Congresswoman Visits Bayer Bee Center

bayer-bee-ellmersEven though she had to miss the grand opening ceremony due to a conflict, Rep. Renee Ellmers (R-NC) made it a point to make it out to see the new Bayer CropScience North American Bee Care Center in Research Triangle Park.

“The research and development that they are doing here is going to help us grow more food into the future,” she said in an interview. “It is vital to the North Carolina economy but also to the world.”

Ellmers added that bees are an important part of the discussion about genetically modified crops. “It’s a discussion that’s being had on the national level,” said Ellmers. She is pictured here at the Bee Care Center with Bayer’s Robyn Kneen who was instrumental in the development of the center.

I also asked the Congresswoman about the new farm bill and why she is a strong supporter of immigration reform for farmers in her state. Interview with Rep. Renee Ellmers


Bayer CropScience Bee Care Center Grand Opening Photo Album

More Then Just Barns

nh-pavilions-39 -editedThe Alliant Energy Center in Madison, WI is growing thanks to New Holland Agriculture. The expansion is underway and during the groundbreaking ceremony last week I spoke with Mark Clarke, director of the Alliant Energy Center.

“We’re partaking on a project that we started a little over 18 months ago and to see it finally come to together is really exciting for me. We are going to have some really neat buildings when this is all said and done.”

“What you are going to see is two brand new state-of-art building facilities and I don’t know if anywhere else in the United States is going to be able to compete with these when we are done. We designed these from an animal standpoint. We had the representatives from World Dairy Expo and Midwest Horse Fair at the table last summer when we were designing these buildings. We are going to have 290,000 square feet of exhibition space and they are really versatile.”

Listen to or download my interview with Mark here: Interview with Mark Clarke

nh-pavilions-33-editedAnother big player in this expansion is Ben Brancel, Secretary of Wisconsin Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection (DATCP).

“The state of Wisconsin is recognizing the value of the livestock industry and World Dairy Expo is an international exhibit that brings people from around the world.”

Ben explains that they already have had inquires about using the New Holland Pavilions for catering and sporting events along with many trade show type conferences.

They all know that the deadline is tight, but have great confidence in the endeavor. The Dane County Fair Grounds are accommodating with the use of tents for other activities held there throughout the summer. I know I’m not the only one who can’t wait for the ribbon cutting this fall.

Listen to or download my interview with Ben here: Interview with Ben Brancel

Checkout photos from the event here: New Holland Pavilion Groundbreaking Ceremony

How ZimmComm Became Ten Years Old

ZimmCast 435While ZimmComm New Media is celebrating ten years we’re doing some reminiscing about some of the milestones in our journey.

Chuck and CindySpeaking of miles, Cindy and I met up in a Delta Sky Club in Atlanta last night to record this week’s program. She was returning from the Bayer CropScience Bee Care Center opening and I was returning from a visit with New Holland. And, no, we did not plan our trips to be on the same flight back home to Pensacola. Funny how that works out.

We got out the Golden ZimmComm Microphone and got to work taking a look back at our ten years of developing an online community with a little help from our friends.

First AgWired PostThis blog we call AgWired got started in our first year when I did my first post in August of 2004. I was a little tentative then and became bolder as time went on. AgWired started out on Blogger before moving to WordPress and we’ve never looked back.

AgriBlogger first tweetIt was some time later that I did my first tweet. Fortunately, it’s not to embarrassing. But here it is. Did you know you can see your first tweet using Twitter Discover? I’m now 17,000 tweets down that highway!

We hope you will enjoy our look back. During the Connection Point last week we had a nephew working in our booth. He said that after listening to us talk to people about what we do for two days he had no idea what we do. Maybe this conversation will help clarify?

You can listen to this week’s program here. Ten Years of ZimmComm

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

Subscribe to the ZimmCast podcast here.

Wheat Harvest Film Debuted at Ag Day Festivities

ag-day-14-barry-conradThe debut of The Great American Wheat Harvest was seen by many during Ag Day activities this year in Washington D.C. Chuck took time to chat with Barry Nelson, John Deere, who was a huge sponsor of the production. He also spoke with the director, Conrad Weaver. Both couldn’t have been more excited with how the film turned out and can’t wait to get it out for the whole world to see.

“It exceeded my expectations.” Barry said, “After being able to see the final cut of the film, seeing the reaction from the crowd, but also how Conrad Weaver the producer was able to tell the story of these different custom cutters going on the harvester trail and how difficult it is. Boy, I think it’s a great story and now we are excited to see where the film is going to be debuted and shown across the US.”

Barry believes this film sets itself apart from other documentaries because it really tells the story of the families involved in this and how hard it is to predict the weather, manage the equipment and make sure they are in the right place at the right time.

