Midwestern State of Texas Adding Ag to Their Business Curriculum

The Hardin Administration Building on the campus of Midwestern State University in Wichita Falls, Texas (United States). Photo courtesy of Wikipedia.

Texas’ Midwestern State University announced at the end of January the addition of an agriculture division to their business curriculum, beginning in the fall of 2018.

Agriculture will be a subject of concentration for students to choose when taking economics as their major course of study. The school believes this new option will be attractive to students who come from the area, where there is a large amount of agricultural business.

“We believe that tying the concentration for agribusiness to the community will yield many benefits to all. This area is particularly rich in farming and ranching knowledge because of the farmers, ranchers, and their families who have been here for many generations,” said Dr. Robert Forrester, Dillard Distinguished Professor of Finance.

The new division is supported with funding from Carol Dillard, a rancher from the area who wishes to see her vision to educate future ranchers and farmers implemented successfully.

“The Dillard family’s generosity and support through the years has made the single biggest difference in our ability to enhance preparation for careers in business in this region,” said MSU President Suzanne Shipley.

Speculation on Name of DowDupont Spinoff

Curious about what the recently-merged DowDupont’s agribusiness arm will be called? Based on evidence from newly registered domain names from the organization, it seems Corteva is a good guess for the Delaware-based agricultural business.

The company has registered several website domains featuring the word Corteva, according to Domain Name Wire. DowDupont did not confirm this new name for their agribusiness division, one of three new companies that will be spun off as a result of the August mega-merger of Dow with Dupont.

“We will not comment on speculation regarding the new Agriculture company name because no decisions have been made regarding names for the new intended Agriculture or Specialty Products companies,” a spokesperson for DWDP said. “The company routinely registers a variety of domain names as part of standard business practice, including the names of actual and potential company products. We expect to announce the new name in Q1 2018.”

WHO Asks Farmers to Desist From Using Antibiotics on Healthy Livestock

London, 11th July 2012. Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus. Photo courtesy of DFID – UK Department for International Development.

Director-General of the World Health Organization, Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus demanded that farmers resist using antibiotics on healthy animals in order to promote growth and as a prophylactic measure against infections.

He said that the practice is a serious “security threat,” similar to “a sudden and deadly disease outbreak.” The overuse of antibiotics on livestock has led to an increase in the number of drug-resistant bacteria and an increase in their level of danger to human health.

Ghebreyesus added that the world will have to exert a “strong and sustained action across all sectors” to combat the dearth of effective antibiotics for humans and reverse the trend of bacterial resistance in order to “keep the world safe.”

The UN statement includes the WHO’s strong recommendation of an “overall reduction in the use of all classes of medically important antibiotics in food-producing animals, including complete restriction of these antibiotics for growth promotion and diseases prevention without diagnosis.”

Such unrestricted use of antibiotics promotes the creation and spread of dangerous infectious agents known as “superbugs;” bacteria that are resistant to many types of antibiotics of increasingly stronger quality.

The statement also included the assertion that in some countries about 80 percent of all consumption of medically important antibiotics was by animals, most of which are healthy. The drugs are used to promote growth and prevent illness in livestock. The WHO said such use of medically important antibiotics needs to end immediately.

In the case of sick animals, before antibiotics are administered tests should first be conducted to decide what the best treatment is in each specific case. The unrestricted use of important medicine is dangerous and leading the world to an unpredictably dangerous future.

Kemin Industries to Expand in Des Moines

Kemin Industries, a maker of nutritional ingredients sold globally, is negotiating a deal to buy about 24 acres of industrial land owned by the city of Des Moines, Iowa. The company wants to

Aerials of Des Moines, Iowa from 10,000 feet May 6, 2017. USDA photo by Preston Keres.

enlarge its international nutritional ingredient business in the Agrimergent Technology Park on the southeast part of the city. Kemin has its corporate headquarters situated in the tech park, as well as its advanced molecular research center.

The company just opened a new expansion, a corporate office with 94,000 square feet of space, including labs and a fitness center. The new space cost $30 million and opened this past August.

