Congresswoman Visits Bayer Bee Center

bayer-bee-ellmersEven though she had to miss the grand opening ceremony due to a conflict, Rep. Renee Ellmers (R-NC) made it a point to make it out to see the new Bayer CropScience North American Bee Care Center in Research Triangle Park.

“The research and development that they are doing here is going to help us grow more food into the future,” she said in an interview. “It is vital to the North Carolina economy but also to the world.”

Ellmers added that bees are an important part of the discussion about genetically modified crops. “It’s a discussion that’s being had on the national level,” said Ellmers. She is pictured here at the Bee Care Center with Bayer’s Robyn Kneen who was instrumental in the development of the center.

I also asked the Congresswoman about the new farm bill and why she is a strong supporter of immigration reform for farmers in her state. Interview with Rep. Renee Ellmers

Bayer CropScience Bee Care Center Grand Opening Photo Album

Bayer Bee Care Center Opens in NC

bayer-bee-14-ribbonBayer CropScience Tuesday celebrated its more than 25 year commitment to pollinator health with the grand opening of the North American Bee Care Center in Research Triangle Park, North Carolina.

Jim Blome, president and CEO of Bayer CropScience LP, pictured here cutting the ribbon to officially open the new facility, is thrilled to see this dream fulfilled. “This is an absolutely great day,” he said proudly. “We’ve been dedicated to bee health, it’s an important part of who we are, and we’re very serious about finding the science behind what the interactive functions are here so we can come up with some solutions.”

The $2.4 million center brings together significant technological, scientific and academic resources, with goals of promoting improved honey bee health, product stewardship and sustainable agriculture. A 6,000-square-foot, state-of-the-art facility, the Center will complement the Eastern Bee Care Technology Station in Clayton, N.C., and a Bee Care Center at the joint global headquarters campus of Bayer CropScience and Bayer Animal Health in Monheim, Germany.

Listen to my interview with Jim here: Interview with Jim Blome, Bayer CropScience

Bayer CropScience Bee Care Center Grand Opening Photo Album

Census of Agriculture Report Coming Soon

nama14-nassThe U.S. Department of Agriculture’s National Agricultural Statistics Service (NASS) announced it will publish the 2012 Census of Agriculture full report on May 2. The announcement was made last week as NASS Census and Survey Division Director Renee Picanso was attending the National Agri-Marketing Association conference in Jacksonville, Florida.

“Agribusinesses are highly represented here and they are definitely big users of the data,” she said during an interview. The complete data series will be available in multiple formats, including Quick Stats 2.0 – an online database to retrieve customized tables with Census data at the national, state and county levels.

Picanso says the census data is being released a little later than normal this time around. “Usually we release in early February, but with the government shut down last fall, we got a little bit behind,” she said. Interview with Renee Picanso, USDA-NASS

GROWMARK on Board with ResponsibleAg

responsibleagThe Agricultural Retailers Association (ARA) and The Fertilizer Institute (TFI) recently announced the selection of individuals to serve on the newly formed ResponsibleAg Board of Directors.

The nine representatives include:
– Alicia Duke, Director, Health and Safety, Simplot
– Justin Gough, Director, Agricultural Products, LSB/El Dorado Chemical Company
– Dave Ito, Manager, Human Resources & Regulatory Affairs, Lyman/Tremont Group
– Pete Mutschler, Environmental and Safety Director, CHS Inc.
– Tim McArdle, Executive Vice President & COO, Brandt Consolidated, Inc.
– Rosemary O’Brien, Vice President, Public Affairs, CF Industries, Inc.
– Billy Pirkle, Sr. Director, Environmental, Health & Safety, Crop Production Services
– Scott Rawlins, Director, Regulatory & Governmental Affairs, Wilbur-Ellis Company
– Rod Wells, Manager, Plant Food Division, GROWMARK, Inc.

Wells says it’s important for GROWMARK to be involved in this non-profit organization designed to work with retailers ensuring best practices are in place providing a safe product to the consumer.

“This is an industry led initiative,” said Rod. “We want to demonstrate that we are doing the right things, that we are operating safety, we’re complying with regulations, that we are accountable. We feel like ResponsibleAg is a very transparent way to show that we are committed, compliant, and safe operators in the communities that we serve.”

You can listen to an interview with Rod here: Interview with Rod Wells, GROWMARK

The board of directors for ResponsibleAg will meet next month to finalize bi-laws, an operating budget, elect officers and begin looking for a business manager to oversee the day to day operations of the new organization.

ResponsibleAg is an independent, not-for-profit organization designed to support fertilizer retailers’ compliance with federal safety and security regulations. Under ResponsibleAg, retail fertilizer dealerships will have access to comprehensive inspections based on federal regulatory requirements. The inspections will be carried out by trained auditors who will have successfully completed an intensive training course based on the objectives of ResponsibleAg.

