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Articles from 2017 In April

How many are still operating?

Orion Samuelson wonders if any single-room schoolhouses are still operating.

Samuelson Sez is a special feature of This Week in Agribusiness where Orion Samuelson shares his thoughts and insights into key issues of the day.

Chapter Tribute: Naperville Central FFA

Max Armstrong profiles Naperville Central FFA, Naperville, Illinois, this 25-member chapter was originally formed in 1938. Chapter member Emily Dziegimiski talks about how their group tries to raise awareness of ag in their urban community.

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 Orion Samuelson at or 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


1951 John Deere B

Max Armstrong tells the story of a 1951 John Deere B, owned by Rhett Whaley, Bloomfield, Indiana.

Max's Tractor Shed is a regular feature of This Week in Agribusiness. Max Armstrong shares information about legacy machines, their stories and how they may still be at work today. If you have a tractor you want featured in Max's Tractor Shed, send a high-resolution digital picture, your contact information, and information about the tractor - what makes it special - to

This Week in Agribusiness, April 29, 2017

Part 1

Max Armstrong opens this week's show by congratulating Sonny Perdue, the newly confirmed Secretary of Agriculture. Patrick Haggerty reports on Sonny Perdue being sworn in, where Secretary Perdue rolled up his sleeves, and reminds people he was a farmer first. Nick Jensen, President, Thurston Manufacturing, tackles the Farm Challenge of the Week. And Farm broadcaster Duane Murley, KWMT Radio, from Fort Dodge, Iowa, offers insight into key issues farmers in that part of the country are watching.

Part 2

Max Armstrong talks markets with Paul Georgy, Allendale, Inc. In Samuelson Sez, Orion Samuelson wonders if any single-room schoolhouses are still operating. And Agricultural Meteorologist Greg Soulje looks at weather for the Western United States.

Part 3

Matt Coniglio, Penton Ag, talks about the many opportunities available at the National Agri-Marketing Association. Chad Colby reports on the crops in central and southern Illinois.

Part 4

Max Armstrong talks with Roberta Simpson-Dolbeare, Nebo, Illinois, about utilizing technology with smart farms. Ag Meteorologist Greg Soulje looks at weather for the Eastern United States. And in Max's Tractor Shed, Max tells the story of a 1951 John Deere B, owned by Rhett Whaley, Bloomfield, Indiana.

Part 5

Max Armstrong continues his market conversation with Paul Georgy, Allendale, Inc.

Part 6

Max Armstrong profiles Naperville Central FFA, Naperville, Illinois, this 25-member chapter formed in 1938. And Ag Meteorologist Greg Soulje looks at the weather for the week ahead, including his four-week forecast.

Part 7

In Freeways to Farms with Max Armstrong, Max talks with Jamie Walter, Whiskey Acres, about how he uses technology to maximize his operation. More episodes of Freeways to Farms can be found online at

2016 Delphi FFA tractor drive
READY TO ROLL: The author is first in line on the left hand side to start the 2016 Delphi FFA Tractor Drive. He’s driving the Massey-Harris 44 restored by Delphi FFA members.

Delphi FFA Tractor Drive raises money for local ag scholarships

Maybe it’s not the Indy 500, but rolling out of the parking lot in a string of tractors behind a sheriff’s patrol car still gets the adrenaline pumping. If you haven’t ever experienced that feeling, here is your chance to do so. The Delphi FFA is hosting its third annual tractor drive on June 17. You can be part of that long line of tractors parading through Delphi and Carroll County, enjoying the countryside as well as the fellowship of other drivers before, after and during lunch.

“We use the proceeds to help fund FFA scholarships,” says Doug Walker, Delphi High School vocational-agriculture instructor and FFA advisor. “Our students loved going to other tractor drives over the past decade, so two years ago we decided to host our own tractor drive.”

Roughly 40 tractors and drivers have participated each of the past two years. Walker is hoping for even more tractors in the event this year. The drive consists of about a 30-mile ride through Carroll County, mostly on rural roads, beginning and ending at the Delphi High School parking lot.

