READ the NAFB’s National Ag News for Monday, February 27th

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READ the NAFB’s National Ag News for Monday,February 27th

Sonny Perdue is Waiting for Confirmation

During a farm bill field hearing last week, Kansas Republican Senator Pat Roberts said: “Sonny Perdue is just waiting.” The Senate Agriculture Committee chairman says his committee has not received the required paperwork from the White House yet to schedule a confirmation hearing for Perdue. Insiders with the Department of Agriculture have hinted that a confirmation hearing and vote is likely in early-to-mid March. Perdue was the final Cabinet selection for President Donald Trump, with Trump announcing the selection the day before being sworn into office. Roberts appears eager to perform and wrap-up the confirmation process for Perdue so the committee can focus on other confirmation hearings of lesser USDA post and farm bill discussions.


AFBF President Addresses USDA Ag Outlook Forum

“This could be the best of times…and possibly the worst of times in agriculture,” according to American Farm Bureau Federation President Zippy Duvall, who spoke last week at the Department of Agriculture’s Ag Outlook Forum. He told the attendees: “there are some early indications that it could be the worst,” according to the Hagstrom Report. His remarks were addressing what he called “the elephant in the room,” being President Donald Trump. Expressing concerns about trade and immigration, specifically aggressive action on deportation, Duvall said: “this could cost $60 billion in agriculture production.” Duvall called for a workable guest worker program run by USDA. Meanwhile, Duvall pointed to AFBF’s priorities for the year and the ‘best of times’ outlook for agriculture, being getting serious on immigration, tax, and regulatory reforms, providing much-needed relief for farmers.


NFU: Trump Administration Building Positive Record on Renewable Fuels

Stressing the need for certainty around the administration’s support for the renewable fuels industry, the National Farmers Union recognized the Donald Trump Administration’s growing positive record in support of renewable fuels. The National Farmers Union calls the support a reaffirmation that renewable fuels are a means to spur economic growth, provide good-paying jobs, and benefit American family farmers, ranchers, and rural economies. In a recent letter to ethanol industry leaders, President Trump acknowledged that renewable biofuels are critical to his vision for American energy. Farmers Union President Roger Johnson said: “It is important for his administration to build a positive record on renewables, and provide much-needed certainty to the industry.” President Trump has indicated he wants to cut unnecessary regulations that hinder growth of the biofuels industry, and Johnson says “we stand behind this notion.”


USDA Increases Fiscal Year 2017 Specialty Sugar TRQ

The Department of Agriculture Friday announced an increase in the fiscal year 2017 specialty sugar tariff-rate quota, or TRQ. The increase of 40,000 metric tons-raw value is needed to accommodate the growing domestic demand for organic sugar and other specialty sugars, according to USDA. The sugar will be permitted entry into the United States beginning March first. In May of last year, USDA established the fiscal year 2017 refined sugar TRQ at 162,000 metric tons-raw value. 141,000-some metric tons was reserved for the importation of specialty sugars as defined by the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative.


State COOL Legislation Fails in South Dakota

The South Dakota legislature has stopped a move to require country-of-origin labeling on beef sold within the state. Only 13 senators voted in favor of rewriting the state’s COOL law, according to online publication Meatingplace. While those in favor of the law say consumers have the right to know, voters against the bill say federal regulations would supersede an amended South Dakota law. South Dakota’s State Cattlemen’s Association also said the measure would not be enforceable. The U.S. repealed COOL in December 2015 after Canada and Mexico convinced the World Trade Organization that the rule was discriminatory and violated international trade laws. The South Dakota Stock Growers Association supported the measure, along with the South Dakota Farmers Union.


Analysts say Bacon Shortage Not Likely

Despite record low U.S. pork belly inventories, analysts say a bacon shortage is not likely. In early February, the Ohio Pork Council fueled alarms by publicizing that pork belly stocks were at their lowest levels in half a century. While the group added there was not an actual bacon shortage, several media outlets published reports suggesting otherwise. Market analysts tell Reuters more supply will soon be available. Industry analysts attributed low belly stocks to prolonged demand for bacon, as well as a decline in physical storage by speculators after the demise of Chicago Mercantile Exchange belly trading pit. The Department of Agriculture data for January on pork bellies, from which bacon is made, put total stocks at 14 million pounds. It was a record-low for the month and down four million pounds from the December record. Analysts say there’s no worry for a shortage, though, because hog slaughter totals are expected to rise four percent through the spring, and commercial pork production for 2017 is expected to increase by five percent, compared to last year.

SOURCE: NAFB News Service