Thursday, October 13, 2011
Friday, July 29, 2011
270,000 organic farmers filed a lawsuit in March 30 in an attempt to keep a portion of the world’s food supply organic. The plaintiffs in the case are members of around 60 family farms, seed businesses and organic agricultural organizations.
Led by the Organic Seed Growers and Trade Association, the suit lashes out at Monsanto to keep their engineered Genuity® Roundup Ready® canola seed out of their farms. Organic agriculturalists say that corn, cotton, sugar beets and other crops of theirs have been contaminated by Monsanto‘s seed, and even though the contamination has been largely natural and unintended, Monsanto has been suing hundreds of farmers for infringing on their patent for incidentally using their product.
Not only are organic farmers trying to keep things — well, organic — but now many of them are being forced to throw in the towel as Monsanto unfortunately continues a successful war on the competition by suing indie growers that run organic farms. In recent years, Monsanto has acquired more than 20 of the biggest seed producers and sellers in the country, and The Street reports that they have instituted a policy whereas their customers are forced to use their bionengineered seeds — and purchase them each and every year — lest they want to be blacklisted forever.
The Securities and Exchange Commission launched an investigation into Monsanto’s “customer incentive programs” last year, and the Department of Justice has been probing into possible antirust violation relating to the blacklisting of customers since 2009.
As Monsanto buys out competitors and sues others, last year’s profits went up by 77 percent to $680 million.
US federal Judge Naomi Buchwald will be overseeing the case of Organic Seed Growers & Trade Association, et al. v. Monsanto in a Manhattan court room.
Dan Ravicher, executive director of the Public Patent Foundation (PUBPAT), said in a statement that the case comes down to “whether Monsanto has the right to sue organic farmers for patent infringement if Monsanto’s transgenic seed or pollen should land on their property.”
“It seems quite perverse that an organic farmer contaminated by transgenic seed could be accused of patent infringement, but Monsanto has made such accusations before and is notorious for having sued hundreds of farmers for patent infringement, so we had to act to protect the interests of our clients.”
PUBAT has filed the lawsuit on behalf of the 270,000 plaintiffs. The foundation serves as a not-for-profit legal service organization that is affiliated with the Benjamin N. Cardozo School of Law.
Wednesday, July 27, 2011
Technomic Director Kevin Higar says the movement could be far from reaching its apex. "The key for long-term success is getting the non-user to come on board," says Higar. "One in five individuals is not aware of or has not seen a food truck, and one-third of individuals who are aware of them still haven't purchased from one."
Once consumers gain exposure, explains Higar, they seem to have very positive impressions of the experience. But according to Technomic's research, 70 percent of non-users are still hesitant to purchase food from mobile vehicles, which is probably the biggest current growth challenge.
To help restaurant operators and suppliers understand the trends shaping the food truck movement, Technomic has published the Food Trucks Innovation Report.
Report findings include:
Although social media is an integral part of food truck marketing and patronage, 61 percent of consumers find out about mobile food trucks by "just happening upon them." Of the consumers who do follow food trucks on social media, 84 percent do so at least once a week.
Three quarters of consumers who have come across MFVs located together in a central location make combined food and/or beverage purchases from two or more operators during any given meal occasion. Because of the highly specialized nature of food truck menus, they lend themselves well to this type of multi-concept purchase.
Quick-service restaurants seem to be impacted by mobile food vehicle success more than other traditional restaurants, with 54 percent of respondents saying if they had not bought from a food truck, a quick-service restaurant would have been their most likely destination.
The Food Trucks Innovation Report is an all-in-one guide to the mobile food vehicle landscape. It includes all of the trends, consumer insights, implications and analysis needed to make real-life decisions and strategic plans for working with, competing against or creating your own mobile food vehicles.
Detailed appendices offer extensive contact information for almost 70 food truck and trailer operators, as well as concept profiles and complete menus with pricing information. The report features an analysis of competitive issues facing mobile food vehicles and traditional brick-and-mortar restaurants, as well as a detailed anatomy of the costs, motivations and planning involved in operating a mobile food vehicle.
Wednesday, April 13, 2011
Talking a square land rent deal
Prices for about everything tied to raising a crop these days are as volatile as they've ever been. It can make it tough for landowners and tenants to reach a square land rental agreement. So, how do you do it?
"Market volatility also may contribute to an uneasiness between landlord and tenant in setting a rental rate," says University of Nebraska Extension educator Allan Vyhnalek. "Prices are moving more in 15 minutes, than they did over an entire year when I was growing up. These wild market swings can be overwhelming and stressful."
As a general rule of thumb, regardless of the structure of the rental agreement, the most accurate figure for rent is 25% to 30% of the land's gross income or its equivalent. But, when crop prices are falling, landowners may be reluctant to follow the market down and cut rental rates.
"Cash rents are going up rapidly, 75% to 90% over the last 6 years, and will be slow to go down if/when commodity prices fall," Vyhnalek says. "When landowners get used to having that income, they are not going to want to give that up."
Though that's a natural dynamic in the farm land rental game, Vyhnalek says the best way to avoid issues that can arise from market volatility is to keep communication open, clear and ongoing. "Building a successful landlord-tenant relationship is beneficial to both parties and can lead to a fruitful long-term arrangement. Clear communication will be the key to keeping this relationship strong and cash rents at the proper level," Vyhnalek says.
Here are a few things he recommends weighing when considering such open communication between landowner and tenant:
- Tell the truth
Telling the landlord the yield for the field or whole farm average, then telling the coffee shop the biggest number observed on the yield monitor can lead to misunderstanding. Your credibility may be questioned.
- Communicate expenses (tenants)
In many cases, landlords are former farmers. Depending on how tuned in they are to current production costs, they may know how much current expenses have risen.
- Communicate intentions and expenses (landlords)
Landlords need to communicate too. Tenants cannot possibly know how the landlord wants the land to be managed if that information isn’t communicated. Expectations for fertility management, tillage, mowing ditches, and weed control are examples of information that should be shared. It’s also appropriate for landlords to tell tenants how much land taxes have changed.
"Many tenants may question why they need to share information about their expenses, yields, and the farming practices and choices they've made," Vyhnalek says.
And, don't forget the communication works both ways. In the typical landowner-tenant relationship, most consider the landowner the side with more questions for the tenant regarding how the land will be cared for, what will be planted, etc. But, if you're a renter, don't be afraid to ask questions of your landlord, especially if your future viability depends on it
"I would ask the landowner if they had any questions for me about my methods, etc. I would also ask what they would be expecting from me in the way of upkeep on the land, how long they would rent it to me(indefinitely or a period of time after which they might solicit bids from other farmers and myself), and if I were to improve the land with say tiling would they pay for part of the tiling or not?" says Farmersforthefuture.com member Aaron Braunschweig. "Would they even allow such improvements in the first place?"