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Articles from 2009 In April


Warner Leads Missouri FFA Association

Samantha Warner of Archie has been selected the 2009-10 state FFA president. She is a member of the Archie FFA Chapter. Her advisor is Matt McIntire.

Warner's FFA Supervised Agriculture Experience Program consists of a personalized cake decorating business called Clover Country Cakes and raising and showing registered Limousin cattle.

Warner has previously served as secretary, vice president and president of the Archie FFA Chapter and president of the Area 7 FFA Association. She participated in the Farm Bureau and Missouri Institute of Cooperatives speech contests. She competed at the state level in the Grassland Evaluation Contest and received high individual on the district level. Warner has also participated in State FFA Knowledge, Livestock Evaluation, Entomology and Poultry Career Development Events.

Samantha Warner, Archie, 2009-10 Missouri FFA president

Warner has been an honor roll student and active leader in her school and community. She has earned recognition on the principal's honor roll in high school. She received the gold scholarship award for being first in her class every year. She was a member of Future Business Leaders of America, the National Honor Society, student council, Fellowship of Christian Athletes and served as a class officer. Samantha is an 11-year member of the Archie Achievers 4-H Club. She has also served on the Cass County 4-H Council officer team and the State 4-H Council.

Warner plans to attend Missouri State University where she will pursue a degree in agricultural education.

Source: Missouri FFA Association

Plan Stabilizes Repayment Rates

USDA is using an improved and more stable system for determining non-recourse marketing assistance loan repayment rates and loan deficiency payment rates for wheat, feed grains, pulse crops, oilseeds, wool, mohair and honey, according to David Drake, acting state executive director for Ohio's Farm Service Agency.

"The new method will moderate fluctuations of the loan repayment rate," says Drake. "This decision reduces the effects daily market volatilities have on loan repayment rates and provides more certainty for producers who have taken advantage of marketing assistance loans or loan deficiency payments."

The 2008 Farm Bill provides USDA the authority to establish a loan repayment rate that may be determined as the lesser of the loan rate plus interest and a rate based on: 1) average market prices during the previous 30 days, or 2) an alternative method the secretary may develop.

Beginning April 15, 2009, for wheat, corn, grain sorghum, soybeans, barley, oats, canola, flaxseed and sunflower seed, USDA's Commodity Credit Corporation (CCC) will determine and publish daily loan repayment rates based on the average market prices during the preceding 30 days. Also, CCC will announce each day a repayment rate based on the preceding five days. The new method will replace the current one, which is based on the previous day's market rates. The effective alternative repayment rate will be the lower of either the 30-day average or the 5-day average.

The 30-day method will reflect a 30-day moving average of all terminal market prices for the crop, adjusted by the difference between the applicable national loan rate and the county loan rate. The 5-day method will reflect a 5-day moving average of applicable terminal market prices adjusted by applicable county differential and terminal adjustments.

Drake says this new loan repayment method will minimize potential forfeitures, accumulation of CCC stocks, CCC storage costs, market impediments and discrepancies in benefits across state and county boundaries.

Corn Planting Provides $3.5 Billion Stimulus

Each spring, Nebraska corn producers invest approximately $1.4 billion in fuel, seed, fertilizer and other planting costs alone. According to the Nebraska Corn Board, this investment in just a couple weeks' time multiplies by about 2.5 times into a $3.5 billion stimulus for Nebraska communities.

"Investments in putting a crop in the ground, provides not only a ripple effect in rural communities, but tremendous job opportunities in the agribusiness sector along with stimulus for the rest of the state, not to mention the value of what ultimately is harvested in the fall," says Don Hutchens, executive director of the board.

The Nebraska Farm Business Association and the University Extension NebGuides substantiate the per-acre investments that Nebraska corn farmers make this time of year of approximately $160-$170 an acre. Nebraska is expected to plant 8.8 million acres of corn.

Jon Holzfaster, Paxton producer and chairman of the Nebraska Corn Board, says that volatility in the market place of some of the inputs such as fertilizer and fuel, along with the wild swings in commodity prices, make it a challenge to find stability in production agriculture, not to mention the impacts Mother Nature has on the business.

"We have to do a better job of using risk management tools and marketing strategies, especially when you realize how many dollars are at risk. We have been increasing yields consistently using less fertilizer, fuel and water but the costs of those inputs have been increasing as well," he adds.

Nebraska ranks third in U.S. corn production, and second in ethanol production and typically second or third in cattle on feed, which exemplifies the state's ability to add value to our raw corn production by making ethanol and corn fed beef which adds not only value, but jobs and tax revenues.

