READ the NAFB’s National Ag News for Wednesday, June 29th…

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Sponsored by the American Farm Bureau Federation

Senate Schedule Tight for Vote On GMO labeling compromise

Supporters of the Genetically Modified Organism labeling agreement reached on June 23rd are hoping it gets to the Senate floor this week, but the schedule is full. Work on the Senate schedule includes things like votes on Zika, military construction, and the VA. It also includes work on the commerce, science, and justice fiscal 2017 appropriations bill. Debate continues over add-ons in the appropriations bill aimed at curbing gun violence and there’s no final vote in sight yet. Politico says food and agriculture groups are asking members to contact their senators and tell them to support the GMO labeling bill, which is the product of months of negotiations. An American Soybean Association newsletter says it needs all 25,000 members engaged in the process as the technology is important to the industry. It encourages members not to assume their senator is on board just because they’re in a farm state, and calls and emails are needed to all 60 soy-state Senators repeatedly until this legislation is passed. The House is out until July fifth. 


Farmland Values Lower but Still Strong

According to the Farmers National Company, a ten-year run-up in land prices appears to be leveling off. Farmers National is one of the nation’s top ag real estate companies, and they say average values of crop ground and grasslands has dropped from the historic highs of recent years but they’re still very strong. The supply of land for sale mirrors the amount of demand to buy land, so the market is in “equilibrium.” The supply of land for sale is lower as some farmers are deciding whether or not to keep their land, and buyer demand has trended lower too. With farm and ranch profits lower, lenders are also being more cautious about what they’ll lend for land purchases. Investor interest in farm and ranch land also declined as prices got higher and return on investments went lower. As land prices begin to fall, investors and fund buyers are moving back into the market. Farmers National says overall demand for good land is solid, but not so much on lower quality farm ground and grasslands everywhere.


Dow Chemical to Cut 2,500 jobs

Dow Chemical will lay off 2,500 employees, or about 4 percent of its workforce, as part of a deal to assume full control of Dow Corning, which is a joint venture with glass maker Corning, Inc. According to Reuters, Dow will shut down silicon manufacturing plants in North Carolina and Japan as well as other facilities in different locations. Down Chemical first announced the deal for Dow Corning in December, and then said it would merge with DuPont in an all-stock deal. The combined companies were then valued at $130 billion. Dow Chemical raised its annual cost savings estimate for the deal to $400 million.


Modest Pork Expansion in June Survey

Pork producers told the USDA in the June Hogs and Pigs Survey that they’d increased the size of the breeding herd by 1 percent over last year. The increase first began in the fall of 2014 after profits rose due to reduced production. Chris Hurt of the Purdue Extension Service said the industry has slowly expanded ever since. Low feed prices also helped producers expand the herd up until this spring when feed prices began to rise again. The report also found more young pigs than expected, with the spring pig crop 2.5 percent larger due to more farrowing and more pigs per litter. This means pork supplies later this year will be a bit higher than expected. States with the largest increases in their breeding herds included Illinois, Oklahoma, and South Dakota. Looking ahead to the rest of the year, two questions will affect upcoming pork exports. How much will China purchase and how long will their shortage continue in the country?  Also, the exit of Britain from the European Union has dropped the Euro in relation to the dollar, making U.S. pork more expensive overseas.   


Biodiesel Industry Supports 48,000 Jobs

Nearly 100 biodiesel industry leaders converged on Capitol Hill today (Tuesday) to call for a stronger clean-fuels policy just as a new report shows the industry supports nearly 48,000 jobs. The study found that 2.1 billion gallons of biodiesel and renewable diesel used in America had an economic impact of $8.4 billion dollars across different sectors of the economy. The 47,400 jobs paid out $1.9 billion in wages. The report also found that imports are affecting the domestic industry’s production and impact. If all biodiesel and renewable diesel had been produced domestically, it would have supported another 21,200 additional jobs. Instead, almost a third of the product came from overseas. Stakeholders in the industry went to Washington D.C. to call for higher biomass-based and advanced biofuel requirements under the Renewable Fuels Standard than what the Environmental Protection Agency recently proposed. They also want extension and reform of the biodiesel tax credit which is scheduled to expire at the end of the year.


Fourth of July Cookout Cost Up Slightly

America’s favorite Fourth of July cookout foods include hot dogs, cheeseburgers, pork spare ribs, baked beans, potato salad, and milk, which will all cost a little more this year, according to the American Farm Bureau Federation. However, the cost to feed a group of ten people comes in at $56.06, which is less than $6 per person. Although the cost is up slightly at less than one percent, the Farm Bureau notes that prices at the meat case are looking better for consumers. Beef prices are lower thanks to rising cattle inventory and production numbers from lows of a couple of years ago. They also say pork production continues to grow and is at its highest level in 25 years. Watermelon is another favorite on the Fourth and prices will be slightly higher. Shipments of watermelons are down 8 percent from a year ago. 

SOURCE: NAFB News Service