• John Vogel

    Ag Is On State Chopping Blocks

    Nor' east Thinkin'

     by John Vogel
     on February 28, 2011

      On television news, you're still seeing the seething anger and indignation of Mid West teachers about losing some of their union's bargaining tools. Yet, ag research, development and educational programs in many states are being gutted with little public outcry. Many states are being forced to cut programs and services, in part, because federal programs are become the state's "step child" to administer and take care of. This is how Uncle Sam handles many federally-unfunded…

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  • Tom Bechman

    Best Advice: Keep Your Head Up and Keep Going

    Hoosier Perspectives

     by Tom Bechman
     on February 28, 2011

    To see protestors storming the capitol in a far off, openly liberal place like Madison, Wisconsin is one thing. To see it happening in your own backyard here in what's always been conservative Indiana is another. It's hard to think the sky isn't falling when nearly half the legislature heads off for Illinois. No offense, Illini readers, but who would want to hole up in a hotel in Illinois anyway? Dire news and predictions dominate national stories. First Egypt erupts in riots. Then Libya is up…

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  • Curt Arens

    Seeing My Father In Me

    Husker Home Place

     by Curt Arens
     on February 27, 2011

    The day my Dad died was the loneliest day of my life.   I farmed with my father, Harold, for most of my adult life. Even when I was off at college in Lincoln, I still returned home during every school holiday and every summer to farm the fields and tend the livestock on our place. I was allowed the opportunity to farm beside my Dad during my formative years, and then for 25 more years after college, as his health declined. Dad was diagnosed with severe bronchial asthma in 1988, just a…

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  • Curt Arens

    Wearing Many Hats - Part 2

    Husker Home Place

     by Curt Arens
     on February 24, 2011

    When you wear many hats, you have to remember which hat you’re wearing and when.   Last time, I discussed how service-minded farm families really kick in when it comes to community service and helping out their neighbors. It is a splendid rural tradition to help folks who need it. But there are pitfalls and challenges involved when you wear so many hats, all at the same time. 1)       Burnout. Farmers are as tough as they come, and usually their…

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  • Willie Vogt

    Retooling a Company...Continued

    Farmer Iron

     by Willie Vogt
     on February 24, 2011

    It's not everyday that you get to start on the ground floor with the head of a company and touch base from time to time to see how he's doing; and how his plans are unfolding. We started our conversation with Doug Rehor, the new head of McCormick USA, during the Farm Progress Show last year and last week he wanted to sit down to talk again at the National Farm Machinery Show. In our first conversation, Doug talked about how he was going to take some off-the-shelf sales management software and…

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  • P.J. Griekspoor

    The Question Was Not About Border Security

    Kansas Viewpoint

     by P.J. Griekspoor
     on February 23, 2011

    A farmer from southwest Kansas stood up and asked a very brave question during the business session of the Kansas Commodity Classic on Tuesday. "I hear all this talk about how we have to stop immigrants," he said. "Yet Mennonite immigrants built this state. And the immigrants of recent years have not come to our part of the world to destroy anything. By contrast they are building homes and churches and businesses on Main Street and sending their children to school. But more and more, we…

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  • Holly Spangler

    Well, We've Never Seen that Before

    My Generation

     by Holly Spangler
     on February 23, 2011

    Note: this blog includes photos that may be graphic in nature. I mentioned earlier this week that we had a deformed calf born on our farm over the weekend. The first word came as the kids, our babysitter niece and I were waiting to hear what was up with the calving situation. I called my mother-in-law, who reported that my father-in-law said they were doing a C-section because the calf was “inside out.” That really didn’t make any sense to me, at least until I saw…

