READ the NAFB’s National Ag News for Friday, June 3rd…

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Ag Groups Fear USDA Lending Problems

Farm Service Agency loans or loan guarantees could be delayed this summer as demand is draining available funds, and that’s bad news for farmers and Ag lenders. DTN reports that several agriculture groups sent letters to U.S. House and Senate Appropriations Committees that highlight the rapidly increasing demand. The Farm Service Agency is expected to run out of funds for both direct and guaranteed loans later this month, and that could potentially delay up to $650 million dollars in loans for farmers. Farmers are increasingly turning to the FSA for loans, and ag lenders are looking to the agency for loan guarantees. An FSA spokesman told DTN that applications for operating loans are up 23 percent this year. The spokesperson says there will also be a backlog and wait list for the same kinds of loans and loan guarantees during the FSA’s fiscal year 2017.


American Poultry Exports Resume Quickly

The faster-than-expected return of U.S. poultry exports to the international markets after avian-flu restrictions is causing some competitors to lower their poultry prices to keep market share. A Rabobank report says the European Union and Brazil are aggressively defending market share and have reduced their poultry prices up to 20 percent. The Global Poultry Quarterly Report expects this to continue, but supply shortages in Asia and Mexico will offset some of the price concessions. The high cost of feed in Brazil will likely slow the industry’s growth rate, which has been around 3.5 percent in recent months. The negative margins will likely be offset in the coming months by rising demand in Asian countries and Mexico. 


Expanded Panama Canal Expected to Cut Shipping Costs

U.S. soybean farmers could see lower costs because of bigger shipments in the newly expanded and deeper Panama Canal. Ag Web reports the $5.25 billion project expanded the canal and created a deeper and wider set of locks. The expansion means the Canal can handle bigger ships that sink to 50 feet deep, and before the expansion, it could only handle ships that sank to 39.5 feet. That will mean exports can load bigger ships with more soybeans and that will cut shipping costs. Lower costs would make American soybeans more price-competitive on the world markets. More soybeans in a vessel make for more revenue-producing freight spread over the cost of the ship. Those ships typically handle 2.1 million bushels of soybeans, so an increase of 500,000 is considered a significant jump by the industry.


U.S. Cheeses Among the World’s Best

Earlier this spring, the United States won a large majority of the medals given out at the World Cheese Championships. Feedstuffs magazine reports expert judges from 16 countries critiqued nearly 3,000 different cheeses from 23 countries. Only 11 percent of the different types won medals, and the U.S. entries took three of every four medals. For the first time since 1988, the top award in the contest went to an American cheese from a cheesemaker in South-central Wisconsin. The World Cheese Championships are held every other year and the U.S. has improved its medal count in recent years. The U.S. took home 65 percent of the medals in 2012, 69 percent in 2014, and 75 percent this year.


GMO Labeling Deadline Rapidly Approaching

Vermont’s mandatory GMO labeling law is set to take effect on July 1, and that leaves the U.S. Congress only 15 working days to get a bill through the House and Senate. That reminder came this week from the Coalition for Safe Affordable Food, which represents hundreds of farming groups as well as food and biotech companies, and supports a voluntary labeling standard. The Senate does have 19 working days left in the month, but it still has to get any bill from the upper chamber, through the House, and to the President’s desk for a signature. The key to a solution will be addressing concerns between Senate Ag Chair Pat Roberts and ranking member Debbie Stabenow. Their concerns range from overriding states’ rights to a coalition demanding mandatory GMO labeling, and a compromise between them remains to be seen.


Japan Suspends Some Australian Cattle Imports

The Australian Agriculture Department confirms that Japan has stopped some imports of cattle from Australia due to Johne’s Disease, a bacterial infection that causes muscle wasting. A spokesman with USDA said Japan temporarily stopped accepting feeder and breeder cattle because several tested positive for Johne’s Disease in post-arrival quarantine. Japan is Australia’s second-largest market for beef exports, but among its smallest export markets for live cattle.

SOURCE: NAFB News Service