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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€2.5bn compensation for Canadian farmers over trade deals
The Canadian government's budget includes multi-billion payments to farmers facing increased competition from the EU and elsewhere.

A surge of imported agri-food commodities such as Irish dairy products under new trade agreements has led the Canadian government to include a €2.5bn support package for farmers in its budget proposal this Tuesday.

Canadian farmers have been worried about access for European cheese and other products under the Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA), while the Tran-Pacific Partnership has also entered into force and a new Canada-US-Mexico trade agreement was recently concluded.

We will make available an income protection program for supply-managed farmers, along with a measure to protect the value of quota

"To ensure that Canada's dairy, poultry and egg farmers can continue to provide Canadians with high-quality products in a world of free trade, we will make available an income protection programme for supply-managed farmers, along with a measure to protect the value of quota investments these farmers have already made," said Canadian Finance Minister Bill Morneau.

He announced a €1.4bn top-up to existing direct payments to farmers affected by greater competition as a result of CETA, and €1bn to compensate farmers for the loss of value in their quota.

Dairy, poultry and egg farmers in Canada are in a quota system similar to dairy in the EU prior to 2015.

Those sectors represent around 20,000 farmers, which puts the average compensation announced in Tuesday's budget at over €100,000 per farm.

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Fonterra revises its milk price forecast upwards
Fonterra Co-op in New Zealand has increased its 2018/19 forecast farmgate milk price.

The Fonterra farmgate milk price range has increased from $6.30 to $6.60 (€3.79 to €3.97) per kgMS for the 2018/19 season. This is up from from $6.00 to $6.30 (€3.61 to €3.79). However, it has revised its forecast earnings down to between 15c and 25c per share (€0.09 to €0.15 per share).

Fonterra expects that milk volumes will be up by 2% on last year.

Chair John Monaghan says the improved milk price forecast reflects the increases in global milk prices over the last quarter.

“Since our last milk price update in December, global demand has strengthened. This is driven predominantly by stronger demand from Asia, including Greater China,” he said.

“The European Union’s (EU) intervention stocks of skim milk powder (SMP) have also now cleared for the season and, as a result, we expect demand for SMP to be strong.”

Since our last milk price update in December, global demand has strengthened

Australia’s milk production is forecast to be down 5% to 7% on last season and the EU’s growth has slowed and is now forecast to be less than 1% up on last year.

“Here in New Zealand, due to hot, dry weather since the start of the year, we’ve revised our co-op’s forecast milk collections down from 1,550m kgMS to 1,530m kgMS. This is up 2% on last year,” Monaghan said.

Demand

“We expect demand to remain stronger relative to supply for the rest of the season.”

However, Fonterra says that earnings performance in the co-op is not satisfactory and “a fundamental change in direction” is needed to deliver on its full potential.

“We are taking a close look at our business with our portfolio review, where we can win in the world, and the products and markets where we have a real competitive advantage,” Monaghan said.

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Russian beef giant moves into lamb industry
The first batch of lambs have been slaughtered at the Miratorg factory in Bryansk, Oblast, Russia.

Beef giant, Miratorg, has processed its first 4,000t of lamb as part of its venture into the sheep industry.

The sheep were reared on a pilot farm with the capacity for 50,000 head, Global Meat News reports.

Miratorg is run by the Linnikov brothers who are Russia’s biggest farmers. They started out in the pig and poultry industries, only forming the fully integrated beef operation in 2006.

Most of Miratorg’s beef operations are centred around Bryansk, which is 550km southwest of Moscow.

The new venture into lamb was announced in October 2018. The company plans to invest €368m in the project by 2023, keep 1.3m sheep across 12 farms and produce 71,200t of sheepmeat per year.

Most of Miratorg’s beef operations are centred around Bryansk, which is 550km southwest of Moscow

“We evidenced a strong demand among consumers for this type of product and, in future, plan to open several other sheep breeding farms in the black earth region,” said Miratorg president Viktor Linnik.

“The expansion of the pilot project would increase both the economic and physical availability of this type of meat for Russian consumers, and would improve the export potential of Russia’s meat industry.”

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