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FEED Business Worldwide March, 2012
 
Monsanto will not sell GM corn in France
 
 
Despite a court's overruling of a three - year ban in November, Monsanto has opted to not sell genetically modified (GM) seed corn in France.
 
The company announced that it will not change its stance on its MON180 corn variety, which has not been sold in France since 2008. This insect--resistant strain is one of only two biotech crops cleared for planting in the EU.
 
Despite the court's ruling that there was insufficient evidence that MON180 posed significant risk to human health or the environment, France's government said it would maintain its ban this Monsanto corn strain.
 
A Monsanto spokesperson stated that for as long as France's political climate remained unfavourable, Monsanto would limit its French market offerings to non - GMO seeds, adding that there were other countries where use of GM crop seeds was growing fast.
 
The USDA estimates that nearly one - quarter of the EU corn crop comes from French farmers, who reaped a harvest of 15.6 million tonnes, out of a regional total of 64.3 million tonnes last year. A large portion of them wish to renew seedings of MON180, which they had planted on more than 22,000 hectares in 2007, prior to the ban.
 
The only other EU--approved genetically modified crop is German - based BASF's Amflora starch potato. However, in light of EU - wide hostility to GM crops, BASF has since relocated its biotech development business from Europe to the United States. 
 
 
 
 

 
Cargill upgrades one Iowa soy crushing plant, closes another
 
 
Cargill will invest at least US$20 million to revamp its soy crushing plant in Cedar Rapids, Iowa. The refurbishment may take several years and have a final cost estimated at US$60 million.
 
"Iowa is core to Cargill's soy crushing strategy," said Mark Stonacek, president of Minneapolis, Minnesota--based Cargill Grain & Oilseed Supply Chain North America. "We remain committed to serving Iowa farmers and our soy product customers, through our Iowa locations in Sioux City, Iowa Falls, and our two plants in Cedar Rapids."
 
However, while Iowa plant Cedar Rapids undergoes refurbishment and the one in Sioux City carries on production, Cargill opted to close an older soy crushing plant in Des Moines, Iowa.
 
According to Stonacek, the overcapacity that led to this closure stems from a variety of factors. These include competition from alternative feed ingredient such as DDGS and slumping domestic meat demand. In addition, the growth of overseas crushing facilities makes any export--oriented American crushing facilities redundant.
 
While the Des Moines crushing facility will close, Cargill will continue to operate its vegetable oil refinery and produce specialty feed products at the same plant site.  
 

 
Pengxin Group gets approval to buy New Zealand dairy farms
 
 
The government of New Zealand has officially approved the controversial sale of 16 New Zealand dairy farms to Shanghai Pengxin Group for an estimated US$150 million.
 
The dairy farms are all situated on the North Island and occupy a combined area of approximately 78,855 hectare. They once the property of Carfar Farms, New Zealand's largest family--owned dairy business and are currently controlled by Korda Mentha.
 
The Chinese conglomerate will invest US$82 million or more in the farms over the next five years, with the aim of selling its dairy products in the Chinese and east Asian markets. At present, it has two registered trademarks in New Zealand, namely "Nature Pure" and "Pure 100".
 


 
Olam buys majority stake in Russian Dairy Company 

 
Under the terms of a new dairy and feed grain farming cooperation agreement, Singapore--based Olam International will buy a 75% stake in Russian Dairy Company, or Rusmolco, for US$75 million.
 
The transaction, which values the entire Russian company at US$130 million, will bring five Olam nominees and one independent director Rusmolco's board of directors.
 
This equiety purchase is the first step in the two companies' collaboration on developing dairy and grains farming in the Penza region of Russia.
 
As part of the partnership, Rusmolco will invest up to US$400 million over the next four to five years to double its grain acreage to 106,000 hectares, from the current 52,000 hectares.
 
Additionally, four new dairy farms will be constructed, increasing the company's total dairy cattle population by over 600%, from the current 3,600 head to 20,000 head.
 
In phase two, the companies plan further investments which include boosting feed grain acreage to 130,000 hectares, expanding the dairy cattle herd to 50,000 head, and investing in sugar growing and refining.
 
 
 
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