READ the NAFB’s National Ag News for Monday, June 6th…

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Sponsored by the American Farm Bureau Federation

Long Fight Ahead on EPA Atrazine Proposal

The Environmental Protection Agency draft risk assessment on atrazine says the herbicide is harmful to animals and plants, despite decades of research suggesting otherwise. Agriculture groups responded to the draft last week, saying the EPA risk assessment is based on misguided science. Politico reports a final ruling could lead to a de facto ban on the use of atrazine by U.S. corn, sorghum and sugarcane growers, but that decision is likely years away. Still, the draft assessment sets up a drawn-out fight over whether research backs up the EPA’s preliminary reports findings that current atrazine levels are harmful to humans and the environment. A comment period on the draft will be open this summer. EPA says the agency plans to convene what will be the 14th Scientific Advisory Panel on atrazine next year, finalizing the report.

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Bayer Secured Funding for Monsanto Bid

Despite Monsanto rejecting a takeover bid by Bayer AG, Bloomberg reports Bayer has secured $67 billion in financing for the proposal. Bayer reportedly picked five individual banks to each provide about $12.5 billion in short-term loans to secure financing. The loan reportedly includes an option to be increased should the company bump its current offer of $122 per share. According to a report by Reuters, the loan totals 60 billion euros, or $67 billion, and can be expanded up to 75 billion euros. Monsanto has rejected Bayer’s initial $62 billion buyout offer, claiming the proposal was too low. Acquiring Monsanto would make Bayer the world’s biggest supplier of farm chemicals and seeds.

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World Food Markets Likely to Remain Stable

The United Nations says global food commodity markets are likely to remain stable, even as prices rose for the fourth straight month. The UN’s Food and Agriculture Organization’s monthly food price report rose 2.1 percent in May to average 155.8 points. Rising prices for most main food commodities apart from vegetable oils resulted in the index’s fourth consecutive monthly rise after it hit a near seven-year low in January, according to Reuters. The FAO says solid output prospects and abundant stocks should keep prices and supplies stable, while lower prices than those seen last year are set to reduce the world’s food import bill. Meanwhile, dairy prices rose 0.4 percent in May partly due to continued demand for milk powder and butter, but are still down 24 percent since last year and expected to stay weak, according to the monthly index.

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Cuba Wants Credit to Increase Food Production

Cuba’s agriculture minister says the country wants to increase food production to cut food imports in half. Cuba currently imports $2 billion of food per year, but it needs medium and long-term credit to buy U.S. equipment to achieve that goal of cutting food imports in half, according to the Hagstrom Report. Cuba needs new equipment as many farmers are using Caterpillar, John Deere and Massey Ferguson farm equipment that were imported before the 1959 revolution. Financing exports to Cuba, even of agricultural products, is prohibited under the 2000 law that allowed agricultural exports.

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Russia Planning to Expand Food Import Embargo

Russia’s agriculture ministry is drafting a government decree that would extend the country’s embargo on imported foods including meat and chicken until the end of 2017. The current embargo against the European Union, the United States, Canada, Australia and Norway runs through August 5th. Russia implemented the embargo in mid-2014 and extended it last year in retaliation for sanctions related to the conflict in Ukraine. Meatingplace reports that even if Russia lifted its embargo, meat-exporting countries face additional obstacles to accessing the market. Access to the Russian market was already limited since the country closed its doors to U.S. beef and pork in early 2013. Russia also closed its market to EU pork products in January 2014 due to concerns over cases of African swine fever. A Russian news agency reports Russia’s domestic agricultural producers support the continuation of the embargo.

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Bison Association Announces Training Opportunities for Producers

The National Bison Association wants to educate the industry and farmers on the production of bison. The association is scheduling six Bison Advantage Workshops, specifically targeting agriculture extension agents, vocation agriculture teachers and prospective bison producers. The training comes as the association says wholesale bison meat prices are approaching $4.50 per pound, according to USDA. The strong, stable prices are prompting more ranchers to explore bison production. Three trainings workshops are scheduled for this month in Kansas, South Dakota and Minnesota. The Association will also hold workshops later this summer in Illinois, Indiana and North Dakota. Learn more online at bison central dot com (www.bisoncentral.com).

SOURCE: NAFB News Service

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