Farm Monitor – November 30, 2019

Farm Monitor – November 30, 2019


[Announcer]
This is Farm Monitor. For over 50-years, your source for agribusiness
news and features from around the southeast and across the country, focusing on one of
the nation’s top industries, Agriculture. The Farm Monitor is produced by one of the
largest general farm organizations, the Georgia Farm Bureau. Now, here are your hosts, Ray D’Alessio and
Kenny Burgamy. [RAY]
ALRIGHT, WE’LL PULL UP A COUCH, CLEAR YOUR MINDS BECAUSE THIS MY FRIENDS IS ONE
OF THOSE SHOWS THAT YOU’RE GONNA WANT TO PAY CLOSE ATTENTION TO. [KENNY]
YEAH, TODAY WE ARE DIVING INTO TWO OF THE BIGGER ISSUES FACING THE AG INDUSTRY RIGHT
NOW, THAT IS HEMP AND GLYPHOSATE, THE POPULAR HERBICIDE COMMONLY FOUND IN PRODUCTS LIKE
ROUNDUP. IS IT SAFE TO USE AND! IS IT REALLY A CARCINOGEN
LIKE THE MANY LAWSUITS AND TV ADDS CLAIM? TO FIND THAT ANSWER, THE MONITOR TRAVELED
TO WASHINGTON D.C. AND MET WITH AN EPA EXECUTIVE WHO SHARED YEARS OF RESEARCH WITH US ABOUT
THE POPULAR WEED KILLER. IT’S A CONVERSATION YOU NEED TO HEAR FOR YOURSELF
BEFORE DRAWING CONCLUSIONS ON YOUR OWN. [RAY]
AND AS FAR AS INDUSTRIAL HEMP, IT’S NOT JUST COMING TO GEORGIA, IT’S ALREADY HERE. YEAH! A LOT OF CURIOS MINDS WANT TO KNOW – CAN IT
THRIVE IN GEORGIA, HOW WILL I KNOW IF I’M GROWING HEMP AND NOT SOMETHING ELSE. YOU’RE GONNA GET TO TOUR A UGA HEMP PLOT WITH
ME AND LEARN FOR YOURSELF THE IN’S AND OUT’S OF THE PLANT. CALL IT HEMP-101 IF YOU WILL. [KENNY]
PLUS, SOMETHING ELSE THAT’S NEW, AN EVENT THE FOLKS AT THE GEORGIA NATIONAL FAIRGROUNDS
SAID WAS A LONG TIME COMING. YA LIKE ANTIQUES? THEN STICK AROUND. THESE STORIES AND SO MUCH MORE START RIGHT
NOW ON THE FARM MONITOR. [KENNY]
NO DOUBT YOU’VE READ THE HEADLINES AND SEEN THE ADDS ON TELEVISION. IT’S A CONTROVERSY THAT DOESN’T SEEM TO BE
GOING AWAY ANY TIME SOON. TALKING OF COURSE ABOUT THE POPULAR HERBICIDE
GLYPHOSATE. A MAJORITY OF THE FARMERS WE SPOKE WITH SAY
THEY’VE BEEN USING IT FOR YEARS AND HAVE ABSOLUTELY NO HEALTH CONCERNS WHATSOEVER NOR HAVE THEY
EVEN EXPERIENCED HEALTH ISSUES FROM USING THE PRODUCT. OTHERS HOWEVER CLAIM IT WAS THE SOURCE OF
THEIR CANCER. TO DATE IT’S ESTIMATED THAT 42-THOUSAND CLAIMS
HAVE BEEN FILED AGAINST THE MAKER OF GLYPHOSATE, BAYER. LAWSUITS THE EPA CLAIM HAVE NO MERIT. RECENTLY, THE MONITOR TRAVELED TO WASHINGTON
D.C. AND MET WITH AN EPA EXECUTIVE WHO SHARED THE AGENCY’S FINDINGS ABOUT GLYPHOSATE AND
WHY THEY FEEL, IT’S AS SAFE AS YOUR STANDARD TABLE SALT. [Dramatic Music]
[News Report] A San Francisco jury on Friday found Monsanto
liable in a lawsuit filed by a man who says their product caused his cancer. [News Report]
To breaking news, on a closely watched lawsuit against Monsanto. [News Report]
A judge has issued a preliminary ruling that would throw out the huge jury verdict against
Monsanto and lead to a retrial. [Alexandra Dunn – EPA Asst. Administrator, Chemical Safety and Pollution]
Certainly, in EPA’s opinion, we have done an extensive, extensive, both human health
and ecological study. And we look at hundreds of active ingredients
every year, here at EPA. We have many, many, dozens of expert scientists,
and they feel very confident in the information that’s available on…on the impacts of glyphosate. So, I have not heard from our career expert
scientists that they have concerns with this product. [Kenny]
Back in April, EPA officially announced that glyphosate is not a carcinogen. Has there been pushback from that? What kind of feedback have you gotten from
the American people and producers and farmers in the ag community? [Dunn]
Well, EPA’s finding is consistent with a finding that we have made many times over. We have looked at over 2,600 studies. And again, we have a deep bench of scientific