You can listen to Chuck’s complete interview with Barry here: Interview with Barry Nelson

Conrad said, “It’s kind of like giving birth. You have all the toil for years and now you have birthed this thing called a movie and it’s exciting, it’s thrilling and it’s a relief to be done. But now the real work begins of getting the message out to the people.”

For the next two years Conrad said he will be busy making sure the world sees this production. They are also still looking for sponsorships to help fund marketing dollars to help get this in theaters everywhere. In the future Conrad is toying with some other project ideas all relating to agriculture. We should expect to continue to see and hear his name mentioned as a true advocate for the agricultural community.

You can listen to Chuck’s complete interview with Conrad here: Interview with Conrad Weaver

Coverage of National Ag Day is sponsored by BCS Communications

Importance of New Bayer Bee Care Center

bayer-bee-ncagThe new Bayer CropScience North America Bee Care Center is important for the future of one of the most critical little contributors to keeping the engine of agriculture running.

“They’ve been called the spark plug of agriculture,” said North Carolina Commissioner of Agriculture Steve Troxler at the grand opening of the center on Tuesday. “If the spark plug’s not functioning, neither is the car, so we’ve got to pay particular attention to our pollinators.”

bayer-bee-ncuTroxler stressed the vital role that research has in protecting pollinators and ultimately feeding the world. Dr. Richard Linton, Dean College of Agriculture and Life Sciences North Carolina State University, is pleased that the center will provide opportunities for students to achieve the goals of a land grant university. “It’s all about producing students for a very important industry of agriculture and it’s also about working with our stakeholders on research and outreach efforts,” he said.

Listen to my interview with the commissioner and the dean here: Interview with NC Ag Commissioner Steve Troxler and NC State Ag College Dean Rich Linton


Bayer CropScience Bee Care Center Grand Opening Photo Album

New Holland VP Shares Smiles for Pavilion Expansion

nh-pavilions-58-editedDemolition is already underway in Madison, WI at the Alliant Energy Center, home to World Dairy Expo and Midwest Horse Fair. Abe Hughes, Vice President of New Holland North America, was all smiles during the groundbreaking ceremony late last week. New Holland is partnering with Dane County to build the New Holland Pavilions which will include a 290,000 square foot expansion and replace the aging barns.

I spoke with Abe after the groundbreaking and he was more than excited for the opportunities this new facility will bring to Wisconsin and beyond.

“Well, I’ve got this huge smile on my face for a couple of reasons. Not only is it a gorgeous day here in Wisconsin and are farmers need some sunshine. It has been a long winter, but it is also a historical time for New Holland as we do the groundbreaking for the New Holland Pavilions here at the Alliant Energy Center. There was a real need here in this community to have a better facility. Our producers, our customers had to have better facilities in order to keep their animals and families coming to these shows. The decision was very easy for us to come fund this and help make this dream possible.”

Listen to or download the press conference here: Interview with Abe Hughes

Checkout photos from the event here: New Holland Pavilion Groundbreaking Ceremony

Bayer CropScience Bee Care Center Open

bayer-bee-14-ribbonBayer CropScience today celebrated its more than 25 year commitment to pollinator health with the grand opening of the North American Bee Care Center in Research Triangle Park, North Carolina.

Jim Blome, president and CEO of Bayer CropScience LP, front and center here cutting the ribbon to officially open the new facility is thrilled to see this dream fulfilled. “This is an absolutely great day,” he said proudly. “We’ve been dedicated to bee health, it’s an important part of who we are, and we’re very serious about finding the science behind what the interactive functions are here so we can come up with some solutions.”

The $2.4 million center brings together significant technological, scientific and academic resources, with goals of promoting improved honey bee health, product stewardship and sustainable agriculture. A 6,000-square-foot, state-of-the-art facility, the Center will complement the Eastern Bee Care Technology Station in Clayton, N.C., and a Bee Care Center at the joint global headquarters campus of Bayer CropScience and Bayer Animal Health in Monheim, Germany.

Listen to my interview with Jim here: Interview with Jim Blome, Bayer CropScience

Bayer CropScience Bee Care Center Grand Opening Photo Album

AEM Shows Importance of Ag Equipment Industry

charlie o'brienThe important contribution of U.S. agriculture equipment manufacturing to the health of the nation’s economy is demonstrated in an economic paper recently released by the Association of Equipment Manufacturers. Modern advances in agriculture equipment technology and mechanization continue to play a major role in making today’s U.S. farming the most productive the world has ever seen.

The current world population of 7.2 billion is expected to reach 9.6 billion by 2050, according to the United Nations, and the AEM paper also touches on the industry’s research agenda for product innovations to “continue to push agriculture productivity through the next century.” AEM commissioned the white paper to acquaint policy makers, business, industry and the general public with the enormous and far-reaching scope of the manufacturing, distribution and use of agricultural machinery and equipment. It is part of AEM’s overall goal to advance a better understanding of the vast benefits and quality of life improvements provided by advanced mechanization.

I spoke with AEM senior vice president Charlie O’Brien about the analysis. “Agriculture’s achievements have resulted from scientific advances in many areas, including inputs and other efficiencies, yet the productivity explosion continues to be driven by enormous strides in the farm machinery and equipment technology now used to farm millions of acres,” he told me. “We want people to understand how important this industry as a whole is for the U.S. economy.”

You can listen to my interview with Charlie here: Interview with Charlie O'Brien, AEM

Groundbreaking for New Holland Pavilions

nh-pavilions-68-editedGround was broke to mark the start of construction on the New Holland Pavilions at the Alliant Energy Center in Madison, WI. The 290,000 square foot expansion will create a state-of-the-art multi-use space, replacing again barn facilities.

“We are proud to partner with Dane County to build and provide what will be the premium livestock facility in the country, a tremendous upgrade that will benefit world class dairy, livestock, horses and other livestock throughout the year,” says Ade Hughes, Vice President New Holland North America. “This opportunity is a perfect fit for New Holland, considering the smart haymaking technologies we have brought to the marketplace that benefit so many animals across North America.”

The Alliant Energy Center is home to the World Dairy Expo and Midwest Horse Fair, as well as many livestock and equine shows. The new pavilions will have capacity to house more than 2,000 head of cattle and be versatile enough to include show rings for cattle and horse shows. They can be cleared to create open space accommodating for trade shows, a factor that will allow New Holland to conduct training activities. New Holland equipment will also be featured in the front reception area of the building.

Mark Clarke, Alliant Energy Center general manager, said, “The new space will enhance our ability to conduct world class activities here at the Alliant Energy Center. We’re excited to have New Holland Agriculture as a significant partner in our success moving forward.”

Construction on the project begins today and their goal is to have a ribbon cutting in just 30 weeks. Just in time for World Dairy Expo in early October.

Listen to or download the press conference here: New Holland Pavilions Groundbreaking Press Conference

Checkout photos from the event here: New Holland Pavilion Groundbreaking Ceremony

GROWMARK Part of ResponsibleAg

Wells_Rod5X7 copyThe first ResponsibleAg board of directors members were recently named and Rod Wells, manager of the plant food division of GROWMARK is one of nine.

Rod says it’s important for GROWMARK to be involved in this non-profit organization designed to work with retailers ensuring best practices are in place providing a safe product to the consumer.

“This is an industry led initiative,” said Rod. “We want to demonstrate that we are doing the right things, that we are operating safety, we’re complying with regulations, that we are accountable. We feel like ResponsibleAg is a very transparent way to show that we are committed, compliant, and safe operators in the communities that we serve.”

You can listen to my interview with Rod here: Interview with Rod Wells, GROWMARK

The Agricultural Retailers Association (ARA) and The Fertilizer Institute (TFI) announced the board of directors for ResponsibleAg will meet next month to finalize bi-laws, an operating budget, elect officers and begin looking for a business manager to oversee the day to day operations of the new organization.

NASS Census Division Director at NAMA

nama14-nassThe U.S. Department of Agriculture’s National Agricultural Statistics Service (NASS) announced it will publish the 2012 Census of Agriculture full report on May 2. The announcement was made this week as NASS Census and Survey Division Director Renee Picanso was attending the National Agri-Marketing Association conference in Jacksonville, Florida.

“Agribusinesses are highly represented here and they are definitely big users of the data,” she said during an interview. The complete data series will be available in multiple formats, including Quick Stats 2.0 – an online database to retrieve customized tables with Census data at the national, state and county levels.

Picanso says the census data is being released a little later than normal this time around. “Usually we release in early February, but with the government shut down last fall, we got a little bit behind,” she said. Interview with Renee Picanso, USDA-NASS

2014 Agri-Marketing Conference Photo Album

Coverage of the Agri-Marketing Conference is sponsored by
Brownfield Ag News and Rhea + Kaiser
Coverage of the Agri-Marketing Conference is sponsored by Rhea + KaiserCoverage of the Agri-Marketing Conference is sponsored by Brownfield Ag News

NAMA Honors Marketer and Leader of the Year

nama14-beckThe NAMA Marketer and Agribusiness Leader of the year were honored today at the NAMA conference in Jacksonville.

Sonny Beck, president of Beck’s Hybrids, was named the 2014 Agribusiness Leader of the Year, NAMA’s highest honor.

As the largest family-owned seed company in the United States, Beck’s Hybrids is now the sixth largest seed company in the U.S. Under Sonny’s leadership, Beck’s Hybrids has experienced a 20 percent increase in sales each year for the last 20 years, doubling in size every four years. Interview with Sonny Beck, Beck's Hybrids

nama-14-8Wyffels Hybrids’ director of marketing, Jeff Hartz, was named the 2014 NAMA Marketer of the Year.

As the marketing director, Hartz oversees all strategic marketing efforts including advertising and public relations and the development of the Wyffels brand. He works closely with growers, the sales force and the National Sales Director to develop programs and materials that meet their needs and reinforce Wyffels’ position as one of the leading independent seed corn companies in the industry. Interview with Jeff Hartz, Wyffels Hybrids

2014 Agri-Marketing Conference Photo Album

Coverage of the Agri-Marketing Conference is sponsored by
Brownfield Ag News and Rhea + Kaiser
Coverage of the Agri-Marketing Conference is sponsored by Rhea + KaiserCoverage of the Agri-Marketing Conference is sponsored by Brownfield Ag News

Fresh From Florida NAMA Farm Tour

nama14-blueskySince it’s usually in Kansas City, the annual NAMA conference rarely has a farm tour, so getting to see and hear about some agriculture outside the Midwest was a treat this week. Thanks to the Florida NAMA chapter for setting it up and to sponsors Ag Net Media and Vance Publishing for making it possible.

Our tour stops included a cracker cattle ranch, a potato farm, and a sod farm, finishing with a gourmet and locally source lunch at the St. Johns County Agricultural Center.

Fourth generation farmer Danny Johns was our host at Blue Sky Farm which grows specialty potatoes and onions and is very active in promoting agriculture to the public. “Farming is a constant evolution…always a challenge, that’s part of the fun of being a farmer,” he said. “It’s so important for the rest of the country to realize what agriculture looks like and the challenges we face.” Interview with Florida potato farmer Danny Johns

nama14-rancherMost people are aware that St. Augustine is the oldest continuous settlement in the new world (Pensacola was actually first but it got wiped out by a hurricane) – but you may not know that it is also the birth place of the United States cattle industry.

Alan Roberts of St. Augustine has a herd of pure Florida Cracker cattle, direct descendents of the original animals brought to Florida from Spain in the late 1500s. “They came over with Pedro Menendez in 1565 when he founded St. Augustine,” and Alan says they have had his herd DNA tested to confirm the bloodline.

nama14-crackersAlan says the cattle are more resistant to horn flies and worms than any other type of cattle and he likes their gentle dispositions. “They’re such a pleasure to raise,” he said. “They’re smarter for one thing, low maintenance and easy to handle.”

And so many of the mommas and babies in the herd looked just like each other with such unique coloring and markings. Watch the video below and be sure to check out the photo album where I took LOTS of cow pictures!

2014 Agri-Marketing Conference Photo Album

Coverage of the Agri-Marketing Conference is sponsored by
Brownfield Ag News and Rhea + Kaiser
Coverage of the Agri-Marketing Conference is sponsored by Rhea + KaiserCoverage of the Agri-Marketing Conference is sponsored by Brownfield Ag News

NAMA Chapter Leaders Workshop

Andrea BloomNAMA Chapter Leaders got together this morning for a workshop to discuss challenges and exchange ideas. Andrea Bloom, Vita Plus was one of the leaders of the leaders workshop and I talked with her about the program and what she hopes to accomplish.

Andrea says one of the challenges that chapters face is the diversity in the membership and designing a program to attract all of them. Listen in to our conversation to see what ideas she has to meet that challenge.

You can listen to my interview with Andrea here: Interview with Andrea Bloom

2014 Agri-Marketing Conference Photo Album

Coverage of the Agri-Marketing Conference is sponsored by
Brownfield Ag News and Rhea + Kaiser
Coverage of the Agri-Marketing Conference is sponsored by Rhea + KaiserCoverage of the Agri-Marketing Conference is sponsored by Brownfield Ag News

NAMA Gypsies

Kenna RathaiOne of the beginning events at an Agri-Marketing Conference is a get together dinner for NAMA Presidents, past and present as well as the executive committee. This was done last night at 13 Gypsies. Our group was more than thirteen but we bonded with the gypsies at the restaurant.

One of them is Chef Howard, pictured here with NAMA President Kenna Rathai. We got Chef Howard to say a few comments (emphasis on few). He and his crew made us multiple tapas plates that were wonderful.

You can listen to Chef Howard’s brief remarks here: Chef Howard

Here’s where you’ll be able to find lots of photos from throughout the conference: 2014 Agri-Marketing Conference Photo Album

Coverage of the Agri-Marketing Conference is sponsored by
Brownfield Ag News and Rhea + Kaiser
Coverage of the Agri-Marketing Conference is sponsored by Rhea + KaiserCoverage of the Agri-Marketing Conference is sponsored by Brownfield Ag News

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

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