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Articles from 2010 In September


Sweeter Tax Incentives Arrive Just in Time

Sweeter Tax Incentives Arrive Just in Time

This week, Congress passed the Small Business Jobs and Credit Act. And President Obama signed it on Monday. It provides numerous tax incentives for small business owners. Here are some key provisions that may benefit agriculture:

  • Enhanced Section 179 depreciation deductions: The maximum deduction is raised to $500,000 for 2010 and 2011 with a phase-out threshold of $2 million. Eligible assets include computers, office equipment, and furniture. Certain real estate improvement costs now qualify for Section 179 deductions of up to $250,000.
  • "Bonus depreciation" is back: The bonus depreciation tax break, which expired after 2009, was restored for 2010. A business may claim a deduction equal to 50% of the cost of qualified assets, including vehicles. An extra year of bonus depreciation through 2011 is allowed for property with a cost recovery period of 10 years or more. Qualifying new assets must be placed in service by December 31, 2010.
  • Start-up expense deductions increase: The new law doubles maximum deduction for 2010 to $10,000 with a $60,000 phase-out threshold. But the figures revert back to prior amounts in 2011.
  • Restrictions on business credits removed: The new law allows "eligible small businesses" to use of general business credits to offset a taxpayer's alternative minimum tax liability. Beginning this year, an eligible small business may carry back general business credits for five years instead of one.
  • Better tax treatment for non-public biz stock: Assuming certain requirements are met, an investor in "qualified small business stock" may exclude part of the gain from the sale of the stock after a five-year holding period. The 2009 stimulus law increased that exclusion to 75% for acquisitions after February 17, 2009 and before January 1, 2011. The new law allows a 100% exclusion for acquisitions from September 27, 2010 through December 31, 2010.
  • Cell phones recordkeeping eased: Under the new revisions, you no longer have to track business and personal use of cell phones and similar communications devices to claim deductions. And, employer-provided devices are considered as tax-free fringe benefits.
  • Self-employed health insurance break: For 2010 only, eligible self-employed people can deduct health insurance premiums from the self-employment income subject to employment tax.
  • Easier Roth contributions: Beginning in 2011, participants in state and local government-operated 457 plans (other than nonprofits) can contribute deferred amounts to Roth accounts. Participants in 401(k) and 403(b) plans already have this ability. For 2010 rollovers, you can opt to have the taxable income split between 2011 and 2012.

There are more details to each provision. Always consult with your tax adviser before taking action.

Information provided courtesy of Stambaugh Ness, financial consultants headquartered in York, Pa.

Minimize Flooding Damage

Minimize Flooding Damage

A coastal storm front is predicted to drop four to six inches of rainfall or more all the way from Baltimore, Md. to Buffalo, N.Y. The severity, especially after last weekend's storms, prompted a flood warning from Pennsylvania Ag Secretary Russell Redding:

"Farmers need to prepare as much as possible to minimize loss and help maintain their business," he said, and offered these tips:

  • Relocate livestock and animals from low-lying flood-prone areas.
  • Move machinery, feed, grain, pesticides, herbicides, round forage bales and nursery stock to higher elevation.
  • Double-check manure storage area to ensure there is sufficient capacity.
  • Check to ensure there's adequate water and feed stored for emergencies.
  • Ensure that generators have fuel and are in good repair for dairy and livestock operations.
  • Disconnect electric power to all buildings that may flood.
  • If participating in a federally-sponsored crop insurance plan, contact your insurance agent within 72 hours of discovering crop damage. All residue and crop damage should be left intact until the damage can be properly assessed.
Swine Producers Can Aim for Niche Markets

Swine Producers Can Aim for Niche Markets

Two new bulletins aimed at helping swine breeders develop breeding systems that will enable them to enter the specialty production market are now available through the Michigan State University Extension Bookstore.

The first, "Swine Breeding Systems for Alternative Pork Chains: Breeding Programs," (E-3107) outlines how pork producers can tailor their production management and marketing techniques to targeted markets. It compares various cross-breeding systems, performance expectations and methods of operation.

The six-page publication includes diagrams for two-breed and three-breed rotational programs, as well as explanations of grandparent terminal and rotaterminal breeding systems. Cost for the bulletin is $6.50.

The other publication, "Swine Breeding Systems for Alternative Pork Chains: Breed Options and Use," (E-3108) provides pork producers with an overview of breed characteristics and explains how various breeds can be crossed to best align with the specifications of niche markets.

This eight-page publication covers sow productivity, growth and carcass merit, meat quality, taste panel evaluation, important genes and gilt replacement programs. Cost for this bulletin is $5.50.

According to MSU swine specialist Ronald Bates, who authored the publications, pork producers can apply this information and get better pigs.

"These bulletins can help pork producers better understand how to use breeds and breed combinations to improve the pigs they produce for alternative markets," Bates says.

Both publications are available for purchase through the MSUE Bookstore at www.bookstore.msue.msu.edu.

Nevada Farmers Receive Gift From Gold Mines

Nevada Farmers Receive Gift From Gold Mines

Nevada farmers and ranchers recently received an unexpected gift from neighboring gold mines.  It isn't bullion, but precipitation data that many consider information as good as gold.

Precipitation data collected by the mining industry helps determine whether northern Nevada agricultural producers are in a drought, explains Clint Koble, Nevada Farm Service Agency state director.

The federal Drought Monitor information is a summary of weekly rainfall data that is used by various agencies as a benchmark for implementing mitigating actions to offset the effect of drought.  If the U.S. Department of Agriculture can determine the intensity of drought conditions, programs are available to help farmers and ranchers deal with losses.

Lack of information from rural areas did not support a drought determination this year because there was an average snowpack in the Ruby Mountains even though producers outside the Humboldt River watershed felt that they were in a drought.

Nevada mines have been collecting data about rainfall around their sites for a year that can be utilized in making drought determinations.  When apprised of this situation, Barrick Gold, Newmount Mining, Goldcorp and Jipangu Mining stepped up and contributed their previously unrecognized precipitation information to Desert Research Institute, which feeds data into the Drought Monitor.

"The Nevada FSA appreciates the contributions of all mining operations that assist farmers and ranchers in putting together a more comprehensive data base for determining drought in Nevada," says Koble.

Although mining has a very different use of resources than agriculture, that industry will make a real long-term difference to farmers and ranchers of northern Nevada, he believes.

Piketon Business Incubator Celebrates Anniversary

Piketon Business Incubator Celebrates Anniversary

A facility on the campus of Ohio State University South Centers at Piketon, designed to serve new and existing businesses throughout Appalachian Ohio and boost the region's economy through job training and development, celebrated its five-year anniversary on  Sept. 16.

The Endeavor Center Business Incubator and Training Facility provides new and growing businesses with access to inexpensive, professional office space; expert business counseling; advanced technology; and networking opportunities with other area businesses.

"The mission of the Endeavor Center is to enable rapid growth for its business occupants, thereby creating new high-skill, high-wage jobs and strengthening the local economic community," says Jerry Driggs, Endeavor Center manager. "The Endeavor Center has become recognized as a hub of business development throughout southern Ohio by virtue of its education, training, and assistance to small business owners."

To date, business partners in the Endeavor Center have created in excess of 220 new high-skill, high-wage jobs that have added $25 million to the local economy. Nine graduates have returned to the community to build or lease larger facilities for their businesses.

Innovative Solutions is one company that has greatly benefited from the services provided by the Endeavor Center. The company, which provides instrumentation, enrichment expertise and security services to the U.S. Department of Energy specifically related to the American Centrifuge Plant in Piketon, was one of the first companies to rent space at the facility in 2005.

"The Endeavor Center has been key to our success. They say in real estate that it's all about location, location, location. Well, the same can be applied in business," says Butch Stall, Innovative Solutions contracts manager. "Being located in the Endeavor Center has been invaluable for our growth and the staff here has been so accommodating. It's been a joy to be a part of the facility and this team."

In 2005, Innovative Solutions started out with 10 employees and now it employs over 130 workers. In its first year of business, the company generated less than $1 million in gross revenue and this year it is on track to reach $10 million in gross revenue.

