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Articles from 2016 In January

Monsanto sues California over glyphosate cancer listing

Monsanto sues California over glyphosate cancer listing

Monsanto Co. is taking legal action to prevent what they called a “flawed listing” of the herbicide glyphosate under California’s Proposition 65 (Prop 65), which requires the state to maintain a “list of chemicals known to the state of California to cause cancer.”

Monsanto said the listing of glyphosate would be “flawed and baseless because glyphosate does not cause cancer, as has been concluded by the U.S. EPA (Environmental Protection Agency), the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) and pesticide regulators around the world.” It said the listing would violate the California and U.S. constitutions because the state would be ceding the basis of its regulatory authority to an unelected and non-transparent foreign body that is not under the oversight or control of any federal or state government entity.

Monsanto filed the suit against the California Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment (OEHHA) in California’s Fresno Superior Court.

Indeed, OEHHA, the very state agency that has announced its intention to add glyphosate to the Prop 65 list, determined in 2007 — after conducting a rigorous and science-based assessment — that glyphosate was unlikely to cause cancer. In striking contrast, OEHHA now interprets Prop 65 to require the agency to accept the erroneous classification of glyphosate as a “probable carcinogen” by an ad hoc working group of the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC), based in Lyon, France, as the sole basis for the proposed listing. This interpretation of Prop 65 is unconstitutional, Monsanto said.

Moreover, IARC’s own governing documents specifically disavow any policy- or law-making role for its classifications, and it does not intend its classifications to carry the force of law. As stated in IARC’s preamble, “These evaluations represent only one part of the body of information on which public health decisions may be based. … Therefore, no recommendation is given with regard to regulation or legislation, which are the responsibility of individual governments or other international organizations.”

“Glyphosate does not cause cancer, so listing glyphosate under California’s Prop 65 is not warranted scientifically and would cause unwarranted concern for consumers,” said Dr. Phil Miller, vice president of regulatory affairs at Monsanto. “Based on the overwhelming weight of evidence, regulatory agencies have concluded for more than 40 years that glyphosate can be used safely. The conclusion from the IARC meeting in France was erroneous, non-transparent and based on selectively interpreted data. We are bringing this challenge forward because this intention to list is contrary to science.”

Regulatory agencies around the globe - such as EPA and EFSA - evaluate pesticides, including glyphosate, using thorough and robust risk assessments based on internationally recognized toxicological principles. As required by law, these evaluations consider all relevant scientific data to arrive at a conclusion about whether a pesticide could be carcinogenic. A routine EPA registration review on glyphosate opened in 2009 and remains underway.

Since the initial announcement of the IARC meeting’s classification in March 2015, multiple regulatory bodies have publicly affirmed that glyphosate does not cause cancer.

In reference to 55 epidemiological studies EPA evaluated in 2014, Carissa Cryan, EPA chemical review manager, said, “Our review concluded that this body of research does not provide evidence to show that glyphosate causes cancer, and it does not warrant any change in EPA’s cancer classification for glyphosate.”

EFSA, in its conclusion on the peer review of the pesticide risk assessment of the active substance glyphosate, said, “Glyphosate did not present genotoxic potential, and no evidence of carcinogenicity was observed in rats or mice.”

In 2014, the Canadian Pest Management Regulatory Authority said, “In consideration of the strength and limitations of the large body of information on glyphosate, … the overall weight of evidence indicates that glyphosate is unlikely to pose a human cancer risk. This is consistent with all other pesticide regulatory authorities worldwide, including the most recent ongoing comprehensive re-evaluation by Germany.”

These regulatory conclusions are consistent with OEHHA’s own assessment of glyphosate from 2007, which found: “Based on the weight of the evidence, glyphosate is judged unlikely to pose a cancer hazard to humans.”

Monsanto added that the members of the ad hoc IARC working group were hand-picked and conducted their assessment in a non-transparent process that is not accountable to the laws or governments of the U.S. or the state of California. Unlike regulatory risk assessments, the IARC classification process followed non-standard procedures and selectively included and interpreted only a subset of the data actually available on glyphosate. 

“The IARC classification of glyphosate is inconsistent with the findings of regulatory bodies in the United States and around the world, and it is not a sound basis for any regulatory action,” Miller said. “Glyphosate is an efficient, effective and safe tool for weed control in fields, along roadways and in other environments. We urge the state of California to uphold its own science-based conclusion about glyphosate reached in 2007 and the conclusions of the U.S. EPA and all other pesticide regulators.”

