About Reynolds Farm Equipment

Reynolds Farm Equipment has been an authorized John Deere dealer serving central Indiana since 1955. We are an authorized John Deere dealer that markets John Deere Tractors, John Deere Farm Equipment, John Deere Agricultural Equipment, John Deere Commercial Worksite Equipment, John Deere Golf and Turf Equipment, John Deere Lawn and Garden Equipment, John Deere New Parts, John Deere Used Parts, John Deere Tractor Parts, and John Deere Toys. Our blog, John Deere Stuff, will provide you with useful information related to our business in the farming equipment industry.

If you are looking for further John Deere information or products, visit the Reynolds Farm Equipment website.

Monday, October 26, 2009

John Deere Reel Mowers

From John Deere International

The best seat on your course may well be in the John Deere 1905. This five-unit reel mower features an optional deluxe cabin, prepared with integrated air conditioning for those days when you just can’t beat the heat. A great example of operating comfort is an integrated armrest control for convenient operation. Reels are lifted or lowered by fingertip switches integrated in the CommandArm armrest. And all the operating controls are right at your fingertips.

But where the 1905 line of reel mowers really succeeds is in the area of high-volume mowing. These are excellent mowing units: five John Deere-built ESP (Extra Strength and Precision) 76 cm (30 in) reels. The ESP cutting units provide a patented heavier frame that will sit down tighter and stay in contact with the turf.

A powerful 2190 cc Yanmar Engine with a rated power of 31kW (41.5 hp) helps drive the 1905 through the toughest of conditions. Yet even with all of this power the 1905 has remarkably low sound levels. It also has perfect balance, which will help your crew as they navigate around bunkers and mounds.

The 1905 has plenty of other user-friendly features: a central quick-lift for simultaneously lifting all five units; height adjustable and tilt steering option. And while the 1905 is simple to operate, it’s also safe, thanks to the Safety Interlock System, controlled by the patented White Box.

Deere 8R Series Provides 360-Degree Lighting

From the Prairie Star

Safety comes first in the field, on the farm, and on the road. Good lighting on tractors is an important key to keeping everyone safe 24 hours a day.

Tractor engineers are designing new lighting systems for crop producers who need greater nighttime visibility.

Faced with a need for 360-degree lighting, John Deere engineers used computer software to design and place lights on their newest line of tractors.

“With the new 8R and 8RT Series, the lights within the roof are not adjustable. We've specifically built them to cover a 360-degree pattern around the tractor without having to be adjusted,” said Chad Hogan, John Deere product line marketing manager.

Designed for row-crop farming, the 8R Series' Standard lighting package includes two rear-facing, two front corner and two rear corner 65-watt cab roof halogen flood lights to provide 330 degrees of lighting. Hood lighting provides the remaining 30 degrees for complete stadium-style lighting.

In all, the Standard package comes with 18 lights plus extremity warning lights. Deluxe and Premium packages offer even more lights.

There are many reasons that customers have asked for increased tractor lighting.

“I would say, the increased demand for AutoTrack on tractors has certainly increased the desire for customers to have better lighting,” said Hogan.

Some crop producers have crews, who are more than willing to drive tractors through the night. While AutoTrack keeps the tractor running straight, the operator still needs to see what's going on - whether there is a deer, a tile line, a big rock, or something else up ahead that needs to be seen.

John Deere engineers also found that tractor operators needed more light to monitor wide or long implements in the darkness.

“We have planters as wide as 120 feet. Not that long ago, a 20-foot planter was a big planter,” Hogan said. “Now operators need better lighting to see clear out to the edges of that wider equipment, plus they are working at faster speeds today.”

John Deere offers a Deluxe lighting package for the new 8R tractors that include four additional halogen lights on the front of the tractor plus a rotary beacon light.

“If you are manually steering the tractor, the Deluxe lights - additional lights on the roof and the beltline of the tractor - help with forward visibility,” said Hogan.

A Premium lighting package includes a rotary beacon light, and two halogen lights on the rear fender are replaced with Xenon High Intensity Discharge (HID) lights. On the front grille of the R Series tractor, two halogen lights are replaced with three HID lights.

Technology has brought lighting a long ways.

Taken too much for granted, the light bulb is still one of the greatest inventions of all time.

Incandescent lights use glass bulbs that hold a gas such as nitrogen or argon. Electricity heats up the tungsten filament resulting in very hot white heat and light.

A halogen light also uses a tungsten filament and is sealed into a bulb, but the bulb is filled with inert gas and halogen gas. Halogen bulbs give light of a higher color temperature, a blue color. The halogen gas combines with the tungsten atoms to allow the filament to last longer than incandescent light.

A Xenon HID uses xenon gas to also produce a slightly bluish light, but does not use a filament. Light is produced by electricity arcing between two tungsten metal electrodes.

The HID bulbs provide extreme brightness and daylight color to define items in the field or farmyard. The Xenon HID light can last much longer than a filament halogen bulb.

The HID bulbs need extremely high voltages to initially jump the electrode gap when first turned on, and that requires an electric starter and a transformer, or ballast.

“The tractor operator will notice a longer beam of lighting in the center for following marker furrows with the HID lights,” said Hogan. “The overall width of the lighting for a non-row-crop operation will be obvious to distinguish tilled from non-tilled passes.”

The John Deere engineers also designed the HID lighting system to use a smaller housing and a remote-mounted ballast, Hogan said. The smaller house increases the rear window view.

Hogan said the Deluxe package is $715 over the base lighting price. That includes four additional halogens and a rotary beacon light. The Premium package is $3,075 above the base price.

“Anybody that is running a lot of work at night, we're seeing a pretty big interest in the HID lighting package,” he said.

Especially during this long fall season, Hogan encourages producers to think about the lighting system on their tractors. There are light kits available for tractors and combines to improve lighting.

He also encourages producers to think about lighting when ordering a new tractor, and to evaluate the lighting when considering the purchase of a used tractor.

“Make sure you choose a lighting package at the time you purchase your tractor that's going to fit your needs. It's much easier to buy the tractor from the factory with the right lighting up front than to go back and add lights later,” Hogan said. “There are kits available, but sometimes adding the HID lights can be difficult on some tractors because of the way the wiring harnesses have to be routed.

“You might not think about lighting when you're shopping, but after you run a few nights, you may find that you need a tractor with a better lighting system,” he added.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Boy's Wish To Visit Deere Headquarters In Moline Granted

From the Press Republican

Anne and Dana Monty will remember July 2009 as the month their youngest beat leukemia.

The 7-year-old's days of chemotherapy, steroids and isolation were over. Dylan would no longer take 13 pills a day — a routine he had endured since his diagnosis at age 3. He was free, and they could all finally breathe.

Dylan, though — he just remembers the tractors.

Lifelong dream

 Dylan plays with John Deere toys in his sandbox.

A recipient of a wish from the Make-A-Wish Foundation of Northeast New York, Dylan chose to visit the John Deere Headquarters in Moline, Ill. It was a wish the foundation had not granted before.

"We are delighted to be able to provide Dylan with his heartfelt wish to visit the John Deere Factory," the foundation's CEO William C. Trigg III said in a press release. "It was his lifelong dream that we were proud to make come true."

At first, it seemed John Deere would not be able to accommodate a wish, as they were dealing with company cutbacks.

Wish coordinators asked Dylan if he would rather wait for John Deere or choose something else. He waited.

The family was given 14 days notice to prepare for their trip.

His wish was granted July 12, and began when a limo filled with toys, balloons and John Deere clothing backed into their Saranac driveway.

Dylan, his parents and his 13-year-old sister, Abigail, piled into the car, which took them to a train station in Albany. They took a 14-hour train — their least favorite part of the trip — to Chicago. From there, they rented a car and traveled to "John Deere heaven," Anne said.

Dylan remembers the trip with a shy smile, his face half in shadow from one of his green John Deere hats, one of his countless souvenirs.

Career aspiration

A boy who has lived for more than half of his life with cancer, Dylan's favorite part of the school day at Saranac Elementary is recess, when he can play outside.

If he's not driving his motorized John Deere 6x4 Gator, a toy John Deere tractor, he is rolling toy tractors around the front porch, riding his John Deere bike or playing with his John Deere dump truck or other John Deere collectibles. His future career aspiration: to drive tractors.

Dylan's father, Dana, and grandfather both worked for John Deere. Dylan's grandparents have a tractor that he knows how to drive, back up and dig holes with.

"John Deere has been in the family for a long time," Anne said.

Upon arriving at the headquarters, Dylan was overwhelmed with the attention.

"He was like royalty," Anne said. "There were hundreds of people. He was like, 'Oh, my!' He doesn't like to be the center of attention."

Workers at John Deere had pooled money to provide Dylan with gifts and $500 worth of gift certificates to the John Deere store. The Montys had the merchandise shipped home — items from toy trains and hats to dominoes and a baseball.

"My top bunk is still full of stuff," Dylan said.

Sprawled on his bunk are rummaged-through and even some unopened boxes of John Deere goodies. They match the rest of his room, decorated with John Deere wallpaper, clock, money bank and bedspread.

