Warning: Grain Tsunami Incoming

February/March 2013 | Departments | By Diana Klemme

Grain merchandising is a never-ending series of challenges, and 2012 crop has been that in spades. Drought-decimated corn and soybean crops left elevators with less grain to handle and less revenue. Buyers and sellers alike have had to adapt to record high basis levels on corn and soybeans, tight holding by farmers, and volatile futures spreads. At least wheat offered some reasonable revenue opportunities!

Even bigger challenges lie ahead. September 1 combined stocks of corn, soybeans, and...

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Motivating Employees: Carrots Beyond Salary and Benefits

February/March 2013 | Departments | By Drs. John Foltz and Jay Akridge

Almost all managers have heard (and likely used) of both carrots (rewards and recognition) and sticks (punishments or censures) as methods to work with your employees.  In this column we draw on a recent book entitled, The Carrot Principle, by Adrian Gostick and Chester Elton who base their recommendations on a 10 year study of 200,000 managers and employees — where they state that top managers (as measured by performance of their firms on Return on Equity, Return on Assets and Operating...

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Global Feed Industry Collaborates to Benchmark Livestock Sustainability

February/March 2013 | Feature | Elise Schafer

As members of the feed and agriculture industry, we slightly cringe when restaurant servers describe their grass-fed, locally sourced beef as though the alternative should be avoided; we shudder when television cooking show hosts refer to “meatless Monday” as having an overwhelming impact on the environment; and we shake our heads in dismay when animal rights activists claim it takes more than 2,400 gallons of water to produce 1 pound of meat.  

It’s not that we don’t support small farms...

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Loads of Benefits Delivered by a Transportation Subsidiary

February/March 2013 | Departments | By Stephen H. Paul and Fenton D. Strickland

Whether your business is in the production of feed, the manufacture of pet foods, milling operations — or any other manner of production or processing — you must be able deliver your product to the customer. If a producer does not engage an outside carrier to haul its product, then chances are that one of the most material and burdensome parts of its operation occurs in the maintenance and operation of its transportation fleet.

Improved safety, compliance and tax savings

Running a...

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Egg Ranch Cracks into Feed Production

February/March 2013 | Special Report | By Jackie Roembke

From its humble beginning in Guy and Nell Hickman’s backyard in 1944, Hickman’s Family Farms has grown to become the largest egg producer in the southwest. The family owns and operates three Arizona locations: one in Maricopa and two in Arlington. In total, it houses 5.4 million layer hens — and an additional 1.3 million replacement pullets — and produces 2.3 million dozen eggs a week with distribution spanning six states, including Hawaii.

The success of Hickman’s egg and egg product...

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To the Rescue: How Salvage Operations can Minimize Commodity Losses

February/March 2013 | Feature | By Elise Schafer

Preparation 101: the Pillars of Safety, part I of this two-part series, focused on how grain and feed facility managers can prevent emergencies by preparing their staffs for a variety of disasters and following three fundamental safety rules: keep written safety policies, conduct frequent training and drills, and maintain a good relationship with first responders.

Part II takes into consideration that some catastrophic events, whether “acts of God (usually weather related)” or pure...

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Are Computers Needed in Agriculture?

February/March 2013 | Departments | Elise Schafer

The world is changing rapidly. When I first took over my mom and dad’s agriculture computer systems business 20 years ago, it was a challenge to get cooperatives and other ag-related businesses to see the advantage of automating their accounting, managing the company’s books with computerized management software.

The systems were shockingly expensive and needed staff to run them. Moving into the late 90s, the challenge was the impression that computer systems only cost money and didn’t...

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10 Sweep Auger Safety Principles

February/March 2013 | Online Exclusive | By Amanda R. Strainis-Walker and Eric J. Conn

Attorneys with the law firm Epstein Becker Green's OSHA practice office in Washington, D.C. recently resolved a citation delivered by OSHA to an IL grain company due to an sweep auger violation. The citation was withdrawn and the agency agreed to allow employees to work in grain bins with energized sweep augers in the future assuming they comply with the agreed upon terms of the 10 Sweep Auger Safety Principles outlined in its settlement agreement. 

Below is the list of Sweep Auger...

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Compliance and Sustainability Dominate IPPE Agenda

February/March 2013 | Feature | Elise Schafer

The 2013 International Production and Processing Expo (IPPE) once again gave feed industry professionals a bird's eye view of today's most pressing issues, opportunities and challenges facing the industry. Providing that information was the American Feed Industry Association, the sponsor of the International Feed Expo, one of the three shows co-located at IPPE 2013.

AFIA presented educational programs including the International Feed Industry Institute and the annual Pet Food Conference as...

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Sweeping Change Ahead?

February/March 2013 | Editors Note | Jackie Roembke

Since I began my tenure as Feed & Grain’s editor, OSHA’s 2009 Letter of Interpretation regarding bin entry and sweep auger operation has remained a point of strife and confusion among our readers.

In the letter, a response to an insurance agent’s inquiry about the restrictions involved with employees working in a grain bin with an energized sweep auger, OSHA stated that it is in violation of the Grain Handling Standard (1910.272 (g) (1) (ii) to do so unless the employer eliminates all...

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Preparation 101: The Pillars of Safety

February/March 2013 | Feature | By Elise Schafer

It's often said an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. Perhaps in the grain industry a better analogy is a kernel of prevention is worth a bushel of cure, but however you look at it, safety experts and emergency responders close to the grain industry couldn't agree more.

Preparing for natural disasters, explosions and other emergencies should rank among facility managers' highest priorities  — right up there with boosting efficiency, meeting regulatory compliance and increasing...

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GEAPS and K-State Expand Distance Education Program

January 2013 | Departments | By Douglas Forst

To meet increased interest and demand, GEAPS and Kansas State University have worked diligently to create a program that is expanding each year in scope and value, and 2013 is no exception. We’re adding four new courses and updating another. And we’re also likely to see the first students earn our new Grain Operations Management Credential. 

The credentialing program, which began in 2012, adds an important dimension to the distance education program.  This is the industry’s only credential...

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Practical Application of the Sweep Auger Safety Principles

January 2013 | Online Exclusive | By Amanda R. Strainis-Walker and Eric J. Conn

As part of the settlement negotiations that resulted in the Ten Sweep Auger Safety Principles, the cited employer also developed and submitted for OSHA’s review and approval, a specific Sweep Auger Policy that included actual, practical engineering and administrative controls the employer intended to use at its facilities.  The following is a non-exhaustive list of the engineering and administrative controls that OSHA affirmatively approved as being consistent with the Ten Sweep Auger...

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Sweeping Changes Come to OSHA’s Sweep Auger Enforcement

January 2013 | Feature | By Amanda R. Strainis-Walker and Eric J. Conn

The Occupational Safety & Health Administration’s (OSHA) roller coaster ride of enforcement policy in connection to sweep augers and bin entry has taken another major turn.

After a recent string of confusing interpretation letters issued by OSHA effectively banned the practice of employees working with sweep augers inside of grain bins without nullifying the equipment’s functionality by requiring the auger to be guarded on all sides, a ground-breaking settlement of an OSHA case against an...

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Intuition, Purpose & Opportunity Impel 50/50 Joint Venture

January 2013 | Special Report | By Jackie Roembke

The purpose of every corporate mission statement is define the reason the organization exists and provide a framework for how it conducts business now and in the future; however, how firmly — and creatively — it sticks to this path is another story.

From the top down, United Farmers Cooperative (UFC), a farmer-owned co-op operating in southern Minnesota, keeps true to it’s promise to member owners: “To provide, products, services and technology in a manner extraordinary enough to add value...

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