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Business Briefs - November 29, 2017

Indiana Beef group, Purdue set 10 area meetings

INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. — The Indiana Beef Cattle Assoc. (IBCA) in cooperation with Purdue University will again hold 10 area beef meetings across the state this winter.

Beginning in December and ending in January, the meetings will be open to all beef producers and feature great local food, as well as valuable information on beef issues, policies, programs and the latest information from the IBCA and Indiana Beef Council and bovine TB updates from the Indiana State Board of Animal Health and Purdue extension.

The schedule for all beef meetings is available by calling the IBCA office at 800-515-2333, your local extension office or at

FarmLead launches new online grain testing service

CHICAGO, Ill. — FarmLead, North America’s largest and fastest-growing online grain marketplace, announced the launch of

The latest addition to the FarmLead ecosystem, is the first online service that allows grain farmers to conveniently test their grain. Farmers can obtain third-party validation from the best testing labs across North America including BioVision, Cotecna, Intertek, NDGI, NQI, SGS and 20/20 Seed Labs.

Unlike traditional grain testing methods that rely on manual and time-consuming processes, the new GrainTests service by FarmLead streamlines the process. Freeing farmers from the typical workday-hour constraints and paperwork, phone calls and emails between farmers and lab managers, the GrainTests online portal moves grain testing into the digital era and gives farmers 24/7 access to labs and payment processing.

In addition, the resulting independent perspective of what is for sale helps buyers know they are paying a fair price. For more information about the new FarmLead service, go to or

Tillerman buys DF Seeds, looks to buy regional suppliers

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. — Tillerman Seeds LLC, a Grand Rapids-based company created to acquire regional producers of specialty, GMO and non-GMO seeds, has purchased the assets of Dansville, Mich.-based DF Seeds Inc. in its first transaction.

DF Seeds, an award-winning supplier of soybean and wheat varieties that are best-suited to grow in Michigan’s unique micro-climate, serves more than 400 farmers with seeds that generate higher yields and increased resistance to disease and pests. Founded in 1992, the company will continue to operate under the DF Seeds brand with the same local team, including President Chris Varner, a 25-year veteran of the seed industry.

Tillerman Seeds intends to purchase small seed companies with an established regional presence or specialty products that have growth potential. The holding company plans to operate acquired companies as standalone entities with shared back-office services including accounting, human resources and purchasing.

DF Seeds and other acquired companies will also collaborate on research and development, as well as best business practices for customer service, marketing and cross-selling of product lines.

Varner will continue to serve in a leadership position with DF Seeds, where she has worked since 2009 and been an owner since 2013. Tillerman & Co., which provided structuring, negotiation and capital formation on the transaction, will provide financial management for the new company and its subsidiaries until a permanent chief financial officer is hired.

Wells Fargo provided senior debt financing and a revolving credit facility to Tillerman Seeds. The Grand Rapids office of Barnes & Thornburg provided legal counsel to Tillerman Seeds on the transaction. The Grand Rapids office of Dickinson Wright PLLC represented the sellers.

More than $142K donated to Texas farmers and ranchers

LEXINGTON, Ky. — Alltech launched Hope After Harvey to raise support for Texas farmers and ranchers, who lead the U.S. in cattle, cotton, hay, sheep and goat production. Alltech committed to match donations made to its 501(c)(3) nonprofit, the Alltech ACE Foundation.

As a result of the Hope After Harvey donation response, Alltech representatives presented Texas Farm Bureau’s (TFB) Agriculture Research and Education Foundation with a $42,607.12 check. The funds will be used to provide support and relief to those in agriculture who were affected by Hurricane Harvey.

Additionally, the Alltech family committed to donating $100,000 in value of animal feed and crop products, which have been distributed through dealers and Texas AgriLife Extension. An Alltech team from the Buffalo, Texas, area also spent six days near Winnie, gathering cattle in flood waters.

KAFC approves more than $1.8 million in farm loans

LEXINGTON, Ky. — The Kentucky Agricultural Finance Corp. (KAFC) approved $1,847,000 in 10 agricultural loans for projects in the Commonwealth at its board meeting on Oct. 6.

