January 30, 2015

Shipping Hub in the Magic City

The Minot Area Development Corporation is attending the KMOT AG Expo at the North Dakota State Fair Center in Minot, and they’ve got opportunities on hand for the right agricultural company.

The Corporation has two slots available at the Port of North Dakota, which is currently under Phase 1 of the Port’s expansion.  We visited with Mia Camarata, Marketing Director for the MADC…


Camarata says The Port offers advantages for businesses that want to put down roots in the Minot area…


It’s a pretty prime location, too, not far down the road from the State Fair Center…


Officials estimate the Port Hub serves roughly a 250-mile area around Minot in the Bakken Region —including eastern Montana, northern South Dakota, northwestern Minnesota, southern Manitoba, and southeastern Saskatchewan.


Russian Grain Exports Higher Than Last Year Despite Obstacles

Russian grain exports through the first half of the marketing year are up 31.6%. The number was released by the Russian Ag ministry Monday morning and reflects shipments between July 1st and January 14th.  Total shipments came to 21.571 mmt of grain, of which 16.852 mmt were wheat, 3.26 mmt were barley and 1.183 mmt were corn.

The number came as a surprise to some, with Russia suffering from sanctions imposed by the EU and the U.S. and the government also taking measures to slow exports in order to control inflation.  It was Christmas Day when the government announced export duties of 15% with a minimum of roughly $42 US dollars per ton.  That duty is in addition to a host of other unofficial controls such as higher freight rates and tougher quality controls.

The EU also shows no signs of wanting to lift sanctions in the near future.  Some members of the EU parliment have questioned if these sanctions are having any effect but foreign ministers of bloc countries stressed that sanctions will not be lifted until Russia follows the terms of a cease fire in Ukraine that was signed last September.  Fighting was reported to be continuing Monday with violence throughout eastern Ukraine and intensifying fire around the city of Donetsk.


FDA Says Voluntary Compliance to Regulations Is Key To Food Safety

Working under tight court-mandated deadlines to finalize a series of Food Safety Modernization Act rules, Food and Drug Administration Deputy Commissioner Mike Taylor said his agency is focusing on three broad themes in implementing the 2011 law: the farm-to-table approach, practical common standards, and holding imports to the same standards as domestically produced foods. Taylor was speaking to a group of farmers and ranchers from across the country during a workshop at the American Farm Bureau Federation’s 96th Annual Convention.

FSMA, Taylor said, codified the agency’s farm-to-table approach for food safety, which means everyone from farmers and ranchers, to transporters, food processors, retail outlets and consumers, we all have a role in food safety.

In drafting rules that work for across a broad spectrum of farm type and regions, the agency is aiming to craft consistent standards applicable across the food system while ensuring those standards are workable for everyone.

“It’s our job to be clear about expectations – practical expectations – and to work with the [regulated] community to achieve them,” Taylor said.

Central to FDA’s efforts with FSMA is ensuring imported food is as safe as U.S.-grown food. Currently, FDA inspectors only get a good look at 2 percent of imports. The proposed FSMA rules would shift that onus from FDA to importers who provide verification that the food meets U.S. standards.

In putting all of these rules in place, FDA is focusing on voluntary compliance, rather than enforcement, Taylor emphasized.

“Our operating assumption is that most people want to do the right thing. We’ll get a bigger public health bang for our buck if we’re working together with stakeholders on implementation,” he said. “We really see the agriculture community as a primary constituency, a collaborative partner.”

Taylor also touched upon the agency’s implementation of a voluntary process to phase out the use of medically significant antibiotics (those used to treat humans for illness) for feed efficiency and animal growth promotion, while retaining their use for the treatment and prevention of specific diseases, under veterinary supervision.

“Most important in transitioning to this oversight is ensuring adequate access to veterinary services,” he said. “This is something we’re working on with USDA and AVMA (American Veterinary Medical Association.).”