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Farm Credit Launches FreshRoots: Young & Beginning Farmers Program Supports Next Generation

Farm Credit Illinois introduced an initiative to support new farmers during two young and beginning farmer forums, attended by more than 250 farmer participants in Springfield and Effingham this week.

Farm Credit Illinois’ Steve Witges announces the FreshRoots program during the young and beginning farmer forum in Effingham Wednesday.

The FreshRoots young and beginning farmers program provides lending assistance and learning incentives to farmers up to age 40 or in their first 10 years of farming. Eligible borrowers receive loan pricing discounts for five years on up to $1 million in farm real estate loans and $500,000 in operating loans. Participants earn up to $2,000 in FreshRoots stipends for attending learning workshops and can apply for one of the $5,000 Directors Cup awards, which annually recognize farmers demonstrating personal growth and professional development. 

“Our members and Board of Directors voiced their desire for FCI to help equip today’s young and beginning farmers for a healthy start in their farming careers,” says Tom Tracy, FCI President & CEO. “As a member-owned and driven cooperative, we heard their requests and specifically tailored a FreshRoots program dedicated to Helping the Next Generation of Farm Families Succeed.”

“The FreshRoots learning incentives motivate participants to embrace an attitude of lifelong learning and offer an opportunity to see firsthand how beneficial half-day workshops are for their growth and development in their young farming careers,” says Steve Witges, FCI regional vice president. “Participants can use what they learn in the workshops when submitting a farm balance sheet and business plan with their loan application. We want to guide young and beginning farmers to evaluate their business, set goals, and create action plans as they start growing FreshRoots.”

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Farm Credit Supports Local FFA

The Farm Credit Illinois Red Bud regional office recently supported the Christ Our Savior and Red Bud FFA chapters, awarding $250 to each. The donations are part of the financial cooperative’s ongoing support of rural communities and agriculture.

Above: Members of the Christ Our Savior FFA chapter accept the gift from Jacob Fishbein (FCI)

Above: Members of the Christ Our Savior FFA chapter accept the gift from Jacob Fishbein (FCI)

In 2017, FCI invested more than $235,000 in youth, community, and ag literacy initiatives throughout its 60-county marketplace.

Above from L to R: Zacary Michels, Alec Hahn, Logan Cowell, Blake Durbin, Treyton Jones, Laura DuFrenne (FCI), Joe Goeddel, Matt Wiegard, Patrick Sondag, Caleb Crain, Dylan Falkenhain, Joseph Kingsley, Dominick Liefer, Vance Schmidt, Katie Davis, Madilyn Hoock, Micheal Chausse, Nicole Boyke

The funds will be used to build raised garden beds for each chapter’s greenhouse. The Red Bud regional office annually supports local FFA chapter initiatives which further agricultural and youth development in rural communities.

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 About Farm Credit Illinois

Farm Credit Illinois is a farmer-owned and directed agricultural lending cooperative serving 8,500 farm families, agribusinesses, and rural landowners in the southern 60 counties of Illinois with competitive and flexible financing and crop insurance expertise. The Association manages a $4 billion loan portfolio, provides 1.4 million acres of crop insurance coverage, and employs 210 staff based in the Mahomet central office and 14 regional office locations. The U.S. Farm Credit System supports rural communities, farm families, and agriculture with reliable, consistent credit and financial services today and tomorrow.

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Farm Credit 2018 Scholarship & Grant Programs For Youth Available: Supporting the Future of Agriculture and Healthy Rural Communities

High school seniors pursuing a career in agriculture are invited to apply for a $2,000 Farm Credit Illinois Agriculture Scholarship.
2017 FCI agriculture scholars

2017 Agriculture Scholar recipients at recognition luncheon

Thirty scholarships will be given in 2018 with two recipients designated as Urban Agriculture Scholars. Recipients are selected based on a combination of academic achievement, participation and leadership in school and community organizations, and the applicant’s commitment to an agricultural career. Applicants must be high school seniors enrolling in a college or university during the 2018 fall semester to pursue an agriculture-related academic major and career. Applicants must reside in – or immediate family must farm in – one of 60 central and southern counties in Illinois served by FCI. Recipients will receive $1,000 for the fall 2018 semester and $1,000 for fall 2020.

Farm Credit Illinois also invites 4-H Clubs and FFA Chapters organizing projects to apply for a $400 Community Improvement Grant.

 

Fifty $400 grants will be awarded to assist youth members in bringing positive change to their local community. Clubs should choose a project that delivers tangible value where the outcome is visible. Farm Credit encourages collaboration with other local organizations to develop and complete the improvement project.

Online applications for the scholarship and grant programs are available at www.farmcreditIL.com and must be submitted by Feb. 28. Questions or requests for additional information may be sent to ask@farmcreditIL.com.

“Farm Credit was created with one special mission – to support rural communities and agriculture – and that extends beyond financial services,” says Tom Tracy, FCI President & CEO.

Clovers and Cloverettes 4-H Club

Clovers and Cloverettes 4-H Club

 

“The Agriculture Scholarship program promotes positive opportunities for tomorrow’s leaders who will shape the future of agriculture while the Community Improvement Grant program helps local clubs and chapters make positive and tangible contributions to the health of Rural America.”

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Farm Credit Illinois is a farmer-owned and -directed agricultural lending cooperative serving 11,000 farm families, agribusinesses, and rural landowners in the southern 60 counties of Illinois with competitive and flexible financing and crop insurance expertise. The Association manages a $4.2 billion loan portfolio, sells 1.4 million acres of crop insurance coverage, and employs 220 staff based in the Mahomet central office and 14 regional office locations. The U.S. Farm Credit System supports rural communities, farm families, and agriculture with reliable, consistent credit and financial services today and tomorrow.

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Is Your Crop Insurance Coverage Right For You?

Winter is a time to plan for the next growing season. While it may be easiest to simply renew existing crop insurance policies, you may be leaving money on the table and exposing your farm to extra risk. By annually revisiting a farm’s risk management strategy and asking your crop insurance agent questions, you’ll optimize your coverage decisions.

1. How have the multi-peril crop programs changed?

The national crop insurance program is constantly evolving. Examining these changes annually can uncover new opportunities and potential savings. For example: Did you know the definition of "replant" is changing in 2018? Or that coverage on irrigated and non-irrigated acres can be customized?

2. Have recent changes on the farm affected your expected planted acres?

As farms seize opportunities to expand their farmland or sell off non-income producing assets, their coverage needs change. This can be true if added acres have a strong production history that may change your guarantee. To ensure you have the correct coverage, share any farm business or personal changes with your crop insurance agent. These changes may include adding or removing partners, changing crop mix, forming a new entity, and changing your marital status.

3. How much risk should your farm business endure this year?

Establishing an estimated cost of production gives you two pieces of critical information – how much money is required to grow your crops and how much insurance is needed to cover this investment in case of a crop failure. While the current agriculture economic cycle continues, you may want to consider increasing coverage levels to mitigate risk and maintain equity in the event of a substantial loss.

4. How can crop insurance bolster your marketing plan?

By establishing your cost of production and planting intentions for 2018, you can begin to use crop insurance to aid your marketing plan. If you choose a Revenue Protection policy, you can forward market confidently because of the bushel guarantee.

