Industry News – December 2012
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Ag Alumni Seed has named Jay Hulbert as its new president and CEO, succeeding retiring president Fayte Brewer. Most recently, Hulbert was the CEO of IGP and has previously served in a variety of capacities in the vegetable seed business. Ag Alumni Seed’s activities involve research, development and marketing of popcorn seed for domestic and international markets; contract seed production, and a private label licensing program. In addition, the company also releases wheat and oat varieties as well as advanced traits.
Sandra Peterson, chairman of the executive committee and CEO of the subgroup Bayer CropScience, has asked for her contract, which runs until summer 2013, to be terminated effective November 30, 2012. The supervisory board of Bayer CropScience agreed to her request at a meeting held recently. Peterson became CEO of Bayer CropScience on October 1, 2010. Before moving to Bayer CropScience, she was a member of the executive committee of Bayer HealthCare since May 2005, and has headed up the Medical Care Division since January 2009.
Seedway has announced organizational changes in its vegetable seed business unit, with Dean Cotton assuming responsibility for vegetable seed sales, product line development and variety testing across Seedway’s entire market area. Ken Ludwig will manage wet seed product coordination and wholesale sales. Responsibility for grower sales management has been assigned to Roy Pearman in the northern sales region and Arlen Wood in the southern sales area. Dennis Shoop will continue to manage operations and Trent Aldous will manage vegetable business customer service and administration as well as IT functions for all of Seedway.
Illinois Crop Improvement has announced that Douglas Miller has been named the company’s CEO designate and will assume full responsibilities on January 1, 2013. Dennis Thompson will continue to serve as CEO in the interim, working with Miller on the transition of leadership. Miller formerly served as IL Crop’s seed technology manager and business development director.
Becker Underwood has increased its strategic account services team with the advancement of Phil Shelley and Breann Hammann to new roles as strategic accounts managers. The two will be Becker Underwood’s key relationship builders with the company’s largest customers.
Valent U.S.A. Corp. has announced a series of strategic promotions. Rick Kraus has been promoted to senior manager of distribution strategy. Kraus will oversee strategic growth plans and initiatives of each distributor account and manage the team of national account managers. Mike Riffle has been promoted to manager of national sales and market development for Valent Professional Products and will oversee the technical and sales teams within the VPP segment. Joe Chamberlin has been promoted to field market development specialist and market development manager for VPP. Scott Halley has been named western seed protection specialist for the seed protection research team. Halley will oversee the regional research and field testing of sugar beet and cereal crops, and provide technical support for sales teams in the western United States. Valent plans to develop a detailed plan for adding new territories in strategic market segments.
This coming planting season, farmers in four Midwestern states will participate in Monsanto’s testing program for FieldScripts, the company’s first product from the Integrated Farming Systems platform. FieldScripts provides farmers with a new approach to boost on-farm productivity while supporting more sustainable agriculture systems. Monsanto anticipates FieldScripts will be launched in the Dekalb corn brand in Illinois, Iowa, Indiana and Minnesota in 2014.
TJ Technologies Inc. has received notification that a specially-formulated version of QuickRoots has been registered by the Organic Materials Review Institute. The new formulation, QuickRoots Organic ST, is now available and will be marketed through a partnership with Incotec to the organic market. The relationship with Incotec gives those in the organic market an opportunity to access QuickRoots Organic ST. The product will be marketed as a seed treatment offered by Incotec.
TJ Technologies Inc., a developer and provider of plant-focused microbial technologies and micronutrient products, has reached an agreement where Beck’s Superior Hybrids will treat seed corn with a proprietary TJ Technologies QuickRoots seed treatment formula designed specifically for Beck’s. Beginning with the spring 2013 growing season, all of Beck’s corn seed will have this innovative microbial seed treatment technology on seed.
U.S. and Canadian farmers can plan for 2013 spring planting with Pioneer brand corn products featuring Optimum AcreMax XTreme insect protection technology. DuPont Pioneer has received all necessary regulatory approvals for import into major world markets. Optimum AcreMax XTreme products offer growers a single-bag refuge option in areas of the Corn Belt requiring protection from both above- and below-ground insects and also offer herbicide tolerant traits—Roundup Ready 2 and LibertyLink traits—including those hybrids acting as refuge plants.
Monsanto’s Genuity VT Triple PRO RIB Complete has received registration from the United States Environmental Protection Agency, completing federal regulatory authorization in the U.S. Monsanto anticipates offering the majority of its Genuity VT Triple PRO portfolio in the U.S. Corn Belt available as a Genuity RIB Complete corn blend product for the 2013 growing season. Monsanto also announced that U.S. farmers will have a stronger line of defense in 2013 with the planned introduction of Acceleron seed treatment products with a new-generation fungicide for soybeans and cotton. The products contain multiple modes of action to deliver more complete and consistent disease protection, including a new fungicidal active ingredient.
S&W Seed Co. has purchased the rights to a portfolio of alfalfa varieties suited for colder climate conditions. The acquisition will help enable S&W to participate in marketplaces for dormant alfalfa varieties, particularly in countries which do not currently allow genetically modified seed. S&W expects to have seed available for sale in the fall of 2013. S&W Seed Co. has also acquired Imperial Valley Seeds Inc., a marketer of non-dormant alfalfa seed varieties to markets principally in the Middle East, North Africa and Latin America. IV Seeds is the marketing arm of Imperial Valley Milling, a Holtville, Calif.-based producer and processor of alfalfa seeds, and will continue to source its production from IV Milling under the terms of a long-term supply contract between the two companies.
