Just a month to get in entries for a competition that’s looking for innovative and promising public policy options to address challenges facing agriculture and the food system.
The Farm Foundation’s competition with its June 1st submission deadline is based on the group’s report released last December… The 30-Year Challenge: Agriculture’s Strategic Role in Feeding and Fueling a Growing World. The report breaks down the challenges into six major categories: 1. Global financial markets and recession; 2. Global food security; 3. Global energy security; 4. Climate change; 5. Competition for natural resources; and 6. Global economic development. Cash prizes totaling $20,000 will be handed out:
“Agriculture globally faces the challenge of how to provide food to a world that is expected to have 9 billion people by 2040,” says Farm Foundation President Neil Conklin. “This challenge exists at the same time that we are already seeing pressures on global resources, as well as increased demand for agriculture to provide not only food, but feed, fiber and fuel.
“It is not clear that today’s public policies-designed to deal with issues of the last century-provide appropriate tools and incentives to address the challenges of the next 30 years,” Conklin continues. “Farm Foundation is offering this competition as a catalyst for innovative ideas and approaches.”
The 30-Year Challenge project is directed and led by Farm Foundation. Contributing financial assistance to the project are: the Alliance for Abundant Food and Energy, the American Farm Bureau Federation, the National Corn Growers Association, the National Pork Producers Council, and the United Egg Producers.
Apparently, I need better watchdogs. While I spend a lot of time scouring the internet and combating online misconceptions and issues pertaining to agriculture and food production, I sometimes will miss a situation happening right under my nose. A friend of mine brought this flier to me yesterday. This flier about reducing your carbon footprint was hung in the Student Union at South Dakota State Univesrity, a land grant institution, promoting a meatless diet.
The flier reads, Make a change in YOUR carbon FOODprint. Did you know that producig a pound of beef creates 11 times as much greenhouse gas emission as a pound of chicken and 100 times more than a pound of carrots? Did you know that if every American had just one meat-free meal per week, it would be the same as taking more than 5 million cars off our roads? Did you know that eating one pound of meat emits the same amount of greenhouse gases as driving an SUV 40 miles?
I’m so disappointed that I missed this opportunity to host the first ever SDSU Meat-In Day, like the events held at Penn State by my good friend and fellow Beef Ambassador, Chris Molinaro. However, I’m proud that my friend was able to get the dining services to take these posters down. Did you know that one in every three college students experiments with vegetarianism? We need to get the facts out about meat as a healthy part of a well balanced diet. Don’t listen to the hyped up statistics. Before we point fingers, we need to take a look at ourselves. How often do you drive a car needlessly? How much water do you waste every day? What is your carbon footprint? Let’s make the change within ourselves instead of pointing fingers at beef cows. To me, that makes a lot more sense. -Amanda Nolz
A crazy hysteria has swept the nation as the media sensationalizes and builds fear about the flu H1NI, also commonly known as the Swine Flu. This flu has been discussed through every media outlet imaginable, and it’s safe to say that the world is concerned about this flu strain. While it’s tragic to hear about the recent deaths caused by this illness, I think there are some things we can learn from how public health officials handled this situation in the United States. I ran across this article in the Advertising Age titled, “10 Tips Marketers Can Learn from CDC’s Response to H1N1 Epidemic,” written by Pete Blackshaw.
Blackshaw explores the tips marketers can take away from this situation including: 1. Empower Those Who Want to Help Others, 2. Make Search Really, Really Simple and Accessible, 3. Syndicate the Message, 4. Communicate in Multiple Languages, 5. Push Mobile as a Service Extension, and Don’t Make it Complicated, 6. Be Simple and Selective on Twitter, Don’t Over Complicate, 7. Prime the Messaging, 8. Update the Scorecard 24/7, 9. Exploit Sight, Sound and Motion and 10. Proactively Ask for Feedback.
Blackshaw writes, Now we have a crisis that touches virtually everyone’s anxiety and fear and cuts across multiple brands and categories: the “swine flu” outbreak. At the center of this crisis is the U.S. government’s Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The communication work it is leading is neither sexy nor flashy, but it’s highly effective — and critically timely. Moreover, the approach is building credibility. The agency has added nearly 15,000 Twitter followers in the past two days, bringing the total to 40,000. Data from my employer, Nielsen Online, also suggest the CDC website is generating unprecedented links and references, including from Wikipedia, across all dimensions of this issue.
