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Saturday, August 28, 2010

Opposing Views on Cattle Rules Rounded up at CSU Meeting

Denver Post

FORT COLLINS — Save us. No, spare us your meddling.

Agricultural leaders heard two polar-opposite yet equally fiery pleas Friday at Colorado State University, where more than 2,000 ranchers, farmers and rural Americans rallied to urge either government action or inaction.

The meeting, hosted by Attorney General Eric Holder and Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack, was the fourth of five workshops around the country in the past six months addressing agricultural issues.

About half the audience supported sweeping change in how the government regulates the ailing cattle industry. They voiced adamant support for new rules that would harness the four major companies that dominate the industry.

The other half bemoaned the possibility of more regulation they fear will clog the industry with lawsuits and curtail cattlemen's ability to harvest top dollar for their herds.

At the center of the arguments are new rules floated by the Obama administration that would make the powerful meatpacking companies — Tyson Foods, JBS, National Beef and Cargill — provide evidence supporting the prices paid for contracted cattle and give small ranchers more opportunities to contest that pricing.

Contracted sales with the big meatpackers have grown from 20 percent of all cattle sales a decade ago to almost half in 2010. While some ranchers say those sales have benefited them, letting them get top dollar for their high-quality beef, others say it unfairly harms ranchers without the clout to negotiate those prices.

"Say there was a terrorist organization that wanted to do irreparable harm to our industry," said Paul Engler, the 81-year-old founder of a 500,000-head feedlot in Amarillo, Texas. "All they would have to do is follow through with the plan that this rule is calling for."

A chorus of boos met Engler's critique, mirroring the jeers that met Kenny Fox's support for the rule change.

"We need this protection. We need to keep our people on the land," said Fox, president of the South Dakota Stockgrowers Association.

While the two ideologies clashed, there was agreement on many issues, including the trouble facing the nation's cattle industry. The number of American cattle farms has dropped from 1.6 million in 1980 to 950,000 today. In 1980, cattlemen earned 62 cents for each dollar spent on their beef. Today, they get 42 cents.

And most troubling, the declines make ranching unattractive to young people.

Luring youth back to the family farm was a much-discussed topic Friday, with panelists and politicians agreeing that returning profitability to ranching would help.

But when discussion turned toward how to restore profitability to America's small ranchers, the discord grew.

"To get an open, robust market, you've got to get rid of concentration," said Taylor Haynes, a Cheyenne rancher and doctor who raises organic beef.

The new regulations could quash a meatpacker's willingness to pay premium prices for certain cattle, potentially installing flat-rate prices to avoid lawsuits from ranchers who didn't get the premium amount and question the pricing.

"I resent the implication that I need to justify a premium paid for my superior product," said Montana rancher Don Herzog.

Instead of fighting over American consumers, cattlemen should be courting international beef eaters, said Jerry Bohm, general manager of Kansas feedyard operator Pratt Feeders.

That's already happening, said ag chief Vilsack, noting the country's agricultural exports reached $105 billion in fiscal 2010, more than double the exports of 2000.

Celebrate the good news and recognize that everyone in the cattle industry is dedicated to offering the greatest product, said Robbie LeValley, a Hotchkiss rancher and president of the Colorado Cattlemen's Association, cajoling her peers to work toward solutions.

"We should not be circling the wagons and shooting inward," she said.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Deere set for Crop Prices Boost

Financial Times

Farmers will benefit into next year from the rise in commodity prices prompted by severe drought in eastern Europe, John Deere, the world’s biggest tractor-maker, said on Wednesday.

“There’s no question that the recent run in commodity prices, driven by the events in ... eastern Europe, has supported the prospect for crop-farmer income,” said Marie Ziegler, Deere’s head of investor relations. “Overall, for the farm sector it would appear to be very positive as you look into 2011.”

The manufacturer raised its crop price estimates for next year: to $3.90 a bushel for corn from its previous forecast of $3.60; $5.25 for a bushel of wheat from $4.75; and $9.25 for a bushel of soyabeans from its prior prediction of $8.75.

Ms Ziegler noted, however, that rising crop prices had increased feed costs for livestock farmers, who she said accounted for about half the European farm economy. Coupled with the uncertain economic recovery, that could act as a drag on growth in the agricultural sector next year.

She made her comments as Deere reported quarterly profits well ahead of Wall Street’s expectations, citing strengthening demand for big farm machinery in the Americas.

