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Trump to pardon two Minnesota turkeys for Thanksgiving

On Tuesday two Minnesota turkeys will receive a special pardon from President Donald J. Trump  — they will be getting a “Gobblers Rest” from this year’s Thanksgiving holiday. This year marks the 70th anniversary of the National Thanksgiving Turkey presentation, where the President reflects on our Nation’s rich Thanksgiving traditions and wishes American families a safe and healthy holiday.

After the pardoning, the turkeys will join last year’s turkeys at Virginia Tech’s “Gobblers Rest” exhibit, where students and veterinarians care for the turkeys, and the public can visit and learn about the university’s teaching, research, and outreach programs in animal and poultry sciences and veterinary medicine.

Both birds were raised in Western Minnesota under the supervision of National Turkey Federation Chairman Carl Wittenburg and his wife Sharlene, along with five young women from the Douglas County 4-H chapter.

The National Turkey Federation will also bring two turkeys from Jaindl’s Turkey Farm of Orefield, Pennsylvania, for the First Family to donate. The First Family will donate the turkeys to Martha’s Table in Washington, D.C.

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House passage of Tax Cuts and Jobs Act gets cheers from ag

The U.S. House approval of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act is a step in the right direction, according to several agricultural groups and U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue.

Perdue hailed the House of Representatives’ passage of historic tax cuts and reforms as an important step toward providing much-needed relief to Americans, creating jobs, and boosting the economy.

“We haven’t had an overhaul of the burdensome federal tax code since the mid-1980s and it is well past time to provide needed relief to workers and families. The people of agriculture dedicate their lives to putting food on the table for their fellow citizens and they deserve to keep more of what they earn from their labors,” Perdue said. “I applaud President Trump for his leadership in driving the debate and clearing a path for historic and significant tax cuts and reforms, just as I am pleased to see the sense of urgency with which Congress is moving toward a solution. The result will be more money in people’s pockets, more jobs created, and a more vibrant American economy.”

“Today’s passage of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act (H.R. 1) by the House of Representatives puts us one step closer to a tax code that works for all farmers and ranchers,” Zippy Duvall, president, American Farm Bureau Federation. “Lower rates combined with the preservation of small business expensing, like-kind exchanges and the business deduction for state and local taxes are just a few of the things we are pleased to see in this legislation. We look forward to working with the Senate to build on this success in the coming weeks.”

Craig Uden, president of the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association and fourth-generation Nebraska cattle producer, said the group applauds the death-tax repeal, but vows to keep on working on the “problematic” interest decuctibility provision.  

“House approval of this comprehensive tax-reform legislation is a step in the right direction, but we will continue to work hard to make sure that final legislation doesn’t include provisions that would create undue and unfair burdens for certain segments of our industry,” Uden said. “Specifically, this bill would immediately double the death-tax exemption and put the tax on the path to extinction in five years. That’s a major victory for family ranchers and cattle producers. The bill also fully preserves the step-up in basis, allows businesses to immediately and fully expense the cost of new investments, increases Section 179 small-business expensing limits, and expands cash accounting. These are all victories for cattle producers.

“Unfortunately, the House-passed bill would also significantly limit the ability of some businesses from deducting their interest expenses. This could be a big problem for some members of the cattle-production business. We’ve worked closely with Members of Congress to address this issue, and we’ll continue to work tirelessly to fix this problematic provision as this legislation moves forward in the Senate and toward a House-Senate conference committee.”

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Monsanto making great strides in being carbon neutral by 2021

Back in December 2015, Monsanto made a commitment to be carbon neutral by 2021, and after making several operational improvements and utilizing climate-smart modern agriculture tools and practices, the company has already got a good jump start at it. For example, Monsanto has already reduced its carbon footprint by more than 200,000 metric tons — a reduction that is roughly equal to burning 200 million pounds less coal.

