News: General News
USSEC Member, Louisiana-based Russell Marine Group, released a report this week on the condition of U.S. rivers. The Russell Marine Group operates in all ports within the United States and together with their South America partner, Rechlin-Russell Marine Group, they also service all ports within South America. Their report follows:
As 2012 year end draws near, it will be the driest on record for the U.S. Looking ahead through the first quarter of 2013,the Central Midwest down to the Oklahoma and Texas plains are expected to remain in exceptional drought conditions. The Ohio River Valley States and eastern edges of the Midwest are expected to get precipitation which is good news for the Lower Mississippi River.
The Upper Mississippi River
The Upper Mississippi River continues to fall. Although there was some rain in areas of the Midwest last week, it did slow the fall for a short period of time, but the falling trend will continue. By the 3rd week of December barge drafts are expected to be reduced to 8 ft. (current max draft is 9 ft) By the end of December, the water level between St Louis and Cairo will be low enough, without substantial rain, where barge drafts no longer matter. The push boats, even the medium sized push boats, will draw too much draft to operate on that section of river.
Barge lines are moving barges out of St Louis into Cairo and areas just north and south of Cairo on the Ohio River and Lower Miss. Cairo is becoming the barge/tow hub with expectations of the Lower Miss remaining open. (more info below)
The Corps of Engineers has awarded 2 contracts for the blasting and removal of the rock pinnacles at Thebes, Il, just north of Cairo on the Upper. The contractors are moving equipment into the Thebes area and blasting operations have now been moved up to start late December/early January. The operation is expected to take 40 to 60 days. There is no schedule yet for any navigation that may still be taking place during the removal period.
Relief to replenish water on the Upper Miss is not encouraging over the next few months. Forecasts call for below average rain which are usually dry anyway. Precipitation could come in the way of snow that will not immediately help the Upper river in the way of run off until spring. Also, ground is dry and just waiting to recharge with any form of precipitation.
The Corps started reducing flows from the Missouri River into the Upper Miss as mandated by law. The Corps cannot circumvent the law without either Congress changing the law or obtaining a disaster emergency declaration issued by the President. We are not yet at a point where anyone seems willing to make that political maneuver and risk moving prematurely. it remains a wait and see approach. The Corps does have some reservoirs of water that can be released but any such releases only have a short term effect. Per the law, the Missouri river can be fully reopened in March.
When the rocks at Thebes are blown and removed, dredging operations can take place. Dredging can certainly help, but it cannot be considered a fix all if the river system continues to fall out.
There is talk about reverse flow of water off the Ohio River running up the Upper Miss. River when Upper Miss levels get very low. However, the reality is not practical, it would take a large amount of Ohio River flow, which is not in the cards, and it would only impact a section of Upper river around Cairo. Rain in the Midwest remains the answer to this problem on the Upper. 1st quarter forecasts are usually dry with rain levels increasing in March.
The Ohio River Valley did get a lot of rain last week which means a rise on the Lower Miss is coming. The gauge at Memphis, which has been our reference point since the summer, will rise from its current level of -8 ft to – 2 ft on Dec. 17. At that time, without rain, it will start to drop again and be at minus -9 ft by end of December.
During the 1st quarter attention will focus on rain in the Ohio River Valley keeping water levels up on the Ohio River and feeding the Lower Miss. Long range forecasts do call for improving rain conditions in this area of the country. The Ohio River is the main source of flow on the Lower Miss. If forecasts are correct, the Lower Miss, with the help of dredging, should remain open to navigation. We will probably still experience low water and slow downs with groundings and a lot of congestion as operations shift mainly to the Lower Miss. The hope is that we can hold on during 1st quarter, which is usually dry, and see improvements as typically wet spring approaches.
New Orleans Harbor – SWP to Baton Rouge
Water levels in the harbor remain low but barge traffic and ocean vessel traffic remain normal and are expected to remain normal. The deep south has been getting rain which is feeding the southern part of the Lower Miss.
Mouth of the Arkansas River
Montgomery lock at mouth of Arkansas River is closed to all barge/tow traffic while lock repairs take place. Scheduled to reopen Dec 21.
