Wednesday, August 7, 2019

Tuesday August 6 Ag News

Adding Alfalfa to Corn-Soybean Rotation can Increase Profit, Reduce Nitrate Leaching
Charles Wortmann - NE Extension Soil and Nutrient Management Specialist

Wellhead protection areas of many Nebraska towns have been threatened with high aquifer nitrate levels. Alfalfa in rotation with annual crops has long been recognized as a means to reduce nitrate leaching.

Research has shown that in a 9- or 10-year rotation cycle with five years of corn and soybean rotation and four or five years of alfalfa, mean profit was 9% more with alfalfa in the rotation than with a continuous corn-soybean rotation for owned land. Applied fertilizer-N may be reduced by 66% with alfalfa in the rotation. In addition, alfalfa roots can be expected to deplete soil nitrate to a 10-foot depth (Kranz, et al., 2005).

Alfalfa will use the nitrate applied in irrigation water, reducing nitrate in the aquifer. If an average of 16 inches per year of irrigation water with 15 ppm nitrate-N is applied during a five-year stage of the alfalfa in a 10-year rotation cycle, about 270 lbs/ac of nitrate-N would be removed from the aquifer. If the alfalfa crop reduces soil nitrate-N to a 10-foot depth by an average of 5 ppm, about 240 lbs/ac of nitrate-N would be removed from the soil. Addition of alfalfa to the rotation may be a cost-effective means of reducing aquifer nitrate concentrations.

A spreadsheet calculator was developed to compare the profitability of rotations that include alfalfa with the corn-soybean or corn-soybean-wheat rotations. The rotations compared were:
-  Continuous corn-soybean (C:S) rotation;
-  Alfalfa (A) summer-sown following oats (O) (10-year rotation of C:S:C:S:O:A:A:A:A:A:C:S:C:S:O:A….);
-  Alfalfa (A) spring-sown following corn (9-year rotation of C:S:C:S:C:A:A:A:A:C:S:C:S:C:A….); and,
-  Alfalfa (A) spring-sown following corn (10-year rotation of C:S:C:S:C:A:A:A:A:A:C:S:C:S:C:A….).

The calculations were done for irrigated production in Knox County. Assumed yields were:
-    220 bu/ac for corn following soybean;
-    231 bu/ac for corn following alfalfa;
-    60 bu/ac for soybean;
-    3.5 t/ac with late summer sowing and 2.5 t/ac with spring sowing for first year of alfalfa; and
-    6 t/ac for other years of alfalfa.

Grain prices used were: $3.50/bu for corn; $8/bu for soybean; and $125/t for alfalfa hay. Calculations were for rental and for owned land, and for no-till and tilled. Costing was at custom rates for all oat and alfalfa operations and with grower owned equipment for corn and soybean operations.

Rotations with alfalfa had an average of 7% more profit than the corn-soybean rotation. With no consideration of federal farm program disaster payments or crop insurance indemnities.2 The mean net profit was $-24.39/ac for the corn-soybean rotation and $-12.80/ac for rotations with alfalfa for rented land at $250/ac, and $160.61/ac for C:S and $172.20/ac for rotations with alfalfa for owned land. The most profitable rotation was No. 4 (alfalfa (A) spring-sown following corn in a 10-year rotation of C:S:C:S:C:A:A:A:A:A:C:S:C:S:C:A).

In conclusion, there is an opportunity to reduce the loss of nitrate to aquifers and increase the extraction of nitrate from aquifers by including alfalfa in crop rotations while improving profitability.


 State and civic leaders joined Scoular executives today in Seward, Nebraska to celebrate the groundbreaking of a new state-of-the-art freeze-dried manufacturing facility. The facility establishes a new freeze-dried pet food ingredients business owned and operated by an indirect, wholly-owned subsidiary of Scoular. Over $50 million will be invested to build this facility, which is expected to create nearly 100 new jobs once operational.

The 105,000 square foot manufacturing facility will bring research and development, meat processing, freeze drying, and packaging together under one roof, creating nutritious and quality protein ingredients for pet food suppliers. The simplified ingredient supply chain provided by this new facility will efficiently meet the fast-growing demand for freeze-dried protein ingredients.

Construction of the facility at the Seward/Lincoln Regional Rail Campus is estimated to take approximately 14 months, with the goal of being operational by Fall 2020.

“We are continually identifying new ways to meet our customers’ needs and help solve their business requirements. This new facility reflects this commitment, as one of the first in the country to bring multiple phases of the freeze-drying manufacturing process under one roof for the pet food industry,” said Scoular CEO Paul Maass. “The positive response of the Seward community continually reaffirms the decision to build and operate the facility here.”

“Scoular is a homegrown Nebraska company that has been creating jobs in our state since the 1800s,” said Governor Pete Ricketts. “The groundbreaking of the freeze-drying facility is an exciting day for Seward. It’s another example of the manufacturing strength and economic growth that has helped Nebraska lead the nation in new investments each of the last three years.”

"It’s a great day for Seward as we welcome a new community partner,” said City of Seward Mayor Josh Eickmeier. “We appreciate the investment in the facility as the flagship business in our rail campus, and we look forward to growing with this business for years to come.”

The groundbreaking ceremony was followed by a celebratory luncheon in Seward.

As part of preparing for the facility’s operations, a temporary R&D lab has been established in Seward. It will serve as the headquarters for the operations in Seward until the new manufacturing facility is complete, as well as work with pet food customers to create solutions to identified challenges.

Hiring for the manufacturing facility will be a phased approach and is expected to begin in early 2020. Information will be provided to the community about employment opportunities in advance.

To learn more about the project and see progress updates, please visit

Youth Crop Scouting Event Tests Valuable Skills

Seven teams from across Nebraska participated in the sixth annual Crop Scouting Competition for Nebraska Youth July 23. It was held at the Eastern Nebraska Research and Extension Center near Mead. Teams of students (those completing 5-12th grades) participated by completing a written knowledge test and seven crop scouting exercises in field plots. Teams were expected to know the basics of scouting corn and soybean, including crop staging; looking for patterns of crop injury; and disease, insect and weed seedling identification.

The purpose of the competition w­­­as to provide students an opportunity to learn crop scouting and principles of integrated pest management (IPM) for corn and soybeans, to obtain knowledge and skills that will be helpful in future careers, and to demonstrate newer crop scouting technologies.

Winners of the 2019 competition were:
    First place ($500 prize) – Colfax County 4-H (R. J. Bayer, Jestin Bayer, Austin Steffensmeier, Logan Nelson, and Brad Kratochvil)
    Second place ($250 prize) – Kornhusker Kids 4-H Club #1 (Payton and Levi Schiller, Matthew Rolf, and Kaleb Hasenkamp)
    Third place ($100 prize) – Kornhusker Kids 4-H Club #2 (Landon Hasenkamp, Ethan Kreikmeier, James Rolf, and Ian Schiller)

The top two teams will represent Nebraska at the regional competition to be held in Iowa on August 26.

Also participating were:
    Humphrey FFA with Bryce Classen, Jacob Brandl, and Mikayla Martensen
    Twin River FFA with Keaton Zarek, Kyle Kemper, Jacob Czarnick, and Landon Cuba
    Auburn FFA with Kellen Moody, Austin Youngquit, Braden Gerdes, and Riley Stukenholtz
    Wayne FFA with Justus Greves, Noah Lutt, Tyler Reinhardt, Elle Barnes, and Alyssa Carlson

More information about the crop scouting competition is available online at Click on the link that says, “Crop Scouting Competition.”  This program was sponsored by DuPont Pioneer, the Nebraska Independent Crop Consultants Association, and Farm Credit Services of America in collaboration with Nebraska Extension.


Bruce Anderson, NE Extension Forage Specialist

               Will you chop corn silage this year?  Do it right and time your harvest correctly.

               Corn development and maturity is highly variable this year due to all the problems with spring rains.  If you always chop silage on about the same date, how will that affect your corn silage?

               Harvest timing is critical for success.  Timing needs to be based on moisture content of the silage.  Silage chopped too early and wetter than seventy percent moisture can run or seep and it often produces a sour, less palatable fermentation.  We often get this wet silage when we rush to salvage wind or hail damaged corn or when we chop late-planted corn with immature grain.  Live green stalks, leaves, and husks almost always are more than eighty percent moisture, so wait until these tissues start to dry before chopping.

               In our region, normal corn is often chopped for silage too dry, below sixty percent moisture.  Dry silage is difficult to pack adequately to force out air.  This silage heats, energy and protein digestibility declines, and spoilage increases.  If your silage usually is warm or steams during winter, it probably was too dry when chopped.

               Many corn hybrids are between 60 to 70 percent moisture after corn kernels dent and reach the one-half to three-quarters milkline.  This guide isn’t perfect for all hybrids, though, so check your own fields independently.

               Corn kernels in silage between black layer and half milkline are more digestible.  Drier, more mature corn grain tends to pass through the animal more often without digesting unless kernels are well  processed.  Also, older leaves and stalks are less digestible.

               So chop your silage at the proper moisture level this year.  The outcome will be better feed and better profits.


               Cane hay and other summer annual grasses can grow rapidly even when planted late like with prevented plantings.  Make sure you watch it closely to get it cut in time.

               I often encourage you to cut cane hay or hay from other summer annual grasses when they get about waist high.  Reasons for this relatively early cut include better protein and energy content, faster drying, and better palatability.

               This last week I saw a few fields and heard about many more that were way beyond that point.  Some were even headed out and maturing rapidly.  If this describes any of your fields, get them harvested as soon as possible.

               What’s the rush, you ask.  Of course, part of my concern is the lower forage quality and greater difficulty with getting the hay dry enough to bale that occurs when these plants get large and mature.  But, another concern with these fields is all the seed they can produce.  If you allow that seed to mature before cutting, it can pose problems for years to come.

               For starters, you won’t get much of that seed to remain in your hay when you cut it.  Most of that seed will shatter from the heads and fall to the ground either before you cut or when you strike the plants at harvest.

               Then the potential problems begin.  Over the next few years, that seed will germinate and cause potential weed problems for future crops.  Because cane and many other summer annual grasses are members of the sorghum family, cross-pollination could result in some of the seeds producing shattercane plants.  And we all know how much more difficult shattercane can be to control than many other weeds.

               So use timely harvest.  You will get better hay and fewer weeds.

Green Plains Reports Second Quarter 2019 Financial Results

Omaha-based Green Plains Inc. (NASDAQ:GPRE) this week announced financial results for the second quarter of 2019. Net loss attributable to the company was $45.3 million, or $(1.13) per diluted share, for the second quarter of 2019 compared with net loss of $1.0 million, or $(0.02) per diluted share, for the same period in 2018. Revenues were $895.9 million for the second quarter of 2019 compared with $986.8 million for the same period last year.

“We continued to face a challenging ethanol margin environment compounded by a reduced run rate early in the quarter as we emerged from a first quarter production slowdown that impacted our financial performance,” commented Todd Becker, president and chief executive officer. “We believe that maintaining a strong balance sheet while continuing to reduce operating expenses through our Project 24 initiative, should give us the financial stability to withstand any elongated margin weakness the industry may face.”

Revenues attributable to the company were $1.5 billion for the six-month period ended June 30, 2019, compared with $2.0 billion for the same period in 2018. Net loss for the six-month period ended June 30, 2019, was $88.1 million, or $(2.19) per diluted share, compared with net loss of $25.1 million, or $(0.63) per diluted share, for the same period in 2018.

“Consistent with our message to shareholders earlier this year to move our cattle business off-balance sheet, we are pleased to announce that we have signed a letter of intent to sell a minimum of 50% ownership of our cattle subsidiary to a group of financial investors including pensions,” stated Becker. “Green Plains will receive approximately $75 million in exchange for 50% of its equity investment in the business, deconsolidating approximately $335 million of working capital debt and lowering our interest expense by approximately $17 million annually when the transaction closes, which we expect to be within the next 30 to 45 days.”

“Project 24 remains on course in lowering our operating expenses to an estimated 24 cents per gallon across our ethanol platform after the four main commodities that make up our gross margin,” said Becker. “Since the end of the second quarter, our plant operating expense per gallon is tracking to approximately 28 cents a gallon compared to 32 cents a gallon in 2018 and 36 cents during the first quarter driven partially by 2019’s slower run rates. Our stated goal of running at over 90% of our platform’s capability going forward is beneficial for our ownership in Green Plains Partners and is critical in hitting our lower operating expense goals. We anticipate having Project 24 completed by the end of the second quarter 2020.”

“Our financial strength is a result of the strategic steps we began back in May of 2018 with our Portfolio Optimization Plan,” added Becker. “In addition, we continue to work with interested parties on proving value and monetizing certain production assets. While our company and industry have been hit hard by government policy, geopolitics and oversupply, we are not waiting for the recovery to happen. We will continue to transition this platform to high protein animal feed production as a growing driver of more predictable and stable earnings, beginning with the completion of our high protein project in Shenandoah, Iowa in late 2019.”

“We believe our equity value is not representative of the long-term value of our assets as proven in our assets sales and continues to be validated in our optimization plan,” concluded Becker. “With that said, we continue to further develop our capital allocation plan to address this ongoing disparity.”

Second Quarter Highlights and Recent Developments

    On June 21, 2019, the company announced the completion of its offering of $105 million aggregate principal amount of 4.00% convertible senior notes due 2024. The notes were offered and sold in a private placement to qualified institutional buyers as defined in Rule 144A under the Securities Act of 1933, as amended, by the initial purchasers of the notes. The company's net proceeds from the offering were approximately $101 million after deducting  commissions and offering expenses. The company used approximately $40 million of the net proceeds to repurchase approximately 3.2 million shares of common stock concurrently with the offering in privately negotiated transactions. The company also used approximately $57.8 million of the net proceeds to repurchase the outstanding $56.8 million outstanding principal amount of its 3.25% convertible senior notes due October 1, 2019, including accrued and unpaid interest, in privately negotiated transactions concurrently with this offering.
    On June 28, 2019, Green Plains Grain Company LLC entered into an amendment of its Credit Agreement with a group of lenders led by BNP Paribas. This Ninth Amendment to the Credit Agreement was completed to renew and extend the existing maturity date from July 26, 2019 to June 28, 2022. In addition to the extension of the maturity date, the amended Credit Agreement lowered the senior secured asset-based revolving credit facility from $125.0 million to $100.0 million.
    On July 19, 2019, the company closed on the issuance of the additional $10.0 million aggregate principal amount of the 4.00% notes (the “Option Notes”) to the initial purchasers. The Option Notes resulted in net proceeds to the company, after deducting commissions and offering expenses, of approximately $9.5 million. The company intends to use the additional proceeds for general corporate purposes. After the issuance of the Option Notes, total aggregate principal of the 4.00% notes was $115.0 million.

Results of Operations

Green Plains produced 224.0 million gallons of ethanol during the second quarter of 2019, compared with 296.3 million gallons for the same period in 2018. The consolidated ethanol crush margin was $(19.9) million, or $(0.09) per gallon, for the second quarter of 2019, compared with $25.6 million, or $0.09 per gallon, for the same period in 2018. The consolidated ethanol crush margin is the ethanol production segment’s operating income (loss) before depreciation and amortization, which includes corn oil, plus intercompany storage, transportation and other fees, net of related expenses.

Consolidated revenues of $895.9 million decreased $91.0 million for the three months ended June 30, 2019, compared with the same period in 2018, due primarily to the disposition of three ethanol plants and the sale of Fleischmann’s Vinegar during the fourth quarter of 2018, offset by increased cattle volumes sold due to the acquisition of two feed lots in the third quarter of 2018.

Operating loss for the three months ended June 30, 2019 was $39.4 million, compared with operating income of $11.8 million for the same period last year, primarily due to decreased margins on ethanol production as well as the disposition of Fleischmann’s Vinegar during the fourth quarter of 2018. Interest expense decreased $6.1 million to $16.0 million for the three months ended June 30, 2019 compared with the same period in 2018, primarily due to the repayment of the $500 million senior secured term loan during the fourth quarter of 2018. Income tax benefit was $14.7 million for the three months ended June 30, 2019 compared with $10.8 million for the same period in 2018.

Earnings before interest, income taxes, depreciation and amortization (EBITDA) for the second quarter of 2019 was $(19.8) million compared with $41.8 million for the same period last year.

T-Bone the Corn-fed Steer Will Strut His Stuff at the Iowa State Fair

The Iowa Corn Promotion Board® (ICPB) is proud to sponsor T-Bone the corn-fed steer at this year’s 37th Iowa State Fair Governor’s Charity Steer Show on Saturday. Accompanying the steer will be Iowa Corn Growers Association® President Curt Mether, a farmer from Logan. All proceeds of the show go directly to the Ronald McDonald Houses of Iowa and the families in need at the facility.

Also accompanying T-Bone is Brynn Nickle of Clearfield, Iowa. Brynn is involved in her local 4-H and FFA organizations and will be a junior at Mount Ayr Community Schools. Brynn says T-Bone’s favorite feed of choice is… corn! T-Bone is not alone; corn-fed beef is the most widely produced type of beef in the U.S. In fact, 8 percent or 1.1 billion bushels of U.S. corn went to feed beef cattle in 2017. This assures a consistent year-round supply of high-quality beef with the tenderness and flavor most consumers prefer. Cattle usually spend four to six months in a feedlot, during which they are fed a scientifically formulated ration of corn and/or silage, hay and distiller’s dried grains with solubles (DDGS).

Find out more about the importance of the livestock industry to Iowa’s corn farmers, go to

Students Sharpen Ag Policy Knowledge on the Hill

A select group of 10 college students from across the country completed the Ag Voices of the Future program, July 22-25, 2019, in Washington, D.C. The program is sponsored by Valent U.S.A. and the American Soybean Association (ASA) and gives students an inside look at how agricultural policies are made in Washington. The class was held in conjunction with ASA’s summer board meeting and Soy Issues Forum.

An application process for the Ag Voices of the Future program was initiated this past winter in partnership with the collegiate organization Agriculture Future of America (AFA). Students had the opportunity to apply for the AFA Leaders Conference and Ag Voices of the Future program through the same application. The following students were selected for this year’s Ag Voices of the Future class:
• Brooke Beinhart, Iowa
• Leah Mosher, Iowa
• Alexandria Lock, Missouri
• Lora Wright, Missouri
• Sarah Dintelmann, Illinois
• Maria Brockamp, Illinois
• Claire Eggerman, Illinois
• Kolesen McCoy, Ohio
• Tyler Zimpfer, Ohio
• Abbie Wooten, Oklahoma

“We are proud to collaborate with ASA and support the soybean industry to provide students with a hands-on educational experience focused on ag policy,” said Matt Plitt, Valent U.S.A.’s executive vice president and chief operating officer. “Valent is committed to advancing sustainable agriculture, and this program provides our next-generation of leaders with the opportunity, access, and education that will enable them to grow their skills and knowledge to shape the future of agriculture.”

The students received an education on effective advocacy and the significant legislative, trade and regulatory issues that impact farmers. The program also gave students the chance to visit with others who work in Washington to learn more about careers related to agriculture policy.

“ASA appreciates Valent’s support of this valuable program helping to develop future agriculture industry leaders,” said ASA President Davie Stephens, from Clinton, Ky. “As the majority of Americans are at least three generations removed from the farm, it’s important to invest in these young people who have a strong ag background and interest in shaping our industry and agriculture policies. Cultivating these interests and their passion is not only an investment in their futures—but the future of the agriculture industry.”

The students visited with staff from USDA and EPA; participated in Hill visits with their state soybean associations; and met with a senior staff member for the Senate Ag Committee and leaders from other national organizations, including CropLife America. They also completed a writing workshop with a top speech writing firm, and enjoyed an evening tour of the National Mall and Memorial Parks.

ASA will issue an announcement next winter on how to apply for the summer 2020 Ag Voices of the Future program.

SHIC Convenes Feed Ingredient Workshops to Address ASF Threat

African swine fever (ASF) is creating major changes in global livestock feed ingredient and food trade. US pork producers feed imported swine feed ingredients, including vitamins and soybean products, from China where the ASF pandemic continues to grow. Responding to the potential threat posed to US swine herd health by these imported ingredients, which may be vectors for ASF transmission, the Swine Health Information Center (SHIC) brought vitamin manufacturers and the soybean industry together for workshops in April and July. At each event, the purpose was to discuss and better understand how imported vitamin and soybean products relate to disease transmission. By conducting these events at the University of Minnesota, SHIC is facilitating engagement intended to prevent ASF introduction into the US via imported feed ingredients.

All documents from the workshops can be found on the SHIC website. Facilitating collaboration through organizing these workshops reflects SHIC’s mission to monitor and be prepared for emerging diseases, protecting US swine herd health, and producers’ livelihoods.

Participants at both workshops talked about ASF mitigation strengths and weaknesses in manufacturing as well as transportation of these feed ingredients. Representatives from the vitamin supply chain pointed out there is little risk from reputable companies able to discuss and answer the Questions to Ask Your Feed Supplier posted on the SHIC website. The vitamin supply chain report  includes a detailed listing of vitamin manufacturers in China and their web sites as well details on biosecurity procedures and third-party audits of many of these facilities. Stakeholders were very interested in soybean meal mitigation processes (both extracting and expelling) to inactivate the virus, with evaluation of efficacy of all mitigants and related processes required.

Workshop attendees are concerned about the high consequences of ASF or other FADs being discovered in the US, though both groups agreed the risk for ASF infection cannot yet be quantified. Participants in the workshops encourage the development of diagnostic testing capability for feed and feed ingredients as well as a response plan to support monitoring of these products. Should ASF or another foreign animal disease (FAD) be diagnosed in the US, a plan to assess and mitigate contamination within the feed supply chain is essential. Attendees also know more information is needed on the amount of feed ingredients being imported from each country as well as their FAD status. The logistics of soy imports and exports need scrutiny as well, with contamination during transportation being a consideration.

A review of Canada’s approach to ASF control in the feed ingredient supply chain was presented during the soybean workshop. The Canadian government has developed and implemented a program with importation requirements as a result of their assessment of the risk of ASF virus transmission in grains, oil seeds, and associated meals.

The soybean group discussed the potential risk factors in the US soy supply chain being soybean hulls and transportation cross-contamination So, for soy products, a better understanding of logistics is needed. Importers of specialty soy products like organic soybean meal also need to be better informed about ASF risk and appropriate actions to prevent disease transmission. This includes biosecurity and pre-screening protocols for importers.

Funded by America’s pork producers to protect and enhance the health of the US swine herd, the Swine Health Information Center focuses its efforts on prevention, preparedness, and response. As a conduit of information and research, SHIC encourages sharing of its publications and research for the benefit of swine health. Forward, reprint, and quote SHIC material freely. For more information, visit or contact Dr. Paul Sundberg at

Advanced BioEnergy to Sell 2 South Dakota Ethanol Plants

Advanced BioEnergy LLC announced that, together with its subsidiary ABE South Dakota LLC, it has entered into agreement to sell its Aberdeen and Huron, South Dakota, ethanol plants to Glacial Lakes Energy LLC for $47.5 million plus the value of ABE inventory at the time of closing.

The company will continue to operate its two ethanol plants at Huron and Aberdeen, with a combined production capacity of 86 million gallons per year, until the transaction closes, which is expected in the third quarter.

In connection with the sale, the company will be adopting, subject to ABE unitholder approval, a plan of liquidation under which the company will be liquidated and the proceeds of the sale will be distributed to unitholders, after payment of the company's outstanding debt, transaction-related expenses and other expenses related to the plan of liquidation.

On Feb. 26, the company announced that it had begun exploring strategic alternatives for its business operations, including the possibility of a sale of one or both of its ethanol plants, and retained Ascendant Partners Inc. to advise it in this process and help evaluate the opportunities and options available to the company.

Five Fertilizer Prices Move Lower Compared to Previous Month

Five retail fertilizer prices were lower in the first week of August, according to prices tracked by DTN, with four of the prices dropping by $4 per ton since the first week of July.  None of the eight fertilizer prices moved a significant amount, which DTN considers 5% or more.

MAP had an average price of $530/ton, down $2; anhydrous $580/ton, down $4; DAP had an average price of $494/ton, down $4; urea $428/ton, down $4; UAN28 $272/ton, down $4.

Three fertilizers were higher compared to the previous month. That includes 10-34-0 $486/ton, up $4; UAN32 $320/ton, up $3 and potash $393/ton, up $1.

On a price per pound of nitrogen basis, the average urea price was at $0.47/lb.N, anhydrous $0.35/lb.N, UAN28 $0.49/lb.N and UAN32 $0.50/lb.N.

All eight of the major fertilizers are higher compared to last year. DAP is 1% higher, MAP is 5% more expensive, 10-34-0 is 10% higher, potash is 11% more expensive, UAN28 is 13% higher, UAN32 is 15% more expensive, while anhydrous and urea are both 17% higher compared to last year.

CCFN, U.S. Dairy Industry and Consorzio Tutela Mozzarella di Bufala Campana Sign Historic Agreement on Geographical Indications and Common Names, Providing Transparency for Consumers

The Consorzio Tutela Mozzarella di Bufala Campana, the U.S. Dairy Export Council (USDEC) and the Consortium for Common Food Names (CCFN) have signed an historic agreement that is expected to pave the way for a new dialogue on the protection of products of origin in the United States and in global markets - including those bearing geographical indications (GIs), while respecting the rights of companies to produce and market products bearing generic names. The new agreement provides greater support for robust protection in the United States and around the world for the Mozzarella di Bufala Campana Protected Designation of Origin (PDO), while unequivocally establishing the free use of the generic term "mozzarella" to indicate a type of cheese. Consorzio President Domenico Raimondo, and CCFN Executive Director and USDEC Senior Vice President Jaime Castaneda, signed the agreement yesterday in Caserta, Italy.

The agreement recognizes the distinctive character of the name Mozzarella di Bufala Campana PDO and its territory of production. It also recognizes the rights of all to freely use the term "mozzarella" to describe a cheese produced according to the definition provided by the Codex Alimentarius or the U.S. Food and Drug Administration Standards of Identity.

"This agreement will bring clarity to American and global consumers while protecting their ability to choose from a wide selection of high-quality cheese products," Castaneda said. "This is an important step toward furthering conversations to protect the rights of common name producers as well as good faith GI holders. We look forward to continuing to work with our Italian colleagues to build upon this foundation of mutual respect for our respective food and wine industries."

The United States is the largest non-EU export market for Mozzarella di Bufala Campana, making this agreement a significant step towards protecting both valid GIs and the use of common food names. In addition, Raimondo and Castaneda sent a joint letter to the European Commission and to the U.S. and Italian governments asking that they honor the agreement and support efforts to protect both the name Mozzarella di Bufala Campana and the free use of the term mozzarella in markets across the globe.

"We have embarked on the path of discussion with the main organizations in the sector in the USA, with the aim of listening to each other's needs and addressing them in an operational, pragmatic way, and without prejudicial attitudes," said Raimondo, who is also president of the Association of Italian Cheeses DOP (AFIDOP). "Our staff have been determined and worked diligently and this agreement is the first fruit of a collaboration that we hope will be extended to other cheeses and bring, if anything, the resolution of long-standing problems. We have sent a message to politics: we must start from this dialogue; it is the starting point for relaxing relations. Only in this way can we avoid closures and protectionist policies."

The summit between the Consorzio, CCFN and USDEC was also attended by the chairmen of Assolatte and CCFN.

NGFA, other agribusiness groups say USDA’s new proposed rules  for regulating biotech products ‘fundamentally flawed’

The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) new proposed rule for regulating plant-based agricultural biotechnology products, as drafted, is “fundamentally flawed” and could contribute to future trade disruptions, the National Grain and Feed Association (NGFA) and several other grain- and oilseed-based agribusiness associations said in a joint statement submitted on Aug. 6.

“Our industry, and our farmer-customers emphatically need to avoid the costly trade disruptions that have been associated periodically with transgenic biotechnology,” wrote the NGFA, Corn Refiners Association, National Oilseed Processors Association, North American Export Grain Association and North American Millers Association. “If the U.S. government’s regulatory oversight approach to genome editing and other plant breeding innovation is out of step with the domestic food industry or America’s significant export markets, it will have perilous repercussions for the grain and oilseed value chain, including U.S. farmers.”

The groups stressed that they strongly support the use of biotechnology and plant-breeding innovation, including genome editing, for its role in providing an abundant, affordable and environmentally sustainable food, feed and energy supply for U.S. and global consumers. But the groups also stressed that a “cornerstone of U.S. agriculture’s competitiveness” is its ability to efficiently and cost-effectively market America’s agricultural abundance. “It is through this dual lens – support for technological innovation while ensuring the continued efficient marketability of crops in which it is used” – that the five organizations said the proposed rule needs to be viewed. 

Under the proposed rule published on June 6, USDA’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) – which has authority to determine whether agricultural biotech traits pose a plant pest or noxious weed risk to the environment – would exempt most crops developed with gene-editing techniques from regulatory oversight. APHIS’s proposed rule states that such plants can be developed through traditional breeding techniques, making them unlikely to pose a greater plant pest risk than conventionally bred crops. The APHIS proposal also would empower crop developers to make a “self-determination” that their plant is exempt from APHIS regulatory oversight, without providing any notification to the agency. Under the proposed rule, technology providers would have the “option” to request written confirmation from APHIS that their self-determinations are valid.

The agribusiness organizations said such a broad self-determination approach “risks undermining consumer acceptance and international regulatory recognition of APHIS’s regulatory oversight.”

The organizations urged APHIS to amend its proposed rule to require all technology providers to notify the agency in advance before introducing gene-edited or other plant breeding innovation traits for commercialization – even those within APHIS’s expressly exempted categories – to provide needed transparency to the market and to consumers. Doing so would enable the agency to issue an official attestation that the trait does not pose a plant pest risk, “thereby providing an important tool to efficiently market U.S. agricultural products.”

The statement also reiterated NGFA’s long-held belief that obtaining international recognition or acceptance in significant U.S. export markets should be a precondition to avoid potential trade disruption before APHIS proceeds with a final rule.

Further, the groups said it would be ill-advised for APHIS to proceed with regulatory changes until its fellow federal agencies that operate under the U.S. “Coordinated Framework for Regulation of Biotechnology” – the U.S. Food and Drug Administration and the Environmental Protection Agency – issue rules or guidance on how they plan to address their respective oversight of genome editing and other plant breeding innovation technologies.

“Our members support the use of agricultural biotechnology and plant breeding innovation,” the organizations concluded. “However, for the member companies of our organizations, and the farmers and downstream customers they serve, the importance of efficiently and cost-effectively marketing U.S. farmers’ agricultural abundance without encountering recurring trade disruptions is paramount. We can ‘build it,’ but if U.S. and global consumers ‘don’t come’ (i.e., ‘don’t buy it’) the acceptance of this valuable technology could be imperiled and undermined irrevocably.”

Pioneer Expands Pioneer® Brand Enlist E3™ Soybeans Availability for 2020 Planting

Today, Pioneer announced expanded availability of Pioneer® brand Enlist E3™ soybeans for 2020. Varieties will be available across the U.S. in a range of maturities.

Pioneer brand Enlist E3 soybeans contain the most advanced weed control trait technology for soybeans. The soybeans provide tolerance to glyphosate, glufosinate and the new 2,4-D choline in Enlist Duo® and Enlist One® herbicides to help control glyphosate-resistant and other weeds and broadleaf grasses.

