Tuesday, July 11, 2017

Washington, DC seen as worst: NRDC mapping project shows how hotter climate and CO2 can have severe air quality impacts in AZ, CT, CO, DC, DE, IL, IN, MA, MI, MO, NH, NY, OH, PA, RI, UT, VA & WI.

Washington, DC seen as worst: NRDC mapping project shows how hotter climate and CO2 can have severe air quality impacts in AZ, CT, CO, DC, DE, IL, IN, MA, MI, MO, NH, NY, OH, PA, RI, UT, VA & WI. WASHINGTON (July 11, 2017) – Four out of 10 Americans live in “double whammy” counties where unhealthy smog and pollen-producing ragweed– both tied to the growing climate crisis – combine to threaten respiratory health, a Natural Resources Defense Council mapping project released today shows. NRDC’s analysis found air quality “hot spots” in states and areas with the greatest percentages of people living in areas with both ragweed and unhealthy ozone days. Ironically, Washington, D.C., -- where climate action is being rolled back — leads the rankings followed by Connecticut, Rhode Island, Illinois and Pennsylvania. 127 million Americans live in zones where increased carbon dioxide and ozone smog pollution largely from burning fossil fuels, combined with more ragweed pollen, can worsen respiratory allergies and asthma. That can lead to more sick days, higher medical costs, and a rise in the number of heart problems and premature deaths each year. “It’s alarming: Today 127 million Americans live where ragweed and ozone can threaten their next breath. And climate change can make matters worse,” said Kim Knowlton, senior scientist at the Natural Resources Defense Council, who oversaw the mapping project. “This double-whammy health threat will just get worse if we don’t curb climate change soon. It’s one reason why protecting our public health in the face of climate change is so important, not taking dangerous steps to unravel historic climate action.” Juanita Constible, special projects director in NRDC’s climate and clean air program, said, “It’s ironic and tragic that the nation’s key ‘hot spot’ is Washington, D.C., the very place where wrongheaded policy threatens to make climate and pollution problems worse by the day. We should instead continue on the path to strong ozone pollution limits, curbs on power plant carbon pollution and better vehicle fuel efficiency. That’s how we’ll ensure that Americans, today and tomorrow, have clean air to breathe.” NRDC unveiled the climate health maps in a telephone press conference today. In terms of the actual “double whammy” of smog and pollen, the 15 jurisdictions with the highest percentage of residents living in counties with both ragweed and unhealthy ozone days, in order, are (starting with the worst): the District of Columbia, Connecticut, Rhode Island, Illinois, Pennsylvania, Utah, Ohio, Arizona, Michigan, Massachusetts, Delaware, Wisconsin, New Hampshire, Indiana and Kansas. Other states that have been at the forefront of climate and clean energy action and are impacted include Colorado, Missouri, Montana, Nevada, New York, Virginia and Wisconsin. Because climate change is one of the most serious global health threats, NRDC undertook the mapping project to show—by state and county -- how climate change can affect air pollution and public health on the local level. The climate health mapping project also highlights how local solutions can make the air safer and what state governments can and should do to curb climate-change fueled dirtier air, while the Trump administration moves to unravel national leadership on addressing climate change. Climate change is the central environmental challenge of our time. Carbon pollution from power plants and vehicles, and other greenhouse gases are contributing to hotter global temperatures, sea level rise and more extreme weather. Sixteen of the 17 warmest years globally since record keeping began in the 1880s have occurred since 2001, according to NASA and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. Rising temperatures and carbon pollution worsen smog and ragweed. Higher temperatures speed up the formation of smog. And rising carbon dioxide levels enhance the growth of ragweed and other pollen producing plants and as warm seasons get longer, higher pollen concentrations will be produced over a longer period each year. Climate change will increase the number of bad air days across much of the United States. This puts millions of Americans at risk for irritated eyes, noses, and lungs, but it’s particularly dangerous for young children, older adults, people who work or exercise outside, and our country’s more than 24 million asthma sufferers. NRDC recommends steps individuals and others can take to head off a climate-propelled public health crisis, including: * Calling on companies and decision makers at all levels of government to help reduce smog-forming pollution and carbon pollution from power plants, vehicles, and other sources. * Demanding that our federal, state, and local governments prepare for the health threats of climate change. Today, less than one-third of U.S. states have developed a plan to address the health impacts of climate change. * Calling for implementing climate policies such as the Clean Power Plan to clean up dirty power plants. NRDC’s climate health maps and data are here: https://www.nrdc.org/climate-change-and-health-air-quality

Friday, July 7, 2017

Drovers, Farm Journal Foundation Strive to Meet Million Dollar Challenge

Philadelphia (July 6, 2017)—Farmers, ranchers and agribusinesses across the country have donated more than $640,000 to the Drovers/Farm Journal Foundation Million Dollar Wildfire Relief Challenge to benefit ranchers, pushing the partnership with the Howard G. Buffett Foundation more than half way to its goal. In May, the Buffett Foundation generously agreed to match, dollar-for-dollar, all monetary donations made by July 31 up to $1 million. The goal of the Challenge is to raise at least $2 million, including the match by the Buffett Foundation, to help ranchers affected by the devastating March wildfires rebuild what they lost, particularly fencing. The fires burned 1.6 million acres in Kansas, Texas, Oklahoma and Colorado, leaving thousands of miles of fence burned or damaged, among other things. By June 29, donations had been made online and by mail, from 46 states. Many donations were accompanied by handwritten notes of support, well-wishes and gratitude, reflecting the generous spirit of American farming country. “We are grateful for the outpouring of support to date and we’re working hard to meet the full challenge. This is a rare opportunity to double the magnitude of assistance to ranchers—and we’re hopeful that all of agriculture will pull together to meet the challenge by the July 31 deadline,” said Charlene Finck, Chief Content Officer of Farm Journal Media and President of the Farm Journal Foundation. Rebuilding efforts are underway, but the road ahead is long and arduous. More than 1.6 million acres of pasture will require special attention to forage type, grazing pressure and rainfall; an estimated 18,000 miles of fencing needs to be replaced at a cost of up to $10,000 a mile; and thousands of cows will need to be added back to herds across the High Plains. “It is great to see that our matching contribution pledge is helping inspire others to show their support for ranchers who are working hard to rebuild what the wildfires destroyed,” said Howard G. Buffett, Chairman and CEO of the Howard G. Buffett Foundation, and part of the ranching community in southeast Arizona. “We look forward to matching these funds and bringing additional aid to the ongoing recovery efforts.” All donations will be administered through the Working Ranch Cowboys Association Foundation, a respected national nonprofit dedicated to assisting working ranch cowboys and their families in times of need. To learn more and to track wildfire relief efforts and keep up to date on the ranchers’ continuing story, visit www.WildfireReliefFund.org. About the Howard G. Buffett Foundation The Howard G. Buffett Foundation has committed over $1 billion since its inception in 1999 to catalyze transformational change to improve the world and the lives of the most impoverished and marginalized populations. We see the Foundation’s resources as the rare risk capital that can be deployed to create change in even the most difficult of circumstances. We invest our funding in three main areas: global food security; conflict mitigation; and public safety. About Drovers Drovers, the trusted information partner to farmers and ranchers since 1873, has unprecedented reach across the industry delivered through the multi-media platforms of Farm Journal Media. Our print magazine reaches 250,000 cattlemen, the largest coverage of any national cattle magazine, while the Drovers brand delivers daily news and market information on Drovers.com, newsletters, CattleExchange, AgriTalk radio and AgDay TV. About Farm Journal Foundation The Farm Journal Foundation is a 501(c)3 organization that works with U.S. farmers, ranchers and next generation populations to inform and engage national level policymakers on the important role that the United States can and should play in addressing global food security. About the Working Ranch Cowboys Association Foundation The Working Ranch Cowboys Association is headquartered in Amarillo, TX. The mission of WRCA is to promote ranching and to preserve the lifestyle of the working rancher and the working ranch cowboy. In 2001, WRCA formed a 501c3 foundation with the mission of providing financial assistance to working ranch cowboys and their families through scholarship funding and crisis assistance. The WRCA Foundation has provided over $3.5 million in financial support to ranching families since its inception. The 2017 school year will see 38 youth on scholarship which is the largest number in the history of the foundation. Crisis can happen anywhere at any time and the foundation is here all year long to provide support to the ranching community.

