GMO Labeling Bill Seen as “Step to Restoring Sanity”

cfsafFarm and commodity groups are throwing their support behind a new bill that is hoped to end some of the craziness over food labeling in this country. The Coalition for Safe Affordable Food, which includes the likes of the National Corn Growers Association (NCGA), the American Soybean Association (ASA), and the American Farm Bureau Federation (AFBF), as well as more than 30 other groups, praised the bipartisan bill from Reps. Mike Pompeo and G.K. Butterfield, the Safe and Accurate Food Labeling Act, which is designed to establish a federal labeling standard for food and beverage products made with genetically modified ingredients (GMOs).

“The introduction of the Safe and Accurate Food Labeling Act was an important first step to restoring sanity to America’s food labeling laws,” said Martin Barbre, President, NCGA. “GMOs are perfectly safe and America’s farmers rely on this proven technology to protect our crops from insects, weeds and drought.”

Supporters believe the bill would help eliminate confusion among consumers and give those consumers better confidence in what they buy.

“This bill is a commonsense, science-based approach to an issue we realize is close to the hearts and minds of so many consumers,” said Iowa farmer and ASA President Ray Gaesser. “Americans want to know that their food is safe, and the solutions proposed in this bill will ensure that they have that information.”

Farm Bureau President Bob Stallman says the measure makes clear that the Food and Drug Administration will be the Nation’s foremost authority on the use and labeling of foods containing GMOs and would eliminate a patchwork of state regulations across the country.

“The diversity of innovative options farmers and ranchers have in regard to how they grow our food is one of the reasons U.S. consumers enjoy a wide variety of foods that are also among the most affordable in the world.”

Other highlights of the bill include ensuring the FDA conducts safety reviews and providing better information and consistency for consumers.

Study: Bioenergy Crops Could Become Invasive

invasiveplantjournalWhile some crops could hold great potential as bioenergy sources, they could also pose a threat as an invasive species. A new study in the journal Invasive Plant Science and Management says that a seed-bearing form of giant miscanthus could be trouble for farmers if it escapes cultivation.

The article “The Relative Risk of Invasion: Evaluation of Miscanthus × giganteus Seed Establishment,” reports the results of field tests on the fertile “PowerCrane” line of giant miscanthus…

Giant miscanthus produces abundant biomass, has few pests, and requires few inputs after establishment. While these traits make it an excellent bioenergy crop, they are also traits of invasive species. This species has the ability to produce up to 1 billion spikelets per acre per year that can disperse seed into the wind.

The researchers looked at seedling establishment in seven different habitats and found a high seedling mortality—99.9 percent overall. But that small percentage that escapes would still leave 1 million spikelets per acre in the seed bank. The authors urge caution in establishing any species that has the potential to become invasive to surrounding farmland.

Farmers Urged to Prep Propane Equipment for Spring

Propane-Council logoSpring is in the air, and planting is either started or getting ready to get started across the country. The Propane Education & Research Council (PERC) is urging farmers who use their fuel to make sure spring preparation includes prepping that propane-fueled equipment.

Irrigation Engines
After a long winter, rodents, debris, and exposure to the elements are the most common source of engine issues, said Pete Stout, product manager for Origin Engines. Stout encourages farmers to refer to their product manuals for maintenance needs specific to their engine models, and offers these tips for preparing irrigation engines for spring planting:

* Disconnect the engine battery and check battery voltage.
* Clear away any dirt and debris that have collected on and around the engine. Pay special attention to clutch bellhousings, radiator shrouds, and wire harnesses.
* Inspect wire harnesses for cracked or exposed wires and make repairs if necessary.
* Check front drive belts for proper tension and wear.
“I also urge farmers to place engines inside of structures, such as a simple carport style shelter, for the summer growing season,” Stout said. “UV sunlight and general exposure to extreme weather can be tough on engine power units.”

PERC goes on to suggest that before that spring storm rolls through and knocks out power, propane generators are checked and cleaned. Pickup trucks running on the clean fuel also need to be properly maintained to get the most out of the efficiency propane autogas can bring. The same goes for forklifts and other propane-powered equipment.

In addition, you can check out PERC’s Propane Farm Incentive Program, which could make up to $5,000 available to farmers who switch to propane. More information is available here.

