READ the NAFB’s National Ag News for Wednesday, August 31st…

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Falling Food Prices Hurt Farm Belt

The U.S. is on pace to continue the longest stretch of falling food prices in over 50 years. While the lower prices are a boon to shoppers, it’s putting serious pressure on the farm economy. The Wall Street Journal says reasons behind the lower prices start with excess production in several ag sectors, including dairy, meats, grains, and other staples. The trend is also being fueled by lower overseas demand from China and elsewhere due to a stronger dollar. Around the country, the price for a gallon of milk fell 11 percent from last year to $3.06 in July. The price for a dozen eggs fell 40 percent to $1.55 in the same period. As farmers get less money for products like raw milk, cheese, and cattle, they’re slashing spending. In turn, that creates a ripple effect to companies like John Deere, who are cutting production due to the farming slump. Economists feels the price slump could last at least through the end of the year. The current food price slump could beat the nine months of declines seen back in 2009-2010. Incidentally, the falling price of food is taking its toll on the nation’s grocery stores, which have thin profit margins to begin with.


Farm Futures Releases 2017 Planting Intentions

Farm Futures recently completed its first producer survey of planting intentions for 2017. Farm Futures expects producers to boost soybean plantings because of strong demand and hedging opportunities on this year’s crop. Growers said they’re considering 84.4 million acres of soybeans for next year, which is one percent higher than this year’s plantings. Lower prices for corn may cause farmers to cut corn planting back next year to 93.1 million acres. That number is down one percent from this year. Wheat seedings will likely drop for the fourth consecutive year thanks to low prices. Producers told Farm Futures they would plant 49.1 million acres next year, a 3.4 percent drop, and that total would be the lowest since 1970. In addition to soybeans, the two other crops that could pull acres away from corn are cotton and sorghum. Plantings for both crops are expected to be around one percent higher next year.


California Sends Farm Worker Overtime Bill to Governor

California would become the first state in the nation to require farmers to pay overtime to farm workers under a bill that the legislature approved on Monday. Reuters said the bill now goes to Democratic Governor Jerry Brown for his approval. The bill was passed along party lines and would phase in the overtime pay rules between 2019-2022. Smaller farms that employ 25 workers or less would have three additional years to phase in the overtime pay. If the bill is signed into law, California would become the first state to require farmers to pay overtime to laborers that work more than eight hours a day or 40 hours per week. California is the largest agricultural producer in the country and opponents of the bill said it will do damage to the agricultural economy. They predict that farmers would be forced to cut work weeks to 40 hours to avoid paying time and a half or double time wages to their laborers. Supporters say the issue is about fairness because farm laborers are one of the few hourly wage groups that aren’t paid overtime. The Governor hasn’t said if he will sign the bill.    


Trump Giving Major Immigration Speech in Arizona

Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump says he will give a major speech on immigration Wednesday (today) in Arizona. The Hagstrom Report says Trump appears to be softening his stance against illegal immigration, wavering somewhat on his proposal to deport all people in the U.S. without the right papers. The softening stance on illegal immigration appears to have pleased some supporters but angered others. At a weekend campaign stop in Des Moines, Iowa, Trump said Democratic Presidential candidate Hillary Clinton would conduct a “war on farmers.” Trump said his alternative to Clinton’s policies would be to reduce regulations across the board. He also recently restated his support for the Renewable Fuels Standard, a position that Clinton has taken as well. A New York Times article said Republicans in Iowa appear to be more united in support of Trump than in other traditionally Republican states.


Low Wheat Price Support Needed in New Farm Bill

Wheat prices have tumbled to the lowest point they’ve been at in the last decade, thanks in part to a successful harvest in the U.S. and strong harvest prospects overseas. Low wheat prices are causing a dilemma for elevator operators that have too much wheat and not enough storage. The ag economy struggles are exacerbated by threats to cut vital programs in the upcoming Farm Bill debate. The National Association of Wheat Growers is conducting a Farm Bill survey of its producers to find out which policies are the most vital to their success. The overall goal is to help develop a successful and functional Farm Bill in 2018. The Wheat Growers say it’s more important than ever that producer priorities are listened to as agriculture works toward an effective Farm Bill, which maintains the safety net as well as other vital programs. The National Association of Wheat Growers wants to encourage producers to fill out the survey and contribute to the successful planning of the next Farm Bill. The survey is on the Wheat Grower’s website at wheat world dot org.


Japan to Resume Importing U.S. Wheat

Earlier this month, Japan halted imports of western white and feed wheat from the pacific coast ports after unapproved genetically modified crops were found in an unplanted field in Washington state.  Imports from the U.S. Gulf Coast were allowed to continue. Pro Farmer’s First Thing Today reports that Japan announced this week they’ll resume purchases of western white wheat this Thursday.  Imports were allowed to resume after Japan established a system to test for GMO grains and keep contaminated supplies from getting into the country.  Japan’s ag ministry also announced they’ll resume purchases of U.S. feed wheat too.  Japan is the second biggest buyer of wheat in Asia. The U.S. is the largest wheat supplier to Japan, representing roughly 60 percent of Japan’s wheat imports.

SOURCE: NAFB News Service