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We sincerely thank all our conference sponsors!

The Texas Seed Trade Association Annual Membership & Policy Meeting

Outgoing Texas Seed Trade Association President, Chad Kriegshauser (right) receives a token of the association's gratitude for his service over the past year. Chad moves into the Past President position and will be a member of the executive committee for another year. TSTA Executive V.P. Bryan Gentsch presented the plaque.

Brett Bamert was elected President of the Texas Seed Trade Association earlier this week. Brett is seen here visiting with Texas State Senator Pete Flores who was our conference keynote speaker.

Mackenzie Mattern from SoDak Labs provided info on seed testing services available from SoDak, a TSTA-Member seed lab.

The fire pit at the Horseshoe Bay Resort Hotel has proved a popular place to unwind following the President & First Lady's Reception and Dinner. This year was no exception.

Attendance was up, speakers were excellent, and the Super Bowl Party was as much fun as any the association has ever hosted. If you missed it we're sorry but you can put it on your calendar for February 9-10, 2025.

Chad Kriegshauser received the coveted "Past President" pin and a plaque expressing our sincere appreciation for his long board, and executive committee, tenure. Thank you Chad! Chad represented at least the second brother act as TSTA president as his brother Coby is also a past association president. (Dale and Chris Wimmer were our previous "brother act" presidents.)

Brett Bamert was elected President of the Texas Seed Trade Association and will lead us through the next year including a Texas legislative session. Brett has served on the board of directors for four years and it is great to have Brett on-board as President! Brett is the son of Nick Bamert who also served as TSTA President.

Drew Morano, TriCal Superior Forages, was voted the new TSTA Vice President. Drew has served on the board of directors for three years and we're delighted to have Drew on the executive committee.

Kyle Reinart from Richardson Seed was elected to the board of directors. We are likewise delighted to have Kyle on the board and look forward to his perspective.

We were gratified to see Luke Turner attend the board meeting Tuesday morning! Luke moves off the board and executive committee as the most recent past president. Luke's contributions have been outstanding and important and we are very happy he plans to stay engaged.

We raised almost nine thousand dollars for the TSTA Foundation Scholarship Fund! This represents a significant increase over last year and we are sincerely appreciate the generosity of our members and attendees. And a special thank-you to all who brought auction items and to those who purchased raffle tickets!

And for those attending; don't you wish all state legislators were as relaxed and down-to-earth as Senator Pete Flores?! What a great member and what a great friend to agriculture.

We will be informing you about the decisions and strategic direction planned by the board, and the membership at our business meeting, in future Weekly Updates so please stay tuned!

And another very big thank you to our conference sponsors!

EPA Issues Existing Stocks Order For Dicamba Products

The Scoop, Margy Eckelkamp and TSTA Staff

On February 14, the EPA issued an existing stocks order for dicamba products previously registered for over-the-top use. 

This order addresses use of the dicamba products effected by the Arizona federal court decision vacating their registrations earlier this month. It authorizes limited sale and distribution of existing stocks that are already in the possession of persons other than the registrant. The existing stocks provision applies to stocks of previously registered pesticide products (Engenia, Tavium and XtendiMax) currently in the U.S and packaged, labeled, and released for shipment prior to February 6, 2024.

For Texas - the end date for sales and distribution of stocks in possession of anyone except the registrant - the following dates apply: For sale and distribution of XtendiMax, Enginia, or Tavium, for use on dicamba-tolerant cotton - June 30, 2024.

The end date for the use (application) of these same products for dicamba-tolerant cotton is July 30, 2024.

Registrants may no longer ship any of these products from their inventories or new production to any wholesaler, retailer, or end user.

News Bits

Editor's Note: Remember just this last week the press furor created by presumptive Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump expressing a no-care attitude about NATO members who don't pay their share? Please don't think this has nothing to do with the seed business. If Russia had not invaded Ukraine current worldwide ag markets would look very different than they do.

NATO's European members are readying plans to face a possible second Donald Trump presidency, including increased defense spending and focusing the agenda on issues considered important to him - such as China - in a bid to gain his trust, several NATO diplomats told Euractiv’s Aurélie Pugnet.

