Supreme Court won't hear LCFS case: The U.S. Supreme Court will not review a case challenging the constitutionality of California's Low Carbon Fuel Standard (LCFS). Ethanol groups had argued that the LCFS goes against the Commerce Clause of the U.S. Constitution. The Renewable Fuels Assn. (RFA) and Growth Energy said they were "extremely disappointed" by the court's decision. More than 20 states and groups — including the Rocky Mountain Farmers Union, RFA and American Fuel & Petrochemical Manufacturers Assn. — had asked the high court to review a federal appeals court ruling upholding California's regulation — the first of its kind in the country. The LCFS was developed under California's landmark 2006 global warming law, A.B. 32, which seeks to cut greenhouse gas emissions in the state back to 1990 levels by 2020.
TMDL case gets congressional support: House Judiciary Committee chairman Bob Goodlatte (R., Va.) and nearly 40 House and Senate members have filed an amicus brief in the case of American Farm Bureau Federation et al. vs. United States Environmental Protection Agency et al., which is before the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit. The amicus brief is in support of the Farm Bureau's position and urges the court to acknowledge the congressional intent of the Clean Water Act to reserve the rights of states to implement water quality goals, as related to EPA's proposed total maximum daily load (TMDL) limits. The case aims to appeal a September 2013 decision that allowed EPA to set TMDLs on how many pounds of nutrients can run off property into waters of a state.
Hormel to buy sports nutrition company: Hormel Foods Corp. announced last week that it has entered into a definitive agreement to acquire CytoSport Holdings Inc., maker of Muscle Milk products, for approximately $450 million. The transaction is subject to customary closing conditions, including the receipt of regulatory approvals in the U.S., and is expected to close within 30 days. As a leading provider of premium protein products in the sports nutrition category, CytoSport's brands align with Hormel's focus on protein while further diversifying Hormel's portfolio. Total 2014 annual sales are expected to be around $370 million. Hormel expects this acquisition to provide about 5 cents per share accretion in fiscal 2015, with a neutral impact to fiscal 2014 earnings, including transaction costs. "Muscle Milk products will serve as a growth catalyst for our Specialty Foods segment, providing this division with a leading brand in the high-growth sports nutrition category," said Jeffrey M. Ettinger, Hormel chairman, president and chief executive officer. "The acquisition of CytoSport expands our offerings of portable, immediate, protein-rich foods and broadens our appeal with younger consumers. Muscle Milk premium protein products further enhance our balanced business model."
Panama Canal Authority trains pilots: The Panama Canal Authority recently announced the chartering of a Neopanamax vessel for training pilots and tugboat captains who will be assisting in transiting the new lanes of the expanded canal. The vessel will be used for several months to test the new locks and is the type that can pass through the expanded canal once it becomes operational. Since 2012, Neopanamax model ships at the Panama Canal's Center for Simulation, Research & Maritime Development have been used to train 186 out of about 280 canal pilots for the expanded canal.
Scoular acquires Pisgah elevator: The Scoular Co. recently announced the acquisition of the Pisgah Cooperative Grain Co. elevator in Pisgah, Ill. The Pisgah site joins Scoular's three other central Illinois locations: a shuttle facility outside of Waverly and country elevators in Waverly and Palmyra. Terms of the June 25 transaction were not disclosed. The acquisition will expand the range of Scoular's grain program to area farmers and provide customers with another competitive destination for grain this fall, said Dustin Loseke, manager of the Pisgah, Waverly and Palmyra facilities. Scoular is buying grain for both the Pisgah and Waverly locations.
Trupointe hub: Trupointe Cooperative Inc. recently opened a new agronomy hub in Milford, Ind. Serving growers in a 60-mile radius, the Milford hub offers fertilizer, crop protection products, crop nutrients, crop scouting, precision agriculture, application services and more. The facility mirrors the Trupointe South Charleston, Ohio, agronomy hub, which opened in the spring of 2013. Chief executive officer Larry Hammond said the Milford location was chosen for the region's thriving agriculture industry and because two main railway lines intersect there.
AgriBank dividend: St. Paul, Minn.-based AgriBank, one of the largest banks within the national Farm Credit System, paid a quarterly cash dividend of $1.7188 per share on its 6.875% non-cumulative perpetual class A preferred stock to holders of record as of June 1. AgriBank issued $250 million of preferred stock on Oct. 29, 2013, to provide the bank and the 15-state Farm Credit District it serves with long-term access to high-quality capital, helping ensure that the district is well-positioned to meet the long-term growth and credit needs of farmer and rancher customers.
Bayer expands: Bayer CropScience announced June 30 that it will invest $29.6 million to expand its North American and global seeds headquarters in Research Triangle Park, N.C. This investment includes the construction of a 29,500 sq. ft. greenhouse, as well as the necessary infrastructure and land development to support the research facility and potential future growth. The new facility will accommodate the company's seed trait research, providing dedicated and isolated greenhouse space for insect testing, consolidated space for nematode trait research and the capability for groundbreaking plant disease research. Work on the greenhouse, or GH1, is scheduled to begin in late summer, with completion scheduled for late 2015. GH1 is the second greenhouse constructed at Bayer's seeds headquarters in the past two years and will replace greenhouses 3 and 4, which have been in operation for more than 30 years. The $20 million, 60,000 sq. ft. greenhouse 5 was opened in July 2012 to support sustainability and productivity efforts focused on soybeans, corn and other broadacre crop research.
U.K. feed deal: European feed manufacturer ForFarmers B.V. announced that it has acquired 100% of the share capital of Wheyfeed Holdings Ltd., which owns Wheyfeed Ltd., based near Nottingham, U.K. Wheyfeed sells and distributes more than 200,000 metric tons of liquid co-products throughout the U.K. and operates a fleet of 35 liquid tankers. Wheyfeed will become part of ForFarmers' U.K. business. "This acquisition builds on ForFarmers' Total Feed Business approach: the ability to provide livestock nutrition in whatever form our customers require it," Iain Gardner, ForFarmers U.K. chief operating officer, said. "Liquid co-products sourced from the food, drink and biofuel industries form an important part of many livestock farmers' nutritional inputs. The acquisition of Wheyfeed Ltd. represents a significant addition to our existing portfolio of co-products, straights and minerals and will enable us to offer a wider range of products to our customers in the ruminant and monogastric markets." The acquisition also is consistent with ForFarmers' growth strategy and its objective to consolidate and expand its position in the markets it serves.
Fertilizer company: Plant health and nutrition company Verdesian Life Sciences announced July 1 that it has acquired Specialty Fertilizer Products, a Leawood, Kan.-based company focused on fertilizer efficiency products. By joining forces with Specialty Fertilizer Products, Verdesian will gain more than 270 patent properties. No immediate staffing changes were planned except in the reporting structure at the senior management level. Financial terms of the deal will not be disclosed.