PEORIA, Ill. — Four-dollar corn has changed some of the
conversations that many of the vendors of products and services at farm shows
have had and will have with established and prospective customers.
For instance, customers at the Greater Peoria Farm Show
showed interest in programs such as The Andersons’ Farm to Market Program to
potentially improve profitability with lower grain prices.
“We’ve definitely had some good conversations about the
program. It’s a niche program, so we’re trying to expand it here today,” said
Charles is with The Andersons at the Champaign location. He
and Tim Tresslar, truck logistic merchant based in Bloomington, were talking to
showgoers about the new program.
“We’re talking about our Farm to Market program, which is a
bushel that doesn’t come into a facility. We’re marketers of grain from north to
south, east to west and all over the states. We’re promoting the Farm to Market
program this year as another tool for farmers to use to maybe get the best bid
that is not at their local elevator,” Charles said.
Once a farmer contracts with the Farm to Market program, the
farmer can use The Andersons marketing and pricing tools to find the best bid.
Charles said that the lower price of corn has growers interested in new
While many may connect The Andersons with the eastern Corn
Belt, the company recently acquired Thompsons Ltd., a Canadian grain and
food-grade soybean group based in Ontario.
Charles and Tresslar stood in front of a map of the U.S.
Corn Belt that spotlighted The Andersons locations throughout the Midwest.
“We are in grain and ethanol. We’ve recently acquired
facilities in Iowa and Tennessee, so that’s really broadening our range. We were
primarily in Ohio, Michigan and Indiana,” Charles said. “In the last couple of
years, Mike Anderson has done a great job — and the team, in general — to expand
our footprint in the areas where we haven’t done business. We’re doing well
today, and we’re looking forward to an even better year in 2014.”
While warmer and foggy weather may have kept some farmers in
the field for late fertilizer application and a rush to finish fall tillage,
Randy Litterly and aNH3 have the solution for anhydrous application in cooler
“With the pump, if you’ve got good tank feed, with big
valves, big hoses big Acme couplers, these work really good in cooler weather.
You can run a lot better in cold weather with these,” said Litterly, president
of aNH3, based in Elkhart.
He was referring to the big tower displayed at the front of
the company’s booth. That invention is an anhydrous ammonia pump delivery
system, the aNH3 EQUAPLY system.
“A lot of farmers use this because they want more uniformity
row to row. They want the anhydrous to go on, and a lot of the older systems
can’t do this. Our system is not a heat exchanger. We used to use that, but we
forced it to do what we wanted. With these new tower systems, we’re not using
ammonia to cool ammonia. We’re just bleeding the gas off, so we’re not putting a
lot extra in those coolant lines,” Litterly said.
He said the company has sold the product in all areas of the
country, from the Corn Belt to the Southeast and down to Texas. The EQUAPLY
system can be installed on a toolbar, air seeder and planters.
Kerry Baer, seed adviser with Beck’s Hybrids in the
Peoria/Woodford/Tazewell county areas, was ready to talk tech. But first he had
to talk about the number of computer screens displaying a Facebook homepage at
the Beck’s booth.
“Our marketing message this year is honoring farmers and
their contributions to us as a society with the ‘Why I Farm’ campaign. The
campaign includes a Facebook page. People can stop by the booth, like us on
Facebook and we will give them a free T-shirt. Anybody can go to the ‘Why I
Farm’ website and review the videos. We have the opportunity for farmers to post
videos about why they farm,” he said.
The videos are entered in a contest to see which one can get
the most Facebook “likes.” The video creator who receives the most votes gets
$25,000 worth of free seed from Beck’s for the next year.
Baer said that the voting numbers were approaching 10,000
for some of the videos.
There was more than Facebook happening at the Beck’s booth.
The company also is promoting a menu of new technology items to go along with
its Farmserver.com website.
“It’s basically a website where a grower can go and sign up
to have his or her own personal page. The farmer can load up his yield data,
maps, things like that, and it’s also a way to order crop imaging and access the
new crop selection tool. It allows a farmer to put his own variables in, and it
will produce the best hybrid choices for his ground based on the maps and
information they provide,” Baer said.
He said that feedback for the newly launched online site has
“It’s really pretty incredible. I’ve had a lot of feedback
on it already, and we’ve just barely launched it. Farmerserver.com is a site
that’s in the growth phase right now. We’re launching a lot of new products over
the next six months — there will be a lot of new things that hit that site,” he
Baer said the products work with Beck’s annual Practical
Farm Research book, which presents the results of some 60 studies across 400
acres in different states.
