• Holly Spangler

    30 Days on a Prairie Farm: Future

    My Generation

     by Holly Spangler
     on November 30, 2012

    Among the most awe-inspiring things in agriculture is to look back at how our grandparents farmed. Then look at where we are today. In our grandparents' lifetimes, they went from farming with horses hitched to a moldboard plow to farming with tractors. Soybeans were commercialized in their lifetime. Corn was hybridized - which is to say, farmer/plant breeders discovered they could cross-breed corn varieties and the hybrid vigor made for far greater yielding plants. They saw a…

    Continue Reading


  • Holly Spangler

    30 Days on a Prairie Farm: Organic

    My Generation

     by Holly Spangler
     on November 29, 2012

    Last month, I was in Chicago to cover the U.S. Farmers & Ranchers Alliance's research summit. I sat down at a table, and thought to myself that the woman across from me looked familiar. Then I checked her name tag and I'll be darned if wasn't Emily Zweber. We're Facebook friends! We'd just never met in real life. She looked and me and apparently thought the same thing, because we commenced to introducing ourselves in real life (or IRL, as the kids say, which is kind…

    Continue Reading


  • Willie Vogt

    Farm Equipment Dealer Group Expands…in Serbia

    Farmer Iron

     by Willie Vogt
     on November 28, 2012

    We can be so provincial, only thinking about our local needs and opportunities, but farm equipment makers are global with operations and factories around the world. Seldom, however do we think our dealers are also thinking globally, yet a release I got last week reminded me that global can be the way to go for a lot of businesses. Titan Machinery announced it had entered into an agreement for VAIT D.o.o. to acquire a Case IH dealership in the Vojvodina of Serbia, and they'll close on…

    Continue Reading


  • Holly Spangler

    30 Days on a Prairie Farm: Chemicals

    My Generation

     by Holly Spangler
     on November 28, 2012

    When I have had the privilege to sit and talk with consumers who don't know horsepower from horses, there is one topic that consistently comes up: chemicals. "Do we use them?" "Why do we use them?" "Why do we use so much of them?" "Is it causing some unknown - cancer, obesity, disease, etc?" And really, the overarching assumption seems to be that we farmers are out here simply dumping on the chemicals. Wasting excess amounts of…

    Continue Reading


  • Josh Flint

    Junk Science Gives High Fructose Corn Syrup a Black Eye

    Prairie Gleanings

     by Josh Flint
     on November 28, 2012

    This had me screaming at the television last night. Our local news picked up the story and just ran a blanket summary. It went something like this: “High-fructose corn syrup has been linked to a higher incidence of type 2 diabetes. According to a new study, type 2 diabetes is 20% more common in countries that use high-fructose corn syrup, such as the U.S.” And, on to the next story. Before even digging into the matter, I yelled, “Correlation does not equal…

    Continue Reading


  • Curt Arens

    Drought and Climate Change: Is It a Natural Thing?

    Husker Home Place

     by Curt Arens
     on November 28, 2012

    I don’t know of very many people who deny that the Earth’s climate is changing. But, if you listen to some alarmists, it is changing so rapidly, solely because human activity has caused large releases of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases into the atmosphere. So, apparently, only Hollywood and the government can save us now. On the U.S. EPA website on the topic, the headlines are clear. Climate Change is Happening. Humans are Largely Responsible. Climate Change Affects…

    Continue Reading


  • Holly Spangler

    30 Days on a Prairie Farm: Sustainability

    My Generation

     by Holly Spangler
     on November 27, 2012

    I'll likely get in trouble for saying this but I'll do it anyway: I really dislike the word "sustainability." The word has become fraught with politics and peril. Look around your grocery store, and particularly any large urban grocery, and you'll see it showing up on labels: "sustainably grown!" Throw sustainable in front of any noun and you suddenly have something that must surely be good, if only because it's preceded by sustainable. Sustainable…

    Continue Reading


  • Rod Swoboda

    What A Difference A Year Makes

    Iowa Farm Scene

     by Rod Swoboda
     on November 27, 2012

    In the spring and summer of 2011, the governors of Midwest states accused the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers of negligence. Decisions by the corps caused major flooding along the Missouri River as the corps released too much water from reservoirs upstream in the Dakotas and Montana. That big release of water flowed downstream and flooded farmers and homeowners who lived too close to the river or who farmed land near the river. Now, in 2012, the corps is being begged by shipping interests to…

    Continue Reading


  • Fran O

    Avoid The Malls And Shop Local This Holiday Season

    Badger View

     by Fran O'Leary
     on November 26, 2012

    Another Turkey Day has come and gone and the Christmas shopping season is in full swing. If you were brave enough and crazy enough to venture out on Thanksgiving night or on Black Friday to do some Christmas shopping, but came up empty handed or with less than what you had bargained for, rethink your gift list and think simple this year. If you are tired of driving to the mall and dealing with all the crowds at the big box stores, or you're not sure what to get the loved ones left on…

