READ the NAFB’s National Ag News for Tuesday, September 13th…

CLICK HERE to listen to TODAY's BARN Morning Ag News with Brian Allmer...

CLICK HERE to listen to TODAY’s BARN Morning Ag News with Brian Allmer…

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EPA Violated Personal Privacy of Farmers and Ranchers

The Environment Protection Agency violated the personal privacy rights of thousands of farmers and ranchers. That unanimous ruling came from the United States Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals on Monday. The ruling concerns the EPA’s decision in 2013 to release to three environmental groups a large number of spreadsheets containing personal information of farmers and ranchers that raise poultry and livestock in 29 states. The American Farm Bureau Federation and the National Pork Producers Council vs. the EPA case also involved producer information in seven states that hadn’t been released yet.  The EPA said it was required to release the information under the Freedom of Information Act. The information released included the names of farmers, ranchers, sometimes other family members, home addresses, GPS coordinates, telephone numbers, and email addresses. “This was an unwarranted invasion of personal privacy by a federal agency in violation of the law,” said AFBF General Counsel Ellen Steen. “EPA has to recall all of the information from FOIA requestors, but the groups have had the information for three years and most feel the damage has already been done.”

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Four States Offer Ideas for Ag Economy

Agricultural leaders from Kansas, Missouri, Nebraska, and Iowa met recently in St. Joseph, Missouri, with each state reporting on findings from surveys of farmers and experts in the financial industry. A list of recommendations to improve the ag economy would then be forwarded to policy makers. Some of the common themes included the importance of international trade, supporting younger producers’ desire to return to the farm, and helping producers recognize where their break-even points are. News Press Now dot Com said lower commodity prices are pressuring both producers and their lenders. One Extension expert said lenders are watching their clients closely and operating loans are becoming harder to acquire. For example, cattle producers in Missouri and Kansas are having a hard time finding operating capital. A general consensus of recommendations to be passed on to the U.S. Department of Agriculture included the need for states to continue to work together, saying it’s important to do so because the current economic situation is projected by some to last all the way to 2020. There is also a need for states to work together to find common farm bill policies. Missouri Department of Agriculture Director Richard Fordyce, who hosted the event, said the farm economy will face another two years of down prices, adding “It’s not as easy to tighten belts as it was 20 years ago.”

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WTO Looking Into Dairy and Cheese Policies

World Trade Organization officials will be busy this week, asking several members about their pricing policies during the two-day meeting of the WTO Committee on Agriculture. Pro Farmer’s First Thing Today says dairy and cheese programs will be one of the bigger topics of conversation as negotiators ask Canada about changes to its proposed national pricing policy for dairy products. The negotiators will also be asking the U.S. Department of Agriculture about its plan to purchase domestic cheese from American dairy producers. A document circulating ahead of the meeting on September 14 and 15 said several countries have asked Canada in recent days to explain whether or not it’s planning on introducing a new milk classification category.

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U.S. Cattlemen’s Convention Discusses Industry Challenges

About 200 cattle ranchers were in Billings, Montana, last weekend to take part in the U.S. Cattlemen’s Convention regarding the challenges plaguing the industry. The industry is beset by a price collapse that began in 2015. Politico’s Morning Ag Report says Jess Peterson is the group’s Vice President, who said they’ll be re-doubling their efforts to bring about changes to beef price reporting. Two speakers in the main panel raised serious concerns about the Chicago Mercantile Exchange and meat packers. Tennesse-based commodity trader Dow McVean said the CME rigs the futures contracts to benefit large investors at the expense of cattle producers. A markets expert and lobbyist for the alternative stock exchange IEX said packers are too powerful and could be, “trading against you in the marketplace. The North American Meat Institute represents meat packers and said the accusation are wildly inaccurate, saying time and time again the markets have been examined and the packers have never been found guilty of price manipulation. A top CME official recently told the Wall Street Journal that “Every aspect of the cattle futures contract is under review to see if there’s a way to redesign it to be more of an effective risk-management tool.”

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Bayer and Monsanto Boards to Meet Soon

Bayer and Monsanto appear to be getting closer to a deal as negotiations seem to be in the final stretch. An agreement between the two companies would allow them to merge into the world’s biggest seed and pesticide maker. Bloomberg reports that people familiar with the matter say a deal could be reached as early as next week. The Bayer supervisory board is scheduled to meet this week to discuss the deal and Monsanto’s board will meet next week. Bayer announced “advanced negotiations” this week and a higher offer to Monsanto of $127.50 per share, roughly $65 billion, which is 18 percent above Monsanto’s closing price last week. People familiar with the deal who asked not to be indentified say that Monsanto wants a price closer to $130 per share. They’re also said to be discussing the fee that Bayer would pay Monsanto if the deal doesn’t get approval from regulators.

SOURCE: NAFB News Service

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