Archive for June, 2009|Monthly archive page

What ag needs is more exposure

In Agricultural Marketing on June 27, 2009 at 5:09 pm

I’m watching an episode of Iron Chef America thinking to myself:

“Why couldn’t the commodity and food groups leverage the featured ingredients for their benefit?”

For instance, for Iron Chef America Battle Corn, the National Corn Growers Association could have taken out some ads during the show to create greater awareness of the origin of corn and the contribution of its growers. I’d like to see that.

Better yet, commodity groups could pool their resources to create their own programming and networks about cooking and health. If we are to remain viable, we must remain relevant.


Nutrition and performance foods and beverages are HOT!

In Agribusiness, Agricultural Entrepreneurship, Innovation, Small Business on June 23, 2009 at 7:49 pm

One of the fastest-growing segments in food and beverage right now is the energy drink segment. Don’t take my word for it. Just Google it. You’ll see a history of double-digit growth with no stop to it. Or just take a look at the energy drink section (it’s the three or four full cases where one lone four-pack of Red Bull used to be) at your local Quik Trip, Kwik Shop or any other convenience store.

Now consider this: it takes herbs like guarana, gingko biloba, echinacea and ginseng to give many of those drinks their zip, zing and restorative qualities.

Further, as this trend persists (and it will), people will  begin to want all-natural and locally-made ingredients in their drinks.

Imagine putting up a small greenhouse on your property to grow hothouse herbs for small-batch energy drinks that are environmentally responsible because they don’t require clearing rainforests to grow.

It could be a nice source of winter income, too.

Five ag products to inspire you

In Agribusiness, Innovation on June 20, 2009 at 2:29 pm

When you think you don’t have anything of value aside from the crops or livestock you raise, consider these seemingly mundane products that have become prized resources:

  1. Special breeds of grasses for championship golf courses in different areas of the country (Remember when grass was grass?)
  2. Popcorn
  3. Mare’s urine for developing hormone supplements
  4. Peanut butter
  5. Insulin from hogs

These products are commonplace today, but someone had to invent and develop them. My thought is: Why not you and me? If we come up with right idea, we can arraign the resources to make it happen.

High unemployment, high commodity prices, weak dollar…oh, my!

In Agribusiness, Agricultural Entrepreneurship on June 15, 2009 at 9:09 pm

A weak dollar means it’s a good time for other nations to purchase US commodities, which are still near historic highs. Unfortunately, despite the need for bread and beef abroad, forecasts for wheat and beef exports were recently revised downward.

Meanwhile, US market share continues to fall as big crops in other countries have boosted global stocks.

Here at home, unemployment is soaring, leaving a lot of city folks wondering where to find a job.

High unemployment. No jobs.

More grain and livestock sellers than buyers.

Now is the time to bring the city and the country together by supporting the following types of research:

  • bio-adhesives
  • bio-pharmaceuticals
  • bio-composite building materials
  • on-farm bio-fuel production

And by support, I mean creating coalitions and cooperatives of producers, manufacturers and academic researchers with the intent of making MONEY and creating WEALTH.

Value-added products part deux: farmer-owned grocery stores

In Agribusiness, Agricultural Entrepreneurship, Agricultural Marketing, Innovation, Small Business on June 2, 2009 at 9:50 pm

You’ve heard of farmers’ markets? How about farmers’ supermarkets?

Maybe not yet, but given the continued growth in ethical food consumerism and some of the disenchantment with Whole (paycheck) Foods, there could be a gap in the market.

Imagine a co-op of farmers and ranchers owning local franchises or independent stores committed to bringing only the freshest food, locally grown when possible. And of course, proceeds would go back to farmers, another plus for many consumers.

In the old-world economy of the last century, there were all kinds of reasons this type of thing couldn’t work. But the authenticity demanded by today’s consumers makes a farmer-owned supply chain possible.

Practice might be more important than talent

In Agribusiness on June 2, 2009 at 8:49 am

If you haven’t read this article:

or Geoff Colvin’s book based on the article, it’s worth at least a read and a bit of thought.

It seems, according to this article, that it’s not our knowledge, upbringing or experience that make us successful, but rather our practice routine. According to a study quoted in Colvin’s article, it is “deliberate practice” that makes for the highest degree of success.

Practice, apparently, does make perfect. Honing our talents with the direction and feedback of a coach is always an excellent way to be better. And the sooner we start, the better our chances of success.

In other words, Tiger Woods and Michael Jordan succeeded more because of the quantity and quality of their practice sessions than because of their genetic makeup.

I guess there’s something to be said for good old-fashioned hard work, as long as it’s focused and smart.