Ag Notebook: Colorado State Fair back in black, FFA membership on the rise |

Ag Notebook: Colorado State Fair back in black, FFA membership on the rise

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Colorado State Fair in the black for 2nd year

It wasn’t too long ago that the Colorado State Fair was losing between $300,000 to $500,000 a year, so when Fair officials were told Wednesday that they were in the black for the second consecutive year, they were elated.

The Fair turned a cash profit before depreciation of $171,375 for fiscal year 2013, which doesn’t include the 2013 expo.

The profit was discussed recently over a conference call meeting.

“It’s good news for the Fair. We are pretty proud of the progress we have made, but we still have a long way to go,” said Fair General Manager Chris Wiseman.

“We would like to have more of a cushion every year. We are actually doing pretty good the last two years as far as controlling our expenses and improving our revenues.”

Last fiscal year, the Fair had a profit of $117,262.

In fiscal year 2011, the Fair had a loss of $332,154.

National FFA membership explodes to 579,678 students

Analysts forecast that the world’s population will grow to 9 billion people by 2050. With global needs today to fight hunger and prepare for the expected population explosion, the agriculture industry needs educated, skilled and passionate people dedicated to sustainability.

JBS opens expanded distribution center in Nebraska

Greeley, Colo.,-based JBS USA has opened the first phase of a massive distribution center at the company’s beef processing plant in Nebraska.

The first phase of the center, capable of storing 35,000 boxes of beef, is now open.

Construction of the ultimate 83,000-square-foot structure with 12 loading bays is expected to be finished this coming spring and will result in a storage capacity of 100,000 boxes of beef, according to a news release.

The Grand Island, Neb., beef processing plant produces boxed beef, ground beef and case-ready beef products, for domestic and global customers. The Nebraska plant is a complete overhaul, as compared to Greeley’s packing plant, which has received upgrades for years, Byers said. The Nebraska plant will not be taking in beef from anywhere else, just distributing from that plant.

According to the new release, the new distribution system is expected to increase warehouse productivity, capacity and utilization, through efficiencies. The design of the distribution center allows for continual expansion to meet the growing needs of customers, the release states.

Montana ranch celebrates unusual birth, survival of twin bison calves

After more than half a century of raising bison, folks at the Gehring Ranch near Helena, Mont., know that the furry beasts are unpredictable.

That knowledge still didn’t prepare them for the gift from the bison they call Big Shirl this spring — a pair of twin calves, which they fondly named Pete and Re-Pete.

“We have had buffalo for 60 years, but never had twins,” says Rose Vincent Gehring, the matriarch of the family.

“About .04 percent,” chimes in her cousin Bill Gehring, who runs the family ranch.

David Carter, the executive director of the Denver-based National Bison Association, said he doesn’t have statistics on the probability, but agreed twin bison are rare.

“In the 11 or 12 years I have been around, I’ve probably heard of five instances of that,” Carter said. “He’s exactly right; it is very rare.”

U.S Japan streamline organic trade across the Pacific

The United States and Japan today announced that beginning Jan. 1, organic products certified in Japan or in the United States may be sold as organic in either country.

This partnership between two significant organic markets will streamline U.S. farmers’ and processors’ access to the growing Japanese organic market, benefiting the rapidly growing organic industry and supporting job creation and business growth on a global scale.

“Today’s agreement will streamline access to the growing Japanese organic market for U.S. farmers and processors and eliminate significant barriers for small and medium organic producers, benefiting America’s thriving organic industry,” said United States Trade Representative Michael Froman. “This represents another key step in strengthening our economic relationship with Japan by boosting agriculture trade between Japan and the United States, leading to more jobs and economic benefits for American farmers and businesses in this important sector.”

The organics sector in the United States and Japan is valued at more than $36 billion combined, and rising every year.

Without an equivalency arrangement in place, organic farmers and businesses wanting to sell products in either country had to obtain separate certifications to meet each country’s organic standards. This typically has meant two sets of fees, inspections, and paperwork. Similar to previous U.S. equivalency arrangements with Canada and the European Union, this trade partnership with Japan eliminates significant barriers, especially for small and medium-sized organic producers.

Boulder Co. farmers hoping for strong support after flood disrupts season

The devastating flooding across the Front Range forced the cancellation of the Longmont and Boulder farmers markets Sept 14.

“I’d say all of the farmers are losing thousands of dollars because of the flood recovery,” Ollin Farms owner Mark Guttridge said Wednesday at the last midweek market of the season in Boulder.

Guttridge, who primarily sells his produce in Boulder on Wednesdays and Longmont on Saturdays, said his farm, at 8627 N. 95th St. in Longmont, suffered about $8,000 in infrastructure damage after Left Hand Creek overflowed its banks. Although his fields, crops and house were not affected, work to rehabilitate the farm caused him to miss a few additional markets.

More than anything, Guttridge said, the flooding hurt the momentum with market shoppers at an important time of year.

Boulder County Farmers’ Markets manager Brad Burger said Wednesday that two farms that regularly set up booths shut them down for the season after the deluge.

Senate seeks to reverse law on engineered crops

The Associated Press reported this week that the Senate is seeking to reverse a controversial law that allows farmers to harvest genetically modified crops even when the crops are caught up in legal battles.

The law, passed as part of a spending bill earlier this year, has become a flashpoint in the national debate over genetically engineered foods.

It would expire at the end of the federal budget year next week, and a temporary spending bill passed by the House would extend it.

The narrow provision only applies to genetically modified crops that are under litigation.

The provision’s supporters say it is designed to help farmers weather the sometimes yearslong appeals process and avoid stops and starts in planting as courts reverse each other’s decisions.

Monsanto acquires Climate Corporation for $930 M

Monsanto Company announced is week it has signed a definitive agreement to acquire The Climate Corporation for a cash purchase price of approximately $930 million.

The acquisition, according to a Monsanto news release, will combine The Climate Corporation’s expertise in agriculture analytics and risk-management with Monsanto’s research and development capabilities, and will provide farmers access to more information about the many factors that affect the success of their crops.

The companies’ combined capabilities will support greater productivity while utilizing the planet’s finite resources more precisely.

The acquisition is expected to expand on The Climate Corporation’s leadership in the area of data science, which represents the agriculture sector’s next major breakthrough, and will immediately expand both the near- and long-term growth opportunities for Monsanto’s business and Integrated Farming Systems platform.

The acquisition is subject to customary closing conditions and is expected to close in the first quarter of Monsanto’s 2014 fiscal year. Following the acquisition, The Climate Corporation will operate its business to retain its distinct brand identity and customer experience. The company will continue to maintain headquarters in Silicon Valley and all of its employees will be offered continued employment.

U.S. Cattlemen’s ‘Bully for COOL’ fundraiser slated to begin this fall

The United States Cattlemen’s Association announced a new country of origin (COOL) labeling defense fundraising campaign for the fall of 2013.

Together with the National Farmers Union, the American Sheep Industry Association and the Consumers Federation Association, USCA and its allies have been working throughout the summer to raise funds for the U.S. COOL Defense Fund.

The four groups were granted defendant-intervor status in the case on August 19.

Through an online campaign via and the summer tour, efforts are well underway to meeting the groups’ monetary goal.

“Defending COOL in this lawsuit, which was filed by nine groups on July 8 in the U.S. District Court in Washington, D.C. is a costly endeavor,” said Jess Peterson, USCA executive vice president. “The court’s denial of the plaintiffs’ motion for a preliminary injunction was a victory for COOL, for U.S. producers and for consumers. However, plaintiffs in the lawsuit are now appealing the court’s decision denying the preliminary injunction to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia, which puts more pressure on our financial resources. As defendant-intervenors in the district court, USCA, NFU, ASI and CFA are permitted to file documents and participate in arguments before the court of appeals. This is crucial as it allows the court of appeals to hear from producers and consumers who support the USDA’s revised regulation and believe it is lawful and consistent with the Constitution. Our counsel is in the process of preparing our response to the appellants’ challenge to the district court’s denial of the preliminary injunction.”

During October, Peterson will be on the road, touring the countryside to keep cattle producers and consumers informed on both the domestic anti-COOL lawsuit as well as the WTO challenge.