READ the NAFB’s National Ag News for Wednesday, August 3rd…

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U.S. Cattlemen’s Association Disappointed in Brazil Announcement

The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) announced yesterday that the U.S. will resume importing fresh, frozen or chilled, beef products from Brazil. The United States Cattlemen’s Association is disappointed in the announcement as they’ve been working on this issue for a decade. They say the safety of American domestic herds is at stake as Brazil continues to have problems with foot-and-mouth disease, along with continued bad-faith acts in the international trade community. The American public will also be impacted by the announcement as there’s no more country of origin labeling that shows where imported meat has come from. Trade between Brazil and the U.S. is expected to resume within 90 days and the U.S. Cattlemen will be monitoring the situation and address revisions as trade begins.


McDonald’s Announces New Antibiotics Policy

McDonald’s USA announced today that they will only be sourcing chickens raised without antibiotics that are important to humans. President Mike Andres said, “Our customers want food they feel great about eating, all the way from the farm to the restaurant table, and these moves are a way to help that happen.” McDonald’s has been working with its farmers for years to limit the number of antibiotics they use in the chain’s poultry supply. All chicken served in McDonald’s American restaurants comes from farms working closely with the chain to implement the new policy. The chain does approve of using antibiotics to treat chickens when they become ill, but doesn’t support the practice after they are well. The farmers will continue to use antibiotics called ionophores (eye-on’-eh-fores), a type that isn’t used on humans and is important for keeping chickens healthy. In a separate move, McDonald’s announced they will serve jugs of low-fat white milk and fat-free chocolate milk only from cows not treated with rBST, an artificial growth hormone sometimes used in cattle. McDonald’s realizes that there’s no significant difference between milk treated with rBST and rBST-free milk, but they recognize it’s something important to their customers.


Long Term Ag Outlook Strengthens

After a volatile June and early July in the commodity markets, agricultural outlooks turned higher in the rest of July. The Purdue University/CME Group Ag Economy Barometer turned higher, coming in at 112 in July, up from 104 in June and 97 in May. The improved outlook among producers in the survey came despite a tumble in commodity prices in June and early July. While their future outlooks improved, their feelings about current conditions declined to a value of 93, down from a more optimistic number of 98 in June. 69 percent of respondents expect tough financial times in the next year, which is consistent with the previous two months. However, the number of respondents that expect tough financial times in agriculture over the next five years dropped to 40 percent, lower than in previous months. Producers also expect higher commodity prices and rising farmland values in the next year. Purdue/CME Group experts say producers improving long-term outlooks likely come from lower costs, due in part to lower fertilizer prices and cash rents. 


EPA’s Latest Atrazine Report Ignores Science

A recent Environmental Protection Agency draft report on atrazine doesn’t take into account a large amount of scientific evidence that reaffirms the product is safe. The National Corn Growers Association’s Production and Stewardship Action Team says that sets a dangerous precedent. The team says federal law requires the EPA to make its decisions based on science, and the science is pretty clear. Atrazine is one of the safest and most effective crop management tools farmers have in their toolboxes. It’s also one of the most studied products in history with 50 years of data available. EPA released its draft assessment in June. All pesticides must be registered with the EPA, and be re-registered every 15 years. When the EPA drafted the assessment, the agency ignored several high-quality studies that showed atrazine to be safe. Instead, the EPA used studies its own Science Advisory Panel called “flawed” back in 2012. 


Many U.S. Governors Strongly Support TPP

A discussion panel at the National Association of Governors Meeting in July concluded that agriculture will be a big loser if the Trans-Pacific Partnership isn’t passed by Congress. The TPP involves 12 nations and covers 40 percent of the world’s economy. The agreement opens up new and lucrative markets for American agricultural products overseas. Farm Progress Dot Com says governors at the meeting called attacks on TPP “misguided,” citing attacks from members of Congress as well as the presidential candidates in the upcoming election. U.S. Trade Representative Michael Froman was in Iowa for the meeting as the Administration’s top person trying to sell the agreement to a skeptical Congress. He said the agreement is projected to boost the U.S. economy by $4.4 billion annually. Froman told the audience, “We’ve got to get it done this year. If we don’t get it done, given the current political climate, I’m not sure it would get done.” Supporters say it would give the U.S. influence over trade in the Pacific Rim, and supporters warn that China is ready to step in if the U.S. doesn’t.


A GMO “Buycott”

GMO labeling advocates are ramping up pressure on companies who already have labeled their products because of the Vermont labeling law to make sure they keep that information available for consumers. The GMO labeling bill signed by the President gives the USDA two years to come up with rules to implement the bill. Gary Hirshberg is the chair of Just Label It, and he urged companies like Campbell’s, Mars, and Dannon to keep the labels on their products, saying, “Your consumers will be watching to see if you continue to provide this basic information, and so will we.” In the meantime, almost 500,000 people have signed on to the campaign from the pro-labeling group Organic Consumers Association to stop buying food products that are labeled with QR codes, calling those codes the “mark of Monsanto.” Instead, they pledge to “buycott” products from companies that support a consumer’s right to know what’s in their food. The Association also calls for a boycott of members of the Grocery Manufacturers Association, which helped to fund opposition to mandatory state labeling laws.

SOURCE: NAFB News Service