Philippines bans poultry from China: The Philippines has temporarily halted imports of poultry and poultry products from China. In December, the Chinese Animal Disease Control Center reported outbreaks of highly pathogenic avian influenza (HPAI) in the village of Zhungzhuang, Jiaozhuang, Baoding City in Heibei. According to the Philippine government, a test conducted by Harbin Veterinary Research Institute confirmed the HPAI subtype H5N2 outbreak identified in bird species. As a result of the HPAI outbreak in Heibei province, the Philippines Department of Agriculture banned poultry meat, eggs, day-old chicks and semen from China. The department instructed veterinary inspectors at all major ports to stop all shipments of poultry meat and related products from China. At this time, a target date for lifting the ban has not been given.
Foster Farms plant back up: After being temporarily closed due to insect infestation, Foster Farms resumed operations at its Livingston, Cal., poultry plant Jan. 22, and all plant employees have been called back to work. The company put a voluntary hold on plant operations to dedicate additional time to ensuring that its preventative plan was fully realized and that the most effective treatment protocols were in place. Production was temporarily shifted to Foster Farms' other California facilities during this time as the company brought full attention to implementing its Food Safety & Inspection Service-approved preventative plan in Livingston. With all employees now back to work, Foster Farms said it expects to add weekend shifts and provide overtime to hourly plant employees in the coming weeks.
Wilbur-Ellis buys first Iowa location: Wilbur-Ellis Co. announced Jan. 15 that it has acquired the assets of Advanced Ag LLC, located in Creston, Iowa. "Wilbur-Ellis is excited to kick off our presence in Iowa with this latest acquisition," said Roger Fitzke, business development manager for Wilbur-Ellis. "Iowa has always been part of our strategic expansion plan for our Midwest operations, and we look forward to building strong relationships, bringing new solutions to growers and continuing our expansion in the future." Since 2002, Advanced Ag has served local growers in southwest Iowa, providing agronomic solutions to increase productivity and maximize yields.
No rehearing in California LCFS case: The U.S. Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals denied a request of rehearing en banc in litigation regarding whether California's Low Carbon Fuel Standard (LCFS) violates U.S. interstate commerce laws. Ethanol producers claim that California's law discriminates against low-carbon fuels, such as ethanol, produced outside the state. A joint statement from Growth Energy and the Renewable Fuels Assn. said the groups "will continue to evaluate all our options moving forward to assure that sound science and fair play ultimately prevail in this case." They said they were "heartened" that seven judges strongly dissented from the court's decision and believed it merited further review, citing: "The majority opinion in this case upholds a regulatory scheme that, on its face, promotes California industry at the expense of out-of-state interests. The majority opinion also sanctions California's clear attempt to project its authority into other states. Because the Constitution forbids such an expansive and discriminatory exercise of state power over interstate commerce, I respectfully dissent from our failure to rehear this case."
RFS comment period: In November 2013, the Environmental Protection Agency announced plans to reduce the renewable volume obligation for the renewable fuel standard (RFS). A 60-day comment period on the proposal ends Jan. 28, and reports indicate that EPA does not plan to extend the deadline. EPA released a proposal that would set the volume obligation for biomass-based diesel at 1.28 billion gal. for 2014 and 2015. The proposal would also reduce the total advanced biofuel requirement to 2.2 billion gal. in 2014. EPA proposed a 1.4 billion gal. reduction in how much corn-based ethanol will be required under the RFS. Comments may be submitted at www.regulations.gov/#!documentDetail degrees =EPA-HQ-OAR-2013-0479-0037.
PEDV in Canada: Canada has discovered the highly contagious porcine epidemic diarrhea virus (PEDV) within its pork industry, according to government and industry officials. The Ontario government is investigating a hog farm in the province's Middlesex County after a laboratory finding of the virus. Separately, one of Canada's biggest pork processors, Olymel LP, said tests also confirmed the virus at an unloading dock of its Saint-Esprit slaughter facility near Montreal, Que. PEDV, which causes diarrhea, vomiting and severe dehydration in piglets, has turned up in 23 of the 50 states since its discovery in the U.S. last April. It is estimated to have killed upwards of 5 million piglets in the U.S. The virus, which is already established in Europe and Asia, poses no threat to people and is not a food safety risk.
Reduced interest: The Andersons Inc. announced that it has entered into an agreement with Lansing Trade Group LLC for a partial redemption of its equity investment in Lansing. The redemption would reduce The Andersons' ownership interest in Lansing from approximately 47% to roughly 39% on a fully diluted basis. The redemption is subject to certain financial contingencies but is expected to close in the first quarter of 2014. "We have entered into this agreement, which allows us to monetize a portion of our LTG investment while continuing to retain most of our interest in this very successful partnership," Andersons chairman and chief executive officer Mike Anderson said. The Andersons made its initial investment in Lansing, a commodity merchandising business, in January 2003. In addition, The Andersons and Lansing will continue to jointly own and operate Thompsons Ltd., a grain and food-grade bean handler and agronomy input provider based in Blenheim, Ont.
Cyclonaire recapitalized: Prospect Partners, a private equity firm investing in smaller lower-middle-market companies, and Schilling Ventures LLC, an operations-focused investment firm, recently announced the recapitalization of Cyclonaire Corp., a provider of pneumatic conveying systems, in partnership with management. Cyclonaire, headquartered in York, Neb., offers custom-engineered and manufactured pneumatic conveying systems for the transfer of dry bulk materials. The company's experience spans railcar unloading, locomotive track sanding, dust collection, automation, batching and blending and aeration systems. Going forward, Cyclonaire seeks to invest in select add-on acquisitions of other pneumatic conveying and material handling companies as well as in manufacturing automation and controls businesses.
Storage systems: Following the Nigerian Ministry of Agriculture's recent contract for Blumberg Grain food security and storage systems, Blumberg announced that it also has been chosen to provide its grain warehousing in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). The DRC project includes installation of the company's Grain Vault product line with integrated security systems. David Blumberg, chief executive officer of Blumberg Grain-West Africa, said, "This initial DRC order represents another important deployment of Blumberg Grain's food security storage and systems. Throughout Africa, governments emphasize the need to lower post-harvest losses in order to increase farmer incomes and boost agricultural output. That's a key focus of Blumberg Grain's food security systems." Philip Blumberg, CEO of Blumberg Capital Partners, added, "We will also be looking into investing in processing plants, cleaning, drying and packaging facilities in the DRC." Blumberg Grain is a U.S.-based food security company that provides vertically integrated crop and food storage systems and technology, working with private companies and countries to modernize agricultural value chains. As part of its international growth strategy, Blumberg Grain is developing manufacturing plants and export hubs in Africa, Asia and South America.
AGT in Quebec: Alliance Grain Traders Inc. (AGT), a processor of value-added pulses, staple foods and ingredients for export and domestic markets as well as a supplier of retail packaged and canned foods to the retail and foodservice sectors, recently announced that it has acquired substantially all of the assets of Quebec-based CLIC International Inc., a Canadian ethnic and traditional retail food packager and canner and retail and foodservice distributor. The acquired assets include inventory, retail packaging and canning production-related equipment, all CLIC and associated retail brands, retail and foodservice listings and customer contracts. The CLIC management team will remain with AGT's new Quebec Food Division, AGT CLIC Foods Inc.