July 23, 2016

Finding the Balance in Sustainable Agriculture – The Triple Bottom Line

More U.S. food companies are focused on sustainable agriculture — and believe the ag retail sector is a crucial partner in scaling sustainability.

Land O’Lakes, Inc. on Wednesday announced the formal organization of a new business unit, SUSTAIN, and its leadership.

SUSTAIN was developed in cooperation with United Suppliers (USI).

General Mills, Smithfield Foods, Campbell Soup Company and now Kellogg’s are advocating SUSTAIN in their sourcing regions. The ultimate goal of the project is to work with farmers along all points in the food supply chain to reduce fertilizer runoff, safeguard the environment, and ensure farm productivity.

The SUSTAIN business will be led by Matt Carstens, who has moved to Land O’Lakes, Inc. to serve as senior vice president.


Land O’Lakes, Inc., which recently announced a new public-private partnership with the State of Minnesota to protect and improve water quality across the state, brings a strong and evolving commitment to do more with less while helping feed a growing global population.

USI is a cooperative of 560 locally owned and controlled agricultural retailers who operate nearly 2,500 retail locations, and who serve growers spanning 45 million acres in the U.S. and Canada. USI’s SUSTAIN platform has been helping growers across the country train ag retailers in using proven, effective technologies, practices, and products to improve their soil health practices. The ag retail staff then shares this knowledge with the growers they serve, so the potential for bringing sustainability to scale is tremendous.

USI’s goal is to have 10 million acres enrolled in SUSTAIN by 2020. This represents the largest agricultural sustainability commitment by any agribusiness or food company to date.



Wheat Associates Installs New Board Of Directors At Summer Meeting

USW Officers were installed at the organization's Board of Directors meeting July 20, 2016, in Fargo, ND. Left to right: Roy Motter, Brawley, CA, rotated off the officer roster as 2015/16 Past Chairman; Brian O'Toole, Crystal, ND, is now 2016/17 Past Chairman; Jason Scott, Easton, MD, is now 2016/17 Chairman; Chris Kolstad of Ledger, MT, is now 2016/17 Secretary-Treasurer; Alan Tracy has served as USW President since 1997.

USW Officers were installed at the organization’s Board of Directors meeting July 20, 2016, in Fargo, ND. Left to right: Roy Motter, Brawley, CA, rotated off the officer roster as 2015/16 Past Chairman; Brian O’Toole, Crystal, ND, is now 2016/17 Past Chairman; Jason Scott, Easton, MD, is now 2016/17 Chairman; Chris Kolstad of Ledger, MT, is now 2016/17 Secretary-Treasurer; Alan Tracy has served as USW President since 1997.

The U.S. Wheat Associates (USW) Board of Directors installed new officers at its annual meeting July 20, 2016, in Fargo, ND. Jason Scott of Easton, MD, was installed as Chairman, while last year’s Chairman Brian O’Toole of Crystal, ND, transitioned to Past Chairman and Chairman of the USW Budget Committee. Other officers installed included Mike Miller of Ritzville, WA, as Vice Chairman and Chris Kolstad of Ledger, MT, as Secretary-Treasurer. USW officers were elected to these one-year positions at the January 2016 Winter Wheat Conference in Washington, DC.

Jason Scott is a sixth generation wheat farmer from Maryland’s Eastern Shore, where he is farm manager of Walnut Hill Farms and produces soft red winter (SRW) wheat, row crops and vegetables. He is also an Independent Sales Representative for Pioneer Hi-Bred Int’l, under the title Scott’s Seed, L.L.C. Scott is a founding member of the Dorchester County Young Farmers, past president of the Maryland Grain Producers Utilization Board and the Maryland Grain Producers Association. In 2011, he won the Maryland Young Farmers Achievement Award. In his seven years on the USW Board, Scott has represented his state and USW on two board team delegations to Africa and Europe and served as Secretary-Treasurer and Vice Chairman as well as on several USW committees. He and his wife Dr. Casey Scott have a young daughter.

Mike Miller is a fourth generation farmer who operates a dryland wheat farm and grows multiple crops on a separate, irrigated farm in east central Washington. He has served on many local, state and national boards, and is in his third term on the Washington Grain Commission and his fifth year as a USW director representing Washington. Miller is also very active in supporting wheat research and development. He and his wife, Marci, have three children.

Chris Kolstad is the fourth generation of his family to farm in Montana’s “Golden Triangle” region. He and his wife Vicki have four children, including their son Cary who is a partner in their operation. They grow hard red winter (HRW) wheat, dark northern spring wheat and durum, plus barley and dry peas. A commissioner of the Montana Wheat and Barley Committee, Kolstad has represented his state on the USW board since 2012. He is also a member of the Montana Grain Growers Association and Montana Farm Bureau. His community leadership includes serving on his local school board, as treasurer of his family’s church and as a regular blood donor who has given almost 19 gallons of blood since 1972.

Brian O’Toole is the president of T.E. O’Toole Farm Seed Company. He and his wife Sara have four children and raise wheat, edible beans and sugarbeets on their northeast North Dakota farm. O’Toole is an experienced agricultural and community leader. He serves on the North Dakota Wheat Commission, on the board of the Wheat Marketing Center in Portland, OR, and is Chairman of SBARE Wheat Granting Committee. He is also past president of the North Dakota Crop Improvement and Seed Association and past president of Crystal Farmers Elevator Co-op. O’Toole has received the Young Outstanding Farmer Award, Master Farmer Award and Friends of 4-H Award. He has served as Secretary-Treasurer and Vice Chairman of USW.

Also during the USW board meeting, committees met on Monday, July 18, and Tuesday, July 19, including the Joint Biotechnology and Joint International Trade Policy committees that operate in conjunction with the National Association of Wheat Growers (NAWG). Official business was called to order Tuesday, July 19, and continued through Wednesday, July 20.

Reports to the board included a welcome from North Dakota Lieutenant Governor Drew Wrigley, background on local production and policy from the Agriculture Commissioner of North Dakota, Doug Goehring, and a review of market factors that could change the dynamics of the world wheat market from Mike Krueger, President of The Money Farm. The board also heard an update on trade relations with Cuba from Tyler Jameson, Legislative Assistant to Sen. Heidi Heitkamp (D-ND), USW Regional Vice President Mitch Skalicky and Assistant Director of Policy Ben Conner. The farmer directors from 18 states also heard from Vance Taylor, President and General Manager of the North Dakota Mill and Elevator Association in Grand Forks, ND, about the history and output of the only state-owned milling facility in the United States.

USW’s next Board meeting will be held jointly with NAWG in Denver, CO, Nov. 2 to 5, 2016.


Separating Wheat from Chaff in the Next Farm Bill – Getting an Early Start

The GOP approved its 2016 platform earlier this week at its convention in Cleveland, and analysis by news outlet “Politico” says the 58-page document is pretty consistent with prior GOP criticism of the farm bill.

Among the changes it suggests Republican lawmakers should champion: speed up the process for passing a farm bill, split off food stamps, and take a more measured approach to crop insurance.

National Association of Wheat Growers CEO Chandler Goule says his staff is gearing up for the looming debate on Capitol Hill for the next farm bill. The group will shape its policy priorities during the 2016 Fall Wheat Conference in Denver, Colorado, November 2nd-5th.

We spoke with Goule on the sidelines of the U.S. Wheat Associates summer board meeting in Fargo.chandler

Goule on the Farm Bill

This year’s election means that Committee assignments on Capitol Hill will likely be shuffled ahead of the next farm bill debate. Goule says his group intends to educate any newcomers, and reconnect with farm policy veterans.

Goule on Committee

The Democratic National Convention gets underway on Monday in Philadelphia. There’s been speculation on Capitol Hill that Ag Secretary Tom Vilsack may be a “top tier” candidate on the short list to become Hillary Clinton’s running mate.

Donald Trump late last week tapped Indiana Governor Mike Pence as his VP pick. During his time in Congress, Pence served on the House Ag Committee.  Pence will headline the GOP speeches Wednesday night before Trump closes the convention Thursday.