Meet the four 2011 World Dairy honorees

World Dairy Expo Dairy Woman of the Year is Donna Myers of New Windsor, Maryland. She, her husband and daughter have a 55-cow registered Red & White herd and have sold genetics on four continents. They can trace most of their cattle back to a single Red & White calf she bought when she was young; three of their offspring are at the show this year. Myers is active in the local county fair, the Maryland State Fair and the state and national Holstein Associations.

AUDIO:Myers talks about her Maryland dairy farm

The International Dairy Person of the Year is Anne Perchard from the Island of Jersey. She and her family have the Ansom Jersey Herd on the Isle where the breed originated. For 200 years, the herd on the island was a closed herd in an effort to protect the integrity of the breed. However, cattle were constantly being sold off the island to the point they are down to just 3,500 cows in 20 herds on the island. The closed herd also meant improvements made to the breed in the United States and other countries were not allowed on the island up until three years ago when purebred semen from overseas was allowed in. Perchard says those two-year-old heifers are showing incredible improvements to the herd.

AUDIO:Perchard talks about dairying on the Isle of Jersey

The World Dairy Expo Dairyman of the Year is actually a family, brothers Alan, Jim, David and Jim’s son, John Koepke of Oconomowoc, Wisconsin. The 320-cow herd has an RHA of 31,563 milk, 1168 fat and 942 protein. John says having multiple family members involved in the farm allows for them to be involved in other things such as the State Ag Board, Professional Dairy Producers of Wisconsin as well as community groups. The farm is also venturing into making and marketing their own cheese.

AUDIO: The Kioepkes tell about their Wisconsin dairy farm

The World Dairy Expo Industry Person of the Year is Dr. H. Duane Normal with the USDA Animal Improvement Programs Laboratory. Dr. Norman has been a Research Leader at the lab developing methods for better evaluation of genetics in dairy cattle. Today’s evaluation goes beyond milk, fat and protein to assess economic indices, reproductive trains, dry period length and others.

AUDIO: Dr. Norman talks about his research

Consumers want to know their farmers

Matt Joyce is vice president for producer communications for the Wisconsin Milk Marketing Board; he says they are exploring ways for producers to better communicate with consumers. “How can we show consumers how we take care of our animals and take care of our land?” He says one key way is for producers to be actively involved in their community and invite people out to visit the farm.

AUDIO:Joyce talks about marketing and image

Lugar and Stutzman propose $40 billion in USDA cuts

With a $14.7 trillion national debt, there has been a lot of discussions on how and where to make budget cuts to meet federal deficit reduction goals.  Senator Richard Lugar (R-IN) and Congressman Marlin Stutzman (R, IN-3rd) introduced the Rural Economic Farm and Ranch Sustainability and Hunger (REFRESH) Act on Wednesday.   Congressman Stutzman says REFRESH is the first comprehensive farm bill discussed in Washington and would cut $40 billion over ten years.  He says hopefully it’s a start in truly reforming the ag system and making the Farm Bill about agriculture and not just a spending bill in Washington.

Roughly two-thirds of the savings would come from farm and conservation programs and a third from nutrition programs (which represents 75% of the USDA budget).  He says one area of emphasis is the nutrition programs.   Stutzman tells Brownfield their goal is to close loopholes and end a program that should be run in other places and not necessarily under the USDA arm.  Stutzman says USDA should be focused on agriculture and not a welfare program.

Stutzman notes it is worth the discussion of eliminating direct payments.  He says having a safety net in place gives farmers security knowing if they go out,  invest, work hard and do all that it takes to grow a crop and try to make a profit. If that doesn’t happen, there is a safety net in place to protect them.  He emphasized the importance for growers to know they are working within a free market system where supply and demand is driving the cost of both commodities and inputs. 

The Lugar-Stutzman bill would establish an aggregate risk and revenue management program that would protect between 90 and 75 percent of expected crop revenue.  The bill would also allow farmers to purchase supplemental revenue insurance underwritten by USDA’s Risk Management Agency.

