The window in Tom Burrus’ office gives him a good look at the wide expanse of Illinois River bottomland where his company produces seed corn for farmers across Illinois, Missouri, Iowa and Wisconsin. Hanging on his wall are sketches of his grandfather and others who’ve had a part in the Burrus Seed Co. since it was founded 1935. The 63-year-old company president knows he is a rare independent in a land of giants.
Mark Tjelmeland’s 700 free-range chickens lay 45 dozen eggs per day in indoor nesting boxes on his farm in McCallsburg, Iowa. The rest of the time, unless it’s too cold, they roam and peck in a fenced pasture.
You may not think much about store brands as you shop for groceries, but it’s a business worth nearly $60 billion per year. ConAgra, a company based in Omaha, Neb., made a splash recently in what the industry calls private label food when it paid $6.8 billion to buy Ralcorp, based in St. Louis, Mo. The merger created the biggest private label food company in the country.
While most Americans don’t farm, they do contribute to agriculture by buying food at stores and restaurants. And about half of us make an additional donation in the form of fertilizer. With spring at hand, farmers are getting ready for planting. That means enriching the soil and that may just involve you.
President Obama’s 2014 budget proposal to Congress asks for funds to “develop countermeasures for diseases originating from large animals that can be transmitted to humans, " including $714 million for the National Bio and Agro-Defense Facility in Manhattan, Kansas.
The news has already been interpreted by supporters as a green light for the $1.15-billion federal animal disease lab known as NBAF, the National Bio and Agro-Defense Facility, in Manhattan, Kansas.
Senator Pat Roberts said the proposal represents the administration’s support for NBAF.