Senate approves NBAF funding: The Senate Appropriations Committee approved the Homeland Security Fiscal Year 2014 Appropriations Bill, which includes $404 million for construction of the National Bio & Agro-Defense Facility (NBAF), an amount equal to appropriations language approved in the House and a critical step forward for the lab that's under construction in Manhattan, Kan. "Not only is this $404 million a significant investment in the project; it is also proof that the appropriators agree with the House and the Administration that this effort is a national security priority," Sen. Pat Roberts (R., Kan.) said. Sen. Jerry Moran (R., Kan.) added, "NBAF is critical to our national security in protecting our agriculture, economy and citizens from biological and zoonotic threats, and I'm pleased we've prioritized this investment." Roberts and Moran noted in a statement that the main laboratory at NBAF will boast safety and security features recommended by the National Academies of Sciences. It will include specialized air and water decontamination systems, new technologies for handling solid waste on site and structural components to strengthen the lab against hazardous weather conditions. A funding commitment was also made to provide infrastructure repairs at the Plum Island Animal Disease Center to guarantee a smooth transition of research from Plum Island, N.Y., to the new site in Kansas. The committee bill now awaits passage by the full Senate.
FDA asked to clarify ingredient definition: The feed and pet food industry is urging members of Congress to sign onto a letter to the Food & Drug Administration asking the agency to resolve an issue emanating from the Food & Drug Administration Act Amendments of 2007 (FDAAA). FDA's interchangeable uses of "definition" and "standards" with regard to the development of pet food ingredient standards is now being questioned. The Food, Drug & Cosmetic Act used only the term "definition"; the use of both terms in FDAAA has caused some at FDA to question the existing ingredient approval process used by FDA and the Center for Veterinary Medicine and may jeopardize FDA's 35-year formal relationship with the Association of American Feed Control Officials (AAFCO), which represents state feed regulators. For the feed industry, it could mean every new ingredient will have to go through a registration process in every state. It also is possible that FDA may no longer recognize all of the ingredients that currently have an AAFCO definition. "As these issues have been in regulatory limbo for so long, companies developing new animal feed and pet food ingredients are currently withholding their applications for approval until the system is certain. This loss of innovation hurts feed and pet food companies, farmers and ranchers and, ultimately, consumers," the industry noted.
Scoular acquires R.O. Mayes: The Scoular Co. announced last week its acquisition of the assets of R.O. Mayes Co. The acquisition includes a grain handling facility located in Petersburg, Va., approximately 25 miles south of Richmond, Va. Terms of the transaction were not announced. Scoular senior vice president John Messerich said the company will continue previous owner Mike Mayes' commitment to area farmers. "We're pleased to have Mike and his staff join Scoular and to continue the business that Mike's family has grown over the course of the past 60-plus years," Messerich said. Mayes will serve as general manager of the facility under Scoular's ownership. The newly acquired country elevator will be incorporated into Scoular's North American grain marketing network. Messerich said the Petersburg facility complements Scoular's grain handling business in Windsor, Va., which the company began operating in 2006. He added that Scoular plans to improve the Petersburg location over time to increase its handling capacity and market outlets.
LCFS ruling: California's Fifth District Court of Appeal issued its decision July 15 in POET LLC vs. California Air Resources Board (ARB), which challenged the board's adoption of the state's low-carbon fuel standard (LCFS). The court ruled for POET on every one of its substantive challenges, reversed the decision of the superior court affirming the LCFS and ordered that ARB's approval of the LCFS be set aside. The court also ruled that ARB must, among other things, re-evaluate the overall environmental impacts of the LCFS and allow for public comment on several controversial issues, including the carbon intensity values attributed to ethanol based on the theory of indirect land use change, which has been disputed and questioned by many in the scientific community. The court allowed ARB to continue to enforce the LCFS regulation for the time being but also prohibited the board from ramping up enforcement of the regulation beyond the current 2013 levels until it fully satisfies its legal obligations under the California Environmental Quality Act and the Administrative Procedures Act.
Feed roundtable: Kansas State University's International Grains Program announced that the Kansas State University Livestock Feed & Pet Food Safety Research Round Table will be held Aug. 13 for industry professionals interested in learning about the latest updates in feed safety research and regulations in the livestock feed and pet food arenas. Participants will have the opportunity to review feed safety research and play an active role in a strategic planning discussion to help shape the future direction of research in livestock feed and pet food safety at Kansas State. Register for this event at www.igpevents.grains.ksu.edu.
Gavilon buys elevators: Commodity trader and handler Gavilon Grain announced June 27 that it has acquired five grain elevators in the Rio Grande Valley of south Texas. The facilities, with a combined upright storage capacity of 5.4 million bu., will be used to store and handle corn, sorghum and soybeans sourced from farmers in the region. Cris Brown, Gavilon director for south Texas and Mexico, said the facilities will serve producers in three counties and will complement the firm's existing 15 facilities in Texas and Mexico, which primarily service feedlots and animal processors. The elevators, purchased from Willacy Co-op, are located in Harlingen, Progreso Lakes, Raymondville, Sebastian and San Perlita, Texas.
