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Mar 17

TSTA Weekly Update, 03/17/2022

Weekly Update from the Texas Seed Trade Association
Member News
Registration is officially open for ASTA’s new Leadership Summit, June 25-29 in Indianapolis! Make plans now to send your team to a professional development, advocacy and training opportunity that will benefit your company and your industry for years to come.
For more information, including the latest schedule of events, visit the conference webpage.
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.
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!
3/17/2022 - 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!
ASTA will join partners in the agriculture, sustainability and equipment manufacturing community on March 21-22 in the heart of the nation’s capital to showcase the role of agriculture innovation in enabling sustainability.
The Association of Equipment Manufacturers’ (AEM) Celebration of Modern Agriculture on the National Mall will take place outside USDA headquarters between the Smithsonian Museums.
On display will be innovations including: combines, seeds, aerial applications, data management, in-field conservation practices, creative chemistry, and much more. All of the exhibits will feature the advancements that drive American agriculture’s long history of producing more while shrinking its environmental footprint.
Editor's Note: Next Tuesday is National Ag Day.
Nuseed and Richardson Seeds International breeding teams advance Nuseed sorghum through marker assisted selection
Richardson Seeds International (RSI), a subsidiary of Nuseed, has been leading sorghum advancement since 1955. This team of experts relies on years of technical field experience and a keen sense of sight to use traditional breeding methods to advance top performing sorghum hybrids. 
However, not all sorghum traits can be observed visually. As a result, the breeding teams at RSI and Nuseed South America have also teamed up with the R&D team at the Nuseed Innovation Center in West Sacramento, CA to recognize important traits faster. 
The teams’ combined objective is to find and confirm specific gene markers in sorghum through a process called marker-assisted selection (MAS). MAS is when the desired trait is selected based on a genetic marker or DNA sequence and essentially takes the manual guesswork out of finding specific traits. “When choosing traits in traditional plant breeding, breeders are visually looking for plant characteristics such as height, seed color, and brown midrib. Genetic markers are key when looking for not so easily seen traits such as anthracnose resistance and sugar cane aphid resistance,” said David Drinnon, RSI GM. 
MAS helps mitigate field inconsistency impact on traditional breeding. “For example, if we are trying to assess sugarcane aphid resistance and there’s no heavy bug pressure that year and visual selection is difficult, we don’t need to wait for a year with high pressure to select for the traits,” further explained Drinnon. Genetic markers identify these traits regardless of them being seen in the field, dramatically increasing breeding efficiency. 
MAS starts with our breeding team taking leaf tissue samples when the plants are young and about knee-high. They use a leaf punch to put two leaf disks into a 96-well plate. These samples are randomized, and the plants are marked with orange tags for later reference. If the samples are being sent from Argentina, the leaf disks are dried first and then sent to California. If the samples are from RSI, they pack the well plate into a cooler with ice packs and overnight it to the Nuseed Innovation Center in California. 
Once the samples are tested, the teams review the results and discuss advancement decisions. The advancement meeting is held early in the season to ensure enough time to crossbreed the plants containing the specific gene marker to advance. Then they can harvest the crosses the same year and get them planted in the nursery. 
Our team is currently working to further advance sorghum hybrids with a selection of grain improvements and herbicide tolerance. While MAS is not new technology, it is certainly being used extensively, making a positive impact on Nuseed’s sorghum portfolio by using gene marker technology to continue to develop elite sorghum lines.
Editor's Note: Richardson Seeds International is a valued member of the Texas Seed Trade Association.
News Bits
Governor Greg Gianforte this week announced the State of Montana declines to participate in the U.S. Department of the Interior's (DOI) efforts to advance President Biden's "30 by 30" initiative, calling it "long on philosophy and short on detail."
President Biden's "30 By 30" initiative aims to conserve 30 percent of America's lands and waters by 2030. The U.S. Geological Survey indicates 12 percent of U.S. land is in conservation status. To achieve 30 percent by 2030, another 440 million acres would need to be put into conservation, an area nearly five times the size of Montana. In 2021, DOI requested information from states to inform "Interagency Efforts" to help implement the initiative.
Iowa farmland prices have been on the rise for months, and a new 2022 state record was set at auction by Whitaker Marketing Group on March 8th in Sioux County, Iowa.
Thirty-eight acres of farmland sold in Sioux County for $23,000 per acre or $24,498.60 per tillable acre.
Reuters News reported yesterday that, "The area sown with Ukraine's 2022 spring grain crops could fall 39% to 4.7 million hectares due to Russia's military invasion, the APK-Inform agriculture consultancy said on Tuesday."
