Wednesday, January 3, 2018

Wednesday January 3 Ag News


Women in the agricultural industry looking to improve their business management skills are encouraged to register for the 2018 Women in Agriculture Conference organized by the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. The conference is Feb. 22-23 at the Holiday Inn Convention Center, 110 S. Second Ave. in Kearney.

The conference, one of the longest-running of its kind, allows women to network, attend workshops and gain knowledge to help them support their farms and ranches. The 2018 theme is "Growing Our Future, Valuing Our Traditions.”

The conference, which runs from 9:15 a.m. to 8:30 p.m. Feb. 22 and 7:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. Feb. 23, includes more than 30 workshops focusing on financial, market, production, human and legal risk.

Participants can hear from Ruth Hambleton, the founder of Annie's Project, who will speak on empowering and educating women producers; Ann Finkner, Farm Credit Services of America senior vice president and chief administrative officer, who will share resources to help women recharge while dealing with complexity, stress and multi-tasking; and Leslie McCuiston, America's 2017 Pig Farmer of the Year, who will share her story.

Registration is available at Paper registration forms can be requested by calling 402-472-1576. More information on the conference, including a full schedule, is available at the website.

Registration is $125 by Feb. 4 and $150 after that. Fees include workshop materials, registration, meals and breaks. Students attending a four-year college, two-year college or vocational/technical school can apply for a scholarship, as can 4-H and FFA members.

The conference is hosted by Nebraska Extension and the Department of Agricultural Economics at Nebraska.

Attorneys General from Across U.S. Take Action Against California’s Flawed Prop 65 Regulation on Glyphosate

Attorneys General in Idaho, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Louisiana, Michigan, Missouri, North Dakota, Oklahoma, South Dakota and Wisconsin have filed an amicus brief in support of the preliminary injunction sought by agriculture groups against California’s flawed Prop 65 regulation. In addition, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and the California Chamber of Commerce filed their own amicus brief in support of the preliminary injunction to halt the regulation.

California is requiring products that may contain the herbicide glyphosate to bear a false and misleading label, even though there is no scientific evidence to support this move. 

“We are pleased that attorneys general from across the country are standing up for agriculture and consumers by standing against this unconstitutional action by California,” said Gordon Stoner, President of the National Association of Wheat Growers.  “California’s flawed Prop 65 requirement will cause irreparable harm to the agriculture economy impacting American farmers and consumers everywhere. AGOur coalition is growing with the support of these attorneys general as well as the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and California Chamber of Commerce who are supporting our efforts to immediately halt this flawed action.”

The amicus brief, filed by Missouri Attorney General Josh Hawley, includes Attorneys General Lawrence Wasden of Idaho, Curtis Hill of Indiana, Thomas Miller of Iowa, Derek Schmidt of Kansas, Jeff Landry of Louisiana, Bill Schuette of Michigan, Wayne Stenehjem of North Dakota, Mike Hunter of Oklahoma, Marty Jackley of South Dakota and Brad Schimel of Wisconsin.

The National Association of Wheat Growers are the lead plaintiff in the case against California filed in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of California. The plaintiffs include the Agribusiness Association of Iowa, the Agricultural Retailers Association, Associated Industries of Missouri, Iowa Soybean Association, Missouri Chamber of Commerce and Industry, CropLife America, Missouri Farm Bureau, National Corn Growers Association, North Dakota Grain Growers Association, South Dakota Agri-Business Association and United States Durum Growers Association.  In December, the group filed a temporary injunction asking the court to halt the regulation.


Congressman Kevin Cramer introduced a bill cosponsored by Rep. Dave Loebsack (D-Iowa), House Agriculture Committee Ranking Member Collin Peterson (D-Minn.), Rep. Kristi Noem (R-S.D.), and Rep. Tom Emmer (R-Minn.) to require the Secretary of Agriculture to prioritize data from the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) Risk Management Agency (RMA) when computing average county yields for the purposes of the Agriculture Risk Coverage (ARC) Program.

The 2014 Farm Bill included two new programs for covered commodities, Price Loss Coverage (PLC) and Agriculture Risk Coverage (ARC), allowing the producer to choose once per farm bill which policy they believe would provide the most effective safety net. Unfortunately the design of ARC, and the manner in which USDA implemented the program has created problems for producers, particularly as it relates to inconsistent county yield data.

