Archive for November, 2010

2011 grain production costs to surge

The costs of growing grain are likely to rise in the year ahead, according to Purdue University estimates. The 2011 Purdue Crop Cost & Return Guide projects farmers could see double-digit increases in variable costs, which include fertilizer, seed, pesticides, fuel, machinery and other expenses not related to labor or land rental. Corn production costs will rise about 14%; soybean costs will increase 6%.

Much of the projected cost increases are tied to a recent surge in fertilizer prices. An April USDA survey of Illinois retail fertilizer prices – a benchmark for Indiana – reported average per-ton costs of ammonia at $520, diammonium phosphate at $503, and potash at $501. This month, those prices are $736, $661 and $526 per ton, respectively.

The guide is available by going online to and clicking on “2011 Purdue Crop Guide.”

While prices for corn, soybeans and wheat are up from this past spring, farmers will need those higher returns to offset a spike in variable crop production costs, said Bruce Erickson, Purdue’s director of cropping systems management and a crop guide contributor.

“For rotational corn, which is most of the corn in Indiana, our estimates show variable costs in 2011 up around 13 percent compared with 2010,” Erickson said. “Soybean production costs will be up around 6 percent, and for winter wheat we’re estimating that costs will be 13 percent higher. If you grow continuous corn, you can expect to spend about 14 percent more next year.”

Much of the projected cost increases are tied to a recent surge in fertilizer prices. An April U.S. Department of Agriculture survey of Illinois retail fertilizer prices – a benchmark for Indiana – reported average per-ton costs of ammonia at $520, diammonium phosphate at $503 and potash at $501. This month those prices are $736, $661 and $526, respectively.

After years of incremental movement in fertilizer prices, the market has been much more volatile since 2007, Erickson said.

“Crop production around the world, and the demand associated with that, still seems to be the primary driver,” he said. “And fertilizer is more and more a world market now. Producing fertilizers is an energy-intensive business, so producers often source outside the U.S., where energy costs can be a fraction of what they are here.”

There’s not a lot most farmers can do to soften the blow of higher production costs, Erickson said. They can shop around to find the best deal for fertilizer and other crop inputs and buy in bulk and store if they think prices are heading up, he said.

Erickson reiterated that the crop guide contains cost estimates, and that a lot could happen in the market between now and when the 2011 crop is planted.

“We offer these estimates to provide a relative benchmark to help farmers, landowners and those working with them some perspective on the economics of producing a crop,” Erickson said. “The situation for an individual farm can be much different than this depending on how and when crops were sold, how purchases were made, etcetera.

“While costs are back up, most crop producers are managing to stay ahead of the curve. This is in contrast to the situation with livestock producers, though, where an increase in their feed prices further pinches returns. I’m old enough that I remember those long stretches of lean years on the farm, so we’ll take this for now and ready ourselves for whatever the future holds.”

The Purdue Crop Cost & Return Guide is prepared annually by Purdue’s departments of Agricultural Economics, Agronomy, and Botany and Plant Pathology.

2011 dairy outlook: Are higher prices sustainable?

Strong global demand and some supply hiccups helped dairy markets recover in 2010, but panelists at USDEC’s fourth annual “Global Dairy Outlook” webinar, Nov. 16, said the key questions for 2011 are whether demand can be sustained at higher price levels and how strongly milk production responds.

At the event, which drew nearly 300 live listeners from 17 countries, moderator Marc Beck, USDEC’s senior vice president of export marketing, suggested that benchmark commodity whole milk powder prices would trade in a band between $3,500 and $4,500/ton next year, a price “that’s shown to be sustainable on the demand side and a price that is needed to sustain production growth and production profitability out of the market leader in Oceania.”

While rising food inflation posed a risk to demand in the year ahead, Dr. Jon Hauser, editor/publisher of, suggested that growing wealth in developing countries was enhancing buyers’ ability to pay.

Historically, dairy prices in Asia have been depressed vs. the Western world, largely due to export subsidies, said Hauser. With those subsidies removed, “the question is whether we are seeing food inflation or seeing the rest of world more able to afford dairy at prices that the Western world is used to paying.”

Other panelists weren’t ready to concede the notion that a higher price threshold would prevail.

“I tend to wonder if that’s really a sustainable price,” said Dalyn Dye, president and CEO of Hoogwegt U.S. “I wonder whether the amount of milk that might be produced when that kind of price translates back to farmers is really the amount of milk customers around the world can consume.”

Added Phil Plourd, president of Blimling & Associates: “I am inherently skeptical of ‘paradigm shifts’ in any overarching sense. Price always matters. And it is easy to underestimate supply-side response. I am intrigued, however, at notions that the developing world is better able to absorb higher prices than the developed world. Countries such as China have cash. They need to keep the people fed. Still, bubbles are bubbles. We are not there yet, in my estimation. But I can see how we get there.”

Continued buying from China would be key to how the 2011 markets unfold, speakers agreed. They’ll also be keeping their eyes on New Zealand weather and how quickly high feed costs curtail milk production in the United States and Europe. Based on recent supply growth, panelists foresee softer conditions in early 2011 giving way to tighter markets later in the year.

To view an archived version of the Nov. 16 presentation, covering issues of price elasticity, global milk supply, currency exchange rates and more, including the presentation of the “Tom Camerlo Exporter of the Year Award” to United Dairymen of Arizona, go to

All American Jersey Show held at Louisville

2010 AJCA All American winners named

The Jersey All American and Reserve All American winners of 2010 have been announced by the American Jersey Cattle Association, Reynoldsburg, Ohio. The awards were presented during The 58th All American Jersey Show, Louisville, Ky.

Leading the list was Ratliff Price Alicia, the unprecedented three-time National Grand Champion for Ron and Christy Ratliff of Garnett, Kans. “Alicia” helped the Ratliffs win the Premier Breeder banner at the 398-head show, then repeated as Supreme Champion of the North American International Livestock Exposition dairy show.

