Dannon Hosts Forum on Alternative Production

Lizzy Schultz Leave a Comment

dannonThe Dannon Company, along with their farmer partners, concluded their annual two-day forum this week in Lexington, KY as the company works to further develop alternative models of dairy supply to make the company’s yogurt.

This year’s forum follows Dannon’s recent implementation of the Dannon Pledge, which commits to the pursuit of a non-GMO ingredient profile for the products made under the Dannon, Danimals, and Oikos brands, which represent about half of Dannon’s portfolio of products. The company intends to secure independent verification from the Non-GMO Project, requiring that the dairy farmers selling to Dannon for these three brands to convert their cows to non-GMO diets by the end of 2018.

Dannon cites the increased preference from consumers for transparency and “naturality” in their food choices as the driving force behind these changes. Dannon does not cite health or sustainability concerns as the driving force behind the change and will still offer some products made with GMO ingredients.

The company has also recognized the overwhelming consensus among international science organizations, including the National Academies of Science and the World Health Organization, that GMO foods are safe and should be considered nutritionally equal to their non-GMO counterparts.

Dannon also has pledged a commitment to improving sustainable agriculture through projects to improve animal welfare, soil health, water quality and quantity, an increase in biodiversity, and decrease in carbon emission and energy use, stating a hope that the increased commitment to sustainability will yield a reduction in the use of herbicides and pesticides.

Dannon’s choice to market their non-gmo product line alongside their sustainability pledge has rendered a negative reaction among several farm groups and members of the farming community who see the use of GMO technology as a sustainable, beneficial tool, and believe that Dannon is using misleading marketing techniques to communicate a false idea of how GMOs affect the environment.

“We need every tool in the toolbox to help us meet the increasing demands from consumers and be more sustainable,” Nancy Kavazanjian, Wisconsin crop farmer and chair of the United States Farmers & Ranchers Alliance (USFRA) in a teleconference yesterday. “GMOs have given us tools to use less land, to produce more crops per acre, to use fewer inputs in the name of fertilizer and chemical inputs to produce better crops more sustainably and cut our soil loss.”

Agribusiness, Company Announcement, Dairy, dairy farming, Food, GMO, sustainability

Elanco Offers Insight at #ExEx16

Lizzy Schultz Leave a Comment

exex16-elancoOne of the speakers during the general session of the 2016 Export Exchange this week was Todd Armstrong, Senior Director of Global Market Access at Elanco Animal Health, who gave a discussion about balancing customer expectations with the realities of a growing population.

Armstrong discussed some of the major challenges facing food producers today, such as the population growth, technology convergence, and sustainability concerns, and considered how to continue addressing those challenges as consumers continue to place increased pressure on producers to utilize specific production methods.

“From the field to the dinner plate, the consumer is demanding and expecting increased transparency on what happens to their food,” said Armstrong in his speech, where he identified the “clean food” movement that calls on producers to provide options like cage-free eggs, antibiotic-free meat, as a major driving force of the change to consumer perception. “But this clean food movement does not always relate to safe food.”

Armstrong also discussed the importance of staying aware of, and responding to, the way food production is being discussed in the media and online, and addressed the necessity of listening to consumers and their spending plans in order to make decisions about what consumers really want.

The Export Exchange is co-sponsored by the U.S. Grains Council (USGC) and the Renewable Fuels Association (RFA) every other year to bring together international buyers and domestic suppliers of corn, ethanol co-products, sorghum and barley.

Listen to his full presentation here:
Presentation by Todd Armstrong, Elanco Animal Health=

View and download photos from the event here: 2016 Export Exchange Photo Album.

Coverage of Export Exchange 2016 made possible by Coverage of Export Exchange 2016 made possible by the Renewable Fuels Association
Agribusiness, Animal Health, Audio, Communications, consumer, Elanco, ethanol, Export, Grain

Merck Helps #SpeakAg at #TransformFFA

Jamie Johansen Leave a Comment

ffa-16-385-editedMerck Animal Health is a devout supporter of the National FFA Organization, which was evident throughout the 89th National FFA Convention with their sponsorship of the opening session, lanyards and presence in the expo.

I caught up with Cameron Aguiar, national accounts manager, Merck, who said, “FFA is the future of America. We find value in educating kids on the new technologies in animal health and this is a perfect venue to do it.” They also helped promote the National FFA campaign #SpeakAg, helping to provide a voice for FFA members at home, in their chapters, throughout their college years and into a career in agriculture.

