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McNairy Central FFA

Max Armstrong profiles McNairy Central FFA, Selmer, Tenn., this 60-member chapter believes in the importance of projects and contests. Chapter member Clint Isbell talks about what what makes this chapter unique, including the contests the group enters.

The weekly FFA Chapter Tribute is an opportunity to shine a spotlight on the good work of your local chapter. Tell us about what you're doing, give us some history from your group and tell our viewers of the work you do in the community. FFA chapters across the country deserve recognition for the work they do, make sure we include yours.

To have your chapter considered for this weekly feature, send along information about your group by e-mail to Orion Samuelson at [email protected] or to Max Armstrong at [email protected] They'll get your group on the list of those that will be covered in the future. It's a chance to share your story beyond the local community. Drop Orion or Max a "line" soon.

The National FFA Organization, formerly known as Future Farmers of America, is a national youth organization of about 650,000 student members as part of 7,757 local FFA chapters. The National FFA Organization remains committed to the individual student, providing a path to achievement in premier leadership, personal growth and career success through agricultural education. For more, visit the National FFA Organization online, on Facebook at, on Twitter at

1973 International 1066

Max Armstrong takes a look at a 1973 International 1066, owned by Stew Paquette, Leesburg, Florida.

Max's Tractor Shed is a regular feature of This Week in Agribusiness. Max Armstrong shares information about legacy machines, their stories and how they may still be at work today. If you have a tractor you want featured in Max's Tractor Shed, send a high-resolution digital picture, your contact information, and information about the tractor - what makes it special - to [email protected]

Thoughts about trade, and trade deals

Orion Samuelson shares his thoughts on how President Trump is dealing with trade.

Samuelson Sez is a special feature of This Week in Agribusiness where Orion Samuelson shares his insights and perspectives into key issues of the day.

This Week in Agribusiness, May 20, 2017

Part 1

Max Armstrong opens this week's show with a look at this year’s corn and soybean crop. Lynn Ketelson talks with Andy Dimmel, McPherson Crop Management, about the planting progress being made in Minnesota. Scott Silveus, Silveus Insurance Group, tackles the Farm Challenge of the Week. And Farm broadcaster Gary Cooper, Ocala, Florida, offers insight into key issues farmers in that part of the country are watching.

Part 2

Max Armstrong talks markets with Mark Feight, International Agribusiness Group. In Samuelson Sez, Orion Samuelson shares his thoughts on how President Trump is dealing with trade. And Agricultural Meteorologist Greg Soulje looks at weather for the Western United States.

Part 3

Max Armstrong asks Colin Woodall, National Cattlemen’s Beef Association, discussing whether the new Farm Bill will stay on track. Max visits a carriage museum, and talks with Betty Senter, Grand Oaks Carriage Museum, about the unique carriages the museum hosts. And Max Armstrong shares his Tweet of the Week, @maxarmstrong.

Part 4

Richard Wilkins, Chairman, American Soybean Association, talks about the many open positions at USDA. Ag Meteorologist Greg Soulje looks at weather for the Eastern United States. And in Max's Tractor Shed, Max takes a look at a 1973 International 1066, owned by Stew Paquette, Leesburg, Florida.  

Part 5

Max Armstrong continues his market conversation with Mark Feight, International Agribusiness Group.

Part 6

Max Armstrong profiles McNairy Central FFA, Selmer, Tennessee, a 60-member that believes in the importance of projects and contests. And Ag Meteorologist Greg Soulje looks at the weather for the week ahead, including his four-week forecast.

Part 7

Max Armstrong talks with Stew Paquette, Leesburg, Florida, who explains how Max was the inspiration for him to start the Paquette’s Historical Farmall Tractor Museum.

California Governor seeks to axe support for FFA

Amanda Radke Culver's butter burger

Culver’s is making headlines again as the restaurant announced late last week that they had donated 238 blue corduroy jackets to FFA members who may not otherwise be able to afford one.

According to a Culver’s press release, “Local Culver’s restaurants along with Culver’s Support Center worked with the National FFA Organization, which develops its members’ unique talents and explores their interests through agricultural education, to donate over $30,000 to the organization’s blue jacket program.”

The donation was part of Culver’s “Thank You Farmers” program, which aims to build consumer awareness about the importance of agriculture while also supporting future food producers and agricultural leaders.

“For FFA members who have such a passion for agriculture, wearing the blue jacket is a sign of their commitment to the future of agriculture,” said Jessie Corning, senior marketing manager for Culver’s, in the press release. “We’re proud to provide jackets to these deserving students.”