Some of the key points of the REFRESH Act:

  • Reforming farm programs would cut $16 billion (24.5% reduction)
  • Update and streamline conservation programs to cut $11.3 billion (17.6% reduction)
  • Reduce CRP acres from 29 million to 24 million.
  • Close nutrition program loopholes would save $13.9 billion (only a 2% reduction)
  • REFRESH replaces dairy price support and milk income loss contract programs with a voluntary margin program that covers 80 percent of the producers’ production history when margins fall below $4 per hundred weight.
  • Mandatory repeal of the federal sugar program

AUDIO: Congressman Marlin Stutzman, REFRESH Act (11:26mp3)


Yields surprising in western Illinois

Even though it’s very dry in western Illinois, Phil Bradshaw’s corn and soybean yields are better than he would have guessed.

“We are down from last year; we’re down considerably from two years ago, but our yields on our corn look like they’re going to be someplace in the 150-160 [bushel per acre] range, soybeans are 45-50 bushels to the acre,” Bradshaw told Brownfield Wednesday, “and that’s down from 55-60 bushels on soybeans and down about 20 bushels on corn.”

Bradshaw says months without precipitation tested his hybrids. On the other hand, so far, it’s resulted in an uninterrupted harvest.

“We have not had basically a measurable rain since the first of July,” said Bradshaw. “I don’t believe we’ve had over three-tenths of an inch of rain any one time since the first of July; we’ve had no rain, we’ve combined corn or beans every day since the last week of August, never missed a day.”

Bradshaw also says he’s avoided using a grain dryer this season.

AUDIO: Phil Bradshaw (2 min. MP3)

Michigan company recalling soy flour & meal

A Michigan company is recalling more than 800-thousand pounds of soybean flour and bulk soybean meal that may be contaminated with Salmonella.

The FDA says Thumb Oilseed Producer’s Cooperative of Ubly, Michigan distributed the soy products to a limited number of whole sale customers in six states (Illinois, Wisconsin, Vermont, Minnesota, Pennsylvania and New Hampshire) and, in Canada.

No illnesses have been reported but routine sampling by the company and the FDA found bacteria in the finished product. The shipments were from November 2010 through September 2011.

FDA Recall

Canal expansion strengthens one transportation link

The Panama Canal expansion strengthens one link in a long chain of shipping infrastructure between the U.S. Corn Belt and Asia. Soy Transportation Coalition Executive Director Mike Steenhoek says a study recommended by the coalition shows the expansion will result in a greater volume of exports coming from a wider area at a lower cost.

“We applaud the fact that the Panama Canal Authority is investing a lot of money – $5.2 billion – to enhance their canal,” Steenhoek told Brownfield Wednesday, prior to a presentation he made to the Tri-State Development Summit in Quincy, Illinois. “Our concern is are we just simply shifting the bottleneck from where it currently exists in Panama to our ports, to our inland waterways, to our rail infrastructure, to our roads?”

The canal expansion, allowing bigger vessels, has several implications for U.S. agriculture, according to Rodolfo Sabonge, vice-president of market research and analysis of Panama Canal Authority.

“Larger ships will, of course, represent lower costs, but that can only be done if you have the infrastructure adequate to be able to handle the larger ships at the ports, and of course up the river with the barging system and so on,” said Sabonge, also a presenter at the Summit Wednesday in Quincy.

The expansion is to accommodate vessels up to 150,000 tons, versus the 80,0000-ton so-called Panamax ships that currently squeak through the aging artery with about a foot of clearance on either side. However the larger ships will require that U.S. ports in southern Louisiana be maintained to a depth of 45 feet.

Release of the study comes on the heels of Congress getting free trade agreements with Panama as well as with Korea and Colombia.

AUDIO: Rodolfo Sabonge (5 min. MP3)
AUDIO: Mike Steenhoek (7 min. MP3)

Narrowly mixed finishes for corn, soybeans

Soybeans were narrowly mixed on profit taking, fund selling and consolidation. Contracts tried to make solid gains, but the bearish fundamentals and harvest pressure kept buying interest in check. Export sales were larger than expected while shipments were less than half of what’s needed weekly to meet USDA projections for the marketing year. China bought 115,000 tons of U.S. soybeans ahead of the open and Dow Jones Newswires adds Taiwan bought 12,000 tons of U.S. soybeans from Cargill at $516.16 per ton. Soybean meal was down on profit taking and the adjustment of product spreads while oil was up on that activity and the strength in crude oil.

