Business News | Business – Southernminn.com

Business News | Business  Southernminn.com

Nominations sought for equity committee membership

The U.S. Department of Agriculture plans to establish a USDA Equity Commission. It is requesting nominations for membership on the USDA Equity Commission Advisory Committee and Equity Commission Subcommittee on Agriculture.

The commission will advise the Secretary of Agriculture by identifying USDA programs, policies, systems, structures and practices that contribute to barriers to inclusion or access, systemic discrimination, or exacerbate or perpetuate racial, economic, health and social disparities.

The Subcommittee on Agriculture will be formed concurrently and will report back to the Equity Commission. It will provide recommendations on issues of concern related to agriculture. Subsequent subcommittees will focus on other policy areas such as rural community and economic development.

The Equity Commission will deliver an interim report and provide actionable recommendations no later than 12 months after inception. A final report will be generated within a two-year timeframe.

USDA is soliciting nominations to consider membership on both the Equity Commission and the Subcommittee on Agriculture. Both seek to reflect a diversity in demographics, regions of the country, background, experience and expertise. USDA Rural Development encourages leaders in community-based organizations such as those listed to apply.

  • community-development finance institutions
  • colleges and universities, including tribal and historically black colleges and universities
  • rural mission-driven nonprofits

Nominations will be considered that are submitted via email or postmarked by Oct. 27. Submit nominations to EquityCommission@usda.gov or to Dewayne Goldmon, USDA Senior Advisor for Racial Equity, Office of the Secretary, Department of Agriculture, 1400 Independence Avenue SW, Room 6006-S, Washington, DC 20250. A USDA official will acknowledge receipt of nominations. Contact dewayne.goldmon@usda.gov or call 202-997-2100 for more information.

Dig into worm worth

More than 50 worm farms from around the world will meet in January for the first annual U.S. Worm Business Conference. The conference will focus on how to start, expand or perfect worm composting and waste reduction. Attendees can learn about what worms are worth. The wholesale price of worms jumped from $15 per pound in 2020 to an average of more than $35 per pound today. Demand now significantly exceeds supply.

Climate change, combined with dramatically increased interest in organic-waste reduction and a desire to create sustainable, productive soils has led to a global shortage of worms and worm products. The conference is designed to help small and tangential businesses enter or expand the worm business.

The conference will provide coaching, hands-on training and business advice from experts in the worm-farming community such as Zach Brooks of the Arizona Worm Farm, Heather Rinaldi of the Texas Worm Ranch, and Steve Churchill of Urban Worm Bag.

The conference will be held Jan. 13-14 at the Arizona Worm Farm, 8430 South 19th Ave., Phoenix, Arizona. Visit wormbusinessconference.com for more information.

Soybean board elected

The Wisconsin Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection recently certified the 2021 Wisconsin Soybean Marketing Board election results. Two soybean producers will serve three-year terms as elected members of the board.

  • District 2 – Justin Bauer, Eau Claire – representing Buffalo, Dunn, Eau Claire, Jackson, Pepin, Pierce, Polk, St. Croix, and Trempealeau counties
  • District 6 – Steve Wilkens, Random Lake – representing Jefferson, Kenosha, Manitowoc, Milwaukee, Ozaukee, Racine, Sheboygan, Walworth, Washington and Waukesha counties

The Wisconsin Soybean Marketing Board is composed of seven producers in seven districts across the state. The board oversees the collection and use of about $2 million in assessment fees paid by Wisconsin soybean producers. The funding is used to support the soybean industry through research, education and promotion of Wisconsin-grown soybeans.

The Wisconsin Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection administers elections for all Wisconsin market orders. Visit datcp.wi.gov and search for “agricultural marketing boards” for more information.

Corn-board nominations sought

Nominations are being sought for three seats on the Wisconsin Corn Promotion Board. The board oversees corn research, new product development, international marketing and education.

Producers who grow and sell corn in districts 4, 8, and 9 are eligible to nominate producers or be nominated to the board. The districts are listed.

  • District 4 – Monroe, Juneau, Adams, Waushara, Marquette and Columbia counties
  • District 8 – Jefferson, Walworth, Racine and Kenosha counties
  • District 9 – Green and Rock counties

The Wisconsin Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection will conduct the Wisconsin Corn Promotion Board election from Dec. 15 to Jan. 15. Elected growers will serve three-year terms beginning Feb. 1.

