Kinze uses farmer feedback to build new front-fold, narrow transport planter

With corn continuing to sell for $7 and soybeans for $14 a bushel, farmers are showing more interest in investing in new planters and combines. Companies like Kinze Manufacturing Inc. are spending more time talking to farmers and finding what they need to improve production and returns on their investment. Kinze’s Susanne Kinzenbaw Veatch talked about the company’s new 4900 planter in this interview at the Kinze Innovation Center in Williamsburg, Iowa. For more information visit

Nine factors that could impact commodity markets this decade

Nine factors that could impact commodity markets this decade

The ability of U.S. producers to feed a burgeoning global population depends on nine crucial factors, according to Jim Wiesemeyer, senior vice president, Informa Economics, speaking at the National Alliance of Independent Crop Consultants, in Jacksonville, Fla.

Global growth and the rise of the middle class in developing countries.The shining example – China. Over the last 10 years, real income in China is up 175 percent and dairy consumption is up 212 percent.

China has also fallen hard for the automobile, noted Wiesemeyer. “China did not import a single barrel of oil just a few years ago. Today, they are the second largest world importer. The Chinese are like we were in the 1950s and 1960s, loving cars. And they aren’t going to go back.”

In addition, “China’s purchases of both soybeans and energy forces the United States and other countries to become more efficient and innovative in the use of energy. Now we have a big competitor as a customer.”

The value of the U.S. dollar.“The best producers tell me they are going to watch the U.S. dollar. Once it bottoms, they are going to be aggressive sellers. That will be the beginning of the tempering of the bull market.”

Worldwide biofuels production. Europe and the United States are starting to have discussions of how much energy should be utilized from corn and other food products, Wiesemeyer said. “There is still wide support in the United States on corn for ethanol.”

The role of trade and trade liberalization and transportation.To continue to grow and produce crops “you have to have a sane trade policy and an infrastructure program for throughput, either domestically or to export,” Wiesemeyer said. “(The latter) is where we are going to be wanting over the next few years. The one thing that has made agriculture competitive for decades is our river system, the locks and dams, the ports, the railroads. But this system is in need of a couple of trillion dollars just to keep up. So there are going to be some competitiveness issues in the coming years.”

Energy and agricultural input prices. These are crucial in making planting decisions.

Developments in biotechnology, yields and precision. “I’ve been to meetings over the last three months in which the major theme was precision agriculture,” Wiesemeyer said. “One big seed company purchased an equipment company recently that in one field pass can plant up to six varieties of seed. Bottom line, by the end of the decade you will see a fundamental shift in seed technology that will really boost yield potential to serve this growing market.”

Additional crop land in Brazil, Ukraine and Africa.“The future breadbasket of Europe is Ukraine, Kazakhstan and Russia. Investment plus good soil plus freedom equals production. You could see some investment come into Ukraine.”

Weather. “These last two things can make you look stupid. One is weather. Are we going to have another drought this year? We are down to pipeline stocks right now. We have the lowest cattle inventory since 1953. Our U.S. producers have not stopped their expansion, but they will if we have another drought. You could have demand destruction that will take years to bring back. That’s how significant this coming crop season is.”

Politics and policy.“If Washington doesn’t deal with debt and spending, and really deal with it, or if Europe’s economy goes into severe recession, it’s going to get ugly. I don’t think that will happen.”

On the other hand, Wiesemeyer hasn’t seen this much discord on the Hill since he’s been there.

“When I got to Washington in the mid-1970s, both parties talked to each other. They were civil. We had a president who was president of all of the people, not just a party. There was a line of demarcation.”


Wiesemeyer said that crop insurance is also a likely focus of farm bill discussions. “We already have record crop insurance payouts for the 2012 U.S. crop of 12.4 billion. Total premiums were a little over 11 billion dollars. For the first time since 2002, the government and the crop insurance industry are going to pay out more than it took in.”

The biggest payouts went to corn producing states, Illinois, $1.6 billion, and Iowa, $1.3 billion.

“In the farm bill baseline over the next 10 years, government analysts project that crop insurance will spend $90 billion, second only to the nutrition program in the farm policy,” Wiesemeyer said. “So the naysayers of farm policy, the Environmental Working Group, etc., are going to target crop insurance in the years ahead.”






Grain storage safety meeting agenda

While grain bins continue to be built rapidly around the Mid-South, two February meetings in east Arkansas will focus on grain storage safety issues.  

