Labor bill changes could affect youth programs

Proposed modifications to the federal labor regulations regarding youth employment could mean significant changes to the type of work young people can do on the farm.  There has also been concern about how those changes may affect how 4-H and FFA members complete their projects.  Indiana Representative Marlin Stutzman says they are checking into that possibility and says it would be a great disservice if young people lose those experiences.  He says as young people want to learn and develop skills they should have the opportunity to do so.

Stutzman tells Brownfield there is a need for young people to develop those life skills and early opportunities offered through 4-H and FFA.  He says he is hopeful that is the road of thinking that is followed rather than one that would limit young people in the opportunities they may have.

The comment period on the proposed legislation ends November 1st.

Indiana pork farmers reach milestone

Recognizing the need for high quality protein in area food banks, Indiana pork farmers launched the One Million Meals program through a partnership with Feeding Indiana’s Hungry in the summer of 2009.  Sarah Ford, Director of Public and Industry Relations at Indiana Pork says they are excited to reach this milestone.  Ford says the idea was to donate one million ground pork meals through FIsH and in two short years Indiana pork producers with the help of industry partners and the public were able to meet that goal.

Ford tells Brownfield two years ago pork farmers were struggling, the economy was struggling and people were going hungry.  She says Indiana’s pork farmers came together and thought they needed to do something.  Ford says they decided to form their partnership with FIsH.  She says FIsH has eleven member food banks and those food banks will then take the food and distribute it to local food pantries and churches. 

The 1,000,000 meals equates to roughly 250,000 pounds of pork.  Ford says now that they’ve reached 1 million meals, they are working on the next million. 


Weather woes continue to delay IN harvest

Indiana farmers made limited progress last week as cool, wet weather set in and kept harvest to a minimum.  Both corn and soybean harvest have caught up slightly but are still days behind last year’s pace.

Ninety-four percent of the corn crop has matured compared to 100 percent last year.  Just 42 percent of corn harvest is complete, compared to 95 percent at this time a year ago.  The moisture content of the harvested corn is averaging around 20 percent and 36 percent of the corn crop is listed in good to excellent condition.

Only 68 percent of the soybean acreage has been harvested compared to 95 percent last year.  The average moisture content of the harvested soybean crop has increased to 12 percent.

Seventy-three percent of the winter wheat acreage has been planted compared to 85 percent a year ago and 34 percent of the crop has emerged compared to 36 percent last year at this time.  Fifty-seven percent of the winter wheat is listed in good to excellent condition compared to 23 percent in 2010.

Pasture condition is rated 27 percent good to excellent compared to just 4 percent at this time a year ago.

American Royal shows draw nationally

The American Royal expected up to a couple thousand head of cattle, hogs, sheep and goats for livestock shows in Kansas City that began late this past week.

“And of course, that’s our heritage,” said Bob Petersen, CEO of the American Royal. “We were founded in 1899 as a livestock show here in the Stockyards District of Kansas City, so we’re carrying on that tradition today and right in the middle of it.”

Petersen was helping to serve a meal and was interacting with arriving American Royal livestock exhibitors last week.

“[The person who had traveled the greatest distance] that I met was from Kentucky, I also met several from North Dakota, several from Montana,” said Petersen, recalling some of the conversations he heard while serving the meal. “This is, we like to think, one of three of four premier livestock shows in the nation, so we do have a national draw.”

The American Royal begins with horse shows and draws tens of thousands for the barbeque competition. There’s a parade and a prestigious rodeo that are in addition to the livestock shows.

Since it began in 1899, the American Royal has become a cultural fixture for about three months each fall in Kansas City. Petersen says about $1.7 million dollars annually is donated from American Royal proceeds to youth, scholarships and education.

AUDIO: Bob Petersen (6 min. MP3)

New extension system debuts in South Dakota

The extension agents that for nearly a century were relied upon for answers to agricultural and homemaking questions are now a piece of South Dakota history. The extension offices that were an integral part of almost every county seat in the state are this week replaced by eight regional centers.

South Dakota State University Extension Director Barry Dunn says a lack of funding forced the downsizing of offices and personnel, but advancing technology led the extension service to change its method of outreach.

“Maybe it should have been done several years ago,” said Dunn, referring to advances in technology that have made it possible to get information to farmers and ranchers who are equipped to receive it. “We have ranchers and farmers using handheld technologies, getting market information, market analysis on commodities, etc. and we haven’t kept pace with that and I don’t think very many extension services have.”