Corn Growers, NASCAR Making Spring Greener

nascarracetogreen1Corn growers across the country are either busy planting or getting ready to plant. A little different initiative also shows their environmental concern. This month, the National Corn Growers Association (NCGA) is joining NASCAR for the second year of the NASCAR Race to Green Campaign.

The goal of NASCAR Race to Green is to highlight the accomplishments of NASCAR Green™ programs like the move three years ago to Sunoco Green E15, a fuel blended with 15 percent American Ethanol, and its massive tree planting initiative to help reduce the sport’s carbon footprint.

“American Ethanol is a key part of NASCAR’s efforts to reduce the sport’s carbon footprint,” said Jon Holzfaster, a Paxton, Neb., farmer and chairman of NCGA’s NASCAR Advisory Committee. “These high-performance cars have put more than five million tough competition miles on E15 in the last three years, reducing greenhouse gas emissions by 20 percent. Combine this with the massive tree planting effort underway, and the results are phenomenal.”

American Ethanol, which is supported by corn checkoff investments and ethanol plant members of Growth Energy, has committed to plant 50 trees for every American Ethanol Green Flag waved during NASCAR’s national series races in the month of April.

The NASCAR Race to Green program runs through April 25. More information is available at

Industrial Hemp Making its Case

vote-hempIndustrial hemp could be on the verge of becoming a respectable alternative crop in the United States, as it once was back when the country was founded and our first president grew it on his farm.

Ben Droz with Vote Hemp was one of the attendees at National Agriculture Day last week in Washington, and he’s thrilled to talk about how hemp is part of the latest farm bill.

“It allows states to conduct pilot program research projects at the university level and through the state departments of agriculture,” but just in those 10 states where it’s already legal to grow hemp. “Ultimately, I’m sure that we’ll get positive results, and those results will encourage lawmakers to change these laws so farmers can grow this profitable crop.”

Ben said the Farm Bill defined industrial hemp, not to be confused with marijuana despite its similar appearance, as having just 3/10 of a percent or less of THC – the active ingredient in the drug. Even if you smoked a hemp joint the size of a telephone pole, Ben said you still wouldn’t get high. Historically, George Washington and Thomas Jefferson grew hemp, and Henry Ford was actually doing research on hemp fuels and hemp biocomposites. In the picture, Ben’s carrying a hemp composite briefcase and wearing a tie made of hemp, and he says hemp food products are available in many grocery stores.

“There’s literally thousands of uses for hemp.”

Listen to all of Cindy’s conversation with Ben here: Interview with Ben Droz, Vote Hemp

2014 Ag Day Photo Album

Coverage of National Ag Day is sponsored by BCS Communications

Soybean Growers Applaud Tax Extenders Package

ASAlogo1Soybean growers are welcoming news of a couple of important measures moved forward in one bill. The American Soybean Association says a two-year extension of the dollar-per-gallon biodiesel tax incentive and a reinstatement of the pre-2014 expensing amounts for farm infrastructure and equipment under Section 179, both in the Senate Finance Committee Chairman’s Tax Extenders Package, are key issues for group’s members.

ASA First Vice President Wade Cowan, a farmer from Brownfield, Texas, issued the following statement on the committee’s proposal:

“The extension of the biodiesel tax credit is huge. Biodiesel blenders create a renewable and safe domestic energy source for our country and a valuable market for the soybean oil American farmers produce. The credit further encourages the development and sustained success of the biodiesel marketplace, and much credit goes to Chairman Wyden and Ranking Member Hatch and specifically Sens. Grassley and Cantwell for recognizing the importance of the biodiesel tax incentive and including it in their proposal…

“The proposal’s Section 179 reinstatement is also important. This enables farmers and other small business owners to expense investments made in new technology, equipment and infrastructure in their operations. Given the land-based and capital-intensive nature of farming, not to mention the ever-advancing technology we need to farm sustainably and competitively, this program helps us to stay on the cutting edge of our industry.”

Cowan also pointed out the biodiesel industry has been operating without the credit since the end of the fiscal year in September and called on the full committee to take up the measures quickly and move them on to the full Senate and House for final approval.

Freshman Lawmaker Learns & Teaches on Farm Bill

rod-davisOne of the problems of being a new lawmaker is you seem to come in on the middle of things.

“I feel like a person who walked into a coffee shop three years after a debate started, sat down at the table, and they say, ‘Hey, help fix this.’ I had a steep learning curve,” said Illinois freshman Congressman Rodney Davis when asked about his part in the new Farm Bill, which he is happy about, adding that he felt his role was to help educate non-Midwesterners about the impacts of some parts of the bill.

