Assistant deputy secretary appointed

Eric Ebersberger recently was named assistant deputy secretary of the Wisconsin Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection. He will begin his duties Nov. 23.

Ebersberger holds a master’s degree in water-resources management as well as a law degree. He has 25 years of experience in state service, spanning two state administrative agencies and one legislative service agency. Most recently he served as a policy advisor to the Secretary of the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources. Prior to that role he served in various positions where he supervised budget analysis and administered the agency’s water-quality programs. Visit datcp.wi.gov for more information.

County-committee ballots accepted

The U.S. Department of Agriculture recently mailed ballots for the Farm Service Agency county-committee elections. The Farm Service agency has more than 7,000 county-committee members nationwide who provide input on USDA programs at the local level.

Each committee has three to 11 elected members who serve three-year terms. At least one seat is open for election each year. Newly elected committee members will take office Jan. 1, 2021. County-committee members help the Farm Service Agency make decisions on its commodity-support programs, conservation programs, indemnity and disaster programs, and emergency programs and eligibility.

Producers must participate or cooperate in a Farm Service Agency program to be eligible to vote in the county-committee election. A cooperating producer is someone who has provided information about his or her farming or ranching operation but may not have applied or received Farm Service Agency program benefits.

Producers can learn if their local administrative area is open for election and if they’re eligible to vote by contacting their local Farm Service Agency county office. Eligible voters who didn’t receive a ballot may request one from their local county office.

Ballots must be returned to one’s Farm Service Agency county office or be postmarked by Dec. 7. Visit fsa.usda.gov/elections for more information.

BASF acquires L-glufosinate ammonium technology

BASF has acquired proprietary technology for L-glufosinate ammonium from AgriMetis, a developer of biotechnological innovations for crop protection. Glufosinate products consist of the active L-glufosinate ammonium and the inactive D-glufosinate ammonium. The latter is converted into active L-glufosinate ammonium by the new ‘Glu-L’ technology.

The technology will help farmers to reduce the amount of crop protection they need to apply by as much as 50 percent, according to BASF. The new product is currently in the registration process in the United States and is expected to be launched in the next few years. Visit agriculture.basf.com for more information.

Carbon-credit trading platform launched

Cibo Technologies recently launched CIBO Impact, which is designed to help farmers generate and sell carbon credits from regenerative-farming practices. The platform provides a marketplace for organizations and individuals wanting to offset their carbon footprint by purchasing credits directly from farmers.

The platform automates verification of practices and credits by using remote sensing and computer vision. Once practices are verified, credits are registered on the marketplace where buyers can purchase carbon credits directly from the farmer. Carbon credits are calculated on an annual basis for practices implemented in the course of a single growing season.

CIBO Impact also provides access to field-level data at a national scale, including productivity, stability, valuation and field history. It provides “what-if” calculators to enable users to see the carbon footprint or yield impact of various practices for specific fields.

The CIBO Impact marketplace will enable parties interested in supporting sustainable practices to connect with farmers. Examples include lenders, retailers and input companies that have offerings targeted toward regenerative farming, according to CIBO Technologies. Organizations with public carbon and climate commitments can monitor their agricultural supply-chain portfolios and support them through the purchase of carbon credits from specific farms and fields. Visit cibotechnologies.com for more information.

Labor department funds derecho recovery

The U.S. Department of Labor recently awarded a Disaster Recovery National Dislocated Worker Grant for as much as $3 million to Iowa Workforce Development. The funding was made in response to the derecho in August that damaged a number of Iowa businesses, homes, crops and livestock.

An initial award of $1 million will create disaster-relief jobs to address debris cleanup and delivery of humanitarian assistance to people affected by the storms. The project will focus efforts in 16 Iowa counties.

National Dislocated Worker Grants temporarily expand the service capacity of dislocated worker training and employment programs at state and local levels. They provide funding in response to large, unexpected economic events that cause significant job losses. Visit dol.gov for more information.

New DDGS standard published

The American Society of Agricultural and Biological Engineers recently published a new standard related to physical and chemical properties of distillers dried grains with solubles. The data are included in “ANSI/ASABE D606 OCT2020, Properties and Relationships for Distillers Dried Grains with Solubles.” The data are important for the design, construction, operation and utilization of commercial and on-farm structures, equipment and a variety of end uses, the society stated.

Society members with standards access and those with site-license privileges may download the information from the organization's online technical library. Others may obtain a download for a fee directly from the library or by contacting the society. Visit elibrary.asabe.org or contact OrderStandard@asabe.org for more information.

Partnership to study drop-in fuels

Evaluating corn dextrose as a feedstock for the production of “drop-in” low-carbon biofuels and biochemical is the aim of a recent collaboration between Cargill of Wayzata, Minnesota, and Virent, Inc., of Madison, Wisconsin.

Virent’s BioForming technology uses plant sugars as a feedstock to produce drop-in renewable gasoline and jet fuel. The feedstock also could be used in the production of biochemicals such as bio-paraxylene, a raw material for producing renewable and recyclable biopolyester. The sugars may originate from corn, sugar cane and sugar beets, wood, corn stover and other plant sources.

Establishing the process for producing jet fuel and renewable gasoline as a complement to ethanol will open new markets for corn. It also will expand opportunities for both renewable fuels and chemicals, said Dave Kettner, president of Virent.

Upon the study’s completion, Virent will use the findings to evaluate options for scale-up and the development of a commercial facility utilizing the technology. The long-term objective is to use commercially available feedstocks today as a bridge to next-generation lignocellulosic feedstocks. Visit cargill.com and www.virent.com for more information. 

CRP payments issued 

The U.S. Department of Agriculture is issuing $1.68 billion in payments to agricultural producers and landowners for the 21.9 million acres enrolled in the Conservation Reserve Program. The program provides annual rental payment for land devoted to conservation purposes.