The agriculture department will mail nomination forms to any producer who requests one. Contact debbie.gegare@wisconsin.gov or 608-224-5116 for more information. Nominators must sign, notarize and postmark the form by Nov. 1 and include the signatures of five eligible corn growers other than the nominee. Mail completed forms to the Wisconsin Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection, Marketing Order Program, P.O. Box 8911, Madison, WI 53708-8911. Visit wicorn.org for more information.

Members re-elected to Wisconsin Cranberry Board

The Wisconsin Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection recently certified the 2021 Wisconsin Cranberry Board election results. Gabriella Liddane of Tomah and Robert Detlefsen of Wisconsin Rapids have been re-elected. They will serve three-year terms as elected members of the Wisconsin Cranberry Board.

The Wisconsin Cranberry Board is composed of seven producers from across the state. The board oversees the collection and use of about $500,000 in assessment fees paid by Wisconsin cranberry producers. The funding is used to support the cranberry industry through research, education, and promotion of Wisconsin-grown cranberries.

The Wisconsin Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection administers elections for all Wisconsin market orders. Visit datcp.wi.gov and search for “agricultural marketing boards” for more information.

Wisconsin enters FDA agreement

Wisconsin as well as California, Florida and Utah recently entered into domestic mutual reliance agreements with the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. The agreements facilitate coordinated effort between the FDA and individual states with goals to reduce human foodborne-illness outbreaks, reduce duplication of regulatory oversight, and increase public-health protection by focusing on areas of greater risk.

The FDA is using the partnerships to strengthen its relationship with state regulatory partners and improve industry compliance with applicable food-safety requirements to reduce foodborne-illness outbreaks, said Erik Mettler, assistant commissioner for partnerships and policy in the FDA’s Office of Regulatory Affairs.

The FDA will collaborate with partner states on data sharing, risk prioritization, inspections, outbreak investigations, and development and monitoring of key metrics and laboratory capacity. The domestic mutual reliance framework provides opportunities for the FDA and partners to leverage work from other regulatory programs. It also will provide knowledge to build quality-management systems and infrastructures to support national regulatory standards such as those related to resource allocation, training, outreach and information exchange.

Commission publishes genome-edited plant roadmap

The European Commission recently published its roadmap to develop a legislative initiative for plants produced by certain genome-editing techniques. The initiative will propose a legal framework for plants obtained by targeted mutagenesis and cisgenesis and for their food and feed products.

The policy roadmap is based on the findings of a European Commission study on new genomic techniques. Publication of the roadmap is a first step in the legislative process. It begins with a four-week consultation period to provide feedback, which ends Oct. 22. A more comprehensive public-consultation process will take place in 2022.

Startups offered on-farm testing

The Wells Fargo Innovation Incubator and Farmers Business Network recently formed a partnership. With support from the Donald Danforth Plant Science Center, agricultural-technology startups currently participating in the IN2 program or that will participate in the future will be able to access a network of on-farm sites to test products and solutions.

Sustainable agricultural-technology solutions, such as those being developed by startups in the IN2 program, are aimed at improving agricultural outputs while reducing environmental impacts. Access to real-world data on the efficacy of a particular solution is important to the commercial success of new innovations. On-farm testing provides insight into performance in realistic conditions, and across a wide range of environmental conditions and farming practices.

The startups that leverage the partnership will test their technologies at scale, across as much as hundreds of acres on farms within the Farmers Business Network. Farmers Business Network will use its network and agronomic and environmental datasets to curate ideal farms for trials that test each startup’s solution in the right agronomic conditions. Datasets will be collected from each trial and analyzed to develop insights into product performance.

IN2 and Farmers Business Network will select the first participants from the group of 16 agricultural-technology startups that are currently part of the IN2 program. On-farm testing will begin in the 2022 crop season. Visit in2ecosystem.com and fbn.com and danforthcenter.org for more information.

California commits to climate-smart ag

Amid climate-driven drought and extreme heat challenges, California is committing $1.1 billion over two years to support sustainable-agriculture practices and to create a resilient and equitable food system. It will make investments to promote healthy soil management and support livestock methane-reduction efforts. The state will provide funding for replacement of agricultural equipment to reduce emissions. It also will provide technical assistance and incentives for development of farm conservation-management plans. The funding package also will support programs to expand healthy-food access for seniors and in schools, other public institutions and nonprofits.