Annual Stateline Fruit, Vegetable Growers Conference Set

Annual Stateline Fruit, Vegetable Growers Conference Set

University of Illinois Extension and University of Wisconsin Extension will host the 17th Annual Stateline Fruit and Vegetable Growers Conference on Monday, Feb. 11, at Midway Village Museum in Rockford.

Annual Stateline Fruit, Vegetable Growers Conference Set

The conference will feature speakers from University of Illinois Extension, University of Wisconsin Extension, and Purdue University Extension. Liz Maynard, Extension specialist with Purdue University, will be the keynote speaker. She will discuss last year's cantaloupe contamination in Indiana – how it happened and how to prevent it from happening again. Other session topics include insect and disease control for fruits and vegetables, use of high tunnels, organic soil amendments, drought issues, crop storage, produce safety tips, and more.

The Stateline Fruit and Vegetable Growers Conference is for both experienced and beginning farmers, conventional and organic growers, and those with many acres as well as small-scale market growers. Sessions will provide research-based information and best practices from Illinois, Wisconsin, and Purdue University Extension Services.

Competitions will be part of this year's conference. The Innovator Competition will highlight farmers' ability to fix, mend, and innovate. Entries can be anything that has been created to solve a problem or make a piece of equipment easier to use or safer to use. Only a picture and description are needed on the entry form.

The Social Media Contest, which will showcase farmers who have added marketing to their business plans and made an investment in marketing tools, will be offered at the Stateline Fruit and Vegetable School. Categories include farm websites, farm Facebook pages, and farm marketing tools such as brochures or flyers. The categories will be evaluated for effectiveness, branding, comprehensive information, and professionalism. A nominal award to the entry with the most points will be announced during the last session on marketing.

The competitions are limited to registered participants in the Stateline Fruit and Vegetable Conference. Check out the rules and download an entry form

The cost to attend is $40 per person or $50 for late registration (after Feb. 7). Registration includes two general education sessions, attendee's choice of four breakout sessions, continental breakfast, and lunch. To register, visit or call the U of I Extension-Winnebago County office at 815-986-4357.

For more information, contact Ellen Phillips, Extension educator and local foods and small farms educator at or phone her at 815-732-2191.

The Annual Stateline Fruit and Vegetable Growers Conference is co-sponsored by U of I and University of Wisconsin Extension.

Joseph Gallo Farms receives California’s highest environmental honor

Joseph Gallo Farms, maker of Joseph Farms Cheese, was awarded the 2012 Governor’s Environmental and Economic Leadership Award for its sustainable farming and cheese making.

Joseph Gallo Farms, located in Atwater, received the award in the Sustainable Practices or Facilities category in a ceremony in Sacramento.

The award, known as the GEELA, is California’s highest and most prestigious environmental honor. It recognizes individuals, organizations and businesses for their exceptional leadership in voluntary achievements that help conserve California’s resources, protect and enhance the environment and build public-private partnerships.

“We are honored and pleased that the Governor has recognized our commitment to sustainable practices,” said Mike Gallo, CEO of Joseph Gallo Farms. “Sustainability is something my family and I are very passionate about. This award is a testament to the amazing support we receive from our family of customers and employees, and it inspires us to continually improve.”

Joseph Gallo Farms began in 1946 as a small family farm and is today a model of sustainable agriculture, pioneering practices that have become industry standards for large-scale dairying and cheese making. The farm’s biogas digester turns methane into power to run the cheese-making operation, and it reclaims and reuses 100 percent of the effluent in a closed system.

The third-generation family farm has pioneered investments in renewable energy, which have played a crucial role in allowing the family to reduce dependence on fossil fuel, better preserve the natural environment and maximize economic health. Joseph Gallo Farms was able to create hundreds of new jobs during the recession, Gallo noted.

“We designed our operation to maximize efficiency and sustainability, and we are proud that our practices have a positive impact on our community and the natural environment,” he added.

The Governor’s Award joins a long list of awards for Joseph Gallo Farms’ environmentally sustainable practices, including three California EPA awards for waste reduction; a U.S. EPA award for outstanding leadership in protecting the environment; and awards from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and other environmental agencies for the development of ag conservation easements and wetlands preservation and restoration.

Joseph Gallo Farms’ cheeses are 100 percent natural, hormone free and award-winning, with a record 30 awards for its dairy products in 2012 alone, including 17 gold medals at state, national and international competitions. Among the gold medal winners are the newest Joseph Farms cheeses – Chipotle Cheddar, Jalapeño Muenster, Italian Garden Jack, Caraway Cheddar and Reduced Fat Monterey Jack.

For information, visit

Joseph Farms is a 66-year-old, family-owned dairy and cheese-making business in the small community of Atwater in the San Joaquin Valley. The Gallo family’s focus on quality and sustainability includes a methane-powered cheese plant and innovative environmental programs that earned them awards from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the Governor’s Environmental and Economic Leadership Award. The family dairy is Environmentally Certified by the California Dairy Quality Assurance Program, all cheeses are proudly labeled “No Artificial Hormones” and all cheeses are made with Grade A milk. Joseph Farms ships its award-winning cheeses internationally.

Vineyard plan opens door for industry investment

A new, unprecedented agreement between Fresno State Vineyards and industry partners paves the way for increased investment in the university’s viticulture and enology programs and provides a revamped infrastructure to remain on the leading edge of industry advancements.

Improvements will include development of new raisin, table and wine grape instructional and demonstration plots in the vineyards for training students and hosting educational workshops for industry constituents while spurring financial investment.

“This is a new era for our program,” said Dr. James Kennedy, chair of the Department of Viticulture and Enology.

He said the agreement was a collaborative effort between the Agricultural Foundation of California State University, Fresno, which oversees Fresno State Vineyards, the foundation’s Viticulture and Enology Industry Advisory Board (IAB), Fresno State Vineyards and various individual industry sponsors, and represents a commitment to coordinate redevelopment efforts and financial investment for the campus vineyards, ensuring that Fresno State students remain on the leading edge of the industry’s advancements, Kennedy added.

“We look forward to promoting industry investments into the vineyard to ensure that our students -- our future workforce -- are well trained in vineyards that are relevant to the grape and wine industry and to the outside world,” Kennedy said. “I look forward to the educational impact of improvements that represent the latest varieties, trends and technologies,” he said.

Dianne Nury, president of Vie-Del Winery of Fresno who is vice chair of the IAB, said the plan -- which the board approved unanimously Jan. 10 -- is the first of its kind and presents a financial incentive for industry to invest in the program.

“We are supportive of this endeavor and see it as a major step forward in advancing the viticulture and enology department’s mission of training students for the future,” Nury said.

In 2011, Kennedy assembled an evaluation team of industry and department representatives to help develop a long-range strategic plan for the Fresno State Vineyards. The team, with all segments of the grape and wine industry represented, identified areas that could strengthen the educational program, thus sustaining Fresno State’s hands-on approach to learning, he explained.

The results led to the MOU -- what Kennedy called “a new model for creating university-industry partnerships.”

Pat Ricchiuti, owner of P-R Farms in Clovis and chair of the Agricultural Foundation’s Board of Directors, said the plan will help with upgradingthe university vineyards and expressed the foundation’s gratitude for the support of industry partners.

“Their partnership to invest in the redevelopment of our vineyards is so critical given the age and condition of our farm laboratory,” Ricchiuti, said. “These vineyards are an important instructional component of our students' academic experience at Fresno State and it is our responsibility to provide our students with the latest farming technologies and vineyard development practices." 

The first vines at Fresno State were planted more than 60 years ago and are operated under the auspices of the university’s Agricultural Foundation. Today, approximately 120 acres of raisin, table and wine grapes are currently in production and are used for teaching and research purposes.

For more information, contact the Department of Viticulture and Enology at 559.278.2089.

Winter canola proves good winter rotation crop

ROOSEVELT OKLA farmer Kalin Flournoy believes winter canola offers him a valuable winter crop to rotate with winter wheat Flournoy shown here in a corner of the canola field is in his second year of canolawheat rotation at his farm east of Roosevelt He has planted half of his farm acreage to wheat and half to canola
<p> ROOSEVELT, OKLA., farmer Kalin Flournoy believes winter canola offers him a valuable winter crop to rotate with winter wheat. Flournoy, shown here in a corner of the canola field, is in his second year of canola-wheat rotation at his farm east of Roosevelt. He has planted half of his farm acreage to wheat and half to canola.</p>

Winter canola is a new crop for farmer Kalin Flournoy, who lives east of Roosevelt, Okla. Flournoy planted his second canola crop last fall after suffering a lot of hail damage on a "beautiful canola crop" in the spring of 2012.

"Even after all the hail damage," he said, "we still averaged 16 bushels per acre on the crop."

Flournoy was looking for another winter crop to grow with his wheat when he learned about canola. He called the Producers Cooperative Oil Mill in Oklahoma City. Oil mill staff members have been promoting the new Southern Plains crop for several years. Heath Sanders, an agronomist with the Cooperative specializing in winter canola production, called Flournoy.

"Heath answered a lot of questions for me about canola," Flournoy says. "After we talked on the telephone, he eventually visited me at the farm to help me set up my grain drill to plant the crop.”

Flournoy says farmers in the Roosevelt area of mid-Kiowa County have received a little rain in the last few weeks. "The canola crop was growing well before it went into dormancy with cold weather," he said. "It has a long taproot that seeks ground moisture really well. Even with the bad drought, the crop takes advantage of all the water it receives, even small amounts at a time."

He planted Pioneer Roundup Ready canola this year.

The Flournoy family has approximately 500 acres of crop land. For the past two years, he has planted about 250 acres of canola on one site and the same amount in wheat on the other side of the farm."I just shift sides each year with the two crops," he said.

While cotton production is important to the surrounding farming area, Flournoy isn't optimistic about summer crops."With the terrible drought we have here now, summer just brings more heat and dry ground to worry about. Finding canola has been a big score for us. It helps to have two different crops growing in cooler weather with less heat and moisture loss."

Flournoy runs a highly-diversified operation. His main source of income is farm and ranch real estate. He is a principal broker in Southern Plains Land Company, a real estate company in Wichita Falls, Texas. "While we have some business in Oklahoma, we concentrate in Texas," he said. "Farmers and ranchers in the major Texas agriculture areas are our main focus."

Flournoy and his family bought their current operation in 2006 after selling a cattle back-grounding operation in southeastern Oklahoma.

He wanted to find a place located halfway between that area and the feedlots in the Texas High Plains. "We found this place for sale and it fits us," he said. "It’s just about halfway between our old stomping grounds and the Dalhart, Texas, area."

Flournoy and his 15 year-old son, Wyatt, do their own farm work, planting crops and harvesting with their own combine. "We bought a draper/swather to prepare the canola for harvest and then combined it."

He and his wife, Heather, also have two daughters, Hannah, 13, and Lacy, 11. Their 12 year old niece, CC, lives with them and helps with farm chores, too.

A new crop for the Southern Plains, winter canola now is planted in approximately 275,000 Oklahoma farm acres this year. Kansas has about 34,000 acres and Texas farmers planted about 22,000 acres.

EPA Proposes RIN Integrity Plan

EPA Proposes RIN Integrity Plan

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency on Thursday revealed a proposed structured process for buyers of Renewable Identification Numbers in order to verify their validity.

Under the proposal, RINs would be verified through a new voluntary quality assurance program that also includes alternative compliance options.

Renewable fuel producers and importers generate RINs based on the volume of compliant renewable fuel that they make available. RINs can then be traded and used by petroleum refiners and importers to show compliance with their volume obligations.

Stakeholders will have 30 days to weigh in on efforts to improve RIN verification

Following a number of high profile RIN fraud cases, EPA expects its rulemaking to improve the overall liquidity in the RIN market and in particular make it easier for smaller renewable fuel producers to sell their RINs.

Part of the proposal to improve RIN verification includes a Quality Assurance Plan that would provide a recognized means for independent third parties to audit the production of renewable fuel and verify that RINs have been validly generated.

For RINs that have been verified according to an approved QAP, the program would provide protection against liability for civil violations resulting from the transfer or use of invalidly generated RINs under certain conditions. The rule would also specify both the conditions under which invalid RINs must be replaced with valid RINs, and by whom.

The proposed rule, which will be available for a 30-day public comment period, allows verification of RINs to begin this year. EPA will consider feedback from a range of stakeholders before the proposal is finalized.

Anne Steckel, National Biodiesel Board vice president of federal affairs said the problem of invalid RINs was caused by a handful of wrongdoers who took advantage of good policy.

"Enforcement along with these tightened regulations will go a long way toward preventing anything like this from happening again," Steckel said.

Both Steckel and Tom Buis, Growth Energy CEO, said they look forward to working with the EPA to ensure a successful program.

More information on the proposed rule and the RFS program can be found at

Farms operated by beginning farmers in decline

Farms operated by beginning farmers in decline

USDA programs have targeted assistance to beginning farmers and ranchers since the 1992 Agricultural Credit Improvement Act. Farms or ranches are considered “beginning” if the operators have managed them for 10 years or less. The Economic Research Service has looked at the trend in numbers of beginning farmers and ranchers in recent decades and examined some key characteristics that distinguish them from established farms using the Census of Agriculture and the Agricultural Resource Management Survey. Taken every five years, the Census provides the only source of uniform, comprehensive and impartial agricultural data for every county in the nation.