“We conduct a lot of research at our facility in Downs,
Ill., and five other sites across the Midwest and that information is all
available,” he said.
In addition, Beck’s Hybrids was helping to feed the world —
at least the part of it at the Greater Peoria Farm Show — by sponsoring the noon
lunch so showgoers could get reduced-price lunch tickets.
Back like Grandpa used to have it. That’s what Jay Whalen of
Pro Harvest Seeds was hearing from customers who stopped by the Pro Harvest
booth at the Greater Peoria Farm Show.
“We are seeing more interest in cover crops. The talk, the
interest at the show has been great,” he said.
He said his customers want their soil health to be what it
was a couple of generations ago on the farm.
“The biggest thing they are saying is they don’t feel like
their soil health is where it is when their grandparents were farming. That is
the No. 1 reason people are giving. The No. 1 response when we ask why they’re
interested in cover crops is, ‘I don’t feel like my soils are where they were
when my grandparents had the farm.’ It’s really exciting for us to have
customers who want that,” he said.
Pro Harvest offers a variety of cover crop mixtures and
seeding products. Whalen said the recent cold snap set the growth of
fall-planted cover crops back a little, but cover crops are looking good
“We’re excited to see what they’re going to look like in the
spring,” he said.
Farmers and landowners also are giving another reason for
their interest in cover crops.
“The other big topic right now is nitrates and water
quality. This is one way that we really feel like we can hold that nitrogen
until the end of the year and it’s not going into the water system,” the
Whalen himself is a partner in Whalen Farms with his family,
so he’s paying attention to the issues regarding Gulf hypoxia and nutrient
management in the Mississippi River basin.
“I really feel like, in the near future, the EPA is going to
show more of an interest in this and the nitrate levels. They’re knocking on our
back door. I feel like cover crops is the thing that growers can do right away
and be able to hold the nitrogen,” he said.
Whalen said customers are showing increased interest in
Genuity Smartstax RIB corn.
“Our full lineup of Smartstax RIB with the 5 percent refuge
is very popular and the hot item now. That whole put it in the planter and not
having to worry about refuge, that’s one of the big items,” he said.
Farm Credit Services
Who knows where the farm bill might go and what could happen
to crop insurance by the time it gets there?
Dan Guth, of 1st Farm Credit Services’ Normal office that
serves McLean County, said interest in private crop insurance products was high
at the farm show.
“We’ve got a couple of new crop insurance products on the
private side that we’ve developed, and we’ve been introducing those,” he said.
Those include the Revenue Net product, which allows
producers to lock in guarantees earlier in the fall, instead of having to wait
“Farmers are starting, more and more, to lock in their costs
this time of the year for next year’s crop, and we wanted to set up a product so
they could know what their guarantees were before February,” Guth said.
He also said 1st Farm representatives were talking about the
new Enterprise Plus product.
“It’s a way to blend enterprise units and mix them with
optional units to get the best of both worlds,” he said.
Advisers for 1st Farm Credit Services also were talking to
customers about year-end financial decisions and tax planning.
“We’re advising them to talk to everybody, not just us, but
talking to their tax people, other people involved in the farming operation,
about making smart purchases and not just ones to avoid taxes or that sort of
thing,” Guth said.
He said those stopping by the booth were optimistic, but
cautious about the coming year.
“It’s just being cautious because of the market we’re in.
We’re not looking at $6 or $7 corn like we have been. Everybody has been taking
a cautious approach,” he said.
Brian Aussieker was talking dates and times at the Greater
Peoria Farm Show.
“We are hosting about 50 crop insurance seminars across the
state. Those start in mid-December and continue through the end of February.
We’re encouraging folks to get out to one of those if they can — they will talk
about crop insurance and some updates to the program for the 2014 crop year,”
said Aussieker, a crop insurance analyst with Country Financial.
He said the drop in crop prices could make a difference to
crop insurance decisions in the coming year.
“Four-dollar corn does make a difference. Whether corn is $4
in the spring or $7 in the spring, it might determine what policy type you buy,”
Aussieker said the meetings will provide all the information
that producers need on changes to the existing County Financial crop insurance
Anyone interested in more information about the meetings can
go to www.countryfinancial.com/insuranceInvestments/crop.