Groups oppose accounting proposal: Six organizations representing the nation's engineers, architects, dentists, certified public accountants, farmers and S corporations have banded together to oppose a proposed change in the taxation of businesses that is included in the Senate Finance Committee's Cost Recovery & Accounting Discussion Draft. The proposal would require many of the groups' members to change the method of accounting used for tax purposes from the cash basis method to the accrual method. The groups said the change would result in those who own and operate these businesses to pay tax before cash is received. They asserted that this would cause cash flow problems, especially for those who pay their employees even if their clients don't submit payment for several months. "We believe that tax reform is a laudable goal and that simplification of the tax code is very important," the organizations said in a Jan. 17 letter to the chairman and ranking member of the Senate Finance Committee. "However, converting from the cash method to accrual basis would not be simpler and may actually create a significant burden on those professional services sector businesses and farms."
CN averts rail union strike: At risk of adding to already problematic rail transportation issues, the Canadian National Railway Co. (CN) said last week the Teamsters Canada Rail Conference-Conductors, Trainpersons & Yardpersons (TCRC-CTY), which represents approximately 3,000 CN train and yard operation employees in Canada, had given the company 72 hours' notice of its intention to strike the railway on Feb. 8. After CN executive vice president and chief operating officer Jim Vena said last Wednesday the company would "return to the table today with the assistance of federal mediators," CN announced the next day that it had reached a new tentative collective agreement with TCRC-CTY, thus averting the threatened union strike. Many were concerned that the strike would put additional strain on grain transportation as winter weather and competition from oil companies have already been causing significant issues this year. Vena said, "This will ensure continued service to our customers in a very challenging environment where extreme winter conditions have hampered CN operations and affected service levels." Details of the three-year labor contract are being withheld pending ratification.
Senate confirms Baucus nomination: On Feb. 6, the Senate voted 96-0 to approve the nomination of Sen. Max Baucus (D., Mont.) as the next U.S. ambassador to China. Baucus, who chairs the Senate Finance Committee and sits on the Senate Agriculture Committee, has been a longtime advocate for agriculture, taking the lead on many issues that benefit farmers, such as free trade agreements and numerous farm bills, among others. Baucus said, "As ambassador, I hope to help build a stronger relationship between our two countries — one that benefits the American people and encourages partnership to promote security and prosperity around the world."
ForFarmers acquires HST Feeds: ForFarmers announced Feb. 4 that it has acquired 100% of the share capital of HST Feeds Ltd. in the U.K. The price paid is based on an enterprise value of 15 million euros, including cash. HST Feeds, established in 1972, sells 140,000 metric tons of ruminant and poultry compound feed to customers throughout northwestern England. ForFarmers is a feed company active mainly in northwestern Europe. Its core activities are the production and sale of feed and commercial items, with annual feed sales of 8.6 million mt, including 6.3 mmt of compound feed. ForFarmers is comprised of a number of feed companies, including ForFarmers Hendrix, BOCM PAULS, FarmFeed Hedimix and others. HST Feeds will operate within BOCM PAULS, the U.K. company of ForFarmers. ForFarmers chief operating officer Iain Gardner said, "As we have seen in other parts of the country, the livestock sector in the northwest has consolidated over recent years and is now characterized by committed, professional producers. ForFarmers will continue to play its leading role in the consolidation of the animal feed sector both in the U.K. and in continental Europe."
OSHA post: Dr. David Michaels, assistant secretary of labor for occupational safety and health, has appointed Dorothy Dougherty as the new deputy assistant secretary for the Occupational Safety & Health Administration. Dougherty brings more than 32 years of federal experience to this position, having served for 22 years at OSHA and several years at the Mine Safety & Health Administration as an industrial hygienist and coal mine inspector. Prior to becoming OSHA's deputy assistant secretary, she served as director of the agency's Directorate of Standards & Guidance. Dougherty first joined OSHA as chief of the Compliance & Technical Guidance Division for the Office of Federal Agency Programs. She also served the agency in other capacities, including deputy director of technical support and executive assistant for the OSHA assistant secretary.
Grain sale: W.B. Johnston Grain (WBJ), the oldest and largest privately owned grain company in Oklahoma, recently announced that it has entered into a letter of intent to sell its grain company and related businesses to CGB Enterprises Inc. The parties expect to close the transaction within 30-45 days. WBJ currently operates 19 country grain elevators throughout Oklahoma and Texas, including two grain terminals: an 18 million bu. rail terminal in Enid, Okla., and a 2 million bu. rail shipper/receiver facility in Shattuck, Okla.