Childress: Ethanol a Winner for Racers & Farmers

childress-testThe Senate Agriculture Committee held a hearing this week on advanced biofuels. One of the witnesses at the hearing was NASCAR team owner Richard Childress who talked about the many benefits of corn-based biofuels, such as the higher fuel performance he has seen in more than five million miles of racing since the E15 ethanol blend was introduced in the 2011 racing season.

“When they decided to go with an ethanol-blend of fuel, in 2010, NASCAR started looking at what was the correct blend to use. After many tests, they came up with E15,” Childress said, pointing out that his own racing team tested up to E30 blends, which he believes would be even better. “Nothing but positive results came out of our tests. Engines ran cooler, ethanol makes more octane so it makes more horsepower, less carbon buildup, better emissions, and our parts when we tore the engines down looked much better.”

Childress, who has also been in the farming business for 30 years, says he knows what it’s like for farmers.

“Ethanol is definitely a great plus for our farmers in America today.”

Listen to all of Childress’ remarks here: NASCAR team owner Richard Childress testifying before Senate Agriculture Committee

Senate Ag Committee Chair Debbie Stabenow of Michigan says advanced biofuels are here now, and they are an important part of the energy title in the recently passed farm bill.

“The Energy Title funds critical programs that helps our farmers produce energy from non-food sources and helps companies get low-interest loans for those facilities, and of course, all that creates jobs,” Stabenow said, adding that to continue to grow the industry, there needs to be policies that support it. She said passing the Farm Bill was a strong first step toward to that goal. “Now we need to provide certainty through a strong Renewable Fuels Standard and tax credits to support long-term investments in our energy future.”

Hear more of what Stabenow had to say here: Sen. Debbie Stabenow (D-MI), Chair of Senate Agriculture Committee

NCGA Supports Federal GMO Labeling Legislation

ncgaThe National Corn Growers Association announced its support for legislation introduced at a press conference today that would establish a federal standard for the safety and labeling of food and beverage products made with genetically modified ingredients.

“The Safe and Accurate Food Labeling Act provides certainty for both consumers and farmers alike by creating a unified, science-based approach to labeling and eliminating potential risks and costs posed by an expensive patchwork of labeling laws,” said NCGA President Martin Barbre, a farmer from Carmi, Ill. “NCGA’s more than 40,000 members work tirelessly to provide America’s families with a wide variety of nutritious, quality food choices that are both safe and affordable. A federal GMO labeling solution will allow consumers to feel confident in the safety of American food by affirming the FDA’s sole authority in food safety and labeling decisions. We applaud Reps. Mike Pompeo (R- Kan.) and G.K. Butterfield (D- N.C.) as well as Marsha Blackburn (R-Tenn.), Jim Matheson (D-Utah) and Ed Whitfield (R-Ky.) who introduced this legislation, for their work on behalf of families and farmers.”

The legislation introduced will protect consumers and ensure the safety of food ingredients using solid, science-based information by providing a consistent, informative GMO labeling solution that eliminates confusion and advances food safety.

In setting out a federal labeling system, it reaffirms the FDA as the nation’s authority for the use and labeling of GMO food ingredients while providing consumers greater confidence by establishing a required FDA safety review process for all new GMO traits. Notably, the FDA would have the authority to mandate the labeling of any GMO food ingredients it determines would create a health, safety or nutrition issue.

The legislation would also empower the FDA to provide greater consistency in the market by defining the term “natural” for its use on food and beverage products. The clear definition of this commonly used term would offer consumers clarity about products allowing them to base choices on information verified instead of marketing claims.

“America’s corn farmers want the same things as families across the country. We want to keep families safe and protect our nation’s food supply,” said Barbre. “That is why we believe it is imperative important decisions about our safety and how we label what we eat should remain in the hands of experts, the scientists at the FDA. NCGA supports the Congressmen’s effort to ensure America’s food supply remains safe and America’s consumers have access to clear, consistent information based in reputable science.”

For more information about GMOs and the need for a federal labeling standard, visit www.CFSAF.org.

Iowa Corn Promotion Board Receives U.S. Patent

IowaCornPromotionBoard_CMYK_4F1DB6BE3EF0DThe Iowa Corn Promotion Board is the recipient of a newly issued patent from the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office. This is the first U.S. patent that the Board has received for its work in nitrogen use efficiency in corn and related to transgenic plants that have increased nitrogen use efficiency, and/or increased yield using a patented gene. Specifically, patent 8,692,070, Plants with Improved Nitrogen Utilization and Stress Tolerance demonstrates Iowa Corn’s commitment to improving farmer productivity even to the gene level.

