The Pantagraph from Bloomington, Illinois on October 27, 2002 · Page 40
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The Pantagraph from Bloomington, Illinois · Page 40

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Sunday, October 27, 2002
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F2 The Pantagraph Sunday, October 27, 2002 www.pantagraph.com European farms Editor: This is the first of two columns examining challenges facing European agriculture Scrubbed by a morning rainstorm, the manor house of Richard Schubert now sparkles in the afternoon sunshine of a perfect October Saturday Built in the 1880s, the elegant mansion remains rooted in Mecklenburg's sandy plain despite a century of German political and agricultural turmoil. Less than a generation ago, before the 1989 faU of the Berlin Wall and the rotted collapse of collectivized Soviet agriculture, the expansive home housed 18 families, nearly everyone in the farming village of Solzow, 60 miles south of the Baltic Sea. Many labored in huge fields of barley, wheat and potatoes. Halloween SCRIPPS HOWARD NEWS SERVICE A National Retail Federation survey has found that households will spend about $44 each on Halloween this year. What may be a fright night to some is a delight to retailers, who rate Halloween one of their best selling seasons. Some families will purchase less, but this year, Kim Turner and her husband, Cooper, of Memphis, Term., will spend much more than that on costumes, decorations for an adult party and goodies for trick-or-treaters. "We'll spend about $300 on Halloween, not counting candy for the neighborhood kids and pumpkins for the porch," said Kim, 32. The Turners have no children but spend more than the national average each year, even when they don't host the party. "This year's a little special, but between the two of us, we spend $50 to $100 on costumes," Turner said. ;In 2001, households spent about $45, the retail group said. Halloween sales have leveled off after a steady climb for several years, said spokesman Scott Krugman. Consumers are projected to 3pend $6.9 billion on Halloween, DEGREE FROMF1 ;! He spends spare time working for Studer Farms at Roanoke, helping Schmidgall Auction Service of Eureka on weekends, assisting the Washburn ambulance squad and ref-efieeing high school basketball gajnes. Sjjawn Platz ITlatz, a 19-year-old Joliet Junior College sophomore, could join the grain industry or the fertilizerchemical business. Then again, the Cullom native could become a firefighter. He's experienced in all fields. 2'i volunteer with the Cullom Fire Department. I kept safety rerords for FFA. I lost my dad (Son) in May. He was a firefight-eEfor 20 years," said the FFA'er, son of Dwight Fox Center X-ray technician Mary Ann Platz. Although he didn't live on a farm, Platz joined FFA because oC ; a cattle connection. He worked for George Halpin of Cullom, helping farm and showing the family's Milking Short-hQpns. Platz maintains a herd of five cows. He recently showed cattle at the World Dairy Expo irtMadison, Wis., where a heifer nabbed a junior championship. In FFA, he qualified for district creed speaking competition, judged dairy cattle on a national FFA team and participated, on three state parliamentary procedure teams. . "The speaking and parliamentary procedure has helped me" get jobs," said Platz, who works part-time for Hintszche FIRST STATE BANK OF BLOOMINGTON 204 NORTH PROSPECT, BLOOMINGTON (309) 662-0411 Trust Services also available for Westminster Village Residents! Si fill Alan Guebert This sun-washed day, however, Herr Schubert's courtly home hosts nine American journalists and a dozen local farm and business experts in a free-wheeling discussion of European and German farm issues. Chairing the discussion is Karl-Heinrich Niehoff, Schubert's neighbor. Niehoff arrived from the former West Germany in 1991 with a Ph.D. in agronomy and decades of professional farm management experience to rent a 3,700-acre costs take Scripps Howard News Service Halloween decorations for the home add to the spending consumers do for the holiday. an amount level with last year. In day became less of a children's 2000, consumers spent about $6.8 event and more of an adult holi- billion on Halloween. day Halloween sales began to "It's switched from one night surge in the mid-'90s as the holi- or one weekend and become Grain at Shorewood. "Keeping