What Kemin will do with its new land purchase has not been announced. The company stated that it “anticipates the area containing a mix of manufacturing and warehouse functions.”

“It’s very positive. This area has been sitting undeveloped for a long time,” said Terrance Vorbrich, a city of Des Moines economic development coordinator.

Rappahannnock Electric Coop Wins Agribusiness Award

Fredericksburg, Virginia company Rappahannock Electrical Cooperative was recognized with the 2017 Agribusiness of the Year Award. The Virginia Agribusiness Council bestows this award on companies that contribute substantially to the agribusiness.

The VAC is a non-profit organization which is based in Richmond, Virginia. It supports the needs of agriculture and forestry in the state. Each year the council awards on of its members this coveted honor.

Rappahonnock Electric Cooperative maintains and operates over 16,000 miles of power lines all the way from the Blue Ridge Mountains in the west to the Chesapeake Bay in the east. Their extensive service covers 22 counties in the Commonwealth, serving over 164,000 connections, providing their customers with electricity.

“REC began in 1935 as Farmers Rural Utilities, so the roots of our relationship with the agribusiness community are deep,” Matt Faulconer, the manager of external affairs for REC and a Virginia Agribusiness Council Board member, said. “While humbled by this recognition, we proudly support the men and women who literally grow Virginia’s economy.”

Women in Agribusiness Summit Scheduled for September 26-28, 2017

Women in agribusiness want to change the world. At the 6th annual Women in Agribusiness Summit, to be held in Minneapolis, Minnesota at the Hyatt Regency, women will discuss how science and technology will address the most pressing issues of our times, including hunger, sustainability and climate change.

The summit will feature Jack Bobo, senior vice president and chief communications officer at Intrexon, who will speak about the role technology, media and public perception will determine the condition of the world in the next 30 years or more.

The 600 women who will be participating will hear about global trends in food and agriculture. Discussions will also consider the relationship between food safety and the public’s perception of risk, and how companies create trust.

Shannon Hauf will discuss the new gene manipulation technology known as CRISPR, which has the potential to create a revolution in food industry. Hauf will relate to the new technology’s possible impact on agriculture, new regulations and legislation, and will predict where she believes this tool will take us in the future.

The summit will facilitate women to share best practices and strategies during three days of presentations by experts, with ten hours of networking with innovators and rising stars, with an emphasis on the sharing of information.

Jon Alcorn New Head of Agribusiness at Suncrest Bank

Jon Alcorn will become the new head of Suncrest Bank’s Agribusiness Division in Fresno, California. The announcement was made on August 7, 2017.

“John brings over 35 years’ experience in both agribusiness banking and hands-on farm management. His appointment reflects our continuing commitment to the Central Valley’s agricultural sector”, said Ciaran McMullan, President and CEO of Suncrest Bank. “Accurately underwriting agricultural credit in California requires both technical industry knowledge as well as experience of multiple cycles in commodity prices and land values, across a wide variety of crop types.” McMullan added. “John’s deep knowledge of these cycles makes him a highly qualified addition to our Agribusiness team.”

The president of the Fresno Market, Jennette Williams, also commented on the appointment of Alcorn.

“We are delighted to have someone with John’s know-how join our Fresno team. Fresno County is regularly ranked one the highest ag-producing counties in the US, and is a great market for Suncrest to grow its farm lending portfolio.”

Before Alcorn joined with Suncrest he was the chief of the Field Inspection Department of the Western United States, for Rabobank. He was there in a variety of capacities from 2005. Prior to his stint at Rabobank he worked for the Anderson Clayton Corporation as a Loan Officer. Before joining ACC Alcorn worked in farm management as the Almond Crop Manager for Harris Farms and the Ranch Manager for Clark Brothers.

Good Egg Award Goes to Natural Grocers

In 2007 Compassion in World Farming created the “Good Egg Award” to recognize companies that are ready to use, or commit to use within five years, eggs and egg products entirely derived from free-range chickens.

