CME leader says youth critical to ag’s future

Terry Duffy, CME Group chairman and president, 2014 Illinois State Fair

Terry Duffy, CME Group chairman and president, 2014 Illinois State Fair

The chairman and president of the CME Group in Chicago came to the Illinois State Fair last week to show his support of county and state fairs and ag youth.  Terry Duffy said, “I’m very passionate about agriculture and the future of it because I don’t see too many businesses out there that have the growth potential that agriculture does.”

Duffy says people take agriculture for granted and that’s troubling to him, “When you look at the average age of a farmer, at 55.9 years of age, and where this industry could be going – it scares me. So, I have 11-year-old twin boys and I want to see them be able to prosper in this great country. And, I think people have kind of lost their way and it’s not their fault or anyone else’s fault about what really is America.”

Duffy says he wants to see more young people get involved in not only production agriculture but in ag financial services.  The CME group donates to 4-H and sponsors the Commodity Carnival at fairs across the country as an ag education tool for young people.

AUDIO: Interview with Terry Duffy thanks to Steve Bridge – WFMB Radio (7:30 mp3)

Senate Bill 150 rule making

The Ohio Department of Agriculture (ODA) hopes to have rules called for in the recently passed Senate Bill 150 filed by the end of the month.

Director Dave Daniels says once those rules are in place, ODA and OSU Extension will be rolling out educational programs.

“The educational components are to help them understand the technologies that’s out there today,” said Daniels.

SB-150 will require anyone who applies commercial fertilizer to 50 acres or more to be certified by the Ohio Department of Agriculture.

“The certification supports responsible ag practices and helps promote the 4-R programs, while allowing Ohio to continue to grow its vital agricultural industry,” Director Daniels said. “The 4-R Nutrient Stewardship concept encourages applicators to use the Right fertilizer source, the Right rate, the Right time and the Right place.”

Indiana Farm Bureau delegate session

Indiana Farm Bureau (IFB) will hold their annual delegate session on Saturday, August 23.

Delegates from across the state will be in Indianapolis to vote on policy will guide the organization in the coming year.

Likely to come up during the session will be property taxes, local government reorganization and regulations regarding water.

The delegate session will begin at 9 a.m. on Saturday at the Wyndham Hotel near the old Indianapolis airport.

EPA stands firm on WOTUS

Despite the EPA’s outreach efforts on its Waters of the U.S. rule, and numerous efforts by ag organizations to convey their concerns, the impasse over the proposed rule appears to be as wide as ever.

Ken Kopocis, deputy assistant administrator in the Office of Water at EPA, says they do not see the rule having any significant impact on the agricultural community.

“We believe that the proposed rule would cover fewer waters than what the current rule covers,” Kopocis says. “So we do not believe we’re expanding jurisdiction.”

Kopocis says the EPA hears the ag industry’s concerns.  “We’ve probably spent more time with representatives of the agricultural community than any other single sector,” he says  “(They) have been very clear that they do see some potential impacts and that’s why we want to have the dialogue–that’s why we want to hear from them in the comment period–to make sure what we say we are intending to do matches up with how it’s perceived, not only by the regulated community, but by regulators going forward as well.”

Kopocis was asked if the EPA has a trust issue within the ag community.

“I don’t know whether there’s a trust issue.  I won’t speak on behalf of that,” Kopocis says.  “I do know that we have not had the best relations with the agricultural community and both this office and the administrator in particular are very interested in trying to address that.”

Ag groups see the proposal as a power grab by the EPA, which would expand the agency’s regulatory power to nearly all waters on farms and ranches.

The Nebraska Rural Network contributed to this story.

Cellulosic ethanol arrives, but challenges remain

Photo courtesy of POET

Photo courtesy of POET

For many years we’ve been hearing that cellulosic ethanol is “just five years away”.  Now, with three cellulosic plants preparing to come online in 2014, it appears cellulosic ethanol has finally arrived.

However, according to John Hay, a University of Nebraska Extension educator specializing in energy and biofuels, there are still some questions about the economic viability of cellulosic ethanol production.

