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.

Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Cab Suspensions Becoming the Norm

Farmers Weekly Interactive

Cab suspension is fast becoming a must-have option when farmers buy a new tractor, reports Andy Collings

Tractor work will never be the smoothest of tasks – the terrain they are asked to work in is rarely the stuff billiards are played on.

But, increasingly, there is recognition that improved operator comfort means greater output. Where there is choice, operators will consciously or otherwise limit their tractor speed to one which allows an acceptable degree of comfort. Introduce cab suspension, front axle suspension and sprung seats and speed increases along with output - by as much as 12%, say tractor manufacturers.

Efforts to increase the comfort of tractor drivers through the use of suspension have also been driven by legal pressure to reduce whole-body vibration which has the potential to cause health problems when tractors are operated for long periods of time. The good news is that most tractor manufacturers are now able to offer customers the option of cab suspension.

Tractor drivers are subject to forces in three planes - up and down, side to side, and back and forwards. Suspension designers try to limit these movements so they have the least effect on a human body.

In an ideal world such movements would be reduced to zero. But an operator completely deprived of sensory input as to how his tractor was performing would be liable to over-confidence and probably soon turn the tractor over.

So a degree of cab movement is required - but how much or little should this be? Some cab designers have got this wrong in the past, with tractor drivers complaining of motion sickness.

Also, tractor cabs are built to provide protection for the operator and it is important that suspension systems do not compromise this essential safety aspect.

So how have manufacturers set about providing cab suspension? There are basically three ways of controlling the movement required to dampen out the forces imposed on the cab - spring, air and hydraulic (via a gas accumulator).

In the UK, where on-board air compressors are still relatively rare, air suspension is not normally offered though, with greater use of trailer air braking systems, this situation could change.

More common is the use of springs and shock absorbers or hydraulic/gas accumulator systems.

An example of a hydraulic cab suspension system is John Deere's HCS option. As with most systems, it is only the rear of the cab which has the suspension units - the front is connected to the chassis using pivot-type bearings on each corner which allow a small amount of lateral and longitudinal movement.

At the two rear corners, connection is made using two interconnected brackets which, while being secure, allow the rear of the cab to move up and down.

This movement is controlled by two hydraulic rams/shock absorbers feeding oil into two nitrogen-filled accumulators - the compressibility of the gas provides the suspension element for a movement of 50mm up and 50mm down.

To ensure the ride height remains in a central position - irrespective of the weight of the operator - a position sensor increases or decreases the amount of oil in the shock absorber rams.

Most other tractor manufacturers take the spring/shock absorber route. Claas, with its Renault heritage, probably has more experience than most - the Renault TZ suspended cab was introduced in the 1980s.

Unlike the Deere system, the Claas Arion cab has suspension spring and shock absorbers at all four corners of the cab - rather than just the two rear ones. It is an arrangement designed to reduce not only vertical movement but also side-to-side and forward-and-backward movement.

Left to its own devices, the system would cause rolling and pitching so roll bars run across the cab from front to rear. There's also an integral three-position adjustment system that allows either a firmer or softer ride to be set.

Cab suspension is increasingly available for smaller tractors. Massey Ferguson, for example, recently announced cab suspension for its 85-145hp MF5400 Series tractors and Deutz-Fahr has been offering suspension on its 90-120hp Agrotron K Series tractors since their launch in 2005.

What does the future hold? New Holland's Richard Hollins thinks big improvements in cab suspension will only come when manufacturers introduce new cabs which can be designed to accommodate suspension units.

"Many manufacturers still use cabs that have had to be adapted to have suspension units fitted," he says. "This inevitably leads to a degree of compromise and gives little choice in the positioning of the springs and dampers."

Mr Hollins suggests that, as with the later New Holland tractors where a new cab frame has been introduced, the suspension unit can be positioned further under the cab where a greater degree of control is available.

"This helps to provide a more complete suspension system but it is still not perhaps the absolute solution," he insists. "The interaction between the operator, the seat, the cab and the rest of the tractor is a complex one, with cab suspension being just one part of it."

John Deere

John Deere's cab suspension is based on a hydro-pneumatic system. Note the position sensor which keeps the system at mid-height - irrespective of the weight it in the cab.

