Tuesday, May 14, 2019

Tuesday May 14 Ag News

Nebraska Farm Bureau Opposes Corporate Incentives Bill, Says Nebraskans Deserve Property Tax Relief First!

Nebraska lawmakers must focus on delivering property tax relief for hardworking Nebraska families, not on how to use taxpayer dollars to provide business incentives and corporate tax breaks, according to the Nebraska Farm Bureau. With limited days remaining in the 2019 legislative session, lawmakers have yet to pass a property tax relief bill, but senators will spend precious time debating a measure to renew corporate incentives, Wed., May 15.

“Nebraskans have made it clear they want the Legislature to fix our state’s property tax problem. Yet with little over 10 days left in the 90-day session, the Legislature is spending time on a bill to renew Nebraska’s corporate incentives, without having passed legislation to deliver property tax relief or to improve the way we fund K-12 education,” said Steve Nelson, Nebraska Farm Bureau president. “Property tax relief is economic development for those who call Nebraska home; that must come first.”

LB 720, the corporate incentives bill, was introduced by Sen. Mark Kolterman of Seward. If implemented, the bill is projected to cost Nebraska taxpayers anywhere from $150 million to nearly $200 million a year by 2029.

“Those are dollars that could be used to ensure the state covers education funding costs for all Nebraska students, in addition to providing significant property tax relief for Nebraska families,” said Nelson.

LB 720 contains no dollar cap on the corporate incentives program, creating an open-ended financial obligation that Nebraska taxpayers would be responsible to fund well into the future.

“At a time when the governor and others are criticizing senators for considering raising revenues so the state can better fund schools and provide property tax relief, it’s hard to believe the Legislature would consider a bill that is nothing short of the state issuing a blank check for corporations to fill out into the future,” said Nelson.

Nebraska’s current business tax incentives are set to expire in 2020, leaving time for the Legislature to tackle the issue next session. Because of that, Nelson says the Legislature needs to shift its focus immediately.

“Nebraskans aren’t asking for corporate incentives. They’re asking for the Legislature to fix the way we fund schools and to lower their property tax bills. The Revenue Committee advanced a major tax and education funding reform bill in LB 289 that does both. It’s time senators fulfilled their property tax campaign promises and advance that bill,” said Nelson. “Moving LB 720 without having delivered property tax relief first would be a slap in the face to Nebraskans. I’m not sure how you tell a constituent you couldn’t lower their property taxes, or fund their school, but you could give away hundreds of millions of their taxpayer dollars for corporate incentives.”

U.S. Senators Introduce Bipartisan Bill to Help Farmers Export to Cuba

Today, U.S. Senators Michael Bennet (D-CO) and John Boozman (R-AR) introduced the Agricultural Export Expansion Act (S.1447), legislation that would make it easier for American farmers to sell their goods to Cuba by removing restrictions on private financing for U.S. agricultural exports to the island nation.

“These restrictions are arbitrary and serve no purpose other than hurting our farmers and the Cuban people,” said James Williams, President of Engage Cuba. “As U.S. producers across sectors struggle with sluggish markets and Chinese tariffs, it’s time we move this bad policy out of the way of our farmers, who deserve to be able to compete on equal ground for market share in Cuba. We know there’s demand for quality U.S. products, and we should let producers meet that demand.”

Despite the U.S. trade embargo on Cuba, U.S. producers have been able to export to the island since 2000. However, remaining restrictions on financial transactions involving Cuba have barred U.S. producers from offering financing to Cuban buyers, severely stunting export potential.

"We’ve heard loud and clear that American farmers and ranchers want the opportunity to compete and sell their product around the world, including in the Cuban market. Despite our progress in the 2018 Farm Bill, existing trade restrictions with Cuba continue to put our farmers and ranchers at a disadvantage,” Senator Bennet said. “This common-sense bill would unlock new market opportunities for Colorado farmers and ranchers who have a tremendous amount to gain from competing in the Cuban market.”

