READ the NAFB’s National Ag News for Thursday, July 14th…

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CLICK HERE to listen to TODAY’s BARN Morning Ag News with Brian Allmer…

READ the NAFB’s National Ag News for Thursday, July 14th…

Sponsored by the American Farm Bureau Federation

GMO Labeling Bill Set for Debate and Vote in U.S. House

The U.S. House is expected to consider and likely pass the Senate’s GMO labeling bill Thursday (today). The House Rules Committee passed a closed rule on Senate Bill 764, the Genetically Modified Foods Labeling Bill, setting the bill up for debate without amendments and a vote, earlier this week. The White House confirmed Wednesday that President Obama would sign the compromise labeling bill. The legislation requires either an on-package label, or smart-label that directs consumers to more information through a smartphone. The Hagstrom Report says Ag Secretary Tom Vilsack has been a big supporter of the smart-label technology included in the bill as a potential compromise to getting the labeling issue resolved. The bill passed the Senate last week. The House Rules Committee rejected a couple of amendments, and its Republican Chairman, Pete Sessions of Texas, said the House has a lot of work to do before Friday. He expects the House to be in session until well after midnight on Thursday night, but not on Friday. Massachusetts Democrat Jim McGovern expects the bill to pass the House and be signed by President Obama shortly afterward. 

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U.S. Breweries Ride Labeling Wave

Six of America’s brewers, including three of the largest, will start posting nutritional information on all containers for sale by 2020. Pro Agriculture says three of the bigger brewers involved include Anheuser-Busch, Heineken USA, and Miller-Coors. The Beer Institute is the trade group that represents the nation’s largest brewers, and they’ll voluntarily begin applying labeling standards in an industry that has largely avoided increasing consumer demand for more nutrition information. The other three breweries include Constellation Brands Beer Division, the Craft Brew Alliance, and North American Breweries. Together with the other three, they produce around 80 percent of the beer consumed by Americans each year. The beer makers will identify ingredients on bottling, another part of the package, or on websites. Beer containers will also carry freshness dates. The labeling move is “an effort to get in line with where consumers are,” said Craft Brew CEO Andy Thomas.

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NPPC Opposes Proposed Animal Welfare Changes

The National Pork Producers Council wants its members to voice their opinions on the new organic animal welfare standards proposed by the U.S. Department of Ag. The standards are unprecedented because if they’re passed, it’s the first time they’ll be written into federal law. NPPC says it could present problems for producers.  NPPC says the standards won’t change the concept of organic food and agriculture, but they could be broadened to include regular livestock production methods. Another policy change NPPC opposes is in Massachusetts, where a livestock housing initiative backed by the Humane Society of the U.S.A. will appear on the November ballot. It would ban the use of certain types of animal housing, including gestation pens for sows, pens for veal calves, and cages for laying hens. It would also prohibit the sale in-state of meat and eggs from confined animals. NPPC believes this prevents producers from caring for their animals. For example, gestation crates are approved by the American Veterinary Medical Association as appropriate for pregnant sows. NPPC said banning sales of meat and eggs because of production styles would needlessly drive up the prices for these products and limit consumption.

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Canada-Ukraine Free Trade Deal Goes to A Vote

A free trade agreement between Canada and Ukraine was signed on Monday and will go to a vote in the parliaments of both countries for approval. AgCanada says the deal is expected to benefit Canada’s livestock sector, among others. The signing follows a recent surge in trade between the countries that totaled $278 million in 2015, which was 14 percent higher than the year before. Canadian exports totaled $210 million in 2015, and imports from Ukraine reached $67 million. Trade officials say the greatest opportunities are for beef and dairy cattle producers, sheep and goat producers, along with beef, pork, and poultry packers and processors. Global Affairs Canada also notes significant opportunities in agricultural machinery and livestock management technologies. Global Affairs staff in Canada say long term business relationships between Ukraine and other former Soviet countries, especially Russia, have disintegrated. As a result, there may be more opportunities for Canadian companies as Ukraine’s trade market diversifies, particularly in food and agriculture. 

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Women-In-Ag Trade Mission to the Far East in September

The U.S. Department of Agriculture began its Women in Ag Initiative as a way to highlight the role that women play in the agriculture industry. The goal is to encourage more women to step up into leadership roles within the industry and inspire the next generation of women to do the same thing. A Women in Ag-led trade mission to Hong Kong and Shanghai, China, takes place on September 7-15. The mission lets these women forge relationships with potential customers and trading partners, interact with government officials, and develop strategies for starting or increasing sales in these markets. The trip also allows participants to understand the roles that women play in China’s agricultural industry. Hong Kong and Shanghai were picked as destinations for the mission because the U.S. enjoys strong trading relations with both countries. Hong Kong relies on imports for 95 percent of its food supply, and China was the second largest market for American ag exports in 2015 to the tune of $23.5 billion.

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Ag Groups Host Events at Party Conventions

Farm and agribusiness groups are planning their traditional events at the upcoming Republican and Democratic national conventions this month. DTN/The Progressive Farmer reports they’ll have some competition from a group called Plate of the Union, which is a coalition of groups with close ties to the Environmental Working Group. Plate of the Union plans to highlight a radically different version of American agriculture. The Great American Farm Luncheon will take place at the Republican National Convention on Wednesday, July 20 in Cleveland. The Leaders of American Agriculture cocktail reception will take place at the Democratic National Convention on Tuesday, July 26, in Philadelphia. Plate of the Union will have an event at each convention location a day before the farm groups hold theirs.

SOURCE: NAFB News Service

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