READ the NAFB’s National Ag News for Wednesday, February 8th…

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READ the NAFB’s National Ag News for Wednesday, February 8th…

Agriculture Groups Stress Importance of Trade

More than 80 agriculture groups signed off on a letter to President Donald Trump Tuesday, calling on the administration to reduce and eliminate tariffs and other restrictive agricultural policies in the Asia-Pacific region. By doing so, the agriculture groups say the move would allow American workers to supply Asian markets with high-quality food and agricultural goods. President Trump has signed an executive order removing the U.S. from the Trans-Pacific Partnership trade agreement with Asia-Pacific countries, preventing billions of dollars in added exports for U.S. agriculture. In the letter, the farm groups say: “We hope your Administration will create such opportunities for our sector by deepening U.S. economic engagement in this critical region, while responding to the Asia-only regional trade agreements being negotiated by our foreign competitors.” The groups go on to say that 95 percent of agriculture’s potential customers live outside of the United States borders, and that “expanding access to international markets is essential” to the success of the industry.


NCBA, NPPC Urge Trump to Begin Trade Talks with Japan

The National Cattlemen’s Beef Association and the National Pork Producers Council are calling on President Donald Trump to begin trade talks with Japan. In a joint letter to the White House, NCBA and NPPC asked the President to “initiate free trade agreement negotiations with nations in the Asia-Pacific region beginning with Japan.” The letter was separate from a similar letter regarding trade sent to the President by more than 80 agriculture groups. The letter comes as Japan’s Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s (sheen-zoh ah-bay) will visit the United States on Friday to meet with President Trump. NCBA President Craig Uden (you-den) says: “A successful, comprehensive agreement with Japan would result in one of the greatest trade agreements for the U.S. pork and beef industries and for many other sectors.” For U.S. beef and pork exports, Japan is the highest value international market.


Ag Producers’ Confidence Surges During January

The Ag Economy Barometer continues to show increased producer confidence following the November election. Organized by Purdue University and the CME Group, the monthly survey of 400 agricultural producers from across the U.S. reached 153 in January, 21 points higher than December’s survey and 61 points higher than in October. The increase marks the most positive recorded sentiment by producers since the survey began in October of 2015. A rating below 100 is negative, while a rating above 100 indicates positive sentiment regarding the agriculture industry. Organizers say the sharp uptick in optimism comes from producers improved expectations regarding the future, a trend also seen in the December survey. The Index of Future Expectations reached 169 points, 23 points higher than a month earlier. Current sentiment also increased to a reading of 118, from 102 in the December survey.


Heitkamp First Democrat to Back USDA Nominee Perdue

North Dakota Democrat, Senator Heidi Heitkamp this week endorsed Agriculture Secretary nominee Sonny Perdue. Heitkamp is the first Democrat in the Senate to endorse President Donald Trump’s pick to lead the Department of Agriculture. Heitkamp, who was also reportedly considered for the post, met with Perdue earlier this week and says she looks forward to confirming him to the cabinet position. Heitkamp backed 2016 Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton over Trump, and says she discussed trade with Cuba during her 45-minute meeting with Perdue, according to The Hill. The Agriculture Committee has not yet scheduled a confirmation hearing for Perdue, who served as Georgia’s governor from 2003 to 2011. However, a confirmation hearing for Perdue is expected sometime later this month.

U.S. Cattlemen’s Association Supporting Zinke as Secretary of Interior

The United States Cattlemen’s Association Tuesday announced its support for Congressman Ryan Zinke, the nominee by President Donald Trump to the Secretary of Interior position. The Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee approved President Trump’s nominee for the position by a vote of 16-6 on January 31st. Zinke will now go before the full Senate, where a confirmation vote will likely take place in the next few weeks. USCA President Kenny Graner Tuesday penned a letter supporting Zinke, saying USCA is confident he “will continue to serve the best interests of all stakeholders.” Zinke is a Republican U.S. Representative from Montana, and has previously served as a member of the House Committee on Natural Resources. USCA says cattle producers, who are one of the many vested stakeholders and users of public lands, need a voice that “will balance the needs of both U.S. ranchers and the natural resources at hand.”


Foot-and-Mouth Disease Confirmed in South Korea

South Korea has confirmed the presence of foot-and-mouth disease at a dairy farm this week, the first confirmation in the country in nearly a year. Government officials say there is another suspected case in the nation, though it has yet to be confirmed. South Korea’s Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs said the disease was unlikely to spread widely as it was one of three types of illness the nation inoculates against. However, as reported by Reuters, the government put in place a nationwide standstill order for farms with cloven-hoofed livestock and related transport for 30 hours after the confirmation on Monday. All 195 cows raised on the farm with the confirmed infection have been culled to contain the disease. Meanwhile, South Korea continues to grapple with a nationwide spread of bird flu which has led to the culling of more than 30 million birds in the nation.

SOURCE: NAFB News Service