    Continue Reading


  • T.J. Burnham

    Sometimes A Great Moment

    Western Ag Vignettes

     by T.J. Burnham
     on November 26, 2012

    I can't get over the feeling that we are on the brink of a great agricultural age. When I look at how the world population is about to mushroom, combined with the fact our industry has never been so technologically tweaked to precision and efficiency, it seems our time has come. How can it not be so? Food is the elemental essential, and that is what we do. As the global community widens an unprecedented need for protein and fundamental nutrients, our role will become more pivotal…

    Continue Reading


  • Holly Spangler

    30 Days on a Prairie Farm: Cattle

    My Generation

     by Holly Spangler
     on November 26, 2012

    From the outside looking in, the U.S. beef industry can be a titch confusing. Actually, sometimes from the inside, it can be a titch confusing. To start with, you have two basic types of herds, particularly here in Illinois. Either you're a purebred seedstock cattle operation, or a commercial crossbred cattle operation. The first means you are raising animals for genetic superiority, so you're looking for calves that have a particular trait or set of traits that will make them…

    Continue Reading


  • Lon Tonneson

    Telling Animal Ag’s Shocking Truth

    Inside Dakota Ag

     by Lon Tonneson
     on November 26, 2012

    I was blown away by what Wes Jamison said when he lectured at South Dakota State University recently. Jamison, a Palm Beach Atlantic University professor of political science and an expert in animal welfare messaging, showed example after example of simple, powerful and effective advertising from the People for Ethical Treatment of Animals, the Humane Society of the United States and other groups. In one advertisement, a puppy and baby pig stand side by side. The caption reads…

    Continue Reading


  • Tom Bechman

    Thanksgiving 'Leftovers' Include Much More Than Food

    Hoosier Perspectives

     by Tom Bechman
     on November 26, 2012

    If it's early in the week after Thanksgiving when you're reading this, you're probably still finishing up the Thanksgiving leftovers. Cold turkey sandwiches are good, but I prefer heating it up in the microwave. Maybe there's a little bit of gravy left to pour over it, or maybe some cranberry sauce. Those are all winning combinations in my book. Thanksgiving leftovers aren't the only things you likely need to take care of in 2012 before this notorious year passes into…

    Continue Reading


  • Holly Spangler

    30 Days on a Prairie Farm: Family

    My Generation

     by Holly Spangler
     on November 25, 2012

    A few years ago, my husband was pouring concrete at our farm up the road, putting in a pad for gluten feed. Our oldest was in school, so I grabbed the younger kids and ran up the road, mostly thinking how much my son, then 3, would love the concrete action. And he did. But while we were there and as I was snapping picture, another image took shape. The concrete was done, and I focused my lens on my husband walking away with Nathan hot on his heels, running and dust flying, to keep up…

    Continue Reading


  • Holly Spangler

    30 Days on a Prairie Farm: Dogs

    My Generation

     by Holly Spangler
     on November 24, 2012

    Just for the fun of it, I shot some family photos for a handful of friends this fall. And among the parents, teenagers, small kids and babies who made up the families, one family brought along their canine member. Her name was Mae and I loved her and I loved that she was part of the family photo. Mae is a farm dog, and is a black lab. And like other farm dogs, she's pretty special to her people. In fact, we devote an entire contest and an issue each year to celebrating farm dogs here…

    Continue Reading


  • Holly Spangler

    30 Days on a Prairie Farm: Big Fun

    My Generation

     by Holly Spangler
     on November 23, 2012

    Two winters ago, the Spangler family embarked upon an afternoon of fun that has come to be known ever since as simply, "Redneck Sledding." And since this is officially the day after Thanksgiving and the holiday season is upon us, I felt like this might be an appropriate time to pause and reflect on the fun and the elements of danger we seem to crave here on the farm. In this photo, you'll note the dismembered top of a poly tank. With a rope tied to it. You can put two and…

    Continue Reading


  • Holly Spangler

    30 Days on a Prairie Farm: Relationship

    My Generation

     by Holly Spangler
     on November 22, 2012

    If you'd like to see my children get super excited - or maybe start fighting - mention the chance to go ride in the tractor with Mr. Jerry. Or go fishing with Mr. Jerry. Or do just about anything with Mr. Jerry. Mr. Jerry ("Mistew Jewwy" in Nathan-speak) is our neighbor and seasonal farm employee. Jerry loves to run a tractor, and so that's what he does in the spring and the fall. Early on, Nathan discovered that riding with Mr. Jerry was great fun because A) he sings…

    Continue Reading


  • Holly Spangler

    30 Days on a Prairie Farm: Bottle Calves

    My Generation

     by Holly Spangler
     on November 21, 2012

    I've written before about our children and their bottle calves. At this point in the game, Jenna has had two calves - Buttercup and Dorothy - and Nathan has had two calves - Don and Buddy. Jenna was 7 when she got her first calf, and Nathan was 6. We have been reasonably adamant in our household that they would not have a calf until they were old enough to go out and care for it themselves. All the calves have come from our cows, and were either twins the cow couldn't care for…

    Continue Reading


  • Josh Flint

    Hey Dad, What's the Estate Plan?

