USDA resuming farm program payments: The U.S. Department of Agriculture announced that farm program payments, suspended as a result of the sequester, resumed May 8. This includes payments for the Supplemental Revenue Assistance Payments Program, the Noninsured Crop Assistance Program and the Milk Income Loss Contract Program. On March 4, the Farm Service Agency began a temporary suspension of agency program payments in order to assess the impact of sequestration and determine the least-disruptive process for carrying out required cuts. During a Senate appropriations hearing May 9, Sen. Tom Udall (R., N.M.) asked Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack "if the check was in the mail" because as time drags on, farmers are having doubts that the payments are actually coming. Vilsack said "payments will be made in short order." He explained that, with the uncertainty surrounding the effects of the sequester, the agency didn't want to send payments out the door only to later make producers refund or return them.
Ag's 'wealth effect' examined: Jason Henderson, vice president and Omaha, Neb., branch executive at the Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City, and economist Nathan Kauffman believe that U.S. agriculture is poised for a decline in farm profits due to previous capital investments, larger commodity supplies and higher production costs. Henderson and Kauffman explained the situation — what they call the "wealth effect" — in the latest "Main Street Economist" report. Similar to non-farm households, farm enterprises historically have used wealth to support consumption and investments when income fades, the report says. During years of low income, instead of allowing investments to fall with profits, farmers tap their existing wealth to finance and maintain their capital investments near previous levels. The report's authors said the farm economy may be headed toward this situation as early as 2014, when they expect a drastic decrease in farm profits due to rising supplies and higher production costs.
JBS to buy Brasil hog farms, pork plant: Brasil Foods S.A. and JBS S.A. have announced an agreement in which JBS will acquire Brasil's pork processing plant in Nova Prata in the state of Rio Grande do Sul, Brazil, and the plant's related hog production farms for 200 million reals ($100.1 million). The announcement said the hog production farms raise 491,000 market hogs per year. The deal is subject to customary closing conditions, including regulatory review.
Formula makers dismiss call on GMOs: The three companies accounting for 90% of all baby formula sales in the U.S. have dismissed a call from GMO Inside, an organization opposed to genetically modified organisms (GMOs), to remove GMOs from their products. The calls were made in a letter to Abbott Laboratories (Similac), Mead Johnson Nutrition (Enfamil) and Nestlé USA (Gerber) that claimed that the three companies "are exposing American and Canadian babies to potentially grave health risks" by making their formulas with GMOs. In response, the International Formula Council (IFC), which represents the three companies and other baby formula makers, said its members adhere to all local, regional and national standards for the use ... of ingredients." IFC said this includes standards set by the U.S. Department of Agriculture, U.S. Food & Drug Administration and U.N. Food & Agriculture Organization that have found foods made with GMOs no different from conventionally produced foods. IFC said "billions of people, including infants, have consumed biotech food safely for more than 15 years, with no evidence of harm demonstrated anywhere in the world."
Vermont GMOs: A bill that would require food products made with genetically modified organisms (GMOs) and marketed in Vermont to carry a GMO label passed the state assembly's House Judiciary Committee last week but wasn't expected to become law because, even if it passed the full House last week, the Senate had no time to consider it. The first year of the two-year biennium was scheduled to end Friday, which means the Senate will need to take up the matter next January, according to Feedstuffs sources. The bill would exclude dairy and meat products even though most come from animals fed GMO grain and oilseed products.
Sam Kane acquired: A group of about 10 cattle ranchers and feedlots in south Texas has acquired Sam Kane Beef Processors LLC to ensure that the beef processor, the eighth largest in the U.S., will remain viable for the beef industry in the region, according to an announcement. The acquisition, led by Lou Waters, a cattle feeder in Utopia, Texas, was completed on May 2, and Waters said the plant will increase production to full capacity as soon as possible. The plant can run 1,450 head per day. He also said the plant will buy more cattle on grids to increase its Choice-to-Select ratio and will consider developing its own brand. Sam Kane, based in Corpus Christi, Texas, was founded by Czech immigrant Sam Kane and his wife Aranka in 1949, and the company eventually was taken over by their son, Jerry Kane. It had sales of $525 million last year.
Warm starter: Purina Animal Nutrition LLC introduced AMPLI-Calf Warm Weather Starter feed, which is formulated to meet calves' needs as temperatures increase. When temperatures rise, calves' energy needs escalate as their respiration rates increase and they attempt to drive heat from their bodies, the announcement said. Coupled with this increase in energy is a reduction in feed intake, which reduces growth. AMPLI-Calf Warm Weather Starter feed includes AppetiteMAKER, a patent-pending, proprietary additive that stimulates feed intake of young dairy calves, ClariFly Larvicide to help control flies and organic chromium, along with other organic trace minerals that are highly digestible, providing efficient energy at the cellular level, according to the company.
Robotic milking: GEA Farm Technologies has launched the MIone Robotic Milking System to the North American market. The system has been adapted to meet the demands of the North American dairy market and to meet the quality standards and guidelines set forth by industry regulatory agencies. The udder prep process used by the MIone has been approved by the Atlantic-Midwest Dairy Equipment Review Committee and is, therefore, accepted by the Food & Drug Administration and state inspectors, the announcement said. GEA said its system is unique in that it utilizes one robotic application arm to service up to five milking boxes, thus providing extra capacity for the investment cost. The MIone also features a 3D camera that simultaneously "sees" the teat cup and teat for precise attachment. Once the teat cups are attached, teat cleaning, pre-dipping, drying, a milk quality check, stimulation and milk harvest are executed in sequence within the teat cup, the announcement said.