READ the NAFB’s National Ag News for Monday, August 8th…

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Sponsored by the American Farm Bureau Federation

CME ‘Enhancing’ Live Cattle Markets

In response to feedback from the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association and independent studies by Informa Economics, CME Group Friday announced what it calls enhancements to the live cattle futures market. For starters, CME Group will add a seasonal discount of $1.50 per hundredweight on live cattle tendered to its Worthing, South Dakota delivery location for the October contract only. Research concluded the discount would better align delivery values with cash market prices. CME Group will also revise grading and quality specifications and delay the listing of addition futures contracts. With just 20 percent of cattle sales negotiated in cash markets across the U.S., CME Group will delay listing any additional contract months beyond October 2017 to evaluate ways to improve cash market transparency, review cash market developments and consider the introduction of cash-settled products.

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Agriculture Production Costs Sharply Decline in 2015

U.S. farmers spent far less on agriculture production in 2015 compared to 2014, according to the Department of Agriculture’s National Agricultural Statistics Service. A new report shows farmers spent $362.8 billion on agricultural production in 2015, down 8.8 percent from 2014, reversing a long-term trend of growing costs. Feed and farm services, the two largest expenditure categories for U.S. farmers in 2014, both declined 8.2 percent last year. Producers spent $58.5 billion on animal feed and $41.6 billion on farm services in 2015. One of only two expenditure categories that increased last year was livestock, poultry and related expenses, on which the producers spent $45.4 billion last year, an increase of 0.7 percent from 2014. The other was miscellaneous capital expenditures at $700 million, an increase of 16.7 percent. Livestock producers spent $182.6 billion, down 6.6 percent from 2014. Crop growers spent $180.3 billion, down 10.9 percent from 2014. Per farm, the average expenditures total was $176,181 compared with $191,500 in 2014, down 8.0 percent.

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Bayer Conducting Due Diligence on Monsanto

Bayer AG is examining all points of Monsanto, including financial accounts, in its effort to acquire the St Louis, Missouri-based company. Bloomberg reports the move could pave the way for the German company to raise its takeover offer for Monsanto. Bayer has signed confidentiality agreements to conduct due diligence on Monsanto, a process that is expected to last a few more weeks. Last month, Monsanto rejected an improved $125-per-share offer by Bayer, describing it as financially inadequate. In a statement, Monsanto said the company remained open to conversations, but never indicated a willingness to allow Bayer to conduct due diligence. Bayer requested the move previously as a prerequisite to increasing its offer. Buying Monsanto would give Bayer the largest seed supplier and a pioneer of crop biotechnology, and create the world’s largest producer of seeds and pesticides.

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Iowa Processor Introduces “Non-GMO” Pork

A processing company in Iowa last week launched a new line of pork products under the brand name Heluka that “addresses consumer concerns around animal welfare and clean-label foods.” Meatingplace reports Beeler’s Inc. non-GMO marketed pork is derived from sows housed in deep-bedded pens, as opposed to gestation stalls, and the animals are fed vegetarian non-GMO diets, as certified by the NON GMO project. They are also raised without being administered any antibiotics and are not fed ractopamine, according to the processing company. Beeler’s is a six-generation family operation with nationwide distribution. The Heluka-brand pork will be available through select retailers and restaurants.

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Japanese Reporters Travel to the U.S. to Learn About Biotech, Biofuels

The U.S. Grains Council says key members of Japan’s media traveled across the United States last week to learn about corn production, ethanol and biotechnology. The members of Japan’s media came to learn how those topics fit into making U.S. farms sustainable. The tour started in St. Louis, where the team visited Monsanto to learn about the company’s effort to improve the productivity and sustainability of crop production. From there, the reporters traveled through Illinois visiting with farmers and the Illinois Corn Marketing Board to better understand how farmers are adopting technologies to increase production while using inputs more efficiently. Following those visits, the team met with the Illinois Renewable Fuels Association and also traveled to a CHS ethanol plant in Illinois. The tour concluded on Friday with a visit to North Carolina State University. A Grains Council spokesperson says of the trip “it is important to maintain a consistent dialogue with the people of Japan to assure them that U.S. farmers will be able to provide for their food and fuel needs sustainably.”

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Wine Industry a Boone for California, U.S., Economies

A new study shows California’s wine and winegrape industry contributed $57.6 billion to the state’s economy and $114.1 billion to the U.S. economy in 2015. The study commissioned by the Wine Institute and California Association of Winegrape Growers measures the sector’s economic impact regarding employment, wages, taxes, tourism spending and visits. Wine Institute CEO Robert Koch says “California wine is an economic engine for our nation.” The report shows growth of 17 percent in statewide impact, from $49.2 to $57.6 billion, and 19 percent in national impact from $96 billion to $114.1 billion in the past seven years. The report goes on to say the strong growth during a period that started with the Great Recession and continued with slow recovery shows the strength and resiliency of the nation’s number one wine-producing state as a positive economic force across the nation.

SOURCE: NAFB News Service

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