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Tough stretch for ethanol profitability

By Scott Irwin, Department of Agricultural and Consumer Economics, University of Illinois

The U.S. ethanol industry faced considerable headwinds in 2018, including the lowest prices over the last decade, policy setbacks in the implementation of the RFS, and political resistance to granting a year-round RVP waiver for E15. The impact of these headwinds on ethanol production profits is certainly of interest to those in the ethanol industry, as well as policymakers and legislators interested in the financial health of the U.S. renewable fuels industry.

A model of a representative Iowa ethanol plant was used to track the profitability of ethanol production. The model is meant to be representative of an “average” ethanol plant constructed in the last decade. There is certainly substantial variation in capacity and production efficiency across the industry and this should be kept in mind when viewing profit estimates from the model.

Ethanol prices started 2018 at historically low levels of $1.25 per gallon, rose to a peak of $1.43 in April, and then fell most of the rest of the year, reaching a low of $1.06 in late November.

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Award winners recognized at Ohio Pork Congress

Ohio is fortunate to be home to many outstanding leaders who work selflessly to make a difference in the pork industry. At yesterday’s Ohio Pork Congress Luncheon some of those individuals were recognized for their service with the presentation of the Swine Manager of the Year, Ohio Pork Council Service, Pork Promoter of the Year, Friends of Ohio Pork and Ohio Pork Industry Excellence awards.

Swine Manager of the Year Award: Nathan Isler, Prospect

Nathan oversees the sows and three full time employees in the sow barn for Isler Genetics.

“Commercially raising hogs for market is the way we are going and our future as I see it today,” Nathan said. “The vast majority of our hogs go to market, but we also sell breeding stock, show pigs, and pigs for medical research. We sell commercial semen as well. We also have three contract barns. Through the progression of things we are 70% pure York sows.

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Initial Brazil soybean harvest not record-breaking, still solid

Soybean harvest in Parana, Brazil, the country’s second-largest soybean-producing state, has reached 25%, well ahead of the 2018 pace.

Brazilian government forecasting agency DERAL says, although the state suffered through a mini-drought in December, early yield results show no material losses. Only 6% of the state’s soy fields are reportedly in bad condition. The number his still higher than last year’s zero ‘bad’ fields.

DERAL says 24% of fields are considered average, compared to 14% in the last cycle. The remaining fields are considered in good condition. As it stands currently, Brazil’s crop will be short of the record-high estimates of 122 million metric tons. Weather issues in Brazil are not widespread or significant enough to put a major dent in production.

Elsewhere in South America, harvest expectations in Argentina are nearing 53- to 55-million metric tons, coming off 38 MMT in 2018.

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National Farm Machinery Show Seminar Schedule and Featured Vendors

The National Farm Machinery Show will take place Feb. 13- 16, 2019 at the Kentucky Exposition Center, 937 Phillips Lane, Louisville, KY 40209. The hours of the show are 9 a.m. – 6 p.m. daily (EST). Admission for the show is free. Parking is $10 for cars and $20 for buses.

At this year’s show, daily educational seminars will be held during the show and are outlined in detail below the featured vendors.

Check out these Featured Vendors while you are at the show:

Seminar Schedule

Wednesday, February 13

10 a.m. “The Future of Precision Ag Technology” – South Wing B 103
As the integration of precision agriculture into everyday farm operations continues to grow, new technologies and applications are emerging. Join this session to learn about the newest features in FARMserver™ and what future advancements you can expect that will help increase your efficiency and profitability. – Presented by Beck’s Hybrids

11:30 a.m.

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What road salt means for plant health

Salty cars and salty roads are a hallmark of this time of year. With so much NaCl (salt) being spread, the question arises of what effect it has on nearby plants.

Pamela Bennett is an Ohio State horticulture educator and state master gardener volunteer program director. She is often asked what will happen to plants come spring as the result of salt. She said salt buildup in soil and salt spray on plants themselves are chief concerns.

