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Business Report - March 13, 2019
 

Specialty crop grants available for Indiana producers

INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. — The Indiana State Department of Agriculture is accepting grant applications to grow the state’s specialty crop sector. These crops include fruits, vegetables, dried fruit, tree nuts, horticulture, and nursery crops.

The federally funded Specialty Crop Block Grant program works to enhance the competitiveness of specialty crops in the marketplace. Applications are open to academic institutions, nonprofit organizations, state and local governments, producer associations, community-based organizations, and other specialty crop stakeholders.

Priority will be given to projects that address issues affecting the specialty crop sector, such as enhancing food safety, improving efficiency and reducing costs of distribution systems, and developing new and improved seed varieties. Grants will not be awarded to projects that benefit a particular commercial product, or provide a profit to a single organization, institution, or individual.

Indiana has not yet received the total allocation amount from USDA but that information is expected to be announced in the coming months. For more information, visit www.isda.in.gov

Applications are due by March 22. A full list of specialty crops is available at www.ams.usda.gov/services/grants/scbgp/specialty-crop

CME soliciting comments on cattle futures contract changes

CHICAGO, Ill. — The Chicago Mercantile Exchange, Inc. (CME) is soliciting additional feedback from market participants regarding potential amendments to the Live Cattle Futures contract.

The Exchange invites comment on the implementation of a mechanism to update the Choice/Select quality percentage of the par value of the CME Live Cattle futures contract using a weekly public report published by the USDA. Learn more about the proposal online at https://bit.ly/2C4X7Yr

The comment period is open through March 22, and respondents may submit written feedback to Jim Sullivan at 312-930-2308 or Jim.Sullivan@cmegroup.com or Sarah Calhoun at Sarah.Calhoun@cmegroup.com or 312-338-2888.

Tennessee cotton producers to vote in boll weevil referendum

NASHVILLE, Tenn. — Agriculture Commissioner Charlie Hatcher, DVM has announced a referendum of cotton growers on continuing an assessment to fund the Boll Weevil Eradication Program (BWEP). Tennessee producers will be able to vote until March 22 at local USDA Farm Service Agency offices.

Tennessee Code Annotated 43-6-425, which governs the Boll Weevil Eradication Program, provides that a referendum authorizing assessments be held at least every 10 years. The BWEP was first implemented in Tennessee in 1994.

The program allowed cotton producers to fund efforts in conjunction with other cotton-producing states to spray, trap, and conduct ongoing surveillance for controlling boll weevils. Tennessee was officially eradicated of the boll weevil in 2009. The current focus of the program is to monitor for and prevent the boll weevil’s reintroduction to the state.

Assessments on Tennessee cotton producers fully fund the BWEP at this time. The ballot caps the rate at $5 per acre, as did the referendum in 2009; however, the assessment rate has not exceeded $1.50 per acre since 2010.

Votes will be counted on March 27 at 9 a.m. at the West Tennessee AgResearch and Education Center in Jackson. For more information, visit https://bit.ly/2VLuM0V

New round of Tennessee ag enterprise fund recipients

NASHVILLE, Tenn. — Six more Tennessee businesses will now have the opportunity to grow and positively impact rural economies through grants provided by the Agriculture Enterprise Fund (AEF).

Tennessee Agriculture Commissioner Jai Templeton and Economic and Community Development Deputy Assistant Commissioner Brooxie Carlton announced the fifth round of recipients of funding through the program. A product of the Governor’s Rural Task Force, the AEF supports job creation and economic growth by facilitating ag development. It provides assistance to new and expanding Tennessee agriculture, forestry and food businesses, particularly in rural counties.

New grant recipients and projects include:

•Clark Lumber, Macon County – expanding production capacity

•Fayette Packing, Fayette County – adding a processing room

•Lost State Distilling, Sullivan County – creating a new distilling business that will use locally produced grain

•Nash Family Creamery, Bedford County – adding a creamery

•Shop Springs Creamery, Wilson County – adding a creamery

•Waverly Wood, Humphreys County – adding a pine scragg mill to produce pine lumber for pallet manufacturers

Over $150K raised for Western Equipment Dealers foundations

CALGARY, Alberta — The Western Equipment Dealers Assoc. (WEDA) is thrilled to announce more than $150,000 was raised at its International Dealer Conference for WEDA's Foundations. Funds raised will go toward scholarships to support career and technical education programs for ag equipment technicians.

Recognizing critical labor shortages of properly trained dealership employees, the Canada Equipment Dealers Foundation (CEDF) and the Western Equipment Dealers Foundation (WEDF) were established as the arms-length charitable organizations of WEDA. Focusing on professional education and workforce development issues specific to the industry, they help to fund educational programs and services for agricultural, industrial and outdoor power equipment dealers across North America.

Since its inception in 2015, the WEDF has raised more than $110,000 through fundraising events and $70,000 has been spent on scholarships and other programs. The CEDF and WEDF goals are to build a $1 million endowment fund to ensure equipment dealers continue to have the people and skills to be successful.

For information on ways to give and participate, call John Schmeiser, WEDA CEO, at 403-250-7581.

Vets Plus acquires Merrick’s, serving production animal biz

MENOMONIE, Wis. — Vets Plus, Inc., a Wisconsin-based manufacturer of animal health and nutrition products, announced it has acquired Merrick’s Inc., maker of boluses, tablets, powders and electrolytes serving the production animal industry.

The new entity, known as Merrick’s Animal Health, LLC, acquired Merrick’s assets effective Dec. 14, 2018. It will be a wholly-owned subsidiary of Vets Plus, the Menomonie-based company founded in 1990 by Rajiv Lall. Vets Plus is an innovation leader in the global animal health industry, employing more than 200 people at its Menomonie campus.

Merrick’s Animal Health will continue to manufacture and sell its full line of products from its manufacturing plant in Wonewoc, Wis. Sales and customer service operations will remain at its Middleton office. All Merrick’s employees will stay with the new entity.

Raven Industries closes deal to acquire AgSync of Indiana

SIOUX FALLS, S.D. — Raven Industries announced it has completed the acquisition of substantially all of the assets of AgSync, Inc., headquartered in Wakarusa, Ind.

This acquisition will immediately align under the company’s Applied Technology division, a leading technology provider in the precision agriculture industry, and greatly enhance its Slingshot platform by delivering a seamless logistics solution for ag retailers, custom applicators and enterprise farms.

AgSync, established in 2008, has developed solutions for ag retailers, aerial applicators, forestry, seed companies and enterprise customers to overcome challenges related to managing large fleets, multiple locations, limited personnel and disconnected software systems in their operations. As AgSync has been a Raven Slingshot partner for several years, the acquisition will further integrate its capabilities into the platform and into the cabs of various application equipment.

Copperhead Agricultural Products acquires RK Products

SIOUX FALLS, S.D. — Two great agricultural companies are coming together to provide enhanced products for farmers. Copperhead Agricultural Products, based in Sioux Falls, will acquire RK Products, based in Moline, Ill., and founded by Phil Kester.

Since 2015, Copperhead Ag and RK Products have been working in partnership to expand the RK footprint so even more farmers can take advantage of their products. In 2018, after 20 years in the business, the Kester family made the tough choice to sell their company in order to focus on other areas.

Products that will be available under the RK line include the gauge wheel arm pivot kit and the closing wheel frame pivot kit. The kits upgrade pivot and wear points on the gauge wheel arm and closing wheel frame. These kits, now offered by Copperhead Ag, provide an improved design to those components while repairing previous wear and significantly reducing future wear, without compromise.

Young Farmers announce new name for 50th anniversary

INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. — Hundreds of Hoosier young farmers traveled to Indianapolis in January for the annual Indiana Farm Bureau (INFB) Young Farmer Conference. 2019 marks the 50th anniversary of INFB’s program for young farmers.

Program leaders also announced an updated name at the conference, which puts a stronger focus on the important role agribusiness professionals play in the program. Now referred to as Young Farmers and Ag Professionals, INFB’s grassroots leadership program is for members under 40 years of age.

As the landscape of agriculture continues to change, with fewer individuals directly involved in production agriculture and more in business roles that support agriculture, the new name symbolizes INFB’s focus on involving all young professionals in the industry.

Several INFB members and county young farmer programs were honored for their accomplishments in 2018. For the second year in a row, Spencer County Farm Bureau’s young farmer program was recognized with the Outstanding County Young Farmer Award, given to the top program in the state. Johnson and Fulton counties were runners-up.

Vanderburgh County Farm Bureau was recognized as the Most Improved Young Farmer Program this year. This is based on a comparison of activities of the past three years and how the activities and programs of that county’s young farmer program have improved.

Three county young farmer programs were recognized for contributions to Feeding America, a nonprofit with a nationwide network of more than 200 food banks that feed more than 46 million people. Kosciusko County Farm Bureau donated the most nonperishable food items, a total of 4,600 pounds, and Whitley County donated the most money, $300. Tippecanoe County donated the most time, at 102 hours.

Conference attendees also raised money for two other special causes, the Indiana 4-H Foundation and the FFA Foundation. The People’s Choice Award winner was new INFB Young Farmers and Ag Professionals Chair Jake Smoker from LaPorte County. A live auction and other fundraising activities raised the total funds donated to $4,343, for the agriculture youth organizations.

Grants awarded to strengthen state’s livestock sector

INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. — The Indiana State Department of Agriculture (ISDA) awarded more than $70,000 in matching grant funds to 13 projects designed to promote and grow the state’s livestock sector.

The grants were awarded to nonprofit organizations, commissions and associations, which were eligible to receive a 50 percent match by the state. The funding can be used for either promotional or market development purposes, and projects were selected based on those that had the greatest impact on Indiana agriculture.

Most of this year’s projects will be used to conduct events and conferences, educational programs and industry studies. The following list includes the organizations that received funding for the 2019 grant cycle and their purpose:

Franklin County 4-H Assoc.: Franklin County Open Breeding and Market Sheep Show, $2,300

Illinois Indiana Bison Assoc.: 2019 IIBA Spring Educational Conference, $3,000

Indiana Beef Cattle Assoc.: Hoosier Beef Congress, $5,000

Indiana Forage Council, Inc.: Heart of America Grazing Conference, $7,600

The Indiana Junior Hereford Assoc.: The IJHA Preview Show, $750

Indiana Milk Quality Professionals, Inc.: Indiana Milk Quality Conference, $5,750

Indiana Milking Shorthorn Society: American Milking Shorthorn National Convention, $9,400

Indiana Pork Producers Assoc.: Data Collection Study, $15,000

Indiana State Board of Animal Health: Tag Trade IN Program, $10,100

Indiana State Fair Foundation, Inc.: Celebration of Champions, $5,000

Maconaquah FFA: Project “Get your GOAT” (Goal Oriented and Analytical Thinkers), $3,000

Maconaquah Middle School: Maconaquah Cattle Co. $2,500

North Putnam Dollars for Scholars: Putnam County Farm to Fork Dinner, $1,400

For more information about ISDA’s livestock promotion and market development grants, visit www.isda.in.gov

Farmers have cost-share opportunity for certification program

NASHVILLE, Tenn. — Tennessee farmers looking to expand their markets and increase food safety by becoming good agricultural practices (GAP) certified now have the opportunity to receive financial assistance from the Tennessee Department of Agriculture (TDA).

GAP certification allows producers to sell directly to more businesses and institutions with stringent food safety requirements, such as grocery stores or hospitals. These new opportunities allow producers to increase their income, and the certification helps to ensure food is safe and wholesome for specialty crops throughout Tennessee.

The application period closes August 31. Qualified producers will have the opportunity to offset the cost of a GAP Certification inspection by being reimbursed 75 percent of the inspection cost up to $750. Funds are available on a first come, first served basis. Grant funds are available to producers only; warehouses and distributors may not apply.

Find more information and the application at www.tn.gov/agriculture/farms/produce-nursery/gap.html or by emailing Grant Pulse at grant.pulse@tn.gov

Ohio cheese wins U.S. Championship Cheese Contest

GREEN BAY, Wis. (AP) — A cheese from Ohio captured the top spot at the U.S. Championship Cheese Contest in Wisconsin.

The baby Swiss made by Guggisberg Cheese in Millersburg, Ohio, barely edged out a Gouda made by Marieke Penterman in Thorp, who won the contest in 2013. Penterman was also the second runner-up with another Gouda.

The winners were announced at the KI Convention Center in Green Bay March 7, following the three-day event at the Lambeau Field Atrium. It's considered the largest technical cheese, butter and yogurt competition in the country. Entries came from 35 states. They're judged on flavor, body, texture, salt, color, finish, and packaging.

Organizers said there were 2,555 entries this year, an 11 percent increase compared to 2017, the last year the biennial event was held.

AFIA announces 2018 Feed Facility of the Year winners

ARLINGTON, Va. — The American Feed Industry Assoc. (AFIA) and Feedstuffs are proud to announce four category winners for the 2018 Feed Facility of the Year (FFY) program.

AFIA congratulates Famo Feeds of Freeport, Minn., as the winner of the commercial dry livestock feed plant category, as well as being named the Overall Winner at the International Production & Processing Expo last month.

Koch Foods of Morton, Miss., is the winner of the integrator category; Quality Liquid Feeds of Clovis, N.M., is the winner of the liquid feed plant category; and Trouw Nutrition of Highland, Ill., is the winner of the 2018 premix manufacturing plant category.

The FFY award program is recognized as a first-class benchmarking program for the animal food industry.

FCMA to distribute $146 million from Patronage program

LOUISVILLE, Ky. — For the third year in a row, Farm Credit Mid-America (FCMA) is returning money to eligible customers as part of its Patronage program. This year, the financial services cooperative will distribute record Patronage – $146 million – to eligible customers.

Last year, the association shared back $87.9 million, and in 2016, its first year for Patronage, it distributed $27.8 million, for a three-year average of $87 million. Patronage is not a guarantee – the association's board annually has to approve the program, and not all customers will receive a check. Of the association's $23-billion portfolio, $11.4 billion is Patronage-eligible.

Association leaders will personally deliver Patronage checks by hand – 36,000 total checks that exceed $20,000 – with the remaining arriving by mail the week of March 25-29. The average check amount is about $3,000, and there are 1,000 checks that are greater than $20,000.

Patronage is considered taxable income. For the 2019 Patronage program, FCMA in January 2020 will send an IRS Form to Patronage-eligible recipients, who are encouraged to speak with their financial advisor. For more information on the program, visit e-farmcredit.com/Patronage

CME Group increases regular quarterly dividend by 7 percent

CHICAGO, Ill. — CME Group, Inc. declared a first-quarter dividend of 75 cents per share, a 7 percent increase from the prior rate of 70 cents per share. The dividend is payable March 25 to shareholders of record as of March 8, 2019.

As the world's leading and most diverse derivatives marketplace, CME enables clients to trade futures, options, cash and OTC markets, optimize portfolios, and analyze data, empowering market participants worldwide to efficiently manage risk and capture opportunities.

County Bancorp of Wisconsin declares quarterly dividend

MANITOWOC, Wis. — County Bancorp, Inc., the parent company for Investors Community Bank, announced on Feb. 19 its board of directors declared a quarterly cash dividend of 5 cents per share. The dividend will be payable on March 22 to shareholders of record as of March 8, 2019.

County Bancorp, Inc., a Wisconsin corporation and registered bank holding company founded in May 1996, and its wholly-owned subsidiary Investors Community Bank, a Wisconsin-chartered bank, are headquartered in Manitowoc.

 

3/15/2019