“Arkansas farmers need new markets and one solution is sitting less than one hundred miles off our coast. Cuba imports 80 percent of its food, but Americans start out at a disadvantage since private financing is not allowed. Our bill removes this barrier, allowing our agricultural producers to compete, while simultaneously exposing Cubans to American ideals, values and products. It’s a small step, but one that can yield big dividends for American farmers and the Cuban people,” said Senator Boozman.

Cuba imports about $2 billion in agricultural products annually. However, due to the cash-in-advance requirement, Cuba is left with little choice but to turn instead to international competitors like the European Union, Brazil, and Vietnam. U.S. agricultural exports to Cuba have declined every year since 2009 in terms of dollar amount, market share, and in the variety of products shipped. The Congressional Budget Office estimates that lifting these limits on American farmers through the proposed legislation would save U.S. taxpayers $690 million over 10 years.

Farmers seeking to export to Cuba won some success in the 2018 farm bill with a provision that allows U.S. agricultural producers to use federal market promotion dollars for agricultural exports to Cuba. A cornerstone of Engage Cuba's legislative advocacy efforts in the last Congress, this was the first law to repeal part of the U.S. embargo on Cuba in nearly 20 years.

The Senate Agricultural Export Expansion Act follows the introduction of its House companion bill H.R. 1898, the Cuba Agricultural Exports Act, in March by Congressman Rick Crawford (R-AR-1) and Congresswoman Cheri Bustos (D-IL-17).

Renewable Fuels Month is a key time to celebrate Nebraska’s cleaner-burning fuel options

May is typically the kick-off to the summer drive season, and it’s also a time to celebrate renewable fuel choices through Renewable Fuels Month. Since 2006, the acting Nebraska governor has dedicated one month out of each year to recognize the importance of renewable biofuels, such as ethanol, to the state.

Currently, over 97% of all gasoline in the United States, is blended with locally-produced ethanol. Nebraska is home to 25 ethanol plants across the state, which produce 2.2 billion gallons of clean-burning, locally produced fuel each year. Because most of the ethanol produced in the U.S. is produced from corn, ethanol plants also produce over 6.4 million metric tons of distillers grains (a high-protein livestock feed) as an ethanol coproduct.

Nebraska’s ethanol industry also creates jobs. Over 1,400 people in rural Nebraska were directly employed by the industry with an average salary of more than $50,000.

“Nebraska’s ethanol industry not only benefits our state’s farmers, but also our consumers and our nation’s economy,” said David Bruntz, chairman of the Nebraska Corn Board and farmer from Friend. “The more ethanol we use, the cleaner our air becomes. We’re reducing greenhouse gas emissions and limiting cancer-causing toxic chemicals from entering into our atmosphere. Additionally, we’re able to save money at the pump on higher-octane fuels.”

Several events and promotions are scheduled throughout the month of May to raise the awareness of the different renewable fuel options and benefits. The month kicked off with the 2019 Lincoln Marathon/Half Marathon on May 5, 2019. The event was sponsored by American Ethanol, which used the event as a platform to engage with runners and spectators about the clean-air benefits of using ethanol. During the event, the Biofuels Mobile Education Center trailer was on hand and served as an educational lab to explain the positives of the U.S. ethanol industry. RoboTron E15, a 9-foot-tall interactive robot, was also on hand to visit with runners and spectators throughout the weekend.

On Friday, May 17, 2019, Nebraska Gov. Pete Ricketts will make an official proclamation declaring the month as Renewable Fuels Month at Casey’s General Store in Bennington (7141 N. 156th Street, Omaha, Nebraska). The announcement will begin at 9:30 a.m. and will be followed by a fuel pump promotion where higher blends of ethanol will be heavily discounted from 10:00 a.m. through 1:00 p.m.

“We know we have to share our story with the consumer,” said Jan tenBensel, chairman of the Nebraska Ethanol Board and farmer from Cambridge. “There truly are many myths going around about the ethanol industry, and we want to be able to set the record straight. Renewable Fuels Month gives us this opportunity.”

