READ the NAFB’s National Ag News for Thursday, June 29th

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READ the NAFB’s National Ag News for Thursday, June 29th

BPI Settles With ABC over Pink Slime Lawsuit

Beef Products Inc. and ABC News have reached a settlement in a lawsuit over ABC’s use of the term pink slime. Meat industry publication Meatingplace reports that no terms of the settlement have been disclosed, but BPI announced Wednesday morning that the company was “extraordinarily pleased” to have reached a settlement. ABC also released a statement, saying, “ABC has reached an amicable resolution of its dispute with the makers of lean finely textured beef.” BPI was suing the network and a lead reporter in a $1.9 billion case over ABC’s series of reports in spring 2012 that raised questions about lean finely textured beef’s suitability for human consumption. BPI closed three of four processing plants and laid off some 700 people in March 2012 after demand for lean finely textured beef plummeted.

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House Ag Budget Not Aligned with Trump Proposal

The House Agriculture Appropriations Subcommittee budget discussed Wednesday does not align with the budget proposal for agriculture by President Donald Trump. The bill totals $20 billion in discretionary funding, which is $876 million lower than the fiscal year 2017 enacted level and $4.64 billion above the president’s budget request, according to the Hagstrom Report. The bill allows for a total of $144.9 billion in both discretionary and mandatory funding, that’s $4.6 billion above the president’s request and $8.5 billion below the fiscal year 2017 level. In releasing the bill this week, the Committee said it “focuses funding on programs that bolster U.S. agriculture, support rural communities, maintain and promote food and drug safety, and provide nutrition for those in need.” The bill provides for $73.6 billion in required mandatory spending for the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, which is outside the discretionary funding jurisdiction of the Appropriations Committee for SNAP. That level is $4.87 billion below last year’s level and $2.6 million below the President’s budget request.

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USDA Seeking Public Input on GMO Labeling

The Department of Agriculture is seeking public input on GMO labeling. The USDA Agricultural Marketing Service posted 30 questions for the public this week regarding labeling food items containing genetically modified ingredients. The feedback, according to Politico, will help the agency develop a proposed rule governing how food manufacturers disclose when products contain genetically engineered ingredients. Questions include: What terms should be interchangeable with “bioengineering”; whether AMS should require disclosures for foods containing highly refined products, such as oils or sugars derived from bioengineered crops; and the amount of a bioengineered substance needed to deem it bioengineered. The GMO Labeling legislation passed by Congress last year gave USDA two years to finalize the regulation. USDA says it is preparing to release the rule later this year.

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Ag Industry Urges Trump to Appoint Full USDA Leadership Team

As President Donald Trump approaches the 200-day mark of his administration, more than a dozen agriculture organizations are urging him to move quickly to fill vacancies within the U.S. Department of Agriculture. A letter sent to the White House Wednesday by the National Corn Growers Association and other groups told the President that agriculture needs decision makers in place to serve farmers, ranchers and consumers. The groups noted the 55 percent decrease in farm income over the last three years. The organizations praised the selection of Sonny Perdue to lead USDA, but noted that the agency has more than 100,000 employees and needs a full leadership team. As the letters states: “The absence of high-ranking officials at USDA puts our farmers and ranchers at a disadvantage.” NCGA President Wesley Spurlock complimented Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue’s leadership, but says “It’s time to get a full leadership team in place.”

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Brazil Cattle Prices Stumble Following Meat Inspection Scandal

Cattle prices in Brazil are posting the biggest losses in a decade to start a year following this springs investigation into a meat inspection scandal. Bloomberg News reports that since the scandal, JBS SA, Brazil’s largest cattle buyer, is purchasing fewer cattle due to a financial squeeze on the company. Even worse, JBS no longer offers cash upon delivery of animals and instead asks to pay ranchers as much as 30 days later. The move has forced Brazil’s cattle futures to drop 17 percent this year. Producers fear they will not be paid for delivering cattle to JBS, and the meatpacker is using about 80 percent of its slaughtering capacity. However, volumes are improving, according to the company. JBS told Bloomberg News the downturn “has been predicted by several analysts since last year.” But further complicating the market is the U.S. ban on beef imported from Brazil. The nation is vowing to fight and end the ban, but the U.S. Department of Agriculture says the ban will not be lifted until food safety standards are met.

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Hampton Creek Pledges to Market Lab-grown Meat by 2019

A leader in the vegan food industry claims lab-grown meat will be on the market by the end of next year. Hampton Creek, the company behind vegan mayonnaise and cookie dough revealed this week it has been secretly developing technology to produce lab-made meat and seafood, or as they call it, “clean meat.” Business Insider reports that if Hampton Creek lives up to its timeline, it would beat its competitors to the market by three years. California-based startup Memphis Meats, which has raised at least $3 million, is the only other company that has said it will go to market, and not until 2021. By contrast, Hampton Creek has raised more than $120 million to develop the lab-made meats.

SOURCE: NAFB News Service

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