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Interstate-shipment program for meat expands

The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Food Safety and Inspection Service and the State of South Dakota have finalized a Cooperative Interstate Shipment agreement. It provides an opportunity for selected state-inspected meat and poultry processors to ship their products across state lines. In the Cooperative Interstate Shipment agreement, the State of South Dakota may inspect meat in selected establishments for shipment throughout the United States.

Nine states currently participate in the program to promote expansion of business opportunities for state-inspected meat and poultry establishments. Selected state-inspected establishments that comply with federal-inspection requirements are permitted to ship their product in interstate commerce.

“If we’re going to strengthen our nation’s food system and prevent supply-chain bottlenecks before they occur, we must continue to provide smaller meat-processing establishments the opportunity to build their local and regional marketplaces,” said Sandra Eskin, USDA deputy undersecretary for food safety.

The Cooperative Interstate Shipment program is limited to establishments located in the 27 states that have established a meat and poultry inspection program. To be eligible to participate state meat and poultry inspection programs must meet criteria to show that the inspection it provides to state-inspected plants will be the “same as” the inspection the Food Safety and Inspection Service provides to official federal establishments.

The Food Safety and Inspection Service provides ongoing oversight of the Cooperative Interstate Shipment program to ensure participating states maintain and operate their “same as” programs in compliance with applicable federal statutes and regulations and follows the federal agency’s directives and notices. The agency reimburses the states for 60 percent of their costs associated with providing the interstate eligible inspection service.

In addition to South Dakota the Food Safety and Inspection Service has signed agreements with Indiana, Iowa, Maine, Missouri, North Dakota, Ohio, Vermont and Wisconsin. Visit fsis.usda.gov/cis for more information.

Cooperative boards vote to unite

The boards of directors from Select Sires Inc. and five member cooperatives have voted to unite the federation to become Select Sires Cooperative Inc. The decision must next be ratified by delegates or member-owners from each of the five member cooperatives.

Select Sires will remain a farmer-owned and controlled cooperative with grassroots leadership throughout the United States. All customer-owner membership and patronage due will be transferred to and paid by Select Sires Cooperative Inc.

Farmer boards from five of the six cooperatives – All West-Select Sires, CentralStar Cooperative Inc., COBA-Select Sires Inc., Select Sires MidAmerica Inc., and Minnesota Select Sires Co-op Inc. – voted to recommend the unification proposal to their respective delegate or farmer-owner voting body. While the vote to recommend unification wasn’t unanimous, Premier Select Sires will remain a cooperative member of Select Sires Cooperative Inc. and will have access to Select Sires’ genetics and programs.

Farmer-owners won’t experience service changes pending unification of the cooperatives, according to Select Sires. Visit selectsires.com/unify for more information.

Water, waste disposal loans, grants offered

The United States Department of Agriculture is encouraging eligible applicants to apply to the Water and Waste Disposal Loan and Grant Program. USDA’s Water and Environmental Programs in fiscal year 2020 invested $2.09 billion to improve rural infrastructure.

The Water and Waste Disposal Loan and Grant Program provides loans and grants for clean and reliable drinking-water systems, sanitary sewage disposal, solid-waste disposal and storm-water drainage to households and businesses in rural areas with a population of 10,000 or less.

Funding also may be available for related costs such as legal and engineering fees, land acquisition, water and land rights, environmental analyses and surveys, and other activities necessary to complete a project. Eligible applicants include local public bodies, nonprofit corporations and federally recognized tribes.

Low interest rate financing may be combined with grants to keep user rate affordable. Loans can carry a repayment term of as much as 40 years. rd.usda.gov and search for "RD Apply" or rd.usda.gov and search for "state offices" for more information.

Agricultural-tourism website updated

The Wisconsin Agricultural Tourism Association recently updated its website. The website’s ‘search by feature’ option allows users to find winery and dining experiences, fairs and outdoor activities, farm-stay vacations or lodging, barn venues for special events and more. Visit wiagtourism.com for more information.

Genomics company appoints board member

Trace Genomics of Redwood City, California, recently appointed Robert Fraley to its board of directors. Fraley served for about 40 years as chief technology officer at Monsanto. He will provide guidance to Trace Genomics as it advances its science and products in the field of soil deoxyribonucleic-acid – DNA – testing.

Trace Genomics developed a soil-microbiome test to help farmers predict soil disease, soil health and crop quality using DNA sequencing and machine learning.

The company’s board also includes Bill Buckner, former president and CEO of Samuel Roberts Noble Foundation-Noble Research Institute, Veery Maxwell, a partner in Ajax Strategies, Cristina Rohr, principal of investments at S2G Ventures, and Mike Toelle, formerly with Country Partners Cooperative and CHS. Visit tracegenomics.com for more information.

Companies to develop autonomy solutions

Horsch and Trimble recently agreed to collaborate on developing solutions that enable autonomy in agriculture. The collaboration will integrate Trimble's guidance systems, path planning and in-field process automation with Horsch’s machines.

The first phase will bring automation to planning, machine-control and logistical challenges faced by sprayer operators to improve machine performance and reduce operating errors. The technology will establish a basis for operating fully autonomous machines, according to the companies.

The companies are currently implementing automation and driver support with steering systems. With increased automation a driver can perform additional in-cab tasks during field work, such as documentation, planning and coordination of work processes. Visit horsch.com and agriculture.trimble.com for more information.

Company adds novel cereal grain

Arcadia Biosciences Inc. recently acquired the assets of Agrasys S.A, a food-ingredients company based in Barcelona, Spain. The transaction will enable Arcadia to commercialize tritordeum, a cereal grain developed at Spain’s Instituto de Agricultura Sostenible-Consejo Superior de Investigaciones Científicas. The grain was licensed exclusively to Agrasys for commercialization.

A combination of durum wheat and wild barley, tritordeum features elevated levels of fiber, protein and lutein. It also is water-efficient with good disease and pest resistance and broad environmental adaptability, according to Arcadia.

There is untapped potential for tritordeum in North America and other important cereal markets, according to Matt Plavan, CEO of Arcadia. Visit tritordeum.com and arcadiabio.com and agrasys.es for more information.

Plant-based protein deal inked

Animal-protein company JBS recently entered into an agreement to purchase Vivera, a plant-based food producer in Europe. Vivera develops and produces plant-based meat alternatives for retailers in more than 25 European countries. The deal involves three manufacturing units and a research and development center located in the Netherlands.

Vivera will join other JBS initiatives such as Seara International and Planterra Foods, with the OZO brand in the United States. Visit jbs.com.br/en and vivera.com for more information. 

Soft-red-winter-wheat assets acquired

Grow Pro Genetics recently acquired the AgriPro soft-red-winter-wheat-breeding program owned by Syngenta. The sale involved soft-wheat germplasm and designation of Grow Pro Genetics as the exclusive supplier of AgriPro-branded wheat in the soft-wheat class.

Grow Pro Genetics is involved in varietal selection and testing of wheat genetics. It provides seed through the AgriPro-branded business as well as through private-label licensing. Grow Pro Genetics plans to release new varieties for pilot production and sales in 2021 and broader access to varieties in 2022.

The company’s business office is based in Bourbonnais, Illinois. Its primary research and development facility is in Hamel, Illinois. Visit growprogenetics.com more information.

Renewable-diesel production expands

The Love's Family of Companies, Cargill and their affiliates have entered into a joint venture to produce and market renewable diesel. The joint venture, Heartwell Renewables, will result in construction of a production plant with the capacity to produce about 80 million gallons of renewable diesel per year.

Cargill will provide feedstock in the form of tallow. Once the diesel is produced, Musket, the commodity-trading and logistics arm of the Love's Family of Companies, will transport and market the product in the United States.

The production process makes renewable diesel chemically identical to petroleum diesel with improvements in environmental performance due to a reduction in carbon intensity and emissions, according to Cargill.

Construction of the new plant is scheduled to begin soon. Renewable-diesel production is expected to start in spring 2023. The joint venture is expected to employ about 50 people. Visit cargill.com and loves.com for more information.

Companies sign renewable-natural gas pact

Clean Energy Fuels Corp. recently formed an agreement with Amazon to provide renewable-natural gas at 27 existing Clean Energy fueling stations and another 19 non-exclusive new or upgraded Clean Energy-owned stations. The new stations are expected to be built by year’s end. The new and existing stations will provide renewable-natural gas in 15 states.

Clean Energy Fuels’ renewable-natural gas is derived from biogenic methane produced by the breakdown of organic waste. The company is helping vehicle users to reduce greenhouse-gas emissions from 60 percent to more than 400 percent depending on the source.

Clean Energy can deliver compressed natural gas and liquefied natural gas. It operates a network of 565 stations across the United States and Canada and owns natural-gas-liquefaction facilities in California and Texas. Visit cleanenergyfuels.com for more information.

Cheese company appoints executive

Saputo Inc. recently appointed Leanne Cutts as president and CEO for the company’s international and Europe businesses. Her appointment will become effective in the second half of 2021.