The company said its net profit was $617m, or $1.44 per share, in its fiscal third quarter to the end of July, up from $420m, or 99 cents per share, in the same period last year, beating analysts’ average forecasts of $1.22 per share. Net equipment sales were $6.2bn in the quarter, up from $5.3bn last year.

Deere struck a bullish note on the farm economy in the Americas, saying it expected growth of 5-10 per cent in North America for its full fiscal year and 25-30 per cent in Brazil and Argentina. The company expects equipment sales to rise 32 per cent in the current quarter compared with the same period last year.

Demand for farm equipment is partly driven by a rush by farmers to avoid what they expect to be higher prices for new tractors from next year, when the US government will raise carbon emission standards on such vehicles.

However, a main source of US agricultural equipment demand is expected to be increased farm receipts as a result of soaring prices for wheat and other crops, resulting from supply shortages around the world. Wheat has spiked because of severe drought in Russia, which Deere said would hit its sales in eastern Europe.

Overall, the company said farm equipment sales in Europe could fall in the current quarter by as much as one-fifth from last year because of weakness in livestock and dairy farming.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Trouble Mounts for Iowa Firm as Egg Recall Expands

USA Today

The Iowa livestock industry giant that's being blamed for a multistate salmonella outbreak linked to its eggs has a long history of environmental, immigration and labor violations.

An egg recall first announced last week was expanded Wednesday to 380 million eggs — the equivalent of nearly 32 million dozen-egg cartons. Hundreds of people have been sickened in a salmonella outbreak linked to eggs in three states and possibly more.

Wright County Egg in Galt, part of the DeCoster family agribusiness operations, had shipped the eggs over a three-month period to wholesalers, distribution centers and food service companies in California, Illinois, Missouri, Colorado, Nebraska, Minnesota, Wisconsin and Iowa. The companies distribute eggs nationwide.

Wright County Egg is being sued for allegedly causing the salmonella poisoning of a Wisconsin woman, and a dozen more lawsuits linked to the outbreak are in the works, said Bill Marler, a Seattle lawyer who specializes in food poisonings.

The federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said this week that it had seen a fourfold increase in the usual number of cases of salmonella enteritidis, a strain associated with eggs. The CDC said it received reports of about 200 enteritidis cases every week during late June and early July. More than 260 illnesses in California have been linked to the outbreak. Minnesota has tied at least seven salmonella illnesses to the eggs.

No deaths have been reported, said Christopher Braden, a CDC epidemiologist.

The DeCoster operations have had several violations:

• The founder, Austin Jackson DeCoster, pleaded guilty to federal immigration charges in 2003 and paid a record $2.1 million in penalties.

• In 2002, the federal Equal Employment Opportunity Commission imposed a $1.5 million penalty for mistreatment of female workers, including charges of rape, sexual harassment and other abuse.

• In 2001, the Iowa Supreme Court ruled that DeCoster, a repeat violator of state environmental laws, could finance, but not build, hog confinement operations for his son, Peter DeCoster, who is now closely involved with the Wright County egg operations.

• Earlier this year, the elder DeCoster paid a fine to settle state animal cruelty charges against his egg operations in Maine.

Federal authorities have been on the DeCoster farms since last week investigating its henhouses and testing eggs to determine the source of the contamination, said Howard Magwire, an attorney for the United Egg Producers, a trade group that includes the DeCoster operations in its membership.

"The company itself is testing many thousands of eggs from the farms to see if they can find anything," he said.

He said the company had "erred on the side of safety" by making the recall as large as it is.

A woman who answered the phone at a number in Galt listed for both Wright County Egg and DeCoster Farms of Iowa referred a reporter to the government media representatives. They did not return phone calls.

A phone message for Peter DeCoster also was not returned.

The lawsuit filed in a state court in Kenosha County, Wis., alleges that Tanja Dzinovic was sickened in June after eating a cobb salad that included hard-boiled eggs. Tests showed she had been infected with salmonella enteritidis, according to the lawsuit. She was released from the hospital but continues to suffer from gastrointestinal symptoms, the lawsuit said.

State and local officials also are investigating salmonella cases that could be linked to the DeCoster eggs in Arizona, Connecticut, Massachusetts, Maryland, North Carolina, Nevada, Oregon, Pennsylvania and Texas.