The 27,000-square-foot Endeavor Center with its incubator, classroom and conference space has been the place for businesses to establish themselves in the community.

To learn more about the Endeavor Center log on to endeavor.osu.edu.

Wilson Named Livestock Person of the Year

Wilson Named Livestock Person of the Year

Paul Wilson of Shelbyville has been selected as the 2010 Northeast Missouri Livestock Person of the Year. He will be inducted into the Missouri Livestock Symposium's Hall of Fame at the 2010 Missouri Livestock Symposium, Dec. 3-4 in Kirksville.

Wilson has been an active livestock producer and advocate for the livestock industry. According to Bruce Lane, vice-chair of the Missouri Livestock Symposium committee, "Paul's dedication and service to the community, region and state represent exactly what the honor of Livestock Person of the Year is all about."

As an innovative and creative diversified livestock producer, Paul continues to be active in livestock production. He was born in Shelby County in 1937, attended a one-room school, and graduated from Shelbyville High School before attending and graduating from Northeast Missouri State University (now Truman State University). He taught school in Meadville, Shelbyville and Troy,

Paul Wilson, 2010 Northeast Missouri Livestock Person of the Year

Paul and his brother Jim presently own 1,100 acres and rent four additional farms. The beef cattle operation includes an automatic system and several silos that utilize high moisture corn and other commodities to finish more than head of cattle. The Wilson sons, Robert, Mike and Mark, were all involved with livestock production and FFA.

Wilson served as treasurer on the first board of directors of the Missouri Beef Industry Council. He has been involved with Farm Bureau for more than 30 years. He has worked on agricultural trade with Japan and on farm issues related to bankruptcy during the 1980s. A conservation-minded producer, he has hosted several statewide cattle tours and worked on clean water and pollution issues through his efforts with the Conservation Commission.

Wilson currently serves as Mayor of Shelbyville and is a member of the University of Missouri's Greenley Research Center advisory committee. 

Wilson will be honored at the Missouri Livestock Symposium Friday evening, Dec. 3. His hand painted oil portrait will be unveiled and he will be welcomed into the Northeast Missouri Livestock Producers Hall of Fame.

       

FYI

Additional information about the Missouri Livestock Symposium can be found at www.missourilivestock.com/ or call Bruce Lane (660-665-9866) or Garry Mathes (660-341-6625) or, email lanen@missouri.edu.

 

Source: MU Extension

What Could a Poster on an Electric Pole Hurt?

What Could a Poster on an Electric Pole Hurt?

Almost everyone can recall seeing a flyer of some sort stapled to a utility pole, even in rural areas. The greater problem might be finding someone who has not seen a flyer for some event either tacked or staples to a utility pole.

So what's the big deal? How in the world could a piece of paper hurt anyone? How could it be a safety risk?

"It's not the piece of paper that we're worried about," explains Wayne Newhart, representing Indiana Statewide REMC. He's retired from a long career working at the Tip-Mont REMC.

"No one thinks about it, but something as simple as a staple or a tack left behind that could tear even a tiny hole in a lineman's glove could be deadly," Newhart says. "It's those gloves that protect linemen from serious injury should they make an error and come into contract with a live wire at high voltage.

It's not something you would even think about yet it can cause catastrophic damage. And if it only happens once, that's once too often. Don't put flyers on utility poles!

"We also have trouble with electric lines that have grown into trees,' he notes. "We try to keep branches around lines cut out. But we still can have problems. Young children like to climb trees and see how high they can go. They like to show off to mom and dad."

Chuck Tieman, a former lineman who suffered a debilitating injury, joins Newhart at some of the electric safety presentations. "There was actually a case where a young girl climbed a tree with mom watching, and kept going higher and higher. She eventually grabbed a power line that was going through the tree, not thinking it would be hot.

"It took a long time to get the power shut off because of how events unfolded. It was a heartbreaking case. Tree-houses in trees with electric lines near the branches just aren't a good idea either."

