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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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.

DialogueNEXT Panels at World Food Prize

wfp13-thad-panelNovus International president and CEO Thad Simons moderated a two-part panel discussion on the next generation and what technologies will be “enabling smallholder farmers in the future to be part of the agricultural revolution.”

The panels focused on “Capacity and Capitol” in the morning and “Beyond the Big Idea” in the afternoon. “We were happy to be able to show in the morning session how venture capitol is coming in to support entrepreneurs in India and then this afternoon we really got into some of the precision agriculture tools that are being developed right now,” said Thad. The afternoon panel members pictured included Peter Frykman, Founder and CEO of Driptech; Matt Burkhart, VP of the Applied Technology Division for Raven Industries; and Dr. Charity Kawira Mutegi of Kenya, recipient of the 2013 World Food Prize Borlaug Award for Field Research and Application.

wfp13-thadThad was wearing two hats at the World Food Prize symposium, since he is currently serving as president of the International Food & Agribusiness Management Association (IFAMA), which will hold its 2014 World Forum and Symposium in Cape Town, South Africa. “We’ll be talking a lot about how we link smallholder farmers into markets,” he said, adding that IFAMA will include a “Youth Day” to educate young Africans about careers in agriculture. “They’re leaving the farm, they don’t see it as being a good place to work but we’ve heard about all of these great technologies and opportunities,” said Thad.

“The Road to 2050: The African Factor – Meeting Future Needs of Food and Agriculture” is the theme of the 24th Annual IFAMA World Forum and Symposium which will be held June 15-19, 2014 in Cape Town.Interview with Thad Simons, Novus International

2013 World Food Prize photos

GROWMARK Supports Kleckner Fellowship

One of the many ways that GROWMARK participates in the World Food Prize Borlaug Dialogue is through support of the Truth About Trade and Technology (TATT)Kleckner Fellowship.

wfp13-karenGROWMARK Corporate Relations Specialist Karen Jones attended the World Food Prize events for the first time this year, the first time they have helped sponsor the fellowship, which was created last year in honor of retiring TATT chairman Dean Kleckner. “Just being here for the first time has been pretty amazing because there are so many people here all united under the same goal to talk about and try to solve some of these problems that affect our global neighbors,” she said.

Karen says the cooperative also supports the efforts of Farmers Feeding the World. Interview with GROWMARK's Karen Jones

raviThe Kleckner Fellowship and Trade & Technology Advancement Award was awarded this year to Indian farmer Ravichandran “Ravi” Vanchinathan. The Kleckner Fellowship was endowed to support at least one global farmer’s participation each year in the Global Farmer Roundtable and Ravi was the first. The Kleckner Trade & Technology Advancement Award recognizes “strong leadership, vision, and resolve in advancing the rights of all farmers to choose the technology and tools that will improve the quality, quantity, and availability of agricultural products around the world.”

2013 TATT Global Farmer Roundtable photos

2013 World Food Prize photos

John Deere Supports Global Harvest Initiative

wfp13-jd-coryOne of the many agricultural companies represented at the World Food Prize symposium last week in Des Moines was John Deere, which is a member of the Global Harvest Initiative (GHI) along with companies such as Elanco, DuPont Pioneer, and Monsanto.

I spoke with Cory Reed, Senior VP of John Deere’s Intelligent Solutions Group, about the release of GHI’s 4th annual Global Agricultural Productivity Report® (GAP Report®). “The primary metric we use to look at productivity is total factor productivity – how much are you growing outputs versus the inputs you are putting into it,” he said, adding that technology is a great way to enhance that which is why John Deere is focused on being able to make it easier for farmers to grow the productivity of their operations.

Cory talks more about increasing productivity in this interview: Interview with John Deere's Cory Reed

2013 World Food Prize photos

Future of Ag Technology and Investment

wfp13-elanco-robExecutives from DuPont Pioneer, Elanco and Monsanto all participated in a panel discussion at the World Food Prize Borlaug Dialogue last week on “Research and Returns: The Future of Agricultural Technology and Investment.”

“In general, we’re talking about the importance of continued investment and innovation and taking it even further to consumer acceptance,” said panelist Rob Aukerman, President of US/Canada Operations at Elanco Animal Health. “We’re very good at the science … the productivity story is incredible. But today we have so many consumers that are far removed from agriculture, that do not understand where their food comes from, and we have to enter into more of a conversation with the consumer to have the social license to move ahead to employ the technologies we need to feed the world.”

While the cost of putting a new product on the market for animal health or crop production is extraordinarily high due to the number of agencies involved, Aukerman believes a strong regulatory process is important for consumer confidence. “That’s one of the things that gives us license to move ahead,” he said. “We always are challenged to make that efficient as well and to make our investments pay off but there is great incentive to continue to invest because the need is great.”

Elanco’s product line includes antibacterials, anticoccidials, vaccines and parasiticides for both food and domestic animals, as well as a productivity enhancers, safety tools and analytical services. Even though they don’t directly produce food products or even animals, Aukerman says they consider themselves a food company. “Our vision of enriching lives through food has changed our company and has compelled us to be part of forums like this and dialogues throughout the entire food chain,” he added, noting that taking part in the World Food Prize events has “re-energized” him.

Listen to or download my conversation with Rob here: Interview with Elanco's Rob Aukerman

Join the ENOUGH movement at and tweet about the future of feeding a global population of nine billion people by 2050 by using the hashtag #FeedThe9.

2013 World Food Prize photos

NCGA Chair is TATT Roundable Alumni

I was happy to see National Corn Growers Association Chairwoman Pam Johnson of Iowa at the World Food Prize symposium last week and interested to find out that she was a Truth About Trade and Technology Global Farmer Roundtable alumni.

wfp-pamPam had a seat at the global roundtable in 2010 and she was pleased to reconnect with some of her fellow alumni during the symposium. “There were 20 of us from all over the world,” she said. “We’re all still working and engaged in agriculture in some way to be a leader and to explain why it is biotechnology is so important as a tool for food security.”

Pam was also very pleased with the focus on agricultural biotechnology at World Food Prize this year with the winners all being scientists who have pioneered its development. “Biotechnology is size neutral, it’s good for everyone,” she said, adding that World Food Prize is a great place “for the personal stories and the truth to get out.” Interview with NCGA Chair Pam Johnson

2013 TATT Global Farmer Roundtable photos

2013 World Food Prize photos

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

Two Glasses of Milk Can #Feedthe9

wfp13-simmonsLast year at the World Food Prize symposium, Elanco president Jeff Simmons talked about eggs. This year, it was milk.

Simmons, who received the 2013 Borlaug CAST Communication Award last week, says milk is “one of the greatest food gaps we currently have” since there is currently 14% less milk per person globally than there was in 1961, despite the fact that dairy productivity has doubled. “What we have globally per person is (one glass) eight ounces,” he said. “What is recommended is two glasses.”

Watch his presentation in the video where he explains the need for two glasses per person and how we can get there to #Feedthe9. Find out more at

2013 World Food Prize photos

Meet Some of the TATT Global Farmers

DSC_1707It was a fascinating experience for me to spend three days watching and listening to the 16 Truth About Trade and Technologies (TATT) Global Farmer Roundtable farmers as they shared with each other and became friends. They were from Argentina, Australia, Canada, Ghana, India, Kenya, Paraguay, Poland, Portugal, South Africa, Ukraine, Uruguay, Zimbabwe and the US – yet they were one. Similarities and differences kept them talking into the wee hours of the night and back at it first thing in the morning. They may have been jet lagged at times, but always willing to share about themselves and where they are from.

I had a chance to ask several of the participants to comment on their experience in Des Moines last week and what they will bring back home with them: TATT Global Farmers comments

2013 TATT Global Farmer Roundtable photos

World Food Prize President Thrilled with 2013 Event

wfp13-quinnWorld Food Prize Foundation president Ambassador Kenneth M. Quinn says this year’s event was bigger and better than ever.

“We had more people registered this year for the symposium,” he said. “After we got beyond 1200 I almost stopped counting because I wasn’t sure where we were going to put folks!”

In addition, there were 350 students and teachers at the event and over 700 attended the Iowa Hunger Summit earlier in the week, a new record. Quinn says the World Food Prize has grown so much from what Dr. Norman Borlaug began in 1987. “We’ve been able to get to where people now say it’s the Nobel Prize for food and agriculture, and some people say it’s the premier conference in the world on global agriculture and one of the most unique programs to inspire young people,” he said, adding that the Prize was sponsored by General Foods in the very beginning and taken over by Iowa businessman and philanthropist, John Ruan.

In this interview, Quinn talks about this year’s event, the history, honoring biotechnology, how the WFP winners are chosen, and a new statue of Dr. Borlaug being installed in the U.S. Capitol next year. Interview with WFP President Kenneth Quinn

2013 World Food Prize photos

World Food Prize Laureates Meet the Press

wfp-13-laureatesThree biotechnology scientists are being honored at the World Food Prize ceremony in Des Moines tonight, but yesterday they met the press and answered some tough questions about the technology they have dedicated their lives to developing.

