Food and Ag Leaders Call for Improved Sustainability

Kelly Marshall Leave a Comment

bipartisan-policyLeaders of food and agriculture companies joined the Bipartisan Policy Center (BPC) this week to release a new call to action on improving sustainable production.

“Food for Thought: A Call to Action on the Future of Sustainable Agriculture” notes that food producers are making important strides on improving sustainable production, but should continue to step up their commitments.

Leaders of DuPont, Elanco, Hormel Foods, Kellogg Company, and Land O’ Lakes, joined former agriculture secretary Dan Glickman in releasing the report today, outlining what each member company is doing to engage with consumers, invest in a more sustainable food supply, and what needs to happen to improve sustainability all along the production chain.

“It is clear that we need to focus more resources on finding sustainable ways to increase food production and move individuals from hunger to adequate nutrition,” said Jim Collins, Executive Vice President at DuPont. “We are committed to initiatives that increase collaboration, such as BPC’s CEO Council on Sustainability, so we can work together to help ensure people around the world have enough food to eat for generations to come.”

Watch the webcast here.

Ag Group, Food, sustainability

GROWMARK Recognizes Crop Specialists

Kelly Marshall Leave a Comment

Growmark_logoGROWMARK is recognizing the efforts of five crop specialists who have excelled at engaging farmers in using sustainable, best-management practices.  The GROWMARK Endure 4R Advocate award is given for working with farmers to increase their use of the 4R approach; applying fertilizers at the right source, right rate, right time and right place, and for encouraging growers to use a nitrogen monitoring program like N-WATCH.

This year’s winners are: Logan Haake, a precision ag manager at Legacy Farmers Cooperative, Rick Klevze  a Certified Crop Advisor at GROWMARK FS since 1994, Malcolm Stambaugh, crop specialists for Ag View FS, Jason Wesslund, an area manager for the eastern half of Heritage FS, and Chris Snip a CCA with AGRIS Co-operative.

“We are excited to recognize these crop specialists for their dedication to working with farmers on sustainable best management practices,” said Lance Ruppert, GROWMARK director of agronomy marketing. “We had a very deep pool of candidates who work diligently to improve water quality, manage nutrients sustainably, and engage in soil conservation practices. These initiatives are paramount to all of us throughout the GROWMARK and FS Systems,” he added.

The five crop specialists were nominated by their member companies. A selection committee comprised of individuals from the agriculture industry outside of the GROWMARK System served as judges. Winners will receive recognition for their achievement and an all-expense-paid trip with their spouse to attend the 2016 GROWMARK Annual Meeting and Agribusiness Symposium. This is the first year for the Endure 4R Advocate award and is part of the GROWMARK System sustainability initiative Endure.

Agribusiness, Award, Conservation, Growmark, Nutrient Management

Illinois Ag Highlights Progress Towards Nutrient Efficiency

Kelly Marshall Leave a Comment

Illinois NRECThe Illinois Nutrient Research & Education Council (NREC) has been working with public and private research organizations to help understand which management practices make the most effective use of nutrients and decrease environmental impacts.

Now the group has released their Annual Report for 2015.  The report highlights the research projects that took place and shares the projects that successfully maximize nutrient efficiency while minimizing negative side effects.  Projects fall into five main topics that align with the mission of the NREC.

Projects focus on: 1) Efficiency of nitrogen utilization as affected by rate, timing and source of N use, 2) Recovery, capture or treatment of N remaining in field after harvest, 3) Treatment of water after it leaves the field, 4) Education and outreach on nutrient management and NREC funded projects and 5) Fertility studies not directly related to water quality impacts.

In 2015 the total investment for the projects was $2.4 million.  You can read the report here.

Ag Group, Nitrogen, Nutrient Management, Research

Bayer/Monsanto – What Does It Mean For Ag?

Jamie Johansen Leave a Comment

New Holland ZimmPollOur latest ZimmPoll asked the question, “How concerned are you about feeding 9 billion by 2050?”

It is obvious people have strong opinions about this. Few are in the middle. However, a strong majority believe we should be taking this challenge very serious and agriculture has an opportunity with some pressure to do so in a sustainable way.

Here are the poll results:

  • Very concerned – 57%
  • Slightly concerned – 6%
  • Not concerned – 28%
  • Won’t ever reach 9 billion – 9%

Our new ZimmPoll is now live and asks the question, What would a Bayer Monsanto buyout mean for ag?

Bayer AG made a $62 billion bid to acquire Monsanto Company this month that was rejected by the board of the St. Louis-based agribusiness giant, but the door was left open for further negotiations. With ChemChina in the process of acquiring Syngenta, what do you think about the possibility of two major agricultural companies like Bayer and Monsanto becoming one?


SST Delivers Scouting Tools

Kelly Marshall Leave a Comment

SST SoftwareCrop scouting is changing– again.  Now SST Software is delivering a greater level of insight with their new SST Analytics platform.  With the new program agronomists and retailers can preform a regional analysis on the crops within their company.

“SST Analytics is continuing to develop into a holistic business intelligence (BI) tool that allows retail management to transform regional data within the company into actionable insights,” said Aaron McIntire, Product Manager for SST Analytics. “Crop scouting helps the precision ag community stay informed of field conditions. We are excited to release these tools to the market, so managers and agronomists can obtain the information needed to help them catch and diagnose problems on a larger scale before major losses occur.”

A report can show current season growth stage progression, soil conditions, crop heights and crop issues across the company’s entire dataset. Managers can use this information to help determine underlying information and better understand severity or density.

“The addition of scouting data in SST Analytics provides the insights needed to transform raw data into meaningful and useful information for business analysis purposes,” said Matt Waits, SST Software Chief Executive Officer. “The use of scouting datasets will help managers and agronomists make actionable decisions that could economically impact their growers and the company.”

Within a company, results can be narrowed to a single grower to include the number of days since a field was last scouted and the crop issues recorded. Managers can quantify scouting activity by user to analyze where users are scouting and what they are scouting. A comparison analysis between an individual’s scouting activity and other agronomists can also be conducted to evaluate operational productivity.

Information from SST Summit and Sirrus easily integrates into SST Analytics, making it easier for managers to maintain records and view reports in a centralized location. SST Analytics updates on a weekly basis, and users can choose reports to have automatically emailed to them.

Reports are now available. You can learn more about adding SST Analytics to your program by calling 888-377-5334.

Agribusiness, Scouting, Software

Bee Deaths Could Impact Economy

Kelly Marshall Leave a Comment

AAEAThe Agriculture & Applied Economics Association says the death of bees this past winter could affect the U.S. economy.   According to the USDA, 28 percent of bees did not make it through the winter season.  That number is up six percent from a year ago.  Since about 25 percent of the food we eat is pollinated by honey bees, the increase in deaths could have an effect on food prices.

Conversely the report also shows there are more honey bees alive now than there were 10 years ago when the concerns about bee loss first began.  The unanswered question is if the bee deaths are an anomaly or a long-term trend.

For those looking further for bee answers, Walter Thurman of North Carolina State University has been studying bee patterns and pollination for more than 10 years.  His work is available in the American Journal of Agricultural Economics.

Agribusiness, Bees, Honeybees

Study Shows Corn Exports Add $74.7 Billion to Economy

Kelly Marshall Leave a Comment

NCGA-Logo-3In 2014 the export sale of corn and corn products in the U.S. generated $74.7 billion.  The total rises to $82 billion when expanded to include all feed grain products, says a new report by Informa Economics.

Overall, corn exports increased the U.S. GDP by $29.8 billion, compared to what would have occurred without these exports.  Full-time jobs related directly or indirectly to corn exports total 332,787.  Feed grain exports increase the U.S GDP by $33 billion with related jobs coming in at 371,536.

“Corn – whether in the form of feed, ethanol, or meat and dairy – is a major driver of the U.S. farm economy. Exports impact not just farmers and ranchers, but the entire U.S. economy,” said National Corn Growers Association President Chip Bowling, a farmer from Newburg, Maryland. “That’s why it’s so important that farmers and ranchers have access to international markets, and why we need global trade agreements such as the Trans-Pacific Partnership that give us a chance to compete.”

The study, which was commissioned by the National Corn Growers Association (NCGA) and the U.S. Grains Council (USGC), quantifies the economic benefits nationally and to each U.S. state and selected Congressional districts of grain exports, showing results for corn, ethanol and its byproduct distiller’s dried grains with solubles (DDGS), corn gluten feed and the corn equivalent of meats, in addition to sorghum and barley.

Every $1 in exports of grains and grain products generates an additional $3.23 in business sales across the U.S., the study found. The positive economic effects of corn exports benefit not only agriculture, but also wholesale trade, real estate, oil and natural gas production, and the banking and financial industries.

“Farming is a global business, and this study shows how immense the impact of grain exports is on not just the agriculture economy, but our national economy,” said Alan Tiemann, USGC chairman and a farmer in Nebraska. “The work our industry does to build new markets and grow our relationships with those overseas who rely on U.S. grains is critical for U.S. farmers’ profitability.”

usgrainscouncil1The study also showed that the halting of grain exports would cost the U.S. more than 47,000 jobs and $2.8 billion in GDP from farming, ethanol production and meat production.  These results highlight the need for the Trans-Pacific Partnership.

“America’s farmers and ranchers have a lot to gain from new trade agreements such as TPP, but there is also a consequence for not moving forward,” Bowling said. “Every day we delay TPP means lost markets, which this study demonstrates has a ripple effect throughout the farm economy. That’s why Congress needs to act. The sooner TPP is passed, the better for America’s farmers and ranchers.”

The full analysis is available online here.

Ag Group, Corn, Exports, Grain, trade

Pioneer, John Deere Help Growers See More Green

Kelly Marshall Leave a Comment

EncircaIf you have JDLink Connect for your John Deere Operations Center account you’re in luck.  DuPont Pioneer is offering John Deere customers the opportunity to try the EncircaSM Yield Nitrogen Management Service for free this summer.  The Encirca platform provides in-season nitrogen monitoring and management services.

