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Articles from 2020 In September

Boehringer Ingelheim, Fraunhofer IME collaborate on parasites

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Boehringer Ingelheim and Fraunhofer Institute for Molecular Biology & Applied Ecology IME announced a newly formed collaboration that aims to provide novel, microbial-based natural products for development of next-generation animal health products fighting parasitic diseases.

The research project will capitalize on a well-characterized microbial strain collection from Fraunhofer in major parts isolated from invertebrate-associated environments, the announcement said.

“Enhancing the well-being of animals and humans whose lives are so deeply interconnected is a priority for us at Boehringer Ingelheim. We strive to provide naturally derived and environmentally sustainable parasiticides to make a positive difference in animals’ lives through groundbreaking innovation,” said Paul Selzer, head of molecular discovery at Boehringer Ingelheim Animal Health.

“Fraunhofer is an experienced organization, well known to be able to successfully identify new lead structures by using organisms as biological resource. Within this new partnership, we will integrate the Fraunhofer Natural Product Discovery Platform into our parasiticides innovation program. This exciting project is the first of our new strategic collaborations, which we are actively expanding,” Selzer said.

According to the announcement, this collaboration is one of many efforts within Boehringer Ingelheim’s commitment to contribute to a more sustainable future for people and the planet.

“Having previously focused on projects in human pharma and crop protection, we are now eager for our technologies to enter the veterinary sector. Bringing together the expertise within both Fraunhofer and Boehringer Ingelheim, we will leverage the discovery of new natural-product chemistries as starting points to develop naturally derived animal health solutions,” Fraunhofer IME department head natural products Till Schäberle said. “We appreciate the trust that Boehringer Ingelheim puts in our ideas on how to approach biodiversity, since the usage of bioresources has to be necessarily facilitated by advancing existing and developing new technologies. We believe that our state-of-the-art Natural Product Discovery Platform, and especially our analytical capabilities, will promote the efficient discovery of new bioactive lead structures.”

Financial terms of the agreement were not disclosed.

Fraunhofer IME, with more than 530 employees at its six sites in Germany, conducts research in the field of applied life sciences from a molecular level to entire ecosystems in the areas of pharmacy, medicine, chemistry and agriculture as well as environmental and consumer protection. Its mission is the development and use of novel technologies for diagnosis and therapy of human and animal diseases as well as the protection of crop plants and food sources.

Boehringer Ingelheim Animal Health is the second-largest animal health business in the world, with net sales of 4 billion euros in 2019 and a presence in more than 150 countries.

Names in the News: October 2020

Rawpixel/iStock/Getty Images Names in the News business people silhouettes

To submit an announcement for Names in the News, please email it to Kristin Bakker at [email protected]


AG PROCESSING INC., Omaha, Neb. — Kyle Droescher has been named group vice president and chief financial officer, effective January 2021. Droescher was most recently vice president of finance.

Ernie Kiley will retire as senior vice president of operations at the end of 2020.

Lou Rickers has been promoted to vice president of operations. Rickers was most recently senior director of operations.

Scott Simmelink will retire as group vice president and chief financial officer at the end of 2020.


BIMEDA BIOLOGICALS, Oakbrook Terrace, Ill. — Paul Lawrence has been appointed research and development director. Lawrence will manage and provide strategic direction in the development of U.S. Department of Agriculture-approved products and development of autogenous vaccines, with a primary focus on establishing support of the swine autogenous business and the diagnostic lab and research facilities. He was previously with Pipestone Veterinary Services.


BIOZYME INC., St. Joseph, Mo. — Sarah Cravens has joined the company as general counsel. Cravens will interpret laws across borders within the U.S. and abroad to help grow the business and help others better understand the laws and their legal implications in the various places the company conducts business. She was previously with Missouri Western State University.

Kori McLaughlin has joined the company as area sales manager for Iowa. McLaughlin will work to develop new dealerships and build upon current dealer and customer relationships while promoting company product lines. She was previously with Sperry Union Store.


BROCK GRAIN SYSTEMS, Milford, Ind. — Eric Rydin has been named business unit controller. Rydin will be responsible for cost accounting, financial reporting and operational results. He was most recently multi-site financial controller for the Kansas City, Mo., facility and for the subsidiary companies of LeMar Industries in Des Moines and Sheffield, Iowa, and Midwest Bearing & Supply in Des Moines.