Eggs were a major source of salmonella illnesses in the 1990s, but outbreaks had declined significantly over the past decade as farms took a number of biosecurity measures and other steps to prevent contamination. Last month, the Food and Drug Administration imposed mandatory safety regulations, including egg testing requirements, that many farms had already been following, according to industry experts.

"This outbreak really comes as a surprise, and it really seems to be going against the overall trend," said Caroline Smith DeWaal of the Center for Science in the Public Interest, a consumer advocacy group.

Kevin Vinchattle, executive director of the Iowa Egg Council, a producer trade group, said other egg farms were watching the latest case. The DeCoster operation is not a member of the group.

"Whatever is happening with this particular investigation, we're concerned about understanding what has happened so things like this don't happen in the future," he said.

Eggs can become contaminated via rodents or unsanitary conditions in henhouses. The Food and Drug Administration last month imposed new regulations on egg farms to prevent salmonella contamination. The rules include regular testing.

The recalled eggs were packaged under a variety of names, including Lucerne and Albertsons, brands of supermarket giants Safeway and Albertsons, respectively.

Dutch Farms of Chicago said Wednesday that Wright County Eggs "used unauthorized egg cartons to package and sell eggs under the Dutch Farms name without Dutch Farms' knowledge." The eggs were distributed to Walgreens stores in Iowa and six other states.

Hy-Vee Inc. said on its website that it did not sell the eggs.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Federal Ethanol subsidies will affect Industry, West Michigan Corn Growers


As an electronic sign by the road flashed messages last week about “America’s Clean Fuel” and “America’s Peace Fuel,” trucks lined the driveway into the Carbon Green BioEnergy ethanol plant on M-66 near the Barry-Eaton-Ionia county borders.

There were haulers from Vermontville and Clarksville, Portland and Woodland, Stanton and Sunfield, all delivering the source of the patriotic fuel touted for environmental and national security benefits: corn.

And the $60 million plant where a work force of 40 churns out 50 million gallons of ethanol annually is good for business in this rural area halfway between Grand Rapids and Lansing.

“We’re businessmen,” said Brian Haskin, whose Haskin Farms in Ionia County sends the plant  400,000 bushels per year from a distribution hub two miles down the road.
A scoop works in a corn product storage barn at the Carbon Green facility.

“We (farmers) are going to plant what makes us money. If they make it profitable, we’ll find a way to produce it.

“(Corn-based ethanol) is a boost to the local economy.”

No wonder Haskin hopes Congress extends the federal ethanol subsidies set to expire at the end of the year. The plant’s demand not only pushes up the price of corn, it creates a close-to-home market that reduces freight costs. Most of the plant’s 50,000 bushels of daily corn supply come from within 80 miles.

But the impact of the subsidies — a 45-cents-per-gallon tax credit for “blenders” who add ethanol to gasoline and a 54-cents-per-gallon import tariff — extends much further, to motorists and taxpayers.

The well-being of the world is at stake — at least, that’s the message the sign in front of the plant attempts to convey.

“No wars have been fought over ethanol,” the sign read.

Except, of course, the political battle under way.

“If this credit doesn’t go through, there’s a significant chance we’re going to lose some ethanol plants,” said Loren Koeman, a Grand Rapids agriculture consultant who farms about 3,000 acres near Holland and is secretary of the Lansing-based Michigan Corn Growers Association board.

“As it becomes more and more efficient, we need to keep supporting the industry. It’s not like we’re not spending money on the oil industry. We fight wars to protect oil. It’s naive to think there’s no government cost associated with oil.”

And those benefits come at a cost: $1.78 per gallon of gas replaced by a gallon of corn-based ethanol, according to the Congressional Budget Office.

U.S. Rep. Vern Ehlers, R-Grand Rapids, called the subsidies “a gift to the ethanol-producing industry” that need not be re-given.

“Obviously, it’s good for people to have jobs,” he said.

“It’s good for farmers to make money,” Ehlers said. “But is that an economically sound way to do it? It doesn’t generally pay off to give people make-work jobs.”

Besides, Ehlers added: “Should we really be using food to generate fuel in light of the food crisis in many parts of the world?”

A multiyear extension of the subsidies is key to short-term stability and long-term viability of the industry, Koeman said. The 4-year-old Woodbury plant in Eaton County is already on its fourth owner and closed for eight months before reopening in June 2009. This fall, the facility plans to add more than 1 million bushels of corn storage to its pair of 135-foot silos. Each holds 200,000 bushels.