Economic Impact of Ag Equipment Industry

aem_logo2The Association of Equipment Manufacturers has just released a new in-depth analysis of of the impact of the agricultural equipment industry on the American economy.

The white paper quantifies the many economic impacts of the manufacturing, distribution, and use of agriculture equipment and machinery from 2011 and figured the total economic footprint of the agricultural industry – including upstream and downstream industries – at $51 billion.

“The purpose of this white paper is to provide a better look at the agriculture equipment industry’s effect on U.S. workers and our economy as a whole, with an eye toward better arming our policy makers in Washington with the information they need to make sound policy decisions that impact this critical sector,” said AEM President Dennis Slater. “This kind of information is vital to accurately assessing the potential long-term consequences of decisions being weighed as we are debating issues such as the renewable fuels standard and international trade agreements that directly impact the future of American agriculture.”

Among the Top Ten Takeaways of the paper:

In 2011, 78,200 people were directly employed in U.S. farm equipment manufacturing, while another 52,300 were indirectly employed in other manufacturing activities to support materials and parts used by the industry.

Overall, the agricultural equipment cluster employed almost 377,000 workers in 2011, representing a footprint of more than half of the total population of Washington, D.C.

View the Top Ten Takeaways and the full Report here.

BASF Offers Advice for Early Weed Control

Experts agree the best way to improve yields, control weeds and fight resistance is early season weed control.

bryan-young“Effective weed management today means starting the growing season with a clean weed-free seedbed,” said Bryan Young, Ph.D., Associate Professor of weed science, Purdue University. “That typically means tillage in corn and in some cases a spring burndown in soybeans. Then make sure that the field stays clean from that point forward throughout the season. Residual herbicides are critically important in helping us reduce weed competition to optimize crop yields and to improve control of our most problematic weeds.”

Dr. Young offered his weed control advice during a Commodity Classic seminar sponsored by BASF Crop Protection entitled “Clean Fields, High Yields: The Keys to Solving Your Weed Problems in 2014.” He notes that early season weed control is not only an effective strategy for combating weeds at their easiest stages, but it can also help in the fight against weed resistance.

“When you have weeds resistant to glyphosate and are utilizing different herbicide chemistries, a two-inch weed might be the maximum height you can control with the herbicide,” explained Young. “We’ve seen resistance happen before and it’s too risky to allow these weeds to emerge and depend solely on the timing of a post-emergence herbicide. For some weeds, we don’t have effective post-emergence herbicide options, it’s all about never letting these weeds get a start.”

BASFBASF Technical Market Manager Mark Oostlander recommends using a preplant or preemergence herbicide with residual control to get the season off to a clean start.

“Early in the season, weeds aren’t taking as many important resources such as water, sun and nutrients from your crops as they will later in the season,” said Oostlander. “Controlling weeds in the beginning is the most efficient and cost-effective step you can take in weed control.”

For the latest Advanced Weed Control tips based on geography, weed pressure and crop, visit

Farmland Film Screened in DC

FarmlandThe latest screening of the feature length film documentary Farmland was a star-studded event this week in Washington D.C. While the movie has been previewed at several events this year, including the Commodity Classic, this one not only helped celebrate National Agriculture Day, it also marked the official announcement of its upcoming theatrical release.

On the red carpet here at the Ronald Reagan Amphitheater are Randy Krotz, CEO of the US Farmers and Ranchers Alliance (USFRA), one of the film’s major supporters; director James Moll, Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack and American Farm Bureau Federation president Bob Stallman, chairman of the USFRA.

farmlandThe movie provides an up close and personal look into the lives of six very different types of young farmers who talk about the challenges of becoming farm owners/managers. The story is told completely by the farmers and the imagery of them at work with no narration. “I don’t use a narrator,” said director Moll. “I’m delving into a world that I know nothing about … they can tell the story better than I can.”

Farmland has a deal with D&E Entertainment for the film to first be distributed to 60 major market theaters beginning May 1. “I hope that people watch it, relate to it, come away from it wanting to learn more about farming and ranching, and feeling like they actually had an opportunity to meet and get to know some of them,” said Moll.

Between now and May 1, Farmland will be competing in several film festivals during the month of April. After the theatrical release, Moll says they plan on the film being released on DVD and through the usual channels for home viewing. Interview with James Moll

Great American Wheat Harvest Premier

Great American Wheat HarvestThe National Premier Screening of The Great American Wheat Harvest movie took place on National Ag Day in Washington DC this week.

