Clinton Unveils Ag Plan, Gets Vilsack Support

Cindy Zimmerman Leave a Comment

clinton-vilsackWith a John Deere tractor as a backdrop, Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton went where no candidate has gone yet – into a detailed discussion on agricultural issues.

Introduced by former Iowa governor and current Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack, Clinton discussed her plan to support rural America and agriculture during a visit to Ankeny, Iowa Wednesday. Clinton’s plan includes investments in rural areas and rural transportation, streamlining the process for community banks, investment in water and broadband infrastructure, and improving USDA grant programs. Other facets of the plan includes making production of agricultural products more profitable for farmers, promoting the use of clean energy and renewable energy sources, and expanding opportunities for those in rural communities by expanding Head Start, affordable education, and affordable healthcare.

Introducing Mrs. Clinton, Vilsack made his support for her as a candidate clear. “This is a woman who will listen to us, who will fight for us,” said Vilsack. “I and my wife will always remain loyal to our friend Hillary Clinton.”

Mrs. Clinton came out strongly in support of the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) and talked about changes she wants to make in agricultural support at the federal level. “As president, I’ll make sure that federal resources like disaster assistance and crop insurance go to farmers and ranches who need it the most, not those who have the biggest businesses or the best connections,” said Clinton. “We will change the formula.”

Listen to Vilsack’s introduction and Clinton’s speech here: Hillary Clinton on Ag in Iowa

Audio, Government, politics

New John Deere Self-Propelled Forage Harvesters

Chuck Zimmerman Leave a Comment

John Deere Forage HarvesterQuite a few new products were put on display for those of us in ag media this week. That includes three new models of the 8000 Series Self-Propelled Forage Harvesters.

“We took the momentum from the 8000 Series rollout last year and added to an already stellar lineup of forage harvesters,” says Tim Meister, division manager, marketing with John Deere. “The three new models make the John Deere SPFH lineup even stronger with the ability to deliver optimal harvesting speed, reliability and forage quality.”

Growers can choose from three new models:

8300, 483-horsepower with a Tier-IV Final 13.5-liter engine
8700, 755-horsepower with a Tier-II, non-EGR 19.0-liter engine
8800, 832-horsepower with a Tier-II, non-EGR 19.0-liter engine
Each model can be equipped with HarvestLab™, an advanced crop analysis and documentation component that uses constituent sensing to improve forage quality.

Headers for the SPFH machines include the John Deere Small Drum Rotary Harvesting units from 6-12 rows, John Deere Large Drum Rotary Harvesting units from 6-10 rows, and the all-new 9 Series Hay Pick-ups. All the John Deere headers are automatically speed-matched to the length of cut.

You can listen to my interview with Tim here to learn more: Tim Meister, John Deere

John Deere 2016 Product Reveal Photo Album

Agribusiness, Audio, Dairy, Forage, Hay, John Deere

The Commercial UAV Expo

Chuck Zimmerman Leave a Comment

ZimmCast 485We keep hearing that it’s “the year of the drone.” Here’s more proof of that. The first ever Commercial UAV Expo is slated for October 5-7 in Las Vegas and AgWired is a supporting media sponsor.

To learn all about it I visited with Lisa Murray, Diversified Communications. Lisa says that not only is there a precision agriculture segment of the program but she believes anyone involved in precision agriculture will benefit from seeing how other industries are using UAV’s.

Commercial UAV ExpoIn the Conference Program, UAV industry experts will share key insights into the issues end-users face when implementing UAS, including systems selection and integration; developing enterprise workflows, guidelines and policies; data management and integration; and legal, safety and regulatory considerations. Plenary sessions and panels cover topics of interesting to all end-users regardless of industry while breakout sessions focus on UAV technology, applications and opportunities in the vertical markets listed above.

Here’s a list of companies that are exhibiting.

You can get registered here. A full conference registration is $250 if you register before September 15.

Listen to this week’s program here to learn all about it: Commercial UAV Expo

Subscribe to the ZimmCast podcast here.

The ZimmCast

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Audio, Events, Precision Agriculture, UAV, ZimmCast

Hutch, KN Native Wins USFRA’s I am FARMLAND Gator

Jamie Johansen Leave a Comment

USFRA I am FARMLAND Gator Winner John Wildin copyWhen Hutchinson, Kansas native John Wildin put his entry form into the I Am FARMLAND sweepstakes box during the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association convention this past February, he never dreamed he would win a John Deere Gator.