Three operations picked up three awards each. The Sauder family of River Valley Dairy, Tremont, Ill., had two All Americans and one Reserve winner in their string that won the Premier Exhibitor award. The partnership of Peter Vail and Budjon Farms, Lomira Wis., received one All American with their National Jersey Jug Futurity winner, Hillacres Morrae Maryland, and two Reserve awards. The Roger Riebe family of Cumberland, Wis., had the All American junior best three group, which included two award recipients.

Tera Koebel, Three Oaks, Mich., received two All American awards: for Gadget Jade of Edgebrook, the winning 4-year-old cow and Premier Performance Cow, and for the Junior Champion of the show, PM Minister Lea.

Two Reserve All American awards went to Craig Walton and Gene Iager with partners, from Carlisle, Pa. One was for the Reserve National Grand Champion, Frederick 2783 Adventure, and the other for the Reserve Junior Champion, Exels Carrier Polly 2109.

Family Hill Jerseys, Ferndale, Wash., and Waverly Farm, Clear Brook, Va., also received two awards each.

Complete results from The 58th All American Jersey Show are posted on the USJersey web site at

Winners in the National Jersey Youth Achievement Contest were Brittany Core, Salvisa, KY; Kelli Ann Carstensen, Petaluma, CA; Logan Horst, Mercersburg, PA; Kyle Schirm, West Salem, OH; Amber Ettinger, Kinards, SC; Cassandra Chittenden, Schodack Landing, NY; Stacey Theobald, Waymart, PA; Avery Lutz, Mocksville, NC; Julie Ann Ozburn, Nolensville, TN; and Daniel Fugate, Whitesburg, TN.

Junior Breeders recognized by NJA

Ten young people were honored for their accomplishments in the National Jersey Youth Achievement Contest.

Winners were Brittany Core, Salvisa, KY; Kelli Ann Carstensen, Petaluma, CA; Logan Horst, Mercersburg, PA; Kyle Schirm, West Salem, OH; Amber Ettinger, Kinards, SC; Cassandra Chittenden, Schodack Landing, NY; Stacey Theobald, Waymart, PA; Avery Lutz, Mocksville, NC; Julie Ann Ozburn, Nolensville, TN; and Daniel Fugate, Whitesburg, TN.

The contest recognizes outstanding achievement by junior Jersey breeders in four areas: work with Registered Jerseys™, related dairy activities, relative progress, and future goals. They were selected from 17 outstanding youth nominated by state Jersey associations, based on their cumulative record through Dec. 31, 2009.

The American Jersey Cattle Association presented cash awards totaling $3,000, including $600 to the contest winner, at the Junior Banquet held in conjunction with The All American Junior Jersey Show in Louisville, Ky.

California youth crowned National Jersey Queen

Lena Sweeney, Stanford, Calif., has been crowned the 56th National Jersey Queen. Sweeney, active in Jersey and dairy youth projects for more than years, was presented the Charlene Nardone Crown by 2009 National Jersey Queen Stephanie Kasper on Nov. 6, during the Jersey Junior Banquet in Louisville, Ky.

She will represent Jersey breeders for the next year with her participation in events such as the Annual Meeting of the American Jersey Cattle Association, World Dairy Expo and The 59th All American Jersey Shows & Sales.

Junior All American winners announced

Twenty-four Jersey youth (ages 9-20) from 14 states have been recognized by the American Jersey Cattle Association as the owners of the Junior All American winners for 2010. The awards were announced Nov. 6 during The 58th All American Junior Jersey Show in Freedom Hall, Louisville, Ky.

The Junior All American Four-Year-Old, Indiana Veda, was selected by judge Craig Padgett, Waynesburg, Ky., as Grand Champion of the 218-head show. “Veda” was exhibited by Erin Williams, McConnelsville, Ohio.

Parkview Centurion Russia, the All American Aged Cow, was named Reserve Grand Champion. She was shown by Nic Sauder of Tremont, Ill., who had three Junior All American winners and one Reserve Junior All American. He was the show’s Premier Exhibitor. Premier Breeder honors went to R. J. Doran, Newberry, S.C.

Tera Koebel, Three Oaks, Mich., was the only other junior exhibitor to receive multiple recognitions, both Reserve Junior All American awards. One went to her 4-year-old entry, Gadget Jade of Edgebrook, who was named the Premier Performance Cow of the show.

Complete results from The 58th All American Junior Jersey Show are posted on the USJersey website at Show.

Leadership named for 59th All American Jersey Show & Sale

The team of Jersey breeders who will lead The 59th All American Jersey Shows & Sales were announced by 2011 general chair, Jim VanBuskirk, Carleton, Mich.

An annual production of the American Jersey Cattle Association, the All American is held in conjunction with the North American International Livestock Exposition in Louisville, Ky. More than 100 Jersey breeders and enthusiasts from across the country donate their services to planning and staging the three shows, two sales and youth awards banquet that make up the most exciting weekend of dairy breed promotion in the world.

Corey Lutz, Lincolnton, N.C., will chair the sale committee, succeeding Mike Fremstad, Viroqua, Wis., who will serve as the associate general chair. The associate chair for the sale committee will be Jim Quist, of Fresno, Calif.

Chair of the Open Show Committee will be this year’s Klussendorf Trophy honoree, Mike Stiles, Clear Brook, Va. Named associate chair was Joshua Gordon, Warsaw, Ind.

Sue Luchsinger, Syracuse, N.Y., will chair the meeting of the Junior Activities Committee, with Wesley Blankenship, Jackson, Tenn., serving as the associate chair. Also serving on this committee will be the National Jersey Queen, Lena Sweeney of Visalia, Calif.

The National Jersey Jug Futurity Committee will be led by Jennifer Gordon, Warsaw, Ind. Brooke Core Powers, Richmond, Ky., is the associate.

The 2011 events will run Nov. 5-7, at the Kentucky Exposition Center. Contact Dr. Cherie L. Bayer, coordinator of The All American Jersey Shows & Sales, for more information on the events or available sponsorships at 614-322-4456.

2010 shows, sales set records

The 2010 All American was the largest exhibition of registered Jerseys in the world, with 398 females placed in the open show and the National Jersey Jug Futurity. A total of 218 animals were shown by 133 aspiring Jersey breeders in The All American Junior Jersey Show.

The 58th All American Sale averaged $7,029 on 67 lots, including the high-selling bull, Sunset Canyon Dominican-ET, at $96,000. The high female at $21,500 was Hi-Kel Tbone Pfenning-ET. The 53rd Pot O’Gold Sale, presented by Cow’s Match® Jersey Blend, smashed all previous records, with the high seller at $10,750 and an average of $4,796.77. All 31 heifers sold in the Pot O’Gold had been genotyped.

Genomic PTA averages for the offering were $297 for Cheese Merit and 1.0 for type, at 57% reliability. They were purchased by youth between the ages of 7 and 20 on Jan. 1, 2010 and went to 13 different states. In 2013, the buyers will receive cash awards totaling $25,279 based on the ranking of their heifers’ first lactation records.

2011 Jersey award nomination deadline is Jan. 15

Jan. 15, 2011 is the deadline for nominations for four awards to be presented at the Annual Meetings of the American Jersey Cattle Association and National All-Jersey Inc. in Wisconsin Dells, Wis., June 22-25, 2011. Awards include:

• Master Breeder Award. The Master Breeder Award is bestowed annually upon a living AJCA member, family, partnership, or corporation, who, in the opinion of the Board of Directors, has bred outstanding animals for many years and thereby has made a notable contribution to the advancement of the Jersey breed in the United States.

• Distinguished Service Award. The Distinguished Service Award is bestowed upon as many living AJCA members and/or members’ families, who, in the opinion of the Board of Directors, have rendered outstanding and unselfish service for many years and thereby have made a notable contribution to the advancement of the Jersey breed in the United States.

• Award for Meritorious Service. The AJCA-NAJ Award for Meritorious Service is bestowed annually upon a living individual, who, in the joint opinion of the Boards of Directors of the American Jersey Cattle Association and National All-Jersey Inc., has made a notable contribution to the advancement of the Jersey breed and the livelihood of Jersey owners in the United States through research, education, development, marketing, or other significant activities of the allied dairy industry.

• Young Jersey Breeder Award. These awards are bestowed annually upon as many living AJCA members and/or members’ families, who, in the opinion of the Board of Directors, merit recognition. Nominees must be active members of the American Jersey Cattle Association and must be at least 28 years of age but not more than 40 years of age as of January 1 of the recognition year. Selection is based upon expertise in dairy farming and Jersey cattle breeding; participation in AJCA and NAJ programs; and leadership in Jersey and other dairy and agricultural organizations.

Any lifetime member of the AJCA can nominate qualified persons for these awards. Nomination forms may be requested by contacting Paula England at 614/322-4469, or email to Forms are also available from the USJersey website at

Industry News: Dairy reproduction

Cranston joins ABS in Eastern Washington

ABS named Jeremy Cranston as as area sales manager, responsible for managing the sales routes and supporting ABS independent representatives throughout Eastern Washington.  He will also be responsible for marketing ABS dairy products and developing ABS services in that area.

Cranston undertook the Dairy Herdsman Program at Utah State University and currently resides in Colorado with his family.

Headquartered in DeForest, Wis., ABS Global is a provider of bovine genetics, reproduction services, technologies and uddercare products, marketing in more than 80 countries.

ABS to be exclusive U.S. distributor of Geno Global Norwegian Red genetics in 2011

ABS Global will become the exclusive U.S. distributor of Norwegian Red genetics, beginning May 1, 2011.

Company officials said the addition of the Norwegian Red breed to the ABS product line complements ABS’ breed-leading Holstein and Jersey offering, giving producers rotational crossbreeding selections with Holstein, Jersey and Norwegian Red sires. ABS will be distributing Norwegian Red semen under the new Crossbreeding Management System™ (CMS) program.

Contact your local ABS representative or call 800-ABS-STUD for more information about the ABS CMS program.

Thompson named Select Sires communications intern

Hannah Thompson, of Walkersville, Md., was selected as the 2010 corporate communications intern for Select Sires Inc. Her responsibilities will include writing press releases and customer testimonials, helping coordinate logistics for trade show booth materials and assisting with the production of sales and marketing projects.

Thompson is a senior at Ohio State University, where she is pursuing a bachelor’s degree in agricultural communication with minors in Spanish and agribusiness. She grew up working on a dairy farm and exhibiting Brown Swiss, Holstein and Red and White dairy cattle. At Ohio State, Thompson is a member of the Buckeye Dairy Club, Agricultural Communicators of Tomorrow, Scarlet and Gray Ag Day Committee and Alpha Zeta Partners Agricultural Honorary. Thompson has competed in 4-H, FFA and collegiate dairy judging and is serving as the 2010 National Red and White Queen. She is also a studio production intern with the Buckeye Ag Radio Network in Columbus, Ohio. After graduating in June 2011, she plans to pursue a master’s degree in agricultural communication and public policy.

Based in Plain City, Ohio, Select Sires Inc., is North America’s largest A.I. organization, comprised of 10 farmer-owned and -controlled cooperatives.

Industry News: Crops & forages

Dairyland Seed’s Sun receives alfalfa award

Paul Sun (left) was presented with the North American Alfalfa Improvement Conference (NAAIC) Honorary Membership Award by Dr. Dan Undersander, chair of the nominating committee of the NAAIC.

Dr. Paul Sun, Dairyland Seed, was awarded the North American Alfalfa Improvement Conference (NAAIC) Honorary Membership Award during the 2010 NAAIC meeting in Boise, Idaho. The award recognizes individual members who are selected for their outstanding contributions to alfalfa improvement and/or utilization.

Dr. Paul Sun has been leading a team of plant breeders in alfalfa, corn, and soybeans for nearly 30 years at Dairyland Seed.  His alfalfa team developed and released patented msSunstra Hybrid Alfalfa Technology in 2001.  Other major contributions in alfalfa are the release of patented sequential maturity alfalfa technology and playing a key role in developing perhaps the world’s largest alfalfa testing network. Dr. Sun has authored numerous patents regarding hybrid alfalfa seed production and forage production, and co-authored the chapter, “Pollination Control: Mechanical and Sterility” in the Alfalfa and Alfalfa Improvement, American Society of Agronomy Monograph # 29.

Dr. Sun has also recently developed corn inbreds for Dairyland and earlier in his career developed soybeans as well.

During his tenure, Dr. Sun has served as President of IDEALS, a U.S./Chinese Association of agricultural scientists; served as an ambassador with the United Nations on mission trips to China to explore their need for corn development programs; and served as a member of the Alfalfa Variety Review Board.

Dr. Sun served on Dairyland’s board of directors prior to its 2008 sale to Dow AgroSciences.

Vermeer names forage solutions marketing manager

Jessica Reis joined Vermeer Corporation as forage solutions marketing manager.

Jessica Reis joined Vermeer Corporation as forage solutions marketing manager, where she will be responsible for developing, coordinating and executing marketing communication initiatives for Vermeer’s Forage Solutions group.

Reis previously served as marketing communications specialist at Ag Leader Technology. Prior to that, she managed sales in the Iowa territory for Decision Commodities, LLC and served as sales representative for Sunny Fresh Foods (currently Cargill Kitchen Solutions).

Reis is a 2004 graduate of Iowa State University with a degree in agricultural communications. She and her husband Brandon currently reside in Ames, Iowa.

Vermeer Corporation manufactures a complete line of hay tools including round balers, mowers, mower/conditioners, rakes, tedders, bale processors and silage wrappers plus biomass harvesting equipment used for renewable energy and reclamation; and a wide assortment of industrial products for tree, construction, environmental and underground

utility service work. For more information on Vermeer equipment, log onto

Pioneer Hi-Bred realigns websites

Pioneer Hi-Bred launched its newly redesigned website – – which will quickly link growers to local, relevant and timely crop production-focused information.
The most significant change is the convergence of two Pioneer websites: and the Pioneer GrowingPoint® website. “Growers now will be able to access the information that was on the GrowingPoint website without having to sign in. Personal data, such as account access, online payments and online recordkeeping remains secure and still requires the user to sign in. features a new navigation menu that efficiently organizes information. A rollover feature displays a list of all the topics for each section, making it quicker and easier to locate content with fewer clicks. Besides quicker access to local information, the site features expanded content for livestock feed and nutrition, a best-in-class agronomy library, an upgraded product performance section and more robust weather, marketing information and news.
Growers can create an account on to receive Walking Your Fields® newsletter online. This exclusive agronomy newsletter written by local Pioneer experts arrives via e-mail several days ahead of the postal delivery.
The expanded livestock feed and nutrition section features videos from Pioneer experts and a new library that lets visitors quickly search for information written by Pioneer livestock experts, ranging from management issues to feeding tips.

Pioneer Hi-Bred introduces 2011 soybean varieties

Pioneer Hi-Bred, a DuPont business, is adding 29 new soybean varieties to its 2011 lineup.

The new Pioneer® brand soybean varieties, which range from Group 00 through mid-Group V, include 20 varieties with soybean cyst nematode resistance (three of which offer the Peking source of resistance), four non-glyphosate resistant varieties and one new low linolenic product.
Key products in this year’s lineup include the following:

  • • 900Y71 – This is a new leader product well-suited for the northern Red River Valley of Minnesota and North Dakota, and into Manitoba, Canada. It provides Rps1c Phytophthora resistance along with outstanding iron deficiency chlorosis and solid white mold protection.
  • • 90Y70 – This is a high-performance product for Minnesota, North Dakota and South Dakota, where solid Phytophthora resistance and iron deficiency chlorosis are necessary.
  • • 91Y92 – This product is broadly adapted for Minnesota, South Dakota and northern Iowa, providing a solid defensive package, including resistance against soybean cyst nematode, Phytophthora root rot, brown stem rot, white mold and sudden death syndrome.
  • • 92Y53 – A new leader in mid-Group II, this product offers solid agronomics, an outstanding defensive package, plus Rps1k Phytophthora with the Peking source of resistance to help growers maximize yield potential. Tough soils that have top-end yield potential are well-suited for this product.
  • • 93Y05 – This is a new early Group III leader for growers from Iowa through Ohio, and even into Ontario. It offers the ability to handle those high-yield environments while providing soybean cyst nematode and Rps1k Phytophthora resistance, along with a solid sudden death syndrome and white mold defensive package to handle the challenging growing environments growers can experience.
  • • 93Y82 – This product provides growers another leader choice for their late Group III acres, combining great yield potential and the agronomics and defensive package growers have come to expect from Pioneer.

For more information on any of these products or to learn about varieties best suited for your area, contact your local Pioneer sales professional or visit

Industry News: Animal health

Pfizer Animal Health names Northeast ‘externship’ participants

As part of its “Commitment to Veterinarians” program, Pfizer Animal Health welcomed 12 Northeast university students to its 2010 “externship” program, providing “hands-on” field training in livestock animal medicine. Participants include:

• Cornell University – Stephanie Brittan, Mark Fagan and Caitlyn Jeffrey.

• Tufts University – Deandra Dill, Alison Perkins Keen and Sarah Raabis.

• University of Pennsylvania – Cortney Bower, Amy Gates and Megan Tiffany.

