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USB prepares for 2011

The United Soybean Board (USB) and soybean checkoff prepare to head into the new year with a new executive committee, led by newly elected USB Chairman Marc Curtis, a checkoff farmer-leader from Leland, Miss. Curtis, along with the other 68 volunteer farmer-directors, will begin reviewing priority issues established by representatives of the entire U.S. soybean industry at the recent CONNECTIONS meeting. These issues will be considered in the long-range planning process of the board.



Curtis has been a checkoff farmer-leader since 2005, serving as USB vice chairman, treasurer, chair of the USB Global Opportunities Program and member of the Production Research program, among other positions.



“I’m honored to have been selected by my fellow soybean farmers to serve as USB chairman,” says Curtis. “And I look forward to cooperating with the rest of the industry to continue the work of the checkoff especially to increase U.S. soy exports.”



Other members of the executive committee include: 


•    Vanessa Kummer, Colfax, N.D., Vice Chairperson 


•    Sharon Covert, Tiskilwa, Ill., Secretary 


•    Jim Stillman, Emmetsburg, Iowa, Treasurer 


•    Jason Bean, Holcomb, Mo., Production Research Chair


•    Jim Call, Madison, Minn., International Marketing Chair


•    Russ Carpenter, Trumansburg, N.Y., Communications Chair


•    Bob Haselwood, Berryton, Kan., New Uses Chair


•    Jim Schriver, Montpelier, Ind., Domestic Marketing Chair


•    Rick Stern, Cream Ridge, N.J, Audit & Evaluation Chair



This group’s extensive experience will guide USB toward working on a plan that will be shared with the industry to further cooperation amongst the full value chain.

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USDA report shows tight supplies of corn and soybeans

The Agriculture Department’s December crop report shows continued tight supplies of corn, cotton and soybeans that will help drive planting decisions next year, according to the American Farm Bureau Federation.

“Grain stocks weren’t reduced as much as we had expected, with USDA only making minor adjustments to the corn, wheat and soybean balance sheets,” said John Anderson, AFBF economist. “USDA did, however, lower its cotton stocks forecast to 1.9 million bales, compared to 2.2 million bales in last month’s report. That’s a drop of 300,000 bales in ending stocks, which is a significant drop given how low stocks already were.”

The USDA report indicates supplies of the three crops will be tight going into the new year. That points to strong demand, higher prices and an increase in corn, cotton and soybean plantings in 2011, according to the AFBF economist.

Anderson said that USDA’s minimal change to the corn stocks forecast was a surprising point from the December report.

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Corn ending stocks are raised as imports increase

U.S. feed grain supplies for 2010/11 are virtually unchanged as a small increase in corn imports is offset by a reduction in barley imports both reflecting feed grain production changes for Canada this month. U.S. corn imports are raised 5 million bushels with record production reported for Canada. U.S. corn ending stocks are raised accordingly. Barley imports are lowered 5 million bushels with lower production in Canada and the slow pace of imports to date. U.S. barley food, seed, and industrial use is lowered the same amount as domestic beer consumption remains weak slowing demand for malting barley. The projected marketing-year average price received by U.S. corn producers is unchanged this month at $4.80 to $5.60 per bushel. Farm prices for barley and oats are both projected slightly lower based on prices received by producers to date.

Global coarse grain production for 2010/11 is increased 3.4 million tons with corn production up 2.2 million tons, barley production up 0.6 million tons, and oats production up 0.4 million tons.

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The Dull Homestead recently constructed a seed corn conditioning facility

Dull Homestead Inc. recently constructed a new seed corn conditioning facility. The Dull family of Brookville, Oh., produces, processes and packages seed corn for Seed Consultants, Inc.

The new facility allows the Dulls to double their processing and handling capacity from 200 bushels per hour to 450 bushels per hour for a total of 100,000 units a season. A unit is 80,000 kernels. Mike Dull, seed corn production manager, says the facility will also enable the family to process seed earlier, by calendar year end.

The first seed plant, built in 1995, was quickly outgrown. To make room for expansion, the Dull family tore down the previous 75 X 60 foot building, located on one floor, and erected a three and four level facility in the same footprint. The seed is moved carefully with a series of slow speed universal legs and belt conveyors. “We’ve always been careful about making sure the seed is handled gently.

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Extensive testing yields consistent products

Seed Consultant Inc. (SCI) planted 90,000 replicated yield plots during the 2010 growing season, including 56 different locations for corn, 40 for soybeans and 11 for wheat throughout the Eastern Corn Belt.