Trump recently rocked the boat ahead of the US elections in November, suggesting that Russia can do “whatever the hell they want” with NATO members that fail to meet the 2% GDP defense spending target.

NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg then projected on Wednesday that 18 out of 31 members will spend more than the required 2%, compared to just seven in 2022.

Another Editor's Note: The German economy is very poor right now and most German economists feel it is "structural" versus "temporary" and forecast for the German increase in GDP is a paltry 0.2% for 2024. This led the German economic minister to call the German economy "dramatically bad" for the foreseeable future.

Hardly good news for the economic powerhouse of Europe. German government and industrial spokespeople blame the increased cost of energy due to reliance on renewable/green sources, higher corporate taxes than the European average, and an increasing bureaucratic and regulatory burden adding significant costs.

One of the results of these economic hardships is the loss of diesel subsidies for German farmers who now pay the same price as for road use. Identified as the straw that broke the camel's back this is what started what became a farmer strike/organized protest that spread from Germany all across Europe.

Meanwhile Croatian farmers pause protests to see if the government will meet demands. Croatian farmers are holding off on protests until they know the outcome of next week’s EU farmers’ meeting, and are organizing another round of negotiations with the government to see if it will meet their demands, according to the Croatian Chamber of Agriculture’s (HPK) press release on Wednesday.

In 2023, all food prices increased by 5.8 percent on average compared with 2022. The figure includes both food away from home and food purchased for consumption at home.

Food-at-home prices increased by 5.0 percent, while food-away-from-home prices increased by 7.1 percent. Food prices are expected to continue to decelerate in 2024.

The all food prices are predicted to increase 1.3 percent, with a prediction interval of -1.4 to 4.2 percent. Food-at-home prices are predicted to decrease 0.4 percent, with a prediction interval of -4.5 to 4.0 percent, and food-away-from-home prices are predicted to increase 4.7 percent, with a prediction interval of 3.1 to 6.2 percent.

Meanwhile, the Consumer Price Index earlier this week indicated an increase in January. The food index rose 0.4 percent in January, and the food at home index also increased 0.4 percent over the month. The food at home index rose 1.2 percent over the last 12 months, while the index for food away from home rose 5.1 percent.

National Restaurant Association news release

WASHINGTON -- Restaurants sales are forecast to exceed $1.1 trillion in sales this year, marking a new milestone for the industry that will employ over 15.7 million people in the United States by the end of 2024. This is all according to the National Restaurant Association 2024 State of the Restaurant Industry Report.

*Positive sales expected: Restaurant operators are cautiously optimistic about the year ahead, with nearly 8 in 10 predicting their sales will increase (33 percent) or hold steady (45 percent) from 2023 levels.

*Delivery, carry-out and drive-thru growth continues: 52 percent of consumers--including 67 percent of millennials and 63 percent of Gen Z adults--say ordering takeout from a restaurant is an essential part of their lifestyle, further showing the profound impact restaurants have on consumers' lives.

*Industry employment increased but help still wanted: Forty-five percent of restaurant operators report needing more employees to meet customer demand and a majority (70 percent) have job openings that are hard to fill.

*Profitability remains challenged: Operators are slightly less optimistic about profitability, with only 27 percent of operators expecting to be more profitable this year. Average food costs have increased more than 20 percent and average wages more than 30 percent from 2019--both impacting profitability.

*Jobs drive consumer spending: All restaurant sales are local, and consumers are generally upbeat about their community. Fifty-five percent of adults describe their local economy, including the availability of jobs, as excellent or good.


Feb. 12, 2024

BBC reports:

The head of the European Commission, Ursula von der Leyen, has announced plans to scrap a proposal halving pesticide use across the EU.

The move is an apparent concession to farmers who have been protesting in many EU countries against regulations including the planned reduction in pesticide use.

Ms von der Leyen said the proposal had become a "symbol of polarisation".

The reversal still needs to be formally approved.

Pesticide reduction is among a number of grievances that farmers in countries including France, Belgium and the Netherlands have been demonstrating against in recent weeks.

