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IALP Washington trip in review

[APRIL 5, 2001]   WASHINGTON — Phil Donahoe didn’t hesitate when Assistant U.S. Trade Representative for Agricultural Affairs James M. Murphy asked the Illinois Agricultural Leadership Program (IALP) Class of 2002 how the next farm bill should be constructed. The LaFox, Ill., farmer suggested America’s top trade negotiators consider shifting some monetary supports toward infrastructure improvements rather than focusing so much on direct payments to farmers.

Participating in such exchanges was commonplace throughout the recent Illinois Agricultural Leadership Program (IALP) National Travel seminar to Washington, D.C., Maryland and New York. The 10-day study experience brought IALP class members in contact with a cross section of government officials, agriculture industry executives, financial leaders, farmers and watermen along the East Coast. Lincoln resident Marty Ahrends participated in the seminar.

In addition to briefings from the U.S. trade representative, participants visited with officials from the departments of agriculture, energy and state, as well as the Environmental Protection Agency. A panel discussion with attorneys from the Department of Justice and the Federal Trade Commission sparked an interesting dialogue on past and present agriculture acquisitions and mergers.


Personal visits with Speaker Dennis Hastert, R-Ill., Sens. Richard Durbin, D-Ill., and Peter Fitzgerald, R-Ill., Rep. Charlie Stenholm, D-Texas, ranking minority member of the House Agriculture Committee, and Edward M. Gramlich, governor of the Federal Reserve Bank, put class participants in direct contact with the people who actually make policy.

IALP class members traveled from Washington to Maryland for two days of study on the poultry and fishing industries along with initiatives and programs relating to smart growth, water quality and agriculture nutrient regulations.

"The most shocking thing is that many of the environmental problems and potential regulations we only talk about in the Midwest are real and foremost in the Chesapeake Bay area," said Matt Hughes, IALP participant and farmer from Shirley, Ill.


While in Maryland, IALP class members were hosted by Perdue Farms and felt honored to meet with company patriarch and former chairman Frank Perdue. His son, Jim Perdue, represents the third generation in the family to head the company. The class toured a broiler operation and Perdue’s grain and oilseed division that processes 3.7 million tons of poultry feed annually. Perdue’s marketing and environmental directors shared their emphasis on future markets and the environmental awareness issues surrounding animal feeding operations. Gary Baise, Illinois Agricultural Leadership Foundation board member and a Washington, D.C., attorney, joined the class on the Perdue tour and reminded the class of the environmental lobby’s strength in waging lawsuits against agriculture.


[to top of second column in this article]

From Maryland the class traveled to New York, taking in a Broadway musical before devoting a day to studying the financial markets. Farm Credit Funding Corporation hosted the class with tours of the New York Mercantile Exchange and the New York Stock Exchange. Jim Brickley, president and chief executive officer of the Farm Credit Funding Corp., provided an overview of the vital role their institutions have in fulfilling the financial needs of production agriculture operations and agribusinesses.

Senior analysts from Merrill Lynch and Moody’s Investor Services provided background on the structure of financial markets and budgets during a time of market unrest and declining interest rates.

"Receiving the budget projections from Merrill Lynch comparing the Bush administration, the congressional budget office and Merrill Lynch was very helpful in comprehending the many variables that affect budget projections," said Steve Arnold, Kane County Farm Bureau manager and IALP participant. "It gave me a greater understanding of how monies are accounted for in the federal budget."


The seminar concluded with a tour and briefing at the United Nations, where Daniel Martz, manager of planning and programs for Philip Morris Management Corp., discussed world trade and global warming issues.

For more information about the IALP Class of 2002’s National Travel seminar, visit www.agleadership.org to view the diary compiled by the class during the seminar.

[News release]

Local woman attends ag seminar
on information technology

[APRIL 2, 2001]   Developing informed and confident spokespeople for agriculture was the focus of the Illinois Agricultural Leadership Program’s (IALP) recent "Information Technology" seminar.   Lincoln resident Marty Ahrends, an active member of IALP, participated in this seminar.

A highlight for the IALP class of 2002 was participating in mock interviews with WGN radio broadcaster Orion Samuelson, who also serves as vice chairman of the Illinois Agricultural Leadership Foundation.

