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Oat Division Meeting Minutes – March 24, 2013

North American Millers’ Association
Oat Division Meeting
Hammock Beach Resort
Matanzas Board Room
March 24, 2013
11:00 a.m. – 1:00 p.m.


Members Present:

Division Chairman, Cullen Harder, Grain Millers, Inc.

Brent Bash, General Mills, Inc.

Scott Frazer, Viterra, Inc.

Dennis Galbraith, Viterra, Inc.

James Meyer, Italgrani, U.S.A., Inc.

Michael Pritchard, PepsiCo/Quaker Oats

Mark Ramsland, General Mills, Inc.

Bruce Roskens, Grain Millers, Inc.

Rick Schwein, Grain Millers, Inc.

Dan Ward, LaCrosse Milling Company

John Wiebold, General Mills, Inc.


Jim Bair, Staff Liaison, Vice President

Paul Green, International Trade Consultant

Sherri Lehman, Director of Gov’t Relations

Terri Long, Director of Membership, Communications and Meetings

Lyndsey Valentine, Administrative Assistant

Robert H. Myers, Jr., Legal Counsel, Morris, Manning & Martin, LLP


1.  Call to Order- Division Chairman Cullen Harder, Grain Millers, Inc.
Mr. Harder called the meeting to order at 11:05 a.m.

a.  Introductions- Cullen Harder, Chairman, Grain Millers, Inc.
Self-introductions were made.

b.  Review of Antitrust Guidelines- Robert H. Myers, Legal Counsel, Morris, Manning, & Martin, LLP
Mr. Myers, legal counsel, reviewed the antitrust guidelines.

2. Administrative

a.  Approval of Minutes- Jim Bair, NAMA
The October 26, 2012 Oat Division minutes were distributed prior to the meeting for review. Mr. Schwein made a motion to approve the minutes. Mr. Ramsland seconded the motion. The minutes were approved at 11:08 a.m.

b.  Report on Oat Division Reserve Fund & Budget- Jim Bair, NAMA
Mr. Bair reported that there is $21,904.47 in the Oat Division Reserve Fund. Mr. Schwein said these funds are left over from the old oat association. They are to be used at the discretion of the oat division with the approval of the executive committee. NAMA has funded previous research projects through this fund.

3.  Items for Discussion

a.  CORE Research Project – Rick Schwein and Bruce Roskens, Grain Millers, Inc.
Mr. Schwein said four years ago NAMA entered a research partnership with POGA, USDA, and Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada to investigate the oat genome. The speed and progress of the project has exceeded expectations. More markers have been identified much faster and with less money than expected. Mr. Schwein said the oat millers have spent much effort asking questions about where we are going and what are we going to do with the information.

Mr. Schwein said project collaborators and oat milling representatives met in Ottawa earlier this month to share information. During the meeting there was some discussion about training breeders on how to use the markers.

Mr. Roskens said the genomic researchers needed to connect with the breeders as it is still up to the breeders to take the technology and use it. He also said the seed companies need to be actively engaged for eventual commercialization.

Mr. Schwein called on NAMA to steer the next steps. Resurrecting a miller advisory committee for the project was discussed because there have been concerns expressed about who has the data and how they are going to use the data.

It was agreed that a new project leader was needed to replace Eric Jackson, who led the project from its inception, but has left USDA to work for a private company. Mr. Schwein said the project leader can manage the germplasm banks and he suggested NAMA think about global funding as the project moves forward.

Mr. Frazer advised the group to share with all interested stakeholders any valuable information from the research project as soon as possible. Mr. Schwein said part of the challenge is what we give the seed companies. He said we need to look at both agronomic traits and market based traits that are profitable. Mr. Galbraith said we need to be mindful of current breeding mechanisms and that it will take 8-10 years for any resulting new variety to reach mills. Mr. Roskens said we have to look at traits that make oats more valuable and it will take marketing from a seed company. He said we cannot change migration of corn north, so this is another set of tools to improve the competitiveness of oats. It was reported that Nick Tinker and some of the breeders said that if the competitiveness of oats is not improved, its future would be similar to specialty crops like buckwheat.

Mr. Wiebold agreed that we progressed far more rapidly than we anticipated and suggested that NAMA lacks clarity in what we want from the project. He asked if NAMA should take a step back and come up with a realistic, economic perspective on what we need to develop for oats. What will be bred into oats? How can oats grow farther north and south, east and west?