They argue that reducing the amount of pesticide they are allowed to use will negatively impact their crops and therefore put food production in the EU at risk.

"Our farmers deserve to be listened to," Ms Von der Leyen told the European Parliament on Tuesday.

"I know that they are worried about the future of agriculture and their future as farmers."

Ms Von der Leyen also said the issue of pesticide use had not gone away and that further conversations would be needed before a new proposal to reduce them can be put forward. The EU had aimed to halve the use of the chemicals by 2030 as part of its Green Deal, which is aimed at tackling climate change.

To read the entire report click here.

USDA news release

In the last decade, world agricultural output grew at an average annual rate of 1.94 percent per year, far slower than the 2.74-percent output growth rate over the previous decade and below the average annual rate of 2.3 percent over the last six decades (1961-2021).

The slowdown in agricultural growth was primarily tied to a slowing rate of growth in agricultural total factor productivity (TFP), which fell to 1.14 percent per year in 2011-2021 (compared with 1.93 percent per year the previous decade). TFP measures the amount of agricultural output produced from the aggregated inputs used in the production process (land, labor, capital, and material resources).

The figure shows four major sources of overall growth: bringing more land into production (holding yields fixed); extending irrigation to land; intensifying the use of capital, labor, and material inputs per unit of land; and improving TFP, which reflects the rate of technological and efficiency improvements of inputs.

New Zealand - Royalty fees are about to be enforced on farmers harvesting seed from protected wheat, barley and other crop varieties and saving it for future re-sowing

New Zealand Plant Breeding & Research Association

A new scheme will be launched this year to begin collecting royalties from farmers who harvest seed from protected varieties and save it for re-sowing.

The scheme’s introduction was endorsed late last year by Federated Farmers Arable following lengthy consultation with the Plant Breeding & Research Association (PBRA), the organisation representing proprietary seed companies.

Farmers pay a royalty fee when seed from a proprietary cultivar is bought for its first sowing, so collecting royalties when harvested seed is saved by farmers for re-sowing is a logical next step.

PBRA general manager Thomas Chin says the scheme is built on provisions within the Plant Varieties Rights Act 2022 to ensure fairer returns to plant breeders who collectively invest millions of dollars each year in the development of new, improved cultivars to help make farming businesses more profitable.

He says a new cultivar typically costs more than $1m to develop and can take up to a decade to reach the retail market.

The finer details of the new scheme are still in development but it will initially cover any protected wheat and barley seed saved by farmers and used in the 2024 production year, before its scope widens to include other cereals, forage and pasture seed options.

The PBRA will establish a Farm Saved Seed Royalties Collection Agency to manage the scheme and collect royalty payments from farmers on behalf of the companies who hold the rights to the protected cultivars.

The Agency will create an annual list of protected cultivars and set modest royalty fees for each one in consultation with the seed breeding companies. Farmers will be sent an online form each December to make a voluntary declaration on the weight of seed from any protected cultivars they save for re-sowing.

Based on that declaration, farmers will receive an invoice for the royalty fees which are collected and passed on to the company which holds the rights. Farmers not using any farm-saved seed will be expected to make a nil declaration.

Chin says the royalty income from farm-saved seed will incentivise the development of better cultivar options for New Zealand farmers and is not an attempt to stop them saving and re-planting their own seed.

“We are only talking about farmers who use farm-saved seed from protected varieties paying a royalty to the owner of the rights. Farmers can continue to freely use common varieties without paying royalties.”

Gaining support for the scheme late last year from Federated Farmers Arable was a major step forward, he says.

“Federated Farmers Arable agree that seed breeders should be fairly compensated for the development of new cultivars and they know that farmers will be the primary recipients of any improved options that come through the breeding programmes.”

Cropmark chief executive Glen Jarvis says receiving royalty fees on farm-saved, protected seed will help seed breeders meet the costs of sourcing new genetic material and creating cultivars that will help farmers to cope better with existing and new challenges.

“Whether they are after disease tolerance, more production, better quality or lower greenhouse gas emissions, farmers are expecting more and more from seed breeders. Getting a workable collection scheme in place for farm-saved seed is a good outcome for farming and the country,” Jarvis says.