BW INTEGRATED SYSTEMS, Romeoville, Ill. — Heather Spitler has been promoted to vice president of culture and people development. Spitler will focus on creating harmony between people and performance. She was most recently director of culture and people development.


CJ BIO AMERICA, Downers Grove, Ill. — Dr. Roshan Adhikari has joined the company as product development manager. Adhikari will provide technical assistance to customers, identify opportunities for market growth and conduct collaborative research with academic institutions. He was previously with Kerry Inc.


D&D INGREDIENT DISTRIBUTORS INC., Delphos, Ohio — Quinton Langhals has joined the Consignment Business Group as inventory consignment specialist. Langhals will be responsible for managing assigned, consigned inventory and shipments of ingredients used in animal food products. He also will help ensure that goods are delivered on time and in compliance with business partner requirements.


HELIAE AGRICULTURE, Gilbert, Ariz. — Julia Engler has joined the company regional sales manager. Engler will work with distributors and retail partners in the Wisconsin and Illinois region to implement the PhycoTerra product line into recommended grower applications.

Porter Phelps has joined the company as regional sales manager. Phelps will work with distributors and retail partners in the Kansas, Oklahoma and Texas region to implement the PhycoTerra product line into recommended grower applications.


HELIAE DEVELOPMENT LLC, Gilbert, Ariz. — B. Pratyusha Chennupati has joined the company as regulatory affairs manager. Chennupati will strategically plan implementation of the registration process and analyze regulations worldwide to help guide regulatory and compliance strategies.


HENDRIX GENETICS, Boxmeer, Netherlands — Claudio Larrain has joined the company as sales and marketing manager aquaculture in Chile. Larrain will generate long-term commercial relationships and build new strategies to increase the value of the product portfolio for the Chilean salmonid market. He was previously with DSM Nutritional Products Chile.


MERCK ANIMAL HEALTH, Madison, N.J. — Dr. Jeroen van de Ven has been named leader of the newly formed Merck Animal Health Intelligence operating unit. Van de Ven was most recently chief operating officer of Antelliq (now Merck Animal Health Intelligence).


MICHIGAN POTASH & SALT CO. LLC, Evart, Mich. — Cory Christofferson has joined the company as chief development officer. Christofferson will focus on positioning the company for investment and growth.

Jeff Kummer has joined the company as chief operating officer. Kummer was previously with SaaS.


PERDUE AGRIBUSINESS, Salisbury, Md. — Scott Fredericksen has been appointed president. Fredericksen was most recently executive vice president.


PLUTON BIOSCIENCES, St. Louis, Mo. — Elizabeth Scherer has joined the company as research associate. Scherer will be responsible for DNA extraction, data collection/reporting/organization and writing protocols, as well as assisting with project management and workflow, including organizing and processing soil samples to isolate and identify specific microbes.

Farhan William has joined the company as research associate. William will be responsible for culturing, preparing and maintaining microbes, plus hatching and maintaining mosquito larvae for research. He also will conduct assays, create protocols and collect and report data.


RABOBANK, New York, N.Y. — Roland Fumasi has been appointed to lead the RaboResearch Food & Agribusiness team in North America. Fumasi was most recently manager of the Fresno, Cal., RaboResearch team.


RALCO, Marshall, Minn. — Dr. Tim Broderick has joined the company as poultry research and development manager. Broderick will be responsible for research and development of products for the poultry industry and will provide technical and nutritional support to poultry customers regarding health challenges and meeting their production goals.


TIGRIS, Middlesex, N.C. — Matt Heinze has joined the company as western U.S. regional manager. Heinze will manage the western U.S. and Pacific Northwest territory. He was previously with Verdesian Life Sciences..


VERSOVA, Des Moines, Iowa — Dr. Stacey Roberts has joined the company as director of nutrition and will lead the pullet and layer nutrition program across the family of farms in Iowa and Ohio. Roberts will research and implement new technologies in pullet and layer nutrition to improve efficiencies and sustainability and utilize a data-driven approach to continually refine the nutrition program. She also will work with the feed milling and production teams to ensure that each flock's nutrient needs are met through ingredient and complete feed quality control programs. She was previously with Cargill.


VES, Chippewa Falls, Wis. — John McBride announced his retirement as co-founder and former chief executive officer of the company.