“The Iowa Corn Promotion Board collaborated with Strathkirn Inc. and Athenix Corp. to develop improved corn plants that are more efficient in using nitrogen fertilizer,” said Larry Klever, a farmer from Audubon and chair of the Iowa Corn Research and Business Development Committee. “This new trait could result in improved economics on the farm, reduced impact on the environment and reduced energy requirements to grow a corn crop.”

The objectives of the research are either to increase yield without increasing the amount of nitrogen fertilizer or obtain the same yield with less fertilizer. Data indicates this patented gene assimilates more nitrogen and increases kernel number, which could translate to greater yields for Iowa farmers.

By patenting this technology, the Iowa Corn Promotion Board is able to provide protection for partners who would like to license this technology. “The goal is to get this trait licensed and commercialized by seed companies for commercialization so that farmers, like me, can benefit,” said Klever.

The Plants with Improved Nitrogen Utilization and Stress Tolerance patent number is 8,692,070 and was issued on April 8, 2014. A patent for this technology has also been awarded to the Iowa Corn Promotion Board by South Africa. Patents for this gene in other countries are still pending approval of the respective patent offices.

Corn Growers, NASCAR Aim to Make April Greener

nascarracetogreen1Corn growers across the country are either busy planting or getting ready to plant. A little different initiative also shows their environmental concern. This month, the National Corn Growers Association (NCGA) is joining NASCAR for the second year of the NASCAR Race to Green Campaign.

The goal of NASCAR Race to Green is to highlight the accomplishments of NASCAR Green™ programs like the move three years ago to Sunoco Green E15, a fuel blended with 15 percent American Ethanol, and its massive tree planting initiative to help reduce the sport’s carbon footprint.

“American Ethanol is a key part of NASCAR’s efforts to reduce the sport’s carbon footprint,” said Jon Holzfaster, a Paxton, Neb., farmer and chairman of NCGA’s NASCAR Advisory Committee. “These high-performance cars have put more than five million tough competition miles on E15 in the last three years, reducing greenhouse gas emissions by 20 percent. Combine this with the massive tree planting effort underway, and the results are phenomenal.”

American Ethanol, which is supported by corn checkoff investments and ethanol plant members of Growth Energy, has committed to plant 50 trees for every American Ethanol Green Flag waved during NASCAR’s national series races in the month of April.

The NASCAR Race to Green program runs through April 25. More information is available at http://green.nascar.com/.

NCGA Joins REAP Initiative as Founding Partner

ncgaAt the request of the U.S. Department of Agriculture and the USDA’s Agricultural Research Service (USDA ARS), the ATIP Foundation (Agricultural Technology Innovation Partnership) has established a public-private partnership to enhance research on sustainable soil health for multiple land uses in agriculture. The National Corn Growers Association (NCGA) has joined USDA and ATIP along with four other founding partners of the Resilient Economic Agricultural Practices (REAP) public-private partnership to support and strengthen soil health research that addresses the needs of U.S. farmers.

“We live in a nation that can easily satisfy all of its food needs thanks to the extraordinary productivity of our farmers and their careful management of our soil resources,” said USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack. “Through this public-private partnership, led by the ATIP Foundation, the agriculture sector has created a model of leveraging public and private resources to address sustainability and economic prosperity by enhancing research on land management practices.”

“NCGA and the other six founding participants of REAP that comprise the Technical Review Council, met recently with ARS scientists to broaden outreach to private, non-governmental and agriculture sectors that would benefit from ARS research,” said Don Glenn, Chair of NCGA’s Production and Stewardship Action Team Chair. “We feel that REAP research will not only identify important soil management practices, but will also contribute to the field work of the Soil Health Partnership launched earlier this year by NCGA with support from Monsanto and the Walton Family Foundation.”

The REAP initiative consists of nine multi-state USDA ARS locations and their university partners who will pair regionally significant soil data sets with local practices. The focus of this research will be to identify the production and sustainable advantages of different soil management strategies.

Monsanto Research Program Announces Grants

MonsantoMonsanto Company has announced that six new recipients will be awarded research grants as part of the Corn Rootworm Knowledge Research Program. The program, which started in early 2013 and recently was extended to 2016, provides merit-based awards of up to $250,000 per award per year for up to three years for outstanding research projects that address specific aspects of corn rootworm biology, genomics and management issues.

