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Articles from 2016 In December

Government relations firms launch ag practice

tupungato_iStock_Thinkstock Capitol Building Washington D C
US National Capitol

Aronnax Public Strategies (APS) and RDL & Associates announced that they have entered into a joint venture that will provide a unique federal and state government affairs and strategic communications service for the agriculture sector.

“State lobbying and federal lobbying are not mutually exclusive, and our affiliation provides clients with a presence in the halls of Congress and within the Executive Branch while also engaging stakeholders and policy-makers throughout the United States,” APS principal Fred Starzyk said. “This collaboration between federal and state government affairs teams creates additional opportunities and efficiencies for our client, providing a true team approach when it comes to our clients' government relations needs.”

The joint venture creates additional opportunities and efficiencies for clients and builds on APS's FedState Network model. This government affairs team approach allows clients to be engaged in all aspects of government affairs and strategic communications and helps them manage their political capital effectively and efficiently.

“Although the current farm bill is not scheduled to expire until 2018, reauthorization discussions are currently underway as to what the next bill should look like. Coalitions are being formed, policies are being considered and strategic planning by stakeholders is well underway,” RDL president Dave Ladd said. “None of the issues will be considered in a vacuum, because the agriculture policy playing field is extremely complex. This is why it is important to have representation at both the state and federal levels of government.”

In today's policy environment, a strategic and tactical communications and government relations plan allows for an organization to effectively hit the ground running at the federal, state and local levels of government and across business sectors, the announcement said.

APS, located in Washington, D.C., provides a wide range of services that include: federal and state lobbying, strategic advocacy planning, grassroots organization, public relations, policy research services, legislative tracking, grant writing and procurement, association management and federal contracting services.

RDL, headquartered in St. Paul, Minn., assists clients seeking solutions on issues affecting agriculture and the rural economy. The firm has a broad range of contacts at the federal, regional and state levels, as well as with key leaders in production agriculture, the renewable energy sector, agribusiness, financial institutions, state and federal government and Capitol Hill.

Five eating attitudes, behaviors to watch in 2017

monkeybusinessimages/iStock/Thinkstock family dining

In a world of uncertainty, one thing is certain in 2017: America will eat. How and where people source meals and the attributes that will win their purchase are ever-changing, however, and according to The NPD Group, a leading global information company, here are five overarching trends to watch in 2017:

  1. The battle for "share of the stomach" will intensify. For several years now, more than 80% of meals have been sourced from home; fewer than 20% have been sourced from foodservice, and dollars are evenly split between the two. NPD said food manufacturers will benefit from a trend toward eating meals at home by capitalizing on consumers' desires for fresh, authentic foods.

“Foodservice operators will increasingly leverage technology to conveniently get their food on the in-home table. At the intersection of this trend is the retailer, who will continue to blur the line between retail and foodservice,” the group added.

  1. The “blended meal” will continue to develop. Consumers are dining at home more, and they value fresh and authentic foods, but convenience remains an important part of the equation. People don't always source meals entirely at home or away from home.

“Look for various components of 'homemade' meals to be sourced from items fully or partially prepared,” NPD said. “Opportunity exists all along the preparation spectrum, from meal kits to restaurant delivery.”

  1. Companies will win by getting personal. Even in a mature, low-growth environment, there will be opportunities for double-digit growth. Today more than ever, though, the consumer is in charge, according to NPD.

“Access to information is empowering people to do things on their terms. The days of a one-size-fits-all blockbuster idea are over,” the firm said.

NPD said consumers will seek out foods with a variety of value-added attributes (e.g., fresh, natural, organic), positive benefits (energy, brain food, etc.) and social value (local, sustainable and transparent).

“Some of these opportunities may seem small by big company standards, but that is where the growth is,” NPD said.

  1. The definition of meal occasions will evolve. People aren't adding new eating occasions to their day, but how meal and between-meal occasions are composed will continue to change.

“Foods that offer the flexibility to compose an eating occasion to fit specific needs at a given time will grow, whether packaged goods or foodservice offerings. Consumers will make choices on price point, portion control and portability — whatever allows them to craft a snack or full meal, spend a little or a lot, take a break or eat on the run,” NPD said.