Through the credit, the country’s investment in ethanol will continue to add cleaner-burning fuel into the energy supply and foster less dependence on foreign oil while retaining a productive agriculture base that enhances local economies, Koeman said.

Debate over food supply costs

There is another side to just about every aspect of the corn ethanol debate.

Sam Hines, executive vice president of the Michigan Pork Producers Association in Holt, said ethanol subsidies jack up the cost of feed for hogs, which, in turn, increases prices at the grocery store.

“It’s no secret that pork production, in particular, in recent years has taken a real hit primarily as a result of a diversion of a lot of corn into ethanol,” Hines said. “Now, we’re starting to see that reflected in higher prices in the store. We’re not necessarily averse to bio-fuels, but we need to be careful with how we play around with that. The ethanol industry has matured to where it should be able to stand on its own.”

Walking into a large storehouse with mounds of dried distillers grain, or DDG, Woodbury plant manager Edward Thomas downplayed the food-supply criticism of corn-based ethanol.

The plant generates more than 400 tons of DDG daily as a byproduct of the corn’s 60-hour journey from kernel to “corn beer,” including a lengthy bath in a 730,000-gallon fermenting tank. The “co-product” is sold for animal feed within a 200-mile radius, Thomas said.

“The misnomer is we take (the corn) and it’s gone,” he said. “It’s not.”

As for ethanol standing on its own, Carbon Green supports an idea to phase out subsidies in exchange for investments in infrastructure that would make the fuel more available to consumers.

Walker-based Meijer, for example, has E-85 pumps that contain fuel with 85 percent ethanol at more than 70 of its gas stations, including in Cedar Springs, Knapp’s Corner in Grand Rapids, Holland and Wyoming. Wyoming-based J&H Oil Co. has E-85 pumps at five of its 35 stations.

But with fuel sales down overall, there is little market incentive for gas stations to spend money installing more E-85 pumps, said Mark Griffin, president of the Michigan Petroleum Association/Michigan Association of Convenience Stores.

And, even with publicly funded incentives for pumps or flex-fuel vehicles capable of burning E-85, “where’s the customer going to come from?” he asked.

“The customer is not buying that type of product right now,” Griffin said. “The economies just aren’t there.

“We seem to be in a rush to always turn petroleum into the villain, and we forget that petroleum is here, it’s easy to process and it’s easy to use and it will be for a very long time.”

And there’s the crux: Even though “no beaches have been closed due to ethanol spills,” as the sign at the Carbon Green plant stated last week, will consumers en masse ever respond to that sales pitch?

Changing plans
Congress let biodiesel subsidies expire at the end of 2009 and, as it stands, that soy-based fuel cannot stand on its own.

Nowadays, Michigan Biodiesel does just about everything at its $8.8 million, 4-year-old plant in Bangor except produce the fuel for which it is named.

The plant, down to seven employees, is using its equipment to turn things such as cooking oil and mayonnaise into livestock feed.

It has not produced biodiesel in 18 months.

“The marketplace, I do not believe, has stepped up to make the tax credit so it is not necessary,” CEO John Oakley said. “I’m concerned for the ethanol people. That’s the reason you have subsidies, to take up that slack in the marketplace if you truly are concerned about the environment, air quality and all those good things.”

As a fuel distributor, Crystal Flash Energy, which invested in the biodiesel plant, will transport and sell whatever types of fuel are cost-effective for its customers, said Tom Fehsenfeld, company president.

But there is intangible value in renewable fuels such as ethanol, he said.

Hence, a tax incentive is needed to overcome what Fehsenfeld calls the “hidden subsidies” of conventional fuels — the environmental, health and security costs of burning foreign oil.

“If we charged all of these hidden costs against conventional fuels in the form of taxes, we would probably not need subsidies on alternative fuels,” he said. “We all have to be concerned about the type of world we are passing on to our children and grandchildren.

“It has become clear that some types of fuels are better for the environment and
for national security than others.”

And, surely, some types of fuel are better for Haskin Farms and other corn growers who unload their heaping stores of grain at the Carbon Green plant.

Whether it pays to put ethanol in your tank remains less clear.

“I wish (ethanol) could be self-sustaining but, at this point, it obviously isn’t,” Haskin said. “I’m sure if they do not extend the (subsidy) program, it’s going to be devastating for a lot of farms.”