The company expects the rate of these reductions to accelerate over the next several years and is collaborating with farmers, NGOs, and global partners to encourage the adoption of climate-smart practices across the agriculture industry.

“Farmers have been, and will continue to be, a positive force in adapting to and mitigating climate change,” said Hugh Grant, Monsanto chairman and chief executive officer. “We’ve made progress in the reduction of our own carbon footprint, we want to lead by example and demonstrate the enormous potential that modern agriculture has in shrinking the industry’s global carbon footprint. Great strides have already been made, but to sustainably meet the food, fuel, and fiber needs of 9.6 billion people by 2050, we must work collectively to do even more.”

Courtesy of Monsanto

Monsanto’s approach for achieving carbon neutrality focuses on three main areas: 1) internal operations, including seed production; 2) breakthrough products; and, 3) joint efforts with farmers and global partners.

A common denominator across Monsanto’s approach is the role of crops and healthy soil in adapting to and mitigating climate change. Working with outside experts in data science on extensive modeling, Monsanto has demonstrated that certain modern agriculture practices and innovations can reduce emissions and enable crops to be grown in a way that absorbs and stores greenhouse gases in the soil in amounts equal to or greater than the total amount of gases emitted from producing those crops.

“Many of the practices that reduce greenhouse gas emissions are quite beneficial for preserving natural resources, enhancing the efficiency of utilization of nutrients and positively impacting water and air quality,” says Debbie Reed, Executive Director of the Coalition on Agricultural Greenhouse Gases. “Increasing soil health and soil carbon is one major way that we can reduce greenhouse gases, and agriculture clearly has a role to play there. It’s related not only to natural resources, but our ability to feed and sustain growing populations all over the world. There’s an interconnectivity there that is fairly unique to the agricultural sector.”

Internal Operations

By adopting climate smart crop production practices, such as conservation tillage and cover crops, contract growers have already reduced greenhouse gas emissions from the company’s contract seed growing operations by 85 percent, keeping and removing nearly 145,000 metric tons of greenhouse gases from the atmosphere each year. The company aims to reduce emissions from its seed production operations to zero.

Within its own facilities and manufacturing operations, Monsanto has:

  • Pledged to reduce greenhouse gas emissions intensity by 22 percent from crop protection operations by 2020 – and has already achieved 89 percent of that goal.
  • Made investments in energy efficiency, cleaner and renewable energy, improved logistics and other projects, which reduced greenhouse gas emissions by nearly 80,000 metric tons.

Breakthrough Products

Among the most promising avenues for achieving its carbon neutral goal and helping to reduce the overall footprint of agriculture, are the breakthrough products Monsanto has introduced. The company is working internally and with experts to quantify the greenhouse gas reduction value of these products.

  • Acceleron B-300 SAT. Corn treated with Acceleron B-300 SAT, the first jointly-produced product from the BioAg Alliance, a partnership between Monsanto and Novozymes, was planted on more than 4 million acres in just its first year of availability. Biological products like Acceleron B-300 SAT can increase nutrient availability, which can lead to enhanced root and shoot development, supporting greater stress tolerance and earlier, more uniform development, leading to an increased yield potential and better ability to absorb and store carbon.
  • Climate FieldView. The Climate Corporation, a subsidiary of Monsanto, offers the Climate FieldView platform, which among other digital insights provides a variety of data-driven digital tools to help farmers better understand the variability in their fields so they can optimize the placement of key inputs to improve on-farm productivity. Notably, Climate FieldView offers fertility management tools to help farmers use nitrogen more efficiently, reducing potential impacts from greenhouse gas emissions.

Joint Efforts with Farmers and Global Partners

Monsanto is also investing in field development trials and joint efforts with several agriculture retail partners to provide more than 100 U.S. on-farm trials and learning experiences with modern agriculture practices (use of cover crops, digital tools, and reduced tillage) that allow farmers to play an increased role in environmental stewardship and be recognized for their efforts. The company will survey the participants to measure outcomes.

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