• Virginia Tech – Sarah Brauning, Seth Mavrich and Jenny Miller.

The program is aimed at helping first- and second-year veterinary medicine students with a potential interest in large-animal medicine. They are placed at participating veterinary clinics to expose the students to the real-world aspects of this type of practice.

The program is available to students at every veterinary school and/or college of veterinary medicine in the United States. To view a complete list of the students enrolled in the externship program, click here.

In addition to the externship program, Pfizer Animal Health also provides scholarships to third-year college students who are nearly ready to enter the work force. This spring, Pfizer Animal Health offered a 1% rebate to local veterinarians, who then could donate those funds to the American Association of Bovine Practitioners (AABP) Foundation scholarship program.

For more information about Pfizer Animal Health, visit

Intervet/Schering-Plough Animal Health expands veterinary vaccine manufacturing facility

Intervet/Schering-Plough Animal Health opened a specialized filling and freeze-drying unit for veterinary vaccines at its Biosciences Center Boxmeer in the Netherlands. The opening of the Central Filling and Freeze-drying Department was performed by her Royal Highness Princess Máxima of the Netherlands in the presence of His Excellency the Minister of Economic Affairs, Agriculture and Innovation, Maxime Verhagen, and other guests.

Construction started on the Central Filling and Freeze-drying Department in September 2008, with a total investement of $18 million (U.S.$) The facility is designed to meet the latest requirements related to Good Manufacturing Practices (GMP) and Safety, Health and Environment (SHE) and brings all freeze-dried vaccine activities at Biosciences Center Boxmeer together in one building.

The new filling line has a maximum speed of 24,000 glass vials per hour, and the freeze-dryer can process 136,000 vials per batch. Vaccine production of market batches started in September 2010.

For more information, visit

INDUSTRY NEWS: Nov. 24, 2010

Diamond V CEO Bloomhall named Ernst & Young Entrepreneur Of The Year® 2010 national finalist

John C. Bloomhall, CEO, Diamond V

John C. Bloomhall, CEO, Diamond V, was named a national finalist in the prestigious Ernst & Young Entrepreneur Of The Year® 2010 Award Competition.  The award recognizes outstanding entrepreneurs who are building and leading dynamic, growing businesses.

Previously, Bloomhall had been named the Entrepreneur of the Year for the Upper Midwest Region. He was then selected as one of four finalists by an independent panel of judges in the National Distribution and Manufacturing category, a category in which 300 regional award recipients competed.

The category’s overall winner was Thad W. Simons, Jr., President, CEO, Novus Int..

Bloomhall was recognized at the Entrepreneur Of The Year® gala, the culminating event of the Ernst & Young Strategic Growth Forum in Palm Springs, Calif. The Forum is the nation’s premier gathering of high-growth, market-leading companies.

For more information, contact Diamond V at 800-373-7234 or visit the web site

The Big Ass Fan Company® named Kentucky Manufacturer of the Year

The Big Ass Fan Company was named a Kentucky Manufacturer of the Year.

The Big Ass Fan Company was named Kentucky Manufacturer of the Year in the mid-size business category.

Big Ass Fan Company, the worldwide leading manufacturer of large-diameter, low-speed fans ranging in diameter from 6 feet to 24 feet, was previously named Kentucky Manufacturer of the Year in 2006.
Kentucky Manufacturer of the Year awards are given to manufacturers who have demonstrated excellence in manufacturing and fall into one of three categories: small, mid-size and large.
For more information on Big Ass Fans, visit or call 877-244-3267.

Balchem ranks 24th on Forbes’ ‘Top 100’ list

Balchem Corp., a global leader in choline and protection technology, announced it ranked No. 24 on the Forbes magazine 2010 Best Small Companies of America, moving up from No. 64 in 2009. This is the seventh consecutive year that Balchem has been publically recognized on this list.

The annual list focuses on public companies with annual revenue between $5 million and $1 billion. Each company’s rankings are based on stock performance, earnings growth, sales growth, and return on equity over both the previous twelve months and over five years. The Forbes’ Top 100 Best Small Companies in America list appeared in the Nov. 8, 2010 issue. To view the entire list, visit

Balchem acquires FAMI-QS certification for North American plants

Balchem Animal Nutrition and Health, a segment of Balchem Corp., recently acquired FAMI-QS certification for their North American plants. Balchem’s manufacturing facility in Europe has held this certification since 2005.

The certification demonstrates compliance with EU feed hygiene regulations, and is designed to help streamline U.S. exports with European feed and ingredient customers. Participation in the FAMI-QS program is auditable and based on voluntary commitment.

Completion of the FAMI-QS certification requirements put safety and quality measures in place for feed additives and premixtures. European Union authorities have officially adopted the FAMI-QS programs, one of only three systems to be recognized by the EU.

CoBank reports third quarter financial results

CoBank, a cooperative bank serving agribusinesses and rural infrastructure providers throughout the United States, announced financial results for the third quarter of 2010.

Quarterly net income rose 13%, to $132.0 million, compared with $116.8 million in the third quarter of last year. Net interest income for the quarter was $226.3 million, compared with $223.1 million a year ago. Average loan volume for the third quarter was $44.5 billion, compared to $43.4 billion for the same period in 2009.

For the first nine months of 2010, net income increased 4%, to $451.0 million, in part due to the impact of refunds of insurance fund premiums paid in prior years. Net interest income for the first nine months of 2010 was $674.9 million, compared to $716.0 million in the same period of 2009. Average loan volume for the period was $44.1 billion, compared to $45.0 billion the year before. Total loan volume for the bank at Sept. 30, 2010, was $46.5 billion.