Accelerator invests in robotics

Ag Startup Engine recently made an initial investment in Birds Eye Robotics of Herman, Nebraska. Birds Eye Robotics designs broiler-house solutions to improve facility upkeep and bird welfare, and to address labor-market pressure on poultry farmers.

The company’s autonomous caretaker robot focuses on animal welfare by removing dead birds, stimulating birds, and tilling caked bedding, according to Scott Niewohner, CEO of Birds Eye Robotics. The company is innovating at the intersection of robotics, artificial intelligence and animal health, said Joel Harris of Ag Startup Engine. Birds Eye Robotics is partnering with select poultry growers and operators across the Midwest as part of a pilot program.

Ag Startup Engine, located in the Iowa State University Research Park, provides early seed-stage investment and mentorship from successful entrepreneurs. With the program’s second fund, the goal is to accept and invest in 45 agriculture and animal health startups in the next five years. Visit agstartupengine.com and birdseyerobotics.com for more information.

Tentative labor agreement reached

Deere & Company and the International Union, United Automobile, Aerospace and Agricultural Implement Workers of America have reached a tentative agreement on a new six-year labor agreement. The agreement would cover about 10,100 production and maintenance employees at 12 facilities in Iowa, Illinois and Kansas.

A tentative agreement also has been reached that would cover about 100 production and maintenance employees at Deere parts facilities in Denver and Atlanta. Deere production and maintenance employees will have time to review the terms of the tentative agreement before a ratification vote. All Deere operations will continue as scheduled. Visit one.deere.com for more information.

Data available for organic, non-GMO

The Mercaris 2021 acreage analyzer for non-genetically modified and organic crops recently was updated. The tool helps users track organic and non-genetically modified crops such as corn, soybeans, wheat and oats.

The analyzer was developed to help buyers and growers understand market share, evaluate production trends, and identify expansion opportunities. It enables growers to understand the aggregate view of organic and non-genetically modified crop acreage in the United States. It also can narrow data to a subset of state and crop-specific queries.

Mercaris estimates that total U.S. organic acreage will increase 6 percent year-over-year by the end of 2021, exceeding 9 million acres for the first time as the number of certified-organic farms reaches about 20,000. Visit mercaris.com for more information.

Animal-free milk protein funded

Investment has increased for Perfect Day Inc., a company that has created an animal-free milk protein from microflora. The company recently announced a $350 million Series D funding round intended to fuel the company’s expanded focus on biological engineering, ingredient innovation and consumer products. The round included participation from long-term investors such as Horizons Ventures and Bob Iger, as well as SK Inc. They increased their role in the recent funding series. The round brings Perfect Day’s total funding to $750 million. Visit perfectday.com for more information.

Climate initiative gains support

The Agriculture Innovation Mission for Climate – AIM for Climate – is an initiative to transform the global agricultural sector. It currently has the support of 30 nations, as well as the Food and Agricultural Organization of the United Nations. It also has the support of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and the United Kingdom’s COP26 Presidency.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture is prioritizing efforts to promote the initiative, with the goal of dramatically increasing public investment and private investment for innovation in climate-smart agriculture and food systems. The initiative will focus on three main investment channels.

  • scientific breakthroughs via basic agricultural research
  • public-applied and private-applied innovation and research for development
  • development and deployment of practical, actionable research and information

The initiative will be officially launched at the 26th UN Climate Change Conference in November in Glasgow, Scotland. Visit aimforclimate.org for more information.

Biochar market forecast to grow

The global biochar market is expected to grow at an annual rate of more than 15 percent, reaching more than $6 billion by 2031. The role of biochar in enhancing soil health and boosting crop yield in a sustainable way is expected to serve as a significant growth driver. Greater use of reactors on farms to increase the pace of stubble conversion into biomass also will lead to growth in the biochar market, according to Transparency Market Research.

Biochar is derived from organic waste. It’s obtained through controlled heating of wood waste, animal manure, forest waste and agricultural waste. The use of biochar in waste management, climate-change mitigation, gardening, composting, horticulture, electricity generation, forestry and agriculture is expected to grow. Biochar can help boost soil fertility, crop productivity and water-holding capacity. It also can prove to be an effective tool for decreasing carbon-dioxide emissions because it has the potential to store 50 percent of the carbon from feedstock, according to the market analyst. Visit transparencymarketresearch.com and search for “biochar market” for more information.

Source: southernminn.com

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