Two Agricultural Infrastructure loans were approved for recipients in Allen ($150,000) and Spencer ($50,000) counties. KAFC participates with lenders to provide financing to producers making capital expenditures for agricultural projects through the AILP.

Eligible projects include permanent farm structures with attached equipment that improves the profitability of farming operations. Producers with documented tobacco history may be eligible for up to $150,000, not to exceed 50 percent of the project.

Beginning Farmer loans totaled $1,647,000 for eight recipients in Fleming ($700,000), Graves ($489,000), Mason ($225,000), Pulaski ($80,000) and Shelby ($153,000) counties. BFLP is designed to assist individuals with some farming experience who desire to develop, expand or buy into a farming operation.

Beginning farmers may qualify for financing to purchase livestock, equipment or agriculture facilities; to secure permanent working capital; for the purchase of farm real estate; or to invest in a partnership or LLC.

For more information on the programs offered by the KAFC, contact Beth Mobley, director of loan programs, at 502-782-1764 or or visit the KAFC at

Illinois State Fair Mega Passes make great holiday gifts

SPRINGFIELD, Ill. — The countdown to the 2018 Illinois State Fair has officially begun. Fair officials announced that as part of its holiday promotional campaign, the fair will be offering a 2018 Mega Pass at a discounted price of $60 through the end of the year.

This holiday sale includes a free Illinois State Fair lanyard with your Mega Pass purchase. The Mega Pass can be used on all rides in Adventure Village and the Carnival Midway. Mega Passes will be on sale all the way through the fair August 9-19, 2018, fair; however, it's important to note this holiday sale will feature the lowest prices of the season. The price will increase to $70 on Jan. 1, then to $90 on August 1.

Also on sale are Admission Bargain Books and Seasonal Infield Parking Passes. For $55, one Admission Bargain Book provides 11 any day admissions to the 2018 fair. The Seasonal Parking Infield Parking Pass is only $40. This allows you to park on the infield all 11 days of the fair. These prices are only guaranteed through December.

Take advantage of these limited time deals in any of the following ways: in person at the State Fairground Emmerson Building; by phone at 217-782-6661; by mail, download the application at and mail to the address on the order form; and online at

Forbes expanding with Indianapolis summit in September

NEW YORK, N.Y. — Forbes announced during its Forbes AgTech Launch event in New York that the fourth annual Forbes AgTech Summit will return to Salinas, Calif., June 26-28, 2018. In addition, it will be launching the first Forbes AgTech-Indianapolis on Sept. 26-27.

The Forbes AgTech Summit-Indianapolis will include all the hallmarks of Forbes’ signature AgTech events, including plant tours, field demos and an Innovation Showcase highlighting the most compelling AgTech startups, all with a hands-on focus on innovation.

Whereas the Forbes AgTech Summit-Salinas is hosted in the Salad Bowl of the World and has always had fresh produce at its core, the Forbes AgTech Summit-Indianapolis will be the perfect setting to more deeply explore innovation in the growing, harvesting and distribution of Midwest crops like corn, wheat, soybeans and others.

The Indiana Economic Development Corp. and AgriNovus Indiana, the state’s food and agriculture innovation initiative, are the host partners. For more information, follow the conversation on Twitter via #ForbesAgTech

CareSource awards $100,000 to Indiana food banks

INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. — CareSource and the CareSource Foundation have awarded 10 grants to as many food banks across Indiana for $10,000 each as a part of its Days of Caring in Indiana.

The foundation gave these grants to community food bank organizations throughout the state as part of a larger effort to help combat hunger and food insecurity in Indiana during the holiday season. The food banks that received a surprise check for $10,000 on Nov. 9-10 are:

Muncie Mission Ministries, Hoosiers Hills Food Bank in Bloomington, Food Bank of Northern Indiana in South Bend, Community Food Pantry in Richmond, Community Harvest Food Bank in Fort Wayne, Food Finders Food Bank in Lafayette, Second Harvest Food Bank in Muncie, Food Bank of Northwest Indiana in Gary, Tri-State Food Bank in Evansville and Gleaners Food Bank in Indianapolis.

