June 25, 2014 | Grain Hedge Insights | Cody Bills | Views: 342

Wheat Basis/Futures Showing Strength

Wheat basis out of the gulf and futures both moved higher today

Planning on planting this week? Visit us at GrainHedge.com to get live quotes on your mobile phone or tablet in the cab of the tractor!


June 05, 2014 | | Views: 920
June 03, 2014 | Agriculture’s Other Side | Melissa Erdman | Views: 1289

Breaking the Glass Ceiling

A female reader shares her experiences as a woman in agriculture.

Breaking the Glass Ceiling

Have you ever walked into a room full of people and been the only one that is “different?” — I have, and I do frequently.

Welcome to being a woman in commerical agriculture, a still male dominated field. In many of my classes at Michigan State University, they told us this, but it was hard to believe when most of my classes had a higher percentage of women than men. This disparity tells me that the agriculture world is changing — slowly but surely.

Working at an elevator is different from where most of my colleagues ended up. At the elevator where I work, there are a total of three females out of 50 employees. I am the only one who is not in administration out of those three women.

We have never had a woman stay in a position outside administration for more than six months. There are many reasons why, but in my mind it all comes down to the fact that it is a challenge. I also have had days where I want to throw in the towel, but I am determined to make a change in the ag world. My goal is to make it known who I am and what I represent. The entire world is changing, and women are taking a stand and moving up in all aspects of society. Agriculture is not any different.

I work with farmers on a daily basis, and I understand how their parents and grandparents grew up. They were told women were put on earth to take care of men and their families. Men were the breadwinners and women stayed home. I understand this mentality and try to handle each situation with someone of that generation with it mind. When I get out of my truck on a farm to visit a producer, I am being judged. I know this. I have been told multiple times “Ah, um, you’re not, uh, what I expected.” I smile kindly and ask “Well, what were you expecting — a gorilla?” I make a joke to make it less awkward. I’ll have to prove myself a million times to win over a producer’s trust. Some I honestly don’t think they mean to, but they just have a hard time taking advice or direction from, not only a woman — but a young woman. I also find this to be very true with the employees that work for me in my division.

I am in charge of one of our divisions at the elevator. I have all men working under me, and all are older than I am. It has proved to be a challenge for them to take me seriously and do as I ask. It has gotten better, but we have a long way to go.

Women also work differently than men for physical reasons. For example, one day I went out to help a co-worker soil test in a field. We had been working for hours, and I suddenly could not hold the urge to have to go to the bathroom! I said to myself, "oh boy, now what? Where can I go to the bathroom in the middle of this open field?" I knew the co-worker I was with well, so I asked him, “where am I to go to the bathroom?” He laughed and replied with, “I never thought about that for you. I just stand behind the jeep and go.” I then said “well isn’t that just great for you!” We both laughed before I took the jeep to a fence line.

And we're different in the way we think and  express emotions. It is no secret that men and women view things in differently, but neither way is necessarily wrong. We all need to remember to view everyone’s opinion, even if it isn’t the way you would do something. Though women express their emotions more easily than men, this does not make them the weaker of the sexes, it is just the way we express ourselves. Men need to remember that sometimes being blunt is not the way to get the job done. Just a word to the wise: watch your words and be aware of how you say things. Women tend to pick up on tones of voices and word-choice very easily.

Lastly, I would like to acknowledge how much harder women work to move up in not only their company, but through society. I want everyone to understand that if we get a promotion, we deserve that promotion. We got it through going above and beyond the call of duty. We put more sweat, tears and hours into it than you may realize. The next time you or someone around you judges a woman on “why” she got a promotion; just stop yourself. Women are going to continue to break the “glass ceiling.” So, to the entire world, I just want to say “accept it.” Women are here to stay, and we will continue to be a force to be reckoned with. We all want that top dog position, so let the best man or woman win.

April 22, 2014 | Views on the News | Steven Kilger | Views: 1154

[BLOG] A Look at the New and Improved Industry Watch

Feed & Grain continues to update its digital offerings to improve user experience

[BLOG] A Look at the New and Improved Industry Watch

 “Views on the News” is taking a break from its regular format this week.  Instead of a list describing the top five news postings from the past week, it will focus on the changes to the most popular way our readers consume the news —Feed & Grain’s Industry Watch eNews.

Over the last few weeks, you may have noticed changes throughout Feed & Grain’s digital offerings. We started by launching a new website design, followed by a new app for iPad and android tablets, then an interactive digital issue and now a new newsletter. The fresh features have been designed with readers in mind. They are easier to navigate, more engaging to read, and ultimately, further immerse you in the world of feed and grain. The new newsletter is user friendly, but let me give a behind-thescenes look at why we made some of the changes we did and how they can benefit you.   

