Deep in the heart of the U.S. grain belt, farm-equipment auctions are attracting bidders from as far away as South Africa as the agriculture rout makes used machinery more attractive. As farmers move away from buying new tractors and combines, it could mean more pain for Deere & Co., the world’s biggest agricultural equipment manufacturer, which is already struggling through an industrywide glut. To understand why, look no further than Matt Maring, owner of an eponymous Kenyon, Minn.-based auction operation. Buyers are driving more than 400 miles to attend his auctions, and online simulcasts are drawing participants from around the globe, boosting the bidding field, said Maring, who’s been an auctioneer for 36 years. Farmers are spending $50,000 on replacement tractors that would otherwise cost more than $100,000 new from Deere, he said. As a global grain glut is poised to reduce U.S. farmer incomes for a third straight year, growers are tightening their pocket books and increasingly turning to used machinery to trim spending. Adding to the picture, credit conditions have eroded and made it tougher to get a loan for new equipment. For Moline, Ill.-based Deere, farmers turning away from its dealerships could further pressure profits and underscores why Moody’s Investors Service downgraded this week its outlook on the company’s credit rating to negative from stable.
Agricultural leaders have established a not-for-profit Illinois Fairgrounds Foundation to catch up on nearly $200 million in needed maintenance. Combined, the fairgrounds have $180 million in overdue maintenance. The grounds in Springfield have 170 buildings - the oldest 124 years - on 360 acres. The oldest among 20 buildings at DuQuoin - which has 1,200 acres - is 93 years.
A stronger, unified governance body to oversee Pennsylvania's more than $1 billion equine racing industry began its work to strengthen horse and harness racing. The new State Horse Racing Commission now has two meetings under its belt. Governor Tom Wolf paved the way for the new commission and other needed reforms to the industry earlier this year when he signed Act 7. The law represents the first significant industry reforms in three decades — a period over which time the nature and breadth of racing in Pennsylvania changed dramatically, bringing with it new challenges and new opportunities. The new commission puts the oversight of Thoroughbred and Standardbred racing under one body, rather than the two separate commissions that existed previously for each breed.
Every farmer should ask if their biosecurity plan is strong enough. The most important part of any biosecurity plan is having the right attitude, according to Dr. Gregory Martin, educator and extension specialist at Pennsylvania State University Cooperative Extension. Having all the correct precautions in place doesn't do any good if workers and managers don’t follow the rules. Martin said operations should focus on establishing three disease barriers on their farm: a physical barrier, keeping disease and its vectors from making contact with the animals; a chemical barrier, killing the disease whenever possible by way of sanitation; and a logical barrier, ensuring farmers establish the correct management processes to minimize disease risk.
floodwaters continued to shift, causing fresh misery for Louisianans and state officials trying to get a handle on a lengthening list of concerns. “Flooding has no discretion as it affects everyone in all aspects,” says Mike Strain, Louisiana Agriculture and Forestry (LDAF) Commissioner. “I’m very proud of the team – the LDAF, the governor’s office, Homeland Security, everyone working together. We’re trying to stay abreast and keep up with the moving problems. As everyone knows by now, this is a record flood event. By now, says Strain, “more than 20,000 – perhaps more than 30,000 – homes have been affected. In Livingston Parish, 70 percent of all homes have been affected. Seventy to 80 percent of homes in Denham Springs have been, as well. This is very widespread with more than 8,000 people in shelters.” One of the major issues Strain and colleagues face is leapfrogging assets due to the moving floodwaters. “Now, we’re worried about parishes around Iberville, Ascension Parish and into Lafayette Parish. That has required great cooperation between agencies and private individuals.”
Deere & Co. plans to cut additional production of its trademark green tractors and harvesting combines this fall in response to the continued downturn in the global farm economy.The world’s largest maker of farm equipment by sales said the cuts will affect plants in Illinois and Iowa, blaming weak demand in North America and markets in Europe and South America for the moves.Falling crop prices have hit farmer incomes and made them more reluctant to buy new machinery, while Deere and its rivals face a glut of used equipment from a near decadelong sales boom that ended three years ago.
Let’s revisit a column I wrote earlier this month about Douglas and Kathleen Redhead. They’re the Des Moines couple who stopped paddling their canoe on the the Racoon River because of hteir concern about nitrates. I see those stacked paragraphs as flawed. The Redheads’ fear about nitrates was legitimate insofar as it is how they actually feel about the river. Where I let you down, dear readers, is not articulating the scientific perspective that could have assuaged the Redheads' worries and eased the general public’s fears.“There are a lot of people upset about the article you wrote concerning the couple who stopped canoeing because of nitrates,” Tyler wrote. People in both his office and in the Iowa ag science community were “extremely frustrated about this article promulgating hysterical and mythical claims about health issues and nitrates.” Tyler is also the kind of guy who would properly use the word “promulgating” in a sentence. Schneiders said there is great confusion in the public about nitrates, but the bottom line is that high nitrate levels are a problem in drinking water for infants 6 months and younger and pregnant women. There are no EPA warnings about adults drinking water with high levels of nitrates. None. Zero. And skin and incidental contact is of no concern either. Richmond said the ongoing debate is whether nutrient strategy — which would include nitrates — should be voluntary or a matter of government regulation.
It seems that HSUS has sent a letter to many CEOs of broiler companies with language noting their victories with layers and swine as well as their intent to now focus on the broiler industry. While I am not surprised at the attitude, I am somewhat flummoxed by their sending such an obvious threat. I agree that they have won some major victories. In the case of cage-free at the expense of the animals but nevertheless, the change is now a fact. The swine issue with gestation stalls is also now a fact. So what do they have in mind for broilers? I took a look at their white paper on the topic.
Survey Results at a Glance: • For an 11th straight month, the Rural Mainstreet Index fell below growth neutral. • Farmland prices remained below growth neutral for the 32nd straight month. • Bank CEOs reported a 6 percent decline in farmland prices over the past year. Bankers expect cash expenses will exceed cash revenues for one in five crop farmers in the region. • Bank CEOs expect farm loan defaults to grow by 5.4 percent over the next year.
They may be neither fish nor fowl, but as far as the United States government is concerned, honeybees are livestock. Which means as of the first of the year, beekeepers — including the roughly 1,200 in Maine — will no longer have access to certain over-the-counter antibiotics used to treat the condition known as European foulbrood, and are going to need prescriptions for the drug from a licensed veterinarian. European Foulbrood is a bacterial disease that affects honeybee larvae before the capped stage and is characterized by dead and dying larvae in the hive. “Thanks to a pending [Federal Drug Administration] policy and rule change, veterinarians will need to be involved,” according to Dr. Don Hoenig, former state veterinarian and beekeeper. “This is a major policy shift.”