The top news stories for the week of Oct. 7 are …
- Longshoremen’s Union Sued by Tidewater Barge Lines
- Dakota Plains Cooperative Approves Merger With CHS Inc.
- The American Petroleum Institute Sues EPA Over the Renewable Fuels Mandate
- USDA May Close Three California Poultry Plants in Salmonella Outbreak
- Monsanto Halts Work on Corn Processing Facility in Argentina
The longstanding lockout of International Longshore and Warehouse Union workers by United Grain and Columbia Grain had a rollercoaster week. The two sides have agreed to resume negotiations for the first time since last spring, with the Port of Vancouver even offering to pay for a mediator to try to get the two sides to settle their disagreements. But with that came news of a lawsuit filed by Tidewater Barge Lines over some of the picket lines set up by the union. Tidewater Barge Lines claims that the water bound picket lines have negatively affected their business even though they are a neutral third party. Tidewater cited instances where their unionized workers refused shipments from Columbia Grain in a show of support, along with instances of impeding barges and tug boats. International Longshore and Warehouse Union stated that they are well within their rights to free speech. Disrupting the business of a neutral third party is illegal under the National Labor Relations Act.
Dakota Plains Cooperative, a Valley City, ND-based organization, voted to merge with CHS Inc. The deal now only has to make it past the CHS board of directors before being made final. Dakota Plains had $135 million in sales during its last fiscal year and offers agronomy, seed, feed and energy services and products to its members. Dakota Plains cited three main reasons for the merger: the desire to keep up with its members’ needs,, CHS’ ability to keep up with new technology and CHS’ ability to offer members a wider range of services.
The dispute between the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the oil industry over the Renewable Fuel Standard escalated on Oct. 10 when the American Petroleum Institute filed a lawsuit with the Washington, D.C. Circuit Court. The American Petroleum Institute is a lobbying organization that represents the oil industry and has been one of the leading organizations pushing for the repeal or delay of the RFS. This lawsuit pertains to the 2013 requirements for the national fuel volume mandate, the level of biomass-based diesel, advanced biofuel and cellulosic biofuel that must be blended with oil-based fuels. The AIP’s reason for filing the suit is the late issuing of the mandate (nine months after the deadline) and a cellulosic biofuel requirement that is well above what is currently being produced. The Renewable Fuel Association claims that the lawsuit is frivolous and is searching for a problem before one emerges.
A Salmonella outbreak has emerged in the midst of the U.S. government shutdown, with the USDA and CDC working with a diminutive staff. There have been at least 300 cases of Salmonella related sickness since the outbreak began with 42% of those of those with symptoms needing to be hospitalized — twice the normal rate. Several strands detected are resistant to antibiotics. The outbreak has been linked to Foster Farms, whose facilities were under threat of shutdown at the time of this article’s posting, but have been allowed to stay open under government supervision.
The debate over Genetically Modified foods continues to plague Monsanto across the globe. Though more journalists and scientists are coming out for GM crops, citing the lack of evidence that they are harmful to humans when consumed and that the few studies that show signs of them being so are flawed, the opposing side tends to drown out their opposition. Monsanto has been forced to delay their corn processing facility in Argentina due to protests by the Argentine Malvinas Assembly over the company’s GM crops.