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  • Tim White

    Excuse me the Phone is Ringing

    Buckeye Farm Beat

     by Tim White
     on February 22, 2011

    I get all kinds of phone calls during the course of a day. Sometimes it’s the granddaughter of a reader who recalls seeing her grandpa on the cover of the Ohio Farmer in 1957, might have been March or April, but it could have been '58 or '59, and it might have been Farm Journal, but do I happen to have an extra copy of the 1957 March issue and April too? Sometimes it’s a P.R. person pushing a story idea. “Would you like to talk with Ron Weedster in person? I think you will…

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  • Josh Flint

    Understanding Auto Manufacturers' Concerns with E15

    Prairie Gleanings

     by Josh Flint
     on February 21, 2011

    There’s been a lot of talk about the EPA’s recent E15 waiver at the 2011 National Ethanol Conference in Phoenix, Ariz. When the waiver notice came out, I knew right away it wasn’t likely to fully satisfy ethanol proponents. Expanding the waiver to include vehicle model years 2001 and newer was commendable, but as Renewable Fuels Association’s Bob Dinneen points out, that’s only about 61% of the U.S. auto fleet. One thing I didn’t give a lot of thought…

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  • P.J. Griekspoor

    It's Always Fun to Meet People Who Know How It Is

    Kansas Viewpoint

     by P.J. Griekspoor
     on February 21, 2011

    One of the real joys of my life is that from time to time, thanks to my partner, Dave, I get to meet new people that are intersecting his world as they come to Wichita to buy an airplane or get flight training. Tonight, we had a wonderful time talking to David, who just bought a Bonanza, and his flight instructor, Harold. They are from Greenville, S.C., and during the course of the dinner conversation, agriculture came up as a discussion topic. David revealed that about 10 years ago he…

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  • Tom Bechman

    Find Out Who Your Friends Are

    Hoosier Perspectives

     by Tom Bechman
     on February 21, 2011

    Lots of people use the term 'friend' pretty loosely these days. As in 'thanks friend' to someone who might hold the door open for you. True friends are hard to come by. It's just like the country song goes, "When the chips are down, then you'll find out who your friends are. They'll be the ones that drop everything and come running to help." Well, this past week I put that song to the test. It was fourth down and long, with the clock running out, and I needed someone who knew more about sheep…

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  • Holly Spangler

    Stuff Happens

    My Generation

     by Holly Spangler
     on February 21, 2011

    Saturday night. It was supposed to be our big date night. Our last night out was Christmas shopping in December, and before that, a pre-harvest date night. So we were kind of excited, and, bonus, it was even halfway close to Valentine's. That hardly ever happens. But nothing's ever simple. No joke, we walked into the restaurant and John's cell phone rang. It was his dad. I could see "COW PROBLEM" written all over his face. Sure enough, one cow was having trouble calving, and another was out…

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  • Curt Arens

    Wearing Many Hats - Part 1

    Husker Home Place

     by Curt Arens
     on February 18, 2011

    Farmers have never been afraid to step up to the plate. In the early days of settlement on the Plains, farmers served their communities as members of a Home Guard unit, as veterinarians and post office attendants, and their wives were school teachers and midwives. With scant populations in rural areas spread across miles and miles, farmers had to be competent at all kinds of jobs like maintaining roads, plowing snow, building bridges, waterways and community structures like churches, schools…

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  • Willie Vogt

    What's the Most Unique Thing at the Show?

    Farmer Iron

     by Willie Vogt
     on February 18, 2011

    Writing about equipment is plenty of fun. There's a lot going on. But there's also a question I get when I travel to a show that gives me a brain freeze: What's the most unique thing you've seen at the show? After you've walked every aisle and building at a 1.8 million square foot indoor show - Louisville - or traversed the five chock-full buildings at the New York Farm Show next week, that's a tough question. There's a lot of new stuff out there. From vertical tillage tools using a new disk…

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  • John Vogel

    Budget Whackers, Except Obama, Are At Work

    Nor' east Thinkin'

     by John Vogel
     on February 18, 2011

    My e-mails have been flooded in the last week with calls to rally the troops against proposed federal budget cuts. Personally, three words of exclamation come to mind – "It's about time!" I've never seen the desperation of so many campaigns – not just awareness alerts – to pressure Congress into easing up on proposed budget slashing. There's even more going on regarding state-level budget-cutting. Ag advocacy groups are also mounting campaigns to head off major cuts in…

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  • Josh Flint

    What Are You Willing To Pay More For?

