READ the NAFB’s National Ag News for Tuesday, March 14th

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READ the NAFB’s National Ag News for Tuesday, March 14th

Trump to Host China’s President Next Month at Mar-a-Lago

President Donald Trump will host Chinese President Xi Jinping (she-gin-ping) in April at Trump’s Mar-a-Lago resort in Florida. The two-day meeting is tentatively scheduled for April 6th and 7th. Reuters says the planned summit would follow a string of other recent U.S.-China meetings, and conversations seeking to reaffirm ties following months of strong rhetoric from Trump against China. During his presidential campaign, Trump accused China of unfair trade policies, among other claims. Trump has yet to take any action regarding trade with China, including his promise to formally label China as a currency manipulator on his first day in office. China has warned of a trade war with the U.S., should the Trump administration ignore World Trade Organization rules by implementing new tariffs. The meeting is seen as a potential step to calm some trade tensions between the U.S. and China.

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White House files Ethics Documents with Senate Ag Committee on Perdue

The White House has sent the Senate Agriculture Committee financial disclosure documents for Sonny Perdue, President Donald Trump’s Agriculture Secretary nominee. By sending the information to the committee, the White House has now opened a path to holding a confirmation hearing for Perdue. However, a committee spokesperson told the Hagstrom Report it is unlikely a hearing will be held until the week of March 20th because the committee will need a few days to review the paperwork, and the Senate will not be in session on Thursday and Friday. The Environmental Working Group claims that as Georgia’s governor, Perdue was “mired in ethical lapses” that “raise troubling questions about his fitness to run” the Department of Agriculture. A spokesperson for Perdue says that “political gamesmanship” was behind complaints of missteps by Perdue during his time as Georgia’s governor.

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EU Pushing for Free Trade Agreements in Asia-Pacific Region

The European Union is pushing for free trade agreements in the Asia-Pacific region. The EU is aggressively moving forward on free trade talks in the region, and the National Pork Producers Council is urging the United States to do the same. The U.S. backed out of the Trans-Pacific Partnership agreement earlier this year, which would have improved market access for agricultural products into the Asia-Pacific region. EU trade officials have recently met with counterparts in New Zealand and the Philippines to explore free trade agreements. The EU has already concluded agreements with Vietnam and Singapore. NPPC, which strongly supported TPP, is urging the Trump administration to initiate bilateral free trade agreements with countries in the Asia-Pacific region, beginning with Japan, the U.S. pork industry’s top value market.

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States Impacted by Wildfires Seek Grazing Assistance

Oklahoma, Texas, Kansas and New Mexico have asked for a temporary suspension of grazing restrictions for farmers and ranchers. In a letter to acting Agriculture Secretary Mike Young, governors from the four states ask that the restrictions in the Conservation Reserve Program be lifted to provide more land for grazing. Senate Agriculture Committee chairman, Senator Pat Roberts of Kansas, toured the wildfire aftermath in his state last week. Roberts also asked the Donald Trump administration to quickly approve a federal disaster declaration. Following a conversation with Vice President Mike Pence last week, Roberts said he expected a disaster declaration within up to five days. Federal programs providing aid in disasters such as wildfires include the Emergency Conservation Program, the Livestock Indemnity Program, the Environmental Quality Incentives Program, Emergency Assistance for Livestock Program and crop insurance.

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Iowa Agriculture Department Urging Sound Biosecurity Measures in Poultry Flocks

The Iowa Department of Agriculture is prepping for a potential avian influenza outbreak by recommending producers continue and improve biosecurity efforts. High pathogenic avian influenza was confirmed recently in Tennessee, and two outbreaks of low pathogenic avian influenza were confirmed in Tennessee and Wisconsin. Highly pathogenic avian influenza virus strains are extremely infectious, often fatal to domestic poultry, and can spread rapidly from flock-to-flock. Low pathogenic avian influenza virus strains occur naturally in wild migratory waterfowl and shorebirds without causing illness. Low-path influenza can occur in domestic poultry, with little or no signs of illness. Iowa Secretary of Agriculture Bill Northey says his state “saw firsthand” the devastation of HPAI in 2015. Northey says Iowa turkey, egg and broiler farmers have updated their biosecurity measures and made significant investments to help prevent the disease from getting on their farm. He stresses that all poultry farms need to have a biosecurity plan to qualify for USDA indemnification.

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U.S. Lacking in Organic Meat Processors

A report from the Organic Farming Research Foundation says the United States lacks enough organic meat processors. In the National Organic Research Agenda Report, the group concluded that although sales of U.S.-produced organic food exceed $6 billion annually, federal funding into organic production has not kept pace. The report says the reason for the funding gap is unclear, according to meat industry publication Meatingplace. Additional needs cited by the more than 1,000 organic farmers who participated in the survey include the need for research into how to get the best marbled meat through genetics. Forty-one percent of farmers who responded to the National Organic Farmer Survey produced animal products, with the most commonly produced animal product being beef followed by poultry and dairy. The National Organic Research Foundation is a non-profit organic advocacy group based in California.

SOURCE: NAFB News Service

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