Nominations Open for Social Media Farmer of the Year

Social Media Farmer of the YearZimmComm New Media is proud to announce sponsorship of the Social Media Farmer of the Year Award. The award program is being launched today by Food Nutrition & Science.

The new award recognizes farmers who have incorporated social media, digital media and internet strategies to achieve their business objectives including growing revenue, sharing information for more effective farming practices, and promoting positive awareness of the industry.

Nominations for the award are now being accepted. Farmers can nominate themselves or a colleague http://www.foodnutritionscience.com/2014award/. The deadline for nominations is March 31, 2014. The winner will be presented with a trophy and other prizes at the FMI Connect show in Chicago on June 11, 2014.

“Social media has provided farmers with a unique opportunity to communicate directly with other farmers, customers and consumers,” says Phil Lempert, editor of Food Nutrition & Science. “This award will honor their innovation and outstanding efforts that not only results in a greater person-to-person dialogue, but elevation of the industry as a whole.”

More farmers are turning to social media to help sell their products, but also speaking directly to end users about their farming practices and the origin of their food.

A panel of global business, media and food and farming industry leaders will evaluate all entries and the overall winner will be selected based on innovation and success in the use of social media for business purposes.

The Social Media of the Year Award is also being sponsored by Monsanto, Bolthouse Farms, National Council of Farmer Cooperatives, AgChat Foundation, Inc., and our AgWired.com.

Agribusiness Needs More Young People

Inci DannenbergBringing new talent into an industry like agriculture and specifically a company like Bayer CropScience was a key theme that Inci Dannenberg wanted to discuss with ag media attending the 2014 Ag Issues Forum. I got to chat with her on my ZimmGlass. She is doing an interview with another ag journalist attending the Ag Issues Forum here in San Antonio.

bayer-issues-buttonInci says that there is a big need for more young scientists in the ag field to help companies like Bayer continue to bring innovation to the field in the future. What is troubling her is seeing a decrease in the U.S. of students interested in science, technology, engineering and math. She says we need more of that to be competitive globally.

Learn more about how Bayer CropScience is encouraging new talent to come into the industry in my conversation with Inci.

2014 Bayer CropScience Ag Issues Forum Photos

Climate Corporation Offers Climate Information

Have you ever wanted to be able to see what is happening every day weather-wise on each of your fields? The Climate Corporation was at the National Farm Machinery Show telling farmers about a free tool they have to offer that can do just that. You may recall that Monsanto acquired The Climate Corporation in October and NFMS is one of the first shows since that time where they have been out talking to farmers about their products.

Jeff HamlinThe Climate Corporation monitors 30 million fields in the US Corn Belt. According to Jeff Hamlin growers can sign up for free Climate Basic at www.Climate.com. With this account farmers can locate each of their fields and then will be able to see what growth stage the plants are at, how much rain the field has received, and soil moisture in each of the locations entered. The information can be seen from your computer, phone or tablet.

Farmers can also invest in Climate Pro which is a more advanced system which includes satellite imagery of your crops, nitrogen recommendations, and planting recommendations. These programs can be incorporated with precision planting software or just included in your Climate Basic account.

Listen to my interview with Jeff here: Interview with Jeff Hamlin, The Climate Corporation

National Farm Machinery Show Photo Album


Coverage of the National Farm Machinery Show is sponsored by FMC and New Holland Agriculture

 

See the New John Deere Planter at Classic

nfms14-exactemergeThe new John Deere ExactEmerge Planter is likely to be the big attraction at the Commodity Classic trade show next week, just like it was at the National Farm Machinery Show.

At NFMS, I talked with John Deere Seeding Group product specialist Kelby Krueger who worked on the ExactEmerge project from start to finish. He says the new row units are a perfect fit for producers who want to plant more acres in less time due to narrow planting windows, or to increase the size of their operations without adding equipment. “It’s hard for planters to get wider, so we had to make it more productive,” Kelby said. “This planter here with 24 rows, at ten miles an hour, will be doing something close to 75-80 acres an hour.”

If you haven’t seen the unveiling of the new planter at NFMS, click here.

Listen to Kelby explain more about ExactEmerge and see it for yourself at Commodity Classic in San Antonio: Interview with Kelby Krueger, John Deere

John Deere Planter at NFMS photos

United Soybean Board Director at NFMS

Winters USBThe Kentucky Soybean Board had a booth at the National Farm Machinery Show last week and I had the opportunity to stop by and visit with Doug Winter, a Kentucky grower who serves as a director on the United Soybean Board (USB). 

Winters has been busy with his role on the board for the Center of Food Integrity and his work as the International Lead with the Freedom to Operate Group at USB.

I asked him about the report from USDA last week that farm income is expected to be down 26% in 2014. “I think the American farmer will have to sharpen his pencil a little bit more this year” said Winter. “After you have ridden the roller coaster a few times you start to realize you cannot put too much stock in $16 corn and $8 soybeans, because it will change.”

Listen to my interview with Doug here: Interview with Doug Winter, United Soybean Board

National Farm Machinery Show Photo Album


Coverage of the National Farm Machinery Show is sponsored by FMC and New Holland Agriculture

 

John Deere ExactEmerge Planter Reveal at NFMS

nfms14-john-deere-aaronIn the ICYMI category from the National Farm Machinery Show last week was the big reveal of the new John Deere ExactEmerge™ planter.

“We’ve been able to design from the ground up a whole new technology,” said Aaron Wetzel, John Deere VP Global Crop Care. “Being able to provide to our customers unparalleled accuracy in the trench with great opportunity to enhance yield.”

Watch the video of the unveiling below and listen to an interview with Aaron here: Interview with Aaron Wetzel, John Deere



John Deere Planter at NFMS photos

Deer Farmers Pleased with Farm Bill

North American Deer Farmers AssociationThanks to the Farm Bill I just learned about the North American Deer Farmers Association. Farm Bill? Yep. They sent me a release about their take on the legislation which I’m posting below. I’m thinking of joining. I may not actually farm deer but work a property lease where we harvest them!

“We’re very pleased to have a final, comprehensive Farm Bill,” says NADeFA Executive Director Shawn Schafer. “This bill is a significant step forward for the deer industry and includes several provisions specific to the deer industry, not the least of which are disease research for deer, elk and other cervidae; country-of-origin labeling for venison; and much needed disease indemnity for individual farmers.”

The 2014 Farm Bill includes several key victories for NADeFA and the national cervid farming industry, such as:

• Deer in USDA’s Research Initiatives: The USDA’s Agriculture and Food Research Initiatives (AFRI) program has been amended to include emphasis on disease (EHD, CWD), mapping the genome, pest/parasite, diagnostics and vaccination research for deer, elk and other cervidae.
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HSUS and Missouri Agriculture

The Human Society of the United States (HSUS) has been forming “Ag Councils” around the country, most recently in Missouri, with the stated purpose of fostering “better animal welfare and environmental stewardship.” The councils – which have also been been formed in Colorado, Iowa, Nebraska, North Carolina and Ohio – are made up of farmers, ranchers and conservationists, but some are understandably skeptical.

Wes Shoemyer, former state senator and “sustainable” farmer from Monroe County, MO., is one of the new Missouri Agriculture Council members. “Over the last few decades farmers have been driven off of the land by industrialized agriculture and it has drained our rural economies,” he said. “We need to reinvest in these communities by promoting independent farmers and sustainable agriculture, and I’m happy to work with the HSUS to do that.”

mo-farmersSince Shoemyer has just formed a PAC called “Missouri Food For America” opposing the state’s Farming Rights constitutional amendment that will be on the ballot this fall, the Missouri Farmers Care agriculture coalition is suspicious of his intentions. “HSUS can’t be trusted,” said coalition chairman Don Nikodim. “Even a failed politician like Wes Shoemyer should be ashamed of selling out Missouri farmers.”

