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LIVESTOCK MARKETS: Meat, poultry stocks lower than anticipated

Total meat and poultry stocks held in U.S. cold storage warehouses on April 30, 2016, were 2.291 billion lb., coming in slightly lower than analysts' estimates. The total was  2.5% higher than the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s March stocks and 2.3% below last year, according to USDA's May “Cold Storage” report.

The report noted that total red meat supplies in freezers were up slightly from the previous month but down 8% from last year.

Total pounds of beef in freezers were down 3% from the previous month and down 7% from last year. Frozen pork supplies increased 4% from the previous month but were 9% lower than last year. Stocks of pork bellies were 12% higher than last month and 3% higher than last year.

Total frozen poultry supplies on April 30 were up 4% from the previous month and up 4% from a year ago. Total stocks of chicken were 2% higher than last month and 5% higher than last year. Total pounds of turkey in freezers increased 8% from last month and 1% from April 30, 2015.

Total natural cheese stocks in refrigerated warehouses on April 30 were up 2% from the previous month and up 12% from April 30, 2015. USDA said these levels were a record high for the month of April since the agency first started recording the data in 1917.

Butter stocks were 23% higher than last month and up 28% from a year ago.

Turkey hatchery output trending upward

USDA also recently released the May “Turkey Hatchery” report, which showed output trending upward.

Turkey eggs in incubators in the U.S. on May 1, 2016, totaled 28.2 million, a 5% increase from last year. Eggs in incubators were 4% lower than last month, at 29.4 million eggs, but poults hatched during April 2016 totaled 23.8 million, a 2 % increase from April 2015.

Poult placements of 23.2 million during April were 6% higher than last year, according to USDA. Net placements were also 4% higher than the March total of 22.4 million.

Len Steiner and Steve Meyer, in the “Daily Livestock Report,” said poult placements in the summer quarter should continue the trend, with a 5% gain in the forecast. The increases are mostly the result of poult placements that were reduced by highly pathogenic avian influenza during the middle two quarters of last year, they said, adding that poult placements in the next six months will still run below the pace of hatchery output during the same months of 2014.

“A concern for the turkey industry is the lack of expansion in domestic consumption, as well as exports that were down sharply from a year ago during the first quarter,” Steiner and Meyer explained. Domestic consumption of turkey during the January-to-March quarter was up 2% from a year earlier, while exports were down 25% on the same basis of comparison. Consequently, inventories of turkey in cold storage have been rising.

“An emerging issue for the turkey industry will be the effect that high wholesale turkey prices during the first half of the year will have on domestic turkey consumption in the second half of the year, especially Thanksgiving and Christmas,” they said.

House members say biotech revisions could bring uncertainty

Reps. Dan Newhouse (R., Wash.) and Kurt Schrader (D., Ore.) led a letter signed by 65 members of the House of Representatives to Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack warning the U.S. Department of Agriculture to take all factors – including potential market and regulatory uncertainty and trade disruptions – into account when considering a proposed pre-market biotechnology regulatory framework called “Part 340.” They wrote to USDA regarding the Animal & Plant Health Inspection Service’s (APHIS) notice of intent (NOI) to revise pre-market biotech regulations, which was published in the Federal Register on Feb. 5, 2016.

“As proponents of agricultural innovation, we feel strongly that government policies and regulations should consistently promote scientific advancement in food and agricultural production,” the House members wrote. “Science is helping - and will continue to help - farmers and other food producers feed a rapidly growing global population in the face of increasing weather, pest, disease and environmental challenges.

“We are encouraged that APHIS is seeking to use its existing regulatory authority to exempt classes of biotechnology products the agency knows do not present a risk to agriculture, the environment or consumers," the lawmakers continued. "However, we are concerned that APHIS’s proposals have created tremendous uncertainty as to what breeding processes and which categories of products will receive pre-market regulatory scrutiny and to what degree. In addition, we are concerned that a lack of dialogue between our government and our major trading partners could lead to trade disruptions in significant export markets.”

They warned, “This kind of regulatory ambiguity has the potential to stifle the commercialization of new plant breeding innovation that is particularly valuable to specialty crop producers. Congress has invested significant resources in researching pest and disease challenges within the specialty crop sector. ... We appreciate your attention to our views and look forward to staying in close contact with the department as APHIS collects public comments on the NOI and makes decisions related to this sweeping regulatory revision.”

Kent team recognized for achievement

Kent team recognized for achievement

Personnel at the Kent Nutrition Group (KNG) manufacturing plant in Rockford, Ill., were recognized May 25 for their achievement of the American Feed Industry Assn.'s (AFIA) and Feedstuffs' 2015 Feed Mill of the Year award.

The award was officially presented to the management team during a ceremony in Atlanta, Ga., in late January during the International Production & Processing Expo. This week’s event paid tribute to the KNG team on location at the Rockford plant.

The Feed Mill of the Year program recognizes overall excellence in feed manufacturing operations, emphasizing safety, quality, regulatory compliance, operating efficiencies and overall industry awareness of feed safety.

"The big value here at the Rockford plant is our people," said Thomas Smolen, manager at the plant since 2005. "We have a top-notch workforce with 11 full-time staff who work as a true team. They understand how things work at the plant during both our eight-hour shifts. They understand how things are supposed to be done, and our employees are all cross-trained to help out as needed throughout the plant."

KNG president John Thorpe echoed that sentiment, saying, "Our employees have a sense of pride in their work as well as a commitment to doing that work right every day. They have a passion for turning out the top-quality products our customers have come to expect from Kent in the Midwest.

"It is this passion for quality that drives our innovation and fuels our success through stringent standards and shared ingenuity across our plants and our brands," Thorpe added.

The KNG Rockford plant, located at 1612 South Bend Rd., was constructed in 1964 and has the capacity to manufacture 20,000 tons of feed annually. The full-line facility is hazard analysis and critical control points certified and Safe Feed/Safe Food certified.

The plant produces feed for beef cattle, dairy cattle and swine, along with a growing line of specialty feeds for pheasants/game birds as well as llamas/alpacas. The plant serves a market area that includes the lower two-thirds of Wisconsin and the upper one-third of Illinois.

"Creating a quality product is job one for our team, and maintaining our facilities in 'audit-ready-all-the-time' condition is paramount with our Rockford group," Mike Gauss, KNG vice president of operations, said. "In fact, it is a priority at all of our facilities so that our teams produce the quality animal nutrition our customers trust them to deliver every day.

"We are proud of our Rockford team, which is so deserving of this recognition and who exemplify our company's commitment to quality, service and trust," he concluded.

"Kent Nutrition Group-Rockford should be applauded not only for its obligation to its customers but to its plant and the industry as a whole," said Gary Huddleston, AFIA manager of feed manufacturing safety and environmental affairs.

“The Feed Mill of the Year Award is very much an earned recognition. The entry process is extensive, and the competition intense,” Feedstuffs managing director and editor Sarah Muirhead said, noting that more than 60 feed facilities competed for this year’s award. Mills entering the competition must complete a lengthy online survey about their operations. Those scoring the highest are then visited by a team from AFIA and Feedstuffs for an on-site evaluation. At that point, final selection is done.

Kent is the KNG brand in the Midwest, and Blue Seal is the brand in the eastern U.S. KNG is a division of Kent Corp., a family-owned U.S. company with a history of innovation in animal nutrition. Other Kent Corp. food companies include Grain Processing Corp. and Kent Pet Group of Muscatine, Iowa, and Precision Foods Group of St. Louis, Mo.

Standardizing food date labels finds support

Up to 86% of consumers at least occasionally discard food prematurely because they misinterpret dates on the package to mean that the food is unsafe to eat. This confusion extends to businesses that also wind up discarding perfectly edible food.