At the offices of the CEO, the family was treated to catered lunches. Dylan chose the menu.

"Chicken nuggets and macaroni and cheese!" he said. The next day's offering was personal-pan pizza.

After lunch, they gave Dylan bread to feed the Japanese Coy fish in their pond.

"He liked that," Anne said. "That's more North Country to him. He probably would have liked to have a fishing pole out there."

Later, they visited a testing facility with fewer faces and more machines. He drove the equipment for five hours, his mother remembers, until tour guides had to politely tell him the day was over.

Driving Skills

Dylan was armed with a photo ID card that gave him swipe access into the buildings at the headquarters. He proudly displayed it, along with his toys.

Dylan brags about his tractor-driving skills.

"I just did it yesterday, right, Dad?" Dylan asked, looking to Dana.

His father nodded, looking down at the 7-year-old with pride in his eyes.

Working at the John Deere headquarters is Dylan's dream job. But workers there told him that the company was so well-loved, employees rarely leave.

"We're going to put in his application now," Anne said with a laugh.

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Testing the Deere 7530E Premium

From Farmer's Guardian

Although John Deere showed its E Premium electric generating 7430 and 7530 in late 2007 they only arrived in the UK earlier this year. We chose the popular 7530 which is familiar to anyone who has operated a Deere.

Our 7530 was an E-Premium model that uses an electrical generating flywheel to power components such as the air-conditioning and engine cooling fan.

Not only does this allow the components to be relocated to other areas of the tractor that were restricted by mechanical drives, but offers greater flexibility in how they perform such as reversing the fan to clear debris. But these are not the only advantages.

The engine is said to be more responsive and fuel tests carried out by an Italian journal recently show savings in diesel of around 10 per cent are possible when compared to a conventional 7530. Combining this with Deere’s AutoPowr CVT, which is ZF’s E-Com transmission, should add to this tractor’s fuel sipping abilities.

In the field it performed well with both the six-furrow mounted Dowdeswell and on the 4.6m Cultipress. On the latter, it comfortably reached speeds in excess of 10kph with the tines breaking down any big clods that were smashed further by the DD rings.


The Deere 6.8 litre PowerTech motor is rated at 180hp with the engine revving up to 2,100rpm to a maximum output of 195hp with max torque being 828Nm.

For transport and pto operations, Intelligent Power Management raises engine output to 203hp on the conventional 7530, but because of this model’s electrical generation, the E Premium finds a further 12hp when IPM kicks in.

Our machine produced a mighty 189.5hp at the pto shaft when hitched to the dyno - and this was an unboosted figure.

Engine servicing is every 500 hours with the transmission and hydraulic oil requiring a change every 1,500 hours. The transmission and hydraulics share the same oil.

Raising the bonnet reveals the cooling pack - no fancy unfolding radiators here to aid thorough cleaning, making cleaning out much trickier.

Slide out mesh screens prevent large debris getting sucked in to the radiators though. Deere’s air-filter is positioned up front, making it one of the easiest to access.

Cab access

John Deere has done a very good job of making this six-post cab light and airy, even though it is only marginally larger than the Fendt. Though without a huge growth beneath the steering wheel, there’s much more foot room in the Deere.

The reach and rake adjust steering wheel provides a comfortable driving experience and also suits taller operators.

Because a lot of the tractor functions are contained within the Command Center screen there is no vast array of buttons around the cab - in fact this cab is a bit bland compared to the others. And its not helped by the drab brown interior trim. But there is a useful amount of storage on the side console and the plastic trim fits snugly together.

As this is a six-post cab, you can open a side window to get a bit of fresh air, and this is something that is not possible if you opt for the four-post cab.

Air vents around the steering column can result in chilled knees and this would be more comfortable if air could be distributed more evenly around the cab.


The Command Center screen operates in much the same way as the Power and AutoQuad 6030 and 7030 Premium tractors.

It is in charge of a range of functions, from selecting work lights to setting the linkage lift height, and because this is an E-Premium model, operators can select an auto function for the reversible fan.

It is a small colour screen though, and mounted on the side console does not put this screen in your line of sight. But then, all the performance information can also be found on the dash. The Command Center screen is also fixed into position.

Short-cut keys can be assigned to regularly accessed menus and the highlight function can then be moved around the screen using the dial before using the tick button to confirm.

Armrest controls and console

Autopowr Deere 6030 and 7030s can be supplied with the Command Arm multi-function armrest.

The transmission control lever allows you to alter the speed within one of two sliding ranges - just push the lever past the offset notch to select the second range. The lever’s thumbwheel sets the target speed and is easy to use. It’s so simple it had us looking for other levels of complication.

