Kemin Industries to Expand in Des Moines

Kemin Industries, a maker of nutritional ingredients sold globally, is negotiating a deal to buy about 24 acres of industrial land owned by the city of Des Moines, Iowa. The company wants to

Aerials of Des Moines, Iowa from 10,000 feet May 6, 2017. USDA photo by Preston Keres.

enlarge its international nutritional ingredient business in the Agrimergent Technology Park on the southeast part of the city. Kemin has its corporate headquarters situated in the tech park, as well as its advanced molecular research center.

The company just opened a new expansion, a corporate office with 94,000 square feet of space, including labs and a fitness center. The new space cost $30 million and opened this past August.

What Kemin will do with its new land purchase has not been announced. The company stated that it “anticipates the area containing a mix of manufacturing and warehouse functions.”

“It’s very positive. This area has been sitting undeveloped for a long time,” said Terrance Vorbrich, a city of Des Moines economic development coordinator.

US Agribusiness Sees Potential in Cuba

Official photo of United States Senator Chuck Grassley (R-IA)

Official photo of United States Senator Chuck Grassley (R-IA)

With the lifting of the US embargo on trade with Cuba US agribusiness is anticipating some benefits to their own economic sector. The American Farm Bureau and other farm groups are pushing for increased trade in agricultural goods when the embargo is nullified.

Senator Chuck Grassley, Iowa senator, is refraining from participating in the flurry of excitement the lifting of the trade embargo has been generating. Even if the end of the embargo means more agricultural products will be sold to Cuba, Grassley is still not moved to support the historic event. He believes that when it comes to the “give and take” of negotiations of the new trade arrangement, Cuba is going to get the better end of the deal.

The Senator points out that even with the embargo still in place farm sales to Cuba has been improving.

“There’s already a provisions that have even been liberalized beyond what they’ve been through maybe ten years for agricultural foods to go there along with medicine, pharmaceuticals, medicinal things. So I don’t know whether we have to be so concerned just for agriculture,” said Grassley.

Iowans Embarking on Water Conservation

Water conservation in Iowa

Saving Water in Iowa Going Well

Karl Brooks, Region 7 Administrator for the Environmental Protection Agency, praised Iowa for their practical investments into water health and soil productivity. This is seen in the millions of state dollars which have been spent on water conservation practices such as no-till and cover crops, which are part of the Iowa Nutrient Reduction Strategy. However, Brooks would like to see such initiatives funded on a more long-term basis rather than as one-time only funding projects.

“The big challenge ahead of us now, is to spread these practices so that more and more producers adopt them, and then to be able to measure so we can prove out these different practices. I suppose most Iowans would say, ‘If I’m going to plug $25 million into a water pollution control plan, I’d like to see some facts and figures showing that it works for me’ and so that’ll really be the next frontier. Is measuring, documenting and making changes along the way.”

Brooks is confident that leaders in Iowa will be able to understand the payoff of water conservation for the long haul.

“In the meantime, let’s make these practices spread, let’s see how they work. Then you can go back to the legislature. I used to be a state legislator; I know money doesn’t grow on trees.” He says, “I suppose that Secretary Northey, Director Gipp can go back in to a future legislator and show that these practices are working. The legislator may be able to come up with a variety of different approaches.”

Iowa Soybean Growers Off to China

A group representing the Iowa Soybean Association have embarked on a 9-day trip to China. Their goal is to develop a better relationship with the agricultural giant as well as to forge a consumer preference for Iowa soybeans. Chinese farmers are not as motivated to grow soybeans as they are to grow corn due to a lack of oilseed subsidies from their government. Therefore China imports much of their soybean supply. The hope is that as a result of this trip that Chinese food producers will turn towards Iowa for their soybean supply.

Pig Products Cost More as Pig Population Falls

Piglets susceptible to PEDv

Piglets susceptible to PEDv

All over the USA a deadly virus has been killing piglets, fueling the rise in the price of pork. The disease is known as Porcine Epidemic Diarrhea Virus (PEDv), and it’s almost always fatal in piglets less than two weeks old.

On June 1 the inventory of all hogs and pigs in the US was just a bit beyond 62 million head, a 5% decrease since 2013. Reuters reports that trade estimates are closer to a 3% decline since this time last year.

Iowa does not seem to be suffering from this problem like the rest of the country. They have an inventory of about 19 million head of pigs and hogs, only slightly lower than last year. The number of piglets per litter is also comparable to last year’s figures.

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