For more than two decades, the share of farms operated by beginning farmers has been in decline.  Beginning farms and ranches accounted for 22 percent of the nation’s 2 million family farms and ranches in 2011 – down from about 38 percent in 1982. Consistent with this trend, the average age of principal farm operators in the United States has risen in that period, from 50 to 58.

As beginning farms are smaller on average than established farms, they account for only 10 percent of production on family farms. Beginning farmers often report that their biggest challenge in getting started in farming is access to enough capital and farmland to operate at a size capable of earning a sufficient profit. Not surprisingly, the households of beginning farm operators have lower farm and nonfarm net worth than the households of established farms.

While most beginning farms include some operator-owned land, they are more likely than established farms to have only rented land. For U.S. farmers in general, the most common way to have acquired “owned land” for their operation is to have purchased it from a nonrelative. But established farms of all size classes are more likely than beginning farms to have inherited or purchased their owned land from relatives.

Most U.S. farm households—whether beginning or established—have for decades received a majority of their household income from off-farm sources.  For beginning farm households, average farm income is less than that for established farm households, but their off-farm income is higher on average than that of established farm households. This difference holds, regardless of farm size.

Operators and spouses on beginning farms are even more likely than their counterparts on established farms to work at off-farm jobs and businesses, and are also more likely to have a college degree. Off-farm income can enable beginning farmers and spouses to meet living expenses and/or to expand farm operations if their long-term goal is to farm full time.

Our new report, Beginning Farmers and Ranchers at a Glance, also compares beginning farms and ranches with established enterprises by other characteristics, including commodity specialties, participation in government programs, and value of production.  (Additional information on beginning farmers and ranchers can be found on the ERS website.)

'Super Science Day' Saturday Feb. 2, at UC Davis

&#039;Super Science Day&#039; Saturday Feb. 2, at UC Davis

While the San Francisco 49ers and the Baltimore Ravens are gearing up for Super Bowl Sunday, UC Davis, is gearing up for a "Super Science Day" — the second annual “Biodiversity Museum Day."

The event, free and open to the public, will be from 1 to 4 p.m. on Saturday, Feb. 2, when six museums or centers that engage in education and research involving insects, vertebrates, fossils, or plants will host open houses.

They are the Bohart Museum of Entomology, the Botanical Conservatory, Center for Plant Diversity, the Geology Museum, the Anthropology Museum, and the Museum of Wildlife and Fish Biology.

The event showcases UC Davis’ impressive research collections and museums; each museum has a research collection that documents the biodiversity of life in California.

All participating museums have active education and outreach programs, but not all the museums are always accessible to the public. On Feb. 2 they will be.

"This will be the only time during the year when many of these collections of rare objects can be visited by the public," said Lynn Kimsey, director of the Bohart Museum and professor of entomology at UC Davis. "Our staff is excited to show off some of our more important specimens. The event is perfect for all ages; we have something for everyone."

Visitors can go behind-the-scenes to learn how research is conducted, and to see some of the curators’ favorite pieces. They can explore displays and talk with scientists, and participate in fun activities and crafts. The event is billed as a "family event" and an opportunity for people of all ages to see the museums.

The UC Davis Biodiversity Museum Day could also be “Super Science Saturday,” because the event is the day before “Super Bowl Sunday.”

The first-ever UC Davis Biodiversity Museum Day originated last year when Tabatha Yang, education and outreach coordinator for the Bohart Museum and Museum of Wildlife and Fish Biology approached Ernesto Sandoval of the Botanical Conservatory and asked about the possibility of weekend hours. Then two other centers committed: UC Davis Botanical Conservatory and the  UC Davis Center for Plant Diversity.

This year the Geology Museum, the Anthropology Museum joined the Biodiversity Musem Day.

All museums are located on the main UC Davis campus, and parking is free. Visitors are encouraged to stroll around the campus visiting the six different collections (all indoors).

Maps, signs and guides will be available at each site.  

The locations:

Bohart Museum of Entomology, Room 1124 of Academic Surge, Crocker Lane (formerly California Drive)

Museum of Wildlife and Fish Biology, 1394 Academic Surge, Crocker Lane

UC Davis Botanical Conservatory, Kleiber Hall Drive

Center for Plant Diversity, Sciences Laboratory Building, off Kleiber Hall Drive, near Briggs Hall

Anthropology Collections, Young Hall, off A Street

Geology Collections, Earth and Physical Sciences Building, across from Academic Surge Building