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Identifying the Core of Your Business

August/September 2013 | Feature | By Damien McLoughlin

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...

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New Shuttle Car Loader Facility Prepares for Takeoff

August/September 2013 | Special Report | By Mike Martin

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...

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The View From the Starship Enterprise

June/July 2013 | Departments | By Diana Klemme

We can’t buy corn for anything these days,” Mark said to his scale operator, Larry. “If it’s tough in June, what will it be like by August? Is there any corn left out there?”  

Merchandisers and managers across large parts of the country are struggling to buy old-crop corn and soybeans, despite record high basis values. Accumulating a train-load quantity seems a distant memory for many managers, and a few soybean crush plants are already shutting down until harvest due to tight soybean...

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Spring Brings New Beginnings

April/May 2013 | Editors Note | Jackie Roembke

Despite the recently erratic weather — snowstorms delaying planting, flooding from endless days of rain, lingering pockets of drought, manic temperature swings — I think it’s finally safe to say spring has sprung. 

After the challenges of 2012 — many of the effects of which are still being felt up and down the grain and feed supply chain — the ag sector seems to be optimistic about the 2013 growing season and subsequent harvest. According to the USDA’s World Agricultural Supply and...

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How to Deal with the Aftermath of a Catastrophic Event

April/May 2013 | Departments | By Mark D. Aljets

A grain dust explosion at a facility may be the most traumatic event a grain company will ever face. In the first hours after the explosion occurs, there needs to be a team in place to address all of the issues that literally will be coming at the company in rapid fire succession. 

All of the following recommendations should be ready to be implemented even when the fires may still be burning.  Some of these are common sense observations. Others may be issues a grain company has never...

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How to Utilize Data to Make Management Decisions

April/May 2013 | Departments | By Drs. John Foltz and Joan Fulton

“Figures don’t lie, but liars do figure.”

“Lies, damned lies and statistics.”

Although the definitive source for the first quote is uncertain it has been attributed to several individuals including Carroll D. Wright and Mark Twain. Mark Twain popularized the second quote in the U.S. Anyone who has worked with data knows firsthand how you can come up with a different conclusion depending upon how the data is presented, understanding the first phrase very well. However, numbers and data have...

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Protecting Stored Grain to Maximize Quality

June/July 2013 | Special Report | By Tom Phillips, David Hagstrum and Gerrit Cuperus

Stored grain, as with other durable stored commodities and their value-added products, are at their highest quality just after harvest or manufacturing, and are at risk of decreased quality during storage from the depredations of insects, molds, vertebrate pests and physical damage. A new technical training book produced by Kansas State University titled, Stored Product Protection, details the types of pests and damaging agents, methods for management, prevention of infestation, control...

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Behind the Scenes: Cargill AgHorizons’ Hales Point, TN, River Terminal

April/May 2013 | Feature | By Jackie Roembke

In early 2011 Cargill AgHorizons awarded Kajima Building & Design (KBD) Group Inc. the bid to overhauled its outdated Hales Point, TN, barge-loading facility located on the banks of the Mississippi River. The plan involved expansion of its storage and handling capacity and a structural foundation capable of meeting the demands of river terminal operation. However, given the unpredictable nature of Ol' Man River, the Atlanta, GA-based design/build firm had to overcome a number of unique...

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‘Strong’ Phosphine Resistance Found in U.S. Stored Grain Insects

June/July 2013 | Feature | By George Opit and Thomas Phillips

The lesser grain borer (Fig. 1) and the red flour beetle (Fig. 2) are two major pests of stored grain in the United States, and are often combated with phosphine fumigation. These fumigations are starting to fail, raising questions about their effectiveness. Resistance in stored-product insect pests has become a major problem in many countries, with very high levels of resistance found in some parts of Asia and Africa and, more recently, in Australia and South America. Drs. George Opit,...

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Food Fight

February/March 2013 | Editors Note | Jackie Roembke

The 117th edition of the National Grain and Feed Association’s (NGFA) Annual Convention, held in San Francisco in mid-March, drove this sentiment home in its general sessions: While agriculture is one of the greatest growth industries, the coming years will be filled with the unique challenge of restoring the public’s trust in the food system. For those working and living agriculture, it should come as no surprise that much of the content presented by the event’s diverse set of speakers...

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Getting the Measure of Mycotoxins

February/March 2013 | Feature | By Dr. Terry Mabbett

Getting the measure of mycotoxins is no easy task especially in the wide range of cereal crop commodities providing feed grain and the main ingredients of finished feed. Many field fungal pathogens and storage molds synthesize mycotoxins. Each group of fungi, including the aflatoxin-producing Aspergillus molds or the large number of Fusarium fungal pathogens delivering a broadside of Deoxynivalenol (DON), Zearalenone (ZEA), T-2 and HT-2 mycotoxins, has its own environmental requirements.

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Beyond the Scale

February/March 2013 | Departments | By Steve Day

Operations management software can deliver benefits that go far beyond the scale to not only improve the grain handling operations themselves but also streamline back-office functions and improve customer service – from faster weighing processes and traffic flow to speeding up invoicing to improving accuracy and communications.

At a grain handling facility, generating a scale ticket is the first step in managing the operations for inbound and outbound shipments. Operations management...

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GEAPS Exchange Education Sessions

February/March 2013 | Feature | By Mike Martin

In late February, grain elevator operators descended upon the land of bourbon and thoroughbreds for the 2013 edition of the GEAPS Exchange. The event, held at the Kentucky International Convention Center in the heart of Louisville, featured a diverse line-up of educational sessions, which tackled many of the industry’s critical issues, and a trade show with more than 300 exhibitors eager to showcase their latest equipment.

GEAPS Exchanges focus on education and information that provide...

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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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