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Texas Seed Trade Association Weekly UpdateTexas Seed Trade Association Provides Public Comment on U.S. EPA Draft Endangered Species Act Herbicide Strategy
Oct 26

TSTA Weekly Update, 10/26/2023

Weekly Update from the Texas Seed Trade Association

Member News


Membership renewals for 2023-2024 have been mailed, please look for them! And thank you to those who have already returned renewals!


Growout season is close! Please download a growout intention survey here and return it to the TSTA office via email attachment. It's important to have a reasonable idea of the acreage we'll be needing this winter.


Last year's growouts in Costa Rica were the best ever and the Gan Eden Farm in Puerto Rico does a great job year after year. Send your seed to either, or both, locations with confidence.


Join the American Seed Trade Association (ASTA) this December 5 - 8, 2023 at our NEW venue, the Hyatt Regency Orlando, for the Field Crop Seed Convention, an unparalleled seed business networking and educational opportunity. Gathering over 2,000 attendees from 36 countries, the Field Crop Seed Convention (formerly known as the CSS & Seed Expo) is THE place to see and be seen amongst the global community of companies working in all field crops, from corn and soybean, to wheat, rice, cotton, sorghum and so much more. Now in Orlando, after 77 years in Chicago, our new venue offers any and all seed industry stakeholders a wealth of new opportunities, in a central hub of exhibits, sessions and private meeting rooms all in one combined meeting space area. 

Visit the conference home page to learn more


The 35th Annual Texas Plant Protection Conference will be December 5 & 6 at the Brazos Center in Bryan, Texas. Click here for more info and to register


The Western Seed Association annual meeting is now accepting registrations. Click here to register.

In an effort to update and maintain our membership records we request you take a few moments and fill out the very brief info request at the following link.


The link is secure and the information will be used internally by the Texas Seed Trade Association and never shared without your permission. This request is on behalf of your association's board of directors and officers and we greatly appreciate your cooperation. Thank you!


10/26/2023 - If you have not updated your information please take a moment and do so now. We appreciate it! We continue to update this database and need your input!

Texas Seed Trade Association Provides Public Comment on U.S. EPA Draft Endangered Species Act Herbicide Strategy

TSTA Staff


This U.S. EPA proposal has the potential to make big changes in the way you, and your contract seed growers, farm in Texas and beyond.


Recently the U.S. EPA (agency) posted a proposed strategy for mitigation of herbicide risk to endangered species. The document is long, complex, and incomplete with respect to explanations of exactly how the proposed rules would be communicated and enforced.


The proposed strategy can be found here. It's 96 pages long and if it makes better sense to you than it did to us please call us for a discussion. We reviewed the proposal carefully as well as read analysis from several credible sources prior compiling a three page response. The EPA proposal seeks to make it "easier" for the agency to communicate with U.S. Fish & Wildlife on Endangered Species Act issues of concern. Seemingly forgotten in this mess is the extraordinary burden that would be placed on farmers across the nation to facilitate "ease" for two government agencies.


The strategy mandates conservation practices, as part of the mitigation process, participation would be forced upon farmers in order to be granted the "privilege" to use certain crop protection products that you have the "right" to use today. We think anything that threatens voluntary, non-regulatory, participation in conservation programs is a very poor idea indeed.


The agency "should" consider the economic impact that the proposed strategy will have on farmers, agribusinesses, and states. EPA "should" conduct a thorough and exhaustive economic analysis to better understand how this decision will impact farmers, pesticide applicators and regulatory officials tasked with enforcing the changes. But that's unlikely to happen under this administration.


The agency "should" take more time developing a final strategy and not rush through the process. The agency "should" listen to and understand the challenges and concerns of farmers and the agriculture community and commit to finding balanced and workable solutions.


In a nutshell the strategy proposes a point system whereby points are awarded based on individual farm conservation practices. These practices seem to be aimed at curtailing runoff of herbicide treated soil, reduced drift of spray applications, and a farms proximity to endangered species habitat. It should be noted that the majority of endangered species referred to as "relevant" to this proposed strategy are plants (since we're talking about herbicides this may be the only thing that actually makes intrinsic sense in the entire proposal).