    Prairie Gleanings

     by Josh Flint
     on November 21, 2012

    Tomorrow, there will be turkey, gravy, potatoes, football and pie. Somewhere in there, you’ll also have time for family discussion and fellowship. With the uncertainty surrounding estate taxes, you may have an opportune time to approach this difficult subject. For many in the older generation, this may be the last thing you want to discuss. After all, it does remind you of your own mortality. However, if you’ve got a son or daughter farming with you, you’re not just…

    Continue Reading


  • Rod Swoboda

    Iowa Ethanol Supporters Applaud EPA Decision On RFS

    Iowa Farm Scene

     by Rod Swoboda
     on November 20, 2012

    Gov. Terry Branstad of Iowa and Iowa Lt. Gov. Kim Reynolds applaud the federal government’s decision to uphold the Renewable Fuel Standard and deny pending waiver requests. Iowa leads the nation in ethanol production, accounting for 25% of total U.S. ethanol production, said Branstad on November 16, immediately after the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency made its announcement. “In addition, Iowa’s biofuels industry has added $13.1 billion to our economy…

    Continue Reading


  • Holly Spangler

    30 Days on a Prairie Farm: Antibiotics

    My Generation

     by Holly Spangler
     on November 20, 2012

    So if you've been following this blog, you may have noticed a flurry of posts last Thursday. That's because I was attending The Food Dialogues in New York, and live-blogged about each of three panels. Good times. And a wrist cramp. You can catch up on each of those panels here on my blog: 1, 2 and 3. And also here, in our web coverage of each of them: marketing, antibiotics and biotechnology. So much reading. Yet, of the 5 ½ hours of dialogue that day, I came away…

    Continue Reading


  • T.J. Burnham

    In The Effervescent Flicker Of My Florescent Desk Light

    Western Ag Vignettes

     by T.J. Burnham
     on November 19, 2012

    Plane crashes and April 15 aside, life is good. Of late I have been using the "Life is hard, then you die," cliché to friends and family. Since very few of these listen to me anyway, I have failed to make an impression. Anyway, I really am an angry optimist. Angry that I am not so rich I can live in Paris in the Ritz, optimistic because there's always that next lottery ticket! Oh, I have such visions of myself as James Bond, or maybe Ward Bond at least. I put my…

    Continue Reading


  • Willie Vogt

    Playing Catch-up, Like Everyone Else

    Farmer Iron

     by Willie Vogt
     on November 19, 2012

    Sorry blog readers, I've been tied up on a few things the past couple of weeks, so I've slipped behind schedule. I'm working to get on track and enjoy your readership and comments (when you have time to make 'em). Thanksgiving is a super time for all of us. We're thankful for what we have - and in this nation we have plenty to be thankful for in a nation where there's food everywhere. Those of us who get our income from farming (even an editor who writes about ag…

    Continue Reading


  • Holly Spangler

    30 Days on a Prairie Farm: Straight Rows

    My Generation

     by Holly Spangler
     on November 19, 2012

    Farmers like straight corn rows and until very recent history, some farmers even pegged their ability as an equipment operator on how straight their rows were. Then autosteer came along and now everyone has straight rows. Amen. The joke is, of course, that you can get more corn in a crooked row than a straight one. I tried telling my husband that once, and he didn't buy it. But that was a stressful situation, so there's that. But in the end, farmers like straight rows just…

    Continue Reading


  • John Vogel

    Give Thanks For What You Didn't Get

    Nor' east Thinkin'

     by John Vogel
     on November 19, 2012

    While major retailers would have us skip over Thanksgiving, it would be a huge mistake to do so. Taking time to reflect on what we have and don’t have makes every single one of us more complete. It’s a necessary life balancer that, if nothing else, keeps us humble and appreciative. And that impacts everyone and every creature we care for – even the dogs and cats. Remembering the things that happened so far this year are relatively easy. But sit down and make a list…

    Continue Reading


  • P.J. Griekspoor

    Drought Worries Take Backseat to Kids Outside For Holiday

    Kansas Viewpoint

     by P.J. Griekspoor
     on November 19, 2012

    I have a BIG family with lots of small children and I’m reminded as the holiday season nears that I have a great deal to be thankful for. Each and every one of the nine grandkids who will be at my house are a blessing in their own right and loved almost beyond comprehension at Grandma’s house, where the primary rule is “anything you want (insert name), darling.” My second-oldest granddaughter, Alyssa, has developed an interest in cooking and she’s…

