Ag Briefs

‘Adding Value at the Speed of Innovation’ Forum is from April 11, 12 in suburban Plymouth

Adding to the outstanding networking opportunities and the chance to work together toward a common goal of encouraging new ag growth and innovation in the Upper Midwest, the second AURI New Uses Ag Innovation Forum will present a great offering of seminars and speakers. The event will be April 11 and 12, at the Minneapolis West Crowne Plaza Hotel in suburban Plymouth.

A partial listing of seminar topics and confirmed panelists: “Biobased Innovations” Dr. Marc Hillmyer, director, Center for Sustainable Polymers, University of Minnesota; Dr. Chad Ulven; C2Renew and North Dakota State University; “Innovations in Coproducts,” Ben Boo and Eric Sannerud; founders, Mighty Axe Hops, Brian Asmus and Adam Asmus; founders, Asmus Egg Farms; “Entrepreneurial Innovation,” Adam Wagner; co-founder, Vertical Malt, Dr. Goutham Vemuri, chief technologist, Sasya, LLC, Dave Goebel; enVerde, LLC, Dave Roeser, Garden Fresh/MN Pharm; “At the Nexus of Food and Health,” Dr. Liz Klodas; chief medical officer & founder, Step One Foods, Polly Olson, VP Business Development, Agropur, Inc. John Garry, CEO, Dev. Corp. of Austin, Austin Innovation Story.

Themed “Adding Value at the Speed of Innovation,” AURI executive director Shannon Schlecht anticipates provoking, informative presentations and a great opportunity to learn and exchange ideas, all with a focus on using science and technology to foster long-term economic impact for Minnesota by helping businesses develop new, value-added uses for agricultural products in four focus areas: biobased products, renewable energy, coproducts and food.

“Last year’s first New Uses Forum was a resounding success that drew more than 150 participants,” he said. “We’re building on that base to create an even better event this year. Participants are sure to leave with a greater awareness of resources and opportunities available, as well as be energized to move forward with new and innovative utilization ideas.”

The forum will also highlight a handful of Minnesota’s agricultural entrepreneurs with an opportunity for some of the state’s most innovative new-uses and value-added entrepreneurs to share their experiences.

Admission to the New Uses Forum is $75, with discounts available for students and government representatives. Participants must register at auri.org.

Ag Department kills animal welfare rule for organic meat

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) — New rules, decades in the making, that would have required organic meat and egg producers to abide by stricter animal welfare standards were withdrawn by the federal government on Monday, frustrating organic farmers and animal welfare groups but leaving some traditional egg and livestock farm groups rejoicing.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture said the Organic Livestock and Poultry Practices rule exceeds the department’s statutory authority.

“The organic industry’s continued growth domestically and globally shows that consumers trust the current approach that balances consumer expectations and the needs of organic producers and handlers,” said USDA Marketing and Regulatory Program Undersecretary Greg Ibach.

The rule was published by former President Barack Obama’s Agriculture Department two days before he left office in January 2017. The administration of Donald Trump has repeatedly delayed implementing the rule and had signaled that it might never move forward with it.

“It’s not a surprise. We had some admission by the USDA that the industry had been camping out in their office bending their arms and their ears. It’s disappointing. The power of Washington lobbyists wins again,” said Francis Thicke, who runs an organic dairy and grows crops in southeastern Iowa near Fairfield.

The regulation was designed to ensure that organically grown livestock had enough space to lie down, turn around, stand up and fully stretch. It also prohibited removal of chicken beaks and cutting cattle tails and required improved living conditions including fresh air, proper ventilation and direct sunlight.

Dropping the rule “reverses the nearly two decades of collaboration and feedback from farmers and consumers,” said Matt Bershadker, CEO of the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals. “Millions of animals will continue to suffer each year because of the USDA’s abdication of its duty to enforce meaningful organic animal welfare standards.”

Kansas Republican Sen. Pat Roberts in a statement echoed some in the livestock industry who said the rule would increase the paperwork burden and drive up the cost of production for farmers and ranchers.

“America’s organic livestock and poultry producers can now breathe easy that they can maintain the health of their flocks and herds the best way they see fit, and they will not be driven out of business by another government regulation, said Roberts, chairman of the Senate Agriculture Committee.


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