Blog Archives

The Ag Highlight Reel: Ag Community Rallies Around Oklahoma Fire Victims

Byline:

Welcome to The Highlight Reel. Here you’ll find a recap of recent lighthearted or unusual news. These aren’t the headlines, but the funny, inspiring, or touching stories from across the agriculture industry.

Last week, cool temperatures persisted as snow piled up across the Corn Belt forcing farmers to put planting on hold. Volunteers are being honored around the country this week.

Social media posts about the weather and growing conditions dominated this week, while some farmers shared the way technology impacts thier farm.

Last Week: Farmers Wait for Proper Planting Conditions

While many farmers anxiously wait to begin the planting season, some are finding unique ways to pass the time. A few are getting serious about soil, or spending extra time caring for livestock in the wintry conditions. Others are taking a more lighthearted approach. Here are 21 things you can do as you wait for the snow to melt and soil to warm up.

This Week: National Volunteer Week

Organizations around the country are taking time to thank their volunteers as part of #NationalVolunteerWeek. Natural Resource Conservation Service (NRCS) offices around the country are taking time to recognize their farmer partners who are working to help conserve natural resources on their operations.

Share how you’re making a difference in your community by using the hashtag on social media.

Check out this story featuring farmers who volunteer as firefighters.

Facebook: Wildfires Threaten Oklahoma Farms and Ranches

While many farmers and ranchers have been concerned about cold and snow, producers in Oklahoma have battled wildfires. Dry, windy condititions fanned the flames.

Now, agriculture organizations are working to help impacted farmers and ranchers. Hay, calf milk replacer, and other donations are beind directed to producer victims by Oklahoma Extension and Ag Community Relief.

Twitter: Advantages and Disadvantages of Technology in Agriculture

It’s no secret technology has changed agriculture dramatically in recent years. Farmers took to Twitter to share the advantages and disadvantages of technology on their farm.

Trending: Farm Bill, E15, and China Tariffs

The headlines have been dominated by reactions to the drafted Farm Bill, potential new markets fo E15, and trade negotiations with China. Here’s how people in the U.S. were searching for information on the topics.

21 Things to Do While Waiting to Plant

Byline:

Farmers across the Corn Belt are itching to get in the field to start the 2018 planting season.

But unseasonably cool weather and substantial April snow totals are keeping progress on hold.

Here are a variety of ways farmers are spending their time while they wait, including organizing monitors, doing extra cattle chores, and soaking up the extra family time.

If you aren't quite ready for #plant18 yet, check out these 12 overlooked preplanting maintenance tasks.

1. Organize your monitors.

2. Laugh.

3. Farm on the kitchen table.

4. Extra cattle chores.

5. Support local youth programs.

6. Take the kids sledding.

7. Dig out.

8. Soak up the extra family time... and naps.

9. Take time with tech.

10. Read.

11. Help farmers in areas suffering from wildfires.

12. Go digging.

13. Clean the shop.

14. Write poetry.

15. Put Photoshop and your sense of humor to work.

16.Food farming.

17. Tackle the honey-do list.

18. Build a snow fort.

19. Brush up on handling and safety practices.

20. Bake cookies.

21. Play in the puddles.

The Ag Highlight Reel: How One Farmer Is Having Fun With Snow in April

Byline:

Welcome to The Highlight Reel. Here you’ll find a recap of recent light-hearted or unusual news. These aren't the headlines, but the funny, inspiring, or touching stories from across the agriculture industry.

Last week, Sonny Perdue got out of Washington D.C. to visit three big agriculture states. Across the industry, people and organizations are promoting grain-handling safety this week.

Keep reading to see how one Midwest farmer is coping with the unseasonable snow. Learn how you can participate in a book club with other ag enthusiasts from the comfort of your couch. Check back next week for more from The Highlight Reel.

Last Week: Perdue Visited Michigan, Ohio, and Kentucky

As part of his third Back to Our Roots RV tour, Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue made stops at farms and agribusinesses in three states. Along the way, Perdue met with several FFA members and was interviewed by local media. Visit his Twitter page for the highlights of his trip around Michigan, Ohio, and Kentucky.

Perdue-Lab-Michigan
USDA

This Week: Stand-Up for Grain Engulfment Prevention Week

The U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) and several industry associations have partnered to raise awareness about grain-handling hazards this week. A free webinar was held on Tuesday, April 10, as part of the Stand-Up for Grain Engulfment Prevention Week. Additional information and educational resources can be found at this University of Texas-Arlington website.

“Employees in the grain industry must be trained on grain-handling hazards and have the necessary tools to ensure they enter and leave a bin or silo safely,” Kimberly Stille, OSHA regional administrator said. “This campaign is intended to encourage industry leaders, farmers, and workers to implement best practices and effective safety and health programs to save lives.”

April-Snowman

Facebook: Spring Slow to Arrive in the Midwest

Farmers across the Midwest are getting anxious to get their planters out, but Mother Nature delivered snow to start the week in some areas. This Illinois farmer decided to make the most of the circumstances and have a little fun.

Twitter: #AgBookClub Discussing No More Food Fights

Ag Book Club, a project started by ag communicators Gracie Weinzierl and Laura Wolf, will be discussing No More Food Fights by Michele Payn. Check out this article for more background on the chat and instructions on how to participate.

Scholarships and Awards: American Agri-Women Scholarships Now Open

American Agri-Women is offering two $1,000 scholarships for young women pursuing agricultural degrees. Women ages 18 to 23 are invited to apply for the Jean Ibendahl Scholarship, while students 24 and older should apply for the Sister Thomas More Bertels Scholarship. The deadline for both awards is June 1, 2018. Review the eligibility requirements and application here.

‘Not a Lot of Room for Improvement’ in Argentina’s Conditions, Meteorologist Says

Byline:

This winter all eyes have been on South America. The grain markets have been reacting to the drought conditions in Argentina for weeks. Meteorologist David Streit of Commodity Weather Group, LLC says, “It’s a situation where there’s not a lot of room for improvement at this point.”

“In Argentina, they continue to lack adequate moisture for corn and soybean development in about two thirds of the belt. Moisture stress is definitely taking a toll on yield potential for the crops as we move through some of the more critical stages of development. In fact, with limited shower activity over the next week, we’ll see that kind of stress continue,” Streit explains. “There is a chance for some showers the following week in the western half of the belt, but probably by then it’ll be a little late to do much to help the corn. It could help some of the soybeans that are filling still. But we are getting a little bit late for any significant turnaround at this point and quite honestly, once that shower event occurs next week, there’s not a whole lot after that.”

The Argentine National Meteorological Service report indicated that chances of rain are highest in the first week of March.

