An optimistic Senate Agriculture Committee Chairwoman met with farm broadcasters on Wednesday morning, the day after her committee passed a new farm bill called the Agriculture Reform, Food and Jobs Act of 2013. “This is the biggest jobs bill we will pass in any Congress,” said Sen. Debbie Stabenow (D-MI). “It’s time to get it done.”
Stabenow says the majority of the bill they passed out of committee is virtually the same as last year and she believes they addressed the concerns of southern producers. “I think we have a strong coalition and have really produced what I think my friends down the hall should just take as the commodity title,” she said.
The senator talked about the amount of savings in the bill, concerns about the nutrition title, what they did with cotton in the bill, and conservation compliance. Overall, Senator Stabenow is optimistic about getting a farm bill soon, and that combined with new immigration policy, will be a “positive one-two punch for producers.”
Senate Ag Committee Chair Debbie Stabenow
House Ag Committee Chairman Frank Lucas (R-OK) met with the farm broadcasters just shortly before his committee began markup of their bill and said he was “as wound up as an 8 day clock” and expected it to be a long day but maybe not quite as long as last year’s 15 hour session. “But I would note that we had approximately 100 amendments a year ago, as of this morning we have approximately 100 amendments this time,” he said.
Lucas says the bill will go to the House floor this year “a dramatic improvement over a year ago” but he does expect it to be “a struggle we’re prepared to engage in and we’re prepared to move forward on.”
Chairman Lucas said it’s important to look long term in the farm bill. “Farm bills are not necessarily about this year or next year or year three,” he said. “Farm bills are about making provisions for year four or year five, when the wheels come off.”
House Ag Committee Chairman Frank Lucas
2013 NAFB Washington Watch Photo Album
Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack supports provisions in the farm bill passed by the Senate Agriculture Committee that ties conservation compliance to crop insurance.
“It’s a deal that’s made between taxpayers, farmers and insurance companies,” said Vilsack. “In many cases, we’re paying as taxpayers 50-55-60-63% of the premium. In the past, we also provided a direct payment and as part of the direct payment deal we said in exchange for this check, we’re going to expect something in return and that is conservation compliance.”
Since it is obvious direct payments are going to be eliminated, Vilsack says it makes sense to tie crop insurance premium subsides to conservation compliance. “If you’re going to get the benefit of a premium subsidy that’s pretty significant, we’d ask you to put together a plan and be compliant with that plan.”
Vilsack spoke to members of the National Association of Farm Broadcasting Tuesday and hit on a variety of issues related to the farm bill.
Listen to Vilsack’s comments here: Secretary of Agriculture Vilsack Mtg. with NAFB
2013 NAFB Washington Watch Photo Album
Our latest ZimmPoll asked the question, “Are so-called “ag gag” bills fair?”
Our poll results: Fifty-two percent said No, forty-one percent said Yes and seven percent said I Don’t Know. So most of you feel that ag gag bills are not fair. Do you think answers would be different if we called them “See Something, Say Something” laws?
Our new ZimmPoll is now live and asks the question, “What’s your opinion of committee farm bills?” The Senate Agriculture Committee voted 15-5 to approve their version of a 2013 farm bill. And according to House Ag Committee Chairman, Frank D. Lucas, “The work of the Agriculture Committee, including reauthorizing the Farm Bill, affects every American; ensuring that our farmers and ranchers have the tools they need to produce an abundant and affordable food and fiber supply is as important to our country as national defense.” Let us know what you think.
ZimmPoll is sponsored by .
The Senate Agriculture Committee voted 15-5 today to approve their version of a 2013 farm bill.
“The Agriculture Reform, Food and Jobs Act includes an even stronger commitment to conservation, one borne out of the efforts by environmental and agricultural groups who sat down together to find a way to protect our soil and water resources necessary to keep agriculture strong in America for generations to come,” said Committee Chairwoman Debbie Stabenow (D-Mich).
The bill includes an agreement between agriculture and conservation organizations to ensure that basic soil and wetland protection requirements were extended to apply to crop insurance premium subsidies. “We’ve come up with what we think is a very workable alternative which would not limit eligibility and which would have crop insurance tied to making sure you weren’t breaking up highly erodible land or plowing up wetlands. But if you did have an accident and something happened, maybe you drained a ditch a little bit deeper than you should have, you would have two years to mitigate that problem,” said Mary Kay Thatcher with the American Farm Bureau Federation of the framework agreed to last week by 32 groups.