Several witnesses during a House Agriculture Committee hearing on Wednesday said refining and standardizing the system of date labeling on food offers one of the most concrete steps to quickly reducing the amount of edible food being thrown out both in households and businesses.

The recent Food Date Labeling Act (H.R. 5298), introduced last week by Rep. Chellie Pingree, does just this. It creates two labels: one that says “expires on” for food that really is unsafe to eat after a certain date, and another that says “best if used by” for everything else. The bill would also make sure no states or local health departments could ban the donation of perfectly good food just because the date on the label has passed.

In addition, the witnesses said if a standardized system is established, it should also be followed up by a widespread campaign to educate consumers on the new standardized system and meaning.

The Food Marketing Institute (FMI) and the Grocery Manufacturers Assn. (GMA) said they, too, are working together to reduce consumer confusion on food date labeling.

Meghan Stasz, senior director of sustainability at GMA, testified that GMA and FMI believe a national date labeling standard is “critical in providing consumers with the clarity they need.”

Currently, 40 states have existing laws regulating food date labeling; this has created a patchwork of regulations on some products in some parts of the country and adds to the consumer confusion.

When panel members were asked whether it would support a federal solution to pre-empt the state regulations, all were in favor.

Emily Broad Leib, director of Harvard Law School's Food Law & Policy Clinic, said the various state laws clearly show that date labeling is not based on a standard safety decision.

Stasz said it would also be beneficial if any date labeling changes could be coordinated with changes to the Nutrition Facts label.

House Agriculture Committee ranking member Collin Peterson (D., Minn.) warned that Pingree's proposal gets several different agencies involved and, in the end, could potentially create a worse situation.

“I agree with the goal of the (Pingree) bill but am concerned on the way this is structured,” Peterson said. “When you get different agencies involved, by the time you're done, you're not going to recognize what you're trying to accomplish. I think we have to be careful how we do this.”

Opportunities ahead

Dana Gunders, senior scientist at the Natural Resources Defense Council, said engaging the public is critical because much waste occurs in households and by consumers in restaurants, so addressing it will require a change in consumer behavior.

She added that, unlike many thorny issues, food waste feels solvable. “No one wants to waste food, and somehow, people strangely love diving into this topic. ... Because there are direct savings to be had, this enthusiasm has extended to the businesses and entrepreneurial communities as well,” Gunders said.

Several witnesses provided examples of communities and nonprofits finding unique solutions to the food waste problem. One witness was Jesse Fink, a successful entrepreneur who is the driving force behind a new report — "ReFED — A Roadmap to Reduce US Food Waste" — that takes a comprehensive and objective look at the causes of food waste and identifies cost-effective and efficient solutions.

“Producers have done such a good job of creating an abundant food supply that a lot of folks don't think twice about tossing out food that may not look perfect or has surpassed a 'best by' or 'sell by' date stamped on the box,” Peterson said.

“This is a challenge, but I also think it presents a great opportunity for production agriculture," he added. "While many have no problem throwing food away, many Americans are still struggling to feed their families. There is a role for farmers and ranchers to play. They can — and should — step up to the plate to meet these needs."

House Agriculture Committee chairman Michael Conaway (R., Texas) said Wednesday's hearing may be the first time his committee has publicly engaged on this issue, “but it will not be the last.”

House committee advances WRDA bill

The House Transportation & Infrastructure Committee approved the 2016 Water Resources Development Act (WRDA), which agricultural groups said is in an important step toward more frequent and thorough oversight of the U.S. inland waterway system and U.S. harbors.

The National Grain & Feed Assn. (NGFA) said it will continue to advocate for certain provisions not included in the House bill as it advances to floor consideration, including an increase in the monetary threshold for major waterway rehabilitation projects.

Congress enacted a sweeping and significant WRDA bill in 2014. The two previous bills were separated by seven years, but Congress now is committed to completing a bill every two years, which NGFA hailed as a significant development.

