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Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Cultivating Your Understanding

The second day of the New Century Farmer conference began with the opportunity to engage with commodity groups. Smaller groups parted ways to attend commodity meetings across the Des Moines area. The commodity groups included Iowa Farm Bureau, National Pork Board, Iowa Beef Council, and Iowa Soybean Growers. Participants attending the Farm Bureau Federation enjoyed listening to Denny Harding discuss the energy portion of the Farm Bureau, which included oil, wind, ethanol, and biodiesel. The group was interested to learn that Iowa is the number one producer of ethanol and biodiesel. New Century Farmers then traveled down the street to the National Pork Board to listen to CEO Chris Novak speak on Pork Quality Assurance Plus (PQA), Transportation Quality Assurance (TQA), and the Pork Checkoff program.

Meanwhile, the other half of participants enjoyed learning about how beef checkoff dollars are used within the Iowa Beef Council, and how the Beef Council is used for more promotional purposes. The participants really enjoyed listening to what Nancy had to say about Iowa’s unique majority of corn fed cattle due to the amount of corn grown in close proximity. Students also were able to gain knowledge of Iowa’s soybean industry while listening to Kirk Leeds speak at Iowa Soybean Growers. We were especially interested in soybean bi-products such as their use in foam for seating in cars.

Upon returning to the Pioneer campus, participants debriefed the morning’s activities and enjoyed some lunch. Judd O’Connor, VP of Sales in North America for Pioneer, spoke to us on the future of pioneer genetics and continued research. Pioneer’s money is certainly where its mouth is in terms of research, as 14 cents of every dollar earned is used for new research and development of new corn hybrids and soybean seeds.

The participants were then honored to have Jim Wiesemeyer (Senior VP, Informa Economics) speak on Ag Policy. Interesting facts included:
  • Due to the growing population, food production must increase 50% by 2030, and 70% by 2050
  • China surpassed the US in energy demands and automobile construction, and are currently investing most of their money in infrastructure.
  • The Free Trade agreement in South Korea currently has a 40% tariff on beef and pork imports, and yet there is still strong demand.

Jim Wiesemeyer, Informa Economics, visits with students after he addressess the group on current agricultural policy and issues
Overall, Jim is extremely knowledgeable in so many areas, which allow all participants to come away from his speech with information that is relevant to their operation. His final words left the audience with a sense of hope, as he feels the agriculture industry is one of the only industries that has not reached its peak.

“AGVOCATE!” This was the common theme in Debbie Lyons-Blyth’s presentation. She is mother, wife, and rancher from Kansas and has made it her obligation to advocate for the beef and agriculture industry. “ZIP” Beef is a great way for promoting the beef industry as beef is a great source of zinc, iron and protein.

Students finished out the night with dinner and fellowship at The Machine Shed restaurant. Following the meal students worked on their vision statements for their own operations. They were then able to learn about other participants enterprises by doing speed rounds of Ag in a Bag.

Left: Debbie shared her experience and use of social media to connect with consumers and advocate for the agriculture industry.

Participants take time to share about their own operations

Grant Mackey, Kentucky and Colton Buus, South Dakota


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