Thursday, February 29, 2024

Growing tomorrow’s agriculture climate is built on years of trust


Trust is what makes up the foundation of our nation’s reliance on farmers. They are trusted to grow and nurture high-quality products, 365 days each year. National Ag Day provides the opportunity to reflect on that trust we place in our farmers and appreciate the work that often goes without praise.

Their hard work is built on an even deeper trust in the information they consume that helps them become more efficient and confident in the work they do. Farm Progress strives to strengthen that trust each day through the accurate and readily available information its team constantly shares with our nation’s farmers and agricultural professionals.

A history of building trust

Farm Progress has worked to build lasting relationships with its audience through a variety of publications, events and social media channels. The company is composed of 18 total brands, five annual events, 44 editors and a combined 750 years of experience. That experience lends itself to a fair and unbiased brand that seeks to do right by their audience of farmers and ag professionals.

As agriculture has faced some vast changes over the years, Farm Progress has worked to stay ahead of those changes and keep their audience informed. This includes adjusting to new formats and information channels that best fit our audience’s needs. Recently, Farm Progress launched the “FP Next” podcast to help listeners stay up to date while navigating their busy schedules.

Trust would not be possible without this commitment to keeping up with changes and finding new ways to fill gaps. That trust is something that Farm Progress has awarded a high value.

Tomorrow’s agriculture climate

Change is inevitable, and Farm Progress will continue to match the needs of our farmer audience as they cultivate tomorrow’s agriculture climate. It is hard to imagine how that future climate will look, but that picture becomes clearer through the dedication of Farm Progress’ team.

A quick browse through one of the brand websites shows just a sampling of the wide range of agricultural topics that are top of mind for the company’s skilled editors. Livestock care, farm succession planning, soil conservation practices and new technology are just a handful of the topics covered daily across the brands. With every corner of agriculture being touched on regularly, our farmer audience is guaranteed to have the information they need to make informed decisions when they need it.

Making decisions will not get any easier as agriculture continues to evolve; there is no right answer to the abundance of questions that swirl through producers’ minds every minute of every day. Outside influences and potential backlash only add to the confusion and difficulty that come with navigating a changing agriculture climate.

Farm Progress works to break down those tough issues and make matters simpler. And the brand continues to nurture the trust it has built over the years and through the constantly changing agriculture climate. No matter what the future climate looks like, farmers and agriculture professionals can continue to fall back on the decades-long relationship with Farm Progress.

While National Ag Day only falls once a year, Farm Progress recognizes that appreciation for our nation’s farmers is due every day, and that appreciation will continue to shine through the company’s work in today’s and tomorrow’s agriculture climate.

Friday, February 23, 2024

Today’s farmers use both innovation and stewardship to meet growing global demand

By Bill Belzer

Bill, Gary and Jacob Belzer at Belzer Farms, south central Iowa. 

As we celebrate National Ag Day, it is an opportunity to recognize America’s farmers not only for the amount of food, feed, fuel and fiber they produce, but also for how they produce it.

For decades, agricultural innovations have driven increases in productivity, efficiency and quality of the crops and livestock that farmers grow. Along with those increases, farmer commitments to stewardship of those technologies, land and water resources, crops and animals, and their communities have also grown.

In my role at Corteva Agriscience, I am honored to work with team members around the world to help farmers responsibly and effectively use the seed, crop protection and other product innovations we bring to the marketplace to increase production and protect our natural resources. I am also proud to be the third generation of an Iowa farm family. My father and grandfather raised corn and soybeans on our family’s farm, and now as my son, Jacob, and I are actively farming, we have been able to see the positive impacts of innovation over the years.

A soil conservation plan from 1947 from my grandparents’ original family farm showed that the actual yield of open pollinated varieties of corn was 30 bushels per acre, with a goal to raise 67 bushels per acre in 1948 by adopting double-cross hybrid corn. That’s more than doubling production by adopting hybrid corn technology! As time passed, my parents acquired land across the county. In the 1970’s, my father’s goal was to raise 125-bushel per acre corn and that grew to 150 bushels per acre in the 1980s. Over the next two decades, our average yields continued to improve as we adopted new technology and genetics, seeing our farm yields grow well beyond the 200 bushels per acre mark.

That increase in productivity mirrors average yields across the United States, driven by improved seed genetics, management practices, and inputs to improve fertility and control weeds, insects and diseases. In fact, the corn seed we’ve planted in recent years are hybrids that include multiple biotech traits that protect against insects and provide herbicide tolerance. These hybrids also feature in-the-bag refuge seed (a product innovation that I helped launch in the early 2010s) to ensure we are meeting our refuge requirements, which ultimately protects the long-term effectiveness of Bt technology.  In addition to increasing our yields, my sons and I have expanded the soil conservation methods that my grandfather began years ago to include terraces, tiling, buffer strips and reduced and no till practices.

It is abundantly clear that farmers are the original and the best stewards of our natural resources. As farmers face ever-changing challenges from weather, pests, and disease, our team of researchers, agronomists and more are focused on delivering innovative solutions. And, as the world’s population and demand for food continues to grow, so does the need for stewardship to help farmers succeed, protect the environment and ensure that our communities thrive. That’s why Corteva continues to work side-by-side with farmers to provide seed products and management recommendations to help farmers be more sustainable and productive.

Let’s celebrate the role of farmers and our agriculture industry in feeding, fueling a growing world population, protecting our land, water and air resources, and building strong, vibrant communities on National Ag Day and every day!

Bill Belzer is the global stewardship leader for Corteva Agriscience, based in Johnston, Iowa. He has responsibility for the company’s global product stewardship and regulatory compliance activities.


Monday, February 19, 2024

On This National Ag Day, Let's Celebrate Farmers' Capacity To Provide Food AND Fuel

contributed by Paulsen

We celebrate National Ag Day this year on Tuesday, March 19, to honor farmers, ranchers and other individuals who help move the agricultural industry forward. Our way of life is made possible by their hard work and ingenuity. Setting aside a day each year to thank the women and men who make this happen is the least we can do.

As a marketing and communications agency committed to working in agriculture, we at Paulsen have the privilege of working directly with some of these folks within the industry on a daily basis. Hearing their perspectives on agriculture and some of the biggest challenges they face is always enlightening and helps inform the work we do.

Agriculture provides food for the world

The role farmers and ranchers play within our food supply chain is well-documented and, if not universally acknowledged, universally accepted at the very least. Phrases such as “no farmers, no food” and “farmers feed the world” have become cliche sayings that are all too often brushed aside, for sure, but that doesn’t mean they aren’t true.

In fact, remove any part of the supply chain — farmers and ranchers, on-farm labor, processors, transport and delivery, retailers, grocers, etc. — and you’ll experience significant, life-altering consequences. We experienced this rather acutely during the early phases of the COVID-19 pandemic: food scarcity, hyperinflation and a handful of other ripple effects threatened our collective well-being due to food supply chain disruptions.

Doing what we can today to advocate for and work toward supporting the agricultural industry and the people who propel it is critical to our future.

Fueling a more sustainable future

It's fair to say that biofuels have radically changed the landscape of farming. The demand for ethanol, biodiesel, renewable diesel and sustainable aviation fuel has grown from a small percentage of total agricultural output in the U.S. — and around the world, for that matter — to a far greater piece of the pie over the past 25 years.

In 2000, USDA calculated biofuel production at 4.8 billion gallons annually, representing just 3 percent of the world's fuel supply used in transportation. That figure has grown significantly, reaching a staggering 23 billion gallons per year produced worldwide in 2023. Projections have biofuel production growing even more in coming years due to policy initiatives and market demand for cleaner energy.

When we talk about the environmental impact of farming, the pro-agriculture narrative has largely focused on stewardship efforts such as soil management, mitigating runoff, growing cover crops, and carbon capture. Our farmers have adopted countless practices that improve soil, water and air quality, and that's a story worth telling. However, agriculture's leading role in ensuring an energy-secure and sustainable future through the production of biofuels cannot be overstated.