The organizations will use the grants to fund vital parts of their operations and provide fresh, nutritious food to families facing food insecurity across the state. Since 2006, the CareSource Foundation has awarded nearly 1,200 grants to nonprofits working to eliminate poverty, provide much-needed services to low-and moderate-income families, encourage healthy communities, develop innovative approaches to address critical health issues and enhance the lives of a diverse array of children, adults and families.

NYFC teams up with firm to help farmers buy land

HUDSON, N. Y. — Finding Farmland at is a new website that offers educational tools to help young farmers address the top obstacles to starting a farm, access to both land and capital. It was launched by the National Young Farmers Coalition (NYFC) and Fathom Information Design.

Features include a first-of-its kind land affordability calculator that makes it easy for farmers to learn about options for financing farmland and tools, such as easements, to help make it more affordable.

Finding Farmland is a free educational tool for farmers and farm service providers such as extension agents, and can be used as a standalone resource or integrated into a farm business planning course. Farmers can use the tool to analyze the financial impact that different options for financing a land purchase would have on their bottom line, or to compare the overall costs of two different properties.

With two-thirds of the nation’s farmland set to change hands in the next 20 years, NYFC is ramping up its work to help beginning farmers and ranchers access land. Finding Farmland is part of a larger land campaign strategy, including farm bill and state policy advocacy, land access workshops for farmers, a land access webinar series and a national working group for land trusts.

This project is supported by a grant from the USDA National Institute of Food and Agriculture through its Beginning Farmer and Rancher Development Program.

AGCO announces new data connection with FieldView

DULUTH, Ga. — AGCO Corp., a world-leading manufacturer and distributor of agricultural equipment, announced a new digital partnership with The Climate Corp., a subsidiary of Monsanto Co., that will provide AGCO customers the option to connect with The Climate Corp. Climate FieldView platform.

AGCO’s partnership with The Climate Corp. is a product of Fuse and its open approach to agriculture, which focuses on helping customers optimize their farms through seamless technology integration and connectivity.

AGCO customers will be able to seamlessly connect to the Climate FieldView platform through FieldView Drive device, AGCO’s Precision Planting 20/20 SeedSense Display or through application program interfaces (APIs) beginning in late 2017. The connection to the Climate FieldView platform provides AGCO customers with real time visualization of farm data from as-planted maps to yield maps, as well as access to a well-established digital agriculture platform where customers can compare data and make agronomic decisions for the next season.

Certain AGCO machines will be Climate FieldView-ready, direct from the factory later in 2018. Future announcements will provide more detail about availability and how to connect.

FDA guidance on animal CGMP and ‘solely engaged’ exemption

WASHINGTON, D.C. — The U.S. Food and Drug Administration issued two guidance documents intended for facilities that may be subject to the Preventive Controls for Animal Food rule or the Preventive Controls for Human Food rule.

One of the guidance documents will help animal food establishments determine if they are subject to the Current Good Manufacturing Practice (CGMP) requirements in the Preventive Controls for Animal Food rule, and provides explanation and recommendations for meeting the CGMP requirements.

The second document issued is a draft guidance that discusses the applicability of the “solely engaged” exemptions for the Preventive Controls for Human Food and Preventive Controls for Animal Food rules. It explains when facilities are exempt from CGMP or preventive controls requirements because they are “solely engaged” in certain activities. The draft guidance also explains that the “solely engaged” exemptions do not apply when a facility is also conducting certain other activities.

For more information on “Guidance for Industry #235: Current Good Manufacturing Practice Requirements for Food for Animals,” visit

For more on “Application of the ‘Solely Engaged’ Exemptions in Parts 117 and 507” visit

Precision Tank renovates brand identity to combine two

VIRGINIA, Ill. — Precision Tank, a leader in liquid storage solutions, unveiled a new brand identity. The new Precision Tank brand represents the capabilities of two industry leaders, the former Precision Tank & Equipment (PT&E) and A & B Welding companies.

Precision Tank offers a broad scope of turnkey solutions for the agriculture, commercial, municipal and fuel industries. The new Precision Tank describes its forward-thinking approach to the liquid storage industry. Collectively, it will be able to offer customers more resources behind a unified brand.

