Focus on Regulatory: Bridging the Regulation Gap

April/May 2009 | Departments | Elise Schafer

American feed and food companies pride themselves as being providers of some of the highest quality, safest products in the world. Feed associations, such as the American Feed Industry Association, have played a role in encouraging and helping their members follow the regulations set forth by the USDA and FDA through the development of third-party certification programs.

In today’s global economy, however, it’s not enough to meet only U.S. regulations. That’s why the AFIA has teamed with...

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When Does a Contract Become Real?

April/May 2009 | Departments | By Gerry Whitty

Whether it’s a lease agreement, signing on to take a new job or buying a home or other big-ticket item, sooner or later we all are faced with having to review and sign a contract to close the deal. Once we’ve “signed our life away,” on the dotted line, we are now obligated to live up to the terms of the signed contract.

While this scenario is played out a countless number of times per day, a markedly different protocol is engaged when executing a grain contract. FEED & GRAIN again turns to...

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You Get What You Pay For and Other True Tales of Employee Management

April/May 2009 | Departments | Dr. John Foltz, Mr. Jim Miller and Dr. Jay Akridge

Finding, hiring and keeping good people presents a challenge in any industry and the feed and grain industry is no different. In fact, due to the rural nature of the industry, many managers have even a more difficult time than businesses located in larger metropolitan areas.

In this issue we take a look at a number of issues which surround your workforce. Employee management can be rewarding and is certainly essential, but often maddening at the same time — because you are dealing with...

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The Global Pond

January 2009 | Departments |

Kids in the country learn early that a stone skimmed across a pond creates ripples that can travel far. In today’s global agricultural markets, one country’s problem can directly impact many other countries. Losses to the Australian wheat crop sharply boosted our exports two years ago and in 2008 the Former Soviet Union’s bumper wheat crop crushed the U.S. soft red wheat basis. In 2009 it’s South America that will affect us next.

Losses in South America mean overseas importers of its...

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Word-of-Mouth Marketing - You Can Make it Work for You!

January 2009 | Departments |

When you hear reference to word-of-mouth marketing do you think “oh, that is the buzz that some firms get who are lucky enough to be in the right place at the right time and get everyone talking about their product,” like Cabbage Patch dolls in the 1980s or more recently ipods. This buzz is one aspect of word-of-mouth marketing and some companies have been able to successfully sustain that positive talk amongst their customers. Additional examples that come to mind are Saturn owners who...

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Bringing’em Safely Onboard: Launching New Employees Successfully

October/November 2008 | Departments |

It’s late on a Friday afternoon, tomorrow you have a day off scheduled (finally!). You kick back in your chair after receiving the phone call you had been hoping for — the new sales manager you have been recruiting just accepted your offer. Life is good and you can enjoy your weekend! She starts in a couple of weeks and you know she will hit the ground running – just get her here, show her the office, and get out of her way! She’s a go-getter with a great track record, and you know she...

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Chicago Wheat Futures: Financial Tsunami of 2008

October/November 2008 | Departments |

The uproar over the soft red winter wheat cash basis has grown increasingly louder. Farmers watched Chicago July 08 wheat futures soar to $11 this spring, but saw local bids lag by up to $2/bushel and their anger grew. Heads should roll!

Cincinnati is a good market to study. The Cincinnati market can reflect barge export values, regional mills, and feed demand from the Southeast. In July 2007 that basis was -50 to -60 but weakened further by late summer. Elevators and terminals remembered...

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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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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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New Solutions to Old Problems

April/May 2008 | Departments |

In business we must take the good with the bad, and rarely does something truly good come along without a hitch. Ethanol producers found this to be true when they discovered that wet distillers grains (WDG) is not only difficult to handle, but also has a shorter shelf life, resulting in a lower valued product.

Since the ethanol boom began, around the late 1990s, producers have found a market for the co-product. WDG, or wet cake, is more palatable and nutritious for dairy cows and cattle...

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Do You Make the Grade? A Report Card for Your Feed and Grain Business, Part Two

April/May 2008 | Departments | Dr. John Foltz & Dr. Christine Wilson

AUTHOR'S NOTE: In our last column we presented Part One of a Grade Card for the feed and grain business. This month we give you Part Two of the Grade Card — additional criteria you can use to evaluate your firm in some key strategic management areas. Our grade card can be thought of as a method to assess where your business is — a subjective measuring tool relative to your own perceptions, and perhaps relative to other firms in your industry.

As with our last column, we start with the...

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The story of ‘Clownie,’ or ‘How I Learned to Let Go and Move On’

April/May 2008 | Departments | By Diana Klemme

As a little girl I had a small cloth clown that I carried everywhere. He was soft and familiar and infinitely comforting during the numerous trials of my childhood. But Clownie became grubby and beat up, and lost much of his stuffing despite my mother's secret attempts to patch him for me. I still loved him, but one day I recognized that it was time to keep my old friend in my room and carry something else with me.

Managing merchandising risks this year reminds me of my beloved clown. The...

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Maintenance Made Easy

Maintenance Made Easy

January 2008 | Departments |

Ever try driving a car that hasn’t had an oil change, a tire rotation or its fluids checked in a year? Chances are you haven’t, and if you did, you were blinded by the check engine light the whole way to your destination. All those maintenance issues, when not properly tended to, can cause a major breakdown. Handling each tiny maintenance procedure at its scheduled time is simple and will save the driver from a serious headache

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