• John Vogel

    These Times Try Farmers' Souls

    Nor' east Thinkin'

     by John Vogel
     on April 29, 2011

    You may be reading this out of pure boredom, waiting until Mother Nature finally gives you a break in her spring monsoon. Much more than usual is riding on the outcome of this year's crops. You can almost taste the sweetness of selling corn at $7-plus – unimaginable even 8 months ago. But each day of field work delay from here to mid-May will slowly begin taking away from returns on those last-planted acres. If you're a milk or beef producer, you're in an even tighter time squeeze…

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  • Willie Vogt

    Make No Mistake, This is a Big One

    Farmer Iron

     by Willie Vogt
     on April 29, 2011

    When I was a kid in Eastern Iowa, there was this commercial on television from an electric motor rebuilding company, and during the TV spot as a giant motor was having its copper rewound a very deep-voiced announcer said: "Make no mistake, this is a big one." That was nearly 40 years ago and yet I remember that commercial, and that great tagline. This week the folks at Case IH are bragging about their "big one" as they roll out the Case IH Steiger 600 tractor. And the first owner is Lawrence…

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  • Lon Tonneson

    Calving Season Success

    Inside Dakota Ag

     by Lon Tonneson
     on April 28, 2011

    A couple South Dakota farm families I visited on April 27 were busy finishing up a tough stretch of calving in wet, cool, muddy conditions. Mark and Joel Erickson, Langford, S.D.; Brian, Darren and Kurt Zuehlke, of Z-Co Farms, Britton, S.D., have spent much of April working round the clock. Both families have 350-450 cows to calve out. “It’s gone pretty well,” says Mark Erickson. “We haven’t lost many calves.” The story’s the same at the…

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  • Curt Arens

    Arbor Day - A Nebraska Tradition

    Husker Home Place

     by Curt Arens
     on April 28, 2011

    With Arbor Day, Nebraska really started something special. When J. Sterling Morton and his wife Caroline moved their family from Michigan to Nebraska, they found something missing. They loved the forests and orchards of their home state, so when they got to Nebraska, they missed the trees. Of course, they came to our region in 1854, when the only trees in the territory were growing along rivers and streams and the majority of the region was tall grass prairie. So the Mortons got busy…

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  • Holly Spangler

    Cows and Fences: A Good Read

    My Generation

     by Holly Spangler
     on April 28, 2011

    I love a good story. I like a song that tells a story from beginning to end, like this or even this. (Yes, I was a teenager in the mid-'90s…why do you ask?) I love to hear a farmer's story; how they got started, how they got to where they are. Why they made a particular decision. How it all played out.  And when I stumbled on this absolutely lovely blog post the other day, I knew I needed to share it. Lindsay is an Indiana farm girl, and even better, a Shorthorn girl…

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  • P.J. Griekspoor

    An Inconsistent Message

    Kansas Viewpoint

     by P.J. Griekspoor
     on April 27, 2011

    Today, Gov. Sam Brownback declared a disaster emergency in 21 Kansas counties that have been hard hit by drought through the fall and winter of 2010-2011. Almost all of them stand to lose most of the winter wheat crop and have insufficient moisture to plant a fall crop. At the same time, the Republican majority in the U.S. House of Representatives, fired up on budget deficits and empowered by Rep. Ron Ryan's "brave" plan for budget reduction, suggest that federal funds for agriculture should…

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  • Holly Spangler

    Scrap Direct Payments?

    My Generation

     by Holly Spangler
     on April 26, 2011

    Last week, I asked for your opinions on what the next farm programs should look like. Early feedback?  In no particular order: *Scrap direct payments ("Do we really need them with $7 corn? It's just plain silly.") *Cap direct payments *Define small farms (maybe under 1,000 acres) and come up with equation that is fair to them *Good luck getting anything out of the House *Simplify crop insurance ("The government would save millions or billions of dollars by just offering the…

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  • P.J. Griekspoor

    Season of Skywatching Arrives

    Kansas Viewpoint

     by P.J. Griekspoor
     on April 25, 2011

    I arrived in Wichita on April 18, 1990, a time when everybody was still talking about "the Hesston tornado." This massive twister stood out because it was the first "big one" in more than a decade and everyone was beginning to think maybe the climate had changed and Kansas was no longer destined to be home to the worst that "tornado alley" could deliver. It hit early, March 13, 1990. Most really bad ones come between April 15 and June 1. It wouldn't be long before I would have my own…

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  • P.J. Griekspoor

    Hallelujah, RAIN!!

