Here’s a challenge that one of you may be interested in.
The U.S. Farmers & Ranchers Alliance (USFRA) Board of Directors has announced that it is seeking qualified candidates for a newly approved organizational and staff leadership position, chief executive officer. Prospective candidates may obtain information regarding USFRA and a position description by sending a confidential inquiry to CEOSearch@USFRAonline.org. Applicants are requested to submit ONLY a letter of interest, resume and compensation requirements at this time electronically, in confidence, to CEOSearch@USFRAonline.org through 4:00pm CT, Friday, June 7, 2013. The USFRA Board conducts this search with full commitment to the laws governing employment, including those relating to equal opportunity.
I visited with AgChat Foundation Executive Director, Emily Zweber, pictured second from right with our panel group from last week’s Farm Credit Idea Share. She told me about the application process and encourages farmer and ranchers to take a step forward in their agvocacy efforts.
Listen to my interview with Emily here: Interview with Emily Zweber
To start us off with conviction is Jay Baer, author of Youtility: Why Smart Marketing Is about Help Not Hype. Jay is followed by the Beyond the Choir, Ag Conversations that will help spark your mind about agriculture, food, and consumers.
The core part of the time will be spent on sessions like Keeping up with Facebook and Trolls Under the Bridge (and what you can do to side step them). And, discover the Practical Side of Media Creation, what it takes to capture that short video or picture and share it well. Case studies will help connect you to real uses of social media in agriculture.
Jay Baer Convince and Convert When and where does this journey start? August 22 – 23, 2013 at the Embassy Suites in Charlotte, North Carolina is when and where you will be able to connect with Agvocacy 2.0 alumni and presenters. This event is your opportunity to discover and bring home some new ways to tell your farm or ranch story.
How do you sign up? Up to 75 people representing all sectors of agriculture will be invited to participate, with priority given to farmers and ranchers. Agvocacy 2.0 was completely sold out in both 2011 and 2012, so interested applicants should apply early. Selected attendees will be required to pay a $375 registration fee.
Last year the rallying cry of agricultural organizations for a “Farm Bill Now” fell on deaf ears in Congress, but this week’s actions by both the House and Senate Agriculture Committees to pass a bill is leading to new hope that it might finally happen.
With about 100 amendments considered or withdrawn in the House Ag Committee markup on Wednesday, there was something for everyone to be pleased or disappointed with. National Corn Growers Association president Pam Johnson says they are pleased the process is moving forward but remain “extremely concerned with the Committee’s decision to adopt a fixed-target-price program that moves U.S. farm policy away from the market-oriented reforms that have made possible a robust rural economy. It is also disappointing the Committee failed to use this opportunity to ensure a Revenue Loss Coverage program that is a genuine risk management option for producers.” The American Soybean Association expressed similar concerns.
The National Milk Producers Federation (NMPF) was pleased that the House version rejected an amendment to the Dairy Support Act. “The committee’s decision to once again reject an amendment by Reps. Bob Goodlatte and David Scott that would have undermined the House Farm Bill’s dairy safety net is gratifying to the thousands of dairy farmers across the country who support the DSA,” said NMPF president and CEO Jerry Kozak.
For the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association (NCBA), portions of the House farm bill included priorities important to cattlemen and women such as permanent disaster programs along with the elimination of the livestock title, maintaining of conservation programs and a strong research title.
An amendment supported by the National Pork Producers Council was adopted in the House bill to prevent the Grain Inspection, Packers and Stockyards Administration (GIPSA) from doing any further work on the rulemaking that resulted from the 2008 Farm Bill, and the National Fisheries Institute is happy about an amendment repealing the duplicative USDA catfish inspection program.
The Senate bill is expected to go to the floor next week while the House bill is slated for next month.
The Senate Agriculture Committee meets this morning to consider the Agriculture Reform, Food and Jobs Act of 2013, their version of a “Farm Bill.” Yesterday, farm broadcasters meeting in Washington D.C. had the chance to interview a number of representatives from various agricultural and renewable fuels organizations and most of them had something to say about what the House and Senate have in their respective draft bills.
Who would have thought just a few years ago that seeing farmers in the field managing information with their phones would be common place? As this video clip from Certified Angus Beef shows, mobile devices are embraced by farmers and besides helping save them time they are also helping their consumer customers have more confidence in the food they produce.
Barb Downey operates a commercial and registered Angus herd in Kansas. An active mobile technology user, she shares her experience on how these tools can provide more convenient opportunities for beef producers to manage herd records. This video news is provided by Certified Angus Beef LLC and the American Angus Association. Visit www.CABpartners.com or www.angus.org for more information.
The 2013 Agri-Marketing Conference was a success by all measurements says current President, Paul Redhage, FMC. We got together at the close to wrap things up and in my interview with Paul below you’ll hear all about it.
Now it’s time to look ahead to 2014 when we come to the Sunshine State in Jacksonville. The Florida Chapter is working on some serious hospitality and a unique farm tour. More information on that will be announced later. We certainly hope to see you there.
“Humor for the Heart of Agriculture” was just what we needed to conclude the 2013 Agri-Marketing Conference. To give it to us we listened to Agriculture’s Professional Funny Man, Damian Mason. Damian also conducted a breakout session titled, “Agriculture: Trends, Topics and Tomorrow.” You see, he’s more than just funny, he can get a little serious too since he has an ag economics degree and farms in Indiana on 200 acres.
Although Damian is not a college professor he is qualified to talk about trends since his line of work has made him a “professional observer of people, trends and things that are going on.” His outlook for agriculture is “bountiful” but with more and more regulation. He says that one issue in agriculture is the fact that by making a little bit of money lately it has put a target on the industry’s back. He says no one was going to pester us ten or twenty years ago. He also predicts that land values will decrease.
We’re back in the swing of things at ZimmComm World Headquarters. Actually, make that in post-Agri-Marketing Conference recovery mode. Cindy and I have a number of interviews to share with you this week from the conference and I’ll get started in this week’s program.
I sat down with Lynn Henderson, AgriMarketing Magazine, toward the end of the conference and talked about changes we’ve seen in agricultural marketing agencies. You’ll hear some names you may remember and some you may not depending on how long you’ve been involved the industry. This conversation is part of an on-going series that we plan to do periodically on different subjects. Do you have a topic you’d like to see us cover? If so, please let us know or post in comments.
Besides looking at some of the trends in agricultural marketing agencies over the years we also review some of the winners of the Best of NAMA who let their “plume fill the room” last week. We also go over the list of student marketing competition winners.
Representatives from both agricultural employers and farm labor are pleased with guest worker provisions included in the Border Security, Economic Opportunity and Immigration Modernization Act introduced in the Senate yesterday.
Leaders from the Agriculture Workforce Coalition (AWC) held a press conference yesterday to highlight the stake American agriculture has in immigration reform. Late last week, a landmark agreement on immigration reform was reached by the AWC, the United Farm Workers (UFW), and key Senators.
The bill’s provisions for agriculture include a new “blue card” program for experienced farm workers, and improvements to the current agricultural worker visa program.
Participating in the news conference were National Council of Farmer Cooperatives president Chuck Conner, National Milk Producers president Jerry Kozak, Western Growers Association president Tom Nassif, United Fresh Produce Association president Tom Stenzel, Florida Fruit and Vegetable Association president Mike Stuart, U.S. Apple Association president Nancy Foster, and United Farm Workers President Arturo Rodriguez.
A number of past presidents of the National Agri-Marketing Association attended a dinner last night with the current president and executive committee. This is a fine looking group of NAMA royalty that includes our current President isn’t it? Know who they are? The first person to correctly identify them will win a prize from the ZimmComm stash of stuff. Just post in comments.
Today things really kick in gear as the student NAMA marketing competition gets underway. Many students have been seen wandering the hallways mumbling to themselves. It may look a little strange to some people but they’re just practicing. Also on tap today is a NAMA leader workshop, board meeting, Best of NAMA awards and opening of the Connection Point trade show. I think that’s enough for one day!
My “Face of Climate Change” says, “Why all the hysteria?” At least that’s what I would be thinking if you took a picture of me after mentioning the theme of this year’s Earth Day. I’m a skeptic when it comes to man made global warming or that man can and should try to change it. I’m not a skeptic of the fact that climate changes and that it can cause havoc in areas where man has decided to live or work.
I have a real problem with organizations that are raking in huge amounts of money by creating fear on the part of a not very well educated public and calling for immediate and drastic social change which of course includes big governmental tax increases and added costs to do business or impacts how you choose to live your life. I know that the folks who have imbibed the climate change kool-aid can cite “research” that seems to give their ideas credence. However, there are plenty of other studies pointing the exact opposite direction. All of them are making predictions based on models that don’t all agree. But even more foolish than thinking that science is not questionable is buying into the fact that just because we have a drought here or a cold weather event there we are facing armageddon (watched too many end of the world movies?). Last year’s midwest U.S. drought was a very real and severe event but even though climate activists want to point to it as proof of their assertions it just isn’t so. I’m pretty sure that supporters of organizations like the Earth Day Network or the FAO would dismiss this.
There’s no doubt that as civilization continues to grow we will also continue to manage it more and more efficiently and sustainably. We don’t need hysteria and monumental government change for it to happen. Since any credible definition of sustainability has to contain a financial element you can rest assured that businesses will continue R&D to operate more efficiently and produce products that are better for the environment. We see this happening all over in agriculture today. Biotechnology like that produced by our seed companies is just one example. Drought tolerant crops will become important in areas that either have new drought patterns or have always had them.
This Earth Day let’s get positive and FarmOn by raising #FarmVoices. Farmers are a great place to look if you want to see positive ways we can take care of our land and natural resources. We need to give them more credit than the activists seem to want to do. I’m pretty sure most climate activists are sustaining their bodies by eating the fruits of the land produced by the original environmental activists!
I’m sure many people will disagree with my outlook. Your comments are welcome as long as they stay on topic and offer something new.
It’s time for the best in the agricultural marketing world – the 2013 Agri-Marketing Conference. It is quite literally the best since this is where you’ll see the Best of NAMA awards. ZimmComm will be there and you’ll find lots of information being posted right here on AgWired.
In this week’s program we get a preview of some of what you’ll find at an Agri-Marketing Conference. I visited with Jeff Hartz, Wyffels Hybrids, who is the Chair for the Best of NAMA committee. He says it’s the biggest ever!
Then I visited with Bryan Kelley, National FFA Organization, who is Chair for the Trade Show committee. We call the trade show the Connection Point. That’s where you’ll find the ZimmComm team hanging out in booth 402. The Connection Point is just one of the professional networking opportunities provided by this annual conference.
Hey folks let’s FarmOn! Now, I know that’s not real easy these days, especially for young people who want to get started. Here’s an organization that’s trying to help. The FarmOn Foundation is compiling a number of online resources while also conducting social media awareness campaigns like #FARMVOICES. We’ll learn all about it in this week’s program.
I had a conversation with Sarah Wray, a FarmOn Foundation director and one of the founders of this effort. With her husband they worked hard to find investment funds to get their farm started in Canada. From the effort it took to make that happen they started FarmOn. Sarah says it has been a very cool experience basing their decisions of what they learn by listening to young farmers and the business community. For young farmers, she says “We actually have a real live online facilitator who can help them to find resources themselves in areas we might not have on the site right now.” If you’re interested in helping this effort then consider a sponsorship.
We also talked about the FarmOn social media campaign that’s going on now through Earth Day, April 22. The organization is inviting farmers and consumers to post a photo and a thought to Facebook, Instagram and/or Twitter about their experience. Learn more about it here.
Here’s an excerpt her most recent post from Tokyo.
Every Monday through Friday, buyers of Waygu and other extremely high-quality domestic beef for outlets in Japan visually appraise hanging carcasses at Tokyo Market, where they sell them one at a time. This is a private auction and being granted entry is difficult for outsiders (thank you again, Eisenhower network). I had an unexpected invitation that arose on the evening we arrived in Tokyo, made possible through Takeichi-san (EF Fellow 1995). Ogawa-san, president of Ogawa Chikusan Kougyou Co., the harvest facility attached to the auction, narrated a tour through the auction and the plant. The 800 or so carcasses a day move slowly down the line as a small group of buyers appraise them with flashlights illuminating the ribeye the same way meat inspectors do in the U.S. The electronic board above each carcass flashes key information (including the name of the farmer/breeder) and the bids skyrocket. This is where the most expensive, highly marbled beef in Japan sells. For occasions like weddings and other important social gatherings, this is the type of beef Japanese people want to serve their guests. And it goes out the door here daily, one single, perfectly prepared carcass at a time. For occasions or clientele with slightly lower budgets, quality U.S. beef makes an excellent substitute.
The graphic comes from the 2002 University of Michigan Sustainability Assessment (pdf). Polly uses it because she is “dedicated to improving the triple bottom line of sustainability (social, environmental, economic–or people, planet, profit) for agriculture in a country that often takes food availability and security for granted.”
Here’s a great looking group of custom harvesters. This is from the U.S. Custom Harvesters booth at Commodity Classic. I met another one of these road warriors that will be featured in the upcoming film documentary, “The Great American Wheat Harvest.” He is Dan Misener, second from the right.
Dan’s business is Misener Family Harvesters which has been in business since 1969. It is truly a family business. That family business will be one of the ones featured in the documentary which is now in production. The documentary will tell their story as they follow the harvest north. Dan says around mid April they get started and work a week or so from each stop over a period of 6-7 months. That’s a long stretch away from home!
The Great American Wheat Harvest is a project that will help people understand where a loaf of bread comes from. Dan says, “We can’t let somebody else tell our story. We need to tell our own story.
This April 22 a group of young agricultural enthusiasts want you to FarmOn. The organization is inviting farmers and consumers to connect through the power of social media. Farmers are asked to post a photo and a thought to Facebook, Instagram and/or Twitter about their experience as a farmer, attaching the hashtag #FARMVOICES.
Let your picture/post answer one of the following questions:
What do you love about farming?
What challenge do you face that threatens your ability to farm?
How do you care for your land and animals?
The FarmOn Foundation was formed by a group of young agricultural enthusiasts, from rural Alberta, determined to see the industry thrive and become tangible for new farmers looking to be a part of it. With Canada losing 60% of their young agricultural producers in the last 15 years, leaving only 9.1% of farmers under the age of 35, it was mission critical to form an organization that existed solely for the benefit of young farmers and seeing them succeed.
As such, the FarmOn Foundation was born, with the mandate to inspire young farmers to action by equipping them with the tools, knowledge and hands on skills needed to increase the profitability of their agricultural businesses.
Governed by a Board of Directors, all in touch with the agriculture industry, the Foundation continues to create programming that is of benefit to farmers who are evolving their operations.
During our weekly AgChat session last night several folks interjected messages about a United Nations sanctioned initiative called the 2014 International Year of Family Farming, Feeding the World, Caring for the Earth. So I had to look at it and can’t say I like what I see. If you click around their website you’ll see some pretty mixed messages. There is a lot of feel good rhetoric about family farming and losing people to the cities. Then you’ll find a video with a page title “Do we really need industrial agriculture?” It’s on YouTube and I couldn’t get past more than a minute or two to realize these folks have an agenda that is not compatible with reality and common sense. It’s just the tired old messaging that farming today is all “industrial” and the evil corporations are taking over the world. You’d think we’re all going to die unless we do what they want. This video is produced by Food MythBusters and the Real Food Media Project. I hate to think of what they hope to teach kids.
I can empathize with the challenges presented by a changing world and changing technology. It does make it tough to make a living from a small patch of ground even here in America. But you’ll also find messages in here about how bad subsidies are. I’m just curious how these folks think they’re going to fund all their feel good programs. Where do they think the money will come from? My bet is that it will be subsidies they want which will then be “good subsidies.” I can’t support this kind of effort and as far as I’m concerned anything with the United Nations involved is suspect.
What do you think? I work in the ag media realm and have my whole career. I saw broadcasting, especially on the radio side, change as consolidation happened and we no longer had truly local ownership. I didn’t cry over it and ask the government to help me. New technology offered us some great new opportunities. Throw in some hard work too! Voila. I’m making a living. I think this can apply to farming today. It is changing and will continue to change. Instead of looking at the work agribusinesses are doing to become more efficient, produce more and safer food, and do so in a sustainable way, as evil, how about looking at it with thanks and gladness that hard working people are making a positive difference that will reap benefits in countries all over the world. Corporations are not faceless entities. They are a business model populated by real people who are also trying to make a living and working very hard at it. I think they need to be rewarded for their work!
It looks like this effort has been going on for a while. Some pretty outdated stuff on the website, especially the blog.
Congratulations to our good buddy Mace Thornton. He’s just been named Executive Director of Communications for the American Farm Bureau Federation. Here’s Mace at last year’s Agricultural Relations Council meeting. Mace just turned that gavel over at this year’s meeting.
Mace will implement AFBF’s communications strategies, manage the Communications Department and staff, and help lead AFBF as a member of its management team.
Mace has more than 28 years of communications experience, with most of this time spent working in agriculture. He joined AFBF in 1990 and has been serving as acting director, communications, since Oct. 1. He has been a senior member of the staff and has contributed to AFBF’s strategic communications, public relations, media relations, issues management, and social media efforts.
This is just too good not to share. The Midwest Dairy Association just published Feedin’ A Nation, a very entertaining music parody video.
Thank you to the more than 65 dairy farmers from age 1 to 81 for helping bring this video to life. All footage was filmed at dairy farm family homes in Iowa, Minnesota and South Dakota. Join us in “Feedin’ a Nation” by making a food bank donation to ensure the health of all generations! Learn more at http://www.DairyMakesSense.com.