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  • P.J. Griekspoor

    Sometimes, A Good Idea Just Really Works Well

    Kansas Viewpoint

     by P.J. Griekspoor
     on October 30, 2010

    There are risks you take when you're Grandma. One of them is that the grandkids will actually like the lessons that you think they need. I decided about a year ago that I would do lessons instead of a bunch of presents at Christmas and birthdays -- piano lessons, horseback riding lessons, etc. This was a decision to both reduce the amount of "stuff" in playrooms and increase the amount of time spent learning something useful. Riding lessons was a gamble at the first of October. I…

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  • Holly Spangler

    Thanksgiving, Giving Thanks, Thanks and Giving

    My Generation

     by Holly Spangler
     on October 29, 2010

    We've got a few problems in agriculture. It's true. And as the debate regarding family farms and sustainable production and food safety and animal welfare and yadayadawhatever has heightened over the past few months, I think it's worthwhile to pause and to take stock. Because we've still got a lot of great stuff going on. So every day in November, starting Monday, I'm going to feature one photo, one area for which we can give thanks in agriculture. Or maybe just within rural life in general…

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  • Willie Vogt

    Tech Talk Turns Up Plenty to Ponder

    Farmer Iron

     by Willie Vogt
     on October 28, 2010

    Fieldwork across the United States is almost never done, depending on the weather so "wrapping up" a farm season may be a misnomer. As farmers in the Midwest work to bring in the last few acres of corn and soybeans (despite hurricane force winds this week), winter wheat growers are already putting in the crop for 2011. And the farther south you go the more work there is. Time spent in Georgia last week, with growers who were working hard to finish the cotton and peanut harvest brings to mind…

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  • Josh Flint

    Blaming HFCS for the Obesity Epidemic Is Narrow Minded

    Prairie Gleanings

     by Josh Flint
     on October 27, 2010

    I know this is a novel idea, but is it possible that Americans are overweight because they eat too much and don’t get enough exercise? Not according to a new “scientific” article in Obesity (an actual research journal). The article places the blame on the shoulders of High Fructose Corn Syrup. It points the finger at soft drinks, saying HFCS is to blame for the country’s obesity epidemic. As I investigate the HFCS debate for the December Prairie Farmer, I’ve…

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  • Holly Spangler

    What Will We Pay For?

    My Generation

     by Holly Spangler
     on October 26, 2010

    There seems to be a lot of conversation today throughout various social media regarding family farms, and sustainability, and factory farms. Or maybe it's just the people I hang with. That's a possibility. Regardless, after reading an excellent blog from the Illinois Farm Bureau this morning, and replying to a North Dakota reader who took issue with my October column on farmer profitability, I got to take part in an interesting Facebook conversation. A farmer in Kentucky posted this…

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  • P.J. Griekspoor

    The Bus From Lawrence Was Late, But It Arrived

    Kansas Viewpoint

     by P.J. Griekspoor
     on October 25, 2010

    The opening session of today's final (we hope) hearing for public comment on a new air permit that would allow Sunflower Electric Power Coop to move forward with an expansion of its electrical generation capacity at Holcomb sounded more like a hearing in Garden City than in Topeka. Speaker after speaker talked about the need for building more baseload power generation capacity, the jobs that would be created by the project, the state-of-the-art technology that would be used and the economic…

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  • Tom Bechman

    Attempt to Recreate History Not Easy

    Hoosier Perspectives

     by Tom Bechman
     on October 25, 2010

    This story has a beginning, but no ending. There is no surprise finish, at least not that I know of. The people that could write to the end of the story have likely went on to their reward many years ago. A farmer friend of mine near Edinburgh, Jim Facemire, was trying to determine if there were any tile lines in a certain part of a field. To his knowledge, and he's lived on this tenant farm 35 years, there wasn't tile in the 100-acre field. It's mostly somewhat poorly and poorly drained…

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  • John Vogel

    Yes, I'm Opinionated!

    Nor' east Thinkin'

     by John Vogel
     on October 25, 2010

      My editorial column in October's issue, "Dear Uncle Sam: Wake up – now!" drew a strong reaction from a gentleman in Michigan. And I admit, I'm pleased that my opinion aroused his sentiments and spurred him to write his opinion of my opinion. Yes, there was a bias in my comments. Whenever there is opinion, there is a bias – mine, yours, everyone's. That's the nature of opinion. We must be thankful we can still express it. Biased as they were, my thoughts reflect the…

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  • Tim White

    Washington Comes to Robinson Farm

    Buckeye Farm Beat

     by Tim White
     on October 25, 2010

    Ann Mills, USDA deputy undersecretary for natural resources and environment, made a whirlwind visit to Ohio Oct. 21. Mills stopped first to speak to the Farmland Preservation Summit, organized by the Ohio Department of Agriculture, before heading for a tour of Grand Lake St. Marys.  I caught up with her and an entourage of conservation leaders along the way at Steve Robinson’s Farm north of Marysville. Robinson has about 200 acres enrolled in the Scioto CREP. Under a warm October…

