Wednesday, October 22, 2014

COOL's Ramifications

Today I am sharing an article on COOL (Country of Origin Labeling) policy in the U.S. and how it is affecting agriculture and potentially the entire U.S. economy. The World Trade Organization recently has released a statement that the COOL policy is not fair to beef industry imports from Canada and Mexico. Along with the original article I have linked a document from Canada that lists products that could be retaliated against. Mexico has yet to release their list. After looking over the linked articles discuss the points below.

COOL and WTO Ruling Article

Canada Retaliation List

Discussion Points

  1. Explain COOL and what it's purpose is? 
  2. Look at the retaliation list from Canada that is a possibility. Discuss the list. Are you surprised by products on the list? 
  3. If Canada and Mexico retaliate what would the ramifications be for farmers in the U.S.? What would be the overall impact on the U.S. economy? 
  4. It is a delicate balance between keeping the peace between those demanding COOL and the WTO. What would be your suggestion to the two parties?

Saturday, October 18, 2014

Challenge Accepted!

The third day of the Borlaug Dialogue concluded Friday afternoon. Throughout the three days of the conference many times it was asked, "Are we ready to face the greatest challenge in human history? Can we sustainably feed 9 billion people by 2050?" While there was much debate and dialogue in all areas affecting world food production, I believe all can say "Challenge Accepted!" We all have different roles and ways we can contribute, but it will take all working towards this common goal to achieve it. Below are highlights and key discussion points form Friday. Although the 2014 Norman Borlaug Dialogue has concluded in Des Moines do not let the dialogue stop in your home communities and around the world. Continue the dialogue and lets work towards feeding 9 billion by 2050! Challenge accepted.

Breakfast Address Remembering Norman Borlaug M.S. Swaminathan, 1987 World Food Prize Laureate
  • Highlighted where India was before Borlaug and today.
  • Seed is the starting point of change. Potential has many other factors.
  • Agriculture, nutrition, and health must all be linked together. 
  • How the yield gap was bridged 
    • National demonstrations 
    • Mainstreaming local preference 
    • Research networks
    • Farm schools 
  • Components of the Green Revolution
    • Technology
    • Services
    • Public policies
    • Farmers' enthusiasm
Trend Lines for Political Stability, Global Trade, and Potential Disruptions Moderator: Amb. Kenneth Quinn, President of the World Food Prize.

Hon. Charles Rivkin, United States Assistant Secretary of State; John Hamre, President and CEO for Center for Strategic and International Studies; Amb. Daniel Speckhard, President and CEO of Lutheran World Relief
  • Agriculture is the cornerstone of our economy.
  • Ebola and ISIS are rooted in the same problem...corrupt and unstable governments.
  • Problems are horizontal, countries are vertical.
  • Science may have the answers, but man can destroy quickly if policies are not in place.
  • Reasons why countries are wealthy
    • Quality of agriculture
    • Human resources (cities, factories, roads, etc.)
    • Intangibles (education, stability of currency, judicial system, etc.)
  • The biggest part of our problems are politics.

The Smallholder's Lifeline: Innovations in Agro-Financing and Insurance Moderator: Per Pinstrup-Andersen, 2001 World Food Prize Laureate

Ndidi Nwuneli, Co-Founder of African Alliance for Capital Expansion; Jimmy Smith, Director General of International Livestock Research Institute; Kurt Weinberger, President of International Association of Agricultural Production Insurers; Mohammed Amin Adam, Executive Director of Africa Centre for Energy Policy; Marco Ferroni, Executive Director of Syngenta Foundation for Sustainable Agriculture
  • Agriculture has been, is, and will be the most important sector in the world.
  • We must support smallholder farms with credit and protection against risk.
  • In order for insurance to be successful you need cooperation between government and private.
  • We need to unleash livestock sector. So restricted with policy. Animal agriculture makes up 40% of agriculture.
  • Processing food can cut down major waste of food in Africa.
  • We need to invest in agriculture. This can be done through insurance.
Borlaug's Dream for Wheat: Technology and Collaboration to Confront Rust Disease Moderator: Ronnie Coffman, International Professor of Plant Breeding at Cornell University

