Strong Sense of Optimism for Future of Farming

ag-day-14-seth Seth Pratt, a 5th generation cattle/livestock rancher and student at the University of Idaho, served as one of the panelists during USFRA’s latest Food Dialogues. Seth is a former National FFA Officer from Blackfoot, ID. and talked with Chuck after the dialogues to share his personal perspective on the next generation of America’s farmers and ranchers.

“Overall, there is a strong sense of optimism. We’ve got a burgeoning middle class across the entire globe that is pushing agriculture product demand in a way we haven’t seen. I think back to my father’s generation who came through college during the farm crisis of the 80′s and the experience he had in school as compared to the experience I now have. And while there may be less farmers overall those that are here today are excited, passionate and optimistic about the career they are beginning.”

During the dialogues, panelists discussed ways to bridge the gap between so many consumers who are at least twice removed from a family farming operation and how to limit the amount of misconceptions. Seth shared one simple idea is to invite people out to your farms and ranches. Let them see the equipment used and let them ask questions about how things are done. Another easy way Seth mentioned is the use of media and especially social media.

“There are two groups of young aspiring producers out there. The ones that say they would love to get back to the family farm or ranch and then there are those who can say they would love to begin. Reaching the needs of those two groups of students is different. Those going back to the farm know what it is like, they know the resources that are available. Those that are new maybe see more closed doors then they do opportunity. There are lots of opportunities provided through government programs administered through the USDA that do give a leg up to beginning producers.”

Seth goes on to say how important it is to connect these students interested in farming with current farmers. A mentor system would go a long way in informing them on the in’s and out’s of life as a farmer or rancher.

You can listen to Chuck’s complete interview with Seth here: Interview with Seth Pratt

Coverage of National Ag Day is sponsored by BCS Communications

Deputy Sec. of Ag Stresses Need for Communication

ag-day-14-hardinThe Deputy Secretary of Agriculture Krysta Hardin addresses the crowd during the Ag Day banquet. Her words push us to communicate beyond ourselves and connect the dots for those across the country who have yet to hear the good news about agriculture.

“Most of you who know me, know that I am a farmers daughter. That is my first identity. That’s where I get everything, my motivation, my inspiration. It comes from that farm in Southwest Georgia. We do a good job talking about agriculture I’m afraid to often with each other. We have great dinners and great programs with each other, which is great. But we also need to branch out. This is something I have learned so well from Secretary Vilsack. I think most of you know he does an hour of press everyday and it’s not just agriculture press. He talks to other people. People who don’t know they should be interested in agriculture.”

She shares Secretary Vilsack’s passion for wanting people to understand why it is so important that we all support farmers and ranchers nationwide. Deputy Hardin also issued a challenge to all present for the banquet. That challenge was for everyone to bring someone not involved in agriculture to next year’s Ag Day creating an overflow room for the banquet. A neighbor, an allied industry, a friend, a young person who does not yet have the appreciation for agriculture that has been instilled in so many of us for years.

Listen to the Deputy’s complete speech here: Deputy Secretary of Agriculture Krysta Hardin's Address

Today’s Youth Promoting Agriculture

ag-day-14-essay-winnerYoung agriculturists from across the country entered this year’s National Ag Day Essay Contest in an effort to help promote the importance of agriculture throughout our country.

Clara Knipp is from Tipton, MO and her essay titled, “Agriculture: 365 Sunrises and 7 Billion Mouths To Feed,” was selected as this year’s written winner. Clara presented her essay as part of National Ag Day activities in Washington, D.C. You can listen to it here: Clara's Ag Day Essay

Brackston McKnight of Jacksonville High School in Jacksonville, TX submitted a video essay winning that category. You can view his creative ag promo video below.

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

McQueen Presented Charles Eastin Award

ag-day-14-eastin-awardThe Agriculture Council of America presented the Charles Eastin Award to Lindsay McQueen, Union/Jackson County, IL Farm Bureaus during this year’s Ag Day festivities. The Eastin Award honors an individual who stands out as an advocate for accurate communications between rural and urban audiences.

Lindsay has been promoting agriculture and actively involved with agriculture industry her entire life. She has worked for the Farm Bureau for seven years and has been the Union and Jackson County, IL Farm Bureau Manager for four years. She was actively involved in 4-H and FFA all throughout her childhood and high school career and still volunteers with both groups.

