READ the NAFB’s National Ag News for Thursday, February 2nd

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READ the NAFB’s National Ag News for Thursday, February 2nd

Food Producers Accelerating Exports to Mexico, Searching for New Markets

U.S. food producers are expediting shipments to Mexico and seeking alternative markets as concerns rise over immigration and trade policy changes. Food producers are lining up alternative markets as business could be at risk if clashes over trade and immigration escalate between Mexico and the U.S., according to Reuters. The new Donald Trump Administration is pledging to renegotiate the North American Free Trade Agreement and impose a 20 percent import tax to pay for a border wall. Producers of corn, soybean meal and dried distillers’ grains are attempting to accelerate shipments because the potential tariffs could disrupt trade. One trade expert says: “They don’t know what will happen in the next month or the next week,” adding U.S. exporters are trying to move product as fast as they can. Any changes to trade policy that are detrimental to Mexico will likely lead to retaliation. Reuters points out that in 2009 and 2010, Mexico put tariffs on 99 American exports in retaliation to the U.S. blocking Mexican trucks from using U.S. highways. The dispute cost U.S. businesses more than $2 billion.


AFBF President Calls for Confirmation of Judge Gorsuch to SCOTUS

American Farm Bureau Federation President Zippy Duvall is calling on Congress to confirm Supreme Court Justice Nominee Neil Gorsuch (gore-such). If confirmed, he will assume the seat last occupied by Justice Antonin Scalia (scuh-lee-uh). Duvall says Gorsuch “is a worthy successor.” Specifically, Duvall pointed to the nominee’s past positions that “courts should not blindly defer to regulating agencies, but should perform their constitutional role of interpreting the laws that Congress writes.” Duvall says Gorsuch has expressed an appreciation for the environment and is a conservationist, a philosophy he says is shared by America’s farmers and ranchers. Finally, Duvall says: “Any Senator voting against a legal scholar like Gorsuch will have to produce a serious justification for a no vote.”


Committee Vote on EPA Chief Delayed

A boycott Wednesday led the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee to delay a vote on Scott Pruitt’s nomination to head the Environmental Protection Agency. The committee’s 10 Democrats did not attend the meeting, saying they are “deeply concerned” about a lack of thoroughness of Pruitt’s responses to their questions. Pruitt has fielded more than 1,200 question for the committee, but the committee’s Democrats said Pruitt still has not provided a number of documents requested about his time as attorney general of Oklahoma, according to DTN. As Oklahoma Attorney General, Pruitt was engaged in lawsuits against the EPA, including one over the EPA Waters of the U.S. rule. While the committee’s Republicans ridiculed their counterparts, Republicans held a similar boycott during the Barack Obama administration over then EPA Administrator nominee Gina McCarthy.

Florida Representative Drafts Legislation to Abolish EPA

A U.S. Representative from Florida emailed details to other lawmakers this week regarding a draft bill to “completely abolish” the Environmental Protection Agency. Florida Republican Matt Gaetz (gates) sent the email to potential co-sponsors of the bill that will shut down the EPA by the end of next year. The email was obtained by the Huffington Post and tells potential co-sponsors: “It is time to take back our legislative power from the EPA and abolish it permanently.” While transition officials with the Donald Trump administration are signaling massive budget and employee cuts to the agency, Gaetz says Americans are “drowning in rules and regulations” from the EPA and says the agency needs “eliminating.” The legislation would turn over responsibilities held by the EPA to state and local government partners.The bill, however, is not seen as a serious threat to the EPA.


NCBA Cattle Industry Convention Underway

The 2017 Cattle Industry Convention and National Cattlemen’s Beef Association Trade Show is underway in Nashville, Tennessee. NCBA kicked off the convention this week with Cattlemen’s College educational sessions focusing on profitability, productivity and sustainability. Speaking to attendees Wednesday, Cameron Bruett (brew-it) of JBS USA, emphasized the significant challenges posed by competing proteins, an uncertain political environment and its impact on labor in the United States. Bruett said: “It’s very difficult to find someone to work in a packing plant.” He detailed how a majority of the JBS USA packing plant workforce is comprised of first-generation immigrants. Bruett told attendees the current bottleneck in the beef industry is “a labor shortage in the plant,” adding “it’s a major problem.”


Online Grocery Shopping Poised to Boom in 2017

Researchers suggest online grocery shopping is expected to expand by nearly 50 percent by this summer. NPD Group, a New York-based market research company, reports that an estimated 52 million consumers currently shop for food and beverages online and 20 million current, lapsed, or newcomers to online grocery shopping will increase their Internet purchases within the next six months. Among the key groups favoring online grocery shopping are the younger generations, particularly Millennials and Gen Zs, who were born into the tech era. The report says it is second nature for those young adults to use the internet for all types of purchases. Researchers say online grocery shopping is especially appealing to Millennials who appreciate global cuisines and can find what they need online and see food shopping, prep, and eating as an experience rather than just sustenance.

SOURCE: NAFB News Service