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COL DCP contracts are due by Dec. 31

Producers who are interested in getting advance direct payments in December under the Direct and Counter-cyclical Program must sign their 2004 DCP contracts before the end of the year, says John Monson, Minnesota director of the Farm Service Agency.

The Direct and Counter-cyclical Program offers participating farmers direct cash payments based on acres and yields established for each farm. Producers can elect to receive their direct payments as a lump sum in October or as two partial payments -- an advance payment of up to 50 percent of the total and a final payment for the remainder, Monson said.

When electing two partial payments, Monson said, producers also select the month in which to receive the advance payment.

Wet distillers grain, stalks for heifers

Wet distillers grain and corn stalks can be used to feed growing dairy heifers, says a South Dakota State University specialist.

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"Wet distillers grains, an increasingly available local co-product, are an excellent source of nutrients for growing dairy heifers,'' said Alvaro Garcia, SDSU Extension dairy specialist. "The only concern is how to dilute their high energy and protein contents to avoid excessive weight gains.''

The solution is to blend with other feed, Garcia said. Locally available fibrous residues such as corn stalks and straws are not able to sustain adequate growth rates due to their low content in those nutrients.

"Combining wet distillers grains with such feedstocks results in blends that better match the growing heifer's nutrient requirements, resulting in more acceptable rates of gain.''

Farmers sometimes shy about marketing

Farmers are always willing to try and try again, except when it comes to marketing, says Betsy Jensen, North Central Technical College farm business management instructor in the East Grand Forks, Minn.

One mistake in marketing and many farmers are willing to be tossed out of the game, she said. If a call option you purchased expired worthless, that tool gets scratched off the roster.

If you forward contracted and prices went higher, throw that idea out of the game as well.

No farmer has ever sold 100 percent of their grain at the top of the market, Jensen said.

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What looks like a good or bad sale today might look entirely different in a few months.

Web site will soon test applicators

Farmers who need to be recertified for private pesticide applicator training can now do it in the comfort of their home, says Dave Schwartz, Meeker County (Minn.)Extension educator.

Dean Herzfeld, who coordinates the program at the University of Minnesota, has loaded all the materials on a web site that includes instructions, the manual and the test.

Herzfeld is in the process of updating the material and should have it ready by Jan. 1.

The Web site address is www.extension.umn.edu/pesticides/.

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