Wednesday, December 9, 2015

U of I Extension Food Safety Training for School Lunch Program

U of I Extension Food Safety Training for School Lunch Program
Jennifer McCaffrey, Family and Consumer Sciences - University of Illinois Extension


The Illinois State Board of Education has awarded four and half million dollars to University of Illinois Extension. The money will be used to help with the state’s school lunch program. Todd Gleason has more on how Extension plans to improve health and nutrition for nearly two million school aged kids.

The State Board of Education will use…
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The State Board of Education will use University of Illinois Extension to provide foodservice training and education to about 4000 school lunchrooms. Family & Consumer Sciences educators will create and deliver training on child nutrition standards and the cafeteria environment. The four-and-a-half-milion-dollar, three year effort starts in January with a monthly webinar series. A web training portal will follow in March. Schools interested in training can also contact Extension for onsite customized sessions and technical assistance says University of Illinois’ Jennifer McCaffrey.

McCaffrey : …to assist the food service staff.
Quote Summary - Because our staff are spread out across the state we can work with schools in their local area. So, we will be able to provide training onsite as well as provide technical assistance to the food service staff.
McCaffrey is Assistant Dean for Family and Consumer Sciences and says research shows kids make healthier choices when food is prepared and presented in an appealing way.

Mc Caffrey :34 …consequently eat it.
Quote Summary - All of us, including children in a school cafeteria setting, often start eating with our eyes. What looks good, what looks appealing, is what we want to put on our plate and that is where it all starts. If fruits and vegetables are shiny and out front and center catching our eye, students are more likely to eat them. This is what we want. When the food looks good and more appealing they are more likely to put it on their plate and then to consequently eat it.
This is really important because about half of the one-point-nine million Illinois kids that eat school lunches are eligible for free or reduced-price lunches, and USDA research shows kids that eat lunch from the school tend to consume more nutritious foods than those that do not. U of I Extension over the next three years will help Illinois schools build even better more nutritious menus and to put those items right out front for healthier kids.

Tuesday, December 8, 2015

Ethanol Production & 2016 Corn Consumption Prospects

Ethanol Production & 2016 Corn Consumption Prospects
Darrel Good, Agricultural Economist - University of Illinois


Commodity traders are generally thinking last week’s EPA RFS rule making will cause more bushels of corn to be turned into ethanol next year. Todd Gleason reports University of Illinois Agricultural Economist Darrel Good is more doubtful.

Let’s start by building a corn for ethanol baseline…
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Let’s start by building a corn for ethanol baseline to see why. The EIA, the U.S. Energy Information Administration, says U.S. production of fuel ethanol in 2014 totaled 14 billion 313 million gallons. That was about a billion gallons more than in 2013, and nearly 400 million gallons more than the record setting year of 2011. So, 14.313 billion gallons of ethanol were produced in 2014. During the first nine months of this year, writes Darrel Good on the Farm Doc Daily website, EIA shows production 3.6 percent larger than during the same 9 months last year. It appears October and November were on that same track, and while December looks to be off a bit, it should leave the yearly consumption at a whooping and record setting 14.745 billion gallons says U of I’s Good.

Good :21 …use corn as a feedstock.

Quote Summary - Production at that level will require about 5.25 billion bushels of feedstock, mostly corn, for conventional ethanol production in 2015.

So the baseline is big, but let’s start back figuring for 2016 corn usage to make ethanol. U.S. EPA just released biofuels volumes for 2016. Those standards point to conventional ethanol consumption of 14.5 billion gallons for 2016. It’s about a 500 million gallon year-to-year increase says Good, however there is a second related factor. That factor is the blend wall, or how much gasoline is actually consumed in the United States .

Good :40 …from that nearly 14 billion gallons.

Quote Summary - Based on EIA projections, consumption is expected to increase from 139.38 billion gallons in 2015 to 139.96 billion gallons in 2016. That expected increase of 580 million gallons follows an expected increase of 2.9 billion gallons in 2015. The conventional ethanol mandate of 14.5 billion gallons, then, reflects an expected small increase in the E–10 blend wall and a “push” to include larger quantities of higher ethanol blends (E–15 and E–85) in the domestic fuel supply. If the 2016 gasoline consumption forecast is correct, the E–10 blend wall will be 13.996 billion gallons.