The recipients of the jackets were made through nominations submitted by FFA advisors, and Culver’s worked with the National FFA Foundation to connect deserving members with local restaurants. The jackets will be presented to students later this year.

To date, Thank You Farmers has raised over $1 million in support of the National FFA Organization and Foundation, local FFA chapters and a variety of local agricultural organizations.

Grab yourself a butter burger for lunch this week and feel confident that this restaurant fully supports modern agriculture and our nation’s future food producers.

While this news is fantastic, I have to wonder why Culver’s seems to fully grasp the importance of agriculture in this country while California Governor Jerry Brown seems confused about where his food comes from.

According to the Oklahoma Farm Report, “Gov. Brown has proposed cutting out state support for the FFA program in California. In his 2017-18 state budget released earlier in the year, Brown proposed the complete elimination of funding for the Future Farmers of America program and other programs in Career Technical Education (CTE) serving students throughout California. Also included in these cuts were the elimination of Partnership Academy Programs, the University of California Curriculum Institute for recognizing CTE courses for admission purposes, and professional development activities for CTE instructors.”

In the past, these programs have been funded by $15 million provided by the California Department of Education to support CTE activities and programs. This is the funding the governor seeks to eliminate, and the agricultural community in California is speaking out.

“We are extremely disappointed that Governor Brown has proposed eliminating Career Technical Student Organizations like the Future Farmers of America and other CTE funding in California” said Jim Aschwanden, executive director of the California Agricultural Teachers’ Association, in an interview with the Oklahoma Farm Report. “The loss of these components of CTE will have a devastating effect on programs and teachers statewide. CTE programs remain vitally important to the economic well-being of our state, and this proposal eliminates highly effective programs that have proven their worth over time. We think this is a terrible mistake.”

California lawmakers will deliberate on the budget cut this June, but perhaps Gov. Brown and other elected officials need to be reminded about where their tax dollars actually come from.

In case Brown has forgotten, California agriculture brings more than $47 billion annually to the state. California is the leading U.S. state in cash farm receipts and produces more than 400 commodities, including one-third of the country’s vegetables and two-third of the nation’s fruits and nuts, according to the California Department of Food and Agriculture.

Let’s let Gov. Brown know what we think of his decision to axe support of science-based careers in food and production agriculture. I understand when times are tough, budget cuts may be necessary, but short-changing the future leaders who will produce the food for our nation and the rest of the world seems a little short-sighted, in my opinion. What do you think?

By the way, if you're anxious to find out who made the finalist round in BEEF's "For the love of land & livestock" photo contest, we plan on making the big announcement tomorrow, so stay tuned!

The opinions of Amanda Radke are not necessarily those of or Penton Agriculture.


4 cattle mineral misconceptions debunked

Photo by Bob Sager, DVM, Ph.D. Medicine Creek Bovine Health Solutions and Consulting Cattle on a Montana ranch

Source: Purina Animal Nutrition


“By skipping mineral supplementation, you may be skipping out on performance and profit potential,” says Kent Tjardes, Ph.D. and cattle consultant with Purina Animal Nutrition. “Minerals are vital to cattle productivity, so it’s important to have the facts straight.”

Here are four common mineral misconceptions debunked:

Myth: Mineral costs too much

“We often focus on the cost of feeding a free-choice mineral supplement,” says Tjardes. “But, we should also figure out the cost of not feeding mineral because the impact on cattle performance can quickly stack up.”

Research shows that providing cattle with an organic trace mineral source can lead to cows that breed back sooner, have higher conception rate, have enhanced reproductive performance early in the breeding season, improved calf average daily gain and reduced disease incidence in calves.

“An investment in mineral is an investment in the performance of your herd,” adds Tjardes.

Myth: My cows won’t eat mineral, or they eat too much mineral

Some mineral products can taste metallic and bitter due to ingredients such as phosphorus or magnesium oxide. If those flavors are left unmasked, cows may under-consume mineral.

On the other hand, overconsumption can occur when a mineral isn’t well-balanced. One example is a phosphorus imbalance. Because phosphorus is an expensive mineral ingredient, it’s common to see minerals with a lower phosphorus level. However, cows crave phosphorus and will overconsume it until they are satisfied.

“A palatable, balanced mineral can help cattle consume at target intake levels,” says Tjardes. “Finding the right mineral can take a small time investment, but one that’s worth it.”

You can also control mineral consumption through management. If cattle are under-consuming, place mineral feeders or tubs closer to loafing areas and water sources. If cattle are overconsuming, move mineral sources further away from these areas.

Myth: My herd is too small or large to control intake

Small herds often mean smaller, confined pastures. In these situations, cattle may eat mineral out of boredom and could overconsume. It can be helpful to evaluate different mineral forms. For instance, you may look at using a cooked tub mineral instead of a loose mineral to help control intake.

Large herds often mean more spacious pastures. If pastures are too large and mineral sources are limited, cattle may not encounter mineral sources on a regular basis. It’s important to use the appropriate number of mineral feeders for the number of cattle. One feeder for every 20 to 30 head is ideal.

Myth: We don’t need mineral in our area

“You might think you don’t need mineral because you have great grass quality. Remember grass quality can change drastically from month-to-month and year-to-year,” says Tjardes.

As grass dries down, mineral levels can shift dramatically. Grass also becomes higher in lignin as it dries down, and mineral availability decreases.

“It’s also important to remember that a forage test showing you’re meeting basic mineral recommendations does not mean you’re meeting cattle mineral requirements,” says Tjardes. “Recommendations and requirements are two different things – it’s important to meet requirements.”

Hitting two birds with one stone

Providing a mineral supplement not only ensures you’re doing what’s best for your cattle, but it can also deliver added convenience benefits. USDA research has shown that 82% of cow-calf producers use fly control, but only 14.5% of those producers are taking advantage of a feed-through form.

“By using a mineral with fly control, you’re hitting two birds with one stone,” says Tjardes. “It’s easy because you set out your mineral, your cattle consume it and you don’t have to gather cattle up to treat them for horn flies every month.”

Other convenient mineral formulas are designed to address challenges associated with fescue forages and grass tetany. There are also formulas designed to cover any season.

“If you’re not currently feeding a quality mineral, it’s time to reconsider,” says Tjardes. “A closer evaluation may show surprising benefits left on the table.”





Farm groups tell administration ‘do no harm’ on NAFTA

Railroad cars Hulton ArchiveGetty Images
<p>NATIONAL GRAIN AND FEED ASSOCIATION leaders are asking the Surface Transportation Board to continue requiring rail carriers to report weekly service metrics to avoid more tie-ups in rail service. <em>(Photo by Hulton Archive/Getty Images).</em></p>

The ink had barely dried on the Trump administration’s notice of its intent to renegotiate the North American Free Trade Agreement when farm groups began issuing press releases that basically said “Do no harm.”

U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer notified Congress on May 18 the administration plans to begin negotiations with the Canadian and Mexican governments. That started a 90-day period in which the administration must notify Congress of its goals for the talks.

Most farm leaders agree the 23-year-old NAFTA needs to be updated, but they continue to emphasize the importance of agricultural exports, particularly to NAFTA-partner Mexico, to U.S. farmers and ranchers who are enduring one of the most severe downturns in the farm economy in the last 20 years.

The National Cotton Council issued a release saying the United States must remain a participant in a “vibrant” North American Free Trade Agreement because it has been and can continue to be a very positive trading platform for U.S. agriculture, including cotton and textiles.

“With 95 percent of U.S. cotton exported in some form, we need positive and stable trading relationships with our international customers to maintain a healthy U.S. cotton sector,” said Ronnie Lee, the NCC chairman and a Bronwood, Ga., cotton producer.

1 million bales to Mexico

Lee said Canada and Mexico are significant markets for United States food and fiber exports. “With purchases exceeding 1 million bales, Mexico has emerged as one of U.S. raw cotton’s top five export destinations, and NAFTA plays a critical role in North America’s highly integrated textile and apparel supply chain.”

As the process of updating and renegotiating NAFTA proceeds, the U.S. cotton industry “urges the administration to stay involved in this important trade agreement and not weaken current provisions,” he said. “A strengthening of the textile rules of origin and a modernization of NAFTA can lead to an expansion of jobs and exports for our nation. This is a very sound way to grow our economy.”

Those comments were echoed by a number of farm groups ranging from the nation’s largest American Farm Bureau Federation to a new organization called the Food and Agriculture Dialogue for Trade.

One of the more interesting responses to the notice came from a policy paper issued by Raymond Robertson of the Bush School of Government and Public Service at Texas A&M University, which shows “strong evidence for NAFTA’s benefits and warns against throwing the baby out with the bath water.