The extensive testing program helps growers select the best genetics for the East’s unique environment — cooler, wetter soils and higher disease pressure.

“By planting a large number of plots we can position the hybrid or variety best suited for the farmers’ particular soils,” said Chris Jeffries, SCI president. “Some companies may have more total rows, but we have more locations. The key is selecting for our customer base.”

SCI customers Aaron Freyenberger and his dad, Keith, depend on SCI’s research to select seed for their northwest Indiana farm.

“It’s local. I can find the best varieties for my soil types,” Aaron said.

The soil types the Freyenbergers farm near Kouts range from clay hills to sand.

In 2010 the Freyenbergers planted SC 1107(non-GMO) on the clay hills.

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To store or not to store

Farmers trying to decide whether to sell the crop they harvested this fall or continue to store it have a big question to answer: Will storing the crop lead to greater profits later?

Although that is a matter of speculation, the returns on crop storage are lower than normal this year, according to Corinne Alexander, associate professor of agricultural economics at Purdue University.

“Buyers are saying, through price signals, that they are willing to pay a lot more right now because they need the grain,” Alexander said. “The market isn’t paying a lot to store, but that doesn’t mean it’s a bad idea. There’s no easy rule of thumb.”

Alexander recommends that farmers who choose to store their crop avoid putting it into commercial storage, which is less profitable than storing it on the farm.

The increase in crop prices primarily is the result of lower yields for different crops around the world.

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Dry soil conditions and the reliability of soil tests

By Robert Mullen, Ohio State University Extension

Some producers may be a little concerned with their lower soil test potassium levels measured this past fall. So what happened to cause these levels to be lower than expected?

As most of you noticed, late summer and early fall was quite dry across much of the state. While this was good for harvest and caused fields to be open longer than normal, it was not ideal for collecting soil samples. In some areas, it may have even been difficult to collect soil samples to the appropriate depth, and where soil samples were collected the information found in soil test reports did not match expectations based upon historical soil test information.

When we talk about soil testing, we often express concerns regarding conditions at the time of sampling. Samples collect when soils are too wet or too dry can alter soil test values. This is especially true for soil test potassium and pH.

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Year in review

By Ryan McAllister, CCA, Team Sales Agronomist, Beck’s Hybrids

This is the first year that I can remember that the weather pattern was pretty much the same for everyone…planting window in April with above normal temperatures and soil conditions followed by one month of rain with planting resuming towards the end of May, first of June. There were a few exceptions to this, but the vast majority in our eastern marketing area experienced this weather pattern. So, what contributed most to final yield? Two answers: planting date and nitrogen.

Keep this in mind as your Beck’s Area Dealer and or District Sales Manager or District Sales Associate comes around to finalize your orders. It is easy to blame the hybrid for a lack of performance or give the hybrid all the credit when it performs better than expected.

Here are a couple of agronomic topics to discuss with seed dealer when finalizing orders, or anytime this winter.

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Corn prices looking for direction

December 2010 corn futures have regained more than half of the decline that occurred from Nov. 9 to Nov. 23. Cash prices have recovered even more as basis levels continue to strengthen, said University of Illinois agricultural economist Darrel Good.

“A number of factors continue to influence corn prices, with the market trying to weigh the negative versus the positive factors. There is some concern about the large, long positions held by both index and managed funds and the possible negative impact of liquidation of some of those positions,” he said.

Such activity could have some short-term impact on price movement, but over a longer period, prices will follow fundamental value.  As is often the case, there is both uncertainty about fundamental factors and conflicting fundamental factors, he added.

“One of the largest uncertainties is the fate of the ethanol blender’s tax credit. That credit is currently at 45 cents per gallon of ethanol blended into the fuel supply, but that credit is set to expire on Jan.

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Farm bill debate will include reducing spending

When the new Republican House majority takes up the 2012 farm bill, Purdue agricultural economist Roman Keeney says farmers should expect lawmakers to reduce spending by focusing on three major areas: Brazil, budget and baseline.

In 2009 the World Trade Organization allowed Brazil to impose sanctions against the United States after ruling that U.S. cotton subsidies were illegal under the WTO framework. In April, the U.S struck a last minute deal to send $147.3 million dollars of annual support to Brazilian cotton production.

“That deal is a temporary resolution to the WTO case that Brazil won against U.S. cotton subsidy programs several years ago,” Keeney said. “The major issue in resolving the WTO case is for the U.S. to bring their policy into compliance in the 2012 farm bill.”

