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Feb 17

TSTA Weekly Update, 02/17/2023

Weekly Update from the Texas Seed Trade Association

Member News


No, you're not a day late; we are. Apologies for the Weekly Update issuing a day behind normal but the editor was ill and unable to get the copy finished. He ain't feeling that great today either but will settle for "better."

Membership renewals were mailed several weeks ago. A big Thank You to those companies who have already renewed for 2023! Please check the mail for your membership renewal and member certificate and renew your support for the Texas Seed Trade as soon as you are able.

Growouts are complete and Jeb reports them a real success! Costa Rica was especially good this year with optimum conditions and care. Our thanks to the BASF farm crew in Costa Rica and the great folks at Gan Eden Farm in Puerto Rico for doing such a great job for us.


Growout invoices were mailed several weeks ago from the TSTA office. Please look for them and return payment as soon as possible as we've already paid the land rent bills, the Texas Department of Agriculture travel and living expenses, shipping, and other costs associated with the winter growouts.

2023 Annual Membership Meeting


With 68 registrants the annual membership meeting was larger than last year with respect to attendees. The business meeting and technology transfer portions of the meeting, held Monday, went very well and both handled association business and hosted excellent presentations by university and AgriLife staff, industry, and state government.


Monday morning started with officer and board member nominations and elections. Luke Turner moves from President to Immediate Past President, Chad Kriegshauser moves from Vice President to President. and Brett Bamert moves from Board Member to Vice President. Thank you Luke for your contributions and leadership! We have a new version of a strategic plan, a new website ready to launch (watch for it soon!), TSTA now participates in a leadership program in conjunction with the Texas Feed & Grain Association, and we have a streamlined board meeting process thanks to Luke.


Brett's move to Vice President left a board vacancy which was filled by Billy McClenney from Frontier Hybrids. Board members remaining include Art McIntee and Drew Morano, both agreeing to extend their board service another year, Rusty Smallwood, and Rachel Horton.


Doug Richards, from RiceTec, moves off the board after his tenure as Immediate Past President. We will truly miss Doug's counsel but thankfully he isn't going anywhere soon and we'll still be able to tap his expertise.


The morning session continued with an AgriLife wheat breeding update by Dr. Jackie Rudd followed by an industry wheat breeding update by Racey Padilla from TriCal Superior Forages. Janie Hurley provided an overview of how the university protects intellectual property and her office's role in releasing new plant/seed varieties. Dr. Rick Vierling, Texas Foundation Seeds, provided an update on facilities and programs and outlined a process for recertification of seed should it be necessary.


All presenters then participated in a panel discussion answering a multitude of questions form the assembled attendees. This was a fabulous addition to our typical agenda and made process much clearer and helped us understand everyone's role in new variety releases - especially our role as growers.


The TSTA executive vice president provided a "state of the association" snapshot at lunch. Covered topics included the association's financial status, scholarships, new initiatives at member outreach, and plans for the coming year.


Dr. Gerald Smith kicked off the afternoon session with a forage legume breeding update. Forages included in the update were white flower sweet clover, Lablab, forage cowpeas, winter peas and a new forage ryegrass.


Dr. Tony Falk, with Texas Native Seeds, continued with what it takes to havethe right seed available for restoration and how Texas Natives interacts with the USDA Plant Materials Centers. Following Tony the three directors of the Texas-based PMCs presented individual updates. Shelly Maher, from Kingsvill, Alan Shadow from Nacogdoches, and Brandon Carr from Know City. Travis Jez, agronomist and restoration specialist with TxDOT provided a very informative overview of how TxDOT approaches restoration.


Similar to the morning session the afternoon presenters participated in a panel discussion, along with Janie Hurley, answering a myriad of questions from meeting attendees. It was an excellent session and all present would likely agree it was informative and fast-paced.


Scholarship Fundraising


Sunday virtually all attendees took part in the CornHole Tournament hosted and administered by Rusty Smallwood. A very big THANK YOU to Rusty for doing everything necessary to have a great time!


Monday evening the President's Reception & Dinner also included a raffle for all manner of gifts provided by the membership to help fund our scholarships and the TSTA Foundation. Between the CornHole Tournament and the raffle your generousity contributed over $4K to "the children." Thank you one and all for your generosity. We are likely now in a position to endow a scholarship that includes a matching contribution or to complete an endowment of one of our scholarships that has little ways to go. The board will be examining the choices soon.


This was good meeting. Please speak to those who attended and listen to their assessment - and plan to come next year!


