READ the NAFB’s National Ag News for Wednesday, June 28th

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READ the NAFB’s National Ag News for Wednesday, June 28th

EPA Sends WOTUS Repeal to Federal Register

Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Scott Pruitt told lawmakers Tuesday that the EPA has sent its repeal of the Waters of the U.S. rule to the federal register, beginning the process of ending the regulation. During a Senate budget hearing Tuesday, Pruitt told lawmakers the measure was being sent to the federal register the same day. The formal withdraw of the Obama-era rule follows through on a campaign promise by President Donald Trump, who signed an executive order requiring an EPA review of the rule. While the regulation went into effect in August of 2015, a federal court put the rule on hold. EPA intends to follow the federal rulemaking process in repealing the rule, meaning the process should take at least a year to repeal and replace. The notice of repeal by the EPA was met by celebration from agriculture groups, including the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association. NCBA President Craig Uden called the move a “step in the right direction,” while noting that the rule “isn’t dead yet.” NCBA and others have vowed to submit comments during the rulemaking process to rescind the rule.

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USDA Launches Reorganization Commission

The U.S. Department of Agriculture is kicking off efforts to reorganize the department. Politico reports that the department has launched a commission to reorganize, modernize and trim the department. The commission will form a plan to reform USDA, which will be based on Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue’s reorganization plan announced in May. The commission is part of a Trump Administration effort to reorganize federal agencies to “improve the efficiency, effectiveness, and accountability” of the executive branch. The commission for USDA includes officials from Secretary Perdue’s office and others within USDA serving as acting deputy undersecretaries. The effort is being coordinated by Donald Bice, the associate director of the Office of Budget and Program Analysis. A former USDA official told Politico that USDA has been working on the plans for weeks, since President Trump announced his budget proposal, saying “this is going to be a tough year at USDA.”

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Farm Groups Give NAFTA Testimony to USTR

Farm groups including the National Corn Growers Association, the American Farm Bureau and the U.S. Grains Council gave testimony Tuesday during hearings on the North American Free Trade Agreement. The farm groups told the U.S. Trade Representative’s office that concerns over the renegotiation effort have disrupted relationships with U.S. agriculture customers, and that a new NAFTA should protect the market gains agriculture has developed. U.S. Grains Council Chairman Chip Councell says buyers’ concerns in Mexico are translating into dollars lost in farm country. He says that the last several months have highlighted how important it is to maintain ta strong, stable relationship with U.S. trading partners. A representative of the American Farm Bureau Federation says a new NAFTA agreement must not only protect market gains, but build upon them. Colorado Farm Bureau President Don Shawcroft says: “A modernized NAFTA should at best eliminate, at worst reduce, barriers to trade that keep our farmers and ranchers from having a level playing field with our neighbors.” AFBF says that NAFTA renegotiations present a prime opportunity to address challenges fruit and vegetable farmers have faced with Mexico, as well as a chance for dairy, row crop and wheat farmers to settle issues with Canada.

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California to List Glyphosate as Cancer-Causing

Monsanto is vowing to continue its legal fight against California as the state will list glyphosate as a cancer-causing chemical. California will add glyphosate to its list of chemicals known to cause cancer on July 7th. The designation of glyphosate follows an unsuccessful attempt by Monsanto to block the listing in trial court and after requests for a stay were denied by a state appellate court and California’s Supreme Court, according to Reuters. Glyphosate is the main ingredient in Monsanto’s Roundup herbicide. The move by California follows a similar act by the World Health Organization’s International Agency for Research on Cancer that said glyphosate is “probably carcinogenic” in a controversial ruling in 2015. Listing glyphosate as a known carcinogen in California requires companies selling the chemical in the state to add warning labels to packaging. A spokesperson from Monsanto says “this is not the final step,” adding that Monsanto will “continue to aggressively challenge this improper decision.”

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Perdue, Branstad, to Celebrate U.S. Beef in China

Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue and U.S. Ambassador to China Terry Branstad will mark the return of U.S. beef to China this week. Friday, the duo will celebrate U.S. beef exports returning to China by traveling to the nation and ceremonially cut a prime rib that originated from Nebraska. Perdue and Branstad will attend events and meet with officials in China Friday and Saturday, in what marks the return of U.S. beef to China, banned from the nation since 2003. China has emerged as a major beef buyer in recent years, with imports increasing from $275 million in 2012 to $2.5 billion in 2016. The United States is the world’s largest beef producer and in 2016 was the world’s fourth-largest exporter, with global sales of more than $5.4 billion.

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Syngenta Announces Goals Following Merger

Syngenta is striving to strengthen its leadership position in crop protection and to become an ambitious number three in the agriculture seeds sector. In a news release this week, the company announced its priorities now that the takeover deal by ChemChina is complete. The company aims to profitably grow market share through organic growth and collaborations, and is considering targeted acquisitions with a focus on seeds. Syngenta CEO Erik Frywald calls ChemChina a stable owner who will help Syngenta achieve its ambition. Syngenta officials also said that Syngenta remains a standalone company. Syngenta and the state-owned ChemChina agreed to terms of the takeover in February of last year, valuing Syngenta at $43 billion.

SOURCE: NAFB News Service

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