The Truman National Security Project released its 2010 Fuel Scorecard last week. See why ethanol ranks near the top of all fuel solutions to make America a safer, more independent nation.
Sometimes, individuals and groups decide to stand up for something. In the case of many crop producers and the associations that represent them, they have decided to stand up for atrazine. Atrazine is a vital herbicide that is under attack by environmentalists, activist researchers, activist media and slick trial attorneys. These well-financed groups worked together last summer to garner enough attention to spur an unscheduled re-review of atrazine by the Environmental Protection Agency.
While farmers use atrazine in smaller and smaller concentrations, it is still an important tool to control weeds, especially in environmentally friendly “conservation” farming practices. For example, using no-till, an increasingly popular conservation farming practice, farmers leave the previous crop stubble on field and plant the next crop in that stubble. This practice reduces runoff and holds on to nutrients and other stuff that helps crop grow in the field. Atrazine’s ability to provide residual weed control makes no-till an option for many farmers. Without it, they’d better grease up the old plow. I read an apt quote on Twitter recently—“If EPA says bye-bye to atrazine, can we get cultivators rolling fast enough?”
Looking at the information above, it’s no wonder farmers and farm organizations are standing up for atrazine in a big way. It’s no wonder that they work with atrazine’s major manufacturer, Syngenta, to support this product.
But recently, many of those organizations have been served with subpoenas from big time trial attorney firms who are hoping to net millions of dollars in judgments from the state and federal court systems. These subpoenas require grower associations to turn over volumes of information to the courts regarding their growers, including all correspondence related to atrazine, Syngenta and even the Kansas Corn Growers Association.
The subpoenas come down to one thing, clear and simple: bullying. We can’t imagine what kind of useful information they hope to find by looking through membership records, leadership programs or who paid for the ice cream at a farmer’s meeting. But the threat of legal harassment might make an organization or an individual think twice about standing up for a product like atrazine.
Since the beginning of the Special Review of the triazine herbicides including atrazine in 1994, our growers have wanted one thing: a science-based outcome through EPA. Is throwing trial attorneys and frivolous subpoenas into the mix a game changer? Will farmers be intimidated and lose their will to support atrazine? The trial attorneys forgot one thing—farmers are uniquely independent. They stand up to wind, hail, drought, floods, pests and roller coaster markets on a regular basis. Slick attorneys are scary for sure, but we don’t scare that easily.
Jere White, Executive Director of the Kansas Corn Growers Association, Kansas Grain Sorghum Producers Association and is the Chairman of the Triazine Network, a nationwide coalition of growers and grower groups concerned with regulatory actions surrounding the triazine herbicides including atrazine.
While it is a bit of a rarity for harvest to be completed before October 1, we’re just about to do just that in 2010. What a surprise given the late, late, and even later harvest we dealt with last year, when crops were still in the field at Thanksgiving!
Kent, who farms in Central Illinois, indicates that he’s 70% done with corn and 0% done with beans. Corn so far is at 160 bushels per acre. Lots of variability, but the whole field averages are at 160.
In Northern Illinois, Jim is harvesting early beans with success – 56-65 bushels per acre. The corn sprayed with Headline that Jim cut has performed better than without Headline … the Headline crop made 205-210 bushels per acre with the other making only 170.
For a point of reference, national average yields in 2009 were 165 bushels per acre, with Illinois average hitting the 183 bushels per acre mark.
Scott reports from the eastern Illinois border that “We are about 1\4 done with field averages from 110 to 190. I hope to find more fields with the higher end of that spectrum, but know there are going to be some fields below 100 bushels per acre.”
By SAQIB RAHIM of ClimateWire
The cars of the future have shown themselves, but it’s not clear whether Americans will like them.
Yesterday, contest organizers crowned the winners of the first Progressive Automotive X Prize, a one-year race to design an ultra-efficient car that’s “safe, affordable and desirable.”
Among the final contestants were cars getting 80, 120, even 180 miles per gallon equivalent. They assumed strange shapes, some sprawling on the ground like stingrays, others compact as books. They ran on batteries, ethanol and gasoline. In the end, it was a gasoline engine that triumphed.
The Very Light Car, built by Virginia company Edison2, won the $5 million first prize with 100 mpg and the lowest carbon footprint of all contestants.
Most interesting of all, its gasoline engine, running on E85 ethanol, beat out dozens of electric and hybrid cars, vehicles currently thought to be among the most efficient available.
It’s the latest splash in an ongoing tussle with the auto industry: Exactly what is technologically possible, and what are people willing to buy?
According to environmental and consumer groups, the answer is this: Current technology can go a long way, and people will pay more for high-mpg cars. “We’re not talking rocket science here. We’re talking smart engineering, good auto design,” said David Friedman, who directs the Clean Vehicle Program at the Union of Concerned Scientists.
UCS is a member of the Go 60 MPG coalition, a group of environmentalists campaigning to make that the next federal target for fuel economy. Currently, the federal government’s corporate average fuel economy (CAFE) target is 35 mpg by 2016. Agencies haven’t set the standard for the next stage, which extends to 2025.
The coalition said Americans are on its side: It presented a poll in which two-thirds of respondents favored the 60 mpg target, even if it raised a car’s price by $3,000. According to the coalition, that premium would be recouped in four years at current gas prices (E&ENews PM, Sept. 16).
