READ the NAFB’s National Ag News for Tuesday, January 24th

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READ the NAFB’s National Ag News for Tuesday, January 24th

Trump Signs Executive Order to Remove U.S. From TPP

President Donald Trump Monday followed through on a campaign promise by signing an executive order to remove the U.S. from the Trans-Pacific Partnership trade agreement. Trump also said he plans to begin renegotiating the North American Free Trade Agreement with Canada and Mexico. Agriculture groups demonstrated disappoint with the decision. American Soybean Association President Ron Moore said in a statement: “TPP held great promise for us.” Moore says ASA expects “to see a plan in place as soon as possible” to engage the 11 other TPP member nations on trade to “capture the value” lost from the withdrawal. American Farm Bureau President Zippy Duvall says it is critical the new administration “begins work immediately” to develop new markets for agriculture. National Cattlemen’s Beef Association President Tracy Brunner said: “Sparking a trade war with Canada, Mexico, and Asia will only lead to higher prices for American-produced beef in those markets.” Brunner called foreign trade one of the greatest success stories for U.S. beef. The American Feed Industry Association condemned the action, saying trade deals like TPP are key to setting the terms and rules for future trade relationships.

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Trump EPA Plan Calls for Eliminating WOTUS

New President Donald Trump’s plan for the Environmental Protection Agency includes eliminating the Waters of the U.S. rule. The Trump administration calls WOTUS a burdensome regulation that is “harmful and unnecessary.” A leaked agency action plan for the administration lists WOTUS, along with Clean Air Act greenhouse gas regulations, the Clean Power Plan and the Total Maximum Daily Load Requirements in the Chesapeake Bay area as targeted initiatives to stop. Trump also wants to change how the agency uses science, saying unless major reforms are achieved, “the EPA will be able to return to its bad old ways” once a different administration takes office. Meanwhile, WOTUS will head to the Supreme Court this year to determine whether jurisdiction to hear a challenge to the lawfulness of the rule lies in the courts of appeal or federal district courts. The Trump administration could choose not to defend WOTUS in court, effectively killing enforcement of the rule.

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Three Named as USDA Deputy Secretary Candidates

The list of candidates to serve as Deputy Agriculture Secretary boast familiar names to the Donald Trump administration. The Hagstrom Report says the list includes Charles Herbster, A.G. Kawamura (Cow-uh-more-uh) and Ted McKinney. Herbster of Nebraska was a big supporter during the Trump campaign and served on Trump’s agriculture advisory committee, Kawamura is a former California Agriculture Secretary and McKinney was Indiana agriculture director when Vice President Mike Pence was governor of Indiana. Meanwhile, Indiana farmer Kip Tom is considered a candidate for White House agricultural liaison. Taking over the Department of Agriculture for now is Michael Young, USDA’s Office of Budget and Program Analysis director. He will serve as acting secretary until the Senate confirms former Georgia Governor Sonny Perdue to the post. President Trump has sent policy adviser Sam Clovis to lead the transition at the department while USDA waits for the Senate to act. A team assisting Clovis will hire staff and begin crafting policy until Perdue is allowed to take office.

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Fourth Quarter 2016 Farm Lending Slows

The Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City says farm lending during the fourth quarter of 2016 slowed significantly as lenders and borrowers assessed economic prospects for 2017. In a report, the Kansas City Fed says some of the reduced loan volume likely stemmed from lower costs of farm inputs. However, as the outlook for farm income has remained weak and farmland values have continued to decline, both lenders and borrowers may be more apprehensive about adding new debt heading into 2017. A survey of bankers found non-real estate loans in the farm sector dropped 40 percent from a year ago. The 40 percent drop was the largest year-over-year decline in nearly 20 years. Despite the sharp reduction in new loans, outstanding farm sector debt at commercial banks continued to rise, but at a slower pace. Survey data indicated outstanding debt increased five percent from a year ago. The Fed attributed the increase to a slower rate of loan repayments, but the increase in farm debt was the smallest increase in more than three years.

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ChemChina Files for U.S. Antitrust Approval of Syngenta Takeover

ChemChina has filed for U.S. antitrust approval with the Federal Trade Commission for its proposed $43 billion takeover of Syngenta. Bloomberg reports ChemChina has submitted documentation required by U.S. law and expects the U.S. antitrust process to be “on track.” The Justice Department and the FTC typically have 30 days to clear a proposal or issue a second request asking for more information and a longer review period. The proposed transaction already has been cleared by a U.S. national security panel and won antitrust approval in Australia. The European Union is currently reviewing the deal and has until April 12th to discuss remedy proposals that have been submitted. A Syngenta spokesperson says both companies remain fully committed to the transaction and are confident of its closing.

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EU Dairy Farmers Spray Milk Powder in Price Protest

Dairy farmers from the European Union sprayed milk powder onto a European Council building in Brussels during a protest over dairy prices. The EU recently purchased large quantities of skimmed milk powder in an effort to stabilize the market, but the EU says it will begin moving the stockpile as prices have improved. Protesting farmers told the Associated Press that the move would depress prices throughout Europe. A spokesperson with the European Milk Board says “only a real price increase and long-term stability on the market can save milk production across the EU from extinction.” The farmers say EU policies are driving them to the brink of bankruptcy and releasing more milk powder on the market would further complicate their plight.

SOURCE: NAFB News Service

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