On hand were the stars of the documentary – five custom harvesting operations from around the wheat belt – Jim Deibert; Jim & Tracy Zeorian; Dan, Kristy, & Emma Misener; Lee Petersen; and Eric Wolgemuth.

Listen to an interview with these folks and what went into making this amazing documentary that will be available for national distribution soon:Interview with Custom Harvesters

2014 Ag Day Photo Album

Coverage of National Ag Day is sponsored by BCS Communications

Ag Day Celebration in DC Features Policy

The National Agriculture Day celebration in Washington DC has events spread across three days – and really it should be more because it is officially National Agriculture Week.

ag-day-14-sara-harden1Official events to celebrate agriculture kicked off Monday with the Farm to Fork politics session sponsored by Agri-Pulse. With a live audience of nearly 400, USDA Deputy Secretary of Agriculture Krysta Harden sat down with Sara Wyant to discuss what they have been doing to implement the new farm bill. “Congress did give us a long time to plan, I’ll have to say that,” said Harden, who said the process really started when she took over the office last August, and continued as they waited and waited for Congress to finally get the bill passed.

Harden discussed the conservation title of the bill, which she says she is especially excited about. “Our goal is to really make sure that producers know all the opportunities they have as soon as possible,” she said. “I think farmers and ranchers will see it’s a good title with a lot of opportunities there.”

Listen to the conversation here: Deputy Agriculture Secretary Krysta Harden and Sara Wyant of Agri-Pulse

Agri-Pulse Ag Day Photo Album

Coverage of National Ag Day is sponsored by BCS Communications

Corn Growers Recognize Good Steward

Pictured here is Iowa Agriculture Secretary Bill Northey and Jay Lynch from Humboldt, IA accepting the award for Tim Smith who was unable to attend. Tarron Hecox represents award sponsor, the Howard G. Buffett Foundation, and on the far left is NCGA president Martin Barbre

Pictured here is Iowa Agriculture Secretary Bill Northey and Jay Lynch from Humboldt, IA accepting the award for Tim Smith who was unable to attend. Tarron Hecox represents award sponsor, the Howard G. Buffett Foundation, and on the far left is NCGA president Martin Barbre

The National Corn Growers Association recognized good stewardship during the recent 2014 Commodity Classic.

Tim Smith from Eagle Grove, Iowa was honored as the inaugural honoree in NCGA’s Good Steward Recognition Program. The program and award funding was provided by the Howard G. Buffett Foundation as part of their Harvesting the Potential campaign to raise awareness among U.S. farmers of the importance of conservation agriculture.

Smith grows 820 acres of corn and soybeans in Wright County, located in north central Iowa. Within the past few years, he has adopted strip tillage, nutrient management, cover crops and a bio-reactor on his farm. In addition to developing an NRCS Nutrient Management Plan, Smith participated in a nutrient strip trial to get a better understanding of the impact of reduced nitrogen application on corn yield. He also monitors the water quality benefits of his bio-reactor along with monitoring his tile water to get a better understanding of how his implemented best management practices are impacting water quality. And Smith has conducted soil quality sampling to gather baseline data regarding soil health – to assist with identifying changes/improvements over time as a result of adoption of conservation practices such as strip tillage and cover crops.

2014 Commodity Classic Photos

Coverage is sponsored by John Deere

Bayer Buzzing About Bees

bayer-laurieOne of the most important topics discussed at the recent Bayer CropScience Ag Issues Forum was the buzz about bee health and what is being done to address declining bee colonies. One of the panelists was Laurie Adams, executive director of the Pollinator Partnership. Laurie stressed that collaboration between all parties is needed to protect all pollinators, including bees. Listen to my interview with Laurie here: Interview with Laurie Adams, Pollinator Partnership

bayer-parkerAlso on the panel was Don Parker who deals with integrated pest management for the National Cotton Council. He discussed the importance of farmers working closely with beekeepers who use their land for hives. Parker believes that the varroa mite is the biggest threat to bee colonies right now and he stressed the need for science to lead the discussion when it comes to pollinator health, not politics or personal opinion. Interview with Don Parker, National Cotton Council

Dr. Troy Anderson, Virginia Tech entomologist, was also on the panel. All three panelists agreed that stressers on honey bee population trace back to a variety of sources that include parasites, bacterial diseases, poor nutrition, genetics and pesticides.

You can listen to the entire discussion here. Bayer Ag Issues Pollinator Update Panel

In an effort to further education and collaboration around pollinator health, Bayer CropScience is holding its second annual Bee Care Tour this year, traveling coast-to-coast to create awareness of the vital role of honey bees in sustainable agriculture by establishing a dialogue with growers, beekeepers, researchers and students to discuss the multiple factors affecting honey bee health. They will also be opening a new North American Bee Care Center next month at Bayer’s Research Triangle Park, N.C. headquarters.

bayer-issues-button2014 Bayer CropScience Ag Issues Forum Photos

BASF Helps Fight Resistant Tumbleweeds

Some folks may think of tumbleweeds as just ghostly balls of fluff that float innocently across the prairie like overgrown dust bunnies. In reality, they are rolling bombs of resistant weeds that can scatter their seeds for miles.