"It was helpful to get feedback from Orion as to what aspects of my interview skills I need to hone," said Matt Foes, an IALP participant from Rockford, who is agronomic systems manager for Monsanto Company.

During the interview session, class members benefited from a panel of Illinois agriculture organization volunteer leadership and staff members discussing leadership opportunities and current issues in their respective organizations. Agriculture groups represented on the panel included Illinois Beef Association, Illinois Pork Producers Association, Illinois Soybean Association/Checkoff Board, Illinois Corn Marketing Board/Growers Association, Grain & Feed Association of Illinois, Illinois Farm Bureau, and the Illinois Fertilizer & Chemical Association.

The seminar continued with more in-depth media relations training provided by the public relations firm Morgan & Myers. Class members reviewed media video clips, learning how to formulate key talking points and receiving other helpful tips about dealing with the interviewer and connecting to an audience.


Besides acquiring knowledge of how to interview, participants heard how their message could be technically delivered in the future. Jeff Scherb, senior vice president and chief technology officer for the Tribune Company, described various information technology devices and their future applications.


[to top of second column in this article]

"[Televisions] are going to be an interactive device in 10 years," Scherb predicted. "Just because it sounds like it doesn’t make sense today, it doesn’t mean it’s not a possibility."

Not only did the IALP class catch a glimpse of the future, they also received background on why the media functions as it does from Dr. Paul Green, director and professor of public administration at Roosevelt University. Green attributed the changing face of politics to cable television, not the Internet.

The Internet is, however, changing the face of agriculture, as class members heard from Victor Wright, director of business development for animal health at DirectAg.com, and Scott Deeter, president and chief executive of CyberCrop.com. Wright and Deeter spoke on the future of ag e-commerce in purchasing and marketing decisions.

Concluding the seminar was a panel discussion on diversity awareness, in a continuing personal development curriculum series. Race relations, gender equality and dealing with disabilities were the topics covered with Kenneth Gunn, managing deputy commissioner for the Commission of Human Relations for the city of Chicago; Marbella Marsh, statewide program coordinator for the Hispanic Outreach Rehabilitation Project with the Illinois Assistive Technology Program; and Hedy Ratner, co-president of the Women’s Business Development Center.

For more information about the IALP, contact the Illinois Agricultural Leadership Foundation by phone at (309) 837-7711 or visit www.agleadership.org.

[News release]


Logan County Ag Day Breakfast

‘Emerging Markets’

[MARCH 23, 2001]   As an agriculturally rich land, Logan County has much to celebrate in this week recognized as National Agriculture Week. Just before setting their hand to the new season, farmers enjoyed an opportunity to gather and look ahead to new opportunities. The Lincoln/Logan County Chamber of Commerce Ag Committee sponsored the second annual Ag Day Breakfast on Wednesday morning at the Knights of Columbus.

Don Ludwig of Elkhart Grain welcomed the crowd of farmers, future farmers, businesses and agencies affiliated with farming. Mount Pulaski area farmer Dave Opperman provided an invocation. Joyce Leesman, marketing coordinator for Central Illinois Ag introduced the new agriculture scholarship recipients.


The keynote speaker for the morning was Mike Adams, farm director at radio station WLDS-AM 1180 in Jacksonville. Adams spoke in a lively manner on the current hot topic "Emerging Markets." Having traveled the world extensively and observing cultures around the world from an agricultural perspective, he wove cultural, political and agricultural facts together.

Opening with the statement, "What we grow here in Illinois will end up all around the world," Adams went on to say: "Populations are exploding around the world. There are more mouths to feed. Their customs are different and foods are different from ours. They have established customs that they do not want to change. That means we’ve gotta get to know the needs of their people."

While in Rome some years ago he met the pope. Not being a Catholic, he was still struck by the pope for his agricultural savvy. What the pope said was this: "There are hungry people all over the world, yet surpluses exist in our area. We have got to find new ways for distribution."

Adams then began a recount of some of the places he’s visited and the things he recognized as significant for Illinois farmers to know and understand. In summary, here are a few of the things he mentioned:


Poor soil, small farms, their views on agriculture are different. They have people who are hungry. We don’t have that.


