Future Planning
July 25, 2017, Ledgeview - They moved to custom homes in rural Brown County for the peace, quiet and wide-open spaces.

They did not expect that a manure pit serving hundreds of cattle could be part of the bargain.

Residents of a development off Lime Kiln Road are scrambling to find ways to keep a nearby dairy farm from building a manure-storage facility near their neighborhood of custom homes valued from $440,000 to more than $600,000.

Neighbors fear the farm could be allowed to store millions of gallons of manure and leachate at the site. Those concerns have galvanized a group that includes doctors, lawyers and the head coach of the Green Bay Packers. Some barely knew each other mere months ago.

They're worried that a structure for storing animal waste threatens water quality, endangers children, and will harm the values of the homes on Beachmont Road, Meadow Sound Drive and other streets constructed in recent years on land that formerly was agricultural. READ MORE 
Published in News
July 25, 2017, Canyon County, ID - A group of businessmen, mostly from the Treasure Valley, is proposing to build a $94 million plant in rural Canyon County to turn sorghum into paper plates and other food-packaging products, and to turn sorghum waste, manure and slaughterhouse waste into natural gas for energy.

The plant would be built on farmland where U.S. 26 meets U.S. 95 southeast of Parma. It has cleared several local zoning and permitting challenges. Now comes the hard part: raising money to build it, starting with $18 million for a first phase.

The group has formed a company called Treasure Valley Renewables. Its members include people with experience in manufacturing, ethanol plants, pulping mills and anaerobic (oxygen-free bacterial) digester operations.

The three-building plant would house about 75 jobs paying an average of $45,000 per year, says Chuck Anderson, a leader of the ownership group. Anderson is president of Boise Bio Gas and owner of QBM Management in Boise, a project-management and process-analysis company.

One part of the plant would turn sorghum into fiber molds Anderson says would make a biodegradable material for producers looking to replace Styrofoam food packaging material.

Neither product offers the kind of instant riches that venture capitalists usually target when they invest millions into technology companies, Anderson says. But Anderson, who has spent a career engineering paper plants for large companies, says he's confident the plant promises the kind of steady profits to attract investors. READ MORE 
Published in Anaerobic Digestion
July 5, 2017, Anson County, NC - The idea of trucks shipping chicken waste up their road to be cooked in a facility adjacent to their properties has ruffled the feathers of some Wadesboro homeowners. But Anson County's economic development director says the project is misunderstood and that homeowners have little to fear.

A small crowd packed the conference room of the Anson County Chamber of Commerce on June 20 to learn more about a proposed anaerobic digester and electric generation facility that may be built on Stanback Ferry Ice Plant Road.

A few were in favor of the facility, several were against it, and others wanted to learn more about it before making a decision. READ MORE
Published in News
Last month Statistics Canada released the results of the 2016 Census of Agriculture. Like many of you, I was eager to read up on the results and discover how our industry has changed in the five years since the last survey was conducted.

Some findings, such as the edging up of the average age of farm operators from 54 in 2011 to 55 in 2016, aren't all that surprising. After all, aging is a fact of life. Other findings, however, gave me pause. For example, Statistics Canada found that even though the average age of farmers has increased, only one in 12 operations have a formal succession plan outlining how the farm will be transferred to the next generation.

In other words, the vast majority of Canada's farm operators have not taken steps to safeguard the businesses they've worked long and hard to build.

Experts in the field agree there are many reasons farmers shy away from succession planning, including fear: fear of change, of creating conflict within the family, of losing one's identity as a farmer, and of confronting the fact that not even the healthiest among us live forever. Then there's the time required to craft a plan and implement it when there are still animals to feed, seeds to plant and suppliers and customers to work with, plus all the other tasks that contribute to a farm's long-term success. Perhaps one of the most significant barriers, though, is the daunting scope of work the term "succession planning" entails.

Though we can't do that work for you, the editorial teams behind Agrobiomass, Canadian Poultry, Fruit & Vegetable, Manure Manager, Potatoes in Canada and Top Crop Manager have partnered to help ease the way with our first annual Succession Planning Week.

From June 12 to 16, we'll be delivering a daily e-newsletter straight to your inbox, packed with information and resources to help you with succession planning in your operation. Each e-newsletter will offer practical advice and suggestions you can use, whether you're an experienced farm owner wondering if your succession plan needs some tweaking or an aspiring successor wondering how to start the succession conversation.

