READ the NAFB’s National Ag News for Thursday, September 8th…

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ChemChina Secures Funding to Acquire Syngenta

Bloomberg reports that the China National Chemical Corporation has commitments from lenders on a $12.7 billion loan package to help secure its purchase of Syngenta. ChemChina acquired the financing from 17 different banks all together. The agreement to buy Syngenta for $43 billion came earlier this year in a deal that would make it the largest supplier of pesticides and ag chemicals in the world. The funds coming together now puts the state-owned corporation one step closer to finishing up the country’s biggest acquisition ever outside of its borders. US national security officials approved the takeover deal last month but it’s still subject to an anti-trust review by regulators worldwide. ChemChina is planning to sell $10 billion in preferred shares to help fund the acquisition. They also intend to raise another $15 billion in cash, bringing the total equity contribution to $25 billion. ChemChina will borrow the rest of the financing it needs via a loan package.

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NFU: Bayer/Monsanto Deal Bad for Farmers

News stories that Bayer has increased its bid for Monsanto and that the two companies are continuing to negotiate prompted National Farmers Union President Roger Johnson to take action. He’s calling on the US Justice Department to act on the deal, saying a merger between the two companies would not be good for farmers. Johnson said, “A Bayer/Monsanto merger would be a continuation of a wave of mergers in the agricultural input sector. That wave includes the recently approved ChemChina deal to acquire Syngenta, as well as the proposed mergers between Dow and DuPont and Potash Corporation and Agrium.” He said NFU will continue to express concerns that mega deals like these are made to benefit those in the boardroom and not family farmers. Along those same lines, Johnson said, “We are pleased to see that the Justice Department filed an antitrust lawsuit to prevent a proposed merger between John Deere and Precision Planting. We urge them to continue to reject any deals, both now and in the future, that hurt marketplace competition.

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Massive Fire Closes Smithfield Plant in Illinois

Smithfield’s plant in Monmouth, Illinois, is closed for an undetermined amount of time after a massive fire on Monday night.  The fire hit the rendering area of the plant but no one was injured.  Most of the workers were off for the Labor Day holiday and a cleaning crew inside the building was safely evacuated.  A Smithfield spokesperson said further assessments will be made this week and they’ll get the plant back up and running as soon as possible.  Firefighters from up to a dozen departments in the area responded to the blaze.  The plant employs up to 1,500 workers that produce fresh pork products and ready to cook bacon.

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Atrazine Important for Conservation Farming

A recent report from the Environmental Protection Agency was highly critical of the herbicide atrazine, which helps reduce soil erosion and runoff problems, which keeps soil healthy and water clean. EPA released its draft ecological risk assessment as part of the re-registration process for atrazine and if its recommendations stand, farmers will basically lose the use of the herbicide Tillage is an effective way to control weeds but disturbing that top layer of soil leads to a loss of 90 percent of crop residue from the soil. Tillage damages the soil and leaves it more vulnerable to erosion from wind and water, which in turn leads to more runoff of fertilizer and pesticides. Atrazine was one of the first products to be used on a widespread basis because it’s a broad spectrum product. It reduced the number of times farmers had to drive over their soil and that decreased erosion and runoff problems. Iowa State University Professor of Weed Science Bob Hartzler said farmers have made significant progress adopting reduced till and no-till methods of growing a crop and atrazine plays a key role in making these practices more sustainable. The National Corn Growers wants farmers to comment on the EPA’s proposal at NCGA dot Com forward slash atz. 

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Women in Agriculture Trade Mission is Underway

Deputy Undersecretary for Farm and Foreign Agricultural Services Alexis Taylor is leading a trade delegation to Hong Kong and Shanghai through September 15. It’s part of an effort to extend USDA’s Women in Agriculture Initiative abroad as well as expanding export opportunities for U.S. food and agricultural products. Leaders from seven state agriculture departments as well as 23 U.S. agribusinesses and organizations are along on the trip as well. Taylor said the trade mission will be an opportunity to discuss the impact that women in China and America are having on agriculture and their visions for the future. The U.S. has strong trading relations with both China and Hong Kong. Last year, China was the number two export market for U.S. commodities and is expected to return to the top spot next year. In contrast to China, Hong Kong is more of an export market for consumer oriented products. With a population that’s over 7.2 million people packed into just over 400 square miles, Hong Kong imports more than 95 percent of its food supply. 

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Dairy Fighting for Immigration, TPP, and Child Nutrition

National Milk Producers’ Federation CEO and President Jim Mulhern is skeptical that Congress will be able to tackle immigration reform, child nutrition programs, or the Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement before or right after the elections in November. Politico’s Morning Agriculture report says lawmakers will be mostly focusing on funding the government. Mulhern said these three issues are policy priorities for the dairy producers and they’re focusing on them right now. When it comes to child nutrition, the dairy industry is hoping Congress will once again allow schools to offer flavored 1 percent milk. Currently, those offerings must be fat free and that’s led to lower consumption and overall student participation in the program.

SOURCE: NAFB News Service

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