    Kansas Viewpoint

     by P.J. Griekspoor
     on April 25, 2011

    As is often the case, some parts of the state are getting way too little rain and others way too much. But almost everybody got at least a bit of moisture over the Easter weekend and into today. Flash flood watches and warnings are out for the southeastern part of the state, where heavy downpours totaling four to six inches have caused creeks and waterways to flood, covering low-water bridges and closing roads. In Wichita, about three-quarters of an inch of rain fell between Sunday night…

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  • Tim White

    For Whom the Barn Tolls

    Buckeye Farm Beat

     by Tim White
     on April 25, 2011

    With the heavy wind and the volumes of rain this weekend, the downspout on the barn gutter came crashing right down. Yep, tore the duct tape and everything. So I put it back together. Doubled the duct tape. I’ll get back to you in a month. The barn is an unending source of projects. Last summer it was new siding and paint. Now the other side needs power washing and re-painting. I think my brother-in-law is looking for some work. I did finally fix the wooden ramp that runs up into the…

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  • Tom Bechman

    History is Where You Find It

    Hoosier Perspectives

     by Tom Bechman
     on April 25, 2011

    Be honest. Have you ever heard of an Empire tractor? If you said 'yes,' you're a member of the Empire Tractor Club, an owner of one of these rare oddities, or perhaps someone with too much time on your hands. You can read what little is known about the history of this strange machine by Googling Empire Tractor Club. But if you want to see one in person, you may have to do some inquiring. It's not a tractor you run into at your typical antique tractor show. That's why I was particularly…

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  • Josh Flint

    Drop the For-Hire Issue

    Prairie Gleanings

     by Josh Flint
     on April 25, 2011

    Enforce: (v.) to compel observance or obedience to. As an adjective, the term is enforceable, i.e. the law is enforceable. Apparently, lawmakers and regulatory agencies need a little education in this concept. In discussing transportation secretary Ray LaHood’s for-hire initiative, it appears the Department of Transportation forgot to ask the old “is this regulation/law enforceable” question. A new interpretation from the Federal DOT would require farmers to be…

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  • Willie Vogt

    Sneak Peek at a New Tractor

    Farmer Iron

     by Willie Vogt
     on April 22, 2011

    Maybe I am getting old. I remember a time when product details for a new machine were a kind of Manhattan Project of secrecy. Sure there would be a new machine but its features were usually not unveiled until dealers saw everything, then it hit the farm shows. Don't tell John Deere. This year, in advance of the new 7R series tractors and a new combine line, the company is teasing out information about the machinery. And we're not talking some simple sneak peeks, we're talking full on pictures…

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  • Holly Spangler

    Where Do You Stand?

    My Generation

     by Holly Spangler
     on April 21, 2011

    Earlier this week, Maple Park farmer Steve Pitstick did an interview with Fox News, talking farm subsidies. And in a piece titled, "It's All Your Money: How much are farmers costing you?" (a title that doesn't exactly beg lack of bias), Pitstick responds that most corn and soybean farmers would be fine if direct payments went away, but crop insurance is still vital to the health of the industry. "It's kind of a national security thing, to produce a good crop every year to feed the world…

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  • Josh Flint

    What Drives Your Decision Making Process?

    Prairie Gleanings

     by Josh Flint
     on April 19, 2011

    Yesterday, I heard a story that is a great allegory to potentially poor decision making on the farm. There once was a young bride who decided to make her husband a pot roast for dinner. After trimming the meat, she cut the end off the roast and put it in the pan. As her husband watched her prepare dinner, he asked, “Why do you cut the end off before you put it in the pan?” Because mom always did, she replied. Thinking about it the next day, she called mom and asked her why she…

