Tying The Islands Of Automation Together

February/March 2012 | Departments | By Jason Grahek

As automation continues to grow in grain storage facilities, it can be challenging — for many reasons — to implement the right automation plan. Many facilities have operated for years with existing infrastructure and disparate control systems from days of the past, such as pushbuttons, switches and lights.

Typically, automation systems grow little by little over time and become a hybrid of antiquated hardwired controls along with programmable logic controllers and human machine interfaces....

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Ultrasonic vs. Radar Level Measurement in a Grain Shipping Terminal

February/March 2012 | Online Exclusive |

State of the art ultrasonic level measurement equipment was installed in 1997 on 42 silos at Cargill’s Irving Elevator in Portland, Oregon. The equipment was to provide level data  to an existing PLC which would then use the data for alarm and control and make the data available to a graphic display in the control room which was being added as part of the level measurement system. The goal was to improve utilization of the silos and decrease demurrage fees on rail cars and ships by...

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8 Essential Operations Management Software Features

February/March 2012 | Feature | By Jackie Roembke

In the world of agribusiness software development, three key trends have driven innovation: the rapid speed of technological advancement; the consolidation of the private elevators into multi-division, multi-location conglomerates; and the volatility of commodity markets. Agribusinesses began overhauling how they collect and use data decades ago, but today’s operations management software has been tailored to assist sites in managing their risk exposure. Instant access to real-time...

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Industry Reaction to USDA Office Closures

February/March 2012 | Departments | By John D. Shively and Kim J Walker

The U.S. Department of Agriculture ushered in the new year at the American Farm Bureau Federation Annual Meeting on January 9, with Secretary Tom Vilsack's announcement of USDA's "Blueprint for Better Services."  This initiative will close 259 USDA offices across the country in 2012.  Vilsack explained that the closures were required because the operating budget for USDA has been cut by $3 billion between 2010 and 2012.  He assured the nation that the closures in the food safety area "are...

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Risky Business

February/March 2012 | Departments | By Drs. John Foltz and Jay Akridge

Everything we do has some risk. Walking down the street you could get hit by a car, or an asteroid for that matter; eating an ice cream cone you could choke on the cone or get sick from bacteria in the ice cream. There are risks in investing in a new feed mill — the technology may change, sales may drop such that your payback period lengthens, or the crane installing new bins for the feed mill could fall over and destroy some of your existing grain storage — but some risks can have a...

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IFEEDER Raises $1 Million

February/March 2012 | Departments |

On Jan. 25, at the International Poultry Expo /International Feed Expo in Atlanta, IFEEDER conducted a luncheon to update the media, donors and industry stakeholders about IFEEDER’s progress on its two year anniversary.  IFEEDER, The Institute for Feed Education and Research, was launched at IPE/IFE in 2010 with great interest to the U.S. feed and food industries.

The mission of IFEEDER is “To Sustain the Future of Food and Feed Production Through Education and Research.”  After two years...

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Let’s Talk About the Weather

January 2012 | Editors Note | Jackie Roembke

Occasionally, I find myself in a conversation with a stranger or an acquaintance, cringing as I catch myself mindlessly talking about the weather. Dicussion of the weather, for me, is thoughtless go-to filler for awkward silences or a transition into friendly chit chat. This being said, sitting at my desk in Fort Atkinson, WI, today, writing my column on January 31, I am compelled to talk about the weather. Outside, the sun is shining and it is 50 degrees. Clarifying, as not to make...

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NGFA’s Country Elevator Conference 2012

January 2012 | Feature | By Jackie Roembke

Known as the windy city, Chicago proved the perfect host for the National Grain and Feed Association’s (NGFA) 40th Annual Country Elevator Conference. The event’s theme, “Taming the Headwinds in 2012,” was thoroughly addressed by the program’s line up of accomplished, knowledgeable speakers, each exploring the issues critical to the grain and feed industries.

The conference, held Dec. 11-13, 2011, kicked off with the keynote address by the Honorable Sonny Perdue, former Governor of Georgia...

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Proposed RFS Changes Spark Food vs. Fuel Debate

January 2012 | Feature | By Elise Schafer

Ethanol proponents and commodity grower groups nationwide urged Congress to extend the ethanol and biodiesel incentives and tax credits throughout the months leading up to their Dec. 31, 2011 expiration, citing their end would threaten thousands of existing jobs, prevent the creation of new jobs and prohibit the United States from meeting the Renewable Fuels Standard (RFS) and acheive energy independence.

In spite of their efforts, both the 54 cents/gallon tax on imported ethanol and the...

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2012 IFE/IPE Draws Nearly 21,000

January 2012 | Feature | By Elise Schafer

The American Feed Industry Association's 2012 International Feed Expo, organized in conjunction with the U.S. Poultry & Egg Association’s International Poultry Expo, concluded on Jan. 26 in Atlanta. More than 20,500 visitors from 100-plus different countries attended this year’s event supporting the feed, pet food and poultry industries. 

The annual trade show and expo, the world's largest event of its kind, housed 895 exhibitors who displayed the latest in products and technologies, while...

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How to Proactively Address Fall Hazards

February/March 2012 | Feature | By Jackie Roembke

Protecting workers from fall hazards has always been high on Occupational Safety and Health Administration’s (OSHA) priority list; however, the organization has recently honed in on agriculture’s enforcement — or lack of enforcement — of fall protection-related standards and regulations. Though OSHA’s “four-foot rule,” or general industry standard 29 CFR 1910, requires employees be tied-off or restrained from falling anytime they are four feet off the ground. Agriculture had been exempt...

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Lessons Learned from MF Global

January 2012 | Departments | By Arleen Nand, Breia Schleuss and Korey Kallstrom

On October 31, 2011, MF Global Holdings, Ltd. and certain affiliates (“MF Global”) declared the eighth largest bankruptcy in U.S. history, claiming assets of approximately $41 billion and debt of approximately $39.7 billion. Immediately thereafter, the Securities Investor Protection Corporation initiated a Securities Investor Protection Act (“SIPA”) liquidation proceeding against MF Global, Inc. The SIPA liquidation proceeding directly impacted over 150,000 customers of MF Global and sent...

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Expansion Tests Co-op’s Determination

January 2012 | Cover Story | By Jackie Roembke

Two Rivers Cooperative’s general manager, Tracy Gathman is quick to reference the wisdom passed on from agribusinessmen who came before him, specifically his father who spent more than 40 years working [at or for?] a cooperative, and, in this instance, dairyman and long-time cooperative supporter, Nelson Gardner: “Cooperatives have to remember what they started out for: the purpose of a farmer cooperative is to enhance members’ income—and they should keep that at the top of their...

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How to Manage Multiple Locations

January 2012 | Departments | By Dr. John Foltz, Jim Miller & Dr. Christine Wilson

The “new norm” in the feed and grain industry is for managers to have multiple locations. Fifty years ago, it was not uncommon for each country elevator to be a separate business with a manager, grain buyer, accounting staff, warehousemen, etc. But just as the farmers being served have consolidated, so have the elevators and feed mills. Through mergers and acquisitions, many managers now oversee the daily operations of multiple locations at once. This has made businesses more efficient...

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