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Community Relations
Weather impacts electric fence

For many graziers using rotational grazing, the electric fence is a critical component of the total system. I know of examples where just one or two strands of electrified high-tensile wire serve as a perimeter fence along a road. The grazier is trusting in the electrical system and the prior experience and training the livestock have received to ensure the fence is not crossed.

Grape trends

The 2009 grape crop was much larger than 2008, increasing by 23%, or nearly 700,000 tons. The increase in the Northern Interior was especially pronounced. The crop on the coast was mixed. Despite current economic conditions, wine sales continue to grow, especially at price points below $10 per bottle, which are sourced primarily from the areas of the Interior that had a large crop, points out Bill Turrentine, president, Turrentine Brokerage, Novato.

Wetland miracle unfolds in Greene County

The battle between nature and man went on for more than a century on some 8,000 acres of mostly flat, wet land in Greene County. Even if you’ve never been there, odds are you’ve heard stories about Goose Pond. It was a favorite stopover for geese before farmers tried to drain it.

Keeping lid on farm, livestock odors

Farm goals should include economic viability, environmental soundness and social responsibility. These three factors impact the future of an individual farm, and in general, farming in a community. Acknowledging these three goals helps a farm succeed and have a positive impact within its community.

Chat for a cause

Eighty-seven percent of online community members participate in causes that are new to them.

Virtual school offers extra opportunities

On any given day, students at Elmwood High School are studying subjects such as German, oceanography and psychology. Impressive, considering the high school has only 213 students.

Trained for leading

When Martin “Marty” Umbarger graduated from the University of Evansville in 1969, the last place he thought he would wind up was in the adjutant general’s chair at Stout Field in Indianapolis. He provides leadership that makes the Indiana National Guard one of the country’s premier guard units.

Guard teaches ag overseas

Teach farmers how to do a simple germination test so they know whether their seed will come up. Then teach them how to pull soil samples. That will give them the results they need to know how to fertilize their fields. And while that’s going on, give them a few pointers on how to raise goats more productively.

4-H’er leaves legacy by showing livestock

It’s not very often the Indiana Children’s Wish Foundation grants a wish for a cow. Christopher Cummings, Union Mills, received a Hereford heifer, and his young life’s passion was born. Chris’ wish helped carry him through four and a half years of cancer. Now it helps his family carry on. He died June 29.

Local food leads to job creation

One of television’s most popular shows today is NBC’s “The Biggest Loser,” where contestants work with personal trainers to establish exercise programs and healthy eating habits, including the importance of consuming fresh fruits and vegetables.

Remember the river!

The Ohio River is part of life for Terry Vising. Farming near Marysville, he’s never far from the shadow of the Ohio. But recently he and a couple of hundred other farmers got an inside view few people ever see.

Meet a master motivator

Every week day some 200 unsung heroes across Indiana spend their days teaching, and a large number of their after-school hours working with, FFA members who want to learn and excel. They are the agriculture teachers who work with Indiana’s FFA members, now totaling more than 9,000.

Raising the green flag

Bart Schott, Kulm, N.D., and Darren Ihnen, Hurley, S.D., helped raise the green flag for ethanol at a recent NASCAR race at the Kansas Speedway in Kansas City, Kan. Schott and Ihnen — long active in the North Dakota and South Dakota corn grower associations — are the current president and chairman, respectively, of the National Corn Growers Association.

Spreading conservation

Iowa Learning Farms is helping Jim and Jody Kerns of Edgewood in northeast Iowa educate youth about conservation of natural resources. To make the greatest impact, future generations need to be reached, a view shared by Iowa Learning Farms and the Kerns.

Cotton counts

A group doesn’t have to be a huge organization to have clout; it just needs to be energized and active.

Group sets priorities for cotton industry

After the success of the Boll Weevil Eradication Program in its zone, the Southern Rolling Plains Cotton Growers Association had more time and muscle to devote to other cotton goals.

Residents invest in town’s future

Every community has its own story, something that gives it and its residents a common identity. When people, Iowans at least, think of West Bend, a town of 785 residents that sits in both Palo Alto and Kossuth counties in north-central Iowa, they usually picture the Grotto of Redemption, frequently called the “Eighth Wonder of the World.”

Agricultural advocates take action

Words sometimes aren’t enough to do farming and ranching justice. Sometimes you just have to show people. That’s what several individuals and groups in North Dakota and South Dakota did recently to promote agriculture.

SD rancher provides voice for ag in children’s book

Promoting the beef industry was the furthest thing from Amanda Radke’s mind when she graduated from high school in 2006. Her plan was to get as far away as possible from agriculture. She did so by pursuing internships and studying in places such as Washington, D.C., and Buenos Aires, Argentina.

Wanted: a few good men, women

This month we’ll take a break from my usual agronomy talk, but we are still in the realm of serving agriculture and our rural communities.

Student program helps businesses

Students get a quality education and then leave their rural community in search of a job. Businesses in rural America face increasing pressures to remain viable and competitive in today’s global environment, while dealing with continually rising energy costs. These well-documented scenarios come up in nearly every discussion about the challenges facing rural America.