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  • Curt Arens

    The Only Thing We Have to Fear is...Public Speaking

    Husker Home Place

     by Curt Arens
     on April 19, 2011

    Feared more than death and taxes, adults are petrified of speaking in front of people.   I have to admit, my mind began to wander a bit during the county 4-H public speaking contest the other night. Listening intently to young 4-Hers talk about their latest projects, their hopes for the future, their thoughts on agriculture or caring for the land, I couldn’t help but admire these students who stood before total strangers and told their stories with ease. They could communicate…

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  • John Vogel

    Why 4-H Kids Are Smarter, Healthier

    Nor' east Thinkin'

     by John Vogel
     on April 19, 2011

     We, in agriculture, don't like to brag. But there are rock-solid reasons why farm-raised children are healthier, smarter and tend to be more successful as adults. They are, in fact, the highest value "crop" a farm family can grow. And, it has all to do with how you nourish and grow them. It's not even a well-kept secret. That's why so many farmer wanna-bes want to be, despite the high cost of becoming one. Lessons learned I, for example, owe my good health to dirt, mud and livestock…

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  • Holly Spangler

    Happy (Planting) Birthday, Baby

    My Generation

     by Holly Spangler
     on April 19, 2011

    The perils of being the third child who was also born in the middle of April? Your birthday can get a little busy. Like, between your older siblings' piano lessons, Easter program practice and AWANA, you don't get a real birthday supper. And the tractor may or may not be running non-stop. But the consolation prize? Lunch in the tractor with Dad. And Mom. All to yourself. And a Happy Meal. Things were definitely looking up for Miss Caroline. Check out that {new} three-year-old…

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  • Tom Bechman

    Enjoy Your 'Shining Moments'

    Hoosier Perspectives

     by Tom Bechman
     on April 18, 2011

    The cover of the May issue of Indiana Prairie Farmer features Troy Hattery, a farmer and supervisor for the Miami County Soil and Water Conservation District. Earlier this year, he was named Indiana's Supervisor of the Year by the Indiana Association of Soil and Water Conservation Districts. Indiana Prairie Farmer sponsored the award, so we wanted to visit Hattery and get a firsthand look at what he dos on his farm and in his community. The local district conservationist with the Natural…

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  • Lon Tonneson

    Best Of Times, Worst Of Times

    Inside Dakota Ag

     by Lon Tonneson
     on April 15, 2011

    It’s ironic that most of South Dakota agriculture is experiencing the best of times while the state's ag research and extension service is experiencing the worst of times. This week, in response to state and federal budget cuts, SDSU officials closed two of its seven agricultural experiment stations, cut 90 positions at the Brookings campus and in the ag experiment station system, closed all county extension offices and merged them in seven regional center, eliminated 20 out-state…

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  • Willie Vogt

    Remanufactured Parts Plan to Speed Delivery

    Farmer Iron

     by Willie Vogt
     on April 15, 2011

    A couple weeks ago I blogged about the efforts of Agco and its parts program (That's Logistics). This week comes news that Case IH is also committing to new investment to enhance delivery remanufactured products to equipment dealers in North America. These efforts are a big deal. As farms get larger, downtime gets more expensive, and major equipment manufacturers know this. While they work very hard to have the right part on hand when needed, there can be roadblocks. With this investment in a…

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  • Curt Arens

    Democracy is Messy Business

    Husker Home Place

     by Curt Arens
     on April 13, 2011

        The farmers who battled the British in the spring of 1775 fought for our freedom to disagree and to compromise.   It wasn’t all that well planned out, but the farmers and laborers in the countryside knew one thing. They wanted to be free. They had no idea, when they stood together on Lexington Green to face a well-trained British column on the morning of April 15, 1775, what the country they were about to risk life and limb for would turn out to become. Yet, when…

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  • Tim White

    Wow –That’s a magazine

    Buckeye Farm Beat

     by Tim White
     on April 13, 2011

    Between PBS television and the local paper there is plenty of Civil War history being circulated as we begin the 150th anniversary of that event. I wouldn’t say I’m a Civil War buff, but I do find the history of “the war between the states” interesting. So an article in the Columbus Dispatch today caught my attention. (You can find “Marketers Mine Civil War” at…

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  • Holly Spangler

    654 Miles

    My Generation

     by Holly Spangler
     on April 13, 2011

    You may have noticed I haven't had a new blog post in about five days. Or maybe not. If you have and if the wondering has kept you up at night, it's because it's been a little crazy around here. The past five days have seen all of the following, though not in any particular order: the start of Spring Planting 2011, the celebration of our third child's third birthday, a four-day fever, and a two-day road trip covering 654 miles in approximately 36 hours. Not that I was counting. Said road…

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  • Josh Flint

    What’s This Crazy Talk About Fresh, Local Food Being Expensive?

