READ the NAFB’s National Ag News for Monday, January 6th

Sponsored by the American Farm Bureau Federation

Senate to Continue Ordinary Business During Impeachment Hearings Delay

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell signaled an opportunity to quickly consider the U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement. In a speech on the Senate floor Friday, McConnell says the Senate will “go about ordinary business,” because House Speaker Nancy Pelosi is holding the articles of impeachment, thought to delay USMCA consideration in the Senate this month. A hearing is on the calendar Tuesday morning for the Senate Finance Committee to markup the implementing legislation for USMCA. McConnell charged Democrats in the House were “searching desperately for some new talking point” on impeachment, and alleged they were developing cold feet. Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer responded, however, that “instead of trying to find the truth,” comments by McConnell indicate there will not be a fair impeachment trial. Senate consideration of USMCA was expected after the impeachment trial in the Senate. However, with a delay and fighting amongst lawmakers regarding the trial, USCMA could sneak through before a trial begins.

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R-CALF: Cattle Importers Control U.S. Policy

The Department of Agriculture last week issued a proposed rule to reapportion the Beef Checkoff Program’s Cattlemen’s Beef Board. R-CALF says the proposed rule reveals importers control more cattle inventories than any state in the United States except Texas. To make its calculations regarding who controls domestic cattle inventories, R-CALF says USDA counts imported live cattle and converts imported beef into a live cattle equivalent. Importers now control about 6.9 million cattle in the U.S. market. Only the state of Texas, which controls about 12.6 million cattle, exceeds the importers’ control. The organization says the combination of cattle and beef imports represent the largest agricultural commodities imported from Canada and Mexico. USDA data shows U.S. imported $4.1 billion in cattle and beef from Canada and Mexico in 2018. R-CALF CEO Bill Bullard claims the importers dominant control over cattle inventories “affords them extraordinary influence” on U.S. lawmakers, adding cattle and beef importers are opposed to mandatory country-of-origin labeling because “they do not want consumers to know the origins of their cheaper-sourced products.”

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Bunge Sells Share of U.S. Ethanol Plant

Bunge last week announced the sale of its share of an ethanol production facility. Southwest Iowa Renewable Energy, or SIRE, repurchased Bunge’s membership units effective December 31, 2019. The purchase was made under the terms of the Bunge Membership Interest Purchase Agreement and ends Bunge’s 13-year ownership interest in SIRE. Andrés Martín, North America country manager for Bunge, stated, “As Bunge focuses our resources on our core businesses, selling our shares in SIRE, while maintaining a relationship, is an attractive opportunity.” SIRE is located on 275 acres in Council Bluffs, Iowa, operating an ethanol plant that is permitted to produce 140 million gallons per year. In addition to the stock repurchase, SIRE will assume responsibility for originating corn and selling dried distillers grains produced by the plant. Under a revised agreement, Bunge will continue to purchase all of the ethanol produced by SIRE.  SIRE will also continue to lease rail cars from Bunge under existing lease agreements.

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Corn Growers Call EPA Atrazine Decision a Reasonable Approach

Corn farmers say the Atrazine Preliminary Interim Decision is a positive for farmers who rely on atrazine for weed control. The Triazine Network, a coalition including the National Corn Growers Association and advocates for science-based regulatory decisions regarding atrazine, welcomed the document published in the Federal Register last week. The coalition says the decision supports the Environmental Protection Agency’s commitment to using credible scientific research in setting a reasonable aquatic ecosystem Level of Concern for atrazine. The decision corrects a recommendation made in the 2016 Ecological Risk Assessment to set the Level of Concern at 3.6 parts per billion, an ultra-low level that would have banned the use of atrazine in much of farm country. The lower level was based on questionable research, according to the coalition, including studies that had been turned down by EPA’s 2012 Science Advisory Panel. The publication of the atrazine decision in the Federal Register opens a 60-day comment period that ends on March 2, 2020.

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AFIA: December Spending Bills Improve Feed Ingredient Approval Process

The American Feed Industry Association says spending bills passed last month will improve the approval process for animal feed ingredients. The 2020 fiscal year appropriations package allocates new dollars to the Food and Drug Administration’s Center for Veterinary Medicine to hire additional staff specifically for reviewing new animal food ingredient submissions. The $5 million allocation from appropriators will allow the FDA to nearly double ingredient approval staff, which will reduce the length of review time by the agency in the approval timeline. Constance Cullman, AFIA’s president and CEO, says, “the lengthy ingredient review processes have hindered the approval process for animal feed ingredients” that can improve the safety, quality and nutrition of feed. A study funded by the Institute for Feed Education and Research found that for every year of delay in the approval process, submitting companies across the animal food manufacturing industry were losing an average $1.75 million annually in revenue per ingredient.

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Syngenta Announces Crop Challenge Prize Committee

Syngenta and the Analytics Society of INFORMS have selected the prize committee for the 2020 Syngenta Crop Challenge in Analytics, a competition in which entrants develop data-driven models to address various challenges inherent in agriculture. Now in its fifth consecutive year, the Syngenta Crop Challenge in Analytics is a collaborative effort between Syngenta and the Analytics Society of the Institute for Operations Research and the Management Sciences, or INFORMS. In the 2020 challenge, entrants are tasked with developing data-driven methodologies that can help predict the performance of potential corn seed products. Judges include experts from U.S. universities, Syngenta, American Airlines and Land O’Lakes. The prize committee will evaluate entries following the January 21, 2020, submission deadline, and finalists will be announced in March 2020. Winners will be announced during the 2020 INFORMS Conference on Business Analytics in April. The first-place winner will receive $5,000, the runner-up will be awarded $2,500, and the third-place winner will receive $1,000.

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.