  1. Experience will make the difference. To stand out, NPD said food manufacturers, retailers and foodservice operators must go beyond sustenance.

“People will seek out experiences, whether through exploring street food vendors, emerging ethnic flavors or hands-on experiences such as learning new food prep techniques,” it said.

Connecting products or brands to an experience people are eager to share with others can be an important differentiating factor in 2017, NPD suggested.

“The search for white space, growth occasions and new product opportunity will be more important than ever for food companies and foodservice operators in 2017,” said David Portalatin, NPD vice president of food industry analyst and author of Eating Patterns in America. “Opportunities to grow and innovate are out there, but the key to finding them in the coming year will be staying in touch with the consumer. They're the ones in charge.”

Crop, livestock production to remain abundant

tractor plowing

Crop prices are well below the record levels of 2010-13 as U.S. and world supplies remain abundant, even with a shortfall in South American corn and soybean production in 2016, according to University of Illinois agricultural economist Darrell Good, who recently provided a crop and livestock outlook at the 2016 Illinois Farm Economics Summit. He said commodity demand also continues to suffer from prolonged, slow economic growth in much of the world.

“The lower prices are expected to persist until there is a shortfall in production in a major producing region or until U.S. and world economic growth accelerates,” Good said.

Corn prices remain pressured by four consecutive large crops in the U.S. While exports received a boost from Brazil's corn production shortfall in 2016, Good suggested that export demand will weaken in the second half of 2017 if South American production rebounds.

On the domestic side, corn demand remains weak due to a slow increase in ethanol production and declining livestock prices. “Still, feed use of corn will be supported by the expansion in livestock production and by low corn prices,” Good said.

After declining to 820 million bu. at the end of the 2012-13 marketing year, stocks grew to 1.74 billion bu. at the end of the 2015-16 marketing year and are projected to be 2.4 billion bu. at the end of the current year.

Planted corn acreage is expected to decline in 2017 in favor of more soybean acres. Good said a 3 million-acre reduction and a trend yield near 169 bu. would result in the 2017 crop being 1 billion bu. smaller than the 2016 crop. Such a reduction would result in fewer stocks by the end of the 2017-18 marketing year. Corn prices are expected to average near $3.30/bu. during the current year and near $3.60/bu. during the 2017-18 marketing year if world production unfolds as expected, he said.

Soybean prices have remained high relative to the price of corn and wheat, even with three consecutive large crops in the U.S., according to Good.

“Exports have been supported by continued large imports by China and by the shortfall in South American production in 2016. As a result, U.S. stocks of soybeans were less than 200 million bu. at the end of the 2015-16 marketing year,” he said.

The very high-yielding crop of 2016, however, is expected to push 2016-17 marketing year ending stocks to 480 million bu., Good added.

Planted acreage of soybeans in 2017 is expected to increase, perhaps by as much as 4 million acres, due to the low prices of corn and wheat and the lower cost of producing soybeans relative to corn.

However, the very high soybean yields of the past three years make it more difficult to anticipate yields for 2017, Good noted. A yield near 48 bu. would result in a 2017 crop that's about 200 million bu. smaller than the 2016 crop but would still point to a further increase in U.S. stocks by the end of the 2017-18 marketing year.

Soybean prices are expected to average near $9.20/bu. during the current year and near $8.75/bu. during the 2017-18 marketing year if world production unfolds as expected. Expanding biodiesel production has the potential to support prices at a higher level, though, Good said.

U.S. wheat production increased by 250 million bu. in 2016 even as harvested acreage was reduced by 3.4 million acres. Soft red winter wheat production was down 15 million bu. and has declined 37% from 2013 to 2016. Foreign wheat production in 2016 was large for the fourth consecutive year, Good noted.

U.S. exports of soft red winter wheat are expected to decline by 30 million bu. this year, while exports of other classes of wheat are expected to increase by 230 million bu. Stocks of all classes of U.S. wheat are expected to grow to a 29-year high of 1.14 billion bu. by the end of the current marketing year.

“A sharp decline in winter wheat production is expected in 2017, reflecting a decline in acreage as well a decline in yield from the record 55.3 bu. of 2016,” Good said.

He pointed out that most of the Illinois wheat crop is sold at or shortly after harvest, so the average price received for the 2016 crop will be near $3.90/bu. An average near $4.50/bu. is expected at harvest time in 2017.

Livestock outlook

According to Good, livestock prices reached a peak in 2014 due to reduced red meat production resulting from high feed prices, drought conditions in cattle-producing areas and disease in the U.S. hog herd. Production has now rebounded, and prices have declined sharply. Still, further production increases are on tap for 2017.

Good said U.S. pork production has increased steadily since 1986, except for a fairly flat period from 2008 through 2014. Production is expected to increase from 25.0 billion lb. in 2016 to 25.8 billion lb. in 2017.

Exports are expected to increase from 5.2 billion to 5.4 billion lb., while imports are expected to stabilize near 1.1 billion lb. Domestic pork supplies are projected to be 51.0 lb. per capita in 2017, up from 49.9 lb. in 2016 and 49.7 lb. in 2015.

The average price of hogs was near $50/cwt. in 2015 and about $45.50/cwt. in 2016. An average of around $40/cwt. is expected for 2017, with the highest prices coming in the last half of the year.

U.S. beef production reached a 22-year low in 2015 but is expected to increase from 25.1 billion lb. in 2016 to 26.2 billion lb. in 2017 due to the expansion in the cow herd that started in 2015 and the continuation of low feed prices.

Good said exports are expected to increase from 2.5 billion lb. in 2016 to 2.6 billion lb. in 2017, while imports are expected to decline from 3.0 billion to 2.7 billion lb.. Domestic per capita beef supplies are projected to be 56.6 lb. in 2017, up from 55.4 lb. in 2016 and 53.9 lb. in 2015.

Fed cattle prices averaged near $148 in 2015 and about $120 in 2016 but are projected to average only about $105 in 2017.

WEEKLY EXPORT REPORT: Corn, soybean sales decrease

cargo ship

Weekly corn and soybean export sales were down from the prior week, as expected, while wheat sales were up from a week ago and topped trade forecasts.

China was again the leading buyer of soybeans, while Mexico led corn buyers and China led in the wheat, the U.S. Department of Agriculture said in its weekly report.

The report put weekly corn sales at 37.7 million bu., down 23% from the previous week but matching trade forecasts in a Reuters poll. In addition to Mexico, Japan and Peru were leading buyers. Sales of 1.8 million bu. of 2017-18 corn were led by Mexico, Peru and Honduras.

Soybean sales of 35.8 million bu. for 2016-17 supplies were down 46% from the prior week. After China, the leading buyers included Spain, the Netherlands and Japan. About 187,000 bu. of 2017-18 soybeans went to Japan.

Wheat sales of 20.9 million bu. were up 91% from the prior week. After China, the top buyers were Mexico South Korea and Japan. Nearly 530,000 bu. of 2017-18 wheat went to Mexico.

Chicago, Ill., corn, soybean and wheat markets had little reaction to the export report in the closing minutes of the overnight session. Corn futures closed the session down a quarter-cent in March and down a half-cent in May. January soybeans were down 2.75 cents/bu., and March was down 3.5 cents. March soft red winter wheat futures closed 1.25 cents/bu. higher, March hard red winter wheat was down 1 cent and March spring wheat was down 2.25 cents.

Soybean meal export sales of 251,900 metric tons were up 81% from the prior week and beat trade forecasts. Mexico, Vietnam and the Philippines led buyers. Also, 44,500 mt of 2017-18 soybean meal went to Mexico and Nicaragua.

Soybean oil sales of 18,900 mt were up 26% from the prior week and matched trade forecasts. The business was led by South Korea, Mexico and Costa Rica.

Sorghum sales of nearly 1.13 million bu. were down sharply from the previous week. China, Mexico and Indonesia led buyers.

