News Update
July 13, 2011

Brackettville Range Management Workshop Set for July 27

The Texas AgriLife Extension Service office in Kinney County will conduct a range management workshop from 5:30 p.m.-8:30 p.m. July 27 at the Civic Center in Brackettville located at 200 E. Spring Street.

“This workshop will be all about understanding various range-carrying capacities for livestock and how to properly stock them,” said Tyler Bobinmyer, AgriLife Extension agent in Kinney County. “Knowing what forages are out there and how long they will last under our current dry conditions becomes more and more important as ranges continue to dwindle and feed prices skyrocket.”

Scheduled workshop speakers are Uvalde-based Rick Machen, AgriLife Extension livestock specialist, and Bob Lyons, AgriLife Extension range specialist. A representative will also be available from Agri-Insurance to provide information on rain insurance.

Two general Texas Department of Agriculture continuing education units will be available for pesticide applicator license holders.

Individual registration is $10, payable at the door, and Agri-Insurance is sponsoring the evening meal.

For more information and to RSVP, call the AgriLife Extension office in Kinney County at 830-563-2442.

— Release by Steve Byrns for Texas A&M AgriLife Communications.

K-State Risk and Profit Conference Set for Aug. 18-19 in Manhattan

Kansas State University’s Department of Agricultural Economics will host its annual Risk and Profit Conference and Trade Show Thursday and Friday, Aug. 18-19, at the K-State Alumni Center in Manhattan.

Conference topics change every year in keeping with key issues agricultural producers face in any given year, according to Allen Featherstone, K-State professor in agricultural economics.

This year’s conference will feature two keynote addresses. Fred Seamon, associate director of commodity research and product development with the CME Group will present “Hedging in 2011: What’s Changed and What Remains the Same” at the Aug. 18 luncheon. Kent and Rebecca Ott, longtime agricultural producers from south central Kansas will provide “A Conversation with a Kansas Producer” just after the Aug. 19 breakfast.

At the CME Group, Seamon is responsible for conducting research on the structure and performance of commodity markets, which is used to monitor the performance of and maintain the viability of CME Group commodity futures and options contract markets. He also is responsible for investigating the feasibility of new commodity futures contracts and writing trading rules for new commodity futures. He has been involved in the creation of the CBOT Ethanol futures contract and the accompanying Ethanol Calendar Swap, as well as the creation of cleared-only agricultural swap products.

Kent and Rebecca Ott have partnered in farming for more than 30 years along with Kent’s parents, Charles and Patricia Ott. They grow wheat, soybeans, corn and grain sorghum. Kent has served on the local co-op and Farm Service agency boards, and has served as a local school board member and state representative.

After the Thursday evening dinner, K-State agricultural economists Dan O’Brien and Glynn Tonsor will present this year’s grain and livestock outlooks.  

Conference participants also may attend eight of 21 breakout sessions.

All conference presentations, however, will be included on a compact disk that will be included as part of registration.

Breakout session topics include everything from crop insurance volatility to machinery costs, including forecasting custom rates to international benchmarking of beef production. Presentations also will include land prices, biofuels contracting, using spreadsheets to manage expenses and the basics of futures and options.

The conference will feature a trade show with displays by agri-businesses and commodity groups.

New this year is the opportunity to register for just one day of the conference, said Rich Llewelyn, one of the conference coordinators.

Registration for both days, which includes two lunches, one dinner and one breakfast, plus conference proceedings on a CD and conference parking, is $210 for the first registration and $190 for each additional registration from the same organization, if paid by Aug. 12. One day registration if paid by Aug. 12 is $120 for the first registration and $110 for additional registrations from the same organization.

After Aug. 12 and at the door, the fee is $230 for both days and $140 for one day.

Complete information about the 2011 Risk and Profit Conference, including a list of all breakout session topics and presenters and online registration, is available at
Information is also available by contacting Rich Llewelyn at 785-532-1504 or

— Release by Mary Lou Peter for K-State Research & Extension News.

REG Finalizes Asset Purchase of 30 mmgy Biodiesel Facility in Albert Lea, Minn.

Renewable Energy Group (REG) announced July 12 the successful purchase of substantially all Albert Lea, Minn., assets of SoyMor Biodiesel LLC, including its biodiesel plant, and the soy lecithin facility assets of SoyMor Cooperative in exchange for common stock and the assumption of certain liabilities.

“Renewable Energy Group is proud to add this production-proven, strategically-located facility to our network of owned and operated biorefineries,” explained REG’s CEO Jeff Stroburg of the 30 million gallon per year (mmgy) facility which has been idled since 2008.