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  • P.J. Griekspoor

    Good News Is It's Raining; Bad News Is Not Where We Need It Most

    Kansas Viewpoint

     by P.J. Griekspoor
     on October 22, 2010

    Rain was pretty widespread across Kansas today as a cold front  lumbered across the state then backed up, creating a seasonal but strange-feeling switches between cool, damp and windy and warm, muggy and windy as the day wore on. I complained that I was never dressed right as I left the house to my oldest daughter who promptly reminded me that it's a lot harder to be the mother of four kids that you never know how to dress than it is just to take care of yourself. Ouch! But point taken…

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  • P.J. Griekspoor

    Be Careful What You Wish For May Be Word of the Day

    Kansas Viewpoint

     by P.J. Griekspoor
     on October 20, 2010

    You might think R-Calf supporters would have learned something from the not-so-great consequences of their demand for Mandatory Price Reporting, which virtually wiped out any information on daily cattle buying a decade ago. Or maybe from their stubborn insistence that Country of Origin Labeling would boost sales of U.S. produced beef, but which in reality has done nothing but increase the share of the consumer dollar that goes to the packaging industry which has to produce the labels and…

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  • P.J. Griekspoor

    Sorghum Is Getting the Word Out

    Kansas Viewpoint

     by P.J. Griekspoor
     on October 20, 2010

    I spent a pleasant hour this afternoon visiting with three representatives of the grain sorghum industry, two from the relatively new sorghum checkoff and one from the National Sorghum Producers Association. Sorghum is a well-known crop in Kansas, the nation's top producer of the versatile grain. It is much less well known in other parts of the country and commands a small share of the acres that could be planted nationwide. Historically, that very lack of numbers has contributed to a…

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  • Josh Flint

    Learning to Speak the Language of Consumers

    Prairie Gleanings

     by Josh Flint
     on October 20, 2010

      Last night, I had an epiphany. When debating the economics of organic, sustainable, green, or (insert buzzword here) food production, we’re speaking the wrong language. When consumers hit me up with their activist food production spiel, I always respond with, “Yeah, but how much are you willing to pay for ground beef?” In discussing it with my wife, I realized a lot of folks don’t know what a reasonable price for ground beef is. Sure, the moms of the world…

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  • John Vogel

    Throw Out The 'Bad Actors'!

    Nor' east Thinkin'

     by John Vogel
     on October 20, 2010

    Bad actors are people who look the part, but fail to deliver in the role they play. Government has them too, lots of them. While America is blessed with a multitude of highly dedicated public servants, we’re also cursed with an ample crop of self-serving rascals. Our role as citizens is to sort them out and throw them out via the voting booth. If we don’t, we get all the bad government we deserve. Fiscal irresponsibility is something we simply can’t afford…

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  • Willie Vogt

    A Tractor that Stands Out

    Farmer Iron

     by Willie Vogt
     on October 20, 2010

    Anyone who reads this blog regularly knows I like farm shows (and it's a darn good thing I work for Farm Progress). This week I'm at Sunbelt Ag Expo in Moultrie, Ga., enjoying the weather and the new tech on hand. As I got a chance to walk around the show on opening day, a tractor in the New Holland exhibit caught my eye. The company's machines are already distinctive with their "cat-eye" noses, but this machine stood out just a bit more - the T7070/T7060 with the Bluepower/Un-limited edition…

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  • Holly Spangler

    A Lesson in Photography

    My Generation

     by Holly Spangler
     on October 19, 2010

    After 12 years of photographing farmers…    And 8 years of photographing small children…   And one evening of photographing high school seniors…   I can tell you which is easiest. And it's not farmers or small children. When my friend, Jessica Atkins, asked me to take her senior pictures last month, I said, "Sure, why not?" Then I commenced to worrying. I'd never done such a thing. Senior pictures. How do you pose them? Do we need props? What's…

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  • Tom Bechman

    Nice to Find Former Hoosier Making Good

    Hoosier Perspectives

     by Tom Bechman
     on October 18, 2010

    Back in what seems like another lifetime, I taught vocational agriculture for four years, three at Whiteland High School, in 1978 to 1981. Through camps and contests, I met Chris Jeffries, a young, wiry go-getter who was putting Martinsville FFA on the map. Dormant for many years, the chapter started winning contests and placing well in overall state chapter rankings. You remember someone like that. So it didn't take too long for the two of us to strike up a conversation when I visited him at…

