Monthly Archives: August 2018


    Boone, Iowa, Tuesday, August 28, 2018

    At the Farm Progress Show in Boone, Iowa, from August 28 through 30, Soucy will present its new track system for combine harvesters: the S-TECH 1000X. The company has chosen to unveil its new product—the result of more than 10 years of experience in designing and manufacturing track systems for agricultural vehicles—at this major agricultural show in North America.
    Peace of mind for farmers
    This new track system was designed to offer farmers peace of mind and enable them to harvest at the best time possible, without damaging their land. “We are well aware that harvests represent the completion of a whole year’s work for farmers. That’s why we worked hard to provide them with an extremely reliable product to enable them to harvest with complete confidence, whatever the weather,” says André Todd, General Manager of Soucy International. The S-TECH 1000X has the largest ground contact area on the market and therefore the best float.
    The new product’s design has retained all the advantages of the previous model, with many new benefits besides. For example, the track system can travel at speeds of up to 28 km/h and was designed to be robust, enabling it to be used with equipment that is 20% heavier. Maintenance has been simplified thanks to new oil bath hubs to replace daily lubrication with a single maintenance operation for every 500 hours of use. The sleeker design also reduces the build-up of debris, reducing cleaning time. Farmers also benefit from increased ride comfort and a longer lifespan for the track system.
    A product drawing on many years of research and development
    Soucy has been working on this new generation of track systems for combine harvesters for more than 3 years now. “We believe we have effectively combined our know-how, expertise and understanding of the market into a unique track system, the S-TECH 1000X. All the components that make up this product have been analyzed in our physical test centre to simulate all the situations that farmers may face and therefore eliminate potential risks,” explains Julie Tremblay, Engineering Director at Soucy International.

    The S-TECH 1000X is already available from our retailers throughout North America. All the details about the S-TECH 1000X and Soucy’s line of track systems are available on the website

  • Buying Guide for Used Farm Equipment: When to Buy, How to Shop and Ways to Finance

    Let’s face it, there’s nothing quite as nice as a brand new tractor. It has pristine paint, its bristling with the latest technology and it’s fun to operate. It might even make your friends jealous!

    We’d all like to buy a new tractor or combine every couple of years, but we also know that doing so probably doesn’t make good economic sense. If you’re not sure whether or not the time is right to replace your farm equipment, Lancaster Farming Locator is here to help. The purpose of this article is to help you make good decisions on when to replace your farm equipment, whether to buy new or used and how to pay for it with smart financing.

    When to Replace Farm Machinery

    Making a decision about replacing farm machinery starts with your overall business goal, which is to be as productive as possible at the lowest possible cost. In most cases, the cost associated with each piece of equipment will rise as your equipment ages, this is due to an increase in repairs and maintenance over time. According to William Edwards, economist at Iowa State University, this often starts to happen in about the ninth year of ownership. That’s when repair costs may start to increase faster than depreciation, and when interest costs are decreasing. Edwards provides a chart showing average annual costs for a 250 HP tractor including repairs, fuel, interest and depreciation. But let’s take a closer look at this equipment replacement decision.

    First, let’s look at the pros and cons of buying new equipment. New equipment is reliable and it’s under warranty. With a new tractor, you can stop worrying about breakdowns. New equipment offers the latest technology which can make a real impact on the efficiency and capability of your operation. Simply put, the right machinery may help you get more done in the same amount of time. And let’s not underestimate pride of ownership. Having “new paint” in your fleet just makes you feel good. But let’s not pretend that new equipment is cheap—buying new requires capital and a long term commitment to paying off your debt.

    So, should you consider purchasing used instead of new? With used equipment, you could experience breakdowns at critical times resulting in significant maintenance costs which can hurt your productivity. But it’s almost always less expensive, in the short term, to repair than it is to replace. But in the long term, does making due with used equipment prevent you from accessing new technology and improving your productivity? Another consideration with used equipment is your skill level as a mechanic. Do you have the skills to complete most of your own equipment repairs? And is it worth your time and energy to complete your own repairs or is it more cost effective to outsource the job to someone else?

    These days, the market for used equipment is very soft so you may be able to find some great deals, but it’s important to carefully review your options before you buy. Is it a good value for the asking price? Is it going to hold up? And how will you finance the purchase?  Before we look at these questions in more detail, let’s introduce one more option—outsourcing some of your labor to avoid some equipment ownership all together. Do you really need that big new combine or can you contract out the work it would have done?

    In order to answer these questions, it’s critical that you understand the actual costs involved in owning and operating your equipment, whether new or used. The other consideration is your overall plan for the future. For example, if you’re thinking of moving to no-till, you should expect your hours using your tillage equipment to decline. Start by doing the math and don’t forget that contracting equipment and workers could be an option.


    Understanding the Real Cost of Your Farm Machinery

    To understand the real cost of your farm machinery, it’s important to look at both the ownership costs and operating costs. Ownership costs, also called fixed costs include depreciation, interest, taxes, insurance, housing and maintenance. And these costs don’t change, regardless of how much you use the machine.

