Feed & Grain magazine launches a new and improved web site
You may have noticed over the past several days that one of your favorite bookmarks on your web browser looks a little different. That's because Feed & Grain launched a new web site earlier this week. This makeover has been months in the making, but after a few days of testing and tweaking, we're ready to announce it: The new FeedandGrain.com is live!
Our site retained many of the features it's known for, like our DTN Commodity Quotes page, our expansive Online Buyers Guide, and a steady stream of news updates relevant to your daily lives as grain and/or feed handlers. But the look is notably different, fresh and cutting-edge. From day one, when our web designer asked the staff what we wanted most out of our new site, it was easy to answer him: make it simpler. From the color scheme, to its seamless display on mobile platforms, to the streamlined homepage, I think we've achieved just that.
Now, if you've ever participated in launching or re-launching a company web site, you know it's never as cut-and-dried as anticipated. Some of the pages are still being enhanced or modified, and we ask for your patience while we work out those features. But in the meantime, there is plenty to love about the new site:
It's easier to navigate
We boiled down our main navigation to the top five news topics that drew people in to FeedandGrain.com. They are: Feed, Grain, Safety, Government and Commerce. Search within these sections to hone in on the news that matters most to you.
It looks great on your smartphone
In digital jargon it's called "responsive design," but all it means is that you can view FeedandGrain.com on your desktop, laptop, smartphone, or any size tablet and it looks like it was built especially for that device. No more limitations from a mobile-specific site with hard-to-read text ads. You now have access to all of our content anywhere at any time.
You can be a part of our Blog
The feed and grain industry is a tight-knit community with unique challenges and experiences that only others like you can truly appreciate. We know how important it is for you to stay in touch and communicate your successes, ideas and opinions with eachother, as evidenced by our growing social media following. So, we'd like to extend an opportunity to our readers and industry suppliers to blog for FeedandGrain.com and share your perspective with your peers. Whether you're interested in contributing on a regular basis or making a single guest entry, go to the Blog page and click the "Be part of our blog" button for more information.
The new and improved Buyers Guide
Feed & Grain has the most comprehensive online Buyer's Guide in the feed and grain industry, thanks to new entries being added on a weekly and sometimes daily basis. Carrying the simplicity theme to our BG, this section is easier than ever to navigate between company, product and category information. Bigger pictures and a more user friendly information request form enhance the shopping experience for interested buyers.
Better looking ads
We know you visit FeedandGrain.com for its breaking news, magazine articles, product information and blogs, but we're also excited about the new attractive and easy-to-read digital ads. To avoid a cluttered layout, we've reduced the number of online ads, but they're larger to fit more information and can scale down or up for viewing on any platform.
I welcome your feedback on the site's new features. You can email me, or tell us your thoughts on Facebook or Twitter. Have fun exploring the new FeedandGrain.com!
GEAPS speaker expresses concern as the retirement rate reaches up to 12% in our field
Today's blog entry comes courtesy of guest blogger Mace Thornton, executive director, communications, for the American Farm Bureau Federation. Mace traveled with Feed & Grain to GEAPS Exchange 2014 in Omaha, NE, and gathered the insights below at the educational session titled "Building a Bench - Succession Management," presented by Mike Koenecke, HR recruiter/talent management, Ag Partners LLC. For more of Mace's musings, follow @AFBFMace on Twitter.
With an aging “Baby Boom” generation at or nearing retirement age, the topic sweeping American business boardrooms these days is succession planning — who will be ready to lead once today’s executives punch out their time clocks for the final time.
In the grain industry, due to its higher-than-average demographic of men in leadership positions, with most carrying the traditional baby-boomer trait of working at one place for the bulk of their careers, the issue of succession planning takes on even greater importance, according to Koenecke.
To complicate matters, Koenecke said that when it comes to picking the next person to be in charge, succession plans fail approximately 70% of the time due to “a lack of sustained commitment from company leadership.”
Koenecke told a packed educational session at the 2014 GEAPS Exchange that companies must have in place a systematic way of fulfilling future management personnel needs.
