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Workshop teaches benefits, law of agritourism

| Posted on October 10, 2023

By Brad Buck

Many farmers are incorporating tourism into their operations to draw visitors and earn an alternate source of income. If you’re interested in establishing an agritourism business, you can now register for and attend a workshop scheduled for 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. Nov. 14 on Zoom.

Luis Rodriguez and Allie Williams, the agriculture agents for UF/IFAS Extension Polk and Hillsborough counties, respectively, will host the workshop.

Topics include:

• Laws and regulations of agritourism in Florida.
• Cottage food and winery laws.
• Florida Agritourism Association.

“Farmers are increasingly interested in agritourism as a secondary source of revenue,” Rodriguez said. “I want the participants to understand the Florida Agritourism law, how they can implement agritourism within their farm, what activities are considered agritourism and what resources are available for them.”

Rodriguez and Williams work with small farmers in their respective counties. Additionally, the two agents attended the Florida Agritourism Association Conference in July, where they met people who incorporate tourism into their agricultural operations.

“The small-scale producers often look for additional revenue sources to support the farm, and with agritourism a hot topic, we decided to offer this workshop,” Williams said.

Florida is a natural location for agritourism as it marries the state’s two largest industries to provide an on-farm recreational experience for consumers.

According to this AskIFAS publication, agritourism provides many opportunities for people to learn about the origin of foods they eat. For example, school children come to farms for field trips. Agritourism can also benefit the environment and wildlife. Some types of agritourism include bird watching, wildlife viewing and fishing.

It allows the public to participate in activities that involve:

• Special events, like venues for weddings and parties,
• Recreation such as hayrides or mazes,
• Entertainment, including festivals,
• Education, such as farm tours,
• Harvest-your-own activities (U-Pick).

“In my role, I work directly with small-scale farmers and livestock producers,” Williams said. “Some of these producers have brought up the idea of adding an agritourism component to their farm. I see agritourism as a way to share with others about agriculture and provide opportunities to understand the work that goes into growing their food.”

Governor Reynolds urging Congress to pass agriculture law | Posted on June 14, 2023

DES MOINES, Iowa (KWWL) -- Governor Kim Reynolds is urging Congress to pass a law that she says would help protect the agriculture industry.

Governor Reynolds joined ten other Republican Governors in supporting a bill that would prevent states from impeding agricultural trade between states.

This is in response to the Supreme Court's ruling to uphold a California law that regards pork sold in its state.


The law, Proposition 12, requires that pork needs to come from pigs whose mothers were raised with the ability to lie down and turn around.

In total, it requires that pigs have 24 square feet of space. If the pork does not meet those requirements, it can not be sold in California.


Iowa is the leading pork producer in the United States.

North Dakota Governor signs corporate farming bill

| Posted on May 3, 2023

North Dakota Governor Doug Burgum has signed a bill, which modernizes the state's corporate farming law to encourage growth in the animal agriculture sector.

"These narrowly defined changes in state law will take the handcuffs off our farmers and ranchers and allow capital investment to flow into our state, growing animal agriculture, adding value to crops, creating opportunities for the next generation, and helping rural communities and schools to thrive in North Dakota once again," Burgum said. "With House Bill 1371, we can level the playing field with other states and expand animal agriculture with environmental stewardship. We're grateful to the bill's prime sponsor, Rep. Paul Thomas of Velva, Commissioner Goehring and all of the bill sponsors, commodity groups and other supporters for their collaboration on this groundbreaking legislation."


Agriculture Commissioner Doug Goehring noted that in neighboring states, 40% to 50% of agricultural receipts come from livestock, compared with only 16% to 18% in North Dakota.

"This will add so much more (value) to every bushel of grain. It'll help offset expenses because we're going to be able to utilize the manure, something that's more natural, more balanced more beneficial, and improves soil health. And then it turns around and it creates more value in our backyard, with swine, with dairy, maybe some more feedlots, also opportunities maybe to get into the poultry business," Goehring said. "Now, I believe we have the environment to support our farmers, to support our rural communities and to support animal agriculture."


In his State of the State address on Jan. 3, Burgum urged the legislature to modernize the corporate farming law with the goal of growing the state's dairy, livestock, feedlot, swine and poultry production and adding value to North Dakota crops.

Lawmakers delivered with HB 1371, which allows an authorized livestock farm corporation or limited liability company (LLC) to own or lease farmland or ranchland if the entity has no more than 10 shareholders or members. For corporations, shareholders holding 75% or more of the shares must be actively engaged in farming or ranching; for an LLC, the percentage is 51%. Shareholders must be U.S. citizens, and no corporation or LLC may own, lease or have an interest in more than 160 acres of farmland or ranchland.

