READ the NAFB’s National Ag News for Wednesday, May 10th

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READ the NAFB’s National Ag News for Wednesday, May 10th

White House Staffer Called Canada to Sway Trump on NAFTA

A White House staffer reportedly called an official in Canada last month to ask the nation to persuade President Donald Trump to not terminate the North American Free Trade Agreement. Multiple media outlets say the call came when Trump was preparing an executive order to end the free trade agreement between the U.S., Canada and Mexico. White House staff apparently asked for Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau (True-doh) to call President Trump to persuade him not to terminate NAFTA. The call is one of many steps thought to change Trump’s decision on NAFTA to renegotiate the deal, rather than terminate the agreement. Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue also met with the President at the time and presented a map showing the economic harm terminating the deal may have on U.S. agriculture. Perdue, meanwhile, said over the weekend that NAFTA could be renegotiated within the next six months.

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Global Food Prices Fall for Third Consecutive Month

The latest measure of global food prices indicates another month of decline. The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nation’s monthly report released this week showed a 1.8 percent decline in April, compared to food prices in May. The FAO Food Price Index, however, is still 10 percent higher than year-ago levels. The Index consists of the average of five commodity group price indices, weighted with the average export shares of each of the groups for 2002-2004. Prices for cereal crops were down 1.2 percent compared to March, and the Vegetable Oil Price Index dropped 3.9 percent. Dairy prices fell 3.3 percent in April, representing the second straight month of decline. Meat prices edged higher in April, up 1.8 percent from March, and the Sugar Price Index dropped 9.1 percent in April, compared to the month prior.

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USDA Announces Delay, Reconsideration of Organic Livestock Rule

The Department of Agriculture Tuesday announced it would delay implementation of the final Organic Livestock Standards rule until November 14th, 2017. The rule was published in January in the final days of the Obama administration, and USDA is taking an additional six months to allow time for further consideration. The effective date for this rule was initially March 20th, 2017, and was subsequently delayed to May 19th, 2017, by a document published in the Federal Register in February. The final rule amends the organic livestock and poultry production requirements by adding new provisions for livestock handling and transport for slaughter and avian living conditions, and expands and clarifies existing requirements covering livestock care and production practices and living conditions. Comments may be submitted to USDA until June 9th, 2017 online at Regulations dot gov (www.regulations.gov).

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Another Study Calls Dairy Fats OK

Another study suggests that dairy fats do not increase the risk of heart attacks and strokes. The Study, published in the European Journal of Epidemiology, concluded that consumption of dairy fats had a “neutral” effect on human health. A researcher leading the study at England’s Reading University said: “There’s been a lot of publicity over the last five to ten years about how saturated fats increase the risk of cardiovascular disease and a belief has grown up that they must increase the risk, but they don’t.” The study combined other research projects from the last 35 years that involved more than 900,000 people. The study says no associations were found that led them to believe consumption of dairy fats led to increased risks of mortality or heart disease. The research instead suggested that fermented dairy products may actually lower the risk of having a heart attack or stroke. The study is one of many recent research projects that have determined dairy fats are good for humans, reversing previous thinking by the scientific community. 

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Robotic Apple Picker a labor Solution for Orchards

A robotic apple picker is inching closer to commercialization and possible relief from labor issues for the nation’s apple growers. Abundant Robotics is in the process of perfecting a prototype that can pick one apple every one to two seconds, possibly giving the apple industry a solution to labor challenges. Company leaders tell Farm Journal’s AgWeb that the goal is to have the product ready in time for the 2018 harvest. The company has spent the last few years working on the prototype machines that use a robotic arm and vision system that can recognize apples with 95 percent accuracy. The machines use vacuum force to pluck the apples from the tree, as to not bruise or cut the fruit. However, the machine will need to pick faster and longer than humans to succeed, according to the company. Orchards generate around $200 billion of fresh fruit each year, but manual labor needs have remained unchanged for the past century.

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U.S. on Path to Sustainable Commercial Fishing Waters

A new report by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration shows the U.S. is “on the right track” when it comes to sustainably managing fisheries. The report, which researchers in detail the 2015 fishing season, says U.S. commercial and recreational fishing generated $208 billion in sales, contributed $97 billion to the gross domestic product and supported 1.6 million full- and part-time jobs in 2015. In 2016, U.S. fisheries continued to rebuild, with the number of stocks on the overfishing and overfished lists remaining near all-time lows. A NOAA official says rebuilding and keeping the fishing stocks at a sustainable level will help the U.S. “address the growing challenge of increasing our nation’s seafood supply.”

SOURCE: NAFB News Service

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