Welcome to #CFWF16 – Saskatchewan Surprise

Chuck Zimmerman Leave a Comment

Lyle StewartWe’re getting a Saskatchewan Surprise in Saskatoon for the 2016 Canadian Farm Writers Federation annual meeting. Our reception and dinner were held in the Western Development Museum. The opening reception featured welcoming comments from the Honorable Lyle Stewart, Minister of Agriculture, Province of Saskatchewan.

Stewart says, “Agriculture in Saskatchewan is part of our identity here. To some we’re known for the wheat in their bread, for the oats in their Cheerios. Others think of us as yellow fields of canola or mustard. Still others are reminded of Saskatchewan each time they dip their spoon into a bowl of lentil soup.” But he went on to say that there’s a lot more to agriculture in the province.

You can listen to his remarks here: Lyle Stewart Remarks

Crystal JorgensenAlso welcoming us to the meeting was Crystal Jorgenson, CFWF President. Crystal was on our pre-conference tour with me which some of us dubbed the #LuckyBastardTour. That’s because our first tour stop was the Lucky Bastard Distillery where there was ample sampling. The next stop was at 9 Mile Legacy Brewing Company. We survived and she gave us an overview of the rest of our program.

You can listen to her remarks here: Crystal Jorgenson Remarks

I have started a photo album for the conference which you can find here: 2016 Canadian Farm Writers Federation Conference Photo Album

Coverage of the Canadian Farm Writers Federation 2016 Conference is sponsored by
Coverage of the Canadian Farm Writers Federation 2016 Conference is sponsored by Case IH
Audio, CFWF, International, Media

USDA Announces Grants for Veteran Farmers

Lizzy Schultz Leave a Comment

USDA Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack has announced $8.4 million in grants that will be used to provide training, outreach and technical assistance for the nation’s socially disadvantaged, tribal and veteran farmers and ranchers.

USDA was created to be ‘The People’s Department,’ and in the past eight years we have made tremendous progress in correcting past mistakes and creating a more inclusive culture within our organization. Part of that legacy includes supporting farmers and ranchers with diverse backgrounds and experience levels,” said Vilsack. “The grants announced today will be leveraged by local partners and help bring traditionally underserved people into farming, as well as veterans who want to return home to rural areas.”

The grants have been provided through USDA’s Outreach and Assistance for Socially Disadvantaged and Veteran Farmers and Ranchers Program, also known as the 2501 Program, and the program is administered by USDA’s Office of Advocacy and Outreach (OAO). The program has invested more than $83.8 million since 2010 to leverage the work of local partners. The 2014 Farm Bill reauthorized the program and expanded the program mandate to include military Veterans.

OAO works across USDA agencies to improve the viability and profitability for the operations of small and beginning farmers and ranchers. It also aims to improve access to USDA programs for historically underserved communities, increase agricultural opportunities for farm workers, and close the professional achievement gap by maximizing the opportunities available to diverse, talented young people to support the agricultural industry in the 21st century.

Ag Group, Company Announcement, Farming, USDA

Shake Up on NAFB Board

Cindy Zimmerman Leave a Comment

NAFB LogoIf you are a member of the National Association of Farm Broadcasting (NAFB), you probably received an email yesterday from the organization that there will be a special election at the annual convention next month to replace Tony St. James as 2017 NAFB president.

According to the email, This action is the direct result of the NAFB Board of Directors’ recent dismissal of St. James from his duties and responsibilities as Director and Executive Committee member. Citing unsolvable conflicts, the Board unanimously approved and the President supported this action on September 16. A number of issues drove the decision including a loss of trust and confidence among Board and staff members, and violations of the NAFB Commitment to Serve agreement. St. James’ removal was effective September 27.

tony-st-jamesTony is a 34-year broadcasting veteran & farm broadcaster on All Ag, All Day who was elected as vice president of NAFB in 2014. When I called him to get his side of this story, Tony was very gracious and kind, as he always is, and said nothing negative about NAFB leadership or staff.

“I am obviously disappointed,” Tony said. “I was elected to serve at the pleasure of the membership of NAFB to identify problems and find solutions. I feel there are certain things that you stand up for and that is not always at a cheap price.”

Tony said he was contacted by NAFB on September 8 with a complaint of “harassment” but that he was denied any opportunity to get specifics or to defend himself prior to being informed that he was being dismissed from the board. The harassment charge was not sexual in nature, but that is all we know about it.

In the email to members, NAFB President Brian Winnekins said, “This was a very difficult decision—one that was heavily considered…The Board’s focus is to always act in the best interest of the association and its membership.”

Would be interested to know the reaction of the NAFB membership about this. Since this is a legal matter, the members of the NAFB board have been instructed not to comment on it much beyond what was stated in the email. Comments are open – what say you?


Where’s the #Peanut Emoji?

Cindy Zimmerman Leave a Comment

pnut-revMost people who are active on social media know what an emoji is – those cute little images used in text messages, Twitter and Facebook posts. They started many years ago with the simple smiley or sad face made from the combination of colons and parentheses like this – 🙂

Now emojis are everywhere, and they’ve evolved well beyond facial expressions. Going to karaoke? There’s an emoji for that. Getting all dolled up? There’s an emoji for that. Going to a football game? Yep, there’s an emoji. There are dozens of emojis for food and animals from apples to zebras. But people who love peanuts sadly have no emoji.

That’s why Golden Peanut & Tree Nuts has launched the Where’s My Peanut Emoji? campaign to get a peanut added to Apple’s emoji keyboard.

Peanuts and tree nuts are not only delicious, but full of healthy fats, fiber, plant-based protein and loads of vitamins and minerals. We want to get this message out to the world — a world that now communicates by emoji. That’s why we’re leading the charge on making the peanut emoji happen.

Besides, think of all the great emoji combos the peanut could work with. PB & J, anyone? (insert bread, strawberry and peanut emoji) Seventh inning stretch? (insert baseball, beer, popcorn and peanut). And we’re sure you’re not above a few peanut puns. (insert Awww peanut emoji peanut emoji peanut emoji!!!)

Golden Peanut & Tree Nuts is urging peanut lovers to go to WheresMyPeanutEmoji.com and sign their petition, and then share the campaign on Twitter and Facebook using the hashtag #wheresmypeanutemoji. And do it while enjoying some peanuts!

Peanuts, Social Media

Congress Ratifies Treaty Tied to Global Food Security

Cindy Zimmerman Leave a Comment

Congress made history last night by finally passing a broadly-supported international treaty to strengthen American agriculture and enhance global food security, an action endorsed by the American Seed Trade Association (ASTA).

First signed by President George W. Bush, and pending for nearly 15 years, the now ratified International Treaty on Plant Genetic Resources for Food and Agriculture (“The Treaty”) will ensure U.S. public and private sector plant breeders have secure access to global plant materials as they work to develop the next generation of plant varieties to meet the needs of a growing population.

asta-logo“The Treaty is a win for the American seed industry and for agriculture innovation around the world,” said ASTA President & CEO Andrew W. LaVigne. “Ratification of the Treaty has been one of ASTA’s top legislative priorities for the past decade and has been supported by a wide range of agriculture and scientific organizations and universities. The Treaty will ensure U.S. public and private plant breeders have secure access to the materials they need to address some of the world’s most pressing challenges – from evolving plant pests and diseases, to changing climates, and feeding a growing population.”

The technical, international agreement facilitates the access and exchange of materials used to improve germplasm (seeds)–the backbone of agricultural innovation. Under the Treaty, a Standard Material Transfer Agreement ensures that the terms for access to germplasm are uniform and transparent for all contracting parties.

LaVigne added that important meetings related to the Treaty are taking place early next year, and this action by Congress the U.S. will allow the U.S. to finally have a seat at the table to protect its interests and lend its expertise.