Eggs laid by free-range chickens, who found a convenient place under a tree. (At a family organic farm in Bruthen, Victoria) Photo courtesy of Vmenkov.

The organization hosted their Good Farm Animal Awards Ceremony in London, awarding to Natural Grocers the award that recognizes and honors the company’s innovative supply chain of 100% Free-Range Eggs. They are the first major US grocery chain that exclusively carries free-range eggs.

Natural Grocers has been supporting the improvement of animal welfare guidelines. In the case of cage-free eggs, the company went beyond the accepted standards in 2016 when they began their 100% Free-Range egg supply chain. This approach assures consumers that only non-cage eggs are sold at Natural Grocers, and that the price is the same, or even lower, with the new higher standard.

“There is a momentous shift happening in the US and beyond towards cage-free and free-range egg production. We are thrilled to be awarding Natural Grocers for being at the forefront of that shift,” said Rachel Dreskin, US Head of Food Business at Compassion in World Farming. “We would like to congratulate Natural Grocers for the huge difference they are making to the lives of laying hens in their supply chain. As hundreds of other food businesses move in the same direction their commitment to animal welfare will serve as an excellent example.”

“We are proud to have our industry-leading 100% Free-Range egg standard recognized by Compassion in World Farming,” said Heather Isely, Executive Vice President at Natural Grocers. “We hope to inspire other companies around the world to follow our example and to realize that it is possible to offer the highest quality standards at affordable prices. We are here to show that a just, sustainable and equitable food system is possible.”

Logan Schoon Honored by Minnesota FFA Association

Logan Schoon, a Menahga FFA member, was recognized by the Minnesota FFA Association as the 2017 Star in AgriBusiness, one of the association’s highest honors.

Schoon has been working as a construction foreman for Kevin Kocurek as his supervised agricultural experience (SAE). At the moment, he is working on a multi-million-dollar project, and has been involved in his SAE for more than a year and a half. While working Schoon has acquired many skills, including carpentry, electrical, roofing and installing rafters.

“Since day one of working on the house, pouring the footings, I have taken great pride in my work,” said Schoon. “This job has taught me many things. The biggest accomplishment is looking at the work I have done and seeing how the hard work has paid off.”

Schoon explained that his SEA has helped him make the decision to study heavy equipment operation and maintenance at his school of choice, Central Lakes College in Staples, Minnesota.

Agribusiness Biggies Teaming Up to Address Hunger in Africa

The MV Caroline Scan, chartered by the World Food Programme, is protected by a Finnish Autonomous Vessel Protection Detachment from the EU Naval Force – April 2013. Photo courtesy of European Union Naval Force Somalia Operation Atalanta

For the first time the world’s leading agribusiness conglomerates are teaming up to fight hunger and prevent famine in East Africa. The companies, Cargill, Bunge, ADM and Louis Dreyfus Company will contribute collectively $525,000 to the World Food Programme. The WFP is the world’s leading humanitarian group which is fighting hunger, reaching tens of thousands of people each year in East Africa.

The WFP launched an organized response to the famine in South Sudan which was created by the war going on there. They are also addressing the issue of extreme malnutrition in Somalia, Ethiopia and Kenya. In those countries, acute drought ruined thousands of acres of crop land, leaving millions of families at the mercy of emergency food assistance.

“We can turn the tide and save millions of lives,” said President and CEO of World Food Programme USA Rick Leach. “Support from leading companies and individuals will be the key to reaching millions of people as quickly as possible before it’s too late.”

Today over 16 million people in the region are negatively affected by economic instability, conflict and drought, for example:

•    Somalia has experienced almost complete crop-failure after two years of poor rainfall. About 3 million people in this devastated country are facing the possibility of not knowing where their next meal is coming from.
•    Political conflict and war have placed over 40 percent of the population in South Sudan in need of emergency food assistance, and an additional 100,000 are in danger of starvation.
•    Due to extreme drought conditions in Ethiopia about 5.6 million people need emergency food assistance.
•    There are about 344,000 malnourished children in Kenya due to extreme drought conditions.