5. Can educational programs teach about new options?

Winter is the perfect time to brush up on your skills, explore new techniques, and learn from other farmers in your region. Crop insurance companies will likely host informational winter meetings to share updates on the federal crop insurance program – much like Farm Credit Illinois‘ Fielding Forward crop insurance meetings.

Evaluating crop insurance coverage options annually helps you understand the best policies for your farm business’s needs. Having a frank and timely conversation with your crop insurance agent is the most effective way to develop a risk management plan to protect your farm business.

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Farm Credit Invests In Local County Fairs

Three Farm Credit Illinois (FCI) regional offices recently made gifts totaling near $3,000 to local county fairs. The donations are part of the financial cooperative’s ongoing support of rural communities and agriculture. In 2016, FCI invested more than $245,000 in youth, community, and ag literacy initiatives throughout its 60-county marketplace. 

Above from L to R: Back Row: Jackson Lashmett (Scott County Fair Vice President), Chaz Walker, Blake Clayton, Millie Lashmett, Jessica Freeman (Farm Credit Illinois), Kacie McCleery, Brayden Freeman; Front Row: Keira Dahman, Jackie Lashmett, Braylee Littig, Oz Walker

Jacksonville

The FCI Jacksonville regional office recently made a $750 gift to the Scott County Fair. The funds will provide improvements to the Scott County Junior Fair’s livestock wash racks, making them safer and more effective for the 4-H members using them.

Mt. Vernon & Red Bud

The FCI Mt. Vernon and Red Bud regional offices recently awarded $1,500 to Perry County University of Illinois Extension. The joint funds will provide a new livestock scale for the Perry County 4-H Fair. The Mt. Vernon and Red Bud regional offices annually support Extension initiatives which further agricultural and youth development in rural communities.

 

Above from L to R: Cindy Bauman (Franklin County
4-H program coordinator), Robby Gilliam (FCI, Mt. Vernon)

The Mt. Vernon regional office also awarded almost $700 to the Franklin County University of Illinois Extension to provide the funding for new paint for the 4-H Barn at the Franklin County Fairgrounds.

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Five Ways To Find Your Balance Through Debt Restructuring

Farmers use their balancing skills every day – whether they’re climbing vertical ladders to close the top of the grain bin or wiping soybean dust off the combine windshield. While this dexterity is helpful while working outside, farmers must also be flexible in the office as they search for the financial balance necessary for business success.

As some farm families find themselves with depleted working capital, they may consider restructuring debt to increase liquidity. But before approaching a farm lender, they must recognize any underlying issues that got them off-center and create an action plan so restructuring doesn’t cause the farm further financial stress.

When evaluating the farm’s financial statement before restructuring debt, farmers should consider these tactics on their path to finding operational balance.

  1. Evaluate debt and term levels – overleveraging shorter-term assets and/or overly aggressive amortizations on term debts may be causing the cash flow issue
  2. Cut appropriate expenses before rebalancing ledgers – critically assess all farm expenditures, including family living expenses and non-income producing assets
  3. Understand current working capital levels – determine if cash reserves will support a new debt structure for the size of your farm business or if costs need to be reduced
  4. Review risk management practices – use a consistent marketing strategy and annually evaluate crop insurance options
  5. Keep thorough records – reliable year-end financial and accrual income statements are key to sound decision making

After examining these strategies, farmers are ready to talk with lenders about restructuring options. The conversation may include the following considerations:

  1. Being mindful of the asset and liability balance when financing assets to maintain adequate cash flow and build liquidity to withstand economic cycles
  2. Aligning the loan term to the life of the asset corresponding with the loan
  3. Considering locking in a fixed interest rate for the life of the loan to gain a better understanding of the long-term debt service demands on your family farm
  4. Understanding the additional cost of longer-term financing

Restructuring debt may not be a solution for all farm businesses, but the benefit of additional working capital may be worth the extra cost if care is taken in finding the optimal financial balance the farm business needs to continue today and tomorrow.

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Farm Credit Illinois Increases Farmdoc Endowment: $400,000 Gift Expands Annual Contribution to Program

Farm Credit Illinois (FCI) contributed an additional $400,000 into a farmdoc endowment at the University of Illinois Foundation, originally established in December 2010.
 
Farmdoc and farmdocdaily provide farm families with online tools, information, and resources to help farmers make business decisions on their farm. The two websites collectively host more than 3 million visits annually.
 
Since FCI established the farmdoc endowment with a $350,000 gift in 2010, the endowment has provided more than $100,000 of program support while its market value has gradually grown to $400,000. The latest $400,000 gift to the farmdoc endowment brings the market value to more than $800,000, which will now provide more than $30,000 of annual program support.
 
“Many of the 11,000 farm families comprising FCI’s membership visit and subscribe to farmdoc,” says Tom Tracy, FCI President & CEO. “As a farmer-owned financial cooperative, we are proud to invest in a cutting-edge initiative which provides tools and resources better equipping our members to make decisions, in turn Helping Farm Families Succeed today and tomorrow.”
 
“During the tightening of today’s Illinois farm economy, farmdoc is a crucial resource for farmers managing businesses with narrow financial margins,” says Mark Miller, FCI Board Chair.
 
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About Farm Credit Illinois
 
Farm Credit Illinois is a farmer-owned and directed agricultural lending cooperative serving 8,500 farm families, agribusinesses, and rural landowners in the southern 60 counties of Illinois with competitive and flexible financing and crop insurance expertise. The Association manages a $4 billion loan portfolio, provides 1.4 million acres of crop insurance coverage, and employs 210 staff based in the Mahomet central office and 14 regional office locations. The U.S. Farm Credit System supports rural communities, farm families, and agriculture with reliable, consistent credit and financial services today and tomorrow.

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Farm Credit Returns $3 Million To Farm Families: Harvest Interest Returns Impacts 2,859 Member-borrowers

Farm Credit Illinois provided zero percent interest on operating loans during October and November to more than 2,800 farm families – accumulating $3.02 million of total interest credit. This special “Harvest Interest Returns” program automatically applied to existing FCI operating loans on balances up to $500,000.
 
“In the challenging economic cycles of agriculture, farmer’s working capital levels are stressed,” says Tom Tracy, FCI President & CEO. “Harvest Interest Returns provided timely relief to our membership with operating loans while thanking the farm families working tirelessly through the harvest season.”
 
“As a farmer-owned cooperative, Directors see tighter margins reflected in our own balance sheets,” says Mark Miller, FCI Board Chair. “We recognized it was the Association’s role to give back a portion of the year’s success.”
 
Farm Credit Illinois is a farmer-owned and directed agricultural lending cooperative serving 11,000 farm families, agribusinesses, and rural landowners in the southern 60 counties of Illinois with competitive and flexible financing and crop insurance expertise. The Association manages a $4.2 billion loan portfolio, sells 1.4 million acres of crop insurance coverage, and employs 220 staff based in the Mahomet central office and 14 regional office locations. The U.S. Farm Credit System supports rural communities, farm families, and agriculture with reliable, consistent credit and financial services today and tomorrow.

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Seven Join Farm Credit Association Team

Farm Credit Illinois recently hired seven employees throughout its 60-county territory: Adam Bane, of Lexington; Jie Cai, of Champaign; Heather McKinney, of Mahomet; Renea Morris, of Paris; Brandi Nugent, of Paris; Tammy Schroeder, of Mahomet; and Ryan Tallman, of Pocahontas.

