Monday, March 30, 2015

Is it Safe to Use Roundup?

Is it Safe to Use Roundup?

Glyphosate, the active ingredient in Roundup made headlines last week when the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC), an arm of the World Health Organization, departed from the scientific consensus to declare glyphosate to be a class 2A “probable human carcinogen.” With the speed of the internet and the reach of social media, the spin began on both sides. Consumers wondered if it was safe to eat food on which glyphosate had been used, and farmers worried about being sued if they kept using the product. Historical perspective, science, and common sense were left in the dust as the rhetoric spun out of control. So setting aside the posturing, here are a few things to consider as you make up your mind on this issue.

First, glyphosate has undergone testing and scientific study for more than 30 years. The U.S. government has declared the chemical safe for use on crops and in agricultural production. The standards used by the government are as follows: “The U.S. EPA develops strict limits (or tolerances) for residues at 100 to 1,000 times lower than levels are at which health impacts might occur. These tolerance levels are considered safe based on average daily food intake by adults and children.” Those  opposed to biotechnology or the use of almost any agricultural chemical say these standards are not safe.  “It is the amount of exposure to a chemical that determines the potential for harm, not simply its presence or absence,” said Carl Winter, PhD, UC Davis. Levels 1,000 times lower than needed seems reasonable to both scientists and regulators. In addition, no credible evidence of health problems have been documented over the past 3 decades.

Second, consider the fact that the ARC study is just one study compared to a much larger body of work that has drawn a different conclusion. “Scientific experts who have considered the body of relevant research do not agree with a categorization of glyphosate as carcinogenic for a very simple reason – it’s clearly not. There is nothing in the data to support such claims, and nothing in the deep reservoir of real world experience with glyphosate, to justify such a move,” said   L. Val Giddings, with the Information Technology and Innovation Foundation. He also points out that the ARC study does not present any new research, but bases its conclusion on previously released research. Whether you believe the new study or not, keep in mind that, to date, the vast amount of science is on the side of glyphosate safety.

Should farmers stop using glyphosate? The Organic Consumer Association says yes.  In a statement released just moments after the ARC results were made public, they said, “The OCA calls on the U.S. EPA to do its job: Ban glyphosate now.” I do find it interesting that the same groups that say 30 years of testing on GMO food is not enough to prove their safety are calling for a ban on glyphosate based on one report.

As for farmers ready to head to the fields to plant a new crop, should they be worried about using glyphosate? Could they be sued or caught in a class action suit? Todd Janzen, ag law expert for Hoosier Ag Today, says no, “Nothing has changed with respect to EPA approval of glyphosate. All we have is one organization classifying it as something that ‘probably’ is carcinogenic.”

So, as you sort through the mountains of media coverage and the megabites of comments on social media, keep this in mind: As of today, glyphosate is safe to use on crops, and food from those crops poses no risk to your health.

 By Gary Truitt

Friday, March 6, 2015

Farmers do what it takes for their animals.

Indiana farmer uses hot tub to save baby cow

ROSSVILLE, Ind. - A Carroll County farmer took matters into his own hands to help save the life of a baby cow.
Dean Gangwer discovered a newborn calf in a snowbank this week. The third-generation farmer said he must have missed one of his cow's give birth.
"She decided to go off by herself, which a lot of cows do, they want to be alone, big old pile of snow, I found this calf laying in there," Gangwer explained.
He could tell the animal was in danger -- the calf’s body temperature was extremely low, he was barely breathing and he could hardly keep his eyes open.
Gangwer managed to get the calf -- now named Leroy -- in the back of his truck and took him home. Once home, the pair sat together in a hot tub. Although it was unconventional, Gangwer hoped it would help bring Leroy's body temperature back up to normal.
"I jumped in fully dressed, held Leroy up so he didn't drown, and him and I had a nice bath for an hour, so we both came out warm and I think the end story's gonna be great for him," Gangwer said.
After getting out of the hot tub, Gangwer took Leroy inside his home to dry him off. Then he wrapped the animal in electric blankets to help warm him up even more.
A day and a half later, Leroy's body temperature was back to normal and he even nursed for the first time Friday morning.
"Leroy's officially done hot-tubbing. Some sunbathing is definitely in his future out in the grass, but definitely his hot tub days are done," Gangwer said.
Gangwer said Leroy was getting stronger by the minute and he should be joining the rest of the herd soon.

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Dates to Remember

Putnam County Farm Bureau is preparing for an active March.  This week we will have our second Legislative Update session, Saturday morning at 8 am.  In March we will be holding our Annual Meeting on Tuesday, March 10th.  Newsletters and cards are on the way.  March 14th is AG DAY in Putnam County starting with breakfast, a program, and the mini farm fest open to all.

