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Soy Briefs

Article cover photo
Sibley farmer Brian Kemp was reappointed to the United States Soybean Export Council's Board of Directors. (Photo: Joseph L. Murphy)

USSEC SEATS 2020-2021 BOARD OF DIRECTORS
United States Soybean Export Council (USSEC) is pleased to announce its Board of Directors for 2020-2021 was seated on February 25 at the organization’s annual meeting in San Antonio, Texas. Sibley farmer Brian Kemp was reappointed to the board.

Kemp is serving his second term on ASA and currently serves on the Trade Policy and International Affairs Advocacy Committee. He is a past president of the Iowa Soybean Association. He currently serves as a Township Trustee, Chairman of the Sibley-Ocheyedan High School Ag Education Fund Governing Board, Elder on his church’s governing board, and is president of the Iowa Wallaces Farmer Master Farmers Association. He is a past president of the Osceola County Iowa Farm Bureau. Brian is a former County Agricultural Extension Agent and has bachelors and master’s degrees from Iowa State University. Kemp and his wife Cindy raise soybeans and corn in Northwest Iowa and have two daughters.

USSEC’s board is comprised of 15 members representing various stakeholders from the U.S. soy industry. Four members are from the American Soybean Association (ASA), four members are from the United Soybean Board (USB), and seven seats represent trade, industry, and state organizations.

SECRETARY PERDUE DIRECTS USDA FLEET TO INCREASE BIOFUELS USAGE, ANNOUNCES NOTICE OF FUNDING FOR BIOFUELS INFRASTRUCTURE PROGRAM
U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue issued a memo today directing the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) to acquire alternative fueled vehicles (AFV) when replacing conventionally fueled vehicles. USDA owns and operates one of the largest civilian fleets in the Federal Government and this move to a fleet that can use E85 or biodiesel will increase efficiencies and performance.

Additionally, as part of the President Donald J. Trump’s October agreement to seek opportunities to facilitate the availability of higher biofuel blends across the country, USDA will make $100 million in grants available this year for the newly created Higher Blends Infrastructure Incentive Program (HBIIP). Through this program, transportation fueling and biodiesel distribution facilities will be able to apply for grants to help install, retrofit, and/or upgrade fuel storage, dispenser pumps, related equipment and infrastructure to be able to sell ethanol and biodiesel. The Department plans to publish application deadlines and other program information in the Federal Register this spring. 

USDA AND USTR ANNOUNCE PROGRESS ON IMPLEMENTATION OF U.S.-CHINA PHASE ONE AGREEMENT 
U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue and United States Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer announced today that China has taken numerous actions to begin implementing its agriculture-related commitments under the landmark U.S.-China Phase One Economic and Trade Agreement on schedule. The agreement entered into force on February 14, 2020.

These actions include:

In addition, China has begun announcing tariff exclusions for imports of U.S. agricultural products subject to its retaliatory tariffs (Tariff Exclusion Process Announcement), and it announced a reduction in retaliatory tariff rates on certain U.S. agricultural goods (Tariff Rate Adjustment Announcement). These types of actions will facilitate China’s progress toward meeting its Phase One purchase commitments. 

FARMER, PHARMACIST AND PODCASTER: AG STATE OF MIND
Jason Medows didn’t set out to be a podcaster. He just liked to listen to them. A pharmacist and a farmer, he took a special interest when his favorite agricultural podcasts discussed mental health, but those episodes were few and far between.

Medows is determined to spread awareness of mental health in the ag community. Professionally, he sees the barriers farmers face in seeking treatment. Seeking out counseling isn’t always enough, the counseling community needs awareness, too.

So, he decided he would try recording his own podcast and it turns out, there were plenty of people that wanted to listen. The Ag State of Mind is focused on combating the mental health crisis in agriculture delving into hard to talk about topics such as depression, anxiety, and suicide. The podcast has featured a diverse group of farmers from Nebraska, Montana, Pennsylvania, Virginia and more.

Topics have included the current challenges facing the dairy industry and the rates of depression and suicide within the veterinary community. Experts have also spoken to increasing the health and productivity of a ranching operation and the importance of sleep to stress and mental health. Several episodes introduce mental health resources to listeners, but most importantly they feature farmers talking openly and breaking through the stigma of mental illness. 

Find Ag State of Mind with Jason Meadows on Apple Podcasts, Spotify and more.

THE BENEFITS OF RURAL 5G COMING TO THE FARM
Farmers are already using broadband-enabled GPS applications to useful ends—using drones and other equipment to gather data about particular tracts of land and then working with certified crop advisors to optimize the use of water, fertilizer, and nutrients, and to minimize their environmental impact, he says. IoT farm equipment can then download data about a particular piece of land and operate accordingly. Precision agriculture is already making the smart farm a reality. The arrival of 5G will propel all of this agricultural technology forward at warp speed. 

“Farming is already highly automated, but this will allow farmers to orchestrate the automation under one roof,” says Anshel Sag, an associate analyst focusing on mobility and virtual reality for Moor Insights & Strategy. “It could allow them to do more with less labor and be more efficient than they ever have been.”

But, full implementation will take some time. The first 5G networks are just coming online, and the first phones enabled for the network have just been launched. But industry experts expect that by 2025, 5G will be widespread. Sag says it also remains to be seen how quickly farmers will be able to invest—the extent to which the industry is already leveraged is an issue—but he envisions a future in which a company might lease to farmers a bundle of 5G-enabled equipment, and provide them with the weather, soil, and other data needed to make the best use of the equipment.

For media inquiries, permission to republish articles or to request high-res photos, please contact Katie James, ISA Public Relations Manager at kjames@iasoybeans.com. © 2020 Iowa Soybean Association. All rights reserved.