The potential rain event is expected to be within the normal range for the region, .25 to 1 inch total precipitation, says Streit. Radiant Solutions published a report on Monday that said, “Light and scattered showers are possible across Argentina this week, but most of the major growing areas should receive less than 0.5 inches of rainfall, which will allow dryness to persist.”

Meteorologist Kyle Tapley at Radiant Solutions also noted that increasing temperatures, particularly in the southern part of Argentina, will contribute to crop stress in the coming days.

Experts say the La Niña is to blame for the country’s drought conditions. Since the La Niña pattern is not expected to continue into next year, it’s unlikely the drought will persist into next growing season. “Most of the models take us out of La Niña and into a more neutral if not slightly weak El Niño pattern as we go forward,” says Streit. “There is one model that wants to hold onto La Niña, but it’s sort of the outlier right now.”

Brazil

“In Brazil, the moisture situation has definitely been a more favorable one for crop development,” Streit says.

However, there are concerns about the Brazilian soybean harvest and second-crop corn planting due to too much precipitation. “Both of those are going to see some delays due to a fairly active shower pattern in the north half of the belts over the next two to three weeks,” Streit adds.

The Radiant Solutions report indicates the heaviest rainfall is expected in central Brazil this week.

Striet doesn’t expect outright damage or fallow acres due to the rains at this point, but harvest and planting will happen a little slower than normal. The additional soil moisture may prove to be beneficial later in the growing season.

Midwest

As spring gets closer in the U.S., farmers are beginning to think about planting. Farmers in parts of the country may not be able to get into the field as soon as they hoped.

In recent days, heavy rains have been reported across the southern Midwest and southeastern Plains. Extensive flooding in the southeast Midwest and the Delta is causing concern as river levels in Indiana reached record heights. Arkansas and Tennessee are at particular high risk for continued flooding as rains are expected to resume Tuesday and Wednesday this week.

Striet says the flooding is severe enough to cause concern for the soft red wheat crop in the far southern parts of Illinois, Indiana, and Missouri, along with Arkansas and Kentucky where standing water may cause damage.

“Down in what we call the northern Delta (the Arkansas, Mississippi area), they like to plant corn early and are probably not going to be able to do that this year unless something changes dramatically,” notes Striet.

This week’s southern rains will likely turn to snow as the system arrives in the central Midwest, Tapley writes.

“I think you might run into a snowstorm in the next week up in the Minnesota, Wisconsin, northern Iowa area,” Striet says. “The model is kind of flipping back and forth on it, but I think there’s a pretty decent return for some snow up in that area.”

Looking to next month, Striet says March is likely to be the wettest month of spring 2018. Most of the Corn Belt is looking at near- to above-normal precipitation during the month of March. This far out it’s difficult to predict if there is going to be a late spring freeze.

U.S. Wheat

In western wheat country, Streit expects the crop will continue to struggle. The below-normal precipitation pattern is likely to persist through spring.

“For the big producing areas in portions of western Oklahoma, much of Kansas and down into the Texas panhandle, I’m still not seeing any signs of relief. With this kind of an outlook going forward, I would be surprised if we don’t see some notable yield reductions to the wheat crop out there,” he says. “It struggled through the winter. We had a winter kill event in January that is going to have taken a toll to a certain extent as well. It’s got a lot of things working against it.”

Russia

Looking at wheat on a global level, Streit says the winter wheat situation in Russia is quite good. “They have lots of snow out there to provide them with spring moisture, and I don’t have any big warning flags as far as their development goes. They’ll have a big winter wheat crop.”

While it is a ways out, the areas known for growing spring wheat in Russia may be places to watch, says Streit. Those parts of the country have had a very dry winter, and therefore less snowmelt to boost soil moisture in the beginning stages of the growing season.

This Week in Agriculture, 2.21.2018

Byline:

Welcome to This Week in Agriculture. We will bring you interesting, out-of-the-ordinary finds going on in agriculture. Not the big headlines, but the curious, funny, and inspiring stories across the land.

In this week’s installment, we share the agriculture related highlights from trade shows across the country. Believe it or not, the first corn of the 2018 planting season is in the ground.

1. Trade Show Season Is Here

Two massive farm shows attracted farmers to opposite ends of the country over the last week. See how interest in these events compared according to the Google Trends graph below. The visual shows how users have been searching for National Farm Machinery Show and World Ag Expo from February 8, 2017, to February 15, 2018. Web search traffic for both shows has been very cyclical. Google explains, “Numbers represent search interest relative to the highest point on the chart for the given region and time. A value of 100 is peak popularity for the term. A value of 50 means that the term is half as popular. A score of 0 means there was not enough data for this term.”

2. A Memorable Trade Show

Trade shows are a great time to escape winter weather, learn about the latest technology, and catch up with friends in the agriculture business from around the country. For this couple, a trip to the National Farm Machinery Show marked a new chapter in their lives.

3. Other Trade Show Attractions

While parents and grandparents browse machinery and meet up with friends, kids find their own fun around trades shows. Collecting company swag, shoulder rides, and hosting puppet shows seem to be popular choices.

4. Get Your Steps In

Trade shows are also a great place to get a little exercise. Did anyone else keep track of their steps while browsing National Farm Machinery Show or World Ag Expo?

5. Excuse Notes

Any school excuse notes like this come from your farm?

6. FFA Week Celebrations

Hundreds of FFA students and alum are taking to social media to celebrate National FFA Week. Many chapters are hosting events or dress-up days at their local schools. FFA alums across the country are changing their profile pictures to throwbacks from their younger years in the blue corduroy jackets. Companies and individuals are financially supported the 90-year-old organization on Tuesday as part of #GivingTuesday.

7. Planting Underway

Planters are rolling in Texas. How soon before #plant18 begins in your area?

SF Editors Visit John Deere Archives

Byline:

A team of Successful Farming video producers and editors traveled to East Moline, Illinois, Monday for an exclusive tour of John Deere's archives.

The facilities house an extensive collection of machinery, historical artifacts, and paper records dating back more than a century. Tours were lead by Corporate Archives and History Manager Neil Dahlstrom and Historical Equipment Manager Brian Holst. Both men were interviewed for an upcoming 30-minute SF Special scheduled to premier on RFD-TV on March 29, 2018. They also shared more about their day to day roles and the assets they manage in Facebook Live interviews.

In addition to the tractors in the machinery collection, there are a number of seed drills, snowmobiles, and bicycles. Deere can't keep one of everything it has ever produced so company archivists must decide which milestone, prototype, and futuristic products should be preserved. From there, the team decides whether or not to restore the piece. Even if the decision is made to keep a machine in its current condition, Holst works to preserve and maintain it. Holst is a trained ag mechanic and became interested in old machinery started when he worked in a salvage yard that specialized in two-cylinder tractors. Now he maintains, coordinates logistics for, and answers questions about Deere's collection of mechanical artifacts.