    Continue Reading


  • Curt Arens

    Collecting Farm Data: Getting to the Big Picture

    Husker Home Place

     by Curt Arens
     on November 19, 2012

    I have become a big fan of technology. Although I’m a traditionalist at heart, I have seen the huge positive impact of technology on farms and ranches firsthand. I’m convinced that technology is the tool that will allow farmers of the future to feed the growing world population. No matter which direction we turn, technology is making waves. The way we communicate, the way we select seed, view fertility, handle pests and build organic matter are all tied intimately to…

    Continue Reading


  • Tom Bechman

    Life Goes On In Hoosier Farm Country

    Hoosier Perspectives

     by Tom Bechman
     on November 19, 2012

    Our item that ran right around election day said that no matter how the election turned out, the sun would come up the next morning – somewhere. "Maybe it did. But it was certainly mighty cloudy," one reader told us tongue-in-cheek. The Wednesday after election day was cloudy in Indiana. But the reader was referring to the political races, especially the Presidential election. Obviously, he was a Romney supporter. Actually, it looks like we're back where we…

    Continue Reading


  • Holly Spangler

    30 Days on a Prairie Farm: Kid Love

    My Generation

     by Holly Spangler
     on November 18, 2012

    Very, very rarely, my kids have said things like, "If we lived in town, we'd get to play with our friends all the time." To which I say, "Yes, that is true. But you wouldn't get to have calves, or bottle babies, or a rabbit, or four wheelers. You wouldn't get to go help Dad do chores. Or ride in a Ranger. Or in a tractor. Or walk over to Grandma's. Or ride your bike all the way down the road." And then they nod, and the momentary troubles of country…

    Continue Reading


  • Holly Spangler

    30 Days on a Prairie Farm: Love

    My Generation

     by Holly Spangler
     on November 17, 2012

    This month in Prairie Farmer, we devoted an issue to celebrating all that's good in agriculture (here, here, here, here and here). It's been a tough production year on the farm, and it felt like a good time to pause, reflect, and remember the good. And so with that in mind, we invited readers to participate. In the meantime, I drove up to the Joe and Emily Webel farm and shot some photos of their lovely family. They shared their thoughts on why they love farming, and it was so…

    Continue Reading


  • Holly Spangler

    30 Days on a Prairie Farm: Store Grain

    My Generation

     by Holly Spangler
     on November 16, 2012

    Illinois and the Midwest, in general, have some tremendous advantages, including but not limited to ridiculously deep topsoil and beaucoup grain markets. (I've always wanted to use the word "beaucoup" in a story. Check.) That is to say, where we sit in our part of the world, we are farming directly between two major rivers that carry grain around the world ( the Illinois and Mississippi). We also have four ethanol plants within an hour's drive, and we have a rail…

    Continue Reading


  • Josh Flint

    Our Soybeans Aren't As Good As Brazil's

    Prairie Gleanings

     by Josh Flint
     on November 16, 2012

    We’ve got a serious disconnect in the soybean value chain. At the Illinois Soybean Association’s “What’s in a soybean? What’s in it for you?” event, I learned the first three links in the chain get paid for yield – the seed company, farmer and grain elevator. Once the soybean processor gets a hold of those soybeans, yield is a tiny concern compared to protein and oil content. The end user, most likely a poultry farm according to the…

    Continue Reading


  • Holly Spangler

    Live from the Food Dialogues: Panel 3

    My Generation

     by Holly Spangler
     on November 15, 2012

    And now, Panel 3: biotechnology and food, moderated by CNN's Ali Velshi. Panelists include: Bob Goldberg, plant molecular biologist at UCLA; Julie Howard, chief scientist, USAID; Gregory Jaffe, biotechnology director, Center for the Science in the PUblic Interest; Fred Kirschenmann, Leopold Center for Sustainable Agriculture at Iowa State; Cheryl Rogowski, New York organic farmer; Jerry Slocum, Mississippi soybean farmer. 2:20 p.m. ET Fred: "Questions have been raised for…

    Continue Reading


  • Holly Spangler

    Faces of Farming Finalists Announced

    My Generation

     by Holly Spangler
     on November 15, 2012

    US Farmers & Ranchers have conducted a contest to select a spokesperson for agriculture, and the nine finalists were announced today in New York City. Among 100 applications, these nine finalists were selected: Chris Chinn, Missouri Will Glimer, Alabame Daphne Holterman, Wisconsin Brenday Kirsch, Oregon Tim Nilsen, California Eric McClam, South Carolina Katie Pratt, Illinois Bo Stone, North Carolina Janice Wolfinger, Ohio Starting at 1:30 p.m…

