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Farmer panel discusses Climate FieldView

Over the past decade, the agriculture industry has increased its adaptablity to technology. With the increase in technology adoption comes better data collection, increase in efficiency, and better insights on the farm. However, it also takes broadband to support these technologies, time to learn and manage the data, and organization. In a panel hosted by Bayer, three farmers discussed exactly how utilizing FieldView during the 2020 growing and harvest season has helped them during this unique year.

While every year has its own challenges, 2020 brought on even more unknowns for farmers. In the spring of 2020 farmers did not know what supplies would be readily available or if their hired hands would even be able to come into work consistently. Like most challenges, they faced it head on and worked to the best of their ability. 

One farmer on the panel, Joe Haas from Nebraska, said he works alongside two elderly men who had to take extra precautions this spring during planting season. With the help of FieldView, Joe could keep his distance while still making sure the planter was set correctly, troubleshoot any issues, and watch them in the field by using the platform’s remote view. He even had some fun teaching them how to FaceTime. 

This is just one great upside to utilizing technology with agriculture. However what happens when you don’t have the technology support to adapt these practices? The panel also discussed the difficulties of living and farming in a rural area where connectivity is either spotty or nonexistent. With FieldView, farmers are able to work in a field and bring the device back to a connection and upload the information to the cloud. Granted, it does not allow for instant results during harvest, but farmers are still able to see the results and analytics once it has synced. 

Another farmer on the panel, Seth Lawrence from Indiana, also has a digital ag consulting firm in addition to running his farming operation. He said the broadband divide really affects his operation. Between the two counties he operates in, he can only access data in one of them. In the second county, he has to upload everything he does in the field to the cloud to access that information.  

Especially during the year 2020, the gap in connectivity for rural folks hinders work from home, school-age students, and the agriculture industry. Even though Bayer and Land O’Lakes have partnered to increase broadband connectivity in rural areas, these initiatives still take time. 

The last topic brought up in the farmer panel was conservation on the farm and the ability to track that through FieldView. For many farmers, the hesitation to switching conservation practices on their farm includes how it will affect profits and how they can track those changes. Nathan Reed from western Kentucky utilizes his FieldView platform to run experiments, scout his fields throughout the whole season, and see the results during harvest in real time. 

Reed has done experiments between minimal till and vertical till on his farm. “I think the fact that we can try so many different experiments, optimizing different inputs allows us to minimize the use of those inputs which is environmentally beneficial to everyone. We don’t want to be harmful to the environment, we don’t want to overspend money on crop inputs. So if we can use these tools to understand what works and what doesn’t, then I think we can minimize our environmental footprint,” said Reed.

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How to make Harvest 2020 your safest one yet

As farmers are either in the middle of harvest or getting ready to gear up for harvest this year, they have a lot of things on their to-do list. This year has had its own unique set of challenges, but Harvest 2020 doesn’t have to be one of them. While harvest can be hectic, it is important to remember the basics and take time for safety measures.

University of Illinois Extension offers these tips for a safe harvest:

Perform routine machinery upkeep ahead of schedule.

When the season gets busy, routine housekeeping is typically the first to fall off the to-do list. Take time to clean equipment. “Layers of dirt and dust can obscure the drivers view especially at sunrise and sunset, so take time to clean all cab windows,” says Josie RudolphiUniversity of Illinois Extension associate research scientist.

Test and repair all lights and markers.

Make sure all lights work and markings and reflectors are clean and clean or replace slow moving vehicle signs. Especially while driving at night, these lights and reflectors can call attention to farm equipment to unfamiliar drivers. 

Be cautious on public roads.

Since many drivers are unfamiliar with the size and maneuverability of farm equipment, operators should use hazards and turn signals diligently. Avoid moving equipment during peak traffic times. For example, shuffle equipment in the middle day to avoid people driving to and from work and school.

When yielding to oncoming traffic, slow down and be aware of soft shoulders. Avoid distractions, such as using cell phones when driving, and refrain from carrying passengers. Transportation incidents, including tractor overturns, are the leading cause of death for farm workers, according to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention.

Get adequate rest.

Harvest is often characterized by early mornings and late nights, and lack of sleep may add to accidents. To prevent fatigue, eat protein-packed snacks (and avoid junk food) to maintain energy throughout the day. Take short naps, frequent breaks, and energizing walks. 

Look overhead for electrical hazards.

Power lines pose dangers for large, tall, extended farm equipment. Be aware of overhead power lines and plan a safe route. Survey the environment before beginning work, taking note of power lines and their location before moving any equipment or extending augers.

