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.”

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.”

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.”

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.

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.

Land O’Lakes Buys Biotech Company Ceres

This grass is grown as an annual crop for biofuel, burned at Drax power station to generate electricity. Photo courtesy of  alh1

This grass is grown as an annual crop for biofuel, burned at Drax power station to generate electricity. Photo courtesy of
alh1

US agribusiness giant Land O’Lakes announced its acquisition of Ceres, a California-based biotechnology firm for $17.2 million.

Ceres develops and manufactures seeds from genetically modified crops that are used in the production of biofuels. The company will become part of the forage business unit of Land O’Lakes which is now made up of Forage Genetics International (FGI.)

The deal will enable FGI’s research and development division to further its plant breeding and biotechnology goals. The company will better be able to bring new forage characteristics to the marketplace as well as placing the company in a position to better expand and become a holistic forage provider to its customers.

FGI said that the partnering of Ceres and FGI brings together complimentary capabilities which will speed up the process to the creation of new forage solutions for farmers around the world.

Mars Exploration Fertile Ground for Agricultural Innovation

Mars

Mars

According to Dr. Gernot Groemer, president of the Austrian Space Forum and the head of the PolAres Mars simulation program, exploration of space, and especially the possibility of Mars colonization, is likely to stimulate innovation, especially in the industry and agriculture sectors right here on Earth.

“It’s a clean sheet approach that provides reflections on what is really needed to sustain a community somewhere, anywhere,” explained Dr Groemer. “We use cutting-edge emerging technologies, and what you find with all of the controlled conditions and brain power being applied is that there are applications here on Earth.”

There is a long history of deriving new technologies and products from space programs. Even movies like “The Martian” can inspire creativity. Researchers from Wageningen University & Research Center in the Netherlands grew certain crops in media made to simulate the soil of Mars.

“The food crops were grown in soil that would otherwise be considered unplantable,” Groemer explained. Here on Earth this can translate to improving productivity on land which is marginal or even barren.

“What we know about Mars has progressed massively in the past 15 years, and I strongly believe that the first human to walk on Mars is already born,” stated Dr Gernot Groemer. “We could see permanent human settlement on the Red Planet several generations from now, and they may not be happy eating canned food,” he noted.

There are other issues space exploration forces mankind to investigate.

“The way our body processes food is different enough to matter a great deal. A person’s sense of taste changes in zero gravity. There are medical implications to different gravity effects,” remarked Dr Groemer. “In our work we’re verifying whether the ideas and designs to survive on Mars work in practice, and the gaps between theory and practice that we observe range from trivial to serious matters.”

Thanksgiving in Trouble as Turkeys Face Devastating Virus

Turkeys may be expensive or hard to get this coming November

Turkeys may be expensive or hard to get this coming November

Turkeys may be a rare bird come this Thanksgiving. Iowa just became the 16th state in the US which has been struck by the extremely pathogenic H5N2 avian influenza.  In addition, four additional turkey farms in the Midwest have been hit with the deadly bug. The total number of farms which have so far experienced the bird illness now stands at 25. The number of birds which either succumbed to the illness or have been purposely killed to contain the spread of the disease is over 1.2 million.

The most recent outbreaks were in Minnesota, South Dakota, and Wisconsin. In Wisconsin the infection struck a commercial turkey flock consisting of 200,000 chickens. This was the first confirmed case of the bird flu in the area.

Prices Up, Production Down, Cash Receipts Up and Down

Since 2012, when there was a record high in gross income for farmers, called cash receipts by the USDA, this annual measurement of the health of US farms has been in decline.

The average decline overall for 2014 is expected to be 7 percent. Despite record high corn production figures are predicting over 20 percent decline in cash receipts due to a tumbling by 32 percent of the average price of corn.

The price of beef is having the opposite experience. Livestock prices have hit record highs, fueling a 15 percent increase in cash receipts for this commodity. Cash receipts for cattle and calves are expected to set records in 2014 despite declines in production; the increase caused by higher prices.

Pork production has also fallen, however increased prices are also stimulating predicted advances in pork cash receipts.

Iowa Soybean Growers Off to China

A group representing the Iowa Soybean Association have embarked on a 9-day trip to China. Their goal is to develop a better relationship with the agricultural giant as well as to forge a consumer preference for Iowa soybeans. Chinese farmers are not as motivated to grow soybeans as they are to grow corn due to a lack of oilseed subsidies from their government. Therefore China imports much of their soybean supply. The hope is that as a result of this trip that Chinese food producers will turn towards Iowa for their soybean supply.

South Carolina Farm Leaders Praise State’s Agribusiness

David Winkles, President of South Carolina Farm Bureau

David Winkles, President of South Carolina Farm Bureau

Three leaders from the South Carolina farming community are speaking out publicly about the competitive nature of the agribusiness in their home state. South Carolina Farm Bureau Federation President David Winkles; South Carolina Commissioner of Agriculture Hugh Weathers; and the new chief of the South Carolina Farm Service Agency Harry Ott, joined together to elaborate on the excellent state of agriculture in South Carolina.