CattleFax predicts market shock is nearly over

CattleFax predicts market shock is nearly over

Insights about the recent market price shocks and potential for future turbulence were discussed this week with more than 2,000 beef producers at the CattleFax Outlook Session held during the 2016 Cattle Industry Convention and NCBA Trade Show. 

The downward spiral from the record-high cattle prices of late 2014 and early 2015 has been tough for many in the business, but CattleFax chief executive officer Randy Blach said the steepest portion of the market correction has passed. 

More than 2,000 beef producers attended the CattleFax Outlook Session held during the 2016 Cattle Industry Convention and NCBA Trade Show. Source: NCBA

According to Blach, cattle markets had the third-largest rally (37% in 15 months) from 2014 to 2015, followed by the third-largest break (32%) in the last 12 months, which is a pretty fast change at a very fast pace in a very, very short period of time.

“We’re measuring it from a percentage standpoint, but a lot of you feel it from a dollars-per-head standpoint,” Blach said.

He explained that tighter protein supplies and stronger exports created the "perfect storm" for the cattle market to reach the extreme highs. Animal health challenges limited poultry and pork production in 2014, creating the tightest per capita U.S. net protein supply in the last 20 years. This resulted in the second most volatile market in history — one that was more volatile than the market following the discovery of bovine spongiform encephalopathy in 2003.

“We are coming off historic highs in the cattle market, created by unique conditions in both the global and domestic protein markets,” Blach said. “Dynamics, specifically larger protein supplies, led to a significant correction in price in 2015. A large portion of the market down trend is over now. However, the cycle shows prices continuing to trend lower in 2016, 2017 and 2018.”

He said the markets are currently trading where they should be but added that the volatility and the way the markets are moving to those levels is what’s creating concern within the industry.

Analysts predicted that cattle feeders – after losing about $200 per head in 2015 – will be slightly profitable this year. Stocker operators will experience tighter margins, and cow/calf producers will remain profitable. The team of economists expect fed cattle prices will average $130-135/cwt. in 2016.

“Cow/calf producers will still be profitable, but at substantially lower levels than the past two years,” said Kevin Good, senior analyst and fed cattle market specialist for CattleFax. “We predict the cattle feeder will have tight margins for the year, with potential for profitability by midyear.”

Analysts predict exports to add $294 per head in value for 2016 – a $66 drop per head from 2014 values. This decrease in export potential is caused by a combination of a stronger U.S. dollar, a slowdown in global markets and challenges with market access. China and other global markets are still the biggest opportunities for U.S. beef, but trade restrictions will continue to limit potential in the year ahead.

Blach said 2016 and 2017 are forecasted to top the record meat production of 2015, which means exports will be key in the future.

“You have to stay focused on what’s happening in the export markets,” he said. “The U.S. is the largest protein exporter on the planet. We need free trade, fair trade and access to these markets. That’s going to become more and more important to us as we move down the road.”

Beef imports are projected to be down 8% due to the combination of lower trim prices and increasing domestic cow slaughter. The U.S. is in a rebuilding stage, and females are being held back for the cow herd. Analysts predict that the U.S. cow herd will grow another 600,000 head in 2016 following a 1.1 million-head increase in 2015.

Analysis sheds light on 'other oilseed' designation for cottonseed

Analysis sheds light on 'other oilseed' designation for cottonseed

A coalition of rural and urban Democrats and Republicans from across the country, inside and outside the Cotton Belt, are requesting that the secretary of agriculture use his authority under the farm bill to designate cottonseed an oilseed, allowing farmers who produce cottonseed to access the same risk management tools available under the farm bill to other oilseed farmers.

"Other oilseeds" are covered program commodities and eligible for the farm bill’s Average Risk Coverage (ARC) and Price Loss Coverage (PLC). They currently are: canola, crambe, flaxseed, mustard, rapeseed, safflower, sesame and sunflowers.

This large variation between different market prices and a common reference price implies payments by PLC will likely vary among the "other oilseeds."

This week, Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack said the U.S. Department of Agriculture continues to evaluate the legal issues that surround whether the agency can make the change, examining the budget impact and what implications it could have on other trade relationships.

Some new light has been shed on the budget impact as four economists released an analysis that found that the price of cottonseed is well below the "other oilseed" reference price. “If the secretary adds cottonseed to 'other oilseeds,' and since the price of cottonseed is well below the ‘other oilseed’ reference price, PLC payments to cottonseed seem likely,” the authors wrote. PLC payments for cottonseed could approach $1 billion per year if made on current cotton (generic) base acres.

