Posted By Cindy October 13, 2014
With a record corn crop being harvested, exports are more important than ever. The United States exported more than 11 percent of the U.S. corn supply to over 100 countries in the 2013/2014 marketing year, which U.S. Grains Council president and CEO Tom Sleight says is a nice recovery from lost market share after the drought of 2012.
“Now it’s time to really dig in and dig in hard … recoup our market share, recoup our sales,” said Sleight. “With an abundant, competitively priced crop, plus our reputation for quality and contract and deliveries, we’ve been able to get back where we needed to be.”
U.S. corn exports to Japan enjoyed a powerful rebound in the just completed marketing year, with USDA reporting exports and outstanding sales of 11.8 million metric tons (465 million bushels). “In Japan, we’ve had a 90 plus percent market share since April,” said Sleight.
Heading into the 2014/2015 marketing year, the Council has more plans to develop new markets for U.S. corn. “We have nine offices around the world, spending about 40% of our resources in Asia, another 40% in the western hemisphere,” Sleight said. “The other 20% in the middle part of the world – the Middle East, north Africa, very key market for us.” With hostilities and Ebola to contend with in those areas, Sleight said they are being mindful of safety and security issues.
In this interview, Sleight also talks about the upcoming Export Exchange, global biotechnology education challenges, the situation in China, and the potential for current trade negotiations to boost grain exports. Interview with Tom Sleight, US Grains Council
Posted By Cindy October 13, 2014
Researchers at Purdue University have identified a set of genes that can be used to naturally boost the provitamin A content of corn, which could help fight vitamin A deficiency in developing countries, as well as macular degeneration right here at home.
The human body can convert provitamin A carotenoids into vitamin A, which plays key roles in eye health and the immune system, as well as in the synthesis of certain hormones. Vitamin A deficiency causes blindness in 250,000 to 500,000 children every year, half of whom die within a year of losing their eyesight, according to the World Health Organization. Insufficient carotenoids may also contribute to macular degeneration in the elderly, a leading cause of blindness among the elderly in Europe and the U.S.
“This study gives us the genetic blueprint to quickly and cost-effectively convert white or yellow corn to orange corn that is rich in carotenoids – and we can do so using natural plant breeding methods, not transgenics,” said Professor of Agronomy Torbert Rocheford. Identifying the genes that determine carotenoid levels in corn kernels will help plant breeders develop novel biofortifed corn varieties for Africa and the U.S. The dark orange color of these corn varieties also makes them more culturally acceptable to consumers in African countries where yellow corn is generally fed only to animals, Rocheford said.
Note that he said this can be done by “natural” plant breeding, not “transgenics” which is another word for genetic modification. Genetically modified Golden Rice, which has been around for a decade now, was developed specifically to address vitamin A deficiencies in developing countries yet has been maligned and protested by GMO critics. Let’s hope they can speed up the “natural” process and get orange corn out there before too many more hundreds of thousands of children die.
Read more about orange corn from Purdue.
Posted By Cathryn October 9, 2014
Last night, Jimmy Kimmel dished up a hearty helping of laughs seasoned with some satirical truth in a segment based on the Consumer Reports story on GMOs published earlier this week.
In the segment, a man-on-the-street crew asks farmers market consumers two questions. First, do they avoid GMOs? Second, do they know what the acronym GMO actually means?
For anyone who has tracked the correlation between common opinion on GMOs and factual knowledge of this technology, the results will seem predictable. For anyone who has followed just mainstream media coverage and first confronts this realization during a late night comedy show, they may be a bit shocking.
Why? While the vast majority of interviewees gaspingly reply that they try and avoid GMOs with great aplomb, all but one questioned has no clue what GMOs are. Those asked have only vague, convoluted explanations for their avoidance.
To watch the clip, click here.
The point has been made many times, but it seems to need reiteration. The more your know about GMO, the less likely you are to buy into bogus anti-GMO brainwashing.
Get real answers to you GMO questions by clicking here.
Posted By Cindy October 8, 2014
Once upon a time, when farming was a primary occupation in our country, listening to farm news on the radio was virtually a ritual, particularly in the morning and during the noon hour.
Today so much of our news is received on our computers and smartphones that agricultural reporting has gone increasingly digital. We have farm publications in the radio and TV business and farm broadcasters online doing podcasts and print versions of their stories. What’s next?
Well, if you use your smartphone to listen to music through such applications as Pandora and I Heart Radio, getting farm news the same way is just around the corner. Farm Journal Broadcast has just announced the upcoming launch of “My Farm Radio,” a 24/7 digital mobile radio channel focused on providing news, weather, markets and entertainment for farmers and ranchers.
