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Articles from 2018 In March

This Week in Agribusiness - March 31, 2018

Note: Start the video and all parts will play through as the full show

Part 1

Max Armstrong and Mike Adams open this week's show with a look at the challenges facing the U.S. Dairy Industry, including work to expand trade to build demand for milk and milk products. Max and Mike talk markets with Paul Georgy, Allendale, Inc., including a look at the planting intentions report.

Part 2

Max Armstrong and Mike Adams continue their market conversation with Paul Georgy, Allendale, Inc. Chad Colby, Colby AgTech, looks at the rising use of wireless cameras and their potential around the farm. Agricultural Meteorologist Greg Soulje looks at weather in the Western United States. And in the Bayer Farm Challenge of the Week, Max Armstrong looks at the importance of using a herbicide with multiple modes of action.

Part 3

Max Armstrong and Mike Adams share a report from Delaney Howell looking at a program at Iowa State University aimed at helping creating agricultural entrepreneurs. Max looks at a 1955 Chevrolet 4400 straight truck owned by Rock Katsching, Prophetstown, Ill.

Part 4

Max Armstrong offer a story about Woods Equipment Company, and how the company uses producer input to help develop products, including the company's newest Batwing mowers. Ag Meteorologist Greg Soulje looks at weather for the Eastern United States. And in Max's Tractor Shed, Max Armstrong shares the story a 1960 John Deere 430 with an interesting color scheme - in red - owned by John Craig, Mentone, Ind. This was actually sold in that color by John Deere, as Max explains.

Part 5

Max Armstrong and Mike Adams talks with Farm Broadcaster Lynn Ketelsen, Linder Farm Network, Owatonna, Minn., about what farmers are focused on in his part of the country including thoughts of spring.

Part 6

Mike Adams profiles Stoughton FFA, Stoughton, Wis.; an active chapter near Madison. Member Grace Link shares one of her favorite memories from being a member including her first officer team. Ag Meteorologist Greg Soulje looks at weather for the week ahead.

Part 7

Max Armstrong and Mike Adams wrap up the show with a report from Patrick Haggerty who visited with the American Soybean Association to talk about global trade issues, and the current market uncertainty. And Mike Adams offers a timely look at egg demand, which is up, with a look at the top 10 egg-producing states. And Orion Samuelson is celebrating his birthday, send your good wishes to

Stoughton FFA

Mike Adams profiles Stoughton FFA, Stoughton, Wis.; an active chapter near Madison. Member Grace Link shares one of her favorite memories from being a member including her first officer team.

The weekly FFA Chapter Tribute is an opportunity to shine a spotlight on the good work of your local chapter. Tell us about what you're doing, give us some history from your group and tell our viewers of the work you do in the community. FFA chapters across the country deserve recognition for the work they do, make sure we include yours.

To have your chapter considered for this weekly feature, send along information about your group by e-mail to Max Armstrong at They'll get your group on the list of those that will be covered in the future. It's a chance to share your story beyond the local community. Drop Orion or Max a "line" soon.

The National FFA Organization, formerly known as Future Farmers of America, is a national youth organization of about 650,000 student members as part of 7,757 local FFA chapters. The National FFA Organization remains committed to the individual student, providing a path to achievement in premier leadership, personal growth and career success through agricultural education. For more, visit the National FFA Organization online, on Facebook at, on Twitter at

1960 John Deere 430

Max Armstrong shares the story a John Deere 430 with an interesting color scheme - in red - owned by John Craig, Mentone, Ind. This was really sold in that color by John Deere, as Max explains.

Max's Tractor Shed is a regular feature of This Week in Agribusiness. If you have a tractor story you'd like to share for this feature, contact Max at

1948 John Deere A tractor
SPECIAL TRACTOR: This 1948 John Deere A has special meaning for the Fellow family, New Washington, Ind. It was bought new by the late Ray Fellow.

Who needs a tractor this big?

The 1948 John Deere A in Richard and Steve Fellow’s toolshed is there to stay. It carries markings near the rear wheels that probably mean as much to the family as the official John Deere lettering on the tractor. On one side, it says: “Dad’s tractor”; the other side says: “Papaw’s tractor.”

“Dad [Ray] bought this tractor new in 1948,” Steve says. The Fellows farm near New Washington, Ind. Ray passed away several years ago.

“When he brought it home, the story goes that neighbors said no one needed a tractor that big,” Steve continues. “Dad bought a new tractor about every 10 years. Next was a John Deere 620. When he bought a 4020 and plow later, neighbors allowed no tractor could pull a plow that big.”

