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Across the Editor’s Desk: Winter learning

LOREN KRUSE 01/26/2011 @ 2:07pm Editor-in-Chief Successful Farming

Successful Farming magazine sponsored the Innovations Theatre on the show floor of AG CONNECT Expo 2011 in Atlanta in early January. Below is a tiny sampling of what I heard as I hosted 15 topic sessions in the theatre. To see video of the sessions, go to www.agconnectnews.com. For further coverage of AG CONNECT Expo, a trade show of the Association of Equipment Manufacturers, see “Expo Grows” on page 14.

• Priority one: Get yield. “I’m a market adviser, but I know how important yield is to your profits,” says Al Kluis of Kluis Commodities. “In 2005, a 10% change in yield had a $30 impact on your bottom line. In 2011, a 10% change has a $90 impact. You can’t afford to go cheap. Do everything you can to maximize yield.”

• Humanize your story to consumers. “The media is a watchdog for the public,” says Emily Probst Miller, who was reared on an Illinois grain and hog farm and is now a producer for special investigations and documentaries at CNN. “While it is easy to blame the media that helps shape public opinion, I worry that any problems with consumers may rest with farmers who are letting someone else tell the story for them. What would you say if you told your farm’s story? It is easy to blame a faceless industry. Humanize your story and give it a face.”

• Not all carbon footprints are equal. “The carbon footprint per cow has doubled since 1944,” says Judith Capper, professor at Washington State University. “However, we are not in the business of making cows but of making milk, cheese, ice cream, and meat. Per unit of food, the carbon footprint in the diary industry is down 41% since 1944. We get 59% more milk from 64% fewer cows.”

• I agree, Mr. Ambassador! “I never could understand America’s preference for white meat,” says Korean Ambassador Han Duk-soo, who has two degrees from Harvard, referring to a provision which increases export of frozen chicken legs and thighs to Korea if Congress ratifies a long-delayed trade agreement. Koreans prefer dark meat.

• Dealer size means clout. “Competition is alive and well among dealers and may be as strong as ever,” says Lester Killebrew, an Alabama dealer and chairman of the board of the North American Equipment Dealers Association.  “If dealer margins have increased after a merger or putting together a multistore operation, it has come from leverage with the manufacturer. It has not come from increased margins in selling price to the customer.”

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