In the analysis from Ohio State University agricultural economist Carl Zulauf and University of Illinois economists Gary Schnitkey, Jonathan Coppess and Nick Paulson, the team questioned whether the “large potential cost of adding cottonseed to ‘other oilseeds’ raises issues of how to pay for it and what share should cotton bear? For example, should the generic base program be altered?”

The economists did state that adding cottonseed to "other oilseeds" may reduce the incentive to plant program crops other than cotton on generic base, “thus reducing government payments to other program crops and providing an offset for at least some of the cost of any cottonseed payments.”

The team noted, “It is not clear how other countries will respond if cottonseed is added to ‘other oilseeds,’ especially when spending by the U.S. on farm programs is increasing and already viewed as high by many countries. This concern likely grows the more spending on U.S. cotton increases above the 2014 farm bill baseline. A (World Trade Organization) case could target not just cotton but the PLC-generic acre program and perhaps even ARC, since the fixed reference price is part of its payment formula, and a producer with generic base can elect ARC."

Study shows shift in consumer values influencing food decisions

Study shows shift in consumer values influencing food decisions

Taste, price and convenience are no longer the sole deciding factors when people buy food and beverages, according to a new study, from Deloitte, Food Marketing Institute (FMI) and Grocery Manufacturers Association (GMA).

The study, "Capitalizing on the Shifting Consumer Food Value Equation," included results from a survey conducted on 5,000 consumers nationwide, as well as interviews with executives from over 40 companies across retailers, food and beverage manufacturers, ingredient suppliers and agricultural producers.

Results showed that roughly half of Americans surveyed (51%) weigh "evolving drivers" – health and wellness, safety, social impact, experience and transparency – in their purchasing decisions, in addition to the "traditional drivers" of taste, price and convenience (Figure 1).

The study noted that this does not mean the Traditional drivers are no longer important. In fact, it said Traditional value drivers continue to be among the most important drivers of behavior, and likely will be for the foreseeable future. What the results mean is that the Evolving drivers in the consumer value equation join the Traditional drivers as part of the full plate of influence when considering the drivers of consumer purchase decisions and take a greater share than in the past, according to the study.

Millennials are typically attributed to the changes occurring in consumer behavior; however, the study actually found that the shift towards Evolving drivers and a broader purchase consideration set was not driven by certain region, age, or income groups. The changes were pervasive across region, age and income. This means that each and every consumer targeted by food manufacturers and retailers has changed in a fundamental and impactful way, the study explained.

"Contrary to conventional wisdom, it's not just the millennials or most affluent putting these evolving drivers in the mix," said Jack Ringquist, principal of Deloitte Consulting LLP and global consumer products leader. "Our research reveals that the preference for these attributes does not differ by generation, income level or region, but is pervasive across these groups. The U.S. consumer has changed in a fundamental and impactful way, and people's preferences are becoming even more fragmented than the food industry may have anticipated." 

The study also showed a shift in the way people think about food safety. Americans no longer define the concept of food safety based on near-term risks to their health, according to the study. Instead, nearly three-quarters (74%) of consumers in Deloitte's "2015 Consumer Food Value Equation" survey believed that a definition of food safety limited to "one that will not cause any immediate, physical, harm" is insufficient. Consumers now link health, wellness and transparency with their definition of safety, and include factors such as free from harmful ingredients (62%); clear and accurate labeling (51%); and fewer ingredients, processing and nothing artificial (42%).

"Food retailers are inherently 'shopper advocates' and they respect that their customers want both genuine and transparent shopping experiences," said FMI chief collaboration officer Mark Baum. "Our study sheds light on how companies can better understand the intersection of these new consumer food values and their own growth strategies."

The joint Deloitte, FMI and GMA study addresses several implications of the shifting value equation for the food and beverage industry –- one where some brands will "double down" on their strengths and focus more specifically on the more-traditional needs, while others invest more and explore evolving needs. Industry implications of the report's findings include:

-          Consumer tastes and preferences will continue to fragment;

-          Retailers' role influencing consumer purchase decisions will continue to increase;

-          Smaller, newer companies will leverage new technologies, third party relationships and improve engagement to earn consumer trust;

-          Larger competitors within the industry will adjust to fulfill new, unique value propositions; and

-          Market success will be determined by building purpose-driven competitive advantages.

"Today's consumers have a higher thirst for knowledge than previous generations and they are putting the assessment of that information into their value equation," said Jim Flannery, senior executive vice president, operations and industry collaboration at GMA. "There is no doubt that the consumer value equation has changed – as taste, price and convenience are now only the foundation with the need to leverage the emerging value drivers. Brands that win with consumers will likely be those that provide the information they seek, well beyond what is on the label."