Higher average loan volumes recorded during the quarter reflected the impact of recent sharp increases in prices for certain agricultural commodities, which drove greater seasonal borrowing requirements for grain cooperatives and other agribusiness customers. In addition, the bank experienced growth in its Rural Infrastructure operating segment, primarily due to increased borrowing by rural electric cooperatives, partially offset by declines in lending to service providers in the communications industry. Meanwhile, CoBank’s wholesale lending to other banks and associations in the Farm Credit System declined slightly, indicating a low rate of growth in demand for credit at the producer level of the U.S. farm economy.

At quarter end, 1.88% of the bank’s loans were classified as adverse assets, compared with 1.74% at June 30, 2010 and 2.17% at December 31, 2009. Nonaccrual loans improved to $240.4 million, compared to $272.1 million at the end of the second quarter. During the third quarter, the bank recorded a $21.0 million provision for loan losses, in addition to $16.5 million in provision recorded earlier in the year. The provision for loan losses in the first nine months of last year totaled $55.0 million. The bank’s reserve for credit exposure totals $497.5 million or 1.81 percent of non-guaranteed loans outstanding when loans to Farm Credit associations are excluded.

CoBank is a $60 billion cooperative bank serving vital industries across rural America. The bank provides loans, leases, export financing and other financial services to agribusinesses and rural power, water and communications providers in all 50 states. It is a member of the Farm Credit System. For more information, visit

Quarterly ag credit conditions improve, but dairy remains troublesome

By Dave Natzke

Spurred on by higher commodity prices, third-quarter 2010 surveys of Federal Reserve Bank district lenders indicate rising farm income and robust demand for farmland. However, dairy regions continue to face stress.


Third-quarter 2010 average farmland values in the Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago (covering all or portions of Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Michigan, Minnesota and Wisconsin) jumped 10% compared to a year ago, according to David Oppedahl, business economist, writing in the bank’s quarterly AgLetter. The value of “good” agricultural land rose 3% relative to the second quarter of 2010, and almost half of lenders surveyed expected values to continue climbing in the fourth quarter.

Farmland values in Iowa were up the most, with a year-over-year increase of 13%, followed by Indiana and Michigan, at 11% and 10%, respectively, and Illinois, at 8%. The dairy economy continues to drag land values in Wisconsin, however, where the quarterly increase was just 1%, and the annual increase was 3%, well below neighboring states.

About 60% of responding bankers expected higher land demand among farmers to purchase farmland this fall and winter, with 37% also expecting demand among nonfarm investors to grow.

Stronger agricultural credit conditions in the third quarter of 2010 reflected higher expected farm income relative to last year. Loan repayment rates improved in July through September of this year compared with the same period of 2009. Loan renewals and extensions were down. Demand for non-real-estate loans in the third quarter of 2010 receded from the level of a year earlier. Interest rates on agricultural operating and real estate loans dropped to the lowest values recorded in history of the survey. As of Oct. 1, the district average for interest rates on agricultural real estate loans was 5.81%. Iowa had the lowest rate for farm mortgages, 5.64%; and Michigan had the highest rate, 6.16%. Interest rates for operating loans declined to a new low of 6.04%, on average, for the District. Operating loan rates ranged from 5.68% in Indiana to 6.50% in Wisconsin.

Forced sales or liquidations of farm assets among financially stressed farmers were expected to diminish this fall and winter, according to respondents. Wisconsin was the only state where the trend in forced sales and liquidations did not reverse from a year ago, and one-third of the respondents foresaw additional legal resolutions there.

For more information, visit:

Kansas City

District cropland values strengthened in the third quarter of 2010 in the Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City (covering Colorado, Kansas, Nebraska, Oklahoma, Wyoming, the northern half of New Mexico and the western third of Missouri), according to Brian Briggeman, economist, and Maria Akers, assistant economist.

Quarterly survey respondents also reported a rise in cash rental rates for both cropland and ranchland. Robust demand by farmers was still the primary driver in district farm real estate markets, though investor interest in good quality farmland remained high.

District bankers noted nonfarm investors typically expected a 5% or better rate of return on farmland purchases. While the supply of farmland on the market has declined over the past couple of years, some survey contacts felt that current elevated prices and the prospect of higher capital gains taxes in 2011 could prompt some farm owners to consider selling before year-end.

With a return to profitability for the beef sector, ranchland values rose as well, recovering from declines earlier this year. However, higher feed costs could limit profit opportunities for livestock operators.

With incomes climbing in the third quarter, farm credit conditions improved. More district bankers noted higher loan repayment rates and fewer loan renewals and extensions. Average farm loan interest rates fell to their lowest levels since the survey began in 1976, reaching a new survey low of 6.7% for operating loans and 6.4% for farm real estate loans. Collateral requirements eased.

Farm loan demand was steady and district bankers indicated an ample supply of funds available for qualified borrowers. Bankers reported a significant rebound in capital spending, especially for crop equipment and grain storage bins.

For more information, visit:


In the Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas (covering all or portions of Texas, New Mexico and Louisiana), land values were stable or slightly up, although land sales remain subdued.

The third-quarter survey of ag lenders suggested continued confidence for agricultural conditions in the district. Thirteen percent of respondents expect land values to increase over the next three months, the highest share in two years.

Loan repayment rates and requests for renewals or extensions stabilized in the third quarter. Demand for loans continued to wane; but demand for operating and crop storage loans was stronger.

Multiple regions benefitted from rains, resulting in good planting conditions and pasture growth, yielding good hay crop and above-average grazing conditions. Cotton yields are expected to be high and prices are elevated, providing solid margins for farmers. Cattle prices strengthened further, boosting profits for livestock producers.

For more information, visit:


Ag credit conditions were not yet posted in the Minneapolis Federal Reserve district (covering all or portions of Montana, North and South Dakota, Minnesota and northwestern Wisconsin). For more information, visit:


Ag credit conditions were not yet posted in the Richmond Federal Reserve district (covering all or portions of Maryland, West Virginia, Virginia, North Carolina and South Carolina). For more information, visit:

Eastern Pulse: December 2010

Northeast: The $3.17/cwt. advantage

By Susan Harlow

Some Pennsylvania dairy producers turned a profit over the last five years or so. But not many. Those who did paid attention to managing some key areas of their operations, according to Pennsylvania Farm Bureau’s MSC (MSC) Business Services.

