READ the NAFB’s National Ag News for Thursday, May 5th…

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AgriBank: Livestock, Dairy and Egg Sectors in Trouble

A new report by AgriBank projects livestock, dairy and egg sector margins to continue adjusting downward from record levels set in 2014. The report on 15 Midwest states called the egg industry “the largest percentage loser” due to bird flu and record high prices. However, the report says the turkey industry is rebounding as flocks are rebuilt, and prices remain high. AgriBank’s Jeff Swanhorst says “2015 was, for the most part, a transition year to the reality of lower margins.” For 2016, he says the dominant themes in agriculture will be the impact of several major categories entering or continuing their expansion phases of the production cycle, the increasing dollar’s negative impact on exports, the potential for additional disease events and domestic consumer behavior. The report did say weather remains a wildcard as the transition to La Niña from the historically strong El Niño could bring major drought conditions across the Corn Belt region late in the coming growing season.


U.S. Anti-Trade Movement Would Hurt Economy

A government official from Mexico warns that anti-trade policy being pushed by U.S. Presidential candidates would deal a severe blow to the global economy. Mexico’s Economy Minister told Reuters that a plan to impose a 35 percent tariff on many Mexican goods would violate global trade deals and spark “chaos,” if enacted.” While not naming a specific candidate, the Mexican official was referring to a plan outlined by Republican candidate Donald Trump. Trump and Democratic front-runner Hillary Clinton have both expressed opposition to the Trans-Pacific Partnership trade agreement awaiting approval by Congress. The official from Mexico made the comments while in Washington, D.C. this week meeting with trade officials from the U.S. and Canada.


Farmers Union Opposes FOIA Exemptions for Checkoffs

The National Farmers Union wrote to lawmakers this week expressing opposition to language included in the 2017 Agriculture Apparitions Bill urging exemptions for producer-funded checkoff’s from Freedom of Information Act requests. Farmers Union President Roger Johnson told lawmakers this week the exemption would suggest “that we, as producers, have something to hide,” according to Politico. The House Appropriations Committee approved the bill with the Freedom of Information Act language last month. USDA told the Hagstrom Report earlier this week that the exemption “wouldn’t work” because USDA most abide by laws set by Congress, including the Freedom of Information Act. The bill still needs approval by the full House, and the Senate has yet to consider appropriation bills.


Syngenta Names New CEO

Syngenta announced Erik Frywald as the company’s new CEO Wednesday. Frywald is the current President and CEO of Univar, a U.S. based chemistry distribution company. Frywald will take over as CEO for Syngenta effective June first. He takes the place of John Ramsay, who was appointed interim CEO last November. Syngenta Chairman Michel Demare said the two would work closely together to “ensure a smooth transition and support the closing of the ChemChina transaction.” ChemChina agreed to acquire Swiss-based Syngenta for $43 billion earlier this year. Frywald spent 27 years at DuPont before switching companies in 2008. Fyrwald also served as Chairman of CropLife International for two years while working at DuPont.


Producers say Cage-Free Egg Trend Based on Misinformation

The National Association of Egg Farmers Wednesday charged the cage-free egg trend as being based on misinformation. The claims came as 7-Eleven announced it would become the latest company to switch to cage-free eggs. The convenience store chain expects to complete the change by the year 2025. While the idea of cage-free chickens produces a thought that cage-free leads to better animal welfare and better quality eggs, the National Association of Egg Farmers wants consumers to know that this is simply not true. The Association says removing chickens from cages will lead to more on-farm deaths of chickens because the birds establish a literal “pecking order.” Further, the Association says cage-free eggs are more likely to be contaminated with bacteria due to prolonged exposure to litter and manure. Finally, the Association says the amount of dust in cage-free facilities presents a human health concern to farm workers because the dust can transmit pathogens. The Association says the cage-free trend will force smaller chicken farms out of business because they will struggle with the estimated $40 per bird production increase.


Low-grade Avian Flu Discovered in Missouri

A low-grade avian influenza found at a Missouri Turkey farm has led to federal officials culling 39,000 turkeys at the facility. During a routine inspection last week, USDA says inspectors found samples of H5N1 in a healthy flock, and the birds were destroyed as a precaution. The Wall Street Journal reports the strain is far less infectious and deadly than the H5N2 virus found in the Midwest last year. Still, the scare was enough to convince Japan to ban poultry shipments from part of the Southwest Missouri County where the farm is located. Industry officials say the discovery is unlikely to affect domestic trade beyond the immediate area because the virus us less dangerous than the highly pathogenic strains. The last serious case of the more infectious virus was found in January at an Indiana turkey farm.

SOURCE: NAFB News Service