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Business Briefs - May 8, 2019

31st MCA-MSU Bull Evaluation delivers performance and value

CRYSTAL, Mich. — Bulls graduating from the 31st annual MCA-MSU Bull Evaluation Program were sold March 16 and averaged $3,386 on 58 lots.

Lot #34, DF Discovery F245, a purebred Angus bull sired by VAR Discovery 2240 and consigned by Dawson Farms, LLC of Hanover, Mich., topped the sale at $6,750. He was purchased by CRV USA, based in Madison, Wis.

The bull’s average daily gain during the evaluation was 4 pounds. He ranks in the top 4 percent of the Angus breed for Beef Value, the top 4 percent for Weaning Weight, and the top 1 percent for Yearling Weight.

The second-high-selling bull was Lot 95, PSFF8, a Simmental-Angus bull sired by W/C Lock Down 206Z and consigned by Plank Simmental Farm of Crystal, Mich. He sold for $5,500 to George and Lisa Matthews of Lupton, Mich.

The bull’s average daily gain during the evaluation was 3.75 pounds. He ranks in the top 20 percent of the Simmental breed for Terminal Index, the top 10 percent for Weaning Weight, and the top 15 percent for Yearling Weight.

Breed results were as follows: 33 Angus bulls averaged $3,371; 18 Simmentals averaged $3,586; six Red Anguses averaged $3,000; and one Charolais sold for $2,600.

The MCA-MSU Bull Evaluation Program sets the industry standard for evaluated bulls, going above and beyond the Guidelines for Uniform Beef Improvement Programs published by the Beef Improvement Federation. Only bulls meeting a minimum average daily gain requirement and passing stringent evaluations for reproductive potential, disposition, and structural soundness are marketed through the program’s sale.

Breeders interested in consigning to the 2019-20 MCA-MSU Bull Evaluation should contact the Michigan Cattlemen’s Assoc. at 517-347-8117 or visit for details. The next evaluation will begin in October, with nominations accepted until Sept. 1.

Applications open for Tennessee ag startup ‘boot camp’

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. — AgLaunch and the Knoxville Entrepreneur Center are again partnering for a week-long agri-tech boot camp to support Tennessee agriculture startup teams.

The boot camp will be held on the University of Tennessee Institute of Agriculture campus in Knoxville from July 8-12. Teams accepted into the program will experience best-in-class agricultural entrepreneurship programming and have access to investors, mentors, and farmers.

Eligible applicants must be located in Tennessee and should be focused on addressing real problems in agriculture within the crop and livestock sectors and all along the food value-chain. Teams can include small startup companies operating in the agricultural sector, existing companies that are creating new innovations or product lines, or student or faculty teams that are developing new innovations in agriculture.

Building on a last year’s boot camp, programming for 2019 will include farm tours and sessions focused on marketing, venture capital, working with land-grant universities, and field design and research. Applications are being accepted through 5 p.m. EST on May 15. For more information, email Schuyler Dalton at

Iowa grants available for conservation research, demo projects

DES MOINES, Iowa — Iowa Secretary of Agriculture Mike Naig announced the State Soil Conservation and Water Quality Committee Research and Demonstration Fund has grant money available to support research, education, or demonstration projects focused on reducing erosion and improving water quality.

Funds are available to collaborative teams of scientists, farmers, institutions, Soil and Water Conservation Districts, and educators in Iowa. Projects must help improve and sustain the state’s natural resources, like the fertile soil and fresh water, on which its agriculture-based economy depends, to qualify.

The amount of funds allocated for each project will be established by the State Soil Conservation and Water Quality Committee. It is anticipated that $150,000 will be available and projects are expected to begin on July 1. Individual grants cannot exceed a total of $50,000 over a three-year period. Applications must be submitted to the Committee by May 22 to be considered.

To apply for the grant, visit or call the Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship Division of Soil Conservation and Water Quality at 515-281-5851.