Several of the tractors in the drive were restored in the Delphi ag shop as part of the ag mechanics class. The program has restored some 25 tractors over the past few years.

Registration is $25 by June 6 and $30 after June 6. That includes lunch, Walker says. You can enter the day of the drive, but pre-registration is encouraged.

To enter, fill out an entry form. It includes the rules of the drive. To obtain an entry form, email Walker at, or call 812-631-0448.

The Carroll County Antique Tractor and Machinery Club is a big supporter of the drive and Delphi FFA. However, you don’t have to own an older tractor to participate. Tractors of any age, size, brand, shape and description capable of traveling 30 miles in one day are welcome, Walker says.

Registration begins at 8 a.m. EDT. A drivers’ meeting begins at 9:15 a.m. EDT, with the first tractor pulling out of the parking lot as soon as the drivers’ meeting ends.

traditional barn
OLD AND NEW: Think of this traditional barn as representing older generations. When they bring newer generations into the farm business, there needs to be a spirit of cooperation.

Initial steps when transferring business management

Transferring business management between generations is one of the most critical steps in transitioning a business from an older generation to a younger generation. Having said that, in numerous instances, this step is given little thought.  

Transitioning management can’t be done overnight, and often requires a trial-and-error approach before it’s determined how each generation fits into the multiple-generation business.

In this discussion, I assume the two parties can work together, and that the business is large enough to support two generations. Those are major assumptions that aren’t always met.

Get more INSIGHT: Download Farm Succession Planning now!

This means the older generation is ready to bring in a new generation and begin turning over management, control, ownership and income; and the younger generation is committed. In addition, I assume that both parties agree on the future direction of the business. In other words, the parties involved need to share a common vision of their future together in farming.

Start the transfer process
How does the farm start the management transfer process? Even before the younger generation returns to the farm, it’s imperative that both the younger generation and the older generation think about the skills the younger generation is bringing to the operation, and how these skills can be effectively utilized. 

We often want to hire individuals who are like us. In a small business, hiring someone who is like you or bringing in a family member who has a similar skill set is problematic. For example, someone needs to keep and analyze records, procure inputs, market crops, and manage personnel, even if nobody is passionate about these activities.

Management tasks cannot be transferred overnight. Typically, the younger generation is given some responsibility relatively soon after joining the operation. For example, they may be assigned responsibility for a small area or part of the decision-making process for an enterprise or function.

Ask tough questions
I have found the following two related questions helpful when determining where to start the management transfer process. First, what specific areas is the new generation passionate about? Second, does this passion for specific areas correspond with areas in which they are skilled or have experience?

We’ve briefly discussed initial steps when transferring business management. Other pertinent considerations include assigning decision-making authority, dividing management responsibility and the older generation’s plan to eventually withdraw from management. More information pertaining to business planning and strategic management can be found on the website for the Purdue Center for Commercial Agriculture.

Langemeier is assistant director of Purdue University’s Center for Commercial Agriculture. He writes from West Lafayette.

Blackeye peas

California dry bean acreage, yield, production increase

Dry-bean growing areas in California’s Sacramento and San Joaquin valleys increased in acreage, yields, and total production in 2016, compared to the previous year.

The National Agricultural Statistics Service pegs 2016 California statewide dry bean acreage at 50,000 acres, up about 10 percent from the year earlier. Yields increased slightly in 2016 to 2,330 pounds per acre, 20 pounds higher than 2015 (2,310 pounds/acre).

Statewide, 2016 dry bean production grew 7 percent to 1.141 million hundredweight (cwt), up from 1.029 million hundredweight (cwt) in 2015.

San Joaquin Valley dry bean acreage totaled 27,000 acres last year compared to 20,000 acres in the Sacramento Valley. About 3,000 acres were grown in other areas.

Last year, the California county with the most planted acreage was Sutter County (10,500 acres) followed in descending order by San Joaquin County (7,500 acres), Fresno and Stanislaus counties (5,800 acres each), Tulare County (5,100 acres), Colusa County (3,800), and Merced County (800).

