Future of Agriculture

Future of Agriculture – Millennials Solving World Problems Through Agricultural Technology with MiKayla Sullivan of Kinosol

Millennials are making waves in many of today’s business and career industries – and the agriculture industry is no exception. This week, I’m speaking with Mikayla Sullivan, co-founder and “Ringleader of Regal Operations” at Kinosol. Her team of millennials – many of which are fresh out of college – are on a mission to solve one of the world’s biggest problems – world hunger – through agriculture technology.

Kinosol uses dehydration techniques that can be used anywhere in the world – due to its solar-power technology – to make food products last longer, to effectively reduce food waste around the world. Currently, Mikayla and her team are focusing on helping people in developing countries reduce food waste and improve their food storage ability in an effort to help end world hunger on a global scale.

Today, she shares the Kinosol mission and how the business idea got started, the interesting way the team generated the initial business capital to continue to grow and scale, and some of the food safety concerns surrounding dehydration – particularly with meat.

 

“People don’t care what it looks like. It really just matters if it works and if it’s going to improve what they are already doing and save them time down the road.” – Mikayla Sullivan

 

This Week on the Future of Agriculture Podcast:

  • Kinosol’s mission to reduce food waste on a global scale – particularly in developing countries
  • How the company is working to not only reduce food waste and combat world hunger, but also provide income-generating opportunities in developing countries
  • What is a Specific Benefit Corporation and how it differs from a non-profit organization and an LLC
  • How farmers in developing countries can receive Kinosol’s products
  • What the Kinosol solar-power dehydrator is capable of
  • Food safety concerns regarding meat and ensuring consumer safety
  • Unit cost and distribution model
  • The Kinosol “Sponsor-A-Unit” program
  • How the business idea got started
  • How they raised their initial business capital
  • How the founding members decided which countries to target first
  • Their biggest challenges throughout their entrepreneurial journey
  • Why Mikayla believes her team’s naivety about the process of developing the product worked to their advantage
  • New product development plans within the next two years

 

 

Check Out Kinosol & Mikayla Sullivan Across the Net:

 

 

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Future of Agriculture – Our Role In Ag Education with Hope Floeck of Hope Floeck Consulting

 

Today’s guest, Hope Floeck of Hope Floeck Consulting, grew up on a farm in East Texas. She went to Texas Tech University where she received her undergraduate degree in agricultural economics and her graduate degree in agriculture. For 20 years, she worked with a food processing organization where she handled food assistance and food policy, both here and abroad. Not so long ago, Hope decided to establish her consulting company with the goal of helping individuals and organizations understand the programming of agriculture and how they can get involved.

On today’s episode, Hope talks about how people found out about her newly established business. She points out the importance of developing long-term relationships in the past that helped disseminate the news of her new venture by word of mouth. Hope also elaborates on the things people can do to take a more active role in agriculture and discusses the reasons why people in agricultural businesses are willing to fund agricultural education.

 

“From the years of my research days, from being involved in food processing and international food aid policy, which also branch over into ag policy, I feel that I could really bring some value to helping some folks.” – Hope Floeck

 

This Week on The Future of Agriculture Podcast:

  • The story that prompted Hope to post big agricultural questions on Twitter
  • Type of responses Hope got from the Twitter thread she started
  • The varied responses of people from the different walks of life with the same point that there should be more funding for agricultural education
  • One of the compelling answers that had Hope thinking where she eventually ended up with more questions in mind

Check Out Hope Floeck Across the Net:

 

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Future of Agriculture – The Power of A Plant with Stephen Ritz of Green Bronx Machine

Today’s guest is from the Bronx in New York. His journey to agriculture started accidentally while he was dealing with student conflict in his class. From zero agricultural background, Stephen Ritz created a system – a whole school program that changed how the students, the parents, and the community view agriculture. This program, called Green Bronx Machine, is more than about educating his students about farming. Stephen sees it as a way to solve real problems in the community like lack of student engagement in school, poor education, and poor health including unequal opportunities for the disadvantaged.

