Dannon Responds to Ag Groups’ Concerns

Cindy Zimmerman 1 Comment

dannonThe Dannon Company released a statement Tuesday after being called out by agricultural organizations for its plans to phase out GMOs in some major brands for the sake of sustainability.

“We were surprised to receive a divisive and misinformed letter about our efforts to continue to grow America’s enjoyment of dairy products, including yogurt,” reads the company statement release. “Making yogurt begins with the wholesome milk that our farmers sell to us. Unlike any other large dairy processors, we have built direct and transparent relationships with our independent American dairy farmer partners. Together with them we are beginning to implement the Dannon Pledge, announced six months ago, which commits to evolve three of our brands to be made with non-GMO ingredients, as well as non-GMO feed for the cows from which we source our milk, between now and 2018. These three brands – Dannon, Danimals and Oikos – represent about half of our portfolio of products.”

In the letter sent Monday to Dannon head of U.S. operations Mariano Lozano, the farm groups said that the company’s strategy to eliminate GMOs “is the exact opposite of the sustainable agriculture that you claim to be seeking. Your pledge would force farmers to abandon safe, sustainable farming practices that have enhanced farm productivity over the last 20 years while greatly reducing the carbon footprint of American agriculture.”

USFRA1U.S. Farmers and Ranchers Alliance (USFRA) chair Nancy Kavazanjian says they publicized the letter because they wanted to Dannon to hear the voices of farmers and ranchers. “We talked to them and tried to have some meetings with them and just couldn’t get any response so we really needed to raise our voices and put an end to this marketing ‘puffery’ that’s going on,” said Kavazanjian. “Dannon seems to imply that GMO crop traits make us less sustainable and that’s absolutely the opposite.”

In the statement, Dannon specifically notes “we believe the currently approved GMOs are safe” but at the same time they “believe that sustainable agricultural practices can be achieved with or without the use of GMOs.” The reason they give for “getting rid of GMOs” is “growing consumer preference for non-GMO ingredients.” They want to enable consumers to choose “which agricultural and environmental model they favor.”

Quoted in the release, Lozano said, “We believe strongly that the unparalleled range of choice that Danone’s US affiliates provide, from organic, to non-GMO ingredients, and to conventional dairy is a reason to celebrate rather than criticize.”

Kavazanjian says if people want to know more about how food is produced, they should ask a farmer or rancher directly through USFRA. Learn more in this interview with Nancy: Interview with USFRA Chair Nancy Kavazanjian

Audio, Dairy, USFRA

GROWMARK Makes Energy Investments

Cindy Zimmerman Leave a Comment

growmark-energyGROWMARK announced two major energy-related investments last month that provide benefits for the members of the Illinois-based agricultural cooperative.

First, GROWMARK acquired a propane terminal in Plattsburg, Missouri which is connected to the ONEOK pipeline, has 270,000 gallons of storage and the capability to load out two trucks at once. “It gives us another asset and access to propane,” said Kevin Carroll, vice president, energy and logistics. “Our customers expect us to have it when they need it so we’ve got back up supplies and a lot of alternative sources.” GROWMARK also owns a refined and renewable fuels terminal in Wathena, Kansas near St. Joseph, Missouri. “Marketing propane through the Plattsburg terminal also makes us a more complete supplier in the geography given the proximity to the Wathena refined fuel terminal,” Carroll adds.

growmark-upiGROWMARK also recently reached an agreement with Suncor to purchase 50 percent interest in UPI, Inc. in Ontario, Canada. The transaction, subject to conditions including regulatory approvals, brings GROWMARK’s ownership of UPI to 100 percent. “We’ve been in that joint venture for a little over 20 years,” Carroll explains, noting that it was a mutual agreement for the benefit of both parties. Suncor and GROWMARK have also entered into long-term supply agreements for GROWMARK’s petroleum needs in Ontario. “We wanted assurance from a refiner in the province that we’d have product and Suncor wanted assurance from a distributor or retailer that their product would be put out into the marketplace so it worked out well for both of us,” he said.

Learn more about GROWMARK’s energy outlook in this interview with Carroll. Interview with Kevin Carroll, GROWMARK Energy

Audio, Energy, FS System, GROWMARK, Propane

Join Us & Great American Wheat Harvest for #TransformFFA

Jamie Johansen Leave a Comment

screen-shot-2016-10-18-at-1-10-22-pmThis week thousands of FFA members will flood the streets of Indianapolis for the 89th National FFA Convention. We will be there to cover as much of the happenings as possible thanks to New Holland Agriculture. Check back daily for added content and as always, AgNewsWire.Agwired.com will compile all audio and photos to make it that much easier.

