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Articles from 2013 In November

Five Favorite Farm Photos

Five Favorite Farm Photos

Is it really Day 30 already? To round out our final day of the 30 Days|FIVE Things series, I'm sharing my five favorite photos. And let me just tell you, it was not easy. This list could've been ten times as long. But here they are, some taken a year ago and some taken 14 years ago. Scroll down to the gallery and click through. You can pause as needed, and advance to the next slide when you're ready.

Thanks for following along this month!

Five Things: The Series

 Read More

Check out Dozens of other 30 Days Farm Bloggers Here

Last Day for Savings on Summit Events

You can still save money by registering today for the 2014 Farm Futures Business Summit and Ag Finance Boot Camp.

Attending these events could help you make better decisions in a tougher farm economy. Next year may be a challenge as grain prices settle to new short-term lows.

The summit takes place Jan. 7-8, 2014 at the St. Louis Hilton Ballpark Hotel. A series of top-notch speakers will offer advice and ideas on how to manage volatility and boost profit prospects that may come your way. Here's a sampling:

-Dr. Dave Kohl, a leading voice in U.S. Agriculture, will keynote the summit and share his vision for becoming a top performing farm operator. He will also chair a panel discussion as farmers share views on best management practices.

-Michael Swanson, Wells Fargo economist, will discuss global economic trends and risk management. Swanson pulls no punches as he shares lessons learned from a distinguished career working for the largest commercial Ag lender in the United States.

-Michael Boehlje, Purdue Ag economist, returns with an important message on farm expansion in the post commodity boom era. Intense cost control, margin management and smart input buying strategies can ensure you're positioned to capitalize on opportunities.

-Kevin Bearley, Kennedy & Coe tax director, offers a step by step process to ensure your estate plan works and provides maximum assets to your family, not the IRS.

The summit earlybird discount rate of just $299 per person ends Dec. 1; After that, full registration is $449 per person.

Click HERE for all the details.

The Farm Futures Business Summit is sponsored by Growmark, BASF, Kennedy & Coe, DowAgroSciences, Farmlink/MachineryLink and John Deere.

BONUS EVENT: Farm Futures Launches Ag Finance Boot Camp

If you're interested in sharpening your financial skills, join us for a new one-day event – the Farm Futures Ag Finance Boot Camp, sponsored by Farm Credit and John Deere.

Farmers of all skill levels will learn how to improve the financial condition of their operation. Hear from experts in the field on cash and accrual accounting, software options, benchmarking and ratios. Professionals from the Farm Financial Standards Council will be there to teach and answer your questions. The Boot Camp is conveniently slated for Jan. 6 at the Hilton Ballpark Hotel so it's easy to attend both events. Go to to register now - seats are limited.

Early bird registration for the Boot Camp is just $100. After Dec. 1 the rate goes to $150 per person.

Set up your game plan and learn from the leading farm management experts on the planet. See you in St. Louis!

2014 farmland values to be flat or decrease

2014 farmland values to be flat or decrease

While cropland values in Ohio increased in 2012 and 2013, they are expected to remain flat or even decline in 2014, says Barry Ward, an economist from Ohio State University's College of Food, Agricultural, and Environmental Sciences (CFAES). Ohio cropland value rose 12% this year, with bare cropland averaging $5,600 an acre, says Ward, production business management leader for Ohio State University Extension.

Ward, citing statistics from the Ohio Field Office of the National Agricultural Statistics Service, says he expects the trend to remain flat or even reverse next year, with the key factors – crop profitability and interest rates – both showing indications of "unfriendly" moves in 2014. This, as crop profits are projected to be lower or possibly negative while interest rates have moved higher since last year, he says.

"Projected budgets for Ohio's primary crops for 2014 show the potential for little to no profits," Ward says. "Cash rental rates will move based on where they are in relation to the current market.

"Rents at the low end of the market may have some upside potential yet as they catch up. Rents at the high end of the market will be sticky as operators may be reluctant to ask for relief after one year of low prices for fear of losing part of their land base."

Producers and landowners may want to consider flexible cash leases as a way to manage risk of volatile crop and input markets, said Ward, who is also an AEDE assistant extension professor.

Fertilizer will continue to be the most volatile crop input cost, Ward says, noting that "cost management of this important input may be the difference in being a low cost or high cost producer."

"Fertilizer prices are lower compared to last year at this same time and many producers are asking themselves if this is the right time to buy," he says. "While it is hard to know exactly what direction and when prices will move, it is smart to keep up‐to‐date on important fertilizer products fundamentals."

