Agriculture news

Read dairy pride act

Dairy brands participate in high-shelf-life milk program for families in need

Milk is one of the most requested yet least donated items at food banks. This is largely because the regional food pantries and shelters, which are served by food banks, often lack the necessary refrigeration to store fresh milk. In fact, according to Feeding America, people who get assistance from food pantries typically receive the equivalent of less than one gallon of milk per person a year.

The single-serve, 8-ounce Giving Cow packs of ultra-high temperature (UHT) pasteurized milk have a shelf life of up to 12 months. Typically, fresh milk has a shelf life of approximately 20 days after processing. The Giving Cow milk packages are specifically designed for food pantries and kids backpack programs to fight hunger and will not be sold in stores.

“When we learned that millions of kids are missing out on nutrient-rich milk, which is a childhood essential, we knew that we had to try and be a part of the solution,” says Sharon Springborn, senior director of brand marketing at DFA Dairy Brands. “The Giving Cow packs provide valuable nutrition and are shelf-stable, so they don’t require cold storage, which we know can sometimes be limited at smaller food pantries and shelters.”

The DFA regional brands participating in The Giving Cow program include: Alta DenaDairy, Cass-Clay Creamery, Country Fresh Dairy, Garelick Farms, Guida’s Dairy, Jilbert Dairy, Kemps, Lehigh Valley Dairy Farms, Mayfield Dairy Farms, Meadow Gold Dairy, Oak Farms Dairy, PET Dairy, Purity Dairy, Reiter Dairy, Swiss Premium Dairy, T.G. Lee Dairy, and Tuscan Dairy Farms.

Earlier this year, to help families struggling with hunger, DFA, along with its farm family-owners, donated 21 refrigerators to local food pantries across its seven regional Areas throughout the United States and the equivalent of more than 225,000 servings of milk.

Read U.S. soy

U.S. soy achieves record export volume

This year, U.S. soy set a new record for exporting more product in more international markets than ever before.

The United Soybean Board, U.S. Soybean Export Council, and American Soybean Association announced that the 20/21 market year set a record of 61.65 million metric tons of whole soybeans shipped to markets across the globe. That is a value of over $28 billion in revenue for the U.S. Soy industry! 

“This record is a result of efforts to enhance access and usage of U.S. soy across the food, feed and livestock industries and across international markets by the U.S. soy farmers and industry, our customers, and governments around the world,” said Jim Sutter, CEO of U.S. Soybean Export Council (USSEC). “Setting the new aggregate volume record demonstrates the value of the investment of U.S. soy farmers to create positive impact for our customers around the world to contribute to improved nutrition and food security, environmental sustainability, and livelihoods globally.”

The U.S. soy industry achieved high export results across the board this year. U.S. Soy shipped 74.76 million metric tons of total soybean complex, valued at more than $34 billion (based on September-August for whole beans, and October-September for soybean meal and oil). International markets purchased 12.3 million metric tons of soybean meal and approximately 781,766 metric ton of soybean oil.

USSEC Chairman, ASA Director and North Dakota soybean farmer Monte Peterson said, “Seeing the rising demand for sustainable protein and sustainable U.S. soy and knowing that we’re able to reliably provide high-quality, sustainable products to more people and places around the world is incredibly fulfilling. Farmers spend our lives growing these crops and care deeply about the families and communities in which we live and those around the world. I’m excited about the innovations, partnerships, and impacts we are realizing now and what comes next for U.S. soy in 2022.”

The new aggregate volume record reflects efforts to diversify and expand markets and usage. As additional importers and companies focus on value, the demand for high-quality soybeans continues to grow, driving U.S. soy forward as a premium, sustainable protein. This increase in demand has led to U.S. soy acting as a primary solution for protein demand worldwide, producing growth in several markets.

