Ag literacy for growers

Lori Connelly considers a question being asked. Photos by Steve Wagnerby Steve Wagner

“Sometimes when I’m sitting in an airplane or waiting at the dentist’s office, having a conversation with somebody sitting next to me, I feel like I am lost in translation when I am trying to speak agriculture to the folks who are buying our products.” The speaker was Lori Connelly, formerly Communications Director for Penn-Ag Industries, and who has also worked for Land O’ Lakes. She is currently the Executive Director of the Pennsylvania Ag Resource Centers, which is a partnership between the Penn State College of Ag Sciences and the Pennsylvania Legislature.

Connelly acknowledges that the term ‘ag literacy’ is a phrase that is thrown around liberally, and that consumers are in a very interesting place right now. “Their interest in food and where it comes from is very high,” she said, “but their proximity to agricultural production is often pretty low. Most folks are fairly well removed from the farm now. Less than one percent are involved in production agriculture, and yet there is this ever-growing interest in food.” [Read more…]

VA State Feed Association holds annual meeting in anticipation of new growing season

Ed Ebert, Bunge North America, presented a forecast for grain markets in 2015.by Karl H. Kazaks

ROANOKE, VA — During an unusually cold spell in late February, with snow on the ground and snow squalls in the air, the Virginia State Feed Association held its 69th Annual Feed Convention and Cow College. Members of the feed industry, dairy producers, animal nutritionists, and other interested parties attended the three-day event.

For grain producers, the forecast Bunge’s Ed Ebert gave for the coming year was as bleak as the weather outside The Hotel Roanoke.

The prices of corn, soybeans, and wheat, Ebert said, will “remain constrained.” In the U.S., he expects an increase rather than a reduction in acreage planted, have canvassed hundreds of growers at several states around the country at meetings this past winter. Couple that with an increase in projected yields and you get a picture of likely record levels of production, likely leading to an increase of grain stocks, which already are at high levels. [Read more…]

Keynote address

CM-MR-2-PA-KEYNOTE-096by Bill and Mary Weaver

“I would like to speak today about a question that keeps me awake at night,” stated Russell Redding, Keynote Speaker at the 2015 Mid-Atlantic Fruit and Vegetable Convention in Hershey, PA, who was recently nominated to become the next PA Secretary of Agriculture. “Our biggest challenges in agriculture today aren’t consumer preferences or a proper shelf life. What keeps me awake at night is how to bring enough human capital into agriculture,” Redding said. [Read more…]

Creature comforts

CM-MR-2-Improving cow759by Steve Wagner

Concerns about cow comfort haven’t changed much in 130 years other than to diversify those concerns. “When we look at a cow’s day, 75 percent is spent eating and resting,” said Penn State’s Dan McFarland, a Capitol Region Extension Educator from York County PA. “So time away from the pen becomes pretty important.” McFarland was one of the presenters at the 2015 Lebanon Dairy & Crops Compliance Days at the Lebanon Valley Expo Center. When we think of the creature comforts, cow comfort specifically, it is often a passing thought, another one of those incidentals. Dan McFarland is different. He and a handful of ag engineering confreres who are similarly inclined not only think about it; they think about it from this angle and that. They hypothesize and theorize over creature comfort dimensions and measurements to the nth degree, putting it all under the theoretical microscope of time and motion study. Accordingly, he and his wide range of associates have produced charts and graphs to explain how to make life better for cows during every waking, and sleeping, moment. [Read more…]