When she addressed the crowd after accepting the award she quoted the first two words in the well-known FFA Creed. I BELIEVE – is an action she tries to live by each day. “Believe in a higher power, believe in your family, in yourself and your abilities.”

Listen to Lindsay’s remarks after being presented the award: Remarks from Lindsay McQueen, Eastin Award Winner

Happy 10th Anniversary to Agri-Pulse

al-sara-10Just like us, our friends at Agri-Pulse started their company in 2004, so we are celebrating our tenth anniversary together!

Also like us, Agri-Pulse is run by a husband and wife from a home office in a nice vacation spot, so we have a place to wind down when not on the road – which is more often than not! Where we rely on freelancers, however, Agri-Pulse has expanded over ten years to include a staff of ten that keep the business running from Washington DC to world headquarters at the Lake of the Ozarks in Missouri.

ZimmCast 433In this week’s ZimmCast, we talk to Agri-Pulse president Sara Wyant and her husband and right hand man Allan Johnson. We did this interview last week, just after the kick off of National Agriculture Day, which they passionately support.

Check out the photos from their portion of National Ag Day here:
Agri-Pulse Ag Day Photo Album

You can listen to this week’s program here. ZimmCast with Agri-Pulse

Thanks to our ZimmCast sponsor, GROWMARK, locally owned, globally strong, for their support.

Subscribe to the ZimmCast podcast here.

Snow Day Ag Day

Capitol SnowI had to walk in it a lot on National Ag Day in Washington, DC. But the snow made for a pretty picture around the nation’s Capitol.

It snowed most of the day on Tuesday so walking between activity appointments was a little cool and “humid.”

I’ve got lots of good photos from this week’s National Agriculture Day activities online including some of the late snow.

2014 Ag Day Photo Album

Coverage of National Ag Day is sponsored by BCS Communications

Outstanding Young Farmer at Ag Day Lunch

Greg WegisA member of the Outstanding Farmers of America Fraternity, Greg Wegis, Bakersfield, CA, was a mix & mingle lunch speaker during National Ag Day activities this week. He was introduced by Orion Samuelson. There were several other members in attendance too. Greg and his wife Gina were part of the 2013 Outstanding Young Farmers Program group. You can see who is in the 2014 group on their website.

The Outstanding Farmers of America Fraternity is made up of past nominees of the Outstanding Young Farmer Program. The fraternity is designed to facilitate an exchange of ideas and friendship that encourages excellence and involvement in agriculture and the local, state, and national community.

There are approximately 1,500 members of the fraternity across the nation who utilize their connections with each other in a strong networking format to assist farmers and promote the importance of America’s farming community.

You can listen to Greg’s remarks here:Greg Wegis Remarks

2014 Ag Day Photo Album

Coverage of National Ag Day is sponsored by BCS Communications

Farmland Movie Advance Screening

FarmlandNational Ag Day Activities was special this year because of of two great documentary films about farming. Last night it was a private advance screening of Farmland, directed by James Moll, with major support from USFRA. In the photo (l-r) is Randy Krotz, CEO, USFRA, James, U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack and Bob Stallman, President of American Farm Bureau Federation. There were a lot of dignitaries on hand including two of the young farmers featured in the movie. Both Sec. Vilsack and Bob Stallman who is Chairman of USFRA made opening comments before we watched the movie. I spoke with Bob and James and you can listen to their comments below.

The movie gives you a very close and personal look into the lives of six very different types of young farmers who talk about the challenges of becoming farm owners/managers. There is no narration. The story is told completely by the farmers and the imagery of them at work. It is a real family story too and there are some very emotional scenes in the movie. If you haven’t been able to see it yet please do when you get a chance.

Farmland has a deal with D&E Entertainment for the film to first be distributed to 60 major market theaters beginning May 1. Keep an eye out for it in your area and think about calling your local theater to see if they would schedule it.

