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Bayer faces backlash in Germany as lawmakers condemn Monsanto deal

St Louis Today | Posted on September 26, 2016

German lawmakers called on regulators to curb Bayer’s $66 billion takeover of U.S. seed giant Monsanto in a skepticism-laced parliamentary session that highlights the backlash to the deal Bayer faces in its home market. The debate Wednesday in the lower house of parliament, called by the opposition Green Party, laid bare the depth of resistance to Bayer’s buying a U.S. company that many Germans view as a champion of genetically modified crops and a weedkiller they believe might cause cancer. Eight of the 12 lawmakers who spoke, including parliamentarians from within Chancellor Angela Merkel’s coalition, cast doubt on the acquisition.

China opens doors to Canada with new beef agreement

Meatingplace (registration required) | Posted on September 26, 2016

The announcement of a new agreement that will open China to Canadian beef appears to be a significant development and a sign of a warming political relationship between the two nations, according to officials of the U.S. Meat Export Federation (USMEF), who said they are interested to see the ramifications of this agreement for U.S. beef. Canada has been very flexible in working with governments along the Pacific Rim to adapt agreements to regain access for Canadian beef, said USMEF officials, who believe the Canada/China agreement may be similar to the agreement which has produced the complete restoration of access for Canadian beef to the Hong Kong market.

Immigration Does More Good Than Harm to Economy, Study Finds

The Wall Street Journal | Posted on September 23, 2016

Waves of immigrants coming into the U.S. in recent decades have helped the economy over the long haul and had little lasting impact on the wages or employment levels of native-born Americans, according to one of the most comprehensive studies yet on the topic. The National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine report on immigration assesses the economic and fiscal impacts of immigration, offering a broad look at a phenomenon that has moved to the forefront of the presidential race, with both candidates debating the downsides and merits of immigration. The conclusion runs counter to a popular narrative suggesting that immigrants take the jobs of U.S. citizens, though it does acknowledge some costs for segments of the population. It highlights research showing an influx of lower-skilled workers can lead to lower wages for earlier waves of immigrants and native-born high-school dropouts. And the study found that immigration can burden government finances, especially education budgets at the state and local levels.  The report, citing a lack of data, doesn’t distinguish between the impacts of documented and undocumented immigrants.

NASDA says states need more say in fed farm policy

Agri-Pulse | Posted on September 23, 2016

The National Association of State Departments of Agriculture (NASDA) opened its 2016 annual meeting today by calling for the federal government to allow the states to play a greater role in policymaking in the next administration.  NASDA's board of directors unanimously approved the group's “Call to Action to 2020: Advancing Agriculture through Enhanced Partnerships,” underscoring the importance of what NASDA President Greg Ibach called “cooperative federalism.”   Ibach, who is also Nebraska's Director of Agriculture, said the Call to Action was drafted after an “escalation” of what he said were “hostile” rulemaking and policy proposals by federal agencies, including the Environmental Protection Agency's “Waters of the U.S.” rule and Labor Department regulations governing pesticide applicators. In a briefing for reporters prior to the initiative's adoption, Ibach said in some cases rules were drafted with little or no input from the states, or suggestions made by NASDA during comment periods were ignored.

Governments of Canada and the United States have finalized a Lake Superior Lakewide Action and Management Plan | Posted on September 23, 2016

Pursuant to the Great Lakes Water Quality Agreement, the governments of Canada and the United States have finalized a Lake Superior Lakewide Action and Management Plan (LAMP)which is an ecosystem-based strategy for restoring and protecting Lake Superior water quality. The LAMP documents ecosystem conditions and threats, and presents science and action priorities. The LAMP was developed with the help of over 30 science-based government agencies and involved over 50 other organizations representing thousands of people and many diverse interests. 

China Will Lift Ban on U.S. Beef

Hoosier Ag Today | Posted on September 23, 2016

Following a 13-year ban on U.S. beef exports to China, the Chinese Government indicates the nation will begin accepting U.S. beef from animals less than 30 months of age. The National Cattlemen’s Beef Association calls the indication a tremendous opportunity for U.S. cattle producers. The U.S. Meat Export Federation called the announcement a “welcome first step” in restarting beef exports to China. The U.S. Department of Agriculture now must work with China’s Administration of Quality Supervision, Inspection, and Quarantine to approve the certificates and protocols for exports.

USDA declares most of Massachusetts a disaster area | Posted on September 22, 2016

Eleven of the state's 14 counties have been deemed "primary natural disaster areas" by the United States Department of Agriculture due to substantial crop losses that began with a February deep freeze and continued though a summer marked by severe drought. Farmers in those counties are eligible for low interest emergency loans from the USDA's Farm Service Agency, the USDA said. Farmers have eight months to apply for a loan to help cover part of their losses. A deep freeze around Valentine's Day wiped out almost all of the state's peach crop, farmers previously told the News Service, and the Executive Office of Energy and Environmental Affairs said Tuesday that other tree fruits were affected as well. On top of the deep freeze, Massachusetts farmers have been hit this season with an ongoing and widespread drought that's been blamed for contributing to wild fires, an outbreak of gypsy moths, higher rates of ant infestation, smaller than usual apples, loss of crops, a shortage of cattle feed, and an elevated population of mosquitoes able to carry West Nile virus.