INFB donates 50 tons of food for centennial anniversary

(photo in 6511)

INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. — In celebration of its 100th anniversary, Indiana Farm Bureau (INFB) and its county Farm Bureaus across the state donated 50 tons of food to more than 90 charities across Indiana.

INFB was founded on March 25, 1919, by a group of Indiana farmers and since its creation, the organization has had a rich history of giving back. In that same spirit of giving, INFB launched the statewide charitable giving campaign, “100 Pounds for 100 Years.”

Each county Farm Bureau was challenged to collect at least 100 pounds of food and donate it to a local charity prior to the anniversary. Nearly every county rose to the challenge, far surpassing the 100-pound request.

In total, approximately 100,000 pounds of food were donated to more than 90 charities across the state. According to USDA’s What We Eat in America, the average meal is 1.2 pounds of food. By that average, INFB’s donation accounts for approximately 66,000 meals in Indiana.

INFB and Indiana Farm Bureau Insurance also collected non-perishable food items for Gleaners Food Bank of Indiana. The state organizations were responsible for more than 27,300 pounds of the overall total. More than 7,000 pounds of that donation were collected by INFB and Insurance employees, and an additional 20,000 pounds of food were donated by the Indiana Farm Bureau board of directors.

While nearly every county Farm Bureau donated at least 100 pounds of food for the campaign, Posey County Farm Bureau was the most charitable chapter, donating 8,438 pounds of food to Posey County Food Pantries and the Partners in Food program. Its donation was a combination of food and monetary gifts.

INFB and Indiana Farm Bureau Insurance President Randy Kron (left) presents their donation for Gleaners Food Bank of Indiana.

(Photo provided)

Wilbur-Ellis feed division becomes Wilbur-Ellis Nutrition

VANCOUVER, Wash. — Wilbur-Ellis Feed, LLC, an industry leader in the international marketing and distribution of nutrients for the livestock, pet food, and aquaculture industries, introduced its rebranded name: Wilbur-Ellis Nutrition.

In addition, the division also launched a new website at with an updated look and feel. The Wilbur Ellis Nutrition website highlights the division’s service and solutions-based approach to managing longstanding relationships with customers and partners.

As part of its dedication to supporting the nutrition and wellness of animals, Wilbur-Ellis Nutrition added to its robust catalogue of premium nutrients for animal health by acquiring the business of Ameri-Pac Inc., a leading contract manufacturer of premium antioxidants, stabilizers and custom-made, private-label pet food premixes, in October 2018.

Wilbur-Ellis Co. also announced it acquired the assets of Wiles Brothers Fertilizer, Inc., one of the top independent agriculture retailers in the state of Nebraska. Family-owned and operated since 1976, Wiles Brothers has been a highly successful, independent ag retailer, providing its customers with fertilizer, crop protection, seed products, and application services.

Tillable raises $8.25M to bring efficiency to rental market

CHICAGO, Ill. — Tillable, the online marketplace for the $32 billion farmland rental market, announced an $8.25 million Series A funding round. The round was led by top agtech investment holding company The Production Board, with participation by First Round Capital.

Tillable’s easy-to-use online marketplace helps landowners and farmers determine fair rent for farmland, helping both sides connect on an efficient, convenient, and secure online platform. With Tillable, landowners can optimize the financial return on their land, gain visibility into how their acreage is used, and identify growers who will act as responsible stewards for their properties’ long-term viability.

Tillable will use the Series A funding to expand its engineering, sales, and marketing teams in order to rapidly accelerate its efforts to attract landowners and farmers to the platform ahead of the 2020 growing season. For more information, visit

Corteva teams with DroneDeploy to bring mapping to UAV fleet

WILMINGTON, Del. — Corteva Agriscience announced a global agreement with DroneDeploy to use DroneDeploy in its fleet of more than 400 DJI drones across the company’s global seed production and supply chain, as well as its Pioneer Strategic Account Management and Agronomy teams in the U.S., Canada, Brazil, and Europe.

