Institute Initiatives

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The Institute has initiated a number of activities and conducted numerous roundtable dialogues between various individuals and organizations. In recent years the Institute expanded its technology information initiatives for the public interested in the food and meat industry.

MeatFYI is an Internet initiative and provides news and information on the North American red meat industry. Daily updates on beef and pork industry news and markets, plus fresh updates on meat and food companies; and a Watchlist of items to keep an eye on. Initially developed by Richard Ellinghuysen in 2001 MeatFYI.com ownership transferred to the Institute in 2005 and operations continue today. Mr. Ellinghuysen supplies technical and editorial support to our web initiatives. The website is currently sponsored by individual donors as well as PIC, Smithfield Foods and PremiumPork.net.

The Livestock Brief is an information, education initiative and was created for cattle and hog producers. Each business day news and information is posted, along wih USDA market news. The website is sponsored by individual donors, the Institute for Rural America, Rocky Mountain Farmers Union (RMFU) and the RUSA Insurance Agency.

OFARM Organic Initiative: After a series of roundtable meetings that were structured, hosted and promoted by the Institute; all of this for organic farm marketing groups; an organization called the Organic Farmers’ Agency for Relationship Marketing (OFARM) was created. OFARM was formed as an umbrella association for existing organic farm marketing groups. This organization provides a legal structure for these groups to discuss issues and organize market oriented strategies and operations in a collabroative environment. To enable this organization the legal ability to do these things, it was structured under the Capper-Volstead Act of 1922. Today OFARM has grown to contain eight member marketing organizations from the US and Canada.

Minnesota Property Initiative: Investor owners of property adjacent to a farmer-owned livestock marketing facility in Central Minnesota were planning to retire and liquidate their assets. The farmer-owners of the livestock facility were unable to afford to purchase the property, but were concerned that another entity may purchase the property resulting in a conflict resulting from incompatible use. An arrangement was made whereby the property owners donated the property to the Institute, an IRS designated charitable 501(C)3 organization. The result was a tax savings for the donors who used the donation as part of their financial reorganization. The Institute provides use of the property to the livestock facility owners at minimal cost and the property provides an agricultural ‘barrier’ between the livestock marketing facility and other potential businesses. The land became an asset managed by the Institute.

Illinois Property Initiative: In another property donation arrangement a farmer-owned dairy reload facility had passed it’s useful life and was no longer operational. The farmer-owners wanted to dispose of the property and the liability of the vacant operation. In a mutually structured arrangement the property was donated to the Institute which arranged to clean it up and sell it. The funds were placed in a newly formed Pfingston Fund for the Future* an Institute managed fund structured for the support of Institute initiatives.

* The Pfingston Fund for the Future is named after Erhard Pfinkston an Ag leader from the 1960’s who assisted independent farmers and ranchers develop a collective bargaining and marketing group called the National Farmers Organization. The Illinois dairy reload that was donated and sold was owned and operated by farmer-members of the National Farmers Organization.

Exploring Livestock Marketing Groups Using New Technology was a 2013 project the Institute was involved in evaluating. Raising livestock represents an important part of a diversified producer business plan. Marketing the livestock is an important function of a producer’s profit plan.
The project involved utilizing experienced livestock marketing and technology specialists to research and develop a marketing plan. So that individual and groups of producers could market their (mostly cattle, but including goats) livestock to buyers through a farmer-to-farmer marketing system. Readily available new technologies tools such as Ipad’s Facetime, GIS, and applications for iPad’s and smart phones were employed.

Connecting Young Farmers Conferences, Leadership for Our Future
Our first effort in the leadership area, occurred in 2008, and focused on developing future agricultural leaders. Held in St. Joseph, Mo., Aug. 8-9, it attracted more than 30 producers from Indiana to the Pacific Ocean. And the importance of leadership was emphasized by the opening speaker of the conference, Missouri State Senator and former National Farmers director, Wes Shoemyer. “We’re in a time in agriculture where we just can’t keep on doing the same thing we’ve been doing,” he said.
Jan. 17-18, 2011, at the Kansas City Argosy Hotel our next leaders conference took place. The day and one half event was loaded with information and educational sessions about marketing and leadership points. It was designed to spur leadership development of National Farmers Organization producer members, as well as others interested in learning about the latest price negotiation and risk management tools.
In 2012 the National Farmers Organization states of Indiana, Ohio and Michigan, the Institute helped sponsor another leaders session. It featured invigorating nutrition in animal rations, conservation practices, strategies for using crop insurance and marketing together and enhancing conservation practices.

Bee Keeper Grant: The Institute assisted in development of an educational program and series of meetings for the Mid US Honeybee Producers Association. One component was the production of a new beekeepers video/DVD that provides the latest information on combating varroa and tracheal mites by integrating Russian queens into colonies.

Northeast Center for Risk Management Education Grant: The Institute for Rural America provided more than $23,000 in services to New York agricultural producers focused on risk management education. The Institute developed and produced meetings and materials for New York dairy and livestock farmers. The Institute produced an educational Risk Management DVD.

Cooperation and Linking Offer Unbeatable Transactions (CLOUT): The Institute played a background role in helping to encourage and initiate an informational conference for commercial farmers and ranchers both large and small. This work resulted in the CLOUT conference, ultimately sponsored by Successful Farming® magazine, National Farmers Organization, W.K. Kellogg Foundation, USDA Rural Development, Iowa State University and the Iowa Institute for Cooperatives.

Pork & Poultry Growers Roundtable: Pork producers expressed concerns about the consolidation of pork production and processing in the US and it’s impact on hog markets and contracts. In response to those concerns the Institute organized several roundtable discussions between pork producers with poultry growers organizations. Poultry has experienced consolidation and the development of contract production structures. The poultry growers have seen both challenge and opportunity during their industries period of industry consolidation and shared their views with the pork producers. This provided the pork producers with the opportunity to reflect on potential outcomes in their industry.

Institute for Rural America
P.O. Box 566
Ames, Iowa 50010
800.858.6636