Queen Bee of Germany Bayer Bee Care Center

bayer-bee-annetteWe already met the queen bee of the new Bayer CropScience North American Bee Care Center, now meet her counterpart at the first Bayer Bee Care Center in Monheim, Germany – Annette Schürmann.

The German center opened at the global headquarters for Bayer CropScience in 2012. “We built it upon the research work that had been over the last 30 years at that site,” said Annette, adding that they get visitors ranging from school children to diplomats.

She says that beekeeping is different in Europe compared to the United States. “The most important difference we have is that in Europe we mainly have hobbyists doing beekeeping,” Annette said. “They don’t make any money out of pollination.” That compares with the large scale beekeepers in the U.S. who will travel to pollinate crops across the country from almonds in California to oranges in Florida.

Still, Europe faces some of the same issues. “The varroa mite was introduced to Europe much earlier than to the U.S.,” said Annette. “So we do have a longer history in dealing with that pest.”

Listen to my interview with Annette here: Interview with Annette Schürmann, Monheim Bayer Bee Care Center

Bayer CropScience Bee Care Center Grand Opening Photo Album

New President for World Farmers’ Organisation

Kendall copyPeter Kendall of the National Farmers’ Union UK was elected as the new President of the World Farmers’ Organisation. After the US national Robert Carlson, he will be at the guide of the WFO for the next two years with a board of six members from six different continents: Mr. Ismail Ab Rahman Bin (Asia), Dr Evelyn Nguleka (Africa), Mr. Brent Finlay, (Oceania), Mr Luis Miguel Etchevehere (Latin America), Mr Piet Vanthemsche (Europe), Mr Ron Bonnet (North America).

Peter Kendall, Former President of the National Farmers’ Union in England and Wales, took a degree in Agricultural Economics at Nottingham University, before returning to the family business in 1984. He was NFU President for eight years from 2006 to February 2014.

“Feeding the world’s rapidly growing population is one of the biggest challenges facing the world today, and it is vital that the world farmers have a strong and united voice as we seek the best solutions to meeting this demand,” said WFO president Peter Kendall. “As President of the World Farmers Organization (WFO) I look forward to continuing the excellent work of Robert Carlson and inclusive who has led the organization since its formation three years ago in August in that time has agriculture continued to climb the political agenda around the world and with the realization that increasing climate change and extreme weather events make our futures uncertain, the WFO has a vital and central role to play. My priority will be to continue to raise the profile of the WFO so it is seen as the lead and most respected organization for global agriculture. To be elected at this critical time is both a great honor and responsibility.”

The vote for the new president and the board has involved all the confederations member of the World Farmers’ Organisation during the General Assembly in Buenos Aires. The event that is going to end brought together about 100 agricultural confederations, coming from 80 different countries in Buenos Aires at the Sociedad Rural Argentina (SRA) from March 26 to 29.

Vote now – Youth in Agriculture Blog Competition

Youth in Agriculture Blog CompetitionHere’s a chance to support young agricultural bloggers. It’s the Youth in Agriculture Blog Competition or YoBloCo Awards. The entries are all in and it’s time for the public to vote. It’s a very simple process too. You can vote here.

The Technical Centre for Agricultural and Rural Cooperation ACP-EU (CTA), in collaboration with FARA, Yam-Pukri, CAFAN, AYF, ANAFE, SPC, PAFPNET and e-Agriculture is pleased to launch the 2nd Edition of the Youth in Agriculture Blog Competition (YoBloCo Awards).

This contest is organised in the framework of the ARDYIS project, which aims to raise youth awareness and improve their capacity on agricultural and rural development issues in ACP countries using Information and Communication Technologies (ICTs).

The aims of this blog competition are to:

  • Put into limelight issues, successes and challenges faced by youth engaged in agriculture, in urban and rural areas
  • Encourage the production of information and the use of new information and communication technologies by young farmers groups and organisations interested in the youth in agriculture question
  • Promote the sharing of information on the issues of agriculture and rural development in African, Caribbean and Pacific (ACP) countries

Kip Cullers in Africa

classic14-kipAbout a week or so before Commodity Classic, I got a call from our good friend and rock star soybean grower Kip Cullers who was all excited about the trip he had just taken to South Africa. So, I did an interview with him while I had the chance, which was a good thing because I barely saw him at Classic, where he had promised to give me a USB drive with photos from the trip but never did. I did catch a shot of him on the stage at Case IH where he was telling the audience about his trip.

