Waters Elected Chair of the K-State Grain Science and Industry Advisory Council
NAMA President Mary Waters was elected the first Chair of the Kansas State University Grain Science and Industry Advisory Council during a strategic planning meeting of the council on April 24. The Advisory Council provides counsel to the faculty, staff and students regarding the department’s teaching, research and outreach missions, as well as support for special projects such as strategic planning and student recruitment, scholarship assistance and job placement, fundraising and promotion of the department. David Krejci, GEAPS executive vice president, was elected Vice Chair.
In her position as Chair of the council, Waters will work with council members to fulfill the Department of Grain Science and Industry’s mission of teaching, research and outreach, while at the same time fulfilling a core mission of NAMA – the development of future millers.
EPA Delays Action on Sulfuryl Fluoride
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) opened a second comment period on the proposed order to revoke residue tolerances for sulfuryl fluoride (a mill sanitation tool) on food and cancel associated uses, in effect delaying action on the proposal. The decision allows the EPA to consider further legal options recommended by the Sulfuryl Fluoride Agricultural Coalition (SFAC), of which NAMA is member.
SFAC has recommended the EPA use existing legal authority to
EPA is also seeking information on technical questions related to other alternatives such as heat and phosphine, plus descriptions of how the proposed order may be discouraging users/potential users from using sulfuryl fluoride. NAMA will respond with comments specific to the milling industry. There are limited alternatives available for sanitizing mills, so this is a priority issue for NAMA.
Attempts at New User Fee Thwarted for Now
The Administration’s 2013 budget plan for the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) included a proposal to impose a food facility registration fee to fund agency activities required by the recently passed Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA). FDA Commissioner Margaret Hamburg came before the Senate Agriculture Appropriations subcommittee last month to make her case for the new food industry user fee to pay for food safety activities. Hamburg said the agency projects it will collect $220 million in FY 2013 if authorized by Congress. Subcommittee Chairman Herb Kohl (D-WI), told the commissioner that the new user fee has “essentially no chance of being authorized this year.” Chairman Kohl also issued a press release expressing opposition to the fee.
There was some indication that the fee could have potentially been slipped into the Prescription Drug User Fee Act, though ultimately committee staff made the decision to avoid any controversial language and it was not included. The proposed user fee was to be added to the fees already in place under the new FSMA law – reinspection of imported food and food facilities, and recall noncompliance fees.
Senate Appropriations Committee Approves 2013 Ag Funding Bill
The Senate Appropriations Committee passed its version of the agriculture appropriations bill last week. The fiscal year 2013 bill provides $1.2 billion for the National Institute on Food and Agriculture (NIFA) and $1.1 billion for the Agricultural Research Service, the same as 2012 levels. Within NIFA, the Agriculture and Food Research Initiative (AFRI), which serves as USDA’s flagship competitive grants program, saw an increase of $298 million from FY 2012 levels.
The funding bill maintains 2012 food aid spending under PL-480 Title II at $1.4 billion, $66 million above the Administration’s request, and maintains 2012 funding levels for the McGovern-Dole international school feeding program.
The measure provides $2.5 billion for the Food and Drug Administration, a $12.5 million increase over last year, to be used towards the implementation of the Food Safety Modernization Act. The bill does not include several proposed user fees that have yet to be authorized.
Senate Ag Committee Approves Farm Bill
In a vote of 16-5, the Senate Agriculture Committee approved its version of the 2012 Farm Bill, formally known as the Agriculture Reform, Food and Jobs Act. The bill, which eliminates direct payments, emphasizes risk management tools and crop insurance and will reduce the deficit by at least $23 billion, failed to gain the support of some southern members on the committee.
The measure, as reported out of committee, included language establishing the Foundation for Food and Agriculture Research (FFAR), which was originally introduced by Agriculture Committee Chairwoman Debbie Stabenow (D-MI) and Ranking Member Pat Roberts (R-KS). The FFAR would solicit private donations to fund food and agricultural research activities in a variety of areas. The FFAR is meant to complement and enhance current public funding, not replace it. NAMA joined one hundred organizations in a letter of support for this effort.
Many changes were made in the conservation title, mainly streamlining the existing 23 programs into 13 and reducing the acreage in the Conservation Reserve Program (CRP), which pays farmers to take highly erodible land out of production for the purpose of conservation. CRP acreage reduction was a policy goal for NAMA membership, and the Senate bill reflects a positive outcome, with the acreage being capped at 25 million from the existing 32 million acres by 2017.
