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BusINess » Agriculture

Posts Tagged ‘Agriculture’

Hammond hopes for $80M deal with world’s largest fertilizer producer

Fertilizer maker PotashCorp is working with Indiana Harbor Belt Railroad on what would be an $80 million project at the Gibson Yard in Hammond, Mayor Thomas McDermott Jr. said. PotashCorp Public Affairs Director Bill Johnson confirmed the site, west of Indianapolis Boulevard, is one of several the company has looked at in the Midwest for its new operation. (Photograph by John J. Watkins/The Times)

Fertilizer maker PotashCorp is working with Indiana Harbor Belt Railroad on what would be an $80 million project at the Gibson Yard in Hammond, Mayor Thomas McDermott Jr. said. PotashCorp Public Affairs Director Bill Johnson confirmed the site, west of Indianapolis Boulevard, is one of several the company has looked at in the Midwest for its new operation. (Photograph by John J. Watkins/The Times)

The world’s largest fertilizer producer wants to locate a rail transfer center in Hammond at the Gibson Yard, which could kick off more development and job creation there, Hammond Mayor Thomas McDermott Jr. said.

City officials have talked about a “multimillion dollar investment” north of Summer Street for some time. But McDermott confirmed for the first time this week that PotashCorp, of Saskatoon, Canada, is the interested party.

The fertilizer maker is working with Indiana Harbor Belt Railroad on what would be an $80 million project at the Gibson Yard, the mayor said.

“It is a major, major investment that we are talking about at that location,” McDermott said.

In addition, Indiana Harbor Belt Railroad has told the city two other companies are interested in locating there if the deal is finalized, said Phil Taillon, Hammond director of planning and development. Total investment by companies at the site eventually could reach $200 million.
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Lowell family honored with Hoosier Homestead Centennial Award

Margaret and Charles Bailey are shown at the dining room table in their Lowell farmhouse. Today, the Baileys will be honored with the Hoosier Homestead Centennial Award from the Indiana Department of Agriculture. (Photograph by Pat Kincaid, file/The Times.)

Margaret and Charles Bailey are shown at the dining room table in their Lowell farmhouse. Today, the Baileys will be honored with the Hoosier Homestead Centennial Award from the Indiana Department of Agriculture. (Photograph by Pat Kincaid, file/The Times.)

From the windows of his white frame hilltop home, Charles Bailey looks to the south, where westbound Ind. 2 cuts an asphalt swath through the 128-year-old farmstead where he has lived all 92 years.

Bailey remembers when the row of ailanthus trees, also known as the Tree of Heaven, were bulldozed to make room for the highway but lived on in his father’s Lanthus Stock Farm, a cattle operation.

Today, Bailey and his wife of 72 years, Margaret, will drive to Indianapolis where they will be honored with the Hoosier Homestead Centennial Award from the Indiana Department of Agriculture. Their family farm is one of 22 honored this year.
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The great pumpkin crop

Noah Kneifel, 4, of Westville, picks out several pumpkins at Coulter's Produce and Greenhouses. While they may not have a bumper crop, local producers say their pumpkins are healthy and available in greater variety this season after a dismal crop last year. (Photograph by The Times.)

Noah Kneifel, 4, of Westville, picks out several pumpkins at Coulter's Produce and Greenhouses. While they may not have a bumper crop, local producers say their pumpkins are healthy and available in greater variety this season after a dismal crop last year. (Photograph by The Times.)

That visual explosion of autumn orange in Northwest Indiana fields and at farm stands throughout the area is proof that pumpkins are making a comeback appearance this season after a lesser showing last year.

While they may not have a bumper crop, local producers say their pumpkins are healthy and available in greater variety.

“We have a good pumpkin crop. . . . Everybody in our area is doing better,” said Ryan Richardson, general manager of County Line Orchard in Hobart.

While he concedes that heavy spring rains always will bring a few problems, County Line’s strategy of planting more disease-resistant pumpkin varieties on its 25 acres has paid off, Richardson said.
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Corn is king . . . and beans ain’t bad this harvest

A combine rolls through a soybean field in Lowell. Soybeans prices are expected to settle around $10 a bushel, just below the record of $10.20 a bushel for Indiana. (Photograph by The Times.)

A combine rolls through a soybean field in Lowell. Soybeans prices are expected to settle around $10 a bushel, just below the record of $10.20 a bushel for Indiana.
(Photograph by The Times.)

To the untrained eye, the tall corn and full-leafed soybeans look like a possible record crop for farmers in Northwest Indiana and nearby Illinois, and they might be.

The record yields predicted by the U.S. Department of Agriculture in August for corn kings Iowa and Illinois have been adjusted down, as have those for Indiana.

But prices are high.

“Indiana corn prices received may be about $4.60 a bushel this year, and that would be a record high, breaking (the previous high of) $4.39 per bushel,” said Chris Hurt, agricultural economist with Purdue University.
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Douglas Holok

(Photograph by Tony V. Martin.)

(Photograph by Tony V. Martin.)

Douglas Holok grew up in Merrillville until the age of 13 and then moved to Richmond, Indiana, where he graduated from high school. Then he graduated from Valparaiso University on a football scholarship and majored in finance, met his wife Jennifer, who was originally from the area, and stayed.

“We grew up together and today we have four kids, Andrew age 9, Jackson age 7, Rae age 4, and Luke who is 20 months old,” says Holok.

Six years ago, Douglas and Jennifer decided to make a change in their lives that would set them on a course of helping others. “We made the decision to start investing in real estate as a supplement to retirement down the road. At the time I was selling machinery for the corrugated box industry and I was traveling all over Midwest, which wasn’t a good lifestyle for us and raising kids. So we made the decision to do real estate full-time. Then four years ago, I was diagnosed with cancer. It was a rare carcinoma on my fingertip and they caught it early and everything is clear, but it provided some important perspective for us and we decided to simplify and do what we love,” he says.