    Operating costs include repairs, maintenance, fuel, lubrication and operator labor. Obviously these costs vary depending on usage. Repair costs are likely where you’ll see the largest increase in your spend as your equipment gets older. While we may not be able to predict future repairs down to the penny, there are some useful tools that provide insight on what you can expect to spend on repairs as your equipment ages. William Edwards, of Iowa State University, provides a useful chart showing the cost increase for a typical two-wheel drive tractor as hours of use increase. In the example, after 6,000 hours of use, total accumulated repair costs will equal about 25% of its new list price. He also provides help estimating fuel and other costs to help you get to a total operating cost estimate.

    With this in mind, most farmers trade in equipment before it’s totally worn out, typically because new technology is available. According to estimates, the average useful economic life of a piece of farm equipment is 10 to 12 years and about 15 years for tractors.

    If you’ve calculated a good estimate of the real cost of owning your tractor, or another piece of equipment, and you’ve decided that it’s time to replace it, here are some guidelines to help you make a well-informed used equipment purchase.

    Buying Used Farm Equipment

    The process starts with selecting exactly what to buy. One of the biggest mistakes you can make is to purchase more machine than you need. For example, a modern grain operation will typically incur equipment costs of up to $750,000. So an investment this large needs to be spread over 1,200 to 1,500 acres to enable a fruitful return on that investment. So make sure you’re not over buying when it comes to your equipment’s capability.


    Evaluating Used Equipment

    Purchasing a used piece of equipment can be a toss-up if you haven’t conducted a thorough inspection first. According to Mark Hanna, of Iowa State, these key areas should be checked before making a purchase to ensure you’re investing in a quality tractor.

    •         The Cooling System

    First, you’ll want to check the tractor for any cooling system leaks, checking the condition of the hydraulic oil and lines, looking for wear around the drawbar pinhole or bars and looking for signs that the frame has been sprung or repaired. He also says to beware of signs that the tractor has been “souped up” after leaving the factory- like adding a turbocharger or swapping in high compression pistons. The Farm Industry News provides some helpful tips for inspecting used tractors before you buy. We also checked with the auctioneers at Ritchie Brothers. Here’s a guide to getting smart before you buy.

    •         The Paint

    If a machine has been completely repainted, you should beware. It may have suffered damage in a flood or fire.

    •         The Seals

    Check the seals around the engine, rear differential and any other visible spots. If the seals have been replaced, it could be a sign that the tractor has incurred fired damage.

    •         The Articulation Point

    Check the articulation point on the unit. This is a critical joint that needs to be properly greased and functional. See any metal shards? That’s a bad sign.

    •         The Cab

    Take a close look at the cab to gauge whether the wear corresponds with the tractor’s hours. Low hours on the machine should correspond with little wear on the mats, foot petals and carpet. Is there a guidance system? Make sure you test that because it can be very costly to replace.

    •         The Tires

    Tires can cost up to $30,000, so you’ll want to look at them closely before making a purchase. If the serial numbers have been ground off, they’re likely manufacturer’s seconds. If the treads show considerable wear, you lose power because the treads won’t effectively transfer engine torque to the ground. Manufacturer websites can guide you on levels of wear.

    •         Handling, Gauge Operation & Performance

    The next step, of course, is to drive the tractor. Look for proper operation of gauges and lights. You should also check the performance of the transmission, under load if possible.  Feel the steering wheel. It should feel smooth and tight. Take it for a drive and turn a corner to make sure the differential locks into place. If you feel a knock while moving, it could be a transmission slip. When you steer back and forth, check for any looseness. That could indicate that the main pin is bent or damaged. Tight steering might mean that the pins need to be greased or there may be problems with the hydraulic cylinders.

    •         Leaks

    Check for leaks. See any wet spots underneath or streaks of oil on the tires or hubs? That may mean a defective shaft seal. Also be sure to check the hydraulics for leaks.

    •         The Battery

    Look over the battery. Is it clean or does it have a moist layer of dirt on the top? How about the water level? Is it full? Are the cables frayed? Any of these could be signs of tough wear or potential failure in the near future.

    •         The Engine

    Checking the engine is also crucial. Check the O-ring s on the crankshaft for a secure seal. Start the engine. Does it turn over easily? If it’s a diesel you should expect to see some black smoke, but you should also expect that smoke to clear. If the smoke is a color other than black, you may have a different problem that needs to be checked. Listen for a smooth rotation. Do you hear any knocking? That could indicate a problem with the PTO shaft.

    •         The Air Filter

    When the engine is off, remove the air filter. When was the last time it was replaced?  The owner’s manual will tell you how often this filter should be changed- often every 100-200 hours. Does it appear especially dirty? If this filter was not changed regularly, that could indicate that other routine maintenance was ignored.

    •         The Oil

    Check the oil. Pull out the dipstick and observe the oil on it closely. If it is dark black or has a burnt scent, it could be an indication that it wasn’t changed regularly. If it has a gray tinge or you see water bubble, that may mean that water has mixed with the oil which could be a problem. If you see an oil film in the radiator or in the antifreeze that may indicate a leak in the system.

