Managing Talent for Success: Today and Tomorrow

August/September 2011 | Departments | Jackie Roembke

Leading a successful feed and grain business today is no small task. With commodity prices at or near historic highs, a world economy perched on the edge of another recession, and a political process so divided and contentious that few real solutions have been forthcoming, ‘planning for the future’ can sound a bit like a pipe dream. Despite these challenges, most would argue that these are heady times for agriculture, especially the crop related industries. Livestock looks a bit...

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Biotechnology: The Debate, and the Litigation, Continues

August/September 2011 | Departments | By John Mandler and Rhyddid Watkins

The United States Department of Agriculture defines agricultural biotechnology as “a range of tools, including traditional breeding techniques, that alter living organisms, or parts of organisms, to make or modify products; improve plants or animals; or develop microorganisms for specific agricultural uses. Modern biotechnology today includes the tools of genetic engineering.” The breath and variety of the plants, animals and other products currently available on the market that fit this...

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Great Bend Co-Op Ends Six-Year Wheat Pest Infestation

August/September 2011 | Online Exclusive | Jackie Roembke


With weather-related delays in the spring planting season affecting farmers across the country, many wheat storage facilities will be holding on to current supplies longer to maximize crop profits. Great Bend Co-Op in Kansas is no exception. But until recently, wheat storage options were very limited for the full-service agricultural company.

“For the last six years, we’ve had nothing but problems managing bugs in the wheat,” says Dennis Neeland, operations manager for Great...

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Export Markets Offer a Silver Lining

June/July 2011 | Editors Note | Jackie Roembke

Drought conditions in the Southwest rival the dust bowl of the 1930s. There is good news about the hard red winter wheat in these drought stricken regions. Yields will be lower, with projections citing a drop of 22% from last year, but the loss in volume will be made up for by interest in export markets. 

Though the U.S. has experienced record wheat yields in previous years, the protein quality wasn't there, requiring handlers to blend to achieve the levels in demand. This year, as lack of...

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Time to Reprioritize 2012 Farm Bill Cuts

June/July 2011 | Departments |

In the midst of unresolved talks over raising the nation’s debt ceiling (at least at the time of this publication’s deadline), there’s no denying that U.S. government spending cuts are necessary. No one sector should count itself untouchable — not NASA, not Medicare, not military, not even agriculture.

The 2012 Farm Bill will no doubt see its fair share of reduction in government program funding. Crop subsidies are an easy target that most people can live with — even farmers. Farmer group...

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Biofuels Reach a Turning Point

June/July 2011 | Feature | By Steve Kopperud

The political war over $5 billion to $6 billion in federal tax supports for corn-based ethanol is about to take a dramatic turn. Biofuel now takes center stage for the elimination of one-off tax supports for industries deemed “mature” enough to operate without Uncle Sam’s help, thus contributing to trying to fill the deep chasm that is the federal deficit.

In broad macroeconomic terms, using food/feed grade corn to fill citizens’ gas tanks and not their stomachs is blamed by livestock and...

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8 Things You Need to Know About Retrofitting Motors

June/July 2011 | Feature | By Elise Schafer

Energy efficiency is a topic of growing interest across the industrial processing industry, including feed and grain. Many equipment suppliers now offer high-efficiency lines to meet the rising demand, but there are ways to decrease energy consumption without purchasing new equipment.

Retrofitting existing motor-driven machinery with NEMA Premium Efficient, or EISA-compliant, motors can decrease utility bills and greenhouse gas emissions. In some cases, simply retrofitting a smaller sized...

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The Magic of Trading Limit Markets

June/July 2011 | Departments | By Diana Klemme

Limit markets in futures can be frustrating; it’s like running into a brick wall. A ‘limit-down’ day can make it seemingly impossible to sell futures, and merchandisers are often unsure what to bid farmers. “Limit down” means the market has reached its lowest possible price for that session, although there may be active trade at that price. “Locked limit down” means prices have hit the lowest possible value for the day, and there are unfilled sell orders at that price. Trading stalls....

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Fostering a Safety Culture

June/July 2011 | Feature | By Jackie Roembke

Regardless of the amount of safety training offered or the standard operating procedures put in place, there are forces beyond a manager’s influence determining whether or not employees will employ proper decision-making at a grain elevator. Most of these [oversights] will have little effect on the overall business yet others may have fatal consequences. The question is how do managers evaluate, address and sway an employee’s behavior one way or another. A research assistant with Iowa...

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Understand and Sharpen Your Decision-Making Skills

June/July 2011 | Departments | By Drs. Christine Wilson and John Foltz

Decisions, decisions, decisions. They fill our activity every day. From what to wear and eat, to which words to use, to which project to tackle next, to how to spend money. As a manager in the feed and grain industry, your job is filled with problems and decisions too: Should the business expand into new products or into a different geographic area? Should you purchase new equipment or just repair the old stuff? Should you let that low-performing employee go or try to modify his/her...

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Selling Your Company? How To Obtain a Premium Price

June/July 2011 | Editors Note | Jackie Roembke

For one reason or another, companies of all sizes maybe looking to get out of the grain handling or feed manufacturing business. George Spilka, president of George Spilka and Associates, a national investment banking firm based in Pittsburgh specializing in middle market, closely-held corporations, offers Feed and Grain readers his advice for getting the right price for your business. 

Current Deal Pricing

Deal pricing is making strides to return to normal levels and middle market deal...

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The Feat of Moving Wheat

June/July 2011 | Cover Story | By Jackie Roembke

Southwest of the Wichita Mountains, in the heart of cattle country and Tornado Alley, agribusiness firm Gavilon Grain LLC has staked its claim to export wheat market accessibility. The company, assembled from the acquisitions of ConAgra’s Peavey grain division and DeBruce Companies, holds claim to the No. 3 position for most grain storage in the United States. Just behind Cargill and ADM, Gavilon holds 300 million bushels of grain across 10 states and Mexico.

Now, building off this...

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The Floods of 2011

April/May 2011 | Departments | Jackie Roembke

This season the Northern Plains faced major flooding of the Red River, disrupting grain flows and delaying planting. Then the rains hit the mid-South and the Eastern Corn Belt, swelling rivers and streams that soon pushed the Mississippi to levels not seen since the infamous flood of 1927. Numerous barge stations became forlorn, sandbagged islands as millions of cubic feet of water rushed past every second on the Lower Mississippi.

The 2011 floods will hit agriculture in several ways:


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Stormy Harvest Ahead?

April/May 2011 | Editors Note | Jackie Roembke

Tornado outbreaks and epic flooding, the spring of 2011 will be remember as one of the most destructive and deadly in recent history. Add less-than-ideal temperatures, and agriculture is sent reeling, trying to navigate the unpredictable and attempting to catch-up with delayed planting. The Northeast and central United States have endured their wettest late winter and early spring on record, according to the National Climatic Data Center. As of mid-May, 63% of the nation's corn was...

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Industry Pushes for Science-Based Salmonella Regulations

April/May 2011 | Feature |

In August 2010, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) published a long-awaited Compliance Policy Guide (CPG) on Salmonella in feed. CPGs provide to FDA’s field staff interpretations of laws and regulations and represent current thinking on enforcement and compliance. For the first time since 1975, the agency completely overhauled its stance and agreed to separate human food from animal feed with respect to enforcement of Salmonella regulations.

This conclusion is consistent with...

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