Several conservation-related amendments were approved for the bill in committee, including one by Senator Thune (R-SD) to ensure tracking of conversion of native prairies to crop production and another by Sen. Heitkamp (D-NV) to allow the Natural Resources Conservation Service to have more say over how to allocate technical assistance programs among programs.
The bill is expected to move to the Senate floor next week.
We first told you about Monsanto’s FieldScripts last fall at Farm Progress Show. Now we will be hearing much more from farmers using it on a trial basis in the field.
This planting season, more than 150 farmers in Illinois, Indiana, Iowa and Minnesota are trialing the first offering from Monsanto’s Integrated Farming SystemsSM (IFS) research platform – FieldScriptsSM. With FieldScripts planted on more than 8,300 acres in Illinois, Ground Breakers® farmers there are impressed with how FieldScripts revolutionizes variable rate planting.
FieldScripts integrates Monsanto’s understanding of hybrid performance with the data farmers provide about their individual fields to identify the best hybrids and provide a variable rate planting prescription for each field. The process is led by FieldScripts Certified Dealers, delivered through the FieldView® Plus app on the farmer’s iPad®, and executed with precision equipment on the planter.
Ground Breakers farmer Mark Sturtevant in Carroll County, Ill. has planted several fields with FieldScripts and is excited about bringing together Monsanto’s knowledge of hybrid performance in multiple yield environments with the latest planter technologies, “If we can harness this technology, we’ll be able to increase our yield and profit potential. We’re working to put the right seed, at the right amount, on every acre. FieldScripts is a step in the right direction for the industry.”
While many farmers own variable rate planters, there has not been a simple and accurate way to utilize them. Traditionally, variable rate seeding has been based on soil type or normalized yield, but these methods fall short of revealing the true picture of what is happening in the field or providing a means to plant accurately using that information.
FieldScripts allows the farmer to accurately plant a lower seeding rate in lower-yielding areas of the field, and a higher seeding rate at higher yielding areas of the field, maximizing the yield potential of every seed. Monsanto research has shown that FieldScripts delivers a 5-10 bushel per acre yield advantage across the field as a whole, as compared with fields not planted with FieldScripts. In 2014, Monsanto plans to launch FieldScripts that will be delivered to farmers through FieldScripts Certified DEKALB® seed dealers.
Read more from Monsanto.
As both the House and Senate Agriculture committees are marking up their versions of a farm bill this week, that was the number one issue for farm broadcasters meeting in the nation’s capitol for their annual Washington Watch.
Mary Kay Thatcher with the American Farm Bureau Federation sees few major differences between the two committee drafts released last week. “If you look at all the titles, except commodities and nutrition, they’re fairly similar – there isn’t really a nickel’s worth of difference in conservation, research, rural development or specialty crops,” she said. Even the commodity titles she thinks are more similar this year than last, but there are differences in nutrition. “I still think the food stamp program is going to be the big ticket that’s going to hold us up in getting this thing done.”
Listen to Chuck’s interview with Mary Kay here: Interview with Mary Kay Thatcher, AFBF
Jon Doggett with the National Corn Growers Association says their top priority with the farm bill is risk management and crop insurance, which is why they joined with a number of other agriculture and environmental groups last week in hammering out a compromise to support tying conservation compliance and crop insurance but oppose means testing or payment limitations. “We worked out some common sense language that makes this a very workable program for growers that offers them plenty of opportunity that if they inadvertently get out of compliance they can quickly get back in,” he said. “In return, we have an assurance from the conservation community that they will be with us to protect the funding for crop insurance.”
Listen to Chuck’s interview with Jon here: Interview with Jon Doggett, NCGA
The Senate farm bill mark up is scheduled for Tuesday and the House on Wednesday.
Link to Senate farm bill page.
Link to House farm bill draft.
2013 NAFB Washington Watch Photo Album
Find more NAFB Washington Watch interviews on AgNewsWire.com
Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack reminded farmers and ranchers that the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) will conduct a four-week Conservation Reserve Program (CRP) general sign-up beginning May 20 and ending on June 14. Vilsack also announced the restart of sign-up for continuous CRP, including the Conservation Reserve Enhancement Program, State Acres for Wildlife Enhancement Initiative, the Highly Erodible Land Initiative, the Grassland Restoration Initiative, the Pollinator Habitat Initiative and other related initiatives. Sign-up for continuous CRP began on May 13 and will continue through Sept. 30, 2013.
Vilsack encouraged producers to look into CRP’s other enrollment opportunities offered on a continuous, non-competitive, sign-up basis.
