Granular Partners with American Farm Bureau Insurance Services
American Farm Bureau Insurance Services has partnered with Granular, the farm management software startup, to streamline the crop insurance data collection and reporting processes for agents and their customers. With the alliance, AFBIS agents will be able to get the production reports for their customers via Granular with just a few clicks, hopefully creating fewer headaches it for all parties involved. Both companies have committed to developing automatic crop insurance reporting capabilities by the end of 2016, in advance of spring 2017 acreage and production reporting deadlines. Based in San Francisco, California, and Champaign, Illinois, Granular’s farm management software helps farmers run more profitable businesses by enabling them to manage their operations and analyze their financials for each of their fields in real time. Granular also enables farmers to create reports for third parties like landowners and banks.
Plant Response Biotech Wins Agricultural/Green Biotech Category at EuropaBio Awards
Plant Response Biotech, a Spanish ag biotech company, won top rank in its category at the 7th edition of the EuropaBio Awards. The company develops and commercializes biological crop protection products. This approach enables a more sustainable crop production with minimum environmental impact by reducing chemical use, as well as other agricultural inputs which create residues. It’s the first agricultural biotech company to receive an award for this competition.
Proagrica Licenses Iteris Climatology and Soil Data for Global Agriculture Analytics Platform
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Iteris, the transportation and agriculture information company, has signed a subscription-based licensing deal with Proagrica, a digital media and data platform for agribusinesses. Proagrica will integrate Iteris’ ClearAg weather, climatology, and soil data into its data and analytics platform for growers and agribusinesses worldwide. The Proagrica analytics platform will also enable the automated integration of farm-collected data from farming equipment, in-field sensors, crop input transactions, including seeds, crop care, and fertilizers, as well as irrigation.
Monsanto Announces $1.6m Investment to Help Ag Quantify Greenhouse Gas Reductions
The USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service recently awarded the National Corn Growers Association and its Soil Health Partnership a $1 million Conservation Innovation Grant (CIG) to help farmers better understand and adopt farming practices that help reduce climate change impacts. Monsanto announced that it also intends to make an additional investment of $1.6 million in this collaborative effort to help provide expertise, tools, and needed resources to further develop a system that will help verify and quantify greenhouse gas reductions from carbon-smart farming practices. USDA’s CIG program fosters innovation in conservation tools and strategies to improve things like on-farm energy and fertilizer use as well as market-based strategies to improve water quality or mitigate climate change.
Plant-Based Foods Trade Group Eyes Next Farm Bill
A new trade group called the Plant Based Foods Association, which is designed to advocate the interests of plant-based food companies, approached lawmakers in DC this week to raise awareness about what it describes as a growing need for government support of plant-based food producers. Members of the group included former Center for Food Safety lobbyist Elizabeth Kucinich, Tofurky CEO Jaime Athos, and the group’s founder, Michele Simon. They point out that animal agriculture receives substantial government support via subsidized crops for animal feed, and encourage lawmakers to include this growing segment of food products in their policy planning. This comes in the same week that a coalition of investors worth $1.25tn joined forces to put pressure on major global food companies to increase the amount of plant-based protein products in their supply chains. Find out more about the coalition here.
China Lifts Ban on US Beef Imports After 13 Years
US beef is back on the menu now that China has lifted a 13-year ban on beef imports, which is good news for livestock producers. With a skyrocketing demand for meat, Chinese diners will soon be able to chomp down on American beef, but not without a few restrictions. The original ban stemmed from the 1990s outbreak of bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE)—otherwise known as mad cow disease. Beef must be 29 months or younger at the time of slaughter to reach Chinese dinner plates, and US exporters will need to adhere to China’s quarantine and traceability laws. So far, the Chinese government has not set a specific date for when imports may begin.
Michigan Senator Debbie Stabenow Introduces Urban Farming Bill
US Senator Debbie Stabenow, Ranking Member of the Senate Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition and Forestry, this week announced the most comprehensive urban agriculture bill to be introduced in Congress. The Urban Agriculture Act of 2016 would help create new economic opportunities, giving Michigan families greater access to healthy food and creating a healthier environment in cities and towns across our state. The legislation addresses the unique needs of urban farmers by investing new resources and increasing flexibility through existing programs administered by the US Department of Agriculture (USDA). Senator Stabenow announced her legislation during a press conference at D-Town Farm in Detroit with Mayor Mike Duggan and Michigan urban agriculture leaders.
FDA Begins Formal Review Process of “Healthy” Food Label
The FDA officially announced this week that it is revising its definition of the term “healthy” as used in food labeling, part of an ongoing effort to revise nutrition labels. The federal agency is calling for public comment on how it should define the term and what consumers ought to understand about its usage. The term is used profusely in food labeling these days, which came to the FDA’s attention in 2015 when it sent a warning letter to KIND snack bar manufacturer stating that the company had misused the term according to the existing FDA definition. The snack bar maker asked the FDA to reconsider, describing the current standard as out of date due to its requirement that foods bearing the moniker be low-fat. This means an almond-based protein bar can’t be labeled healthy, but a fat-free chocolate chip cookie could proudly bear the label.
USDA Backs Monthly Egg Report to Track Industry’s Major Changes
To keep better tabs on the major paradigm shift hatching in the egg industry, the USDA has announced that it will produce a monthly report providing information about the supply and price of cage-free eggs. According to the first edition, large cage-free white eggs are selling for an average of $2.84 per dozen compared to $1.11 for conventionally-produced eggs. There are roughly 17 million non-organic cage-free hens in the US and 3.5 million organic egg layers.
Other News That’s Fit to Chew
- Proposed Fruit Labeling Accuracy Act of 2016 would prohibit added sugars labeling for naturally tart fruits, as the FDA continues its overhaul of the Nutrition Facts Panel Labeling, on FoodDIVE.
- Syngenta opened its new outfit called The Seedcare Institute in Michigan, on Farm Industry News.
- The House passed HR 2060, a bill aimed at protecting the US food system from Agroterrorism, on Congress.gov.
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