The recent, if brief, warm snap in the Midwest seemed to have warmed up some grower activity, and folks I talked to felt a bit less uneasy about the season ahead. Of course, it’s a long road til harvest time and anything can happen, but there’s something about a little burst of warm air in late winter that reminds us that, at the end of the day, the fertilizer’s got to go down and the crop’s got to get planted.
One discussion that piqued my interest was with some folks from Ag Connections. You can find them on the web here. They’ve been toiling away on a field activity reporting program for several years in the “smile” states, a program which allows a grower to record applications and field practices as part of food safety compliance programs being mandated by food processors. They are bringing their program to the Midwest, hoping to get interest from big commodity markets.
Programs such as this have not been big sellers in the Midwest, mostly because regulation has not required it and processors have not widely demanded it. But given the scares we’ve had recently (spinach and peanut butter leading the way), it won’t be too surprising to see more of these roll out.
Later this year, Ag Connections will be approaching the Midwest with a new offering geared toward service providers such as cooperatives and retailers, and you can bet more such programs will be released along the way. It’s something to be aware of, and possibly even explore, if the threat of increased food production regulation — mandatory or otherwise — come to pass in the months ahead.