Archive for the ‘sorghum’ Category

Sustainably Feeding the World

By: DeEtta Bohling, Communications Specialist

How can we best feed the word? Alex Avery of the Hudson Institute talks about how to best protect the environment with regards to agriculture on a new episode of Green State TV.

New research shows that the best way to save the biodiversity of Mother Earth is to produce as much as you can on a given acre. Avery states that we need to use synthetic nitrogen fertilizer. Avery goes on to say that “if we had to do it organically, you’re talking about the equivalent manure of 6-8 billion additional cows on the Earth, which is five times more cows than exist on the plant today. When we are already pasturing and grazing 26% of the Earth’s total land area, 500% more cows is going to take up all that is left.”

Alex Avery also speaks about pesticides and herbicides which help growers produce more per acre in a sustainable manner. Today, growers are able to produce more with less soil erosion. Farmers have adopted conservation tillage on millions of acres of land – and continue to expand the use of no-till and minimal till practices. The benefits for the environment are significant. No-tilling means remnants from the previous year’s crop are left untouched. Not only does this improve the soil over time, but it significantly reduces soil run-off during snowmelt or heavy rain.  In fact, the U.S. Department of Agriculture noted that America’s corn farmers have cut soil erosion 44 percent in two decades by using these innovative conservation methods.

Kirk Wiscombe of Overbrook, KS plants corn

Avery gives credit to a popular herbicide, Atrazine which has been used by corn, sorghum, sugarcane and other produce growers since the 1950s.  Atrazine is the cornerstone of sustainable, low erosion, no-till farming which has revolutionized sustainability in agriculture. Conservation tillage is an option for more farmers today because of technological advances. Corn plants that are resistant to safer herbicides means controlling weeds in a no-till field is more efficient and less harmful to the land and people. Seed that resist insect damage mean fewer insecticides are needed to protect the crop, and that means fewer passes across the field. These technologies are made possible through biotechnology.

With advancements in technology, farmers can continue to produce more food with less soil erosion, less fertilizer, less acreage, less water and less fuel. America’s farmers have a moral obligation to care for Mother Earth and produce food for a growing population.

Additional Resources:

Corn Farmers Coalition

Biotechnol0gy

Conservation

On Ethanol, Energy . . . and Dark Parking Lots

The Kansas Corn Car Loves Ethanol!

By Sue Schulte, Director of Communications

On Monday, I drove the Kansas Corn Car to Holcomb to speak at an FFA district banquet—what a great group of young people! After the program, I was energized and inspired, and headed to Garden City to my hotel. On my way, I stopped at the U Pump It Country Corners station in Garden City for fuel. The station features ethanol blender pumps that offer E20, E30, E50 and E85 fuels for flexible fuel vehicles. The price of regular unleaded was $3.66, but I paid just $2.99 for E85. It felt good to purchase fuel for less than $3 a gallon!

It is true that you lose some fuel mileage when using E85 in a flex fuel vehicle, but I have found that the lower price of E85 normally pays for the loss in mileage. I did the math, taking into account the lower fuel price and the decreased mileage, and I easily drove more miles per dollar on E85 than regular unleaded. It normally works out that way with the Corn Car, a Chevy Impala. What makes a bigger difference to me is that I know that at least 85 percent of my fuel dollar is staying in the U.S. and not going to the Middle East.

The Corn Car is pretty visible, and I am accustomed to answering questions about corn and ethanol while driving it. That’s what makes the Corn Car so great, right? When I pulled into the hotel in Garden City a little before 10 p.m. Monday night, a man in the rather dark parking lot hollered at me, “Flex fuel? You’ve gotta be joking!” I responded, “It’s no joke, I just filled up for $2.99.” He proceeded to tell me some myths about ethanol, and I told him were erroneous. Then he said, “I’m not into politics and I hate ethanol!” Judging from the beer cans that littered the parking lot and the slur in his voice, I quickly deduced that this man didn’t hate all ethanol, just the stuff he couldn’t drink. Believe me, I had a lot of things I wanted to say to him, but arguing with a drunk man in a dark, deserted parking lot didn’t seem like a good idea. I scooted into the safety of the hotel lobby.

Things I wanted to say to the parking lot drunk:
• “You hate ethanol? I hate sending my fuel dollars to the Middle East!”
• “Do you think there are no politics involved in importing billions of dollars worth of foreign oil into the United States? And what about the billions of consumer dollars we send out of our country to OPEC every year?”
• “I’ll get more miles per dollar with E85 than I will with regular unleaded.”
• I can’t lie, E85 smells better than regular gas, oh, and it’s less polluting too!

Later, safely tucked away in my hotel room, I thought about my brief conversation with the parking lot drunk. I have run into my fair share of people who say they hate ethanol, and it’s a real hatred. I don’t get it, or maybe they don’t get it. Ethanol does get some subsidies, but look at the billions of taxpayer dollars that go to the oil industry, directly through subsidies and indirectly through protecting foreign sources of oil. No one ever says, “If imported oil is viable, why can’t it survive without government support?”

Ethanol is mostly produced in small communities throughout the U.S., especially in the heart of the nation. When you buy ethanol, that part of your fuel dollar stays in the U.S., and possibly in your own community. It’s the only fuel that substantially offsets the amount of foreign oil we use to power our vehicles. It makes up about 10 percent of our nation’s fuel for gas-powered vehicles. The current fuel price spikes are being blamed on low oil supplies. What would happen to gas prices if ethanol production stopped and ten percent of our fuel disappeared?

Farmers rely on all kinds of energy to produce their crops—ethanol, gasoline, diesel, natural gas and more. I don’t know any farmers who are against oil or other types of energy. We need them all and we need them to be abundant and affordable. And I think a majority of people wish more of our energy was produced here, and not imported from many countries that are either unstable, hostile to the U.S. or both. In parts of Kansas, we’re proud of the oil and natural gas being pumped from deposits beneath fields where our farmers grow corn and other crops. Some of that corn or sorghum may be used to make ethanol. Now that’s an energy farm!

Instead of fighting between ourselves over ethanol, a domestic fuel that works, maybe we should simply support all the energy we can produce here. Domestic energy provides jobs and economic growth, something our country certainly needs today.

Sigma Alpha Sorority Promotes Ag at KSU

Guest post by Beth Holz

Growing up on a diversified farm I witnessed my uncle, father and grandfather working early mornings, late nights, and every weekend. My grandfather never went into retirement, he spent everyday on the farm, up until the day he passed in his nineties. When physical labor was no longer plausible because of his age, he was in the office discussing markets, animal care, and business strategies. He devoted his whole life, with pride, to the farm-a lifetime of hard work to feed the world. This is quintessential of agriculturists across the nation.

As a gesture of thanks the Sigma Alpha Professional Agriculture Sorority at Kansas State University wanted to educate and remind students of all farmers do. On Thursday March 31, sorority members hosted a “Give Thanks to Agriculture” display at the student union. The display included a grocery cart containing over 90 loaves of bread, depicting the amount of bread from one bushel of wheat.

Over 200 t-shirts showed the use of cotton, and a diagram of 156 people demonstrated how many people one farmer feeds. In addition, commodity groups,  including the Kansas Corn Growers Association and Kansas Grain Sorghum Association, donated gear and educational materials to hand out to students. Furthermore, students had the opportunity to write a message and sign flip charts thanking a farmer. The campaign went beyond the walls of the union. Sigma Alpha members, decked out in pink t-shirts with the slogan “Give Thanks to Agriculture” stamped across the front, handed out fliers with various agriculture facts and statistics across campus. The girls focused on the side of campus where agriculture classes are not held, in an attempt to reach those not as familiar with farming and ranching.

Not only did this campaign give Kansas State students the opportunity to show gratitude for their food, fuel, and clothing, it was valuable to the sisters of Sigma Alpha, myself included. The support that we received from different agriculture groups and businesses was astonishing. When I see how excited agriculturalists are about education and awareness, it makes me want to continue spreading the word. The more we support each other as advocates and offer our many resources, the more people we can reach with positive messages.

I felt honored this week to be apart of an event that shows thanks to farmers. Farming is a time consuming, back-breaking, high risk job that the world depends on for survival. If you ate, got dressed or used a vehicle today, don’t forget to thank a farmer and spread positive messages about agriculture.

———————————–
Beth Holz is a Junior at Kansas State University Majoring in Agriculture Communications. She is originally from Grand Junction, Iowa, where her family have fed cattle and raised corn for 4 generations. Beth was involved in the operations, as well as involved in the 4-H program on the state level.

She is involved in several agriculture clubs on campus, such as Sigma Alpha Professional Agriculture Sorority, Kansas State Dairy Judging Team, and Agriculture Communicators of Tomorrow. She enjoys the agriculture industry, and has enjoyed her internships with AIB international and The Kansas Soybean Commission.

She plans to graduate in May 2012, and pursue a career in the grain industry, or at a full service communications firm.