In addition to the new brand identity, Precision Tank is launching a new tagline, “Innovate. Fabricate.” to capture the company’s expanded product offerings, upgraded services and enhanced customer service. The industry will begin to see an immediate transition to the new Precision Tank brand during the final quarter of 2017.

USPOULTRY research program reaches $30 million in funding

TUCKER, Ga. — USPOULTRY’s research program has passed a noteworthy milestone. Combined with the USPOULTRY Harold E. Ford Foundation, more than $30 million has been funded in research grants to meet the challenges facing the poultry and egg industry.

Since the first $5,000 grant awarded in 1963 to Dr. Allen Edgar at Auburn University to study control measures for infectious bursal disease (Gumboro), USPOULTRY’s investment in research has been a significant factor in the growth and prosperity of the U.S. poultry industry.

The research program also continues to evolve. The Board Research Initiative was created in 2013 by the boards of both organization to address specific issues identified by the directors. It operates concurrently with the traditional research funding, referred to as the Comprehensive Research Program, in which proposals are submitted for funding consideration. Research topics for the Comprehensive Program are available on the USPOULTRY website,

A third component is Emergency Research Funding, allocated when an exceptional need arises, such as the 2015-16 highly pathogenic avian influenza (HPAI) outbreak.

Currently, funding for the Comprehensive Research program is appropriated in 19 topic areas at research institutions throughout the nation. The research encompasses all phases of poultry and egg production and processing and is updated every two years with input from the boards and other USPOULTRY committees.

Current research priorities include animal welfare, broiler/turkey breeder management, broiler management, commercial egg production, diseases, employee safety and health, environmental management, feed mill operations, food safety, further processing, genetics, hatchery management, human nutrition, live haul, poultry nutrition, poultry housing, pullet management, breeder replacement management and processing.

The USPOULTRY research program is under the direction of Dr. John Glisson, vice president of research.

New Ohio report helps farmers with food safety planning

COLUMBUS, Ohio — A publication released by the Ohio Ecological Food and Farm Assoc. (OEFFA) will help produce farmers understand what it means to develop a farm food safety plan and meet new federal food safety rules.

Food Safety Planning Down on the Farm: Examples from Ohio Certified Organic Farms features eight vegetable and fruit farms of various scales and serving diverse markets.

Produce farmers face new regulations with the passage of the Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA). While the law exempts the smallest farms (those selling less than $25,000 in Covered Produce, such as lettuce, strawberries and radishes), some buyers may require those operations to meet FSMA standards as well.

The publication identifies challenges and discusses changes that reduce risk. For example, Jorgensen Farms in Westerville had built its packing area prior to FSMA. The open sides of the packing area – where produce is made ready for restaurants or to take to the farmers’ market – posed a contamination risk. The farm addressed the situation by enclosing the area with 1/2-inch hardware cloth sides and doors.

The new report, along with additional resources, is available online at

Wabash County farmers donate pork to local food pantries

WABASH, Ind. — The Wabash County Farm Bureau and area hog farmers recently donated more than 1,800 pounds of ground pork to local food banks and community pantries.


In late October, local hog farmers donated the hogs, which were turned into ground pork, to the Farmers Who Care campaign, a Wabash County Farm Bureau program dedicated to helping farmers serve the community.

The program began in 2016 when Scott Dawes, a hog farmer and board member for Wabash County Farm Bureau, came up with the idea for local pork producers to donate pigs, which would then be harvested to create 1-pound packages of ground pork. These packages would be donated to local Wabash County food banks.

This is the fifth donation campaign the group has organized. The program has provided more than 32,000 4-ounce servings of protein to the local food banks and community pantries.

Manchester FFA students attached a recipe card featuring ground pork recipes to each package of frozen pork. Several local organizations have teamed up with the campaign to donate pork, including the Wabash County Pork Producers, TDM Farms, REMC-Operation Round-Up, Wabash Community Foundation, Wabash Farm Bureau, Inc., Indiana Pork, Manchester High School, area farmers and Purdue University extension.

The Farm Bureau and youth volunteers delivered the donations to food banks and community pantries that included Lagro Community Church, Fellowship Food Pantry of North Manchester, Zion Lutheran Church Community Meal and the Roann Food Pantry.

WABASH COUNTY FARM BUREAU President and local hog farmer, Mark York (right), works with Manchester FFA students to attach recipe cards to packages of ground pork.

New organic management resource available from SARE

COLLEGE PARK, Md. — Increasingly aware of how food purchases affect their health and the environment, consumers are changing the way they eat. Sales of organic products in the United States totaled $47 billion in 2016, an increase of nearly $3.7 billion from 2015.

But demand for many organic staples continues to outstrip domestic supplies, despite record growth in the number of new organic operations. SARE’s new “Organic Production” topic room assists organic producers who are struggling to manage pests, fertility and tillage in compliance with stringent organic standards. It is online at

Including a wide range of free materials developed by SARE, SARE grant recipients and experts in the field, “Organic Production” addresses pest management, whole systems, seeds, fertility management, certification and more.

Please note: “Organic Production” includes some resources containing practices and suggestions that may not align with USDA organic certification requirements. Users should read carefully and always check with their organic certification agency before adopting new practices or using new materials.

USDA funding for underserved groups and beginning farmers

WASHINGTON, D.C. — The USDA’s Farm Service Agency reminds producers that FSA offers specially targeted farm ownership and farm operating loans to underserved applicants as well as beginning farmers.

USDA defines underserved applicants as a group whose members have been subjected to racial, ethnic or gender prejudice because of their identity as members of the group without regard to their individual qualities. For farm loan program purposes, underserved groups are women, African-Americans, American Indians and Alaskan Natives, Hispanics and Asians and Pacific Islanders.

In order to qualify as a beginning farmer, the individual or entity must meet the eligibility requirements outlined for direct or guaranteed loans. Additionally, individuals and all entity members must have operated a farm for fewer than 10 years. Applicants must materially or substantially participate in the operation.

For more guidelines and application information, contact your local FSA office.

AGCO reports third-quarter results, with $2B in net sales

DULUTH, Ga. — AGCO, a worldwide manufacturer and distributor of agricultural equipment, reported net sales of approximately $2 billion for the third quarter of 2017, an increase of approximately 12.8 percent compared to the third quarter of 2016.

Reported net income was 76 cents per share for the third quarter of 2017, and adjusted net income, excluding restructuring expenses, was 79 cents per share. These results compare to reported net income of 50 cents per share and adjusted net income, excluding restructuring expenses, of 51 cents per share for the third quarter of 2016.

Excluding favorable currency translation impacts of approximately 2.7 percent, net sales in the third quarter of 2017 increased approximately 10.1 percent compared to the third quarter of 2016. Net sales for the first nine months of 2017 were approximately $5.8 billion, an increase of approximately 8.7 percent compared to the same period in 2016.

Long-term growth continues to be a key focus, and the company is working to expand product offerings through internal product development efforts and bolt-on acquisitions. It recently completed two acquisitions – in September, Precision Planting, a leader in innovative planting technology, and in October, the forage division of the Lely Group, which significantly enhances AGCO’s hay and forage product line in Europe.

Clean Water Indiana grants awarded to 25 counties

INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. — The Indiana State Department of Agriculture (ISDA) and the State Soil Conservation Board (SSCB) awarded nearly $900,000 in Clean Water Indiana (CWI) grants to 25 Soil and Water Conservation Districts (SWCDs). These grants will help fund conservation projects designed to improve water quality across the state.

“We’re starting to see a significant reduction in the amount of sediment and nutrients prevented from entering Indiana’s waterways, as a result of Clean Water Indiana,” said Melissa Rekeweg, ISDA interim director. "There is still much work to be done to improve our water quality, and these grants are critical to that effort."

The CWI program is administered by ISDA’s Division of Soil Conservation, under the direction of the SSCB, and funded, in part, by the state’s cigarette tax revenue. It was established to provide financial assistance to landowners and conservation districts, as an effort to reduce non-point sources of water pollution.

The following includes the CWI grants for 2018. The lead SWCD on the project is listed first, followed by the partnering district(s), if applicable, and the award amount. The total funding was $897,034.50.

