November 24, 2015

Groups Applaud FDA for GMO Guidance

The National Council of Farmer Cooperatives applauded the decision of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration to reject a petition for mandatory labeling of foods containing genetically modified ingredients.
“In denying this petition, the FDA once again looked at the research on GMOs and reaffirmed what every reputable scientific study on these products has found—that GMOs are safe and not different in any meaningful way from foods produced without this breeding technology,” said Chuck Conner, president and CEO of NCFC. “This decision opens the way for further congressional action on legislation that will provide a verifiable, process-based and federal voluntary GMO labeling standard that will expand consumer choice in the marketplace and provide consistency and certainty across the country. Legislation should also prevent states from creating their own labeling standards, such as Vermont has done, that have no basis in science and would create an untenable, 50-state patchwork of standards.”

The American Soybean Association welcomes guidance issued by the Food and Drug Administration that establishes guidelines for the uniform, voluntary labeling for non-GMO foods. Establishing a uniform standard for voluntary labeling has been a key part of ASA’s push to reduce consumer confusion about which foods do and do not contain ingredients derived from biotechnology.
“ASA is happy to see the guidance from FDA today that affirms that voluntary rather than mandatory labeling is the correct science-based and health policy,” said ASA President and Texas farmer Wade Cowan. “This concept has been at the heart of our work on a legislative solution that would provide more clarity to consumers, and we’re encouraged to see that part of the process move forward.”
ASA also pointed to news out of the White House that the administration has rejected a petition calling for the mandatory labeling of GMO’s as indication that the discussion on biotechnology in the consumer marketplace is moving according to science, rather than misconception.

The National Corn Growers Association also thanked the U.S. Food and Drug Administration for issuing science-based, reasonable guidance on voluntary labeling for foods with ingredients from genetically engineered sources. This guidance, which importantly stresses that the Agency only has purview to require mandatory labels in the case of material difference, addresses consumer interests with a clear outline of recommendations for food companies wishing to label their products.

“The FDA’s approach to voluntary labeling of food products would provide American consumers with truthful information in a clear manner that respects regulatory processes already in place,” said NCGA President Chip Bowling, a farmer from Newburg, Maryland. “In maintaining a science- and process-based approach to mandatory labels while laying out a thoughtful, conscientious path for voluntary labeling, the FDA stood firmly both with the people who grow our food and those who buy it. A voluntary labeling system, like the one outlined, provides information that would allow consumers to make choices based in facts and not in fear.”


Local Operators Among Finalists for AGCO Honors

AGCO Corporation has chosen four top operators as finalists for AGCO’s 10th Annual “Operator of the Year” program, recognizing some of the best custom applicators in North America. Two of the four men hail from the Dakotas.

Conor Bergin, tactical marketing manager of AGCO Application Equipment, says, “This is the 10th year of the program, and the ag retailers provided us with nominations of professionals who are not only excellent at what they do and hard working, but also consistently go above and beyond expectations and are very involved in their communities. The AGCO Operator of the Year award recognizes top professional applicators whose work often goes overlooked but is essential to farmers and ensures they achieve the best yield possible.”

The 10th Annual Operator of the Year four finalists, nominated based on their skills, dedication, customer service and community involvement —

Curtis FickCurtis Fick, South Dakota Wheat Growers, Carpenter, S.D. – Known for his attention to detail, precision and always going above and beyond to exceed customer expectations, Fick covers an average of 40,000 acres every year. Fick volunteers for local events, regularly helps out at his church and is part of the local fire rescue team. “Curtis is an outstanding operator and takes great pride in the work he does. He is very particular about each task, treating each field as if it were his own,” stated Mike Madsen of South Dakota Wheat Growers. “Curtis has gone three years without a spray claim and his precise application has gained the trust and reliance of many producers in the area.”

“I was shocked when I found out I was selected as a finalist for AGCO’s Operator of the Year,” said Fick. “Nothing like this has ever happened to me. And, I had no idea the award is nationwide.”

