• John Vogel

    Your New Year Will Be Happier

    Nor' east Thinkin'

     by John Vogel
     on December 31, 2009

    2010 will be a much better year for agriculture. Mark my words. You have many good reasons for letting your optimism grow -- along with your strategic thinking.    This week, I finished preparations for February’s installment of the 2010 Northeast Ag Outlook written by intuitive ag economists at Cornell and Penn State. And hopefully, you’ve already read the fairly positive first installment in January’s American Agriculturist.   We have many reasons for a more positive agricultural…

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  • Lon Tonneson

    Secret of Love

    Inside Dakota Ag

     by Lon Tonneson
     on December 31, 2009

    According to a book sent to me a friend in the ag business, the secret of love is knowing whether the person you love is a puppy, cat, goldfish or canary and whether you can speak their “dialect” of love.   Puppies feel love by spoken words of approval. Tell a puppy how wonderful he is and his whole body wags. And how do you teach a puppy most effectively? With praise. “Good boy! There’s a good doggy!” But here’s a word of caution to those who love a puppy, or a person who speaks the dialect…

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  • Holly Spangler

    Over the River and Through the Woods

    My Generation

     by Holly Spangler
     on December 30, 2009

    We returned home last night from our Southern Illinois Christmas, the last leg of our Christmas celebrations. We’d gone down to Albion right after Christmas to spend a few days with my parents and family. Folks often ask us how long it takes to make the drive; technically, it’s 240 miles and BK (before kids) we could make the drive in five hours, with one stop. Now, it’s more like seven or eight hours with something north of three stops. However, the stops aren’t always for the kids; the trip…

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  • Tim White

    Ohio Farm Leaders Step Up in 2009

    Buckeye Farm Beat

     by Tim White
     on December 30, 2009

    I wrote in the December issue of Ohio Farmer that Jack Fisher was the Ag Man of the Year. And I will stand by my choice for all the reasons I mentioned, but I have to admit to you, it was NOT made after a long process that looked at all the contenders and mailed ballots out to informed farmers and agribusiness veterans. If I had done so, I might have been a little taken a back by all the contenders for the award.   There were lots of leaders in the Issue 2 battle, including farmers like Jeff…

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  • Willie Vogt

    Perspective and Change

    Farmer Iron

     by Willie Vogt
     on December 30, 2009

    When you write about a technology enough you sometimes forget what people who casually follow the science know and don't know. Recently, while getting some dental work done (at my age you can always find something that need work) I got into a short conversation with the dentist. We were joking that the nitrous oxide he uses is the same gas we're trying to get rid of from diesel emissions. Of course the chemical composition may be a little different, but the name's the same. That's when the…

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  • P.J. Griekspoor

    It Looks Like Harvest Is Finally Done

    Kansas Viewpoint

     by P.J. Griekspoor
     on December 29, 2009

    Well, the good news is the ground finally froze. I saw combines in the field the day before Christmas Eve, getting the corn and milo out of fields that had been too wet to harvest until cold weather finally hit and froze the ground deep enough to get equipment into the field. I was out checking some of the area today and noted that it appears everybody finally got the last of the crops in the bin. What a harvest…

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  • Willie Vogt

    A Wish List?

    Farmer Iron

     by Willie Vogt
     on December 24, 2009

    I've just come in from shoveling the first 7 inches of what promises to be three waves and 18 inches for Christmas. I may never sing that song again, but a little hard work shoveling (no snow blower here - suburban driveway is too short so no need) is good for the soul. This time of year, near the end, is often a time of reflection. We've had a good hear at Farm Progress. Our shows saw tremendous crowds because you folks like to see new stuff; touch it; talk to the suppliers. And we do all we…

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  • Tom Bechman

    Two Places in Indiana I Had Never Been Before

    Hoosier Perspectives

     by Tom Bechman
     on December 21, 2009

    Sometimes the neatest discoveries are just outside your back door. After living in this state for some 56 years now, and having beat the roads for more than 28 years finding stories for you to read, I thought there wasn't many places left I hadn't been. Earlier this week I discovered there were at least two - the tiny hamlet of Leiter's Ford, and the Indiana Dunes. I actually visited both in the same day.   Yes, both aren't exactly close to Franklin, Ind., where I live. It was a trip of some…

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  • Josh Flint

    Ben Bernanke is Time's Person of the Year, Seriously?

