READ the NAFB’s National Ag News for Tuesday, November 1st…

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New York Times Claims GM Crops Offer No Benefit

A study by the New York Times claims genetically modified crops offer no significant yield benefit and lead to increased herbicide use. An article published over the weekend by the New York Times says: “Genetic modification in the United States and Canada has not accelerated increases in crop yields or led to an overall reduction in the use of chemical pesticides.” The study compared data from the U.S. and Canada with Europe, which the study says has largely rejected genetic modification, to reach its findings. The study says herbicide use has increased in the U.S. at a time when genetic engineering was touted to reduce chemical use. Citing an Agriculture Department study, the New York Times says herbicide use has grown two and half times in the last two decades. Monsanto’s chief technology officer, Rob Fraley, alleges the Times “cherry-picked” data to reflect poorly on the industry. He told the Times: “Every farmer is a smart businessperson, and a farmer is not going to pay for a technology if they don’t think it provides a major benefit,” adding that “biotech tools have clearly driven yield increases enormously.”


Opponents Filing WOTUS Lawsuit Opening Briefs

Critics of the Waters of the U.S. rule will file opening briefs today (Tuesday) in the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals. However, opponents of the rule cannot use or cite internal memos from the Army Corps of Engineers in their filings. Those memos include comments from a top general objecting to the rulemaking process for WOTUS. But the three-judge panel hearing the case decided to bar most of those documents from the administrative record because they were deliberative process materials. Judges fear that allowing such documents into court could chill agency officials from speaking frankly during the rulemaking process, according to Politico. Groups filing complaints against the Corps of Engineers and the Environmental Protection Agency represent agriculture and mining companies alongside a handful of state attorney generals.


Enrollment Open for 2017 Farm Safety Net Programs

Farmers can now enroll in farm bill safety net programs for 2017. The enrollment period started today (Tuesday) and will continue until next August. Farm Service Agency Administrator Val Dolcini says producers on farms with base acres under the Agriculture Risk Coverage or Price Loss Coverage programs can enroll. Dolcini says the FSA issued more than $7 billion worth of payments this year for the 2015 crop to assist farmers who suffered price and revenue losses. If a farm is not enrolled during the 2017 enrollment period, the producers on that farm will not be eligible for financial assistance from the ARC or PLC programs for the 2017 crop should crop prices or farm revenues fall below the historical price or revenue benchmarks. Producers who made their elections in 2015 must still enroll during the 2017 enrollment period. Farmers can enroll in the programs by contacting their local FSA office.


Growing Feed Wheat Demand Could Ease Storage Crunch

Grain handlers are anticipating an uptick in orders for feed wheat, which should allow them to move excess wheat inventories as farmers bring in a record fall harvest. A new report from CoBank says low wheat prices and oversupply means wheat is destined to become a staple in livestock’s feed rations for at least the next year or two. A CoBank economist says because of low prices, wheat will “remain competitive with other feed grains for the foreseeable future.” Current USDA forecasts indicate that wheat feeding and residual use will climb to 260 million bushels in 2016, up from 152 million bushels last year. With cash wheat prices continually finding new lows, USDA’s feed-wheat estimate could likely see upward revisions given wheat’s high stocks to use ratio, according to the CoBank report. The use of more feed wheat also will lower stocks of an oversupplied commodity, according to the report, which could lead to better price stabilization.

Egypt Streamlines Wheat Inspection Process

Wheat traders are pleased by Egypt’s new wheat inspection process that will likely be easier to navigate and may lead to lower prices. Bloomberg reports Egypt’s General Organization for Export and Import Control will be the sole state body responsible for wheat inspections at shipping and arrival ports, replacing government inspectors. The move follows a boycott by traders who refused to tender wheat for export to Egypt over an ergot fungus contamination zero tolerance policy that was enforced twice this year by the nation. The global standard contamination limit of ergot is .05 percent. The inspection process replaces the previous system that required approval from three different government bodies, each with their own standards. Egypt is the worlds biggest wheat buyer and the new process will likely lead to lower prices for the country, according to traders, because they will not need to factor in a high-risk premium.


Dicamba Dispute Leads to Farmers Death

A Northeast Arkansas farmer was killed during an alleged dispute over dicamba herbicide spray drift last week. Monette, Arkansas farmer Mike Wallace was shot and killed during a physical confrontation regarding the spraying of dicamba, according to DTN. Wallace farmed about 5,000 acres of corn, cotton and soybeans. He was quoted in the Wall Street Journal in this summer expressing concern that 40 percent of his soybean fields had been damaged by dicamba drift and he had filed a complaint with the state. Allan Curtis Jones of Missouri faces murder charges for the incident. The local Sheriff told DTN that Jones met Wallace on a county road to talk about an unidentified dispute. Jones also brought his cousin along because he believed the meeting could lead to violence. Jones told deputies Wallace confronted him and grabbed Jones by the arm, so he pulled away, drew and fired a gun at Wallace. The Environmental Protection Agency is investigating multiple instances of off-label use of dicamba. Further frustrating farmers, insurance companies will not compensate farmers for losses caused by wrongful or “off-label” herbicide applications.

SOURCE: NAFB News Service