Although eight communities in the state are hosting the regional centers, Dunn says there’s been push-back from many towns that now have a vacant extension office to add to other vacancies resulting from businesses that have located elsewhere.

“This is about all that’s left and it’s tough for them to give up something else, so I certainly understand that and appreciate it, but that criticism then, I think, has kind of eroded confidence,” he said. “I think there’s some feelings that maybe budget cuts will continue, but we don’t think they will.”

Partly because of the low confidence, but also because there’s high demand for agronomists, the regional extension centers have opened with only two-thirds of the workforce in place. Dunn says the extension service will continue searching for qualified specialists to fill open positions.

AUDIO: Barry Dunn (7 min. MP3)

HSUS goes after ‘puppy mills’ at federal level

The Humane Society of the United States says it is trying to get President Obama to close a loophole they say is causing the “puppy mill” problems in the nation. HSUS says more than 20-thousand signatures have been submitted to the White House “We the People” online petition campaign, more than enough to get the president’s attention.

Melanie Kahn is Senior Director of Puppy Mill Campaigns for the HSUS says breeders who sell dogs on the internet and on the side of the road should not be exempt from federal regulation. “Specifically,” Kahn tells Brownfield, “What we’re saying is, anyone who sells dogs to the public – 50 or more dogs a year – should be required to have a federal license and be inspected.”

Kahn says many states don’t regulate dog breeders who sell to the public so the HSUS is taking it to the federal level. “We come at this issue that faces our country from all different levels and this is just one more way that we are trying to combat this problem,” Kahn says.

Missouri Farmers Care spokesman Don Nikodim, head of the Missouri Pork Producers, says HSUS is out to stop animal agriculture and will use as many means as they can, including this federal petition and the recent ag council set up between the Nebraska Farmers Union and the HSUS…

“You know, there’s no end to the resources seems like HSUS has and for them to be able to bring these groups in under the same tent and work with them when they want to put them out of business is just unbelievable.”

Karen Strange, with the Missouri Federation of Animal Owners, tells Brownfield the HSUS federal petition “is definitely an invasion into the homes and private lives of many animal owners, all in the guise of cracking down on the bad guys.” Earlier this year, Missouri ag and dog breeding groups worked with lawmakers to remove broad language and the 50-dog limit and other restrictions from the voter approved, HSUS-backed “puppy mill” ballot initiative in Missouri.

AUDIO: Melanie Kahn (4:00 mp3)

AUDIO: Don Nikodim (5:00 mp3)

Bollinger named Star in Agriscience

As a freshman in high school, Keith Bollinger, from Buffalo City, Wis., enrolled in a natural resources class. It was a prudent decision, as Bollinger today is a wildlife ecology major at the University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point. He also volunteers and is employed with two government services helping to restore Wisconsin prairies and control invasive plants.

For his efforts, the National FFA Organization has named the 21-year-old Bollinger, the 2011 American Star in Agriscience.

Audio: Keith Bollinger, WI, Star in AgriScience (4:20 MP3)

Illinois hog unit gets ribbon cutting

Plenty of hog houses go into service with very little fanfare, but two units near Utica, Illinois get a ceremonial grand opening this week.

“Our ribbon cutting is kind of our opportunity to have the community out and actually see the building prior to the hogs going in and our chance to kick off our new adventure here,” said Kate Hagenbuch, who with her husband John, has completed two buildings that will each house 2,400 hogs.

For a decade, the couple has built up their current herd of 75 sows that they farrow.

“Right now we’re finishing out probably roughly 1,500 head a year; this obviously is going to significantly increase that number, but still keep it at a size that’s manageable with a family farm still,” said Hagenbuch. “As we speak, we’re still going to be keeping it just with John and I.”

For a few years, the Illinois Pork Producers Association has assisted producers who choose to open new facilities to the public.

“We look at it as a way to celebrate and congratulate the producers and their families for getting to that point and making that investment as well as looking at it as an educational opportunity to bring folks in and show them the things that we’re doing to raise pork for them and their families,” said Tim Maiers, director of public relations for the Illinois Pork Producers.

The Hagenbuch’s ribbon cutting and open house is Tuesday, October 25, at 4:30 p.m., near Utica, Illinois.

