College of ACES
College News

USDA unveils online resource to help farmers select new Farm Bill programs

Published September 26, 2014

URBANA, Ill.  – The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) launched a new online resource this week to help farmers across the country make important decisions on new Farm Bill created safety net programs.

The Web tool, located at, allows farmers to evaluate the levels of coverage offered by the new Agriculture Risk Coverage (ARC) and Price Loss Coverage (PLC) programs. Using the online resource producers will be able to use data unique to their specific farming operation along with factors like geographical diversity of crops, soils, weather and climates across the country to test a variety of financial scenarios before officially signing up for the new program options by the winter. This will help farmers better understand and select the program they need.

“The 2014 Farm Bill offers several new programs and USDA is committed to educating farmers on these options so that producers can plan for the future and protect their business,” said Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack. “The new Web tool will help ensure that producers have the information they need to make critical decisions and better determine what participation in either program will mean for their business.”

Landowners and famers also have the option of meeting with dedicated representatives at their local Farm Service Agency office beginning Monday, Sept. 29 when landowners can update yields and reallocate base acres and later this fall, famers can make decisions on safety net options.

The Web tool was developed with a $3 million USDA grant to the Food and Agricultural Policy Research Institute (FAPRI) at the University of Missouri and the Agricultural and Food Policy Center (AFPC) at Texas A&M (co-leads for the National Association of Agricultural and Food Policy), along with the University of Illinois (lead for the National Coalition for Producer Education).

“The new resource is a user-friendly option that farmers can access from anywhere, at any time,” said Vilsack. “They can use their home computer, Smartphone or any other mobile device to explore a variety of coverage options to determine which program is right for them.”

This summer, producers received information regarding their current base acres, yields and planting history, based on USDA records. Farmers can now use new Web tool to input their information and analyze their options before electing Agriculture Risk Coverage or Price Loss Coverage. Once a producer officially enrolls in the program of their choice, they will remain in that specific program through the 2018 crop year. 

Agriculture Risk Coverage and Price Loss Coverage covered commodities include barley, canola, large and small chickpeas, corn, crambe, flaxseed, grain sorghum, lentils, mustard seed, oats, peanuts, dry peas, rapeseed, rice, safflower seed, sesame, soybeans, sunflower seed and wheat.

Producers will have time to use the new Web tool before officially enrolling in the program for the 2014 and 2015 crop years. If market conditions warrant, payments for the 2014 crop will be issued beginning October 2015.

This week’s announcement was made possible through the 2014 Farm Bill, which builds on historic economic gains in rural America over the past five years, while achieving meaningful reform and billions of dollars in savings for the taxpayer. Since enactment, USDA has made significant progress to implement each provision of this critical legislation, including providing disaster relief to farmers and ranchers; strengthening risk management tools; expanding access to rural credit; funding critical research; establishing innovative public-private conservation partnerships; developing new markets for rural-made products; and investing in infrastructure, housing and community facilities to help improve quality of life in rural America. For more information, visit

The official regulations governing the Agriculture Risk Coverage and Price Loss Coverage programs were published Thursday in the Federal Register.

Small farms webinar: Growing garlic for fun or market

Published September 23, 2014

URBANA, Ill. Garlic continues to grow in popularity among backyard gardeners and small farm growers, according to a University of Illinois Extension small farms and local foods program coordinator.

If you are new to growing this crop, U of I Extension will present a lunch time webinar on growing garlic from noon to 1 p.m. on Sept. 30. The webinar will cover the specifics of when and how to grow garlic as well as tips on ensuring a productive crop, said Miki White.

The speaker for the webinar will be Kyle Cecil, a U of I Extension small farms and local foods educator.     

To register go to

University of Illinois Extension provides equal opportunities in programs and employment.

News Source:

Miki White, 309-342-5108

Workshop helps to educate professionals in Southeast Asia animal feed industry

Published September 22, 2014

URBANA, Ill. – With a growing population and increasing wealth, Southeast Asia is experiencing a rapid rise in demand for meat. As a consequence, maximizing growth performance of food animals as economically as possible is a priority for Asian producers. Researchers from the University of Illinois, in collaboration with U.S. Soybean Export Council (USSEC) and U.S. Grains Council (USGC), recently completed a successful workshop to educate feed mill managers, nutritionists, and feed formulators in Southeast Asia on "The Basics of Nutrition to Maximize Animal Performance."