The A wasn’t too big for their farm, and the 4020 pulled the plow, Steve recalls. While the A may be small by today’s standards, it was a good-size tractor in 1948. Steve is a former ag teacher and oversaw many tractor restoration projects in the shop. However, this A was restored in the farm shop at home, he notes.

Just how big was the John Deere A? According to, John Deere began producing the third major version of the A model in 1947. The 1948 was rated at 34 drawbar horsepower, and tested out at 34.14 hp. It was rated at 38 hp on the belt pulley, and produced just over 38 hp in an official test.

It featured a 5.3-liter, two-cylinder engine. By 1952, list price for the A was $2,400. Production of the series finally ended in 1952. John Deere model A tractors did not have power steering.  

Opossum on fence mtruchon/iStock/Thinkstock
ON THE LOOSE: The adventure starts when a opossum wanders into territory that the family dog claims as his own.

Possum on the porch starts the fun!

By Susan Hayhurst

What does it mean when you have a dark porch, a set of beady eyes and a dog that’s barking hysterically?

A possum.

My husband, Terry, was about to put Fred, our daughter’s Welsh corgi, out for his evening constitution. Terry turned on the light of the screened-in porch and found our cat, Snurffle, sitting on the table with her tail looking like a firecracker had just gone off. Then Terry saw the possum — or opossum, if you like — waddling across the porch toward the pile of wicker furniture.

Thinking better of leaving Fred out, he brought both Fred and Snurffle in the house while the ugly rodent climbed up the wicker. Fred proceeded to run helter-skelter from the dining room french doors to the living room window, barking ferociously.

Fred is a frequent noisemaker, so I continued reading a book in the family room — until I heard, “Honey, you need to see this!”

I looked out said window to see (future) roadkill perched on my overturned wicker settee. The possum wasn’t even smart enough at that point to play dead. We left him to leave the porch on his own recognizance.

Of course, I had to Google “opossum.” According to Wikipedia, John Smith of pilgrim fame and Jamestown, Va., first recorded the beast as “hath a head like a swine, tail like a rat, of the bigness of a cat.” This marsupial is also known for a narrow braincase (duh) and having a pouch like a kangaroo.

The Virginia opossum was once widely hunted and eaten, much like Granny did in “The Beverly Hillbillies.” Supposedly it tastes like chicken. Never on my plate.

Roadkill can even be beneficial. Fatty opossum grease has been used as a chest rub. Move over, Vicks VapoRub!

Hayhurst writes from Terre Haute, Ind.



Examining the unique role of the US peanut ‘Society’

A society is an organization formed for a specific purpose, activity or cause. Did you know the American peanut has a society all its own?

The American Peanut Research and Education Society, more commonly referred to by its enunciated acronym APRES, will celebrate its 50th annual meeting in July of this year. APRES has evolved over the years to include the primary people dedicated to peanut research and educational development, representing the diverse and complex interests of the peanut industry.

We at Southeast Farm Press felt this a good opportunity to introduce to you, or remind you of, this society’s history, unique position in the U.S. peanut industry, its contributions to the agricultural landscape, and its role in the future.

The five-part series is called The Society of Peanut and will appear in print issues of Southeast Farm Press over the next few months. Each installment will be published here at the Southeast Farm Press website, too, soon after appearing in print. The final installment will appear in the Farm Press Peanut Efficiency Award print issue published right before the Southern Peanut Growers Conference this year in San Destin, Fla., July 19-22.

The series is sponsored by AMVAC and its family of products for peanut growers including Thimet insecticide and Equus fungicide.

APRES’ stated goal is a hefty one. It in part aims “to provide consumers with wholesome peanuts and peanut products at reasonable prices. To achieve this goal, a comprehensive and effective research and educational program designed to improve the inherent qualities of peanuts is essential. Research emphasis must include the continual development of improved varieties, production, harvesting, curing, storing and processing methodology which promotes peanut quality.”

In 1957, the Peanut Improvement Working Group, a small group, formed because of the need to create a national peanut research organization. According to the 1969 Journal of American Peanut Research and Education Association Volume 1 No. 1, “In July 1968, as a result of a lot of hard work and planning on the part of the members of the Peanut Improvement Working Group, it was decided that the complete interest of the industry, research workers, educators, and related agencies could be best served by the formation of the organization now known as the American Peanut Research and Education Association, Inc.”

The APRES 50th annual meeting will take place July 10-12 in Williamsburg, VA. It’s first meeting took place in Atlanta, Ga., July 13-15 in 1969

“Today, APRES provides a forum for information exchange, education, planning and implementation of studies that address unanswered research questions, and responds to issues related to peanut,” said Dr. Pete Dotray, the current president of APRES and professor and Extension weed specialist with Texas A&M.

In short, APRES is the gravitational point for some of the best peanut-oriented minds in the country who work and exchange information to solve problems for the industry on regional and national levels.

