Technology Takeover

April/May 2012 | Departments | By Arlette Sambs

I recently attended my daughter’s FFA awards banquet at a local high school where she teaches agriculture. Like most kids, everyone of the students had their cell phones in their hands, typing away. After a failed attempt to get the kids to practice one more time before the event started, the teachers confiscated all of the phones from the kids on stage — and it was like taking one of their arms away to give them up. The awards ceremony went off without any interruptions, at least no one...

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Management Implications of the Food Safety Modernization Act

April/May 2012 | Departments | By Jeff Kronenberg, Dr. John Foltz and Dr. Joan Fulton

The Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA) was signed into law a little over a year ago — on January 4, 2011. According to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, it is the “most sweeping reform of our food safety laws in more than 70 years, and aims to ensure the U.S. food supply is safe by shifting the focus from responding to contamination to preventing it.” Registration under this new law is not only required of manufacturers of human food products — but also pet food and animal feed...

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If Selling Is In Your Future Move Quickly

April/May 2012 | Departments | By George Spilka

There are many reasons why middle market owners wanting to sell their companies during the next ten years should consummate a sale no later than 2014, preferably sooner. Although most points discussed in this article pertain with equal relevance to all companies regardless of size, the article is primarily directed at middle market companies, which are firms with transaction values between $5 and $250 million.

I am more optimistic about the prospects for the short and intermediate-term...

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Tying The Islands Of Automation Together

February/March 2012 | Departments | By Jason Grahek

As automation continues to grow in grain storage facilities, it can be challenging — for many reasons — to implement the right automation plan. Many facilities have operated for years with existing infrastructure and disparate control systems from days of the past, such as pushbuttons, switches and lights.

Typically, automation systems grow little by little over time and become a hybrid of antiquated hardwired controls along with programmable logic controllers and human machine interfaces....

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Industry Reaction to USDA Office Closures

February/March 2012 | Departments | By John D. Shively and Kim J Walker

The U.S. Department of Agriculture ushered in the new year at the American Farm Bureau Federation Annual Meeting on January 9, with Secretary Tom Vilsack's announcement of USDA's "Blueprint for Better Services."  This initiative will close 259 USDA offices across the country in 2012.  Vilsack explained that the closures were required because the operating budget for USDA has been cut by $3 billion between 2010 and 2012.  He assured the nation that the closures in the food safety area "are...

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Risky Business

February/March 2012 | Departments | By Drs. John Foltz and Jay Akridge

Everything we do has some risk. Walking down the street you could get hit by a car, or an asteroid for that matter; eating an ice cream cone you could choke on the cone or get sick from bacteria in the ice cream. There are risks in investing in a new feed mill — the technology may change, sales may drop such that your payback period lengthens, or the crane installing new bins for the feed mill could fall over and destroy some of your existing grain storage — but some risks can have a...

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IFEEDER Raises $1 Million

February/March 2012 | Departments |

On Jan. 25, at the International Poultry Expo /International Feed Expo in Atlanta, IFEEDER conducted a luncheon to update the media, donors and industry stakeholders about IFEEDER’s progress on its two year anniversary.  IFEEDER, The Institute for Feed Education and Research, was launched at IPE/IFE in 2010 with great interest to the U.S. feed and food industries.

The mission of IFEEDER is “To Sustain the Future of Food and Feed Production Through Education and Research.”  After two years...

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Lessons Learned from MF Global

January 2012 | Departments | By Arleen Nand, Breia Schleuss and Korey Kallstrom

On October 31, 2011, MF Global Holdings, Ltd. and certain affiliates (“MF Global”) declared the eighth largest bankruptcy in U.S. history, claiming assets of approximately $41 billion and debt of approximately $39.7 billion. Immediately thereafter, the Securities Investor Protection Corporation initiated a Securities Investor Protection Act (“SIPA”) liquidation proceeding against MF Global, Inc. The SIPA liquidation proceeding directly impacted over 150,000 customers of MF Global and sent...

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How to Manage Multiple Locations

January 2012 | Departments | By Dr. John Foltz, Jim Miller & Dr. Christine Wilson

The “new norm” in the feed and grain industry is for managers to have multiple locations. Fifty years ago, it was not uncommon for each country elevator to be a separate business with a manager, grain buyer, accounting staff, warehousemen, etc. But just as the farmers being served have consolidated, so have the elevators and feed mills. Through mergers and acquisitions, many managers now oversee the daily operations of multiple locations at once. This has made businesses more efficient...

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Post MF Global

January 2012 | Departments | By Diana Klemme

Nobody likes to lose money — least of all when it occurs in a system long considered safe. Regulators, exchanges, futures firms, and individual brokers have all taken pride and advertised that futures customer funds are segregated from any monies or positions of the clearing member holding customer funds. As CME Clearing’s Financial Safeguards document states: “The (segregation) regulations are designed to protect customers in the event of insolvency or financial instability of the...

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Using Surveys to Enhance Your Business

October/November 2011 | Departments | Dr. Joan Fulton, Dr. John Foltz and Barbara Foltz

Today’s world is an information world. No matter how much information you have, it never seems to be enough! In fact, the truth is — to be competitive you do need more and more information. Some of the information that you need you can get from secondary data sources also known as public information sources (e.g. government data for national and aggregate trends such as unemployment levels and rising fuel prices). However, there are many times you have a need for data that is specific to...

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Full-Service Food Safety Navigation

October/November 2011 | Departments | By Dr. David Acheson, Vince Ventimiglia, J.D., and Kim Walker, J.D.

The ever-changing face of food safety and regulation has has prompted Leavitt Partners, Faegre & Benson and B&D Consulting to join forces in providing companies involved in the global food supply chain with a collaborative solution to food safety management. This joint effort offers guidance to companies seeking to navigate the shifting food safety challenges of today’s systems, and the new regulations resulting from the passage of the 2011 Food and Drug Administration Food Safety...

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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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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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