They chose the day after Independence Day to discuss the fact that the combined rank of South Carolina’s counties is either at the top or in the top ten of many major agricultural categories. They rank high in cash receipts for crop and livestock, to the size of herds of cows and flocks of chickens, to the production of corn, cotton, peanuts and soybeans.

Winkles will be discussing “The State of Agriculture in South Carolina” at the South Carolina Farmers Market as the veteran leader of the state’s biggest agricultural advocacy group.

“I know how important these farm programs are and how important they are to the state and to the country,” Ott said in announcing his plans to leave the General Assembly and accept the role as FSA executive director. “I will continue to be a strong voice for agriculture.”

Oklahoma to Allow Humane Slaughter of Horses

Governor Mary Fallin of Oklahoma

Governor Mary Fallin of Oklahoma

Governor Mary Fallin of Oklahoma signed into law a new bill which will allow the humane slaughter of horses in the state. The bill however does not make legal the sale of horse-meat for human consumption.

The Oklahoma Meat Inspection Act was sponsored by state lawmakers Representative Skye McNeil and Senator Eddie Fields, and passed by a margin of 82-14 in the House and 32-14 in the Senate. The bill, which will go into effect on November 1, 2013, brings Oklahoma in line with the other 46 states that already allow horse slaughter.

The institution of the law could be short-lived, however, as there is federal legislation pending which will prohibit horse slaughter all together. No states in the country have processed horse meat since the federal government took action in 2007 to prohibit it.

Those in support of the bill claim that the bill has the best interests of the animals in mind. Without the law allowing horse slaughter, they say, horses would instead be abused, neglected, starved or even sent to Canada and/or Mexico to be slaughtered inhumanely in a plant which is not subject to government restrictions requiring humane slaughtering methods.

Governor Fallin said,

“Those of us who care about the well-being of horses — and we all should — cannot be satisfied with a status quo that encourages abuse and neglect, or that rewards the potentially inhumane slaughter of animals in foreign countries.”

Zarsha Leo to Host Talk on Agribusiness

The popular and trendy bar-restaurant, Zarsha Leo, is planning on holding a seminar on the economics of wine, beer and other alcoholic beverages this coming spring. An exact date has not yet been decided, but Evan Burschkopf, CEO of the upscale restaurant, is excited to use the large meeting space for such an interesting discussion.

“When I first launched Zarsha Leo in New York City, I thought that not only should the restaurant be a place for people to come and relax, but it should also be a place where people can come and learn things. What better subject than the economics of drinking for a bar to host?”

The New York-based franchise offers its customers a large menu of great bar-friendly cuisine, a fully stocked bar with a large selection of wine, beer and cocktails. Also on hand are several giant plasma TVs for watching sports events from around the world. Having a large private room for parties, which can double as a conference space, is just one more thing that makes this restaurant-bar so unique and exciting.

Michigan Water Project Could Stimulate New Agribusiness

Karegnondi Pipeline Should be Agribusiness Booster

An ambitious public infrastructure project known as the Karegnondi pipeline is about to get underway in Blue Water Area of Michigan. The project will bring water from Lake Huron at Worth Township to its final destination in Genesee County, 64 miles and three counties distant.

The massive water project is the largest such infrastructure undertaking since 1997’s Blue Water Bridge was finished at a cost of a bit more than $ 1 billion. The Karegnondi pipeline, named for the Native American word for lake, is expected to stimulate the development of an agribusiness alley in and along Interstate 69.

“There’s a lot of reasons why that corridor makes a lot of sense,”

said David Haynes, director of new business attraction for the St. Clair County Economic Development Alliance.

Construction of the pipeline is going to begin in early 2013, according to director of water and waste service for the Genesee County Drain Commission John O’Brien.

“We are waiting on an Army Corps of Engineers permit which is our last permit,” O’Brien said. “We expect it anytime.”

Haynes added that the idea of a 60-inch pipeline carrying untreated water from Lake Huron alongside Interstate 69 together with a CN rail line through prime agricultural real estate could most definitely prove desirable to agribusiness.

The fact that the water is raw makes it even more attractive, Haynes said. Farmers don not need their water chlorinated for their irrigation sprinklers, and food processors treat the water they get according to their own needs.

“As an example … in Ontario you have Nestle and you have Campbells,” he said. “When you have access to that raw water, especially for cleaning of the product, that has a lot of advantages. It definitely can play in favor of developing that agricultural corridor. It’s really exciting.”

Sustainable Agriculture Symposium Set for November 1 and 2

November 1st and 2nd are the dates set for the Sustainable Agriculture Symposium, which will be held at Cayuga Community College in Auburn, New York.

The symposium will highlight talks about ways to advance sustainable agriculture; how to preserve and nurture the environment; ways to improve food output and production; all from an international and local point of view.

Some of the topics which will be included in the various discussions will be agroecology, biopesticides, biofertilizers, green chemistry, and related technologies, and how these technologies effect water quality, the environment, soil productivity and sustainable agriculture in general.

A detailed look at sustainable agricultural practices in the following regions of Maharashtra Province, India; London, England; and the Finger Lakes Region of Central New York will allow participants to understand the global and local significance of these techniques.

To register, call 294-8807 or visit www.cayuga-cc.edu/susag2012.
 

 

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