“Always work with a spotter when operating large machinery near power lines,” Rudolphi urges. “Never attempt to move a power line out of the way or raise it for clearance.”

Learn more about sharing the road this harvest season from Extension educator Doug Gucker.

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Farmers & ranchers in the middle of a fight between Congress

For decades the Commodity Credit Corporation (CCC), with authorities granted by Congress, has provided funding to stabilize and support farm income and commodity prices through programs related to commodity and income support, conservation, export promotion, international food aid and disaster assistance, among others. Since 1987, the CCC has been replenished annually at $30 billion to fund many programs farmers rely on, such as Agriculture Risk Coverage, Price Loss Coverage, Dairy Margin Coverage, and the Conservation Reserve Program. However, this year it has yet to be replenished.

The continuing resolution scheduled to be voted on in the House of Representatives this week does not include a replenishment of the Commodity Credit Corporation. According to American Farm Bureau Federation, “Because CCC funds were used to help farmers and ranchers impacted by retaliatory tariffs and COVID-19 through the Market Facilitation Program and the Coronavirus Food Assistance Program, respectively, some in Congress are considering not immediately reimbursing the CCC via the expected continuing resolution to extend government funding.”

If a replenishment of CCC funds are not included in the continuing resolution, “Farm bill programs and payments expected to go out in early October would likely exhaust CCC resources by November. As a result, farm bill program payments after this point would be significantly delayed. With farm-level cash receipts at a decade-low, i.e., Farm Cash Receipts Forecasted to Hit a Decade-Low in 2020 and USDA’s Economic Research Service Releases Updated Farm Income Estimates, the lack of CCC resources would jeopardize farm income, farm profitability and conservation efforts,” according the the market report from Farm Bureau.

More than 40 agriculture-related associations sent a letter to Congressional leadership requesting they replenish the funding to the Commodity Credit Corporation. The letter stated, “More than ever, farmers and ranchers need the certainty and support provided by farm programs. Low commodity prices, unjustified retaliatory tariffs, natural disasters, and a global pandemic have placed a tremendous burden on farm country. USDA’s most recent farm income projections forecast that cash receipts will be at their lowest level in more than a decade. Coupled with rising farm debt and a decrease in working capital, producers face challenges not experienced in decades. As the industry continues to endure hardships during this unprecedented time, we urge you to include CCC reimbursement in a continuing resolution.”

Farm Bureau President Zippy Duvall said, “We’re disappointed that Congress has not reached an agreement on replenishing the Commodity Credit Corporation. For years, both parties have come together to ensure the CCC provides a safety net for America’s farmers and ranchers. A fully funded CCC is as important as ever as farmers are suffering through a pandemic, trade imbalances, and severe weather. We strongly encourage members of Congress to put their differences aside in order to address the needs of rural America.”

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Georgia Boot partners with 4-H through 2023 to support youth

For more than 100 years, 4-H has changed the lives of millions of young people through hands-on learning experiences that help build life skills like confidence, creativity, leadership, and resiliency. In an effort to continue that outreach, Georgia Boot is extending its partnership with 4-H by creating promotional programs that directly benefit 4-H clubs through August of 2023. 

Georgia Boot will offer promotions with select retail partners and via GeorgiaBoot.com with a portion of all sales from those promotions benefiting local and national 4-H programs. Georgia Boot has committed to a minimum donation of $75,000 in 2021, $75,000 in 2022 and $85,000 in 2023.

The program gives Georgia Boot customers the opportunity to support youth mentorship, research and community projects for the next generation of leaders in their own communities.

“4-H is a strong and proud organization dedicated to creating opportunity for young people while improving lives and communities across the country,” said Melissa Lewis, marketing manager for Georgia Boot. “After a successful launch to our partnership in 2019, we’re excited to expand our role and to provide a simple pathway for our loyal customers to support these essential 4-H programs.”

Through its network of over 100 public universities, 4-H’s research-backed programs reach young people through school and community clubs, in-school and after-school programs and 4-H camps. The life-changing 4-H experience is delivered by 3,500 4‑H professionals and 500,000 volunteers who serve every county and parish in the country. 4-H programs are peer-led, hands-on and community-focused with programming that is often customized to fit the needs of the local community.

“In 4-H, we believe in the power of young people and the key role they can play in creating a more promising and equitable future,” said Heather Elliott, Vice President of Resource Development, National 4-H Council. “Thanks to the support and partnership from organizations like Georgia Boot, we can help ensure even more young people have equal access to opportunities to reach their full potential.”

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