“There are two different ways plants can be damaged. Number one is the salt spray. That salt spray if it’s on the foliage long enough if it’s on the bud, it could cause the buds to dry out and it could cause bud and stem damage,” she said. “It’s more common to see this on evergreen trees such as white pines or on boxwoods which are evergreen shrubs, and those plants that are susceptible to salt injury.

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Shutdown-delayed USDA market reports will be released Feb. 8

Even though the government is back up and running, the month-long government shutdown continues to have lasting effects, especially when it comes to commodity markets.

Over 60 reports were not released at their scheduled times due to the furloughed staff of the National Agricultural Statistics Service. USDA this week announced that many of those reports, including final harvest numbers for 2018, will be published on the next regularly-scheduled report day Feb. 8.

The February World Agriculture Supply and Demand (WASDE) report will also be released then. Some of the data, including the January WASDE report, will never be published, according to American Farm Bureau Federation Economist Veronica Nigh.

Some of January’s data will be rolled into the February report.

“USDA is generally considered to be the gold standard when it comes to reports and you got to remember how much we’re missing here. The obvious things we’re missing are weekly export sales reports, daily flash sale reports, your monthly WASDE report.

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Ohio results from the 100th American Farm Bureau Federation Annual Convention

By Joel Penhorwood and Matt Reese

A number of Ohioans competed and found success at the 100th American Farm Bureau Federation Annual Convention held in New Orleans in January.

Annie Specht, a professor of agricultural communication at the Ohio State University, and a member of the Tuscarawas County Farm Bureau, competed at the national level of the American Farm Bureau Federation Discussion Meet.

“I was able to make it out of the first round, so we had two different rooms of discussion, and out of the 36 competitors, they ended up taking the top 16. I was lucky enough to make that sweet 16 round. Sadly, I did not move on to the final four,” she said.

She said though she was disappointed to not make it to the finals, she was happy to enjoy great discussion with ag professionals from across the country.

“The competition is structured the way that we would structure a committee meeting, so you’ve got in most of the rooms, four to five individuals, a moderator who introduces the topic, introduces the participants, and you give a 30-second opening statement.

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2019 Fort Wayne Farm Show Featured vendors and schedule

The 30th Annual Fort Wayne Farm Show will take place Jan. 15- 17, 2019 at the Allen County War Memorial Coliseum at 4000 Parnell Ave., Ft. Wayne, Indiana 46805. The hours of the show are Tuesday 9 a.m. – 5 p.m., Wednesday 9 a.m. – 8 p.m. and Thursday 9 a.m. – 4 p.m.

At this year’s show, Northeastern Indiana Soil and Water Conservation Districts and Purdue Cooperative Extension will present daily educational seminars, which are outlined in detail below the featured vendors.

Check out these Featured Vendors while you are at the show:

Seminar Schedule

Tues., Jan. 15, 2019

Appleseed Room A: Moderator – Crystal Van Pelt, Purdue Extension – Steuben County, IN


10 a.m. Grain Market Outlook

Jon Cavanaugh, Marketing Director, Central States Enterprises, Inc., David Kohli, Adjunct Professor, Ivy Tech, Ryan Martin, Chief Meteorologist, Hoosier Ag Today, Rob Winters, Farm Director, Newstalk 1190-WOWO


11:30 a.m. Luncheon Program

Please note that only 100 meals will be available for this event and they will be provided on a first come – first serve basis!

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2019 Draft Horse Sale Dates

If you have sales you would like to see included on this list, e-mail ocjstaff@ocj.com.