Sunday, June 25, 2017

CONYERS & BLUMENAUER INTRODUCE LEGISLATION TO PROTECT POLLINATORS & AMERICA'S FOOD SYSTEM

(WASHINGTON) – Today, Representative John Conyers, Jr. (D-Mich.) and Representative Earl Blumenauer (D-OR) along with 24 other Members of Congress introduced the “Saving America’s Pollinators Act of 2017.” The legislation requires the Administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency to take swift action to prevent mass bee die-offs and protect the health of honey bees and other critical pollinators by suspending the use of certain bee-toxic insecticides, known as neonicotinoids. It also requires the Secretary of the Interior, in coordination with the Administrator of the EPA, to monitor the health of native bee populations and to identify and publicly report the likely causes of bee kills. Recent research provides evidence of a link between neonicotinoids and poor bee health. Bee populations have declined steadily since 2006, and the continued decline will have serious implications to our food supply. Rep. John Conyers, Jr. (D-Mich) said, “We must act now to preserve America’s food system. One of every three bites of food we eat is from a crop pollinated by honey bees. We depend on them as key suppliers to our food and crop selection. Unfortunately, the current administration is looking to reduce the funding to programs that protect our nation’s pollinators. As a result of the massive, widespread decline of honey bee populations throughout the country, our nation’s crops such as apples, soybeans, and sugar beets will soon disappear. The ‘Saving America’s Pollinators Act’ will address this threat to honey bee populations by suspending the use of certain neonicotinoids and by requiring the EPA to conduct a full review of the scientific evidence before allowing the entry of other neonicotinoids into the market.” Rep. Earl Blumenauer (D-Ore.) said, “Bees and other pollinators play a critical role in our food supply. With their populations declining at an alarming rate, we need to take a step back and resolve the questions surrounding the safe use of these pesticides. The long-term viability of our farms and food system depends on it.” With the introduction of the Saving America’s Pollinators Act, Congress will follow the example states like Maryland, Connecticut, and Minnesota and local communities like Eugene, OR; Spokane, WA; and Seattle, WA that have already adopted measures to protect pollinators from neonicotinoids. The federal government has also taken action to discontinue the use of neonicotinoids on national wildlife refuge system lands. This bill is supported by: American Bird Conservancy, Avaaz, Audubon Society of New Hampshire, Bat World Sanctuary, Inc., Beyond Pesticides, Center for Biological Diversity, Center for Environmental Health, Center for Food Safety, Central Maryland Beekeepers Association, Earthjustice, Ecological Farming Association, Environment America, Equal Exchange, Fair World Project, Family Farm Defenders, Friends of the Earth, Food Democracy Now!, Food and Water Watch, Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy, Maine Organic Farmers and Gardeners Association, National Co+op Grocers, National Organic Coalition, Natural Resources Defense Council, Northeast Organic Dairy Producers Alliance, Northeast Organic Farming Association of Connecticut, Northeast Organic Farming Association - Interstate Council, Northeast Organic Farming Association – Massachusetts, Northeast Organic Farming Association of New Jersey, Northwest Coalition for Alternatives to Pesticides, Maine Organic Farmers and Gardeners Association, Maryland Pesticide Education Network, Midwest Organic Sustainable Education Service, Organic Consumers Association, Organic Farmers' Agency for Relationship Marketing, Inc., Organization for Bat Conservation, Oregon Tilth, People and Pollinators Action Network, Pesticide Action Network North America, Pollinate Minnesota, Sierra Club, Regeneration International, United Natural Foods Inc., The Cornucopia Institute, Toxics Action Center, Toxic Free North Carolina, and International Association for Human Values.

Wednesday, May 31, 2017

Applications Now Open for 2017 Precision Impact Award

Lenexa, Kan. (May 31, 2017)—Each year, the Precision Impact Award (PIA) recognizes a retailer or management individual on a national level for excellence in incorporating precision agriculture into their retail operation and their farmer-customers’ operations. Entries for the 2017 award are now being accepted for consideration. “Ag retailers are on the front line of helping farmers implement sustainable and profitable practices with precision ag. They play a valuable role in providing cutting-edge and practical technologies that improve farmers’ yields,” said Rhonda Brooks, AgPro Editor. “AgPro is proud to help recognize leaders in the industry with the Precision Impact Award.” The award recipient will be announced during the annual ARA Conference and Expo, which is slated for Nov. 28–30, 2017, at the Arizona Biltmore Hotel in Phoenix. During the conference, the winner will be presented the Precision Impact Award and will have their business highlighted for exceptional achievement. The award recipient will also be featured in AgPro magazine. SST Software is sponsoring the PIA for a second consecutive year in conjunction with AgPro magazine and the Ag Retailers Association. “This award represents the best innovation in precision agriculture, and SST strives to create and provide this innovation to the retail market,” said Joe Akin, SST Software Chief Operating Officer. All submissions for the award are due no later than Aug. 31, 2017.

Thursday, May 4, 2017

Mars, Incorporated Launches THE COCOA EXCHANGE

An Experiential Platform in Chocolate MT. ARLINGTON, NJ (May 3, 2017)–Mars, Incorporated announced today the launch of THE COCOA EXHANGE™, a direct to consumer platform that provides a rewarding way to turn a passion for cocoa into a worthwhile profession. THE COCOA EXCHANGE™ products are designed to be experienced, not to sit on a store shelf, which is why the brand brings them to consumers directly through specially curated in-home experiences. Cocoa has been a passion of the Mars family for more than 100 years. Launched in the family kitchen in Tacoma, Washington, today Mars, Inc. is the world’s largest chocolate company. This exceptional pedigree, combined with the contribution of three in-house culinary chefs, brings chocolate to life in unexpected formats that are 100% exclusive to the THE COCOA EXCHANGE™. Committed to providing a truly wide-ranging experience, THE COCOA EXCHANGE™ offers three curated, proprietary brands: • DOVE® SIGNATURE™ - Dive into the silky smooth world of DOVE® SIGNATURE™ chocolate • PURE DARK™ - Explore chocolate beyond the candy bar, for serious chocolate adventurers • POD & BEAN™ - Discover your new secret ingredient in the kitchen with POD & BEAN™ products. Offering limitless savory options all made with chocolate, from White Chocolate Raspberry Honey Mustard to Chipotle Hot Sauce, you’ll find that cocoa goes with just about everything. The direct to consumer format of THE COCOA EXCHANGE™ provides a simple and rewarding opportunity for anyone looking for a “side hustle.” As a Curator, any cocoa-obsessed individual can take their love of chocolate and turn it into their own business by hosting an in-home tasting experience for friends and family. With the culinary expertise of Mars and a broad range of chocolate offerings, individuals can customize their approach based on their preferences and the tastes of their Hosts and customers. THE COCOA EXCHANGE™ Curator opportunities include: • Hosting an in-home experience, which is simple and rewarding - their friends will have a blast and hosts earn credits which they can use to shop for free! • Creating custom experiences for their tasting experiences using 100% exclusive products. • Selling through online retail – Curators have their own personal online storefront that is always open, collecting orders and is maintained by THE COCOA EXCHANGE™ • Earning flexible income and perks, including o 25-40% commissions on personal sales o Product Discounts o Flexible schedule and an opportunity to have their own business THE COCOA EXCHANGE™ is also committed to giving back. Mars, Inc. mapped the Cocoa Genome and with a bean-to-bar process, they lead the world’s chocolate producer’s Cocoa Sustainability efforts. DOVE® and THE COCOA EXHANGE™ have also partnered with CARE®, a premier humanitarian organization, to provide women in the Cote d’Ivoire, a cocoa producing country in West Africa, with Village Savings & Loan Associations where they can learn business skills and build their own businesses.

Five U.S. Delegates Among 100 Young Leaders Appointed to Help Tackle Global Food Security Challenge at International Agriculture Summit

More than 1,000 applied as delegates for the 2017 Youth Ag-Summit to be held October 9-13 in Brussels, Belgium RESEARCH TRIANGLE PARK, N.C. (May 3, 2017) – Crop Science, a division of Bayer, is pleased to announce that five millennials in agriculture have been selected to represent the U.S. at the third Youth Ag-Summit, to take place in Brussels, Belgium, from October 9-13, 2017. The young leaders are part of a delegation of 100 people from 49 countries selected to participate in a week-long think-tank focused on identifying innovative, sustainable and actionable solutions to address global food security challenges. Themed “Feeding a Hungry Planet,” this year’s summit aims to address the U.N. Sustainable Development Goals of ending hunger, achieving food security and promoting sustainable agriculture. This year’s summit will be the third that Bayer has offered to young people around the world, and represents a long-standing history of support for the next generation of leaders and innovators. “The agricultural industry can contribute strongly to achieving some of the key U.N. Sustainable Development Goals, but this also requires the active involvement of the next generation. The Youth Ag-Summit aims to give young leaders the opportunity to foster their ideas, share best practices and explore the role of modern agriculture in feeding a hungry planet,” said Liam Condon, member of the Board of Management of Bayer AG and head of the Crop Science Division. The five young delegates representing the U.S. are: Anna Gomes, age 20 from Ferndale, California, is an undergraduate at the University of California, Davis studying agriculture and environmental education with an emphasis in plant and soil science. She is a National FFA alum, has held internships with the Climate Institute in Washington, D.C., and participated in study abroad programs taking her everywhere from London to Paris. All of these experiences have ultimately solidified her passion for plants. During high school she started an agricultural business, Anna’s Herbs, growing and marketing herbs and flowers to local consumers through farmers markets. Trading labor for greenhouse space, she worked for a local farmer and learned the basics of farming, marketing and nurturing young crops. All this has led to her current activities, which include a biology lab assistant, serving as a research intern for the UC Davis Water Management Lab, and the SCOPE Project, a plant breeding for organic systems initiative. Upon graduation in 2018, she will focus on researching climate change and its impact on food production. Ben Carson, age 20 from Plant City, Florida, found early inspiration through his upbringing in the thriving farming region of Central Florida. Although citrus production used to be one of Florida's largest economic drivers, the citrus industry has been greatly impacted by citrus greening. This exposure helped foster an early interest in agriculture and the belief in the importance of growing nutritious food for thriving communities. During high school, he furthered that interest by spending his spring breaks in Brazilian favelas working with impoverished, food insecure children. Today, he is a finance and marketing major at Samford University. After graduation, he hopes to provide management consulting services to agricultural businesses to boost economic development around the country. Emily Buck, age 24 from Gallatin, Tennessee, has devoted her career to agricultural policy. Buck grew up on a 400-acre family farm, participated in 4-H and FFA, and later earned a Bachelor’s degree in Animal Science from the University of Tennessee, a background that fostered her passion for agriculture. She currently works for the House of Representatives as a congressional staffer for Diane Black, where she guides policy on agricultural issues. As someone who lives with Crohn’s disease, Emily knows what it’s like to go long periods without food. The resulting difficulty with studying and maintaining a job during those times has given her a personal glimpse into one dimension of what it’s like to be profoundly hungry. This has inspired her quest to find solutions for others by helping to foster a policy environment in which agriculture can flourish. Julie Greenwald, age 21, from Boston, Massachusetts, is pursuing a double major in environmental studies and cultural studies, with a minor in peace and justice from Villanova University. The young scholar has earned a 3.94 GPA, was on the Dean’s list for three consecutive terms and has raised more than $23,000 for the university. Beyond these accomplishments, Greenwald spent five weeks living and working on organic farms in three Belgian cities this past summer. Her agricultural career aspirations are guided by her belief that food security is a basic human right. Field experience at home and abroad, coursework and her personal research have all inspired her to roll-up her sleeves alongside her peers to discover solutions to one of the most complex problems of our time. Noah Hamlish, age 22 from Chicago, Illinois, is a Thomas J. Watson Fellow researching aquaculture practices in Thailand, Indonesia, New Zealand, Chile, Norway and Scotland. He received a B.A. in biochemistry and molecular biology from Wesleyan University. There he was an elected member of the American Society of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology and recipient of the Scott Biomedical Prize and William Firshein Prize in molecular biology for research completed during his senior year. He also held an undergraduate research fellowship at Scripps Institution of Oceanography and an internship at the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution, where he cultivated a passion for understanding the foundations for healthy aquatic environments.He hopes to combine his scientific background with his recent experiences on fish farms to promote new perspectives on aquaculture in his community. In the future, he would like to direct food science research that benefits sustainable, socially conscious urban farming and food production initiatives through studying more efficient biological systems. The chosen delegates – who all share a passion for agriculture and a vision of a world without hunger – will undertake group projects and participate in industry tours, as well as learn from expert guest speakers. Their mission is to come up with concrete new ideas that can drive agricultural progress across the globe and be put into practice back home. To be considered for participation, delegates were required to submit essays on the topic of food insecurity, factoring in the U.N.’s Sustainable Development Goals. A total of 1,187 essays from 95 different countries were submitted, all of which were reviewed by a panel of industry experts, including six U.S. judges representing national youth leadership organizations such as the FFA and 4-H, academia, a former Youth Ag-Summit delegate and Bayer. The 100 delegates attending this year’s summit hail from the following 49 countries: Argentina, Australia, Bangladesh, Belgium, Bolivia, Botswana, Brazil, Canada, Chile, China, Colombia, Denmark, Ecuador, El Salvador, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Guatemala, Hungary, India, Indonesia, Ireland, Italy, Japan, Kenya, Lithuania, Malaysia, Nepal, Netherlands, New Zealand, Nigeria, Paraguay, Philippines, Poland, Russia, South Africa, Spain, Sri Lanka, Sweden, Tanzania, Thailand, Turkey, Uganda, Ukraine, United Kingdom, USA, Vietnam and Zimbabwe. Summit partners include Groene Kring (GK) and Fédération des Jeunes Agriculteurs (FJA). Visit www.youthagsummit.com to meet the delegates and to learn more about the Summit. Follow the latest news on @YouthAgSummit or https://www.facebook.com/YouthAgSummit/.

Wednesday, April 5, 2017

Farmers and Ranchers Need Comprehensive Tax Reform

WASHINGTON, D.C., April 5, 2017 – America’s farmers and ranchers need a flexible tax code that gives them freedom to both grow and adapt quickly to changes beyond their control, the American Farm Bureau Federation told Congress today. Pat Wolff, senior director of congressional relations for AFBF, addressed agriculture’s need for sweeping tax reform in a hearing before the House Agriculture Committee. “Running a farm or ranch business is challenging under the best of circumstances,” Wolff said. “Farmers and ranchers need a tax code that recognizes the unique financial challenges that impact them.” Wolff urged Congress to create and retain tax policies that support high-risk, capital-intensive businesses like farms and ranches. Farm Bureau supports many of the provisions in the House’s proposed blueprint for tax reform, including reduced income tax rates, reduced capital gains taxes, immediate business expensing, and estate tax repeal. But, Wolff explained, the plan can be improved by reinstating benefits like the deduction for business interest expense and guaranteeing the continuation of stepped-up basis, cash accounting and like-kind exchanges. “Farming and ranching is a cyclical business where a period of prosperity can be followed by one or more years of low prices, poor yields or even weather disaster,” Wolff said. Farmers, she added, depend on flexibility and benefits in the tax code that allow them to recover capital investments and put their money back to work on their farms quickly. Tax reform is critical to the sustainability of American agriculture and farmers’ ability to feed, fuel and clothe the nation. “Farming and ranching is both a way of life and a way of making a living for the millions of individuals and families that own 99 percent of our nation’s more than 2 million farms and ranches,” Wolff said. A comprehensive tax reform package must not overlook the financial tools farmers and ranchers depend on for keeping their businesses viable from one season to the next.

Monday, April 3, 2017

AFBF and NGFA Urge Senate to Confirm Sonny Perdue as Agriculture Secretary This Week

WASHINGTON, D.C., April 3, 2017 – The American Farm Bureau Federation and National Grain and Feed Association today joined in calling on the U.S. Senate to confirm Sonny Perdue as the 31st agriculture secretary this week before beginning a two-week spring recess on April 7. The Senate Agriculture Committee, in an overwhelming bipartisan vote on March 30, approved recommending confirmation of the former two-term Georgia governor to the full Senate. “U.S. farmers, ranchers and agribusinesses – and the consumers we serve – need the strong, capable leadership at USDA that Gov. Perdue will provide,” the AFBF and NGFA said. “He is a dedicated, accomplished, innovative, problem-solving and proven public servant, and we need him at the USDA to begin addressing a backlog of policy issues that are awaiting his attention and to begin the process of filling key positions within the department. It also is vital to have Gov. Perdue engaged fully within the administration and with Congress on international trade, farm bill and regulatory issues affecting U.S. farmers, ranchers and agribusinesses.” Perdue has the bipartisan support of six past agriculture secretaries, the AFBF and NGFA noted, as well as the support of nearly 700 agriculture groups from across the nation.

Wednesday, March 29, 2017

Grand Prize Winners Announced in Truckload Carriers Association/Overdrive Magazine/TruckersNews.com Driver of the Year Contests