For the 20/21 market year, nearly half of U.S. soy destination markets grew by at least 10 percent compared to the 16/17 marketing year which was the prior record year for whole soybean exports. Examples of notable growth when comparing the 20/21 and 16/17 marketing years include: 178 percent in Egypt, 298 percent in Ecuador, 91 percent in Vietnam, 18 percent in Pakistan, and 28 percent in Guatemala. U.S. soy maintained a diverse market distribution balance to ensure stability and facilitate future market growth.

Agricultural College Guide
Read waterhemp

First dicamba-resistant waterhemp reported in Illinois

University of Illinois weed scientists have confirmed resistance to the herbicide dicamba in a Champaign County waterhemp population. In the study, dicamba controlled 65 percent of the waterhemp in the field when applied at the labeled rate. And in the greenhouse, plants showed a 5-to-10-fold reduction in dicamba efficacy compared with sensitive plants.

It’s not a huge level of resistance, but there’s a twist. The population had never been sprayed with dicamba or its relative 2,4-D, to which it is also resistant. So, why did waterhemp stop responding to these herbicides?

“When we use herbicides, we select for plants that can survive those herbicides through a variety of mechanisms. Historically, that was target-site mutation, but now, more and more, we’re seeing metabolic resistance, where the weeds are activating detoxification genes before the chemicals can do harm. And so these weed populations are accumulating suites of genes that are active against various herbicides, and there’s cross-reactivity,” says Pat Tranel, professor in the Department of Crop Sciences at Illinois and co-author on the study.

Tranel and his colleagues already knew waterhemp in the Champaign County population was resistant to the synthetic auxin herbicide 2,4-D. Since dicamba is also a synthetic auxin, it’s not that much of a stretch to imagine the detoxification pathway might be the same. But waterhemp in the study population resists herbicides in five other site of action groups, so cross-reactivity could have come from anywhere.

“As we get these more complex populations that have experienced selection from multiple chemistries, they are becoming resistant to broader and broader suites of herbicides, whether they’ve seen those herbicides in the past or not. That’s a scary thought,” Tranel says. It could mean new chemistries could be rendered ineffective before they even reach the shelves.

Origin of resistance aside, 65 percent control, particularly by a synthetic auxin, is not good enough.

“At 65-75 percent control, a farmer might not realize they’re dealing with resistance and instead might just think they screwed up during application. Because they would see some activity. And these growth regulator herbicides can actually stimulate growth, causing the plant to twist up and thicken and never really die. They just kind of sit there,” Tranel says. “That makes it harder to quantify resistance.”

The researchers went to great lengths to document dicamba damage. In the field, they sprayed dicamba alone and in combination with other herbicides to quantify damage. And in the greenhouse, they conducted a dose-response experiment and determined heritability of the resistance trait across generations.

“Because auxin damage can be hard to gauge visually, I used an image analysis, taking more than 4,000 images from multiple angles. With that, I could train a model to say if the plants were resistant or not. It’s really difficult, because even when we see damage, at the end many of the plants still flower. And if they flower, they produce seeds, and they will be a problem next year,” says Lucas Kopecky Bobadilladoctoral student and lead author on the study.

The researchers found dicamba resistance was moderately heritable, meaning it could be passed on to offspring at least some of the time. Tranel says those genes are incompletely dominant, which explains why the team saw a range of responses from sensitive-like to up to 10-fold resistant.

The team tested dicamba resistance in the same field back in 2014 and 2015, showing 80 percent efficacy. The decline to 65 percent just a few years later — the field work in the current study was done in 2018 — is not a good trend.

“It’s safe to say dicamba isn’t going to become more effective,” says co-author Aaron Hager, associate professor and Extension specialist in crop sciences. “And once we find a resistant population, that doesn’t mean there aren’t others. All it means is we found one. We have no idea how common this is.”

In fact, dicamba resistance was recently documented in a Tennessee waterhemp population, and in a Tennessee population of Palmer amaranth, an aggressive waterhemp relative. Hager and the team are currently testing another Illinois population with known exposure to dicamba.