DroneDeploy is the market leader in commercial drone software and aerial site intelligence for the construction and agriculture sectors. Its advanced mapping software combined with the expertise of Corteva Agriscience field teams offers immediate insights to diagnose and correct agronomic, disease, or pest concerns, as well as to optimally place products.

UAV operators can survey a 160-acre field in less than 15 minutes, quickly spotting variations in plant and soil health. Every operator will be trained on how best to harness the power of the aerial technology and will be certified according to local aviation regulations.

Chicago-based Farmer's Fridge coming to Indianapolis

INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. — The Indianapolis Business Journal reported that Chicago-based startup Farmer’s Fridge, which sells freshly made sandwiches, salads, and other items via vending machine, will deploy its first 18 machines in Indianapolis this month.

The company, whose registered business name is Romaine Empire, Inc., was founded in 2013 by Luke Saunders, who now serves as its CEO. It has more than 250 vending machines, which it calls fridges, throughout Chicago and Milwaukee, and it plans to have its Indianapolis machines in place by April 30.

In Indianapolis, seven of the machines will be in locations accessible to the public, including Circle Centre mall and Indianapolis International Airport. The other public-access locations are all downtown. Another 11 machines will be in spots accessible to building occupants but not to the general public.

Farmer’s Fridge is starting with three Indianapolis employees, with the expectation it will eventually have 10 or more local employees as operations grow. Food is prepared daily at the company’s Chicago kitchen, then drivers pick up the items and deliver them to each machine.

Saunders estimates Indianapolis could support between 50-100 Farmer’s Fridge vending machines. That number should grow, he said, as the company is able to further refine its technology, opening up new options for where machines can operate profitably.

Corteva and ZeaKal announce R&D collaboration

WILMINGTON, Del. — Corteva Agriscience and ZeaKal, a plant science innovator focused on improving agricultural productivity, announced a strategic research and development collaboration. Together, they will advance ZeaKal’s innovative technology to help improve seed quality and increase crop yield by enhancing the photosynthetic capacity and efficiency of plants.

ZeaKal and Corteva will work together to develop and test ZeaKal’s proprietary PhotoSeed technology, which uses a novel mechanism for increasing a plant’s intrinsic photosynthetic capacity. For farmers, this means increasing productivity and profitability without additional inputs. For consumers, it means agriculture that can deliver better nutrition on a smaller environmental footprint.

As part of the alliance, Corteva will take a minority equity stake in ZeaKal. The financial terms of the agreement were not disclosed.

Climate Corp., NAU Country partner on crop insurance

SAN FRANCISCO, Calif. — The Climate Corp., a subsidiary of Bayer, announced a platform agreement between the company’s industry-leading Climate FieldView digital agriculture platform and NAU Country Insurance Co.

The new agreement enhances digital reporting capabilities for farmers. NAU is one of the largest federal crop insurance providers in the United States; the new collaboration will help mutual farmer customers and their insurance agents to move planting and harvest data electronically into the NAU Country Precision Farming system, for faster completion and delivery of planting and production reports.

For more information about the Climate FieldView platform, contact a local FieldView dealer, or visit

Syngenta #RootedinAg contest now accepting entries

GREENSBORO, N.C. — Syngenta has announced that the application period for the sixth annual #RootedinAg contest is open. By sharing their inspirational stories, applicants can enter for a chance to become one of three finalists, who will each receive a mini touch-screen tablet.

Of those finalists, Syngenta will award $500 to one grand prize winner and publish his or her story in Thrive magazine, which will include an exclusive photo shoot. Syngenta will also make a $1,000 donation in the winner’s name to a local charity or civic organization.

The deadline to enter is May 30. Shortly after this date, a panel of judges will choose three finalists based on the quality of their essays. Syngenta will then post their entries on the Thrive website and ask visitors to help choose the grand prize winner by voting for their favorite. These votes, along with the judges’ scores, will determine the winner.