Thank you RiceTec, Turner Seed Company, Richardson Seeds, Ltd., Scott Seed, Co., Nufarm, SoDak Labs, and TriCal for you generous sponsorship!


It would be very difficult to host an annual meeting without the help from our sponsors!


Left to right - Eric Patton, Nufarm, third place, Drew Morano, TriCal Superior Forages, second place, and CornHole Champion Kyle Reinart with Richardson Seeds, Ltd.

Ladies Division Champs, left to right, Bri Blaylock, first place, Tammy McClenney, second place, not pictured was third place winner Alyssa Turner.

Please don't forget to bring auction/raffle items for the scholarship fundraiser on Monday evening at the President's Reception & Dinner!

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!


2/17/2023 - 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!

News Bits


Consumer prices for wheat-based products were up substantially in 2022 compared to 2021, as indicated by the Consumer Price Index (CPI) data published by the U.S. Department of Labor, Bureau of Labor Statistics.


Price levels of a variety of wheat products were up more than 10 percent from 2021, outpacing the rate of inflation in the broader "all food" category, which was up 9.9 percent, more than double the average increase of the previous decade. The average price level across the cereals and bakery products category was up 13 percent in 2022, well above the previous year's increase (2.3 percent) and more than three times as large as any year in the past decade.


Prices for flour and prepared flour mixes were nearly 19 percent higher in 2022, far exceeding the average from the previous decade (0.2 percent). Commodity prices for wheat were elevated in 2021 and 2022, but the increase in prices for wheat-based consumer products did not fully appear until 2022.


Consumer price changes tend to lag price changes at the commodity level, partly based on the tendency of processors to purchase inputs well in advance. Rising input prices for non-wheat ingredients-such as eggs and butter, which tend to feature prominently in wheat food products-in addition to elevated labor and fuel expenses have all contributed to wheat food price inflation in 2022.


Feed & Grain magazine reports:


Officials in Grand Forks, North Dakota, have voted to strike down a Chinese company's proposed corn mill after the U.S. Air Force said its proximity to a military base would pose a national security risk.


On Tuesday, the Grand Forks City Council voted 5-0 to not proceed with the development.


The council voted to "no longer proceed" with the project "under the conditions of the approved and signed Fufeng USA Inc. Development Agreement."


Fufeng USA, a subsidiary of Fufeng, has been working since late 2021 to develop a 370-acre tract on the northern edge of Grand Forks to build a corn mill that would process as much as 25 million bushels of corn.


According to reports, Fufeng paid $2.3 million to purchase the 300 acres of land just 12 miles from Grand Forks Air Force Base, home to top secret drone technology. The company was planning to invest $700 million to open the mill.


When the facility was announced in 2021, there was excitement for the hundreds of new jobs that might come. Doubts about the plant began to multiply, however, and focused on its links to the Chinese government, concerns about the environment and frustration from future neighbors.


In November 2021, Fufeng Group chose Grand Forks for its first U.S.-based manufacturing facility.


To read the entire report click here.


Source: National Cotton Council (NCC) news release


MEMPHIS, Tenn. - National Cotton Council economists point to a few key factors that will shape the U.S. cotton industry's 2023 economic outlook.


This past year can be characterized as a year with significant uncertainty and volatility in the global economy and the world cotton market. The U.S. cotton industry continues to navigate an environment characterized by increased production costs, slumping consumer demand, and supply chain disruptions. Although modest economic growth is projected for the next two years, the projected growth represents a slowdown from the prior two years.


In her analysis of the NCC Annual Planting Intentions survey results, Dr. Jody Campiche, the NCC's vice president, Economics & Policy Analysis, said the NCC projects 2023 U.S. cotton acreage to be 11.4 million acres, 17.0% less than 2022. While production costs remain elevated, cotton harvest-time futures prices are currently 16.5% less than a year ago and the prices of most competing commodities are relatively unchanged. The current economic signals are reflected in the 2023 survey results as many growers indicated a shift away from cotton to other competing commodities.


Using five-year average abandonment rates along with a few state-level adjustments, Cotton Belt harvested area totals 8.8 million acres for 2023 with a U.S. abandonment rate of 22.6%. Using the five-year average state-level yield per harvested acre generates a cotton crop of 15.7 million bales, with 15.2 million upland bales and 466,000 extra-long staple (ELS) bales.


Campiche said world production is estimated to increase slightly to 115.9 million bales in 2023/24 due to an increase in harvested acreage. Overall, the outlook for world cotton demand for the 2023/24 marketing year takes on a more positive tone as compared to 2022/23 with the expectation of improving global economic conditions.


For the 2023/24 marketing year, world consumption is projected to increase by 4.7% to 116.1 million bales. The removal of COVID-19 restrictions in China should provide a boost to cotton consumption in 2023. The International Monetary Fund has projected an increase in China's growth rate from 3.0% in 2022 to 5.2% in 2023. With expanded consumption in key importing countries, world trade is projected to increase to 44.2 million bales in 2023/24.


Regarding domestic mill cotton use, the NCC is projecting an increase in U.S. mill use to 2.3 million bales during the 2023/24 marketing year. As one of largest markets for U.S. cotton, U.S. mills continue to be critically important to the health of the cotton industry. In the face of rising textile imports from Asian suppliers, the U.S. textile industry has focused on new investment and technology adoption in order to remain competitive.


Preserving important trading arrangements in the Western Hemisphere is also critical to the U.S. textile industry's health.


A projected increase in world consumption for the 2023/24 marketing year along with a larger U.S. supply results in a higher U.S. export projection as compared to 2022/23. When combined with U.S. mill use, total offtake is lower than expected supply, and ending stocks are projected to increase to 5.3 million bales. World ending stocks are projected to decline slightly in the 2023/24 marketing year to 89.9 million bales, resulting in a stocks-to-use ratio of 77.5%.


The current economic outlook for the U.S. and global economies should be viewed with caution as several downside risks are present. Continued impacts of tighter monetary policy, high inflation, the Russia-Ukraine war, potential for severe COVID-19 health impacts in China, geopolitical tensions, currency pressures in key importing countries, and slower economic growth could affect cotton demand in 2023 and put downward pressure on cotton prices.


Additional details of the 2023 Cotton Economic Outlook can be found here.


NCGA release


Mexico officials issued a new decree on Monday calling for a ban on imports of biotech corn used for certain purposes, effective today. The decree also indicated the Mexican government would continue to allow imports of biotech corn used as animal feed while exploring substitutes.


NCGA expressed serious concern with the accelerated implementation timeline.


"The Biden administration has been more than patient with Mexico as U.S. officials have sought to enforce a rules-based trading system and stand up for American farmers," said National Corn Growers Association President Tom Haag. "The integrity of USMCA, signed by Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador himself, is at stake. Singling out corn - our number one ag export to Mexico - and hastening an import ban on numerous food-grade uses makes USMCA a dead letter unless it's enforced."


President López Obrador initiated a decree in late 2020 that would ban imports of biotech corn effective January 31, 2024. The Biden administration and Congress have worked closely with Mexican officials over the last several months to head off the ban, which would be catastrophic for American corn growers as well as the Mexican people, who depend on corn as a major staple of their food supply.


Those talks culminated in a letter from a Biden administration official late last week calling for Mexico to provide further explanation and justification for the original decree. While the Mexican government had appeared to be seeking a more pragmatic position to promote food security in recent weeks, the latest decree sends a message that Mexico is doubling down on its original position.


Biotechnology has revolutionized farming, allowing farmers to grow more corn and other crops to feed more people using less land, chemicals and resources. U.S. regulators and leading science and health organizations around the world have determined and long maintained that biotech products currently on the market are safe and beneficial.


by Jenna Hoffman,


World Ag Expo kicked off in Tulare, Ca. on Tuesday with a farm bill listening session-hosted by House Ag Committee Chairman Glenn Thompson (R-Pa.)-taking place at the event.


To set the stage for the hearing and bill, Chip Flory, AgriTalk host, sat down with Thompson for an update on where the farm bill 2023 stands. According to Thompson, most of the legislation has already been penned.


"We don't need to rewrite the entire farm bill," Thompson says. "We're comfortable with many parts in the 2018 bill and there aren't many tweaks or changes, instead things we need to protect and invest in more."


Thompson's words on the farm bill carry more weight than most congressional leaders. With the House taking the reins in writing the bill this year, he says the pen is "firmly" in his hand.


To read the entire report click here.


Source: USDA news release


NEW ORLEANS - Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack announced the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) is making funding available for agricultural producers and forest landowners nationwide to participate in voluntary conservation programs and adopt climate-smart practices.


The Inflation Reduction Act (IRA) provided an additional $19.5 billion over five years for climate smart agriculture through several of the conservation programs that USDA's Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) implements. NRCS is making available $850 million in fiscal year 2023 for its oversubscribed conservation programs:


*the Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP),


*Conservation Stewardship Program (CSP), Agricultural


*Conservation Easement Program (ACEP) and Regional


*Conservation Partnership Program (RCPP).