Adam BaneBane began Sept. 25, as a credit assistant in the credit services division based in the financial cooperative’s central office in Mahomet. He was raised on his family’s McLean County grain and livestock farm in Arrowsmith and graduated from Tri-Valley High School before receiving his associate’s degree in agriculture from Joliet Junior College. Bane then earned a bachelor’s degree in agricultural economics from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.

Prior to joining the Farm Credit team, Bane worked for more than two years as a grain originator at Prairie Central Cooperative in Chenoa and as a sales professional for four years at Martin Sullivan in Lexington.

Jie CaiCai began Oct. 1, as a portfolio risk analyst in the credit services division based in the financial cooperative’s central office in Mahomet. She was raised in Shiyan, China and graduated from Dongfeng High School before receiving her bachelor’s degree in finance from Beijing Language and Cultural University. Cai then earned two master’s degrees – one in management with business finance from the University of York and another in policy economics from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.

Prior to joining the Farm Credit team, Cai worked for one year as an analyst at Dagong Global Credit Rating Company in Beijing, China. Cai resides in Champaign with her husband Li Chen. Cai is the daughter of Zhengdong Tan and Xiuhua Cai of Shiyan, China.

Heather McKinneyMcKinney started as a sales and service specialist in the Mahomet regional office Oct. 9. The Mahomet office serves farm families and rural landowners in Champaign, Douglas, Ford, Piatt, and Vermilion Counties.

McKinney was raised in Champaign County and graduated from Mahomet-Seymour High School before receiving her associate’s degree in applied science hospitality management from Parkland College. Prior to joining the Farm Credit team, McKinney worked for two years as a human resources payroll specialist at Express Employment in Champaign and as an assistant branch manager for more 15 years at Busey Bank in Mahomet. McKinney resides in Mahomet with her husband Joey with their two children – CJ (16) and Sydney (11).

Renae MorrisMorris began Oct. 2, as sales and service specialists at the Paris regional office. The Paris office serves farm families and rural landowners in Clark, Coles, and Edgar Counties.

Morris was raised in Edgar County and graduated from Chrisman High School. Prior to joining the Farm Credit team, Morris worked for more than 30 years in the banking industry, most recently as the president and manager at Paris Hi-Way Credit Union. Morris resides in Paris with her husband John and has two children – Mark and Sarah (Ben) Setzer.

Nugent started as sales and service specialists at the Paris regional office Sept. 26. The Paris office serves farm families and rural landowners in Clark, Coles, and Edgar Counties.

Morris was raised in Edgar County and graduated from Paris High School before receiving her bachelor’s degree in business management from Indiana State University. Prior to joining the Farm Credit team, Nugent worked for more than 12 years in human resources, most recently as an employee benefits relationships manager at USI Insurance in Terre Haute, Ind. for three years. Nugent resides in Paris with her husband Shawn and their children – Braylon (13) and Landon (11).

Tammy Schroeder

Schroeder was hired on full-time as a crop insurance service administrator in the crop insurance service division based in the financial cooperative’s central office in Mahomet Nov. 1. She was raised in Champaign County and graduated from Champaign Central High School before receiving her associate’s degree in travel and tourism from Parkland College.

Prior to joining the Farm Credit team, Schroeder worked for six years at TSI Commercial Floor Covering & Advanced Commercial Roofing, two years at COUNTRY Financial, and 20 years at Patton Lumber Company. Schroeder resides in Mahomet with her husband Marty and has three daughters – Stephanie Hale, Jessica Schulze, and Jennifer Zimmerman.

Ryan TallmanTallman began Oct. 26, as a vice president of lending to the Highland regional office. The Highland office serves farm families and rural landowners in Bond, Clinton, Madison, and Washington Counties.

Tallman was raised on his family’s Kankakee County grain farm and graduated from Normal Community West High School before receiving his bachelor’s degree in business administration from Southern Illinois University Edwardsville. Prior to joining the Farm Credit team, Tallman worked for more than 12 years as a credit underwriter and loan officer at The Bank of Edwardsville. Tallman resides in Pocahontas with his wife Amber with their two children – Amelia (6) and Molly (4).

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Farm Credit Illinois is a farmer-owned and directed agricultural lending cooperative serving 11,000 farm families, agribusinesses, and rural landowners in the southern 60 counties of Illinois with competitive and flexible financing and crop insurance expertise. The Association manages a $4.2 billion loan portfolio, sells 1.4 million acres of crop insurance coverage, and employs 220 staff based in the Mahomet central office and 14 regional office locations. The U.S. Farm Credit System supports rural communities, farm families, and agriculture with reliable, consistent credit and financial services today and tomorrow.

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FCI Joins Farm Credit Technology Cooperative: New Platform & Member Portals Debut August 2018

Farm Credit Illinois is becoming an owner of the Farm Credit Financial Partners, Inc., (FPI) technology organization based in Agawam, Mass. and Spokane, Wash. The other owners of FPI include AgCountry Farm Credit Services (serving parts of North Dakota, Minnesota, and Wisconsin), Farm Credit East (serving most of New York and New England), Farm Credit West (serving parts of California and Arizona), and Northwest Farm Credit Services (serving Washington, Oregon, Montana, Alaska, and part of Idaho).
 
The $10 million capital investment by FCI provides the opportunity to collaborate with four of the 10 largest Associations in owning the premier technology and financial services platform in the Farm Credit System. For more than 20 years, FPI has developed innovative Farm Credit solutions with a proven track record as a successful technology leader in the System.
 
“Joining FPI gives us access to a robust, secure, and tested platform which is continually evolving to incorporate the latest technology advancements,” says Tom Tracy, FCI President & CEO. “This collaboration demonstrates the important and valuable principle of cooperation among cooperatives.”
 
A strategic transition plan will continue until the final technology upgrade in August. At that point, FCI borrowers will have access to a new online banking portal and begin receiving newly formatted payment notices, statements, receipts, and loan summaries. Detailed information about these changes will be shared with member-borrowers in summer 2018.
 
“Like all strategic business decisions at FCI, the overriding consideration for selecting FPI as our cooperative’s new technology platform is tied directly to our core purpose. We are convinced FPI best positions FCI for Helping Farm Families Succeed today and tomorrow,” says Tracy.

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New Illinois Farm Bureau VP Brian Duncan Addresses Farm Broadcasters After Election

Newly elected Illinois Farm Bureau vice president Brian Duncan of Ogle County, addressed farm broadcasters at the conclusion of Tuesday's IFB annual meeting at the Palmer House in Chicago.

 

Here is audio of the news conference:

 

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Rich Guebert Addresses Farm Broadcasters After Re-Election as Illinois Farm Bureau President

Rich Guebert addressed farm broadcasters Tuesday morning after being re-elected as president of the Illinois Farm Bureau for a 2-year term.

 

Below is raw audio from Guebert's news conference:

 

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BREAKING NEWS: Brian Duncan of Ogle County Is the New Illinois Farm Bureau Vice President

Brian Duncan of Ogle County, is the new vice president of the Illinois Farm Bureau.  IFB delegates in Chicago elected Duncan at the conclusion of their meeting Tuesday morning.

 

More info to come.