“The program is extremely beneficial to the research and academic community as its goal is not to examine product-specific issues, but rather look at the broader challenges farmers face when dealing with corn rootworm,” said Dr. Spencer, entomologist with the Illinois Natural History Survey, who received one of this year’s grants. “I’m honored to receive this grant, which will help further my research into the behavioral, physiological and ecological factors that contribute to the western corn rootworm’s adaptations to a variety of pest management strategies.”

The CRW Knowledge Research Program is guided by a 10-person Advisory Committee that is co-chaired by Dr. Steve Pueppke, Associate Vice President for Research and Graduate Studies and AgBioResearch Director at Michigan State University, and Dr. Dusty Post, Monsanto’s global insect management lead. Additional committee members include experts from academia and agricultural organizations, and were selected based on their expertise in corn rootworm biology and insect management practices.

“The valuable research that is being generated through this program is continuing to improve our understanding of this challenging pest and provide economical, practical and sustainable solutions for farmers,” said Post.

The six awards granted focus on a number of items from evaluating how best to manage corn rootworm under current production practices to evaluating strategies to delay the onset of resistance evolution. The award recipients are:

Joseph Spencer, University of Illinois
Nicholas Miller, University of Nebraska-Lincoln
Paul Mitchell, University of Wisconsin
Blair Siegfried, University of Nebraska-Lincoln
Douglas Golick, University of Nebraska-Lincoln
Mike Caprio, Mississippi State University
Christian Krupke, Purdue University

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

Classic Records Smashed

classic14-openWith more than 7,300 total attendees, the 2014 Commodity Classic convention and trade show in San Antonio shattered all previous records.

“We knew it was the biggest event ever, but the numbers really surprised us as we saw them rolling in over the course of the event,” said Commodity Classic Co-Chair Rob Elliott.

And the record numbers are impressive:
Total attendees – 7,325 – up 18% from 2013
Total growers – 3,874 – up 16.5%
First time attendees – 1,261
Trade show companies – 301

Next year will be the 20th annual Classic and it will take place in in Phoenix, Ariz., the city where it all started. Then in 2016, Commodity Classic welcomes a new affiliate, the Association of Equipment Manufacturers (AEM) for a bigger and better show in New Orleans, including the addition of several components and a number of exhibitors from AEM’s 2013 AG CONNECT Expo & Summit.

2014 Commodity Classic Photos

Coverage is sponsored by John Deere

Hick Chick Chat with Bill and Tim Couser

11326519286_c9a07ae0bf_oDuring Commodity Classic in San Antonio last week, I ran into my new friends Bill and Tim Couser. I met them last October during World Food Prize and Truth about Trade and Technology (TATT) Farmer Roundtable when we toured their operation near Nevada, Iowa. Last week they were sitting on a panel discussing soil health, partnership with the National Corn Growers Association, Monsanto and the Nature Conservancy. I had a chance to chat with the Cousers and discuss what types of plans they are making for their farm and the profitability of such an alliance.

soil-healthThe ultimate goal of the Soil Health Partnership (SHP) is to measure and communicate the economic and environmental benefits of different soil management strategies; and provide a set of regionally specific, data-driven recommendations that farmers can use to improve the productivity and sustainability of their farms. Over the next five years, SHP will work to aggregate regional data to catalyze a platform for knowledge-sharing from farmer to farmer to create a set of best practices to improve soil health.

You can listen to the Hick Chick Chat here: Hick Chick Chat with Bill and Tim Couser
You can listen to the full Soil Health Partnership press conference here: Soil Health Partnership Press Conference

2014 Commodity Classic Photos

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FMC Tackles Weeds in the South

farm-gin-14-rusty-mitchellFMC representatives were eager to visit with attendees of the recent Mid-South Farm & Gin Show in Memphis, TN. Chuck spoke with Rusty Mitchell during the event about some of their products corn and soybean growers across the South can and should take advantage of.

“We’ve got a couple of new products that we have available for both corn and soybean. Of course we have our Authority brand, our pre-herbicide. We have a couple new Authority products that we introduced last summer. One was Authority Elite. It has done really well this past year. We also are introducing this year, Authority Maxx, which has mulitple modes of action all pointed towards control on Palmer Amaranth.”

Rusty also talks about their product Anthem that was originally slated for corn, but recently has been approved for use on soybeans. They both have a very flexible application window and it controls a broad spectrum of broadleaves.

On the topic of Anthem, FMC is investing in farming’s future by hosting their 3rd Annual Stand & Be Heard Anthem Singing Contest. It is officially underway and youth can submit their entires here.

“Always remember regardless of what crop you are producing from the standpoint of weed control is to start clean, utilize a good burn down program, utilize a residual pre and then come back in with a follow up application of some kind of overlapping residual.”