Jan 3-4, 2019
Bluegrass Sales Stables Spring Draft Horse & Mule Sale, Trenton, KY


January 15-16, 2019

Keystone Draft Horse Sale, Harrisburg, Pa


February 4, 2019

Kalona Special Work Horse Sale, Kalona, Iowa


February 20-22, 2019

Mid-America Draft Horse Sale, Gordyville, Illinois


March 2, 2019

LaRue Horse Sale Annual Spring Driving Sale, LaRue, Ohio


March 4-9, 2019

Mid-Ohio Draft Horse and Carriage Sale, Mount Hope, Ohio


March 6-9, 2019

Boone Draft Horse & Mule Sale, Sedalia, MO


March 19-22. 2019

Topeka Spring Draft Horse, Carriage & Equipment Sale, Topeka, IN


March 22-23, 2019

Dixie Draft Horse Mule and Carriage Auction, Troutman, North Carolina


March 26-29, 2019

Waverly Midwest Horse Sale, Waverly, Iowa


April 3-5, 2019

Midwest Select Draft & Driving Horse Sale, Madison, Wis.


April 15- 16, 2019
Kalona Spring Draft Horse Sale, Kalona, Iowa


April 25–26, 2019

Buckeye Spring Draft Horse Sale, Dover, OH


April 25–27, 2019

National Clydesdale Sale, Shipshewana, IN


June 6-7, 2019

Mid-Ohio Draft Horse and Carriage Sale, Mount Hope, Ohio


June 21, 2019

Topeka Summer Draft Horse, Carriage & Equipment Sale,  Topeka, IN


June 21–22, 2019

Seymour Draft Horse Sale, Centreville, MI


September 11–14, 2019

Boone County Draft Horse & Mule Sale, Sedalia, MO


October 1–4, 2019
Waverly Midwest Fall Horse Sale, Waverly, IA


October 8-11, 2019

Mid-Ohio Draft Horse and Carriage Sale, Mount Hope, Ohio


October 14 & 15, 2019
Kalona Fall Draft Horse Sale, Kalona, Iowa


Nov 29 – 30
Dixie Draft Horse, Mule & Carriage Fall Auction, Troutman, NC

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JCARR sends water changes back to ODA

By Joel Penhorwood, Ohio Ag Net

The Joint Committee on Agency Rule Review (JCARR) met on Monday in the latest of the ongoing matters regarding Gov. John Kasich’s executive order to designate eight Ohio watersheds as “distressed.”

JCARR voted 8-1 to send the rule back to the Ohio Department of Agriculture due to the proposed amendments to the Ohio Administrative Code possibly being in conflict with the legislative intent of the statue under which they were proposed.

“What this essentially means is it will give us a chance to work with the new administration on these rules and there won’t be that pressure to get these things run through like it was being done under Gov. Kasich,” said Tony Seegers, director of state policy for Ohio Farm Bureau. “It went just as we had hoped it would. The committee, after our testimony and testimony of others, agreed with us and decided to tell the agency what’s called revise and refile the rule, so that rule has gone back to the Department of Agriculture.”

Seegers said Farm Bureau and other ag groups had several concerns from a rule-making perspective.

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Ohio winters offer challenges to pork producers

By Ty Higgins, Ohio Ag Net

Just as the change of the season brings about slippery roads and windshields that need scraped before you venture out, the winter months can be the cause of many concerns on Ohio’ hog farms as well. From moisture, to rodents, to bio-security, there is plenty to keep in mind as pig farmers prep barns for livestock.

“Because of the wet and damp conditions that Mother Nature gives us this time of year, moisture is more difficult to control,” said Dr. Terri Specht, a veterinarian at Heimerl Farms in Johnstown. “We recommend using a couple days to get the barns warmed up before new pigs come in. Most barns are temperature regulated to keep the pigs comfortable all year round, but it takes a while to get a barn to that 65 degree level in the winter.”

As harvest progresses, albeit slowly across the state, those finished corn and soybean fields force some unwelcome guests to look for shelter in those warmed barns.

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A long road ahead for year round E15 availability

By Ty Higgins, Ohio Ag Net

For how much talk that has been made about the decline in soybean demand due to many factors, corn demand has held its own through the second half of 2018. That was one of the points made at last week’s Agriculture Policy and Outlook Conference, hosted by The Ohio State University.

