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Articles from 2012 In July

FarmTek Offers Hydroponic Fodder Workshop

On Wednesday, September 19, 2012, FarmTek will be holding a day-long workshop on hydroponic fodder production at their state-of-the-art Technology Center in Dyersville, IA. This workshop will focus on the benefits and ease of producing fodder hydroponically, as well as the types of systems FarmTek offers.

Workshop attendees will partake in a presentation narrated by FarmTek’s Greenhouse Manager Sam Shroyer, which includes topics such as benefits to livestock health, seed selection, harvesting and feeding fodder, microgreen production in fodder systems and more.  After the presentation, they will tour the company’s hydroponic greenhouses and participate in hands-on demonstrations.

It costs $100 to attend and attendees will each receive a workbook, lunch and $150 gift certificate to FarmTek.

For more information, visit

For orders or information visit or call 1-800-327-6835.

About FarmTek

FarmTek is the leading manufacturer of fabric tension structures and greenhouses. The FarmTek catalog features over 30,000 products designed to meet agricultural, equine, growing and gardening needs.  Corporate headquarters are located in South Windsor, CT.  Our Hercules Truss Arch manufacturing and distribution center is in Dyersville, IA.  Visit us on the web at

Alliance Ends 25-Year Relationship With Bank Of America

Last month, the Animal Agriculture Alliance reached out to Bank of America with concerns about its public support of Humane Society of the U.S. (HSUS) and asked the company to sever its ties to the extreme animal rights group. The bank indicated it would not discontinue its HSUS affinity card program, so the Alliance has made the decision to end its relationship with its bank of 25 years.

Bank of America’s agribusiness executive emphasized in a phone conversation with Alliance CEO Kay Johnson Smith that the affinity card program with HSUS was not new and that HSUS received no preferential treatment. He also emphasized his long-time connections with agriculture and his sincere commitment to supporting agriculture through numerous sponsorships, research and service.

Bank of America does not consider the $60 from each affinity card as a donation, but rather a “fee” paid to HSUS (and other affinity program participants) for bringing in new clients, he says. When told that HSUS spends a great deal of money on disparaging campaigns, as well as legislative and legal attacks against farmers and ranchers, while spending  spends less than 1% on direct animal care, he said he recognized that statistic. He then discounted it by saying people believe HSUS helps animals and they enjoy having a card with cats and dogs on it.

Ironically, the bank’s representative specifically pointed out that the most critical issue right now for agriculture is the constant pressure on people in the food business.  

After this conversation and careful consideration, the Alliance has decided to terminate its relationship with Bank of America. The Alliance cannot continue a business relationship with companies that are contributing financially to extreme animal rights organizations that seek to eliminate the animal agriculture industry. The Alliance appreciates the support of its members and others in the agricultural community who took action on this issue. Thanks to those who voiced their concerns to Bank of America via social media, phone conversations, and mail. The Alliance will continue to speak up for America’s farmers and ranchers who continue to provide us with a safe, healthy, and affordable food supply.

Ag Olympics At The County Fair

Ag Olympics At The County Fair

This week is our county fair, and my younger sisters are busy baking cookies, making crafts, clipping calves and preparing for the annual event. Meanwhile, my family is in charge of organizing an “Ag Olympics,” which will be this year’s entertainment at the 4-H barbecue.

Inspired by the 2012 Olympic Games currently going on in London, we’re coming up with a wide assortment of competitions for the kids. And, while the kids have fun playing games for the crowd, community members are going to gain a new appreciation for the 4-H youth.

Just like Olympic athletes, 4-H kids make a daily commitment to their sport. Instead of hopping in the pool like U.S. swimmer Michael Phelps or practicing on the beams like U.S. gymnast Gabby Douglas, youth in agriculture are out in the barn, washing and brushing their calves in preparation for show day.

And, it’s more than just fluffing up the hair on show day; getting a show steer ready for competition is a commitment. At the end of the summer, the steer is harvested, and the quarters of beef typically are sold to friends, family and neighbors.

These young people have Olympian hearts -- working daily to care for their animals and raising beef to feed the community. As community members come to watch the fun Ag Olympics event at the county fair barbecue, I also hope they gain a better appreciation for the young people in agriculture -- our future food producers.

Check out our State Fair Memories Photo Gallery here.

