WASHINGTON, Sept. 6, 2016 - USDA’s announcement that it’s making available an additional $185 million worth of direct and guaranteed operating loans is getting cheers from agriculture groups.

The new credit is made possible by redirecting other USDA funds with the approval of Congress and it is especially good news for beginning farmers who often have more difficulty getting loans, said the National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition.

“Without operating loans and access to reliable and timely credit, many farmers would be unable to sustain their businesses; those new to the industry would likely be unable to even get their operations off the ground,” the group said.

National Farmers Union President Roger Johnson said USDA’s Farm Service Agency now has to concentrate on making sure the farmers who were waiting for that credit get it.

“NFU has been in constant contact with Members of Congress and the USDA over the need for additional credit,” Johnson said. “We are thankful they heard our message and acted swiftly to aid producers. We are also confident that they understand that additional steps are needed for those who have been approved for FSA loans but are part of the backlog.”

FSA Administrator Val Dolcini said he wants to get the word out that the agency now has plenty of funds for farmers that need a loan but didn’t think it would be possible until Oct. 1, which is the beginning of the 2017 fiscal year. The full story is at Agri-Pulse.

Bayer announces progress in Monsanto acquisition.  German chemical giant Bayer is announcing that negotiations to buy seed giant Monsanto have reached an “advanced” stage. Bayer ssays in a new statement that it has increased its offer to $127.50 per Monsanto share, but also stressed that “key terms and conditions have not yet been agreed” and there is “no assurance that the parties will enter into an agreement.”

Bayer first announced its intention to buy Monsanto in May and in July increased its offer to $125 a share from $122 a share.

Vilsack wants more than just a CR from Congress. Lawmakers are returning this week from an extra-long summer recess. Their No. 1 job this month will be to pass a continuing resolution to fund the government before the next fiscal year starts on Oct. 1.

Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack told reporters recently that he expects Congress to succeed in averting a government shutdown, but he still hopes lawmakers will improve the way it funds federal fire fighting. Beyond just the cost of putting out wildfires, more funds are needed to routinely prevent fires as well as restore burned-out forests, Vilsack said.

“One of the most important budget decisions they’re going to have to make is how we’re going to continue to fight these forest fires,” he said. “We’re spending anywhere from $100 million to $200 million a week during serious fire season and we have got to figure out a better way of funding our forest fire fighting capacity.”

USDA says earlier crops mean more precise predictions. USDA may have especially accurate forecasts for corn and soybean yields this month when it releases the new World Agricultural Supply and Demand Estimate on Sept. 12, according to Lance Honig, crops branch chief for the National Agricultural Statistics Service.

The corn and soybean fields that NASS monitors to make its predictions are about a month earlier than their normal development stage, and that should make for more precise predictions this month, USDA said in an audio posting.

“The more mature the crop is, the easier it is to interpret what that final yield is going to be,” Honig said, “So being a little ahead this year should give us a little bit of an advantage.”

Farm Bureau president headlines cattle rancher event. American Farm Bureau President Zippy Duvall will be heading to Billings, Montana, Saturday to participate in the Cattle Producers Forum at the U.S. Cattlemen’s Association’s annual meeting. 

The forum is titled “Next Generation of Producers & Consumers: How to be profitable in the 21st century.” Duvall said much of his focus will be on the next generation of farmers, an issue important to all agriculture sectors.

“Certainly a goal where farm groups can and should work together is finding ways to encourage new, young farmers and ranchers, and help them get started in agriculture,” Duvall said. “I look forward to sharing ideas about how we might do that.”

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