MF: One third of global production wasted annually– that’s a huge amount.
MB: Yes, it’s a very large figure. In developing countries, most waste happens in the earlier stages of the food supply chain, whereas in developed regions such as Europe, food is more likely to be wasted at the other end of the chain, when it lands in the hands of the processors, retailers and consumers. This leads to safe food going uneaten. It’s clearly an issue which must be addressed given escalating food demand and continuing poverty and hunger for many in developing countries. The issue is particularly topical at the moment considering that EXPO 2015’s theme is ‘Feeding the Planet, Energy for Life’ which has a heavy focus on food security, and therefore food waste.
MF: What is the EU’s strategy?
MB: In 2014, the European Commission put forward objectives for food waste reduction in the EU with the stated aim of reducing food waste by at least 30% by 2025. However, in its 2015 work programme, the Commission announced that it would withdraw this legislative proposal in favour of a new, more ambitious one to promote circular economy. This is the idea of reusing and recycling existing materials and products, aiming to ‘close the loop’ in order to avoid loss and waste. The European Commission has launched a public consultation on ‘Circular Economy’ in a bid to promote its new strategy on the subject which it is planning for late 2015. The consultation is open to everyone, so anyone should feel free to have their say if they would like to contribute!
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Nine-year-old Ryan Panbecker is everywhere on the Iowa farm this warm October day. He’s helping get tools out the back of the pickup or running through the stubble of just-harvested corn. If enthusiasm is any indication, Ryan appears destined to take over the family operation, but not for another decade or more down the road.
The trick is to bridge that time somehow by keeping the farm operating in the family, while allowing Ryan’s grandfather, Elroy, who is 69, to transition into retirement. Elroy’s son and Ryan’s father, Terry Panbecker, is the director of the precision agronomic division for a Fort Dodge, Iowa-based agricultural cooperative. Terry is also a former AGCO employee, who, along with his dad, continues to use the company’s farm equipment, including a Massey Ferguson 8680 tractor and Gleaner R65 combine.
There are no statistics as to how many farmers keep working to give heirs time to become adults or to acquire the means to buy them out. Still, while Terry’s situation does make the succession planning a bit more complicated—he plans to continue in his full-time off-farm role while devoting off-hours to the family farm—transition advice is much the same for the Panbeckers as other farmers.
For instance, succession and estate planning experts recommend that goals for the operation be established that take the entire family into account. Everyone involved should list personal, family, business and retirement goals.
“Give yourself the benefit of 10 years to make the transition,” says Joel Green, an attorney with St. Louis-based Aegis Professional Services. “We can do a lot in terms of estate planning with that kind of time frame,” he says.
Attorney Hannon Ford often recommends the use of a living trust into which someone like Elroy Panbecker could place all his assets. Often, the size and complexity of the operation, as well as escalating land values, dictate family limited partnerships or family limited liability companies.
In the case of the Panbeckers, the creator of the living trust can require that the farm not be sold during the next 20 years, for instance. Additionally, the Panbeckers could use a limited liability company, or LLC, to own the assets of the farm—even within the living trust.
In the meantime, Elroy plans to continue farming full time for at least the near term, while Terry holds down his “day job” and gladly works the farm whenever needed. In the not-so-distant future, however, Ryan and/or his sister Nicole may take over the operation. Yet for now, they’re pretty content fetching tools, running through farm fields, learning the ropes on the farm that could one day be theirs, and generally getting to spend time with Dad and Granddad.
With 3,000 acres of alfalfa, much of which is grown on hilly land, David and Janice Estes put their equipment to the test. That includes their new Hesston by Massey Ferguson WR9870 self-propelled windrower.
“I think it actually gets a little better fuel economy than the WR9770 that we had before,” says David, whose operation is near El Reno, Okla. “Yet, the WR9870 has even more horsepower to handle heavy crops and rolling terrain.”
The WR9870, which delivers up to 225 rated HP and 240 boost HP from its 6.6-liter AGCO POWER™ engine, is one of three new models in the WR9800 Series. With a 4-cylinder QuadBoost engine, the WR9860 features 195 rated HP and 208 boost HP, while the WR9840 offers 137 rated HP and 148 boost HP. Complementing all that power, the WR9800 Series offers up to 17.5 mph working speed and 22 mph transport speed for improved efficiency.
“Like the previous WR9700 Series, it operates all hydraulic, engine and drive functions by means of an onboard virtual computer terminal,” says Kyle Kitt, AGCO marketing manager for hay and forage equipment. “The WR9800 Series improves efficiency and decreases operator fatigue,” Kitt continues. This allows the new Auto Load Control function to automatically adjust the windrower ground speed based on the engine load and the header drive pressure.
Referring to the OptiCruise™ function, Estes says,“Using two buttons on the back of the hydro handle, you can increase or decrease speed in increments of [0.6] mph in the field and 2 mph on the road.” The WR9800 Series also includes a new remote center link switch for adjustment outside the cab for faster, easier header hookup.
Adds Kitt, “When combined with the new Auto-Guide™ 3000 GPS-guided steering system … these new automatic features allow the machine to be operated virtually hands-free.” The series also features a new hydro handle with up to 16 programmable functions that can be set for an operator’s specific needs. Those include, says Kitt, “the engagement or disengagement of functions like Auto Load Control, head speed and flotation, and reel speed on the fly.”
Concessionaire Deena Coleman has run the Pokagon State Park Saddle Barn for the past 25 years, introducing thousands to her love of horses and the great outdoors. “Growing up, my childhood was filled with these types of experiences,” says Deena. “I feel bad that a lot of kids never get a chance to do it at all. I think that’s why I feel good about this,” she says about her work at the Saddle Barn.
Deena’s passion for horses has proved infectious. Most notably 32 years ago, when she won over Larry, the man who would be her husband. “About two months after I met him, he bought a horse,” Deena says.
As a couple, then as a family, when their daughter Kelly was born, the Colemans continued to keep and raise horses. Eventually, they landed the lease for the Saddle Barn and haven’t looked back.
Today, Larry and Deena maintain day jobs at the local post office while running the Saddle Barn. Deena’s dad, Eldon, does payroll, and they get a huge helping hand from their Massey Ferguson 1742 tractor and their dealership Harmony Outdoor Equipment, which provides on-time parts and service.
Yes, the hours may be long and the work hard, but the Colemans will tell you the Saddle Barn has become a hub for three generations of family and a dream realized.
Still in its early stages in North America, the harvesting and processing industry for cellulosic ethanol now has something to show for years of research and planning in the form of three new cellulosic ethanol plants.
Bill Levy, chief executive officer of PacificAg, believes the North American biomass industry is poised for growth. “Over the next decade or so, it will become a major market,” he says.
Two of the three new cellulosic plants are in Iowa—one operated by DuPont in Nevada; the other in Emmetsburg is run by South Dakota-based ethanol producer POET/DSM—and both process corn stover. The other facility—located in Hugoton, Kan., and run by Abengoa Bioenergy Biomass—uses some wheat straw in addition to corn and milo stover, all of which is supplied exclusively by PacificAg.
For every 180 bushels of grain, the average producer will have about 4.3 tons of stover. To maintain sufficient organic matter in the soil and to prevent erosion, the USDA advises leaving an average of 2.3 tons per acre on the ground. Studies have shown that leaving too much residue can increase the likelihood of disease the following spring, make planting more difficult and use up nitrogen.
“The biggest benefit we bring growers is an alternative method for managing high residue,” says Denny Penland, business development manager for DuPont Cellulosic Ethanol. “And it also produces a platform for producing next year’s crop of corn.”
In Canada, there are currently no biomass plants online or in the works, but Charles Lalonde, a project manager with the Ontario Federation of Agriculture, says he expects that’s going to change in the next few years. He says there will soon be demand for corn stover and wheat straw inside Canadian borders.
“With corn stover, we’re trying to develop a market for it in bioprocessing,” Lalonde explains. He anticipates that facility will focus on using cellulosic material to produce sugars for use in various biochemical productions.
U.S. plants making ethanol from grains, mainly corn, are currently at capacity, producing 12 billion to 13 billion gallons annually. “Right now, the industry is waiting for the cellulosic side of these projects to get up and running,” Levy says. By comparison, it’s estimated that the new plants will be able to produce around 75 million gallons of cellulosic ethanol a year.
Plans for seven new cellulosic ethanol plants have been announced by the USDA, three of which will use agricultural waste, while the others will use resources like wood chips, wood waste and municipal solid waste.
And while the bulk of the U.S. market now is corn stover, Glenn Farris, AGCO’s manager of segment strategy for biomass/industrials, expects a market for dedicated energy crops to emerge, such as Miscanthus and switchgrass.
Farris says he believes that by 2030 more producers will see 300 bushels of corn per acre. That means 8 to 10 tons of stover per acre on the ground within the next 15 years.
Says Levy, “I think we’re going to see a revolution in the biomass market in the years to come. As the world turns to renewable energy, agriculture is going to be a direct benefactor.”