Renewable Fuels Month is being coordinated through the Nebraska Corn Board and the Nebraska Ethanol Board. Additional radio and online promotions will be taking place throughout the month. Follow the Nebraska Corn Board or the Nebraska Ethanol Board on Facebook or Twitter for updates. 


Bruce Anderson, NE Extension Forage Specialist

               Most pastures have good soil moisture from spring rains.  Fertilizing now might help you take advantage of that moisture.

               Grass growth is stimulated by nitrogen fertilizer just like other crops.  One key to profitable fertilizing of pastures, though, is to time fertilization to stimulate grass growth for when you need it.

               We often fertilize cool-season grass pastures like bromegrass in early April to get a good boost in early growth.  By June or July, though, these pastures run out of both moisture and fertilizer.  Add in hot temperatures and their growth nearly stops.

               This spring most pastures received abundant rain. These pastures should be able to continue to grow longer into summer if soil fertility is adequate.  To take advantage of this extra soil moisture, fertilize cool-season pastures with thirty to sixty pounds of nitrogen per acre between now and Memorial Day to gain extra summer forage.

               To make this May fertilizing work best, I have found that it helps to graze pastures moderately before adding nitrogen fertilizer.  This seems to encourage more thickening of the grass stand and slightly reduces the number of seed stalks produced.  Don’t graze too short, though, or plants will be stressed and regrow more slowly.

               Would it be smart to fertilize again in May if you applied nitrogen earlier this spring?  Normally I say no, especially with nitrogen so expensive.  But if you applied just a light amount earlier and already have grazed off most of the grass, a second application might be beneficial, similar to the multiple nitrogen applications used on irrigated pastures.

               So, if you can use extra grass, fertilize now to take advantage of extra moisture.


Nebraska’s Unique NRD System Key to Addressing Groundwater Quality

Nebraska’s Natural Resources Districts (NRDs) are a rare example of a groundwater government whose practices are conducive to positive, sustainable groundwater quality outcomes, according to a new study published in the most recent edition of Water Alternatives, an interdisciplinary journal on water, politics and development.

“Nebraska’s Natural Resource District System: Collaborative Approaches to Adaptive Groundwater Quality Governance,” presents Nebraska as a case study for the development of governance regimes that have the potential to address agricultural nonpoint source groundwater nitrate pollution.

The study, led by Gregory Sixt while at Tufts University (now at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology Abdul Latif Jameel Water and Food Systems Lab), stemmed from earlier research by Bleed and Babbitt (2015), which demonstrated that the NRDs represent a robust system for the sustainable management of groundwater quantity. This research expands upon that analysis to examine the NRD system as it has evolved to include groundwater quality in the last 30 years. Other researchers contributing to this study include: Laurens Klerkx, Wageningen University (The Netherlands); J. David Aiken, University of Nebraska-Lincoln; and Timothy Griffin, Tufts University.

“I hope this paper will increase awareness of the NRD system and highlight to more people Nebraska's unique and special model for managing its groundwater resources,” Sixt said. “I believe strongly that the NRD system has a lot to teach other states.”

Research included 34 interviews throughout June 2017 with a diverse set of experts from various NRDs; the Nebraska Association of Resources Districts; Nebraska Department of Environmental Quality and the Department of Natural Resources; University of Nebraska-Lincoln; agricultural producers; City of Hastings Utilities; Nebraska Extension and the Groundwater Foundation.

The research also focused on three groundwater nitrate management programs in Nebraska that collectively represent the broader NRD system.
-    The Central Platte NRD Groundwater Management Area (CPNRD GMA), which is the oldest nonpoint source nitrate program in the state, and has demonstrated a successful trend in reducing groundwater nitrate concentrations;
-    The Bazile Groundwater Management Area (BGMA), which brings together four NRDs to address nitrate pollution; and
-    The Hastings Wellhead Protection Area (Hastings WHPA), which is a collaboration between two NRDs and the city of Hastings. This project successfully bridges the rural-urban divide to address the nonpoint source nitrate pollution that is threatening the city’s drinking water source.