Merck Animal Health is focused on technology and innovation. They also recognize the need to educate people of it’s benefits. Cameron said that one way to do so is through FFA members. He said many conversations took place in their booth where they were able to share opportunities for internships, questions students might have on future careers in animal health and what steps they can take to help share the role innovation and technology play in our daily lives.

Listen to my complete interview with Cameron here: Interview with Cameron Aguiar, Merck Animal Health

Be sure to check out even more action by viewing the 89th National FFA Convention & Expo Photo Album.

Coverage of the National FFA Convention is sponsored by
Coverage of the National FFA Convention is sponsored by FMC
Coverage of the National FFA Convention is sponsored by New Holland
Agribusiness, Animal Health, Audio, FFA, Livestock, Merck

Dairy Strong 2017 Registration is Open

Jamie Johansen Leave a Comment

17-dairy-strong-logo-color_webDairy Strong’s 2017 conference, “The Journey Forward” is set for January 18-19 in Madison, WI and registration is now open. Connect with more than 250 farmers representing 135,000 cows along with 400 fellow industry professionals and experts.

Dairy Strong understands farmers are leaders, decision makers, owners and managers. They want to help them take the next steps in progressive business strategies and buying decisions while continually embracing technology.

Keynote speakers include:
– Dana Perino, former White House press secretary, political commentator, New York Times No. 1 best-selling author, and co-host of Fox’s “The Five.”
– Jack Uldrich, acclaimed global futurist, speaker and best-selling author.

Registration and the complete schedule can be found here.

Ag Group, Dairy, Dairy Strong, Events

National Chicken Council Elects New Leadership

Jamie Johansen Leave a Comment

mike-popowyczThe National Chicken Council (NCC) installed new leadership during NCC’s 62nd Annual Conference held in Washington, D.C.

Mike Popowycz, vice chairman and CFO of Case Foods, was installed as 2016-2017 chairman.

Popowycz was elected to the Case Foods Board of Directors in 2005 and to the National Chicken Council Board of Directors in June 2012. Prior to joining the Ohio Division, he spent two years with Bell Atlantic Corporation and seven years with Perdue Farms Incorporated serving in various accounting and tax positions. He received a B.A. in Accounting from Moravian College in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania.

Serving as vice chairman for 2016-2017 is Ben Harrison, president and CEO of Amick Farms, LLC.

ben-harrison-amick-farmsHarrison received his degree in Financial Management in 1990 from Clemson University and worked for Ernst and Young as a junior auditor before joining Amick Farms. He has been employed at Amick Farms since 1991, working in various capacities throughout the company until he became president in 2004.

Harrison is active in the poultry industry and agricultural associations, currently serving on the Board of Directors at NCC and the U.S. Poultry & Egg Association. He also served on the local school board from 2000 – 2012.

New to the officer corps, Mark Kaminsky, COO at Koch Foods, takes over as Secretary-Treasurer.

Kaminsky started his career at Arthur Andersen after receiving his Bachelor’s Degree in Accounting at DePaul University. He began his career with Koch Foods in 1990 on the financial side of the business but learned the operational side, including live processing through Koch’s move to become a vertically integrated poultry company in 1996. He has assisted in Koch’s growth from a one-plant operation to one of the leading poultry companies in the United States, through acquisitions, green field site developments and internal expansion.

Ag Group, Chicken, National Chicken Council

Farm Groups Defend GMOs in Teleconference

Lizzy Schultz Leave a Comment

usfra-logo Leaders from two national farm associations held a teleconference this morning to unveil plans for a “Straight Talk” campaign to engage the food industry in a dialogue on sustainable agriculture production, the marketing practices used to reach consumers, and the intersection of both trends.

The call, hosted by the United States Farmers & Ranchers Alliance (USFRA) and the National Milk Producers Federation (NMPF), follows last week’s decision by six leading national farm organizations to send a letter to Dannon challenging its misleading assertions on the sustainability of the food industry.

“There comes a time when the industry has to step up and challenge when food companies directly misinform consumers about the practices occurring on farms and what those practices mean to the environment,” USFRA CEO Randy Krotz said on the call. “We’ve heard so much about the Right to Know over the past few years, but we really believe the right to know needs to be a wholly accurate conversation.”

