READ the NAFB’s National Ag News for Friday, December 2nd…

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READ the NAFB’s National Ag News for Friday, December 2nd…

Australia Moving on TPP

Despite the threat of the United States pulling out of the Trans-Pacific Partnership, Australia’s parliament is not leaving the deal for dead just yet. Australia’s Treaties Committee is recommending ratification of the trade deal following a thorough review of the agreement. The recommendation comes as the final report from the committee recognizes a “resurgence of nationalism and isolationism internationally,” according to Politico. The official report gives the government the green light to submit TPP to lawmakers for final approval. Despite U.S. President-elect Donald Trump’s pledge to leave the trade agreement on day one of his presidency, many of the other 11 nations included in the trade agreement are moving forward with approving the deal and hoping Trump will reconsider the agreement.

Contender for Top EPA Post Wants to End Subsidies for Renewable Energy

A Texan being considered by President-elect Donald Trump to head the Environmental Protection Agency wants to end subsidies for renewable energy. Kathleen Hartnett White confirmed to the McClatchy Washington news bureau this week she is being considered to lead the EPA, following a meeting with President-elect Trump. Hartnett White, along with Trump, both show an interested in slashing regulations by the EPA, including the Waters of the U.S. rule, vastly opposed by agriculture groups. White also wants to cut federal subsidies for renewable energy, which total an estimated $7.3 billion. She says all energy sources would be welcome should she head the EPA, but “they need to have a level playing field in which to compete.” She specifically took aim at wind and solar for their “high” subsides. During the campaign, Trump said the EPA would be gutted if he is elected.

FTC Says Ethanol Industry Still Competitive

The U.S. ethanol industry continues to have a “low level of concentration and a large number of market participants,” according to the annual Ethanol Market Concentration Report by the Federal Trade Commission (FTC). The agency’s annual update concluded: “The exercise of market power to set prices or coordination on price and output levels, is unlikely.” Pro Farmer’s First Thing Today says the report was approved 3-0 and echoes assessments from prior years. U.S. ethanol industry margins through the first nine months of 2016 followed a seasonality pattern similar to that seen in 2015. Margins were negative or low in January of 2016 but increased and remained positive as demand surged during the spring and summer driving season. The FTC is required under the 2005 energy law to release the report annually.

Canada Ranchers Under Quarantine to Receive Federal Funding

Canada announced funding support for ranchers that are currently under a federal quarantine stemming from a bovine tuberculosis investigation in Southeast Alberta. Online publication AgCanada reports the ranchers who are having to feed and maintain quarantined cattle they cannot move or sell can expect a federal AgriRecovery plan to help cover the costs. The government will be working with the Alberta cattle industry “in the coming days” on program details. Funding for what will be called the 2016 Bovine Tuberculosis Assistance Initiative is still pending final authorization, but will start “as quickly and simply as possible.” Costs eligible for the program would include feeding and water infrastructure, animal feed, transportation, cleaning and disinfection, as well as interest charges on loans due to the circumstances. Around 50 cattle ranches are under quarantine after a U.S. packing plant reported bovine tuberculosis was found in a cow from Alberta earlier this year. Many of the cattle within the quarantine zone are slated to be destroyed, according to Canada’s government.


Georgia Dock Chicken-pricing Index Suspended

The Georgia Department of Agriculture this week suspended the Georgia Dock chicken-pricing index while companies adjust to new requirements to prove data accuracy. Meat industry publication Meatingplace reports the continued gap between Georgia Dock prices for chicken and other industry indexes follows the recent filings of lawsuits accusing the entire chicken industry of fixing prices. The Georgia Dock prices are collected via phone survey of chicken companies without independent verification and have been as much as 40 cents per pound higher than other price indexes. That prompted state agriculture officials to require documentation from participants proving the accuracy of the information they submit. However, by midweek for this week’s report, not enough companies had been able to supply information for the index to function. The Georgia Dock is one of four main pricing indexes in the chicken market.


Trade Group Suing Dr. Oz Over Fake Olive Oil Claims

The North American Olive Oil Association has filed a lawsuit against television host Dr. Oz under a largely untested Georgia food libel law, objecting to his claims that much of the imported extra virgin olive oil sold in U.S. supermarkets may be fake, according to Reuters. The New Jersey-based association seeks an unspecified amount in damages. The lawsuit claims Dr. Oz, host of a popular daytime TV talk show, violated the Georgia law when he stated that 80 percent of the extra virgin olive oil sold in supermarkets “isn’t the real deal” and “may even be fake.” The association says those claims are untrue. The lawsuit centers around a May 12th episode in which the host talked with a so-called oil expert that spoke about “fraudulent olive oil” being imported into the United States. The association says Dr. Oz failed to disclose his guest worked for the California Olive Ranch that competes with foreign olive oil manufacturers. The association says its own testing has found 95 percent of imported oil met or exceeded quality and purity standards between 2013 and 2015.

SOURCE: NAFB News Service