    Prairie Gleanings

     by Josh Flint
     on December 21, 2009

    During the University of Illinois' Farm Economics Summit, economist Paul Ellinger didn't exactly spread holiday cheer.   Ellinger was the last speaker during the sessions, which were held in various Illinois locations last week. Ellinger spoke about the recession, essentially saying that hey, we're still in trouble here.   He started by pointing out the unemployment rate, which fell to 10% in November. However, it's still at 10%! In November 2007, it was 5.3%. Ellinger also pointed out that…

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  • Lon Tonneson

    Farmers as wordsmiths and environmentalists

    Inside Dakota Ag

     by Lon Tonneson
     on December 21, 2009

    I’m jealous of some farmers. They are not good crop and livestock producers, but they also have a way with words.   Paul Anderson, Harvey, N.D., says he’s practicing SOS corn storage this year – storing on the stalk.   He has about 300 of his 400 acres of corn in the field and isn’t in any hurry to get it out. The corn is drying fine – down to about 18% moisture. Last year, SOS storage worked out well and he’s hoping it will do the same this winter. So far so good.   Though he’s had…

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  • P.J. Griekspoor

    Problem Solving Might Be Best Way to Avoid Government Regulation

    Kansas Viewpoint

     by P.J. Griekspoor
     on December 19, 2009

    It seems to me that one of the things we have lost in recent years has been the ability to recognize and acknowledge problems and look for ways to solve them without third-party intervention. The current situation with the future of an adequate supply of water for Kansas is a great example. For 30 years, we have been aware that what we are doing now is not sustainable in the western half of the state. More recently, we've seen a huge problem of sedimentation in the federal reservoirs of…

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  • John Vogel

    Time To Change Where You're Driving?

    Nor' east Thinkin'

     by John Vogel
     on December 18, 2009

    That pretty much sums up what most of us think as we race toward the Christmas holidays. It’s easy to see why the “Bah Humbug!” attitude was hooked to Christmas.   So many of us try to do so much – gift shopping, food fixing, card sending, . . . – besides working full time or two part time jobs. This is supposed to be a refreshing break before the farm shows and winter meetings crank up. But between the “Honey-dos”, “Daddy-dos”, “need-to-dos” and “should dos”, who’s got time to replenish the…

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  • Willie Vogt

    Towers, Towers Everywhere

    Farmer Iron

     by Willie Vogt
     on December 18, 2009

    As automatic guidance systems gain in popularity, a lot of readers may find they want more precision and repeatability. In that case, most will tell you that RTK - for real-time kinematic - is the way to go, and the price is falling. Many of you have probably heard of the RTK tower networks that have been popping up? Set on the highest spot in an area, these network towers usually have a 12-mile radius range and provide the differential signal so that you can be very precise running…

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  • Holly Spangler

    What Joel Osteen Needs to Learn About Scripture and Pork

    My Generation

     by Holly Spangler
     on December 16, 2009

    It incensed me when a first saw it, and reviewing it again after a month’s time didn’t do it any favors. During a session at last month’s Commodity conference, Wes Jamison, a Palm Beach Atlantic University professor, presented his research and findings on the Humane Society of the United States. He’s spent a career studying the animal rights movement, and specifically the communication behind it. He revealed that HSUS in 2002 decided that they needed a moral component…

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  • Tim White

    Living History at Malabar Farm

    Buckeye Farm Beat

     by Tim White
     on December 15, 2009

    The annual Christmas Open House was held at Malabar Farm in Richland County last week. As a new board member of the Malabar Farm Foundation, I was invited to share the holiday cheer and encourage the faithful to support the farm and its work.   Malabar is the 1950s home of novelist and conservation writer Louis Bromfield. It has been a state park since 1976. After years of insolvency, it was deeded to the state of Ohio in 1972 and operated jointly by the Ohio Department of Agriculture and the…

