Hard works pays off as Nelson’s Reece Hunt lands hockey scholarship to Bemidji State University

first_imgThe future looks so bright for Nelson’s Reece Hunt that this elite female hockey player had better zip down to the nearest sunglass outlet to pick up a nice pair of shades.Hunt, who has been burning up the BC Hockey Female Midget AAA Hockey League with the Kootenay Wild this season, recently accepted a full-ride scholarship to NCAA Division I Bemidji State University in Minnesota beginning in 2019-20.“Bemidji is a great school so I was really excited,” Hunt told The Nelson Daily recently.“(Getting a hockey scholarship) has been my goal for some time.”Hunt will have a few more years to refine her skills as the Nelson resident is only in Grade 10.However, this season has been one for the archives for the Nelson Minor Hockey grad.In the fall of 2016, the 5’5” sniper was part of Team BC’s bronze medal squad at the at the National Women’s U18 Championship in Regina.The win tied the best ever finish at the tournament for a Team BC squad.Then it was on to the BC Female Midget AAA Hockey League where Hunt led the Wild in points, putting up impressive numbers to finish tied for second in league scoring with 16 goals and 15 assists in 29 games.However, the capper, ruling out of course the Wild win the BC Female title, would be inking a letter of intent with the Bemidji Beavers Women’s Team.“Bemidj has a great hockey program and good history in men’s and women’s hockey,” Hunt explained.“They have excellent coaches and facilities and also have brought in lots of really good players for next year and the year after.” Hunt said the nice “small town” setting at Bemidj also played into her decision.“People told me that I would know which one was the perfect fit me and this was the one,” she said.Now that the future has been settled, it’s back to the rink for Hunt and Company.The Wild, which have drastically improved this season, advanced in the BC Hockey Female Midget AAA Hockey League playoff last weekend in Trail by sweeping past Vancouver Island Seals 2-0.Hunt scored twice while adding an assist during the 4-1 opening win.She then collected an assist in the series clinching 3-2 win as Kelsey Patterson scored twice for the Wild.“We have a great team of defence, forwards and goalies as well as great coaches so has been a lot of fun,” said Hunt as the Wild now travel to Coquitlam this weekend to face the Greater Vancouver Comets.“I had the opportunity to play a little last year which made the season easier as a rookie.”Hunt said also being part of the Academy in Trail has allow the sister of American Hockey League Springfield Thunderbirds rookie Dryden Hunt and Nelson Leafs captain Sawyer Hunt to improve her skills as she combines education and hockey on a daily schedule.“This has been an awesome year all around and has been a lot of fun.”Once the Female League has concluded, Hunt will once again shoot for a spot on the BC Under 18 Team as tryouts commence in the spring.Best grab a pair of shades en route to the tryouts on Vancouver Island.“I will work hard to try and make the team again,” she said.“Last year as an underage was such a good learning experience so excited for this year if I make the team.”Will that be Oakley, Ray-Ban or Gucci?last_img read more

Friday’s QPR quiz

first_imgTest your Rangers knowledge. See how many of these five questions you can answer correctly…[wp-simple-survey-13]Click here for yesterday’s QPR quizClick here for Wednesday’s QPR quizClick here for Tuesday’s QPR quizClick here for Monday’s QPR quizFollow West London Sport on TwitterFind us on Facebooklast_img