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Comments from Mark Gebhards of Illinois Farm Bureau Government Relations at IFB Annual Meeting

Mark Gebhards, Director of Government Relations for Illinois Farm Bureau, spoke to reporters at the conclusion of the IFB Annual Meeting in Chicago Tuesday morning, about the various resolutions delegates acted on.  Raw audio of the news conference is below.

 

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BREAKING NEWS: Rich Guebert Re-Elected as President of Illinois Farm Bureau

Rich Guebert has been re-elected president of the Illinois Farm Bureau, at their annual meeting at the Palmer House in Chicago.  Guebert was re-elected for a 2-year term.

 

Guebert garnered nearly twice the votes as his opponent, Dave Erickson, who was the organization's vice president.  

 

More details to follow.

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Congressman Darin LaHood Speaks to 18th District Farmers at Illinois Farm Bureau Annual Meeting

18th District Congressman Darin LaHood spoke to some 75 farmers from his district, on Sunday morning at the Illinois Farm Bureau Annual Meeting.  He held a news conference after his meeting.  His comments are in the audio file below:

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Loyd Retires From Farm Credit After 33 Years

Mike Loyd is retiring from Farm Credit Illinois Nov. 30, after 33 years with the Farm Credit System. Loyd most recently served as vice president of marketplace initiatives based at the financial cooperative’s headquarters in Mahomet

 

Loyd spent his formative years on his family’s Williamson and Union County grain and livestock farms. Before joining the workforce, he received bachelor’s and master’s degrees in instructional systems design from Southern Illinois University Edwardsville. During his tenure, Loyd and the Association’s marketing team were recognized with the Classic Telly Award, several National Agri-Marketing Association awards, and the Farm Credit System’s 2007 marketing showcase award for the Farm Progress Show. He is a 31-year member of the National Association of Farm Broadcasters.

 

At the beginning of his Farm Credit career, Loyd worked at the Farm Credit Bank of St. Louis as the marketing supervisor and played a lead role in communicating the merger of the Farm Credit Banks of St. Louis and St. Paul that formed AgriBank in 1992. After two years consulting for AgriBank in St. Paul, Minn., Loyd transitioned to the marketing department for Farm Credit Services of Southeastern Illinois in Mt. Vernon, Ill., in 1995. When the Southeastern and Central Illinois Associations moved to joint management in 1999, Loyd provided communications leadership and was named the head of marketing department in the newly formed Association in 2001, which eventually became Farm Credit Illinois.

 

Loyd and his wife Candy reside in rural Mansfield. Mike has one daughter: Lindsey, two step-children: Carrie and Tyler, and three step-grandchildren: Logan, Finn, and Avery. The Farm Credit Illinois team is grateful for Loyd’s leadership and service to farm families and rural communities.

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Cash is King

Whether it’s operating a business or prioritizing your personal finances, liquidity and cash play a big role. In fact, there is an old saying that “cash is king.” But with the farm economic reset going into its fifth year, cash and working capital are increasingly difficult to maintain. Nevertheless, the efforts to preserve these additional lines of defense are critical. Why? Let’s examine some of the benefits of cash and strong working capital positions.

First, cash – or working capital – acts as a safety net if adversity strikes, creating issues with profit and cash flow. If current assets can be turned to cash without disrupting overall operations, you are more flexible – especially in marketing. More specifically, the bushels of stored grain or side pen of cattle can be marketed at a profitable point instead of at a time when cash is most needed to pay expenses, service debt, or payback operating loans.

 

How One Farmer Benefits from Liquidity

This summer, one young producer indicated he maintains enough working capital to cover up to 40 percent of his total expenses. This includes cash, inventory, receivables, and prepaid expenses minus obligations such as accounts payables, lines of credit, accrued expenses, and principal due within the next 12 months. This strong position allows him to negotiate input costs ranging from land rents to parts and supplies. By maintaining working capital, he is able to capitalize on cash discounts for seed, fertilizer, and feed for his diversified operation. These small discounts added up year after year and ultimately increased his bottom line by just more than 5 percent.

Working Capital Provides Independence

Another benefit of financial liquidity is the negotiation power on capital investments such as machinery, equipment, and land. This position offers two distinct advantages: self-financing and timing. When bargaining with a cash payment, a type of self-insurance is present because no borrowing or additional debt servicing is required.

Additionally, having the cash to make a purchase allows you to quickly and selectively capitalize on deals. For example, some used equipment and breeding livestock are being sold for 60 cents on the dollar for payments in cash, but only for a brief window.

Of course, I am familiar with the long-time argument that cash earns very little sitting in the bank. That is true, but the return on the cash discounts and negotiated deals – when analyzed properly – most often shows a double-digit return in the long-term viability of the business.

On the personal side of finances, I recommend preserving four to eight months (eight to 12 if self-employed) of family living obligations in cash. Of course, the old economic rule is to maintain two months of living expenses in cash. This provides for the unexpected car repair or trip to the emergency room and mitigates the need to rely on expensive credit card debt if adversity strikes.

Rules of Thumb

When analyzing your balance sheet, see if you are up to par on financial liquidity by dividing your cash into current assets. You are in a strong financial position if your ratio is between or more than 10 to 20 percent. If you are in the 5 to 10 percent range, caution is warranted as working capital reserves are getting too low. And if you are under 5 percent with credit card debt, accounts payable, or a looming operating line to pay down, you are in a vulnerable and unfavorable position.

Finally, building cash and financial liquidity often entails paying taxes. In many cases, cash or liquid assets are used as a down payment on equipment or other assets to minimize taxes, but over time this builds overhead costs. The prudent producer manages taxes instead of minimizing them. Good managers also balance taxes with cash on hand to navigate the inevitable swings and volatility in global markets.

While perhaps difficult, maintaining cash and operational working capital impacts the bottom line and strategic flexibility. Both the short and long-term advantages of cash negotiations can add to profitability and sustainability. Especially during periods of suppressed prices, increasing available options through flexible liquidity may be the one factor to tip the financial balance in your favor.

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WHOW Local Farm Broadcaster Wins Award At National Convention

Jared White, local farm broadcaster for WHOW THE BIG 1520 AM and 92.3 FM in Clinton, was given the “Excellence in Ag Reporting” Award Friday, at the National Association of Farm Broadcasting annual convention in Kansas City.

White was given the award for the most used story on the N-A-F-B News Service in 2017.  Farm broadcasters from around the country, share stories with each other on the News Service.

White was presented a certificate for his work.

White has been WHOW's local farm broadcaster since 2011, and has been with the station since 2007.

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Farm Credit Illinois Marketing Team Tour Miller Media Group Radio Stations

 

3 marketing officials from Farm Credit Illinois' corporate headquarters in Mahomet, toured the 2 Miller Media Group locations on Friday.

F-C-I Vice-President for Marketplace Initiatives Mike Loyd (3rd from left), along with Marketing Production and Design Specialist Margie Menacher (2nd from left), and Liz Harder, Marketing and Public Relations Director (4th from left), toured both the Clinton and Taylorville locations.

The tour began at the Big Red Barn south of Clinton, touring WHOW THE BIG 1520 AM/92.3 FM and its sister station WEZC 95.9 FM.  M-M-G president Randal J. Miller (left) gave some of the history of the Clinton stations, and station manager Jared White gave the F-C-I marketing team a tour of the facility. 

The tour then went south to the M-M-G Taylorville studios, where 6 radio stations, including NEWSTALK WTIM, operate.  Miller and General Sales Manager Chris Bullock gave the F-C-I team a tour of the Taylorville facility, including its broadcast studios.

Following the tour, Miller presented Loyd a plaque for his 30 years of service to the cooperative, and for his nearly 20 years of doing business with the Miller Media Group stations including NEWSTALK WTIM and WHOW.  Loyd is retiring from F-C-I in November.

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Changes to the Federal Reserve Board

FOMC Update

The federal funds rate remains unchanged following the Sept. 19-20 meeting of the Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC) of the Federal Reserve (Fed). The anticipated decision minimally impacted the market. The FOMC cited moderate growth in household spending, expanding business investment, and solid job growth as the primary drivers of current economic conditions. While the Fed recognized the recent property damage caused by the hurricanes, it doesn’t find the impact on the country likely to alter the course of the nation’s economy.

As described in the most recent edition of INTERESTing Times, the Fed voted to initiate a balance sheet normalization program in October. The bond markets will have more debt available for the investing public to purchase as the Fed reduces its holdings. With all other things equal, less demand by the Fed should lead to higher prices in the bond markets in the form of higher interest rates.

The next Fed meeting is Oct. 31-Nov. 1. The futures market currently projects a minimal chance of a rate hike at this meeting. However, a 76 percent chance of another quarter point rate hike is currently predicted at the December FOMC meeting.

Updated Economic Projections

The Federal Reserve Board released its quarterly economic projections at the September meeting. The only significant change from the June projections was the reduction in the long-run federal funds rate from 3.00% down to 2.80% (the long-run is defined as year-end 2019 and beyond). Today, the federal funds rate is 1.25%.

Upcoming Changes to the Federal Reserve Board

The Federal Reserve is governed by a seven-member board with a chair, vice-chair, and five additional members called governors. In addition to the governors, five rotating Federal Reserve District Presidents also vote on monetary policy decisions. There are currently three vacant governor seats and the vice-chair is vacating in mid-October. This will leave the Federal Reserve Board with only Chair Janet Yellen and Governors Laiel Branaird and Jerome Powell. These vacancies leave the important Fed policy decisions to a very small number of people. Plus, the chair is up for appointment in early 2018; if Chair Yellen is not re-appointed, it would be customary for her to step aside.

The president must nominate individuals to fill these vacancies and the Senate must hold confirmation hearings to approve the appointments. As a candidate, President Trump was critical of Chair Yellen and the Fed’s so-called, “easy money” policies. Since becoming president, his tone towards Fed policy and Chair Yellen has softened and he has indicated a willingness to consider re-appointing her to the position, although, it is unknown if she wants to continue.

With the current and potential vacancies, there is a lot of potential for substantial changes to the Federal Reserve Board and its membership as new board members are nominated and confirmed.

Will these changes lead to a more aggressive monetary policy tightening cycle, or will the new Fed governors retain the accommodative policy of the current Federal Reserve Board? If the new Federal Reserve Board of Governors decides to change Fed policy such as the 2.00% inflation target, how will those changes be perceived by the bond market? We do indeed live in INTERESTing times!

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Lake Land College Foundation Honors 2 Area Individuals, Entities at Annual Meeting

The Lake Land College Foundation recognized 2 area individuals and entities Tuesday night during their annual meeting, for their contributions in helping the college raise money for scholarships.

Former president of First National Bank of Pana, and a former member of the Lake Land College Foundation board, John Livesay, was honored with the Foundation's Outstanding Fund Raising Volunteer Award.  Livesay told Regional Radio News about the donation he was instrumental in obtaining for the college.

Livesay said the Borgic family donated farmland to the Lake Land College Foundation.

Farm Credit Illinois C-E-O Tom Tracy was also honored for their support to the Lake Land College agriculture program.   Tracy told Regional Radio News that F-C-I management talks to their members every summer, and have told them supporting ag education is a priority.

Tracy added Lake Land College is an important part of F-C-I's success.

Find out more on the Lake Land College Foundation by clicking the "Foundation" tab at lakelandcollege-dot-edu.
 

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Combine Reports with Dave Steward in DeWitt County

Combine Reports with Dave Steward in DeWitt County

 

 

 

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Combine Reports with David Brown in Macon County

Combine Reports with David Brown in Macon County

 

 

 

 

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Combine Reports with Aaron Shafer in Christian County

Combine Reports with Aaron Shafer in Christian County

 

 

 

 

 

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Combine Reports with Andy Bolsen in Moultrie County

Combine Reports with Andy Bolsen in Moultrie County

 

 

 

 

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Combine Reports with Doug Martin in Logan County

Combine Reports with Doug Martin in Logan County

 

 

 

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Combine Reports with David Dorn Jr. in Christian County

Combine Reports with David Dorn Jr. in Christian County

 

 

 

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Combine Reports with Jake Lieb in Piatt County

Combine Reports with Jake Lieb in Piatt County

 

 

 

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Combine Reports with Austin Rincker in Shelby County

Combine Reports with Austin Rincker in Shelby County

 

 

 

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Combine Reports with Alex Head in Macon County

Combine Reports with Alex Head in Macon County

 

 

 

 

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Combine Reports with Scott Durbin in Christian County

Combine Reports with Scott Durbin in Christian County

 

 

 

 

 

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Combine Reports with Elliott Burgett in Macon County

Combine Reports with Elliott Burgett in Macon County

 

 

 

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Combine Reports with Jeff Brown in Christian County

Combine Reports with Jeff Brown in Christian County

 

 

 

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Combine Reports with Ken Franklin in Christian County

Combine Reports with Ken Franklin in Christian County

 

 

 

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Combine Report with Ed Leonard Jr. In Macon County

Combine Report with Ed Leonard Jr. In Macon County

 

 

 

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Combine Reports with Jim Reed in Piatt County

Combine Reports with Jim Reed in Piatt County

 

 

 

 

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Combine Reports with Bryan Sharp in Christian County

Combine Reports with Bryan Sharp in Christian County

 

 

 

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Combine Reports With Marvin Finfrock III in DeWitt County

 

Combine Reports With Marvin Finfrock III in DeWitt County

 

 

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Macon County Ag Community Comes Together To Help Fellow Farmer

It may not be that unusual these days to see multiple combines in a field at harvest time, however to see multiple makes and models harvesting the same field together is a bit more rare.  NAFB Farm Broadcaster Jared White has more on why folks in western Macon County saw that Wednesday...

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Pictures from Thursday, August 31 at Farm Progress Show

 

 

 

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August 31 Farm Progress Show Interviews

Show wrap-up with Farm Progress National Shows Manager Matt Jungmann:

 

 

Illinois State Treasurer Michael Frerichs

 

 

Mark Davey, Market Manager, Gators, John Deere

 

 

Martin Lunkenbine, Camso

 

 

Matthew Madding, Marketing Manager, Combines, John Deere

 

 

Tiffany Turner, Product Marketing Manager, Large Tractors, John Deere

 

 

Tom Tracy, CEO, Farm Credit Illinois

 

 

Wesley Spurlock, President, National Corn Growers Association

 

 

 

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Day # 3 Begins at Farm Progress Show

Day # 3 is here!  Gates opened at 8 this morning, open til 4.