    Prairie Gleanings

     by Josh Flint
     on April 12, 2011

    Lately, I’ve been hearing a lot about how celebrity chef Jamie Oliver is disappointed in the Los Angeles school system for telling his “Food Revolution” show to hit the road. If you’re not familiar with it, “Food Revolution” is the show where Oliver rides into town and rips apart the local school food program. I watched part of a show from his first season. I turned the channel when he started throwing perfectly good red meat in the dumpster, while…

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  • Tom Bechman

    Signs That Prove It's Truly Spring

    Hoosier Perspectives

     by Tom Bechman
     on April 11, 2011

    The weatherman says spring is here and we get snow showers. Southern Indiana got up to three inches of snow, so much that the folks at Melon Acres north of Vincennes had to scramble to get the snow off the High tunnels they had just erected for vegetable production. Snow isn't a sign of spring, not even in Indiana! Don't give up, dear hearts. I've uncovered some true signs that it really is spring. It's not a mirage. Enjoy my true descriptions of how I know it's spring. Don't laugh unless you…

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  • P.J. Griekspoor

    National Arboretum A Treasure

    Kansas Viewpoint

     by P.J. Griekspoor
     on April 10, 2011

    The North American Agricultural Journalists are in Washington, D.C. for the organization's annual convention and awards banquet. I've been a member for 15 years or so and always look forward to the opportunity to be here and see and learn new things. Today, we toured the National Arboretum ahead of a short question and answer session with Kathleen Merrigan, deputy secretary of agriculture. While the gardens are without doubt a sensory delight, we learned that the National Arboretum is…

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  • John Vogel

    Budgetary Shut-downs Cost Agriculture, Too

    Nor' east Thinkin'

     by John Vogel
     on April 9, 2011

      Our nation focuses on the continual political wrangling over the federal budget. But legislative foot-dragging over finishing state budgets ahead of deadline also have a huge impact on many programs and services. Here are two examples of why deadlines for finishing budgets must be moved much farther forward from when the fiscal year actually begins. New York Governor Cuomo's proposed ag budget left many programs hanging high and dry. Without assurance of funding, a number of programs…

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  • P.J. Griekspoor

    Smoke 'Debate' Is Not An Honest One

    Kansas Viewpoint

     by P.J. Griekspoor
     on April 8, 2011

    The ongoing "debate" about whether ranchers should burn the Flint Hills prairie in the early spring is getting on my very last nerve. News reports about health hazards from drifting smoke were all over the place yesterday after a couple of afternoons when smoke from prairie fires drifted over Wichita for a couple of hours. The smoke management plan worked out by state legislators, cattlemen, city officials and EPA last winter includes a ban on types of outdoor burning other than pastures…

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  • Josh Flint

    Fresh-Food Love Affair Indicates Paradigm Shift

    Prairie Gleanings

     by Josh Flint
     on April 8, 2011

    Throughout history, we’ve put a premium on the ability to harvest food and store it. Sometime in the mid-19th Century, canning began to catch on. For Europeans, canned food was a status symbol. Remember the first time you heard about the freeze-dried food astronauts were eating? A lot of folks still keep multiple freezers in the basement so they can stock up on good deals without fearing expiration before they get a chance to enjoy the savings. From the stocked freezer to the World…

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  • Willie Vogt

    Making a Difference

    Farmer Iron

     by Willie Vogt
     on April 8, 2011

    There's a place on this lowly planet that is near and dear to my heart. A little island nation 600 miles from Miami that is has the poorest economy in the Western hemisphere and it was made all the poorer in 2010 when an earthquake turned its cinder-block and concrete buildings into rubble-piled death traps. Yes, I'm talking about Haiti. I've been there twice - pre-earthquake - for mission work (sweating and lifting with the locals to work on churches and schools), and hope to return soon to…

