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Soybean Photosynthesis ImprovementSoybean Photosynthesis Improvement
Aug 25

TSTA Weekly Update, 08/25/2022


Weekly Update from the Texas Seed Trade Association
Member News

Upcoming Texas Seed Trade Association Regional Opportunity

 

Attention: This course requires at least a dozen participants to make the interactive portions work and function properly.  We are a bit short on attendance obligations and booked facilities are full fare tomorrow regardless.  Registration will close for this class at 10:30 AM tomorrow, Friday August 26.  If we do not have sufficient participants by that time this class will be cancelled and rescheduled for a later date.  Please call or email (reply this newsletter) the TSTA office by 10:30 tomorrow if you would like to attend.  

 

Attention: If you have relatively new sales professionals, new hires with management potential or prospects, or employees new to people management, or you simply want to be a more effective communicator at work - this course is ideally designed to help!

 

TSTA will host a regional "sharpen your axe" meeting in Amarillo, Thursday September 8th. We'll get started at 10:30AM at the Embassy Suites. We'll be done before 5:00PM with a break for lunch.

 

The "get together" will consist of an active participation training session aimed at increasing our communication effectiveness. It is especially appropriate for people-managers and sales professionals. Based on the DiSC program we'll explore preferred communications styles with an emphasis on effectively communicating with others who have different styles. This is an eye-opening program and a chance to sharpen skills you use every day. For a brief course description click here.

 

The class will be facilitated by a Wilson Learning certified instructor. There is no charge for member companies of the TSTA. Our facilitator has presented this program at leadership academies for the National Corn Growers Association, American Agri-Women, National Association of Wheat Growers, the Ag Retailers Association, and Syngenta Leadership at its Best programs in the U.S. and in Canada.  This course goes by a few other names including "The Counselor Sales Person," and Social Styles.  

 

DiSC orientation and an evening at Hodgetown Ballpark with the Amarillo Sod Poodles to follow. Join us at the Outfield Overlook for an evening of food, friends and fun. Reserve a spot today by replying to this email newsletter or calling the association office. Space is limited. The Embassy Suites has rooms available.

Texas A&M AgriLife offers wheat ‘Picks’ as planting time arrives - Tough 2022 resulting in short wheat seed supplies

22nd Century Group news release

 

Persistent drought conditions and forage shortages as well as strong prices for wheat silage and wheat hay have resulted in a large percentage of Texas wheat acres either failing, being chopped or being hayed this year.

 

Overall, Texas wheat production was down 49% from the previous year because of failed acres and reduced yields. As a result, wheat seed is in short supply, so Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service agronomists are encouraging producers who are making a variety change or needing to purchase seed for forage to go ahead and reserve seed as quickly as possible.

 

High Plains, South Plains wheat ‘Picks’ list

 

Wheat grain variety Picks were designated based on performance of varieties in 20 different trials conducted in 2019-2021 under irrigated and dryland conditions.

— Full Irrigation Picks – TAM 114, TAM 115, TAM 205, WB 4792, Canvas, CP 7869 and SY Wolverine.

— Limited Irrigation Picks – TAM 114, TAM 115, TAM 205, WB4792, Canvas and CP7869.

— Dryland Picks – TAM 113, TAM 115, TAM 205 and WB4792.

Because of the below average yields this past year, Bell said they did not select varieties for a “watch list” that typically includes new varieties that are starting to show promising results.

TAM 113 has been removed from the irrigated and limited irrigated lists, but it remains a dryland pick because of solid grain performance, end use quality, forage potential and ability to emerge and tiller under stressful conditions, Bell said. It has resistance to stripe, leaf and stem rusts. TAM 114 is the No. 1 planted wheat variety in Texas, but it has been removed from the dryland list because of lower performance on very tough dryland conditions.

More in-depth evaluation and a complete discussion of the performance of these varieties is available.

 

Rolling Plains wheat ‘Picks’ list

 

The grain-only variety Picks were selected based on the Texas Rolling Plains Uniform Variety Trial in Hardeman and Haskell counties, while Picks for dual-purpose uses were based on trials in Foard, Wilbarger and Haskell counties. 