Anyway, it was a pretty interesting trip for Kip, who was there with another grower for a tour to meet with local farmers, primarily sponsored by DuPont Pioneer, with participation by BASF and John Deere. “We traveled around the country and had meetings where they were expecting 200 and 400 would show up,” Kip said. “We did five meetings and they said that we covered 80% of the total production acres in South Africa, whether it be corn, wheat or beans.”

Kip says one of his biggest surprises was that they have Asian Soybean Rust there and was interested to find that they use the same BASF product to fight it, although instead of Headline it is known by a different name. He said the farmers were very interested in seed treatments, which are currently not used much in South Africa.

The trip was great, but Kip says he wasn’t thrilled with the food – lamb that was fatty and “kinda got a twang” and some kind of white corn grits-like food that was so dry “I had the spoon turned upside down and it wouldn’t fall off.”

Listen to my interview with Kip talking about his trip to South Africa, as only Kip can – Interview with Missouri farmer Kip Cullers

2014 Commodity Classic Photos

How Ukraine Unrest is Impacting Ag

usubc-logoDuring the World Food Prize in October, we were able to get to know some people from Ukraine and learn more about the US-Ukraine Business Council (USUBC). So our thoughts have been with them as the news has been tuned to the unrest happening there.

usubc-morganOur friend Michael Datsenko with the USUBC put me in touch with his president and CEO Morgan Williams, who is currently in Kyiv, to get an update on the situation there and how it is impacting agriculture. (That’s not a typo – they spell it Kyiv not Kiev – and it’s just Ukraine, not THE Ukraine)

Williams told me that as the former Prime Minister has fled the country and sought refuge in Russia, a new parliament, new Prime Minister and new Ag Minister, Ihor Shvaika, are all in place and beginning to rebuild their infrastructure. Williams has already met Shvaika and will be meeting with him again later this week, along with some of the USUBC agribusiness member representatives.

In our conversation, Williams did debunk some rumors, such as explosives embedded in corn or wheat fields and that farmers aren’t holding onto their corn to hedge against the financial ruin the country currently finds itself in. In fact, he says that in Kyiv things are fairly normal while the upheaval is really happening in the area of Crimea. He does say that farmers are facing some issues getting operating capital with spring planting at hand, and that shipping could also be impacted by the unsettled financial situation.

Listen to our conversation here: Interview with Morgan Williams, U-S Ukraine Business Council

*Also, read here from the International Federation of Agricultural Journalists (IFAJ) some thoughts on the situation by Iurii Mykhailov, “Agribusiness-Ukraine” magazine editor and President of the Union of Agricultural Journalists of Ukraine.

IFAMA and the African Connection

Africa’s agriculture and agribusiness future is at the top of the world’s food and economic growth agendas, so it is appropriate that the International Food and Agribusiness Management Association (IFAMA) will hold its annual Symposium and World Forum in Cape Town this year.

ifama-13-thad“We’re really looking to highlight the needs for agribusiness development and education and careers throughout the African context,” said IFAMA president Thad Simons, who is also president and CEO of Novus International.

The World Forum will have three main themes – The Talent Factor, Feeding the World, and Africa Agribusiness Age of Opportunity. The Symposium portion of the conference features two days of research presentations on topics addressing the global food system that will form the foundation for discussions during the forum. “These are people doing research with regard to economics, marketing, all the parts of agribusiness that are important to understand how we are linking the farmer to the consumer,” Thad told me during an interview at the International Production and Processing Expo last week.

IFAMA is also helping to promote the 40 Chances Fellows program, which was announced at the 2013 World Food Prize. “There’s an open submission process happening right now through the end of May,” Thad explained. “We’re just trying to make sure as many people are putting forth their submissions so we get four really great candidates.”

The fellowships will fund four applicants under the age of 40 submitting a social enterprises plan that addresses issues of hunger, conflict, or poverty in Rwanda, Liberia, Sierra Leone, or Malawi.

Find out more in this interview with Thad – Interview with IFAMA president Thad Simons

International Production and Processing Expo Photos

Sponsored by Novus International Inc

EU Agriculture Commercial for CAP

EU CAP VideoThe European Union is trying to sell the public on their Common Agriculture Policy while promoting agriculture with a campaign, “Taking Care of Our Roots.”

