Bayer AgVocacy Forum Connects Public with Food Production

Bayer Advocacy Forum Narrows Gap Between Public and Food Production

Food system, science and agriculture experts gather to discuss the convergence of food and the future of agriculture

NEW ORLEANS, La.  Advancing the conversation about the best ways to sustainably feed a growing population is the overarching theme for the 2016 AgVocacy Forum, sponsored by Bayer CropScience. Representatives from agriculture and consumer media will hear from thought leaders in science, nutrition and sustainable food production at the invitation-only event TODAY.

David Hollinrake, vice president, marketing & portfolio management, Bayer
David Hollinrake, vice president, marketing & portfolio management, Bayer

Formerly “Ag Issues Forum,” AgVocacy Forum continues a decade-long tradition of bringing together a diverse mix of people, experience and opinions to exchange ideas and philosophies that help shape and influence modern agriculture. This year’s event shines a spotlight on how being an “AgVocate” may help bridge the growing divide between consumers and those involved in food production.

“There are many challenges facing today’s food producer and perhaps none more important than building trust with consumers,” said David Hollinrake, vice president, marketing & portfolio management, Bayer. “We assembled experts at AgVocacy Forum to spark dialogue and bring focus to the steps needed to educate and engage a public that is increasingly detached from modern agriculture.”

Carolyn O'Neil, MS, RDN, former CNN correspondent
Carolyn O’Neil, MS, RDN, former CNN correspondent

Award-winning author and registered dietician, Carolyn O’Neil, kicked off the Forum last night with a keynote address sharing her insights on consumer preferences driving food trends. The program also featured 12-year-old Braeden Mannering who, while attending the “Kids’ State Dinner” at the White House, was challenged by First Lady Michelle Obama to “pay his experience forward.” Braeden’s response was to create Brae’s Brown Bags (3B), which battles food insecurity by providing healthy snacks to homeless and low-income individuals.

Braeden Mannering, founder Brae's Brown Bags (3B)
Braeden Mannering, founder Brae’s Brown Bags (3B)

Additional guest speakers include:

Kavin Senapathy, author of The Fear Babe: Shattering Vani Hari’s Glass House and regular contributor for Forbes.com

Dan Dye, CEO of Ardent Mills, a joint venture among Cargill, ConAgra Foods and CHS

Josiah Zayner, CEO of The ODIN and former NASA bioscientist

Charles Baron, co-founder and vice president of Farmers Business Network, a crowd-sourced program for data-driven agriculture

AgVocacy Forum is being skillfully moderated by Frank Sesno, director of the School of Media and Public Affairs at George Washington University and a former CNN correspondent, anchor and Washington D.C. Bureau Chief.

In conjunction with the event, the Bayer Foundation has made a $10,000 donation to the Orleans Parish 4-H chapter and will work with the chapter to install a Feed a Bee pollinator garden at Ben Franklin Elementary.

Watch a live stream of the AgVocacy Forum at www.agvocacyforum.com, and join the conversation by following @bayer4cropsus and using #AgVocate. Be sure to look for blog posts on the event at www.cropscience.bayer.us/news/blog.

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Bayer: Science For A Better Life

Bayer is a global enterprise with core competencies in the Life Science fields of health care and agriculture. Its products and services are designed to benefit people and improve their quality of life. At the same time, the Group aims to create value through innovation, growth and high earning power. Bayer is committed to the principles of sustainable development and to its social and ethical responsibilities as a corporate citizen.

Forward-Looking Statements

This release may contain forward-looking statements based on current assumptions and forecasts made by Bayer Group or subgroup management. Various known and unknown risks, uncertainties and other factors could lead to material differences between the actual future results, financial situation, development or performance of the company and the estimates given here. These factors include those discussed in Bayer’s public reports which are available on the Bayer website at www.bayer.com. The company assumes no liability whatsoever to update these forward-looking statements or to conform them to future events or developments.

NASA satellite mission to help farmers and water managers

By Edward Ortiz; The Sacramento Bee

A NASA satellite being launched into space will measure moisture in the top layer of soil, including soil on California farm fields far below.

The Soil Moisture Active Passive project is expected to provide crucial information to Central Valley farmers and water resource managers dealing with the multiyear drought. The mission, which was due to launch Thursday but scrubbed by NASA because of a weather pattern, will begin a three-year mission after liftoff from Vandenberg Air Force Base aboard a Delta II rocket.

The soil moisture information gleaned from the mission can be used by farmers to decide when to plant and harvest crops, said Narendra Das, project leader at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, which is running the SMAP mission.

“This information will be a great tool for agriculture,” said rice farmer Charley Mathews Jr. Mathews owns a 700-acre rice farm in Marysville. He is an avid believer that more data can help his farming operation.

“For rice growing, it may help is preparing our rice fields,” he said of SMAP. “There are time periods when we prepare the soil or when we have rainfall events, and that is when we want to get our timing right.”

The 128-pound SMAP satellite will map soil moisture globally every two to three days. The SMAP data will be gleaned from space, using radar, with the use of a 19-foot antenna – the largest rotating antenna of its kind ever deployed by NASA.

It will take measurements 1 inch deep. The soil moisture it estimates will be matched to other data to provide accurate information on how much water is in the soil.

Only a tiny percentage of Earth’s total water is lodged in the top layer of soil. However, the water within that tiny layer plays an important role in moving water, carbon and heat between land and atmosphere.

The mission is the latest Earth-looking satellite effort at NASA, an effort that began in 1972 with the launch of the Landsat I.

The mission is the final of a recent slate of five Earth satellite missions to be launched by NASA within the past 11 months that began with the launch of the Global Precipitation Measurement Core Observatory satellite. Each mission is culling data at never-before-attempted resolutions.

NASA said it has partnered with a large California grower, Paramount Farms, on sampling studies and airborne experiments on the run-up to the launch.

Paramount Farms, based in Kern County, is one of the world’s largest growers and processors of almonds and pistachios. Paramount Farms declined to comment on its work with NASA.

Predicting floods and suggesting improved water usage may ultimately be another benefit of the SMAP mission, said Robert Hartman, acting director with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s California Nevada River Forecast Center.

That entity runs climate models for California, Nevada and Southern Oregon. “Once we understand what the data represents and what they mean, it may help us with runoff models,” Hartman said.

Hartman said it remains to be seen how accurate the data from SMAP will be – especially from heavily forested environments. In other areas it may help assess how much moisture exists in a given watershed, especially prior to the onset of winter storms.

“In the fall we’re sensitive to how ready the watershed is to respond to the season’s first rain,” Hartman said. “It can also help us in the period between winter storms when there has been a substantial dry period.”

NASA has also been working with the California Department of Water Resources and expects the department will use the SMAP data to run its water use models.

The DWP is allowing the use of 40 soil sensor stations throughout the state for the SMAP mission. The sensors will help NASA calibrate the SMAP satellite measurements, said Jeanine Jones, DWP interstate resources manager.

Jones said it remains to be seen how useful the data will be to the department’s water management aims.

“Currently in the water supply and flood control business, most agencies do not use soil moisture information,” Jones said. “There are no applications for that kind of data yet. We’ll see if this mission will be the impetus to develop applications for it.”

Climate Change: Register now for the first California Adaptation Forum

The consensus is overwhelming: our climate is changing. According to NASA’s Global Climate Change website, “97% of climate scientists agree that climate-warming trends over the past century are very likely due to human activities, and most of the leading scientific organizations worldwide have issued public statements endorsing this position.”

Adapting to climate change is critical at all levels of our economy, including ensuring a secure food supply in the future.

For the first time, the Local Government Commission in partnership with the State of California will be holding the California Adaptation Forum. The two-day event is designed to engage a diverse mix of attendees to create a comprehensive network with a shared, strong commitment to addressing climate risks. It will be held in Sacramento on August 19-20, 2014.

Registration for the forum is now open with early registration rates ending on July 18th, 2014. This event is very timely and builds off last year’s successful National Adaptation Forum.

The event will include agriculture/food-focused sessions such as:

  • How Local Food System Planning Can Create More Resilient Communities
  • The Role of California Rangelands in Adapting to Climate Change
  • Reclaiming Energy: Farms, Forests and Waste Streams

CDFA has engaged growers on identifying potential adaptation measures, which are highlighted in the Climate Change Consortium Final Report. The California Adaptation Forum will continue this discussion in a highly useful way, for the benefit of our children and future generations that will call California home.