APRES is comprised of several different focus areas including agronomy and production technology, biotechnology, breeding, economics, engineering, genetics, harvesting, food science, nematology, plant pathology, processing and utilization, shelling, storage and handling, and weed science.

The society has more than 550 individual, sustaining, organization, student, and library members, Dotray said. And those members come from USDA, land-grant and non-land grant universities, and all aspects of the peanut industry including production, shelling, marketing, storage, and manufactured products, Dotray said. 

Milk receiving at dairy plant
A referendum takes place in April to determine if California milk producers will join the Federal Milk Marketing order.

California dairy producers to vote on federal milk order

The long-awaited opportunity for California dairymen to decide their fate is upon them as the U.S. Department of Agriculture published its proposed Federal Milk Marketing Order in the Federal Register. The next step: California dairy producers get to vote up or down in a referendum that opens April 2 and ends May 5.

Dairy producers not members of a cooperative can expect ballots to be mailed to them shortly. Members of dairy cooperatives will need to contact their respective cooperatives to determine if the cooperative will vote in block for its members, or allow individual producers to vote. The USDA will soon contact those cooperatives covered by the marketing order to determine which path the organizations will take.

For the referendum to pass, two-thirds of the producers voting must approve, or two-thirds of the volume of milk represented must vote “yes.”

California producers previously approved a referendum to allow quota to continue. The USDA made clear early on that it would allow quota to continue under a proposed FMMO, but it would not regulate that quota program. In late 2017 milk producers in California voted to allow the State of California to manage the stand-alone quota program under a potential California FMMO.

The USDA decision closes a lengthy process that began in early 2015 with the proposal by California’s three dairy cooperatives – Land O’Lakes, California Dairies, Inc., and Dairy Farmers of America – requesting to join the federal milk order. A three-month hearing was held later the same year in Clovis, Calif. that allowed the dairy industry and the public to comment on the proposal.

In the end the proposal published March 19 in the Federal Register did not surprise the dairy organizations as draft documents released by USDA had the same language in them that the published FMMO has.

Meetings are planned to advise California dairy producers and the public about the proposed order. A public meeting takes place April 10 at 9 a.m. in the Clovis Veterans Memorial District building, 808 Fourth Street, Clovis, Calif. This meeting will answer questions on how the proposal will operate and how eligible dairy producers can participate in the referendum. The meeting will also be carried via live webcast.

Separate meetings are also slated for members of Western United Dairymen at the following locations:

  • April 16, 10 a.m., Sonoma County Farm Bureau, 3589 Westwind Blvd., Santa Rosa, Calif.
  • April 17, 9 a.m., Stanislaus County Harvest Hall, 3800 Cornucopia Way, Modesto, Calif., Training Room Center DE; and,
  • April 18, International Agri-Center Social Hall, 4500 South Laspina, Tulare, Calif.

Kevin Abernathy, general manager of the Ontario-based Milk Producers Council says the ball is in the court of California dairymen as a referendum will get to decide whether California milk producers regulated by a federal order, or can continue being regulated by a state order many in California have argued is responsible for poor producer milk prices.

“I never thought I’d see this day,” Abernathy said of the opportunity for California dairy farmers to leave the state milk order.

Abernathy does not yet know how the cooperatives will handle the votes – whether they will let their members vote independently, or cast one vote on behalf of their membership.

“This is our opportunity to end the insanity of the state order,” he said.

Yellow market chart. maciek905/Thinkstock

Grain market week in review - March 30, 2018

Missed some market news this week? Here’s a look back.

Monday, March 26

Stock markets around the world rebounded overnight following a bruising week of losses caused by fears of a widening trade war between the U.S. and the rest of the world. Those fears appear to be easing this morning, allowing grain markets to finally focus on USDA’s big March 29 reports.

Trade tensions may be easing, but that could change with a tweet. The fear is once a president starts imposing tariffs, it will open a Pandora's box and lead to retaliation. China retaliated a little bit, but it's unclear where they are headed. Also, it looks like the U.S. and South Korea are closer to having a bilateral agreement, which Trump prefers.

Export inspections for the week ending March 22 were mostly in line with trade estimates. The only problem with that was trade guesses weren’t especially lofty for the week. Grain prices were mixed following the latest export data from USDA. 

Tuesday, March 27, 2018

Attempts to rally on Monday fell apart by the close, at least in the grain market, where corn, soybeans and wheat all reversed lower. While the stock market rebounded after melting down last week, grain traders remain nervous ahead of Thursday’s USDA reports on grain stocks and planting intentions. 

