READ the NAFB’s National Ag News for Thursday, September 1st…

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USDA Sharply Revises Farm Income Forecasts

The Department of Agriculture this week changed its forecast for 2016 net cash farm income to $94.1 billion, up from its initial projection of $90.9 billion in February. While USDA increased the estimate, net cash farm income remains 13.3 percent lower compared to 2015. The net farm income forecast for 2016 in February was revised up to $71.5 billion from $54.8 billion but still down 11.5 percent from last year. Pro Farmer reports that for the second year in a row, USDA noted production expenses were down in 2016. Net farm income for 2015 was revised up significantly to $80.7 billion, an increase of 43 percent from the numbers released in February. Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack said the forecast highlights the ability of farmers to “plan ahead and make sharp business decisions in a challenging market.”

Little-Known Corn Disease Found in Nine States

Researchers are working to learn more about a little-known corn disease that has surfaced in nine states across the U.S. this summer. DTN reports the disease is known for now as bacterial leaf streak blight, which originated in South Africa. Colorado State University says there is limited information about the disease and its impacts on corn production. It’s possible the disease entered the U.S. two years ago as researchers say the lack of information led to a delay in confirming the disease. Currently, researchers have no recommendations for farmers regarding management. Bacterial leaf streak has surfaced in field corn, seed corn, popcorn and sweet corn. Researchers say the disease has been confirmed in Colorado, Iowa, Illinois, Kansas, Minnesota, Nebraska, Oklahoma, South Dakota and Texas.

Buyers from China Commit to $1.8 Billion of U.S. Soy

Buyers from China have committed to buy nearly $1.8 billion worth of U.S. soy products, totaling 146 million bushels of U.S. soybeans. The U.S. Soybean Export Council announced the commitments this week. The Council held a signing ceremony at the Global Trade Exchange in Indianapolis, Indiana. China continues to be the top buyer of U.S. soybeans. More than a dozen Chinese representatives are in attendance this week at the Global Trade Exchange to network with U.S. farmers and learn more about U.S. soy products. Last year, U.S. soybean farmers exported a record 62.8 million metric tons of soy products, valued at a record high $27.7 billion. Economists are predicting even more in 2016.

DOJ Seeks to Stop Deere from Purchasing Monsanto’s Precision Planting Division

The U.S. Justice Department filed a lawsuit Wednesday seeking to stop Deere & Company from buying Monsanto’s Precision Planting farm equipment business. The Justice Department said the proposed deal would mean higher prices for farmers who want to buy equipment for high-speed precision planting, according to Reuters. In a statement, Deere announced the company would fight the lawsuit, calling the antitrust concerns “misguided.” Monsanto announced last year it would sell its Precision Planting unit to Deere, which makes the components of precision planters. The Justice Department said by offering farmers high-speed precision planting retrofit kits at a fraction of the cost of a new planter, “Precision Planting posed a formidable challenge to Deere and its profitable sales of new planters.” The deal is estimated to be worth $190 million.

Agrium in Merger Talks with Potash Corp.

Canada fertilizer companies Agrium and Potash Corp. confirmed the two are in preliminary merger talks. The Wall Street Journal reports the talks come as the industry contends with slumping earnings amid persistently low prices for crop nutrients. While no decision has been made, any potential deal would create a company with a total market value of more than $28 million. Those close to the talks say a deal could be struck next week. A merger would help Potash, the world’s largest fertilizer producer by capacity, protect its earnings against volatile moves in crop nutrient prices by giving it access to Agrium’s steady retail business. For Agrium, a deal would expand its product lines of potash and other fertilizer ingredients.

Police Investigating Theft of 500 Cows in New Zealand

Authorities in New Zealand are investigating what is believed to be the nation’s largest cattle theft in history. As many as 500 cows were stolen from a New Zealand dairy farm near the town of Ashburton. The 500 milking cows were reportedly taken from the herd of 1,300 head between early July and late August, according to online-based news website The Guardian. The farmer who owns the herd posted a plea for information on Facebook this week, but apparently was too embarrassed to talk to the media about what happened. A spokesperson for New Zealand’s Federated Farmers Dairy Industry Group says the cattle were likely butchered somewhere for illegal meat sales. The cattle were worth an estimated equivalent of $725,000, or one million New Zealand dollars.

SOURCE: NAFB News Service