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Former Kentucky tobacco growers learn new skills
COALTON, Ky. (AP) — Former tobacco farmers in northeastern Kentucky are getting some new skills that will likely help them save money.

The farmers are learning the basics of welding in a course at Ashland Community and Technical College. College spokesman John McGlone said the course is funded with tobacco buyout money - funds set aside to help with the transition to other income sources or to farm more efficiently.

Greenup County farmer Dusty Haight is glad he took the course. He’s built a trailer that he hauls behind his Chevy pickup.
It may not be much to look at, but he’s proud of it anyway.

The frame came from a derelict camper. He put it on an axle and rusty springs from a Model A Ford, welding every joint on it himself.
A little more than a month ago, Haight didn’t know much about welding. He and 11 other farmers are learning the basics.

The first four weeks of the eight-week course are devoted to basic techniques, said instructor Curtis Bowman. By the fifth week, the farmers were moving into more advanced topics, Bowman said.

Like Haight, many of them already have built utility trailers or other implements they’ll use on the farm.

They’re also looking forward to putting their new skills to work on equipment they already have.

Farming tools take a pounding, with dragging in the dirt to plant and harvest crops, Haight said.

“When we break something, we’ll be able to fix it ourselves,” he said. “I’ll save a lot of money.”

“There’s always something breaking down,” said Greg Graham of Greenup County.

Graham doesn’t see welding as a career in itself; he already has a job. He’s mainly interested in the applications around his place.
“There’s so much you can do with it,” he said.

The course has a major fringe benefit. Once they complete the course, the students will take home their own welders, worth around $600 each, Bowman said.

Autopsy: Ohio farmer bled to death in accident
JOHNSTOWN, Ohio (AP) — A farmer who became trapped in a feed mixer broke his left leg and pelvis and bled to death, an autopsy released last week concluded.

Trent Boudinot, 42, was doing maintenance work on the machine on March 2 when he became caught in the mixer’s auger, a rotating, screw-like device, authorities said.

An autopsy revealed that Boudinot’s death was caused by the severing of femoral arteries where his legs met his pelvis, said Mickey Lymon, an investigator with the Licking County coroner’s office.

It’s unclear how Boudinot ended up in the mixer at Heimerl Farms in Johnstown, about 20 miles northeast of Columbus. The sheriff’s office said Saturday the case remains under investigation.

Boudinot owned his own farm but also worked for the Heimerl farm, a large grain and livestock operation. He is survived by his wife, Tonia, and two children, Matthew, 17, and Adrian, 14.

Sales of E85 last year rose by 200 percent in Iowa
DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) — More Iowans filled up with E85 last year, with sales increasing nearly 200 percent.

Retailers in 2006 sold almost 2 million gallons of E85, a blend of 85 percent corn-based ethanol and 15 percent gasoline, according to the Iowa Renewable Fuels Assoc. That’s up from 668,595 gallons sold in 2005. The association based its findings on figures compiled by the Iowa Department of Revenue.

Monte Shaw, the association’s executive director, credited the increase to a doubling of pumps that can dispense E85 in Iowa.

Still, there are only 58 E85 pumps in the state, he said.
Installation of E85 pumps has been hampered by questions over the certification of pumps that can dispense the higher blend of ethanol. Also, some retailers believe there are not enough flexible fuel vehicles that can burn E85, Shaw said.

Iowa is the leading ethanol producing state with 26 ethanol refineries with the capacity to produce more than 1.7 billion gallons annually. Another 21 ethanol refineries are either under construction or expansion and will add 1.6 billion gallons of annual capacity when completed.

Bush issues disaster declaration for California
WASHINGTON (AP) — President George W. Bush is issuing a disaster declaration for California counties hurt by the January deep freeze that caused some $1.2 billion in crop losses, Sen. Barbara Boxer said.

The declaration will allow farmers affected by the freeze that wiped out citrus and other crops to apply for disaster unemployment insurance, commodities and other help.

Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, Boxer, Sen. Dianne Feinstein and congressional representatives had written to the White House to ask for the declaration. Administration officials confirmed to Boxer last week that it was being issued.

The five-night freeze was the most extensive the state had experienced since 1947, according to Boxer and Feinstein, and affected crops for 500 miles through the Sacramento and San

Joaquin valleys, the Central Coast and Southern California.
The cold snap also left 28,000 farm workers without work, according to the United Farm Workers, and ravaged the San Joaquin Valley’s agriculture-intensive economy. Since January, the California Office of Emergency Services has provided more than $2 million to local food banks and $1.75 million in emergency funds, the governor’s office said last week.

The freeze lowered the state’s orange harvest forecast to 37 million boxes - a 39 percent drop from last year.

Draft report: Farm runoff polluting Limberlost Creek
GENEVA, Ind. (AP) — A draft state report shows farm runoff is polluting Limberlost Creek, a vestige of the ancient Limberlost swamp that inspired author and naturalist Gene Stratton-Porter.

The report by consultant Tetra Tech Inc. shows the watershed is impaired primarily because of sediment and nutrient runoff from row crops, pastures and chemical and manure fertilizers.

More than 90 percent of the land use in the watershed is row crops, pasture and hay. Ten confined feeding operations house about 15,000 swine and 1.5 million chickens.

“This is not just a problem in this area,” said Dwain Michael, a farmer, Jay County High School biology teacher and a board member of Friends of the Limberlost. “Every watershed has this same problem.”

Storm water runoff from bare farm fields, construction sites and other areas turns waterways the color of coffee with cream.

“You can look at the color of the water and say that is soil eroding away,’” Michael said. “This watershed is not unique in that respect.”

This farm news was published in the March 21, 2007 issue of Farm World, serving Indiana, Ohio, Illinois, Kentucky, Michigan and Tennessee.