    •         The Swivel Pin & Hitches

    Check the swivel pin and hitches. The wear you see should correspond with the hours of use. An oblong hole means high hours. And don’t forget the hydraulics. Do you see any leaks or bad seals? Consider what attachments you want to run now or in the future. Are there adequate outlets and return lines?

    •         After-Market Accessories

    Many tractors include aftermarket electronic accessories for control of the machine or for managing agricultural applications. Make sure you evaluate these carefully. Check wire routing and look for fraying or crimped wires. Ask the owner for a list of all the electronics then check with the manufacturer of these devices to see if they are still supported by warranty. And check to see if the tractor has a standard ISOBUS connector because this will make the vehicle easy to upgrade with electronic accessories in the future.

    •         Proper Documentation

    Lastly, don’t forget documentation. A tractor owner that has carefully cared for the machine is likely to have the owner’s manual, inspection logs, and maintenance records.

    Finding Used Equipment

    Want to browse a ton of used equipment from your phone or laptop? Try Lancaster Farming Locator. This directory of used farming equipment has the most used models in the Mid-Atlantic region of any site around. You can browse by equipment type including construction equipment, trucks and motorcycles. You’ll even find categories for smaller equipment like chainsaws and golf carts. You can also search for auctions in your area.

    Comparing one model against another is a great way to start your search. Lancaster Farming Locator lets you add models to your “comparison list” and then look at them side by side. Another helpful tool on the site is the “watchlist.” If there’s a model that you like, but you’re not ready to purchase, you can add that item to your watchlist for easy access. You can also communicate questions easily with the seller.

    Financing Equipment

    So now you’ve found just the right used tractor or combine and you’re ready to buy. You might be asking yourself, “Can I get financing on used equipment?” The answer is yes, and you have a few different options. First, you can finance through a dealer, but usually this is only available on equipment fewer than 10 years old. This option requires you, as the buyer, to have good credit and at least two years in business. If you have good credit and two or more years in business, you may be able to get financing directly from your bank, assuming the equipment is less than 10 years old. And the rates may be better than through the dealer (6-8% APR is possible).

    But what about other financing options? If you’re not using a dealer or a bank for financing, start with an equipment leasing company. They will likely offer you one of these two options: an equipment loan or an equipment lease. With an equipment loan, you make payments for a time period ranging from two to five years and own the equipment at the end of the loan period. With the lease option, you’ll make payments for a similar period of time, but after you have the option to walk away or make a final payment to own the piece of equipment. Working with an equipment leasing company can be a good option if you meet one of these conditions:

    •         You’re new in business
    •         You don’t have strong credit
    •         The equipment is more than 10 years old
    •         You got turned down for other financing options.

    While exact interest rates will vary for this type of financing, it will be higher than through a dealership or a bank. For more information on calculating your payments, visit this article at the Smarter Finance website. And if you’re ready to apply for a loan, this article from Lancaster Farming provides helpful tips for obtaining farm loans.


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  • Culling in a Down Market: Calculating Breakeven Production

    Dairy Perspectives - Heather Weeks

    With cull prices down across the board in Pennsylvania for the last year, many farmers are questioning their culling strategy. Cattle are simply not bringing the same prices as they did in the recent past. Dairy farms rely on “non-milk” income, particularly cull sales, to provide additional financial support. As Class III milk futures prices stay below $15 per hundredweight in the short term, the lower cull cow prices add insult to injury.

    Because of stronger cow health and reproductive practices, many farms are better able to select which cows to cull from the herd. On average, farms have more heifers than required to maintain the herd.

    Voluntary culling is the process of deciding which animals to cull, rather than the cow culling herself because of poor health or injury.

    In this market, however, the common feeling seems to be that because cull prices are so low, keeping the cow in the herd is better than taking her to auction.

    That may not be an accurate assessment. The cow not covering her cost of production is charging the farm every day she stays in the herd.

    The calculation to measure this is fairly simple: divide variable costs (or costs of goods sold) by milk price to determine the pounds of milk a cow must produce to cover her variable costs.

    In the 2017 AgChoice Farm Credit dairy success and profitability review benchmark (Dairy SPR), the average farm’s variable costs totaled $10.58 per hundredweight. With a $17 per hundredweight milk price, the breakeven production on the average farm is 62.2 pounds per cow per day.

    Managers should assess any cow producing her breakeven to determine if she should remain in the herd, be culled or added to the do-not-breed list.

    However, farmers should not automatically send every cow that produces less than 62.2 pounds per day to auction.

    Consider mitigating factors, such as whether or not she is bred and due to calve, her health history, stage of lactation, etc.

    Two variables affect breakeven production: variable costs (or costs of goods sold) and milk price. Variable costs on farms in the 2017 Dairy SPR benchmark ranged from a low of $3.26 per hundredweight to a high of $19.89 per hundredweight.

    Using $17 per hundredweight gross milk price, every cow producing over 19.2 pounds per day would be able to cover her variable costs on the lowest farm. On the highest farm, only cows producing over 117 pounds per day would cover their costs.

