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Articles from 2010 In April

PQA Plus & TQA Certification Available At World Pork Expo In June

PQA Plus & TQA Certification Available At World Pork Expo In June

The Iowa Pork Producers Association is partnering with Iowa State University Extension swine specialists and the Pork Checkoff to offer Pork Quality Assurance Plus (PQA Plus) and Transport Quality Assurance (TQA) certification sessions at the 2010 World Pork Expo in June.

Pork producers needing to become certified in the programs can attend at no charge on Thursday, June 10. The workshops will be held at the Walnut Center at the Iowa State Fairgrounds in Des Moines.

The PQA Plus session will be held from 10 a.m. to noon. TQA certification will take place from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. Registration begins 30 minutes prior to each session. The training will be limited to the first 50 producers to register. Producers can pre-register now or get additional information by contacting IPPA at (515) 225-7675 or

Make plans now to attend World Pork Expo June 9-11 in Des Moines

If you're interested in hog production, make plans to attend the 2010 World Pork Expo June 9-11 at the Iowa State Fairgrounds in Des Moines, Iowa. Sponsored by the National Pork Producers Council, the event will attract hog producers and industry representatives from all over the U.S. and several foreign countries.

NPPC officials say they expect an increased number of exhibitors and producers to attend this year's Expo as the hog profit picture is improving for 2010 and is expected to continue into 2011. Commercial exhibits will feature the latest technology, equipment, genetics and other products and services to help producers improve efficiency and profitability. A number of interesting educational and information sessions will also be held at this year's Expo.

Expo seminars scheduled with top-notch speakers and topics

Producers will have ample opportunity to learn how to boost their pork production efficiency with educational seminars. A short list includes:
* Risk management for pork producers--sponsored by Chicago Mercantile Exchange.
* Are you feeding the right ingredients?--sponsored by Cargill
* Improving swine herd health--sponsored by Intervet/Schering Plough.
* Market outlook—with Steve Meyer of Paragon Economics, who will address U.S. hog supply and demand, trade issues and give price forecasts on June 9 and 10.

In addition to educational sessions and commercial exhibits, the food and fun part of the Expo will feature America's Best Genetics Showcase, Farm Toy Show and Sale, New Product Showcase, 2010 Junior National Swine Show, Cruisin' with the Hogs, MusicFest, Pig Races, World Pork Open Clay Target Championship and the World Pork Open Golf Outing.

New is a special farm tour, and the "Producer's Choice Award"

World Pork Expo's industry tour offers producers from around the globe a first-hand look at Midwest agriculture. Attendees are invited to participate in a two day tour June 7 and 8. You can register for the tour on the World Pork Expo's Events & Activities page online.

On opening day, a panel of judges will unveil their list of "Most Promising Products at World Pork Expo." These products will be on display during the New Product showcase for producers to examine throughout the duration of the Expo. Producers can cast their votes for their favorite new product or service. The nominee with the most votes will receive the "Producer's Choice Award."

About 450 commercial exhibitors will pack the Expo exhibit area

The number of commercial exhibitors this year is expected to total at least 450. The National Pork Board will also be on hand to explain the research projects it is financing with pork checkoff funds.
The Iowa Pork Producers Association will provide recently released updates to its Livestock Environmental Regulations handbook. "This handbook aims to keep livestock producers informed of current environmental regulations," says Tyler Bettin, producer education director for IPPA.

Pre-registration ahead of time online will save you some money

If you want to attend, you can pre-register for World Pork Expo online. Pre-registration isn't required but it will save you some money. Gate passes are $5 in advance or $15 at the gate. For more information on the World Pork Expo go to:

Information updates regarding the upcoming 2010 World Pork Expo are available by e-mail. At you can click on E-alert signup. If you do, you can ask NPPC to send you additional information on the World Pork Expo as it becomes available.

Clean Energy Economy Will Lead Global Economy

“For decades, we talked about how our dependence on oil threatened our economy; but our will to act rose and fell with the price at the pump.” This was one of the key points that President Obama made this week during a visit to the POET Biorefining plant in Macon, MO, which celebrates its 10th anniversary next month. POET Biorefining Macon now produces 46 million gallons of ethanol annually. To listen to an audio of the President’s speech, visit and then click on the ZimmCom link.

We have long depended on foreign oil at great cost, particularly in human life. In the shadow of yet another oil disaster off our own shores, we continue to pay a high price. One does not have to be a dyed-in-the-wool “tree hugger” to feel sick at the sight of oil-covered birds and other wildlife.

