READ the NAFB’s National Ag News for Monday, August 2nd

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New Indictments in Broiler Chicken Conspiracy

Koch (Coke) Foods, Incorporated, and four Pilgrim’s Pride Corporation executives were charged for their role in an alleged broiler chicken price-fixing scheme. The indictment is the latest action in an ongoing investigation by the Department of Justice. DTN says in February, Pilgrim’s Pride admitted to its role in a 2012 conspiracy to fix the price of broiler chickens. The company will pay $107.9 million as a part of its plea agreement in federal court. The new indictment alleges the defendants worked together to suppress and eliminate competition for sales of broiler chicken products. Those chickens are raised for human consumption and sold to restaurants and grocery stores. The four executives and Koch Foods have been charged with violating the Sherman Antitrust Act. The four Pilgrim’s Pride executives will make their initial appearance in court on August 11. Violating the act results in a maximum penalty of 10 years in prison and a one million dollar fine for individuals, as well as a $100 million fine for corporations. The indictment says the conspiracy goes back to 2012 and uses repeated text messages among the four men that discussed bids and prices for poultry contacts or overall market prices as the basis for the allegations. Those messages allegedly continued through 2017.


Dominican Republic Enlists Military to Fight ASF

The Dominican Republic is limiting shipments of pigs and mobilizing its military to contain the spread of African Swine Fever. Reuters says the Dominican ag ministry made the announcement as the U.S. and Mexico tightened border checks to avoid spreading the infection. The U.S. and Mexico are both boosting airport inspections to stop travelers from bringing in Dominican pork products that could carry the virus. Both countries had previously blocked pork imports from the Dominican Republic. U.S. testing of almost 400 samples from Dominican-raised hogs from farms and backyards shows that the disease is in a small population of backyard pigs in two provinces, which together contain almost 20,000 pigs. The total Dominican herd numbers 1.8 million. The ag ministry is prohibiting live and slaughtered pig movement from those provinces, noting that there will be “total military control in all strategic points of both provinces,” and the ministry will help disinfect affected areas. The disease originated in Africa before it spread to Asia and Europe, killing hundreds of millions of pigs and reshaping global meat and feed markets.

**********************************************************************************************    Federal Court Rejects NPPC Challenge to Prop 12 in California

The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals turned down the National Pork Producers Council and American Farm Bureau’s petition to strike down Proposition 12 as unconstitutional under the Commerce Clause. “We are disappointed in the court’s decision and stand by our position on Proposition 12,” says NPPC spokesman Jim Monroe. “It’s a clear violation of the U.S. Constitution’s Commerce Clause. We are evaluating the decision and our next steps.” The court said for dormant Commerce Clause purposes, laws that increase compliance costs, without more, do not constitute a significant burden on interstate commerce. The court’s decision was 3-0. The court also says the complaint against California “fails to make a plausible allegation that the pork industry is of such national concern that it is analogous to taxation or interstate travel, where uniform rules are crucial.” Pork Business Dot Com says Prop 12 will go into effect on January 1, 2022, and will impose animal housing standards that reach far outside the state’s borders to farms across the country. NPPC says that will drive up costs for both pork producers and consumers. NPPC President Jen Sorenson says, “After everything producers have faced in recent years, now farmers are faced with a federal district court decision that will result in a 2.5 percent loss of national pork harvest capacity.”


Senators Introduce Legislation to Uphold Navigable Waters Protection Rule

Republican Senators on the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee led the introduction of legislation to codify the 2020 Navigable Waters Protection Act. U.S. farmers need certainty in the guidelines, so the Navigable Waters Protection Act of 2021 will provide it. Iowa Senator Chuck Grassley was one of the senators behind the legislation. “I’ve worked over the years to put a stop to water rules that would be unworkable for farmers, real estate developers, and landowners,” Grassley says. “Our farmers and businesses are good stewards of the land, and we need to have a real law on the books so Americans can move forward without burdensome regulations.” Grassley and fellow Iowa Senator Joni Ernst wrote a letter to Ag Secretary Tom Vilsack to express concerns over the Biden Administration’s decision to roll back the previous administration’s Navigable Waters Protection Rule. He also gave a speech on the Senate floor highlighting the devastating effects if the rule gets rolled back. Earlier this year, the Iowa senators joined together on a Senate resolution that expressed the need for the Senate to stand with farmers, ranchers, and other important stakeholders by supporting the Navigable Waters Protection Rule.


NIFA and NSF Investing $220 Million in Artificial Intelligence Research

The USDA’s National Institute of Food and Agriculture and the National Science Federation announced a $220 million investment in 11 new NSF-led Artificial Intelligence Research Institutes. NIFA and other agencies and organizations have partnered with the NSF to pursue transformational advances in a range of economic sectors and science and engineering fields, ranging from food system security to next-generation edge networks. “These investments in new institutes leverage the scientific power of U.S. land-grant universities in close partnerships with farmers, producers, educators, and innovators to provide sustainable crop production solutions and address these pressing societal challenges,” says NIFA Director Carrie Castille. “These centers will speed our ability to meet critical needs in the future agriculture workforce, providing equitable and fair market access, increasing nutrition security, and providing tools for climate-smart agriculture.” Washington State University is one of the 11 institutions to receive funding and will work to integrate AI methods into agriculture operations for prediction, decision support, and robotics-enabled agriculture to address complex challenges. They’ll look to deliver solutions related to labor, water, weather, and climate change.


Minnesota Farmer Elected New Chair of USGC

Delegates at the U.S. Grains Council’s Summer Meeting elected Minnesota farmer Chad Willis as chairman of its Board of Directors. Willis represents the Minnesota Corn Research and Promotion Council on the board and says he was drawn to the Council because he needs dependable markets to sustain his operation. “As I’ve served the Council and as I’ve been able to see firsthand by traveling to other countries, it’s a two-way street,” he said in opening remarks. “We need each other.” Willis also added that as the organization recognizes the importance of their grain markets, USGC must continue to build on the value-added markets for DDGS and ethanol. “The value of global trade has so much potential if we work together to access them,” he adds. Willis has been farming since 1997 and has worked in both the corn milling and feed industries. He was a member of the Minnesota Corn Research and Promotion Council before serving on its board. Brent Boydston of Bayer Crop Science was elected the Council’s Secretary-Treasurer. Joshua Miller of the Indiana Corn Marketing Council is the Vice-Chairman.

SOURCE: NAFB News Service

By Tucker Allmer - The BARN

Tucker 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.