READ the NAFB’s National Ag News for Friday, September 30th

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Farm Economy Slumping into Fourth Quarter 2016

A report this week by the Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City shows the farm economy slumping into the fourth quarter of the year. The bank says the U.S. farm economy weakened further in the third quarter despite an upward revision to farm income projections by the Department of Agriculture. Following a brief rebound in crop prices in the second quarter, the bank says profit margins for crop producers deteriorated in August and September. Profit margins also remained poor in the cattle and dairy sectors. Agricultural credit conditions have weakened further as loan repayment problems have picked up steadily, and bankers in the Midwest have expressed increasing concerns about the softening farm economy spilling over to Main Street business activity in rural areas.


NCGA Applauds WRDA House Passage

The National Corn Growers Association applauded House passage of the Water Resources and Development Act by the U.S. House this week. NCGA First Vice President Wesley Spurlock says the Act will play a “vital role in moving corn to export markets.” NCGA notes that a main focus of the WRDA 2016 bill is clearing the backlog of projects managed by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. It also provides more than $10 billion in funding to the Army Corps to develop, maintain and support the nation’s port and waterways infrastructures. The next step for WRDA is a conference of the House and Senate bills, with a potential final bill ready to be signed by the President by the end of the year.


NCBA Joins Calls for Withdrawal of Proposed Estate Tax Regulations

The National Cattlemen’s Beef Association and others are asking the Treasury Department to withdraw the newly proposed estate tax regulations. NCBA joined more than 3,800 organizations in a letter sent to Treasury Secretary Jacob Lew opposing the proposal. NCBA says the proposed regulations would permanently change estate planning for families that own a controlling interest in a privately-held entity. NCBA says the regulations would eliminate or greatly reduce available valuation discounts for family-related entities, which in turn would increase the tax on inheritance, such as farms. Government affairs director for NCBA, Danielle Beck, says “the Administration is causing unnecessary economic harm to family businesses,” that is because producers are often forced into selling land or cattle to pay the tax, and in some cases, are put out of business.

China Wants GMOs, Citizens Don’t

A new report says China wants to incorporate the use of genetically modified organisms in agriculture, but the Chinese people do not. And Bloomberg says the latest food safety scandal in China might be its most damaging scandal yet. A former doctoral student at a national testing center in China accused the testing center of scientific fraud, including claims that records were doctored extensively, among other things. China’s Ministry of Agriculture responded by suspending operations at the center. That’s just the latest in a series of scandals that is not dampening China’s public hostility towards GMOs. Opponents claim GMOs are unsafe, but that goes against the scientific consensus within and outside of China. Bloomberg suggests that until China’s government addresses the lack of confidence in its food safety programs, it’s likely to face considerable and growing opposition to a GMO program. While farmers in China do not use GM crops, the nation does, however, allow imports of GM crops to enter the country.

FDA Allows Peanuts to be called “Healthy”

The Food and Drug Administration is now allowing peanuts to be called “healthy.” FDA announced this week the Administration is beginning the public process to redefine the “healthy” nutrient content claim for food labeling. In the interim, FDA has issued guidelines that allow the industry to refer to peanuts as healthy, due to their high levels of unsaturated fat and overall beneficial nutrient profile. A dietitian with the National Peanut Board said following the FDA announcement “it’s exciting to be able to clearly tell the public that peanuts are indeed a healthy food.” The comment period for the use of the term “healthy” in the labeling of food products is open until January 26th of next year.

USDA Announces Support for Minority and Veteran Farmers and Ranchers

Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack Thursday announced $8.4 million in grants to support minority and veteran farmers and ranchers. The Department of Agriculture says the funds will be used by organizations in 24 states to provide training, outreach and technical assistance for socially disadvantaged, tribal and veteran farmers and ranchers. Vilsack says the grants will “help bring traditionally underserved people into farming,” along with veterans returning to rural areas. The funding comes from USDA’s Outreach and Assistance for Socially Disadvantaged and Veteran Farmers and Ranchers Program. Since 2010, more than $83.8 million has been invested through the program to help minority and veteran farmers and ranchers. Find a list of the funded organizations online at USDA dot gov (

SOURCE: NAFB News Service