Massive Reorganization of USDA Proposed

U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue has submitted a plan for the first reorganization of the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) since 1994. The proposal aims to reconfigure three of the USDA’s seven wings, which account for two-thirds of the USDA staff, though the initial report to Congress states that this will be done without a reduction in the department’s workforce.

Included in the just-released plan is the creation of the new position of undersecretary for trade that was called for in the 2014 Farm Bill. The creation of the new role would abolish the undersecretary for rural development and will oversee the Foreign Agriculture Service, which is currently overseen by the agriculture undersecretary for farm and foreign agricultural services.

The new undersecretary of trade will need to be confirmed by the Senate and would chair a committee of agencies responsible for the export and import of agricultural goods such as the Food Safety and Inspection Service, according to

“Our plan to establish an undersecretary for trade fits right in line with my goal to be American agriculture’s unapologetic advocate and chief salesman around the world. By working side by side with our U.S. Trade Representative and Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross, the USDA undersecretary for trade will ensure that American producers are well equipped to sell their products and feed the world,” Perdue said in a USDA statement.

Moving forward, the Foreign Agriculture Service would be tasked with focusing on marketing U.S. agricultural products rather than a dual purpose of marketing and food aid. This is something that the Progressive Farmer states would view as a positive move by development specialists who see the role of the U.S. government as training foreign farmers how to raise productivity rather than shipping U.S. products to distressed regions.

Other agencies to come under the umbrella of the new undersecretary include the Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) and the Risk Management Agency (RMA), which navigates crop insurance issues and policy.  

The USDA states that the elimination of the undersecretary for rural development “will elevate rural development agencies to report directly to the secretary of agriculture to ensure that rural America always has a seat at the table.”

The plan also calls for the elimination of the undersecretary for natural resources and environment, according to the The Progressive Farmer, resulting in moving the Natural Resources and Conservation Service under control of the undersecretary for farm services. Additionally, the plan calls for making the U.S. Forest Service a stand-alone agency.

Additional shifts call for the reclassification of functions such as rural electricity, broadband, and energy development as offices, losing their undersecretary. However, USDA divisions in charge of public nutrition, food safety; research, education, and economics; agricultural marketing, and regulatory programs will remain as they are.

“The men and women of American agriculture are hardy people, many of whom were born into the calling of feeding America and the world,” said Perdue. “Their efforts are appreciated, and this adjustment to the USDA structure will help us help them in even better ways than before.”


AGP Breaks Ground on New Soybean Processing Facility in Aberdeen, SD

Ag Processing Inc (AGP) held a ground-breaking event today at the site of the company’s new soybean processing facility in Aberdeen, SD.

AGP Board members and management team hosted state and community leaders for the ceremony at the construction site today.

Originally announced in November 2015, the project will bring to Aberdeen and the surrounding area a state-of-the-art soybean processing facility, which will have a tremendously positive economic impact on the community and region.

Photo Gallery of Groundbreaking

“We are excited to break ground on AGP’s tenth soybean processing plant here today,” Keith Spackler, AGP CEO, noted during his remarks.

“This is an opportunity that we have been evaluating for some time, and we appreciate the strong working relationship with state and local economic officials who have been great partners in the process.

“AGP’s cooperative ownership base supports this opportunity to expand and enhance our value-added platform.”

He added that the new facility will begin processing soybeans in the fall of 2019 as originally planned.

“Certainly a construction project as significant as this one requires a good team, and our team is working with others to deliver on the construction phase of this project,” reported Cal Meyer, AGP’s COO.

“This facility will process over forty-five million bushels of soybeans annually, so it will have a very positive economic impact for farmers and communities in this region.

“In addition, the plant will provide the Aberdeen community with nearly fifty new jobs with competitive compensation and benefits.”

“AGP’s desire to build a soybean processing plant in Aberdeen was driven by several important factors, including a large supply of soybeans, a community that can provide for a great workforce, and solid infrastructure and transportation capabilities,” said Brad Davis, AGP’s Board Chairman.

“The relationships that have been formed with the community and our members will make this plant a successful one for many years to come.”

Cargill Joint Venture Opens $100 Million Oilseed Plant in Northern China

A joint venture formed between Cargill, and China’s New Hope Group and Hebei Bohai Investment Group has officially launched Hebei Jiahao Grain & Oil Co. Ltd – a new $100 million oilseed processing plant located in Northern China.

Located in the Bohai New Development Area – the largest economic development zone on China’s east coast, the 21,000 square-meter plant is expected to have annual processing capacity of 1.32 million tons that will help meet demand in the region for high quality food products, help enhance the development of the local economy, and further the integration of the Beijing-Tianjin-Hebei regions.

Concurrent with the announcement of the opening of the plant, a second announcement was made proclaiming the opening of Hebei Jihai Port Co Ltd (Jihai Port), which operates a bulk and general cargo birth with a capacity of 100,000 tons. This port will provide the transportation and storage requirements of the new plant for both domestic and overseas shipments.

Karges-Faulconbridge, Inc. (KFI Engineers) acquires Wentz Associates, Inc.

Karges-Faulconbridge, Inc. (KFI), St. Paul, MN, a recognized industry leader in process and facility infrastructure design, announced today that it has reached an agreement to acquire Wentz Associates, an Edina, MN-based mechanical and electrical engineering firm.

Wentz Associates, Inc., Consulting Engineers, was founded in 1977 by Curtis Wentz. In December 2011, Thomas Wentz and Lawrence Justin purchased the firm. Wentz Associates provides mechanical and electrical engineering in a broad range of markets including, education, healthcare, commercial, municipal, industrial, hospitality, and data centers.

“KFI and Wentz share a common culture of design excellence,” said James A. Faulconbridge, P.E, KFI’s President. “We are very pleased that the Wentz team has chosen to join forces with us. We are excited to welcome such an experienced group, and to expand our capacity to serve key clients throughout the Midwest.”

“Wentz Associates is looking forward to joining the KFI team. This decision will broaden our reach, expand our resources and bring specialized expertise not found elsewhere in this market,” commented President Tom Wentz. “We are excited to grow our ability to serve our key clients while maintaining our long-standing commitment to quality.”

About KFI Engineers
KFI Engineers is a recognized industry leader in process and facility infrastructure design and performance. The firm serves clients in the United States, Canada and Central America and has capabilities not commonly found in traditional engineering firms, including commissioning, and the ability to drive large mechanical and electrical infrastructure projects. KFI was established in 1996 and has offices in Minnesota, Wisconsin, Iowa, and North Dakota. Additional information is available on at