Agriculture news

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New USDA survey aims to measure areas for improvement

The USDA today announced a new annual survey of farmers, ranchers, and private forestland owners. The survey will help the USDA understand what it is doing well and where improvements are needed, specifically at the Farm Service Agency, Natural Resources Conservation Service, and Risk Management Agency.

A selection of 28,000 producers will receive the survey over the next few weeks, but all farmers are encouraged to take the survey at farmers.gov/survey.

“We want to hear from our customers so we can learn what we’re doing right and where we’re missing the mark,” Under Secretary for Farm Production and Conservation Bill Northey said. “Good data is critical to good decision-making. The more responses we receive, the better we can understand what we need to do to improve our services to America’s farmers, ranchers and private forestland owners.”

This survey is part of the President’s Management Agenda. It requires High Impact Service Provider agencies across the federal government, including FSA and NRCS, to conduct annual surveys to measure and respond to areas needing improvement.

“We recognize producers and our staff may be experiencing a lot of change in how they interact with USDA,” Farm Service Agency Administrator Richard Fordyce said. “This is a good time to check in with our customers.”

The survey consists of 20 questions and takes approximately 10 minutes to complete. Responses are confidential, and individual responses will be aggregated. The survey will be open for at least six weeks and will be closed once the USDA receives a 30 percent response rate.

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GROWMARK and Southern States entering into agronomy, energy agreement

Cooperatives GROWMARK Inc. and Southern States said they plan to close on a transaction Sept. 1, 2020, that aligns the organizations operationally to increase innovation, growth, and returns for the farmer-owners of both systems.

In a press release, GROWMARK said it will assume the wholesale agronomy and energy (fuels and propane) assets of Southern States, along with several retail locations serving farmers in Delaware and Maryland. GROWMARK will provide crop inputs, fuels, propane, and a variety of customer support and marketing services to Southern States and its member cooperatives. They, in turn, will continue to deliver custom solutions with access to GROWMARK’s product mix, distribution expertise, and drive for innovation.

Southern States is a Richmond, Virginia-based cooperative currently serving retail and wholesale outlets across 21 states — it is one of the largest farm supply retail and service cooperatives in the United States. The cooperative, which has entered into another partnership recently with Heliae Ag for microbial nutrients, has long provided a range of farm inputs, including fertilizer, seed, livestock feed, pet food, animal health supplies, petroleum products, and various other items for the farm and home.

“GROWMARK’s vision is to be the best agricultural cooperative system in North America, and this partnership enables our organizations to further that goal together,” said GROWMARK CEO Jim Spradlin. “We are committed to delivering an unsurpassed customer experience to the patrons we serve across North America. The cooperative model is uniquely positioned to deliver that, so this combination of efforts is great news for farmers invested in our cooperative organizations.”

GROWMARK is an agricultural cooperative that provides agronomy, energy products and services, as well as grain marketing and a variety of support services throughout North America. It is headquartered in Bloomington, Illinois.

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Ohio’s massive Farm Science Review goes virtual for 2020

Farm Science Review will come to you on your laptop or smartphone this year, and for free, you can watch live-streamed talks and recorded videos featuring the latest farm equipment and research to pique your curiosity.

The event, hosted by The Ohio State University’s College of Food, Agricultural, and Environmental Sciences, draws 130,000 attendees and hundreds of exhibitors during a “normal” year.

For 2020, from Sept. 22 to 24, people from across the Midwest and the world can learn tips for increasing farm profits and growing crops from soybeans to hemp.

Beginning in September, virtual visitors can find out about the show’s offerings by going to fsr.osu.edu and clicking on an image of the show’s site. Within that image, people can click on the various icons to find the schedules for talks and demos they’re most interested in.

Among the live-streamed talks will be Ask the Expert presentations that feature the advice of staff from The Ohio State University College of Food, Agricultural, and Environmental Sciences (CFAES) on various topics in agriculture. Viewers will enter the talks through a Zoom meeting link and be able to post their questions in chat boxes. If you miss any, you can check back after the talks to watch the recordings.

“It will be even easier this year to benefit from the show’s valuable advice that can help farmers improve their businesses,” said Nick Zachrich, manager of Farm Science Review. “Whether farm operators have questions on finances, insurance protection, or which new tool fits their needs, resources will be available through Farm Science Review online.”

The virtual format is a first for Farm Science Review, held annually for nearly 60 years.

Topics for talks at FSR this year include the risks of transmitting COVID-19 to your animals, the prospects of U.S. agricultural exports abroad, increasing profits from small grains by planting double crops, climate trends, managing cash flow on the farm, farm stress, and rental rates on agricultural land.

Looking for a job in agriculture? For the second time this year, FSR will include a career fair. Before the Sept. 22 event, which will be from 10 a.m. to noon, anyone can view videos and other content from prospective employers to know what those employers are seeking and schedule live chats with company representatives.

Other major attractions at this year’s show will include online field demonstrations that will show how various types of farm equipment boost the efficiency of fertilizing, harvesting a field, or performing other tasks. Viewers can catch a close-up view of the machinery, which, on site, they’d normally have to see from several yards away.

If you require an accommodation, such as live captioning or interpretation, to participate in this event, please email [email protected].

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Vote for one of three finalists in the #RootedinAg Contest

Three people are finalists in the annual #RootedinAg Contest, hosted by Syngenta. The competition invites members of the ag community to share the inspiring stories of their mentors.

Each 2020 finalist embodies a different aspect of the industry:

  • Hannah Borg, a young farmer from Wayne, Nebraska, who pays tribute to the 86-year-old matriarch of her sixth-generation farming family;
  • Stephon Fitzpatrick, a doctoral student at the University of Maryland Eastern Shore and community leader whose high school FFA adviser set in motion an incredible ag journey;
  • DeLeon Pope, an independent certified crop adviser in Clinton, North Carolina, who used the lessons his farmer father taught him to create a successful business built on respect, hard work and perseverance.

Each finalist receives a mini touch-screen tablet. The grand prizewinner receives $500, a $1,000 donation to a local charity or civic organization, and a professional photo shoot. Additionally, Syngenta will feature the winning story in an upcoming issue of Thrive magazine. Visitors to the Thrive magazine website can vote for their favorite finalist through Sept. 15. Online voting, along with judges’ scores, decides who wins the grand prize, which Syngenta will announce this fall.

“At the core of each individual’s story is the larger, overarching narrative that encompasses the heart of agriculture — it’s one of grit and determination and of generations that continue to move farming in America forward,” said Pam Caraway, communications lead at Syngenta. “Thank you to everybody who shared their stories. When we amplify the voices and experiences through projects such as #RootedinAg, we elevate our industry. Telling ag’s incredible story through #RootedinAg shines a light for those outside of our industry, so they can understand that agriculture, at its heart, moves to the beat of our families and friends.”

For more information and to vote for your favorite finalist, go to the #RootedinAg Contest page on the Syngenta website. 

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