Today’s quick hits, Nov. 2, 2018

Farm groups support merger halt (Organization for Competitive Markets): More than 200 farm, rural, food, and other advocacy groups signed a letter asking members of Congress to support legislation from Sen. Cory Booker and Rep. Mark Pocan that would temporarily halt agribusiness mergers.

An all-natural bug repellent (USDA): Compounds derived from coconut oil are better than DEET at repelling blood-sucking insects, a new USDA study found.

Farmers stand by Trump (Agri-Pulse): In a recent telephone poll, nearly 8 in 10 farmers, a highly Republican group, said they approve or strongly approve of President Trump’s job performance. The farmers gave the administration high marks for renegotiating trade agreements and providing regulatory relief.

Separate ag and environment ministries (Reuters): Backtracking on a campaign pledge, Brazil’s president-elect, Jair Bolsonaro, said he may keep the agriculture and environment ministries as separate entities rather than merging them, an idea that was criticized by environmentalists.

Bigger may not ‘bee’ better (New Food Economy): As plant breeders modify crops to grow bigger or faster, the plants may become less attractive to the bees that are essential to pollinating them, say researchers.

South Dakota dicamba complaints drop (Tri-State Neighbor): State officials credit a reduction in complaints of dicamba damage to crops — 110 complaints this year vs. 170 in 2017 — to self-imposed deadlines to stop using the weedkiller and to the use of the proper nozzle heads on sprayer rigs.