READ the NAFB’s National Ag News for Wednesday, December 28th…

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CLICK HERE to listen to TODAY’s BARN Morning Ag News with Brian Allmer…

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READ the NAFB’s National Ag News for Wednesday, December 28th…

Trump Ban on Lobbyists Counter Productive

The incoming Donald Trump administration has a ban in place preventing lobbyists from working in the administration. Chris Novak, National Corn Growers Association CEO, says that’s going to present challenges. Novak tells Brownfield that lobbyists are important because they know the in’s and outs of Washington and how it works to get things passed. He says, “It’s simply a lot of missing expertise that will make it more challenging for the Trump administration to succeed.” Novak says Trump will need people that know how to build consensus to get things done because of the slight majorities that Republicans hold in the new Congress. “The Republicans do have a 58 to 42 majority in the Senate,” said Novak, “but with the new filibuster laws, sometimes it takes 60 votes to get things done. That means President-elect Trump is going to have to work with Democrats. That’s going to mean negotiation and compromise.”

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South American Soybean Harvest Underway

Brazil soybean harvest is just underway in Matto Grosso, getting started a few days before Christmas. Pro Farmer’s First Thing Today says soybean harvest in Parana should get going within the next ten days. South American Crop Consultant Michael Cordonnier notes that rainfall increased during early December, leading to concern that wet weather could cause disease issues like mold, potentially knocking down yield numbers. However, he left the Brazil soybean yield forecast at 103 million metric tons and the corn projection at 86 million metric tons. Heavy rains fell in Argentina through the weekend, totaling 2.5 to 4 inches combined over the period. Much heavier rains totaling up to 8 inches fell in other parts of the country, prompting some flooding concerns. The rain events missed southern Buenos Aires province, where dryness is becoming a concern. Planting in the province is up to 20 percent behind normal. Still, Cordonnier puts his Argentina soybean forecast at 56 million metric tons and the corn forecast at 35 million metric tons, with a neutral bias toward both crops.

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Wind Turbines May Benefit Crops

An Iowa State University study is suggesting that turbines used to capture wind energy may have a benefit on crops in the fields. Gene Takle, a distinguished professor of both Agronomy as well as Geological and Atmospheric Sciences, says wind turbines disbursed throughout a field may create air turbulence that helps plants by affecting different variables, including air temperature and carbon dioxide. Feedstuffs magazine says research towers built on a 200-turbine wind farm collected data during a three-year study, noting wind speed and directions, temperatures, humidity, turbulence, gas content, and precipitation. While it’s difficult to know if the changes wind turbines produce actually affect crop performance, Takle said it can make growing conditions more favorable. For example, turbines can change the temperature around them. The wind turbulence can lead to a half-degree cooler days and between a half to a full degree warmer temps at night. The turbulence also suppresses the formation of dew, drying out the crops and preventing mold development on the plants.

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Ag Secretary Search to Continue

Texas Ag Commissioner Sid Miller is the next candidate to meet with Trump Transition Team officials this week. Politico’s Morning Agriculture Report says Miller may be a bit of a long shot, but he’ll meet with incoming White House Chief of Staff Reince Prebius and Chief Strategist Steve Bannon at Trump Tower this week. Reports say Miller has spoken with Prebius multiple times on the phone, leading some to speculate he’s still in the running. In the meantime, former Texas Ag Commissioner Susan Combs met with Vice-President-elect Mike Pence last week, but the meeting only lasted about 20 minutes. Politico says Pence is expected to have a big say in the pick for Ag Secretary, so some think Combs may not be a serious candidate. If that’s not enough, anti-abortion groups in Texas are trying to sink her chances for the job by highlighting the fact that she’s supported abortion rights for most of her career. House Ag Committee Chairman, and fellow Texan, Mike Conaway had been lobbying the Trump Transition Team on her behalf.

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Sodexo Food Service Announces New Animal Welfare Standards

In a joint announcement with the Humane Society of the U.S., food service company Sodexo announced it’s adopting new animal welfare requirements for broiler chickens and other livestock, one day after the Panera restaurant chain made a similar announcement. By 2024, Sodexo won’t be buying animals raised in gestation crates and veal crates. It also won’t buy eggs from hens raised in cages. An article on PR Newswire dot com says Sodexo will also source chickens from farms that raise birds in natural light and give them fresh hay bales, as well as adopt more humane slaughter methods. Humane Society President and CEO Wayne Pacelle says Panera and Sodexo are only the beginning. “We’re gearing up for 2017 when the fate of broiler chickens takes a turn for the better,” he said. The United States has the largest broiler chicken industry in the world, with about 19 percent of its production being exported to other countries. Those numbers come from Sodexo Vice President of Sustainability and Corporate Responsibility Ted Monk, who says, “Sodexo is committed to improving the treatment of broiler chickens while thoughtfully addressing the impact on the 25,000 family farms that have production contracts that provide 95 percent of the broiler chicken supply.”

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Budget Patch Averts Ag Lending Crisis

All available ag lending money the government had was given out to farmers during the last fiscal year to help them through the worst economic downturn in decades. An Associated Press article says, despite that, no one who qualifies for a farm loan will be turned down over the next four months, thanks in part to an unusual item recently passed by Congress. The budget patch gives the U.S. Department of Agriculture the wherewithal to meet an expanding demand for farm loans by using future funding. USDA lending has no limit between now and April 28, which is a victory for farm groups who had been urging Washington to head off a potential ag lending crisis. Crop and livestock prices are pushing the nation’s farmers to the limit, and producers are turning to lenders for help in staving off disaster. The increasing demand pushed the Farm Service Agency to wind up $137 millions dollars short in direct and guaranteed loan funds through the end of the most recent fiscal year. The American Bankers Association Center for Agriculture and Rural Banking expects most producers to be able to hold on at least one more year because bankers can restructure their loans and add in some federal guarantees to commercial loans as well.

SOURCE: NAFB News Service

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