Catherine Feuillet, Senior VP Trait Research with Bayer CropScience; Hans-Joachim Braun, Director of the Global Wheat Program; Indu Sharma, Project Director of Directorate of Wheat Research; Mahmoud Sohl, Director General of International Center for Agriculture Research in Dry Areas; Goodarz Najafian, Wheat Breeder and Director General of Seed and Plant Improvement Research Institute in Iran
  • Fungicide can help prevent rust if you know it is coming.
  • Our biggest challenge with rust is complacency.
  • One challenge is getting rust resistant seed to farmers quickly.
  • Carrying forward Borlaug's legacy: Green to Gene Revolution
  • Regional collaboration is needed to meet the challenges in South Asia.
  • Rust is heading east.
Laureate Luncheon Address Sanjaya Rajaram, 2014 World Food Prize Laureate
  • There is a certain knowledge base that cannot be learned in the classroom. You must be in the fields.
  • Nothing is constant. We must learn from history, but not get lost in the past.
  • Policy is needed for fair markets for farmers.
  • Has tried to dedicate his life to something that would make a real difference.
  • Private and public must work together.
  • We must increase production on the land we have with reduced water usage and better nutrient management.

Thursday, October 16, 2014

We Have Work To Do

Day two certainly did not disappoint at the Borlaug Dialogue at the World Food Prize. As the dialogue continued in Des Moines we hope that the dialogue continues in your home communities and classrooms. As yesterday this post includes key points and recaps to spark discussion with others regarding The Greatest Challenge in Human History.

Students from Hawkeye Community College Agriculture department at the World Food Prize

Soil Health and the Fertilizer Gap Moderator: Pedro Sanchez 2002 World Food Prize Laureate

Esin Mete, President of International Fertilizer Industry Association; Ruth Oniang'o, Chair of Sasakawa Africa Association; Amit Roy, President and CEO of International Fertilizer Development Center; Kari Niedfeldt-Thomas Executive Director of Mosaic Company Foundation; Xinping Chen, Director of Center of Ecology and Environmental Sciences at China Agriculture University
  • Healthy crops can only grow in healthy soils. This is achieved with proper fertilization.
  • Make sure soil is protected and productive.
  • Nutrient stewardship and micro nutrient management are key principles in fertilization.
  • In China the problem is too much fertilizer, while in Africa it is not enough.
  • Zinc and iodine deficiencies in humans are a big concern. This needs to be addressed through fertilization of plants.
  • In Finland they have added selenium fertilizer to address heart disease.
Special Address Pamela Anderson, Director of Agricultural Development at the Gates Foundation
  • We need to invest in public plant breeding programs. Has been done with corn. No we must expand to other crops.
  • Two Pathways for Success
    • Increase productivity gains in staple foods
    • Focus on women and girls in agriculture
  • Mobile and digital technology will be huge to increase production.
  • To achieve Sustainable Productivity Growth
    • Increasing potential productivity
    • Increasing realized productivity in the field
    • Transforming productivity into value
Is This the Model to Uplift the African Smallholder? Emma Mugerwa Naluyima, Farmer from Uganda

Dr. Emma shared her one acre farming operation with us. She splits her farm into quarters and produces a balance of vegetables, fruits, livestock and greenhouse products. Nothing on her farm is wasted. She even uses the methane from cattle manure to run her stove. She has added value to her production and is a very successful farmer. She stressed the importance of engaging children and young people in agriculture. For this reason she is building a primary school rooted in agriculture for African children.

