07-25-17 NAWG Testifies on Need for Strong Crop Insurance, Title I, and Credit Programs in the Farm Bill

NAWG - wheat_logoNAWG Testifies on Need for Strong Crop Insurance, Title I, and Credit Programs in the Farm Bill

Washington, D.C. (July 25, 2017) – Today, the Senate Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition, and Forestry held a hearing titled “Commodities, Credit, and Crop Insurance: Perspectives on Risk Management Tools and Trends for the 2018 Farm Bill.” NAWG President and Kansas farmer David Schemm testified to the Committee on the need for growers to have access to a strong safety net and risk management system.

“Between record low commodity prices, unfair trade practices in the global market, disease issues, and extreme weather, wheat farmers across the nation are experiencing the toughest economic conditions they have faced since the 1980s,” stated David Schemm, NAWG President and Sharon Springs, KS farmer. “Fortunately, programs authorized in the 2014 the Farm Bill, specifically crop insurance, have enabled farmers to be able to farm another year when prices collapse or disaster strikes.” Continue reading

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Multiple Rounds of NAFTA Negotiations Expected

A top official from Mexico expects between six to nine rounds of negotiations between the United States, Mexico and Canada on the North America Free Trade Agreement. Mexico’s Economy Minister said last week the NAFTA members were looking at avoiding gaps of more than three weeks between negotiating rounds with a view to making quick progress, according to Reuters. The three countries had already agreed to an aggressive timetable to broker a deal on NAFTA to avoid politicizing Mexico’s presidential election in July 2018. The first round of talks on renegotiating NAFTA is due to begin in Washington on August 16th.

Drought, Prices Weaken Rural Midwest Bankers’ Outlook

After rising to growth neutral for two straight months, the Creighton University Rural Mainstreet Index fell below the 50.0 threshold for July, according to the latest monthly survey of bank CEOs in 10 Midwestern states. The index, which ranges between 0 and 100, tumbled to 40.7, its lowest level since November of last year, and down from 50.0 in June. Organizer Ernie Goss says drought conditions and weak grain prices are to blame, as they have attributed negatively to economic conditions. For the month, the July farmland and ranchland-price index sank to 36.6 from June’s 40.0. The July farm equipment-sales index fell to 20.0 from 26.2 in June. Borrowing by farmers was very strong for July as the loan-volume index climbed to 81.5, the second highest reading on record, and up from 78.3 in June. Finally, the confidence index, which reflects expectations for the economy six months out, slumped to a weak 38.4 from 48.9 in June, indicating a continued pessimistic outlook among bankers.

Farm Groups Support Clovis Nomination

While some lawmakers have voiced concerns, agriculture groups Monday vocalized support for the nomination of Sam Clovis to a Department of Agriculture position. President Trump announced he would nominate Clovis to serve as the USDA undersecretary for research, education and economics, which also serves as the departments chief scientist. Senate Agriculture Committee ranking member Debbie Stabenow, Senate Appropriations Committee ranking member Patrick Leahy, and Senator Chris Coons, all Democrats, have questioned the nomination because Clovis does not have a scientific background. However, more than 20 agriculture groups signed a letter to Senate Agriculture Committee Chair Pat Roberts Monday expressing support for the nomination. The groups, including the National Council of Farmer Cooperatives and the American Farm Bureau Federation, said USDA already has lots of scientists, according to the Hagstrom Report. The letter stated: “They do not need a peer. They need someone to champion their work before the administration, the Congress, and all consumers around the world.”

Senate Committee Blocks E15 Bill

The Senate Environment and Public Works Committee has halted a bill that would have allowed gasoline with 15 percent ethanol to be sold year-round. The bill was co-sponsored by Republican Senators Deb Fischer of Nebraska and Chuck Grassley of Iowa, along with Democratic Senator Joe Donnelly of Indiana. Despite the bipartisan support, the legislation was unable to muster enough support in the committee. Committee leaders announced Friday that there would be no action on the bill before the August recess. It also remains unclear whether the legislation will be resurrected sometime in the fall. Ethanol groups say the fight for year-round E15 sales doesn’t end with the failure of support for the bill. Further, Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Scott Pruitt said in May that the EPA was working to determine whether the agency had the authority to allow year-round sales of E15 fuels.

Class Action Lawsuit Aimed at Monsanto Over Dicamba Spraying

A lawsuit filed last week accuses Monsanto sales representatives of secretly giving farmers assurances of using “off label” methods for a dicamba herbicide formulation. The St Louis Post-Dispatch reports the lawsuit claims: “This was Monsanto’s real plan: publicly appear as if it were complying, while allowing its seed representatives to tell farmers the opposite in person.” A Tennessee weed management expert, Larry Steckel, says in the suit that “it’s almost impossible” to follow label directions for dicamba-based herbicides, given the recent changes that have surfaced over drift allegations. Formulations were changed to dicamba-based herbicides following an outbreak of drift incidents last year to reduce volatility and drift. However, those changes have not seemed to slow reports of drifts problems in 2017. The suit says the defendants “actually benefit” from rampant drift, because it pressures farmers to adopt dicamba-tolerant seed to avoid damage. Monsanto and BASF indicated to the Post-Dispatch that they were aware of the suit but declined to comment on specific allegations. Both companies cited their efforts to educate growers about correct application of dicamba.

Shareholders File Class Action Suit Against Chipotle

A New York law firm last week announced it would lead a class action lawsuit against Chipotle by the company’s shareholders. The lawsuit was filed against Chipotle Mexican Grill and its officers, on behalf of shareholders who purchased Chipotle securities between February 5th, 2016, and July 19th, 2017. The class action seeks to recover damages for alleged violations of federal securities laws under the Securities Exchange Act of 1934. The suit alleges that Chipotle made false statements relating to the chains food quality and safety measures, following several occasions of illness outbreaks relating back to Chipotle restaurants. The most recent outbreak of norovirus originating from a Chipotle restaurant in Virginia, and a report of rats falling out of a Chipotle restaurant ceiling in Dallas, Texas, sparked the lawsuit. This is not the first time a class action suit was filed on behalf of Chipotle shareholders. A similar suit was filed in the wake of E. coli and norovirus outbreaks of 2015.

SOURCE: NAFB News Service