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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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Novus International Wins IT Award

April/May 2011 | Feature | By Jackie Roembke

In early 2011 the American Feed Industry Association (AFIA) launched its first-ever Information Technology Innovation Award to recognize the AFIA members creating technologies meant to tackle the issues impacting feed, pet food or ingredient manufacturers.

Novus International was awarded the honor for its submission of AIMS®, a vendor-managed, remote inventory monitoring system for feed ingredient bulk liquids. The system provides daily inventory management of Novus’s ALIMET feed...

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Tips for Approaching a New Lender

April/May 2011 | Feature | By Jackie Roembke

Despite the difficulty experienced in financial markets in the last few years, agriculture has served as an economic bright spot. Not to say serious volatility hasn’t posed challenges, but the sector overall remains an attractive prospect for banks.

“It’s an interesting time for agriculture with lots of opportunities out there andthe financial resources have to be managed relatively well,” says David Oppedahl, economic researcher with Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago, noting that repayment...

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Micro-quality: Making Every Kernel Count

April/May 2011 | Special Report | By Elise Schafer

Technology drives innovation. In the grain industry, this adage can be applied to everything from automation to invoicing. Notably, post-harvest grain quality measurement technology has proven to be a critical, ever-evolving tool for the industry. Quick and accurate mycotoxin testing has improved feed safety and blending techniques, however, they are limited in their ability to provide a snapshot of quality attributes at an individual-kernel level.

Analyzing singular kernels could be the...

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Affordable Options

April/May 2011 | Departments | Jackie Roembke

“Options cost too much!” What elevator manager hasn’t heard this from a farmer about minimum price contracts? Premium cost may be the most commonly cited reason for not buying put or call options as a form of price ‘insurance’ in volatile markets. The irony is that options, with their inherent flexibility and limited risk for buyers, should give managers the confidence to buy puts or calls to set price floors or ceilings, especially in volatile markets.

The CME/CBOT tackled this dilemma...

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