    With the average farm only receiving $19 per hundredweight for its milk in 2017, a $19.89 per hundredweight cost of goods sold means the farm is losing money even before covering its overhead, such as repairs, taxes and interest payments.

    It’s safe to say that the high and low farms in this benchmark represent extremes.

    The other variable in this equation is the gross milk price.

    Farmers have more control over their variable costs than they do over gross milk price. Managers should consider how their variable costs impact their overall costs of production and what factors they can adjust to help control costs.

    To calculate variable costs and cost of production, farms should work with their financial advisers to monitor these benchmarks monthly or, at least, annually.

    Farms have many decisions about which cows to cull and which to keep. Consider using breakeven production as one factor in these decisions.

    Heather Weeks is a loan officer with AgChoice Farm Credit.

  • Patz Introduces New 1600 Series II Vertical Mixer

    Pound, WI — August 20, 2018:

    Patz Corporation is pleased to announce the new 1600 Series II Twin-Screw Trailer Vertical Mixer as the next evolution in Balanced Flow™ Technology. The Series II offers Precision Feeding Trailer options and features an affordable, re-designed uni-body frame.


    The new 1600 Series II 620 Vertical Mixer includes an optional front door with multiple front door conveyor discharge options. The front discharge conveyor is trailer mounted only. A standard viewing platform for monitoring TMR mixing and recessed LED lights in rear bumper are added safety features. This mixer also has (4) 285/70R19.5 Hybrid Implement tires with DOT spec’d truck sidewalls (duals).


    Standard 1600 Series I and II Balanced Flow™ features include Patz Patented contoured baffles and twin Tru Taper™ V-Screw with Dual Kicker (34” or 44”). Choice of screw top options include cone or multi-angle depending on ration being mixed. Four hitch types are available: clevis, single tang, articulating ball, and BullPull™. Drive packages offered are a manual 2-speed or 1000 RPM Direct Drive package.
    The Patz 1600 Series I 620 Vertical Mixer will continue to be offered.
    As with all of our mixer lines, the 1600 Series II vertical mixers are able to handle a wide variety of ingredients, from large round or square bales that are wet or dry. Our vertical mixer line offers a consistent TMR from start to finish, regardless of the batch size.


    Patz Corporation designs, manufactures, and markets agricultural, industrial, and environmental products as well as offering contract manufacturing and finance options. Patz Corporation’s rich history boasts 70 years of success. We continue to thrive in an ever-changing market by listening to the needs of the diverse customer base we serve, ranging from small dairies to large corporate farming operations to commercial businesses.
    For more information, visit

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    BY CASE IH | AUGUST 14, 2018
    When planting, convenience and productivity are key. That’s why the new 2130 Early Riser® stack-fold planter from Case IH provides convenient bulk-fill and fertilizer options for accurate, high-speed planting.
    Expanding the 2000 series Early Riser planter lineup, the 2130 model includes new features to enhance productivity for high-tech strip-till and flood irrigation operations. Available in five configurations, this new planter is rebuilt from the ground up — from rugged row unit to the industry’s most accurate Precision Planting® technology. These models are built to plant all your crops, from corn to cotton and peanuts to dry edible beans, and come in 30-, 36-, 38- and 40-inch row spacing.

    This new planter can be customized from the factory to fit the way you farm, from irrigated acres to wide row configurations and multiple crop types. The stack-fold configuration brings row units close to the tractor, allowing you to easily maneuver and plant as close as possible to an irrigation ditch or pipe. Plus, the mounted design eliminates draft, so the planter more precisely follows guidance lines — making the 2130 planter perfect for high-tech strip-till operations.

    Accurately and efficiently cover acres
    For the first time, these stack-fold planters will be available with a 50-bushel bulk-fill tank option and factory-fit liquid fertilizer system. This new option delivers a high-speed planter fit for many terrain and crop types.

    The bulk-fill tank option brings increased seed capacity and reliable seed delivery for more efficiency with each pass. The tank allows you to carry 2.2 times more seed on a 12-row planter and 1.6 times more seed on a 16-row planter when compared with on-row hoppers.

    The fully integrated in-furrow liquid fertilizer delivery system with row-by-row shutoffs gives you more accuracy when planting. It also distributes weight evenly across the planter, allowing consistent pressure on your gauge wheels and accurate seed depth regardless of the speed or soil conditions. For added support and weight distribution, optional lift-assist wheels are available.

    Stack-and-go portability
    The heavy-duty toolbar on the 2130 planter provides a solid frame for a smooth, durable stack-fold system. During planting, weight is evenly distributed across the tractor, maximizing flotation and minimizing compaction. The stacker folding system performs fast, convenient stacking, so operators can get in and out of the field quickly and efficiently.

    The 2130 planter complements the existing 2000 series Early Riser planter lineup, with a row unit that delivers more accurate seed placement and consistent seed depth for fast, uniform emergence. Talk with your Case IH dealer about which model is best suited to your individual farming practices and field conditions.


    New 2140 Early Riser: Two Planters, One Efficient Machine

    Choose the Planter Best Suited to the Way You Farm

    Any trademarks referred to herein, in association with goods and/or services of companies other than CNH Industrial America LLC, are the property of those respective companies.


