A Bittersweet Summer

August/September 2013 | Editors Note | Elise Schafer

I recently celebrated my five-year anniversary as a full-time employee of Cygnus Business Media, Feed & Grain magazine's former parent company, and nearly simultaneously reached another milestone in my career: being named editor of Feed & Grain.

Over the past five years, I have worked for several Cygnus publications in various industries (all while serving as part-time Feed & Grain staffer), but I always felt most at home among the folks in the feed and grain sector. Through my travels as...

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Spread Signals

August/September 2013 | Departments | By Diana Klemme

Futures Trading 101 tell us a futures spread is the price difference between two futures contracts. A futures carry is when the deferred contract price is higher than the more nearby month. A futures inverse, or an inverted market, is when the nearby price is higher than a deferred price. Futures spreads can be bought or sold, and have a daily price limit equal to double the daily limit move of the underlying futures.

An important principle of futures spreads is that with storable...

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OSHA’s Sweep Auger Policy Comes Full Circle

August/September 2013 | Feature | By Elise Schafer

After nearly five years of back-and-forth between the grain industry and OSHA over its fluctuating sweep auger policy, a recent agency memo has brought some degree of closure to the issue.

The controversy was sparked in 2008, when an insurance agent wrote to OSHA regarding its policies on whether employees could remove their harnesses and lifeline inside a bin if there were no engulfment hazards present, and if employees could operate sweep augers if the sump was not protected by grating....

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Leadership Communication Skills: Listening and Being An Empathetic Leader

August/September 2013 | Departments | Elise Schafer

Colin Powell said, “Leadership is solving problems. The day soldiers stop bringing you their problems is the day you have stopped leading them. They have either lost confidence that you can help them or concluded that you do not care. Either case is a failure of leadership.” In his book, It Worked for me in Life and Leadership, Powell shares with us rules that he developed, concepts that he found effective, and stories of his life that impacted him and his leadership style.

Good leaders...

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Accurate Nutrition Without the Lab

August/September 2013 | Feature | Steven Kilger

The United Nations’ department of Economic and Social Affairs released a report in 2012 that the world’s population will reach an estimated 9 billion by the year 2050 (http://esa.un.org/unpd/wpp/index.htm).  This estimate has placed a great deal of emphasis on agriculture and non-agriculture entities to determine the best way(s) to produce food for future generations. The current facts are that the amount of arable land to plow and sow is limited, and meat consumption is increasing as...

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Put Your Money to Work

August/September 2013 | Feature | Elise Schafer

Since 2008, the U.S. economy has remained generally grim as it’s teetered between periods of recession and slight uptick. Industries like manufacturing, construction and realty famously suffered, while others like technology and food weathered the storm less scathed. But one segment has consistently outperformed the rest throughout this tumultuous period in U.S. history: agriculture.  

Given the strength of the industry, banks are eager to lend money to the grain segment, but according to...

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Identifying the Core of Your Business

August/September 2013 | Feature | By Damien McLoughlin

In today’s market, companies often lose sight of their core. Most feed or grain companies have ambitions to grow their business but few have an actual plan, beyond working harder. With the agricultural sector’s increased understanding of how to optimize animal and plant performance, there is continuous pressure to keep up with genetic improvements. This manifests itself through choices made by owners and presidents whether to enter specialist or niche markets, open up new geographies and...

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New Shuttle Car Loader Facility Prepares for Takeoff

August/September 2013 | Special Report | By Mike Martin

Driving south from I-80 on Highway 81 toward Fairmont, NE, you’ll see plenty of elevators and grain legs jaggedly brushing the skyline. Nearing Fairmont, you quickly spot a new elevator, about a mile west of the Highway 6 and 81 intersection. You have to wonder, why here in the midst of so many other grain operations, with an ethanol plant a few miles south, did someone sprout a 2.1 million bushel facility?

You’ll get an answer rather quickly. It’s there because “everything fell into...

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The View From the Starship Enterprise

June/July 2013 | Departments | By Diana Klemme

We can’t buy corn for anything these days,” Mark said to his scale operator, Larry. “If it’s tough in June, what will it be like by August? Is there any corn left out there?”  

Merchandisers and managers across large parts of the country are struggling to buy old-crop corn and soybeans, despite record high basis values. Accumulating a train-load quantity seems a distant memory for many managers, and a few soybean crush plants are already shutting down until harvest due to tight soybean...

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Spring Brings New Beginnings

April/May 2013 | Editors Note | Jackie Roembke

Despite the recently erratic weather — snowstorms delaying planting, flooding from endless days of rain, lingering pockets of drought, manic temperature swings — I think it’s finally safe to say spring has sprung. 

After the challenges of 2012 — many of the effects of which are still being felt up and down the grain and feed supply chain — the ag sector seems to be optimistic about the 2013 growing season and subsequent harvest. According to the USDA’s World Agricultural Supply and...

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How to Deal with the Aftermath of a Catastrophic Event

April/May 2013 | Departments | By Mark D. Aljets

A grain dust explosion at a facility may be the most traumatic event a grain company will ever face. In the first hours after the explosion occurs, there needs to be a team in place to address all of the issues that literally will be coming at the company in rapid fire succession. 

All of the following recommendations should be ready to be implemented even when the fires may still be burning.  Some of these are common sense observations. Others may be issues a grain company has never...

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How to Utilize Data to Make Management Decisions

April/May 2013 | Departments | By Drs. John Foltz and Joan Fulton

“Figures don’t lie, but liars do figure.”

“Lies, damned lies and statistics.”

Although the definitive source for the first quote is uncertain it has been attributed to several individuals including Carroll D. Wright and Mark Twain. Mark Twain popularized the second quote in the U.S. Anyone who has worked with data knows firsthand how you can come up with a different conclusion depending upon how the data is presented, understanding the first phrase very well. However, numbers and data have...

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Protecting Stored Grain to Maximize Quality

June/July 2013 | Special Report | By Tom Phillips, David Hagstrum and Gerrit Cuperus

Stored grain, as with other durable stored commodities and their value-added products, are at their highest quality just after harvest or manufacturing, and are at risk of decreased quality during storage from the depredations of insects, molds, vertebrate pests and physical damage. A new technical training book produced by Kansas State University titled, Stored Product Protection, details the types of pests and damaging agents, methods for management, prevention of infestation, control...

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Behind the Scenes: Cargill AgHorizons’ Hales Point, TN, River Terminal

April/May 2013 | Feature | By Jackie Roembke

In early 2011 Cargill AgHorizons awarded Kajima Building & Design (KBD) Group Inc. the bid to overhauled its outdated Hales Point, TN, barge-loading facility located on the banks of the Mississippi River. The plan involved expansion of its storage and handling capacity and a structural foundation capable of meeting the demands of river terminal operation. However, given the unpredictable nature of Ol' Man River, the Atlanta, GA-based design/build firm had to overcome a number of unique...

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‘Strong’ Phosphine Resistance Found in U.S. Stored Grain Insects

June/July 2013 | Feature | By George Opit and Thomas Phillips

The lesser grain borer (Fig. 1) and the red flour beetle (Fig. 2) are two major pests of stored grain in the United States, and are often combated with phosphine fumigation. These fumigations are starting to fail, raising questions about their effectiveness. Resistance in stored-product insect pests has become a major problem in many countries, with very high levels of resistance found in some parts of Asia and Africa and, more recently, in Australia and South America. Drs. George Opit,...

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