USSEC brought together for the first time a large group of soy protein commercial decision makers from throughout the Maghreb, the Mediterranean Rim, the Gulf States and Egypt in Dubai, United Arab Emirates. The Dubai Commercial Launch is an exciting new event for the USSEC organization designed to introduce and discuss the new USSEC Middle East/North Africa (MENA) and Asia Subcontinent (ASC) regional structure. The event provided a regional forum to connect USSEC leadership and team members, U.S. trade and industry representatives, U.S. grower leaders, regional FAS leaders, and regional soy protein commercial leaders and influencers.
Sharon Covert, Vice Chair, USSEC; USB Director and U.S. Grower Leader, gave the opening address. Alan Kemper, Past Chairman and Past-President of the American Soybean Association (ASA), then provided a producer’s perspective of the business of farming in America.
John Baize, USSEC contractor, discussed global soy protein and opportunities for the commodity in the Middle East. Tom Hammer, President of the National Oilseed Processors Association, then highlighted the U.S. processing industry. Wayne Bacon, President, Hammersmith Marketing Ltd., then discussed contracts and risk assessment of U.S. soy procurement.
Next, market specific information was provided by: G. Chandrasekhar, Associate Editor, Hindu Business Line; Dr. Faisal Awawdeh, Regional Coordinator for Arabia Peninsula Program of the International Center for Agricultural Research in the Dry Areas; and Dr. Tarek Hatem, Professor of Strategic Management and Entrepreneurship for the American University in Cairo.
The forum concluded with brief market overviews from industry expects and a roundtable on the commercial aspects of U.S. soy protein in the Middle East.
The 28th annual Japan Soy Outlook Conference was held in Tokyo on December 10 and 11. The event is one in a series of USSEC Soy Outlook Conferences, which are currently taking place in Asia.
Speakers at the Tokyo event included: John Becherer, CEO of the United Soybean Board (USB); Larry Marek, USB Director; Ken Dalenberg, former USB director; Ross Korves, Economic Policy Analyst; and Seth Naeve, Associate Professor of University of Minnesota.
Participation has consistently increased each year and this year more than 350 crushers, feed millers and others from the industry were drawn to the Tokyo event. The audience was interested in learning about the impact of this summer’s drought on quality and supply and demand. They also wanted to learn about high oleic soybean oil. Seven USSEC member organizations participated by exhibiting their products to attendees.
Country director Mitsuyuki Nishimura states, “Our Soy Outlook Conference is a great opportunity for those in the Japanese soy industry to communicate directly with U.S. grower leaders about U.S. soybean production.”
A journalist from Nikkei BP (Nikkei Business Publication), who attended the USSEC hosted press conference, wrote two online-articles about the event, which are currently ranking in the top five of articles accessed on their website. Nikkei BP Online leads Japan news sources with views reaching 125 million per month.
USSEC recently participated in the Sixteenth National Poultry Congress in Cali, Colombia, where more than 1,650 business professionals were in attendance. USSEC representatives provided technical assistance to participants on the benefits of using U.S. soy meal in poultry diets. Poultry is one of the most important economic sectors in Colombia, and statistics show a steady yearly growth of 6 percent in the last decade–one of the highest in the local agri-economic sector.
Every year egg producers in Colombia yield more than 10 billion eggs nationwide and produce more than one million metric tons of chicken meat. There are more than five thousand poultry operations in the country, generating 300,000 jobs.
USSEC hosted a trade team from Korea to Bangkok, Thailand, in order to demonstrate the value in tropical climates of using dehulled soybean meal in swine and broiler production. The hot summer season in Korea is similar to the tropical climate of Thailand. The abundant protein and amino acid content of U.S. dehulled soybean meal supports good digestibility in these climate conditions.
The delegation consisted of seven purchasing and technical staff employees of Korean feed mills that purchased U.S. hipro dehulled soybean meal in 2012. The team visited Thai companies using or producing dehulled soybean meal, including three feed mills (Betagro Public Co., Ltd., Inteqc Feed mill and SPM Feed mill) and a crusher (Thai Vegetable Oil Public Co., Ltd.).
Because the U.S. is the only dehulled soybean meal supplier to Korea, creating a market for hipro dehulled soybean meal during summer season would help to expand the market.
USSEC recently conducted one-on-one meetings with trout farmers participating in feeding demonstrations at Lake Titicaca in Peru. USSEC Contractor Jairo Amezquita led the meetings at Darwin Gomez’s Biomarina Farm and Pablo Huaman’s farm and used feeds produced by Naltech and meal developed by Schillinger Genetics. Demonstrations evaluated high protein soy meal compared to traditional soy meal and soy protein concentrate in aquatic feeds.
