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China Largest Funder of Ag R&DChina is World's Largest Funder of Agriculture R&D
Jul 21

TSTA Weekly Update, 07/21/2022

Weekly Update from the Texas Seed Trade Association
Member News
The TSTA Board of Directors met this week at Horseshoe Bay Resort for a staff performance review, board review, a strategic planning session, and a board meeting. Association President, Luke Turner, ran the event, jammed with agenda items, and managed to end most of the meetings just a little bit early.
The meetings were very productive and as plans become action items the board members and TSTA staff will be rolling out some new activities and revised priorities for the association.
Our thanks to Tara Artho, the exec at Texas Grain & Feed Association, for facilitating the strategic planning session. Tara did a great job of keeping things moving in a productive fashion.
A very big thank you to the TSTA Board of Directors for their participation and input throughout these important meetings!
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!
7/21/22 - 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!
U.S. Environment Protection Agency publishes consent decree regarding treated seed
ASTA release
Earlier this month, EPA published a consent decree regarding the Center for Food Safety’s (CFS) petition on treated seed, which dates back to 2017.
EPAs notice does not address the merits of CFS’s petition, but sets September 30, 2022 as the deadline by which the agency will respond to it.
In 2018, ASTA submitted comments in partnership with CropLife America and a number of other grower organizations that detailed, among other things, the lack of basis for the claim that additional regulatory hurdles are necessary for treated seed.
ASTA’s comments, which can be read in full here, explain that efforts to require separate and/or additional registrations for seeds treated with crop protection products would unnecessarily duplicate EPA’s existing exercise of authority under FIFRA, and place tremendous burdens on growers, while having no impact on human health or environmental safety.
News Bits
The USDA's good to excellent rating on corn held steady last week as soybeans declined slightly. Weather continues to be mixed across the Midwest and Plains, with a mostly hot, dry pattern in some key growing areas balanced out by nearly ideal conditions in others.
As of Sunday, 64% of U.S. corn is rated good to excellent, unchanged on the week, with 37% of the crop silking, compared to the five-year average of 48%, and 6% at the dough making stage, compared to 7% on average.
61% of soybeans are in good to excellent shape, 1% less than last week, with 48% blooming, compared to 55% normally in mid-July, and 14% at the pod setting stage, compared to 19% on average.
70% of winter wheat is harvested, compared to the usual rate of 71%.
71% of spring wheat is called good to excellent, up 1%, but just 68% of the crop has headed, compared to 90% on average.
38% of the cotton crop is reported as good to excellent, down 1%, with 74% squaring, compared to 70% on average, and 31% setting bolls, compared to the five-year average of 27%.
72% of rice falls into the good to excellent category, a drop of 5%, and 28% has headed, compared to the typical pace of 31%.
26% of U.S. pastures and rangelands are in good to excellent condition, 3% below a week ago.
Consumer prices for cereal products as measured through the Consumer Price Index (CPI)-a widely used measure of inflation-rose about 11 percent during the January-June 2022 period from the same period in 2021. This marked the largest year-over-year increase in this 6-month period since 1981.
The rise in consumer prices for cereal products tracks a more substantial increase in wheat prices. Cash wheat prices in Kansas City, MO-the market price that most closely reflects the prices mills pay for wheat-were up 63 percent from the same period in the previous year. This heightened volatility follows a historically typical pattern.
Price changes in commodity markets tend to be relatively more extreme than the changes in consumer prices. Generally, commodity prices make up a small portion of the value of these cereal products because of the level of transformation and transportation that the products undergo through the value chain.
Farm Bureau's top economist is predicting fuel and fertilizer prices will stay high the next couple of years as commodity prices further squeeze farm margins.
Roger Cryan says input inflation spurring higher interest rates will make farming more expensive, by his calculations, maybe into 2024.
"Rates for operating loans are going up as the Fed finally addresses the inflation, the ongoing inflation, which I think we're going to have inflation in the range of five to nine percent for the next two-years. That ends up getting built into long-term interest rates."