– Grain-only Pick – WB 4792, TAM 205, TAM 115, WB 4595 and SY Bob Dole.

– Dual-purpose Pick – WB 4792, WB 4595, Green Hammer and TAM 114.

More information on variety trial results, including height, rust rating, yields and test weight for each trial site are available at Texas Rolling Plains agronomy website.

 

Editors Note: A random survey across our wheat seed producing/selling companies reveals as much as a 50% shortage of popular varieties. The TSTA office has received an unusually high volume of calls from farmers looking for particular varieties that are sold out at their regular retailer.  

RiceTec hosted nearly 220 growers, vendors, and staff for its Arkansas Field Day event on August 11 where the company introduced new Global CEO, Karsten Neuffer, and guided groups on tours of demonstration plots for new and current products.

 

“I am thrilled to be a part of RiceTec and greatly appreciated the interaction with growers and our team during this year’s Field Day,” said Neuffer. “It is exciting to see the versatility of the products we have for the 2023 season and the technologies we’re offering to support our customers in growing a more sustainable and profitable rice crop.” 

 

Field stops covered advancements in rice products such as the herbicide tolerance offerings of FullPage® and Max-Ace® Rice Cropping Solutions alongside representation from Adama. RiceTec District Sales Managers, Rob Dixon and Jay Burchfield introduced the crowd to product options for the 2023 growing season such as the company’s first medium grain hybrid, RT3202, made for the southern US market.

 

Editor's Note: Rice Tec is a valued member of the Texas Seed Trade Association.  

ASTA’s largest event of the year, the CSS & Seed Expo 2022, will be opening soon for attendee registration, along with the new menu of sponsorship opportunities at all events for the coming fiscal year (July to June).

After 76 years, the CSS & Seed Expo returns to Chicago, IL for one last time this December 5-8, before the conference moves in 2023 to the Hyatt Regency Orlando for the foreseeable future.

With a theme of “Farewell Chicago,” the event’s website offers tools to submit your favorite conference memories for the many attendees who have been coming to Chicago each December year after year, many for over 30 years and counting.

Already featuring over 70 exhibitors, this year is anticipated to represent a return in full force after smaller numbers in 2021 due to the pandemic.

Visit ASTA Events at www.betterseed.org for more information.

 

Editor's Note: The Bears are going to Arlington Park and ASTA is headed to Florida. Please join us at the last Chicago CSS meeting!

Save the dates for the 34th Annual Texas Plant Protection Conference. December 6 & 7, 2022 at the Brazos Center in Bryan. Conference and Exhibitor/Sponsors registration is available on the TPPA website: www.texasplantprotection.com

 

Don’t miss these outstanding presenters in the conference General Sessions:

 

“Global Markets Outlook & Impact on Texas Agriculture” - Dr. Mark

   Welch, Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service

The Pesticide Forecast—Innovation, Opportunity & Challenge” –              

Chris Novak, President & CEO, CropLife America

“Fertilizer - Supply & Pricing Outlook” - Toby Hlavinka, President &    

  CEO, American Plant Food Corporation

“ Weather Patterns Impact on Texas Agriculture” Eric Snodgrass,                         

    Nutrien Ag Solutions, Science Fellow and Principal Atmospheric Scientist

“Gossypol-free Cottonseed Could Help Solve World Hunger”, Dr.

   Keerti Rathore, Texas A & M University

“Stink Bug Control In Sorghum” Dalton Ludwick, Texas A&M AgriLife

   Extension Entomology Specialist  

“Carbon Credit Contracts” – Tiffany Lashmet, J.D., Texas A&M 

  AgriLife Extension Law Specialist 

“Federal Pesticide Policy Updates” – Rod Snyder, Senior Advisor for

  Agriculture to the EPA Administrator, Washington, DC

In an effort to update and maintain our membership records we request you take a few moments and fill out the very brief info request at the following link.

