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Corteva invests almost €13m in Afumati facility to meet demand from European farmersCorteva invests almost €13m in Afumati facility to meet demand from European farmers

May 19

TSTA Weekly Update, 05/19/2022

Weekly Update from the Texas Seed Trade Association
Member News
Registration is officially open for ASTA’s new Leadership Summit, June 25-29 in Indianapolis! Make plans now to send your team to a professional development, advocacy and training opportunity that will benefit your company and your industry for years to come.
For more information, including the latest schedule of events, visit the conference webpage.
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!
5/19/22 - 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!
Conversations among the Texas State Seed & Plant Board membership indicate there may be requests for re-certification of Texas wheat seed. The Texas Wheat Producers have communicated with the board their concern over possible shortages of quality certified wheat seed due to on-going drought conditions in Texas and on the High Plains/Great Plains.
If you are a certified wheat seed producer please communicate your thoughts to the TSTA office via a reply to this email newsletter. We have heard from several of our members and are interested to know what you forecast for availability and quality of certified wheat seed for the 2022 planting season.
Source: Corteva Agriscience news release
BUCHAREST, Romania - Corteva Agriscience is accelerating the growth of its sunflower seed business in Europe, with the completion of an additional €14m of investment in the Afumati production facility in Romania. The investment will allow the company to meet growing domestic and international demand from farmers for the high quality sunflower seeds.
The Afumati seed production facility, located 12km east of the Romanian capital Bucharest, is one of the most modern Corteva production facilities in the world and the largest seed processing station in Romania. Operating since 2006, it produces advanced corn and sunflower Pioneer® seeds for customers all over Europe.
The new capital investment project comprising a bulk storage and conditioning facility will enable Corteva Agriscience to shorten the supply chain, improve its reliability and agility and increase European processing capacity to support growth in the region. More than €74m in total has so far been invested in the Afumati seed production facility.
Editor's Note: Corteva is a valued member of the Texas Seed Trade Association
News Bits
U.S. corn and soybean planting gained some ground last week. However, the planting paces for both major crops remain slower than average following cool, wet weather in some key growing areas late last month and early this month.
The USDA says 49% of the U.S. corn crop is planted, compared to the five-year average of 67%, with 14% of the crop emerged, compared to 32% on average.
30% of soybeans are planted, compared to the normal pace of 39%, with 9% emerged, compared to 12% on average.
48% of winter wheat has headed, compared to 53% typically in mid-May, while 27% of the crop is in good to excellent shape, down 2% on the week.
39% of this year's spring wheat crop is planted, compared to the usual rate of 67%, while 16% has emerged, compared to 30% on average.
37% of cotton is planted, matching the five-year average.
80% of rice is planted, compared to 79% normally in the growing season, and 53% has emerged, compared to 60% on average.
22% of U.S. pastures and rangelands are in good to excellent condition, steady with a week ago.
The National Cattlemen's Beef Association (NCBA) condemned the unfunded and duplicative Meat and Poultry Special Investigator Act of 2022, which was marked up tMay 19,his morning by the House Agriculture Committee.
"Cattle producers strongly support effective oversight of the meatpacking sector, but the special investigator bill does nothing to accomplish that goal. Rather than focusing on adequate staffing and funding for the woefully under-resourced Packers and Stockyards Division at USDA, this hasty proposal was rushed through the legislative process without consideration of the confusing bureaucratic mess it would create.
"Arming USDA with unchecked subpoena and prosecutorial power while significantly undercutting the Department of Justice's role in the process is poor practice," said NCBA Vice President of Government Affairs Ethan Lane.
The special investigator bill would create a new position in the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) with immense prosecutorial and subpoena power. To comply with this legislation, USDA would be forced to divert resources from other mission-critical areas of the Agricultural Marketing Service, stealing resources from the essential programs cattle producers rely on every day.
