Monday, February 28, 2011

Ag Day 2011: An Opportunity for New Leadership in Agriculture

Submitted by Bill Lesher, Executive Director, The Global Harvest Initiative

We can all learn from the small group of farmers that came together in 1928 and formed the Future Farmers of America under the goal of preparing future generations to address the challenges of a growing population, roughly two billion at that time.

Fast forward to 2011—the year that global population will hit seven billion—and this goal is more important than ever. The 2011 Ag Day events in Washington, D.C., are a unique opportunity for young people to demonstrate new leadership in agriculture, and look ahead to make a real difference that will improve people’s lives and help alleviate hunger and poverty worldwide.

Today, the challenges of feeding the growing global population are significant. In fact, in the next 50 years, agriculture will be called upon to produce more food than in the previous 10,000 years combined! On top of that, we must accomplish this goal while freezing or shrinking the environmental footprint of agriculture, because we can no longer increase our use of land, water and other resources.

We must grow two blades of grass where one once grew.

The Global Harvest Initiative believes that by focusing on the important issues and encouraging young people to get involved in the agricultural solutions of the future, we can meet these challenges and provide food, feed, fuel and shelter for the 9 billion people projected to inhabit the Earth by 2050.

The Global Harvest Initiative is proud to support the 2011 Ag Day events and the opportunities they provide.  Visit us online at to watch videos, see the latest news clips and resources, and sign up to receive our blog posts, E-newsletters and event updates. You can also follow the Global Harvest Initiative on Facebook and Twitter.

See you in Washington, D.C.!

Monday, February 21, 2011

A New Age for Agriculture

Submitted by Greg D. Horstmeier, Editor-in-Chief, DTN/The Progressive Farmer

Given the rapid pace at which business moves today, it’s no surprise that the technology used in the agriculture industry is evolving on a regular basis. From equipment used in the field to the methods used for buying and selling grain, the industry has seen considerable changes over the past couple decades.

Paper maps, notepads and rotary phones have been replaced by GPS guidance, smart phones and apps. 

For more than 25 years, farmers have relied on technology from Telvent DTN to give them the latest in cash and futures market information, detailed weather and news events.

In the beginning, the company known as Data Transmission Network fed commodity markets and weather information through satellite-based terminals. Over time, that technology evolved and information was delivered to most farmers’ computers. Although the information was accessed via the Internet, farmers and agribusinesses had one option for buying and selling grain: an old-fashioned telephone call, which usually took place before or after the day’s work in the field.

Now, the new breed of agriculture professionals no longer need to be in front of their computer to track the latest market movements, weather forecasts or industry news. Critical business information can be obtained through mobile devices, including cell phones, smart phones, personal electronic devices and even iPads. With the touch of a finger, farmers can stay on top of information that has a direct impact on their operations. 

In addition, farmers and agribusinesses are now engaging in more transactions through online portals. In 2010 alone, more than 113 million bushels were transacted through the Telvent DTN Portal™, nearly double the amount that was transacted through the portal the previous year. 

As the agriculture industry continues to find new ways to optimize the way it does business to keep up with the demands from a growing world population, we celebrate the advances that have already been made in the field and the innovations that are still to come.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

A Career in Agriculture—Preparing for the “Long Haul”

Submitted by Emily Schneider, Agriculture Future of America

The career opportunities in agriculture are infinite. Interested in business? Marketing? Law?  Product development? You can find all of these careers and more within the agriculture industry. After you decide you want to become part of the industry, however, what do you do next?

Today’s school of thought seems to imply to students that to get that job—the quickest way to get your foot in the door—is to fill your resume with activities, study abroad trips, internships and anything else that would set you apart from your competitors.  All of these things are important, but once you land that “perfect job,” do you know what you need to do to succeed in the long run?

Agriculture Future of America (AFA) and Millennium Research recently conducted a study called the AFA Future Leader Preparedness Study. This online study surveyed students and decision-makers throughout the agriculture industry to discover similarities and gaps in the understanding of what it takes to succeed professionally. This was done with the intent to apply the findings to improve and validate core competencies within the AFA Leader Development Model. 

What did those leaders in agriculture say they were looking for in potential employees? You might be surprised to learn that a high GPA, hands-on Ag experience and networking skills were almost at the bottom of the list. Industry leaders reported that above all, they value a self-starting individual who can think through problems with an outstanding work ethic. Why do you think industry leaders are looking for these things? Because they have seen that these qualities equal success—for the company AND for the employee.

To learn more about what these industry leaders look for in their future employees, view the AFA Leader Preparedness Study. Click here for more information about AFA and its programs.