The arguments

Federal ethanol subsidies are scheduled to expire at the end of the year, and Congress is debating an extension. Here are some of the issues:

    * Ethanol can be made from domestic farm products such as corn and may have environmental and national security benefits.

“It’s a very positive thing for the whole country, not just farmers. It’s a win-win situation.”
— Brian Haskin, Ionia County farmer

    * An existing tax credit spurs demand by giving incentive to blend ethanol into gasoline, while an import tariff shields domestic producers from lower-cost sugarcane ethanol in Brazil. Removing the subsidies could hamper the viability of U.S. ethanol.

“The failure of Congress to maintain ethanol and biodiesel subsidies at consistent levels is severely undercutting those (alternative energy) goals.”
— Tom Fehsenfeld, Crystal Flash Energy president

    * Maintaining the subsidies inflates the price of corn and the cost of meat production, for example.

“If you have to pay 10 percent more for your steak, I guess we feel that trade-off is worth all the benefits.”
— Loren Koeman,Agriculture consultant and Holland-area farmer

    * Dried distillers grain, a byproduct of the ethanol-making process, is billed by the industry as suitable livestock feed.

“We have found that, if you use above a certain level (of DDG), it has an impact both in productivity of the hogs and on meat quality.”
— Sam Hines, Executive vice president of the Michigan Pork Producers Association

    * Eliminating the subsidies could cause an 8 percent drop in corn prices.

“We’re just afraid the bottom would fall out from under us. We’d see a lot of American jobs lost.”
— Jamie Cook, Michigan Corn Growers Association’s ethanol and new use coordinator

    * One proposal from a pro-ethanol network would phase out subsidies in favor of government investment in infrastructure to make the fuel more available to consumers.

“Let’s get it so that all cars can burn a higher blend of ethanol so we can get more of this into the stream.”
— Koeman

    * Can the subsidies spark enough demand for ethanol to stand on its own? And is it worth the cost to U.S. taxpayers of $1.78 per gallon of fuel that is replaced by ethanol?

“No one quite knows what to do with it. It’s hard to know when they’re competitive. It’s pretty hard to say when you won’t need the subsidy anymore.”
— U.S. Rep. Vern Ehlers, R-Grand Rapids

Monday, August 9, 2010

Antique Tractors, Farm Machinery takes Admirers Back


PILESGROVE TWP. — The collecting of antique machinery is a hobby for many locals in this area, but behind the glimmering paint of a freshly restored John Deere tractor is a sense of nostalgia that brings residents of Salem County back to a simpler time.

Not unlike other years at the Salem County Fair, the machinery display was a big hit with the crowds of thousands that visited the fairgrounds last week. Both young and old took in the different styles, sizes and makes of equipment on display.

John Deere ag equipment had a big showing as two collectors brought some very rare pieces from their collection to this year’s fair.

Other makes of tractors at the fair included Minneapolis Moline, Ford, Oliver, Silver King, and McCormick.

“It’s just really a hobby for me,” said Don Marshall of Vineland about his collection of John Deere tractors. “I brought only half of what I actually own.”

Two of Marshall’s tractors from his extensive collection were a 1936 John Deere D and a 1949 John Deere A. Both were restored to their original condition with the familiar grass green and banana yellow paint shining in the sun.

Freeholder Julie Acton holds a special place in her heart for antique tractors. The displays at the fair brought back memories from when her children were young.

“We would come here and they would sit up on these tractors all day,” said Acton. “They loved it.”

Another tractor collector exhibiting at the fair was Deerfield resident Neil Lang who had two very unique displays. His 1937 and 1938 John Deere LS’s were put side by side with one in its original state and the other was fully restored. Often, the challenge can be finding a good John Deere parts store.

Lang also had on display the first tractor he ever brought which was a 1951 John Deere M. He bought it used in 1961 for $450.

“I still use that one today,” Lang said.

The 1956 John Deere 420 S on display was one Lang bought locally from Kathleen Camp in Elmer.

“This exact tractor was used at Palatine Park,” said Lang.

If there was a prize for bringing the most equipment it would have gone to Bridgeton resident Peter Shestakoff.

Among the numerous pieces brought by Shestakoff one of the big show stoppers was a 1913 International eight horsepower engine. The belt style engine was hooked up to a New Holland Rock Crusher.

He also had on display an old-time laundry machine run by crank and a number of old engines, one which was used on an oyster boat to pull in nets.