The promotion was the brainchild of the U.S. Farmers and Ranchers Alliance (USFRA) to help create awareness about the documentary FARMLAND and encourage the agriculture community to help bring the film to consumers across the country. To draw people into USFRA’s booths, John Deere, a long-time USFRA supporter, donated a coveted Gator. It worked. Thousands of people at agricultural trade shows across the country not only entered to win but have since viewed and purchased copies of the documentary.

“When I got the call I let it go to voicemail, and then even after I called them back [USFRA] I still didn’t believe I had won,” said Wildin whose great grandfather homesteaded on the Arkansas River. “The utility of the vehicle out on a farm in this day and age is just incredible. We’ve got big plans for it.”

When Chuck Studer, Director, Industry Relations with John Deere was approached about the I Am FARMLAND sweepstakes, they donated the Gator without hesitation. Studer, who is also a USFRA board member, said they wanted to support the FARMLAND promotion because it was an opportunity to give individual ranchers and farmers the opportunity to engage in the story of agriculture and share that message with food consumers across the country.

Find audio, video and photos from the event at

Ag Group, USFRA

John Deere Adds to 6 Series Tractor Lineup

Chuck Zimmerman Leave a Comment

John Deere 6MJohn Deere has added to its popular 6 Series of tractors and I got to discuss the features with Kory Ross, Product Manager, Waterloo Works.

John Deere adds the 6E Series Tractors to the 6 Family Tractor lineup, which features enhanced performance, added versatility and greater value to the existing family of high-horsepower utility tractors.

The design on the new 6E Series initially began with upgrading the pre-existing 6D line. “We took a solid, simple workhorse in the 6D and made it even better with upgrades, like easier operating functions,” says Kory Ross, product marketing manager for John Deere. “We improved it and added so much value that we felt it earned a whole new name – the 6E Series.”

You can listen to my interview with Kory here who also talks about a new 6M tractor: Kory Ross, John Deere

John Deere 2016 Product Reveal Photo Album

Agribusiness, Audio, John Deere, Tractor

Farm Income Forecast Lower

Cindy Zimmerman Leave a Comment

USDAFarm sector profitability is forecast to decline for the second straight year, according to the latest report from USDA.

Net cash income is forecast at $100.3 billion, down about 21 percent from 2014 levels. Lower crop and livestock receipts are the main drivers of the change in 2015 net cash farm income from 2014, while cash production expenses are projected down by 1.1 percent. Net farm income is forecast to be $58.3 billion in 2015, down 36 percent from 2014’s estimate of $91.1 billion. The 2015 forecast for net farm income would be the lowest since 2006 (since 2002 in inflation-adjusted terms) and a drop of nearly 53 percent from the record high of $123.7 billion in 2013. As a measure of profitability, net cash farm income is generally less variable over time than the broader net farm income measure. One explanation is that it is possible to exercise greater control on the timing of cash receipts and expenses and thereby moderate large swings from year to year.

Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack took a positive outlook on the report. “Today’s farm income forecast is heartening for all Americans,” said Vilsack in a statement. “The past several years have seen unprecedented highs in farm income, and despite the fact that farm income is forecast to be down from record levels, today’s projections provide a snapshot of a rural America that continues to remain stable and resilient in the face of the worst animal disease outbreak in our nation’s history and while the western United States remains gripped by drought. Thanks to its ability to be competitive through thick and thin, American agriculture remains fundamentally sound, supporting and creating good-paying American jobs for millions.”

Crop receipts for 2015 are expected to decrease by $12.9 billion (6.2 percent) this year, led by a projected $7.1-billion decline in corn receipts. Soybean receipts are expected to be down $3.4 billion wheat down $1.6 billion compared to 2014. Livestock receipts are forecast to decrease by $19.4 billion (9.1 percent) in 2015 largely due to lower milk and hog prices.

Farming, USDA

Monsanto Drops Bid for Syngenta

Chuck Zimmerman Leave a Comment

MonsantoWhile I heard talk of a “done deal” due to the newest offer from Monsanto to Syngenta in a group of ag media folks this week, Syngenta wasn’t okay with it according to this announcement from Monsanto this morning. Monsanto says it is no longer pursuing the deal.

While Monsanto Company (NYSE: MON) continues to believe a combination with Syngenta (VTX: SYNN) would have created tremendous value for shareowners of both companies and farmers, Syngenta has communicated that Monsanto’s enhanced proposal did not meet Syngenta’s financial expectations. Without a basis for constructive engagement from Syngenta, Monsanto will continue to focus on its growth opportunities built on its existing core business to deliver the next wave of transformational solutions for agriculture.

