READ the NAFB’s National Ag News for Wednesday, October 12th…

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USDA to Purchase Surplus Cheese

Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack announced Tuesday the U.S. Department of Agriculture is offering to purchase $20 million of cheddar cheese to reduce a private cheese surplus that has reached record levels. The announcement followed a roundtable discussion with dairy producers in Wisconsin. USDA will use the surplus cheese to assist food banks and other food assistance recipients. USDA predicts dairy prices will increase throughout the rest of this year, but low world market prices, increased milk supplies and inventories and slower demand have contributed to a sluggish market. The slow market has caused dairy revenues to drop 35 percent over the past two years. Vilsack says a solicitation will be issued shortly, and cheese deliveries to food banks and other food assistance recipients are expected to start in March of 2017.


Syngenta Confirms Takeover Funding OK

Syngenta says bridge financing for the ChemChina takeover of Syngenta is “committed and irrevocable.” The comments come after a news agency in China reported over the weekend that a $15 billion piece of the deal’s funding remains missing, citing several people it said were close to the deal, according to Reuters. A Syngenta spokesperson said this week “We have no comment to make on this article, and ChemChina is proceeding with their refinancing strategy.” State-owned ChemChina is borrowing heavily to buy Syngenta. The proposed $43 billion takeover is the biggest overseas offer ever made by a Chinese company and was expected to be completed by the end of this year.

Support for Government Intervention in Nutrition Doubles

A recent survey shows support for government interventions that limit, restrict or warn consumers about the risks of junk food has nearly doubled since 2012. Politico reports the FoodMinds survey found 70 percent of respondents felt the government should help consumers understand how junk food fits into a healthy diet. 30 percent of respondents felt the government should restrict or limit the availability of junk food. The survey polled 684 “opinion-leader shoppers” — a so-called subgroup of “politically aware,” “socially active” registered voters who are the primary grocery shoppers for their households. The poll also found 58 percent of Republican respondents support excluding soft drinks and empty-calorie foods from SNAP. For Democrats, 34 percent were in favor, 13 percent strongly opposed.

USDA Trims Wheat Import Forecast for Egypt

The U.S. Department of Agriculture has trimmed its import forecast for Egypt. Pro Farmer’s First Thing Today reports the reduction is due to credit issues. A USDA office in Egypt cut its wheat import forecast for both 2015-16 and 2016-17 to 11.6 million metric tons and 11.8 million metric tons, respectively. USDA says the reductions are “due to a persistent shortage of foreign currency that has made opening letters of credit more difficult, significantly hampering imports.” But USDA also noted that rising feed demand should boost the nation’s corn imports in 2016-17 by around three percent from the previous season to 8.6 million metric tons. That is just below USDA’s official 8.75 million metric ton import outlook.

Missouri Right to Farm does not Apply to Marijuana

A Missouri judge ruled a St Louis man had no legal right under Missouri’s Right to Farm amendment to grow marijuana plants. The St Louis Post-Dispatch reports the judge sentenced Mark Shanklin to 120 days of jail time and five years’ probation after being found guilty of drug charges. The man didn’t dispute he was growing more than 300 marijuana plants in his home, but argued the Right to Farm amendment guarantees the right to cultivate marijuana. Missouri’s Right to Farm amendment was passed by voters in 2014 and states farming practices “shall be forever guaranteed in this state.” Shanklin argued that state laws prohibiting marijuana cultivation are at odds with the amendment. But the judge ruled that Marijuana is not a common item harvested, and that “even when constitutional amendments are designed to address government overreach…they are seldom intended to give citizens free rein to harm themselves or others.” A similar defense failed for a Jefferson City, Missouri woman in 2015 after being caught with nine marijuana plants in her basement.


No Reason to ‘Bee’ Worried

Despite the recent endangered listing of a Hawaii-specific bee species, the Washington Post says bees are doing just fine. In a report this week, a Washington Post blog says the endangered species only accounts for a handful of relatively obscure species that live in Hawaii. Wild bees are plentiful, according to data from the Department of Agriculture. Further, USDA data shows that in 2015, there were 2.66 million commercial honey-producing bee colonies in the United States. That is down slightly from the 2.74 million colonies in 2014, which represented a two-decade high. The number of commercial bee colonies is still significantly higher than it was in 2006 when colony collapse disorder was first documented. Some research has linked neonicotinoid insecticides to wild bee population declines, but wild bee populations are hard to survey, making an assessment of that claim difficult. The Washington Post blog adds the listing of the Hawaii species is likely an indicator that the other 3,993 bee species are doing fine.

SOURCE: NAFB News Service