record books taught me responsibility" At JJC, Platz is active in the Post Secondary Agricultural Student Association. And he's joining the Tri-Point FFA alumni. Brett Hurliman Hurliman, an Eastern Illinois University sophomore studying biology, hopes to become a doctor. "I don't know whether I'll stay in pre-med. Maybe I'll do research with medicines. I've always liked science," said Hurliman, the son of farmer Fred and Goodwine Elevator employee Bonny Hurliman. During his FFA career, Hurliman raised pigs, worked in food preparation at Lake View Country Club in Loda and taught with a Teaching Agricultural Safety to Kids team. The latter proved his favorite project. "I really liked working with elementary students. They are ready to learn and listen," said Hurliman, 19. "As a freshman, I hated public speaking. Now I love it. I spoke to the Illinois legislature and our. school board. And I made our Model of Innovation presentation at National FFA Convention one year." Hurliman also served as Cissna Park FFA president and Section 10 reporter. At Eastern, he's a member of Phi Sigma Pi Fraternity and plays intermur-al volleyball. "My awards are a reflection on the chapter. We have such a strong chapter that is was an honor to serve as president," said Hurliman, who's joined the I - I - r Jp , Need assistance with Financial Management? See Karla Lohnes, CTFA at First State Bank for all your personal trust needs! are idyllic but face challenges farm from its new owner, Berlin, the capital of newly-unified Germany Mecklenburg was one of five East German states brought into free Germany after the Wall's fall. Niehoff 's farm is a cross section of local, national and global ag forces at work in Europe. Under the Soviet system, the farm required 140 employees to operate a small dairy herd, an ancient grain alcohol distillery and vast field operations. Today, only 35 work the farm, despite Niehoff 's expansion of the dairy to 490 cows and the alcohol plant to 300,000 liters per year. The land, however, is poor; it ranks a sickly 35 on a national scale where 100 is the most productive. Its chief crops are seed and starch potatoes, winter canola, rye for the alcohol plant that supplies 25 percent of the farm's overall profit wheat, barley and the dairy. a bite out Cissna Park FFA alumni chapter. KateWrage Wrage, a 19-year-old Culver-Stockton College sophomore, thinks of FFA daily. The communication skills she honed in the organization help her care for elderly nursing home patients. FFA also helped her to appreciate different lifestyles as she got to know a diverse group of members. Wrage won the Illinois FFA fruit production award and the prepared public speaking award last year. "This is what I wanted," said Wrage, of the American Degree. "It ties everything together. As a freshman, I looked at American Degree winners as if they were gods." Wrage found the award application process trying. She had many distractions at the Missouri college she attends, including nursing studies and volleyball season. She's attending on a volleyball scholarship. The middle hitter's team boasts a 14-4 record this year. So, she went home on weekends to fill out award paperwork. Her main project more than a half-acre of strawberries continues with help from her parents, Kurt and Lisa. "I'm getting more into my nursing studies. I work as a medical assistant at a Lincoln clinic in the summer," said Wrage. "I really appreciate what FFA's done for me. I'm thinking of possibly helping out an eighth grader who wants to rent out the strawberry patch for an FFA project." i f W v. .' i 4 M - J While the land is marginal, Niehoff estimates its present value at $1,550 to $2,000 per acre, because "Germany has not so much land like America" and many people will pay good money for bad land to farm or expand. Niehoff feels that pressure. In his 11 years of tenancy, Berlin has raised his rent three times. The initial lease expires in 2003, but the lanky farmer hopes to rent the farm through 2009 when German law permits its sale. Niehoff believes Berlin may delay selling it "because it is not possible for a farmer to pay for it. The price for farmland today is political price." The reference is to Europe's Common Agricultural Policy, a maze-like system of quotas, support prices and environmental policies that underpins nearly every aspect of its ag industry. of wallets more