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

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

Agriculture Secretary Nominee Perdue Divesting Business Interests

Agriculture Secretary nominee Sonny Perdue plans on divesting his business interests as part of becoming the next leader at the Department of Agriculture. The Atlanta Journal Constitution newspaper reports Perdue plans to step down from his business holding company and restructure his family trusts, should the Senate confirm his appointment. The White House has forwarded all financial and ethics documents to the Senate Agriculture Committee, which will hold the confirmation hearing. Federal documents show that as part of a deal struck with the Office of Government Ethics, Perdue would resign from positions as manager of Perdue Management Holdings, LLC, and as a board member of Perdue Business Holdings. Perdue would also leave positions at the National Grain and Feed Association, the Georgia Agribusiness Council and the Bipartisan Policy Center, while also putting his assets into a blind trust. The Senate Agriculture Committee has yet to schedule a hearing for Perdue, but a date could be set for next week.

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China: Chile Trade Meeting Not About TPP

China claims a trade meeting in Chile this week is not strictly about the Trans-Pacific Partnership, once led by the United States. Representatives from the 12 member countries that formed the TPP, along with China and South Korea are meeting in Chile. This is the first TPP meeting of member-nations since President Donald Trump pulled the U.S. from the trade agreement. A spokesperson from China said the meeting is not a TPP meeting, but rather a focus on “Asia-Pacific integration and the next step for cooperation,” according to Reuters. Officials in Chile hoped the meeting would explore options going forward, including the possibility of building on the base of pre-existing agreements. Critics of the U.S. move out of TPP say the meeting opens the door for China to lead the way on global trade. China has expressed no interested in joining TPP, but rather, remains open to “all regional free trade efforts.” TPP would have provided an annual $4.4 billion boost to U.S. agriculture.

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NFU Approves of Bill Adding USDA to Foreign Investment Committee

The National Farmers Union is supporting a bill that would add the U.S. Department of Agriculture and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services to the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States. The Food Security is National Security Act, introduced in the Senate by Michigan Democrat Debbie Stabenow and Iowa Republican Chuck Grassley, also directs the committee to consider U.S. food and agriculture systems when determining whether to approve foreign investment in U.S. companies. Farmers Union President Roger Johnson says foreign investment in agriculture is occurring at an alarming rate, noting Smithfield’s sale to a Chinese firm, the Syngenta acquisition by ChemChina, and Bayer’s proposed acquisition of Monsanto. Johnson says: “This foreign investment threatens our domestic food security,” while calling on Congress to pass the measure.

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Kansas Senator Calls for Restoration of Trade with Cuba

U.S. Senate Republican Jerry Moran (more-ran) is calling for the United States to restore trade with Cuba. Moran recently reintroduced legislation to lift the trade embargo against Cuba. The legislation would grant the private sector the freedom to export U.S. goods and services to Cuba, while protecting U.S. taxpayers from any risk resulting from trade. With Cuba 90 miles from the U.S. border, Moran says lifting the embargo and opening agricultural trade would increase exports, create new jobs and boost the U.S. economy. Moran says “when we don’t sell agricultural commodities to Cuba, somebody else does.” He says China, Canada and France are filling a void that could be filled by U.S. farmers. The bill, he says, would put the U.S. on a level playing field with market competitors exporting to Cuba.

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Study Shows Crop Insurance Firms’ Returns Have Decreased

A new study has found private crop insurance company returns have declined significantly since the 2010 renegotiation of the Standard Reinsurance Agreement. The agreement is between the insurance companies and the federal government. The findings in the study commissioned by the National Corn Growers Association are in line with benchmarks established by the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Risk Management Agency. According to the findings, from 1998 to 2010, crop insurance companies had an average net return on retained premium of 14.1 percent. From 2011 to 2015, returns averaged 1.5 percent, a decrease of 12.6 percentage points. The Standard Reinsurance Agreement establishes the levels of compensation for the companies. The 2010 renegotiations substantially cut reimbursements and limited the share of underwriting gains that crop insurance companies could receive. As a result, net returns to retained premiums are expected to average approximately 5.7 percentage points lower compared to pre-2010 levels.

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Farm Equipment Sales Post February Increase

Sales of farm equipment posted an increase in February, according to the Association of Equipment Manufacture’s monthly report on sales. For February 2017, the report says tractor sales in the United States were 13 percent higher compared to February of last year. For the two months in 2017, a total of 22,400 tractors were sold which compares to 21,300 sold through February 2016, representing a five percent increase for the year. For the month, two-wheel drive smaller tractors, under 40 horsepower, were up 22 percent from last year, while 40 and under 100 horsepower tractor sales were down three percent. Sales of two-wheel drive 100 plus horsepower tractors were up 17 percent, while four-wheel drive tractors were down 25 percent. Combine sales were up 29 percent for the month. Sales of combines for the year totaled 415 a decrease of 29 percent from 2016.

SOURCE: NAFB News Service

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