Cow Photo: Scott Olson, Getty Images

UA to resubmit proposal for veterinary school accreditation

The American Veterinary Medical Association’s Council on Education (COE) has sustained its denial of initial accreditation for the University of Arizona’s (UA) proposed veterinary medical education program.

The UA says it succeeded with seven of the 11 accreditation standards, and will continue to work to earn the COE’s designation.

The proposed UA program would be the only public veterinary medical education program in Arizona.

“It’s been a rigorous process and we’ve learned a great deal about what is required to meet the COE’s requirements for accreditation, and the UA remains committed to achieving that designation for our program,” said Andrew Comrie, UA’s senior vice president for academic affairs and provost.

Comrie adds, “Accreditation should be viewed as a process, not an obstacle, and pursuing accreditation is central to our goal of providing a superior program of the highest quality.”

The UA appealed the COE’s decision to withhold its designation of “reasonable assurance of accreditation” last December. The Council reversed part of the earlier decision and approved the program’s plans for a research program, but issues with four other standards remain and those will be addressed in a revised submission.

The COE also significantly shortened the wait period before the UA could reapply for consideration. While they could have required a 12-month wait after the appeal, the Council will allow the UA to reapply as soon as June 14.

The UA already has begun several efforts for re-submission. Those include hiring a consultant with experience in COE accreditation and opening a search for a permanent dean of veterinary sciences to lead the UA’s efforts to establish a veterinary sciences faculty, create the curriculum, and a program for clinical training.

UA also plans to appoint an interim dean of veterinary sciences to accelerate the accreditation efforts.

The need for more veterinarians in Arizona is particularly acute for counties and cities outside of Maricopa County (Phoenix area), especially for large-animal practices. The Tribal Nations also have been short of veterinarians for several years.

The university believes veterinarians who graduate from a UA veterinarian program will be more likely to stay in Arizona, and those with less debt can better afford to practice in rural areas.


Wall Street abandons “reflation trade”

If the “reflation trade” isn’t dead, it appeared lingering on life support following release of the latest position reports among big traders.

The data, collected as of Tuesday by the Commodity Futures Trading Commission, showed investors and speculators jumping ship on their wagers that tax cuts and economic growth would spur demand, both for hard assets and the paper behind them. President Trump’s economic team indeed announced its hopes for tax cuts, but the plan was barebones at best – a starting point in what could be contentious negotiations. And there’s still no word on an infrastructure plan as Congress struggles just to get a budget approved in time to avoid a government shutdown.

The CRB index of commodities eased again this week, barely holding above lows set after Trump’s election. Owning commodities was seen as a way to guard against inflation, as well as benefit from demand growth. Neither tactic has panned out.

Here’s a look at results from the April 28 Commitment of Traders.

Market Update for April 28, 2017

It's been a weather market the past couple days, with cold temps forecast for this weekend boosting winter wheat and a dry pattern emerging next week sending corn and soybeans lower.

Mid-week, talk of withdrawing from NAFTA added some uneasiness to the market.

In today's CFTC, funds hold net short positions.

Crop progress report due out Monday afternoon will be anticipated to see if it shows a change in corn, soybean planting and winter wheat condition.

Some markets around the world will be closed Monday for May Day.

Listen to the report using the audio link on this page.

Farm Futures Senior Editor Bob Burgdorfer comes to Penton Farm Progress with experience as a reporter covering grain markets and other global news with Reuters, Inc. A journalism graduate from Kansas State University, Bob has also worked at daily newspapers and Knight-Ridder as a commodity reporter, covering grains and livestock. He has earned five writing awards for his coverage of Mad Cow Disease, immigration issues and other international breaking news stories.

For more corn, wheat and soy news, commodity marketing recommendations and daily commodity charts, subscribe to Farm Futures' free e-newsletter, Farm Futures Daily, and keep up during the day with Farm Futures on Twitter.