seasonal," Krugman said. Another reason for Halloween's growth is that it's all-inclusive, said Pati Multer, director of marketing for the Party City, stores, based in Rockaway, N.J. Halloween is their busiest time of the year, Multer said. "I don't think there's anyone who doesn't celebrate Halloween," she said, noting that the holiday is not dominated by one religion or group. "It's a fun holiday and it's easy for parents to be involved with their children." Halloween sales also encompass more than costumes and candy Home items, ranging from outdoor displays to indoor decor merchandise, accounted for about $586 million in sales, making Halloween the second-most decorated holiday behind Christmas. Yet, "the data in the survey validates the perception that Halloween has shifted from a one-night or one-weekend holiday into an autumn seasonal celebration, opening the promotional window for retailers through much of September and October," said Tom Holliday, president of the Retail Advertising and Marketing Association. Jay Scholl Public speaking already has proved rewarding for Scholl, a 19-year-old University of Illinois sophomore studying ag economics. He believes it will eventually lead him to become a tax or corporate attorney "As a freshman doing creed speaking, I could barely stand up in front of a class. To advance to national extemporaneous finals is the best thing FFA could do for me," said Scholl, who placed third in last year's national contest. Leadership also proved a plus for Scholl. He served as Tri-Valley Chapter president as well as Section 16 president. "It was very rewarding to help people. When I was section president, I met a kid at FFA camp who was very shy I gave him dates for a leadership conference. Later I saw him at state convention, and he had been elected section president," said the son of Jon and Joyce Scholl of Cooksville. Scholl's projects included raising swine, mowing a dozen lawns and growing specialty corn hybrids, including some than had not yet been commercially released. He gained access to the hybrids through his uncle, Mark Scholl, who worked Program flaw OiscOrig Pti Cr RptMppr Aapex Mortgage 30 yr Fix 5.75 1.550 $35275 5 6 15 yr Fix 4.88 30 $35275 5 5.51 30 yr Jumbo 6 20 $35275 5 6.26 1 yrARM 4.5 10 $35275 5 4.92 VA Loans Specialist, Jumbo Loans, Commercial Loans. IB) 3220 UthliPlmcmtRd., Ste. 103, Valrlco,FL 33594 UCIM05583 Countrywide Home Loans 30 yr Fix 15 yr Fix 6 5.5 4.5 4.875 00 00 00 00 $35300 $35300 $35300 $35300 31 yrARM 51 yrARM Wo one has more ways to qualify youl Call (A) 2501 E. 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APR calculations include all cosls pavable to obtain credit and P.M.I. (Private Mortgage Insurance) Lock LhhJ Days: 30-60. Refinance rates may be indicated wilh an "R" preceding the APR, Lender Info: 800-509-4636 Consumer Info: 8H8-SW-4636 hltp:pantaBraph.inler- But the future of the former feudal, Communist and now quasi-free farm is as unsteady as a newborn colt. Like all farmers in the 15-nation European Union, Niehoff faces three unavoidable challenges by 2006 and each threatens to erode his their standing in global ag markets. First, the EU will bring 10 more nations under its political umbrella after 2004. "Enlargement," as it is called, will deliver 7 million more farmers and 175 million more acres nearly the combined corn, soybean and wheat acres American ' farmers harvested in 2002 into an already overstaffed, overstuffed EU farm market. Enlargement leads to a second threat, Common Agricultural Policy reform. For the EU to absorb farming nations like Poland, the Czech Republic and Hungary, it must trim farmer benefits in its present $42-bil- PRESENCE FROM Fl The daughter of Jon and Joyce Scholl of Cooksville delivers a speech called "Not My Grandpa's Family Farm." She's serving as Section 16 secretary, and plans to run for a state FFA office. Dryer, the son of Rod and Carlotta of Downs, nabbed the state award in June. His FFA project began as a cattle show feed sales business. He then branched into selling frozen beef embryos . He attends Blackhawk College in Kewa-nee on a livestock judging scholarship. Lewis, attending the University of Illinois studying natural resources and environmental sciences, has studied ways to keep nitrogen fertilizer in the soil and out of water sources. She works with research partner Bryan Tomm of Delavan. The latest study