Unconscious Bias and the Role of Women in Agribusinesses

Women in Agribusinesses

 

By Amy Piersak, market intelligence specialist with CHS

A farmer standing in their field surrounded by the sights and smells of a spring rain. An agronomist analyzing a seeding recommendation. The grain merchandizer settling into a Monday morning at your local cooperative. The animal nutrition specialist you trust to provide the right feed for your animals. Now pause and visualize these people. Who are you picturing?

If you are picturing men in these roles, you are likely experiencing unconscious bias. Humans are only able to consciously process a fraction of the information we receive every second, so out of necessity, our brains have developed the incredible ability to unconsciously process thousands of pieces of information in an instant. While this is invaluable when assessing the threat of a lion in the brush (spoiler: very high), it can cause us to fall prey to biases when envisioning tasks or roles such as those mentioned earlier.

Despite these perceptions, the role of women in agriculture has been steadily evolving. Much of the shift has come from the changing demographic landscape in education. Most colleges of agriculture are posting higher numbers of women seeking ag-related degrees. In the spring of this year, The College of Agriculture at Purdue University posted that 58% of their undergraduate students were women. This is a colossal change from the 1970s when women comprised only 2-5% of their undergraduate population. For comparison, women represented 43% of the total undergraduate students at Purdue University in spring of 2017. In 2017, the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences at Iowa State reported 52% of their undergraduates are women. Like Purdue University, Iowa State University reported that of their undergraduate students, 43% were women.

As women are obtaining more degrees in areas related to animals, animal behaviors, entomology, botany, plant sciences, and environmental sciences compared to men, the implications on the “typical candidate” will be significant. It is worth noting that these degrees are considered STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) degrees. Women have historically been underrepresented in STEM degrees, and agriculture is a leading area of growth on that front.

Unfortunately, the gains in education are not as well represented in the working world. The United States Department of Labor reports that women represented 47% of the workforce in 2016. Which remains relatively unchanged from the last 20 years. When we look at agribusinesses and local agricultural cooperatives, the percentage of women in the workforces drop to 32% and 22% respectively.

So where does that leave us? We have a growing number of qualified candidates, and yet a top 5 challenge identified by agribusiness leadership is the availability of qualified talent. How do we bridge this gap? A great place to start is for both sides to begin watching out for their biases, and working proactively to compensate for them. This simple change will help expand a talent pool that is perceived to be constrained, and increase career opportunities for members of your local community.

This article was originally published on AgCareers.com.

Weekly Grain Update – November 21, 2017

China Buys Corn

The big news this week was that China was in the market place buying corn and ethanol.  We have seen the Chinese purchase soybeans for many years, and frankly, we count on them to buy huge quantities of beans during the fall harvest.  They are a cornerstone of our US bean export program, and help to add stability during a time when prices in beans could get quite sloppy.  So when we see the Chinese looking at buying corn and / or ethanol, the market pays attention, and it causes some unique things to happen.

The funds currently have a huge net short position in corn futures.  They are so short that last week’s Commitment of Trader’s report showed that they broke a new record on the size of their short position.  Previously, the record short for managed money was 229,000 contracts of short corn futures.  Last week’s report had them short 231,000 contracts, or a new record.  The funds are short because the fundamentals tell them to be so.  The corn crop is huge.  Our corn export program is in the tank.  The crop seems to be getting bigger each month, and there is a huge amount of farmer selling just above the market.  All of this is weighing on corn, and they see this and are putting their money where it counts.

(more…)

Gear Up For Gift Cards for Gallons

Beginning Nov. 1, end-user customers can earn one $50 VISA® gift card for every 125 gallons of qualifying Cenex® lubricants purchased through February 28, 2018.

Qualifying Cenex products include:    

  • Superlube TMS®
  • Superlube 518®
  • Qwiklift® HTB®
  • Maxtron® Enviro-EDGE®
  • Maxtron® DEO
  • Maxtron® THF+
  • MP Gear Lube
  • Maxtron GL
  • Cenex premium greases

To redeem purchases, end-user customers must complete a redemption form, attach their detailed invoice(s) and/or receipt(s), and mail the documentation as instructed no later than April 6, 2018.

Article courtesy of Cenex Fuels & Lubes

What is your time worth?

Since the onset of ULSD in 2006 & the common rail diesel engine just one short year later; higher pressures in diesel engines play a major factor in unscheduled maintenance.  Cenex Fuel has seen the need for a better quality fuel to help these engines perform at their peak levels and they answered with the best additive package manufactured! Our multi-functional additive package has many features and benefits that create the highest quality fuel that money can buy.

 

My colleague Lynn Sheets from Key Cooperative in Iowa has seen the changes for himself and would talks about how Cenex Fuels have addressed this.

 

 

Weekly Grain Update – November 14, 2017

corn harvest

 

The USDA came out with its November crop report on Thursday and shocked the market with their interpretation of the current crop.  Most believed that bean yields would be lowered and corn yields would be raised slightly from the October report.  This was not what the USDA had in mind, and their report dramatically altered the markets going forward.