The article stated that, "The consultancy did not give a 2022 grain harvest forecast."
"It also said that around 2 million hectares of winter wheat, barley and rye sown for 2022 harvest could be damaged or unavailable for harvest due to the hostilities and only around 5.5 million hectares of winter grain crops could be threshed.
"'It means 28% losses,' the consultancy said."
The Reuters article added that, "Ukraine traditionally starts spring field work in late February or in March but this year's cold spring delayed that significantly."
Last week, Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelenskiy urged farmers to plant as many fields as possible.
U.S. agriculture department opens inquiry into fertilizer, seed prices
By Leah Douglas sourced from Reuters
The U.S. Department of Agriculture is opening an inquiry into the impacts of concentration in the fertilizer, seed, and retail markets, according to an agency press release.
The inquiry stems from the Biden administration's July 2021 executive order to promote competition across the U.S. economy, the agency said Friday.
Global supply chain problems and inflation have sent fertilizer and other farm input prices soaring, limiting farmers' ability to capitalize on decade-high grain prices. Fertilizer is expected to be even more scarce as global markets shun Russia, a fertilizer exporter to North and South America, following its Feb. 24 invasion of Ukraine.
"Concentrated market structures and potentially anticompetitive practices leave America’s farmers, businesses, and consumers facing higher costs, fewer choices and less control about where to buy and sell, and reduced innovation — ultimately making it harder for those who grow our food to survive,' Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack said in the release.
Vilsack said in February that he hoped that fertilizer and agricultural input supply companies would not take advantage of the crisis in Ukraine to push already high prices higher.
The Iowa attorney general's office is also investigating high fertilizer prices. Prices for urea and potash are up more than 200% since January 2021 and liquid nitrogen is up 290%, the office said in February.
The USDA will collect comments for 60 days.
The Department also announced a $250 million grant to support "independent, innovative and sustainable American fertilizer production."
Blog by Keith Good, University of Illinois
Bloomberg writer Allison Nicole Smith reported yesterday that, "Wheat futures fell in a broad slump in commodities as markets assessed Ukraine-Russia talks and traders awaited a Federal Reserve decision on U.S. interest rates this week. "
Smith explained that, "Chicago wheat rose as much as 3.8% earlier after Interfax initially reported Russia was considering a wider ban on exports. Interfax later specified the ban would only cover exports to the Eurasian customs union."
The Bloomberg article added that, "Although Russia is past its seasonal wheat-export peak, it had about 8 million tons left to ship between March and June, the United Nations estimated last week."
To view the complete report, click here.
Source: USDA news release
Washington - A new U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) report shows use of no-till, crop rotations, more efficient irrigation methods and advanced technologies have climbed in recent years.
The report from USDA's Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) demonstrates progress made through voluntary conservation over a 10-year period. Findings from the report will inform future conservation strategies, including USDA's efforts to tackle the climate crisis.
The "Conservation Practices on Cultivated Cropland: A Comparison of CEAP I and CEAP II Survey Data and Modeling" was developed by USDA's Conservation Effects Assessment Project (CEAP). It found significant gains for soil health and soil carbon storage, while also identifying areas where additional and targeted nutrient management strategies are needed.
"This latest CEAP report shows that farmers have done an outstanding job over the years in using innovative conservation strategies that help mitigate climate change," said NRCS Chief Terry Cosby, "But we have more work to do. Reports like this one help us better understand conservation approaches and make improvements to increase positive impacts. This report will help steer our conservation efforts well into the future to help us adapt to changing trends in production, climate and technology."
Key findings include:
• Farmers increasingly adopted advanced technology, including enhanced-efficiency fertilizers and variable rate fertilization to improve efficiency, assist agricultural economies and benefit the environment.
• More efficient conservation tillage systems, particularly no-till, became the dominant form of tillage, improving soil health and reducing fuel use.
• Use of structural practices increased, largely in combination with conservation tillage as farmers increasingly integrated conservation treatments to gain efficiencies. Structural practices include terraces, filter and buffer strips, grassed waterways and field borders.
• Irrigation expanded in more humid areas, and as irrigators shifted to more efficient systems and improved water management strategies, per-acre water application rates decreased by 19% and withdrawals by 7 million-acre-feet.
• Nearly 70% of cultivated cropland had conservation crop rotations, and 28% had high-biomass conservation crop rotations.
Because of this increased conservation, the report estimates:
• Average annual water (sheet and rill) and wind erosion dropped by 70 million and 94 million tons, respectively, and edge-of-field sediment loss declined by 74 million tons.
