Bayer vows to fight 8,000 glyphosate lawsuits
The German agribusiness giant has officially taken over Monsanto and its Roundup family of herbicides, including associated legal claims of cancer liability.

Bayer, the new owner of Monsanto and its flagship Roundup and other glyphosate-based herbicides, has acknowledged 8,000 litigations against the products in the US and said it will continue to defend them.

On 10 August, a jury in San Francisco awarded €255m against Monsanto ($39m in compensation and $250m in punitive damages) after groundskeeper Dewayne Johnson claimed that glyphosate-based herbicides had caused him to develop non-Hodgkins lymphoma, a type of cancer.

"Glyphosate was not the cause. A verdict by one jury in one case does not change the scientific facts and the conclusion of regulators that glyphosate does not cause cancer," Bayer chief executive Werner Baumann said in a conference call with financial analysts on Thursday.

He added that 8,000 legal cases were pending before state and federal courts in the US as of the end of July. The next trial will start in October in Missouri.

We want to make sure that glyphosate will continue to be available

"We will vigorously defend this case and also the cases that are up and coming," Baumann said. "We want to make sure that glyphosate will continue to be available."

In the Johnson v Monsanto case, the manufacturer's legal team will first file a motion with the court's judge to overturn the jury verdict, and is prepared to appeal to a higher court if this fails, Baumann said.

Brazil case

He also gave an update on a case in Brazil, where a court ordered the regulatory agency to remove glyphosate's licence within 30 days of a 3 August decision because of non-compliance with approval procedures. Baumann said Brazil's attorney general had applied to overturned the injunction on Wednesday.

He was speaking as Bayer officially took control of Monsanto on Tuesday after clearing regulatory obligations in the US.

"We are now the leading ag company in the world," Baumann said.

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US agrees new Farm Bill
Politicians have struck a deal to pass delayed legislation that will maintain supports to US farmers.

European farmers already know that the CAP may face delays ahead of its 2020 renewal deadline, but US farmers have been without legislation to underpin their support schemes since September.

The impasse, prolonged by last month's legislative elections, could be about to end after Republican and Democratic members of the US House and Senate Agriculture Committee agreed on a new Farm Bill on Monday.

“America’s farmers and ranchers are weathering the fifth year of severe recession, so passing a farm bill this week that strengthens the farm safety net is vitally important,” said committee chair Mike Conaway.

Two years of discussions

The bill has been under discussion for the past two years and will continue insurance schemes and reference price levels available to US farmers for protection against market volatility. Analysis of the deal by US media shows that it will become easier for farmers to switch between different support schemes, while reference prices will increase by up to 15%.

"It also invests $300 million in the prevention and response for animal pests and disease," said committee member Collin Peterson. "More broadly, the bill invests in research, outreach to beginning and underserved producers, local and organic food production, bioenergy, and access to new markets. It also addresses broadband, farm stress and mental health issues, and the opioid epidemic in rural areas."

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Watch: US cow prices at their lowest in 20 years
The Irish Farmers Journal visitedCalifornia for the Turlock Livestock Auction Yard sale of dairy stock on Friday 30 November.

Livestock markets in the US are depressed at the moment, with prices at their lowest level in 20 years. The dairy and beef industries have increased cull cow slaughter by 107,000 head and 237,000 head respectively over the last year, figures from the Livestock Marketing Information Centre (LMIC) show. In total cull cow slaughter is up 7.3%.

The latest prices reported by the USDA’s National Agricultural Statistics Service show that prices are at their lowest since October 1998.

For the quarter ending 1 October, 2018, the average cow price in the US was $1,230, (€1,077) a drop from the prior quarter of $90 (down 7%), according to the USDA figures. Year-on-year decline was $380 per cow (a drop of 24%).

Weak milk prices

“That price adjustment reflects what producers see as the drop in the income earning potential of a purchased cow due to weak farm-level milk prices,” aLMIC statement said.

Prices have not improved in any state, with just Arizona and South Dakota reporting no change to third quarter prices.

“Year-over-year, two states had a drop of larger than 30%, Minnesota [33%] and Ohio [31%],” the statement added.

Prices at Turlock

Prices for freshly calved heifers at the Turlock sale last week ranged from €600 to €1,100. Any heifers that had already calved were sold separately to their calves. Calves typically sold for in the region of $30 to $50 per head (€25 to €45).

This 785kg springing heifer sold for $1,125 (€992).

This 670kg springing heifer sold for $1,200 (€1,058).

This 580kg springing heifer sold for $950 (€838).

This 535kg springing heifer sold for $700 (€617).

This 435kg Jersey cross bred springing heifer sold for $825 (€728).

This 608kg springing heifer sold for $1,000 (€882).

This 572kg springing heifer sold for $900 (€794).

Arla cuts milk price
One of the largest dairy co-ops in northern Europe has announced a price drop for the coming month.

Danish-based Arla Foods will cut its on-account price by 1c/l from 1 December, the co-op announced this Friday.

When applied to the UK manufacturing price, this equates to a reduction of 0.89p/l, taking the UK price to 31.57p/l at 4.2% fat and 3.4% protein.

“While seasonal demand is in part enabling prices to remain relatively stable, European milk volumes are holding up better than expected and global volumes continue to grow, which has resulted in reduced market prices overall,” said Arla director Johnnie Russell.

One exception is organic milk, where the co-op still needs to increase volumes to satisfy growing demand.

The organic price will remain unchanged for Arla's continental farmers and increase by 1.79p/l in the UK.

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