READ the NAFB’s National Ag News for Tuesday, September 20th…

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EPA Says Glyphosate Likely Not Carcinogenic

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency released its long-awaited decision Friday on whether glyphosate is carcinogenic, as a World Health Organization division claims. The EPA announced the agency believes glyphosate is not likely carcinogenic to humans. Last year, the World Health Organization’s cancer arm, the International Agency for Research on Cancer, classified glyphosate as “probably carcinogenic to humans.” However, global opinions vary on the subject, according to Reuters. The European Food Safety Authority last November said glyphosate was “unlikely to pose a carcinogenic hazard to humans.” The EPA’s proposed position on glyphosate was outlined in a 227-page paper. The EPA said the agency expects to publish its final assessment of glyphosate in the spring of 2017.

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Ag Confidence Continues to Decline

The recent Ag Confidence Index compiled by DTN reached the lowest score recorded since the poll began. Known as the ACI, the August results from farmer surveys produced the lowest score, of 72 in the seven-year history of the index. One year ago, the ACI was a more neutral 98. The data reflects a 27 percent drop in confidence from last year. A poll organizer says the results indicate that “bad has become the new normal” for many farmers. The DTN Agriculture Confidence Index is based on surveys from 500 farmers who are asked a series of questions regarding their financial and business conditions. The survey is conducted before planting, before harvest and just before the end of the year. Results above a rating of 100 indicate optimism, while results below 100 indicate pessimism in confidence.

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Bayer-Monsanto Deal Could Offset European Regulations on Ag Biotech

The Wall Street Journal says the agreement between Bayer and Monsanto could be a step towards fighting back against strict agriculture biotech regulations in the European Union. That’s because Bayer has a more positive reputation than Monsanto among the European public, in part because Bayer is known for products beyond agrochemicals, such as pharmaceuticals. Many genetically modified crops are banned throughout Europe. The Wall Street Journal says the oversight has been driven by fierce public resistance in the EU to pesticides and other crop protection chemicals. The head of Bayer’s crop science division says overregulation is the “single biggest challenge” in the EU for crop protection companies. The regulatory environment and current crop prices helped to kick start consolidation efforts within the industry. Monsanto and Bayer announced the $66 billion takeover agreement last week.

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Egypt Ergot Restrictions Dampening Already Sour Wheat Trade

Global wheat prices are suffering from complicated quarantine rules by Egypt regarding the fungus ergot, effectively taking the world’s largest wheat importer out of the trade market. Facing decade -lows, global wheat prices have softened further thanks to a standstill in wheat sales to Egypt. The standstill occurred after Egypt announced last month the nation would hold a zero tolerance policy for any traces of the naturally occurring fungus ergot, despite internationally accepted standards which allow for levels of 0.05 percent. The Financial Times reports theories surrounding the reason behind the latest decision have ranged from the need to cancel contracts due to falling foreign reserves to infighting between government ministries. The official explanation from Egypt has been public safety and the potential spread of ergot due to climate change. Despite the uncertainty, trade analysts say Egypt is likely to return to the world wheat market after the nation’s domestic inventories dwindle.

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China Investing in Agriculture Modernization

China intends to invest the equivalent of $450 billion to modernize the nation’s agriculture sector. Politico reports the investment over the next four years is an effort to increase China’s agriculture industry’s efficiency and foster rural income growth. The Agricultural Development Bank of China said over the weekend that the bank had signed an agreement with China’s Ministry of Agriculture regarding the investment. The Ministry says the agreement will protect national food security, support the sector doing business overseas and develop China’s seed industry. However, as reported in China, it is not immediately clear whether this commitment is separate from the bank’s plan announced in May for poverty reduction in China via agricultural investments.

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Vilsack Announces New Initiatives to Address Rural Opioid Epidemic

Initiatives by the U.S. Department of Agriculture seek to combat the rural opioid epidemic. Announced Monday, two programs by USDA were formed to strengthen outreach and education resources at the local level to combat the epidemic. USDA says opioid addiction, including heroin and prescription drug misuse, is a fast-growing problem that played a role in more than 28,000 deaths in 2014. The opioid crisis disproportionately affects rural communities, according to USDA, due to the lack of outreach and treatment resources available in remote areas. Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack says “it’s clear that rural communities need our help.” Vilsack says he has directed local USDA teams to “step up” and expand resources and programs to battle the opioid epidemic.”  The announcement coincides with President Barack Obama’s designated Prescription Opioid and Heroin Epidemic Awareness Week from September 18th – 23rd.

SOURCE: NAFB News Service

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