READ the NAFB’s National Ag News for Friday, September 23rd

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China Will Lift Ban on U.S. Beef

Following a 13-year ban on U.S. beef exports to China, the Chinese Government indicates the nation will begin accepting U.S. beef from animals less than 30 months of age. The National Cattlemen’s Beef Association calls the indication a tremendous opportunity for U.S. cattle producers. The U.S. Meat Export Federation called the announcement a “welcome first step” in restarting beef exports to China. The U.S. Department of Agriculture now must work with China’s Administration of Quality Supervision, Inspection and Quarantine to approve the certificates and protocols for exports. NCBA spokesperson Kent Bacus says the announcement is welcome news and “further highlights the benefits of trade in the Pacific.” He says the opened beef trade to China will expand further with passage of the Trans-Pacific Partnership trade deal, which was signed by the President and awaits Congressional approval.


Germany Signaling Opposition to Bayer-Monsanto Deal

Lawmakers in Germany are calling on regulators to curb Bayer Ag’s $66 billion proposed takeover of U.S. based Monsanto. Pro Farmer’s First Thing Today reports a parliamentary session in Germany highlighted the backlash to Bayer’s proposed buy of Monsanto. Debate this week in the lower house of parliament, called by the Germany’s opposition Green Party, showed deep resistance to Bayer buying a U.S. company that many Germans view as a champion of genetically modified crops. Eight of the 12 lawmakers who spoke, including those from within Chancellor Angela Merkel’s coalition, cast doubt on the acquisition. One lawmaker said “more than 70 percent of Germans say they don’t want genetically modified food on their plates, but that’s exactly part of the strategy of this merger.” However, lawmakers in Germany have no legislative authority to stop the deal. Buying Monsanto would give Bayer, about 35 percent of the global market for seeds and farm chemicals.

Clinton in Favor of WOTUS, Trump Against

The Presidential candidates are split when it comes to the Environmental Protection Agency’s Waters of the U.S. rule. This week, Democratic candidate Hilary Clinton told Farm Futures she supports the rule that seeks to clarify the types of water the EPA can regulate under the Clean Water Act. Clinton says she would work with all parties to ensure “common sense implementation.” She also said she was pleased that EPA maintained in WOTUS the “long-standing exemptions for common farming practices.” Farm groups, however, tend to disagree and claim the EPA is ignoring the exemption. A target for agriculture, WOTUS is currently under a court-ordered stay. 13 agriculture groups are involved in a lawsuit against the rule.  Republican candidate for President Donald Trump says he would scuttle WOTUS. In a statement to the American Farm Bureau Federation this week, Politico reports Trump called the rule” so extreme that it gives federal agencies control over creeks, small streams, and even puddles.” Farm Bureau used a Senate report on the Clean Water Act this week to call on Congress to act on the rule.

Egypt Ergot Policy Saga Continues

The back and forth policy over ergot fungus contamination by Egypt continued this week, as Reuters says the nation has reversed its on-again-off-again zero tolerance policy in wheat imports. The international standard accepted level of contamination is .05 percent. The move represents a backtracking effort by Egypt, the world largest wheat importer. The policy effectively blocked access by Egypt to global wheat trade, as suppliers boycotted the policy. Wheat suppliers say zero contamination is “impossible to guarantee.” Ergot can cause hallucinations when consumed in large amounts but is considered harmless in low quantities. The government said it was reinstating a 0.05 percent tolerance level for ergot and was applying it to both outstanding and future wheat contracts. Russia, a top supplier of wheat to Egypt, banned Egyptian fruit and vegetable imports shortly after one of its cargoes destined for Egypt was rejected. A delegation from Egypt is expected to arrive in Russia next week to discuss the standoff.


Greenpeace Co-founder Changes Stance on Biotech

Co-founder of Greenpeace, Patrick Moore, is now a supporter of biotechnology. The change represents an about-face move by the environmental leader regarding biotech, something the organization has opposed for years. Moore was the keynote speaker at this week’s Manitoba Special Crops Symposium in Canada. Moore served nine years as President of Greenpeace Canada, and seven years as a director of Greenpeace International. As the leader of many campaigns, Moore was a driving force shaping policy and direction while Greenpeace became the world’s largest environmental activist organization. When asked about genetically modified crops, he called the them “one of the most important scientific advancements society has made.” Moore expressed concern over Greenpeace attempts to block genetically modified crops. Referring to Golden Rice, he called the efforts by Greenpeace a “crime against humanity.”

Seaweed Could Reduce Pork Antibiotics Use

Researchers overseas say seaweed may help pork producers improve their animal’s health and reduce the need for antibiotics. The researchers at Irelands University College in Dublin report feeding seaweed to sows may improve piglet health, according to Meatingplace. A professor at the college says seaweed contains many properties which are beneficial to animal health, including vitamins, minerals and fatty acids. Seaweed extract also contains a glucose that improves the gut structure of piglets, which researchers say helps reduce both the risk of scouring during weaning. Researchers say seaweed also has “a lot of plus points for sustainable pig production.” The University says seaweed extracts for pork production could be available to farmers within the next year.

SOURCE: NAFB News Service