Tuesday, March 3, 2015

Agriculture: The Next Generation

by Tracy Zeorian, U.S. Custom Harvesters, Inc.

Just think, Jen, if it hadn’t been for harvest, you would be just like the other kids in your class”. I said this after Jenna (#2 of four daughters) and I had been having a conversation about kids involved in a satellite Ag class. Our rural school has three kids involved in this class this year. Three out of 200.

You could be like the majority of the kids who think their food comes from the grocery store”. She shook her head in agreement. To make this an even more interesting thought, we live in a rural community surrounded by corn, soybeans and farmyards. If it’s hard for kids growing up surrounded by the industry, what must it be like for those who don’t even know what a kernel of corn looks like? I hate to admit it, but if our kids hadn’t been involved with our custom harvesting industry, they would be in the same situation as their peers. We don’t farm and haven’t had farming in our immediate family for several generations.

Jenna’s generation of students are now teaching your children. Most of them knew nothing about agriculture when they graduated. Saying we need to educate children begins with educating our teachers. A teacher is no different than anyone else. It’s easier to educate others if you have the experience and the background. What about time? Do our teachers have the time needed to add Ag curriculum to their already full day? Are they too busy teaching students what is necessary to pass state standard tests? Do they have the necessary and up-to-date curriculum IF they have the time? Is there funding within the districts to purchase the curriculum?

It’s so easy to say we need to educate our next generation.

Do I believe it’s necessary? Absolutely! The same generation of young adults who are our educators are also our leaders. The further removed from the farm, the more difficult it will be for them to understand the importance of agriculture. Agriculture is what feeds us, what clothes us and what keeps America, America. My concern is this – what happens when the farms of today are no longer? Are we ready to pay the higher cost of imported foods which we will have no idea of how they were planted, grown or harvested?

Agriculture education needs to come from the people who love it, who have a passion for what they do and can share their story. Please…tell YOUR story! Tell it to anyone and everyone who will listen. Make a difference and don’t assume someone else will do it.

Monday, February 23, 2015

Planting the Crop, Crossing the Finish Line

By Holly Spangler, Penton Agriculture

In the USFRA-produced documentary, Farmland, there's a scene where the Nebraska corn and soybean farm family plots out their day of planting. They're running behind, racing against rain and planning to run two planters all night, or at least until the rain starts. With his dad lost to cancer, young farmer David Loberg runs one planter, while his mother runs the other. The movie never reveals exactly whether they were able to finish that night, but the swell of the music sure makes you feel like it's possible.

I've tried to figure out what it is that gets me about that scene. I've seen the movie twice and while I cry as this young man tells of losing his dad (tears in the shop? Of course I will cry along), there's something completely compelling about this springtime race against time.

It's a scenario that every last farmer on every last continent knows all too well: the crop must be planted, before the rain comes. It's simple agronomics. Except that it's not so simple when it's your acres and your investment. Your operating loan. Your crop.

And I've wondered: Is this what makes farmers so passionate about what they do? Is it the risk that drives them forward every morning? Or the passion itself?

Either way, it makes for a special profession. A special industry, full of people eager to get up every day, take the risk, and push through to the finish.

Like the Loberg family in Farmland, it's the scene we'll watch play out in townships all across the nation this spring: planting. Racing a marathon rather than a sprint, and pushing onward to the finish line.

Perseverance and hard work. It's the exact things that make American agriculture worth celebrating.

Holly Spangler is the Special Projects Editor at Penton Agriculture. She blogs about issues relating to young farmers, consumers and more at her blog, My Generation.

Saturday, February 14, 2015

Reflections From the New Guy


By Adam Holton, Senior Vice President, Human Resources, CHS Inc.

How would I sum up my first 12 months in agriculture? Technology. Opportunity. Purpose-driven.

While many in agriculture chose their career paths early while growing up on farms or in rural communities, I come from a second, expanding category, those who come from other business sectors. It’s been a year of a considerable learning that has left me feeling both excited and humbled to be part of agriculture and, in the case of CHS, the cooperative system.

So here’s what this newbie has learned about agriculture in his freshman year:

Technology – I joined CHS from a technology-driven medical diagnostics business and wrongly assumed that agriculture wouldn’t stack up where tech is concerned. Instead I’ve been amazed by the precision agriculture in the field, as well as what goes on behind the scenes. It’s inspiring to see what technology has done to help farmers manage against the whims of weather and other unpredictability. At the same time, this underscores why CHS is actively supporting the critical STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) programs that will drive the future technological advances so critical to developing next-generation agriculture employees.

