Livestock disaster aid signup: Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack said the U.S. Department of Agriculture plans to roll out the livestock and disaster assistance programs reauthorized in the 2014 farm bill in the next 60 days. Vilsack said it normally takes six to eight months to finalize signups after a new farm bill passes, but the Administration plans to make the assistance a priority. "By April 15, farmers and producers would be able to make applications for assistance and get checks shortly thereafter," he said. Producers will be able to sign up for livestock disaster programs to cover losses not only for 2014 but for 2012 and 2013 as well (the 2008 farm bill provided funding only until 2011). The Livestock Indemnity Program offers assistance to producers who experienced livestock deaths in excess caused by adverse weather. The Livestock Forage Disaster Program helps producers get forage and feed from other sources and or helps with transportation expenses. Vilsack anticipates that once filed and distributed, nearly $1 billion will be paid out to producers across the country. California, which is experiencing historic drought conditions, potentially could receive up to $100 million for 2014 losses and up to $50 million for previous years.
Brief filed in Chesapeake Bay suit: A bipartisan group of 21 attorneys general from across the country filed a brief in the ongoing legal challenge brought by a coalition of agricultural groups to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's Chesapeake Bay total maximum daily load (TMDL) regulation. The regulation sets the TMDL — the amount of pollutants, including otherwise unregulated farm and agricultural stormwater runoff — that the bay can receive and still meet federal water quality standards. EPA is forcing states to meet the standards, threatening the loss of federal financial assistance, among other penalties, to address pollution in the Chesapeake Bay. In its pending lawsuit before the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit in Philadelphia, Pa., the coalition argues that: the Clean Water Act does not authorize EPA to set standards for states, the agency's action is a violation of long-established federalism principles, the regulation is arbitrary and capricious and the TMDL is based on flawed computer modeling. The agricultural groups fear that the Chesapeake Bay TMDL program will be used as a model for regulating other waterways, including the Mississippi River, and could be used to limit the size of farms, force more burdensome and unnecessary regulations on farmers and restrict the application of manure to cropland. The coalition said such a "pollution diet" will cost taxpayers and farmers billions of dollars by the time it is fully implemented in 2025.
CHS to invest in refined fuel network: Farmer-owned cooperative CHS Inc. recently announced that it will invest an additional $20 million in 2014 to strengthen its refined fuel supply's dependability and flexibility for its customer network. Projects include the final phase of an ongoing replacement of the company's refined fuels pipeline between Billings and Glendive, Mont., and a new pipeline connection at Council Bluffs, Iowa. "These 2014 projects bring to more than $55 million the CHS investment over the past three years in our North Central U.S. supply and distribution infrastructure to help our owners capture growth in diesel and other refined fuels," said Jay Debertin, CHS executive vice president and chief operating officer, energy and foods. The recently completed Council Bluffs project connects the National Cooperative Refinery Assn.'s (NRCA) pipeline system, which runs between McPherson, Kan., and Council Bluffs, to the NuStar pipeline that serves much of eastern South Dakota and southeastern North Dakota. Debertin said the connection improves CHS's ability to utilize NuStar terminals in Jamestown, N.D., and Aberdeen, S.D., to serve refined fuel customers. CHS owns 84% of NCRA and will become its sole owner in September 2015.
Grazing act: The House approved the Grazing Improvement Act by a vote of 220-194 as part of a larger package, the Public Access & Land Improvement Act. The bill will improve the livestock grazing permitting process on lands managed by the Bureau of Land Management and U.S. Forest Service. The bill also provides security for livestock producers who operate on public lands while the bureau and forest service work through a backlog of permit renewals and environmental analyses. It increases the term of grazing permits from 10 to 20 years. The bill includes two amendments supported by the industry. The first allows the interior or agriculture secretary to consolidate environmental reviews while clarifying the definition of current grazing management and ensuring a timely response for temporary trailing and crossing applications. The second amendment requires the non-prevailing, not-directly affected party in a challenge to the secretary's final grazing decision to pay the directly affected prevailing party's incurred fees and expenses and clarifies the definition of a directly affected party.
Paul Bartlett Jr.: Paul Bartlett Jr., former chairman of Bartlett & Co., died Feb. 8 at age 94. Bartlett & Co. was founded in 1907 by his father Paul Bartlett Sr., but it was Paul Bartlett Jr. who turned it into one of the largest grain merchandising and storage companies in the U.S. After World War II, he joined his father's company, which was known as Hart Bartlett & Sturtevant. The company took its current name in 1954. Bartlett began serving in leadership roles at the company in the late 1950s, becoming chairman of the board in 1987. The company's activities include grain merchandising, exporting, country elevators, terminal elevators, flour milling, feed manufacturing and cattle feeding.
New indications: Merck Animal Health reported that beef and dairy producers now have the flexibility to vaccinate pregnant cows and calves nursing pregnant cows against bovine reproductive and respiratory diseases with its Vista modified-live virus (MLV) vaccine product line. Approved by the U.S. Department of Agriculture, the new indication includes the following label additions:
* Cows or heifers being vaccinated should be vaccinated prior to breeding, within the previous 12 months, with any of the vaccines in this product line.
* Fetal health risks associated with vaccination of a pregnant animal with MLV vaccines cannot be unequivocally determined by clinical trials conducted for licensure.
* Management strategies based on vaccination of pregnant animals with MLV vaccines should always be discussed with a veterinarian.
Edible oils: Cargill announced last week that it has signed an agreement with Dalmia Continental Pvt. Ltd. in India to acquire its Leonardo Olive Oil business. Leonardo, a leading brand in the olive oil segment, is a pioneer in establishing the use of olive oil in India. Cargill has a strong presence in the olive oil segment worldwide, and this acquisition will create a unique opportunity for Cargill to participate and create value in this nascent and high-growth category in India. The acquisition helps Cargill consolidate its position in the premium oils segment. The olive oil market in India has grown rapidly in the last decade, from 1,000 tons in 2003 to 12,000 tons in 2013, according to the Indian Olive Assn.
Explosion in China: At least nine people were injured in an explosion at a corn processing plant in northeast China's Heilongjiang province, local authorities said. The explosion occurred last Wednesday morning at the Heilongjiang Longfeng Corn Development Co. Ltd. in Qinggang county, the county's publicity department said in a statement. An investigation into the cause of the explosion is under way. The company, a leading agricultural products processor, has an annual corn processing capacity of more than 1 million tons.
Corn mill: Bunge North America, the North American operating arm of Bunge Ltd., announced that it has purchased the assets of Corn Flour Producers LLC. Financial terms of the acquisition have not been released. Corn Flour Producers operates one plant in Worthington, Ind., and mills a wide variety of premium corn masa flours used in the production of tortillas and corn chips. The plant can produce nearly 32,000 metric tons of corn masa flour annually. "With this purchase, Bunge enters an attractive growth market that enables us to offer a broader product portfolio to our customers," Bunge Milling general manager Wade Ellis said. "We will be able to develop new products and innovations to meet customer and consumer demands while adding complementary production capabilities to our current U.S. corn dry milling and rice milling operations." Bunge expects to retain a majority of the employees currently working at the plant.
Camfil buys Handte: Camfil Air Pollution Control (APC) announced that its parent company, Camfil of Stockholm, Sweden, has signed an agreement to acquire 100% of Handte Umwelttechnik GmbH in Germany and Handte's operations in Switzerland, the Czech Republic and China. Handte is the leading German manufacturer and provider of environmental engineering products, filter technology processes and air pollution control applications. With more than 120 years of experience, the company specializes in exhaust air purification for a wide range of manufacturing industries. The acquisition, pending approval from authorities in Germany, is expected to close in the first quarter of this year. Handte will be part of the Camfil APC business unit, which specializes in industrial dust and fume collection equipment.