Rather than the current policy of prioritizing inconsistent survey data from the National Agricultural Statistics Service (NASS), Cramer’s three page bill (H.R.4654) would direct the Secretary to prioritize Risk Management Agency (RMA), or crop insurance, data over all other forms in counties where RMA offers county-wide insurance products, while also allowing the Secretary of Agriculture flexibility for all other instances.  Additionally, the legislation codifies USDA’s earlier decision to operate the program based on the physical location of the base acres, rather than requiring producers to elect one county for all payments.           

“Even though it is anticipated most producers will utilize Price Loss Coverage going forward, our legislation provides a surgical fix to ARC in case the program is reauthorized in the next Farm Bill,” said Cramer.

“As Ranking Member of the House Agriculture Committee, I’m working with my colleagues on both sides of the aisle to improve existing farm bill programs. While I’ve never been a fan of ARC I do believe we can make improvements to its data sources that will give producers more confidence in the program. This bill is a good starting point for reauthorizing the farm bill next year,” said Peterson.

Survey shows Iowans trust farmers are caring for livestock and the land

Iowa grocery shoppers place a great deal of trust in Iowa farmers and according to the latest Iowa Farm Bureau Food and Farm Index®, large majorities are confident that Iowa farmers take care of their animals and the environment responsibly.  The news is detailed in the latest Iowa Farm Bureau Food and Farm Index®, an annual survey conducted online by Harris Poll on behalf of Iowa Farm Bureau Federation (IFBF) to shed light on what Iowa grocery shoppers are putting in their carts, as well as the issues and factors that may influence their choices in the new year.

The latest survey of over 500 Iowa grocery shoppers shows nearly 9 in 10 (87 percent) are confident Iowa farmers are caring for their animals responsibly, with a third (33 percent) saying they are very confident.  “This is encouraging news for farmers who look for ways to improve the environments and efficiencies of livestock in their care.  There are so many ways that farmers raise animals today and this survey also shows consumers want and expect that flexibility to bring them more choices and nutritional options at the grocery store.  In fact, 84 percent of Iowans say it is important that farmers have the flexibility to use a variety of farming practices to provide them with different choices and price options at the grocery store and over a quarter (27 percent) say that farmer flexibility is very important to them,” says IFBF President, Craig Hill.

“Iowans who don’t farm have questions about those who do, so Iowa Farm Bureau, together with the Iowa Pork Producers Association, in cooperation with Iowa State University College of Veterinary Medicine and College of Agriculture and Life Sciences and the Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship, launched Iowa Farm Animal Care, a unique coalition which works to provide voluntary independent professional evaluations, increase awareness of how Iowans care for their animals and provide additional information and resources about the latest in animal care.   IFAC is the first-of-its-kind network in Iowa, bringing together experienced animal science experts and veterinarians from Iowa State University’s Colleges of Veterinary Medicine and Agriculture and Life Sciences, the Iowa State Veterinarian office at the Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship (IDALS), as well as animal welfare experts at the Animal Rescue League, the Iowa State Sheriff’s and Deputies Association and farmers,” says Hill.

The good news for farming innovation and flexibility is also apparent when it comes to farmers embracing conservation practices that work best for their farms.  According to the 2017 survey, over three-fourths (77 percent) of Iowa grocery shoppers are confident Iowa farmers are caring for the environment responsibly, with 1 in 4 (24 percent) being very confident.  Asked unaided, nearly 7 in 10 (68 percent) Iowa grocery shoppers say they are confident that Iowa farmers are taking on the challenge of improving water quality and they like to learn more about those efforts.  For example, hearing how farmers are installing cover crops, wetlands, and bioreactors, which is keeping more than 3.8 million pounds of nitrogen from reaching Iowa's water (source: 2015-2016 Iowa Water Quality Initiative Annual Progress Report) makes over 4 in 5 (84 percent) more confident that farmers are taking on the challenge of improving water quality, with 33 percent saying they are much more confident.  “Progress is happening and this survey underscores the importance of sharing that information.  Iowans can visit to learn more and see for themselves how farmers are managing their most precious resources,” says Hill.

The July 24-August 8, 2017, Iowa Farm Bureau Food and Farm Index was conducted online within the United States by Harris Poll on behalf of the IFBF among 507 adults aged 20-60, residing in Iowa who have primary or shared responsibility for household grocery shopping. 

NCBA, Cattle Genetics Experts Team Up For 2018 Genetic Webinar Series

Cattle genetics will be the focus of a new set of webinars to help cattlemen and women better use the tool in their operations.  The National Cattlemen’s Beef Association is teaming up with six genetics specialists from across the country to offer the NCBA Cattlemen’s Genetics Webinar Series, which will kick off Jan. 18, 2018.

Titled “Fake News: EPDs Don’t Work,” the January webinar will be followed by sessions in February, March and April that explore other aspects of genetic utilization that will give cattle producers a knowledge boost on cattle selection and breeding.

Providing expertise to producers through the webinar series is the eBEEF team, a group of six genetic specialists from five academic institutions that have invested time and resources in the advancement of the cattle industry through genetics. Members of the team are: Darrh Bullock, Ph.D., University of Kentucky; Jared Decker, Ph.D., University of Missouri; Alison Van Eenennaam, Ph.D., University of California-Davis; Matt Spangler, Ph.D., University of Nebraska; and Megan Rolf, Ph.D., and Bob Weaber, Ph.D., Kansas State University.

                The Cattlemen’s Genetics Webinar Series is being coordinated by the NCBA producer education team. The January session on EPDs will feature Van Eenennaam and Spangler, with other members of the eBEEF team conducting future webinars.

                According to Josh White, NCBA executive director of producer education, the genetics webinar series is an extension of NCBA educational webinars started several years ago. “Our model has been to do six or seven timely and seasonal webinars a year, geared to times that producers are looking at specific production practices,” White said. “We noticed that some of our largest viewership has been when we focused on genetics in the spring. We are excited to be partnering with the eBEEF team to expand the offering in 2018.”

                Darrh Bullock said the eBEEF team was created to expand the understanding of genetics beyond their own states. “Genetics specialists are a limited resource,” he said. “Even though we provide education in our own states, we feel an obligation to provide more education on a national basis, recognizing that many states don’t have genetics specialists.”

                Bullock said one of the creations of the eBEEF team is a website on where cattlemen can find out much of what they need to know about the genetics of beef cattle, featuring videos, factsheets, frequently-asked-questions and other resources. The new opportunity to work with NCBA on the webinar, he said, is an extension of the team’s outreach.

                “We have worked informally with NCBA for years, through Cattlemen’s College and individual webinars on genetics,” he said. “This new program is an opportunity to provide cattlemen with more information in advance of the upcoming breeding season, getting them up-to-date genetics information. There really is no better way to get the word out about this topic than through NCBA and the educational programs they coordinate. They reach many cattlemen.”

                Bullock said the upcoming webinar series is geared for any producer who would benefit from genetics knowledge, from the experienced seedstock breeder to someone who might be new to the cattle industry and needs to better understand genetics.

               Cattle producers are invited to join the webinars live, or access recordings of them following the sessions. For more information on the NCBA Cattlemen’s Genetics Webinar Series go to the producer education tab of the website. Recordings of previous webinars are also available on the site.

2018 BQA Producer Forum Open to All Cattle Producers

Attention all dairymen, cattle farmers and ranchers: There will be a Beef Quality Assurance (BQA) Producer Forum during the annual Cattle Industry Convention in Nashville in February. The forum is open to all cattle producers and BQA stakeholders. This is a time for cattle producers to have their voices heard about the checkoff-funded BQA program and where it’s headed in the future.

Join us for the checkoff-funded Beef Quality Assurance (BQA) Producer Forum at the 2017 Cattle Industry Convention on Thursday, February 1, at 11:00am. The producer forum will feature updates on BQA’s most recent initiatives including online training and the launch of the BQA Transportation Training and Certification program.

Highlights of the recently completed Beef Industry Traceability Report will also be shared during this meeting, the presentation will include the findings of the feasibility study regarding opportunities and challenges for the beef industry.  Producers will have the opportunity to share their input regarding the BQA program and open discussion is encouraged.

For more information about the forum, please contact Chase DeCoite ( For more information about BQA, visit, and for more on your beef checkoff investment, visit

Farm Groups Launch “Farm Town Strong” Campaign to Address Rural Opioid Epidemic

As farming communities face mounting challenges with the nation’s opioid epidemic, the nation’s two largest general farm organizations are teaming up to confront the issue. The American Farm Bureau Federation (AFBF) and National Farmers Union (NFU) today announced a new campaign, “Farm Town Strong,” to raise awareness of the crisis’ impact on farming communities. The campaign will also provide resources and information to help farm communities and encourage farmer-to-farmer support to overcome the crisis.

The groups have launched a new website,, to provide easy access to information and resources that can help struggling farm families and rural communities.

The Farm Town Strong campaign comes on the heels of a recent survey commissioned by AFBF and NFU that highlighted how the opioid epidemic has hit farmers and farm workers especially hard. While just under half of rural Americans say they, a family member or friend have been directly impacted by opioid abuse, for farmers and farm workers it’s 74 percent.  A strong majority of respondents also support increasing public awareness of anti-opioid resources and reducing the stigma that surrounds addiction to help solve the opioid crisis.

“Farm country has been hit hard by the opioid epidemic – even harder than rural America as a whole, or big cities,” said AFBF President Zippy Duvall. “It’s going to take everyone working together to combat this crisis to make a difference. That’s why Farm Bureau and Farmers Union are teaming up to show unity on this issue and encourage farm families to help their neighbors. If you or a family member has been affected by opioid addiction, it’s important to talk about it so that others will know they are not fighting this alone.”

“Opioid addiction—along with all of its consequences—is a silent, but very real, crisis for our farming communities,” said NFU President Roger Johnson. “The lack of services, treatment and support exacerbates the issue in rural areas, and the negative stigma associated with addiction makes it hard for farmers to discuss the problem. Too often, those struggling with addiction and their family members don’t seek the support they need. Through the Farm Town Strong campaign, we’re tackling this crisis head-on by encouraging more dialogue, more information sharing, and more farmer-to-farmer engagement.”

The two organizations will also hold public events and launch a social media campaign, #FarmTownStrong, to highlight the crisis and share resources. AFBF President Zippy Duvall and NFU President Roger Johnson will lead a discussion on overcoming the opioid crisis on Monday, Jan. 8, at the 2018 AFBF Annual Convention & IDEAg Trade Show in Nashville, Tenn.

More information on the campaign can be found at

NMPF Tells State, Federal Regulators: Enforcement Action Needed Against Doubly Deceptive Kite Hill “Almond Milk Yogurt”

The National Milk Producers Federation (NMPF) urged state and federal regulators today to take enforcement action against a plant-based food company whose imitation “yogurt” violates the federal definition for dairy foods and fails to provide the same nutrition as real yogurt.

NMPF called out Hayward, California-based Kite Hill for illegally labeling its line of products and implying the nut-based foods are suitable substitutes for the real dairy foods it attempts to mimic.

NMPF President and CEO Jim Mulhern said that Kite Hill’s line of products “is doubly deceiving, first as it declares the use of ‘almond milk’ as the main ingredient in their foods, and second in calling the resulting product ‘yogurt.’ A whitened slurry of nuts does not make milk, and adding bacteria to that mix and pouring it in a cup does not make yogurt.”

In letters sent today to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration(FDA) and California Department of Food and Agriculture, NMPF said that under existing federal regulations, the proper term for Kite Hill’s products is “imitation yogurt product.” The FDA standard of identity for yogurt defines a product made by culturing cream, milk, partially skimmed milk, or skim milk, alone or in combination, with specific lactic acid bacteria. NMPF said that “without real milk’s many nutrients as a base, this fake yogurt product fails to deliver the same nutrition as the real thing.”

NMPF noted that the Kite Hill imitation delivers 40 percent more calories and 10 more grams of fat compared to an equivalent serving of vanilla yogurt, while providing one-third less protein and zero calcium. “This is another outrageous example where plant foods misappropriate the names of real dairy products, but offer inferior levels of nutrition,” Mulhern said.

“Adding a word or two in front of the name of a standardized dairy food does not represent an appropriate common or usual name of the food. It only adds confusion for consumers about the nutritional content of foods,” according to the letter signed by Beth Panko Briczinski, Ph.D., NMPF’s Vice President of Dairy Foods and Nutrition.

National Milk also wrote to the California Department of Food and Agriculture because Kite Hill is based in northern California, and because the agency has jurisdiction over the labels of products manufactured and marketed in that state.

NMPF is revealing the company’s nutritionally inferior product in a shareable graphic, the latest installment in NMPF’s “Dairy Imitators: Exposed” effort that illustrates the nutritional disparities between imitation foods and real dairy foods, such as yogurt.

