House passes FUELS Act again: The full House passed the Farmers Undertake Environmental Land Stewardship (FUELS) Act by a unanimous vote. The FUELS Act, which has passed three times in the House, modifies the Environmental Protection Agency's Spill Prevention, Control & Countermeasure (SPCC) rule for oil storage facilities. The current SPCC rule requires tanks exceeding 1,320 gal. to have containment structures preventing oil spills, but the FUELS Act would extend that limit to 10,000 gal. Bill sponsor Rep. Rick Crawford (R., Ark.) explained, "It revises the SPCC regulations to be reflective of producers' spill risk and their financial resources." Nationwide, the legislation could keep producers of small operations from paying $3.36 billion in unnecessary expenses, Crawford said. The bill now travels to the Senate, which has failed to pass it twice. Crawford requested immediate action from his fellow legislators in the Senate.
Duplicative regulations bill advances: During a business meeting March 13, the House Agriculture Committee approved by a voice vote the Reducing Regulatory Burdens Act, which helps protect more than 350,000 U.S. pesticide users. The bill addresses a flawed 2009 circuit court decision that required pesticide users to obtain a permit under the Clean Water Act or pay a costly fine. Pesticides have long been regulated under the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide & Rodenticide Act. The 2009 decision, however, made users subject to duplicative regulations and permitting under the Clean Water Act's National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) as well. The Environmental Protection Agency has indicated that the NPDES extension would provide negligible environmental benefits. "Duplicative regulations don't make anyone safer. They just make life a little harder for those of us who are trying to keep weeds and pests away from our families and food supply," said Perry Hofer with Doland Aerial Spraying in Doland, S.D., and a representative of the National Agriculture Aviation Assn.
Checks completed in Rancho recall: The U.S. Department of Agriculture's Food Safety & Inspection Service (FSIS) announced last week that it has completed all of the checks in the Rancho Feeding Corp. beef recall, and no further additions will be made to the distribution list. The beef was sent to distribution centers to be manufactured into smaller cuts, and products were sent to establishments nationwide. In February, nearly 9 million lb. of beef processed at Rancho's plant in Petaluma, Cal., were recalled. According to the FSIS notice, the plant processed diseased and unsound animals and carried out the activities without full federal inspections. In the March 20 update, FSIS said personnel were present at the Rancho plant during normal operations, and the agency has not received any reports of illness from consumption of these products. In addition, USDA's Office of the Inspector General is conducting an investigation into the activities of the facility, but no further information has been released.
Ethanol groups challenge LCFS: Following the Ninth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals' January decision to deny a rehearing en banc in the litigation regarding California's Low Carbon Fuel Standard (LCFS), the Renewable Fuels Assn. (RFA) and Growth Energy are petitioning the U.S. Supreme Court for certiorari to make a final determination relating to the LCFS. RFA and Growth Energy moved forward with a Supreme Court challenge after a divided panel of the ninth circuit reversed a district court finding that the California LCFS discriminates against interstate commerce and constitutes extraterritorial regulation in violation of the Commerce Clause. By its own admission, California's LCFS seeks to regulate greenhouse gas emissions occurring in states other than California by rewarding and punishing industrial and agricultural activity taking place outside California. Also, it bases the size of these rewards and penalties on whether production took place in California or in the Midwest, systematically favoring California, the groups stated. The Constitution denies states such authority, they noted.
Correction: In the article "Outlet for Biotech Grain Created" in the March 3 issue of Feedstuffs, it was inadvertently stated that China had rejected shipments of dried distillers grains plus solubles because traces of the trait Agrisure Duracade were found. Instead, shipments were rejected because traces of the trait Agrisure Viptera were found. We apologize for this error.
BASF citral plant: After a technical equipment failure caused a fire March 12 at BASF's citral plant in Ludwigshafen, Germany, the company had to shut down the plant and declare "force majeure" on citral-based aroma chemicals as well as vitamin A and vitamin E products for human and animal nutrition. Force majeure is a common clause in contracts that essentially frees both parties from liability or obligation when an extraordinary event or circumstance prevents one or both parties from fulfilling their obligations under the contract. Based on its current best technical estimation, BASF said the force majeure event will lead to a four-week-long shutdown period. It noted that the resulting effects for customers are currently being evaluated. Meanwhile, BASF is implementing measures to limit the consequences of the situation. To the extent that BASF has products available in stock, it will supply customers on a pro rata basis. It emphasized that the force majeure situation is not related to any product safety or quality issues.
Retail assets: CHS Inc. has agreed to acquire selected Canadian retail assets from Crop Production Services (Canada) Inc., a wholly owned subsidiary of Agrium Inc., which is a major retail supplier of agricultural products and services in North America, South America and Australia. Under the agreement, 16 retail agronomy locations in Alberta and Saskatchewan will become part of the Country Operations division of CHS. The transaction is expected to be completed on or about April 1. Financial terms were not disclosed. The newly acquired business will be able to take advantage of a new 42,000-ton fertilizer plant outside Shelby, Mont. In its final stages of construction, the facility, with 110-car shuttle loader access to the BNSF rail line, is expected to open for the spring 2014 season.
Agrium expands: Agrium Inc. announced that it will be expanding its nitrogen facility in Borger, Texas. The project will add a new urea production unit of roughly 610,000 tons, about 100,000 tons (urea ton equivalent) of which will be diesel exhaust fluid that is used to reduce nitrogen oxide emissions in diesel vehicles. This product will help diversify the company's end markets. The project will also increase the facility's annual ammonia capacity by 145,000 tons, bringing the total annual gross ammonia capacity to around 635,000 tons. The total capital cost of the project is estimated at $720 million. Construction is expected to be completed in the second half of 2015.
Two-dose protocol: Zoetis is giving swine veterinarians and pork producers another on-label vaccination option by making RespiSure-ONE available for a two-dose protocol. With the new label indication, RespiSure-ONE can be administered intramuscularly with a 1 mL injection at processing and a second 1 mL injection at weaning. This vaccination option is in addition to the previously approved single-dose 2 mL injection at processing. RespiSure-ONE is licensed for the vaccination of healthy swine one day of age or older as an aid in reducing chronic pneumonia caused by Mycoplasma hyopneumoniae, a common bacterial pathogen that infects up to 80% of swine around the world. It can reduce average daily gain and decrease feed efficiency. The bacteria typically transfers from sow to piglet during lactation as well as from older to younger pigs.
Encapsulated niacin: Vertellus announced its new NiaPro Encapsulated Niacin, an encapsulated feed additive form of niacin formulated to control early digestion in the rumen and deliver an effective dose of niacin to the intestines. Vertellus said the coating is durable but digestible and breaks down fully in the intestines. Niacin has been shown to benefit cows in lactation, especially those in the transition period and in heat stress situations.