Sorghum Wholegrain Banana Nut Bread


2 1/2 c sorghum flour
1 1/2 T cornstarch or 1 1/4 t xanthan gum
1 c sugar
1 T cornstarch
1/4 c corn oil 1 1/2 t GF baking powder
3/4 c milk
1 egg, add yolk, beat egg white and add
1 c chopped nuts
1 c mashed banana

Heat oven to 350 degrees and grease one loaf pan. Measure all ingredients into large mixing bowl and beat on medium speed of mixer for 1 minutes. Pour into loaf pan and bake 55 to 60 minutes or until toothpick inserted comes out clean. Cool 10 minutes and turn out of pan.

 

Daily Californian Article on Tyrone Hayes Raises Questions on Frogs, Fibs and Scientific Method

11-15-10–Berkeley anti-atrazine research Tyrone Hayes was featured in today’s issue of The Daily Californian, the independent newspaper of the University of California-Berkeley. The article outlines Hayes’ research that claims atrazine in extremely small amounts, sterilizes and feminizes male frogs. It also documents Hayes’ ongoing fights with Syngenta Crop Protection, the main manufacturer of atrazine. Atrazine is a herbicide used on corn, sorghum, sugar cane and other crops.

In the article, Hayes strongly refuted claims that he has not shared data on his atrazine research with the Environmental Protection Agency. The article quotes one researcher who says Hayes’ research hasn’t been replicated, and another researcher who says that is irrelevant.

Reproducibility
Yale University professor David Skelly, a researcher who participated in two EPA panels that reviewed the results of atrazine studies, told the newspaper that his is not aware of anyone who has been able to replicate Hayes’ results. The concept of being able to replicate the results of research is called “reproducibility”.

But that’s not relevant, according to Gail Prins, physiology professor at University of Illinois at Chicago. She told the Daily Californian that it is not important that others have not been able to replicate Hayes’ study results. She said she trusts his methods. However, reproducibility is widely recognized as one of the main principles of the scientific method (unless Gail Prins trusts you).

Missing Data?
Syngenta toxicologist Tim Pastoor told the newspaper that Hayes’ results will not be considered reliable until he gives his raw data to EPA to evaluate. Hayes hasn’t done that. Hayes’ responded by saying that allegation is “blatantly false” and told the newspaper that he had allowed EPA into his laboratory in 2002.

In a June 18, 2010 article written by Alex Avery of the Center for Global Food Issues, titled “EPA Exposes Hayes–Again!” documents Hayes’ failure to provide proper data to EPA (information excerpted  below).

2005: Anne E. Lindsay, then-deputy director of the EPA’s Office of Pesticide Programs, gave Hayes a hard review in testimony before the Minnesota House of Representatives in 2005.  Lindsay said EPA had never seen the results from any independent investigator published in peer-reviewed scientific journals, or the raw data from Hayes’ additional experiments. Hayes’ responded to Lindsay’s remarks in a paper recently put out by anti-pesticide activist organization, PANNA, refuting Lindsay’s 2005 testimony by pointing to a 2002 letter from EPA’s Tom Steeger praising him for sharing raw data.

2010: Illinois State Representative Dave Winters asked EPA recently if the agency had received “a complete, transparent set of raw data which could be interpreted and analyzed by the EPA and used in generating a full evaluation of his work.”  Donald Brady, Director of the Environmental Fate and Effects Division replied:  “I regret that the EPA science staff in the Office of Pesticide Programs’ EFED could not properly account for the sample sizes and study design reportedly used by the Berkeley researchers.  As a result, we were unable to complete any independent analysis to support the study’s conclusions.”

Bottom Line
Dr. Hayes’ research can’t be replicated. He won’t share his data, even with EPA. He is a self-described anti-atrazine activist, bringing his objectivity into question. It is hard to ignore these facts when considering his claims against atrazine. Let’s hope EPA still believes in the scientific process.

(By Sue Schulte, Director of Communications, Kansas Corn Growers Association, Kansas Grain Sorghum Producers Association)
For more information visit: http://www.ksgrains.com or http://agsense.org

Oil a Black Hole for Taxpayer Dollars

By: Mark Lambert, National Corn Growers Association, Senior Communications Manager

For years discovering how many perks, incentives and subsidies the global oil industry receives has been the Holy Grail of biofuels supporters. They are so numerous and come from so many places it is mind boggling, troubling and something akin to finding the Loch Ness monster. Thanks to Todd Neeley of DTN a hint of our true exposure is surfacing in part one of a new “must read” series.

This is critical information because consumers should know what their addiction to imported petroleum is really costing them and Big Oil has never been shy about bashing incentives for the domestic ethanol industry, the only real competition they face in the marketplace. They try to be-little the contributions of family farmers and the American ethanol industry that now produce as much ethanol as what we currently import from Saudi Arabia.