Tuesday, February 3, 2015

New Crop Management Tool

Crop Management Tool Helps to Control Inputs

360 Yield Center – Logan Welker at Trupointe Cooperative

DCIM100GOPROCrop management just got a little easier as a new precision agriculture tool has hit the Indiana market. Using big data to make on-farm decisions is quickly becoming the status quo in agriculture. The 360 Yield Center, a new precision agriculture tool, is designed to deliver those decisions says Trupointe Cooperative’s Logan Welker.
“It helps them out with nitrogen utilization and efficiency. Ensuring it with the  weather patterns that they’ve experienced on their farms, it helps them judge what actual nitrogen rates they need to be using right at that moment.”
Welker says growers tend to question the rate of nitrogen they should be applying to their fields.
“This will help us to determine, judging by that farmer’s field, their location, their soil types, how much nitrogen to put out there as well as their seeding populations based on what type of hybrid they’re using.”
The math just works for growers: when you effectively apply nitrogen, you save on your bottom line.
“This will help them maintain their yields as well as help them save on nitrogen application. I mean, maintaining yields and increasing yields is where we want to be; but if we can do it more efficiently, I think that’s where this tool can really help out.”
Welker says for farmers who do invest in precision agriculture, they get paid back.
“A lot of it is determining how it functions and how it best functions on their farm. It’s something that’s real and it’s something that needs to be helped with. Growers needs to understand it’s not just spending money on things, it can also save them money on their inputs. That’s kind of a big discussion piece and understanding we have to go through.”
The 360 Yield Center has four different components:
360 SOILSCAN – provides you with zone-specific soil nitrate analysis results right in your field in as little as 5 minutes, with accuracy that’s comparable to lab resultsSOILSCAN1_675x425
360 COMMANDER – generates optimized, actionable seed, nitrogen and irrigation recommendations based on real-time information
360 UNDERCOVER – mounts easily to your 360 Y-DROP riser and glides smoothly through the field for targeted fungicide, insecticide and nutrient applications. It also gives you multiple nozzle choices, which allow you adjust your application speed and pressure accordingly
360 Y-DROP – gives you more control over when and where you apply nitrogen to your crops – now even up to tassel. And since corn uses 75 percent of nitrogen after the V10 stage, a late season nitrogen application can help improve yield in ways you haven’t been able to before

Get more information on the 360 Yield Center.

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Farmland Property taxes

Purdue Ag Economist Deboer Outlines Farmland Tax Issues

Purdue University agricultural economist Larry DeBoer has outlined the major issues involved in the current legislative discussion of farmland taxes. “It seems likely that something will be done about farmland property taxes,” DeBoer writes in his latest “Capital Comments” column for Purdue Extension. “How it will be done, and who will foot the bill are the big questions.”
Among the possible options the legislature could consider is changing the formula used to calculate farmland assessments to better reflect current market conditions, DeBoer writes. The current formula calculates the taxable value of farmland based on four-to-nine-year-old data, including commodity prices, yields, rents, interest rates and other costs.
But calculating this year’s taxes based on more recent data could increase tax bills in the short term, according to DeBoer, because market conditions have been generally favorable to farmers over the past few years, resulting in higher land values.
Another option could be introducing new deductions for farmland owners, DeBoer writes.
DeBoer’s column appears monthly in the “News Columns” section on the Extension homepage, DeBoer and Tamara Ogle, an Extension educator in Cass County, also have an active Twitter account, @INTaxRockstars, focusing on farmland tax and assessment issues.

Monday, January 12, 2015

Isabella Chism elected as vice chair of AFBF

Chism elected vice chair of NWLC

Indiana Farm Bureau second vice-president Isabella Chism will serve the American Farm Bureau Federation in a new role. Chism was elected as vice chair of the National Women’s Leadership Committee.
Her election to vice chair left an opening on the NWLC board for the Midwest representative. Deb Walsh, of Indiana’s District 1, was elected to fill that role.

Friday, January 9, 2015

farmland taxes

Fighting the increase in farmland taxes

The 2015 Legislative Session is underway.  Katrina Hall, Indiana Farm Bureau’s director of state government relations says the biggest issue facing farmers in 2015 is farmland taxes.  “The increase in farmland taxes is simply escalating at a point where they are going to be consuming the profits that farmers will be making,” she says.
Between 2007 and 2013, farmers paid an additional $100 million in property taxes – or a 33 percent increase.  “Beyond this year – and even taxes that they will pay in 2015 most farmers will see their assessments have gone up 16.5 percent,” she says.  “It may not be a 1 to 1 ration as to how much their bills will go up, but we have to stop the bleeding.”
And with the significant drop in commodity prices and farm incomes, Hall tells Brownfield the issue becomes even more critical.
With issues like farmland taxes, she says it is important for farmers to be in regular communication with their legislators.  “They need to understand the issues of the folks that are affected by the things they are passing and working on,” she says.  “That’s really is the best way for our members to have the chance to get policies implemented that impact them in the best way.”
And not hinder farmers’ ability to business.