Thursday, March 29, 2018

Grain futures are quiet this morning, a condition that likely will change at 11 a.m. CST, when USDA releases highly anticipated planting intentions and grain stocks reports. Look for a flurry of activity as traders digest the numbers and then get in position for a long weekend.

Grain futures are narrowly mixed this morning, the calm before what’s likely to be a storm at 11 a.m. CST, when USDA releases highly anticipated grain stocks and plantings estimates. Traders won’t have long to digest the numbers and get in position for the end-of-the-quarter and a holiday weekend. U.S. markets close for Good Friday and some around the world are also shut Eastern Monday.

For the week ending March 22, corn and wheat totals were mainly in line with trade expectations, but soybean totals slumped once more – a disappointing trend so far in 2018. U.S. sales to China are down 18% from last year at a time when Brazil starts to take over world trade in the oilseed.

Corn and soybean futures jumped significantly higher this morning after USDA said growers would plant less corn and soybeans than a year ago. Both commodities spiked more than 2% higher in the minutes following the announcement.

Corn and soybean prices shot up like a rocket late Thursday morning, after USDA’s hotly anticipated Prospective Plantings report predicted far fewer acres will be planted this year than industry analysts had estimated. Corn and soybean futures finished Thursday’s session with double digit gains, with winter wheat prices taking more modest gains and spring wheat futures down moderately.

Ben Potter recaps today’s Prospective Planting report and weekly exports in his weekly Market Update.

Export sales were reported on two days this week, with soybeans going to unknown destinations and soymeal going to Spain.

Market outlooks

Financial Outlook - From concerns over trade wars and tech stocks, to uncertainty over interest rates, each day seems to bring a fresh wave of tensions. The easiest way to measure the unease is with the VIX, or volatility index for the S&P 500.

Energy/Ethanol Outlook - While rising inventories and production could keep a lid of crude oil futures this spring, fuel prices for farmers could remain simmering near recent highs as agricultural demand increases seasonally. 

Fertilizer Outlook – Retail fertilizers for farmers continue to ratchet higher as planting progresses in the South. But while international markets remain soft, all most growers can do is hope for lower costs on nutrients they’ll apply for next year’s crops.

7AgStoriesNEW051517-1540x800 NolanBerg11/flySnow/SteveOehlenschlager/ThinkstockPhotos

7 ag stories you might have missed this week - March 30, 2018

Missed some agricultural news this week? Here are seven stories you might have missed.

1. Corn and soybean futures jumped after USDA said farmers would plant less corn and soybeans in 2018 than a year ago. The agency released its annual Prospective Plantings report on Thursday. – Farm Futures

2. Iowa farmer Mark Recker, president of the Iowa Corn Growers Association, has been fielding a lot of phone calls and attending a number of meetings since late February when Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, and oil refiners came up with a plan to cap the price of Renewable Identification Numbers. – Wallaces Farmer 

3. The European Union isn’t eager to jump into negotiations on the stalled Trans-Atlantic Trade and Investment Partnership. The negotiations have been frozen since Trump entered the White House in January 2017. – Farm Futures

4. Foremost Farms broke ground on a new dairy processing plant in Greenville, Michigan, earlier this month. The $57.9 million plant is expected to create 33 jobs and provide the state’s dairy farmers with a much-needed in-state processing facility. More than 24% of Michigan milk production, or 2.65 billion pounds, is shipped out of state per year. – Michigan Farmer

5. A recent Farm Futures survey found about 46% of respondents would be interested in buying health insurance through a pool offered by a commodity group or other association such as 40 Square in Minnesota. – Farm Futures 

6. John Deere Co. is celebrating the 100th anniversary of its official entry into the tractor business. John Deere purchased the Waterloo Boy in 1918, giving the company its first tractor to sell. – Indiana Prairie Farmer 

7. The U.S. hog herd inventory as of March 1 was up 3% from a year ago, but down 1% from Dec. 1, 2017, according to the Quarterly Hogs and Pigs report released March 29. – National Hog Farmer

For your bonus, here’s a couple stories on land values:

  • Iowa farmland values have risen nearly 3% on average since September and are 5% higher than a year ago, based on the most recent statewide survey by the Iowa Chapter of the Realtor’s Land Institute. – Wallaces Farmer
  • Land in north central South Dakota sold for an average of $4,121 per acre in March and high-producing land in in eastern South Dakota sold for $7,200 per acre at a recent auction. – Dakota Farmer


Top 5 stories: Huge farmland auction; Soybeans tops corn and China tariffs

In this week's top five stories, we take a look at how soybeans could become America's dominant crop, if the planting projections hold up. Plus, what could happen to a farm's bottom line if China imposes the tariffs and a farmland auction in Wisconsin surpasses the records. Check out the gallery here.