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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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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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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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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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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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:

(1)...

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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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Working with the Facebook Generation

April/May 2011 | Departments | By Dr. John Foltz, Jim Miller and Dr. Joan Fulton

Facebook, cell phones, smart phones, YouTube, Twitter — aren’t we already way too connected? Old timers might say, “Yes, this is all too much!” Younger producers may say, “I pick and choose how I connect and communicate and the more options the better.” The reality probably falls somewhere in-between. However, there are multitudes of ways to communicate with your feed and grain customers in today’s world — and some of these mediums and techniques can and should be looked at — and used!...

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Food Safety Regulations Impact Feed and Grain Industry

April/May 2011 | Departments | By Kristin Eads, Jennifer William Zwagerman and Steve Toeniskoetter

From the Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA) to the Reportable Food Registry to calls for increased penalties for some food safety violators, food safety is clearly on the national radar. What many are unaware of is the extent to which these new food safety regulations impact the feed and grain industries.

FDA regulates animal and pet food products and ingredients under the same authority and regulations as it does human food products — the Federal Food Drug & Cosmetic Act. The...

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Steps to Starting and Implementing a HACCP Plan

February/March 2011 | Departments |

On Jan. 4, President Barack Obama signed the Food Safety Modernization Act into law, requiring all facilities registered with the FDA under the Bioterrorism Act to develop a written food/feed safety plan that evaluates hazards and details procedures to control those hazards so they do not cause adulteration or misbranding of product.

The regulation applies to all commercial grain elevators, feed mills, feed ingredient manufacturers, grain processors, millers and exporters, as well as...

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Fast Forward

February/March 2011 | Departments | By Diana Klemme

Thumbing through his son’s issue of PC magazine, Mike shakes his head in amazement. "Just look at all the gizmos and gadgets available these days — and how cheap they are; I remember getting my first fax machine in the late 80’s - it cost almost $1,000 and spit out that curly paper! Didn’t have an email address ‘til about ten years ago. Time sure does fly….” Looking across the room at his grandson, Mike’s even more amazed to see his four-year-old grandson easily doing something on an...

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The Next Generation of Management: Creating a Succession Plan

February/March 2011 | Departments | Drs. John Foltz and Jay Akridge

Who will succeed you as owner or manager of your feed and grain business? If you are like many owner/managers, this is a topic you may not have seriously considered — or it may be something you would prefer not to think about. It is a bit like facing your own mortality — but the reality is that this is something which should be given some very careful thought. Perhaps the most important sign of a great manager is the ability to transfer control to the next generations successfully — it...

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