Brazil pork sector seeks temporary ban: In a step to protect against porcine epidemic diarrhea virus (PEDV), Brazil's pork industry asked the Ministry of Agriculture to temporarily suspend imports of live breeding pigs, genetic material and plasma of pigs from the U.S., according to local media outlets. "We ordered the temporary suspension (of imports) until all doubts are clarified. A preventive measure to protect the (pig) sector is involved," said Rui Vargas, vice president for the pork segment of the Brazilian Association Animal Protein (ABPA). Recently, the Ministry of Agriculture and Embrapa met with members of the supply chain to discuss the issue. A committee will be formed under their leadership to suggest biosecurity practices and develop a contingency plan in case the disease arrives in Brazil. ABPA raised the concern after PEDV emerged in the Dominican Republic, Colombia and Peru, according to professor Roberto Guedes with the Federal University of Minas Gerais. He explained that PEDV transmission does not follow territorial logic, making it difficult to understand how the virus is introduced in a country and, thus, how to fight it.
Northern Beef plant has new owners: White Oak Global Advisors LLC announced last week that New Angus, its new limited liability corporation, has purchased the Northern Beef Packers facility in Aberdeen, S.D. The Aberdeen plant closed last year due to financial difficulties. According to a company statement, the purchase of the plant releases Northern Beef Packers from its Chapter 11 bankruptcy proceedings, "providing the plant an opportunity to move forward unimpeded by its previous financial obstacles." White Oak is currently undecided on if it will reopen the beef processing plant. In a statement, White Oak said it is evaluating options but "remains confident in the facility's future as an operating plant."
AMI votes to proceed with NAMA merger: The American Meat Institute (AMI) board of directors voted to proceed with a merger with the North American Meat Assn. (NAMA). The vote is the second of three steps necessary to finalize a merger that would occur on Jan. 1, 2015, if approved. NAMA's board already voted March 22 to proceed with the merger. Later this month, AMI's general members will hold a vote. If they vote to proceed, a transition committee drawn from both associations will be established to map a plan to merge their operations by the end of 2014. "The board's vote to proceed with a merger is a positive development," said AMI chairman Greg Benedict, who serves on the merger committee. "We look forward to our general member vote in the coming weeks."
UP begins rail improvement projects: The Union Pacific Railroad (UP) recently announced that it has begun construction efforts to improve its rail lines. The company is investing nearly $4.5 million in the rail line between Omaha, Neb., and Missouri Valley, Iowa. The project kicked off March 5 and is scheduled to be completed by the end of May. On March 18, UP also began improvements to Missouri's transportation infrastructure, investing nearly $11.8 million in the rail line between Kansas City and Marshall, Mo. The project is scheduled to be completed by June 2. These are just two of the nearly 1,500 projects UP will complete across its 32,000-mile network this year to help improve train operating efficiency, reduce motorist waiting times at crossings and enhance safety.
Scott Hurd: Dr. Scott Hurd, associate professor and director of the Food Risk Modeling & Policy Laboratory at Iowa State University's College of Veterinary Medicine, has died. Hurd was well known and held in high regard for his expertise in livestock industry issues, particularly those related to risk assessment, antibiotic resistance, epidemiology, bovine spongiform encephalopathy and salmonella control in food animals. Hurd served as deputy undersecretary for food safety at the U.S. Department of Agriculture in 2008, and in this position, he directed all federal meat and poultry inspection. He also served as director of the World Health Organization Collaborating Center. He had been with Iowa State University since 2004. Hurd received his Ph.D. in epidemiology and economics from Michigan State University in 1990, a doctor of veterinary medicine from Iowa State 1982 and a bachelor of science in biology from Virginia Tech in 1978.
Wind energy, biodiesel incentives extended: The Senate Finance Committee passed a tax extenders package out of committee April 3 that renews the expired wind energy tax provisions and reinstates a tax incentive for the production of domestic biodiesel. The tax bill extends for two years, through 2015, the $1/gal. tax credit for biodiesel and diesel fuel created from biomass as well as the 10 cents/gal. small agri-biodiesel producer credit. The bill extends through 2015 a production tax credit of $1.01/gal. for facilities producing cellulosic biofuel. The wind energy provisions reflect the law before it lapsed and extend the wind provisions for two years.
JBS bonds: JBS S.A. raised $750 million from overseas bonds issued to pay short-term debts, the Wall Street Journal reported. The bonds carry an annual coupon of 7.25% and reach a demand of six times the total offer; they mature in 2024.
Grain storage: Ceres Global Ag Corp. announced on March 31 that Riverland Ag Corp., its 100%-owned subsidiary, has entered into an agreement to sell its Savage, Minn., grain storage facility to Consolidated Grain & Barge Co. (CGB). The transaction is expected to close by the end of June. The sale is another milestone in transforming the Riverland operations and funding the construction of the Northgate Commodity Logistics Hub in Saskatchewan. Gross proceeds from the Savage facility sale will be $17.8 million. Under the terms of the transaction, Ceres, through Riverland, will lease back 3.5 million bu. of the Savage facility's storage capacity from CGB for a six-year term.
Canadian rail: Canadian National Railway Co. (CN) said it spotted 5,102 hopper cars for loading at country grain elevators in western Canada during the previous week, marking the fourth week in a row that CN delivered in excess of 4,000 grain cars to elevators in the prairie provinces. The railroad averaged 4,550 cars per week, or 21% greater than CN's average March performance for the last decade. "We are continuing to make significant progress toward our goal of transporting close to 5,500 grain cars per week to meet the Canadian government's order in council of March 7, 2014," CN president and chief executive officer Claude Mongeau said in reference to a shortage of railcars to transport grain after harsh winter weather reduced rail capacity.
Euthanasia guidelines: The American Association of Bovine Practitioners (AABP) is offering its members, other beef and dairy veterinarians and livestock producers "Practical Euthanasia of Cattle" guidelines. These guidelines are intended to aid caretakers, animal owners, livestock market operators, animal transporters and veterinarians in choosing effective euthanasia methods. The guidelines, which were posted on AABP's website in September 2013, have recently been translated into Spanish. Both versions can be found at http://aabp.org/about/AABP_Guidelines.asp. Both the English and Spanish versions are in accordance with euthanasia recommendations from the American Veterinary Medical Assn. The AABP guidelines include information on human safety, animal welfare, restraint, practicality, skill, cost, aesthetics, diagnostics and carcass disposal.