South Africa: a building site

first_imgJustice MalalaFind out more about using MediaClubSouthAfrica.com materialEveryone seems to have a Confederations Cup story to tell since the spectacular opening ceremony on June 14. Here is mine.It isn’t really a Confed story, as it happened weeks before the actual tournament. But I hope it will, in its own small way, illuminate the football matches and the festivities.My wife and I went out for dinner a few weeks ago. We ended up eating at the Troyeville Hotel, a shambling but charming hotel in Kensington, just east of Johannesburg. It serves brilliant rustic Portuguese cuisine and very cold beer. The bar is unusual and fun, with an eclectic crowd. But that is not the point of the story.On leaving the hotel we followed our usual route home. But it was unusual in one way: there were building works everywhere. The Troyeville Hotel sits right behind the Ellis Park and the Johannesburg Stadium.Already among the best stadiums in South Africa, both have now been refurbished so extensively they are hardly recognisable. They look and feel like international institutions – huge, glitzy, sleek and modern.We made our way through the warren of roads that encircle Ellis Park, just below the notorious Hillbrow flatland area and Bertrams. The roads were narrowed down, with massive ditches on either side due to digging and other roadworks. As we pushed along and emerged on the Hillbrow side, near the towering cone-shaped building called Ponte City, crowned with its massive neon Vodacom advert, we realised we could not turn left onto the motorway and on home.The road was closed due to road works.We inched along into the heart of Hillbrow. Now, Hillbrow became renowned the world over for violence, drugs and other crimes in the 1990s as its buildings – formerly reserved for whites only – started to accommodate blacks. It became known as the epicenter of Johannesburg’s tragic descent into crime.I know Hillbrow. I lived right in the centre of the Hillbrow flatland – at the Highpoint building – when I first moved to Johannesburg to start a job as a journalist at the Star newspaper in the very early 1990s.I watched as Hillbrow became overrun by dirt and grime and as it nearly collapsed under the burden of maladministration and failure to deal with its myriad problems. However, there have been spectacular new developments over the past few years.Young entrepreneurs started moving in and buying old buildings and renovating them. A new breed of tenant – professional and dedicated to the neighbourhood – can be seen in many parts of the flatlands.Plus, authorities came to the party. Parks, roads and all sorts of other public facilities are constantly being done up.But back to my journey. As we inched along the dark road I realised that the neighbourhood whose streets I had walked so long ago is being transformed. There were road works all over. New, glitzy, shiny bus stops to accommodate the new bus rapid transit system were being built. They were gorgeous, and in design and structure reminded me of the London underground stations.Then we turned up into the heart of Hillbrow. The works I had noticed continued on until we reached one of my favourite sites in this town: the Old Fort building, now known as Constitution Hill, the seat of the highest court in the land.Then on into Braamfontein and around the Civic Centre. Here too the roads were narrowed as the building work continued. The whole thing was astounding.The truth is that many parts of South Africa today mirror what I saw in Hillbrow that dark night. The country is a building site. The N1 route from Johannesburg to Pretoria is clogged – and makes many motorists angry – because the three-lane highway is being widened to make more lanes and accommodate more cars. I was in Cape Town recently and the whole Sea Point area is being transformed by the Green Point Stadium, one of the venues for the 2010 Fifa World Cup.As I write this piece, new GDP figures are out and we are staring recession in the face. Yet one looks at all this work – plus the R787-billion (US$97.9-billion) that is still to be spent by government on infrastructure development – and it becomes clear that, like many parts of the world, economically we are be in a bad state. But we could have been in a far worse state.The 2010 World Cup and all the associated activity around our roads, buildings and other infrastructure are probably the single most important factor for our economy as the global economic meltdown bites. The stimulus brought on by this spending means we will not be as affected as many of our neighbours and will most likely recover far faster than many economies across the globe.From an economic perspective, the southern tip of Africa looks like the best place to be as the world faces its most turbulent economic times in decades. And it is all there for us to see: men and women in blue overalls building a country, brick by brick.Justice Malala is an award-winning former newspaper editor, and is now general manager of Avusa’s stable of 56 magazines. He writes weekly columns for The Times newspaper and Financial Mail magazine, as well as a monthly media and politics column for Empire magazine. He is the resident political analyst for independent television channel e.tv and has consulted extensively for financial institutions on South African political risk. Malala was also an executive producer on Hard Copy I and II, a ground-breaking television series on SABC 3. Hard Copy I won the Golden Horn Award for best television series. Malala’s work has been published internationally in the Wall Street Journal, The Guardian, Financial Times, The Independent, Forbes, Institutional Investor, The Age and The Observer.last_img read more

SA Airways to fly non-stop to Beijing

first_img“Introducing direct flights between China and South Africa will promote tourism and trade, not only to South Africa, but also to all the Southern African Development Community and other African countries,” said Mzimela. Star Alliance partner “SAA is most pleased to introduce non-stop flights to Beijing, China,” said airline chief executive Siza Mzimela in a statement this week. “This new route is in line with SAA’s strategy to expand its network to Asia, the fastest growing market in the world.” China and South Africa established a comprehensive strategic partnership in August last year, entering into bilateral agreements for cooperation on in infrastructure construction, transportation, water resources utilisation, housing, health and education. The inaugural flight is scheduled to leave Johannesburg’ OR Tambo International Airport on 31 January 2012, and is set to arrive in Beijing on 1 February. Travellers can already book for the flights through the SAA website and travel agents. “Air China will also be code-sharing on the flight between Johannesburg and Beijing. SAA in turn will code share with Air China to and from Shanghai, with further destinations in China to follow in the near future,” the statement added. SAA will operate the route non-stop three times a week with its Airbus A340-600 long-haul aircraft, while flyers will be able to make use of the Air China Lounges in Beijing. SAinfo reporterWould you like to use this article in your publication or on your website? See: Using SAinfo material “South Africa and neighbouring destinations such as Victoria Falls in Zimbabwe are already popular destinations for Chinese tourists.” The introduction of non-stop flights between the two destinations promises to facilitate business and leisure travel between the two countries. There are three terminals at the airport and SAA will operate in and out of terminal three, which is also the designated terminal for Star Alliance partners. SAA’s operations at the Beijing airport will be handled by Air China, which like SAA, also belongs to the Star Alliance. Beijing Capital International Airport is the main international airport serving Beijing, and is one of the busiest airports in the world. It is located 32 kilometres northeast of Beijing’s city centre. Comprehensive strategic partnership South African Airways (SAA) will start flying non-stop from Johannesburg to Beijing, China, from January next year, in line with the carrier’s strategy to expand its network to Asia. 19 December 2011last_img read more