The 2013 World Food Prize Laureates are Monsanto Chief Technology Officer Dr. Robert Fraley, Marc Van Montagu of the Institute of Plant Biotechnology Outreach at Ghent University in Belgium, and Mary-Dell Chilton of Syngenta Biotechnology. All have achieved breakthrough achievements in founding, developing, and applying modern agricultural biotechnology.

The first question asked by a reporter was basically, why is Monsanto such a target for critics of biotechnology? “Sometimes that’s frustrating,” said Fraley. “I always assume that means we’ve been really successful and people see us as a leader and that’s part of the responsibility that goes with it.”

Chilton with Syngenta said she didn’t really understand why Monsanto is the main target of critics but she believes the industry as a whole needs to “have good communications with the public about the safety” of the technology.

Van Montagu believes that the critics have singled out Monsanto as the “villain” because it works better than talking about the industry as a whole. “If you start gossiping about a person, people always start believing gossip – humanity is like that,” he said.

Some interesting stuff here: World Food Prize Laureates press conference

2013 World Food Prize photos

What is the TATT Global Farmer Roundtable?

Truth About Trade and Technology (TATT) is a non-profit advocacy group led by farmers who support freer trade and a farmers freedom to choose the tools, technologies and strategies they need to maximize productivity and profitability in a sustainable manner. Since 2006, TATT has brought farmers from different countries together during World Food Prize week in Des Moines to attend the event and share their knowledge and experiences with each other. This year there were 16 farmers from 14 countries at the Roundtable, all with different backgrounds and experiences but common challenges and aspirations.

tatt-maryMary Boote, Chief Executive Officer for TATT, is the one who organizes and brings these farmers together and hosts them while they are in Des Moines for the World Food Prize. Mary says since they started the roundtable, they have hosted 98 farmers from 63 different countries and she takes great pride in the fact that alumni want to stay in touch and work together as they go back to their countries. Listen to my interview with Mary here: Interview with Mary Boote

tatt-13-horanTATT chairman and Iowa farmer Bill Horan says the farmers sitting around the table have such similar stories to tell, yet they have so much to learn from one another. “Farmers, large and small, around the world seem to be dealing with some of the same issues – access to technology, credit, trade barriers,” said Horan, adding that the farmers from other countries bring lots of new information back home. “When these folks go back to their own country, they’re treated like rock stars.” Interview with Bill Horan

2013 TATT Global Farmer Roundtable photos

GAP Report Unveiled at World Food Prize

wfp-13-gap1The Global Harvest Initiative (GHI) released its 4th annual Global Agricultural Productivity Report® (GAP Report®) at the World Food Prize Symposium Wednesday before a record crowd of global scientists, agricultural industry experts, farmers, and development professionals.

“This particular report focuses on value chains and what that means for farmers and consumers,” said Dr. Margaret Zeigler, GHI executive director. “We wanted to focus on how the issue of productivity really helps farmers of all sizes succeed as business people as well as feed a growing population using less resources.”

The overall findings of the 2013 GAP Report indicate that over the past decade, countries are managing to maintain growth in productivity on global average but stresses that we must maintain an increasing rate of global agricultural productivity year after year for the next 40 years. Interview with Margaret Zeigler, Global Harvest Initiative

wtp-13-claudiaGHI has six corporate partner members who are very involved in the organization. Among them is Elanco, and the company’s Senior Director of Global Market Access Claudia Garcia was on a panel at the GAP report release to discuss the new findings.

One of the report’s findings was that countries such as China will not be able to meet domestic demand for food, particularly for its growing middle class. “Those people will require more animal-source foods,” said Claudia. “The challenge is how can we produce more animal-source foods without impacting the environment.”

Of the nine billion person population projected to be on the planet by 2050, one third are expected to be middle class. Claudia says that’s why Elanco launched the Sensible Table movement, #Feedthe9, to make a commitment. Interview with Claudia Garcia, Elanco

2013 World Food Prize photos

Howard Buffett Foundation Initiatives Announced

wfp-13-buffett-blairFormer UK Prime Minister Tony Blair and philanthropist/farmer Howard G. Buffett were the stars at the World Food Prize Borlaug Dialogues today in Des Moines, launching new initiatives to address conservation, hunger and poverty issues in Africa.

For one, the Howard G. Buffett Foundation has formed a partnership with John Deere and DuPont Pioneer to promote conservation agriculture adoption and support smallholders and sustainable farming in Africa. The effort will be piloted in Ghana and include a conservation-based, mechanized product suite developed by John Deere; a system of cover crops and improved inputs from DuPont Pioneer; and support for adoption and training on conservation-based practices by the Howard G. Buffett Foundation.

Additionally, Blair announced a collaboration between his Africa Governance Initiative (AGI), the Howard G. Buffett Foundation, and the World Food Prize Foundation to launch the 40 Chances Fellows program.

40 Chances: Finding Hope in a Hungry World a new book written by Howard G. Buffett, inspired the program, which will encourage innovation in developing market‐based approaches that address food insecurity. Fellowship funds will support social entrepreneurs who are addressing issues of hunger, conflict, or poverty in Liberia, Malawi, Rwanda, and Sierra Leone, four of the countries where AGI has strong government partnerships.

Blair and Buffett participated in a panel and then met the press at the World Food Prize. You can listen to or download both audio files below.

40 Chances Panel discussion
Blair and Buffett Press Conference

2013 World Food Prize photos

TATT Global Farmer Roundtable Wraps Up

DSC_1631The Truth About Trade and Technology (TATT) Global Farmer Roundtable has come to an end, but there’s still plenty for these farmers from 14 countries to learn, see and do while they are in Des Moines, Iowa at the 2013 World Food Prize. Sixteen farmers from 14 different countries have spent the last several days together learning about not only each other but also about the practices used on each others’ farms, how to grow their crops better, and how to work with their governments more effectively.

Jim Zimmerman (no relation to Chuck or Cindy) of Wisconsin, who is chairman of the National Corn Growers Association Trade Policy and Biotechnology Action Team, said he was nominated to be a part of the TATT’s Global Farmer Roundtable. Although he doesn’t know who to thank for the opportunity, he said he is honored to be here and is looking forward to acting on what he’s learning. Zimmerman said he is committed to helping make better policy for both U.S. farmers and farmers around the world.

Listen to my interview with Jim here  Interview with Jim Zimmerman

2013 TATT Global Farmer Roundtable photos


Kleckner Award Presented to Indian Farmer

tatt-13-raviA highlight of the Truth About Trade and Technology (TATT) Global Farmer Roundtable on Tuesday was the presentation of the first Kleckner Trade and Technology Advancement Award Fellow to V. Ravichandran, better known to friends as Ravi. He is pictured here with TATT CEO Mary Boote and chairman Bill Horan.

Ravi grows rice, sugarcane, cotton and pulses on about 60 acres near the southern tip of India in the village of Poongalum which is in the state of Tamil.  We would consider him a small scale farmer by American standards, but in India, Ravi is considered a larger-scale producer. He first attended the roundtable in 2010 and he really enjoys the opportunity to learn from farmers in other countries.

“I’m able to interact with farmers from developed nations like the U.S., Canada and Australia. Their way of farming is really amazing,” he said. “I’m very interested in adopting new technology – that keeps me going.”

Ravi is very active in social media, on Facebook and Twitter, and has about 1100 followers. “Most of my followers are from the European Union, they’re all farmers,” he said, noting that he hears from them about their desire to use biotech crops. You can follow Ravi on Twitter @FarmerRaviVKV.

Ravi talks about that and more in this interview. Interview with Indian farmer V. Ravichandran

2013 TATT Global Farmer Roundtable photos

TATT Global Farmer Roundtable visits Couser Cattle

tatt-13-couserDuring the Truth About Trade and Technology (TATT) Global Farmer Roundtable we went to the Couser Cattle Company. Bill and Nancy Couser with son Tim produce corn and cattle just outside of Nevada, IA.  

When Tim graduated from Iowa State University, mom and dad strongly suggested that he spend some time in the corporate world before returning to the family operation.  So Tim worked for John Deere Corporation in Ottumwa, IA and learned more about goals and the corporation way to do things.  Returning to the family farm to implement what he has learned regarding long term goals and implementing some additional safety measures, he might be getting some push back from the workers, but he’s excited to grow the family operation. Interview with Tim Couser

tatt-13-cousersThe Cousers have hosted the TATT roundtable since its inception and it is an event that Bill says they always enjoy. “Just the people we’ve met over the years is incredible,” he says. “To sit down at a table with farmers from all across the world – it’s amazing how we all have the same challenges and we all have the same goals.”

The Cousers are strong supporters of the ethanol industry – Bill is past president of the Iowa Renewable Fuels Association – and he is passionate about the importance of producing food, feed and fuel. In this interview he talks about Couser Cattle Company, corn, and communication. Interview with Bill Couser

2013 TATT Global Farmer Roundtable photos