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2012 Drought Affecting 2013 Food Prices

A USDA economist says the persistent drought in the Midwest will lead to higher-than-normal food price inflation for the rest of the year. Ricky Volpe, USDA Economic Research Service, says, "It had substantial and devastating impacts on the major field crops of the American Midwest. The most important field crop there is field corn. Now, people don’t eat field corn directly, but it’s processed into animal feed and that’s a major input to the U.S. food supply chain so we’re seeing input costs rise for all the meat products and then all of these animal based products that consumers buy regularly. We’re looking at inflation on the order of about three to four percent for beef and veal, pork, poultry, eggs and even a little bit higher for dairy.

Letter from Brazil

The Big Lie

Hello my friends, I've been watching a lot of comments on social media - Twitter - and receiving many questions so I felt I needed to write for my readers and try to uncover the truth.

As you know, last year South American suffered a lot with the drought (and you're probably tired of hearing about this), but a lot of people in the United States took time to believe this fact, but didn't believe other information coming out of Brazil about the rebound.

Well, this year, Brazil is running to produce a record 85 million metric ton crop of soybeans, and will become the No. 1 soybean producer in the world. But I suppose it's not that question that made a lot of people try to corner the market and offer up lies about the Brazilian and South American situation.

First, a lot of people won't want to believe in that record crop because we are just planting. You need to raise a crop to get one. Note that all climate models and current situations that we have in Brazil showed back in September and October that we will have a huge crop.

Second, with that news came the talk about our logistics problems and it's true that we have a lot of deficits in our transportation infrastructure, but we are boosting our export capacity. And the government has launched a program to keep enhancing that capacity.

These two rumors are not enough after prices fell from $17 to below $15 and people are still saying that weather conditions in Brazil will hurt. But USDA, CONAB (a Brazilian national company) me and other's have not stopped raising our soybean crop estimate for Brazil. And Argentina has remained almost unchanged. And the market did respond by dropping prices below $14.

Prices were falling with enormous pressure in the first week of 2013, with macro-economies, new tax regulation in the United States, and of course perfect growing conditions in South America.

The second week of January comes and all markets are waiting for that USDA report. The numbers come in on the bullish side, with huge demand and tight world stocks, especially in the U.S. And the Chinese dragon continues to be hungry, buying soybeans in the U.S. because Brazil will start to export large volumes the second week of February, and in this report USDA increased the Brazilian crop, and cut the Argentina crop a bit.

Now comes another rumor. Recently, talk on Twitter suggested that Brazil was OVERSOLD on February soybeans; and I will tell you we are not oversold! The last beans farmers sell in Brazil is the early seeds, because the be risk is concentrated here. It's a difficult crop to estimate, like U.S. double-crop acres.

A lot of people will say Brazil is oversold because they have a lot of vessels waiting in Brazil and they're empty. Well they are here, but that doesn't mean we're oversold, it's because the U.S. has few soybeans left to export, the Mississippi River has problems and it's cheaper waiting here trying to buy and load early than to stay somewhere else.

With this we hear yet another rumor, that it's raining too much in Mato Grosso and I'm telling you it's raining but it won't delay the harvest pace, create a big issue or big losses.

We don't need lies about the crop because in truth most people don't believe the information they get from Brazil and Brazilians don't believe the information that comes from the United States. The world has the tightest stocks situation, and we need to create a solid and trusted network to advise our farmers in the best way possible.

I just want to say this article represents my own view, and you have two choices. Believe me or not. And if you don't believe me, I would like to advise you to control your risk management and keep your profit margins safe.

I just want to bring you my point of view and offer my perspective to your analysis so you can make the best choice.

Thanks very much,

João Carlos Kopp.

Utah Legislators Introduce Bill To Convey Fed Lands To State

Utah Legislators Introduce Bill To Convey Fed Lands To State

Sen. Orrin Hatch and Congressman Rob Bishop, both representing Utah, have introduced the Hill Creek Cultural Preservation and Energy Development Act in the U.S. Senate and House.

The legislation would facilitate the exchange of 20,000 acres of state-held mineral rights within the Hill Creek Extension of the Ute Indian Reservation for mineral rights of about 20,000 acres of federal lands in the northern portion of the reservation in eastern Utah.

Utah Legislators Introduce Bill To Convey Fed Lands To State

"This legislation is a win-win for the state of Utah and the Ute tribe," says Hatch. "The House did the smart thing last Congress and passed this common sense bill, and under Congressman Bishop's strong leadership will hopefully do so again. It is my hope that together we can get the Senate to do the right thing and create this new opportunity for energy development in Utah."

For several years, the Ute tribe and the state of Utah have sought to exchange the mineral rights in order to preserve tribal cultural lands located within the state's current holdings. The legislation is aimed at helping protect culturally sensitive areas while providing new opportunities for potential energy development in the Uintah Basin, upon which the state school trust fund relies.

