The European Commission authorized 11 varieties of genetically modified maize produced by Syngenta Crop Protection for use as food or feed. The authorization, which does not cover cultivation, is valid for 10 years and any products with the GM maize strains are subject to labeling and traceability rules. The Commission stepped in with a decision after the EU’s member states failed to produce an opinion. The European Food and Safety Authority had given a favorable assessment. The authorization covers Syngenta product Bt11 x MIR162 x MIR604 x GA21 and 10 related types of GM maize. Although authorized for food and feed, in practice the EU-approved GM strains are exclusively used in animal feed. Most GM products are insect-resistant or tolerant to certain herbicides.
Legislation to fix an unintended consequence of a law enacted earlier this year to modernize the horse racing industry that has held up Pennsylvania Breeders Fund payouts to the thoroughbred horse breeders and owners won House Agriculture and Rural Affairs Committee approval. House Bill 2303, sponsored by Rep. Martin Causer, R-McKean County, is expected to be put to a vote by the full House next week. The fix is needed because the law passed in a rush to prevent the shutdown of horse racing in the state changed the eligibility requirements for payouts from the breeders fund to permit payments to go to horses sired in Pennsylvania but foaled out of state. This drew opposition from the Pennsylvania Horse Breeders Association, which represents the interests of the state's 500 horse breeders. The association claimed the changes that allowed money to flow to out-of-state breeders denigrated the purpose of the breeders program which is to support and incentivized horse breeding in the commonwealth. As a result, payouts from the fund that as of last month totaled $6 million due to breeders and owners have been held up until the wrinkle created by the new law got ironed out.
U.S. produce suppliers risk being left behind in key emerging markets if Congress fails to approve the Trans Pacific Partnership, a leading trade official told industry leaders.
Darci Vetter, chief agricultural negotiator for the U.S. Trade Representative, spoke Sept. 13 at the United Fresh Produce Association’s Washington Conference and urged attendees to lobby hard for the trade agreement on Capitol Hill. Given the political rancor over the value of trade agreements, Vetter said the fresh produce industry has a story to tell about how international trade provides jobs and supports communities.“It is so very powerful and it is (a story) one we don’t hear enough of,” she said.While speaking mainly on the Trans Pacific Partnership, Vetter said the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership also remains a goal for U.S. officials. Vetter said Europe’s tariffs are roughly twice those of the U.S., and U.S. negotiators are also seeking to put in place science-based decision making processes for trade relative to biotechnology, minimum pesticide residue levels and other regulatory barriers that hinder U.S. exports.
“Any solution in a free trade agreement that provides new opportunity for agriculture will have to address both the regulatory and tariff side, and we’re very much looking at those negotiations in that vein,” she said.
As was forecast, working capital on farms decreased during 2015. Given 2016 income prospects, further decreases in working capital should be expected. At the end of 2016, most of the working capital reserves built during high-income years from 2007 to 2013 will be gone. Working capital levels will again be at levels comparable to 1996 through 2006. In 2015 and 2016, working capital reserves were used to fund cash flow shortfalls coming from operations. If prices remain low through 2017, means other than reducing working capital likely will be needed to address cash shortfalls.
Big corporations are having a hard time competing. And it’s costing them money. Now they need to consolidate. I feel so bad for them. Speaking as a farmer I know how tough it can be when returns don’t total enough to pay expenses. And I know Monsanto, Syngenta, Dow, DuPont, BASF, and Bayer have my best interests at heart. That’s why they kept raising prices on their patented seeds and pesticides even after prices of wheat corn and soybeans had sunk below green into red. Perhaps it was meant to give me hope–and some heavy expenses I could write off my taxes. Either way, they’re the only game in town. If my biggest suppliers could make money running their competition out of business, then I suppose whether I like it or not, I should too. Anyhow, I need corporate innovation to keep me on the cutting edge. But these days the cutting edge seems like a meat grinder making farmer burgers of me and my neighbors. We’re on the menu while corporate agriculture is eating high on the hog. Even though Monsanto delivered “solid” performance in 2015, the end must be near with profits in 2016 down nearly 25%. Speaking as a farmer, I wish I had hope for any 2016 profits at all let alone 75% of last year’s. And Monsanto is blaming my equity-losing situation for its own inability to earn more than a few billion dollars this year. Senators Orrin Hatch of Utah and Thom Tillis of North Carolina say this is the result of too much government regulation. Maybe they should get a real job outside Washington. I’d be happy to sell them mine. Tax free of course. But Senator Chuck Grassley, a farmer in his own right, says farm profits are dwindling among higher seed prices and all these corporate mergers. National Farmers Union President Roger Johnson noted that three very large companies could soon control 80% of corn-seed sales in the US and 70% of worldwide pesticide sales.