FarmLogs, the leading agricultural tech startup that helps farmers plan, manage and analyze their farm’s operations, announced the launch of its all-new mobile apps for Android and iOS devices. The apps make it incredibly easy to keep track of everything that happens in the field in real time. The FarmLogs apps are now available for free download in iTunes and in the Google Play store.
The FarmLogs mobile applications allow farmers to log records as they work in the field, in the shop, or anywhere else. Field activities such as planting, fertilizing, and harvesting can be quickly logged and tracked right from the GPS-enabled mobile apps. Multiple team members can track activities and make updates in real time. Additional app features will be rolled out later this year.
Even as the Syngenta-owned Garst and Golden Harvest® brands are being launched under the revised Golden Harvest brand, Syngenta intends to uphold the quality, reliability and legacy that have become synonymous with the Garst brand and the Garst Seed Advisor.
“Roswell Garst’s commitment to customers – to be a trusted advisor in addition to a seed dealer – is the very essence of what the Syngenta Seed Advisor network embodies,” said Lori Thomas, customer marketing manager for the dealer channel commercial unit for Syngenta in North America. “Even though the Garst name won’t have the same market presence, the integrity, tradition and history of the company will continue to live on.” Thomas and her husband, Mike, were Garst Seed Advisors for 10 years.
Founded as Garst & Thomas Hi-Bred Corn Company in 1930, the Garst brand has a rich history of bringing many innovative corn solutions to market, from developing herbicide-tolerant hybrids, including the first IMI-corn, to offering European Corn Borer (Bt) control and herbicide tolerance together in one corn hybrid, to transcending borders and taking the new technology to farmers in other countries, including the former Soviet Union.
Since Syngenta acquired the Garst brand in 2004, the company has focused on building a diverse genetic portfolio, using the genetics from the Garst, Golden Harvest and NK® brand breeding programs and incorporating the market-leading line-up of Agrisure® traits. Earlier this year, Syngenta announced the decision to rebrand the existing Garst and Golden Harvest corn seed brands and launch a unified Golden Harvest brand stemmed from ongoing efforts to strengthen and grow the network of Syngenta Seed Advisors.
A new logo and numbering system for Golden Harvest hybrids will be in place for summer 2013 trials and the 2014 planting season. “The new logo brings elements from the Garst legacy as well as the Golden Harvest legacy,” Lori says, stressing that growers who have counted on Garst seed to maximize their yields will still have access to the same high-quality genetics under the Golden Harvest name through their Syngenta Seed Advisor.
Listen to or download my interview with Lori here: Interview with Lori Thomas
Northern Plains Nitrogen (NPN) officials have announced to build and operate a $1.5 billion nitrogen fertilizer production facility near Grand Forks, N.D. The world-scale production facility will include a 2,200 ton per day ammonia plant plus urea and Urea-Ammonium-Nitrate (UAN) production facilities.
North Dakota Governor Jack Dalrymple said, “This is an exciting opportunity for Grand Forks, the State of North Dakota, and the Northern Plains. This plant will utilize the increasing supplies of natural gas across the region and will provide a reliable regional supply of fertilizer while reducing producers’ dependence on imported products.”
The facility will be located on land adjacent to the Grand Forks Wastewater Treatment Plant. Larry Mackie, NPN Chief Operations Officer, says it’s a perfect location, and called the flat ground where the plant will be built, “a site that is as good as it gets for our purposes.” There are currently discussions underway for NPN to utilize the wastewater effluent from the Grand Forks wastewater treatment process for the plant’s water supply. NPN CEO, Don Pottinger notes, “this green-field world-scale production facility will be among the safest, most efficient and environmentally compliant ever constructed. By using modern technology which, among other benefits, reduces our carbon footprint, the NPN facility is taking shape to be a very exciting and worthwhile undertaking.”
Northern Plains Nitrogen was created by farmers in the Northern Plains as a result of research conducted by North Dakota State University. The research was funded by the Corn Growers Organizations of North Dakota, South Dakota and Minnesota, and the Manitoba Canola and North Dakota Soybean Councils. The North Dakota Department of Commerce is working closely with the company to identify state programs that can be utilized for the plant’s construction.
There are a growing number of training sessions being put online for Ag Leader Technology dealers according to John Mueggenberg, Ag Leader Academy. But it’s hard to beat the hands-on experience of classes at company headquarters in Ames, IA.
John talked with me about the classes planned for this year which cover the full variety of equipment and software offerings from Ag Leader. These classes allow dealer attendees to get out in the field with planters, sprayers and combines. The next round of classes will be this summer.
