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FFA String Bands: Front Porch to Center Stage

To some, it might seem odd that the Future Farmers of America (FFA) would recognize and reward musical talent. After all, the 85-year-old organization’s stated mission is to “prepare future generations for the challenges of feeding a growing population.”

FFA string bands compete.

FFA string bands compete.

Yet the organization’s Career Development Events program does spotlight the musical endeavors of its members, as well as other pursuits. Besides awards for swine and goat production, dairy evaluation and tractor driving, the National FFA Organization honors members who excel at such activities as public speaking and crime prevention.

“Everybody stereotypes ag, thinking it’s just cows and plows. If you look at the industry, there are more jobs in the world not directly producing food but manufacturing it, hauling it or marketing,” says Marty Myers, a high school FFA sponsor. “Ag teaches leadership, not just farming and plowing. It tries to get them ready for real life.”

Real life includes finding a balance, and music has always been a part of many farmers’ recreational time. That’s why the FFA at the national and state level holds competitions to help develop and showcase talent and leadership skills.

In 2014, the National FFA Organization is offering $2.1 million in scholarships. AGCO is part of this effort. During the 2013-2014 FFA scholarship year, AGCO and nearly 50 local Challenger®, Massey Ferguson® and Gleaner® dealers will distribute a total of 100 scholarships in the amount of $1,000 each.

Follow one of FFA’s young bands as they compete for the glory, and check out one of their songs at myFarmLife.com.

Big Dreams and Growing Pains on the Farm

This eastern Kansas farmer has more than doubled his ground in 2014, to 4,700 acres, and the rental parcels are as much as 200 miles apart.

Dustin Edwards with his MF8660

Dustin Edwards with his MF8660

“It’s like being in an office on the farm doing business,” says Dustin Edwards of the ride and technology in his MF8660 and MF8690 tractors, and the new MF9540 combine. “The CVT [continuously variable transmission] is awesome. I can literally stop in the field with the in-line ripper in the ground; I don’t even have to lift it out of the soil. When I start up again, the programmed computer just takes over and brings me up to speed, and can [reach] optimum rpm with the CVT. This is the best thing since sliced bread.”

Edwards believes the CVT saves him up to 2 gallons per hour in fuel over a tractor without. “Saving that kind of money just makes you more competitive.”
He’s just as happy, if not more so, with the MF9250 DynaFlex® header. “If I had to go back to an old auger head, I’d quit picking soybeans,” he says. The speed, efficiency and gentleness with which the header did the job so impressed a prospective landlord riding in the combine with Edwards that “it helped get the business. I didn’t even have to push him.”

His relationship with Schuck Equipment of Lawrence, Kan., is a big part of the reason for Edwards’ loyalty. The company is operated by Michael and Miles Schuck, who took over from their father, Howard, who had purchased the dealership in 1969.

For their part, the Schucks consider Edwards’ far-flung operation and increasingly high profile a benefit to their business. “If you’ve ever met Dustin, you’ll know he’s a stranger to no one,” says Miles Schuck. “He talks about what he’s doing and where he gets his equipment, so yeah, there is a benefit.”

For more on Dustin Edwards and his fast-growing farm operation, see http://www.myfarmlife.com/features/big-dreams-and-growing-pains-on-the-farm/.

Bringing Storage Technology to Life in Mkushi, Zambia

By Louisa Parker, Manager External Affairs, Africa & Middle East

central province_b2b_demo

In June Bags2Bulk held its first demonstration day showcasing the bulk storage technology to grain traders. GSI Africa and the installation team worked tirelessly to have the demo unit ready for the event held In Mkushi which was well attended. It was great to see the response of the traders now that they have been able to see and touch the technology as the project team was pleased to receive the local Agricultural Commissioner Mr. Luka Mwamba as guest of honour at the event.

This is the first of several demonstration events that will take place at five locations throughout Central and Eastern province in Zambia during the course of the pilot. The team is now following up on a number of sales leads and GSI is now looking at several candidates to take forward the role of sales assistant to support the project.

Speaking at the event, the Commissioner noted that he had seen the GSI technology and was impressed by what he’d seen.  He said “previously, this technology has only been available to large commercial farmers.  I am pleased that now this is available to farmers and traders both large and small.”  While he praised the technology, he was quick to state that the government supports the Bags2Bulk initiative and encourages other players in the agriculture industry to come on board.  Still, he cautioned “Of course nothing comes for free.  Financing will be key to accessing this technology.  It is good to see the banks here today.  My message to you is work hard to develop a finance solution so that the farmers can take advantage of this new technology.”  To the traders, he reminded them that farming is a business not a charity.  In closing, the Commissioner said “we look forward to seeing many shiny new silos on the small scale farms across Mkushi district in the months to come”.

For more information about upcoming Bags2Bulk events, please contact Louisa Parker:  louisa.parker@agcocorp.com.

Mkushi’s Agricultural Commissioner, Mr Luka Mwamba shakes hands with Louisa Parker of AGCO.  To their right, they are joined by Musika Central Region Manager, Mr. Mabvuto Chisi.

Mkushi’s Agricultural Commissioner, Mr Luka Mwamba shakes hands with Louisa Parker of AGCO. To their right, they are joined by Musika Central Region Manager, Mr. Mabvuto Chisi.

American Farmland Trust: I Love My Farmers Market

A farmers market in Shreveport, La.

A farmers market in Shreveport, La.

The I Love My Farmers Market Celebration kicked off its summer-long event on June 13. Now in its sixth year, the program, sponsored by the American Farmland Trust (AFT), promotes USDA-listed farmers’ markets across the nation. Customers are encouraged to pledge dollars online and to follow through with a commitment to shop at their favorite farmers markets.

According to the AFT, for every $10 spent on local food, as much as $7.80 is re-spent in the local community, supporting local jobs and businesses. During the 2013 I Love My Farmers Market Celebration, a total of $259,690 was pledged to be spent at farmers’ markets, the majority of which the AFT calculates went directly to farmers.

The celebration, which is part of AFT’s No Farms No Food® campaign, helps emphasize “how important it is to put money directly into [farmers’] pockets, to help keep them on the land and to keep their operations viable.”

For more, including how to vote, visit: http://www.myfarmlife.com/first-gear/i-love-my-farmers-market-good-food-good-cause/

Rural Hospital’s Future Is Bright Thanks to Biomass

Biomass, as a sustainable fuel, does more than just help the environment—it saves lives. Many rural hospitals have antiquated boiler systems that burn oil for fuel during the cold winter months. This is not a sustainable heat source, and the cost is putting many of them in the red. These hospitals often are the only close access to medical care in low income communities.

Biomass Hospital

Piedmont Geriatric State Hospital in Burkeville, Virginia, is using biomass to keep its buildings warm during those long winters. The hospital burns around 3,000 tons of native warm season grasses (NWSG) as biofuel, supplied by FDC Enterprises, from November to May. The hospital saves, on average, more than $1,300 per day during those seven months.

On an energy basis, biomass is roughly one-third the cost of fuel, which quickly adds up. Glenn Farris stated, “For many rural hospitals, being able to save over $200,000 per year is the difference between staying open or closing their doors. It can also be the way to bring that next important lifesaving machine or a new doctor to their facility. It can’t help but make you feel good to know you work for a company and in an industry that can make great things like this happen.”

By using biomass energy, hospitals can save money normally used to heat the building and instead better serve the community. Biomass is a win for rural hospitals, the communities they serve and the environment. To learn more about AGCO Biomass solutions, please visit: http://bit.ly/AGCOBiomass.

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