READ the NAFB’s National Ag News for Thursday, September 22nd…

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Sponsored by the American Farm Bureau Federation

Farmers Urging Congress to Swiftly Move on TPP Agreement

Through groups like the National Corn Growers Association and the American Farm Bureau, thousands of farmers are asking Congress to approve the Trans-Pacific Partnership trade agreement quickly. NCGA says more than 6,000 farmers have written letters to Congress members urging passage of the agreement this year. NCGA is delivering those letters to lawmakers this week. Meanwhile, Farm Bureau joined the National Association of Manufactures and others Wednesday in a letter to Congress asking lawmakers the same. The Farm Bureau letter told lawmakers “the status quo is not acceptable,” in calling for passage. NCGA President Chip Bowling stated to Congress: “Pass TPP and give America’s farmers and ranchers a chance to compete for the world’s business.” The Trans-Pacific Partnership trade agreement represents 40 percent of the global economy and one of the fastest-growing regions in the world. President Barack Obama signed the TPP agreement earlier this year, but it now must be approved by Congress.


EU, Canada, Working to Overcome Trade Deal Doubts

The European Union and Canada are working to overcome doubts of other nations included in an EU-Canada free trade deal. The EU and Canada Wednesday announced a declaration spelling out the limits of the Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement, to ease other EU nations, such as Austria, according to Reuters. Trade officials from Canada say the legally binding declaration on key issues would add no new elements to the deal, which Austria’s chancellor opposes in its current form. The trade agreement has been a key target of protests by unions and environmental groups who say it will worsen labor conditions and allow big business to challenge governments across Europe. The EU is expected to vote on the deal October 18th before a planned signing at an EU-Canada summit later in the month.


FSIS Updates Procedure Allowing Organic Meats Non-GMO Label

The Department of Agriculture has released a new procedure allowing certified organic meat and poultry producers to obtain approval of non-GMO label claims, based on the products organic certification. Announced by USDA’s Food Safety and Inspection Service, the change was made because of the newly passed National Bioengineered Food Disclosure Act, or GMO labeling bill. The Act states organic certification is enough information to make claims about the absence of bioengineered ingredients. Meatingplace reports USDA’s organic regulations already require certified operations to obtain approval for labels that use the term “organic” or display the USDA organic seal. Now, a certified organic meat or poultry processor can modify or add a label claim to a previously approved label under the update. However, non-GMO label claims must be carefully worded so they do not confuse or mislead consumers, according to USDA.

FSW Proposes Endangered Species Act Protections for Bumble Bee Species

The federal Fish and Wildlife Service is proposing to list rusty patch bumble bees under the Endangered Species Act because of declining populations. Agri-Pulse reports the proposed rule was scheduled to be published in the Federal Register Thursday. Petitions to the Fish and Wildlife Service say the bumble bee “is not only an important pollinator of prairie wildflowers but also of cranberries, blueberries, apples, alfalfa and numerous other crops.” The Fish and Wildlife Service says the number of rust patch bumble bee populations has declined by 91 percent. The proposal lists stressors to bumble bees as pathogens, pesticides, habitat loss and climate change. The Service points specifically to neonicotinoids use in agriculture that correlates with the decline in populations. The proposal starts a 60-day comment period and a final decision is expected in September of next year.

Canada Producers Share Agribusiness Merger Fears

Farm groups in Canada are voicing concerns over the latest flurry of merger and acquisitions within the agribusiness industry. Just a day after a U.S. Senate committee held a hearing on the topic, the Calgary Herald reports farm groups in Canada have similar thoughts as U.S. farm groups. Bayer AG was the latest to join the trend in its announcement last week that Bayer would purchase Monsanto for $66 billion. Farm groups in Canada are in the process of gathering comments from farmers on mergers, including the Agrium-PotashCorp deal. That merger would create the world’s largest fertilizer company. A spokesperson for the Alberta Wheat Commission said “we aren’t opposed to mergers in general,” but says too much concentration of ownership could lead to less healthy competition. Canola-based associations have already voiced concerns over the Bayer-Monsanto deal, as the two companies currently control more than 90 percent of the herbicide-tolerant canola trait business. The Alberta Canola Producers Commission says farmers are concerned with potential input cost increases and that a merger may diminish the incentive for future innovation.

USDA Designations Offer Natural Disaster Assistance for Louisiana Farmers

The Department of Agriculture announced Wednesday the designation of primary natural disaster area’s for 11 Louisiana parishes due to losses caused by historic flooding last month. USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack announced the designation in a statement, adding USDA stands with Louisiana farmers in their recovery efforts. 12 other parishes in Louisiana are eligible for assistance, because USDA designated their counties as contiguous, along with two counties in Texas. The designation means all qualified farm operators in the designated areas are eligible for low-interest emergency loans from USDA’s Farm Service Agency. Farmers in eligible parishes and counties have eight months from the date of the declaration to apply for loans to help cover part of their actual losses. USDA advises farmers in the area to contact their local FSA office to learn more.

SOURCE: NAFB News Service