Meantime, crop prices have softened as producing nations push to replace losses from war-ravaged Ukraine.
"Corn and wheat prices have gone down, down to about where they were before the war...but it also tightens up the bottom line for farmers, because those fertilizer prices may have flattened at a high rate...I haven't really seen signs that they're coming down yet. Fuel prices are easing some, but they're still pretty high."
Cryan says the economic uncertainty is not good for farmers or consumers.
"High input costs are 'lose-lose' for farmers and people who need to eat. High input costs mean that the farmers are disincentivized to produce, and that folks who need food will have a hard time getting it."
Federal Reserve officials will meet again next week when they're expected to raise interest rates another three-quarters of a percent, and as much as a full-percent after June's forty-year inflation high of 9.1 percent.
The U.S. International Trade Commission (ITC) ruled against imposing tariffs on nitrogen fertilizers imported from Russia and Trinidad and Tobago.
"This comes as a welcome relief," said National Corn Growers Association (NCGA) President Chris Edgington. "We have been sounding the alarms and telling the ITC commissioners that tariffs will drive up input prices to even more unaffordable levels for farmers and cripple our supply. I am so glad they listened."
The decision comes after CF Industries filed a petition with ITC in late 2021, requesting that the commission place tariffs on urea ammonium nitrate, which is used in liquid fertilizers. Shortages and prices have since increased exponentially.
NCGA has come out strongly against the tariffs. It was the only commodities group that testified at ITC's public hearing, and it forcefully raised the issue in the press. NCGA also engaged in an aggressive advocacy campaign with elected officials.
ITC's decision takes effect immediately.
Follow the science? Biden Administration politicizes EPA by ignoring its own scientists in backdoor way to ban atrazine. It will harm farming and increase food prices - by Hank Campbell of Science 2.0
The No. 1 crop in America is corn. It’s a major ingredient in thousands of food and beverage items as well as a staple in beef cattle diets, and it is the second largest export after soybeans. A recent decision by the Environmental Protection Agency could change all of that.
Late last month, the EPA released a new standard for how much of the popular and crucial weedkiller known as Atrazine, in use since 1958, could be detected in aquatic systems. Known as the Concentration Equivalent Level of Concern, or CE-LOC , this number was 18 parts per billion from 2004-2011. In 2011, it temporarily dropped to 10 ppb before scientists settled at 15 ppb in 2019 during the final stages of the recurring EPA process known as registration review, which began again in 2013.
Now the Biden administration wants to make it the unworkably low level of 3.4 ppb.
Informative Background on the EPA Consent Decree on Treated Seed
from the National Law Review
On July 6, 2022, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) released a proposed consent decree intended to resolve the case, Center for Food Safety, et al. v. U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (3:21-cv-09640-JSC), brought against EPA in the United States District Court for the Northern District of California alleging that EPA has unreasonably delayed responding to a petition for rulemaking relating to the regulatory exemption of pesticide treated seed.  87 Fed. Reg. 40233.
In accordance with EPA’s March 18, 2022, memorandum entitled “Consent Decrees and Settlement Agreements to Resolve Environmental Claims Against the Agency,” EPA issued a Federal Register notice providing the proposed consent decree to resolve Center for Food Safety, et al. v. U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and providing a comment period. Comments on the proposed consent decree from persons who are not named as parties to the litigation in question are due on or before August 5, 2022. The public can submit comments at in Docket ID Number EPA-HQ-OGC-2022-0511.
This case was filed in connection with a petition (Petition) from the Center for Food Safety on or around April 26, 2017, requesting that EPA amend 40 C.F.R. Section 152.25(a) to exclude seeds for planting coated with systemic pesticides intended to kill pests of the plant, or, in the alternative, publish a formal agency interpretation in the Federal Register stating that 40 C.F.R. Section 152.25(a) does not apply to seeds for planting coated with systemic pesticides intended to kill pests of the plant, and enforce the numerous pesticide registration and labeling requirements for each separate crop seed product that is coated with a neonicotinoid or other systemic insecticidal chemical (2017 Petition Requests). EPA requested public comment on the 2017 Petition and received approximately 100 substantive comments. On December 14, 2021, Plaintiffs filed a Complaint alleging that EPA's failure to respond to the Petition constitutes an unreasonable delay under Section 706(1) of the Administrative Procedure Act (APA), 5 U.S.C. 706(1).