Monsanto confirmed it communicated a revised proposal on August 18 to Syngenta to combine the two companies. The enhanced proposal, subject to due diligence and other customary conditions, included a number of elements including the following:

Monsanto’s new proposal increased the cash component of the proposed transaction to CHF 245 per share. The proposal also maintained the same number of shares as in its April proposal, providing Syngenta shareowners with an approximate 30 percent ownership in the new company. Based on Monsanto’s share price and currency exchange rates at the time, the revised proposal translated to a value of CHF 470 per share.

Given the confidence the transaction would close and to provide additional protection from closing risk, the proposal increased the reverse break-up fee to $3 billion. The reverse break-up fee would have been payable by Monsanto if it would have been unable to obtain necessary global regulatory approvals.

Post Update: Click here to see response Syngenta comments on the Monsanto Announcement Read More

Agribusiness, Monsanto, Syngenta

What Does Sustainable Mean to the Consumer?

Jamie Johansen Leave a Comment

USFRAThe 2015 NAMA Bootcamp was again held in Kansas City, MO. The event attracts those new to the world of agri-marketing or simply new to the agriculture community. Sustainability and the consumer was one breakout session which discussed how farmers and ranchers can communicate with food connectors and millennials about sustainability.

U.S. Farmers & Ranchers Alliance (USFRA) CEO, Randy Krotz, was charged with this task and I spoke with him about what exactly sustainable means and what we can do to convey that to consumers. USFRA is in the middle of some significant research to find a way for consumers to connect with producers in the language we use in agriculture.

“Farmers love to talk about how they farm. We have multi-generation farms and we automatically think, of course, they are sustainable. How can they not be? But that message doesn’t connect with consumers. We need to find the language that does.”

Initially they are finding water is at the forefront of consumer minds and long-term health risks and benefits. “They have picked that up with rhetoric around concerns with GMO’s or the use of antibiotics. We have to address that when we go and talk about agriculture being sustainable. We need to talk about why we are. We need to talk about the environment. We have to address water, air, soil and health. We know those things connect.”

Randy’s best advice to ag marketers is to truly look at your audience. Know who you are marketing to. “We thought for so long that safe, abundant and affordable when talking about our food supply was what we should be talking about. Come to find out, when we use those terms consumers don’t hear that at all.”

In my complete interview with Randy, learn more about millennials and millennial parents. Interview with Randy Krotz, USFRA

Find photos from the event here: 2015 NAMA Bootcamp Photos

Ag Group, Audio, Food, NAMA, Sustainability, USFRA

Agri-Pulse Open Mic with Robert Johansson of USDA

John Davis Leave a Comment

Agri-Pulse Open Mic this week features USDA Chief Economist Robert Johansson.

open-micIn this wide-ranging interview, you’ll hear his perspective on any relationship between the drop in equity markets and commodity prices, thoughts on China, Brazil and other countries lowering their currency values, and the implications of the EPA’s upcoming decision on RFS volume standards for US farm income.

Click here to listen to Agri-Pulse Open Mic with USDA Chief Economist Robert Johansson.

Agri-Pulse, Audio, International, USDA

John Deere Reveals 4 Track 9RX Tractor

Chuck Zimmerman Leave a Comment

John Deere 9RXThis morning John Deere revealed a brand new high horsepower tractor – the 9RX. Here it is on the showroom floor of the John Deere Waterloo Tractor, Cab, Assembly Operations facility where it is being built. I recorded the program this morning which features moderator Michelle Rook, WNAX.

After years of design, field trials and customer feedback, John Deere introduces its first-ever 4-track tractor, adding to its extensive line of high horsepower 9R Series wheeled and 9RT Series 2-track tractors. The four new 9RX Tractor models – which range from 470 to 620 engine horsepower – feature a large, robust undercarriage and track system engineered to provide superior power, durability, and improved ride quality, especially when handling large implements in the field.

Jerry Griffith, John Deere product marketing manager, 6-9 Family Tractors, says the new 9RX Series Tractors offer customers three distinct advantages compared to similar 4-track models. “The 9RX has a superior undercarriage with a positive-drive track system that effectively delivers power to the ground; it features the outstanding comfort of our CommandView III cab with a new cab suspension system for improved ride quality; and it is designed with integrated performance features already available on our 9 Family of tractors.”

You can listen to the program here or watch it below: John Deere 9RX Reveal Program

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Lots of photos here: John Deere 2016 Product Reveal Photo Album

Agribusiness, John Deere, Tractor, Video