MSC’s newly released study of 85 dairies showed the 24 farms that were profitable between 2006 and 2009 had an average net profit margin of $3.17/cwt. more than the other “average” farms. How? Don’t look for the easy answer.

“It flat-out doesn’t fly that there’s a silver bullet,” said MSC’s Mike Evanish. “In order for a producer to be in this elite group, it has to be a total management package.”

MSC Business Service first looked at data for 650 Pennsylvania dairy farms and found 19% were profitable in 2009. Then they looked at those profitable dairies between 2006 and 2009, finding 24 were profitable during that period.

Those 24 “study” farmers did stand out in several key areas, especially good-quality forage and high internal herd growth (IHG). The study does not say much for the rest of the industry. “Pennsylvania farmers are just not doing a good enough job at raising heifers and raising crops,” said Wayne Brubaker, of MSC.

Making more income was not the answer to profitability, although the study farms had $500/cow more to spend after expenses on things like debt service and capital replacement.

“The big difference in revenue was livestock income,” said Brubaker. “The quality and quantity of cows sold was better, and they had higher IHG,” leaving those farms with 34¢/cwt. more in livestock income.

Expenses had more impact than income, MSC said. The study group adjusted to changes in marketing more quickly and never let costs get out of control. “That’s why that group is profitable; they can keep production costs lower than average by $2.12/cwt.,” Evanish said

Interest expense was 49¢/cwt. lower for the study group. That’s an important advantage, but only 3% of sales, and so not a major factor, Brubaker said. The study group’s interest expense declined every year, while it went up for the average group in 2007. Evanish speculated those producers bought equipment to avoid taxes in a good year. “I would like to see interest expense at less than $1/cwt., and the average Pennsylvania farmer is approaching that, so they’re getting into a critical situation.”

The study group had 8% higher production, to which lower SCC contributed 1%. But they also did a better job of getting work out of their employees, averaging 236,600 lbs. of milk more per worker.

MSC concluded that those Pennsylvania producers who did make profits were able to make more milk per cow at less cost because they:

Had better animal husbandry, conception through slaughter, leading to a internal herd growth that was 5% higher. ”The average farmers were buying cows from study group farmers to keep their cow numbers up,” Brubaker said.

Understood the market they operate in and reacted quickly. “They read. It’s absolutely essential to know what’s going on in your industry,” Evanish said.

Produced high-quality crops. “Too often we ask the nutritionist to make a miracle out of junk,” Evanish said. “I see too many farms where the first expense they cut is fertilizer and pesticides.”

As a result, the study group used fewer acres per cow, had a $165/acre advantage in forage value, and averaged $3.36/cwt. for feed and crop expense.

Miner Institute Dairy Day

Miner Institute, Chazy, N.Y., will host its annual Dairy Day, Dec. 14. Exhibits open at 10 a.m.; the program at 11 a.m. The agenda includes:

• 11 a.m. – Updates from Miner Institute, by Dr. Rick Grant, Miner Institute president

• 11:15 a.m. – Early life nutrition and management: Preparing them to be better cows, by Dr. Mike Van Amburgh, Cornell University

Noon – Lunch (available for $5)

1 p.m. – Utilizing knowledge of behavior to improve the nutritional management of dairy heifers, by Dr. Trevor Devries, University of Guelph

• 1:45 p.m. – How to optimize return on investment of heifers: Pregnancy and other targets for optimum milk yield, by Van Amburgh.

For more information, contact Wanda Emerich, e-mail:, phone: 518-846-7121, ext. 11 or visit

Northeast Dairy Challenge

More than 110 students from 12 northeast colleges and two Canadian universities participated in the eighth annual Northeast Regional Dairy Challenge in Batavia, N.Y., held Oct. 28-30, 2010. Host coordinator, Dorothea Fitzsimmons, and colleagues from the Alfred State College welcomed students from Cornell, Delaware Valley College, Morrisville State College, Penn State, Ohio State-ATI, SUNY Cobleskill, University of Maine, University of Massachusetts, University of New Hampshire, University of Vermont, Vermont Technical College, University of Guelph and McGill University.

Working in mixed-university teams, contestants assessed all aspects of a working dairy farm, including facilities, nutrition, financials, reproduction, animal health and more. Students collaborated on a 20-minute team presentation, detailing their observations and suggestions to a panel of judges and participating farm families. For a list of results, visit


• Kentucky

In an effort to increase Kentucky milk production and quality, changes are coming to the Kentucky Dairy Development Council MILK Program. Starting Jan. 1, 2011, the SCC qualification will be changed to ≤ 300,000 average for all pick-ups for each month. The PI count will remain at ≤20,000 for each month.

Payment for a milk production increase will be calculated at two levels, based on the average production for each month for the 2009 and 2010 production years: The average production for the months of January 2009 and January 2010 will set the base production for January 2011. Each successive month will be calculated in the same manner.

With the 2011 program, a new dairy producer will be able to use their first three months production to establish their base. Their permanent base will be set when their first 12 months of production is completed.

The new payment scale will be 50¢/cwt. for a 5% increase over the respective month’s base production, and 75¢/cwt. for a 10% increase over the respective month’s base production. The payment cap has been increased to $15,000/farm/year.

The producer must be on a DHIA approved program with a minimum of six tests in a rolling 12-month period and one test in each quarter.

New producers not previously on DHIA must have two tests in their sign-up quarter before they are eligible to receive a payment. The producer must also comply with a record-keeping requirements.

For more information, visit


• Illinois

Two University of Illinois online dairy classes begin in January 2011:

• Milk Secretion, Mastitis, and Quality (ANSC 435) will begin on Jan. 17, coordinated by Dick Wallace. All phases of lactation physiology, mastitis, immunity and nutrition, and health will be covered.