"The vote on this bill comes at a time when producers are facing record inflation, soaring input costs, labor shortages, and ongoing supply chain vulnerabilities. Congress should be working to address these pressing issues that are cutting into producers' profitability," said Lane.
NCBA expressed their opposition to the bill in a letter to the leadership of the House Agriculture Committee.
Farmland Partners Inc. today announced the closing of the acquisition of a 166-acre Illinois farm for $2.4 million. The corn and soybean farm is located in Bureau County and includes a grain bin that can hold 16,000 bushels.
"We are always on the hunt for high-quality farmland, and this tract is a perfect example of what we're seeking," said FPI Chairman and CEO Paul Pittman. "It is located in a desirable area, has a history of profitable production, and there's an experienced tenant in place."
FPI now owns 220 farms in the U.S. Corn Belt, spanning 44,700 acres that are leased to 36 tenants.
"This is the first property that we have purchased in Bureau County," explained Sam Woodrow, a farm manager for FPI who oversaw the transaction. "The area has excellent soils and is strategically located with access to several grain markets."
FPI is the nation's largest publicly traded farmland REIT by U.S. acreage.
Editor's Note: Bureau Co. is in North/Central Illinois and is characterized by some of the most productive soils in the Prairie State.
Source: USDA news release U.S. farmers are expected to produce 1.17 billion bushels of winter wheat this year, according to the Crop Production report released today by USDA's National Agricultural Statistics Service (NASS). In NASS's first winter wheat production forecast for 2022, production is expected to decrease 8% from 2021. As of May 1, the U.S. yield is expected to average 47.9 bushels per acre, down 2.3 bushels from last year's average of 50.2 bushels per acre.
Hard Red Winter production is forecast at 590 million bushels, down 21% from a year ago. Soft Red Winter, at 354 million bushels, is expected to decrease 2% from 2021. White Winter, at 230 million bushels, is up 38% from last year. Of the White Winter production, 15.7 million bushels are Hard White and 214 million bushels are Soft White.
NASS surveyed approximately 9,300 producers across the country in preparation for this Crop Production report. This monthly report contains data for the United States, including area planted and harvested, yield, and production. The report also contains a weather summary, a monthly agricultural summary, and an analysis of precipitation and the degree of departure from the normal precipitation map for the month.
The Crop Production and other NASS reports are available at
Comment Period Closed for President Biden's Executive Order to Investigate Competition and the Intellectual Property System: Seeds and Other Agricultural Inputs
A total of 40 Public Comments are available for your review.
The majority of comments, issued by professional organizations, are strongly supportive of additional federal regulation concerning mergers/consolidation of seed companies, access to technology, links between crop protection products and plant traits, and intellectual property protections afforded seed.
The comments may be missing context if you have not reviewed the executive order that is accessible by clicking the top link in this box.
The comments by the United States Chamber of Commerce are supportive of many of the same things as the TSTA. Towards the end of their comment the chamber recommended the USDA, and the federal government, concentrate instead on reducing regulation and other barriers to corporate formation, research and development, and product introduction as the most effective means to increase competition.
It's bard to say if the comments will be read much less considered carefully. It seems an important topic for our industry to warrant so relatively few comments from organizations representing professional plant breeders and seed sellers.
It is very likely the larger companies, including those who are members of the TSTA, are making personal communications with pertinent agency officials in Washington concerning this executive order. Thus it is not surprising there are no public comments from multinational seed providers. This is likewise true of larger agricultural organizations with a presence in Washington.
Source: AgbioInvestor news release
AgbioInvestor in collaboration with CropLife International has completed its black box study into the time and cost required to develop a novel GM trait.
The study was commissioned to provide an up-to-date view on the cost and duration of the discovery, development and authorisation of a new plant biotechnology-derived trait that has received cultivation approval in at least two countries and import approvals from at least five countries in the 2017-2022 timeframe.
The data collected was intended to demonstrate the current situation according to three main categories:
• Cost of each part of the discovery, development and authorisation process.