You can listen to my interview with Rusty here: Interview with Rusty Mitchell

2014 Mid-South Farm & Gin Show Photo Album

Coverage is sponsored by FMC

Partnerships Big for NCGA at Commodity Classic

ncga1Members of the National Corn Growers Association are at Commodity Classic in full force this year, as part the more than 7,000+ corn, wheat, soybean and sorghum growers who have come to San Antonio. President of NCGA, Martin Barbre, a farmer from Illinois, outlined some of his group’s priorities in this coming year, including their work with a couple of partnerships, the Coalition for Safe Affordable Food and the Soil Health Partnership.

“The goal of the [Coalition for Safe Affordable Food] is to seek a federal solution that would establish standards for the safety and labeling of food and beverage and products made with biotech ingredients,” pointing out that GMO issues have been hot in the last few years, and a hodge podge of state regulations would only cloud the issue for producers and consumers. “If we get a myriad, a patchwork of state laws, how would I as a corn grower in Illinois if I’m shipping corn out to Indiana or down the Mississippi certify [my crop].”

The Soil Health Partnership has the support of Monsanto and the Walton Family Foundation and relies on a science advisory council made up of government and university experts as well as environmental groups. “These are just examples of many of the coalitions we’ve been able to work on.”

Another big topic for the corn growers is the Renewable Fuels Standard (RFS), particularly what the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is proposing to reduce the amount of corn-based ethanol to be mixed into the Nation’s fuel supply. Barbre said he’s proud of the outpouring of support his NCGA members have given in the form of thousands of calls and letters to the EPA and White House to reverse what they see as bad proposal.

“We’ve done our part so far. It’s an uphill battle, but we’ll keep our pressure on the Administration,” he said.

The new Farm Bill was welcomed by the NCGA, with Barbre calling it a law that makes sense, focusing help for growers when they need it, helping conservation efforts, saving taxpayers’ dollars and feeding the hungry.

Listen to more of Barbre’s remarks here: NCGA Press Conference with Martin Barbre

2014 Commodity Classic Photos

Coverage is sponsored by John Deere

2014 Commodity Classic is Underway

classic14-regAnother record-setting Commodity Classic is underway in San Antonio where corn, soybeans, sorghum, and wheat growers are gathering from around the country.

“At last count, we had over 6500 people and typically we pick up another 500 or so once we get here, so 7000 people is within reach,” said Classic Co-Chair Rob Elliott, an Illinois farmer on the board of the National Corn Growers Association. The trade show will be the biggest ever, but perhaps most significant, there are about 1100 first time attendees and the mood is very upbeat. “We’ve got a lot of young people attending who haven’t been to Classic before.”

classic14-elliottThe event officially kicks off with the opening reception tonight but there were lots of meetings going on with all the four organizations involved in the Classic. Rob was heading into the NCGA issues briefing when we caught up and he says one of the biggest policy concerns facing them now that the farm bill is done is protecting the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS). “Maybe we’ll have some impact on where EPA takes this thing yet,” said Elliott.

Listen to my interview with Rob here: Interview with Rob Elliott, Classic Co-Chair

2014 Commodity Classic Photos

Coverage is sponsored by John Deere

DuPont Pioneer Expands Corn Hybrid Choices

Dupont PioneerDuPont Pioneer is advancing 111 new Pioneer® brand corn products, featuring 32 new genetic platforms, to better meet growers’ needs now and in the future.

The new group of products includes 20 new Pioneer® brand Optimum® AQUAmax® products, developed to yield in water-limited environments and now available in an expanded range of maturity zones. The Pioneer brand Optimum® AcreMax® Xtra and Optimum® AcreMax® XTreme products featuring proven and trusted above and below ground insect control traits will include 33 new products for growers to choose from in 2014.

“The DuPont Pioneer management concept of ‘right product right acre’ describes how we develop, test and position products with local information from IMPACT™ (Intensively Managed Product Advancement Characterization and Training) trials,” says Bob Heimbaugh, DuPont Pioneer North American director of corn product evaluation. “Product performance is only meaningful at a local level. And to meet that goal, Pioneer leverages global resources to develop local solutions.”

In addition to the integrated refuge products available in the Optimum AcreMax product portfolio, Pioneer advanced three new brown midrib (BMR) silage hybrids and a new technology segment featuring a powerful pyramid of insect protection traits called Optimum® Leptra™ hybrids.

