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Checkoff Report - March 6, 2019

Introducing members of the 2019 Michigan CENT class

LANSING, Mich. — The second class of the Michigan Corn Education, Networking and Training program (MI CENT), the Corn Marketing Program of Michigan’s young farmer leader program, met for the first time this January.

This program is designed to provide educational opportunities for the next generation of Michigan corn farmers. Topics include agronomy, technology, farm management and the work of the National Corn Growers Assoc., as well as a trip to Washington, D.C., to lobby Michigan’s Congressional delegation and the opportunity to travel internationally to learn about farms across the globe.

Brady Brown of Brown City is one of 11 members of the 2019 class. He farms with his dad on more than 600 acres and custom-farms another 200 acres. They grow corn, soybeans and sugar beets and have been farming together since 2003. He has been a seed salesman for Stine Seed Co. for the last four years.

Jake and Ryan Drozd of Allegan are brothers who farm with their family on more than 9,000 acres in southwestern Michigan. Jake has been full-time on the farm for the last 10 years. His main job is crop and field management, consisting of hybrid selection and placement. He also works on irrigation management, as more than half of their farmed acres are irrigated.

Ryan has been farming full-time since he got out of college. He went to Purdue University where he received a bachelor of science degree in farm management.

PJ Feldpausch of Fowler farms with his family on their 4,300-acre cash crop farm consisting of wheat, corn and soybeans. He also sells Pioneer Seed, Precision Planting and does a lot of custom work.

He graduated from Fowler High School and attended the University of Northwest Ohio, where he received an associate degree and diesel and ag mechanics degree.

Blake Gordon of Croswell works with his dad on their 1,000-acre farm growing corn, soybeans, wheat and sugar beets. He has been involved in the operation since high school, but has taken on a larger role in decision-making since returning from college. He went to Michigan State University where he got an agriculture technologies degree.

Jeff and Tom McConnachie of Deckerville farm with a third brother, Jason, and their father, Mike. They are the sixth generation and farm more than 3,500 acres of sugar beets, corn, dry beans and white wheat.

Jeff was hired on the farm full-time 12 years ago. Tom worked off the farm a few years during high school and after working on a local dairy and in construction, he came back to the farm.

David Murray of Brown City farms more than 1,300 acres of corn, wheat and soybeans with his dad, John. Their family farm was founded in 1871 and he has been farming full time since 2010. David went to Michigan State University and studied ag industries.

Mike and Amanda Opificius of Capac farm more than 1,800 acres of corn, soybeans and sugar beets with Mike’s dad, Gerry. Mike has been on the farm full-time since 2011 and enjoys focusing on ways to improve yield and profits while learning about new technology. He went to MSU in the ag industries program.

Amanda is a full-time district sales manager for DEKALB/Asgrow. She grew up on her family’s cash crop farm. She has a bachelor of science in crop and soil sciences from MSU. They married in July 2018.

Nick Reigler of Freeport is a grain merchandiser for Michigan Agricultural Commodities in Lansing. He also owns and operates a cash crop farm he purchased from his grandfather in 2014. He grows a rotation of corn, soybeans and wheat with contributions from family members.

In his spare time, he feeds Red Angus cattle for freezer beef. Nick went to MSU where he received a bachelor of science in agribusiness management with an agronomy minor.

To nominate yourself or another farmer for next year’s program, call Claire White at -517-668-2676.

Indiana Soybean Alliance seeking a few good farmer leaders

INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. — The Indiana Soybean Alliance (ISA) seeks farmer leaders to join a 24-member board that is responsible for annually investing Indiana soybean checkoff funds in biofuel, livestock production, grain marketing, environmental research, new uses, aquaculture programs and more.

The ISA board of directors represents nearly 24,000 soybean farmers in Indiana who contribute their dollars through the checkoff program, and it manages soybean farmer investments. Applications for the 2019 election are due by March 8.

This year, the ISA seeks at least two candidates for each of its four districts. Each candidate must be a grower of soybeans for each of the last two years, certify ownership or share ownership and risk of loss of soybeans and complete a director expectation statement and return it to ISA by March 8.

To learn more about serving as an ISA director, or to receive a director expectation statement, call 800-735-0195 or visit

The ISA will distribute ballots to soybean farmers by mail in June and will announce election results by late July.

American Lamb Board elects new chief, releases results

DENVER, Colo. — Dale Thorne, a sheep producer from Michigan, has been elected chair of the American Lamb Board (ALB). He is serving his second three-year term on the board, representing the lamb feeding sector. He has previously served as ALB vice chair, treasurer and chair of the Research Committee.

Thorne and his family have a flock of 1,000 Polypay ewes, half of which lamb in the fall and half in the spring. Because he is near Detroit, which is the largest Muslim community in the United States, he sees firsthand the value of both traditional and non-traditional markets. The majority of the farm's lambs are marketed at about 80 pounds.

The farm also produces hay for the horse market, and row crops such as corn and soybeans.

The ALB’s fiscal year 2018 annual report has also been released. The board directs the American Lamb Checkoff, which is focused on building awareness and expanding demand, and strengthening its position in the marketplace. Report highlights include:

•Fine dining menus called out domestic lamb more than 3-to-1

•Blogger Lambassadors developed 38 new American lamb recipes, and their combined blogs and social media posts reached more than 1 million consumers

•2,353 consumers attended a Lamb Jam event and 54 percent were new attendees

•Lamb flavor research addressing quality factors entered final phases

•ALB showcased American Lamb at 24 festivals and events across the U.S.

During FY2018, the Lamb Board expenditures were $2,412,782, of which 66 percent were spent on promotion programs, 18 percent on communications, 5 percent on research, 7 percent on administration and 4 percent on USDA oversight. The complete annual report is available at