In previous Congresses, this legislation was viewed as non-controversial, and received bipartisan support in the House. Support is expected to be strong for the act in 2013, proponents believe

"This is a common sense bill that protects the interests of all parties involved," says Bishop. "It protects sensitive tribal lands and ensures that the state does not suffer a loss regarding its ability to generate revenue for the school trust fund.

"I am confident  the Senate will also recognize the merits of this important bill."

Original sponsors of the legislation include Congressmen Jim Matheson, Jason Chaffetz, and Chris Stewart, as well as Senator Mike Lee, all from Utah.

You May Need To Make Adjustments To This Year's Pasture Lease

You May Need To Make Adjustments To This Year's Pasture Lease

One of the harder phone calls Allan Vyhnalek received early last fall involved a landowner who was concerned that the tenant left their cattle on a pasture too long given the drought. The pasture was basically turned into a 'road.'

The landlord was willing to take less rent and get the cattle off, according to Vyhnalek, University of Nebraska-Lincoln Extension educator in Platte County. The tenant, who had a lease valid until Oct. 20, was unwilling to take the cattle off early. "If he did, he would need to start feeding the cattle with expensive hay. For the tenant, the pasture rent was already paid for and that was cheaper than other alternatives."

You May Need To Make Adjustments To This Year's Pasture Lease

It is easy to see how this is difficult for both parties. Everyone understands that leaving the cattle on the pasture too long reduces the long-term health of the pasture. The pasture will basically take a lot longer to recover if it has been severely overgrazed.

The easier way to handle this situation in the future is to include a clause in your written pasture lease for dry conditions, Vyhnalek recommends. "When it is too dry to continue using a pasture, the tenant should be required to take the animals out.  In addition, the rent owed should be adjusted lower, accordingly."

Other important clauses should be considered, he says. What if there is a severe hail? What if the pasture burns in a fire? The clause for drought should probably be expanded to include these two disaster situations, too.

"In addition, it seems to me that discussions should occur about when grazing starts next year," Vyhnalek says. "If we get adequate rain and grass starts normally then this is a moot point. But if it doesn't rain, or if the grass is slow starting because of overgrazing in 2012, delaying the start of grazing should be a reasoned approach for 2013 management of the pasture."
The rent owed should also be adjusted accordingly, according to Vyhnalek.

If we have slow regrowth in 2013, stocking rates should also be adjusted to fit the moisture available and the growing conditions. Having leases priced on an animal unit month charge and not by the acre, may be a reasoned approach to handle this change in stocking rates.

In most situations, the livestock drinking water is not an issue. But a clause should also be added to include provisions for livestock water if the water source goes dry, he suggests.

Another possibility based on the drought is that pastures which receive moisture could become over-run with weeds. This would never be a problem when the pasture is grazed appropriately. However, when that thatch canopy is opened, seeds which have been in the ground for years now start to grow. A discussion about the expense of weed control is appropriate.

Typically, the weed control of pastures is a landlord expense, Vyhnalek explains. But in this case, the tenant over-grazed the pasture causing the weed flush after receiving moisture. Tenants didn't mean to over graze, the 2012 drought was as severe as any in 50 years according to some. Managing the weed control in the next couple of years will be something that clearly needs to be discussed to reach an equitable agreement.

"As you can tell, there aren't many concrete suggestions for solutions to these situations. The key point of providing this information is to encourage the tenant and landlord to plan ahead for 2013 in case the drought continues.

"I have always maintained on any lease, communications will be the key. The tenant should be letting the landlord know about the pasture conditions and the landlord should be communicating their expectations too. The bottom line is: 'Hope for the best, but plan for the worst.'"


FarmFirst Dairy Cooperative Elects Officers

FarmFirst Dairy Cooperative Elects Officers

FarmFirst Dairy Cooperative announces the organization's 2013 officers.

The 2013 executive board of directors was selected during a board of directors meeting in Fond du Lac on Jan. 3. Elected to one-year terms, FarmFirst Dairy Cooperative board members are responsible for securing producer recommendations, discussing dairy policy and industry direction and establishing programs to benefit all members through cooperative check-off dollars.

The 2013 FarmFirst Dairy Cooperative Board of Directors elected leaders during their meeting on Jan. 3 in Fond du Lac. Pictured here is the 2013 FarmFirst Dairy Cooperative board of directors: Front row, left to right: Bernard Vander Heiden (Secretary), John Rettler (Treasurer), Richard Meyer (Vice President), Peter Kleiman (President), Ken Wunderlin (Member At Large) and Tom Breuer. Second row, left to right: Mark Ryan, Dave Schmitz, Joe Schmitt, Kathy Bauer, Rae Kohn, David Allen and William Klink; Back row, left to right: Randy Geiger, Francis Cherney, Wayne Hansen, Kelly King, Marvin Anderson, Lee Klumpers and Randy Peterson.

