Magazine > August/September 2013
August/September 2013 Articles
Using Data to Your Advantage
As the ubiquity of facility automation spreads throughout the feed and grain industry, users are beginning to look for benefits beyond simply running their equipment electronically. Removing facility operations from manual control is still an undeniable advantage to automation systems, but there is also value in their often overlooked secondary function: nearly constant data collection.
“Data collection is showing to be of increased importance to today’s feed and grain facilities,”...[Read More]
East Versus West - Again
Frank Sinatra crooned that love is lovelier the second time around. But any repeat of the Drought of 2012 was less than welcome this year and it continues to impact grain flows and basis even as combines roll on the 2013 crop. The good news is all signs indicate elevators will end up with around 3 billion more bushels this season: Beginning US carryover stocks of are lower this year but total production is forecast to be around 3.4 billion bushels higher. (Corn, soybeans, sorghum, wheat,...[Read More]
GIPSA Regulations Related to Weighing of Livestock and Feed Amended
After more than five years of deliberation, including an extended period for comments from stakeholders, the Department of Agriculture's (USDA) Grain Inspection, Packers and Stockyards Administration (GIPSA) final amended regulations take effect Friday, September 20, 2013.The USDA initially provided notice of proposed rulemaking related to the weighing of livestock and feed on February 11, 2008. The extended comment period for the proposed rules ended on May 21, 2008 after 33 comments...[Read More]
Leadership Communication Skills: Listening and Being An Empathetic Leader
Colin Powell said, “Leadership is solving problems. The day soldiers stop bringing you their problems is the day you have stopped leading them. They have either lost confidence that you can help them or concluded that you do not care. Either case is a failure of leadership.” In his book, It Worked for me in Life and Leadership, Powell shares with us rules that he developed, concepts that he found effective, and stories of his life that impacted him and his leadership style.
Good leaders...[Read More]
FSMA’s Tight Deadlines, Scope of Reform Worry Feed Industry
As the Food and Drug Administration picks up the pace in promulgating Food Safety Modernization Act rules, feed facilities and suppliers are working against the clock to prepare for some of the biggest regulatory changes the feed industry—with its 900 ingredients and facilities and suppliers of all sizes—has ever faced.
“I think a lot about the ability of our industry to be sophisticated at all levels to absorb, understand and implement these kinds of controls. We’re not really sure we...[Read More]
Triple Expansion Keeps Wheat Exporter on Top
As you drive west on U.S. highway 2 in Northeastern Montana, you’ll begin to make out an enormous grain elevator on the horizon, amongst the oil wells that dot the Bakken oil field landscape. Impressive by all accounts, this high-capacity, state-of-the-art, highly automated loop track facility in Culbertson, MT, is strategically the only shuttle train facility within a 40-mile radius.
But despite its isolation, it is hardly one-of-a-kind. In fact, it is only one of a set of nearly...[Read More]
A Strong Link in the Food Chain
On July 30, a very significant event occurred for Feed & Grain magazine and the American Farm Bureau Federation. While technically an acquisition of the former by the American Farm Bureau, I rather like to think of it as a marriage of two very strong brands that are deeply-rooted in the agriculture industry. While each in its own right is important to the agriculture community, both Feed & Grain and the American Farm Bureau Federation are strengthened because of the combination.
So, who...[Read More]
Put Your Money to Work
Since 2008, the U.S. economy has remained generally grim as it’s teetered between periods of recession and slight uptick. Industries like manufacturing, construction and realty famously suffered, while others like technology and food weathered the storm less scathed. But one segment has consistently outperformed the rest throughout this tumultuous period in U.S. history: agriculture.
Given the strength of the industry, banks are eager to lend money to the grain segment, but according to...[Read More]
OSHA’s Sweep Auger Policy Comes Full Circle
After nearly five years of back-and-forth between the grain industry and OSHA over its fluctuating sweep auger policy, a recent agency memo has brought some degree of closure to the issue.
The controversy was sparked in 2008, when an insurance agent wrote to OSHA regarding its policies on whether employees could remove their harnesses and lifeline inside a bin if there were no engulfment hazards present, and if employees could operate sweep augers if the sump was not protected by grating....[Read More]
Expectations and Leadership: Dont Make them Guess
One weekend, three brothers were building a new deck at one of the brother’s home. (One of the three brothers is co-author of this column.) Running out of weekend to finish the project, tensions started to build as reality began to set in. Then, it started to rain (we are not making this up!)—slowing progress even more. The brother with the least construction experience was working as fast as he could placing joists to support the deck. Unfortunately, he was not performing the task in the...[Read More]
Country Elevator Conference Concentrates on Congressional Action
Country elevator operators will soon converge on St. Louis for the National Grain and Feed Association’s 42nd Country Elevator Conference and Trade Show (CEC). The CEC is the largest gathering of country elevator personnel in the United States. The show will be hosted at the Hyatt Regency hotel next to the St. Louis’ Arch. The tradesshow portion opens on Sunday Dec. 8th at 4:00pm with doors closing on Monday Dec. 9th at 7:00pm. The Confrance portion will be going on any time the show...[Read More]
Futures Trading 101 tell us a futures spread is the price difference between two futures contracts. A futures carry is when the deferred contract price is higher than the more nearby month. A futures inverse, or an inverted market, is when the nearby price is higher than a deferred price. Futures spreads can be bought or sold, and have a daily price limit equal to double the daily limit move of the underlying futures.
An important principle of futures spreads is that with storable...[Read More]
A Bittersweet Summer
I recently celebrated my five-year anniversary as a full-time employee of Cygnus Business Media, Feed & Grain magazine's former parent company, and nearly simultaneously reached another milestone in my career: being named editor of Feed & Grain.
Over the past five years, I have worked for several Cygnus publications in various industries (all while serving as part-time Feed & Grain staffer), but I always felt most at home among the folks in the feed and grain sector. Through my travels as...[Read More]
Identifying the Core of Your Business
In today’s market, companies often lose sight of their core. Most feed or grain companies have ambitions to grow their business but few have an actual plan, beyond working harder. With the agricultural sector’s increased understanding of how to optimize animal and plant performance, there is continuous pressure to keep up with genetic improvements. This manifests itself through choices made by owners and presidents whether to enter specialist or niche markets, open up new geographies and...[Read More]
New Shuttle Car Loader Facility Prepares for Takeoff
Driving south from I-80 on Highway 81 toward Fairmont, NE, you’ll see plenty of elevators and grain legs jaggedly brushing the skyline. Nearing Fairmont, you quickly spot a new elevator, about a mile west of the Highway 6 and 81 intersection. You have to wonder, why here in the midst of so many other grain operations, with an ethanol plant a few miles south, did someone sprout a 2.1 million bushel facility?
You’ll get an answer rather quickly. It’s there because “everything fell into...[Read More]
Accurate Nutrition Without the Lab
The United Nations’ department of Economic and Social Affairs released a report in 2012 that the world’s population will reach an estimated 9 billion by the year 2050 (http://esa.un.org/unpd/wpp/index.htm). This estimate has placed a great deal of emphasis on agriculture and non-agriculture entities to determine the best way(s) to produce food for future generations. The current facts are that the amount of arable land to plow and sow is limited, and meat consumption is increasing as...[Read More]