Several machines from this collection are rotated through displays at the John Deere Pavillion, museums, historical sites, and Deere offices and factories. This summer, Holst will make sure 13 pieces from the East Moline collection will be on display at John Deere's celebration of 100 years in the tractor business in Waterloo, Iowa. The event takes place on June 15-16, 2018. Holst looks forward to seeing collectors, past employees, and the community connect with the exhibits.

As a trained archivist, Dahlstorm spends much of his time working with shelves and shelves of paper and film artifacts in the stacks. In this area of the archives, massives storages shelves on automated tracks house art, photos, and record books in a light and temperature controlled environment. Recently, by connecting details from a newspaper in the collection and a set of handcolored lantern slides they'd been storing for 15 years or more, Dahlstom and his team discovered the slides may have been used 100 years ago when the WaterlooBoy tractor was debued in Salina, Kansas. Dahlstrom enjoys helping people in and outside John Deere get to know the real people who've dedicated thier time to serving the company and its farmers customers over the years. To help share those stories, Deere archivists have published a selection historic films dating back as far as 1929 on YouTube in a series called Out of the Vault.

LEARN MORE

To learn more about John Deere and its contributions agriculture check out these recent articles from Executive Machinery and Tech Editor Dave Mowitz.

The Deere archivist team publishes some of their work in the John Deere Journal, and on YouTube.

Stay tuned to Agriculture.com for continued coverage as John Deere celebrates 100 years in the tractor business. The 30-minute SF Special featuring both Holst and Dahlstrom will premier March 29, 2018 on RFD-TV.

Trump Infrastructure Outline Tabs $50 Billion for Rural Projects

Byline:

As part of a mammoth package envisioned by the Trump administration, the nation’s governors would be given $50 billion in block grants to help finance rural projects such as expansion of broadband service, said two senior White House officials. They said the block grant funding would be available on a more rapid basis than the rest of the $200 billion in federal funding that would be provided for improvements nationwide for all types of public works.

Overall, the Trump administration projects the federal funds will stimulate $1.5 trillion in infrastructure spending. The federal share of 13% is expected to attract a flood of state, local, and private-sector money, said the officials, who spoke on condition of anonymity to describe the White House’s “infrastructure principles.” Their description was more detailed than a fact sheet issued in conjunction with the State of the Union speech but left open many operational questions.

One of the White House officials said the rural funds “are advanced” and would be available sooner than the rest of the package, but he did not spell out a release schedule or say how they would be divided among states, all of which have some rural territory. The share of funds earmarked for rural America – one fourth of the federal share – was suggested by the White House last month.

The House and Senate Agriculture committees would share control with a handful of other congressional committees over the package, according to the senior officials. “They’ll have, hopefully, their own lanes,” said one of the officials, but jurisdiction may overlap in some areas.

During a briefing, the White House officials said the proposed $200 billion in direct federal spending was in line with the average federal share of public works spending, which they said was 14%. They also said the White House budget proposal for fiscal 2019 would offset the cost of the new package. Some transportation-related funding, such as transit, would be trimmed. Some state and local officials contend that the administration is providing little impetus for infrastructure improvements and, in some areas, would shoulder a smaller share of the burden. The White House officials said the infrastructure package “is a program that sits on top of other (federal) programs” that assist localities. Property taxes and user fees could be tapped to help pay the local share, they said.

Rural infrastructure is one of the four guide points of the package, said the officials. The others are stimulating $1.5 trillion in spending, job training, and speedy action on permits. The White House said it would use a “one agency, one decision” approach in which a lead agency would corral the necessary federal reviews with a goal of a decision within 21 months and final approval of permits within three months of that. A rural prosperity report commissioned by the White House gives priority to universal rural broadband as a lever for economic growth. An estimated four of 10 rural Americans lack high-speed internet access.

“We envision this will be a bipartisan push,” said one of the senior officials. The administration indicated last year that it intended to seek passage of an infrastructure package last year, but tax cuts and health care legislation prevented action.

Produced with FERN, non-profit reporting on food, agriculture, and environmental health.

This Week in Agriculture, 2.7.2018

Byline:

Welcome to This Week in Agriculture. We will bring you interesting, out-of-the-ordinary finds going on in agriculture. Not the big headlines, but the curious, funny, and inspiring stories across the land.

In this week’s installment, we share a new video series about turkey farming. Keep reading to see how interest in the Farm Bill compares with the Winter Olympics and SpaceX Dragon.

1. Adam Timmerman Visits Iowa State Ag Business Class

 

Former NFL offensive lineman, Adam Timmerman paid a visit to long-time Iowa State University Ag Business professor, Ron Deiter’s Economics of Sports class on Monday. Prior to his football career, Timmerman graduated with an agribusiness degree from South Dakota State University. He bought a John Deere no-till drill with his Green Bay signing bonus. Iowa State Department of Economics published a recap of the presentation here.

For more on Timmerman’s life back on the family farm, check out this story.

2. National Turkey Federation Releases New Video Series

 

Meeting consumer curiosity with commonsense and humor, the National Turkey Federation has prepared a new series of videos and other resources about turkey farming. Several short clips, including the one above, are available at AmericasTurkeyFarmers.org.

3. National Crop Insurance Services Launch Farm Bill Video Series

 

As lawmakers, commodity leaders, and insurers gathered for this week’s Crop Insurance Industry Convention in Scottsdale, Arizona, National Crop Insurance Services kicked off a new video series. The first Risk Management Minute video explains, “Farmers collectively pay between $3.5 billion and $4 billion a year in premiums, even in years without a disaster.” More videos will be made available throughout the month.

4. National Pork Board Ordered to Stop Trademark Payments to National Pork Producers Council

Politico recently reported the checkoff funded National Pork Board (NPB) must stop paying the lobbying organization, National Pork Producers Council (NPPC) for trademarks after a recent federal court ruling. NPB was paying $3 million a year over 20 years for “Pork The Other White Meat” and other trademarks that the Humane Society of the United States and two others say were overvalued.

5. Farm Bill Interest Compared to Winter Olympics and SpaceX Dragon

 

While the Winter Olympics and SpaceX Dragon are making mainstream national headlines, users were also searching Google News for Farm Bill headlines. Check out the latest Farm Bill coverage from Agriculture.com here.

