House Passes Mandatory GMO Labeling Bill

One week after the U.S. Senate passed mandatory GMO food labeling legislation with a vote of 63-30, the U.S. House of Representatives passed the bill with a vote of 306-117.

Put forth on June 23, the bill is a bipartisan effort developed by the U.S. Senate Agriculture Committee Chairman, Pat Roberts and ranking member, Debbie Stabenow that will preempt the possibility of differing piecemeal laws being passed from state to state while assuring the smooth continuation of business within the food supply chain.

Grain associations, including the National Grain and Feed Association (NGFA), the American Feed Industry Association (AFIA), and the American Soybean Association (ASA) have voiced their support for the action stating that the legislation will provide a national standard that will avoid inefficiencies in the food system and higher food costs.

2016 U.S. Soybean Acreage Hits Record High

The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s National Agricultural Statistics Service (NASS) announced on June 30 that U.S. soybean planted area estimates have reached a record high of 83.7 million acres in 2016.

This is up one percent from 2015, according to the latest Acreage report.

Planters either maintained or increased their 2015 soybean acreage in 18 of the 31 major-producing states. Kansas, Minnesota and Missouri saw the biggest booms, with each reporting an excess of 200,000 acres planted, in comparison to 2015.

Corn growers have also increased their acreage by 7 percent from last year, totaling approximately 94.1 million acres.

About 94 percent of this year’s soybean acreage was planted to herbicide resistant varieties, and 93 percent of corn crop acreage was planted to biotechnology seed varieties. These statistics reflect growers’ increasing use of biotechnology in the agricultural field.

In May 2016, Purdue Agricultural Economist Chris Hurt stated that farmers who had delayed planting corn could potentially make up for it by planting soybeans instead. High demand continues to come in from China, which is the largest export market for U.S. beans.

To date, there are 870 million bushels of soybeans stored in positions across the U.S. This is an increase from 39 percent at the same time in 2015.

The NASS surveyed about 11,000 segments of land and 70,500 growers during the first two weeks of June to draw its conclusions. “The Acreage and Grain Stocks” report can be found on www.nass.usda.gov.

ADM Boosts Soybean Crushing Capacity in Germany

Archer Daniels Midland’s (ADM) soybean crushing plant in Straubing, Germany is officially operational following capacity upgrades. The group says it will be looking to increase soy crushing at its other sites across northwest Europe. The newly operational capacity at Straubing will enable the company to crush non-GMO soybeans originated from the Danube region to be processed into soymeal and oil to be marketed to customer in Western Europe.

 Due to tight margins, ADM states that it relies on scale to remain competitive with origin crushers importing meal to the region. In addition, switch capabilities added to its plants allows the company to more efficiently use its assets to address shift in protein markets when EU oil markets are under pressure.

We believe we are best placed in our industry to further grow our crush capacities organically and keep our production costs in line with or lower than our origin crushing operations,” said Jon Turney, general manager, ADM European soybean crush.

Black Sea Overtook United States as Top Grain Exporter in 2015-16

The Black Sea region has grown into a global grain powerhouse. UkrAgroConsult estimates that grain exports from Russia, Ukraine, and Kazakhstan likely reached 80 million tons in the 12 months ending in June on the back of larger crops and weakening currencies. While the International Grains Council states that exports increased 14% compared to the year before and are estimated to be about 10% higher than shipments from the U.S. for the season.

Ukraine accounted for the greatest increase with exports climbing 13% to 37.85 million tons while exports from Russia are estimated to have increased 9% to 33.5 million tons. Shipments from Kazakhstan are estimated to have risen by 22% to 7.4 million tons.

This market dominance is not expected to continue throughout the coming season, however, as dry weather is cutting into output in Ukraine.

Total grain exports from the region, that surpassed exports from the U.S. in 2015/16 by 4.8 million tons, will likely by 2.2 million tons less than the U.S. in 2016/17 according to London-based IGC.

Farmers Working to Bring Soybean Plant to Minnesota or North Dakota

Minnesota and North Dakota farmers are in talks with an unknown company to build a soybean processing facility in either eastern North Dakota or northwest Minnesota.

“There’s been a group of farmers that have been discussing and determining the feasibility of constructing a processing plant in the region,” says Monte Peterson, a North Dakota farmer and North Dakota Soybean Growers Association member who is on the steering committee for the project.

He knows from experience that having talks doesn’t mean anything will come to fruition. In the past, he’s been in these discussions, and the company wanting to build a crush facility moved to a completely different state.

An official statement from the group of farmers lists these benefits:

  • An expanded local market for soybean farmers.
  • A new, local protein source for livestock farmers.
  • Significant economic benefits resulting from facility construction and job creation.
  • Decreased reliance on rail transportation needed to export soybeans.

“Agreements will need to be in place before anything official is ever announced,” says Peterson.