World Water Day Spotlights Ag’s Water Challenges

Mar 22, 2017 6

World Water Day

Water is the single most important factor to growing food for the world.  Only 0.7 percent of the world’s water is available for agriculture use.  With the global population expected to reach 9 billion by 2050, farmers must feed more people using the same amount of resources. March 22, 2017 was designated World Water Day, an effort to make people aware that water is the key limiting factor in agriculture. Teddy Bekele is Vice President of I.T. with WinField United.

“Seventy percent of all fresh water is used for agricultural purposes,” he said. “So one of the things we want to make sure of whether folks live in the country farming or live in the city just going about their day to day life, that you’re aware of water issues and water consumption and you also make sure as a result of having that awareness that you’re conscious of how you use water.”

The challenge ahead for agriculture as the world population grows is to produce more food while using the same amount of resources including water. “You have to essentially maximize your crop for every drop,” said Bekele, “and so the idea is that by using technology and sound agronomic insights, you’re making better use of this limited resource you have available to you.”

Bekele says a first step for farmers in making better use of water is to be better grounded in the agronomy of growing crops. “Really understand not only the impact of water but also the impact of the other nutrients that go along with it such as nitrogen, potassium and sulfur.”  Bekele added, “As you understand the agronomics, now one of the things you can do is start using some of the technology that can help you make better decisions like remote sensing.”  Remote sensing can involve satellite imagery or drone imagery or aerial imagery so you can see what areas of fields are stressed so you can focus your attention there.  Then you might use a crop model to be able to predict what might be happening on the field and where that stress might have a larger impact.  As a result of knowing that, now you know which areas to take care of and if you do have an irrigated field, where do you turn the irrigator on to make sure you get the most out of that for your investment.”

WinField United has teamed with National Geographic to form the Uncharted Waters Initiative.

“National Geographic has been on this awareness campaign to really talk about water and to maximize the use of water all around and then when water is limited, what impacts does that have on the world.” said Bekele. “We see that same impact in farming so at Winfield United we’ve partnered up with them so that we can make sure we tell that same story but with a lens on agriculture.  We want to make sure you maximize your water use, whether you irrigate your fields or rely on Mother Nature to deliver that for you.”

National Geographic is helping WinField United bring this important message to consumers through the Uncharted Waters™ website www.nationalgeographic.com/unchartedwaters.

State Director Touts Economic Growth of Agriculture

Mar 22, 2017 8

Indianas great ag story

At Indiana Ag Day festivities this week, the director of the State Department of Agriculture Ted McKinney touted the state’s growth in the agriculture sector. He had plenty of good news to share too, and it was just a snapshot of the economic development area alone.

“We’re just seeing such growth in the diversity of all of Indiana ag,” he told HAT. “I site the announcement of a new turkey hatchery over in Vigo County near Terre Haute which feeds into, among other companies, Farbest, which is expanding. And that all led a year and a half ago to the opening the big Boar’s Head processing plant near New Castle. So hear in one industry alone we have a hatchery, we’ve added a processing plant, and it just adds value and it adds jobs.”

McKinney added two construction companies have decided in just the last two years that they would locate in Indiana. Construction will start soon near Shelbyville on the Krone North America plant, and Haldrup near Fort Wayne is known around the world for their seed plot planters and harvesters. And there’s more.

“There’s the incredible growth in the barns for chickens and poultry, and dairy. We talk about dairy expanding, three processors in the last 2+ years that have added, and I think we’ve got a couple more, so this run of expansions, re-locations is just a sight to behold.”

What is attracting agribusiness to Indiana? McKinney says just look at the welcome signs when you drive into the state.

“Our Crossroads of America plays much bigger than most people realize,” he explained. “The business climate compared to many of our neighbors is just beyond reproach. The records we’re setting on ratings is unbelievable.”

McKinney says when you put all those things together in a mixing bowl Indiana can serve up a pretty good product now.