Depending on land production capabilities, returns to land are projected to be $17-213 per acre for Ohio corn next year, Ward says. Returns to land for soybeans are projected to be $62-248, with returns to land for wheat projected at $25-159, Ward says.


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The projections are based on OSU Extension Ohio Enterprise Budgets, and assume current prices of inputs and current December, November and September 2014 futures prices, respectively, he says.

OSU Extension has a long history of developing enterprise budgets that can be used as a starting point for producers in their budgeting process.

Read the article at the Ag Answers website.


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SJ Valley ACP quarantine zones continue to grow

An additional 234 square miles in Tulare and Kern counties in California have been placed under quarantine for the Asian citrus psyllid (ACP) following the detection of three psyllids near Exeter, Lemon Cove and the unincorporated area southeast of Porterville.

This brings the total quarantined area in the region to 888 square miles.

Pre-harvest treatment intervals were also changed from seven to 10 days based on University of California recommendations.

The most recent Tulare County finds led to expanded ACP quarantine zones that stretch north into Fresno County, and now south into extreme northern Kern County.

Maps of California ACP quarantine zones can be found online.

Legal information, including detailed quarantine boundary listings and maps, is available online.

The Tulare County Agriculture Commissioner also has important information online for growers.

The quarantine zone expanded approximately 197 square miles in Tulare County in the Exeter and Lemon Cove areas and in the unincorporated area southeast of Porterville. The detection in the Porterville area also expanded that quarantine area into Kern County by approximately 37 square miles. These areas are in addition to the previously announced quarantine areas in Tulare and Kern Counties. The expanded quarantine areas are shown in the “Tulare” and “Tulare/Kern” maps available online at

In addition to the quarantines in areas and nearby portions of Fresno County, ACP quarantines are in place in Imperial, Los Angeles, Orange, Riverside, San Bernardino, San Diego, Santa Barbara, and Ventura counties.

The ACP is an invasive species of grave concern since it can carry the disease Huanglongbing (HLB), also known as citrus greening. All citrus and closely related species are susceptible hosts for both the insect and the disease. There is no cure once a tree is infected.

HLB has been detected once in California – last year on a single residential property in Hacienda Heights in Los Angeles County. HLB is present in Mexico and parts of the southern U.S. Florida first detected the pest in 1998 and the disease in 2005, and the two have been detected in all 30 citrus-producing counties in the state. The University of Florida estimates the disease is responsible for than 6,600 lost jobs, $1.3 billion in lost revenue to growers and $3.6 billion in lost economic activity. The disease is present in Georgia, Louisiana, South Carolina and Texas. The states of Alabama, Arizona, Hawaii, and Mississippi have detected the pest but not the disease.

Residents with backyard citrus trees in the quarantine area are asked to not remove fruit from the area.  Residents who may find Asian citrus psyllids are urged to call CDFA’s Pest Hotline at 1-800-491-1899. For more information on the Asian citrus psyllid and HLB disease go online to

Amy Wolfe center speaks with CAPCA attendees after her presentation on joint employer liability
<p>Amy Wolfe, center, speaks with CAPCA attendees after her presentation on joint employer liability.</p>

Joint liability opens can of worms for growers, PCAs

A court case currently at the appellate court level could set a dangerous legal precedent and severely change the relationship growers have with their pest control advisors and farm labor contractors.

Amy Wolfe, president and CEO of AgSafe, a non-profit organization dedicated to providing employers and employees with the resources to prevent illness and injury, recently told a gathering of PCA’s that the Ag industry needs to have regular conversations regarding issues surrounding farm labor contractors and worker safety.

Wolfe spoke at the California Association of Pest Control Advisors (CAPCA) on the importance of these frank discussions.

The importance of the issue can be seen in the declining number of laborers available for field work. It is also evident in a legal case under appeal in California. Wolfe fears the later could have far-reaching ramifications well beyond the Ag labor market.

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There are currently about 1,200 unduplicated farm labor contractors (FLC) in California, Wolfe said. She uses the word “unduplicated” because some FLC’s have two licenses with expiration dates staggered six months apart because California “has so many issues in reissuing licenses,” she said.

Of the 1,200, Wolfe estimates that about 25 percent of them are operating “above-board” by employing PCAs and focusing hard on worker safety and the host of other issues regulators are keen to.

“These folks are doing the right thing,” she said. “Then you have the other 75 percent who don’t even realize that they need to be having these conversations.”

At the heart of Wolfe’s point is a court case that could forever change the relationship between the FLC and grower. Joint employer responsibility is a major facet of the discussion Wolfe says must begin now because of pending litigation.

