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

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

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

2014 Bayer Sustainability Award

bayer-aif14-awardBayer CropScience has honored Bryan Boll of Minnesota as the 2014 Bayer Young Farmer Sustainability Award winner.

“Sustainability means so many different things to people,” said Boll, adding that he looked it up in the dictionary and found that “It basically means to continue on forever without interruption.” That’s what he works toward on his 5,000 acre diversified farming operation. “That includes profitability, environmental sensitivity, community involvement, community awareness … there’s a lot of things that go into sustainability.” Interview with Bryan Boll, Bayer 2014 sustainability award winner

Bryan is the fourth recipient of this award. Pictured with him here are 2013 winner Jeremy Jack of Mississippi on the left, and the CEO and president of Bayer CropScience LP, Jim Blome.

Jack, who also participated on a panel during the Bayer CropScience Ag Issues Forum on how today’s farmer CEO are re-shaping modern agriculture, says he believes “sustainability has got to be the action plan” for every farmer in the future. Interview with Jeremy Jack, Bayer 2013 sustainability award winner

2014 Bayer CropScience Ag Issues Forum Photos

Precision Pays Podcast: A new driver for demand

pp-podcastFor the first time in history – income will have a greater influence on food security than population.  During the Taming Agricultural Risks meeting at the Chicago Federal Reserve, Purdue Extension agricultural economist Dr. Mike Boehlje said growth in terms of incomes is critical to the long-term growth of agriculture.

In this Precision Pays Podcast, sponsored by Ag Leader Technology, we’ll take a look at why income growth is important to agriculture, and ultimately the technology that’s used to make farmer produce more efficiently.

Precision Pays Podcast

The Precision Pays Podcast is sponsored by Ag Leader Technology.

Precision Adds Profitability to Peanut Farming

The theme of the 2013 Southern Peanut Growers Conference was “Making Sustainability Work” and one important aspect of sustainability is profitability. To that end, one of the greatest advancements in farming sustainability and profitability over the past decade or so has come from the use of precision technology.

spgc13-agleader“One of the biggest things we can offer them is guidance,” said Ag Leader Technology southeast territory representative Kyle Snodgrass. “They are able to actually figure out where the peanuts are going in the ground and where they’re going to be when it’s time to harvest.”

Kyle says that improved cell phone coverage has helped improve signal capability for guidance systems and there are lots of new precision products, such as Advanced Seed Monitoring and variable rate applicators, that more peanut growers are starting to use. “They look at their bottom line after the first year and they’re absolutely shocked and amazed and they say why did a I wait so long?”

Listen to my interview with Kyle here: Ag Leader Rep Kyle Snodgrass

2013 SPGC Photo Album

Ag Resource Management Survey for Peanuts

The last time peanuts were the subject of a USDA Agricultural Resource Management Survey (ARMS) was 2004 but soon those outdated figures for peanut farmers financial and crop production practices will be updated, according to USDA officials who attended the 2013 Southern Peanut Growers Conference this past week in Panama City Beach, Florida.

spgc13-usda“This is a crucial time for us to get the information from the peanut industry because there’s been a lot of changes since 2004,” said Shiela Corley, Manager of the Environmental & Economic Surveys Section for USDA’s National Agricultural Statistics Service (NASS). “We have three different phases. We just finished up the first phase and the second phase will be looking at chemicals, fertilizer use, production practices, pest management practices. Then we’ll come back in winter/early spring 2014 and ask about economic issues.” The ultimate goal is to get a total economic picture of the industry. Interview with Shiela Corley, USDA-NASS

USDA’s Economic Research Service (ERS) is also involved in this survey and Dr. William McBride is leader of the Commodity Cost and Return Estimation Project. “We do estimates for 12 different commodities on a rotating basis and we’re doing peanuts this year,” he said.

Dr. McBride says the data collected in this survey is important for growers because it is used in policy decision making processes at both state and federal levels. “Cost of production is a piece of information that really helps,” he said. “This information goes a long way in informing policy makers…so all commodities can be compared on an even basis.”

He stresses that all personal information collected from farmers is completely confidential and is only reported and made public in aggregate form and he urges all growers who are contacted to respond as quickly as possible so they can meet their goal of 100% participation. Interview with William McBride, USDA-ERS

2013 SPGC Photo Album

USDA Renews Dairy MOU for Sustainability

Agriculture Secretary Vilsack today renewed a historic agreement with U.S. dairy producers to accelerate the adoption of innovative waste-to-energy projects and energy efficiency improvements on U.S. dairy farms, both of which help producers diversify revenues and reduce utility expenses on their operations. The pact extends a Memorandum of Understanding signed in Copenhagen, Denmark, in 2009.

usda-logo“Through this renewed commitment, USDA and the Innovation Center for U.S. Dairy will continue research that helps dairy farmers improve the sustainability of their operations,” Vilsack said. “This vital research also will support the dairy industry as it works to reach its long-term goal of reducing greenhouse gas emissions by 25 percent by 2020.”