Farmers who have limited water availability will have greater difficulty enacting "proposed" conservation practices, which in turn will provide fewer "points." It seems a Catch-22 that farmers lacking moisture/rainfall are ultimately deemed to have greater risk of water transported/runoff of herbicides but that is the inescapable "wisdom" behind the scenarios applicable to Texas. Farmers here will be penalized because they lack water resources to build "points" but no credit is considered for the other side of that coin. Farmers in more arid areas are far less likely to experience flooding and transport of herbicide-treated soil off-site. Sorry, heads we win, tails you lose.


If a farmer accumulates a relatively low number of points, 0-5, that farmer would have herbicide choices limited to those listed in a very low risk category. There is no workable explanation of which herbicides fit into which "risk" categories or why. A farmer who is able, or willing, to establish additional mitigation processes may tally a score between 6-9 placing him in the intermediate category of herbicide choices. A farmer who scores over 9 points would have unlimited choices among the (already) legally labelled herbicides.


No mention is made of restricting herbicide choices being a violation of the Pesticide Control Act, FIFRA, Interstate Commerce, Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act, or super-ceding current tolerance establishment under the U.S. Food Quality Protection Act. Apparently none of those matter anymore. Please be aware that the agency is absolutely running amok for the last three years under the Biden administration and that this proposal is a very big deal with the potential to erase significant profitability from your business.


The proposal outlines multiple "scenarios" based on geography and general cropping system. We based our comments on the two scenarios covering the majority of Texas seed production acreage. Please read your association's comments here.

News Bits


The 2023 U.S. corn and soybean harvests remain ahead of average following another week with generally friendly weather for activity. Most forecasts do have the potential for delays this week, including the chance of the first major snow storm of the year in parts of the northern U.S. Plains and Midwest.


The USDA says that as of Sunday, 59% of the U.S. corn crop is harvested, compared to 54% on average, with 76% of U.S. soybeans harvested, compared to the five-year average of 67%.


77% of winter wheat is planted and 53% has emerged, close to the respective normal rates.


41% of cotton is harvested and 90% of bolls have opening, both near average, with 29% of the crop rated good to excellent, down 1% on the week.


91% of rice is harvested, compared to 93% typically in late October.


67% of sorghum is harvested and 96% of the crop has reached maturity, faster than the usual rates.


31% of U.S. pastures and rangelands are called good to excellent, 2% less than last week.


The USDA's weekly national crop progress and condition reports run through the end of November.


National Cooperative Bank news release


Arlington, VA -- National Cooperative Bank, known for providing banking solutions tailored to meet the needs of cooperatives and their members nationwide, released its annual NCB Co-op 100®, listing the nation's top 100 revenue-earning cooperative businesses.


In 2022, these businesses posted revenue totaling $319 billion, a 25% increase from 2021. The NCB Co-op 100 remains the only annual report of its kind to track the profits and successes of cooperative businesses in the United States.


The following are the ten largest serving agricultural producers (overall rank..2022 revenue in millions...headquarters state):


1. CHS Inc.: $47,800...Minnesota


2. Dairy Farmers of America: $24,517...Missouri


3. Land O'Lakes, Inc.: $19,226...Minnesota


4. GROWMARK, Inc.: $14,577...Illinois


10. CoBank: $7,444...Colorado


11. Ag Processing Inc.: $7,312...Nebraska


12. AgriBank: $6,697...Minnesota


18. Agtegra Cooperative, Inc.: $3,390...South Dakota


19. Central Valley Ag Cooperative: $3,330...Nebraska


25. Landus Cooperative: $2,396...Iowa


To view the entire list click here.


Source: Council for Agricultural Science & Technology (CAST)

Today is National Pumpkin Day so it's time to celebrate the vibrant and versatile gourd that has carved its place into our culture, traditions, and even the realm of science. With their rich history, pumpkins not only take center stage on Halloween but also play an integral role in scientific research.


Pumpkins have been the subject of recent research for their potential use in various applications. Studies have investigated the functional food potential of pumpkin seeds, the bioactive elements present in cold-pressed oil from different pumpkin varieties, and the purification, structure, and biological activity of pumpkin polysaccharides. In addition, recent research has explored the use of pumpkins in fields such as medicine and biodegradable materials.


On National Pumpkin Day, let's enjoy the aesthetic charm of pumpkins in our holiday decorations and pumpkin-flavored treats and appreciate their growing role in scientific advancements. Pumpkins continue to prove their versatility, from enriching our cultural traditions to contributing to our understanding of health and nutrition.


