READ the NAFB’s National Ag News for Wednesday, October 19th…

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CLICK HERE to listen to TODAY’s BARN Morning Ag News with Brian Allmer…

Sponsored by the American Farm Bureau Federation

Dannon Responds to Ag Attack

Dannon claims the company was blindsided Monday when a half-dozen agriculture groups attacked the companies shift away from GMO ingredients. Groups including the American Farm Bureau Federation sent Dannon a letter calling the switch “marketing puffery.” Dannon’s CEO says the company was surprised by the “divisive and misinformed letter.” Dannon announced back in April the company would switch to non-GMO dairy feed for three of its flagship brands and begin labeling GMO products in other brands next year. Politico reports that Dannon stood by its sustainability claims, noting the company has built a “direct and transparent” relationship with dairy farmers. However, the letter by agriculture groups says “It appears to be an attempt to gain lost sales from your competitors by using fear-based marketing and trendy buzzwords.” The groups say “neither farmers nor consumers should be used as pawns in food marketing wars.”

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ASA, NOPA Signal Strong Push on TPP in Lame-Duck

The American Soybean Association and the National Oilseed Processors Association are continuing their push for Congress to approve the Trans-Pacific Partnership trade agreement. The two groups informed members of Congress this week they will continue to pressure lawmakers to pass TPP during the lame-duck session following the presidential election. The message follows a new document on the benefits to soybean farmers, processors and exports from the trade deal. ASA President Richard Wilkins said the document shows that “there is too much promise in the TPP for us to give up.”Prospects for passage of TPP are dim, with both presidential candidates opposed, and a crowded lame-duck congressional calendar. However, many agriculture groups pledge to continue pressing Congress to seek passage of the agreement.

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Two Identified as Potential Ag Secretary Under Clinton Administration

The Hagstrom Report says Steve Beshear and Karen Ross are the top candidates to become Hillary Clinton’s Agriculture Secretary, along with another unnamed candidate, should she win the presidential election next month. A third candidate was not named to the Hagstrom Report, but a source described the person as “more surprising.” Beshears is a former Democratic governor of Kentucky. Ross is a former chief of staff for Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack and is the current California Food and Agriculture Secretary. It is safe to say the candidate is not current Secretary Vilsack, as he told AgriTalk last week “I have no idea what is in my future, adding “I do think it’s time for someone else to take a crack” at USDA.

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BASF Chemical Plant Faces Prolonged Shutdown Following Explosion

An explosion at the world’s largest chemical facility has killed two firefighters and shut down production. The explosion at BASF’s Germany plant near Frankfurt shut down the four square mile complex Monday that makes raw chemicals for BASF products. BASF is the world’s largest chemical company and says the facility is likely to face a prolonged shutdown. The complex is home to some 39,000 BASF employees. An extended shutdown may tighten earnings for BASF and benefit Dow Chemical, according to Bloomberg. There’s no word yet on how the shutdown might impact the production of BASF’s agriculture chemicals. BASF never joined the merger and acquisition trend within the agriculture chemical industry but did reportedly enter talks with Monsanto to sell-off BASF’s agriculture-solutions unit. However, that was before Bayer and Monsanto agreed on a merger worth $66 billion.

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USDA Predicts Record California Almond Harvest

California almond growers are facing similar price troubles as Midwest row-crop farmers. A predicted record almond harvest will drop prices again this year as the U.S. Department of Agriculture projects the harvest to reach 2.05 billion pounds for the 2016-17 crop year. The harvest projection represents an eight percent increase from a year ago and a slight increase from the 2011-12 crop year record of 2.03 billion pounds. USDA says that while many areas are still under drought, trees have shown signs of recovery from multiple years of water deprivation. The increase in production may put negative pressure on prices received by growers. After a strong year of production, for example, grower prices fell from $4.00 per pound in 2014-15 to $2.84 per pound in 2015-16. Last year’s almond crop was worth $5.33 billion. However, with prices high relative to long-term averages, USDA says almond producers still have an incentive to increase production.

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India Seeks to Triple Egg Production to Combat Malnutrition

India’s agriculture minister says the nation is aiming to triple egg production to combat the challenge of malnutrition. The Poultry Site reports India is already among the top egg producers of the world. With total egg production close to 83 billion, but the domestic requirement is much higher. Agriculture officials in India say the per capita availability of eggs is only 63 per year while the National Nutrition Institute prescribes for a minimum of 180. To triple production, India’s government is taking steps to promote poultry farming. The agriculture ministry says one in every four children up to five years old is suffering from malnutrition and that “eggs can help a lot in combating the malnutrition.”

SOURCE: NAFB News Service

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