Commodity Classic Early Registration Discount Ends January 11

Only a few days remain to take advantage of early registration discounts for the 2018 Commodity Classic to be held Tuesday, February 27 through March 1, 2018 in Anaheim, California. Thursday, January 11, 2018, is the last day for early registration discounts.  Lesser registration discounts are available through January 29.

Registration fees vary depending on the number of days attended. Members of the sponsoring commodity associations receive additional discounts on registration.

Full registration covers all three days.  One-day registration is also available.  Details are available on the website.

The 2018 Commodity Classic will be held at the Anaheim Convention Center. The schedule includes a robust line-up of educational sessions on a wide range of current and relevant topics and issues.  Commodity Classic also boasts a huge trade show, the latest in agricultural innovation and technology, inspiring speakers, an evening of entertainment and the opportunity to network with farmers from across the United States.

There are also a number of optional tours available for those who want to explore the culture, history and scenery of southern California.

A detailed schedule of events is available at This year’s Commodity Classic will be held on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday—providing an opportunity for families to come in early or stay late to enjoy a weekend in the Anaheim area.

All registration and housing reservations should be made online at  Experient is the official registration and housing provider for Commodity Classic.  In order to stay at an official Commodity Classic hotel, reservations must be made only through Experient to ensure favorable rates, reasonable terms and confirmed hotel rooms.

Established in 1996, Commodity Classic is America's largest farmer-led, farmer-focused convention and trade show, produced by the National Corn Growers Association, American Soybean Association, National Association of Wheat Growers, National Sorghum Producers, and Association of Equipment Manufacturers.

Applications Now Open for 2018 Pork Industry Scholarships

The National Pork Board announces the opening of the application period of the 2018 Pork Industry Scholarships. This program is open to college juniors and seniors who have plans to pursue a career in swine production management or a related field. In addition, students who will be seeking to attend veterinary or graduate school with an emphasis on swine are encouraged to apply. The National Pork Board will award up to 21 scholarships in 2018 totaling $48,000. The top applicant will receive $5,000, the second-ranked applicant will receive $3,500 and all others will receive $2,000.

“Developing human capital and identifying future leaders is critical to the continued success of the swine industry,” said Chris Hostetler, animal science director for the Pork Checkoff. “The National Pork Board’s Animal Science Committee understands  this need and continues its commitment to recognize excellence and encourage students through awarding scholarships.”

The guidelines for the scholarship application and the online form can be found at The deadline for application submission is Feb. 16, 2018. Following review and selection, recipients will be notified in April.

“Students who meet the scholarship criteria are encouraged to submit an application for consideration.” Hostetler said. “This is an excellent opportunity to provide financial assistance to students seeking swine-oriented careers.”

About 80 percent of the previous recipients of the Pork Industry Scholarship have pursued advanced degrees as they prepared to serve the industry as veterinarians, nutritionists, reproductive biologists and management consultants.

Hog Prices Supported by Strong Demand

 Chris Hurt, Purdue University

In USDA's December Hogs and Pigs report, pork producers indicated they continue to increase the breeding herd at a slow-sustainable pace. The breeding herd was up one percent and the market herd was up two percent. These were in alignment with pre-report market expectations.

The U.S. breeding herd has expanded by seven percent since the start of 2014. The major states that have the largest increases over this period are: Missouri +30%; Ohio, Oklahoma, and Nebraska each up 10%, and Illinois up 6%.

Pigs per litter reached another record in 2017 at 10.59, a .9 percent increase for the year and a remarkable 15 percent improvement over the past decade.

There was some indication that producers will expand more rapidly in 2018 than the one percent larger breeding herd. Farrowing intentions this winter were up three percent followed by a two percent increase in the spring quarter. If producers follow through, this will increase pork production more rapidly in the last-half of 2018.

Taking the numbers from the report's inventory count, pork production is expected to rise by three percent in the first-half of 2018 and by near four percent in the last-half of 2018.

The theme for the pork market in 2017 was higher production and higher prices when pork production rose by 2.5 percent and hog prices were up 10 percent. The reason was strong pork demand around the world. That was led by bacon demand in the U.S. where retail prices were up about seven percent and by pork exports expanding around seven percent.

For 2018, we once again ask if hog prices can be higher with a 3.5 percent increase in supply and with sizable increases in competitive meats as well. The lean hog futures market is currently saying, YES!

