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.

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.

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.”

Obama Cancels Meeting After Philippine President Insults Obama’s Mom

Rodrigo Roa Duterte. Photo by Malacañang Photo Bureau

Rodrigo Roa Duterte. Photo by Malacañang Photo Bureau

You don’t mess with the POTUS and then expect a meeting, as US President Barack Obama proved to his Philippine counterpart, Rodrigo Duterte.

Affronted by the possibility that Obama was going to express disapproval of the extrajudicial killings that have been taking place by the thousands in the context of the Philippine “war on drugs,” Duterte was said to have called Obama’s mother an insulting epithet. In response, President Obama cancelled the scheduled meeting which was going to discuss agribusiness issues and other issues of relevance to the US and other Asian countries.

President Duterte express regret about his comments insulting President Obama. It is estimated that about 1,300 people have been killed since the Philippine President launched is war on drugs, most of them without the benefit of a trial. An additional 650,000 have turned themselves in as drug addicts, hoping to get treatment instead of a bullet. Unfortunately, the country is not in a position to offer any real assistance to these addicts.

Wisconsin Welcomes Participants to 18th Annual National Value Added Agriculture Conference

2011_logo_7594642DD4086The Park Hotel in Madison, Wisconsin, will be the venue for the 18th yearly National Value-Added Agriculture Conference, to be held on July 21st and 22nd. The event is designed to focus on the interests of farmers, service providers, extension specialists and community leaders.

According to business development specialist Kietra Olson of the state Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection, there will be participants from across the country as well as experts from far and wide.

“We have speakers coming from around the United States to talk about agri-tourism and rural and urban economic development, local and regional food systems, alternative-energy technology, supply-chain issues, and a lot more,” Olson said.

Wisconsin is the perfect place for a meeting of this kind. With 77,000 farms, almost all of which are family owned, Wisconsin has more farms than any other state. In addition, it is the leading state in terms of diversity of produce.

The state’s agriculture industry generates close to $60 billion each year in economic activity. This year’s conference theme is entrepreneurship and expanding rural economies through innovation and outreach to new markets. Olson pointed out that today’s farmers need to know much more about their industry than just planting and harvesting.

“Outreach programming for market expansion as it’s related to value-added processing: grant writing, entrepreneurship, aquaponics and soil-health topics, financing value-added products, things like that,” she said.

US Agribusiness Sees Potential in Cuba

Official photo of United States Senator Chuck Grassley (R-IA)

Official photo of United States Senator Chuck Grassley (R-IA)

With the lifting of the US embargo on trade with Cuba US agribusiness is anticipating some benefits to their own economic sector. The American Farm Bureau and other farm groups are pushing for increased trade in agricultural goods when the embargo is nullified.

Senator Chuck Grassley, Iowa senator, is refraining from participating in the flurry of excitement the lifting of the trade embargo has been generating. Even if the end of the embargo means more agricultural products will be sold to Cuba, Grassley is still not moved to support the historic event. He believes that when it comes to the “give and take” of negotiations of the new trade arrangement, Cuba is going to get the better end of the deal.

The Senator points out that even with the embargo still in place farm sales to Cuba has been improving.

“There’s already a provisions that have even been liberalized beyond what they’ve been through maybe ten years for agricultural foods to go there along with medicine, pharmaceuticals, medicinal things. So I don’t know whether we have to be so concerned just for agriculture,” said Grassley.

Senate Taking Steps to Open Cuban Market to US Agribusiness

Official portrait of U.S. Senator Heidi Heitkamp (D-ND).

Official portrait of U.S. Senator Heidi Heitkamp (D-ND).

Prices for essential commodities such as wheat, corn and oil have been heading south for quite some time due to their current global surplus. One way to bring prices up would be to open new markets, which can often be elusive. However, one such new market is hovering just over the horizon: Cuba.

At the moment the US, under the initiative of US President Barak Obama, some decades-old restrictions on trade with Cuba have been, or are in the process of being lifted. Unfortunately, that trade embargo continues to disallow the crucial financing that agribusiness in the US would need to send agricultural products to the communist island just 90 miles south of Florida. Agribusiness is hoping that this status-quo will change.

There is a revisiting now in the US Senate of bi-partisan support for legislation which could help agriculture exporters sell their wares in Cuba. Senator Heidi Heitkamp of North Dakota, along with 13 co-sponsors are energetically pushing the Senate to pass Heitkamp’s bill. The Agricultural Export Expansion Act of 2015 would lift the present ban on companies and private banks which supply the financing for the export of agricultural products to Cuba.