Clinton and Trump: Where they stand on ag

Farm Futures | Posted on September 22, 2016

t’s been a long election season all across the country, and as presidential candidates have answered questions from voters and media, very few of those questions have centered on the food supply. As the election nears, Penton Agriculture sought to engage the candidates in a discussion about agriculture, including their plans, potential farm bills, trade and more. With all that in mind, we posed the following set of questions to both candidates, Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton and Republican nominee Donald Trump. Who will be your closest advisors in understanding more about the needs of rural America? Clinton: As part of the policy development process, we have engaged a diverse group of people from across the country, including agricultural experts, farmers and ranchers, practitioners, and other leaders. I believe America’s rural communities lie at the heart of what makes this country great. My rural policy agenda was designed to tackle the challenges rural communities are facing across the country. rump: The Trump Administration will be a pro-agriculture administration. As president, I will fight for American farmers and their families. I am proud that Gov. Mike Pence of Indiana will be our nation’s next vice president. Mike will be a trusted source of counsel for me on many issues, including agriculture. I have also assembled an Agriculture Advisory Committee comprised of dozens of leaders who represent the best that America can offer to help serve agricultural communities. Many of these officials have been elected by their communities to solve the issues that impact our rural areas every day. I’m very proud to stand with these men and women, and look forward to serving with them in serving all Americans from the White House.

10 Takes From This Week's Senate Hearing on Ag Consolidation

AgWeb | Posted on September 22, 2016

Merger bids amid the top six seed and chemical companies have been giving farmers cause for worry for months. On Tuesday, Sept. 20, representatives from agribusinesses, farmer organizations and others participated in a Senate Judiciary Hearing on “Consolidation and Competition in the U.S. Seed and Agrochemical Industry.” Here are some highlights of the witness testimony at this hearing.  Senator Chuck Grassley (R-IA)“It’s no secret that I’ve long been concerned about concentration and competition in the agriculture sector. Farmers are unique, their profession involves accepting prices from input providers and commodity markets, while hoping for good weather in-between. Farmers don’t have the ability to simply raise the price of their crops when they sell them to pass on higher input costs.”Jim Blome, President and CEO of Bayer CropScience LP “As a native Iowan and farmer, I am highly optimistic for the future. By combining with Monsanto we will be well positioned to deliver on the innovation that farmers demand. Most importantly, this transaction brings together creative minds from two complementary segments of the industry to address the challenges farmers face today and in the future.” Tim Hassinger, President and CEO of Dow AgroSciences “In order for the U.S. to maintain its global leadership in agricultural production and technology, companies such as Dow and DuPont must find ways to more effectively and efficiently deliver new technologies and tools to the American farmer. With new technology, farmers will be able to improve productivity and deliver the quality and quantity of food the world needs. And that is the rationale behind our proposed merger.” Senator Patrick Leahy (D-VT) “These mega-mergers raise questions about competition, our food supply, nutrition, and the livelihood of our farm economy. A number of voices have expressed significant concerns that the proposed mergers would eliminate head-to-head competition, dampen innovation, reduce choices for farmers, increase prices for both farmers and their customers, and threaten our national security.”

Ag Executives Sell Merger Deals to Skeptical Senate Panel | Posted on September 22, 2016

The recent wave of mergers and acquisitions in the agriculture and chemical businesses won't raise prices for farmers or stifle innovation, industry executives told the Senate Judiciary Committee.  Of the top six U.S. and European agribusiness companies, five are in talks for a merger or a buy-out. The trend in consolidation could fundamentally reshape the global agrochemical and bioengineered seed industries, with critics saying that less competition could mean bigger costs for farmers already suffering under low commodity prices.  Executives from DuPont Co., Dow Chemical Co., Monsanto Co., Bayer AG and Syngenta Ag—all involved in proposed deals—told the panel that consolidation in the industry will create efficiencies to better bring new technologies to the market.   But panel members were largely skeptical. “Further concentration in the industry will reduce choice and further raise the price of chemicals and seeds for farmers, which ultimately will affect choice and costs for consumers,” Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa), said. Concern was bipartisan, with Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.) noting that the hot merger and acquisition climate would leave only a few companies at the top. “Our farmers and consumers face enough challenges without the additional benefit of an anti-competitive market,” Klobuchar said. “The three transactions before us are substantial. Taken together they reduce the six major agribusiness firms to four.”