READ the NAFB’s National Ag News for Friday, November 4th…

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Sponsored by the American Farm Bureau Federation

HSUS Denies Budget Problems

The Humane Society of the United States is brushing off a report that says it’s having financial difficulties. The talk of challenges within the organization started Tuesday when the Center for Consumer Freedom put out a press release saying that HSUS laid off ten percent of its staff amid a budget shortfall, which the release said “was at least $20 million.” Pro Farmers’ First Thing Today says the Center is run by lobbyist Richard Berman, a longtime opponent of HSUS and other groups that believe in greater government regulation. The Humane Society says it eliminated several dozen positions as part of a restructuring effort. HSUS CEO Wayne Pacelle said the numbers put out by the Center for Consumer Freedom are wrong. He did say some positions have been eliminated, but more positions were added to three different departments within the organization, including farm animals, companion animals, and international. Pacelle added that the group’s assets were down a few million in the first nine months of the year, but they do expect those numbers to rise as many Americans typically wait until the end of the year for their charitable giving.

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TPP Headed for Ratification in Japan

The ruling liberal Democratic Party and the main opposition Democratic Party of Japan have both agreed to hold a lower House vote on the Trans-Pacific Partnership this week. That means the trade deal will likely be ratified during the current session of the Japanese Parliament. The website Asia dot Nikkei (Nee-kay) dot com says the Japanese public still seems to have doubts about the pact when it comes to things like food safety, intellectual property, and other points. The lower house is expected to pass TPP on Friday due to the majority held by the ruling liberal Democratic Party, along with some support from other political parties. A constitutional provision in the country’s lawmaking process means that any decision in the lower house automatically becomes law if the upper chamber doesn’t do anything on it within 30 days. If the upper chamber wants to act on it, deliberations could begin by Monday. Opposition lawmakers raised objections to imported meat containing growth hormones, which isn’t legal in Japan. Opposition groups also called for the labeling of genetically modified fish and the products that contain them. The current Prime Minister of Japan suggested several responses to food safety concerns but hasn’t committed to any specific procedures yet.

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Support for Oklahoma “Right to Farm” Amendment Drops

Oklahoma residents will vote next week on State Question 777, which would grant agricultural interests legal protections that rival the rights of free speech and religion. A Meating Place dot com report says the amendment had 53 percent support in a survey done during the summer by a group called SoonerPoll. The group said support for the amendment dropped to 49 percent early in October before tailing off to 37 percent later in the month. SoonerPoll did say a relatively high 14 percent of voters who responded to the survey were undecided on the ballot question. State Question 777 would amend the Constitution to say the legislature “Shall pass no law which abridges the rights of citizens and lawful residents of Oklahoma who employ agricultural technology and livestock production and ranching practices without a compelling state interest.” Supporters say it would allow farmers to defend themselves against unjust laws and make the state more attractive to farmers from outside Oklahoma. Opponents say it would prevent the government from passing laws to protect smaller farmers as well as the environment, and pass animal cruelty laws.

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A Big Investment to Stimulate Overseas Beef Demand

With the prospect of low cattle prices and increasing beef supplies in the immediate future, the Federation of State Beef Councils announced that its investing almost $1 million to stimulate more overseas demand for American beef. With strong encouragement from state beef council partners, the Federation will invest $940,000 from its reserves to promote beef in several overseas markets. For example, the group will spend $260,000 for promotions in Japan, with the goal of moving an additional 6.9 million pounds of U.S. beef. The organization will also spend money in other target areas like Korea and Asian island countries too. The Federation will also spend $300,000 on an Ibotta promotion that targets millennials living in cities. Ibotta is a smartphone application that shares beef information with consumers and helps them with cash rebates based on their beef purchases. Steve Hanson is a Nebraska beef producer who chairs the Federation of State Beef Councils and said they moved quickly on the investments with the idea to spark beef demand as producers are feeling a squeeze on their bottom lines.

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Election Shakeup of Senate Ag Committee Possible

The 2016 election cycle hasn’t cast a lot of drama on the Senate Ag committee. The committee is led by Republican Pat Roberts of Kansas and ranking member Debbie Stabenow, a Michigan Democrat. Only four of the committee’s 20 members are up for re-election this year, and political prognosticator FiveThirtyEight says they all stand a very good chance of getting re-elected. They include Vermont Democrat Patrick Leahy, North Dakota Republican John Hoeven, Michael Bennet, a Colorado Democrat, and Republican Charles Grassley of Iowa. But even if they all four win re-election, there could still be some changes coming to the Committee after the elections. If the Democrats regain control of the Senate, some changes will happen as the chairman always comes from the majority party, and the ranking member is the senior-most member of the minority party. Also, the majority party ensures it has a majority on every committee. The Senate Ag Committee currently consists of 11 Republicans and nine Democrats.

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Farm Bureau Scores Big with Keynote Speakers

Peyton and Archie Manning will keynote the 2017 American Farm Bureau Federation annual convention and IDEAg Trade Show closing general session on January ninth in Phoenix. A future Hall of Fame quarterback, Peyton has championed numerous charitable organizations and foundations to make an impact in his community. The two-time Super Bowl champion quarterbacked for the Indianapolis Colts and Denver Broncos. AFBF President Zippy Duvall called Manning, “A model of success, with a strong work ethic and a proven track record of helping others.” Peyton’s father, Archie, is a member of the College Football Hall of Fame after an outstanding career at the University of Mississippi. He led his team to the national championship game and finished in the top four of Heisman Trophy voting twice. The second overall draft pick in 1971, Archie played for the New Orleans Saints, Houston Oilers, and Minnesota Vikings. “Our convention is like a reunion for agriculture and the Farm Bureau family,” Duvall said, “so we’re excited that father and son Archie and Peyton will join us and share some of their family stories with us.”

SOURCE: NAFB News Service

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