Owner-Operator of the Year: Gary Buchs, who is leased to Landstar System, Inc. and Company Driver of the Year: Murray Manuliak of Bison Transport win prestigious contest NASHVILLE, Tenn. – At the Truckload Carriers Association’s (TCA) annual awards banquet tonight, the organization and its partners Overdrive Magazine and TruckersNews.com, announced the winners of the 2016 Driver of the Year Contests. The Owner Operator of the Year is Gary Buchs of Colfax, Illinois, who is leased to Landstar System, Inc. of Jacksonville, Florida. The Company Driver of the Year is Murray Manuliak of Brandon, Manitoba, who drives for Bison Transport of Winnipeg, Manitoba. Both drivers received a $25,000 cash prize for their achievements. To view photos from the event, click here. The prestigious annual contests, sponsored by Love’s Travel Stops of Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, and Cummins Inc. of Columbus, Indiana, recognize the top owner operators and company drivers in the U.S. and Canada who provide reliable and safe truck transportation in moving the nation's goods. The overall winners are selected from the finalists based on safe driving, efforts to enhance the public image of the trucking industry, and positive contributions to the winners’ local communities. For the owner operator candidates, business-owner skills are also judged. Russell Stubbs, TCA’s 2016-17 Chairman, said, “The lifeblood of the trucking industry is its drivers. They work tirelessly day in and day out, but often only get noticed when something goes wrong. In recognizing safe, dedicated drivers like Murray and Gary, we hope to shine a light on the great things our drivers do every single mile.” Manuliak has been a professional truck driver for 25 years, accruing over 3.1 million consecutive accident-free miles. He serves as an in-cab instructor in Bison’s Driver Finishing Program, which has allowed him to share his experience with the next generation of truck drivers. “Murray is well-spoken and has a strong voice within our organization, making sure our business is a leader in safety,” said Rob Penner, president and CEO of Bison Transport. “He is a role model for all professional drivers to follow.” Manuliak has also had success in truck driving competitions. In his first year driving in the Provincial Truck Driving Championships, he won Rookie of the Year honors and helped Bison to win Team of the Year, and he has earned 1st place in the Super B category as well as represented Team Manitoba in the National Truck Driving Championship, where he earned 3rd place. Gary Buchs, the Owner Operator of the Year winner, has driven 2.3 million consecutive accident-free miles over the last 27 years, earning him numerous awards including Landstar’s 10-year Safe Driving Award, 10 Landstar Star of Quality Awards, and the 2015 TravelCenters of America Citizen Driver Award. “Gary’s commitment to the safety and education of others speaks to his ability to represent our industry in a positive light,” said Jim Gattoni, president and CEO of Landstar. “He would make an outstanding ambassador to the public, projecting an image that is worthy of the industry’s safe, honorable, customer-driven professionals who deliver the goods that touch our lives every day.” In addition to his work behind the wheel, Buchs dedicates his time to helping others and staying active. He spends at least one week per year assisting victims of major wind or flood damage, and donates produce from his farmstead to local food pantries. Buchs is an avid runner who completed the Chicago Marathon in 2015. He attributes his good health to maintaining a balanced life. “When I make balance a priority, when I get home, I can park the truck and fully turn my mind and body to those other important aspects of my life,” he said. Brad Holthaus, vice president of trucking media sales at Randall-Reilly, the company that produces Overdrive Magazine and TruckersNews.com, said, “Gary and Murray represent professional truck drivers who are skilled at moving an 18-wheeler from point A to point B—their safety records are in the top 2% of all truck drivers—but beyond their driving skills, they represent kind, caring citizens who are dedicated to helping others. As deft as they are at driving, they are even better men.” Each of the runner-ups in both categories received checks for $2,500: Philip Keith of Long Beach, Mississippi, who is leased to WEL Companies, Inc. of De Pere, Wisconsin; Kevin Kocmich of Litchfield, Minnesota, who is leased to Diamond Transportation System, Inc. of Racine, Wisconsin; David McGowan of Marinette, Wisconsin, who drives for WEL Companies; and William Poteet of Lakeland, Florida, who drives for Saddle Creek Transportation, Inc. of Lakeland, Florida. For further information on the competition, please visit www.truckload.org/Driver-of-the-Year and follow TCA on Facebook—www.truckload.org/Facebook—and Twitter—www.truckload.org/Twitter. You can also learn about this year’s Annual Convention on both social media sites with the hashtag #2017TCA.

Saturday, March 25, 2017

Waffle day celebrated

To conduct the NationalToday.com International Waffle Day Survey, the researchers at National Today [www.nationaltoday.com]—America's favorite online destination to commemorate quirky and fun holidays—asked 1,000 Americans about their favorite breakfast foods. *** NATIONALTODAY.COM INTERNATIONAL WAFFLE DAY SURVEY ***(survey of 1,000 Americans, conducted on March 20, 2017) >> THE VAST MAJORITY OF AMERICANS LOVE MAPLE SYRUP ON THEIR WAFFLES 62% of Americans say that maple syrup is their favorite waffle topping. That's more than 6x the second-place winner—butter, which is the favorite waffle topping of just 10% of Americans. >> BUT GIVEN THE CHOICE, MOST AMERICANS WILL TAKE BUTTER, TOO Although most Americans would choose maple syrup over butter if they were forced to choose only one topping, 65% of Americans love butter on their waffles. The good news? Most of us don't have to choose—we can have both. >> RANKING OF THE TOP 10 WAFFLE TOPPINGS #1: Maple Syrup (62%) #2: Butter (10%) #3: Fresh Fruit (8%) #4: Peanut butter (4%) #5: Fruit sauce (4%) #6: Nutella (4%) #7: Chocolate syrup (3%) #8: Honey (2%) #9: Jelly/jam (2%) #10: Apple butter (2%) To learn more about International Waffle Day, you can visit [http://nationaltoday.com/world/international-waffle-day]. While there, you can also read about other fun holidays, including National Peanut Butter and Jelly Day [http://nationaltoday.com/us/national-peanut-butter-jelly-day/]and National Beer Day [http://nationaltoday.com/us/national-beer-day/].

Friday, March 10, 2017

Reese’s Crunchy Cookie Cup to launch

HERSHEY, Pa., March 10, 2017 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- After rumors swirled on social media last week, Reese’s brand confirmed today that it is launching a new product – Reese’s Crunchy Cookie Cup. It’s a Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup stuffed with crunchy, chocolate cookie bits. The confirmation brings an end to the online #Cupspiracy that started two weeks earlier, driving excitement and anticipation for the newest item. “You could say this combination is ‘cuptivating,’” said Ryan Riess, Senior Brand Manager, Reese’s Brand. “Reese’s fanatics are one-of-a-kind. They have a love and devotion to the brand that is unlike anything I have ever seen, and have been buzzing at the potential thought of a new innovation from the brand. We’re excited to finally let the secret out of the bag and end the #Cupspiracy - announcing the new Reese’s Crunchy Cookie Cup. You could say we crushed it!” The new product will be available on shelves nationwide starting in May in both standard two-cup size 1.4-oz. (SRP $1.09) and king two-cup Big Cup size 2.68-oz. (SRP $1.79). • Official Product Name: Reese’s Crunchy Cookie Cup • Size: Standard two-cup size 1.4-oz. (SRP $1.09), and in king two-cup Big Cup size 2.68-oz. (SRP $1.79). • Availability: The product will be available on shelves nationwide starting in May • Image: https://share.agencyroad.com/message/nFROJGx4prTRKAGJsITGmU (Expires March 18)

McAlister's celebrating like the Irish

McAlister’s is celebrating like the Irish with two fun and festive offerings: • Wear Green, Get Green – Participating McAlister’s locations are offering free Green Tea to all guests wearing green on March 17 • Reuben Spud – The Reuben Spud is an oven-baked spud topped with corned beef, sauerkraut, Thousand Island and Swiss. Your own Pot(ato) of gold! The limited time only, Irish-inspired Reuben Spud can be found at participating McAlister’s locations from March 13-17

DeLauro Calls for Single Food Safety Agency after Connecticut Resident Dies from Listeria-Contaminated Cheese

WASHINGTON, DC — Congresswoman Rosa DeLauro (CT-03) today released the following statement regarding news that a Connecticut resident has died in connection with a multi-state outbreak of Listeria monocytogenes tied to cheese. The Listeria outbreak comes as the U.S. Food and Drug Administration is also investigating a nationwide outbreak of Escherichia coli O157:H7, more commonly known as E. coli. “News that a Connecticut resident has died and more people across the country have become sick after consuming Listeria-contaminated cheese is both tragic and troubling. More than 100 years after we enacted the Pure Food and Drug Act of 1906 and more than 6 years after we enacted the Food Safety Modernization Act, Americans should not be dying from the food they eat. President Trump should take outbreaks of foodborne illnesses seriously and should immediately fill the vacancies at the FDA, as well as rescind the federal hiring freeze. When American lives are at stake, we cannot afford any lapses in food safety oversight. “Congress should also enact the Safe Food Act, which I plan to reintroduce in the coming months, in order to streamline inspections, enforcement, and labeling into a single food safety agency. Through this legislation, we can enable consumers, like those affected by the current cheese and SoyNut Butter outbreaks, to turn to a single point of contact when they are impacted by foodborne illnesses. A single agency could also enhance the food safety efforts of food companies by helping them identify potential issues sooner and avoid major problems later.”

Tuesday, February 28, 2017

President Trump Overturns WOTUS

WASHINGTON (February 28, 2017) – The National Corn Growers Association today applauded President Donald Trump for issuing an executive order repealing the 2015 Waters of the U.S. (WOTUS) rule. “We appreciate the Trump Administration’s commitment to reducing regulatory burdens for America’s farmers and ranchers,” said NCGA President Wesley Spurlock. “We fully support the repeal of the WOTUS rule. Farmers and ranchers care deeply about clean water, but this rule had significant flaws. It was arbitrarily written, legally indefensible, and extremely difficult to implement.” The WOTUS rule, which was issued by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and Army Corps of Engineers under the Obama Administration, was challenged in courts by more than 30 states, environmental organizations, and numerous industry groups including the National Corn Growers Association. In October 2015, a federal appeals court issued a stay preventing the rule’s implementation. “NCGA remains committed to work with the EPA to ensure farmers have clarity and certainty they need about the regulations affecting their operations,” said Spurlock.