Clearing member: CHS Hedging Inc., the full-service commodity brokerage subsidiary of CHS Inc., announced that it has become a clearing member of the Chicago Mercantile Exchange (CME), trading legacy commodities under CME's Grain & Oilseed agricultural products group. Clearing members take full responsibility for all financial and performance obligations on behalf of their customer trading activity. CHS Hedging said its customers may notice minor changes in their day-to-day trading execution process, but the change to real-time reporting on most activities will be a significant benefit to those closely tracking the grain exchanges.
Sustainability protocol: The United Soybean Board announced the development of the U.S. Soybean Sustainability Assurance Protocol. This protocol identifies the regulations, processes and management practices the U.S. soybean industry uses to ensure international customers of U.S. farmers' sustainable soybean production. The protocol is a certified aggregate approach to the industry's sustainability performance. It outlines the soybean industry's expectations of sound environmental objectives, social responsibility, promotion of economic growth and continuous improvement in technology and cultural practices. Richard Fordyce, Missouri soybean farmer and chair of the Soybean Board's Freedom to Operate Action Team, said, "In the past, consumers and farmers have not always agreed on what it means to be sustainable. ... By introducing the U.S. Soybean Sustainability Assurance Protocol, we're showing farmer dedication to sustaining the natural resources and rural communities that are so important to everyone, and we're backing it up with third-party measurement and verification so our customers have confidence in U.S. soybeans." Educational materials on the protocol will be available this summer at www.unitedsoybean.org.
Ammonia issue: An agreement between the Occupational Safety & Health Administration (OSHA) and ConAgra Foods' Lamb Weston Inc. will lead to new controls to reduce hazards associated with refrigeration systems at five of the company's facilities. OSHA said the agreement includes plants in Idaho, Arkansas, Missouri and Ohio and relates to the release of anhydrous ammonia from low-pressure receivers (LPRs) at the facilities. "This agreement ensures that ConAgra will protect workers from releases of ammonia by enclosing older LPRs that were not already enclosed and by providing other controls such as normal and emergency ventilation to prevent exposure," assistant secretary of labor for occupational safety and health David Michaels said. OSHA originally cited ConAgra for failing to determine if older LPRs were being operated safely during an inspection at the company's facility in American Falls, Ida. ConAgra will now implement both administrative and engineering controls, including construction of the new enclosures and ventilation.
Training module: Merck Animal Health announced its new "Moving Cows to the Milking Parlor" training, the second module in the company's Dairy Care365 training series that's developed in partnership with the University of Minnesota College of Veterinary Medicine. It highlights the importance of low-stress handling of the herd as a husbandry and management practice and the value it can bring to the operation, including increased milk production, improved animal well-being and safer working conditions for employees. The training courses are offered in English and Spanish and take around 20-30 minutes to complete. At the end of the course, participants can take a short quiz to test their knowledge. Dairy managers also can use the results of the training to help identify areas in need of improvement and additional training. The first Dairy Care365 course was introduced last fall. Both courses are available free of charge on USB flash drive and CD by contacting a local Merck Animal Health representative or emailing [email protected].
Genomic test: Neogen Corp. announced the development of a new genomic test for the dairy cattle industry. Neogen's new Igenity Dairy Heifer Program reveals the genetic potential of replacement dairy heifers well before breeding. The test can be performed soon after a calf is born and can aid in the decision-making process for breeding and heifer selection. Neogen said results from the genomic test can deliver highly reliable genomic data on several different traits, including health traits such as net merit, pregnancy rate, productive life in months and somatic cell score and yield traits such as the animal's milk in fat pounds, fat percentage, protein pounds and protein percentage. The test contains information on more than 19,000 genetic markers.
Dry palatant: Kemin has introduced a new palatability enhancer, PALASURANCE SP Dog Dry-Granulated (SPDD-G), a chicken liver-based, dry palatant designed specifically for optimizing tablet hardness and friability during high-speed tableting, which is the most common process for manufacturing companion animal supplements. Active compounds included in supplements to target specific health conditions may have an objectionable flavor, and their physical characteristics may not be optimized for high-speed tableting, Kemin said. Most particles in PALASURANCE SPDD-G are within the optimal range for tableting performance of 400-800 microns. PALASURANCE SPDD-G is an alternative to beef liver and chicken liver powders, which are commonly used as palatants for companion animal supplements. Additionally, PALASURANCE SPDD-G is free of ruminant-derived ingredients, which allows companion animal supplement manufacturers to market their products worldwide.