Soybean South

 - INDUSTRY NEWS -

Delta F.A.R.M. approaches 1 million acres

After only 10 years of service, Delta F.A.R.M. (Farmers Advocating Resource Management) is just short of enrolling its millionth acre.

“When Delta F.A.R.M. began, we were confident we would find success,” says Mike Sturdivant, Jr., Delta F.A.R.M. chairman. “However, we didn’t expect to have nearly 40 percent of all of the agricultural land in the region enrolled in the first 10 years of operation.”

Founded in 1998, Delta F.A.R.M. began its service to both agriculture and the environment with a pilot program that included 161,000 acres of cropland in the Yazoo-Mississippi Delta.

The farmer-led group committed themselves to achieving the highest level of voluntary environmental stewardship to enhance and conserve natural resources in northwest Mississippi.

Plans are underway to celebrate the one-millionth-acre milestone in November. Among the many activities scheduled for the event, Syngenta will present Delta F.A.R.M. with a commissioned painting to commemorate the achievement and the long-standing partnership between the organizations.


New quality standards for biodiesel
Arkansas SoyEnergy Group LLC, which operates a soybean oil extraction facility and biodiesel plant located in DeWitt, Ark., applauds new biodiesel specifications recently published by the American Society for Testing and Materials (ASTM). The ASTM standards bring a new level of quality assurance to the industry.

“One of the most important factors in the biodiesel industry’s growth is quality assurance,” says Terry McCullars, General Manager of Arkansas SoyEnergy Group.

ASTM announced revised standards for biodiesel blends of 5 percent (B5) as well as new specifications for biodiesel blends between 6 and 20 percent (B6 and B20). There was also an update to the standard for pure biodiesel (B100). Engine manufacturers, biodiesel producers and petroleum companies all played a major role in developing the standards.

Most major engine manufacturers cover biodiesel usage under their warranties. More information on manufacturer warranties and biodiesel is available at www.biodiesel.org. More information about the new biodiesel standard is available at www.astm.org.


Louisiana soybean specialist named
Dr. Ron Levy has been named the state soybean specialist for the LSU AgCenter effective Sept. 15, 2008. Levy has been the LSU AgCenter county agent in Acadia Parish for more than 20 years, working with rice, soybeans, wheat, turfgrass, grain sorghum and corn.

Levy’s position includes soybean verification, on-farm demonstrations and problem solving using research-based recommendations and information. He will be based at the LSU AgCenter’s Dean Lee Research and Extension Center near Alexandria. Levy’s position also includes working with corn and grain sorghum producers. Research associates Rob Ferguson and Jim Shipp will assist him.

Levy took the job to expand his career. “I thought it would be a new challenge, working in a wider arena and getting to know farmers throughout the state,” he says.


Alabama soybean appointments
Talladega County row-crop farmer David Wilson of Lincoln has been appointed to the United Soybean Board by Secretary of Agriculture Ed Schafer, and Mike Dee of Dee River Ranch in Pickens County has been named as an alternate member of the board.

Both members of the Alabama Farmers Federation, Wilson and Dee were among 19 members and two alternates named by Schafer. Both will serve three-year terms, beginning in December and will represent Mid-South states. Other board members representing the Mid-South states include H. Todd Allen of Arkansas, James Sneed of Mississippi, Jason Bean of Missouri and Gerald Caldwell of Tennessee.


The ‘October surprise’
The Louisiana Farm Bureau says generally when people talk about an “October surprise” this time of year, they’re referring to big news that changes a political race one way or the other.

However, the markets weren’t ready for their surprise in the October USDA report, which “discovered” more than three million more acres than had been reported for the 2007 and 2008 crop years. David Bollich, a grain marketing specialist with the Louisiana Farm Bureau’s Marketing Association, says while some post-harvest yield adjustments have been large, he’s never seen a large acreage adjustment like this.

“The big surprise in this year’s numbers was the increase in planted acres by 2.2 million acres, which is a shock,” Bollich says. “We knew we had an increase in the ’07 crop from the quarterly stocks report. Now we see the reason for that is an increase in the ’07 planted acres by 1.1 million.”

Bollich says the bottom line for soybeans was an overall large increase in supply, but not necessarily an extraordinary one.

“I think when we look at a 65-million bushel increase in last year’s production, that’s really the bug-a-boo that has worked its way all the way through and (was) added to the projected surplus this year,” Bollich says. “We’re now looking at a 220-million bushel carryout for the 08-09 crop year. It’s not extraordinary, but combined with the outside financials, it’s having a big effect.”

Countering some of the soybean surplus was a drop in overall production, a number still being debated by private industry estimates.

“In soybeans, yield was dropped a half-bushel per acre and I think that while there was a lot of disagreement on what we would see, it wasn’t a surprise to see that drop,” he says. “Meanwhile, exports were up by 50 million bushels.

Bollich says regardless of the numbers posted and the soybean October surprise, the outside markets are still the number one factor in the grains and commodities.

“The thing we have to keep in mind about this financial crisis is, are we going to settle down and regain confidence in our markets or is this going to spread?” Bollich says. “If it does, the big fear is it would lower demand for the coming year, and that would be a fundamental negative in the markets. Right now, I’m not factoring that in, but the outside financial crisis still bears watching.”


Spiroflow Systems – VP of sales
Mathias Lee has been named vice president of sales for Spiroflow Systems, Inc. at the company’s headquarters in Char-lotte, N.C. In his new position, Lee will be responsible for all day-to-day sales activities for the United States and Canada and export activities to Mexico, Central America and South America.

Lee joined Spiroflow Systems over three years ago shortly after graduation from Wingate University in Wingate, N.C. with a B.S. degree in Business Management. During his employment at Spiroflow, he worked on the shop floor, in the test lab and in the sales department in the sales development area and most recently as regional sales manager for the Southeast.

According to Spiroflow, Lee has gained a high level of expertise in pinpointing problems and determining solutions to eliminate them.


Jimmy Sanders, Inc. is sold
JSI Parent, Inc. in New York has signed a definitive agreement to acquire Jimmy Sanders, Inc., a perennial CropLife 100 company.

Under the agreement, JSI Parent, Inc. will purchase 100 percent of the retailer’s stock.

A company based in Cleveland, Miss., Jimmy Sanders, Inc. owns and operates 43 retail farm centers located in Mississippi, Arkansas, Tennessee and Louisiana.

Included in the sale is the company’s interest in the Light, Ark., seed plant, the company’s corporate headquarters, river terminals and distribution centers.

JSI Parent, Inc. is an investment company founded by Francis P. Jenkins, Jr. and G. Kenneth Moshenek, both formerly executive management of Royster-Clark, Inc. According to Jenkins, “JSI Parent, Inc. expects to make very few changes and will continue to operate the company as Jimmy Sanders, Inc. and will maintain its headquarters in Cleveland, Miss.”


Nominate now!

To recognize the outstanding contributions made to Louisi-ana through agriculture, the La. Agri-News Network, LFBF, LSU AgCenter and La. Department of Agri-culture and Forestry will honor the 2009 Louisiana Farmer of the Year.

Nominations for the award are being accepted now through Dec. 15, 2008. Appli-cation forms can be obtained at any parish LSU AgCenter Exten-sion Service office or online at www.lsuagcenter.com/farmeroftheyear. Producers from all areas of agriculture are eligible to enter.