Friday, February 17, 2017

Culver’s Launches Third Annual FFA Essay Contest

Restaurant celebrates FFA Week with contest that sends FFA chapters to national convention PRAIRIE DU SAC, Wis. – Feb. 20, 2017 – There are already 649,355 reasons to celebrate National FFA Week, but Culver’s is adding one more. On Feb. 20, Culver’s will kick off its third annual FFA Essay Contest to award three winners the funds to send their FFA chapters to the National FFA Convention & Expo in Indianapolis, Oct. 25-28, 2017. The essay contest asks FFA members to submit an essay in response to the following questions: As a future ag leader, what do you want people to know about the agricultural industry? How will you help to educate them on this subject? Culver’s will award prizes for the top three essays, providing winners with $7,500, $5,000 and $2,500 respectively. To submit their essays, FFA members should visit Culvers.com/essaycontest. The contest ends March 31, 2017, at 5 p.m. CST. “We’re excited to continue to hear firsthand from such passionate and knowledgeable students about the topics that are important to them,” said Jessie Corning, senior marketing manager for Culver’s. “With the FFA Essay Contest, more FFA members have a chance to attend the convention and immerse themselves in the agricultural community.” Annually, more than 60,000 FFA members attend the conference, which provides opportunities for members nationwide to unite and celebrate their collective accomplishments while learning about some of the 235 unique careers that exist in the industry of agriculture. One of last year’s winners, Hannah S., shared her chapter’s experience at the convention here. National FFA Week runs from Feb. 18-25, 2017, and is an opportunity for FFA members and friends to advocate for agricultural education and share the positive impact that FFA has on its 649,355 members in 7,757 local chapters across the United States, Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands. Culver’s essay contest is part of the restaurant’s Thank You Farmers program, which recognizes the hard work of the nation’s farmers and helps ensure the future of the next generation of agricultural leaders. To date, the Thank You Farmers initiative has raised over one million dollars in support of the National FFA Organization and Foundation, local FFA chapters and a variety of local agricultural organizations.

Friday, February 10, 2017

Is your Valentine true? Consumer org issuing warning about costly sweetheart swindles

Washington, DC—Have you been chatting online with what seems to be the perfect sweetheart? Experts at Fraud.org, the National Consumers League’s flagship fraud prevention and education program, are warning consumers to be wary of the inauthentic online relationships that end up costing victims hundreds or even thousands of dollars. Falling in love with a con artist has consistently been ranked as one of the most expensive scams for victims who have reported their experiences to Fraud.org. In 2016, sweetheart swindles were the 9th-most reported form of fraud, and the most expensive for victims, with a median loss of $2,000. “In a typical romance scam, victims are approached online, through a dating website, a social media platform such as Facebook, or another type of online forum. Scammers go to great lengths to cultivate romantic interest with their victims,” said John Breyault, NCL vice president of public policy, telecommunications and fraud. “They nurture the relationship, build trust, and then convince victims to send money, sometimes days or even months into the new ‘relationship.’” Once a sense of trust is developed, the con artist asks for money to be sent to help them out of a dangerous or difficult situation. Scammers often run the same game on multiple victims at once, claiming that they need money to come visit their new friend-victim, or for medical bills, legal help, or some other unexpected emergency. If the victim agrees to pay, there are inevitably additional requests for money to cover other fictitious expenses until the victim comes to realize it is a scam and stops paying, or worse, runs out of money to give. In a complaint received at Fraud.org last month, “Jennifer,” a 32-year-old woman from Wisconsin, reported losing $35,000 to a sweetheart scammer. Her story is similar to the typical romance swindle: Jennifer met a man named “Nick” on the dating website OKCupid. Nick claimed to be from Australia but living in Nebraska. Shortly into their online relationship, Nick had to go to Africa for a business trip. While he was there, Nick was robbed and needed $3,000-$4,000 to buy a plane ticket to return to the United States. Having developed romantic feelings for Nick, she obliged and sent the cash to help him. Following this, Nick told Jennifer he had a string of more unfortunate, and fake, events—getting arrested, needing a diplomatic passport, his mother was sick and dying, contemplating suicide, having a heart attack, and getting arrested again. Throughout all of this, Jennifer agreed to his requests for cash through credit card advances, iTunes gift cards, and even sending iPhones. In all, Jennifer is now in credit card debt for $31,000, not including all the cash she wired to her sweetheart. “Stories like these are both heartbreaking and unfortunately typical of what we hear from victims,” said Breyault. “Millions of consumers meet friends and find romance online, but there are a determined group of criminals out there eager to relieve victims of their cash in the name of love. The best defense consumers have is to learn about the signs of a scam in order to spot them before it’s too late.” Red flags that your relationship might be a costly set-up to a scam: • The “relationship” becomes romantic extremely quickly, with quick pronouncements of love or close friendship. • The person you’re communicating with makes excuses about not being able to speak by phone or meet in person. • Your suitor requests that you wire money or cash a check or money order on their behalf and send them the funds. For more information on sweetheart swindles and other scams of the heart, visit Fraud.org.

Wednesday, February 8, 2017

Reps. Peterson, Conaway Reaffirm Crop Insurance Support Prior to Farm Bill

(BONITA SPRINGS, Fla.) – Leaders from the House Agriculture Committee expressed their continued support for crop insurance and urged agriculture to remain vigilant against farm policy critics during the upcoming Farm Bill debate. The Committee’s Ranking Member, Collin Peterson (D-Minn.), spoke at the crop insurance industry’s annual conference this week, calling crop insurance “a safety net that really works for producers.” He praised private-sector delivery as one of the main reasons for its success over the years. “When the government tried to run crop insurance, it just didn’t work,” he said, referring to the period before private providers were tapped in 1980 to deliver insurance protection to farmers. The public-private partnership that characterizes crop insurance today prioritizes customer service and innovates to meet the changing risks that farmers face, Peterson explained. “We just need to make sure we keep it that way in the future,” he noted. Peterson wasn’t alone in applauding the current structure of crop insurance. Chairman Mike Conaway (R-Tex.) told the group via video message that private industry and a “motivated agent workforce on the ground,” have helped increase crop insurance participation over the years. This, he said, has reduced taxpayer risk exposure and virtually eliminated the need for costly ad hoc disaster bills in agriculture. “Put simply, crop insurance is working,” Conaway continued. “For every farmer, banker, and rural businessman I talk to, they all remind me that crop insurance is the cornerstone of the farm safety net.” Conaway noted that Farm Bill hearings would begin before the end of the month, and Peterson expressed his desire to deliver a bill before the end of the year. To do so, Peterson stressed, agriculture and its allies must work together to beat back critics of farm policy who want to leave farmers with fewer risk management tools. The Chairman agreed. “We can win this fight. We will win this fight because we are in the right,” he concluded. “We stand for an industry that blesses this nation with every bushel or bale that’s produced. This is an industry worth fighting for.”

