Candidates Offer Views on Ag Issues

Kelly Marshall Leave a Comment

clinton-trumpWhile the candidates may weigh in during tonight’s debate on issues such as immigration and trade, which are important to agriculture, it’s not likely they will address topics such as the farm bill and biotechnology.

So, the American Farm Bureau Federation (AFBF) went to both nominees and asked them the same questions on a number of issues that concern farmers and ranchers and the responses are being posted in the organization’s digital newsletter FBNews. In the first responses posted last week, both candidates explained their positions on regulatory reform; the Clean Water, Clean Air and Endangered Species Acts; and the farm bill, biotechnology, and food safety.

“The fact that the candidates took the time in the middle of this very competitive election season to go into such detail in their responses says a lot about the importance of these issues and the farmers and ranchers who care about them,” said AFBF President Zippy Duvall. While AFBF cannot endorse or support a political candidate, the organization is providing the candidates’ positions to inform Farm Bureau members and others.

The Trump campaign responses to the issues are in first person, while the Clinton camp took a third person approach. For example, in response to the question about the Clean Water Act – What would you do as president to ensure that the EPA acts within the bounds of the Clean Water Act?

Trump Response: “First, I will appoint a pro-farmer Administrator of EPA. Next, I will eliminate the unconstitutional “Waters of the US” rule, and will direct the Army Corps of Engineers and EPA to no longer use this unlawful rule and related guidance documents in making jurisdictional determinations.”

Clinton Response: “The Clean Water Act not only stemmed these environmental disasters but helped to reverse course and restore healthy swimmable and fishable waters for all Americans to enjoy. As president, Hillary will continue this legacy. She will work to ensure waters are safe and protected, will maintain the longstanding exemptions for common farming practices, and will continue pushing for clarity within the law.”

The candidates’ opinions on Immigration, International Trade and TPP, and Energy will be posted this week.

AFBF, Ag Group, Government

Ag Industry Meets with EPA On Pests and Weeds

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Last week the EPA met with members of the agriculture industry to discuss the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide and Rodenticide Act (FIFRA) and its impact on the environment.

The EPA is responsible for regulating the distribution, sale and use of pesticides under FIFRA. The organization will not allow the distribution or sale of a pesticide until it verifies that its use does not cause “unreasonable adverse effects on the environment.”

asaAmerican Soybean Association (ASA) CEO Steve Censky, who attended the meeting, said the farmer groups emphasized a desire to engage with EPA in a constructive way. He added they also underscored the need for agency decisions to fully reflect FIFRA requirements, that decisions consider both benefits to growers and risks, that farmer groups and the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) want to be fully consulted in the decision process and that EPA decisions affect the livelihoods of farmers – their competitiveness, ability to control pests and weeks, and ability to produce food for a growing world.

EPA Administrator, Gina McCarthy, specifically stressed the agency’s wish to maintain a constructive conservations with the agriculture industry and stated her understanding of the farmer’s need for pest and weed control.

Ag Group, ASA, EPA, Herbicides, Insecticide

Two Tractors In One- New Holland Concept

Kelly Marshall Leave a Comment

Bret LiebermanDesigned for maximum flexibility, New Holland’s concept tractor is actually two tractors in one.   The NHDrive concept tractor was announced at the Farm Progress Show, where operators could view a machine that has the capability to be driven with the attached cab just like a normal tractor or run driverless and be controlled by a portable device or computer.

Chuck Zimmerman spoke with Bret Lieberman, Vice President, North America, New Holland, to get his thoughts on what this means for customers. It’s all about new technology that will help customers. “How can we make them be more productive and do a better job in the work that they do everyday and are committed to in their lifestyle,” says Lieberman.

The NHDrive concept tractor is equipped with a seeder, and is able to autonomously seed the next crop straight behind the combine. Using an application installed on a portable device, perfect for supervised automation, such as an operator driving a combine, or on a desktop computer, perfect for the farmer working in his farm office, the tractor and implement parameters can be continually monitored and controlled, and changes can be made if necessary.

Able to work 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, the NHDrive tractor helps to reduce the risks associated with human error as it follows predetermined and optimised plans for all activities. It is able to reach higher levels of productivity and efficiency than traditional methods. The NHDrive can make full use of the periods of favourable weather for farming operations by working day and night.

In the future, the NHDrive tractor will be able to completely automate grain handling during the harvest when equipped with a trailer, including unloading, transport and offloading activities.

