'Census of Ag' publication date set: The U.S. Department of Agriculture's National Agricultural Statistics Service announced that it will publish the full 2012 "Census of Agriculture" report at noon (EST) on May 2. The complete data series will be available in multiple formats, including Quick Stats 2.0, an online database to retrieve customized tables with census data at the national, state and county levels. The publication will include data on a range of topics, including agricultural practices, conservation, organic production, as well as traditional and specialty crops. The final report will also provide first-time or expanded data on biomass production, equines, internet access, regional food marketing and distribution, land use practices and agroforestry. For more information about the census, visit www.agcensus.usda.gov.
Hillshire closing Alabama plant: Hillshire Brands Co. announced in a filing with the Securities & Exchange Commission that it plans to close its production facility in Florence, Ala., by Dec. 30. Currently, the facility produces breakfast sandwiches and breakfast sausages. The decision was made after a comprehensive business evaluation determined that the Florence location will prohibit the company from meeting efficiency or long-term profitability expectations. The operations of the facility will be carried out by other locations within Hillshire's network. The closure will affect 1,100 employees. Hillshire will incur costs of around $34.4 million as a result of the facility closure.
CME commodity trading interrupted: Agricultural commodity trading was unexpectedly interrupted last Tuesday when CME Group Inc. had to shut down electronic trading on its CME Globex platform due to technical issues. The issue occurred at around 2 p.m. (EST) as traders were squaring their positions for closing, forcing them to return to the open-outcry format used in the past. While 31 different markets were affected, some contracts, such as soybeans, weren't. CME resolved the issue about two hours later. "Think of how much volume there is on the screen. To have that stifled 15 minutes before the close the day before a crop report — there was a logjam. It was like trying to put on a stage show with no planning. There was no time to set it up," a wheat options trader told Reuters. CME informed traders that certain orders — such as livestock, butter and dairy markets — that were set to buy or sell contracts at a certain price by the end of Tuesday's trading session would be canceled, while other orders that had yet to be executed would continue to stand. CME trades an average of 1.1 million agricultural commodity contracts per day, which represent about 8% of all contracts traded on the CME markets.
Japan trade deal a concern: Australia and Japan have reached a bilateral trade agreement, which has made U.S. agricultural groups concerned about the tariff-reducing goals of the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP). The bilateral agreement partially lowered tariffs for Australian beef and some dairy products but exempted rice from tariff reduction. Australia and Japan are both involved in the TPP discussions, and U.S. agricultural groups have been pressing Japan to increase its agricultural market access. "This development only pushes the high-standing ideals of TPP further out of reach for all countries involved," National Cattlemen's Beef Assn. president Bob McCan said, adding that the agreement is from the 20th-century playbook. U.S. and Japanese negotiators, as part of the TPP negotiations, finished three intensive days of talks last week without reaching any substantive agreement to resolve differences on automobile issues and access to agricultural products. This session of negotiations could be the last opportunity to advance talks ahead of an April 24-25 summit between President Barack Obama and Japan's Prime Minister Shinzo Abe.
Pork trade: Brazil's Minister of Agriculture Neri Geller said in a press conference last week that, at this time, the country is not suspending imports of pigs and plasma from the U.S. due to concerns over porcine epidemic diarrhea virus. Geller said any live animal or porcine raw materials will be quarantined at the Quarentenaria Station in Cananeia, Sao Paulo, Brazil. Meanwhile, according to the Livestock Exports Assn., China has stopped issuing permits for the importation of U.S. hogs until the two countries can agree on a testing protocol.
Boar stud facility: Genesus Genetics announced the opening of a new state-of-the-art boar stud facility near Hamiota, Man. The Canadian Centre of Gene Transfer will be exclusively for domestic and international artificial insemination production of fresh and frozen semen shipped to the European Union, the U.S. and China. Genesus is the world's largest producer of high-health registered purebred breeding stock. The facility, with a capacity of 483,000 doses per year, will use the CASA system with auto morphology. It features a state-of-the-art water system, including reverse osmosis technology and double-ultraviolet protection against bacteria plus a de-ionizer with a backup polisher and continuous circulation. The center will be a positive-pressure barn with HEPA filtration and isolation with a Noveko filter for protection against aerosol pathogens.
Cellulosic fuel: Syngenta announced last week an agreement with Cellulosic Ethanol Technologies LLC to license its Adding Cellulosic Ethanol (ACE) technology, a new process for ethanol plants. The ACE technology has been shown to significantly increase a plant's ethanol production while delivering other benefits such as increased corn oil production and a higher protein content in dried distillers grains. In combination with Syngenta's proprietary Enogen corn trait, the ACE technology will allow the fiber as well as the starch in a corn kernel to be converted into ethanol. Enogen is the only corn output trait designed specifically to enhance ethanol production. It is expected that the ACE-Enogen combination will enable ethanol plants to make further progress in reducing natural gas usage and increasing ethanol throughput, thereby improving their carbon footprint. Cellulosic Ethanol Technologies, is a subsidiary of Quad County Corn Processors (QCCP). Use of the ACE technology is scheduled to begin at QCCP's ethanol plant in Galva, Iowa, next month.
Syngenta seeds: Syngenta announced that it recently acquired Societa Produttori Sementi (PSB), one of Italy's oldest seed companies and a leader in durum wheat breeding and production for pasta. PSB was established in the province of Bologna in 1911, and its durum wheat varieties are grown on more than 330,000 hectares. In addition to its headquarters and a 430-hectare farm, PSB has breeding programs in other crops such as common wheat and alfalfa. Syngenta will preserve the century-old PSB brand, which will enable growers in Italy and other countries to meet increasing demand for pasta — a global market valued at $16 billion. Financial details of the deal were not disclosed.