FFA American Star Finalists named

2013 Star Finalists National FFA photo

2013 Star Finalists
National FFA photo

The National FFA Organization has named the finalists for each of the American Stars:

American Star Farmer

  • Alan Barka, Litchfield FFA Chapter (Minnesota) – Barka owns a dairy cattle operation, in which he manages and sells the milk produced.
  • Josh Stutrud, Rugby FFA Chapter (North Dakota) – Stutrud manages his own diversified agricultural livestock and grain operation of beef cattle, alfalfa and corn.
  • Zach Weichel, Cordell FFA Chapter (Oklahoma) – Weichel operates his beef and grain production, where he markets and sells his feeder cattle and wheat crop.
  • Thomas Michael Allen, Reedsburg FFA Chapter (Wisconsin) – Allen breeds, raises, and markets dairy cattle and then sells his livestock at shows and sales.

American Star in Agribusiness

  • Jared A. Eilertson, United South Central FFA Chapter (Minnesota) – Eilertson operates his own custom hay bailing, ditch-hay sales and agricultural commodities trucking enterprises.
  • Dustin Stanton, Centralia FFA Chapter (Missouri) – Stanton owns Stanton Brothers, a poultry operation that supplies fresh eggs to community members, local businesses and farmers markets.
  • Ethan VanderWal, Sioux Valley FFA Chapter (South Dakota) – VanderWal started a custom round hay bailing and rolling business, where he provides services to customers in his community.
  • Thomas Larson, Viroqua FFA Chapter (Wisconsin) – Larson created a business for repairing machinery and re-selling fixed items, including chainsaws, weed eaters, lawnmowers and more.

American Star in Agricultural Placement

  • Travis A. Poppe, Crofton FFA Chapter (Nebraska) – Poppe works for his family’s farm, Poppe Farms, where he manages swine and cattle and operates the diversified crop production of corn and soybeans.
  • Garrett Sharp, Waukomis FFA Chapter (Oklahoma) – Sharp operates and services equipment, moving and preparing land  and implements conservation practices while being employeed at his uncle’s farm.
  • Matt Eichacker, McCook Central FFA Chapter (South Dakota) – Eichacker operates corn and soybean productions, manages beef cattle and applies fertilizers and chemicals for two farms and a cooperative.
  • Jessica Woodworth, Mineral County FFA Chapter (West Virginia) – Woodworth works for her family’s farm and store. While there, she assists in the beef cattle, swine and produce operations and sells retail meat cuts, fruits, vegetables and other products.

American Star in Agriscience

  • Patrik Arkfeld, Syracuse-Dunbar-Avoca FFA Chapter (Nebraska) – Arkfeld conducts swine research in meat quality, genetics, waste management and more.
  • Sarah Cox, Zane Trace FFA Chapter (Ohio) – Cox studies animal and food sciences through research projects including zooenotic diseases, plant diseases and microorganisms.
  • Katie Osborn, Greenwood FFA Chapter (Pennsylvania) – Osborn has performed four studies in dairy cattle mastitis, an infection in the udders.
  • Witney L. Bowman, Stonewall Jackson FFA Chapter (Virginia) – Bowman studies the effects of feeding calves additional milk replacer and injecting rooting hormones in Juniper trees.

Each star finalist receives $2,000 from the National FFA Foundation.

A panel of judges will interview finalists and select one winner for each award.  The winners will be announced on November 1st during the Stars Over America Pageant at the 87th National FFA Convention in Louisville, Kentucky.

The four winners will receive an additional $2,000.


Property taxes are big topic in Nebraska

Property taxes being paid on farm and ranch land in Nebraska continue to skyrocket.  Laura Field, director of legislative affairs for Nebraska Cattlemen, says those taxes increased an average of 29 percent statewide over the past year.

Field says her group will resume its push for property tax relief in the 2015 legislative session. That task will be made more interesting with the election of a new governor and as many as 17 new state legislators this fall.

