Egg bill sponsor gathering support: Rep. Kurt Schrader (D., Ore.), who introduced a bill in early 2012 establishing federal standards for the welfare of egg-laying hens, said he is working with colleagues again in hopes of advancing the legislation this year. The bill was part of a joint agreement between the United Egg Producers and The Humane Society of the United States designed to avoid piecemeal state regulations and laws on animal housing for egg production. Schrader said he's trying to re-enlist co-sponsors and working with senators to do the same. The egg bill triggered deep opposition from many other livestock groups for fear that it will set national welfare regulations that are not in the best interest of their industries. "I respect that other industries are worried, but the egg industry asked for this," Schrader told Feedstuffs in an interview. Schrader added that he hopes some of the issues that appeared controversial at first will be less sensationalized and that people will realize that the egg bill "makes sense."
Livestock disaster bill introduced: Rep. Kristi Noem (R., S.D.) introduced the Livestock Disaster Protection Act last Wednesday to provide a safety net for livestock owners. The legislation would provide a five-year extension of the Livestock Indemnity Program (LIP), Livestock Forage Program (LFP) and Emergency Livestock Assistance Program (ELAP) that were authorized in the 2008 farm bill, as well as retroactive coverage for fiscal years 2012 and 2013. Noem included language to ensure that these programs are extended for the life of the farm bill, which will avoid a repeat of the current situation in which eligibility for LIP, LFP and ELAP expired in 2011, before the rest of the farm bill expired. The bill also makes the programs a more integral fixture by ensuring that they are given a budget baseline. Similarly, Sens. Mark Udall (D., Colo.) and Mike Enzi (R., Wyo.) urged the Senate Agriculture Committee to ensure that permanent livestock disaster assistance is included in the 2013 farm bill. Udall and Enzi argued that a robust livestock insurance program will give ranchers and cattle operators the assurance they need to continue to boost local economies and feed the nation.
Feed group for Southern Africa formed : The Southern African Feed Manufacturers Assn. (SAFMA) was officially launched following an agreement at the fourth Global Feed & Food Congress in Sun City, South Africa, under the auspices of representatives from the International Feed Industry Federation (IFIF) and the U.N. Food & Agriculture Organization. SAFMA brings together representatives from South Africa, Zimbabwe, Botswana, Mozambique, Namibia, Zambia and Mauritius as part of a regional feed manufacturer association with a vision of harmonizing the feed industry in the region in order to further "safe feed for safe food." IFIF chairman Mario Sergio Cutait said of SAFMA, "Africa will play a vital part in the global feed and food value chain in the years to come, and just like FeedLatina, this new feed organization for Southern Africa is an important IFIF-supported initiative to strengthen the global feed industry and to start the process to provide Africa with one voice."
Enroflox 100 for cattle suspended: The Food & Drug Administration's Center for Veterinary Medicine announced that the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia issued a temporary restraining order April 12 in Civil Action No. 13-487, suspending approval of Norbrook Inc.'s abbreviated new animal drug application No. 200-495 for Enroflox 100 (enrofloxacin) to treat cattle, suspending approval of the label for Enroflox 100 to treat cattle and directing FDA to notify all interested parties of the suspension until the matter is resolved. Norbrook announced last month that FDA approved Enroflox 100 for multiday use only in cattle and non-lactating dairy heifers under 20 months of age and in swine. Norbrook's product has the same active ingredient and formulation as Bayer Animal Health's Baytril 100 product. Bayer AG sued FDA over the Norbrook approval on April 10, seeking to block sales of the generic product due to concerns that it would be used in an off-label manner. District court Judge Rosemary M. Collyer issued the temporary restraining order and set a hearing on the motion for April 25.
Fertilizer incident: After the tragic explosion at the Texas fertilizer facility April 17, The Fertilizer Institute (TFI), said the Chemical Safety Board was deployed to the accident scene. TFI has worked closely with the board and said it will "serve as a resource should we be asked to do so." TFI is an active member of the Transportation Community Awareness & Emergency Response program, which provides training for emergency response personnel in 27 states, including Texas, on responding to accidents involving anhydrous ammonia. TFI said, "We are carefully monitoring the situation and will work with the industry to apply any lessons learned."
Alfalfa seed: California-based S&W Seed Co. announced that it has purchased 100% of Australia-based Seed Genetics International Pty. Ltd. (SGI), creating the world's largest non-dormant alfalfa seed company. The transaction, valued at $16.7 million, closed April 2. Mark Grewal, president and chief executive officer of S&W, said, "SGI has a tremendous base of contracted growers, very strong customer relationships and unique genetics. The sales channels that S&W and SGI sell into are highly complementary, with very little overlap in customers. This move considerably strengthens our reach into Argentina and the rest of Latin America." SGI controls roughly 17,000 acres of irrigated alfalfa seed production in Australia and another 12,000 acres of dryland seed production. Acquiring SGI nearly doubled S&W's seed available for sale in calendar year 2013 and expanded its market strength and reach into the Middle East and Africa, South America and Southern Europe. SGI director Mark Harvey noted, "For our Australian growers, this means we will be expanding production under the umbrella of a public company with a strong balance sheet and financial resources. We also gain access to S&W's proven proprietary genetics."
Canadian approvals: Alltech announced that four of its crop science products have received approval from the Canadian Food Inspection Agency. Agro-Mos, Soil-Set, Crop-Set and Grain-Set are now registered as micronutrient fertilizers in the Canadian agronomic market. Each product can be used to treat micronutrient deficiencies and offers an alternative to conventional agrochemicals. Alltech Crop Science provides natural-based products, technical information and solutions for agronomic and horticultural challenges facing producers worldwide.
Seed genetics: Farmers Cooperative (FC), Iowa's largest farmer-owned cooperative, announced that it has formed a strategic partnership with Hoegemeyer Hybrids to become the exclusive dealer of its branded seeds in 37 counties. Hoegemeyer, based in Hooper, Neb., serves growers throughout the western Corn Belt. Under the agreement, FC will carry Hoegemeyer and HPT brand seed products throughout its 3 million-acre service territory. Gary Peter, FC vice president of agronomy sales and marketing, said, "We're proud to work with an amazing organization to provide our farmer-owners access to another of the largest pools of germplasm in the world."