Sending $147.3 million dollars to Brazil is not a huge economic stress to the U.S., Keeney said, but it brings attention to agricultural spending at a time when the budget deficit is a major public concern.

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ASA urges Congressional approval of Korean Trade Agreement

The American Soybean Association (ASA) expresses appreciation to President Barack Obama and his team of negotiators who brought a successful conclusion to a United States-Korea Free Trade Agreement (KORUS FTA) that would create landmark opportunities for U.S. soy, meat, and poultry exports. ASA leaders are now urging Congress to swiftly vote approval of the necessary implementing legislation for this historic free trade agreement.

“Soybean farmers greatly appreciate the work of U.S. negotiators who concluded a trade agreement that achieves ASA’s objectives,” said ASA President Rob Joslin, a soybean farmer from Sidney, Ohio. “ASA has provided input to the U.S. Trade Representative and U.S. Department of Agriculture regarding the benefits of the FTA with Korea for a number of years. Now the Congress needs to approve this agreement as soon as possible.”

The agreement offers immediate duty-free access to U.S. soybeans for crushing and to U.S. soybean meal. And for the first time, producers of U.S.

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Comedian Drew Hastings to Perform at Ohio Grain Farmers Symposium December 16

At one point in his career, comedian Drew Hastings came to the realization that he needed to rid himself of the urban life in Los Angeles. So, he publicly declared, “I’m gonna go back to the Midwest where I’m from and get myself a farm!”

As a new farmer in Hillsboro, Ohio, Hastings has experienced the trials and tribulations of working with the land. But, he has also gained a new following for his comedic act – other farmers. His fans have seen and heard him perform on “The Tonight Show,” Comedy Central, a variety of sitcoms and “The Bob and Tom Show” syndicated radio program.

Hastings is now bringing his act to Lima, Ohio, December 16 to close out the second annual Ohio Grain Farmers Symposium (OGFS) at the Veterans’ Memorial Civic and Convention Center. He will entertain attendees with true stories about his life on a cattle farm.

In addition to seeing Hastings perform, grain farmers throughout the state will have the opportunity to learn about the latest agricultural issues impacting their operations.

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NASCAR to run on E15

The National Corn Growers Association and its state affiliates are among the organizations backing American Ethanol, a partnership including Growth Energy and NASCAR. This new partnership, announced by NASCAR, comes after the popular racing organization said in October it would fuel all races with E15, a 15% corn ethanol blend, starting with the 2011 season.

“The productivity of America’s farmers is unrivaled in the world and our ability to supply corn for food, livestock feed and fuel should be a source of national pride. This exciting new association with the NASCAR Nation will help to build that awareness,” said Bart Schott, NCGA president and a corn grower in Kulm, N.D. “With precision farming, innovation, technology and hard work farmers can double our harvest in the years ahead. NASCAR is a high-profile way to showcase one great use for this abundance.” NCGA’s involvement comes with the generous support of state corn checkoff investments.

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The budget, HSUS and the future at ODA

A conversation with…

Jim Zehringer, the future director of the Ohio Department of Agriculture.

OCJ: First, could you share a little about your background in agriculture and your legislative career that has helped prepare you for this position?

Jim: I grew up in town, but in the 70s I started working with my father in-law operating Meiring Poultry farm. My wife and I took ownership of the farm in 1983 and we raised chickens and fish and grew corn and soybeans up until 1 year ago. In 2002 I was elected as a Mercer County Commissioner. Mercer County is one of the largest Ag producing counties in the State and working with farmers in the county prepared me to work with agriculture issues at the state level. I was appointed to the Ohio House of Representatives in 2007 and I have been actively working on the Agriculture and Natural Resources committee as a member of the House.

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USDA’s CAP deadline approaching

The USDA Farm Service Agency (FSA) reminds producers they have until close of business on Thursday, Dec. 9, to apply for assistance for 2009 losses under the Crop Assistance Program (CAP). Up to $550 million in disaster assistance will be issued to producers of rice, upland cotton, soybeans and sweet potatoes for eligible losses because of excessive moisture or related conditions in 2009.

Assistance is available to producers of eligible crops in counties that received Secretarial disaster designations as a result of excessive moisture or related conditions in 2009. A list of eligible disaster counties for CAP is located at http://disaster.fsa.usda.gov. Producers of eligible crops on farms in disaster counties who certify to a 5% or greater crop loss in 2009 because of excessive moisture or related conditions may be eligible for compensation based on a predetermined payment rate multiplied by the planted and considered planted acres of the crop.

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USDA's CAP deadline approaching

The USDA Farm Service Agency (FSA) reminds producers they have until close of business on Thursday, Dec. 9, to apply for assistance for 2009 losses under the Crop Assistance Program (CAP). Up to $550 million in disaster assistance will be issued to producers of rice, upland cotton, soybeans and sweet potatoes for eligible losses because of excessive moisture or related conditions in 2009.

Assistance is available to producers of eligible crops in counties that received Secretarial disaster designations as a result of excessive moisture or related conditions in 2009. A list of eligible disaster counties for CAP is located at http://disaster.fsa.usda.gov. Producers of eligible crops on farms in disaster counties who certify to a 5% or greater crop loss in 2009 because of excessive moisture or related conditions may be eligible for compensation based on a predetermined payment rate multiplied by the planted and considered planted acres of the crop.

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NCGA and industry work together on Bt corn refuge implementation

To assist farmers in developing the right plan for refuge compliance, NCGA has joined forces with agribusiness to develop a next-generation Insect Resistance Management refuge calculator that is easy to use and represents the latest products available.

“Biotechnology is an important part of modern agriculture’s ability to sustainably meet the world’s increasing demands for food, feed and fuel, and its proper stewardship is essential,” said Chad Blindauer, Chair of NCGA’s Trade Policy and Biotechnology Action Team. “Given the benefits of Bt products, farmers and trait providers have a duty to keep this technology viable and on the market.”

In recent years, the introduction of new refuge systems has given growers more options in setting up their refuge. NCGA’s calculator was developed as a tool to clarify those options with growers and show them how to execute the requirements properly.

Industry experts from the Agricultural Biotechnology Stewardship Technical Committee (ABSTC), which is made up of representatives from Dow AgroSciences LLC, Monsanto Company, Pioneer Hi-Bred International, Inc., and Syngenta Seeds Inc., were consulted in developing the new and improved calculator.

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Central Ohio Agronomy Day-Dec. 16

Practicing twin-row corn production for potential higher yields, getting a handle on marestail, and reassessing fertility recommendations are just some of the ag production topics being covered during the Central Ohio Agronomy Day on Dec. 16.

The event will take place in Founders Hall at the Ohio State University/Central Ohio Technical College campus in Newark, Ohio. The program, sponsored by Ohio State University Extension, will run from 8:45 a.m. until 3:30 p.m.

The Central Ohio Agronomy Day is tailored for crop producers, those in the agronomy service industry, Certified Crop Advisors and commercial pesticide applicators. Advanced registration is $20, paid by Dec. 10, and $30 at the door. The fee includes morning refreshments, lunch, program materials, and up to eight hours of CCA credits.

Session topics include adoption of precision agriculture, drainage water management, nitrogen rate field trial in continuous corn, corn after corn management, insect management, weed management, and water quality improvement.

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Taking stock of crop market fundamentals

Corn, soybean, and wheat prices dropped sharply following the spike on Nov. 9, said University of Illinois agricultural economist Darrel Good.

December 2010 corn futures declined 96 cents from their high on Nov. 9 to their low on Nov. 23. January 2011 soybean futures dropped $1.45 by Nov. 19, and December 2010 wheat futures declined by $1.36 to their low on Nov. 16, he noted.

“Since the recent lows were established, prices have traded in a relatively narrow range. A number of factors have been cited as contributing to the wide swing in prices over the past three weeks. These include uncertainty about Chinese demand, fluctuating currency values, trading activity of commodity speculators, and the La Nina weather event. The market appears to be having some difficulty identifying value of commodities,” he said.

The value of the U.S. dollar is thought to have an impact on the demand for and/or prices of U.S.

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ASA pushing important issues in DC this week

American Soybean Association (ASA) farmer-leaders will be in Washington, D.C. this week to participate in two events involving legislation crucial to U.S. soybean farmers.

On Tuesday, Nov. 30, ASA Executive Committee member Joe Steiner will be participating in a press conference at the National Press Club on the need for Congress to enact estate tax legislation before Dec. 31. On Jan. 1 of 2011, the estate tax rate will revert to the 2001 rate of up to 55% with only a $1 million exclusion.

If not addressed by Congress, the high estate tax rate of 55% and low exclusion level of $1 million will very negatively affect the ability to pass farms, ranches, and small businesses from one generation to another. Even small and very moderate-sized family farm operations would be negatively affected. With farmland in many regions of the country selling for $5,000 per acre, it takes only 200 acres of land to reach the exclusion value of $1 million.

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