Crumbling Inland Waterway System Puts Farmers, Consumers at Risk PDF Print E-mail
News Releases - Agribusiness
Written by United Soybean Board   
Tuesday, 24 January 2012 10:07

Soybean checkoff study finds that United States could lose global competitiveness

ST. LOUIS (Jan. 24, 2012) – Deteriorating condition of the U.S. lock and dam system puts the competiveness of U.S. soybean farmers at risk according to a study funded by the United Soybean Board’s (USB’s) and the soybean checkoff’s Global Opportunities (GO) program. Entitled “America’s Locks & Dams: A Ticking Time Bomb for Agriculture,” the in-depth examination coordinated by the Soy Transportation Coalition (STC) found American farmers and consumers “…will suffer severe economic distress” if catastrophic U.S. lock or dam failures take place.

More than half of the structures that are part of the U.S. inland waterway system for river barge shipping exceed their 50-year usable lifespan, according to the soybean checkoff-funded report. More than one-third surpass 70 years of age, a concern because major rehabilitation is usually necessary to expand the typical lifespan from 50 to 75 years, according to the study.

“The GO committee invested in this study to calculate the impact of the worsening condition of the lock and dam system and what the impact would be on the rail and highway system if those locks failed,” says Laura Foell, soybean farmer from Schaller, Iowa, and chair of the GO committee. “It is important for all in the industry and in the public sector to have the information necessary to make informed decisions when it comes to investing in our locks and dams.”

Just on the Ohio River alone, the accumulated shipping delays at broken-down locks has more than tripled since 2000, rising from 25,000 hours to 80,000 annually. And that gets expensive. This study shows that a three-month lock closure would increase the cost of transporting 5.5 million tons of oilseeds and grain, the average shipped by barge during that period, by $71.6 million. A failure at any of the locks examined by the study could cost U.S. farmers up to $45 million in lost revenue.

The U.S. inland waterways represent key infrastructure for transporting U.S. soybeans. Up to 89 percent of soybeans exported through the lower Mississippi ports, such as the Port of New Orleans, arrive at those ports in barges that must transit multiple locks for the trip downstream.

The study, conducted by the Texas Transportation Institute at Texas A&M University, examined the condition of locks on the Upper Mississippi River, Illinois River and Ohio River. The study also calculated the economic impact of specific lock failures on districts within states, showing the effect on agricultural commodity prices—and on fertilizer and coal prices, which also depend on upstream river barge shipping.

“It is important that we have a robust transportation system,” adds Foell. “Only by using a combination of the lock and dam system, rail system and truck system can we continue to move our products in a manner that will help us feed the world.”

The USB GO program and STC, which is made up of USB, the American Soybean Association and 11 state soybean checkoff boards, plan to examine new and different ways to fund lock and dam and other rural transportation infrastructure improvements. USB made public and private investment in transportation infrastructure one of its top two priority issues.

USB is made up of 69 farmer-directors who oversee the investments of the soybean checkoff on behalf of all U.S. soybean farmers. Checkoff funds are invested in the areas of animal utilization, human utilization, industrial utilization, industry relations, market access and supply. As stipulated in the Soybean Promotion, Research and Consumer Information Act, USDA’s Agricultural Marketing Service has oversight responsibilities for USB and the soybean checkoff.

For more information on the United Soybean Board, visit
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News Releases - Agribusiness
Written by Heather Lilienthal   
Monday, 23 January 2012 13:25

WEST DES MOINES, IOWA –Jan. 20, 2012 – As farmers’ costs of production increase, risk management tools, including crop insurance and marketing decisions, are vital to the success of their operations. The Iowa Farm Bureau Federation’s (IFBF) Margin Management webinar series highlights these topics and tools at its next webinar offered Wednesday, Feb. 8, from 1-2 p.m. at

The free, live webinar features Ed Kordick, IFBF commodity services manager, and William Edwards, Iowa State University professor of economics.

“In these volatile times, risk management is more important than ever. Farmers need to understand their options as they look forward to marketing and protecting that next crop,” said Kordick. “The webinar will address the changes for 2012 in crop insurance, which is a main component in crop risk management.   We will also discuss how crop insurance can be used to enable farmers to be more confident in marketing the crop before harvest.”

