READ the NAFB’s National Ag News for Thursday, September 6th

READ the NAFB’s National Ag News for Thursday, September 6th

Sponsored by the American Farm Bureau Federation

Farm Bill Conference Committee Meets

The farm bill conference committee’s first public meeting Wednesday came with just ten legislative days to complete and pass a new farm bill. Senate Agriculture Committee Chairman Pat Roberts chairs the committee, working on now his eighth farm bill as a lawmaker. In his opening statement, Roberts told the committee: “Time is of the essence. Let us work together to get this done.” The farm bill conference committee is composed of 56 members, including nine Senators and 47 Representatives. Ranking member of the House Agriculture Committee Collin Peterson told the members: “Nobody in this room is going to get everything he or she wants; this process is about compromise.” The biggest compromise is needed in the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, where the House version of the bill includes work requirements. Debbie Stabenow, the top Democrat on the Senate Agriculture Committee, pointed out that the House SNAP provision would cut two million recipients from the program, adding that “these cuts do not have support in the Senate – and do not even have strong consensus in the House.”

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Conaway Offers SNAP Compromise

House Agriculture Committee Chairman Mike Conaway has offered up what he calls a “significant compromise” on nutrition programs in the farm bill. Conaway declined to get into specifics with Politico, but says last week he sent a proposal to his counterparts in the Senate offering a compromise on the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program. He says the offer demonstrates he’s “willing to move off House positions, but it’s got to make sense.” The farm bill conference committee met Wednesday in its first public meeting, set to iron out the differences between the House and Senate farm bills. The House version seems certain to fail in the Senate with work requirements for the SNAP program. Conaway says the move to offer a compromise was to show the other top conference committee members that Conaway was “willing to make significant changes to the House bill to get this done.”

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NAFTA Talks Continue in Washington 

Trade officials from Canada returned to the U.S. Wednesday as part of the North American Free Trade Agreement talks. Canadian Foreign Minister Chrystia Freeland resumed talks with U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer, but there are so far no major developments on the contentious issues being discussed, including dairy market access and the dispute settlement mechanism, top issues for Canada, which wants protection to remain in place for its dairy market. Further, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau (True-doh) said that Canada will not sign a revised agreement without the dispute settlement mechanism and a cultural exemption that will prevent the sale of Canadian media organizations to U.S. companies, according to the Hagstrom Report. While President Trump has offered a ‘go it alone’ approach for the U.S. and Mexico, U.S. lawmakers appear to refuse to support a deal that doesn’t include all three nations.

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GMO Labeling Rule Sent to OMB

The White House Office of Management and Budget is reviewing the GMO labeling rule, or the National Bioengineered Food Disclosure Standard. Government records show that the Department of Agriculture sent the final rule to the White House on the last day of August. The regulation, according to the Management and Budget Office, is now “pending review.” Legislation to create the standard was passed by Congress in 2016, and gave USDA two years to create a rule, with a deadline of July 29th, 2018. Earlier this year, Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue blamed the OMB office at the White House for delaying the process with drawn-out reviews. Still, USDA published a draft version of the rule in May. On August first, the Center for Food Safety filed a lawsuit against the Trump administration for failing to meet the deadline. With the rule however moving to OMB, the final rule appears to be on its way to becoming law.

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Glyphosate Lawsuits Numbers Climbing

Bayer AG says the number of lawsuits against glyphosate is rising, adding to concerns about potentially lengthy and costly litigation. Bayer, which recently completed its acquisition of Monsanto, lowered its full-year earnings outlook stemming from delays in closing the deal. Bayer is now integrating the maker of Roundup, which contains glyphosate, into its company. The California lawsuit which set a dangerous precedent for the industry is under appeal, however it has caused thousands of similar lawsuits to be filed. Bayer said Wednesday it faced some 8,700 plaintiffs across the U.S. as of late August, mainly cancer patients who claim to have fallen ill after being exposed to the glyphosate-containing Monsanto herbicides, according to Dow Jones. Last month, shortly before Bayer closed the acquisition, a California court ordered Monsanto to pay nearly $290 million to a cancer patient, as the jury claimed the products presented a “substantial danger” to consumers, and that Monsanto knew or should have known of potential risks and failed to warn users. Bayer rejected the verdict and is seeking a review of the court decision.

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African Swine Fever Accelerating in China

China reported a new case of African swine fever this week, raising risks of a further spread of the disease. The new outbreak is the seventh reported since early August. A Rabobank analyst told Reuters that “it looks like its accelerating,” and creating the expectation that farmers will start selling off pigs before they are forced to cull animals if the disease hits their own or neighboring farms. China’s agriculture ministry recently announced it would close live hog markets in the affected provinces and would impose a ban on transporting pigs and pork products from the provinces. Meanwhile, the National Pork Board in the U.S. is focusing on feed ingredients, a  key area of potentially high risk of disease transport. To help prevent the potential risk from becoming a reality in the United States, swine industry experts have compiled critical points for pig farmers to raise with their feed and feed ingredient suppliers with the objective of starting a dialog about feed ingredient safety. Those can be found at pork.org.

SOURCE: NAFB News Service

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