"The Inflation Reduction Act provided a once-in-a-generation investment in conservation on working lands, and we want to work with agricultural and forest landowners to invest in climate-smart practices that create value and economic opportunity for producers," said Vilsack, who spoke today at the National Association of Conservation Districts annual meeting.


"We know that agriculture plays a critical role in the nation's effort to address climate change, we're using this funding to bolster our existing programs, maximize climate benefits, and foster other environmental benefits across the landscape."


The IRA funding includes an additional $8.45 billion for EQIP, $4.95 billion for RCPP, $3.25 billion for CSP, and $1.4 billion for ACEP. The increased funding levels begin in fiscal year 2023 and rapidly build over four years. These additional investments are estimated to help hundreds of thousands of farmers and ranchers apply conservation to millions of acres of land.


Additionally, the IRA provides $300 million to quantify carbon sequestration and greenhouse gases (GHG) through the collection and use of field-based data to assess conservation outcomes. Information gained through this effort will be used to improve practices and technical assistance to customers. Further guidance on this important work will be provided as the implementation of this portion of the IRA continues.


These funds will provide direct climate mitigation benefits and will expand access to financial and technical assistance for producers to advance conservation on their farm, ranch or forest land through practices like cover cropping, conservation tillage, wetland restoration, prescribed grazing, nutrient management, tree planting and more.


To ensure we can quantify the benefits of these IRA investments, NRCS is working to support Department-wide work on Measurement, Monitoring, Reporting and Verification (MMRV). The IRA provided targeted funding to support this effort. In administering the Inflation Reduction Act climate investments, USDA will also support other environmental co-benefits, including - among other things - water conservation, wildlife habitat improvements, and reducing runoff.


How to Apply


NRCS accepts producer applications for its conservation programs year-round, but producers interested in EQIP or CSP should apply by their state's ranking dates to be considered for funding in the current cycle. Funding is provided through a competitive process and will include an opportunity to address the unmet demand from producers who have previously sought funding for climate-smart conservation activities.


For ACEP Agricultural Land Easements (ACEP-ALE) or Wetland Reserve Easements (ACEP-WRE), applications for the current IRA funding cycle must be submitted by March 17, 2023, for the first funding round. This year, NRCS will prioritize ACEP-ALE for grasslands in areas of highest risk for conversion to non-grassland uses to prevent the release of soil carbon stores. Meanwhile, NRCS will prioritize ACEP-WRE for eligible lands that contain soils high in organic carbon.


NRCS plans to roll out the next RCPP funding opportunity in early spring, which will include IRA funds from fiscal year 2023.


Other opportunities for agreements and partnerships at the state level will be announced for fiscal year 2023 in the coming months. The IRA provides funding to support those strategic partnerships with local, regional and national organizations. This will include outreach to underserved producers to ensure IRA climate funding is reaching those who have been previously unable to access conservation assistance.


Water Supply Investments


USDA also released today the Western Water and Working Lands Framework for Conservation Action that identifies 13 strategies that guide NRCS's investments for helping agricultural producers and communities respond to the significant challenges resulting from threats to the water supply in the Nation's most arid landscapes. Assistance delivered through these water-related strategies also helps build resilience to climate-change impacts such as droughts, wildfires and floods.


Many of the resilience-focused activities and systems are also Climate Smart Agriculture and Forestry mitigation activities, which support carbon sequestration or greenhouse gas emissions reductions. Climate-smart mitigation activities are supported by the additional investments available from the IRA. As part of the Western Water and Working Lands Framework, USDA is also announcing and highlighting other drought focused investments, including the WaterSMART Initiative.


More Information


On Nov. 21, 2022, USDA published a Federal Register Notice requesting public input on implementation of the funding provided by the IRA and sought comments on program delivery and outreach, especially for underserved producers. That notice closed on Dec. 21, 2022, and NRCS received over 450 comments from the public, which the agency is using to guide actions in fiscal year 2023 and will continue to identify and adopt additional changes based on that public feedback in fiscal year 2024 and in future years.


On Aug. 16, 2022, President Biden signed the IRA into law. It is a historic, once-in-a-generation investment and opportunity for the agricultural communities that USDA serves. The IRA will help producers stay on the farm, prevent producers from becoming ineligible for future assistance and promote climate-smart agriculture by increasing access to conservation assistance.


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