Keynote Address Emest Bai Koroma, President of Republic of Sierra Leone (via video feed)
  • Ebola is a disease that attacks youth and farmers. It is destroying farms.
  • Over 75% of population is under 40 in Sierra Leone.
  • Youth must transform agriculture in Sierra Leone.
  • Sierra Leone has seen gains in yields and this trend is continuing.
  • Ebola is affecting everything in their country from agriculture to the economy.
  • We will defeat Ebola and it's deadly ramifications.
Focus on Africa: Policy and Partnerships Moderator: Lindiwe Majele Sibanda, CEO and Head of Food, Agriculture, and Natural Resources Policy Analysis Network

Florence Chenoweth, Minister of Agriculture Liberia; Gerardine Mukeshimana, Minister of Agriculture Republic of Rwanda; Joseph Sam Sesay, Minister of Agriculture Sierra Leone; Paul Schickler, President of DuPont Pioneer; Birtukan Dagnachew, Farmer from Ethiopia

Birtukan started by sharing her success story of farming in Ethiopia that faced many challenges along the way. She shared the following:
  • She credited extension programs for her success.
  • She had a very diverse farm.
  • Agriculture is very labor intensive in Africa
  • Major issue facing Agriculture in Ethiopia
    • Climate change
    • Soil degradation
    • Women are not empowered
Each Minister of Agriculture then shared how their countries are battling the areas addressed above and any unique programs they are implementing in their respective countries.Schickler from DuPont explained how the private sector can help and gave the following keys to solve the problems:
  • Education
  • Partnerships
  • Investment
40 Chances Fellows Award Winners Howard W. Buffett, Lecturer at Columbia University

Howard presented $150,000 to four separate individuals developing agriculture in African countries. Applicants had to be under the age of 40 and the four winners were chosen from a field of over 260 applicants. Each award winner and their program was highlighted.

Symposium Luncheon Address Strive Masiyiwa, Chairman and Founder of Econet Wireless
  • Africa has more cell phones than the United States and Europe combined.
  • Four of ten children will be born in Africa.
  • We must get everyone interested in Agriculture.
  • We must put women at the center of our work to improve agriculture.
  • Average corn yields; United States = 180 bushels/acre, Africa = 20 bushels/acre
Water for Agriculture: Trend Lines and Gaps Moderator: Margaret Catley-Carlson, Member UN Secretary General's Advisory Board on Water

Dilip Kulkarni, President of Agri-Food Division Jain Irrigation; Paul Bakus, President of Nestle Corporate Affairs; Dan Bena, PepsiCo Global Operations
  • Soil moisture is one of the most important factors to growth and productivity of a plant.
  • Water scarcity issues are not going away and climate change suggests it will get worse.
  • Both water scarcity and water excess are issues. Scarcity (drought) is more predictable than excess (flooding).
  • One quadrillion litters of water are wasted annually.
  • 30-40% of food waste is tied to water issues.
  • Policy is a touchy subject with water. How do you regulate, monitor, or measure?
The Secretary's Roundtable

Enrique Martinez Y Martinez, Secretary of Agriculture Mexico
  • It is key to share research and advances between the United States and Mexico.
  • In Mexico there is a focus on applied research.
  • One third of harvest lost is due to storage issues in Mexico.
  • Truly seeing improved production in Mexico. Must find a way to manage surplus of crops and dropping prices.
  • GMO crops are very controversial in Mexico. All science says they are safe. Some simply oppose, because they do not want to lose Mexican genetics.
Tom Vilsack, United States Secretary of Agriculture
  • 133 billion pounds of food goes to waste each year in the United States. This is the biggest solid waste in landfills and big factor in creating methane gases.
  • Climate change is affecting production.
  • United States remains committed to working out trade relations with the European Union. Biotechnology education is key to this.
  • The United States and Mexico do not look at agriculture as competition, but rather how can we work together.
  • Technology transfer, open data, and shared practices are what we need to feed 9 billion poeple by 2050.
Precision Agriculture and Big Data: The Next Frontier Moderator: David Muth, Senior VP of AgSolver Inc.