• Time involved to complete each part of the process needed to commercialise a biotechnology-derived genetic trait.
• Total consecutive time required to bring a biotechnology-derived genetic trait from discovery to commercialisation (including authorisations).
Survey responses were provided by four of the industry's largest GM trait developers - BASF Agricultural Solutions, Bayer Crop Science, Corteva Agriscience and Syngenta.
Key findings of the study:
• The average cost of developing a new GM trait has fallen to $115 million.
• The time required to develop a new GM trait has risen to an average of 16.5 years.
To read the entire report click here.
Source: United States Department of Justice news release
Washington - A federal grand jury in Madison, Wisconsin, returned an indictment charging a corn milling company, a company vice president, two environmental coordinators and three additional supervisors with crimes related to worker safety, fraud, air pollution and obstruction of justice, the Department of Justice announced.
Two former company supervisors previously pleaded guilty to related charges in the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Wisconsin.
According to the indictment handed down on May 11, Didion Milling Inc. (DMI) owned and operated a corn mill in Cambria, Wisconsin. Grain milling generates large amounts of grain dust, and DMI was required to regularly clean dust accumulations from inside the mill in order to prevent both food safety and quality issues and to remove accumulations that could fuel combustible dust explosions. DMI was also required to operate and maintain air pollution control devices called baghouses to reduce emissions of grain dust - a form of particulate matter pollutant - into the environment. The indictment alleges that DMI was further required to document the completion of routine cleanings inside the mill and the routine monitoring of baghouses to prevent dust emissions outside of the mill.
The indictment alleges that DMI willfully violated two federal safety standards promulgated under the Occupational Safety and Health Act (OSH Act) - by (1) by failing to develop and implement a written program to effectively prevent and remove combustible grain dust accumulations, and (2) by failing to install explosion venting or explosion suppression on a dust filter collector - thereby causing the deaths of five employees due to a combustible dust explosion at DMI's corn mill on May 31, 2017.
The indictment further alleges that DMI; its vice president of operations, Derrick Clark, 48 of Waunakee, Wisconsin; its former food safety superintendent, Shawn Mesner, 44 of Readstown, Wisconsin; its former shift superintendent, Anthony Hess, 54 of Pardeeville, Wisconsin; and its former shift superintendent, Joel Niemeyer, 39 of Baraboo, Wisconsin; conspired to commit fraud by agreeing to take deceptive measures to conceal the failure to adhere to food safety procedures at the mill, including by falsifying the cleaning logbook to conceal the fact that DMI was not following its written cleaning schedule, so that DMI could maintain its food safety certification and continue to sell its products to food and beverage manufacturers.
DMI, Clark, Mesner, Hess and Niemeyer, along with DMI's former environmental coordinators James Lenz, 65 of Deerfield, Wisconsin, and Joseph Winch, 66, of Logansport, Indiana, also were indicted for conspiracy to commit federal offenses in order to conceal violations and unsafe conditions from auditors and government agencies. The alleged conspiracy included an agreement to falsify cleaning logs and baghouse monitoring logs, submit false environmental compliance certifications, and provide false testimony on matters within the jurisdictions of the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).
DMI and individual defendants are further charged in the indictment with related substantive offenses. Hess, Clark and DMI are charged with obstruction of justice for providing false and misleading testimony to OSHA after the May 2017 explosion concerning their knowledge of combustible dust hazards at DMI.
Former DMI shift superintendents Michael Bright, 36, of Merrill, Wisconsin, and Nicholas Booker, 42, of Cambria, Wisconsin, previously pleaded guilty to making false entries in DMI's cleaning logbook and false entries in DMI's baghouse log, which involved matters within the jurisdiction of OSHA and EPA, respectively.