Royalty collection schemes for farm-saved seed are common in many other countries, including Australia where its system has been in place for more than 25 years.



Feb. 15, 2024

Source: Federal Bureau of Investigation

Chinese-manufactured unmanned aircraft systems (UAS), more commonly referred to as drones, continue to pose a significant risk to critical infrastructure and U.S. national security. While any UAS could have vulnerabilities that enable data theft or facilitate network compromises, the People's Republic of China (PRC) has enacted laws that provide the government with expanded legal grounds for accessing and controlling data held by firms in China.

The use of Chinese-manufactured UAS requires careful consideration and potential mitigation to reduce risk to networks and sensitive information. The Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) and the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) encourage U.S. critical infrastructure owners and operators to procure UAS that follow secure-bydesign principles, including those manufactured by U.S. companies.

CISA and FBI further recommend following principles and implementing cybersecurity recommendations listed in this guidance to any organization procuring and operating UAS.


The White House's 2023 National Cybersecurity Strategy and the Annual Threat Assessment from the Office of the Director of National Intelligence both recognize the PRC as the most advanced, active, and persistent cyber threat to the United States. Their analysis describes how the PRC expanded cyber operations to challenge the global order and U.S. interests. Central to this strategy is the acquisition and collection of data - which the PRC views as a strategic resource and growing arena of geopolitical competition.

Since 2015, the PRC has passed or updated comprehensive national security, cybersecurity, and data privacy laws and regulations, expanding their oversight of domestic and foreign companies operating within China.

One of these laws, the PRC's 2017 National Intelligence Law, compels Chinese companies to cooperate with state intelligence services, including providing access to data collected within China and around the world. This includes prominent Chinese-owned UAS manufacturers that the Department of Defense has identified as "Chinese military companies" operating within the United States.

The 2021 Data Security Law expands the PRC's access to and control of companies and data within China and imposes strict penalties on China-based businesses for non-compliance. The data collected by such companies is essential to the PRC's Military-Civil Fusion strategy, which seeks to gain a strategic advantage over the United States by facilitating access to advanced technologies and expertise.

The 2021 Cyber Vulnerability Reporting Law requires Chinese-based companies to disclose cyber vulnerabilities found in their systems or software to PRC authorities prior to any public disclosure or sharing overseas. This may provide PRC authorities the opportunity to exploit system flaws before cyber vulnerabilities are publicly known.

The use of Chinese-manufactured UAS in critical infrastructure operations risks exposing sensitive information to PRC authorities, jeopardizing U.S. national security, economic security, and public health and safety.

To read the entire report click here.

Highlights from 2022 Ag Census Report

By Ryan Hanrahan, University of Illinois' FarmDoc project

"In 2022, U.S. farms and ranches produced $543.1 billion in agricultural products, up from $388.5 billion in 2017," the report said. "Crop and livestock commodities each accounted for approximately half of the total, with crops accounting for 52% of the value. In 2022, the value of crop sales exceeded livestock sales."

"The largest farms (sales of $5 million or more) accounted for fewer than 1% of all farms but 42% of all sales," the report said. "Farms with sales of $50,000 or less accounted for 74% of farms and 2% of sales."

"As in 2017, California was the largest provider of agricultural products, with sales of $59 billion, 11% of the U.S. total," the report said. "The top nine U.S. counties are in California, and the top county, Fresno, had larger agriculture sales than 23 individual states."

The top 10 states for production in 2022 were, in order: California, Iowa, Texas, Nebraska, Minnesota, Illinois, Kansas, North Carolina, Indiana and Wisconsin.

"Cattle and calves was the top ranked commodity, with $89.4 billion in sales," the report said. "Texas was the top state in cattle and calves sales, accounting for 17% of the U.S. total. The top five commodities accounted for $363 billion in sales, 67% of U.S. total agriculture sales."

The top 5 commodities were, in order: cattle and calves, corn, poultry and eggs, soybeans, and milk.

