Posted By Cindy December 4, 2013
The 2013 harvest is considered completed at this point and the overall consensus is that it was a strange year that turned out well in the end.
Lance Honig with USDA’s National Ag Statistics Service says it looks especially good compared to 2012. “Last year with the extreme drought, we’d be hard pressed not to be above last year,” he said, adding that the growing season this year was certainly different than last year but no more normal. “What is normal these days? Nobody knows what a normal is.”
Despite all the challenges that faced farmers this season, the nation’s corn crop is on track to be a record high 14 billion bushels, according to the November crop production forecast, which was the final one of the season. “So the next report will be the final end-of-season numbers coming out January 10,” said Honig. NASS is beginning the process this week of surveying some 80,000 farmers for that report “so we can capture that actual harvest information from them.”
Leah Guffey interviewed Lance at the National Association of Farm Broadcasting annual Trade Talk last month: Interview with Lance Honig, USDA-NASS
Found this YouTube video from Cross Implement in central Illinois using Luke Bryan’s Harvest Time to help celebrate this special time of year!
Posted By Cindy November 20, 2013
With corn, soybeans, wheat and sorghum growers all part of the Commodity Classic, who thought it could get any bigger?
But it will definitely be bigger in 2016 when Classic joins forces with AG CONNECT expo to become what may well be the biggest farm show on Earth.
“2016 will be the opening salvo into a new bigger, better,” said 2014 Commodity Classic chair Rob Elliott of Illinois. “The synergy aspect of it could be fairly significant.”
I talked with Rob at the NAFB Trade Talk about the partnership for 2016, as well as what is in store for 2014 in San Antonio and a little bit about this season on his farm near Monmouth, Illinois. Interview with Rob Elliott, NCGA
Sara Mooney, AG CONNECT show director with the Association of Equipment Manufacturers, says there are lots of details to work out in the next two years, but they are really excited. “The producers that attended AG CONNECT and our exhibitors and other stakeholders are really going to find that this combined event is really greater than its two parts alone,” she said. “More technology, more engagement with the whole ag community, more experts to talk to, more industry leaders – just more of that quality experience.”
Listen to my interview with Sara here: Interview with Sara Mooney, AEM
2013 NAFB Convention Photo Album
Posted By Cindy November 18, 2013
There was lots of corn commentating going on last week at the 70th annual National Association of Farm Broadcasting (NAFB) annual meeting in Kansas City.
The National Corn Growers Association (NCGA) is a big supporter of the guys and gals who put farm news on radio and television stations and the internet. “It gives us the opportunity to get our message out to the public and to farmers,” said NCGA President Martin Barbre.
NCGA sponsors the welcoming reception for the NAFB and then organization leaders do tons of interviews with the broadcasters during the annual Trade Talk, which is where I interviewed Martin about a number of topics, including but not limited to, the farm bill and WRRDA. Interview with NCGA president Martin Barbre
NCGA First Vice President Chip Bowling of Maryland was also on hand to chat with the broadcasters. He also talked about the farm bill, like everyone else, and about environmental regulations in his area around the Chesapeake Bay that are threatening agricultural producers.
It was especially interesting to farm broadcasters from the Midwest to get a different perspective on corn farming from a producer on the East coast. “In the Mid-Atlantic, we started planting corn right around the first of April, we had a good start and the corn crop just took off from the get-go and grew,” said Chip, noting it was a lot different this year in the Corn Belt. “Obviously with 14 billion bushels coming off, somebody grew a lot of good corn.”
Leah Guffey interviews Chip here: Interview with NCGA first VP Chip Bowling
2013 NAFB Convention Photo Album
Posted By Cindy November 11, 2013
Leroy Perkins is “a white-haired, 66-year-old farmer in denim overalls” who is “agonizing” over whether he should put the “91 acres that he set aside for conservation years ago” into corn production. That is according to an Associated Press “investigative report” on the environmental impact of ethanol being released this week that features Leroy and Wayne County Iowa where he lives.
That’s not the story Leroy thought they were doing when he was contacted by AP reporters in July to talk about “the county fair, along with absentee, out-of-state state landlords and of course, water quality.” During the course of the interview, one of the reporters asked him what he thought about ethanol. “I told them I was for ethanol, I believe in it and we use it in our vehicles and equipment all the time … because it’s a product of the land,” he said. He never expected his interview would be for a “story to put down ethanol.”
The AP print and broadcast story is scheduled for publication after midnight November 12, but a draft copy for promotional purposes was circulated on the internet last week and seen by industry stakeholders and people like Leroy who were quoted in the piece.
Much of the pre-released article is focused on making the case for how ethanol policy is “raping the land” by encouraging more corn acreage. “The AP article tried to paint Wayne County as a poster child for cropland expansion under the RFS but they … omitted some key facts,” said Geoff Cooper, Vice President of Research and Analysis for the Renewable Fuels Association (RFA). “Farmers in Wayne County Iowa planted far more corn in the past than they do today,” he added, noting that 88,000 acres were planted in 1985 compares to 58,000 last year.