Logan Maurer, 3, of Deepwater took an interest especially in the antique corn plate mill and the bur mill grinder. Mauer used the crank on the plate mill to strip the corn and then the bur mill to grind it into cornmeal.

“Kids like these pieces of equipment because they are hands-on,” said Shestakoff. “But if they had to do this all day it would be another story.”

Shestakoff said he enjoys bringing his equipment to the fair because of its traditional agricultural roots. He also said the reason behind the large fair display is the joy he gets when children take an interest in the antique equipment.

“It’s not easy getting all this stuff down here. It takes me about two days to haul everything,” said Shestakoff. “But people love to see how things work and that’s why I bring as much as I do so people can come and visit.”  

Thursday, August 5, 2010

The Best Tractor - is it Green or Red?

Sioux City Journal

H. Ferguson, Massey, Minneapolis-Moline, Oliver, Ford, Field Marshall and Dexter.

All were once familiar brand names on American farms. But, much like the auto industry, agricultural equipment manufacturers have folded under national and international competition or consolidated to better compete in the world market. For example, McCormick became International Harvester and, more recently, Case IH. Massey Ferguson and Allis-Chalmers are still available at some U.S. ag equipment dealers, along with names newer to the U.S., such as Krone and Kubota.

But at the Woodbury County Fair, which opened Wednesday at the fairgrounds in Moville, just two brand names dominate the large farm machinery on display: John Deere and Case IH.

Farmers looking over the equipment Wednesday morning had all kinds of reasons for favoring one brand over another. Most said they either "bled red" for Case IH or were "all green" fans of John Deere.

It may be a sad state of affairs for farmers who remember when there was more variety in the brands of tractors they could buy than in the brands of beer at their local grocery. For them, the fair offers 110 antique tractors.

For the others, well, there's mostly Case IH and John Deere to argue over.

A few farmers said it wasn't the brand, per se, that fuels their loyalty but the ease of getting service and parts when they need them. Unlike country crooner Kenny Chesney, not a single one of them mentioned that it matters whether their girlfriend thinks their tractor's sexy ... just as long as it's green. Or red.

Here is a sampling of opinions from the fair:

John Deere

Bryce Sohn, Danbury, Iowa -- "I'm definitely green. I just think you get the parts quicker. There are a lot of dealerships, good service."

Tom Handke, Mapleton, Iowa -- "The resale is the best. It costs more, but you get more out of it and fewer problems. It's whatever a person thinks; you're either Deere or Case."

Eldon Cuthrell, Early, Iowa -- "I have two balers, a John Deere and a Vermeer. The John Deere was giving us trouble; I bought a Vermeer `cause it's supposed to be better for bailing corn stalks." He said the Vermeer can be run in reverse to unclog a jam, but a jam in a Deere must be dug out. "You go with whatever works. I don't wear John Deere shorts or Vermeer shorts. But some guys do."

Case IH

Dennis Uhl, Sloan, Iowa -- "I had it beat into me," Uhl said of his father's own loyalty to Farmall, and then to Case IH. "I was brainwashed."

Paul Nelson, 12, Moville, Iowa -- "I drive an International Harvester 1026 Farmall. I like red tractors. When the green ones break down, it's kind of hard to fix `em up. You have to take the GPS off and stuff."

Marlin Groth, Moville, Iowa -- Groth is president of the Tri-State Antique Club; 10 of the 110 antique tractors on display at the fair belong to him, all are International Harvester or another forerunner of Case IH, including one bought new on July 11, 1935 by his great-grandfather. It was last owned by a neighbor of Groth, who told him years ago that he'd have to wait until he died to buy it. Sure enough, the man left a note about the tractor in his will. The neighbor's heirs recently came to Groth and offered him the right of first refusal to buy the tractor. They worked out a deal and Groth bought the tractor from the estate. "I rescued it about a month ago," he said.

Brand doesn't matter

Leo Groth, Moville, Iowa -- "If you get a good dealer, if you're satisfied with the dealer, stick by it."

Ray and Kathy Haafke, Bronson, Iowa -- "We kind of gravitate to orphans and oddballs," Kathy said of the couple's diverse collection of antique tractors. Now retired from farming, they brought six tractors to the fair, including a Minneapolis-Moline and a 1938 Graham-Bradley. They used both International Harvester and John Deere tractors on their farm, Ray said.