Now, since some gasoline is consumed without ethanol and some with higher ethanol blends, the effective E–10 blend wall is actually thought to be 9.9 percent of consumption or 13.856 billion gallons. Here’s the back figure. Subtract from this number imported ethanol, add in a few additional E85 gallons, and total 2016 consumption of conventional ethanol says Darrel Good is not roughly 500 million gallons more than this year, but rather about the same as this year - though that 500 million gallon gap will still have to be filled.

Good :58 …will have to meet the rest of it with advanced fuels.

Quote Summary - The difference between the RFS requirement of 14.5 billion gallons and the projected consumption of 13.903 billion gallons (597 million gallons) would have to be met with some combination of retirement of RINs stocks, additional quantities of E–85, or blending of additional quantities of advanced biofuels.

This outcome is very different from the initial reaction that an increase in the implied conventional ethanol requirement from the preliminary to final rule making for 2016 of 500 million gallons would result in a measurable increase in feedstock - corn - consumption.

Friday, December 4, 2015

4 Step Weed Control Plan for Corn or Soybeans

4 Step Weed Control Plan for Corn or Soybeans
Aaron Hager, Extension Weed Scientist - Univeristy of Illinois


Since the 1960’s farmers have been using herbicides to control weeds. Frankly, herbicide formulations haven’t changed that much and the weeds have managed to find ways to adapt. Todd Gleason has this four step plan from the Univesity of Illinois to control them in corn or soybeans.

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Some weeds have become resistant to the herbicides farmers use to control them. Others have lengthened their germination period, emerging later in the season, avoiding early spring control methods. University of Illinois Extension Weed Scientist Aaron Hager has a four step plan farmers can use to maintain a competitive edge in corn or soybeans. It starts by planting into a weed free seedbed.

Hager :22 …vegetation without adequate control ahead of time.
Quote Summary - It is easy to achieve a weed free seedbed by either replant tillage, burndown herbicide or a combination of those two. Given the challenges of weather and of resistant populations it is advisable not to plant into existing weed populations or any green vegetation without adequate control ahead of time.
Step two in the plan is to select an appropriate residual herbicide. Be sure it provides very good control of the most problematic weed species in a given field. Pay attention to the label, says Hager, and always apply the recommended rate for the spectrum of weeds in the field.

Hager :28 …timely application of a post herbicide.

Quote Summary - The third step is to make timely post emergence applications. Base those on just not the number of calendar days after planting, but rather base those post decision on adequate scouting. So, return to the fields about two weeks after crop emergence. Scout the fields and determine the weed size, crop development stage and make the decision on a timely application of a post herbicide.

The final and fourth step is to go back to the field seven to ten days later and evaluate how well the post emergence herbicide application worked. It may be that another germination of a weed species warrants a second application. This won’t be know without a return trip.

Hager :13 …significant challenges later in the growing season
If we fail to go back and look at how well the product performed, or the level of crop injury we see soon after that application, we could have some very significant challenges later in the growing season.
The days of set-it-and-forget weed control have ended. Todays farmers must scout fields for competitive weeds before during and after the growing season.

Thursday, December 3, 2015

EPA's RFS Decision will push Biodiesel Usage

EPA’s RFS Decision will push Biodiesel Usage
Scott Irwin, Agricultural Economist - University of Illinois


The United States Environmental Protection Agency is beginning to comply with the letter of the law as it pertains to biofuels. Todd Gleason reports this could be a boon for biodiesel made from soybeans.

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EPA this week announced it would force oil companies to find more ways to use renewable fuels. This is something the oil industry has resisted saying it was too difficult to use much more than the ten percent ethanol blend already found in gasoline. This is called the blend wall and is actually less than the total number of gallons of renewable fuels congress mandated be used in 2016 when it originally wrote the law.

Since not all cars can burn greater than 10 percent ethanol in gasoline, and the amount of gasoline used in the United States is less than the renewable fuels mandate required by law, there is a renewable fuels gap left…something like a billion and half gallons. EPA hasn’t moved to force oil companies, yet, to find a new ways to fill that whole gap, but it closed it up big time and that’ll leave companies scrambling says University of Illinois Agricultural Economist Scott Irwin.