AUDIO: Kate Hagenbuch (12 min. MP3)

Outside markets support corn and soybeans

Soybeans were higher on fund and technical buying, along with spillover from the outside markets. The dollar was lower, while the Dow, gold, and crude oil were higher, and the cash basis remains firm thanks to slow farmer selling. USDA reports 80% of soybeans are harvested, compared to 91% last year and 71% on average. Soybean meal and oil were higher on that supportive tone in the broader market and spillover from beans. According to China’s Ministry of Commerce, soybean imports for September were 4.127 million tons, down 11% from September 2010, with the U.S. share up 2.3% on the month at 285,963 tons. For the year to date, Chinese soybean imports are 37.705 million tons, down 6% on the year, with 15.748 million tons of the total U.S. soybeans. So far this year, Brazil is Beijing’s leading supplier at 16.457 million tons.

Corn was higher on technical and fund buying, in addition to spillover from beans and the outside markets. Still, contracts closed below the day’s highs and it looks like commercial support is drying up. According to USDA, 97% of corn is mature, compared to 100% last year and 97% on average and 65% is harvested, compared to 81% last year and 51% on average, with 54% of the crop rated good to excellent, up 1% on the week. Ethanol was mixed with nearby contracts higher. The U.N.’s Food and Agriculture Organization expects Saudi Arabia to purchase 2.2 million tons of corn during the 2011/12 marketing year. China’s Ministry of Commerce states corn imports for September were 181,094 tons, with all but one ton U.S. origin, with year to date purchases at 633,893 tons, down more than 48% from January through September 2010.

The wheat complex was mostly higher. Chicago and Kansas were up on short covering, fund buying, and spillover from the outsides. Minneapolis was mostly lower on profit taking and a lack of new demand news. USDA states 82% of the winter crop has been planted, compared to 87% last year and 84% on average with 56% emerged, compared to both 63% last year and on average, and in the first rating of the season, 47% of the crop is called good to excellent, same as first rating this time a year ago. European wheat was up following a good weekend debt talk meeting between E.U. leaders. According to Russia’s Ag Ministry, 95.3% of grains have been harvested with the running total at 94.6 million tons, Ukraine’s Ministry reports their harvest is at 90% with 47.3 million tons collected, and Kazakhstan’s Ag Ministry says 99.5% of this year’s harvest is complete with the total at 28.8 million tons. The U.N.’s FAO wing projects Saudi Arabia’s 2011/12 wheat crop at 1.1 million tons, down 13% on the year as Riyadh phases out water intensive crops with imports seen at 2 million tons. Rabobank Australia, via Dow Jones Newswires, sees that nation’s wheat crop at 25.7 million tons, noting an ample supply of new crop and lower than expected protein content in some of this year’s early harvested grain. Also according to Dow Jones, Egypt’s General Authority for Supply Commodities is set to resume imports of wheat from Ukraine.

Farmer assesses land and roads, post flood

After months of Missouri River flood waters over his farm and home, Northwest Missouri farmer Richard Oswald is back on his land.

Oswald tells Brownfield he’s focused on getting his fields ready for planting next spring. “We have to,” says Oswald, “You know, that’s something we absolutely must do is get that land planted in order to be able to at least have crop insurance coverage. Otherwise, prevented planting is about the best we’re going to get out of that.” Although, Oswald tells Brownfield the DeBruce Grain Elevator is still not accessible from the Nebraska side of the river.

The levees are not repaired yet either and Oswald says that’s a big concern for next year. He says the soil appears to be in better shape than anticipated, though, “I guess if you’d say there’s a blessing, why, maybe that’s what that is. But, the flood lasted long enough that most of the debris just kept on going south. I don’t know who got it or where it is but we don’t have as much of that as we had in ’93.”

While his farm in Langdon, Missouri has nothing to harvest, there’s some activity going on in areas further away. “For the most part, things are starting to get back to normal. Debruce Grain has a large elevator that they just put into operation this spring. They’ve reopened and they’re taking corn,” says Oswald.

Meanwhile, road repair is a huge priority. Oswald is on the board of the Langdon Special Road District and says the damage to roads is “terrible”… He says FEMA has been in the area working with them on those road issues as well as homeowner issues.

“FEMA’s going to buy the homes that are damaged 50% or more and they may even buy the land that those homes sit on, so, I thought that was interesting.” Oswald says the Missouri River carved out huge gorges along its path, creating unintended farm ponds in many areas.

AUDIO: Richard Oswald (5:00 mp3)