You can listen to my interview with John here: Interview with John Mueggenberg
Become a fan of Ag Leader on Facebook today, and get the latest precision ag videos on the YouTube channel. For more information about Ag Leader products and services, or to visit the blog site, go to www.agleader.com.
Unmanned aerial systems and remote sensing company Winehawk Labs announced they will release a new model of their successful UAV platform in May of 2013 to coincide with company re-branding. The change in company name, from WineHawk Labs to Precision Hawk, reflects a change in focus from specifically viticulture to broader agriculture where there is a great need for precise data collection and cost-effective platforms for farmers and surveyors.
The new UAV model, the HawkEye Lancaster Mark III, has a fully integrated sensor suite that provides more flexibility in data collection than the previous model. The small and lightweight fixed-wing platform, weighing only three pounds and measuring three feet nose to tail, is completely autonomous, running on the ‘fly and forget’ method. The user-friendly platform allows users to walk out of their back door, toss the platform, wait for it to come back and instantly have the data transfer to a preferred software location. The hyper-intelligent sensors allow for the collection of data on anything from plant research to crop production and protection and account for the current weather conditions to ensure reliable and complete data.
The National Cotton Council coordinated Beltwide Cotton Conferences has a new format that no longer includes the production conference component but continues the forum’s technical conferences and adds emphasis to the consultant’s conference.
The 2014 Beltwide Cotton Conferences, set for January 6-8 at the New Orleans Marriott Hotel, will include a half-day Cotton Consultants Conference and the day and a half Cotton Technical Conferences. The 2014 Consultants Conference, set for Monday, January 6, will be more robust, providing technical information desired by consultants and others involved in key production/marketing-related decisions such as Extension specialists/agents, industry sales/support personnel and many producers.
Planned for the 2014 Consultants Conference are new developments from industry, including discussions of new varieties and chemistries. Also included will be special sessions where scientists, from the various disciplines ranging from agronomy to weed science, will interact with attendees to foster a lively exchange of ideas and experiences.
Our latest ZimmPoll asked the question, “How many generations are you removed from the farm?”
Our poll results: Thirty percent say they are “One Generation, My Parents are Farmers,” 23% are Two, My Grandparents Were Farmers, 22% say None, I’m a Farmer, nine percent are not farmers but work in the ag industry, seven percent have No Direct Farm Connection, and three percent say Three, My Great-Grandparents Were Farmers, More Than Three, or Other. It is safe to say that most of our followers are not far removed from the farm, if at all!
Our new ZimmPoll is now live and asks the question, “Are so-called “ag gag” bills fair?” In the wake of undercover videos at animal agriculture operations that have shown abuse, and especially those that were compiled over a period of time, edited and then released to the public without doing anything to stop the abuse or take it to the proper authorities, several states have passed legislation making that illegal. Most of the laws simply require mandatory reporting of animal cruelty when it happens but opponents have labeled them “ag gag” laws that would suppress efforts to document and publicize animal abuse. Those in favor prefer to call them “See Something, Say Something” bills. Do you feel that the so-called “ag gag” bills are prohibitive? Will these laws hamper efforts to stop animal cruelty? Does this impede our efforts for transparency in the food systems? Let us know.
ZimmPoll is sponsored by .
We are so pleased with the response to our new agri-blogging internship program. It was tough to choose just one for the summer semester, but we finally decided on Maggie Seiler – a sophomore at Kansas State University dual majoring in agricultural communications and journalism and animal sciences and industry.
Maggie grew up on a dairy operation outside of Wichita and has worked for the Kansas Dairy Association and the Kansas Center for Sustainable Agriculture and Alternative Crops, as well as serving as an Agricultural Ambassador and an officer for the Agricultural Communicators of Tomorrow. She is very interested in the agriculture use of social media.
“Blogging and the use of social media platforms is becoming an increasingly important part of journalism and the agricultural industry,” Maggie said in her application. “I really appreciate the ability of online platforms and blogs to provide the vital information from agriculture industry meeting to members of the community that cannot physically travel to events. ZimmComm is a company that stays on the cutting-edge of industry developments sharing them with producers. I would really like to be a part of this movement and especially focus on increasing my knowledge of using online platforms to reach out to agriculturists.”
We are not wasting any time getting Maggie on the agri-blogging highway. She will be joining Chuck next week for the 2013 Alltech Symposium in Lexington, Kentucky and you can expect to meet her at other events this summer.