Designed to be greener, fairer and more efficient, the CAP reform aims to reinforce the partnership between Europe and its farmers and deliver real benefits to more than 500 million EU consumers. It also provides an excellent opportunity to bring together EU citizens, farmers, NGOs, other rural actors, national, regional, local authorities, and the European Commission to better understand and debate the importance of agriculture in our lives – and those of future generations.

Here’s a video that delivers the message, Our Life, Our Roots. What do you think? Should USDA run a campaign like this?

Patron Saint & Protector of Animals

Saint Anthony the AbbotToday Saint Anthony Abbot, is commemorated by the Catholic Church. He is the patron and protector of animals. In Rome, St. Peter’s Square will be filled with animals and the Italian Association of Livestock Farmers has organized a series of events to honor their patron saint.

From the Vatican News Service:

The day began at 10:30 with Mass in the Vatican Basilica presided by Cardinal Angelo Comastri, vicar general of His Holiness for Vatican City. At noon there was a procession of horses and riders along Via della Conciliazione in which the military band of the IVth Regiment of mounted police will take part. After the procession, around 12:30, the guests of honor, cows, goats, rabbits, sheep, chickens, etc., and their owners, were blessed.

The members of AIA also invited all residents with pets to join in the celebration and, if they wished, to make use of the free veterinary visit offered to their four-legged friends.

Throughout the day, from 9:00am to 3:00pm, there was an exhibition of animals in the Pio XII Square directly in front of the Bernini colonnade around St. Peter’s Square, an entire farm in the city, showcasing Italian livestock production.

Innovations From a Small Island

2014 IFAJ CongressThe British Guild of Agricultural Journalists will be the host for the prestigious IFAJ World Congress this year for an unprecedented sixth time. The Congress is titled, “Entitled Innovations from a Small Island” and the event will showcase British food and farming to the global media. The ZimmComm team hopes to be there and is seeking sponsors at this time. It’s a great place to interact with agricultural journalists from around the world.

You can find an overview of the agenda for this year’s Congress here.

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?

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

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.

Global Manager for IFAJ

Jose Van Gelder and Anne KluiversWe want to congratulate our friend Jose van Gelder, Agriterra, for her new job with the International Federation of Agricultural Journalists. Here’s her announcement message from Facebook:

Yippee!! As of next month, I’m appointed as the new Global Manager for the International Federation of Agricultural Journalists (IFAJ)! Great challenge and perfect combination with my current work at Agriterra, for which of course I’m going to work a little less.. An extra nice touch is that Anne, with whom I work already for quite some years, is appointed as the IFAJ Global Assistant. I’m looking forward to team up with her and help moving our federation further towards our strategic goal: being a strong, worldwide platform for agricultural journalists and communicators on every continent!

The photo is Jose on the right and Anne Kluivers on the left.

Borlaug Award Nominations Now Open

A_World_Supported_3F35257001FD1You can now place your nominations for the 2014 Borlaug CAST Communication Award. The award is organized by the Council for Agricultural Science & Technology, sponsored by DuPont and carries on the legacy of Dr. Norman Borlaug.

The honor recognizes professionals working in the agricultural, environmental or food sectors who are promoting ag science in the public policy arena. This award serves as a way to showcase efforts made to keep agricultural issues and programs in the public eye.

Jeff Simmons, President of Elanco and 2013 prize winner joins a list of notable recent winners Dr. Carl Winter of the University of California-Davis, Professor Catherine Bertini, former head of the World Food Program, and Dr. Akin Adesina, Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development for Nigeria.

CAST welcomes nominations for those who effectively communicate Dr. Borlaug’s call to feed the world through words, deeds and programs to help farmers and consumers worldwide. The award winner receives a bronze sculpture, an honorarium and the opportunity to give a presentation at a CAST award ceremony during the 2014 World Food Prize Symposium.

Nomination forms can be found here.

The Young Agrarian Community

ZimmCast 416Hello and welcome to the ZimmCast. In this week’s program we’re going to talk about Young Agrarians. During the 2013 Canadian Farm Writers’ Federation conference you met Sara Dent from a presentation she did at our opening reception.

Young AgrariansNow meet Sara in a more personal way via a conversation we had at the close of the CFWF conference. My focus was to learn more about how Young Agrarians got started and what their goals are. I hope you’ll enjoy it.

Listen to this week’s program here: Young Agrarians

Here’s what a young agrarian is: A new entrant into agriculture. Someone from the country to the city who values food, farming, nature and community.

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

2013 Canadian Farm Writers’ Federation Photo Album

People Who Love Bugs Who Eat Bugs

Pest ManagementThe past president of the Canadian Farm Writers’ Federation, Tamara Leigh, shows off her Bekina Boots in this photo with several researchers. Tamara was presenting them with a thank you gift for taking time to meet with us. We were assembled in the Pacific Agri-Food Research Centre during a stop on our CFWF farm tour. The Centre conducts research into integrated pest management, horticultural practices and nutrient management in berries, field crops and greenhouse vegetables.

One of the presenters is Dave Gillespie who spoke on his research as a guy who likes bugs who eat bugs. He mainly did this through answering questions.

You can listen to the presentation here: Pest Management Research

2013 Canadian Farm Writers’ Federation Photo Album

Kenyan Researcher Honored at World Food Prize

DSC_1615Brilliant, well-spoken and pretty as a doll, Dr. Charity Kawira Mutegi was everyone’s darling at the World Food Prize symposium last week.

The 38-year-old researcher from Kenya received the 2013 Norman Borlaug Award for Field Research and Application, endowed by the Rockefeller Foundation, in recognition of her efforts to find the cause and a solution to a deadly outbreak of aflatoxicosis in 2004-05 which killed 125 in eastern Kenya.  Her relentless research led to solutions fending off future outbreaks and securing the region’s crop of maize.

Dr. Mutegi and her team are eradicating aflatoxin, a naturally occurring mold, a major concern for farmers, and toxic to people who directly or indirectly consume it.  The way she accomplishes this is by using the non-toxic form of the fungus which has a competitive advantage over the deadly strains.  Dr. Mutegi says this is just one way to rid her country of the disease which has killed hundreds.

You can listen to a portion of Dr. Mutegi’s press conference at the 2013 World Food Prize here Dr. Charity Mutegi remarks

2013 World Food Prize photos

Australian Farmer on TATT Roundtable

wfp-tatt-andrew2Australian farmer Andrew Weidemann along with his wife and youngest son attended the Wold Food Prize with Truth About Trade and Technologies (TATT) Global Farmer Roundtable. While chatting with Andrew outside of his roundtable role, I learned more about life on his farm in Victoria.  He and his brother are in a partnership along with their families.  They are also involved with a local beer company supplying the barley for Australia’s Finest Barley.

wfp-tatt-andrew1 On the farm in Victoria, Andrew tells me that over the last decade or so they have really started to see advances in their own technologies and how the land is responding. He was one of the first to begin using  technology in his production.

You can listen to my interview with Andrew here Interview with Andrew Weidemann

2013 TATT Global Farmer Roundtable photos

Understanding Agriburbia

CFWF Agriburbia PanelHave you heard of the term agriburbia? If not then this panel discussion that took place during the Canadian Farm Writers’ Federation Conference will be helpful. The panel was titled, “Fraser Valley: is there room for big agriculture in a small setting?” This tied in with the theme of the conference. Our panelists were Dr. Lenore Newman, Canada Research Chair for Food Security and the Environment at the University of the Fraser Valley (on left) and Kim Sutherland, Regional Agrologist with the BC Ministry of Agriculture. You can find information about Dr. Newman’s research at the Agriburban Research Centre.

Dr. Newman gave a broad overview of the concept and Kim had a lot of detailed information. Dr. Newman made a prediction, “One of the strong future branches of agriculture is going to be suburban.” She’s not suggesting that urban farming can feed the world but that suburban areas like so many that surround large urban centers are where the action will be.

You can listen to the presentation here: Understanding Ariburbia

2013 Canadian Farm Writers’ Federation Photo Album

Canadian Cranberry Time

Shergill Cranberry FarmThat cranberry was this big! At least that’s what it looks like Mike Wallis, BC Cranberry Growers Association Mgr., is saying during a presentation at Shergill Cranberry Farm, the second stop for the “farm bikers” tour group during the Canadian Farm Writers’ Federation conference. Also on hand was farm manager Bob Deroche. They talked to us about the farm and answered questions before we walked out onto the bog area that was not yet flooded.

If you’d like to learn more about Canadian cranberry production you’ll enjoy listening to their presentation. I tasted a few in the field. At that time they looked pretty ripe and tasted very tart. First up in the presentation is Mike and Bob chimes in during the Q&A.

You can listen to the presentation here: Shergill Cranberry Farm

2013 Canadian Farm Writers’ Federation Photo Album