 

https://forms.gle/SC6QDSgqUVixUqAo8

 

The link is secure and the information will be used internally by the Texas Seed Trade Association and never shared without your permission. This request is on behalf of your association's board of directors and officers and we greatly appreciate your cooperation. Thank you!

 

8/25/22 - If you have not updated your information please take a moment and do so now. We appreciate it! We continue to update this database and need your input!

Canada is urging farmers to reduce fertilizer emissions to curb greenhouse gases, triggering a backlash. The government of Justin Trudeau is proposing a 30% reduction by 2030 from 2020 levels in emissions from fertilizer as part of a plan to reduce greenhouse gases.

 

Some farmers say the plan could force them to use less fertilizer and reduce crop yields, which would impair Canada's ability to ease a global food crisis triggered by the war in Ukraine.

 

"We are really committed to the fight against climate change," said Marie-Claude Bibeau, Canada's minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food. Fertilizer use "is one activity we have identified that can have a significant impact on reducing emissions." 

 

Canada is the eighth-largest exporter of agricultural products and seafood in the world. It is a major producer of wheat and one of the world's biggest exporters of pulse crops like peas and beans. Canada is also a major producer of potash, a fertilizer, and canola oil and seed, used to make animal feed and vegetable alternatives to sunflower oil.

 

The Canadian government's proposal is part of its plan for a 45% reduction in greenhouse-gas emissions by 2030. Canada's agricultural sector is responsible for roughly 10% of total emissions, according to Canadian government statistics. Almost a fifth of those industry emissions come from fertilizer. 

 

Canada says its target is a recommendation, said a spokeswoman for Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada. Farmers who don't comply with the Canadian recommendations won't face any consequences, said the spokeswoman for the agriculture department, according to the Wall Street Journal.

 

To read the entire article click here.

 

Editor's Note: If Canadian farmers decide not to follow government "suggestions" on fertilizer rates they may not participate in a variety of government agricultural assistance programs. Saying they won't face consequences is not entirely accurate. And space does not permit the listing of temporary or voluntary compliance requirements that became mandatory over time.  

News Bits

 

The USDA's national good to excellent ratings for corn and soybeans declined last week. Some of the drier areas of the Midwest and Plains have recently received much needed rainfall, but that precipitation was not as widespread as originally forecast and did include excessive rain in parts of the region.

 

As of Sunday, 55% of U.S. corn is rated good to excellent, 2% less than last week, with 97% of the crop silking, 75% at the dough making stage, and 31% dented, all behind the respective five-year averages, while 4% of the crop has reached maturity, matching the normal pace.

 

57% of soybeans are called good to excellent, 1% lower, with 97% blooming, in-line with the average, and 84% at the pod setting stage, compared to 86% typically in late July.

 

95% of winter wheat is harvested, compared to 97% on average.

 

64% of spring wheat is in good to excellent condition, unchanged, with 33% harvested, compared to the usual rate of 54%.

 

31% of cotton is in good to excellent shape, a drop of 4%, with 88% opening bolls, compared to the five-year average of 85%, and 19% of bolls opening, compared to 18% on average.

 

72% of rice is reported as good to excellent, a decrease of 3%, with 93% headed and 15% harvested, both matching the normal respective rates.

 

23% of U.S. pastures and rangelands are in good to excellent condition, 2% higher.

 

Tyson Foods announced today the company will invest $200 million at its Amarillo, Texas beef plant to expand and upgrade operations and build a new team member well-being area.

 

The project will begin this fall and involves construction of a 143,000 square foot addition to the existing beef complex to house upgraded team member well-being areas including locker rooms, cafeteria and office space. The project will also expand and enhance the facility's existing operations floor. Expected to be completed by 2024, it will improve team member experience and overall operational efficiencies. While the project is not expected to add jobs to the plant, Tyson Foods' Amarillo facility employs 4,000 team members and generates an annual payroll of $180 million. 

 

A new EPA draft ecological risk assessment released Thursday finds the herbicide dicamba potentially adversely affects birds, mammals, bees, freshwater fish, aquatic vascular plants, and non-target terrestrial plants, with the "primary risk of concern" for non-target terrestrial plants through spray drift and volatilization.