Online voting ends August 30, with Syngenta announcing the grand prize winner in September. To apply, learn more, or see previous contest winners, go to

Virtual reality ranch tours expand to global audiences

DENVER, Colo. — In an effort to share more about beef farming and ranching with audiences across the globe, “Beef. It’s What’s For Dinner.” is making its virtual ranch tours available in Korean, Japanese, and Spanish.

The project, made possible by the U.S. Meat Export Federation and National Cattlemen’s Beef Assoc., contractors to the beef checkoff, and Iowa Beef Industry Council, will offer a variety of new audiences an opportunity to virtually experience the U.S. beef industry and production practices.

The three translated 360-degree videos virtually transport the viewer to a ranch to learn more about how cattle are raised, including the ways beef farmers and ranchers care for the environment and their animals.

The 360-degree videos debuted in English last year at the Food & Wine Classic in Aspen. They are available online at

USPOULTRY accepting applications for Clean Water Awards

TUCKER, Ga. — The U.S. Poultry & Egg Assoc. (USPOULTRY) is accepting applications for the 2019 Clean Water Awards. These recognize outstanding performance of wastewater treatment plants that operate at poultry or egg processing facilities.

Winners will be announced at USPOULTRY’s 2019 Environmental Management Seminar Sept. 19-20, at the Hilton Sandestin Beach Golf Resort & Spa in Destin, Fla. Awards are presented in two categories – full treatment and pre-treatment. Full treatment facilities are those that fully treat their wastewater prior to discharge into a receiving stream or a land application system. Pre-treatment facilities discharge pretreated effluent to publicly-owned wastewater treatment facilities for further treatment.

Any USPOULTRY member company is eligible to submit three nominees in each category. Facilities which have previously won the award may not be re-nominated for five years. The deadline for submitting applications is June 28. For an application form, go to

Syngenta supports watermelon queen program with donation

GREENSBORO, N.C. — In 2018, Syngenta did something through its Full Count plant program that no other transplant program provider has done: It shipped its billionth watermelon transplant. To commemorate the milestone, it announced it has donated $10,000 to the National Watermelon Assoc. (NWA).

Syngenta is a major sponsor and supporter of the NWA and its national convention each year. The donation will be allocated to regional watermelon associations to fund public outreach via their watermelon queen programs. Watermelon associations that will share the donation are located in eight regions across the country: Florida, Georgia, Gulf Coast, Illiana, Mar-Del, North Carolina, South Carolina, and Texas.

Every year, the NWA crowns a national watermelon queen at its convention. At the regional level, watermelon associations sponsor their own queens. These are public outreach ambassadors who travel across their regions and the nation to educate consumers about the nutritional benefits and economic value of watermelons.

National Beef Packing Co. arranges to own Iowa Premium

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — National Beef Packing Co., LLC announced it has approved a transaction that will result in it owning 100 percent of the ownership interests in Iowa Premium, LLC. The transaction is subject to customary conditions, including the expiration of the waiting period under the Hart-Scott-Rodino Antitrust Improvements Act, and is expected to close in the second quarter of 2019.

Iowa Premium, located in Tama, Iowa, employs more than 800 people and processes approximately 1,100 head of Black Angus fed cattle per day. The company is well known for marketing high-quality beef products worldwide under several proprietary brands including Iowa Premium Angus and Est. 8 Angus.

Culver Duck Farms earns American Humane Certified seal

WASHINGTON, D.C. — Culver Duck Farms, Inc. has earned certification for the treatment of their animals from American Humane, the country’s first national humane organization and the largest certifier of animal welfare in the world. Culver is the first duck producer to achieve certification under the program.

To qualify as an American Humane Certified producer, Culver had to meet the program’s rigorous requirements, including many science-based standards covering everything from adequate space to proper temperature, air quality and much more. It also voluntarily agreed to undergo stringent, yearly audits by independent auditors to ensure the program’s standards are being implemented correctly.

