Agribusiness
CHOOSING SANITY OVER SNAILS PDF Print E-mail
News Releases - Agribusiness
Written by Laurie Johns   
Wednesday, 11 January 2012 13:02

It’s perfectly understandable why so many folks care how farmers care for the land; it doesn’t just need to be protected because it feeds us, but because our fertile soils and watersheds always have and always will be Iowa’s most valuable asset.

But there’s a growing concern that some well-intentioned folks have taken efforts to be sustainable to a whole new level, calling for the sacrifice of property rights, food production and jobs for the sake of ‘speciesism’ (choosing plants or animals over people).  ‘Speciesism’ seems to be ‘de riguer’ these days in Hollywood and national media, so that’s probably why the subject packed the house this week at the 2012 American Farm Bureau Federation annual meeting.

Rob Gordon, senior advisor for strategic outreach for the Heritage Foundation (http://www.heritage.org/about), says being environmentally-sustainable is important, but too often regulations are put in place which go beyond common sense. “Science has to be ‘good science’ which means it must follow scientific method. That means if you conduct an experiment and write down how you do it, I should be able to replicate your results.  Right now species are added to endangered lists based on ‘best available data,’ which doesn’t mean rational, duplicated, sane or even scientific.”

Gordon then went on to illustrate that point by way of the Pleistocene Snail.

The Pleistocene snail (http://www.fws.gov/midwest/endangered/Snails/iops_fct.html) is a tiny snail that lives on rocky outcropping areas in Iowa and was declared ‘endangered’ in 1978.  So, the government took over land and created the National Wildlife Refuge near Dubuque to protect the snails.  But, there were snags in maintaining the tiny creature’s population because, according to Gordon, the biggest threats remained: the lack of an Ice Age and humans.  It seems well-intentioned environmentalists who went out to ‘count’ these tiny snails were killing them by accidentally stepping on them.   Since these tiny snails thrived in glacial conditions, the government deemed that the next best ‘savior’ for the Pleistocene is to keep the National Wildlife Refuge near Dubuque in place, and wait for the next Ice Age.

“Clearly, this is a case of speciesism and regulation run amok.  We have to remember that environmental policy can’t be good environmental policy if it doesn’t take people into account,” says Gordon.

In an age when snails are deemed more important than farming, feeding people or employing them, something is wrong.  That’s why folks like Gordon are out there reading the fine print, calling for people to ask questions and demand conservation efforts be based on repeatable, scientific results that take human beings into account.  Waiting for the government to realize this however, could take…until the next Ice Age.

 

Laurie Johns is Public Relations Manager for the Iowa Farm Bureau.                        1/11/2012

 
Checkoff-Funded Tool Helps Show U.S. Soy’s Sustainability PDF Print E-mail
News Releases - Agribusiness
Written by United Soybean Board   
Wednesday, 11 January 2012 13:00
Checkoff Supports Improved Fieldprint Calculator to Help Farmers Meet Customers’ Needs

ST. LOUIS (January 11, 2012) – U.S. soybean farmers now have an updated tool that can meet the needs of some customers who want proof U.S. soy has been sustainably produced.

That’s why the soybean checkoff continues to support the Field to Market alliance and its updated Fieldprint Calculator, a tool U.S. soybean farmers can use to help measure, improve and demonstrate their sustainability performance.

The updated calculator, available on the Internet by clicking here, includes several upgrades from earlier versions. It allows U.S. farmers to analyze individual fields and includes more advanced measurements for soil conservation and soil carbon. Additionally, the tool automatically provides a financial ledger that computes the economic impact of sustainable practices on that farm. It also allows U.S. farmers to set up a secure account to save their information for future use.

Nebraska soybean farmer Mike Thede notes that checkoff-funded research has proven the sustainability performance of U.S. soy production. The checkoff shares that information with U.S. soy buyers to support sales.

“All U.S. farmers are under more and more pressure from our customers, who demand soybeans produced in a sustainable manner,” explains Thede, who serves as team lead of the United Soybean Board’s Sustainability Initiative. “We need to continue to document our sustainability performance to our end users in order to maintain and expand our markets.”