VIRTUS NUTRITION, Corcoran, Cal. — Dr. Douglas Waterman has been named eastern technical sales director. Waterman will oversee technical services and direct sales in the Upper Midwest, Great Lakes and Northeast regions.

Feeding for Profit

Encapsulated nitrate source may reduce cattle methane emissions

Photo credit: Nicolas DiLorenzo U Florida cattle-methane-featured2.jpg
The sulfur hexafluoride tracer technique allows scientists to measure the amount of methane emitted from the animal’s mouth and nose.

For several decades, researchers have been looking for ways to reduce the methane produced in the bovine rumen. New research by Nicolas DiLorenzo with the University of Florida and others shows that a small change to cattle diets can reduce the animals’ methane emissions by 11%. These findings are a step toward reducing greenhouse gas emissions from livestock.

The study was led by Darren Henry, a graduate from the University of Florida Institute of Food & Agricultural Sciences' (IFAS) College of Agricultural & Life Sciences who is now an assistant professor in the department of animal and food sciences at Texas Tech University. The study was part of Henry’s doctoral research directed by DiLorenzo and received funding support from the National Institute of Food & Agriculture.

The researchers discovered that cattle produced less methane when a supplement commonly given to grass-fed cattle was replaced with a supplement that provided the same nutrition but had different chemical properties.

“The rumen is where bacteria ferment the food the cow eats, helping break it down and allowing the cow to absorb more energy and nutrients from the food,” said DiLorenzo, an associate professor of animal sciences at the IFAS North Florida Research & Education Center.

Previous research has indicated that nitrates interrupt the chemical reactions that allow methanogens to produce methane. The University of Florida researchers wanted to test if feeding nitrates to cattle would have the same effect. In the experiment, they introduced nitrates by swapping out urea for encapsulated calcium-ammonium nitrate (eCAN).

“Diets of grass-fed cattle are often deficient in protein, so urea is used to supplement protein,” DiLorenzo said. “The thinking was: What if we used a different substance that would provide protein like urea does but had properties that would affect methane production?”

The researchers fed eCAN to cattle by mixing it into molasses, a traditional vehicle for urea, to ensure that the cattle would consume the eCAN provided.

“The eCAN looks like Dippin’ Dots ice cream and allows for the slow release of the calcium-ammonium nitrate in the rumen,” DiLorenzo said.

To measure how much methane the cattle produced when fed eCAN, the researchers used the sulfur hexafluoride tracer technique, which uses a U-shaped canister attached to a halter on the cow’s head. Small tubes connected to the canister sit above the cow’s nostrils. The device allows scientists to measure the amount of methane emitted from the animal’s mouth and nose.

Compared with cattle that were given urea, cattle that consumed eCAN produced 11% less methane, DiLorenzo noted, adding, “This is quite a large reduction and an exciting result.”

The study was published in Journal of Animal Science.

EU placed on alert for new avian flu outbreaks

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European Union countries are being urged to step up surveillance and biosecurity measures to guard against possible new outbreaks of avian influenza this year, according to the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA).

Meanwhile, a $3 million study aims to develop computer models to forecast and control avian influenza outbreaks, according to The Roslin Institute, which is leading the study.

The EFSA warning follows outbreaks of highly pathogenic avian influenza (HPAI) among wild and domesticated birds in western Russia and Kazakhstan over the past few months. This region is a known autumn migration route for wild water birds heading to Europe.

Northern and Eastern Europe are likely to be the most vulnerable to new outbreaks, given past experience, EFSA said. When HPAI was detected in the same area of Russia in the summers of 2005 and 2016, epidemics followed in Northern and Eastern Europe. If the pattern is repeated this year, HPAI is expected to arrive in the same areas of Europe in autumn or winter. Subsequent spread to countries in Southern and Western Europe is also possible.

The alert is included in the latest update on avian influenza in Europe and beyond. The new report — which is compiled by EFSA, the European Centre for Disease Prevention & Control (ECDC) and the EU reference laboratory for avian influenza — covers May to August 2020.

The report recommends that, in accordance with EU legislation on risk mitigation and early detection systems for HPAI, EU countries should:

  • Take measures to detect suspected cases of HPAI promptly, and increase biosecurity measures at poultry farms.
  • Warn veterinary and wildlife health authorities of the likely risk of HPAI introduction, and urge them to carry out observation and prompt testing of dead or sick wild birds.

EFSA said virus spread is likely to be triggered by a sudden and persistent fall in temperatures in central Russia and Kazakhstan. Several studies demonstrated that cold weather conditions led to the rapid westward expansion of the HPAI virus via infected migratory birds during the 2005-06 and 2016-17 waves.

The risk of transmission of avian influenza viruses to the general public in Europe remains very low. However, to minimize the risk of transmission, people are advised not to not touch dead birds without wearing appropriate personal protective equipment, EFSA said.

Prediction tool

The Roslin Institute reported that an international research consortium is developing a new tool that can understand and forecast how the avian flu virus evolves as well as the risk associated with new virus strains.

The tool will be the first to predict factors that are currently difficult to forecast, such as whether new virus strains will cause serious harm, the institute said, noting that output from the tool could benefit vaccine development and control strategies to prevent future outbreaks.

The $3 million study is funded by the U.S. National Science Foundation, the U.K. Biotechnology & Biological Sciences Research Council and the National Natural Science Foundation of China. It is a collaboration with the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s National Poultry Research Center, the University of Georgia and the Chinese Academy of Sciences’ Institute of Microbiology.

Avian flu can cause "massive economic losses in global food production, as it infects pigs as well as poultry," Roslin said. Producing vaccines is difficult because of the variety and changeability of flu strains.

Roslin explained that the prediction tool will combine three computer models and will use more than 1 million data entries of the virus’ genetic makeup that are derived from global surveillance programs. 

The Roslin Institute.Roslin genetic_data_bird_flu_1000px.jpg

In this map, calculated from genetic data, bird flu starts in Eastern Asia and spreads to Europe via wild birds.

Roslin said one model will identify key changes in the virus genome that influence its behavior; another will predict how the virus evolves within a bird as it adapts to different immune conditions, and the third will integrate outputs from the first two with additional geographic and other data.

The models will be tested for accuracy in laboratory experiments.

"Bird flu is a health and economic burden worldwide, and tackling the virus is a big challenge. The computer models that will be developed in this study could be used to inform vaccination and other control strategies and prevent future outbreaks," study lead professor and Roslin chair of virology Paul Digard said.

The institute said the model development will be informed by a series of workshops to gather input on viral evolution risk and predictions from stakeholders such as the World Organization for Animal Health, the World Health Organization and poultry stakeholders to ensure useful outputs.

"Advances in computational approaches, combined with the large amounts of sequencing data available, mean that it is possible to develop modeling tools with genuine predictive power of the evolution and spread of bird flu," Roslin research group leader Dr. Samantha Lycett added.

Ceva inaugurates first autovaccine reference site in Europe

A year after the presentation of its global hub for companion animal innovation in Laval, France, Ceva Santé Animale, a leading veterinary biopharmaceutical company based in France, announced that it is once again reinforcing its regional stronghold.

On Sept. 29, Ceva inaugurated its first European benchmark site near Angers, France, for the design and industrial manufacturing of bacterial autovaccines (also known as autogenous vaccines), primarily for pigs and poultry.

The Angers-based Biovac laboratory, a leader in French bacterial autovaccines and reagents, has been part of Ceva since June 2016. The site became Ceva Biovac and has invested more than 8 million euros (16% of which was subsidized by the Regional Council of Pays de la Loire) for it to become a European reference site at the forefront of innovation.

Ceva Biovac's aim is to fight infectious diseases in farming and offer an alternative to antibiotics by developing the manufacturing and industrial production of veterinary bacterial autovaccines. Autovaccines are a custom solution for veterinarians and farmers manufactured directly from disease strains collected from animals on a specific farm, Ceva explained.

Ceva Biovac is equipped with the highest-performing biological technologies, bringing optimal security and surpassing all European and international regulations. The tailored manufacturing offers flexibility in terms of the size of batches (one to 200 liters) and a production capacity of 300 batches per week.

Today, Ceva owns four sites dedicated to autovaccines around the world — in Germany, Canada, the U.S. and the U.K. — although the goal of the Ceva Biovac campus in Angers is to become a test site in terms of process and research and development that will, in turn, be replicated internationally, Ceva said.

“Ceva is firmly committed to prevention. Vaccines represent almost 50% of our portfolio of products. This strategy illustrates our efforts in the fight against [antibiotic resistance] and aims to place veterinarians at the heart of the fight against microbial diseases. Along with vaccines, autovaccines are an alternative to medication and a major tool for reducing the use of antibiotics in the livestock sector,” Ceva Santé Animale chairman and chief executive officer Dr. Marc Prikazsky said.

