Policy Priorities for Ag Retailers

Cindy Zimmerman Leave a Comment

GMO labeling, energy policy, regulatory actions and water transportation were among the top issues discussed by members of the Agricultural Retailers Association (ARA) meeting in Washington, DC last week.

ara-cooperARA Chairman Harold Cooper of Premier Ag says their biggest priority was the retail exemption to OSHA’s Process Safety Management (PSM) regulations. “OSHA has elected to take a statute that’s over 20 years old, that excluded our industry from a lot of the stringent quality control measures that manufacturers typically have to do, they’ve now included us as retailers in that with our ammonia operations,” said Cooper, who adds that this could result in additional costs for retailers without any real benefits and possibly some locations having to close, leading to farmers having less choices.

Learn more in this interview: Interview with ARA chairman Harold Cooper

aradc-gmk-spencerGROWMARK Executive Director for Corporate and Government Relations Chuck Spencer, who joined in legislative visits with ARA, says labeling issue for genetically modified products is a top legislative priority for his cooperative. “We need to have a federal standard on genetically modified labeling,” said Spencer. “We’re proposing to have a voluntary system so if individuals want to purchase a GMO-free product, the marketplace can respond much like the national organic standard.”

Government regulation is also a big issue, especially when it comes to the EPA. “We need transparency, consistency and predictability from our regulatory system,” Spencer noted.

Learn more about GROWMARK legislative priorities in this interview: Interview with Chuck Spencer, GROWMARK

ARA, Audio, GMO, Government, Growmark

Agrible Morning Farm Report wins AE50 Award

Cindy Zimmerman Leave a Comment

image001The American Society of Agricultural and Biological Engineers (ASABE) has named Morning Farm Report by Agrible a winner of a 2016 AE50 Award for Outstanding Innovations in Product or Systems Technology.

“Many of us at Agrible are ASABE members, 20 years for me, and it’s a great honor for Morning Farm Report to be recognized by the society I’ve respected for so long,” said Chris Harbourt, CEO of Agrible. “We will continue to innovate and bring exciting new technologies to the marketplace.”

Morning Farm Report is a suite of predictive analytics tools that translate high resolution data into recommendations for growers. Agrible also recently announced the 2016 Grower Bundle for Morning Farm Report which introduces alerts for increased disease and insect pressure, nutrient availability forecasts and alerts, hourly forecasts on wind speed and direction, soil conditions, temperature inversions, and pollinator safety.

“As a grower, I’m excited to be part of a team that is creating tools that I utilize on our farm,” said Agrible Chief Product Office Luke Zwilling, an ASABE member of 12 years. “It’s a huge honor for Morning Farm Report to be recognized as an innovative tool for growers and to accept this award on behalf of Agrible.”

AE50 awards honor the year’s most innovative designs in engineering products or systems for the food and agriculture industries and were presented Tuesday at the 2016 Agricultural Equipment Technology Conference, in Louisville, Kentucky.

Award, Data, technology

Agri-Fos Fungicide Plus Receives EPA Registration

Taylor Truckey Leave a Comment

agrifosAgri-Fos Systemic Fungicide Plus has received EPA registration, Vivid Life Sciences announced yesterday. The active ingredient a highly concentrated phosphite fungicide.

“Agri-Fos Systemic Fungicide is the original systemic fungicide. It was developed by Agrichem and it was one of the first potassium phosphite products registered in the U.S.,” said Josh Krenz, CEO of Vivid Life Science. “The Agri-Fos brand has been used more than 15 years in the United States and more than 30 years worldwide, across thousands of acres, through Agrichem. It is the trusted leader in phosphite products.”

Agri-Fos Systemic Fungicide Plus is a new formulation with 15 percent more active ingredient than the original, making it the most concentrated liquid product in the marketplace. Its potassium-based phosphite makes for greater plant uptake. Advanced phosphite formulation techniques enhance systemic activity for complete translocation of the active ingredient throughout the plant. The product will be sold through Vivid Life Sciences, which acquired the rights to all Agrichem products in the USA as announced earlier in 2015.