Class system by Renault

Claas uses the system developed by Renault and is the only tractor manufacturer to mount spring and shock absorbers on four corners of the cab, rather than the more usual two.

John Deere HCS system

Schematic view of the John Deere HCS system. Main components comprise hydraulic ram and gas accumulator along with the position sensor. The yellow strut is known as the Panhard rod which prevents excessive lateral movement.

Class four-spring system

A look at the Claas four-spring system and the struts which maintain the stability of the cab.

Class and Renault

Claas inherited Renault's cab experience when it took over the French maker.

MF 5400 tractor series

Massey Ferguson now offers cab suspension for its 85-145hp MF 5400 Series tractors.

Saturday, March 27, 2010

John Deere in the Headlights

FOX News

Why is the company lobbying for Cap-and-Trade?

Big business support of President Obama’s health care and energy policy has put CEOs on the front lines of the nation’s biggest political battles. Big PhRMA – the drug industry trade group – is credited with bringing Obama’s health care plan to the precipice of passage and the United States Climate Action Partnership (USCAP) – a coalition of business and environmental special interest groups – played a key role in passing the Waxman-Markey cap-and-trade bill in the House of Representatives last year.

Clearly, CEOs see big bucks in big government.

Beyond dreams of fortune, chief executives also proved to be a national risk when their mismanagement drove our nation into greater debt through taxpayer-funded bailouts.

While liberty-minded citizens can seek to elect politicians that support limited government, big government CEOs (or, perhaps, progressive CEOs) remain largely beyond our reach.

Because CEOs can represent as much of a risk to liberty as elected officials, limited government advocates need a voice in the boardroom.

For this reason, my wife Deneen and I are attending the John Deere annual shareholder meeting today in Moline, Illinois on behalf of the National Center for Public Policy Research, a free-market think-tank that owns shares in John Deere.

Our goal is to press management to justify why John Deere remains a member of USCAP and why these executives believe a cap-and-trade scheme is in the company’s best interest. These questions are especially timely, as BP, Caterpillar and ConocoPhillips made national news this month, after they abandoned USCAP.

These companies followed Marsh and Xerox, which quietly exited the coalition last year.
As it is a major supplier of agricultural equipment, Deere’s USCAP membership is especially puzzling because an abundance of evidence shows carbon emissions restrictions would harm its business.

Economic studies consistently report that cap-and-trade results in higher energy prices, lower economic growth and job losses.

The Heritage Foundation’s analysis of the Waxman-Markey bill found “the GDP loss in 2020 was $161 billion (in 2009 dollars).”

Additional analysis by Heritage on the impact of cap-and-trade on the farming industry “found that farm income (or the amount left over after paying all expenses) is expected to drop $8 billion in 2012, $25 billion in 2024, and over $50 billion in 2035. These are decreases of 28 percent, 60 percent, and 94 percent, respectively. The average net income lost over the 2010-2035 timeline is $23 billion -- a 57 percent decrease from the baseline.”

Obviously, such a decline in farmers’ income would have a significant negative impact on Deere’s business.

What’s even more baffling is Deere’s description of its business risks, which the company provides via its 10-K filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC).

Deere states that demand for its products could be negatively impacted by “an economic environment characterized by higher unemployment, lower consumer spending, lower corporate earnings and lower business investment.”

Deere is pursuing legislation that will bring about the business risk that it warns its shareholders about.

There is a disconnect between the economic consequences of cap-and-trade and Deere’s business interest. But maybe Deere has a good answer for this paradox.

Maybe Deere has a different economic analysis that shows cap-and-trade is good for business?
Perhaps the company took to heart the conclusion of Al Gore’s “Inconvenient Truth” documentary and the company is willing to sacrifice its business for the sake of the planet?
Of course, it’s possible that Deere jumped on the fossil fuel crusade to curry favor with progressive politicians and their environmental special interest allies.

Whatever its rationale, Deere should provide its shareholders with information that will allow investors to judge the quality of its management decisions.

Thanks to a new guidance from the SEC on climate change disclosures, the shroud of mystery surrounding companies’ support of global warming regulations should be removed.