Speaking with Cindy during the recent American Coalition for Ethanol (ACE) Biofuels Beltway March in Washington, D.C., Davis said part of that education effort was talking about how the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) proposal to slash the amount of ethanol and biodiesel to be blended into the Nation’s fuel supply could affect the commodity title of the bill. Plus, he said part of the reason pro-ethanol forces, including himself, lost the food-versus-fuel debate was the lack of educating the public.

“We need to make sure we educate those who may not know why they’re against ethanol production, why they’re against renewable fuels, and educate them how ethanol production is making cheaper, better feed for our livestock industry and how we can work together to make sure we put more homegrown fuels in our system and still provide cheap food,” Davis said.

Another big issue for the first-term congressman is the Water Resources Reform and Development Act (WRRDA), a bill that includes provisions to update locks and dams on the Nation’s transportation waterways critical to agricultural trade and passed the House by a nearly unanimous margin last year but is hung up in the Senate.

“We’re going to work together over the next month to push this bill out, because it’s crucial to our farmers, because 80 percent of the products that go down the Mississippi River, which my district abuts, are coal and grains. If we can’t get our products out into the open ocean, then we can’t continue to feed the world.”

Listen to all of Cindy’s conversation with Davis here: Interview with Rep. Rodney Davis (R-IL)

2014 ACE Biofuels Beltway March photo album

Corn Growers: Plantings Down, But Plenty of Stocks

ncga-logo-newThis year’s corn plantings are expected to be down this year, but growers say there will be plenty of stockpiles for all needs. While soybean plantings are expected to be a record, the latest U.S. Department of Agriculture figures show that American farmers expect to plant 3.7 million fewer acres of corn this year, down four percent from 2013. But the National Corn Growers Association says, don’t worry, there are plenty of stocks going into the year, and it would still be the fifth-largest U.S. corn acreage planted.

“In 2013, U.S. farmers produced a record crop abundant enough to meet all needs and provide an ample carry over into 2014,” National Corn Growers Association President Martin Barbre said. “While it is still early in the season and many factors may change the reality on the ground as planting progresses, the public can rest assured that bountiful stockpiles and adequate plantings will ensure our corn security for the year to come.”

NCGA says the plantings will yield 13.37 billion bushels, and corn stocks stand at more than 7 billion bushels, up 30 percent from the same time last year.

Ag & Energy Highlight Next Farm Foundation Forum

farmfoundationlogo3Our friends at Farm Foundation will host another one of their thought-provoking discussions, this time, talking about the energy and agricultural markets and their relationship. Titled, “Geopolitical Uncertainty in Agriculture and Energy Markets,” the April 9 Forum will be held at the National Press Club in Washington, D.C. from 9 a.m. to 11 a.m. EDT.

Current political unrest in numerous locations across the world is having a profound effect across agricultural and energy markets and generating supply chain uncertainties.

The April 9 Farm Foundation® Forum will examine the potential consequences of sudden policy changes, production issues, and unforeseen price fluctuations in a turbulent global marketplace. Panelists for this Forum will include:

Former U.S.Secretary of Agriculture Dan Glickman will moderate the panel.
Vincent Smith, scholar at the American Enterprise Institute and professor at Montana State University.
Gary Blumenthal of World Perspectives, Inc.
Brian Oleson, professor at the University of Manitoba.
Charles Doran, professor at the Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies

There’s no charge for the forum, and you can register to attend here. In addition, a webcast, including audio and slides, is available here.

Bayer’s Investment in Seeds Innovation

bayer-aif14-kneenBayer CropScience is showing its dedication to innovation several ways, starting with moving the company’s global seeds headquarters to the Research Triangle Park (RTP) in North Carolina.

“This is something that reflects our presence in the market and desire to be close to the market,” explained Geoff Kneen, Bayer CropScience’s vice president, head of strategic initiatives and RTP operations, during an interview with Cindy at the Ag Issues Forum in San Antonio. “The Americas are really the biggest market for the genetically modified seeds that we produce.”

Globally, he said they have opened several breeding stations, and recently bought a soybean breeding station in Argentina. They’re also working on developing new varieties of wheat, a crop he admits has not gotten as much technology attention as its corn and soybean cousins.