"(House Bill 1371) brings a modernization of the capital that's needed to support animal agriculture amongst our family farms and ranchers. This bill provides that important tool," Thomas said. "These animal agriculture facilities are not only going to drive animal ag numbers, they're going to add value to the feed grains that we've worked to develop in this state through soybean processing plants, corn ethanol production facilities, the canola crush plant in my local community. We're exporting value out of this state, but with these animal ag operations coming into the state, we're going to add that value back into our local communities."

The bill has an emergency clause, so it will take effect immediately, allowing potential projects to begin construction this spring.

Co-sponsoring the bill were House Majority Leader Mike Lefor and Reps. Dick Anderson, Jay Fisher, Jared Hagert, Craig Headland, and Senate Majority Leader David Hogue and Sens. Cole Conley, Larry Luick and Terry Wanzek. The House approved the final bill by a vote of 72-20, and the Senate passed it 41-5.

Ag Advocate Takes on all Opponents in Fight for Agriculture

| Posted on April 6, 2023

Amanda Radke isn’t afraid to defend the beef industry, even if it means taking on some famous adversaries.

But Radke’s fight isn’t one that she seeks. It is more of a passion to dispel misconceptions and educate the public on all facets of beef production and nutrition.

A fifth generation rancher from Mitchell, South Dakota, Radke is the author of eight books and travels the country speaking on agriculture and the beef industry. On April 15, she will be the featured speaker at the Pennsylvania Cattlemen’s Association annual meeting and banquet at the Blair County Convention Center. The blogger, columnist, investigative journalist, speaker and ag advocate has been to Pennsylvania before, and she said every trip to the Keystone State is special.


“Pennsylvania always impresses me with all of the farms I see that are dealing directly with their communities, selling direct to the consumer,” Radke said. “I learn a lot when I come to Pennsylvania, and I take those lessons back to our ranch in South Dakota.”

While Radke cherishes traveling the country to speak to fellow beef producers and farmers, she’s also passionate about protecting the industry from the onslaught of misconceptions and attacks.

From educating the non-farming public to taking on celebrities, Radke doesn’t hesitate to get involved.

In 2006 she got noticed for staging a walk-out when country artist Carrie Underwood performed at the National FFA Convention. Underwood had endorsed the Humane Society of the United States, an organization that Radke said is focused on putting animal agriculture out of business.

“I took it as an opportunity to educate people and create awareness,” Radke said of the walk-out.

Recently, in 2019, she took on Ellen DeGeneres in response to the comedian’s #beneateatlessmeat video urging fans to eat less meat.

At first, Radke disregarded the video, but then she noticed the thousands of comments from DeGeneres’ fans proclaiming they were giving up meat.

Radke had to counter, so she sent DeGeneres a photo of herself in front of her cows asking to come on the show to discuss the issue.

“I also wrote her a letter and tried to be as kind and factual as I could,” Radke said.


She didn’t receive an invite to DeGeneres’ show, but Radke’s letter went viral and it led to more than 50 interviews with major media outlets.

“I was so happy for the opportunity to talk to these outlets and debunk some of the claims that Ellen and so many others put out there,” she said. “These celebrities have such large platforms, and if we don’t tell our story, they’re doing it for us.”

While Amanda Radke has appeared on major media outlets to defend animal agriculture, she says it’s important to not overlook the roots of the industry. Each year she visits schools around her ranch in South Dakota, bringing a calf to help educate kids about animal agriculture.

Advocating for animal agriculture is only part of Radke’s work, however.

In order for agriculture to thrive in the present day and build for the future, it’s important to give farmers and ranchers a positive outlook and a reason to stay motivated. It is a big reason why Radke travels thousands of miles each year to speak to as many agriculture groups as she can.

“I’ve grown up in the cattle business. It’s not an easy life and I understand the challenges,” she said. “I want to help these families, get the next generation involved and find creative ways to be profitable to keep these farm families on the land.”

The COVID-19 pandemic was a challenge that Radke said forced agriculture to find new opportunities in the wake of crashing food supply chains. As grocery store shelves were bare and consumers were turning to purchasing directly from the farm, Radke viewed the difficult time as a chance for family farms to thrive.

“COVID revealed a lot of vulnerabilities in our food supply chain, but in that there’s also solutions,” she said. “Those producers willing to find solutions are the ones that are going to be profitable, successful and able to make the connection with the consumer. I see a lot of that in Pennsylvania.”

Back home on her ranch in South Dakota, Radke and her husband, Tyler, are the parents of four young children who are homeschooled. Between the kids, writing books and the demands of running the ranch, Radke admits it’s sometimes difficult to go away to speak.

But agriculture is worth fighting for, she said, and the farm community is one the needs uplifting no matter what state she visits.

Whether it’s fighting for agriculture or motivating producers with a positive message, Radke said she feels an urgency to make a difference.

“Today more than ever, we need those solid values that rural America and the agriculture industry offers to this country. I did 50 speaking events last year and at every place it’s the same — they all have that value system that makes agriculture great: faith, family and farming,” Radke said. “We just have to be willing to talk about it.”



American economy driven by U.S. food, agriculture

| Posted on April 6, 2023

By Emmy Powell
Communications Specialist

A new report highlights the significance of the U.S. food and agriculture sectors in feeding the American economy.

A study commissioned by 25 food and agricultural groups, including the American Farm Bureau Federation (AFBF), found food and agriculture supports more than 46 million jobs and contributes over $8 trillion to the U.S. economy each year, while exports contribute another $202 billion.

The total food and agriculture industry’s economic impact is up 22% since 2019.

“American agriculture is really the foundation of our lives and our economy. This study reveals the numbers, and maybe some of the spirit, of this one indispensable sector,” Roger Cryan, AFBF chief economist, said.

Millions of farmers, ranchers, agricultural laborers, food scientists, food inspectors, factory workers, truck drivers, grocery store employees and countless other Americans link together in the food supply chain every day to bring the food grown on U.S. farms and ranches to grocery stores, restaurants and dinner tables across the nation.

The report, Feeding the Economy, considered direct economic impact, supplier economic impact and induced economic impact. The study provides data on jobs, wages and economic output. It also illustrates the food and agriculture sector’s impact on local and nationwide economic activity.

The results also underscore this sector’s resilience and reliability amid unprecedented global and domestic crises, including the commodity shock following the war in Ukraine and continued supply chain disruptions.

The seventh annual report shows the U.S. food and agriculture sector directly provides $927 billion in wages and is vital to rural communities across America.

The strength and growth highlighted in this year’s report reinforce that agriculture is evolving and innovating to meet the demands of the 21st Century. Land use for agriculture decreased by 28% while land productivity grew nearly four times and labor productivity grew more than 10 times, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture. In fact, agriculture’s total factor productivity growth rate is among the highest of U.S. sectors.

In Texas, food and agriculture supports an estimated 4.25 million jobs with an economic impact of $733.5 billion annually.

Agriculture Technology-as-a-Service Global Market Report 2023: Decreasing Agriculture Workforce Drives Demand

| Posted on March 29, 2023

Dublin, March 28, 2023 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- The "Agriculture Technology-as-a-Service Market - A Global and Regional Analysis: Focus on Product, Application, and Country Analysis - Analysis and Forecast, 2022-2027" report has been added to's offering.

The global agriculture technology-as-a-service (ATaaS) market was valued at $1,606.9 million in 2022 and is expected to reach $3,438.6 million in 2027, with a CAGR of 16.43% during 2022-2027.

The growth in the global agriculture technology-as-a-service market is expected to be driven by growing demand for precision agriculture solutions from small-scale farmers.

Market Lifecycle Stage

Agriculture technology-as-a-service (ATaaS) is in its growth stage. Farmers are increasingly looking for more advanced and efficient solutions to manage their operations, resulting in an increase in demand for ATaaS. This has led to growth in the number of companies offering ATaaS solutions, as well as an increase in investment in the industry.

ATaaS will continue to grow as the market matures, leading to more innovative solutions and increased adoption by farmers and agribusinesses. As new technologies and customer needs emerge, the ATaaS market is likely to continue growing and developing.


  • Agricultural technology-as-a-service (ATaaS) helps farmers streamline their operations and increase efficiency by automating tasks such as crop monitoring, soil analysis, and resource management. This can result in improved yields and lower costs.
  • ATaaS provides farmers with detailed and real-time information about their crops, enabling them to make informed decisions about planting, fertilizing, and pest control. This results in a more precise and targeted application of resources, leading to higher yields and a reduction in waste.

Workshop series to focus on workforce development in animal agriculture | Posted on March 7, 2023

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — The applicant pool for high-demand livestock production occupations is shrinking, lacks diversity and often falls short in critical animal husbandry skills, according to an interdisciplinary team of educators and faculty from Penn State Extension and Penn State’s College of Agricultural Sciences. The team is investigating methods to improve skill sets and increase diversity in the livestock production workforce, with the goal of eliminating workforce barriers and enhancing secure food animal production.

As part of this work, Penn State Extension is offering a free monthly workshop series, from March to May, focused on workforce development in animal agriculture. The first and third workshops will be held virtually. Participants can attend the second session in person or via Zoom.

“These workshops focus on the critical issues around developing and retaining a modern workforce that will help feed a growing population,” said John Boney, Vernon E. Norris Faculty Fellow of Poultry Nutrition and assistant professor of poultry science.

The series is designed for agricultural and livestock employers, educators and faculty, high school teachers, mentors or aspiring mentors, and agricultural human resource managers.

“Recruiting, hiring and retaining skilled workers is essential,” Boney said. “One of the best kept secrets is the number of good-paying jobs available. We need to change the narrative and showcase the opportunities for long-term career success in animal agriculture.”