“We believe growers who try this no-risk offer will see value of the data-driven insights from EncircaSM services and the John Deere Operations Center to make more informed decisions about critical crop inputs and equipment optimization,” said Eric Boeck, DuPont Pioneer marketing director for EncircaSM services. “Dynamic management of their operation through the growing season can help growers see more green at harvest through higher yields and lower input costs.”

The promotion includes a free nitrogen evaluation by an Encirca certified services agent of about 100 acres of a grower’s cropland, real-time computer monitoring of nitrogen levels on those acres through the 2016 growing season, and a one-on-one review of nitrogen plans with respect to final yields in the fall. EncircaSM services are driven by strong agronomic expertise, proprietary soil analysis and classifications, advanced crop modeling and an exclusive hyper-local weather network.

“John Deere is excited about this offer from Pioneer because it helps expand the value of JDLinkTM Connect and the John Deere Operations Center beyond the convenience of data connectivity and the value of job optimization solutions,” said Kevin Very, business solutions manager, John Deere. “When growers opt to share their data with EncircaSM services and the John Deere Operations Center, they open a whole new set of advanced management insights. EncircaSM services enable such insights as variable rate fertilizer prescriptions available as crops are being harvested. This means more efficient deployment of equipment and labor.”

“Adding the post-harvest review of nitrogen plans will help growers better understand what happened in their field through the season and why,” said Boeck. “Their EncircaSMcertified services agent and Pioneer sales professional can then work with them to develop an ideal plan for the next growing season.”

The promotion is expected to be expanded in 2017.  Growers who enroll 1,000 acres in EncircaSM Yield Services from September to December 2016 will also receive a free, year-long subscription to JDLink TM Connect and the John Deere Operations Center.  Find out more at

Agribusiness, Dupont Pioneer, John Deere, Nitrogen

Bayer AG’s Bid Rejected by Monsanto

Kelly Marshall Leave a Comment

monsantoResponding to a $62 billion acquisition offer from Bayer AG, Monsanto Company has announced that its Board of Directors views the proposal as “incomplete and financially inadequate, but is open to continued and constructive conversations.”

In a company release, Monsanto chairman and CEO Hugh Grant gave a short statement.

“We believe in the substantial benefits an integrated strategy could provide to growers and broader society, and we have long respected Bayer’s business,” said Hugh Grant, Monsanto Chairman and CEO. “However, the current proposal significantly undervalues our company and also does not adequately address or provide reassurance for some of the potential financing and regulatory execution risks related to the acquisition.”

The release noted that there is no timeline for further discussions and no assurance that “any transaction will be entered into or consummated, or on what terms.”

Agribusiness, Bayer CropScience, Monsanto

FB Tells Congress EPA, Army Corp of Engineers Violate Law

Kelly Marshall Leave a Comment

Farm-bureauThe American Farm Bureau Federation told the Senate Subcommittee on Fisheries, Water and Wildlife that the EPA and Army Corps of Engineers have violated their own regulations.  The groups have effectively invented new rules to enforce the Clean Water Act, said senior director of congressional relations, Don Parrish.  These interpretations of the law are threatening the livelihoods of Americas who just happen to farm.

“Based on what we see in California, it is clear that the expansions in jurisdiction over land and water features on the farm are already happening,” Parrish told the subcommittee. “Most ordinary farming activities conducted in areas under jurisdiction will require permits if and when the Corps chooses to demand them. And when they demand permits, delays and costs will mount until most farmers simply give up. Congress needs to step in and give farmers some real certainty so they can plan their farming operations and protect the environment at the same time.”

Parrish also offered a detailed analysis of the Army Corps actions written by Judy Gallaway.  Gallaway is an environmental scientist and California Farm Bureau member who has worked on issues between farmers and the Corps many times in the past.

Parrish cited numerous examples of EPA and Army Corps mismanagement:

· The Corps has made jurisdictional determinations and tracked farming activities based classified aerial photographs and LIDAR imagery.

· Army Corps officials have forced farmers to sign non-disclosure agreements.

· One California farmer invested tens of thousands of dollars to map his private property to ensure his farming activity would avoid polluting local watersheds. The Corps, in response, threatened enforcement proceedings over construction of roads and ponds completed years before the farmer owned the property.

· In the Sacramento district, any plowing through a wetland requires permits that typically costs hundreds of thousands of dollars in engineering fees, even though the Clean Water Act exempts plowing from permitting.

· The Army Corps has issued menacing letters to farmers who have changed from alfalfa hay farming to cattle grazing and back, despite the absence of any law to support their objections.

· The Corps has told farmers to stop working when it merely suspected they were plowing too deep or changing land use. The Corps’ selective enforcement of this interpretation means it can now tell farmers where they may and may not farm, and what they may grow.

· The five-year drought has forced many farmers to temporarily fallow land or change crops based on changes in irrigation and market conditions. Oblivious to such obvious economic distress, the Corps has repeatedly required permits for ordinary plowing necessary to prepare the ground to change crops, further compounding the economic dislocation farmers have felt in the Central Valley.

You can read Parrish’s testimony here:

AFBF, Ag Group, EPA, Government