 

 

 

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More Interviews from Wednesday's Farm Progress Show

Andrew Mizell, Country Financial App

 

 

Dave Johnson, DuPont Crop :Protection/Herbicides

 

 

Eric Vanasdale, Country Financial on Drones

 

 

Jason Webster, Precision Planting

 

 

Marc Risinger, Pioneer Soybeans

 

 

Russ Sanders, Pioneer Plenish Soybeans

 

 

Steve Classen, Redball Hood Sprayers

 

 

Wesley Shupe, DuPont Crop Protection Agronomist

 

 

 

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illinoisfarmradio.com Local Farm Broadcaster Jared White Rides the Touchstone Energy Hot Air Balloon at Farm Progress Show

illinoisfarmradio.com Local Farm Broadcaster Jared White took what he described as a "once in a lifetime" ride in the Touchstone Energy Hot Air Balloon, at the Farm Progress Show late Wednesday afternoon.  Jared took these pictures high above Decatur.

 

Jared did his first-ever interview in a hot air balloon, with John Petrin, who is a world-champion hot air balloon pilot:

 

 

Special thanks to Kevin Bernson of Shelby Electric Cooperative, for making the arrangements for Jared's ride.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Looks like he had fun!!!!

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Country Artist Easton Corbin Performs to Large Crowd at Farm Progress Show

 

Country music artist Easton Corbin performed for Farm Progress Show attendees in a late Wednesday afternoon concert sponsored by Ram Trucks.  The concert was free, and took place in Ram's Ride and Drive area just north of Progress City.

 

 

Weather was ideal, and a big crowd greeted Corbin's performance.

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More Pictures From Wednesday, August 30 Farm Progress Show

 

 

Raymond Poe, Illinois Department of Agriculture Director

 

 

The much-talked-about "Tribine" combine and auger cart in one.

 

 

GSI grain bin exhibit.

 

 

Kinze grain cart on tracks.

 

 

Kinze prototype planter.

 

 

New Case IH building.

 

 

Case IH Steiger CVX Drive tractor.

 

 

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More Interviews from Wednesday, August 30 Farm Progress Show

Amy Braun, Midwest Row Crop Collaborative

 

 

Cory Reed, Case IH Maxim Tractors

 

 

Jonathan Waits, GSI

 

 

Mark Gryp, Kinze

 

 

Mitch Kaiser, Case IH Steiger Tractors

 

 

Ron Kindred, Logan County Farmer and Illinois Soybean Association representative

 

 

Sam Funk, RaboAgriFinance

 

 

Tom Dean, Case IH New Building

 

 

Victor Akita, RaboAgriFinance Brazil

 

 

 

 

 

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Huge Crowds on Day 2 of the Farm Progress Show

 

Huge crowds and great weather are the perfect combination for day 2 of the 
Farm Progress Show in Decatur, Illinois.

 

 

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Fireworks Open Day 2 of Farm Progress Show

 

Even though you couldn't see them, you could hear them to signal the opening of the gates for day 2 of the Farm Progress Show!  

 

They were shot off from the Eastern Exhibitor parking lot.  Lots of smoke!

 

 

 

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Senator Chapin Rose Visits the illinoisfarmradio.com Booth

Senator Chapin Rose visited the illinoisfarmradio.com booth this morning, to talk about a new Bio initiative for Central Illinois, that could mean jobs for the state, and another market for Illinois farmers' corn and soybeans.

 

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The Sun is UP for Day # 2 of the Farm Progress Show!

The sun is UP for day # 2 of the Farm Progress Show!!!

 

 

 

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More Interviews from Tuesday, August 29 Farm Progress Show

Ben Hortenstine, Ramsey Farmer on Enlist

 

 

Dan Valen, New Holland

 

 

Kevin Bernson, Shelby Electric Cooperative

 

 

Lauren Lurkins, IFB on NLRS

 

 

Melissa Bell, Mycogen Seed Agronomist

 

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Stop by the Beck's Hybrids Exhibit during the illinoisfarmradio.com Extended Noon Farm Show!

Beck's Hybrids is again our title sponsor for our over 30 hours of LIVE coverage from this year's Farm Progress Show!

illinoisfarmradio.com is originating an Expanded Noon Farm Show during the Farm Progress Show August 29, 30, and 31, from the Beck's Hybrids exhibit.  Stop by and see local farm broadcaster Jared White in action, visiting with many Beck's Hybrids representatives at the booth, from 12:20 til 1pm each day.

 

 

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Farm Progress Show Is Officially Open!!!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Interviews done on Tuesday, August 29:

 

Gabe Brown, Conservation Presenter

 

 

Jen Filipiak, American Farmland Trust

 

 

Kevin Covey, Equipment Technologies Sprayers

 

 

Lance Tarchione, Dekalb Asgrow Agronomist

 

 

Luke Samuel, Climate Corporation

 

 

Richard Lyons, Montgomery County Farmer on Conservation

 

 

Shannon Schultz, Stone Seed

 

 

Ty Witten, Monsanto Extend Dicamba

 

 

Susan Moore, IAA Foundation

 

 

Warren Goetsch, Illinois Department of Agriculture Deputy Director

 

 

 

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Farm Progress Show Day Before Pictures and Interviews August 28

 

Local farm broadcaster Jared White (left) interviewing Farm Progress National Shows Manager Matt Jungeman (right) on Monday, August 28, the day before the show starts.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Interviews done August 28:

 

Andy Thompson, Yetter:

 

 

Anson Boch, Salford:

 


Aron Ballinger, Agco:

 

 

Ben Dillon, TriBine:

 

 

Brad Cox, Precision Planting:

 

 

Dustin Bolic, Drago Corn Heads:

 

 

Greg Souder, 360 Yield Center:

 

 

Harold Lovin, Beck's Hybrids:

 

 

Rachelle Thaibert, John Deere:

 

 

Todd Condit, Great Lakes Hybrids:

 

 

Tricia Braid, Illinois Corn Marketing Board:

 

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Farm Progress Show Set-Up and Pre-Show Interviews on illinoisfarmradio.com

Local farm broadcaster Jared White (left) interviewing Farm Progress National Shows Manager Matt Jungeman (right) at Media Day August 23.

 

 

Our broadcast position inside the BASF Media Tent on the east side of Progress City.  Our home for over 30 hours of LIVE coverage!

 

 

 

 

 

Scott Beck, Beck's Hybrids (interview done at the Beck's Field Day)

 

 

Interviews done Friday, August 25:

 

Danny Himes--LG Seeds:

 

 

David Brix, Host Farmer:

 

 

Mark Pomeranz, Case IH:

 

 

Mark Loyd, Farm Credit Illinois:

 


Rebecca Gunderson, New Holland:

 

 

Tim McMahon, AWI:

 

 

Wes Henne, Great Plains:

 

 

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US Ag Secretary Perdue Visits Central Illinois Monday

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

As part of a five-state RV tour, titled the "Back To Our Roots" Tour, U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue stopped in rural Sangamon County Monday.  NAFB Farm Broadcaster Jared White has more...