Kids will be kids, he notes. Should that happen at your home, and someone in a tree contact a power line, call 911 immediately, he advises. Then call the utility yourself to have them turn off the power. Don't assume something will trip out or that someone else will call it in. Stay clam and make these two calls. It may be your loved one's only chance.

Bankers to Look Closer at Ending Values

Bankers to Look Closer at Ending Values

Keith Torgerson, a North Dakota Farm Business Management instructor at Wahpeton, N.D, says bankers he has visited with about 2011 credit prospects say they are going to be taking a closer look at ending vales of grain and livestock that are up-priced.

"The reason for this is many 2010 beginning balance sheets lost a lot of value due to price declines, low test weight and high discounts. The requirements for each person will be different, but if you are in a short current position, the bank may require you to have more of your 2010 crop priced by the end of the year. The crop can be priced for delivery later in the year, but they may want some form of proof on the bushels. Again, this is an issue to talk banker about before the end of the year," he says.

"If you want your loan request to go smoothly, provide your lender with all the information that they request," he advises.

EQIP and WHIP Deadlines Coming Up Nov. 15

EQIP and WHIP Deadlines Coming Up Nov. 15

Producers who want to participate in the popular Environmental Quality Incentives Program or Wildlife Habitat Incentives Program in the 2011 fiscal year need to get their applications in by Nov. 15.

"These two programs are very popular with producers in Kansas, and the NRCS wants to give producers time to get a conservation plan developed and get an application submitted in a timely manner," said Banks. 

"I know fall crops will need to be harvested and everyone will be busy.  Setting the cutoff date now, should allow producers to get a plan and sign an application.

"Stop by the NRCS office at your first opportunity and get the process started," said Banks.

Applications may be submitted anytime; however, applications submitted by the November 15th cutoff date will be evaluated for Fiscal Year 2011 funding.

Landowners and/or operators with eligible cropland, rangeland, or forestland with any EQIP/WHIP natural resource concerns should apply at their local NRCS field office and work with them on a conservation plan.  The office is located at your local U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Service Center (listed in the telephone book under United States Government or on the Internet at offices.usda.gov).

"EQIP and WHIP are available to help address the unique circumstances and concerns of socially disadvantaged, limited resource, and beginning farmers and ranchers, who have natural resource concerns that need to be addressed on their land," said Banks.

Producers in Kansas who qualify as socially disadvantaged, limited resource, and beginning farmers and ranchers will be ranked in a separate ranking pool.

EQIP is available for treating natural resource concerns on organic systems.  Organic producers, or those transitioning to organic, may apply for the EQIP to address their natural resource concerns during this period.

As information becomes available, it will be placed on the Kansas NRCS Web site www.ks.nrcs.usda.gov/programs/eqip/ and www.ks.nrcs.usda.gov/programs/whip or be available at your local USDA Service Center from the NRCS or conservation district staff.  USDA is an equal opportunity provider and employer.

Ethanol Blender Pumps Installed in Shelby

Ethanol Blender Pumps Installed in Shelby

Growth Energy, a coalition of U.S. ethanol supporters, has partnered with the United Farmers Cooperative to install two blender pumps in Shelby.

The new blender pumps are located at 600 East Hwy 92, and have been installed with assistance from Growth Energy's 2010 E85 and Blender Pump Program.

"Every blender pump we install gives consumers a choice at the pump that includes domestic, renewable ethanol," says Tom Buis, Growth Energy CEO. "Growth Energy is pleased to have been able to assist in the United Farmers Cooperative in their efforts and we remain committed to assist with the addition of more blender pumps across the nation."
 
"UFC's decision to install blender pumps vs. upgrading with traditional pumps and adding E85 is all about giving our customer the ability to support the ethanol programs and still have the flexibility to chose based on his or her blended preference," says Dick Munn, United Farmers Cooperative vice president of energy.
 
United Farmers Cooperative has become part of Growth Energy's 2010 E85 and Blender Pump Program, offering funds to retailers for the alternative fuel infrastructure.

To date, Growth Energy has issued grants to support a total of 93 ethanol fueling sites across the country. To find a listing of all E85 sites throughout Nebraska and across the nation, go to www.E85Refueling.com.