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Agriculture News

Company launches service to reduce fees from Syngenta lawsuit

Feedstuffs | Posted on August 16, 2018

Legal Expense Solutions (LES) has launched a service to advocate for farmers across the country to reduce fees paid to attorneys in the $1.51 billion Syngenta biotech corn settlement, some of which LES argues may be “excessive, unnecessary and unethical.” According to LES, tens of thousands of farmers have retained their own attorneys, with hundreds of thousands more being represented by a consortium of law firms in the class action. The settlement requires that no claimant will receive more money per acre/bushel than any other for at least one year.LES said individual attorneys have retained some farmers at fees of 40% or more of the farmer's recovery, while the class settlement attorneys to the court have posted their intent to request up to 33.333% of the settlement, plus expenses (possibly totaling more than $500 million).

The Arid West Moves East, With Big Implications For Agriculture

NPR | Posted on August 16, 2018

The American West appears to be moving east. New research shows the line on the map that divides the North American continent into arid Western regions and humid Eastern regions is shifting, with profound implications for American agriculture. In western Oklahoma, farmers like Benji White and his wife, Lori, have become ranchers.The Whites run 550 head on about 5,000 acres at B&L Red Angus, the family's seedstock and commercial ranching outfit near the town of Putnam in western Oklahoma. The Whites used to grow wheat and other grains, but they've stopped farming to expand the ranching business."Farming is kind of a one-shot deal," said Benji White. "If you don't get rain, where we're completely dry-land, you lose everything. Crop insurance doesn't really pay for all the expenses."Scientists say this shift — from grains to cattle and turning cropland into rangeland — could happen a lot more often.

Trade War Strands Ship With $20 Million In U.S. Soybeans Off China

Huffington Post | Posted on August 16, 2018

A ship packed with $20 million in American soybeans has been chugging in circles off the coast of China after failing to beat the imposition of retaliatory tariffs in the nation’s trade war with the Trump administration. The Peak Pegasus, owned by JP Morgan Asset Management, raced to China hoping to clear customs before China slapped a 25 percent tariff on U.S. soybeans to strike back against Trump administration tariffs. It was scheduled to unload about 77,000 ton of U.S. soybeans in the northern Chinese port of Dalian on July 6. But it arrived too late and has been idling in the Yellow Sea ever since. It missed the deadline by just hours.

New federal judge put in place for latest Smithfield lawsuit

Meat + Poultry | Posted on August 16, 2018

A new federal judge will hear the latest nuisance lawsuit against Smithfield Foods’ hog production division. US District Judge David Faber, from the Southern District of West Virginia, will replace US District Judge Earl Britt from the Eastern District of North Carolina.

Independent ranchers seek injunction of beef checkoff funds in 13 more states

Tri State Livestock News | Posted on August 16, 2018

National independent rancher group Ranchers-Cattlemen Action Legal Fund, United Stockgrowers of America (R-CALF USA) today moved to expand their legal campaign to end the unconstitutional administration of the Beef Checkoff program by the U.S. Department of Agriculture. The current injunction against collection of checkoff funds, upheld by the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals in April, only applies to collection of checkoff funds in Montana. R-CALF USA is now asking for a halt to checkoff funds in Hawaii, Indiana, Kansas, Nebraska, Nevada, New York, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, South Dakota, Texas, Vermont, and Wisconsin as well.

Dairy farmers come together in effort to raise milk prices

Caledonian Record | Posted on August 16, 2018

In order to kick off a national effort to raise prices and prevent another four-year downturn, the Northeast dairy cooperative Agri-Mark invited stakeholders from across the country to a summit at the Gov. Nelson A. Rockefeller Empire State Plaza to explore systemic solutions.“It is a travesty that farmers who work so hard to produce such a crucial food product cannot support their families and farms on the production of that food,” Wellington said.The event drew about 350 farmers, personnel from cooperatives, or organizations dedicated to marketing farmers’ milk; economists and lawmakers from throughout the Northeast to as far as California. Economists and dairy group leaders shared proposals to curtail the oversupply and prevent farmers from creating another bloated market.Wellington, also senior vice president of economics, communications and legislative affairs for Agri-Mark, shared his direct base plan, which he said would issue financial penalties against farmers who produce more than their historic base when the milk price falls below $20 per hundredweight.The historic base would use the highest monthly production average over a three-year period, Wellington said, which would incorporate calculations that would use daily production. Future monthly bases would be calculated by multiplying the daily base by the number of days in a month.A dairy farmer commission would be created to oversee the program and would also implement temporary base reductions whenever the price falls below $20 per hundredweight, Wellington said. The decrease in price would dictate the reduction percentage.