The 2013 FarmFirst Dairy Cooperative officer candidates were nominated from the 20-person board of directors, representing the combined boards of the three cooperatives recently merged to form FarmFirst Dairy Cooperative. The new officers are as follows: President: Peter Kleiman, Wilson, Mich.; vice president: Richard Meyer, Unity, Wis.; secretary: Bernard Vander Heiden, Kaukauna, Wis.; treasurer: John Rettler, Neosho, Wis.  Ken Wunderlin, Livingston, Wis., also was elected as a member-at-large for the cooperative's Executive Committee.

Peter Kleiman who owns and operates a 100-cow, 800-acre operation in Wilson, Mich., was elected as president of the FarmFirst Dairy Cooperative board of directors. He says the new board provides a unified voice to dairy producers of all sizes with producer representation from across the industry.

"As a new cooperative, we have the opportunity to work together to better fit member needs and minimize duplication," Kleiman says. "This new board is unified, excited to hear new ideas and ready to provide new offerings to our members."

"Regardless of the size of their operation, all members of FarmFirst Dairy Cooperative are well-represented through the board," he adds. "The goal of each of our members – and our board members – is to remain profitable in the dairy industry. The experience and excitement of our board members will help FarmFirst Dairy Cooperative provide the best programs to our members."

Additional 2013 board members include: Tom Breuer, Hartford; Mark Ryan, Fond du Lac; Dave Schmitz, Fond du Lac.; Joe Schmitt, Holy Cross, Iowa; Kathy Bauer, Faribault, Minn.; Rae Kohn, Medford; David Allen, Reedsburg; William Klink, Allenton.; Randy Geiger, Reedsville; Francis Cherney, Milladore; Wayne Hansen, Van Dyne.; Kelly King, Edgar; Marvin Anderson, Hillsboro; Lee Klumpers, Waupun; and Randy Peterson, Wilson, Mich.

The 2013 FarmFirst Dairy Cooperative board of directors will next meet during the cooperative's annual meeting on Feb. 8-9 at the Holiday Inn Hotel and Convention Center in Stevens Point, Wis. (1001 Amber Avenue, Stevens Point, Wis. 54482). All members of FarmFirst Dairy Cooperative are invited to attend educational sessions on the afternoon of Feb. 8 starting at 1p.m. The annual meeting will be held on Feb. 9 beginning at 9:30 a.m. Please Contact David Cooper at 800-525-7704 if you would like to register for the sessions and to get additional information.

Established in 2013, FarmFirst Dairy Cooperative, based in Madison is the largest dairy marketing cooperative in the Midwest. Dedicated to its family farm members, the cooperative represents more than 5,000 farms in Wisconsin, Minnesota, South Dakota, Michigan, Iowa, Illinois and Indiana through policy bargaining, dairy marketing services, laboratory testing opportunities and industry promotion. Learn more about FarmFirst Dairy Cooperative by visiting:

S.D. Corn Growers Pitch In To Raise $25,000 For Chairty

S.D. Corn Growers Pitch In To Raise $25,000 For Chairty

South Dakota Corn Growers President Mark Gross challenged farmers during the association's 27th annual meeting to donate $100 each to Feeding South Dakota.

Within hours, farmers and several agricultural groups had raised $25,000 for the state's largest charitable hunger-relief organization.

"Despite last summer's drought, farmers have been very blessed these last few years. The right thing to do is help those who are less fortunate," Gross says. "This money will be used to feed people in need throughout the state. People don't go to the food bank because they want to; they go because they have nowhere else to turn."

From left: Matt Gassen, executive director of Feeding South Dakota, receives a $25,000 check from Chad Blindauer and Mark Gross, presidents of the South Dakota Corn Utilization Council and South Dakota Corn Growers Association. Photo: SD Corn

A $100 donation allows Feeding South Dakota to provide 400 meals. It's enough to feed a family for four weeks. A $145 donation will provide one child with a backpack full of food each weekend for an entire school year.

"For many kids, the food they receive through Feeding South Dakota's Backpack Program is the only food they'll get during a weekend," Gross said. "Picture your kids not having food on the weekend."

Gross and Chad Blindauer, president of the South Dakota Corn Utilization Council, presented a $25,000 check Saturday night to Matt Gassen, Feeding South Dakota's executive director.

"We're incredibly excited to have received $25,000 from the South Dakota Corn Growers Association. We'll be able to take that money and turn it into 100,000 meals," Gassen says. "This goes a long ways in meeting our needs as we work to eliminate hunger in our state. This is an exciting time as we begin to partner with the ag industry, starting with South Dakota Corn. This partnership is very important to us and also to those we serve."