Without a doubt, my past post on the 3 Strikes Ranch incident created an incredibly heated discussion from both animal rights supporters and animal welfare advocates. The mistreatment of animal wasn’t the only topic discusses as readers debated horse slaughter, the secret agenda of HSUS and how the horses were treated after the owner was placed into custody. I promised to keep everyone posted with updates on this event, and I thought I would send this release your way. Without a doubt, we can all agree that the mistreatment of these horses is a tragic story that should have never happened. I absolutely do not stand behind these bad apples in agriculture. I pray that these horses find homes soon, and this scenario is brought to justice. -Amanda Nolz
The wife of troubled Three Strikes Ranch owner Jason Meduna has been cited by the U.S. Attorney’s office for animal cruelty, and could face additional federal charges as well. Anissa Meduna was cited after the Bureau of Land Management determined one of the malnourished mustangs being held on the Morrill County ranch for the agency was adopted in her name. Mrs. Meduna co-owns the ranch with her husband and sits on the non-profit ranch’s board of directors.
BLM spokesperson Cindy Wertz says the agency is still determining how many of the animals transferred to the ranch by the agency had been adopted by Mrs. Meduna. Wertz says at least three mustangs and three burros that were taken to the ranch by the Bureau of Land Management were in Anissa Meduna’s name. Five of those six are dead, and the one living mustang, which is the subject of the federal citation, is being monitored at the BLM facility in Elm Creek, Neb.
If Mrs. Meduna is convicted on the federal count, she faces a $300 fine. Jason Meduna is awaiting a hearing May 20th in Morrill County court on a state charge of felony animal cruelty, which could result in jail time, a fine, or both.
To help it build domestic demand the United Sorghum Checkoff Program has selected Broadhead + Co to launch a new campaign.
As part of these efforts, Broadhead + Co will provide domestic marketing strategy for the new sorghum checkoff program. Initially work will focus on growing the use of sorghum for ethanol and as well as opening new edible-uses markets for crop. Also, Broadhead + Co will partner with the Renewable Fuels Association building infrastructure for ethanol distribution within key sorghum geographies.
“We see sorghum as the natural fit for an advanced biofuel because it’s a viable and available alternative to other grains,” said USCP Chair Bill Greving of Prairie View, Kan. “Broadhead’s experience in this arena will prove to be invaluable as we develop this market and grow demand.”
Additionally, Broadhead + Co will spearhead projects to grow new use development of sorghum in the gluten-free market as well as other areas. Broadhead + Co will work with researchers, manufacturers and marketers of sorghum and other such crops to coordinate their efforts and realize this market’s potential.
All the Corn Farmers Coalition (CFC) wants to do is get policy makers to listen to the real facts about issues affecting America’s largest crop.
For example, “It’s a little known fact that we are growing five times as much corn as our grandfathers did in the 1930s on 20 percent less land,” said CFC Director Mark Lambert during a Thursday teleconference with reporters.
Facts like these are vital as the issue of indirect land use gains traction in ethanol policy decisions on the state and federal levels, according to Ross Korves, economic-policy analyst and expert on farm and trade policy for the research firm ProExporter Network. “As corn farmers get more productive, so does corn’s environmental impact abate,” said Korves. “More productivity per acre means we produce more corn on the same acres. There is no land use effect because we are simply not using more land.”
National Corn Growers Association first vice president Darrin Ihnen says they are concerned because the indirect land use issue has already led to an unfavorable ruling last week for corn ethanol under the California Air Resources Board’s new low carbon fuel standard even though both ethanol and agricultural interests provided compelling arguments that the calculations were flawed and failed to take into account important considerations such as increasing corn yields and credits for distillers grains by-products. On the federal level, EPA is required to make indirect land use calculations as they implement the new Renewable Fuels Standard. “Let’s not make critical decisions like this without all the facts at hand and without a fair comparison of what it takes to make a gallon of gas to a gallon of ethanol,” said Ihnen.
CFC is a recently-formed alliance of the National Corn Growers Association and 10 state corn associations
The new global headquarters for Novus International in St. Louis has been awarded the Platinum LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) certification by the U.S. Green Building Council. Platinum certification is the highest designation available to buildings that demonstrate energy efficiency and sustainability.
The building, which is located in Missouri Research Park, is only the fourth building in Missouri to achieve the distinction and one of fewer than 100 buildings in the United States to receive the designation.
The 90,000 square foot facility consolidates the Global Headquarters and International Research Center for the animal health and nutrition company into a single facility. In addition to office space, the building includes 10 research laboratories, state-of-the-art employee and customer training center, a fitness center and cafeteria.
The building has some great “green” innovations, such as the largest array of solar panels in Missouri (5,000 square feet), countertops made from recycled milk jugs and scrap aluminum, a fitness room floor made from recycled tires, and carpet containing recycled yarn, plus landscaping using Missouri native grasses and plants designed to require no irrigation, equating to thousands of gallons of water saved each year.
I recently posted an interview with Jeremy Lutgen, Novus Public Relations Manager, about the new green building and their upcoming opening ceremony in June.
Those of us who have attended a lot of NAFB Washington Watches over the years know that they wouldn’t be anywhere near as beneficial without the help of Larry Quinn, Assistant Director for Communications Operations, USDA. Everyone in ag communications should know Larry and for those in farm broadcasting in particular, he’s documented our “happenings” in his weekly e-newsletter for as long as I can remember.
We gave Larry another thank you last night at dinner by presenting him with an NAFB commemorative edition tractor (to add to his collection). Larry is pictured with his wife Christine.
So we give Larry big thanks for helping us out and getting us in and out of USDA one more time during the early part of this transition year.
Schillinger Genetics has announced the opening of new southern Illinois research station this coming May at their new facility located in Vandalia, Ill.
This spring, USDA will conduct the first-ever, wide-scale survey of organic farming in the United States to find out how the growth of organic farming is changing the face of U.S. agriculture. Participants can mail back their forms or complete the survey online.
Members of NAFB are hearing from a variety of senators and congressmen this morning in the Longworth House Bldg. First up on the program was Senator Tom Harkin, D-IA.
Harkin pointed out that he’s the only person to ever serve as chairman of the Senate Ag Committee 3 times. His remarks touch on a lot of subjects important to agriculture and I thought I’d just go ahead and post them here for you. Please feel free to download and use.
Julie McPeake, Southeast AgNet, is attending her first NAFB Washington Watch program. I spoke with here in between presentations this morning.
Julie says this is a great opportunity, especially for farm broadcasting newcomers, to dip their foot in the water (interviewing DC politicos). She says she’s in “sponge mode” which means she’s listening and learning so she can better serve her listeners back home.
Julie also has the honor of receiving a Pam Jahnke nickname which is Peaches. You’ll find out why when you listen to her interview.
The organizers of two international agricultural shows have announced a formal alliance to coordinate show dates that will allow agriculture producers to attend a major international agriculture trade show each year.
The alliance is between DLG (German Agricultural Society), the organizer of the world’s largest agriculture machinery show Agritechnica, and the Association of Equipment Manufacturers (AEM), organizer of the new agricultural trade show AG CONNECT Expo, scheduled for January 13-15, 2010 at the Orange County Convention Center in Orlando, Florida. Agritechnica is held on odd numbered years with the next show scheduled for November 10-14, 2009 at the Fairgrounds in Hanover, Germany.
Both Agritechnica and AG CONNECT Expo 2010 are organized with a focus on providing a world-class event with top value and the highest quality experience for registrants. The philosophy shared by the shows is to provide customers with the full agriculture trade show experience. For 120 years the DLG exhibition has highlighted technological advances favored by agriculture producers. AG CONNECT Expo 2010 has a parallel concept that will provide a global gathering place in the United States for agriculture producers, manufacturers and agribusinesses.
Have you visited? If so, what are your thoughts about this concept? Should this model be looked at for more companies and farm groups? Could we do Commodity Classic online?
Think of it as an online event where nutritionists, veterinarians, animal production/husbandry managers, and technical consultants, as well as manufacturers and marketers of animal health products, feed ingredients and feed additives, can engage in real-time interaction via instant messaging, chats, e-mails or the exchange of electronic business cards by making use of any available local internet access. Far from the usual online experience, the virtual forum will provide true capabilities for interaction.
Our friends at Farm Foundation are sponsoring another discussion on an important issue facing farming in America: animal welfare as it relates to production agriculture.
In true Farm Foundation form, the Tuesday, May 5th forum will feature speakers bringing several divergent opinions to the table:
* Paul Shapiro, Humane Society of the United States,
* Tim Amlaw, American Humane Association,
* Dr. Jim Reynolds, American Veterinary Medical Association and the University of California-Davis,
* Bob Krouse of Midwest Poultry Supply, and
* Dr. David Blandford, Penn State University.
Once again, the forum will by on Tuesday, May 5th from 9 to 11 a.m. at the National Press Club, 529 14th Street NW, Washington D.C.
Make your reservation by noon CDT this coming Friday, May 1, to Mary Thompson, Farm Foundation Director of Communication at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Sign up for the long-awaited Average Crop Revenue Election Program, or ACRE, started yesterday on the same day that farm broadcasters from around the nation were in Washington DC for the annual Washington Watch Issues Forum, so naturally it was a hot topic for representatives from the National Corn Growers Association to discuss.
NCGA Vice President of Public Policy Jon Doggett answered lots of questions about the program that was part of the 2008 Farm Bill and represents a fundamental reform in the farm safety net. “It is based on revenue rather than just a price trigger,” Jon explains. “It’s really more of a risk management tool than a price support.”
Jon says the program gives farmers an alternative and they have lots of time to research whether it is a good option for them, since the sign up period runs through August 14. NCGA has developed an on-line ACRE Resource Center website where farmers can get more information about the program and even calculate payments.
Listen to Chuck’s interview with Jon about ACRE here:
In true traditional style, NAFB members attending the Washington Watch program got their picture taken with the Secretary of Agriculture. Thank you to the USDA photographer for taking this photo for me. The full size version is in the photo album.
Internet access was lacking at the NAFB USDA visit this morning so I couldn’t live stream Sec. Vilsack’s comments as I had intended to do. During last year’s visit you may recall that I live streamed his predecessor which was the first time I had done that on location. But I did record Sec. Vilsack and have the audio available for you here.
I was surprised that he didn’t mention swine flu in his remarks but he does address the issue in the question and answer session. Before he arrived we were instructed not to ask anyone except him about this issue. I understand that they may want to have some control over who speaks for USDA on this issue but can’t ever remember being told what we can or cannot ask and of whom. Interesting way to treat the press.
Several of us were live tweeting the morning’s session. I had to leave early since I needed internet access and my aircard couldn’t pick up a good signal in the USDA building. Some of us need to multitask you know.
So for now I’ll leave you with the full audio, including questions and answers.
The President of the Humane Society of the United States, HSUS, Wayne Pacelle, spoke to the National Association of Farm Broadcasting this evening. I would characterize his comments as a challenge to everyone involved in agriculture and especially animal agriculture. On the one hand he suggested that we should join with them on areas of common agreement but then on the other hand he made it very clear that the world is changing and farmers have to accept it that things are different. Kind of like saying that we have no choice but to succumb to their agenda so why not make it easy.
I had an opportunity to ask a question and although I had many like, “Why do you use your name to suggest that you’re affiliated with local humane societies and animal shelters when you really aren’t?” However one of my Twitter followers sent in a couple of questions and I posed one of hers. She’s a farm wife in Tennessee and here’s what she wrote.
I have so many questions for Mr. Pacelle and other animal rights activists. My first question would be how he plans to help those families he is so strongly trying to put out of business or are we to try and find a new way of life, a new home, a new life style? We’ve heard it before, but farming isn’t just a job – it’s a passion. We certainly don’t do it because we’re getting rich. We do it because we love the land, the animals, and the work. The attack on animal agriculture is really an attack on the entire ag industry as we are inter-dependent on one another.
I’m posting his answer to my question to see if you can understand what he said. I think he got a little defensive and avoided a direct answer. Feel free to post your thoughts.
You can listen to my question of Wayne and his answer here:
Wayne claims the organization has over $200 million to work with so I would suggest that agriculture take them seriously. Their emotional pitch is very seductive as evidenced by the number of celebrities who publicly support them and all the folks giving them money. But rather than be afraid of them I think we have a great opportunity to get out and use the new social media forms of communication to battle the sensationalized, isolated stereotypes these groups employ so effectively. Farming is a way of life and we wouldn’t have the great country we have today if if wasn’t for the American farmer. I think that’s a story the public wants and needs to hear and I encourage farmers in particular to tell and show it. I am seeing more and more of them doing it too.
Post Update: At the request of several followers I’m posting the full comments and question and answer session for you to listen to here. Basically, it is a good idea to know what the enemy says directly from their mouth. Please let others know so they can hear this. Agriculture as a way of life is very threatened by groups like HSUS and I think you’ll hear that very clearly.
After the NAFB business meeting this afternoon it was time for the Issues Forum. This is where various organizations are set up with tables at which their spokespeople are available for interviews on the issues important to their constituents.
So, farm broadcasters like Gary Cooper, Southeast AgNet, get out their recorders and get to work. I think I did at least 10 interviews of my own which I’ll be posting here in coming days. There are a number of new photos in the online album of these NAFB members at work.
To get a better understanding of what the level of conversation is like in the room I shot a short video clip of it right when things got started.
Roger’s presence was very timely when you consider some of the things going on in Nebraska and in Washington, DC right now that are affecting farming. I spoke with Roger after the luncheon, which was sponsored by the United Soybean Board. He says they want farm broadcasters to join with A-FAN to tell the farm story since there are so many organizations and efforts that are working tear down the industry. I think that’s what all NAFB’ers do so he had a very open audience. We spoke about the use of social media which allowing farmers to tell their own story even though it’s not really their nature to do so. He says that if farmers don’t do it they’ll be in trouble in the future. Roger says he’s learning Facebook now and hopes to tackle Twitter next.