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Articles from 2017 In September

Seeger FFA

Orion Samuelson profiles Seeger FFA, West Lebanon, Ind., chartered in 1960 with 55 members. Member Hanah Wolf talks about how she contributes to her chapter; and the work done by the organization.

The weekly FFA Chapter Tribute is an opportunity to shine a spotlight on the good work of your local chapter. Tell us about what you're doing, give us some history from your group and tell our viewers of the work you do in the community. FFA chapters across the country deserve recognition for the work they do, make sure we include yours.

To have your chapter considered for this weekly feature, send along information about your group by e-mail to Orion Samuelson at or to Max Armstrong at They'll get your group on the list of those that will be covered in the future. It's a chance to share your story beyond the local community. Drop Orion or Max a "line" soon.

The National FFA Organization, formerly known as Future Farmers of America, is a national youth organization of about 650,000 student members as part of 7,757 local FFA chapters. The National FFA Organization remains committed to the individual student, providing a path to achievement in premier leadership, personal growth and career success through agricultural education. For more, visit the National FFA Organization online, on Facebook at, on Twitter at

Send us your story

Got a tractor that you think Max Armstrong should feature in Max's Tractor Shed? It's pretty easy, and Max offers some tips in this week's installment.

Max's Tractor Shed is a regular feature of This Week in Agribusiness. Max Armstrong shares information about legacy machines, their stories and how they may still be at work today. If you have a tractor you want featured in Max's Tractor Shed, send a high-resolution digital picture, your contact information, and information about the tractor - what makes it special - to

This Week in Agribusiness, September 30, 2017

Part 1

Note: The video automatically plays through all show parts once you start.

Orion Samuelson and Max Armstrong open this week's show with a look at harvest as Max visits Kansas and Illinois. Chad Colby also offers a harvest report. And Farm Broadcaster Ron Hayes, Radio Oklahoma Network, Oklahoma City, Okla., discusses key issues impacting farmers in that part of the country including the start of winter planting.

Part 2

Orion Samuelson and Max Armstrong talk markets with Steve Georgy, Allendale, Inc., including how weather is impacting the 2017 crop. In Samuelson Sez, Orion Samuelson offers his annual talk about a key safety issue – the use of the slow-moving vehicle emblem; and he shares the need for a working fire extinguisher on combines. And Agricultural Meteorologist Greg Soulje looks at weather for the Western United States.

Part 3

Jamie Johansen reports from the Ohio Farm Science Review with a look at how Ohio State University provides growers key research information. Patrick Haggerty reports on a Farm Foundation forum that looked at keeping U.S. agriculture competitive on a global basis, including ag research support. 

Part 4

Max Armstrong talks tires with Tony Orlando, president, Firestone Ag Tires, and he discusses the value of that on-machine rubber to farmers; and the support network the company offers. Ag Meteorologist Greg Soulje looks at weather for the Western United States. And in Max's Tractor Shed, Max Armstrong offers some tips for farmers to send in their information to be featured in this special segment. And the key is sending those good photos to

Part 5

Orion Samuelson and Max Armstrong continue their marketing conversation with Steve Georgy, Allendale, Inc.

Part 6

Orion Samuelson profiles Seeger FFA, West Lebanon, Ind., chartered in 1960 with 55 members. Member Hanah Wolf talks about how she contributes to her chapter; and the work done by the organization. Greg Soulje offers his look at the weather for the week ahead.

Part 7

Orion Samuelson and Max Armstrong wrap up this week's episode with the first installment of a look at Beef Environmental Stewards. Russell Nemetz offers the first report on Blue Lake Farm in Sharon, South Carolina. And Max Armstrong talks with Cole Walker, Thunder Creek, maker of fuel service trailers.

Slow-moving vehicles

Orion Samuelson offers his annual talk about a key safety issue – the use of the slow-moving vehicle emblem – or SMV. He notes that it must only be applied to a slow-moving vehicle.

Samuelson Sez is a special feature of This Week in Agribusiness where Orion Samuelson shares his insights and perspectives into key issues of the day. You can reach out to Orion at


You don’t see them much on the road any more, but did you know the circus is living on at state fairs? Fairs in Massachusetts, N.C. and Utah say it makes economic sense to have circus rings set up at the fair. They still have clowns.

There’s news out of Dakotas that two big farmer cooperatives that have been competitors there are merging. Both operate in North and South Dakota. Cooperative executives say merger will allow cooperatives to take advantage of efficiencies.