Les Brodrick, South Africa’s WW2 Great Escape veteran, dies

first_imgLes Brodrick as a young Royal Air Force officer before his capture by the Nazis.The prison camp Stalag Luft III in German Silesia was built specifically to hold captured Allied airforce officers. In March 1944, 76 airmen daringly escaped from the camp after digging under the fences.The tunnel code-named Harry was shored up with stolen bed boards, had a railway track and carts for removing soil, and was ventilated with pipes made from milk-powder cans.A diagram showing the extent of tunnel Harry, running over 100 metres from under Hut 104 through the camp and out under the perimeter.(Images: Imperial War Museum)RELATED ARTICLES • SAAF: working in war and peace • Two centuries of South African military history • South African puppet company wins a Tony • Carrying the hopes of a nation • The history of South AfricaMary AlexanderHe survived being shot down over France, internment in a Nazi prison camp, escape, recapture, Hitler’s ordered mass murder of his comrades, the Long March to escape the advancing Soviet army – and a freak tsunami back home. Flight Lieutenant Les Brodrick, the last South African to make the legendary Great Escape of the Second World War, its “forgotten hero”, died peacefully in KwaZulu-Natal on 8 April. He was 91.On the night of 24 March 1944, 76 British officers imprisoned at the Nazi camp Stalag Luft III crawled to freedom through a 102-metre tunnel secretly excavated for nearly a year, over eight metres underground. On a moonless night during the coldest German winter in 30 years, Brodrick was the 52nd prisoner of war to emerge and scamper through the snow to hide in the nearby forest. The breakout was made famous by the classic 1953 film The Great Escape, starring Steve McQueen.Brodrick was born in south London on 19 May 1921. After the war he and his family emigrated to South Africa where he lived, working as an English teacher, for almost 60 years.At the age of 22 Brodrick was a pilot for the British Royal Air Force (RAF), running bombing raids over Germany and occupied Europe. In April 1943 his Lancaster bomber was hit by anti-aircraft fire over Stuttgart and, his plane limping back to the UK, hit again over occupied France. The plane crash-landed into a field near Amiens, killing four of the seven-man crew.Air officers’ prison campBrodrick was quickly captured and taken to Stalag Luft III prison camp in the German province of Lower Silesia, today part of southeastern Poland. There he soon became deeply involved in an ambitious, long-term escape project organised by another South African, the heroic but tragic RAF Squadron Leader Roger Bushell.Brodrick was imprisoned in a smaller compound of the larger prison camp, built specifically for British airforce officers. It also held captured airmen from Australia, Canada, Norway, Sweden, Greece, Poland, France, Belgium, Czechoslovakia, New Zealand – and South Africa. In its entirety, the vast camp covered 24 hectares and kept nearly 11 000 prisoners. And it was designed to keep those prisoners inside.Stalag Luft III was intentionally built on unstable, sandy soil difficult to tunnel through without the risk of collapse. Tunnelling was one of the few successful ways to escape prisoner-of-war camps, to get under the machine-gun watchtowers, electric fences, barbed wire and patrolling sentries. And a tunnel could free far more men than a dangerous dash through a prison fence.Useful too for preventing escape was the sand’s bright yellow colour, which made secretly disposing excavated tunnel soil difficult on the asphalt grey of the prison grounds. The Germans also embedded microphones into the ground to pick up any sound of digging. At 8.5 metres underground, the height of five tall men, the Great Escape tunnel was dug deep to escape detection.Soon after he arrived in the camp, Brodrick was recruited into the north compound’s escape committee, known in prisoner code as X-Committee. The secret group was put together by Roger Bushell who, as its mastermind, was given the code name Big X.The escape expertBushell, born in Springs east of Johannesburg and educated in the UK, was already a veteran of two bold escapes from Nazi camps. One required hiding in a goat pen, prostrate in the animal’s faeces, waiting for guards to move on. In the second he sawed through the floor boards of a moving prison train to drop between churning wheels onto the tracks below.Bushell was recaptured after both escapes. The second saw him fall into the hands of the Gestapo Nazi secret police, who in all likelihood tortured him, although he would never talk about it. Most accounts say he arrived at Stalag Luft III with a deep hatred of all Germans, and determined to make one, final and grand escape.It’s also said that around the time he began planning the Great Escape, Bushell received a letter from his fiancée telling him she was to marry another man. He’d been imprisoned or on the run for three years.In the German spring of 1943 Bushell put together an ambitious plan to dig not one, but three tunnels under and out of Stalag. His thinking was that, if one were discovered, the Nazi guards would find it inconceivable that more tunnels were still in progress. That would give them time to dig at least one robustly fortified and engineered tunnel – large and well-planned enough to allow more than 200 men to escape.In the British way, the tunnels were given the code names Tom, Dick and Harry.According to Australian journalist Paul Brickhill, a fellow prisoner who wrote a book about the escape after the war, when Bushell announced his plan to the X-Committee they were shocked at its extravagance. Bushell apparently roused them with these words:“Everyone here in this room is living on borrowed time. By rights we should all be dead.