"In 2022, 3.4 million producers operated 1.9 million farms covering 880.1 million acres that generated food, fuel and fiber for Americans and people around the world," the report said. "The number of producers did not significantly change, while the number of farms decreased 6.9% (from 2.04 million to 1.90 million) since 2017 when the last ag census was conducted."

"While the number of producers between the ages of 35-64 declined 9%, the number of producers 65 and over increased 12%, continuing the trend of an aging producer population," the report said. "The number of young producers, those under 35, also increased slightly."

Those increases mean the average age of U.S. producers is now "58.1 years, up 0.6 years from 2017."

Female producers continued to account for 36% of the total number of U.S. producers, the same percentage as recorded in the 2017 Census.

"Male producers had higher rates of involvement in land use and/or crop, livestock, and marketing decisions than female producers," the report said. "Female producers were most involved in day-to-day, record keeping and financial management decisions."

For ethnicity and race, "3.2 million producers are white, 95% of the U.S. total," the report said. The second largest group, Hispanic, accounts for 3% of the total.

Beginning producers

"Beginning farmers have 10 or fewer years of farming experience," the report said. "New and beginning producers increased in both the number of producers and share of all producers. Slightly over 1 million of the 3.4 million producers in 2022 were beginning farmers. Their average age was 47.1, and their farms were smaller than average in both acres and sales."

The top 10 states, by percent of beginning producers in the state, in 2022 were: Rhode Island (41.4%), Alaska (38.7%), Maine (35.9%), Colorado (35.6%), New Hampshire (35.3%), Hawaii (35.2%), Georgia (34.4%), Idaho (34.1%), Nevada (33.9%) and Florida (33.9%).


Feb. 14, 2024

Feed & Grain reports:

The U.S. Department of Agriculture's (USDA) Economic Research Service has released its annual Farm Sector Income Forecast report for 2024, leading to a statement from Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack.

The report forecasts a decrease in farm cash receipts by $21.2 billion (4.2 percent) from 2023, totaling $485.5 billion in 2024. This decline is primarily due to lower crop receipts, which are expected to decrease by $16.7 billion (6.3 percent) to $245.7 billion, following reduced earnings from corn and soybeans. Animal and animal product receipts are also projected to decrease by $4.6 billion (1.9 percent) to $239.8 billion in 2024, with notable declines in receipts from eggs, turkeys, cattle/calves, and milk.

Direct government farm payments are forecast at $10.2 billion for 2024, a decrease of $1.9 billion (15.9 percent) from 2023. This decline largely results from reduced supplemental and ad hoc disaster assistance. These payments exclude USDA loans and insurance indemnity payments made by the Federal Crop Insurance Corporation (FCIC).

On the expenditure side, total production expenses, including operator dwellings, are expected to increase by $16.7 billion (3.8 percent) from 2023, reaching $455.1 billion in 2024. The most significant rises are anticipated in livestock/poultry purchases and labor expenses, while spending on fuels and oils is expected to decline.

Despite these challenges, farm sector equity is projected to grow by 4.7 percent, adding $166.2 billion from 2023 to reach $3.74 trillion in 2024. This increase is largely attributed to expected rises in the value of farm real estate assets. Farm sector assets are also forecast to grow by 4.7 percent to $4.28 trillion. However, farm sector debt is anticipated to rise by 5.2 percent to $547.6 billion, leading to a slight worsening in the debt-to-asset ratio from 12.73 percent in 2023 to 12.78 percent in 2024. Furthermore, working capital is forecast to fall by 16.6 percent in 2024 compared to 2023.

Secretary Vilsack's statement emphasized the critical importance of USDA's ongoing efforts in supporting the sector, especially in light of these financial forecasts. He reiterated the USDA's commitment to fostering prosperity for producers and communities, highlighting the transformative investments made through the American Rescue Plan and Inflation Reduction Act to create new markets and income opportunities for family farmers. The USDA's focus remains on enhancing economic resiliency, promoting robust price competition, increasing farmers' earnings, and ensuring the viability of farming and rural communities.