Take a photo tour of state’s river system

Climb aboard! Or at least imagine you’re walking the ramp to a touring boat that will take the same path your grain takes when it heads for export overseas. If it’s grown in Indiana and exported, it likely travels down the Ohio River to the Mississippi River, either from the Port of Indiana near Jeffersonville or from the port near Mount Vernon.

Community support rebuilds a barn

The brave men and women who serve on the Indiana National Guard’s ag training team in Afghanistan do community service work in a land where not everyone wants the community rebuilt. Perhaps once upon a time, a few of them were FFA members.

Hope grows in Haiti step at a time

Earlier this spring I joined a team of 14 central Iowans from Ankeny Christian Church, First Christian Church of Des Moines and First Christian Church of Newton on a seven-day mission trip to Haiti. Our primary tasks were to assist a church in the Fontamara neighborhood of Port-au-Prince (Haiti’s capital city) with post-earthquake rebuilding efforts and to bring clothing and school supplies to children.

Mentoring new farmers

The hurdles beginning farmers face are many, from prohibitive land prices to hefty startup costs and the inevitable learning curve. For one group of beginning farmers, that curve will be less steep, thanks to help from Practical Farmers of Iowa and 31 seasoned farmers from across Iowa and surrounding states.

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How social is your media?

Social media is the way to tell a tale, or “show a tail,” if not careful. And more and more, it’s a tool farmers can use to inform consumers on what it takes to make food, to squash rumors and to have their say, all without leaving the farm. But even more important, social media is a way farmers can hear back from consumers.

Biotech foes face off in Calif.

Call it the “gene war.” The battle over use of genetic engineering technologies to create plants with new traits, higher productivity and extended geographical range is intensifying. Formidable Goliaths are pitted against each other from coast to coast.

The public’s view of animal biotech

Animal biotechnology has expanded in the last three decades. Public perceptions will continue to play, a significant role in the development and commercialization of its applications, says a report from the Council for Agricultural Science and Technology, or CAST.

CSI: Crop Science Investigation

Those TV “detectives” in Miami, New York and Las Vegas solve their murder cases in under an hour’s time with technology that often doesn’t exist, but they couldn’t keep pace with 4-Hers in Clay and Fillmore counties. After all, the crime scene investigators on the CSI shows are actors, while the youth in these two counties are identifying real crop problems and offering some real solutions as part of a special project involving 4-H’ers and FFA’ers.

2010 law: How to handle fencing disputes

Ideally, neighbors can agree between themselves on most fencing issues. If they don’t, Nebraska division fence laws provide a legal process for resolving fence disputes.

Good fences really do make good neighbors

On Feb. 1, bill SF 2102 was introduced in the Iowa Senate in an attempt to amend Iowa’s long-established fence laws found in Iowa Code Ch. 359A. The bill provided that if only one landowner keeps livestock on an adjoining tract of land, that landowner would bear sole responsibility for the construction or maintenance of a partition fence upon written demand of the adjacent landowner.

Chat across the fence, tech-style

In this age of technology, it sometimes seems there is little room left to focus on what made this country, and what still feeds America today: agriculture.

River + steward = bountiful farm

When most people hear the name “Cold Mountain,” their minds turn to images of the award-winning Civil War drama. They might want to consider Haywood County, too, and some of the best farmland in the western part of North Carolina. The pristine Pigeon River makes this region ideal for dedicated small farmers.

Valentine Livestock Auction celebrates reaching milestone

Ranchers and investors around Valentine reached a milestone recently. A group of stockholders who resurrected Valentine Livestock Auction in 1992 were able to burn the mortgage on their new sale barn facility opened in 2003.

Fall maze helps pay for Corunna farm

As the sun settles below the horizon, a steady stream of headlights emerge in a line and then one by one pull into the driveway of the Country Corn Maze. “That’s what we like to see,” says Brian Martindale, who owns the farm with his wife, Jami.

Dream come true

Capturing the saga of Greene County’s Goose Pond would require a huge book. It’s a story of tremendous potential, bitter disappointment, drama, intrigue, politics and destiny. At least now the conclusion of this story is clear. Restoration of more than 7,000 acres of constructed wetlands is finally complete.

Sandhill cranes have a new home

Indiana has 1% more net wetlands than it did before Goose Pond and Beehunter Marsh were restored. That makes Jane Hardisty smile. She’s the state conservationist for the Natural Resources Conservation Service.

Farm history in the making

Terry and Mary Jean Zavadil are living out a family legacy. The Zavadils and their children are the sixth and seventh generations of the family to be living on the same farm that Terry’s great-great-grandfather, Franz Zavadil, homesteaded in northern Cedar County and built up in the late 1800s after emigrating to the U.S. from Bohemia.

Hunting enterprise supplements ranching

Rancher Dave Hamilton and his father, Reed, enjoy hunting deer, and they possess the deer population on their Sandhills ranch north of Thedford to accommodate that recreational pursuit.

Livestock Friendly program advancing

Nebraska’s Livestock Friendly County program is in its eighth year of operation, but so far just 14 of 93 counties have received the designation. While that figures out to be just 15% of Nebraska counties, Steve Martin, Nebraska Department of Agriculture ag promotion coordinator, says the program is “alive and kicking.”

R.C. Hunt new head of National Pork Producers Council

Maybe Wilson, N.C., farm entrepreneur R.C. Hunt hasn’t done it all, but he’s got a pretty good start.