Ag Industry Brief: Automated Indoor Farming, M&A, Farmers Demand Climate Action, more

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Agrilyst and Motorleaf Partner for Fully Automated Indoor Farming

Indoor farm management and automation software firm Agrilyst and automation and IoT hardware and software provider Motorleaf have partnered up to facilitate increased automation for indoor, hydroponic growers. According to the companies, growers will now be able to connect Motorleaf devices to Agrilyst’s platform and visualize all of their climate and nutrient information in real-time alongside their crop yield data. Read more from Agrylist here. Read more from Motorleaf here. Read more about the partnership here.

Mexichem Acquires Netafim

Mexichem, one of the world’s largest chemical companies, agreed to acquire an 80% stake in Israeli irrigation firm Netafim Ltd., one of the world’s largest irrigation companies, from New York-based private equity firm Permira Funds and other minority shareholders. Kibbutz Hatzerim, the founder, will retain the remaining 20% stake of Netafim. The total enterprise value of the deal is $1.895 billion. Read more here.

TRG Acquires Forestry and Ag Investment Management Firm

The Rohatyn Group (TRG), a specialized asset management firm focused on emerging markets, will acquire GMO Renewable Resources, which invests in forestry and agriculture opportunities, from Grantham, Mayo, Van Otterloo & Co. (GMO). Under the agreement, the team from GMORR is expected to move, intact, to TRG. GMO, which currently owns 51% of the GMORR joint venture, with the GMORR principals owning 49%, will retain its investments in funds managed by GMORR. Read more here.

Farmers to Perdue: More Climate Action

The National Farmers Union (NFU) sent a letter to US Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue stating that they want the USDA to take climate change seriously and commit to efforts toward reversing it. NFU President Roger Johnson wrote: “There is little doubt that farmers and ranchers want to do the right thing and leave the land in a better state than they found it. USDA agencies are extremely effective at connecting with producers and landowners – regardless of their views on climate change – and encouraging them to take action.” Read the letter here.

Food and Ag Cryptocurrency Launching Soon

A new cryptocurrency called FoodCoin will launch through an initial coin offering (ICO). FoodCoin will be traded on a new blockchain ecosystem for food and ag businesses called FoodCoin Ecosystem, which is meant to provide a trusted and safe marketplace with fair prices and high-quality products. It is based on the 1000EcoFarms Platform, which includes simple instruments of search and contact with local food producers. FoodCoin (FdC) aims to serve as an alternative social currency for supporting  and ensuring local food systems. The pre-ICO starts on August 23. Read more here

Brights Farms Gains Fresh Express Alum

Greenhouse operator BrightFarms has hired Fresh Express alum Dean Martel as their new vice president of sales. Abby Prior, already on the Bright Farms team will now become vice president of marketing.

Operating at or near supermarkets in Pennsylvania, Illinois, and Virginia, BrightFarms cultivates varieties of tomatoes, leafy greens, and basil, selling to local grocers through a unique business model based on long-term contracts. Read more here.

Iteris Hires New GM from Observant

Iteris, the transportation, and agriculture applied informatics and big data company has appointed Jim Chambers as general manager of the company’s agriculture and weather analytics segment. Jim comes to Iteris from Observant. He also previously held key management positions at Bayer CropScience, Deere & Company, Valent BioSciences, AgraQuest, and Monsanto. Read more here.

Other News That’s Fit to Chew

  • The FDA has cleared Hampton Creek’s new mung bean protein ingredient as safe for consumption, allowing it to soon debut its new plant-based scrambled egg product, says VegNews.
  • Impossible Foods is having a more difficult time with the FDA regarding their GMO “heme” ingredient, with the New York Times reporting that the administration has “expressed concern that it has never been consumed by humans and may be an allergen.”
  • Retailers are using Bitcoin and human spies to combat food fraud, reports Bloomberg.
  •  Walmart’s new dairy plant will open soon despite dropping milk consumption, reports EDairy News.
  • The ag industry may have influenced President Trump to hold off taking trade action against China, CNBC reports.
  • Japanese scientists have created ice cream that doesn’t melt – more from Food & Wine.
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