    Continue Reading


  • Holly Spangler

    Live from The Food Dialogues: Panel 2

    My Generation

     by Holly Spangler
     on November 15, 2012

    We're back with Panel 2, again moderated by CNN's Ali Velshi, live from Times Center in midtown Manhattan. This topic: antibiotics and food. I expect this one to be more heated than the last. Panelists include: Keith Ayoob, pediatric nutritionist, Albert Einstein School of Medicine; Barb Determan, Iowa pork producer; Jean Halloran, Consumers Union; Christine Hoang, veterinarian and assistant director of the Division of Scientific Activities of the American Veterinary Medical…

    Continue Reading


  • Holly Spangler

    Live from The Food Dialogues: Panel 1

    My Generation

     by Holly Spangler
     on November 15, 2012

    We've made our way to New York City and have already met friendly faces and friends from Illinois. The first panel at the U.S. Farmers & Ranchers Alliance is about to begin here in the Times Center, New York, and the topic is Media, Marketing and Healthy Choices. The moderator today is Ali Velshi, CNN chief business correspondent. Panelists include Richard Ball, New York vegetable farmer; Debbi Beauvais, New York School Nutrition President and Academy of Nutrition and…

    Continue Reading


  • Holly Spangler

    30 Days on a Prairie Farm: Dialogue

    My Generation

     by Holly Spangler
     on November 15, 2012

    I shared yesterday how sometimes you just have to leave the farm. Try a new path. See something different. And maybe have a conversation. Or three. Which brings me to today: I'll be attending The Food Dialogues in New York City, organized by the U.S. Farmers & Ranchers Alliance. It's a day's worth of panel discussions designed to spark conversation between farmers and food influencers. So while you can look for stories here on the website about the panels, I'll…

    Continue Reading


  • Tim White

    The Scientific Method and Political Activism

    Buckeye Farm Beat

     by Tim White
     on November 15, 2012

      I have an MS degree or a Masters of Science in entomology. It was one of hardest things I ever had to work at to get. Science was really demanding for me. Math and chemistry and physics, toxicology and biochemistry were tough. Some of my other courses, parasitology, biology and all of the entomology classes were easier because I could see what I was studying. Does that make any sense? I also have a BA or Bachelors in Art in English. That one really was not all that tough for me…

    Continue Reading


  • Fran O

    Can Democrats And Republicans Reach A Compromise?

    Badger View

     by Fran O'Leary
     on November 14, 2012

    Do you hear that? It's the sound of silence. Voters, especially those in Wisconsin who were inundated with non-stop political ads for months and months leading up to the election, are enjoying watching TV again and not having to endure political ad after political ad and the phrases "I am Mitt Romney and I approve this message," or "I am Barack Obama and I approve this message." Democrat or Republican, I think most Wisconsin residents would agree the sound of…

    Continue Reading


  • Holly Spangler

    30 Days on a Prairie Farm: Leave the Farm

    My Generation

     by Holly Spangler
     on November 14, 2012

    My girl turns 10 tomorrow. That's double digits. That's virtually impossible, except that it's very possible and it's gonna happen. Yikes. It just so happens that I have to go to New York City this week for a meeting. And before you go thinking that I must have some glamorous fancy job here at Prairie Farmer world headquarters, let me assure you, my travels are far more likely to take me to exciting destinations like warehouses, corn fields and hog houses. NYC is…

    Continue Reading


  • Rod Swoboda

    Is Wind Industry Running Out Of Breath?

    Iowa Farm Scene

     by Rod Swoboda
     on November 13, 2012

    Uncertainty over the future of the wind energy tax credit has already cost Iowa hundreds of jobs. Supporters of the subsidy say many more jobs could be lost if Congress doesn't vote to extend the controversial measure which expires at the end of 2012. The wind industry has been promoted by states such as Iowa as a way to create jobs, reduce the nation's dependence on foreign energy and to promote investment in clean, renewable energy. Iowa Gov. Terry Branstad and Iowa U.S. Sen…

    Continue Reading


  • Curt Arens

    Agritourism Pioneer Leaves His Family with a Ranch Legacy

    Husker Home Place

     by Curt Arens
     on November 13, 2012

    Two years ago this fall, when I was visiting Kreycik Elk and Buffalo Ranch, conducting an interview for Nebraska Farmer on agritourism and how to secure insurance for such ventures, it was one of the most beautiful days I’ve seen in Nebraska. Their ranch is truly one of the great spots in the state. For those of you who have never visited Kreycik’s ranch, it is situated west and south of Niobrara, adjacent to the Niobrara River. In the mid-1980s, Kenard Kreycik and his wife…

