READ the NAFB’s National Ag News for Monday, August 22nd…

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Obama Still Has Shot at Passing TPP

Fortune Magazine reported last week that President Barack Obama still has a shot at passing the Trans-Pacific Partnership trade agreement. It remains to be a longshot, however, as Congressional leaders claim the agreement does not have enough support to pass Congress. New research suggests Republicans in Congress are turning sour on trade agreements, while some Rust Belt Democrats have indicated they may support Donald Trump in the presidential election because Hillary Clinton has previously supported TPP and NAFTA. International trade lawyer Alan Wolff writes that the majority of Americans support free trade, citing a Pew Research Center survey taken in March. The survey found 51 percent of Americans say free trade agreements are good, versus 39 percent against them. Wolff charges Congress with not representing the will of the majority of citizens who approve of TPP. President Obama is expected to send the agreement to Congress following the November elections. However, time in the lame-duck session is limited. Lame-duck sessions typically last about a month.


HFCS Prices Near Records as Usage Nears Lows

The four major U.S. corn syrup makers are raising prices at a time of slowing demand. Corn sweetener manufacturers like Archer Daniels Midland and Cargill sent letters to customers earlier this month that were obtained by Reuters, and seek to lock in prices for 2017. High-fructose corn syrup, or HFCS, is trading at the highest in U.S. Department of Agriculture records dating back to 1994, even as U.S. consumption of carbonated soft drinks, which accounts for two-thirds or more of HFCS usage, sank to a three-decade low. The corn syrup manufacturers, which make up the Corn Refiners Association, are seeking to raise prices by a minimum of $1.50 to $2.50 per hundredweight, down from increases of $3.50 to $4.50 last year. The companies, according to the letters, were seeking to wrap up contracts extending into 2017 by the end of August. Reuters says higher prices have prompted some food makers to consider shifting to sugar, especially beet sugar, which is generally cheaper than cane sugar. Food manufacturers are also facing growing consumer demand for so-called clean label products that are free of ingredients such as HFCS, according to industry analysts.

Farm Groups Discuss Ag Policy with Trump

Agriculture groups made their pitch on policy to Republican candidate for President Donald Trump last week, after sitting down two months ago with the Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton. The American Soybean Association said the groups used the meeting to highlight “several big, broad policy areas as examples of matters deserving attention during the election, including agricultural trade, food safety, farm bill and crop insurance programs, ag labor, infrastructure and the importance of science-based regulatory policy.” The groups met with the Clinton Campaign in June. Other organizations represented in the meeting include the American Farm Bureau Federation, commodity groups representing soybeans, corn, cotton and wheat, and the National Farmers Union, among others.


Federal Review of Cattle Markets to Last Months

A review of U.S. cattle markets and live cattle futures by the Government Accountability Office will last until at least May of 2017. A spokesman for the GAO says the investigation is being done at the request of the Senate Judiciary Committee. Pro Farmer’s First Thing Today reports the review was announced in May of this year to look at the reasons for a sharp drop in cattle futures in 2015. The investigation includes examining the impact of high-frequency trading and other changes in the fed cattle market the past ten years. CME Group, which operates U.S. cattle futures markets, has said high-frequency trading accounts for 10 percent of the volume in CME’s cattle markets and 50 percent of its overall average daily volume.

U.S. Beef Gaining Market Share in Japan

Beef exporters from the United States continue to increase market share in Japan as they battle with exporters from Australia. Global Meat News reports shipments of U.S. beef to Japan rose 12 percent in volume and five percent in value to $707.2 million over the first six months of the year. The increase comes despite the preferred beef from Australia which benefits from more favorable tariffs. U.S. producers, in line with other suppliers, face a 38.5 percent tariff rate on beef exports to Japan. Australian producers pay a 30.5 percent tariff on chilled beef and 27.5 percent for frozen, thanks to the Japan­Australia Economic Partnership Agreement, which went into effect at the start of 2015. Japan is one of the world’s leading importers of beef.

Canada Records First Beef Herd Increase Since 2012

Canada beef producers increased the nation’s overall beef herd by one percent in the last year, the first increase since 2012. Statistics Canada released livestock estimated as of July first, last week. The report shows 13.2 million cattle on Canada’s beef farms, up 1.3 percent from 2015. Canadian cattle market analyst Charlie Gracey wrote in the publication Canadian Cattlemen recently, noting “a significant supply increase likely won’t be seen until 2020 at the earliest,” in Canada. Overall, cattle inventories are still down 21.8 percent from the peak level recorded in July of 2005. Canada’s exports, meanwhile, were down 10.6 percent during the first half of 2016, compared to the same period in 2015. Canada’s hog producers also booked a bigger total herd as of July first at 13.5 million head, up 1.9 percent from the same date last year. Hog exports from Canada totaled 2.9 million head in the first half of 2016, down 0.1 percent from the same period in 2015.

SOURCE: NAFB News Service