Dicamba has been used in Illinois for at least 50 years. But with more acreage being planted in dicamba tolerant soybeans, use of the chemical is on the rise. And with increasing selective pressure, Hager says, dicamba resistance could spread quickly.

“We saw this decline to 65 percent control in a population that wasn’t being managed with dicamba. If there was extensive selection through repeated dicamba application, I’m confident we would see an increase in the level of resistance in this population,” Tranel says.

Hager and Tranel, along with the rest of the weed science team at Illinois, have been making the same recommendations for years.

“Look, we’re going to continue to use herbicides on the vast majority of acres in this state. We’re not going to stop,” Hager says. “But it behooves people to really have some deep conversations with whoever’s giving you recommendations, whether it’s your input supplier, your agronomist, or whoever. It’s time to go back to what we used to do and try to map out three or four year weed control programs and not just do this on a yearly basis.”

And, he adds, “We’re going to have to do something in addition to herbicides to try to get to the end of the growing season without any seed production. Anything short of that and evolution continues.”

Read FFA Caucus

First FFA Caucus established in U.S. House of Representatives

In an exciting announcement for FFA members across the country, U.S. Reps. Tracey Mann (R-KS) and Jimmy Panetta (D-CA) have established the Congressional FFA Caucus in the U.S. House of Representatives.

The FFA Caucus will serve as an informal group of U.S. Representatives dedicated to issues related to the next generation of agriculture leaders and students pursuing careers in agriculture, food, natural resources, and related sciences.

“As a past chapter FFA president from Quinter, Kansas, and proud FFA alumnus, I am honored to establish the first-ever FFA Caucus on Capitol Hill,” said Rep. Mann. “The National FFA Organization plays an important role in preparing the next generation of leaders who will change the world. As a member of Congress and the House Agriculture Committee, I’m dedicated to raising awareness about school-based agricultural education, FFA, and the next generation of leaders who will feed, fuel, and clothe our world.”

The bipartisan FFA Caucus will work to strengthen relationships between Congress and agricultural education students and FFA members and will raise the profile of school-based agricultural education, FFA, and the next generation of leaders in food and agriculture.

“I’m proud to have worked with my colleague, Representative Tracey Mann, to co-found and co-chair the bipartisan FFA Caucus in the U.S. Congress. Although Tracey and I come from different parts of the country, we work together in Congress to protect our nation’s agriculture and perpetuate the involvement of young farmers in our food security,” said Rep. Panetta. “The Congressional FFA Caucus will be another way to encourage other members of Congress to support agriculture, enhance opportunities for future farmers, and ensure their involvement in the future of America’s agricultural.”

The FFA Caucus has two core objectives:

  1. Raise the profile of school-based agricultural education and the FFA organization.
  2. Develop relationships between Congress and school-based agricultural education, FFA, and the next generation of leaders in food agriculture.

“FFA plays a key role in educating our youth and developing the next generation of leaders. With the development of this caucus comes the opportunity to share the message of the importance of agriculture to others,” said Scott Stump, CEO of the National FFA Organization. “We know FFA members are not only our future leaders, but they are the ones who will continue to fill the talent pipeline in the industry of agriculture. It is exciting to be able to share this message with a broader audience through this caucus.” 

In addition to the announcement, an official FFA Caucus website is soon to come. 

More news


World farming records: The biggies in crops, livestock, and machines

These world farming records are fun ways of examining how far ag has come and celebrating the incredible outliers who have raised the bar for us all.

7 FFA alumni who became influential in politics and policy

Several FFA alumni have gone on to serve the U.S. House of Representatives, U.S. Senate, state legislatures, governor’s offices, and so many other avenues.

A farmer’s outlook: ‘We are the caretakers of our generation’

Derek Schafer of Schafer Ranch in Washington works the balance between tradition and innovation every day, growing a rotation of wheat, canola, and dry peas.