“The Missouri Farming Rights Amendment, is a common-sense way to protect Missouri family farmers from those who want to destroy our way of life,” Nikodim continued. “So, it’s no surprise that HSUS, the number one threat to Missouri farmers, would create this Trojan Horse in an attempt to deceive voters and stop this essential effort.”

This week’s ZimmPoll touches on the topic. What are the true intentions of these ag councils? Do the farmers on them really have the best interests of agriculture in mind or are they simply orchestrating the agenda of HSUS? As a member of the agriculture community, I can’t trust anything that has the mark of HSUS. As a Missourian, I fear these front groups could have a serious impact on farming and the livelihood of my family, friends and other fellow agriculturists across the state. Let us know what you think!

Atlanta Harvest is Urban Farming

Atlanta HarvestWhen Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack spoke to the AFBF Convention yesterday he talked about the idea of urban farms and how we should be open to the idea of farm diversity. I just had this project brought to my attention since one of the founders has a connection to my family in Georgia. It’s Atlanta Harvest. They’re looking for funding as they get the project off the ground. Here’s what their mission statement says:

The mission of Atlanta Harvest is to cultivate passion and drive innovation in the city, for the city. We love the city of Atlanta and want to see it thrive through dignifying work opportunities and increased access to locally grown, farm fresh food. Our goals are:

  • To close the gap between local food producers and local food consumers
  • To further spread the art and career of farming to distressed neighborhoods in the city
  • To support communities through increased economic vitality
  • To meet the Atlanta market’s demand for farm-fresh organic produce from within the city

We will accomplish these goals by creating a food hub and a network of independently-owned, high-output farms. The food hub will provide processing, distribution, and marketing for the farms. The farms will produce a consistent, organic supply of leafy greens! Through our farming network, individuals or organizations with little to no farming experience can quickly own and operate their own farm. And thanks to the food hub, they will have a guaranteed buyer and seller for all that they produce. The Atlanta Harvest model is designed to serve both farmers and customers.

Drones to Increase Profitability

afbf-14-4Kansas State University’s Dr. Kevin Price was one of the presenters at the 2014 American Farm Bureau Federation Convention. His presentation was titled Drones: Turning Technological Controversy into Profit.

The use of using unmanned aerial vehicles (UAV’s) to fly over crops and livestock to maximize profits is one of the hottest topics entering the agriculture sector. He shared how this is all possible using examples of his work at the university.

“About 80% of the money that will be spent on the unmanned aircraft systems will be spent in the area of agriculture. There are ten times more applications in agriculture then there is in any of the other application areas.” He continued by saying, “They are predicting this will be a $100 billion industry by the year 2025.”

He said agriculture applications for drones in development include data collection on crop health, vigor and yields, tracking the spread of invasive plant species and monitoring cattle feedlots. Data collection of field images by cameras mounted on drones within an inch of accuracy.

When asked where he saw drone use in agriculture going in the next five years he said it was hard to say because interest was growing so rapidly, but “it will blow your socks off.” The economic potential of drones is tremendous in terms of precision agriculture but will not be realized without approval from the Federal Aviation Administration.

Wondering what it could cost you? Dr. Price said a fixed-winged aircraft could run a couple thousand dollars to $12,000. Other models might be under a thousand up to $7,000-$8,000. Will you start saving to increase profits in the long run?

Listen to the complete audio from ag media’s interview with Dr. Price here: Kevin Price Press Conference

2014 AFBF Convention Photos

Ag Weather Advisor Keeps Farmers Up to Date

Screen Shot 2014-01-08 at 1.27.45 PMThe “polar vortex” seems to be a hot topic the last couple of days and that means farmers have to work extra hard to stay updated on what to expect while they prepare for planting. The NCGA-FMC Ag Weather Advisor, prepared by Blue Water Outlook, is a special free member benefit that can help growers stay a step ahead.

“The weather that is occurring this winter are setting the stage for spring and summer growing conditions,” said John Feldt of Blue Water Outlook. “The NCGA-FMC Ag Weather Advisor provides valuable insight, analysis and information not easily found elsewhere on the key factors shaping the weather right now and well into the future. This information can help growers make critical weather-related decisions throughout the entire year.”

Subscribers to this free service receive each week the BWO Agriculture Weather Outlook that will help farmers understand how much rain to expect, days in advance. BWO is a 10-minute video briefing discussing precipitation and temperature trends for the up-coming week. Subscribers will also receive a pre and post-event analysis of precipitation events.

Prince William to Study Agriculture

prince-cowsHear ye, hear ye! New daddy and heir to the British throne will be studying agriculture in 2014.

A royal press release has announced that Prince William, otherwise known as the Duke of Cambridge, “is to undertake a 10-week bespoke programme in agricultural management, organised by the Cambridge Programme for Sustainability Leadership at the University of Cambridge.”

The course has been designed to help provide The Duke with an understanding of contemporary issues affecting agricultural business and rural communities in the United Kingdom.

He looks somewhat the part of a farmer in this photo inspecting cattle at his father’s Duchy Home Farm. Right?

AFBF Annual Convention Around the Corner

afbf-maceThe 2014 American Farm Bureau Federation (AFBF) Annual Convention is right around the corner in San Antonio, TX. January 12-15 marks the organizations 95th convention and the event is expected to attract 6,000 farmers and ranchers from across the country.

Cindy caught up with AFBF’s Mace Thornton, Director of Communications, during the National Association of Farm Broadcasting’s Convention where he shared more about the event and how the organization shares their message with grassroots members nationwide.

“This is the culmination of our annual grassroots policy development process. We take a lot of pride at Farm Bureau with the positions we have that all start at the county level with individual farmers. Those policy positions make their way up to the state level and then those with national implications make it to our meeting. It really is amazing that farmers with all types of farms, all areas of the country can come together and agree on policy positions.”

Austin, TX based western swing band, Asleep at the Wheel, will perform during the event. Attendees will also have the opportunity to see Josh Turner and James Wesley in concert as well. For more information on the convention visit AFBF website.

Mace also shared how Farm Bureau is staying on the cutting edge of communications. This includes providing members with information that they can take and build their own personal stories with to help educate and share with others.

Listen to Cindy’s complete interview with Mace here: Interview with Mace Thornton, ABFB Communications Director

Checkout photos from NAFB Convention: 2013 NAFB Convention Photo Album

BASF Advanced Seed Enhancement is Global

basf-alysonAt the ASTA CSS 2013 and Seed Expo last week, we heard about the BASF portfolio of Advanced Seed Enhancements including inoculants, colorants, and biological and chemical seed treatments. Much of this new portfolio comes from the BASF acquisition of Becker Underwood in late 2012, according to Alyson Emanuel, Vice President of Global Business Management for BASF Functional Crop Care.

“We were here (at ASTA CSS) just a year ago when we had just closed the deal and the last year we’ve been very busy working on our portfolio in seed solutions bringing together the BASF side of the house and the Becker Underwood side of the house,” said Alyson.

She explains that BASF’s exclusive BioStacked® technology has enabled them to combine inoculants and biofungicides, polymers and colorants designed for specific crops. “It provides better rooting architecture, enhances plant health, nutrient uptake, disease protection – it’s a very interesting technology that we’re just beginning to see the benefits of,” Alyson said.

BASF is launching the technology in both North and South America and they plan to bring it into Europe as well. “The great thing about the BioStacked technology is that it can be very customized to the particular environment and the needs of the farmers in the area,” Alyson said

Learn more in this interview: Interview with Alyson Emanuel, BASF Functional Crop Care

Ryan Goodman Receives Inaugural Comm Award

Ryan GoodmanHe’s Agriculture Proud. He’s Ryan Goodman, Manager of Communications for the Montana Stockgrowers Association. The photo is from when Ryan was teaching a blogging class at the 2011 Agvocacy 2.0 Conference.

The Montana Stockgrowers Association is proud to announce that Ryan Goodman, MSGA Manager of Communications, is the inaugural recipient of the 2013 Communicator of the Year award, presented by Alliance to Feed the Future and CropLife America. The award recognizes effective and innovative new voices that are enhancing the public dialogue about modern food production through multi-channel communications, including social media.

“Montana Stockgrowers knows how lucky we are to have Ryan Goodman on the team,” say Errol Rice, MSGA Executive Vice President. “His accomplishments in the agriculture communications world are outstanding and he brings that innovation to MSGA and Montana’s ranching community.”

“The simple truth is that I have a passion for the cattle industry and the community of folks involved in producing our food,” says Goodman. “America’s farmers and ranchers have a compelling story to tell. Whether it is our hard work, resilience, sense of community, or passion to keep improving upon our skills, I am proud to be a part of a community focused on agriculture, and I am proud to receive this award.”

Further, Goodman, author of the blog Agriculture Proud says, “Blogging and using social media is a way to continuously tell the story of agriculture. The heart of social media is about building relationships with individuals, not only of our like mind, but to branch out to other circles.” Goodman also offers a farmer’s perspective through video vignettes he posts to his blog and on YouTube, and he has contributed several blog posts to CNN’s Eatocracy blog.

Happy World Soil Day

World Soil DayGot soil? Go outside and dig your fingers in it. It’s World Soil Day!

Here’s a message from USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service on how important healthy soil is and how using conservation practices like no-till can help farmers take better care of their land.

When soil is heavily tilled, the stalks from the previous crop are chopped, and the top several inches of soil structure are disturbed. Conventional thought suggests this fluffing action allows for better seed placement, but Ray Archuleta, NRCS conservation agronomist, said that no-till systems, especially when combined with cover crops, are better – and lead to healthier, more drought-resistant soil.

Archuleta, who works at the agency’s East National Technology Center in Greensboro, N.C., said no-till has significant financial benefits for producers, too.

“No-tillage can save thousands of dollars every year in fuel, labor and equipment maintenance,” Archuleta said. “The key is to let the soil organisms do the work.”

Here’s a message from the FAO and the Global Soil Partnership.

Results from BASF Survey on Weed Resistance

BASFA new grower survey by BASF Crop Protection shows majority of are facing challenges with glyphosate-resistant weeds.

Three out of four growers who participated in a recent survey by BASF suspect that glyphosate resistance is a cause of their tough to control weeds. As a result, a staggering 76 percent of these growers have already changed their weed management program to address resistance. In addition, many growers have experienced lower yields, which they attribute to resistant weeds. These growers have also spent more time scouting and invested more money in their crops due to resistant weeds.

Growers in the survey also identified how they plan to change their control programs next year, with more than two-thirds indicating they would be applying a preemergence herbicide this season and more than half planning to add an additional herbicide to their existing program. Half of the growers surveyed plan to use more than one site of action and nearly half said they plan on using overlapping residual herbicides to control resistant weeds.

According to the survey, growers say the most difficult weed to control is waterhemp, with ragweed species coming in a close second. Lambsquater and marestail were also identified as difficult weeds.

Read more from BASF.

Fresh Turkey for Thanksgiving Dinner

IMG_3591When I saw this gaggle of plump turkeys in their pen on Monday morning, I wondered if they knew they were going to become very friendly with my mom, the turkey dresser, later that day. It was doomsday for these critters as they were pre-sold to friends and family of the hobby farmer, who also happens to be my best friend’s husband,  who had raised them for a farm fresh turkey dinner on Thanksgiving Day for a handful of friends.

Monday’s life lessons reminded me that I can still recite my favorite Thanksgiving poem, Five Fat Turkeys, complete with hand gestures.  The poem itself starts out innocent, but it reminds me so much of our fowl friends the morning they were to meet their fate.

Five Fat Turkeys
Five fat turkeys sitting on a fence, 
the first one said, “I’m so immense.”
the second one said, “I can gobble at you.”
the third one said, “I can gobble, too.”
the fourth one said, “I can spread my tail.”
the fifth one said, “Don’t catch it on a nail”

Five fat turkeys flew up in a tree. 
the first one said, “there’s a man I see” 
the second one said, “he’s coming this way”
the third one said “it’s Thanksgiving Day” 
the fourth one said ” what’s he going to do?” 
the fifth one said “he’s coming after you”
chop went the ax before the turkey flew away 
they all were on the table that Thanksgiving Day!

IMG_3605Around 4 o’clock all the preparations were made and the dressing of the turkeys began to commence. My mom, who has butchered many a bird in her day, was on the dressing table while the men and kids were outside gathering and de-feathering the birds. The neighbors and friends stopped by to check it out, learn and gather some experience. There was even a 15-year-old who raised and butchered his own turkeys. He took a great deal of pride in that accomplishment, as well he should! It may not be for the faint of heart, but it is the way the first Thanksgiving turkey was prepared and even many of our grandparents raised and butchered their own birds. For those who advocate local food sourcing, this is a great example.

I leave you with a little turkey humor for your Thanksgiving Holiday From my family to yours, I hope you find many things to be thankful for this Thanksgiving.

The Chicago Farmers Rebrands Farmland Fair

chi-farmThe Chicago Farmers annual Farmland Investment Fair has been rebranded for 2014 as simply “The Farmland Fair” with a continued focus on the connection of social media and farmland investment.

The Chicago Farmers 2014 Farmland Fair – “Where People Come To Learn, Connect and Understand Farmland” – will be held on February 1, 2014 from 8:00 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. at Joliet Junior College’s Weitendorf Ag Facility. The Fair will feature social media expert Jeff Korhan, author of “Built-In Social: Essential Social Marketing Practices for Every Small Business,” which delivers proven methods for converting social marketing best practices into profitable outcomes. Korhan is a small business marketing specialist who helps businesses use social media and internet marketing to create exceptional customer experiences that accelerate business growth.

Farmland Fair co-chairman Jeff Martin notes that The Chicago Farmers organization has been helping people with an interest in farmland connect face-to-face with each other since 1935. “This year we’re going to teach people how to connect and learn about farmland on-line and further increase their business opportunities on the farm,” said Martin, who is a past president of The Chicago Farmers, a farmer from Mount Pulaski, Illinois and nationally-recognized expert on conservation practices. Interview with Jeff Martin, The Chicago Farmers

Read more here and watch one of Jeff’s videos from The Chicago Farmers website below where he talks about the fair.

Georgia Peanut Farmers Appreciated

ga-pnuts-signThe Georgia Peanut Commission and the National Peanut Buying Points Association celebrated Thanksgiving a little early on Monday by hosting the 2013 Farmer Appreciation Day to thank area farmers. The event featured country-fried peanuts, boiled peanuts, grilled peanut butter and jelly sandwiches and other refreshments provided by the National Peanut Board, Georgia Farm Bureau, M&M Mars, Snyders Lance, Mckee Foods and Hershey Foods.

ga-pnuts-saxby“It’s harvest time in Georgia, and what a better time to celebrate and honor the men and women who feed and clothe us than the week of Thanksgiving,” said Georgia Peanut Commission Chairman Armond Morris, who noted they had over 100 visitors to the event, including Senator Saxby Chambliss (R-GA). “America’s farmers deserve our thanks every day,” said the senator. “As a member and former chairman of the Senate Agriculture Committee, I will continue to work hard on behalf of farmers and agribusiness to keep this vital sector thriving and contributing to Georgia’s economic health. Ultimately, the reason I am in Washington is to represent those who work the land each and every day to provide the highest quality agricultural products in the world.”

See more photos from the event here.