 

Arizona Senator Wins NAFTA Commitments, Releases Hold on USTR Nominee

Byline:

Senator Jeff Flake, from trade-sensitive Arizona, said he had secured commitments from the Trump administration to avoid “ill-advised seasonal or regional” triggers on food imports as part of the new NAFTA. In return, he has released his “hold” on the White House nominee for chief U.S. agricultural trade negotiator. “There seems to be a clear path for Gregg Doud to be confirmed as chief agricultural negotiator,” said Senate Agriculture Chairman Pat Roberts.

At the urging of Florida fruit and vegetable growers, the White House had proposed the inclusion in NAFTA of trade protections for seasonal growers against surges of competing crops from Mexico or Canada. Growers from the U.S. Southeast say current rules offer little protection because they are based on annual figures, which dilutes the impact of a flood of imports at the same time their crops hit the market. Western growers have worried that Mexico, a major source of produce during the winter, could use the same provisions to block U.S. goods.

U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer lamented at the NAFTA talks in Montreal this week that none of his deputy negotiators had been confirmed by the Senate due to holds placed by Republicans and Democrats on the four nominees, including Doud. Holds are an informal but respected practice that allows senators to suspend action on nominations and legislation. In mid-January, Senator Tim Scott of South Carolina said he would block USTR nominees until Lighthizer listened to his concerns on trade and his state.

Separately, Senator Ted Cruz of Texas is blocking a vote on Bill Northey of Iowa, President Trump’s nominee to run the USDA’s crop support and land stewardship programs, as leverage with Midwestern senators in an effort to change the ethanol mandate. The dispute started last October. There has been no recent movement by Cruz to drop the “unfair hold,” Iowa Senator Charles Grassley said early this week. If confirmed, Northey would be the most consequential of the USDA’s seven undersecretaries.

In an announcement, Flake said Lighthizer had agreed to meet with Arizona stakeholders who would be hurt by the administration’s proposal. In addition, Senate Finance Chairman Orrin Hatch, who would have a leading role in Senate consideration of a NAFTA agreement, said he will keep Flake’s concerns in mind. “I am committed to working with you to find a solution to your concerns and to achieve a modernized NAFTA that will benefit all American producers, service providers, and consumers,” said Hatch in a letter.

“While certainly there are areas in the NAFTA agreement ripe for modernization, adding ill-advised seasonal or regional components to existing trade remedies would lead to needless trade restrictions, devastating economic consequences, and likely retaliation,” said Flake. “I will continue to work toward a solution with the administration and Chairman Hatch as well as utilizing additional procedural tools at my disposal.”

Arizona is a leading point of entry for U.S. produce imports, “and trade is a key contributor to the state’s economy,” said The Packer, a trade publication, last November, when Flake blocked action on Doud’s nomination. In an updated summary of U.S. objectives on NAFTA, released at roughly the same time, the administration said it would “seek a separate domestic industry provision for perishable and seasonal products in AD/CVD proceedings,” using the abbreviation for anti-dumping and countervailing duties. They are used to offset unfairly priced imports.

“I am pleased that assurances have been given and there seems to be a clear path for Gregg Doud to be confirmed as chief agricultural negotiator,” said Senator Roberts in a tweet. “As the poster child[ren] of what successful trade agreements can do for the American economy, our farmers and ranchers have gone too long without a voice at the trade table during these uncertain times.”

The National Cattlemen’s Beef Association made clear its position on Doud’s approval by putting his photo on a mock missing-person flyer, which it then distributed at sites that included the most recent round of NAFTA negotiations. The group applauded Flake’s decision to remove his hold. “With talks continuing on NAFTA, the Korea-U.S. trade agreement, and access to many other markets still up in the air, it’s imperative that the U.S. Senate now move as quickly as possible to confirm Doud’s nomination,” said NCBA President Craig Uden.

To read Hatch’s letter to Flake, click here.

The USTR summary of U.S. goals at NAFTA is available here.

To view the NCBA’s missing-person poster for Gregg Doud, click here.

Produced with FERN, non-profit reporting on food, agriculture, and environmental health.

This Week in Agriculture, 2.1.2018

Byline:

Welcome to This Week in Agriculture. We will bring you interesting, out-of-the-ordinary finds going on in agriculture. Not the big headlines, but the curious, funny, and inspiring stories across the land.

In this week’s installment, we share the agriculture related highlights from Tuesday's State of the Union address. Believe it or not, the upcoming Super Bowl has a few ties to agriculture as well.

1. Agriculture Secretary Appointed ‘Designated Survivor’

Politico and NPR reported Secretary of Agriculture, Sonny Perdue was the “Designated Survivor” during Tuesday night’s State of the Union address. That means rather than attending the speech with many other government officials, he was taken to a safe and undisclosed location in case a mass catastrophe struck the site of the President’s speech. The practice of selecting a designated survivor began when fears of a nuclear attack were high during the Cold War. Perdue’s reaction to the speech can be found here.

2. No Mention of Agriculture in Trump’s First STOU

Despite a large base of rural Americans, there was no talk of agriculture, farmers, or ranchers in President Donald Trump’s first State of the Union address, reported Politico. Much of Trump’s speech was dedicated to national security and his immigration agenda. Special guests including first responders, and military heroes were recognized throughout the night.

3. Highlights from Alltech’s 2018 Global Feed Survey

  • For the second year in a row, world feed production is estimated in excess of 1 billion metric tons.
  • 144 countries and 30,000 feed mills were surveyed as part of the seventh annual Global Feed Survey.
  • One-third of the global feed supply is produced in China and the United States.
  • North America leads the world in global beef production and produces one-third of beef feed worldwide.
  • The largest growth in broiler feed production occurred in Africa with a 10% increase.

4. Four Midwesterners Honored for Soil Health Practices

The Soil Health Partnership presented awards to four Midwest agriculturists at their 2018 Summit in Chicago. Read more about this year’s Super Sprout, Champion Communicator, Ace Agronomist, and Data Digger in this news release.

5. Farm Bowl Kicks Off Football Filled Weekend

As anticipation for Super Bowl LII builds across the country, enthusiasts tuned in for the Land O’ Lakes Farm Bowl Thursday afternoon. Football stars Luke Kuechy, Stefon Diggs, Kyle Rudolph, Jason Brown, Jerome Bettis, and Greg Jennings competed alongside their farmer teammate in a series of farm related tasks. Watch the video below for further explanation of the competition. The event was streamed live on Land O’ Lakes’ Facebook page.

6. Tom Brady’s Connection to the Farm

Eight-time Super Bowl quarterback Tom Brady has ties to agriculture, reports New York Daily News. Brady’s mother grew up on a farm near Browerville, Minnesota. Until he was in high school, the NFL star would visit his grandparents on the farm. Check out the full article for details.

