July 24, 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.



Beef Checkoff Goals Laid Out At Summer Business Meeting – AUDIO

BeefCheckLogoState beef council leaders were in abundance when the cattle industry held its 2016 Summer Business Meeting in Denver last week. Tracy Brunner, president of the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association, says the leaders played a key role in checkoff committee meetings that helped lay the groundwork for checkoff programs that would begin in about two months.

As representatives of the Federation of State Beef Councils, the producers were demonstrating the value of the state/national partnership that is the foundation for the Beef Checkoff Program…

Brunner 1

Because the checkoff is a grassroots program, each state determines its own plans and priorities…

Brunner 2

Brunner says that in addition to their participation in the Federation of State Beef Councils, state beef councils have a key role in making sure the $1-per-head Beef Checkoff Program is successful…tape

Brunner 3

The state leaders who are Federation of State Beef Council directors joined with Cattlemen’s Beef Board members in the checkoff committee meetings to begin developing programs for the 2017 fiscal year, which begins October 1.

Projects conducted by the beef checkoff must be approved by the Cattlemen’s Beef Board and the U.S. Department of Agriculture before they’re implemented.


Early Scrutiny of Corn Seed Selection for 2017 – Conventional vs. Traits

A 3-year decline in major crop prices has stunted the expansion of genetically modified crops on U.S. farm fields, according to USDA. Farmers had rapidly devoted fields to GMO varieties over the past decade, but the trend appears to have hit a plateau.

Low crop prices have forced farmers to scrutinize spending, in some cases driving them to cheaper, non-biotech seeds. While that approach could garner a premium as food companies seek non-GMO ingredients – trimming seed costs by selecting conventional seed could lead to disaster.

We visited with Mycogen Seeds commercial agronomist John Long from western Iowa. He says traits protect the crop’s potential, so in most seasons – the value of traits outweighs the risk of reduced yield and crop loss.

Long on Risks

According to USDA, farmers this spring planted 92 percent of all corn acres with biotech varieties and 94 percent of all soybean acres.   For seed choice next season – Long has some advice.

Long on Choices

USDA’s Economic Research Service projects this year’s corn production costs at nearly $700 per acre, with seed purchases among the top investments.

Growers can maximize their seed investments by evaluating management zones in each field and forming a planting population plan for each zone. Long says growers should designate “A” zones for the top producing acres, “B” and “C” zones for lower producing areas in the field.

Long on Zones

Long encourages producers to visit with their Mycogen Seeds commercial agronomist or local seed professional to match the right product to their fields.

Long on Mycogen PowerCore

More information on seed hybrid selection for 2017 and Agronomy Answers can be found online at www.mycogen.com.