The SEC is now encouraging companies to tell shareholders about the business risk of global warming, including the risk of regulations such as cap-and-trade on its business.

If it follows the intent of the SEC guidance, Deere will disclose the economic impact of capping emissions on its business.

Being honest with shareholders would be a refreshing change from corporate America.

In the meantime, we will take advantage of the access to management that the shareholder meeting offers investors to determine if the company has a real global warming business strategy or if Deere is sacrificing its business interests, and risking the economic well-being of the American public, simply to curry favor with liberal politicians.

Tom Borelli is director of the National Center for Public Policy Research's Free Enterprise Project.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Antique Tractors Take Residents Down Memory Lane

The Villages Daily Sun

THE VILLAGES — A small fleet of shiny red, green and yellow, old-fashioned tractors gleamed in their parking spaces along Lake Sumter Landing Market Square on Saturday afternoon.

Residents at the square were able to get up close and personal with the antique tractors on display, which were brought in from owners around Central Florida, as well as reminisce about their own backgrounds and memories of farm life.

Bob and Pam Hanscome, who spend a few months of the year in the Village of Virginia Trace and the rest of the year in Maine, were admiring the farm equipment at the show.

“I like tractors because I have three of my own,” Bob said.

The couple own a Christmas Tree farm in Maine, and because of his farming experience, he said he could see the work the tractor owners put into keeping the tractors new-looking.

While he enjoyed looking at the different makes and models, ranging from John Deere tractors to Farmall, with a few Fergusons, he did notice one missing brand.

“I’m a Ford man,” he said. “But these are the major manufacturers.”

Pam said she too was enjoying the show.

“I’m interested in it. I think it’s fascinating,” she said. “I don’t know much about tractors, but it’s interesting.”

“It’s a piece of history, what they used back then and what’s available today,” Bob added.

Another show attendee was John Marks of Leesburg.

“I love to come to these tractor displays because I was raised on a farm. It’s good to see them restored,” said Marks, who lives in the Highland Lakes retirement community.

Of all the tractors on display, he connected most with one type.

“We had Fergusons on our farm, so I related to that,” said Marks, who grew up in Ohio.

Bill Olson of the Village of Santo Domingo was perusing the tractors with his wife Linda. Olson comes from Wisconsin, and said he remembers the different types of tractors he grew up learning about.

“I grew up on a farm, and we had John Deeres, Internationals and Allis Chalmers,” Olson said.

He also said the historical aspect was interesting to him. He noticed that many of the models were from the 1950s and 1960s.

“It’s remnants of the past,” Olson said. “Some people have really put a lot of money into refinishing and refurbishing them.”

Monday, March 22, 2010

John Deere Supplier Unloading Ohio Branches

Columbus (Ohio) Business First

A John Deere construction equipment supplier has struck a deal to sell all its Ohio branches to Murphy Tractor & Equipment Co. of Kansas.

Wichita-based Murphy on Tuesday said it will buy Tampa, Fla.-based Nortrax Equipment’s eight Ohio branches, which include an operation on Walcutt Road in west Columbus. The other branches are in Brunswick, Canton, Cincinnati, Lima, Painesville, Youngstown and Vandalia, near Dayton.

Nortrax, the largest retail group of the John Deere commercial work division, has about 40 U.S. locations. The Ohio deal, financial terms of which weren’t disclosed, will bring Murphy to 24 locations in Ohio, Kansas, Iowa, Missouri and Nebraska.

Murphy President Tom Udland said in a release that the deal for the Deere & Co. subsidiary’s Ohio footprint fits well within the company’s growth plan.

“The anticipated national economic recovery and the resultant infrastructure rebuilding bode well for our industry,” Udland said. “... It is our intent to significantly increase the size of the business in Ohio, including increased employment.”

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Town Celebrates Community, Trucks

News Chief

LAKE ALFRED - Connor Way was amazed by the size of the trucks that lined Pomelo Street during the second annual Community Day and Touch-A-Truck event, which was held in Lake Alfred on Saturday.

Way, 3, from Lake Alfred, was one of several children who got to climb aboard a Tampa Electric Company work truck and a military-style dump truck. Pomelo Street was shut down from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. for the event.