Listen to Chuck’s interview with Bret here: Interview with Bret Lieberman, New Holland

New Holland at 2016 Farm Progress Show Photos

Agribusiness, Audio, Farm Progress Show, New Holland, Tractor

The Yield Lab Earn Global Ambassador’s Award

Kelly Marshall Leave a Comment

The Yield Lab logoThe World Trade Center in St. Louis has chosen The Yield Lab to receive this year’s Global Ambassador Award.

The Yield Lab is a food and agriculture technology business accelerator that invests $100,000 in the early stages of AgTech startups.  They offer one-on-one mentorship, free workspace, and networking in the  St. Louis area.  This award acknowledges them as an organization that has enhanced the image of St. Louis and exposed the city to the international community.

Previous award winners include The Honorable Kevin O’Malley, United States Ambassador to Ireland, The Donald Danforth Plant Science Center, and Mark Wrighton, Ph.D., Chancellor, Washington University in St. Louis.

“Honoring the Yield Lab with this year’s Global Ambassador Award was the obvious choice,” said Tim Nowak, World Trade St. Louis Executive Director. “Their work in the AgTech space, not only in St. Louis, but abroad, is why this award was created and we are thrilled to name the Yield Lab as this year’s recipient.”

This award will be added to the recent milestones reached by the Yield Lab. Earlier this July, the Yield Lab launched the Yield Lab Galway, a food and agriculture technology venture fund and business accelerator, located in Galway, Ireland.

“We believe finding innovative solutions to sustainably feed the world’s rapidly growing population are the biggest problems facing human kind today,” said Yield Lab Managing Director Thad Simons. “The Global Ambassador Award comes at a pivotal time in our international growth and will provide greater recognition and strategic opportunities for both our St. Louis and Galway based investments.”

Tom Adamitis, Managing Director at the Yield Lab, accepted the award on the Yield Lab’s behalf. “Being bestowed with this honor based on our efforts, locally, nationally and internationally, gives St. Louis and the Yield Lab a boost of confidence to continue our work in finding a way to sustainably feed our world’s growing population.”

Agribusiness, Award

Court Upholds Retail Exemption to PSM

Kelly Marshall Leave a Comment

fertilizerThe D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals saved U.S. retailers more than $100 million in compliance costs with its ruling on Friday.  The court found the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) was not adhering to the Occupational Safety and Health (OSH) Act when it issued an enforcement memo earlier this year that redefined retail facility exemption to the Process Safety Management (PSM) Standard.

“This administration has broadly and unjustly avoided proper procedure to construct and reinterpret myriad federal regulations without public input,” said Daren Coppock, president and chief executive officer of the Agricultural Retailers Association (ARA). “The court’s decision in this case affirms the importance of regulatory agencies following proper notice and comment rulemaking procedure.”

ARA, along with The Fertilizer Institute (TFI), led the battle against the OSHA, arguing the agency did not adhere to the notice-and-comment procedures for issuing a formal standard.  The agencies say the exemption for retailers has been in place for more than 20 years and OSHA should not be allowed to redefine it without opportunity for stakeholders to comment.

“We are pleased with the court’s decision to vacate OSHA’s repeal of the retail PSM exemption,” said TFI President, Chris Jahn. “Through ResponsibleAg, the industry is taking concrete action to ensure that retailers can verify compliance with all applicable federal regulations. We take this work seriously, but need to be able to voice our concerns when new federal rules are proposed.”

Anhydrous Ammonia, the most commonly used nitrogen fertilizer in U.S. agriculture, is already regulated under 29 CFR 1910.111 and the General Duty Clause. PSM applies to any facility storing 10,000 lbs. or more of anhydrous ammonia. However, ag retail facilities selling more than 50 percent of the popular fertilizer to farmers have been exempt from PSM under what was deemed the “50 percent rule.” OSHA’s 2015 memo eliminated the exemption.

“Although ARA could only challenge on the procedural point and not the enforcement memo itself, we’re still very pleased to see the Court rule in our favor and to provide this relief to our members,” Coppock added.

ARA and TFI also point out the importance of organizations like their own in fights like this one.

“As an industry, ag retailers tend to be complacent about regulations that come our way. We keep our heads down and do what’s required,” he said. “But this rule would have limited farmers and retailers options through an agency’s improper regulatory overreach. Thankfully, ARA and TFI were prepared and positioned to defend our industry. They gave us a vehicle to fight and win this battle.”

Ag Group, ARA, Fertilizer, Retailers

DuPont Pioneer Finds Potential Insect Control Traits

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dupontpioneerResearchers at DuPont Pioneer have discovered a protein from a non-Bacillus thuringiensis (Bt) bacterium source.  Science Magazine published findings that show this protein is a promising alternative for controlling corn root worm in North American  and Europe.

