Hick Chick Chat with AEM on Farm Equipment

11326519286_c9a07ae0bf_oThe important contribution of U.S. agriculture equipment manufacturing to the health of the nation’s economy is demonstrated in an economic paper recently released by the Association of Equipment Manufacturers.

charlie o'brienFor this edition of the Hick Chick Chat, I spoke with AEM senior vice president Charlie O’Brien about the analysis. “Agriculture’s achievements have resulted from scientific advances in many areas, including inputs and other efficiencies, yet the productivity explosion continues to be driven by enormous strides in the farm machinery and equipment technology now used to farm millions of acres,” he told me. “We want people to understand how important this industry as a whole is for the U.S. economy.”

Hick Chick Chat on Impact of Ag Equipment Industry to Economy

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Registration Open for Mid-Year Meeting

AgGateway_LogoRegistration is now open for AgGateway’s 2014 Mid-Year Meeting, to be held June 9-12, 2014, at Prairie Meadows in Altoona, Iowa. AgGateway’s more than 200 member companies use this working meeting to advance efforts to enable eBusiness in agriculture, resulting in improved business efficiencies and better use of ag technology. Current work spans the areas of precision ag, crop nutrition, crop protection, ag retail, seed, grain and feed, as well as supporting initiatives from allied providers to the industry.

In addition to ample networking opportunities at the Mid-Year Meeting, attendees will hear general session presentations by Kathy Mathers, vice president of public affairs for The Fertilizer Institute, on the Responsible Ag Initiative; and from Tom Sell, co-founder and managing partner of Combest, Sell & Associates, on ramifications of the new farm bill.

The registration fee for the meeting is only $75, discounted to $50 for first-time attendees. AgGateway keeps the registration fee low to facilitate participation, and so that those who are curious about eBusiness and the organization can see AgGateway in action.

“Join us at this meeting to network and to learn from others that are already seeing the immense benefits of electronic connectivity between trading partners,” said AgGateway CEO Rod Conner. “And for our members, this is a great opportunity to invite colleagues and trading partners to see what AgGateway is all about.”

AgGateway encourages attendees to register and reserve their hotel rooms early, in order to ensure a place at the meeting and at the best hotel rate. A list of hotels with negotiated rates and reservation information is available on the Mid-Year Meeting web page under “Events” at www.AgGateway.org.

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.

Cultivate & Connect with AgChat

AgChat 2014 ConferenceCalling all aspiring agvocates. The 2014 AgChat Foundation, Cultivate and Connect Conference will be held in Austin, TX, on August 21-22.

It has been said that everything is bigger in Texas. The AgChat Foundation’s 2014 Cultivate & Connect conference to be held at the Radisson Hotel & Suites in beautiful downtown Austin, Texas, August 21-22, 2014, will be no exception. For the first time, our annual conference will include an open registration process which does not require participants to complete an application and receive an invitation to attend. Additionally, there will be no limit on the number of alumni attendees nor a limit on non-farmers and non-ranchers. It will be the best and biggest AgChat conference to date.

Click here for conference information.

Canada Crop Protection eConnectivity Project

AgGateway_LogoCompanies working on AgGateway’s Crop Protection Canada Connectivity (CPCC) Project held their first working meeting in Winnipeg, Manitoba, last month, and have begun the first steps toward streamlining the crop protection supply chain in Canada, increasing efficiencies and reducing the cost of doing business among agri-businesses.

The collaborative eBusiness project expands on a proven approach already in use in the U.S. crop protection industry – thanks to previous collaborative work by AgGateway companies.

“We completed a very successful launch meeting, with 24 representatives from 11 companies,” said Greg Knox, Crop Protection Coordinator with Richardson International Limited. “As a channel partner, I’m excited to be involved to help move this industry forward electronically. I have no doubt that this will boost the efficiency and accuracy of the procurement process for trading partners in Canada.”

The companies currently involved in the CPCC Project are BASF Canada, Bayer CropScience, Crop Production Services (CPS), Dow AgroSciences Canada Inc., E.I. DuPont Canada Company, FMC of Canada, Monsanto Canada, Inc., Richardson International Limited, Syngenta Canada Inc., United Farmers of Alberta (UFA), and Univar Canada Ltd.