Further support for agricultural trade with Cuba is coming from US Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack. Vilsack has requested the funding of a US Department of Agriculture (USDA) field office in Cuba as part of the upcoming federal budget which was sent to Congress on February 9, 2016.

All good news for agribusiness in the US and in Cuba.

Canadian Agribusiness Looking for Workers

Need a job? The place to look might just be in the world of agribusiness, especially in Canada. One industry researcher has discovered that although more people have been applying for jobs in Canada’s agribusiness sector in recent months, there is still a critical labor shortage in some sectors of agribusiness.

“People have said that they have received more resumes this year than in previous years,” said Debra Hauer, project manager at the Canadian Agricultural Human Resource Council (CAHRC).

The majority of the jobs available are in the business end of agriculture, such as input suppliers, truck drivers, and marketing, sales and finance.

Job losses in the oil industry could be contributing to the increase in job applications in agribusiness, but Hauer did not want to speculate on what this trend means for agribusiness on a long-term basis.

The collapse of crude oil prices led to the loss of about 30,000 jobs during 2015 in Alberta, Canada’s natural resource industry, says Statistics Canada.

“There may be some people who are running out of EI (employment insurance) at this point in time, and may be running out of other options — that’s just starting out,” Hauer said.

Michael LaPlant to Become VP for Agribusiness of UMB

UMB Bank announced that it was elevating Michael LaPlant to the position of vice president of its agribusiness division.

As vice president LaPlant will be responsible creating new agribusiness relationships while simultaneously guiding clients to a focused strategy. LaPlant was previously a commercial lender with UMB.

LaPlant has a double degree in finance and real estate from the University of Missouri. He also spends time volunteering with Young Friends of the Zoo, Young Friends Marian Middle School, and United States Junior Chamber of Commerce.

Texas Farmers Unhappy with Rainfall Swings

Rain clouds approaching cattle. Photo by Dirk Ingo Franke

Rain clouds approaching cattle. Photo by Dirk Ingo Franke

According to Texas A&M AgriLife extension agent for Gregg County Randy Reeves, the weather has swung from the two extremes of “heavy rain to drought and back to rains again.”

He continued: “It has delayed just about everything. Hay harvest, spraying for weeds, fertilizing. Going from almost one extreme to the other has made it difficult for producers to adjust.”

Hay farmer Dwight Berryhill from Kilgore said that the lack of summer rain and the overabundance of rain in the autumn, made it difficult just to bring in the hay for harvest.

“You have to wait so long before you can get at it, and that affects the quality as well as when you’re able to get a return from it,” he said. “It’s not the only crop that pays my bills, but if it was I’d been in a heck of a state right now.”

Delays in hay production in turn effects cattlemen and ranchers who are forced to supplement their feed sooner than what is normal, and the rain prevented them from planting clover and rye grasses for the winter pasture, Reeves added.

Beef and forage producer from Longview, Edward Mansinger said he did not even bother to plant a winter pasture due to the summer drought. “I figured it wouldn’t even be able to come up,” he said.

The overly rain-filled soil is also a challenge for the health of the cattle.

“In weather like this, it takes a lot more nutrition to keep them going,” Mansinger said. “There are spots with standing water that, no sooner does it start to dry up that you’ve got another rainfall making things wet and muddy again. It can be hard on your cattle.”

There is some good news among all the bad: groundwater reserves are being replenished.

“The rain has certainly filled our ponds and waterways up, in some cases to overflowing,” Reeves said.

Ekiss to Head BARS for Berkley Corp

Insurance giant WR Berkley Corporation announced its appointment of Michael Ekiss to be president of Berkley’s Agribusiness Risk Specialists division, (BARS.) The appointment of the 30-year veteran of the insurance business is effective immediately.

Ekiss has focused on agribusiness insurance through the years, with his most recent appointment in leadership roles in the Midwest region of a large US insurance company.
He has a BA in economics from the University of Nebraska. He is also designated as a Chartered Property Casualty Underwriter (CPCU®) and is an Associate in Commercial Underwriting (AU™).
The chairman and CEO of WR Berkley Corporation, William R Berkley, had this to say about the Ekiss appointment:

“Mike brings a wealth of knowledge and practical experience in all aspects of agribusiness insurance. Since its inception in 2009, the exceptional team at BARS has generated strong growth and profitability. We are confident that Mike’s leadership will enable the unit to further expand nationally while developing their strong differentiation from competitors.”

