READ the NAFB’s National Ag News for Thursday, April 6th

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READ the NAFB’s National Ag News for Thursday, April 6th

***UPDATED- 6:00am MDT*** Majority Leader Schedules Vote for Perdue April 24

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has placed a time for debate and a vote for the confirmation of Agriculture Secretary Nominee Sonny Perdue. The vote is scheduled for 5:30 p.m. April 24th, after what’s expected to be a couple of hours of debate. The Senate Periodical Gallery confirmed the vote, saying McConnell added it to the schedule as a unanimous consent request, according to the Hagstrom Report. The schedule puts to rest any speculation a vote could be held yet this week, as the Senate is stuck in a political battle over Supreme Court Justice nominee Neil Gorsuch. The vote is scheduled for the first day back for the Senate following a two-week recess. The vote comes 13 weeks after Perdue was nominated by President Donald Trump. (This story updates the previous version below.)

Perdue Vote Could be Stalled Until May (Story above replaces this one)

It’s been nearly 11 weeks since President Donald Trump nominated Sonny Perdue as Agriculture Secretary, and a partisan brawl in the Senate will push the wait into early April, or late May. While it is still possible that leaders could strike an eleventh-hour deal for a quick vote to confirm Perdue sometime soon, the odds are becoming minimal. House Agriculture leaders have asked the Senate to make time for a vote on Perdue’s nomination this week, and Senate Agriculture Chairman Pat Roberts is seeking a voice vote with little or no debate, but the battle of Supreme Court nominee Neil Gorsuch is taking up any real estate left on the Senate schedule. Democrats are filibustering the nomination, while Republicans remain determined to confirm Gorsuch before the end of the week, and a two-week recess. The Atlanta Journal-Constitution writes Perdue will likely need to wait until late April or even early May to take his post at the Department of Agriculture. That’s because when Senators return after recess, they will have five workdays to fend off a partial government shutdown.

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Lawmakers Asking Trump to Talk Beef with China’s President

A group of legislators are pressing the White House to raise the issue of U.S. beef trade with China when President Donald Trump meets with Chinese President Xi (she) Jinping (today) Thursday. A group of 39 Senators, including Senate Agriculture Committee Chairman Pat Roberts, have penned a letter to President Trump, asking him to raise the issue of U.S. beef access to Chinese markets. China has recently become the fastest growing beef market in the world, but U.S. producers have not had the opportunity to access the market since 2003. The effort was led by Montana Republican Senator Steve Daines. In the letter, the Senators say: “Opening this market to U.S. producers would create substantial opportunities for ranchers across the country.” The letter points out that China’s beef import market is worth more than $2.5 billion and is the second largest importer of beef in the world.

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Seed Demand Prompts First Half Gains for Monsanto

Monsanto this week announced increased sales and profits for the first half of its current fiscal year. Monsanto’s net sales for the second quarter increased to approximately $5.1 billion, up from $4.5 billion in the prior year period. Gross profit for the quarter also increased over the prior year to $3.0 billion versus $2.6 billion. For the first six months, net sales increased to $7.7 billion, and gross profit was $4.2 billion, significantly outpacing the first half of fiscal year 2016. The company says the performance was driven in part by strong gross profit growth from its corn and soybean businesses. For Roundup Ready 2 Xtend soybeans, Monsanto says it is expected to reach 18 million acres in the United States this year. A similar Monsanto product is anticipated to expand to 45 to 55 million acres in South America. In referring to the Monsanto-Bayer merger, Monsanto CEO Hugh Grant said in a statement that Monsanto’s “innovation and unique platform advantages” position the company to meet future challenges and makes Monsanto an “attractive, complementary partner for Bayer.”

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EU Approves ChemChina-Syngenta Deal

The European Union has approved the $43 billion takeover of Syngenta by ChemChina, just a day after receiving U.S. approval. Bloomberg reports the EU approval is conditional on ChemChina’s offer to divest “a significant part” of its Adama unit’s pesticide business, some generic pesticides the unit is developing, a plant growth regulator and some of Syngenta’s pesticides along with related assets and personnel. The U.S. Federal Trade Commission said Tuesday that it was requiring the companies to divest three types of pesticides in the U.S. as a condition for completing their deal. Meanwhile, American Vanguard said it struck a deal with Adama to acquire three crop protection product lines. The companies expect to close the deal by the end of June this year.

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USDA Announces Grants to Relieve Veterinarian Shortages

The Department of Agriculture announced this week $2.4 million in funding to help relieve veterinarian shortages and support veterinary services. The funding, through USDA’s National Institute of Food and Agriculture, supports development, implementation, and sustainability of veterinary services to relieve veterinarian shortages in the United States through the Veterinary Services Grant Program. The program is part of the 2014 farm bill and was created to establish or expand accredited veterinary education programs, and to provide continuing education for veterinarians. Eligibility and deadline information is available at NIFA dot USDA dot gov (www.nifa.usda.gov).

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California Farm Groups Opposing State Gas Tax Proposal

Agriculture groups in California are banding together in opposition to a tax proposal that would raise taxes on gas and increase vehicle fees. The proposed tax included in a California Senate bill seeks the increases to pay for road repairs. However, a coalition of agriculture groups, including the Western Growers Association and several state commodity and livestock groups, say the tax will be a burden on struggling farming operations without greatly expanding the capacity of roads to transport goods. The coalition sent a letter to lawmakers in the state explaining that the proposal will dramatically increase transportation costs for farmers, ranchers, food processors and agricultural suppliers, according to the LA Times. Regarding vehicle fees, the letter states: “Unlike the diesel and gasoline tax, increased input costs cannot be passed to consumers by farmers and ranchers and as such must be absorbed with no added value.” California is the nation’s top food-producing state, accounting for roughly $47 billion in agricultural production in 2015.

SOURCE: NAFB News Service

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