At the end of the day you have to question why a century old industry like oil, whose major players consistently rank in the Fortune 100 companies, conservatively receive 10 times the incentives received by ethanol. As Neeley says, “Using the most liberal definition of public financial support, including tax breaks on equipment depreciation and foreign investments, oil’s total benefit from the public treasury can be as much as 10 times that of ethanol.”

DTN’s tally for state and federal tax incentives for oil comes to $17.9 billion annually. All told the tax deductions, credits and other public benefits the oil industry receives, U.S. taxpayers support oil to the tune of between $133.2 billion and $280.8 billion annually. “The comparable figure exclusively for ethanol is $7.1 billion. This does not include tax credits and other incentives that both industries share, such as the blenders’ credit or VEETC”…or the roughly $7 billion to $28 billion in military costs to protect oil supplies. Let’s not forget the White Elephant of lives lost either.

Interestingly, oil interests say they need the taxpayer largesse to do research and explore for more petroleum to continue our legacy of dependence. Makes you wonder what the impact would be if they invested the $200 billion oil says they spend on research in making ethanol more efficiently and from even more sources.

And as for oil exploration, I would rather invest my money in ethanol. . We know where farmers live and what their productive capabilities are when they are challenged to meet market demand. Eight record crops in the last eight years prove it.

Original post- Corn Commentary

We’ve been served . . .

Kansas Growers Served with Subpoenas Over Atrazine
By Jere White, Executive Director,  Kansas Corn Growers Association; Kansas Grain Sorghum Producers Association

Warning, consider this as a read-only document. Downloading may implicate you as a key player in a Madison County, Illinois lawsuit…lol.

We must have spoken too loudly last week. On September 15, I gave comments supporting atrazine at the Environmental Protection Agency’s Atrazine Science Advisory Panel in Washington DC. Also on September 15, we posted a column critical of trial attorneys who are pursuing big payoffs in an atrazine lawsuit and the subpoenas they had served to corn growers and their organizations who have publicly supported atrazine. The column, titled “Lawyers Aim to Harass, Intimidate Growers in Atrazine Issue” can be found on our KSGrains blog  as well as on the AGSense website . The Madison (IL) Record also published the column. The next day, September 16, the trial attorneys requested that subpoenas be issued for the Kansas Corn Growers Association, Kansas Grain Sorghum Producers Association as well as a subpoena to me as an individual. The trial attorneys are involved in a case attempting to collect large payouts for communities who jumped on the lawsuit bandwagon even though their atrazine levels are well below the drinking water standards set and enforced by EPA.

The subpoenas ask for any and all records and communications relating to atrazine, Syngenta and its legacy companies, and more. There is no limit to the number of years from which we are required to gather these records. And there is no limit to what records are to be included. For example, I served on the Biotechnology Working Group with the National Corn Growers Association. We certainly had discussions about biotechnology products developed by Syngenta. In order to participate in those discussions, I signed a confidentiality agreement. Without such confidentiality, candid discussions about what traits are in the pipeline and how they can have an impact on growers would not take place. Yet  any records I have regarding these discussions would be covered by the subpoena, even though this information has nothing to do with atrazine. What kind of information do the trial attorneys hope to get from our office? How would that information help determining the merits of its lawsuit?

Perhaps the trial attorneys believe they can distract us by giving us the task of going through all the files we have accumulated over the years.  Or maybe this is simply a tactic to harass those of us who have chosen to stand up for atrazine and the farmers who rely on it to control weeds and grow their crops using more environmentally sustainable methods.

It appears that the trial attorneys are trying to prove a relationship between farmers and Syngenta, the primary maker of atrazine. Sure, there is a relationship. After all, we have an interest in the products they sell to growers, and they have an interest in selling products to growers. But is anyone questioning the alliance formed by the other side of this fight? The well-heeled, well-funded Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC), trial attorney firms Korein-Tillery and Barron and Budd, big media outlets like the New York Times and the Huffington Post have all worked in concert to put atrazine on the front burner at EPA.

As a private, member funded association, we believe we have a constitutional right to have informal, off the record discussions between stakeholders, farmers, staff and others to help us arrive at decisions and policies formulated by our grower associations. Our group’s decisions on issues facing agriculture are certainly not secret. But to ask for records of every thought that went into those decisions is wrong. It would inhibit future discussions by instilling the fear that ideas shared informally could become public record even if those ideas didn’t make the final cut.

Be assured we won’t be intimidated by fat cat trial attorneys and their harassing subpoenas. We will continue to represent our growers’ interests in the atrazine issue.

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