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

This Year’s After the After Party with Rhea + Kaiser

pancake-rayThe founders of Rhea + Kaiser have always been true proponents of professional development. That is one reason they are a big sponsor of the National Agri-Marketing Association Conference. Chuck spoke with Diane Martin with Rhea + Kaiser about their coveted After the After Party event.

“In recent years we have been a sustaining partner with NAMA. With that investment we decided to really kick it up a notch to heighten our involvement and presence in an unexpected way, but also provide some level of consistency whether we are sponsoring the National Marketing Conference or regional events.”

Rhea + Kaiser currently sponsors the After the After Party during NAMA. Diane said the inspiration came about five years ago when a R+Ker craved pancakes after a night visiting a few of the parties. This led to their sponsorship of a pancake breakfast.

“We’re taking it outdoors this year since we are going to be in a warmer climate. There’s a new chapter in Pancake Ray’s life. He has been experimenting with the menu so there might not be pancakes this year, but there will still be some good breakfast items. We also have a few new promotional items that will give people something different to take home besides a paper dinner hat.”

Diane believes the success of this event is simply because it’s fun, carefree and no one takes it too seriously. They are also solving a classic need people have after a night of socializing with friends. She also is sending out a warning well in advance to all the single ladies who plan on attending the event. Pancake Ray just might be on the prowl and looking for love.

For every breakfast served Rhea + Kaiser will make a donation to the Agribusiness Educational Foundation (ABEF). ABEF helps young people get started in their professional careers and Rhea + Kaiser believes by supporting the foundation they are supporting future R+Kers.

Diane shared three cornerstones to why NAMA is such a great organization. They are the opportunity for professional development, the chance to create a professional community of friends and the chance to recruit young professionals.

Listen to Chuck’s complete interview with Diane here: Interview with Diane Martin

Sen. Thune Talks Rail Delays and Livestock Aid

Rail delays are impacting shipments of ethanol and grains, among other commodities, thanks in part to the long, cold winter – but also due to increased transport of crude oil from North Dakota.

thune“The railroads are going to have to do a better job,” said Sen. John Thune during an interview in Washington DC last week after meeting with biofuels supporters from the American Coalition for Ethanol (ACE). “It’s important that the railroads recognize that agricultural commodities need to be shipped too.”

Thune, who is a member of the Senate Agriculture Committee, is looking forward to seeing the farm bill finally passed by Congress getting implemented quickly, especially for livestock producers in his part of the country still waiting for disaster aid after the deadly blizzard last fall. “Normally once they get the rules out and the sign up period starts…it’s a couple of weeks to get the money out there, so we hope that if the ag department is correct and they can get it done by the middle of April, that by the end of April-first part of May we’ll be getting some assistance in the hands of livestock producers,” he said. “It can’t come soon enough.”

The senator from South Dakota also discusses the EPA proposal lowering the Renewable Fuel Standard and getting expired tax credits for renewable energy extended. Interview with Senator John Thune (R-SD)

2014 ACE Biofuels Beltway March photo album

Coverage is sponsored in part by Patriot Renewable Fuels

USDA Forecasts Record Soybean Plantings

According to the USDA 2014 Prospective Plantings report released today, farmers are intending to plant an estimated 81.5 million acres of soybeans in 2014, up six percent from last year and an all-time record high if realized, surpassing the previous record of 77.5 million acres planted in 2009.

USDA-LogoPlanted acreage intentions for soybeans are up or unchanged in all states except Missouri and Oklahoma. The largest increase is expected in North Dakota with a record high 5.65 million acres, an increase of one million acres from 2013. If realized, the planted area of soybeans in Nebraska, New York, Pennsylvania, South Dakota and Wisconsin will also be the largest on record.

Corn growers intend to plant 91.7 million acres in 2014, down 4 percent from last year and if realized the lowest planted acreage since 2010. Expected returns for corn are anticipated to be lower in 2014 compared with recent years. Colorado, Idaho, Iowa, Kansas, Maine, Massachusetts and Utah are expected to increase planted acreage from last year. If realized, planted acres in Idaho will be a record high.

Wheat planted acres are expected to be down one percent from last year at 55.8 million acres while cotton acreage is anticipated to be up seven percent to total 11.1 million acres.

Also released today was the Grain Stocks report, which showed corn stocks up 30 Percent from March 2013. Soybean stocks are one percent lower and all wheat stocks are down 15 percent.

The Minneapolis Grain Exchange crop call on the reports today featured commentary from Mike Krueger of The Money Farm. Listen to or download here: MGEX Prospective Plantings Report call

FMC Introduces Solstice at Classic

classic14-fmcThis year at the Commodity Classic, FMC Corporation was excited to announce the registration of new Solstice herbicide to be used early post-emerge in corn.

Technical Service Rep Nick Hustedde says Solstice is a pre-mix of two modes of action – PPD and HPPD – that creates rapid activity that works especially well on large-seeded broadleaf escapes, such as waterhemp and Palmer Amaranth.

Nick also talked about Authority Maxx, which received EPA registration last fall, as well as Anthem now registered for soybeans. Interview with Nick Hustedde, FMC

While at the FMC booth, I was also able to talk with Matt Hancock about FMC’s Capture LFR insecticide, which he says is now the leading soil-applied insecticide in corn. Matt says one of the main reasons for that is that Capture LFR helps improve yield “by protecting your stand from corn root worms, including resistant corn root worms, and secondary pests like white grubs, root aphids, seed corn maggots, cut worms, wire worms, all those pests that are out there in the soil waiting to damage your stand before it ever really gets started good.”

Matt adds that farmers can visit ZoneOfProtection.com to find out more about Capture LFR – and listen to him explain more in this interview. Interview with Matt Hancock, FMC

2014 Commodity Classic Photos

Conversation with Sen. Mike Johanns

ace14-dc-johannsDuring the American Coalition for Ethanol Biofuels Beltway March last week, I was fortunate to be able to tag along on a few Congressional office visits – and pushy enough to get a few interviews with some lawmakers!

One of those was Senator Mike Johanns (R-NE) who will be retiring this year after serving for more than 30 years in public office – starting at mayor of Lincoln, Nebraska, then governor of the state, Secretary of Agriculture, and finally the U.S. Senate since 2009.

I asked Sen. Johanns about ethanol and the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS), the problem farmer face with over regulation, and what his vision is for the future of agriculture. Interview with Senator Mike Johanns (R-NE)

2014 ACE Biofuels Beltway March photo album

Coverage is sponsored in part by Patriot Renewable Fuels

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.

Little Ethanol Lobbyist

ace14-dc-ethan1Wearing a tie and sporting a “Don’t Mess with the RFS” button, 10-year-old Ethan Fagen was the youngest of the American Coalition for Ethanol (ACE) Biofuels Beltway marchers last week on Capitol Hill.

Ethan came along with his grandfather, Ron Fagen of Fagen, Inc., and he was right in the trenches with him handing out materials and talking about the benefits of ethanol, like how good it is for the environment compared to fossil fuels. “Think in 200 years if you run ethanol there will be cleaner air for the next generation,” said Ethan, who is part of that next generation.

ace14-dc-fagensSitting in the front as the ACE Fly-in participants heard from government officials, Ethan caught the attention of Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack, who thought it was “pretty cool” he was there for the event.

In my interview with Ethan, he told me that he would like to be a farmer someday and grow corn and have cattle. It’s interesting that if you add two letters to Ethan’s name, it becomes ethanol. Interview with Ethan Fagen, ACE Fly-in Participant


2014 ACE Biofuels Beltway March photo album

Coverage is sponsored in part by Patriot Renewable Fuels

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

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