Way's mother, Valerie, was full of laughter as she watched her son climb onto a CAT bull dozer, but then get scared and scream to get off.

"This is great to see him having a bunch of fun on these trucks," Valerie said. "It's a great time for him."

Some other trucks on display included a garbage truck, brush truck and a Lake Alfred Fire Department fire truck. However, the fire truck was missing from the event for some time after leaving to answer an emergency call.

Local businesses set up booths and tents in the Centerstate Bank parking lot for residents to stop by and learn more about them. Lockhart Realty, Metro PCS and the Lake Alfred Community Food Pantry were just a few businesses that participated in the event.

Missy Joyce, president of the Lake Alfred Chamber of Commerce, roamed around the parking lot, conversing with residents and helping out with refreshments. Joyce said she was happy to see everyone at the event.

"I think the turnout for the event has been awesome and it turned out to be a great day," Joyce said. "It's also good to see the community coming out and having some fun."

Joyce said it's good for businesses to build relationships with the residents and serve the community's needs.

"That just makes us a stronger city and group," Joyce said.

Parks and Recreation Supervisor Jeff Tillman said all the hard work to get the event ready was paying off.

"Everything went pretty smooth setting up the event," Tillman said. "This is a good turnout for us and everyone seems to be enjoying themselves."

A choir from First Presbyterian and a band from First Baptist performed at the event along with Joey Foley and the Strawberry Express Cloggers.

Monday, March 8, 2010

Some are Worrying about the Push for Smaller Farm Sizes

DesMoines Register

Angela Jackson is not a typical Iowa farmer and certainly isn't the typical recipient of farm subsidies.

She grows vegetables for local supermarkets, not grain for biofuels or livestock feed.

But she's the kind of farmer the Obama administration wants more of, and that raises alarms among some colleagues in conventional agriculture. They worry they'll be harmed by the Agriculture Department's new focus on small farms and encouragement local production of fruits and vegetables.

"USDA shifted on me," said Tim Burrack, a farmer near Arlington in northeast Iowa who is chairman of the Iowa Corn Promotion Board. He said the Obama administration's local-foods initiative, dubbed "Know Your Farmer, Know Your Food," to promote small-scale agriculture, will drive up food costs because large farms are more efficient.

Jim McFerson, who manages the Washington Tree Fruit Research Commission, said there isn't enough consumer demand for fresh produce to accommodate all the new farms the USDA wants.

"How does this magic wand happen ... so there's room for these small- and medium-size farmers to produce apples in Kansas and artichokes in Maine?" McFerson asked at a recent USDA conference.

Jackson, a former college professor who farms near Sioux City, welcomed the change at the USDA. She recently applied for a $4,000 grant to buy a second portable-type greenhouse, an open-ended, plastic-covered structure made by FarmTek in Dyersville and known as a "high tunnel." The structures allows her to plant tomatoes in April and harvest spinach into December.

She expects to triple her production to fill demand from six area Hy-Vee stores, including two each in Sioux City and Sioux Falls, S.D. She'll use her profits to expand even more.

"The consumer is driving this," she said.

Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack, a former Iowa governor, said that helping farmers like Jackson will keep people on the land, generate income for rural economies and improve Americans' health by eating more fresh produce. But he said conventional growers, known collectively in agribusiness circles as "production agriculture," stand to benefit, too, because the administration's campaign will improve the image that urban dwellers have of farmers and farm programs.

"The shrinking number of farmers and shrinking number of rural legislators mean we need to create alliances and create partnerships to make sure people understand what production agriculture does and make sure it has continuing support," Vilsack said.

Conventional grain and cotton farms such as Burrack's still dominate the USDA's farm programs.

Rules for who gets what and how much are set by Congress in the farm bills. Burrack and his family operation received more than $1.5 million in crop subsidies from 1995 through 2006, according to the Environmental Working Group. In 2007, Iowa farmers and landowners collectively received $775 million in USDA payments.

The Obama administration's campaign for locally grown foods tries to lead by example, which meant digging up part of the White House grounds for a garden; using the bully pulpit; and directing some conservation spending, loan guarantees and other assistance toward bolstering small-scale farming.