The “My Farm Radio” app is scheduled to launch at the beginning of November and will allow listeners to pick and choose what they want to hear, when they want to hear it, featuring both a “live stream” experience and programs “on-demand”.
Farm Journal is betting this will be a winner for farmers and ranchers – what do you think?
Posted By Cindy September 30, 2014
The corn harvest nationwide is running behind average for this time of year and just a bit ahead of last year, but the crop continues to look good.
According to USDA, the condition of the corn crop remains 74% good to excellent, 60% of the crop is mature, and 12% was harvested as of Sunday. All states are behind normal pace in the harvest.
Meanwhile, there’s more grain in the bins than there was a year ago at this time. USDA’s newest Grain Stocks report shows 1.24 billion bushels of old crop corn in all positions as of September 1, up 50 percent from the same time last year. Of the total stocks, 462 million bushels of corn were stored on farms and 774 million bushels were stored off the farm, up 68 and 42 percent from the prior year, respectively. The U.S. corn disappearance totaled 2.62 billion bushels during June-August, up from 1.95 billion bushels during the same period last year.
The Illinois Corn Growers Facebook page has been showcasing harvest photos from around the state, including this one here submitted by Jordan Miles. So, how is your harvest going?
And don’t forget — You can enter your harvest pictures in the competition at Fields-of-Corn.com.
Posted By Cindy September 29, 2014
Coming up October 20-22 in Seattle is the 2014 Export Exchange sponsored by the Renewable Fuels Association and the U-S Grains Council to bring international coarse grain buyers and U.S. suppliers together, with a particular focus on the ethanol co-product distillers grains for livestock feed. More than 180 international buyers and end-users are expected to meet and build relationships with more than 300 domestic suppliers in attendance at this event held every two years.
RFA president and CEO Bob Dinneen says the Export Exchange is more important than ever right now. “We export about 25% of our distiller’s feed and in the past more than half of that has gone to China,” said Dinneen. “China is making export of distiller’s feed to that country today a bit more challenging today with their concerns about GMO.”
Expressing his opinion that China’s concerns are primarily about price and politics, Dinneen said this year’s Export Exchange will include an educational session on biotechnology, “but more importantly we’ll have buyers from more than 33 other countries” to build markets beyond China.
Registration is still open for the event and USGC Industry Relations Director Lyndsey Erb-Sharkey talks about what is planned for this year’s Export Exchange in this interview. Interview with Lyndsey Erb-Sharkey
Posted By Cindy September 25, 2014
It was 1997 when former President Jimmy Carter penned an op-ed for The Washington Times entitled “Forestalling Famine With Biotechnology.” He noted then that “extremist groups in affluent nations have begun to mount attacks against plant biotechnology” and that they were also concerned “that fertilizer and pesticides will “poison” the earth’s farmland, even when used in moderate amounts.”
Carter called that thinking “dangerously misguided” and said it would be “grievous that we have within our power the ability to prevent starvation, but fail to act on it.”
“Responsible biotechnology is not the enemy; starvation is,” he concluded.
That was 17 years ago when agricultural biotechnology was in its very infancy. A new study has taken a look at livestock productivity and health data from more than 100 billion animals covering a 29 year period from prior to 1996 when all animal feed was non-GMO, and the years since then as use has increased to more than 90%. The study done by animal biotechnology specialist Alison Van Eenennaam with the University of California-Davis conclusively found no abnormal trends in livestock health since GMO crops became commonly used as livestock feed. “Although this is field data, it really supports the wealth of scientific studies that have shown no deleterious effects from consuming genetically engineered feed in our livestock populations,” said Van Eenennaam. Meanwhile, the National Academy of Sciences has just undertaken a comprehensive independent study of genetically engineered crops, sponsored in part by USDA.
The question is, will any results matter to the anti-GMO extremist groups that Carter warned about in 1997, to whom no amount of scientific evidence on the safety of genetically engineered crops will suffice. These groups consistently claim research on GMOs has been limited, is inconclusive, or is biased because it was funded by the industry.
These activist organizations are the enemies of biotechnology and arguably the enemies of our world’s very future. “Without adequate food supplies at affordable prices, we cannot expect world health or peace,” Carter said in 1997. The world could well be a better place if we truly turned our swords into plowshares and spears into pruninghooks and got on with the business of feeding hungry people.
Posted By Cathryn September 22, 2014
Let’s get one thing straight from the get go. Dr. Oz is a professional celebrity who hawks his opinions for money. Whether fear-mongering or shilling for “magic pills,” he makes exaggerated, even unsubstantiated claims to get attention. Attention turns into ratings. Ratings turn into money.
There is one reliable way to stop his bogus claims. Turn off your television. Tell your friends how bogus he is. Explain that he is not watching out for their best interests. Repeat the above paragraph.
