Read the NAFB’s National Ag News for Friday, May 6th…

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Global Corn Market Focusing on China

China estimates the country’s corn planting area will fall for the first time in 13 years as the nation prepares to end its corn stockpiling program. Planting area of corn in China is expected to fall more than one million hectares, or three million acres, this year. The planting area announcement comes as global markets are bracing for the fallout from China ending the nation’s corn stockpiling program, according to Reuters. China has nearly 250 million metric tons of corn in storage, and the markets are closely watching how the country plans to dispose of the stockpile. China could choose to export the surplus corn, causing a shakeup of the global corn export market. An agriculture official from China said this week that “During this reform process, and as the corn market changes, we must ensure that farmers remain positive about growing.” The support program helped boost China’s corn planted area to 37 million hectares last year. However, with the program ending, farmers there are expected to switch to other crops, including soybeans.

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USDA Announces CRP Sign-up Results

More than 800,000 thousand acres of farmland were enrolled in the Conservation Reserve Program in the latest sign-up period, according to USDA. Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack announced the enrollment figure Thursday from the program’s 49th sign-up period. The program pays farmers to idle marginally productive land to enhance conservation efforts. USDA says the CRP program provides nearly $2 billion annually to landowners. Vilsack says over the past 30 years, “CRP has created major environmental improvements throughout the countryside.” The most recent sign-up period was one of the most selective, according to USDA. As of March 2016, 23.8 million acres were enrolled in CRP, with 1.7 million acres set to expire this fall.

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Iowa Town Rejects Processing Plant Proposal

The city council for Mason City, Iowa voted against a proposal by Prestage Farms to build a $240 million pork processing facility in the northern Iowa town. The Mason City Globe Gazette reports the vote was a 3-3 tie and a tie vote on a motion represents a loss. Prestage Farms had planned to hire more than 1,700 workers over the next four years. However, citizens of Mason City were concerned with environmental and quality of life issues. Prestage Farms issued a statement following the vote expressing disappointment. Mason City joins Nickerson, Nebraska, in rejecting processing facilities this year. The eastern Nebraska town rejected a proposed chicken processing plant that would have brought 1,100 jobs to the 400 person town. The town fought against Georgia-based Lincoln Premium Poultry, which wanted to process 1.6 million chickens a week for Costco.

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Meat Exports Move Higher in March

Beef and pork exports rebounded in March, increasing year-over-year volume. The U.S. Meat Export Federation says March export values were lower than a year ago but trended upward, with both pork and beef exports reaching a 2016 high. The lower values are a direct result from softer market prices this year. Beef exports totaled 89,000 some metric tons in March, up three percent from a year ago and pushing first-quarter volume two percent higher than last year. March export value was $483 million for beef, down eight percent from a year ago but the highest since December. For the first quarter, export value was $1.36 billion, down 13 percent from the same period last year. March pork exports were the largest in 11 months at 195,000 some metric tons, up three percent compared to this time last year. First-quarter exports also increased two percent. March export value, $480 million, was down three percent from a year ago but the highest since May 2015. First-quarter export value totaled $1.3 billion, nine percent below last year’s pace.

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Outcry Overturns Certified Humane Beef Announcement

An outcry from Canadians upset with the decision has forced Earls Restaurants to reverse its plan to source 100 percent Certified Humane beef. Meatingplace reports that the outcry, which started on social media, led the chain to announce it will still source beef from Canada. The 100 percent Certified Humane beef plan by Earl’s Restaurants would have required the company to source products from the United States as Canadian suppliers would not be able to keep up with demand. The company described 100 percent Certified Humane beef as antibiotic and steroid free. With 59 of the companies 66 locations in Canada, Earl’s Restaurants announced this week “we made a mistake when we moved away from Canadian beef.” Company officials say the restaurant chain will work with local farms in Canada to build a supply of beef that meets their criteria. The Canadian Cattlemen’s Association called the company’s apology a “good first step.”

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Farm Mom of the Year Announced

After two weeks of online voting, Kentucky farmer Mary Courtney was announced Thursday as America’s Farmers Mom of the Year. Courtney, who started her farm with her husband, now grows corn, soybeans and vegetables on their family farm and raise cattle. Mary was one of five women who were recognized at the end of April as a regional finalist in the program. All of the finalists were selected by both the American Agri-Women Association and Monsanto for their dedication and commitment to their families, farms, communities and the agriculture industry. All five women will receive $5,000. Courtney will receive an additional $5,000 for securing the most votes to be named the national Farm Mom of the Year.

SOURCE: NAFB News Service

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