READ the NAFB’s National Ag News for Thursday, September 28th

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READ the NAFB’s National Ag News for Thursday, September 28th

Farm Bureau Reacts to Tax Reform Framework

The American Farm Bureau Federation says tax reform framework released Wednesday includes important principles for agriculture. Farm Bureau President Zippy Duvall said in a statement that AFBF was encouraged by the inclusion of lower tax rates for individuals who own businesses, elimination of the death tax and some business interest deductibility. However, AFBF says any tax reform package should also include the continuation of cash accounting and like-kind exchanges, unlimited stepped-up basis and lower capital gains taxes. President Trump announced the tax reform framework at the Farm Bureau building at the Indiana State Fairgrounds. Meanwhile, the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association welcomed the tax plan, saying cattle producers are “very pleased” with the President’s plan.

South Korea Trade Representative Meets with U.S. Lawmakers

South Korea’s Trade minister is meeting with lawmakers in Washington, D.C. this week, ahead of a meeting with U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer next month. Lighthizer will meet with Korea next month to discuss a “path forward” for KORUS, The U.S.-Korea Free Trade Agreement. Korea’s Trade Minister has met with agriculture sector lawmakers, including Nebraska Republican Deb Fischer, to discuss KORUS, along with Iowa’s Chuck Grassley, according to Politico. Fischer maintained support for KORUS, “because of the great economic benefits it provides” agriculture. South Korea will host the next trade meeting with the U.S. on October 4th. The Trump administration is seeking to amend the five-year-old deal to address the country’s growing deficit in trade with South Korea.

Syngenta Reaches Settlement in Viptera Case

Syngenta has reached a settlement with farmers involved in lawsuits over the launch of Syngenta’s Agrisure Viptera and Agrisure Duracade corn traits. The lawsuits alleged Syngenta’s release of traits unapproved in China led the nation to reject U.S. corn shipments and pushed corn prices lower. The settlement is estimated to be close to $1.5 billion, according to Reuters. The settlement does not apply to lawsuits filed by U.S. grain handlers Archer Daniels Midland and Cargill against Syngenta. Further, cases brought by farmers in Canada are also still pending. Syngenta says the proposed settlement would allow both sides to avoid the uncertainty of ongoing litigation.  Lawyers representing corn farmers in the federal litigation confirmed what they called a “preliminary settlement framework.” Syngenta has denied any wrongdoing in the case.

Ireland Tops U.S. in Food Security

For the first time, the United States has dropped from the top spot in a global ranking of how well countries can feed their own people. A new ranking shows Ireland now as the world’s most food secure nation, with the U.S. the second most food secure nation. Bloomberg reports the drop in food security for the U.S. can be attributed to concerns about agricultural research spending and government policy trends, which may make the world’s top food exporter a less-certain place to get a meal. Researchers for the Global Food Security Index say Ireland has improved its food affordability, availability, quality and safety over the last year. When including climate as a factor of food security, the U.S. fell even further to fourth on the list. This is the sixth annual ranking of food security by the Economist Intelligence Unit, a London-based economics group. Overall, global food security declined for the first time in five years, largely because of increases in the number of refugees, weather disasters and a decline in global political stability.

BPI Using Settlement Funds to Help Employees

Owners of Beef Products Inc. have established a $10 million fund to benefit former BPI employees impacted by plant closures. The fund will help employees who were laid off when sales dropped stemming from a series of reports about the company’s Lean Finely Textured Beef product broadcast by ABC News. BPI laid off roughly 750 employees and closed facilities in Iowa, Kansas and Texas at the time of the reports in 2012. Following a settlement with ABC in its lawsuit, BPI announced the fund this week. In June, BPI settled a $1.9 billion lawsuit against ABC and correspondent Jim Avila for defamation and claims that the network had used false information. The settlement amount was not made public, but the Walt Disney Company ABC’s parent company, listed a $177 million litigation settlement in a quarterly financial filing.

Coffee Supplies May Drop on Low Farm Earnings

International coffee growers are warning less coffee supplies may be in the future as coffee farmers are earning very little globally. The International Coffee Organization this week said farmers’ low earnings in many countries were depressing supply even as demand grows around two percent annually, according to Reuters. Rabobank last month forecast a 2017-18 global coffee deficit of 6.1 million bags amid rising demand, and signs of tightening supplies that are evident in top coffee grower Brazil, where inventories have dropped sharply. Investing in new coffee trees requires a long-term commitment, one that farmers with low profits are having to carefully consider, leaving global supplies in jeopardy. Coffee is primarily grown in Brazil, Vietnam, Colombia, Indonesia and Ethiopia.

SOURCE: NAFB News Service