The first webinar, “People, Performance and Productivity: Mentoring to Retain Workers,” will take place from 1:15 p.m. to 2:15 p.m. March 22.

This session will explore best practices for establishing a mentoring program. Mentorship opportunities demonstrate to employees that the company is actively investing in their careers, organizers noted, adding that workers who feel connected to their peers and supported in meeting their career goals are more likely to feel engaged in their work and stay at their company.

Attendees can learn about formal versus informal mentoring; the impact of mentoring programs on hiring and retention; components of a mentoring program; and mentor selection and training.

The second workshop, “People, Performance and Productivity: Using Workforce Development Practices to Enhance Business Performance and Longevity,” will occur from 11 a.m. to noon April 13 in 106 Animal, Veterinary, and Biomedical Sciences Building on Penn State’s University Park campus.

During this seminar, participants will hear about workforce development career connection strategies for diverse populations that enhance business performance and longevity. The key speaker will be Mark Threeton, professor of education and associate director of the Professional Development Center for Career and Technical Education within the Workforce Education and Development Program in Penn State’s College of Education. Threeton consults, teaches and conducts research in the areas of technical teacher education and workplace learning and performance.

The session will cover recruitment and retention in the workforce; career connection strategies; field-based work experience programs; and research-based development practices that enhance business performance and longevity.

The third event, “People, Performance and Productivity: Strategies to Hire and Retain a Strong Workforce in Animal Agriculture,” is scheduled for 1 p.m. to 2 p.m. May 11. Experts will discuss hiring and retention practices. Speakers include Emily Balcetis, associate professor of psychology at New York University, and Brian Ballard, corporate recruiter at Cal-Maine Foods.

This series is sponsored by a Penn State College of Agricultural Sciences Strategic Networks and Initiatives Program grant. This program is designed to capitalize on the collective expertise within the college and to invest in faculty-driven initiatives that will strengthen existing programs and promote new interdisciplinary research.

The research team includes project investigators from animal science, veterinary science and rural sociology. Based on information from the workshop series, the team will develop on-farm interview questions to gather preliminary data from workers and employers, with an eye toward seeking a large-scale, external grant to expand the project.

Penn State Extension offers this workshop series free of charge, but participants must register by March 20 for the first webinar, by April 13 for the second workshop and by May 11 for the third event.

Inflation Reduction Act increases agricultural conservation program funds

| Posted on August 22, 2022

The Inflation Reduction Act recently signed into law by President Biden not only extended the Affordable Care Act, but also infused funding to several agricultural conservation programs familiar to producers. Economists with the Agricultural and Food Policy Center at Texas A&M University in College Station have compiled a briefing paper evaluating the effects of the bill on agriculture.

“The bottom line is that there is an enormous infusion of funding for conservation programs,” said Bart Fischer, Ph.D., food policy center co-director in the Department of Agricultural Economics of the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences, Bryan-College Station. “Much discretion about the distribution of that funding is left to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, so we will have to see how they implement the program before we know how everything will work.”

| Posted on August 17, 2022

One week after lawsuits challenging a Massachusetts law similar to the Proposition 12 law in California were stayed, a federal court issued a separate stay order to block enforcement of Question 3 for now.

The United States District Court for the District of Massachusetts granted a joint motion stay enforcement of Question 3 until 30 days after the U.S. Supreme Court decides a similar legal challenge to California’s Prop 12 rules, according to court filings. Question 3 — originally passed in 2016 —  prohibits the sale of whole pork meat in Massachusetts that come from hogs that were raised in enclosures that do not meet new Massachusetts state standards.

It was scheduled to go into effect Aug. 15 and was the subject of a lawsuit filed Aug. 3 by the National Pork Producers Council (NPPC) and the Massachusetts Restaurant Association, among other related regional agencies. The plaintiffs last week agreed to hold off action on their suit until the NPPC’s challenge to California’s Prop 12 is heard by the U.S. Supreme Court.

The highest court in the land ended its session as scheduled at the end of June and is expected to resume work on Oct. 3, the traditional first Monday in October. The NPPC case against Prop 12 currently is scheduled to be argued in Washington, D.C., on Oct. 11, according to the latest court documents released this summer. However, there is no firm timetable on when any decisions by the Supreme Court on the Prop 12 issue can be expected.

California restaurants sue over law they say will drive up cost of bacon, pork | Posted on December 27, 2021

A coalition of California restaurants and retailers is suing the state to block a law scheduled to take effect Jan. 1 that they argue could drive up the cost of bacon and create supply chain backlogs for the pork industry. The lawsuit in Sacramento Superior Court centers on Proposition 12, a 2018 ballot measure that prohibits the production or importation of pork raised from pigs kept in confined spaces. It requires in part that breeding sows be kept in a space no smaller than 24 square feet.

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