By the time the Nebraska corn crop is harvested this fall, the total investment exceeds $4 billion alone, not to mention the multiplier effect those dollars have throughout the economy, Hutchens says.

Michigan Farm Bureau Awards Scholarships to Three MSU Students

For the first time in the program's history, Michigan Farm Bureau has selected three recipients for its 2009 Marge Karker Scholarship: Emily Ries of Lenawee County, Brenda Sisung of Clinton County, and Julie Thelen of Washtenaw County. Each will receive a $1,000 scholarship to apply toward her tuition at Michigan State University.

MFB's annual Marge Karker Scholarship has historically gone to a student enrolled in a two-year, agriculture-related program at MSU. This year the MFB Scholarship Committee expanded the program to award three recipients, and also opened it to students in four-year and graduate programs.

Ries, daughter of Richard and Linda Ries of Sand Creek, is a junior majoring in agriculture and natural resources communications. In addition to making the dean's list every semester at MSU, she is extensively involved in student leadership roles with the College of Agriculture and Natural Resources.

After college Ries aims to work with an organization that supports Michigan agriculture.

"I will serve the agricultural industry as a dedicated individual offering my time and abilities," Ries says. "I also plan to continue farming with my family, and remain involved with organizations such as Farm Bureau, the National FFA Alumni Association and the Michigan Corn Growers' Association."

Sisung, daughter of Donald and Jane Sisung of St. Johns, is a sophomore pursuing an animal science degree. Her interest in agriculture is evident through her long-term involvement in 4-H, the Michigan Shorthorn Association and MSU's Block and Bridle program.

Following her graduation she intends to pursue an agricultural career in swine and cattle breeding and genetics.

"I see myself involved in agriculture both in my job and during my everyday life," says Sisung, who looks forward to a lifetime of agricultural education, promotion and advocacy.

Thelen, daughter of Steven and Nancy Thelen of Saline, is a senior who will graduate this spring with degrees in agriscience education and animal science, along with a teaching minor in biology. A long list of service to agricultural organizations, from the Saline Lamb Club to the Michigan Angus Association Board of Directors, testifies to her commitment to agriculture.

Thelen intends to complete a post-graduate certificate program to further her education, with the goal of teaching agriscience and biology.

"I know I will always be involved in agriculture," Thelen says. "My future is in agriscience education, promoting and encouraging the leaders of tomorrow."

Marge Karker Scholarship recipients are selected based on criteria such as academic performance, extracurricular achievement, leadership experience, and written references from academic faculty and administrators. Eligible applicants must be enrolled in an agriculture-related program.

Three Vetoed Bills Face Override Effort

Kansas legislators have begun the work of attempting to override three bills affecting agriculture that were vetoed by Gov. Kathleen Seblieus.

The first, the Energy and Regulatory Certainty Bill, would allow Sunflower Electric Power cooperative to build two new coal-fired plants near Holcomb and would limit the authority of the secretary of the Kansas Department of Health and Environment to regulate substances beyond the provisions of state statues.

The bill, which would pump billions of dollars into the economy of rural Kansas, passed the Senate by a veto–proof margin in the Senate but fell five votes short in the House.

The second bill would have required that milk labeled as being free of bovine growth hormone would have to also bear a label saying the FDA has found no difference in milk from cows treated with hormones and milk from untreated cows. Groups opposing biotechnology and producers of hormone-free milk pushed the governor to veto the bill.

Mainstream milk producers and groups supporting science-based regulation supported the labeling requirement, saying using the hormone-free label alone would lead consumers to believe milk from treated cows was dangerous to their health.

The third veto went to a bill that would have clarified the Kansas Department of Revenue ruling on the valuation of ag land for estate taxes.

The bill would have made it law to value agricultural land at its use value. The Department of Revenue has ruled that ag land owned by limited liability companies, corporations and other ownership arrangements should be valued at fair market price.

Dusti Fritz Leaving Kansas Wheat Leadership

After nine years working for the Kansas wheat industry, including four as the chief executive officer of Kansas Wheat, Dusti Fritz will leave her post and pursue a new role within the agriculture industry. Her departure is effective May 15, although she has accepted a half-time role as interim CEO until June 30.

"This was a very difficult decision to make. For the last nine years, I have been proud to work for Kansas wheat producers and am honored to be a part of so many accomplishments," Fritz says. "As the first CEO of Kansas Wheat, I am proud of the progress and efficiencies both organizations have achieved to give producers a unified and more effective voice."

