September 15, 2022


A five-minute summary of AAI, regulation, and industry activities for members of the largest state agribusiness association in the nation.

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Board Sets Course for 2023, Welcomes Newly Elected Members

The Agribusiness Association of Iowa Board of Directors held their September 8, 2022, meeting in Amana in conjunction with the final AAI Golf Outing of the year. The board welcomed newly elected members during their meeting and approved the budget for the 2023 fiscal year.

As the executive committee members transition to their new roles, the 2022 Board Chair Kevin Drury, Hedlin Ag Services, was recognized for his service to AAI this past year as he moves into the Past Chair role. Drury oversaw the home office remodeling project during his tenure and also served as the Grow Iowa’s Future investment campaign chair. He will serve one more year on the board in the Past Chair role.

The board spent time reviewing and approving Iowa Agribusiness PAC donation recommendations which will support 53 state legislators and elected officials. The IA-PAC is a way for association members to amplify the voice of agribusiness and provide support for those who recognize the impact of agribusinesses in their decision-making.

The meeting also included updates from the committees and a discussion during the meeting focused on the railroad contract dispute and potential disruptions.

2023 AAI Board of Directors


Chair Shelly Kruse, GROWMARK

Chair Elect Mark White, Smith Fertilizer & Grain

Treasurer Al Muhlenbruck, TriOak Foods

Secretary Joel Nelson, Nutrien Ag Solutions

Foundation Representative José Lauracuente, AgVision

Past Chair Kevin Drury, Hedlin Ag Enterprises


District One Director Joel Nelson, Nutrien Ag Solutions

District Two Director Tracy Gathman, Two Rivers Cooperative

District Three Director Kent Bennis, Corteva Agriscience/Brevant Seeds

District Four Director Sam Cogdill, Cogdill Farm Supply

Grain Director Bill Beukema, StateLine Cooperative

Crop Production Director Dan Luers, Koch Agronomic Services

Animal Sciences Director Al Muhlenbruck, TriOak Foods

Affiliate Director Eric Thuente, Bergan KDV, Ltd.

At-Large Director Brent Schwenneker, Bayer

At-Large Director Sue Tronchetti, Landus Cooperative

At-Large Director Renee Hansen, Sukup Manufacturing Company

At-Large Director Dana Gee, Pro Cooperative

Read the recap of recent committee meetings:

Joint Transportation and Grain committees recap in Sept. 1 Take Five

Joint Agronomy and Environment committees recap is found elsewhere in this newsletter

AAI Board Members (from left): Mark Morrissey (Advisory Council Ex-Officio), Renee Hanson, Dana Gee, Bill Backhaus (CCA Ex-Officio), Joel Nelson, Mark White, Tracy Gathman, Shelly Kruse, Kent Bennis, Jose Laracuente, Eric Thuente, Sue Tronchetti, Al Muhlenbruck, Bill Beukema, Kevin Drury, AAI CEO Bill Northey. Full details at

Committees Get Updates on Atrazine, Efforts to Improve Nitrogen Recommendations

Atrazine and the Nitrogen Initiative were on the agenda for the Agronomy and Environment Committees joint meeting held this past Monday at the AAI Home Office in Des Moines. In addition to guest speakers, the committee welcomed members of the Agribusiness Leadership Academy class who participated as part of their session activities.

Representatives from the Triazine Network presented information about the proposed new rules from the US Environmental Protection Agency for atrazine. The presentation included information about the potential impacts of the new usage restrictions, which would affect 96 percent of the corn acres in Iowa, and 72 percent of corn acres nationwide. The Triazine Network contends the current information and models being used by EPA for this registration review are flawed for multiple reasons. The extremely low level of concern number being proposed was never accepted by previous science assessments and the model predicts an extreme case scenario that has never happened even under extensive water testing. 

Member companies of AAI and their employees are encouraged to send comments to the EPA in response to this issue. Click Here to Submit a Response

Committee members received an update on the Nitrogen Initiative project which is supported by the Iowa Nutrient Research and Education Council (INREC). The project collects data from variable nitrogen rate learning blocks in fields with known yield histories to create a more robust dataset for making nitrogen recommendations in the state of Iowa. The committee members were encouraged to identify farmers who would be willing to participate in this project. The goal is to be able to have hundreds of fields per year in the project.

The meeting also welcomed special guest Chris Novak, President and CEO of CropLife America, who provided some insight on activities taking place at the federal level. Novak noted the current atrazine issue, but also provided additional insight into the some of the dynamics at play for the EPA. In particular, the EPA is trying to avoid situations where the courts are setting pesticide rules and policy. Officials at the agency are working to make sure they are addressing the Endangered Species Act which has become a target for lawsuits by radical environmental groups.

Get Involved!

The direction and impact of the association is a direct result of committee activities. Committees provide input and direction for the Board of Directors actions. You or someone within your company can serve on a committee by emailing, calling the AAI office, or filling out a form online at

Public-private partnership seeks Iowa farmers to advance nitrogen fertilizer recommendations

NOTE: Both AAI and INREC support this initiative. We are encouraging AAI members to identify farmers who would be willing to take part in this initiative. Contact Melissa Miller, Project Director for the Iowa Nitrogen Initiative, at or INREC Executive Director Ben Gleason at if you know of someone willing to participate.


Iowa State University (Iowa State), has partnered with agricultural service providers, Iowa farmers and their advisers to launch the Iowa Nitrogen Initiative – a first-of-its-kind public-private partnership that will leverage on-farm data to generate continuous improvements in resource use efficiency. The Iowa Nitrogen Initiative is currently recruiting Iowa farmers to join the network of on-farm trials.

Using the latest advances in precision agriculture, in close collaboration with Iowa farmers, the Iowa Nitrogen Initiative will deploy hundreds of on-farm, scientifically robust trials every year. Data from these trials will enable Iowa State University scientists and engineers to apply the latest advances in super-computing and quantitative modeling to improve nitrogen fertilizer recommendations for the benefit of productivity, profitability and environmental performance.

“Iowa farmers depend on the best science when making decisions about crop inputs including nutrient management,” said Iowa Secretary of Agriculture Mike Naig. “I encourage farmers to consider participating in this important initiative that will deliver valuable data and recommendations from experts at Iowa State University.”

Nitrogen fertilizer is among the most critical inputs to crop productivity – and one of the costliest. When applied at the optimum rate, nitrogen boosts productivity and profitability while minimizing losses to the environment. However, the optimum rate is incredibly difficult to forecast and can vary by more than 100% from field-to-field and year-to-year.

Current nitrogen fertilizer recommendations do not address factors that contribute to this variability, such as weather or the multitude of decisions farmers must make each year like seed selection and soil management.

Participation and collaboration with Iowa farmers through the on-farm trials will make this project a success. Approximately 150 preliminary trials were conducted in 2022 and researchers seek to increase this number to over 400 for 2023.

Participating in the nitrogen trials is easy. Farmers commit to reserving a small portion of their farm field (four to seven acres) for a personalized variable rate nitrogen prescription. All other farming decisions, including the nitrogen application for the rest of the field, remain with the farmer.

“My farm participates in the Iowa Nitrogen Initiative trials, because I want to better understand the science behind what my corn crop needs and how I can improve water quality. Participation is easy since we already use yield monitors and variable rate nitrogen application,” said Roger Zylstra who farms in Jasper County and chairs the Iowa Nutrient Research & Education Council.

Researchers are seeking the help of Iowa farmers to meet their goal of 400 trials in 2023. The Iowa Nitrogen Initiative’s network of farmer participants enables researchers to gather data on real-world scenarios, develop decision support tools with input from the people who will use them, and return information to farmers about optimum rates on their farms. The trials can be included in any Iowa corn field – regardless of the management.

Farmers, certified crop advisers, and custom fertilizer applicators interested in participating should contact Melissa Miller, Project Director for the Iowa Nitrogen Initiative, by emailing or calling 515-567-0607. Learn more at

Leadership Academy Graduates 2022 Class

The final session of the 2022 Iowa Agribusiness Leadership Academy wrapped up this week with a focus on the legislative and regulatory processes and building connections with government officials.

Over the two-day session, participants took part in the joint AAI Agronomy and Environment Committee Meeting, spent time learning from and interacting with Chris Novak, President and CEO of CropLife America, and hearing from a panel of industry professionals who lobby or serve as government liaisons. The class also gleaned insight and perspective from AAI legal counsel Doug Gross, had a discussion with state Senator Annette Sweeny and state Representative Dave Deyoe, spent time at the Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship talking with Agriculture Secretary Mike Naig, and made a visit to the state capitol to visit with Lt. Governor Adam Gregg.

This year’s leadership academy graduates are: Alexis Stevens, Iowa State University; Matt Ricke, AgState; Bob Robison, VisionAg; and Matt Van Wheeldon, Two Rivers Cooperative.

If you are interested in being part of a future Agribusiness Leadership Academy class or would like to send an employee to take part, contact Sally Thompson –


September 23

Showcase Committee Meeting

10:00 AM | AAI Board Room


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(FREE) Hazard Communication & Chemical Hazards Training

Iowa State University and OSHA are offering FREE information and training to prepare employees, supervisors, and owners of manufacturing and construction companies for OSHA requirements, suggestions, and strategies for worker protection from Chemical Hazards in the workplace.

The program will offer attendees the opportunity to ask questions, share experiences and learn about Hazard Communication and Chemical Hazards, as well as keep up to date on information as OSHA gives updates. 

Training sessions are offered virtually or on-site. Instructors are Professors of Occupational Safety. 

Facilitators will be happy to provide a complementary 1-hour safety review for facilities hosting an on-site training session.

Information on each session, dates, and registration links can be found on the course website link here:


Ag groups welcome agreement to avoid rail strike

Source: Feedstuffs

Railroad and rail union representatives have reached a preliminary agreement in time to avert a nationwide rail shutdown in advance of Friday’s deadline. The action was welcomed by those in the agricultural sector who had already begun to see slowdowns in shipments of fertilizer and ethanol and expressed concerns over the impact to the economy.

Many agricultural groups during the week had written Congress and the White House asking them to take any necessary actions to avoid the strike. President Joe Biden, Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack, Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg and Labor Secretary Marty Walsh all were involved in helping broker the agreement between the unions and railroads.

Walsh held a meeting with union and rail representatives Wednesday morning to discuss options to avoid a strike. Late in the day Wednesday, Sen. Richard Burr, R-N.C., requested unanimous consent on the Wicker-Burr resolution that would implement the recommendations of the Presidential Emergency Board to halt the impending strike. Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., opposed the request, blocking it from advancing.

“The solidarity shown by our members—essential workers to this economy who keep America’s freight trains moving—made the difference in our Unions obtaining agreement provisions that exceeded the recommendations of the Presidential Emergency Board,” according to a joint statement from Jeremy Ferguson, president of the SMART Transportation Division, and Dennis Pierce, president of the Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers and Trainmen.

The agreement provides rail employees a 24% wage increase during the five-year period between 2020 and 2024, while also paying out an immediate $11,000 upon adoption. The labor unions have agreed that they will not strike while the agreed-upon deal goes through the ratification process.

[...] Read Full Story

Pork industry makes economic case for Prop 12 shortfalls

Source: Feedstuffs

The National Pork Producers Council and American Farm Bureau Federation filed their last reply brief in a years-long court challenge ending at the U.S. Supreme Court to California’s Proposition 12, the ballot initiative which mandates space requirements for gestating sows not only within the state of California, but also any pork sold to the state. The industry now awaits its official day before the Supreme Court with the October 11 date set for oral arguments, and a likely decision by early 2023.

“This date is an impactful date not only to the U.S. pork industry, but also to states across the country as it sets the precedent for states to regulate or not regulate what goes on outside their borders. We feel this is an unconstitutional overreach that will impact future generations of pig farmers and pork production along with consumer impacts,” explains Terry Wolters, a pork producer from Minnesota and NPPC president, during a roundtable event with media on September 15.

Wolters explains this case is top of mind for many producers. NPPC supports producers’ ability to make decisions in the best interest of their animals, which Prop 12 limits, as well as has the potential to impact and disrupt the supply chain, increase food costs to consumers and threaten animal health and farm sustainability.

Michael Formica, NPPC assistant vice president & general counsel, says NPPC filed this court challenge in late 2019 after Californian voters approved the initiative in 2018. He says they believe the law is unconstitutional and violates the Dormant Commerce Clause.

[...] Read Full Story

Lawsuit accuses Beyond Meat of false protein claims

Source: AgDaily

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Alternative-meat manufacturer Beyond Meat Inc. is the target of a civil class-action lawsuit brought about by three customers who say they were misled about the amount of protein in Beyond’s products and about how it stacks up to real meat.

According to the suit, filed in U.S. District Court for Southern Iowa, all three plaintiffs purchased Beyond Meat products, paying a premium for protein contents that they allege weren’t there. Beyond Meat is accused of using labeling and marketing claims that are not supported by the products’ actual protein content in as much as a 33 percent underfill. These claims in turn may have misled consumers to believe that their products provide similar benefits to traditional meat-based proteins.

Court filings allege that Beyond Meat made “numerous false and misleading claims and/or omissions on its website, in its promotional and marketing materials, and on the Products’ nutritional labels.”

Beyond Meat has emerged as one of the most talked-about plant-based and vegan meat alternatives on the market — without the aggressive spite doled out by fellow food manufacturer Impossible Foods. Beyond Meat, which was founded in 2009, uses peas as its protein source and exceeded $400 million in net revenue during 2020 and continues to gain market share in the $1.4 trillion global meat industry.

The suit claims that Beyond Meat has become “unjustly enriched” by the misrepresentation of their products and their failure to follow federal regulations for testing protein content. One example of the allegations provided in the suit is Beyond Beef Plant-Based Ground 16-ounce Patties. While the labels include a “20 grams per serving” and “40 percent DV” for protein, plaintiffs allege that they actually contain only 19 grams per serving by nitrogen testing, and 7 percent of the daily value for protein.

[...] Read Full Story

La Nina Weakening Midway Through South American Crop Year

Source: Progressive Farmer

It is the third-straight year of La Nina to begin a new crop season in South America. Typically, La Nina leads to hot and dry conditions for Argentina and southern Brazil as well as a shortened wet season in central Brazil.

These past two La Nina years have had different effects on the crop situation for corn and soybeans in both countries, but have produced widespread weather challenges including extreme and record heat, and widespread record droughts.

The third La Nina is starting a little benign for southern Brazil. Fronts have regularly stalled in the region and produced good rainfall. Soil moisture in this part of the continent is excellent and full-season corn planting has already benefited from the current conditions, though it has been cooler than normal.

In Argentina, the winter has been cold and dry. Late frosts and freezes have likely damaged winter wheat and below-normal temperatures are slowing the rise of soil temperatures, which is pushing back corn planting. The dryness is causing delays as well. In Argentina, corn is planted in two phases, the first in September and October, and the second in December and January. The last two La Ninas pushed a larger portion of the crop into the second phase than normal, and this year is likely to do the same.

[...] Read Full Story

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