Participants can pre-register and access the free webinar at For more information, contact Kordick at This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it or 515-225-5433. The seminar will be recorded and available on the IFBF website,, starting the following day, for Farm Bureau members to view the information on their farm/home computer.


About Iowa Farm Bureau

The Iowa Farm Bureau Federation is a grassroots, statewide organization dedicated to enhancing the People, Progress and Pride of Iowa.  More than 153,000 families in Iowa are Farm Bureau members, working together to achieve farm and rural prosperity.  For more information about Farm Bureau and agriculture, visit the online media center at

Heifer Development Series Focuses on Reproductive Technologies PDF Print E-mail
News Releases - Agribusiness
Written by Amanda Heitz   
Monday, 23 January 2012 13:11

With the cow herd at its lowest level since 1973, drought in the southern range states and optimism for increased export demand, the stage is set for heifer retention increases into the next few years. To aid in this process, Iowa Beef Center (IBC), Iowa State University (ISU) Extension and Outreach and the Iowa Cattlemen’s Association are working together to host a series of heifer clinics over the next few weeks.

The series focuses on currently available technologies and management to increase productivity and longevity of heifers. Specific topics include health protocols, ration recommendations, heifer development budgets, AI practices and synchronization recommendations, and reducing calving difficulties. Ultrasound demonstration and Q&A also are part of each session.

Cost is $15 per person which includes resource materials and meal. Contact and registration information is included for each location. Preregister by date shown for the desired location to ensure adequate material and meal count.

Session dates, times, locations

Jan. 25, Rockwell City, Expo Building at Calhoun County Fairgrounds, 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.  Register by Jan. 18 by calling 712-297-8611 (snow date Feb. 1).

Jan. 26, Iowa Falls, Ellsworth College Equestrian Center, 6 p.m. Register by Jan. 18 by calling 641-923-2856.

Feb. 6, Spencer, Clay County Regional Events Center at Clay County Fairgrounds, 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Register by Jan. 30 by calling 712-262-2264 (snow date Feb. 8).

Feb. 7, Postville, Postville Vet Clinic, noon to 4 p.m. Register by Feb. 1 by calling 319-472-7939.

Feb. 7, Richland, Keokuk County (formerly Richland) Veterinary Clinic, 6 p.m. Register by Feb. 1 by calling 641-472-4166.

Feb. 7, Stuart, Stuart Vet Clinic, 6 p.m. Register by Feb. 1 by calling 641-203-1270.

Feb. 9, Chariton, ISU McNay farm, 6 p.m. Register by Feb. 1 by calling 641-203-1270.

Feb. 9, Maquoketa, Jackson County Extension office, noon to 4 p.m. Register by Feb. 1 by calling 319-472-7939.

Feb. 9, Bloomfield, Bloomfield Livestock Auction, 6 p.m. Register by Feb. 1 by calling 641-472-4166.

A listing of all series session dates, times, locations and contact information also is available on the IBC website.

Additional series sponsors are ABS Global, Accelerated Genetics, Elanco Animal Health, Genex, Hawkeye Breeders Service, Innovative Ag Services, Land O'Lakes-Purina, Nichols Cryo-Genetics, Pfizer Animal Health, Quality Liquid Feeds, Select Sires and Stuart Veterinary Clinic-Ultrasound Services.

Site specific sponsors are Collison Embryo, Collison Veterinary Services, Innovative Ag Services, Maquoketa Embryos, Novartis Animal Health, Postville Vet Clinic, Spencer Ag Center LLC, Spencer Livestock Sales, and Valley Veterinary Center, PLC.


ISU Extension and Outreach Scott County Calendar PDF Print E-mail
News Releases - Agribusiness
Written by Amanda Heitz   
Monday, 23 January 2012 13:08

February 8, 2012 - Commercial Ag Weed, Insect, & Plant Disease CIC, Scott County Extension Office – 9:00a.m.

February 22, 2012 - Seed Treatment CIC, Scott County Extension Office – 9:00 a.m.

February 28, 2012 - ISU Scott County Extension Council Meeting, Scott County Extension Office – 7:00 p.m.

March 8, 2012 - Ornamental & Turf Applicators CIC, Scott County Extension Office – 1:30 p.m.

March 14, 2012 - Certified Handlers CIC, Scott County Extension Office – 9;00 a.m.