The study concluded that cooperative approaches are important to nonpoint source pollution program development and management, stating that Nebraska is in a unique position to showcase how local water management plans can be successful. The NRD system has been in place since 1972, and districts have been developing groundwater quality plans since the 1980s, allowing Nebraska to provide a model for other states beginning to develop their own groundwater governance regimes.

“We’ve been successful working with agricultural producers to reduce nitrate levels to protect water while still maintaining farm profitability,” said Lyndon Vogt, Central Platte NRD general manager and research participant. “We’re proud to set an example of how public and private partnerships work together to protect Nebraska’s vital resources from overuse and pollution.”

California certifies two Edeniq customers for corn kernel fiber ethanol

Edeniq, Inc., a leading biotechnology company that develops processes for producing and measuring cellulosic ethanol, today announced that the California Air Resources Board (“CARB”) approved its first two Intellulose 2.0 customers for cellulosic ethanol production from corn kernel fiber. Siouxland Ethanol, a 90 million gallon per year (“MGPY”) corn ethanol plant located in Jackson, Nebraska was certified on May 6 with a carbon intensity (“CI”) rating of 26.67 and Elite Octane, a 150 MGPY corn ethanol plant located in Atlantic, Iowa was certified on May 7 with a CI rating of 30.32. Using Intellulose 2.0, the two plants achieved average corn kernel fiber ethanol production of 3% of total production, nearly triple the average performance traditionally associated with the benefits of Intellulose 1.0 that regulatory agencies had approved.

“Intellulose 2.0 is performing extremely well, and we are excited to bring the technology to more ethanol plants,” said Brian Thome, President and CEO of Edeniq. “We would also like to especially thank the teams at Siouxland Ethanol and Elite Octane for their collaboration and support, and the team at CARB for their communication and guidance during the evaluation process.”

“Siouxland Ethanol and Elite Octane are pleased to offer consumers access to low carbon liquid transportation fuels,” said Nick Bowdish, President and CEO of both companies.  “We take pride in being leaders in the US ethanol industry and delivering results that satisfy both our investors and consumers.  We appreciate the opportunity to work synergistically with Edeniq and CARB and will continue to make transportation fuels more environmentally friendly.”

Edeniq’s Intellulose 2.0 technology typically achieves between 2 and 4.5% cellulosic ethanol production from the corn kernel fiber at existing corn ethanol plants without any capex requirements. The technology, which was developed over several years and underwent multiple peer reviews, measures the amount of ethanol produced from multiple different molecules present in corn kernels and quantifies the individual contribution of each component. The technology builds on Intellulose 1.0, which measures the cellulosic ethanol produced from a single corn kernel component. Seven Edeniq Intellulose 1.0 customers were previously approved by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (“EPA”) for D3 RIN generation and/or by CARB for low-CI corn kernel fiber ethanol production.

Weather Events Create Need for Haying, Grazing and Silage Options

A wet fall, unusually cold temperatures, excess rain and, in some cases, flooding, have cattle and sheep producers wondering how to manage forage shortages this summer and lay in forages for next winter.

“The good news is there are haying, grazing and silage options,” said Beth Doran, beef specialist for Iowa State University Extension and Outreach. "But, before a final decision is implemented, producers should check with their crop insurance agents about their alternative plans."

According to Brian Lang, extension field agronomist with Iowa State University, most short-term forages are fast-growing annual crops. Sorghums and millets are traditionally grown for summer forage; whereas, cereal grains and forage brassicas are popular cover crops for fall or early spring grazing, depending upon the forage species. 

Each forage species has unique characteristics, such as growing season, size, regrowth potential, feed value, presence or absence of anti-quality components, yield and suitability for haying, grazing or silage. An Iowa Beef Center fact sheet of short-term and supplemental forages descriptions is available for download from the IBC website... http://www.iowabeefcenter.org/CowsPlows/SupplementalForages.pdf. 

Prussic acid (an anti-quality component) may be present in Sudangrass, sorghum-Sudangrass hybrids and forage sorghum when the plants are grazed or green-chopped at short heights (less than 18 inches for Sudangrass; less than 24 inches for sorghum x Sudangrass hybrids; less than 30 inches for forage sorghum); or during a severe drought, or if grazed too soon after frost. Remember that all annual forages can be high in nitrates if the season turns dry. 