Whether you're carving a pumpkin for Halloween, savoring a pumpkin-spiced latte, or exploring the latest research articles, the pumpkin remains a captivating and multi-faceted symbol of autumn.


Source: USDA news release


In 2022, 12.8 percent of U.S. households (17 million) were food insecure at some time during the year, meaning they had difficulty providing enough food for all their members because of a lack of resources. The prevalence of food insecurity in 2022 was statistically significantly higher than the 10.2 percent recorded in 2021 and the 10.5 percent in 2020.


USDA, Economic Research Service (ERS) monitors the food security status of households in the United States through an annual nationwide survey. Very low food security is a more severe form of food insecurity in which the food intake of some household members was reduced and normal eating patterns were disrupted.


The 2022 prevalence of very low food security was 5.1 percent, statistically significantly higher than the 3.8 percent in 2021 and the 3.9 percent in 2020.


Editor's Note: Regardless of food insecurity, or whatever one would like to label not being able to afford sufficient food, the administration's policies are making it worse not better. Check out the articles on curtailing water to Western growers and decreasing your herbicide choices and losing more crop yield to weeds; both policies being championed by the Biden administration.

Major Policy Changes on November 7th Ballot

 TSTA Staff

If you would like to peruse the proposed constitutional amendments that will be on the ballot early next month please take a look at what they really mean courtesy of the Texas Public Policy Foundation. Before you vote this is WORTH your time.


And we NEED you to vote and your consideration of a "yes" vote on ballot item 1., the Right to Farm & Ranch.


You can access the document here.

Biden admin greenlights plan to reduce western states' vital water supply: 'Equitable future'

Actions will 'bolster water resilience' across West, White House climate czar says

By Thomas Catenacci Fox News


The Biden administration took action Wednesday for a historic agreement among Western states to conserve vital water supplies.

The Department of the Interior (DOI), which has for months worked with state leaders on developing water conservation plans, issued a draft supplemental environmental impact statement (SEIS) laying out two potential options: a no-action alternative and the proposed action to substantially restrict supplies in coming years. 

The proposal is designed to protect the Colorado River System and two key dams in response to falling water levels.


"Today, the Biden-Harris administration is taking another key action to bolster water resilience in the Basin States, leveraging historic investments from the president’s Investing in America agenda to build a more sustainable and equitable future for communities across the West," said White House National Climate Advisor Ali Zaidi.


"The Colorado River Basin’s reservoirs, including its two largest storage reservoirs Lake Powell and Lake Mead, remain at historically low levels. Today’s advancement protects the system in the near term while we continue to develop long-term, sustainable plans to combat the climate-driven realities facing the Basin," added DOI Bureau of Reclamation Commissioner Camille Calimlim Touton.


The draft SEIS published Wednesday rescinds two previous potential plans for Colorado River conservation that the DOI issued in April and replaces them with the proposed action derived from an agreement reached in May by the so-called Lower Basin states of Arizona, California and Nevada. The no-action alternative would maintain the status quo approach to conservation.


The May agreement would ensure that at least 3 million acre-feet, or 978 billion gallons, of Colorado River water supplies — which feed the massive California agriculture industry and major jurisdictions like Phoenix — are conserved by 2027. Under that plan, at least half of that amount will be conserved by 2025.


The DOI said 2.3 million acre-feet of the conserved water under the proposal would be funded through the Inflation Reduction Act, the Democratic climate and tax legislation President Biden signed last year. The remaining 0.7 million acre-feet would be made via voluntary, uncompensated reductions by the three Lower Basin states.


"Throughout the past year, our partners in the seven Basin states have demonstrated leadership and unity of purpose in helping achieve the substantial water conservation necessary to sustain the Colorado River System through 2026," Deputy Interior Secretary Tommy Beaudreau said in a statement Wednesday. 


"Thanks to their efforts and historic funding from President Biden’s Investing in America agenda, we have staved off the immediate possibility of the system’s reservoirs from falling to critically low elevations that would threaten water deliveries and power production."


While Upper Basin states of Colorado, New Mexico, Utah and Wyoming mainly receive water from smaller rivers that branch off the Colorado River, the Lower Basin states largely receive water pooled in Lake Powell, a manmade reservoir along the Utah-Arizona border, and Lake Mead, a reservoir along the Nevada-Arizona border. 