While in Indy, students will have the chance to receive a LIMITED EDITION copy of the Great American Wheat Harvest movie. This limited edition will only be available to FFA Chapters. They have printed more than 8,000 copies to distribute to chapter leaders so if you know someone who will be at convention, please encourage them to stop by the New Holland Agriculture booth in the exhibit hall to pick up their copy.

Film director, Conrad Weaver and “star” of the film, Tracy Zeorian will be attending the event and will be personally handing out the DVDs. We’re especially thankful for New Holland’s contribution and sponsorship and for their ongoing commitment to agriculture education!

We have worked in partnership with a number of sponsors and have been endorsed by the National FFA Organization for the production of this special DVD. The project was sponsored by New Holland Agriculture, MacDon Industries, the US Custom Harvesters, Monsanto, US Wheat Associates, and the Oklahoma Wheat Commission.

Coverage of the National FFA Convention is sponsored by
Coverage of the National FFA Convention is sponsored by FMC
Coverage of the National FFA Convention is sponsored by New Holland
Ag Group, FFA, Harvest, New Holland, Wheat

What’s Important to Food Sustainability?

Jamie Johansen Leave a Comment

zp-nh1Our latest ZimmPoll asked the question, “Will you be getting the new iPhone 7?”

The new models of the iPhone are out, the iPhone 7 and 7 Plus. It’s seems many are waiting on the 8 or simply don’t want it. Of course, Chuck has his and we are waiting with anticipation for his review. As an avid Apple customer, I will eventually make the plunge, but I am holding out a bit. Should I be surprised there are so many Android peeps? Sometimes I am tempted to try one out.

Here are the poll results:

  • Yes, already have it – 12%
  • Yes, on order – 4%
  • Don’t want it – 24%
  • No, waiting for iPhone 8 – 16%
  • No, I’m Android – 40%
  • I don’t use smartphones – 4%

Our new ZimmPoll is live and asks the question, What is most important to food sustainability?

More and more food companies are recognizing the importance of sustainability in agriculture, but it seems some are not understanding how technology and food production work hand-in-hand. In fact, the most recent news on the issues comes from Dannon, who believes sustainability means non-GMO. Tell us what you think. What is most important to food sustainability…biotech, water management, precision ag, etc?


FMC’s Kasper Talks Pesticides & Regs at #CAPCA16

Joanna Schroeder Leave a Comment

dsc_0827How will the agriculture industry grow an increasing amount of safe, healthy food in an environment of more stringent regulations coupled with less water? This question was answered by John Kasper, commercial business unit director for FMC Corporation, during the opening session of the 42nd annual California Association of Pest Control Advisers. The sold-out event focused on feeding a nation and fighting the fear and one fear growing among consumers is the fear of pesticides, just one concern that has fed the fire of changing regulations.

Kasper led off his presentation, entitled, “Producing High Quality Food in an Increasingly Regulated Environment,” with acknowledging that growers’ jobs have become harder. He said that growers have needs and the industry must figure out how to develop tools and technologies to meet these needs. One potential area is that of biologics including biopesticides and biostimulants. Kasper said that today this is a fragmented and diverse market but he believes it may be the next frontier. It’s estimated to grow to a $10 billion industry by 2030.

FMC has entered this biological arena and Kasper said two years ago they created a partnership with Christian Hansen. Today they have built a European Innovation Center in Denmark, their partner’s headquarters, that will focus on biological research. Kasper anticipates they will see their first group of products born out of this collaboration within the next 3-5 years.

To learn more about pesticides and regulations, listen to my interview with John Kasper here: John Kasper, FMC


Back to the regulation frontier, Kasper said that the EPA is currently reviewing pyrethroids and he counseled that it is very important that the industry submit comments relating to how important they are to farmers. “We must show value of these products,” added Kasper. “We can not take proven products for granted.”

Kasper ended his presentation on a positive note calling for the industry to engage in change. “We have a tremendous opportunity to be open to change and see productivity increases.

Listen to Kasper’s full presentation here: John Kasper, FMC, CAPCA Conference

Be sure to check out even more action by viewing the 42nd Annual CAPCA Photo Album.