Purdue Ranked Eighth-Best Agriculture School in the World

Mar 22, 2017 6

Purdue University ranked eighth out of 300 universities worldwide in agriculture and forestry in 2017, according to a study by the British educational research organization QS Intelligence Unit.
Each year, the organization ranks the best universities in the areas of arts and humanities, engineering and technology, life sciences and medicine, natural sciences, and social sciences and management. Purdue has placed in the top 10 among agricultural programs in the life sciences division every year since the project began in 2010. Wageningen University of the Netherlands took first place this year. “While I have said many times that we do not chase rankings, I am proud of the role that our faculty, students and staff play in making this one of the 10 best colleges of agriculture and forestry in the world,” said Jay Akridge, Glenn W. Sample Dean of Agriculture. “The reputation we enjoy is because of our people, past and present, all of whom have a fundamental role in delivering the excellence for which our college is known globally.”
The annual ranking is based on academic reputation, employer reputation and research impact. Academic reputation is measured by asking professors and research faculty to identify domestic and international institutions that they consider exemplary in their areas of expertise. For agriculture and forestry, QS Intelligence Unit surveyed more than 74,000 researchers and faculty from around the world.

For the employer reputation metric, more than 40,000 graduate employers around the world were asked to identify domestic and international universities that they consider excellent when hiring recent college graduates. As on the academic reputation scale, employers could choose up to 10 domestic universities and 30 international universities. Research impact is composed of two scales: number of research paper citations and Hirsch index, a calculation of how many of a researcher’s publications have been cited at least six times by other researchers.
QS Intelligence Unit is a division of Quacquarelli Symonds, Ltd., a company that compiles information and tools for colleges and universities, as well as provide professional networks for graduate students and business executives. In addition to ranking universities by subject each year, QS Intelligence Unit also ranks universities’ overall scores, universities by region, best student cities and universities with highest graduate employment rates.

Writer: Jessica Merzdorf,

Weekly Ethanol Production Down Again

Mar 22, 2017 6
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According to EIA data, ethanol production averaged 1.044 million barrels per day (b/d)—or 43.85 million gallons daily. That is down 1,000 b/d from the week before, but the 21st straight week over 1 million b/d. The four-week average for ethanol production increased to 1.037 million b/d for an annualized rate of 15.9 billion gallons.
Stocks of ethanol stood at 22.6 million barrels, the lowest in five weeks. That is a 0.9% decrease from last week and the third consecutive weekly decrease.
Imports of ethanol were nonexistent for the 29th straight week.

Gasoline demand for the week averaged 386.4 million gallons (9.2 million barrels) daily. Refiner/blender input of ethanol averaged 915,000 b/d. Year-to-date gasoline consumption is running 3.6% below the same period in 2016, but year-to-date ethanol blending is up 1% over the same period last year.

Expressed as a percentage of daily gasoline demand, daily ethanol production was 11.35%.

Source: RFA

Ag Trade a Top Priority for Trump Administration

Mar 22, 2017 6
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North Carolina native Ray Starling is still new to his role as Special Assistant to the President for Agriculture, Agricultural Trade, and Food Assistance. Starling spoke this week about some of the administration’s key priorities when it comes to agriculture which include promoting agricultural trade, giving farmers access to a stable workforce, regulation reform, and giving agriculture a seat at the table when new regulations are discussed.

Starling said, “We are getting to a period of push comes to shove” on accessing a sufficient workforce for American agriculture. Just how this is going to be set up in future policy development remains to be seen, but he said this is a top-of-mind issue. “On the regulatory reform issue, we want to evaluate the current landscape and make it less onerous,” Starling stated. “We want to lessen the cumulative impact of those regulations and provide you a stronger voice in the process to vet future regulations.” He said that a voice for agriculture should not only be in place at the U.S. Department of Agriculture, but at other agencies as well, including the Environmental Protection Agency, Department of the Interior, and the Department of Labor.

Source: NAFB News Service

Indiana Ag Day Honors Work of Farmers and all Driving the Ag Engine

Mar 21, 2017 18

Indiana Ag Day 2017

One thing the Indiana House and Senate Agriculture Committee chairs could easily agree on during the Indiana Ag Day ceremony at the statehouse yesterday is that the observance is important, for both farmers and Indiana consumers. Senator Jean Leising is from Oldenburg in Franklin County.

“You know every once in a while when I’m working on ag issues at the Statehouse somebody will say ‘oh I don’t care about those farmers, I’ll just go to the grocery store.’ I always have to laugh and at the same time of course it raises my ire and I’m giving them heck because truthfully, we all know where food comes from, so it’s very, very important,” she said.