Under the proposed consent decree, EPA would, no later than September 30, 2022, either grant, deny, or grant in part and deny in part each of the Petition Requests. Court approval of this proposed consent decree would resolve all claims in this case except for the claim for the costs of litigation, including reasonable attorneys’ fees. EPA or the Department of Justice may withdraw or withhold consent to the proposed consent decree if the comments disclose facts or considerations that indicate that such consent is inappropriate, improper, inadequate, or inconsistent with the requirements of the APA or the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide, and Rodenticide Act (FIFRA). Unless EPA or the Department of Justice determines that consent should be withdrawn, the terms of the proposed consent decree will be affirmed and entered with the court.
The treated article exemption under FIFRA, as EPA has applied it over the years, has been relevant mostly to uncontroversial products such as shower curtains (the pesticide applied to such a product is intended to preserve the shower curtain and not considered using a pesticide when one uses the shower curtain).
Meanwhile, the practice of coating seeds with pesticides became more controversial in recent years about possible impacts on honeybees from fugitive dust from neonicotinoid-treated crop seeds. The concern is whether such non-target movement of pesticide residues (the dust) might be partly responsible for the apparent decline in honeybee populations. Critics view EPA’s policy about treated articles as not incorporating a sufficiently robust assessment of the impacts of this pesticide use pattern -- that is, the dust from the treated seeds and the systemic nature of neonicotinoid products used this way have impacts that EPA “ignores” due to the treated article exemption.
Interestingly, any residues remaining in the food produced using such products still must meet the Food Quality Protection Act (FQPA) safety standard of “reasonable certainty of no harm” from consuming the food -- but critics view the neonicotinoid products as causing unreasonable environmental impacts -- even if the finished food product is safe. In this view, critics of the current treated article exemption definition argue that the environmental impacts of neonicotinoid pesticides are left insufficiently regulated. One problem EPA faces, however, is that the treated article exemption applies to a much larger universe of pesticide applications than seed treatments, so changes to better evaluate the environmental impact of neonicotinoids could impact other products currently not viewed as controversial. This partly explains why EPA has delayed its response to the Petition as it considers how to respond. Changes to the current policy could result in many more products or applications needing EPA review, which would expand the pesticide registration universe at a time when EPA struggles to meet evaluation deadlines for currently registered products. EPA now will have to decide how to move forward on this issue, which will likely have more complex implications for products beyond neonicotinoid pesticides.
©2022 Bergeson & Campbell, P.C.National Law Review, Volume XII, Number 196
Jul. 21, 2022
Source: United Sorghum Checkoff Program news release
LUBBOCK, Texas - In a major step forward for the sorghum industry, school foodservice providers and American schoolchildren, the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) recently added sorghum, a nutrient-rich, high-protein, gluten-free ancient whole grain, to its Food Buying Guide for Child Nutrition Programs. The Food Buying Guide is the primary = resource used by school foodservice directors to build menus that comply with USDA nutrition requirements.
"The inclusion of sorghum in the Food Buying Guide is a monumental win for sorghum producers as we continue seeking to develop new markets for our crop," United Sorghum Checkoff Program (USCP) Executive Director Norma Ritz Johnson said.
"Sorghum's inclusion in the guide is pivotal in our efforts to increase its visibility and ease of use among fo= odservice professionals, as well as the students they serve, and the industry is excited to deliver this nutritious whole grain to the plates of America's schoolchildren."
In an effort extending over many months, the United Sorghum Checkoff Pro= gram has worked with USDA to add sorghum to the Food Buying Guide.
As of July 1, 2022, USDA has implemented a new requirement stating that at least 80% of the weekly grains in school lunch and breakfast menus must be whole-grain rich, which has resulted in school nutrition providers actively seeking foods that satisfy this requirement. As a nutrient-rich ancient whole grain, sorghum will prove to be the solution for school nutrition professionals for the upcoming school year and beyond.
