Ag Industry Brief: FBN Researching Seed Labels, Syngenta Opens Digital Innovation Lab, more

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Farmers Business Network Conducting Seed Relabeling Research

Farmers Business Network, a farm data service that also offers input procurement, is conducting research regarding seed relabeling. According to the company, seed brands relabel seed products and offer them at varying prices. FBN has found examples where the cost difference in one state exceeded $60/bag, or $29/acre. After hearing many other like cases from farmers in their network, FBN put out a call for farmers to send in all their seed labels for examination.

Syngenta Opens Digital Innovation Lab at University of Illinois Research Park

Syngenta welcomed visitors to its new Digital Innovation Lab at the University of Illinois Research Park today during a grand opening event and forum. Faculty members, students, industry leaders, government officials, Syngenta customers and company leaders toured the lab and exchanged insights regarding the future of digital innovation in agriculture. Learn more here.

The Climate Corporation Acquires HydroBio

HydroBio, a digital ag startup that analyzes weather, soil, and field data, has been acquired by The Climate Corporation. The SaaS-driven outfit uses satellite imagery to assess water usage and crop yields. Watch out for our interview with HydroBio founder Barrett Mooney next week.

Cargill Purchases Vegetable-Based Polyol Manufacturer BioBased Technologies

Rogers, Arkansas-based BioBased Technologies, which manufacturers vegetable-based polyol products under the brand name Agrol, recently sold to Cargill, a major global agriculture products company. Read more about the deal here.

Investor Files Lawsuit to Block Tyson Foods Acquisition of AdvancePierre

A Cincinnati-based investor has filed a lawsuit claiming that Ohio-based AdvancePierre did not adequately disclose material facts regarding the potential merger that investors would need to assess whether to support the deal. The lawsuit, which you can read about here, would block the deal if successful. Arkansas-based Tyson Foods agreed to purchase AdvancePierre for roughly $4.3 billion.

Sanderson Farms Continues Use of Antibiotics, Despite Industry Shift

Sanderson Farms has committed to using antibiotics in poultry production as other major poultry producers like Tyson Foods, Butterball, and Perdue Farms pledge to cut back and/or eliminate usage by certain dates. Read more here.

Whirlpool Acquires Recipe Search Engine Yummly

The world’s biggest home appliance manufacturer just acquired Yummly, a recipe search engine boasting 20 million users and a number of features like shopping list tools and food delivery. The terms of the deal were not disclosed, but Yummly has been valued at $100 million. Read more here.

UCLA-Led Researchers Track Groundwater Loss during Drought in California

A new study by researchers from UCLA and the University of Houston suggests significant groundwater loss in California’s Central Valley during the recent drought and sparks questions of sustainability for the important agricultural area. Researchers tracked net groundwater consumption in the Central Valley from 2002 to 2016, which included two droughts, one from 2007 to 2009 and the more severe drought from 2012 to 2016. During the two drought periods, a total of 16.5 cubic kilometers and 40 cubic kilometers of water were lost, respectively, according to the study published in Geophysical Research Letters.

19th Annual Food Safety Summit Hones in on Tech-Based Solutions

Over 1,700 food safety professionals participated in the 19th Annual Food Safety Summit to learn about food safety strategies and to identify new technologies. As part of the program, speakers discussed how various agencies are working together on food safety initiatives and exciting new developments such as Whole Genome Sequencing which will have a revolutionary impact on the industry. Learn more about the event here.

Agtech Startup WeGrow Wins Big at Cannabis Investor Forum

Mason Levy, CEO of WeGrow, delivered a pitch with a punch at last week’s Arcview Investor Forum in Austin, TX, taking the top prize of $50,000. Mason pitched WeGrow – an app that teaches users to grow cannabis, offering education and personalized recommendations using a conversational bot – in good company with Canopy alumni GrassPass and The Peak Beyond

USDA Creates Trade Undersecretary Post

US Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue announced the creation of an undersecretary for trade and foreign agricultural affairs in the USDA, stating that the position is a recognition of the ever-increasing importance of international trade to American agriculture. As part of a reorganization of the USDA, Perdue also announced the standing up of a newly-named Farm Production and Conservation mission area to have a customer focus and meet USDA constituents in the field. Finally, Perdue announced that the department’s Rural Development agencies would be elevated to report directly to the secretary of agriculture in recognition of the need to help promote rural prosperity. Read more here.

Other News That’s Fit to Chew

  • Anheuser-Busch to invest $2 billion in US brewing operations, reports FoodDIVE.
  • Major chicken processor Wayne Farms has started construction on a research and development facility in Decatur, Alabama, reports Meating Place.
  • There are many funding resources to support organic agriculture that go unused, reports Civil Eats.
  • Consumers are confused about the plethora of food labels popping up at the supermarket these days, reports FoodDIVE.
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