“In north compound we are concentrating our efforts on completing and escaping through one master tunnel. No private-enterprise tunnels allowed. Three bloody deep, bloody long tunnels will be dug – Tom, Dick and Harry. One will succeed.”Tom, Dick and HarryAs the plans progressed, Les Brodrick’s responsibility was as a “trapfuhrer”, guarding the secret entrance to Dick. Access to the tunnel was hidden under a drain in a washroom. Brodrick would open it for the diggers to enter, close it and then keep watch for guards as his comrades tunnelled underground.It was perhaps because it was an officers-only camp, filled with men with the benefit of an education, that the Great Escape’s tunnelling plans were both ambitious and ingenious. To prevent the easy collapse of the camp’s sandy yellow soil, wooden boards supporting prisoners’ bunk-bed mattresses were secretly filched to shore up the tunnel walls. Before the operation, every bed in the compound had 20 boards. At its end, they had an average of eight, and 90 double bunk-beds had vanished.The X-Committee came up with inventive ways of disposing of the yellow tunnel soil in the grounds of the camp, raking it to gardens and dumping it in the basement of the compound’s theatre. Prisoners would shuffle around with sand stuffed in long thin bags in their trousers, slowly dribbling the load onto the ground as they walked with a gait that gave them the nickname “penguins”.To get air into the tunnels, ventilation ducts were snaked together using empty cans of Klim, a milk powder provided by the Red Cross. The cans’ metal was also used to make small digging tools and candle holders. Underground candles were made by stealthily scooping fat off soup served in the mess hall, saving it in small tins, and lighting it with wicks made from the threads of old clothes.Tunnel Tom was the first to go. Bushell had decided to give the tunnel priority, but the extra activity triggered the underground microphones. The camp was searched, and in September 1943 the entrance to Tom was discovered and destroyed with explosives. It was the 98th escape tunnel found in the camp since the beginning of the war.The Germans were happy with their success, and their vigilance dropped. Bushell had been right: a German-speaking prisoner overheard guards saying that if such an enormous and well-constructed tunnel had been discovered and destroyed, there couldn’t possibly be another underway.Soon after, work on Brodrick’s tunnel Dick was stopped when the Germans began building a new prison compound over its planned exit. But the tunnel wasn’t abandoned: it continued to be a useful hiding place for wooden bed-boards and other filched material needed for the ongoing construction of the remaining tunnel, Harry.In March 1944 Harry was complete, and still undiscovered. It was an amazing piece of engineering for an entirely secret project. The tunnel was 102 metres long, dug 8.5 metres underground, and had electric light, a ventilation system and a railway track with carts for removing the soil.After the escape the Germans inventoried camp equipment and, from the amount of material missing, discovered the huge scale of the tunnel-construction project. Other than the 4 000 bed-boards and 90 bunk beds, the escape crew had stolen 192 bed covers, 161 pillow cases, 62 tables, 34 chairs, 76 benches, 1 212 bed bolsters, 1 370 beading battens, 1 219 knives, 478 spoons, 582 forks, 69 lamps, 246 water cans, 30 spades, 300 metres of electric wire, 180 metres of rope, 3 424 towels, 1 700 blankets – and more than 1 400 Klim cans.The escape begins – slowlyAfter waiting for a moonless night to ensure the cover of darkness, on 24 March 1944 the prisoners began to assemble in Hut 104, where the entrance to Harry was hidden under a moveable stove. Experienced escapers and those fluent in German were given places at the top of the escape roster. The rest drew lots. Bushell was given third place; Brodrick drew 52nd.They soon ran into trouble. On an exceptionally cold winter night with the ground covered in 15 centimetres of snow, the escape hatch was frozen shut. It was worked open and prisoner Johnny Bull broke through to the surface, only to discover that the exit was in the middle of the cleared perimeter patrolled by sentries, five metres short of the line of fir trees planned as cover. The prisoners would have to crawl through thick snow, only metres from a watchtower, to reach the protection of the forest.But the escape had to go ahead. Not only would another wait for a moonless night increase the chances of discovery, but all the prisoners’ meticulously forged travel documents were stamped with that day’s date.The escape began, but at a much slower rate than planned. First out was Harry Marshall, followed by Ernst Valenta, and then Bushell. Instead of the man a minute that could easily have freed all 200, the escape crawled to 12 men out every hour.From the night of the 24th to the morning of the 25th, the escape went on. Les Brodrick was the 52nd to emerge. After making it into the woods, he teamed up with Canadian Henry Birkland and British officer Denys Street, the three of them planning to rough it through the frigid forest southwards into Czechoslovakia and freedom.Back at the tunnel, the 77th man stumbled out of the hole into the path of a patrolling sentry. The whistle sounded, the alarm went up, and the Great Escape was over.Capture and reprisalsOf the 76 men who escaped, only three made it home. The other 73 were quickly rounded up, many at the local railway station where their clear unfamiliarity with their surroundings made them stand out to watchful Germans.Bushell and Bernard Scheidhauer, the fourth man out, were the first to be captured. They’d managed to board a train and had reached as far as Saarbrucken in eastern Germany, tantalisingly close to the French border, when police inspected their papers and discovered they were forged.Bushell fell back into Gestapo hands. On 29 March 1944 he and and Scheidhauer were put in a Gestapo car, to be taken to a handover to the “relevant authorities”. Some 40 kilometres into the trip the car stopped, the prisoners were told to relieve themselves and, while the stood at the side of the road with their backs turned to their captors, shot in the neck. Three days after his Great Escape, Bushell was dead. He was 34.Brodrick, meanwhile, had made it some way through the forest with Birkland and Street. The three came to a small cottage and, hoping for some respite from roughing it, knocked on the door. Inside were two men. In their broken German the Brodrick and his friends tried, later reports said, to “spin a yarn” to the men – try to explain why they, three strangers, were in the forest in the middle of a winter night not far from a prison-of-war camp. The men in the cottage were German soldiers, and Brodrick and his companions were arrested.Brodrick was taken to Gestapo headquarters in Gorlitz for interrogation, and then sent back to Stalag Lutz III.When he returned, Brodrick learned that 50 of the 76 men he had joined in the Great Escape had been murdered by the Gestapo. Bushell was dead, as too were Brodrick’s companions Birkland and Street.The Great Escape had a strong element of good British fun. It was daring, it was mischievous, its code names were corny, and there was a sense that other than the chance of being shot during escape, there was no desperate danger. Germany was a signatory to the Geneva Convention, which outlawed the execution of prisoners of war, escaped or not.But Adolf Hitler had other ideas. Enraged at the audacity of the escape, Hitler ordered that all 73 captured men be executed. His advisors were alarmed, and talked him down – to 50.In the film The Great Escape, the 50 are herded onto a hilltop and executed en masse. In reality the Gestapo, knowing they were committing war crimes, executed them in twos and threes, driving them to a remote location, getting them out of the vehicle, and then shooting them from behind to create the pretext that they were trying to escape.Many years later, Brodrick was asked if the Great Escape was worth it. “I suppose we did cause a certain amount of destruction,” he said. “But was it worth it? No, with 50 men dead, I don’t think so.”Three other South Africans were among the 50 murdered: Clement McGarr and Rupert Stevens, both 25, and 24-year-old Johannes Gouws, a Free State farmer’s son who just wanted to fly. After the war, the murder of the 50 was included in the charges against Gestapo officers in the crimes tried at Nuremberg.The Long March and homeBrodrick remained imprisoned at Stalag Luft III until just before the end of the war. As the Soviet army advanced from the east, Hitler ordered that all prisoner of war camps be emptied and their inmates force-marched westwards to Germany. Brodrick joined 80 000 other prisoners in the notorious Long March through a bitter winter from January to April 1945. It was later estimated that over 8 000 died.On 2 May 1945 Brodrick was among prisoners liberated by the British at Lubeck in northern Germany, and was flown back to the UK in a Lancaster bomber from his old squadron.Back home with his family, he became a teacher in Canvey Island, Essex. In 1953 the region was hit by a massive tsunami caused by freak weather conditions, with Canvey Island bearing the brunt. The family decided to leave, and in 1956 emigrated to Amanzimtoti in KwaZulu-Natal, soon moving to Scottburgh nearby. Brodrick became a South African, living here for almost 60 years.After his death his cousin John Fishlock told British newspapers Brodrick had become a forgotten hero because he moved to South Africa. “He was a remarkable man who deserves recognition,” he said. “He never knew why he was spared the firing squad – it was simply luck of the draw. His son Duke was just six months old at the time and he used to say that Hitler must have heard about that and spared him.”Only two survivors of the Great Escape remain: 93-year-old Dick Churchill, who lives in the UK, and 99-year-old Paul Royle of Perth, Australia.Les Brodrick leaves behind his wife, Theresa, 92, his sons Roy, 67, and Duke, 70, and two grandchildren.last_img read more

Brand South Africa welcomes the strengthening of the rand

first_imgJohannesburg, Tuesday 23 February 2016 – Brand South Africa has noted and welcomes the strengthening of South Africa’s currency.• Download press releaseThe strengthening of the rand attests to the improvement in market sentiment towards South Africa.The strengthening of the rand also follows proactive engagements between government and business in recent weeks to develop cohesive programmes to stabilise South Africa’s economic situation. We salute these initiatives.Brand South Africa looks forward to the 2016 Budget Address to be presented in Parliament by Minister of Finance Pravin Gordhan on Wednesday 24 February 2016 at 14h00.Follow Minister Pravin Gordhan’s 2016 Address on Wednesday 24 February 2016 on #Budget2016For more information or to set up interviews, please contact:Tsabeng NthiteTel: +27 11 712 5061Mobile: +27 (0) 76 371 6810Email: tsabengn@brandsouthafrica.comlast_img read more

Plenty to see and do at the Review

first_imgShare Facebook Twitter Google + LinkedIn Pinterest Farmers and producers can gain a sharper edge and glean cutting-edge ideas from experts from the College of Food, Agricultural, and Environmental Sciences at The Ohio State University during this year’s Farm Science Review.The FSR will again emphasize the best agricultural research, resources, information and access for farmers, said Chuck Gamble, who manages the show. Last year, the FSR offered 180 educational presentations and opportunities presented by Ohio State University Extension educators, specialists and faculty, as well as Purdue University educators.The event is all about learning new tips, techniques and information to help producers increase their farm operation’s bottom line, Gamble said.“As we encounter challenging economic times, it becomes even more important for farmers and producers to find the best information for their farm operations to remain solvent and to thrive,” he said. “We farmers have to operate as smart as we can in a challenging economy.“Attending Farm Science Review can help farmers align their farm operations with better, smarter decisions.”Following the theme, “Sharp ideas, sharp equipment and sharp results,” some of the issues participants can expect to learn more about include the agriculture economy, grain markets, land values and cash rents, Gamble said.“Because we’ve had a good planting season so far, it will likely lead to lower prices — that’s the challenge growers are facing right now,” he said. “Lower grain prices are causing farmers to seek ways to lower costs, improve efficiencies and to improve marketing.“OSU Extension agricultural economists will be talking about what farmers should expect and also looking at the impact of U.S. Department of Agriculture commodity programs and crop insurance.”The FSR will also offer information on water quality and how producers and growers can comply with new Ohio laws in that area, Gamble said.These issues are just a sampling of the topics participants can expect to learn about during the three-day farm trade show that annually draws more than 130,000 farmers, growers, producers and agricultural enthusiasts from across the U.S. and Canada.The FSR now in its 53rd year, is nationally known as Ohio’s premier agricultural event, Gamble said.Sponsored by CFAES, the Review features educational workshops, presentations, demonstrations and educational opportunities delivered by experts from OSU Extension and the Ohio Agricultural Research and Development Center.Participants can peruse 4,000 product lines from 620 commercial exhibitors and capitalize on educational opportunities from Ohio State and Purdue specialists.Other Review highlights include:Plot demonstrations by members of the OSU Extension Agronomic Crops Team on corn, soybean, cover crops and bio-energy crops in plots established at the eastern edge of the Review exhibit area. The plots are just outside Gate C near the main entrance gate.Daily field demonstrations in the fields north of Interstate 70. “We should have very robust field demonstrations,” Gamble said. A comprehensive demonstration of an unmanned aerial system for real-time crop surveillance. Used as another tool in the farmer’s precision agriculture toolbox, the drones can be used to provide useful local site-specific data including crop scouting and geo-referencing. This allows growers to monitor pesticides dispersion and fertilizer usage and to monitor crop health parameters including soil moisture.“This year will be the most concerted effort we’ve had in terms of offering information on drones, as they are even more important for farmers now,” Gamble said. “The Ohio-Indiana UAS Complex and Test Center is assisting with obtaining the Certificates of Authorization (COA) to fly drones for the demonstrations.“We will have up to five companies that offer drone technology that will participate in the demonstrations. We will also transmit video from the drones on a large monitor for participants to view. That industry is ready to take off and we are aligned for the most robust demonstrations.”Gwynne Conservation Area.Called “the Gwynne” for short, the site’s 67 acres of prairie, woods and waters showcase a range of conservation practices year-round and, during the FSR, will host dozens of talks and exhibits on trees, ponds, wildlife and similar topics.Visiting the Gwynne and attending the talks is included with admission. Free shuttle wagon rides are available to and from the Gwynne.“The intent is that landowners interested in conservation practices can see them here ‘on the land’ and decide if they’re a good fit for their property,” said Kathy Smith, organizer of this year’s Gwynne activities during the Review and forestry program coordinator in the College of Food, Agricultural, and Environmental Sciences at The Ohio State University. The college is the FSR’s sponsor.Those practices include planting trees, managing ponds, managing wildlife, and simply getting to know the plants, birds, mammals and more that call Ohio home. Talks in the Gwynne, given by CFAES experts and others, will cover such topics as deer exclusion fences; tree identification; pond management, especially aerating the water and controlling aquatic vegetation; and the environmental impacts of shale oil and gas drilling. Find a complete list of topics, times and speakers at go.osu.edu/FSRgwynne2015.In the relative calm of the Gwynne, breezes blow through big bluestem prairie grass, bluebirds perch on nest boxes, bluegills dimple the surface of ponds, and Deer Creek burbles beneath tall trees.“As a forester, I’m happy to show people how planting small seedlings eventually leads to large trees,” Smith said. “This is demonstrated in many of our tree planting areas but especially in the hardwood and walnut plantings along Deer Creek.“Those are some of my favorite places on the property. Gotta love the shade!”In the big picture, Smith said, good conservation is a fit with good farming.“From a forestry perspective, for example, a healthy woodland can provide an income for the farm that can help promote other conservation practices,” she said. “Trees are an agricultural crop. They just have a longer rotation than corn and soybeans.”Question the authorities at the Farm Science ReviewWhether it’s questions about how this summer’s record flooding will impact grain prices or whether drones can be used legally to scout agriculture fields, the answers to these and more will be available from experts with the College of Food, Agricultural, and Environmental Sciences (CFAES) at The Ohio State University during Farm Science Review.In fact, 53 presentations will be offered by experts from Ohio State University Extension, the Ohio Agricultural Research and Development Center, Ohio State’s College of Veterinary Medicine and Purdue University during the Review’s “Question the Authorities” question-and-answer sessions offered daily at the three-day agricultural trade show, said Stan Ernst, an OSU Extension specialist who will moderate the sessions.“Question the Authorities” offers participants the opportunity to ask a range of general or technical questions related to their farm enterprise and offers an easy way for producers to interact with Ohio State and Purdue experts, Ernst said.“The presentations focus on business, economic and policy concerns as well as current topics that impact agriculture,” he said. “The sessions are a way to get farmers, growers, producers and others a chance to hear directly from university experts on topics that have a financial impact.”The presentations are broken up into 20-minute sessions, which allows the speakers enough time to get their message across and answer questions from the audience and then move to the next topic, Ernst said.“A goal of the program is to try to plant ideas and get people to be thinking about the issues that are coming down the pike and how they can impact their operations,” he said. “We want to connect farmers and producers with university experts so that they can not only pick up some management tips that can help them on their farm but to also plant ideas that will have them dig some more as they make their management decisions.”Some of the other “Question the Authorities” topics will include:• Managing your farm in an economic downturn.• Grain outlook.• Current veterinary concerns.• Food prices.• Farm economy and policy.• Drones in agriculture: Know the law.• Farmland prices and rental rates.• Profitable pricing for farm products.• Poultry health. public concern?• Growing beer (hops and barley) in Ohio.• Estate planning.• Managing farm labor.• Is the farm balance sheet in trouble?• Farming the bottom line with drones.• Crop budgets.• Business succession planning.• Controlling spread of disease outbreaks.More information can be found at fsr.osu.edu.last_img read more