Culver Duck began more than five generations ago as a family business and was one of the original Long Island duck companies. Under new ownership and leadership since 2016, Culver Duck has put an emphasis on animal welfare and continuously strives to improve the welfare of their animals through a dedicated program of best practices designed to enhance their production processes, facility designs, and animal husbandry.

Tennessee pesticide certification testing now more accessible

NASHVILLE, Tenn. — Tennessee pesticide applicators will now have improved access to required certification testing thanks to new and streamlined services. Applicators will be able to pay for and schedule tests online and receive results immediately following their exam.

The new pesticide certification, scheduling, and exam process is being administered for the Tennessee Department of Agriculture by PSI Services based out of Glendale, Calif. The company has been doing business with Tennessee agencies since 2004.

State and federal law requires any person who commercially applies or supervises the use of pesticides to be certified. There are 12,623 commercial applicators, 1,464 chartered pest control companies, and 215 restricted use pesticide dealers licensed in Tennessee.

For more information, visit

James Allen launches Foreign Animal Policy coverage

INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. — James Allen Insurance (JAI), the first in the industry to offer livestock policies for PRRS, PED, ASF, FMD, and avian flu, has developed a new program to offer even more comprehensive coverage through its Foreign Animal Policies.

Under the new program, producers and livestock operations can get a variety of operational expenses covered, including feed costs, insurance premiums, interest costs, loan payments, medication and vaccination costs, mortgage payments and property taxes, payroll and payroll taxes, rental and utility costs, veterinarian costs, and waste removal costs.

Coverage for these expenses is available with James Allen’s African swine fever (ASF), foot-and-mouth disease (FMD), porcine reproductive & respiratory syndrome (PRRS), and porcine epidemic diarrhea (PED) policies.

JAI works with farmers to create personalized policy plans for their operation based on the number of sows and hogs on their farm. Its policies for ASF, FMD, PRRS, and PED can be purchased together or separately based on each producer and operator’s needs.

DNR provides more than $52,000 to help support rural FDs

COLUMBUS, Ohio — The Ohio Department of Natural Resources (DNR) supports Ohio’s rural fire departments and the communities they serve. Through the Community Wildfire Risk Reduction (CWRR) grant program, the DNR Division of Forestry recently approved grant funding for 25 projects totaling $52,106 for fire departments in rural areas of eastern and southern Ohio.

CWRR grant projects are focused on supporting wildfire hazard mitigation, public education, and firefighter training for rural fire departments. Items purchased through these grants include dry hydrants, computers, tablets, GPS units, outdoor signs, and training room equipment and materials.

Many rural fire departments in Ohio have tight budgets, and the majority of their limited resources must be focused on absolute essentials to keep emergency services up and running. The CWRR program allows for cost-sharing to help make important ancillary programs, like community outreach, risk reduction, and safety campaigns, possible.

CWRR grant funding was provided to the Division of Forestry through a competitive process via the U.S. Forest Service.

fairlife to expand and build new production facility in Arizona

CHICAGO, Ill. — fairlife, LLC announced plans to increase overall production capabilities with the construction of a new 300,000 square-foot production and distribution facility in Goodyear, Ariz., a suburb of Phoenix.

fairlife currently produces multiple varieties of dairy-based beverages at its production plant in Coopersville, Mich., and distributes the highly nutritious beverages to retailers in the United States and Canada.

The new $200 million-plus facility, which is slated to begin operation in the back half of 2020, will house production lines that will play a key role in meeting the growing demand for fairlife. Working with the United Dairymen of Arizona (UDA) to source milk from numerous dairy farmers in Goodyear, the new plant will enable increased production of all fairlife products.

The new facility will incorporate advanced manufacturing technologies and efficient, energy-saving equipment to reduce power consumption. It will create more than 140 jobs locally.

Ironhorse Resources acquires Tennessee short lines

O’FALLON, Ill. — Ironhorse Resources, Inc. (IHR) has acquired the Sequatchie Valley Railroad (SQVR) and the Walking Horse and Eastern Railroad (WHOE) in Tennessee, as reported by Progressive Railroading.

