READ the NAFB’s National Ag News for Wednesday, June 15th…

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CLICK HERE to listen to TODAY’s BARN Morning Ag News with Brian Allmer…

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Airline Service to Cuba Should Help Agriculture

The U.S. Transportation Department recently approved travel to nine cities in Cuba and that should help agriculture. The Hagstrom Report says the move makes it easier for ag producers who want to sell to Cuba to travel there as many of the destination cities are important to agriculture. Flights could begin by early this fall. Havana isn’t one of the cities approved because airlines have requested 60 flights per day there, so the Transportation Department will have to select from among different proposals. A decision on the Havana routes could come late this summer. The DOT approved six carriers to fly to Cuba from Miami, Fort Lauderdale, Chicago, Philadelphia, and Minneapolis/St. Paul. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx signed a non-legally binding agreement in February to re-establish scheduled air service between the two countries.

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Cuba Buys Soybean Oil from U.S.

USDA’s export sales data showed Cuba recently bought soybean oil from the United States for the first time in five years. Pro Farmer’s First Thing Today says the export data showed the U.S. sold 7,600 metric tons to Cuba. This may be an indication of some concern over the quality of the soybean crop in Argentina as well as tightening supplies in Brazil. This could be pushing some buyers in the direction of U.S. soybeans and soy products. There are some in the markets who think this may signal a return of Cuba to buying American agricultural products because of lower prices due to a closer proximity.

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Deputy Ag Under Secretary Tours Minnesota to Promote TPP

Deputy Under Secretary for Farm and Foreign Agricultural Services Alexis Taylor will tour two Minnesota farms Wednesday (today) to talk trade. She’ll meet with local producers to highlight the importance of trade and exports to family farming and livestock operations. She’ll tour a beef farm consisting of 700 registered Angus cows and 4,200 acres of crops and pastures. Taylor will also stop a seed farm operation with 2,000 acres of corn and beans plus 1,700 acres contracted for seed production. Both operations have experience exporting products to different markets.  Minnesota’s ag exports are worth over $7 billion and support 55,000 jobs in the state. Taylor will highlight how the Trans-Pacific Partnership is still waiting for Congressional approval, and how it will benefit farmers by expanding exports to the Asia-Pacific region.

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Lawsuit Over Pork Slogan Continues This Summer

The legal battle over the slogan “The Other White Meat” may get going again this summer in the courts. The National Pork Producers Council will continue to fight for a slogan that’s gained 300 percent in value and is widely recognized across the U.S. A report in DTN says the concern is growing that all checkoff programs could be in trouble because of the threat of lawsuits. The National Pork Board purchased the trademark from the NPPC in 2006. In 2012, the Humane Society of the U.S., Iowa Citizens for Community Improvement, and an Iowa pork producer accused the Pork Board of opposing Humane Society efforts to legislate mandatory humane animal treatment. They called Ag Secretary Tom Vilsack’s approval of the sale and annual payments to the NPPC as an “abuse of discretion.” Both sides in the suit filed a proposed schedule of court hearing for this summer as well as a motion for summary judgment in August. Based on court documents, it does look like this will continue into 2017.

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Farmers Union Wants Military Biofuels Exemption Removed

Recent attempts to undermine biofuels in previous defense department spending bills have been unsuccessful. However, as House lawmakers meet to debate the Fiscal Year 2017 Department of Defense appropriations bill, National Farmers Union hopes a provision exempting the military from using biofuels will not be made law. NFU President Roger Johnson said the “recurring efforts to neutralize biofuels through the defense department appropriations process are disappointing.” As written, the appropriations bill would exempt the military from Section 526 of the Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007. The Section prohibits federal agencies from buying synthetic fuels with a larger greenhouse gas footprint than traditional petroleum. NFU says the military’s use of biofuels has encouraged the development of newer technologies that are often kept from the market due to “exploitative practices of Big Oil.” 

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California Water Crisis Gets Worse

Deputy Secretary Mike Connor of the U.S. Interior Department heads to California this week to discuss the state’s worsening water crisis. Politico reports that he will meet with state officials and water users as the water challenges continue to get bigger. California water users and their legislative allies were surprised by a couple of proposals that aim to protect endangered fish species. Proposals include increasing the flow of water from the Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta out to sea to protect the smelt, as well as holding water back in a key northern reservoir to protect salmon. The two proposals would leave parched central California farmers even drier than they’ve been already.  

SOURCE: NAFB News Service

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