September 21, 2014

Cargill Sues Syngenta Over MIR 162 Trait

Cargill, Inc has filed suit against MIR 162 trait maker Syngenta Ag, alleging that Syngenta’s push to sell corn seeds with the modified trait known more popularly as Agrisure Viptera cost them millions.

Cargill filed the lawsuit in Louisiana State Court on Friday seeking damages.  The suit alleges Syngenta acted with negligence, unfair trade practices, and knowning, willful misconduct.  Cargill reasons that by selling the seeds to U.S. farmers before it had secured Chinese approval for imports of corn from that trait, Syngenta’s actions cost them, and the ag economy in general, millions of dollars.  More specifically, they say Syngenta’s actions contributed to a 28% decline in its quarterly earnings.

Syngenta has responded by saying the lawsuit is without merit and that U.S. farmers badly need the new trait to fend off insects that have grown resistant to commonly used pesticides and that U.S. farmers shouldn’t have to rely on the Chinese government to determine which products they can use.

The Agrisure Viptera trait has been sold with approval in the U.S. since 2011 to producers in the U.S., Argentina, and Brazil with government approval.  China did not start rejecting corn for containing the trait until November of 2013.  Syngenta says the MIR 162 trait was submitted government approval in China back in 2010.


CHS Will Proceed With Spiritwood Fertilizer Manufacturing Plant

CHS Inc. announced today it will proceed with construction of a fertilizer manufacturing plant at Spiritwood, N.D.

The CHS Board of Directors approved final plans for the approximately $3 billion project at its September meeting. Groundbreaking will take place following completion of additional details, with the plant intended to be fully operational in the first half of calendar 2018. When complete, the plant will employ 160-180 people.

“With this decision, CHS is taking an important, strategic step on behalf of its member-owners by ensuring them a reliable domestic supply of nitrogen fertilizers essential to help farmers raise healthy, profitable crops to feed a growing global population,” said Carl Casale, CHS president and chief executive officer.

The fertilizer plant at Spiritwood will be the single largest investment in CHS history, as well as the single largest private investment project ever undertaken in North Dakota. “CHS is proceeding today as the plant’s sole investor,” said Casale. “However, because our owners’ interests are at the heart of what we do, we will always pursue ownership of strategic assets and partnerships that will help us continually add value to their businesses.”

Tim Skidmore, CHS executive vice president and chief financial officer, said, CHS is a financially strong company with the balance sheet strength to undertake this significant investment. We believe this fertilizer plant will deliver solid returns on our owners’ investment in addition to providing them with an essential crop input.”

The CHS fertilizer plant will produce more than 2,400 tons of ammonia daily which will be further converted to urea, UAN and Diesel Exhaust Fuel (DEF). The majority of the nitrogen products from the plant will serve farmer-owned cooperatives and independent farm supply retailers within a 200-mile radius of the plant in the Dakotas, parts of Minnesota, Montana and Canada.

The plant will be located 10 miles northeast of Jamestown, N.D., on a 640-acre site near the Spiritwood Energy Park. When fully operational, it is expected to use an estimated 88,000 MM British thermal units/day of natural gas, 40 megawatts/day of electricity and 2,400-2,700 gallons/minute of water.

“Throughout plant construction and when operational, CHS is committed to stringent employee and community safety standards and has plans for a fully-trained, on-site emergency response team for fire and EMT services, along with an emergency response plan developed with community responders and safety systems for fail-safe shutdown,” said Brian Schouvieller, CHS senior vice president, Ag Business.

CHS first announced its interest in building a fertilizer manufacturing plant in September 2012. In April 2014, the company postponed a final decision when construction and labor costs exceeded initial estimates.

“Because of the size and scale of this investment, we needed to take the additional time to review costs and reassess areas where we could make modifications,” Casale said. “We are now fully prepared to proceed with an investment that will add tremendous value to our member-owners, and further expand our global crop nutrients business platform.”




Fargo Picked For National Agricultural Genotyping Center

NCGAThe National Corn Growers Association’s Corn Board today announced that Fargo, N.D., will be the site of the National Agricultural Genotyping Center. The final decision follows careful deliberations by the site selection committee, who visited Illinois and North Dakota to assess the possibility of locating the center in either Decatur or Fargo, and NCGA’s Research and Business Development Action Team.

“This is a first-time-ever, huge step for a farmer-led association that gives growers more influence on research agendas,” said Dr. Richard Vierling, director of research at NCGA. “This can help growers increase production and lower costs. We’re really excited about Fargo and the commitment from the many forward-thinking people involved in this project. The commitment from North Dakota State University, North Dakota Corn Growers, Gov. Jack Dalrymple, the state’s congressional delegation and many others really helped sell the plan to our team.”

The site selection committee, which includes Dr. Richard Vierling, Pete Snyder, Bob Bowman, Bob Timmons, Phil Gordon and Chad Willis, was chosen to conduct these visits by the Research and Business Development Action Team, and come from states which did not submit proposals. The report submitted following the visits was based upon the team assessment of selection criteria determined by RBDAT for use in deliberations over the final recommendation. The Corn Board approved the final recommendation during a meeting held earlier today.

The site visits followed a July vote taken by the Research and Business Development Team narrowing the final list of site location proposals under consideration.

The National Agricultural Genotyping Center will translate scientific discoveries, such as the information from the maize genome project, into solutions for production agriculture, food safety, functional foods, bioenergy and national security.

The NAGC partnership brings together Los Alamos National Laboratory, the premier research institution in the world with a proven track record in developing high-throughput genotyping technology, and the National Corn Growers Association, an organization representing more than 42,000 farmer members