Daily Ag News Summary 01/11/2018

Former OK Beef Council Manager Sentenced

(OKLAHOMA CITY, OK) A former employee with the Oklahoma Beef Council (OBC) was sentenced to 57 months in federal prison for bank fraud and signing a false federal income tax return. Melissa Day Morton of Edmond, OK pleaded guilty last year to embezzling $2.68 million from her former employer from 2009 through 2016.

From 1995 until late July 2016, Morton worked as the Accounting and Compliance Manager at the Council in Oklahoma City. As part of her job, Morton prepared checks, paid invoices, and generated financial statements for audits.

In addition, Morton was ordered to pay restitution of $2,3 million to the Beef Council and $110,000 to an insurance company that provided coverage to the organization. She was also ordered to pay $617,044 in restitution to the Internal Revenue Service for taxes owed from not reporting the embezzlement income on her federal tax returns for calendar years 2010 through 2015. Before sentencing, Morton had made restitution payments totaling $253,874.41 to the Beef Council.
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Intellectual Property Rights in Seed Research

Intellectual property rights are intended to offer incentives for innovation by protecting new inventions from imitation and competition. When the modern U.S. Patent and Trademark Office was established in 1836, new plant varieties were considered products of nature and, therefore, not eligible for protection under any form of intellectual property.

However in 1930, asexually reproducing plants were the first to receive protection through plant patents, which have been issued primarily for fruits, tree nuts, and horticultural species. The remainder of the plant kingdom, including a broad range of commercial crops, became eligible for protection in 1970 with the introduction of plant variety protection certificates (PVPCs). However, PVPCs had exemptions for farmers to save seeds and for research uses.

Full patent protection (without these exemptions) arrived in 1980 with the U.S. Supreme Court decision Diamond v. Chakrabarty. This ruling extended utility patent protection—the type of protection provided to most inventions in other areas—to plants. Despite being available for the least amount of time, annual utility patent grants for plant cultivars and lines have rapidly overtaken PVPCs and reached similar levels as plant patents. The rapid rise of utility patents mirrored the rapid rise in private research and development in the seed and agricultural biotech sector over a similar period.

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USDA Weekly Export Sales Highlights

(WASHINGTON, DC) Highlights from the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Weekly Export Sales Report based upon information from the Foreign Ag Service (FAS) for the week ending January 4th, 2018.

* WHEAT:
A marketing year low as net sales of 71,500 metric tons for delivery in marketing year 2017/2018 were down 45 percent from the previous week and 86 percent from the prior 4-week average. Increases were for Taiwan (73,600 MT), Iraq (51,600 MT) and Nigeria (11,000 MT).

* CORN:
Net sales of 437,700 MT for 2017/2018 were up noticeably from the previous week, but down 54 percent from the prior 4-week average. Increases were reported for Japan (163,700 MT), Colombia (86,400 MT) and Taiwan (70,800 MT).

* SORGHUM:
Net sales of 170,700 MT for 2017/2018 were up noticeably from the previous week, but down 40 percent from the prior 4-week average. Increases were reported for China (104,700 MT) and unknown destinations (66,000 MT).

* SOYBEANS:
Net sales of 607,400 MT for 2017/2018 were up 28 percent from the previous week, but down 47 percent from the prior 4-week average. Increases were reported for China (616,500 MT), Germany (219,200 MT) and the Netherlands (85,200 MT).

* COTTON:
Net sales of 274,500 running bales for 2017/2018 were up 42 percent from the previous week and 16 percent from the prior 4-week average. Increases were reported for India (51,200 RB), Turkey (43,200 RB) and Mexico (42,500 RB).

* BEEF:
Net sales of 14,700 MT for 2018 were for Japan (6,600 MT), South Korea (3,600 MT) and, Taiwan (1,300 MT).

* PORK:
Net sales of 12,600 MT for 2018 for South Korea (5,400 MT), Japan (2,800 MT) and Mexico (1,700 MT).
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