The feeding demonstrations produce 15,000 metric tons of fish per year with a majority of the market share in Bolivia for finished products. Today trout is selling between $3.40 and $3.60 U.S. dollars per kg. Peruvian trout producers’ return on investment ranges from 50-70 percent each year.
Last week in St. Louis, USSEC hosted their Board of Directors for an orientation and planning meeting. After the Call to Order by Chairman Randy Mann, the group completed training required by the USDA. Jim Sutter, USSEC CEO, then provided an overview of the organization, including historical information, current corporate structure, and the organization’s identity and role in the Soy Family.
Linda Snell, Director, Certificate of Nonprofit Governance Program, LBL Strategies., Ltd., then led the group in a discussion of USSEC’s governance model, along with USSEC International Program Director, Ed Beaman. Sharon Covert, USSEC vice-chairman and farmer from Illinois, outlined proposed by-law changes. A discussion about membership led by board member Brandon Bickham (The DeLong Company) and Dana Johnson, USSEC Senior Strategy and Program Advisor, completed the first day of meetings.
The second day of the Board Meeting included highlights of the U.S. soy messaging platform currently under development. Next, Mike Mattei, USSEC CFO, outlined the organization’s financial processes. Drew Klein, International Program Director, described the unified export strategy process and Dean Barefield, Strategy and Evaluation Analyst, discussed evaluation tools. The meeting concluded with a USSEC office visit.
This week in St. Louis, USSEC staff participated in the United Soybean Board (USB)’s biennial CONNECTIONS meeting, which brings together representatives from throughout the U.S. soy value chain to shape our industry’s plans over the next 5 to 10 years. Leaders work with others in the soy industry to set global priorities related to USB’s strategic objectives, which are:
- Increase the value of soy meal
- Increase the value of soy oil
- Assure our industry has the freedom and infrastructure to operate
- Focus on our customers by meeting their needs with quality products and services
Jay Lehr, who serves as Science Director for the Heartland Institute, gave the keynote speech. “You need to be continually improving and moving forward on promoting what you do,” said the author, inventor and accomplished athlete in his remarks. There are both opportunities and threats for soybean farmers that deserve attention, Lehr continues. China represents one opportunity. The growing world superpower is home to nearly 1.3 billion people and holds many benefits for soybean farmers. Lehr also suggested that rising global affluence is another boon for America’s soybean farmers. In spite of the continued international recession, the actual level of affluence around the world has increased dramatically.
This year’s CONNECTIONS aimed to identify the “game-changing” issues or market scenarios that will profoundly impact each one of these categories and determine what the industry needs to do to positively shape them. Further information about these game changers will be forthcoming.
The meat-processing sector in the Dominican Republic uses 85 percent of the soy protein imported into the country. In late July, the Consumer Protection Agency claimed several processed meats available in the market were not fit for human consumption. This information devastated processed meat sales, specifically salami, which is a staple food in the country. Currently, sales decreased by 75 percent, and some plants are expected to close.
USSEC contractor Julio Chaves recently met with several meat processing companies and members of a meat processors association to provide technical assistance. In order to stay competitive, Chaves discussed food safety procedures, such as residual nitrates and bacterial count. Chaves also provided recommendations to two plants that are in the process of building new infrastructure.
USSEC recently conducted a series of feeding demonstrations on grass carp density for the first time in Shanxi province, China. Three density trials with soy-based feed were conducted at the Yongji Municipal Fish Stock Farm to evaluate fish growth performance and feed conversion ratio. The grass carp feed contained 53.1 percent soy products, including 46.5 percent soy meal, 6 percent soy hulls and 0.6 percent soy oil. The demonstration yielded fish growth and production performance –the grass carp grew from 75 g to 1,000 g in 190 days.Over the last three years, fish farmers in the region had limited knowledge of extruded soy-based feed, which prompted USSEC to conduct several technical seminars to promote pond aquaculture technology with soy-based extruded feed. During production season, many farmers visited the demonstration ponds to observe growth performance. Yuncheng Municipal Fisheries Extension Center concluded that the total consumption of extruded soy-based feed increased from zero to more than 700 metric tons in 2012, which increases opportunities for U.S. soy-based fish feeds in the region.
Recent elections and shifts in former military leadership opened up new opportunities for U.S. soy exports in Myanmar due to the country’s aquaculture industry. A year ago, the Southeast Asia (SEA) Region introduced the SEA Aquaculture program in Myanmar, and with the help of local coordinator May Myat Noe Lwin, the program has made significant links to the country’s aquaculture industry.
This program’s success led to several more visits to Myanmar to discuss USSEC production models and the value of U.S. soy. Myanmar aquaculture stakeholders also traveled to Thailand to inspect marine fish hatcheries and Singapore to link U.S. soy exports with potential buyers in Myanmar. Within the next few years, USSEC projects that Myanmar will import 7,000 metric tons of U.S. soy.
Korean flounder growers who participated in past USSEC workshops recently met with aquaculture utilization contractor In Soo Shin to discuss upcoming events. Feedback from the meeting helped USSEC staff develop future activities for 2013. Responses confirmed that 50 percent of participants are still unaware of the benefits of soy meal and soy protein concentrate in aqua feed.
Future marketing activities will target uninformed flounder growers who applied to join a new Korean government program that expands the use of soy meal-based extruded pellet feed. Reduction of feeding costs, sustainable supply and quality consistency will be covered to highlight the benefits of soy-based extruded pellet feed compared to fish meal-based extruded pellet feed.
USSEC and Meridien Group, an animal feed additives producer, recently hosted the 2012 International Symposium on Animal Nutrition and the Modulation of Gut Health in Changsha, Hunan province, which attracted more than 300 Chinese poultry and swine producers.
Animal nutrition and feed ingredients play an important role in animal gut health. USSEC organized the symposium to increase awareness of quality soybean meal utilization in animal feeds. Presenters from the United Kingdom, Greece and the Netherlands discussed various measures that can be employed to manage gut health.
Zhang Xiaoping, country director for China, shared soy market updates, and Richard Han, animal utilization technical director, and Leo Liu, technical manager, participated in a question and answer session. Initial survey results showed that the topics were well received by participants, and some expressed their willingness to try technologies introduced during the symposium.
The USSEC Southeast Asia Soy in Aquaculture team recently participated in the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR) seminar on cost-efficient feed management and marketing strategies to improve productivity and income. More than thirty participants, including milkfish cage operators, technicians, feed managers and investors, attended the event.
Diomede Bucog Jr., Tateh Premium Feeds Corp. area sales manager, discussed feeds for milkfish culture in cages, and Levy Manalac, USSEC technical manager for aquaculture, discussed cost efficient feeding management and highlighted key components of successful aquaculture, including:
- Water quality management inside the cages and cage positioning.
- Advantages of using extruded floating feeds vs. sinking feeds.
- The importance of using high quality ingredients, such as U.S. soy meal.
- Various cost efficient feeding management tips.
USSEC recently presented new business opportunities on value-added soybean varieties that will soon be commercialized in the United States. Kim Nill, USSEC technical issues director, spoke with the research and development and business planning departments at Korea’s two soybean processing companies about how these new varieties will allow companies to market new food, feed and biolubricant products.
Nill also presented at a joint meeting of the Korea Nutrition Society and International Union of Nutritional Sciences with delegates attending from thirteen Asian and Pacific countries. He explained how value-added soybeans will reduce major malnutrition problems in those countries.
USSEC recently visited several swine processing plants in Columbia and talked to personnel about security standard operating procedures. As these employees work in state of the art facilities, Julio Chaves, USSEC contractor, highlighted their responsibilities to meet public health standards and strict protocols to assure meat quality. Practicing safe and sanitary methods leads to higher pork sales and an increased demand for soy-based feed.
Previously, Columbia imported 90 percent of its soybeans from the United States, but due to high tariffs, Columbia currently imports a majority of its soybeans from South American countries. The free trade agreement may allow the United States to increase its soybean market share in Columbia.
USSEC Southeast Asia investigates potential models that could be used to estimate the carrying capacities of common bodies of water for sustainable aquaculture production. In a recent workshop in Indonesia, Dave Bengtson, Ph.D., of the University of Rhode Island, worked with Gede Sumiarsa, Ph.D., USSEC aquaculture local coordinator, to study the maximum allowable production in a body of water.