If everyone ignores him, he will go away.
With that said, Dr. Oz still basks in the glow of the Oprah-effect. Her blessing radiates like a golden halo around his head. She has sprinkled fairy dust on his tongue and now his words come out as if proclaimed by an angel sitting on its tip, chiming like golden bells in the ears of many.
What makes his brand of show business particularly heinous is that he capitalizes upon this image and on the M.D. behind his name.
Today, he will air a show bashing what he calls “GMO pesticides.” From the information already online, it appears to focus on Dow’s Enlist product which is still in the regulatory process. The episode’s preview shows children eating fruits and vegetables, flashes words like “president” in red type and contains the great Oz’s melodramatic warnings of an oncoming Armageddon.
The fact Enlist is meant for use on row crops and not fruits and veggies aside, the heavy-handed tactics employed conjuring the imagery used in dramatic interpretations of conspiracy theories.
The blatant fear mongering relates back to a letter sent to the EPA by a group of scientists. The “evidence” to which they point has been discredited time and time again. Yet, they trot it out another time as if facts do not matter; baseless fear trumps fact in their logic.
Some might be blinded by the signatories’ titles. Reading to the very end of the document, find the very last line.
“The signers of this letter have done so in their personal capacities. Institutional affiliations are provided only for identification purposes and do not imply any institutional position.”
The signatories have not been given the backing of their respective institutions in this matter. They are acting on their own behalf on this one.
Dr. Oz flashes the names of terrifying illnesses on the screen. He magnifies their claims and ignores the incredibly stringent standards any pesticide must meet to gain EPA approval.
Why would he do this? If you do not wish to simply refer to the first paragraph, consider what Dr. Oz said himself when testifying before Congress on some of the claims made on his show earlier this year.
“I actually do personally believe in the items which I talk about on the show. I passionately study them. I recognize that often times they don’t have the scientific muster to present as fact.”
Passionate or not, he clearly understands that what he says does not always pass for fact. He willingly creates panic and stress amongst those who place their trust in him. His credentials may have meant something once. Now, they seem sullied as he breaks his oath to “first do no harm” every time he misrepresents his program as factual advice provided by a caring doctor.
Together, let’s turn him off. Then, tell those we care about to do the same. Dr. Oz relies upon our complicity to promulgate his propaganda. Shutting him off will shut him down.
Posted By Cathryn September 19, 2014
This weekend, movie goers in select markets across the country will have a chance to find out more about America’s oil addiction and how it can be ended with cleaner, cheaper, American-made fuels as the movie PUMP hits theaters. An all-inclusive look at alternative fuels, PUMP draws consumer attention to both the problem and offers real, immediate solutions.
The documentary film aims to change attitudes about fuel forever. Narrated by Jason Bateman, PUMP tells the story of America’s addiction to oil, from its corporate conspiracy beginnings to its current monopoly today, and explains clearly how Americans can end it – and finally win real choice and competition at the pump.
To watch the PUMP trailer, click here.
The film presents the stark reality that every time consumers fill up their tank there is only one option – gasoline. Since the days of John D. Rockefeller, it has been rigged, and America has been taken for a ride. With a stranglehold on our fuel system that is absolute, most people have no idea there are alternatives.
PUMP presents a sharply focused look at all of the domestically produced, alternative paths to a very different fuel future – where multiple fuels can be used and blended, where the oil monopoly is ended, and where our nation no longer depends on foreign oil. PUMP concentrates on the specific pathway where ethanol, methanol, biofuels, gasoline, natural gas and electric all share the same platform at gas stations across the country, where there is choice and competition. The solution presented is not based on unproven future technologies or wishful thinking. PUMP presents a practical and achievable vision that could be realized in the near term – beginning now.
While the film represents many viewpoints that may not be completely in line with those advocated by groups like the National Corn Growers Association, it shines an important spotlight on the common problem all alternative fuels face. The documentary advocates for consumer choice and an end to Big Oil’s monopoly- a point which America’s farmers can certainly get behind even if they would advocate for an alternative approach.
So learn more about it. This independently-produced film has the potential to highlight an issue of vital importance to both farmers and consumers, which is certainly a step in the right direction.
Find a location playing PUMP or learn more about the movie by clicking here.
Posted By Cindy September 18, 2014
The new Subway ad is not only funny, it offers a great idea for an alternative source of income on the farm, and getting your chores done too!
In the television spot, a young man tells his meal partner at Subway that he’s currently doing “Crop Fit,” a hardcore fitness program “based on 19th Century farming practices” – like pulling a plow and pushing a huge pumpkin.
Why not develop a “Farm Fitness” program? If we can’t get Americans to work on the farm, maybe we can get them to work out on the farm!