Agribusiness Council of Indiana Newsletter
April 27, 2018
2018 ACI Membership - 
HAVE YOU RENEWED?
It's that time of year again!  ACI membership dues can now be renewed online via our new tab contained in the ACI website. This now allows you to renew your membership online, update your contact and company information, and access online member-only benefits. You will also notice upcoming website upgrades and upcoming events.  

Have you visited the ACI website lately?  Click HERE to see the latest news from YOUR  "Proactive Voice of Indiana Agribusiness"!
Fertilizer Industry Recognized during STB Oversight Hearing
The House Transportation and Infrastructure Rail Subcommittee held an oversight hearing on Tuesday, April 17, to review implementation of the Surface Transportation Board (STB) Reauthorization Act of 2015. TFI sent a letter to the Committee about the fertilizer industry's support for efforts to modernize the STB, which was included in the record.

The only witnesses were STB Chairman Ann Begeman and Vice Chairman Deb Miller. Additional information and to view the recorded video of the hearing can be found HERE.

Among the highlights, Congressman Bruce Westerman (R-AR) talked at some length about the fertilizer industry (54:20 minute mark on video) and the need to improve STB's rate case regulations. Vice Chairman Miller (57:17) also noted that the fertilizer industry has been engaged, "proactive," and sharing great information with the Board.
Monsanto Secures FDA Approval for its Biological Corn Seed Treatment
Monsanto has secured approval from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for its biological seed treatment developed to strengthen symbiosis between microbes and corn plants resulting in stronger root systems.
 
A stronger root system results in greater efficiency in nutrient uptake, and reduces the release of nutrients into the environment. The greater plant biomass also provides a higher level of carbon sequestration in the soil, and the absorption of more carbon dioxide from the air.

Explaining Section 199A
A description of the Section 199A fix that was signed into law on March 23, 2018, was developed by the National Grain and Feed Association and is being made available with NGFA permission.  It may be useful in explaining impacts of the Section 199A solution, which replicates to the greatest extent possible tax benefits to cooperatives and producers of the previous Section 199 in effect in Dec. 2017, while also re-establishing the competitive balance that existed in Dec. 2017.  Per the disclaimer, it is believed to be accurate but should not be used as the basis for legal or tax advice.

House Farm Bill Floor Schedule Slipping; House Conservatives Offer Up Their Version of a "Farm Bill"
While House Agriculture Committee Chair Mike Conaway (R, TX) said last week after a brutal full committee markup and party-line approval of the GOP Farm Bill that he'd like to see the bill on the floor in May, he walked back from that prediction this week, saying he's got to round up 218 hard "yea" votes before getting his controversial bill scheduled for full House action.  

Conaway has been holding small group meetings with colleagues urging support for the bill, especially among conservative Republicans.   He plans to meet with the full GOP caucus this week

The support-gathering task got tougher this week as House conservatives unveiled their own far-reaching 2019 budget plan, along with what they consider to be a fiscally sound Farm Bill, and it looks not a bit like Conaway's committee bill.

The conservative leaders would split the nutrition title out of the broader farm program legislation, just as was done in 2014, but this time they'd stay separate bills.   Work requirements would be added to the federal food stamp program, and the plan would block grant the program.  

The plan calls for cutting the Price Loss Coverage (PLC) and Agriculture Risk Coverage (ARC) programs, the backbone of federal crop income support programs.   The sugar and dairy titles would disappear in favor of "free-market" regulated industries. Crop insurance premium co-pays would be reduced to 30% and administrative cost reimbursement to crop insurance companies would end.   No new enrollments would be accepted in the Conservation Reserve Program (CRP) and the Conservation Stewardship Program (CSP) .

Click here to read the bill text.
Click here to read the section-by-section summary.   
Click here to read policy highlights.
Senate Farm Bill Debate Shaping Up with Emerging Placeholder Bills
Bills aimed at new farm policy are cropping up across the Senate, so-called place-holders for the upcoming Senate Agriculture Committee move to craft its version of a 2018 Farm Bill.  

Committee Chair Pat Roberts (R, KS) and ranking member Sen. Debbie Stabenow (D, MI) are close to consensus on how to proceed, but have not announced a schedule yet.  

Sen. John Thune (R, SD), already the author of a bill to return the Conservation Reserve Program (CRP) cap to 30 million acres, this week reached across the aisle in unveiling a bill to modify the Agriculture Risk Coverage (ARC) to make it more generous to participants.   Thune's bill would adjust the ARC commodity formula for corn and soybean producers.   The current formula pays based on when the average county crop price falls below 86%; Thune's bill changes that payment level to 90%, would be based the crop price on a three-year average, not the current five-year average.   Wheat farmers would see their formula changed so the average yield is increased up to 50% to account for weather events.  