IDF announces development of Global School Milk Knowledge Hub

IDF announces development of Global School Milk Knowledge Hub

On World School Milk Day 2020, the International Dairy Federation (IDF) has announced the next step in its school milk development work. On Sept. 30, more than 100 participants from around the world joined IDF for a virtual seminar that discussed its latest bulletin on school milk programs, and speakers from the U.S. and India presented case studies of current programs and their important impact on childhood nutrition.

Nearly 160 million children around the world currently receive and benefit from dedicated school milk programs.

In addition to celebrations for the day, IDF also announced its latest project: development of a Global School Milk Knowledge Hub, to be launched in early 2021.

This interactive online hub will bring together important information on the role of milk and dairy products in healthy diets produced by sustainable food systems and the U.N.'s Sustainable Development Goals. It will provide case study examples and data to assist those wishing to implement school milk programs in their country and will be an invaluable source of information for those who want to learn more about school milk programs worldwide, according to IDF, which will bring together all of this information.

“On World School Milk Day 2020, we’re proud to announce that IDF is preparing to take an exciting next step towards achieving its vision of ‘Helping to Nourish the World with Safe & Sustainable Dairy’ with an announcement of the imminent launch of our Global School Milk Knowledge Hub. We look forward to sharing further details over the next few months,” IDF director general Caroline Emond said.

IDF noted that school milk programs play an important role in the nutrition of children. Evidence showing the multiple benefits generated through school feeding programs is growing. Research has demonstrated that the school environment can have a major impact on attitudes toward food, with school milk programs encouraging healthy eating habits and helping address malnutrition. Analysis shows that a quality education, combined with a guaranteed package of health and nutrition interventions at school such as the feeding programs, can contribute to child and adolescent development.

IDF is a leading source of scientific and technical expertise for all stakeholders of the dairy chain. Since 1903, IDF has provided a mechanism for the dairy sector to reach a global consensus on how to help feed the world with safe and sustainable dairy products.

Elanco restructures following Bayer Animal Health acquisition


Elanco Animal Health Inc. announced Sept. 30 its first business restructuring just two months following the closing of its acquisition of Bayer Animal Health.

Elanco said it has also started its de-leveraging process by making a $100 million payment on its term loan.

Company leadership has quickly evaluated the capabilities, structure and staffing of the combined business required to meet its goal of being an "agile, fit-for-purpose global leader dedicated exclusively to animal health," the announcement said.

As part of this effort, Elanco announced its intent to eliminate more than 900 positions across nearly 40 countries, primarily in sales and marketing but also research and development, manufacturing, quality and back-office support.

Elanco said these actions will begin to reduce duplication, drive efficiency and optimize the company’s footprint across geographies, particularly in Basel, Switzerland, which had been a key location for Bayer Animal Health.

The outlined initiatives are the first phase of Elanco’s disciplined process to capture greater value, the announcement said. These efforts build on Elanco’s productivity agenda in its Innovation, Portfolio & Productivity (IPP) Strategy, which has included consolidating suppliers and contract manufacturers.

“The team has rapidly applied our historic integration experience to move with speed and decisiveness and capture initial synergies, even during the continued challenges created by the COVID-19 pandemic,” Elanco president and chief executive officer Jeff Simmons said. “After our early view of the combined business, we have full confidence in delivering $275 million to $300 million in synergies, with the first two-thirds coming in the first 30 months. Today’s actions will reduce duplication and increase efficiency within our global footprint while the team builds longer-term plans around procurement savings, SKU optimization and streamlining manufacturing processes.

"While decisions that affect our employees are always difficult, we remain committed to treating affected employees with our guiding value of respect and following all local consultation processes,” Simmons added.

Elanco noted that the cost of the proposed actions is expected to be between $190 million and $210 million, with approximately $170-190 million in severance and approximately $20 million in asset impairments and other charges. As part of the transaction with Bayer A.G., $35 million was reflected in the purchase price attributable to Elanco’s restructuring costs. Cash severance payments will be distributed over the next two years. Elanco expects to incur a restructuring charge of $130-145 million in the 2020 third quarter and $40-45 million in the fourth quarter. The remaining estimated $20 million will be incurred in 2021. Elanco expects to realize at least $100 million of annual compensation and benefits savings toward the planned synergy goal of $275-300 million.

“We see the deal rationale coming to life as we bring together our long-standing focus on the veterinarian with Bayer’s direct-to-consumer expertise to open new opportunities, particularly given pet owners’ increased desire to access care and products via online, retail, telemedicine and direct-to-the-doorstep channels,” Simmons said. “Our team is focused on making the tough decisions that drive value quickly while enabling our innovation and growth strategies. Most importantly, moving so fast in our commercial areas means we now have a larger, stronger team in place supporting customers to enhance our overall commercial competitiveness. Today’s proposed actions will ultimately better position us to advocate for our customers and to deliver solutions to their greatest unmet needs.”

De-leveraging begins

Elanco reported that it has also started repayment against its loan that funded the Bayer Animal Health acquisition. On Sept. 25, Elanco repaid $100 million of its $4.275 billion Term Loan B.

“With the acquisition closed and working capital needs established, we have sufficient liquidity to begin de-leveraging, thanks to strong cash flow in [the second quarter of] 2020,” said Todd Young, Elanco executive vice president and chief financial officer. “We will continue to repay debt from our operating cash flow in 2021 with a focus on our $500 million note, which is due in August 2021.”

Elanco Animal Health is a global leader in animal health dedicated to innovating and delivering products and services to prevent and treat disease in farm animals and pets, creating value for farmers, pet owners, veterinarians, stakeholders and society as a whole. With nearly 70 years of animal health heritage, it is committed to helping customers improve the health of animals in their care while also making a meaningful impact on local and global communities.

Biogenic crop rule could offer $240m in economic gains


The Biogenic CO2 Coalition, a working group of leading trade associations that support American agriculture, released a new economic impact analysis in support of its petition for a U.S. Environmental Protection Agency rule that biogenic carbon emissions from agricultural crops are de minimis and should not be regulated by the same standards as fossil fuels. The report demonstrates the significant economic benefit of that reform.

The report, conducted by the Policy Navigation Group, analyzed six industries across 13 states and revealed that the reform would result in the addition of 2,100 full-time U.S. jobs and $130 million in wages. Additionally, it would drive $27 million in federal tax payments and $17 million in state and local tax payments. The potential economic gains for these industries would reach $240 million in a single year.

“The potential economic impact of EPA rule-making to clarify the regulatory treatment of carbon emissions from agricultural crops cannot be ignored,” Biogenic CO2 Coalition spokesperson Thomas Parks said. “Changing this regulatory burden based on scientifically backed evidence means thousands of jobs and hundreds of millions in wages for American workers. It promises to stimulate rural economies and create green jobs, all while encouraging growth in renewable products that are better for our planet.”

If afforded regulatory relief, U.S. agribusinesses would be positioned to make significant investments in facility modernization and improvements to support the development and production of renewable products and materials -- a significant contributor to the U.S. bioeconomy. In just three states – California, Indiana and Ohio -- the total value added from this reform would represent more than $91 million per year.

This study supplements additional efforts by the coalition, which recently filed petition for rule-making with EPA providing a detailed explanation of the scientific and legal basis for the agency to propose a rule to recognize that biogenic carbon emissions from agricultural crops do not contribute to elevated greenhouse gas levels in the atmosphere.

Members of Congress also agree that EPA needs to provide regulatory clarity for annual farm crops. Reps. Rodney Davis (R., Ill.), Collin Peterson (D., Minn.), Dave Loebsack (D., Iowa) and Roger Marshall (R., Kan.) recently sent a letter to EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler requesting regulatory clarity for annual farm crops.

Last year, a bipartisan group of 18 senators also pressed EPA for swift action on this issue in a letter. A group of five governors urged the agency to take action on the same issue as well.

USDA crop progress: Corn quality stable, harvest progress picks up

fotokostic/iStock/GettyImagesPlus Soybeans in tractor trailer

In the latest crop progress report from USDA, out Monday afternoon and covering the week through September 27, the agency reports stable corn quality, along with a slower-than-expected harvest pace. In contrast, soybean quality improved by a point, with a harvest that is progressing faster than expected.

Sixty-one percent of this year’s corn crop is rated in good-to-excellent condition, with 25% of the crop rated fair, and with the remaining 14% rated poor or very poor. All of those numbers were identical to USDA’s September 21 report.

