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News Update

May 3, 2012

Applications for Sponsorship to 2012 AFA Leaders
Conference Now Available

Agriculture Future of America (AFA) is pleased to announce students can now apply for sponsorship to the 2012 AFA Leaders Conference, Nov. 1-4, in Kansas City, Mo.

AFA Leaders Conference provides personal and professional development to college men and women pursuing agricultural degrees. As a four-track program, Conference offers four different learning opportunities, spread across and matched to a student's year in college.

Track 1 is designed for freshmen and focuses on assessment and the development of fundamental skills crucial for success in college and career. Track 2 is designed for sophomores and focuses on communication skills and preparing for employment. Track 3 prepares junior/seniors to live and work in a global market and manage change. Finally, an all new program in 2012, Track 4 is a unique capstone experience for seniors who have been involved in multiple tracks of the AFA program. Building on the competency development of other tracks, Track 4 is a highly interactive, participant-directed program that includes extensive executive mentoring opportunities.

College men and women from across the nation attend the conference annually; in 2011, delegates came from 37 states and more than 70 colleges and universities. Participants have the opportunity to network at a 3:1 ratio with industry leaders who facilitate conference workshops, training and discussion sessions. Additionally, delegates participate in the AFA Opportunity Fair, which connects students to human resource representatives from around 70 agricultural organizations.

"The demand for talented, highly motivated young professionals prepared to enter the employment market is excellent," said Russ Weathers, AFA president and CEO. "AFA partners provide funding for student sponsorships to the AFA Leaders Conference to enhance the professional training of future leaders of our industry."

Sponsorship to the AFA Leaders Conference includes program registration and materials, lodging and meals throughout the conference. Travel is not included as a part of this sponsorship. Sponsorship applications and further information about AFA Leaders Conference can be found by visiting The deadline for sponsorship application is Sept. 7.

Sponsored students must meet the following eligibility requirements:

Interested in Sponsoring a Student? If you or your organization is interested in sponsoring student participation at the AFA Leaders Conference, visit
. You can sponsor summer interns, student employees or any college student you feel could benefit from the AFA Leaders Conference experience.

Colleges and universities also have the opportunity to sponsor student participation. Learn How. Is this your first time sponsoring students? In 2007, AFA began the University Growth Initiative in an effort to broaden the base of colleges and universities participating in AFA Leader Development Programs. The Initiative, supported by Monsanto, gives first-time college and university sponsors the opportunity to enter their top student leaders into AFA leader development programming. Learn more at For further information, contact Nancy Barcus.

Vote Today to Select the 2012 America's Farmers
Mom of the Year

Online voting is currently underway on to determine the national winner of Monsanto's 2012 America's Farmers Mom of the Year contest.

From a pool of nearly 1,000 worthy candidates, judges from American Agri-Women and Monsanto have selected five amazing farm moms from across the country as regional winners. Each regional winner was awarded a $5,000 cash prize from Monsanto. The regional winner receiving the most online votes by May 12 will win an additional $5,000 and the 2012 national America's Farmers Mom of the Year title.

The regional winners are:

A profile of each, along with her winning nomination, will remain posted on until May 12, the voting deadline. The national winner will be announced on Sunday, May 13 — Mother's Day.

The American Agri-Women, a national coalition of women's farm, ranch and agribusiness organizations, evaluated nominations on how each farm mom nominee supports her farm, family, community and the agricultural industry.

"Despite the great geographic distance that separates our 2012 regional winners, they share a common passion for their families and the land, crops and animals they care for," says Consuelo Madere, America's Farmers Mom of the Year spokesperson. "Each is known in her community for putting a smiling face on agriculture and illustrating that the food on our grocery store shelves is grown by hard-working American farm families."

The five 2012 America's Farmers Mom of the Year regional winners collectively produce a variety of crops and livestock, including corn, soybeans, cotton, peanuts, wheat, pumpkins, hay, sunflowers, wheat, alfalfa, flax and beef cows. They are active in agricultural organizations including FFA; 4-H; Farm Bureau; state soybean, small grains, livestock and Angus associations; state grain producer's board; national peanut board; National Cattlemen's Beef Association; Cattlemen's Beef Board; and many more outstanding agricultural groups.

Monsanto's America's Farmers Mom of the Year is an extension of the America's Farmers program, which celebrates the contributions of America's farmers, who provide food, energy and clothing for a growing planet. Visit to vote for the 2012 national farm mom winner and to read about other ways Monsanto is recognizing the contributions of American farmers.

Why BSE Went so Much Better than Pink Slime

When a new case of bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE) was reported by the media last week, the headlines weren't too bad.

"They may even be accused of being fair and accurate," quipped Janie Gabbett, executive editor of Meatingplace, who addressed the Animal Agriculture Alliance Stakeholders Summit on Wednesday. Meatingplace is a publication for the meat-processing industry.
Gabbett contrasted BSE coverage with the more sensational reports accompanying the pink slime controversy a month earlier.

She offered these explanations:

"USDA did a lot of things right that first day," she added. Among other things, USDA released a video of its chief veterinarian, John Clifford, explaining the BSE situation and the fact there was no threat to the food supply.

One negative, however, was that nine out of 10 headlines referred to it as "mad cow" rather than BSE, she said.

Applying the lessons learned from these two incidents, Gabbett offered this advice for handling future stories of concern to consumers:
  • Know your science.
  • Be able to tell your story.
  • Offer a same-day response.
  • Know who to tell it to.
  • Know how to tell it online.
  • Offer images.
  • Offer experts.
  • Be transparent.
"Tell your story early, tell your story often and tell it before someone else does," Gabbett said.

New Online Tool for Invasive Plant Management Available

Looking for information on how to control invasive plants? A new online database provides information on how to manage over 40 invasive plants common to the Midwestern United States.

The invasive plant control database was developed by the Midwest Invasive Plant Network (MIPN) in cooperation with the University of Wisconsin (UW) Extension weed specialist Mark Renz' lab in the Agronomy Department of the UW at Madison.

Detailed information on non-chemical and chemical control methods is provided, including the appropriate timing of treatments and effectiveness of method. A key feature of the database is the ability to conduct a customizable search. Users can search information by applicator experience level, habitat where the species is being controlled, season control is taking place and effectiveness of method. Information within this database was extensively reviewed by four individuals for each species, two of whom are experts on the species.

One of the greatest potential resources for information on control of invasive species is the experience of field staff and volunteers. However, accessing this trove of experience can be difficult. The MIPN control database allows dedicated individuals to share their invasive species control experiences (both successful and unsuccessful) with the wider community. The sharing of all types of invasive species data improves invasive species control across the region.

If you're interested in learning more about the MIPN control database, an online training session and demonstration will be conducted May 3 from 11 a.m. to 12 p.m. To join the meeting, go to


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