The Thune bill includes portions of a similar bill introduced by Sen. Heidi Heitkamp (D, ND) and Sen. Joni Ernst (R, IA) aimed at getting more reliable yield data by using Risk Management Agency (RMA) numbers, a move to eliminate fluctuations in county data in the same state.  
Planting the Seed 2018: Emerging Trends and Opportunities in the Agriculture and Food Industries
Barnes & Thornburg is hosting Planting the Seed 2018: Emerging Trends and Opportunities in the Agriculture and Food Industries on Wednesday, May 9, 2018.  

Attendees will hear perspectives on new developments in the agriculture and food industries from leaders of international companies, incubators and universities. Also featured on the agenda are panels addressing recent litigation trends; state and federal agriculture policy; and the transformation of the food industry.

For complete details and to register, click here.
Gov. Holcomb Calls Lawmakers Back for Special Session May 14
On April 20, Gov. Eric J. Holcomb  issued a proclamation calling a special session of the 120 th Indiana General Assembly Monday, May 14, 2018. The Constitution of the State of Indiana provides that the governor may call a special session at his discretion if he believes public welfare requires it.

Latest Indiana Polling Released
A random survey of 411 Indiana voters revealed that 67 percent are "very likely" to vote in the general election. To see more results, click here.
ACI Scholarship Applications Available Now!
For several years, the Indiana Agribusiness Foundation has provided scholarships to both high school graduates and current college students who are pursuing a future in the Agricultural Industry. Through the Foundation, the Agribusiness Council of Indiana (ACI) encourages young people to continue their education and eventual participation in agriculture.
Three scholarships are being offered by the association - the  T. Jeffrey Boese Memorial Scholarship, Larry Foster Scholarshipand theJohn Anglin, Jr. Memorial Scholarship.  For more information visit our website or download the application HERE.
Don't Forget: Register for FII
The American Feed Industry Association's biennial Feed Industry Institute is less than two months away.  Register now, and join AFIA June 11-14 in St. Louis, Missouri. The conference, which has been held every other year since merging with the National Feed Ingredients Association, brings together roughly 125 individuals in the industry to learn the basics of the animal food manufacturing process -- from the types of foods used to the animals served to federal policies that shape the output of the industry.  

FII is ideal for people who are new to the animal food industry, as it provides a good overview of animal health and nutrition. Throughout the four-day educational program, industry experts share practical information and best practices for attendees, who will leave with an understanding of how to manufacture high-quality animal food, as well as why doing so is essential for animal productivity and well-being.


Report: Mega-Mergers Alter Landscape for Ag Retailers
Three market-influencing mergers are reshaping the crop protection and seed industry, and that transformation has important implications for the farm supply sector, according to a recent report from CoBank's Knowledge Exchange Division. Many agriculture retailers will likely face operational decisions due to these changes.

Divestments by the parties involved in each of the three mega-mergers -  Dow-DuPontChemChina-Syngenta, and  Bayer-Monsanto - will likely maintain significant competition in the seed and crop protection markets - and should ease price increase concerns, according to Secor.

All Eyes on the Seed Sector
Now that the dust is finally beginning to settle on the mega-company mergers, there promises to be renewed focus on some of the crop input market segments. In particular, expect plenty of activity for this upcoming growing season and beyond in the seed category.

Restructuring of 7 CFR 319.37: Importation of Plants for Planting Regulations
On April 17, 2018, USDA-APHIS formally announced the release of the restructured regulations for importing plants for planting. The American Seed Trade Association does not anticipate that this restructure will have an impact on seed company day-to-day operations. In the restructured regulations, APHIS consolidated all of the general requirements for importing plants for planting into one place, making them easier for stakeholders to find and APHIS to update. In addition, APHIS will also post future import restrictions for specific types of plants for planting in the Plants for Planting Manual, instead of codifying them in the CFR. Previously, regulations for seed imports were scattered throughout many different commodity regulations, which made finding information difficult. This restructure does not change any specific import requirements, and will provide a "one stop" resource for the industry.

To read the USDA's Plants for Planting Manual, click here.
Registration Open for 2018 ResponsibleAg Auditor Training Course
The next ResponsibleAg Auditor Training Course will be offered June 19-22, 2018, in Owensboro, Ky. Registration is now open, and seats are limited to 24 for the four-day course offered by ResponsibleAg, an industry initiative launched in 2014 to help retail facilities comply with federal environmental, health, safety and security rules for safe handling and storage of fertilizer and agrichemical products. The course provides graduates with a thorough understanding of the assessment and auditing process as it relates to the areas found at retail facilities including dry fertilizer, liquid fertilizer, anhydrous ammonia, seed treater, shop, office and grounds.