Pending litigation

That pending case is Arredondo v. Delano Farms. While it originally centered on alleged state and federal wage and hour violations, the case quickly became one of joint employer liability as the plaintiffs were successful in connecting Delano Farms with their FLC’s. Delano Farms grows 6,300 acres of grapes in California’s San Joaquin Valley.

According to Wolfe, attorneys for the plaintiffs argued that the farm labor contractors “were simply doing what the grower told them,” and therefore Delano Farms was legally liable for the wage and hour violations of the farm labor contractor.

Delano Farms has appealed the court’s decision related to the joint employer liability.

Wolfe’s point was not to go into the details of the court case, but to use it as a beacon to highlight how joint employer liability will forever change the legal landscape. Because of joint liability, growers and their PCA’s (or any other professional the grower employs full time or by contract) will need to discuss with farm labor contractors the various hazards of the job, and document those discussions and the training sessions they conduct.

According to Wolfe, documenting training sessions and having written safety rules should be part of the every-day routine in agriculture. Since 1991 California has required businesses to have a written safety program, yet when state regulators inspect farming operations it remains one of the top-three most cited violations in agriculture.

While growers who use farm labor contractors try to maintain an arm’s-length relationship with them, Wolfe argues that the risks are too dangerous. Given the litigious nature of farm labor unions and the regulatory reach of the state agencies involved, Wolfe says growers and their PCA’s must work closely with farm labor contractors to ensure their employees understand the hazards involved with their jobs.

“Look at the political environment,” Wolfe said. “In the last three legislative sessions there have been bills written related to farm labor contractors.”

For instance, PCA’s need to ensure that laborers are fully aware of pesticide label rules, including re-entry periods. Those training sessions need to be documented, she said. Communicating with neighboring farms and their contract workers will also be necessary as it relates to spraying operations and other potentially hazardous conditions.

Cal/OSHA under the gun

Wolfe also explained how the California Division of Occupational Safety and Health, better known as Cal/OSHA, is under scrutiny by its federal counterpart to step up inspections of farming operations or face a federal take-over of the state program.

She cited a Dec. 1 deadline for workers with any involvement with on-the-job chemicals to be trained in new labeling formats. While Cal/OSHA has been relatively quiet on the subject, Wolfe said the federal government continues to watch the state’s involvement in such issues.

A recent Rand study suggested that California does not do enough planned inspections, and is therefore underreporting the true reality of worker injuries in California.

According to Wolfe, the California Employment Development Department estimates that between 600,000 and 750,000 people over the course of a calendar year are employed as farm laborers. Wolfe believes that estimate may be closer to 500,000.

The changing political climate related to undocumented workers and the rules on employers has ironically led to a growth in the number of farm labor contractors in California, Wolfe said.

“Applications for farm labor contract licenses have increased over 100 percent in the past year,” she said. “We cannot pretend that the contractor is not important in the work that we are doing.”

An ever-growing shortage of farm laborers when and where needed has also caused this shift as growers have moved away from hiring their own workforce to simply contracting with a labor contractor for the number of workers he needs to harvest his crop,

“At one time 40-55 percent of farmworkers worked for farm labor contractors,” Wolfe said. The percentage of available workers employed by FLC’s could be upwards of 65 percent now, she said.

While the Arredondo v. Delano Farms case is still pending in the appellate court, Wolfe is pessimistic that it will be judged in Delano Farms’ favor. That is one reason why she is pushing the Ag industry now to consider the far-reaching ramifications the legal case could have.

“With case law like this it will not be a stretch for them to look at you and say: ‘you’re the expert; you know the product best; you are the one trained to know how to safely store and use this product’,” she said. “All it will take is a 16-year-old girl dying, with a UFW funeral and a governor in attendance for the whole thing to blow up,” she said.

Current regulatory pressure by the U.S. Department of Labor, CalOSHA and California’s Department of Pesticide Regulation are also forcing the issue as “collective responsibility is becoming the new mantra in these agencies,” Wolfe said.


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Sometimes A Great Moment

I can't get over the feeling that we are on the brink of a great agricultural age.

When I look at how the world population is about to mushroom, combined with the fact our industry has never been so technologically tweaked to precision and efficiency, it seems our time has come.

How can it not be so? Food is the elemental essential, and that is what we do. As the global community widens an unprecedented need for protein and fundamental nutrients, our role will become more pivotal than ever as a prime ingredient in sustainability of society itself.

I envision that time is near for the shackles that restrict the powering up of the food machine to fall. In an environment where our commodity will enjoy super-demand, super-supply must be unrestricted.

What that portends is that the regulations and the barriers that impair all-out production and unrestricted distribution internationally will be shattered by the power of sheer hunger.