The team plans to have the first steps in the project completed by May. This includes reviewing the standards and determining further requirements for electronically transmitting order-to-invoice information. Starting in June, the team will focus on developing the elements needed for companies to go live with transactions with their trading partners by the end of 2015.

“This is the first AgGateway project focused entirely on Canadian businesses,” said AgGateway CEO Rod Conner. “Clearly the benefits achieved by the eConnectivity project in the U.S. for ordering, shipping, invoicing and sales reporting are evident to businesses in Canada, and they’re taking steps to get connected. We’re seeing similar interest and activity in Europe.”

Companies doing crop protection business in Canada are still welcome to join if they would like to influence and be a part of determining the requirements, and also to facilitate their ability to connect electronically with other companies in the project. For information contact the CPCC Project Coordinator, Marilyn Hunter, at marilyn.hunter@AgGateway.org.

Deere Shows off More Efficient 7 & 8 Series Tractors

classic14-deere-jarrodMore information means greater efficiency out in the field, and that’s why our friends at John Deere were glad to show off their latest line of 7 and 8 series tractors to the farmers attending Commodity Classic in San Antonio. Leah caught up with Jarrod McGinnis, Deere’s marketing manager for these machines. He told her one of the biggest features for both series is the new CommandView III Cab that features better seating, a quieter cab, and a new CommandARM and CommandCenter Display, which really turns that tractor into a mobile office.

“We’re trying to get more and more integration into that screen, so the first thing we did is make it a 10-inch screen, so you can see more at a glance,” Jarrod said, joking that it’s so easy to use a dad could do it … whether it’s him referring to his 70-year-old father or his 11-year-old daughter referring to Jarrod himself. “We want that technology to be very friendly, easy to use, [and put] a lot of technology right there at your fingertips.”

He said the 7 series of tractors just started shipping out to customers in the last couple of weeks, so they’re looking forward to hearing from those farmers when they really start going in the fields. Specifically on the 8 series, they get the new cab and bigger engines, just like the 7s, and they also have larger rear tires, new easy-changing wheel weights, and improved LED lights. Both of these new tractors are expected to help a producer’s bottom line.

“With the CommandCenters, since it’s easier to learn, they spend more time working and less time learning themselves or training another operator,” plus Jarrod said remote access allows those farmers to share information with experts who can help right there in the field.

Listen to more of Leah’s interview with Jarrod here: Jarrod McGinnis, John Deere

2014 Commodity Classic Photos

Coverage is sponsored by John Deere

Better Monitoring with New MAS System

LBMS Premium System1Monitoring liquid applicators can be a literal pain in the neck as operators have to crane around to watch gauges for no-flow and low-flow applicators. But the folks at custom liquid handling equipment maker Mid-Atlantic Services (MAS) have a new CDS-John Blue Electronic Liquid Blockage monitoring system that will allow you to keep a closer eye on those systems without even turning around.

This allows for immediate correction which saves money, before yields are diminished. A flow monitor in the cab delivers both a visual cue as well as an audible alarm. A flashing LED light points out the row where the problem exists.

MAS President Mike Boyle believes that this is a valuable device. “By identifying the problem as it happens, farmers can make the correction right away during liquid application. The CDS-John Blue monitoring system can be used with cloudy or dark liquids. This is a huge improvement that will have a significant impact for our customers when placing liquid fertilizer while planting or sidedressing.”

MAS officials say the LBMS can be shown on a standard wired display in the cab, and there’s even a free app for the iPad.

Perfect Storm Creates Propane Pain

In recent years, the U.S. propane industry has been growing by leaps and bounds, producing so much that they were even had a good export market going.

grain-bin-propaneBut a perfect storm arose this winter that has caused pain at the propane tank, with shortages and prices skyrocketing to $5 a gallon before settling back down a bit. “It pretty much began in the fall with the grain harvest that was wet and having to dry down the crops,” said Scott Long, manager of propane marketing and business development for GROWMARK, who added that the wet harvest meant nearly 5 times the amount of propane was used to dry the crop than normal.

Follow that up with one of the coldest winters on record nearly everywhere in the country and propane supplies that had been abundant enough for export were quickly downsized, putting a squeeze on livestock and poultry producers. “Particularly in the broiler and turkey sector, the majority of houses are heated by propane,” said U.S. Poultry and Egg Association president John Starkey. “The bitter cold weather we’ve had throughout the poultry belt has caused shortages … so that means it’s very difficult for some folks to find propane gas right now.” Interview with John Starkey, U.S. Poultry and Egg

There have been calls for investigations into the high prices and some states have taken emergency actions to get more propane moving to areas that need it most. The good news, according to Long, is that things should be getting better soon. “I’m hoping that we hit our peak,” he said last week. “Hopefully within the next couple of weeks we’ll see quite a bit of relief.” Interview with Scott Long, GROWMARK

Hick Chick Chat with Arystone

11326519286_c9a07ae0bf_oBack before the first of the year we ran a story about what farmers want to find under the tree.  That still extends into the new year as well. Arystone Productivity helps bring wireless technology to the farm, ranch or rural home.  

bill moffitt I had a chance to catch up with Bill Moffitt, Arystone’s leader and talk about how their products help create an office in the cab of whatever piece of equipment you happen to be working from during your day. Bill says that technology can really make the difference in the bottom line and productivity of business on the farm. The Ayrstone AyrMesh system uses a “mesh” of high-power WiFi boosters (like a WiFi repeater, but easier to set up and maintain) and “receivers” (allowing non-WiFi devices to join the network) to keep you connected all across your place. He also says that it’s very easy to install.

You can listen to the Hick Chick Chat here: Hick Chick Chat Bill Moffitt, Ayrstone

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Plenish High Oleic Soy IP Contract Program

Dupont PioneerDuPont Pioneer and Bunge North America announced they will double acreage in 2014 of Pioneer brand soybeans with the Plenish high oleic trait. For the 2014 growing season, Pioneer will again contract with soybean farmers in the Delphos, Ohio, region to grow Plenish high oleic soybeans that will be delivered to Bunge’s facility for processing or to a participating elevator. Growers will be eligible for a processor-paid incentive for producing and delivering high oleic soybeans. The 2014 contract program will support ramping up of supply to meet increasing oil demand from food companies.

The development of Plenish high oleic soybean oil is an important milestone for Pioneer in its efforts to bring product innovation to the food industry and complements solutions offered by DuPont Nutrition & Health to address the world’s challenges in food. High oleic soybean oil provides a soy-based trans fat alternative for food companies and foodservice operators. Plenish high oleic soybeans from Pioneer contain the highest oleic content (~7 percent or higher) of any soybean product under commercial development.

Plenish high oleic soybeans are approaching completion of global regulatory approvals with over 96 percent of U.S. soybean export markets now approved. For more information on Plenish high oleic soybeans visit www.plenish.com.

Former NRCS Chief on Conservation Program Future

bruce-knightA former chief of USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service says both the House and Senate farm bills are similar when it comes to reduced funding and consolidation of conservation programs. Bruce Knight, who served as NRCS chief in the Bush administration, gave a synopsis at a Farm Foundation forum on conservation last week.

“The largest difference is whether or not to link conservation compliance to the farm bill,” he said, but he notes that compliance already is linked to shallow loss and marketing loans in both bills.

Knight thinks consolidating conservation programs is a big positive and he believes linking compliance to crop insurance may also be positive in the long run. “That linkage to crop insurance is vitally important long term for being able to defend both crop insurance and farm programs and conservation benefits,” said Knight.

Listen to Knight’s comments here: Former NRCS Chief Bruce Knight at Farm Foundation Forum

New Website Soybeans.com

footer-rounduplogoThe last U.S. patent covering the original Roundup Ready soybean trait expires in 2015. As U.S. farmers begin thinking about purchasing their soybean seed for 2014 planting, they have a new resource to answer their questions about the expiration of Monsanto’s original Roundup Ready soybean trait – soybeans.com.

