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May 11

TSTA Weekly Update, 05/11/2023

Weekly Update from the Texas Seed Trade Association

Member News


A meeting of the TSTA Board of Directors is scheduled for July 13-15, at the Horseshoe Bay Resort. If you have questions please contact the TSTA office.


Surveys to ascertain the level of certified wheat seed carryover from last year, anticipated certified wheat that will be available for sale this year, and a ranking of the most favored/best suited varieties was mailed to over 100 Texas seed sellers this week by the TSTA. Mailings included self-addressed, stamped envelopes, for return of the surveys to the association office. The survey is designed to assist the Texas Foundation Seed Service, and others, to determine the potential need to enter a recertification process. Results will be made available as soon as possible.

TSTA Legislative Update

TSTA staff


The supplemental appropriation (SB 500) containing the funding for the Texas Agri-Life Foundation Seed reconstruction is still in conference committee as of this report. Conference was required because the house amended the senate bill and the senate refused to concur with the changes. There is no evidence anything in the appropriation concerning the Foundation Seed Service facility is the cause of any issues. The Foundation Seed Service is but one portion of a much larger list of exceptional items. At this time we have confidence the differences will be worked our in time for the bill to make its way back to the respective floors of both chambers for passage. However, we never say never and optimism is risky until the process is over.


The deadline for bills to be heard and voted out of committee is rapidly approaching and many bills, most in fact, die in this manner. Items in conference committee are not subject to this deadline as they have already passed a majority vote on their respective chamber floor.


Rep. Cody Harris’ legislation banning the ownership of agricultural land by foreign corporations is still pending in House State Affairs Committee. It has no Senate companion and must be voted out of committee by May 8th to be viable. We continue to work with his staff to convey how the bill would hinder our member companies ability to do business in Texas.

Let us know if you want to attend the Sod Poodles game! On June 2, the Texas Seed Trade Association will host a gathering at the Amarillo Sod Poodles, a Double A affiliate of the Arizona Diamondbacks. The Poodles are playing the Springfield Cardinals that evening, an affiliate of the St. Louis Cardinals baseball club. We've got a box reserved and it'll be a great time for a lucky 25 of us. It's $25 to reserve a place and we'll book the first 25 that respond and send in their hard-earned cash. Please contact Drew Morano at Tri-Cal Superior Forages or Brett Bamert at Bamert Seeds if you're interested in playing some golf that morning or afternoon. You can respond to either the Sod Poodles or golf event via return email to this newsletter. If you need a hotel room we can furnish that information. We are getting close and this event will be a great time!

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!


5/11/2023 - 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


Brownfield Ag News reports:


U.S. farmers made solid progress planting corn and soybeans last week. That was despite rain in some key growing areas, with more in the forecast for parts of the Midwest and Plains this week.


The USDA says 49% of U.S. corn is planted, compared to 26% a week ago and the five-year average of 42%, with 12% emerged, compared to 11% on average.


35% of soybeans are planted as of Sunday, compared to 19% last week and 21% on average, with 9% emerged, compared to 4% typically in early May.


29% of the winter wheat crop is in good to excellent condition, 1% above the previous week and matching a year ago, and 38% has headed, compared to 35% on average.


24% of spring wheat is planted, compared to 38% normally this time of year due to wet weather in the northern Plains, with 5% emerged, compared to 11% on average.


22% of cotton is planted, compared to the five-year average of 23%.


72% of rice is planted and 55% has emerged, both solidly ahead of their usual respective paces.


24% of sorghum has been planted, matching the typical rate.


33% of U.S. pastures and rangelands are in good to excellent shape, 11% above the first rating of 2022.


Canada is so far taking an "observer" role as the U.S. confronts Mexico over its ban on genetically modified white corn, but Agriculture Minister Marie-Claude Bibeau tells Agri-Pulse she's backing the U.S. argument that Mexico doesn't have science on its side.


"It's not a matter of how (food) has been produced," she said in an interview Tuesday. "It's a matter of what the result is. And when our scientists agree that it's safe, then there should not be trade barriers."


There is also the issue of a potential domino effect, with other countries attempting to copy Mexico's unscientific trade barriers, said Bibeau, who added, "Where will it end?"


Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack today announced that the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) is taking additional steps as part of its commitment to strengthen the market for domestically grown organic goods, and to support producers seeking organic certification. These funding opportunities are part of the U.S. Department of Agriculture's (USDA) Organic Transition Initiative, launched in fall 2022, which is a suite of offerings to help existing organic farmers and those transitioning to organic production and processing.


"As USDA works to help make our nation's food system more resilient and create more options for producers and consumers, we recognize the important role the organic industry can play in expanding opportunities for value-added agriculture, strengthening supply chains and generating revenue for farmers," Vilsack said. "For many farmers, the transition period before attaining organic certification can be cost-prohibitive, so USDA is also helping mitigate the risk involved for farmers who want to be able to grow and market organic crops."


Editor's Note: Will someone please explain to us why transitioning to organic production makes our food supply "more resilient?" And what justification there is for spending tax dollars on this?


