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INDIANAPOLIS, IN

Farmers off to a good start with spring planting 

Indiana farmers are expected to plant more soybeans this year as prices have gone up, Purdue University agronomist Bob Nielsen says.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture expects farmers in Indiana to plant 6 million acres of soybeans, a 6 percent increase from 2016. Indiana is expected to remain steady in corn acreage with 5.6 million acres, though the USDA expects a 4 percent decrease nationwide.

Nielsen said corn prices are still lackluster, with plenty in storage, and that's driven soybean prices up.

He said planting is "off to a good start" this year, WFYI-TV reported.

"There's certainly nothing on the immediate horizon that would indicate that there's any major problems lurking in the weeks ahead," Nielsen said.

John Richwine, who farms in northern Madison County, said that he's "right on schedule."

"With the right kind of weather we should have the corn planted in early May," he told The Herald Bulletin.

Nielsen expects most Indiana farmers to have their crops planted by the end of May if the weather permits.

MINNEAPOLIS, MN

Minnesota dairies keep WI buyer after all

A handful of Minnesota dairy farms that faced losing their buyer because of a trade dispute with Canada will keep the buyer after all.

That's according to Minnesota Department of Agriculture spokeswoman Margaret Hart.

Hart says the buyer, Grassland Dairy Products of Wisconsin, has agreed to continue buying milk from the Minnesota farms. She said Grassland plans to sell the milk to a Canadian company, Agropur.

A Grassland spokeswoman didn't immediately respond to phone and email messages. Neither did an Agropur spokeswoman.

Grassland had told the farms they would stop buying their milk after a change in Canadian pricing policy effectively boxed out imported milk.

The Minnesota Milk Producers Association earlier said 19 farms were affected. Hart said she knew of only eight to 10.

NAPERVILLE, IL

Automated milking system cleared by FDA 

The Monobox Automated Milking System from GEA is officially released for sale in the U.S. market after being cleared by the FDA for the production of Grade A milk.

“At GEA, we always make milk safety and milk quality our top priorities,” explains Matt Daley, senior vice president of sales for milking and dairy farming. “We are delivering farmers some of the most advanced milking technology on the market, and we worked extensively with state agencies and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), so our customers can be confident that the milk harvested from our equipment is of the highest quality possible and meets all necessary regulatory standards for saleable Grade A milk.”

The Monobox incorporates the same robotic milk module and milk rack as GEA’s DairyProQ automated rotary – just in a box-style configuration. GEA’s unique in-liner-everything technology ensures efficient milking in one quick, uniform procedure. After attachment, each milking step – stimulation, teat cleaning, fore-stripping, milk harvest and post-dipping – is done inside the liner. With a fast milking process, cows spend less time at the milking box and more time eating and resting. Plus, it allows for more milkings per robot per day.

“The efficiency of the milking process is what takes the Monobox to the next level in automation,” says Daley. “The time of flight camera on the milk rack matches the teat cups to the teats for the fastest unit attachment in the industry. It’s an extremely efficient and proven system giving dairy farmers an automated milking option unlike anything else on the market.”

INDIANAPOLIS, IN

Changes coming to IN grain fund

The Indiana Grain Indemnity Corporation and the Indiana State Department of Agriculture informed Hoosier farmers of several changes that have been made to the Indiana Grain Indemnity Fund as a result of legislation enacted by the 2017 Indiana General Assembly. While most are technical in nature, some of the main changes include clarifying whether or not a producer is a participant in the fund and extending the duration of coverage provided by the program.

“Since its inception, the indemnity fund has been an important safety net for Hoosier farmers, providing nearly $9 million in reimbursements,” said Ed Sheldon, Director of the Indiana Grain Buyers and Warehouse Licensing Agency. “With this new law in effect, we want to make sure that Indiana’s grain farmers are aware and understand how these changes could impact their operation.”

The indemnity fund was created in 1995 to protect farmers from major financial losses in the event of a licensed grain buyer or warehouse failure. Managed by the IGIC board of directors, the fund is supported by a 0.2 percent premium on the gross value of all grain marketed to licensed grain buyers during active collection periods.

This new law, House Enrolled Act 1237, specifies that producers, who claimed a refund during the first collection period in the 1990s, are once again protected by the program and do not need to petition the board for re-entry. For producers that requested and received a refund after July 1, 2015, during the second collection period, they are still not covered by the fund and must submit a petition to the board for reinstatement.

In addition, producers are now covered for grain deliveries to licensed grain buyers or warehouses that have occurred up to 15 months prior to the date of failure.

WAVERLY, NE

Midwest farmers feel prepared for next bird flu outbreak 

Midwest farmers are warily watching as one strain of a highly contagious bird flu virus infects and kills humans in China and another less-worrying but still highly contagious strain infects a Tennessee poultry farm. Two years after a devastating bird flu outbreak in the Midwest, many farmers here say they now have a better idea of how to keep bird flu at bay.

In January 2015, avian influenza, or bird flu, appeared in backyard flocks in Washington state. Within six months, the virus reached 15 states, including Iowa, Nebraska, Minnesota, and Missouri. About 50 million birds died.

Bill Bevans says each day on his farm near Waverly in eastern Nebraska started with a pit in his stomach.

“Kind of the feeling of living under a shadow of potential doom,” Bevans says, of watching the news during the 2015 outbreak. “Every time you open the door to your barn you take a sigh of relief when everybody’s still happy and healthy.”

Bevans shows off new biosecurity measures, the rules meant to keep the birds healthy. The first layer of protection: keep uninvited visitors and uninvited germs off the farm. Each barn has a second layer of protection: a bench and containers of chlorine powder blocking the entryway, reminding workers to stop, change their boots and disinfect them before they go in and before they go out.

Those kinds of biosecurity measures are not necessarily new, but on poultry farms throughout the Midwest they have taken on new significance in the wake of the 2015 outbreak.

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