The proposal also includes a $4.5 billion cut to the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), formerly known as Food Stamps. The House Agriculture Committee, as part of its reconciliation recommendations to House leadership, proposed a $33 billion cut in SNAP funding. The bill will go next to the full Senate for consideration.
USDA Issues New Guidance on Whole Grain Requirements
The U.S. Department Agriculture (USDA) Food and Nutrition Service (FNS) issued new guidance clarifying how foods can qualify as “whole grain rich” for the new National School Lunch and Breakfast Program requirements. If a school is not sure what percentage of the grain is whole grain, FNS offers three criteria, any one of which can potentially qualify the food.
These are not changes; rather, they present a clarification aimed at school food authorities.
There is one change, however. Previously, FNS used its own unique serving size for school foods. For everything except pasta, a grain serving used to be defined as “the amount of food that contains 14.75g of grain.” Going forward, FNS will use the same standards used in the Dietary Guidelines for Americans and MyPlate – 16g of grain. In comments that NAMA and the grain chain submitted during the rulemaking process, we recommended retention of the 14.75g serving size to avoid expensive package reformulation. The new serving size will not be mandatory until the beginning of school year 2013-2014.
Petition to Fortify Corn Masa Flour with Folic Acid Filed with FDA
On April 17, a petition to fortify corn masa flour with folic acid was submitted to the FDA. The petition was submitted by a coalition of the Gruma Corporation, Spina Bifida Association, March of Dimes Foundation, American Academy of Pediatrics, Royal DSM N.V. and National Council of La Raza. It was filed the because of concerns about the number of Hispanic children born with a neural tube birth defect – more than 20 percent higher than non-Hispanic children. Corn masa flour has been targeted for fortification because it is used in traditional Hispanic food such as corn tortillas and tamales.
Enriched grain products have been fortified with folic acid since 1998. The mandated fortification has been successful in reducing the incidence of neural tube defects in the United States by as much as 19 percent.
The petition will now be reviewed by the FDA, which has no timetable for the approval process.
NAMA Team Observes Use of New Grain Product in Response to Drought in Africa
A NAMA team comprising Paul B. Green, NAMA international trade consultant, and Eric Rasgorshek, regional manager for Bunge Milling, Crete, Nebraska, visited Niger and Burkina Faso last month to consult with the World Food Program (WFP) on the use of high nutrition foods to respond to a serious drought in the Sahel. The Sahel is the climatic zone that cuts across the widest part of Africa, immediately south of the Sahara Desert.
WFP has begun to distribute SuperCereal Plus, a new milled grain product manufactured in Europe. This product is extruded, contains milk powder for protein and is packed in small 1.5 kg pouches. SuperCereal Plus is not currently made in the United States, and it would take major process and equipment changes for U.S. mills to begin to manufacture it.
NAMA is exploring how U.S. millers can respond to WFP and the U.S. Agency for International Development’s interest in having a similar product in the U.S. food aid product mix. NAMA is also concerned that such a product would sharply decrease the demand for corn soy blend and wheat soy blend. The team’s purpose was to observe the current supply chain for SuperCereal Plus and determine possible alternatives for product delivery and processing to lower costs of the product.
Green and Rasgorshek visited countries in West Africa in mid-April to discuss the logistics and cost of handling such small packages of products that U.S. programs are used to shipping in 25 kg bags.
NAMA Team Explores Container Shipments in Africa
A NAMA team consisting of Rod Geiger, president, Bartlett Milling Company; Bill Gross, regional manager for Bunge Milling, Inc.; and Paul Green, international trade consultant, NAMA, visited several port handling and food grade blending facilities in Africa. The team, which returned to the United States last weekend, visited ports in Djibouti; Mombasa, Kenya; and Durban, South Africa, where the U.S. Agency for International Development manages pre-positioning warehouse facilities to shorten the time to respond to food crises. The team explored the prospect of shipping some NAMA products for food aid in containers using one-ton totes, with the final product bagged and/or blended closer to the recipients. NAMA is considering testing this concept with a pilot shipment.
Material Motion joins NAMA as an Associate Member
Material Motion, which supplies packaging materials to NAMA member companies, has joined NAMA as an Associate Member. Steve Schneider, vice president and principal owner, will represent the company in association activities. Contact information: