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READ the NAFB’s National Ag News for Wednesday, March 6th

Survey: Producers Less Optimistic Regarding Farm Economy

The Purdue University/CME Group Ag Economy Barometer weakened in February as producers became less optimistic about current economic conditions and the commodity price outlook. The barometer, which is based on a survey of 400 U.S. agricultural producers, declined seven points to a reading of 136, down from 143 in January. A rating below 100 is negative, while a rating above 100 still indicates overall positive sentiment regarding the agriculture industry. Weaker expectations for the future and, especially, a decline of producers’ perception of current conditions combined to drive the barometer lower. The Index of Current Conditions saw the biggest drop, down from 132 to 119, while the Index of Future Expectations weakened slightly, down from 148 to 145. Additionally, when producers were asked whether they have plans to grow or increase the size of their current operation in 2019, 50 percent of respondents said that they either “have no plans to grow” or “plan to reduce in size,” compared to 39 percent in 2018.

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Year-round E15 Rulemaking Moves Forward

The Environmental Protection Agency this week sent a draft rule to allow for year-round sales of E15 to the White House Office of Management and Budget for review. This is the next step in the regulatory process and meeting expectations that the rulemaking can be completed when the summer driving season begins June first. In a statement, National Corn Growers Association President Lynn Chrisp says the association is pleased to see the process move forward, adding “a timely rule is important for the summer driving season but it’s also important that the rule is done right.” Chrisp says NCGA will be providing OMB with input to help ensure a strong, clear rule for E15. Following the review and interagency approval, EPA will issue a proposed rule for public comment. There was confusion last week on whether the rule could be completed on time. At Commodity Classic, Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue told reporters EPA has found a way to make it work, adding he would encourage EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler to “signal out to the industry that it will be done.”

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Gottlieb Resigns from Food and Drug Administration

Food and Drug Administration Commissioner Scott Gottlieb has resigned from the federal agency and will leave in about a month. Commissioner Gottlieb leaves his post at a time when there are several pending issues regarding agriculture, included cell-cultured meats. Gottlieb has been comminuting from his home in Connecticut to Washington weekly, and cited the desire to spend more time with his family in his resignation. The Washington Post Reports the resignation was not sought by the White House. A senior White House official said Gottlieb had spoken to President Trump, who liked the FDA chief and did not want him to leave. President Trump took to Twitter to say Gottlieb has “done an absolutely terrific job.” Gottlieb was a former top FDA official during the George W. Bush administration.

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Federal Agencies Release Framework for Advancing the Bioeconomy

The federal government Tuesday unveiled a multi-agency strategy called the Bioeconomy Initiative: Implementation Framework. The strategy seeks to accelerate innovative technologies that harness the nation’s biomass resources for affordable biofuels, bioproducts, and biopower. The Biomass Research and Development Board announced the plan that is co-chaired by the U.S. Department of Agriculture and the U.S. Department of Energy. USDA Deputy Under Secretary Scott Hutchins says the bioeconomy “presents an opportunity to expand and enable new agriculture and forest markets while also improving sustainability.” The framework outlines an approach for implementing the Initiative and lays out activities to address technology uncertainty, leverage government, academic, and industrial resources and capabilities, stimulate public-private partnerships, and generate technical information that can inform decision-makers and policymakers. The board includes officials from USDA, the Transportation, Energy, Interior and Defense departments, along with the Environmental Protection Agency, the National Science Foundation, and the Office of Science and Technology Policy within the Executive Office of the President.

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CHS Completes Acquisition of West Central Distribution

CHS Inc. announced Tuesday it has completed the acquisition of West Central Distribution, LLC, a full-service wholesale distributor of agronomy products headquartered in Willmar, Minnesota. CHS is self-described as the nation’s leading farmer-owned cooperative and a global energy, agronomy, grains and foods company. West Central offers crop protection, nutrients and other specialized agronomy products to cooperatives and independent retailers. With 30 locations, West Central expands the distribution assets, capabilities, and expertise of CHS Agronomy, which currently offers a globally-integrated wholesale crop nutrient supply chain and an array of retail seed, crop protection, fertilizer and agronomic technologies and services. Gary Halvorson, senior vice president at CHS Agronomy, says “Ownership of West Central expands our agronomy platform” and “adds value for CHS owners.” CHS has owned 25 percent of West Central since January 2015. With the completion of the transaction, West Central’s more than 200 employees become CHS employees.

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Syngenta Announces Sixth Annual #RootedinAg Contest

Syngenta has announced the application period for the sixth annual #RootedinAg contest is now open. By sharing their inspirational stories, applicants can enter for a chance to become one of three finalists, who will each receive a mini touch-screen tablet. Of those finalists, Syngenta will award $500 to one grand prizewinner and publish his or her story in Thrive magazine. Syngenta will also make a $1,000 donation in the winner’s name to a local charity or civic organization. Wendell Calhoun, communications manager at Syngenta, says the contest “gives us a chance to celebrate the journeys of people who are moving agriculture forward.” The deadline to enter is May 30, 2019. A panel of judges will choose three finalists in June based on the quality of their essays. Syngenta will then post their entries on the Thrive website and ask visitors to help choose the grand prizewinner by voting for their favorite. Online voting ends Aug. 30, 2019, with Syngenta announcing the grand prizewinner in September. Apply at www.SyngentaThrive.com.

SOURCE: NAFB News Service

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By Brian Allmer - The BARN

Brian Allmer & the BARN are members of the National Association of Farm Broadcasting (NAFB), the Colorado FFA Foundation, the Colorado 4H Foundation, the Colorado Farm Show Marketing Committee, 1867 Club Board Member, Denver Ag & Livestock Club Member, the Weld County Fair Board, the Briggsdale FFA Advisory Council, Briggsdale 4H Club Beef Leader & Founder / Coordinator of the Briggsdale Classic Open Jackpot Show.