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TSTA Weekly UpdateTSTA Weekly Update, July 06, 2023

Jul 06

TSTA Weekly Update, 07/06/2023

Weekly Update from the Texas Seed Trade Association

Member News


The TSTA staff sincerely appreciates your understanding for any possible lapses in rapid and thorough communication over the past several weeks. Our legislative director, Denise, has been largely preoccupied with a family health issue. Denise's Mother was placed in hospice a little over a week ago following a surgical procedure. The entire family has done its best to spend as much quality time together as possible over the last several weeks.


We hope all of you had a splendid celebration of our Nations 247th anniversary! Happy Independence Day!



Source: Economic Research Service, USDA


Date: Tuesday, July 11th, 2023


Time: 1:00 PM ET


Duration: 1 hour


Presenter: James MacDonald


Market concentration, and its impact on competition, has attracted growing public scrutiny. Critics argue that many industries have grown too concentrated, with fewer firms competing with one another and a consequent weakening of competition.


The issues surrounding concentration extend to agribusiness, particularly to three agribusiness sectors where concentration has increased over time: seeds, meatpacking and food retail.


During this webinar, ERS Agricultural Economist James MacDonald will present findings in Concentration and Competition in U.S. Agribusiness.


To view the report click here.


This report details consolidation in each of these industries, explains the driving forces behind increased concentration, and examines public policies aimed at encouraging competition, with a focus on the implementation of merger policy.


To register for the webinar click here.


Editor's Note: This webinar will address issues specific to the seed industry. We strongly encourage you to participate and endeavor to be informed about what the federal government intends to do regarding "lack of competition due to consolidation" in the seed industry. Remember; they're from the government and they're here to help, and if you're not at the table you may be on the table.


Source: USDA news release


USDA, Economic Research Service has scheduled a webinar on the report Concentration and Competition in U.S. Agribusiness at 1 p.m. EDT on Tuesday, July 11, 2023. During the webinar, ERS Agricultural Economist James MacDonald will present findings in three agribusiness sectors where concentration has increased over time: seeds, meatpacking, and food retail. For more information or to register, click here


Prices farmers paid for crop seed increased significantly faster than the prices farmers received for crop commodities between 1990 and 2020. During that period the average price farmers paid for all seed rose by 270 percent, while the crop commodity price index rose 56 percent.


For crops planted predominantly with genetically modified (GM) seed (corn, soybeans, and cotton), seed prices rose by an average of 463 percent between 1990 and 2020. During this period, GM seed prices peaked in 2014 at 639 percent above 1990 price levels.


Despite their higher cost, GM crop varieties have provided significant productivity gains for farmers, partly through higher yield, but also by lowering farm production costs. For example, GM traits for insect resistance reduce the need for insecticide applications.


Similarly, GM traits for herbicide tolerance provide a substitute for mechanical tillage, thus reducing labor, machinery, and fuel previously used for controlling weeds.


We have received a resume from a semi-retired gentleman with extensive management experience in the Texas seed industry looking for active employment. He's in the Palacios area and may be flexible on locations and responsibilities. He's managed people, projects, programs, websites, and has good experience as a trainer.


If you are looking for an experienced hand let us know and we'll be happy to forward his resume and contact information for your consideration. Message by hitting "reply" to the email by which this Weekly Update arrived.


Free Download of Guidelines for the establishment and management of seed testing laboratories. This is an interesting and well put-together document you may want to take a look at and keep for your files.


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.

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!


7/06/2023 - 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


There were minimal changes to the USDA's national corn and soybean ratings last week. Weather was mixed for most of last week, with parts of the Midwest and Plains receiving precipitation, including damage storms in some areas, while others remained dry.


As of Sunday, 51% of U.S. corn is rated good to excellent, up 1% on the week, with 8% of the crop silking, compared to the five-year average of 9%.


50% of soybeans are called good to excellent, down 1%, with 24% of the crop blooming, compared to 20% on average, and 4% at the pod setting stage, compared to the normal rate of 2%.


37% of the winter wheat harvest is complete, compared to 46% usually in early July, with 30% of the crop in good to excellent shape, unchanged.


48% of spring wheat is reported as good to excellent, 2% lower than last week, and 51% has headed, compared to 46% on average.


48% of cotton is in good to excellent shape, a decrease of 2%, with 42% of the crop squaring and 11% setting bolls, both matching the typical pace.


54% of sorghum is good to excellent, 2% under the previous week, with 92% planted, 21% headed, and 12% turning color, all behind the respective five-year averages.


45% of U.S. pastures and rangelands are in good to excellent condition, an increase of 1%.


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


Agri-Pulse reports:


USDA's Economic Research Service is out with a new report that pulls together data on market concentration across the agriculture and food sectors.