Source: USDA

Technological developments in agriculture have enabled continued output growth without requiring much additional inputs. Innovations in animal and crop genetics, chemicals, equipment, and farm organization have made it possible for total agricultural output to nearly triple between 1948 and 2021.

During that period, the amount of inputs used in farming declined slightly over time, meaning that the growth in agricultural output over the long term has depended on increases in total factor productivity (TFP). TFP measures the amount of agricultural output produced from the combined inputs (land, labor, capital, and intermediate inputs) employed in farm production. Therefore, growth in TFP indicates positive changes in the efficiency with which inputs are transformed into outputs. It can also be seen as an indicator of technical change.

In the short term, total output growth and estimated TFP growth can be affected by random events, such as adverse weather. In the most recent TFP calculation period spanning 2020-21, agricultural output grew, which was due entirely to TFP growth, even as the amount of inputs used in farming fell.


Feb. 14, 2024

Source: USDA news release

WASHINGTON, - The Biden-Harris Administration today announced that it made record investments in private lands conservation in fiscal year 2023 thanks to historic resources made available by President Biden's Inflation Reduction Act, the largest investment in climate action in history.

In fiscal year 2023, USDA supported more than 45,000 conservation contracts, more than any year in the 89-year history of USDA's Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS), totaling over $2.8 billion in financial assistance to producers for conservation efforts. NRCS also released updated state-by-state data showing where investments went in FY2023 for resources provided under both the Farm Bill and Inflation Reduction Act.

"The successes of our first year of implementing the Inflation Reduction Act has set us up well for moving forward in 2024 and beyond," said NRCS Chief Terry Cosby. "Thanks to the President's Investing in America agenda, NRCS increased the agency's capacity, streamlined our programs and processes, built partnerships, and expanded opportunities to access new conservation funding while continuing to provide America's farmers, ranchers and forest landowners with conservation assistance through the Farm Bill. It's clear that we've done that successfully this past year, and producer demand for this assistance remains strong."

The last year showed unprecedented demand for conservation from farmers and ranchers, with applications outpacing available funding. Even with the additional Inflation Reduction Act funding, NRCS had significant unmet producer demand for conservation through the Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP) and the Agricultural Conservation Easement Program (ACEP). In addition, NRCS received $2.2 billion in Regional Conservation Partnership Program (RCPP) proposals in fiscal year 2023 but was only able to fund half of the projects.

A total of $19.5 billion from the Inflation Reduction Act is available over several years for climate-smart agriculture and forestry mitigation activities, including through NRCS conservation programs - EQIP, ACEP, RCPP and the Conservation Stewardship Program (CSP). Implementation began in fiscal year 2023, when NRCS made $850 million available in financial and technical assistance through the Inflation Reduction Act. In fiscal year 2024, the second year of implementation, NRCS is making over $3 billion available from the Inflation Reduction Act in addition to the $2 billion in Farm Bill funding.

Details on program enrollment in fiscal year 2023 are available in a fact sheet, an Inflation Reduction Act Data Visualization Tool and NRCS Financial Assistance Program Data.

More Information

To learn more about NRCS programs, producers can contact their local USDA Service Center. Producers can also apply for NRCS programs, manage conservation plans and contracts, and view and print conservation maps by logging into their farmers.gov account. If you don't have an account, sign up today.

USDA touches the lives of all Americans each day in so many positive ways. Under the Biden-Harris administration, USDA is transforming America's food system with a greater focus on more resilient local and regional food production, fairer markets for all producers, ensuring access to safe, healthy and nutritious food in all communities, building new markets and streams of income for farmers and producers using climate smart food and forestry practices, making historic investments in infrastructure and clean energy capabilities in rural America, and committing to equity across the Department by removing systemic barriers and building a workforce more representative of America. To learn more, visit usda.gov.

Editor's Note: the USDA has distributed more cash the last three years than in any similar time frame in their existence. We don't track other segments, like labor, education, transportation, etc. like we do agriculture, but if the last 36 months at the USDA is any overall indicator of federal spending it is little wonder the deficit is growing like never before.

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The articles, views, and opinions expressed in the Weekly Update do not necessarily reflect the policies of the Texas Seed Trade Association or the opinions of its members.