French farmer wins court case against Bayer-Monsanto
A court in France has ruled that the manufacturer of a weedkiller was responsible for a farmer's illness.

A court of appeal in Lyon, France found this Thursday that sprays manufacturer Monsanto (now part of the Bayer group) was responsible for the illness of a farmer who inhaled fumes from the Lasso herbicide.

The incident took place in 2004, when tillage farmer Paul François fell ill after opening a container used to handle the weedkiller. He has remained in poor health ever since.

According to French media reports, the court upheld the farmer's claim that product labelling failed to warn him against this risk. Monsanto's lawyers argued that he knew the product was dangerous and may lodge a further appeal.

Damages

The judges referred a decision on compensation to another court. Mr François is seeking over €1m in damages.

The lobby group Phyto-Victimes founded by the farmer to represent people suffering from pesticide contamination has accused Monsanto of using delaying tactics before the three successive courts that heard the case since 2007.

Medical investigations identified chlorobenzene, a solvent used in the weedkiller, as the source of the farmers's poisoning.

Lasso is no longer available to European farmers.

200,000ha Australian farm bought by Saudi firm
The deal to sell the farm is worth in the region of €38m.

A 200,000ha farm in Western Australia’s wheatbelt has been snapped up by the Saudi Agricultural and Livestock Investment Company (SALIC).

The farm, which was owned by grain farmer John Nicoletti, is understood to have been sold in a deal worth €38.1m.

Along with the 200,000ha, the deal also includes a 40,000-head Merino sheep flock.

The acquisition of the farm, which is held under the Baladjie Pty Ltd name, received clearance from Australia’s Foreign Investment Review Board (FIRB).

Equipment

Included in the deal are the farm's four-grain elevators, two processing plants, a potato storage facility, equipment, and land-lease agreements.

Commenting on the deal, SALIC Kingdom of Saudi Arabia CEO Matthew Jansen said: “The acquisition of Baladjie is an important step for SALIC as we continue to build our global footprint in a meaningful way.

“It is our first acquisition in Australia, as well as our first investment in sheep production.”

SALIC’s head of production agriculture investments William England said that the local team will build on the legacy of John Nicoletti, with plans to manage the livestock and grain production enterprise for the long term with a focus on sustainability, profitability, environmental responsibility and support for the local rural community.

SALIC aims to be a world-class food security-focused agribusiness investment company, making sizeable, meaningful and scalable investments while ensuring a balanced risk optimised portfolio.

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Vigilante animal activists targeting farms could face prison in Australia
The current Australian government has said that if re-elected it would introduce legislation to jail vigilante animal activists targeting farms.

Vigilante animal activists could face up to 12 months in prison for sharing personal information which allows them to target and trespass on farms, if the current Australian government is re-elected.

A joint statement from Australian attorney general Christian Porter and Australian minister for agriculture David Littleproud this week said that the government would introduce a new offence designed specifically to protect farmers and primary producers from the unlawful actions of animal activists.

Malicious

Porter said: "We have seen with Aussie farms the malicious use of personal information, including farmers' names, addresses and workplaces, designed specifically to encourage others to trespass on properties and damage businesses.

"This is not acceptable and the Morrison government will, if re-elected, introduce a new criminal offence specifically designed to protect Australian farmers from the sort of vigilante action we have seen this week.

"Penalties of up to 12 months imprisonment will apply to individuals who use a carriage service, such as the internet, to disclose personal information with the intention that another person would use that information to trespass on agricultural land. The law would also apply to other primary producers such as abattoirs,” he said.

He also said the new laws would include appropriate exemptions for bona-fide journalists and for situations where the information being released shows a law being broken, such as whistleblowing on animal cruelty.

Protection

Minister for agriculture David Littleproud said farming families deserved protection.

"I've been fighting this Aussie Farms attack map for activists for months and this is a great day," he said.

"If you use the personal information of our family farmers to incite trespass then you deserve to go to jail. Farming families grow our food and there are children on these farms.

"Now states must beef up farm trespass laws. If 100 of my mates stormed a house in Sydney we'd expect to be locked up and farmers deserve the same protection.

"The Morrison Government will always protect farmers, whilst ensuring that those who do mistreat their animals face appropriate action."

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Global Dairy Trade records 0.8% rise
The New Zealand Global Dairy Trade auction recorded another strong increase in butter prices.

The latest Global Dairy Trade auction has concluded with a 0.8% increase, marking the ninth consecutive auction where an increase was recorded.

Butter and cheddar both recorded an increase, with butter prices surging by 5.8% up to US$5,374 (€4,802)/t, while cheddar increased by 3.2% to US$4,248 (€3,796)/t.

Skimmed milk powder (WMP) was also up, with a 1.8% increase to US$2,468 (€2,921)/t.

Whole milk powder (SMP) recorded a drop of 1.3%, to an average price of US$2,405 (€2,149)/t.

Overall, there were 109 winning bidders with 166 bidders taking part. A total of 17,854t was sold.

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