Senate approves PNTR with Russia: Last Thursday, the Senate approved legislation granting Russia permanent normal trade relations (PNTR) status, which provides a more level playing field for U.S. exporters and also offers an avenue to resolve trade disputes. In July, the Senate Finance Committee and House Ways & Means Committee passed legislation granting PNTR status to Russia. The full House passed the legislation in November on a 365-43 vote. The Senate passed it on a 92-4 vote. The bill now heads to the President's desk for his signature.
U.S. trade mission to Russia: U.S. Department of Agriculture Foreign Agricultural Service undersecretary Michael Scuse led a mission Dec. 3-7 to promote U.S. agricultural exports to Russia. Representatives from Idaho, Missouri, North Dakota, Oklahoma and Kansas and 23 U.S. companies attended. With its recent World Trade Organization accession and rapidly expanding economy, Russia is an important market for U.S. agricultural products. Two-way agricultural trade between the U.S. and Russia was valued at roughly $1.5 billion in fiscal 2012, with U.S. farm exports accounting for 97% of the total. Sen. Chuck Grassley (R., Iowa) urged USDA to focus on lowering Russian barriers to U.S. agricultural products, including beef, pork and poultry. As Congress grants Russia permanent normal trade relations status, the Obama Administration needs to keep the pressure on Russia to eliminate safety standards not supported by sound science, Grassley said.
Masterfeeds, Ridley combination: Masterfeeds Inc. and Ridley Inc. announced Dec. 2 the successful completion of the merger of their respective commercial livestock and poultry feed and nutrition businesses in Canada into a new entity called Masterfeeds LP. The merger agreement, previously announced on Oct. 18, was subject to the execution of definitive agreements and normal conditions, including regulatory approvals, which were completed. The merger joins Ridley's Feed-Rite brand with Masterfeeds to create the second-largest feed provider in Canada that operates, among other things, 22 feed manufacturing plants and employs more than 500 people in a business spanning across Quebec, Ontario and the prairie provinces, the announcement said. Rob Flack, president and chief executive officer of Masterfeeds Inc., was named CEO of Masterfeeds LP, which will have headquarters in London, Ont.
USDA requiring HACCP reassessments: The U.S. Department of Agriculture's Food Safety & Inspection Service (FSIS) announced that it is requiring companies that produce raw ground chicken and turkey, including mechanically deboned and mechanically separated poultry products, to reassess their hazard analysis and critical control point (HACCP) plans. FSIS said the reassessments must be completed in the next 90 days and "must account for the circumstances" involved in recent salmonella outbreaks associated with the specified products. The notice was published in the Dec. 6 Federal Register and is also available at www.fsis.usda.gov/regulations_%26_policies/federal_register_publications_%26_related_documents/index.asp. Comments may be submitted to www.regulations.gov.
Nutreco's Hungarian business sold: Nutreco announced Dec. 5 that it has completed the sale of its Trouw Nutrition Korney Kft business in Hungary to Nuscience Group (Feedstuffs, Oct. 22). Nutreco said the transaction depended on gaining regulatory approval from the Hungarian competition authority, which was granted on Nov. 26, so the official change of ownership took place on Dec. 3.
Smithfield stock: Smithfield Foods Inc. has purchased all 7 million of the company's shares that were held by COFCO, the largest agricultural processing and trading firm in China, for $21.12 per share, or $148 million, pursuant to a previously reported share repurchase program. Smithfield chief executive officer and president C. Larry Pope said the company foresees "many future business opportunities" in China and plans to maintain "a strong relationship" with COFCO. He noted that China is the largest pork-consuming nation in the world and an important pork export market for Smithfield.
Yum! stock: Yum! Brands Inc. reported that its board of directors has authorized a share repurchase of up to $1 billion of common stock through May 21, 2014, to increase shareholder value. The company noted that it has repurchased $815 million of stock this year. Yum! is the largest restaurant system in the world by store count, operating 38,000 KFC, Pizza Hut and Taco Bell restaurants in 120 countries, with sales exceeding $12 billion.
Fonterra fund: Chinese sovereign-wealth fund China Investment Corp. is talking with Fonterra Co-operative Group about investing in a fund that the New Zealand dairy organization recently created, according to reports. The fund will allow investors to buy non-voting units in the cooperative and collect dividends and gains on earnings, with no single investor permitted to hold more than 15% of the fund, the reports said. Fonterra is owned by 10,500 dairy farmers and is the largest dairy exporter in the world.
Enrofloxacin injectable: Bayer Animal Health announced that the Food & Drug Administration has approved its Baytril 100 (enrofloxacin) Injectable for control of all four major causal pathogens of bovine respiratory disease (BRD). With the approval from FDA, Bayer said the product is the first fluoroquinolone approved for the treatment of BRD and control of BRD in high-risk cattle, providing flexibility in protocols for the treatment of BRD associated with Mannheimia haemolytica, Pasteurella multocida, Histophilus somni and Mycoplasma bovis in beef and non-lactating dairy cattle and for the control of BRD in beef and non-lactating dairy heifers under 20 months of age at high risk of developing BRD associated with M. haemolytica, P. multocida, H. somni and M. bovis.
Monitoring system: SCR Dairy Inc. announced a new partnership with Select Sires Inc. to market SCR's Heatime systems for health monitoring and heat detection, giving dairy producers more options to access herd monitoring data for improved health and reproduction management. The technology monitors each individual cow's activity level and intensity and rumination behavior 24 hours a day. Heatime systems will continue to be available from Semex USA and Micro Dairy Logic through their respective field representatives.