March 23, 2012 - Women In Agriculture (Overall Women), I Wireless Center, Moline (More info to come)

March 30, 2012 - Commercial & Private Pesticide Applicator Testing, Scott County Extension Office – 10:00 a.m.-2:00 p.m.

Visit our events calendar at our web site:

Agriculture Secretary Vilsack Announces Support for a New Advanced Biofuel Production Facility PDF Print E-mail
News Releases - Agribusiness
Written by USDA Communications Office   
Monday, 23 January 2012 13:07
Iowa-Based Project will Create Jobs, Expand Production of Biofuels

WASHINGTON, Jan. 20, 2012 - Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack today announced that USDA has approved a conditional commitment for a $25 million guaranteed loan to build a biorefinery plant with funding support from USDA's Biorefinery Assistance Program. The plant will be constructed by Fiberight, LLC based in Blairstown, Iowa.

"This project is another step the Obama administration is taking to support production of a new generation of renewable fuels, in order to build an active biofuels and biomass production industry in every region of the country," said Vilsack. "Investments in renewable energy create jobs and reduce America's dependence on foreign oil."

USDA funding will be used to construct a 55,000 square foot facility that will produce cellulosic ethanol by converting municipal solid waste and other industrial pulps into advanced biofuels, as well as using conventional renewable biofuel derived from seed corn waste. When operational, the facility is expected to produce approximately 3.6 million gallons of cellulosic ethanol per year. The process will use a cellulosic microbe to produce up to 15 percent more ethanol than traditional fermentation technology, and reduce energy inputs in the fermentation and distillation process. Fiberight estimates the project will create 38 jobs and save 16 jobs.

Under the conditional commitment, Fiberight must meet specified conditions before the loan guarantee can be completed. Other funding comes from the State of Iowa.Fiberight also received a $2.5 million grant from the Iowa Power Fund in 2010. The company will work with the Benton County landfill to supply a portion of the feedstock for the project. The total project cost is estimated at $59.5 million. Fiberight, LLC was incorporated in 2007 for the purpose of converting an existing ethanol facility into a cellulosic ethanol facility in Blairstown.

This funding is an example of the many ways that USDA is helping revitalize rural economies to create opportunities for growth and prosperity, support innovative technologies, identify new markets for agricultural producers, and better utilize our nation's natural resources.

The Obama Administration is working to promote domestic production of renewable energy to create jobs, reduce our dependence on foreign oil, combat global warming, and build stronger rural economy. Today, Americans import just over half of our transportation fuels – down from 60 percent when President Obama took office – but we can do more to meet the President's goal of reducing our net fuel imports by one-third by 2025. At Secretary Vilsack's direction, USDA is working to develop the national biofuels industry producing energy from non-food sources in every region of the country. USDA is conducting and encouraging research into innovative new energy technologies and processes, helping companies build biorefineries – including the first ever commercial-scale cellulosic ethanol facilities – and supporting farmers, ranchers, and businesses taking risks to pursue new opportunities in biofuels. Along with Federal partners, USDA is establishing an aviation biofuels economy, and have expedited rules and efforts to promote production and commercialization of biofuels.

USDA's Biorefinery Assistance Program was authorized by Congress under the 2008 Farm Bill. It provides loan guarantees to capitalize on the growing opportunities in renewable energy provided by advanced biofuels. The Program is designed to assist with the commercial deployment of production technologies to produce advanced biofuels, and thereby increase the energy independence of the United States; promote resource conservation, public health, and the environment; diversify markets for agricultural and forestry products and agriculture waste material; create jobs and enhance the economic development of the rural economy.

To read more about the Administration's renewable energy accomplishments, click here.

USDA, through its Rural Development mission area, administers and manages more than 40 housing, business and community infrastructure and facility programs through a national network of employees in the nation's capital and state and local offices. These programs are designed to improve the economic stability of rural communities, businesses, residents, farmers and ranchers and improve the quality of life in rural America.


USDA is an equal opportunity provider, employer and lender. To file a complaint of discrimination, write: USDA, Director, Office of Civil Rights, 1400 Independence Avenue, SW, Washington, DC 20250-9410 or call (800) 795-3272 (voice), or (202) 720-6382 (TDD).


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