Page 1

SIDNEY HERALD

SUNDAY, JAN. 8, 2012

AG DAYS

1B

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2B

Ag Days

SUNDAY, JAN. 8, 2012

SIDNEY HERALD

MonDak Ag Days begins Thursday at fairgrounds event center

FILE

New equipment on display at last year’s MonDak Ag Days trade show.

In the

This year’s MonDak Ag Days and Trade Show will feature a variety of speakers and vendors throughout the three-day event designed to keep agriculture patrons up to date on the latest technology in the industry. The event will take place at the Richland County Fairgrounds Event Center in Sidney. Over 40 vendors will be present at the trade show, which will run from 12-6 p.m. Thursday and 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Friday. Thursday’s program will begin with the home, garden and family program, featuring four different speakers from 8-11 a.m. Richland County Extension agent Judy Johnson will lead off with a discussion on ways to get organized and eliminate clutter. She will be followed by Margaret Bradley of H&R Block, who will provide a checklist of what to bring to a tax preparer when filing a tax return. Dawson County Extension agent Bruce Smith will discuss high tunnel technology, which can extend the growing season for farmers. Edwin Haugen, a Thrivent Financial associate, will conclude the home, garden and family program with a discussion about estate planning. Jude Capper, assistant professor of dairy science at Washington State University, will speak from 11 a.m. to noon about the carbon footprint of beef production. There will be an hour lunch break after Capper’s

presentation, then Andy Roberts, a USDA researcher at the Fort Keogh Livestock and Range Laboratory in Miles City, will discuss beef cow production efficiency from 1-2 p.m. He will be followed by Larry Pilster of the American Sheep Industry, who will make a case for ranchers to increase their sheep numbers. From 3-4 p.m., Michelle Mostrom and Jon Ayers, researchers at North Dakota State University’s veterinary diagnostic laboratory, will give a presentation on the impact of oil wells on livestock production in the MonDak region. From 4-5 p.m., NRCS-CD Richland County director Julie Goss will present an update on the Dry-Redwater Rural Water Authority project. Presentations will stop from 5-6 p.m. for a social hour. A banquet, featuring keynote speaker Trent Loos, an agricultural activist and rancher from central Nebraska, will wrap up Thursday’s program. Friday’s program will begin with a breakfast spondered by the Sidney Area Chamber of Commerce and Agriculture from 7-9 a.m. From 8 a.m. to 3 p.m., Sidney High School will host Ag in the Classroom, at which FFA members will demonstrate activities to elementary school students. Over at the event center, water issues will be discussed from 9-10:30 a.m.

Darin McMurry from the Army Corps of Engineers will speak about the Fort Peck Dam. He will be followed by a member of the Montana Department of Environmental Quality permitting office in Billings, who will discuss the permits necessary to work on or near perennial streams. Laurie Zeller from the Montana Department of Natural Resources will conclude the water program with a talk about 310 permits, which are required for any project that affects the channel or immediate banks of an natural stream. At 10:30 a.m., Jeff Nesbitt, president of Precision Ag Partners, will present information about precision agriculture practices that can be used on a farm. He will be followed by Lawrence Papworth, a mechanical engineer with Alberta Agriculture and Rural Development Ag Tech, who will discuss how farm equipment can be set up to maximize energy efficiency. After a lunch break, Sidney Sugars will conclude Friday’s program with a presentation on the proper way to set up sugar beet harvesting equipment. Ag Days will conclude Saturday with the Keith Steinbeisser Memorial Livestock Judging Contest. The contest will begin at 9 a.m. at the Gartner-Denowh Ranch. Registration begins at 8 a.m.

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STRONG!! Welcome to Richland County Ag Days Jan. 12 & 13 at the Richland County Fair Event Center at the Richland County fairgrounds.

Lawrence Papworth, a mechanical engineer for Alberta Agriculture and Rural Development Ag Tech, and Kerry Rasmussen of Sidney Sugars will speak Friday at MonDak Ag Days about about equipment efficiency. Papworth specializes in energy and will discuss how farm equipment should be

set up to maximize fuel efficiency. His presentation will primarily focus on how to set up a tractor to run at maximum efficiency with the proper ballast and tire pressure. At the end of his presentation, Papworth said he will use a calculator to demonstrate how much money

these techniques can save producers. Rasmussen will discuss the proper way to set-up sugar beet harvesting equipment. Papworth will speak Friday at 11:30 a.m. Rasmussen, the final speaker at this year’s event, will speak Friday at 2 p.m.