Money raised from the private sector allows WFP to emergency food assistance and nutrition help. The organization uses e-voucher-cards to purchase food locally, in-kind rations, and targeted support for young children, pregnant women, and nursing mothers.

“Companies and individuals are stepping up to address the emergency and advance longer term solutions,” said Leach. “We hope it inspires others to donate and get involved today.”

Cal Poly Student Proposes Cost-Saving Plan to Help Small Farmers Recruit Workers

Fourth-year agribusiness major at Cal Poly Jose Alvarez was recognized by the California Legislature for his proposal to streamline the federal H-2A visa program.

Alvarez, who is scheduled to graduate soon, submitted his idea in the national Minorities in Agriculture, Natural Resources and Related Sciences annual conference last spring in Jacksonville, Florida. He was representing Cal Poly’s Latinos in Agriculture Club.

His business pitch is called “Together in Agriculture for a Greater Good.” It uses a nonprofit model that would reduce costs for small ranchers and farmers to hire a professional who would complete the federal H-2A visa program applications.

“In theory, it would start as a pilot program in California, where essentially the program would subsidize the cost of using the H-2A visa program,” Alvarez said. “Usually, big farmers are the ones that use that because it’s costly, time-consuming, has government regulations and the cost goes to the farmer.”

The H-2A visa program was first launched in the 1980s. It allows foreign nationals to come into the US only temporarily for seasonal agricultural work. It was created to respond to the shortage of native agricultural workers.

There is time-consuming paper work process needed to process an H-2A visa, which larger farms and ranchers out-source to private contractors.

The program would do the paperwork and reduce the costs, and cut out middlemen and contractors,” he said. “I was focused on smaller farmers and allowing them to use a similar service.”
In addition to this simple cost-saving aspect of the proposal, Alvarez also added the idea of recruiting illegal immigrants who are already living in the country, but having a difficult time finding work.

This would reduce the pressure and inconvenience of recruiting workers outside the country.

“You have to find these workers and do recruiting, so I thought, ‘Why not let people already illegally here in the U.S. apply for this program, too?’

US Agribusiness Pleased with Perdue as Secretary of Agriculture; Conservationist Not So Much

Sonny Perdue. Photo courtesy of Bruce Tuten from Savannah, Georgia, United States

The final appointee to Donald Trump’s cabinet seems to be well-liked all around, and was praised as an excellent choice for Secretary of Agriculture by several US agriculture groups.

Former Georgia Governor Sonny Perdue was praised by US agribusiness associations as an “outstanding” choice for the cabinet post.

Perdue was acclaimed by the National Grain and Feed Association for his vast experience. He was an owner of three agribusiness and transportation companies that farmers across the south utilize. He was also a member of the NGFA’s board of directors from 2014 until the time of his nomination.

“Governor Perdue is an accomplished, innovative, problem-solving and proven public servant, and is an excellent choice to serve as secretary of agriculture,” said Randy Gordon, president of the NGFA. “He has strong rural roots, having grown up on a row-crop and dairy farm, and is a person of impeccable character, trustworthiness and integrity who is an energetic, passionate and tireless advocate for U.S. agriculture and for America. Gov. Perdue also is a very open and receptive person who seeks out and listens to advice. He also possesses the business acumen, experience, common sense and sound policy-making background that will serve him extremely well as a member of the president’s cabinet.”

Other interest groups are not so sure about Perdue, saying that while he was Governor he showed favor to the timber industry while ignoring the effect the loss of forests have on climate and global warming.

Conservationists and climate activists point out that Perdue has ties to the timber industry, being an owner of woodland himself, and has dismissed climate change science as inconclusive. He has questioned the connection between extreme weather and climate change, he received campaign funding from the timber industry, and has been a supporter of converting forests to ethanol, despite those implications for climate change as well.

“The concern is we’ll go back to the Reagan days—of billions of board feet of wood coming out of the national forests,” said Mark Woodall, the legislative chair of the Sierra Club’s Georgia chapter. “There’s a concern that Sonny Perdue has always been close to the timber companies and would be favorable to them.”