Transparency voted ANA 'marketing word of the year' for 2016

jackaldu_iStock_Thinkstock Transparency written out and circled

If a single word could represent the U.S. marketing industry in 2016, what would it be? According to the members of the Association of National Advertisers (ANA), that word is "transparency."

During the week of Nov. 28, ANA surveyed its members online, asking them to vote on the Marketing Word of the Year from a list of final selections prepared by ANA staff. A total of 267 members participated, and “transparency” received the most votes.

The selection reflected the June release of a transparency study ANA conducted in conjunction with K2 Intelligence that showed widespread allegations of various non-transparent business activities by ad agencies and media agencies throughout the U.S. media ecosystem.

Other top choices in the 2016 Marketing Word of the Year voting were "customer experience," "content marketing," "influencer" and "programmatic." It was the third consecutive year for which ANA announced a Marketing Word of the Year. Previous winners were content marketing (2015) and programmatic (2014).

“It’s no surprise that our members chose 'transparency' as the Marketing Word of the Year,” ANA chief executive officer Bob Liodice said. “Our media transparency study was one of our most important initiatives, and it sparked fundamental behavioral changes among marketers and in the industry here and around the world.”

A representative selection of verbatim comments from ANA members who voted for transparency as the ANA 2016 ANA Marketing Word of the Year included:

  • (Transparency) is the single most important issue in marketing and has the greatest potential benefit in terms of improving marketing ROI (return on investment).
  • Transparency, or lack of transparency, defines all media agency relationships and provides a new perspective to consider these relationships.
  • The K2 findings have served as a milestone encouraging change in how clients and agencies partner on media deals.
  • Fraud and lack of transparency are killing the digital ecosystem for advertisers.
  • Because of the important K2 report and the light it shed on the broken agency/client model, coming to a common ground that works for marketers is crucial to the future of this relationship.
  • Transparency affects everything we communicate in marketing, from our product formulations and labels to how we communicate in all channels to our internal culture.
  • Consumers want to do business with brands they can trust. That goes to the heart of transparency.
  • Trust between agencies and clients has never seemed worse, especially in the world of programmatic and data.

N&H TOPLINE: Sow parity affects progeny performance

Nedap gilts resting in training pens
Gilts rest in their training pen at Jayce Mountain Pork. Training gilts is a key to successful use of electronic sow feeding in group gestation pens.

Bringing replacement gilts into the breeding herd can be expensive, and gilts tend to have smaller litters and lower farrowing rates than established sows.

Because of this, a producer with an average replacement rate of 55-60% will end up feeding more females for fewer progeny — a vicious cycle to be in year after year.

Aside from getting fewer pigs per gilt, a gilt’s progeny can be weaker performers than their counterparts from higher-parity sows, costing producers more as the pigs move through growth phases.

“To counter this expense, we need to keep sows in the herd longer,” said Dr. Zach Rambo, a swine nutritionist at Zinpro. “We know parities three to four are the sweet spot in terms of productivity and economic return for the sow herself.”

Wide performance variations. Research has shown that performance varies widely among the progeny of gilts and sows. More specifically, reports from an Australia-based pork research center noted the following about gilts' progeny:

* They weighed 0.44 lb. less at birth.

* They had a 12-17% slower growth rate.

* On average, they were 2.2 lb. lighter at weaning and 13.2 lb. lighter at 24 weeks.

Piglets born to gilts tend to have higher mortality rates and increased disease susceptibility; low birthweight is a risk for disease and mortality, and gilt progeny tend to be lighter at birth than sow progeny. Pigs weighing less than 2.65 lb. at birth account for 40% of preweaning mortality cases, regardless of sow parity.

“We know piglets from gilts tend to start off smaller, which makes them more vulnerable to health challenges,” Rambo said.

According to the Australian research, gilt progeny cross-fostered to multiparous sows never reached the growth rate of sow progeny. The effects of lighter birthweights (less than 2.65 lb.) lingered, producing a fatter carcass compared to piglets with a heavier birthweight.

