READ the NAFB’s National Ag News for Thursday, August 25th…

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Sponsored by the American Farm Bureau Federation

Federal Ag Spending to Increase Through 2018

Spending on farm programs by the U.S. Department of Agriculture is projected to increase $1 billion this year, according to the Congressional Budget Office. The CBO this week projected spending on farm programs to rise from $13 billion in 2015 to $14 billion in 2016, and then to $19 billion in 2017 and 2018. CBO projects farm program spending to then go back down to $16 billion in 2019 and down again to $15 billion per year until 2026. At the same time, payments under the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, also known as SNAP or food stamps, would decline continually, then rise slightly, presumably due to population growth, according to the Hagstrom Report. CBO did not say why the office projects agriculture spending would go up, but the increase likely stems from payments triggered by low commodity prices.

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Farm, Dairy Groups Praise USDA Surplus Cheese Purchases

Agriculture groups and the dairy industry are praising the Agriculture Department’s announcement to reduce surplus cheese stocks in the U.S., a move requested by the American Farm Bureau and others. USDA this week announced it would purchase approximately 11 million pounds of cheese from private inventories and donate the product to food banks and pantries across the nation. The purchase, valued at $20 million, should reduce some downward pressure on dairy markets as dairy producer’s revenues have dropped 35 percent over the past two years. Farm Bureau President Zippy Duvall says the announcement will “help alleviate the tough realities of the market and keep family farmers in business.” Farm Bureau and the National Milk Producers Federation had asked USDA to spend more than $20 million on the purchases, but USDA cited budget restraints, limiting the purchase amount. Vilsack also further extended the signup period for the dairy industry safety net—the Margin Protection Program—through December 16th.

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Environmental Groups Hamper Endangered Species Conservation

Environmental groups are hampering species recovery under the Endangered Species Act, according to the Public Lands Council and National Cattlemen’s Beef Association. Tuesday, the Center for Biological Diversity threatened to sue the Department of Interior and Fish and Wildlife Service to force action on 417 proposed listings under the Endangered Species Act. NCBA and the Public Lands Council say the move stems from a massive lawsuit settlement brokered behind closed doors and without stakeholders at the table. The groups, in a joint statement, say “this is precisely why the Endangered Species Act is broken.” The environmental groups, according to PLC executive director Ethan Lane, hamper species recovery by placing arbitrary listing-decision deadlines that leave no time for sound research or science-based decisions. During the nearly 40 years since the ESA was passed, the Act has a recovery rate of less than two percent and has more than 2,000 domestic species listed.

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Schneider Electric SE Mulling Sale of DTN

Bloomberg reports power-equipment maker Schneider Electric SE is weighing a sale of agriculture news and data service DTN. The price tag could be an estimated $1.5 billion, according to sources familiar with the matter. Schneider, with a market value of more than $40 billion, is a French multinational corporation specializing in electricity distribution. Schneider, lik many energy-focused companies, is weathering lower demand stemming from decreased oil and gas prices. Sources tell Bloomberg Schneider does not consider DTN a “core operation,” despite being a solid, profitable business. DTN would likely attract interest from both information and technology companies as well as private equity firms, and Schneider could decide whether to auction off the unit as soon as next month, according to the report.

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Monsanto Pulls GM Cottonseed Application in India

Monsanto has pulled its application for approval for its next generation of genetically modified cotton seed in India. The St Louis Post-Dispatch calls the move a “major escalation in a long-running dispute” between India and Monsanto. A business partner from India for the St Louis, Missouri-based Monsanto recently sent a letter to India’s government objecting a proposal to force Monsanto to share its technology with local seed companies. The company is also at odds with India over how much it can charge for its genetically modified cotton seed, costing Monsanto tens of millions of dollars in lost revenue every year. Pulling the application could set back Monsanto’s efforts to introduce its new seed, called Bollgard II Roundup Ready Flex technology. It could also hurt India’s cotton farmers as the new seed variety helps fight against weeds.

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Canada Testing PEDv Vaccine

Testing is underway in Canada for a vaccine to protect pigs from Porcine Epidemic Diarrhea Virus, or PEDv. While U.S. made vaccines are available in Canada, the vaccines are only recommended for use if there is an outbreak. The vaccine being tested in Canada is aimed at preventing the disease altogether, according to the University of Saskatchewan’s Vaccine and Infectious Disease Organization. The University’s prototype vaccine, first announced last year, recently moved into field testing. The PED virus is in the coronavirus group, which includes human diseases such as SARS and MERS, and produces mortality rates of up to 100 percent in infected herds of piglets. Over eight million pigs in North America have died from PED since the disease first appeared in the U.S. in 2013 and Canada in 2014.

SOURCE: NAFB News Service

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