7. Iowa Farmer Nominations Sought for Conservation Award

The Iowa Department of Agriculture and Iowa Farm Bureau are seeking nominations of deserving Iowa farmers for their 2018 Conservation Farmer of the Year Award. Nominations are due to your Soil and Water Conservation office by June 1, 2018. The winner of the award receives a John Deere 6E Utility Tractor for one year. More information can be found at the Iowa Farm Bureau website.

8. Agriculture is Changing

With headlines of new technology and evolving businesses every day, it's no secret our world is changing. Agriculture is no different. A recent blog post by Bayer’s Global Head of Research and Development for Crop Science Adrian Percy outlined five ways times in agriculture are changing.

1. Continued digitalization

2. Changing demographics

3. Focus on soil health

4. Innovative plant breeding

5. Collaboration and transparency

9. More Mergers in 2018

Mergers across the agriculture made headlines in 2017. They’re continuing into 2018 the launch of Agtegra Cooperative. South Dakota Wheat Growers and North Central Farmers Elevator officially launched the new farmer-owned cooperative out of Aberdeen, South Dakota on February 1, 2018. Check out their new website for more details.

10. Celebrity Chef to Visit Iowa

Foodbank for the Heartland has invited Celebrity Chef Curtis Stone to Iowa on March 1 for the organization’s annual fundraising event. While enjoying Stone’s talents, guests will celebrate food and the meaning of it in everyday life. Learn more, or purchase tickets for the event at Foodbank for the Heartland’s website.

EPA Delays Obama’s WOTUS Rule Until 2020 While It Writes Its Own Version

Byline:

President Trump set out to erase the Obama-era Waters of the United States rule in his first weeks in office. Now the EPA has finalized an action that should keep the clean water rule from ever taking effect. Administrator Scott Pruitt has officially set the effective date of the so-called WOTUS rule for early 2020, long after the administration expects its replacement version to be in place.

Farm groups have been outspoken opponents of the WOTUS rule, which spells out the upstream reach of the clean water law, as regulatory overreach onto dry land and low spots in fields. The American Farm Bureau Federation ran a #DitchtheRule campaign on social media, which Trump indirectly mentioned at the group’s convention in early January. “We ditched the rule, I call it. We ditched the rule,” he said in touting his record on tax cuts and regulatory relief.

“Today, EPA is taking action to reduce confusion and provide certainty to America’s farmers and ranchers,” said Pruitt in a statement. “The 2015 WOTUS rule developed by the Obama administration will not be applicable for the next two years while we work through the process of providing long-term regulatory certainty across all 50 states about what waters are subject to federal regulation.” Pruitt told senators this week that he anticipated the Trump administration’s substitute rule will be unveiled by April or May and will take effect by year’s end.

“Pruitt’s delay of the clean water rule is another galling attack on the clean water our families and communities depend on,” said the League of Conservation Voters. “Pruitt’s actions demonstrate just how scared the Trump administration is that these commonsense safeguards would go into effect and actually disprove their bogus apocalyptic claims.”

An estimated 117 million people, one third of Americans, get all or some of their drinking water from the small and nonperennial streams and wetlands at issue in WOTUS.

Farm Bureau president Zippy Duvall applauded the delay, saying “farmers value clear water … but they deserve clear rules, too.” Duvall said the Obama administration rule “would have put a stranglehold on ordinary farming and ranching by treating dry ditches, swales, and low spots on farm fields just like flowing waters. Without today’s action, countless farmers and ranchers, as well as other landowners and businesses, would risk lawsuits and huge penalties for activities as common and harmless as plowing a field.”

The Obama-era rule, which was issued in the summer of 2015, was immediately challenged in court and has been blocked by an appellate court order from taking effect. Last week, the Supreme Court ruled that district courts, rather an appeals courts, are the appropriate starting point for WOTUS lawsuits. The EPA said its two-year delay of the WOTUS rule “provides much-needed certainty and clarity to the regulated community during the ongoing regulatory process.”

At the moment, the EPA is reviewing comments on a proposal to rescind the 2015 rule, and it is developing its proposal for a new definition of upstream waters protected by the clean water law.

The EPA homepage for the WOTUS rule is available here.

Produced with FERN, non-profit reporting on food, agriculture, and environmental health.

Land Expo Attendees Tweet Reactions

Byline:

Attendees reached for their phones to document and react to the keynote speakers at Friday’s Land Expo in West Des Moines, Iowa. The event attracted farmers, investors, bankers, and economists from around the country. Highlights from the 11th annual event were trending on Twitter for a majority of the day.

Iowa governor Kim Reynolds welcomed the crowd, highlighting Iowa as a great place to invest. She spent time talking about taxes, education opportunities, and the biotech research going on in the state.

Ron Insana kicked off the morning with his speech, “Is Fortress American Intact.” Insana is a CNBC and MSNBC economic contributor shared his formative experiences in tv and economics from the 1980s to begin his session.

Jack Bobo, Senior Vice President and Chief Communications Officer at Intrexon asked the audience, “Can agriculture save the planet before it destroys it?” Intrexon is known for their work on the Actic Apple  and the Zika fighting mosquito. His work is on the cutting edge of biotechnology across the health, agriculture, food, and energy sectors.

Bill Northey is currently serving as Iowa’s Secretary of Agriculture. In late 2017, Northey was nominated to a USDA position, but a hold has been placed on his appointment. While at Land Expo 2018, the Secretary updated the crowd on that process, and shared statistics highlighting Iowa’s global leadership in agriculture. After his talk, we talked with the secretary in more detail. Watch his conversation with Mike McGinnis here.

Former Secretary of Agriculture and Iowa native, Tom Vilsack addressed the crowd after lunch. He currently serves as the CEO of the U.S. Dairy Export Council. He spent much of his time talking about trade.

Kevin O’Leary is an investor on ABC’s hit show, Shark Tank. He talked to the farmers, real estate experts, and investors about what he learned about marketing a commodity from a cupcake company he invested in. Investment and pitching tips were also part of his presentation.

Brian Forde of MIT broke down the basics of bitcoin and blockchain for attendees. Prior to his session, by a show of hands the crowd indicated they had interest, but little knowledge about the technology. The informative session was followed by a great question and answer period.

Mark Dotzour closed the day with a speech entitled, “The Economic Outlook for Investors and Business Decision Makers.” He recapped the positive trends the economy has seen over the last 103 months. Dotzour also noted several situations around the world to keep an eye on as they have the potential to disrupt current positive trends.

Wheat Groups in Canada, Mexico, and U.S. Ask for NAFTA Update, Not a Breakup

Byline:

In a letter to leaders of the NAFTA nations, seven wheat groups that span the continent and represent a range of players, from growers to millers to bakers, said an updated NAFTA that continues duty-free agricultural trade is critical to their success. Canada and the U.S. supply more than 60% of Mexico’s wheat, and Mexico is the No. 1 market for U.S. wheat exports.

