Mobile Mania: New Use for Hand-held Technology

April/May 2012 | Special Report | By Elise Schafer

Start with a decades-long adoption of operations automation, add unmatched dedication to quality control and sprinkle generously with state-of-the-art mobile devices for maintenance tracking. This yields one award-winning feed division, belonging to one of the nation's largest farmer-owned co-ops: Richmond, VA-based Southern States Cooperative.

Southern States Cooperative’s Park City, KY, feed mill was built in 1977 with cutting edge (for the time) automation technology in its receiving,...

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Feed Industry Investigates Future Challenges

April/May 2012 | Feature | By Elise Schafer

By the year 2050, the United Nations projects the world's population will swell to 9 billion. That's 2 billion more people's mouths to feed than there are today. Sustaining the population at that level will put more strain on agriculture than ever before, but it's a challenge that today's feed industry is already preparing to address.

With up to a $50,000 grant from the Institute for Feed Education & Research (IFEEDER), the American Feed Industry Association (AFIA) has commissioned a study...

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How to Improve Grain Quality Through Hazard Prevention

April/May 2012 | Feature | By Jackie Roembke

Depending on the context of the discussion, "grain quality" has many connotations. From moisture content to density, the variables dictating the perception of grain quality hinges on measurements the specifications outlined in a customer contract and, ultimately how the commodity will be consumed. Aside from the physical and intrinsic characteristics of the lot, the management of grain sanitation yields its own set of allowances and penalties in today's regulatory environment -...

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Nonconformity With Delivery Obligations Under NGFA Trade Rules

April/May 2012 | Departments | By Todd Langel

As anyone involved in the grain or feed ingredient business knows, managing the flow of commodities between producers, handlers and end users requires constant attention to ensure that the timing and quality of commodity deliveries meets customer expectations. Market volatility, thin margins, high working capital requirements, and constant efforts to reduce transaction costs translate into a system in which a single failed delivery can have devastating impacts on overall profitability....

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Risk Management Goes to Grad School

April/May 2012 | Departments | By Diana Klemme

Before 1848 farmers brought wagons of grain to Chicago and took the price a buyer offered or returned home. Some opted to dump their grain in the Lake when prices got too cheap. The system was easy, but not very useful. The 1848 launch of the CBOT introduced forward cash prices, which evolved over the years into standardized ag futures contracts at Chicago, Kansas City and Minneapolis. Managing risk became more complex but the results were worth the effort for farmers, as well as for...

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Tips for Purchasing Automated Palletizing Systems

April/May 2012 | Feature | By Jackie Roembke

Feed mills of all sizes have long benefitted from the efficiencies offered by automated palletizing systems, yet many whom have not adopted the technology may be unaware of how far robotic systems have evolved in the last decade.

“I think some consumers still have the mindset that robots are too complex, but now 99% of the time any issues can be resolved with a phone call,” says Phil Wright of Icon Robotics, an integrator and manufacturer of palletizing and packaging systems, a division of...

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Technology Takeover

April/May 2012 | Departments | By Arlette Sambs

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...

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Management Implications of the Food Safety Modernization Act

April/May 2012 | Departments | By Jeff Kronenberg, Dr. John Foltz and Dr. Joan Fulton

The Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA) was signed into law a little over a year ago — on January 4, 2011. According to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, it is the “most sweeping reform of our food safety laws in more than 70 years, and aims to ensure the U.S. food supply is safe by shifting the focus from responding to contamination to preventing it.” Registration under this new law is not only required of manufacturers of human food products — but also pet food and animal feed...

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If Selling Is In Your Future Move Quickly

April/May 2012 | Departments | By George Spilka

There are many reasons why middle market owners wanting to sell their companies during the next ten years should consummate a sale no later than 2014, preferably sooner. Although most points discussed in this article pertain with equal relevance to all companies regardless of size, the article is primarily directed at middle market companies, which are firms with transaction values between $5 and $250 million.

I am more optimistic about the prospects for the short and intermediate-term...

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NGFA’s 116th Annual Convention

April/May 2012 | Feature | By Jackie Roembke

The National Grain & Feed Association held the 116th edition of its Annual Convention in Charleston, SC , March 18-20. The historic downtown Charleston Place Hotel proven a formidable backdrop for the three-day event packed with the perfect balance of business, networking opportunities and leisure.

After the open-to-all-attendees committee meetings adjourned on the first day of the convention, attendees made their way through the exhibitors of the Ag Village and into one of two ballrooms...

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A Quality Aeration Strategy

February/March 2012 | Online Exclusive |

Four years ago, Calgary, AB-based OPIsystems Inc. launched OPI-integris to introduce the U.S. market to a novel grain management approach that has been widely adopted throughout the world for more than 25 years. The company’s mantra is “be proactive, not reactive” with respect to grain conditioning.

Utilizing a myriad of grain temperature and moisture monitoring components, OPI-integris claims to deliver the highest return on grain investments with its Advanced Grain Management solution,...

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Trans-Pacific Partnership Progresses

February/March 2012 | Feature | By Elise Schafer

What originally started as the Trans-Pacific Strategic Economic Partnership Agreement in 2005 among Singapore, Brunei, New Zealand and Chile — known as the Pacific Four (P4) Agreement — has evolved into what is now called the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), potentially one of the most influential Free Trade Agreements in the last decade. While the TPP requires every country participating to eliminate all tariff lines by 2015, its main objective is to eliminate many non-tariff trade...

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Long-term Planning Offers Gains in Grains

February/March 2012 | Online Exclusive | Jackie Roembke

Feed & Grain’s editor Jackie Roembke sat down for an informal discussion with Elizabeth Hund, senior vice president and division head of U.S. Bank Food Industries, to discuss the current state of global credit markets and strategies borrowers can implement to better manage their risk.

Feed & Grain: In your opinion, what trends are influencing the credit market?

Elizabeth Hund: Right now, the largest issue is what’s going on in Europe — particularly the impact of the European financial...

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OSHA Amplifies Efforts

February/March 2012 | Editors Note | Jackie Roembke

Popularized in by the misspeak of former president George W. Bush, we're all familiar the following idiom, though I ask that you allow me to take liberties with it for the purposes of this column: "Cite me once, shame on me; cite me twice, shame on me and the entire enterprise." Thank you for humoring me, but this was the first thing that came to mind as Eric Conn, head of OSHA practice with law firm Epstein Becker Green, outlined OSHA's new strategy for adding new members to its least...

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Aeration Upkeep and Optimization Guide

February/March 2012 | Feature | By Elise Schafer

The practice of aeration is used in grain handling facilities to maintain the condition of stored commodities after harvest. Guidelines for aeration are based on long-established scientific principles involving static pressure, relative humidity and moisture content.

Aeration may seem like a complicated science, but it can be distilled to one simple concept: Evenly distributing air to maintain a safe storage temperature will result in the desired grain condition.

This is achieved through a...

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