Agri-Fos Systemic Fungicide Plus is labeled for use in the control of Phytophthora, Pythium, Fusarium, Rhizoctonia, fire blight, downy mildew, powdery mildew, blight, crown rot, root rot, brown rot, bud rot, fruit rot, sudden wilt, canker, apple black spot scab, bacterial diseases, Septoria, anthracnose and pink rot.

“Because Agri-Fos Plus is the most concentrated liquid product on the market, growers have the ability to be so much more efficient,” said Krenz. “They will make fewer passes across the field, use less water and fuel, decrease environmental waste and use fewer jugs.”

To learn more about Agri-Fos Systemic Fungicide Plus, visit www.vividlifesci.expert/products.

agronomy, Company Announcement, Farm Management, Fungicides

USDA Announces Additional 2016 CRP Funding

Taylor Truckey Leave a Comment

nrcsSecretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack yesterday afternoon announced $150 million in funding is available through the Conservation Stewardship Program (CSP) for agricultural producers. During the 2016 fiscal year, the Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) plans to add an estimated 10 million acres to the rolls of CSP.

“The Conservation Stewardship Program is one of our most popular programs with producers because it results in real change on the ground by boosting soil and air quality, conserving clean water and enhancing wildlife habitat,” Vilsack said. “With this investment, we’ll be able to build on the already record number of acres enrolled in USDA’s conservation programs, enabling producers to achieve higher levels of conservation and adopt new and emerging conservation technologies on farms, ranches and forests.”

NRCS accepts applications for CSP throughout the year, but producers should submit applications by March 31 to USDA service centers to ensure they are considered for enrollment in 2016. Participants with existing CSP contracts that will expire on Dec. 31, 2016 have the option to renew to achieve higher levels of conservation on their lands. Applications to renew are also due by March 31.

NRCS also makes CSP available to producers as an additional opportunity to participate in regional landscape-level conservation efforts including the Sage Grouse Initiative, Lesser Prairie-Chicken Initiative, Longleaf Pine Initiative and Ogallala Aquifer Initiative.

Funding is available for more than 100 kinds of enhancements nationwide to help participants:

  • Improve soil quality through use of cover crops, conservation crop rotations and other activities that increase soil productivity.
  • Use water wisely and improve water quality through enhancements such as more-efficient irrigation systems and weather monitoring.
  • Restore habitat for wildlife and pollinators such as the greater sage-grouse, lesser prairie-chicken and monarch butterfly through the use of better grazing systems and improved plant management.
  • A CSP self-screening checklist is available to help producers determine if the program is compatible with their operation.

    Applicants will work with NRCS to complete a resource inventory of their land to determine existing and new conservation activities. The applicant’s conservation performance will be used to determine eligibility, ranking and payments.

    Conservation, Cover Crops, CRP, Farm Management, NRCS, USDA

    Trimble, Vantage Partner to Serve Precision Ag

    Kelly Marshall Leave a Comment

    Vantage TrimbleWith the field of precision agriculture growing quickly, Trimble is ready to meet the challenges and better serve the farmers using their technology.  The company has just announced they will be extending their distribution channel with a global network of independent distribution partners.  This new Vantage distribution network will offer precision expertise to growers, advisors, retailers, co-operatives and local dealers.  The Vantage partnership allows Trimble to have the complete precision agriculture portfolio and the ability to advise growers and their team on technology-based solutions for improved efficiency and productivity.

    Vantage distributors will be required to offer a premier level of technical service, customer service and support capabilities for operations of all shapes and sizes.  All partners will complete extensive training to ensure the quality of service.  Technicians will be trained in install, set up and support of the entire Trimble precision portfolio.  That portfolio has grown from guidance and flow and application control systems to include solutions for irrigation, agri-serivces, plant health monitoring, soil analysis, aerial imaging, variable rate application, and total farm and data management with the Connected Farm solution.

    Currently the network of 120 dealers worldwide is set to be completed in the next 36 months.

    “We are excited to launch the Vantage distribution network to better support the increasingly sophisticated technology needs in the agriculture industry worldwide,” said Darryl Matthews, senior vice president and sector head ofTrimble. “We expect Vantage regional partners to become the local ‘professional services’ experts who assist growers and their advisors with making precision technology work seamlessly across increasingly complex farming operations. The end result for the grower is maximized productivity and efficiency.”