In the case of corn, the USDA raised this year’s production by a whopping 3.6 bpa which took their final corn yield to 175.4 bpa.  This is a huge yield and beat last year’s average yield by .9 bpa.  Production was raised by 293 M Bu from last month’s total to a jaw breaking 14.578 B bu.  In addition to the yield increase, the USDA also increased exports by 75 M Bu to 1.925 B Bu.  Many traders are scratching their heads about this number as we are having a very difficult time making increased export sales to foreign buyers today, yet the USDA is projecting a big increase.  Time will tell on whether the USDA is right or not.  But the only way for our exports to increase is through lower prices which none of you will like to see.  When the dust settled, the carryout for the 17/18 corn crop was raised 147 M Bu to 2.487 B Bu.  This is a tremendous amount of corn carryout and an amount we have not seen for decades since the glut of corn in the mid 80’s.  With this amount of corn hanging over the market, it will be very difficult for the market to rally anything significant.  Any type of strength will be met with a huge amount of selling from the country.

(more…)

CHS reports fiscal year-end results, announces FY 2018 priorities

CHS Inc., the nation’s leading farmer-owned cooperative and a global energy, grains and foods company, today reported net income of $127.9 million for the fiscal year ended Aug. 31, 2017, compared to net income of $424.2 million for the fiscal year ended Aug. 31, 2016. Consolidated revenues totaled $31.9 billion for fiscal 2017, approximately a five percent increase over consolidated revenues of $30.3 billion for fiscal 2016. (more…)

Weekly Grain Update – November 9, 2017

USDA Crop Report

The USDA will be out with its November Crop Report Today, November 9, at 11 am.  I get the feeling that we could see the USDA raise the corn yield by 1-2 bpa and leave the bean yield either unchanged or lowered by up to ½ bpa.  We have seen some extraordinary corn yields across the Corn Belt this fall as harvest has progressed thus far.  Consequently, later bean yields have not improved like corn throughout the entire Corn Belt.  If the above changes in yield are pegged by the government tomorrow, we could see the corn carryout approach 2.5 B Bu which we have not seen since the huge CCC days in the mid 80’s.  However, beans are another story.  If their yield gets trimmed, we could see carryout reduced from 430 M bu down to something less than 400.  Folks, if this happens, we will see fireworks tomorrow at 11 am.  The market is, and will continue to be, very sensitive to any reduction in bean carryout.  This is especially true since Brazil and Argentina are having weather issues with either being too dry or too wet for optimum bean planting conditions down there.  Any sort of change in the bean Supply and Demand table and the market will react accordingly, and possibly very violently depending on the scope of the change.

(more…)

The Fall Versus Spring Nitrogen Debate

nitrogen management

 
Nitrogen management is critical for growing healthy corn and farmers are sensitive to their role in helping build a more sustainable world. They are faced with the often-daunting question of whether fertilizer applications can be both profitable and sustainable. Often, the delicate balancing act begins with the decision of whether to apply N in fall or hold off until spring.

BMPs and the 4Rs

Corn producers understand there is no blanket practice. There is, however, a disciplined application approach that has long proven effective.

“When we talk about sustainability in agriculture, specifically as it relates to nutrient management, it really goes back to a foundation of best management practices (BMPs) in conjunction with the Fertilizer Institute’s 4R Program,” says Eric Scherder, field scientist, Ph.D., Dow AgroSciences, from Huxley, Iowa. “We can address some of the challenges we’re facing with nitrogen leaching and surface application runoff more effectively using this approach.”

As most growers are aware, the 4R program is a concept to help them select the right fertilizer source at the right rate, at the right time, with the right placement. While source, rate and placement are important, often the most scrutinized decision — both from an economic and sustainability standpoint — is timing. (more…)

Weekly Grain Update – October 31, 2017

10/31/17

We are constantly looking for ways to add value and profitability to your farming operation.  One way we can do this is by offering unique contract alternatives that will allow you to diversify your grain marketing portfolio, spread out your risk, and add another layer of pricing protection to your operation.  We are again offering the CHS ProAdvantage grain contract this year.  This contract is a very simple approach to allowing our trading professionals at CHS to market your grain for you.  Basically, you will hand over a portion of your grain to them to squeeze as much money out of the market as they can.  They will do many trades behind the scenes to generate as much profit for you as possible and when the program is over, their profits will be added together and given back to you in the form of a price that should be higher than the prevailing price at that time.  You don’t have to worry about the trades that they do, or any complex marketing strategies to learn.  This is easy folks.  Just give them a portion of next year’s grain production, and allow our marketing professionals to make money for you.

(more…)

Troy Brown Joins Form-A-Feed as Forage Product Manager

 

Troy Brown of Reedsville, WI joined the Form-A-Feed team as the Forage Product Line Manager in September 2017.

Troy has over 30 years of practical forage management experience that he brings to the Form-A-Feed team, and has a deep understanding of all aspects of forage best management practices, fermentation, and forage microbial technology. His role at Form-A-Feed will be to manage the various forage products, services, and programs that Form-A-Feed offers.

“I am very excited to be joining the Form-A-Feed family,” Troy explained. “My goal is to develop a deep understanding of our customer’s needs. Form-A-Feed has an excellent reputation built on a foundation of honesty and integrity. These values made it easy for me to join the Form-A-Feed team.”

Doug Fjelland, Form-A-Feed Executive Vice President states, “the addition of Troy Brown to the Form-A-Feed team will bring even more customized forage services to the progressive farmers we serve throughout the United States. Improving forage quality improves productivity and profitability for both the animal and the farm. We couldn’t be more pleased to have Troy be a part of our team to help farmers maximize their forage program and profitability.”

Have a question for Troy about his services with Form-A-Feed? You can contact him at troybrown@formafeed.com.

Original Source: Form-A-Feed

© 2018 CHS Inc.