Day Three (July 27) of the 2011 New Century Farmer Conference began with a group discussion of several questions regarding our vision, ag policy, and the upcoming revision of the Farm Bill. Each group shared ideas and lessons learned over the past two days for the development of vision statements. We then listened to Neil Mylet, the inventor of an innovation called Loadout, a technology that uses smartphones as the central point of command and control for large scale production operations like a farm. He shared with us several tools and ideas for the use of smart phones in agriculture, such as the application called MINT. The MINT application centralizes financial information in one program. We also discussed an application called Tank Mix that provides chemical mixing instructions.
Beth Bechdol from Ice Miller then presented information regarding the upcoming Farm Bill revisions. It was discussed that, as farmers, we must take an active approach to agricultural policy and express our opinions in order to make progressive changes in agriculture. Beth explained budget constraints will have a profound effect upon the 2012 Farm Bill and compromise is vital.
Today’s business tours took place in two tracks. The row crop track visited Covered Bridge Winery, a grower operation that sells to retailers within the state and concentrates on quality not quantity. There second stop was the Bridgestone/Firestone Tire Company’s Agricultural Division our group was able to see how tires are made from the beginning to the finished products. The facility is now manufacturing the largest tire for John Deere measuring 91 inches tall.
The livestock production group visited Hawkeye Breeders Service where we learned about the process of collecting and freezing semen. Our next tour was the Louis Dreyfus Commodities ethanol plant. We had the opportunity to follow the incoming corn through the distillation process converting the raw corn starch to pure ethanol. The evening concluded with the group heading to Bass Pro Shops for dinner at Uncle Bucks, bowling, and venturing about Bass Pro Shops!