 

In addition, the agency said it found no evidence new measures put in place in October 2020 for over-the-top applications helped reduce the number of off-target incidents.

 

"Numerous non-target plant incidents have been reported to be associated with the use of dicamba," EPA said in a news release.

 

"Since the initial registration of OTT (over-the-top) uses in 2016, there has been a substantial increase in the overall number of reported non-target plant incidents which appear to be linked to the OTT uses. EPA continues to monitor the incidents information for dicamba." 

 

 

INTERNATIONAL TEAM OF RESEARCHERS IMPROVE SOYBEAN'S PHOTOSYNTHESIS PROCESS, INCREASES YIELDS BY 20%

Source: University of Illinois 

 

For the first time, RIPE researchers have proven that multigene bioengineering of photosynthesis increases the yield of the major food crop soybean in field trials. After more than a decade of working toward this goal, a collaborative team led by the University of Illinois has transgenically altered soybean plants to increase the efficiency of photosynthesis, resulting in greater yields without loss of quality.

 

Results of this magnitude couldn't come at a more crucial time. The most recent UN report, The State of Food Security and Nutrition in the World 2022, found that in 2021 nearly 10% of the world population was hungry, a situation that has been steadily worsening over the last few years and eclipsing all other threats to global health in scale. According to UNICEF, by 2030, more than 660 million people are expected to face food scarcity and malnutrition. Two of the major causes of this are inefficient food supply chains (access to food) and harsher growing conditions for crops due to climate change. Improving access to food and improving the sustainability of food crops in impoverished areas are the key goals of this study and the RIPE project. 

Realizing Increased Photosynthetic Efficiency, or RIPE, is an international research project that aims to increase global food production by improving photosynthetic efficiency in food crops for smallholder farmers in Sub-Saharan Africa with support from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, Foundation for Food & Agriculture Research, and U.K. Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office.

 

"The number of people affected by food insufficiency continues to grow, and projections clearly show that there needs to be a change at the food supply level to change the trajectory," said Amanda De Souza, RIPE project research scientist, and lead author. "Our research shows an effective way to contribute to food security for the people who need it most while avoiding more land being put into production. Improving photosynthesis is a major opportunity to gain the needed jump in yield potential."

 

Photosynthesis, the natural process all plants use to convert sunlight into energy and yield, is a surprisingly inefficient 100+ step process that RIPE researchers have been working to improve for more than a decade. In this first-of-its-kind work, recently published in Science, the group improved the VPZ construct within the soybean plant to improve photosynthesis and then conducted field trials to see if yield would be improved as a result.

 

The VPZ construct contains three genes that code for proteins of the xanthophyll cycle, which is a pigment cycle that helps in the photoprotection of the plants. Once in full sunlight, this cycle is activated in the leaves to protect them from damage, allowing leaves to dissipate the excess energy. However, when the leaves are shaded (by other leaves, clouds, or the sun moving in the sky) this photoprotection needs to switch off so the leaves can continue the photosynthesis process with a reserve of sunlight. It takes several minutes for the plant to switch off the protective mechanism, costing plants valuable time that could have been used for photosynthesis.

 

The overexpression of the three genes from the VPZ construct accelerates the process, so every time a leaf transitions from light to shade the photoprotection switches off faster. Leaves gain extra minutes of photosynthesis which, when added up throughout the entire growing season, increases the total photosynthetic rate. This research has shown that despite achieving a more than 20% increase in yield, seed quality was not impacted.

 

"Despite higher yield, seed protein content was unchanged. This suggests some of the extra energy gained from improved photosynthesis was likely diverted to the nitrogen-fixing bacteria in the plant's nodules," said RIPE Director Stephen Long, Ikenberry Endowed University Chair of Crop Sciences and Plant Biology at Illinois' Carl R. Woese Institute for Genomic Biology.

 

The researchers first tested their idea in tobacco plants because of the ease of transforming the crop's genetics and the amount of seeds that can be produced from a single plant. These factors allow researchers to go from genetic transformation to a field trial within months. Once the concept was proven in tobacco, they moved into the more complicated task of putting the genetics into a food crop, soybeans.