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Ag Days

SIDNEY HERALD

3B

SUNDAY, JAN. 8, 2012

Advocate to give keynote speech at Ag Days banquet BY STEVE HAMEL SIDNEY HERALD

A recent report by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations projects worldwide meat consumption to increase nearly 73 percent by 2050 due to projected population growth. Central Nebraska rancher and agriculture advocate Trent Loos believes U.S. ranchers are better equipped to meet this rising demand for meat production than any other group of producers in the world, something he will speak about when he delivers the keynote address at Thursday’s MonDak Ag Days banquet at the Richland County Fairgrounds Event Center in Sidney. “We need to really position ourselves to meet that demand,� Loos said. “I’ll be laying out some of the challenges we have.� Domestic food production is vital to national security, Loos said, but there is a disconnect between food producers and consumers, not just in the United States, but in most of the developed world. “Once affluence comes along and food comes easy, we become very discon-

nected from the source of our food,� he said. Loos has traveled the world doing his part to re-connect food consumers with producers. In 2011, he spoke about agricultural issues in 30 different U.S. states, three Canadian provinces and Australia. For 2012, he has been

‘Once affluence comes along and food comes easy, we become very disconnected from the source of our food.’ Trent Loos Agriculture advocate asked to speak in Vietnam, Brazil and Argentina. He previously spoke in Sidney six years ago at the Bovine Connection seminar in December 2005. “He was very well received,� Richland County Extension agent Tim Fine said. “We decided it was a good time to bring him back.� Loos said his favorite audience is young people because

they are easily motivated to work for causes they are passionate about. “I find they are most willing to learn fact from fiction,� Loos said. “It’s pretty easy to motivate young people. Old, codger ranchers are the most difficult to motivate to do anything new.� Loos records and produces his own radio show, “Loose Tales,� which airs on over 100 radio stations nationwide and can be downloaded ondemand at his website, www.loostales.com. He also writes a blog, loostales.blogspot.com, where he comments on current news regarding the agriculture industry. He is a sixth generation rancher who, along with his wife, raises beef cattle, horses, goats and pigs on their ranch in central Nebraska. Loos was born in Quincey, Ill., where his father still farms land his ancestors farmed when they emigrated from Germany in 1832. Thursday’s banquet will begin at 6 p.m. A beef dinner will be served prior to Loos’ keynote address. Loos will also be available during the 5 p.m. social hour.

Fort Peck reservoir manager to discuss summer flooding at lake Fort Peck Lake saw record water levels last summer, forcing the reservoir’s management team to release water from the Fort Peck Dam at a record rate. Darin McMurry, US Army Corps of Engineers Fort Peck reservoir manager, will speak at MonDak Ag Days about what happened last summer at the Fort Peck

Dam. “I’m going to talk about the events that occurred at the lake and the management of the reservoir system,� McMurry said. In June, the reservoir reached a record-high water level of 2,252.3 feet above sea level, 8.4 inches higher than the previous record set in July 1975, forcing the Army Corps of Engineers to re-

lease water from the dam at record levels. Water release rate peaked at 65,000 cubic feet per second in June. The releases caused flooding along the Missouri River in Montana and North Dakota. McMurry will speak Friday at 9 a.m. at the Richland County Fairgrounds Event Center.

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4B

Ag Days

SUNDAY, JAN. 8, 2012

SIDNEY HERALD

Fort Keogh findings challenge traditional feed efficiency BY STEVE HAMEL SIDNEY HERALD

Andy Roberts, USDA research animal scientist, will speak at MonDak Ag Days Thursday to discuss a study on beef cow production efficiency being conducted by USDA scientists at the Fort Keogh Livestock and Range Research Laboratory in Miles City. Feed consumed by a cowherd is a major cost of beef production, so the Fort Keogh researchers are attempting to reduce the burden of feed costs without sacrificing production. “We’re trying to match the genetics of the cows with the environment people are operating in, and not provide a lot of outside help with a lot of purchased feed or harvested feed,” Roberts said. Traditionally, when open pasture is limited in the winter, ranchers provide their replacement heifer calves and cows with enough feed, either purchased or harvested, to maximize the cows’ probability of successful reproduction. Findings by the Fort Keogh researchers suggest this conventional “feed ‘em to breed ‘em” approach to developing heifers may not yield the most efficient reproductive results. In fact, Roberts said, this approach “may result in drag-

ging along inefficient cows, while other cows may not need that much (feed).” At weaning, the Fort Keogh researchers divided their heifers into a control group, which was given all the feed it could eat, and an experimental group, which received 80 percent of the feed the control group received at common body weights for the first 140 days. The rest of the year, all

‘We’re trying to match the genetics of the cows with the environment people are operating in.’ Andy Roberts USDA researcher cows were managed as one herd. Each subsequent winter, the experimental group received restricted levels of feed compared to the control group. The study found that while the control heifers had a slightly higher pregnancy rate of 93 percent (compared to 89 percent in the experimental heifers), the experimental group saved approximately $24 per pregnant heifer when accounting for the difference in pregnancy

rate. Additionally, the daughters of the experimental group were more drought resistant. “We can set young animals up to be more efficient throughout life by not feeding them to the extent heifers are typically fed,” Roberts said. A detriment to restricting heifer feed intake is lower retention rates, as a few more of the experimental heifers failed to rebreed between ages 2 and 4 than control heifers. However, the cows that failed to rebreed were likely the most inefficient producers in the herd. “The animals we’re losing are probably the animals that needed the most food to stay in production,” Roberts said. The offspring of experimental heifers whose diets were also restricted had similar retention rates to the control group at ages 5 and 6, and may be more likely to have longer life spans. If this proves to be true, the increased longevity more than makes up for the lower retention rate early in life if ranchers can afford to bite the bullet and take a loss in the short-term, Roberts said. Roberts will discuss the Fort Keogh study from 1-2 p.m. Thursday at the Richland County Fairgrounds Event Center.

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Goss to present Dry-Redwater update BY STEVE HAMEL SIDNEY HERALD

Julie Goss of the Richland County Conservation District will present an update on the Dry-Redwater Regional Water Authority project at 4 p.m. Thursday at the Richland County Fairgrounds Event Center. “It’s an update of where we’re at, where we’d like to go and what we need to do to get there,” Goss said. “We

have quite a few people who are interested in it. We want to make sure they know we’re still working on it.” According to the project’s website, the purpose of the Dry-Redwater Regional Water Authority is “to own and operate a water system that will provide good quality and quantity household and livestock water to the owners and members in the coverage area.” The proposed area for the project includes the land

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Ag Days

SIDNEY HERALD

SUNDAY, JAN. 8, 2012

5B

High tunnel use can extend growing season in MonDak BY STEVE HAMEL SIDNEY HERALD

Dawson County Extension agent Bruce Smith will speak Thursday during the home, garden and family program about how the use of high tunnels, also called hoophouses, can extend the growing season for local farmers. High tunnels are plasticcovered unheated greenhouses in the shape of half moons, which can help crops survive difficult spring and fall weather conditions. “It gives you two to four months more of growing season, so crops that normally wouldn’t mature here will mature,� Smith said. Smith said extending the growing season with high tunnels allows farmers to grow crops that normally would not survive in Montana, while other crops can

mature a month or two early, which would diversify and increase local food production. “Not only would you have more stuff to sell, but also stuff for your family,� he said. Smith is currently experimenting with the use of high tunnels to grow spinach, fallbearing raspberries and asparagus. High tunnels are still largely experimental in Montana, but they have been implemented successfully in Europe and New England, Smith said. Smith said high tunnels offer farmers a quick return on their investment, as they typically pay for themselves in one and a half to three years. The Natural Resources Conservation Service has a program that provides funding to farmers wishing to install high tunnels.

Smith was born and raised near Dagmar on a diversified farm and ranch that raises cattle, hogs, sheep, dryland and irrigated small grain crops and hay. Since moving back to eastern Montana in 1996, Smith has been active in value-added agriculture and economic and community development. He is currently the MSU Extension agent for Dawson County in Glendive. His current projects include the development of a farm-to-table restaurant and microbrewery, a culinary arts training program, a shared-use commercial kitchen, an ag marketing cooperative and high tunnel food production systems. Smith is scheduled to speak from 9:15 a.m. to 10 a.m. Thursday. His presentation is titled “Hoophouses and High Tunnels: Extending the Season of Plenty.�

SUBMITTED

A high tunnel six miles south of Glendive.

Financial associate stresses planning BY STEVE HAMEL SIDNEY HERALD

Ed Haugen, a financial associate at Thrivent Financial’s Minot, N.D. office, will speak Thursday at 10 a.m. about estate planning for farmers. Haugen said he will discuss how Thrivent Financial works with farm families by analyzing estate plans. Thrivent Financial encourages farmers to begin the estate planning process early and helps them establish corporations, partnerships and trusts. It also puts a lot of emphasis on how to bring a child into the operation and how to treat the other children fairly, Haugen said. “We give ideas on how to structure everything,� he

Haugen said. “It doesn’t have to be complicated. We can make it understandable for everybody.� Haugen has worked for Thrivent Financial for 32 years. He specializes in farm and ranch analysis, working with people in the area of es-

tate, corporation and partnership issues and family relationship matters. He has formulated a seminar for Thrivent Financial titled, “Keeping The Farm in the Family.� This course is now one of Thrivent Financial’s most requested seminars and is offered in all 50 states. He was recently inducted into the Thrivent Financial “Hall of Fame,� an honor bestowed on less than 2 percent of the financial representatives that work for the company. Haugen also farms and ranches in central North Dakota. The operation has been in his family for over 100 years. sports@sidneyheraldcom