Why might the futures market be correct? The foundation of the argument lies with demand. In 2018, the U.S. economy will grow more rapidly. The unemployment rate will drop modestly and is already at the lowest level since 2000. With the economy growing and most people working, wage rates will rise more rapidly. In addition, the new federal income tax law is likely to increase the size of the average paycheck (but certainly not for every family).

In 2018, the world economy is expected to be the strongest since the 2008/09 recession. USDA analyst expect net pork trade (exports minus imports) to increase by nine percent. Finally, packer demand will continue to strengthen as newly opened processing plants continue to expand toward full capacity in 2018. Stronger packer demand can increase the percentage of the pork value that is received by producers.

Beef will be a big competitor with pork for those extra dollars in many consumer's paychecks in 2018. Beef supplies are expected to rise by near five percent with chicken production up two percent and turkey up fractionally. All meat supplies will rise by about three percent. The question remains, "Can hog prices be higher in 2018 with all that meat?

Live hog prices are expected to be higher in 2018 according to the current lean futures market prices. Live hog prices are expected to average around $53 in 2018 compared to about $51 in 2017. Prices are expected to be in the low-$50s in the first quarter and then move up seasonally to average in the higher $50s for the second quarter, then back to the mid-to-higher-$50s for the third quarter and finish the year in the mid-to-higher $40s.

Cost of production is expected to be slightly higher for 2018 due to somewhat higher corn prices in the fall of 2018. Total costs is estimated to be around $50 per live hundredweight. Estimated profits for 2017 were around $5 per head above all cost of production. For 2018, that estimate is slightly better at $5 to $10 per head of profit.

All of the animal industries have now increased their production in alignment with U.S. average corn prices at $3.50 per bushel or lower and high-protein soybean meal at $350 or lower. Strong demand has helped carry animal prices in 2017 and is expected in 2018. However, the pork and beef industries will not be able to continue expanding at the nearly four percent annual rates of increase since 2014 where pork production is up about 16 percent and beef is up 14 percent (the four years from 2014 to 2018).

Avoiding supply expansion to a point where prices are not profitable is the goal for the animal industries. Secondly, the 2017 crops are now the fourth consecutive year of great yields and low feed prices. History suggest that these forces will not continue forever. Finally, for those pork producers who believe hog prices cannot be higher again in 2018, the lean futures market is currently providing strong pricing opportunities.

 Cargill reports fiscal 2018 second-quarter results

Cargill today reported financial results for the fiscal 2018 second quarter and first half ended Nov. 30, 2017. Key results include:
-    Adjusted operating earnings totaled $948 million, an 8 percent decrease against last year’s strong comparative of $1.03 billion.
-    For the first half, adjusted operating earnings stood at $1.84 billion, down 1 percent from last year.
-    Net earnings for the quarter on a U.S. GAAP basis were $924 million, down 6 percent from $986 million a year ago. First-half net earnings increased 3 percent to $1.9 billion.
-    Second-quarter revenues rose 8 percent to $29.2 billion, bringing the year-to-date figure to $56.5 billion.

“Even as conditions vary across our global markets, we continue to realize greater benefits from operating as an integrated company with a unique combination of talent, assets, insights and solutions,” said David MacLennan, Cargill’s chairman and chief executive officer.

He noted that during the quarter, the company announced more than $1 billion in agreed acquisitions, joint ventures and new investments in facilities. “Thanks to the results of our recent strong performance, we are reinvesting in ways that enable our teams to achieve more for our customers and lead for growth.”
Segment results

Adjusted operating earnings in Animal Nutrition & Protein narrowly exceeded last year’s strong second quarter. Animal nutrition earnings rose across the global business, with improvement led by premix and feed additives. Protein results in North America decreased slightly against a strong comparative period. As cattle costs moved up, retail demand for beef remained brisk, as did exports of U.S. beef. Pre-season marketing by the U.S. turkey business drove whole-bird sales in advance of the Thanksgiving holiday. The segment’s global poultry business trailed the year-ago quarter, as good performance in parts of Southeast Asia was offset by softer earnings elsewhere. In total, Animal Nutrition & Protein was the largest contributor to adjusted operating earnings in the second period.