expertise here at the agency. These findings were not just made recently. They represent the culmination of over a decade
of research on glyphosate. So we have a comprehensive literature survey. We have looked at more scientific studies
than almost any other nation. And our finding that glyphosate is not a human
carcinogen when used according to the label, used properly, is consistent with the finding
of many other nations. [Kenny]
Can farmers and those using this find management measures the EPA suggests and the best usage
and the way to use this in their fields, around water, around families and so forth? [Dunn]
Well, that’s a great question. So whenever EPA looks at any pesticide and
how it’s used out there in the environment, whether it’s a homeowner or in large-scale
agriculture, we always want to look at both the human health impacts and the environmental
impacts. When it comes to glyphosate, again, EPA did
not find that when used according to the label properly, any human health risk, particularly
as a carcinogen. We did not find that. We did, however, find that glyphosate, because
it is an herbicide, it will kill a weed. So for example, when you mention water, if
glyphosate is sprayed over water, where it’s not maybe supposed to be going, it could perhaps
have effect on an aquatic plant, ya know plants in the water. So what we do propose are what we call management
measures. We want to make sure that glyphosate, particularly
not the homeowners, but people that are using it large scale for..for agriculture, are looking
at wind speed, droplet size, buffer zones. We want to make sure that we’re being protective
of what we call off-target impacts. We want that glyphosate to go where that weed
is and stay there. And there are lots of ways to do that safely. [KENNY]
AGAIN, PART-1 OF OUR CONVERSATION WITH EPA ASSISTANT ADMINISTRATOR ALEXANDRA DUNN, TALKING
ABOUT THE NUMEROUS CASE STUDIES THAT EPA HAS CONDUCTED INVOLVING THE WEED KILLER GLYPHOSATE. DUNN STATING THAT ACCORDING TO THEIR RESEARCH,
“Glyphosate is not a human carcinogen when used properly and according to the label.” LATER IN THE PROGRAM, WE’LL SHOW YOU PART-2
OF THAT CONVERSATION. IN IT,
DUNN ADDRESSES THE MANY NEGATIVE CAMPAIGNS AGAINST GLYPHOSATE
AND THE ADVICE SHE HAS FOR FARMERS MOVING FORWARD. [RAY]
ON MAY10TH, GOVERNOR BRIAN KEMP MADE HISTORY WHEN HE SIGNED A BILL ALLOWING GEORGIA TO
BECOME THE 42ND STATE TO LEGALIZE THE PRODUCTION OF HEMP. AND WHILE THE GEORGIA DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE
STIL AWAITS FINAL APPROVAL FROM USDA ON THE PARTICULARS IN ORDER TO GROW HEMP HERE IN
GEORGIA, UGA IS ALREADY MAKING HEADWAY BY GATHERING RESEARCH FROM THE STATE’S FIRST
INDUSTRIAL HEMP FIELD. A SMALL PLOT IN WATKINSVILLE, OVERSEEN BY
HORTICULTURIST TIM COOLONG, AND SOMETHING THAT YOURS TRULY WAS GIVEN A TOUR OF RECENTLY
FOR EDUCATIONAL PURPOSES. [Ray]
So Tim, essentially, we’re only about six months into this UGA hemp experiment, if you
want to call it that. What have you learned so far? Is it too early to really kinda say, yay or
nay, or this is something that farmers are gonna like here in Georgia? [Tim Coolong/UGA Horticulturist]
Well I don’t think it’s necessarily too early. I mean, we have gotten some pretty good yields
in terms of biomass off of our first harvest and I so do think that this crop is something
that Georgia farmers could look at as a means to diversify their operations. In terms of CBD and the chemistry side of
things, we’re still waiting to do some lab analyses. But in terms of biomass, I feel that we’ve
got some pretty good data at least to, that we feel comfortable moving forward. [Ray]
One of the things when you first come out here that kinda strikes you is the smell. Anybody who’s ever smelled marijuana or a
marijuana plant, it smells like a marijuana plant. It looks exactly like a marijuana plant. But there is the vast difference and that’s
the THC and I think here in Georgia, in order to grow the hemp or call it hemp product,
has to be 0.3% THC. How do you regulate that or how do you grow
a plant like that? [Coolong]
So the basis of most everything is genetics and so the plants that are grown for industrial
hemp purposes have been selected to have total THC levels below 0.3% and usually that’s sampled
in the flower material. And so, when farmers grow this crop in Georgia
in the future, the Department of Ag will regulate what they can grow and they’ll be some testing
that goes along with that. So they’ll be tested regularly to make sure
that those plants are below that legal threshold. [Ray]
Are you happy with the research so far? What you’ve found? [Coolong]
I think so. It’s been interesting. It’s confirmed some things and brought some
new things to light. Definitely being a new crop where we don’t
have the last hundred years‚Äô worth of research data to draw upon, there’s a lot
of unanswered questions that we’re still gonna have. [Ray]
Yeah and when you look at this crop, this particular crop we’re standing on from high
above, you see little vast differences. What would we be looking at there? [Coolong]
So the reason you’re seeing differences out here are because we put out 24 different varieties
that we got fairly late in the season and so we expected, honestly most of them, not
to do that well because of how late it was planted and of course, some of them as you
can see out here, did not do very well. They got about a foot tall and flowered and
that was it. But then others material, such as what’s right
here in front of us, actually flowered but continued to grow and put on quite a bit of
biomass. [Ray]
Can you give us a little bit of an anatomy of the plant itself, I mean, are you that
well versed in hemp yet? [Coolong]
Well, I would say, you know what you’re looking for as a farmer is you’re growing, if you’re
growing for the CBD market, basically you want flower material and so that’s all these
flower buds here and these are all female plants out here and so these are non-fertilized
female flowers. You don’t want seed; you don’t want male plants
to fertilize them. That’ll slow down growth. And so basically, you’re growing this plant
for this flower material. When you harvest it, you’ll take the plant
and you’ll dry it down and you’ll strip this flower material from it and that’s what would
be sold to a processor to make CBD and so forth. [RAY]
ALRIGHT, SO THERE YA HAVE IT, A BRIEF SYNOPSIS OF HEMP AND ITS POTENTIAL HERE IN GEORGIA. NOW, TWO POINTS OF CLARIFICATION, #1, The
2018 Farm Bill defines hemp as the cannabis plant with a THC content below .3%. That will be uniform across the country. Secondly, the Georgia Department of AG won’t
necessarily be telling farmers what varieties to grow because at this point
there’s nothing in their regulations or USDA’s regulations that addresses approved varieties. That is according to a department official. Now, they also say that fields will need to
be tested prior to harvest to ensure the plant’s THC content is within the legal limit. STILL TO COME , PART-2 OF KENNY’S INTERVIEW
WITH EPA ASSISTANT ADMINISTRATOR, ALEXANDRA DUNN. ONE OF THE QUESTION’S POSED TO HER. WHAT CAN FARMERS DO TO HELP DISPEL MISCONCEPTIONS
OR MISINFORMATION ABOUT GLYPHOSATE [Music] [Music]
[RAY] Like so many other industries, agriculture
has come a long way in terms of technology and equipment. And although advancements are great, it’s