President Trump left open the possibility of U.S. withdrawal from NAFTA during an interview at the World Economic Forum, telling CNBC at one point, “I think we have a good chance [of an agreement], but we’ll see what happens,” and at another, “I may terminate NAFTA, I may not.” The Hillnewspaper said that trade ministers from Canada and Mexico were more optimistic. Talks started last August and are to conclude in March. Mexican Economy Minister Ildefonso Guajardo said, “Today, we are in much better standing than a year ago to try to find those creative solutions that will mean a win-win-win for the three countries.”

The U.S. lists maintaining duty-free agricultural trade as its top NAFTA priority. Also high on its list is the elimination of Canada’s supply-management system for dairy, poultry, and eggs. Canadian officials say that proposal is a nonstarter. The Canadian dairy industry says it has given up enough ground in past trade deals, and it should not have to make further concessions in a new NAFTA, said Canadian Press. For their part, U.S. dairy groups say Canada has unfairly blocked imports of their products. “Dairy trade with Canada has for too long been excluded from NAFTA’s benefits,” said the National Milk Producers Federation.

“NAFTA has benefited not only wheat growers but also all our partners along the entire value chain – from farmers to consumers and everyone in between,” said Gordon Stoner, president of the National Association of Wheat Growers, a U.S. group that signed the letter to Trump, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, and Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto. “The fact that wheat producers and end users from all three countries would speak with one voice about the importance of NAFTA should speak volumes to our leaders.”

The wheat industry letter said, “The rise in demand for high-quality wheat combined with duty-free access and the convenient transportation options between all three countries relies on an integrated supply chain within the region that is only effective with NAFTA in place.”

To read the wheat letter, click here.

Produced with FERN, non-profit reporting on food, agriculture, and environmental health.

Q & A: Danielle Nierenberg, Cofounder of Food Tank

Byline:

Growing up, Danielle Nierenberg was a city kid unwillingly living the country life.

“My parents wanted to raise their kids in the fresh country air, so I grew up in a very small farming community in Missouri,” she says. “I wanted nothing to do with farmers, so I joined animal and environmental organizations that argued against agriculture.”

In college, her conviction to expose agriculture’s villains continued as she studied environmental policy and government. A stint as a Peace Corps volunteer transformed her thinking. 

Today, Nierenberg champions for the food industry as she works to open dialogues among the diverse stakeholders. 

SF: What happened in the Peace Corps to change your view of ag?

DN: On a journey to the Dominican Republic, I found myself working with farmers. I saw firsthand the connection between farming and environmental preservation. That experience made me realize that food was where I wanted to focus my efforts.

In graduate school, my studies centered around how to better communicate complex scientific and nutrition issues in a way that everyone could understand.

SF: How did the idea for Food Tank come about?

DN: When I worked at the World Watch Institute, I spent about two years studying agricultural innovation across mostly sub-Saharan Africa, as well as Asia and Latin America. Like most environmental think tanks, it was very gloom and doom. However, I was seeing a lot of hope and success in really unexpected places like Ethiopia, Rwanda, and Nigeria. I knew that if these success stories had a little more attention and investment, they could be replicated and scaled out in different ways.

In 2013, my partner, Bernard Pollack, and I founded Food Tank to really highlight what was working on the ground.

SF: How does the Food Tank Summit build on your mission to showcase success stories?

DN: The Food Tank Summit lets us focus on the solution rather than on the problem. We bring together individuals and organizations from as many sides of a debate or an issue as we can.

For example, we had two justice advocates share the stage with representatives from Monsanto and Cargill. We also had Republicans and Democrats, who may never speak to one another on the Hill, engage in a conversation. It creates some really honest dialogue and forces people to interact. They share their tactics on how they solved a certain problem so others can learn from their experiences.

SF: What do you see as the biggest challenge facing our food system in the U.S.?

DN: We’re all going to be facing the impacts of climate change. The urgency of addressing the food system’s role in that is greater than ever before. Agriculture contributes 30% to 50% of all greenhouse gas emissions. This is not something most consumers, eaters, policy makers, or businesses have taken a big role in addressing. 

While we need to highlight what farmers are already doing that they’re not being recognized for, I believe we also have a lot to learn about the regenerative practices others are using to deal with the impacts of climate change. 

SF Bio:

Title: Cofounder of Food Tank

Background: In 2013, Nierenberg cofounded Food Tank, a nonprofit organization focused on building a global community for safe, healthy, and nourished eaters. Food Tank is a global convener, research organization, and nonbiased creator of original research impacting the food system. Nierenberg has a master’s in agriculture, food, and environment from the Tufts University Friedman School of Nutrition Science and Policy. She spent two years volunteering for the Peace Corps in the Dominican Republic.

Farm Bill Reform Would End ‘Dishonest’ Subsidies, Says Midwestern Senator

Byline:

On the same day that Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue released a 42-point list of farm bill principles, Iowa Senator Charles Grassley said the 2018 bill should end the “dishonest” practice of crop subsidy payments to nonfarmers. Grassley prevailed in a Senate vote for tighter subsidy rules while the 2014 farm law was under debate, but the reforms were nearly erased in the final version of the law.

Grassley’s package would limit growers to $125,000 a year per person in payments and limit farms to one manager who also is eligible for subsidies. At present, there is no effective limit on payments per person, and the eligibility rules are nearly toothless. The Government Accountability Office said in 2013 that the USDA allowed payments to people who were identified as managers but who never set foot on the farm or were simply relatives of the farm owner. In an essay in the Daily Caller, Grassley said his reforms would save several hundred million dollars that could “provide assistance to those who truly need help.”

The Iowa Republican, a member of the Senate Agriculture Committee, said, “Congress now has a chance to make up for that missed opportunity and to do right by the agriculture community and American taxpayers as talks on a new farm bill begin.” The final version of the 2014 bill deleted Grassley’s subsidy limits and instead told the USDA to look at tighter limits on nonfamily farms. The move exempted 96% of farms from any reform.

Meanwhile, the largest U.S. farm group said the guidelines released by Perdue would lead to a bill that helps farmers and ranchers through the slump in commodity prices that began in 2014. “We are pleased the secretary and his team have highlighted not just the importance of risk management on the farm but also rural development, research and development, trade, conservation, and nutrition,” said Zippy Duvall, president of the American Farm Bureau Federation.

Running four pages, Perdue’s list of principles supports a strong farm safety net that includes federally subsidized crop insurance, voluntary land stewardship, a reduced regulatory burden on new farm and food technology, an invigorated ag research program, rural economic development aided by high-speed internet service, and making “America’s forests work again.”