Like others in this test, the onboard computer alters engine revs according to load for the most economical set-up.

You can also limit engine rpm using a hand throttle. The large plastic finger switches for operating the spool valves are a reasonable size. There are also switches for controlling the rear linkage and engaging the optional auto-steer system.

The steering column powershuttle also looks after the park gear and neutral. If the tractor is left in neutral for more than 10 seconds then the parking lock is automatically engaged. Deere’s power shuttle lever can feel a bit clunky when changing direction, though it is positively engaged.
Rear mudguard controls

Our 7530 came complete with a hydraulic toplink and the relevant mudguard buttons for controlling it to make hitching up easy. It’s possible to select which spool is controlled by which switch using the Command Center screen.

A pair of buttons also look after the rear lift arms, and carry a linkage symbol to differentiate them from the spool buttons - a bit of colour would make it quicker and easier to identify these controls, just as Valtra has done. Lift capacity for the Deere is rated at 9,000kg.

There is also the obligatory pto engage/disengage button. The 7530 comes with 540E, 1,000, and 1,000E rpm speeds, all of which are chosen using the Command Center terminal.

The hydraulic push back hitch gets its own dedicated spool control switch rather than having to swap pipes around, and the spool dust caps are coloured co-ordinated with the in-cab switches.

John Deere 7530E Premium

Good points
  • Very simple transmission controls
  • Familiar control layout
  • Auto reversible fan
  • General visibility
Bad points
  • Bland cab interior
  • Cab space
  • Command Center screen’s size and location
  • Radiator access

Sunday, October 18, 2009

John Deere On Display At Auto Show

From the Midland Daily News

The Northwood University International Outdoor Automobile Show continues through today. It opens at 10 a.m. The closing ceremony is at 5 p.m.

 When people think of the Northwood Auto Show the images that come to mind are usually shiny new automobiles. However most don’t think of tractors. Perhaps until now with some of big farming machines from John Deere on display throughout the show.

“We’re a specialty division, we show off other types of vehicles,” John Deere team captain Tyler Marifke said after his group got a few questions as to what tractors were doing at a car show. Marifke, a junior in Northwood’s entrepreneurship and management program, is from Elkhorn, Wisc. and chose to work the John Deere display because while he’s never been a farmer, he has fond memories of the big green and yellow tractors on display at his county fair when he was younger.

John Deere is the only tractor company with products at Northwood, with an area booth featuring three full-size agriculture tractors, two smaller utility tractors, a zero-turn mower and a “Gator” utility vehicle. A hay baler and a disc tiller also were on display. There is even an industrial generator and air compressor made by John Deere.

“We figured we’d knock them out with stuff,” said Marifke of the selection of equipment on display. By comparison, last year the Deere company display only featured a few lawn tractors. According to Marifke, the display has gone over well.

“The kids love it.” According to Marifke many of the kids are amazed by the size of the 6-foot tall tires on the big agricultural tractors. A few farmers were also impressed, with some saying they might look into them further. 

The vehicles on display at the auto show are often know for speed, such as a 200 mile-per-hour Ford GT parked just yards from the John Deere area. The tractors can’t really compete with that, according to Marifke. The fastest one on display is a new John Deere 8225R that tops out at 27 miles per hour.

“They weren’t made to be fast.” Marifke added that the 8225R is John Deere’s newest model and has been on sale for only aweek. There are only 20 of them in Michigan. The one on display is fresh off the assembly line. The paint still had a fresh-sprayed smell to it when they received it, Marifke said.

The farming machines better match up against the most high-end cars in price. The center piece of the display is the gigantic eight-tired John Deere 9420 articulated tractor. The wheels on the massive machine don’t turn; instead the tractor pivots in the middle. In total the 9420 costs about $500,000.

Not all of the tractors will put you back half a million. Also on display is a John Deere 7230. This more basic model goes for about $45,000. According to Marifke, leasing and financing options are available.

All of the equipment was loaned for the display from the Bader and Sons chain of dealers. The agricultural tractors came from their Linwood dealership and were driven to the show. According to Marifke, the trip getting them there took two hours.

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Pork Industry Still Hurting From H1N1


After a lifetime of farming and a long year of financial hardship, Danny Kluthe was ready for better days.

But then came April 24, the day the National Pork Producers Council considers the birthday of the "swine flu" as a household term.

"We were about to turn the corner and start making a profit," said Kluthe, 53, who owns a hog farm near Dodge, Neb. "And here somebody labeled H1N1 the 'swine flu,' and it just totally took a nosedive."

