READ the NAFB’s National Ag News for Monday, July 18th…

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USDA Starting GMO Labeling Rulemaking Process

The U.S. Department of Agriculture is already working on the rulemaking process as required by the bipartisan GMO labeling bill which cleared Congress last week. The House of Representative’s voted Thursday 306-117 to send the bill, which mandates GMO labeling and preempts state laws, to President Barack Obama for his signature. The Senate approved the bill just a week earlier. Following passage in the House, Agri-Pulse reports that USDA issued a statement saying a working group had already been formed to write rules necessary to implement the legislation. USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack played a key role in helping Congress develop the bill as a way to end the long-running controversy over GMO labeling. Opponents of the bill argue the use of smart labels, allowed in the bill, serves as a loophole because it requires consumers to scan the label with a smartphone for more information. However, the legislation requires USDA to study consumer problems with the scan codes within a year after they go into use.


Organic Groups at odds over GMO Labeling Bill

By a unanimous vote of its board of directors, the organic farmer-controlled Organic Seed Growers and Trade Association has withdrawn its membership from the Organic Trade Association. The Organic Seed Growers and Trade Association announced the move last week because a small number of OTA board members endorsed the Senate’s GMO labeling bill. The Seed Growers Association called the bipartisan labeling bill “dangerous” because it preempts “existing strong state GMO Labeling laws” that the group say are widely supported by the organic industry. The Organic Seed Growers and Trade Association was a member of the Organic Trade Association for eight years.

House Passes EPA Spending Bill

Overshadowed by the GMO labeling bill, the U.S. House of Representative’s last Thursday also passed a spending bill for the Environmental Protection Agency. All 12 appropriation bills in Congress face a rather uncertain future, however, as lawmakers are now on summer recess and few working days remain amid election-year politics.  Further, Politico reports the fiscal 2017 Interior-Environment appropriations bill, which includes EPA funding, faces a White House Veto threat. The bill would require the EPA to better take state interests into account when creating water quality standards. It also limits reporting requirements in the EPA’s new pesticide worker protections. The bill also prohibits raising fees on grazing and reduces grazing permit backlogs. House lawmakers passed the spending bill by a 231-196 vote.


New Bayer Proposal to Monsanto Worth near $65 Billion

Bayer’s new proposal in a bid to take over Monsanto is worth about $65 billion, or $125 per share. The new bid represents a $3-a-share increase from an earlier proposal Monsanto rejected as too low. Monsanto said its board would review the new offer, but investor reaction to the news indicated the market is skeptical the increase will be sufficient to seal the deal, according to the Wall Street Journal. Bayer offered to buy Monsanto in May for $62 billion. A deal would reshape Bayer, making agriculture roughly half its overall sales, which has rattled some investors who view the company more as a health-care player than a producer of crop seeds. Bayer said it made the new offer after it received additional information in private discussions with Monsanto. Bayer also offered a $1.5 billion reverse-breakup fee should a deal be blocked on antitrust grounds. However, at the same time, Monsanto is exploring other options that include a reported merger with BASF.

Fertilizer Institute Applauds Introduction of the FARM Act

The Fertilizer Institute praised the introduction of legislation that would withdraw a memorandum subjecting agriculture retailers to stronger anhydrous ammonia regulations. Republican Senator Deb Fischer of Nebraska and Democrat Heidi Heitkamp of North Dakota introduced the legislation last week. The measure would protect approximately 3,800 agricultural retailers from having to comply with the Process Safety Management program. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration sent a memo last year that subjected facilities that store or handle anhydrous ammonia, a critical nitrogen fertilizer, to the PSM program. In addition to requiring OSHA to withdraw the memo, The Fertilizer Access and Responsible Management Act would require OSHA to follow the formal rulemaking process and allow impacted stakeholders, like agricultural retailers and their farmer customers, the opportunity to provide meaningful input.

AFA, AgCareers Announce Career Success Partnership

Agriculture Future of America and last week announced a career success partnership. AFA, a development organization for young leaders in agriculture, says the partnership will utilize both organizations’ strengths to continue spurring collegiate students forward in their pursuit of careers in the agricultural sector. AFA president Mark Stewart says “this partnership will enhance the student search for internships and first full-time positions.” Through the partnership, AFA industry partners can post their internships free of charge through the site. AFA will be actively encouraging students who participate in AFA programs to seek opportunities through the website. The two are working together to create more promotion of opportunities and remove barriers to searching for internships and first full-time positions. Additionally, AFA partner companies will have an exclusive opportunity to engage with selected AFA delegates from across the country in a Virtual Opportunity Fair.

SOURCE: NAFB News Service