    Prairie Gleanings

     by Josh Flint
     on February 18, 2011

    A month ago, I installed a new radio in my car. I’ve replaced the radio in other cars, but this was the first time I did it myself. Previously, I was under the impression that paying someone to install it was well worth the expense. This time, it would have cost roughly $70 to install it. Considering the radio retailed for about $125, I didn’t see the value in bumping my bill up to $200 for something I could do myself. It took me about three hours, but I got it done. It…

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  • Lon Tonneson

    Back from Brazil

    Inside Dakota Ag

     by Lon Tonneson
     on February 17, 2011

    "So did you make it back from Brazil?" my brother emailed me the other day. He he had been reading my blogs and noted that I stopped writing after one of the last days we spent touring the countryside. I did make it back. I survived the 36 hours of traveling from Iguassu Falls to Sao Paulo, to Miami, to Chicago and finally to Fargo. Or at least my body's back. My head's still in Brazil -- somewhere out there in the jungle. I keep thinking about the things I saw -- the…

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  • Holly Spangler

    Where Are the Parents?

    My Generation

     by Holly Spangler
     on February 16, 2011

    My good friend and colleague, Tom Bechman, wrote an excellent blog earlier this week about education, which has been solidly on my mind since embarking on our February cover package on education (See here, here and here. And here.) Tom even took time to share a sidebar for my story about what's happening in Indiana. Some folks in Illinois think Indiana was fairly progressive in encouraging/forcing consolidations a couple decades back, but from what Tom says, the verdict may still…

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  • John Vogel

    U.S. Being Out-bid For Its Own Food

    Nor' east Thinkin'

     by John Vogel
     on February 15, 2011

     Last week's Associated Press article about how corn prices are driving up food prices drew a visceral response from me. So I sent the Harrisburg Patriot a "letter to the editor" to offer a little more perspective. It's sure to provoke a wave of anti-ethanol zealots with half-vast information. Yes, food prices have been and are rising. And yes, rising grain prices – along with rising beef, pork, poultry and wool prices – will impact food and clothing prices even more in the…

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  • Holly Spangler

    Love is in the Air. Right?

    My Generation

     by Holly Spangler
     on February 14, 2011

    I don't know about the rest of the country, but here in Illinois today, the weather is positively spring-like. Currently, it's about 45 degrees, the birds are singing, the snow is melting, the mud is forming and the cattlemen are praying their calves don't get sick. Because, as Illinois weather dictates, our high last Thursday was somewhere south of 7 degrees. And it's Valentine's Day! Just in case you hadn't noticed. This is strictly my opinion, but I feel Valentine's Day is going the way…

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  • Tom Bechman

    Indiana's Future at Stake in Education Debate

    Hoosier Perspectives

     by Tom Bechman
     on February 14, 2011

    When the first of what could be more-to-come education bills passed the Indiana House of the Indiana General Assembly last week, some Hoosiers were likely happy, but many weren't. Being an old ag teacher myself, I still have contacts in those circles, and I stopped by where half a dozen or so were gathered to score FFA proficiency forms based on students' outside-the-classroom programs last week. The homemade sandwiches and chips were good, and they let me eat for free. They went about their…

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  • P.J. Griekspoor

    OK, We Set a Record. Is It Over Now?