The USDA’s public nutrition programs should “support work as the pathway to self-sufficiency, well-being, and economic mobility for individuals and families,” said the list of principles. Most food stamp recipients are children, the disabled, or the elderly. Conservatives have focused on stricter limits on how long able-bodied adults without dependents (ABAWDs) can get food stamps. The administration has signaled that it might cut down on extended benefits for them.

“We hope the administration puts forward ideas to help workers earn better wages and find jobs that offer opportunity and upward mobility,” said Stacy Dean of the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, a think tank. “Proposals that take food away from those who are in between jobs or are stuck in a part-time job would be a mistake.”

ABAWDs are limited to 90 days of benefits in a three-year period unless they work at least 80 hours a month or spend equivalent time in workfare or job training. States can waive the 90-day limit in areas where the jobless rate exceeds 10% or when there are insufficient jobs.

A small-farm advocate, the National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition, said it was heartening that Perdue’s list touched on issues of interest to small, diversified, and organic farmers, such as working lands conservation, ag research, and assistance for beginning farmers, but lamented that others, like local and regional marketing, were neglected. “We are also concerned by the suggestion of potentially disastrous changes to nutrition assistance programs,” said the NSAC’s Greg Fogel. “In this document, USDA seems to imply a fundamental change in our food security programs that could not only challenge the Agency’s antihunger objectives but also could seriously risk the timely passage of a new farm bill.”

House Agriculture Chairman Michael Conaway said in The New Yorker that the biggest fight in the farm bill may be over food stamps rather than farm assistance. “I don’t want it to be just a Republican bill, and that’s going to be a challenge,” said Conaway.

To read Perdue’s farm bill and legislative principles, click here.

Perdue’s Farm Bill Principles: Strong on Crop Insurance, Link Work With Food Assistance

Byline:

The 2018 farm bill, while helping “those truly in need” to get enough food, should “support work as the pathway to self-sufficiency, well-being, and economic mobility,” said Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue. The recommendation, part of the USDA’s farm bill principles, echoed Perdue’s calls for stricter limits on food stamps for able-bodied adults unless they work or take part in job-training or workfare programs.

The recommendations, which run four pages, maintain that an innovative crop insurance program will allow farmers to manage risk; that voluntary land stewardship programs should retire “more environmentally sensitive acres”; that the USDA should reduce regulatory burdens while ensuring new farm and food technologies are safe; that the U.S. should be in the vanguard of ag research; and that rural America needs reliable and affordable high-speed internet services.

The list of principles did not mention President Trump’s proposals for massive cuts to both federally subsidized crop insurance and food stamps, the country’s largest anti-hunger program. Nor did it take sides on suggestions by environmentalists that in exchange for federal support, farmers should be required to do more to prevent soil erosion and protect water quality. Early this month, Trump told the largest U.S. farm group, “I’m looking forward to working with Congress to pass the farm bill, on time, so that it delivers for all of you. And I support a bill that includes crop insurance.”

Titled the “2018 Farm Bill and Legislative Principles,” the relatively brief document was the first attempt in years by an administration to guide the drafting of a farm bill by issuing a printed list of ideas. Farm-state lawmakers fiercely protect their prerogatives in writing the panoramic legislation. At one time, there was a dark-humored joke about White House farm bills being dead before arrival on Capitol Hill. The Trump White House has acknowledged that Congress will take the lead this year, too.

“These principles will be used as a road map. They are our way of letting Congress know what we’ve heard from the hardworking men and women of American agriculture,” said Perdue. “While we understand it’s the legislature’s job to write the farm bill, USDA will be right there providing whatever counsel Congress may request or require.”

Perdue has suggested that the farm bill should clamp down on waivers that allow states to provide food stamps beyond the usual 90-day limit for able-bodied adults without dependents (ABAWDs) unless they work at least 80 hours a month or spend an equal amount of time in workfare or job training. Waivers are allowed during periods of high unemployment or when jobs are hard to find. The White House proposed last May to set a higher threshold for unemployment rates. It was part of a proposed 25% cut in food stamp funding over a decade.

The administration also proposed a 36% cut in crop insurance, including the end of premium subsidies for the so-called harvest price option, which has been criticized as a windfall for farmers. Crop insurance, worth nearly $8 billion a year, is the largest USDA farm support.

A veteran farm lobbyist said the set of recommendations “sharpen the ax for major SNAP [food stamps] cuts while amazingly not even mentioning world food security or food aid. Farm and commodity lobbyists need to double down on the message to keep SNAP whole, or we are not likely to get a farm bill this year, or maybe for several years to come.” The House defeated a farm bill for the first time ever in 2013 when conservative Republicans insisted on the largest cuts in food stamps in a generation.

Produced with FERN, non-profit reporting on food, agriculture, and environmental health.

Farmers Tweet Reactions to Precision Planting’s Winter Conference

Byline:

Over 700 people gathered in Tremont, Illinois, for Precision Planting’s 2018 Winter Conference on Tuesday. “This is the biggest and baddest winter conference we’ve ever had,” says Brad Arnold, general manager at Precision Planting.

Many farmers in attendance are early adopters of ag tech and avid social media users. As new products were announced, they took their reactions to Twitter.

Ag Technology

North American Sales Lead Justin Kauffman set the stage for a full day of announcements and product introductions. Citing a Successful Farming article, he explained that farmers who have adopted ag technology are turning an operating profit and seeing higher yields than their less technical peers. Although SmartFirmer was announced as a beta product at a previous event, Kauffman reviewed its features noting it is now for sale.

New Vision for the Field

Kauffman also announced the release of a new 20|20 monitor. Other Precision Planting team members from the R&D and sales teams took the stage breaking down the science of the technology. Tech-savvy farmers took to Twitter to express their reactions.

Eastern RM Sales Lead Doug Wiegand reviewed how far the 20|20 technology has come since he started with Precision Planting in 2003. At that time the company only had 15 full-time employees. Now the engineering staff alone totals 50.

Dale Koch, an engineer in the R&D department at Precision Planting, took the stage next. He emphasized the need for more information. Digging seeds alone does not give farmers enough insight to make good decisions for their field or farms as a whole. With SmartFirmer, knowing more about each field will help growers make better decisions, leading to more consistent and uniform results.

To conclude the first session, R&D Agronomist Ryan Allgaier addressed the crowd explaining how the new 20|20 monitor and SmartFirmer work together. He used the analogy of more data being similar to a flashlight. We’re not shining flashlights for flashlights sake, he said. “What decisions are we going to make, or change, because of what we see?”

