Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Reduce Farm Liability: Set Up a New Company for Your Custom Farming Operation

Farm Journal's Sara Schafer recently consulted me for an article she wrote on how to "Reduce Liability" for the farm. Her article discusses the need to create new legal companies to handle certain farm operations that fall outside of normal farm-work, such as custom farming or trucking.  Her article appeared in Top Producer and AgWeb, Farm Journal's online publication:
Custom farm work is a great way to diversify a business. It can provide supplemental income but can also add extra risk and exposure to your primary farm.

Monday, March 24, 2014

Indiana Ag Leadership Program Wrap Up

The previous five posts chronicled my journey with the Indiana Agricultural Leadership program to The Netherlands, Belgium, and Liberia. From an agricultural standpoint, the contrast between northern Europe and West Africa could not be more extreme.  Northern Europe has highly developed agricultural systems; West Africa's agriculture is rudimentary by comparison. Now that the trip is a few weeks behind me, I thought it worthwhile to provide some big picture deductions after observing these two different places in our world.

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

The Challenges Facing Liberian Agriculture

The last leg of our Indiana Ag Leadership class was to Liberia, West Africa. What we saw was dramatically different than the highly structured and sophisticated agricultural systems of Northern Europe.  Liberian agriculture struggles in every area where EU agriculture thrives.  The root causes are many.  After a week traveling across the country, I am no expert in Liberian agriculture, but I hope these observations are enlightening to those who may never get to travel to Liberia or similar places.  My analysis below means no disrespect to the Liberian people, many of whom work hard each day just to obtain food and water.  The people I met were very friendly and welcomed US visitors with open arms.

Monday, March 17, 2014

The European Union's Common Agricultural Policy

Our Indiana Ag Leadership trip to northern Europe included a visit to the European Commission in Brussels, Belgium. The European Commission is the executive branch of the European Union (EU). One of the main topics of discussion was the Common Agricultural Policy, or "CAP," the EU's version of the US Farm Bill.  The CAP has been an essential part of EU policy for decades and, like the Farm Bill, periodically undergoes reform.  The post explains some of the differences and similarities between the CAP and most recent Farm Bill.

Saturday, March 15, 2014

The European Union's Reluctance to Embrace GMOs

One of the questions that was frequently asked by our Indiana Ag Leadership class in Europe was why the European Union (EU) has not embraced genetically modified organisms (GMOs) like farmers in the US.  The answers were very interesting.

A fact I did not know prior to our recent trip is that many EU countries do allow importation of GMO corn and soybeans from the US.  Such products are used as animal feed, even though the same products could not be sold on the shelves for direct human consumption (unless the proper labeling was attached). Thus, milk on the grocery store shelves in EU member states may have come from cows fed GMO corn.

Thursday, March 13, 2014

Three Agricultural Lessons from The Netherlands

The Netherlands is a country roughly the size of New Jersey yet is the second largest agricultural exporter in the world behind only the USA. That statistic is made even more remarkable when one considers that The Netherlands has over 17 million people and much of the country is below sea level. Our Indiana Agricultural Leadership class recently toured parts of The Netherlands to examine how the country maintains such productivity.  Here are my top three observations: