READ the NAFB’s National Ag News for Wednesday, October 5th…

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USDA Issues Payments in Response to 2015 Markets

The Department of Agriculture Tuesday announced payments to farmers enrolled in safety-net programs due to market downturns during the 2015 crop year. USDA says many of the 1.7 million farms enrolled in either the Agriculture Risk Coverage or Price Loss Coverage programs will receive payments. USDA will issue more than $7 billion in payments, which USDA says is more than 10 percent of the projected 2016 net farm income. Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack says the payments will “provide reassurance” to farmers “who are standing strong against low commodity prices.” Unlike the old direct payment program, which issued payments during both weak and strong market conditions, the 2014 Farm Bill authorized the ARC-PLC safety net to trigger and provide financial assistance only when decreases in revenues or crop prices, respectively, occur.


Ag Economy Barometer Shows Slight Improvement

The Purdue University-CME Group Ag Economy Barometer recorded a slight improvement last month, compared to the August reading. Organizers of the survey say the Ag Economy Barometer was at 101 in September. While the reading was moderately above the August value of 95, the barometer’s current reading remains well below its peak of 112 in July. The Barometer surveys 400 agricultural producers monthly. A rating below 100 is negative, while a rating above 100 indicates positive sentiment regarding the agriculture industry. Organizers say the data shows producers are pessimistic about current conditions in agriculture but continue to express some optimism regarding future economic prospects. The report says over the next year, farmers are a bit more optimistic about the future direction of prices for livestock and livestock products, especially beef cattle and milk, than at any time in the last year.


2015 Co-op Net Income Sets Record

Net income for the nation’s agricultural cooperatives increased 14 percent last year, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture. The annual report on cooperative business sales by USDA shows farmer, rancher and fishery cooperatives posted a record net income of $7 billion in 2015. Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack says the report shows “the cooperative business model continues to perform strongly.” The report lists the top 100 performing co-ops in the nation. Again, this year’s list shows that Iowa is home to more Top 100 co-ops than any other state, with 15. Iowa is followed by Minnesota with 11 and Nebraska with nine. California and Illinois each have six, while Wisconsin has five. USDA indicated that total business volume fell for the Top 100 cooperatives, from $177 billion in 2014 to $149 billion in 2015. However, net income rose from $4.3 billion to $4.9 billion in 2015, an increase of 14 percent. Minnesota-based CHS Inc. remains the nation’s largest cooperative, with $34.7 billion in total business volume for 2015. Dairy Farmers of America came in second place, with $13.9 billion in total revenue. Finally, Minnesota’s Land O’Lakes was third, with $13.1 billion in sales.


EU Resumes Dow-DuPont Merger Investigation

The European Union has resumed investigations into the Dow-DuPont merger after the company’s submitted missing information requested by the EU antitrust authority. Dow Jones reports the European Commission has set a new date of February 6th, 2017, to complete the investigation into the merger. However, those familiar with the investigation warm the deadline could still be extended. Dow and DuPont had previously planned to close the deal before the end of this year. The European Commission halted the investigation because of the missing information last month, just a month after the EU opened a review of the merger. The European Commission is examining the potential merger on concerns the combination may reduce competition in crop protection, seeds and certain petrochemicals.


U.N. Official Says Lower Food Prices Threaten Anti-Hunger Efforts

A top United Nationals official says falling food prices harm anti-hunger efforts. The head of the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization argues that steps should be taken to guarantee fair incomes and livelihoods for small farmers. That’s seen as a move to prevent setbacks in reaching international goals of eradicating hunger and extreme poverty, according to Politico. An FOA blog post says “low food prices reduce the incomes of farmers, especially poor family farmers who produce staple foods in developing countries.” However, the remarks this week just nearly a month following the most recent FOA Food Price Index that recorded a 15 month high. The September Food Price Index averaged 165.6 points in August 2016, up 1.9 percent from July and almost seven percent above the corresponding period last year. That’s because while prices for grains are retreating, prices for dairy, oils and sugar are increasing. The FOA will release the September Food Price Index Thursday.

World Health Organization to Endorse Meatless Mondays

World Health Summit attendees in Berlin next week will dine on a Meatless Monday menu. Meatingplace calls the menu a sign of endorsing a global Meatless Monday movement by the World Health Organization. The World Health Summit, scheduled for October 9th through the 11th, is an international platform for exploring strategic developments and decisions in the healthcare. The Meatless Monday endorsement was designed to fit with the summit’s session on “Planetary Health” that will explore the long-term health implications of changes in the environment.  Michael Klag, Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health Dean and 2012 World Health Summit president, called the Meatless Monday movement “an important public health campaign.”

SOURCE: NAFB News Service