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6B

Ag Days

SUNDAY, JAN. 8, 2012

SIDNEY HERALD

Ag in the Classroom to focus on recycling BY EMILY SCHAFF SIDNEY HERALD

Last year, Ag in the Classroom (an extension of MonDak Ag Days) took place at the Event Center at the Richland County Fairgrounds. This year, Ag in the Classroom is returning to the Sidney High School shop in the agriculture education department, where it was held in previous years. To provide more space, the Sidney High School commons area will also be used for the workshops. Ag in the Classroom, sponsored by Tri-County Implement, will be held Friday

from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. It is estimated over 300 Richland County elementary students, grades second through fourth, and their teachers will be attending this annual event. They will be participating in a minimum of five workshops of 15-30 minute rotations. A majority of these workshops will put a rural twist on the three Rs theme of Reuse, Reduce, Recycle. There will be additional rotations including farm safety and mechanic-related demonstrations. The mechanic rotation will focus on recycling by providing a

show and tell demonstration on how the Sidney FFA chapter constructed the paper bins and new-and-improved paper sheds that will be later introduced to the community. The youth that will be presenting the workshops this year are the Richland County 4-H Jr. Leaders, Savage FFA chapter and Sidney FFA chapter. Sidney FFA, and possibly Savage FFA and the Jr. Leaders, will also be helping with the MonDak Ag Days banquet that is being held at the Event Center Thursday.

SUBMITTED

Sidney FFA members Kris Iversen, left, and Ethan Chamberlain present the steps to making bread to students at last year’s Ag in the Classroom event.

Chamber’s little bit goes a long way BY EMILY SCHAFF SIDNEY HERALD

SUBMITTED

Last year, Richland County 4-H Jr. Leaders talked about winter safety to students from all over Richland County. Presenting to the students are, from left, Jaycee Searer, Clara Jepsen, Rachael Oliver, Jesse Staffanson and Joyce Wick.

Together we keep on growing! Thanks to our Ag Industry

 3 #ENTRAL 3IDNEY s   redc@midrivers.com

The Sidney Area Chamber of Commerce and Agriculture’s major contribution to MonDak Ag Days has always been the Chamber breakfast, from 7-9 a.m. on the Friday of the event. Since Ag Day’s transition to the Event Center as of last year, the Chamber donates a little bit more of its time. Even though it doesn’t seem like much, every bit counts. The Chamber hosted the social before the banquet last year, and will continue to do the same this year. Wade VanEvery, executive director of the Chamber, said because of the change in location to the Event Center, the Chamber has begun hosting the social, in addition to the banquet. “We were in a facility that provided the events, so when we moved out to the Event Center, they asked the Chamber to take it on,� Van-

Every said. The social before the banquet is a chance for people to meet with the guest speaker before the banquet. VanEvery said people were already calling the Chamber asking to buy tickets for the

‘It’s a super program, and we have the best facility in Montana to hold an event like this.’ Wade VanEvery Sidney Chamber director

social. This year’s speaker is Trent Loos, an advocate for agriculture. He will be speaking Thursday during the banquet starting at 6 p.m. The Chamber has always had a booth at Ag Days, rotating members of the agribusiness Chamber. Members vol-

unteer their time to sit in the booth to visit about their business and their role within the Chamber. VanEvery, in preparation for Ag Days, has been busy calling members to see if they are willing to take part in the booth during the local event. “It’s a super program,� VanEvery said about the banquet and Ag Days in general. “And we have the best facility in Montana to hold an event like this.� The public will enjoy the same layout Ag Days had last year at the Event Center. The trade show will be open to the public starting at noon Thursday with various speakers throughout both days. The Sidney Area Chamber of Commerce and Agriculture invites everyone to this annual recognition of agriculture. If you have any questions about the Chamber, please call 433-1916 or check online at www.sidneymt.com.

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Ag Days

SIDNEY HERALD

SUNDAY, JAN. 8, 2012

7B

Sheep demand, prices high BY STEVE HAMEL SIDNEY HERALD

Larry Pilster, executive board member of the American Sheep Industry Association, will speak at MonDak Ag Days Thursday about a new proposal to increase sheep numbers. Pilster says now is a great time to get into the sheep business because prices are high and demand outreaches the supply, something he hopes to convey to the audience at MonDak Ag Days. “I’m going to talk about why you’ve got to be in the sheep business if you aren’t already, and why those that are should increase their numbers,� Pilster said. The American Sheep Industry Association’s “2+2+2=rebuild� campaign encourages current sheep producers to increase their production and encourages new producers to become involved in sheep production. Specifically, it asks each sheep producer to “increase

the size of their operation by two ewes per operation or two ewes per 100 by 2014, increase the average birthrate per ewe to two lambs per year and increase the harvested lamb crop rate by 2

‘I’m going to talk about why you’ve got to be in the sheep business if you aren’t already, and why those that are should increase their numbers.’ Larry Pilster Sheep association board member

percent,� according to the association’s website, www.sheepusa.org. To encourage new producers to add sheep to their operation, the Re-build the Sheep Inventory Committee

suggests “focusing on obtaining beginning rancher grants, strengthening college and internship sheep programs, encouraging starter flock or ownership transition programs, and focusing on online/video education programs and advertising to let people know of the opportunities the sheep industry can provide.� Pilster’s sheep operation in Alzada currently has approximately 1,700 ewes. He is a second generation sheep farmer and has a bachelor’s degree in agriculture production from Montana State University, with a focus in agriculture economics and a minor in ranch management. He used to serve on the board of directors for the Montana Wool Growers Association and served as president of the organization for two terms. Pilster will give his Ag Days presentation Thursday at 2 p.m. in the Richland County Fairgrounds Event Center.

