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Steve Alexander fills in for Max Armstrong. He's in Utah for gathering of crop, livestock media professionals.

Over the weekend, parts of Missouri, Kansas had storms, while folks in Wisconsin and Iowa are dealing with flooding. In the Northern Plains, federal ag officials say the drought will cause growers to lose 64 million bushels of wheat production. 

Company that has built apple iPad for years will build in U.S. Once in generation prize. Up to 5,000 jobs. May be in Midwest.

When it comes to medical care and need for life-saving medical care, the world comes to U.S. Even veterinary care. A Thailand dog came to the states and is headed home doing well.

If you're of a certain age, you remember when there were three, maybe four channels on TV. On weekends was roller derby program on one channel. Created in Chicago 82 years ago. 

Farm Progress America, July 24, 2017

Max Armstrong shares the notion that the ag committees in Washington are groups that actually get work done. He reports on a story from Farm Policy Facts that shows the ag committees get work done with a bipartisan approach that achieves critical spending goals.

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.

Photo: Win McNamee/Getty Images

After months of slow movement, USDA team is coming together

Field of Corn, full grown with tassels.
LEADERSHIP NAMED: Six months into the Trump presidency, leaders for the U.S. Department of Agriculture are being named.

After months of slow movement in the appointment of the leaders needed to support the U.S. Department of Agriculture, progress was finally made the third week of July, six months into the term of President Donald Trump.

Trump’s appointee for secretary of agriculture, Sonny Perdue, was confirmed in late April, but until mid-July served without the deputy and assistant secretaries who normally fill out the leadership of the department.

On July 14, Trump nominated Stephen Censky, who had served as CEO of the American Soybean Association since 1996, to serve as deputy secretary of agriculture. Censky has to be confirmed by the Senate, but immediately won the endorsement of Perdue.

“Our work has only just begun in delivering results for the people of American agriculture, and the experience and leadership skills of Stephen Censky will only enhance our efforts,” Perdue said. “He will bring enthusiasm and a dedication to this country, which will be great assets to USDA’s customers. I am extremely pleased with the nomination for this key position and am hopeful that the Senate will take it up in short order.”

Trump also confirmed his intent to nominate Ted McKinney for undersecretary for trade and foreign agricultural affairs, a new position created in the 2014 Farm Bill.

Trump also said he will ask Sam Clovis to serve as undersecretary for research, education and economics. That appointment also requires Senate approval.

Perdue offered his strong support for both nominees. “For our new undersecretary position emphasizing international trade, I have always said that I want someone who wakes up every morning asking how we can sell more American agricultural products in foreign markets. Ted McKinney is that person. His longstanding background in agriculture, economic development and global issues will make him an unapologetic advocate for U.S. products in the world marketplace,” Perdue said.

“Dr. Clovis was one of the first people through the door at USDA in January and has become a trusted adviser and steady hand as we continue to work for the people of agriculture. He looks at every problem with a critical eye, relying on sound science and data, and will be the facilitator and integrator we need. Dr. Clovis has served this nation proudly since he was a very young man, and I am happy he is continuing to serve.”

Perdue made three appointments of his own in mid-July to help fill out his leadership team.

He named Brandon Lippos to serve as the administrator of the Food and Nutrition Services and also as acting deputy undersecretary of FNCS until the Senate confirms a permanent presidentially nominated appointee.

In addition, Maggie Lyons will serve as chief of staff and senior adviser to the undersecretary, while Kailee Tkacz will serve as policy adviser. Following the staffing announcements, Perdue issued this statement:

“The health and nutrition programs administered by USDA play a tremendous role in the administration’s efforts to improve education and job readiness. I have no doubt that Brandon, Maggie and Kailee will help further our mission of feeding the world and making decisions in our nutrition programs that are science-based and data-driven. I welcome Brandon, Maggie and Kailee to the USDA family, and I thank them for their desire to serve this nation.”

Source: USDA

7 tips for leading the family ranch forward

Amanda Radke Family Ranch Business

A family ranch is more than just a legacy passed down from generation to generation; it must also be a viable business if it has any hope of lasting. The leadership role often goes to the patriarch, and the next generation generally has to wait several decades in lower management before having the opportunity to start making business decisions.

If this sounds familiar, you may be in the position of thinking about retirement and worrying about how to transition the leadership decisions to a son or daughter. Or perhaps you are on the other end of it, wondering how soon mom or dad will let you take over the reins and hoping that your parents have a transition plan in place.

Yet, the next “in line” may not be the most appropriate CEO. Determining the transition of leadership in the family business needs to balance the best interests of the family, business and the ownership of the ranch, says Steve Moyer, for SKM Associates Family Business Advisors.

To determine the most qualified individual to lead the ranch into the next generation, Moyer offers these tips:

1. Develop a family employment policy

Moyer says, “Encourage family members who desire a leadership role to gain work experience outside of the family business and specifically define the objective criteria necessary for employment and leadership.”

2. Define the role

“Clearly define, in writing, the job description for the CEO,” says Moyer. “Identify the expectations and metrics to which he/she will be held accountable. This should also include the knowledge, skills, and abilities expected in the role, as well as a commitment to the family’s values and objectives. Have the senior generation guide the process of selecting their successors before they leave.”

