READ the NAFB’s National Ag News for Friday, August 19th…

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Lower Meat Prices Stall Food Inflation

Consumer food prices in the U.S. were unchanged in July, thanks largely to declining meat costs. The Labor Department reports the consumer price index for meats, poultry, fish and eggs purchased at the grocery store dropped 0.6 percent last month, following a 0.7 percent decrease in June. Over the previous 12 months, meat, poultry, fish and egg prices together have fallen 5.6 percent. The decline has contributed to a decrease of 1.6 percent in the index for all food consumed at home over that time span, according to Meatingplace. In July, the index for food at home fell 0.2 percent, its seventh decline in the past nine months. Prices for dairy, cereal and bakery products fell last month, while fruits, vegetables and nonalcoholic beverages turned higher.

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Senator Toomey Announces Opposition to TPP

Republican Senator Pat Toomey this week announced his opposition to the Trans-Pacific Partnership trade agreement. The Senator from Pennsylvania says TPP has inadequate provisions for drug companies and dairy farmers. Pro Farmer reports President Barack Obama has been banking on gathering enough Republicans for most votes needed to pass the trade agreement. Obama is expected to send the trade deal to Congress following the November election. Toomey said TPP does not do enough to open up new markets in Japan and Canada for American dairy products, compared to access the deal would grant to New Zealand farmers eyeing milk exports to the United States. The opposition by Toomey is largely seen as a move to gain votes for re-election. As the Washington Post Reports, Toomey has generally supported free-trade agreements, even writing so in his book “The Road to Prosperity.” 

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2017 Forecasted to Bring some Relief from Record Heat

NASA predicts 2016 will be the warmest year on record for Earth, but forecasters offer a prediction of relief for 2017. Weather forecasters say a new annual record is unlikely in 2017 since the effect of El Niño is fading. That does not mean 2017 will be much cooler, however. Forecasters say the long-term trend is towards warming, but there is natural variability, bringing ups and downs to overall temperatures each year, according to Reuters. La Niña, the cool counterpart to El Niño, is expected to be weak and develop late this fall or early winter. July of this year was the hottest single month since records began in the 19th century. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Association says July was the 15th month in a row to break a monthly heat record. Records date back 137 years to 1880.

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Monsanto Allowing Bayer Limited Access to its Books

Monsanto has allowed Bayer AG a glimpse into the St. Louis, Missouri-based seed company’s books amid ongoing merger talks. Sources familiar with the talks told Reuters this week Monsanto and Bayer have yet to sign a non-disclosure agreement, but Monsanto has granted Bayer a “limited drip of information.” A non-disclosure agreement would allow Bayer to conduct due diligence on Monsanto in reconsidering its offer to acquire the company. The sources also say Bayer has no appetite to put a deal at risk by going hostile, although added talks were “difficult.” Monsanto CEO Hugh Grant told investors this week that Monsanto remains in discussions with Bayer and other parties about “potential strategic transactions.” Monsanto has rejected two potential bids from Bayer thus far, the latest being worth $64 billion.

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U.K. Pledges Support to Farmers Following Brexit

The United Kingdom this week vowed to support farmers and universities that receive billions in funding each year from the European Union once the country leaves the EU. Bloomberg reports the U.K. will match the level of agricultural funding until 2020.  A U.K. official says the nation is “determined to ensure that people have stability and certainty” in the period leading up to its departure from the EU. The announcement comes as the U.K. faces an array of demands from EU nations when exit negotiations begin, foreshadowing a long and complicated process that’s likely to generate uncertainty and weigh on business investment.

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Louisiana Flooding Destroys $14 Million of Rice

With more than 20 inches of rain in southwest Louisiana since last week, early estimates are that flooding has destroyed $14 million worth of the state’s rice crop. That estimate remains “fully speculative,” however, as the full scope of damage will not become clear until the water recedes. Louisiana Agriculture Commissioner Mike Strain says “once the water recedes we’ll begin doing analysis” along with federal officials. The U.S. Rice Federation says about 80 percent of the southwest Louisiana crop had been harvested before the flooding, but of the 20 percent still in the field, 20 percent of that would likely be lost due to the flooding. None of the rice mills in the state have reported flood-related disruption.

SOURCE: NAFB News Service

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