READ the NAFB’s National Ag News for Monday, August 29th…

CLICK HERE to listen to TODAY's BARN Morning Ag News with Brian Allmer...

CLICK HERE to listen to TODAY’s BARN Morning Ag News with Brian Allmer…

Sponsored by the American Farm Bureau Federation

Senate Won’t Take Up TPP This Year

Republican Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky appeared to shut the door on the Senate taking up the Trans-Pacific Partnership Bill this year. McConnell said the current agreement has some serious flaws and will not be acted upon this year. He did say while the agreement won’t pass in its current form, it could pass as early as next year with some changes when the new administration takes over. However, Republican Presidential Candidate Donald Trump and Democratic Presidential Candidate Hillary Clinton both have come out against the deal. President Obama has pledged to push for the trade deal during his remaining time in office. He even went so far as to send a draft agreement to Congress but it seems to have lost momentum on Capitol Hill. McConnell had already said the agreement wouldn’t get a vote, and Speaker of the House Paul Ryan said the bill doesn’t have enough votes to pass the House.

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Chile to Send TPP Agreement to Its Congress

The government of Chile plans to send the Trans-Pacific Partnership agreement to its Congress for approval by the end of this year. The 12-nation agreement aims to liberalize trade business in 40 percent of the world’s economy. However, the agreement is struggling in the U.S. as both major-party presidential candidates have spoken out against the deal. Criticism of the deal by unions in some of the country’s member states has been fierce. Opponents have accused the negotiators of not being transparent enough. Groups protesting TPP have joined with groups that are pushing for radical reform in the education and pension systems. The Chilean President said the agreement will benefit the country while it also has protections built in for some of the country’s more sensitive areas. Chile already has bilateral agreements with other members of TPP but this would deepen its links to those countries.

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Co-ops and Ag Retailers Face Economic Challenges

Farm supply co-ops and other ag retailers are seeing their accounts receivable balances on the rise and are facing challenges as a result. A new report out from Cobank says retailers are having to adjust to tougher financial conditions because of the current ag commodity cycle. This is a direct result of low commodity prices that have knocked down farm incomes and tightened up on-farm cash flows. The ag industry has seen a downturn in fertilizer prices as well as mergers in the seed and fertilizer industries. “The drop in farm income over the past three season is the biggest we’ve seen since the Great Depression,” said Tyler Ehmke, a Cobank senior economist. He said accounts receivable balances at ag retailers across the country have jumped 11 percent this year and will likely go higher as farmers continue to struggle with their cash flow balances. Fertilizers usually account for half the revenue stream for ag retailers, but those prices are falling as well, making it difficult to maintain positive margins.

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USDA Quarterly Export Forecast Shows Higher Numbers

The U.S. Department of Agriculture released a revised export forecast for the remainder of 2016 as well as a forecast for 2017. Both reports show U.S. ag export have begun to rally and should be able to keep up with the record-setting pace that first began in 2009. Total exports for the fiscal year 2017 are projected to be $133 billion, which is $6 billion higher than the previous forecast and would be the sixth highest total on record. The U.S. ag trade surplus is projected to rise to $19.5 billion, which is 40% higher than 2016. Commodities like U.S. oilseeds, horticultural goods, cotton, livestock, dairy, and poultry are expected to lead the way to higher export numbers. Global beef demand is also projected to strengthen as well. China is expected to overtake Canada as the top destination for American agricultural products. USDA also revised the fiscal year 2016 export numbers to $127 billion, $2.5 billion higher than the previous forecast.

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More Milkweed in the Heartland

The Environmental Defense Fund wants to reestablish milkweed in the Midwest and they’re talking with farmers about the best way to do that. Milkweed is the preferred food of the Monarch butterfly. The Monarch population is estimated to be down by 95 percent and a shortage of milkweed is said to be one of the chief reasons. EDF staff and scientist just finished up visiting with Nebraska farmers and are heading to Iowa and Minnesota next. The visits are part of an effort to establish a Monarch Butterfly Habitat Exchange. It’s a conservation initiative in which landowners who create and maintain habitat can get paid for their efforts. Businesses that disrupt habitat can purchase credits, which would create a market dynamic. EDF is currently conducting field tests and pilot programs, aiming to get the exchange up and running by the end of 2017.

SOURCE: NAFB News Service

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