Harvest 2011’s Winners and Losers

August/September 2011 | Editors Note | Jackie Roembke

By the time this issue hits the streets, the 2011 harvest will be in full swing. Elevators in some areas will take in record volumes; others, however, will experience the diminished returns resulting from Mother Nature's bipolar regional spring and summer weather. With the numbers from the USDA's questionably optimistic June Crop Report dramatically dropping from its original estimates, the commodity market has mirrored this uncertainty.

By today's estimate, the national average corn yield...

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The Incredible Shrinking Margin

August/September 2011 | Departments | Jackie Roembke

“I’m taking my soybeans down the road this year – their bid is a nickel higher than yours most days anymore, and their moisture discounts are better too.”

Sound familiar? Managers always dread when farmers say they’re going elsewhere — whatever the reason. Sometimes a customer does leave because of price; that farmer is commonly known as a ‘transaction customer.’ This customer typically has little loyalty and always has an eye for the better deal, and may come and go with the crop years....

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Animal Ag Fights Attacks with Education

August/September 2011 | Feature | By Elise Schafer

Animal rights activist groups have long attacked every aspect of the animal production industry and continue to gain support by distributing misinformation about agriculture’s toll on the environment. Thanks to their use of controversial gimmicks and celebrity endorsements, they’ve experienced a fair amount of success with campaigns like “Meatless Mondays” and “Rather go naked than wear fur.”

These messages easily reach the eyes and ears of America’s youth by simply turning on the TV or...

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Not Your Daddy’s Feed Mill

August/September 2011 | Special Report | By Jackie Roembke

Driven by the growing needs of its producer partners, Iowa’s NEW Cooperative created its NEW Feeds, LCC, feed division in the early 90s. As technology, regulations and automation shaped the feed manufacturing industry, Elwyn Bruhl, feed division manager and 40-year NEW Cooperative employee, has witnessed every stage of this evolution. Standing within the cooperative’s new state-of-the-art Liddendale, IA, feed mill, Bruhl smiles and confidently reports: “This isn’t your daddy’s feed mill.”

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A Common Message for Agriculture

August/September 2011 | Departments |

These days it seems there is a negative campaign going on, one that says agriculture is bad: bad for the environment, animals and people. It’s a matter of attitudes, and from these attitudinal roadblocks come unreasonable regulatory ones.

This is why we need to create a common message for agriculture. Unfortunately, we’re in danger of getting in our own way. Ag groups are duking it out over tight resources and market pressures. And while we’re fighting each other, who’s communicating with...

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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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