Cutts is currently the global chief marketing officer at one of the world’s largest banks. Prior to that she held senior-management positions in Australia, Asia and the United Kingdom where she was responsible for overseeing marketing, new product development, manufacturing and operations for companies in the food and beverage industry and in the consumer-healthcare industry.

Cutts will be based in Melbourne, Australia, and will report to Kai Bockmann, Saputo’s president and chief operating officer. Cutts’ appointment will allow Bockmann to focus on global corporate and strategic functions. Visit saputo.com for more information.

Investment in technology surges

Global investment in agricultural- and food-technology companies in 2020 surged to $22.3 billion. Based on early data investments in 2021 are expected to exceed that record amount, according to Finistere Ventures, a venture-capital firm.

Low interest rates and a soaring equity market drove 2020 investments. Potential disruption of markets fueled increases in investment across all stages and segments, according to Finistere Ventures.

The company recently published a report in collaboration with PitchBook Data. The report provides an analysis of which sectors earned the most investor interest in 2020. It also features a preliminary look at investment activity in early 2021. Highlights from the report are featured.

  • Due to the industry’s successful adaptation in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, investment in agricultural technology continued to expand at a staggering pace through the end of 2020. About $5 billion was invested, comprising about one-third of the $15.9 billion raised across agricultural-technology sectors since 2010.
  • Biotechnology remained the top investment area, attracting $1.3 billion in capital in 2020. It started 2021 strong with $268.2 million secured in the first quarter.
  • Interest in indoor agriculture spiked, driven by supply chain and sustainability factors as well as growing consumer preference for local, fresh produce. The sector received $1.3 billion in funding for 2020, more than doubling year-over-year from $601 million raised in 2019.
  • Due in large part to pandemic pressures, investment in animal technology soared in 2020 reaching about $848 million after lackluster interest in recent years.
  • Digital technologies, precision agriculture, plant sciences, and agricultural marketplace and financial tech also broke investment records in 2020. Stakeholders made clear a commitment to help growers manage climate change and overcome mounting sustainability pressures.

Visit finistere.com for more information.

Hemp genome transformed

Calyxt Inc. recently transformed the hemp genome. The transformation technology will enable future advancements in hemp such as trait delivery, gene editing and advanced plant breeding.

The company’s first efforts are focused on standardizing the crop for broad-acre adoption and reducing the risk for hemp production. The efforts will initially come to market as breeding-platform tools or licensed traits and be commercialized by germplasm and hemp-based ingredient and material companies, Calyxt stated. Visit calyxt.com for more information.

Coalition invests in biobased infrastructure

The BDO Zone Investment Coalition plans to invest $1 billion in biobased infrastructure and manufacturing plants located in Bioeconomy Development Opportunity Zones.

The coalition is comprised of biobased investors, capital markets and associations that finance or promote development of biobased projects. The projects produce ground and sustainable aviation fuels, renewable chemicals, bioenergy and biogas.

BDO Zones are areas in the United States and Canada with surpluses of biomass feedstock and capability for biobased development and infrastructure to support new manufacturing plants. Zone designations are force-multipliers for communities to leverage agricultural residues, wood fiber, and food and farm waste as engines for clean-energy infrastructure and job creation, according to the coalition. Visit bdozone.org or contact jordan.solomon@ecostrat.com for more information.

UW-Platteville selected for grant

The University of Wisconsin-Platteville recently was selected to participate in the Rural Schools Collaborative’s 2021 Catalyst Grants Initiative. The initiative provides planning grants to support establishment of new rural-teacher-corps programs. Each participating institution receives a $25,000-planning grant to support program development. The grant will support the opening of the Driftless Hub this fall. Visit ruralschoolscollaborative.org and search for "catalyst grants" for more information.

Companies to accelerate gene-editing innovations

Inari and Beck’s recently formed a research and development and business agreement. Inari brings to the agreement predictive design and gene-editing technology. Beck’s brings to the collaboration its corn research and breeding program.

Inari’s SEEDesign platform features artificial intelligence that is used to predict plant-behavioral outcomes to improve crop performance. The company’s gene-editing tools were developed to make desired changes in the plant faster than traditional breeding methods. Visit Inari.com and beckshybrids.com for more information.

Micronutrient company acquired

Koch Agronomic Services LLC recently acquired Compass Minerals' North American micronutrient assets, the global intellectual-property rights, and certain other assets associated with Wolf Trax, Rocket Seeds and Hydro Bullet product platforms.

The acquisition aligns with Koch's plan to grow from a focus on nitrogen efficiency to being a nutrient-efficiency solutions provider, the company stated. Visit KochAgronomicServices.com for more information.

USDA invests in small-business research

The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s National Institute of Food and Agriculture recently invested more than $2.3 million in the USDA Small Business Innovation Research Program. Eight grants totaling $812,939 were awarded to small businesses to improve plant production and protection. Eight awards totaling $797,602 were awarded for research in animal production and protection. Seven awards totaling $706,120 were awarded for conserving natural resources.

Among the funded Plant Production and Protection (Biology) Small Business Innovation Research projects is one at Argvegenix LLC of St. Louis. The project is called “Development of Novel Cover Crop, CoverCress, as a Sustainable Plant-based Protein Source for Food Applications.” The research is focused on CoverCress as a new source of protein for the plant-based protein market.

Among the funded Animal Production and Protection Small Business Innovation Research projects is one at Pan Genome Systems LLC of Madison, Wisconsin. The project is called “Multivalent Vaccines Against Infectious Bronchitis Virus.” It is focused on developing and testing new vaccines for treating severe respiratory infections in poultry.

Among the funded Conservation of Natural Resources Small Business Innovation Research projects is one at Applied Environmental Solutions LLC of Madison, Ohio. The project is called “Investigation of Passive Phosphorus Reduction Through Use of an Innovative Hydrogel Technology.” The research is focused on using hydrogel technology to reduce phosphorus resulting from fields, streams or outflows from constructed wetlands.

The next Phase 1 request for Small Business Innovation Research applications is scheduled to open in July 2021, with a deadline in October 2021. Visit nifa.usda.gov and search for “Small Business Innovation Research Program” for more information.

USDA invests in markets, resources

The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s National Institute of Food and Agriculture recently invested a total of $14.5 million in two programs – $8.6 million for 18 Economics, Markets and Trade projects, and $5.9 million for12 Environmental and Natural Resource Economics projects.

Among the projects awarded funding from the Economics, Markets and Trade grant program is one at the University of Arizona. Called “Using Field Level Soil Quality Data for Crop Insurance: A Big Data Simulation and Credibility Approach to Improve Crop Insurance Pricing and Agricultural Land Sustainability Practice,” the project will explore an improved crop-insurance method that uses soil information and big-weather data to increase premium-pricing accuracy.

Among the projects awarded funding from the Environmental and Natural Resource Economics grant program is one at the University of Arkansas. Called “Performance Feedbacks and Peer Comparisons in Irrigation Management,” the project is focused on helping producers make more informed irrigation-management decisions. Visit nifa.usda.gov for more information.

Companies form cannabis pact

Agrify Corporation and Front Range Biosciences recently formed an agreement to combine cannabis cultivation and genetic research. Agrify develops precision hardware and software cultivation solutions for indoor agriculture. Front Range focuses on cannabis and hemp genetics.

The partnership will be based in both California and Colorado. Agrify's vertical-farming units will be installed at Front Range’s breeding facilities. The program focus will be on optimizing cannabis and hemp cultivation environments to drive the best performance from different genetic cultivars. Researchers will work to achieve maximum yield, consistency, and terpene output with minimum variance in cannabinoid levels.

Emphasis on terpene content and minor cannabinoids is expected to drive new flavors and experiences as the cannabis market evolves beyond measuring value simply by tetrahydrocannabinol content. The companies also plan to optimize production for large-scale cultivation. Visit agrify.com and frontrangebio.com for more information.

Grants awarded to colleges

The Agriculture and Rural Initiative, Compeer Financial’s donor advised fund, recently granted $825,000 to community and technical colleges across the cooperative’s 144-county territory. The organization in January announced it was committing $1.9 million in grants and scholarships in the next five years with the goal of further developing agriculture’s workforce. The recent announcement involves the first of three rounds of grants being presented. Many of the grants help to enhance the hands-on learning and real-world experiences offered to agriculture students at the colleges. Fourteen colleges received grants in the first round.

Chippewa Valley Technical College of Eau Claire, Wisconsin – $75,000 for a tractor, training for diverse populations, support for farm business and production management program, and other needs for programs in poultry, soil, tractor safety and beekeeping

Dakota County Technical College of Rosemont, Minnesota – $75,000 for large-animal shelter, animals and teaching model development

Gateway Technical College of Kenosha, Wisconsin – $75,000 for handicap-accessible garden area, horticulture supplies, veterinary-technician x-ray machine and oxygen lines

Highland Community College of Freeport, Illinois – $50,000 for precision-agronomy program’s first tractor

Illinois Central Community College of East Peoria, Illinois – $50,000 for a utility terrain vehicle with global-positioning-system technology and for the Ag, Diesel and Horticulture Showcase

Illinois Valley Community College of Oglesby, Illinois – $25,000 for equipment and technology for crops, soils and precision-agriculture laboratories, and professional development

Kishwaukee College of Malta, Illinois – $75,000 for greenhouse renovations and upgrades

Lake Land College of Mattoon, Illinois – $75,000 for student recruitment, agriculture-education software upgrades and professional development

Madison Area Technical College of Madison, Wisconsin – $50,000 for equipment updates for agricultural-service technician, agricultural-equipment technology, diesel-equipment technology and diesel and heavy-equipment technician programs, and student recruitment.