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  • Holly Spangler

    Strength in Numbers

    My Generation

     by Holly Spangler
     on April 8, 2011

    Last week, I had the opportunity to attend the dedication of a couple new pieces of ground added to the University of Illinois Monmouth Research Farm. As Emerson Nafziger wisecracked at the mic, we've never had a celebration for expanding a research station…it's usually more of a funeral. Indeed. State money is tight, which means University money is tight, which means agricultural research and Extension (whose mission is not well understood by the non-ag majority on campus) has become…

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  • Curt Arens

    From the Farm Field to the School Cafeteria

    Husker Home Place

     by Curt Arens
     on April 6, 2011

    Joyce Rice has the energy and the attitude to do great things for Central City students.   Joyce Rice is a ball of energy. The food services director for Central City schools feeds 700 students each day, and she has enthusiasm to spare. She is a farmer at heart, and she thinks like farmers think. She was dissatisfied with the food students at Central City were being fed and she decided to start looking for locally raised, healthy food to place on the menu at school. Joyce contacted…

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  • Holly Spangler

    What's Natural?

    My Generation

     by Holly Spangler
     on April 5, 2011

    There are days when I get frustrated about the way words are taken over and misused. Like sustainable. And natural. And industrial. I have argued this before, but I think when a word is used so broadly for so many purposes – and to advance so many agendas – it loses both meaning and effectiveness. Exhibit A, again: sustainable. So it did my heart good to see a little treatise from a heart doctor regarding natural and artificial. Because if there's anything that's popular these…

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  • John Vogel

    Give His Budget A D-

    Nor' east Thinkin'

     by John Vogel
     on April 4, 2011

      In recent days, I’ve had conversations with Master Farmers, state ag leaders, even Penn State trustees about Pennsylvania Governor Tom Corbett’s proposed budget “gut” of the commonwealth’s land grant university budget. I came up with these five possible reasons behind the 52% gut cut for Penn State: That part of the budget was drafted by 20-something-year-old aides with no knowledge of the school’s land grant mission and how ag research and…

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  • Tom Bechman

    Trip Back Through Time

    Hoosier Perspectives

     by Tom Bechman
     on April 4, 2011

    Just getting to Carl Villwock's Farm Museum estate auction was a trip within itself. Although Carl lived at Edwardsport, to facilitate the sale, it was held at Dinky's Auction barn, an institution in the Amish country of Daviess County, located north of Montgomery. Maybe it's not in the middle of nowhere, but only the good Lord can find it without directions. I had directions from a friend who goes there all the time since his son lives nearby, and I still had to call him twice, on a modern…

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  • P.J. Griekspoor

    How Wild Can It Get?

    Kansas Viewpoint

     by P.J. Griekspoor
     on April 3, 2011

    The weather wildness can't much wilder than it got today across Kansas. Starting out, high winds and HOT temperatures increased the fire risk over much of the state, and a wildfire that broke out in western Kansas near Satanta, forced the the evacuation of the town. In Wichita, a 90-degree high set a record this afternoon before 45-mph winds from the southeast switched to 41-mph winds from the northwest and dropped the temperature rapidly as rain and hail pounded down with the passage of…

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  • Josh Flint

    The Organic Enthusiasts Are After Me

    Prairie Gleanings

     by Josh Flint
     on April 1, 2011

    When I wrote my April column (http://magissues.farmprogress.com/PRA/PF04Apr11/pra013.pdf), I had an inclination that the organic enthusiasts weren’t going to like it. Just a week after it hit mailboxes, I’ve received several letters telling me how wrong I am about organic production. The main theme seems to be that I’m a lackey of corporate ag who is simply reciting their dribble about how necessary chemicals are. For some reason, I thought the concept of working harder…

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  • Willie Vogt

    Putting it all Together

    Farmer Iron

     by Willie Vogt
     on April 1, 2011

    No joke, planting for Midwest corn is happening somewhere today and that's exciting, although from where I sit in lovely Minnesota we'll not see planters and spring work rolling for at least a few more days. Heck we won't have our home opener for baseball for another week. I was talking with an industry colleague yesterday and he commented that these days farmers are tooled up to handle any eventuality for the weather and planting season. Surprisingly, in this country, given the number of…

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