READ the NAFB’s National Ag News for Friday, May 27th…

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US Soybean Exports to Vietnam Will Slow

The U.S. Department of Agriculture says U.S. soybean exports to Vietnam are projected to slow to 550,000 Metric Tons in 2016. Pro Farmer’s First Thing Today says that’s a drop of 110,000 from the previous year. USDA noted that Brazil passed up the United States as the top soybean exporter to Vietnam in 2014-2015. Vietnam’s soybean meal imports are expected to climb to 4.6 million metric tons this year, and 4.7 million in 2017. The Vietnam food sector is continuing to grow, as are the aquaculture and livestock sectors in the country. 

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Oklahoma Wheat Harvest Waits

Oklahoma wheat and canola farmers are waiting for fields to dry out enough for harvest after recent rains. Farmers’ stress levels are on the rise as they wait for the crops to dry out enough in the fields to allow combines to get rolling. Oklahoma’s Farm News Update reports storms on Wednesday night hit several north central Oklahoma counties. A tornado in Carver County knocked out power in several locations and a Burlington Northern-Santa Fe train may have derailed because of the twister. A lot of western Oklahoma had 90-degree weather on Wednesday, and if they can stay dry, the crops should dry out and be ready for harvest quickly. However, chances of rain continue this week so the best wheat harvest prospects are in areas that get missed by the rain.

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National Farmers Union Defends Farmers at Hearing

The Senate Agriculture Committee held a hearing this week to discuss challenges and opportunities in the poultry and livestock sectors. The National Farmers Union defended much-needed market relief efforts because of the current low prices and a consolidated market facing farm families. Producers faced a drop in beef prices last year despite forecasts of higher than average prices. USDA forecasts show lower prices and higher beef production into 2017, and NFU President Roger Johnson said that will make it tough for producers to recover financial losses from the recent decline. The situation is more troubling because of a sharp decline in the number of family farmers and ranchers over the last decade due to a heavily concentrated cattle market. That makes it tougher for independent producers competing against packers. Roger Johnson said at the hearing that “the marketplace is tipped disproportionately against the family producer.” He said four packers currently account for 70 percent of the value of all livestock purchased for slaughter.

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USDA Officials Speak at Organic Farming Conference

USDA officials told the Organic Trade Association’s policy meeting that the group should expect a series of organic regulations to be finalized before the end of the year. Politico says five rules are listed on the Department’s 2016 regulatory agenda. The rules include proposed standards to address a dairy cow’s transition to organic; aquaculture; beekeeping products; pet food; and the humane handling of livestock and poultry. The list doesn’t include an organic checkoff proposal that the Trade Association submitted earlier this year. The Association’s Executive Director hopes the Ag Department will release a checkoff program this summer.    

*********************************************************************************************Tyson Investigates Alleged Animal Abuse

Tyson Foods, the largest chicken processor in the United States, is investigating allegations of animal abuse at a contract farm in Tennessee. A Bloomberg News report says the group Mercy for Animals claims an undercover video shows birds are suffering in windowless sheds and suffering from injuries. Mercy for Animals also claims the chickens are bred to grow too fast and are being weighed down by their own body weight. The group said most of the video comes from a contract farm in Lewisburg, Tennessee, with the rest of the video coming from other farms in different locations. In October of 2015, Tyson fired two Mississippi workers after a video from Mercy for Animals showed bird mistreatment. A Tyson spokesman said “it’s disturbing to us to see sick or injured birds,” adding that if the  investigation uncovers any wrongdoing, Tyson Foods work quickly to address the problems.

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Study Finds Gap on GMO Food Knowledge

A new study from the University of Florida finds that consumers are aware of genetically modified crops and food, but their knowledge level is limited and often doesn’t match up with the facts. Brandon McFadden published the study showing that scientific fact often does not change consumer impressions on GMO foods. The study came about because consumer polls are often cited in the GMO debate, especially as it relates to labeling. Florida researchers used an online poll with over 1,000 respondents answering questions. The questions were on consumers’ knowledge of genetically modified organisms as well as what they believe about GMO’s. The results led McFadden to find that consumers don’t know as much about genetically modified crops and foods as they may think they do. For example, 84 percent of the respondents support mandatory labeling of genetically modified foods. However, 80 percent of respondents also support a mandatory label for all foods containing DNA. That would result in the labeling of almost all foods available for consumer consumption. The study was published in the American Societies for Experimental Biology Journal.

SOURCE: NAFB News Service

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