Sure, change can be good but I don’t have to like it, right?

August/September 2008 | Editors Note |

Sure, change can be good but I don’t have to like it, right?

Change is all around me and I’ll be the first to admit, it drives me crazy sometimes. As a parent of two teenagers and a pre-teen who is convinced she’s ready to live on her own, changes are dramatic. One moment they hang on your every word like you’re some wise mystic, a proverbial stacked-trait soybean with tons of value. Now, it seems my end-user audience finds my valid driver’s license as the only “value added” component of...

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Measurement and Information: The Currency of Grain Quality

August/September 2008 | Special Report | Gerry Whitty

Anyone who doesn't buy into the fact that we operate in a truly global marketplace is only fooling themselves.

That point was clearly reinforced as I sat down for the opening luncheon at the 2008 International Grain Quality and Technology Congress. Joining me at the table were two Argentine researchers, a South African grain industry representative, our keynote speaker representing a Dutch-based financial giant that is a major player in U.S. agribusiness, and all of this, taking place in...

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Maximizing Track Efficiencies

August/September 2008 | Special Report | By Scott Brace

It’s been nearly 200 years since the railroad boom began to change the landscape of North America. Although many of the basic track components are still the same — ties, rail, spikes, plates and frogs — how they come together has changed quite dramatically, particularly in the past 10 years.

The track on which railroads and connecting industries operate is being reconfigured, rehabilitated and expanded to accommodate not only the growing volume of trains but also longer and heavier trains...

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Keeping it Clean

August/September 2008 | Special Report | Elise Schafer

It is often said that grain quality can never improve after it's been harvested. No matter how well an elevator dries their grain, monitors its bin temperature, manages moisture and controls pests, not much can be done to bring the quality up a notch once it's taken from the plant. For the most part, this notion holds true with the exception of one measure: grain cleaning. Taking this step right after harvesting can get the whole process off to a smooth start. While grain cleaning doesn't...

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The Times They Are A-Changing’

August/September 2008 | Departments | By Diana Klemme

“Come writers and critics
Who prophesize with your pen
And keep your eyes wide
The chance won’t come again
And don’t speak too soon
For the wheel’s still in spin
For the times they are a-changin’”
Excerpt: 1964 – Bob Dylan

Bob Dylan certainly wasn’t thinking about the grain industry when he wrote “The Times They Are A-Changing” but the lyrics are surprisingly relevant in 2008. The financial sector is in turmoil, inflation is the highest in over a quarter century, record commodity prices...

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Using Break-even Analysis in Business Decisions

August/September 2008 | Departments | Dr. John Foltz & Dr. Christine Wilson

Do you have a good understanding of how profitable different products or services might be? Do you know how much product must be sold to cover costs or what happens if costs or prices change? These are important considerations in today’s feed and grain business. Understanding break-even points and break-even analysis can be important to making solid business decisions. You want to be sure you can sell enough product or service to make a profit. In this month’s column, we focus on...

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Fractionation: An Answer to the Food vs. Fuel Debate

August/September 2008 | Feature | Elise Schafer

As the economy continues to decline and financial experts say we're headed into a recession, American families struggle to put both food on the table and gas in the tank. 2008 saw a 36% increase in milk prices compared to 2007, and the national average price for a gallon of unleaded gas peaked at $4.11 in July. These circumstances have some people asking "Do I feed my kids, or my car?"

Although research released by the American Farm Bureau Federation says that the climb in food costs are...

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Quality from the Ground Up

June/July 2008 | Special Report | Gerry Whitty

Depending on whom you ask, most people will say that grain quality reaches its peak at harvest.

Indeed, once it leaves the farm, the primary driver of grain quality evolves from its initial function of producing a quality crop to one of grain quality preservation.

While the role played by elevator operators and those who handle grain as it enters the marketing channel is vital to overall grain quality, the upfront work done by grain producers themselves has added a much-needed boost to...

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Delivering on the Promise

June/July 2008 | Special Report | Gerry Whitty

The United States remains the leading provider of high-quality grains to the global marketplace; however, can we be expected to maintain that position forever? FEED & GRAIN looks at how the industry is positioned and the factors which impact our place in the grain quality equation.

What is Quality?

Quality means many things to many people. To some it's a style of management that improves your business via TQM. Others use it as a way to wish someone well, without really meaning it;-

Quality Practices that Pay

June/July 2008 | Special Report | Elise Schafer

Don't risk premiums by letting moisture, mold, pests or undesirable temperature compromise grain quality. Using appropriate drying, aerating and inspecting practices help protect and preserve the value of your grain.

Guarding grain quality is the mission of thousands of grain elevators and farms across America. The guardians of grain quality dedicate their lives to monitoring the commodity at every step in its lifecycle from harvest to feed trough, and it's not always an easy job....

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Quality - How to Keep it Everybodys Job

June/July 2008 | Departments | By Dr. John Foltz & Dr. Joan Fulton

Quality — we talk about it lots. Customers are concerned about it — grain farmers that deliver grain to your elevator – where their grain is graded by quality; or livestock farmers that purchase feed from you in the feed business — where they want the highest quality feedstuffs to feed to their dairy cows, poultry, hogs or other livestock. When you sell grain, your customers are also concerned about grain quality of the wheat, corn, soybeans or other grain products that you ship out of...

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Discounting Your Profits?

June/July 2008 | Departments | By Diana Klemme

Once again we are with Mike, the general manager of our mythical multistation grain cooperative located somewhere in the Western Corn Belt. Today, Mike is discussing the company’s P&L with his accountant and the conversation is not going well. Nevertheless, Mike’s temporary misfortune sheds some much-needed light on how discounts can rob you of profits and productivity, and FEED & GRAIN examines ways to minimize the impact discounts have on your bottom line.

Mike sits fuming in his office,...

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FEW Restores Faith in Ethanol Industry

June/July 2008 | Feature | Elise Schafer

Nashville, TN has a lot to be proud of. "Music City" is the beating heart of country music, home of the Grand Ole Opry and rich in American history and world culture. And after June 16, Nashville can also proudly boast that it hosted the 24th annual International Fuel Ethanol Workshop & Expo (FEW), the largest ethanol conference and expo in the world.

The 2008 FEW will be bigger than ever, with an expected attendance of 6,000 - roughly 700 more than last year, and over 600 exhibitors. Dave...

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An Industry Perspective

June/July 2008 | Feature | By Gerry Whitty

Making and keeping your commitment to providing high- quality feed products and grain to the marketplace needn’t be a daunting task. Our industry works hard to ensure all links of the grain channel chain are tempered with the resources needed to support grain quality. Join us as we check on how our industry’s associations engage and enlighten its member and stakeholder publics on quality-related issues.

What criteria are important to consider when looking at hiring a new employee? Or,...

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Nothing Succeeds Like Success(ion)

April/May 2008 | Editors Note |

Visting with the leadership team at McC Inc. while getting background for this issue's cover story (see Pg. 8) opened my eyes to just how valuable a good succession plan can be for any sized company.

Nobody should have to experience the fast-track implementation of a plan like McC Inc. did after losing two top executives in a plane crash last June, but accidents do occur. As do retirements, changing jobs, buy-out packages, company sell-offs; well, you get the picture.

If you're unsure...

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