The earliest detected H1N1 virus was found in a 5-year-old boy who lived near a pig farm in Mexico, hence the name "swine flu." Almost instantly, concerns over pork safety spread around the world. Indonesia and Japan initiated a nationwide medical examination of their hogs. In Iraq, zoo hogs were killed. Egypt ordered that hogs across the country be slaughtered.

The United States, the world's largest pork exporter, felt the hit in the weeks following the first outbreak, when 27 nations blocked all U.S. pork imports. Domestic demand plunged as well. And all of that came "obviously from fears of H1N1," pork council spokesman Dave Warner said.

In the past two years alone, the U.S. pork industry has lost $5 billion, according to the NPPC. Pork producers lost 66 percent of their equity, meaning that a hog farm previously worth $100,000 is now worth only $34,000.

Of that $5 billion, $1.1 billion has been lost since April 24, continuing the downward trend started by the economy and high feed costs.

"I bet you my bottom line backed up good, probably a good 30 to 40 percent plus," Kluthe said of his 15,000-hog operation, comparing his actual profits this year to what he had expected.

Although there have been no documented cases of a pig passing H1N1 to a human, U.S. pork producers are "treading water that they've never tread before," Kluthe said, appealing to public officials, media and citizens to stop making the connection between "swine" and "flu."

"It's like you're getting blamed for something that's not your fault," said Terry O'Neel, whose 500-sow farm is near Friend in southeastern Nebraska. "It's not just a financial aspect, it's really disheartening, especially when the media use the label so loosely."

Since the first wave of panic, domestic consumption has picked up and many countries have resumed their import of U.S. pork. But one crucial market – China – remains closed. "Clearly, they are very concerned with H1N1," said Dr. John Lawrence, livestock economist at Iowa State University in Ames.

But China is also the world's largest pork producer, with a vast and growing demand, and Chinese domestic hog farming has been undermined by an animal disease outbreak and economic hardship. The Chinese industry is now pleading for government support. On top of everything, many U.S. restrictions on various Chinese imports such as tires and cooked poultry have complicated the trade relationship between the two countries.

"It's like you're getting blamed 
for something that's not your fault"

In this setup, Lawrence said, any economic or political issue may have contributed to China's decision to cite H1N1 fears as a reason behind a blanket ban on U.S. pork.

In 2008, China bought almost $690 million worth of U.S. pork products, according to the pork council. That made it the third largest pork export market for the United States, after Japan and Mexico.

Pork export to China for the first two quarters of this year was half that of 2008, the council reports, and Canada is now the third largest market, with China fourth.

Without exports to China, unsold pork piled up and prices plunged. Before the H1N1 outbreak, hog farmers were already losing $11 off each hog they sold. The loss grew to about $21 per hog.

"The pork industry is really, really in difficult shape," said Sen. Mike Johanns, R-Neb., former secretary of agriculture. "It hasn't been profitable for a while. It's been one compounding crisis after another."

Johanns headed the U.S. Department of Agriculture during the trade embargo on beef after the spread of the bovine spongiform encephalopathy, also known as "mad cow disease." Restoring pork export markets now won't happen "unless the USDA gets on the road and beats the drum," he said.

"Literally, you have to go country by country," he said, calling for a developed strategy to send scientific expertise overseas and restore the good image of U.S. pork.

But, for now, the pork surplus continues to grow, even with the recovering domestic demand.

"Well, sure, things are looking a little better," said Larry Sitzman, CEO of the Nebraska Pork Producers Association in Lincoln. "But what are you going to do with all this supply we've got in the meantime?

"You can't just stop the system and say, 'Hey, we've got too many pigs," he said. "So when the people aren't buying, the system builds up, the prices go down; basic supply and demand."

The profits have dropped so much that Peggy Johnson and her husband, who farm near Nebraska City, Neb., have stopped raising hogs for now and will re-evaluate when the economy picks up. "The price just isn't there," Johnson said.

The packers still get all of the pork, she said, but pay far less for it.

U.S. pork producers have reached out for help to the USDA, asking the federal government to purchase excess pork for food programs. It's common practice for the USDA. The government spent approximately $65 million on such purchases in 2008 and $165 million in 2009, a department spokesman said.

But from the $50 million pork producers requested in fiscal year 2009 to handle the so-called swine flu, they received $30 million. The decision on another $50 million requested for fiscal year 2010 has yet to come.

But even if the USDA granted U.S. pork producers all of the money they had asked for, "it wouldn't get us back into black," said Warner of the National Pork Producers Council.

On the state level, Sitzman of the Nebraska pork association agreed. "Basically, we're going to have to eat our way out of this," he said.

Name Confusion

Although the national pork council was leery of drawing conclusions about how much the mislabeling of H1N1 has affected the industry, Sitzman blames it for all the losses.

