Media Contact: Dave Blower Jr.,, 317-644-0980
INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. (August 25, 2018) — Farmers are the original stewards of the land. But consumer pressure and changing food ingredient market sourcing are driving decision makers outside of agriculture to increasingly impose demands on farming in the name of sustainability. To inform Hoosier farmers about these trends and provide them with relevant and useful information to address them, the Indiana Corn Growers Association (ICGA) and the Indiana Soybean Alliance Membership & Policy Committee (ISA M&P) hosted the first Stewardship Tech in the Field program on August 21 at a rural Madison County, Ind. farm.
“We live and work on the land we use for farming. Taking care of our water, our soil health and our environment is a vital responsibility for us,” said Mike Beard, a Clinton County, Ind. farmer and a member of the ICGA board of directors. “The advice offered during this program will help us become even better stewards of our land.”
In addition to the Stewardship Tech event, ICGA and ISA M&P optimized this farmer gathering by hosting a legislative Shop Talk over the lunch hour, which was sponsored by Pioneer. Shop Talk events bring Hoosier farmers together with their legislators for frank policy conversations in districts across the state.
U.S. Rep. Susan Brooks (R-Ind.) was the featured speaker during a farm policy Shop Talk during lunch. Brooks said she understands Indiana farmers want international trade markets reopened. She said getting a farm bill adopted on time is a priority for the U.S. House of Representatives this summer. “Normally the farm bill would be the top priority, but with the trade situation as it is, that is taking precedence,” Brooks said.
Made possible by a generous presenting sponsorship by Corteva Agriscience, and also sponsored by Farm Credit of Mid-America as well as the Indiana Corn Marketing Council and Indiana Soybean Alliance, this inaugural event welcomed a full house of interested farmers, legislators and industry stakeholders. The content of Stewardship Tech focused on educating farmers on the importance of stewardship practices in the ultimate sourcing of their products as ingredients for food manufacturers to satisfy consumer demand, This information was followed by research, technology and farming practice demonstrations that farmers can use on their operations to help them maintain their freedom to operate as market structure and ingredient sourcing is rapidly changing.
Farmers should work to build relationships with the non-farm public, said Amy te Plate-Church of the Center for Food Integrity and Steve Smith, director of agriculture for Red Gold. When engaging consumers, te Plate-Church said farmers talk about shared values before quoting scientific facts. “The moveable middle is where we really have some opportunity for influence,” she said. “It’s hard to hear that consumers think we’re only out to pad our pockets, and we don’t care about food safety. But that’s what consumers are thinking, and we need to know this.”
Smith said food retailers such as Red Gold must remain flexible to consumers’ concerns. He said food processors live in a world where perception is reality. “We recently had to add non-GMO labels to our cans of tomatoes. As many of you know, there are not GM tomatoes,” Smith said. “As an agriculturalist, it really bothers me to have to add that label. But because it’s something consumers ask about, we had to add it to our label.”
Dr. Tony Vyn, a professor of agronomy from Purdue University; Ben Wicker, executive director of the Indiana Agriculture Nutrient Alliance; and Chris Berry, a market developer for Corteva Agriscience, encouraged farmers to think differently when applying nitrogen. About half of all of nitrogen and phosphorus transported from the Mississippi River basin to the Gulf of Mexico comes from farm sources, Wicker said. Those facts concern the non-farm public, and it could invite additional government regulation.
“I can raise a crop by applying nitrogen, but I want to raise a more profitable crop by managing nitrogen,” Berry said.
“We’re not applying any more nitrogen today than we were in 1980, but our yields are much higher,” Vyn said. “The key is synchrony – apply the nitrogen when the plant needs it most. It’s important that we always think about getting the nitrogen into the plant. Modern hybrids will pick up more of what is applied.”
Mark Carter, a Purdue Extension educator from Delaware County, offered a demonstration of an unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) – also known as a drone. Carter said UAV pilots must earn a Federal Aviation Administration license, and the application is not easy. However, he said pilots will learn essential safety practices in the process. “I believe a UAV gives you more information – more precise information – than any other tool you can have on your farm,” he added.
The event was at Shuter Sunset Farms, which is owned by Mike Shuter near Frankton, Ind. Shuter led a tour of his farm and discussed his stewardship practices. To get your name on a list to receive notifications for events of this kind, please email firstname.lastname@example.org.
The Indiana Corn Growers Association board, which works with the state and federal governments to develop and promote sound policies that benefit Indiana corn farmers, consists of 9 farmer-directors who provide leadership to the organization on behalf of the nearly 800 ICGA members statewide.
The Indiana Soybean Alliance works to enhance the viability of Indiana soybean farmers through the effective and efficient investment of soybean checkoff funds and the development of sound policies that protect and promote the interest of Indiana soybean farmers. The ISA is working to build new markets for soybeans through the promotion of biodiesel, livestock, grain marketing, aquaculture, new soybean uses, and research. ISA is led by an elected farmer board that directs investments of the soybean checkoff funds on behalf of more than 28,000 Indiana soybean farmers and promotes policies on behalf of the ISA’s 800 dues-paying members. Visit www.indianasoybean.com for more information.
This communication was NOT funded with Indiana soybean checkoff dollars.
This communication was NOT funded with Indiana corn checkoff dollars.