Francis and Susan Thicke honored as 2012 MOSES Organic Farmers of the Year PDF Print E-mail
News Releases - Agribusiness
Written by Greg Leaf   
Friday, 24 February 2012 14:40
La Crosse, WI – The 2012 Midwest Organic and Sustainable Education Service (MOSES) Organic Farmer of the Year honorees are Francis and Susan Thicke, owners and operators of Radiance Dairy in Fairfield, IA.

Since 2003, the annual MOSES Organic Farmer of the Year Award has been presented to an outstanding organic farmer or farm family to recognize those who practice outstanding land stewardship, innovation and outreach. This honor is commemorated during the annual MOSES Organic Farming Conference in La Crosse, which is the largest organic farming conference in the country. Held February 23-25, 2012, the Organic Farming Conference is in its 23rd year.

Francis and Susan Thicke will share with conference attendees their successful philosophies and strategies on the evening of Thursday, February 23. The Organic Farmer of the Year award will be officially presented to the Thickes at 10:30 am Friday, February 24.

Francis and Susan purchased their land in 1996, taking on the challenge of healing a worn out and heavily eroded row crop farm. Intense management over many years has resulted in productive land and continually improving soils.

Francis recommends that farmers “listen to your inner agronomist, not be so tied to pre-conceived notions, and be more fluid” in making management decisions.

Using sound science and their intuition of what is right for both land and animals, the Thickes’ farming style is fun and functional. The natural world and its numerous ecological systems are a continuous source of inspiration and learning for them.

Radiance Dairy is in a location well suited for growing grass and raising cattle. The Thickes maximize their grazing by stockpiling grass, with cows out on pasture April through December.

A crop rotation including hay and small grains minimizes weed pressure, and the Thickes sometimes need only to cultivate once per season to keep their soybean crop clean. Diverse plantings in and near pastures are designed for conservation, including windbreaks of fruiting trees and shrubs for wildlife habitat.

The Thickes serve as the “community dairy” of this Southeastern Iowa college town, marketing the production of their 80-cow organic Jersey herd within four miles of the farm.

Value-added products are key to the farm’s profitability.  Radiance Dairy organic products include non-homogenized milk, yogurt, several cheeses, and soft-serve ice cream mix for restaurants.

By educating others through example, teaching at events and participating in political activities, Francis and Susan Thicke help to build regional and national public support of organic agriculture.

MOSES is a non-profit organization working to promote sustainable and organic agriculture through trainings, workshops, educational initiatives, and by providing free resources to farmers striving to produce high-quality, healthful food using organic and sustainable techniques.

Lawlor honored with lifetime achievement award PDF Print E-mail
News Releases - Agribusiness
Written by Janelle Keeffer   
Tuesday, 21 February 2012 09:47

Christine (Chris) Lawlor-White was honored with the Lifetime Achievement Award presented by the Illinois Grape Growers & Vintners Association at their recent three-day annual conference held at the Crowne Plaza in Springfield. More than 250 growers, vintners, and enthusiasts from all across Illinois gathered to learn new techniques from experts from as far as Texas and California. The event culminated with a six-course gourmet food and wine pairing dinner and awards ceremony.

Lawlor-White, winemaker and co-owner at Galena Cellars Vineyard & Winery, received her formal degree in enology and viticulture from Fresno State University. She graduated in 1976 as one of the first women in the United States to earn a degree in enology.  She opened her first winery in McGregor, Iowa, in 1976 where she produced 500 gallons of Cherry Wine. Two years later, she moved to Lacrosse, Wisconsin, expanding her operations. In 1985, she found her home in Galena, Illinois and opened Galena Cellars with her parents and brother, Scott.

Chris is currently responsible for crafting more than 40 varieties and 60,000 gallons of wine annually. She is an expert in not only the science of winemaking but also the art of blending varietals to make distinctive wines. One of her greatest contributions to Illinois Wine Industry is her role in promoting the quality and acceptance of Illinois Wine in the state and nationally. She was honored three times as IGGVA’s “Winemaker of the Year”—in 2001, 2006 and 2007.

The Illinois Grape Growers and Vintners Association, established in 1992, is a non-profit organization dedicated to developing the viticulture and enology interests of Illinois through information exchange and cooperation among Illinois grape producers and vintners.  The Illinois wine industry has exploded in recent years, growing from just 12 wineries in 1997 to more than 90 today. During this time, the acreage devoted to grape production has grown at a tremendous rate, and today Illinois is consistently among the top 12 wine-producing states.  Today the Illinois wine industry creates a direct economic impact of more than $319 million annually. The wineries that span Illinois have also brought with them a host of charming bed and breakfasts and local craft businesses. The Illinois Grape Growers and Vintners Association predicts continued growth in the coming years as more visitors discover the genuine culture of Illinois Wine Country.

Galena Cellars Vineyard, in rural Galena, Illinois, is home to 22 different specialty grapes, many of which are hybrids developed by universities throughout the country in an effort to create a vine and grape with the hardiness needed to grow in this region. The vineyard is open to the public April through November for tours, tastings and special events. Galena Cellars also offers tasting rooms, wine patios and gift shops in downtown Galena and Geneva, Illinois.


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USB Sets Sights On Ways to Provide More Profit Opportunities For U.S. Soybean Farmers PDF Print E-mail
News Releases - Agribusiness
Written by United Soybean Board   
Tuesday, 21 February 2012 09:32

The United Soybean Board (USB) will hold its next meeting Feb. 21–24 in Biloxi, Miss., to measure progress on soy-checkoff-funded efforts to increase demand for U.S. soy and strategize on new ones that can help keep U.S. soybean farmers profitable. The 69 farmer-directors have four objectives for the U.S. soy research and promotion program:  increase the value of U.S. soybean meal and oil; ensure U.S. soybean farmers have the freedom and transportation infrastructure to operate; and meet the changing needs of U.S. soy customers.

USB welcomes all members of the media to attend the open sessions, beginning at 8:00 a.m. on Feb. 21. A copy of the full meeting agenda is available upon request.
Feb. 21-24, 2012, 8:00 a.m.–5:00 p.m. Central
LOCATION Beau Rivage
875 Beach Boulevard
Biloxi, MS 39530

If you would like to preschedule an interview or cannot attend and would like to schedule a phone interview, please call Erin Hamm at (888) 235-4332 or e-mail your request to This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it .
Erin Hamm with USB Communications, (314) 412-6982

U.S., China Sign Plan of Strategic Cooperation in Agriculture PDF Print E-mail
News Releases - Agribusiness
Written by USDA Communications   
Tuesday, 21 February 2012 09:17

Des Moines, Iowa, Feb. 16, 2012—Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack and China’s Minister of Agriculture Han Changfu today signed an historic Plan of Strategic Cooperation that will guide the two countries’ agricultural relationship for the next 5 years. The plan was signed as part of the U.S.-China Agricultural Symposium held today at the World Food Prize Hall of Laureates. The symposium focused on bilateral cooperation in the areas of food safety, food security and sustainable agriculture, as well as enhanced business relationships between the two countries.


“This symposium and plan are a product of a vision I share with my dear old friend Minister Han for the United States and China to work more collaboratively in the future to benefit our nations and agriculture around the world,” Vilsack said.


“This plan builds on the already strong relationship our nations enjoy around agricultural science, trade, and education. It looks to deepen our cooperation through technical exchange and to strengthen coordination in priority areas like animal and plant health and disease, food security, sustainable agriculture, genetic resources, agricultural markets and trade, and biotechnology and other emerging technologies,” he added.


Xi Jinping, China's vice president, opened the symposium and stressed the importance China places on supporting farmers and rural development, as well as on food security.


“China attaches great importance to food security, and ensuring a sufficient food supply for 1.3 billion people,” Xi said.


In the 2011 fiscal year, China became the top market for U.S. agricultural goods, purchasing $20 billion in U.S. agricultural exports. The value of U.S. farm exports to China supported more than 160,000 American jobs in 2011, on and off the farm across a variety of sectors.



Eastern Iowa Hay Producers Association Annual Meeting & Conference To Feature Dr. Brink PDF Print E-mail
News Releases - Agribusiness
Written by Denise Schwab   
Tuesday, 21 February 2012 09:09
Area hay and forage producers are invited to attend the 29th Annual Eastern Iowa Hay Producers Association Annual Meeting and Conference on Thursday, March 8, 2012 at Buzzy’s in Welton. Registration will begin at 10:00 a.m. with the program scheduled to begin at 10:30 a.m.

This year’s conference features Dr. Geoff Brink, Research Agronomist at the US Dairy Forage Research Center. The title of his presentation is "Growing, Harvesting, and Storing Cool-Season Perennial Grasses". Brink will discuss management practices to get the most from often-neglected forage that is experiencing resurgence in interest. Dr. Brink’s research interests include quality of grazed and harvested grass and legume forages; sward structure - dairy cow utilization relationships in rotationally-grazed pastures; management and persistence of legumes in pastures; and management effects on temperate grass productivity.

Brian Lang, ISU Extension & Outreach forage agronomist, will discuss alfalfa production and management. Other speakers include Virgil Schmitt, ISU Extension Field Agronomist, and Denise Schwab, ISU Extension Beef Specialist, with regional updates.

The annual meeting of the Eastern Iowa Hay Producers Association (EIHPA) will take place shortly after lunch and will include their election of officers and directors.

Registration for the conference is $30 and includes a membership to EIHPA and meal. Tickets can be purchased at the door. Certified crop advisor credits have been applied for. This conference is sponsored by EIHPA, Iowa State University Extension & Outreach, and the Iowa Beef Center.

The Eastern Iowa Hay Producers Association provides educational workshops and field days for forage producers in Jackson, Jones, Clinton, Cedar, Scott and Muscatine counties. However, forage producers from other counties are also welcome to participate. For more information contact Denise Schwab at This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it or Kevin Brown at This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it or


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