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  • Josh Flint

    Explaining the Science Behind Modern Farming

    Prairie Gleanings

     by Josh Flint
     on October 15, 2010

    There it was, at the bottom of my receipt. “Our chicken is antibiotic free!” I noticed this as was leaving the St. Louis Children’s Hospital cafeteria. For weeks, SLCH’s cafeteria has been baiting me with various bits of “sustainable” marketing propaganda on signs, the hospital t.v. channel, and now their receipts. They also proudly proclaim their milk is from non-RBST animals. Last weekend, I drove past a group of folks picketing a St. Louis KFC…

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  • Willie Vogt

    New Standard...Sort of

    Farmer Iron

     by Willie Vogt
     on October 13, 2010

    Writing about equipment is fun when you've covered the tech changes seen in our business for the past 25 years. However, I don't get to do much writing about cars and trucks (although we just profiled the Ford F-150 recently). In following the "on-road" machinery industry, I've watched plenty of change - but few are as interesting as the move by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency today. They've approved the E15 standard for cars, provided they're made in 2007 or later, which means my…

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  • Lon Tonneson

    Suprise in Huron, S.D.

    Inside Dakota Ag

     by Lon Tonneson
     on October 13, 2010

    People apparently know a lot less about farming than I thought. The Huron, S.D., Chamber of Commerce ag committee planted a demonstration field this year to show the public what a difference technology makes in food production.   I thought they were talking about biotech versus non-biotech.   But no, they were comparing growing crops with and without fertilizer, herbicides or the latest plant genetics.The demo apparently made a big impact on the consumers who saw the field…

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  • John Vogel

    Bring On The Clones?

    Nor' east Thinkin'

     by John Vogel
     on October 12, 2010

    Several years ago, I challenged a learned livestock friend with: “How long will it be before we successfully clone a grand champion steer?” He replied that it’ll probably never happen because there are too many variables beyond DNA. Being an unreformed steer jockey, I was mesmerized by the possibility. And, well, “never happen” happened at this summer’s Iowa State Fair. “Doc”, the 1,320-pound crossbred grand champion market steer, was more…

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  • Holly Spangler

    Indoctrination

    My Generation

     by Holly Spangler
     on October 12, 2010

    So last night, we took supper to the field, which just happened to be next to our church. While we were eating, a Cat dealer pulls into the parking lot with this. He was leaving it for our neighbor to try out today. This of course, went over the head of our five-year-old, who did his dad proud. He walked around, sized it up and asked quite earnestly, "But Dad, don't we want a green…

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  • Tom Bechman

    Rock Hard Soils Make Everything Tough

    Hoosier Perspectives

     by Tom Bechman
     on October 12, 2010

    I'm a soils nut. I marvel at how the good Lord used glaciers and other features to give us different kind of soils - many good for farming, some for pastures, some for raising trees, others for building homes on. I try to convey that enthusiasm to students as a volunteer coach. This year I've worked with 20 kids since mid-August. We will take 17 of them to the state soils contest in Knox County near Vincennes the last weekend of October. If you're betting on when the central and southern…

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  • P.J. Griekspoor

    Sometimes The Elements Just Come Together With Breathtaking Beauty

    Kansas Viewpoint

     by P.J. Griekspoor
     on October 11, 2010

    I glanced up during dinner last night when I realized that a shaft of light had replaced the steady drum of rain against the patio doors and caught sight of the golden light that breaks though as a storm departs. The setting sun lasted just long enough to paint a rainbow between the fall colors of the Bradford Pear that shades our deck and the cottonwood on the other side of the backyard. It was one of those moments when the sheer beauty of nature is just overpowering and you have to…

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  • Tim White

    Happy Birthday NRCS

    Buckeye Farm Beat

     by Tim White
     on October 11, 2010

    The Conservation Farm Family Award ceremony at Farm Science Review included a special feature this year with the celebration of the 75th anniversary of the Natural Resources Conservation Service. State conservationist Terry Cosby took to the podium to thank the agency’s staff as well as Soil and Water District employees for 75 years of dedicated service. Cosby noted that the accomplishments of the agency relied on strong ties between local district staff and farmers. He also congratulated…

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  • P.J. Griekspoor

    I Must Be Missing Something; I Just Don't Get the Why Not of Corn Ethanol

    Kansas Viewpoint

     by P.J. Griekspoor
     on October 7, 2010

    I don't get it. I sat through a conference of ethanol industry leaders this morning where a lot of the talk was about the challenge of meeting the Renewable Fuel Standard that calls for 36 billion gallons of renewable fuel by 2022, 21 billion of that from feedstock other than corn. That number, in case you missed it, is a requirement to outstrip current corn ethanol production of about 15 billion gallons, which took a decade develop from technology proven for three decades, by 6 billion…

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  • Holly Spangler

    Corn(y) Cookies?