Corn was narrowly mixed on profit taking and consolidation, along with fund and technical selling. Like beans, harvest pressure was a factor and traders are wary about pricing corn above demand. Weekly export sales were strong and shipments were just slightly less than what’s needed to hit USDA estimates. Ethanol futures were mostly higher. According to Dow Jones Newswires, Taiwan’s Sugar Corp. bought 23,000 tons of U.S. corn from Cargill at $331.77 per ton.

The wheat complex was mixed, mostly lower, after its recent gains. Chicago and Kansas City were down on profit taking and forecasts for better planting weather but nearby Minneapolis did see support from good demand for high protein wheat. Weekly export sales were in the middle of expectations and shipments were more than what’s needed weekly to meet USDA projections. European wheat was higher thanks to fund buying and the recent more stable tone in the broader market. Coceral pegs 2011/12 European Union soft wheat production at 128.39 million tons out of a total grain crop of 279.03 million tons, with the United Kingdom’s Department for Environment, Food, and Rural Affairs anticipating a 2011/12 U.K. wheat crop of 15.4 million tons. Japan bought 79,700 tons of U.S. wheat.

Nebraska Corn Board exec reflects on China trip

China is harvesting a record-large corn crop this year.  But participants in a recent U.S. Grains Council mission to that country say China will still need to import corn to meet its growing demand for protein.  

The council pegs China’s corn crop at six-point-six billion bushels, up nearly six percent from last year.  Tour participant Don Hutchens, executive director of the Nebraska Corn Board, says the crop he witnessed in China was far more impressive than he expected to see. 

“Their average yield is projected to be around 85 bushels to the acre,” Hutchens says, “and while that may not sound great to U.S. corn farmers, as far as being very competitive, when you look at the fact that they’re not using the same kind of biotechnology that we have—they’re not using a lot of the crop practices that we use—it overall looks like a pretty good crop.” 

But while the Chinese are making progress on their corn yields, Hutchens says 80 percent of their crop is still harvested by hand and transported via small carts and wagons.  

Despite the record crop, the Grains Council estimates that China will import between five million and ten million metric tons of corn—equaling about 200 to 400 million bushels—by the end of 2012.  Hutchens says it’s hard to say how much of that will come from the U.S. 

“There’s probably going to be an opportunity for—whether it’s going to be Brazil, Argentina or other countries, and/or the U.S.—to export some corn,” he says. “I anticipate China’s going to be importing corn—where it comes from, you never know—but I think there’s going to be an opportunity for some U.S. corn exports to China.” 

China’s rapid economic growth has produced the world’s fastest growing middle class, and demand for meat and dairy products is soaring.  Hutchens says there’s no doubt that, over time, China’s need for corn will grow. 

“(We saw) more skyscrapers going up and it’s the number one market for Lamborghinis.  There’s some obvious wealth occurring in China—and that should translate into better diets and increased demand for protein,” says Hutchens. 

Hutchens says the Chinese also like the feed value of distillers grains and will be using more of that product as well.

AUDIO: Don Hutchens (9:58 MP3)

New Missouri Corn officers in place

Billy Thiel of Marshall is the new president of the Missouri Corn Growers Association. He represents growers in District 5, in central Missouri and is previous chairman of the Missouri Corn Merchandising Council. Thiel says he wants to grow the association so farmers have a stronger voice.

Rob Korff – a grower in Norborne – is the new chairman of the Missouri Corn Merchandising Council.

Several Missouri corn grower leaders have been appointed to serve on NCGA action teams and committees.

Fire danger running high in Iowa, Nebraska fields

This fall’s warm, dry and windy weather is creating some dangerous fire conditions in Iowa and Nebraska corn fields.

One rural firefighter and farmer in northern Iowa told that his area had a total of six combine/field fires on Wednesday—and with winds from 30 to 45 miles per hour and gusting to 60, the fire reached up to two miles wide.

A wildfire in central Nebraska this week swept though nearly 26,000 acres of pasture and farmland, causing millions of dollars in crop losses.  Local officials say center pivot irrigation systems were also damaged and as many as four homes were destroyed or affected.

University of Nebraska farm safety specialist Dave Morgan reminds farmers to keep their equipment clean; to fix any fuel, hydraulic or oil leaks; and to carry at least one, and preferably two, fully charged ten pound ABC fire extinguishers.