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Industry-in-Brief: Surterra Opens Florida’s First Cannabis Cultivation Plant, FoodBytes! Selects Startups, more

February 26, 2016

Surterra Therapeutics Grows Medical Cannabis in Florida

Surterra Therapeutics has started cultivating cannabis in Florida – the first company to do so, and is aiming to have its first products ready as early as June 2016. The company uses state-of-the-art indoor cultivation facilities that optimize cannabis’ plants natural growing environment. Featuring separate areas for plants based on their growth and life cycles, the company also employees on-site extraction methods to promote product quality and safety. Surterra Therapeutics has plans for more than 15 locations including its cultivation centers and Surterra stores. Surterra is backed by venture capital and family offices. Watch out for more coverage of the company on AgFunderNews next week.

FoodBytes! Brooklyn

Food and ag business bank Rabobank has announced the five final companies to present at FoodBytes! Brooklyn: vegetable-based sweetener developer True Made Foods, savory yogurt snack maker The Chaat Co, ready-to-eat plant based food developer Sophie’s Kitchen Vegan Seafood, enhanced sweetness sugar creator DouxMatok Ltd, and stress-busting drink developer Noa Potions.

Organized in partnership with Food+Tech Connect, the event offers food tech investors a chance to get involved with the showcasing companies as well as startups from past FoodBytes! events. Attendees at FoodBytes! Brooklyn will have the opportunity to vote for the startup to win the People’s Choice Award. Voting will take place at the end of the event. The winner and potential runners-up will also be invited to attend Rabobank’s premier invitation-only Client Appreciation Events in December 2016 in New York City, which attracts C-suite representatives from over 300 of North America’s leading food, beverage and agribusiness companies.

USDA Advises Organic Certifiers to Hold Off on Certifying Industrial Hemp Production

The US Department of Agriculture has instructed organic certifiers to hold off on certifying facilities producing organic hemp until discrepancies with the 2014 Farm Bill provisions that permit domestic cultivation of the crop are resolved. “Until USDA guidance regarding industrial hemp production under the Farm Bill is completed, NOP-accredited certifying agents may not certify the domestic production of industrial hemp.” The USDA describes certification of organic hemp as “premature” and warns against misleading organic operations in light of the uncertain and emerging legal landscape surrounding cannabis production among states. Read more from the USDA here.

Iowa Senator Urges Keeping Close Eye on DuPont/Dow Chemical Merger

Senator Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) has urged officials to take a critical look at the proposed merger between ag products giants DuPont and Dow Chemical after reports emerged suggesting that the companies would locate their ag division headquarters in Wilmington, Delaware in lieu of DuPont’s Johnston, Iowa base. The Senator’s home state will retain roughly 2,600 jobs in Johnston after approving a $17 million incentive package, The Des Moines Register reports. Grassley was among those attempting to convince the merged company to keep its ag headquarters in Iowa, and expressed disappointment over the decision. The Senator stated, however, that this figure “underscores the value of Pioneer’s outstanding employees and innovative research and development.” Read Grassley’s comments here.

Vilsack Expresses Concern over Syngenta Takeover

US Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack has expressed similar doubts regarding Chem China’s acquisition of Switzerland-based global ag biotech company Syngenta for $43 billion. China frequently comes under fire from the US biotech industry due to the country’s sluggish and inconsistent approval of biotechnology. During a press briefing, Vilsack said he was “extremely concerned about the way in which biotechnology and innovation is being treated and impeded by a system in China that oftentimes is not based on science and appears to be more based on politics.”

USDA to Help Food E-Commerce Companies Accept Food Stamps

The US Department of Agriculture (USDA) is planning to roll out a program this Spring that will allow online grocery companies to accept food stamps. Originating in the 2014 Farm Bill, the program made its pilot launch debut in 2012. Crisp! in Chicago, FreshDirect in Brooklyn, and Good Eggs in the Bay Area were some of the first food delivery services selected to test receipt of the EBT card payments.


Highlander Partners Acquires Specialty Ingredients Supplier FDL

Dallas-based private investment firm Highland Partners has acquired Furest Day Lawson. FDL manufactures and supplies specialist ingredients to the food, beverage, fragrance, and chemical industries. Based in London, the company offers amino acids, aroma chemicals, beverage syrups, energy and fortification solutions, flavorings and colors, honey, juices and juice blends, preservatives and acidulants, seeds and grains, sweeteners and sugars, and sweetener systems. FDL will continue to operate under its existing operating structure with its current management team.

Other News that’s Fit to Chew:

  • One of the biggest ethanol businesses in the game has filed for bankruptcy, reports Harvest Public Media.
  • A CFTC advisory committee has recommended forgoing a proposal to restrict the number of contracts a trader can hold on specified commodities, according to the New York Times.
  • A Manhattan judge has upheld NYC’s sodium labeling law and the National Restaurant Association is “[e]xploring all of [its] legal avenues,” reports Lexology.

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