READ the NAFB’s National Ag News for Wednesday, December 14th…

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READ the NAFB’s National Ag News for Wednesday, December 14th…

Trump Ag Advisors Scoff at Heitkamp Talk

Agriculture advisers for President-Elect Donald Trump don’t want North Dakota Democratic Senator Heidi Heitkamp as Agriculture Secretary. While Heitkamp has sided with agriculture and Republicans at times, Trump’s agriculture allies consider Heitkamp a snub against Trump’s network of rural supporters. Politico over the weekend reported Heitkamp topped the list to head USDA, but Trump’s inner agriculture circle told Politico they were “blindsided” by the news. Trump has yet to offer Heitkamp the post, and it is also uncertain she would accept the job, as she would leave a vacant seat in the Senate which would likely be filled by a Republican in a special election. Political insiders said Tuesday that it does not appear Trump is “close” to naming a new Agriculture Secretary just yet, despite recent speculation.

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Consumers Set to Benefit from Lower Global Meat Prices

A report from Rabobank shows consumers will benefit from downward pressure on global meat prices in 2017. The Rabobank Food & Agribusiness Research and Advisory group says high supply and competitive markets are expected to push down current prices, while global meat consumption continues to rise. Rabobank also expects China to maintain record levels of pork imports into next year. China’s beef and poultry imports are also expected to rise. But the market is being driven by the current supply of beef and pork, which is much greater than demand. Meanwhile, organizers of the report say U.S. producers head into 2017 grappling with potential changes with the country’s trade policy and further currency movements, adding more potential downward pressure.

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USCA Urges Action on Farmer Fair Practices Rules

The United States Cattlemen’s Association sent letters this week to the current and incoming Administrations regarding the associations near and long-term priorities. USCA issued an immediate request to President Barack Obama to continue work on restoring basic market protections for U.S. cattle producers. Late this year, the Department of Agriculture initiated the rulemaking process for the Grain Inspection, Packers and Stockyards Administration, or GIPSA, Farmer Fair Practices Rules. The two proposed rules, and one interim rule were sent to the White House Office of Management and Budget for approval. In its letter, USCA asks the Administration to move forward with publishing the rules for public comment. In its letter to President-Elect Donald Trump, USCA is requesting a swift and seamless transition.

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Judge Sides with R-CALF Against Beef Checkoff

A federal judge this week sided with R-CALF by recommending the Montana U.S. District Court grant a preliminary injunction request by R-CALF in a case involving the beef checkoff. The injunction would stop the Department of Agriculture from allowing the Montana State Beef Council to use checkoff dollars to fund its advertising campaigns. Meat industry publication Meatingplace reports the ruling relates to a lawsuit R-CALF filed against the national beef checkoff program in May. The lawsuit alleges it is unconstitutional for the government to allow private beef councils to keep and spend one-half of all checkoff dollars to pay for the beef council’s private speech when R-CALF members disagree with such speech. The court must now conduct an independent review and has 14 days to respond.

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Monsanto Shareowners Approve Merger with Bayer

Monsanto shareholders have approved a proposed merger with Bayer AG. Under the terms of the merger agreement, Monsanto shareowners will receive $128 per share in cash at the closing of the merger. Monsanto CEO Hugh Grant Tuesday called the approval an “important milestone” for both companies. Bayer AG leadership says the merger will “help address the growing challenges facing farmers.” 99 percent of the votes by Monsanto shareholders were in favor of the merger, according to a Monsanto news release. The merger is subject to regulatory approval and is expected to be completed by the end of 2017. Bayer and Monsanto announced the merger agreement in September. Under the terms, Bayer AG agreed to purchase Monsanto for $66 billion.

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Chipotle Executive to Step Down Following Slow Growth

A top-level executive for Chipotle will step down early next year following a struggle to regain the restaurant chain’s footing after several food safety failures. The New York Times reports Montgomery Moran, a co-chief executive for Chipotle, will step down from his role while the company will also be making changes to its board of directors. Chipotle founder and co-chief executive Steve Ells says the restaurant chain decided “one CEO will serve the company better.” Chipotle Shares have fallen more than 30 percent in the last year amid food safety issues, including a norovirus outbreak and two E. coli outbreaks. Sales in stores open at least a year, a key measure of a restaurant chain’s health, have not recovered as fast as the company had expected.

SOURCE: NAFB News Service

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