The comprehensive 'hands-on' course is held at the Ford B. West Center for Responsible Agriculture, a former agrichemical facility retrofitted specifically for training purposes. After completing the course, attendees may apply with ResponsibleAg to become a credentialed auditor.

For complete details and to register, click here.
Registration Open for Purdue Strategic Decision Making Seminar
Strategic Decision Making is a three-day seminar hosted by the Purdue University Center for Food and Agricultural Business that gives you the knowledge and tools needed to make strategic choices. You will learn how to clarify the specific decision you need to make, list the alternatives and manage any risk involved. Mastering this process and using these tools significantly increases your odds of success.

For complete details and to register, click here.
RFS Waiver Battles Continue; Perdue Says EPA Practice is 
"Demand Destruction"
EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt, citing rising Renewable Identification Number (RIN) market prices, told lawmakers on Capitol Hill his agency has granted 53 "small refiner" waivers from 2016 and 2017 Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) fuel blending mandates.  

Critics contend Pruitt is issuing waivers to refineries owned by national and international petroleum companies, while the waiver program is supposed to be limited to plants processing less than 75,000 gallons a day.  

Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue this week told the Senate Agriculture Committee that EPA's waiver program use eliminated demand for about 1.12 billion gallons of ethanol last year, which he says undermines the RFS program.

"Our conclusion is that's direct demand destruction," Perdue said at a hearing designed to showcase his first year as secretary.   His analysis lines up with that of the Renewable Fuels Assn. (RFA).   He also said Pruitt's use of waivers may conflict with an earlier directive to EPA to do nothing that might erode the 15-billion-gallon RFS set by Congress.  

Perdue told the panel the run-up in RIN prices has more to do with refiner market practice than speculators or manipulation of the markets.   He said refiners were "hoarding" RINs, in some cases, driving up prices to hurt smaller refiners.   "That's as much of a factor as the blend wall," he said.  
NAFTA Progress Slow, but Sure; 
Trade Concerns Continue
Both Canada and Mexico continue to be cautiously optimistic about an eventual successful outcome to the ongoing NAFTA 2.0 negotiations, while the U.S. is mum.   Meanwhile, Treasury Secretary Steve Mnunchin headed to China this week to talk prospective tariffs, a move designed to calm continuing trade war fears.

The chief Mexican trade negotiator emerged from the third day of intense ministerial negotiations in Washington, DC, this week vowing to stay and work as long as it takes to get to a general agreement in principle on a new NAFTA treaty.   His Canadian counterpart echoed his sentiments, adding 'creative' suggestions have emerged on sticky issues, including a U.S. sunset provision, automobile and parts access, and other issues.  

Mnuchin's trip to China gave heart to U.S. agricultural exporters that the U.S. is seriously talking to China about trade policy changes between the two nations that will avoid an all-out trade war after President Trump threatened to impose nearly $150 billion in tariffs on Chinese goods moving to the U.S.   The Chinese government quickly answered in kind, targeting U.S. agriculture imports.    
Weekly Washington Report - 4-27-18
(by Steve Kopperud)
Click  HERE  to access the full Washington Report featuring these important stories:
  • House Farm Bill Floor Schedule Slipping; House Conservatives Offer Up Their Version of a "Farm Bill"
  • Senate Farm Bill Debate Shaping Up with Emerging Place-holder Bills
  • Pruitt Whipsawed in House Hearings
  • RFS Waiver Battles Continue; Perdue Says EPA Practice is "Demand Destruction"
2018
ACI Board of Directors
  
ACI Chair
Rod Miller
Crop Fertility Specialist
  
Vice Chair
Drew Garretson
Winfield United

ACI Secretary
Marv Ulmet
Bane-Welker Equipment
  
ACI Treasurer
 Jim Engelberth
Dow AgroSciences
  
ACI BOARD MEMBERS

Justin Daugherty
GROWMARK

Ben Green
Purple Ribbon Seeds

George Greenwood
ADM Grain 

Jason Helms
AgReliant Genetics

John Larimer
Lords Seed
  
Alan Lowe
Lowe's Pellets & Grain

Brad McCord
Co-Alliance
  
Mike Schweickert
J. P. Morgan Securities, LLC

 ACI   Ex-Officio
Dave Reichhart
AgPlus
  
ISTA Ex-Officio
Rodney Busick
Syngenta

Ex-Officio
Alan Galbreth
ICIA

Ex-Officio
Dr. Jayson Lusk
Purdue
Dept of Ag Economics

Ex-Officio
Don Robison
OISC

Ex-Officio
Dr. Ron Turco
Purdue
Dept of Agronomy

Our Vision:  
The Agribusiness Council of Indiana will be the premier advocate serving members' business interests.
  
Our Mission: 
 The Agribusiness Council of Indiana supports members with legislative representation, industry insight and regulatory guidance.


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