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  • Tips for obtaining farm loans

    Obtaining a loan for your farm shouldn’t be a nerve-wracking, stressful experience. Try these top tips from loan experts to make the process as painless as possible.

    Start with good credit

    “We look at their credit history, which includes their credit report and if they’ve had late payments with others, judgments, collection accounts and other things that would adversely affect it,” said Chris Wager, farm loan manager with USDA Farm Service Agency.

    Look over your credit report for any mistakes. They do happen occasionally.

    If you don’t have one, you don’t need to have a credit score, however.

    “A lot of times, someone has a zero credit score because they pay cash,” Wager said. “We have some Plain clients where this is their experience.”

    Prove your income

    Wager said that the main way farmers can do this is with their tax returns. Most farmers will need to copy their last three years’ returns.

    Another instrument needed is a workable farm business plan.

    “With that, we’re looking for a reasonable expectation to repay the loan,” Wager said.

    The business plan should include a balance sheet or net worth statement, profit and loss statement (also called an operating statement), cash flow statement and a marketing plan. Wager said that should answer where you plan to sell goods and services, at what price and if the market is saturated or not with what you’re selling.

    “We want projections for growth,” Wager said. “When someone gives us projections, it shows me that they know their goals and where they want to be. It demonstrates that change. That’s a sign they’ve really done their homework.”

    Be thorough

    Wager said that many times, he receives applications with little information filled in. That doesn’t impress loan officers.

    “Some of that stems back to inexperience,” he said. “Sometimes, it can be a conflict of interest if they want us to do their plan.”

    Ask questions

    Loan officers know that you’re in business to farm, not fill out paperwork. Wager said it’s okay to ask questions. He welcomes them, in fact.

    “If you turn in the application and have more questions, open communication is a great thing,” Wager said.

    Be neat

    This isn’t the time to scrawl illegible scribbling.

    “Take your time in filling out the forms properly and neatly if you can,” Wager said.

    Be up-to-date

    Wager wants farmers to let their loan officer know about any changes in the operating status.

    Prove your identity

    Wager said that a Social Security card and driver’s license suffice.

    “In general, the more information you give us, the faster we can process it,” he said. “If you send us half the information, we have to take time to get it. A complete application means we can be faster.”

    Anu Rangarajan, Ph.D., directs the Cornell Small Farms Program. She said that it’s a good time to borrow, as “interest rates are low and lenders are eager to issue loans to qualifying businesses.”

    Find the right lender

    Rangarajan said that it can help to find a lender that has financed similar projects in the past.

    “If they’ve already financed a few farms, switching to the new equipment you wish to buy, your chances are better,” she said as an example.

    Know how much you want

    Contact vendors for the equipment you want, for example, to know the size of the loan you’ll need.

    “Shop around in case that vendor won’t be able to help you,” Rangarajan said. “Plus, you’ll get a better idea of a fair price.”

    Demonstrate your vestment

    “Lenders will also want to know about your capital,” Rangarajan said. “How invested are you in the business? Do you have sufficient money to keep the business going? How much of your own money will you put into the new project? Most lenders won’t foot the whole bill.”

    Know what you own

    Lenders want to know about the farm’s assets so that in case you default, they’ll know what they have to liquidate.

    Explain why you want it

    Lenders may not know about the latest farming technology.

    “You will likely need to explain how the innovation they fund will result in you making more money,” Rangarajan said. “The market also plays into the amount of risk your farm is taking, so be prepared to show how increase in demand for what you produce.”

    Prove your character

    Obtaining a loan isn’t just about your financial state. Rangarajan said that lenders also want to know that you’re honest, a good farm manager and a stable business leader.

    “What’s your ag background and education?” she said. “Can you demonstrate that your leadership decisions have helped the farm thrive?”

    Look presentable

    This isn’t the time to bumble. Act professionally.

    “Sloppy applications riddled with mistakes make you look amateurish,” Rangarajan said. “Even your personal appearance as you meet with the lender can influence the decision. Take care in how you look and act as you discuss your loan.”

    Article courtesy of Lancaster Farming.

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  • High Temperatures Can Cause Heat Stress in Livestock, Pets

    HARRISBURG, Pa. — With a serious heat wave affecting much of the state and country, Agriculture Secretary Russell Redding cautioned livestock and pet owners to take measures to protect animals from high temperatures that can cause them to suffer from heat-related stress.

    “Over this past week of extreme temperatures, livestock and pet owners must take extra precautions to make sure their animals are protected from the heat,” said Redding. “Monitor your animals for signs of distress and contact a veterinarian immediately if animals exhibit unusual behaviors which could be related to heat stress.”

    Heavier market livestock, animals with darker coats, and those with chronic health conditions are at the greatest risk of stress from the extreme heat. Watch for signs of stress in livestock that are outside during the hottest part of the day. These signs include animals bunching together, heavy panting, drooling, lack of coordination and trembling.

    Pet owners should not leave animals in vehicles. A car’s interior temperature can rise within minutes, creating suffocating temperatures that lead to animal health problems and possibly death. Likewise, if pets are left outside, make sure they have access to shade and plenty of fresh, clean, cool water.