Goat Meat Gaining Popularity in the USA

This is a classic and delicious Moroccan dish, called a Tajine, made out of goat meat and quinces. The sweet-salty mix, along with the herbs and local spices give this dish its delicious personality. Picture courtesy of Magda Baidan.

According to a study conducted at the University of Missouri extension, American consumers of meat are beginning to purchase goat meat in addition to the standard animal protein stables of beef, pork and poultry.

Goat meat is purported to be a healthier choice than the usual animal proteins eaten in the US, and is enjoyed by 75 percent of the rest of the world on a regular basis. Goat meat is less fatty than beef per gram of protein, and has less saturated fat than chicken. Goat meat is also loaded with iron, more per serving than beef, chicken, pork or lamb.

“Consuming goat meat hasn’t been part of our culture, but its popularity is rising as people search for healthy, lean, hormone-free sources of protein,” said Lindsey Stevenson, nutrition and health specialist for University of Missouri Extension.

Goats raised in the US must adhere to strict USDA regulations and inspections. Production practices must be hormone-free and antibiotics can only be used within federal guidelines.

“Look for goat meat sold at traditional grocers or specialty markets. Goat meat can also be ordered online,” added Stevenson.

Want to get started trying goat meat? Stevenson suggested an easy recipe here.

Pope Addresses Effect of Technology on Biodiversity

 Pope Francis. Photo by Casa Rosada.

Pope Francis. Photo by Casa Rosada.

Warning that mankind cant always know the ultimate effects of technology on the environment, Pope Francis spoke with members of the International Catholic Rural Association.
The Pope said that technology in the sphere of agriculture is “the best response possible to poverty and food shortages,” nevertheless he cautioned that there are certain “models of agribusiness” which could “eliminate the variety and the richness of biodiversity.”

The speech was held on December 10, at the Apostolic Palace.

Although technology can be used for great benefit to mankind, he still felt that in some cases society has taken “a rash recourse to technology.” He continued to warn that “we do not know its effects on human health; when we encounter so many ‘rare diseases’ and don’t know where they come from, we have to wonder.”

The Pope also said:

Looking at rural life today, we see the primacy of the market, which determines actions and decisions. Making money, above all else! Even at the expense of sacrificing the rhythms of agricultural life, with its times of work and leisure, its weekly rest and its concern for the family … Solidarity itself, frequently invoked as a remedy, is insufficient unless it is accompanied by justice in the allotment of land, in agricultural salaries and in access to markets.

Irish Dairy Acquires US Ingredients Company

The largest exporter of Irish dairy products, Ornua, recently purchased CoreFX Ingredients, a division of MCT Dairies, Inc. together with a powder production factory in Orangeville, Illinois.

The purchase is Ornua’s first such specialty dry ingredients production facility in the United States. The company already owns ordinary ingredients production facilities in Spain, Saudi Arabia and the United Kingdom, as well as in the US.

The new company will be known as CoreFX Ingredients LLC. Ornua is planning to continue to grow the scale and capability of the new acquisition via customer-led innovation, team expertise and new dairy technologies. Ornua is investing in the growth of the facility’s technical output plus in a new Customer Innovation Center in its headquarters in Chicago.

CoreFX Ingredients, which is headquartered in Chicago, uses spray drying and blending technologies. Serving a wide range of markets from snack foods, to sports nutrition, soups/sauces and salad dressings, baby food, desserts, bakery and dairy, the company supplies cheese and lipid powder ingredient solutions for food manufacturing companies.

Kevin Lane, CEO of Ornua commented on the deal:

“This acquisition is another key milestone in Ornua’s US expansion programme and is in-line with our strategy to invest in high growth and profitable dairy businesses. CoreFX Ingredients will provide our Ingredients division with greater scale and enhances our capability to deliver bespoke ingredient solutions to our customers. Importantly, we can share its dairy technologies across all of our ingredient operations around the world and in turn drive growth.”

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