On today’s episode, Stephen talks about the effects and benefits of Green Bronx Machine to the students and the community as a whole. He shares how he integrates growing food with academics. Stephen also elaborates on one of the goals of the program’s model, which is not about a “me” mentality, but a “we” mentality. This outlook is about people everywhere working together in achieving the goal of making wise choices, living healthy, and personal and community development. He is encouraged to see the outcome as his students are empowered to make healthy choices as a result of instilling child wellness and mindfulness in them.

“When we teach our children about nature, we teach them to nurture. And when we teach children to nurture, we as a society collectively embrace our better nature. And that’s what this work is about.” – Stephen Ritz

This Week on The Future of Agriculture Podcast:

The 9-1-1 situation in Stephen’s class that lead to a 3-1-1 moment
One of the significant effects of the Green Bronx Machine Project: Students you don’t expect to go through college ending up as college graduates
Evolution of the program, how it has evolved today, and some of the programs offered such as after-school programming, weekend programming, and summer camps
Age window of students allowed in the program
How the collateral learning influence the behavior of the students
How the program can change the community’s outlook on food as medicine in relation to diabetes and obesity
The process that Stephen adapts especially for first-time student-growers: If they grow it, they eat it
The focus of the model of the program – quality of teaching and quality of learning
Metrics Stephen uses in the program concerning academics (attendance, performance, etc.)
What makes the Green Bronx Machine a whole-school solution and not just any other kind of school economics program
Content of Stephen’s book – his story, his children’s story, the community’s story, and tools that equip people to grow something great and impact their community

Check Out Stephen Ritz Across the Net:

Green Bronx Machine Website
Green Bronx Machine on Facebook
The Power of a Plant Book by Stephen Ritz

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Future of Agriculture Podcast – Strategic Communications and Balancing Side Hustles with James Garner of Cogent Communications

Today’s guest is my close friend, James Garner. He is a partner in a company called Cogent Communications that does public affairs work in agriculture and agricultural businesses in Sacramento, California. For ten years, he has been a part of a band called Johnny Cash Tribute Band, where he is the group’s manager and front man. On top of these varied roles, James has also been doing drag racing with his dad. James’ father has been a part of a drag racing team as a racer for years.

On today’s episode, James talks about the significant changes that occurred in his life when he started Cogent Communications with his colleague, together with the ideal clients they work with. He also points out the strong suits that have kept them on top of their game, which are understanding the issues on the farm and coherently communicating these matters to the board (local, supervisory, or regulatory). James also elaborates on what currently seems to be a mild concern, but can be a hot one in the future because of its impact at the farming level – the Food Safety Modernization Act.

 

“We try to be cogent in all our communications – clear, logical, convincing.” – James Garner

 

This Week on The Future of Agriculture Podcast:

  • How technology helps shape the communications and data collection in James’ work
  • High-level issues affecting the clients and what James and his team do: water, water quality, and sustainability
  • James’ magic formula for building healthy business relationships
  • More tips on establishing good business and personal relationships
  • An on-going concern that the consumers keep asking for but valued much and lived out by farmers

Check Out James Garner Across the Net:

 

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Future of Agriculture: Building a Brand from Scratch in Agriculture with Marji Guyler-Alaniz of Farmher

Building A Brand From Scratch in Agriculture with Marji Guyler-Alaniz of Farmher

Women have been part of agriculture since the beginning of time. Today’s guest is passionate about showing how the roles of women have progressed and increased in this field. Born and raised in Iowa, Marji Guyler-Alaniz studied Graphic Journalism and Photography in college. Recently, she had a lot of surprises and transitions in her life in a span of only four years – from insurance to photography to owning a company and being a TV hostess. Today, Marji is the president of Farmher, a company that came about as a result of her passion in shining the light on women in agriculture.

On today’s episode, Marji recounts the Super Bowl advertisement that inspired her to start capturing images of women in agriculture. She shares the exciting story of how she built her brand from scratch and how Farmher has progressed from a hobby to a brand with a regular TV show. She also narrates the quick progression of her journey with Farmher, talks about her mission and vision, and points out her considerations when making decisions.

