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FFA Alumni Chapter report
The Olympia FFA
Alumni Chapter met on June 5 at Olympia High School, Stanford.
Members enjoyed a cookout, which was followed by the chapter
meeting. The vice president, Jeff Springer, presided.
In old business, Heather Obert
and Chris Embry Mohr reported on various ag-related activities that
have taken place over the past year, including the recent Ag Day
event at Olympia High School, where students from grade schools
within the district learned about the agriculture industry.
In new business, Brian Springer
reported on various activities of the student FFA chapter.
The group also discussed the
FFA Section 9 Fair, Minier Corn Daze and the FFA Alumni Chapter
banquet. The alumni decided to work with the student chapter in
helping cook rib-eye sandwiches at the Minier Corn Daze in August.
The alumni banquet, tentatively scheduled in January 2004, will
consist of a meal, silent auction and possibly a live auction. The
chapter also decided to look into purchasing a new grill.
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second column in this article]
Chapter officers for the alumni group are Todd Wibben, Atlanta,
president; Jeff Springer, Minier, vice president; David Deal,
Danvers, secretary; Jeff Schneider, treasurer; Kyle Haning, Delavan,
reporter; and Melvin Springer, Armington, member at large. The
chapter is under the direction of Chris Embry Mohr and Heather Obert,
vocational ag instructors.
by Kyle Haning]
Consumers are the last line of defense against food-borne illness
URBANA -- Sanitation and
hygiene on the farm, in the food plant and in the kitchen are the
best defenses against food-borne organisms that cause illness, said
Susan Brewer, an expert on food safety at the University of
Brewer knows that meat-processing
plants are heavily regulated and that other food producers must
comply with FDA's good manufacturing practices. She also knows that
"even in the best of circumstances, some things are going to slip
through the system. When the product is in the consumer's hand, he
should exert whatever control he can over that product," she said.
"With raw agricultural commodities, you
have to assume that contamination came in with the product from the
farm. These organisms are ubiquitous. They're everywhere in the
environment," said Brewer.
"In a couple of states, vegetables have
been irrigated with municipal waste water. Companies have hired
people to pick vegetables, but they don't have toilet facilities in
the field. In these instances, you can have contamination from human
waste, not livestock waste," Brewer said.
"There have been a number of outbreaks
of food-borne illness from cabbage to strawberries to parsley to
cilantro -- not products you'd normally consider sources of these
bacteria. They're raw products, and people eat them raw.
Unfortunately, most people don't wash them well either," she said.
In the meat industry, a USDA inspector
must be on the premises any time animals are being slaughtered,
Brewer said. "Sanitary handling of carcasses is very strictly
defined and monitored. After slaughter, carcasses are washed with
hot water or food-grade acid, or they are pasteurized in a steam
cabinet to reduce contamination. The inspector keeps a close eye on
who's doing what as they move around the plant. If someone works in
slaughter, he's not supposed to be in the processing room."
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Brewer finds this monitoring reassuring
not only because it enforces sanitary procedures, but also because
it enhances plant security. "In many food-processing plants, unless
you work for them, you won't get in there. And they're getting much
stricter about who they're hiring. They have a lot to lose if
something goes wrong."
Ground meat can be a particular problem
because grinding distributes any contamination that has occurred
throughout a lot of surface area. A pound of ground beef may contain
meat from a few dozen cattle.
Brewer recalled one E. coli outbreak at
a fast-food restaurant in Seattle. "A few animals that were positive
for E. coli went into the processing facility, and the meat from
those animals was ground and mixed together with meat from a lot of
other animals. It's unclear what happened as the processed meat went
through the distribution chain, but we know at the end point, it was
not properly cooked. Proper cooking takes care of a lot of errors
that accumulate along the way."
Brewer recommends using a meat
thermometer even when cooking hamburgers to make sure meat is heated
internally to 165 F. "It's a very bad idea to eat a rare hamburger.
And if you're served one at a restaurant, if it doesn't look right
or smell right or if it isn't hot, don't accept it. You don't know
how long it's been sitting at that temperature or if it was ever
really cooked," she said.
"There is no
such thing as zero risk when you're dealing with a fresh commodity.
If consumers want a sterile meat product, they will have to buy
canned Spam," she said.
[University of Illinois news
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URBANA -- Using options to
manage summer price risk in soybeans is one alternative producers
could consider, as there is potential for much lower prices should a
favorable growing season unfold, said a University of Illinois
Extension marketing specialist.
"Option premiums, however, are
relatively large," said Darrel Good. "In addition, ownership of
options does not eliminate the soybean pricing decision. That is,
even if prices move higher, producers with options will eventually
have to decide when to price soybeans. Another approach is to spread
sales during the summer growing season to at least capture the
average price on a portion of the crop."
Good's comments came as he reviewed the
soybean market, which may be affected by increasing concerns over
2003 growing season weather.
Soybean prices have declined modestly
from the highs in mid-May but remain more than $1 higher than prices
of a year ago. Higher prices have persisted even as some market
fundamentals have turned a little more negative.
"The pace of U.S. exports, for example,
has slowed enough that it now appears that shipments for the year
will be near the current USDA projection," said Good. "The USDA
projection will be reached with an average of 4.5 million bushels of
exports per week for the last three months of the marketing year.
Shipments for the week that ended May 29 were reported at 3.4
In addition to the slower export pace,
the pace of the domestic crush is such that the cumulative crush for
the year could be five million to 10 million bushels less than the
current USDA projection. The cumulative crush for May through August
needs to be about 5.5 percent less than that of a year ago for the
marketing year total to reach the USDA projection of 1.615 billion
For the period January through April
2003, the crush was 7 percent less than during the same period last
year. A continuation of that pace would result in a crush of 1.607
billion bushels. The large inverses in both the soybean meal and
soybean oil markets discourage end users from accumulating
inventories and provide incentive to delay purchases as much as
possible until the new crop year.
Good noted that South America has just
harvested a record soybean crop, and early indications suggest
another significant increase in acreage for harvest in 2004. China
has reportedly expanded soybean acreage in 2003. In addition, some
delays in unloading soybeans in China are reported as a result of a
slowdown in paperwork to approve receipt of GMO soybeans.
"While far from a perfect planting
season, it appears that most of the 2003 U.S. crop will be planted
in a timely fashion," said Good. "As of June 1, the USDA reported
that 74 percent of the crop had been planted, compared to 67 percent
planted on the same date last year and only 3 percent points behind
the five-year average planning pace.
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"On a statewide basis, delays were most
significant in Indiana, Kentucky, Louisiana, North Carolina and
Tennessee. Emergence and early growth of the crop were also delayed
by early season weather conditions, but most agree that yield
potential has not yet been significantly reduced."
Indications that the rate of
consumption of U.S. soybeans has been reduced sufficiently and that
the 2003 crop is not in serious trouble resulted in July futures
slipping nearly 50 cents from the extreme high of $6.58 on May 20 to
a low of $6.10 on Tuesday and Wednesday of last week. November 2003
futures declined about 35 cents during the same period. Those
declines, however, were followed by a late-week price rally. The
rally appeared to be the result of renewed weather and crop
"Reports that dry weather in parts of
China might result in a smaller soybean crop in 2003 than in 2002,
even with increased acreage, keeps the demand story alive," said
Good. "A production decline would presumably keep Chinese imports at
a very high level for another year. In addition, and perhaps more
importantly, concerns about summer weather prospects in the United
"Discussion of the developing La Nina
weather pattern and the potential impact on summer weather
conditions moved closer to the front page. Finally, predictions of
the infamous 'ridge of high pressure' began to surface last week.
Some began calling for such a ridge to develop by midmonth, bringing
dry conditions to important growing areas. With U.S. stocks at such
a low level, anything less than a trend yield for the 2003 crop
means that supplies could remain very tight for another year."
A weather market and resulting higher
prices have larger implications for pricing new crop than pricing
old crop soybeans, since the majority of the 2002 crop soybeans have
already been sold.
"Assuming that weather and crop
concerns persist, what are reasonable price targets for November
2003 futures?" Good said. "Potential price strength obviously
depends on timing, severity and duration of crop-threatening
weather. Spring and/or summer weather rallies over the past six
years have pushed November futures to a high ranging from $5.91 in
2002 to $7.50 in 1997.
interesting to note that the contract highs were lower every year
from 1996 through 2002."
of Illinois news release]
Tornado damage to crops
With several tornadoes going
through the county about a week ago, it is certainly easy to see the
destruction. Many people have lost their homes, others have lost
property, some have lost portions of crops, but luckily no one was
hurt seriously. After the cleanup of outbuildings and homes, the
attention turned to assessment of crop fields.
Cornfields were the most obviously
damaged. Corn was much larger, and now there is a large bare (or
soil-blown) area through fields where tornadoes were on the ground.
The field assessments I made showed about 25 percent of the
cornfields needing some replanting done. This was because those
fields mostly had corn that was broken below the growing point. The
other 75 percent of the fields were probably good enough to leave
them. Of course there was some yield loss due to lost plants and
missing leaves, but the penalty for late planting would about equal
a stand of 14,000 plants left from the earlier planting. Most fields
had at least that many plants.
Some recent research has shown that
there may be a little more yield loss than charts show, but there
certainly isn't a guarantee on replanting either. Miraculously the
plants had already begun to regrow within three days.
Soybeans were a completely different
situation. Many soybeans that were above ground were completely cut
off. When cut low, soybeans are dead. There is really nothing left
to regrow. With the late planting, there was a saving grace. That
was that many beans were still below the soil surface and therefore
protected. My estimates were that a third of soybean fields needed
some replanting done.
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When the big picture is in, crop damage
was minimal. I estimated about a quarter of a million dollars in
crop damage. When we start looking at well over a hundred million
dollars worth of crops grown annually in the county, it isn't an
overall large percentage. It is however very significant to
producers in the tornado paths. Crop losses of any kind make a
rather meager income even less. Replant costs approach $50 per acre.
Also, in the case of cornfields, there were herbicides applied
already, which prohibited switching to soybeans that wouldn't be
affected as much by late planting.
The damage to ornamentals was also very
large. If you need assistance with evaluating fields or ornamentals
after the storms, you may contact me at the Extension office for
assistance. The number is 732-8289 or e-mail
three years passing, there is a revised set of operation cost charts
available. These costs are often referred to as "custom rates."
These charts may be accessed at the U of I farmdoc website at