• Nearly 26 million additional acres of cultivated cropland were gaining soil carbon, and carbon gains on all cultivated cropland increased by over 8.8 million tons per year.
• Nitrogen and phosphorus losses through surface runoff declined by 3% and 6%, respectively.
• Average annual fuel use dropped by 110 million gallons of diesel fuel equivalents, avoiding associated greenhouse gas emissions of nearly 1.2 million tons of carbon dioxide equivalents.
About the Report
For this report, farmer survey data was collected from 2003-2006 and again from 2013-2016. NRCS evaluates conservation practice adoption through the CEAP Cropland Assessment, using a combination of farmer surveys, land use and soils information, along with resource models. CEAP project findings are used to guide USDA conservation policy and program development, along with assisting conservationists, farmers and ranchers and other land stewards with making sound and science-based conservation decisions.
The Four R’s of Media Relations for Small-Shop Ag Communicators
This article was originally published at
Many agri-businesses and rural-facing companies work on shoestring budgets and keep their marketing and communications teams lean. In many organizations, one or two people are juggling every aspect of earned, owned and paid media.
The job description for a small-shop ag communicator may include designing brochures, producing events, posting to social media, ordering the company polos, assisting human resources with recruiting, creating sales presentations and “all other duties as assigned.”
So, when it comes to working with reporters, it’s easy for their leaders to take the public relations process for granted and ask their small-shop to “get this article in the industry magazine or newspaper right away.”
This kind of request can send a small-shop communicator’s head spinning!
Help your lean communications team give 100 percent when it comes to media relations with the four R’s of public relations: Build relationships, be relevant, get ready, and ensure your team rehearses and has resources prepared.
1. Relationships
Build relationships with reporters before you “need” them. This starts with an up-to-date media list which is especially important with the ongoing consolidation in ag media.
A variety of subscription services provide contact details and press release distribution services. Several do a good job of staying current with job changes with ag and rural lifestyle reporters, so be sure your service covers your specific industry. It’s often best to segment reporters based on what kinds of content they would cover. In ag, most reporters and editors specialize in some aspect of the industry. You can also connect with these reporters on Twitter or LinkedIn.
A media relations agency is also a great resource. Agencies already pay the annual subscription fee for these reporter databases. Partnering up for media connections can be a time and resource saver.
2. Relevant
Who cares? Segmenting your list of reporters also ensures you’re sending the most relevant content to the right reporter. A national news outlet does not care that you donated $500 to the local county fair, but your local newspapers do.
Why does this matter? Specifically, why does this matter to the media outlet’s audience? This is a critical question for small-shop communicators to ask of their leaders who are pushing for a press story. Have tough conversations about what constitutes trying to make news and what is clearly newsworthy.
Timing is everything. Many industry publications share their editorial calendars at least a year in advance. Use those resources to place your company in the spotlight when the editors are looking for specific content.
3. Ready
One of the biggest mistakes a small-shop communications team can make is not being prepared to communicate in a crisis. As a leader, support your communications in creating a company-wide plan and instituting training; don’t let it sit on the back burner.
Communicate together: There are two sides to crisis management; on-the-ground operations and communications. Ensure your safety/emergency operations team and communications teams work together to coordinate. Document and train a clear chain of command for notifying up the team hierarchy and a plan for communicating to all employees, customers, vendors and the community both in the short term and in the long-term.
Planning matrix: One of the best ways to draft content for crisis communications is to create a matrix of “most likely crisis to occur” and “most impactful crisis to occur.” Prepare draft social media, press releases and talking points based on a matrix created by a cross-section of your business.
4. Rehearsing and Offering Resources
Great news. Your small ag shop communications team has landed a stellar interview with a key reporter. The hard work is just starting because you need to train and prepare helpful resources for your reporter.
Key messages: Ensure you and your team are synced on a clear, concise message you want to resonate in the interview. It should be one to two sentences and be repeated often in your time with the reporter.
Pivot to your key message: You have just as much control over the interview as the reporter does. If you get a question that strays from your focus, answer the question but use a pivot phrase to move the conversation back to your main point.
Offer resources: According to Cision’s 2021 State of the Media report, more than 75% of reporters utilize images with their articles and almost 50% utilize video or infographics. Make your reporter’s job easier by offering images or photo shoot locales, an infographic or existing b-roll.
Editor's Note: You never know when the need may arise for you to issue a press release or speak, on the record, with a news reporter. These tips may come in handy and if you desire help please contact the association office with any questions, more resource material, or direct assistance.
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The articles, views, and opinions expressed in the Weekly Update do not necessarily reflect the policies of the Texas Seed Trade Association or the opinions of its members.