3. Consider employing someone outside the family tree

“Be open to a non-family CEO for a season if a family member is not ready to assume leadership,” he says.

4. Set the CEO up for success

“Develop a communication structure and a governance system that efficiently and effectively outlines the processes for the family, the ownership, and the business to keep focused on the correct goals and objectives,” says Moyer.

To read more of Moyer’s tips, click here.

For longevity of the ranch, profitability should be a top priority. With strong mentorship, a clearly defined path and a set of achievable goals shared by all involved parties, a ranch is better equipped to transition leadership and succeed through multiple generations.

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

Animas FFA

Animas FFA, Animas, N.M. has been going strong for 60 years. Max Armstrong offers a profile with the help of Jade Masse, chapter president.

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

1959 Allis-Chalmers D-17

Max Armstrong shares the story of 1959 Allis-Chalmers D-17 owned by Marion and Randy Klutske, West Lafayette, Indiana.

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].

Eating in the '50s

Orion Samuelson talks about a recent posting about eating in the 1950s, and his thoughts on the topic. It's an interesting look back.

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, July 22, 2017

Part 1

Max Armstrong and Chad Colby open this week's show with a report from Jamie Johanson with a look at an interesting problem for cattle producers - vultures. And Farm Broadcaster Dale Minyo, Ohio Ag Net, Columbus, Ohio, talks about growing conditions and hot topics for that part of the state.

Part 2

Max Armstrong and Chad Colby talk markets with Dale Durchholz, Agrivisor. In Samuelson Sez, Orion Samuelson talks about a recent posting about eating in the 1950s, and his thoughts on the topic. And Agricultural Meteorologist Greg Soulje looks at weather for the Western United States.

Part 3

Max Armstrong and Chad Colby open with a report from Russell Nemetz, who looks at the Beef Checkoff and where that money goes. Max Armstrong offers a look at mechanical potato harvesters on display at the 2017 I&I Show.

Part 4

Max Armstrong and Chad Colby open this segment with tips from Chad who shares tips on prepping your combine for harvest. Ag Meteorologist Greg Soulje looks at weather for the Eastern United States. And in Max's Tractor Shed, Max Armstrong shares the story of 1959 Allis-Chalmers D-17 owned by Marion and Randy Klutske, West Lafayette, Indiana.

Part 5

Max Armstrong and Chad Colby continue their market conversation with Dale Durchholz, Agrivisor.

Part 6

Max Armstrong profiles Animas FFA, Animas, New Mexico. Member Jade Masse, chapter president, shares how the group uses its greenhouse. And Ag Meteorologist Greg Soulje looks at weather for the week ahead.

Part 7

Max Armstrong and Chad Colby shares a report from Colleen Callahan, who shares the story of a Fairview, Ill., sale barn.

Feedlot placements a bearish surprise

DarcyMaulsby/iStock/Thinkstock. Cattle in Nebraska feedlot

The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s July “Cattle on Feed” report may not have been full of surprises, but it certainly provided one large one: Pre-report estimates had suggested a 6% increase in placements during the month of June, but USDA reported a 16% increase.


Cattle and calves on feed for the slaughter market in the U.S. for feedlots with a capacity of 1,000 head or more totaled 10.8 million head on July 1, 2017. The inventory was 4% above the same period last year and in line with analysts’ expectations.


The inventory included 6.96 million steers and steer calves, up 1% from the previous year. This group accounted for 64% of the total inventory. Heifers and heifer calves accounted for 3.86 million head, up 11% from 2016.

Placements totaled 1.77 million head, with net placements at 1.71 million head. During June, placements were 375,000 head for cattle and calves weighing less than 600 lb. , 315,000 head for those weighing 600-699 lb., 430,000 head for 700-799 lb., 385,000 head for 800-899 lb., 170,000 head for 900-999 lb. and 95,000 head for 1,000 lb.-plus.

Marketings of fed cattle during June totaled 1.99 million head, 4% above 2016 and fairly close to pre-report estimates.

Other disappearance totaled 56,000 head during June, 8% below 2016.

All cattle on feed up from 2015

Cattle and calves on feed for the slaughter market in the U.S. for all feedlots totaled 12.8 million head on July 1, 2017, up 6% from the July 1, 2015, total of 12.1 million head. Cattle on feed in feedlots with a capacity of 1,000 head or more accounted for 84.5% of the total cattle on feed on July 1, 2017. This is down 0.1% from 2015, USDA said.


Authorities in Indiana asking armchair detectives to stop amateur sleuthing. Armchair sleuthing could open person to liability.

United Soybean Board paying tribute to its leader, John Becherer, who is retiring later this year. 

How bad can vultures be? In northern Arkansas they are killing calves. They prey upon baby Calves. Learn more at This Week in Agribusiness over the weekend. Check your local listings.

They're celebrating the Edsel in Detroit this weekend. It was introduced in 1957. A year later is was gone. Slow selling car with unreliable innovations was gone from Ford lineup by 1959.