READ the NAFB’s National Ag News for Wednesday, July 6th…

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Ag Economy Barometer Turns Higher in June

The Purdue University/CME Group Ag Economy Barometer, which measures the overall health of the nation’s agriculture economy, turned higher in June with an index setting of 104, which is a seven-point increase over May’s report. June marked the third month in a row that the Ag Economy Barometer was much stronger than the record-low of 85 set back in March of this year. A key factor supporting an improving producer outlook is a stronger corn and soybean market, according to organizers of the poll.  During June, prices traded in ranges not seen since 2015. A recent trend shows a strong difference between how producers feel about their individual operations against the overall health of the Ag economy. The number of farmers who think their operations will be financially worse off in the next year rose from 27 percent to 37 percent in June. The number of people in the survey expecting hard times financially in the overall Ag economy dropped from 75 percent in April to 65 percent in June. Other survey results also show that almost half of the producers surveyed expect some extreme weather events to impact overall crop yields this summer.


3,000 Fewer Items on Vermont Grocery Store Shelves

Vermont’s GMO labeling law went into effect last Friday and will change what grocery shoppers see in stores across the state. WCAX-TV in Vermont reports that retailers across the state got word that some manufacturers would stop sending more than 3,000 products to the state. Some of the more easily recognized products include Pepsi Wild Cherry to whole wheat hot dog buns. Coca-cola was one of the first major manufacturers to announce they were pulling some products from the state. Some experts worry that fewer products will mean less competition and result in higher prices for shoppers in the state. However, retailers in Vermont are given a grace period to sell improperly labeled goods from store shelves before being fined.


Saudi Arabia Opening to U.S. Beef

Saudi Arabia announced it’s reopening its markets to U.S. beef after a four-year ban that was put in place due to concerns about BSE, or Mad Cow Disease. Pro Farmer’s First Thing Today says the country will immediately allow beef imports from cattle less than 30 months old. After a phase-in period, imports will expand to include beef products from cattle under 48 months old. Eligible products include bone-in and de-boned beef, along with ground and processed beef. The U.S. exported more than $31 million in beef products to Saudi Arabia as recently as 2011, just prior to the ban going into place.


Dueling GMO Labeling Bill Assessments

The Senate will vote Wednesday (today) on whether or not to move ahead with cloture on the compromise GMO labeling bill put together by Ag Committee Chair Pat Roberts and Ranking Member Debbie Stabenow. But they’ll have some new information to consider, which is a U.S. Department of Agriculture assessment that responds to detractors arguments against the bill. Last week, the Food and Drug Administration released a report, at lawmakers’ request, that found the bill is full of loopholes. Stabenow asked USDA to respond to the FDA report. USDA sent a letter on Friday that says it will follow the spirit of the law in crafting the rules and will require labeling for all GMO ingredients.


Farm Bureau Entrepreneurship Challenge in Judging Phase

355 applications from 39 states are officially entered into the American Farm Bureau’s Third Rural Entrepreneurship Challenge. Entrepreneurs competing in the challenge are vying for $145,000 in startup funds and judging in the event is underway. The competition is a chance to showcase business ideas and plans that would help to build stronger rural communities. It’s the first competition to focus on entrepreneurs working in food and agricultural businesses. All applications include a business plan, video pitch, and photo, and will be reviewed by judges. The top ten teams are announced in August, with the bottom six teams getting $10,000 each in startup funds and the top four teams advance to the final competition. The final four teams compete in a live competition at the AFBF Annual Convention in Phoenix on January 8.


Beermaker Applies to Trademark “Brexit”

The maker of a beer named after one of America’s revolutionary leaders applied to trademark the name “Brexit” one day after the British vote to exit the European Union. The Boston Beer Company makes Samuel Adams beer and Angry Orchard hard cider. The company’s trademark application was filed on intent-to-use-basis, and is for hard cider. But the Boston Beer Company wasn’t the only one to file for a trademark on “Brexit.” A Chicago resident filed to use the name on clothing and a Colorado company filed to use the trademark on dietary and nutritional supplements. 

SOURCE: NAFB News Service