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Ag Industry Brief: USDA Makes Digital Moves, Argentina Supports AgriFood Startups, Wheatsheaf Comes to America, more

February 2, 2018

Wheatsheaf Group Expands into North America

Wheatsheaf Group, the food and agriculture investment arm of the international property group Grosvenor Estate, has arrived in the heartland. The firm, whose portfolio includes investments in agrifood tech, announced plans to open operations in Minneapolis, Minnesota. Wheatsheaf has invested in North American companies like Aerofarms, Enterra, and Shared-X, among others. Read more.

GLOCAL Chosen by Argentinian Government to Co-Invest in Agrifood Startups

With an eye towards nurturing the local entrepreneurial spirit, the Argentine government recently held a competition for accelerators. GLOCAL, which works with startups focused in the agrifood tech space, was among the winners who will allocate a portion of the $30 million in dedicated public funds. Glocal is currently accepting applications on a rolling basis. Read more.

USDA Goes Digital with Commodity Market Data and

Farmers will soon be able to access USDA data about commodity market prices online, thanks to a new platform from the USDA Agricultural Marketing Service. Market Analysis and Reporting Services (MARS) is designed to make the work of on-site market reporters more accessible and current. Agriculture secretary Sonny Perdue also unveiled a new website for farmers and producers that brings industry business online. is intended to bring interactions with the Farm Service Agency, Natural Resources Conservation Service and Risk Management Agency under one, digital roof.  Read more.

USDA Discontinues Nutrition App Supertracker

The USDA announced plans to discontinue Supertracker, the nutrition and fitness tracking app it launched in 2011 that figures in many health and wellness programs in public schools. Citing multiple similar tools available in the private sector, the USDA no longer sees the need for maintaining its own technology. Read more.

Seafood Database Targets Slave Labor in the Industry

The Monterey Bay Aquarium’s Seafood Watch program hopes to help corporate buyers evaluate labor abuses from slavery to human trafficking in the supply chain through a new database, Seafood Slavery Risk Tool. The release of the database follows a report from the Human Rights Watch outlining the labor abuses entrenched in Thailand’s fishing industry. Read more.

California Makes Headway on Legalizing Sale of Homemade Meals

To the disappointment of many home cooks with a mind for business, it’s often illegal to use a home kitchen to produce food for the commercial market – a fact one California woman learned the hard way last year. But that may soon change in the golden state thanks to a law that would legalize the small-scale sale of homemade food. Read more.

Niman Ranch Raises Almost $100,000 to Aid Young Farmers

Niman Ranch announced this week that it raised nearly $100,000 to support the National Young Farmers Coalition (NYFC). It began with a viral social media campaign – Niman Ranch promised to donate $1 for each farm photo shared on social media. The funds will support young and beginning farmers in the NYFC network, many of whom, like Niman Ranch, prioritize sustainability and conservation. Read more.

Other News That’s Fit to Chew

  • Retail establishments and consumer packaged goods companies lack female leadership, reports Food Dive.
  • The name doesn’t exactly sell itself, but Goldman Sachs has invested in pea milk company Ripple Foods, according to Bloomberg.
  • NPR’s The Salt recounts how a former dairy milk processing plant is making the transition to milky beverages derived from almond, cashew, oat, and other foodstuffs more often found in the bulk bins than the dairy aisle.
  • The California Sunday Magazine offers a gigantic 20,000-word profile of Stewart Resnick, president of tree crop behemoth The Wonderful Company and what they call, “the biggest farmer in the United States.”
  • Politico reports on a pervasive culture of sexual harassment at the Humane Society of the US with cultured meat advocate Paul Shapiro among the accused.
  • In Japan, slipping on banana peels may soon become a thing of the past – National Geographic covers the story of the first banana with an edible peel.

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