  1. The first change you may notice is the new headline of the newsletter. While the lead article headline is still the email subject line, the newsletter now features a headline at the top of the email that summarizes what appears in this issue of Industry Watch eNews. It will be an easy way to gauge if you want to read on … or move on to the other pressing issues of your day and save Industry Watch for when you have free time.
  2. When we explained our industry to an outside consultant, showing him some of the equipment and facilities, he exclaimed “you guys are a big industry; you deserve big photos.” We’ve taken that to heart, and you may have noticed that the new newsletter features big, beautiful images. Larger pictures have been sprinkled throughout the redesign to show you news, products, logos and stunning images of agriculture in the size and detail that our industry deserves.
  3. The section we call Breaking News will now feature the top two news stories from the current day. These stories will often send ripples throughout the feed and grain industries, or agriculture as a whole.  These are the stories with the widest range of interest, and if you only have time to read a few, we highly recommend these.
  4. The last part of the newsletter will house Web Exclusives, more Industry News and Supplier Briefs. Excellent information for those who want to know what companies, associations, other facilities and academia are up to. It will also house all of Feed & Grain’s made-for -web content.     

We hope you have fun exploring everything new Feed & Grain has to offer. We’ve always prided ourselves on being the best at what we do, and these new developments are a continuation of that ever increasing goal.  Let us know what you think of the new e-newsletter or any of the other new features that have been rolled out over the past few weeks. Don’t forget to email me if you have any story ideas, comments on what news you want to hear about, or just to say, "Hey." Follow us on Twitter or like us on Facebook for all the latest news in the industry. See you next week.

April 10, 2014 | Editor's View | Elise Schafer | Views: 1704

Feed Industry Feels ‘Lack of Recognition’

AFIA reacts to FDA’s denial to extend the animal food rule comment period

Feed Industry Feels ‘Lack of Recognition’

Last month, the FDA denied several feed and grain industry groups’ request to extend the comment period for the “Current Good Manufacturing Practice and Hazard Analysis and Risk-based Preventive Controls for Food for Animals,” under the Food Safety Modernization Act. Commonly referred to as “the animal food rule,” it will affect nearly every feed manufacturer in the nation, and does not provide the exemptions the industry feels are necessary. Some of the changes proposed include new CGMPs for facility operations, equipment design and process controls, as well as mandates on Hazard Analysis and Risk-Based Preventive Controls.

Among the groups requesting an extension was the American Feed Industry Association, the largest organization representing the business, legislative and regulatory interests of the U.S. animal feed industry. Richard Sellers, AFIA’s senior vice president of legislative and regulatory affairs, expressed disappointment over the decision in a statement, noting that the agency received an extension by the courts; however, it did not pay it forward by granting the feed industry the same privilege.

I caught up with Leah Wilkinson, AFIA's director of ingredients, petfood and state affairs, for more on the association’s reaction to FDA’s denial of their request. Wilkinson is heading up the mammoth task of compiling AFIA’s comments on the FSMA’s proposed rules. She said “[We] continue to be surprised by the lack of recognition from FDA on how massive of a change these proposed rules will be on the animal food industry. With the human food industry receiving eleven months to comment, AFIA thought seeking additional time over the five months given seemed rational, but it appears FDA concluded otherwise.”

Despite their hurdles, the AFIA met the March 31 comment period deadline; however, the additional time would have allowed for further analysis and examples to justify their positions. Wilkinson explained “As a member-driven organization, AFIA utilizes its members and committee structure to review proposed regulations and legislation. In this particular case, AFIA has been working diligently with 80 individuals from 50 different member companies who volunteered their time to participate in our work groups for FSMA. These members broke into work groups and sub-work groups to review different portions of the proposed rule, develop a position and then draft the text for the comments.”

But considering the diversity within the feed industry itself, Wilkinson noted that the AFIA carefully examines and evaluates its positions’ potential effect across its entire membership before submitting comments. It takes time to “make sure we have input from the varied segments of the animal food industry to assure everyone is aware and will not be negatively impacted by the proposal or AFIA’s positions. [The] FSMA is the most significant change to how the feed industry is regulated since 1958, and our review and comments have required much thought and analysis for how it will impact the industry.”

Despite AFIA voicing concerns over the enormous implications of the rule, don’t expect the FDA to issue a re-proposal. Instead, it will publish revised language, and the AFIA is committed to making the feed industry’s interests known throughout this process.