Gilt progeny drag down herd feed conversion. The potential performance difference between gilt and sow progeny can be seen in herd feed conversion (HFC) and feed costs. HFC accounts for the feed consumed per pound of carcass weight produced; it accounts for feed consumed by sows and progeny.

Production modeling illustrates that reducing gilt replacement rates from about 55% to 40% could improve HFC by as much as 0.30 points. As outlined in the Australian study, every point change in HFC equals 11-12 cents/cwt. in the U.S. market.

Beware of the real problem. The number-one reason for culling early-parity sows is reproductive failure, followed closely by lameness. Unfortunately, the cause of the reproductive failure — not the failure itself — could be the real leak draining the herd’s profitability.

“It’s not uncommon for a sow to be culled for reproductive failure, when the real problem might have been lameness that discouraged her from eating enough to meet her nutritional requirements,” Rambo said. “Work to get to the bottom of reproductive failures.”

Be cautious of using only the number of pigs per litter to determine when to cull sows, Rambo said. The number of pigs weaned per little might dip for higher-parity sows, but the pigs are likely to be heavier, more robust and better prepared to resist disease.

“When you’re considering factors for culling higher-parity sows, consider the full cost and impact the removal could have on the herd,” Rambo added.


Gilt training

Swine producers thinking about using electronic sow feeding (ESF) in group gestation pens should put “gilt training” at the top of their priority list when researching options.

“Thoroughly trained gilts develop into sows that are comfortable and productive in group gestation pens with ESF,” said Brad Carson, sales manager for Nedap U.S. “A good training plan includes putting the right employees in place and creating an optimal structure and time frame for training.”

For example, the Laut family has made gilt training a priority at Jayce Mountain Pork, a 3,500-sow, farrow-to-wean operation in southeast Missouri that has large-group gestation pens with ESF.

“Training gilts is a simple process if done properly, but it takes discipline,” said Walter Laut, who owns and operates Jayce Mountain Pork with his brothers, Don and Doug. “We recommend any producer who wants to transition to group housing with ESF develop a plan that works for them and follow through with it.”

The Jayce Mountain Pork gestation barn has pens with about 275 sows divided by parity. Each pen has six Nedap electronic sow feeders. To prepare them to succeed in group pens, the gilts are trained in two specially designed pens within the gestation barn. For all gilts, the first couple of weeks in the barn are key to their future success.

The program for the first two weeks includes:

* Week 1 — Pre-training. The pre-training pen is divided in half, with ad libitum feeders on one side and a resting area on the other. A gate just like the ones on the backs of the ESF units is built into the pen divider.

On their first day in the facility, gilts are left alone to acclimate. Starting on day 2, gilts learn how to use the gate to cross from the resting area to the side of the pen with the ad libitum feeder. At Jayce Mountain Pork, one person will spend a five- to six-hour shift moving the group through the training gates. This job isn’t necessarily difficult, but it is crucial and requires employees with the right skill set.

“The ideal gilt trainer is someone who can keep calm and focus on the gilts’ behavior,” Carson said. “Patience in this position is a necessity.”

The work shift should be structured so the trainer can get the work done without having to rush or get frustrated.

* Week 2 — Training. Next, the gilts move into the training pens with ESF units. In this phase, the gilts learn to position themselves in the feeders and use their radio-frequency identification (RFID) ear tags to dispense feed.

Consistency is crucial to successful gilt training.

“The person doing this job has to be very disciplined and stick to the plan you’ve put in place,” Walter Laut said. “You’re going to teach the animal one thing every day. As long as you do that and stick to the plan, the plan works well.”

Backup plan. Some swine management experts suggest that about 10% of gilts are untrainable on an ESF system, Nedap said, but at Jayce Mountain Pork, the team has found that to be true for less than 1% of their gilts.

Laut said the gilts that don’t learn to manage the feeders seem to be “non-competitive” rather than “untrainable.”

“They just don’t have that motivation to make the walk through the large pens to the feeders; they don’t want to do that lap,” Laut said.

“Decide up front what you want to accomplish in the training pens, and make a plan to do it,” Laut said. “Then, no matter what, stick to that plan.”

