READ the NAFB’s National Ag News for Friday, February 17th

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READ the NAFB’s National Ag News for Friday, February 17th

EU To Begin Trade Talks with China

The European Union is getting set to talk trade with China in April or May. European officials told Reuters the goal is to promote free trade and international cooperation in the face of what may be a more protectionist Washington D.C. A European trade official says the summit is meant to send a “message to the U.S. that China has friends in Europe.” The EU is hoping to get China’s vocal support for international institutions like the United Nations and the World Trade Organization. President Donald Trump has criticized the U.N. in the past, while Russia completely bypassed the U.N. in securing a cease-fire in Syria. China and the European Union hold a summit every year and while a specific date hasn’t been chosen yet, Beijing requested it to take place as soon as possible. The EU believes China wants to use the summit to re-emphasize its defense of open trade and global ties that China put forth at the World Economic Forum in January.

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House Ag Committee Passes Two Measures on Pesticides

The House Ag Committee passed two measures this week that deal with pesticide regulations. H.R. Bill 953, called the Reducing Regulatory Burdens Act, would clarify Congressional intent regarding pesticide applications around the waters of the U.S. A 2009 Court of Appeals decision mistakenly applied provisions of the National Pollution Discharge Elimination System permitting process under the Clean Water Act to pesticide applications that were already fully regulated by federal law. The result was two different permitting processes, which Ag Committee Chair Mike Conaway, a Texas Republican, said was never the intent of Congress. H.R. Bill 1029, titled the Pesticide Registration Enhancement Act, reauthorizes the Pesticide Registration Improvement Act. PRIA (Pree’-ah) was intended to make the evaluation process more predictable and effective for affected pesticide decisions. It couples the collection of fees with a specific review period and it shortens the review period for reduced-risk pesticides. Committee Chair Conaway says, “For over a decade, PRIA has provided predictability and certainty to the Ag and public health communities while bringing transparency to the pesticide registration process.”

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EPA Defends RFS Implementation

A group of plaintiffs recently filed suit against the Environmental Protection Agency challenging how the Renewable Fuels Standard has recently been implemented. Attorneys for the EPA filed a court brief this week saying it followed the law. A DTN report says oral arguments are scheduled for April 24 in the D.C. Court of Appeals. The 165-page brief goes through the reasons why the EPA denied a petition to change the point of obligation under the RFS, how it set the biofuel requirements for 2017-2018, and a number of other issues raised by agriculture, biofuels, and petroleum groups. The EPA rejected a petition from petroleum interests to change the point of obligation under the RFS from refiners and petroleum importers to blenders. Petroleum interests say it would spread the cost of compliance throughout the industry, but the EPA said it would take the number of companies that need to be in compliance from hundreds to thousands. The EPA has also taken heat for missing multiple statutory deadlines and for how it went about setting biofuels volumes for the next year.

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New Venture for the National Farm Machinery Show

Dennis Slater, President of the Association of Equipment Manufacturers, and Jason Rittenberry, CEO of the Kentucky State Fair, made a joint announcement at this week’s National Farm Machinery Show in Louisville, Kentucky, regarding a collaboration between the groups. Beginning with next year’s show, the Association of Equipment Manufacturers will assist with managing and co-producing the show, as well as having an equity position in the show’s future growth. Rittenberry said, “Every year, potential exhibitors are put on a waiting list for America’s largest farm show. This partnership will bring new opportunities for current and future exhibitors, as well as the people who attend the show every year.” The Show brings together manufacturers and customers. The face-to-face interaction includes a chance to talk about issues that affect the overall industry. Slater noted this partnership will eventually allow different sectors of the Ag industry to work together to advance and strengthen agriculture for the benefit of all. Show organizers expect 30,000 people to come through the doors this week at the 2017 Show in Louisville.

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11 Dollar Soybeans Possible

An Ag Web Dot Com article says gains in other commodities have convinced at least one analyst that $11 soybeans are possible, even with an average 2017 crop. John Payne of Daniels Trading says other markets like copper, cotton, and oats to a certain extent, have risen. “Corn has come up a little, as has the stock market,” Payne said. He says farmers who have the capital to do so, might want to hold off on deciding final crop mixes for 2017 “until the market shows its hand,” Payne said. “Soybeans are going to give you an opportunity at some point.” At the same time, Payne says there is a significant downside possible for prices if bean yields hit near 53 bushels per acre. Corn does remain a strong contender based on data showing that farmers historically like to plant the crop. Payne expects corn acreage to be 91-92 million acres this year. “I understand the arguments against it,” says Payne, “prices certainly don’t reflect it. Given the yield that farmers had last year, if they’re up for rotation, I highly doubt they’re going to switch out.”  

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KIND CEO Pledges $25 Million for Nutrition Group

Daniel Lubetzky, the founder of a rapidly growing granola and nut bar company called KIND LLC, says he’s giving $25 million to back a new non-profit group called Feed the Truth. It’s a group that wants to counteract what they say is the food industry’s influence on nutrition policy. The move comes as nutrition groups come to grips with a change in the White House after eight years of an administration that generally supported their goals. Lubetzky told Politico’s Morning Agriculture Report that he’ll have no influence or control over the operation. The group could find that almonds, a key ingredient in KIND bars, are not healthy, and he said (half-jokingly) that he would have to consider their findings. “The goal is for this group to represent the nutrition interests of the public.” Lubetzky founded his New York-based company in 2004 after growing frustrated with a lack of readily available healthy snack options.

SOURCE: NAFB News Service

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