• Advanced Dairy Nutrition (ANSC 423) will begin on Jan. 24. Coordinated by Mike Hutjens, the class covers nutrient classes, phase feeding, dry cow feeding and health, and forages.

Lectures are recorded on CD (class on demand) with an Internet live class held during the 10 weeks of class on Monday nights from 6-7 p.m. (feeding) or 8-9 p.m. (milk quality) CST.  Enrollees can participate for credit (U of I tuition rate), continuing education credit, or non-credit with reduced tuition.  To review the class schedule, topics, and enrollment details, go to:

Three regional Illinois Dairy Summit Seminars – sponsored by Illinois Milk Producers Association – are also scheduled in January 2011.

The sessions will be held: Jan. 25 – Centralia;  Jan. 26 – Bloomington; and Jan. 27 – Freeport.

Program topics include precision feeding, TMR audits, calf management, balancing feed and milk prices, as well as a producer/nutritionist panel. For details and registration, go to

• Michigan

An article in the October 2010 Michigan Dairy Review (, by Kathy Lee, Extension dairy educator for Northwest Lower Michigan, provides information about Michigan DHI herds based on two management characteristics: production and herd size. Several general trends were observed:

• The highest production group has the lowest average days open and the highest pregnancy rate. This group also has the lowest days to first service and the highest percentage of heats observed. However, the highest average for percentage of successful first services was in the lower production group.

• The highest production group has the lowest average somatic cell counts.

• Larger herd size average is associated with the highest production group.

These trends should not be considered a cause-and-effect relationship between milk production and the other key indicators. More likely, management factors that influence milk production also have an impact on other aspects of herd performance.

PEOPLE POWER: Quality assurance a key to the new higher management level


In several recent articles we have discussed the need for management to go to a new higher level, building on Albert Einstein’s statement: “The significant problems we face cannot be solved at the same level of thinking we were at when we created them.”

I believe quality assurance is a key to achieving this new higher level for most dairy farms.

Quality assurance is a term common to business, but not so common in agriculture.

Let’s begin with the recent highly publicized recalls of eggs produced on two Iowa farms. I have no inside information, but I am confident those farms had processes in place to produce quality eggs. Problems were created when those processes were not followed every time – likely a quality assurance problem.

1) What is quality assurance?

Simply stated, quality assurance is assuring quality in daily tasks, procedures and processes, making sure they are executed exactly as designed, every time.

It sounds simple; it is not. We go to educational meetings, read materials, talk to colleagues, study records, and build on experiences in deciding what inputs to use, procedures to follow and decisions to make to maximize or optimize productivity, efficiency and profitability.

The resources available to us and these decisions establish an unknown – but real – maximum potential outcome. When these decisions are not implemented exactly as specified, performance falls below potential.

Let’s look at three examples:

• Farm managers who raise crops spend endless hours selecting crop inputs and designing planting, pest management, nutrient management and harvesting systems. These inputs and systems determine the unknown – but real – crop yield and quality potential. We can’t control reductions due to unfavorable weather, but we can minimize reductions due to failure to exactly follow the input and planting/harvesting specifications. Eliminating these reductions requires quality assurance.

• Given our knowledge/expertise/skills and what needs to be accomplished in our position, each of us begins each day with an unknown – but real – potential for what we can accomplish. Every time we lose time because we have not established proper priorities, work on a task someone else should be doing, or keep working when a break would increase productivity, we fall further behind our potential for that day. Time management and other tools to reach our potential are quality assurance.

• Probably the most common example of quality assurance on dairy farms is proper milking procedure. We can look at this specifically in terms of somatic cell count (SCC). Great effort is taken to envelop a milking procedure. That procedure and the physical layout of the facility determine the unknown – but real – potential, in this case the SCC level. Each time that procedure is not followed exactly reduces the likelihood of reaching potential, resulting in an increase in the SCC.

2) Why is quality assurance important?

Quality assurance is needed to enable success – not something only needed because people are stupid or unmotivated. It is needed to go to that next level of management.

Let me share a personnel example of quality assurance. As an avid fan of the University of Minnesota Women’s Hockey team, each year I am responsible for three or four postgame receptions for members of the team’s fan club.

Early on I developed a checklist I use for each reception. Did I develop the checklist because I don’t know what to do, am unmotivated, or stupid? No. I developed and use it for two reasons: 1) to ensure that I don’t forget one or two of the many details, and 2) so I don’t have to waste time recalling everything and doubling back to do things I overlooked. The checklist is a quality assurance tool to enable me to successfuly have everything ready for every reception.

This is the most important message of this article: Quality assurance is necessary to enable ourselves and our employees to succeed.

3) What are examples of quality assurance?

A key to reaching a higher level of management is to expand our concept of developing tasks, procedures and processes. In addition to specifying the task, procedure or process, we need to also explicitly design a quality assurance program to ensure potential is reached.

In agriculture, we have too often referred to all quality assurance as developing standard operating procedures (SOPs). SOPs are needed for quality assurance in situations, like the milking procedure, where the tasks must be completed in a specific sequence. Where the sequence is not necessarily crucial, as in my reception checklist, an SOP is not appropriate, as it overly controls the person completing the process, likely reducing motivation.

Checklists and “To Do” lists are two of the many additional tools for quality assurance.

• A checklist is best used for tasks that must all be executed correctly to successfully complete an activity. The order is not critical to performance, but each must be completed each time the activity is performed.

• A “To Do” list is great for identifying tasks that need to be completed, such as in a day or as a repository for tasks to be completed when time is available.

We have a wonderful inventory of ready-to-use quality assurance tools. Contact me for more information.


Robert Milligan, senior consultant with Dairy Strategies LLC, can be reached via phone: 888-249-3244, ext. 255, e-mail:, or website: