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Future of Agriculture

Welcome to the Future of Agriculture Podcast with Tim Hammerich. This show explores the people, companies, and ideas shaping the future of agribusiness. If you are curious about innovations in AgTech, rural entrepreneurship, agricultural sustainability, and food security, this is the show for you! For more details on the guests featured on this show, visit the blog at www.FutureOfAg.com. Or, to learn more about career opportunities in agriculture, visit www.AgGrad.com Make sure you’re subscribed so you can catch another fascinating ag innovator next week!
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Now displaying: May, 2020
May 27, 2020

Playing with puppies and kittens most of the day and selflessly saving any and all helpless animals in between are the common perception of being a veterinarian that many people pictured as a child. James Herriot painted a beloved picture of adventure and fun that many fell in love with. I’d be remiss to admit that occasionally this does describe the job but unfortunately, the more common reality faced by veterinarians is a lot less rosy. 

 

Dr. Judson Vasconcelos is the head of the Veterinary and Consumer Affairs Team at Merck Animal Health. Merck has committed to performing a study in US veterinarians every few years “to monitor wellbeing and mental health of US veterinarians.” Having practiced as a veterinarian for years in Brazil, Dr. Vasconcelos can not only share the most recent study that illustrates the struggle many veterinarians are facing but also relates to them through his own experiences.

 

“We want to have a good idea of what’s going on with veterinarians based on the trends that we’ve seen in the past. We want to have a good understanding of wellbeing and where they are from a mental health standpoint. We want to benchmark some of (that) data with some of the findings from other scientists...” - Dr. Judson Vasconcelos

 

Through a partnership with the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA), they were able to analyze 3000 answers from a survey sent out to practicing veterinarians in the United States. This comprehensive survey illustrated many different concerns, however, the team was able to identify three main concerns affecting the veterinary profession today and have labeled them the “Three S’s.”

 

 

  • Stress
  • Student Debt
  • Suicide Rate

 

 

These three main issues all contribute to a multifactorial result of reduced quality of life and low job satisfaction for veterinary professionals. Factors like a poor work-life balance and high expectations of customers magnify the gravity and significance of the Three S’s. Surprisingly to most, “52% of the veterinarians do not recommend the profession.” Reasons such as debt, low salary, stress, and difficult clients are all cited as causes for this finding. Veterinarians are 2.7 times more likely to attempt suicide, a number which is significantly higher than their human medicine counterparts. However, identifying these concerns is only useful if something is done to ease the burden they present.

May 20, 2020

Blockchain. A word that has been overhyped and yet still becoming more realized every day. Bridie Ohlsson joins us and is the Founder of Geora, a protocol for blockchain applications in agriculture. Bridie’s career with blockchain began with AgriDigital when the world was discovering and getting excited about the potential applications of blockchain. Bridie shares what the goals of any blockchain company were at that time.

 

“So you needed to be kind of an open and fairly non-competitive technology to encourage people to come in and experiment and work together and integrate their systems and share data.” - Bridie Ohlsson

 

Where AgriDigital provided access to blockchain for producers, Geora was formed to build on that and provide the next step. Geora’s protocol has isolated what data needs to be retained on blockchain and what data while significant to have for logistical reasons does not need to be tied to the product on blockchain. Bridie describes Geora as an “infrastructure” where they “work out where there’s a valuable data point.”

 

“We’re really trying to build tools, digital tools, that are really useful for ag so there is adoption...” - Bridie Ohlsson

 

Bridie expects that these “data rich assets” will lead to financial gain for producers. At the moment her company is trying “to get a really solid base of digital record keeping systems.” She admits that blockchain is not necessary to acquire that data but if the goal is to monetize that data then blockchain will be needed, so the technology is being employed now. This will ultimately provide another avenue for people or companies to invest in agriculture with real time access to the farmer’s data and all to the farmer’s benefit. The farmer will have absolute control over their data and how and when it is shared. This focus on agriculture amplifies the impact the protocol can have for its participants.

 

“If we can get participants who work in similar spaces, they’re going to generate value for each other quicker, which is a good test of the network effect and the network value.” Bridie Ohlsson.

This Week on The Future of Agriculture Podcast:

  • Meet Bridie Ohlsson, founder of Geora, a blockchain protocol company
  • Explore the next steps being taken in blockchain and what they may mean for the industry
  • Learn about some of the financial implications of blockchain  

 

Share the Ag-Love!

Thanks for joining us on the Future of Agriculture Podcast – your spot for valuable information, content, and interviews with industry leaders throughout the agricultural space! If you enjoyed this week’s episode, please subscribe on Apple Podcasts and leave your honest feedback. Don’t forget to share it with your friends on your favorite social media spots! And be sure to join the new Future of Agriculture Membership for even more valuable information on the future of ag.

Learn more about AgGrad by visiting:

Future of Agriculture Website

AgGrad Website

AgGrad on Twitter

AgGrad on Facebook

AgGrad on LinkedIn

AgGrad on Instagram

 

 

 

May 13, 2020

We are going back to the farm today. Zach Johnson, the YouTuber Minnesota Millennial Farmer and Mitchell Hora, farmer and founder of Continuum Ag, join us today. These two co-host the Fieldwork Podcast, “a podcast for farmers, from farmers.” Fieldwork Podcast focuses on sustainable farming practices, their environmental impact and how to make them profitable. For Mitchell, Continuum Ag specifically supplies health data analytics and does consulting for farmers. Mitchell and Zach farm 500 miles apart but find common ground in adopting soil health principles and are enjoying the opportunity to share that with other farmers.

 

“I think everybody has the opportunity to improve. I think it’s just more so looking outside of the box and looking holistically, but there’s a lot of ways to do this.” - Mitchell Hora

 

Mitchell draws attention to the fact that being more sustainable can involve different applications of soil health protocols on different operations. This isn’t a call for “one size fits all” in farming. He highlights impacting the carbon footprint in agriculture, water quality, water use, and nutrient density to name a few options to focus on.The Fieldwork Podcast’s goal is to “utilize some of these other agronomic sustainable type principles to be more profitable.” Mitchell is very clear that any changes need to “drive profitability” and be a sound “business decision.” Zach discusses that one barrier to fully adopting all of these soil health practices rapidly on his farm has been the amount of moisture and weather conditions in Minnesota. His dad attempted some no-till in the 1980’s but didn’t find success at that time.

 

“I think now we understand more about the soil. We have better technology, maybe better machinery to try to understand really what it is we’re doing and try to achieve those results.” - Zach Johnson

 

Zach is excited to start trying some new soil health practices including cover crops but admittedly hasn’t found the opportunity yet. Both Zach and Mitchell discuss how difficult it can be to initiate new practices and wait for the results to become evident. This is why ultimately every decision they make is backed by increasing profitability and making their farm as successful as it can be both for the environment and for themselves.

 

“(Fieldwork Podcast) is a great educational tool for farmers and for non-farmers to learn and to support each other and to realize and understand that it isn’t so easy and we’re all trying to figure this out to make sure that we move forward progressively.” - Zach Johnson

 

 

This Week on The Future of Agriculture Podcast:

  • Meet Mitchell Hora, farmer and co-founder of https://continuum.ag Continuum Ag
  • Meet Zach Johnson, the Minnesota Millennial Farmer
  • Learn about their podcast Fieldwork Podcast in which they explore improving soil health practices with the bottom line in mind
  • Hear about Zach’s experiences with Youtube notoriety and the impact it is having on his audience

Founder Spotlight: Luke Silinski

  • Founder of Agtech Steam
  • Luke’s mission is to help other rural kids get interested in coding and provide them with resources so that they can develop their skills in a practical way
  • Specific content is sent that would appeal to young learners and their interests
  • Luke encourages anyone who wants to learn to code to take it slow, find a game or program you are interested in and explore.

Share the Ag-Love!

Thanks for joining us on the Future of Agriculture Podcast – your spot for valuable information, content, and interviews with industry leaders throughout the agricultural space! If you enjoyed this week’s episode, please subscribe on Apple Podcasts and leave your honest feedback. Don’t forget to share it with your friends on your favorite social media spots! And be sure to join the new Future of Agriculture Membership for even more valuable information on the future of ag.

Learn more about AgGrad by visiting:

Future of Agriculture Website

AgGrad Website

AgGrad on Twitter

AgGrad on Facebook

AgGrad on LinkedIn

AgGrad on Instagram

 

 

May 6, 2020

Kellee James joins us today to discuss what it takes to build a platform as co-founder and CEO of Mercaris, a market information service and online trading platform for identity preserved agricultural commodities.

 

“We’re a market data and information service. We are also an online trading platform but we have chosen to focus on a specific part of the ag supply chain, and that is identity preserved ag commodities.” - Kellee James

 

Mercaris provides price discovery while allowing customers a procurement tool within a very specific field in agriculture through trades and auctions. Only 15% of their revenue is derived from trading fees. Most of their revenue comes from the sale of data. There is very limited tracking in imports and exports with these specific commodities so creating a data marketplace creates real advantage for their customers as well as a way to connect with vendors who may be interested in their products.

 

“You’ve got to establish yourself as the marketplace. So getting out ahead of others that are trying to do the same thing, I think is important.” - Kellee James

 

Kellee didn’t grow up on a farm. Her family is originally from New York but she fell in love with agriculture and pursued that industry in college. She found an opportunity when she learned that farmers could sell credits based on environmentally friendly practices.

 

“I was hooked. It was a way to provide real dollars in the pockets of producers who were undertaking something that had an environmental benefit. I liked the appeal of using a market mechanism to put a price and a value on something that we all need in society.” - Kellee James

 

Kellee highlights that the goal in these marketplaces is not to spend the most money to reduce emissions. The measure of success is to create an environment of supply and demand so that the “market finds the lowest cost reductions.” But how do we get so many different sectors on board and what incentivizes them to carry through with their promises?

 

“It’s a tough problem for humanity because it does require collective action and last time I looked, collective action is still best accomplished by the federal government.” - Kellee James

 

This Week on The Future of Agriculture Podcast:

  • Meet Kellee James, CEO and co-founder of Mercaris
  • Explore what the Mercaris platform looks like and what it means for its customers
  • Learn about the structure behind commodity markets and what it takes to create one

Share the Ag-Love!

Thanks for joining us on the Future of Agriculture Podcast – your spot for valuable information, content, and interviews with industry leaders throughout the agricultural space! If you enjoyed this week’s episode, please subscribe on Apple Podcasts and leave your honest feedback. Don’t forget to share it with your friends on your favorite social media spots! And be sure to join the new Future of Agriculture Membership for even more valuable information on the future of ag.

Learn more about AgGrad by visiting:

Future of Agriculture Website

AgGrad Website

AgGrad on Twitter

AgGrad on Facebook

AgGrad on LinkedIn

AgGrad on Instagram

 

 

 

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