Secretary of AgTom Vilsack Endorses Mandatory GMO Labeling
Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack announced his support for mandatory GMO labeling this week during the Commodity Classic. In support of his position, the Secretary noted a desire to prevent a patchwork of inconsistent state regulations and thwart against the consumer confusion that could result under a voluntary labeling scheme. In discussing a solution, Vilsack rattled off some ideas like a toll-free hotline that consumers can call, a smart label, or another industry-developed idea.
True Made Foods Wins Rabobank’s FoodBytes! Award
True Made Foods has won the FoodBytes! Brooklyn People’s Choice Award, the event run by Rabobank. True Made Foods is a startup company that uses fresh vegetables to naturally sweeten food products (such as True Ketchup, True BBQ Sauce, and Veracha Hot Sauce) while also drastically cutting back on added sugar, providing consumers with a tasty, healthy alternative. The FoodBytes! Brooklyn audience of more than 250 individuals voted decided the People’s Choice Award via SMS voting. As the FoodBytes! Brooklyn People’s Choice Award winner, True Made Foods will attend Rabobank’s invitation-only Client Appreciation Events this December in New York City, featuring C-suite representation from over 300 of North America’s leading food, beverage and agribusiness companies.
Irrigation Tech Company HydroBio Awarded Patent
Software-as-a-Service company HydroBio has been awarded a patent for its targeted irrigation management system. This patent includes a method for estimating crop water use from satellite imagery and weather data. HydroBio’s technology turns each plant into a moisture probe enabling optimal irrigation. The patent includes a scalable approach for using advanced remote sensing technology to estimate crop water needs and identify crop health problems. With this system, farmers can access actionable data throughout the growing season, helping to facilitate efficient water usage practices. HydroBio went to market in 2013 with 35,000 acres of revenue-producing subscriptions in the Texas Panhandle and now touts 200,000 subscribed acres.
Plant-Based Food Industry Launches Lobbying Group
The first trade group to exclusively represent the plant-based food sector has opened shop in Washington, D.C. Backed by 23 food companies, the Plant-Based Food Association will provide lobbying support to what it describes as a $2.5 billion industry. The association plans to educate retailers, food service professionals, and consumers about the myriad benefits of plant-based eating. In recent years, meat substitutes have been one of the biggest drivers for the plant-based food sector. Some studies suggest that these products alone have climbed 14.4 percent in sales volume growth during the last two years.
Cargill Reduces Antibiotic Use in Beef Cattle Production
Major global agricultural company Cargill is eliminating 20 percent of shared-class antibiotics from four of its feedlots located in Texas, Kansas, and Colorado encompassing some 1.2 million cattle. Shared-class antibiotics encompass those deemed important for human medicine and farm animals. The company also indicated that it does not use any antibiotics for growth promotion that are medically important for human health in cattle covered by the new program. “Our decision to eliminate 20 percent of the antibiotics used in our beef cattle, which are also used for human health, took into consideration customer and consumer desires to help ensure the long-term medical effectiveness of antibiotics for both people and animals,” stated John Keating, president of Cargill’s Wichita-based beef business, in a press release.
General Mills to Double Organic Acreage to Meet Demand
Major US food producer General Mills is doubling the number of organic acres included in its ingredient sourcing program, with a goal of hitting 250,000 acres by 2019. The increased acreage is directly linked to the company’s goals to grow net sales from its natural and organic products. In February at the Consumer Analysts Group of New York conference, Jeff Harmening, General Mills executive vice president and chief operating officer for U.S. Retail, said the company expects to reach $1 billion in net sales from natural and organic products by 2019, a full year ahead of its previous target. According to General Mills, the company is already among the top five organic ingredient purchasers.
USDA to Award $20m in Land Conservation Grants
The US Department of Agriculture is awarding $20 million in competitive grants through the Conservation Innovation Grants (CIG) program. This program aims to spark the development and adoption of cutting-edge conservation technologies and approaches for farmers, ranchers, and landowners. Projects may include on-farm pilot projects and field demonstrations, and they are funded to accelerate the transfer and adoption of promising technologies to landowners in order to address critical natural resource concerns. The National Resources Conservation Service administers the CIG program as part of the Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP). Applications for CIG projects are due by May 10, 2016. More information is available on the CIG website.
Other News That’s Fit to Chew:
- Rethink Food Waste Through Economics and Data (ReFED) released its Roadmap to Reduce U.S. Food Waste outlining 27 ways to reduce food waste in the U.S. The report claims that the combined total of these strategies could recapture $100 billion in economic benefits, create 15,000 jobs, and save 13 million tons of food from ending up as trash each year.
- Modern Farmer sits down with food activist Michael Pollan to chat organics, gluten, psychedelics, and why he hates the term ‘foodie.’
- Agriculture.com explores whether satellite imagery is better than drone imagery.