Category: Future Of Farming

“Organic vs. Conventional” Farming… The Debate Continues

Fear-based messaging has become extremely frequent and easy in our era of social networking. It seems like not a day goes by that I am not hearing comments or being bombarded with e-mails about reasons to be “pro-organic” or “pro-conventional” farming. From my perspective it’s crazy how much time, money and lobbying is now being spent on trying to convince and or squash the other. My question is why can’t both organic and conventional farming happily co-exist in their respective domains. I was reading an interesting study the other day by plant pathologist Dr. Steve Savage. The report compared conventional farms to data from the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Organic Survey from 2014, which reports various measures of productivity from most of the certified organic farms in the nation. Dr. Savage compared the data “crop-by-crop” and “state-by-state”. His findings are extremely revealing. There was a definite “yield gap” — poorer performance of organic farms — in 68 out of 59 crop varieties. And many of those gaps, or shortfalls, were fairly significant: strawberries -61% less than conventional; fresh tomatoes -61% less; tangerines -58% less; carrots -49% less; cotton -45% less; rice -39% less; peanuts -37% less. Savage noted that in order to have raised all U.S. crops as organic in 2014 would have required farming of an extra +109 million more acres of land. That is an area equivalent to all the parkland and wildland areas in the lower 48 states, or 1.8 times as much as all the urban land in the nation. On top of this, in a study published in Hydrology and Earth System Sciences found that the potential for groundwater contamination can be dramatically reduced if fertilizers are distributed through the irrigation system according to plant demand during the growing season. But organic farming depends on compost, the release of which is not matched with plant demand. The study also cited that intensive organic agriculture relying on solid organic matter, such as composted manure that is implemented in the soil prior to planting as the sole fertilizer, could result in significant down-leaching of nitrate” into our groundwater supply. I understand the organic movement gets a lot of good PR as a “green” activity, but on a large scale it also generates a significant “carbon footprint” and large amount of greenhouse gasses. Another prevalent “green myth” about organic agriculture is that it does not employ pesticides, when in fact many organic producers use insecticides and fungicides to prevent predation of its crops. More than 20 chemicals – mostly containing copper and sulfur are commonly used in the growing and processing of organic crops. I’m not trying to say that conventional is better than organic or that one is better than the other, but I am trying to say there’s a lot of lies and propaganda being deployed amongst our nations youth and urban core, that is tough to digest. I honestly believe there is a place for both practices to co-exist and the money being spent to topple or dispute the other could be used in much better practice. In fact I suspect there’s a lot we could all learn from one another if we would simply put down the gloves and shares our ideas. I hope the powers that be will eventually stop trying to manipulate the minds of the consumer and recognize that both farming practices are needed and warranted for sustainability. Constantly taking shots at one another is only creating more of longer-term social and ethical issue for the entire ag industry. Bottom-line, I believe there is a huge space for “organic” and that it’s percentage of market share will continue to grow, but I see no need in using scorched earth tactics or “fake news” and or false propaganda to grow. Toxic advertising and media is just as damaging as bad agronomic practices… No one wins! (Source: Forbes; National Review; Texas Ag Talk)

This is just a small excerpt of the full Van Trump Report that I send out every day. To find out what you’re missing, sign up for a FREE 30-day trial.

A Special Event Worth Attending… “Davos on the Delta”

I’m excited to tell you about an event my family and I will be attending in a few weeks down in Memphis. It’s being called “Davos on the Delta” and is hosted by a good friend of mine Carter Williams, CEO of iSelect. This will be the first year for the conference, but we are considering it a sister-event to our annual show in Kansas City on December 6th. The reason I’m so excited is because I will be getting a firsthand look and hearing updates from some of the biggest and most important start-ups in the ag space. I truly believe the agricultural ‘value chain’ is about to be reshaped in a manner like we’ve never seen in the past. Technology and transparency are going to forever change our industry. To make certain we all understand the massive shifts and changes that are upon our doorstep, we decided to bring together a select group of agricultural leaders in one setting to openly discuss the future. What’s awesome is the fact the worlds largest BBQ contest is going on at the same time, “Memphis in May,” and my good friend Andy Daniels, who has a huge tent at the event and has been in the contest for 11-years, is welcoming all of us to attend that evening for BBQ and networking with some of the biggest names in the business. If you’ve never been to the BBQ event, the setting is absolutely amazing, as the contest is held right along the banks of the Mighty Mississippi. Sunset on the Mississippi with great friends, great food, great drinks and great conversation is extremely tough to beat! My wife and I have been attending the BBQ event for several years and helping Andy raise money for St. Judes Childrens Hospital. A group that helped save his daughters life and is very dear to our hearts. This event is truly a win-win for all involved. If you believe you are an agricultural innovator, leading ag executive, forward thinking producer, agricultural investor, ag lending institution or commercial ag related entity, you and or part of your staff need to attend this event. I’ve listed below some the highlights and who will be presenting at this special two-day event, which is being held at the historic Peabody Hotel May 17th-18th. Because of the venue seats are extremely limited. If you are interested in attending you can use my promo code “kvt17” to save -$250 off the conference price. I look forward to seeing many familiar faces and introducing my friends. Click HERE to see additional details…

Presenters You Do Not Want To Miss!

Gaylon Lawrence, CEO, The Lawrence Group – For those who don’t know, the Lawrence Group operates an extensive farming enterprise, some say he’s the largest owner of farmland in the country totaling over 180,000 acres of cultivated ground. He is also listed by Forbes as one of our nations wealthiest. From what I understand Mr. Lawrence and Richard Hussey, Director and Head of Mid-South Agriculture for the Lawrence Group, will be discussing the opportunities and challenges driving technical innovation in agriculture.

Kevin Van Trump, CEO, Farm Direction – I will personally be presenting following Mr. Lawrence and Mr. Hussey. This is certainly a tough act to follow but I will do my best, discussing the future of agriculture and some of the challenges and opportunities producers are going to face as the industry evolves.

Barry Knight, Senior Vice President of Commercial Operations, Indigo Ag –“Fighting Drought Through Microbe Engineering” – Farmers looking to boost yields may find Mr. Knights presentation extremely interesting and a new tool to add to their arsenal, as seed-coating manufacturer, Indigo Ag, has demonstrated that the right “microbes” can dramatically improve and enhance yields.

Chris Harbourt, CEO, Agrible – Consumers are behind emerging trends in nutrient content, environmental sustainability and food safety, causing shifts in the supply chain. Chris is going to tell us how we can better position our farms and business to take advantage of these trends? Agrible connects consumer brands directly to farmers providing valuable, actionable insights and improving profitability throughout the supply chain.

Roger Beachy,Chief Science Officer, Kultevat – Solutions are being sought to use sustainable, plant based alternatives for things like rubber, industrial dyes and high value hydrocarbons. Kultevat extracts high-value rubber from Russian Dandelions that can be grown in 42 states. Beachy will tell us where the industry is headed and what other industrialized crops are coming down the pipe.

John Killmer, CEO, Apse, Inc – “Killing Pest s Without Pesticide” – APSE has developed technology to enable cost-efficient production of RNA for broad acre topical RNAi and benign, sustainable RNAi products for urban-structural pest control.

Todd Mockler, Ph.D., Donald Danforth Plant Science Center, CTO Benson Hill Biosystems – Genome editing is an emerging technology that is about to revolutionize our industry. Mr. Mockler will explain how genes that cause unwanted traits can be knocked out, genes for preferred traits from the same species can be knocked in, and new products will be getting to market faster and faster.

Below Are Some Topics That Will Be Discussed

Supply Chain – How are changes in inputs, consumer demand, and producer profitability going to change the supply chain?

Farming For Profits – Is your farm considering all of its options? How others are starting to make money growing industrialized crops?

Seed – Do we fully understand were the seed industry is headed?

Inputs – Will the latest changes in probiotics and biologicals revolutionize the input markets to improve sustainability and reduce the cost of organic?

Gene Editing – How will the latest in gene editing reshape crops, supply chain, and ag economics and how will it ultimately shape public perception?

Distribution – Do you fully understand the shifts in distribution models?

Consumer vs. Producer – Who is driving this conversation and the shift we are about to experience, the producers or the consumers?

Special Bonus Event… “Farm Tour in Wilson, Arkansas” – If you can make it in town by Tuesday at noon you can jump on a bus with the rest of us and go out and visit Wilson, Arkansas and see firsthand what Gaylon Lawrence and his team are using in regards to technology and private investment to transform and reinvigorate one of the largest farming operations in the area. The bus departs the Peabody at 12:30pm and returns at 4:30pm. Good stuff!

This is just a small excerpt of the full Van Trump Report that I send out every day. To find out what you’re missing, sign up for a FREE 30-day trial.

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