READ the NAFB’s National Ag News for Friday, January 13th

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READ the NAFB’s National Ag News for Friday, January 13th

Vilsack: Delay of Ag Secretary Pick Shows Lack of Appreciation for USDA

“Why is that the last one?” Those words from outgoing Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack regarding his post being the last yet to be filled by the incoming Donald Trump administration. Speaking to the Wall Street Journal this week, Vilsack says the absence of an agriculture secretary nominee so late in the cabinet-selection process reflects a “lack of appreciation” for what the Department of Agriculture does. A Trump transition team member maintains an announcement will be made soon, saying: “The future growth of the U.S. agriculture sector is of critical importance to President-elect Trump,” as a reason for the lengthy selection process to find the right candidate. Just last week, Politico speculated that the position belongs to former Georgia governor Republican Sonny Perdue. Politico said Thursday that there were loose plans to announce Perdue on the final day of the American Farm Bureau convention this week, but that day, as many others, has now passed. Trump will be sworn into office next Friday. Meanwhile, agriculture is left hoping Trump has saved his best pick for last.

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2016 Crop Estimates Drop from December

The National Agriculture Statistics Service released a host of reports Thursday. The reports show that ample rain and moderate temperatures across the Midwest led to record-high yield and production for corn and soybeans in 2016. U.S. corn growers produced 15.1 billion bushels, up 11 percent from 2015. Soybean production for 2016 totaled a record 4.31 billion bushels, up ten percent from 2015. In the Grain Stocks report, corn and soybean stocks were both estimated to be up ten and seven percent from 2015, respectively. While those numbers are all higher than 2015, they represent a cut from the previous USDA forecast. U.S. corn ending stocks were lowered 48 million bushels from last month’s estimate, and soybean ending stocks were lowered 60 million bushels. For 2016, all cotton production was up 32 percent from 2015, at 17 million 480-pound bales. Sorghum grain production in 2016 is estimated at 480 million bushels, down 20 percent from 2015. The Winter Wheat Seedings report shows planted area for harvest in 2017 was estimated at 32.4 million acres, down ten percent from 2016 and 18 percent below 2015. This represents the second lowest U.S. acreage on record.

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USDA: Ethanol Reduces Greenhouse Gas Emissions by 43 Percent

The U.S. Department of Agriculture says greenhouse gas emissions from ethanol are 43 percent lower than emissions from gasoline. USDA released the report Thursday that compared greenhouse gas emissions from corn-based ethanol with gasoline when measured on an energy equivalent basis. The study relied on forecasts of future ethanol production systems and expected impacts on the farm sector. Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack said the report “provides evidence that corn ethanol can be a greenhouse gas-friendly alternative to fossil fuels. National Farmers Union President Roger Johnson says the report provides “further evidence that the RFS is working.” The data also shows that when farmers employ a variety of conservation practices including no-till, cover crops, nitrogen inhibitors, and precision fertilizer applications, corn ethanol can reduce greenhouse gas emissions by up to 76 percent when compared to gasoline.

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U.S. Dairy Wants Trump to Act on Canada’s Protectionist Dairy Policies

The U.S. Dairy industry says Canada’s dairy policies are protectionist and aimed at blocking U.S. imports. A group of dairy trade organizations, including the U.S. Dairy Export Council and the National Milk Producers Federation, wrote President-elect Donald Trump this week saying Canada’s policies are a direct violation of the country’s commitments under the North American Free Trade Agreement, as reported by DTN. Canada operates its dairy industry under a supply management program that regulates production for domestic producers and maintains high import tariffs to protect the market. Joined by the National Association of State Departments of Agriculture, the U.S. dairy groups urged Trump and his administration to act against Canada as the nation is expanding those dairy controls. The letter estimates the policy is harming U.S. producers by preventing $150 million of milk exports. The letter could help push Trump’s plans for reopening NAFTA for negotiation.

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Tractor Sales Up Slightly in 2016

U.S. farmers bought more tractors in 2016, compared with 2015, according to the latest report from the Association of Equipment Manufactures. Through December, AEM says 2016 tractor sales were up three percent, totaling more than 211,000 compared to 205,000 sold in 2015. For the year, two-wheel drive smaller tractors under 40 horsepower were up 12 percent over last year, while 40 and under 100 horsepower tractor sales were down four percent. Sales of two-wheel drive 100-plus horsepower tractors were reported down 22 percent, while four-wheel drive tractors were down 26 percent. Sales of combines for the year totaled 3,972, a decrease of 26 percent compared to 2015.

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USDA Expands Education for Minority Producers

The Department of Agriculture Thursday announced cooperative agreements with 46 USDA partners to educate producers, including those who have been historically underserved by USDA programs, about Farm Service Agency programs that provide financial, disaster or technical support. Nearly $2.5 million will go to nonprofits and universities that will provide training and access to FSA programs, according to USDA. FSA Administrator Val Dolcini says the funding will help FSA “reach more producers and create more jobs in agriculture.” The Cooperative agreements encompass 24 states, and range from $25,000 to $99,999 each. The additional investment builds on the $2.5 million in cooperative agreements awarded in 2016.  A list of awardees can be found at FSA dot USDA dot gov. (www.fsa.usda.gov/cooperativeagreements).

SOURCE: NAFB News Service

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