involved running a 120-volt electrical current through soil to see its effect on decreasing nitrification, a process in which nitrate changes to nitrite making it more likely to leach from soil. Lewis found the electrical current killed bacteria that promote nitrification. She's the daughter of John and Carrol Lewis. for a seed company at the time. At the U of I, Scholl serves as Alpha Gamma Rho Fraternity secretary and on the agriculture college council. He's also active in Collegiate FFA, Collegiate Republicans and Pre-Law Club. Greg Niewold Niewold, a 20-year-old University of Illinois sophomore, didn't think he'd get the American Degree this year. He thought his interview went poorly. "They asked some really basic questions, like give an example of a legume crop, and my brain just froze. I grew food grade soybeans for my project," said Niewold. "They also asked me what was the best and worst thing for agriculture. I said technology. It's increased our yields significantly, but driven down prices in the process. I later found out half the judges on WALKER 4 . 120 S. Center, Ste. 200 Rl.OOMlNr.TON Fwi Down APR Progrt flaw 800-344-2739 Frontier Financial 1 5 yr Fix 30 yr Fix 31 yrARM 15 yr Jumbo "Cal today - Lowest rates B) 3U3 e. jasper sr., 309-664-2787 Integrity Mortgage 5 6.17 30yrFix 6.25 00 $50225 5 6.34 5 5.64 15 yr Fix 5.75 00 $50225 5 5.89 10 4.59 31 yrARM 4.875 00 $50225 5 4.86 10 4.99 51 yrARM 5.375 00 $50225 5 5.06 today. Our service and integrity makes the difference. (B) 1230 Candletrea Dr., Ste. A, Peoria, IL 61614 61704 1 S-Year s -J 1 1 11 irff.1V T'V Iff I 18 mi U iffl 1 'M it- 'liH il Mortgage Broker. (C) Bank, (U) S&L. lb) Cretin Union, O lion-per-year ag subsidy program. The current Common Agricultural Policy reform plan, says Niehoff, would likely clip his current farm income by 15 percent to 18 percent, "a huge effect." The third challenge is Europe's ugly, loud brawl over genetically modified crops. If the EU adopts proposed laws to label and trace all foods that contain miniscule amounts of genetically modified material, it will face a flat-out fight with the United States. As the day's sherry, pastries and discussions on Niehoff 's yet-unresolved problems dwindle, most Americans drift outside to again marvel at the manor's revived splendor. The sunshine, however, fades and a chilly evening descends. Alan Guebert is a syndicated columnist who writes weekly for The Pantagraph. He lives in Delavan. His e-mail address is Aguebert9worldnet.att.net. Lewis, Tomm and Lewis' brother, Grant, also qualified to compete in the agriscience fair. Other participants include Amy Betzelberger of Delavan and Kristina Grebner of Metamora. Prairie Central (Fairbury) and Cissna Park members will pick up their National Two-Star Chapter Awards for program excellence and community service. Two chapters will compete in judging contests. Prairie Central will field teams in ag mechanics, ag sales, dairy foods, dairy cattle evaluation, meats evaluation and forestry. Paxton-Buckley-Loda will compete in agronomy. Chad Pilcher, Section 17 FFA president, will serve as one of 15 official convention delegates representing Illinois members. The Paxton-Buck" ley-Loda FFA member was one. of four Illinois Star Farmer &. nalists last year. He's the sortof Mike and Mary Jo Pilcher -of Paxton. Four FFA'ers landed spots via audition in the National FFA Band and Chorus. Band members include Natalie Co-ers of Hartsburg-Emden on flute and Sarah Hills of Tri-Point (Cullom) on bass clarinet. Chorus members are Danielle Harvey and Timothy Spoor of Blue Ridge (Farmer City). the panel worked for ag technology firms." Niewold passed with flying colors. He becomes the second member of his family to earn the American Degree. His grandpa, Wayne, also holds the degree. He's studying to be a high school ag teacher, and recently became a lifetime Paxton-Buckley-Loda FFA alumni member. At U of I, the son of Jim and Robin Niewold is active in Collegiate FFA and Farmhouse Fraternity He's also a basketball team manager, a job he devotes about four hours daily three times every week. "FFA has caused me to want to take leadership positions on a nonstop basis. The responsibility I've learned will carry through my life. I've learned to get things done and do them in an orderly fashion," said Niewold. & NOVICK, P.Cl ' Clark A.. 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