Climate Partners with Winfield, NewLeaf Hires from Monsanto, Farmobile Expands, Apps for Ag Announces Winners, more

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Winfield US and The Climate Corporation Partner to Integrate Tech Tools

Seed and crop protection business Winfield US and The Climate Corporation, Monsanto’s weather data platform, are partnering to implement a cross-navigation exchange between Winfield’s decision ag product, the R7 Tool, and The Climate Corporation’s Climate FieldView platform. The new enhancements are expected to roll out in two phases in time for 2017 crop season planning and to provide retailers with a more streamlined process to help them visualize and use data. “Easy data integration between the Climate FieldView platform and retailer software systems is an important step in enabling farmers and their trusted advisors to collectively make data-driven decisions with confidence,” Mike Stern, chief executive officer of The Climate Corporation, said in a recent statement about the partnership. “We’re thrilled to have an advanced data connectivity partnership between the Climate FieldView platform and the R7 Tool so Winfield US retailers can easily navigate between the two platforms for a more collaborative experience with their Climate FieldView customers.” The Climate Corporation is currently pursuing a variety of partnerships across its platform.

NewLeaf Symbiotics Appoints VP for Research and Discovery

NewLeaf Symbiotics, has appointed Dr. Janne Kerovuo as Vice President for Research and Discovery from Monsanto Co where he was leading Microbial Discovery Strategy since 2013. He previously headed up Microbial and Agricultural Solutions at Agradis, a spin-off from Synthetic Genomics, the San Diego-based company founded by Craig Venter. He earned a Ph.D. in Biochemistry at the University of Helsinki in his native Finland. NewLeaf Symbiotics is a venture-funded agricultural biologicals company engaged in discovery, development, production, and commercialization of products containing beneficial plant bacteria. Its 30+member team is based in BRDG Park at the Donald Danforth Plant Science Center in St Louis, Missouri.

Land O’Lakes Launches New Sustainability Business Division

Major dairy cooperative Land O’Lakes has launched a new business unit, SUSTAIN, which will focus on aligning environmental sustainability efforts across the full Land O’Lakes enterprise.

“Our business portfolio, which includes Winfield US crop inputs, Purina animal feed and Land O’Lakes foods, gives us a ‘farm-to-fork’ view of what sustainability truly means for our industry. We believe that view, partnered with the tools and technology we have developed, will help sustainability practices across the value chain of all our businesses and those of our partners in the industry,” stated Chris Policinski, Land O’Lakes president and CEO in a recent statement about the new business unit. SUSTAIN will focus on helping to ensure sustainable crop production by delivering insights, products, and services; enhancing sustainability within the Dairy Foods and Feed businesses; and partnering with other entities, including government, to improve efficiency and collaboration on conservation and sustainability programs.

Microbiome Animal Health Startup EpiBiome Accepted into Stanford’s StartX Accelerator

EpiBiome, a precision microbiome engineering company that’s working to curb the growing threat of multi-drug-resistant “superbugs” by eliminating the use of shared-class antibiotics from agriculture, has been accepted into Stanford’s StartX Accelerator Program. StartX is an industry- and stage-agnostic nonprofit organization that seeks to identify entrepreneurs in the Stanford University network and help them develop through experiential education, funding and a vast network of both mentors and investors. During the 16-week program—which this year accepted just 8 percent of applicants—startups will receive mentorship from a community of more than 200 entrepreneurs, experts, angels and venture capitalists in a customized educational program designed to match the founders’ needs. Additionally, Stanford will participate in the company’s B financing round, and the company will receive more than $400,000 in value from the program’s partners—all in exchange for zero equity.

Farmobile Expands Its Data Store to Minnesota

Farmobile, a company that helps farmers aggregate their data and make it profitable, has expanded its Data Store to Minnesota. Beginning in this year’s harvest season, any Minnesota farmer who automatically collects their Electronic Field Record (EFR) harvest data via a Farmobile passive uplink connection (PUC) data collection device, and who also provides their EFR planting data, is eligible for the $2/acre guarantee. “Last spring we saw great traction with our Data Store promotion and we’re keeping that momentum rolling into the fall,” said Jason Tatge, CEO and founder of Farmobile, in a recent statement about the expansion. “As part of this announcement, we are removing the $1 million cap that was in place last spring. Any Minnesota farmer who provides complete EFR records will be eligible to claim this new revenue opportunity.” Alongside the Data Store news, Farmobile also announced a strategic partnership with Grower Information Services Cooperative (GiSC). With membership spanning 38 states, GiSC members can benefit from Farmobile’s PUC, which is a small plug-and-play device that rides in the cab and automatically collects and stores machine and agronomy data in one place.

Apps for Ag Winners Announced at California State Fair

The Apps for Ag hackathon, which took place at the recent California State Fair, has announced the winners: a gardening and produce-sharing app called GivingGarden. The startup will take home $7,500 in cash as well as a spot with the AgStart Incubator based in Woodland, CA. Tapping advice from the UC Master Gardener Program, the app offers gardening advice to hobby and at-home gardeners who want to share their harvest. The second place winner was Sense and Protect, a task-management platform that taps into climate sensors to help farmers protect their health and improve their productivity. Third place was ACP STAR System, a temporal and geo database platform that tracks Asian citrus psyllid as well as a number of other invasive pests. All three teams will receive complimentary startup incorporation services from Royse Law.

US DOJ Approves InBev-SABMiller Merger

The US Department of Justice has authorized the merger between Anheuser-Busch InBev and SABMiller, creating the largest beer entity in the world. The merger, valued at over $100 billion, now gives the merged entity control of nearly one-third of the global brew market. The DOJ included some strings with its approval that prohibit the entity from concentrating ownership within the domestic beer market. Also, AB InBev will need to divest SABMiller’s US business holdings, including its joint ownership of MillerCoors, the right to manufacture and market SABMiller brands in the US, and the global rights to Miller products. It is prohibited from acquiring brewers or beer distributors without obtaining prior regulatory approval to check for fair competition, and it must refrain from taking any action that would hamper independent seller’s power and motive to offer competing brands.

Monsanto Rejects Bayer Ag’s $55bn Takeover Bid

German chemical company Bayer is tending to some wounds this week as Monsanto rejected its recent $55 billion takeover bid as “financially inadequate.” Despite the denial, Monsanto said it is open to continued talks with Bayer, and even other parties, about making a deal. In a recent statement, Bayer described the rejection as a disappointment, describing its all-cash offer a “compelling opportunity” that would bring “immediate and certain value for Monsanto shareholders amid recent weak business performance.” Bayer intends to continue negotiating with Monsanto, although this recent rejection marks the second time that Monsanto has shot down Bayer.

Other News That’s Fit to Chew:

  • CEO of Hampton Creek, which produces a line of plant protein-based condiments, Josh Tetrick purchased a full-page ad in last weekend’s Sunday Times to pen a letter to presidential hopeful Donald Trump. Read his letter here.
  • US Secretary of Ag Tom Vilsack has proclaimed August 7-13 “National Farmers Market Week.” During this period, USDA officials will celebrate at farmer’s market locations across the country.
  • Consumer demand for cage-free eggs continues to rise, but there may hidden costs that impact the supply chain, on FoodDIVE.
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