READ the NAFB’s National Ag News for Monday, August 15th…

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Sponsored by the American Farm Bureau Federation

USDA Forecasts Record-High Corn and Soybean Production in 2016

Both U.S. corn and soybean growers are expected to harvest record-high crops this year, according to the Crop Production report issued by the Department of Agriculture’s National Agricultural Statistics Service. USDA NASS Friday released the report that shows U.S. corn production is forecasted at 15.2 billion bushels, while soybean growers are expected to harvest 4.06 billion bushels in 2016. Average corn yield is forecast at 175.1 bushels per acre, setting a new record-high. U.S. soybean farmers also took advantage of the favorable weather conditions and are expected to increase their production by three percent from 2015. Soybean yields are expected to average 48.9 bushels per acre, reaching another record-high mark. Wheat production is forecasted at 2.32 billion bushels, up 13 percent from 2015. The report also included the first production forecast for U.S. cotton. NASS forecasts all cotton production at 15.9 million bales, up 23 percent from last year. Yield is expected to average 800 pounds per harvested acre, up 34 pounds from last year.


Farm Bureau Asks USDA for Emergency Dairy Assistance

The American Farm Bureau Federation wants the Department of Agriculture to provide emergency assistance to dairy farmers. The request follows a call by 61 members of Congress asking USDA to provide emergency assistance to the nation’s dairy farmers, against a backdrop of plummeting farm-level milk prices. In a letter to Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack, AFBF President Zippy Duvall noted that the U.S. all-milk price fell to $14.50 per hundredweight in May, the lowest level since 2009. In addition, he told USDA, dairy farm cash receipts from milk sales have fallen $16 billion since the record highs of 2014. USDA is projecting a 2016 average milk price of $15.70 per hundredweight, down 35 percent from 2014 and the second-lowest level in the past decade. Duvall said AFBF was “extremely appreciative” of USDA’s deadline extension to sign-up for MPP as well as the expansion of a farm’s production when new family members join the business. He noted AFBF also believes the $11.2 million in MPP assistance announced last week will help, but says more can be done. Duvall asked USDA to buy additional dairy products to be used in USDA’s nutrition programs and for donations to food banks.


Pork Workers Agree to Discuss Contract Extension

The International Longshore and Warehouse Union delegates last week voted to discuss a contract extension with the Pacific Maritime Association. Pro Farmer reports an extension would spare shippers the prospect of another round of long delays, which were seen at the biggest West Coast ports from mid-2014 to February 2015. The vote is welcome news for agriculture and trade groups, as companies suffered billions of dollars in losses on the recent port slowdowns. The National Pork Producers Council and 112 other trade associations in March sent a letter to the groups urging them to begin early discussions on a contract extension or a new contract “to avoid actions that would slow, stop, or disrupt cargo movement during negotiations.” The existing contract expires on July 1st, 2019.

Grains Council Promoting U.S. Sorghum in Peru for Export

The U.S. Grains Council has ramped up its sorghum promotion work in Peru. The Grains Council says the market in Peru is seeing both a significant discount to corn and can now import unlimited quantities of U.S. sorghum duty-free under the existing U.S.-Peru free trade agreement. A small group of USGC representatives visited the country last month and will follow up with another visit this week. As the fifth largest importer of U.S. corn, USGC says Peru’s growing meat, milk and egg production make it an ideal location for new products, specifically dried distiller’s grain and sorghum. Starting January first, the duty and quota restrictions on U.S. sorghum have been lifted under the free trade agreement, and a recent port expansion in Peru adds increased interest to the market. Grains Council global trade manager Alvaro Cordero says Peru shows potential that USGC is aiming to develop through direct market promotion. Cordero hopes that current prices and changing weather patterns in Argentina and Brazil will lead buyers in Peru to consider U.S. sorghum as a first choice.

Sales of Precision Farm Services Expected to Slow

Following the downturn in the agriculture economy, a majority of precision farm equipment dealers expects sales to slow. Precision Farming Dealer magazine reports only 40 percent of dealers expect some growth in their precision farming sales due to the continuing headwinds in agriculture. Still, precision farm equipment dealers remain optimistic. The magazine’s 2016 Benchmark Study found only 21.1 percent of dealers expect any fall off in revenue, a considerable improvement from last year’s results when 35.5 percent of dealers predicted declining revenues. The percentage of dealers reporting declines of seven percent or less in 2015 revenue was about two percent less than forecast in last year’s benchmark study. When it comes to predicting strong growth, however, fewer dealers expect a significant gain in sales dollars in the precision segment of their business. The survey shows just one in 10 dealers are projecting revenue increases of over eight percent for this year.


Canada Restaurant Chain Apologizes to Beef Producers for Humane Beef Claims

The Canada-based restaurant chain Earl’s has apologized to beef producers in the spat between the two over an announcement the chain would only serve 100 percent Certified Humane beef. The announcement earlier this year was immediately met with intense criticism from both consumers and beef producers. If the restaurant chain had moved forward with the decision, the company would have sourced the most of its beef from the United States. Meatingplace reports suppliers in Canada would not be able to keep up with the demand. At the Canadian Beef Industry Conference in Calgary last week, Earl’s President Mo Jessa said “I am asking for your forgiveness and allow me the chance to work with the industry.” Within a week of the announcement this spring, the company announced  that it would be bringing back Alberta beef to its restaurants—59 of which are located in Canada—and that it would work with local farms “to build a supply of Alberta beef that meets their criteria.”

SOURCE: NAFB News Service