MN #Water Topic of USFRA Dialogue

Joanna Schroeder Leave a Comment

FR_MN Food Dialogues Header Image v2Water is a hot issue this year and makes it the perfect topic for the U.S. Farmers & Ranchers Alliance (USFRA). The organization is partnering with the Farm and Food Alliance of Minnesota to  host a Food Dialogues next week in Minneapolis called “A Celebration of Minnesota’s Waters.

We’re addressing this as a celebration of water but also working to try to communicate to a new audience,” said USFRA CEO Randy Krotz. “We’re really focused on young people this time.”

Krotz says they feel there is a real need to communicate with high school and college age people because each generation becomes a little further removed from food production. “They’re very distant from agriculture but they have more interest in how they’re food was grown and raised than they ever have,” he said.

Water issues may vary from one region of the country to another, but Krotz says whatever they are, it’s important that farmers are part of the conversation to educate the rest of the public about “the incredible strides that agriculture has made in the area of sustainability and water quality over the past several decades.”

A Celebration of Minnesota’s Waters” will be held July 26 from 2:00-4:00 pm with registration and networking beginning at 1:00 pm at the Weisman Art Museum in Minneapolis.

Learn more in this interview: Interview with Randy Krotz, USFRA

Agribusiness, Audio, Education, USFRA, water

NACD & NRCS Award $2M for Urban Ag Projects

Joanna Schroeder Leave a Comment

As urban agriculture gains momentum in tandem with the movement of knowing where your food comes from, the National Association of Conservation Districts (NACD) in partnership with USDA’s Natural Resource Conservation Service (NRCS) have awarded $2 million in funds to 42 conservation districts for urban ag and conservation projects.  The goal of the initiative is to help conservation districts and their partners provide technical assistance for ag conversation in areas where the land is predominately urban or urbanizing, especially in underserved communities.

NACD_Logo_200NACD and the conservation districts we represent work on a scale that no other conservation organization or coalition does,” NACD President Lee McDaniel, who is in his second and final year as president of NACD, told an audience of conservation leaders in Minneapolis on Sunday. “We have the reach we need to engage the 98 percent of folks who don’t necessarily produce our fuel, fiber, and food, but still can make a sizable and positive difference on the landscape. With today’s announcement, NACD is broadening its base and the base of support for conservation in this country. We are going to reward, support, and encourage conservation implemented on every landscape.

The 2016 grants will help urban farmers, community gardens, other local agricultural partnerships implement conservation practices that support local food production, provide opportunities for education and stewardship, and protect natural resources.

Jason Weller, chief of NRCS and longtime champion of voluntary and incentive-based conservation said of the announcement, “I commend Lee for his leadership and vision, and for emphasizing the importance of urban conservation and urban agriculture. NACD and NRCS are focused on broadening our reach through more partnerships with communities across the country. Awarding this funding is an important step that NACD, state associations, and individual conservation districts are taking along with NRCS – a step that I’m very proud to support.

Click here for a full list of the 42 award winners and their projects.

Agribusiness, Conservation, Food, Urban Farming

Republicans Release Ag, Energy, Environmental Platform

Kelly Marshall Leave a Comment

GOP PlatformThe GOP has published its 2016 Party Platform; Democrats will release theirs next week.  The document can be seen here, with Agriculture, Energy and Environmental issues on pages 17-22.  For those who’d rather not wade through, the American Soybean Association has provided a quick synopsis of topics related to agriculture.

Trade – The document offers language about the importance of agricultural trade, expanding exports and science-based standards for food and ag.  The platform opposes approval of TPP during the lame-duck session of Congress.

Government Regulation – The platform expresses concern about overregulation and its impact on competitiveness.  It specifically opposes WOTUS, the practice of making meat production more expensive, and the impact of Endangered Species Act designation.  It also includes a proposal to convert the EPA into a bipartisan commission.

Conservation – You’ll find language acknowledging farmers as good stewards of the land and recognizes the benefits of voluntary conservation programs and modern farming practices to achieve conservation goals.

Ag Data – The platform includes language supporting the privacy and security of farmer-owned data.

Biofuels – Little is noted about biofuels, with only a passing reference about private investment.  There is no specific mention of RFS or biodiesel.  It calls for an “all-of-the-above” energy strategy, but also supports elimination of energy subsidies.

GMO labeling – The GOP is opposed to mandatory GMO labeling.

Crop Insurance & Farm Income Safety Net – This section is ambiguous, noting only the government’s role (or lack thereof) to help farmers manage risk.

Nutrition Programs –The platform calls for a separation of nutrition from the farm bill and also wishes to separate SNAP from the USDA.

Stay tuned for a similar summary of the Democratic platform when it is released.

Government, Policy

.@NationalCorn New Leaders Conclude 2016 Program

Kelly Marshall Leave a Comment

NCGA New LeadersThis week has been a busy one for members of the National Corn Growers Association New Leaders Program.  Twenty-six farmers from 15 states have spent the last five days learning to be strong advocates for agriculture.  This wraps up a program that began with sessions in DesMoines in January, continued at Commodity Classic and included webinars in April through July.

“It was great to meet many of those participating in our events this week, like the action team meetings, our Corn Congress policy sessions, and visits to their members of Congress,” said NCGA Chairman Martin Barbre. “These new leaders are the future of our organization, and it was inspiring to see the passion and energy these men and women bring into everything they do. We’re also very grateful for DuPont’s support in this growing effort.”

The week included a stop in Wilmington, Delaware to learn the history of DuPont, a sponsor of the program, and the ongoing work the company is doing in the area of crop protection.  Participants also spent time in D.C., attending policy meetings and talking with their Congress members about the GMO labeling vote, the EPA’s draft risk assessment of atrazine, and TPP.

This year’s overall program participants were: Jonathan and Bridget Hitchcock, Georgia; Casey and Teresa Schlichting, Iowa; Matthew DeSutter, Illinois; Sam and Stephanie Halcomb, Kentucky; Corey Pace, Kentucky; Greg Dell, Maryland; Brent and Bryce Krohn, Minnesota; Ben Storm, Minnesota; Brian Martin, Missouri; Phillip and Lindsay Sloop, North Carolina; Ben Bakko, North Dakota; Deb Gangawish, Nebraska; Joel and Jenna McAfee, Nebraska; Tyler and Whitni Drewes, Ohio; Rob Holman, Tennessee; Bert and Brittney Ring, Texas; Robert Baylor, Virginia; and Trent Jones, Virginia.

Ag Day, NCGA

Dow and DuPont Stockholders Approve Merger

Kelly Marshall Leave a Comment

Photo credit

Photo credit Dow/DuPont

The Dow Chemcial Company and DuPont each held a special meeting of stockholders this week– meetings that resulted in approval to move forward with the merger.  This is a key milestone for the two companies and now plans are going ahead to purse three, highly focused, independent companies.  Finalization of the merger is expected to wrap up by the end of 2016, dependent upon closing conditions and receipt of regulatory approvals.

“The overwhelming support of Dow and DuPont stockholders to approve this historic merger transaction is a clear testament to the compelling value proposition and enhanced shareholder value that DowDuPont represents,” Andrew N. Liveris, Dow’s chairman and CEO offers. “Today is a pivotal step toward bringing together these two iconic enterprises, and to the subsequent intended separation into three leading, independent technology and innovation-based science companies that will

“We are pleased to receive such strong support from our stockholders, which represents an essential milestone in the combination of our two companies and our intention to subsequently separate into three independent companies,” says Ed Breen, chair and CEO of DuPont.  “We are now focused on important next steps toward completing the merger transaction, including working with regulators in the appropriate jurisdictions. We are confident that this merger will create long-term, sustainable value for stockholders and superior solutions and choices for customers.”

DuPont and Dow intend that, following the consummation of the merger, the combined company will pursue the separation of the combined company’s Agriculture business, Material Science business and Specialty Products business into three independent, publicly traded companies, subject to approval by the DowDuPont board and receipt of any required regulatory approvals.

The intended subsequent separation into three independent, publicly traded companies is expected to be consummated as soon as practicable following the merger closing, but consummation of the separations is not expected to exceed 18-24 months after the merger closing.

Voting results will be filed and you can view them at and, respectively, after certification by each company’s inspector of elections.

A separate website dedicated to information about the merger is also available.

Agribusiness, Company Announcement, Dow AgroSciences, Dupont Crop Protection, Dupont Pioneer

Michelin Unveils Two New Tractor Tire Sizes

Kelly Marshall Leave a Comment

BibLoad Hard Surface_1At the Ag in Motion Show in Western Canada, MICHELIN will unveil two new low-pressure tires.  Designed to improve yield by minimizing soil compassion, these tire fitments operate at a lower pressure than standard radial tires.  Attendees of the event will witness the first demonstration of how the tires with MICHELINER Ultraflex VF Technology can carry the same load as a standard tire with up to 40 percent lower air pressure, or up to 40 percent heavier loads with the same pressure.

The demonstration will show a prepared compaction pit 16 feet long by 24 feet wide and 3 feet deep. The pit is constructed with layers of soil separated by layers of limestone, with a cross-section exposed to clearly show the rut depth of the tires and the effects of compaction at different pressures. A 173-HP Apache Sprayer AS1020 equipped with MICHELIN R SPRAYBIBR VF380/90R46 singles on both sides of the rear of the machine was driven onto the pit with the tires pressurized at VF pressure on one side and as a standard radial tire on the opposite side. 

In a second static demonstration using a Challenger MT965E (550-HP Engine) 4WD tractor equipped with CTIS (central tire inflation system) from PTG/Precision Inflation, LLC, the footprints will showcase differences in tire footprints from road to field. CTIS enables a tractor operator to change pressures on the fly for optimum performance. For example, CTIS allows for an easy reduction in pressures when changing from road conditions to field conditions. The tire pressure on this Challenger’s eight tires can be adjusted with the touch of a button on the tractor’s control panel. CTIS is widely used in Europe and has been increasingly used in North America to minimize compaction and increase traction, fuel economy and tire performance.

“This is a great opportunity for us to showcase why farmers should think about their tires and what loads they can carry, because that makes a big difference to their equipment performance, their soil, their crop yield and ultimately their bottom lines. MICHELIN Ultraflex Technology is one of the best investments they can make to help maximize equipment efficiency and
increase crop yields,” said Mike Pantaleo, customer engineering support for Michelin Agriculture tires. “We are excited to have the chance to conduct demonstrations to provide farmers with a chance to see with their own eyes the sharp contrast of a side-by-side comparison of our MICHELIN Ultraflex Technology.”

Michelin is also introducing three new tire sizes, available in North America.  The new sizes will provide a high load capacity and low level of compassion.  They were designed to promote soil protection, fuel savings and lover service life.

For more information on MICHELIN Ultraflex tires, visit or contact your local Michelin AgricultureTire dealer.

Agribusiness, Equipment

Web Tools Saves Strawberry Growers Money

Kelly Marshall Leave a Comment

AgroClimateThe University of Florida/IFAS recently developed a web tool that helped the state’s strawberry growers save $1.7 million a year.  That success has lead to the tool being brought to other states, including Maryland, Georgia, South Carolina and California.

Researchers have found a way to simulate leaf wetness in strawberry plants.  This allows scientist to be more precise when suggesting the best times to spray crops for disease protection.  The model shows promise in recent trials, an important thing for Florida’s $300 million dollar strawberry crop, and the U.S. in general, whose strawberry production is valued at $2.9 billion.

Before the development of this system strawberry farmers usually sprayed crops weekly from November to March.  This lead to unnecessary waste of product and fungicide resistance, according to Natalia Peres, an associate professor of plant pathology.  Now scientists calculate disease risk every 15 minutes, based on data from weather stations, and can tell farmers when to use chemical treatments.  The process is considered more reliable than using sensors, since those sometimes fail.

Strawberry growers can access the system at AgroClimate, or use the website to sign up for email or text alerts.

Agribusiness, technology

NCGA Corn Board Members Elected

Kelly Marshall Leave a Comment

NCGA-LogoThe National Corn Growers Association‘s Corn Congress elected five new farmers to serve on the Corn Board this week.  The new board members will begin their terms on October 1; the start of the NCGA’s fiscal year.  New members are: Chris Edgington of Iowa, Don Glenn of Alabama, Tom Haag of Minnesota and John Linder of Ohio. A current board member, Kevin Ross of Iowa, was re-elected.

“Again this year, we had an impressive slate of candidates for the Corn Board, growers who already have an extensive history of service to American agriculture,” NCGA Chairman Martin Barbre, who chairs the nominating committee, said. “It inspires me to see such an interest on the part of these growers, particularly at this time when our industry faces so many challenges. I am certain they will be a valuable addition to the board and look forward to see what they do for corn farmers I the years to come.”

Chris Edgington has been serving on NCGA’s Trade Policy and Biotechnology Action, as well as acting as chair for the Iowa Corn Promotion Board.

Don Glenn has previously chaired NCGA’s Production and Stewardship Action Team and Mycotoxin Task Force, and has also served on the Ethanol Committee.  He has also been a president of the Alabama Soybean and Corn Association.

Tom Haag is a graduate of the Advanced Leadership Program and a member of the NCGA Research and Business Development Action Team.  Previously Haag has chaired the Grower Services Action Team and been a past president of the Minnesota Corn Growers Association.

John Linder has worked as chair of the Ohio Corn Marketing Program and been a member of the Ag Credit Co-op Board of Directors.  He now serves as chair of the NCGA Trade Policy and Biotechnology Action Team.

Current Corn Board member, Kevin Ross, is the board liaison to the Trade Policy and Biotechnology Action Team and the 2017 Commodity Classic Joint Venture Committee co-chair.  He has previously chaired the Finance Committee and is a past president of the Iowa Corn Growers Association.

The NCGA Corn Board is responsible for directing policy and day-to-day operations.  They supervise NCGA activities and affairs and implement NCGA policy.  Members also act as spokespeople for the organization.

Ag Group, NCGA

NREC Hosts 2016 Field Days

Kelly Marshall Leave a Comment

Illinois NRECThe Illinois Nutrient Research and Education Council is hosting three field days, each focusing on a different research project.

The July 27th event will cover the Impact of Cover Crops on Water Quality and Nutrient Efficiency in Towanda, Illinois.  Presenters include Dr. Catherine O’Reilly, an Associate Professor at Illinois State University, and members of Dr. Shalamar Armstrong’s research team.  Registration is not required for this event.

A discussion of multifunctional buffers on marginal farmland will take place on August 18th at Urbana, Illinois, immediately following Agronomy Day. Dr. Sarah Taylor Lovell, Assistant Professor of Landscape Agroecology in the Department of Crop Sciences at University of Illinois, will give the presentation.  Registration is not required for this event either, and additional details may be found here.

The final field day is scheduled for August 19th at the Dudley Smith farm between Pana and Taylorville.  Dr. Cameron Pittelkow and Dr. Laura Christianson  from the Department of Crop Sciences, Dr. Bhattarai of Agriculture and Biological Engineering and Extension specialist Gary Letterly will offer information about balancing water quality and nutrient management for sustainable corn production.  To attend this event, please register here.

A flyer with times and locations of each event is available on the website.

Ag Group, Events

Is the Trump-Pence Republican Ticket Good for Ag?

Joanna Schroeder Leave a Comment

zp-nh1Our latest ZimmPoll asked the question, “What do you think about the Senate’s GMO Disclosure Bill?

The Senate has passed it’s version of the GMO Disclosure Bill followed by the House passing the National Bioengineered Food Disclosure Standard, and the President is expected to sign the bill into law soon. However, 40 percent of voters believe the legislation is bad for everyone.

Zimmie Poll Results

Here are the poll results:
Good for Ag – 10%
Good for consumers – 5%
Good for both – 25%
Bad for everyone – 40%
Other – 20%


Our new ZimmPoll is live and asks the question, Is the Trump-Pence Republican ticket good for agriculture and biofuels? During his campaigning Trump has been a vocal supporter of biofuels visiting an ethanol plant in Iowa last summer and has repeatedly said he could “be a farmer“. However, one-term Indiana Governor Mike Pence is being heralded by the ag industry as understanding and supporting many facets of agriculture from small farms to large agribusinesses.

Agribusiness, ZimmPoll