READ the NAFB’s National Ag News for Tuesday, January 31st

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READ the NAFB’s National Ag News for Tuesday, January 31st

Refugee Regulations Could Squeeze U.S. Meatpackers Labor Pool

An executive order by President Donald Trump to suspend refugee arrivals could harm meatpacking companies. The Wall Street Journal reports meatpackers that rely on foreign-born workers to fill tough jobs in rural America could face labor shortages. The executive order suspended the refugee program four months and would cut the number of refugees allowed into the United States in half to 50,000. The move comes as dozens of meatpackers are expanding or building new facilities, following two years of high profits. Meatpackers often look for foreign-born workers to fill jobs most Americans are unwilling to perform. North American Meat Institute CEO Barry Carpenter says he hopes the Trump administration “will give careful consideration” the impact these changes would have on meatpacking companies, and on foreign-born workers “who are eager to build new lives in America” through the jobs meatpackers can offer.


U.K. Says Trump Ready to Begin Trade Talks

The United Kingdom says U.S. President Donald Trump has agreed to start trade talks between the U.K. and the United States. British Prime Minister Theresa May says the two agreed to start preliminary talks on a trade deal but stressed that no deal would be signed until the U.K. exits the European Union. Politico reports the two leaders agreed to set up joint working groups to start “scoping out” what can be achieved while waiting for the United Kingdom to leave the EU. The signal of bilateral talks continues Trump’s campaign pledge of one-on-one trade deals with other nations. Trump on Friday said he looked forward to working with the United Kingdom. U.K. Prime Minister May said both sides were discussing a “trade negotiation agreement” as the first step of crafting a trade deal between the two countries. The wording suggests there will be an official pledge between May and Trump to negotiate a trade agreement once the United Kingdom leaves the EU.


Germany Urging EU to Speed Trade Deal Negotiations Amid Protectionist Policy Fears

Germany asked the European Union last week to speed-up trade talks to open trade with more than a dozen countries. The effort is aimed at boosting support for free trade in response to protectionist trade policy from U.S. President Donald Trump. In a statement to the EU, Germany repeated its view that Trump, along with Britain leaving the EU, posed risks for the world economy, according to Reuters. Germany called on the EU to bolster common policies in defense, diplomacy and the economy. Germany also asked the EU to push against trade protectionism and support free trading relationships and “international cooperation.” In his first week as President, Trump signed an executive order to withdrawal the United States from the Trans-Pacific Partnership trade agreement. Trump is also targeting reforms to the North American Free Trade Agreement.


Former Trump Transition Leader Warns of Two-thirds Cut of EPA Staff

A leader involved in the Trump Transition team says to expect budget and employment cuts to the Environmental Protection Agency. Myron Ebell(Eb-bell) was the former head of President Donald Trump’s EPA transition team and has suggested cutting the EPA workforce to 5,000, about a two-thirds reduction over the next four years. He says the EPA’s $8.1 billion budget would also be sliced in half under his recommendations, according to the Washington Post. Ebell, along with Trump, favors the cuts as a way to curb regulatory overreach by the EPA. Ebell says the overreach would be much harder if “the agency is a lot smaller.” While he says cutting 10,000 staffers may not be realistic, he called it an “aspirational goal,” saying “you’re not going to get Congress to make significant cuts unless you ask for significant cuts.”


USDA NASS Conducting Certified Organic Survey

The Department of Agriculture’s National Agricultural Statistics Service is conducting the 2016 Certified Organic Survey to gather data on organic crops and livestock in the United States. USDA says the survey is critical to help determine the economic impact of certified organic agriculture production in the United States. The survey is being mailed to all known certified organic farms and ranches throughout the country and asks producers to provide information on acreage, production, and sales, as well as production and marketing practices. USDA NASS says certified organic sales totaled $6.2 billion in 2015, up 14 percent from 2014. A USDA spokesperson says as sales grow, so will the demand for accurate data. The report, to be released September of this year, will also assist producers, suppliers and others in the private sector in planning the production and marketing of new products. All information in the survey is confidential, and USDA is asking producers to return the survey by February 19th.


Monsanto to Appeal California Glyphosate Ruling

Monsanto will appeal a ruling by a California judge allowing the state to force Monsanto to label Roundup as a possible cancer threat because it contains glyphosate. Monsanto sued the nation’s leading agricultural state, saying California officials illegally based their decision to require the labels on information from the International Agency for Research on Cancer, according to the LA Times. The agency has categorized glyphosate as a likely carcinogen, against many other science and environment agencies findings. Following the findings, California took its first step in 2015 to require the warning labels. Monsanto contends California is delegating its authority to an unelected foreign body with no accountability to U.S. or state officials in violation of the California Constitution. Monsanto’s Roundup is sold in 160 countries, and farmers in California use it on 250 types of crops.

SOURCE: NAFB News Service