Sens. supporting meat labeling law U.S. CATTLEMEN’S ASSOCIATION RELEASE

The U.S. Cattlemen’s Association (USCA) applauds the bipartisan leadership of senators Tim Johnson (D-S.D.) and Mike Enzi (R-Wyo.) with regard to the challenge of the U.S. Country of Origin Labeling (COOL) law brought by Canada and Mexico at the World Trade Organization (WTO). Johnson and Enzi joined 17 senators on a letter urging the Obama Administration to maintain its support and defense of COOL at the WTO level. While the WTO Dispute Panel’s findings were disappointing, USCA is pleased to see these senators re-affirm their commitment to the U.S. cattle industry and a hugely popular and critical meat la-

beling law. The letter conveys the senators’ recognition of the significant nature of the rule and also reiterates a key point of the COOL case; the information provided through COOL allows consumers access to the information they deserve while the industry is able to identify their product without undue burden to producers or processors. USCA COOL chair and region X director Danni Beer stated, “USCA will remain committed to the COOL law throughout the appeal process. We look forward to working with senators Johnson and Enzi along with their 17 colleagues, as well as our other congressional allies, in order to support the U.S. Trade Representative’s (USTR) efforts in defending U.S. rights in this trade dispute.

USCA will continue to work with the Administration and Congress in order to aggressively defend the rights of U.S. consumers and producers in the appeal process, and we appreciate the effort and commitment shown by these senators.� USCA greatly appreciates the support from the following senators: Johnson, Enzi, Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio), Jon Tester (D-Mont.), Charles Grassley (R-Iowa), Carl Levin (D-Mich.), Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.), Tom Udall (DN.M.), Ron Wyden (D-Ore.), Kent Conrad (D-N.D.), Claire McCaskill (D-Mo.), Mary Landrieu (D-La.), John Barasso (R-Wyo.), Michael Bennet (DColo.), Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.), Tom Harkin (D-Iowa), John Hoeven (R-N.D.), Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.) and John Thune (R-S.D.).

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8B

Ag Days

SUNDAY, JAN. 8, 2012

American cattle producers reducing carbon footprint Washington State University researcher Jude Capper will speak at MonDak Ag Days Thursday at 11 a.m. about her recently published work regarding the carbon footprint of beef production. Below is a press release from the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association about Capper’s work: A study published in this month’s Journal of Science found that raising a pound of beef in the United States today uses significantly fewer natural resources, including land, water, feed and fuel than in the past. “The Environmental Impact of Beef Production in the United States: 1977 compared with 2007� (Journal of Animal Science, Dec. 18, 2011) by Jude Capper, Ph.D., Washington State University, documents that each pound of beef raised in 2007 used 33 percent less land, 12 percent less water, 19 percent less feed and 9 percent less fossil fuel energy than equivalent beef production in 1977. Waste outputs were similarly reduced, shrinking the carbon footprint of beef by 16.3 percent in 30 years. According to Capper’s research, improvements in the way cattle are raised and fed in the United States between 1977 and 2007 yielded 13 percent more total beef from 30 percent fewer animals. Raising more beef from fewer animals maximizes natural resources while providing essential nutrients for the human diet. As the population increases, it is crucial to continue the improvements demonstrated over the past 30 years to meet demand for nutrient-rich beef while reducing resource use and mitigating environmental impact. Turning back the clock on these advancements is not the solution to feeding a world population that recently reached 7 billion and will grow to 9.5 billion by the year 2050, concludes the author. “As the number of mouths to feed increases and the quality of diets in many areas

around the world improves, the demand for nutrient-rich protein like beef will increase,� says Capper. “At the same time, resources like land, water and fossil fuels will become increasingly scarce. These realities are like two trains speeding toward each other on the same track. If we listen to alarmists shouting at us to slow down, we could face a head-on collision of epic proportions. The only way to avoid this disaster is to accelerate the pace of progress.� Capper attributes much of the reduction in beef's environmental footprint to raising cattle on grass pasture before finishing them on an optimal balanced diet of grasses, grains and other forages in a feedyard. According to previous research conducted by Capper, each pound of grain-finished beef requires 45 percent less land, 76 percent less water and 49 percent less feed, and at the same time generates 51 percent less manure and 42 percent fewer carbon emissions than grass-finished beef. “As we work on solutions for the future it is important to understand how far the U.S. livestock industry has come in reducing its environmental footprint in the recent past and how this significant reduction was achieved,� says Capper. “The facts are in. Improved cattle diets in the feedyard and responsible use of science-based technologies to improve the ability of cattle to convert feed to pounds of beef reduces the amount of land, water and fossil fuels it takes to raise beef.� Capper says focusing resources to provide more nutrient rich foods like beef, which provides more than 10 percent of the daily recommended value of 10 essential nutrients and vitamins for less than 10 percent of daily calories (based on a 2,000 calorie per day diet), is a critical success factor in meeting nutrition needs at home and abroad.

SIDNEY HERALD

U.S. sugar farmers among most efficient AMERICAN SUGAR ALLIANCE RELEASE

Despite having some of the strictest labor and environmental standards, U.S. sugar producers are among the most efficient in the world. That’s according to a study conducted by LMC International Ltd., a global commodity research firm based in Oxford, England. Of the 95 sugar-producing countries or regions examined, the United States is more efficient than 75 of them, LMC found in its report, which was released during the International Sweetener Symposium in August. Americans were found to be the world’s most efficient beet sugar producers. LMC updates global cost of production figures regularly, and the current U.S. ranking – 20th lowest cost of 95 – is its best ever. The findings weren’t surprising to Jim Simon, general manager of the Louisianabased American Sugar Cane

League, who joined a representative from LMC for a panel discussion at the sugar industry’s annual meeting. “Louisiana is the birthplace of U.S. sugar production, and over the past few years we’ve had to overcome a lot of adversity, ranging from weather disasters to difficult market conditions,� he said. “We’ve constantly improved our efficiency to stay in business.� Simon notes that the rebound in sugar prices since 2008 has enabled farmers to pay off debt and invest in new equipment that should spur continued efficiency improvements. Jack Roney, an economist with the American Sugar Alliance, moderated the panel and put the findings into perspective. “Critics suggest the U.S. sugar industry is not efficient because there are restraints on the amount of subsidized foreign sugar that can enter the country. This study proves we are among the world’s most efficient

and lowest cost producers,� Roney said. “Import restraints are in place in the U.S., as in most sugar-producing countries, because the world sugar market is polluted with substandard production practices, low labor and environmental standards, and huge trade distortions. “Many of these countries historically dump subsidized surpluses onto the world market for whatever price it’ll bring.� America’s no-cost sugar policy, Roney said, is needed to ensure that less efficient, subsidized foreign competitors don’t run efficient U.S. producers out of business. LMC measures efficiency by adding the cost of producing sugar in the field to the cost of extracting sugar from beets and cane at the mill. Production costs vary by seed variety and field practices, degree of mechanization, use of technology, and labor and environmental standards.

Tax preparer to give tax return advice at Ag Days BY STEVE HAMEL SIDNEY HERALD

Margaret Bradley of H&R Block will speak Thursday at 8:45 a.m. as part of the home, garden and family program. Bradley, who has been the franchise owner of H&R

Block in Sidney for 27 years, will talk about what needs to be brought to a tax preparer to file a tax return. “It’s kind of a checklist of what you need to prepare to do your taxes,� she said. Among the information that should be brought to a

tax preparer are W-2 and 1099 forms, records of all income, deductions, last year’s tax return (if you are seeing a new tax preparer), donations to non-profits and charity and medical-related mileage. Bradley will also answer questions from the audience.

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Ag Days

SIDNEY HERALD

9B

SUNDAY, JAN. 8, 2012

Oil activity may cause problems for area livestock producers BY STEVE HAMEL SIDNEY HERALD

Michelle Mostrom and Jon Ayers, researchers at North Dakota State University’s veterinary diagnostic laboratory, will give a presentation regarding livestock production in oil field areas and the problems ranchers face with increased oil activity during Thursday’s MonDak Ag Days program. “It’s a heads up of some of the problems you can run into,� Mostrom said. “Not only are you taking care of your own operation, you are monitoring another industry to make sure it doesn't impact you.� Mostrom, who studied cattle exposed to crude oil and other petroleum hydrocarbons as a researcher for Alberta Environment in the 1990s, said accidents and spills are bound to occur, and it is important for livestock producers to keep track of their fencing and know where their livestock’s water source is in relation to the oil patch. “We’ve seen a lot of acci-

dents over the years with different types of hydrocarbons,� she said. Oil spills can subject livestock to hydrocarbon exposure if the oil leaks into nearby soil or water and is then consumed by grazing or

‘Not only are you taking care of your own operation, you are monitoring another industry to make sure it doesn’t impact you.’ Michelle Mostrom NDSU reseacher

drinking cattle. Oil well blowouts can result in direct skin exposure or inhalation of contaminated air when livestock are downwind of the well. “Most of the major problems are exposure to contamination,� Ayers said. “Often

areas around wells are fenced off, but sometimes the fence is broken down and animals get into that area.� Among the signs an animal is suffering from petroleum poisoning are problems with coordination, seizures, bloating, constipation and coughing, Mostrom said. Petroleum contamination is a serious concern because it has been known to interfere with livestock reproduction, but Ayers said these problems are rare. “Overall (livestock) is pretty well protected, but accidents happen that create problems.� Calves whose mothers were subjected to hydrocarbon exposure are more likely to have stunted growth and poor immune systems. “They have a higher incidence of diseases and don’t respond well to antibiotics,� Mostrom said. Stillbirth abortions are also more common in cows exposed to hydrocarbons. Mostrom and Ayers will give their presentation at 3 p.m. Thursday at the Richland County Fairgrounds Event Center.

SUBMITTED

A horse grazes near an oil well site west of Culbertson.

Storm of looming estate taxes, high land values threaten American farmers BY LYNNE FINNERTY AG NEWS WIRE

Two recent news reports contained troubling year-end news for farm and ranch families. Farmland values are booming. Minnesota farmland prices are nearly 30 percent higher than a year ago, according to the Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis. It’s a similar catastrophe in Iowa where an Iowa State University survey shows high corn and soybean prices have driven average farmland values to a new record of almost $7,000 per acre. In Montana, the price of acreage has also seen a very steep increase, especially in land being gobbled up for recre-

ational uses. Because of a high price paid for a neighbor’s land, one rancher’s hay field was recently valued at $10,000 per acre. I know what you’re thinking: “Isn’t that good news for farmland owners who want to sell?� Well, yes, it is good news. That is, unless the farm family patriarch or matriarch dies after December 2012, when current estate tax relief will end. Higher farmland values mean that more people will face the difficult task of figuring out how to pay the estate tax and keep the farm in the family – without having to sell land or other assets needed to farm. Estate tax relief would have expired last year, but Congress passed a bill to set the exemption at $5 mil-

lion and the top tax rate at 35 percent for two years. Unless Congress extends the exemption and rates, or even better, eliminates the estate tax, a $1 million exemption and a top tax rate of 55 percent will kick in on Jan. 1, 2013. Farm families will be outside the exemption on as few as 143 acres in Iowa, where the average farm size is about 330 acres. In Minnesota, the transfer of just 166 acres from one generation to the next will come with a tax bill of hundreds of thousands of dollars. For all the talk these days about buying local food from family farmers, you’d think that keeping farms in the family would be a top priority for Congress. But if estate tax relief

expires, then it’s almost certain that some of today’s farm families will be selling land rather than selling corn and tomatoes at the local farmers’ market or grain at the local elevator. Some are able to avoid the tax through savvy planning. But, the cost of estate tax planning, an ongoing endeavor due to changes in farm structure and tax law, is a heavy burden on a farmer’s bottom line in a time of high production costs. While farm income rose 28 percent this year, production expenses rose 12 percent to $320 billion. Some agricultural experts warn that increases in costs for feed, fertilizer and fuel – and land – could outpace

increases in farm income after 2013, due to the cyclical nature of crop profitability. They advise farmers and ranchers to save now for the rainy days ahead, something that’s easier to do if you don’t have to pay lawyers and estate tax planners. Today’s record-breaking farmland values should indeed be good news for farmers, but the threat of estate taxes to their families’ ability to continue their agricultural heritage puts a damper on things. Farmland values combined with the expiration of estate tax relief and the aging of America’s farmers and ranchers forecast a perfect storm that could leave fewer farms in business to feed their communities and our nation.

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10B

Ag Days

SUNDAY, JAN. 8, 2012

SIDNEY HERALD

Rwandan scientist works with MSU researcher to battle plant disease BY CAROL SCHMIDT MSU NEWS SERVICE

BILL VANDER WEELE | SIDNEY HERALD

Judges examine pigs at last year’s Ag Days livestock judging contest.

Livestock judging wraps up Ag Days BY JULIANNE SNEDIGAR MSU EXTENSION AGENT

For many years, livestock judging has been part of Ag Days in Sidney. The Keith Steinbeisser Memorial Livestock Judging attracts youth representing junior 4-H, senior 4-H and FFA, along with about a dozen adults from across the region to compete at the event. This year’s contest will be held Saturday in Sidney. Registration will start at 8 a.m. at Gartner-Denowh Angus Ranch, and the contest will begin at 9 a.m. Competition winners receive quality prizes. The high point individuals in junior and senior 4-H and FFA receive Montana Silversmith belt buckles valued at $150 each. The top teams receive rosettes. This year the adult team winners will compete for a jackpot. Awards will be handed out after the contest at the ranch starting at 1 p.m. A meal will be available to participants at the event. Evaluation of livestock is an exciting and thought provoking experience. The ultimate goal of livestock judging is to compare the participants perception of an animal against the ideal, and

then to contrast their opinion with that of another individual or group of individuals. The idea of the perfect animal is constantly changing. The direction of animal agriculture is driven by a variety of factors. As good livestock judges, youth learn to keep up with agriculture trends and changes in livestock breeds and characteristics. Livestock judging consists of two primary components: placing a group of animals and orally justifying the decision (reasons). The placing of a class, or comparing the individuals within a class to the ideal, allows an evaluator to make decisions drawing upon their experiences. This portion of livestock judging is often seen as an enjoyable “matching of wits.� It allows a participant to establish priorities and to strategize as to the final placing. The second portion, oral reasons, often conjures up more anxiety. However, for those who are prepared, reasons present an exciting chance to share their thoughts and priorities with an expert, ultimately allowing the expert to evaluate the decision making process. Beyond the act of competi-