12807927604_8316ec035c_qBob Leisy is a business representative with BASF based in Colorado who talked about the effort to control resistant tumbleweeds at the recent BASF “Science Behind the Advanced Acre” media event before Commodity Classic.

“A lot of our kochia turns to tumbleweeds,” he said. “In the fall, once the plant dies off, the wind breaks it off and then that plant distributes seed as it rolls across the field.” Those tumbleweeds can spread about 100,000 seeds of glyphosate-resistant kochia as they roll, so Bob says they are working with growers to spray for kochia earlier than ever before to try and control it. “We’re looking at using 12-16 ounces of Clarity, a dicamba product from BASF, to put some residual in the ground that will kill the kochia as it begins to sprout.”

Listen to an interview with Bob here: Interview with Bob Leisy, BASF Business Representative

BASF at the 2014 Commodity Classic Photos

Bayer CropScience CEO on What the World Needs

Once upon a time, all the world needed was love, sweet love – but life is a little more complicated these days.

bayer-aif14-blomeThe theme of the ninth annual Bayer CropScience Ag Issues forum was “What the World Needs” and topics included water security, communications, innovation, pollinators and sustainable farmers. At the end of the two-day event, Bayer CropScience president and CEO Jim Blome said the bottom line is that everyone has a role in feeding a growing world population.

Blome was particularly pleased to present the fourth Bayer CropScience Young Farmer Sustainability Award to Bryan Boll of Minnesota. “We thought we needed to elevate young farmers, the people who are doing things right and have a great story to tell,” said Blome. “These guys are running big businesses with an eye on the future and they’re not afraid of technology. We want to identify them, elevate them and then celebrate them.”

One of the most important segments of the forum focused on bees, which Bayer CropScience believes are critical to agriculture and the world. “Pollinator and bee health are really important to us,” said Blome, who explained that they take the fluctuations in pollinator populations so seriously they have dedicated significant resources to an overall Bee Care Program. That includes a new North American Bee Care Center to advance honey bee research, education and collaboration, which is scheduled to open next month.

“We all eat and one out of every three bites of food that we take comes from a bee,” said Blome. Interview with Bayer CropScience CEO Jim Blome

bayer-issues-button2014 Bayer CropScience Ag Issues Forum Photos

Meet Hortau Precision Irrigation

classic14-hortauHortau Simplified Irrigation was one of the more than 300 companies exhibiting at the recent record-setting Commodity Classic, and one of quite a few first timers.

They stood out from the crowd for us at Classic when @Hortau sent a tweet to @Agriblogger asking him to come by and do an interview. Dropping by the booth at the end of the first day of the show, I met and interviewed CEO Jocelyn Boudreau and Regional Sales Manager Doug Larson.

Jocelyn told me the company was started in 2002, “with the idea of optimizing water usage on farm, taking a plant-centric approach to use water to grow a healthier crop, boost yields and give water the same level of attention and precision as we do with fertilizers and plant genetics.”

Doug says they were very pleased with their first year at Classic. “This is really our audience,” he said. “We work the high plains region of the country, so most of our growers are corn or soybean growers.”

Find out more about Hortau here: Interview with Jocelyn Boudreau and Doug Larson, Hortau Irrigation

2014 Commodity Classic Photos

Coverage is sponsored by John Deere

Seed Treatment Stewardship Promoted at Classic

ASTA Seed Treatment GuideWe first heard about “The Guide to Seed Treatment Stewardship” last year at Commodity Classic.

The second phase roll out of the guide – produced by the American Seed Trade Association (ASTA) in collaboration with organizations like the National Corn Growers Association, American Soybean Association and American Farm Bureau – began this year and we heard more about it from ASTA VP for Government and Regulatory Affairs Jane DeMarchi.

classic14-asta-jane“The Guide to Seed Treatment Stewardship was created to touch all aspects of seed applied technology,” said Jane. “Our goal is to emphasize stewardship practices across crops and treatment segments and to minimize the risk of seed dust exposure to pollinators.”

Jane says they have developed videos about seed treatment stewardship and began taking them on the road this year to state and national corn, soybean and farm bureau meetings, and she says awareness of pollinator issues is growing among farmers across the country.

Learn more here: Press conference with Jane DeMarchi, ASTA

2014 Commodity Classic Photos

Coverage is sponsored by John Deere