Through the Conservation Reserve Program farmers and ranchers establish long-term, resource-conserving plant species to control soil erosion, improve water quality, and enhance wildlife habitat.

Signed into law in 1985 the Conservation Reserve Program is one of the country’s largest private-lands conservation programs. It was originally intended to primarily control soil erosion and potentially stabilize commodity prices by retiring marginal lands from production. The program has evolved, providing many conservation and economic benefits. The program marks its 35-year anniversary in December. The USDA reported some of the program’s highlights.

  • Preventing more than 9 billion tons of soil from eroding, enough soil to fill 600 million dump trucks;
  • Reducing nitrogen and phosphorous runoff relative to annually tilled cropland by 95 and 85 percent respectively;
  • Sequestering an annual average of 49 million tons of greenhouse gases, equal to taking 9 million cars off the road;
  • Creating more than 3 million acres of restored wetlands and protecting more than 175,000 stream miles with riparian forest and grass buffers, enough to circle the world seven times; and
  • Benefiting pollinators and increased populations of ducks, pheasants, turkey, bobwhite quail, prairie chickens, grasshopper sparrows, and many other birds.

Conservation Reserve Program participants with contracts effective beginning Oct. 1, 2020, will receive their first annual rental payment in October 2021. Visit fsa.usda.gov for more information.

Customer operators offers grants

The Wisconsin Custom Operators Inc. recently created a grant program to provide small, flexible awards to assist with projects or programs that will benefit custom farming and the agricultural community. Awards range from $500 to $5,000. Funding is available as soon as application is approved by the Wisconsin Custom Operators’ scholarship and awards committee. Priority is given to projects that meet the criteria listed.

  • Directly benefit the custom-farming community
  • Involve custom farmers or clients of custom farmers
  • Involve post-secondary student research or organization opportunities
  • Emphasize farm safety and health, leadership, teamwork, sustainability, innovation or community involvement

Those eligible for grants are listed.

  • University or technical college faculty, staff, students or student organizations
  • Nonprofits, with an Internal Revenue Service status of 501(c)(3) or (c)(5)
  • Others deemed appropriate by the Wisconsin Custom Operators’ scholarship and awards committee

Examples of programs eligible for funding are listed.

  • Funding for student researchers or other staff as part of a larger project
  • Costs associated with hosting an event such as a research symposium or farmer meeting
  • Speaker travel, per diem, honorarium, continuing education or other expenses
  • Incentive funds for farmers or custom farmers to try new practices

Applications for the grant program are accepted and approved on a rolling basis. Fifty percent of funds are available immediately upon application approval. The other 50 percent is available upon receipt of a final report. Applicants need not be members of the Wisconsin Custom Operators. Visit wiscustomoperators.org and click on the "About us" tab and then the mini-grants link for more information.

Smithfield Foods CEO to retire

Kenneth Sullivan, president and CEO of Smithfield Foods Inc., will retire from the company in early 2021. Dennis Organ, chief operating officer, U.S. operations, will succeed Sullivan as president and CEO.

Sullivan led Smithfield for the past five years. He oversaw the "One Smithfield" initiative. It unified Smithfield's operations, brands and more than 55,000 employees globally under one corporate umbrella.

During the COVID-19 he oversaw the investment of $600 million to keep team members as healthy and safe as possible, assist them through the pandemic, and reward them for their willingness to accept the responsibility of maintaining the nation's food supply, according to Smithfield.

Organ joined Smithfield in 2010 and assumed in 2019 his current position as chief operating officer, U.S. operations. For the past two years he has overseen the operations of the company's vertically integrated domestic business. Visit smithfieldfoods.com for more information.

USDA modernizes egg-products inspection

Egg products-inspection methods are being updated for the first time since Congress passed the Egg Products Inspection Act in 1970, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture. The Egg Products Inspection Regulations final rule aligns egg-products regulations to be consistent with current requirements in the meat and poultry products-inspection regulations.

Federally inspected egg-products plants in the new rule are required to develop and implement Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Point systems and Sanitation Standard Operating Procedures. The USDA Food Safety and Inspection Service will continue to test for Salmonella and Listeria monocytogenes in egg products. The agency requires that plants produce egg products that meet food-safety standards and are edible without additional preparation. Nothing in the final rule changes those requirements, according to USDA.

In the Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Points system plants will be able to tailor a food-safety system that best fits their particular facility and equipment. By removing prescriptive regulations egg-products plants will have the flexibility and incentive to innovate new means to achieve enhanced food safety, according to USDA.

The Food Safety and Inspection Service will assume regulatory authority for egg substitutes and freeze-dried egg products, which pose the same risk as egg products. They will be inspected in the same manner.

The agency also has realigned regulations governing the importation and inspection of foreign egg products more closely with regulations governing the importation of foreign meat and poultry products. The agency will notify foreign countries of the regulatory changes. Countries that have ongoing equivalence and most countries that have requested initial equivalence for egg products already have Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Point systems implemented for egg products for their domestic products, the USDA stated. Visit fsis.usda.gov and search for "egg products regulations" for more information.

Plant-based food pact formed

PlantPlus Foods recently was formed by Brazil’s Marfrig and Archer Daniels Midland. The Chicago-based joint venture will offer plant-based food products across North America and South America.

Marfrig is a beef producer and a beef-patty producer. It owns 70 percent of the new venture. ADM is a 30 percent owner. Marfrig will be responsible for finished product production and distribution. ADM will supply technical assistance, application development and plant-based ingredients, flavors and systems from its specialty-protein complex in Brazil, and its network of U.S.-based ingredient and flavor facilities such as its new pea-protein plant in Enderlin, North Dakota. Visit marfrig.com.br and adm.com for more information.