Pursuing real estate full time began first as a money-making endeavor and then turned into something much deeper, Holok says. “We started prior to the diagnosis and were looking in Gary. We wanted to invest in real estate purely from a profit standpoint because there was a lot to buy affordably. But then we stumbled into a purpose. There’s a huge need, both for the City of Gary as a whole for the neighborhoods to be revitalized, and then there’s a whole population of people who need a stable living environment. We started working with agencies, such as mental health facilities and organizations like the Catholic Charities that have special housing programs to give folks a second chance to live on their own. It’s more fulfilling, taking it from a pure profit business model, and adding a purpose aspect to it,” Holok says.
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Indiana farmland values growing

Farmland prices have moved upward in Indiana, proving to be a stabler alternative market for investors.

At the same time, cash rent prices have increased statewide as well. That’s good news for landowners renting their fields but not so good for the farmers paying them.

While the recently released results of Purdue University’s 2010 Indiana Farmland Value and Cash Rent Survey show land values increased between 4.5 percent and 6.3 percent statewide, the region didn’t fare as well.

No matter the soil productivity, an indicator in land prices, Northwest Indiana land values increased by less than 1 percent.
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Agriculture outlook less bountiful

Local farmers empty their loads after making passes in a Lowell field. Chris Hurt, an agricultural economist with Purdue University, presented Purdue's 2010 Ag Outlook Thursday at the Lake County offices of the Purdue Cooperative Extension Service. (Photograph by The Times.)

Local farmers empty their loads after making passes in a Lowell field. Chris Hurt, an agricultural economist with Purdue University, presented Purdue's 2010 Ag Outlook Thursday at the Lake County offices of the Purdue Cooperative Extension Service.
(Photograph by The Times.)

While the price of corn and soybeans plays large in Northwest Indiana farm economies, the bottom line for those in agriculture depends on that and more.

Chris Hurt, an agricultural economist with Purdue University, presented Purdue’s 2010 Ag Outlook on Thursday at the Lake County offices of the Purdue Cooperative Extension Service.

Hurt said members of Congress are unlikely to spend their remaining 11 days in Washington on such issues as the expiration of the blender’s tax credit and tax cuts, as well as changes in inheritance taxes, which are matters of economic importance to those in farming.
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Illinois farmers can cash in on millions as schools and restaurants demand local produce

The demand for Illinois fruits and vegetables far outstrips the supply, and local farmers could profit from increasing production in order to meet the wholesale need. (Photograph by Katherine Sacks/Medill.)

The demand for Illinois fruits and vegetables far outstrips the supply, and local farmers could profit from increasing production in order to meet the wholesale need.
(Photograph by Katherine Sacks/Medill.)

Sweet corn, peaches and lettuce fill the farmers markets and plates at family dinners. But Illinois farmers have a much larger market at their doorstep.

Local wholesale buyers are willing to spend at least $23 million annually in Illinois grown fruits and vegetables, according to a new report funded by the Illinois Department of Agriculture and published by familyfarmed.org, a non-profit Chicago advocate of local farms.

This number—calculated by surveying just 14 buyers including Whole Foods Markets, Chipotle, and US Foods—reflects only a small number of the potential buying power in local food production. Ready to Grow: A Plan for Increasing Illinois Fruits and Vegetables Production explains the opportunity smaller Illinois farmers have in marketing locally grown foods and suggests several clear steps to make this happen.
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Some farmers may expect record yields this year

Farmer Dan Sutton harvests wheat Wednesday afternoon from some of the 1,000 acres his family farms in Lowell. Planting during a dry April, followed by spring rains in June, should translate to a winning season for most local farmers, said Purdue University agricultural economist Chris Hurt. (Photograph by The Times.)

Farmer Dan Sutton harvests wheat Wednesday afternoon from some of the 1,000 acres his family farms in Lowell. Planting during a dry April, followed by spring rains in June, should translate to a winning season for most local farmers, said Purdue University agricultural economist Chris Hurt. (Photograph by The Times.)

Planting during a dry April, followed by spring rains in June, should translate to a winning season for most local farmers, said Purdue University agricultural economist Chris Hurt.

While soybeans are a tough call at this stage, Hurt said farmers across the state, including Northwest Indiana, should expect record corn yields because of favorable weather conditions for pollination.

“How you get started determines how the race goes,” Hurt said. “You don’t want to flash the sign that the corn crop is made, but the next two weeks look good. The blessing was that early to mid-April allowed so much field work to be done…The farmers made good progress.”

Still, those driving through rural counties of Northwest Indiana can see lush, tall corn in one field and stunted corn in another.
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Huseman family marks 100 years on Homestead Farm

Chuck Huseman, president of 100-year-old Homestead Farm in Cedar Lake, checks on his cattle during a walk of the farm grounds Tuesday. (Photograph by The Times.)

Chuck Huseman, president of 100-year-old Homestead Farm in Cedar Lake, checks on his cattle during a walk of the farm grounds Tuesday. (Photograph by The Times.)

Keeping a farm in the family is less common today as generations move into fields other than those filled with corn or soybeans, so the 100th anniversary of the Homestead Farm is something to be celebrated.

The Huseman clan will be do just that Saturday, when the annual family picnic unfolds at the farm on rural Sheffield Avenue, a tradition that began in 1949.

This year’s party will include T-shirts in special colors to represent each family branch, Chuck Huseman said. He said he ordered 135 T-shirts for those he expects will come in from nearby and as far away as California, New York and Alabama.
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