Cooper and the RFA have put together a Counterpoint Fact Sheet on AP story which refutes at least 16 direct quotes from the draft article and he says industry representatives have been in touch with the news agency. “There has been some effort to get these factual inaccuracies corrected,” said Cooper. “If the story we saw that was posted last week is the same story that gets rolled out tomorrow morning, that tells us the AP just isn’t concerned about running a factual story.”
The Associated Press supplies content to thousands of print, internet, radio and television outlets around the world.
Listen to the call with Leroy and Geoff here:AP ethanol story fact check call
Posted By Cindy November 5, 2013
After a slow start, the 2013 harvest is pretty much back on schedule in most of the country, but it seems late compared to last year’s record pace.
As of Sunday, USDA reports 73 percent of the corn crop was harvested, two points ahead of average, but more than 20% less than last year at this time. Only a few states are running behind at this point.
Missouri is exactly on pace with the five year average at 82% complete by Sunday. Last week, Missouri Governor Jay Nixon joined the Missouri Corn Growers Association at a grain elevator in the northeast part of the state to celebrate the success of the season’s crop.
“Right now, state corn yields statewide are up and we’re seeing averages pushing well above 125 bushels per acre with some farmers reporting high yields of about 200 bushels per acre in this region,” said Nixon.
MCGA CEO Gary Marshall says the Missouri crop is “one of the largest we’ve ever had” and believes the nation’s crop this year will be “the largest in history.” USDA will be coming out with the latest crop estimate on Friday.
The governor had lots of praise for corn farmers and the added value they provide to the state’s economy in the form of ethanol production and exports. Listen to his remarks here: Missouri Governor Jay Nixon
Pictured here in this photo from MCGA: Acting Director of the Missouri Department of Agriculture Harry Bozoian, Gary Marshall, Gov. Jay Nixon and ADM Director of State Government Relations Chris Riley.
Posted By Cindy November 1, 2013
I’m still suffering from World Food Prize sensory and information overload. If you have never been to this event, you really should go. It is amazing to see and hear farmers, philanthropists, entrepreneurs and researchers from so many nations gathered together for the central cause of feeding people.
World Food Prize Foundation president Ambassador Kenneth M. Quinn says the event has grown so much from the first one-day symposium held in 1987. “We had more people registered this year for the symposium,” he said. “After we got beyond 1200 I almost stopped counting because I wasn’t sure where we were going to put folks!” In addition, there were 350 students and teachers at the event and over 700 attended the Iowa Hunger Summit earlier in the week, a new record.
Quinn marvels at what the World Food Prize has become. “We’ve been able to get to where people now say it’s the Nobel Prize for food and agriculture, and some people say it’s the premier conference in the world on global agriculture and one of the most unique programs to inspire young people,” he said, adding that the Prize was sponsored by General Foods in the very beginning and taken over by Iowa businessman and philanthropist, John Ruan. Interview with WFP President Kenneth Quinn
The 2013 event brought speakers such as Former UK Prime Minister Tony Blair and philanthropist/farmer Howard G. Buffett who joined in announcing new initiatives to address conservation, hunger and poverty issues in Africa.
For one, the Howard G. Buffett Foundation has formed a partnership with John Deere and DuPont Pioneer to promote conservation agriculture adoption and support smallholders and sustainable farming in Africa. The effort will be piloted in Ghana and include a conservation-based, mechanized product suite developed by John Deere; a system of cover crops and improved inputs from DuPont Pioneer; and support for adoption and training on conservation-based practices by the Howard G. Buffett Foundation.
Additionally, Blair announced a collaboration between his Africa Governance Initiative (AGI), the Howard G. Buffett Foundation, and the World Food Prize Foundation to launch the 40 Chances Fellows program – inspired by Buffett’s book, “40 Chances: Finding Hope in a Hungry World” – to encourage innovation in developing market‐based approaches that address food insecurity.
40 Chances Panel discussion
Blair and Buffett Press Conference
They tell me there were a handful of activists outside protesting the World Food Prize honoring of biotechnology, but I never saw them. What I did see inside was lots of positive energy focused on new ways and ideas to feed people. Not “the world” or a “growing planet” – it’s about feeding PEOPLE in the best, most efficient, most productive and most sustainable ways possible.
2013 World Food Prize photos
Posted By Cindy October 24, 2013
Behind this pretty, innocent face is the mind of a brilliant researcher who was honored last week at the World Food Prize for her work in helping to make the maize crop in Africa safer for animals and humans.
Dr. Charity Kawira Mutegi, a 38-year-old researcher from Kenya, received the 2013 Norman Borlaug Award for Field Research and Application in recognition of her efforts to find the cause and a solution to a 2004-05 outbreak of aflatoxicosis in her country which killed 125 people who consumed contaminated grain.