“We have repeatedly told FDA from the start that we anticipate additional issues will be identified after the comment period deadline and that we will raise those issues with the agency when they do. After the final rules are published and efforts are made in earnest to comply, AFIA will survey our membership for an understanding of how small to medium-sized firms are adjusting. If more time is needed to comply, AFIA will petition the agency with adequate justification to request more time for compliance.”

In January, the FDA published its “Sanitary Transportation of Human and Animal Food Proposed Rule,” with a comment deadline of May 31. The rule covers less ground and is more focused, and Wilkinson anticipated that the AFIA will be able to provide comments by the set deadline utilizing its work groups and members to review the rule’s impacts.

In addition to AFIA’s comments on the industry’s behalf, you can make your own voice heard by clicking here to comment directly to the FDA before the end of next month. Look for more information on the proposed transportation rule in the article “Industry Braces for Rules Rollout,” in our April/May 2014 issue.

April 08, 2014 | By Lin Shen, Wilbur Ellis | Views: 2372

Cows and Their Craft: The Brew-to-Moo Connection

Beer co-product is a great source of feed, containing up to 20% protein dry weight and up to 60% fiber

Cows and Their Craft: The Brew-to-Moo Connection

The “brew-to-moo” connection, which involves sourcing cattle feed from spent grain created after brewing beer, isn’t new – it actually dates back to the advent of beer. As the amount of spent grain resulting from production continues to increase, there is a growing need for a sustainable method of disposal as producers reassess the way they manage their co-products. Large-scale brewing can provide large quantities of spent grain, with up to 10 tons produced per brew and constituting as much as 85% of a brewery’s total co-product. Not surprisingly, this presents a potential problem for breweries as production bottlenecks can quickly occur without quick and expedient disposal of these products. 

Since brewers have little storage for spent grain, there is an opportunity to address the challenging storage problem by partnering with feed marketers. Rather than become waste headed for the landfill, discarded materials become valuable resources that offer valuable nutrition to animals and also become important revenue streams for brewers. Increasingly, beer co-product is being used to feed animals because it is a great source of nutrition, containing up to 20% protein dry weight and up to 60% fiber.

As a leading agricultural marketer and distributor dedicated to environmental sustainability, Wilbur-Ellis helps various food processors identify alternative, sustainable solutions to manage their co-product waste. In addition to helping suppliers and customers find different market opportunities, the company also provides supply chain management support to ensure regulatory compliance and minimize risk in the process. The infographic above demonstrates one of the many ways Wilbur-Ellis helps suppliers make efficient use of our food supply by turning co-products into marketable animal feed ingredients. 

March 14, 2014 | Editor's View | Elise Schafer | Views: 1705

Five Things to Love about the New FeedandGrain.com

Feed & Grain magazine launches a new and improved website

Five Things to Love about the New FeedandGrain.com

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 website 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 website, 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!​

March 06, 2014 | Mace Thornton | Views: 1223

Succession Planning: Who Will Lead Tomorrow’s Grain Industry?

GEAPS speaker expresses concern as the retirement rate reaches up to 12% in our field

Succession Planning: Who Will Lead Tomorrow's Grain Industry?

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.

March 06, 2014 | Editor's View | Elise Schafer | Views: 1579

FSMA Compliance: You’re Closer than You Think

Food safety expert says your feed or grain facility likely already meets many FSMA rules

FSMA Compliance: You’re Closer than You Think

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.” 

February 26, 2014 | Views on the News | Steven Kilger | Views: 807

Views on the News: Exports Dominate the News, and Another Train Derailment

Plus, Chipotle makes a new video

Views on the News: Exports Dominate the News, and Another Train Derailment

The top stories for the week of Feb. 17 are …


  1. Two Hurt in Derailment at CHS Grain Elevator in Lowder, IL
  2. China Dumps Grain Policy to Boost Meat Production
  3. Canada Eyes Animal Feed as Porcine Epidemic Diarrhea Virus Spreads
  4. Cargill to Reject for Export Crops with New GMO Syngenta Corn
  5. AFIA Releases Statement Regarding Chipotles Farmed and Dangerous

Two Hurt in Derailment at CHS Grain Elevator in Lowder, IL

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. 

China Dumps Grain Policy to Boost Meat Production

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.

Canada Eyes Animal Feed as Porcine Epidemic Diarrhea Virus Spreads

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.

Cargill to Reject for Export Crops with New GMO Syngenta Corn

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.

AFIA Releases Statement Regarding Chipotle’s “Farmed and Dangerous

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.

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