Trade Offers Stability for Rural Economies

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Jason Hafemeister, Acting Deputy Under Secretary for Trade & Foreign Agricultural Affairs at the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) addressed the attendees of the 2017 U.S. Soy Global Trade Exchange, bringing a message of greater trade opportunities for America’s farmers.

“A substantial part of our farm income comes from foreign markets,” said Hafemeister. “So we at the department are always looking for ways to expand and grow on foreign market opportunities and we’re happy to have a chance to meet with potential buyers here today to talk about the virtues of American products. We’re a reliable supplier of high-quality product and can compete on price. This is a good opportunity to remind folks of that.”

Rural America needs a strong farm base for it’s economic stability, and growth in rural areas increases the health of the overall economy. According to Hafemeister, one of the best ways to do that is to improve the customer base by removing barriers for trade around the world.  Currently the USDA is meeting with Canada and Mexico to improve NAFTA. Their first goal is to do no harm, but also to improve trade access, specifically into Canada with poultry and dairy. Removing barriers to China, Japan, and Vietnam are also high on Hafemeister’s list.

“Prices go up and prices go down,” Hafemeister said, but broadening the customer base takes pressure off domestic supply and will help address the current difficult climate.

To hear more, listen to Jamie’s full interview here: Interview with Jason Hafemeister, USDA

Secretary Perdue in Florida

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U.S. Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue visited the Citrus Expo in Fort Myers, Florida this week to learn more about citrus greening and hold a farm bill listening session with Congressman Tom Rooney of the local district.

The only opportunity for reporters to ask questions of the secretary was a short, crowded, disorganized gaggle that covered a wide range of non-agricultural topics. But I did get to ask him the first question – when does he expect to have a full USDA in place?

“The president has put forth some tremendous nominations and we are hopeful that as soon as the Senate gets back in session in September the ag committee will take these up,” the secretary said. “I’m the only presidential-appointed, Senate-confirmed person at the USDA today.”

You can listen my press gaggle question here: Interview with Secretary Sonny Perdue

Feed A Bee Plantings Happening Coast to Coast

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The Bayer Bee Care program launched the grant initiative, Feed a Bee in 2015 with a goal of planting 50 million flowers. They’ve now distributed more than 3 billion wildflower seeds and the organization is moving forward with a grander goal- to facilitate forage plantings or enhancements in every state by the end of 2018.

This Saturday will be an important step in that goal; August 19th has been dedicated National Honey Bee Day and Feed a Bee will celebrate with plantings from three of their accepted proposals. Starting in Bethpage State Park in Farmingdale, New York and then on to North Central College in Naperville, Illinois, and finally finishing in Placer Land Trust’s School Park Community Garden in Auburn, California, the day will highlight the work being done to help honey bees.

So far, proposals from 34 states have already been accepted, but Feed a Bee is still looking for more partners. “We want everyone applying, whether we’ve already funded those states or not we’ll still consider the projects,” says project manager, Dr. Becky Langer.  “But the states we need attention on that we have not received applications from are: Wyoming, Vermont, South Dakota, Rhode Island, Nebraska, New Hampshire, Kansas, Hawaii, Delaware, Alaska, and New Mexico.”

Learn how to become more involved by listening to my full interview with Dr. Langer here: Interview with Dr. Becky Langer, Bayer Bee Care

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A Growing North Asia U.S. Soy Market

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To kick off the 2017 U.S. Soy GLobal Trade Exchange eleven Chinese purchasing agreements were signed with five U.S. soybean exporters for 3.8 MMT valued at $1.561 billion. The U.S. Soybean Export Council (USSEC) and Midwest Shippers Association serve as hosts for the conference where over 250 international buyers representing over 55 countries attend.

“These companies are very loyal buyers of U.S. soy and their purchases of soy exceed the percentage of soy the Chinese import. China imports 40% of its soy from the U.S. Some of these companies import 60% or 70% of their soy from the U.S. This was a demonstration to the U.S. trade and producers that they are committed to engaging with and being long-term customers of the U.S. soybean farmers,” said Paul Burke, USSEC regional director North Asia.

North Asia buys more than 30% of the entire U.S. crop. Paul said that volume of purchases will continue to be very steady. China carries the bulk of that market demand and we will see an increase in volume of soy imports through 2030.

Listen to my complete interview with Paul to learn more about the North Asia soybean market and the growing demand for U.S soy here: Interview with Paul Burke, USSEC

You can find photos from the event here: U.S. Soy Global Trade Exchange Photo Album

Relationships Drive U.S. Soy Exports

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The U.S. Soy Global Trade Exchange & Midwest Specialty Grains Conference and Trade Show in Omaha, Nebraska is running full tilt and Jamie Johansen has it covered.  In her interview with U.S. Soybean Export Council (USSEC) CEO Jim Sutter, the two addressed the relationship building essential to trade and the reasons the global market chooses U.S. soy.

“This [event] is just kind of a great opportunity to showcase what USSEC does in terms of networking and building relationships between buyers from around the world and our U.S. export industry and of course the U.S. growers that grow the crop that we help market.  Whether a person is buying seed on their farm or buying tractor or a car, whatever it is, I always think there’s this personal connection and this event is all about helping to build that personal connection,” Sutter shares.

Sutter also spoke to the future of soy.  “It’s a growth industry,” he explains.  Everyone from around the world is seeing growth, and that’s a reassuring thing, even with low prices.  U.S. soy is also sustainable, which is a great story for the United States to tell to the many foreign visitors at the event.

