The U.S. Chamber of Commerce is wading into the battle over bills aimed at reining in the market power of big meatpackers.

The Chamber says bills that would impose cash trade mandates on beef markets and create a special investigator’s office in USDA’s Packers and Stockyards Division would actually “harm consumers and reduce competition” and “buy into the White House’s faulty narrative that beef markets are suffering from a lack of competition.”

The cattle pricing bill would “replace a market structure that has evolved naturally over time with one created and managed by bureaucrats in Washington. When has that ever been a good idea?” 

Why it matters: Supporters of the bills need the backing of at least 10 Republicans to get the legislation through the Senate.

Sen. Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, continues to express confidence he can get those votes, though some in the industry are more skeptical. “I think there's a lot of education that has to be done, but we do have the votes,” he told reporters Tuesday.

Turkey hosts talks on opening key Ukraine ports

Negotiators from Ukraine, Russia, Turkey and the United Nations are meeting in Istanbul today in a renewed effort to allow Ukraine to resume exporting corn, wheat, sunflower seed oil and other farm commodities through its main ports. They’ve been shuttered since the war began in February.

In order for ships to take grain out of storage in Odesa, Ukraine will have to remove defensive sea mines. But Ukraine has repeatedly said it doesn’t trust Russia to use the open seaway to attack with its naval forces.

Meanwhile, foreign vessels are lining up at a Ukrainian port at the mouth of the Danube river to try to load Ukrainian grain, according to the country’s Ministry of Agriculture. Previously, Ukrainian exporters had to haul their grain from the Danube to Romanian ports, but that changed after Russian forces fled from nearby Snake Island.

By the way: Global wheat supplies are expected to remain at their lowest level since the 2016-17 marketing year, despite higher estimates for U.S. production, according to USDA's latest World Agricultural Supply and Demand Estimates report.

USDA welcomes strong grasslands enrollment

A USDA program that’s long been focused on taking land out of production may be slowly turning into more of a working-lands program. USDA is accepting 3.1 million acres of land into the grasslands option of the Conservation Reserve Program. Land enrolled under the grasslands option can be grazed or hayed. Usage of conventional CRP is more restricted.

That’s a 22% increase over the grasslands acreage enrolled in 2021. And it means that USDA will be enrolling a total 5.6 million acres of land in CRP this year, easily surpassing the 3.9 million acres that is in contracts expiring in October.

“Grassland CRP clearly demonstrates, time and time again, that conservation priorities and agricultural productivity not only have the capacity to coexist but also complement and enhance one another,” said Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack.

About half the new grasslands acreage is located in one of two priority zones: the Dust Bowl region of the southern and central Plains, and the Yellowstone region.

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Why it matters: CRP is a major tool in the Biden administration’s effort to show that U.S. agriculture can reduce greenhouse gas emissions. But enrollment remains well under the limit set by the 2018 farm bill. About 22.1 million acres are currently enrolled, including 3.9 million acres in the grasslands option. The program is capped at 27 million acres for fiscal 2023, which starts Oct. 1.

Monsanto loses FIFRA pre-emption case in 11th Circuit

Another federal appeals court has rejected Monsanto’s argument that the nation’s pesticide law pre-empts state-law claims that the company failed to provide adequately warnings of Roundup’s carcinogenic potential.

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the 11th Circuit Court in Atlanta said nothing EPA has done with regard to glyphosate, the active ingredient in the herbicide, carries the force of law. That’s the threshold test for determining whether pre-emption exists.

The court remanded the case to the district court.

Parent company Bayer, which recently had petitions making the pre-emption argument get rejected by the Supreme Court, said it disagreed. In a statement, the company said “the court's determination that the FIFRA's statutory registration process is not sufficiently formal to trigger preemption is inconsistent with Supreme Court precedent, and the company will review its legal options regarding further proceedings.”

The 9th Circuit previously ruled against Monsanto on the same issue.

US feed group gets USDA help to spread info to Chinese buyers

There’s a lot of educational material out there to help influence China’s animal feed buyers, and the American Feed Industry Association is working to make sure the Chinese can read it.

AFIA is getting funds from USDA’s Market Access Program to translate articles on the benefits of U.S. feed products into Mandarin and post them on social media platforms like Weibo.

“Supported by increased population growth, urbanization and income growth, China’s forecasted meat demand continues to be promising, which directly relates to overall animal feed consumption,” says AFIA. “China’s population is projected to peak at 1.45 billion by 2030.”

He said it. “Don’t say I work for Big Oil. I cry on the inside when that happens.”  Scott Hedderich, executive director of corporate affairs for Chevron Renewable Energy Group.  Chevron Corp. completed its acquisition of Iowa-based REG Inc. in June. Hedderich was speaking at a soybean industry meeting.

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