According to a recent checkoff-funded life-cycle study, U.S. soybean production proves to be very sustainable due to several factors. For instance, a soybean plant sequesters more greenhouse gases than those generated by the equipment used to grow, harvest and process soybeans. Additionally, U.S. soybean production and processing have become more efficient because of higher yields, more conservation tillage and reduced energy use.

The Fieldprint Calculator can be used for free by all U.S. soybean, corn, wheat, cotton and rice farmers. First, it asks farmers to enter information about their operation. If desired, the tool can confidentially save any information entered, in which case that information is accessible only by the farmer who saved it.

The tool analyzes the use of that farm’s natural resources and inputs to compute its environmental footprint, or “fieldprint.” The results show farmers where there’s room for improvement. U.S. farmers can also compare their results with those from other farms in their area, state or the entire country.

As a member of Field to Market, the soybean checkoff supported development of the original calculator in 2009, as well as the recent update. More information about Field to Market and the Fieldprint Calculator is available at www.FieldToMarket.org.

For more information on the USB, visit www.UnitedSoybean.org
Visit us on Facebook: www.facebook.com/UnitedSoybeanBoard
Follow us on Twitter: www.twitter.com/UnitedSoy
View our YouTube channel: www.youtube.com/user/UnitedSoybeanBoard

USB is made up of 69 farmer-directors who oversee the investments of the soybean checkoff on behalf of all U.S. soybean farmers. Checkoff funds are invested in the areas of animal utilization, human utilization, industrial utilization, industry relations, market access and supply. As stipulated in the Soybean Promotion, Research and Consumer Information Act, USDA’s Agricultural Marketing Service has oversight responsibilities for USB and the soybean checkoff.

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Iowa Farm Bureau Priorities for 2012 Legislative Session PDF Print E-mail
News Releases - Agribusiness
Written by Heather Lilienthal   
Tuesday, 10 January 2012 16:06

PROPERTY TAXES, REGULATORY REFORM & INFRASTRUCTURE FUNDING AMONG IOWA FARM BUREAU PRIORITIES FOR 2012 LEGISLATIVE SESSION

WEST DES MOINES, IOWA – Jan. 10, 2012 – Iowa Farm Bureau will focus on property taxes, regulatory reform and infrastructure funding in the 2012 legislative session.

“A priority in 2012 will be building on our success during the 2011 session, when Farm Bureau was instrumental in providing property tax relief by leading the effort to backfill $160 million in state money for our schools,” said Iowa Farm Bureau Federation (IFBF) President Craig Hill.   Farm Bureau will protect Iowa property taxpayers as new funding mechanisms are pursued for government services, including the redesign of the mental health system.  Farm Bureau will also work to ensure that commercial property tax reform measures do not create a shift to other classes of property.”

IFBF, Iowa’s largest grassroots farming organization, is also in support of long-term sustainable and equitable funding to help repair the state’s aging infrastructure. According to a recent Iowa DOT study, maintenance and repair of Iowa’s roads and bridges is falling behind. “An additional $215 million per year is needed just to address the critical repairs to Iowa’s roads and bridges.  Providing and maintaining an adequate infrastructure system, such as safe roads and bridges, is a basic function of government,” said Hill.

IFBF will work with lawmakers again this year to strengthen legislative oversight of the rule-making process.  “Our regulatory process needs reform.  Unwarranted regulations add unnecessary and unexpected costs to farming.  In recent years, we’ve seen numerous examples of rules developed by governor-appointed boards and commissions without the direction of the state legislature.  It is important that boards and commissions do not exceed their authority by creating rules beyond federal requirements.  These are decisions that should be made by the legislature,” said Hill.  “Rules also need to be based on sound science to determine their need, relevance and effectiveness.”

Another priority for Farm Bureau members in the 2012 legislative session is the continued support of increased funding of science-proven conservation practices that yield real results.  “Farm Bureau will continue to work for increased state funding to implement incentive-based, voluntary conservation programs.  Farmers want to do more, but these programs are currently underfunded and demand for cost-share dollars exceeds available funding by more than $15 million.  We know these conservation measures work. Thanks to buffer strips, terracing and other soil-protection measures, Iowa farmers have reduced total cropland erosion in this state by over 30 percent since 1982. Farm Bureau has always supported the efforts of the Soil & Water Conservation Districts and the Iowa Department of Agriculture & Land Stewardship to maintain soil conservation funding,” said Hill, a Milo crop and livestock farmer.