High mycotoxin levels found in 2016 Canada grain harvest

The Alltech Mycotoxin Management team analyzed corn, spring wheat, barley and triticale samples from across Canada as part of the 2016 Alltech Canada Harvest Analysis.

According to Alltech, the results indicated a high risk for the presence of mycotoxins in total mixed rations (TMR), dried distillers grains with solubles (DDGS) and silage. On average, 3.8 different mycotoxins were present in the TMR and DDGS samples collected.

The 2016 Alltech Canada Harvest Analysis tested 45 TMR samples from across Canada, from June 1 to Nov. 30, at the company’s ISO-accredited Alltech 37+ mycotoxin analytical services laboratory in Nicholasville, Ky.

The report showed that only 2% of the samples contained no mycotoxins, 2% of the samples contained eight to nine mycotoxins, 20% contained six to seven mycotoxins, 29% contained four to five mycotoxins, 29% contained two to three mycotoxins and 18% contained one mycotoxin, Alltech said. Type B trichothecene mycotoxins (including deoxynivalenol [DON]) were present in 80% of the samples, and fusaric acid was present in more than half.

DON is a type B trichothecene mycotoxin and was the most prevalent mycotoxin found in new-crop corn silage as well as spring wheat, barley and triticale samples in Canada, Alltech said. High levels of fusaric acid were also present in the samples collected. The combination of DON and fusaric acid can result in a high risk equivalent factor that can be toxic to animals, the company noted. Producers should observe their herd and monitor their animals for poor feed intake as well as reduced milk or meat production.

“Mycotoxin issues aren’t limited to growing regions with contaminated crops,” said Dr. Max Hawkins, nutritionist for the Alltech Mycotoxin Management team. “Mycotoxins move around quickly and spread contamination, so ensure that you sample your TMR and silage regularly and monitor your animals.”

The Alltech 37+ mycotoxin analysis program can detect the presence of more than 37 different mycotoxins in feed, raw materials and forage. It also provides a risk assessment of the threat mycotoxins present to animals as well as tailored recommendations for an individual operation, all within two weeks of sample submission.


Flood threats changing across U.S.

The risk of flooding in the U.S. is changing regionally, and the reasons could be shifting rainfall patterns and the amount of water in the ground.

In a new study, University of Iowa engineers determined that, in general, the threat of flooding is growing in the northern half of the U.S. and declining in the southern half. The American Southwest and West, meanwhile, are experiencing a decreasing flood risk.

University of Iowa engineers Gabriele Villarini and Louise Slater compiled water-height information between 1985 and 2015 from 2,042 stream gauges operated by the U.S. Geological Survey. They then compared the data to satellite information gathered over more than a dozen years by the National Aeronautics & Space Administration's (NASA) Gravity Recovery & Climate Experiment (GRACE) mission showing "basin wetness" — the amount of water stored in the ground.

What they found was the northern sections of the country generally have an increased amount of water stored in the ground and, thus, are at greater risk for minor and moderate flooding — two flood categories used by the National Weather Service. Meanwhile, minor to moderate flood risk was decreasing in the southern portions of the U.S., where stored water has declined (Map).

Not surprisingly, the NASA data showed decreased stored water — and reduced flood risk — in the Southwest and western U.S., in large part due to the prolonged drought gripping those regions.

"It's almost like a separation, where generally flood risk is increasing in the upper half of the U.S. and decreasing in the lower half," said Villarini, associate professor in civil and environmental engineering and an author on the paper, which was published in the journal Geophysical Research Letters. "It's not a uniform pattern, and we want to understand why we see this difference."

Some of the regional variation can be attributed to changes in rainfall; a study led by Villarini published last year showed that the Midwest and Plains states have experienced more frequent heavy rains in the past half-century. More rainfall leads to more groundwater, a "higher water baseline," Villarini explained.

"The river basins have a memory," added Slater, a post-doctoral researcher and the paper's corresponding author. "So, if a river basin is getting wetter, in the Midwest, for example, your flood risk is also probably increasing, because there's more water in the system."