Purpose-driven – I’m proud of my time in the U.S. Marines Corps, where a “what can I do to contribute?” culture always outranked “what can you do for me?” Agriculture and, especially CHS as a cooperative, have the same purpose-driven focus. Every day it’s always about how each of us can support one other and help our farmer-owners grow. That strong work ethic, collaborative spirit and entrepreneurial approach are at our core, whether we’re on the frontlines as farmers, working directly with producers or one of countless employees supporting them behind the scenes.

Opportunity – And the future? A growing and hungry world to feed, advancing technology and a workforce where many are nearing retirement add up to long-term opportunity.

Take it from the new guy. Whether you’re already committed to agriculture or considering the possibilities, you’re in for an exciting time. Most important, you have an opportunity to connect to something meaningful -- feeding a hungry world.










Friday, February 13, 2015

ACA Announces 2015 National Ag Day Essay Contest Winners

The Agriculture Council of America has announced the winners of the 2015 National Ag Day video and written essay contest winners. The winners were chosen based on the 2015 theme, Agriculture: Sustaining Future Generations.


The theme presented an opportunity for students to address how the agriculture industry is rising to the challenges of feeding a growing population. Entrants chose to either write an essay and/or create a video focusing on how today’s growers are overcoming challenges to provide a safe, stable food supply and sustain the significant role agriculture plays in everyday life.


“CHS enthusiastically supports rural youth and is proud to showcase their thoughts and creativity,” says Annette Degnan, marketing communications director, CHS Inc., one of this year’s essay contest sponsors. “The essay and video contests provide the perfect platform for their visions and dreams to be shared with a broader audience.”


The national written essay winner, Theresa Seibel from Roanoke, Virginia receives a $1,000 prize and round-trip ticket to Washington, D.C., for recognition during the Celebration of Ag Dinner held March 18 at Whitten Patio at the USDA. During dinner, she will have the opportunity to read the winning essay as well as join with industry representatives, members of Congress, federal agency representatives, media and other friends in a festive ag celebration. Video essay winner, Harshin Sanjanwala from Madison, Mississippi wins a $1,000 prize, and the winning video will be posted to the Ag Day web site.   This is the 42nd anniversary of National Ag Day. The goal of the ACA is to provide a spotlight on agriculture and the food and fiber industry. The ACA not only helps consumers understand how food and fiber products are produced, but also brings people together to celebrate accomplishments in providing safe, abundant and affordable products.


The Ag Day Essay Contest is sponsored by CHS Inc., High Plains/Midwest Ag Journal, National Association of Farm Broadcasting and Penton Farm Progress Companies.


National Ag Day is organized by the Agriculture Council of America and celebrated in classrooms and communities across the country. ACA is a nonprofit organization composed of leaders in the agricultural, food and fiber community, dedicating its efforts to increasing the public's awareness of agriculture's role in modern society.


Founded in 1973, National Ag Day encourages every American to:
  • Understand how food and fiber 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.
Learn more and register for events at www.agday.org.

Thursday, January 22, 2015

2015 National Ag Day Schedule for Washington, DC Events

Tuesday, March 17

Agri-Pulse’s Ag Day kickoff event in 902 Hart Senate Office Building

3:30 – 5:00 Panel Discussion

Farm to Fork Politics: Unleashing Innovation in Agriculture
Is your next vaccine going to come from inside a vegetable? Can you find your favorite buffalo chicken flavors in hard-boiled eggs? Farmers and agribusinesses across the U.S. are using innovative techniques to produce food, fiber, fuel and even new pharmaceuticals. Hear from leading experts about the opportunities ahead and the challenges they face in trying to innovate, while addressing ever-changing federal standards. Rep. Rodney Davis, chairman of the House Committee on Agriculture’s Biotechnology, Horticulture and Research Subcommittee will also participate in this panel discussion, with Agri-Pulse Editor Sara Wyant serving as moderator.

5:00-7:00 Agri-Pulse Customer Appreciation Reception

Keep the conversation going: Join us for cocktails and hors d’oeuvres after the panel discussion.
Reception with Food and Drink Immediately Following
Sponsored by Agri-Pulse
Free of Charge
To register for these events visit https://nama.formstack.com/forms/agdaylunch

Wednesday, March 18              

11:30 – 1:00 p.m.

Mix & Mingle Luncheon
Venue: Cannon Caucus Room
Program: 11:30 - 1:00 p.m.
Emcee: Orion Samuelson
Speakers: Outstanding Young Farmer
Free of charge.
To register for the Ag Day Mix and Mingle Luncheon visit https://nama.formstack.com/forms/agdaylunch

5:00 – 9:00 p.m.