Our country’s dependence on foreign oil has only increased since the time Richard Nixon was in office. Since then other countries have made huge investments in clean energy. Spain, for example, has made significant investments in biofuels, and wind and solar power.

Brazil is one of the world’s largest ethanol producers and is the largest exporter of the fuel. In 2008, it produced 454,000 bbl/d of ethanol, and the fuel’s importance in Brazil’s domestic market will only increase, reports the US. Energy Information Administration. According to Petrobras, the Brazilian oil production giant, ethanol accounts for more than 50 percent of current light vehicle fuel demand, and the company expects this to increase to over 80 percent by 2020.

And then there’s China. According to a Pew Charitable Trusts study, China spent more than any other major country on clean energy in 2009, including wind and solar. This toppled the U.S. from the top spot for the first time in five years, USA Today reported in March.

Consider what other countries are doing and then consider what President Obama told those at the POET event this week —“The country that leads the clean energy economy will be the country that leads the 21st Century global economy.” Tired about hearing how much the government is pouring into “subsidies” for the biofuels industry? I ask this--what are the ultimate costs of not investing in clean energy?

Tips for pest management in alfalfa

Alfalfa is an ideal environment to foster the population development of beneficial and pest insects.

Large numbers of natural enemies can be found in alfalfa including lady-bird beetles, green lacewings, big-eyed bugs, damsel bugs, syrphid flies, and numerous parasitic wasps.

A healthy alfalfa crop with a diverse array of natural enemies can help suppress pest populations below economic thresholds.

Fostering the use of natural enemies in an integrated pest management (IPM) program allows alfalfa growers to better manage pest outbreaks. IPM practices include the use of biological control, cutting schedule modifications, strip or border cutting, more resistant alfalfa varieties, and pesticides when needed.

Proper identification

The cornerstone of IPM is a good knowledge of the pest attacking a crop and an understanding of the relationship of pest density to crop damage. It is important to properly identify insects when sampling alfalfa fields.

Many insect species, especially in the immature stages, are similar in appearance and can be easily confused. For example, lygus nymphs can be confused with general predator big-eyed bug nymphs.

The blue alfalfa aphid and pea aphid are similar and should be distinguished with a careful examination of the antenna with a hand lens. Improper identification can lead to incorrect management decisions.

The failure to properly identify natural enemies can lead to unnecessary pesticide applications if the natural enemy populations are sufficient to maintain pest numbers below economic treatment levels.

It is important that a scouting program include an assessment of pests and natural enemies including the specific life stage.

Routine field sampling

Regular scouting of alfalfa fields is necessary to determine pest density and when treatment is warranted. The action threshold is defined as the level of pest populations where control action should be implemented to avoid significant damage to the crop.

Action thresholds help determine the level of control action and the proper timing of the action, taking into account the relative pest density, distribution, and the plant’s growth stage.

How to monitor

The use of efficient sampling methods is necessary especially when scouting large alfalfa fields. The sampling method depends on the insect.

The most common sampling method in alfalfa is a 15-inch-wide sweep net. How the sweep net is used can greatly influence the effectiveness for collecting insects and the treatment decisions based on the number of insects caught.

The following is a standard method for sampling. Swing the sweep net in a 180-degree arc so the rim of the net strikes the top 6-8 inches of the alfalfa. Hold the net slightly less than vertical so the bottom edge strikes the alfalfa before the top edge. This helps move the insects into the net.

Each 180 degree side-to-side sweep counts as one. A common practice is to sweep from right to left, walk a step, and then sweep from left to right. After taking the desired 10 sweeps at each location, quickly pull the net through the air to force the insects into the bottom of the net bag.

Grab the net bag with a hand at about the mid-point. Count the insects and divide the total by 10 to get the average number of insects per sweep. To gain a good insect count, take sweep net samples in four different areas of the field. Refer to the UC-Davis IPM Web site for specific sweep net sampling guidelines for each pest.

For shorter re-growth alfalfa, do not rely on sweep net sampling to determine the population levels. Examine plant stems for insects and recently damaged foliage. Randomly choose five stems from four areas per field. Place each stem sample over a white pan and tap. This will dislodge the insects into the pan for assessment.

Yellow sticky traps can be used for estimating relative densities of flying insects. Sticky traps can capture significantly more insects including lady-bird beetles. Sweeps or stem counts are more useful to determine adult density changes over time.