It's time to reframe the food versus fuel debate

In recent years, many voices have emerged to question whether our agricultural system diverts too much of its resources toward producing biofuels. This line of questioning has appealed to both climate change skeptics on the right and left-leaning environmental progressives — unlikely marriage that it is — amplifying the so-called food versus fuel debate.

But here’s the reality: Our farmers and ranchers have the capacity, drive and determination to do both. They can sustain a growing global population’s dietary needs while simultaneously providing the feedstock needed to drive biofuel production and provide an alternative to sole petroleum dependence. Consider the following rationale:

        Ag production levels are at an all-time high
Farmers are far more productive than they were a generation ago. Improvements in precision technology, seed genetics, pest management and agronomic practices have led to increased crop yields over time. Animal agriculture has also become far more efficient (more on that in the section below).

        This isn't entirely an either/or scenario
When grain is processed for biofuel production, much of it is still utilized to put food on our tables. Coproducts such as Dried Distillers Grains with Solubles (DDGs), protein-rich cakes/meals and glycerol factor significantly in livestock rations and help maintain our global food supply chain. Furthermore, developments in animal agriculture — including methane digesters on beef and dairy operations — have begun creating a strong inroads into the energy sector, too.

        Biofuels don't drive food cost increases
It is tempting to pin high prices at the grocery store on grain markets, thereby concluding that biofuel growth has a direct impact on what you pay for a pound of beef. In reality, food costs are far more susceptible to change due to other factors — supply chain disruptions, animal disease, geopolitical conflict and drought — than as a result of biofuel demand.

The next time you hear the food versus fuel debate arise, keep these proof points in mind and know that our farmers and ranchers have long succeeded in providing both.

Celebrate National Ag Day the best way you can

The earliest known agricultural practices emerged 12,000 years ago. Much has changed in the way we grow crops, raise livestock and deliver food from farm to table since then, and we'll continue to witness its evolution as we move forward. But let's take a moment on National Ag Day to pause and celebrate the contributions of all who comprise our ag industry.


Thursday, February 8, 2024


National Ag Day March 19, 2024

The Agriculture Council of America (ACA) announced March 19, 2024, will be National Agriculture Day with the theme of “Agriculture: Growing a Climate for Tomorrow.”

Activities planned for March 19 feature a virtual Ag Day program, and in-person events in Washington DC. ACA will invite students to interact virtually with legislators and agency representatives, delivering the Ag Day message. A core leadership team of college students will participate in the DC events, along with representatives of national farm and commodity organizations, representatives of the food, fuel, and fiber communities.

Jenny Pickett, ACA President says students from AFA, 4-H, FFA, and MANNRS participated in 2023 National Ag Day. “Students are interested in advocating on behalf of agriculture and their future roles in the industry. Their participation in National Ag Day activities provides a glimpse of the future of agriculture. It’s exciting to learn from the students what they think agriculture will be like in the years ahead, and how their involvement will shape the industry and America as a whole.”

According to USDA Economic Research Service* more than 22 million full- and part-time jobs were related to the agricultural and food sector, or roughly 10 percent of all US employment. On-farm jobs represented about 2.6 million jobs, or a little over one percent of US employment. Take that a step further, agriculture- and food-related jobs totaled more than 19 million.

“More and more, students and individuals are finding careers in agriculture. The industry needs scientists, biologists, food safety technicians, livestock nutrition specialists, arborists, conservationists – one doesn’t have to be a farmer or have a direct on-farm job to be involved in the agriculture industry,” Pickett says.

2024 National Ag Day marks the 51st year of the nationwide effort to share real stories of American agriculture, and remind citizens that agriculture affects everyone. “From the food we eat and the fuel for our vehicles, to the fiber in the clothes we wear, and the oil used to make kids’ crayons, agriculture touches everyone in some way,” Pickett says.

The National Ag Day program encourages every American to:

  • Understand how food, fiber, and fuel products are produced.
  • Appreciate the role agriculture plays in providing safe, abundant, and affordable products.
  • Value the essential role of agriculture in maintaining a strong economy.
  • Acknowledge and consider career opportunities in the agriculture, food and fiber industry.

About Agriculture Council of America

Agriculture Council of America, a nonprofit organization composed of leaders in the agricultural, food and fiber community, organizes the annual activities which are part of a national effort to increase the public's awareness of agriculture's role in modern society.


Friday, March 17, 2023

Celebrating America’s Farm and Ranch Families on National Ag Day

By Isabella Chism

Happy birthday, agriculture! Although March 21 – National Ag Day – is not actually a birthday like the one you and I celebrate each year, it is a celebration. On this day we celebrate American agriculture and our farm and ranch families who take great pride in growing a safe, sustainable food supply. We also recognize and celebrate their role in producing biofuels for transportation, fiber for clothing and other textiles, building materials and so much more.

I consider it a privilege to play a part in telling the true story of American agriculture. Together with my family, I farm in north central Indiana. We grow corn that’s fed to cattle, pigs and chickens. Have you enjoyed a hamburger, steak, chicken wings or bacon lately? Then you’ve benefited from the corn we grow.

We also grow soybeans. After harvest we take them to be crushed. Crushing releases oil that is used for cooking. Did you know that lecithin in soybeans is used for making chocolate? Another component after crushing is soybean meal, which is used to feed livestock.

Sweet corn is our most challenging crop. It needs to be hand-picked as soon as it’s ready. Otherwise it goes to waste or the wildlife living around the field will eat it. We sell our sweet corn direct to consumers at local farmers markets. 

Through my work as a Farm Bureau leader, one of my favorite ways to help people understand more about where their food comes from is inviting them to our farm. There is nothing more gratifying than seeing the light of wonder and understanding in someone’s eyes when they sit in the tractor next to me getting answers to their questions about food and farming. Since we can’t bring everyone to our farm, we also work with our county Farm Bureau to take the farm to schools, our local courthouse or even the county fair through a farm-to-pizza (or taco) experience.

Sharing about the multitude of career opportunities in agriculture is another way to help people grow in understanding. Some of those jobs include engineers, agronomists, plant breeders, foresters, veterinarians, agriscience teachers, climate specialists, food scientists, nutritionists and many more.

Demand for college graduates with degrees related to agriculture continues to grow, according to USDA. This includes job opportunities in management and business, such as marketers, financial advisors, credit analysts, business consultants, insurance managers and e-commerce specialists.

With so much of our life depending on modern agriculture, it’s appropriate to set aside at least one day a year to recognize and celebrate our safe and abundant food supply. Join me on March 21, National Ag Day 2023, to celebrate America’s farm and ranch families.

Isabella Chism is a row crop farmer in Indiana and serves as 2nd vice president of Indiana Farm Bureau. She also chairs the American Farm Bureau Women’s Leadership Committee. 

Wednesday, March 15, 2023

Powerful Partnerships Grow a Climate for Tomorrow

Ashley McDonald, Assistant Vice President of Sustainability at National Pork Board

Powerful partnerships are built on shared values. I am reminded of this truth daily as I see the agriculture industry live it out—the industry responsible for providing one of the necessities to sustain human life on this planet: food. The process of getting food from the farm to the table requires the work of many. It’s not just the grocery stores and the farmers – it’s the processors, distributors, transporters, retailers and suppliers. Each with business goals of their own, yet unable to get food into the hands of hungry consumers without help from one another.

A powerful partnership, indeed.

We all want (and need) access to clean water, fresh air, healthy soil and nutrient-dense food. The pork industry is committed to continuously improving our practices to do our part in ensuring those needs are met. We partner with members up and down the supply chain to benefit the entire agriculture industry and move forward in the right direction. The pork industry, for example, set a goal to reduce GHG emissions 40% by 2030 – a goal that would not be possible without collaboration and partnerships with others who share the same values.

While agriculture is responsible for only 10% of U.S. greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, the pork industry accounts for approximately 4%. Despite this relatively small proportion, pig farmers are aware of the impact GHGs have on the environment and are committed to reducing their carbon footprint. The majority of GHG emissions in the pork industry are concentrated in the feed of the animals, making it necessary to work with feed producers to make improvements. Both types of producers share a common goal of reducing their environmental impact and their mutual support and understanding are critical to success.

In 2022, the National Pork Board and six other organizations were awarded $20 million through one of three climate-smart grants in which NPB is involved. Nestrade SA, Sustainable Environmental Consultants, Trust in Food (Farm Journal Inc.), Farm Credit Council, Millborn Seeds and Ducks Unlimited, Inc. to promote climate-smart agricultural practices and increase the sustainability of U.S. pork products. The grant provides producers financial assistance to implement sustainable practices on the ground, uses scientific models to show the effects of these practices on the climate and connects these improvements and data to the end user—ultimately building trust with consumers.

Partnerships spanning the entire supply chain are undoubtedly powerful, but it's equally important for producers to collaborate with their checkoff organizations. By doing so, producers not only benefit their farms but also contribute to the betterment of the entire U.S. pork industry. Through these collaborations, they ensure the positive impact of their efforts stays within their industry and product, which leads to greater trust from consumers. This enhanced confidence in the quality and sustainability of their products helps to demonstrate that pork is good for people, pigs and the planet.

As we celebrate National Ag Day, let’s remember those shared values that unite us, so we can continue growing a climate for tomorrow and ensure everyone has access to the resources they need to thrive.

Monday, March 13, 2023


Fighting the Good Fight for Farmers and Our Future

By: Dr. Jacqueline Applegate, President of Bayer’s Crop Science division in North America

In the 50 years since the inaugural Ag Day celebration, agriculture has been a steady force in our economy and a persistent example of the values of hard work, community, and dedication to a noble profession that provides for our society.

The years have brought improved technologies and exciting innovation, but also the need to navigate new weather patterns, increasing public scrutiny, complicated international trade realities, and more.

The sentiment of Ag Day is that farmers do not stand alone. We, as an industry – many of us having grown up on farms, or like me, in a rural community – are deeply invested in the success of farmers. And every day, but especially on Ag Day, is an opportunity to show our gratitude to the men and women who work tirelessly to provide the needed food, feed, fiber and fuel for our growing world.

Bayer is dedicated to supporting farmers on and off the field – including advocacy on behalf of their interests. We partner with grower groups and industry associations to advocate on issues that impact farmers, including support for farmers’ access to options when it comes to choosing the technologies they need to run their operations productively and sustainably.

As more and more of society finds itself removed from farming, we are there to tell the story of American agriculture and champion its needs – from Washington, to state capitals and even globally – anywhere decisions impacting farmers’ businesses are being made.

I am proud to lock arms with others in the industry in defense of farmers’ access to the best and most sustainable technologies available today. And my colleagues and I work tirelessly to develop and deliver transformative solutions for tomorrow – like our Smart Corn System with Short Stature Corn, which will help customers succeed through holistic solutions that help manage risk through season-long access and improved standability in difficult weather.

Every investment we make in innovation is also an investment in sustainability, which is important to Bayer, important to the customers we serve today, and important to the next generation that will inherit our progress to lead the agriculture of tomorrow.

Being at the forefront of what’s next for agriculture requires a commitment to cultivating a workforce of the future. We are passionate about supporting the next generation of ag leaders through partnerships like our Science Matters initiative to provide the 4-H STEM challenge, Ag Innovators Experience, Youth in Action Award, and Ignite by 4-H. It is also an honor to sponsor the youth organizations participating in Ag Day, including 4-H, FFA, MANRRS, and AFA.

Building the future of farming requires insight and foresight to convert some of the world’s biggest challenges into the biggest breakthroughs for mankind. In a rapidly changing world, the stable roots of agriculture’s rich history provide the inspiration to innovate for an even better tomorrow.

While National Ag Day allows us to recognize and celebrate the pivotal role of America’s agriculture industry, I encourage everyone to join me in being an AGvocate every day! Let’s all do our part to share and support the amazing story of American agriculture.