With mellow goat bells ringing on the hillsides, it is an idyllic mountaintop lifestyle far and away from the rest of the world. We need to learn about their way of life. Their world is different from ours.


Where the death camps still stand untouched for all to see, a people of tradition and remembrance, and old ways.


Tremendous opportunity for our emerging markets. American presence already there. We have been selling soybeans to them, amidst the unstable political environment



Entering the country, you are searched by men with machine guns who don’t crack a smile.

In Cairo, you stand looking at the pyramids, and in back of you is the American presence, McDonald’s and Pizza Hut, just opposite ancient burial grounds. There the farmers had the most rudimentary manner of farming, plowing rocky ground with simple hand-forged plows pulled by oxen. Products are pulled to the farmers’ market in old carts. Without any thinking about it, he noted, "There is a vast difference between our agriculture and theirs."

Adams recognized again that the culture is different. Women have washing machines there, and yet they come to the river to hand wash clothing in the dirty water of the Nile. It is often their only opportunity to just talk in this woman-repressed society, a different culture.

There was lots of smoking and heavy use of sugar, particularly sugar added to stout coffee, in these cultures. Like other news, the health messages have not yet reached them. Here there is a market that is being met with soybeans, poultry and corn for the poultry.

Panama Canal

Great ships from around the world pass through this canal. Most of it has been U.S. corn and soybeans up to now. Ships have become so big there is a need to add new channels, but at this time the Chinese control either end, so it is not known where or how to add new channels; nor is it known who will pay for them. Other countries are in there trying.

Since troops were pulled out, a recession has struck the country. Lots of other foreign banks have moved in and now hold money from other countries there.


What do you expect when you go to Cuba? Prepared to see a country where people are starving and have nothing, the ag team flew into a modern airport, not what they were expecting to see, Canadian built. Then they drove to a nice, modern hotel, Dutch built. Throughout this poor country were evidences of other countries that are making their presence in Cuba. They have been building roads. When the country opens, it is likely to be a prime paradise vacation/resort area with its incredible beaches edging all the way around a small tropical land mass.

The government gives the hungry people a 10-day food stamp; the remaining 20 days they are on their own as to what they can find to eat. There are so few cattle they do not dare to kill them. They just wait for them to die. Hogs are fatty from the quality of their food source. The people here are hungry for food and don’t understand why the United States is closed to trade with them. The original purpose of the embargo was defeated long ago, namely to drive Castro out of office.

If we don’t get that market someone else will.


[to top of second column in this article]


Brazilian farmers are making a profit at $1.20/bushel corn, and $2.65/bushel soybeans. (By contrast, local farmers don’t begin to break even at the local March delivery prices of $1.79 for corn and $4.16 for beans.) With those competitive advantages, it’s easy to understand why Brazilians are clearing more land daily to grow more crops. Plus, their government has invested a lot of money in improving the infrastructure of waterways and roads, making it easier to get crops to market. Here in the upper Midwest, farmers are hampered by an antiquated lock-and-dam system on the Illinois River and Upper Mississippi.

"Yet with all our problems," adds Adams, "I have yet to find a country as fortunate as ours. We still live in a country where we can say what we don’t like."

Everywhere around the world people are in awe of our agriculture, what we produce, the equipment used for production and the means of moving it. We are very competitive in the world market.

Adams wrapped up his account of world markets by urging Logan County farmers to learn about the needs of other cultures, think about how to meet those needs and how to teach them about our products. It’s important to get farmers around the world talking to each other one-on-one and thinking globally.


"Fuel and medicine are said to be the major world issues, but agriculture is the key," concluded Adams.

Following the breakfast Don Miller from the University of Illinois Extension office enthusiastically commented, "It was just great, a great meeting, and it was good for agriculture."

The following sponsors supported the event:

Platinum Sponsors

Frontier Mutual Insurance

Logan County Farm Bureau

Gold Sponsors

Graue, Inc.

Silver Sponsors

Farm Credit Services

Logan County Bank

Bronze Sponsors

Ag Land FS, Inc.

