READ the NAFB’s National Ag News for Friday, July 1st…

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Farmers Plant Record High Soybean Acreage in 2016

The June Acreage report released Thursday found U.S. farmers planted a record high 83.7 million acres of soybeans this spring and the third most corn acres in 83 years. The Department of Agriculture’s National Agricultural Statistics Service released the report that shows U.S. growers, aided by favorable weather conditions, increased or maintained their 2015 soybean acreage in 18 out of the 31 major producing states. Growers expect to harvest 83.0 million acres of soybeans nationally this year, which, if reached, will be a new record high. Corn growers also benefited from the excellent field conditions this year, increasing their acreage from last year by seven percent to 94.1 million acres, projected to reach the third highest harvested acres since 1933. NASS also released the quarterly Grain Stocks report to provide estimates of grain in storage. According to the report, there are 4.72 billion bushels of corn stored in the United States, up six percent from last year. There are also 870 million bushels of soybeans in storage across the United States, up 39 percent from the same time last year.

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Senate to Vote on GMO Labeling Bill Wednesday

U.S. Senate leadership has scheduled a vote next Wednesday on ending debate on the GMO labeling bill. The cloture vote is scheduled for 3:00 p.m. Eastern time Wednesday, according to the Senate schedule. The bill needs 60 votes for approval to end debate and head for final passage, before moving to the House of Representatives. The vote was scheduled just a day after the Food and Drug Administration sent technical comments to Congress that were critical of the legislation. The comments come as an FDA spokesperson told The Hagstrom Report this week that the FDA “has not taken a position on the bill.” The comments by the FDA say the bill would give USDA labeling authority in an area that is usually reserved for the FDA, and that FDA has long held that foods developed with genetic engineering are safe and do not require labeling. Coauthor and Ranking Democrat on the Senate Agriculture Committee, Debbie Stabenow replied saying the agreement places implementation with USDA because “this is not a food safety or human health issue.” A spokesperson for Committee Chairman Pat Roberts called the FDA comments “odd and misplaced.”

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La Times Op-ED: Stop Worrying about GMO’s; Organic No Safer or Healthier

An editorial in the LA Times warns consumers to stop worrying about GMOs, and goes further to say “it’s that organic granola bar that could make you sick.” Henry Miller from Stanford University’s Hoover Institution, and the founding director of the Office of Biotechnology at the Food and Drug Administration, writes that recalls of organic foods amounted to seven percent of all food units recalled in 2015, even though organic farms account for only about one percent of agricultural acreage. Further, he writes, that paying the “organic tax” — the price premium associated with organic products — makes you no healthier. Miller cited a study by researchers at Stanford University that found fruits and vegetables that met the criteria for “organic” were on average no more nutritious than their far cheaper conventional counterparts.

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Poultry Dispute between U.S. and China Headed to WTO Panel

The World Trade Organization will develop a dispute panel for a complaint filed by the U.S. against China. In May, U.S. Trade Representative Michael Froman filed a WTO complaint over whether China is in compliance with a 2013 mandate on duties on U.S. broiler products, according to Meatingplace. Chinese government officials responded last week with a strong statement that it was working with U.S. trade officials and adding that its measures are in compliance with WTO rules. The WTO could make a decision on the issue before the end of this year, opening the appeal process for China, if the nation is found to be non-complaint with the duties.

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USDA Finalizes Crop Insurance Provision in 2014 Farm Bill

The Risk Management Agency for the Department of Agriculture said this week the final safety net provisions of the 2014 Farm Bill, which provide farmers and ranchers better protection from weather disasters, market volatility, and other risk factors, are now in place. The Agency says it has finalized an interim rule that completes provisions such as enterprise units for irrigated and non-irrigated crops, adjustment in actual production history to establish insurable yields, crop production on native sod, beginning farmer and rancher provisions, coverage levels by practice, and the authority to correct errors. All other provisions of the final rule remain unchanged. RMA Administrator Brandon Willis says the 2014 Farm Bill provisions, now final, “strengthen the safety net we provide.” RMA began implementing the provisions under an interim rule for the 2015 crop year.

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Rural Counties Report Population Losses

The Department of Agriculture this week said population losses in non-metro classified counties reached nearly 150,000 in the last five years. However, USDA says the number of individual non-metro counties losing population in a five-year period reached a 50-year high of 1,320, with a net population loss of nearly 650,000. Since the Great Recession, which ended in mid-2009, new areas of population loss have emerged throughout the eastern United States, especially in manufacturing-dependent regions. The 501 non-metro counties with moderate population growth together added just over 200,000 people. Most non-metro population growth was concentrated in just 154 counties that grew by four percent or more, adding close to 300,000 people. USDA says workers attracted to the oil and gas boom caused rapid growth in the northern Great Plains, western and southern Texas, and southeastern New Mexico. However, recent production cutbacks in these regions slowed population growth in mining-dependent counties in the past year.

SOURCE: NAFB News Service

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