Key findings: Two seed companies now account for 72 percent of planted corn acres and 66 percent of planted soybean acres in the United States. The largest meatpackers account for 85% of cattle slaughter and 67% of hog slaughter. Five to six store chains account for most grocery sales in major metro areas.


Advancements in biotechnology have had a major impact on the seed sector, the 57-page report notes. While seed prices rose overall by 270% between 1990 and 2020, the seed costs for crops grown primarily with genetically modified traits increased by 463%. "The increases in seed prices reflected to a large degree the higher productivity of improved crop varieties and provided a return on investments in R&D by seed companies," the report says.


Keep in mind: The report cautions that while high concentration can raise prices for consumers and lower prices for producers, high concentration often results "from factors like innovations or the realization of scale economies that improve productivity and reduce costs and prices."


To read the USDA's report summary click here.


To read the entire report click here.


Source: United Sorghum Checkoff Program news release


LUBBOCK, Texas - Sorghum industry leaders are marking a milestone in the industry as July 1, 2023 marked the 15th anniversary of the United Sorghum Checkoff Program, the leading producer-funded organization championing the sorghum industry in the United States. Since its founding, the Sorghum Checkoff has dedicated its efforts to advancing sorghum profitability through innovative research, promotion and education.


"We've made significant strides in the past 15 years, and we're deeply committed to continuing to advance the crop for U.S. sorghum producers and end-users across the world," Sorghum Checkoff CEO Tim Lust said. "Our 13-member board of sorghum producers located across the U.S. has invested over $46 million into research aimed at optimizing sorghum as a robust, profitable crop for several value-added end-use markets. These strategic projects and collaborations in research, education and market development have been pivotal to the sorghum industry's success and are anticipated to stimulate further growth."

Crop Acreage Report

Source: USDA news release


Washington - The U.S. Department of Agriculture's National Agricultural Statistics Service (NASS) estimated 94.1 million acres of corn planted in the United States for 2023, up 6% from last year, according to the Acreage report released today. Soybean area planted is estimated at 83.5 million acres, down 5% from last year.


Following up on the Prospective Plantings report released in March, NASS surveyed approximately 9,100 segments of land and nearly 64,000 farm operators during the first two weeks of June to gather information on what farmers actually planted. Key findings released in the Acreage report include:



• Growers expect to harvest 86.3 million acres of corn for grain, up 9% from 2022.

• 93% of all corn acres planted in the United States are biotech varieties, unchanged from 2022.



• Soybean harvested area for 2023 is estimated at 82.7 million acres, down 4% from 2022.

• Producers planted 95% of the soybean acreage using herbicide resistant seed varieties, unchanged from 2022.



• All cotton planted area for 2023 is estimated at 11.1 million acres, 19% below 2022.

• Upland cotton planted is estimated at 11.0 million acres, down 19% from 2022.

• American Pima planted area is estimated at 109,000 acres, down 40% from 2022.

• Ninety-seven percent of Upland cotton planted acres are biotech varieties, up 2 percentage points from 2022.



• All wheat planted area for 2023 is estimated at 49.6 million acres, up 9% from last year.

• Winter wheat planted area is estimated at 37.0 million acres, up 11% from 2022.

• Other spring wheat planted area is estimated at 11.1 million acres, up 3% from 2022.

• Durum wheat planted area is estimated at 1.48 million acres, down 9% from last year.


NASS today also released the quarterly Grain Stocks report to provide estimates of on-farm and off-farm stocks as of June 1. Key findings in that report include:


Grain Stocks

• Corn stocks totaled 4.11 billion bushels, down 6% from the same time last year. On-farm corn stocks were up 5% from a year ago, but off-farm stocks were down 15%.

• Soybeans stored totaled 796 million bushels, down 18% from June 1, 2022. On-farm soybean stocks were down 3% from a year ago, while off-farm stocks were down 26%.

• All wheat stored totaled 580 million bushels, down 17% from a year ago. On-farm all wheat stocks were up 34% from last year, while off-farm stocks were down 25%.

• Durum wheat stored totaled 28.0 million bushels, up 18% from June 1, 2022. On-farm stocks of Durum wheat were up 38% from June 1, 2022. Off-farm stocks of Durum wheat were up 6% from a year earlier.


by Sabrina Halvorson, Hoosier Ag Today radio network


Fruit and vegetable plant breeders who use gene editing are now facing more regulations from the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).


The agency recently increased oversight of some gene-edited crops and added to the workload and waiting time for those in the produce industry. Dr. Margaret Worthington is an Associate Professor of Horticulture at the University of Arkansas System Division of Agriculture.


She is a plant breeder who works on grapes, muscadine grapes, blackberries, peaches, and nectarines. She believes the new requirements will be a bigger problem for researchers in horticulture than for those in row crops, which have more funding for research and research teams.


"None of us [in specialty crops] have a regulatory compliance team where we've had experience dealing with this sort of regulation before. It's going to be very difficult to justify the expense of starting to apply gene editing work in these specialty crops where it may be a smaller acreage and you would not expect to have the potential returns to justify that investment."


Three government agencies oversee this type of research and breeding, including the EPA, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), and the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). The USDA requirements state researchers won't need to ask for agency approval if they give a crop a trait that already exists naturally in a breeding-compatible plant.


The new EPA regulations also use that exemption but will require additional data and scientific evidence about the results of the gene editing. Worthington says that could add years and increase costs to the development of plant improvements. She gave the example of wine grapes in the Eastern U.S., which are sprayed with fungicides, she said, about a dozen times during a season.


"So, you can imagine that if you were able to stack different disease-resistance genes, you would have a huge environmental impact. You'd have the ability to reduce these sprays and that would have been a benefit to the environment. It would also have a big benefit to growers because they're reducing the amount of fossil fuels they're using and the times they have to go out and spray," she said.


She explained gene editing could be beneficial in wine grapes for creating varieties that are very similar to other, more fragile plants. Cabernet Sauvignon is easily susceptible to disease, she said, and gene editing could lead to a variety that tastes the same but does not have the same vulnerabilities.


"All of these are huge potential advantages and all these investments have been made in that area, but we're not going to actually be able to see the benefits of it now. It's going to stay in the lab and never get out into farmer's fields if we do all of this increased regulation," she said. "It's a balance between making sure that there's risk assessment and innovation. Here, I think that it's a proven technology. That it's known to be safe and we're being overly conservative and stifling innovation."



Source: Purdue University


WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. - Last year saw a roughly 40 percent increase in the number of reported cases involving agricultural confined spaces, according to the 2022 Summary of U.S. Agricultural Confined Space-Related Injuries and Fatalities recently released by the Purdue University Agricultural Safety and Health Program in the Department of Agricultural and Biological Engineering.


The annual, widely used summary documents the previous year's frequency and causes of confined space and grain entrapment incidents in the agricultural industry and provides a historical analysis of agricultural confined space hazards.


In 2022, the summary reported no fewer than 83 cases - 24 fatal and 59 nonfatal cases - involving agricultural confined spaces. This represents a 40.7% increase over the 59 cases in 2021. The authors explain that there are limitations in data collection as not every case may be reported. As a result, these numbers are approximate.


In addition, of the total number of confinement cases, 42 grain-related entrapments represented a 44.8% increase over 2021. This was the highest number of reported grain entrapments in over a decade. According to the authors, grain entrapments are the most common type of agricultural confined space incident.


Of 41 non-grain-related cases, incidents involved livestock waste handling facilities, entanglements inside confined spaces, falls from confined space structures and grain dust explosions or fires.


Source: USDA news release


In 2022, the total supply of fresh citrus fruits available for consumption in the United States was nearly 8.4 pounds per person after adjusting for spoilage, plate waste, and other losses. From 1970 to 2022, loss-adjusted per person availability of oranges and grapefruit fell by nearly 51 and 87 percent, respectively.


Meanwhile, availability of other citrus fruits grew: Lemons doubled, while limes increased by nearly 24 times. Year-to-year changes in availability of citrus fruits reflect swings in production caused by weather events, citrus diseases, changes in import or export volumes, and other factors. Longer trends, however, are usually driven by changes in consumer demand.


For example, skipping breakfast--or making it a "grab-and-go" meal--is likely to reduce demand for fresh oranges and grapefruit. Grapefruit takes more effort to eat, especially when compared with easy-to-peel citrus fruits such as tangerines, which are sweeter and smaller.


Source: Agricultural & Applied Economics Association (AAEA) news release


Organic production becomes more concentrated on larger farms when consumer demand for organic increases, which tends to happen when the economy is stronger. A new study finds organic farms are most likely to exit 1-2 years after entering, which is fast given the high cost of transitioning to organic.


In the new article "Survival and growth of organic farms over the long-run" published in the Journal of the Agricultural & Applied Economics Association, Michael Brady, David Granatstein, and Elizabeth Kirby from Washington State University.


The authors say "We had two main findings. First, organic farms have the highest exit rates in the first couple years after becoming certified organic producers. Second, large organic farms are more sensitive, in terms of exit and growth, to organic market conditions than small organic farms."


While discussing the structure of their research they state "we constructed a record of entry, exit, and growth decisions for organic farms back to the beginning of the industry in the 1990's, which is much longer than previous studies. Then, we track nearly every farm in our study region (Washington State), which is a significant improvement over a survey of farms that is likely to underrepresent small farms.



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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.