Both the Senator and State Rep Don Lehe from Brookston in White County have spent many years on the farm, so they understand what it takes for farmers to drive the Indiana economy as they do. Lehe hopes farmers keep doing that important work.

“I understand all their challenges and all their efforts don’t go unnoticed,” he told HAT. “I appreciate all the efforts of agriculture in general, specifically farmers. There have been some ups and downs recently and we’ve got to stay the course and hope for a better future and continue to do the hard work.”

Lehe said many farmers play a key role at the statehouse educating their representatives about the important issues they face on the farm.

During the Tuesday observance of National Ag Day and governor’s proclamation of the day as Indiana Ag Day, other elected officials were joined by farmers, FFA members and state officers, and Indiana’s Family of Farmers, a group of the state’s major commodity and policy organizations promoting Indiana agriculture.

IFoF organized the day’s events at the Capitol building and elsewhere, according to the chair, Lauren Taylor.

“We had a dietician go along with a farmer on Fox59 this morning making pizza, and just talking about how pizza comes from different farmers, whether it be dairy farmers, wheat farmers, or pork farmers and how that all goes into pizza. We do a lot of activities out at the Indiana State Fair with the recipe trail that we hope consumers can learn by going to all the different buildings and getting them on the north side of the fairgrounds as well.

Also, Tuesday the winners of the IFoF Ag Day Video Contest were recognized. They submitted videos focused on the future of agriculture, and the 2017 winners are:

Grades 6-8:

  • 1st Place Winner: Nathan Tuholski, from Mill Creek, Ind.
  • 2nd Place Winner: John Jackson, from Jamestown, Ind.
  • 3rd Place Winner: Shenandoah Middle School, from Middletown, Ind.

Grades 9-12:

  • 1st Place Winner: Katelyn Smith, from Logansport, Ind.
  • 2nd Place Winner: John Schuler, from Roann, Ind.
  • 3rd Place Winner: Anna Taylor, from Corunna, Ind.

New RVOs Increase Ethanol Use, but Barriers Remain

Mar 21, 2017 24

New RVOs Increase Ethanol Use, but Barriers Remain

In November 2016, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) set the final 2017 Renewable Volume Obligations (RVOs) for conventional biofuel at a level of 15 billion gallons under the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS). The 2017 RVO rule aligned with bipartisan Congressional intent to increase the amount of transportation fuel that comes from renewable sources. President Trump issued a regulatory freeze memorandum in January to give his administration the opportunity to review a host of regulations before they were implemented, including the 2017 RVO rule. On Tuesday, the 2017 RVOs went into effect. In response to this positive news, Growth Energy CEO Emily Skor issued the following statement: “The Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) is America’s most successful energy policy, and it continues to guarantee competition and consumer choice in the vehicle fuels marketplace, while also lowering prices at the pump and reducing harmful emissions.”

In an interview with HAT, Skor said that, while this is good news and will help increase the amount of corn used for ethanol in the coming year, the inability for retailers to sell higher blends of ethanol all year long continues to be an issue, “This RVP issue and the inability to sell higher blends of ethanol in the summer is a real problem for fuel retailers. It costs them a lot of money to change labels on the pump.”

Skor added that if retailers could sell these blends all year long, more retailers would start offering E-15 and E-85. She said the EPA regulations are a holdover from the past and serve no real purpose, “These rules are just hanging around from years ago, well before the EPA had even approved E-15 for sale. It does not accomplish anything, and we really need to get it off the books.”

Indiana Senator Joe Donnelly, along with  Deb Fischer (R-NE) and Chuck Grassley (R-IA), has sponsored a bill to remove this barrier. Skor urges farmers to pressure lawmakers to get action on this legislation. She said the legislative calendar  most likely does not have room to deal with this issue as a standalone bill, but they hope to find a larger bill to which the language can be attached. The EPA “should be consistent in the way it treats different fuel blends as a matter of fairness and to give consumers more options for fueling their vehicles,” Grassley said in a release. The Senator also noted that EPA has never acted on its authority to grant a Reid vapor pressure waiver for E15. “This bill proposes a legislative fix to fill the void,” he says.

