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How Silicon Valley could revolutionize America’s farming capital

How Silicon Valley could revolutionize America’s farming capital

The perfect storm of “smart farming” is about to be unleashed, with the world’s population expected to surpass 9 billion people by 2050, and the middle class expected to grow from 1.5 billion to 4.5 billion. At the same time there is an increasing emphasis on fresh food and healthy eating, and food production is expected to explode.

According to Norman Borlaug, the Nobel laureate who has been called “the father of the Green Revolution,” “agriculture’s greatest spokesperson” and “The Man Who Saved A billion Lives,” “In the next 40 years, farmers will have to grow as much food as they have in the last 10,000 years — combined.”

Salinas Valley, just an hour south of Silicon Valley, is the fresh food capital of America and home to agricultural giants such as Dole Foods, Chiquita, Driscoll Berries, Taylor Farms, Ocean Mist Farms, JV Smith and Tanimura & Antle, to name a few. Salinas Valley agriculture is an $ 8 billion business and it is here that more than 80 percent of the nation’s lettuce is produced and other top crops, including strawberries, broccoli, artichokes and wine grapes. This is a highly competitive industry that has been refined over five generations, taking out every element of cost, and now it is ripe for innovation.

Brian W. Kocher, Chiquita’s Chief Operating Officer, says,  “We have experienced substantial changes in growing conditions over the last years. It is clear that time-tested agricultural practices are no longer sufficient for an expanding population and we must be smarter and more efficient using increasingly scarce resources such as water. The intersection of agricultural and technical science is rapidly improving yields and efficiencies, and we believe the initiatives to link agricultural innovators with technology innovators will yield substantial benefits for both the population and the planet.”

In Silicon Valley there is a technology revolution taking place with the impact of sensors, big data, mobility, the cloud, drones and the Internet of things (IoT) and it expected that more than 50 billion devices will be connected by 2020. According to new research from International Data Corporation (IDC), a transformation is underway that will see the worldwide market for IoT solutions grow from $ 1.9 trillion in 2013 to $ 7.1 trillion in 2020. IDC defines the Internet of Things as a network of networks of uniquely identifiable endpoints (or “things”) that communicate without human interaction using IP connectivity – be it “locally” or globally.

“Like many industries today, the agriculture industry is being transformed by the use of data, in all its variety,” said Deborah Magid, Director of Software Strategy in IBM’s Venture Capital Group. “Data is everywhere, and over the next few years, innovative new uses of information in all aspects of farming — from yield optimization, to food safety and quality, to distribution, to water management, fertilizer management, connected vehicles and even whole new methods of growing food — will be adopted. It’s already happening. For example, Georgia’s Flint River Partnership and IBM recently announced a collaboration to use Data-Driven Agriculture Solutions to enhance agricultural efficiency by up to 20 percent.”

So the perfect storm is about to be unleashed, with Salinas Valley joining forces with Silicon Valley to make farming “Smart.” This major initiative called Steinbeck Innovation is a breakthrough concept conceived by SVG Partners and developed in conjunction with the City of Salinas to drive Agriculture innovation and technology. To date, the focus has been on driving entrepreneurship through the Kauffman fastTrac program and innovation with leading universities such as UC Davis, ASU, CSUMB and Hartnell College. SVG Partners is now launching a strategic venture fund and accelerator program called Thrive in partnership with major agriculture corporations to drive investment in disruptive new technologies in AgTech.


Publication date: 7/10/2014

Federated Capital acquiring Cold Train

Federated Railways Inc., an affiliate of Federated Capital Corp., has entered into an agreement to acquire the assets of Rail Logistics LC., including its “Cold Train” Express Intermodal Service.

The new subsidiary will be called “Federated Cold Train LLC” and will conduct business as Cold Train. The company will maintain its current management team and staff, including Steve Lawson as president and chief executive officer, and will retain its current headquarters located in Overland Park, KS.

Federated Capital Corp.’s holdings consist of a variety of service, leasing and railroad assets, including the Great Lakes Central Railroad Inc., a 400- mile regional railroad operating entirely in the state of Michigan, and Federated Railcar Inc., owner of a fleet of refurbished passenger cars.

Rail Logistics launched the “Cold Train” Express Intermodal Service in partnership with BNSF Railway from the Port of Quincy Intermodal Terminal in Washington state in April of 2010, and then more recently began a similar Cold Train service from Portland, OR. A recent study of 29 western U.S. and Canadian locations with intermodal terminals (including the Port of Quincy Intermodal Terminal) ranked Quincy, WA, as the lowest cost location for operating a distribution center or a warehouse.

Since the Cold Train refrigerated expedited intermodal freight service was launched, it has grown rapidly in popularity with shippers in Washington state and Oregon, as well as the Midwest and East Coast.

In 2013, Cold Train expanded its Washington-based refrigerated container fleet to over 400 state-of-the-art Hyundai 53′ containers while adding several new destinations on the East Coast. As a result, Cold Train now delivers refrigerated cargo from Washington and Oregon to 20 states: Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, Wisconsin, Ohio, Pennsylvania, New York, New Jersey, Connecticut, Massachusetts, Delaware, Maryland, Virginia, Tennessee, North Carolina, South Carolina, Louisiana, Mississippi, Georgia and Florida. Furthermore, Cold Train has regular express service from Washington and Oregon to Toronto.

In addition to shipping Washington state and Oregon fresh produce and frozen foods eastbound to 20 states and one province, Cold Train hauls frozen and refrigerated foods and some dry goods back from the Midwest and East Coast to Washington state and Oregon. Hauling loaded or full containers both directions maximizes utilization of equipment, which helps to reduce costs and provide both an inbound and outbound service for shippers and receivers.

The combined assets of Federated Capital Corp. and Cold Train will provide a wide variety of freight transportation options for shippers, growers, producers, packers, food processors and retailers alike.

“The addition of Cold Train to our portfolio of service and asset based companies will allow Federated Capital Corporation to add the fast growing ‘domestic intermodal’ sector to its freight rail transportation portfolio,” Louis P. Ferris, president of Federated Capital Corp., said in a press release. “This is important as many shippers and receivers are looking for door-to-door intermodal logistics solutions that decrease cost, increase efficiency and reduce the carbon footprint. Federated Capital plans to add a minimum of 1,000 containers to the Cold Train fleet over the next 5 years, bringing the fleet to 1,400 containers.”

“We are excited about becoming part of the Federated group of companies, and with Federated’s resources behind Cold Train, we will have the capital necessary to keep pace with the continued increasing demand as we move towards our goal of becoming the largest asset based temperature controlled domestic pure intermodal carrier,” Lawson added in the press release. “With fuel prices continuing to remain high and long haul trucks becoming increasingly regulated and in tighter supply, shippers and receivers are finding that Cold Train provides a reliable, cost effective and fast transportation option, while also adding much needed capacity.”

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Gloucester Terminals LLC completes $2 million capital improvement

As NYKCool vessel the Jorgen Reefer was unloaded Dec. 24 at the Gloucester Marine Terminal in Gloucester City, NJ, Holt Logistics Corp. announced through Gloucester Terminals LLC that it has completed a $ 2 million facility renovation.

The arrival of the Jorgen Reefer brought 9,000 pallets of fresh Chilean fruit to the Delaware River. The shipment included staples of the Chilean winter fruit season such as table grapes, blueberries, peaches, nectarines and plums. imageA worker loads the first pallet of fresh Chilean table grapes into the new, state-of-the-art ‘Box 5′ refrigerated storage facility at the Gloucester Marine Terminal in Gloucester City, NJ.Approximately 7,000 pallets were to be distributed from the Gloucester Marine Terminal facility.

The “Box 5” project is a 60,000-square-foot, state-of-the-art cold storage facility located in the Gloucester Terminal. The improvements, funded by Gloucester Terminals LLC are another case of private investment meeting the dynamic nature of the fresh produce industry. The Gloucester Marine Terminal is home to one of the largest on-dock refrigerated facilities in the United States, and host to one of the largest roof-mounted solar panel arrays in North America. 

“This facility improvement underscores our commitment to providing the finest and most efficient perishable distribution center services in the United States,” said Leo A. Holt, president of Gloucester Terminals LLC. “In our continuing efforts to stay ahead of the curve, we are now very well positioned to accommodate larger vessels and greater varieties of perishable and non-perishable products that will come to our port upon the completion of the Panama Canal widening and Delaware River deepening.”

The “Box 5” facility is equipped to handle both traditional pallets of produce as well as taller “Hicube” pallets that are used with large shipping containers.

The facility has variable temperature controls that are able to accommodate all varieties of fruit products, and it is equipped with state-of-the-art USDA-approved Cold Treatment equipment that adheres to the strict standards of import into the United States. The Gloucester Marine Terminal has over 1.1 million square feet of cold storage space.

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