Proper pesticide selection

A problem in implementing an IPM program in alfalfa is the lack of information on the compatibility of insecticides with natural enemies. It is important to evaluate the relative toxicity of selected pesticides to natural enemies including parasites, aphid predators, Lepidoptera, and the Egyptian alfalfa weevil.

Some pesticides are highly toxic to some life stages of natural enemies. Broad spectrum insecticides including carbaryl should be avoided since it is highly toxic to all life stages.

Products including Bacillus thuringiensis and cyromazine are relatively non-toxic to all life stages of natural enemies.

The conservation of natural enemies through the use of timed applications of selective insecticides for targeted pest management is feasible.

Corn+Soybean Digest

ASA Says President Obama’s Main Street Tour Highlights Role of Biofuels

The American Soybean Association (ASA) says President Barack Obama’s visit today to POET Biorefining in Macon, MO, highlights the role the biofuels industry can play in the creation of green jobs and drive economic development while benefiting the environment. The visit also underscores the urgent need for Congress to quickly pass a retroactive extension of the biodiesel tax incentive.

"ASA appreciates President Obama’s efforts to bring attention to the importance of our domestic biofuels industry and how it support rural economies," says ASA President Rob Joslin, a soybean producer from Sidney, OH. "What we need now is for the Congress to prioritize passage of a retroactive extension of the biodiesel tax incentive to put people back to work at green jobs as soon as possible."

The biodiesel tax incentive expired on Dec. 31, 2009. Since then, biodiesel production and consumption has dramatically declined, biodiesel production facilities have closed, thousands of biodiesel industry workers have lost their jobs, and surplus soybean oil stocks continue to rise as a result of lower demand.

The U.S. House of Representatives approved H.R. 4213, the Tax Extenders Act of 2009, in December 2009, and the Senate passed its version of H.R. 4213, the American Workers, State and Business Relief Act in early March 2010. Both versions of the bill include retroactive extension of the vital biodiesel tax credit through Dec. 31, 2010. The House and Senate must now reconcile the differences between the two versions of the bill approved by the respective chambers.

"Congress should move quickly to seek agreement on a final bill that can be passed and signed into law," Joslin says. "Biodiesel has the best energy balance and the best greenhouse gas reduction of any fuel that is currently in the commercial marketplace, and biodiesel is the only advanced biofuel that has reached commercialization in the U.S."

The Renewable Fuel Standard Program (RFS2) announced in February demonstrates that soy biodiesel can achieve significant reductions in greenhouse gas emissions relative to petroleum diesel. It also requires the combined 2009 and 2010 volume levels to be met, which will require the utilization of 1.1 billion gallons of biodiesel by the end of 2010.

The biodiesel tax incentive, which is structured as a federal excise tax credit, amounts to a penny per percentage point of biodiesel blended with petroleum diesel. The young biodiesel industry relies on this support to make biodiesel more competitive with petroleum diesel, and lower the cost of biodiesel to the end consumer.

"Production of homegrown biofuels strengthens national security by reducing the nation’s energy dependence on imported petroleum, contributes to a healthier environment, and supports thousands of jobs in rural communities across the United States," Joslin adds.

Corn+Soybean Digest

Will Early Corn Planting Affect Insect Populations?

For every action, there is a reaction. With nearly 75% of the Illinois corn crop now planted, experts are discussing the potential reaction of insect populations to this year's early corn planting.

For several insects that migrate into Illinois each season, the severity of the infestation from year to year depends upon the intensity and timing of their migration flights. These insects include corn leaf aphids, corn earworms, black cutworms and fall armyworms.

Intense flights of black cutworm moths were reported in widely scattered areas throughout the state of Illinois from April 23 to April 26.

"Because the black cutworm's flight is so early in the growing season, it's easier to predict how early planting may affect potential outbreaks," says Mike Gray, University of Illinois Extension entomologist. "In general, early tillage and planting of corn works against the establishment of economic infestations of black cutworms. So, despite the recent intense flights across many areas of the state, I believe the prospects for widespread black cutworm problems this spring are low."

Because farmers removed weeds from fields this spring at a good pace, black cutworm establishment should be lower. Black cutworm moths will still lay eggs on crop residue, and they prefer soybean residue over corn. So first-year corn remains at greater risk to black cutworm injury than continuous corn.

Many insects overwinter each year in Illinois. In general, the early planting and establishment of corn root systems enhances the survival of root feeder insects such as the grape colaspis, western corn rootworm, white grub and wireworm.