Fritz has led Kansas Wheat to a number of new initiatives. Under her leadership, the Kansas Wheat Commission and Kansas Association of Wheat Growers developed a strategic plan that resulted in greater efficiencies and communications, with streamlined goals and objectives. She led the effort to increase the wheat assessment from 1 penny to 1.5 cents per bushel, resulting in greater investment in wheat research, education and promotional efforts. Fritz also laid the foundation for a Small Grains Innovation Center which, if funded by the Kansas Bioscience Authority, will generate even greater potential for improved wheat varieties and end-uses for Kansas wheat.

"Dusti has been an exemplary leader in her tenure as CEO of Kansas Wheat," says Doug Keesling, chairman of the Kansas Wheat Commission and a farmer from Chase. "She has worked diligently to improve the livelihoods of wheat farmers in Kansas by raising the awareness of Kansas wheat around the world. We wish her the very best as she seeks this new opportunity."

Adds Paul Penner, president of the Kansas Association of Wheat Growers: "Dusti has been a strong advocate for farmers during her tenure at Kansas Wheat. She has cultivated new relationships with industry and government that have brought about many positive changes for wheat producers. We will miss her."

Fritz has accepted a new position as Director of Western States Field Services with the United Sorghum Checkoff Program.

U of I Partners With Community Colleges to Offer Intro Ag Classes

The University of Illinois' College of ACES is partnering with Illinois community colleges on a new collaborative initiative called ACES ACCESS.

Beginning fall semester 2009, a sequence of four introductory agricultural science foundation courses, taught by University of Illinois professors, will be offered using distance education technologies to students attending a participating community college.

ACES ACCESS was developed to expand the range of agriculture courses community colleges can offer their students, with a special focus on assisting those colleges challenged by declining financial resources and faculty. Introductory courses will be available in animal sciences, crop production, horticulture, soils, among other fields of study. All Illinois community colleges are eligible to participate.

While providing a unique educational opportunity that includes access to U of I faculty and facilities, this initiative will pool resources and students from across the state. This collaborative initiative will aid those desiring to enter agriculturally-related fields gain the needed education.

Participating community colleges will offer ACES ACCESS courses through their regular registration process. Students will pay the standard tuition rate of their home institution and will earn course credit from their home community college. For those going on to pursue a baccalaureate degree, these credits may be later transferred seamlessly to Illinois or other four-year institutions.

Students will take courses using distance education technologies such as the synchronous web-based software "Elluminate" (www.elluminate.com). Courses that include laboratory experiences will offer one or two Saturday sessions on the University of Illinois campus in Urbana.

For more information about the program, contact Heather Miller, Academic Outreach Program Director at hmiller1@uiuc.edu or 217-265-6568.

Source: University of Illinois

U of I Honors Faculty, Staff, Alumni and Students

The University of Illinois College of ACES honored alumni, faculty, staff and students for their contributions during a recent awards ceremony.

Receiving the Paul A. Funk Recognition Award, the highest faculty honor, were three professors: Mark B. David, department of natural resources and environmental sciences; and Michael Ellis and Douglas F. Parrett, both of the department of animal sciences.

Receiving the ACES Alumni Association Award of Merit were:

  • Keith A. Garleb of Pickerington, Ohio, director of pediatric research and development at Abbott Nutrition Division
  • William R. Mullins of Shabbona, owner of Mullins Grain Co.
  • P. Scott Shearer of Oakton, Virginia, vice president of Bockorny Group
  • Bir Bahadur Singh of Uttaranchal, India, visiting professor at G.B. Pant University of Agriculture and Technology
  • Pant Nagar, India and visiting professor at Texas A&M University
  • Robert E. Smith of Newport, Vermont, president of R.E. Smith Consulting, Inc.

The Spitze Land-Grant Professorial Career Excellence Award was presented to John W. Erdman Jr., a professor in the department of food science and human nutrition.

Alex E. Winter-Nelson, a professor in the department of agricultural and consumer economics, received the Faculty Award for Global Impact.

The Senior Faculty Award for Excellence in Teaching went to Ramona F. Oswald, an associate professor in the department of human and community development. Soo-Yeun Lee, an associate professor in the department of food science and human nutrition, received the College Faculty Award for Excellence in Teaching.

William G. Helferich, a professor in the department of food science and human nutrition, won the Senior Faculty Award for Excellence in Research.