Among other points, comprehensive succession planning must be based on a plan that includes:
Evaluating the company’s internal talent pool
Aligning the company’s goals with its future leadership needs
Continuous professional development for employees
Working to minimize a company’s loss of intellectual capital by retaining the best and brightest
Narrowing the competency gap among employees
Developing an objective way to measure “promotability” of employees
Koenecke said it is vital to harness both strategic and objective thinking when establishing the definition of the type of employee worthy to take the helm. The best way to do that is by measuring the employee group’s competencies, knowledge, skills, abilities and leadership traits.
This can be done through the use of scientifically validated assessment tools, and tools such as 360-degree peer reviews. He told the crowd that by using three or more scientifically validated tools, the succession plan success rate climbs to 92%. But, he added, success hinges on more than simply having the HR department trotting out the latest tools.
“HR is a strategic part of this, but it’s really the managers who need to own the process,” Koenecke said.
In the grain industry, there is plenty of incentive to plan for the future. As the wave of baby boomers are hitting retirement age, on average, across all industries the retirement rate usually runs between 3% and 5%. In the grain industry, however, Koenecke said the retirement rate today frequently hits double digits, 8-12% or higher.
Food safety expert says your feed or grain facility likely already meets many FSMA rules
In a refreshing message about the Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA), Dr. Gretchen Mosher, assistant professor of agricultural & biosystems engineering at Iowa State University, said that although the FSMA may seem overwhelming, you’re probably closer to complying with the rules than you think.
Speaking at a jam-packed educational session at GEAPS Exchange 2014 in Omaha, NE, Mosher stressed that breaking down the regulation into individual requirements can help put the massive bill into perspective. “It may seem overwhelming, but pieces are already in place,” Mosher said.
For example, FSMA requires a written plan to control all reasonable hazards. If your facility is HACCP certified, or certified by a third-party verification program like AFIA’s Safe Feed/Safe Food, you already meet this requirement.
Mosher noted that several current regulations governing feed and grain facilities overlap the Food Safety Modernization Act. The Bioterrorism Act of 2002 requires a 24-hour recall time for records as requested, and the Sanitary Food Transportation Act of 2005 set forth sanitary transportation practices to be followed by shippers, carriers by motor vehicle or rail vehicle, receivers, and others engaged in food transport – like feed mills and grain facilities. Many OSHA regulations also cover FSMA’s worker safety requirements.
Of course, the FSMA does have some requirements unique unto itself, like registering your facility with FDA and providing information about the grain or feed processed there. But the session’s moderator, Dr. Charlie Hurburgh, professor, Iowa State University, noted that this is a simple process that should have been completed more than a year ago.
Perhaps the most frustrating hurdle the FSMA presents is the fact that unlike USDA’s GIPSA or APHIS inspectors, many FDA inspectors have little or no grain industry background. They’re used to inspecting food plants where you can “literally eat off of the floor,” Mosher said. “Your facility is never going to look like that, but cleanliness is an indicator of grain quality. Especially be careful to clean up pest’s droppings.”
What struck me about Mosher’s presentation was her positive attitude about the Food Safety Modernization Act. There’s no doubt the FSMA will change the way feed and grain facilities operate for decades to come, if not forever, but these changes are not as new or groundbreaking as one might think. By complying with pieces of various other regulations, you’re probably more prepared for an FDA inspection than you know.
Ultimately, complying with the FSMA comes down to proactive grain quality management, which you already care deeply about. The FSMA is simply a formalized layer of preventive controls you can and should be taking. In closing, Mosher expressed a sentiment I strongly agree with, to “think of the FSMA as an opportunity to improve your facility, and not just a set of requirements to meet.”
A rail spur on the track at a CHS Inc. caused an empty Burlington Northern Santa Fe Railway train to derail, injuring two workers. The falling cars broke the supports under the facility’s control room, forcing employees to evacuate both it and the surrounding area. The two injured employees were hurt as they escaped the control room. During the bedlam, a loading boom spilled 100,000 bushels of corn, estimated to be worth around $400,000. CHS Inc. has started an investigation into the accident, but an official statement noted that the safety of its employees was their first concern.
