READ the NAFB’s National Ag News for Tuesday, February 28th…

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CLICK HERE to listen to TODAY’s BARN Morning Ag News with Brian Allmer…

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READ the NAFB’s National Ag News for Tuesday, February 28th…

Poll Shows Free Trade Support is Growing

A new poll by the Wall Street Journal shows an increase in support for free trade in the United States. The growing support comes despite anti-trade sentiments by President Donald Trump and his removal of the U.S. from the Trans-Pacific Partnership, along with intent to renegotiate the North American Free Trade Agreement. The poll last week found that 43 percent of Americans surveyed thought positively of free trade between the U.S. and foreign countries, while 34 percent of respondents thought free trade hurt the country. The results represent a sharp reversal from a similar poll from March of last year. That poll found just 27 percent of Americans favored free trade, and 43 percent said free trade harmed the nation. Increasingly positive views of the net benefits of trade came mainly from Democrats, as 57 percent of them said free trade helped more than hurt, up from 34 percent in 2016.

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Mexico Won’t Negotiate New Tariffs in NAFTA

Mexico issued a warning to the United States over the weekend, saying if any North American Free Trade Agreement renegotiations include new tariffs, the nation’s trade leaders would “get up from the table.” Mexico’s Economy Minister said the country “refuses to even discuss the kind of tariffs President Donald Trump” has suggested, according to Bloomberg. Trump wants to build a border wall and impose a 20 percent tax on imports from Mexico, along with another possible tax on automobiles. Without NAFTA, the U.S. and Mexico would be subject to stricter tariff limits by the World Trade Organization, if both countries choose to be WTO compliant. The U.S. is the biggest trading partner for Mexico, but the nation has trade deals with 40 other countries and is accelerating trade talks with Brazil and Argentina, two possible sources to replace corn purchases from the United States. Trade officials from Mexico have said they expect NAFTA talks to start in June.

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Ag Groups Ask Trump to fill USDA Trade Role

A group of 29 agricultural and food organizations, including the National Pork Producers Council, last week urged the Donald Trump administration to fill a key trade position within the U.S. Department of Agriculture. The groups penned a letter to the president, urging him to fill the position quickly. The organizations asked that an Under Secretary for Trade and Foreign Agricultural Affairs be appointed. The position was established in the 2014 Farm Bill, but the Obama administration never filled the post. “Such a position will bring unified high-level representation to key trade negotiations with senior, foreign officials and within the Executive Branch,” according to the letter.

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CoBank Loan Volume Up 10 Percent

CoBank says loan volumes increased in 2016, as did the bank’s net income. CoBank is a cooperative bank serving agribusinesses, rural infrastructure providers and Farm Credit associations throughout the United States. In its financial results for 2016, the bank says net income for the year rose one percent to $945.7 million, reflecting increased net interest income offset by a greater provision for loan losses, as well as higher Farm Credit insurance fund premiums. Net interest income increased by seven percent to $1.4 billion, as a result of higher loan volume and increased earnings. Meanwhile, CoBank’s average loan volume increased 10 percent in 2016, to $91.6 billion, driven by higher levels of borrowing from affiliated Farm Credit associations, grain cooperatives, food and agribusiness companies, rural electric cooperatives and communications service providers.

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New Research Challenges 2050 Agriculture Production Needs

New research suggests the world’s agricultural production may not need to double by 2050, but offered a wide range in what the increase in production may need to be. Penn State University researchers say production likely will now need to increase between 25 percent and 70 percent to meet 2050 food demand. The first “double production by 2050” claim originated in 2005, some 12 years ago. Since that time, researchers say agricultural production has increased. However, much of the research announced by Penn State University focused mostly on what researchers say is an “out of balance” narrative in agriculture, between food production and ensuring a healthy environment. The researchers say agriculture needs quantitative targets for both food and environmental impacts to “clarify the scope of the challenges” agriculture will face in the coming decades.

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Atrazine Reregistration to Begin Next Year

Renewing the registration of Atrazine, the most popular herbicide in the United States, will start next year. The University of Missouri Extension says more than 500,000 farmers use atrazine to control grass and broadleaf weeds on 50 percent of the country’s cornfields. Atrazine’s last registration received approval in 2003. The Environmental Protection Agency reviews products every 15 years after a lengthy process that often involves public opinion and scientific data. Closer scrutiny of atrazine use comes when it appears in drinking water supplies at higher rates than allowed by EPA. The University says farmers can do their part to help minimize scrutiny over atrazine and prevent runoff by applying atrazine when weather conditions are right and using proper land management practices. University officials also say, if atrazine is running off fields and into water systems, it also means farmer are losing money and weed control.

SOURCE: NAFB News Service

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