A body of water, such as a lake, reservoir, bay or river, and its carrying capacity has four major considerations: physical, production, ecological and social. Unfortunately, fish farmers are often misled that bodies of water should maximize instead of optimize fish production. Waste from rapid aquaculture development affects the production and life span of inland and coastal waters. If farmers continue to solely focus on increasing the number of fish produced, their business cannot be sustained.
Bengtson also emphasized the importance of better soy-based feeds and feeding methods during the workshop. Similar study trips have been conducted to see if potential modeling approaches can be used to regulate aquaculture locally, nationally and regionally.
USSEC recently participated in the Non-Ruminant Nutrition Forum in Korea. Swine and poultry nutritionists from feed mills and swine and poultry integrators attended the event. A need for analysis of amino acids in soybean meal (SBM) was discussed at the forum, and Hyung Suk Lee, animal utilization technical director, suggested that nutritionists and integrators analyze all imported SBM to evaluate the economic value of crude protein and amino acid content.
U.S. hipro dehulled SBMcontains more amino acids than SBM from South America and India, and evaluating the amino acids on imported SBM can differentiate the economic value of certain products. Following the forum, Lee visited the Korea Feed Association lab and its member feed mills to analyze imported SBM.
USSEC, the United Soybean Board (USB) and the American Soybean Association (ASA) hosted the first Forum for Sustainable Supply of Grains and Oilseeds for the Americas Nov. 13-15 in Pureto Vallarta. The event drew a large audience with more than 80 top executives from international soy trading companies, U.S. exporters, USSEC member companies and U.S. grower leaders to discuss key issues affecting the oilseed and grain trade in North and South America.
Experts from Mexico, Central America, and the Andean and Caribbean regions presented valuable market intelligence highlighting drivers and inhibitors to expanding market share for U.S. soy in the region. The U.S. supply and demand situation was presented by USSEC Board Member and USB Director Tom Rotello (Texas), ASA Treasurer and Trade Policy and International Affairs Chairman Bob Henry (Kansas), USB consultant John Baize, and Gary Martin, President and CEO of the North American Export Grain Association.
USSEC member company, Commodity and Ingredient Hedging LLC, was represented at the forum by Michael Shawver, Manager of Business Development. He presented a profile of a company that considers risk management and procurement strategies to reduce cost and be more competitive. Educating U.S. soy buyers on risk management and procurement skills is a key element of USSEC’s strategy to provide business development tools to strengthen relationships with key customers in high growth international markets.
Other topics discussed during the conference included change management; biotechnology; food security; international certifications and regulatory standards; branding and digital marketing; and nutritional genomics. Audience response devices were utilized to allow conference participants to provide feedback in real time and helped drive meaningful discussions and informed conclusions.
Earlier this year, USSEC hosted buyers conferences in Southeast Asia and Europe. These conferences allow participants to discuss emerging issues and reflect on the challenges and opportunities that face the soy industry. Linking buyers and suppliers for meaningful discussions and networking opportunities translates into an effective platform for trading and relationship building. This was the first such conference held in the Americas and another first-time buyers conference is scheduled for Dec. 12-13 in Dubai, U.A.E. when USSEC will launch its new office there covering the Middle East, North Africa and Asia Subcontinent region.
The full program and speaker profiles are available in both English and Spanish on the forum website: www.forodesuministrosustentable.com.
USSEC hosted a Chinese crop tour team attending Grain and Soy Trade Summit in New Orleans to tours of soybean farms in Indiana, Iowa, Illinois and Minnesota. During the trip, Chinese delegates visited with soybean farmers, elevator managers and co-op executives. The hands-on tour allowed Chinese buyers to see all aspects of the U.S. soy industry, from farming, warehousing and handling to marketing and transportation logistics.
Through the farm tours, USSEC assured the Chinese team members of the steady supply of U. S. soy despite this year’s severe drought. Crop conditions turned out to be much better than previously estimated due to late-season rain and the adoption of biotech crops. The team inspected soybean fields, soil and farm equipment and visited with soy farmers about production costs and farming practices such as biotechnology, seeds, tillage, machinery and chemical uses. Some of the team members even rode in a combine with the hosting farmers for the first time to observe soybean harvest. Many commented on the efficiency and reliability of U.S. soy production which will ensure food security in the United States and the rest of the world.