READ the NAFB’s National Ag News for Monday, July 25th…

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

Sponsored by the American Farm Bureau Federation

Farm lending Needs Remain High

The Federal Reserve Bank reports the need for farm lending remained high in the second quarter of 2016, driven by ongoing demand for operating loans. The Federal Reserve’s Agricultural Finance Databook found the total number of non-real estate loans made to farmers in the second quarter increased six percent from a year ago. The report says the prolonged environment of robust lending activity, amid persistently weak profits in the farm sector, has led to slight reductions in the performance of agricultural loans at commercial banks. Although the share of troubled loans has remained low from a historical perspective, the Fed says an increase in loans 30 to 89 days past due could be an early indication that borrowers are struggling to repay loans in amid tight profit margins. Despite the slight declines in loan performance and heightened risk, however, profitability at agricultural banks generally has remained strong, according to the report. The Agricultural Finance Databook is a quarterly compilation of national and regional agricultural finance data by the Federal Reserve Bank.

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Lawmakers Call for Dairy Program Sign up Extension

House and Senate lawmakers want the Agriculture Department to extend the enrollment period for the Margin Protection Program. Chairman of the House Agriculture Committee, Texas Republican Mike Conaway, along with other committee members and Senate counterparts, are calling on USDA to extend the sign-up period because they say the move would encourage additional participation in the program. In a letter to USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack, the group of lawmakers say an extension of the deadline to December 31st “should be made permanent to give producers additional time to make informed decisions and to improve program participation.” Pro Farmer reports that since MPP was created in the 2014 Farm Bill, milk prices have dropped almost 40 percent and cheese stocks now stand at record-high levels. The current enrollment deadline is September 30th.

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Purdue University Discovers Process Increasing Milk’s Shelf Life

A rapid heating and cooling of milk significantly reduces the amount of harmful bacteria present, extending the shelf life of one of the most common refrigerator staples in the world by several weeks, according to a Purdue University study. The results were published in a scientific journal last week and show that increasing the temperature of milk by 10 degrees for less than a second eliminates more than 99 percent of the bacteria left behind after pasteurization. Study organizer Bruce Applegate says “It’s an add-on to pasteurization, but it can add shelf life of up to five, six or seven weeks to cold milk.” Phillip Myer, an assistant professor of animal science at the University of Tennessee, says the process uses the heat already necessary for pasteurization to rapidly heat milk droplets. Myer said the promise of the technology is that it could reduce waste and allow milk to reach distant locations where transport times using only pasteurization would mean that milk would have a short shelf life upon arrival.

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USDA Says Organic Eggs Have Largest Price Premiums

A new study by the Department of Agriculture’s Economic Research Service finds organic eggs have the largest price premiums over their nonorganic counterparts. The study estimated price premiums in grocery stores for 17 commonly purchased organic foods relative to their nonorganic counterparts from 2004 to 2010. Price premiums for most of the organic products studied did not steadily increase or decrease during the seven-year period, but fluctuated. Premiums for organic bread ranged from 25 to 45 percent above the nonorganic price, and premiums for organic milk ranged from 50 to 80 percent. The wide fluctuations in the price premium for organic eggs-66 to 173 percent-may be a result of the large retail price swings common for nonorganic eggs, according to the study. Organic carrots, on the other hand, had a narrower range of premiums. Organic carrots were priced between 20 and 27 percent higher than nonorganic carrots during 2004 to 2010.

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Poultry Pets Sicken More than 600 People

Salmonella traced to backyard flocks and pet chicks and ducklings continues to claim victims, with public health officials now tracking eight outbreaks across 45 states, according to Food Safety News. The outbreak was reported in June and since then, there have been 287 additional cases of illness reported, bringing the total to 611 people sickened. At least 138 victims had to be hospitalized, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The CDC says “these outbreaks are expected to continue for the next several months since flock owners might be unaware of the risk of Salmonella infection. Victims reported buying live baby poultry from several suppliers, including feed supply stores, Internet sites, hatcheries and friends in multiple states. Some of the places ill people reported contact with live poultry include their home, someone else’s home, work or school settings.

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Mexican Ethanol Producers Set Sights on Sorghum

Ethanol producers from Mexico are considering the use of sorghum for production of the biobased fuel. The U.S. Grains Council recently hosted a trade team of Mexican ethanol producers in Kansas and Texas. The trade mission, partnering with the United Sorghum Checkoff Program, gave participants the opportunity to tour facilities and learn more about the benefits of using sorghum as Mexican energy industry reforms continue. In 2015, Mexico’s state-owned petroleum company announced its plan to introduce a pilot program that would blend gasoline with ethanol. The resulting boom in ethanol interest gave the Grains Council the opportunity to lead conversations and generate continued awareness of ethanol with the goal of fostering new competition in the market place. In addition to one-on-one meetings and visits to sorghum and grain facilities, an ethanol plant tour gave producers an inside look at production methods and insight into applicable plant management techniques.

SOURCE: NAFB News Service

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