 

“I started it with a premise of shine me a light on the role that women play in agriculture through photographs and help to update the image of agriculture with those photographs.” – Marji Guyler-Alaniz

 

This Week on The Future of Agriculture Podcast:

  • Marji’s mission and the tale of the first woman Marji photographed in 2013
  • Effects of the connection between Farmher website creation and the publication Modern Farmer
  • Merchandise creation and the factor that made women identify to her brand
  • Producing FarmHer TV Show and Marji’s reasons for pursuing it
  • Company challenges and breakthroughs
  • Marji’s biggest surprise since starting the business

 

Check out Marji Guyler-Alaniz Across the Net:

 

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Future of Agriculture – A Future Without Bacon and Eggs is No Future At All with Hannah Thompson-Weeman of the Animal Agriculture Alliance

If you are a typical American who enjoys bacon and eggs for breakfast, can you imagine a future without them? If you are a doctor, a dietician or someone in the health and wellness industry, would you consider a diet without meat – chicken, pork or beef – a healthy and balanced one? Today’s guest is the vice president of communications for a non-profit organization called Animal Agriculture Alliance that is based in Washington DC. Hannah Thompson-Weeman is an advocate and defender of the animal agriculture industry as she continues to work with farmers, restaurants, and other influencers in educating people about how their food is produced, grown and prepared.

On today’s episode, Hannah talks about the future of the animal agriculture industry and the challenges it currently faces, one of which is the damage that activists groups are trying to make in the industry. She talks about the effects of these threats to the farmers, the government, and the middle segment, with the latter composed of groups of consumers who do not know much about how their food is produced such as restaurants and legislators. Hannah also gives a glimpse of the collegiate competition the Alliance holds to encourage and empower students in their agricultural journey.

“Don’t let anyone make you scared of your food or make you guilty about your food. You should be empowered to make your own dining decisions but make them based on facts and not on fear and misinformation.” – Hannah Thompson-Weeman

 

This Week on The Future of Agriculture Podcast:

  • Philosophical argument of “activist groups” or the people who do not approve of the existence of the animal agriculture industry
  • Ways extremists find funding and the tools they use to get it
  • What donors don’t know about commercials involving dogs and cats
  • One call to action that people in the animal agriculture would have for consumers
  • Impact of the fear instilled by activist groups on the credibility of the government and large organizations
  • Reasons why people in the animal agriculture industry do not engage with the activists
  • Philosophy of Animal Agriculture Alliance
  • Biggest misconception about animal agriculture in the middle group
  • Why college students are the largest target of activist groups
  • Details of the college agricultural competition the Alliance holds, its aim, and the prizes that await the top three winners

 

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Future of Agriculture Podcast – Rural Living Sheep Ranching and Totes MaGoats with Sara Hollenbeck of Hollenbeck Ranch

Today’s guest grew up in Grass Valley, California. Sara Hollenbeck lives with her husband on a ranch in Molt, Montana called the Hollenbeck Ranch. Together with her husband and in-laws, Sara manages a sheep operation in Molt on top of many other diverse things they do on the farm.

On today’s episode, Sara talks about an unfamiliar topic to many – sheep operation. She discusses the necessary tasks and human resources it takes to keep the operation running smoothly. She also shares who Totes MaGoats is, how her lamb company was born, and how she was able to open the community to eating lamb.

 

“The people I’m focused on are the ones that are interested, or curious even, about where their food is coming from or how their food is being raised.” – Sara Hollenbeck

 

This Week on The Future of Agriculture Podcast:

  • Brief background about the sheepherders and reasons why their presence and the H-2A program play a vital role in the sheep operation
  • Where the sheep ranch gets the majority of its revenue
  • The importance of breeding on the quality of the meat and wool and reasons why it is important to focus on the latter
  • Sheep shearing and why it is considered the “fun time” in the ranch
  • Sara’s goals for the future of the ranch

Check Out Sara Hollenbeck Across the Net:

 

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Future of Agriculture: Growing Cannabis and Other Fun Agronomy Topics with Dr. Curtis Livesay of Dynamite Ag

Today’s guest is a scientist, researcher, and the founder of Dynamite Ag – a sales and consulting company founded in 2012. Growing up in a Christian household, Dr. Curtis Livesay was told not to do drugs, to research about it. This pursuit of knowledge led him to acquire a Ph.D. in interpersonal communication and research methods. It is also the heart of his company – to do great research and disseminate good and useful information.

On today’s episode, Dr. Curtis shares his knowledge, experience, and viewpoints about a variety of topics such as critical agronomic problems, lies fed to farmers, and specific ways to deal with particular agronomic concerns.

 

“Don’t just try something different, but pay attention to where you put it.” – Dr. Curtis Livesay

 

This Week on The Future of Agriculture Podcast:

  • How Dr. Curtis found his niche and how he finds the people he works with
  • Difference between plant recoverable and plant available
  • How farmers should balance the economics of farming with environmental stewardship
  • Yield contest over profitability contest
  • What volunteer corn is, why it’s a problem and what farmers can do about it

 

Check Out Dr. Curtis Livesay Across the Net:

 

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Future of Agriculture: Cows-Canada-and Quotas with Wendell Schumm of Wallenstein Feed and the Ontario AgCast

To better understand what’s going on in the agriculture business, looking outside the boundaries is a must. Knowing how other countries do things help the agriculture industry see the bigger picture and understand how things work together in a global viewpoint.

Today’s guest, Wendell Schumm, had never thought about considering other things than milking cows. He grew up on a dairy farm and has developed a passion for it. With his dad’s support and encouragement, Wendell got a two-year business diploma at Ontario Business College. At age 21, he worked for a local coop for two years before landing another job with a feed company that is a Purina dealer. Keeping his enthusiasm for dairy by working as a dairy nutritionist, Wendell became a partner to a new nutrition company at age 26. In 2009, a privately owned feed manufacturer, Wallenstein Feed, bought this nutrition company. Wendell has been working for them ever since.

On today’s episode, Wendell shares the uniqueness of the Canadian agriculture and the impact that feed manufacturing is making globally. He talks about the reasons why contracting out a company who specializes in the mixture of the feeds is more advantageous over DIY mixed feeds. He also shares what he sees in the future of the agricultural network, the direction of the feed business, and the reasons why he started his agricultural podcast.

 

“A lot of what we want to focus on would be whatever we can do to make consumers feel good about how we’re raising their food.” – Wendell Schumm

 

This Week on The Future of Agriculture Podcast:

  • The difference between Ontario and Western Canada and its proximity to the US market.
  • The benefits of having a middleman between the buyer and manufacturer.
  • The changes in the feed manufacturing and the advantages of using new technology.
  • The foundations of their system and how it ensures farmers have a predictable and sustainable income for the work they do.

Check Out Wendell Schumm Across the Net:

 

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Future of Agriculture 044: Grassfed Beef Through Adaptive Multi-Paddock Grazing with Russ Conser of Standard Soil

On today’s episode of Future of Agriculture Podcast, my guest is an engineer by who was born in Nebraska and grew up as a city kid in Omaha. Russ Conser eventually fell in-love with energy which started his decades-long career in Shell Oil where he learned more about oil, gas, and carbon. You may be surprised to hear that the knowledge and experience Russ gained in this industry eventually led him to his present venture in the field of agriculture.

Russ Conser is the CEO of Standard Soil, a company that uses adaptive multi-paddock grazing to grow grass-fed beef at scale. He spent the last 15 years in innovation and investing in pioneering startups that produce revolutionary and edgy outputs and results. A writer, speaker, investor, and game-changer, Russ talks about Standard Soil’s business model, its difference from other tech startups, the positive environmental impact it brings, and a lot more.

 

“I tend to think of agriculture really as the biological solar energy business in the world of farmers and ranchers.” – Russ Conser

 

 

This Week on The Future of Agriculture Podcast:

  • Russ elaborates the difference between traditional grazing and multi-paddock grazing.
  • He shares the effects of multi-paddock grazing that are advantageous not only to the business itself, but also in the quality of the nutrient produced in the soil.
  • Together with the overall environmental impact of multi-paddock grazing, Russ talks about what the organic-rich soils can do for everyone.
  • He gives some tips on how they handle moving paddocks frequently, how they manage the grazing during wintertime, and how to know the right square footage of paddocks per cow.
  • Russ emphasizes that the methods by which these things are produced usually cause concern with broader environmental issues.
  • He introduces the “cocktail mix” producers use to create a superior product.
  • Forward-looking, Russ talks about the significance of multi-paddock grazing to the US beef industry 20 years from now.

 

Additional Resources Mentioned in Today’s Episode

 

Check Out Russ Conser Across the Net:

 

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