The OSH Act makes it a misdemeanor for an employer to willfully violate a safety standard, and that violation cause death to any employee. If convicted of the OSH Act offenses, DMI may be ordered to make restitution to victims as compensation for their pecuniary losses, fined, and sentenced to corporate probation with conditions. If convicted of fraud conspiracy, a defendant may be sentenced to a maximum term of incarceration of 20 years in prison, fined not more than $1 million and ordered to forfeit assets derived from fraud. If convicted of conspiracy to commit federal offenses and other substantive offenses set forth in the indictment, a defendant may face maximum terms of incarceration ranging from five to 20 years in prison and fines up to $1 million depending on the crime of conviction. A federal district court judge will determine any sentence after considering the U.S. Sentencing Guidelines and other statutory factors.
Assistant Attorney General Todd Kim of the Justice Department's Environment and Natural Resources Division made the announcement. EPA's Criminal Investigative Division is investigating the case.
An indictment is merely an allegation and all defendants are presumed innocent until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt in a court of law.
Treated Seed a Hot Topic in State Legislatures
ASTA press release (reflecting our friend Pat Miller's efforts)
While treated seed continues to be a dominant issue in state legislatures, many of the bills filed didn’t get very far in the process. Most states are close to adjournment for the year, and at this point New York and Vermont are the only states with treated seed related bills still in play. However, ASTA continues to monitor the state legislatures in case things change.
With the recent passage of H.626, Vermont became the first state to restrict the use of neonicotinoid treated seed, with the focus on impacts to the bee population in the state. ASTA has joined with CropLife America and the Biotechnology Innovation Organization on a letter asking the Governor to veto the bill. The letter underscores the importance of neonicotinoid treated seeds as a safe and vital tool allowing farmers to protect seeds at their most vulnerable stage and decrease the amount of foliar application sprays and above ground exposure. Ironically, during the past legislative session, a bill was passed that established the Agricultural Innovation Board to look at the state’s regulations and how they collectively impact agricultural entities. During their February 2022 meeting, the board commented that “to date we haven’t been able to establish a link between treated seeds and pollinator impact.” This tracks with recent data showing that despite the widespread use of seed treatments containing neonicotinoids since the 1980s, honeybee colonies are in fact increasing, while collapse disorder is improving.
The New York Senate and Assembly have each passed bills to ban neonics and neonic-treated seeds, although both have nuances that keep them from being classified as companion bills. A7429a and S699c, each called the Birds and Bees Protection Act, differ in the process that would determine a variance to the exemption to the ban, if no acceptable alternative exists. Neither bill contains a provision to require seed treated with a neonicotinoid to be classified as a pesticide.
It’s interesting to note that 36 bills were introduced in the states this year that would affect the use of neonicotinoids, but the Vermont and New York bills are the only ones that have shown progress.
Source: USDA news release
Washington - Agricultural producers and handlers who are certified organic, along with producers and handlers who are transitioning to organic production, can now apply for the U.S. Department of Agriculture's (USDA) Organic and Transitional Education and Certification Program (OTECP) and Organic Certification Cost Share Program (OCCSP), which help producers and handlers cover the cost of organic certification, along with other related expenses. Applications for OTECP and OCCSP are both due October 31, 2022.
"By helping with organic certification costs - long identified as a barrier to certification - USDA has helped producers participate in new markets while investing in the long-term health of their operations," said Farm Service Agency Administrator Zach Ducheneaux.
"We launched the Organic and Transitional Education and Certification Program to build on the support offered through the Organic Certification Cost Share Program and provide additional assistance to organic and transitioning producers weathering the continued market impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic. This year, in response to stakeholder feedback, we have aligned the signup dates for these two organic programs and encourage producers to work with the local USDA Service Centers and State agencies to complete the applications. The FSA, and the USDA broadly, are committed to making sure our Nation's organic producers and handlers have the tools they need to continue positively shaping our local and regional food systems," said Ducheneaux.
Cost Share for 2022
OTECP covers:
• Certification costs for organic producers and handlers (25% up to $250 per category).