In addition to these innovations in seed technology, Geoff said they are working on educating the public about the safety and benefits of the GMO seeds they produce.

“A lot of people don’t understand the technology, and if they don’t understand it, they naturally fear it as bad, and we have to put that right,” pointing out that GMOs help growers, as well as putting more and a higher quality level of food on tables. His company has also joined a coalition of ag interests and set up a website,, to have an open dialogue on the hardest questions and provide the truth. “We encourage really difficult questions, and you can read all those answers. They’re there for peer review.”

Listen to Cindy’s interview with Geoff here: Interview with Geoff Kneen, Bayer CropScience

bayer-issues-button2014 Bayer CropScience Ag Issues Forum Photos

What’s in the Bayer CropScience Trait Pipeline

bayer-aif14-gentOur friends at Bayer are working hard to get the next generation of soybean traits in growers’ hands in the next couple of years. At the recent Ag Issues Forum, Chuck caught up with Allen Gent, who is Bayer CropScience’s U.S. soybean product manager for soybean seed and trade. He said they’re working on weed resistant traits, such as their LibertyLink seed that allows growers to spray Liberty herbicide in crop for non-selective postemergence control of the toughest weeds, and a couple of new traits in the form of what they’re calling Balance Bean and Balance GT soybeans. He says since these are GMO products, the approval process is quite long.

“The regulatory process has gotten a lot more lengthy for all companies involved,” which he admits is really a testament to how careful regulators and the industry are in putting out any new technology. He added that there has been a shift in the 10-12 year process that it takes from concept to product on the shelf, where most of that time used to be in the early development stages and is now taken up by the regulatory approval process at the end of development. Allen expects these latest traits to be approved and ready to use in the next couple of years.

Further down the road, he said they’ll be focusing on fighting more weed and disease resistance traits.

You can check out Chuck’s interview with Allen here: Interview with Allen Gent, Bayer CropScience

bayer-issues-button2014 Bayer CropScience Ag Issues Forum Photos

Bayer Tackling Citrus Greening

bayer-aif14-schrickCitrus growers in the country, especially those in Florida, have been under siege from a disease known as Huanglongbing (HLB) or perhaps better known as citrus greening. During the recent Ag Issues Forum, Chuck caught up with Bayer CropScience‘s Rob Schrick, who said while his company is able to provide some chemicals to fight the disease, they want to offer growers a more sustainable solution.

“We need these growers to be in it for the long term, so we need to be able to look beyond that [chemical solution],” he said, adding there are promising treatments out there, some of them in the GMO realm, which creates its own issues with how quickly a company can respond with a solution, trying to clear the regulatory hurdles, as well as consumer confidence hurdles to prove the technology. But Bayer wants to find a real solution for the long haul. “There’s no silver bullet, so we’re investing into enhanced research and partnering with universities and grower groups to combine our efforts.”

Rob pointed out that they are racing the clock to find a solution. In the more accepted GMO realm of crops, such as corn and soybeans, it takes 10-12 years to get a new strain through the regulatory process. For direct consumable crops, that timeframe could be extended substantially. He hopes that working with the government and universities will get them to take a new look at this to provide a solution that has that citrus tree applying its own natural defenses without the introduction of more chemicals before it’s too late.

“We need to keep these growers viable and keep these orchards in production for the long term and let these growers get back to doing what they do best: grow oranges.”

Listen to Chuck’s interview with Rob here: Interview with Rob Schrick, Bayer CropScience

bayer-issues-button2014 Bayer CropScience Ag Issues Forum Photos

Facts on Ethanol’s Side in Fight with Big Oil

jennings1It’s not always fact-based arguments proponents of ethanol are up against when battling Big Oil. But that’s why it’s all more important to make sure you have good facts on your side in the fight. Farmers who attended the recent Commodity Classic in San Antonio were able to sit in on a session titled, “Biofuels and the Renewable Fuels Standard, A Farmer’s Avenue to American Energy Independence,” to make sure they can talk about the success stories and silence ethanol’s critics.

Brian Jennings with the American Coalition for Ethanol was one of the panelists taking part. He said you’re not necessarily battling facts when it comes to taking on some of the myths put out by the petroleum industry.

“The message I was trying to relay to the corn growers is stay involved, remain engaged, get your neighbors and friends involved, and know that this isn’t a fact-based fight. When the fight is about facts, we always win,” Brian said, adding that ethanol doesn’t have to stoop to the lies and scare tactics of Big Oil.

Listen to Brian’s interview here: Brian Jennings, American Coalition for Ethanol

doxtad1Another effective tool in the fight is showing the positive change ethanol has brought to Rural America, creating better markets for farmers’ corn, helping the country achieve energy independence, and building up communities, like the one that Northwest Iowa corn farmer James Doxtad comes from. He says while many folks back in his home state are aware of the good the renewable fuel has brought to the heartland, too many people in the country just don’t know.

“It’s amazing how many people out there are unaware of the advantages of ethanol. Ethanol is a good thing, we’re producing a good product, and we’re doing it for a good reason.” he said.

Check out James’ interview here: Iowa farmer James Doxtad

2014 Commodity Classic Photos

Soybean Growers Glad for Farm Bill, Upset Over EPA

Soybean growers have had a mixed bag of emotions the last couple of months: happy over the passage of the much-anticipated Farm Bill … but not so happy over the government’s proposed cut to the amount of biodiesel, which is mostly made from soybeans, to be blended into the Nation’s fuel supply.

classic14-asa-gaesserAt a news conference at the recent Commodity Classic in San Antonio, American Soybean Association (ASA) president Ray Gaesser, a farmer from Iowa, said after three long years of debate, it was great to see the Farm Bill become law.

“It was a compromise bill, and the final product strengthens risk management, streamlines conservation programs, reinforces the safety net, and invests in key programs in the areas of trade promotion, research and renewables,” he said, adding a big win for ASA in the new law is that planting decisions remain separated and decoupled from income safety net programs. “This helps to ensure that farmers plant for the market and not for government programs.” ASA News Conference at Commodity Classic

classic14-asa-murphyMeanwhile, ASA Chairman Danny Murphy, a grower from Mississippi, said their first priority is to get the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to reverse its biodiesel proposal.

“These proposed regulations would reduce the production over the next year or two and really stifle the growth in a really valuable market for soybean farmers,” he said.

The hundreds of comments his members sent into the EPA might be having an effect as he told Cindy in a separate interview that EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy might be having second thoughts about her agency’s proposal. “So we hope that means they’ll make some changes and allow this biodiesel industry to grow.”

During that interview, Danny also talked about trade agreements, biotechnology, and how good demand and good prices are really helping soybean farmers do well.

“It’s an exciting time to be a soybean farmer,” Danny said.

Listen to all of Cindy’s interview with Danny here: ASA Chairman Danny Murphy

2014 Commodity Classic Photos

Living Without Regrets: Managing Weed Resistance

young1It seems like a pretty common sense idea in weed management: cleaner soybean fields will equal better yields when harvest time comes around. But Bryan Young, a professor of weed science from Purdue University who conducted the BASF-sponsored learning session, “Clean Fields, High Yields: The Keys to Solving Your Weed Problems in 2014,” at Commodity Classic told the farmers attending that they have to break it down into three steps: 1. Accept the reality of what is going on in your fields (especially as it pertains to weed management); 2. Develop a plan; and 3. Put that plan into action.

“In accepting reality, you need to acknowledge when you might have resistance and stay ahead of it,” he said, adding that denial is the biggest problem many farmers have. He said if producers start off with the right mindset, they might not have to face regret later on. “I’ve never talked to a grower who’s had resistance that’s said to me, ‘Well, I wouldn’t have done anything different.’”

Once you accept the fact that you’ve got weed resistance, Bryan said you need to put together a plan to fight that resistance, admitting it’s complicated, but if you understand the different herbicides and the best sites of action for the weeds you have, developing what you are going to do starts to come into order.

Finally, you need to put the plan into action. Bryan said growers need to have a Plan A, B and C ready, because you have to be adaptive. “Our best intentions can go awry, because Mother Nature was going to put too much or not enough rain on a residual herbicide, so we just have to know what our Plan A, Plan B or Plan C are,” he said.

Another common mistake that producers make when facing weed resistance is not doing a good enough cost-benefit analysis when deciding how much they should spend to kill the weeds. While it might cost them $30 an acre more to treat a weed-resistant field, the yield results can more than make up for the costs they would have spent.

Finally, Bryan said farmers also need to look at weed treatments while different crops are rotated in those fields because of the carry-over when beans are back in there.

Listen to more of my interview with Bryan here: Bryan Young, Purdue

BASF at the 2014 Commodity Classic Photos

Vilsack Thanks Farmers for Security, Farm Bill

classic14-vilsack-stageHe’s been a regular fixture at Commodity Classic, with this year his fifth appearance at the annual gathering of corn, wheat, soybean and sorghum growers. Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack’s message to those gathered in San Antonio at this morning’s general session was how thankful he is for many things.

“It is awfully nice to come here today to talk about the PASSAGE of a Farm Bill, as opposed the need for a Farm Bill,” adding that commodity groups, such as those gathered in front of him, made the new law a reality. Vilsack said we don’t thank farmers enough for the work they do, especially considering how vital they are in the food, energy and economic security America enjoys. In return, the U.S. Department of Agriculture is charged with making sure the implementation of the Farm Bill translates into hope for all farmers, old and new alike. “Our Farm Bill, which you helped pass, for me creates a hopeful set of opportunities and rewards, and will invest in innovation.”

Looking forward, Vilsack said they want to continue the new trend of more young farmers coming back to rural America, especially encouraging minorities, women and returning military veterans to take up what has become again a strong industry. He also outlined how USDA would approach some of the new programs in the Farm Bill and how his agency would provide knowledge and flexibility to producers so they can get the most out of it and manage risks responsibly.

During the session and in a separate news conference, Vilsack talked about the importance of biofuels made from American agricultural products and how those products should be marketed to the world. “We think the world is ready for American biofuel,” he said.

The Secretary concluded saying the rest of the country needs to better understand just how important farmers are and how their value system makes America stronger. He said because of the great responsibility our producers, who make up such a small percentage of the country, take in making sure there’s a safe and plentiful food supply allows everyone else to have more free time to pursue other opportunities, such as being a lawyer or a doctor or a plumber or anything else someone wants to become in this country.

“The great flexibility, the great freedom, the great liberty that we enjoy in this country to be whatever we want to be starts with a fact that we have a strong enough agriculture … it’s because of you.”

Transcript of speech

Secretary Vilsack at Commodity Classic

Vilsack Classic Press Conference

2014 Commodity Classic Photos

Corn Growers Talk Priorities at Commodity Classic

ncga1Members of the National Corn Growers Association are at Commodity Classic in full force this year, as part the more than 7,000+ corn, wheat, soybean and sorghum growers who have come to San Antonio. President of NCGA, Martin Barbre, a farmer from Illinois, outlined some of his group’s priorities in this coming year, including their work with a couple of partnerships, the Coalition for Safe Affordable Food and the Soil Health Partnership.

“The goal of the [Coalition for Safe Affordable Food] is to seek a federal solution that would establish standards for the safety and labeling of food and beverage and products made with biotech ingredients,” pointing out that GMO issues have been hot in the last few years, and a hodge podge of state regulations would only cloud the issue for producers and consumers. “If we get a myriad, a patchwork of state laws, how would I as a corn grower in Illinois if I’m shipping corn out to Indiana or down the Mississippi certify [my crop].”

The Soil Health Partnership has the support of Monsanto and the Walton Family Foundation and relies on a science advisory council made up of government and university experts as well as environmental groups. “These are just examples of many of the coalitions we’ve been able to work on.”

Another big topic for the corn growers is the Renewable Fuels Standard (RFS), particularly what the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is proposing to reduce the amount of corn-based ethanol to be mixed into the Nation’s fuel supply. Barbre said he’s proud of the outpouring of support his NCGA members have given in the form of thousands of calls and letters to the EPA and White House to reverse what they see as bad proposal.

“We’ve done our part so far. It’s an uphill battle, but we’ll keep our pressure on the Administration,” he said.

The new Farm Bill was welcomed by the NCGA, with Barbre calling it a law that makes sense, focusing help for growers when they need it, helping conservation efforts, saving taxpayers’ dollars and feeding the hungry.

Listen to more of Barbre’s remarks here: NCGA Press Conference with Martin Barbre

2014 Commodity Classic Photos

Elanco: Enough is Enough in Food Security Debate

wfp13-jeff1Farmers need to be able to access and use the latest food production technology to make sure a projected world population of 9 billion by the year 2050 has enough to eat. In a report titled “Enough: The fight for a food secure tomorrow,” from animal health company Elanco, company president Jeff Simmons points out that the biggest growth in population will happen in the next few years, so innovative solutions are needed now.

The United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization reports we’ll need 60 percent more meat, milk and eggs to meet demand by 2050. But, we’re already overusing the Earth’s resources; it currently takes 1.5 years to regenerate 1 year of resource use, according to the World Wildlife Fund.

“We are currently on the fast track to a crisis and a global shortage of basic foods such as meat, milk and eggs. For example, today, we are meeting global milk demand primarily by adding cows. On this path, we will need 40 million more dairy cows in order to meet consumer demand for dairy products in 2050. This is simply not sustainable,” Simmons said.

“But alternatives exist. We have — either available right now or in the pipeline — the technology that would enable us to meet consumer demand in 2050. But we need to give farmers the ability to access and utilize this technology and ensure that proven innovation and farm practices which maintain health and productivity are available for use,” Simmons continued.

Simmons has many food security experts on his side, including organizations such as Heifer International. More about how you can get involved in the movement is available at

Vilsack to Address Commodity Classic

vilsackccThe growers of the Nation’s biggest crops will once again host the U.S. Secretary of Agriculture for their biggest meeting of the year. For the fifth time in a row, Tom Vilsack will deliver the keynote address to Commodity Classic, the annual convention and trade show for corn, soybean, wheat and sorghum growers. This news releases says Vilsack speaks to an expected crowd of more than 6,000 during the event’s General Session on Friday, Feb. 28, in San Antonio, Texas.

“We are honored to welcome Secretary Vilsack-someone who has been a strong advocate and voice for agriculture-to a conference that is both focused on and led by farmers,” said American Soybean Association President Ray Gaesser. “As we face many challenges in this industry throughout this next year- trade agreements and access, conservation and water quality, moving the RFS forward and access to innovative technology-we are excited to hear the secretary speak on these issues and other important topics that impact farmers who grow the nation’s food.”

“Secretary Vilsack has done a lot to support our growers, and to encourage all farmers to speak out and represent their industry at a time when the general public is more removed than ever from the farms that feed them,” said National Corn Growers Association President Martin Barbre. “We’re looking forward to his visit to Commodity Classic so he can speak with our growers and learn more about our great efforts to rebuild consumer trust in what we do.”

The 19th annual Commodity Classic is Feb. 27-March 1, 2014, along the banks of the famous River Walk at the Henry B. Gonzalez Convention Center in San Antonio, Tex. Your ZimmComm New Media team will be there, including myself, bringing you the latest from this annual meeting of the National Corn Growers Association, American Soybean Association, National Association of Wheat Growers and National Sorghum Producers, America’s largest farmer-led, farmer-focused convention and trade show.

Check out the 2014 Commodity Classic website for additional information.

DuPont Launching Farm Watch in Iowa

dupontfarmwatchDuPont is partnering with a county sheriff’s office in Iowa to establish the state’s first Farm Watch program to enhance security and safety of rural residents and farmers. DuPont and the Story County Sheriff’s Office will work together in this off-shoot of the National Sheriffs’ Association’s Neighborhood Watch and Farm Watch.

“Farm Watch helps reduce opportunities for crime to occur in farming and rural communities,” said Paul Fitzgerald, Story County Sheriff. “Essential to this is encouraging people to report suspicious incidents to law enforcement officials as they occur and also share the information with other Farm Watch members. As well as helping to deter crime, this strengthens community spirit with everyone working together to protect their property.”

“Farmers often have a great deal of capital spread over a large expanse of land,” explained John Pieper, director of the DuPont Cellulosic Ethanol Development Program Office. “Some stock and equipment is portable and can be relatively easy to steal. While property can never be made totally secure, becoming a Farm Watch member undoubtedly reduces the risk of becoming a victim of farming or rural crime. DuPont has a vested interest in central Iowa and wants to help enhance the safety and security for all community members.”

DuPont says the goals of the program include: reducing opportunities for crime to occur in farming and rural communities; strengthening community spirit; improving communication between the farming community and the police; and encouraging people to report suspicious incidents as they occur.

Farm Watch will also offer practical crime prevention advice to farmers and landowners, to help ensure their property and goods are as secure as possible, as well as providing a marking system and signs to indicate participation in the program.

There will be an informational meeting on March 6, 2014, at the Gates Memorial Hall in Nevada, Iowa from 6:00 to 7:30 p.m.