    It is important to have proper ventilation for animals kept indoors, and be sure to have backup power generation systems in place should an electrical outage occur.

    Additional tips for helping pets and livestock including cattle, horses, pigs, sheep and others deal with the heat:

    • Provide shade — move them to shaded pens if possible.

    • Provide water — as temperatures rise, animals need to consume more water. Spraying animals with water using a sprinkler that provides large droplets can also help them to cool down, when used along with shaded areas and fans.

    • Avoid overworking livestock — it’s safest to work with livestock early in the morning when their body temperatures are low. In addition, routine livestock management procedures such as vaccination, hoof trimming and dehorning should be postponed until the weather cools.

    • Avoid unnecessary transportation — if livestock must be moved, try to do so in the late evening or early morning hours.

    • Take dogs for early morning or late-evening walks, when temperatures are cooler.

    Article courtesy of Lancaster Farming.

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  • $510 Million Milk Processing Complex to be Built in Michigan

    John Flesher - Associated Press

    TRAVERSE CITY, Mich. — A $510 million milkprocessing complex will be constructed in Michigan, creating nearly 300 jobs and bolstering a dairy industry among the largest in the U.S. that has been suffering because of low prices and high costs, state officials said Thursday.

    The facility in St. Johns, about 20 miles north of Lansing, will include one plant that will process 8 million pounds of milk daily into cheese and whey protein powder and another that will use byproducts from the milk operation to make whey products for human consumption and animal feed.

    “Michigan’s dairy industry is an essential economic driver in our state, and this new investment elevates and expands our potential to rise even higher while bringing new jobs and opportunities to this region,” Gov. Rick Snyder said.

    State agencies are working on tax breaks, grants and other incentives, although they still need approval of various boards. The Michigan Strategic Fund on Thursday recommended designating the site as an Agricultural Processing Renaissance Zone, which will provide $26.1 million in tax relief over 15 years. The state administrative board is expected to decide whether to approve the proposal in September.

    The project is “vital to the success of the Michigan dairy sector,” said Jeff Mason, CEO of the Michigan Economic Development Corporation, the state’s primary business support office.

    Michigan has more than 1,700 dairy farms and ranks fifth among milk-producing states but has too little processing plant capacity. That requires farmers to ship their product elsewhere, adding to their expenses. Meanwhile, an oversupply of milk is driving down prices.

    The double whammy caused farmers to lose more than $164 million in 2017. Some have even dumped their milk rather than sending it out of state at a loss, said Kathy Achtenberg, spokeswoman for the economic development corporation.

    “It’s been very difficult to watch so many hardworking people struggle unnecessarily,” said Gordon Wenk, director of the Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development.

    Milk processed at the 146-acre complex will come from Dairy Farmers of America and Select Milk Producers. Both are cooperatives that joined with the global nutrition group Glanbia plc to form Spartan Michigan LLC, which will develop the $425 million dairy processing plant. The Michigan Milk Producers Association also will send milk there. Glanbia will oversee commercial, technical and business operations.

    Proliant Dairy, an Ankeny, Iowa-based company that manufactures products from dairy ingredients, will invest about $85 million in an adjacent byproduct facility.

    Construction is scheduled to begin in September and be completed by December 2020.

    “Michigan is ripe for growth with a surplus of quality milk, so there’s tremendous opportunity to not only benefit the dairy farm families in this area, but also the local economy and region,” said Greg Wickham, CEO of Dairy Farm- ers of America.

    Article courtesy of Lancaster Farming.

    Interested in reading more from Lancaster Farming? Click here to read it online and click here to subscribe!

  • Big First Half for US Beef Exports; Pork Ahead of 2017 Pace

    U.S. Meat Export Federation Strong June results capped a huge first half of 2018 for U.S. beef exports, according to data released by USDA and compiled by the U.S. Meat Export Federation. June pork exports were lower than a year ago for the second consecutive month, but first-half volume and value remained ahead of last year’s pace.

    Beef muscle cut exports set a new volume record in June of 90,745 metric tons, up 15 percent from a year ago. When adding variety meat (organs), total beef export volume was 115,718 metric tons, up 6 percent, valued at $718.4 million, which is up 19 percent year over year and only slightly below the record total of $722.1 million reached in May.

    First-half exports set a record pace in both volume and value as international customers bought a larger share of U.S. beef production at higher prices, indicating strong demand. Export volume was up 9 percent from a year ago to 662,875 metric tons while export value was just over $4 billion, up 21 percent. In previous years, export value never topped the $4 billion mark before August.

    “It’s remarkable to think that as recently as 2010, beef exports for the entire year totaled $4 billion, and now that milestone has been reached in just six months,” said Dan Halstrom, export federation president and CEO. “This should be a source of great pride for the beef industry, which has remained committed to expanding exports even when facing numerous obstacles. And with global demand hitting on all cylinders, there is plenty of room for further growth.”

    After setting a new record in April, pork export volume has trended lower the past two months, mainly due to lower exports to China and Hong Kong.