Cargill completed several acquisitions in December that expand its focus on animal micro-nutrition. It purchased Cedar Rapids, Iowa-based Diamond V, a developer and manufacturer of natural feed additives, known as microbials, which improve animal health and performance by optimizing digestive function and immune strength. The acquisition complements Cargill’s recently formed partnership with Austria’s Delacon, a leading maker of natural, plant-based feed additives. Both investments support the market shift toward sustainable, natural feed ingredients that improve animal health and embrace changing consumer values.

The company also acquired Brazilian cattle feed producer Integral Animal Nutrition. It specializes in free-choice minerals that help grazing cattle meet their nutritional needs. Cargill bought full ownership of its premix joint venture in South Africa, which increases the company’s presence in a region where protein demand is growing.

In poultry, Cargill is forming a joint venture with U.K.-based Faccenda Foods. Once completed, the venture will serve the country’s food retailers and foodservice companies with fresh chicken, turkey and duck. With regard to organic growth, Cargill is investing $146 million in its cooked meats facility in Nashville, Tennessee. Acquired last year, the new outlay will double the plant’s pizza toppings capacity and fund the construction of a pepperoni production facility. The two projects will come on line in mid-2018 and mid-2019, respectively.

Earnings in Food Ingredients & Applications were up broadly, with a majority of the segment’s food ingredient businesses posting good gains for the quarter. Cocoa and chocolate products, malts for brewers, distillers and food manufacturers, as well as sweeteners and starches for food and other applications led results in most regions. The segment’s Asia-based businesses also contributed strongly to the quarter. Salt results decreased from the prior year, due in part to lower sales volume for deicing products after two mild North American winters. In addition to deicing and other industrial applications, the business serves food manufacturers with a wide range of salt ingredients and sodium reduction products.

Origination & Processing was down moderately from last year’s second quarter, as another year of very large U.S. corn and soybean crops added to the buildup in global stocks. Although global demand continues to grow, today’s abundant supplies have weighed on markets, diminishing volatility and trading opportunities. Even so, trading performance in North America was ahead of last year as was oilseed processing in Asia.

The segment is focused on deploying technologies that will better connect its global operations, enhance trading analytics and risk management, and increase supply chain sustainability – capabilities that bring additional value to customers. Supporting this effort are selective investments in new facilities. The company began constructing a $90 million biodiesel facility in Wichita, Kansas, marking its third such facility in the U.S. The new plant, which is set to open in early 2019, will allow Cargill to better serve biofuel producers in the Midwest and Southwest, and create an additional consumption flow for U.S. soybean production.

Results in Industrial & Financial Services pulled ahead of the prior year, buoyed by increased returns from asset management investments as well as improved profits in ocean transportation. Trade and structured finance was up slightly against a strong comparative period; it provides financial solutions that facilitate trade and mitigate trade-related risks for companies doing business in emerging and developed markets. In late December, Cargill completed the sale of its U.S. metals business to Japanese steel trader and distributor Metal One. Cargill remains active in energy and ferrous markets through its biofuels, financial risk management, metals and shipping businesses.
New solutions for positive impact

Numerous projects demonstrate how Cargill is advancing traceability and sustainability in supply chains. During the quarter, a pilot in the turkey business used blockchain technology to track Honeysuckle White® birds from the farm to Thanksgiving tables, providing consumers in select markets with information about the farms where individual animals were raised. In Canada, Cargill is launching a pilot to trace and verify a fully certified beef supply chain that meets the criteria for the Canadian Roundtable for Sustainable Beef. Through the program, customers will receive fully audited beef, while farmers and ranchers will earn a financial credit for participating. And Cargill’s cocoa business released its latest Cocoa Promise Report, celebrating five years of the Cargill Cocoa Promise that is helping ensure a vibrant cocoa sector for generations to come.

Cargill also is developing products that satisfy consumers’ changing preferences for healthier, simpler foods. The first product in the new SimPure™ line blends tapioca and potato starches to give food makers the same taste, texture, appearance and stability of modified starch with simplified, easier-to-understand labeling. More SimPure products are slated to arrive on the market in the near future. And in December, Cargill’s edible oils business announced the next generation of its Clear Valley® line of high-oleic canola oils, with 35 percent less saturated fat than previous offerings. The new product will continue to deliver the same taste and performance to food ingredient and quick-service restaurant customers, and will be available early in 2018.

“We are building businesses today that will provide our customers and consumers with the products and solutions they are seeking tomorrow,” MacLennan said. “We are thinking differently about how to create positive impact and increase consumer trust.”

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