Brian Manolovits, Wilbur Ellis, Mott, N.D. – With nine years as aBrian Manolovits custom applicator and the head of the Environmental Health and Safety program at his branch, Manolovits continuously goes above and beyond to meet any deadline. While he typically applies about 20,000 acres each year, this year he successfully completed 30,000 acres in three months. Manolovits is a member of the Mott Volunteer Fire Brigade, serving as the training officer, helped organize the Pee Wee football program in his community, and has organized several motorcycle ride benefits for families going through difficult times. He also was a member of the North Dakota National Guard for more than nine years and served 15 months overseas in Operation Iraqi Freedom II.

“Brian takes great pride in the quality of his work,” stated Derek Mayer of Wilbur Ellis. “If he sees a problem or issue in a customer’s field, he always calls the customer or lets his manager know.”

“It was quite a surprise to learn I am a finalist,” said Kestel. “I didn’t even know I had been nominated until my boss told me I had been chosen as a finalist.”

Dennis Rigney, Crop Production Services (CPS), Rochester, Ind. – Covering an impressive 50,000 acres a year with skill, precision and speed, Rigney has experience with a wide variety of crops and farming practices, making him the go-to-guy at his branch. Rigney is active with his grandsons’ sports teams, and volunteers at the local community building. “Dennis is the definition of a professional applicator,” stated Jeff Parry of Crop Production Services. “He is continually expanding his knowledge of agricultural practices and equipment by attending training events and learning new ways to improve efficiencies and results.”

Tom Kestel, Ag Partners LLC, Alta, Iowa – With 14 years of experience, Kestel applies 35,000 acres per year and has established a reputation as the “go-to guy” for custom application. He enjoys mentoring new operators in the company and always has his machines field-ready the night before. Kestel volunteers in the community and is active in his church. “If we could clone Tom, I could guarantee you that we would never have a field complaint again,” stated Brian Nepple of Ag Partners LLC. “Tom effectively gives up his spring, summers and falls to work in the field and we never so much as hear a negative word from him.”


Value-Added Funding Grants for NoDak Agribusinesses

USDA Rural Development state director for North Dakota Ryan Taylor today announced $124,000 in grants to three North Dakota recipients. The funding is provided through USDA’s Value-Added Producer Grant program.

“The grant program provides capital to enable ag producers to grow their business through diversification,” said Taylor. “This support is helping to expand market opportunities and develop new products, which will increase revenue for the businesses.”

The following recipients will receive funding.

Golden Growers Cooperative: $75,000 grant. The cooperative seeks to develop new facilities for processing corn grain into higher value products. The grant will be used to conduct a feasibility study of processing corn grain into value-added products such as: gluten-free flour, specialty food additives, low calorie sweeteners, higher-value animal feed, and biochemical feedstocks.

Aspen Aquaponics (Bottineau): $25,182 grant. Aquaponics is a food production system that combines aquaculture, which mainly is raising fish, with hydroponics, which is growing vegetables and flowers, in a closed loop system. The grant will help establish the business as a year-round supplier of fresh produce. Funding will be targeted in the areas of marketing, packaging and distribution of produce.

Meadowlark Granary (Bottineau): $24,000 grant. The business produces whole wheat flour, baking kits, wholegrain breads, bread crumbs and croutons from hard red spring wheat grown on a local family farm. Meadowlark seeks to grow their customer base, increase revenue and expand production. The grant funding will be used to improve packaging and labeling, vending fees, advertising, web design and other production and marketing expenses.

Value-Added Producer Grants may be used for feasibility studies or business plans, working capital for marketing value-added agricultural products and for farm-based renewable energy projects. Value-added products are created when a producer increases the consumer value of an agricultural commodity in the production or processing stage. Further information on rural programs is available at a local USDA Rural Development office or by visiting USDA Rural Development’s web site at