    My Generation

     by Holly Spangler
     on October 7, 2010

    We have a minor addiction in our house: sugar cookies. And sugar cookie dough. And I know, salmonella. But it's so good. My secondary addiction: cookie cutters. I have a lot. Let's just leave it at that. Then last winter at the WIU Ag Mech Show, my kids came running up to me with a corn cookie cutter and I had to repress a minor urge to flip out. Seriously? A corn kernel cookie cutter?! So cool. I didn't even know such a thing existed. I've got tractors and cows and pigs and barns…

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  • Lon Tonneson

    Open Fields -- A Bridge To Nowhere

    Inside Dakota Ag

     by Lon Tonneson
     on October 6, 2010

    I say give the money back. USDA is going to award North Dakota $300,000 soon under the new $50-million Open Fields program. In the spirit of a “Bridge To Nowhere,” North Dakota ought to give the money back. Open Fields is a new program – dreamed up by Sen. Kent Conrad (D-N.D.) and others in 2003 – to pay farmers and ranchers to open private land to the public for hunting, fishing, bird watching and other wildlife activites. It’s a nice idea, but it doesn’t…

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  • P.J. Griekspoor

    Kansas Bioscience Begins Series of Workforce Hot Team Meetings

    Kansas Viewpoint

     by P.J. Griekspoor
     on October 5, 2010

    Industry and education leaders learned today that Kansas's bioscience industry is bigger, more diverse and  more promising as a future economic engine than many of them realized. The Wichita group is the first of eight that will meet around the state over the coming weeks to talk about how to best prepare the labor force in all parts of the state for the jobs that will emerge as the industry grows. Wichita representatives heard from two speakers from widely divergent sectors of the…

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  • Josh Flint

    A Refreshing Animal Rights' Discussion

    Prairie Gleanings

     by Josh Flint
     on October 5, 2010

      Yesterday, I had a terrific animal rights conversation with a consumer. During a tour of the Illinois State University farm in Lexington, we stopped to view the sow gestation stalls. The stalls we were viewing were “flex stalls.” ISU is working in conjunction with University of Illinois to determine whether these stalls reduce stress. After about a minute, one of the students asked the inevitable, “Why are they biting the chains?” (Rather than gnawing on…

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  • Willie Vogt

    Through August, Equipment Sales Solid

    Farmer Iron

     by Willie Vogt
     on October 5, 2010

    Every once in awhile it's good to take a look at industry machinery trends. In the August report from the Association of Equipment Manufacturers - called the Flash Report - there was solid news across most classes of machines in the latest report. For the year to date through August, sales of equipment shows the following: Under 40 hp tractor sales are up 4.4% compared to the same period in 2009 - and that's good news since compact tractor sales had been soft the previous three years…

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  • P.J. Griekspoor

    Have I Lost My Mind? I Enrolled Three Kids in Horseback Riding Lessons

    Kansas Viewpoint

     by P.J. Griekspoor
     on October 4, 2010

    I have two granddaughters that have wanted riding lessons forever. Well, at least ever since they learned to talk, they've been saying "Ride the Horsey." So last weekend, I decided it was about time, and I took the 5-year-old out to meet the folks at a local riding stable, C Arrow Stables, that is known for emphasizing teaching the WHOLE experience of having a horse, complete with scooping, raking and grooming as well as actual saddle time. She was enthralled and the stable was offering a…

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  • Holly Spangler

    Easy as Falling Off a Log

    My Generation

     by Holly Spangler
     on October 4, 2010

    Back when I turned 16, my dad decided that I needed to get a Class B license. This bummed me out at the time because back then, if you were just getting a basic Class D license, you could take your written test during driver's ed, do the driving test with your teacher, then coast into the driver's license facility on your birthday with little more worry than what to wear for your picture. On your first real driver's license! But Dad decided I needed a license to drive the grain truck. My…

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  • Tom Bechman

    A Great Way To Spend An Early Fall Afternoon

    Hoosier Perspectives

     by Tom Bechman
     on October 4, 2010

    There are much worse things to do on a sunny, crisp early fall afternoon than drive through rural Indiana. That's especially true if you're getting paid for it. And it's even truer if saying you're enjoying the drive is better than admitting the truth- you're lost! What's worse yet, you've got a perfectly good GPS unit sitting at home. But you were too macho to bring it. I figured I'd been doing this going on 30 years - finding farms in the country. How could I get lost in Delaware County…

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  • John Vogel

    What Happens When The Checks Stop?

    Nor' east Thinkin'

     by John Vogel
     on October 3, 2010

     Just got off a phone call from a nice man from New York, who asked if he could send my October magazine editorial, “Dear Uncle Sam: Wake up – now!”, to his least favorite politicians. “Yes!,” I exclaimed, “And send to your favorite ones, too, if you have any such political creatures!” Then we talked briefly about why politicians are so resistant to rocking the boat of status quo. (It’s not just any boat. It’s a cruise…

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