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Tasmania’s GMO-free days numbered, record grain output for Uzbekistan, Cargill’s $45 mn US grain facility, GrainCorp buys stake in Egyptian flour miller, gluten-free grains and flours

By Maggie Hennessy

- Last updated on GMT

GMO ban to continue in Tasmania? Some farmers are lobbying to lift it
GMO ban to continue in Tasmania? Some farmers are lobbying to lift it

Related tags: Grain, Flour, Wheat, Maize

GM farming pressure in Tasmania, Uzbekistan harvests record grain levels, Cargill invests in southern US grain facility, GrainCorp buys stake in Five Star mill, and Doves Farm launches gluten-free flours. 

Could GM farming reach Tasmania?

Tasmania's status as the only Australian state that bans genetically modified (GM) food crops and animal feed could change as the government appears to be leaving the door open for GM crops, according to an article by Reuters.

The government is planning legislation to extend the ban on GM farming when it expires in November. (GMOs were outlawed more than a decade ago.) But Tasmania's poppy industry, the world's largest supplier of pharmaceutical-grade opiates for painkillers, is strongly lobbying for the moratorium on GMOs to be lifted.

And while the state government plans to introduce legislation later this year to extend the ban, it’s retaining exemptions for scientific trials of GM crops and refuses to rule out lifting the ban in the future.

Currently Tasmania’s biggest export items are higher-value crops (pyrethrum, wool, fruit, vegetables and hops) and cattle—all of which attract a higher premium because of the GMO ban.

Uzbekistan grain growers harvest record 8 MT

Uzbekistan has increased agricultural production output in the first half of the year by 6.9%, the Ministry of Agriculture and Water Resources reported.

“Grain growers harvested more than 8.05 million tons of grain and have exceeded the annual contractual obligations,”​ according to the statement, published by Kyrgystan’s AKIpress News Agency.

Agricultural sector reforms in recent years enabled Uzbekistan to join the group of countries that export​ grain. In 2014, the growers collected some 2,750 kg of grain from each hectare. Some farms even managed to harvest 4,500 kg. By comparison, Uzbekistan's average yield of grain amounted to 940,000 tons in 1991.

Cargill’s grain facility to become southern hub

Cargill announced plans to invest $45 million to build a grain handling and shipping facility in West Memphis, Arkansas, US, that will become a key origination point in the south for wheat, corn, milo and soybeans.

The supplier has received the necessary permits and is now establishing a timeline for the start of construction and completion of the project. The southern river system is a key piece of Cargill’s global supply chain, the firm says. The West Memphis facility will complement its grain storage assets on the Mississippi River and export facilities in the Gulf.  

The plant will have three truck-receiving areas that will allow farmers to unload grain quickly. The facility will be capable of shipping roughly 50,000 bushels per hour.

GrainCorp buys 10% stake in Egyptian flour miller

GrainCorp has purchased a 10% equity stake in Egyptian flour miller Five Star Flour Mills. Valued at A$10 million ($9.4m), the stake will be funded from existing cash reserves and gives the Australian grain supplier the right to appoint a director to Five Star’s board.

Five Star is a major player in the Egyptian grain processing sector, with a focus on the premium end of the market. It purchases around 500,000 tons of premium export wheat each year. Five Star owns a berth at the Adabiya Port near the Suez Canal, which was appealing to GrainCorp, according to its executive chairman and interim CEO Don Taylor.

“GrainCorp’s stake in Five Star is in line with our stated strategy of providing a direct connection between Australian grain growers and the processor of that grain,”​ Taylor said. “It also maintains GrainCorp’s firm focus on playing to its strengths, the storage & handling, marketing and processing of wheat.”

UK flour mill debuts naturally gluten free flours, grains

Berkshire, UK-based specialty flour miller Doves Farm has rolled out a product range comprising nine flours and four grains that are all naturally gluten free.

The grains and flours are all produced in Dove’s UK factory, which is free of wheat, milk, peanuts, sesame, egg and soya. In addition to being certified gluten-free, the products are all kosher (and most are organic). The line contains both familiar and lesser-known grains and flours, including potato flour, tapioca flour, chickpea flour, maize flour, teff flour, brown rice flour, quinoa grain, buckwheat grain and millet grain.

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