The Association of Equipment Manufacturers (AEM) and the Equipment Dealers Association (EDA) have released the results of surveys each organization conducted with their members about the levels of new and used agriculture equipment inventory currently on the market. AEM's data results revealed that, since 2014, the ag equipment manufacturers surveyed believe that new and used inventory levels are decreasing overall. This trend is consistent with EDA's ag equipment dealer survey results for the second quarter of 2016. In the second quarter of 2016, 79 percent of manufacturers felt that inventory levels (new and used combined) were stable or falling. Approximately 75 percent of dealers felt the same. However, perceptions on dealer inventories differ between the two groups. Currently, 43.1 percent of manufacturers believe that dealer inventories are "about right," and 36.2 percent believe that dealer inventories are too high. In contrast, the majority of equipment dealers believe, despite the apparent down-trend in inventory levels, that both their new and used inventories are too high. 62 percent of dealers believe new inventory is too high and 59 percent believe used inventory is too high.
A group representing New Zealand dairy companies has joined forces with overseas counterparts in a bid to get the World Trade Organisation to take action over what they allege is the dumping of dairy products on world markets by Canada. The Dairy Companies Association of New Zealand (DCANZ) - which represents all the main dairy companies in New Zealand - said it had asked the World Trade Organisation (WTO) to initiate proceedings against Canada if it continues with a planned extension to its dairy trade protections. In a joint letter, DCANZ and its associated organisations in the US, Australia, Europe, and Mexico set out their concerns that a recently concluded agreement between Canadian dairy producers and processors would provide an incentive to substitute Canadian dairy ingredients for imported dairy ingredients and would unfairly subsidise exports of Canadian dairy products. The agreement would provide a guaranteed price for milk used to manufacture ingredient dairy products, including skim milk powder and milk protein concentrate, which is below Canada's cost of milk production, and which matches the lowest globally traded reference price for these products. "This will result in trade diversion and global price suppression," DCANZ executive director Kimberly Crewther said.
The Canadian province of Manitoba, a big piglet exporter to the United States, has confirmed its first case in three months of the deadly PED hog virus, amid concerns that dirty trucks may be carrying the virus across the border. Manitoba's government confirmed on its website the Sept. 14 case of Porcine Epidemic Diarrhea on a sow farm. The latest case, and all others in the province dating back to 2014, are located in the province's southeast region. The Manitoba hog industry had complained in May when Canada's food inspection agency revived a requirement that trucks delivering pigs to U.S. farms be washed before returning to Canada. Three Manitoba infections in spring fueled concerns among Canadian farmers and veterinarians that commercial U.S. washes are contaminated with the virus. There is no evidence of this, however. Two years ago, during a U.S. outbreak of the virus that ultimately killed 8 million pigs, the Canadian Food Inspection Agency suspended the rule requiring that trucks carrying swine be washed in the United States before returning to Canada. The agency ended the exemption after U.S. infections of the virus had dropped due to better farm sanitation and animal immunity. Manitoba's neighboring province of Ontario has confirmed 14 PED cases this year between January and June.
In an effort to turn away from chemical pesticides, which have the potential to damage the environment, some farmers are looking in a new direction in the age-old struggle against pests. They're warding off intruding insects and noxious weeds with bugs and chickens.
Gary Wenig and his wife bought 40 acres in central Missouri to grow organic vegetables. He planted what are known as "trap crops," sacrificial plants not raised for harvest but that are extra tasty for pesky insects like squash bugs.Once the patches of planted trap were grown, Wenig rolled out a chicken tractor — basically a large, mobile coop on wheels with a mesh-wire bottom — and let several chickens in there feast on the bugs from above.
While the trap crop and chicken system has worked for the Wenigs' small farm, it might not be feasible on a larger, conventional farm. That's why university researchers, along with the U.S. Department of Agriculture, are looking at ways to combat pests by introducing predatory bugs.
With worker fatalities in agriculture running higher than all non-agricultural industries combined among workers younger than 16 years old, there’s no doubt that routine farm safety practices are important. Our “Farm Tragedy by the Numbers” infographic provides the basis for why farm safety should be taken seriously, not only through National Farm Safety and Health Week, but 52 weeks every year.