The federally-managed Glen Canyon Dam in northern Arizona and Hoover Dam in southern Nevada are able to control water flows from the respective reservoirs to the Lower Basin states.


As a result of decades of drought, both Lake Powell and Lake Mead have dropped to lower levels, nearing so-called dead pool levels when water is unable to flow from a reservoir through its dam, threatening vital water supplies and hydropower-generated electricity for tens of millions of Americans.


According to federal data, Lake Powell's level has dropped to about 3,572 feet and Lake Mead's level has dropped to 1,065 feet. The two reservoir's respective dead pool levels are estimated to be 3,370 feet and 895 feet, respectively.


Editor's Note: No definitive word yet on how this will impact agriculture in some of the country's most productive farmland. It appears that over just the next two years 1.5 M acre feet used by agriculture will be "conserved" given flow rates in the Colorado remain relatively constant. Winter fresh vegetable production is centered in Arizona and Southern California and the impact of water shortages are bound to be felt by consumers. Most of this decision seems to be driven by climate fears and one should never doubt that given a choice of supplying municipalities with water and allocating water for production agriculture the cities will always get water. There are mixed reviews on how cooperative the basin states have been working with the Biden administration on this "agreement." This level of control can be viewed as yet another point of leverage by the prevailing administration.


‘Win for science’ as French court dismisses defamation lawsuit by anti-GMO scientist Seralini

Victor Oria | Alliance for Science |


n a major victory for science, a French court on 17 October dismissed a defamation lawsuit by the notorious French anti-GMO activist scientist Gilles-Eric Séralini, finding instead in favor of three fact-finding journalists whom Séralini had sued for calling his work “fraudulent.”Geraldine Woessner, one of the three journalists targeted by Séralini, announced on X/Twitter:

I am pleased to announce that jurisprudence has FINALLY changed: in the defamation case brought against me by Gilles-Eric Séralini, for having referred to his 2012 study on GMO-fed rats as ‘fraudulent,’ the court has just ruled in my favor. Have a great day!

She added:

My colleagues @MacLesggy and Patrick Cohen, who was also being pursued, have been acquitted.

Fraudulent and misleading


The case dates back to 2019 when Séralini, a French biologist at the University of Caen, sued Mac Lesggy, Patrick Cohen, and Geraldine Woessner for defamation after the three journalists had described the findings of his controversial – and subsequently retracted – study on rats fed on GMO corn and Roundup as fraudulent and misleading.


Patrick Cohen, for instance, had referred on French television to Seralini’s controversial paper as “one of the worst scientific deceptions of the past ten years.” Seralini, through his lawyers, then filed a complaint for defamation in the Judicial Court of Paris, France, demanding 50,000 euros from each journalist in damages and claiming his health had suffered in the controversy.


However, the court rejected Séralini’s arguments. Referring in particular to Woessner’s use of the term “fraudulent” to describe his 2012 retracted paper, the French court ruled that in using the term, she had relied on “an abundant factual basis” which justified “using this semantics, which should not be understood in the strict sense of scientific fraud, but rather as the criticism of acts contravening the ethics that should surround the production and media coverage of scientific work.” According to the judges, Woessner acted in good faith and was acquitted of the defamation charge.


Being denied a valuable product


Scientists were jubilant on hearing the news that the French journalists had been cleared. “Great news for science and freedom of speech!” tweeted Channa Prakash, professor of plant molecular genetics at Tuskegee University in the United States. “Let’s call fraud a fraud!”

Prakash added: “This fraudulent paper claiming that GMOs cause cancer in rats was used by several countries, including Kenya and India, to ban or halt GM crops. Sèralini should be asked to pay for damages done to farmers in these countries for being denied a valuable product because of his mischief.”


Although the flaws in the original 2012 publication were immediately evident to many scientists and later led to it being retracted by the journal Food & Chemical Toxicology, Séralini’s paper caused enormous media and public furor because it contained gory images of rats with gigantic tumors. The Kenyan government proceeded to ban GMO imports, a ban only recently lifted by the Ruto government and now mired in court cases launched in Nairobi by anti-GMO campaign groups.

Perfect example of flawed science


Commenting from Kenya, Professor Richard Oduor, Kenya University Biotech Consortium (Kubico) chair and Acting Registrar, Research, Innovation and Outreach at Kenyatta University, said the case was bound to be dismissed and added, “he [Séralini] should apologize publicly.”


Dr Paul Chege, a Kenyan crop biotechnologist, said Seralini’s paper was a perfect example of flawed science, which is why it was retracted. “However, this paper had a powerful influence on crop biotech policies in the Global South. I am happy that we are turning a corner now and formulating agri-biotech policies based on facts,” Dr Chege added.


Kenya’s Dr Susan Moenga, a biotech researcher at NuCicer who works on chickpeas, said the verdict is welcome, but we must move on. “Going forward, we should build robust science communication to the public so that we do not find ourselves in the same situation as we did ten years ago,” Dr Moenga said. “I am happy that Kenya is taking a leading step in genetic engineering adoption, allowing innovation in our space and context supported by rational regulatory frameworks.”


Delusional conspiracy theories


Speaking to the Alliance for Science, Géraldine Woessner said she felt “relieved” by the judgment of the French court. She noted that while “our witnesses [were] eminent specialists on the issue,” Séralini had relied on testimony from three people: a professional anti-GMO lawyer, “a specialist on the ecology of penguins with no expertise on the subject,” and a Greens MEP who is “the former boss of Biocoop, an organic food giant.”


Woessner also pointed to the long-term damage left by the Séralini controversy, which has meant that public research on GMOs “is no longer feasible in France” and has left a media legacy of “delusional conspiracy theories” and mistrust in science “for which we have collectively paid the price, during the Covid crisis.” She added: “Everything remains to be done to repair the enormous societal damages inflicted” by the whole affair.


Dr. Victor Oria (PhD) is a LEAD Fellow, Prof Janine Erler Research Group, Biotech Research and Innovation Centre – University of Copenhagen, Denmark. Find Victor on X @Nyuka_Bel

A version of this article was originally posted at the Alliance for Science and is reposted here with permission. Any reposting should credit both the GLP and original article. Find the Alliance for Science on X @ScienceAlly


Editor's Note: This article provides context for last week's article on Kenya's approval of new plant breeding techniques.


China steals more info than all other countries combined: China is infamous for its history of intellectual property theft. But it has proved difficult to quantify Beijing's pilfering. What has been known is that China's stealing has worsened. Recently, the heads of five Western intelligence agencies known as the "Five Eyes" were interviewed by CBS News's "60 Minutes." Included among the five were FBI Director Christopher Wray and the United Kingdom's MI5 Director Ken McCallum. Wray observed that China presents the number one "threat of this generation." Beijing's massive stealing apparatus is occurring with "everything from Fortune 100 companies, all to smaller startups," he noted. "We're talking about agriculture, biotech, healthcare, robotics, aviation, academic research. We probably have somewhere in the order of 2,000 active investigations that are just related to the Chinese government's effort to steal information." While the five observed that all countries engage in espionage to some degree, China has taken it to a whole new level. Wray asserted that China has the biggest hacking program in the world — "bigger than every other major nation combined." And China has "stolen more of our personal and corporate data than every nation, big or small, combined." That's a lot of stealing.


Editor's Note: This news snippet, gleaned from the Patriot Post, is a follow-up to last week's report on the State of Arkansas forcing Syngenta (Seeds) to sell its land and property assets in Arkansas because they are owned by ChinaChem. ChinaChem is "publicly traded" on the Shanghai stock exchange but is, in fact, wholly controlled by the Chinese government. ChinaChem is set to offer a 20% stake of Syngenta, worth $9B they say, in an initial public offering in a deal that has been underway for over two years. The company needs cash to continue its commitment to research and to service its debt to the Chinese government who provided the $43B loan for Syngenta's purchase in 2017. The proposed public offer for "some" of Syngenta has been delayed several times. In reality any investment acquired through the Shanghai stock exchange is an investment in the Chinese government. In a twist of irony the Chinese government now professes to be a world leader in intellectual property (IP) protection of genetic traits and germplasm despite several prominent Chinese nationals being convicted of industrial espionage and theft in the U.S. related to seed. The new-found commitment to IP protection started soon after Syngenta's acquisition from the former Swiss owners and may not extend too far beyond Syngenta's IP.


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The articles, views, and opinions expressed in the Weekly Update do not necessarily reflect the policies of the Texas Seed Trade Association or the opinions of its members.