READ the NAFB’s National Ag News for Tuesday, December 20th

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READ the NAFB’s National Ag News for Tuesday, December 20th

Former U.S. Trade Official Says TPP likely to Resurface

A former U.S. trade official says the Trans-Pacific Partnership is not really dead and could resurface during President-elect Donald Trump’s term. Wendy Cutler, a former acting deputy U.S. Trade Representative, told the Washington International Trade Association last week she believes TPP was a victim of “bad timing.” She argued the agreement is too important for U.S. economic and strategic reasons for the U.S. to permanently abandon th agreement.  Politico points out that Cutler helped negotiate part of the trade agreement before leaving the U.S. Trade Representative’s office. She said the plan for TPP was to conclude the talks a lot earlier, but added “the deal that was on the table two years earlier wasn’t the one we were prepared to take home,” so negotiators waited to get a better agreement. Now however, that agreement remains stalled thanks to election year politics. 


EU and Japan Finalizing Free Tree Agreement Talks

The European Union and Japan are nearing completion of negotiations on a free-trade deal. The negotiations got a boost recently when U.S. President-elect Donald Trump announced his intention to withdraw from the Trans-Pacific Partnership trade agreement, according to Reuters. The European Union over the weekend said the free-trade deal with Japan is possible by early next year if Japan opens to EU farm goods and Europe can grant open access to cars from Japan. EU trade officials say negotiators made significant progress in the past two weeks, and Japan has indicated a deal could be reached by the end of this month. However, it looks more likely that a deal will be completed early next year.


Court Dismisses Mississippi River Basin Nutrient Standards Case

In what agriculture groups call a victory, a federal court last week dismissed a lawsuit that would have forced the Environmental Protection Agency to impose strict nutrient standards on farmers in the Mississippi River Basin. The basin is the world’s second largest, draining nearly two-million-square-miles across 31 states. Environmental groups wanted the agency to impose regulations on the amount of nitrogen and phosphorous that could be in waters in the basin. Meat industry publication Meatingplace says the lawsuit piggybacked on a petition the environmental groups sent the EPA in 2008 asking the agency to draw up a regulation for the basin. However, the EPA declined the petition. In the more recent case, the plaintiffs argued that federal law required the EPA to determine whether to impose a regulation based on scientific data that they say shows current controls are not working, and the agency’s refusal to do so violates the law.

Canada Releases Six Ranches Under Quarantine for Bovine TB

The Canadian Food Inspection Agency last week released six ranches, or premises, from a federal quarantine after a micro-outbreak of bovine tuberculosis was reported in September. Officials in Canada say “appropriate testing” of the six ranches released from quarantine have been completed on the cattle at those locations. Online publication AgCanada reports quarantines still apply on about 45 premises — mostly in southeastern Alberta and a few in southwestern Saskatchewan — covering about 26,000 cattle. That figure includes 18 premises where cattle are confirmed to have been exposed to one of the six TB-positive animals found so far in the investigation. Animals now considered part of that “herd” includes those which commingled with TB-infected animals on community pastures. An estimated 10,000 cattle and calves from those 18 premises have been or are booked to be destroyed. Meat from slaughtered animals that are later ruled to have been TB-negative will be eligible for food use. Full testing of all cattle under quarantine is expected to be completed early next month.


Research Shows Wind Turbines Have Positive Impact on Field Crops

Wind turbines that often dot fields throughout the Midwest may benefit row crops, according to new research by Iowa State University. A climate researcher with the university says air turbulence from wind turbines affects temperatures and helps reduce moisture that can lead to disease. The university tells the Des Moines Register wind turbines have “an overall healthy impact on plants.” However, it is difficult to determine if those benefits improve crop yields. The research says wind turbine turbulence leads to temperatures about a half-degree cooler during the day and between a half degree to a full degree warmer at night. And the turbulence and associated changes in air pressure at ground level may enrich the carbon dioxide content in the air surrounding crops, which could make the plants grow more efficiently. Air movement rustling the plants also allows sunlight to reach lower corn and soybean leaves, encouraging photosynthesis, according to the study.


Prairie Farms Dairy, Swiss Valley Farms Announce Merger Agreement

Dairy cooperatives Prairie Farms Dairy and Swiss Valley Farms have announced a merger agreement that will merge Swiss Valley Farms into Prairie Farms Dairy. The two cooperatives said last week the agreement would bring together two well-known brands and expand sales opportunities. Prairie Farms Dairy will acquire five manufacturing plants in Iowa, Minnesota and Wisconsin. If approved, the deal is expected to close mid-2017. Prairie Farms Dairy represents more than 600 farm families and 35 manufacturing plants with annual sales over $3 billion. Prairie Farms Dairy is based in Carlinville, Illinois, while Swiss Valley Farms is headquartered in Davenport, Iowa.

SOURCE: NAFB News Service