"The Food Buying Guide is a critical resource on which foodservice professionals rely to formulate meal plans for school nutrition programs that meet USDA nutrition requirements," Sorghum Checkoff Director of Food Innovations & Institutional Markets, Lanier Dabruzzi, MS, RD, LD, said. "As the 2022-23 school year opens, schools are working around a new 80% whole grain requirement. This timely addition will give school nutrition providers a new ingredient to include in bowls, salads, soups, baked goods and more."
The Food Buying Guide provides a roadmap for foodservice professionals to develop well-rounded nutritious menus by defining how certain foods contribute or credit toward federal nutrition guidelines. The inclusion of whole grain sorghum, pearled sorghum and sorghum flour in this Guide is an important acknowledgement by USDA that sorghum is a nutritious addition to the plates of American schoolchildren as a nutrient-rich, high-protein, gluten-free ancient whole grain.
Foodservice professionals who are interested in incorporating sorghum in to their school menus as a healthy and gluten-free whole-grain can visit, or contact Lanier Dabruzzi at lanier= to learn more about purchasing and utilizing sorghum in a variety of ways offering a new and nutritious menu option to satisfy students of all ages.
A history of rye: How early farmers made plants genetically less flexible
Martin Luther Universitat & IPK Gatersleben-Leibniz Institute of Plant Genetics and Crop Plant Research
Over the course of many thousands of years, humans turned rye into a cultivated plant. In doing so, they have considerably limited its genetic flexibility. Today, wild rye not only has a more diverse genetic make-up, it is able to recombine this more freely than its domesticated cousins. A research team led by Martin Luther University Halle-Wittenberg (MLU) and the Leibniz Institute of Plant Genetics and Crop Plant Research (IPK) has demonstrated this in a new study published in the scientific journal “Molecular Biology and Evolution”. The results also explain why cultivated rye is less resistant than wild species to developments such as climate change.
In their study, the team investigated various properties and the genetic material of 916 wild and domesticated rye plants from different regions in Europe and Asia. They were particularly interested in the so-called recombining regions of rye. In essence, this describes how often the genetic material within a plant mixes along a chromosome during cell division. “The process of recombination plays an important role in a species’ evolution because it enables two beneficial gene variants to combine,” explains Dr Steven Dreissig from MLU. At the same time, useful variants can also be separated from ones that are less beneficial. The larger the recombination landscape, the more plants are able to flexibly recombine their genetic material.
For early farmers, however, this process was disadvantageous: agriculture relies on uniform plants with more or less there the same properties and the same genetic material. In the case of rye, says Dreissig, the situation is aggravated by the fact that the plants depend on cross-pollination; unlike barley or wheat, they are unable to self-pollinate. “Rye pollen can travel up to several kilometres. This allows populations that are separated spatially to remain in contact and exchange genetic material,” says Dreissig.
People started growing cereals, such as barley or wheat, around 12,000 years ago. Most of the varieties established today originated in the Fertile Crescent region of the Middle East. “Rye is assumed to have first spread to Europe as a weed and could only be domesticated there much later because there were no disturbing wild varieties,” says Dr Martin Mascher from IPK, who is also a member of the German Centre for Integrative Biodiversity Research (iDiv) Halle-Jena-Leipzig.
Their new analyses have allowed the researchers to reconstruct the distribution of rye and recreate a kinship network from Asia to Central Europe. The wider the distance between the individual locations, the greater the differences in the recombination landscape of the plants. “We actually found major differences between domesticated and wild rye, especially in the non-recombining regions. In cultivated rye, the recombining regions are significantly smaller than in the weed-like plants, such as those still found today in Turkey,” says Dreissig.
This is advantageous for cultivated plants because it makes plants with desirable properties, for example firm ears and large grains, more uniform and controllable. Wild rye, on the other hand, benefits from this genetic flexibility, which allows it to react better to disturbance factors, such as a changing climate.