important that we never forget the past and where we’ve come from. That was the goal in Perry, as the Georgia
National Fairgrounds and Agri-center hosted its inaugural antique ag show. John Holcomb reports. [John Holcomb]
Agriculture has been around since the dawn of time, and of course, since the beginning,
the equipment and technology has come a long way, but with such a separation from ag, many
think the equipment farmers use now is what they always have used, which is why the Georgia
national fairgrounds and agricenter decided to put on their first ever antique ag show. [Philip Gentry – Agriculture & Youth
Director, GNFA] Here at the Ag Center, we do a lot of things. Anything from this weekend, we have a Gypsy
Horse show, we have a Saddlebred Horse Show, we have a rabbit show, and a car event. So, we pride ourselves on being diverse, and
we have never had an antique tractor show. We feel like it’s important. Part of our mission is to promote agriculture
and be a place where people can do business, agriculture. And we felt like it was important for us to
reach back into our history, into our roots, and offer something educational to teach everybody
about the way we used to do it. [John]
The room was filled with antique tractors that collectors brought from all over the
U.S. Each tractor you would look at, the detail
put into restoring them was amazing, which shows just how passionate the collectors are,
especially when some have been collecting them since before they were a teenager. [Danny Norman – Exhibitor]
I bought my first Model A Ford when I was eleven years old and I still have it. And as a result of that, I think it just gave
me a connection with antiquities and I had an interest in tractors. My father had a farm and we were able to have
a little small tractor and it just that, that interest just blossomed. I’m probably not like the typical collector. I have thousands of pieces. I have hundreds of tractors, hundreds of cars,
and that’s not, that’s not normal. And I think you’re better off not to have
that many, but to me I’m a preservationist. I’m trying to preserve some of this stuff
for the future. I’m not trying to hoard it. I’m not trying to corner the market. I just think that there’s an importance in
preserving our history and understanding kind of what sacrifices were made for us to get
where we are today. [John]
In persevering them, he hopes to show younger generations what was once used so that they
can appreciate agriculture’s history. [Danny]
I think we have not the appreciation that we really should for what our forefathers
had to endure to get us where we are. The methods of planting and harvesting are
just literally ride down the road in an automobile. All of the things that advance so much over
the years. And to me it’s important to preserve that
chronology. To be able to say, “This is kind of where
we started and these are the improvements were made and those improvements were made
by man”. [John]
One of the other interesting things at the show was a peanut thrashing, in which they
demonstrated how peanuts where thrashed using equipment that would have been used in the
early nineteen hundreds. Just one more way they were showing how far
we’ve come. [Philip Gentry]
We want to open eyes. We want to make an impact in that if we can
find somebody and create interest in agriculture. So, it may peak some interest in agriculture,
something that they haven’t seen before, because these exhibits have come from all over, from
Florida, from North Carolina, from Minnesota, one from Texarkana. So, these are collections that you don’t see
because they’re hidden in their barns. We’re trying to peak interest. [John]
Reporting in Perry for the Farm Monitor, I’m John Holcomb. [KENNY]
We all know that Alma is Georgia’s blueberry capital, which is why having readily available
packing and distribution centers in the area is so important. And one of those, Alma Pak, provides an added
service to the growers. Damon Jones has more. [Alma, GA / Damon Jones – Reporting]
While Georgia might be known as the Peach State, it’s actually blueberries that have
dominated fruit production in recent years. And no community in the state is more synonymous
with blueberries than Alma. Where one facility is owned and operated by
the farmers themselves. [Leon Allen – President, Alma Pak]
Alma Pak, you know, started with the idea that the shareholders that are involved with
Alma Pak and own Alma Pak are blueberry growers. So, that is how it started and why it still
exists today, because you know, the shareholders that own this company actually are blueberry
growers as well. [Damon]
So, they know the importance of keeping their fruit viable year-round, which is the main
reason for this operation at the facility. [Ben Swain – Production Manager, Alma
Pak] We package retail frozen fruits. Walmart is our primary customer, Great Value
brand. And we just, we take bulk frozen fruits and
package them into small, retail packages. [Damon]
However, getting them from the field to package ready is not as simple as it sounds, as each
blueberry is individually cleaned and frozen before they can hit the shelves. [Leon]
The process of freezing the blueberries is very extensive. It’s a lot of equipment, a lot of cleaning,
you know, to get the blueberries to a finished end where they’re frozen, clean, and ready
for a retail setting. [Damon]
And consumers can rest assured they will be getting the safest, highest quality produce
on the market. [Ben]
Food safety is our highest priority. The polybag production is considered a ready
to eat product. So, we have to make sure there’s no contaminations,
no foreign materials. We want to insure we are delivering the high
quality, very safe product for the consumers. [Rebecca Arrington – Compliance Coordinator,
Alma Pak] In addition to the regulatory agencies, we
have third party audits that we have to comply with per customer requirements and customer
audits as well. So, it’s fairly extensive and very extensive,
the requirement we meet just to get the blueberries out to the consumers. [Damon]
Not only does this facility provide the growers with everything they need post-harvest, it
also has the added benefit of being right in their back yard. [Leon]
Number one, we’re local and we’re, you know, able to freeze and pack the blueberries and
market whether it be fresh or frozen, you know, without having to ship them to other
locations outside the state which is very expensive to do. [Damon]
Reporting from Bacon County, I’m Damon Jones for the Farm Monitor. [Music]
[KENNY] DAMON, THANKS SO MUCH. NOW UP NEXT,
PART-2 OF OUR CONVERSATION WITH EPA ABOUT GLYPHOSATE. THEIR REACTION TO THE NEGATIVE TV ADDS AND
WHAT THEY SAY FARMERS CAN DO TO HELP ADVOCATE FOR THE MANY BENEFITS OF THE PRODUCT. [Music] [KENNY]
AT THE TOP OF THE SHOW, WE BROUGHT YOU PART-1 OF OUR INTERVIEW WITH
EPA ASSISTANT ADMINISTRATOR ALEXANDRA DUNN WHO SPOKE AT GREAT LENGTHS REGARDING THE AGENCIES’
STUDY OF GLYPHOSATE AND WHY THEY SAY IT IS NOT A CARCINOGEN, NOR DOES IT POSE ANY THREAT
TO HUMAN HEALTH. IN PART 2 OF THAT INTERVIEW, DUNN REITERATES
THEIR FINDINGS AND ADDRESSES THE NEGATIVE MEDIA CAMPAIGNS AGANST GLYPHOSATE. [Announcer]
“Farm workers, landscapers and homeowners who have been exposed to the weed killer Roundup,
may be at risk for Non-Hodgkin Lymphoma or other cancers of the blood.”
[Kenny] What do you say to average mom who says, I
see these ads on television, they are scaring me and my family? What is the message you want from the EPA
delivered to homeowners, to soccer moms, to people across America about this? [Alexandra Dunn/EPA Asst. Administrator, Chemical Safety and Pollution]
Well, once again, we stand behind our science. We are science driven agency, and again, all
of the science behind our assessments of glyphosate is available. I am not saying it is an easy look through
two thousand six hundred studies on the, on our website. But we feel very confident in our finding
that when used properly according to the label, glyphosate does not propose any human health
risk whatsoever. We even set food tolerances, so the residues
that can be left on… corn perhaps that might be turned into a cereal product and be on
someone’s breakfast table. You may of heard some studies that trace elements
of glyphosate have been found in cereals. But all of those trace elements are consistent
with the law that is protective, and we take a very conservative approach. We are assuming a quantity of someone being
exposed to that glyphosate in a way that no one would actually, in real life be exposed
to. [Kenny]
So Alex, where do we go from here? Is this a long, drawn out process? is this
battle. not going away. [Dunn]
No, this is really an ongoing discussion that we have, and what we coming back to our home
base, is our scientific finding, and the depth of our scientific expertise. We want to try to avoid getting into the sensational
stories around this chemistry, and really focus again on, what does our science say? And our science says that this product can
be used safely, has been used safely for a long time. What we are going to be doing now, is moving
into the next phase of re-registering glyphosate for use. So what we put out in April this year was
our preliminary re-registration decision. As I said, under the law we take a look at
these pesticides every 15 years to make sure that they are as safe as possible, because
we are always getting new information. And so next spring we will be putting forward
our final decision to re-register glyphosate. [Kenny]
With that being said, what should farmers do in the meantime? Are there members of congress they should
contact to voice their support, that they are able to continue to use this? Should they make comments to the EPA, what
should the be doing? [Dunn]
Well, right now out comment period has closed on our preliminary decision, which is to re-register
glyphosate. Again, not finding human health risk when
used properly according to the label, and then of course, with the ecological buffers
and other restrictions that we think would be appropriate. We did hear from growers about those, we will
always have robust conversations about how much space we need to leave to protect, you
know, to minimize those off target impacts. We know that growers are very responsible
in how they use glyphosate, and all products on their farms. I mean frankly, when I talk to growers, they
emphasize that these products cost them. They are a cost, they are not wasteful with
them, and they really want to use very strategic use of chemical on their products and on their
crops. So what I would urge growers to do is to continue
to tell their story, about how environmentally responsible they are. I mean they really are stewards of the land;
I have had such a privilege in this role to meet with any growers, and for them to talk
about the fact that they work the farm. They work with their father, their grandfather,
their uncles, their own sons and daughters. They really are stewards, and I think that
the more that they tell their story about what it means to responsibly use pesticides
in growing food for a hungry planet is really important. We encourage people to look at EPA as a scientific
expert agency. There are a lot of sources of information,
on the internet, on TV, that frankly aren’t science based. We are science-based agency, our work is transparent. As I said, all those studies that we looked
at, it is a deep dive but if someone would want to go through them they could. We show our work. It is kind of when you were in grade school
and you do a math problem, and your teacher would say, I do not want to know how you go
the answer, I want to see how you did the work. We show our work and we are very transparent
on this matter, and we feel very confident. [KENNY]
ALRIGHT, AND MORE THAN ONCE YOU HEARD ASSISTANT ADMINISTRATOR DUNN SAY HOW ALL THE INFORMATION
ABOUT GLYPHOSATE AND EPA’S FINDINGS IS AVAILABLE ONLINE. YES, A LENGTHY READ BUT VERY INSIGHTFUL. ALL YOU HAVE TO DO IS LOG ON TO EPA.GOV AND
TYPE GLYPHOSATE IN THE SEARCH BAR. [RAY/]
EXCELLENT JOB MY FRIEND, VERY NICELY DONE. THANKYOU. WELL, UNFORTUNATELY, OUR JOB AS A TEAM IS
DONE! THIS PARTICULAR SHOW THAT IS. YOU’RE NOT GETTING RID OF US THAT EASY. [KENNY]
YEAH, BEFORE WE GO HOWEVER, A REMINDER THAT FOR ALL THE LATEST AG INFO REGARDING FOOD,
GREAT RECIPES AND WHAT’S HAPPENING OUT ON THE FARM. BE SURE YOU CHECK OUT OUR TWITTER, FACEBOOK
AND PINTEREST PAGES. YOU‚ÄôLL STAY INFORMED AND SEE WHAT’S
UP IN THE WORLD OF FARMING PLUS, WITH US RIGHT HERE ON THE SHOW. [RAY]
TAKE CARE EVERYBODY. WE’LL SEE YOU NEXT WEEK, RIGHT HERE ON THE
FARM MONITOR. [KENNY]
AS ALWAYS, HAVE A GREAT WEEK [Music]

About the Author: Michael Flood

1 Comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *