READ the NAFB’s National Ag News for Monday, December 19th

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READ the NAFB’s National Ag News for Monday, December 19th

Panel Hears EPA Testimony on Glyphosate

A Scientific Advisory Panel studying glyphosate links to cancer heard testimony last week on the topic. The Environmental Protection Agency gave a presentation last week before the panel saying the consensus is that based on the scientific data EPA has collected, glyphosate is unlikely to cause cancer in humans. In addition to the EPA presentation, the panel also took public comments. One significant event before the panel was witnesses calling into question the research done by Christopher Portier, co-author of a report from the International Agency for Research on Cancer. In July of 2015, Portier gave a scientific briefing in London, saying he was convinced that glyphosate causes genetic damage to humans, which in turn would lead to cancer. Many scientists and glyphosate supporters called his research into question. Witnesses before the scientific panel testified that Portier admitted some of his research into tumor development was done incorrectly. A number of farmers and representatives from the agriculture industry also testified before the Scientific Advisory Panel.

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China Will Deal With Trade Dispute Appropriately

China’s Minister of Commerce said it will deal with a dispute over rice, wheat, and corn import quotas through official channels through the World Trade Organization. In a statement, the Minister said it regretted the U.S. decision to challenge China’s quotas at the World Trade Organization and would deal with the move appropriately. The U.S. says China is not fairly administering its import quotas on corn, rice, and wheat. The U.S. request filed before the WTO says China’s policies impede export opportunities, affecting producers from around the world. Chinese Tariff Rate Quotas were put in place when it joined the WTO back in 2011. U.S. Grains Council President and CEO Tom Sleight says, “We believe in a strong trade policy and market development. These are guiding principles in our trade development with China, a complex and important trading partner for the U.S.” USGC says it believe the WTO provides structure and accountability for global trade and hopes this step, as well as ongoing work in China, will continue to support a long-term and mutually beneficial trading relationship with China.

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E.U.-Canada Trade Deal In Trouble Again

The European Parliament Employment Committee voted to reject the Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement between the E.U. and Canada. The margin was narrow at 27-24. The Committee advised against approval over fears that more than 200,000 E.U. jobs would be lost. Opponents of CETA also want protections for foreign company investments against government interference. The E.U. Foreign Affairs and Environmental Committees are expecting to cast votes on the deal as well. Parliament is expected to hold a final vote on the deal in 2017. If it’s passed, the deal also needs approval from each of the 28 member states as well as Belgium’s regions. The Wallonia region of Belgium held up the approval process earlier in the year, putting the deal in rocky waters. CETA has been called a test model for an even more controversial trade agreement between the U.S. and Europe, called the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership. The National Pork Producers Council says they support the agreement but are skeptical any progress is being made due to the stubbornness of E.U. negotiators regarding various parts of the potential agreement.

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Alternate Asian Trade Pact Gains Traction

Talks are picking up on the 16-nation Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership agreement, which is being pushed by China as an alternative to the Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement. Talks began to pick up steam this past week as President-elect Donald Trump said again that he’ll withdraw the country from TPP on his first day in office. Negotiators are meeting in Indonesia and have come to agreements on several specifics within the deal, some of which include protections, small enterprise assistance, and competition policy. Some details that still aren’t resolved include intellectual property rights and trade in goods and services. Japan is expected to hold the next round of discussions in February. The RCEP agreement could potentially create the biggest free-trade block in the world. It would cover half the world’s population and 30 percent of the global economy. However, for some countries the TPP isn’t dead yet. Japan approved the deal last week and Australia is still moving ahead to ratify the agreement. Vietnam is also showing interest in proceeding.  

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Is 2017 A Turnaround Year For Farmers?

At least one company is predicting 2017 to be something of a turnaround year for farmers. An Ag Web Dot Com article says 2017 could see a “global supply pullback” that may give farmers some relief from lower commodity prices. MetLife Agricultural Finance says, “We expect a recovery in 2017 as global consumption rises and corn and soybean supplies decline.” MetLife does caution that the strength of the U.S. dollar could put a crimp in those predictions as U.S. ag exports could face an obstacle from a strong U.S. dollar that’s at it’s highest level in 14 years. MetLife, a major farm mortgage lender, feels that as farmers cut acreage and supplies drop, prices could rise. U.S. farmers are predicted to cut corn acres by 3.5 percent next year to 91 million acres. MetLife predicts other major corn-producing countries like Brazil and the European Union will likely cut back on corn acres. MetLife also predicts soybean acreage to remain flat next year. The company says huge supplies and low prices are driving demand, expected to rise 4.4 percent.  

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Farmers Union Wants Assistance for Dairy Producers

U.S. dairy farmers are continuing to struggle because of a multi-year run of low prices and an inadequate safety net. As a result, the National Farmers Union passed a resolution calling on Congress to provide immediate cash assistance to dairy farmers. The resolution wants Congress to give the U.S. Department of Agriculture authority to provide direct help to those farmers and provide premium refunds for the Margin Protection Program. “U.S. dairy farmers are experiencing an extended period of very low milk prices, which, if it’s not corrected, will force thousands of farmers out of business,” said Roger Johnson, NFU President. The organization is calling on Congress to advance spending legislation that includes help for farmers. The legislation should include more authority for USDA to supply direct assistance instead of purchasing commodities. USDA had provided some assistance for producers by purchasing surplus cheese, but the modest price rebounds haven’t been enough to sustain producers bottom lines, forcing many to go out of business.  

SOURCE: NAFB News Service

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