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Issues with dams, river locks
could hurt soybean markets
Industry officials fear that river conditions could be hurting soybean farmers’ ability to market their crops.
With soy being a large commodity in Shelby County, producers already may be aware of the issue raised this week by the United Soybean Board, which said in a report that the deteriorating condition of the U.S. lock and dam system could bring “severe economic distress.”
The report said that more than half of the structures that are part of the U.S. inland waterway system for river barge shipping exceed their 50-year usable lifespan and more than one-third surpass 70 years of age, a situation that generally requires significant rehabilitation.
“The GO committee invested in this study to calculate the impact of the worsening condition of the lock and dam system and what the impact would be on the rail and highway system if those locks failed,” said Laura Foell, soybean farmer from Schaller, Iowa, and chair of the GO committee. “It is important for all in the industry and in the public sector to have the information necessary to make informed decisions when it comes to investing in our locks and dams.”
Just on the Ohio River alone, the accumulated shipping delays at broken-down locks has more than tripled since 2000, rising from 25,000 hours to 80,000 annually. And that gets expensive. This study shows that a three-month lock closure would increase the cost of transporting 5.5 million tons of oilseeds and grain, the average shipped by barge during that period, by $71.6 million. A failure at any of the locks examined by the study could cost U.S. farmers up to $45 million in lost revenue.
The U.S. inland waterways represent key infrastructure for transporting U.S. soybeans. Up to 89 percent of soybeans exported through the lower Mississippi ports, such as the Port of New Orleans, arrive at those ports in barges that must transit multiple locks for the trip downstream.
Grain farmer reimbursed for lost revenue
Kentucky Agriculture Commissioner James Comer issued a relief payment to a Waynesburg grain farmer who failed to get paid when he sold his grain to a company that filed bankruptcy. Randy Rowe, who produces grain and raises cattle, received $15,078.40 in aid from the Grain Insurance Fund. He is the first farmer to receive relief from that $5 million fund in almost seven years.
The Grain Insurance Fund is administered through and regulated by the state Department of Agriculture. When the Department receives information that a farmer sold grain to a licensed facility and failed to receive payment, its inspectors audit the troubled facility’s books, approach the aggrieved farmer and request proof of loss from the farmer. Through the fund, the Department can then fulfill up to 80 percent of the claim. Grain farmers pay for this fund through assessments, but the fund has been capped for years, and many farmers are unaware of its existence.
“When I found out I could recover this loss, I was shocked,” Rowe said. “I am so grateful to the Department of Agriculture for seeking me out, and I am hopeful that other farmers can receive the same assistance in the future.”
§ The Vegetable Academy: A Short Course to Advanced Vegetable Production in Kentucky will be 8 a.m.-4 p.m. Tuesday and Wednesday at the Henry County Extension Office. Participants will gain valuable knowledge in irrigation and fertility management, variety selection, post-harvest handling, organic production, weed management, insect management and identification, equipment usage and marketing, which includes the farm-to-school program. Registration will cost $30 and is payable at the door or in advance. Pre-register by calling 633-4593.
§ A healthy horse seminar will be 9 a.m.-2 p.m. Feb. 4 at the Shelby County Extension Office. The seminar, presented by Drs. Jack Easley, Sheena Bowen, Ryan Wonderlich, Kerry Beckman and Erica Tolar, is designed to help horse enthusiasts learn more about equine health and management. There is no cost to attend, but reservation is required in order to provide lunch free of charge to everyone. Topics will include vaccination scheduling, deworming programs, mare care, eye care and dentistry. Call 633-0112 by Saturday with questions or to register.
§ The San-N-Tone horse show series for 2011-12 will continue at 9 a.m. Feb. 5 at the Shelby County Fairgrounds (indoor arena). Classes entered by Thursday before the show (no phone entries please) will be $10 per class. It’s $12 the day of the show; stalls are $20; and grounds fee $5. For more information, contact Sandy Stewart 502-241-1262 (voicemail) or 502-722-9330, E-mail SANNTONESHOW@yahoo.com or visit www.san-n-tone.com. There also is a show scheduled for March 4.
§ The National Farm Machinery Show will be Feb. 15-18 at the Kentucky Fair & Exposition Center in Louisville. For schedules, ticket prices and additional information, visit http://www.farmmachineryshow.org.
§ A short series of classes for current Master Gardeners will be held this winter. Classes will be taught by specialists at UK via the Lync video conferencing system. Courses will be: 6-8 p.m. Feb. 6, entomology, Lee Townsend; 6-8 p.m. Feb. 21, soils, Bob Pearce; time and location will be announced for pruning demonstration on March 9 by Brett Reese. Call 633-4593 to register for any or all of these courses.
§ Professional Bull Riders will bring their Louisville Invitational to the Kentucky Exposition Center at 8 p.m. Feb. 24-25. Tickets are available for $42, $32, $22 and $16 for adults/reserved and $11 for youth (12 and under) reserved. Prices include facility fees. All ticket prices increase by $2 on the day of show. Tickets may be purchased at the KFC Yum Center, the Kentucky Exposition Center, the Kentucky International Convention Center ticket offices and Ticketmaster at 800-745-3000 or www.ticketmaster.com. Group discounts are available by calling 502-595-3555 or 877-306-1919.
§ The Kentucky Horse Park is hosting its second free gelding clinic on March 10. Applications are currently being accepted, and the clinic is open to any horse whose owner who is financially unable to afford the surgery. Castrations will be performed by a veterinarian or a veterinary student under close supervision by a licensed veterinarian. Stallions must be halter broke, in good health, with two descended testicles and be at least four months of age, with current Coggins and health certificate. A $20 registration-processing fee will be charged to help offset some of the expenses. For application or additional information, contact Sheila Forbes at Sheila.Forbes@ky.gov or 859-233-4305.
The Kentucky Ag Report is compiled weekly from news releases distributed by Keeton Communications, the Kentucky Press Association News Content Service.