The American farm, once before the drive wheel of this nation's economy, will return to much of the former grandeur enjoyed with the Congressional farm bloc was the most powerful engine in politics.

What is noteworthy is that this time it will be less than 2% of the population which will be at the wheel of fortunes. The few will take the helm of destiny.

Now, is any of that true?

Fact is, there is some truth in the theory, although theories remain just that: conjectures based on facts.

Yet, the facts – our revolutionary development of industry efficiency, and the pending global food demand spike – dare us to be bold in such assumptions, rather sound or folly.

Dare to be bold in your presumptions. The future is, has been, and will be, yours

Ours is a heritage paved with the fallen barns of the brave who did not make it through the bleak attacks upon our industry, rather from nature, the market, regulatory purges or bad science and misguided environmentalism. Now is the time for our generation to take revenge for the decimation of our industry through unquenchable success.

All of this is nothing more than philosophy, of course. And what I think we need is to inspire a great philos of the farm to rise like the Phoenix. When great institutions like a Golden Age of have passed through great tribulation, a wise old sage or two emblazons the pages of history with philosophical commentaries. Why not so American agriculture, which is indeed an epic industry which deserves its own Plato of Palouse to help us understand the perils and promises of the past and tomorrow?

Such musings of such a guru just might help us pause and find renewal.

But such are the musings of a blogist probably once more missing the mark of the minds which I my goal is to capture and captivate.

Such fun, though, to play these mental games with you, perchance to inspire some world-changing commentary.

Remember always that change is with us all always. Do not fear alterations if alterations are to be found. Welcome new dawns and embrace opportunity.

Cold Runners Refuel With Hot Beef Stew

Cold Runners Refuel With Hot Beef Stew

Over 75 Iowa beef industry volunteers greeted thousands of runners with hot beef stew after finishing the 35th annual Living History Farms Off-Road Race on November 23. Runners from across the country endured the single digit weather to run the 7-mile race on the museum's grounds in Urbandale.

"This year, more than 20 Team Beef runners sported shirts with the message 'Beef. Fuel for the Finish,'" says Nancy Degner, Executive Director of the Iowa Beef Industry Council. "TEAM BEEF is composed of Iowa State University faculty and students with majors in animal science, as well as other cattle farmers and friends of the beef industry who are passionate about beef."

FINISH LINE: Cattleman Seth Watkins, Clarinda, and charter TEAM BEEF member, heads towards the finish line and a bowl of hot beef stew at the Living History Farms Off-Road Race.

"I am proud to wear the TEAM BEEF shirt and hear all the support along the race from runners and by-standers who shouted 'Go Beef' and 'Where's the Beef?'" says Clarinda cattleman Seth Watkins. "We answered 'at the end of the race in the beef stew!' I was proud to have cattle farmers serving the beef stew at the end of the race."

Beef a source of high-quality protein

According to Degner, the beef checkoff became involved to carry a message to the athletes. "Our message to the runners was two-fold," she says. "First, that beef provides high-quality protein needed to build, maintain and repair muscle, and is a great recovery food after endurance exercise. Second, we wanted to give runners the chance to meet local cattle farmers as they served the beef stew."

HOT BEEF STEW: ISU Ag Studies student Bailey Morrell, Van Meter, serves a bowl of hot beef stew to a runner in the Living History Farms Off-Road Race.

Volunteers served hot beef stew to frozen runners after a route complete with several creek crossings and other wet and muddy obstacles. The beef checkoff provided the 2,000 pounds of beef cubes used in the stew prepared by the Iowa Machine Shed restaurant. Serving was completed in less than two hours by volunteers including cattle producer families, ISU animal science students, 4-H-ers, Madison County Youth Beef Team members, and friends of the beef industry. Beef certificates were awarded as prizes for the race, replacing the traditional frozen turkeys and chickens.

Those interested in joining or learning more about TEAM BEEF can visit the Iowa Beef Industry Council website or by calling 515-296-2305.

About the Iowa Beef Industry Council

The Iowa Beef Industry Council is funded by the $1-per-head beef checkoff. Checkoff dollars are invested in beef promotion, consumer information, research, industry information and foreign market development, all with the purpose of strengthening beef demand. More information is available at the Iowa Beef Industry Council website.

November Offered 30 Days to Be Thankful

November Offered 30 Days to Be Thankful

During the month of November it is commonplace to see posts on social media regarding thankfulness.  Some choose to do a post a day – 30 Days of Thankfulness; some choose to randomly make thankful post throughout the month, but for the last three years Prairie Farmer's own Holly Spangler has blogged a series of 30 posts, one each day of November on an ag-related topic.