Feeding South Dakota is already partnering with the South Dakota Corn Utilization Council, South Dakota State University and the University of South Dakota in the Showdown Series, an athletic and academic competition between those two schools in the heart of corn country. That series is raising food and money for the hunger-relief agency.

Agribusinesses that donated during the challenge are Cargill, Dupont Pioneer, First Bank & Trust, Monsanto, Premier Bank Card, Syngenta and WNAX Radio.

Feeding South Dakota has distribution centers in Sioux Falls, Pierre and Rapid City. The organization distributes more than 12 million pounds of food annually through a network of 450 charitable organizations across the state.  Those groups then distribute the food through various programs and food pantries.

Source: SD Corn

Master Farmer Countdown Continues

Master Farmer Countdown Continues

If you act today there's still time to nominate someone for the Master Farmer award. It's co-sponsored by Indiana Prairie Farmer and the Purdue University College of Agriculture. Former Purdue Ag Dean Randy Woodson and the current Dean, Jay Akridge are huge supporters of the program.

Akridge likes it because it recognizes the best of the best in agriculture, and gives Purdue a chance to help say thank you for all farm families do for Indiana. While it's an individual award, usually there is a strong family behind the award winner or winners.

Still active: Merrill Kelsay, Whiteland, shown here explaining the effects of the drought to TV reporters, is still an active member of his family dairy operation and a former Master Farmer.

Nominations must come from someone who believes a neighbor or relative needs to be honored. You can fill out the form and find six people to write letters of support, or find someone to do it with or for you. Extension educators stand ready to help. Akridge and Jim Mintert, acting Extension Director, have encouraged them to participate in the program.

Many people want to know who past winners are. In this third in a series, here are the winners from 1986 through 1994.

For 1986: Fred O. Mann, Joe P. Rund, Robert Stickles, Charles F. Walker

For 1987: Leroy Brammer, William T. Crane (deceased), Robert Foltz, Bill and Kaye Whitehead

For 1988: Harry F. Armstrong (deceased), Robert Ward Johnson (deceased), Carl Martin, Larry J. Pumphrey

For 1989: Homer C. McDonald, Steven L. Sickafoose, Wayne Townsend, J. Olen Yoder

For 1990: Tom Boyd, Merrill Kelsay, James Moseley, William Pickart

For 1991: Dave and Ron Johnson, Paul Keffaber (deceased), Wally Linneweber, Larry Stoy

For 1992: Raymond Becher Alan Kemper, Howard Unger, Fred and Linda Wise

For 1993: Gene Brune, Wayne McCutchan, James Pettigrew, Jerry Rulon

For 1994: Scott Fritz, Don Jones, George Likens, Herbert Likens, Bob Mills

If you recognize the name of someone and know they are deceased, please let us know so we can update our files. Email with your changes. Nominations for 2013 must be postmarked by Feb. 15, 2013.

Facts About Indiana Agriculture, County by County

Facts About Indiana Agriculture, County by County

Those waiting to collect on GRIP crop insurance are no doubt hoping the headline actually read "2012 county estimates are out," but that's not the case. The Indiana ag statistics folks, part of the National Ag Statistics Service, say it takes until at least March 1 to put those estimates together correctly and release them.

However, IASS recently released their 2011-12 Indiana Ag Statistics final number.

This 138-page, big-format book contains statistics on almost anything related to agriculture.

By the numbers: Statisticians take what happens in the field and convert it to numbers, county by county.

Here's just a sampling. See if your county makes any of these lists. You can learn more by calling 765-494-8371 or 800-363-0469. You may want to visit

Wabash County highlights: 32,872 people live there, and by government standards, there are 850 farms with an average farm size of 236 acres. Remember that the government definition of a farm includes many more farms than what most consider a commercial-sized farm. The county ranked 21st in Indiana in soybean production in 2011, and 15th in wheat production. No data was given for corn.

Newton County: 14,004 people live there, with 434 farms and an average of 439 acre per farm. That's based on 2007 census data, and makes Newton County 8th largest on farm size in Indiana.  The county ranked 7th in corn production in 2011, and 35th in soybean production.

Martin County: 10,036 people live in the rural county. Average farm size is 226 acres. The county ranked 79th in corn, 83rd in soybeans and 81st in wheat in 2011.

Grant County: Marion helps swell the population to 68,787. Average farm size is 386 acres, with 524 farms. Corn data wasn't available, but Grant County ranked 12th in soybean production and 37th in wheat in 2011.

Adams County: 33,762 people lived there with average farm size of 139 acres, ranked 80th in farm size in the entire state. The county ranked 45th in corn production and 23rd in soybeans, 8th in wheat in 2011.