Pound for pound, cars today are far more efficient than their ancestors. But car companies have generally used the fuel efficiency to make cars bigger, heavier and faster.
There’s more to this article … check it out here!
Farmers and “agvocates” from around the country met in Chicago recently to fine tune their social media skills.
As a board member on the AgChat Foundation, I was so impressed to see the instant camaraderie amongst the group as we clearly had some things in common: a love for American agriculture and a willingness to engage non-farmers on issues.
I was one of the speakers at the conference and I focused on basic communication skills. Don’t let the “social media” part of social media get in the way. I’m talking about moving the coffee shop to your laptop. Here are some of my tips and tricks regarding communication that I sent home with the more than 50 attendees:
If we were to summarize what non-farmers are saying to us, it is this:
• I don’t know much about what you do.
• You do something very important to me.
• You raise the food my family eats.
• The most important thing to me is protecting my family and ensuring their health.
• I know you work hard.
• I want to trust you.
• But I’m concerned based on what I see and hear.
• Give me reasons to trust you.
Tap into the Emotions that drive trust: Authenticity (openness, transparency, the “truth”) Shared Values (“you” care about what “I” care about; Protecting me, my family, and my world) Responsibility
Engage in a dialogue, not a monologue
3 F’s: Feel, Felt, Found
• I appreciate the way you Feel
• Others have Felt the same way
• Here’s what I’ve Found
Squint With Your Ears!
• Know why you are listening
• Focus on content and the non-verbal messages
• Organize what you are hearing through observation, reflective listening and note taking
• Give your attention; if you cannot, say so
• Avoid giving advice, moralizing, predicting the future
• Avoid interrupting
• Listen with your heart as well as your head
Watch this video to get a flavor for what brought the group together.
ICGA/ICMB Communications Director
Many, many moons ago, members of the ethanol industry asked the US EPA to consider raising the blend level of ethanol to gasoline from 10 percent (the current level) to 15 percent.
While the industry waits for an answer (the US EPA might provide a final verdict later this month), bits and pieces of the research the Department of Energy is conducting have made their way out. That research is focused on 2001 model years and newer, but the ethanol industry feels that 15 percent ethanol blends are safe for older vehicles too.
Now, research released today from Ricardo indicates that fuel systems of older cars would not be adversely affected, giving the US EPA absolutely no scientific reason to approve E15 for only 2001 model year cars and newer.
In researcher speak, “The analysis concluded that the adoption and use of E15 would not adversely affect fuel system components in properly engineered vehicles, nor would it cause them to perform in a sub-optimal manner, when compared to the use of E10.”
This is big news for the industry. Still, recent activities in the US EPA indicate that data simply clouds the pathway to bureaucratic agenda. The final verdict remains to be seen.
In other ethanol news, the Renewable Fuels Association has a new ethanol ad running in Washington, DC this week, aimed at reminding legislators about the job growth potential increased ethanol usage presents.
Illinois corn farmers wait and see. Will this valuable, expanding market for their product be allowed access to the US market or will we continue to export cheap ethanol and import expensive oil at the expense of our American economy and national security?
ICGA/ICMB Ethanol Expert
There’s been a lot of information about High Fructose Corn Syrup floating around the Illinois Corn office this week. First, the news that in the wake of declining sales, Sierra Mist and 7-Up are both heading the “natural” direction of eliminating HFCS and replacing with sugar cane sugar. As the new “Friend a Farmer” Facebook fan page points out, since when isn’t corn natural?
Today, news that the Corn Refiners Association has petitioned the Food and Drug Administration to allow manufacturers the option of using the term “corn sugar” instead of High Fructose Corn Syrup. The Corn Refiners argue that a consumer poll showed that many consumers believe HFCS to be higher in fructose, which isn’t the truth, thus, the name is misleading. This will be an interesting story to follow.
But we can finalize the HFCS news with two great videos that set the record straight. One of our own Illinois Corn Directors, Len Corzine, volunteered his corn field for the set, even allowing videographers to direct the plowing of a section of the field. What dedication!
Think about sharing this video with your friends and neighbors, on Facebook, and through email. People need to understand that corn sugar is really no different than table sugar.
If you don’t tell them that truth, others are going to tell them something drastically different.
ICGA/ICMB Communications Assistant
Yesterday was Grandparents day.
Around the farm that might mean a lot of things … because it’s nearly harvest time, it probably means working along side your grandparents (if you are fortunate to have healthy grandparents) or visiting them in the evening after a long day of work (if you aren’t.)
For certain, it means remembering the values and ethnics handed down from your grandparents, to your parents and then to you.
Farming is a family business. Farming usually entails working the same piece of ground that your ancestors settled when they immigrated to America. It represents your heritage in a way that a treasured piece of jewelry or pocketwatch might to non-farmers, except much, much bigger because this piece of land fed your family over the course of 100 or 150 years.
Farming means that nearly every square foot of the property you work on carries the memory of a person, a lesson, or a moment that you relive in the fall and the spring as you plant or harvest that ground.
This legacy is one that farmers live every day, whether they are small or large farmers, organic or conventional.
Family farmers don’t really need Grandparent’s Day, I guess. Every day is a celebration of heritage, family and tradition.