Beyond selenium methionine: Critical parameters in evaluating selenium yeast



Selenium occurs in different chemical forms that determine its bioavailability, function and toxicology to human and animal health.

Selenized yeast, in which selenium is taken up by the yeast during a controlled fermentation process, is the most bioavailable organic selenium source. However, there are a number of companies around the world that produce organic selenium yeast products, with each manufacturer claiming superior performance for livestock. Yet the form and content of selenium in selenium-yeast supplements depends on the manufacturer, and variation in product quality may occur due to factors such as yeast strain, media composition and feed processing (Weekley and Harris, 2013).

Thus, as one begins to select a yeast product for dietary organic selenium supplementation for food-producing animals, it is important to know the availability of the selenium in that product.

Characterization and comparison of selenium-enriched yeast products has traditionally been made by quantifying total selenomethionine (SeMet) content, the major component of selenium-yeast. A disadvantage of this approach, however, is that it does not consider the effects of selenium deposition on subsequent digestive availability and instead assumes all selenium yeast products to have the same bioequivalency.

In a recently published article, researchers at Alltech used state-of-the-art methodologies to examine commercially available selenium-yeast products and determine the true incorporation of SeMet into yeast proteins (Fagan et al., 2015). Overall, the study indicated that significant differences exist between selenium yeast products in terms of selenium localized deposition into proteins. To further address the effects of subcellular compartmentalization of selenium, the scientists assessed the same products for potential bioavailability using an in vitro approach.

Selenium bioavailability is defined as the fraction of selenium that reaches the blood system from the gastrointestinal (GI) tract and is available to the organism’s metabolism. In other words, in order to exert a health benefit, the compound of interest needs to withstand feed processing, be released from the food matrix post-ingestion and be bio-accessible in the GI tract (Rein et al., 2013).

In vitro digestion models are widely used to study the structural changes, digestibility and release of food components under simulated gastrointestinal conditions. Our analysis demonstrated that while some products appears to contain a larger number of selenium-containing proteins, many of these survive in vitro digestion and so the incorporated selenomethionine/selenocysteine residues will be less bioavailable (Figure). Product 1 contains the lowest number of selenium-containing proteins following digestion and, furthermore, those detectable after digestion show a considerable decrease in abundance.

Sel-Plex represents the sample with the largest amount of selenium-containing protein digested and by inference, the largest bioavailability of selenomethionine/selenocysteine. As subcellular deposition of selenium within selenium-yeast is so widely different, it is reasonable to expect that these preparations will also differ in parameters such as shelf-life, bioavailability and indeed, toxicology. Rather than viewing these commercial products in exactly the same light, it is clear that they must be seen as very distinct preparations.

Beyond selenium methionine: Critical parameters in evaluating selenium yeast

1. In vitro digestibility of Selenium yeast products.


Fagan, S., R. Owens, P. Ward, C. Connolly, S. Doyle and R. Murphy. 2015. Biochemical comparison of commercial selenium yeast preparations. Biol. Trace Elem. Res. 166(2):245-259.

Rein, M.J., M. Renouf, C. Cruz-Hernandez, L. Actis-Goretta, S.K. Thakkar and M. da Silva Pinto. 2013. Bioavailability of bioactive food compounds: A challenging journey to bioefficacy. Br. J. Clin. Pharmacol. 75(3):588-602.

Weekley, C.M., and H.H. Harris. 2013. Which form is that? The importance of selenium speciation and metabolism in the prevention and treatment of disease. Chem. Soc. Rev. 42(23):8870-8894.

Agri Strategies, Ag Partners form joint venture

Ag Partners LLC and Jeff Ramold, owner of Agri Strategies Inc., announced that they have formed a new joint venture called Livestock Equity LLC.

Ag Partners is one of the largest feed manufacturers in Iowa, operating five feed mills throughout central and northwestern Iowa and providing feed for pork and poultry producers throughout the state.

Ramold has owned and operated a swine brokerage firm for more than 15 years, with offices in Omaha, Neb., and Sioux City, Iowa. He has been a trusted adviser to swine producers both within the U.S. and internationally and is a procurement resource expert to packing plants throughout the central U.S. corridor.

Ramold will serve as chief executive officer of the new joint venture and will continue to run the offices in Omaha and Sioux City.

Livestock Equity will bring additional marketing solutions for swine producers throughout the Midwest.

Both parties anticipate closing on this transaction in the next 60 days.

EXPORT REPORT: Crop sales drop, as expected

Export sales of corn, soybeans and wheat decreased over the last week, but the numbers in the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s export report were Friday within trade forecasts and at the paces needed to meet USDA’s annual forecasts.

Corn export sales were down 29% to 32.2 million bu., while soybean sales were down 34% to 23.8 million bu. versus the prior week. Wheat sales of 10.8 million bu. were down 19% from the prior week.

U.S. soybean futures in Chicago, Ill., rose about 2 cents/bu. after the export report came out and closed the overnight session up 2.5 cents for March and up 2.75 cents for May. Corn and wheat futures barely moved after the report as the export numbers for both crops were at the low end of forecasts. March corn finished the overnight up a half-cent, and March soft red winter wheat was up a quarter-cent

Top buyers of corn were Mexico, Japan and Saudi Arabia. In addition, 1.5 million bu. of 2016-17 corn were sold to Mexico and Nicaragua.

The soybean sales were led by China, Germany and the Netherlands. USDA on Wednesday reported that China cancelled the purchase of 14.5 million bu. of soybeans, and that change will likely be included in the next weekly export report.

The wheat sales were led by Japan, Indonesia and South Korea. About 1.9 million bu. of 2016-17 wheat went to the United Arab Emirates, Japan and Italy.

Soybean meal export sales of 200,800 metric tons were down 28% from the prior week, led by the Philippines, unknown destinations and Colombia.

Sorghum sales of 2.31 million bu. were led by China, unknown destinations and Mexico.

EPA proposes discharge permit for pesticide spraying

The Environmental Protection Agency proposed a Clean Water Act discharge permit for pesticide spraying near or on water, replacing the existing permit that is set to expire on Oct. 31, 2016. Once finalized, the draft permit will take effect in Idaho, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New Mexico, Washington, D.C., most U.S. territories and most Native American country lands where EPA is the permitting authority.

In all, the draft permit, under EPA’s National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES), would apply to more than 365,000 pesticide users, including local municipalities, state agencies, pesticide applicators, farmers, ranchers, forest ranchers and scientists. State permitting authorities also can adopt EPA's finalized general pesticide permit. EPA is seeking comments on costs incurred by permit holders through March 11.

In Congress, Republicans and some Democrats have attempted to ban the NPDES, noting the unnecessary dual regulations under the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide & Rodenticide Act (FIFRA) and the Clean Water Act. The Senate Environment & Public Works Committee passed the Sensible Environmental Protection Act of 2015, but the bill has not yet been considered by the full Senate. 

The draft 2016 PGP, fact sheet and all supporting documents are available at www.regulations.gov under Docket ID No. EPA-HQ-OW-2015-0499. Electronic versions of the draft 2016 PGP and fact sheet are also available on EPA’s NPDES website at www.epa.gov/npdes/pesticides.

Crop markets higher on rebound: Podcast

Corn, soybean and wheat futures were higher near midday on Friday as they recover from lower moves the day before.

Weekly export sales were down from a week ago but were within trade forecasts.

Bob Burgdorfer of Farm Futures reporting. Farm Futures is a sister publication of Feedstuffs. 



Livestock & poultry cash market comparisons: 1/27/16

Livestock and meat ($)

Jan. 27

Jan. 20

6 mos. ago

Year ago

Steers, Choice, carcass, 550-700 lb., cwt., Omaha





Steers, Choice, 1,050-1,200 lb., cwt. Southern Plains





Feeder Steers, 600-700 lb., cwt., Oklahoma City





Lean Hogs, Carcass, Iowa-Minn. 167-187 lb.(1)





Feeder Pigs, 40 lb. National Direct Delivered(2)





SEW Pigs, 10 lb., National direct delivered (per head)





Choice Beef, cutout, cwt.





Pork Loin, 185 lb. 51-52% lean, cutout, cwt.(3)





Hog Corn Ratio





Steer Corn Ratio





Poultry and eggs (cents)





Chickens, Grade A, Fresh lb. Chicago





Hen Turkeys, Grade A, Frozen, lb., Chicago





Young Tom Turkeys, Grade A. Frozen lb. Chicago





Eggs, Grade A, Large, doz., Chicago





N/A: not available





(1) Replaces live hogs; live hogs are 0.755 of quote.
(2) Replaces Sioux Falls, 50-60 lbs. (2/26/07)
(3) National FOB plant, replaces national daily carlot.
Livestock, meat, poultry and egg prices from USDA.