READ the NAFB’s National Ag News for Tuesday, July 26th…

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Ag Lenders Helping Producers Restructure Debt during Challenging Prices

A new poll of senior leaders from Midwest Farm Credit lenders by AgriBank shows commodity prices are the greatest challenge facing farm operators. The poll says Farm Credit lenders are responding to the challenge by providing services to restructure the financial situations for farmers. The poll, which was conducted the week of July 11th, was announced Monday at the Ag Media Summit in St. Louis, Missouri. The poll shows 69 percent of senior credit and risk officers from the 17 Farm Credit Associations in the AgriBank District selected commodity prices as the top challenge. The next biggest challenges were input costs, credit availability and adverse weather effects. When asked about the support they are providing to help farmers face those challenges, 86 percent said they are rebalancing borrower debt to bolster working capital. AgriBank is one of the largest banks within the national Farm Credit System, with nearly $100 billion in total assets.


EPA Closing in on Finalizing Pesticide Worker Safety Rule

The Environmental Protection Agency is inching closer to finalizing standards for certifying workers who apply dangerous, restricted-use pesticides to crops. In a Federal Register notice Monday, the agency announced it has sent the rule to the Department of Agriculture for review. The USDA review is required under federal pesticide law, before the measure heads to the White House for a final review, according to Politico. The new standards would require certifications to be renewed every three years and establish new training and licensing requirements. For the first time, the regulations would also set a minimum age requirement of 18 years old for people seeking certification. The proposed rule applies only to those chemicals that pose a high health risk, including the herbicide atrazine.

Syngenta Calls Regulatory Talks Constructive

Leadership for Syngenta calls recent talks with regulatory authorities constructive as the company seeks approval for the merger that allows ChemChina to take over the Swiss-based company. Syngenta officials continue to display confidence that the transaction will be completed in time, according to Bloomberg. Talks with the Committee on Foreign Investment in the U.S. are ongoing, and the goal remains to complete the deal by the end of this year. ChemChina is seeking regulatory approval for the purchase that will make it the world’s largest supplier of pesticides and other crop-care chemicals, although temporarily. The Dow-DuPont merger and Bayer’s possible acquisition of Monsanto will reorder the rankings as the top six suppliers fight for market share and financial power to drive research and new product releases.


Bayer, Monsanto, Still far apart on Merger Agreement

Bayer and Monsanto appear no closer to an agreement than two months ago when the first offer by Bayer went public, according to a new analysis by the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. Bayer recently increased its offer to acquire St. Louis-based Monsanto to $125 a share, or $64 billion. Edward Jones analyst Matt Arnold told the local newspaper he believes Monsanto’s board will not accept an offer for less than roughly $140 a share, and he does not think Bayer is willing to go that high. Arnold gets to more than $140 a share by taking Monsanto’s estimated operating earnings and multiplying them by 17. That’s the multiplier that Monsanto was willing to pay for Syngenta last year. Bayer’s offer falls short of that marker, meaning the offer values Monsanto less than the company values a competitor just a year ago. Monsanto said the second Bayer proposal was “financially inadequate and insufficient to ensure deal certainty.” Meanwhile, Bayer may not be willing to go much higher as shareholders would rather see Bayer invest in its pharmaceutical business.


Brexit May Help UK Biotech Approval Process

The CEO for Syngenta pointed to Brexit as a boost for the United Kingdom’s crop regulations, saying he sees the referendum vote to leave the European Union as an “opportunity for the UK in agriculture.” Erik Fyrwald, Syngenta’s CEO, told the Financial Times in an interview that after Brexit, the UK would implement science-based rules and would help companies more quickly implement new technology. Frywald says “the EU regulatory process is becoming politicized,” delaying implementation of technology. Post-Brexit, the UK would establish its own system separate from the EU version, according to Pro Farmer’s First Thing Today. Frywald says based on recent conversations, the UK will make biotech approval and implementation based solely on science.


Former Vilsack Staffer to Lead Kaine’s Vice President Campaign

While the Democrat’s presumptive nominee for President, Hillary Clinton, did not pick Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack as her running mate, her choice did tap a former Vilsack staffer to lead his campaign. Clinton announced over the weekend her pick for Vice President, Senator Tim Kaine, a Democrat from Virginia. The Hagstrom Report says Kaine then reached out to Matt Paul to serve as his chief of staff for the campaign. Paul is a former communications director for Secretary Vilsack during his time at USDA and when Vilsack was Governor of Iowa. Paul left USDA to run Hillary Clinton’s Iowa campaign during the caucuses. He had since joined her national presidential campaign staff, working out of the Brooklyn headquarters.

SOURCE: NAFB News Service