Daily Harvest -- 2/20/2015
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FARM & RURAL POLICY
Agri-Pulse: Plantings to decline but growers to benefit from falling fuel prices, USDA says
- U.S. farmers are expected to cut their planting of most major crops in response to sagging commodity prices, but growers will benefit from falling fuel prices and transportation costs, according to the Agriculture Department.
Agri-Pulse: CHS returns $518 million to members
- The nation's leading agricultural co-op, CHS, announced that it will distribute an estimated $518 million to farmers, ranchers and cooperatives - extending a record of what it described as “significant cash returns to owners.”
Agri-Pulse: Land O' Lakes plans to acquire FLM+
- Land O'Lakes, Inc. announced plans to acquire the assets of FLM+, a leading marketing communications and strategic consulting company with expertise in the agribusiness and rural community sector.
Agri-Pulse: Ag companies, USDA, discuss big data challenges
- The opportunities for farm productivity and young agriculturalists are buoyed by data technology in agriculture, but challenges like wireless infrastructure and data privacy are stalling adoption, noted a speaker panel hosted by Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack at the 2015 USDA Agricultural Outlook Forum outside Washington today.
Wall Street Journal: Agriculture Giants Boost Cybersecurity to Shield Farm Data
- Agriculture companies are building sturdier digital fences to fend off cyberattacks that industry officials say are increasingly targeting the sector.
Reuters: U.S. West Coast ports talks break for night without deal
- Shipping executives and union leaders for dockworkers at 29 West Coast ports ended a third straight day of contract talks late on Thursday without a settlement, despite arm-twisting from the U.S. labor secretary, but planned to meet again on Friday.
Agri-Pulse: EPA apologizes to the ethanol industry
- (Audio) EPA Transportation and Air Quality Office director Chris Grundler appeared at the National Ethanol Conference this week in Grapevine, Texas, the second year in a row he’s come to speak about the agency’s actions—or inactions—on the Renewable Fuel Standard.
Reuters: New USDA report shows increased corn use for ethanol, less sorghum
- Use of U.S. corn in ethanol production increased 5 percent in December while sorghum use for biofuel tumbled 57 percent from the previous month, the U.S. Department of Agriculture said in a new monthly report on Thursday.
Reuters: Activist investors dig deep in energy company bets
- Elliot Management Corp. and Omega Advisors Inc. are among activist hedge funds buying stakes in North American oil and gas producers whose stock has fallen because of weaknesses exposed by the collapse of energy prices.
FOOD & NUTRITION
Agri-Pulse: Meat stakeholders critical of final DGAC report
- (Subscriber only) The final report of the Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee was published earlier today, and language regarding sustainability and lean meat has livestock and meat groups seeing red.
Agri-Pulse: Lean meat, sustainability play active role in final DGAC report
- The Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee released its final report today, setting the stage for a nutrition policy battle involving lean meat and sustainability that is expected to play out through the rest of the year.
Reuters: Love to eat eggs? U.S. panel now says they're not a health risk
- Egg and red meat lovers may find reason to rejoice in a decision by a U.S. advisory health panel to remove warnings about dietary cholesterol, saying that there is no link to dangerous levels of blood cholesterol that cause disease.
Wall Street Journal: Chinese Dump Milk as Prices Fall
- The impact is being felt beyond China, too, as farmers from the U.S. to Australia to New Zealand brace for price wars, smaller herds and cuts to income this year. New Zealand’s central bank says the drop in dairy prices is one of the biggest economic risks for the country, a big milk exporter.
Bloomberg: Food Labels Listing Sugars Urged by U.S. Panel to Improve Diets
- A U.S. government advisory committee is urging federal, state and local officials to use taxes, food labels and regulations to fight poor eating habits that are tied to obesity, diabetes and other public-health risks.
TRADE & INTERNATIONAL
Agri-Pulse: EU farm chief downplays dispute on dairy names
- The European Union's agriculture commissioner sought to downplay the seriousness of a dispute with the United States over the EU's protection of geographical indications, product names such as Parmesan and Feta cheese.
Agri-Pulse: USTR's Vetter says TPA 'critical' for concluding trade treaties
- Darci Vetter, the U.S. Trade Representative's chief agricultural negotiator, said her team has made "significant progress" in recent talks with Japan regarding the Trans-Pacific Partnership but she says Congress needs to pass fast-track Trade Promotion Authority (TPA) to get the deal over the finish line.
Reuters: U.S. farm lobbies call for action over India, China subsidies
- Big developing countries such as China and India are routinely breaking international trade rules on agriculture and the U.S. government should take action to stop them, representatives of U.S. corn and rice growers said on Thursday.
Bloomberg: U.S. Wheat Still a Bad Deal Even With $100 Million Credit Line
- Egypt, which got the U.S. loan agreement, canceled a tender to buy American wheat Wednesday because the prices were too expensive and then asked for offers from other international suppliers. The failed sale shows how unattractive U.S. grain is to buyers with the dollar near the highest level in more than a decade and ample global inventories.
Washington Post: In Cuba, prosperity will require changes to government control
- The grand gesture as a way of addressing economic crises, from the mass mobilization to harvest sugar in 1970 to the attempt to replace every light bulb in the country 35 years later, has disappeared under Cuba’s current leader, Fidel Castro’s brother Raul.
CONSERVATION, ENVIRONMENT & WILDLIFE
Agri-Pulse: Conservation groups put budget committee leaders on notice
- Thirty-five conservation groups are urging the Senate and House budget committees to reject President Obama's fiscal 2016 budget proposal to cut $800 million from farm bill conservation programs.
Agri-Pulse: USDA earmarks $37 million to promote forest health, reduce wildfire threats
- USDA is investing $37 million in new and existing projects to restore forest health and reduce wildfire threats. The plan is being implemented through a collaborative venture between the U.S. Forest Service (USFS) and the Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS), called the Chiefs' Joint Landscape Restoration Partnership.
FARM LABOR & IMMIGRATION
Politico: Immigration delays likely as DOJ weighs legal options
- More than two days after a federal judge blocked expansion of President Barack Obama’s drive to grant quasi-legal status and work permits to millions of illegal immigrants, officials said administration lawyers were still debating how to challenge the injunction, even as immigrant rights advocates pressed the White House for decisive action.
Argus Leader: Lawsuit targets Parker chicken farm
- A group of Turner County homeowners is suing the county commission and the owners of a proposed chicken farm in hopes of putting a stop to the $85 million development.
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