READ the NAFB’s National Ag News for Tuesday, October 11th…

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ABC Seeks Pink Slime Lawsuit Dismissal

ABC network, along with employees Diane Sawyer and Jim Avila are asking a judge to dismiss a $1.2 billion defamation lawsuit regarding the networks reporting on lean, finely textured beef products. ABC had nicknamed the product “pink slime,” which Beef Products Inc. claims led to significant losses. BPI filed the lawsuit in 2012 claiming the reporting led to the closure of three plants and roughly 700 layoffs. However, in the request for dismissal, ABC argues that the number of reports was driven primarily by questions from viewers. The Washington Post reports ABC’s argument counters the lawsuit’s characterization of the network’s coverage as a “vicious, concerted disinformation campaign against BPI.” Court documents recently filed by ABC argue the work was done in the public’s interest as consumers were unaware that the product at the time was present in 70 percent of the ground beef sold in supermarkets. The case is currently slated to go to trial in June.


Former AFBF President Joins Foundation for Food and Agriculture Board

Former American Farm Bureau Federation President Bob Stallman has joined the Foundation for Food and Agriculture Board of Directors. The Foundation announced last week that it was expanding the board to include six new representatives. Stallman and the five other appointees will serve five-year terms. Stallman has also served on numerous state and federal panels, advising on economic issues including farm and trade policy. He was appointed by the President to the White House Advisory Committee for Trade Policy and Negotiations and served from 2007 through 2016. The new directors join a roster of 19, including Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack, who serves as an ex-officio member. The addition is the largest expansion of the Board since the inaugural members were appointed following the creation of the Foundation as part of the 2014 Farm Bill. The Foundation was created to support food and agriculture research.


Russia Declared a Grain Superpower

The American Journal of Transportation calls Russia a “grain superpower” as wheat exports from Russia surge. The Journal says grains are propelling Russia’s agriculture into a renaissance, charged by the 45 percent drop in the ruble against the dollar over the last few years and bumper crops. Last season, Russian topped the U.S. in wheat exports for the first time in decades and is expected to extend those gains to displace the European Union from the top spot this year. Wheat exports from Russia are projected around 30 million metric tons, and President Vladimir Putin of Russia last month urged the country to not hurry in moving excess grain. Russia’s Agriculture Ministry says the nation’s all-grain crop was estimated at 110 to 115 million metric tons, the largest overall grain crop in 25 years. The EU is also enjoying gains in wheat exports. The gains by Russia and the EU are coming mostly at the expense of the United States, which has seen its share of the wheat market steadily moving lower in recent years.

India, Pakistan Tensions could send Cotton Business to U.S.

A territory dispute between India and Pakistan could mean increased cotton trade for the United States. Pro Farmer’s Frist Thing Today reports that the dispute over Kashmir has basically stopped cotton trade between India and Pakistan, a business valued at $822 million per year. Pakistan was India’s largest cotton buyer in the 2015-16 marketing year, purchasing around 2.5 million bales from the nation. Pakistan is the world’s number three cotton consuming country. While the nation typically begins importing cotton in September, sources from India and Pakistan say trade has been at a near standstill. Some officials from India recently indicated that its Prime Minister may cut off trade with Pakistan. Reduced cotton imports from Pakistan may help other suppliers like Brazil, the United States and some African countries supply India.


Florida Citrus Growers Spared by Hurricane Matthew

Citrus growers in Florida “dodged a huge bullet” as Hurricane Matthew seems to have caused just minimal crop damage, according to the Indian River Citrus League based in Ft. Pierce, Florida. Citrus industry publication The Packer reports the hurricane apparently caused little damage to Florida’s Indian River citrus growing region and south Florida vegetables. While the eye of the hurricane saw winds of up to 130 mph, the center of the storm remained off the coast and brought less powerful tropical force winds to inland areas. Most Florida citrus groves are five to 10 miles west of the coast where winds peaked at only 48 miles per hour. Any damage would pale in comparison to back-to-back storms in 2004 that destroyed 23 million boxes of an estimated 27 million box crop of fresh grapefruit. The industry has never fully recovered since, as citrus greening disease started to spread across the region in the years following the 2004 storms.

FFA Announces Record Membership

The National FFA Organization last week announced record-high student membership of 649,355. Current membership is three percent higher than 2015’s 692,000 some members. FFA says the number of FFA chapters also grew, increasing from 7,757 to 7,859. The top six student membership states are Texas, California, Georgia, Oklahoma, Ohio and Missouri. Interest in FFA and agricultural education also continues to grow, as membership continues to increase. Student membership was not the organization’s only growth opportunity in 2016. National FFA Alumni membership grew to 225,891 members, growing from 62,000 some in 2015. This year, graduating high school seniors automatically received alumni membership, which the growth numbers reflect.

SOURCE: NAFB News Service