USDA Provides EQUIP Funds for Fire Victems

Mar 21, 2017 21
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U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) is announcing the availability of more than $6 million in funding to implement practices that will help private farmers, ranchers and forest landowners affected by the wildfires blazing in Kansas, Oklahoma and Texas. “We have seen the devastating effects of these wildfires on agricultural operations and the funding announced today can help communities of farmers and ranchers start the process of recovery,” said Acting Deputy Agriculture Secretary Michael Young. “USDA is here to offer assistance, and I encourage producers who experienced losses to take full advantage of our financial and technical assistance to aid in their recovery efforts and alleviate part of the financial burden caused by these tragic events.”

The funding, made available by the USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) through the Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP), will assist local producers as they begin to restore scorched grazing land, rebuild fencing, protect damaged watersheds, and implement various conservation measures to mitigate losses.

EQIP is a voluntary program that provides financial and technical assistance to agricultural producers to help plan and implement conservation practices that address priority local and state resource concerns. Producers must submit a complete program application, establish “farm records”, and other documentation to support eligibility to be considered for financial assistance through EQIP. Step-by-step assistance can be found at http://www.nrcs.usda.gov/getstarted.

States will begin accepting applications in the near future. Producers in the affected counties are encouraged to check with their local NRCS service centers for additional information.

USDA Provides EQUIP Funds for Fire Victems

Mar 21, 2017 16
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U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) is announcing the availability of more than $6 million in funding to implement practices that will help private farmers, ranchers and forest landowners affected by the wildfires blazing in Kansas, Oklahoma and Texas. “We have seen the devastating effects of these wildfires on agricultural operations and the funding announced today can help communities of farmers and ranchers start the process of recovery,” said Acting Deputy Agriculture Secretary Michael Young. “USDA is here to offer assistance, and I encourage producers who experienced losses to take full advantage of our financial and technical assistance to aid in their recovery efforts and alleviate part of the financial burden caused by these tragic events.”

The funding, made available by the USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) through the Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP), will assist local producers as they begin to restore scorched grazing land, rebuild fencing, protect damaged watersheds, and implement various conservation measures to mitigate losses.

EQIP is a voluntary program that provides financial and technical assistance to agricultural producers to help plan and implement conservation practices that address priority local and state resource concerns. Producers must submit a complete program application, establish “farm records”, and other documentation to support eligibility to be considered for financial assistance through EQIP. Step-by-step assistance can be found at http://www.nrcs.usda.gov/getstarted.

States will begin accepting applications in the near future. Producers in the affected counties are encouraged to check with their local NRCS service centers for additional information.

Renewable Fuels on Ag Day

Mar 21, 2017 18

On this National Agriculture Day, the Renewable Fuels Association would like to recognize and thank those involved in American agriculture, who provide abundant supplies of food, fuel and fiber to the world. Agriculture is the lifeblood of our industry, helping to produce the cleanest, lowest cost and highest source of octane fuel on the planet.

In 2016, U.S. farmers harvested a record corn crop of 15.1 billion bushels and achieved a new record average yield of 174.6 bushels per acre. In turn, U.S. ethanol facilities produced a record 15.3 billion gallons of ethanol and 42 million metric tons of high-protein animal feed. The U.S. ethanol industry supported 74,420 direct jobs in renewable fuel production and agriculture, as well as 264,756 indirect and induced jobs across all sectors of the economy—while contributing $42 billion to the Gross Domestic Product.

However, the current economic climate is tough for our nation’s farmers. Demand has not kept up with supply, requiring corn growers to sell their commodity below their cost of production. Net farm income fell to a seven-year low in 2016 and the aggregate value of crops hit its lowest point since 2010. But thanks to ethanol and the Renewable Fuel Standard, agriculture has weathered the storm.

“It is no exaggeration to say that the recent downturn in the farm economy would have been far worse without the ethanol industry’s stabilizing effects,” said RFA President and CEO Bob Dinneen. “That is why the RFA has made increasing demand for ethanol here and abroad our top priority. So, as we celebrate National Agriculture Day, we need to recommit ourselves to increasing demand, building the infrastructure and regulatory environment for higher level ethanol blends like E15 and E30, and removing unfair tariff and non-tariff barriers for free ethanol trade across the globe. If we are to truly honor our nation’s farmers, we must recognize their struggle and promote rural economic stability and growth. At the RFA, we do that every day.”