Sorghums and millets are usually planted once soil temperatures are 65 degrees Fahrenhuit and increasing, up to early July, and used during the summer and autumn. They will be ready for first harvest or grazing about 50 days after emergence. Pearl millet and Sudangrass are best suited for grazing due to their rapid rate of regrowth. Do not cut or graze shorter than a 5 to 6 inch stubble height to encourage good regrowth. For an emergency hay crop, foxtail millet would be the forage of choice due to rapid dry-down, but plan for only one hay harvest. If harvesting silage, forage sorghum and corn are best based on yield and feed quality.

Teff is a relatively new forage specie that has very fine stems, rapid regrowth in mid-summer and a high leaf:stem ratio. It can be harvested 45 to 55 days after planting and is most often used for hay. To encourage good regrowth the cutting height should be 4 to 5 inches. Teff stores its regrowth-reserves in its lower stems, and a cutting height under 4 inches can be devastating to its regrowth ability. Grazing is not recommended due to its shallower rooting, especially early in the growing season.

“The species of choice for fall grazing cover crops is highly dependent on how early they can be planted,” said Joel DeJong, field agronomist with ISU Extension and Outreach. “For fall grazing, most cover crop species such as cool-season annual grasses, cereals and brassicas yield more forage when planted mid-summer. If planted after early September, cereal rye and triticale, which is a cross of wheat and rye, are better suited for the shorter growing season.”

Doran said there are a couple of advantages for cereal rye – it will overwinter and is one of the earliest cover crops to appear in the spring. Because of this, it is often used for early spring grazing and a clean, green area for cow-calf pairs after calving.

Reynolds Declares Today as Agricultural Literacy Day

The Iowa Agriculture Literacy Foundation announced today that Governor Kim Reynolds has declared May 14, 2019 as Agricultural Literacy Day in Iowa. This proclamation recognizes the importance of and growth of agricultural literacy and Agriculture in the Classroom efforts across Iowa.

One in five Iowans work in the agricultural industry including production agriculture, agribusiness, marketing, transportation and supporting occupations. Agriculture is a major component of the Iowa economy with more than $26.6 billion in cash farm receipts in 2017. This proclamation recognizes the hard work of those involved in agriculture and agricultural literacy efforts to help all Iowans understand and communicate the source and value of agriculture as it affects daily life.

The Iowa Agriculture Literacy Foundation (IALF) is the statewide contact for Agriculture in the Classroom efforts. It serves as the central resource for educators and volunteers who want to teach Iowa's students about agriculture. IALF grew out of earlier agricultural literacy efforts and was officially established on May 14, 2014. It is a joint effort between agricultural commodity organizations, educational groups, agribusinesses and other stakeholders.

"Iowa is a leading producer of agricultural products," said Will Fett, executive director of the Iowa Agriculture Literacy Foundation and president of the National Agriculture in the Classroom Organization. "It is important for everyone to understand the role of agriculture in their everyday life. From food and fiber to animal feed and renewable fuels, we are all impacted by this industry."

Agriculture in the Classroom programs collaborate with and empower a diverse group of educators and community partners to support a positive message about agriculture. IALF helps provide educational materials to support and supplement Kindergarten through 12th grade curricula and the Iowa Core content standards with connections to agriculture.

IALF and Agriculture in the Classroom efforts include educational programs for children and students, teacher professional development, educator grants, and a number of other programs and activities. These programs and resources are provided to educators and students across Iowa.

For more information about this proclamation or other education activities please contact the Iowa Agriculture Literacy Foundation at info@iowaagliteracy.org.

Hemp May Provide New Opportunities for Iowa Farmers

Iowa Secretary of Agriculture Mike Naig announced that farmers are one step closer to having the option to grow hemp legally in the state of Iowa. The announcement comes after Governor Reynolds signed Senate File 599, the hemp bill, into law earlier today.