Harvest progress has reached 15% completion, up from 8% last week. Analysts were expecting a bit more progress, with an average trade guess of 17%. That’s also slightly behind the prior five-year average of 16%. Three-fourths of the crop is now fully mature, up from 59% a week ago and ahead of the prior five-year average of 65%.

This year’s soybean crop is quickly nearing the end of the season, too. Seventy-four percent of the crop is now dropping leaves, up from 59% last week and moving more swiftly than the prior five-year average of 69%. And USDA has marked harvest progress at 20%, jumping ahead of last week’s mark of 6%, as well as the prior five-year average of 15%. Analysts were expecting the agency to show 18% of the crop has been harvested.

Quality-wise, 64% of the crop is now rated in good-to-excellent condition, up a point from last week. Analysts had expected USDA to hold ratings steady. Another 26% is rated fair (down a point from last week), with the remaining 10% rated poor or very poor (unchanged from a week ago).

USDA is no longer reporting spring wheat harvest progress after noting 96% completion last week. The agency continues to update winter wheat planting progress, however. The 2020/21 crop is now 35% planted, up from 20% last week and slightly ahead of the prior five-year average of 33%. And 10% of the crop is now emerged, versus 3% a week ago and the prior five-year average of 8%.

Click here for updates on additional crops, including sorghum, cotton, sugarbeets, pasture and range conditions, and more.

Delicate rebalancing ahead for global dairy sector

milk truck

A delicate rebalancing of supply and demand is on the horizon for the global dairy sector, according to the new RaboResearch "Dairy Quarterly for Q3 2020" report. Milk production growth across the global "Big 7" dairy exporters will collide with a recalibration of retail, foodservice and export dairy demand, the report suggests.

Global dairy trade during the first half of 2020 was better than anticipated, up about 3% from 2019, but Rabobank suggested that the recent trade strength may be at risk in the second half as government stimulus packages abate, the global recession fully takes hold and importers seek policies that enhance domestic production.

The COVID-19 pandemic will also continue to affect global demand as countries struggle with new outbreaks, and foodservice demand remains well below last year's levels. For most of the world, economic growth will likely occur in 2021, although Rabobank said this will hardly lift the economy to the level seen pre-COVID-19.

According to the report, milk production growth is expected to continue expanding into 2021. Rabobank forecasts a 1.3% year-over-year increase in production across the Big 7 dairy regions in the fourth quarter of 2020. From there, the firm forecasts an increase of 1% in the first half of 2021 and 0.8% in the second half.

Despite COVID-19 disruptions to the global dairy market, Rabobank said milk prices have been resilient. Still, it will take time to recover milk production growth and consumption, suggesting that global market fundamentals will remain weak into the second quarter of 2021.

In the European Union, dairy product prices have flattened, as milk production growth has been stronger than anticipated. Meanwhile, things are looking up for New Zealand and Australia as favorable weather conditions support increased milk production. Consumption recovery in China during the first half of 2020 beat expectations, but Rabobank said stocking strategies and farm investment plans cast uncertainty for 2021 dairy imports.

Overall, the firm said a variety of factors will be important to watch during the next two quarters, including a potential resurgence of COVID-19, shifts in global trade, evolving consumption patterns, demand and domestic production in China and the upcoming U.S. election.

U.S. production to rise

While U.S. producers have been on a price rollercoaster ride for most of 2020, Rabobank noted that resilient retail dairy demand, stronger dairy exports and government food spending have helped the industry weather disruptions due to COVID-19.

Looking ahead, domestic and export demand is expected to moderate as the longer-term effects from the pandemic take hold, the bank said.

Rabobank is forecasting domestic demand in the fourth quarter to fall slightly, by 0.2%. For 2021, the bank expects demand to increase 2% as lockdown measures are lifted.

U.S. exports have been strong and may remain that way in the coming months. Rabobank said the U.S. is in a more favorable trade position as the dollar has declined 9% versus the euro since June. Additionally, the government-imposed Argentine peso could have a negative impact on the country’s global competitiveness in the coming months.

Milk production is projected to rise, as dairy producer margins have been supported by direct government payments and favorable feed costs. Production during the second half will increase 1.5% year over year. After reaching an estimated year-over-year gain of 1.8% in the second quarter of 2021, Rabobank said growth will decline to 1.1% in the second half of 2021.