“Ethanol is the biggest component of corn use and we have exported a lot of it, including 33% of our ethanol to Brazil this year,” said Ben Brown, program manager for the Farm Management Program in Ohio State’s College of Food, Ag and Environmental Sciences. “The returns for ethanol plants aren’t overly strong so we have seen a pullback from ethanol production, but use was good this year.”

Those ethanol plants, corn industry groups and corn farmers across the country are applauding a recent announcement by President Trump that he has asked the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to propose the sales of E15 ethanol, or gasoline with a 15% ethanol blend, on a year round basis.

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Local innovation is filling the small farm implement gap

Over the past several years, small and mid-sized tractors have inundated the marketplace as more small-scale and organic farmers begin to update their equipment. As sales of lower horse powered machines climb, Bellevue farmer Jeff Sberna has noticed that the implement side of the farm manufacturing sector wasn’t following suit, so he designed a concept for a compact aeration tool.

“I have always has small equipment and never really had anything to break the sub dirt with,” said Sberna, who came up with the concept of the J & D Farm Built chisel ripper. “This unit is a hybrid and is designed to take the place of a chisel plow and a subsoiler. It will maintain a depth of 13 to 14 inches without re-compaction and is great on fuel efficiency.”

The six-foot chisel ripper was on display recently at Farm Science Review. Sberna recommends that unit for a small, niche and organic farms with 20 to 30 acres to cover.

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A small farm with a big purpose

By Ty Higgins, Ohio Ag Net

From the road, it looks like many farms in Clark County that you might pass by and get a quick glimpse of, with 24 acres or rolling hills, woodland areas, gardens, greenhouses, livestock pens and red barns. But once you step onto The H.A.R.D. Acre Farm you begin to realize that there is more to this farm that what you see as you drive by.

The farm got its start after two school teachers who decided to leave their well-established careers, along with the benefits that came along with them, to open a working farm that would become a day program for adults with disabilities, including those suffering from autism spectrum disorder and dementia. The farm’s mission is to provide those adults the dignity to enjoy meaningful work, life and social relationships in a safe agricultural community, to participate as good stewards of God’s bounty.

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A new approach to tissue sampling

By Ty Higgins, Ohio Ag Net

Throughout the 2018 growing season, AgriGold agronomist John Brien has been working with farmers to do something a little unorthodox. He is having producers send in tissue samples on a weekly basis.

“Traditionally, tissue sampling has a negative tone to it because no one has been able to correlate that if you have this certain level of something at this certain time, you’re going to get this certain yield, so many academia and agronomists have come to the conclusion that tissue sampling is not important,” Brien said. “But we have taken a different approach and we are systematically tissue sampling, once every week so we can get trend lines. I’m not worried about spikes or valleys. I am worried about the general trend of nutrients in that plant.”

The end goal, according to Brien, is to see if growers are getting enough nutrients to the plant at any given point of the season or if there are big holes somewhere that need to be addressed to fix the production system, offering a different mindset to see what this type of tissue sampling can offer. 

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Ohio Signature Food Contest winners

The small business sector in Ohio is vital to many stakeholders. The Center for Innovative Food Technology (CIFT) and the Ohio Farm Bureau Federation sponsored the Ohio Signature Food Contest which showcases many new, innovative products ready to take that next step — actual product development.

CIFT President & CEO, Rebecca Singer announced the winners selected in recognition of their product concepts:
Sarah Steinbrunner and Taylor Crooks of Sandusky, Ohio with their Bean Nut Butter: A delicious non-GMO and vegan nut butter that is free of the top eight allergens. Uniquely incorporates garbanzo beans which are high in protein and fiber, but lack high calorie and fat content association with regular nuts.
Tina Smith and Nate Bissell of Jefferson, Ohio with their Sweet and Spicy Maple BBQ Sauce: A unique, all-natural barbecue sauce made with a kick of hot peppers but offering a special ingredient – the sweetness of pure Ohio maple syrup.

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