“The 2018 Farm Bill opened the door for commercial hemp production. We’re excited for growers in Iowa to have the same opportunities to compete as their peers in other states,” said Naig. “We’ve collaborated with other state agencies as well as law enforcement officials to prepare for the deregulation of hemp in Iowa. We advise growers to do their research to be sure there is a viable, profitable market for commercial hemp before they make the investment.”

The Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship will develop a state plan to license and regulate the production of hemp and submit it to the USDA for approval. Farmers cannot legally grow hemp in Iowa until the USDA approves the state’s proposed regulatory plan. Hemp production will likely not be legalized until the 2020 growing season, depending on the timing of the review and approval process.

Facts about hemp
-    Once the USDA approves the state’s proposed regulatory plan, an individual farmer can legally grow up to 40 acres of hemp per season.
-    This law legalizes the production, processing and marketing of hemp in Iowa. It does not legalize the recreational use of marijuana. 
-    Hemp plants (Cannabis spp.) have THC levels of 0.3 percent or less. Plants with THC levels above 0.3 percent are still considered controlled substances in the state of Iowa and must be destroyed.
-    Hemp produces fibers which can be used to make products like textiles, oils, paper and rope.
-    The Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship will regulate the production of hemp.
-    Farmers must have a license from the Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship to grow hemp.

To learn more about hemp production in Iowa, visit iowagriculture.gov/hemp.

NASS Numbers Show Third Straight Month of DMC Payouts


The USDA’s National Agricultural Statistics Service (NASS) reported for the third consecutive month that dairy farmers would receive a payout should they elect to sign up at the $9.50 coverage level under the new Dairy Margin Coverage program.

The March 2019 milk and feed-price margin under the Dairy Margin Coverage (DMC) program is $8.85 per cwt., which would generate a payment that month of $0.65 per cwt. for producers who purchase 2019 coverage at the DMC maximum level of $9.50 per cwt. for up to 5 million pounds of production history. The March DMC payment would be $0.64 per cwt. lower than February’s, due to a $0.70 per cwt. rise in the milk price offset slightly by a smaller increase in the price of alfalfa hay.

The projected March payout adds to January and February margins that together already ensure that producers who enroll at the $9.50 coverage level will receive more in DMC payments during 2019 than they will pay in premiums. USDA is currently predicting that $9.50 DMC coverage will generate additional payments for April through July. Signup is expected to begin June 17.

The 2018 Farm Bill also removes the previous restriction that prohibited producers from enrolling milk in both the Margin Protection Program that DMC replaced and the Livestock Gross Margin for Dairy (LGM-Dairy) program during the same month. It further allows farmers previously prevented from enrolling in MPP during 2018 due to this restriction to enroll retroactively in MPP and collect payments for 2018 for the months during which they were prevented from doing so. Farmers who purchased buy-up coverage under MPP during 2014-2017 are also eligible under the Farm Bill to receive a partial refund of their net payments during those years.

CWT-assisted Dairy Product Export Sales Greatly Exceed U.S. Milk Production Increase

While U.S. milk production increased 103 million pounds in the first three months of 2019 according to the USDA, the Cooperatives Working Together (CWT) export assistance program for member cooperatives have captured sales contracts that will move overseas five times that amount in milk equivalent this year, proving again the self-help program’s worth to U.S. dairy farmers.

In April, CWT members secured 52 contracts to sell 1.2 million pounds of American-type and Swiss cheese, 1.2 million pounds of butter, 1.3 million pounds of whole milk powder, and 1.9 milk pounds of cream cheese. These products are going to customers in Asia, Central and South America, and the Middle East, and will be shipped April through October 2019.

These sales bring the total 2019 CWT-assisted dairy product exports to 26.6 million pounds of cheese, 4 million pounds of butter, 23.4 million pounds of whole milk powder, and 1.9 million pounds of cream cheese. These transactions will move the equivalent of 520.8 million pounds of milk on a milkfat basis overseas, all in 2019.

Kansas State Polytechnic to host third annual Midwest Big Data Hub Digital Agriculture Spoke: All-Hands Meeting Aug. 21

Kansas State University's Polytechnic Campus in Salina will host the third annual Midwest Big Data Hub Digital Agriculture Spoke: All-Hands Meeting on Wednesday, Aug. 21.

The meeting serves as the culmination of the National Science Foundation project dedicated to bringing academics and commercial operators together around the topic of big data in agriculture.

The NSF project's core focus is fostering collaboration, communication and education between academics, industry and end users to promote work in unmanned aircraft systems, big data, genomics and phenomics. The project aims to improve food production, automate the big data lifecycle in agriculture, and reinforce remote sensing standards and conventions in the agriculture industry.

The culminating all-hands meeting is the finale of a three-year project to discuss and reflect on accomplishments and start building the conversation for future work to develop upon what was learned.

"The digital agriculture community of the Midwest Big Data Hub seeks to further enable data literacy within the nation's agricultural workforce in order to effectively utilize the enormous volume, velocity and variety of agricultural big data generated using genomic, phenomic and aerial imagery technologies," said Aaron Bergstrom, advanced cyberinfrastructure manager at University of North Dakota and lead principal investigator for the NSF project.

"Through the dissemination of these skill sets, our project aims to increase industry profits while making advancements in areas of food security and sustainability," Bergstrom said.

The meeting will be at the Tony's Pizza Events Center in Salina and will feature a mix of presentations related to data collection procedures, industry policies and best practices, and automation of the big data lifecycle. Focus will be given to address emerging issues in precision agriculture, unmanned aircraft systems, ecosystem management and services, biosciences, socioeconomic impacts and data-related issues in the agricultural ecosystem.

"Researching and implementing UAS for digital agriculture is core to our mission and capabilities," said Trevor Witt, UAS data analyst at Kansas State University Polytechnic's Applied Aviation Research Center. "This culminating event will highlight how this project brought academics, industry, nonprofits and end users together to know more regarding the applied practical applications of UAS for agriculture."

Registration is open now, with a deadline of Aug. 14. Individuals interested in speaking at the event or participating in the poster presentation should submit an inquiry at polytechnic.k-state.edu/outreach/training/bigdata/. Presentation submission review will begin May 15 and continue until spots are filled. Preceding the meeting is a one-day drone imagery collection, mapping and analysis workshop the Kansas State Polytechnic Campus. The event is also co-located with sixth annual UAS Tech Forum. For questions, please contact K-State Polytechnic's Office of Professional Education and Outreach at 785-826-2633 or profed@k-state.edu.

CCFN Chairman Urges President Trump to Address Cheese Trade Deficit Driven by Abuse of Geographical Indications

A person preparing food in a kitchen Description automatically generated(Washington D.C., May 14, 2019)  The Trump Administration should correct the inequity in cheese sales opportunities between the United States and the European Union, especially given the EU’s anti-trade practice of abusing geographical indications (GI) policies to monopolize generic cheese names as a means to shut out competition. That is the message sent in a letter to President Trump today by the chairman of the Consortium for Common Food Names (CCFN) Errico Auricchio, who is also the President and Founder of Belgioioso Cheese based in Green Bay, Wisconsin.

“The United States is an extremely profitable dairy market for the EU; we must leverage that power in correcting this deeply frustrating inequity,” Auricchio writes. “I urge you to utilize all available tools to remedy this situation. Let us at least consider imposing the same restriction on them that they do on us: require that they not sell cheeses by these names into our market, as long as we are locked out of theirs.”

The United States is Europe’s number one export market for cheese, totaling approximately $1 billion in annual sales, but the EU restricts competition from the United States in many cheese categories, contributing to a massive $1.6 billion U.S.-EU dairy trade deficit, the letter states.

“Europeans can sell their asiago, parmesan, feta, etc., in Wisconsin, but cheesemakers like me are blocked from selling Wisconsin cheeses by the same names in Europe,” Auricchio writes, noting that it is “truly aggravating” that “while we are shut out of their market, which includes some of the highest cheese-consuming nations in the world, the United States allows EU companies to sell their cheeses with these names into our lucrative U.S. market – competing with us for our own U.S. consumers.”

One of the main ways the EU blocks U.S. competition is by preventing nations outside the EU from marketing cheeses within Europe using common names like “parmesan”, which the EU says are protected by GIs. The United States has long maintained that protection of a GI like “Parmigiano Reggiano” should not be extended to encompass generic terms like “parmesan” that have been used by cheesemakers around the world for generations.

MegaFood® Leads Rally in Washington, D.C. to Ban Glyphosate

MegaFood®, a premium supplement and vitamin brand, announced today it will formally deliver its petition to ban the use of glyphosate as a desiccant, or drying agent, on consumer grade oats before harvest to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), beginning with a rally at Freedom Plaza in Washington, D.C. on Thursday, May 23, from noon to 1 pm. Together with the Environmental Working Group (EWG) and several like-minded brands, including Patagonia, Ben & Jerry's, Stonyfield Farm, MOM's Organic Market, and others, MegaFood invites the public to join in its mission to change the world starting with food as they deliver over 80,000 petition signatures to the office of the EPA and raise awareness on the unsafe levels of glyphosate residue found in our foods today.

"Glyphosate is a broad-spectrum antibiotic and mineral chelator, destroying the microbiome of the soil our food is grown in and therefore, causing the food we consume to be devoid of essential nutrients," said Sara Newmark, VP of Social Impact at MegaFood. "We hope the EPA will do their part and recognize the need to protect the health of our planet and people. We are excited and honored to invite the public and, as a community, deliver this petition so that we can ultimately inspire much-needed change."

As the number one herbicide used in the world, glyphosate has been classified by the World Health Organization's International Agency for Research on Cancer as "probably carcinogenic in humans" and reports suggest it is linked to cancer and other diseases. Using glyphosate as a desiccant enables food to be harvested quickly but in turn, increases the likelihood that consumers will be directly exposed to the herbicide through the foods they eat. Although the EPA does regulate pesticides and herbicides under the Food Quality Protection Act of 1996, the agency is required to make special considerations for protecting children's health from pesticides and herbicides, as well as limit the overall negative impacts of pesticides on human health and the environment, all of which are at risk with the increased use of glyphosate.

"We launched this petition last year urging the EPA to put an end to this pre-harvest use of glyphosate. Now that the EPA has opened a public comment period on this petition, we will come together to show consumer and industry support for keeping our food safe from glyphosate," said Bethany Davis, Director of Advocacy and Government Relations at MegaFood.

Christopher Miller, Global Activism Strategy Manager at Ben & Jerry's comments, "We joined the EWG, MegaFood and the other companies in petitioning the EPA in order to reduce the permissible levels of glyphosate in oats. All of us, food companies and consumers alike, have an interest in reducing the amount of chemical pesticides and herbicides used broadly in agriculture and we believe this would be an important first step in doing just that."

During the rally in Freedom Plaza, select speakers including Matthew Modine (actor and activist), Gary Hirshberg (Stonyfield Farm), Leah Segedie (Mamavation) and Colin O'Neil (Environmental Working Group) will inform the crowd and encourage their participation in protecting our food while attendees carry and promote campaign signs pressuring the EPA to make the changes outlined in the petition. As the first supplement brand to have its entire line certified Glyphosate Residue Free by The Detox Project, MegaFood will continue to inspire and serve as a trusted resource for consumers by championing change. At its core, MegaFood exists to create a more sustainable future, working with like-minded farm partners who share in their commitment to organic and regenerative agriculture—the rally underscores the company's dedication to pushing boundaries for the good of the planet and its people.

MegaFood aspires to transform '"agri-culture" by empowering communities and revolutionizing food systems. As such, through this rally, the company will create an experience that elevates this mission, therefore, reducing dietary exposure of glyphosate amongst consumers. The petition requests the EPA reduce the amount of glyphosate in oats and prohibit its use as a pre-harvest desiccant on the label of all glyphosate-containing products.

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