READ the NAFB’s National Ag News for Monday, June 26th

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READ the NAFB’s National Ag News for Monday, June 26th

Syngenta Ordered to Pay Farmers Over $200 Million

A federal jury has ordered Swiss giant Syngenta to pay $217.7 million to Kansas farmers after a verdict was announced this week at a trial in Kansas City. The class action lawsuit was brought because of the Viptera line of corn seed Syngenta began selling to farmers in 2011. At the time, Sygenta hadn’t received Chinese approval of the trait (MIR162) within the seed that gave it insect resistance. China began rejecting U.S. grain shipments in 2013 because it detected the unapproved trait in corn. China would go on to approve the trait in 2014 but farmers contended the damage had been done because of lower corn prices and lost sales. The plaintiffs contend that the China rejection led to grower losses of more than $5 billion. The trial featured four Kansas farmers representing more than 7,000 across the state. Syngenta issued a statement saying they were disappointed with the verdict “because it will only serve to deny American farmers access to future technologies, even when they’re approved in the U.S.” The release said the case is without merit and Syngenta will be moving forward with an appeal. Class action lawsuits have been approved in several other states, including Arkansas, Missouri, Illinois, Iowa, Nebraska, Ohio, and South Dakota.


Groups React to Brazil Beef Announcement

Ag groups are weighing in on Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue’s announcement that the U.S. has suspended all fresh beef imports from Brazil due to safety concerns. National Cattlemen’s Beef Association President Craig Uden supports the move to suspend Brazilian imports because it’s a result of USDA’s science-based testing protocol of imported beef. “This proves our food safety system works effectively,” Uden says. “NCBA supports science-based trade and keeping our food supply safe.” Leo McDonnell, U.S. Cattlemen’s Association Trade Committee Chair, says his group also supports the decision to suspend the imports. “Since March, the Food Safety and Inspection Service has refused entry on 11 percent of Brazilian beef imports,” McDonnell says. “It’s for that reason the USCA remains adamantly opposed to the imports of Brazilian beef products.” House Ag Committee Chair Mike Conaway says halting imports from Brazil is an appropriate and necessary measure as Brazilian officials work to correct the situation. National Farmers Union President Roger Johnson says his group has had concerns about Brazilian beef imports for a long time. Johnson says overseas beef scandals can undermine consumer confidence in the entire beef industry, risking American producers’ bottom lines.


Sanderson Farms Sued Over Drugs in Poultry

Three of the bigger activist groups filed suit against Sanderson Farms, a major poultry-producing company. Politico’s Morning Ag Report says the Organic Consumers Association, Friends of the Earth, and Center for Food Safety all allege that the company is guilty of false advertising. Sanderson Farms’ chicken is marketed as 100 percent natural. The groups say the chicken contains a range of unnatural and even banned substances. The groups point to recent testing by USDA as proof of their accusations, saying the tests found 49 instances in which samples of the company’s products tested positive for synthetic drug residue. The groups say in their lawsuit, “33 percent of 69 FSIS inspections, conducted in five states, found residues that no consumer would consider natural.” The groups highlighted a number of the study’s findings, including 11 instances of antibiotics that are also used in human medicine, as well as some that are prohibited for use in animals. The groups say some of the products also tested positive for a steroid as well as growth promoters, all of which shouldn’t be in ‘100 percent natural’ products.


Maine Takes Lead in Food Sovereignty Movement

Maine Governor Paul LePage recently signed a bill into law that affirms the rights of cities and towns to regulate local food production in their areas. A Press Herald Dot Com report says that makes Maine the second state in the U.S. to allow consumers to buy products directly from farmers and food producers that haven’t been inspected or licensed by state or federal regulators. The ‘food sovereignty movement’ aims to promote freedom in food choices for consumers who are willing to forgo food safety regulations. The law means a neighbor can stop by a dairy farm and by a gallon of unprocessed milk, even if the farmer doesn’t have the milk inspected or licensed by the state. If that neighbor trusts the farmer and is willing to take the risk of buying unprocessed products, they’re free to do so. However, some groups say it’s going to put consumers at risk. The Maine Cheese Guild opposed the bill, with former president Eric Rector testifying against it. The group is worried that someone runs the risk of getting sick from Maine cheese, thereby tainting the entire cheese industry, which is currently thriving in Maine.


Minnesota Still Engaging With Cuba Despite Setback

Minnesota’s government and businesses are actively engaging in Cuba in areas like agricultural trade. This is despite a rollback in trade relations by U.S. President Donald Trump. Reuters reports that Minnesota Lieutenant Governor Tina Smith is leading a trade delegation to the country as the first state representative to make a trip since Trump undid an Obama-era move to normalize trade relations between the countries. Smith feels there’s no question the move by Trump was a setback, saying, “The important thing for me is support remains at the federal level for normalizing and modernizing the relationship.” Minnesota is one of the biggest farming states in the U.S. and Smith hopes the trip will improve ties with Cuba and promote Minnesota exports. U.S. ag groups have criticized Trump’s move to restrict travel to and business dealings with Cuba, saying it could derail a huge growth in agricultural exports that totaled $221 million last year. While ag exports aren’t prevented by U.S. law, rules on how to do transactions have made it extremely difficult and expensive. Cuba invited the Minnesota delegation to a trade show later in the year, Smith said, while Minnesota invited Cuban officials to visit.


Arkansas Dicamba Ban Passes

A roller coaster ride for Dicamba in the state of Arkansas came to an end on Friday (today) when the Arkansas State Plant Board voted to recommend an emergency ban of Dicamba. The ban applies to Engenia products for the remainder of this crop season. The Xtendimax technology had already been banned in January of this year. An earlier vote of 8-6 to ban dicamba was overturned on a procedural error on June 20th. The Plant Board upheld the original 8-6 vote in favor of a 120-day emergency order requiring all dicamba use to come to an end. The ASPB has received 242 complaints of dicamba misuse. The dicamba ban would have exemptions for rangeland and pasture uses. To go into effect, the ban would have to be signed by Arkansas Governor Asa (Ay’-sah) Hutchinson. If the governor signs off on the recommendation, it then needs approval by the Executive Subcommittee of the Arkansas Legislative Council to be enacted. Both are expected to act within days.

SOURCE: NAFB News Service