 

"Having now shown very substantial yield increases in both tobacco and soybean, two very different crops, suggests this has universal applicability," said Long. "Our study shows that realizing yield improvements is strongly affected by the environment. It is critical to determine the repeatability of this result across environments and further improvements to ensure the environmental stability of the gain."

 

Additional field tests of these transgenic soybean plants are being conducted this year, with results expected in early 2023.

 

"The major impact of this work is to open the roads for showing that we can bioengineer photosynthesis and improve yields to increase food production in major crops," said De Souza. "It is the beginning of the confirmation that the ideas ingrained by the RIPE project are a successful means to improve yield in major food crops."

 

The RIPE project and its sponsors are committed to ensuring Global Access and making the project's technologies available to the farmers who need them the most, with a focus on Sub-Saharan Africa, one of the fastest growing areas for soybean production in the world. According to the Soybean Innovation Lab, this high-protein food crop has seen growth in acres planted, and domestic demand.

 

"This has been a road of more than a quarter century for me personally," said Long. "Starting first with a theoretical analysis of theoretical efficiency of crop photosynthesis, simulation of the complete process by high-performance computation, followed by application of optimization routines that indicated several bottlenecks in the process in our crops. Funding support over the past ten years has now allowed us to engineer alleviation of some of these indicated bottlenecks and test the products at field scale. After years of trial and tribulation, it is wonderfully rewarding to see such a spectacular result for the team."

Multi-scale research uncovers microbes that affect sorghum drought response

Danforth Center release

 

By bridging experiments in the lab and field, Danforth Center scientists and their collaborators identified microbes that influence sorghum development during drought.

 

Drought is one of the greatest threats to agricultural systems, resulting in unpredictable crop yields, declines in farm revenue, and an increase in disease outbreaks. In the United States alone, drought has cost the nation $249 billion since the 1980s. One potential solution to enhancing crop resilience is the inoculation of seed with bacteria, aka. plant ‘probiotics’ that are known to improve a plant’s drought tolerance. While scientists have identified many microbes that show promise in the lab, replicating their efficacy in agricultural field studies proves much more difficult, largely due to complex environmental variation in the real world. New research spearheaded by Rebecca Bart, PhD, Associate Member, Donald Danforth Plant Science Center, and her colleagues tackled the challenge of bridging the gap between lab and field studies related to crop-microbial interactions and their influence on drought tolerance. Their work has the potential to accelerate crop adaptation to drought conditions and streamlines findings from the lab for farmers in the field. Their seminal research, Identification of beneficial and detrimental bacteria impacting sorghum responses to drought using multi-scale and multi-system microbe comparisons and Increased signal-to-noise ratios within experimental field trials by regressing spatially distributed soil properties as principal components, was recently published in ISME Journal and eLife, respectively.  

 

The authors took a systems-level approach to identify microbes that affected drought response in sorghum, work that spanned “sterile, controlled environments” in the lab, to field experiments chock full of complex soil properties, uneven topography, and nonuniform accumulation of water moisture. The team found that at least six microbes that caused root developmental defects in the lab – stunting the height of sorghum seedlings – were also negatively affecting sorghum growth in the field. “The big advance here,” said corresponding author Bart, “is that we observed similar patterns in a controlled environment and in the field. That result tells us that our lab observations are real and relevant to agriculture.” Strikingly, the research team also identified a new microbe that promoted root growth, a critical characteristic to improve crop resilience to drought.  

 

The research, which took place over the course of the last five years, was not without its own challenges. “Environmental variation makes the real world a noisy place to conduct science,” wrote first author and Danforth Center Senior Data Scientist Jeffrey Berry. The authors needed to develop a model to account for confounding biological variables in field experiments – factors like soil pH and phosphate content, which can vary wildly across a field site. By combining giant, multivariate datasets from collaborators across several institutions, including at University of Nebraska-Lincoln, Iowa State University, Washington State University, University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill, Colorado State University, and the Joint Genome Institute, Berry was able to use sophisticated computational models to understand and overcome variation in the field. The result was a first-of-its-kind statistical model that accounted for soil properties that influenced traits in both crops and microbes. The authors could now compare their results between the lab and field without worrying about how environmental variation might be altering their field observations. “Jeff figured out how to connect some really complicated puzzle pieces,” concluded Bart. 

 

In addition to tackling complicated statistics and collaborating with scientists across the country, part of the teams’ success was having access to the Danforth Center’s unparalleled research infrastructure. For example, the authors used The Bellwether Foundation Phenotyping Facility to visualize and quantify how drought and microbe treatments affected sorghum growth and development as part of their controlled lab experiments. The team is beginning to replicate their methodology in other crops systems like maize, and future research plans for this work will be housed out of the Danforth Center’s new Subterranean Influences on Nitrogen and Carbon (SINC) Center, co-directed by Bart and three other Danforth Center members. SINC was established to better understand the symbiotic relationships between plants and microbes and their potential to reduce chemical nitrogen fertilizer used in agriculture. SINC’s cross-disciplinary approach to creating real solutions for agricultural challenges is the ideal facility to continue the multi-scale and multi-system work for Bart and her collaborators.  

 

This work was supported by funding from the United States Department of Energy, National Science Foundation, Howard Hughes Medical Institute, and Iowa State University. 

USDA ANNOUNCES $300 MILLION IN NEW ORGANIC TRANSITION INITIATIVE

USDA release

 

Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack announced details of the U.S. Department of Agriculture's (USDA) $300 million investment, including with American Rescue Plan funds, in a new Organic Transition Initiative that will help build new and better markets and streams of income for farmers and producers. Organic production allows producers to hold a unique position in the marketplace and thus take home a greater share of the food dollar.

 

According to the USDA National Agricultural Statistics Service, the number of non-certified organic farms actively transitioning to organic production dropped by nearly 71 percent since 2008. Through the comprehensive support provided by this initiative USDA hopes to reverse this trend, opening opportunities for new and beginning farmers and expanding direct consumer access to organic foods through increased production.

 

The initiative will deliver wrap-around technical assistance, including farmer-to-farmer mentoring; provide direct support through conservation financial assistance and additional crop insurance assistance, and support market development projects in targeted markets.

 

"Farmers face challenging technical, cultural, and market shifts while transitioning to organic production, and even during the first years after successful organic certification," said Vilsack. "Through this multi-phased, multi-agency initiative, we are expanding USDA's support of organic farmers to help them with every step of their transition as they work to become certified and secure markets for their products."

 

USDA's Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS), Risk Management Agency (RMA) and Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) are the primary agencies supporting the Initiative, which will focus on three areas.

 

Transition to Organic Partnership Program

 

Through this initiative, USDA aims to ensure that farmers transitioning to organic have the support they need to navigate that transition, including a full supply chain to American consumers who demand organic choices in their supermarkets daily. AMS will build partnership networks in six regions across the United States with trusted local organizations serving direct farmer training, education, and outreach activities.

 

The organizations will connect transitioning farmers with mentors, building paid mentoring networks to share practical insights and advice. Each regional team will also provide community building, including train-the-mentor support; as well as technical assistance, workshops, and field days covering topics including:

 

*organic production practices,

 

*certification,

 

*conservation planning,

 

*business development (including navigating the supply chain), regulations, and

 

*marketing to help transitioning and recently transitioned producers overcome technical, cultural, and financial shifts during and immediately following certification.

 

USDA will provide up to $100 million for this program.

 

Direct Farmer Assistance

 

NRCS will develop a new Organic Management conservation practice standard and offer financial and technical assistance to producers who implement the practice. Payments will be modeled on those already available to producers meeting the existing nutrient and pest management conservation practice standards. USDA will provide $75 million for this effort.

 

This will include an increase in organic expertise throughout its regions, creating organic experts at each of its regional technology support centers. These experts will train staff who provide direct services to USDA customers. These services include hosting hands-on organic training for state and field NRCS staff and fielding organic-related staff questions.