•Allen County: $24,300

•Blackford County (Adams, Jays, Wells counties): $154,500

•Dearborn County (Ohio County): $107,000

•Dubois County (Daviess, Martin counties): $95,250

•Fulton County: $55,500

•Jefferson County (Clark County): $66,990

•Knox County (Pike, Sullivan, Dubois, Daviess, Warrick counties): $52,500

•Marion County: $60,000

•Pike County (Gibson County): $84,000

•Rush County (Shelby County): $4,912.50

•Steuben County: $25,750

•Vanderburgh County (Gibson, Pike, Posey, Warrick counties): $95,000

•Wabash County: $22,300

•Warrick County (Posey, Vanderburgh counties): $49,032

Agency launches with a strategic, creative focus for agriculture

INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. — A new agriculture-focused agency, Blank Page Marketing, LLC announced its launch with a dedicated team driven to generate client results with a fresh perspective. Led by Tiffany Obrecht-Johnson, BLNKPG offers marketing and communications services ranging from strategy to experience management.

A niche-agency model, BLNKPG concentrates on starting from scratch for each client objective without a templated approach. The BLNKPG team brings years of agriculture and agency experience to the table, with a continued focus in the agriculture industry.

To learn more about BLNKPG and its offerings, visit

Land O'Lakes announces increased third-quarter 2017 results

ARDEN HILLS, Minn. — Land O'Lakes, Inc. announced increased third-quarter 2017 financial results with quarterly net earnings of $47.5 million, up from third-quarter net earnings in 2016 of $8.1 million.

Similarly, year-to-date net earnings were also higher, at $270.4 million on sales of $10.2 billion versus net earnings of $246.4 million on sales of just under $10 billion for the same time period in 2016, reflecting an overall increase of approximately 9.8 percent. Third-quarter sales remained constant at $2.8 billion for both 2017 and 2016.

Third-quarter earnings benefitted from strong performance in crop inputs and animal feed, which were partly offset by lower earnings in dairy foods and investments in Land O'Lakes SUSTAIN. Earnings in crop inputs were driven by higher volumes in alfalfa and improved margins in crop protection products.

Animal feed volumes were lower than 2016 levels but margins and product mix improved across the portfolio. Dairy foods benefited from strong volumes in foodservice but overall margins were lower due to declines in global milk powder markets, which impacted pricing.

CME Group declares dividend for shareholders

CHICAGO, Ill. — CME Group Inc., the world's leading and most diverse derivatives marketplace, declared a fourth-quarter dividend of 66 cents per share, payable Dec. 27, 2017, to shareholders of record as of Dec. 8, 2017.

Through its exchanges, CME offers the widest range of global benchmark products across all major asset classes, including futures and options based on interest rates, equity indexes, foreign exchange, energy, agricultural products and metals. The company also offers clearing and settlement services across asset classes for exchange-traded and over-the-counter derivatives through CME Clearing.

Top dairy co-op rebrands to give dairy farmers an Edge

GREEN BAY, Wis. — Milk is getting a new voice in America’s Heartland. Meet Edge, the dairy farmer cooperative taking a fresh approach to representing its members.

Edge, formerly known as the Dairy Business Milk Marketing Cooperative, has been a game-changer for dairy farmers since its inception in 2010. Tim Trotter, Edge’s executive director, describes the cooperative as an energetic and progressive organization representing all dairy farmers equally.

As Dairy Business Milk Marketing Cooperative, the organization led a cost reduction for farmers in verification co-ops throughout the market and broke away from traditional bloc voting by giving each member a vote. The cooperative also elevated the voice of farmers in federal policy discussions about global markets, supply management, immigration reform and other issues.

Now with nearly 800 members from farms of all sizes in nine states, the co-op is one of the top in the country for milk volume, sitting at No. 5 on the Hoard’s Dairyman Top 50 list. During the past two years, the cooperative accelerated its progressive development and increased its value for members.

Over the next several months, the former company and name will be phased out. Farmers who are not currently members have a fresh opportunity to join the cooperative. In addition to further strengthening its members’ influence on Capitol Hill, Edge will continue to fulfill requirements of Federal Milk Marketing Orders as a verification cooperative and provide market information. For more information, visit