READ the NAFB’s National Ag News for Tuesday, November 15th…

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Sponsored by the American Farm Bureau Federation

Japan Passes TPP

Japan’s lower House of Parliament passed the Trans-Pacific Partnership trade agreement this week. A German web publication says experts view the move as an empty gesture because U.S. President-elect Donald Trump rejects the deal. Japanese lawmakers approved the free trade deal that includes Japan, the U.S., and ten other countries that together make up 40 percent of the world’s economy. Outgoing U.S. President Obama championed the deal in the face of China’s increasing economic clout in the world economy. Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe made TPP a big part of his plan to revive the Japanese export sector of the economy. London-based Capital Economics said the Japanese hopes for TPP were “dead and buried,” and the upshot for Japan is substantial long-term economic losses with no TPP in effect. In September, President Obama warned that China is pushing for its own long-term trade deal with the Asian region and that America wouldn’t be welcome in any deal set up by China. President-elect Trump says he’s in favor of free trade deals but existing agreements like the North American Free Trade Agreement weren’t negotiated with American interests in mind.  


Farm Groups Begin Lame-Duck TPP Push

Farm Groups are beginning a final push for action on the Trans-Pacific Partnership free trade agreement in the lame-duck session of Congress, but the uphill climb is getting steeper. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said this week he wouldn’t be holding a vote on TPP until Donald Trump takes office. Texas Republican Kevin Brady, House Ways and Means Chair, said Trump would be the one to determine the way forward. The Hagstrom Report says a spokesman for U.S. Trade Representative Michael Froman called it, “Republicans playing politics with TPP. It’s all about Donald Trump and nothing else.” New York Democrat Chuck Schumer, the incoming Senate Minority Leader, told the Washington Post that TPP is “dead in the water.” The National Association of Wheat Growers is urging Congress to take action, noting that wheat growers rely on export markets to ease low prices. Since February, the average cash price for wheat has dropped from an unprofitable $4.90 a bushel to a disastrous $3.50 per bushel.


E.U. Advisers Pushing for U.S.-Style Insurance Program

A European Union commission is looking into ways of protecting its farmers from environmental disasters and large price swings. To accomplish the goal, a group of experts are recommending that the E.U. adopt a U.S.-style private insurance system. The Commission recommends the E.U. move away from ad hoc-style disaster payments that were sent to farmers in 2015 and this year. The Commission wants to see a uniform system adopted across the Union. The group says such actions “are vital if the E.U. wishes to invest in improving the uptake of risk management in member states.” POLITICO Europe reports a recommendation to shift resources from the Common Agricultural Policy to fund an E.U.-wide risk management policy. They also want to fund a dedicated platform that could be used to share best risk-management practices to avoid financial difficulties when disasters hit or market prices drop substantially.


EPA Will Not Change Biofuels Program

Oil industry groups recently filed several petitions with the Environmental Protection Agency requesting changes to American biofuels programs. The EPA announced this week it will deny all of the petitions. A Reuters article says several groups wanted the Agency to begin a full rule-making process in order to change the “point of obligation” requirement in the Renewable Fuels Standard. The RFS establishes targets for the amount of biofuels that are blended into the nation’s fuel supply. Several groups wanted to do away with that obligation or push the obligation into the future because they say it burdens refiners that have little to no capacity to blend biofuels at their operations. Multiple refining operations say they’re being squeezed by higher costs from government mandates to blend increasing amounts biofuels into their products. The EPA did decide to open a 60-day public comment period on the topic, which the oil industry says is a sign that the issue is worth serious consideration. The oil industry has spent millions lobbying against the Renewable Fuels Standard. The industry says the targets set by Congress in the policy are unachievable without a serious overhaul of the nation’s infrastructure.


Canada Makes Big Investment in Dairy Industry

The Dairy Farmers of Canada organization was very happy with the government’s plans to invest $250 million dollars into the nation’s dairy farms. The government will also contribute $100 million in funding to help spur investments into updating the nation’s dairy processing infrastructure. The DFA says it’s a good step to help grow the dairy sector but it doesn’t do away with all the damage they say will be caused by the Canada-European Union Comprehensive Trade Agreement, or CETA. The Dairy Farmers of Canada say CETA will result in up to two percent of milk market share in Canada being taken over by the EU. The DFA says that’s the equivalent of nearly 18,000 tons of cheese that will no longer be produced in Canada, resulting in a loss of $116 million dollars in revenue. The DFA called the announcement “a significant step in demonstrating their commitment to supply management as well as continued growth of Canada’s dairy sector. However, work still remains to be done and the government has a significant role to play.”


Weak La Nina Weather Pattern Officially Arrives

Government weather forecasters say La Nina has officially arrived and will likely affect American weather patterns into next year. La Nina is the periodic cooling of water in the central Pacific Ocean that affects weather patterns around the world. An Associated Press article says current predictions say La Nina has a good chance to hang around into February. Mike Halper of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration says, “It’s anticipated to be a weak and short-lived event.” In the U.S., a typical La Nina means wetter weather in the northern Rockies, Pacific Northwest, and the Ohio valley. It usually means a drier winter in southern California, the southeast U.S., and the southern plains. The most recent NOAA forecast called for a wet winter in the northern Rockies, Great Lakes region, Hawaii, and western Alaska. NOAA called for warmer and drier than normal conditions in the south, while the nation’s midsection was called a “tossup” in the most recent forecast.


Dairy Industry Segment Doesn’t Want TPP

Many Ag industry groups like the American Farm Bureau and National Cattlemen’s Beef Association have recently been strong supporters of the Trans-Pacific Partnership freed trade agreement. A segment within the dairy industry isn’t so sure TPP will be beneficial in its current form. The Wisconsin Farmers Union surveyed 1,000 dairy producers and 80 percent expressed serious concerns about milk imports and think the deal should be rejected until those concerns are dealt with. The Wisconsin Farmers Union thinks the trade deal would open up a large influx of milk concentrates from New Zealand. They fear those imports will replace a great deal of Wisconsin milk in cheese production. The deal would allow dairy producers access to 11 other countries in the TPP, like Japan. The survey revealed some concerns that farmers have about currency manipulation on the island country. However, other groups like the Dairy Farmers of America say the TPP deal will be good for producers because of better access and lower tariffs in growing markets around the world. The DFA says America has exported 15 percent of its overall milk production in recent years and that number will only grow with TPP in place.


NASCAR Will Surpass 10 Million Miles on Biofuel

At the end of its current season, NASCAR will surpass 10 million competition miles on Sunoco (sun-know’-co) Green E15, a biofuel blended with 15 percent American-made ethanol. The miles have been totaled up over practice, qualifying and racing laps since the sport adopted the biofuel six years ago. NASCAR entered into a partnership with Sunoco and American Ethanol and launched a long-term biofuels program across its three national series of races. The goal behind the decision was to reduce emissions. The biofuel first made its debut at Daytona International Speedway in Florida back in 2011. “As we approach 10 million miles, it’s evident that the renewable, higher ethanol blended fuel performs flawlessly against rigorous racing conditions,” said Brent Dewar, Chief Operating Officer at NASCAR. He added, “This milestone is the result of an industry-wide commitment to demonstrate high performance racing with reduced emissions, along with educating our fans about the benefits of sustainable and renewable American ethanol.”  

SOURCE: NAFB News Service