Senator proposes Safe Meat & Poultry Act: Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D., N.Y.), chair of the Senate agriculture subcommittee on livestock, dairy, poultry, marketing and agriculture security, introduced the Safe Meat & Poultry Act Sept. 12 aimed to reduce the number of foodborne outbreaks and strengthen the country's agriculture and food industry by updating the nation's dated meat and poultry inspection and consumer notification system. Specifically, the legislation would: (1) create mandatory pathogen reduction performance standards and expand the authority of the U.S. Department of Agriculture to regulate new pathogens, (2) improve consumer notification for recalls of contaminated products, (3) provide whistleblower protection for government and private workers in the food industry to report public health issues, (4) provide enforcement penalties, including criminal penalties, for intentionally putting unsafe products in the marketplace and escalating enforcement action for repeat offenders, (5) safeguard borders from unsafe or adulterated foreign meat and poultry products by ensuring regular international audits by the Food Safety & Inspection Service, (6) increase the emphasis on prevention throughout the entire food safety system, including pathogens, chemical residues and potential contamination, and (7) improve consideration given to occupational health and safety to support a safe and sustainable environment in which wholesome products can be produced, inspected and passed.
OIG says USDA overpaid farmers $20m: In a recent audit, the U.S. Department of Agriculture reported a total of 239 high-dollar overpayments totaling approximately $20.3 million due to improved reporting oversight and processes. The Office of Inspector General (OIG) reviews USDA's quarterly high-dollar overpayment reports and makes recommendations, as necessary, to agency plans to recover and prevent high-dollar overpayments. The biggest overpayment was $14.65 million in federal premium subsidies on crop insurance paid to farmers. USDA also overpaid $2.79 million for farm security and rural investment assistance and $1.19 million for farm disaster payments. This year's $20.3 million is up 67% from last year's 143 high-dollar overpayments totaling about $11.7 million. OIG noted that it determined that the quarterly reports included errors and were published up to 102 days after the due date. This occurred because, although USDA chief financial officers certified that information was accurate and met applicable criteria, component agencies' submissions required substantive review by the Office of the Chief Financial Officer to ensure that USDA followed the high-dollar reporting guidance appropriately and that only payments that were supposed to be reported were included.
Missouri cattle rustling bill: On Sept. 11, Missouri's General Assembly overrode the governor's veto of legislation that toughens penalties for cattle rustling. The new language will make penalties for cattle rustling tougher by making the first offense a felony, in most cases. The bill will also fix the current animal abuse and neglect law, which allowed a farmer to receive a hefty fine or even imprisonment if his or her livestock got out of their confines. Missouri Cattlemen's Assn. president Chuck Massengill said this vote is a victory for more than 52,000 Missouri cattle farms and ranches. "Many farm family's will benefit from the passage of S.B. 9," he said. "This bill is a step in the right direction and will help producers protect their business and livelihood."
Palmer amaranth found in Ohio: The Ohio State University Extension Service reported that palmer amaranth is present in several fields and the grounds of a dairy southwest of Columbus, Ohio. As previously reported (Feedstuffs, Feb. 18, 2013), the noxious weed may have been introduced to the area from the South via cottonseed in feed rations and could have spread to fields through manure application. At this point, the palmer amaranth plants appear not to have formed mature seeds yet. In order to prevent the spread of this aggressive weed, farmers should properly identify the weed, dig up or chop down any plants and remove them from the field before mature seeds have formed.
Taiwan wheat purchases: The Taiwan Flour Mills Assn. (TFMA) signed a letter of intent Sept. 10 in Washington, D.C., to purchase up to 62.5 million bu. of U.S. wheat worth an estimated $484.5 million between 2014 and 2015. The signing ceremony kicked off Taiwan's formal Agricultural Trade Goodwill Mission to the U.S. to purchase grains and other agricultural products for the people of Taiwan. The mission will also sign letters of intent with the U.S. Grains Council and the American Soybean Assn. and will call on members of Congress and policy-makers in the executive branch. Taiwan is the sixth-largest market for U.S. wheat: Since 1998, the country has purchased 520 million bu. worth an estimated $3.27 billion.
Grain prices: In the Sept. 9 Feedstuffs, prices reported for Sept. 4 Chicago corn and soybeans and Decatur soybean meal were incorrect. Revised price quotes for Sept. 4 are included in this week's Grain & Ingredient Cash Market Comparisons table.
Uruguay office: CHS Inc. announced last week it has opened an office in Montevideo, Uruguay, making it the fourth South American nation in which CHS has operations. Sebastian Lavista will manage the CHS Uruguay office. He will report to Ignacio Bosch, general manager of CHS Argentina.
Railcar repair: The Andersons Inc. announced last week that it has completed the purchase of Mile Rail LLC, a railcar repair and cleaning provider. The purchase includes a primary location in Kansas City, Mo., and two satellite locations in Nebraska and Indiana, as well as mobile units in the central Midwest. "The addition of Mile Rail complements our existing railcar repair network and expands our geographical footprint," said Rasesh Shah, president of The Andersons' Rail Group. "Additionally, the skilled and customer service-oriented, 52-member workforce enables us to expand our capabilities to repair and clean virtually all types of railcars." The Andersons expects the transaction to be accretive in full-year 2014.