Last month, the USDA's annual agricultural outlook conference, a widely attended affair that draws agribusiness representatives and academics from around the country, was headlined, "Sustainable Agriculture: The key to health and prosperity." It featured speakers who uncharacteristically criticized conventional agriculture. One food service executive said his company is reducing its use of beef and buying meat produced without antibiotics.

The USDA deputy secretary, Kathleen Merrigan, is a long-time advocate of organic food and small-scale farming. Under her direction, the department is using programs and legal authority provided by Congress in the 2008 farm bill to steer some grants and loans to farmers as well as new processors and distribution networks needed by small-scale farms. The department awarded $650,000 to Prairieland Foods, to process milk in the Lincoln, Neb., area.

Jackson is among 18 Iowa farmers who have applied for money earmarked in a conservation program to subsidize the high-tunnel houses. Jackson qualifies for an especially large grant because she's a woman and a beginning farmer.

The department is working on a manual on food-safety regulations for small meat processors and mobile slaughter units.

Burrack and McFerson spoke at the outlook conference. Burrack said Midwest farmers weren't ready for what the administration was doing. Afterward, at least one agribusiness lobbyist complimented Burrack's remarks, and the farmer got into an impromptu debate with attendees who were questioning conventional farming practices.

Vilsack also gets heat from critics on the other side, especially for his support of genetically engineered crops and associations with the biotech industry.

Groups such as the National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition accused the administration of reneging on a campaign pledge to tighten subsidy eligibility rules for large farms. Some appointees set off alarms, including the USDA's new research chief, Roger Beachy, a leading biotech crop scientist. The White House's nominee as agricultural trade negotiator, Islam Siddiqui, is a former pesticide industry lobbyist.

"I must be doing something right," Vilsack said. "What folks on both sides of this debate want the USDA to do is pick sides, and I think that's the last thing USDA should do."

Some advocates of small-scale farming say his critics need to be more patient.

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Considering GPS


You’ve watched from the sidelines as the perceptions of other farmers about GPS technology evolved from “It’ll never work” to “I wouldn’t farm without it.” You’ve observed your neighbors, studied their fields and done your homework. It’s time to write some checks and bring GPS technology to your farm.

There will be challenges. There will be times when you’ll want to pitch all the displays, wiring harnesses and owner’s manuals out of the cab and go back to “just farming.”

But there will also be a moment when you push a button and the tractor, combine or sprayer starts laying out precise, straight swaths and you’ll want to stand on top of the cab and shout, “I’m king of the world!”

It’s a big jump from sitting on the technological sidelines to that moment of triumph. To help take the plunge into this technology, here are 12 things you need to know before you buy a GPS system:

1. The basic concept of GPS technology
The Global Positioning System (GPS) uses a network of satellites to calculate the precise location of a vehicle, piece of farm equipment or hand-held receiver on the face of the Earth.

2. Systems have multiple uses on modern farms.
There are many ways farmers can use GPS technology on the farm:
Yield mapping blends on-the-go yield data with GPS information to create maps that show how yields vary across your fields.

GPS-based guidance systems help direct machines through fields, eliminating the need to follow rows or use mechanical or foam markers.

GPS-guided automated planter and spray boom section controls track a machine’s field location and turn on or off planter row units or boom sections as it overlaps previously planted/sprayed areas or passes through no-spray/no-plant areas.

“Growers see savings [with row shutoffs and spray shutoffs],” says Laura Robson of John Deere Ag Management Solutions. “Reducing overplanting and overspraying can reduce input costs.”

3. Pick your precision.
GPS-aided manual guidance is as simple as it gets: The operator pushes a button to establish “Point A,” then drives for a distance and pushes the button again to establish “Point B.” The computer uses GPS technology to create an imaginary, invisible straight line, called an “A–B line,” between the points. It also creates a series of imaginary lines parallel to the A–B line. On subsequent passes, the operator watches a lightbar or visual display and manually steers to follow those electronic “marks.”

GPS-guided auto-steer systems actually steer machines through the field. Once an A–B line is  established and the operator pushes a button to engage auto-steer, the system takes over and steers the machine.