 

USDA will provide $25 million to RMA for the new Transitional and Organic Grower Assistance Program (TOGA) which will support transitioning and certain certified organic producers' participation in crop insurance, including coverage of a portion of their insurance premium.

 

Organic Pinpointed Market Development Support

 

Stakeholders have shared that specific organic markets have market development risks due to inadequate organic processing capacity and infrastructure, a lack of certainty about market access, and insufficient supply of certain organic ingredients.

 

This AMS initiative will focus on key organic markets where the need for domestic supply is high, or where additional processing and distribution capacity is needed for more robust organic supply chains. Examples of markets seeking support include organic grain and feed; legumes and other edible rotational crops; and livestock and dairy.

 

USDA will invest up to $100 million to help improve organic supply chains in pinpointed markets. The Department will seek stakeholder input on these pinpointed initiatives beginning in September, resulting in an announcement of specific policy initiatives later this year.

 

Other USDA Organic Assistance

 

This USDA initiative complements existing assistance for organic producers, including FSA's Organic Certification Cost Share Program (OCCSP) and Organic and Transitional Education and Certification Program (OTECP). OCCSP helps producers obtain or renew their organic certification, and OTECP provides additional funding to certified and transitioning producers during the pandemic.

 

NRCS offers conservation programs, such as the Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP) and the Conservation Stewardship Program (CSP), which can provide assistance to help with managing weeds and pests, and establishing high tunnels, improving soil health, and implementing other practices key to organic operations. RMA also administers federal crop insurance options available to organic producers, including Whole Farm Revenue Protection and Micro Farm.

 

The National Organic Program (NOP) is a federal regulatory program, administered by AMS, that develops and enforces consistent national standards for organically produced agricultural products sold in the United States.

 

Editor's Note: Tell me we are not the only ones confused by incentives to lower overall yields of food crops when the same government acknowledges the possibility of food shortages and food distribution issues.  Oh we get it alright; but understanding what's going on isn't helping me understand it.  It is "official policy" of the Biden administration to "revert" to "sustainable" agricultural practices.  So back to 1835 we go.  In 1835 approximately70% of the U.S. population lived and worked on farms.  Far less than 1% today - so more labor intensive crops will be good.  

 

And beyond all that; when was the last time you got offered incentives, grants, and cash to produce what you do - the way you do?  Government programs for subsidizing seed production?  Anyone?  

SURVEY OF CONSUMERS GRADE U.S. FOOD SYSTEM, HIGHEST TRUST IS WITH FARMERS

by Jonathan Coppess and Maria Kalaitzandonakes, Department of Agricultural and Consumer Economics, University of Illinois

and Brenna Ellison, Department of Agricultural Economics,

Purdue University 

 

This year, the Gardner Agriculture Policy Program launched the Gardner Food and Agricultural Policy Survey, a reoccurring survey of approximately 1,000 US consumers meant to monitor public opinion on food and agricultural issues (farmdoc daily, June 2, 2022).

 

The survey is fielded on a quarterly basis, and new respondents are recruited each quarter to match the US population in terms of gender, age, income, and geographic region. The survey includes several base questions, to allow us to track changes in public perception of agricultural issues, and several ad hoc questions meant to address timely issues relevant to agriculture and food policy.

 

Quarter 1 was conducted in May 2022 and Quarter 2 was conducted in August 2022. In this post, we follow up on how US consumers' beliefs about the food system and trust in food system actors have changed from May 2022 to August 2022.

 

Beliefs About the Food System

 

We asked participants to what extent they agree or disagree that the food system produces food sustainably, that is safe to eat, that tastes good, that is healthy, that is affordable, that is accessible, and in a manner that provides healthy returns for supply chain actors (e.g., farmers, manufacturers, grocery stores). Figure 1 shows the results for each food belief for Quarter 1 (May 2022) and Quarter 2 (August 2022). 

