READ the NAFB’s National Ag News for Thursday, November 3rd…

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Obama Administration Pushing for TPP during Lame-Duck Session

President Barack Obama is forging ahead in an attempt to get Congress to vote on the Trans-Pacific Partnership following the election. The Wall Street Journal writes the Obama Administration will push for the “long-shot” bid immediately after Congress returns to Washington, D.C. for the lame-duck session. U.S. Trade Representative Michael Froman says: “We’re doing everything we possibly can to maximize the chance of getting it done.” Froman and others have been on a campaign-like spree to promote the benefits of the 12 nation trade agreement. Both presidential candidates, Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump, have voiced opposition to TPP on the campaign trail. The agreement represents a significant boost for agriculture exports and income if passed and implemented by all member countries.

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No Interest Rate Hike, for Now

The Federal Reserve kept interest rates unchanged following its latest policy meeting Wednesday. However, the Fed did signal a hike could be due in December as the economy gathers momentum and inflation picks up. The U.S. central bank said the economy had gained steam and job gains remained solid. Policymakers also expressed more optimism that inflation was moving toward their two percent target. Some analysts speculate a move is more likely in December because the Fed was not interested in making a change less than a week before a national election this month. However, as Reuters points out, the bar is low for a rate increase in the final policy meeting of the year as the Fed said in a statement it is choosing to “wait for some further evidence of continued progress.” One analyst said the comments mean: “You are still pointing to a December hike, they just didn’t pre-commit to it.”

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Canada Investigating Bovine Tuberculosis

Around 30 farms in southeastern Alberta, Canada are under quarantine as Canada attempts to track down cattle exposed to bovine tuberculosis (TB). CBC News of Canada reports the investigation stems from a U.S. Department of Agriculture notice in September that a cow from Alberta tested positive for bovine TB at a U.S. slaughter plant. This is the 10th confirmed case of bovine TB identified in the U.S. from foreign animals this year. The Alberta Beef Producers organization says preliminary test results are still pending on the quarantined herds and more test are underway on other herds that had direct contact with the infected animal. The Canadian Food Inspection Agency says bovine TB has been subject to a mandatory national eradication program in Canada since 1923. The farmer who owns the ranch the infected animal originated from told the Northern Ag Network this week his herd, along with neighboring herds, would be “destroyed.” Canada is still officially considered to be free of the disease, CFIA said, and the finding of the lone slaughter cow in the U.S. does not affect Canada’s current status.

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Monsanto Shareholders to Vote on Bayer Acquisition

Monsanto shareholders are set to vote next month on Bayer’s acquisition of the company. In a news release this week, Monsanto announced that shareholders will vote December 13th on the $66 billion agreement. In September, Monsanto agreed to the acquisition terms proposed by Bayer, who will purchase Monsanto at a share price of $128 per share. When announcing the deal, the companies said it would add a half billion dollars to their collective bottom lines over the next three years. The special meeting of shareowners next month will be held at Monsanto global R&D headquarters in Chesterfield, Missouri. 

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Poultry Industry Injury Rate Remains Low

A Labor Department report shows job injury and illness rates remain at all-time lows for poultry workers in the United States. The total recordable poultry processing illness and injury rate for 2015 was 4.3 cases per 100 full-time workers per year, the same rate as 2014, and lower than the 2015 rate of 4.7 for the entire food manufacturing sector. In a joint response, the National Chicken Council, National Turkey Federation and U.S. Poultry & Egg Association said the report was the result of the poultry industry focusing “its energies on the prevention of workplace injuries and illnesses.” Poultry processing’s 2015 rate of 4.3 represents an 81 percent decrease from 1994 when the recorded rate was 22.7, that the industry says demonstrates “the enormous progress the industry has made in improving safety for its workforce.”

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Farmers Fleeing HSUS Ag Advisory Councils

At least six farmers have left Humane Society advisory councils in the past year, including its newly formed National Agriculture Advisory Council. After forming 11 state councils, HSUS announced a national council in May. The Weekly Standard reports former members called the councils by HSUS “window dressing,” claiming HSUS did not make good on its promise to support farmers and ranchers who give proper care to their animals. Further, HSUS CEO Wayne Pacelle removed high-profile rancher Kevin Fulton from the national council. Fulton, who runs an organic grazing operation, was apparently pushing back on what he saw as a radical vegan agenda out of sync with HSUS’ own mission statement. According to The Weekly Standard, Other farmers interviewed by the newspaper made similar charges. HSUS, however, disputed the story and the reason Fulton was asked to step down. HSUS says Fulton was asked to step down because he threatened an HSUS staff member, adding that organization still has “around 50 farmers and ranchers” actively involved in agriculture councils.

SOURCE: NAFB News Service

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