The shortlines will be renamed the Sequatchie Valley Switching Co. (SQSC) and the Walking Horse Railroad (WHRR). Financial details of the transaction were not disclosed.

As IHR has pursued growth and acquisitions throughout its franchise, it has specifically targeted growth in Tennessee to bolster operational efficiencies and marketing in the region. SQSC is an 11.5-mile shortline serving south-central Tennessee from a connection with CSX at Bridgeport, Ala. The railroad's chief sources of traffic are gypsum, drywall, plastics, and railcar storage.

WHRR is an eight-mile shortline service in Middle Tennessee from a connection with CSX at Wartrace. The shortline's chief sources of traffic are soybean oil, molasses, plastics, and railcar storage.

Farmers have cost-share opportunity for certification program

NASHVILLE, Tenn. — Tennessee farmers looking to expand their markets and increase food safety by becoming good agricultural practices (GAP) certified now have the opportunity to receive financial assistance from the Tennessee Department of Agriculture (TDA).

GAP certification allows producers to sell directly to more businesses and institutions with stringent food safety requirements, such as grocery stores or hospitals. These new opportunities allow producers to increase their income, and the certification helps to ensure food is safe and wholesome for specialty crops throughout Tennessee.

The application period closes August 31. Qualified producers will have the opportunity to offset the cost of a GAP Certification inspection by being reimbursed 75 percent of the inspection cost up to $750. Funds are available on a first come, first served basis. Grant funds are available to producers only; warehouses and distributors may not apply.

Find more information and the application at or by emailing Grant Pulse at

Nearly $10 million available for Indiana clean air projects

INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. — The Indiana Department of Environmental Management (IDEM) and the Indiana Volkswagen Environmental Mitigation Trust Fund Committee (Committee) announced the first round of the Indiana Volkswagen Environmental Mitigation Trust Program’s grant funding, which will distribute awards ranging from $50,000-$2 million. Total available funding in the first round is $9.83 million.

Grant money will be awarded to clean air projects that significantly reduce diesel emissions across Indiana. Public and private entities may submit applications, and the Request for Proposals (RFP) deadline is June 17. Application information can be found at

The Committee will select projects by August with funds awarded soon thereafter. Questions about the RFP process can be directed to Shawn M. Seals at 317-233-0425 or

NCGA releases pollinator protection guide for corn growers

CHESTERFIELD, Mo. — The National Corn Growers Assoc. (NCGA), in partnership with the Honey Bee Health Coalition, is releasing new best management practices (BMPs) to protect bees and other pollinators in and around cornfields.

At roughly 92 million acres, field corn covers more land than any other row crop in the country, and in the Midwest Corn Belt, corn often makes up to 40 percent of the landscape or more. The BMPs presented in the NCGA’s new guide identify potential effects of agricultural practices on bees at each stage of production and recommend ways to mitigate those impacts.

The digital publication via showcases specific strategies such as reducing dust and drift while planting a pesticide-treated seed. Corn growers who rotate with soybeans could also see added benefit from their pollinator stewardship because bees can increase soybean yields by up to 18 percent, according to a 2005 study.

Tennessee cotton votes to support boll weevil program

NASHVILLE, Tenn. — A program that monitors for and prevents a destructive pest from being reintroduced to Tennessee cotton fields has been authorized to remain in operation. Tennessee cotton producers voted in a statewide referendum to continue an assessment to fund the Boll Weevil Eradication Program (BWEP).

A two-thirds majority vote from cotton growers was required for the BWEP to remain in operation. Of the producers who cast ballots at local USDA Farm Service Agency offices, 98.2 percent supported the measure. Of 326 total votes, 320 were in favor of continuing the program.

Tennessee Code Annotated 43-6-425, which governs the Boll Weevil Eradication Program, provides that a referendum authorizing assessments be held at least every 10 years. The voting result authorizes the operation of the BWEP through 2028.