Lisa Johnson Appointed as Interim Director of Agribusiness Division of the Wyoming Business Council

In the wake of the resignation of Director Cindy Garretson-Weibel of the Agribusiness Division of the Wyoming Business Council, the CEO of the Council has appointed an interim director, Lisa Johnson.

Garretson-Wiebel resigned from the position as of October 9, 2015. She left so she could dedicate herself to launching her own small business. Starting on October 12 Johnson will take over as interim Agribusiness Division director. She was previously the Regional Director of the Southesat Region of the Business Council.

Johnson was appointed to her new position by Shawn Reese, the CEO of the Wyoming Business Council.

“Lisa comes to this position with a strong agricultural background. She has worked closely with producers and is one herself,” Reese said. “She has helped develop rural agricultural economies for much of her professional life.”

Agriculture Secretary Statement

Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack has recently made a statement as a result of the release of the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s fourth quarter Outlook for U.S. Agricultural Trade. Here is what he had to say:

“The strong pace of American agricultural exports continues. Fiscal years 2015 and 2016 exports are forecast to be the third- and fourth-highest on record, respectively. Bulk export volumes are expected to rise in fiscal year 2016 and reach near record levels, and horticultural and livestock product exports are also expected to be higher. Today’s forecast provides a snapshot of a rural America that continues to remain stable in the face of the worst animal disease outbreak in our nation’s history and while the western U.S. remains gripped by drought. Thanks to the resilience of our farmers and ranchers, fiscal years 2009 to 2015 represent the strongest seven years in history for U.S. agricultural trade, with U.S. agricultural product exports totaling more than $911 billion.”

“We expect that new trade agreements, made possible thanks to Trade Promotion Authority, will allow American farmers and ranchers to better reach the 95 percent of consumers who live outside of our borders and drive the continued strength of American agricultural exports. USDA will continue to fight to get the best trade deals for farmers and ranchers that open new markets and new customers to them. Expanded trade strengthens the agricultural economy, supports more than one million good paying American jobs, and helps to preserve the rural way of life.”

Shane McIntyre Grabbed by Colliers

Australian rural outback

Australian rural outback

In what many analysts are considering a hiring coup, Colliers International brought veteran Shane McIntyre, rural property expert, away from his position at Elders. He will run the national agribusiness and rural division at Colliers.

McIntyre has at least 40 years of experience in this sector, spending many of those years as national rural real estate manager at Elders.

“Shane is one of Australia’s most recognized faces in major rural property transactions and will bring unparalleled skills, experience and leadership to our existing team as we continue to expand our business in this sector,” said Will Doherty, national executive responsible for rural and  agribusiness at Colliers International.

“Shane has acted for many of the country’s most prominent individuals, families, corporate entities and state and federal governments during his 40-year career and has been associated with the transaction of many of the most significant properties within Victoria and New South Wales,” Mr. Doherty added.

His appointment comes at a time when real estate businesses are positioning themselves to grab market share as demand from offshore groups rise, sovereign wealth funds expand, and local institutions undertake large-scale agricultural projects such as beef, dairy, wheat and nut production on large rural parcels of land.

“Trade in agricultural commodities is set to boom, assisted by the lower Australian dollar and new free trade agreements,” Mr McIntyre said.

Eastern Ohio Launching Agri Bachelor’s Program

Commonly-displayed artist's rendering of the 1996 Great Seal of Ohio.

Commonly-displayed artist’s rendering of the 1996 Great Seal of Ohio.

Until now residents of the eastern part of Ohio could not pursue a career in agriculture if they wanted to attend school close to home. Their only options for degree programs were in schools like Wilmington College and ATI at Ohio State.

The situation will be remedied this coming fall when students will be able to enroll in an agriculture program at Kent State University Tuscarawas offering a bachelor’s degree.

The senior business manager at KSU Tuscarawas, Waliah Poto, said that the university will be the single school in the entire eastern region of Ohio to offer the discipline of agribusiness. Ohio has a two year technical school in Wooster, the Agricultural Technical Institute of OSU.

“People who are time-bound and place-bound can’t leave the area to attend OSU,” Poto said. “Now we are in their own backyard.”

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