Ridgewater College of Willmar, Minnesota – $75,000 for precision-agriculture trailer and to implement a meat-cutting certificate program

Sauk Valley College of Dixon, Illinois – $25,000 for new tractor for agriculture education

St. Cloud Technical and Community College of St. Cloud, Minnesota – $50,000 for soft-skills development and agricultural-experience development

Vermillion Community College of Ely, Minnesota – $75,000 for a building for outdoor-learning laboratories, classrooms and storage

Wisconsin Indianhead Technical College of Shell Lake, Wisconsin – $50,000 for veterinary-technician canine surgical model, dystocia calf, bovine-injection simulator and ruminant model

The grants are expected to directly affect the lives of more than 2,710 students studying agriculture and agriculture-related fields, and to enhance curricula offered by more than 125 faculty members and instructors.

In addition to the 14 colleges, 16 others will receive grants in 2022 and 2023. Each partner college also will receive two annual $1,250 scholarships to award students enrolled in the school’s agriculture program or pathway in the next five years.

The colleges were selected as partners based on their agricultural-education offerings, agriculture-workforce development and geographic impact.

The Agriculture and Rural Initiative was created by the Compeer Financial board of directors in 2019 to make signature investments in programs and projects that directly address the needs of farmers and others working in agriculture. Visit compeer.com for more information. 

Partnership promotes startups

ADM Ventures, the corporate venture-capital arm of ADM, has joined the Genesis Consortium. Genesis is a global alliance of venture-capital firms and corporations dedicated to supporting startups that leverage biology to promote human and planetary health.

Innovative startups are unlocking scientific advancements by leveraging biology and fermentation to produce nutritional, health and wellness, and biomaterial solutions sustainably and cost-competitively, said Ian Pinner, chief strategy and innovation officer at ADM. He said that ADM is focused on leveraging its fermentation experience to accelerate commercialization of innovations.

ADM Ventures invests in startups with disruptive technologies in human nutrition, animal nutrition and sustainability. It also seeks startups that use ADM’s assets and feedstocks to produce sustainable materials. Its separate internal, incubated new-products group creates and operates new product lines and new businesses for ADM.

The Genesis Consortium was founded by Silicon Valley-based investors SOSV and Mayfield Fund. SOSV is the parent company of IndieBio, a startup accelerator and early-stage investor for biology-centered startups worldwide. Visit genesisconsortium.org for more information.

Companies to produce biobased intermediates

Cargill and HELM recently formed a joint venture, Qore, to help manufacturers replace fossil-based chemistries with biobased intermediates. The companies are investing $300 million to build a commercial-scale, renewable 1,4-butanediol facility. The facility is planned to be built at Cargill’s biotechnology campus and corn-refining operation in Eddyville, Iowa. The plant is expected to be operational in 2024.

Biobased intermediates enable the apparel, automotive, electronics and packaging industries to improve their environmental footprint without sacrificing product performance or altering their existing manufacturing processes, according to Cargill.

The new venture combines Cargill’s supply chain and product commercialization in several bioindustrial markets with HELM’s experience in bringing chemical applications to the market.

The Qore joint venture will focus on producing QIRA, the next-generation 1,4-butanediol. Made through the fermentation of plant-based sugars, QIRA can save as much as 93 percent of greenhouse-gas emissions when replacing chemical intermediates made from fossil sources, according to Cargill. QIRA can be used for making spandex and other polyester-based chemical fibers as well as biodegradable plastics, polyurethane coatings, sealants and artificial leathers.

Qore has licensed Genomatica’s 1,4-butanediol-process technology and is using Cargill’s global feedstock supply and fermentation-manufacturing capabilities to initially produce and distribute an expected 65,000 metric tons per year minimally of QIRA. HELM will work with brand owners, original equipment manufacturers and their suppliers to incorporate QIRA into their respective products. Visit cargill.com and helmag.com for more information.

This article originally ran on agupdate.com.

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