President Trump has called NAFTA “the worst trade agreement ever, but Dr. Robertson said the evidence does not support that assertion or other negative claims made by administration officials going back to the presidential campaign.

Labor market adjustments

“The objections to NAFTA are really about labor market adjustment problems more broadly,” said Dr. Robertson. “Ending NAFTA won’t solve those problems. Furthermore, Canada and Mexico are the United States’ top trading partners and empirical evidence shows that all three countries reap significant economic benefits from the relationship.”  

(You can read more about Robertson’s analysis in a short policy brief titled “The NAFTA Intellect Disconnect: Actual Costs and Benefits versus Popular Perceptions,” published by the Mosbacher Institute for Trade, Economics, and Public Policy.

In the article, Dr. Robertson argues that “the most accurate way to think of the NAFTA economic area is as one integrated economy rather than three separate ones. That is, rather than thinking of Mexico as a competitor, we should think of Mexico as a partner in our national production process.”

Those ideas were reflected in a statement that “Our North American trading partners represent U.S. food and agriculture's largest export market, with total U.S. agricultural exports to Canada and Mexico more than quadrupling since NAFTA came into effect,” from the Food and Agriculture Dialogue for Trade.

The statement was issued by Food and Agriculture Dialogue Co-Chairs Gary Martin, president and chief executive officer of the North American Export Grain Association, and William Westman, senior vice president for international affairs with the North American Meat Institute.

‘Preserve the gains’

“As modernization of NAFTA is negotiated, it is critical to preserve the considerable gains that have been achieved for U.S. food and agriculture. We look forward to consulting with the administration, and interacting with Congress and other entities to incorporate the views of the U.S. Food & Ag Dialogue for Trade as the U.S. negotiating position is developed."

They said more than 200 associations, companies and individuals nationwide, including those represented by Martin and Westman, currently are participating in the Food and Agriculture Dialogue for Trade.

The National Grain and Feed Association, another organization weighing in on NAFTA, noted that one of every 10 acres of U.S. farmland grows agricultural products destined for Mexico and Canada.

“In addition, U.S. exports of pork, dairy, beef and poultry products to Mexico totaled nearly $5 billion in value in 2016. Total U.S. food and agriculture exports to Mexico and Canada have grown from $8.9 billion in 1993 to $38.6 billion in 2015. The food and agriculture sector supports more than 15 million American jobs and is the largest U.S. manufacturing jobs sector.”

American Farm Bureau President Zippy Duvall said trade is critical to the livelihood of the U.S. agricultural sector because it spurs economic growth for farmers, ranchers and their rural communities.

‘Job creator’ in rural communities

“The fact is 95 percent of the world’s consumers live outside of the United States and more than 20 percent of U.S. farm income is based on exports. Agriculture supports jobs in the food and agricultural industries and beyond,” he said. “Fully one-fifth of U.S. agricultural production goes to export markets and the money that flows back doesn’t just make American farmers richer.

“It also helps create all sorts of jobs in rural communities selling farmers products or selling things to those who sold farmers other things. A trade war could devastate rural economies that are often fragile to begin with.

To read more about Dr. Robertson’s research, visit



The Trump administration took the first step this week toward renegotiating the North American Free Trade Agreement. Robert Lighthizer said administration will start talks as soon as 90 days. NAFTA needs updating, both sides agree. Congressional Republicans fear substantial change may erode benefits to U.S.

It's remarkable to see how much land has been brought into wheat, soybean and corn production in past few years. 250 million more acres brought into production. Learn more by watching "This Week in Agribusiness."



A college student from Michigan was the person killed when car slammed into car in New York yesterday. 

The vice president of U.S. is addressing graduates of Notre Dame this weekend. 

The owners of a proposed dairy farm in Wisconsin say they will take their case to the Wisconsin Supreme Court. They say their 6,000 acres were zoned unrestricted.

Kansas tornadoes tend to live up their reputation. People there know to take shelter.

Farm Progress America, May 19, 2017

Max Armstrong offers a look at the upcoming 2017 World Pork Expo, which is indeed a global event. Max shares the international nature of this event that fires up at the Iowa State Fairgrounds June 7 to 9. You can learn more about the event by visiting Max also talks about the pre-show farm tours, which offer a look at the latest tools in pork production. Tour information is at the site as well.

Farm Progress America is a daily look at key issues in agriculture. It is produced and presented by Max Armstrong, veteran farm broadcaster and host of This Week in Agribusiness.