READ the NAFB’s National Ag News for Wednesday, February 15th…

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READ the NAFB’s National Ag News for Wednesday, February 15th…

Trump Tells Canada to Expect Only “Tweaking” of NAFTA

During his visit with Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau (true-doh), U.S. President Donald Trump said there would only be “tweaking” needed to the North American Free Trade Agreement. Trump called the trading relationship between the U.S. and Canada “outstanding,” but has yet to outline what kind of tweaks he has in mind for NAFTA. During a press conference with Trudeau, Trump said he is more concerned with the U.S. trade relationship with Mexico under NAFTA. Politico speculates Trump may be considering separate bilateral deals with both Canada and Mexico, breaking away from the decades-old three-nation trade pact. Trudeau said he expects the U.S. and Canada to remain each other’s most essential trading partners. Trudeau says changes to NAFTA are “a real concern for many Canadians” because how dependent Canada’s economy is on the nation’s relationship with the United States. Canada sends roughly 75 percent of its exports to the U.S.

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Trudeau Talks Dairy Trade with House Speaker Ryan

House Speaker Paul Ryan says he asked Canada’s Prime Minister Justin Trudeau (True-doh) regarding Canadian market access for U.S. dairy producers. The Wisconsin Republican met with Trudeau Monday as part of Trudeau’s visit to Washington, DC this week. Speaker Ryan said the two had a “productive discussion” which included the “importance of breaking down trade barriers and improving market access for America’s dairy farmers,” among other topics. Trudeau met with President Donald Trump focusing on trade and security, but did not touch on the dairy issue, according to the Hagstrom Report. Dairy groups and the National Association of State Departments of Agriculture had asked Trump to raise the issue with Trudeau. The U.S. dairy groups say Canada’s dairy pricing structure is “expressly intended to slash milk imports from the United States.”

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Rising Demand for Organic and Non-GMO Grains Outpaces U.S. Production

Rising demand for organic and non-GMO foods led to a sharp rise in organic grain imports last year. A new report by CoBank says U.S. production of non-GMO crops has risen, but domestic production for organic corn and soybeans remains well short of current U.S. demand. Food manufacturers are currently exploring new incentives for U.S. growers to transition to organic production, but the transition takes years, a roadblock one CoBank researcher says is “likely holding some U.S. growers back from taking advantage of the market opportunity.” CoBank says demand for both non-GMO and organic crops will continue to grow and, ultimately, monetary incentives will determine whether U.S. growers choose to close the supply deficit. Imports of organic grains from countries such as India, Ukraine, Romania, and Turkey surged in 2016 to meet U.S. demand for organic food products. Organic corn imports more than doubled from 2015 to 2016, and the domestic shortfall for organic soybeans was even greater, with roughly 80 percent of soybeans supplying the U.S. organic market imported in 2016.

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House Agriculture Committee Holding Farm Bill Hearing Wednesday

A hearing by the House Agriculture Committee today (Wednesday) focuses on setting the stage for the next farm bill. House Agriculture Chairman Mike Conaway says farmers and ranchers are enduring challenging times. The Texas Republican referred to a recent Department of Agriculture report that shows net farm income fell 45 percent from 2013 to 2016, the largest three-year percentage drop since the Great Depression. The hearing, Rural Economic Outlook: Setting the Stage for the Next Farm Bill, features a panel of economists discussing the challenges farmers and ranchers are facing and providing context for the needs of rural America in the next farm bill. The House Agriculture Committee will also hold a hearing Thursday to consider the Pesticide Registration Enhancement Act and the Reducing Regulatory Burdens Act. The Senate Agriculture Committee will hold a farm bill field hearing next week in Manhattan, Kansas.

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Roberts Joins Bipartisan Bill to Relieve Farmers of Redundant Regulation

Senate Agriculture Committee Chairman Pat Roberts announced his support Tuesday for a bill that would eliminate redundant federal permitting requirements for pesticide applications. The Sensible Environmental Protection Act amends the Clean Water Act and the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide and Rodenticide Act to clarify Congressional intent regarding pesticide use in or near navigable waters. The bill was introduced by Idaho Republican Senator Mike Crapo (Cray-poh) and Missouri Democratic Senator Claire McCaskill. Roberts, a Kansas Republican, says this is the fifth consecutive session of Congress he has joined an effort to stop the redundant permitting process, and that he is hopeful “this is the last time.” Roberts says: “Farmers and ranchers work too hard to be forced to comply with regulations that are redundant and provide absolutely zero environmental protection or benefits.”

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Seneca Valley Virus Disease Reports Increasing

The Seneca Valley virus disease is on a slow upswing in the United States, and a University of Missouri Extension veterinarian says pork producers need to be prepared if the disease strikes their operation.  Veterinarian Corinne Bromfield (BROM-field) says the Swine Health Information Center reported that diagnostics labs had seen more than 60 cases of the virus from January to June 2016. They reported only 20 cases in the previous 30 years. The virus is in the same family as foot-and-mouth disease and causes vesicular lesions in pigs. Bromfield says producers who suspect the virus in their operation should contact their veterinarian and state agriculture department immediately, as visual diagnosis is not possible. Further, if suspected, producers should quarantine animals and halt movement of anyone who has been near the hogs.

SOURCE: NAFB News Service

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