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  • Josh Flint

    Sage Nutrition Advice From Dr. Oz

    Prairie Gleanings

     by Josh Flint
     on December 14, 2009

    I think I've mentioned before that my wife is going back to school to obtain her masters in teaching. She starts classes in January, but has taken most of December to prep for a couple entrance exams. This means she's home during the day.   Last week I left my basement office to venture upstairs for a glass of water. Along the way, I noticed she was watching Dr. Oz. He was discussing a healthy, wholesome diet. Looking for a reason to get angry, I decided to watch as he dispensed his sage…

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  • Tom Bechman

    Birdseye View of a Land Auction

    Hoosier Perspectives

     by Tom Bechman
     on December 14, 2009

    I've covered a handful of land auctions over my career to get a feel for what land prices were doing or a sense of what people looked for when buying land. Sometimes I went because the auction company was using what was once a new-fangled method- offering different tracts and letting potential buyers combine them as they wished until the highest possible sales price for the seller was reached. That's become the norm rather than a novelty, mainly because it's based upon one principle- good…

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  • P.J. Griekspoor

    Selecting the 'Right' Tree a Process

    Kansas Viewpoint

     by P.J. Griekspoor
     on December 13, 2009

    I entered Christmas season 2009 with a firm resolve that this is the year I would take as many of the grandkids as could appreciate the experience to the tree farm to pick Grandma's tree. So off we went. Me, a son-in-law for help, and five grandkids ages 8 to 2. We bundled up. We walked and walked and walked and walked and looked and looked and looked. We argued over the best qualities of dozens of trees. And finally, we found one that we all agreed on. Or maybe we just grew too tired and…

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  • P.J. Griekspoor

    Winter Blast Appears to be Almost Over

    Kansas Viewpoint

     by P.J. Griekspoor
     on December 13, 2009

    Well, if the wheat isn't in the ground, it is now officially too late. Even though the date for full crop insurance came and went in mid-November, there were some folks with milo still in the field who were seriously contemplating late (make that VERY late) planted wheat. Not any more. Winter hit like a hammer with howling winds, a foot of snow and sub-zero temperatures last week. That put an end to talk that maybe we really could still plant winter wheat. It also pretty much meant…

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  • Willie Vogt

    Slipping into Year End

    Farmer Iron

     by Willie Vogt
     on December 10, 2009

    The soft economy, that missed ag last year, is taking its toll this year. Farm equipment sales for all classes measured, from compact tractors to combines, fell in November. Row crop tractor sales fell 6.3% in a year-over-year comparison while combine sales dropped 5.9%. The slip in row crop tractors as well as declining sales in large four-wheel drive tractors for the month (down 3%) is a continuing sign that you're all taking a breather from capital investment. December, however, is often a…

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  • Lon Tonneson

    Specialization or diversification

    Inside Dakota Ag

     by Lon Tonneson
     on December 8, 2009

    “Maybe farmers and ranchers don’t need to specialize to succeed anymore,” said Cal Thorson, communications director for the Northern Great Plains Research Laboratory, Mandan, N.D., during a break at the recent North Dakota Ag Association show in the Fargodome.   For the past 30-40 years, specialization was the way to succeed in agriculture. You focused your brainpower and capital on just one enterprise – crops, or cattle, for example. Or even potatoes or sugarbeets to the exclusion of…

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  • John Vogel

    Police Your Own

    Nor' east Thinkin'

     by John Vogel
     on December 7, 2009

    If you’ve seen the latest dairy video expose by the People for Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA, for short), you were probably sickened. The clips showed wet manure-covered dairy cattle filmed on a Pennsylvania farm.   Of course, PETA maxed out the publicity value by broadcasting it, trumpeting animal abuse as justification for consumers to go vegan – no meat or dairy products.   It didn’t matter whether the animals were subjected to inadvertent abuse or intentional meanness. As always…