Dr. Mutegi is leading efforts for the development of a biocontrol product in Kenya that can be used to significantly reduce aflatoxin levels in maize by introducing naturally occurring non-toxic strains of the fungus, which have a competitive advantage over the strains that produce the deadly aflatoxin. The technology was developed by USDA’s Agriculture Research Service and locally adapted for use in several African countries. The microbial bio pesticide she and her team are developing – “aflasafe KE01” – is affordable for farmers, is natural and environmentally safe, and once applied to a field, the effects last multiple growing seasons, making it extremely effective.
Listen Dr. Mutegi talk about her research during a World Food Prize press conference: Dr. Charity Mutegi remarks
2013 World Food Prize photos
Posted By Cindy October 24, 2013
The 2013 World Food Prize symposium was probably the most controversial ever with the spotlight on biotechnology but while there may have been a handful of protestors outside the more than 1200 attendees from countries all over the globe seemed to largely be in agreement about the importance of genetically modified crops for the future of our world.
Scientists from two agricultural biotech companies – Monsanto and Syngenta – were honored for their work in the field, but it was Monsanto’s Dr. Robert Fraley who was the focus of the GMO critics. During a press conference with the three laureates, Fraley was asked why he thought Monsanto was the target for critics. “Sometimes that’s frustrating,” said Fraley. “I always assume that means we’ve been really successful and people see us as a leader and that’s part of the responsibility that goes with it.”
Syngenta’s Mary Dell Chilton said she didn’t really understand why Monsanto is the main target of critics but she believes the industry as a whole needs to “have good communications with the public about the safety” of the technology.
The third laureate, Marc Van Montagu of the Institute of Plant Biotechnology Outreach at Ghent University in Belgium, said he believes that the critics have singled out Monsanto as the “villain” because it works better than talking about the industry as a whole. “If you start gossiping about a person, people always start believing gossip – humanity is like that,” he said.
One comment from Dr. Fraley really sticks with me. He said that, considering the thousands of studies and decades of research that have gone into the development of the GMO crops on the market, one of the “rumors” that “hurts him the most” is about their safety. It was as if he was talking about someone calling his baby ugly!
No matter how much people may love to hate Monsanto as a company, it is very important to realize that the motivations of the majority of scientists who have pioneered the work of genetically-modified crops are sincere. It’s not for money, fame or fortune or to help a company sell more product. They truly see their work as a way to help humanity and and for that they deserve our respect and recognition.
Listen to how the laureates answered some tough questions from the media here: World Food Prize Laureates press conference
Posted By Cindy October 18, 2013
Since 2006, Truth About Trade and Technology (TATT) has been bringing farmers from different countries together during World Food Prize week in Des Moines to attend the event and share their knowledge and experiences with each other at the Global Farmer Roundtable. This year there were 16 farmers from 14 countries at the Roundtable, including Wisconsin farmer Jim Zimmerman who is chairman of the National Corn Growers Association Trade Policy and Biotechnology Action Team. Jim is pictured here (back row, second from right) with some of his fellow roundtablers.
Jim told us it was really interesting to spend the week with his fellow farmers around the globe. “There’s a lot of differences, but there’s also a lot of similarities,” Jim said, noting that he was very honored to be nominated and chosen to take part in the event. “Any time that you can participate in an international event like this, it’s a very good learning process.” Interview with Jim Zimmerman
NCGA Chairwoman Pam Johnson of Iowa had a seat at the global roundtable in 2010 and she was happy to reconnect with some of her fellow alumni during this year’s World Food Prize symposium. “There were 20 of us from all over the world,” she said. “We’re all still working and engaged in agriculture in some way to be a leader and to explain why it is biotechnology is so important as a tool for food security.”
Pam was very pleased to see the focus on agricultural biotechnology at World Food Prize this year with the winners all being scientists who have pioneered its development. “Biotechnology is size neutral, it’s good for everyone,” she said, adding that World Food Prize is a great place “for the personal stories and the truth to get out.” Interview with Pam Johnson
2013 TATT Global Farmer Roundtable photos
Posted By Cindy September 19, 2013
The president of the Iowa Board of Regents is a great promoter of agricultural education in the United States as “Today’s Solution for Tomorrow’s World.”
Bruce Rastetter visited the 2013 Farm Progress Show last month to talk about the importance of agricultural education and the vast number of career choices available for students of all backgrounds. “I think the biggest fields are agronomy, plant sciences, the animal science area is growing because of world protein demand, but it’s really the technology, the innovation and the ability to use science to create greater yields,” he told me.
Rastetter says Iowa State University’s College of Agriculture has record enrollment this fall, fourth largest in the country, and nearly every single student has a job by the time they graduate, “with the majority of them having five offers by December of their senior year.”
He believes students with non-ag background will be more interested in agricultural careers if they realize its importance in feeding the world. “If it wasn’t for Norman Borlaug there would be a couple billion of people that would have died in the world. We need to make sure that we encourage an education system that develops the next Norman Boraug for the world,” said Rastetter.
Listen to my conversation with Bruce from Farm Progress Show: Interview with Iowa Board of Regents president Bruce Rastetter
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