Irwin :10 …be higher ethanol blends, E15 or E85 or biodiesel.

Quote Summary - And so, the really interesting question is what will fill the gap. Will it be higher ethanol blends, E15 or E85 or biodiesel.

There’s an easy answer to this question says Irwin.

Irwin :52 …get more biodiesel with soybean oil and other animal fats.

Quote Summary - At least for the next couple of years, biodiesel. Soybean oil prices since the low last August are up 25% and soybean prices are up just 3%. And meal has tanked over that same time period. One way or another it is beneficial to ag. Either I’m wrong and you get more ethanol in the form of E85 or you get more biodiesel with soybean oil and other animal fats.

The market is and has been for sometime forecasting the next winner in the biofuels industry and it appears at this point to be biodiesel made mostly from the soybean.

Wednesday, December 2, 2015

An Early Jump on Computing ARC-CO Payments

An Early Jump on Computing ARC-CO Payments
Gary Schnitkey, Agricultural Economist - University of Illinois
FarmDocDaily Source Article


Farmers and their bankers can get a jump on just how much income to expect from the ARC County program next fall. Todd Gleason has more on how NASS county yields can be used to anticipate the payments.

Farm income is down dramatically…
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Farm income is down dramatically. It means farmers will be going to bankers for production loans this winter. Those loans will be used to plant next season’s crops. The bankers will be looking for every clue they can to help them make solid lending decisions. One source of income they’ll want to calculate comes from the farm programs. However, the ARC County payments won’t be figured until the fall. It is possible to estimate these payments by substituting NASS county yields for the FSA computed yields says University of Illinois Agricultural Economist Gary Schnitkey.

Schnitkey :41 …county yields will look like.

Quote Summary - So, there are likely to be 2015 ARC County payments, but this will depend upon county yield levels. FSA calculates those yields, but not until the autumn of 2016. However, we can use NASS yields to come up with a pretty good estimate of the FSA county yields. NASS will release its yields in February of this year. This will give us a pretty good feel for the 2015 ARC County payments because we’ll have a pretty good ideas of what the FSA county yields will look like.

NASS county yields do vary from the FSA numbers, but not by much. NASS calculates yields by dividing production by harvested acres. These are both numbers the agency collects via a statistical estimate. FSA uses a different calculation says Schnitkey.

Schnitkey :12 …will always be less than NASS yields.

Quote Summary - FSA does the same thing when NASS data exists, but it adds to acres the RMA failed acres. So, FSA yields will always be less than NASS yields.

Again, because FSA adds failed acres into the calculation the resulting yields are less than the NASS county yield averages. It means the NASS county yields, again those will be released in February, will provide a conservative estimate of the ARC County payment.

Schnitkey :14 …depends on the number of failed acres.

Quote Summary - If they use the NASS yield they’ll most likely be underestimating the payment because usually FSA yields are bit lower than NASS yields. It depends on the number of failed acres.

Again FSA yields are lower than NASS county yields because production is divided by harvested and failed acres, not just the harvested acreage figure used by NASS. There is an Illinois state map of the average county difference on the FarmDocDaily website.

Tuesday, December 1, 2015

FEFO - An Early Jump on Computing ARC-CO Payments

FEFO - An Early Jump on Computing ARC-CO Payments
Gary Schnitkey, Agricultural Economist - University of Illinois

The Farm Service Agency (FSA) computes county yields used in calculating Agricultural Risk Coverage—County Option (ARC-CO) payments. FSA yields differ from county yields released by the National Agricultural Statistical Service (NASS). While different, NASS yields will be useful in estimating 2015 ARC-CO payments when they are released in late February 2016. FSA likely will not release FSA yields until autumn of 2016. Many farmers, lenders, and landowners will desire payment estimates before the autumn. In many cases, NASS yields can be used to arrive at realistic estimates of ARC-CO payments. To aid in ARC-CO payment estimation, the average differences between FSA and NASS yields are reported in this article for corn in Illinois counties.