    Continue Reading


  • Holly Spangler

    30 Days on a Prairie Farm: Show Ring

    My Generation

     by Holly Spangler
     on November 13, 2012

    When you grow up in a cattle showing family, I'm not sure that you give a lot of thought to why you do what you do. You enjoy it, your parents support it, you carry on. It's only later that you look back and realize how much you really learned back then and, you know, what the point of it all was. I'm not sure that I even fully thought through a lot of it until my own child stepped in the show ring this past summer. I think, however, the thing that has struck me as I've…

    Continue Reading


  • T.J. Burnham

    Why Sometimes This Job Gets Me Down

    Western Ag Vignettes

     by T.J. Burnham
     on November 12, 2012

    I really love my job, but there are moments a journalist wants to use bad language (to myself) and get really impatient. That's when I send important calls out to sources asking important questions, letting them know I am on a deadline, and asking them to simply return the call even if they are not interested in participating in a story. And the phone sits silent for days. Sometimes forever. And, that leaves me wondering if the message wasn't even heard, or if the source…

    Continue Reading


  • Rod Swoboda

    Get Ready To Fall Off A Cliff?

    Iowa Farm Scene

     by Rod Swoboda
     on November 12, 2012

    The election is over and it's back to work for Congress and President Barack Obama. What's going to happen? The United States is about to fall off of a fiscal cliff. Huge mandatory cuts in federal spending will automatically kick-in and tax increases will take place if Congress doesn't do something before the end of 2012. Time is running out for lawmakers to deal with these pressing issues. If they can't agree on a fix before the cuts take effect January 1, the U.S. economy…

    Continue Reading


  • Holly Spangler

    30 Days on a Prairie Farm: Technology

    My Generation

     by Holly Spangler
     on November 12, 2012

    We spent time over the weekend with some of my husband's great college friends and their families. No surprise, many of them are farmers and there was much conversation about farming, equipment, land and such. I was talking with one of the guys at the football game (hey, it was Illini football after all) and he was telling about the trouble he had getting his yield data in and out of his computer system. "Yeah, I came home from school and he had FOUR laptops sitting on the counter…

    Continue Reading


  • Lon Tonneson

    Humane Watch Says HSUS "Crushed" In Election

    Inside Dakota Ag

     by Lon Tonneson
     on November 12, 2012

    Humane Watch says the Humane Society of the United States was “crushed” in the election last week. In North Dakota, HSUS and its lobbying foundation spent more than $675,000 in support of a ballot measure to make cruelty to dogs, cats and horses a felony. The measure failed 65% to 35% In Iowa, HSUS spent $750,000 opposing Rep. Steve King, who it said supported dogfighting. King won re-election. In Arizona, HSUS spent $100,000 to defeat U.S. Senate candidate Jeff Flake…

    Continue Reading


  • Tom Bechman

    Sometimes I Wonder About New Technology

    Hoosier Perspectives

     by Tom Bechman
     on November 12, 2012

    My cell phone should be attached to my hip. If they could do that, I would probably have the surgery. I feel lost without it, but I'm bad about remembering where it is. One morning recently I had a 400 mile trip with two stops for interviews, actually taking me into Ohio briefly and back into Indiana. I got ready the night before by using Mapquest – can't live without it, right? I put in the first place I was going, then got directions from the first place to the…

    Continue Reading


  • Holly Spangler

    30 Days on a Prairie Farm: Harvest

    My Generation

     by Holly Spangler
     on November 11, 2012

    Harvest has always been my very favorite. And that's despite the fact that particular time of year has become the most busy for our young family, as we learn to juggle school functions, practices for a small town musical, the start of Awana and new-this-year: flag football. Still, despite the crazy, it's my favorite. The weather cools, and we pull out sweatshirts and coveralls. The early mornings see farmers gathering equipment at field's edge, preparing for the day…

    Continue Reading


  • Holly Spangler

    30 Days on a Prairie Farm: County Fairs

    My Generation

     by Holly Spangler
     on November 10, 2012

    When you grow up spending your summer at county fairs, there's little that warms your heart more than watching your kids enjoy their first fair. Like really. A lot. I spent my summers showing Shorthorns at one southern Illinois county fair after another. I made friends I'll have forever, and have memories ingrained that I'll never forget. (for better or worse!) I did my time in the water tank, kicked the dirt while sitting on the showbox and slept in freshly bedded stalls at…

    Continue Reading


  • Holly Spangler

    30 Days on a Prairie Farm: Milk

    My Generation

     by Holly Spangler
     on November 9, 2012

    Last fall, I stood on the Lindale Holsteins farm at Hampshire and listened as their veterinarian explained to a group of Chicago moms what's up with hormones in milk. And yes, this was the same tour where Mike Martz explained hormones in steak. It was a big and wonderfully informative day. The farm is owned by Dale and Linda Drendel, and they invited their veterinarian, Brian Gerloff, to speak with the moms about some of the more technical aspects of their business. For his part…