Mr. Schwein asked if NAMA has the interest and energy to look at how we should move forward with the project. Mr. Frazer proposed it may be two different questions. He believes we want to direct how the toolbox is used. Mr. Galbraith suggested NAMA figure out the appropriate model to use. Mr. Roskens said we do not want more proposals until we can get answers for management. He said we cannot tell them how we are going to use the information, they need to tell us. At the beginning of the project NAMA listed 13 or 14 desirable traits we seek. Mr. Wiebold thinks we need to develop that idea and suggested there may be academic sources that can help us. We need to put together a business plan for what they want to get out of their oats. Mr. Frazer said he likes the idea of a proposal and would like to be included in it. Mr. Schwein said our concern is that we have not been moving forward and we are without a collective plan. Mr. Wiebold does feel we lack a collective strategy from an analytical standpoint. We all have biases about what is important, but he is not sure if our biases are correct. Once we know what traits in oats are needed, we need to be comprehensive in how we look at oats. Mr. Wiebold made a motion to convene a team to assess opportunity to determine next steps on constructing formal NAMA oat industry analysis. Mr. Frazer seconded the motion. The motion passed at 12:10 p.m.

Mr. Schwein said we should reconvene on a call in two weeks and analyze who from each organization would be most effective for this team. Mr. Pritchard suggested NAMA tell the task force the specific target. Mr. Wiebold suggested that we get there sequentially and that we have a NAMA endorsed point of view. What are the building blocks we need to determine leverage? We all need the oat industry to be healthy, but there are things we need as individual companies beyond that such as business models. Mr. Frazer said we need to pick a strategy, but then we also need to know what we need to do that. What programs we need to fund and what we can give those programs. He said we would need to bring in a good deal of knowledge to get our viewpoint across.

b.  Mycotoxins – Canadian Grains Council Testing Project – Jim Bair, NAMA
Mr. Bair said the Canadian Grains Council has been testing various grains for the presence of ochratoxin, and the oat sampling and testing is the furthest along. Sample size is very large at 36 kilos each. The data go for analysis to Dr. Tom Whittaker, a retired USDA ag engineer. The oat testing should be completed in April. The results show the ELISA testing does not agree with HPLC. Mr. Galbraith said they have been very involved from the beginning, and he agreed that ELISA is not precise.

c.  Legislation to amend Canada’s Food Safety Laws – Jim Bair, NAMA
Mr. Bair said Canada’s Food and Drugs act allows no contaminant in or on food regardless of whether it is a natural substance or present in quantities so small that it has no human health consequence. That puts it at odds with US law. He said last year, CNMA and NAMA attempted to get legislation enacted by Parliament to align the two laws, but Health Canada stepped in and struck down that effort.

d.  Allergen Labeling – Soy Presence and Labeling in Canada – Jim Bair, NAMA
Mr. Bair reported new labeling became effective in Canada in 2012, although recalls were in force already in December of 2011. Mr. Bair said there are no standards or guidelines that have been adopted. There have been examples where Health Canada took action on soy at a lower ppm than a higher ppm. In November 2012 HC announced there was going to be a two-year consultation to study the issue and come to some agreement; nonetheless, compliance and enforcement actions have not stopped. Mr. Bair said CFIA had stated, “allergens are unavoidable yet millers are still accountable.”

e.  FSMA Implementation – Preventive Controls – Sherri Lehman, NAMA
Ms. Lehman reported the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) released two long-awaited proposed rules under the Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA). FDA is requesting comments, and NAMA has crafted a draft. She requested committee members provide feedback to the comment by April 15. Final comments are due to FDA in May. Ms. Lehman said NAMA is also working with the Grocery Manufacturers Association on this effort. Mr. Roskens asked Ms. Lehman if we have heard back from committee members. She says we have only heard back from one member. Mr. Roskens asked if we are all in agreement or do we need more people to weigh in. Ms. Lehman suggested more members weigh in on the comments.

4.  Other Business
There was no other business to discuss.

5.  Adjournment
Mr. Roskens made a motion for adjournment. Mr. Ramsland seconded the motion. Mr. Harder adjourned the meeting at 12:47 p.m.

Respectfully Submitted,

Jim Bair
Staff Liaison

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