READ the NAFB’s National Ag News for Monday, August 14th

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READ the NAFB’s National Ag News for Monday, August 14th

Midwest Farm Economy Possibly Stabilizing

Recent data from the Kansas City Federal Reserve Bank Survey of Agricultural Credit Conditions suggests conditions in the farm sector may be stabilizing. Agricultural credit conditions weakened further in the second quarter of 2017, but the pace of deterioration has slowed. Although the rate of which farm loans are being repaid continued to decrease, the change from a year ago was not as sharp as in recent years. Only 37 percent of bankers in the survey reported a decrease in repayment rates from a year ago, the lowest share since mid-2015. Farmland values continued to trend lower alongside the reductions in farm income and weaker credit conditions, but the changes have remained modest. With the fall harvest approaching, agricultural lenders and borrowers remain concerned about prospects for the farm economy in the Midwest, particularly in regions with limited potential for high crop yields. However, bankers were generally less pessimistic about economic conditions in the farm sector in the second quarter than in each of the past two years.

Farm machinery Stocks Drop After USDA Reports

Last week’s Department of Agriculture crop reports sent stocks of farm machinery companies lower. USDA on Thursday reported higher than expected crop yields in the August round of crop reports, which includes key yield speculations. Following the report stocks of Agco and Deere dropped roughly 2.5 percent each. CNH Industrial, the manufacture of Case and New Holland, dropped 1.5 percent on the report day. With elevated crop surpluses decreasing farmer purchasing power, machinery sales in North America have fallen in the past three years, according to the Wall Street Journal. All crop yields except corn have collectively increased since 2016, according to the USDA report Thursday. While corn production dropped seven percent from 2016, soybean production rose two percent, cotton production 20 percent, and winter wheat production one percent higher than its July forecast.

ABC/Disney Settlement with BPI Worth More Than $177 Million

The settlement between Disney, the parent company of ABC News, and BPI, or Beef Products Inc, is worth more than $177 million. The terms of the settlement agreement are not disclosed. However, last week Disney disclosed a charge of $177 million, “net of committed insurance recoveries,” incurred in connection with the settlement of litigation, during a quarterly finance report. South Dakota-based BPI sued ABC for $1.9 billion over its 2012 coverage of lean finely textured beef, including its use of the term “pink slime” to describe the product. BPI saw an 80 percent reduction in the company’s business by the time the ABC reports ended. BPI was forced to lay off about 750 workers as it closed production lines in Iowa, Kansas and Texas. An attorney for BPI told meat industry publication Meatingplace: “As Disney disclosed, $177 million is not the total settlement amount. Based on Disney’s disclosure, it appears that Disney is funding $177 million of the settlement and its insurers are paying the rest.”
Report Shows Shift to Legal Farm Labor

A new report by the nonpartisan Migration Policy Institute finds the number of undocumented farm workers dropped over a 14-year period. Between 2000 and 2014, the report says undocumented workers in the agricultural sector dropped from 55 percent to 47 percent. The report analyzed data from the U.S. Department of Labor’s National Agricultural Worker Survey and said the labor shift was largely caused by a decline in illegal immigration from Mexico after the 2008 recession. Politico says that many of the migrant farm workers now in the United States have been here for some time and have settled with their families. The report also found that U.S. farm workers are now mostly Mexican-born men, and that half of farm workers received Medicaid, food stamps or other benefits in 2014.

Vilsack Helping Create Support for Democrats in Middle America

Former Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack is dedicating some of his time in trying to help the Democratic party gain support in middle America. ABC News reports Vilsack is part of a group called New Democracy, which includes sitting and former governors, along with others. Will Marshall, the Democratic policy veteran who is running the group, says the group plans to form affiliated political action committees to endorse and raise money for candidates. Marshall, who helped run a similar effort for Democrats like Bill Clinton in the 1980s, says economic policy arguments should rise above party struggles. An example, he said, is highlighting Trump’s more isolationist trade policy and how it is steering foreign partners away from U.S. agriculture. Marshall says: “This is coming home to roost in rural America,” adding ” we need to talk about that the right way and in the right places.”

Soybean Association Addresses Dicamba Use

The American Soybean Association released a statement last week on dicamba use and dicamba-related damage to soybean crops. ASA President Ron Moore says ASA is invested in bringing all parties together to find answers and solutions. In his statement, Moore says the first step in the process is for all parties to determine whether the reported damage is from dicamba or other potential causes. If injury from dicamba spray is indeed the root cause, he says, farmers next need to understand how the damage happened. Moore says” “We need all parties at the table to establish answers to these and other questions so that proper action can be taken to both protect crops, and protect access to this technology. He says the discussion is larger than one specific product, saying farmers need and want new modes of action for wee control, but also “need assurance that their own and their neighbors’ crops aren’t going to be damaged as a result of normal and label-compliant product use.”

SOURCE: NAFB News Service