It’s no secret that China’s demand for meat is increasing. As more of the population is elevated to the middle class, they are demanding more of the luxuries in life — which includes access to meat. China was finding it impossible to fill that demand while trying to be self-sufficient in grain production. The government has announced that it will stop trying to have both, and will be scaling back annual grain production targets. This will free up land to grow more valuable crops for China, while also freeing up chances for exports for nations better suited to grow the grains need to feed livestock.
Little is known about the Porcine Epidemic Diarrhea virus (PEDv) other than that it is hard to eradicate, spreads quickly and has killed somewhere between 1 million and 4 million pigs in under a year. The Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) will be testing to see it the virus was accidentally aided in crossing the border by plasma for feed, sourced from the United States. The dissension was made after research was made available from Kansas State University recommending replacing porcine-based products in diets.
For the past several months, China has been rejecting shipments of corn from the United States due to a trait from Syngenta that they have not approved. So far, this has caused more than 650,000 tons of corn to be turned away at Chinese's ports. Another Syngenta trait called Duracade was approved by the U.S. last year, and helps fight rootworms. The trait has not been approved by China or the European Union. Companies learned the lesson from year, and both Cargill and Bunge have already stated that they will not be accepting crops with this new trait for export. The National Grain and Feed Association and North American Export Grain Association have asked for Duracade to be taken off the market until this mess was sorted out, but Syngenta refused, citing that farmers need new technology.
Chipotle is at it again. After the success of its short animated film “Scarecrow,” Chipotle has once more decided to skew the facts behind modern farming in a mini-series on Hulu called “Farmed and Dangerous.” Under the disguise of satire and “encouraging a discussion on how our food is made,” Chipotle is attacking agriculture in an effort to target health conscious mothers and millennials, both of which are key demographics and show to care a great deal about where their food comes from. It helps that these are the groups that are more likely to watch Hulu. The American Feed Industry Association (AFIA) and most groups in agriculture have come out in opposition to the series, displaying disappointment to downright anger over the project. Sadly, Chipotle does not seem willing to look at both sides of the argument, and it will be up to everyone in modern agriculture to take part in presenting our side of the story.
As always, thanks for reading Views on the News and Feed & Grain. Don’t forget to catch up on what happened at IPPE. We have tons of videos, images and news. I want to remind you to email me if you have any story ideas, comments on what news you want to hear about, or just to say, "Hey." Subscribe to Industry Watch, follow us on Twitter or like us on Facebook for all the latest news in the industry. See you next week.
There have been a lot of reminders on the dangers of grain engulfment in the news lately, so from everyone here at Feed & Grain, whether you’re a grain handler, feed manufacture or farmer, be safe out there. The top stories for the week of Feb. 10 are …
Farmer Charles Sperle died in an unusual grain engulfment scenario. Sperle was unloading his full 30, 000-bushel bin with a grain vacuum, when a funnel formed, causing the grain to pour out of the bin opening like a waterfall, covering him in seconds. Though drivers of the trucks being loaded tried to rescue him, Sperle was covered in grain for 20-25 minutes before rescue crews could free him.
Craig Nelson was rescued from his drying bin on Feb. 11 after having his legs submerged for 90 minutes. Nelson went into the bin to loosen soybeans after his unloading auger got stuck; luckily, the driver of the trailer being loaded heard his calls for help. Rescue workers drained the bin until Nelson was able to crawl out of the opening at the bottom of the bin. The late harvest and cool, wet weather this past fall has made grain quality an issue, making it more likely for individuals to enter bins when grain clumps. To read more about how improved grain quality can lead to bin safety should check out “Attention to Grain Quality Keeps People Safe” on pg. 18 of your February/March issue of Feed & Grain.
President Barack Obama ended an odyssey when he signed the 2014 Farm Bill on Feb. 7. What should have been the 2012 or 2013 Farm Bill was held up for over two years while legislators fought over food stamps and subsidies. The Farm Bill will not only give certainty in the uncertain realm of agriculture, but reduces the national deficit by $23 billion. It also gets rid of direct payment subsidies, while giving more farm insurance options to a wider selection of crops. It also sets programs that aid conservation, disaster relief and job creation. The USDA has already started setting up how to implement new and returning programs, with planting choices needing to made in the South and livestock disaster aid long overdue in some areas.
