READ the NAFB’s National Ag News for Friday, August 5th…

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USDA Announces Assistance for Dairy Farmers

Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack Thursday announced that dairy producers enrolled in the 2016 Margin Protection Program for Dairy will get approximately $11.2 million in financial assistance. Vilsack said Thursday “we understand the nation’s dairy producers are experiencing challenges due to market conditions.” The payment rate for May/June 2016 will be the largest since the program began in 2014. The national average margin for the May/June 2016 two-month consecutive period is $5.76 per hundredweight, resulting in the MPP payments. Dairy producers who enrolled at the $6 through $8 margin trigger coverage level will receive payments. MPP-Dairy payments are triggered when the national average margin—or the difference between the price of milk and the cost of feed—falls below a level of coverage selected by the dairy producer, ranging from $4 to $8, for a specified consecutive two-month period. Vilsack also urged dairy producers to evaluate their enrollment options for 2017, as the enrollment period is currently scheduled to end September 30th, 2016.

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Farm Credit System Loan Volume up 10 Percent

The Farm Credit System reports loan volumes were up 10 percent for the first half of 2016, and net income increased two percent. President and CEO of the Federal Farm Credit Banks Funding Corporation, Tracey McCabe, says “despite continued lower agricultural commodity prices and global economic challenges, the overall credit quality of the System’s loan portfolio remained favorable.” 2016 first half results compared to the first half of 2015 saw combined net income increase $39 million or 3.4 percent to $1.18 billion. Net interest income increased $120 million or 7.0 percent to $1.84 billion for the second quarter of 2016. The Farm Credit report contributes the figures to positive second quarter results driven by an increased loan volume.

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Global Food Prices Slightly Lower in July

The latest Food Price Index shows a slight decrease in global food prices in July. Compiled by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, the index dipped .08 percent last month to a reading of 161.9. The modest decline in July followed five consecutive monthly increases, and was largely caused by drops in international prices of grains and vegetable oils, more than offsetting firmer dairy, meat and sugar prices. Average prices for cereal grains fell 2.8 percent for the month, and vegetable oil prices were down the same. However, dairy priced increased by 3.2 percent on average, and meat prices climbed 1.3 percent from June. Sugar prices increased one percent from the previous month.

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McDonald’s Completes Move Away from Antibiotics in Chicken

McDonalds has ceased serving chicken raised on antibiotics that are important to human medicine. The fast food retailer last year pledged to make the move and has done so ahead of schedule. However, it’s important to note that chicken served at McDonald’s won’t necessarily be raised completely without antibiotics. The company’s suppliers are still allowed to use antibiotics not used to treat people. The announcement comes as McDonald’s also says the company will remove high-fructose corn syrup from sandwich buns. The company said this week it would replace high-fructose corn syrup in its sandwich buns with sugar as part of an effort to simplify its ingredients and “satisfy increasingly conscientious customers,” according to the Wall Street Journal. The change will affect 50 percent of the restaurant’s menu.

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Clemson Research Could Lead to Space Farming

Researchers at Clemson University are laying out the research groundwork for deep-space farming as part of a NASA-funded study. Clemson mechanical engineering professor Joshua Summers is working with Freight Farms, a company based in Boston Massachusetts, to complete the study. Summers has assembled a team that will look for ways to make the self-contained farms created by Freight Farms more efficient to supply fresh produce to explorers in the far reaches of deep space. The $125,000 that Clemson and Freight Farms received was among $49.7 million in awards from NASA as part of an initiative aimed at enabling deep space missions. The Freight Farms box, dubbed the “Leafy Green Machine,” requires about 10 gallons of water per day, which is much less than a traditional farm. They can operate in temperatures as low as minus 20 degrees and as high as 120 degrees, Fahrenheit. Summers and his team hope to find ways of capturing the heat generated by LED lights. It could help cool the inside of the farms, and redirecting the heat could generate power for on-board systems.

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Vilsack not VP, But Could Play Key Role in Clinton Administration

Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack did not make the cut to become Hillary Clinton’s running mate, but he stands a good chance at a top post within her administration, should Clinton be elected in November. Politico reports Vilsack is “very much in the conversation” to become Clinton’s Chief of Staff, if her campaign makes it to the White House. The only question, according to a Politico expert, is whether or not Vilsack would be interested in going back to a staffer role. Vilsack is very much a cheerleader for the Clinton campaign, even after falling short of being her choice for Vice President.  Although, Vilsack still stands a chance to fall short in the running as Chief of Staff. Political insiders say most people see Chief of Staff as a choice between Cheryl Mills, Clinton’s chief of staff at the State Department, and Tom Nides, Clinton’s deputy secretary of state for management.

SOURCE: NAFB News Service

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