Grain marketing in baseball terms

first_imgShare Facebook Twitter Google + LinkedIn Pinterest Corn continues its sideways trade since harvest. Some have suggested that a chart pattern may signal a small rally in what is still a long-term bear market. However, the rally may be limited to just a dime near term. Longer term weather will be the biggest factor.Reports indicate U.S. corn is competitive globally (which is good), but buyers are limited. There was some bearish news last week, reports say South American feed wheat works into the U.S. Southeastern feed markets. This could displace domestic corn usage and contribute to larger carryout, ultimately keeping a lid on prices.World stock levels are at record levels for corn, beans and wheat. This will ultimately keep prices stable until more is known about summer weather conditions in the Northern Hemisphere. Now is the time to identify your price goals and timing. Having your goals written down now helps reduce emotional decisions in the future. Many producers will remember 2012 prices with fondness, but 2015’s devastating market action crippled many farmers’ bottom lines. Producers had the chance to sell grain at profitable levels, but many waited too long either because they wanted to see what they would produce or for a further price increase that never happened.Market ActionTwo Calls ExpiredFriday 2/19/16 was March option expiration day. I had 2 different calls placed.5 months ago on 9/15/15 I had sold a 4.20 March call for 18.75 cents.2 months ago on 12/09/15 I sold a 3.90 March call for 8 cents.Both of those expired on Friday worthless because the price of March corn ($3.66) was below the strike prices I originally sold. This means I get to keep all of the premium but none of my grain is priced yet.Sold Three More CallsSince I think corn prices will continue to trade sideways, I sold another 3 additional calls. On Friday I sold:1 – May 3.70 call for 10 cents1 – July 3.80 call for 15.5 cents1 – Sep 4.00 call for 18.5 cents.This Means:If the market is below these prices at option expiration I keep the premium again, but haven’t traded any grain.If futures are above, then I have put a cap on the price I will trade the grain for at the strike prices, but I get to still keep the premium.In all three case I still have the opportunity to then “roll” the sales from May, July or Sep to Dec futures for additional spread carry profits of nearly 15 cents on average. Those Prices Don’t Look SpectacularOn the surface that may seem the case, but when ALL the premiums are added, prices look better:Add the premium I sold on Friday (.10, .155 & .185)Add the premium that expired on Friday above (.08 & .1875)Total Prices:3.70 + .10 + .08 = $3.88 May3.80 + .1875 + .155 = $4.1425 July4.00 + .185 = $4.185 SepAlso, in all three cases I still get to add the market carry spread (difference between current month and future month) to “roll” these sales to Dec futures. Right now the average for May, July and Sep spreads to the Dec futures is around 15 cents. That would mean my corn if sold would have an average at $4.20 futures for these 3 calls.Grain Marketing in Baseball TermsLast year the KC Royals led the league in the fewest strike outs — 15% less than any other team and 30% less than the league average as well as the NY Mets they faced in the World Series. The Royals dominated the series (4-1). Interestingly, they hit 30% fewer home runs during the regular season than the Mets and were in the bottom 25% of the league overall for home runs. Similarly the year before (2014), the Royals had the fewest strike outs AND home runs in the entire league when they made it to the World Series losing to San Francisco in Game 7.Too many farmers try to hit “home runs” with their grain marketing instead of trying to “just get on base.” Striking out is similar to leaving no chances open for opportunity. Getting on base means leaving room for many opportunities. Games aren’t won with just one good player hitting a home run. It takes the whole team, planning, discipline and execution.For example, I view selling calls like bunting. The options that expired on Friday helped “get me on base.” The options I then sold on Friday helped “advance the runners on base.” If prices remain steady (or even increase a little) the spread carry will drive the runs and score prices that look good for 2016 by today’s standard. As shown in the example above, if corn continues to trade around $3.80 throughout summer, my average sale on these contracts would drop from $4.20 to only about $4.15. While it’s not guaranteed (selling calls provides no floor protection for unpriced grain), it provides some limited downside protection, but no more than the value of the call I sell vs the price of corn on the day I make the sale.It’s important to note, these calls represent only about 25-30% of my expected production. I hope the market rallies because I would still have 50% of my 2016 crop to sell. But, I’m not going to just sit around waiting and hoping for a home run to win the game in the 9th inning. I’m going to take a lot of singles throughout the marketing year and hope it’s enough to help me win the game at the end of the season.In terms of the grain marketing calendar for the 2016 production, it’s the bottom of the 2nd inning and the heart of my batting order is up. I have my game plan in place and I’m ready to take advantage of opportunities in the market while capitalizing on other’s mistakes. I encourage farmers to hit singles when they can by getting their grain marketing plans organized now. Don’t wait until the 9th inning hoping for a home run that may not happen.Jon grew up raising corn and soybeans on a farm near Beatrice, NE. Upon graduation from The University of Nebraska in Lincoln, he became a grain merchandiser and has been trading corn, soybeans and other grains for the last 18 years, building relationships with end-users in the process. After successfully marketing his father’s grain and getting his MBA, 10 years ago he started helping farmer clients market their grain based upon his principals of farmer education, reducing risk, understanding storage potential and using basis strategy to maximize individual farm operation profits. A big believer in farmer education of futures trading, Jon writes a weekly commentary to farmers interested in learning more and growing their farm operations.Trading of futures, options, swaps and other derivatives is risky and is not suitable for all persons. All of these investment products are leveraged, and you can lose more than your initial deposit. Each investment product is offered only to and from jurisdictions where solicitation and sale are lawful, and in accordance with applicable laws and regulations in such jurisdiction. The information provided here should not be relied upon as a substitute for independent research before making your investment decisions. Superior Feed Ingredients, LLC is merely providing this information for your general information and the information does not take into account any particular individual’s investment objectives, financial situation, or needs. All investors should obtain advice based on their unique situation before making any investment decision. The contents of this communication and any attachments are for informational purposes only and under no circumstances should they be construed as an offer to buy or sell, or a solicitation to buy or sell any future, option, swap or other derivative. The sources for the information and any opinions in this communication are believed to be reliable, but Superior Feed Ingredients, LLC does not warrant or guarantee the accuracy of such information or opinions. Superior Feed Ingredients, LLC and its principals and employees may take positions different from any positions described in this communication. Past results are not necessarily indicative of future results. He can be contacted at jon@superiorfeed.com.last_img read more

Corn ethanol production has minimal effect on cropland use, study shows

first_imgShare Facebook Twitter Google + LinkedIn Pinterest Ethanol production has increased sharply in the United States in the past 10 years, leading to concerns about the expansion of demand for corn resulting in conversion of non-cropland to crop production and the environmental effects of this. However, a new study co-authored by a University of Illinois researcher shows that the overall effects of ethanol production on land-use have been minimal.The research, published in the American Journal of Agricultural Economics, looks at the effects of ethanol production capacity and crop prices on land use in the U. S. from 2007 to 2014.The increase in corn ethanol production has led to concerns that it would raise the price of corn and the demand for cropland; thus making it worthwhile to bring land that was not previously cultivated (such as grasslands) into production, says Madhu Khanna, a professor of agricultural and consumer economics at U of I.“Studies have simulated the crop price effects of producing 15 billion gallons of corn ethanol and shown that they could lead to large expansion in crop acres,” Khanna said. “We now have actual data on land-use change that has occurred since the ethanol expansion began in 2007 and can test whether the predictions of these models have held up. Interestingly, the raw data shows that although corn ethanol production more than doubled between 2007 and 2014, total cropland acres in 2014 were very similar to those in 2007 and the crop price index was lower in 2014 than in 2007.”Khanna and her co-authors, including Yijia Li, a graduate student at U of I and Ruiqing Miao from Auburn University, analyzed cropland data from the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s National Agricultural Statistics Service to explain the extent to which changes in cropland acres could be causally attributed to changes in crop prices and proximity to ethanol plants.“Establishment of an ethanol plant in a county can increase corn acres and total cropland acres by reducing grain transportation costs and increasing the net revenue from corn production, creating an incentive to plant more corn,” Khanna said. “Additionally, higher crop prices that accompany the expansion in ethanol production can also create incentives for increasing crop acres even in locations that do not have an ethanol plant in their vicinity.”Khanna adds that in examining the causes of changes in cropland acres that have taken place it is important to consider both of these effects. Previous studies have looked at one of the other, but not simultaneously at both.“Corn ethanol capacity went up from about 6 to 14 billion gallons between 2007 and 2014 and the number of plants doubled, from about 100 to about 200, so it’s a pretty dramatic increase,” Khanna said.There was also a sharp upturn in corn prices between 2008 and 2012, but by 2014 the prices were almost down to 2007 levels again. Khanna and her co-authors found that while crop prices had a greater effect than plant proximity, overall changes in land use were minimal over the seven years included in the study.And while the higher corn prices did lead to an 8.5% increase in corn production, most of that increase came from conversion of other crops rather than non-cropland.Total cropland increased by 2% between 2008 and 2012, so in the aggregate it was relatively small, Khanna said. “In fact, by 2014 a lot of the land which did convert into crops actually went back into non-crop, so the change in cropland, if you look at 2008 to 2014, was only by half a percent. We find that land use does respond to prices, but not by a lot.”Studies using satellite images of cropland to compare acres in 2008 and 2012 have suggested that there was a significant and irreversible increase in those acres, all attributed to corn ethanol. But a careful analysis of the data all the way to 2014 shows that the overall impact of corn ethanol production on increasing total crop acreage was very negligible.Moreover, the impact of crop price varied over time; it was a bit higher up to 2012 but then reverted almost back to previous levels in 2007-2008 by 2014 as crop prices dropped.“Our study shows that changes in land use should not be considered irreversible; as prices dropped after 2012, land reverted back to non-crop uses close to levels in 2007 and 2008,” Khanna said.The paper, “Effects of Ethanol Plant Proximity and Crop Prices on Land-Use Change in the United States,” was published in the American Journal of Agricultural Economics and is available online. Authors include Yijia Li and Madhu Khanna, Department of Agricultural and Consumer Economics in the College of Agricultural, Consumer and Environmental Sciences and the Center for Advanced Bioenergy and Bioproducts Innovation, University of Illinois, and Ruiqing Miao, Department of Agricultural Economics and Rural Sociology, Auburn University.last_img read more