The Buzz

Paging Dr. Borlaug, Extreme Heat in Wheat and Enjoy a Good Steak in the Little Apple

In this reporter’s nearly 20-year career, I’ve met hundreds of farmers, and leaders of global companies. I’ve interviewed secretaries of agriculture and USDA officials; heard George Bush speak after he adopted a dog and shook hands with Al Gore before he invented the Internet. But one thing I never did – and really wanted to – was meet Norman Borlaug. The Iowa-born, Minnesota-educated scientist saved an estimated 1 billion people from starving. His work developing wheat varieties adapted to Mexico, Central America and Asia helped eradicate hunger, and earned him the Nobel Peace Prize.

  • Norman Borlaug - Our Daily BreadA couple of things that struck me about Dr. Borlaug. One, his parents were wheat farmers when he was a youngster, and the family were often without enough food. Crops were meager and wheat production was not possible after rust repeatedly destroyed the plants. Hunger, Dr. Borlaug says in the book, makes people do things they normally would not do. During his college years and in his early work post-college, he was often either hungry himself or surrounded by folks who were malnourished…
  • Second, Dr. Borlaug was doggedly persistent in his commitment. Obstacle after obstacle (sometimes humorous, sometimes tragic and often political) beset his work developing semi-dwarf wheat varieties in Mexico. By the time it was all said and done, he succeeded, despite being told numerous times that he would not…
  • One wonders how Dr. Borlaug would tackle the challenge facing the “Breadbasket of India,” the Ganges plain of northern India, where Stanford scientist David Lobell indicates extreme warm temperatures are reducing wheat yields. Most wheat varieties are “cool season” varieties and quit photosynthesising when nighttime temperatures exceed 34 degrees Celsius (93.2 degrees Farenheit), according to an article in NewScientist…
  • The article infers that average annual temperatures in the wheat growing region of India are increasing…
  • Two-thirds of the wheat in poor countries and 23% in rich countries – or about half the world’s production – is at risk from warming. Yet, global yields need to rise by 50% in the next 40 years to feed a growing population. Wheat researchers at Mexico’s CIMMYT are searching for answers, but it will take dramatic genetic changes, which take time to develop…
  • Chances are good that if you were to come visit the friendly folks at Kansas Wheat for a lunch meeting, we would dine at the Little Apple Brewing Company, a locally-owned steak house in Manhattan. Locals consider the “Little Apple” to be a fine place to eat and enjoy a tasty brew, if you’re so inclined. Apparently, the folks at the Beef Checkoff Program agree with our assessment. This week, the group presented the Little Apple Brewing Company its “2011 National Foodservice Beef Backer Award, Independent Operator”…
  • A big ol’ Buzz Salute to co-owners Kelly and Russ Loub and Lori Fink, who receive a trophy and will be given unique marketing access throughout 2012 to promote the Little Apple Brewing Company as a nationally acclaimed beef backer…
  • Congratulations to Great Plains Mfg., Salina, which inaugurated its brand-new Conference Center in Salina with dealer meetings this week. According to the Salina Journal, the Center – in the works for several years – features two stories, 15,000 square feet and is designed to teach dealers, salesmen, technicians, parts and repair people the ins and outs of Great Plains products…
  • In the Journal story, Tom Evans, vice president of sales for the Great Plains division of the company, says simply: “It’s awesome.”
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One Response to The Buzz

  1. When you’ve experienced the worst, it strengthens your resolve to do the very best. We need people like this in charge of the USDA and/or FDA, rather than the Corporate Apparatchiks we have now.

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