CHS Inc. will share its financial success with farmers, ranchers and cooperatives when it gives out an estimated $433 million cash distribution, the second largest in company history. The return to owners is based on CHS’s net income of $992.4 million for the fiscal year ending Aug. 31, 2013, also the company’s second largest. The distribution will go to the 1,100 member cooperatives and more than 50,000 individual members of CHS Inc. More than $3.5 billion in cash has been given back to CHS’ agricultural producer and member cooperative owners, a billion of it over the past two years.
A $16 million verdict was awarded to the families of Wyatt Whitebread and Alejandro Pacas, who died in a grain engulfment incident in July, 2010. Whitebread was only 14 when he was sucked into a sinkhole in the grain that he was standing on, while pushing the grain down to the conveyor. Pacas and another employee jumped into the sinkhole to save him but became entrapped as well. Pacas, who was 19 at the time, was engulfed in the grain along with Whitebread, while the other employee, Will Piper, was buried up to his neck for six hours. Whitebread’s and Pacas’ families were each awarded $8 million and Piper was awarded $875,000.
Thanks for reading Views on the News! Don’t forget to catch up on what happened at IPPE. We have tons of videos, images and news. I want to remind you to email me if you have any story ideas, comments on what news you want to hear about, or just to say, "Hey." Subscribe to Industry Watch, follow us on Twitter or like us on Facebook for all the latest news in the industry.
Three workers were critically injured while six more needed medical attention after an explosion at a corn processing plant in the Heilongjiang Province of China. Heilongjiang Longfeng Corn Development Co., Ltd. is a leading agricultural products processing plant, with a capacity of over 900,000 tons. There is an investigation into the cause of the explosion, but no new news as of this writing.
The Farm Bill finally reached completion on Feb. 7, when President Obama signed the bill into law at Michigan State University. The bill has managed to squeeze through a divided congress after almost two years of negotiations that saw one extension of the 2009 farm bill and the threat of returning to the outdated permanent law. The new bill will expand crop insurance offerings while eliminating direct payments to farmers. Food stamps, one of the main stumbling blocks, will be reduced by 1%.
Adjusted earnings may have been up by 58% this past quarter, but Archer Daniels Midland Co.’s net earnings were down from $0.77/share to $0.56/share. This decrease was due to the company’s Brazilian sugar mill and the acquisition of the Australian company GrainCorp falling through. ADM’s Chairman and CEO Patrica Woertz was pleased with ADM’s biofuel performance and cost savings efforts.
This year’s spring and summer processing of soybean meal at Cargill’s Raleigh, NC, facility will be suspended. Cargill cited the lack of consistent demand of soybean meal along with a high demand of U.S. soybeans from other sources for the reasoning behind their decision. The Raleigh facility will still buy soybeans from producers, and demands for soybean meal will be met by their Fayetteville, NC, facility. Cargill will continue to evaluate whether to open the plant for processing.
California has been in a drought for the last three years, with this past year having the lowest recorded rain fall in 150 years. This drought is pushing California’s water reserves to their breaking point, with many producers limiting or completely scraping their crops this year. This extreme drought in California may not be as short lived as many hope. Megadroughts are a fairly common occurrence in last 1,000 years of California’s history. Most of the Megadroughts last 10 to 20 years with the most extreme stretching out from 180 to 240 years, a stretch of dryness that modern California is not prepared for. California is the United States’ largest state by population and a prolonged drought will have a ripple effect through agriculture and the rest of the economy.
The big news here at Feed & Grain is our Feb/March issue is finished and headed towards your doorstep. Get ready for a mammoth GEAPS Exchange 2014 Guide! We’re fresh from IPPE with videos, images and tons of feature ideas. I want to remind you to email me if you have any story ideas, comments on what news you want to hear about, or just to say, "Hey." Subscribe to Industry Watch, follow us on twitter or like us on facebook for all the latest news in the industry.
