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

The American Royal Finds A New Home

Jamie Johansen Leave a Comment

American royalThe American Royal Association announced this week they have reached an agreement with the State of Kansas and Unified Government to relocate to Wyandotte County, Kansas. Personally, I am not quite sure how I feel about his news. I have shown cattle at the American Royal my entire life as a junior and open exhibitor. Kansas City’s history is wrapped in agriculture, specifically cattle. The move takes the history out of the American Royal and that makes me a bit sad. However, even as a born and bred Missourian, nothing excites me more than the potential growth this move will provide. So, I will buckle down my emotions and can’t wait to attend many future American Royal’s at it’s new home.

“The American Royal currently hosts more than 50 events annually, attracting nearly 270,000 attendees and has an economic impact of more than $60 million annually. Last year we awarded $1.4 million in scholarships and support to our youth education programs,” said Angie Stanland, chairman of the Board of Directors of the American Royal. “Our priorities in the due diligence process were to find a regional home that would allow us to fulfill our mission, accommodate our growing events and allow for future growth. We have found the ideal location to do just that.”

The American Royal Association, which began as the National Hereford Show in 1899, has evolved into a comprehensive season of events and outreach including six equestrian shows, a livestock show, youth and PRCA rodeos, agricultural education programs and the world’s largest barbecue competition – the World Series of Barbecue©.

The new complex will include arena space, exhibit space, high-quality barn/expo space, and a new agriculture education center and museum. The agricultural education center will provide a state-of-the-art learning experience, covering all facets of the food and agricultural industry.The goal is to provide a unique, interactive food and agricultural learning experience, both indoor and outdoor, to instill a higher level of trust and knowledge about modern food and agricultural practices.

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Ag Group, Beef, Cattle, Equine, Livestock

U.S. Pork Industry Seeks the Pig Farmers of Tomorrow

Jamie Johansen Leave a Comment

pork checkoffThe Pork Checkoff is launching a new national awards program to recognize, inspire and connect the next generation of American pig farmers. Through Nov. 22, the National Pork Board is seeking applications from young producers to become one of the 2017 Pig Farmers of Tomorrow.

The new award will recognize future farm leaders, ages 18-29, who intend to make pig farming their life’s work and are committed to the U.S. pork industry and to raising pigs using the We Care ethical principles.

“One of the National Pork Board’s primary responsibilities is to train and motivate future pork industry leaders,” said National Pork Board President Jan Archer, a pig farmer from Goldsboro, North Carolina. “The award is designed to recognize and inspire youth who are investing their time and energy into responsible pig farming.”

Up to three award recipients will be selected in the program’s inaugural year. Winners will be invited to speak at National Pork Board events, including the March 2017 National Pork Industry Forum in Atlanta. They also will be responsible for providing content via the pork industry’s social media program #RealPigFarming. To apply, applicants must be actively involved in raising pigs in the U.S. on a full- or part-time basis and be between the ages of 18-29 as of Jan. 1, 2017. Students currently enrolled in a college program also are encouraged to apply.

Applicants must have a completed Common Industry Audit or be willing to have one conducted and paid for by the National Pork Board. Applicants also must submit social media content defining a “day in the life” on their farm and upload up to 10 photos with 140 character descriptions. The National Pork Board selection committee will name up to eight semi-finalists who will be interviewed by a panel of judges to select the finalists. Three winners will be chosen based on a combination of all application materials.

“It is important for youth in our industry to make the right connections at the right time as they build a career in agriculture,” Archer said. “As the winners share their personal stories, the program will not only recognize these future leaders, but will introduce them to experienced producers and networking opportunities.”

Ag Group, Pork, Pork Checkoff, Swine

Which Candidate Would Increase Ag Exports?

Jamie Johansen Leave a Comment

zp-nh1Our latest ZimmPoll asked the question, “What is most important to food sustainability?”

Sustainability is no longer simply a word used in agricultural circles. Consumers are also weighing in and therefore food companies are recognizing the importance of sustainability in agriculture, but some aren’t understanding technology and food production work hand-in-hand. Yet, this poll stresses agriculture’s point. All factors need to come into play when we talk sustainability.

Here are the poll results:

  • Biotechnology – 14%
  • Precision technology – 0%
  • Nutrient management – 4%
  • Water management – 8%
  • Ag education – 13%
  • All of the above – 53%
  • Other – 8%

Our new ZimmPoll is live and asks the question, Which candidate is better for agricultural exports?

Both major party candidates have said they are opposed to the Trans Pacific Partnership which most studies show would help to open up markets and increase agricultural exports. The Obama administration has been strongly in favor of TPP and urging Congress to ratify the trade agreement as soon as possible, but that will not likely be before the end of the year, leaving it in the hands of the next president and a new Congress. So, which candidate would be better to help increase ag exports?


American Butter Institute Board Elects New Leadership

Jamie Johansen Leave a Comment

ABI Logo_FINAL_10.24.13John Ellenberger of Land O’ Lakes, Inc. was elected the new president of the American Butter Institute at the group’s Board of Directors’ meeting in mid-October. The board also designated the first and second vice president of the organization, which represents the companies manufacturing the majority of the nation’s butter products.

The following individuals were elected to a two-year term:
– President: John Ellenberger, Senior Vice President/US Dairy Foods of Land O’ Lakes, Inc., in Arden Hills, Minnesota;
– First Vice President: Randy Robinson, CEO of High Desert Milk in Burley, Idaho;
– Second Vice President: Craig Alexander, Vice President/Dairy Ingredient Sales & Regulatory Affairs of O-AT-KA Milk Products Cooperative, Inc., in Batavia, New York

“I am looking forward to serving as ABI’s president during this exciting time for the butter industry,” said Ellenberger. “Butter’s popularity with today’s consumers continues to grow as they seek good tasting and versatile foods with simple ingredient statements. Butter scores high on all of those attributes and ABI is well-positioned to keep delivering that message.”

Ag Group, Butter, Dairy, National Milk

33,000 lbs Protein Donated by Tyson’s at #TransformFFA

Jamie Johansen Leave a Comment

ffa-16-368-editedDuring the 89th National FFA Convention, Tyson Foods donated a truck load of protein to Gleaners Food Bank as part of the National FFA Days of Service. The truck carried 1,546 cases of chicken totally over 33,000 pounds of protein and 100 FFA member volunteers took time to unload it all.

I stopped by the Tyson Foods booth during the FFA Expo to learn more about Tyson’s commitment to the FFA from Annetta Tiery, Corporate Social Responsibility Director, Tyson Foods, Inc. “At Tyson Foods, our corporate philanthropic focus is hunger relief. We donate a lot of protein throughout the year to various Feeding America food banks across the country. We are also longtime supporters of the FFA. For over 40 years we have been supporting this great organization.”

Annetta said that protein is very hard to come by at food banks and knows it will really make a difference for families in the Indianapolis area.

Tyson Foods’ #MyAgStory again made an appearance in their booth during the National FFA Convention Expo. “By using #MyAgStory we are asking FFA members to share what they do in agriculture. Whether that is working on the farm, going into ag communications or ag business everybody has a role to play.”

Listen to my complete interview with Annetta to learn more: Interview with Annetta Tiery, Tyson Foods

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, Audio, Chicken, FFA, Food, Poultry