    Agribusiness, technology, Trimble

    Poll Shows Chesapeake Bay Voters Value Local Farmers

    Taylor Truckey Leave a Comment

    afbfThe American Farm Bureau Federation recently conducted a poll of registered voters who reside in the Chesapeake Bay Watershed regarding water resource policy. The survey showed that nearly 3 out of 4 residents (1,042 surveyed) in the Watershed say state and local government should have authority over federal government when it comes to water resources. When regulations are needed, nearly half say they trust state and local governments, compared to only 28 percent who trust the federal government.

    “Residents of the Chesapeake Bay region believe their local governments should have authority when it comes to protecting their water, and, understandably, they trust state and local authorities much more than they do the federal government,” said Ellen Steen, general counsel for AFBF.

    The Morning Consult poll looked at voter opinion on a range of issues related to the Environmental Protection Agency’s regulatory “blueprint” for the Chesapeake Bay that sets strict federal limits across the region for local land uses such as farming, forestry and development. AFBF has asked the Supreme Court to review the EPA rule, which it believes to be unlawful. The case is American Farm Bureau Federation v. EPA (15-599).

    When it comes to ensuring the quality of rivers, streams and creeks, 74 percent said that state and local communities should be primarily responsible and only 18 percent said the federal government should have the primary responsibility. More than three in four respondents (77 percent) said local or state governments should be most responsible for regulating how people use land or produce food. Only 14 percent favored the federal government.

    While six in 10 voters familiar with the EPA’s regulations initially expressed their support, after being informed of how the rules might affect them locally, that support plummeted to just 39 percent, with 45 percent of the voters opposing them.

    The results show that respondents were less likely to support EPA Chesapeake Bay regulations if they were going to put local farmers out of business due to increased costs or restrictions. The poll results show that those living in the Bay care about taking care of the water and water quality, but are interested in finding less intrusive ways for states to take the lead instead of federal regulations.

    Slides highlighting the poll can be found on the AFBF site. Results from the full survey have a margin of error of ±3 percent.

    AFBF, Ag Group

    CTIC Executive Director Moving On

    Cindy Zimmerman Leave a Comment

    scanlonKaren Scanlon, who has served as executive director for the Conservation Technology Information Center (CTIC) since 2006, has accepted a position at Dairy Management, Inc. to help support sustainability and social responsibility for the U.S. dairy industry.

    “We’re sad to see her leave CTIC, but are delighted that Karen has found an exciting new role in the agricultural sustainability space,” said Alan Ayers of Bayer CropScience, CTIC board chair. “Karen has done a great job and has been very successful in moving this organization to new heights, which will ease the transition into new leadership.”

    ctic-logo“CTIC has grown significantly in size and scope under Karen’s tenure, becoming a key source of insight on conservation systems, cover crops, nutrient management and economic sustainability for farmers,” Ayers added. “CTIC’s Conservation in Action Tours have set the bar for connecting conservation-oriented people with each other and with the innovative farming systems on the ground. Additionally, the organization has dramatically increased its collaborative projects to become even more effective in building local capacity and championing conservation farming.”

    The board has appointed a search committee to find a leader up to the challenge of managing their dedicated staff, diverse projects and programs and vibrant organization. Prospective candidates can find more information at www.ctic.org or email the search committee at CITC@CTIC.org.

    Conservation, CTIC

    RIB Products Simplify Grower Compliance

    Taylor Truckey Leave a Comment

    NCGA-Logo-3Refuge-in-a-bag (RIB) products continue to simplify how growers meet refuge requirements in the Corn Belt. In a survey by the Compliance Assurance Program (CAP), many growers surveyed in the Corn Belt planted exclusively RIB products, while all planted at least one refuge in a bag product. The National Corn Growers Association is pleased with the continued increase in use of RIB products.

    The Compliance Assurance Program, implemented by the Agricultural Biotechnology Stewardship Technical Committee (ABSTC), is designed to improve compliance and includes on-farm refuge assessments, an online survey, IRM education and awareness.

    “We are pleased to see that growers have rapidly adopted refuge-in-a-bag products to meet refuge requirements. Refuge compliance, whether through planting structured refuges or using refuge-in-a-bag products, is important to help preserve Bt corn technology durability” said Mark Kimm, ABSTC IRM subcommittee co-chair.