“With nationwide demand for biodiesel growing steadily through implementation of the Renewable Fuels Standard (RFS2) and Minnesota’s continued biodiesel consumption leadership, we expect to quickly ramp up production at REG Albert Lea LLC,” said Stroburg. “With a foundation in agriculture and expertise in domestically-produced, renewable energy, REG is proud to bring green-collar jobs to this rural economy while supporting ag producers in Minnesota and across the Midwest.”

The company has already begun the hiring process to employ more than 20 full-time, family-wage jobs including administrative positions, biodiesel plant operators and load-out staff.
“Our REG manufacturing team is already on-site at the facility to re-start the biodiesel process in order to have high quality, REG-9000® biodiesel available in the market very soon,” said Stroburg.

The REG Albert Lea LLC facility will bring the REG owned/operated total to more than 210 million gallons. REG is the largest biodiesel producer in the United States.

REG was the general contractor and manager for the 30 mmgy refined vegetable oil feedstock biodiesel plant which originally began production in April 2005. With immense multi-feedstock technology and upgrade experience, REG officials noted the facility could be upgraded in order to process a wide variety of lower cost natural fats and oils, including used cooking oil, inedible corn oil from ethanol production, and high free fatty acid materials.

— Release by REG.

USDA Announces Agricultural Marketing System Grants to 19 States and Puerto Rico to Expand Product Reach

The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) announced July 12 that it will award 25 grants to 19 states and the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico to help create economic opportunities for American producers and businesses. Under the Federal-State Marketing Improvement Program (FSMIP), USDA is matching $1.3 million worth of state grants to state departments of agriculture, state agricultural experiment stations, and other appropriate state agencies to assist in exploring new market opportunities for U.S. food and agricultural products and to encourage research and innovation aimed at improving the marketing system.  

“FSMIP provides our state partners with matching funds to explore new and innovative approaches to marketing U.S. food and agricultural products,” said Agriculture Deputy Secretary Kathleen Merrigan. “USDA supports state and local projects ranging from research to retail to ensure that quality American products are marketed efficiently and effectively.”

Grants were awarded to support the following projects:

Arkansas — $60,660 to the University of Arkansas–Fayetteville, to investigate consumer preference and willingness to pay for environmental benefits associated with rice varieties that emit lower levels of greenhouse gas during production.

California — $35,000 to the California Department of Food and Agriculture, in cooperation with the California Wild Rice Advisory Board and the Minnesota Cultivated Wild Rice Council, to develop a nationwide system for reporting wild rice production, inventories and usage to help stabilize prices across the U.S. resulting from wide variations in supply. 

Connecticut — $39,000 to the Connecticut Department of Agriculture, in cooperation with the Connecticut District Export Council, Connecticut Specialty Food Association, University of Connecticut, Northeast Utilities, and Connecticut Development Authority, to assist small- and medium-sized producers and processors of specialty food and wine, produce, shellfish, forest products, and fiber products to become export ready, and to develop a coordinated export market strategy for specialty agricultural products. 

Connecticut — $50,320 to the University of Connecticut, in cooperation with the Connecticut Department of Agriculture, Connecticut Farm Bureau Association, Connecticut Northeast Organic Farming Association, and CitySeed, to improve the interactive features of the website to benefit both producers and consumers and add new capacity to foster sales of local agricultural products to wholesale buyers such as chefs and food service operators.

Georgia — $55,373 to the Georgia Department of Agriculture, in cooperation with Georgia State University’s Andrew Young School of Policy Studies, to increase utilization of state-run, nonprofit and community farmers’ markets and to implement new marketing and distribution strategies to increase available supplies of locally grown produce to meet growing demand. 

Idaho — $67,220 to the University of Idaho, in cooperation with the Idaho Barley Commission, to expand the use of barley as an ingredient in food products designed to appeal to consumers in selected Asian and Latin American markets and to schoolchildren in the United States.

Illinois — $55,000 to the Illinois Department of Agriculture, in cooperation with the Illinois Grape Growers and Vintners Association, to conduct a comprehensive grape census and economic impact study, explore development of an Illinois Wine Quality/Standards program, and host training sessions for chefs, restaurateurs, and retailers in urban environments to explore untapped markets for Illinois wine. 

Kansas — $113,700 to Kansas State University, to develop certification guidelines and determine costs and potential returns to producers of adopting preharvest beef cattle certified production and health management protocols designed to enhance postharvest meat food safety and ensure animal welfare. 

Kansas — $30,500 to Kansas State University, in cooperation with the Tri-County Steer Carcass Futurity Cooperative, to improve the accuracy of preslaughter grade determinations through an analysis of beef carcass data from 23 Midwest and Southeastern States. 

Kentucky — $49,000 to the Kentucky Department of Agriculture, in cooperation with Kentucky State University and Ohio State University, to investigate the feasibility of creating a profitable seafood marketing system using low to moderate investment that takes into account the demand for fresh/live seafood markets in Kentucky and Ohio, and the supply of aquaculture products from small-scale and seasonal growers.