Monsanto Co. and Alnylam Pharmaceuticals Inc. have formed a strategic alliance to advance biological technologies in the field of agriculture. The new alliance brings Alnylam’s broad RNAi-based intellectual property and proprietary technologies to Monsanto’s new BioDirect technology, which aims to deliver innovative biological solutions for farmers. Under the terms of the agreement, Monsanto receives worldwide, exclusive rights to use Alnylam’s platform technology and IP in the field of agriculture, including the ability to grant sublicenses.
Syngenta has agreed to acquire Pasteuria Bioscience Inc., a U.S.-based biotechnology company. Since 2011 Syngenta and Pasteuria have had an exclusive global technology partnership to develop and commercialize biological products to control plant-parasitic nematodes, using the naturally-occurring soil bacteria Pasteuria spp. The first product will be a seed treatment to protect against soybean cyst nematode, to be launched in the United States in 2014.
Dow AgroSciences LLC has acquired the assets of Cal/West Seeds, based in Woodland, Calif. Cal/West is a leading supplier of alfalfa, clover and other crops to seed companies and growers in the United States, Canada and 25 other countries around the world. Under the terms of the agreement, DAS will acquire all of Cal/West Seeds’ assets, which include Cal/West and Producer’s Choice brands, Cal/West SRL Argentina, and the company’s research and development technologies and genetics programs, as well as production facilities in California, Washington and Wisconsin.
S&W Seed Company has signed agreements with Monsanto and Forage Genetics International LLC that will enable the company to produce and sell seed of approved varieties containing Monsanto’s Roundup Ready trait. FGI has also agreed to incorporate the RR trait into specific S&W-developed varieties previously selected for high yield and salt tolerance. Non-biotech varieties of alfalfa seed will continue to be a primary focus for S&W in international markets where biotech varieties have not been approved. S&W will also continue to ensure its classically-bred varieties are grown under strict guidelines requiring isolation and quality control in processing. Any biotech varieties ultimately produced by S&W will be targeted for sale to U.S. domestic customers, at least initially.
HM-Clause has acquired the vegetable seeds operations of Campbell Soup Company in Davis, Calif., including the company’s research facility for vegetable breeding and seed development. The center also sells seed to farmers and growers around the world. The seed operation has 19 full-time employees based in California, all of whom will join HM-Clause. “This acquisition reinforces our existing efforts in tomato and pepper research. Working together, we expect the addition of these programs and staff from Campbell will accelerate the growth and expansion of our business,” says Matthew Johnston, CEO of HM-Clause.
A joint initiative of AusBiotech, CropLife Australia, Grains Research and Development Corporation and the National Farmers’ Federation has launched the Agricultural Biotechnology Council of Australia to act as a national representative organization for agricultural biotechnology. ABCA’s work aims to place biotechnology and gene technology into context as invaluable innovations for Australian agriculture, thereby ensuring that science guides public policy for the future of farming in Australia. “Biotechnology provides benefits to both farmers and consumers, and important improvements are helping farmers to protect their crops from pests, diseases and droughts to provide consumers with increased yields,” says Anna Lavelle, CEO of AusBiotech.
The Association of Official Seed Certifying Agencies has launched the AOSCA Organic Seed Finder website. The purpose of the Organic Seed Finder website is to allow vendors of organic seed to post their available varieties in a central online location where potential buyers can search for the varieties they need. It will also be a valuable resource for organic certifiers, who need access to documentation of the types and varieties of organic certified seed available to organic growers. The Organic Seed Finder site is available free of charge for anyone searching for organic seed varieties.
Bayer CropScience has established a dedicated Bee Ambassador Program to bring more awareness and knowledge about bees to communities throughout the United States. To foster an environment of collaboration, Bayer’s Bee Ambassador Program will integrate key topics related to honey bee management and health with the biggest issues facing agriculture. Through the program, the ambassadors will engage at the local level with beekeepers, farmers, researchers, government officials, educators, non-government organizations and the general public about the value of honey bees and the challenges they face.
A recent report entitled ASTI Global Assessment of Agricultural R&D Spending, published by the International Food Policy Research Institute’s Agricultural Science and Technology Indicators initiative and the Global Forum on Agricultural Research, reveals trends in research and development spending from 1981 to 2008. Global public spending on agricultural research and development increased 22 percent from 2000 to 2008—from $26.1 billion to $31.7 billion. China and India accounted for nearly half the increase, and spending also rose in other countries, including Argentina, Brazil, Iran, Nigeria and Russia. Most notably in Brazil and China, long-term government commitment has fueled increased agricultural productivity. This demonstrates the benefits of sustained government investments.
The Donald Danforth Plant Science Center’s Institute for International Crop Improvement has been established to expand research efforts, trait improvements, product development and biosafety to include a greater range of food crops. The aim of the IICI is to bring improved crops that yield more per acre, are richer in essential nutrients and resistant to disease, insects and drought to farmers. The IICI, directed by Paul Anderson, will expand and assist partnerships to focus on staple crops, such as sweet potato, banana, cassava, sorghum, corn, rice, groundnuts, millet and cowpea. Anderson and his team will also provide advice and oversight to assist other institutions that are working through the process of field trials and safety testing.
Higher yields, improved pest and disease resistance and enhanced nutritional value are among the potential benefits of an international scientific research effort that has resulted in an integrated physical, genetic and functional sequence assembly of the barley genome. The new resource, produced by the International Barley Sequencing Consortium, which includes the French Genomic Resource Center, will facilitate the development of new and better barley varieties. It should also help in the fight against cereal crop diseases, which cause millions in losses every year. The findings have been published in the journal Nature.