Hugh Hefner playboy club locations – were several in heartland of America. Hefner was born and raised in Chicago. His parents came from small town Nebraska. His parents were said to be proud of his accomplishments, but they didn’t agree with his lifestyle.


Here’s our latest data breach of the day. Whole Foods Market customers who drank and dined in its tap rooms and full service restaurants have been hacked. Those store features are focused in urban locations. Grocery shoppers should not have been impacted.

In many years there’s been little bump in prices around beginning of October. While Chinese are buying, the forecast for rain in Brazil has been keeping prices bearish. Check out this week in agribusiness for more.

Indianapolis – Elli Lily and Co employees were painting the sidewalk with chalk.

Overland Park, Kansas, attacker got more than he bargained for. When he grabbed Stephanie Steiniger’s wrist, the kick-boxing instructor buried her foot right where it hurt. When she was sprinting to a nearby pizza restaurant she heard him moaning in pain. She wears a T-shirt that says strong is the new pretty.

Farm Progress America, September 29, 2017

Max Armstrong shares insight on the "economic reset" that has hit agriculture during the last four years. This long-term financial setback does have producers who are seeing marginal profits, or at least marginalized losses. Dr. David Kohl offers insight on how these producers are surviving.

Farm Progress America is a daily look at key issues in agriculture. It is produced and presented by Max Armstrong, veteran farm broadcaster and host of This Week in Agribusiness.

Photo: Scott Olson/Getty Images

NAFTA renegotiation talks continue

Thinkstock Canada-United States-Mexico flags

The third round of talks on renegotiating the North American Free Trade Agreement concluded this week in Ottawa, with Canadian Minister of Foreign Affairs Chrystia Freeland stating that progress was made “on a number of bread-and-butter trade issues.”

During the negotiations, the United States tabled a proposal to increase trade protections for seasonal and perishable produce. The National Pork Producers Council and most other U.S. agriculture groups oppose the proposal, which likely would provoke America’s NAFTA partners to push for mechanisms that make it easier to restrict U.S. farm exports.

The NPPC continues to press the Trump administration to maintain the current zero-duty market access into Canada and Mexico, emphasizing that U.S. pork cannot be collateral damage in the NAFTA renegotiations.

The next round of talks is set for Oct. 11-15 in Washington, D.C.

Too many deserts in land of plenty

National Pork Board Spiral cut ham as the centerpiece on a table of other side dishes.

America is the land of plenty.

U.S. farmers are the most productive in the world, raising crops and caring for livestock so that the world can eat. Today each farmer feeds about 155 people worldwide, up from a mere 25.8 people in 1960.

American producers are so good at what they do that the agricultural sector relies on the export market for the consumption of the American pork, beef, corn and soybeans. Most recent stats put about 27% of U.S. pork production is exported, and more than 20% of all U.S. ag production ends up in the export market.

Technology and producer practices have helped producers bring in larger yields of crops and livestock with the same or even fewer resources. That production efficiency has enabled Americans to spend less than 10% of their household income on food. Seven other countries in the world are as fortunate as the United States as their consumers also spend less than 10% of their household income on food. Some countries around the globe spend more than 40% of their income on food, even 56% of Nigerians.

America is also the land of the free; which in this sense is not a good thing. With U.S. producers filling the bins and the meat cases, there are still way too many of our own citizens who do not have access to food, living in what have been called food deserts — regions where, for some reasons, consumers are free of access to good, nutritious foods.

According to the Brainerd (Minn.) Dispatch, one such food desert is the White Earth Nation in northern Minnesota, where 90% of the reservation is considered a food desert. According to the article, access to good, nutritious food is incredibly scarce, but junk-food options are readily available in the few convenience stores on the reservation.

White Earth residents are productive, growing and gathering wild rice, honey, maple syrup, corn, beans, squash, potatoes, carrots, berries and venison, but much of the produce is exported because there aren’t enough places for local distribution. The reservation, about 1,000 square miles, has just a few gas stations and a farmers market. White Earth residents need to drive up to 30 miles one way to get a good variety of fruits and vegetables.

This scenario is sadly not uncommon in America. The Economic Research Service defines a food desert, areas of low income and low access to a supermarket, as having a significant number or share of people more than 1 mile from a supermarket in urban areas and more than 10 miles in rural areas. Two years ago it was estimated that 19 million people live in these food deserts.