“This research represents a breakthrough for addressing a major challenge in agriculture,” said Neal Gutterson, vice president, Research & Development, DuPont Pioneer. “We have discovered a non-Bt protein that demonstrates insecticidal control of western corn rootworm with a new and different mode of action than Bt proteins currently used in transgenic products. This protein could be a critical component for managing corn rootworm in future corn seed product offerings. The work also suggests that bacteria other than Bt are alternative sources of insecticidal proteins for insect control trait development.”

Another Pioneer study related to non-Bt insect control, recently published in Scientific Reports, shows how RNA interference (RNAi) can be applied to control corn rootworm feeding damage.

RNAi is a biologically occurring process that happens in the cells of plants, animals and people. By employing the RNAi process, a plant can protect itself by carrying instructions that precisely target specific proteins in pests.

“Growers need a next generation of solutions to help protect their crops. Our researchers are developing innovative, new modes for insect control to help meet future demands. Non-Bt proteins and RNA-based products highlight our efforts to identify alternative methods for effective control of insect feeding damage in agriculture,” Gutterson said.

Agribusiness, Corn, Dupont Pioneer, Traits

New Report: Global Progress on Food Loss, Waste

Lizzy Schultz Leave a Comment

un-sdg-target12 A newly released report has assessed the world’s progress toward Target 12.3 of the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), which has called on all nations to halve food waste and reduce food loss by 2030. The report recommends nations, cities and businesses in the food supply chain move quickly to set reduction targets, measure progress and take action to reduce food loss and waste.

The publication, SDG Target 12.3 on Food Loss and Waste: 2016 Progress Report, was released on behalf of Champions 12.3, a global coalition of government, business and civil leaders who are dedicated to inspiring ambition, mobilizing action, and accelerating progress toward achieving SDG Target 12.3.

One-third of all food produced is never eaten by people, and there is a tremendous impact felt worldwide due to this loss and waste. Food loss and waste is responsible for $940 billion in economic losses, as well as 8 percent of greenhouse gas emissions annually, yet 42 million Americans, including more than 6 million children, still do not have enough food to eat.

US-based Champions include Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack, EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy, Kellogg Company Chairman of the Board and CEO John Bryant, Director General of the International Food Policy Research Institute Shenggen Fan, former White House Chef Sam Kass, Campbell Soup Company President and CEO Denise Morrison, Oxfam America President Raymond Offenheiser, The Rockefeller Foundation President Judith Rodin, World Resources Institute President and CEO Andrew Steer and Natural Resources Defense Council President Rhea Suh.

The report reveals that the U.S. government and U.S.-based organizations have taken a number of notable steps over the past yearto reduce food loss and waste, including the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) and U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announcing the U.S. 2030 Food Loss and Waste Reduction Goal,
and the Rockefeller Foundation launching YieldWise, a $130 million investment to demonstrate practical approaches to halving food loss and waste by 2030.

The enormous scope of the food loss and waste challenge requires the United States and other developed countries to do much more than they have already demonstrated, and the report offers three recommendations for leaders to meet Target 12.3 by 2030:

The report recommends that every country, major city and company involved in the food supply chain should set food loss and waste reduction targets.

Governments and companies are also recommended to begin quantifying and reporting on food loss and waste and monitor progress over time through 2030.

Finally, governments and companies are encouraged to accelerate and scale up adoption of policies, incentives, investments and practices that reduce food loss and waste.

The full report is available here.

Ag Group, EPA, Food, Government, Research, sustainability

Manufacturers Enhance Ability to Use Precision Ag

Kelly Marshall Leave a Comment

AgGateway My family just lost a full day of harvest when our precision monitor wouldn’t play nicely with the combine, but AgGateway says that is nearly a thing of the past.  A group of equipment manufacturers will soon be releasing products to enhance connectivity across different systems, regardless of brand.

“I’m excited to announce the commitment by a lead group of companies to release their conversion tools to the market,” said Mark Stelford, Chairman of AgGateway’s ADAPT Oversight Committee and General Manager of Premier Crop Systems.

“The ADAPT framework removes the complexity of managing multiple data formats for farm management systems, helping software developers instead to focus on delivering value-added features for their agricultural customers,” said Tarak Reddy, Chair of AgGateway’s ADAPT Technical Committee and Delivery Architect of John Deere Intelligent Solutions Group. “The framework maps multiple data formats into a common agriculture model created by experts from a broad range of companies and organizations within the agriculture industry.”