In case you’re wondering, the film features these farmers:

Leighton Cooley, Georgia
Brad Bellah – Texas
David Loberg – Nebraska
Sutton Morgan – California
Margaret Schlass – Pennsylvania
Ryan Veldhuizen – Minnesota

You can listen to my interview with the Bob here:Interview with Bob Stallman

You can listen to my interview with the James here:Interview with James Moll

You can find photos from all National Ag Day activities, including the Farmland premier, online here: 2014 Ag Day Photo Album

Coverage of National Ag Day is sponsored by BCS Communications

Great American Wheat Harvest Premier

Great American Wheat HarvestThe National Premier Screening of The Great American Wheat Harvest movie took place yesterday as the first of many National Ag Day activities. On hand were the stars of the documentary that include:

Jim Deibert – JKD Harvesting
Jim & Tracy Zeorian – Jim Zeorian Harvesting
Dan, Kristy, & Emma Misener – Misener Family Harvesting
Lee Petersen – L. Petersen Farms
Eric Wolgemuth – Wolgemuth Harvesting

I spoke with this group of awesome and passionate custom harvesters before the film premier. I asked them about their experience of being filmed for the project. They all really enjoyed working with the producer, Conrad Weaver, and believe he truly captured their livelihood as it really is. They hope the non-farm public will feel what they feel.

You can listen to my interview with the harvesters here:Interview with Custom Harvesters

The film is now ready for prime time and Conrad is busy working on distribution. Later this year we’ll also be able to order a copy of the movie. I’ll announce that when we get the details.

You can find photos from all National Ag Day activities online here: 2014 Ag Day Photo Album

Coverage of National Ag Day is sponsored by BCS Communications

USFRA Next Generation of Farmers Panel

USFRA DialoguesOne of the National Ag Day activities taking place in Washington, DC was a USFRA afternoon panel discussion on “The Next Generation of America’s Farmers and Ranchers.” The panel was hosted by our good friend Sara Wyant.

The event featured very personal stories from young farmers and ranchers on the challenges they face in taking over their family business. They talked about what it means to take on this responsibility in today’s environment, including some of the business and perception challenges they face and their opinions on key issues. They also addressed the challenges and opportunities for the next generation of farmers, as well as steps that can be taken to inspire more people to become involved in agriculture.

The panelists included:

• Leighton Cooley, 4th generation poultry farmer and Farmland documentary subject, Roberta, Ga.

• Will Gilmer, 3rd generation dairy farmer and USFRA Faces of Farming and Ranching, Lamar County, Ala.

• Peter Liebhold, Curator, Smithsonian’s National Museum of American History, Washington, DC

• Joel Mathiowetz, Corn, soybean, pea and lamb farmer, Executive Director of Minnesota Agriculture in the Classroom Foundation, Morgan, Minn.

• Seth Pratt, University of Idaho Agriculture student, Future Farmers of America, Blackfoot, Idaho

You can listen to the dialogue here:USFRA Next Generation Panel

You can find photos from all National Ag Day activities online here: 2014 Ag Day Photo Album

Coverage of National Ag Day is sponsored by BCS Communications

MorganMyers Launches Digital Food IQ Quiz

morgan_myersFor more than 30 years, MorganMyers has built a world-class reputation for building, protecting and promoting brands that help feed the world. The agency’s commitment to working with outstanding food and agriculture companies has given it the chance to work with some great brands over the years. So, naturally, the agency wanted to show solidarity with, and raise awareness for, the agriculture industry by doing something special on National Agriculture Day.

To celebrate, MorganMyers has launched a digital Food IQ Quiz that is designed to raise awareness of some interesting information surrounding food and the agriculture industry.

“This has been a passion project for the team at MM,” said Tim Oliver, MorganMyers president. “Even though our staff is made up of some of the savviest people in agri-marketing, we all learn new and surprising things every day and we wanted to share some of the most interesting things with others.”

Norman Borlaug Statue Installed Today

Norman Borlaug StatueDr. Norman E. Borlaug’s statue was installed today at the U.S. Capitol in Washington, D.C., on what would have been the great agricultural scientist’s 100th birthday. The leadership of the United States Congress, U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack, Governor Terry E. Branstad of Borlaug’s home state of Iowa, and Amb. Kenneth M. Quinn, who chaired the Borlaug Statue Committee, were all part of the ceremony.

Borlaug dedicated his life to breeding better varieties of wheat, and worked with farmers, scientists, politicians and others to improve agricultural methods and policies to alleviate hunger and malnutrition worldwide. His achievements earned him recognition as “Father of the Green Revolution” and the distinction of being the only American to receive the Nobel Peace Prize, the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the Congressional Gold Medal and the National Medal of Science.

The Borlaug statue was created by Benjamin Victor.

Chuck was there and will have lots of photos from today’s event which he’ll upload as soon as he can and add the link here.

Post Update: You can find all of Chuck’s photos here: Borlaug Statue Unveiling Photo Album

Listen to the statue unveiling ceremony here:Unveiling Ceremony of Dr. Norman Borlaug Statue

Coverage of National Ag Day is sponsored by BCS Communications

Agri-Pulse Kicks Off National Agriculture Week

The National Agriculture Day celebration in Washington DC has events spread across three days – and really it should be more because it is officially National Agriculture Week.

agri-pulse-2We started it all off with a bang, thanks to the Farm to Fork politics session sponsored by our friends with Agri-Pulse, who are celebrating their 10th anniversary of business this year – just like us! Sara Wyant and Allen Johnson are pictured here with Senator Debbie Stebenow (D-MI), chair of the Senate Agriculture Committee, who stopped by to say a few words to everyone and congratulate Agri-Pulse for a decade of service to the industry.

“It’s great to see all of you and not be asked for an update on the progress of the farm bill,” the smiling senator joked to the crowd of nearly 400 gathered in the Hart Senate Office Building overlooking the capitol city. “I’m just glad to be part of the team as we take the next steps of bringing the farm bill to fruition with all of the steps toward implementation.” Ag Day Comments by Sen. Debbie Stabenow

ag-day-14-sara-harden1Those steps toward implementation were the main topic of discussion as USDA Deputy Secretary of Agriculture Krysta Harden sat down with Sara for the main event. “Congress did give us a long time to plan, I’ll have to say that,” said Harden, who said the process really started when she took over the office last August, and continued as they waited and waited for Congress to finally get the bill passed.

Harden says USDA is focused on getting the livestock disaster piece implemented first. “We will be ready by April 15th,” she promised. “We will make sure that we provide this benefit to these livestock producers who definitely are in need.” Deputy Agriculture Secretary Krysta Harden and Sara Wyant of Agri-Pulse

Agri-Pulse Ag Day Photo Album

More National Agriculture Day/Week coverage to come.

Coverage of National Ag Day is sponsored by BCS Communications

Celebrate National Ag Day

AgDay Logo365 sunrises and 7 billion mouths to feed!

National Ag Day Activities are just around the corner starting next Monday in Washington, DC. Cindy and I will be in town for them. Actually, I’ll be covering Ag Day activities while she’s covering the American Coalition for Ethanol’s annual DC Fly-in. I’ll be starting out on Monday with Agri-Pulse and their Farm-to-Fork Politics session and reception. Then it’s a full day on Tuesday. You can find some good stories on the Ag Day Blog btw.

So how are you planning to celebrate the day? Take our latest ZimmPoll to let us know.

The Ag Council of America has some digital resources you can use to help promote Ag Day in their media kit. Here are a couple of examples.

You can listen to one of the radio spots here: AgDay Radio Spot

Agri-Women Launch ‘Call to Power’ Campaign

Rosie Poster 2014aAmerican Agri-Women (AAW) will kick off its membership campaign, “Call to Power,” on National Agriculture Day, March 25. The campaign theme urges women to join the nation’s largest coalition of farm, ranch and agribusiness women, which includes more than 50 state, commodity and agribusiness affiliates.

“Since 1974, women across the country have banded together to network with each other, educate consumers and policy makers about agriculture and participate in leadership development opportunities. Our combined power has made a difference and we invite others to join us,” says Sue McCrum, AAW president.

The campaign runs through May 31 and includes these benefits:
– Three new members will be selected to receive free second-year memberships.
– The affiliate that signs up the most new members will receive an award to go toward their own advocacy efforts.

Go here to learn more: www.americanagriwomen.org. Members of all segments of agriculture, agri-business and consumers interested in food production are encouraged to join their state or commodity affiliate as well as the national association. Dues for the national association are just $30 and affiliates also have affordable memberships.

The “Call to Power” theme is based on a paper developed by Sr. Thomas More Bertels (1918-2000). Sr. Bertels was a long-time advocate for women in agriculture. Sr. Bertels wrote, “The most important task facing farm entrepreneurs today is capturing a significant degree of influence over the policy-making function as it relates to food, feed, fiber, forest products and flora.”

Dr. Borlaug to be Enshrined at U.S. Capitol

borlaug-statueNational Agriculture Day celebrations in Washington DC this year just happen to fall on March 25, the centennial anniversary date of the Father of the Green Revolution. As a fitting tribute, the State of Iowa will install a bronze statue of Dr. Norman E. Borlaug in the U.S. Capitol on that very day.

“The unveiling with be a historic event and celebration of Dr. Borlaug’s legacy,” Iowa Governor Terry Branstad said. “His agricultural innovations saved an estimated billion people around the world from hunger and starvation.”

Each state is represented by two statues of notable citizens in the National Statuary Hall Collection at the U.S. Capitol Building. The statue of Borlaug will replace the statue of U.S. Senator James Harlan installed in 1910, which will be relocated to Mount Pleasant, Iowa. The second statue representing Iowa is of Governor Samuel Kirkwood, which was installed in 1913.

More information about the statue project is available at www.iowaborlaugstatue.org, including information about related events and activities. People are also encouraged to watch a webcast of the statue unveiling ceremony, which will take place on March 25 at 11 a.m. Eastern Time, at www.speaker.gov/live and since Chuck and Cindy will be there at the Capitol for National Ag Day, we should have coverage of the event featured here on AgWired as well.

The statue was unveiled at the World Food Prize in October, where we had the chance to see it up close and personal, and Cindy interviewed World Food Prize president Ambassador Kenneth Quinn about it. Listen to or download his comments about the statue here: WFP President Kenneth Quinn talks about Borlaug statue

Charles Eastin Award to be Presented at Ag Day

National Ag DayNational Ag Day activities keep growing. This year the Agriculture Council of America is presenting the Charles Eastin Award to Lindsay McQueen, Union/Jackson County, IL Farm Bureaus. This award used to be presented by the National Farm City Council. ACA took over the assets and most of the programs of NFCC last year.

The Eastin Award honors an individual who stands out as an advocate for accurate communications between rural and urban audiences. The award will be presented in Washington, DC on National Ag Day, March 25, 2014.

McQueen has been promoting agriculture and actively involved with agriculture industry her entire life. She has worked for the Farm Bureau for seven years and has been the Union and Jackson County, IL Farm Bureau Manager for four years. She was actively involved in 4-H and FFA all throughout her childhood and high school career and still volunteers with both groups.

I hope to meet her in Washington, DC.!

Great American Wheat Harvest Documentary Premiere

Great American Wheat Harvest at Ag DayIt’s almost time for the world wide premiere of the documentary, the Great American Wheat Harvest. The screening will take place during national Ag Day activities in Washington, DC.

In collaboration with the Agriculture Council of America, independent filmmaker, Conrad Weaver of ConjoStudios, LLC., announces that the Great American Wheat Harvest documentary film will make its national premiere screening at the 41st Annual National Agriculture Day on Tuesday, March 25, in Washington, D.C.

The film’s GAWH National Premiere Screening & Breakfast Reception will kick off the National Ag Days activities from 8:30 to 11 a.m., at the Smithsonian’s National Museum of the American Indian, which is located on the National Mall between the Smithsonian’s National Air & Space Museum and the U.S. Capitol Building. Seats are limited and you must RSVP for this event at: https://gawhpremiere.eventbrite.com

The Great American Wheat Harvest documentary film focuses on connecting consumers to those who produce their food and will feature stories of North America’s wheat growers and custom harvesters.
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ACA Assumes Assets, Programs of Farm-City Council

National Ag DayThe Agriculture Council of America (ACA) Foundation has agreed to assume the assets and selected programs of the National Farm-City Council. The Council is a non-profit organization dedicated to enhancing links between farm families and urban residents. With this action, the Farm-City Council will move to dissolve on a national level after decades of narrowing the “understanding gap” between urban and rural America on issues of mutual interest.

“The National Farm-City Council, in discussions with the ACA Foundation, determined that the two organizations have very similar missions – to promote the important role of agriculture in our society,” says Hugh Whaley, chairman of the National Farm-City Council. “Given that, the Council has decided to transfer its assets and responsibilities to ACA where these efforts to communicate the value of agriculture will continue. I am confident that the spirit of the mission of the National Farm-City Council will be carried on through the work of the ACA Foundation.”

The ACA Foundation takes care of the charitable aspect of the ACA, which is an organization composed of leaders in ag, food and fiber communities. Public awareness of agriculture’s vital role in society is their goal.

President of ACA, Jennifer Pickett agrees with Hugh in that their missions are similar and the transition will run smoothly.

The annual Charles Eastin Outstanding Service Award and stewardship of the Farm-City trademark are among the programs taking part in the transfer. Recipients will now be selected and awarded by ACA. Those interested in nominating candidates for the 2014 Charles Eastin Outstanding Service Award can do so by clicking here. The Farm-City Symposium will also be worked into National Ag Day.