    Kansas Viewpoint

     by P.J. Griekspoor
     on February 11, 2011

    I'd like to think that the worst of winter is behind us now. After all, we're crowding in on the middle of February and while we have a long way until snow is  unlikely, the bitterest cold should be over. We hope. Wednesday night set an all-time record for Feb. 9 in Kansas with an overnight low of 17 below. That's air temperature; figure in the 15 mph wind (which, by Kansas standards is but a breeze) and we hit the real cold that I remember from my formative years in the frozen tundra…

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  • Holly Spangler

    As the Bus Turns

    My Generation

     by Holly Spangler
     on February 11, 2011

    Ok, former farm kids: remember that day – that glorious day – from your youth, when somehow your school bus, as it wound its way around the rural backroads, got stuck in the ditch? Remember the rush, the excitement? Something different! And we’ll be late! For school! And all the kids will know about it when we do get there and we’ll be famous! They might even make an announcement on the intercom! I remember it like it was yesterday. Linda the Bus Driver miscalculated…

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  • Tim White

    Here comes the judge

    Buckeye Farm Beat

     by Tim White
     on February 10, 2011

    In the grasp of a frigid artic blast this week, I had the opportunity to help some high school FFA students with a practicum, and I must say it warmed me up a little. I was feeling a little duty-bound when the local vo-ag teacher Gina Anderson emailed me with a request to help judge the FFA district practicum at Lancaster High School, but I saw about 15 familiar names on the list of judges and figured I better not be the one who lets her down. So Wednesday afternoon this week I trekked over to…

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  • Curt Arens

    Most-Rejected Farm Wife Valentine Gifts

    Husker Home Place

     by Curt Arens
     on February 10, 2011

    I have under strong advisement from my wife that these farm wife Valentine gift ideas send the wrong message.   February is a time for romance, when farmers turn to their wives on the morning of St. Valentine’s Day, gaze longingly into their eyes and whisper sweet nothings like, “You gonna get up and help me with chores or what?” In many households, there won’t be a heart-shaped box of chocolates for Valentine’s Day. Some farmers probably don’t …

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  • Willie Vogt

    Cultivators and Planters Report

    Farmer Iron

     by Willie Vogt
     on February 10, 2011

    Monday, Feb. 14, is the first true sign of spring in our household. That's when pitchers and catchers report for spring training, which means warmer weather can't be far behind. Living in Minnesota, you really do seek out those signs of spring whether you live in town or are involved in corn farming. CORRECTION: OK I got too optimistic, and the date is this Thursday - but you know we Minnesotans look for spring everywhere we can! I know my Southern friends are already in the field - although…

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  • Holly Spangler

    We *Heart* Beef…on TV!

    My Generation

     by Holly Spangler
     on February 9, 2011

    If you’re from central Illinois, there’s a good chance you  know what “You Gotta Eat” means. The long-running segment on the local NBC affiliate out of Peoria visits one restaurant a week and reviews the menu, food, service and price. It’s a fun little piece to watch, in part because they love their small-town diners. And really, who doesn’t love a small town diner? Well, big news in our house tonight: You Gotta Eat is coming to a local restaurant…

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  • Josh Flint

    The State of Illinois Has Really Done It This Time

    Prairie Gleanings

     by Josh Flint
     on February 9, 2011

    A lot of my Missouri relatives enjoy razzing me about Illinois’ state of financial distress. They poked fun when the state increased our income tax. “Whatever,” I said. “At least we don’t pay outrageous annual sums in personal property tax to register our cars.” Today, I’m ready to move to Missouri. Sitting in my tax preparer’s office, I was completely stupefied when she asked if I would like to disclose any large purchases via the internet…

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  • Josh Flint

    Scratching the Surface

    Prairie Gleanings

     by Josh Flint
     on February 9, 2011

    Whew! The Master Farmer stories are officially written and ready for press. Each year, this is a fun, yet extremely daunting, task. Meeting the winners and photographing their farm is a pleasure. It’s great to pick their brains and ask anything and everything about their farm and life. For me, the history portion is very interesting. I love hearing how the Master Farmer’s ancestors ended up in Illinois. It’s also intriguing to hear how the farm operation evolved over the…

