READ the NAFB’s National Ag News for Monday, February 13th

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READ the NAFB’s National Ag News for Monday,February 13th

House, Senate Transportation Committees Planning a Busy Year

The Transportation and Infrastructure Committees in the U.S. House and Senate are prepping for a busy year as the President is readying a push against the nation’s “failing infrastructure.” The American Society of Civil Engineers says the U.S. transportation system, wastewater and drinking water infrastructure, schools and the energy grid need improvements, estimated at $3.6 trillion. President Trump has said he will propose a massive infrastructure improvement plan for the U.S. that could total up to $1 trillion. In a recent House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee hearing, Cargill and Vermeer represented the agriculture sector. For agriculture, top transportation priorities include updating the nation’s waterways transportation system, and ensuring viable road and rail transport of agricultural commodities and inputs.


Trump Tax Announcement Looming

The Donald Trump administration is expected to make an announcement soon regarding taxes and possible reforms. While little details were available, White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer last week said the administration would make a tax-related announcement this month. Talks regarding a tax plan by President Trump are apparently coming along well, and Trump indicated an announcement would be coming “over the next two or three weeks.” Tax reform is a top priority for some in agriculture, including the American Farm Bureau Federation. AFBF see’s lowering tax rates in a way that doesn’t result in a tax increase, and eliminating the estate tax as critical tax reforms needed for farmers. Trump has said he wants to cut the corporate tax rate to 15 or 20 percent, according to Politico, and he has threatened a 35 percent tax on businesses that go overseas. It’s unclear, however, what specifically the president was alluding to or how reliable his timeline is.


South Africa Buys U.S. Sorghum, Open to U.S. Corn

Outreach by the U.S. Grains Council in South Africa over the past year has helped achieve export victories there, with recent sales of U.S. sorghum and biotechnology trait approvals that will allow imports of U.S. corn. Outreach by USGC prompted South African buyers to purchase roughly 45,000 metric tons of U.S. sorghum during the latest marketing year. South Africa’s Department of Agriculture also announced in December of last year it would immediately eliminate biotech restrictions on corn imports from the United States. This month, the South African government issued 15 permits authorizing the import of 1.3 million metric tons of white and yellow corn from the United States. In 2015 and 2016, because of El Nino, the country suffered a severe drought, leading its feed industry to import U.S. corn for the first time in almost a decade. South Africa uses both yellow corn for animal feed and white corn for staple foods.


Growth Energy Honors Ag Secretary Vilsack with Award

Growth Energy last week awarded former Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack with the organization’s highest honor, the America’s Fuel Award. The award was announced at Growth Energy’s eighth annual Executive Leadership Conference. The award is presented to an individual who “has gone above and beyond the call of duty to act as a champion for the renewable fuels industry.” Past winners include Growth Energy Co-chairman Tom Buis, former Iowa Governor Terry Branstad, retired Four-Star General, Wesley Clark, and Richard Childress of Richard Childress Racing. Growth Energy CEO Emily Skor said of the award: “We thank Secretary Vilsack for his unwavering dedication to the growth and success of the American ethanol industry throughout his time as Secretary of Agriculture and Governor of Iowa.”

FMD Concerns Growing in South Korea

South Korea last week raised the nation’s foot-and-mouth disease alert status to its highest level, as a second strain of the disease was confirmed at a dairy farm. South Korea also announced plans to vaccinate all cattle in the nation against FMD. The first confirmed FMD case in South Korea in more than a year was confirmed last week, and two other FMD confirmations followed, prompting the alert status and vaccination announcement. South Korea, Asia’s fourth-largest economy, last raised the country’s foot-and-mouth disease alert status to the highest level in 2010 when the country grappled with its worst-ever FMD outbreak, according to Reuters.


Cargill Plans to Expand and Upgrade Canada Beef Processing Plant

Cargill plans to spend $2.7 million to expand and upgrade an Ontario, Canada processing facility that handles 1,500 head of cattle per day. The Ontario government will supplement part of the cost of the expansion project by contributing nearly $500,000, a move Ontario’s Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs said will help the province remain competitive, according to online publication Meatingplace. The Cargill project is also expected to help maintain 1,600 local jobs at the plant west of Toronto. Cargill is expected to install value-added protein process technology at the facility that will allow for the manufacture of protein-rich animal feeds, while also reducing the plant’s impact on the local environment.

SOURCE: NAFB News Service