“The question is, can it be done cheap enough—and that really depends on a lot of things,” Hay says. “Can they get the feedstock at the price they want?  Is the price of oil where they can raise it and make it cheap enough?”

Hay says the boom in U.S. oil production has clouded the outlook for alternative fuels.

“The reality is that through hydraulic fracturing and horizontal drilling, the oil industry in the United States has really gone on an upswing—and that has kept the prices relatively low,” he says, “and that’s good, maybe, for us as consumers—but maybe not as good for that bioenergy market to climb very fast.

“So I think it’s going to be a very slow incline into some alternative fuels.”

Hay made those comments in an interview with Brownfield at a Switchgrass Bioenergy Feedstock field day near Beaver Crossing, Nebraska.

AUDIO: John Hay (7:38 MP3)

Trotter joins Wisconsin DBA staff

The Wisconsin Dairy Business Association (DBA) has named Timothy Trotter as its new Executive Director of Business Affairs.   Trotter, who most recently served as manager of strategic planning for DuPage County, Illinois: previously served as president and chairman of the board for the National Corn Growers Association as well as the same positions for the Association for Strategic Planning in Princeton, New Jersey. He is the chief executive officer for Farmers Premium Produce, as well as the owner of Trotter Aker Farm, both based in Illinois.

Trotter will begin his DBA duties on September 1st.

More criticism of WOTUS

mcclaskey jackie-ks dept of agMore criticism of the way the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has handled its proposed “Waters of the U.S.” rule.

Jackie McClaskey, secretary of agriculture for the state of Kansas, questions whether the EPA is listening to the ag community’s concerns.

“I think what’s been most frustrating is, as the agricultural voices have gotten louder and tried to provide more input in a very reasonable way, the approach we’ve gotten back from the feds is that, ‘well, you just don’t understand it’,” McClaskey says. “So there is really not an honest attempt to have a two-way communication—and that’s frustrating for us as we’re trying to represent agriculture in this discussion.”

McClaskey says the proposed rule is another example of federal overreach where, in her words “logic and common sense have gone out the window.”

AUDIO: Jackie McClaskey (6:34 MP3)

Project LIBERTY nears start-up

project liberty 8-14Project LIBERTY, POET-DSM’s cellulosic ethanol plant at Emmetsburg, Iowa, is nearing the start-up of production.

According to a company news release, plant personnel are currently running biomass through the pretreatment process.  Once fully operational, Project LIBERTY will process 770 tons of corn cobs, leaves, husk and some stalk daily to produce 20 million gallons of cellulosic ethanol per year, later ramping up to 25 million gallons annually.

POET-DSM officials say they plan to license their cellulosic production technology to companies across the U.S. and around the world.

Project LIBERTY will open its doors to the public at a Grand Opening Celebration on September 3rd.  The event will feature plant tours, a formal ceremony and more.

Another million-plus at Wisconsin State Fair

Thanks to near-perfect weather, the Wisconsin State Fair passed the one-million mark in attendance for the second consecutive year.  Final numbers show 1,030,811 people came through the gates during the ten days representing a 1 percent increase over last year.  The final Saturday, August 9th was the biggest day with nearly 137,000 in attendance.  The Wisconsin Bakers Association reports they sold more than 400,000 cream puffs at the fair this year.

Vesicular stomatitis outbreak raises concern

An outbreak of vesicular stomatitis (VS) in horses in Texas and Colorado seems to be spreading and is raising concern among veterinarians and livestock owners.

More than 270 cases of the disease have been confirmed in the two states.  VS is highly contagious and can affect horses, cattle, swine and sheep.  Although the disease is rarely fatal, complete recovery may take three to four weeks.

Signs of VS include painful oral blisters that can affect the mouth, muzzle and tongue.  It may also cause lesions on the udder and/or around the top of the hoof where it meets the hairline.

Officials are urging animal owners to be cautious when traveling with their animals and to check with their state department of agriculture regarding travel restrictions.