READ the NAFB’s National Ag News for Thursday, January 26th

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READ the NAFB’s National Ag News for Thursday, January 26th

First Farm Bill Field Hearing in Kansas

U.S. Senate Ag Committee Chair Pat Roberts, a Kansas Republican, and ranking member Debbie Stabenow, a Michigan Democrat, announced the first field hearing on reauthorizing the Farm Bill will be in Manhattan, Kansas. The hearing will be Thursday, February 23, in the McCain Auditorium on the Kansas State University campus. Roberts says it’s time to get to work on another Farm Bill and the committee is heading to the heartland to talk to producers. “I can’t think of a more appropriate venue to hold this hearing than Manhattan, the home of Kansas State University.” He says producers have had plenty of time to use the programs in the current Farm Bill and the committee needs to hear what worked and what didn’t. Stabenow adds, “As we begin discussions on the next Farm Bill, we need input from farmers and families across the country.” The Michigan Democrat says she looks forward to hearing from folks who care about rural America, so they can craft a bill that strengthens American agriculture, as well as small towns and rural communities. The committee will hear testimony from a variety of producers, who will be announced soon.


Ag Groups Want NAFTA Gains Preserved

The Hagstrom Report says 133 food and agriculture industry groups sent a letter to President Donald Trump this week urging him to modernize the North American Free Trade Agreement, while “preserving and building on the gains that have been made.” The letter was released by the Corn Refiners Association, whose high-fructose corn syrup is a major export to Mexico. The letter notes that U.S. food and agricultural exports have produced a trade surplus for nearly 50 years. The letter says, “Consistent growth over that period of time has resulted in over $150 billion dollars’ worth of exports, which created $423 billion in U.S. economic activity in 2015.” The groups note that the market integration NAFTA has achieved has quadrupled the value of U.S. food and Ag exports to Canada and Mexico. The groups say in the letter that there are a few economic sectors that need to be addressed in the agreement and they look forward to working with the new president to reduce non-tariff trade barriers that inhibit American exports abroad.


Fish and Wildlife Proceeds with Action Despite Directive

President Donald Trump recently released a directive freezing all regulatory activity by federal agencies. However, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service says it will not extend a 90-day comment period on the status of the Lesser Prairie Chicken under the Endangered Species Act. This is despite the expected public release of a new species population survey from the Western Association of Fish and Wildlife agencies. That information will be critical to ongoing conservation efforts. National Cattlemen’s Beef Association President Tracy Brunner says the move denies stakeholders the chance to weigh in and places political pressure ahead of what’s best for the species. “The incoming administration put the freeze in place and we believe the Fish and Wildlife Service is violating the order to placate radical environmental groups bent on listing the Lesser Prairie Chicken,” Brunner said. The LPC Range-wide Conservation plan is already in place across a five-state area, with the goal of improving populations and decreasing threats to the Lesser Prairie Chicken. Because of the plan currently in place, the population saw a 25 percent improvement from 2014-2015. “The FWS needs to postpone action and consider the population report coming out and give stakeholders a chance to comment on it before they make a final listing decision,” Brunner said.


DuPont Expects Merger Delays with Dow

DuPont says it needs an additional three months to complete merger activities with Dow. Regulators around the world are continuing to look over the deal that would combine the two U.S. chemical companies. A DuPont statement this week says they expect the deal to close by end of June after setting March as the initially anticipated closing date. DuPont CEO Ed Breen told investors and analysts during a recent conference call that he feels the deal is in its “second quarter.” Dow and DuPont are working to alleviate concerns about the $71 billion-dollar deal creating a chemical giant. European Union officials have openly expressed concerns about the deal slowing the discovery of new pesticides. The EU recently granted a 10-day extension on Monday. The companies had requested the extension to fine-tune a package of concessions designed to ease concerns about the deal. DuPont says it expects net income to be down for the first quarter of this year, partly due to a 15 cents per share expense related to the merger.


U.S. Ag Group Signs $300 Million Algeria Deal

An Algerian company recently signed a deal with an American farm group to set up $300 million in agricultural projects in the country. Algeria’s Ag Minister says the north African country is seeking to reduce its dependence on imports. A privately-owned Algerian dairy company signed the deal with the American international Agriculture Group to develop agricultural projects that include cereals, potato, fertilizers, along with dairy and feed projects. A Reuters report says Algeria imports most of its ag-related products due to weak domestic output. It’s looking to diversify the economy by adding farm products and getting away from oil and gas products after a drop in the price of oil hit state finances. The company also approved a new law allowing incentives for foreign and local firms that are willing to invest in the non-oil sectors of the economy. As the OPEC member nation struggles to diversify the economy, oil and gas profits still account for 60 percent of the state budget and 95 percent of the country’s exports.


Perdue Confirmation Hearing Not Set

The Senate Agriculture Committee likely won’t have a hearing on Sonny Perdue’s nomination until mid-to-late February. Politico’s Morning Agriculture Report says it’ll take that long for Perdue’s financial disclosures to be analyzed in case of potential conflicts of interest and to finish an FBI background check. Financial disclosure paperwork questions have led to delays in the confirmation of other Cabinet nominees, including Education Secretary Betsy DeVos. Perdue’s financial statements from his run for Georgia governor in 2006 show he was worth about $6 million and his businesses about $2.8 million. He is a founder of Perdue Partner’s LLC, a global trading firm that helps companies to export ag products like grains, nuts, produce, and alcohol, in addition to industrial supplies, pet food, and cosmetics. He’s also owned several grain-and-feed-processing and transportation companies.

SOURCE: NAFB News Service