Summer Fairs Go Green with Soy-Based Products

With soy biodiesel powering trams and carnival rides, soy-based paint freshening up show barns and soy-based cleaning products getting the fairgrounds ready, fairs will be a little greener this year with the help of the United Soybean Board and the soy checkoff.

The Green Ribbon Fairs reimbursement program selected 13 fairs across the country through a competitive application process to promote the use of soy-based products such as biodiesel, paint, cleaners, hand sanitizers and more. NC State Fair is one of the recipients in the 2012 program.

BPI Plants Close Even Though Product Safe

BPI – or Beef Products – is suspending operations at plants in Amarillo, Texas, Garden City, Kansas and Waterloo, Iowa as a result of backlash over their lean finely textured beef. A total of 600 employees will be affected at the plants after several retail outlets – including Iowa-based HyVee – announced they won’t use the product in their ground beef production.

It’s estimated an additional 1.5-million head of cattle must be slaughtered annually to make up the shortfall. Nancy Degner – Executive Director of the Iowa Beef Industry Council – says there is no replacement for this lean beef product…

“It is safe. It has been approved by the USDA and the Food Safety Inspection Service which oversees meat. We’ve had in our ground beef for over 20 years, it is safe, it is approved. So, if were not to use that product, there is going to be less ground beef available in the US because we have less cattle. We have fewer cattle numbers, some of the lowest number since the 1950’s, so there will be less, and what that does to prices, if there’s less product, if the demand is there, the price will go up.”

Degner says the use of Ammonium hydroxide gas as a treatment to kill bacteria has also been misrepresented. This is not the same ammonia used for household cleaning – and the slang term given to the nearly 100-percent lean beef product has led to the unnecessary consumer backlash

Consumer Confidence Slipped

Consumers' confidence in the U.S. Economy slipped in March from 71.6 to 70.2. Ken Goldstein an Economist with the Conference Board which releases the numbers says he doesn't view this as a negative decline in consumer sentiment.

“What we have here, after that relatively large jump in February, almost a 10 point jump in consumer confidence, we hold on to all but one point of that.”

Input Costs High Enough to Erode Profits

While commodity prices have been strong – input costs are also very high. AgriVisions President David Kohl – a veteran economist at Virginia Tech – says that can result in margin compression…

“Particularly with oil, today, $3.93 a gallon for gasoline, you know diesel fuel is above that. And if you aren’t real careful and you’re pushing a pencil, and the computer button, you can get an upside down margin very, very quickly. So, I think that’s one of the big questions on farmers’ minds, because see, 80% of farm expenses are somehow connected to oil, it’s a very critical variable on the margin.”

Wendy’s, Others Follow Trend

The Wendy’s hamburger chain has joined others in the foodservice providers business that will require its U.S. and Canadian pork suppliers to make plans to phase out the use of gestation-sow stalls. Wendy’s announcement follows a similar announcement by McDonalds, giving its suppliers until May to develop and deliver their plans.

Today’s Farm Fact:

Commodity policies in the 2008 farm bill cost less than one-quarter of one percent of the federal budget—about 25 cents out of every $100 paid in taxes. is dedicated to serving the agricultural industry in the Carolinas and Virginia with the latest ag news, exclusive regional weather station readings, and key crop market information. The website is a companion of the Southern Farm Network, provider of daily agricultural radio programming to the Carolinas since 1974. presents radio programs, interviews and news relevant to crop and livestock production and research throughout the mid-Atlantic agricultural community.