The record for most lifetime milk produced by a registered Holstein cow has been broken once again in 2023. This time by Nor-Bert Colby Connie, a 14-year-old Holstein owned by Nor-Bert Farm in Bremen, Indiana.


Connie achieved this incredible feat with her lifetime milk production record of 486,300 pounds through her latest completed lactation, surpassing the previous record holder's, Chrome-View Charles 3044, 478,200 pounds of lifetime milk (56,547 gallons of milk).


Connie has equally impressive numbers for components, with a lifetime record of 27,062 pounds of fat and 17,737 pounds of protein through her last completed lactation. These tremendous fat and protein totals are currently the highest lifetime totals for fat and protein in the Holstein Association USA database. Chrome-View Charles 3044's components stood at 14,447 pounds of fat, and 12,576 pounds of protein.

Farming and producing more sustainably is not a scientific problem – it’s a regulatory problem

Euroseeds release


20 agri-food value chain organisations express their support for the Commission proposal on New Genomic Techniques (NGTs).


The signatories highlight the urgency of the proposal, specifically in view of the urgent challenges ahead, like climate change and sustainability requirements. They support transparency and freedom of choice for farmers and growers via public registers, providing public information on all varieties obtained with NGTs like the national variety lists and the European Common Catalogues. “This allows the proper organisation of value chains that may not wish to use conventional-like NGT plants in their production”, states Garlich von Essen, Secretary General, Euroseeds.


The signatories point to the challenges in view of detection and identification for market control and consumer trust since it is not possible to distinguish how the genetic change in a conventional-like NGT plant occurred.

“Any information on labels on aspects which, per se, do not provide information on distinctive features vis-à-vis their conventional counterparts are of limited value for consumers” points out von Essen.

Imposing traceability and labelling obligations, and coexistence measures that place specific obligations on only EU farmers growing conventional-like NGT varieties would have strong negative implications for the competitiveness of the EU agri-food value chain.

“At the same time, third country farmers, including organic producers under EU equivalence schemes, would actually benefit from unilateral EU obligations on its own agriculture”, concludes von Essen.

Read the co-signed value chain letter on NGTs


Editor's Note: This article is reprinted here because things that happen within the strict regulatory environment of the European Union have a funny way of being proposed as a "good idea" here. Does anyone fundamentally disagree that left to our own devices and decision-making process agricultural professionals, inclusive of farmers, couldn't stay ahead of challenges from virtually any source? Except government regulation?


May 11, 2023


by Jennifer Shike, Pork magazine


The U.S. Supreme Court upheld California's new humane-pork law, rejecting an industry challenge in a ruling buttressing the power of states to impose rules that have a broad economic impact on other parts of the country, writes Pro Farmer analyst Jim Wiesemeyer in his daily commentary.


The Supreme Court ruled that the case was properly dismissed by lower courts. Pork producers had said that the law could force industry-wide changes and raise the cost of bacon and other pork products nationwide, the Associated Press reports.


"This is a major blow to pork and the ag sector," Wiesemeyer wrote. "The ruling could force pork producers to implement costly changes to keep selling in the country's most populous state."


The decision of the court was 5-4, with Chief Justice John Roberts and Justices Samuel Alito, Brett Kavanaugh and Ketanji Brown Jackson dissenting.


"While the Constitution addresses many weighty issues, the type of pork chops California merchants may sell is not on that list," said Justice Neil Gorsuch, writing for the majority.


Wiesemeyer writes that Kavanaugh's dissent comments could mean further challenge ahead.


Kavanaugh wrote in his opinion, "I add this opinion to point out that state economic regulations like California's Proposition 12 may raise questions not only under the Commerce Clause, but also under the Import-Export Clause, the Privileges and Immunities Clause, and the Full Faith and Credit Clause. Although the Court today rejects the plaintiffs' dormant Commerce Clause challenge as insufficiently pled, state laws like Proposition 12 implicate not only the Commerce Clause, but also potentially several other constitutional provisions, including the Import-Export Clause, the Privileges and Immunities Clause, and the Full Faith and Credit Clause.


"In other words, if one State conditions sale of a good on the use of preferred farming, manufacturing, or production practices in another State where the good was grown or made, serious questions may arise under the Import-Export Clause. I do not take a position here on whether such an argument ultimately would prevail.


"I note only that the question warrants additional consideration in a future case. Under this Court's precedents, one State's efforts to effectively regulate farming, manufacturing, or production in other States could raise significant questions under that Clause [Privileges and Immunities Clause]. Again, I express no view on whether such an argument ultimately would prevail. But the issue warrants further analysis in a future case."


Kavanaugh concludes that it appears that the "properly pled dormant Commerce Clause challenges under Pike to laws like California's Proposition 12 (or even to Proposition 12 itself) could succeed in the future -- or at least survive past the motion-to-dismiss stage. Regardless, it will be important in future cases to consider that state laws like Proposition 12 also may raise substantial constitutional questions under the Import-Export Clause, the Privileges and Immunities Clause, and the Full Faith and Credit Clause."