Celebration of Agriculture Dinner
Venue: Whitten Patio USDA Building
Emcee: Orion Samuelson
Speaker: Essay Contest Winner
Charles Eastin Award Presentation
Video Essay to be played, Poster art on display
This is a ticketed event. 
$150 per person or $1,500 for a reserved table of 10.
To register for the Ag Day Dinner visit https://NAMA.formstack.com/forms/agdaydinner

Sponsorships still available! Contact Jenny Pickett at jennyp@nama.org or visit the Ag Day web site at www.agday.org.

Monday, December 15, 2014

2015 Charles Eastin Outstanding Service Award

To recognize the contributions of the hundreds of volunteers and leaders in the agriculture, food and fiber communities who are dedicated to increasing public awareness of agriculture’s vital role in our society, the Charles Eastin Outstanding Service Award will be presented to an outstanding individual who has contributed as an advocate for communications between farm and city.
• The nominee can be any person over 21 years of age.
• Current members of the Agriculture Council of America Board of Directors are not eligible.
• The person may be nominated by anyone active in agriculture.
• The completed application should be forwarded to the the Agriculture Council of America via email at info@agday.org or submitted online at www.agday.org by February 15, 2015.
• A three-member committee, including at least one member of the ACA Board of Directors will judge the applications and select the recipient.
• The award will be presented at the National Ag Day Luncheon in Washington, DC on March 18, 2015.
• The winner will be reimbursed for reasonable travel expenses to attend the annual Farm-City event to receive the award including coach airfare or mileage for reasonable driving distance, 2 nights hotel room and a $50 per diem for meals and other expenses.
The Charles Eastin Outstanding Service Award is named in honor of Charles “Charlie” Eastin, DVM, who passed away at the age of 86 on January 28, 2011. Dr. Eastin played an important role as a board member of the National Farm-City Council for many years. He served as the 35th Chairman of the NFCC from 1992-1994 and through the years, has chaired and served on many committees. Through his efforts, Lexington, Kentucky hosted a NFCC National Conference in the early 1990’s. As chairman of the Rural Urban Committee, he worked to build and maintain collaboration between the Lexington Rotary Club and University of Kentucky to host activities to further National Farm-City Council goals during Farm-City Week every year.


Charlie’s passion and dedication will continue to inspire those who work on behalf of promoting a greater understanding between rural and urban folk. The award’s tradition continues with the acquision of the Farm City Council by the Agriculture Council of America The Agriculture Council of America is privileged to present this award in his honor.

2015 National Ag Day Essay Contest

The Agriculture Council of America (ACA) calls on ninth- to 12th-grade students to submit an original, 450-word essay or a two-minute video essay about the importance of agriculture. This year’s theme is “Agriculture: Sustaining Future Generations ” and the deadline is January 30, 2015. The ACA asks teachers and parents to encourage student participation.


The theme, “Agriculture: Sustaining Future Generations,” presents an opportunity for students to address how the agriculture industry is an endless source of opportunity for growth and development. Entrants may choose to either write an essay and/or create a video focusing on how today’s growers are overcoming challenges to provide a safe, stable food supply and sustain the significant role agriculture plays in everyday life.


“CHS enthusiastically supports rural youth and is proud to showcase their ideas,” says Annette Degnan, marketing communications director, CHS Inc., one of this year’s essay contest sponsors. “The essay and video contests provide an engaging platform for their voices, vision and dreams to be shared with a broader audience.’”


The national written essay winner receives a $1,000 prize and round-trip ticket to Washington, D.C., for recognition during the Celebration of Ag Dinner held March 18 at Whitten Patio at the USDA. During dinner, the winner will have the opportunity to read the winning essay as well as join with industry representatives, members of Congress, federal agency representatives, media and other friends in a festive ag celebration. The video essay winner wins a $1,000 prize, and the winning video will play during the Celebration of Ag Dinner.


This is the 42nd anniversary of National Ag Day. The goal of the ACA is to provide a spotlight on agriculture and the food and fiber industry. The ACA not only helps consumers understand how food and fiber products are produced, but also brings people together to celebrate accomplishments in providing safe, abundant and affordable products.


The Ag Day Essay Contest is sponsored by CHS Inc., High Plains/Midwest Ag Journal, National Association of Farm Broadcasting, National Agri-Marketing Association and Penton Farm Progress.


All written entries should be sent to: 2015 Ag Day Essay Contest, Agriculture Council of America, 11020 King Street, Suite 205, Overland Park, KS 66210, or submitted by e-mail to essay@agday.org. Students may upload video essays at http://agday.leapfile.net and follow the directions on the page, or students may choose to mail video entries on a compact disc to the address above. Visit www.agday.org to read official contest rules and for more details regarding entry applications.