tive livestock judging, the contestants’ involvement will provide additional benefits. It exposes participants to teamwork, effective communication skills and analytical thinking and aides them in gaining the confidence to defend their decisions. Developing these skills will benefit the contestant in almost every other area of their life, both now and in the future. In addition, the participant will have the opportunity to meet and interact with the industry leaders of today and those preparing for tomorrow. Many participants work years to perfect their judging abilities, but it can also be fun for the beginner. No matter what level you are at, livestock judging has something to offer everyone. It enhances decision making capabilities and provides the opportunity to defend those decisions though verbally spoken reasons. The Keith Steinbeisser Memorial Livestock Judging during Ag Days is a great opportunity for everyone to try judging. For more information on livestock judging or this contest, contact the Richland County Extension Office at 433-1206.

Our roots are in Agriculture. We’ve been providing for the financial needs of our Ag members for over 70 years, and we’ll be here for the next 70 years. Rob Breuer, our Ag loan officer, would be happy to talk with you about your financial needs. Call or stop in and talk to any one of our professionals.

“Take ownership of your financial future�

A Rwandan scientist is working with Montana State University scientists to understand a disease that is devastating to staple food crops in his country. Theodore Asiimwe, director of agriculture in Rwanda’s southern agriculture zone and coordinator of biotechnology unit of his country’s agriculture board, is completing a three-month fellowship at MSU that will help him understand Ralstonia solanacearum, the causal agent of potato bacterial wilt as well as wilt in crops that belong to the solanaceae family, such as tomato and eggplant. Asiimwe is at MSU on a Borlaug Fellowship administered through the U.S. Department of Agriculture. The Borlaug Fellowship promotes agricultural development by supporting scientists from developing countries. Asiimwe came to MSU in October to work with Barry Jacobsen, MSU professor and Extension specialist in plant pathology. Jacobsen is an expert in potato and sugar beet diseases, especially the biological control of soil borne pathogens and noxious weeds. Asiimwe is also working with other MSU scientists, including Alice Pilgeram and David Sands. “Because the pathogen is economically important in my country, I needed to work with someone in the U.S. who had a background with it,� Asiimwe said. “With Ralstonia, you want to get it right from beginning.� R. solanacearum is a pathogen found worldwide, but is most common in tropical environments. It survives in soil and surface water and infects plants through the roots, multiply-

ing in xylem vessels blocking water transport, leading to wilting and death of the plant, Asiimwe said. Although R. solanacearum is not found in Montana, Jacobsen has studied the pathogen. He said strains do exist that could survive Montana’s winters and could threaten the state’s potato seed industry. One of his previous graduate students, who was from the African country of Mali, wrote her graduate thesis on the races of the bacteria found in her samples of Ralstonia. The results were published and the USDA, which sponsors the Borlaug scholar program, contacted Jacobsen to see if he would be willing to work with Asiimwe. Jacobsen explains that once the races of the bacteria in the Rwandan samples are identified, scientists can determine the best means to control the disease, including resistant potato varieties, biocontrols and disease-resistant root stocks of tomato and other crops. While at MSU, Asiimwe is using different techniques such as use of selective media, biochemical characterization, immuno studies, plant-host pathogenicity trials and DNA fingerprinting to understand the soil-borne pathogen. As part of the program, Jacobsen traveled to Rwanda, which he calls a “stunningly beautiful and progressive country,� to help Asiimwe collect samples that were brought to MSU. “A lot of what he is doing is DNA work, which is the modern way to identify races,� Jacobsen said. “We can also do confirming work in the plant quarantine center here. We are unique in having that ability.� In fact, Asiimwe said while he was working at MSU he was surprised to

learn the rate at which Ralstonia solanacearum becomes contaminated, making it hard to get pure isolates. Jacobsen said that when Asiimwe returns to Rwanda Jan. 10, he’ll be able to set up experiments similar to the ones he has been doing at MSU and continue his research. Jacobsen will also return to Rwanda to help Asiimwe implement Ralstonia management strategies there. While he is at MSU, Asiimwe is also learning about Montana’s potato seed certification program. While Rwanda has a program to produce disease-free potato seed that is similar to Montana’s, Asiimwe has seen how the seed program can be transferred to private certified seed growers. Asiimwe won distinction among this year’s 34 Borlaug scholars, who hail from developing countries in Asia, South America, Africa and the Middle East, when he was selected to give a few remarks and introduce U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack at a Borlaug meeting on the sidelines of the 2011 World Food Prize events. The scholars are in the U.S. on a USDA program honoring Norman E. Borlaug, who won the Nobel Peace Prize in 1970 for his success in developing highyield wheat varieties and reversing severe food shortages in India and Pakistan in the 1960s. The goal of the program is to help increase scientific knowledge in developing countries through collaborative research that will improve agricultural productivity. “I have enjoyed being able to work with knowledgeable scientists who offered me great hospitality,� Asiimwe said.

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