    June exports totaled 191,303 metric tons, down 4.5 percent from a year ago, despite a slight increase in muscle cut exports. June export value was $510.4 million, down 3 percent.

    But for the first half of 2018, pork export volume was still 2 percent ahead of last year’s record pace at 1.27 million metric tons, while value increased 5 percent to $3.36 billion. For pork muscle cuts only, first-half exports were up 6 percent year over year in both volume and value.

    “Pork exports — and especially variety meats — face a very challenging environment in China/ Hong Kong due not only to retaliatory duties, but also because of increasing domestic production in China,” Halstrom said. “On the positive side, exports are achieving solid growth in most other markets and reached new heights in destinations such as Korea and Latin America. So there is no time to dwell on factors the U.S. industry cannot control. We must continue to find new opportunities in both established and emerging markets.”

    On April 2, the import duty on U.S. pork and pork variety meats entering China increased from 12 percent to 37 percent. On July 6, the rate increased to 62 percent.

    Mexico imposed a 10 percent retaliatory duty on U.S. pork muscle cuts (variety meats are excluded) on June 5 and increased the rate to 20 percent on July 5. Pork sausages and prepared hams entering Mexico are subject to duties of 15 percent and 20 percent, respectively, which took effect June 5. First-half export results reflect the first round of duties imposed by China and Mexico, but not the higher rates that took effect in July.

    Asian Markets Lead the Way

    Beef exports to leading market Japan continued to climb in June, totaling 31,147 metric tons, up 13 percent from a year ago and valued at $193.1 million, up 11 percent.

    June exports to South Korea were up 46 percent from a year ago in volume and set another new value record at $154.8 million, up 68 percent.

    For January through June, other highlights for U.S. beef exports include:

    • Despite trending lower in June, first half exports to Mexico were up 2 percent from a year ago in volume at 117,524 metric tons and up 10 percent in value at $506.7 million. Mexico is the leading destination for U.S. beef variety meat exports, which increased 8 percent from a year ago in value despite a 6 percent decline in volume.

    • Exports to China/Hong Kong increased 15 percent in volume at 65,345 metric tons and 43 percent in value at $510.8 million. Although China’s duty rate increase on U.S. beef didn’t take effect until July 6, June exports slowed in part because of rising uncertainty as China’s proposed retaliatory tariff list that included U.S. beef was published in April.

    • Beef exports to Taiwan continue to soar, as first-half volume increased 32 percent from a year ago to 26,865 metric tons and value was up 39 percent to $249.7 million. The United States capBig First Half for US Beef Exports; Pork Ahead of 2017 Pace tured 74 percent of Taiwan’s chilled beef market, the highest market share of any Asian destination.

    • Strong growth in Colombia helped push firsthalf exports to South America higher than a year ago, up 2 percent in volume at 14,030 metric tons and climbing 20 percent in value at $63.9 million. Export value to Chile and Peru also increased despite volumes dipping below last year. Although Ecuador’s still a small market, exports there (600 metric tons) were the largest since 2013.

    • Beef exports to Southeast Asia slowed in June but still posted year-over-year gains in the first half, up 6 percent in volume and 24 percent in value. This region — especially Indonesia and the Philippines — is an important destination for beef variety meat exports, which climbed 27 percent in value to $13.1 million.

    • Fueled by sharply higher exports to Guatemala, Costa Rica and Panama, first-half volume to Central America increased 27 percent from a year ago to 6,942 metric tons, valued at $38.8 million.

    Tariffs, Uncertainty Challenge U.S. Pork

    As noted above, a 10 percent duty on most U.S. pork entering Mexico took effect June 5, contributing to a slowdown in June volume. Export value fell 16 percent to $105.1 million.

    “USMEF is working closely with Mexico’s major processors and other key customers to reemphasize the advantages of fresh U.S. pork as we work to assist U.S. suppliers in solidifying as much business as possible in this critical market,” Halstrom said. “USMEF feels strongly that exports to Mexico could set another new volume record in 2018, though export value will likely be lower due to the retaliatory duties. We remain hopeful that duty-free access to Mexico will be restored soon, as competitors are now targeting a market that U.S. pork has dominated for many years, and the duties are contributing to lower prices for U.S. producers and adding costs for customers in Mexico.”

    Pork exports to the China/Hong Kong region were already projected to be lower in 2018 due to China’s higher hog production, but the additional 25 percent tariff imposed on April 2 (imported pork still enters Hong Kong duty-free) intensified this trend. First half exports to China/Hong Kong were 21 percent below last year’s pace in volume at 216,008 metric tons and down 9 percent in value to $507.2 million. June exports were hit especially hard, declining 37 percent from a year ago in volume and 19 percent in value.

    January-June highlights for U.S. pork exports include:

    • June exports to leading value market Japan were 5 percent higher than a year ago in volume at 31,773 metric tons and increased 6 percent in value to $131.9 million.

    • Exports to South Korea posted an outstanding first half, climbing 42 percent in volume to 134,190 metric tons and 49 percent in value to $386.5 million. Korea’s per-capita pork consumption continues to expand rapidly, and U.S. pork is capturing a larger share of Korea’s imports.