“Pioneer brand Enlist E3 soybeans bring another weed control option to farmers, enhancing the already-strong Pioneer brand soybean lineup,” said John Schartman, Pioneer Marketing Leader, Soybeans. “Local Pioneer sales representatives work closely with farmers to select the best varieties for their operation, whether they are looking for high yield potential in Pioneer® brand A-Series soybeans or a specific herbicide-tolerant trait as part of their weed-control management program.”

Farmers who plant Pioneer brand Enlist E3 soybeans can apply Enlist herbicides in burndown through postemergence.

“Enlist herbicides not only offer excellent broadleaf weed control but ease of use for farmers and applicators,” Schartman said. “With tank-mix flexibility, near-zero volatility and a reduced potential for physical drift, Enlist herbicides help achieve excellent weed control, which gives Pioneer brand soybeans the opportunity to help maximize yield potential.”

Help prevent next-lactation mastitis on dry off day

Juan Pedraza, DVM, Dairy Technical Services, Zoetis

What happens in the dry period … doesn’t stay in the dry period. The productive revenue potential of an average U.S. Holstein is nearly $4,500.* That value can be compromised when cows calve with mastitis, leading to lowered milk production and increased milk waste and culling rates. Your cows’ next lactation begins on the day of dry off; your mastitis prevention should too.

A seven-year study of environmental streptococci intramammary infections found that 51% of these infections occurred in dry cows.1 If these infections are not addressed, you face increased production loss and increased expenses as soon as affected animals join the milking herd. Dry cow therapy can resolve existing infection and prevent next-lactation mastitis, saving you money in treatment costs and associated labor.

Preventing mastitis in dry cows can also have a positive effect on the major drivers of dairy profitability: somatic cell counts, energy-corrected milk production per cow, death losses, net herd turnover costs, pregnancy rates and heifer survival. Healthy cows typically produce more milk, get pregnant faster, have lower somatic cell counts and stay in your herd longer. Dry cow therapy can be a low-cost way to prevent cows from more costly mastitis infections during lactation. It can also help protect the investment you’ve made in your herd’s next lactation while benefitting your dairy’s profit margins.

Follow these three steps to help prevent next-lactation mastitis:
1.     Clear up lingering mastitis infections with an intramammary dry cow tube. Treating residual mastitis infections at dry off can help prevent the need for antibiotic use during lactation. Intramammary dry cow tubes also ensure that mastitis infections are not sealed inside the udder, where they can fester until diagnosed at the cow’s next lactation.

2.     Prevent bacterial invasion with ORBESEAL ®. During the dry period, keratin plugs form in the teat and act as a physical barrier to bacterial entry. However, not all cows are able to form this plug on their own. A proven, well-researched internal teat sealant is an easy way to ensure that all of your cows have the protection they need.

3.     Vaccinate against E. coli mastitis. Coliform intramammary infection rates are about four times greater during the dry period than during lactation.2 Vaccination can reduce the severity of these cases, which can eliminate the need for treatments and mean less production loss for your dairy.  

Talk to your veterinarian to establish a dry cow management plan that ensures what happens in the dry period doesn’t affect your cow’s next lactation or your bottom line.

A Third of Food Labeled 'Gluten Free' is Really Not

Where Food Comes From, Inc., third-party verification of food production practices in North America, announced the launch of the Gluten Free by WFCF standard. The new branding replaces the Gluten-Free standard formerly administered by the company's ICS business unit.

"Based on anticipated higher demand for gluten-free verifications following the alarming results of a recent study showing a high percentage of gluten-free labeled restaurant food actually contained gluten, we decided to bring the standard under the Where Food Comes From umbrella, where it should enjoy a higher profile among consumers and potential customers in the food supply chain," said John Saunders, Chairman and CEO of Where Food Comes From, Inc.

"Our updated standard includes more stringent requirements that are necessary to reassure CPG makers as well as restaurants and their customers that ingredients in grain-based products and menu items have been thoroughly vetted. Going forward, audits related to the newly launched Gluten Free by WFCF standard will be conducted by our IMI Global and ICS business units," said Saunders.

The gluten-free study, published recently in The American Journal of Gastroenterology, showed 32% of gluten-free labeled food in restaurants contained gluten. According to the study, the worst offenders were pizza and pasta, with gluten discovered in 53% of pizza samples and 51% of the pasta tested. The detection rates were higher on dinner menus (34%) compared to breakfast menus (27%).

A gluten-free diet is the cornerstone of therapy for celiac disease, which is an inherited autoimmune disorder triggered by consumption of gluten, a protein found in various grains. Symptoms of the disease, which affects the small intestine, include bloating, constipation, chronic fatigue and abdominal pain. Approximately 1% of the U.S. population suffers from celiac disease, but 83% of those sufferers are not diagnosed.

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