Learn more in Jamie’s full interview with Sutter here: Interview with Jim Sutter, CEO U.S. Soybean Export Council

You can find photos from the event here: U.S. Soy Global Trade Exchange Photo Album

Precision Ag Bytes 8/16

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  • The Soil Health Institute in Research Triangle Park (RTP) near Raleigh, NC is seeking an experienced, professional Soil Scientist/Agronomist with expertise in both fields for a 1-3 year term appointment.
  • Agri-tech company, Inocucor, has added two agriculture bioscience leaders, Carole Cobb and Gregg Bogosian, Ph.D., to its Manufacturing Advisory Board.
  • The Soil Health Institute announced five researchers will receive Soil Health Literature and Information Review Grants designated to foster soil health promoting research.  The $40,000 in total grant funds were supplied by a generous donor who wishes to remain anonymous.

Trimble’s New GM for Agriculture – Abe Hughes

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ZimmCast 556I thoroughly enjoyed working with Abe Hughes when he worked for New Holland and now he has just been appointed to worldwide general manager for Trimble’s Agriculture Division within the Resources and Utilities segment. So congratulations Abe! Abe has only been on the job a little while but I bothered him for a phone interview for this week’s ZimmCast.

“I see Trimble’s innovation in precision agriculture, global presence, Vantage distribution network and OEM customers as key assets in Trimble’s success,” said Abe Hughes. “I’m excited to work with the Trimble team and our channel partners to drive the next phase of growth for the business.”

When you listen to our conversation you’ll hear that excitement in Abe’s voice. We discussed the recent acquisition announcement by Trimble of Müller-Elektronik to extend its precision agriculture capabilities from the vehicle to the implement. Abe explains what that means and from my perspective it is a pretty major step by Trimble. You’ll learn more about what’s going on with Trimble if you take a listen to the program.

I hope you enjoy the program and thank you for listening!

Listen to the ZimmCast here: ZimmCast with Abe Hughes, Trimble

Subscribe to the ZimmCast podcast here. Use this url in iTunes or your favorite news reader program/app.

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Iowa Farmer is 1st Woman to Chair USGC

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Iowa farmer Deb Keller was elected as U.S. Grains Council (USGC) chairman at the organization’s 57th Annual Board of Delegates Meeting in Vancouver, Washington earlier this month. She is the first female selected for the role in the organization’s nearly 60 year history.

Keller’s experience as a strong advocate for trade will amplify the Council’s mission of developing markets, enabling trade and improving lives. “Thinking ahead, I see so many areas for growth, but I also see challenges that will take much time and patience to see through,” Keller said in her incoming chairman’s remarks. “After working with our delegates, the board and our staff both internationally and domestically, I know we can be successful together.”

Keller has a bachelor’s degree in agronomy from Purdue University and has farmed in Wright County, Iowa, for more than 25 years with her husband, Gary, whom she met while working in a corn field.

Learn more about the new chair in this interview from Tony St. James – All Ag, All Day. Thanks Tony!

Interview with USGC chair Deb Keller

International Buyers of U.S. Soy Convene in Omaha

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Next week, U.S. soybean farmers will have the opportunity to meet the international buyers responsible for purchasing the 60% of soybeans exported from the U.S. each year. The U.S. Soybean Export Council (USSEC) will host its 5th annual U.S. Soy Global Trade Exchange Aug. 15-17 at Omaha’s CenturyLink Center. It will be our second year to cover the event and we thought we would get a preview of the conference from Jim Miller, USSEC chairman of the board.

“The United States is a top supplier of the world’s soy, thanks to the sustainable, consistent supply and exceptional composition that U.S. soybean farmers provide. To maintain this leadership position, it’s imperative that we meet and exceed our customers’ demands. This event opens an important dialog that spans the soy value chain, from the U.S. soybean farmer to the end user,” said Miller.

They are expecting over 250 international buyers representing 50 countries and about 350 U.S. soybean farmers to attend the conference focused on relationship building and education. Jim said there are many myths and unknowns about U.S. soybean production and this event serves as the perfect location to tell the story and paint the picture of U.S. production.

“Anytime we can have the international customers come to the U.S. and visit directly with farmers and hear the farmers story firsthand, it’s a great opportunity to dispell those myths,” said Miller.

Following the event in Omaha, groups of international attendees will visit U.S. farms for a firsthand glimpse of sustainable U.S. soybean farming practices. Listen to my complete conversation with Jim here: Interview with Jim Miller, USSEC Chairman

USDA Forecast Optimistic Despite Conditions

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U.S. farmers are expected to produce a record-high soybean crop this year, according to USDA’s August Crop Production report released Thursday. Soybean production is forecast at 4.38 billion bushels, up two percent from last year, while corn growers are expected to decrease their production by seven percent from last year, forecast at 14.2 billion bushels.

Soybean yields are expected to average 49.4 bushels per acre, down 2.7 bushels from last year, while the average corn yield is forecast at 169.5 bushels per acre, down 5.1 bushels from last year. Yields for both crops are expected to be lower or the same in the major producing areas, but record high in non-traditional states like Mississippi, Pennsylvania, and South Carolina.

But with corn condition ratings the lowest they have been since the 2012 drought, some analysts believe the yields will be lower than USDA is saying now. “It seems like they’re being very conservative with this,” said Doug Werling of Bower Trading during the MGEX crop call following release of the report. “You can’t have a crop condition rating that continues to fall and a yield that improves or only falls marginally two months in a row. It just doesn’t really add up.”

Werling also comments on the wheat production forecast, which is down 25 percent overall.

Audio file: Crop commentary from Doug Werling of Bower Trading

The August report also includes the first production forecast for U.S. cotton, at 20.5 million 480-pound bales, up 20 percent from last year.