However, Gray says the good growing conditions and warm soil temperatures should allow corn seedlings to grow more rapidly through susceptible seedling stages of development.

"For instance, cool and wet springs may slow corn seedling development sufficiently to enable insects such as wireworms and corn flea beetles to feed longer, causing more injury," he says.

Although western corn rootworm densities have been lower the last two seasons in Illinois, Gray suspects the early planting may result in larger densities of this perennial insect pest this season.

Early planting favors the establishment of the European corn borer's first generation, but due to the historically low overwintering population, Gray predicts this insect will not cause many problems this year in Illinois.

"It's important for producers to be vigilant with their scouting efforts now," Gray says.

For more information about the reaction of insects to early corn planting, read The Bulletin online.

Corn+Soybean Digest

Applying Soil-Residual Herbicides to Emerging Corn

In contrast to the past two planting seasons, many farmers are already witnessing emerging corn. Because of the rapid planting progress, some farmers may have corn emerging in fields where a soil-residual herbicide was planned but not yet applied. Questions are arising about whether herbicides can be applied to emerging corn.

Aaron Hager, University of Illinois Extension weed specialist, said the answer depends on the respective herbicide. Many, but not all, herbicides that are typically applied prior to corn planting or emergence may be applied after corn has emerged.

"Even if a soil-residual herbicide can be applied after crop and weed emergence, not all soil-residual herbicides will control emerged weeds," Hager says. "If weeds also have emerged, additional management procedures, such as the addition of a herbicide with post-emergence activity, may be needed."

He reminds farmers to consult the product label for additional information regarding the need for tankmix partners or spray additives to improve control of existing weeds.

"Corn injury can be enhanced if these products are applied during periods of crop stress, such as stress caused by excessive soil moisture, cool air or cool soil temperatures," he says. "Most herbicide labels also caution not to use nitrogen fertilizer as the herbicide carrier if corn has emerged."

Soil-residual herbicides need to be moved into the soil solution in order to be available for uptake by weed seedlings. A herbicide that remains on the soil surface after application and is not moved into the soil profile by precipitation or mechanical incorporation may not provide adequate weed control.

For more information about delayed application of soil-residual herbicides, read the April 29 edition of The Bulletin online.

A Week of Wild Swings on the Market

A Week of Wild Swings on the Market

Farm Futures Analyst Arlan Suderman says the Goldman flu has had an impact with the trend of money flowing out of the equity markets into the hard assests and commodiites.

Pat Benedict, 'The New U.S. Farmer,' Dead At 76

Pat Benedict, 'The New U.S. Farmer,' Dead At 76

The farmer who was featured on the cover of Time magazine in 1978 as "The New U.S. Farmer" has died in car-farm truck accident.

Pat Benedict, Sabin, Minn, 76, died in a head-on crash with a grain truck Wednesday. The accident occurred on a county highway not far from his family's farm headquarters. The truck driver, who was not injured, told authorities that the car Benedict was driving suddenly swerved into the oncoming lane. Authorities are trying to determine whether a medical problem may have caused the accident.

Thirty years ago, Time described Benedict – who then farmed 3,500 acres and had a half million dollar line of equipment -- as "archetypal of the farmers who make U.S. agriculture the nation's most efficient and productive industry and by far the biggest force holding down the trade deficit. … Large farmers, like Benedict, who know how to use credit and the latest in agricultural science, are gaining an ever greater share of the market. They produce most of the food that the U.S. eats and almost all that it sells to the world."

Benedict was former chairman of the American Crystal Sugar Company. He helped build the Pro Gold corn processing plant at Wahpeton, N.D., and was instrumental in helping launch several other value-added ag cooperatives.

Vance Earns First Place in International Contest

Vance Earns First Place in International Contest

OSTEND, BELGIUM- Jason Vance, E-content editor for, earned a first place in the inaugural IFAJ (International Federation of Agricultural Journalists) broadcast contest. Vance won first place in the online radio category for a story about the release of a Cattle on Feed report, broadcast via in August, 2009.

In commenting on the winning online radio entry, the judges found that Vance had created a “no-nonsense, solid, fact-filled marketing report” which would find favor with its specialist audience. There were no wasted words; it was “packed with well-presented facts delivered with style and confidence.” Vance also showed good voice inflection in how the piece was narrated.

Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC) reporter Kerry Staight won the overall inaugural IFAJ Star Prize for Agricultural Broadcasting, for ‘All in the Family,’ a story about the sensitive issue of succession planning on family-owned farms in Australia. It was broadcast on the ABC in February 2009, as part of its weekly Landline program.

Contest coordinator Liz Harfull said the IFAJ was extremely pleased with the response to the broadcast award in its first year, which attracted entries from five continents.

“We recognize the importance of broadcast journalism for agriculture, and are pleased to be able to honor excellence for stories aired via the traditional mediums of radio and television, but also via the Internet which is playing an increasingly important role in today’s media world,” she said.

“The winners not only informed us about issues of vital importance to agriculture, but they found a way to entertain us at the same time, through applying considerable technical skills with often limited resources.”

The International Federation of Agricultural Journalists is a global association of professional communicators who report on agriculture. Learn more at

Ag Loses Another Hero

 Dr. Stanley Curtis may not be a household name for most Americans. And he may never have an HBO movie made in his honor. But for U.S. livestock farmers, he was a true champion and pioneer. Curtis, a retired University of Illinois animal science professor, died of a heart attack last week at age 68.  

Considered the foremost champion of science-based criteria for evaluating animal welfare, his work has directly influenced the global debate on these issues and helped define how food animals are treated in the U.S. 

He devised revolutionary behavior-based approaches that led to breakthroughs in animal equipment and facility design, says Steve Kopperud, Executive Vice President for Policy Directions, a Washington, D.C.-based government affairs company. His research led to better temperature regulation in baby pigs, better crate and watering systems for sows, a side-swing gate for gestation stalls, weight-sort systems for hogs, and ever-broader application of his 'performance axiom' for evaluating well-being in multiple species. 

He was featured in The Wall Street Journal, The (London) Times, LIFE, Scientific American, and National Geographic. As well, he appeared on CBC, ABC, Animal Planet, BBC, Children’s Television Workshop, and CNN.
He wrote the first comprehensive textbook on animal-environmental management. From 1965 on, he formulated science-based responses to organized criticism of livestock state of being on farms. He wrote and spoke on the topic around the world, serving as a leader and member of innumerable university, state, national and international committees.

Curtis was a legacy in the classroom and left a lasting impact on his students in courses focusing on animals’ environmental needs, management and growth. Over his more than 40 years in teaching and research, Stan advised over 150 undergraduate and 50 graduate students, including Temple Grandin, Colorado State University, considered a leading expert on livestock behavior and handling. 

"He was a gift of positive change to the global meat animal world," says Steve Sinn, a Tremont, Ill. farmer and former student. "He was that rare combination of common sense intellect, work ethic and integrity, as well as the true unmatched understanding of man's relationship with meat producing animals.    His work will endure as long as man and animal coexist on this planet."  

Jim Pettigrew, U of I professor of animal sciences, considered Curtis an important mentor when he was a Ph.D. student, even though Curtis was outside of his discipline of nutrition.

“Dr. Curtis was arguably the most accomplished communicator the field of animal science has ever known,” Pettigrew says. “He essentially created the specialty of environmental physiology within the field of animal science. By force of intellect and personality, he made people in both industry and academia acutely aware of environmental influences on animals.”

'Pure' Scientist Curtis was first and foremost what his colleagues called a “pure” scientist, a man who argued passionately for over 40 years that the most accurate indicators of animal well-being are those performances, behaviors and characteristics that can be measured. “Until a pig learns to talk,” Stan would say, “pig performance will remain the best indicator of animal well-being.”

In the 1970s, Stan was one of the first in U.S. animal agriculture – producer, lobbyist or scientist -- to recognize the impending assault from animal rightists and other anti-technology critics who were gaining significant political footholds in Europe.  He straightforwardly advised the U.S. pork industry at the time to recognize and address shortcoming in animal care.

As disciplines including animal behavior emerged in the 1980s and universities began offering graduate degrees in “animal welfare,” Curtis fought to keep animal well-being in the proper perspective. He developed the “performance axiom,” an appendix to the animal welfare continuum he championed, namely that good welfare exists within any number of housing and handling systems. No one system is best, he said, and all must have a common root: Animal well-being must involve objective, measurable criteria and be based upon performance standards.

He constantly warned producers of all stripes that they must unite to fight common enemies, often quoting various authors as to the consequences of infighting or minimizing the threat from those who would rob modern food production of its technology and science.

Those words of advice must echo long after Stanley Curtis is gone if livestock agriculture hopes to maintain its place in world food production.