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Agriculture Industry Brief: AgFunder Awards, Trump’s USDA Pick, Climate Ventures 2.0 & Yield Lab Open, more

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And the Winners of the AgFunder Innovation Awards are..!

We were excited to announce the winners of the 2016 AgFunder Innovation Awards, nominated by you, our readers. We awarded 20 companies and three accelerators across five categories including the Top 5 Most Innovative Pre-Series A and Series A and Beyond Startups in the US and Elsewhere, as well as the Top 3 Accelerators globally. Congratulations to the winners and thank you to everyone who voted. Check out the winners here.

Trump Names Former Georgia Governor Sonny Perdue as Secretary of Agriculture

Late Wednesday night, President Trump nominated former Georgia Governor Sonny Perdue to head the US Department of Agriculture. Pro-agriculture groups applauded the selection, dubbing him an “outstanding choice.” Since 2014, Perdue, who has no relation to the Perdue poultry family, served on the board of directors for the National Grain and Feed Association. He also owns an agricultural trade company called Perdue Partners focusing on US exports. Read more here.

Former US Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack Joins US Dairy Export Council

After stepping down from the USDA helm one week early, Tom Vilsack has taken a job leading the US Dairy Export Council, the nonprofit group responsible for promoting US dairy products abroad. Read more here.

GoodCompany Ventures Opens Applications for Climate Ventures 2.0

Climate Ventures 2.0, a global accelerator focused on agriculture and water systems resilience, is accepting applications for its three-month accelerator program in Philadelphia. After completing the first phase of its CV2 project with the publication of the Water and Ag Innovation Assessment developed with Rockefeller 100 Resilient Cities and Wharton, GoodCompany Ventures is kicking off Phase II. This phase includes a global sourcing campaign to identify 10 emerging innovations that best respond to the needs identified in the research, in areas such as water quality monitoring, agriculture runoff, and stormwater management. The program will run from April to July program, and participating companies could be awarded $250k in grant funding.  Read more and apply here.

Yield Lab Ireland Now Accepting 2017 Applications

Yield Lab Ireland is currently accepting applications for its next cohort. The program will select four-to-six startups from around the globe to attend the six-month program. Attendees will be required to meet in Galway two days each month. Yield Lab will invest $106,750 in each company as well as offer mentorship and ties to ag industry experts. Read more and apply here.

Paine & Partners Acquires Majority Ownership of EuroDrip

Paine & Partners, a global private equity investment firm focused on investing in food and agribusiness, has completed the acquisition of a majority stake in Eurodrip, a global manufacturer and supplier of drip irrigation solutions. Through various acquisitions and purchases, Paine & Partners now holds 74.9% of the company’s outstanding shares. Established in 1979, EuroDrip manufactures and supplies integrated drip irrigation solutions for agricultural and landscaping applications. Its products include integrated drip line solutions, flat and round drippers, blank tubes and other irrigation products. Eurodrip has a market presence in over 70 countries including Turkey, United States, Greece, Egypt, Peru, Jordan, and Mexico.

Bühler Group and Protix Launch Insect Protein Joint Venture

As sustainable protein alternatives continue to gain market traction, Swiss food processing technology company Bühler Group and Dutch insect producers Protix have formed a joint venture dubbed Bühler Insect Technology Solutions. The partnership will work to create industrial-level insect production and processing of bugs to use as animal feed and for human consumption. Read more here.

Mastercard Launches East Africa AgTech Platform 2KUZE

Mastercard has launched a new pilot program in East Africa called 2KUZE. It will allow smallholder farmers in Tanzania, Uganda, and Kenya to coordinate sales, payments, and distributions digitally. 2KUZE, which means “let’s grow together” in Swahili, received support from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and was created at Mastercard’s Nairobi Labs for Financial Inclusion. Read more here.

USDA Releases Heightened Animal Welfare Standards for Organic Production

The USDA released a long-awaited set of heightened standards for animal welfare in organics. The new rules will require chickens raised for organic meat or eggs to have a certain minimum amount of space. Pigs, cattle, and poultry will also be required to have access to the outdoors every day for feeding. To implement the changes necessary to facilitate these new rules, the USDA estimates that organic farmers will need to spend up to $31 million. The laws take effect March 2018. Read more here.

Other News That’s Fit to Chew

  • A new program will soon allow low-income families to purchase food online using food stamps, reports The Atlantic.
  • Pipeline H2O, a new water technology commercialization program managed by The Hamilton Mill, announced its first class of companies, on Yahoo Finance.
  • Deliveroo, a food delivery startup, wants to hire over 300 UK tech workers when it opens its new global headquarters in London, on Tech City News.
  • Could emojis be the key to helping consumers understand food safety? On Seattle Weekly.
  • McCormick Co. was named as the No. 1 company for Corporate Knights’ 2017 Global 100 Most Sustainable Corporations Index, on Food DIVE.
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