This year's series was entitled "Five Things" – a daily list of five things on one single topic, ranging from genetically modified organisms to her children's humorous antics.

Be thankful! Holly Spangler found five things to be thankful for each day this season. Jennifer Campbell picked up on ones that meant the most to her.

I look forward to her topic of five for the day, some are truly informative, some are sweet and some are just downright honest.  Here are a few of my favorites from this year.

From Five Things Farmers Need to Know about Consumers:

2. Saying we produce the safest, most abundant food supply in the world doesn't resonate with consumers. When you say safe, they hear short-term safety (which they expect anyway) and when you say abundant, they hear too much food (which is making us obese).

From Five Things I Want My Kids to Know Before They Leave My House:

4. That they were created with a purpose, on purpose and for a purpose, by a God who knows every hair on their head.  And my prayer is that they might each discover that purpose.

From Five Things An Honest Farmwife Admits:

1. My greatest fear is doing something completely ridiculous and plugging the grain leg and every fall my prayer is this: please don't let me be the one to plug the grain leg.  Because even though I've written countless stories about grain systems, I don't really have a working knowledge of how it operates. Basics? Yes. Ability to still screw it up? Definitely.

(Editor's note: Holly Spangler is an editor for Prairie Farmer in Illinois. Jennifer Campbell is a Franklin, Ind., farmwife and blogger. She will be writing items for the Website each day.)

The Price To Eat While Giving Thanks

The Price To Eat While Giving Thanks

According to The American Farm Bureau Federation, the cost of your Thanksgiving Day Dinner has decreased by 44 cents this year compared to last year.

"The cost of this year's meal, at less than $5 per serving remains an excellent value for consumers. America's farm and ranch families are honored to produce the food from our nation's land for family Thanksgiving celebrations," AFBF President Bob Stallman said in a statement announcing results of AFBF's annual Thanksgiving meal survey.

This is the American Farm Bureau Federation's 29th annual informal price survey and includes all the traditional trimmings on your holiday table including the most revered – a 16-pound turkey. 

Affordable meal: Prices of turkeys tended to be lower this ear, helping the price of the Thanksgiving meal, and boding well for a cheaper Christmas dinner.

"This year we can be thankful that Thanksgiving Dinner, a special meal many of us look forward to all year, will not take a bigger bite out of our wallets," said John Anderson, AFBF's deputy chief economist. 

"Most Americans will pay about the same as last year at the grocery store for a turkey and all the trimmings.  Slightly higher turkey production for much of the year coupled with an increase in birds in cold storage may be responsible for the moderate price decrease our shoppers reported," he said.

Other items that declined in price slightly included a dozen brown-n-serve rolls, green peas, fresh cranberries, a half pint of whipping cream and pre-made pie shells.  While some items on the table and needed for preparation of the meal did increase in price, such as sweet potatoes, a gallon of whole milk and a 30-ounce can of pumpkin pie mix, the average cost of the Thanksgiving day meal has remained around $49 since 2011.

The American Farm Bureau completes this survey every year in an attempt to inform consumers that they still have unparalleled access to food. Since everyone thinks about food at Thanksgiving, it is a great time to catch their attention about food prices.

Hoosier Beef Congress Quickly Approaching

Hoosier Beef Congress Quickly Approaching

By Jennifer Campbell

The 27th Annual Hoosier Beef Congress, scheduled for Dec. 6-8 at the Indiana State Fairgrounds, will showcase 1500 head of cattle to be exhibited by kids ranging in age from third grade to 21 years of age.

During the weekend, along with the steer and heifer show, several other events will take place, like the All Star Steer & Heifer Sale and Purebred Sales on Dec. 7 at 9:30 a.m.

Exhibitors not only have the opportunity to showcase their cattle (both steers and heifers), but also compete in various other contests, like the poster and photography contests.

Webcast new feature: You can watch parts of the Hoosier Beef Congress that you can't attend live on the Web this year.

The Hoosier Beef Congress trade show opens Friday morning with lots of vendors offering everything from cattle equipment to stocking stuffers for your showman or your showgirl.

New this year, the events will be live-streamed on the internet. The Indiana Beef Cattle Association and the Hoosier Beef Congress, through DVAuction, are providing the service.  Persons interested in watching the action can access DVAuction either through the Indiana Beef or Hoosier Beef Congress websites.  After a short registration process, anyone will be able to view all of the shows in real time at no charge. 

A complete show schedule for each ring camera will also be available.

A schedule of events, online auction information, showmanship contest rules and tradeshow hours can be found on Come on out for a fun-filled weekend.