READ the NAFB’s National Ag News for Thursday, July 21st

CLICK HERE to listen to TODAY's BARN Morning Ag News with Brian Allmer...

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

READ the NAFB’s National Ag News for Thursday, July 21st…

Sponsored by the American Farm Bureau Federation

GOP Platform in Line with Trump on Trade

The Republican Party platform is now endorsing a policy on international trade that more closely resembles comments made by their presidential nominee, Donald Trump, than what platforms have said in the past. Pro Farmer’s First Thing Today reports the new platform calls for “agreements that put America first.” It also says a Republican President “will fight for parity in trade agreements, and will be ready to implement countervailing duties if other countries refuse to cooperate.” The Republican Party has supported trade agreements in the past, and it’s 2012 platform said a Republican President would complete negotiations on the Trans-Pacific Partnership. The apparent change in trade support comes despite the official platform saying directly that “America is the largest ag exporter in the world, and those exports are vital for other sectors of the economy.” The Republican Party says each dollar of ag exports generates another $1.27 in business activity.

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Republicans Want SNAP Separate from Farm Bill

The 2016 Republican Platform is calling on Congress to separate the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program from the Farm Bill. The Hagstrom Report says that’s a popular position with House conservatives, but groups like the American Farm Bureau say that would make it impossible for Congress to pass a Farm Bill. The Farm Program and SNAP, which used to be known as food stamps, were joined together in the Farm Bill years ago, because some lawmakers thought urban legislators would not have any reason to vote for a Farm Bill that didn’t impact their constituents directly. The Republican platform said the delay in passing the 2014 Farm Bill was about Democratic efforts to “expand welfare through the SNAP program, which now comprises 70 percent of all Farm Bill spending.” The platform says the party aims to correct what it calls the mistake of putting SNAP administration under the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

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Proposed Pork Plant in Iowa One Step Closer

The Board of Supervisors in Wright County, Iowa, has forwarded a rezoning ordinance on the proposal to build a Prestage Foods pork processing plant to a second reading. The Board also set rules for future debate on the topic, which has caused considerable controversy in Iowa. Meatingplace says the move takes the proposal for the $240-million-dollar plant to the second step in the approval process. The county wants the land rezoned from agricultural to industrial. The next public hearing on the process is set for July 25. The new rules on debate say people who wish to speak need to prove residency, and locals will be given priority over non-locals in the discussion. Those who wish to speak also have to sign in well in advance. Each speaker gets two minutes to make a point and discussions as a whole are limited to two hours. The Board says they set the new rules to keep the debate civil and under control. 

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Americans Support GMO Labeling, But Lack Food Safety Knowledge

A new survey conducted by the University of Wisconsin at Madison and the University of Pennsylvania shows Americans widely support the labeling of genetically modified foods. However, they don’t appear to have a lot of actual knowledge about scientific evidence that supports the safety of those foods. 58 percent of the adults in the survey admit to having a fair or poor understanding of what genetically modified foods are. 88 percent of those surveyed support the mandatory labeling of GMO foods, and 91 percent say that people have a right to know what they’re eating. Only 18 percent of those surveyed knew about a May 17 report on GMO’s from the National Academies of Sciences, Medicines, and Engineering that says there is no more risk evident in consuming GMO foods instead of non-GMO products. Only 39 percent of the respondents agreed with the statement that GMO foods are safe to eat, while 27 percent disagreed. 

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Farmers Who Rent High Amounts of Land Feeling Stress

The downturn in commodity prices is starting to put serious pressure on producers across the country that rent most of their farmland. A report from DTN says that group most likely consists of young farmers and experienced operators who rapidly expanded when $8 corn was about to end. Cash rents haven’t adjusted to the lower commodity prices as quickly.  A recent Iowa State University survey of cash rents shows a price of $270 per acre in 2013 has only come down to $230 an acre in 2016. University of Illinois economist Gary Schnitkey estimates farmers in his state lost $101 dollars an acre on cash rent land, and only $1 per acre on land they owned. Working capital drops based on the amount of land farmers rent. An Illinois study said farmers who rent 25 to 50 percent of their land had about $70 dollars more per acre in working capital than 100 percent cash renters from 2003-2008. After commodity prices dropped, that gap jumped to $190 dollars an acre. 

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Animal Ag Alliance Shares Report on HSUS Conference

The Animal Agriculture Alliance released a report written by members who attended the “Taking Action for Animals” conference that was put on by the Humane Society of the U.S. The Alliance said sending their members to conferences like this allows them to gather crucial intelligence information on what animal activists are up to. There were several themes noted at the conference, including how to put pressure on corporations to make them more animal-friendly. HSUS urges its members to put pressure on companies for more restrictive policies that ultimately don’t improve animal welfare. Those policies do raise the cost of caring for animals and in turn, raise the cost of food. Another panel talked about approaching shareholders and managers of food companies in a positive way, but then turning up the pressure to get what they want. Other panels included using religion to promote an animal rights agenda. The Senior Food Policy Director for HSUS also talked about the “Meatless Mondays” campaign in schools as something she called a “tiny little trick for holidays from meat.”

SOURCE: NAFB News Service

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