Novartis Introduces Website For NUPLURA PH With Resources For Preventing Calf Pneumonia

Novartis Animal Health US, Inc. has created a website exclusively for NUPLURA® PH, a new vaccine for beef and dairy cattle that provides fast-acting protection against bovine pneumonia caused by Mannheimia (Pasteurella) haemolytica.
The website,, provides information designed to help producers reduce the risk of calf pneumonia, shipping fever and bovine respiratory disease (BRD) complex by preventing Mannheimia haemolytica bacterial infections.
“M. haemolytica—formerly known as Pasteurella—is the leading cause of BRD complex and the bacteria most frequently isolated from pneumonic lungs,” said Doug Scholz, DVM, director of veterinary services, Novartis Animal Health. “It is a primary cause of severe pneumonia and death loss, as 29 percent of all U.S. cattle deaths are attributed to BRD." ¹
NUPLURA PH differs from other M. haemolytica vaccines because of the advanced cellular technology used to purify antigens in the vaccine. As the first and only U.S. cattle vaccine developed with recombinant technology, NUPLURA PH contains only purified leukotoxoid to deliver the strongest immune response with minimal reactivity. It is the first new M. haemolytica vaccine available in the U.S. in over 10 years.
In addition to disease information, prevention strategies and vaccination guidelines, the website also provides access to educational video clips, technical bulletins and email alerts.
“At Novartis Animal Health, our focus is on prevention,” added Scholz. “Our goal is to help beef and dairy producers minimize the incidence of disease and economic burdens that come with managing and treating sick animals. All of the tools and information we’ve included on are designed to help cattle producers minimize the risk of BRD in their herds.”
To learn more about NUPLURA PH and cattle health management tips that drive maximum performance, visit www.nuplura.com or contact your Novartis Animal Health representative.

Drought Aid For Livestock Producers Is Tied Up In Politics

As one of the worst droughts in 50 years ravages the Midwest, livestock producers are left without a safety net, wondering how they will feed their herds because government aid is tied up in farm bill politics.

Farmers growing crops have insurance to ward off the financial failure of their season, but cattle and pork producers don’t have such assistance. Emergency drought relief from the government — written into the 2008 Farm Bill — expired last year.

Stacey McCallister, a dairy producer in Mountain Grove, MO, has about 60 days of feed left for his herd of 200 cattle. He has already lost two cows to drought conditions and worries that even if he sells some animals, they will have lost so much weight that they won’t bring a good price per pound.

To see the full article, click here.

Nation's Grazing, Corn Conditions Down; Soybeans Up Slightly

Nation's Grazing, Corn Conditions Down; Soybeans Up Slightly

USDA's latest Crop Progress report (July 30) shows U.S. pasture and range conditions continuing to fall in quality. For the week ending July 29, 29% of pasture and rangeland in 48 states was categorized as Very Poor, while 28% was Poor, 26% was Fair, 15% was Good and 2% was in Excellent condition. Last week's Crop Progress report cited 26% as Very Poor, 29% as Poor, 27% as Fair, 16% as Good and 2% as Excellent.

Meanwhile, overall corn condition also was down, with 23% of acres planted to corn in 18 states being graded as Very Poor, while 25% were Poor, 28% were Fair, 21% were Good, and 3% were Excellent. Last week's report had those categories as 21%, 24%, 29%, 23% and 3%, respectively.

Soybeans showed some improvement over last week, with this week's report finding that 15% of soybean acres in 18 states were in Very Poor condition, while 22% were in Poor condition, and 34% in Fair condition, 26% in Good Condition, and 3% in Excellent condition. Last week, those percentages were: 13%, 22%, 34%, 27% and 4%, respectively. 

Spreadsheet Calculates Cost Of CRP Hay And Grazing

Spreadsheet Calculates Cost Of CRP Hay And Grazing

With the announced Aug. 2 opening of Conservation Reserve Program (CRP) ground in all Iowa counties for emergency haying and grazing for certain practices, producers may be wondering whether to use their land for those purposes. The Iowa Beef Center (IBC) at Iowa State University (ISU) is offering a new spreadsheet that estimates hay cost per bale or ton and grazing cost per day for CRP forage.
CRP pasture and hay won’t be high quality, but they can be used to extend other feed resource and help reduce pressure on other pasture and hay acres, according to ISU Extension and Outreach beef program specialist Joe Sellers, who developed the spreadsheet.
“The actual yield and quality of CRP tracts will vary, but in surveys conducted in past years, the average nutrient content has been 9.7 percent crude protein and 50.9 percent TDN,” Sellers said.
The spreadsheet calculates the forage cost per bale or ton of hay and the cost per grazing day, by accounting for the cost of 10 percent of lost CRP payment, the anticipated harvest cost and yields, he said. This tool will be useful in evaluating CRP as a feed alternative for cow-calf producers with short pastures and limited hay availability.
IBC staff member Garland Dahlke worked with Sellers to create the CRP Hay 2012 spreadsheet available at no charge from the IBC website. Click here to download the spreadsheet.
For assistance balancing beef cow diets with low quality hay, producers should contact their local extension beef program specialist.

Those interested in using CRP ground for haying or grazing must follow Farm Service Agency (FSA) rules and should direct all questions about CRP availability and the request process to their local FSA office.

The Angus Report, July 30, 2012

Top Angus News: Join us from the American Angus Association as we bring you the week's top stories, including a new FMD vaccine, legislation that would exempt manure from hazardous waste laws, summertime beef demand, and highlights of the MaternalPlus program.

CattleFax Update: CattleFax Market Analyst Lance Zimmerman discusses the USDA Cattle Inventory Report and insights into supply trends and farmer feeder inventories.

Supplying the Brand: Understanding grid marketing is often the first step in earning premiums for valuable Angus cattle. Pete Anderson of AgKnowledge Services explains what you need to know about grid marketing.

Practical Applications: Updated sale terms and conditions from the American Angus Association better reflect the way the business breed conducts business.

Around the Angus World: The 2011 National Beef Quality Audit calls for cattlemen to share beef's story to maintain consumer trust. Here, Daren Williams of NCBA discusses how farmers and ranchers can connect with consumers.

Horizons: In this week's "Horizons," we look at how video auctions like Western Video Market influence marketing strategies for cattlemen across the country.

Drought Drives Cattle Inventory Down, Consumer Demand Remains High

Drought Drives Cattle Inventory Down, Consumer Demand Remains High

In recent history, drought has been isolated to various regions of the country, rather than a widespread drought threatening most of the country. Last year, for example, drought was centered primarily in the Southern Plains. According to Kevin Good, senior market analyst for CattleFax, 70 percent of the U.S. cattle inventory is located in regions of drought.

“The widespread drought has ultimately led to the worst pasture conditions in the past 15 years,” said Good. “The U.S. calf crop is down 800,000 head. The bottom-line, when all is said and done, the cattle herd will decrease by about 500,000 head. This is compared to a 900,000 decrease a year ago, so we are seeing a liquidation but at a slower pace than last year.”

Despite the obvious challenges facing America’s cattlemen and women, Good offered reason for optimism. Consumer demand remains strong with solid retail and foodservice sales. As consumers continue to demand nutritious beef, cattlemen are given reason to remain in the cattle business and avoid liquidation. National Cattlemen’s Beef Association (NCBA) CEO Forrest Roberts said the challenges cattlemen are facing are serious, but we are encouraging them to trust the market signals and maintain cowherds if possible.

“The thing we have to remember is that consumers continue to prefer beef on the dinner table. Consumers are sending very clear signs to cattlemen to hang tough and continue producing the protein they prefer most,” said Roberts. “There is no doubt this will be tough. But cattlemen are tough people and I am confident we will weather this storm and rebuild the U.S. cowherd once weather conditions improve.”

Advice For Passing On The Family Farm

Advice For Passing On The Family Farm

“Life is 10% what happens and 90% of how we react to it,” says Gary Sipiorski of Vita Plus, who spoke at the June 2012 Governor’s Ag Summit in Pierre, SD. This philosophy can be applied to transition planning -- one of the biggest challenges facing agricultural family businesses. Those who fail to plan, plan to fail. Without a proper succession plan in place, the family operation could be lost to estate taxes, legal fees and sibling fighting. Sipiorski offers some insights to help navigate through the most common pitfalls of transitioning the operation to the next generation.

“The first step is to have a family discussion,” says Sipiorski, who is based out of Madison, WI, and is a meeting advisor for the Professional Dairy Producers of Wisconsin. “Farm families don’t talk a lot about the tough stuff around the dinner table. When you do, take notes. Write down people’s ideas. When dad tells you not to worry and that the farm will be yours someday, don’t believe him. In this legal world, everything has to be written down. Farmers won’t be able to farm forever. They need to start developing plans for the future, ideally at the age of 55.”

Once the discussions have started, it’s important to organize important documents such as wills, corporations, trusts, real estate taxes and loans.

“Sit down with the lender and clarify what loans the operation has, whose names are on them, how much is owed and what the collateral is,” he suggests. “Good lenders will sit down and explain what is being collateralized.”

Sipiorski’s advice comes from experience. He has been involved in many banking and ag organizations in Wisconsin and nationally, and is a former president and CEO of Citizens State Bank of Loyal, WI.

“Do a balance sheet for the farm,” he adds. “Look at feed inventories, real estate appraisals and fair market values of cattle and machinery. Talk to your accountant and put together a balance sheet to figure out where you’re at. Then, evaluate what’s in the shed. Look at your assets. Are all farm assets needed? Once the personal balance sheets are completed, ask yourself what it costs to put up a corn crop. What is the cost to raise an acre of corn? It’s $550/acre to raise an acre of corn. Put that in your balance sheet.”

The next step in succession planning is figuring out how to pass on the assets.

“What do you want to do? A land contract? A bank loan? Gifting?” he asks. “What about a cash flow projection? I don’t care what you have in assets, if you don’t have cash flow, it’s not going to work. Make sure you do the cash flow projections; it takes time, but you’ve got to do it. Then ask yourself what can the farm afford to pay in wages? What are the lifestyle needs of the family? Can we diversify to create more cash?

"Are there other siblings not on the farm who need to be considered? I will warn you, siblings can get together while mom and dad are alive, but once they are in the grave, it can be a rat’s nest. Parents, make a plan while you’re alive to avoid these pitfalls once you’re gone.”

Do you have a transition plan in place? Do you anticipate your operation will smoothly succeed to the next generation? What steps have you taken to help ease the transition?