Through the industry-leading Pioneer silage genetics research program, three new BMR silage hybrids are being introduced to growers with a maturity range from 102 to 111 CRM and are unlike any other BMR hybrids available today. The BMR gene contributes increased fiber digestibility, while the base genetics provide superior yield, starch and agronomics that growers have come to expect from a Pioneer brand silage hybrid. Growers will also benefit from the Herculex® XTRA insect protection for above- and below-ground corn rootworm protection on continuous corn acres used for silage production.

Pioneer is introducing four new Optimum Leptra products for the 2014 planting season. These products provide three traits to deliver multiple modes of action and superior protection from a broad spectrum of above-ground corn pests. The Optimum Leptra product pyramid of protection combines the proven Herculex® I, YieldGard® Corn Borer and Agrisure Viptera® traits with locally developed and tested Pioneer corn genetics. These products are targeted for southern U.S. growing environments that can require control of infestations of corn ear worm and fall armyworm with a maturity range from 113 to 117 CRM.

Optimum AQUAmax corn products, planted on 7 million acres in 2013, continued to perform rain or shine. Based on consistent performance in over 42,000 on farm comparisons in the last three years, demand for Optimum AQUAmax hybrids in 2014 is expected to exceed 10 million acres. With the addition of this new class, the Optimum AcreMax family of products with integrated refuge is estimated to comprise about two-thirds of corn unit sales in 2014.

“Pioneer brand corn products released since 2012 make up more than 80% of our unit volume,” Heimbaugh says. “Pioneer continues to have the broadest corn product lineup in the industry, which shows our commitment to grower choice in both technology and genetics.”

DuPont Pioneer is the world’s leading developer and supplier of advanced plant genetics, providing high-quality seeds to farmers in more than 90 countries. Pioneer provides agronomic support and services to help increase farmer productivity and profitability and strives to develop sustainable agricultural systems for people everywhere. Science with Service Delivering Success®.

Vilsack to Address Commodity Classic

vilsackccThe growers of the Nation’s biggest crops will once again host the U.S. Secretary of Agriculture for their biggest meeting of the year. For the fifth time in a row, Tom Vilsack will deliver the keynote address to Commodity Classic, the annual convention and trade show for corn, soybean, wheat and sorghum growers. This news releases says Vilsack speaks to an expected crowd of more than 6,000 during the event’s General Session on Friday, Feb. 28, in San Antonio, Texas.

“We are honored to welcome Secretary Vilsack-someone who has been a strong advocate and voice for agriculture-to a conference that is both focused on and led by farmers,” said American Soybean Association President Ray Gaesser. “As we face many challenges in this industry throughout this next year- trade agreements and access, conservation and water quality, moving the RFS forward and access to innovative technology-we are excited to hear the secretary speak on these issues and other important topics that impact farmers who grow the nation’s food.”

“Secretary Vilsack has done a lot to support our growers, and to encourage all farmers to speak out and represent their industry at a time when the general public is more removed than ever from the farms that feed them,” said National Corn Growers Association President Martin Barbre. “We’re looking forward to his visit to Commodity Classic so he can speak with our growers and learn more about our great efforts to rebuild consumer trust in what we do.”

The 19th annual Commodity Classic is Feb. 27-March 1, 2014, along the banks of the famous River Walk at the Henry B. Gonzalez Convention Center in San Antonio, Tex. Your ZimmComm New Media team will be there, including myself, bringing you the latest from this annual meeting of the National Corn Growers Association, American Soybean Association, National Association of Wheat Growers and National Sorghum Producers, America’s largest farmer-led, farmer-focused convention and trade show.

Check out the 2014 Commodity Classic website www.commodityclassic.com for additional information.

Partnership to Enhance Soil Health

ncgaThe National Corn Growers Association (NCGA), with support from the Walton Family Foundation and Monsanto, is highlighting the importance of soil health for farmers and the environment with a new Science Advisory Council and formation of the Soil Health Partnership.

“The health of a farm depends on the health of its soil, and that’s what makes this new program an important one for our organization,” said NCGA President Martin Barbre, a corn grower from Illinois. “We developed the Soil Health Partnership with our partners to help our growers be the best farmers they can be, and ensure that their farmland remains valuable and productive for future generations.”

The mission of the Soil Health Partnership is to catalyze enhanced agricultural sustainability and productivity by demonstrating and communicating the economic and environmental benefits of improved soil health. The initial objectives of the program include building a network of demonstration research farms in key corn states; developing recommendations to farmers on a variety of soil management practices aimed at improving productivity, profitability and environmental outcomes; increasing adoption of those recommendations beyond the network of demonstration farms; and increasing the visibility and importance of sound soil management.

Find out more here.