The 2016 WRDA continues the welcomed reforms of the 2014 legislation by authorizing U.S. Army Corps of Engineers civil works projects and addressing continued reforms in the Harbor Maintenance Trust Fund, which supports the dredging and expansion of U.S. ports and waterways.

Attention to U.S. waterways infrastructure is necessary to compete in a global marketplace, NGFA noted. This year, completion of the project to expand the Panama Canal will enable transit by much larger vessels.

"Other countries are continuing to invest in their own water resources infrastructure, and the U.S. must compete," said Bobby Frederick, NGFA director of legislative affairs and public policy. "We appreciate the commitment from lawmakers to invest the resources and attention these issues deserve through regular oversight and the biannual WRDA process. This commitment demonstrates the importance of waterborne transportation for all aspects of the American economy and will help ensure that our nation's infrastructure is primed for growth."

The Inland Waterways Trust Fund supports the construction of major rehabilitation projects on the nation's waterway system. In an effort to ensure proper maintenance and protect the fund's dollars, NGFA is urging an increase in the major rehabilitation threshold from the current $20 million in the House WRDA bill. While the committee did not include the provision in this year's legislation, NGFA said it appreciates the support of Reps. Jimmy Duncan (R., Tenn.) and Dan Lipinski (D., Ill.), who championed a proposal to increase the threshold to $35 million as an amendment during the markup.

In a statement to Feedstuffs, the National Corn Growers Assn. (NCGA) also praised the amendment to adjust the threshold for what constitutes a major rehabilitation project.

NGFA said it is pleased that this year's WRDA bill authorizes 28 "Chief's Reports," or final recommendations from the Corps to Congress on infrastructure project priorities.

The 2016 WRDA bill continues to allow full spending of annual receipts of the Harbor Maintenance Trust Fund to be utilized by 2025 and also makes permanent a 10% set-aside of the trust fund's resources for small ports.

NGFA said it supports the omission of any language in the bill to authorize tolling or lockage fees on U.S. waterways.

NCGA said it looks forward to swift consideration and passage of this bill by the full House.

Minnesota, Land O'Lakes partner to improve water quality

Minnesota Gov. Mark Dayton and Land O’Lakes Inc. president and chief executive officer Chris Policinski announced May 25 a new public/private partnership to protect and improve water quality across Minnesota.

According to Dayton's office, this new partnership is the first of its kind in the nation, partnering the state of Minnesota with Land O’Lakes and local farmers across Minnesota to improve water quality stewardship standards on their farms.

The Minnesota Agricultural Water Quality Certification Program is a voluntary program that enables farmers and landowners to take the lead in implementing conservation practices that protect and improve the state’s water resources. Since its inception in 2014, the program has certified more than 150 farms totaling more than 83,000 acres. Together, the program keeps more than 6.5 million lb. of sediment out of the state's rivers while saving nearly 9 million lb. of soil and 4,500 lb. of phosphorous on farms each year, according to the announcement.

Now, through the partnership with Land O'Lakes, the agricultural cooperative company will work to expand participation in the Minnesota Agricultural Water Quality Certification Program through its agricultural retail network across Minnesota.

Altogether, Land O'Lakes’ seed and crop protection business, Winfield US, serves nearly 1,300 independently owned and operated agricultural retailers that operate thousands of retail locations across the U.S., with approximately 300,000 farmers in their system representing close to 100 million acres. The company’s leadership and participation in this nation-leading conservation effort will make a positive and significant difference toward improving the quality of water in Minnesota for generations to come, the announcement said.

“Water is a finite resource, and we are pleased to partner with the Minnesota Department of Agriculture and the state of Minnesota on this first-of-its-kind public/private partnership to protect and enhance water quality across the state," Policinski said. “Through our tools, insights and technology, we work to enable prudent management of water resources in our operations, on our member farms and through partnerships such as this to ensure a sustainable future for food and agriculture.”

Minnesota agriculture commissioner Dave Frederickson said the state is "pleased to partner with Land O’Lakes. This important partnership will be critical to expanding conservation and water quality protections to more farms across the state. The Minnesota Agricultural Water Quality Certification Program has already demonstrated the ability to achieve improved water quality outcomes, and this partnership will only continue to enhance those efforts.”

The certification program is a voluntary opportunity for farmers and agricultural landowners to take the lead in implementing conservation practices that protect water resources. Those who implement and maintain approved farm management practices will be certified and, in turn, will obtain regulatory certainty for a period of 10 years. After a successful pilot phase in 2014-15, the program is now available to farmers and landowners statewide. More information is available at MyLandMyLegacy.com.

Land O'Lakes is a member-owned cooperative with industry-leading operations that span the spectrum from agricultural production to consumer foods. With 2015 annual sales of $13 billion, Land O'Lakes is one of the nation's largest cooperatives.

GAO report examines meat, poultry workforce safety

A new report from the Government Accountability Office (GAO) highlights the improved worker safety record of the meat and poultry industry over the last 10 years, according to the North American Meat Institute (NAMI).

Based on the most recent data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), 2014 incidence rates for non-fatal occupational injuries and illnesses reached a new, all-time industry low of 5.5 cases per 100 full-time workers per year. Historic BLS data reveal that the meat and poultry industry has shown continuous improvement over the years, nearly halving the injury and illness rate from 9.8 per 100 workers in 2004, the last time the GAO published a report on worker safety in the meat and poultry industry, NAMI said in a statement.

While the report raises concerns about recordkeeping in the industry, a recent Occupational Safety & Health Administration (OSHA) special emphasis evaluating recordkeeping in the meat and poultry industry and several others did not find regular under-recording of injuries, as alleged in the GAO report.

“Worker safety has been a key priority in the meat industry over the last 25 years, and the positive results of our efforts are clear,” NAMI president and chief executive officer Barry Carpenter said. “There is always room for improvement, and we will look closely at the GAO recommendations to see how they can best be implemented in the industry.”

Much of the improvement in worker safety over the years can be attributed to two major efforts initiated by the meat industry beginning in 1990, NAMI said. That year, the U.S. meat industry, together with OSHA and the United Food & Commercial Workers union, developed "Voluntary Ergonomic Guidelines for the Meat Packing Industry" — guidelines that OSHA called a “model” for other industries.

The National Chicken Council, the National Turkey Federation and the U.S. Poultry & Egg Assn. issued a joint statement noting that they fully cooperated with GAO for more than a year, through stakeholder interviews and processing plant visits, as GAO worked on its report.

The poultry organizations said they are pleased to see the report emphasize the fact that injuries and illnesses have decreased dramatically in the poultry processing industry over the past several years.

U.S. poultry processors highlighted advancements in worker safety and the ongoing efforts for continued improvement. The incidence of occupational injuries and illnesses within the poultry sector’s slaughter and processing workforce has decreased 81% in the last 20 years and continues to decline, according to the BLS 2014 "Injury & Illness Report."

In fact, the poultry processing industry’s injury and illness rate of 4.3 is on par with all manufacturing jobs and is decreasing at a much faster rate. This rate also is much lower than all food manufacturing in general, the poultry groups said.

Perhaps more than any other industry, the poultry industry has focused its energies on the prevention of workplace injuries and illnesses — especially musculoskeletal disorders like carpal tunnel syndrome — by recognizing the value of implementing ergonomics and medical intervention principles and working with OSHA to develop guidelines that further help protect the workforce, the groups said.

In addition to OSHA records, plant medical clinics/first aid stations maintain records of each visit. Each plant has a safety manager on site whose role includes accident investigation and root cause analysis for the explicit purpose of reducing future reoccurrences.

Poultry processing was included in a recent OSHA National Emphasis Program on recordkeeping, and no extensive violations of underreporting were identified.

While the past 20 years has seen a dramatic decrease in the numbers and rates of injury and illnesses, the poultry industry said it will continue to seek new and innovative ways to protect its workforce, including data collection and record keeping.

The GAO report was requested by Sen. Patty Murray (D., Wash.), ranking member of the Senate Health, Education, Labor & Pensions Committee.

"All workers should have access to a safe and healthy workplace and be able to earn a living without fearing for their safety,” Murray said. “I will continue to push to make sure every worker, in every industry, has the safe work environment they deserve.”

She called on the U.S. Department of Labor to strengthen data collection on worker injuries and illnesses and improve classification of employment and illnesses.

The GAO report is available at www.gao.gov/products/GAO-16-337.

Soybeans charge higher; soybean meal sets contract highs: Podcast

Soybeans charged higher on Wednesday and are now higher for the week, helped by strong gains in soybean meal, which set contact highs in the two lead months.

The gains in soybeans helped pull corn and winter wheat higher. Spring wheat was a fraction lower at midday.

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

Vector-borne disease research gains funding

For the second time in two years, Abaxis, a medical and veterinary technology company, has provided a $250,000 gift to the Center of Excellence for Vector-Borne Diseases in the Kansas State University College of Veterinary Medicine.

The center is an interdisciplinary research center with a mission to combat vector-borne diseases with a focus on pathogenesis, surveillance and disease prevention.

"The Abaxis foundation support is very valuable in promoting our new center and also for scientific advancement of vector-borne diseases of importance to domestic and agricultural animals as well as to improve the health of people," said Roman Ganta, professor of diagnostic medicine and pathobiology and director of the center.

In 2015, Abaxis gave a separate $250,000 gift that was used to help establish the center. This year, the funding will support several new projects, including a collaborative research project on Rocky Mountain spotted fever that is focused on evaluating pathogenesis, immunity and vaccine development.

"We hope to discover new knowledge about the disease and development of vaccines, which may aid greatly in improving the health of both companion animals and people," Ganta said. "Scientifically, we expect to publish several research papers and use data from the study to secure federal funding to continue the collaborative research on this important disease."

The Center of Excellence for Vector-Borne Diseases also plans to use part of the Abaxis foundation funding for a heartwater research project.

"Heartwater is an important foreign animal disease of domestic and wild ruminants, including cattle, goats and sheep. It is caused by the tick-transmitted rickettsial pathogen Ehrlichia ruminantium," Ganta said. "E. ruminantium introduction into the American mainland can result in mortality rates up to 80-90% in (domesticated) and wild ruminants."

The U.S. Department of Agriculture has identified heartwater as an important agricultural foreign animal threat, Ganta said.

"As there are no approved drugs or vaccines against heartwater disease in the U.S., the primary goal of this project is to study its pathogenesis and immunology, ... develop and evaluate a sensitive molecular diagnostic test and, finally, evaluate attenuated and sub-unit vaccines," he said. "We believe that our efforts will not only keep the U.S. cattle industry safe from this important foreign animal disease threat but also, ultimately, lead to improved milk and meat production in sub-Saharan Africa and also contribute in protecting global food systems."

Both the Rocky Mountain spotted fever and heartwater projects involve the use of Kansas State University's Biosecurity Research Institute.

"We, at Abaxis, are pleased to be able to continue providing support for the new Center of Excellence for Vector-Borne Diseases," said Dr. Ken Aron, chief technology officer at Abaxis.

Abaxis develops, manufactures, markets and sells portable blood analysis systems for use in veterinary or human patient care setting to provide clinicians with rapid blood constituent measurements.

NGFA updates new trucking-related trade rules

On May 20, 2016, the National Grain & Feed Assn.'s (NGFA) board of directors voted to approve final a version of NGFA's newest trading rules related to the transportation of grain and feed products by truck.

The new truck-related additions amend NGFA Grain Trade Rule 12 to spell out the responsibilities of both buyers and sellers for grain transported by truck and sold based on either destination or origin grades. The newly adopted provisions also amend NGFA Feed Trade Rule 18 regarding truck shipments of feed products whose condition is guaranteed upon arrival at the destination.

These new rules, which are designed to reflect current industry trade practice, were developed over the course of several years by a specially assigned task force under the direction of the NGFA board and the NGFA Trade Rules Committee.

In response to inquiries from an arbitration committee that had been involved in a case involving the delivery of allegedly contaminated grain by truck, the board and Trade Rules Committee first noted that the NGFA trade rules at the time provided significantly for other modes of transportation (rail and barge), but corollary rules for trucking largely were absent.

Input from the industry then was sought (including individuals with expertise and responsibility for NGFA member companies specifically involving truck transportation), and in 2012, a broad, specially assigned task force was assembled to more closely review the rules.

The task force then went through each of the rules. The initial scope was focused first on 26 sections of the Grain Trade Rules and Feed Trade Rules. Many were determined to be better left as is. So, in the end, the task force and full committee considered changes that affected seven of the Grain Trade Rules and three of the Feed Trade Rules. Last year, the task force completed its initial review, and both the Trade Rules Committee and board of directors voted to approve those initial recommendations, which then were ratified by the membership during NGFA's annual business meeting in March 2016.

Based on additional questions related to these rules that arose during NGFA's annual convention in March 2016, NGFA committed to resuming the review process in a deliberate and expedited manner. The previously established task force was re-engaged and expanded.

The focus of the latest effort was on provisions in the rules for grain and feed trade related to the obligations of contracting parties concerning testing and reporting of truck shipments, particularly at their destination. The concern that arose was that the latest provisions did not accommodate the wide range of possible scenarios to which the rules could be interpreted to apply.

After an extensive series of conference calls and exchanges of written materials, the task force on April 28 unanimously approved a set of amendments to submit to the full Trade Rules Committee for a vote. Those amendments then were presented on April 29 to the full committee for approval by electronic ballot. All but two of the total 33 members of the committee cast their ballots on or before the established deadline. Each ballot cast indicated "approval" of the proposed changes.

On May 9, the NGFA Executive Committee was asked to consider a proposal to request that the board vote on the new amendments by electronic ballot. This procedure is provided for under the NGFA bylaws and was proposed to provide for the expedience desired and avoid the need for an in-person meeting of the board to implement these changes. By the established deadline of May 11, a clear majority of the Executive Committee had voted in favor of the proposal to make the request to the board for an electronic vote.

The amendments then were submitted to the NGFA board on May 12 for an electronic vote. By the established deadline of May 20, a clear majority of the board (50 of the 60 members) voted in favor of the amendments. No votes against the amendments were cast.

NGFA appreciates the efforts and diligence in this process from the various NGFA committees and member company employees. The following member companies had representatives on the task force and/or the Trade Rules Committee: Livestock Nutrition Center, Commodity Specialists Co., Archer Daniels Midland Co., Trupointe Cooperative, CHS Inc., MFA Inc., Crossroads Cooperative, Bartlett Grain, APEX LLC, Parrish & Heimbecker, Purina Animal Nutrition, CGB, CPI, Stratford Grain, Central States Enterprises Inc., Cargill Inc., Farmers Grain Terminal, POET Nutrition, Gavilon Grain LLC, Perdue AgriBusiness LLC, Foster Commodities, Harris-Crane Inc., AgSpring Co., Louis Dreyfus Commodities, Bunge North America Inc., Jayhawker Consulting Co. LLC, Midwest Grain LLC, Zen-Noh Grain Corp., FGDI LLC, Tate & Lyle Ingredients Americas Inc., Ingram Barge Co., The Scoular Co. and The Andersons Inc.

Under the NGFA bylaws, the final version of the newly revised rules goes into effect on June 19 and will be subject to ratification by the membership at the upcoming business meeting. On June 19, these further amendments to the trade rules will be incorporated into the online version available publicly through the Trade Rules section of the NGFA website. Shortly after that date, updated printed copies of the trade rules and arbitration rules also will be available by contacting NGFA.