OMB review delays RFS proposal: Stakeholders say an Environmental Protection Agency proposal to reduce biofuel blending requirements this year under the federal renewable fuel standard (RFS) is not expected to be sent to the White House for review by the Office of Management & Budget (OMB) until next month. Originally, the proposal was thought to be headed to OMB at the end of May, and then June 22, but now, that has been delayed once again. EPA said it will hold off on enforcing its compliance deadline for the 2013 RFS until Sept. 30. An EPA official said reviewing more than 300,000 public comments on the proposal plus the complexity of the biofuel market has made developing the 2014 RFS more time consuming than anticipated.
House passes Section 179 extension: The House voted 274-144 last Thursday to pass a handful of tax extenders, including the expiring Section 179 expensing provisions for small businesses. For agriculture specifically, this legislation includes an extension of expensing for capital investments. On Jan. 1, 2014, expensing levels under Section 179 were reduced from $500,000 to $25,000. Groups such as the Association of Equipment Manufacturers sent a letter to House members expressing strong support for the bill. Section 179 expensing gives small business owners — including farmers and contractors — more purchasing flexibility by allowing them to immediately deduct the cost of a qualified investment in the year of purchase rather than through multiyear depreciation. It is not a tax cut or loophole, the letter notes. Allowing small business owners to maximize investing in their companies during years when they have positive cash flow gives them an incentive to reinvest, including purchasing items such as new equipment, which, in turn, accelerates economic expansion, growth and jobs, the letter explains. This and other important tax extenders still await action in the Senate.
Vermont AG seeks GMO label input: The Vermont Attorney General's (AG) office is seeking input on labels for genetically modified organisms (GMOs) in food products in the state. In a questionnaire on its website, the AG's office is seeking opinions on everything from where the label is located to the size of the wording and how to deal with wording for bulk products and loose produce. While the poll, which can be completed by residents, representatives of companies and even non-residents, could help influence how the office moves forward with setting GMO labeling requirements, the AG noted in a disclaimer that "this is a questionnaire rather than a vote." The poll will be open until June 30 at http://svy.mk/1pUfQrC.
ADM completes Toepfer acquisition: Archer Daniels Midland Co. (ADM) announced that it recently completed the acquisition of the remaining minority stake of Alfred C. Toepfer International. Since 2002, ADM has owned 80% of Toepfer. The 83 million-euro transaction allows ADM to fully combine its integrated supply chain, global origination network and risk management expertise with Toepfer's global marketing and distribution capabilities. Toepfer is a global merchandiser of agricultural commodities and processed products through its network of 37 offices worldwide. Toepfer also operates inland, river and export facilities in Argentina, Bulgaria, Canada, Hungary, Romania, the Ukraine and the U.S.
Ag Partners to expand Iowa mill: AG Partners recently announced that its joint venture in Ellsworth, Iowa, will undertake the largest capital expansion in its history. The expansion, the second phase of a three-phase project at the Ellsworth feed mill, will allow the facility to pellet 800,000 tons of feed annually. Up to 10 additional jobs may be created as the mill hits peak capacity, the company said. The expansion will include a 250 tons-per-hour receiving system and a 100,000 gal. liquid storage area. A 3,000 sq. ft. warehouse will be constructed for additional bag storage and will house a 24-bin microsystem that will feed the 12-ton mixer. A new 700,000 bu. bin will also be constructed for increased corn storage. In 2012, the board approved Phase I of the project, which included slipping the mill tower, adding a pellet mill and providing access to five loadout bins and 13 ingredient bins. Phase II wasn't projected to take place for another two to three years, but because of additional growth opportunities, the Ag Partners leadership team recommended moving into it now. The project is slated to be completed in January 2015.
Richardson terminal: Richardson International Ltd., Canada's largest agribusiness, has more than doubled its capacity in the Port of Thunder Bay in Ontario by reopening the Current River terminal, which was part of the Viterra acquisition last May. The Current River terminal, which has a storage capacity of 235,000 metric tons, complements Richardson's heritage Thunder Bay terminal. Richardson's original terminal, which the company opened in 1919, has 208,000 mt of storage, bringing its total storage capacity in the Port of Thunder Bay to 443,000 mt. Last June, Richardson began cleaning and restoring the Current River terminal, which had not been in operation for the past three years. The required work included cleaning up the facility and grounds, commissioning the scales and restarting the terminal's operating systems. The first railcars were received in October, and the terminal began loading vessels in November. Richardson's Current River terminal received both the first laker and the first saltwater ship of the 2014 Thunder Bay shipping season. The terminal, which will handle mainly canola, oats and wheat, loaded its first vessel of the season on April 22, a full month later than usual given the extreme winter weather that delayed the thaw of the Great Lakes.
Soybean research: The Iowa Board of Regents approved the formation of the Iowa Soybean Research Center at Iowa State University in Ames. The center, a partnership between the university and the Iowa Soybean Assn. (ISA), will ultimately enable producers to profitably provide high-yielding, high-quality soybeans and soybean products to a growing global market in a sustainable way. The center's goals include: forging strong public/private partnerships; sustaining extension and outreach communication and collaboration with growers and the industry; increasing training of students and other personnel for soybean-related research, education and production, and increasing public and private funding of soybean-related research and education. Dr. Ed Anderson, ISA senior director of supply and production systems, said the center will provide more relevant, deeper and timely communications between the public and private sectors pertaining to soybean management and emerging disease and pest issues. Plant pathology professor Greg Tylka will serve as director.