READ the NAFB’s National Ag News for Monday, May 23rd…

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White House, FDA, Announce Changes to Nutrition Facts Label

The White House on Friday announced a new Nutrition Facts label. At the Partnership for a Healthier America Summit, First Lady Michelle Obama announced the modernized Nutrition Facts label for packaged foods will reflect the latest science, the most relevant nutrition information, and sport a refreshed design. After reviewing comments received on the proposed rules, consumer studies and updated nutrition science, the Food and Drug Administration made several changes to the label. The final label requires Added Sugars to be declared to help consumers know how much sugar is added to the product during the processing of foods. The label features a revamped format that highlights key information, such as calories and servings per container. It also replaces out-of-date serving sizes to better align with the amount consumers actually eat. Food manufacturers were given two-year to comply with the new label. Further, manufacturers with less than $10 million in annual food sales will have an additional year to comply.


Poll Finds Farmers Ready to Act on Recent Soybean Rally

A new poll released by Agri-Pulse on Friday finds the recent soybean futures rally will pry on-farm inventory loose and encourage farmers to sell their old-crop stocks. In the past two months, soybean prices have increased two dollars. Thirty-seven percent of respondents said a price of $10.25 would compel them to sell their 2015 crop while another 12 percent said $10.75. Further, Ten percent said a price of $11 to 11.25 would get them to act, while near 40 percent of farmers surveyed preferred not to disclose a price. The poll found 45 percent of the 126 farmers surveyed this month by Agri-Pulse said they still have a portion of last year’s soybean crop to sell. When asked what percent of their 2016 crop has been presold, 48 percent said 10 percent or less while another 43 percent said between 10 and 50 percent. Just eight percent admitted to preselling more than 50 percent of the crop currently being planted. Agri-pulse surveyed the 126 Iowa farmers in conjunction with the Iowa Soybean Association.


Senate Appropriations Committee Approves USDA Spending Bill

The Senate Appropriations Committee last week approved the 2017 spending bill for USDA and the Food and Drug Administration. Pro Farmer’s First Thing Today reports the committee approved the $21.25 billion spending bill by a vote of 30-0. The total represents a decline of $250 million compared to the 2016 enacted level. House appropriators sent their $21.3 billion agriculture bill to the full chamber April 19th. The measure includes an important pilot amendment that farmers and lawmakers have pushed for regarding the Ag Risk Coverage program. The amendment would create a $5 million nationwide pilot program to improve the fairness of ARC county-level payment calculations for the 2016 crop year for times when NASS county data for determining yields is insufficient.


Bayer, Monsanto Combination Would Change Input Landscape

If Monsanto should chose to accept the proposed acquisition presented by Bayer AG, the deal would put 83 percent of U.S. corn seed sales and 70 percent of the global pesticide market under the control of three consolidating companies. The Wall Street Journal reports that would raise fears from the agricultural sector at a time when farmers face heavy pressure after three years of sliding crop prices. The National Farmers Union has long opposed such mergers as President Roger Johnson says if the deal were to be accepted; there will “almost certainly” be much less competition in the marketplace. Johnson says the lack of competition would mean “farmers will end up paying higher prices than they otherwise would be paying.” Combining Monsanto’s top position in crop seeds with Bayer’s much broader pesticide portfolio would lead to 28 percent of worldwide pesticide sales, 36 percent of the U.S. corn seed market and 28 percent of soybeans, according to Morgan Stanley estimates.

Organic Foods Posts Industry Sale Record in 2015

A survey released last week found the U.S. organic industry posted new records in 2015, with total organic product sales reaching $43.3 billion. The Organic Trade Association’s 2015 Organic Industry survey shows the growth rate far outpaced the overall food market growth rate of three percent. Of the $43.3 billion in total organic sales, $39.7 billion were organic food sales, up 11 percent from the previous year, and non-food organic products accounted for $3.6 billion, up 13 percent. Nearly five percent of all food sold in the U.S. is organic, according to the Hagstrom Report. USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack responded to the survey saying USDA has “made transformative investments to help the organic sector thrive,” including making certification more attainable, providing more support for organic operations, and expanding international markets.

John Deere Sales down Eight Percent

Through the first half of the fiscal year, John Deere reports sales are down eight percent while earning are 30 percent lower. Net income attributable to Deere & Company was $495.4 million for the second quarter ending April 30th, compared with $690.5 million for the same period last year.  For the first six months of the year, net income attributable to Deere & Company was $749.8 million compared with $1.07 billion last year. Company CEO Samuel Allen says the second quarter performance reflects the continuing downturn in the global farm economy. Further, Allen says that while the company expects lower results this year, “Deere is continuing to perform at a much higher level than in previous downturns.”

SOURCE: NAFB News Service