The Secretary was joined on a conference call to make the announcement by The Innovation Center for U.S. Dairy CEO Tom Gallagher and Doug Young, a farmer from NY who has benefited from this MOU.

USDA support for agricultural and waste-to-energy research has played a key role in the agreement’s success to date. Since signing the MOU, USDA has made nearly 180 awards that helped finance the development, construction, and biogas production of anaerobic digester systems with Rural Development programs, such as the Rural Energy for America Program (REAP), Bioenergy Program for Advanced Biofuels, Business and Industry Guaranteed Loan Program, Value Added Producer Grants, amongst others. These systems capture methane and produce renewable energy for on-farm use and sale onto the electric grid. Additionally, during this period, USDA awarded approximately 140 REAP loans and grants to help dairy farmers develop other types of renewable energy and energy efficiency systems at their operations.

Also, USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) has provided $257 million in funding since 2009 that has helped more than 6,000 dairy farmers plan and implement conservation practices to improve sustainability. NRCS support for the dairy industry has resulted in 354 on-farm and in-plant energy audits as well as 18 conservation innovation grants for dairy-related projects during the past three years.

Listen to the call here: USDA/Dairy MOU press call

Commodity Group Presidents Talk Sustainability

Commodity Classic PresidentsA highlight of the general session of Commodity Classic is moderator Mark Mayfield’s “visit with the Presidents.” Left to right are Mayfield, Terry Swanson, National Sorghum Producers; Erik Younggren, National Association of Wheat Growers; Pam Johnson, National Corn Growers Association and Danny Murphy, American Soybean Association.

Mayfield kicked off the session by asking each of the presidents what “sustainability” means to them.

Listen to Danny Murphy’s comments here: ASA Danny Murphy

Listen to Pam Johnson’s comments here: NCGA Pam Johnson

Listen to Erik Younggren’s comments here: NAWG Eric Younggren

Listen to Terry Swanson’s comments here: NSP Terry Swanson

2013 Commodity Classic Photo Album

Sustainability Subject of Next Farm Foundation Forum

farmfoundationlogo3How the world’s farmers meet the demands of a growing population in a sustainable way is the subject of the next Farm Foundation Forum on Wednesday, March 6, at the National Press Club in Washington, D.C. The forum will also be broadcast on the web for free.

Attendees will discuss a new report from Solutions From the Land (SFL), a national dialogue of landowners and conservationists focused on the sustainable policies and practices:

The report is the result of a three-year conversation among thought leaders in agriculture, forestry and conservation to identify the land challenges faced today and in the years ahead, and propose pathways to address those challenges. The pathways proposed are not intended to be prescriptive, but rather to serve as the basis for robust, solutions-oriented conversations among the diverse range of stakeholders with interests in land use issues. This includes foresters, farmers, ranchers, conservationists, community leaders, recreation enthusiasts, the wildlife community, policy makers and agribusiness leaders.

Former Texas Congressman Charlie Stenholm will moderate the discussion on the report.

More information on attending in person or watching the webinar is available on the Farm Foundation website. Register by noon Monday, March 4.

Bayer CropScience Young Farmer Sustainability Award

Bayer CropScience has launched its third annual Young Farmer Sustainability Award, which recognizes growers 40 years or under who demonstrate sustainability on his or her farm. The 2013 award will be selected by a group of industry experts and Bayer leaders, and will be awarded in February at the 2013 Ag Issues Forum held in conjunction with Commodity Classic in Orlando, Fla.

The first award winner in 2011 was Ryan Kirby of Belcher, La., and last year John Shepard of Blackstone, Va. received the award.

Growers who are excelling in the areas of economic, environmental and innovative practices on the farm are encouraged to apply for the award. First Place wins a new Toughbook computer and all-expense paid trips to the 2013 Commodity Classic in Orlando, Fla., and a scholarship to Farm Journal Corn College. The application deadline is January 24, 2013.

Click here for more information.

Meet Dan Hughes – Precision Pays Profile

It is time for another Precision Pays Profile. Again, NAFB Trade Talk made it possible for me to meet Dan Hughes, a farmer from western Nebraska.

Dan operates an 11,000 acre farm with 20% irrigated and 80% in dry land. He manages a diverse selection in the field including: hard red winter wheat, hard white winter wheat, corn, soybeans, dry edible beans, sunflowers and millet. Dan and his family jumped in to the world of precision agriculture about 10 years ago, with their first investment being in a no-till drill. He shared how nice it was to end a day in the field without being completely worn out. I heard that commonality from many farmers I interviewed.

“It is a very exciting time, the technology that has come to agriculture in the last 10 years is just phenomenal. That’s part of the reason my kids have come back to the farm. They just recently graduated college and they are excited. For me that is a wonderful thing to see. Agriculture is being penalized for GMO crops. It is not fair for agriculture to be penalized for taking advantage of technology. The whole world has embraced cell phones and that type of technology, but why would you deny agriculture that same opportunity.”