Wednesday, February 1, 2017

Culver’s Raises Over $360,000 for Agricultural Organizations in 2016

PRAIRIE DU SAC, Wis. – Feb. 1, 2017 –Culver’s restaurants across 24 states continue to build support for American agriculture as part of the chain’s Thank You Farmers program. Since its inception in 2013 over a million dollars has been raised in support of the National FFA Organization, local FFA chapters and a variety of other agricultural organizations. Culver's remains committed to sourcing the finest ingredients America's family growers have to offer. The restaurant chain has turned its gratitude into full-fledged support of today's farm families, while providing financial support to those young people wishing to pursue a career in agriculture. In 2016, over $360,000 was raised for local FFA chapters, the National FFA Foundation and other agricultural organizations across the country. Included is over $31,000 for the Blue Jacket program, where Culver’s sponsors the cost of purchasing FFA jackets for members who otherwise wouldn't be able to own this special attire. In addition, following the passing of Culver’s President and CEO Phil Keiser last fall, $25,000 was contributed in his name for an FFA endowment scholarship. “We’re proud to see the enthusiasm with which our franchisees and guests have supported Thank You Farmers,” said Jessie Corning, senior marketing manager and member of the National FFA Foundation Sponsors’ board of directors. “We recognize the hard work and dedication of farm families and building awareness of the critical role agriculture has in our lives.” As the Thank You Farmers program enters its fifth year, Culver’s will be involved in fundraising opportunities during National FFA week beginning Feb. 18. Included is the annual essay contest where FFA chapters have the chance to win money toward a trip to the 2017 National FFA Convention & Expo. Culver’s will also be signing up restaurants to sponsor additional FFA jackets. About Culver’s Culver’s serves fresh food, always cooked to order, with genuine family values to each and every guest. Culver’s is currently operating more than 600 restaurants in 24 states. The restaurants’ award-winning customer service is based on small-town, midwestern values, genuine friendliness and an unwavering commitment to quality and freshness. Signature items include the ButterBurger®, made from fresh, never frozen Midwest-raised beef, and Fresh Frozen Custard, including the famous Flavor of the Day program. For more information, visit www.culvers.com, www.culvers.com/facebook, www.twitter.com/culvers, www.gplus.to/culvers or http://www.instagram.com/culvers. About National FFA Organization The National FFA Organization is a national youth organization of 649,355 student members as part of 7,859 local FFA chapters in all 50 states, Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands. The organization is supported by 225,891 alumni members in 1,934 local FFA Alumni chapters throughout the U.S. The FFA mission is to make a positive difference in the lives of students by developing their potential for premier leadership, personal growth and career success through agricultural education. The National FFA Organization operates under a federal charter granted by the 81st United States Congress, and it is an integral part of public instruction in agriculture. The U.S. Department of Education provides leadership and helps set direction for FFA as a service to state and local agricultural education programs. For more, visit the National FFA Organization online at FFA.org and on Facebook, Twitter and the official National FFA Organization blog. About National FFA Foundation The National FFA Foundation builds partnerships with industry, education, government, other foundations and individuals to secure financial resources that recognize FFA member achievements, develop student leaders and support the future of agriculture education. Governed by a 19-member board of trustees composed of educators, business leaders, individual donors and FFA alumni, the foundation is a separately-registered nonprofit organization. About 82 percent of all sponsorship dollars received by the foundation support FFA members and agricultural education opportunities. For more information, visit the National FFA Foundation at http://www.FFA.org/Give.

Tuesday, January 31, 2017

IHOP® RESTAURANTS EXTENDS ‘ALL YOU CAN EAT PANCAKES’ FOR GUESTS UNTIL FEBRUARY 12

For a Limited Time, Breakfast Lovers Can Enjoy As Many of the World’s Most Delicious, Fluffiest Buttermilk Pancakes They Want at an Incredible Value at IHOP Restaurants Nationwide (January 30, 2017 – Glendale, CA) – The anticipation has been building since fans took to social media last year to beg IHOP® Restaurants to bring back ‘All You Can Eat Pancakes.’ So, to thank loyal Breakfastarians everywhere, today IHOP announced the extension of this wildly popular promotion, which lets guests dig into unlimited orders of its freshly made, world-famous Buttermilk Pancakes for a great price* until February 12! Just in time to gather family and friends and celebrate the New Year, IHOP’s ‘All You Can Eat Pancakes’ offer features a great value on the fluffy, golden pancakes that set the breakfast standard almost six decades ago. After enjoying a full stack of five Buttermilk pancakes – or a short stack of two pancakes with a combo plate of eggs, golden hash browns and choice of sausage, ham or hickory-smoked bacon – guests can request additional short stacks of two Buttermilk pancakes until they’ve fulfilled their craving. ‘All You Can Eat Pancakes’ is available all day, every day for the month of January at participating IHOP restaurants nationwide. “The best way we know to kick off the New Year is to offer our guests’ favorite freshly made breakfast at IHOP’s best value. Almost six decades after serving our first stack of delicious, made-to-order Original Buttermilk Pancakes, IHOP continues to bring people together,” said Kirk Thompson, senior vice president, Marketing, IHOP. “Every year our guests look forward to IHOP’s ‘All You Can Eat Pancakes’ offer, asking for the return of a great value on our signature pancakes, to be enjoyed any time of day, every day, for the entire month.”

Beat Foodborne Illness this Super Bowl

WASHINGTON, Jan. 31, 2017 — As excitement for this year's Super Bowl grows, the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) encourages consumers to use safe food handling practices at a championship level and avoid becoming one of the estimated 48 million Americans who gets sick from foodborne illnesses each year. The Super Bowl draws over 100 million television viewers who consume approximately 1.3 billion chicken wings during game day parties. With an average National Football League game taking more than 3 hours to play, Americans will be mixing plenty of football watching with food during Super Bowl parties. At these parties, it is vital to keep foods out of the "Danger Zone," which is the temperature range between 40 °F and 140 °F. When foods are left in the "Danger Zone," bacteria can multiply rapidly, causing a single bacterium to multiply to 17 million in 12 hours. Avoid serving Super Bowl favorites, such as pizza and chicken wings, at room temperature for the entire game. When serving food or ordering takeout food, use the following game plan: • If warm takeout foods are to be served immediately, keep them at 140 °F or above by placing in chafing dishes, preheated warming trays or slow cookers. • If take-out foods will not be served immediately, either keep them warm in a preheated oven, or divide the food into smaller portions or pieces, place in shallow containers, and refrigerate. At serving time, reheat to 165 °F. • Cold foods that are served should be kept at 40 °F or below, which can be done by nesting serving dishes in bowls of ice. Avoid storing food outside, where the sun can quickly warm foods in plastic storage containers and animals can get into. • Start a game day tradition by using a food thermometer to ensure foods being served to guests are not in the "Danger Zone." To ensure home prepared chicken wings are safe, follow these tips: • Do not wash raw chicken wings. Sixty-seven percent of respondents in a 2016 FDA food safety survey indicated they washed raw chicken parts; however washing will not destroy pathogens and may increase the risk of contaminating other foods and surfaces. • Ensure chicken wings are safe to eat by verifying they have reached an internal temperature of 165 °F. Take the temperature of multiple wings in the thickest part of the wing being careful to avoid the bone. If you need food safety coaching, call your personal coaches at the USDA Meat and Poultry Hotline, at 1-888-MPHotline (1-888-674-6854) or chat live with a food safety specialist at AskKaren.gov, available from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Eastern time, Monday through Friday, in English or Spanish. Learn more about key food safety practices at foodsafety.gov and on Twitter @USDAFoodSafety.

Truckload Carriers Association and CarriersEdge Announce 2017 Best Fleets to Drive For

ALEXANDRIA, Va. and MARKHAM, Ont. – The Truckload Carriers Association (TCA) and CarriersEdge are pleased to announce the 2017 Best Fleets to Drive For. These 20 for-hire trucking companies from across North America are being recognized for providing exemplary work environments for their professional truck drivers and employees. “These companies represent the best of the best in truckload. As industry innovators, they bring fresh ideas that not only create a desirable workplace for employees, but also propel trucking to exciting new terrains,” said TCA President John Lyboldt. To be considered for the Best Fleets program, companies operating ten or more trucks were required to receive a nomination from at least one of its company drivers or owner-operators. CarriersEdge then interviewed human resources representatives and executives of the nominated fleets regarding their corporate direction, policies, and programs, and evaluated the fleets against a scoring matrix covering a variety of categories, such as total compensation package, health benefits, pension plans, professional development opportunities, and career path/advancement opportunities, among other criteria. Driver feedback from a selection of each fleet was then compared with management’s and incorporated into the final score, resulting in the selection of this year’s winners and honorable mentions. Fleets raised the bar for driver programs more dramatically this year than any previous year. Without further ado, here are the 2017 Top 20 Best Fleets to Drive For: Bison Transport Winnipeg, MB Boyle Transportation Billerica, MA Central Oregon Trucking Company, Inc. Redmond, OR Challenger Motor Freight Inc. Cambridge, ON Fremont Contract Carriers, Inc. Fremont, NE FTC Transportation, Inc. Oklahoma City, OK Garner Trucking, Inc. Findlay, OH Grand Island Express, Inc. Grand Island, NE Halvor Lines, Inc. Superior, WI Interstate Distributor Co. Tacoma, WA Kriska Holdings Ltd. Prescott, ON Landstar System, Inc. Jacksonville, FL Maverick Transportation, LLC North Little Rock, AR Motor Carrier Service, LLC Northwood, OH Nussbaum Transportation Hudson, IL ONE For Freight Milton, ON Prime Inc. Springfield, MO Smokey Point Distributing Arlington, WA TLD Logistics Services, Inc. Knoxville, TN TransPro Freight Systems Ltd. Milton, ON Two companies, FTC Transportation, Inc., and Halvor Lines, Inc., have achieved the milestone of five consecutive years on the Best Fleets list, while Motor Carrier Service, LLC, Fremont Contract Carriers, Inc., Landstar System, Inc., and Grand Island Express, Inc. have continued their streaks as Best Fleets, each appearing on the list for over the fifth time. Five companies have also been identified as “Fleets to Watch” honorable mentions for demonstrating innovation in their driver programs: Crete Carrier Corp. Lincoln, NE Hirschbach Motor Lines, Inc. Dubuque, IA Kroon Brothers Transport, LLC Hanover, PA Paper Transport, Inc. De Pere, WI Transport Corporation of America, Inc. Eagan, MN Phase two of the contest will divide the highest scoring fleets into small and large fleet categories, from which two overall winners will be selected. These awards will be sponsored by EpicVue of Salt Lake City, UT, and Bose Ride of Framingham, MA. The overall winners’ names will be announced during TCA’s Annual Convention, March 26-29, 2017, at the Gaylord Opryland Resort & Convention Center in Nashville, Tennessee. Follow the hashtag #BestFleets2017 and TCA’s Twitter account (www.truckload.org/Twitter) and Facebook page (www.truckload.org/Facebook). For more details about Best Fleets to Drive For, visit www.BestFleetsToDriveFor.com.