The conference hosts included two farmers: Randy Mooney, a dairy farmer from Missouri and chairman of NMPF, and Nancy Kavazanjian, USFRA chairwoman and a crop farmer from Wisconsin. Both expressed frustration with Dannon’s decision to market non-GMO products as sustainable.

nmpf-04“This move away from biotechnology is the exact opposite from the sustainability they claim to be seeking,” said Mooney. “Plain and simple, biotechnology is an advancement in farming technology that has dramatically improved the sustainability of American agriculture for over twenty years.”

Kavazanjian has utilized GMO technology on her operation, seeing it as a valuable tool, and feels that misleading marketing techniques threaten her ability to use the technology in the future.

“This isn’t about advocating for one production method over another, but we need every tool in the toolbox to help us meet the increasing demands from consumers and be more sustainable,” said Kavazanjian. “GMOs have given us tools to use less land, to produce more crops per acre, to use fewer inputs in the name of fertilizer and chemical inputs to produce better crops more sustainably and cut our soil loss.”

Another speaker on the call, Dr. Marty Matlock, University of Arkansas Office for Sustainability Executive Director, offered insight into the comprehensive strategies the industry has implemented in order to utilize technologies like GMO crops to improve the sustainability of production agriculture.

“US agriculture producers have been collaborating for the past decade to create a system-wide process for continuous improvement, and we have this coalescence around this concept that sustainability is about continuous improvement, that sustainability is a journey, not a destination. We don’t say we are sustainable, we say we are becoming more sustainable.” said Matlock.

Listen to comments from Kavazanjian, Matlock, Mooney and Krotz here: Ag Groups Defend GMO Sustainability

Dialogue with reporters: USFRA/NMPF #AgTechTalk

Ag Group, Audio, Conservation, Dairy, GMO, National Milk, sustainability, USFRA

Neogen Selected to Improve Scotland Beef Herd Genetics

Jamie Johansen Leave a Comment

neogenNeogen Corporation has been selected by Scottish Government to perform genomics testing as part of the government’s program to improve the country’s beef herd.

The objective of the Scottish Government’s program, The Beef Efficiency Scheme, is to improve overall herd profitability, and make the country’s beef herd more sustainable — both economically and environmentally. The five-year project is a partnership between Scottish Government and Scotland’s Rural College (SRUC). Neogen’s European GeneSeek laboratory is responsible for the project’s animal genotyping and supply of sampling kits.

“The genotyping will be performed using our new GGP-NG 50K chip and the results that we produce will be used by SRUC, which is developing predictions for improved genetic selection in respect of growth rates, feed conversion, maternal behavior, nutrition practice, and disease resistance for commercial beef farmers,” said Dr. Gary Evans, Neogen’s European business development manager. “We won the contract through a competitive tender issued by Scottish Government, and a part of our success was due to our new European genomics facility in Ayr.”

Scottish beef has long been recognized for its high quality, and beef production is at the heart of Scottish agriculture. With an output in 2013 of about £825m (approximately $1 billion USD) the beef industry alone makes up 26% of Scottish agricultural output — and is the biggest single sector of the Scottish agricultural industry. The country’s climate, soil type and overall topography create ideal conditions for beef cattle to thrive.

All processes, procedures and equipment in Neogen Europe’s new laboratory are a carbon copy of Neogen’s flagship GeneSeek laboratory in Lincoln, Nebraska — which is the largest animal genomics laboratory in the world.

Agribusiness, Beef, Cattle, Genetics, Genomics

Bullard, Webb Receive W.D. Farr Scholarships

Jamie Johansen Leave a Comment

screen-shot-2016-10-26-at-4-12-31-pmTwo graduate students have been presented with W.D. Farr Scholarships for the 2016-17 school year by the National Cattlemen’s Foundation. Each $12,000 award recognizes superior achievement in academics and leadership, and will allow the students to further their study in fields that benefit the cattle and beef industry.

The recipients are:
Brittney Bullard of Wellington, Colo., a Ph.D. candidate in meat science at Colorado State University. Her research focuses on pathogen reduction in beef systems and improving beef quality. She hopes to continue W.D. Farr’s legacy of beef industry improvement throughout her graduate work and her professional career.

Bullard grew up in Santa Maria, Calif., and was active in 4-H showing beef cattle and other livestock. She received her Bachelor of Science degree in animal science from Cal Poly and her Master of Science degree in animal sciences from Colorado State University.

