The More You Know

In Biotechnology, Environmental, Farming, Food, Food Prices, Media, Production by Cathryn

The More You KnowRemember the PSA’s that used to run with a tagline of “The More You Know?” They provided a helpful little piece of info on a broad array of subject? Today, Real Clear Science writer Ross Pomeroy offered up a succinct PSA of his own correcting misconceptions about organic and conventional agriculture with scientific information.

So what is the 15-second sound bite? Produce, whether conventional or organic, is equally safe and nutritious.

His story, “The Biggest Myth about Organic Farming,” examines the scientific realities behind many common consumer misconceptions. From exploring whether one method is healthier to explaining organics are grown using pesticides too, Pomeroy pummels the marketing hype which fosters fear and gives way to guilt among well-intentioned shoppers.

To read the full article, click here.

The truth is simple. Consumers have many choices. American farmers work to grow healthy, nutritious foods, and American shoppers have the right to decide what they prefer to purchase. What consumers need to know though is the facts that empower them to make the best decisions for their families.

The more you know about American farming, the more you know what an incredible, innovative industry it is, and the more you know about the wide variety of production options which all provide equally nutritious, healthy food for people in a way that is equally good for the environment.

So, take a moment to share his story. The more we all know, the better off we will be.

The Kentucky Bourbon Industry

In Audio, CUTC by Chuck

Kristin MeadorsIf you’re going to have a Corn Utilization Conference why not start with America’s Native Spirit – Bourbon? That’s what our keynote speaker, Kristin Meadors, Director of Government and Regulatory Affairs for the Kentucky Distillers Association, did for us. She told us all about bourbon and how important it is to the Kentucky economy. She brought along her “little friends” to give away to people who asked a question after her presentation.

Some interesting facts include that there are more barrels of bourbon aging in Kentucky right now, 4.9 million, than there are people and horses in the state. Nearly 60% of every bottle of spirits in Kentucky goes to taxes. Talk about high taxation! I spoke with Kristin before her presentation.

Interview with Kristin Meadors

Learn more about the Kentucky bourbon industry from Kristin’s speech.

Kristin Meadors Keynote Address

2014 CUTC Photo Album

NCGA President Opens Corn Utilization Tech Conference

In Audio, CUTC by Chuck

cutc-14-martinThe 2014 Corn Utilization and Technology Conference is taking place in Louisville, Kentucky this week. During the opening session National Corn Growers Association (NCGA) president Martin Barbre welcomed attendees to the semi-annual event that this year focuses on wet and dry milling technologies and new uses.

Barbre says the event brings together researchers with the common goal of facilitating the next ground-breaking technologies and corn-based products of the future. “It’s a great place for researchers to see what others are doing,” he said. “We also have a very good international focus with visitors and attendees from all four corners of the world.”

I had chance to chat with Martin about CUTC as well as some other important issues of interest to corn farmers, such as the newly passed Water Resources Reform and Development Act (WRRDA), the EPA’s proposed Waters of the United States rule, and exports.

You can listen to that interview here: Interview with NCGA president Martin Barbre

2014 CUTC Photo Album

In Battle Against Misinformation, Barbre Leads by Example

In Activism, Biofuels, Ethanol, Media by Cathryn

NCGA President Martin Barbre put pen to paper this week to correct an anti-ethanol article run by the St. Louis Post Dispatch. Taking decisive action to address the misinformation published, Barbre not only shed light on an important subject for readers but also led by example.

To read “Opinion Piece on Ethanol Gets Three Things Wrong,” click here.

So often, farmers see, hear or read fallacies about their industry perpetuated in the media. It is easy to fall victim to inertia. It is easy to get worked up among one’s peers. It takes greater effort and even a bit of hutzpah to speak out publicly, answering back critics in a respectful, well-considered manner. Yet, it is only in using your voices, your energy and your knowledge that you can become an advocate and shape the world around you.

Newspapers accept letters to the editor and opinion pieces every day. Likewise, calling the local television or radio newsroom producer can yield results too. So, take the initiative. Write a letter, offer to speak as an expert on a news program and provide a farmer’s point of view. The first step away from that resting position is the hardest; realize it gets easier from there.

Appreciation Award Presented at CUTC

In CUTC, Education by Chuck

Tom Mueller and Dean EppleyDuring the 2014 Corn Utilization Technology Conference in Louisville, KY a special presentation was made by Tom Mueller, Chairman of the NCGA Research and Business Development Action Team. Tom is a corn grower from Illinois.

He presented a plaque to the Indiana Corn Marketing Council for their significant support of the newly named Gary Lamie Graduate Student Poster Competition. Accepting was Dean Eppley who is a director for Indiana Corn and member of the RBD Action Team.

Tom Mueller and Kathleen LamieThe action team chose to name the competition for Gary Lamie since he was so passionate about helping students.

Gary was president of the Indiana Corn Marketing Council but passed away last year.

Gary’s wife Kathleen was in attendance to receive a memorial plaque in his name and spoke a few words of appreciation.

2014 CUTC Photo Album

Support Solid Science, Speak Out for Solid Journalism

In Activism, Biotechnology, General, Media by Cathryn

This weekend, The Washington Post stood up to the fear-fueled tactics of anti-GMO activists in a brilliant editorial, “Genetically Modified Crops Could Help Improve the Lives of Millions.” The piece, which points out the incredible benefit GMOs offer for both farmers and anyone who depends upon them, denounces the anti-GMO movement for its promotion of mandatory labeling and outright bans.

Noting that consumers wishing for whatever reason to avoid GMOs can do so by simply buying food bearing the “organic” label, the Post brings common sense back into a discussion where it often has been sorely lacking. Furthermore, the piece focuses on the real victims of the anti-GMO movement – the starving and malnourished stating:

“The prospect of helping to feed the starving and improve the lives of people across the planet should not be nipped because of the self-indulgent fretting of first-world activists.”

Discussing both the anti-GMO laws passed in Oregon and other states, and proposed labeling that would “stigmatize products with a label that suggests the potential for harm,” the editors take a straight forward position in defense of this important technology saying:

“Voters and their representatives should worry less about “Frankenfood” and more about the vast global challenges that genetically modified crops can help address.”

Predictably, a small but vocal contingent of science-eschewing activists launched an immediate assault in the comments section. Clearly, the level-headed, clearly constructed piece pointed out both the logical fallacies in their arguments and the real results their proposed policies would inflict.

Take a stand in support of The Washington Post’s editorial staff. Click here to make sure the voices of farmers and those who depend on them are not drowned out. The Post took a stand which many have longed to see in mass media, one that is supported by science and un-intimidated by the fringe. Let them know that their efforts did not fall upon deaf ears.

Corn is Coming Along

In Farming by Cindy

ky-corn-14There are a few states that are still struggling, but overall the corn crop is off to a great start.

Lots of farmers were in the fields over the Memorial Day holiday, planting over one fourth of the nation’s crop last week to tie the five year average at 88 percent, according to USDA. Emergence is catching up with 60 percent of the crop out of the ground, just four points behind the average.

“Modern farm technology allowed farmers across the country to spring into action and plant at a pace unimaginable just a few decades ago,” said National Corn Growers Association President Martin Barbre of Illinois. “America’s corn farmers can plant faster, taking better advantage of shorter windows of time, and this definitely benefits America’s economy and consumers in the end. Today, we can produce abundance in the face of adversity.”

Check out the Wall Street Journal’s look about “Planting Corn at Warp Speed” – people need to know this stuff!

Put Your FFA Jacket in the Smithsonian?

In Current News, Farming, General by Mark

You know how they refer to outlaw motorcycle gangs like Hell’s Angels as 1 percenters? Well, I jokingly referred to the omnipresent blue corduroy jacket ffa jacket historicalwearing FFA members in high school as 2 percenters. That’s because only about 2 percent of the population had a real shot at becoming a farmer and feeding the world.

There are more than 20 million jobs in this country that are in related agricultural fields but the number of people who will make a career of farming is even lower today. Pretty elite company and many never parted with their old trusty jacket. Now you might have a shot to put yours in the Smithsonian museum.

