More than half of American farmers lost money last year due to factors like weather, tariffs and persistently low prices. Farming will always be challenging, but technology is providing a hedge against the unpredictable, says the head of agriculture conglomerate Land O’ Lakes. Beth Ford, the giant cooperative’s president and CEO, shows Lesley Stahl who America’s farmers are and how they are using technology to survive today’s tough economic environment, on the next edition of 60 MINUTES, Sunday, Oct. 6 (7:00-8:00 PM, ET/PT) on the CBS Television Network.
Land O’Lakes employs roughly 10,000 employees who answer to Ford. She answers to the 4,000 farmers who are the owners of her agricultural cooperative, so she feels their challenges. “You’ve got trade issues and tariff issues. You’ve got a changing consumer and what they want,” she tells Stahl. “I mean, there are so many variables right now – pressuring farmers. And this year, right now, the central issue for farmers is weather.”
Technology is the driving force in most business sectors, and it’s becoming just as crucial in agriculture, says Ford. “We use satellite technology. We use predictive models. We use all of the things that probably other businesses use.” Satellite photos of fields reveal the low-yielding acres that are then tested to diagnose problems. Research Land O’Lakes conducts on test farms helps make planting and fertilizing more efficient by calculating the exact number of seeds or fertilizer required for crops.
Dave Estrem runs his 4,000-acre farm in Minnesota using the research data compiled by Land O’Lakes. Analysis of that data helps him control the amounts of seed, fertilizer and pesticide spread by his tractors, all equipped with computerized systems. On their dairy farm in Pennsylvania, Candice White and Amanda Condo monitor their 1,000-plus cows from apps on their smart phones.
“They’re very sophisticated businesspeople, they are very tech-savvy. They have to be to withstand this kind of market pressure,” says Ford. “It’s exciting. It really is, and I think most people don’t understand that agriculture is so tech-forward.”
Texas Ranger Who Coaxed Samuel Little to Confess to Those Murders Appears in
His First Television Interview
Texas Ranger James Holland has heard confessions from many, many murderers. But now one is telling the ranger he’s committed 93 murders himself – making him perhaps the most prolific serial killer in American history. The race is on to identify all of the women Samuel Little says he murdered, while the 79-year-old remains alive and continues to cooperate. Holland tells Sharyn Alfonsi in his first television interview how he got Little to open up about his victims, for a story to be broadcast on 60 MINUTES Sunday, Oct. 6 (7:00-8:00 PM, ET/PT) on the CBS Television Network.
Information Holland has gathered from Little has led to 50 cold case murders being solved. There are more Little says he committed that, if resolved, would give victims’ relatives answers and exonerate any innocent people who may have been wrongly convicted for the murders.
Holland says he broke through to Little by agreeing with him that he was not a rapist but truly a killer. This tack seemed to unlock the place where he kept detailed, almost photographic memories of every woman he killed. Holland describes Little’s process: “There’s indications of visualization, of when he’s thinking about a crime scene. He’ll start stroking his face. And as he’s starting to picture a victim, you’ll see him look out and up. And you can tell he has this revolving carousel of victims, and it’s just spinning, and he’s waiting for it to stop at the one that he wants to talk about.”
Little can count all of his victims, even still hear them, says Holland. A big aid in identifying victims has been Little’s ability to sketch very close likenesses of the women. Holland shows Alfonsi a collection of Little’s drawings, a collection he hopes will grow.
IMPEACHMENT INQUIRY – What do America’s voters and their elected representatives think of the impeachment inquiry going on in Washington? Scott Pelley goes beyond the Beltway to find out. Henry Schuster and Nicole Young are the producers.
TEXAS RANGER AND THE SERIAL KILLER – More than 100 murderers have confessed to James Holland. Now one is telling the Texas Ranger he’s committed almost 100 murders himself – making him perhaps the most prolific serial killer in American history. Sharyn Alfonsi reports. Draggan Mihailovich is the producer.
THE FARMER’S ADVOCATE – Beth Ford is the president and CEO of Land O’ Lakes, a giant cooperative of thousands of farmers with a technology unit that helps them farm efficiently and survive in today’s challenging economic environment. Lesley Stahl reports. Rome Hartman is the producer.