Monday, January 30, 2017

Over 100 food and farm groups oppose Puzder for labor secretary

Coalition urges senators to reject nominee, citing long track record of workers’ rights violations and conflicts of interest with role as CEO of CKE Restaurants Washington, DC -- Today, 105 food and agriculture organizations, representing more than 10 million people across the food system, sent a letter to Capitol Hill urging senators to oppose the confirmation of fast food CEO Andrew Puzder as secretary of labor. This clarion call from the nation’s farmers, food-system workers and public health advocates, led by Corporate Accountability International, Food Chain Workers Alliance, Friends of the Earth, and Real Food Media, comes on the heels of growing opposition and controversy surrounding Trump’s pick to head the Department of Labor. A recent Capital & Main investigation found that under Puzder’s watch as CEO, CKE Restaurants faced more federal employment discrimination lawsuits than any other major fast food chain. The corporation violated workers’ rights, including wage theft and failed to provide employees with overtime pay. “Andrew Puzder is dangerous for working families and bad for our food system,” said Jose Oliva, co-director, Food Chain Workers Alliance. “The country needs a labor secretary who will protect working families, not corporate interests. Puzder’s track record as CEO of CKE Restaurants proves that he should be kept as far away from Washington as possible.” The letter calls the nomination of Andrew Puzder a betrayal of the president’s promise to “improve the lives of working people” and urges senators to reject Puzder’s nomination. It expresses grave concern with the conflicts of interest between Puzder’s tenure at CKE Restaurants and the responsibilities of a labor secretary, including the fact that: • Puzder’s company has faced numerous Department of Labor violations for failing to pay the minimum wage or overtime. • Sixty percent of inspections at Carl’s Jr. and Hardee’s restaurants found labor law violations. • Puzder has opposed both raising the minimum wage and enforcing overtime rules and mandatory sick leave. “Putting an outspoken critic of worker protections and a living wage in charge of the Department of Labor is straight out of an Orwellian nightmare,” said Kari Hamerschlag, deputy director of food and technology, Friends of the Earth. “The Senate must reject the nomination of Puzder if it cares at all about the basic rights of working people.” Since Puzder’s nomination, advocacy groups have documented numerous workers’ rights violations under the watch of the former fast food CEO. For instance, research released by the Restaurant Opportunities Centers (ROC) United reveals a long history of labor violations at CKE Restaurants during Puzder’s tenure. Surveys from hundreds of CKE employees reveal that women working at CKE reported more than 1.5 times the rate of sexual harassment as reported for the industry overall. “The choice of Andrew Puzder for secretary of labor is a dangerous one for this country’s working families,” said Sriram Madhusoodanan, Value [the] Meal campaign director, Corporate Accountability International. “If President Trump truly wants to ‘drain the swamp’, why is he nominating people like Puzder, who have played an outsized role creating the swamp in the first place?” In January, Carl’s Jr. and Hardee’s workers joined the Fight for $15 in opposing Puzder’s nomination, taking part in actions in more than two dozen cities. Widespread opposition and questions surrounding Puzder’s company’s labor practices have prompted Congress to postpone the nomination hearing until February. “Across the country, millions of people are demanding real change when it comes to our food system and the people who work in it,” said Anna Lappé, founder, Real Food Media. “Our Department of Labor must reflect those people -- not corporate bottom lines. It is unacceptable to nominate someone who has such a callous attitude to the struggles of working families to head the labor department.” The organizations signed onto the letter represent a broad cross-section of the food and labor movement, uniting groups like the Union of Concerned Scientists, Earthjustice, the Coalition of Immokalee Workers and the Workers’ Center of Central New York, among many others. The unprecedented nature of this coalition underscores the unique threat Puzder faces to people advocating for environmental protection, workers’ rights, and healthy food.

Thursday, January 26, 2017

Titan Farms Wins the 2017 Top Producer of the Year Award

Chicago, Ill. (Jan. 26, 2017)—Fruit and vegetable producers Chalmers and Lori Anne Carr of Ridge Spring, S.C., have been named the 2017 winners of the Top Producer of the Year award. The husband-and-wife team are owners of Titan Farms, which produces peaches on 5,300 acres as well as peppers and broccoli on 870 acres. “Chalmers and Lori Anne are first-generation farmers who have built an impressive operation on sound business principles and a defined approach to management,” noted Sara Schafer, Editor of Top Producer magazine. “They have adapted their business strategy to changing consumer trends and have strived to build a dedicated and engaged team.” Chalmers and Lori Anne are owners and serve as president and vice president, respectively. They are a premier grower, packer and processor of peaches and vegetables in the eastern U.S., and they serve as the largest supplier to retailers such as Walmart, Harris Teeter and Wegmans. The Carrs employ 40 full-time employees and 630 H2A workers. Sponsored by Bayer CropScience and Case IH, the Top Producer of the Year contest is in its 18th year and represents the best in the business of farming. Three finalists are chosen from among numerous applications by a panel of judges based on entrepreneurial originality, financial and business progress and industry and community leadership. Also honored as finalists during the annual Top Producer of the Year banquet held Wednesday night in Chicago were brothers Richard and Roderick Gumz of Gumz Farms in Endeavor, Wis.; and John Pagel of Pagel’s Ponderosa Dairy in Kewaunee, Wis. A total of 800 attendees participated in Farm Journal Media’s Top Producer Seminar, including more than 500 of the nation’s largest producers, representing over 4 million acres. Producers came to Chicago from 26 states. “There is no other event in agriculture that attracts such a concentration of the nation’s top producers,” said Doug Catt, Vice President, Crop Division, Farm Journal Media. “In the span of a few days, Top Producer Seminar attendees hear from the industry’s best experts and network with like-minded producers, as well as sponsors.” This year’s seminar theme, “Keep Calm, Farm On: Controlling Chaos in Uncertainty,” featured more than 30 different educational sessions for producers to hone their money, marketing and management skills and deal with today’s volatile farm economy. Premier Sponsors of the 2017 Top Producer Seminar include: Advance Trading; BASF; Bayer; Beck’s; Cargill; Case IH; Channel; CropZilla; Dow AgroSciences; DuPont Pioneer; ESN; FarmersEdge; Farmers Business Network; John Deere; K•Coe Isom; Soybean Premiums; Top Third Ag Marketing; Verdesian; Co-sponsors are: AgYield; CliftonLarsonAllen; Gulke Group; Rabo AgriFinance; Zaner Ag Hedge Supporting Sponsors: AllTech; BMO Harris Bank; Transition Point Business Advisors For more information on the Top Producer Seminar, visit www.TopProducerSeminar.com.

Tuesday, January 24, 2017

When is corn in season? Right now with this 360-degree video series

BLOOMINGTON, Ill., Jan. 24, 2017 /PRNewswire/ -- Consumers are more interested than ever in what really happens on today's farms, so Illinois corn farmer Justin Durdan decided to "show and tell." In a series of pioneering 360-degree videos, Durdan spent 2016 offering consumers a personal, panoramic view of the season-long action on his family's corn and soybean farm in LaSalle County. With the release of the "harvest" video, the Illinois Corn Marketing Board's series covers all four farming seasons – planning, planting, growing and harvesting. Available on www.watchusgrow.org/home-grown-corn, the videos also feature a Chicago-area radio personality and self-described "city girl" who questions Durdan about current farming practices and technologies. "We know consumers have questions about farming," Durdan says. "The goal with these videos is to answer those questions and let consumers see for themselves what we do on our farm." The video series includes Durdan showing the agricultural technologies he uses during each season – and how they help him be a good steward of the land: • Planning – He uses agricultural software to analyze results from previous years to decide what to plant – and in which fields – during the next season. "This is where stewardship starts," Durdan says. • Planting – An in-cab precision-planting monitor controls the precise number of seeds that are planted in different parts of every field, while GPS helps reduce seed overlap. • Growing – He uses precision technology in his sprayer to control the exact amount of herbicide and fertilizer applied to each plant, depending on what each plant needs. • Harvest – His combine removes the cob from the plant, removes the kernels from the cob and turns the cob and plant residue into mulch for the next year's crop. Durdan, who is the fifth generation to farm his family's land in Streator, believes it's important to give consumers an honest look at advanced ag technologies. "As farmers, we understand the sustainability benefits of today's farm technologies – growing more food on less land with fewer pesticides – but consumers likely don't. We need to keep sharing our story and explaining what we do and why."