System manufacturers offer alternatives to straight A–B lines for circle-irrigated fields, contoured fields and fields where rows can’t run straight.

4. GPS offers varying degrees of precision.
Precision is defined in two ways: accuracy and repeatability.

Accuracy refers to how much an A–B line can vary. If a system advertises 4" to 6" accuracy, it means the A–B line could waver as much as 4" to 6" sideways across the field.

Repeatability is the stability of the A–B line over time. The reasons are complex, but an A–B line established at 8 a.m. can “move” and be offset several yards by sunset due to satellite positions. Repeatability becomes an issue if a farmer wants to precisely follow the same tracks throughout a growing year or strip-till fertilizer in November and then plant precisely into the fertilized strips in May.

5. Know your goals.
“Before you even think about buying [GPS] technology, consider what you want to do on your farm,” says Sid Siefken of Trimble. “Do you want to plant straighter rows? Apply fertilizer more accurately and efficiently? Maybe you just want to be less tired at the end of the day. A good dealer will listen to your needs and help you select the right levels of GPS technology.”

6. Avoid getting stuck in a technological dead end.
Even if you don’t want to go whole hog with your first GPS system, be sure that system can expand as your needs expand.

“The cheapest option is not always the best value,” Siefken says. “Ask your dealer what each system offers and how it can be upgraded. Can you start out using it as a lightbar [guidance system] and then upgrade to automated steering later? Future-proof your technology by starting with equipment that is highly functional now and has built-in capabilities for upgrades later.”

7. Make sure you have a modern mindset.

If you don’t have a home computer, if you don’t have a cell phone, or if you despise “pushing buttons,” then GPS technology may be a challenge. Modern GPS systems are extremely user-friendly but assume users have basic computer skills.

“There’s a definite learning curve that you need to be prepared for,” says Shannon Bryan, a Dawson, Iowa, farmer. “I can’t say I’m adept at computers, but I’ve had one in the house since the ’80s and am comfortable entering information and moving around the system. I started yield mapping 12 years ago and use computerized spray controllers, so it really wasn’t a big problem to learn how to set up and use [GPS-guided] auto-steer.

“One advantage I have is my age,” chuckles the 50-something Bryan. “I’m old enough to have a son who isn’t afraid of computers. If there’s something I can’t figure out, I give him the owner’s manual and he tells me which buttons to push.”

8. Back up critical settings.
An operator cannot damage or destroy a system by pushing a wrong button. “Poke and learn” is actually a valid way to answer the question, “What happens if I do this?” But it is possible to lose information—the width of the machine, type of machine, type of operation, field number, farm number, etc.—if you accidentally push the wrong button.

This information can be re-entered, but it takes time. Savvy operators keep hard copies of critical settings so they can re-enter data if necessary.

9. Keep your system updated.
Operators must be prepared to spend a half-hour to several hours updating and programming GPS systems each year. They must also be prepared to spend a few minutes updating or inputting data when they switch fields and farms. If you don’t take time to freshen data when necessary, your GPS system may not work correctly.

10. The steering wheel still works.
If circumstances prevent an operator from making data inputs, or if a GPS component fails, in most situations the system can be turned off and the planter, combine, sprayer or other machine can be operated manually. Remember: The steering wheel works even if the GPS system doesn’t.

11. Capture the savings.

Exact numbers vary from user to user, but industry experts say farmers can expect GPS systems to offer 3% to 7% time savings during tillage, planting and other field operations by reducing overlaps. Depending on the operation, minimizing overlap can reduce fuel use by 5% to 15%. Operators using high-accuracy GPS guidance can reduce fertilizer and chemical costs by 5% to 15%, simply because they aren’t double-applying inputs. Planters with row shutoffs and variable-rate seeding systems have been documented to reduce seed costs by another 5% to 7%.

12. Intangible benefits.
“Now that I’ve used [GPS-guided] auto-steer, the stress reduction is bigger than I ever anticipated,” says Bryan, the Iowa farmer. “It’s hard to put a dollar amount on how much less tired I am at the end of a day. One example is my shoulders and neck don’t ache after a day running the planter like they used to. Intangibles like less stress are bonuses that sealed the deal for me.”

