READ the NAFB’s National Ag News for Friday, August 12th…

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KC Fed: Midwest Ag Credit Conditions Deteriorating

Agriculture credit conditions in the Midwest continued to deteriorate in the second quarter of 2016 as farm income remained subdued. That’s according to the Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City’s Survey of Agricultural Credit Conditions released Thursday. Nearly 75 percent of bankers within the seven-state 10th District of the Federal Reserve Bank in the Midwest reported farm income was less than a year ago. Persistent declines in farm income have continued to pressure agricultural credit conditions, according to the survey. The KC Fed also notes demand for non-real estate farm loans and loan renewals continued to climb as slimmer profit margins pull down the rate of loan repayments. Almost half of all respondents reported loan repayment rates in the second quarter were lower than a year ago. Although bankers continued to report ample credit was available for borrowers who are in a strong financial position, the higher rate of loan denials suggests the number of farm borrowers who are less creditworthy has increased over the past year.


Trump Adviser Calls for Farm Bill Revamp

A co-chair of Donald Trump’s agriculture advisory committee says the Farm Bill needs a revamp. Texas Agriculture Commissioner Sid Miller told Politico this week the farm bill was written in a time of high commodity prices, adding “we need to revamp it.” Miller deferred specific comment until Trump’s campaign for President rolls out its full agriculture platform. Miller is one of more than 40 people whom the campaign has given the designation “co-chair” of the advisory panel. Miller says other issues will be considered in the platform, including the Waters of the U.S. rule, the Bureau of Land Management’s range-land practices, the Endangered Species Act and the Environmental Protection Agencies pesticide registration process. Trump’s agriculture platform should be announced soon. The campaign said during the Republican National Convention it would be released within a week or two. Those comments are now three weeks old. There’s been little released regarding a similar platform in Hilary Clinton’s campaign. However, last month Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack urged rural voters to back the Democratic presidential candidate. Vilsack says “she listens” and that agriculture needs a listener in the next four years. Key leaders during the Democratic National Convention suggested some rural conservative voters could be won over for Clinton if Democrats made the case for why she is better on agriculture policy issues.


EU Regulators to Investigate Dow-DuPont Merger

Antitrust regulators in the European Union are opening a full investigation into the Dow-DuPont proposed $130 billion merger. The regulators say the deal may reduce competition in crop protection and seed markets. The European Commission said the merger may also hurt innovation, according to Reuters. The merger would create the world’s largest integrated crop protection and seeds company. One EU Commissioner said of the investigation that “we need to make sure the proposed merger does not lead to higher prices.” The regulators have delayed a final decision until December 20th. Both Dow and DuPont said the companies would work with the Commission to address its concerns. Both still expect the deal to close by the end of this year.

Cargill Full Year Earnings Down 11 Percent

Cargill this week reported financial results for the fourth quarter and full fiscal year ending May 31st, 2016. The report comes as the company is on what it calls a “transformative path” to strengthen financial performance. Cargill reported full year earnings were down 11 percent, but noted net earnings were up 50 percent. The net earnings jump is attributed to the reshaping of the company’s portfolio, including selling off multiple pieces of the business in the refocusing efforts. Cargill CEO David MacLennan says while Cargill has more work to do, the company has already made many changes and is “seeing improved results.”


USDA APHIS to Approve Non-Browning GM Apple Variety

The Department of Agriculture’s USDA’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service plans to approve a non-browning variety of Fuji apple. The announcement comes following a review concluding the apple does not pose a risk to human health or the environment, according to Agri-Pulse. The specific variety would be the third in the Arctic Apple line to gain APHIS approval. APHIS relied on the environmental analysis it already performed on the two other varieties. USDA said approval of the new variety will not change consumer demand for other apples including conventional or organic varieties. APHIS received thousands of comments on the two varieties of apples that had been approved earlier for commercialization, and many were negative. However, Duarte (Dar-tay) Nursery of California said the variety “will help extend the usefulness” of the apple, adding the apple is proven safe and will help reduce food waste.

EPA Calls USDA a Leader in Green Power Use

The Environmental Protection Agency says the Department of Agriculture is one of the nation’s leading green power users. USDA is using more than 169 million kilowatt-hours of green power annually, which represents 35 percent of its total energy needs. The EPA recognizes USDA as number five on its Top 10 Federal Government list of the largest green power users. Additionally, USDA is number 43 on the National Top 100 list. The Green Power Partnership is a voluntary program encouraging organizations to use green power to reduce the environmental impacts associated with electricity use. By using green power, USDA is reducing 120 million metric tons of CO2 per year, or the equivalent of taking 25 million cars off the road. USDA is generating green power from on-site renewable energy including solar, wind, biomass, hydro and geothermal systems. USDA also uses alternative fuels in vehicles, designs and constructs high-performance green buildings and promotes the use of biobased products.

SOURCE: NAFB News Service