Beason Ag Center


Central Illinois Ag

Country Insurance & Financial Services

East Lincoln Farmers Grain

Illini Bank

Parker-Grieme Insurance Company

R & H Farm Supply

State Bank of Lincoln

Union Planters Bank

Woody Jones State Farm Insurance

Jim Xamis Ford-Lincoln-Mercury

Other contributions

Cross Implement

Elkhart Grain

Lincoln/Logan County Chamber of Commerce Ag Committee

Bobbi Abbott—Lincoln/Logan County Chamber of Commerce

Mike Abbott—J. M. Abbott and Associates

Marty Ahrends—Academic Development Institute

Steve Aughenbach—State Bank of Lincoln

Bill Dickerson—Natural Resources Conservation Service

Jim Drew—Logan County Farm Bureau

Todd Farris—Elkhart Grain

Bill Graff—Graff Land & Livestock

John Hartman—Farm Credit Services

Larry Huelskoetter—Logan County farmer

Mark Hunsley—Farmer's Coop Elevator

Mike Kelly—Logan County Bank

Kevin Kurtz—Stine Seed

Terry Lock—Illini Bank

Richard Martin—Logan County farmer

Bob Neal—Edward Jones

Bob Pharis—Logan County farmer

Bill Sahs—Sahs Farms

Steve Schmidt—Central Illinois Ag

Steve Schreiner—Logan County farmer

Leland Semple—Logan County farmer

Mark Smith—Logan County Economic Development

Nick Stokes—Union Planters Bank

Jim Struebing—Cross Implement

Hugh Whalen—East Lincoln Farmers Grain

Subcommittees of the chamber’s Ag Committee

Ag Awareness—Mary Ahrends, chair

Value-Added Commodities—Bill Graff, chair

Land Use/Zoning—Bill Dickerson, chair

Ag Workforce Development—Terry Lock, chair

Absentee Landowner Relations—Steve Aughenbach, chair

[Jan Youngquist]



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A March day at the fairgrounds

Students sample food, learn about farm equipment and animals

[MARCH 23, 2001]   The Logan County Farm Bureau invited all of the county’s fourth-graders to the Logan County Fairgrounds on Thursday to participate in the "Growing with Agriculture" Fair. Each school participated, and 333 students got to learn about different types of farms, farm equipment, and farm products.

[click here to see photos]

For the past four years, the Logan County Farm Bureau took equipment and animals around to each school. This year, they decided to bring the students to the equipment and animals—and it worked well. Ignoring the slight chill in the air, students were excited and interested in learning about agriculture.

The program involved hands-on learning, sampling food, making crafts, exploring farm equipment, and petting animals. The program ended with sheepshearing.

[Jean Ann Carnley]

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Logan County fourth-graders
‘grow with agriculture’

[MARCH 23, 2001]   The first local "Growing with Agriculture" ag fair was Thursday, March 22, at the Logan County Fairgrounds. Logan County fourth-grade students attended a half-day fair, discovering how agriculture is world of opportunities and the role agriculture plays in their daily lives.

The students participated in five 20-minute sessions on dairy, pork, corn, soybeans and agricultural food sampling. The closing segment focused on sheep and a sheep-shearing demonstration. At each station, the students were exposed to agriculture in Logan County through live animals, farm equipment and hands-on activities. During the food sampling session, students tasted soy milk, soy nut butter and chocolate-covered soy nuts and compared them to milk, peanut butter and peanut M&Ms. In hands-on learning during the other sessions, students made biodegradable plastic from corn products, handmade ice cream from dairy products and a bracelet reflecting the circles of the earth.

[to top of second column in this article]

The fourth-graders also participated in a "What Growing with Agriculture Means to Me" essay contest. The winners were selected by Lincoln College Phi Theta Kappa honorary society. Each participant received a gift certificate from Wendy’s of Lincoln. The top five essays were:

1. Christian Sandel

2. Jordan Howe

3. Jonathon Oliver

4. Nate Johnston

5. Ryan Gibbs

The Logan County Farm Bureau organized the fair in celebration of National Agriculture Week. Cross Implement, Rohlfs Implement, Central Illinois Ag and the Logan County Fair Association provided support for the event.

[Logan County Fair Bureau news release]

Three local students chosen
for Ag Day scholarships

[MARCH 21, 2001]   Elizabeth Stoll, Matthew Duckworth and Jackie Bakken were honored this morning as the winners for the 2001 Ag Day Scholarship Contest. The announcement was part of the second annual Logan County Ag Day Breakfast, which brings together area farmers, business and government leaders to further discuss issues of critical importance to the local agricultural economy.

The scholarship program was started last year after committee organizers had received so much financial support from local businesses that they felt some of the money should go back to help young people from Logan County pursue careers in agriculture.


Applicants must be from Logan County, study or plan to study some aspect of agriculture in an institution of higher learning, and have well-defined plans for their future career in agriculture. The committee chose from 11 very qualified applicants this year.

All three of this year’s recipients have been active participants in both 4-H and FFA programs.

Elizabeth Stoll, daughter of Kenton and Marcia Stoll of Chestnut, received $1,000 to continue her studies in plant biology and business at Washington University in St. Louis, where she is a sophomore.

She is a 1999 graduate of Mount Pulaski high school where she was active in FFA, Science Olympiad, National Honor Society, Student Council, Spanish Club, volleyball, and track and field. She was also a member of the Clover Kids 4-H Club.


[Elizabeth Stoll]

While in college Elizabeth has kept busy with Lutheran Campus Ministries, peer-advising freshman students, serving as secretary for her Residence Hall Council, and running with the Washington University track team.

For the past two years Elizabeth has been employed by the Monsanto facility in Illiopolis as a field research assistant. During the school year she works in a research lab and as an assistant to the Washington University track coach.

Her future goals are to obtain a master’s degree in crop sciences from the University of Illinois and then to work for an organization like Monsanto or the USDA to develop new strains of crops that can benefit both farmers and consumers. Elizabeth says that the first strain of corn that she hopes to create is one that can successfully survive standing water for several days and eliminate the need for replanting.

Elizabeth currently reigns as the Logan County Fair queen.


[to top of second column in this article]

Hartsburg-Emden High School senior Matthew Duckworth is the recipient of a $500 scholarship to study animal science at the University of Illinois. He is the son of Jeffery and Barbara Duckworth.


[Matthew Duckworth]

Duckworth is the secretary of the Hartsburg FFA Chapter and team captain for the Scholastic Bowl team. For the past three years he has worked at the Greenhaven Animal Clinic in San Jose as a veterinary assistant. Also, he has raised and taken care of several show calves.

Matthew Duckworth’s career goal is to become a livestock veterinarian. "I enjoy working outside with livestock and firmly believe that agriculture is still the backbone of America. I will be honored to take part in this traditional industry," says Duckworth.

Jackie Bakken, a senior at Lincoln Community High School, also was chosen for a $500 scholarship. She will study agricultural education next year at the University of Illinois. Jackie is the daughter of Leonard and Rita Bakken of rural Lincoln.


[Jackie Bakken]

Jackie is a 10-year member of the Wide-A-Wake 4-H club and has served in many leadership capacities. She was chosen as one of 26 delegates from Illinois to attend National 4-H Congress in Atlanta, Ga., and has participated in the Junior Leader Legislative Conference.

She currently serves at the chapter president of Lincoln FFA and the Section 14 reporter. She is also member of several judging teams. Jackie has earned her State FFA Degree and is working towards her American FFA Degree.

Jackie hopes to become an agriculture teacher and help others understand the many career opportunities available in agriculture.

Last year’s scholarship winners were University of Illinois students Derek Struebing and Chad Yagow.

Scholarship funding is made possible by these sponsors for Logan County Ag Day 2001: Logan County Farm Bureau, Frontier Mutual Insurance, Graue Inc., Farm Credit, Logan County Bank, Central Illinois Ag, Cross Implement, State Bank of Lincoln, Illini Bank, Union Planters Bank, Ag Land FS, R&H Farm Supply, Parker-Grieme Insurance, Woody Jones State Farm Insurance and East Lincoln Farmers Grain.

[News release]

Spring turf management

By John Fulton

[MARCH 12, 2001]   There have been quite a few questions coming into the office over the past week concerning various aspects of turf management, so today I'd like to cover some of the spring basics.

First comes the fertilizer question. Fertilizers should actually be put on in May when grass is growing more actively. If you don't have soil test information, fine fescues use 1 to 3 pounds of nitrogen per 1,000 square feet of area each year, while bluegrass needs 1 to 4 pounds. About 10 pounds of a 10-10-10 material will be adequate if applied May and September. If you have soil test information, each lawn should be fertilized differently.

Weed control has been a frequently asked question. This is the proper time for crabgrass preventative treatments. These annual grasses usually start germinating about April 1, but the date this year is probably going to be earlier. They actually start when the soil temperature hits 48 to 50 degrees. A good indicator is when forsythia is in bloom (or as one person said this week — the better indicator is when the forsythia starts dropping petals). From the notes on fertilizer, you can probably tell that it would be better to apply a straight crabgrass treatment and then come back with fertilizer next month. Broadleaf weed control should also be started in May when most weeds are present and actively growing. About the only things out now are the winter annuals such as chickweed and henbit. When choosing a weed and feed, or weed control product only, check the label to make sure that it will control what you are after. For instance, 2,4-D will not control chickweed or henbit.


[seed, spreader, and fertilizer]

We are at an opportune time for seeding grass, but the results are always weather-dependent. Normally we like to see spring seedings occur before April 1, but with cooler weather you might push that about two weeks. If you prefer to wait, start seeding this fall between Aug. 15 and Sept. 10. The fall seedings are usually more productive since they get two growing seasons before hot, dry weather comes in. Use 4 pounds of a Kentucky bluegrass and fine fescue blend for "bare dirt" seedings or half that amount for overseedings.


[to top of second column in this article]

If you have other questions on turf management or other horticulture topics, please feel free to contact me at the Extension office, (217) 732-8289.

What’s the market?

Grain bids for the market and futures prices are easily obtained by checking with local elevators, looking at the Farm Dayta/DTN machines or looking on the web. Prices for other commodities are a little bit harder to find and not updated as frequently.

One of the price requests most often received in the office is for hay and straw. One of the best market price sources is the "Illinois Grain and Livestock Market News," published by the Illinois Department of Agriculture on a monthly basis. If you’re interested in getting this publication, you can write to Illinois Grain and Livestock Market News at P.O. Box 19281, Springfield, IL 62794-9281.

The central Illinois hay and straw prices quoted in the March issue were $120-130 per ton for premium alfalfa ($130 in big square bales); good alfalfa sold for $100-120 per ton; fair alfalfa in big round bales sold for $60-75 per ton; and low alfalfa sold for $50 in big round bales and $50-60 in big square bales. Good mixed hay was $90-110 per ton; premium grass hay was $100; good grass $90; and fair grass $70-75. Straw prices quoted were $1.50-2.50 per bale or $75-90 per ton.

[John Fulton]


Honors & Awards

Hartem FFA member wins state award

[APRIL 5, 2001]  Kate Wrage was named the state winner in the Fruit/Vegetable category at the recent Proficiency Awards Day judging. After progressing through an interview, along with a review of her record books, Kate was selected the state winner and will now represent Illinois at the national FFA’s regional competition. Daniel Eeten, also of the Hartem FFA, was chosen as the runner-up in Diversified Crop Production.

[Ted Uftcus, state FFA vice-president, and Kate Wrage.]

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Hartsburg-Emden FFA wins Agriculture Sales Contest

[MARCH 17, 2001]  The Hartsburg-Emden FFA Chapter recently won the Section 14 FFA Agriculture Sales Contest. The five members participating each received first place in their respective subject areas. Those members are Anthony Jones in product display, Natalie Coers in newspaper advertising, Kent Leesman in customer relations, Matt Duckworth in telephone skills and Kate Wrage in sales presentation. The team as a whole also received first in market analysis. These FFA members will advance to district competition March 28.

[Hartsburg-Emden participants in the Section 14 FFA Agriculture Sales Contest were (left to right) Kent Leesman, Kate Wrage, Natalie Coers and Anthony Jones. Contest participant Matt Duckworth is not pictured.]

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