John May, President of Agricultural Solutions and CIO with John Deere; Claudia Garcia, Senior Director of Global Market Access with Elanco Animal Health; David Gebhardt, Director of Agronomic Data and Technology with WinField; Kerry Preete, Executive VP of Global Strategy with Monsanto
  • Precision Ag has a different definition for all farmers depending on their purposes and needs.
  • There is a lot more focus on in-season data.
  • Precision Ag is also for the livestock industry.
  • We need to focus on more than feeding an additional two billion people by 2050, but also feeding the three billion people moving into the middle class. Precision Ag can help increase yields.
  • Precision Ag is not just about economics, but also about conservation.
It was an amazing day of learning and analyzing agriculture practices at the Borlaug Dialogue. We look forward to a great Friday when the Borlaug Dialogue continues!

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

The Greatest Challenge in Human History

It was a great first day at the World Food Prize for the Borlaug Dialogue here in Des Moines with students! Over the next couple days the discussion will continue on "The Greatest Challenge in Human History;" feeding 9 billion people by 2050. Over the next three nights I will share highlights from the sessions at the Borlaug Dialogue highlighting key points from each area. I encourage you to continue the dialogue at home, in communities, and in classrooms around the world discussing the following points and statements.

Opening Ceremony The Borlaug Dialogue Ambassador Kenneth Quinn
  • Highlighted the Borlaug Centennial (Norman Borlaug's 100th Birthday)
  • 20 year anniversary of the youth institute as part of the Borlaug Dialogue
  • Theme for the week: Innovation, Intensification, and Inspiration
  • "You can't take it to the farmer if you don't have good roads."
Opening Keynote H.E.Kanayo F. Nwanze, President of International Fund for Agricultural Development
  • Sad but true statement, "There is a privileged world and the forgotten world."
  • Forgotten world = Rural areas
  • We must remember that "forgotten world" problems are our problems as well. "No one was concerned about Ebola when in forgotten world. Now that it is in the privileged world Ebola is receiving attention."
  • Forty percent of farms are abandoned in Sierra Leone due to fear of Ebola, Crops are rotting in the field.
  • Forty-five percent of children deaths are due to malnutrition.
  • Three keys to sustainable agriculture and yield increases:
    • Must take advantage of all science has to offer.
    • Need private and public entities alike to work together.
    • Individuals and institutions can not work alone. Partnerships must be created.
  • We must change the perception of farming so young people want to farm.
  • No amount of foreign aide or science will work unless we collaborate and work together.
The Borlaug Report: Assessing The Greatest Challenge, What are the trendlines? Are we on course? Kenneth Cassman, Professor of Agronomy at University of Nebraska-Lincoln
  • We are not on track currently to feed 9 billion by 2050, but we can get there.
  • Don't look at minimum food needed to feed 9-10 billion. Let's overshoot.
  • Since 2001:
    • Slowing rates of crop yield increases
    • Rapid expansion of crop production area
    • Increasing food prices
    • Accelerating CO2 emissions
    • Increasing global supplies of natural gas
  • We are reaching a yield plateau in the U.S.
  • How much food can be saved due to diet changes and waste pattern changes?
  • Food prices will likely increase quicker than energy (fertilizer) input costs.
  • In 2010 3.9 billion lived on $4/day or less than $1460/year.
  • We need big, open (public) data and it needs to be:
    • spatially dense
    • High Quality
    • Real-time and Historic Data
  • Big data is real. Monsanto paid $930 million for Climate Corporation (weather data).
  • Check out the following website for yield gap information:
The Borlaug Report: Critical Factors in Meeting The Greatest Challenge Moderator: Sir Gordon Conway, Professor of International Development at Imperial College London; Leo Abruzzese, Global Forecasting Director of Public Policy with Economist Intelligence Unit; Marc Sadler, Adviser on Risk and Markets with The World Food Bank; Shenngen Fan, Director General at International Food Policy Research Institute; Margaret Zeigler, Executive Director at Global Harvest Initiative
  • Sometime this month China will pass the U.S. in purchasing power.