Tennessee was officially eradicated of the boll weevil in 2009. The current focus of the program is to monitor for and prevent its reintroduction to the state. Since the beginning of the program, cotton insecticide use has been reduced 40-90 percent and cotton yields have significantly increased.

County Farm Bureaus launch community programs with grants

INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. — The Indiana Farm Bureau (INFB) issued three county development grants to support new or expanded county Farm Bureau programs, activities, or events that enhance the promotion of or provide education about agriculture. The Farm Bureaus that will receive financial assistance for programming this year are Pulaski, Starke, and Warren counties.

Pulaski County was awarded $1,050 to launch an educational program for students attending the Pulaski County Fair. The goal of the program is to educate them about new concepts for plant production, like aquaponics, and the importance of new forms of food production for feeding our growing world population. Once launched at the fair, Farm Bureau hopes to expand the programming into local classrooms.

Starke County was awarded $1,500 to launch a local Farm-to-Fork event. The purpose is to highlight the many ag products and their producers in Starke County, and to foster positive relationships between those producers and Farm Bureau.

Warren County was awarded $1,500 to implement a monthly mobile food pantry as part of the Warren County Food Insecurity and Food Deserts program. Since much of the county is qualified as a food desert, the mobile pantry would significantly improve access to food for those in need. Warren County Farm Bureau launched a trial into the program in January and served 64 local families with little promotion.

INFB’s program development grants are issued annually. All Indiana county Farm Bureaus are eligible to apply for up to $1,500 in funding each year.

IFN announces $13M capital raise, partnership with WVPA

INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. — Intelligent Fiber Network (IFN), a leader among Indiana’s commercial fiber broadband providers, announced it has raised nearly $13 million in equity investment funding from its existing independent local exchange company owners and one new owner: Wabash Valley Power (WVPA).

This funding helps position IFN to continue expanding and deepening its high-speed fiber network – giving the company access to new customers and extending fiber to new areas – while also making investments in network upgrades to ensure reliability, stability and scalability for the future.

The capital raise includes an investment from WVPA, which now becomes a member-owner of IFN, reflecting a decision and commitment by both companies to have telecommunications and electric companies work together to help address rural broadband connectivity. This is IFN’s third fund raise series since it began operation in 2002.

In addition to WVPA, the following member-owners of IFN also contributed capital to this raise: Heartland Innovations, Inc. (Ligonier, Ind.), Rochester Telephone Co., LightStream (Buffalo), Monon Telephone Co., Citizens Telephone Corp. (Warren), NineStar Connect (Greenfield), and Enhanced Telecommunications (Sunman).

To learn more about IFN and its services, visit

Land O’Lakes recognizes Ceres as farmer innovative advisor

CRAWFORDSVILLE, Ind. — At the recent Land O’Lakes SUSTAIN Partners In Excellence Summit, Land O’Lakes leadership was proud to honor just a few of the many outstanding ag retailers across the United States and Canada who are helping to drive improved environmental outcomes while supporting farm profitability and resilience. Ceres Solutions Cooperative, based in Crawfordsville, received recognition as leader at this event.

Ceres Solutions has helped drive the success of Land O’Lakes SUSTAIN program for the past two years. Ceres expert agronomists have enrolled nearly 100,000 acres into their SUSTAIN Program, and have taken an active role in educating their local community about soil health and conservation by hosting multiple field days for customers.

Ceres Solutions is a key leader in the Big Pine watershed conservation project focused on improving water quality in western Indiana. Ceres is also a key partner in a recently announced collaboration to source sustainably-grown corn from the Midwest for global ingredient supplier Tate & Lyle. The relationship enables Tate & Lyle to enhance sustainable agriculture by helping corn farmers target and measure the impact of environmental stewardship efforts.

Land O’Lakes is thrilled to have such innovative retailers as part of its network, and was proud to recognize Ceres’ good work with the Outstanding Ag Retailer Award.