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  • Willie Vogt

    Looking Ahead to 2010

    Farmer Iron

     by Willie Vogt
     on December 7, 2009

    The stats show that more farmers are wrapping up what at one time appeared to be a never-ending harvest. There will be plenty of stories out of this year as the dust (or mud) settles back down. And as you clean up the combine and get it ready to be parked - and I know many who read this will say (not for a few more weeks) - it's time to start thinking about 2010. You've probably already booked seed, you're looking at pricing other inputs, and what about equipment? You're memory of this…

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  • Lon Tonneson

    Harvest condtions

    Inside Dakota Ag

     by Lon Tonneson
     on December 7, 2009

    Ron Volk – who farms in north central North Dakota near Sherwood – says he’d like to complain about the 2009 harvest, but just can’t.   “It was our best worst harvest ever,” he says.   It took a long time for his wheat and oilseed crops to mature, and longer to combine them, but yields were excellent – 50 bushel canola, 70-80 bushel wheat, he says.   Brian and Sara O’Toole, Crystal, N.D., have a similar attitude. Yields were excellent. Wheat topped 100 bushels per acre in test plots on…

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  • Holly Spangler

    A Farm Boy’s Education

    My Generation

     by Holly Spangler
     on December 4, 2009

    Nathan was riding with our farm employee, “Mr. Jerry,” today in the tractor and auger wagon. I pulled up with the semi this afternoon, having relieved my mother-in-law for awhile, and my father-in-law called me over the FM to tell me that Nathan’s “had quite the education today.”   Nathan came in next on the FM, piping in with all the details: “Yeah, Mom! We saw a coyote, two wabbits, and a hawk! Oh yeah, and two deers! And the hawk came down and just gwabbed that wabbit and ate him up…

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  • Tim White

    Why We Need Mary Fleming

    Buckeye Farm Beat

     by Tim White
     on December 4, 2009

    Mary Fleming says swine and poultry producers should be among those near the top of the priority list for H1N1 inoculations as well as shots for seasonal flu. Transmission of the disease from humans to pigs or poultry could be devastating to the nation’s food supply, she points out.  Furthermore the presence of both flu organisms in a host is what leads to the possible mutation of the disease to something more potent and dangerous, she says.   “There is a huge connection between health care…

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  • Tom Bechman

    Everyone Needs A Reality Check Now and Then

    Hoosier Perspectives

     by Tom Bechman
     on December 4, 2009

    No doubt you love what you do. Nearly every farmer and farm family member does. Why else would they do it? In most cases, it's not for the big bucks, and even today, it's not for the 9 to 5 banker's hours or excellent working conditions.   Still, if you're normal and honest with yourself, there may have been a day way back when that caused you to wonder what it would be like to do something else. Maybe a day like I had today - I dumped water out of troughs in the dark to dump in sheep feed…

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  • Josh Flint

    Even Animal Activists Should Be Thanking Farmers

    Prairie Gleanings

     by Josh Flint
     on December 2, 2009

    With Thanksgiving fresh in our memories and the Christmas season upon us, I'd like to say thank you to the farmer.   I would like to say thank you for my free time and the ability to explore a career in journalism. Too often folks get hung up on the hum ho "thank you for my food" message without realizing what that means.   In Noel Kingsbury's new book Hybrid: The History of Science and Plant Breeding, the farmer's contribution is spelled out in a concise manner. According to the book, it…

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  • Lon Tonneson

    Late harvest

    Inside Dakota Ag

     by Lon Tonneson
     on December 1, 2009

    I helped move my youngest son to Phoenix, AZ, over Thanksgiving weekend. We drove the southern route through the Great Plains and saw combines in the field all the way to west Texas.   But I doubt if a late harvest carries the same urgency in the southern plains as it does in North Dakota and South Dakota. Here, we are all watching for the big blizzard that will chase the combines out of the fields till spring.   I met Jim Albrecht, Wimbeldon, N.D., in the Phoenix-Mesa airport on the way…

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