Jonathan Knutson / Agweek Staff Writer
Critics often raise concern that genetically engineered crops might harm the environment or people who eat them. But now a new study finds that farmers who plant Bt corn reduce crop damage and insecticide use in nearby fields of non-genetically engineered crops such as peppers and green beans. The Bt corn brings "positive impacts to growers, including organic producers," according to the study, published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.
It's one of the most important jobs for modern U.S. agriculturalists: Promoting public awareness of and support for what they do. It's also a job many are reluctant to tackle. But Brad Greenway has some common-sense advice that may make the task a little easier. "Just start a conversation. You don't to have to all the answers. Just get started and tell what you do," said Greenway, a Mitchell, S.D., farmer who, along with his wife, Peggy, raises pigs, cattle, wheat and soybeans.
"Excuse me," I told the supermarket cashier. "You rang up that squash at $1.99 a pound. The sign said $1.29." "This is organic. It's $1.99," she said. "Then somebody stocked it in the conventional section," I said. "Well, I'm not paying 70 cents more for organic. I'm not paying anything more for organic." Please, don't send irate emails if you're an organic supporter. Though I won't spend extra for organic, I'm not anti-organic. Not at all.
GRAND FORKS, N.D. — Sugar has become "the new tobacco," the target of strident attacks from health advocates, a sugar industry analyst said. But the attacks on sugar are unfair and misplaced and need a stronger response, Craig Ruffalo said. "We as an industry have been far too long on the defensive," he said. "The sugar industry needs to turn this around and you need to be on the offensive. And you need to stick it in their ear. And the first place you start is the school systems and the community you live in."
Federal crop insurance in its current form is hurting family farms, the land and rural communities, while benetting big insurance companies, according to a new report from the Minnesota-based Land Stewardship Project.
Gerald Stokka wasn't quite sure what to expect when he traveled to Washington, D.C., recently to take part in one stage of the Pew Charitable Trusts' "Supermoms Against Superbugs" initiative. But Stokka, North Dakota State University extension veterinarian and livestock stewardship specialist, said the Feb. 27-March 1 event — in which parents, doctors and agriculturalists met with policymakers and shared their perspective on the growing threat on antibiotic resistance — was both positive and encouraging.
GRAND FORKS, N.D. — The Tristate Aerial Applicators were looking for a way to increase traffic at exhibitors' booths during the group's recent annual convention in Grand Forks, N.D. The group found it in the Grab Bag Program, which will help needy middle and high school students and promote aerial applicators and their mission, too. "It's working out well so far," said David Gust, an aerial applicator involved with the project.
GRAND FORKS, N.D. — When Nancy Wulfekuhle's father was still farming, "He wasn't going to go to town and tell people what he did. He just went out and did his work. Why would anyone question it?" she said. But times have changed, and agriculturalists need to help others understand what they do. "How do tell our story? How do we communicate what we do?" she said. Wulfekuhle, with MinnDak Farmers Cooperative, and Lauren Proulx, with the Minnesota Association of Wheat Growers, spoke Feb. 22 at the International Crop Expo in Grand Forks, N.D.
FARGO, N.D. — Lanny Faleide is a farmer turned technological pioneer whose work has been praised by NASA. For 24 years, his self-described "bleeding-edge" company has used space-age technology, particularly satellite imagery, to help agricultural producers better understand their fields and farm them more efficiently. But Faleide — pronounced Fuh-LYE-dee — said greater interest in precision agriculture, including the use of satellite and drone imagery, doesn't mean he and his company, SatShot, have finally reached the promised land.
GRAND FORKS, N.D. — Planting, nurturing, harvesting and marketing crops on a farm is challenging. Passing on that farm to heirs or others can be even more difficult, a farm transition specialist said. The starting point — and a necessary constant through the process — is communication. "Communication is the glue. It's what keeps this working. Good communication — open communication — makes this thing go," Russ Tweiten said. "Respectful, open dialogue works."