Friday, January 13, 2017

U.S. AGRICULTURE GROUPS URGE TRUMP TO STRENGTHEN U.S.-CUBA TRADE RELATIONSHIP

~ National ag coalition encourages new Administration to support American agribusiness by advancing U.S.-Cuba trade relationship ~ WASHINGTON, D.C. - A national coalition of over 100 U.S. agriculture, trade, commerce-related businesses and associations, urged President-elect Trump to support American agriculture by strengthening the bilateral trade relationship between the U.S. and Cuba. The letter, organized by the Engage Cuba Coalition and USA Rice, also encourages the president-elect to support federal legislation that would allow American farmers and agribusiness to compete in Cuba's import market. Cuba imports up to 80% of its food, which amounts to about $2 billion annually, creating a huge potential export market for American farmers that is only 90 miles off our shores. However, U.S. producers are prohibited from offering private credit for the export of agricultural commodities to Cuba, severely restricting the ability of American farmers to compete in Cuba's growing market. "Your support in removing outdated financing and trade barriers for exporting agricultural products to our island neighbor could significantly strengthen a U.S. industry which supports 17 million jobs across the country, and can provide the Cuban people with high-quality American-grown food," the organizations wrote. "As a broad cross-section of rural America, we urge you not to take steps to reverse progress made in normalizing relations with Cuba, and also solicit your support for the agricultural business sector to expand trade with Cuba to help American farmers and our associated industries. It’s time to put the 17 million American jobs associated with agriculture ahead of a few hardline politicians in Washington." More information on Cuba's agriculture import market and federal legislation is available here. Full text of the letter is available here and below: January 12, 2017 President-elect Donald J. Trump 725 5th Avenue New York, NY 10022 Dear President-elect Trump, Congratulations on your successful campaign. On behalf of the undersigned U.S. agriculture, trade, commerce-related businesses and associations, we urge you to continue to show your support for American agriculture by advancing the relationship between the U.S. and Cuba and building on the progress that has already been made. Net farm income is down 46 percent from just three years ago, constituting the largest three-year drop since the start of the Great Depression. This strain on the farm economy is felt across all sectors of the industry and the thousands of small communities that make up rural America. The importance of trade to America’s farmers and ranchers cannot be overstated. The share of U.S. agricultural production exported overseas is 20 percent by volume, with some sectors being much higher. For example, exports account for over 70 percent of U.S. production of tree nuts and cotton, over 60 percent of soybeans, and over 50 percent of rice and wheat. Positive farm income throughout America would not be possible without increasing access to foreign markets, like Cuba. Mr. President-elect, as an international business icon, you understand how difficult it is to be competitive without the ability to extend credit to your customers. We need the Administration’s support for legislation that would remove these arbitrary and archaic restrictions on extending credit for the purchase of agricultural commodities and equipment. Your support in removing outdated financing and trade barriers for exporting agricultural products and equipment to our island neighbor could significantly strengthen a U.S. industry which supports 17 million jobs across the country, and can provide the Cuban people with high-quality American-grown food. Cuba imports nearly 80 percent of its food to feed a population of 11 million people and upwards of three million tourists annually. Cuba’s $2 billion agriculture import market could provide tremendous benefits for farmers across the country and help American agribusiness offset recent losses. In addition to the size of the Cuban market, its proximity to U.S. ports allows for considerably lower shipping costs and shorter delivery times than our foreign competitors. The logistical advantages alone should make Cuba a common-sense partner for two-way commerce. Instead, the federal government overreach has put American farmers at a global disadvantage. U.S. agriculture continues to lose out to our foreign competitors and our net sales have been steadily declining since 2009. As result of trade restrictions, the U.S. has fallen from its position as the number one supplier of agricultural products from 2003 to 2012, to now the number five supplier after the European Union, Brazil, Argentina, and Vietnam. The U.S. needs to be number one again. Especially given many of Cuba’s imports, including rice, poultry, dairy, soy, wheat, and corn make up more than 70 percent of what they import and they’re all grown right here in the U.S. by hardworking American farmers. As a broad cross-section of rural America, we urge you not to take steps to reverse progress made in normalizing relations with Cuba, and also solicit your support for the agricultural business sector to expand trade with Cuba to help American farmers and our associated industries. It’s time to put the 17 million American jobs associated with agriculture ahead of a few hardline politicians in Washington. We look forward to working closely with you and your team, and please let us know if we can provide any assistance moving forward. Sincerely, National Organizations American Farm Bureau Federation American Feed Industry Association American Pulse Association American Seed Trade Association American Soybean Association Corn Refiners Association Independent Professional Seed Association Livestock Exporters Association of the USA National Association of Wheat Growers National Barley Growers Association National Corn Growers Association National Council of Farmer Cooperatives National Farmers Union National Foreign Trade Council National Oilseed Processors Association National Potato Council National Turkey Federation Navajo Agricultural Products Industry North American Millers Association Rural & Agriculture Council of America U.S. Cattlemen's Association U.S. Cava Exports U.S. Dry Bean Council U.S. Wheat Associates USA Dry Pea and Lentil Council USA Poultry & Egg Export Council USA Rice Agribusiness Organizations AGCO Amerex Corporation Bibler Brothers Lumber and Construction Campbell Farms Carnes Farms, Inc. Clark AG Company Claxton Poultry ETW Enterprises, Inc. Shavings & Rice Hulls Falcon Rice Mill Farmers Rice Milling Co. Gulf Wise Commerce Hormel Foods Corporation Kennedy Rice Mill, LLC/Planters Rice Mill, LLC Koenig Vineyards Louisiana Rice Milling Company Mannco Fertilizer Martin Rice Company Newcomb Farms Poinsett Rice & Grain Producers Rice Mill Riceland Foods RiceTec, Inc Riviana Foods – American Rice, Inc Sandy Ridge Cotton Company Simmons Foods Sturman's Smokeshop Texas Rice Belt Warehouse, Inc TRC Trading Corporation State Organizations Alabama Farmers Federation Alabama Poultry Association Argicultural Council of Arkansas Arkansas Farm Bureau Arkansas Rice Council Arkansas Rice Federation California Rice Commission Central Louisiana Rice Growers Association Colorado Farm Bureau Colorado Pork Producers Council Georgia Farm Bureau Idaho Grain Producers Association Idaho Potato Commission Illinois Farm Bureau Illinois Soybean Association Illinois Soybean Growers Iowa Corn Growers Association Iowa Farm Bureau Federation Iowa Institute for Cooperatives Iowa Soybean Association Kansas Association of Wheat Growers Kansas Corn Growers Association Kansas Farm Bureau Kansas Livestock Association Kansas Soybean Association Kansas Wheat Commission Louisiana Farm Bureau Federation Louisiana Rice Growers Association Louisiana Rice Producer's Group Michigan Agri-Business Association Michigan Bean Shippers Michigan Soybean Association Minnesota Barley Council Minnesota Farm Bureau Minnesota Farmers Union Minnesota Grain and Feed Association Minnesota Turkey Growers Mississippi Farm Bureau Federation Mississippi Poultry Association Missouri Farm Bureau New Mexico Cattle Growers Association New Mexico Wine and Grape Growers Association Northeast Louisiana Rice Growers Association Ohio Agribusiness Association Ohio Corn & Soy Texas Farm Bureau Texas Grain Sorghum Producers Texas Rice Producers Legislative Group

Monday, January 9, 2017

Farm Bureau President to Congress: Slash Regulations, Reform Immigration/Ag Labor

PHOENIX, January 8, 2017 – American Farm Bureau Federation President Zippy Duvall and thousands of Farm Bureau members today asked Congress to pass sweeping reform of regulations that burden the lives of farmers and ranchers. Their request followed by days the introduction of major legislation to reassert congressional authority over agencies that increasingly ignore the law and basic constitutional limitations on their power. “The election should send a message—loud and clear—to our politicians: ignore rural America at your own risk!” Duvall said. During his annual address, Duvall issued his request for Farm Bureau members to send e-mails—using their smart phones—to Congress about the need for regulatory reform. And they responded on-the-fly. Duvall also called on Farm Bureau members to explain how, every day, the men and women who grow food for America and the world work to make the environment better. “Just think about it for a minute,” Duvall said. “By using modern technologies, today’s farmers grow more crops on the same amount of land, using less plowing and pesticides, feeding more people. By developing more uses for our crops, like energy, we are making our economy more sustainable. If farmers don’t take care of our land, we cannot stay in business.” Duvall reminded the 5,000 farmers and ranchers in attendance that a reliable and profitable supply of labor is central to economic sustainability. He called on Congress to pass legislation to assure farm laborers can work without fear of deportation. “Without a legal supply of labor, too many farmers face lost crops, and they can’t compete on the world market,” Duvall said. “Mr. Trump says he wants to keep American jobs from going overseas. One way he can do that is by keeping America’s food production in America.” A transcript of Duvall’s speech can be found here: http://www.fb.org/files/Speech_Transcript.pdf.