Off the farm Dan is still involved in the agriculture industry and especially the U.S. wheat industry. He serves as Vice Chairman for U.S. Wheat Associates, an organization that assists buyers, influences trade policy and gives a voice to producers.

Listen to my interview with Dan here: Dan Hughes - Nebraska Crop Farmer

2012 NAFB Convention Photo Album

Generational Differences Among Farmers

New research shows how the management style of younger dairy producers and corn growers compares and contrasts with that of their older counterparts. The survey, commissioned by McCormick Company, considered management practices, ownership structures, decision-making processes, business and transition planning, and the role of information — including digital media — in running respondents’ operations.

What the study found was that younger managers embrace the same values and reasons for farming, but they often consider new ways to get information and manage their operations.

An independent research firm interviewed more than 600 corn farmers and dairy producers, half of which were younger than 45 years of age. The vast majority of their farms were owned by two or more family generations; but one in four of the younger dairy producers were first-generation owners.

The survey also showed that industry trends and issues transcend age differences. For corn growers of all ages, interest in the environment and sustainability is what affects their management most. Dairy producers are influenced most by interest in animal welfare and the environment.

Precision Farming Increases Sustainability

bayer ag issues forum 2012A grower sustainability panel took place during the recent Bayer CropScience 2012 Ag Issues Forum with the theme of “Hands in the Dirt: First-Hand Grower Experiences.”

Panel member Nancy Kavazanjian, a farmer from Wisconsin who grows corn, soybeans and wheat, talked about what the word “sustainability” meant to her. “When a farmer hears the word sustainable they kind of cringe,” she says. “It concerns them that they’re being forced to do something that they’re not already doing.” But she adds that most farmers are being sustainable since they are multi-generations on the farm and they have to be sustainable for that to happen. To become more sustainable Nancy says they use cover crops and precision ag to make sure they can strip-till and they definitely use new technology and that includes seed technology to get the best yields. The use of these technologies reduces the amount of inputs they have to use.

You can listen to an interview with Nancy from the Ag Issues Forum here: Interview with Nancy Kavazanjian

2012 Bayer CropScience Ag Issues Forum Photo Album

Will Precision Technologies Lead To Eco-Foods

It’s one thing for growers or livestock producers and processors to work together, or vertically integrate. But what can happen when the World Wildlife Fund, Wal-Mart, Coca-Cola, McDonalds, Cargill, Intervet/Schering-Plough and beef producer groups get together? A recent story in the Sydney Morning Herald (Australia) discusses the issue and the possible eco-food results.

It is a subtle, yet vital, shift in the way food producers, manufacturers, retailers and groups outside the traditional food fence, such as WWF, are addressing a new paradigm in feeding the world’s rapidly increasing population: how food is produced, not just how much.

In practice the two issues are inseparable. The difference is that while feeding a projected 9 billion people by 2050 from less farmland has long concerned governments, and global aid and food bodies, doing so in a way that satisfies escalating environmental and animal welfare scrutiny, state and national regulations and changing consumer attitudes is considerably more complex.

Behind the farm gate it means that practices in the largest and most advanced agricultural nations, including Australia, will be in the spotlight as the new food production ground rules take shape.

Enter WWF as the unexpected and uninvited powerbroker in this high-stakes scenario. The world’s largest independent conservation organisation is targeting 100 key companies that globally trade commodities including beef, sugar, cotton, palm oil, soybeans and coffee to participate in ”round table” forums about how extra food can be produced with fewer, but more precise, inputs.

WWF’s Australian program leader for water, Nick Heath, says three times more food and fibre will be needed in the next 40 years than is produced now. ”The answer lies in precision agriculture – more crop per drop.”

And Rob Cairns, the organisation’s Australian program manager for sustainable agriculture, who has a background in the cotton and sugar industries, assures the food chain that WWF is ”just one player” in the quest for a lower food environmental footprint, ”not the policeman”.

”It’s about sustaining food production without impacting on eco-systems,” he says. ”At the moment, it’s confusing for consumers. By default, organics have been seen as the answer. But organics can’t clothe and feed the world, so we have to work with those who can make a difference. And it has to involve a number of commodities.”

Beef is at the top of that list.

In this regard, the Australian cattle industry may be ahead of the game. Meat & Livestock Australia is developing a voluntary environmental module that will enable beef producers to demonstrate the ”environmental responsible nature” of their production systems.

But it remains unclear whether farmers’ ability to merely demonstrate environmental responsibility, rather than prove it, will be enough.

To this end, a group of cattle producers in Gippsland, Victoria, is marketing beef sourced from properties with independently audited environmental management systems that comply with the international ISO 14001 standard. Their ”enviromeat beef”, sourced from 15 suppliers, is thought to be the first labelled food product backed by an environmental management system in Australia.

Read on to learn more…