I recently attended my daughter’s FFA awards banquet at a local high school where she teaches agriculture. Like most kids, everyone of the students had their cell phones in their hands, typing away. After a failed attempt to get the kids to practice one more time before the event started, the teachers confiscated all of the phones from the kids on stage — and it was like taking one of their arms away to give them up. The awards ceremony went off without any interruptions, at least no one could be seen texting anyway.
The reason I bring up this anecdote is because you see it happening everywhere. Everyone is always on their smart phone — from texting to talking with someone to browsing the Internet for “stuff” — what did we do before the invention of the mobile phone?
Mobile technology also serves as a valuable tool in the workforce. As one of my co-workers stated in a meeting: “[Smart phones] have become a news delivery device.” In this industry, we rely on it for so much more than communication between one person and another. Consider how much time it took to communicate between employees at a plant 10 years ago. They had to go to a desk to jump on a computer to enter any type of data, maintenance, production or safety related information.
Today’s younger generation is very “techie.” They rely heavily on their smart phones — they can find any information with Google, retrieve data, manage personal accounts, take a picture of a piece of equipment that needs some attention, text or call a supplier for some help on fixing a problem out in the plant. As our cover story explains, it cuts downtime and improves accuracy on record keeping for maintenance in eight of Southern States Cooperative’s plants.
There is definitely a generation gap between the folks that work in the plants and manage the plants; however, in this day and age, the older generation is being forced to get on board with smart technology at our workplaces. The list of benefits is endless — and it makes our jobs so much easier.
Here at Feed & Grain magazine, we will continue to deliver information anyway you want to receive it — in print, on our website and on our mobile site as well. Feed & Grain is there when you are looking for information, and we aim to serve all generations!
Please let us know if there is a topic you would like for us to cover in a future issue.
Reflections on agriculture's contribution to the world
Last month I attended the 2012 IDEAg Interconnectivity Conference in Altoona, IA. The conference brought together the entire interconnected agriculture sector — including large grain and livestock producers — for three days of cutting-edge education, exhibits and networking.
The opening presentation featured Kip Tom, managing member of Tom Farms LLC, based in Leesburg, IN. Tom Farms is a global production, sales and service operation, specializing in corn and soybeans, that operates over 16,000 acres in Indiana and another 4,000 acres in Argentina.
Kip began by sharing a little about his family's farming background. Then he brought up an important concern he admitted to thinking about almost daily: the task of feeding 9.3 billion people in 2050.
He went on to note the average person's caloric intake in the western hemisphere is 3,500 calories/day. In America, it’s more like 3,800 calories/day, when all we need is 1,800 to sustain ourselves. That statistic really caught my ear. What does this tell us? We are already producing enough food for this world, which is evident by the record U.S. obesity rate.
I never thought of famers as food manufacturers, but now it absolutely makes sense. Today there are some 5,000 producers who take raw resources to make a product that creates 30% of our food supply.
But still, so many people don’t understand how food is produced. They stand on the sideline and let us do it for them. Kip urged us in the crowed to get involved; to educate today’s consumers about where their food comes from.
After listening to Kip, it made me a little proud of the knowledge and experience I gained from my farming background. That’s why I enjoy working in this industry. It keeps me in touch with the good folks who work together to feed this world. All of us are experts about the part of the food chain we touch, and should be proud of our involvement in agriculture.
Welcome to our October/November issue! Thank you for investing time during this busy season to pick up, page through and read Feed & Grain magazine.
The Feed & Grain team works diligently to make sure the products we deliver meet your needs. For example, we’ve introduced new features to the magazine in response to your evolving needs and preferences, including our Digital Table of Contents in the print edition and our recurring Focus on Technology section.
Additionally, we are always updating and enhancing our website, www.FeedandGrain.com, to improve ease of use and offer more dynamic content. We developed a user-friendly Online Buyers Guide (found in the navigation bar on our home page), allowing you to search categories and find the products and services you need. We’ve also launched and continue to develop new e-newsletters, consistently providing you with more information.
These changes are part of the constant process we use to help make sure we remain relevant and important to you. Simply put, if we lose your attention — we lose.