Agribusiness, Audio, FMC, Fungicide, Insecticides, pesticides

CAPTAIN CAPCA Saves the Show

Joanna Schroeder Leave a Comment

CAPTAIN CAPCA and Dr Foe battled it out this morning in their last meeting to kick off the 42nd annual California Association of Pest Control Advisors (CAPCA). The event took place in no better place for a superhero and villain – Disneyland – in Anaheim, California October 16-18, 2016. This year’s theme is Feeding the Nation – Fighting the Fear and the speakers are covering all angles of what increasing consumer interest in agriculture means for the pesticide business. It’s leading to more regulation but it in the words of John Kasper, commercial business unit director for FMC Company, adversity can spur innovation and this coverage is highlighting innovation from data to drones to biopesticides to water quality and management and more.

Now, back to our superhero CAPTAIN CAPCA. He fought his last battle with Dr. Foe this morning and who won? Watch here.

Have as much fun with this as me? Then be sure to watch the episode 1 by clicking here.

Be sure to check out even more action by viewing the 42nd Annual CAPCA Photo Album.

And special thanks to FMC Corporation for covering our CAPCA adventure.

Agribusiness, FMC, pesticides, Video

Meet Rice Farming TV

Chuck Zimmerman Leave a Comment

ZimmCast 527How much do you know about rice farming? Do you know the difference between brown and white rice? Want to? Then follow Rice Farming TV and Matthew Sligar.

Rice Farming TVMatthew farms in northern California with his Dad and in the spare time he doesn’t have he produces Rice Farming TV, a weekly Vlog. You know what that is right? A blog in which the posts are videos. Hopefully, you’ll subscribe to him on YouTube. You can also find him on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram.

Matthew decided there was a need for this kind of online sharing about farming after talking with people who had no idea that rice was even grown in California. This is exactly what we need today and especially more people like Matthew. I visited with him by phone to hear his story which I’m sharing in this week’s ZimmCast. If you’re interested in contacting Matthew and possibly providing him with some support in his efforts please do so.

You can listen to the program here: ZimmCast with Matthew Sligar, Rice Farming TV

Want to watch an episode of Rice Farming TV? Here’s one I really like called, “The Wives of Rice Farmers.”

Subscribe to the ZimmCast podcast here.

The ZimmCast

sponsored by
The ZimmCast podcast is sponsored by GROWMARK
Locally owned, globally strong.
Audio, Farming, Rice, ZimmCast

Ag Groups Tell Dannon Sustainability Needs Biotech

Jamie Johansen Leave a Comment

nmpf-04farmbureauTop farming organizations joined together urging food companies to recognize that their sustainability goals, intended to reduce the use of natural resources, cannot be achieved without the use of modern agricultural practices, despite any misleading assertions to the contrary.

This focus on deceptive food company marketing claims is in response to Dannon’s recent pledge to eliminate the use of safe and proven crop technology to feed the dairy cows that supply milk for its yogurt products. Dannon is one of several prominent food manufacturers and retailers that in recent years has taken steps to eliminate genetically-modified ingredients from its supply, claiming that such a move improves the sustainability of its products.

In a letter sent to Mariano Lozano, head of Dannon’s U.S. operations, the farm groups said that the company’s strategy to eliminate GMOs “is the exact opposite of the sustainable agriculture that you claim to be seeking. Your pledge would force farmers to abandon safe, sustainable farming practices that have enhanced farm productivity over the last 20 years while greatly reducing the carbon footprint of American agriculture.”

usfra-logoASA-logo“This is just marketing puffery, not any true innovation that improves the actual product offered to consumers,” said Randy Mooney, chairman of the National Milk Producers Federation, and a dairy farmer from Rogersville, Missouri. “What’s worse is that removing GMOs from the equation is harmful to the environment – the opposite of what these companies claim to be attempting to achieve.”

The letter was cosigned by the farmer leaders of the American Farm Bureau Federation, American Soybean Association, American Sugarbeet Growers Association, National Corn Growers Association, National Milk Producers Federation and U.S. Farmers and Ranchers Alliance. Collectively, the six organizations represent hundreds of thousands of farmers and food producers across the U.S.

“Farming organizations are standing up for the technology that supports continuous improvement in farm sustainability. Farmers and ranchers have grown GMO crops over the past 20 years precisely because biotechnology helps farmers preserve resources for the future,” said Nancy Kavazanjian, chairwoman of U.S. Farmers and Ranchers Alliance (USFRA), and a corn, soybean and wheat farmer in Beaver Dam, Wisconsin. “When food companies are making sourcing decisions, farm groups encourage them to recognize that modern, conventional agriculture is sustainable.”

screen-shot-2016-10-17-at-11-29-47-amNCGANumerous, conclusive studies have come out over the last 20 years proving the safety of GMO food and the environmental benefits of growing GM crops. Most recently, 109 Nobel laureates announced their support of GMO technology, citing a study from the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine saying, “the study committee found no substantiated evidence of a difference in risks to human health between current commercially available genetically engineered (GE) crops and conventionally bred crops, nor did it find conclusive cause-and-effect evidence of environmental problems from the GE crops.”

“Despite overwhelming evidence supporting the safety GMO crops and their benefits to the environment, marketers of some major food brands, such as Dannon, have aligned themselves against biotechnology,” said Wesley Spurlock, President of the National Corn Growers Association. “Farming organizations believe in open and honest communication with consumers, and allowing people to make informed choices in the market. But we cannot sit by while certain food companies spread misinformation under the guise of a marketing campaign.”

Ag Group, ASA, Farm Bureau, Food, NCGA, NMPF, Sustainability, USFRA

Roberts Honored as First Canadian IFAJ President

Kelly Marshall Leave a Comment

cfwf-16-robertsMembers of the Canadian Farm Writers Federation (CFWF) had cause to celebrate as they honored Owen Roberts at their recent annual conference. Special recognition was given to Roberts as the first Canadian president of the International Federation of Agricultural Journalists (IFAJ).

His award was presented by Allison Finnimore and Trevor Bacque, who outlined his many career accomplishment.

Owen Roberts first served as the CFWF voice on the IFAJ Executive Committee. From there he was elected as Secretary General in 2009, followed by a position of Vice President in 2012. His leadership was instrumental in the growth of IFAJ; he saw the addition of their first staff member and was part of the development as the organization grew from 25 member countries to 41. Roberts oversaw the rewrite of three constitutional changes and helped bring IFAJ to Canada in 2011. But of all his accomplishments, Roberts himself is the most pleased with his work with the youth.

“We knew, way back when, that we had to have an emphasis on youth, and that has always been what I thought was an imperative part of Farm Writers,” Roberts told the audience as he accepted his recognition. “To develop young members, to have professional development as our foundation, for people like Trevor and so many others who have come along as Farm Writers and have embrace the culture we’ve tried to create. Makes me feel so good about the future of Farm Writers.”

You can hear Owen Robert’s acceptance remarks here:  Owen Roberts- President, IFAJ

2016 Canadian Farm Writers Federation Conference Photo Album

Coverage of the Canadian Farm Writers Federation 2016 Conference is sponsored by
Coverage of the Canadian Farm Writers Federation 2016 Conference is sponsored by Case IH
Audio, CFWF, IFAJ, Journalism

Bayer Exec Keynotes at #FoodPrize16

Cindy Zimmerman Leave a Comment

wfp16-liamLiam Condon, head of Bayer’s CropScience Division, gave the breakfast keynote speech at the 2016 Borlaug Dialogue International Symposium in Des Moines on Friday, bringing the future of farming to the overall theme of the event this year “Let Food by Thy Medicine.”

“Food needs to be nutritious, abundant in supply, safe and affordable,” said Condon. “We all need to stand up and fight for the importance of innovation in agriculture if we are going to meet this challenge.”

An Irishman, Condon talked about how innovations in agriculture have helped ensure that potato blight will never again devastate a nation, as it did to Ireland in 1845. “The research we’re investing in today will mean a whole new world of promise for agricultural food production to improve people’s lives in the future,” he said.

However, Condon added, “It’s not only about innovation, it’s about our responsibility to smallholders and our responsibility to the planet.” He talked about how digital farming will “help accelerate our ability to increase crop yields in a sustainable manner.”

Condon wrapped up with a quote from Scottish historian Thomas Carlyle, “For he who has health, has hope and he who has hope, has everything.”

Be sure to read Condon’s op-ed in the Des Moines Register about the importance of cultivating an interest in agricultural innovation in today’s bright young minds.

Bayer, Food, World Food Prize