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About Iowa Farm Bureau

The Iowa Farm Bureau Federation is a grassroots, statewide organization dedicated to enhancing the People, Progress and Pride of Iowa.  More than 153,000 families in Iowa are Farm Bureau members, working together to achieve farm and rural prosperity.  For more information about Farm Bureau and agriculture, visit the online media room at www.iowafarmbureau.com.

 
Calling All U.S. Soybean Farmers: See Checkoff for Yourself PDF Print E-mail
News Releases - Agribusiness
Written by United Soybean Board   
Tuesday, 10 January 2012 16:05
Registration Now Open for USB’s “See for Yourself” Program

ST. LOUIS (January 10, 2012) – Do you grow soybeans and want to see your checkoff in action? This is your chance.

U.S. soybean farmers can now apply for the United Soybean Board’s (USB) free See for Yourself (SFY) program, which will enable 10 U.S. soybean farmers this year to witness for themselves how the soybeans they grow are used in animal feed at home and abroad, in biodiesel, in fish farming, and even as a mainstay in a school-lunch program. As you learn, you can also evaluate how soybean-checkoff investments help foster this utilization every step of the way.

Interested U.S. soybean farmers may complete an application now through March 30 on the USB website at www.unitedsoybean.org.

“‘Seeing is believing’ has become the theme of this program,” says program participant Rick Stern, who raises soybeans on his farm in Cream Ridge, N.J. Stern also serves as chair of USB’s Audit & Evaluation (A&E) Committee.

“The program allows soybean farmers to see how multifaceted their checkoff is, and how our soybeans are being used both here in the United States and internationally,” he says.

The weeklong program, scheduled to take place July 29-Aug. 4, will also enable U.S. soybean farmers to meet industry representatives using soy, as well as some of the men and women who help lead the checkoff.

“The program lets U.S. soybean farmers see how their checkoff works, develop relationships with the farmer-leaders who represent them and come away with knowledge about how their checkoff dollars are put to use,” Stern says.

Stern and other USB farmer-directors who serve on its A&E Committee oversee the See for Yourself program and other efforts to help ensure all U.S. soybean farmers see a return on their soybean checkoff investments.

USB is made up of 69 farmer-directors who oversee the investments of the soybean checkoff on behalf of all U.S. soybean farmers. Checkoff funds are invested in the areas of animal utilization, human utilization, industrial utilization, industry relations, market access and supply. As stipulated in the Soybean Promotion, Research and Consumer Information Act, USDA’s Agricultural Marketing Service has oversight responsibilities for USB and the soybean checkoff.

For more information on the United Soybean Board, visit www.unitedsoybean.org
Visit us on Facebook: www.facebook.com/UnitedSoybeanBoard
Follow us on Twitter: www.twitter.com/unitedsoy
View our YouTube channel: www.youtube.com/user/UnitedSoybeanBoard

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Agriculture Secretary Vilsack to Host Conference Call on USDA’s New Blueprint for Stronger Service to Increase Efficiency in Operations PDF Print E-mail
News Releases - Agribusiness
Written by USDA Communications Office   
Tuesday, 10 January 2012 15:50

WASHINGTON, Jan. 10, 2012 – TODAY, Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack will hold a media conference call to discuss USDA’s Blueprint for Stronger Service (Hyperlink release), which was announced by Secretary Vilsack yesterday at the American Farm Bureau Federation's annual meeting. USDA’s Blueprint for Stronger Service is a plan to help producers continue to drive America’s economy by streamlining operations and cutting costs.

The Blueprint for Stronger Service is based on a Department-wide review of operations conducted as part of the Administration’s Campaign to Cut Waste, launched by President Obama and Vice President Biden to make government work better and more efficiently for the American people. The agency took a hard look at all USDA operations, from headquarters to field offices. The end result is a plan that will create optimal use of USDA people, better results for USDA customers and greater efficiencies for American taxpayers.

 
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