“We’ll have a new governor for the first time in ten years here in Nebraska.  Both candidates who are running for governor have made statements about property tax relief, so I think it’s something that’s on the forefront of their agendas,” Field says, “and we’ll have 17 new senators—at a minimum—and I fully expect that we’ll see some ideas come forward with those folks when they get down to the legislature.”

A move to lower the value of ag land for taxation purposes, from the current rate of 75 percent of market value to 65 percent of market, value failed to gain much traction in the last legislative session.  Field says that plan could resurface in 2015, but she expects some new proposals as well.

“I think we’ll see some discussion around should there be some caps on ag land valuations, how much can they increase every year, should they only be allowed to increase a certain amount,” she says, “and I think that we’ll see some more discussion on money that’s put into the property tax credit cash fund.  There was some additional money added this year and I think that’s a really popular idea that will come back up as well.”

Field made those comments in an interview with Brownfield at a Nebraska Cattlemen “Road Trip” meeting in Wahoo.

AUDIO: Laura Field (4:03 MP3)

Learning more about Indiana Beef

Rick Davis of Thorntown, Ind. is the president of the Indiana Beef Cattle Association.  During a recent conversation with Brownfield, Davis outlined some of the activities the association does on behalf of its members.

On the consumer side, he says some of what they do is education through promotional efforts in different parts of the state.  On the member side – they work to keep producers educated about the issues that could affect their operations.

To learn more about the Indiana Beef Cattle Association visit www.indianabeef.org.

AUDIO: Rick Davis, President – Indiana Beef Cattle Association (6:30mp3)


Beck’s Hybrids launches FARMserver

Precision agriculture technologies provide farmers with useful data sets to make decisions on their farming operations.  As that information is collected, farmers also want complete control of the information.  Today, Beck’s Hybrids launched FARMserver.

Craig Rogers, FARMserver technical lead says it’s a secure place for customers to store and view their on-farm data.  “We have some added features of our Crop Health Imagery,” he says.  “We have some weather information and the ability to view multiple fields at one time instead of just viewing one field at a time.”

Rogers tells Brownfield FARMserver also allows farmers to select who has access to the information.  “We want the customer to have complete control over who uses it,” he says.  “The customer can choose to invite – let’s say ‘Craig Roberts at Beck’s Hybrids’ to look at his field and help make decisions and then he can cut me off of those privileges.”

FARMserver provides farmers access to their information from any web connected device, at any time.  In addition to the website – FARMserver also has a mobile app allowing farmers to record information from the field.

More information is available at www.FARMserver.com

AUDIO: Craig Roberts, Beck’s Hybrids (5:30mp3)

Nominations sought for Hovde Award

Nominations are now being accepted for this year’s Frederick L. Hovde Award of Excellence.  The award is given annually to a member of Purdue University’s faculty or staff who has displayed outstanding education service to rural Indiana.  Contributions may have been in the classroom, in counseling, in research, or through Purdue Extension.

Any active member of the faculty or staff is eligible.

The nomination deadline is September 22nd.  A link to forms and guidelines can be found HERE.

Farm Bill provides risk management options

Joe Shultz, Chief Economist, Senate Agriculture Commitee (1)_webOver 200 farmers attended a Farm Bill Implementation Forum at Bowling Green State University on Friday, July 25.


Sponsored by Ohio Farmers Union the Forum was designed to provide insight into what the new Farm Bill provides and while complex, Joe Shultz, Chief Economist for the Senate Agriculture Committee says it also provides farmers with options.


“It does look a lot different than the previous Farm Bills, but I think that reflects the diversity of agriculture and really the strength of American agriculture,” said Shultz. “It will be a good bill and it offer some real options to producers.”


Shultz also says farmers will have plenty of time to study the options before signing up, sometime next year.


“We’ve also provided more tools for farmers to get educated, the Farm Bill provides some money for outreach and education meetings, we’re also providing some online decision making tools so producers can enter their data, their farm history online and get some good information about which decision makes the most sense for their operation,” Shultz said.

Audio: Joe Shultz, Chief Economist, Senate Agriculture Committee (4:25 mp3)


Brownfield’s Dave Russell also talked with Ohio Farmers Union President Joe Logan following the Forum at BGSU.