Companies that have committed to using ADAPT and releasing plug-ins for many of their proprietary data formats currently include AGCO Corporation, Ag Leader Technology, CLAAS, CNH Industrial, Deere & Company, Praxidyn, Raven Industries, Topcon Precision Agriculture, and Trimble Navigation. This commitment by major precision ag equipment manufacturers will help drive the broad adoption of AgGateway’s ADAPT, Stelford notes.

ADAPT, or Agricultural Data Application Programming Toolkit, is an open-source program that represents many years of work.  It consists of an Agricultural Application Data Model, and common API, and a combination of open source and property data conversion plug-ins.

The toolkit was released in February of this year; plug-in development will vary by manufacturer, but some are immediately available while others can be looked for in 2017.  AgGateway has also developed an ISO plug-in (also open-source) to support a broad range of ISO compatible systems.

“ADAPT represents a monumental amount of work over several years, by many people across the agriculture industry,” said Stelford. “We believe the adoption of ADAPT gets us to the tipping point where growers, agronomists and other participants can effortlessly use their data to drive improved decisions in their operations.”

Ag Group, AgGateway, Connectivity

Student Nutrition Important to Bayer

Kelly Marshall Leave a Comment

bayer-logoIn an effort to bring fresh fruits and vegetables to school children, Bayer has partnered with United Fresh Start Foundation to place salad bars in elementary and secondary schools in the Pacific Northwest and California.  The company has invested $20,000 to put healthy choices in front of students at schools like Sunnyslope Elemenatry School in the Wenatchee Public School district.  Students there received their new salad bar and taste tested three new Stemilt apple varieties in a special assembly.

“The new salad bar will allow us to replace our old equipment, and provide students with an attractive display of fresh fruits and veggies every day,” said David Perkins, Principal, Sunnyslope Elementary School. “Our district’s foodservice team does a fantastic job sourcing local produce and offering different veggie choices. The salad bar will definitely highlight that.”

As the salad bars arrive, schools will be implementing the nutritional display during both the lunch and breakfast programs.

“Over 5 billion school lunches were served last year, and we are thrilled to support the United Fresh Start Foundation and their Let’s Move Salad Bars to Schools initiative,” said Jennifer Maloney, Food Chain and Sustainability Manger, Bayer. “With more than 30 million American children participating in the National School Lunch Program each day, providing salad bars to schools will expose kids to a variety of fruits and vegetables, and help continue the conversation about the importance of eating more fresh fruits and vegetables for better health.”

To coordinate the salad bar contribution, Bayer worked with the United Fresh Start Foundation, a nonprofit organization affiliated with the United Fresh Produce Association. As part of the Foundation’s partnership in the national Let’s Move Salad Bars to Schools initiative, they are working with the produce industry, non-profits and allied businesses to support salad bars to schools across the United States. To date, the Let’s Move Salad Bars to Schools initiative has donated salad bars to over 4,800 schools in all fifty states, benefitting more than 3 million children. Bayer’s salad bar investment supports the national initiative.

Research shows a salad bar in schools promotes healthy food choices in students- promoting new foods and encouraging children to make their own healthy choices.  Bayer supports the Let’s Move Salad Bars to School initiative because they are committed to sustainability and agriculture education and that begins with people.


New Two-Wheel Drive Tractor from New Holland

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Michael CornmanNew Holland introduced a new two-wheel-drive version of its premium T6 series tractor at the recent Farm Progress Show. Michael Cornman, New Holland Agriculture Segment Marketing Manager – Under 140 HP Tractors, talked with Chuck Zimmerman about the new model.

The 2WD version offers enhanced maneuverability on two wheels for sharper turning, making it perfect for flat to rolling hill work, including hay making, mowing and roadside fleet applications. Removing the 4WD feature allows for a reduction in purchase price while still offering best-in-class mid-range tractor benefits like the ultra-quiet VisionView™ cab and optional ComfortRide™ cab suspension.

“We had a lot of dealers and customers coming to us with this request and are excited to announce that we’ve brought it to life,” said Michael Cornman, Under 140 HP Tractor Segment Marketing Manager. “This new 2WD solution not only fulfills flat land and chore work needs but also comes at a more economical price point.”

The new tractor will be available in the first quarter of 2017.  Learn more from Michael’s presentation, or watch the video below: Michael Cornman Presentation, New Holland

New Holland at 2016 Farm Progress Show Photos

Agribusiness, Farm Progress Show, New Holland