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  • Lon Tonneson

    In front of the cameras

    Inside Dakota Ag

     by Lon Tonneson
     on February 7, 2011

    We spent our last day in Brazil at farm show. It was a grand outdoor ag expo modeled after the Farm Progress Show. The Illinois Soybean Association board members that I am with were met at the show by television crews, newspaper reporters and radio broadcasters. Even in the U.S. farmers usually don’t get this much attention. "Why are you here?” all the reporters asked. Ron Moore, the ISA chairman, explained that the group had traveled to the country to learn about…

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  • John Vogel

    Rethinking My 'Golden' Thoughts

    Nor' east Thinkin'

     by John Vogel
     on February 7, 2011

    Several blogs back, I shared a bit of advice from a Cornell economist on gold as a commodity. While he (and I) gave ourselves a little “wiggle room”, I wouldn’t want anyone to be misled. Gold, silver and a few other precious metals aren't just commodities. They are true residual currencies. And they are seen as counter-balancers of the global trading value of whatever printed currency is the king of printed currencies. The U.S. dollar still is today’s currency king…

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  • Tom Bechman

    No Retractions About Cold Weather Coming From Me!

    Hoosier Perspectives

     by Tom Bechman
     on February 7, 2011

    I got so hot last summer, literally clinically overheated, that I promised that no matter how cold it got this winter or how bad, I wouldn't complain. After all, when your area  averages 18 days of 90 degrees F or above and you get nearly 40 during the summer, and you're allergic to heat, summer was a miserable experience. I'm sticking to the guns about the cold. I've yet to complain about being too cold. I've joked that I'm just cooling down from last summer. So if you're tired of the…

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  • P.J. Griekspoor

    Too Little Rain, Too Much Cold

    Kansas Viewpoint

     by P.J. Griekspoor
     on February 6, 2011

    Hard red winter wheat is a resilient crop and has been know to come back from pretty dire circumstances. So don't write it off quite yet. But the crop in western Kansas is in big trouble as the heavy snows that brought badly needed moisture to the rest of the state pretty much missed the western third, maybe even the western half. Randy Hayzlett, who farms in southwest Kansas, says his area has had only minimal precipitation since early September and thousands of acres of wheat did…

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  • Lon Tonneson

    Blowing In The Wind

    Inside Dakota Ag

     by Lon Tonneson
     on February 5, 2011

    The farmers on this Illinois Soybean Association tour of Brazil are definitely high tech. They use some of biggest, most sophisticated farming equipment in the word. They are at ease with Global Positioning Systems, variable rating seed equipment and auto steer technology. They are forever using their Smart Phones, I-Phones and IPods to connect to their word back home as they travel from soybean farm to soybean farm in Brazil. So when we pulled up to the Immigrant Memorial in Castro…

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  • Lon Tonneson

    In Praise of No-till

    Inside Dakota Ag

     by Lon Tonneson
     on February 5, 2011

    "Wow, look at those beans!,” someone exclaimed as we got off the bus at a farm near Castro, Parana in the southern Brazil. The soybeans in this field were waist high and a deep green color. Perfectly spaced straight tire tracks from self propelled sprayer crossed the field like they were stitching on a emerald quilt,   We had come to see this farm operated by Frank Dijkstra and his family. Dijkstra is no-till pioneer in Brazil and a world recognized leader in the movement…

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  • Curt Arens

    Don't Worry, Be Happy with Automatic Tractors

    Husker Home Place

     by Curt Arens
     on February 4, 2011

    When automatic tractors become the norm, farmers can multitask like never before.   I love all the new technology and precision ag tools on the market today. Most farmers who are utilizing these tools tell us that the tools earn their way and add immensely to the efficiencies on their farms. They save input costs, help prevent fatigue and conserve valuable seed and nutrients, placing seed, fertilizer and other inputs where they will produce the most profit. Simply put, precision tools…

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  • Lon Tonneson

    Brazil -- Day 5

    Inside Dakota Ag

     by Lon Tonneson
     on February 3, 2011

    We toured Brazil’s biggest soybean port – Paranagua. It located on the southeast coast of Brazil – more than 600 miles from state of Mato Grosso where the soybeans grown. Though modern and efficient, the port is one of the major bottlenecks in getting Brazil soybeans to markets. It’s said that trucks wait in lines stretching 60 miles to unload during the peak of the export season. The round trip from Mato Grosso to the port can take up to three weeks. Apparently, the…

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  • Willie Vogt

    Emissions Under Load

    Farmer Iron

     by Willie Vogt
     on February 3, 2011

    New emissions standards bring new questions. A farmer contacted me recently asking why tractors that use the selective catalytic reduction approach (with diesel exhaust fluid - or DEF) consume the fluid at a rate of 5% of fuel used which requires a DEF tank refill after every other fuel fill. He's been told that for his pickup - which has a 5 gallon DEF tank - he only needs to fill it at the normal oil change interval. Great question. I turned to some folks at Agco to answer the question since…

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  • Lon Tonneson

    Brazil -- Day 4

    Inside Dakota Ag

     by Lon Tonneson
     on February 2, 2011

    At 7:30 a.m., the Nativ Farm outside of Primavera, Mato Grosso, it was buzzing with activity. As we arrived for our tour, the farms’ spray plane roared off the grass runway. Three self-propelled sprayers zipped through yard. Fertilizer trucks groaned under the weight of ammonium sulfate as they rolled out of the compound. Apparently, it is always busy on Brazil’s big soybean farms. They grow soybeans, corn, cotton and dry beans year round and they put on a lot of crop…

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  • John Vogel

    Wow! What A Market Ride!

    Nor' east Thinkin'

     by John Vogel
     on February 2, 2011

     I'd much rather be a forewarner than an "I told you so" rear-window commentator. But you have to wonder when the good times will stop rolling and why we're amid a historic market moment. Agriculture is experiencing record high grain, beef, pork and wool prices. U.S. farmland prices are exploding to new levels. I can't explain why milk isn't already on the same wild ride. But if predictions for rising dairy product exports are correct, farm-gate milk prices are likely to follow the…

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  • Lon Tonneson

    Brazil -- Day 3

    Inside Dakota Ag

     by Lon Tonneson
     on February 1, 2011

    Finally made it to a farm on my trip to Brazil with the Illinois Soybean Association And boy, did the farm live up to its billing. We boarded the bus in Cuiaba at 7 a.m. and headed northeast. The land outside of town was a surprise. I was expecting soybeans fields to start right on the edge of the city – Cuiaba, after all, is the center of Brazil’s agriculture engine. But the land was covered in trees and shrubs – the savannah, our Brazilian guide called it. After…

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  • P.J. Griekspoor

    It Could Be Worse

    Kansas Viewpoint

     by P.J. Griekspoor
     on February 1, 2011

    I was thinking that it's pretty bad outside.  After all, the governor has declared a disaster in 53 counties, the wind is howling and snow is blowing and drifting across the driveway with the clear intention of burying the car. Then I read about today in weather history and it seems the end of January and first of February are famous for this  kind of weather. According to the National Weather Service, Feb. 1 of 1951 brought the worst ice storm in U.S. history, coating a…

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  • Josh Flint

    The Definition of a Premium Lie

    Prairie Gleanings

     by Josh Flint
     on February 1, 2011

    I think some folks on television need to be reminded of the definition for organic food. Here it is, unabridged, from the USDA’s website. Organic food production: a system that is managed in accordance with the Organic Foods Production Act (OFPA) of 1990 and regulations in Title 7, Part 205 of the Code of Federal Regulations to respond to site-specific conditions by integrating cultural, biological, and mechanical practices that foster cycling of resources, promote ecological balance…

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