Megan Webb of Brookings, S.D., a Ph.D. candidate in meat science at South Dakota State University. Webb’s dissertation addresses consumer responses to beef production methods, with the goal of gaining economic, marketing and consumer messaging techniques to improve brand differentiation.

Webb’s involvement in the beef industry began on her family’s Angus operation in Burlington, W.V., which has become vertically integrated. She remains involved in the operation, assisting with processing plans and youth FFA projects. She received her Bachelor of Science degree from Texas A&M University and her Master of Science degree from Colorado State University. In her career, Webb hopes to combine science and practical applications in both pre-harvest cattle production management and consumer decision making to drive economic success for the industry.

Ag Group, award, Beef, Cattle, NCBA

FFA Proficiencies Lead to Future Career in Ag

Jamie Johansen Leave a Comment

ffa-16-400-editedWinners of the 2016 National Agricultural Proficiency Awards were announced during the sixth general session at the 89th National FFA Convention & Expo. These awards honor FFA members who, through their Supervised Agricultural Experience (SAE) programs, have developed specialized skills that they can apply toward their future careers. Our two coverage sponsors also sponsored proficiency award categories to further their commitment to youth in agriculture.

New Holland Agriculture sponsored the Dairy Production — Entrepreneurship proficiency and it was awarded to Sabrina L. Portner from the Sleepy Eye FFA Chapter in Minnesota.

Sabrina raises and breeds her own dairy cattle. Receiving her first calf when she was 7, she currently owns a herd of 27 registered Brown Swiss cattle. She has used pedometers to increase heat observations and has conducted a milk quality research project with her herd that has allowed her to discover which mastitis organisms are affecting her cows. Portner is supported by her parents, Mary and Tom, and her FFA advisor, Mary Hoffman.

Listen to my interview with Sabrina as she shares more: Interview with Sabrina Portner, Dairy Production — Ent

ffa-16-401-editedFMC Corporation, Agricultural Solutions sponsored the Agriscience Research — Plant Systems proficiency and it was awarded to Mariah Joy Cox from the Zane Trace FFA Chapter in Chillicothe, Ohio.

Mariah has participated in science fairs since the fourth grade and found that she enjoyed the scientific research process and sharing her results with the judges. Her SAE research has focused on three projects, all related to plant science. She first identified properties of potato starch and their applications to plant-based packaging. Secondly, she compared two varieties of raspberries in terms of phenolics and anthocyanins. And finally, she worked in a lab in Hyberabad, India, testing plots of vegetable soybeans. Cox is supported by her parents, Rachel and Paul, and her FFA advisors, Jennifer Johnston and Aaron Miller.

Listen to my interview with Mariah as she shares more: Interview with Mariah Cox, Agriscience Research — Plant Systems

Be sure to check out even more action by viewing the 89th National FFA Convention & Expo Photo Album.

Coverage of the National FFA Convention is sponsored by
Coverage of the National FFA Convention is sponsored by FMC
Coverage of the National FFA Convention is sponsored by New Holland
Ag Group, Audio, FFA, FMC, New Holland

FFA To Farm Bureau: Life After the Blue Jacket

Lizzy Schultz Leave a Comment

ffa-16-240-edited Attendees at the 2016 National FFA Convention and Expo in Indianapolis had a blast visiting the American Farm Bureau Federation (AFBF) booth, which offered FFA members the chance to dress up in wacky accessories and pose for photos with the AFBF photo frame.

“Our hope is that we can bring FFA members into our booth, help them have a really great experience here, and we’re pushing our hashtag #FFA2YFR, as a way to help members remember that, as they transition out of their blue jacket there is still a really cool home for them with either the Collegiate Farm Bureau program or ourYoung Farmers & Ranchers Program (YF&R),” said Marty Tatman, AFBF Director of Program Development, in an interview during the Convention.

Also featured at the booth was a table for attendees sit down and take a moment to write thank-you notes for our nations farmers and veterans. The cards will be distributed to AFBF member farmers and veterans at various events throughout the year.

Learn more about AFBF’s involvement with FFA, as well as several upcoming AFBF events, in Jamie’s full interview with Marty here:
Interview with Marty Tatman, AFBF

Be sure to check out even more action by viewing the 89th National FFA Convention & Expo Photo Album.

Coverage of the National FFA Convention is sponsored by
Coverage of the National FFA Convention is sponsored by FMC
Coverage of the National FFA Convention is sponsored by New Holland
AFBF, Ag Group, Audio, FFA, University, Youth