READ the NAFB’s National Ag News for Tuesday, June 28th…

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Former FDA Official Says Vermont May be Doing Agriculture a Favor

At the 2016 Aspen Ideas Conference in Aspen, Colorado, Former Food and Drug Administration deputy commissioner Michael Taylor suggested Vermont is doing the nation a favor when it comes to genetically modified organisms. During a food safety panel discussion over the weekend, Taylor proclaimed “Vermont might be doing the technology community a favor in forcing this issue of transparency,” according to Politico. Taylor says consumers can only choose, or choose not, to adapt new technology through information such as labels. Vermont passed its mandatory GMO labeling bill two years ago, and that bill will go into effect Friday. The bill prompted the national discussion which ultimately led to the Senate GMO compromise bill making labeling mandatory either on the package or through smart labels. The compromise, reached last week, faces little room in the Senate schedule this week for consideration. The U.S. House has previously passed a voluntary GMO labeling bill.


USDA Providing Additional Funding for Farm Loans

Agri-Pulse reports Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack has notified Congress he will use $500 million in discretionary funding to cover a projected funding shortfall for farm loans. The Department of Agriculture’s Farm Service Agency, which administers the program, predicts a shortfall in funding for guaranteed farm ownership loans during the fiscal year that ends in September. Lower commodity prices and reduced farm income caused banks to become more cautious in their lending practices, creating greater demand for USDA guaranteed loans. The Farm Service Agency announced recently that USDA was about to run exhaust the $2 billion Congress approved for the program. FSA is also looking at a projected shortfall in federally assisted farm operating loans.


Federal Judge Refuses to Dismiss Wheat Price Rigging Lawsuit

A federal judge in Chicago refused to dismiss a lawsuit in which wheat traders accuse Kraft Foods and Modelez International of illegally manipulating the grain’s price at their expense. The judge on Monday said traders may pursue claims that a large, late 2011 purchase by Kraft Foods of wheat futures contracts violated the Sherman antitrust law and the Commodity Exchange Act, according to Reuters. Many of the allegations were similar to those raised by the U.S. Commodity Futures Trading Commission in an April 2015 lawsuit. The CFTC said Kraft Foods bought $90 million of December 2011 wheat futures, giving it a dominant position in that market, despite never intending to take possession of the grain, to depress prices in the cash wheat market.


Perdue Farms Announce New Animal Welfare Standards

Purdue Farms on Monday announced new animal welfare standards that the company says will improve care for birds on its farms, trucks and slaughterhouses. Meatingplace reports animal activist groups are lauding the poultry giant’s “precedent-setting” actions and using the occasion to pressure its competitors to match Purdue’s efforts. Among the changes, Perdue said it would adopt controlled-atmosphere stunning at all of its slaughterhouses, moving away from shackling live animals. This means the birds will be rendered unconscious before being unloaded off trucks and therefore more calmly processed through the slaughter plant. Perdue said it would install windows in broiler houses to provide birds natural light and provide more space per bird in barns. Perdue Farms, already about 14 years into efforts to remove antibiotics entirely from its products, is effectively transferring practices it has learned from organic chicken production company-wide. The changes will be implemented over a period of seven years.

EU Will Decide Region’s Fate of Glyphosate Use this Week

The European Commission is expected to make a decision this week on the use of glyphosate in the European Union after politicians in the EU failed to reach an agreement. While the EU’s attention last week was primarily focused on Britain’s decision to exit the EU, an appeals committee of representatives from the 28 member states failed to agree on whether to extend the license for the herbicide glyphosate after it expires this week, according to Reuters. The Commission, after failing to win support for a 15-year renewal of the license, had offered a 12 to 18 month extension to allow time for a further study by the European Chemicals Agency. However, France and Malta voted against the proposal and seven countries, including Germany, Italy and Austria, abstained, failing to meet a required majority decision. If the license is not extended, manufacturers will have six months to phase out products containing glyphosate in the European Union.

Inflated Wheat Stocks Prompts Silo Inspections in Egypt

Top Egyptian officials dismissed allegations of fraud after the country reported that it had purchased nearly five million metric tons of wheat from local farmers via its procurement season, according to Pro Farmer’s First Thing Today. The figure is the second highest on record and well above the 3.0 to 3.5 million metric tons farmers delivered annually over the past decade. Wheat millers and traders said the high figure was the result of private suppliers misreporting their stocks to collect government payments for highly subsidized domestic wheat. On Sunday, Egypt’s Ministry of Supplies said it would punish domestic suppliers that misreported stocks. The government also said it will launch inspections of wheat silos this month to investigate the reports. If the accusations do have merit, the country may need to import more wheat, at a time when Egypt is rejecting cargoes based on what some traders call an unreasonable zero tolerance ergot policy. The international trade standard is 0.5 percent ergot contamination.

SOURCE: NAFB News Service