READ the NAFB’s National Ag News for Monday, May 8th

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READ the NAFB’s National Ag News for Monday, May 8th

Record Volume for U.S. Pork Exports in March, Beef Exports Remain Strong

The U.S. Meat Export Federation says pork and beef exports posted strong first quarter results this year, reaching a new record volume for pork. Pork exports reached 227,000 metric tons in March, up 16 percent year-over-year and topping the previous monthly high set in November 2016. Export value was $586.6 million, up 22 percent. For the first quarter, pork exports were up 17 percent in volume and 22 percent in value. Beef exports totaled 105,000 metric tons in March, up 18 percent year-over-year, with value increasing 22 percent to $588.2 million. First-quarter beef exports were up 15 percent in volume at 292,000 metric tons and 19 percent in value at $1.61 billion. USMEF President and CEO Philip Seng stated in response to the export numbers: “The U.S. is not just moving more meat internationally because we have more available. Our products are commanding solid prices and winning back market share in many key destinations.”


Large School Districts Not Relaxing School Meal Standards

Seven of the largest school districts in the United States will not relax school meal standards that Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue announced changes to last week. Seven school districts organized as the Urban School Food Alliance — New York City, Los Angeles, Chicago, Dallas, Miami-Dade County Florida, Orange County of Orlando, Florida, and Broward County of Fort Lauderdale, Florida, — will continue to reduce sodium levels, increase the percentage of whole-grain rich foods to 100 percent and serve only nonfat flavored milk rather than one percent milk, according to the Hagstrom Report. The schools have a combined enrollment of 3.1 million students and spend more than $590 million a year on food and food supplies. The schools joined to tell food companies that they wanted, for example, antibiotic-free chicken and lunch trays that could be composted.

Senate Bill Would Protect Farmworkers

A bill introduced last week in the U.S. Senate would give farmworkers a path to legal status and citizenship. California Senators, Democrats Dianne Feinstein and Kamala Harris, introduced the legislation last week that would shield farmworkers who are in the country illegally from deportation and create a path to citizenship, according to the L.A. Times. Feinstein says “farm labor is performed almost exclusively by undocumented immigrants,” adding there aren’t enough workers in her state. The bill is also backed by senators from Colorado, Vermont and Hawaii, but there’s been no broad talk in Congress of reforming immigration laws this year. The legislation would allow undocumented farmworkers who have worked in agriculture for at least 100 days in each of the previous two years to earn a “blue card,” which would allow them to work legally. They would eventually be eligible for a green card or legal permanent residency, which opens the door to earning citizenship.


Avian Influenza Found in Mexico

The World Organization for Animal Health reports that highly contagious H7N3 avian influenza was confirmed Thursday at a farm in west-central Mexico. The virus was discovered in a flock of 15,000 birds that had been vaccinated and did not show any clinical signs of the disease, according to agriculture officials in Mexico. Reuters reports that the farm is under quarantine and the birds were sent to a nearby slaughterhouse. Mexico’s agriculture sanitation authority said the outbreak occurred in the same area where the virus was detected in 2012 and was discovered as part of a supervision program aimed at freeing the country of the disease. In March, a highly pathogenic strain of bird flu was found in a chicken breeder flock on a Tennessee farm contracted to Tyson Foods Inc, the first discovered in the United States this year. Different strains of avian flu have been detected across Asia, Europe, Africa and in the United States in recent months, leading to the culling of millions of birds.


ChemChina Secures Shareholder Approval of Syngenta Takeover

State-owned ChemChina has secured its takeover of Syngenta after more than 80 percent of Syngenta shareholders approved the acquisition. The Financial Times reports 80.7 percent of shares had been tendered by the end of the offer period on Thursday evening, above the 67 percent minimum required for the deal to go ahead. The $43 billion deal, announced more than a year ago, cleared the final two main hurdles earlier this month when it won U.S. and European Union regulatory approval. The agreed offer is for $465 per share. The transaction is set to close May 18th after the start of an additional acceptance period for shareholders and payment of special dividends to holders of Swiss-listed shares. ChemChina has said it will keep Syngenta’s headquarters in Switzerland.


Canada Offers Potential U.S. Ethanol Export Growth

With Canada seeking to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 20 megatons by 2030, the U.S. ethanol industry is eager to help Canada reach the goal. The U.S. Grains Council says the U.S. ethanol industry last month visited Canada to tout U.S. ethanol. The industry also commented on the proposed Canadian Clean Fuel Standard. Canada has an existing national blending mandate of five percent in place and is already an important market for U.S. ethanol exports, thanks in part to the North American Free Trade Agreement. One-third of all U.S. ethanol exports are destined for Canada, making it the top export market for U.S. ethanol for the past four marketing years. Doubling the national blending mandate to 10 percent, as the U.S. ethanol industry is suggesting, however, would provide additional opportunities for U.S. ethanol export sales.

SOURCE: NAFB News Service