On a daily basis, he said, he gets phone calls from upset hog farmers: After hearing so many questions about pork safety, even those who raise pigs become confused and doubtful.

Sitzman and several other Nebraska farmers tell almost identical stories of a hog farmer who went to buy some pork at a grocery store and heard a whisper behind him as he put pork loin or pork chops in his shopping cart: "Don't buy it, it'll kill you, it's got that flu virus."

Such sentiments, whether based on actual conversations or not, rub pork producers wrong. They are optimistic about next summer, when prices may go up and export markets may reopen. But, for now, "you've got to backtrack" the tie between hogs and the spreading flu, Kluthe said. "But the damage," he said, "has been done."

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Smaller Domestic Orange Crop Expected

AP Story

ORLANDO, Fla. — This season's U.S. orange crop is expected to be 10 percent smaller than last season's yield, agriculture officials said Friday, though consumers likely won't have to pay more for their orange juice.

Estimates released by the U.S. Department of Agriculture put the overall U.S. orange crop at 8.25 million tons, down 10 percent from last season's final count. If the estimate holds true, the 2009-2010 orange crop will be 18 percent lower than the one two seasons ago.

However, orange juice producers already have about a half-year's worth of inventory in storage from last season, offsetting any chance of a shortage given the expected smaller crop, experts said.

"There should be plenty of juice for consumers this year," said Mark Brown, a senior research economist at the Florida Department of Citrus. "Prices will continue in the range they are today."

The Florida orange crop this season is expected to be 136 million boxes, each weighing 90 pounds, down 16 percent from last season's final count. Florida is the nation's largest orange producer and grows about three-quarters of the U.S. crop. About 90 percent of the state's fruit is used to make orange juice.

Below-average rainfall and freezing temperatures earlier this year are to blame for much smaller amounts of fruit per tree this season.

The Florida frozen concentrated orange juice yield estimate is 1.63 gallons per box, down slightly from last year. The estimate from Florida grapefruit was 18.8 million boxes, each weighing 85 pounds, a 9 percent decrease. The crop estimate for Florida tangerines was expected to be 27 percent higher than last year at 4.9 million boxes.

The decrease in Florida's orange crop has little to do with citrus greening, an insect-borne bacteria that Florida growers had feared would devastate their crops, officials said. The disease requires costly spraying and screening, and is even then difficult to detect. The state and federal governments have diverted millions of dollars into potential research solutions.

The disease's spread has been slower than expected, said Ken Keck, executive director of the Florida Department of Citrus.

"Greening is not necessarily tearing through the industry," Keck said.

The orange crop in California, which produces most of the fruit sold fresh, is expected to be 55 million boxes, each weighing 90 pounds, up 13 percent from last season. In Texas, orange production is expected to be down 1 percent from last season at 1.45 million 90-pound boxes.

Monday, October 12, 2009

Farmers In Ireland Staging Tractor Protests

From the Irish Times

Farmers today held tractor protests in 29 towns and cities in a nationwide action over Government cuts.

The Irish Farmers’ Association (IFA) staged “tractorcades” in the 29 county areas where it organises. Tractors gathered outside the towns this morning and drove slowly through the different centres.

Protests were held in towns and cities such as Limerick, Kilkenny, Sligo, Ennis, Tralee, Carlow, Loughrea, Clonmel, Tullamore, Cavan, Monaghan, and Swords in Dublin. Most of the events began at noon, with farmers assembling at 11.30am.

Mr Walshe said farm income were expected to fall this year by up to 25 per cent and 35 per cent over a two-year period

According to AA Roadwatch, the protests have now ended, and traffic congestion is easing.

In a statement today, Minister for Agriculture Brendan Smith said he "fully acknowledges" the difficulties facing the farming community this year and said he has been working within Government and at EU level, to alleviate those difficulties.

Mr Smith said a key element was the bringing forward of the Single Farm Payment and the support measures being put in place by the EU Commission for the dairy sector.

IFA president Pádraig Walshe, who led the protest in Portlaoise this morning, called on the Government to take immediate action to assist farmers. “Almost every town throughout rural Ireland is dependent on agriculture, and the income collapse will lead to significant downturn in business across the rural economy," he said.

Mr Walshe said farm incomes were expected to fall this year by up to 25 per cent and 35 per cent over a two-year period. He said the average farm income was below €15,000 this year.

The IFA head said support for the action was further evidence of the anger of farmers who face into a winter of cash shortages while trying to provide for their families and keep their businesses afloat.

The Minister for Agriculture recently met the major banks and the Irish Banking Federation (IBF) to discuss credit difficulties being experienced in the farming sector.

Mr Smith said the meeting had been “very useful and constructive” and expressed optimism "that ongoing efforts will impress upon and facilitate banks in providing more assistance to their farmer clients at this very difficult time, particularly having regard to low product prices this year”.

The Minister said he intends to continue talks with the IBF and the banks over agri-sector issues, including credit to farmers.

Friday, October 9, 2009

Tracking Food From Farm To Fork

From the Economist

Bar codes that let shoppers trace their food back to the field

DESPITE its preoccupation with hygiene, America’s dirty secret is that it is one of the most dangerous places in the developed world to eat. Every year 76 million Americans become ill because they have consumed contaminated food—a staggering 26,000 cases per 100,000 population. In Britain, where people consume far fewer hamburgers, generally eat out less often and buy nowhere near as many ready-meals, there are 3,400 cases of food poisoning per 100,000 population annually. France is safer still, with only 1,200 annual instances per 100,000 people.

Most cases of food poisoning are mild, with victims recovering in a day or two. Sometimes, however, foodborne illnesses kill or cause permanent health problems. In the United States around 5,000 people die and a further 325,000 wind up in hospital each year as a result of food poisoning. The annual cost to the country, in medical treatment and lost productivity, is more than $35 billion.

The wave of food scares that has swept America over the past few years has caused a crisis in the country’s $1 trillion food industry. One of the most notorious outbreaks, caused by the virulent Escherichia coli O157:H7 bacterium, happened in 1993. Four children died, dozens of people went to hospital with kidney failure and hundreds more became seriously ill after eating undercooked hamburgers from the Jack-in-the-Box chain of restaurants. Since then, the regulations governing the sale of ground beef have been tightened considerably.

The deadliest foods to be found on the stalls in street markets and the shelves of supermarkets, though, are not meat or poultry but leafy vegetables and fruit. That is because unlike ground beef, which is cooked at a temperatures which destroy bugs, fruit and leafy vegetables tend to be eaten raw. The outbreak of O157 in 2006, which killed five people and made a further 205 ill, was tied to raw spinach. Meanwhile, America’s largest epidemic of foodborne disease in over a decade—last year’s Salmonella infection that claimed two lives, hospitalised 250 people and affected more than 1,300 others—was traced back through the supply chain initially to tomatoes and then to jalapeño peppers. Now there are doubts whether either was really to blame.

Tracking down the source of a foodborne infection is notoriously difficult. The vast majority of incidents are transitory in nature—a leaky toilet, a wandering animal, a momentary lapse of hygiene in the field or factory. But mounting concern about this lack of traceability has prompted the food industry itself, as well as the American government, to take action.

In October 2007 producers in the United States and Canada joined forces to launch a plan called the Produce Traceability Initiative. This uses bar-codes to track fruit and vegetables through the distribution system. Although participation in this particular plan is voluntary, it may soon become compulsory to provide traceability of some sort.

That is because lawmakers on Capitol Hill want to give the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) sweeping new powers to oversee food production. A bill introduced in the House of Representatives by John Dingell, a Democratic congressmen from Michigan, was passed in July, though it has yet to be taken up by the Senate. But with the White House, the food industry and the FDA behind it, the bill could be law before the end of the year. If it is, then companies selling food in America will have to adopt a tracking system that can identify the farmer, the field, the picker, the packer, the shipper, the wholesaler and the shop—all within two business days of a case of food poisoning being reported.

The technology for doing so is readily available. Radio-frequency identification (RFID) tags used for tracking items like shipping containers and pallets of goods have been around for years. The attraction of these tiny passive chips, which emit a stream of digital data only when energised by a radio beam, is that it is not necessary to see a tag to read it.

Unfortunately, though simple RFIDs cost less than 30 cents apiece, they are still way too expensive for tagging a bag of cut lettuce or a bunch of grapes. By contrast, the bar-codes printed on supermarket products cost less than half a cent each. Their disadvantage is that they have to be scanned physically by a line-of-sight reading device. It is also tricky to capture the data in the field and stick the bar-code labels on the produce as it is picked and packed. Managing the supply-chain database is no trivial matter either.

The Consumers Union, which campaigns on behalf of individual customers, wants Congress to require food producers to use an electronic tracking system like the one Federal Express employs for parcels. But tracking produce is not that simple. A parcel delivered by Federal Express, or any other courier service, stays under one firm’s control all the way. By contrast, a bunch of grapes travels from the farm to a packer, to a shipping centre, to a warehouse, to a shop and finally to a consumer’s fridge. Each stage is handled by a different organisation with a different way of doing things.

That has created opportunities for new firms like YottaMark of Redwood City, California, and FoodLogiq of Durham, North Carolina. Both have developed sophisticated software for tracing the origin and freshness of food. If their technology is deployed, the next time a big food scare occurs, the damage done to consumers and producers alike should be far more easily contained.

But apart from safety, the new traceability software should also allow packers and shippers to combine their tracking functions with marketing exercises. Both YottaMark and FoodLogiq offer systems that let shoppers type a text code into a mobile phone or home computer, or scan a bar-code using a phone’s built-in camera, to find out when the tomatoes on the shelf were picked and which field they came from.

That can be an attractive proposition for producers. YottaMark’s traceability label (“HarvestMark”) has been attached to almost a billion food items so far. What the food industry has learned in the process is that it not only gives consumers the confidence to buy, but also builds customer loyalty and trust in a particular brand, a region and even an individual producer. Some 85% of consumers polled by YottaMark said that, all things being equal, they would choose a traceable item over an untraceable one.

Bringing the farmer electronically into the kitchen this way can make the experience of buying produce as personal as shopping in a local farmer’s market—but with a far wider range of products to choose from. As Elliott Grant of YottaMark observes, marketing foodstuffs these days is becoming more a matter of “locale” and less about being merely “local”.

Saturday, October 3, 2009

USDA Launches 'Know Your Farmer, Know Your Food'

Story from High Plains Journal

U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack and Deputy Secretary Kathleen Merrigan recently announced a new initiative--'Know Your Farmer, Know Your Food'--to begin a national conversation to help develop local and regional food systems and spur economic opportunity. To launch the initiative, Secretary Vilsack recorded a video to invite Americans to join the discussion and share their ideas for ways to support local agriculture. The video, one of many means by which USDA will engage in this conversation, can be viewed at USDA's YouTube channel, www.youtube.com/usda. Producers and consumers can comment on the 'Know Your Farmer, Know Your Food' YouTube playlist, as well as submit videos or provide comments on this initiative by e-mailing KnowYourFarmer@usda.gov.

"An American people that is more engaged with their food supply will create new income opportunities for American agriculture," said Vilsack. "Reconnecting consumers and institutions with local producers will stimulate economies in rural communities, improve access to healthy, nutritious food for our families, and decrease the amount of resources to transport our food."

The 'Know Your Farmer, Know Your Food' initiative, chaired by Deputy Secretary Merrigan, is the focus of a task force with representatives from agencies across USDA who will help better align the Department's efforts to build stronger local and regional food systems. This week alone, USDA will announce approximately $65 million in funding for 'Know Your Farmer, Know Your Food' initiatives.

"Americans are more interested in food and agriculture than at any other time since most families left the farm," said Merrigan. "'Know Your Farmer, Know Your Food' seeks to focus that conversation on supporting local and regional food systems to strengthen American agriculture by promoting sustainable agricultural practices and spurring economic opportunity in rural communities."

In the months to come, cross-cutting efforts at USDA will seek to use existing USDA programs to break down structural barriers that have inhibited local food systems from thriving. Today, USDA announced a small initial group of moves that seek to connect local production and consumption and promote local-scale sustainable operations:

USDA's Risk Management Agency announced $3.4 million in funding for collaborative outreach and assistance programs to socially disadvantaged and underserved farmers. These programs will support 'Know You Farmer' goals by helping producers adopt new and direct marketing practices. For example, nearly $10,000 in funding for the University of Minnesota will bring together experts on food safety and regulations for a discussion of marketing to institutions like K-12 schools, colleges, universities, hospitals and other health care facilities.

USDA's Food Safety and Inspection Service proposed regulations to implement a new voluntary cooperative program under which select state-inspected establishments will be eligible to ship meat and poultry products in interstate commerce. The new program was created in the 2008 farm bill and will provide new economic opportunities for small meat and poultry establishments, whose markets are currently limited.

USDA's Rural Development announced $4.4 million in grants to help 23 local business cooperatives in 19 states. The member-driven and member-owned cooperative business model has been successful for rural enterprises, and bring rural communities closer to the process of moving from production-to-consumption as they work to improve their products and expand their appeal in the marketplace.

USDA's Rural Development will also announce a Rural Business Opportunity Grant in the amount of $150,000 to the Northwest Food Processors Association. The grant will strengthen the relationship between local food processors and customers in parts of Idaho, Oregon and Washington, and will also help the group reduce energy consumption, a major cost for food processors.

As the 'Know Your Farmer, Know Your Food' initiative evolves, USDA will continue to build on the momentum and ideas from the 2008 farm bill and target its existing programs and develop new ones to pursue sustainable agriculture and support for local and regional food systems.