 

 

 

 

Sect. Perdue & IFB President Rich Guebert

 

 

Sect. Perdue & IL Ag Director Raymond Poe

 

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Monsanto Posts Open Letter On Dicamba Issues

Monsanto Cheif Technology Office Rob Fraley today posted an open letter to Monsanto customers addressing dicamba herbicide related issues in conjunction with the company's RoundUp Ready 2 Xtend soybeans.  The letter can be viewed by clicking the link below:

 

https://monsanto.com/products/product-stewardship/articles/to-our-farmer-customers/

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RECORD HARVEST LEVELS NOT LIKELY THIS YEAR

Crop condition ratings for corn and soybeans are below year-ago levels, as recorded in the USDA’s latest crop conditions report this week. American Farm Bureau Federation market intelligence director John Newton says this year has been a challenge for growers, with excessive moisture and planting delays this spring, and drought conditions in parts of the upper Midwest…
 
                    
 
Newton says the upcoming crop production report next week could provide better market direction heading into harvest season…
 
              
 
Newton says more data is available regarding yield expectations on the Farm Bureau Market Intel webpage…
 
                   
 
That information can be found at FB dot org forward slash market intel (www.FB.org/marketintel).

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Brazil, U.S., Set for Corn Selling Showdown

The world’s two biggest corn exporters are preparing for a showdown, according to Bloomberg. The United States and Brazil are set to square off in competition this growing season over corn exports as Brazil is in the middle of collecting the nation’s biggest corn harvest ever, and U.S. supplies remain plentiful from last years’ record harvest. Bloomberg says those conditions set the stage for a stiff battle to win world buyers in the second half of this year. Japan and Mexico are expected to be the biggest corn importers this season. Brazil’s corn production in the 2016-17 season is forecast to surge 45 percent from a year ago to a record 97 million metric tons, according to U.S. Department of Agriculture. The agency estimates that the 2016 U.S. harvest reached an all-time high and that the crop gathered this fall will be the second-bigger ever, but that could change with dwindling crop conditions. Brazil shipments of corn traditionally surge this time of year, during harvest. Meanwhile, U.S. corn shippers are seeing slow bookings for the coming marketing year. Still, experts in the U.S. say the nation is expected to remain the world’s top supplier.

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Farmers Indicate Higher Outlook on Farm Economy

Farmers surveyed as part of the Purdue/CME Group Ag Economy Barometer indicated more optimism in July because of better commodity prices expectations this fall. The monthly survey for July reached 139, its highest level since January 2017, and its second-highest level since data collection began in October 2015. The increase continues a trend seen over the summer of more optimism regarding the future of the agriculture economy. The forward-looking measure of sentiment, the Index of Future Expectations, climbed seven points in July to 138. A measure above 100 indicates optimism, while a measure below 100 indicates pessimism regarding the farm economy. In July, farmers were asked if they expect to see higher, lower, or about the same grain, oilseed and cotton prices in the next 12 months. Many indicated they expected to see higher commodity prices through the next year. The improvement in producers’ expectations for commodity prices corresponded with early summer market activity. Wheat futures prices, driven by drought conditions in the Northern Great Plains, have been the most active, but uncertainty about the corn and soybean growing seasons has also contributed to market volatility.

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Conaway: Farm Bill Work to Begin in Eight Weeks

House Agriculture Committee Chairman Mike Conaway says work on the 2018 Farm Bill will start within the next eight weeks. Speaking during a farm bill listening session in his home state of Texas, Conaway told attendees that he wants to get the next farm bill on the House floor this year, according to the Hagstrom Report. After three hours of listening to farm leaders, Conaway added he wants the bill on the House floor this year because he disliked the turmoil of extensions. The 2014 Farm Bill expires on September 30, 2018. Conaway also noted that Senate Agriculture Committee Chairman Pat Roberts of Kansas said last week that he also would like to write the farm bill in 2017. His comments come as the House Agriculture Committee holds two listening sessions this week. The second is planned during the Minnesota Farmfest in Redwood Falls, Minnesota, Thursday.

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Congress Reverses Waterway Cuts But Doesn't Provide Funding

House and Senate appropriators have reversed the president’s proposed cuts to Army Corps inland waterways funding, but still provide no money to modernize critical locks on the Upper Mississippi and Illinois Rivers.
 
The good news is a reversal of a 17 percent cut the White House proposed to the Army Corps' civil works budget, and full-use of Inland Waterways Trust Fund annual revenues, boosted by higher barge diesel taxes.
 
Waterways Council Senior Vice-President Debra Calhoun says the downside is a continued lack of planning and design money for the Navigation and Ecosystem Sustainability Program...
            
 
Calhoun says the Upper Miss and Illinois River locks modernization is part of the Army Corps’ priority projects list, and the Trump Administration wants to speed up NESP work from a scheduled 25 years, to 10 years. But Calhoun says there’s a political problem…
 
                   
 
Calhoun argues the Upper Mississippi locks have far outlived their 50-year design-life. Many were built in the 1930s and cannot accommodate longer modern barges that need to be separated to get through the ancient locks.
 
Congress authorized modern new locks on the Upper Miss and Illinois Rivers in 2007, but actual funding was never provided.

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Class Action Lawsuit Aimed at Monsanto Over Dicamba Spraying

A lawsuit filed last week accuses Monsanto sales representatives of secretly giving farmers assurances of using “off label” methods for a dicamba herbicide formulation. The St Louis Post-Dispatch reports the lawsuit claims: “This was Monsanto’s real plan: publicly appear as if it were complying, while allowing its seed representatives to tell farmers the opposite in person.” A Tennessee weed management expert, Larry Steckel, says in the suit that “it’s almost impossible” to follow label directions for dicamba-based herbicides, given the recent changes that have surfaced over drift allegations. Formulations were changed to dicamba-based herbicides following an outbreak of drift incidents last year to reduce volatility and drift. However, those changes have not seemed to slow reports of drifts problems in 2017. The suit says the defendants “actually benefit” from rampant drift, because it pressures farmers to adopt dicamba-tolerant seed to avoid damage. Monsanto and BASF indicated to the Post-Dispatch that they were aware of the suit but declined to comment on specific allegations. Both companies cited their efforts to educate growers about correct application of dicamba.

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USDA Rural Development Lead Comments on Priorities

The Department of Agriculture’s rural development lead says USDA is seeking to create an environment where rural America can prosper.
 
Ann Hazlett oversees the Rural Utilities Service, the Rural Business Service, and the Rural Housing Service. She was appointed to the newly created position of Assistant to the Secretary for Rural Development last month.
 
The appointment is part of a restructuring plan that eliminates the undersecretary position for rural development, a plan that’s met some opposition. USDA says the move allows for an increased emphasis on Rural Development that’s needed in the face of economic difficulties in rural communities.
 
An Indiana native, Hazlett has worked on agriculture and rural issues for more than fifteen years. She says there are many challenges in rural America that USDA will examine…
 
                               
 
Another priority for rural development is delivering broadband internet to rural areas, which USDA considers a necessity…
 
                                  
 
Hazlett is a graduate of Kansas State University and before her role at USDA served as Chief Counsel to the majority on the Senate Agriculture Committee. By removing the undersecretary position and putting rural programs under an appointed position, Hazlett was able to start work immediately at USDA.
 
Other divisions of USDA that are overseen by an undersecretary are awaiting new leadership. Currrent American Soybean Association CEO Stephen Censky was nominated by President Trump to serve as the USDA deputy secretary. President Trump has also nominated Ted McKinney for Under Secretary for Trade and Foreign Agricultural Affairs and Sam Clovis for Under Secretary for Research, Education and Economics.