Why some sections of the nation are getting more — or less — rainfall is not entirely clear. The researchers said some causes could be that the rains are being redistributed as regional climates change.

The researchers hope that their findings could revise how changing flood patterns are communicated. In the past, flood risk trends have typically been discussed using stream flow, or the amount of water flowing per unit time. The University of Iowa study views flood risk through the lens of how it may affect people and property and aligns the results with National Weather Service terminology understood by the general public.

"The concept is simple: We're measuring what people really care about," said Villarini, whose primary appointment is in IIHR-Hydroscience, a branch of the College of Engineering.


Credit: American Geophysical Union.

A University of Iowa study has found that the risk of flooding is changing in the United States and varies regionally. The threat of moderate flooding is increasing generally in the northern US (red areas) and decreasing in the southern US (blue areas), while some regions remain mostly unchanged (gray areas). The findings come from comparing river heights at 2,042 locations with NASA satellite information showing the amount of water in the ground. The study was published in the journal Geophysical Research Letters.

Micro Technologies partners on integrated VFD solution

New Planet Technologies Inc. and Micro Technologies recently announced a new partnership that would integrate New Planet’s cloud-based RxExpress solution with Micro Technologies computerized systems to safely and accurately track and manage feed-grade Veterinary Feed Directive (VFD) medications.

As of Jan. 1, 2017, new U.S. Food & Drug Administration regulations will become effective, requiring VFDs to be issued by a licensed veterinarian prior to the distribution of medicated feed or water. RxExpress is a cloud-based solution that allows a veterinarian to create, manage and retain VFDs in accordance with regulations. Micro Technologies’ proprietary computerized systems communicate automatically with RxExpress to make sure that a valid VFD is in place prior to mixing medication into a feed order, ensuring compliance in real time.

“We’re excited to collaborate with New Planet Technologies and ensure customers have access to a necessary suite of solutions that will better allow them to manage their VFDs,” said Mark Shaw, president of Micro Technologies. “Together, we can not only help producers comply with the new VFD regulations and standards but also improve food safety and increase efficiencies across the industry.”

New Planet president and chief executive officer Tyson Hartshorn said, “We are excited to work with Micro Technologies. Their cutting-edge automated feed and health management tools, combined with RxExpress, provides a seamless solution for ensuring compliance with FDA regulations from the creation of the veterinary feed directive through to the delivery of the medicated feed.”

New Planet is a Colorado Springs, Colo.-based software as a service company founded in 2008. New Planet provides cloud-based software solutions to the animal health and production market, including tools for managing VFDs, prescriptions, animal movement and animal premise management.

Established in 1971, Micro Technologies is a provider of advanced, comprehensive and integrated animal management systems and solutions for livestock producers. Its systems help producers by increasing the value and reducing the cost of producing animals while assuring quality, food safety and consumer wholesomeness. Micro Technologies is a member of the AmerisourceBergen division of Animal Health companies.

GRAIN MARKETS: Corn higher, soy lower as holiday week winds down


Corn closed about a penny higher, wheat 3-6 cents higher and soybeans lower on Thursday following a lightly traded session. More light trading can be expected on Friday ahead of the three-day weekend.

The dollar dropped to a one-week low to provide some support to the crops. The dollar's decline followed its run to nearly a 14-year high the previous day.

Other selling can be attributed to year-end positioning and the lessening of concerns about dry conditions in Argentina. Based on Thursday's closes, corn is about 9 cents/bu. lower for the year, soybeans $1.32/bu. higher and soft red winter wheat 65 cents/bu. lower.

Exports (according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture and Reuters) included:

- Jordan postponed a tender to buy 30,000 metric tons of milling wheat in separate tenders, but another tender for 25,000 mt remains valid, and results are awaited.

- Egypt bought 175,000 mt of wheat from Russia and 60,000 mt from the Ukraine in this week's tender. Prices ranged from $197.20 to $195.95 per ton (c&f) for Feb. 1-10 shipment.

