READ the NAFB’s National Ag News for Wednesday, January 4th

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READ the NAFB’s National Ag News for Wednesday, January 4th…

Will the Next Ag Secretary Please Stand Up?

The Department of Agriculture remains headless under President-elect Donald Trump, but not for long. Trump is expected to announce his choice for USDA Secretary this week. Still, there’s no clear front-runner for the post. While the media circuit to start the week named former Georgia Governor Sonny Perdue as the leading candidate, by Tuesday, reports suggested a former lieutenant governor of California was the top choice for Trump. Perdue is a Democrat-turned-Republican who served on Trump’s agricultural advisory committee during his presidential campaign. Perdue would appease Trump’s agriculture advisory committee, but he may not be the final name in the hat. A White House correspondent for CNN said Tuesday former California Lieutenant Governor Abel Maldonado (Mal-do-nah-do) was emerging as the frontrunner to lead USDA. Maldonado is a Mexican-American who grew up in a farming family, and he currently operates a California Vineyard. USDA Secretary is one of the last few major positions for Trump to fill. However, Trump’s USDA transition team did have two leaders removed from the post in the early going. Currently, Brian Klippenstein (clip-in-stine) of Protect the Harvest and Carrie Castille (Kas-steel), former associate commissioner of the Louisiana Department of Agriculture, are leading the efforts.

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Trump Taps Former Reagan Trade Official as Trade Minister

President-elect Donald Trump is close to filling his cabinet after selecting Robert Lighthizer (Light-hi-zer) to be his Trade Minister. The Wall Street Journal reports Lighthizer has negotiating experience from his time in the Reagan administration. If confirmed by the Senate, he will take the lead in talks that could culminate in the bilateral deals Trump’s team prefers. Lighthizer will be part of a revamped team whose mission includes confronting China and Mexico, which Trump contends have taken advantage of the U.S. under current trade agreements. China is keeping a close eye on Trump’s trade plans. Last month, when Trump named Peter Navarro to the newly formed White House National Trade Council, China fired back stating: “Cooperation is the only correct choice.” Navarro has previously urged a hard line on trade with China and has made a film describing China’s threat to the U.S. economy. At the time, China said: “We hope the U.S. works hard with China to maintain the healthy, stable development of ties.”

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Canada Books First Trade Discussion with China on Bilateral Agreement

Trade officials from Canada will meet with similar leadership in China next month to begin trade talks on a bilateral trade agreement. Canada’s Trade Minister Chrystia Freeland says she is tentatively booked to have her first face-to-face discussion with China in February. The planned meeting comes after Canada’s Prime Minister Justin Trudeau (True-doh) announced a goal of doubling trade with the Asian nation by 2025. Meanwhile, Freeland says she hopes to hold talks with the United Kingdom’s trade secretary as the U.K. will trigger the formal process for leaving the European Union before the end of March. The U.K. will still be included in the Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement between Canada and the EU, despite its exit from the European Union.

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New Congress Targeting Regulations

With a new Congress seated in Washington, D.C., the Republican-led majority will push to roll back government regulations put in place by the Barack Obama administration. While much is mundane bureaucratic language, the Waters of the U.S. rule could join the list. The WOTUS rule by the Environmental Protection Agency is currently blocked by the courts as challengers seek to have the rule thrown out. If Congress were to block the rule, the court cases would no longer be needed. Meanwhile, organizations included in the lawsuit against the rule have argued the case should be forwarded to the U.S. Supreme Court for consideration. For now, much of the focus in Congress though will be on the Midnight Rules Act and the Regulations from the Executive in Need of Scrutiny, or REINS Act. According to USA Today. The REINS Act would require that before any new major regulation could take effect, the House and Senate would have to pass a resolution of approval. The Midnight Rules Act would let Congress invalidate rules in bulk that passed in the final year of a presidential term.

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DTN Poll shows Farmers Hopeful in New Administration

A poll by DTN-The Progressive Farmer shows agriculture is building hope that the ag economy will improve under a new presidential administration. The DTN Agricultural Confidence Index jumped to a rating of 98 following the elections, from a rating of 72 recorded in August of 2016. The survey was based on responses from 500 farmers from across the United States and was compiled in early December. The poll remains below the optimism line, a rating greater than 100. Indexes below 100, which has been the case since March 2014, indicate farmers are pessimistic about their condition, according to DTN. Farmers rated current conditions at 44.2. However, future expectations were rated at 127 by respondents. Pollster Robert Hill, creator of the index, says: “The only thing you can tie that positivity to is the election. Farmers have a lot of hope for the new president.” President-elect Donald Trump will take office later this month.

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New Zealand Will Open to U.S. Cooked Turkey Products

A move by New Zealand will allow the United States to export cooked turkey products to the island nation. Meat industry publication Meatingplace reports a new veterinary certificate approved by New Zealand authorities will open the market. New Zealand’s Ministry of Primary Industries approved the agreement after two years of direct negotiations with the U.S. Department of Agriculture. The process of opening the pathway for U.S. turkey products in New Zealand actually began in 2002 with USDA and the USA Poultry & Egg Export Council. Meatingplace says the lack of competitive local production has made New Zealand a potentially positive market for U.S. turkeys even though efforts were held up because of health concerns from New Zealand officials.

SOURCE: NAFB News Service

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