READ the NAFB’s National Ag News for Thursday, July 27th

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READ the NAFB’s National Ag News for Thursday, July 27th

NCBA Warns Congress on COOL

The National Cattlemen’s Beef Association warned lawmakers Wednesday not to resurrect Country of Origin Labeling for meat through North American Free Trade Agreement renegotiations. NCBA CEO Kendal Frazier told the House Agriculture Committee that if the Trump administration gave COOL new life in NAFTA, trade retaliations would be imminent. Canada and Mexico have been two of America’s top five export markets for beef, with approximately $1 billion each in annual sales. COOL was a law for six years, as Frazier told lawmakers it “failed to deliver” on its intention of building consumer confidence and adding value for producers. The World Trade Organization authorized Canada and Mexico to create retaliatory tariffs of more than $1 billion unless repealed. Congress repealed COOL in 2015, but Canada and Mexico still have the authority to retaliate against the United States if COOL is brought back into effect.


Grain, Ethanol Groups, Applaud Brazil Tariff Delay

U.S. grain and ethanol groups applauded Brazil’s announcement to delay a tariff on U.S. ethanol imports. Brazil announced this week it would impose a 30-day delay of a decision on a pending proposal to impose a 20 percent tariff on U.S. ethanol imports. The proposal would allow 500 million liters, or 132.1 million gallons, annually of U.S. ethanol imports before triggering the tariff. In a joint statement, the U.S. Grains Council, Growth Energy and the Renewable Fuels Association said they were “encouraged” by the postponement. The groups say the proposed action on U.S. ethanol imports will go against Brazil’s longstanding view that ethanol tariffs are inappropriate and will harm the development of the global ethanol industry.

Clovis Nomination Sent to the Senate

The White House has sent the U.S. Senate the presidents nomination of Sam Clovis to a top Department of Agriculture post. The Senate confirmed this week it received President Trump’s nomination of Clovis as the USDA undersecretary for research, education and economics, according to the Hagstrom Report. The nomination is coming under some scrutiny, as Senate Agriculture top Democrat Debbie Stabenow questioned his merits to serve as the USDA chief scientist, and his comments against crop insurance. In 2013, Clovis commented that he thought crop insurance was unconstitutional. Those comments would be a “nonstarter” to the leadership of the Senate Agriculture Committee, whose chairman said they would like to know why he said that. It does not, however, appear to be an issue for farm groups. 20 farm and agriculture groups offered their support for Clovis in a letter earlier this week.

Antitrust Institute, NFU, Say Monsanto-Bayer Merger Puts Farmers at Risk

The American Antitrust Institute, along with Food & Water Watch and the National Farmers Union penned a letter to the Department of Justice denouncing the Monsanto-Bayer merger. The groups say the deal would likely harm competition, farmers and consumers. The letter notes that the merger would complete a sweeping restructuring of the agricultural biotechnology industry, creating the “Big 3” companies where just two years ago, there were six major rivals. Roger Johnson, NFU’s president, pointed out that the merger is likely to affect not only the markets for genetically-modified seed, but also for important non-genetically modified, or “conventional” seed. Johnson says: “Farmers want and deserve choice in what they plant, with seed that is appropriate to their region and climate.” The letter notes that over time, firms have cut back on their conventional seed offerings, making it more difficult and costly for farmers to secure appropriate seed.

EWG Study Finds High Nitrate Levels in Rural Drinking Water Systems

The Environmental Working Group says rural water systems have high levels of nitrates. A new report and database released by EWG this week found that the 30 utilities with the distinction of the highest nitrate contamination in tests between 2010 and 2015 all exceeded the legal limit. And all 30 served small populations in rural, farm-based economies, according to Politico. The research says that nitrates, a chemical from animal waste or agricultural fertilizers, was detected in more than 1,800 water systems in 2015, serving seven million people in 48 states above the level that research by the National Cancer Institute shows increases the risk of cancer – a level just half of the federal government’s legal limit for nitrate in drinking water. EWG’s recently released national Tap Water Database allows users to search by zip code and learn about tap water quality. EWG researchers spent the last two years collecting data from state agencies and the EPA for drinking water tests conducted from 2010 to 2015 by 48,712 water utilities in all 50 states and D.C.

Study Claims to Find Glyphosate in Ben &Jerry’s Ice Cream

The Organic Consumers Association claims it found traces of glyphosate in 10 of 11 samples of Ben & Jerry’s Ice Cream. The detected levels were far below the ceiling set by the Environmental Protection Agency. Among the flavors tested, Ben & Jerry’s Chocolate Fudge Brownie showed the highest levels of glyphosate, with 1.74 parts per billion. However, such amounts might seem insignificant. John Fagan, the chief executive of the Health Research Institute Laboratories, which did the testing for the Organic Consumers Association, calculated that a 75-pound child would have to consume 145,000 eight-ounce servings a day of Ben & Jerry’s Chocolate Fudge Brownie ice cream to hit the limit set by the EPA. Still, a Ben & Jerry’s spokesperson told the New York Times the company was working to ensure that all the ingredients in its supply chain come from sources that do not include genetically modified organisms, saying “We’re working to transition away from GMO as far away as we can get.” Monsanto labeled the research “bad science” and the rehashing of a study done five years earlier.