Archer Daniels Midland company CEO Juan Ricardo Luciano said in the company’s third-quarter earnings call Tuesday that low water levels on the Mississippi River will likely reduce soy exports from North America.

Luciano said the window for corn exports would probably be extended into the first quarter because of the “unprecedented” low water levels. He noted, however, that the company’s South America division would be able to export more.

Take note: The company saw approximately $1.56 billion in profits in its third quarter, a jump of approximately $577 million from the same period last year.

NMPF calls for milk pricing reforms

The National Milk Producers Federation leadership has formally adopted a plan to overhaul the milk pricing system in federal milk marketing orders

Among other things, the group wants to scrap a key change in the 2018 farm bill. Under that provision, the price paid for fluid milk (Class I) must now be at least 74 cents per hundredweight over an average of the prices for Class III (milk sold for cheese) and Class IV (butter and milk powder). 

That change was intended to provide companies buying fluid milk with more predictability in pricing, but it backfired on many milk producers during the pandemic. 

“We have made tremendous progress and are moving forward with the strong level of consensus in the producer community that we will need to achieve our goals of modernization,” said NMPF President and CEO Jim Mulhern.

The broader industry remains divided over whether and what reforms are needed. 

FMC tackles ‘unreasonable’ refusals to ship US ag exports
The Federal Maritime Commission is now tackling one of the trickiest tasks needed to implement the Ocean Shipping Reform Act – deciding how to define “unreasonable” in order to prevent ocean carriers from unreasonably refusing to deliver U.S. farm exports to their destinations.
Decisions will need to be made on a case-by-case basis on what is reasonable, but FMC is also proposing criteria that need to be set to ensure that refusals by carriers are “connected to a legitimate business decision or motivated by legitimate transportation factors.”
But the FMC, in its call for public feedback on its proposed rule to define “unreasonable,” also stressed that “commercial convenience alone is not a reasonable basis for a common carrier's refusal to deal or negotiate.  A common carrier granting special treatment to one party over another because that party is a regular customer is likewise likely to be viewed as unreasonable.”
The International Dairy Foods Association says it is not satisfied and complained that FMC, despite the title of the proposed rule, still has not defined unreasonable. Instead, IDFA said in its feedback comments, the FMC “notes that every situation is case- and fact-specific and subject to an analysis of several listed factors, as well as potentially other factors that are not listed but which the commission could find relevant.”

Regional networks to assist in new organic transition program

As part of USDA’s food system transformation efforts, the agency is establishing cooperative agreements in six regions across the United States for the Organic Transition Initiative, Transition to Organic Partnership Program (TOPP).

Organizations participating in the partnership network will work together to establish and administer a farmer-to-farmer mentorship program providing direct farmer training, education and outreach activities. These activities will help transitioning and recently transitioned producers who face technical, cultural and market shifts during the transition period and the first few years of organic certification.

“The organic community is known for strong local collaboration and providing farmer-to-farmer support,” USDA Undersecretary for Marketing and Regulatory Programs Jenny Lester Moffitt said. “TOPP will build on this spirit, while bringing organic to new communities of farmers and consumers.”

Ukraine works to meet EU traceability standards

Ukraine, in its efforts to bring its food regulations closer to those of the European Union, has set up a traceability system for all animal-origin products. The oval-shaped packaging marks that will contain data on food products are “another step towards Ukraine's fulfillment of its obligations within the framework of the Association Agreement with the European Union,” according to a statement released by Ukraine’s Agriculture Ministry.

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But don’t expect food manufacturers to be adhering to the regulations while there’s still a war going on. The law mandating the traceability regulations won’t go into effect until two years after martial law is lifted in the country, the ministry said.

School bus rebates of $913 million will mostly fund electric vehicles

Electric school buses will make up the vast majority of about 2,500 vehicles funded with about $900 million from the bipartisan infrastructure law passed a year ago, the White House is announcing today.

Vice President Kamala Harris will be in Washington state to say that 389 school districts in 50 states and the District of Columbiawill receive $913 million to buy the buses, 95% of which will be electric. An EPA official on a press call Tuesday said about 100 of the buses would be fueled by propane autogas and “a very small number” by compressed natural gas.

School districts identified as priority areas serving low-income, rural, and, or Tribal students make up 99% of the projects that were selected.

He said it: "I guess the good news is as long as they don't tell us anything, they're still looking into it. But the slowness of it is problematic to the point that I think the packers themselves are unintimidated by it.” – Sen. Kevin Cramer, R-N.D., about the Justice Department’s two-year-old investigation into potential price fixing by the nation’s four largest beef processors. 

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