Maximizing the Furrow

Cory Muhlbauer, R&D agronomist, and Bryce Baker, marketing lead, tag-teamed a session evaluating farming practices to achieve the best nutrient utilization. By examining its life in the furrow, farmers can help each seed reach its maximum potential.

Optimizing Nutrient Application

The Precision Planting team acknowledged the importance of managing nutrients efficiently, especially in years with thin profit margins. Jason Stoller and Justin McMenamy, both R&D experts for the company, introduced the second new product of the day, FurrowJet. The pair also gave an update on current R&D projects farmers may see on their farms in the future.

Next-Level Multi-Genetics

Commercial Agronomist Jason Webster introduced Precision Planting’s latest multi-genetic planting technology, mSet. Luke Stuber of the R&D department also addressed farmers in attendance, they no longer have to choose between high-speed planting and variable-rate, multi-genetic planting. mSet technology offers the best of both worlds.

Drilling Down

The final product announcement of the day was made via simulcast by Troy McKown, northwest regional manager, and Will Frank, R&D. The new SeederForce is Precision Planting’s first product targeting farmers with crops outside corn and soybeans.

Multipurpose Show Site

To end the day, Webster revealed Precision Planting’s plans for the new Precision Technology Institute. The multipurpose show site in Pontiac, Illinois, will give farmers a place to experience the company’s technology hands on.

Homeward Bound

General Manager Brad Arnold made the closing remarks for the event. As farmers road-tripped home, many continued to voice their opinions and excitement on social media.

 

Outlook for U.S. Farm Income: Stable but ‘at Much Lower Levels’

Byline:

After a three-year plunge, U.S. farm income is stabilizing “at much lower levels than in previous years,” said the Kansas City Federal Reserve Bank, warning that “growing inventories and trade uncertainty remain the key risks to the outlook.” In its periodic Ag Outlook report, the regional Fed said 2017 income was 18% below the long-term average.

“Longer-term projections for farm income were also expected to stabilize but at levels below the long-run average from 1970-2017,” wrote KC Fed economist Cortney Cowley. “Continued oversupply of agricultural products, especially crops, is a significant risk and would likely keep prices from rising to more profitable levels. International trade could help support agricultural prices and incomes, but uncertainty over trade deals has generated additional risk for the agricultural sector.”

Some 40% of the total value of U.S. crop production is exported, an increase from 29% in 2013, said the KC Fed. “Uncertainty surrounding NAFTA and other trade deals is a key risk to the agricultural outlook.”

The U.S. often is described as the world’s largest agricultural exporter, although its share of the world market is shrinking. In the late 1970s, the U.S. share of the corn, soybean, and wheat market was 65%. In 2017, it was 28%. “The decline in the U.S. share of world crop exports suggests that the rest of the world has become more active in global markets when the U.S. has become increasingly reliant on world trade,” said the Ag Outlook.

This Week in Agriculture, 1.10.2018

Byline:

Welcome to This Week in Agriculture – or TWIA, for short. We will bring you interesting, out-of-the-ordinary finds going on in agriculture. Not the headlines, but the curious, funny, and inspiring stories across the land.

1. Is Your Local FFA Chapter Looking for Funding?

Applications for Tractor Supply’s Grants for Growing campaign are being accepted through Monday, February 14, 2018. The competitive grant program will fund FFA chapters around the country impacting their communities with sustainable agriculture-focused projects. In the spring, awarded chapters will receive grants up to $5,000. More information about the grant process can be found here. Start on your application today.

2. SwineTech named American Farm Bureau’s Entrepreneur of the Year.

For the third time in four years, the Entrepreneur of the Year named at American Farm Bureau’s annual convention is an Iowan. Matthew Rooda and his company SwineTech have developed a technology to save piglets from being crushed. Check out this Iowa Farm Bureau article or watch the video below for more information.

3. USFRA Will Seek a New CEO.

The U.S. Farmers and Ranchers Alliance will be seeking new leadership after an announcement today that CEO Randy Krotz’s contract will not be renewed. Agri-Pulse has the details in this article.

4. The GMO debate is making headlines in mainstream media again this week.

Food columnist for the Washington Post, Tamar Haspel urged participants on both sides of the GMO debate to stop name-calling. She says, “…my goals for 2018 are to be nicer, to try to change my mind more, and to persuade everyone to drop ‘anti-science’ from their vocabulary.” Read the full article here.

5. New Discovery Channel Documentary Features American Biodiesel.

The story of American biodiesel recently premiered in a Discovery Channel documentary, Hot Grease. The codirector/producer, Paul Lovelace, will present at the upcoming 2018 Iowa Renewable Fuels Summit on January 30, 2018. Watch a clip from the film here.

6. Bone-in or Boneless Wings?

A recent Bloomberg article reported 64% of all chicken wings sold at restaurants in the last year were of the bone-in variety. That’s a whopping 1.1 billion servings of chicken wings! Read the article yourself for more details.

7. National Pork Board Now Accepting Scholarship Applications.

The application period for the 2018 Pork Industry Scholarships is now open to college juniors and seniors who plan to pursue careers related to the swine industry. Up to 21 scholarships totaling $48,000 will be awarded. Applications must be submitted by February 16, 2018 in order to be considered.

 

Twitter Reacts to Trump’s Speech to Farmers and Ranchers

Byline:

President Trump spoke to a crowd of farmers and ranchers on Monday at American Farm Bureau’s convention in Nashville, Tennessee. Agricultural producers and business people took to Twitter to react.

1. President Trump tweeted his excitement in anticipation of his speech to American Farm Bureau members on Monday.

2. The feeling was mutual. Approximately 4,500 convention attendees started navigating security lines at 6 a.m. to hear the president’s afternoon speech.

3. Thousands more across the country tuned in to watch live coverage of Trump’s speech.

4. President Trump is the first sitting president in more than 25 years to address the American Farm Bureau membership. Many attendees took to Twitter to express their thankfulness for the once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.

5. President Trump assured farmers and ranchers they are not forgotten.

6. The president touched on a variety of topics important to rural Americans in his 35-minute address.

7. Some producers were disappointed President Trump didn’t address their biggest concerns.

8. Several members of Congress acknowledged Trump’s commitment to rural America and thanked him for taking the time to attend the convention.

9. Some people tweeted directly at the president, thanking him for supporting their rural communities.

10. President Trump tweeted, “We have been working every day to DELIVER for America’s farmers just as they work every day to deliver FOR US.”

11. A transcribed copy of the president’s address from the White House is circulating on Twitter.

12. To conclude his speech, President Trump signed two executive orders to increase access to broadband in rural areas. Ray Starling, special assistant to the president for ag and trade, explained the details to North Carolina Farm Bureau.