Louisiana — $56,815 to Louisiana State University Agricultural Center to identify cost savings associated with alternative cotton harvest and transportation options, and identify optimal ownership of new technology to improve efficiency in the marketing supply chain for cotton in the mid-South. 

Louisiana — $30,511 to Louisiana State University Agricultural Center, in cooperation with the Louisiana Department of Agriculture and Forestry, Crescent City Farmers Markets, Louisiana State University Sea Grant programs and Orleans Parish Firstline Schools, to survey school lunch directors in pilot parishes to determine demand for locally produced agricultural and fishery products, assess the capacity of local farmers and fishermen to fulfill the demand, and train local producers on the use of Louisiana MarketMaker and other resources that will help them identify new institutional and direct marketing opportunities.

Maine — $64,145 to the Maine Department of Agriculture, Food and Rural Resources, in cooperation with Maine Fiberarts, to compile a comprehensive consumer-oriented database of the Maine fiber sector, and develop training programs to improve the marketing skills of small fiber business operators.

Massachusetts — $11,015 to the Massachusetts Department of Agricultural Resources, in cooperation with the Massachusetts Brewers Guild, to assess the current volume, value and types of local ingredients used by craft brewers in Massachusetts, and facilitate increased use through a grower/brewer matchmaking educational session and case studies that highlight the barriers and opportunities.

Massachusetts — $13,625 to the Massachusetts Department of Agricultural Resources, in cooperation with the Tufts University Friedman School of Nutrition Science and Policy, to explore ways to effectively move local food products from farms and wholesale markets to inner-city corner stores while meeting the preferences and requirements of producers, store owners and target consumers.

Michigan — $36,750 to Michigan State University, in cooperation with Purdue University, Texas A&M University, the University of Minnesota, and the Vineland Research and Innovation Centre, to utilize new eye movement tracking technology to determine the images and text consumers view first and longest when looking at a display of ornamental and food-producing plants in order to understand how these factors relate to purchasing decisions.

Michigan — $113,351 to Michigan State University to develop and test a comprehensive beef traceability model that could be implemented by Michigan beef producers, processors, retailers, and food service operators. 

Minnesota — $60,000 to the Minnesota Department of Agriculture to identify trends in consumer preferences and expectations toward improving marketing efforts of Minnesota farmers and ranchers who sell direct to consumers. Includes numerous areas such as customer service and retail-area design. 

Missouri — $61,026 to the University of Missouri to survey Missouri consumers and retailers about their preferences and willingness to pay for locally produced artisan cheese in order to foster development of the specialty dairy sector.

Nebraska — $79,534 to the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, in cooperation with the Nebraska Sustainable Agriculture Society and the Center for Rural Affairs, to foster development of regional food systems in Nebraska. 

New York — $73,824 to the New York Department of Agriculture and Markets, in cooperation with the Cornell Extension Service, NOFA-NY, the Empire State B&B Association, Central New York Bounty, the New York Small Scale Food Processors Association and University of Illinois Extension, to educate bed and breakfast operators about opportunities to feature locally produced food and agricultural products in meals served to their guests, and to measure the economic impact on producers of sales made through this specialized marketing channel.

Puerto Rico — $21,000 to the Puerto Rico Department of Agriculture, in cooperation with the Food Safety Institute of the University of Puerto Rico, to train meat, poultry and dairy producers and processors regarding food safety, quality protocols and best practices to assist them to develop comprehensive food safety plans in order to improve access to commercial markets. 

Texas — $42,588 to the Texas Department of Agriculture, in cooperation with the Texas Farmers Market Corporation and the University of Houston, to develop webinars and workshops to train producers of meat, dairy products, eggs and produce about Good Agricultural Practices and optimal packaging techniques to sell their products at farmers markets and to retail grocery stores.

Virginia — $75,150 to the Virginia Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services, in cooperation with Virginia Tech, to evaluate economic, cultural, regulatory, and social factors affecting the value chain of hardwoods in Asia and Europe, and to identify new opportunities for the U.S. hardwood lumber sector to supply valued-added products to target countries that currently import unprocessed lumber.

Wyoming — $36,225 to the Wyoming Department of Agriculture, in cooperation with the Wyoming Rural Development Council, to increase the quantity and variety of locally grown food and agricultural products in Wyoming public schools.

USDA published a notice inviting applications for FSMIP funds for fiscal year 2011 on Dec. 23, 2010, in the Federal Register (document AMS-FRDOC-0001-0712). More information about the program is available at

— Release by USDA Office of Communications.

— Compiled by Linda Robbins, assistant editor, Angus Productions Inc.

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