Which is why we continue to evolve and improve our product offerings, particularly with digital technology. The “magic” of digital communication is that the more we learn about what you do and your information needs, the more targeted we can be in providing you with that information. It starts when you are gracious enough to provide us with your email address. So far, more than 1,500 of you have done so.
Please take a few minutes to register on www.FeedandGrain.com. Look for the REGISTER button at the top-center part of our home page, click it, then sign up for the e-newsletters and email notifications that you’d like to receive. Help us continue to learn more about your information needs and how to meet them.
With all of the options you have for finding information, we want to make sure Feed & Grain stays at the top of your list. We appreciate your help in doing so!
Editor’s note: For more than 30 years Arlette has been involved with Feed & Grain’s audience and advertisers, and worked with many of the associations supporting the feed and grain industry. She’s serious — please let her know what more we can and should do to meet your information needs.
And Cargill opens cutting edge horse feed facility
Chinese Delegation Signs 1 Billion in Deals with Iowa
The Hebei province, China, inked 20 separate deals with Iowa companies, for an estimated total of $1 billion. This continues the Hebei province’s long standing relationship with Iowa that stretches back to 1983. China has made recent deals with U.S. soybean organizations and the Ukraine, as it looks for ways to provide for its growing middle class. Though the details of individual agreements have not been made public, the deal will provide new jobs, economic investment and a continued relationship and access to a giant emerging market.
Man Dies in Accident at Grain Elevator in Harvey, ND
Alex Rall, an electrician, died in an accident at the Prairie Towers Elevator in Harvey, ND. During the installation of a distributor, a grain chute came loose while being moved. The chute was between 250 to 300 pounds and fell 120 feet before hitting Rall, who was leaving for the day. The accident is still under investigation by OSHA at the time of this writing.
House Passes $82 Billion Water Projects Bill
The Water Resources Reform and Development Act did the seemingly impossible; it passed through the U.S. House of Representatives with overwhelming bipartisan support. While the Farm Bill seems to be moving at a snail’s pace, with significant obstacles to overcome on the SNAP nutrition portion, the WRRDA flew through the House with a 417-3 vote and will soon go to a conference with the Senate. The bill was passed by playing up its job making potential and that it affects almost every state. The bill will make moves to allocate money in order to finance a much needed upgrade of the nation’s waterways. Some of the infrastructure being used are approaching their 100th birthdays, and the question of if they will fail has been replaced with when they will fail. Because other nations that are in direct competition with the United States are upgrading their infrastructure, the United States’ upgrades are a must in order to stay competitive in the global marketplace.
USDA Reports Corn at 39% Harvested with Soybeans at 63%
After going dark for two and a half weeks due to the government shutdown, the USDA released its first crop report of October. Wet conditions are slowing down the harvest in much of the Corn Belt, and the crop report reflects this. Corn harvested is 14 percentage points behind the five-year average and 46 points behind last year. Luckily, the maturity of the corn crop has grown to 94%, just about the five-year average. Soybeans are at 63% harvested, a 50 point rise from the last report in September and close to its five-year average.
Cargill Opens State-of-the-art Horse Feed Plant
Cargill’s new horse feed plant in Strathroy, Ontario, opened on Oct. 23. The facility will produce its Purina® equine feed and supplements and Loyall® dog and cat food. The facility cost around $11 million to build and equip and was necessary for Cargill’s goal of meeting the increasing quality demands of its customer.
It’s hard to believe, but this week’s Views marks our fourth month with the new format. As always, I want to thank you for reading and remind you to email me if you have any story ideas, comments on what news you want to hear about or just to say hey. Subscribe to Industry Watch, follow us on Twitter or like us on Facebook for all the latest news in the industry.
In the grain industry, due to its higher-than-average demographic of men in leadership positions, with most carrying the traditional baby-boomer trait of working at one place for the bulk of their careers, the issue of succession planning takes on even greater importance, according to Mike...
Perhaps the most frustrating hurdle the FSMA presents is the fact that unlike USDA’s GIPSA or APHIS inspectors, many FDA inspectors have little or no grain industry background. They’re used to inspecting food plants where you can “literally eat off of the floor,” Mosher said. “Your facility...