READ the NAFB’s National Ag News for Wednesday, September 21st…

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Sponsored by the American Farm Bureau Federation

Farm Groups Cautious of Merger Trend

Farm groups are showing caution regarding the recent merger and acquisition trend in the agriculture industry, while companies included in the trend say innovation will benefit from the changes. At a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing Tuesday, lawmakers heard from top agriculture and commodity groups along with agribusiness leaders. During the hearing, the National Farmers Union asked for more oversight on what NFU President Roger Johnson called “failing antitrust enforcement” in Agriculture. Groups such as the National Corn Growers Association and the American Soybean Association indicated a desire to preserve competition, but add the mergers could allow for more agriculture biotech research. Agriculture industry companies at the hearing, including Monsanto and DuPont, say the mergers will allow for the expansion of innovation and choice for farmers. In calling the hearing, Committee chair, Republican Senator Chuck Grassley of Iowa, voiced concern that “further concentration in the industry will reduce choice and raise the price of chemicals and seed for farmers.” He warned that price increase would be ultimately passed on to the consumer.

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Farm Bureau: Senate Report Shows Federal Clean Water Act Overreach

The American Farm Bureau Federation says Tuesday’s Senate report on the Clean Water Act proves the need for the Senate to act against the Waters of the U.S. rule. Farm Bureau President Zippy Duvall says the case studies presented in the report reflect “the serious concerns” Farm Bureau has raised over the last two years. The Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works released the report this week that Farm Bureau says exposes “reckless and unlawful actions in enforcing the Clean Water Act.” Farm Bureau alleges the Environmental Protection Agency and the Army Corps of Engineers have unlawfully stretched the limited authority Congress gave the agencies. Specifically, AFBF says through the Clean Water Act, the federal agencies have regulated ordinary plowing, a normal farming activity exempted by Congress, and claimed authority to regulate tire ruts and puddles found on the farm. Duvall says the report shows the Senate should reconsider the measure to stop the Waters of the U.S. rule “at its earliest opportunity.”

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Vietnam Set to Delay TPP Vote on Heals of U.S. Election

Vietnam is set to delay ratifying the Trans-Pacific Partnership until next year, as anxiety is rising over the deal in the U.S. Congress and the anti-trade presidential campaigns. A top government official in Vietnam has suggested the National Assembly hold off on a vote on the 12-nation deal during the next session starting in mid-October because “many countries in the world haven’t approved it.” Other nations included in the deal have expressed concern regarding the outlook for TPP given the current political mood in the U.S. regarding trade ahead of the November elections. Bloomberg says Vietnam, while fully supportive of the deal, usually operates cautiously on the global stage. Meanwhile, Australia has not specified when it will put the TPP before its own parliament, though Japan’s ruling party has indicated it plans to pass the agreement in a parliamentary session starting next week.

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Canada Investigating PEDv Outbreak in Manitoba

Officials in Canada are investigating the possible source of porcine epidemic diarrhea virus confirmed at a Manitoba farm last week. Canada’s government is concerned trucks might carry the virus between the U.S. and Canada and inadvertently spread the illness, according to Meatingplace. Manitoba is working to establish a quarantine zone following the confirmation of PEDv last week. The province previously reported nine confirmed outbreaks of PEDv on Manitoba farms since 2014 and six of those are now considered “PEDv Presumptive Negative.” Manitoba’s Chief Veterinary Office is helping pork producers to boost biosecurity measures as follow-up programs are launched on 220 hog operations in the province. The Canadian Food Inspection Agency is also conducting its own investigation to determine the movements of the animals with PEDv and completing its own sampling and testing. PEDv killed some eight million piglets on U.S. farms in 2014 and Manitoba is a major exporter of piglets to the United States.

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Organic Acreage Increase Misleading

USDA numbers show organic production acreage is up 20 percent, but the vast majority of the bump comes from four farms in Alaska. Politico reports 700,000 acres in Alaska account for 96 percent of the increase. In 2014, Alaska had just 376 certified organic acres spread between 17 farms; but the following year, 695,000 some acres were certified at four farms. The Organic Trade Association says the new acres stem from a single rangeland certification. While OTA is supportive of all new players in the industry, the Association says the 2015 increase “does not reflect a significant increase in crop acres,” Bering Pacific Ranches received the Alaska certification last year for a range that is home to roughly 6,000 head of cattle.

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EPA Awards $4.8 million to Research Water Quality Benefits

The Environmental Protection Agency Tuesday awarded $4.8 million to six universities to study the benefits of water quality. The funding is available for the universities to work with local communities to better understand the economic value of water quality. Thomas Burke of the EPA’s Research and Development office says the grants will “help measure the costs and benefits of improving water quality.” In a news release, the EPA says chemical and microbial contaminants continue to reduce the quality of water – and often at a rate that outpaces water quality improvements from regulatory actions. The grants were awarded to Clark University of Massachusetts, Ney Jersey’s Dartmouth College, The University of Connecticut, North Carolina State University, Michigan State University and Iowa State University.

SOURCE: NAFB News Service

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