Friday, February 11, 2011

Ag Day & The Teach Ag Campaign Team Up to Bring Awareness to National Shortage of Agricultural Educators

Ag Day and the Teach Ag Campaign announced today that they are combining forces to celebrate two very important things - American agriculture and the need for more agricultural educators.
National Ag Day on March 15th is about recognizing and celebrating the abundance provided by agriculture in the United States.  One key to that abundance has been a steady supply of people choosing careers in the agriculture industry.  Many people learned about those career opportunities in an agriculture program, whether at the high school level or beyond.
Agricultural educators not only expose students to opportunities in agriculture, they give those students the practical and academic skills they need to be successful – whether they’re going into the production, technology or science areas of ag. 
However, agriculture programs are struggling to find qualified educators to fill open positions.  National Teach Ag Day was started as a way for agricultural educators and advocates to celebrate the career of agricultural education and encourage students to consider a career in the field.  This year, National Teach Ag day will fall on March 24th, the week after Ag Day.
“We are excited about our alliance with Ag Day,” said Ellen Thompson, National Teach Ag Campaign coordinator. “It’s a natural fit.  Agricultural educators are in the classroom every day teaching students about the amazing industry that is agriculture.  Teach Ag Day is about promoting our own amazing career and helping more students choose to become agricultural educators.
The National Teach Ag Campaign is an initiative to bring attention to the need for more agricultural educators in the United States.  It provides resources for those who wish to help promote the profession of agricultural education as well as for those who are interested in learning more about a career in agricultural education.  It is led by the National Association of Agricultural Educators.  The campaign is sponsored by Landmark Nurseries and the CHS Foundation as a special project of the National FFA Foundation, and also by Delmar Cengage Learning.
To learn more about the career of agricultural education, visit

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Rep. Frank D. Lucas Announced as Luncheon Speaker

Representative Frank D. Lucas (OK) has been confirmed as the speaker for the Mix-n-Mingle Luncheon on March 15, in Washington, DC. To register for the luncheon visit

Check out the other Ag Day Activities happening in Washington, DC on March 15 at

Monday, February 7, 2011

Ag Provides Sustainability for a Rapidly Growing Population

Submitted by Barry E. Nelson, Media Relations Manager for John Deere
I was recently contacted by National Geographic about a year-long special series on the impact of the global population growing to 7 billion by the end of this year. This surprised me because I knew there were 6 billion people in the world – but now, very quickly, this will rise to 7 billion by the end of the year!

Click here to view a short YouTube video from National Geographic on this population growth.

I thought it was a good sign that a major consumer publication was highlighting the challenges of a rapidly growing population, and how we will provide food, fuel, infrastructure and services to 9 billion by the year 2045. And, we must do this sustainably with less land, water, fertilizer and other inputs.

This year, we will celebrate Ag Day in Washington, D.C., on Tuesday, March 15th. There has never been a more urgent need for everyone in agriculture to pull together to help promote the great accomplishments of production agriculture.

In the past 10 years, farmers have increased yields while using less land, water, fertilizer, pesticides, herbicides and other inputs. They have been the experts on sustainability (before sustainability was a popular topic) and producers have learned to bring greater efficiency in providing safe, healthy food to a growing population. 

But this is not good enough! By 2030, grain producing land per capita will drop to just one-third of what it was in 1950. Water needs will be 17% higher than water availability. Larger government agencies around the world will have more regulations and restrictions on how to produce food, fiber and fuel.  More people will live in cities than rural areas and they will be further removed from the rural culture of our forefathers.

We do have a solution for all of this!  It is based on good science and agronomy, capitalizes on the strength of free enterprise and global trade, and focuses on advancements we are making daily with innovation and new technology.

From the equipment side, we are building smarter machines that run more efficiently, cover more acres in less time with less fuel, and wirelessly communicate with operators, farm managers, dealers and ag consultants. Tractors, combines, sprayers and other self-propelled machines are communicating back to producers and dealers on their overall performance and proactively warn of any performance problems through remote diagnostics.

The overall cab environment on equipment is more comfortable and, through GPS, can steer automatically through the field with greater accuracy and less fatigue for the operator.  The large, comfortable cabs have truly become “field offices” where operators can multitask with smart phone, wireless technology.

Add to this all the innovations in seed technology, fertilizer and crop protection products -- and the ability to deliver these inputs with great accuracy -- the producer of the future will be up to the challenge of feeding 9 billion people. 

Our job now is to make sure government officials, national and state leaders, and consumers are aware of the challenges of population growth. We must all work together to develop long-term strategies to feed and fuel the world of the future. 

We invite everyone in the Ag Industry to participate in the Washington, D.C., event on March 15th. Click here for more details.

We also encourage you to have your own local event on that day … or any time that week to promote Ag Day to your own customers and communities.

If you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to contact me or any board member of the Ag Council of America. Your help would be greatly appreciated!