READ the NAFB’s National Ag News for Monday, January 9th

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READ the NAFB’s National Ag News for Monday, January 9th

Trump Ag Adviser Wants Mergers Blocked

Iowa agribusiness leader Bruce Rastetter is a Republican mega-donor who wants the incoming Trump administration to block mergers in the works between large seed and chemical companies. The deals between Bayer and Monsanto, DuPont and Dow, along with ChemChina and Syngenta are worth billions of dollars. Rastetter tells the Des Moines Register that the deals will limit competition, raise costs for farmers, and stunt job growth. He adds, “These mergers would accomplish the opposite of what the President-elect ran on, and that’s greater opportunity in America.” Rastetter says the motivation behind the deals is a clear one: “To increase prices and production costs for producers.” He says the federal government’s long and costly approval process for new biotech products and patent licenses is the driving force behind these mergers. Rastetter will press the administration and Congress to focus on changing regulations to make it easier for small businesses to compete, thereby improving competition and choices in the marketplace. The Committee on Foreign Investments in the United State signed off on the ChemChina purchase of Syngenta last year but that deal still faces more scrutiny in other countries.


Smithfield Cutting Back on Gestation Crates

The world’s largest pork producer, Smithfield Foods, said this week they’ve moved 87 percent of their pregnant sows out of gestation crates to group housing. The company is also on track to eliminate all gestation crates by the end of this year. If the company can complete the transition, it would complete a ten-year plan that began back in 2007. The move is seen as a win for the Humane Society of the U.S., which has led successful ballot initiatives in nine states to outlaw the crates. However, the Humane Society is not satisfied with the progress. President Wayne Pacelle is happy with the reforms but notes that cruel treatment continues. Pacelle noted in a blog post, “While Smithfield is moving toward group housing, it’s still confining pregnant sows into cramped spaces for several weeks at the beginning of their pregnancies. This is cruel, and if sows must be individually housed for a period, there’s no reason to give them a space so small they can’t turn around.”


Syngenta Calls Palmer Amaranth No. 1 Weed to Watch For

Syngenta agronomists are calling last year’s most noxious weed, Palmer Amaranth, the number one weed to watch for in 2017. It’s continuing to spread north into new states and shows resistance to multiple herbicide modes of action. Palmer Amaranth has earned the title of top weed as it’s reduced soybean yields up to 79 percent and corn yields 91 percent. Palmer Amaranth was found in Minnesota for the first time last fall, coming a year after the first sighting in South Dakota. States are now confirming the spread of Palmer Amaranth that is resistant to multiple herbicides. Last October, the University of Missouri identified an infestation that was resistant to glyphosate and PPO inhibitors. The more producers apply a particular mode of action, the quicker Palmer Amaranth not only becomes resistant but spreads those resistant genes to other locations. Things producers can do to help slow the spread include regular mowing of ditches, waterways, and field borders. They should also meticulously clean machinery like combines. To delay or prevent growth in fields, producers need a program that integrates a portfolio of herbicides together with complementary practices like crop rotation.


Idaho Dairy Named in Human Trafficking Lawsuit

An Idaho dairy was named in a human trafficking lawsuit and the manager declined to comment on Thursday because he hadn’t yet seen the legal paperwork. An Associated Press report says six Mexican veterinarians filed the lawsuit against Funk Dairy in Boise Federal District Court. The six say they were recruited to work as animal scientists but were forced to work as general farm labor for about a year. Dairy Manager Curtis Giles said, “We care about our employees and make sure they’re taken care of in all aspects of their employment.” Giles is a defendant, along with dairy owner David Funk and immigration attorney Jeremy Pittard. The lawsuit says the veterinarians were forced to work as laborers despite holding professional worker visas, were given substandard housing, and lower pay than promised. They were also threatened with deportation if they didn’t do their jobs well. Pittard wouldn’t comment on the working conditions at the dairy but did say the operation has a good reputation in the area.           


Analyst Predicting $6 Soybeans in 2017

Soybean acres are predicted to rise as corn and wheat prices continue to struggle. Richard Brock of Brock and Associates in Chicago is predicting that planted acres will rise from 83 million this year to 87 million in 2017. That much of an increase would come with much more carryover. An Ag Web Dot Com article says the carryover stocks currently are 480 million bushels and Brock says that number could rise to 800 million bushels. He’s predicting that the biggest market movement next year will be soybeans heading lower. Brock’s forecast includes cash soybeans in Iowa around $6 a bushel and he calls this his “optimistic forecast.” Brock feels there are still opportunities ahead for producers, saying, “An opportunity is not necessarily just the market going up, but knowing which direction they’re going to go in and then taking advantage of that marketing.” He says it’ll be important to forward sell, aggressively price, and hedge your production and the producer who does that will have a big advantage over his neighbor who does nothing. 


Hemp Acres Rising in Kentucky

Testing is accelerating on hemp as a potential American cash crop, so Kentucky farmers are planning to produce up to three times more hemp than they did last year. The Kentucky State Department of Agriculture says it approved 209 grower applications this week. The approvals mean growers can produce up to 12,800 acres of hemp for research purposes this year. That’s a substantial jump from last year, as 137 growers were approved to plant up to 4,500 acres. The state of Kentucky has been out front in efforts to get hemp approved as a cash crop. Experimental projects began back in Kentucky during 2014 with the planting of 33 hemp acres. Growing hemp without a federal permit was banned in 1970 because it’s classified as a controlled substance related to marijuana. Hemp and marijuana are the same species, but the difference is hemp has a negligible amount of THC, which is the chemical compound that gives marijuana users their high.  

SOURCE: NAFB News Service