“Even though the original Roundup Ready soybean trait is covered by a patent in the United States until the start of the 2015 planting season, we’re already getting questions from farmers about what they can and cannot do with Roundup Ready soybeans. Soybeans.com can help answer questions growers may have about patents as they pertain to planting and saving original Roundup Ready varieties, as well as the benefits of new seed. It’s a great resource for farmers as they plan for next year,” said Monsanto’s U.S. Oilseeds Product Management Lead Norm Sissons.

The site outlines Monsanto’s commitments regarding the original Roundup Ready trait patent expiration, explains the different patents and breeders’ rights typically covering soybean seed, and includes frequently asked questions and a decision tree on saving seed.

AG Connect Expo Joins with Commodity Classic

agconnectThe Association of Equipment Manufacturers, the National Corn Growers Association and the American Soybean Association today announced a new collaborative venture that joins two leading industry trade show experiences – Commodity Classic and AG CONNECT Expo & Summit – “to provide an even better world-class experience and gathering place for all segments of agriculture.”

Commodity Classic LogoCommodity Classic is a joint venture owned by the National Corn Growers Association and the American Soybean Association, with National Association of Wheat Growers and National Sorghum Producers participating as affiliates. The Association of Equipment Manufacturers (AEM) owns and produces AG CONNECT Expo & Summit.

The inaugural event will be held March 3-5, 2016, in New Orleans. The Commodity Classic shows scheduled for 2014 and 2015 will take place as planned. The AG CONNECT experience will join Commodity Classic 2016 and the new combined show will continue to meet on an annual basis.

Read more here.

The organizations involved held a press conference to make the announcement this morning, featuring comments from:
Bill Schuermann, American Soybean Association executive director
Charlie O’Brien, senior vice president of the Association of Equipment Manufacturers
Martin Barbre, corn farmer and president of the National Corn Growers Association
Danny Murphy, soybean grower and president of the American Soybean Association
Rob Kolb, vice president global business development, GEA Farm Technologies

Classic/AG CONNECT press conference

Aussies Use Technology on Farm

wfp-tatt-andrew2Australian farmer Andrew Weidemann along with his wife and youngest son attended the Wold Food Prize with Truth About Trade and Technologies (TATT) Global Farmer Roundtable. While chatting with Andrew outside of his roundtable role, I learned more about life on his farm in Victoria.  He and his brother are in a partnership along with their families.  They are also involved with a local beer company supplying the barley for Australia’s Finest Barley.

wfp-tatt-andrew1 On the farm in Victoria, Andrew tells me that over the last decade or so they have really started to see advances in their own technologies and how the land is responding. He was one of the first to begin using technology in his production.  Andrew says that weather conditions are a huge factor in how technology has played a role in the change over to no-till practices as well as sowing seeds.  They have seen a movement to a more paperless operation, in part, thanks to the local manufacturer setting up a network for the farmers to use.  Andrew is excited to continue to implement no-till and improved seeding on his farm to grow a bountiful harvest.

You can listen to my interview with Andrew here Interview with Andrew Weidemann

2013 TATT Global Farmer Roundtable photos

DuPont Sees Big Potential in Argentina Farmers

ifaj13-dupontThe country manager for DuPont in Argentina addressed the IFAJ 2013 Congress during the last day of activities for the event and he talked about the importance of the country for his company.

“DuPont is a science company and we want to produce solutions for some of the biggest challenges in the world and one of those is feeding the world,” said Juan Vaquer, DuPont Argentina. “Argentina is a country that can produce food for ten times its population. It has 40 million people, it produces food for 400 million people. So we believe that the combination of DuPont Pioneer science and Argentina’s capabilities can be a good combination for providing a solution for the food challenge.”

Juan added that some of the challenges in doing business with Argentina, such as volatility for example, are actually advantages. “Our growers are very agile in adapting new technologies,” he said. “It’s pure Darwinism, survival of the fittest.” Interview with Juan Vaquer, DuPont Argentina

Listen to Juan’s address to IFAJ here: Juan Vaquer, DuPont Argentina, speech to IFAJ13

2013 IFAJ Congress Photo Album