Treat Yourself Like You’d Treat Your Grain

June/July 2009 | Editors Note |

I’m mad. I know I shouldn’t write when I’m mad, but I am. I’m mad at my friend Phil. Like many of us, Phil was dealing with a lot of stress lately at work. Sensing that the stress was starting to slow him down a little — and wanting a clean bill of health before turkey season and golf season got into full swing — he had some stress tests done, which he passed. But that’s not why I’m mad at him.

A few days after the tests he was at work and started feeling some pains in his arm. Knowing...

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Focus on Biofuels: DDGS Heads East

June/July 2009 | Departments | By Elise Schafer

A cooperation agreement between the U.S. Grains Council and a Chinese dairy association has expanded the U.S. DDGS market eastward, where the potential for growth is enormous.

The U.S. Grains Council is helping to increase exports of U.S. dried distillers grains with soluables (DDGS), a co-product of the ethanol industry, through its cooperation program with dairies along China's coastline. On March 10, 2009, the USGC signed a cooperation agreement with the Guangdong Provincial Dairy...

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Managing Feed-Related Claims

June/July 2009 | Departments | By Gerry Whitty, Todd Langel and Jacob Bylund

The formulation and manufacture of feed is an increasingly complex science-based process. As is the case with food products for human consumption, great care is taken by feed suppliers to ensure that a high-quality and safe product is delivered to the customer. The business of marketing feed and maintaining client relationships is also increasingly complex and competitive.

As animal agriculture consolidates, and producers generally become larger, the size of individual customer accounts...

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Time Manange It or It Will Manage You

June/July 2009 | Departments | Drs. John Foltz & Joan Fulton

Today's economy is forcing most of us to try to do more with less. One resource that managers definitely do not have more of is time. Your work week — whatever it is — sometimes 60 hours or more — is a finite resource. Time is kind of like land: "They're not making any more of it!" So how do you utilize this precious commodity more efficiently?

In this issue we delve into effective time management. While we know there have been many books, seminars, websites and studies devoted to time...

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Swaps, Spreads and Safety Nets

June/July 2009 | Departments | By Diana Klemme

Last year took the world's financial markets to the brink. Trillions of dollars of real estate transactions, OTC credit swaps and other derivatives couldn't be valued; managers didn't know what their portfolios were worth, or how to exit their positions.

Grain merchandisers had it easy by comparison. Deep, liquid futures markets let you quickly and easily lay off price and spread risk. Everything is marked to market daily for complete transparency. Hedges are exchange-cleared, where the...

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Putting A Price Tag On Quality

June/July 2009 | Feature | By Gerry Whitty and Elise Schafer

"Value-added."

We read and hear that phrase so many times that it's become part of our daily vernacular.

However, the problem with this phrase is that it is often difficult to define "value" to the end user. In simple terms, however, once money finds its way back into our pockets, only then can a product or service truly considered as having added value.

Is the expectation any different in the feed and grain industry vs. the consumer retail arena? Absolutely not.

Some would contend...

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Rebuilding Infrastructure, ‘Bracketology’ Style

April/May 2009 | Editors Note |

I was surfing the U.S. News and World Report website (www.usnews.com) the other day, and a story about the NCAA college basketball tournament caught my eye. As I write this column, the Sweet 16 is about to commence and all people can talk about is the condition of their “bracket” and how many teams they still have in the title hunt.

One part of the story that intrigued me was this: The Nevada Gaming Commission estimates the legal amount wagered on the tournament to be somewhere between $80...

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Avoid a Logistics Logjam

April/May 2009 | Departments |

Suppose you decide to build a house. Would you buy the materials first, or would you draw up the blueprints and then schedule subcontractors and get the materials?

In grain merchandising, having a “blueprint” of your facility’s logistics is also an important first step. I don’t mean literally having a blueprint of the bins or the trackage, but knowing your operation’s capacity for throughput — the logistics of when and how much grain you can receive, store, and ship. Trying to merchandise...

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Focus on Regulatory: Bridging the Regulation Gap

April/May 2009 | Departments | Elise Schafer

American feed and food companies pride themselves as being providers of some of the highest quality, safest products in the world. Feed associations, such as the American Feed Industry Association, have played a role in encouraging and helping their members follow the regulations set forth by the USDA and FDA through the development of third-party certification programs.

In today’s global economy, however, it’s not enough to meet only U.S. regulations. That’s why the AFIA has teamed with...

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When Does a Contract Become Real?

April/May 2009 | Departments | By Gerry Whitty

Whether it’s a lease agreement, signing on to take a new job or buying a home or other big-ticket item, sooner or later we all are faced with having to review and sign a contract to close the deal. Once we’ve “signed our life away,” on the dotted line, we are now obligated to live up to the terms of the signed contract.

While this scenario is played out a countless number of times per day, a markedly different protocol is engaged when executing a grain contract. FEED & GRAIN again turns to...

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You Get What You Pay For and Other True Tales of Employee Management

April/May 2009 | Departments | Dr. John Foltz, Mr. Jim Miller and Dr. Jay Akridge

Finding, hiring and keeping good people presents a challenge in any industry and the feed and grain industry is no different. In fact, due to the rural nature of the industry, many managers have even a more difficult time than businesses located in larger metropolitan areas.

In this issue we take a look at a number of issues which surround your workforce. Employee management can be rewarding and is certainly essential, but often maddening at the same time — because you are dealing with...

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The Global Pond

January 2009 | Departments |

Kids in the country learn early that a stone skimmed across a pond creates ripples that can travel far. In today’s global agricultural markets, one country’s problem can directly impact many other countries. Losses to the Australian wheat crop sharply boosted our exports two years ago and in 2008 the Former Soviet Union’s bumper wheat crop crushed the U.S. soft red wheat basis. In 2009 it’s South America that will affect us next.

Losses in South America mean overseas importers of its...

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Taking a New Look at Grain Storage

January 2009 | Feature | By Gerry Whitty

The newly-launched Integris USA, LLC and its parent company, Calgary-based OPIsystems Inc., have an ambitious goal for U.S. commercial grain handlers and grain producers: Change your thinking about stored grain.

OPIsystems has sold its “Advanced Grain Management” systems throughout the world for more than two decades, and OPIsystems president and CEO Dave Crompton says that experience is what convinced him a sea change regarding stored grain was in order.

“All the sophisticated management...

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Fighting a New Kind of Old Enemy

January 2009 | Feature | By Elise Schafer

Stem rust is an age-old disease that has stricken a variety of grain crops since ancient times, and has the tenacity to nearly destroy an entire wheat crop.

Over the past 50 years the United States and other developed nations have experienced measurable success in fighting this pathogen using a resistance gene called Sr31, a gene for which no virulence had been reported anywhere in the world.

However, after years without incident, a new type of wheat rust has emerged in Africa, puzzling...

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2009: Looks Like a Risky Proposition at Best

January 2009 | Editors Note |

Considering that within the last year our industry's big headache has shifted from, "Will I find enough grain?" to "Will my customers and I find enough credit to keep operating?" it becomes clear we are now fully engaged in the risk industry.

Admittedly, that observation is no news flash for you out there on the front lines, but what is noteworthy is how deeply risk elements have permeated the operating environment and how broadly the effects of risk will be felt now and in the future.

It's...

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