    • Fueled by strong growth in Colombia and Peru, first-half exports to South America jumped 29 percent from a year ago in volume at 62,314 metric tons and 26 percent in value to $153.5 million. Plant and product registration requirements for exporting pork to Argentina were finalized in late June, so the Argentine market could add further momentum for U.S. pork in the second half of the year.

    • Following a record performance in 2017, pork exports to Central America surged 20 percent higher in both volume and value. While Honduras and Guatemala are this region’s mainstay markets, exports to all seven Central American nations achieved double-digit growth in the first half of 2018.

    • Exports to the Dominican Republic, which were also record-large in 2017, increased 16 percent in both volume and value ($49.5 million) in the first half of the year. For the Caribbean region, exports were up 11 percent in both volume and value.

    • Led by the Philippines and Vietnam, first-half exports to Southeast Asia increased 16 percent in volume and 21 percent in value ($71.2 million). The Philippines is an especially important destination for pork variety meat exports when shipments to China are declining, and first half variety meat volume to the Philippines climbed 64 percent from a year ago.

    • With the tariff situation in Mexico, Oceania is an increasingly important destination for U.S. hams and other cuts destined for further processing. First-half exports to Australia were 7 percent higher than a year ago in volume at 39,031 metric tons and increased 9 percent in value to $113.7 million. Exports to New Zealand increased 15 percent in volume and 17 percent in value.

    Lamb Exports Continue to Climb

    June exports of U.S. lamb were the largest of 2018 in both volume at 1,016 metric tons, up 58 percent from a year ago, and value at $2.2 million, up 26 percent, pushing first-half exports 46 percent ahead of last year’s pace. Stronger variety meat demand in Mexico accounted for much of this growth, but muscle cut exports trended higher in the Caribbean, the United Arab Emirates, Canada, Singapore, the Philippines and Taiwan. Exports should receive an additional boost in the second half of the year from Japan, which reopened to U.S. lamb on July 11.

    Article courtesy of Lancaster Farming.

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  • Ladybug, Where Have You Gone?

    Aphid Fighters Tend to Roam

    Dean Fosdick - Associated Press

    To some casual observers, ladybugs (or lady beetles) are colorful symbols of good luck — harbingers of fortune and fame. Gardeners value them for their utility as ravenous insects that prey upon plant pests. They buy them by the hundreds online or from garden centers, and then free them to hunt.

    But many entomologists believe that commercially sold ladybugs are inefficient for biological pest control, and that they introduce disease-carrying pathogens to their wild counterparts. They also fear that field-gathering the dormant insects by the millions shrinks the population available to farmers, prompting heavier pesticide use.

    The Xerces Society for Invertebrate Conservation, a pollina- tor preservation group in Portland, Oregon, doesn’t recommend buying or releasing non-native lady beetles, especially for yards and gardens, said Scott Black, the organization’s execu- tive director.

    “Not only do they not really work — there are lots of poten- tial negative implications for beetles where they are collected and where they are released,” Black said. Many lady beetle species overwinter in large numbers in California’s Sierra Nevada.

    “In the spring, adults fly down from the mountains to the valley and coastal areas where they play an important role in controlling plant pests,” Xerces says. “Large quantities of lady beetles (in the genus Hippodamia) are collected every year at overwinter sites in the Sierra Nevada and sold commercially.”

    While it may be cheap to buy a bag or more of ladybugs to patrol residential landscapes, it’s difficult if not impossible to keep these miniature mercenaries from wandering. Adult beetles need to migrate before they start feeding or laying eggs, so they quickly head to parts unknown when released.

    Whitney Cranshaw, a professor and Extension entomologist with Colorado State University, has released lady beetles into his greenhouse several times to feed on aphid-infested plants, only to report negative results.

    “Twenty-four hours later I can find about six in the greenhouse after releasing a bag of 1,500,” Cranshaw said. “Which means 1,494 largely vanished somewhere in that period. And I do not see any laying eggs for a few weeks.”

    Mature ladybugs will feed on 20 to 25 aphids per day, but their late-stage larvae will consume 10 times that number, making them far more effective predators, he said.

    When improving habitat in your yard or garden, add plants that appeal to beneficial insects as they phase through all of their successive life cycles, Cranshaw said.

    Learn how to identify the insects as they mature. “Don’t kill them just because you don’t recognize them,” he said, a reference to the fierce-looking ladybug larvae.

    While ladybugs are collected almost exclusively in the wild, most other predatory insects sold commercially are reared in insectaries, Cranshaw said.

    “Praying mantises are popular, but I’m not high on them, either,” he said. “They’re generalists and will eat anything out there, including bees and butterflies.”

    Cranshaw suggests using green lacewings, predatory midges and parasitic wasps for insect control. Look up “beneficial insectaries” for suppliers. “Sometimes we’re simply too trigger-happy,” Black said. “We’re trying to control things we don’t really need to control.

    Sometimes all you have to do is spray pests like aphids and spider mites off (with water) or use some insecticidal soap.

    “Be more attuned to natural systems,” he said.

    Article courtesy of Lancaster Farming.

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