March 24, 2017

Biotech Guru Shares Thoughts and Takes Questions from Growers at the International Sugarbeet Institute – AUDIO

Leaders in the sugarbeet industry are gathered again today at the FargoDome for the final day of the 55th annual International Sugarbeet Institute.

Recently in San Antonio at Commodity Classic, Robert Fraley, executive vice president and chief technology officer at Monsanto, held a press conference with Adrian Percy, who heads up technology for Bayer Cropscience. They talked about the innovations that could be in store with a successful merger of their two companies.

Fraley and HalvorsonFraley has worked for Monsanto for over three decades, and oversees the company’s global technology division that covers a wide range of topics such as plant breeding, plant biotechnology, agriculture biologicals and microbials, precision agriculture and crop protection.

We shared a discussion with Fraley on the sidelines of the show at the FargoDome.

Take a Listen ——  Robb Fraley and Rusty Halvorson

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Senate Confirmation Hearing Starts Today For Sonny Perdue

Sonny_Perdue_at_rallyThe last member nominated to fill the Cabinet of President Donald trump will go before the Senate Ag Committee today.  Former Georgia Governor and nominee to becoming US Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue is scheduled to begin is long awaited questioning at 9 am central time Thursday.  Perdue will be introduced by his cousin and fellow republican, US Senator David Perdue, also of Georgia.

The lack of urgency behind Perdue’s nomination raised concerns in rural america, a major contributor to President Trumps Victory.  After being the last member nominated just a day before Trumps inauguration, it took another seven weeks for the nomination to become official and all the paperwork to be submitted.  Despite that, Perdue is expected to be confirmed fairly quickly.  Several major farm groups as well as previous Ag Secretary Tom Vilsack have all endorsed him leaving few major hurdles.  His business and professional experience is likely to aid the process.  Aside from serving as former governor, Perdue was trained as a veterinarian and also owned several commodity export and trading companies.  His ethics paperwork states he will unwind himself from involvement in Perdue Management Holdings LLC and Perdue Business Holdings Inc.

If confirmed, analysts caution Perdue’s job won’t be easy.  He’s taking the reins of a industry that has struggled the past few years and is facing the crafting of a new farm bill.  Trade disputes and rising rhetoric with major trade partners Canada, Mexico, and China will also be big challenges.  Perdue will have to manage all this with a base that feels neglected and a proposed budget that would leave his agency with the lowest discretionary funds since 1988.

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US Farmers Receiving Less Of Each Dollar Spent On Food

2015 food dollar marketing bill_fed-01_450pxA study released late last week by USDA’s Economic Research Service shows that for the fourth year in a row, US Farmers received less of each dollar spent on domestically produced foods.  Those include foods purchased at grocery stores and grown in the US as well as those purchased at restaurants, coffee shops, and other eating establishments.  The data ran only through 2015, but showed a steeply declining curve in the amount of money coming back to the nations farmers.

The data released shows the amount of each dollar going back to the nations producers peaked in 2008 at just under 18 cents.  While the percentage increased slightly from 2009 to 2011, it never made it back to pre-recession levels and fell by 1.6 cents from 2014 to 2015.  The reduction coincided with four consecutive years of increases in the share of food dollars going to services within the food industry.  USDA concluded that the increasing costs of preparing and serving meals is also driving down the share going to farmers.

The decline also came during a sharp fall in the farm good PPI, or producer price index.  That index measures the average change in prices received by producers, meaning that while prices were declining, US farmers were also receiving a small share of the lower amount.

The study comes as part of an ongoing food dollar series, with USDA illustrating the relationship between the nations consumers, US farmers, and the processing industries.  More information and several other studies can be found at ers.usda.gov/data-products/food-dollar-series

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