    Highlights of the survey indicate a strong adoption of refuge-in-a-bag products, which include Bt and refuge seed interspersed in a single bag or container. In 2015, the majority of growers surveyed planted the required refuge size on their farms and planted it within the required distance for all of their Bt corn fields. Furthermore, the survey indicated that the percentage of growers not planting any refuge acres continues to be low.

    The ABSTC continues to promote educational programs and strategies to preserve the efficacy of Bt technology. In addition, the ABSTC partners with NCGA to ensure that NCGA’s membership and networks are fully informed of refuge requirements and the CAP. A collaboration supporting insect resistance management and the use of best management practices for corn rootworm (CRW) has provided readily accessible information at www.ncga.com/cornrootworm. The campaign also includes advertisements and editorials in local publications that include best management practices on how to help protect fields from corn rootworm.

    “This type of collaboration is vital to the industry’s efforts to showcase the benefits of best management practices – such as crop rotation, scouting, and trait selection,” said John Linder, chairman of the National Corn Growers Association Trade Policy and Biotechnology Action Team. “The industry is committed to the success of the grower. The availability of refuge in bag products and educational programs provide our growers options that help manage challenging on-farm situations, as well as durability and stewardship of the industry’s trait technologies.”

    Read the full release here.

    Corn, NCGA, Planting

    Bayer Rejects EPA Request to Halt Belt® Sales

    Cindy Zimmerman Leave a Comment

    bayer-beltBayer is rejecting a request by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to voluntarily cancel the uses of flubendiamide insecticide, marketed as Belt® in the United States, and instead will seek a review of the product’s registration through an administrative law hearing.

    According to a company release, Bayer believes EPA is exaggerating the environmental risk of the product and “would deny farmers access to a critical pest management tool.” Flubendiamide is approved for use on more than 200 crops, including corn, soybeans, cotton, grapes, tree nuts, pome fruit and stone fruit.

    Bayer strongly disagrees with the EPA’s methodology, which is based on theoretical models and assumptions that exaggerate risk. Years of water monitoring studies have shown residues of flubendiamide and its metabolite are well within safe levels established for aquatic invertebrates.

    “We are disappointed the EPA places so much trust on computer modeling and predictive capabilities when real-world monitoring shows no evidence of concern after seven years of safe use,” said Dr. Peter Coody, Bayer’s Vice President of Environmental Safety.

    While under review, farmers and retailers can continue to buy, sell and use the product in their operations.

    Bayer CropScience, Crop Protection, Insecticide

    Cotton Council Planting Intentions Survey Released

    Cindy Zimmerman Leave a Comment

    cotton-councilThe National Cotton Council (NCC) 35th Annual Early Season Planting Intentions Survey indicates U.S. cotton producers intend to plant 9.1 million cotton acres this spring, up 6.2 percent from 2015.

    Upland cotton intentions are 8.9 million acres, up 5.7 percent from 2015, while extra-long staple (ELS) intentions of 208,000 acres represent a 31.2 percent increase, according to the survey results announced at the NCC’s 2016 Annual Meeting in Dallas, Texas.

    Dr. Jody Campiche, the NCC’s vice president Economics & Policy Analysis, said, “Planted acreage is just one of the factors that will determine supplies of cotton and cottonseed. Ultimately, weather, insect pressures and agronomic conditions play a significant role in determining crop size.”

    She said that with abandonment set at 11 percent for the United States, Cotton Belt harvested area totals 8.1 million acres. Using an average U.S. yield per harvested acre of 831 pounds generates a cotton crop of 14.0 million bales, with 13.4 million upland bales and 595,000 ELS bales.

    The NCC questionnaire, mailed in mid-December 2015 to producers across the 17-state Cotton Belt, asked producers for the number of acres devoted to cotton and other crops in 2015 and the acres planned for the coming season. Survey responses were collected through mid-January.

    Campiche noted, “History has shown that U.S. farmers respond to relative prices when making planting decisions. During the survey period, the cotton December futures contract averaged just under 65 cents per pound, which is very similar to year-ago levels. However, corn and soybean prices are 8-12 percent below year ago levels, so price ratios of cotton to competing crops are a bit more favorable than in 2015.”

    Read more here.

    Cotton, Planting