Taking the Senior Faculty Award for Excellence in Extension was Mosbah M. Kushad, an associate professor in the department of natural resources and environmental sciences. Aaron G. Hager, an assistant professor and Extension specialist in the department of crop sciences, won the College Faculty Award for Excellence in Extension.

The Karl E. Gardner Outstanding Undergraduate Advisor Award went to Alan C. Hansen, an associate professor in the department of agricultural and biological engineering.

The John Clyde and Henrietta Downey Spitler Teaching Award was presented to Frederic L. Kolb, a professor in the department of crop sciences.

Winners of the Professional Staff Award for Excellence were: Suzanne M. Bissonnette, U of I Extension, for sustained excellence--teaching and outreach; Ram J. Singh, department of crop sciences, sustained excellence--research; E. Louise Rogers, ACES administration--advancement, sustained excellence administrative/management or technical contributions; and Jill North Craft, department of food science and human nutrition, innovation and creativity.

Staff Awards for Excellence were presented to Karen M. Claus of the Department of natural resources and environmental sciences, and Donna K. Downen, department of crop sciences.

Don't Despair Over 'Iffy' Stands Too Quickly

The weather so far this spring seems to indicate it could be one of those springs when crops are planted between rain showers. And if it's anything like almost nay other season ever, there will be the 'wrong' days to plant. Since there is no way to predict them in advance, odds are good you may wind up with at least a field or two planted in that window. The result is usually stands that aren't up to par.

Then comes the two-fold question. Is the stand good enough to leave? If the answer is no, obviously you plant over. If it's yes, there's a second question, especially if you were planning to apply nitrogen after planting. Should I drop back on my rate since I don't have the stand that I expected to have?

Agronomists from the Indiana Certified Crop Advisors Group caution against being too quick to pull the trigger, especially on dropping back nitrogen rates. What you consider a sub-par stand may not amount to that much loss of yield potential.

For example, suppose you wanted 30,000 plants per acre and wind up with 26,000 plants per acre instead. The plants remaining are relatively healthy and fairly evenly distributed up and down each row. Marty Park, a CCA and account manager for Pioneer in northwest Indiana, says that you still have 87% of your desired population. If the hybrid has a lot of flex bred in, it could make up a lot of this gap in actual desired population by harvest time, he notes.

Furthermore, with most plants healthy and evenly distributed, and assuming planting took place at a reasonable time, there's only a 1 to 2% predicted decrease in potential yield for that 4,000 plant drop off your intended goal, Park notes. He bases that on data in the 2009 Purdue University Corn & Soybean Field Guide. It's a pocket guide published every year by the Purdue Diagnostic Training Center, affiliated with the Purdue Agronomy Department.

How much play you built into the rate in the first place may come into focus, he adds. If you were going on the high side for your yield goal with N rates, you might now have some room to fine-tune the rate a bit. However, if you has already shaved rates down more closely, then you might want to resist playing with rates.

Bryan Overstreet, also a CCA and Extension ad educator in Jasper County, advises caution before cutting back your order of anhydrous, or dialing back the applicator rates. "I think I would use the normal rate of ammonia," he says. His thinking is based largely on the same logic- that a 4,000 plant cut could only amount to a 1 to 2% yield loss.

Tests at Purdue's Throckmorton farm last year by Jeff Phillips of Tippecanoe County Extension seem to confirm that finding. The ideal population in a population test was 30,000 plants per acre. But in a second test where nitrogen sidedressing rates and populations were evaluated, highest yields actually came from 26,000 plants per acre.

The scenario would change if populations are much lower, or if stands are uneven. Consult Purdue's Field Guide for more info. Look for a full discussion of this issue in Crops Corner in the June issue of Indiana Prairie Farmer.

Technology Grants Available for Southern Minnesota Dairy Producers

Minnesota Dairy Initiatives- Southeast Region, Inc. is now accepting applications for the 2009-10 Technology Grant for dairy producers in the MDI-SE Region of Dodge, Fillmore, Freeborn, Goodhue, Houston, Mower, Olmsted, Steele, Wabasha, Waseca and Winona counties.

Dairies enrolled with MDI wishing to update management technology are eligible for reimbursement up to $500 for an approved purchase. Non-enrolled dairies are eligible for reimbursement up to $250, and are eligible for an additional $250 when they enroll with MDI. This amount is in addition to the grant dollars available to the dairy when they enroll. Deadline for application is June 15.

Contact Debra Pike, Minnesota Dairy Initiatives- SE Region Inc., First National Bank Building, P.O. Box 624, Plainview, MN, 55964; 507-534-1213; dairyinitse@embarqmail.com.