So, we produce so much food in America, so much that we spend the least amount of our income to buy it. The problem is that not everyone has access to the good, nutritious foods that most of us are spoiled with.

Whenever there is a country in need, Uncle Sam reaches out with his giving hands. It’s time that we look to our neighbors to share the wealth of our bounties. Yes, we rely heavily on the export markets, but there is a void in the domestic market that needs to be filled.

Tax reform effort begins

Getty Images/Joshua Lott President Donald Trump making a speech in front of a U.S. flag

President Trump and the House and Senate Republican leadership unveiled its much anticipated tax reform package this week which lowers the tax rates for individuals and businesses and repeals the death tax. There remains a number of questions still left unanswered as to what happens to various deductions and how do you pay for the tax reform package which is estimated to cost $2.2 billion.

A number of items are left open for the Congress to deal with that affect farmers. The proposal is silent on the issue of cash accounting and on a stepped-up basis provision for capital gains on inherited property. Congress will have to determine if producers will be able to write off interest expenses.

Highlights of the tax reform proposal include:
• Lowers rates for individuals and families: shrinks the current seven tax brackets into three — 12%, 25% and 35% — with the potential for an additional top rate for the highest-income taxpayers to ensure that the wealthy do not contribute a lower share of taxes paid than they do today.
• Doubles the standard deduction and enhances the child tax credit
• Eliminates loopholes: eliminates various itemized deductions used primarily by the wealthy, but retains tax incentives for home mortgage interest and charitable contributions, as well as tax incentives for work, higher education and retirement security.
• Lowers corporate tax: lowers the corporate tax rate to 20%
• Repeals death tax
• Repeals Alternative Minimum Tax
• New lower tax rate and structure for small businesses: Limits the maximum tax rate for small and family-owned businesses to 25%.
• Expensing of capital investments: allows, for at least five years, businesses to immediately write off (or “expense”) the cost of new investments.

KORUS meeting set
The United States and South Korea will meet on Oct. 4 to begin discussions on changes to the U.S.-Korea Free Trade Agreement. Earlier this month, President Trump sent shock waves through U.S. agriculture when he threatened to withdraw from KORUS. South Korea is a major market for U.S. beef, pork, corn, wheat and soybeans. During his presidential campaign, Trump complained of the KORUS trade deficit primarily due to the importation of Korean automobiles.

The U.S. Trade Representative is looking for changes to KORUS “including possible amendments and modifications to resolve several problems regarding market access in Korea for U.S. exports and, most importantly, to address the significant trade imbalance.”

Marketbasket Survey finds increase in bacon price
The price of bacon is up 19% compared to a year ago to $5.24 per pound according to the American Farm Bureau Federation’s Fall Harvest Marketbasket Survey. Other food items that saw an increase were chicken breast, up 9% to $3.13 per pound; flour, up 7% to $2.37 per five-pound bag; orange juice, up 6% to $3.46 per half-gallon; and vegetable oil, up 5% to $2.52 for a 32-ounce bottle. There are 16 items in the basket of which 12 saw increases and four decreases. The items that saw a decline in price included eggs, down 3% to $1.44 per dozen; bagged salad, down 16% to $2.41 per pound; ground chuck, down 3% to $3.99 per pound; and potatoes, down 2% to $2.68 for a five-pound bag.

The survey was conducted in 25 states by 81 shoppers. AFBF’s next survey will be for a typical Thanksgiving meal.

Confirmation hearing set for chief ag negotiator
The confirmation hearing for Gregg Doud to be the U.S. Trade Representative chief agriculture negotiator is Oct. 5 before the Senate Finance Committee. Doud currently serves as the president of the Commodity Markets Council. Previously he was a senior professional staff member for the Senate Agriculture Committee where he worked on livestock, international trade, food aid and Commodity Futures Trading Commission issues.

Earlier in his career he was the chief economist for the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association. Doud is a native of Kansas and holds both a bachelors and masters from Kansas State University.

Northey and Ibach confirmation hearings set
More USDA nominees are beginning to move through the confirmation process. The Senate Agriculture Committee will consider the nominations of Bill Northey to be undersecretary for Farm and Conservation Programs and Greg Ibach as undersecretary for Marketing and Regulatory Programs this coming Thursday.

Northey is currently Iowa secretary of agriculture and Ibach is Nebraska’s director of agriculture.