As Crisis Rocks Dairy Industry, Farmers Focus On How To Manage Milk Supply

Vermont Public Radio | Posted on August 16, 2018

“In Vermont alone we’ve lost 66 this year. So we’re talking 8-10 percent of Vermont farmers have gone out of business this year,” he said. “Something has to change. We can’t continue to keep the current system in place if we’re going to retain farmers.” If crisis creates opportunity, then the meeting Monday might be the best chance in years to gain support for some sort of a system to manage the milk supply, Tebbetts said.The market now is awash in too much milk. And for economic reasons, farmers often add more cows so they can sell more milk just to keep afloat as prices fall. But it’s a vicious circle because it leads to even more over-supply. Tebbetts said there’s got to be a better way.“Instead of when the price goes south, that you have to increase your production, this approach may be like we’re going to have incentives to not have you put on more cows [and] increase production which drops the price to the farmers,” he said.And the region's largest dairy co-op, Agri-Mark, wants to explore supply management. Bob Wellington is its senior vice president and a dairy economist.He said several different supply management proposals will be up for discussion next week. One is called a “base-excess” plan. It would simply pay farmers a set amount for milk produced at their historical production level – call that the base – and then anything over the base – the excess – would earn the farmer less.

CA: New Senate Bill would make water and milk default drinks for children's meals

ABC News | Posted on August 16, 2018

A new Senate Bill is trying to make water and milk the default options for children's meals.
Senate Bill 1192 is wanting to make restaurants that serve kids meals to make water, sparkling water, flavored water, unflavored milk, or non-dairy milk the default drink. This bill would not prohibit a person to request an alternative drink but restaurants who do not follow this law would be subject to fines of $250 for the second violation and $500 for the third.Because this bill would impose additional duties on enforcement agencies the bill would create a state-mandated local program. Government agencies and schools would be given reimbursement with any costs accrued.

The process FDA is undertaking for reviewing and modernizing the agency’s standards of identity for dairy products

FDA | Posted on August 16, 2018

One area that needs greater clarity – and which has been the subject of much discussion of late – is the wide variety of plant-based foods that are being positioned in the marketplace as substitutes for standardized dairy products. Many of these plant-based foods use traditional dairy terms (e.g., milk, yogurt, cheese) in the name of the product. For instance, we’ve seen a proliferation of products made from soy, almond or rice calling themselves milk.  However, these alternative products are not the food that has been standardized under the name “milk” and which has been known to the American public as “milk” long before the 1938 Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act (FD&C Act) was established. In addition, some of these products can vary widely in their nutritional content – for instance in relation to inherent protein or in added vitamin content – when compared to traditional milk. We intend to look at these differences in relation to potential public health consequences. There are reports that indicate this issue needs examination. For example, case reports show that feeding rice-based beverages to young children resulted in a disease called kwashiorkor, a form of severe protein malnutrition. There has also been a case report of a toddler being diagnosed with rickets, a disease caused by vitamin D deficiency, after parents used a soy-based alternative to cow’s milk.  Because these dairy alternative products are often popularly referred to as ‘‘milk,’’ we intend to look at whether parents may erroneously assume that plant-based beverages’ nutritional contents are similar to those of cow’s milk, despite the fact that some of these products contain only a fraction of the protein or other nutrients found in cow’s milk.

New Mexico state engineer denies water speculator bid

Santa Fe New Mexican | Posted on August 16, 2018

In a move hailed by environmentalists and nearby landowners, New Mexico’s top water-rights official has dismissed as speculative a company’s application to tap billions of gallons of groundwater from a closed basin deep beneath the Plains of San Agustin in western New Mexico.The denial is the latest twist in the 11-year quest by Augustin Plains Ranch LLC to siphon off 54,000 acre-feet, or 17.6 billion gallons, of water annually and pipe it to as-yet-undetermined communities in Central and Northern New Mexico.Douglas Meiklejohn, executive director of the Santa Fe-based New Mexico Environmental Law Center and a pro-bono lead attorney for those opposing what they see as a speculative and potentially harmful project that includes international investors, says it is “by far the largest” groundwater-rights request in state history, though a spokeswoman for the Office of the State Engineer could not confirm that.By comparison, Albuquerque-area residents use about 30 billion gallons a year.In his denial of the application, a hearing examiner in State Engineer Tom Blaine’s office denounced the “striking absence of information” in the applicants’ description of the water’s end use, citing New Mexico law that prohibits water speculation and requires water rights be put to a beneficial use.No municipalities in the seven counties listed as potential customers have signed contracts to purchase the water rights, and only one, the city of Rio Rancho, has indicated an interest in potentially striking a deal.“All (the ranch) has established is that it wants to appropriate and convey water to uncommitted municipalities or entities in unknown quantities,” the decision reads.