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McKinney, Clovis, Officially Nominated for USDA Posts

President Donald Trump has nominated Ted McKinney for Under Secretary for Trade and Foreign Agricultural Affairs and Dr. Sam Clovis for Under Secretary for Research, Education and Economics. Both have long been rumored to take top seats at the Department of Agriculture for months. McKinney currently serves as the director of the Indiana State Department of Agriculture and Clovis was a Trump Campaign advisor before serving on the USDA transition team. Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue said McKinney and Clovis would both be assets to the department. Meanwhile, the White House this week also sent to the Senate Agriculture Committee its notice of intent to nominate Stephen Censky for USDA deputy secretary, paving the way for a Senate vote on the nomination.

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First Round of NAFTA Talks Scheduled

As expected, U.S. trade officials confirmed this week that North American Free Trade Agreement renegotiations would begin August 16th, the first day allowed by U.S. law. The office of U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer announced this week that the talks would kick off in Washington, D.C. on August 16th, and the initial rounds of negotiations are scheduled to wrap up on Sunday, August 20th. Earlier this week, the White House released its goals for NAFTA, which includes maintaining duty-free status on agricultural exports to Mexico and Canada. The 18-page Summary of Objectives also includes the need to eliminate non-tariff barriers to U.S. agricultural exports. The new plan stresses the administration's goal of updating and strengthening the rules of origin laws. However, it doesn't ask for a reinstatement of Country of Origin Labeling on beef and pork imports from Mexico and Canada.

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Grassley: Time For Tax Reform

A longtime respected Ag Senator says it’s time to move on from healthcare to tax reform.
 
The latest failure of Senate Republicans to come together on repealing and replacing Obamacare is putting pressure on the GOP to cut its losses and move onto to other big-ticket items.
 
And the wheels are already in motion to advance tax legislation, including reforms key for farmers: lower capital gains taxes, an end to the estate tax, single-year equipment expensing, and cash accounting.
 
Senate Judiciary Chair and longtime Ag member Chuck Grassley had this, when asked if it’s time to ‘turn the page’…
 
            
 
 Former Finance Chair Grassley says a full-pivot from healthcare to tax reform will happen…and the ‘seeds’ for doing that, including legislative vehicles to move a tax bill, are being planted...
 
    
 
Grassley says that doesn’t guarantee that one of agriculture’s biggest priorities, tax reform, will get done by Christmas…quickly adding, he’s seen more White House input on tax changes than in 30-years, including on two reform bills he helped pass as Finance chair.

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Atypical BSE Case Discovered in Alabama

An atypical case of Bovine Spongiform Encephalopathy (BSE) was found Tuesday in an 11-year old cow in Alabama. The USDA’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) says the animal never entered the slaughter process and was no danger to the food supply or to human health. APHIS has determined that the cow was positive for atypical BSE, a kind typically found in cows at least eight years old. It’s different from the more well-known classical BSE that was found in the United Kingdom back in the late 1980s. The most common source of classical BSE is typically contaminated feed. The cow showed signs of the disease when it was discovered via routine surveillance in a livestock market. Barry Carpenter, CEO of the North American Meat Institute, says the fact that the animal was found before it entered a processing plant should reassure Americans that the U.S. animal health surveillance system and safety protocols are working to protect the public’s health. Carpenter says, “The U.S. surveillance system for sampling and testing cattle far exceeds recommended international standards.”

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Senate Ag Chair Looks To Crackdown On Fraudulent Organic Imports

Ag Chair Pat Roberts says he knew a year before a media report that the Department of Agriculture’s Organic Program was not intercepting fraudulent imports of organic food. Roberts may now be ready to seek a fix in the next farm bill. He says the Washington Post reported recently that millions of pounds of shipments of possibly fraudulent “organic” products were imported into the US.
 
But that was not news to the Senate Ag chairman…
 
                      
 
Roberts told a farm bill hearing last week that lawmakers need to ensure that "overregulation and antiquated government processes" are not keeping farmers from succeeding in tough economic times…
 
        
 
Roberts says the Board is not keeping up with the huge growth and new technology in the organic market, while an influx of fraudulent “organic” corn and soybean imports meantime, is cutting into domestic producer profits.
 
Kenneth Dallmier operates the Clarkson Grain Company, based in Cerro Gordo, and he told the Senate Ag Committee the threat is huge…
 
                              
 
USDA recently decertified two of three firms involved in fraudulent shipments, while three key Senate Democrats have asked USDA’s inspector general to boost enforcement of organic import standards.
 
Dallmier recommended the Ag Committee consider adding staff at vulnerable ports, imposing tougher enforcement on shippers and recall requirements for end-users, and use of electronic farm- to-customer tracking devices that have less tampering risk than paper documentation.

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Current Farm Downturn Not Likely to Reach 1980’s Crisis

A report by a Farm Credit Administration economist told the Administration’s board members last week that the current downturn in the farm economy is not likely to reach a 1980s-style crisis. Farm Credit chief economist Stephen Gabriel said the “likelihood of this is very low,” adding that a confluence of adverse factors led to the crisis that occurred in the 1980s. He says it would take a similar combination of adverse developments to create another crisis in the farm economy. While the two periods are similar in some respects, Gabriel points out that interest rates were very high in the 1980s, and today’s interest rates are historically low. The price of oil is another major difference, according to his report. In 1979 and 1980, the price surged, while today it is declining. Also, the general economy is in better shape today than it was in the 1980s. The country experienced two recessions during the 1980s' crisis whereas today we're in an "extended, if lackluster, economic expansion," according to Gabriel.

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EPA To Hold RFS Hearing Next Month

The Environmental Protection Agency will hold a public hearing on its Renewable Fuel Standard volume obligations August first. The hearing, to be held in Washington, D.C., will take public comment on the 2018 renewable volume obligations, along with the 2019 RVO for biomass-based diesel, according to Ethanol Producer magazine. The agency released a prepublication version of the proposed rule earlier this month. The proposal calls for approximately 19.24 billion gallons of renewable fuels to be blended into the national fuel supply next year, including 238 million gallons of cellulosic biofuel, 2.1 billion gallons of biomass-based diesel, and 4.24 billion gallons of advanced biofuel. For 2019, the new proposal calls for the biomass-based diesel RVO to be maintained at 2.1 billion gallons. In a notice posted to its website, the EPA said the hearing aims to provide interested parties the opportunity to present data, views, or arguments concerning the proposal. The agency may ask clarifying questions during the hearing, but will not respond to presentations at that time.

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Weekly Market Commentary with Matt Bennett

Matt Bennett Commentary - 7-17-17

 

 

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ILFB Ag Industry Tour Of Canada - Interviews With Central IL Attendees

47 Illinois Farm Bureau Young Leaders toured Canada this week as part of an Ag Industry Tour through the IFB.  Local Farm Broadcaster Jared White had a chance to talk with the following attendees from central Illinois....

 

Kim May - Christian County

 

 

John Klemm - DeWitt County

 

 

Andy Lawhead - Piatt County

 

 

Tucker Muse - Piatt County

 

 

Alec Huisinga - Piatt County

 

 

These interviews will be featured in upcoming editions of our local Farm Shows on WHOW & WTIM, as well as in special reports all next week on WHOW.

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