The 20th Southeast Asian Feed Technology and Nutrition Workshop was held in Manila, the Philippines, August 4-7. More than 100 invited participants from feed companies in Southeast Asia participated in the short course on pig and poultry nutrition. The technical program was planned by University of Illinois professor of animal sciences Hans H. Stein.

"This is a great example of how U of I Extension can partner with American commodity groups to develop Extension programs to help disseminate knowledge across the globe," Stein said.

Shellen Ng from USGC Malaysia agreed. "These types of programs have huge impacts because the knowledge base of professionals in the feed industry is being updated. This will not only benefit producers and consumers in Southeast Asia. The increased production of pigs and poultry in Asia will also increase the demand for U.S. soybean meal, grain, and grain co-products, and thus, benefit U.S. soybean and grain producers," she said.

The course focused on basic concepts of energy metabolism and metabolism of carbohydrates, proteins, and lipids. The program consisted of lectures by experts in the field of pig and poultry nutrition, as well as a one-afternoon workshop on a topic selected by participants. Two of the six presenters, Stein and Ph. D. candidate Kelly Sotak, were from U of I. Bill Dozier of Auburn University, Martin Nyachoti of the University of Manitoba, Ravi Ravindran of Massey University in New Zealand, and Beob Gyun Kim of Konkuk University in South Korea also presented at the course.

Basilisa P. Reas, USSEC technical representative in the Philippines, stressed that the information presented was of particular relevance to an Asian audience. "The workshop provided the participants with new and updated information on animal nutrition and the concepts that were demonstrated at this meeting will be rapidly implemented and will have a positive impact on pig and poultry production throughout Southeast Asia,” she said.

Overall, Stein said the program was a great success. "All participants were very interested in the topic areas, and they gained valuable knowledge about basic aspects of nutrition that will help them in their daily jobs as nutritionists in the Southeast Asia feed industry."

Miriam Tempra, technical manager at Nuevo Milenio, Inc., was one of the participants in the program. "I was very fortunate to have attended the 20th workshop this year with Dr. Hans H. Stein spearheading the discussions, and I gained a vast amount of practical information from the experts," Tempra said. "This seminar made me realize that I still have a lot of concepts to explore and verify in my work as an animal nutritionist."

The United States Department of Agriculture and the South Dakota Soybean Research and Promotion Council provided financial support for the workshop.

Putting small acres to good use: Workshop series announced

Published September 22, 2014

URBANA, Ill. – Putting a few extra acres to work can bring in additional income, provide an opportunity to experiment with a new enterprise, or develop an interest or hobby for its educational or entertainment value, according to a University of Illinois Extension local foods and small farms educator.

“How to get started is the question,” said Deborah Cavanaugh-Grant.

The University of Illinois Extension local foods and small farms team is sponsoring a series of workshops on a variety of topics to help people who have a few acres learn ways that they can put them to use.

“Putting Small Acres to Work” workshops will be offered between Nov. 1, 2014 and March 7, 2015 at locations throughout Illinois. Topics and presenters will vary at each location, but will include: season extension, vegetable and fruit production, livestock production, choosing scale-appropriate equipment, soil health, beekeeping, herb production, agroforestry, organic production, integrated pest management, and composting.

“You don’t have to own hundreds of acres to create a profitable business,” Cavanaugh-Grant said. “We developed these workshops to help people realize the possibilities that a few acres can provide.”

Workshops will be held on the following dates:

  • Nov. 1 - Sauk Valley Community College, Dixon
  • Dec. 6 - NIU Rockford Meeting and Conference Center, Rockford
  • Dec. 6 - Tony Noel Agricultural Technology Applications Center at Parkland College, Champaign
  • Jan. 21 - Franklin County Extension Office, Benton
  • February 14 - John Wood Community College, Quincy
  • March 7 - Lincoln Land Community College, Hillsboro

Details and registration are available online at or by contacting Cavanaugh-Grant at 217-782-4617 or

Monitoring corn and soybean consumption

Published September 22, 2014

URBANA, Ill. - The corn and soybean markets appear to be expecting the USDA’s already very large U.S. production forecasts to be increased in the October 10 Crop Production report, said University of Illinois agricultural economist Darrel Good.

“Larger crop expectations stem from expectations for higher yield forecasts, with some disagreement about the prospects for changes in acreage estimates. The implication of large crops for the magnitude of year-ending stocks obviously depends on the consumption response,” he noted.

As indicated in earlier newsletters (August 11 and August 25), the markets will continue to monitor the pace of consumption relative to USDA projections in order to form expectations of the magnitude of year-ending stocks, he said.

“Some of the consumption response can be monitored directly from periodic reports of exports and export sales, ethanol production, the domestic soybean crush, and crop inventories. Other responses can be monitored only indirectly from estimates of livestock inventory and livestock production intentions,” he added.

For corn, the USDA has projected 2014-15 marketing year exports at 1.75 billion bushels, 175 million less than exported last year. The expected decline in exports reflects an expected decline in world trade, not a loss of market share, he said.

The USDA’s weekly Export Sales report indicated that, as of Sept. 11, 513.3 million bushels of U.S. corn had been sold for export during the current marketing year. That total is only 7 million bushels less than sales of a year earlier even though sales to China are down by 122 million bushels. Sales are larger to Japan and several western hemisphere countries, particularly, Columbia, Good noted.

“Export inspections during the first three and a half weeks of the marketing year were about twice as large as in the same period last year. The variation in the seasonal pattern of both export sales and shipments from year to year, however, means that early-season activity is not always a good indicator of marketing-year export demand. Still, the current pace of export activity is encouraging,” he said.

The USDA has projected marketing-year ethanol use of corn at 5.125 billion bushels, equal to use of the past year. With prospects for limited increase in domestic consumption of ethanol, the year-over-year change in ethanol production and corn consumption will primarily reflect changes in trade activity. Current prospects favor a continuation of large net exports of ethanol for the U.S. this year, he said.

Ethanol production in the first half of September was about 10 percent larger than production of a year earlier, but stocks also increased to an 18-month high. At this early stage, expectations for corn consumption for ethanol do not differ from the USDA projection, he said.

Good said that the USDA has projected marketing-year feed and residual use of corn at 5.325 billion bushels, 150 million bushels larger than the current forecast of last year’s consumption. The estimate of last year’s consumption will be finalized with the release of the Sept. 1 stocks estimate on Sept. 30. Indicators of feed and residual use of corn are limited, and forming expectations about use is made difficult by the varying magnitude of residual use from year to year. Use is revealed quarterly based on the USDA’s quarterly Grain Stocks report.

“Still, livestock numbers are monitored, along with the price relationships of various feed ingredients, to gauge prospects for underlying feed demand for corn. The most recent USDA reports reveal a modest year-over-year expansion of 1 to 2 percent in the number of broiler chicks placed on feed, an increase of about 0.5 percent in the number of dairy cows, and about 1 percent fewer cattle on feed,” Good said.

The USDA’s quarterly Hogs and Pigs report to be released on Sept. 26 will be closely watched for any signs of expansion in the pork sector, he added.

For soybeans, the USDA projects the 2014-15 marketing year crush at 1.77 billion bushels, 40 million more than crushed the previous year. The National Oilseed Processor Association (NOPA) crush report for September, to be released on Oct. 15, will provide the first look at the pace of crush this year, he advised.

Marketing-year exports are projected at 1.7 billion bushels, 55 million bushels larger than exports of last year. The USDA’s weekly Export Sales report indicated that as of Sept. 11, 935.7 million bushels of U.S. soybeans had been sold for export during the current marketing year, 95 million more than sales of a year earlier. Most of that increase was to unknown destinations, with sales to China down about 40 million bushels, he said.

Since Sept. 11, however, the USDA has reported export sales of about 81 million bushels under its requirement to report large daily sales. Similar large sales were made during the same period last year. Exports during the first three and a half weeks of the marketing year were quite small as is normally the case, but they were larger than shipments in the same period last year. As with corn, conclusions about marketing-year export prospects are difficult to draw from early-season activity, but the current pace of sales is encouraging, he said.

As a whole, Good said, current indicators of corn and soybean consumption do not point to 2014-15 marketing-year consumption that would deviate much from the current USDA projections. Those projections will be updated on Oct. 10, with the Sept. 30 Grain Stocks report providing some insight into the recent pace of feed and residual use of corn.    



pERE Seminar - Andres Ham

12:30 PM - 1:30 PM
137D Davenport

The next pERE seminar is joint with REAL and will be on Monday, September 22 at 12:30 p.m. in 137DE Davenport Hall.

Speaker:  Andres Ham (UIUC, ACE)

Title:  Spatial Dependence and the Estimation of Treatment Effects: A Monte Carlo Study



Test event 1

2:33 PM - 3:33 PM