Vilsack Announces Base Acres Extension at #Classic15

Cindy Zimmerman Leave a Comment

vilsackSecretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack spoke to over 7000 agricultural producers and industry members during his 6th appearance at Commodity Classic on Friday. Sec. Vilsack began by stating that he “was in the presence of greatness” and went on to thank farmers for all that they do on a daily basis. He also thanked farmers for their work on the Farm Bill when it came to grassroots support and involvement in motivating legislation.

Vilsack addressed concerns surrounding the Farm Bill and announced a one-time extension by the USDA for producers to reallocate base acres and update yields for 2014 Farm Bill programs ARC and PLC. The final day to update information is now March 31, 2015. For more information, growers can contact local FSA offices.

He was met with applause when he went on to address water conservation concerns, “American farmers have done an amazing job with stewardship, they have cared deeply about the land, they know the condition of every acre of soil they farm. They understand and appreciate the impact and importance of water better than anyone else because their livelihood depends on that soil and that water.” Vilsack referenced the number of producers engaged in conservation programs, the acres enrolled, and knowledge and commitment that producers have to taking care of the land.

Listen to Secretary Vilsack’s complete remarks and press conference here: Vilsack Addresses Commodity Classic Vilsack Press Conference

2015 Commodity Classic Photo Album

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Public Comments Open on USDA Conservation Easements

John Davis Leave a Comment

usda-logoThe U.S. Department of Agriculture has opened up the public comment period for proposed rules designed to help producers protect working agricultural lands and wetlands. This agency news release says USDA is now accepting comments on its interim final rule for the new Agricultural Conservation Easement Program (ACEP), a consolidation of three previous conservation easement programs into one to make it easier for diverse agricultural landowners to fully benefit from conservation initiatives.

“Since 2009, USDA has worked with producers and private landowners to enroll a record number of acres in conservation programs. This interim final rule takes into account recommendations from agricultural landowners and conservation stakeholders about how to better streamline and enhance conservation easement processes,” [Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack] said.

USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) administers ACEP, a voluntary program created in the 2014 Farm bill to protect and restore critical wetlands on private and tribal lands through the wetland reserve easement component. ACEP also encourages farmers, ranchers and non-industrial private forest landowners to keep their private and tribal land in agricultural use through the agricultural land easement component. ACEP also conserves grasslands, including rangeland, pastureland and shrubland.

Under ACEP’s agricultural land component, tribes, state and local governments and non-governmental organizations that have farmland or grassland protection programs are eligible to partner with USDA to purchase conservation easements. NRCS easement programs have been a critical tool in recent years for advancing landscape-scale private lands conservation. In FY 2014, NRCS used $328 million in ACEP funding to enroll an estimated 143,833 acres of farmland, grassland, and wetlands through 485 new easements. In Florida, NRCS used ACEP funds to enroll an additional 6,700 acres in the Northern Everglades Watershed, supporting the restoration and protection of habitat for a variety of listed species, including the Wood Stork, Crested caracara, and Eastern Indigo Snake. In Georgia, NRCS used these funds to complete the Roundabout Swamp project by enrolling 270 acres of the Carolina Bay to help restore and protect the entire bay ecosystem to historic hydrology and vegetation.

USDA says the land easements offer many benefits to landowners and citizens, including protecting productive working lands being converted to non-agricultural uses. Other benefits include environmental quality, historic preservation, wildlife habitat and protection of open space.

Conservation, USDA

Making Propane Power Pay

Cindy Zimmerman Leave a Comment

classic15-perc-tomIf you are a farmer at Commodity Classic this week and you might be in the market for propane-powered equipment, you definitely should stop by the Propane Education and Research Council (PERC) booth at the trade show and get incentivized.

When I visited with PERC opening day, I met Tom Uhlman of Nebraska who took advantage of the propane incentive program when he was in the market for a new irrigation motor. “We were looking at replacing some 30 year old diesel irrigation motors and our local dealer recommended looking at propane,” he said. “It worked out really well as we got a tremendous amount of money back for the motors we bought.”

Visiting Husker Harvest Days in Nebraska last year, Tom happened to stop by the PERC booth and entered a contest to win a trip to Commodity Classic and won. “This is the first time I’ve ever been,” Tom said. “It’s been very interesting.”

Tom says he has found the propane motors to be quiet, clean, efficient and economical. “The propane price has been real stable the last year and they’re forecasting it to be lower,” he said. “I already bought my propane for next summer’s irrigation at below a dollar a gallon, so it makes good economic sense.”

What really makes good economic sense is to stop by booth 2126 and get up to $6,000 towards equipment purchases through the Propane Farm Incentive Program – that’s $1000 more than the normal incentive, just for Commodity Classic attendees!

Listen to my interview with Tom here: Interview with Tom Uhlman, Nebraska farmer and propane user

2015 Commodity Classic Photo Album

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Productivity, Environment Focus of International Conference

John Davis Leave a Comment

farmfoundationlogo3There’s a lot of different ideas on how agriculture can be done sustainably. That’s why our friends at Farm Foundation are teaming up with Global Harvest Initiative (GHI) and USDA’s Economic Research Service (ERS) to hold an international conference on productivity and the environment, March 11-12, 2015, in Washington, D.C.

It has long been recognized that technology-based tools that help increase agricultural productivity may have positive and negative impacts on the environment. Technologies that require more intensive use of fertilizer or chemical inputs, for example, may generate the potential for more pollution of water resources. Yet technological changes that increase crop yields may improve efficiency of nutrient and water use, while saving non-agricultural land from conversion to farmland.

In both developed and developing nations, understanding agricultural productivity becomes more critical as population growth and climate changes put greater stress on water, soil and ocean resources. The March 11-12 conference will examine the latest research work on productivity measurement, tradeoffs between agriculture and environmental outcomes, new sources of data for measuring and valuing environmental services, and public policy options. Identifying research gaps is another goal of the workshop. Review the complete workshop agenda here.

The productivity conference is open to the public. Registration information is available here.

Farm Foundation will also hold a related, free forum titled, “The Nexus of Technology, Agricultural Productivity and the Environment,” at the National Press Club, in Washington, D.C. on March 11. More information is available here.

Ag Group, Agribusiness, USDA

Bayer Young Farmer Sustainability Award

Cindy Zimmerman Leave a Comment

Bayer Young Farmer Sustainability AwardLast night Bayer CropScience announced this year’s Young Farmer Sustainability Award Winner, Andrew Fansler.

Andrew Fansler is a rare commodity these days—a first-generation farmer whose farming career was born from a passion for the soil, for growing things, and for the lifestyle and value system which are part of agriculture. Fansler is also the newly-minted winner of the 2015 Young Farmer Sustainablility Award presented by Bayer CropScience, and part of a growing cadre of young, ambitious farmers committed to making sustainable agricultural and business practices a priority as they tackle the challenge of producing ever more food, feed and fiber for a growing world population.

Each year, Bayer recognizes an agricultural producer age 40 or under who demonstrates entrepreneurial initiative and new approaches to farming, sustainability efforts and economic stability. The 36-year-old Fansler, owner of Fansler Farms of Shelbyville, Indiana, received the award today during the 10th annual Ag Issues Forum, a Bayer CropScience-hosted thought-leadership event.

“When I think about sustainability, what comes to mind are the many ways we as agriculture producers must strive to sustain not only profitability, but the factories in which we work – our land,” says Fansler. “Sustainability to me means being both financially sustainable and biologically sustainable. I strive to sustain and better everything I do!”

Listen in to Andrew’s remarks here: Sustainability Award winner Remarks

Photos: 2015 Ag Issues Forum Photo Album

Audio, Bayer CropScience, sustainability

BASF Celebrates 150 Years of Science

Cindy Zimmerman Leave a Comment

Since 2015 marks the 150th anniversary of BASF, our friends with BASF Crop Protection are pleased to kick off this anniversary year in the U.S. with the 9th annual media symposium, the Science Behind the Right Chemistry, in conjunction with Commodity Classic in Phoenix, Arizona. Opening the big event was Technical Crop Production Specialist AJ Woodyard and Vice President for US Crop Protection Scott Kay.

BASF was founded in 1865 as Badische Anilin und Soda-Fabrik (hence the BASF acronym) in Ludwigshafen, Germany, and since that time has played a key role in turning family farms into the modern operations they are today.

basf-science-15-rheaJoining the Science Behind event via Skype from RTP headquarters was Senior VP Crop Protection Paul Rea. “Conscientious care toward the environment and society are two of the reasons for our long-term success,” said Rea. “Sustainability is a core value that has supported our growth since 1865 into the world’s largest chemical company, and will take us into the next 150 years.”

Between now and 2019, BASF Crop Protection plans to introduce 45 new products to help growers increase yield potential and grow more and better crops. The new products will join the already big BASF portfolio of industry-leading products including Priaxor® fungicide, Xanthion™ In-furrow fungicide, Limus® nitrogen management, Kixor® herbicide technology, and Engenia™ herbicide, which will be BASF’s most advanced formulation of dicamba. Engenia herbicide is expected to receive U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) registration this year.

Listen to Paul Rea via Skype at #ScienceBehind15 here: BASF Senior VP Crop Protection Paul Rea

Stay tuned to find out what’s new from this 150 year old company!

2015 BASF Science Behind Photos

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20th Commodity Classic Breaks Records

Cindy Zimmerman Leave a Comment

classic15A record number of farmers and exhibitors from all over the country have descended on Phoenix for the 20th Commodity Classic – the annual event for corn, soybean, wheat and sorghum producers.

The massive trade show at the event is the largest ever with 355 booths – a record by a large margin according to the Commodity Classic officials. Attendance has already broken the record on the first day with 7759 registered so far and more are expected.

“The Commodity Classic Trade Show is always a popular event, and this year is no exception with a sold out event that offers attendees a chance to see the most cutting edge technology while interacting with industry leaders,” said National Corn Growers Association Joint Venture Committee 2015 Co-Chair Bart Schott. “Those searching for new ideas and a better picture of what is now and soon will be available to farmers will find the most extensive, comprehensive offering to date while exhibitors reach a larger audience than ever.”

Commodity Classic runs through Saturday night.

2015 Commodity Classic Photo Album

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Ag Group, Commodity Classic, Corn

Iteris’ ClearAg Crop Protection Beta Testing Program

Jamie Johansen Leave a Comment

iteris-logoIteris, Inc., a leader in providing intelligent traffic management and weather information solutions, announced the opening of its ClearAg™ Crop Protection application programming interfaces (API) beta testing program.

Chuck spoke with Bob Stern in the Iteris booth during the 2015 Commodity Classic allowing him to share more information about their next step in the evolution in our family of precision ag weather data delivered through APIs. Interview with Bob Stern, Iteris

ClearAg Crop Protection APIs will provide leading agriculture retailers, manufacturers and growers access to the latest Iteris product capabilities for field-level analytics and visualization tools. The ClearAg Crop Protection APIs feature new endpoints for advisory services around planting and harvest timing, pest and disease emergence, crop nutrition, crop canopy conditions, and irrigation for integration into precision agriculture applications. Iteris’ ClearAg Mobile application offering is also available through the beta program.

“ClearAg Crop Protection is an exciting next stage of our ClearAg decision support tool set,” said Tom Blair, senior vice president of Iteris’ iPerform division. “Through our ClearAg solution set, agribusinesses will have access to real-time content and agricultural models that can enhance decision-making for all stages of crop production. From planning to planting, growing and harvesting, the latest ClearAg Crop Protection APIs will enable users to have the right information for the right field at the right time, providing the best information available to make the right decisions.”

ClearAg Crop Protection is the latest release in the ClearAg API decision-support and modeling-as-a-service product tool set. It follows the recent product launches of ClearAg Select field-level weather APIs and ClearAg Prime soil condition information, which are also designed to empower third-party precision ag applications with field-level analytics information for data-driven farming.

ClearAg Select and Prime API releases featured the application of historic field-level climatological information in context to current weather and soil conditions, combined with data science and scalable infrastructure. ClearAg Select and Prime also included API endpoints around field-level weather, accessibility index, growing degree days, and crop growth modeling. With the information ClearAg API solutions provide, agribusiness staff from crop consultants to agronomists can make better, faster and more informed decisions around everything from seed selection, to planting, and harvesting, through to commodity-based pricing decisions.

The ClearAg adaptive modeling solution is an intuitive application set that expands the power of agronomic models to solve complex agricultural challenges. Iteris’ patent-pending technology leverages ensemble modeling of weather conditions and agronomic models, multi-sensor, science-based analysis of current and past weather and soil conditions, all curated by a staff of degreed meteorologists. The ClearAg solution set provides real-time information where and when you need it.

To participate in the ClearAg Crop Protection beta program, please contact Iteris at

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Agribusiness, Audio, Crop Protection, Data

BASF Survey Says Farmers Concerned About Risk

Cindy Zimmerman Leave a Comment

basf-science15-kayNo doubt farming is a risky business or everyone would do it, but this year more than ever farmers are concerned about managing financial risk and worried about potential commodity price fluctuations.

According to a survey of over 200 farmers, BASF Crop Protection found that farmers are very or extremely concerned about managing financial risk in the coming season, and a full 90% say they are concerned about commodity price fluctuation. In addition, BASF Vice President for US Crop Protection Scott Kay said they found farmers would feel better if they had someone to share that risk. “60% of them said they would like to partner with a chemical manufacturer to help me make better decisions moving forward,” said Kay. In addition, 55% said risk sharing with a crop protection company would “give them peace of mind.”

Kay invites farmers to visit with BASF during Commodity Classic this week to find out how they can work together. Interview with Scott Kay, BASF

Stay tuned to find out what’s new from this 150 year old company!

2015 BASF Science Behind Photos

Agribusiness, Audio, BASF, Crop Protection

Astronaut Addresses Bayer CropScience #AIF2015

Cindy Zimmerman Leave a Comment

bayer-aif15-jemisonAmong her many accomplishments Dr. Mae Carol Jemison is a dancer, a doctor, an actress, an astronaut and a strong advocate for “Making Science Make Sense.” She’s done more in her life so far than most of us even think about doing!

Jemison talked to the Bayer CropScience 10th annual Ag Issues Forum on Tuesday about why scientific literacy is critical to the future of farming, but also offered a great motivational message, especially for young women.

“I was raised by parents who recognized the importance of imagination and moving forward,” she said. “I always assumed that I would go into space. It wasn’t a dream. It was a reality.”

Jemison stressed the importance of making science interesting to kids. “We’ve always used the sky to plant, grow and innovate. Science matters,” said Jemison. “Science literacy applies to almost everything we do.”

Dr. Mae Carol Jemison, #AIF2015 remarks Interview with Dr. Mae Carol Jemison, Making Science Make Sense

2015 Ag Issues Forum Photo Album

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