- Morocco seeks to buy 363,636 mt of U.S. soft wheat and a similar amount of European Union soft wheat. It also seeks to buy 327,273 mt of U.S. durum. The deadline for the U.S. wheat is Jan. 17, with the soft wheat for arrival by April 30 and the durum by Dec. 31.

Outside markets were mixed. Equities were a little lower in the early afternoon, crude oil was down about 37 cents a barrel, the dollar was down and gold was higher.

Corn closed about a penny higher in light trading but remained under key moving averages and within the previous day's range.

Rain this week and next week in Argentina and Brazil may aid those crops, which will be harvested in February.

Weekly export sales due Friday morning are forecasted to be down from a week ago, with participants in a Reuters poll expecting 31.5 million to 47.2 million bu.

Corn had a weak close in China's Dalian market, with January at the equivalent of $5.56/bu. European corn for January was weak at $4.45/bu. The prices reflect conversions from local currencies and metric tons.

The Chicago Board of Trade (CBOT) estimated Thursday's corn volume at 123,545, compared with Wednesday's actual volume of 181,851. Open interest on Wednesday decreased by 1,123 in the lower market, with March down 1,826 and May up 926.

March corn closed 1.5 cents higher at $3.4975/bu., and May was up 1 cent to $3.5575/bu.

What to look for: Weather reports from South America continue to move the corn and soybean markets. Currently, Argentina should have beneficial rain this week and next week, but the breadth of coverage will be watched. USDA's next crop report on Jan. 12 will have the government's production estimates for 2016 crops.


Soybeans closed lower for the second day amid light trading, but contracts remain higher for the week, with one more trading day left. The entire soy complex was lower, and soybean oil and soybean meal were also down.

Funds have sold soybeans this week after entering the week net-long the market. Exports have been quiet this week, with no daily sales reported. The weekly sales on Friday are expected to be down from last week's business, with estimates in the Reuters poll ranging from 36.74 million to 55.1 million.

Malaysian palm oil was lower, with a lightly traded January contract down slightly to 32.34 cents/lb. and the more active February contract down a few cents to 31.90 cents/lb. U.S. soybean for January closed down 0.34 at 34.52 cents/lb.

CBOT estimated Thursday's volume at 153,716, compared with Wednesday's actual volume of 189,851. On Wednesday, open interest in the lower market was down 30,568 contracts, with January down 24,381 and March down 8,404.

January soybeans closed 3.5 cents lower at $10.0325/bu., and March was down 3.75 cents to $10.1275. New-crop November soybeans were off 2.5 cents to $9.935/bu.

What to look for: Soybean export sales should decrease early in the new year as global buyers shift their business to South America.


Wheat markets finished higher, with hard red winter wheat having the best gains in a lightly traded session.

Soft red winter wheat finished higher but was unable push to past chart resistance at the 20-day moving average near $4.0625/bu.

Egypt buying Black Sea wheat was consistent with its previous deals. Morocco is seeking U.S. soft wheat, but that deal will not conclude for about two weeks.

There have been recent sales to Algeria, Nigeria and Morocco, which have taken hard red winter, soft red winter, spring and durum wheat. Egypt bought about 45,000 mt of U.S. spring wheat earlier this month. Weekly export sales on Friday are expected to be on either side of the previous week's business.

Soft red winter wheat areas in the Southeast should have rain by this weekend, which may improve moisture conditions there.

CBOT estimated Thursday's soft red winter wheat volume at 45,433, compared with Wednesday's actual volume of 64,805. Open interest in Wednesday's higher market was up 300, with March down 461 and May up 313.

Chicago, Ill., March soft red winter wheat closed 3.25 cents higher at $4.0475/bu., and May was up 3.25 cents to $4.1775/bu. Kansas City, Mo., March hard red winter wheat was 5.75 cents higher at $4.1525/bu., and May was up 6 cents to $4.27/bu. Spring wheat for March rose 4.75 cents to $5.355/bu., and May was up 3.75 cents to $5.3175/bu.

What to look for — The dollar's recent run to nearly a 14-year high will make it hard for U.S. wheat to compete in export markets, where global buyers have plenty of supply to choose from.