But that's not the only conversation we want to kick-start. Share your succession planning tips and success stories on Twitter and Facebook using the hashtag #AgSuccessionWeek. The best of the best will be published on our website (FamilyFarmSuccession.ca) and included in Friday's e-newsletter.

We hope Succession Planning Week offers valuable information to help you keep your operation growing, now and for generations to come.

Published in Business/Policy
June 12, 2017, Washington, D.C. - For the last several years, farmers have cited the increasing number of regulations as one of the biggest challenges facing their business.

However, a new administration appears to be trying to change that. President Trump has already used his power by issuing executive orders to roll back some agricultural regulations, but more reform is on the way and may start at the USDA.

Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue is chairing an interagency task force with resetting the regulatory tone in agriculture. READ MORE
Published in Federal
About 12 years ago, prompted by water quality concerns, the government of Manitoba, Canada, slapped a “temporary” ban on new swine barns. A few years later, that “temporary” ban became a moratorium on new barn construction in 35 municipalities throughout the province.
Published in State
April 25, 2017, Lincoln, NE – For a team of University of Nebraska-Lincoln chemical and biomolecular engineering students, biogas refining isn't just a senior design capstone project, it's a potential means of supplying Nebraska's rural communities with a renewable source of energy that comes from resources that are both local and plentiful.

Tasked with helping Nebraska Public Power District (NPPD) turn biogas into a more-refined form of natural gas, the team of Meryl Bloomfield, Heather Newell, K.J. Hafer and Dave Hansen saw that the state was among the nation's leaders in not only cattle population but in manure production.

Using an anaerobic digestion process, the team proposes turning that manure not only into fertilizer for crops but natural gas that NPPD could also use to create electricity that powers farms and rural communities across the state.

"Compared to other renewable energy sources – like wind and solar – biogas is more consistent," said Bloomfield. "Cows are always going to produce manure. You don't have to rely on having a sunny day or a windy day, especially In Nebraska, where wind and solar plants might not be as reliable as in Arizona and California."

According to The Cattle Network, Nebraska ranked second nationally in 2015 with approximately 6.3 million cattle or about seven percent of the U.S. population. One of the biggest uses of the manure produced by the cattle is the production of fertilizer.

The student team worked to develop a method that would allow the production of natural gas and still maintain a viable supply for fertilizer production. But that led to it expanding on its goal by proposing a solution that could be an economic boost to the rural community – a biogas upgrade refinery that would be strategically located near Broken Bow.

The refined natural gas from the Nebraska Biogas Upgrading Refinery would then be piped to NPPD's Canaday Station southeast of Lexington, where it could be used to create electricity.

"It would be centralized to where the cows are," Hansen said. "After designing the plant, we determined we'd need about a quarter of a million head of cattle to achieve the manure supply sufficient to reach the capacity NPPD is looking for.

The natural gas that would be similar to the gas used in homes across the country, Hansen said, except it would be collected as part of a natural process rather than relying on traditional means of extracting the gas – such as fracking or refining fossil fuels.

Newell also said the process would be more beneficial to the ecology.

"In doing this, we're reducing greenhouse gases from the cow manure that sits out and naturally becomes fertilizer," Newell said. "We're reducing the carbon dioxide and creating something useful from it."

Though their proposal isn't guaranteed to be implemented, Bloomfield said thinking about the human impact made this senior capstone experience valuable for the entire team.

"Knowing that it could be even a stepping stone to something for NPPD changed how we approached it," Bloomfield said. "When you're thinking theoretically, you can go a lot of different directions. When you're thinking about how it affects people and their lives, that's when it gets real."
Published in Biogas
April 18, 2017, Kansas City, MO – Dairy Farmers of America (DFA) and Vanguard Renewables recently announced a strategic partnership to help bring anaerobic digestion technology to more farms across the country.
Published in Dairy

December 15, 2016, Panora, IA – The genesis of my interest in public relations plans for farmers came when we built our first 7,200-head wean-to-finish hog building.

To continue on good terms with our neighbors, we visited with each of them about our intentions. Little did we realize community activists halfway across Iowa would interfere with the county board of supervisors as we worked to get our construction permit. READ MORE

Published in Swine

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