COL Combine, tractor fires are costly

Combine and tractor fires cause more than $20 million in property losses annually. Lost time and downed crops cost millions more.

Fires also cause 40 or 50 serious injuries annually, and occasionally a person is killed because of a farm machinery fire, says Cheryl Skjolass, University of Wisconsin-Extension ag safety specialist.

Being prepared for a fire starts with a fire extinguisher in the combine and tractor,'' she said. "If the machinery starts on fire, an extinguisher in your truck or back at the farmstead isn't going to help you in the field.''

Skjolass recommends carrying at least one fully charged 10-pound ABC dry chemical fire extinguisher in a combine. For a tractor, you need a 5-pound extinguisher. Mount one extinguisher in the operator's station and another unit where it can be reached from the ground.

Hog expansion plans should be moderate


Plans by hog producers to expand their operations should be kept at modest levels, says a Purdue University Extension marketing specialist.

"There are enough uncertainties surrounding this expansion phase of the hog production cycle to restrain producers from all-out expansion,'' said Chris Hurt. "There seem to be two questions on the minds of hog producers these days. The first is, how long will these profitable prices last? The second follows from the first: Should I expand?

Hurt said profitable prices will most likely be with the industry through the summer of 2005, or for another full year. The reasons include low feed prices, moderate hog production and strong meat demand.

ISU offers farm financial program

Iowa State University Extension offers a farm financial analysis program. The program offers one-on-one financial counseling, a computerized analysis of farm business records and referral to other Extension programs our outside services.

The program is for anyone who wants to get an accurate picture of his or her farm's financial situation and helps take the guesswork out of whether or not a change would increase profitability and improve cash flow.

For more information, call the Iowa Concern Hotline at 1-800-447-1985 or visit any Iowa Extension office.

End-of-year deadline for depreciation use


Landowners considering making capital improvements to their farming operations have until the end of 2004 to take advantage of bonus depreciation on their federal tax return.

Newly acquired eligible assets such as field drain tile must be put into service before Jan. 1 to qualify for the 50 percent bonus depreciation, says Bill Craig, with the University of Minnesota Extension Service.

Another important tax consideration is the Section 179 expensing deduction for first-year depreciation.

The Section 179 deduction increased from $25,000 in 2002 to $100,000.

Get chimney cleaned before winter

Anyone thinking about burning firewood this winter needs to have a professional inspection and clean the chimney, says Charlie Baier, Howard County (Iowa) Extension director.

Cleaning is not cheap but worth the money.

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