• Eligible expenses for transitional producers, including fees for pre-certification inspections and development of an organic system plan (75% up to $750).
• Registration fees for educational events (75% up to $200).
• Soil testing (75% up to $100).
Meanwhile, OCCSP covers 50% or up to $500 per category of certification costs in 2022.
This cost share for certification is available for each of these categories: crops, wild crops, livestock, processing/handling and State organic program fees.
Producers can receive cost share through both OTECP and OCCSP. Both OTECP and OCCSP cover costs incurred from October 1, 2021, to September 30, 2022. Producers have until October 31, 2022 to file applications, and FSA will make payments as applications are received.
How to Apply
To apply, producers and handlers should contact the Farm Service Agency (FSA) at their local USDA Service Center. As part of completing the OCCSP applications, producers and handlers will need to provide documentation of their organic certification and eligible expenses. Organic producers and handlers may also apply for OCCSP through participating State agencies.
Additional details can be found on the OTECP and OCCSP webpages.
Opportunity for State Agencies
FSA is accepting applications for State agencies to administer OCCSP through July 18, 2022. If a State department of agriculture chooses to participate in OCCSP, both the State department of agriculture and FSA County Offices in that State will accept OCCSP applications and make payments to eligible certified operations. However, the producer or handler may only receive OCCSP assistance by either FSA or the participating State department of agriculture.
More Information
OTECP builds upon OCCSP, providing additional relief to help producers during the pandemic. OTECP uses funds from the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act; OCCSP is funded through the Farm Bill.
USDA has made other strides to assist organic producers. In 2022, USDA's Risk Management Agency (RMA) increased expansion limits for organic producers with coverage through Whole-Farm Revenue Protection (WFRP). RMA also updated the insurance option to allow producers to report acreage as certified organic or transitioning, as long as organic certification was requested by the acreage reporting date. Also, this year, RMA introduced a new option - Micro Farm - through WFRP designed for producers with small-scale operations that sell locally, which includes organic producers.
Editor's Note: As we have opined here many times we have absolutely no issues with organic farming or organic seed production. The official policy iis it's a farmer's personal decision, if a business owner feels he can provide a better living for their family, employment to workers, and security for the business through organic production we are all in favor. Our perpetual difficulty occurs when someone tries to tell us that organic food is better for us, more nutritious, or better for the environment. Is is not; market it some other way.
It perplexes that an administration publicly on record criticizing higher food production costs, occasional food shortages, food availability "deserts" in inner cities, frequently on-record railing against food insecurity, can consistently show strong support for less efficient and more expensive food production practices. We have plenty of first-world problems in the US and worrying about food safety is, apparently, something some choose for concern.
We understand there is plenty of government support available for "conventional" agriculture. There ought to be, proportionately, as conventional production provides over 95% of the nation's food. Is subsidizing organic agriculture a wise use of your tax dollars? When was the last time you received government assistance for a business model decision? We'd like to know what you think.
Here's some propaganda released this week that seems inconsistent with increasing organic acreage.
Source: The White House news release
Pandemic-related supply chain disruptions and Putin's Price Hike are increasing the price of food for working families here at home and leading to shortages of food in countries across the globe. Today, President Biden will visit a family farm to announce actions his administration is taking to support American farmers, reduce food prices, and feed the world.
Putin's unjustified invasion of Ukraine has cut off a critical source of wheat, corn, barley, oilseeds, and cooking oil. It has also disrupted global supply chains for fertilizer, which farmers depend on to maximize yields. These and other actions, combined with the ongoing pandemic-related disruptions to global supply chains, have put pressure on food prices, with global food prices increasing nearly 13 percent following Putin's invasion.
America's farmers are the breadbasket of democracy and are already playing a critical role in the fight against Putin's Price Hike. During President Biden's first year in office, American agricultural exports shattered all previous records, reaching a combined $177 billion, generating an estimated $378 billion in total economic output, and supporting 1.3 million jobs here in the United States.
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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.