CFTC charges Corzine in settlement: Following a lengthy investigation into the $1 billion MF Global scandal, the Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC) announced June 27 that it had reached a settlement of charges with the defunct trading house and that it had filed charges against former chief executive officer Jon Corzine and former assistant treasurer Edith O'Brien. If approved by the U.S. district and bankruptcy courts, the proposed settlement will require 100% restitution of all remaining commodity customer claims as well as imposition of a $100 million penalty, paid to the extent that MF Global has not fully exhausted all available funds and assets paying customers and other creditors entitled to priority under bankruptcy law. The CFTC enforcement action also seeks full restitution and penalties, in addition to trading and registration bans and injunctions, against Corzine and O'Brien.
Senate plans hearing on Smithfield deal: Following up on concerns expressed in a letter by many in the Senate Agriculture Committee regarding the proposed purchase of Smithfield Foods, the committee will hold a hearing on July 10. The hearing will examine Shuanghui International's proposal to purchase Smithfield, the largest acquisition of an American company by a Chinese company in history. The hearing will also more broadly examine how the government review process of foreign entity acquisitions of U.S. companies addresses U.S. food safety, protection of U.S. technologies and intellectual property and the effects of increased foreign ownership of the U.S. food supply. A bipartisan group of Senate Agriculture Committee members urged Treasury Secretary Jacob Lew to include both the U.S. Department of Agriculture and Food & Drug Administration in the government review of the Smithfield purchase so that the oversight process includes experts on the U.S. food supply and food safety. Smithfield chief executive officer Larry Pope will be among the witnesses testifying.
Supreme Court won't hear E15 case: On June 24 the Supreme Court declined to hear Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers vs. EPA, a case brought by a coalition of automobile manufacturers and fuel companies that sought to limit the use of E15, a 15% ethanol blend, in the fuel supply. The groups challenged a partial Environmental Protection Agency waiver that allowed E15 to be used in certain cars and trucks. By declining to hear the case, the Supreme Court let stand a circuit court's decision that the trade associations lacked standing to challenge EPA's approval of E15. "Now that the final word has been issued, I hope that oil companies will begin to work with biofuel producers to help bring new blends into the marketplace that allow for consumer choice and savings," said Tom Buis, president and chief executive officer of the renewable fuels lobbying group Growth Energy.
ADM in talks to sell cocoa business: In a June 20 statement, Archer Daniels Midland (ADM) announced that it was exploring options to sell its cocoa business, perhaps further illustrating a desire to consolidate its operations to more tightly focus on grains and oilseeds. Published reports gauge the value of ADM Cocoa at roughly $2 billion, and the company controls an estimated 20% of the global cocoa trade. "Consistent with our commitment to create shareholder value, we regularly evaluate strategic options and maintain ongoing dialogue with other agribusiness companies to explore opportunities," ADM said in a statement. "These discussions are ongoing, and there can be no assurance that they will result in the signing of a transaction or definitive agreement." Cocoa accounts for roughly 4% of ADM's net sales and nearly 7% of its operating profits. However, the cocoa unit posted a $22 million operating loss in the first quarter, compared with profit of $159 million in 2012.
USAPEEC president: Charles von der Heyde, president of Pilgrim's Pride Corp. operations in Mexico, has been elected chair of the USA Poultry & Egg Export Council (USAPEEC), succeeding Chaz Wilson, vice president at Grove Services in Atlanta, Ga., according to an announcement. Also elected were Mike Little, director of export sales at Mountaire Farms in Selbyville, Del., as first vice chair and Jim Wayt of Inversion Foods in Atlanta as second vice chair. Joel Coleman, vice president and general manager for international sales at Butterball LLC in Mt. Olive, N.C., was re-elected secretary-treasurer. USAPEEC promotes U.S. chicken, duck, turkey and egg product exports around the world.
AVMA ad: The American Veterinary Medical Assn. (AVMA) released an advertisement in movie theaters in select cities across the country to promote veterinary medicine during AVMA's 150th anniversary celebration. "The goal of the ad is to promote the veterinary profession to the public and to highlight the many other things veterinarians do beyond treating pet cats and dogs," AVMA president Dr. Douglas G. Aspros explained. "We hope that this will help boost public awareness of the important role veterinarians fill in our society and across the globe." The ad will run before movie previews during the pre-trailer ads in 160 theaters and 2,760 screens across the U.S. to an estimated viewing audience of 3.2 million people. More information is at www.avma.org/News/PressRoom/Pages/Movie-ad-150th-anniversary.aspx.
Organic selenium: Biorigin announced that its Selemax organic selenium has been approved by the European Food Safety Authority and can be sold in the European market as a nutritional additive for all animal species, with no limitations regarding age or period of administration. Selemax is a selenium source in the form of organic compounds produced from a Saccharomyces cerevisiae-type yeast enriched with selenium. It is available in concentrations of 1,000 and 2,000 parts per million.
Organic scours: ImmuCell Corp. announced that First Defense, a U.S. Department of Agriculture-approved scours preventative for newborn dairy and beef calves, has been reviewed by the Organic Materials Review Institute and now may be used in certified organic production. For several years, the product has been available for conventional production as a bolus that is created from hyper-immunized bovine colostrum containing highly specific antibodies, which work to reduce scours outbreaks by preventing Escherichia coli and coronavirus infections.
Tilapia feed: Nutreco announced June 21 that it has completed a previously announced acquisition of the remaining 67% of shares held by its partners in Hendrix Misr in Egypt. Nutreco entered the Egyptian market in 2001 by acquiring 33% of Hendrix Misr, which has grown successfully since then. According to the announcement, full ownership of Hendrix Misr offers Nutreco a good base from which to expand its activities in this growth market. Hendrix Misr is Egypt's market leader in extruded fish feed — mainly for tilapia — that's sold under the Skretting trade name and is a leading producer of poultry feed concentrates.
Feed schemes: Representatives of the feed industry have created an international platform of cooperation called the Feed Schemes Observatory to improve transparency and comparison at all stages of the global feed chain. Its first undertaking will be the Feed Benchmark Project, which aims to create a benchmarking system for schemes operating in the feed sector as well as to build a bridge of communication among the value chain and regulators. The project's objectives are: to create an independent, transparent and impartial benchmarking system for the global feed chain, to improve the comparability of the main principles and requirements that concern feed safety assurance schemes, to reduce technical barriers to trade in the feed chain, to transfer knowledge and capacity building and to raise awareness of the importance of auditing and certification for safety in the feed sector. The project was developed in cooperation with: Agricultural Industries Confederation, Brazilian Feed Industry Assn. (Sindiracoes), DSM, Evonik Industries, FAMI-QS, FEFANA, GMP+ International, China's HSL Certification Service, International Trade Centre, Nutreco and SGS Nederland B.V. More information and updates on the project will be provided at www.feed-benchmark.org.