No, I am not kidding. A new exhibit entitled “American Enterprise” is scheduled to open in the Smithsonian’s American History Museum next summer and agriculture will be well represented in the exhibit including FFA. Specifically, they are looking for a jacket that tells a great personal story and how FFA affected the wearer’s life.

If “Old Blue” was retired years ago the Smithsonian also wants to hear your story anyway about how FFA gave you purpose and direction and landed you on a tractor instead of a motorcycle.


Fight Back Against AAA

In Ethanol, State Groups by Cindy

If the president of AAA had to take a true/false test on ethanol, he would probably score FFF.

According to AAA President & CEO Bob Darbelnet, “More than 90 percent of the vehicles on the road today are not approved by manufacturers to use E15, including most 2001-2013 models.” Notice how he carefully words this misrepresentation “not approved by manufacturers.” This is based on the owner’s manuals of the vehicles, which were all written before extensive testing proved that higher blends of ethanol are perfectly safe for them, allowing the government to approve the use of E15 blends in 2001 and newer vehicles.

aaa-cancelThis November 2013 statement by Darbelnet was used by the St. Louis Post-Dispatch in an article about Missouri approving the retail sale of E15 this month.

That made Missouri Corn Growers CEO Gary Marshall mad enough to cancel his 33-year membership with AAA and write a letter to Darbelnet explaining why and pointing out the facts.

“Approximately 80 percent of the vehicles on the road today are 2001 or newer and approved by the EPA to use the ethanol blend,” wrote Marshall. “In terms of possible engine damage, E15 is sold in 12 other states with no issues reported. We are unaware of AAA’s Roadside Assistance program picking up a single driver stranded alongside the road due to an engine issue caused by E15.”

If your organization is concerned about warranties, it should be noted E15 wasn’t approved by EPA when many vehicle owner’s manuals were written. Just like aftermarket fuel additives, such as stabilizers and octane boosters, specific fuels or additives are not always listed in a vehicle’s owner manual. According to the Renewable Fuels Association, use of these non-mentioned fuels and fuel additives does not necessarily void a vehicle warranty. In fact, vehicle manufacturers may not deny a warranty claim based on use of a different fuel if that fuel did not contribute to the problem for which the warranty claim is made.

Marshall informed Darbelnet that he is canceling his membership because he refuses “to support an organization so clearly aligned with the oil industry.” Every member of my family is also a long-time AAA member. I just used it last week when I was driving to Ft. Lauderdale with my oldest daughter to see my family and our car broke down halfway into a 10 hour trip. I’ve never had a problem with their service and it gives me great piece of mind to know that our daughters have someone to call if they have car trouble.

However, there are alternatives. According to Consumer Reports, there’s actually “an army of other businesses” offering roadside assistance plans – including insurance companies, carmakers, oil companies, credit-card issuers, even cell-phone service providers.

We’re looking at our options now and plan to cancel our AAA membership as soon as possible. No reason to support a company so outspokenly against a fuel we believe it and the farmers who make it possible.

GMO Bans Threaten Farming Freedom

In Biotechnology by Cindy

“This is just the beginning,” says Rebecca Spector with the Center for Food Safety about new laws passed this week in two Oregon counties banning the cultivation of genetically engineered (GE) crops.

no-farmsAnd that is a scary thought. We’re talking about making laws telling farmers they cannot grow perfectly legal crops. The initiatives in both Josephine County and Jackson County passed overwhelmingly – by a whopping 32% in one of them! These counties border California and produce mainly fruit, potatoes and livestock.

Oregon has a right-to-farm law and last year the state legislature passed a law preempting local governments from regulating genetically engineered crops. However, since Jackson County’s GMO measure was already approved for the ballot, it was exempted from that bill. And supporters of the ban say it is “well crafted” to withstand a legal challenge to the right-to-farm law and Oregon’s constitution.

Farmers in Oregon are understandably worried. “This isn’t Monsanto or Syngenta, these are local farms that have been farming the way they have chosen here in the valley for generations,” said Ian Tolleson of the Oregon Farm Bureau. “Regrettably ideology has won over sound science and common sense.”

Indeed. And what are farmers to do about it? How on earth are we to win this battle with only sound science and common sense on our side? Remember, this is just the beginning, and the very future of farming is at stake.