In Quarter 2, we find that beliefs about the food system remained consistently high. We find that the majority of those surveyed either somewhat agreed or strongly agreed that the food system produces food that is sustainable (59.7%), safe (77.7%), tasty (83.2%), healthy (68.2%), affordable (58.9%), and accessible (77.9%) and that the food system produces food that provides healthy returns for supply chain actors (65.8%). Affordability received the lowest level of agreement, in line with continuing inflation concerns. However, we see little change in the proportion of Americans who believe their food is affordable between May 2022 (59.1%) and August 2022 (58.9%). In this quarter's panel, we explored inflation issues further and will publish the results in future articles.

 

Trust in the Food System

 

We also asked participants to what extent they trusted food system actors, including the government, restaurants, grocery stores, food manufacturers, and farmers. Trust was measured on a scale from 1 (meaning they do not trust this group) to 7 (meaning they trust this group very much). Figure 2 shows the results for each food system actor for Quarter 1 (May 2022) and Quarter 2 (August 2022).

 

In Quarter 2, we find that trust in food system actors remained very consistent. In August 2022, farmers remained the highest trusted group (5.6) followed by grocery stores (5.1), restaurants (4.8), food manufacturers (4.5), and government (3.7). 

Concluding Thoughts

 

Results from the 2nd quarter panel of the Gardner Food and Agricultural Policy Survey show that confidence in the ability of the US food system remained consistent between May 2022 and August 2022. We find that a strong majority of Americans continue to believe the food system produces food that is sustainable, safe, tasty, healthy, affordable, accessible, and provides healthy returns to supply chain participants.

 

Among these, issues of affordability remain the lowest and will be explored further. Trust in food actors also remained very consistent, with farmers continuing to be the most trusted group. Future articles on this 2nd quarter panel will look closer at inflation issues, as well as conservation and climate change.

 

Editor's Note: It's interesting, and comforting, that American consumers trust farmers more than any other link in their food chain (of whom they are aware).  We routinely see polling about who farmers trust and the person who makes their variety recommendations, or otherwise advises then on seed selection, is almost always at, or very near, the top of their list.  

They Say Misery Loves Company

TSTA staff

 

No one has to tell you how bad the drought is in Texas.  Despite some recent reprieves in the form of scattered showers across the Rolling and High Plains, a plenty more than that in the Metroplex, drought conditions still dominate large portions of Texas and the Western U.S.  In fact the drought affecting most of the Western U.S. is now thought to be the worst in some 1200 years by climatologists based at the University of California at Los Angeles who study tree rings to ascertain historical rainfall patterns.

 

The current drought in Europe is believed to be the worst in 500 years particularly in France.  China, too, is experiencing record drought and high temperatures.  Cooler ocean currents in the Central Pacific Ocean flowing from east to west, called La Nina, are responsible for the northern latitudes languishing in hot dry conditions.  La Nina pushed the jet stream farther north than usual resulting in drier, and warmer, conditions in southern portions of the northern hemisphere.  

 

Complicating matters is war in Ukraine and the lasting effects of Covid causing supply chain issues.  Poor Germany; they have significantly less natural gas they had planned on and are resigned to burn more coal to keep the lights on this coming fall and winter.  The problem is the main supply route for coal shipments is the Rhine River and it scarcely has sufficient water depth to support barge traffic.  

 

China has declared a drought in six provinces that together accounted for a quarter of China's agricultural output in previous years.  Lower output from hydroelectric generation and too little water to cool conventional power plants has resulted in industrial slowdowns across China as well as Europe affecting availability of everything from automobile parts, fertilizer, chemicals, and a myriad of other starter materials.  All this, of course, exacerbates shortages of supplies beyond those caused by global reaction to Covid.  

 

La Nina typically lasts about nine to 12 months but the current La Nina has been going strong for over three times that long.  Forecasters say it will be at least February 2023 before this  La Nina weakens.  La Nina may be followed by neutral conditions of perhaps an El Nino which would bring "normal" or wet conditions, respectively, to Texas and most of the other portions of the northern hemisphere currently suffering.

 

While we don't take any pleasure in anyone's suffering it is, sometimes, heartening to know we are not alone making our way through difficult conditions.  

Texas Seed Trade Association | www.texasseedtrade.com