ASTA, International, Seed

The Cuban Gold Rush

Jamie Johansen Leave a Comment

ZimmCast 524Few Americans can say they have stepped foot on Cuban soil. Even fewer can say they had the opportunity as a journalist and yet even fewer as an agricultural journalist. Luckily, I am one of those who can answer yes to all of the above. Thanks to the American Agricultural Editors’ Association (AAEA) and Alltech, I recently traveled to Cuba to learn about Cuban agriculture, tourism and the future role U.S. can play in each if the long-standing embargo is lifted.

Chicago Foods International president Paul Johnson organized and led our delegation on the week-long expedition to the nearly foreign world only 40 miles off the coast of Florida. Paul is no stranger to Cuba, making his first journey south in 1995. He helped found the U.S. Ag Coalition for Cuba which represents about 120 national groups each working collectively on individual interests with the common goal of improving trade relations with Cuba.

cuba-16-644-edited‘Normalizing relations’ was a coined term used throughout our stay in Cuba. The U.S. Ag Coalition for Cuba is working on a trade bill which would do just that. The extension of U.S. credit to Cuba is the key factor to future trade deals. This will allow exporters to compete with other countries and support two-way trade giving Cuba even more opportunities. However, tourism is also a crucial part of this normalization. Opening the border and allowing U.S. citizens to travel as tourist will allow Cuba to profit and then use to purchase agricultural products. The growth of tourism is a win-win for the U.S. because they will be wanting a safe, quality products.

In this week’s ZimmCast listen as Jamie Johansen talks with Paul who gives us a glimpse into the Cuban Gold Rush. ZimmCast with Paul Johnson, Chicago Foods International

2016 AAEA Cuba Photo Album

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Audio, International, Trade, ZimmCast

International Drone Expo to Host Drone Race

Jamie Johansen Leave a Comment

PrintInternational Drone Expo (IDE), the largest gathering of the most innovative and leading members of the UAV community from around the globe, will hold its first annual Drone Race inside the Los Angeles Convention Center this December. MultiGP, the sanctioning body and leading drone racing league for first-person view (FPV) radio-controlled aircraft in the United States, will custom design the indoor race course for first use at the show.

The IDE Drone Race event is a two-part series. MultiGP will hand select perennial talent to compete in the SoCal Maker Convention qualification rounds at the Los Angeles Fairplex in Pomona, CA on November 5, 2016. Finalists of the SoCal Maker Convention will advance to the IDE Drone Race Cup championship at the Los Angeles Convention Center and compete on a custom designed indoor race course. The specially designed drone race course will be larger than other indoor courses with more advanced obstacles, and complete with a massive spectating area for expo attendees.

“The first Drone Racing Cup presents a great opportunity to advance the sport of drone racing in terms of technicality and popularity,” said Ned Krause of IDE. “The sport’s top talent will face a course testing all of their capabilities as they navigate some of the most challenging and creative obstacles. Plus, spectators will have unprecedented up close access to the course making for an adrenaline-pumping event.”

Drone racing is one of the many activations that will be held at the International Drone Expo. Building off of the drone race, a separate drone race mini expo will be set up to also feature the best in the industry. Also incorporated into the show is a pitchfest competition in which entrepreneurs will seek investments and opportunities for their drone concepts and products from a panel of venture capitalists. Additionally, IDE show goers are encouraged to submit their most captivating drone footage for a chance to be displayed in the main hall during the expo.

aerial, Agribusiness, Events, UAV

Zimfo Bytes

Lizzy Schultz Leave a Comment

Zimfo Bytes

  • GROWMARK and Suncor have announced that GROWMARK will purchase Suncor’s 50 percent interest in UPI, Inc. in Ontario, Canada, bringing GROWMARK’s ownership of UPI to 100 percent. The two companies also entered into long-term supply agreements for GROWMARK’s petroleum needs in Ontario.
  • Kent Nutrition Group and Deluxe Feeds announced an agreement where KNG will acquire the Deluxe organization on October 3, 2016, including its feed mills, retail business, and Midwest EnRG Flakes operations.
  • The Georgia Peanut Commission and the Georgia Bankers Association are joining forces Oct. 17-21, 2016 during the 40th annual Georgia Peanut Bank Week, where local banks and financial institutions across the state will honor Georgia’s peanut farmers and their contribution made to the state and local economies during one of the biggest times of the year: peanut harvest.
Zimfo Bytes

Agworld Offers Farm Management Program

Kelly Marshall Leave a Comment

agworldAll the precision tech in the world isn’t going to do much good unless a grower can get them to work together.  That’s were Agworld comes in.  The global provider of farm management software and applications has introduced Collaborative Farming Solution (CFS), a cloud-based platform that allows growers and retailers to work together.

Most farm systems were developed for specific function, explains Agworld’s President, Zach Sheely.  They do field mapping or manage logistics, but they don’t necessarily play well with others.

“Agworld’s farm management program is a unique solution that integrates precision ag data, production planning, purchasing, input prescriptions, logistics, projections, budgeting and invoices in a seamless manner that allows growers and their ag retailers to work together,” explained Sheely. “We call this ‘work as one’ concept our Collaborative Farming Solution, or CFS.”

Kody Karloff is a fifth generation corn and soybean farmer from Nebraska.  He’s also a prime example of how CFS can work on an operation.  He uses the tools to connect his farm with his ag retailer and shares important information in real time.

“We needed to get a better understanding of our cost per acre,” said Karloff. “To achieve this goal, it’s easier if my retailer and I are working on the same platform.”

Karloff uses Frontier Coop for most of his inputs and it was the Coop that suggested CFS.  Collaboration is the best way to manage a tight economy, marketing manager for Frontier Coop, Jon Brabec believes.

“Using Agworld’s CFS, we are able to streamline the data input, create a comprehensive farm plan and help Kody make more informed decisions,” said Brabec. “Information takes the emotion out of decision making. Now we can run different scenarios, create a comprehensive plan months in advance and still make changes in real time if we have to,” he added.

Karloff feels he has replaced bargain shopping inputs with better service and better solutions by working with his cooperative.  The coop is better able to make the right recommendation and offer simplicity in reporting.

Right now you’ll find Karloff planning for next year on his iPad, taking into account this year’s inputs, yields and income.  Commodity prices might be out of our control, but Karloff is at least confident he has the information needed to make critical decisions.

“No one knows what tomorrow may bring,” says Karloff. “But it feels better knowing that we are working together with one plan, one system, one goal in mind.”

Agribusiness, Cooperatives, data

Some Say Mega Merger Bad News

Jamie Johansen Leave a Comment

zp-nh1Our latest ZimmPoll asked the question, “What’s your opinion of the Bayer-Monsanto deal?”

The mega merger is still in the news and a small majority of pollers seem to believe the Bayer-Monsanto deal is bad news for the industry. As the companies work out the kinks farmers will soon see what the future holds and how this consolidation will impact their bottom line.

Here are the poll results:

  • Better solutions for farmers – 26%
  • Bad news – 37%
  • Consolidation is inevitable – 22%
  • Don’t know- 10%
  • Don’t care – 5%

Our new ZimmPoll is live and asks the question, How should U.S. normalize relations with Cuba?

The U.S. Ag Coalition for Cuba represents about 120 national groups each working collectively on individual interests with the common goal of improving trade relations with Cuba. Cubans seek to normalize relations with the U.S. which would include the U.S. lifting the embargo, extending credit to Cuba ensuring future trade deals and opening borders allowing U.S. citizens to travel as tourists to Cuba. Trade would open doors for U.S. agriculture and tourism would seal the deal on demand for U.S. goods. However, many believe any business with Cuba is bad business because of it’s history. Tell us how you feel…end the embargo, open-up tourism for U.S., neither or both?