Audio: Joe Logan, President, Ohio Farmers Union (2:40 mp3)

Potterton to head U.W. Short Course

U.W. Madison photo

U.W. Madison photo

Jessie Potterton has been named director of the U.W. Madison Farm and Industry Short Course.  She has held the position on an interim basis for the past 12 months and will formally begin her new duties on October 1st.

Potterton was CALS director of prospective student services from 2011 until becoming the interim short course director.  Prior to that she spent five years as U.W. Extension 4-H Youth Development Educator in Lafayette County.

Koster lends support to Missouri’s Amendment 1

Missouri Attorney General Chris Koster is lending his support to the Amendment One ballot initiative to be voted on next month.  Koster tells Brownfield the so-called Farming Rights Amendment is necessary.

“We have seen from the eminent domain threats of 2005, to the Proposition B restrictions on the size of dog breeders, to the California egg case, situations where pressure is being put on agriculture from within and from outside the state that could impact our economic future,” Koster told Brownfield Ag News, while traveling between stops where he was discussing the issue.

Koster uses as an example the ballot measure a few years ago to limit the number of dogs allowed to breeders.  He says it’s conceivable that similar limitations would be attempted for livestock producers.

“We have seen actual threats against agriculture over the last ten years that have cause the industry to stand up for itself and to ask for the protection of the Missouri Constitution in Amendment 1,” said Koster.

Koster made stops in several parts of Missouri supporting passage of the amendment.

Supporters of Amendment 1 are meeting resistance from the group Missouri’s Food for America, which recently got help from the Humane Society of the United States in the form of a $375,000 contribution.

Don Nikodim, the chairman of Missouri Farmers Care, which favors the ballot measure, Amendment 1, says the contribution proves that Missouri is a target for activist groups opposing animal agriculture.

Blake Hurst, president of the Missouri Farm Bureau, which is also pushing for passage of Amendment 1, says that opposition is being financed by a major out-of-state extremist organization.  On the other hand, he says funds to support passage of the amendment, also into the hundreds of thousands of dollars, have been financed by family farmers and ranchers across Missouri.

Meanwhile, members of Missouri’s Food for America maintain that food safety and the ability to regulate GMO foods would be harmed by the amendment.  They also say that sustainable farming practices would be threatened and that animal abuses on farms would go unchecked.

Amendment 1 is on the August 5 ballot.

Iowa farmers snap up nutrient reduction funds

It took less than a week for Iowa farmers to snap up 1.4 million dollars in cost share funds to help install new nutrient reduction practices on their farms.

The Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship received applications covering near 60-thousand acres from 597 different farmers seeking to participate in the program.  The vast majority of the applications were for cover crops with the rest seeking help with nitrification inhibitors, no-till and strip-till.

Iowa secretary of agriculture Bill Northey calls the response “tremendous”.  He says it shows once again that farmers are committed to using voluntary, science-based conservation practices to continue to improve water quality.

The cost-share program is part of the Iowa Water Quality Initiative.

Ag senators expressed concerns to McCarthy

Republicans on the Senate Agriculture Committee met this week with EPA administrator Gina McCarthy to express their concerns about the agency’s “Waters of the U.S.” proposal and other EPA actions that are many view as “anti-agriculture”.

Nebraska Senator Mike Johanns, who was in the meeting, describes McCarthy’s attitude as “determined”.

“She was polite and she listened to us, but at the end of the day I’m not certain that we moved the ball down the field at all,” Johanns says. “She’s determined to regulate.  I think she believes she has the power to do that and she’s going to do it.”

Johanns suggested to McCarthy that she scrap the rule and start over.  But he doubts that will happen.

“I do think what’s happening here is the Obama Administration recognizes that they only have a couple years left—and I just think you’re going to see a blizzard of regulations over the next two years and five months,” says Johanns. “So I just think this battle will continue.”

Iowa Senator Chuck Grassley, who was also in that meeting with McCarthy, says it did little to alleviate his concerns that the agency isn’t listening to the people its rules will directly impact.

AUDIO: Mike Johanns (7:17 MP3)