To read the entire article click here.


Editor's Note: This decision has all kinds of repercussions for all manner of industries and certainly agriculture. Have to admit this decision was a surprise and serves to illustrate one never knows what the Supreme Court will decide.


May 8, 2023

After reaching recent highs in 2021 and 2022, the average net cash income (gross cash income minus cash expenses) of U.S. farm businesses is expected to decline by 18 percent in 2023 compared with 2022.


Farm businesses across the country are forecast to see higher production expenses, lower cash receipts, and lower Government payments in 2023, resulting in lower expected average net cash farm income. However, this overall decline will vary considerably across the country, driven primarily by the commodities produced in each resource region.


The USDA, Economic Research Service (ERS) uses resource regions to depict the geographic specialization in production of U.S. commodities. ERS defines farm businesses as the operations with gross cash farm income of at least $350,000 or smaller operations in which farming is reported as the operator's primary occupation, which includes just over half of all U.S. farms.


Farm businesses in the Northern Crescent region, which leads the Nation in dairy production, are forecast to see the largest average percentage decrease (30 percent), while those in the Mississippi Portal, which leads the Nation in rice production, are forecast to see the smallest percent decrease (9 percent).

Authorities must keep up the fight against counterfeit seeds

South China Morning Post


Seeds have grown into a big problem for China as counterfeits continue circulating in the mainland agriculture market despite high-level efforts to stop the trade. The government, industry and researchers need to stay focused on an issue that is only deepening concerns about long-term food security.


For thousands of years, humans have used crossbreeding and more recently genetic modifications that have steadily tamed once-wild plants into food crops. Such efforts can improve everything from production efficiency to the taste of the produce.


Seed innovation is increasingly crucial for feeding an expanding global population with crops that can withstand infections, insects or the unpredictable effects of climate change. The constant pressure to find ever-better crops has even given rise to seed theft or counterfeiting.


Low-quality and counterfeit seeds now dominate the mainland market, which faces huge challenges because law enforcers and farmers alike often struggle to tell real from fake.


Market chaos is reflected in the fact that only about 100 of the more than 7,300 crop seed breeders in China are listed as capable of doing independent research and development, according to the state-owned magazine China Newsweek. Mainland authorities started prioritising a fight against seed counterfeiters in 2021 with a “market clean-up” and “seed industry revitalisation plan”. The Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Affairs said more than 800 crop seeds registered with authorities have since been cancelled for being copies of popular plant breeds.


President Xi Jinping told a national farming conference last year that seed breeding was one of two “crucial points” in agricultural production for the world’s most populous nation and biggest food importer. The nation’s need for biotechnological breakthroughs has only increased since food supplies were disrupted by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, and as ties worsened with the United States and its allies – many of which are food exporters.


Authorities should be encouraged to keep up the fight against fakes and find ways to build and retain the talent needed for seed research projects. Agriculture experts say the industry could also benefit from a third-party platform to commercialise seed innovations.


Hong Kong could support such goals by forging ahead with its own plans to become a global biotechnology hub. The city is already the world’s second-largest centre for biotech fundraising. Keeping food on the table seems to be a good motivation to further build appetites for expanded research and innovation.


Editor's Note: Interesting to understand, a little, about the growing pains of China's domestic seed production. When was the last time a U.S. president mentioned seeds or plant breeding in a public address?


May 9, 2023

by Michelle Rook,


China received its first cargo of corn from South Africa last week. Why is China buying from them and what does it signal for the U.S. export market?


This is a reoccurring theme with China as they seem to have made the strategic decision to buy ag products from just about every global supplier but the U.S. It's largely a result of the rising trade tensions between the two countries, which is not good news for U.S. exports to China.


State-owned grain trader COFCO bought the 2.1-million-bushel shipment of South African corn, which will be sold to domestic feedmakers. Plus, between March 25 and April 14, more than 4.3 million bushels of corn left South African ports destined for China.


Bill Biedermann, AgMarket.Net co-founder, says: "China and South Africa has been doing some major logistic projects together. While we've been out partnering with our allies on growth, China has been sitting down at the table, putting together drills and opportunities for a lot of different countries, and they're winning over their trust."


Biedermann says China has also made major investments in South American infrastructure. They struck more than 20 trade deals with Brazil and are currently buying their record soybean crop, and for the first time their record corn crop. But it doesn't stop there.


"Aside from the massive increase in not just South American production, but their logistics in order to ship it out, is the relationship they have with China and the other allies we used to have strong relationships with," Biedermann says. "Now our relationships with our own allies, quite a few of them, as well as China, who we were a pretty big business partner with have really deteriorated, and I don't think that's going to reverse for some time."


To read the entire report click here.


Editor's Note: Could be long past time to check for country of origin labels on everything we buy. We have to stop enriching China by purchasing cheap, and oftentimes shoddy, goods from a country that purposefully looks exclusively elsewhere to buy things we're good at producing - like commodities.

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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.