this year. It was good to see so many of you stop by UFC’s booth at the Hub Club’s 36th Annual Farm Show at the New Ulm Civic Center March 10-11. We had a great turnout. We’ll be holding our annual Lawn and Garden Days Spring Sale at our Lafayette Ag Service Center March 31 and April 1. Don’t miss the great deals you will find at this event on lawn and garden equipment including mowers and tillers. Check out the insert in your most recent UFC statement. Of course, if you have any rental needs for this upcoming spring season, contact us as soon as you can. Our inventory of tractors, rollers, field cultivators and seeding equipment will be rented on a first-come-first-served basis. Hopefully, you were able to attend one of our planter clinics this winter. For last-minute parts or planter services, please contact Jason Ries, our Precision Ag Sales Advisor, right away. For those who need assistance with precision planting equipment purchased in the past, we have five factory trained techs who will come to your field during the planting season. These technicians are located at our Lafayette and Judson facilities.
Interested in purchasing a planter? Let us know as soon as possible so we can maximize our program discounts and save you some money. Right after spring planting, the equipment companies begin their programs for 2018 equipment—so think about what you’ll need for next year. Likewise, if you’re thinking of upgrading, expanding, redesigning or repairing your grain handling system, let us know as soon as possible. There is still time to book that work for the coming construction season. Please be proactive if you need any work that must be done before fall. Call and get on our list. We have local grain equipment salesmen at Gaylord and Lafayette. Finally, over the 2017 growing season, look for results of our White Planter outfitted with the latest precision technology. Both United InsightTM and our precision ag team will be participating in trials using this planter. We’ll record the results of those plots throughout the crop year to demonstrate the value of that technology, and we will share this information with our customers. If you have any questions on precision planting technology, seek out your field sales agronomist or stop at our Judson or Lafayette locations. ●
WHITE PLANTER PARTS NOW AVAILABLE IN LAFAYETTE! 20 www.UFCmn.com
Cooperative Health Care Gets Approved Farmers Given an Opportunity to Craft Their Own Solution to Rising Premiums By Jeff Nielsen, President/CEO
fter more than a decade of trips to St. Paul, as well as to Washington, D.C., efforts by United Farmers Cooperative and Cooperative Network finally paid off. On Jan. 25, the Minnesota House of Representatives and Senate overwhelmingly approved a new health care reform act and Governor Dayton signed it into law. This law contains a provision that will allow agricultural producers who join together to develop their own self-insurance programs, like the programs employees of large corporations have enjoyed for years. Over the past 10 years, UFC and Cooperative Network have met with senators, representatives and insurance industry leaders to lay the ground work for this legislation. Cooperative Network is a trade association supported by farm supply cooperatives, grain cooperatives, rural electric cooperatives, credit unions, senior housing cooperatives and other
co-op sectors. One of its’ purposes is to provide expertise and guidance in dealing with policy changes and programs that directly affect cooperatives and their members. This two-state organization was created when the Minnesota Association of Cooperatives merged with the Wisconsin Federation of Cooperatives in 2009. For UFC, this journey began nearly 15 years ago when our company successfully started our own program to provide health care for our growing number of employees. This program has successfully provided employees and their families with stable insurance coverage along with excellent benefits—such as wellness programs and prescription purchasing power. This model has worked so well that the program has not seen a premium increase for nearly seven years. In fact, premiums actually fell in 2017 due to the excellent health and performance of the UFC employee team. Our cooperative’s success provided an example to lawmakers of what could
UFC General Manager Jeff Nielsen, attorney Darcy Hitesma and Matt Hughes of Cooperative Network discuss features of the health care plan with the Legislative Conference Committee. be done if individuals joined together to solve the health insurance challenges. The resulting legislation allows for farmers across Minnesota to group together through an independent cooperative to purchase health coverage. It has taken over a decade to get this law passed. Now that it is in place, we’re working diligently to bring health care alternatives to ag producers as soon as possible. Stay tuned for more on this new solution. For now, the future looks bright. ●
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A DIVISION OF
Crop Insurance and Grain Marketing By Nathan Nordstrom, Director of Grain Merchandising
Chances are you recently signed up for federal multi-peril crop insurance, but you may not be considering the price protection you are receiving through that policy. Crop insurance can serve as an important cornerstone in any marketing plan. It’s one of the lowest-cost ways to add price protection early in the season. Crop insurance also includes the potential for upside if prices improve by harvest. This is why it is often compared to a futures option. However, insurance will also protect against yield loss, and an option will not.
At the same time, it is also important to note some of the shortcomings of crop insurance as price protection: • Higher-than-average yields will reduce the price guarantee. • February and October averages do not take advantage of summer weather markets. • Protection offered by crop insurance expires once the crop is harvested.
A diversified marketing plan with UFC can help overcome some of these shortfalls without the expense of additional insurance. We can review historical data to formulate realistic target prices and come up with a Plan B if markets remain flat. To discuss this further, call the UFC Grain Division at 507-647-6601. ●
HEY NUTRIENTS. WE’RE COMING TO GET YOU. Introducing Levesol, the only pure chelating agent that can be added to liquid fertilizer for in-furrow application. It’s a groundbreaking development that keeps nutrients from becoming bound in the soil to make them more available for your growers’ crops. Help your growers unlock nutrients to maximize nutrient efficiency with Levesol.
PremiumFertilizer.com ©2015 West Central. Levesol is a trademark of West Central Distribution, LLC.
PROPERTY/CASUALTY: Are You Protected? By Tim Lewis and Amber Weber, AgQuest P & C Specialists
After years in risk management, I can tell you there are two events that will cause you to think most about insurance. The first is when the premium is due. The second is when you file a claim. When you suffer a loss, you may well wonder, “Am I covered?” That’s when you dig out your insurance policy and try to read the fine print. All too often, the outcome of a claim hinges on the coverage or denial of coverage in this fine print. It can literally come down to the definition of a single word. Most of us rely on our insurance agent to understand the policy well enough to tell us whether or not we are covered. There is usually only one thing missing in this
insured-agent relationship: communication. Without an open dialogue between you and your agent, insurance can easily become a commodity and your agent an order-taker. When our AgQuest Insurance Team meets with you, we stress the importance of communication. A free exchange of information allows us to dig deep into each policy and make sure the coverage aligns with any changes in your farming operation. It is equally important that you understand (in plain language) what
is and is not covered and what that means for your farm. We make sure that happens. Don’t let fine print catch you off guard, especially when it comes to insurance. Contact UFC’s AgQuest Insurance Team: Amber Weber at 320523-5824, Tim Lewis at 612-756-2903, Vince Sloot at 507-995-9029 or Dawn Wickenhauser at 507-647-6606 ext. 6749. You may email us at email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com and firstname.lastname@example.org, or visit us at www.agquest.net. ●
A LOT GOES INTO OUR SEED BEFORE IT EVEN GOES IN THE GROUND. CROPLAN® alfalfa experts can help you produce a highyielding forage while optimizing your yield potential. We offer conventional and trait-specific alfalfa varieties that can help make your operation stronger and help manage field variability. We put more thinking into your seed so you can get the most out of it and make every acre greater. Learn more at croplan.com/alfalfa
For the 2016 growing season, this product is available for planting in a limited geography and growers must direct any product produced from HarvXtra Alfalfa with Roundup Ready Technology seed or crops (including hay and hay products) only to US domestic use. It is a violation of national and international law to move material containing biotech traits across boundaries into nations where import is not permitted. Growers should talk to their product purchaser to confirm their buying position for this product. ALWAYS READ AND FOLLOW PESTICIDE LABEL DIRECTIONS. Roundup Ready® crops contain genes that confer tolerance to glyphosate. Glyphosate agricultural herbicides will kill crops that are not tolerant to glyphosate. Roundup®, and Roundup Ready® are registered trademarks of Monsanto Technology LLC. HarvXtra™ is a trademark of Forage Genetics International, LLC. HarvXtraTM Alfalfa with Roundup Ready® Technology is enabled with Technology from The Samuel Roberts Noble Foundation, Inc. Due to factors outside of Forage Genetics International’s (FGI’s) control, such as weather, crop production patterns, and other factors, results to be obtained, including but not limited to yields or financial performance, cannot be predicted or guaranteed by FGI. Results are based upon FGI controlled tests and field trials and public trials. Actual results may vary CROPLAN and WinField are registered trademarks of Winfield Solutions, LLC. © 2016 Winfield Solutions, LLC
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PRIDE IN ACTION
Rookie of the Year: Adam Munsterteiger Andy Berdan