  • Sometime within the week the U.S. will bypass Saudi Arabia in petroleum production.
  • We must extend our technologies and practices to all. We cannot keep some away from parts of the world.
  • Incremental changes won't cut it anymore. We need big changes to make things happen.
  • Big data has barely made an impact on agriculture compared to other business areas.
  • Precision Ag technologies are not just for industrialized countries. Anyone can use the principles.
  • We need better veterinarian service worldwide. We must invest and protect livestock.
  • Seven of the ten fastest growing economies are in sub Saharan Africa.
  • Production increases are leveling off and the rate of increase is falling.
Borlaug Report: Crop Intensification, Technology and Enviromental Sustainability Moderator: M.S. Swaminathan, 1987 World Food Prize Laureate; Robert Fraley, 2013 World Food Prize Laureate; Mark Rosegrant, Director at International Food Policy Research Institute; Hon. Dan Glickman, former U.S. Secretary of Agriculture; Tjada McKenna, Deputy Coordinator for Development with USAID Bureau for Food Security
  • Another way to look at things: We need to double food production over the next 36 years.
  • Outlined five points from National Geographic "To Feed the World":
    • Freeze agriculture's footprint
    • Grow more on farms we've got
    • Use resources more efficiently
    • Shift diets
    • Reduce waste
  • You can have your own opinions, but not your own facts. We must look at what science says regarding GMO's and climate change.
  • Coca-Cola and PepsiCo are everywhere. Agriculture can learn from this.
  • How do we take it to the farmers?
    • Communication and modern technology
    • Cooperatives
    • Extension
  • We must increase yields everywhere. Not just here or there, but everywhere.
  • Priorities in Research:
    • Yield increase
    • Pest and drought issues
    • Water scarcity and quality
The Nutrition Gap Moderator: David Strelneck, Senior Advisor with Nutrient Value Chain; Navyn Salem, Founder and Director of Edesia Inc.; Katherine Pickus, VP at Abbott Fund; Tom Leech, Senior VP with Walmart; Bram Govaert, Director at International Maize and Wheat Improvement Center
  • There is a difference between feeding people to fill their stomachs and feeding people for energy.
  • Need to focus on providing healthier options with cost savings. Big issue with nutrition is affordability.
  • Those that are financially unstable often choose poor nutrition.
  • As we try to feed 9 billion people we have an excellent opportunity to link agriculture and nutrition together.
We closed the evening with time at the Hall of Laureates recognizing the recipient of The Norman Borlaug Award for Field Research and Application. Dr. Bram Govaerts received the award for his work in Mexico with the International Maize and Wheat Improvement Center. He has worked side by side with farmers turning subsistence agriculture systems into productive and sustainable production units that allow smallholder farmers to escape hunger and poverty. global-agriculture-learning-center-logo.jpg

Thursday, October 9, 2014

EU and US Dairy: Two Different Stories

The article: EU vs US Dairies talks about dairy markets here in the United States and across the Atlantic in the European Union. While one side is seeing record milk prices the other is struggling with dropping prices. Read through the article then use the discussion questions provided for your discussion.

Discussion Questions

  1. What is causing prices to fall in the EU? Is there relief coming and if so explain?
  2. What is causing dairy prices to strengthen in the US?
  3. What does the future look like relating to dairy production for the EU and US respectively?
  4. Did you find any information that you found surprising or unique? If so, what and why?

Thursday, October 2, 2014

Cotton Trade Fight

Today I share an article with you regarding the trade fight between the US and Brazil dealing with cotton. This article explains the 12 year battle between Brazil and the US. Read through the article: US and Brazil resolve Cotton Trade Fight then discuss the points below.

Discussion Points

  1. What are subsidies and why do we use them?
  2. Look at the situation as both a US and Brazilian farmer and discuss the impacts these subsidies created.
  3. What results do you see coming from this resolution?
  4. Do US farmers receive any other subsidies similar to this for other commodities?
*Ag Educators you can have your students do some research before discussing the above points if needed.