The team also identified a gene region that appears to play a major role in the flexibility of the genetic material. In doing so, they also found a gene that was already known to influence recombining regions in yeast.
The study was funded by the Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft (German Research Foundation, DFG) and the Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF).
Original publication:
Schreiber et al. (2022) Recombination Landscape Divergence Between Populations is Marked by Larger Low-Recombining Regions in Domesticated Rye. Molecular Biology and Evolution. DOI:
Seed Law: the Government (Argentina) analyzes that producers pay a canon for soybean and wheat sowing
reprinted from Zyri; originally appearing in World
The Minister of Agriculture, Livestock and Fisheries, Julian Dominguez, reinstalled the possibility that Argentine farmers pay a canon for soybeans and wheat sow each year. The objective is that companies that invest in seed improvement can recover their costs and bet on greater technology.
Currently, according to regulations in force since 1973agricultural producers sow soybeans and wheat and are not required to pay for the seedsBecause These are crops that can be replanted with grains that were previously harvested. In the future, on the other hand, there would be an obligation to pay for what is sown in each hectare, even for the so-called own use, such as replanting with the fruit of one’s own harvest.
The proposal was raised by Domínguez in a meeting with representatives of the seed industry that took place this Tuesday, with the intention of advancing in a new legal scheme. The Secretary of Agriculture, Livestock and Fisheries also participated, Matthias Lestani, and the president of the National Seed Institute (Inase), Obdulio San Martin, among other national officials.
It is worth noting that approximately 35% of the soybean market in Argentina is made up of legal and supervised seeds, while for example in Brazil, that percentage reaches 70%, in the United States, 95%, and in Uruguay, 100%.
One of the Government’s arguments is that Argentina is losing competitiveness and yield in crop production since companies do not invest or generate the necessary technology that could increase the productivity of the agro-industrial sector.
In that sense, Antonio Aracre, CEO of Syngenta, was one of the executives who participated in the meeting at the Ministry of Agriculture and who showed his satisfaction with the possible measure.
“Eager to listen to Minister Julián Domínguez and waiting for what may be the most important and disruptive announcement of the last 20 years for the future of agriculture in Argentina,” he wrote on his personal Twitter account.
The actual Seed Law It was created almost 50 years ago, when the national production conditions were totally different from today. In this sense, the head of the agricultural portfolio referred on several occasions to a modification and update of the regulations that allow the Argentine producer “to catch up with the countries of the region.”
However, to achieve it, it must have the approval of Congress and, given the impossibility of doing so, the ruling party seeks to reach an agreement with the companies to promote the collection of royalties from farmers.
Editor's Note: Royalty collection comes to Argentina.
USDA release
While in recent decades public agricultural research and development (R&D) funding in the United States has trended downward, several other major trading partners have increased their funding.
The European Union's expenditures have grown since 2000, as have the expenditures in India and Brazil. However, none experienced as rapid an increase as China, which became the largest funder of agricultural R&D after 2011, surpassing the European Union. By 2015, the last year for which the USDA, Economic Research Service has full data, China was spending more than $10 billion annually on agricultural R&D.
That level of spending was roughly twice the U.S. expenditures in 2015 and nearly quintuple that of China's own R&D spending in 2000. With China as a major importer of U.S. agricultural goods and Brazil a competitor to the U.S. in the global corn and soybean markets, these developments could have an impact on U.S. export competitiveness.
For all countries in the figure, R&D expenditures are expressed as purchasing power parity (PPP) dollars at constant 2015 prices.
This chart appears in the ERS's Amber Waves article, "Investment in U.S. Public Agricultural Research and Development Has Fallen by a Third Over Past Two Decades, Lags Behind Major Trade Competitors," published June 2022.
Editor's Note: Though it may be troubling to see China outspending the U.S. in agricultural research keep in mind this graph represents "public" funding. With a centralized government in charge of virtually everything in China it would be difficult to imagine significant amounts of funding coming from sources other than government or government-sanctioned (backed) sources. We don't frankly know if China is truly outspending other strong agricultural countries as private investment is not included in this information.
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