Monday, March 1, 2010

Group Seeks to Change Georgia's State Bird to the Chicken

The Gainesville Times

If an Augusta group gets its way, we might salute the trucks that head down local streets taking our state bird to its final destination.

But a push to change Georgia’s official bird from the brown thrasher to the chicken hasn’t yet taken flight in the Poultry Capital of the World. It likely won’t ruffle legislators’ feathers, either, as this year, the state’s butchered budget takes priority.

Still, the attention the Flip the Birds Campaign brings to Georgia’s big agribusiness — and Hall County’s biggest industry — is nice, said Mike Giles, president of the Georgia Poultry Foundation.

A video on the campaign’s Web site says that "if it wasn’t for the chicken, Georgia’s economy would be in the tank." The Web site asks visitors to sign a petition in favor of the change and urges them to write their legislators.

If nothing else, the campaign seeks to give the chicken a little respect.

"So why would you want to have the brown thrasher for the state bird, who hasn’t done anything for the state other than just fly around and look good?" said a man in a video on the Web site. "And the chicken does what it does: brings all the money, employs all these people, provides jobs ..."

Giles said the campaign makes some "great points" about the importance of poultry to Georgia. And while he said he appreciates the positive attention the campaign turns on the poultry industry, Giles said he doubts the campaign will make a scratch at the Capitol.

"I’m not sure that a proposal to change the state bird from the brown thrasher would fly down here," Giles said. "... It’s a tradition, and people recognize it as the state bird. I’m just not sure that the legislature is going to spend a lot of time on an issue like that."

Two of the legislators who represent Hall County at the statehouse, Republican Reps. Doug Collins and James Mills, say no one has contacted them with a request to change the state bird. Even if they had, both say they are too concerned with the state’s budget crisis to even consider state symbols this session.

State Rep. Carl Rogers, also of Gainesville, didn’t return a call seeking comment on the issue Friday. All three representatives are on the House Appropriations Committee, which will be hunkered down for the second full week carving $1 billion from next year’s state spending plan.

"With the economy like it is, we can’t afford to let our priorities go a-fowl," Mills said. "We have to stay focused on the budget."

And though the Greater Hall Chamber of Commerce has spent years praising Hall County’s poultry industry, Chamber President Kit Dunlap says there are more important things going on right now, like transportation, water and the proposed hospital "bed tax."

"Those are the important things right now," Dunlap said. "I doubt if we take on the bird."

The chamber is famous for the "chicken" boxes it sends to legislators each year, and a pin depicting a chicken rowing was highly sought after during the 1996 Olympic games, Dunlap said.

"We do tend to take off on our chickens," she said.

But even if the state’s bird did change to the chicken, it may not do much for Gainesville’s tourism. No one likely plans trips to Georgia based on the state symbols, said Stacey Dickson, president of the Lake Lanier Convention and Visitors Bureau.

"They’re not like, ‘I’m going to come from Ohio just to see a live oak tree and a brown thrasher,’" Dickson said.

The change, if it ever happened, would only mean something locally, she said.

"I would say for Gainesville and Hall County that certainly would be a feather in our cap, so to speak, to have the state bird changed to that," Dickson said. "... If that’s what got decided, we certainly would be able to capitalize on it in our area."

Grassroots: Jasper County Adviser Wins Iowa Crop Award

Des Moines Register

Mike Gannon was named the Iowa certified crop adviser of the year by his peers at the Conference and Showcase of the Agribusiness Association of Iowa on Feb. 9.

Gannon focuses his efforts on 25,000 acres of cropland in Jasper County. He works with producers in generating large and healthy crops of corn, soybeans, alfalfa, pasture and sorghum.

Gannon has more than 21 years as a crop adviser and was one of the first to be certified when the program was adopted. He was cited for his professionalism and good advice to growers, who may be as small as a garden or as large as 9,500 acres.

The award recognizes a member of the industry who exemplified members in providing professional and effective "good advice" to clients.

A client of Gannon's and Heartland Cooperative said: "What sets Mike apart is his understanding of seed, crop protection products, soil fertility and precision technologies and his ability to bring all that together for his customers."