    Continue Reading


  • Holly Spangler

    30 Days on a Prairie Farm: Weather

    My Generation

     by Holly Spangler
     on November 8, 2012

    For the crop we grew in 2012, we spent $250,000 on fertilizer, give or take a little. We wrote checks for $150,000 for seed. We spent $50,000 to kill weeds and insects. We watch the crop grow. We pray. We can even buy insurance against weather like hail or yield in general. But in the end, we depend on the weather. And we have a lot of money sitting out in those fields. As a kid, the world stopped at 10:15 p.m. when the weather came on. Everyone was quiet so Mom and Dad could watch…

    Continue Reading


  • Holly Spangler

    30 Days on a Prairie Farm: Hormones

    My Generation

     by Holly Spangler
     on November 7, 2012

    About a year ago, I stood in the farm office at Larson Farms and listened as Mike Martz explained to a group of Chicago moms how much hormone is actually in a cut of meat. It was fascinating. Their eyes were opened when he told them, "the baked potato sitting next to your steak, which may or may not have come from a steer treated with growth hormone? It has way more hormone in it than the steak." Some background: Growth promoting hormones have been used in agriculture for more…

    Continue Reading


  • Holly Spangler

    30 Days on a Prairie Farm: Long Haul

    My Generation

     by Holly Spangler
     on November 6, 2012

    My friend, Monica Stevens, shared a most awesome photo with me the other day. She'd been going through her grandparents' old farm magazines and photos, and she came across a page of ads in the 1973 Shorthorn World. And on that page, she found ads placed by her family and mine, right next to each other, nearly 40 years ago. So very cool! In part, because I love history and I love old cattle photos and old livestock publications. They represent years of breeding, refining, planning…

    Continue Reading


  • Curt Arens

    Election Day: Remembering Nebraska's Native Born President

    Husker Home Place

     by Curt Arens
     on November 6, 2012

      On Election Day, I wanted to share the time I was honored to visit with Nebraska’s native born President. Over a decade ago, when I was farming full-time and freelance writing for several regional magazines, I had the unique opportunity to interview Gerald Ford. Gerald Ford was born Leslie Lynch King, Jr. in a home along Woolworth Avenue in Omaha on a hot July day in 1913. His spoiled and violent father, Leslie King, Sr., married his mother, Dorothy, in 1912. After their…

    Continue Reading


  • T.J. Burnham

    $1.5 Million Grant Project Looks At Columbia Basin Water Modeling

    Western Ag Vignettes

     by T.J. Burnham
     on November 5, 2012

    With $1.5 million to find ways to involve primary water users in the research process to develop scientifically sound and economically feasible public water use in the Columbia Basin, let's hope the dollars produce helpful new directions. The Washington State University USDA grant will build what researchers call collaborative water modeling project for the Basin. I think that means better management. The project is what WSU School of the Environment Director Stephen Bollens…

    Continue Reading


  • P.J. Griekspoor

    Drought Persists As Calendar Says Nov.; But It's 86 Degrees

    Kansas Viewpoint

     by P.J. Griekspoor
     on November 5, 2012

    The calendar says it is Nov. 2 but you sure couldn’t prove it by the weather. Wichita  set a record highof 86 today before another cold front is set to move through tonight and drops us back to the 60s for weekend highs. Not that the 60s seem particularly November-ish either. What’s troubling, however; is that like the previous cold front that dropped temperatures here 50 degrees overnight – and eventually turned the torrential rains of Hurricane Sandy to a…

    Continue Reading


  • Holly Spangler

    30 Days on a Prairie Farm: Biotechnology, Again

    My Generation

     by Holly Spangler
     on November 5, 2012

    So, California votes on Proposition 37 tomorrow. And while we talked about biotechnology and genetically-modified seeds last week, it appears there's still more ground to cover. Because as discussions regarding GM seed and labeling of GM products continue to develop, a common thread regarding research continues to emerge. Specifically, I see these four areas come up when consumers are concerned about their GM crops: Farmer Suicides in India Rats in France Monsanto is…

    Continue Reading


  • Fran O

    In A Drought Year, There Are Reasons To Be Thankful

    Badger View

     by Fran O'Leary
     on November 5, 2012

    As the harvest winds down, it's a good time to look back and reflect on the year and count our blessings. That may seem odd in a year plagued by drought but there are still plenty of reasons Wisconsin farmers can be grateful in 2012. Prayers for rain in the southern half of the state went unanswered from the end of May until mid- to late-July when rain finally did arrive. While rain came in time to save most corn and soybean crops, yields were diminished. And dry weather returned…

    Continue Reading


  • Lon Tonneson

    Favorite Farming Videos

    Inside Dakota Ag

     by Lon Tonneson
     on November 5, 2012

    Check out the video, “We Built This Country On Family Farms,” by Rachel Schartz and Liz Renner, of the West Central FFA. It’s my favorite video in South Dakota Soybean’s 2012 FFA Video Contest. South Dakota Soybean created the contest to involve youth in the advocacy of today’s modern agriculture and the soybean industry. The contest was open to all high school FFA students in South Dakota. South Dakota Soybean recently posted the top 10 submissions…

    Continue Reading


  • Tom Bechman

    The Sun Will Come Up Wednesday Morning

    Hoosier Perspectives

     by Tom Bechman
     on November 5, 2012

    Some will be happy this week on Wednesday morning, others will be disappointed. Some may think the world is coming to an end. It's possible I might be one of them, except I've been down this road before. Things don't always go as I want either, but one thing has never disappointed me. No matter what happened I didn't like, or how embarrassing something was, the sun still came up the next morning. You may not be able to see it, if it proves to be cloudy, but somewhere &ndash…

    Continue Reading


  • Holly Spangler

    30 Days on a Prairie Farm: Church

    My Generation

     by Holly Spangler
     on November 4, 2012

    Some farmers work seven days a week. Some only work Sundays during planting and harvest. Some always take Sunday off. I've lived it both ways. I remember endless weeks as a kid, baling hay and then straw and then hay again, day after day in the hot southern Illinois sun. The days ran together, and so did the weeks. My husband's family takes Sunday off. Religiously. I can recall few times in our married life when John ran a tractor on a Sunday. (Outside of chores that simply…

    Continue Reading


  • Holly Spangler

    30 Days on a Prairie Farm: Harvest Eats

    My Generation

     by Holly Spangler
     on November 3, 2012

    Bar none, one of my favorite things about harvest is eating together in the field. My mother-in-law, Sharon, will smack me upside the head when she reads this because, my word, the work. (That's right, it ain't easy making a nice meal, packing it up, hauling kids, plates, cups, coolers, crockpots and more to a dusty field location. And then someone asks for the salt and 'doh! The one thing I forgot…) But this is the time in the day when my kids finally see their…

    Continue Reading


  • Willie Vogt

    Are Farmers Looking for Post-Drought Revenge?

    Farmer Iron

     by Willie Vogt
     on November 2, 2012

    Purdue's Tony Vyn, an Extension Agronomist, coined an interesting term earlier this month - "revenge tillage" - and he's concerned farmers will want to just hit the field in disappointment over yields and other factors. His caution: "I don't want farmers to overestimate the need for fall tillage just because of the 2012 drought and poor crops. It's important to adopt a tillage system that leaves topsoil uniformly in place to build up a whole field's…

    Continue Reading


  • Holly Spangler

    30 Days on a Prairie Farm: Biotechnology

    My Generation

     by Holly Spangler
     on November 2, 2012

    Fear. Misinformation. Marketing. Fear. Health. Children. Fear. Fear. All this and more is playing into the discussion involving GMOs these days. And here on the farm, it feels like old news. Fifteen-plus years ago, we evaluated the technology, learned we could plant it and use fewer and less-potent pesticides, have fewer weeds and less required labor. It was a business decision. We got on board. We've gone on to plant Bt corn (using products from DuPont, Syngenta and Monsanto…

    Continue Reading


  • John Vogel

    Phew, The National Election Is Almost Over! Then What?

    Nor' east Thinkin'

     by John Vogel
     on November 2, 2012

    I haven’t talked with a single soul who won’t be more than glad when this presidential election is over – no matter who wins or loses. Those running the campaigns have taken political integrity to a new low. And in some cases, the words "politics" and "integrity" shouldn’t be used in the same sentence. I’ve heard from many of you about the November magazine’s editorial, “Why the president must go.” It was a slightly…

    Continue Reading


  • Josh Flint

    Let's Quit This Food Snobbery Game

    Prairie Gleanings

     by Josh Flint
     on November 2, 2012

    Next week, California will vote on Proposition 37. This would force food manufacturers to label foods according to whether or not they contain GMO products. At the same time, I’m working on a series of articles that looks at organic agriculture in Illinois. Last week, Target announced it will now accept only crate-free pork. At every turn, consumers are becoming more concerned with their diet. Yet, I contend we’re still missing the forest for the trees. We’re…

    Continue Reading


  • Holly Spangler

    30 Days on a Prairie Farm: Working Kids

    My Generation

     by Holly Spangler
     on November 1, 2012

    About this time last year, the farm community learned of the Labor Department's intention to regulate child labor on the farm. In response, we figuratively smacked ourselves on the forehead and said a cumulative, "What are they thinking?" And then we set about commenting formally and grousing informally. By spring, the effort received so much backlash that the Department backed down, vowing to go back to the drawing board. Certainly, the regulations had, at one point in…

    Continue Reading