READ the NAFB’s National Ag News for Thursday, June 16th…

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READ the NAFB’s National Ag News for Thursday, June 9th…

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GMO Labeling Debate Continues as Industry Groups Hold Tight on their Positions

The U.S. Senate Agriculture Committee continues to negotiate a legislative deal on GMO labeling before the Vermont law goes into effect next month. Committee Chairman Pat Roberts says negotiations are ongoing this week with the committee’s ranking member Debbie Stabenow, according to Politico. However, as the negotiations continue, two sets of groups remain dug in on each side of on-package language versus QR codes. The Coalition for Safe Affordable Food initially supported only voluntary labeling, but is now open to a legislative deal that would make GMO disclosure mandatory if other disclosure methods, like QR codes, 1-800 numbers and websites, could be used. The Center for Food Safety, the Organic Consumers Association, Food Democracy Now and other advocacy groups are standing firm that on-package language, as will be required in Vermont.

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Stay on WOTUS Likely Holds into 2017

A federal court order shows arguments on the merits of a lawsuit against the Waters of the U.S. rule will likely be scheduled beyond February of next year. DTN reports a court order this week from the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit in Cincinnati appears to keep the stay in place blocking the rule through that time. The federal court blocked the rule when implemented last August and numerous legal challenges to the law were consolidated by the three-judge panel earlier this year. The petitioners in the case, including agriculture interest groups, states and other industries, will be required to file briefs on the merits by September 30th, 2016. The Environmental Protection Agency and the Army Corps of Engineers are required to respond by November, 30th of this year.

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FSA Says Operating Loan Program Funding to Run Dry

For the second year in a row, USDA’s Farm Service Agency says its $2.65-billion operating loan program will likely run out of funds before the end of the fiscal year. USDA officials say the funds will likely run dry by the end of June, around three months before next year’s program starts on October first, according to Pro Farmer. Cash-strapped farmers and cautious banks have turned to the program amid the global grains downturn. These FSA loan guarantees and direct loans are typically considered loans of last resort, but an increasing number of agriculture lenders have turned to the program. The recent rebound in crop prices has not cooled demand. USDA data shows that at the end of May, applications for operating loans were up 23 percent and funding obligation had climbed 19 percent. USDA officials and banking experts estimate the backlog of applications could total as much as $650 million by October.

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Federal Reserve Holds Interest Rates Steady

The U.S. Federal Reserve Wednesday chose to keep its benchmark interest rate at current levels as economic growth has again been slower than The Fed predicted. Following a two-day meeting, The Fed also said it now expects to raise interest rates more slowly in coming years than it had previously anticipated. The New York Times suggests The Fed is struggling to adapt its plans to the reality of an economy that refuses to boom. Seven years after the official end of the recession, the news remains a mix of good and bad. Most recently, job growth has weakened even as broader measures of economic activity have picked up. A statement by The Fed said the domestic economy was feeling less drag from the weakness of the global economy, noting that exports have strengthened. However, Fed officials said before the meeting that they remained concerned about a relapse.

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U.S. Pork Shipment to China Double in Volume

Bloomberg reports that a robust appetite for cuts like pig feet, ears and snouts in the world’s biggest pork-consuming nation is fueling a rally for hogs in Chicago. Investors last week increased their bets on a hog rally by the most since January, and the number of contracts outstanding has jumped to the highest in two years. The moves come as higher corn cost in China forced the nation’s farmers to cull herds in recent years, spurring the need for more exports. China could end up buying five percent of all U.S. pork production this year. China could be slow to increase its domestic production. Still, an expanding U.S. hog herd means that supplies could increase fast enough to meet demand, tempering price gains.

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USFRA: Foul-Mouthed Mr. Seed Sells with Scare Tactics

The U.S. Farmers and Ranchers Alliance calls the new video created by the CLIF Bar Family Foundation a new low for the organic industry. USFRA CEO Randy Krotz says the Seed Matters video attempts to scare the public about GMO crops uses unrealistic imagery, including thin skeletal fish and seeds on steroids to promote an organic agenda. The video depicts Mr. Seed as a mouthy, manure eating organic seed who calls organic seeds “the real breeding innovators.” In response to the video, USFRA’s Krotz said “the outright demonization of conventional agriculture and family farms is despicable.” He called on agriculture to come together and respond as a collective and united force because the video is “unjust and raises unrealistic fears about the food we grow and the health of it.”

SOURCE: NAFB News Service

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