READ the NAFB’s National Ag News for April 3rd…

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READ the NAFB’s National Ag News for Monday, April 3rd

USDA Says Corn Plantings are Losing Ground to Soybeans

Friday’s Department of Agriculture prospective plantings report suggests that U.S. farmers will plant four percent less corn this year compared to 2016 while planting seven percent more soybeans. The report says farmers are expected to plant 90 million acres of corn and 89.5 million acres of soybeans in 2017. The estimate for soybeans again represents record acreage. Farmers are also projected to plant 46.1 million acres of wheat, down eight percent from last year. If realized, it would mark the lowest wheat acreage since the U.S. began keeping records in 1919. In the Quarterly Stocks reports, USDA pegged corn stocks at 8.62 billion bushels, up 10 percent from a year ago. Soybean stocks were pegged at 1.73 billion bushels, up 13 percent from last year. All-wheat stocks were projected at 1.66 billion bushels, up 21 percent from a year ago. Also in the prospective plantings report, USDA projects 12.2 million planted cotton acres, up 21 percent from last year and the highest planted acres since 2012. USDA also says farmers will plant 5.8 million acres of sorghum, down 14 percent from last year.

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Resolution Urging Trade Agreement with Japan Introduced

Two Republicans in the U.S. House are urging the Donald Trump administration to craft a trade agreement with Japan. Nebraska Representative Adrian Smith and Florida Representative Ted Yoho introduced a resolution in the House of Representatives Thursday that urges Trump to start the process of establishing a trade agreement with Japan. Congressman Smith says the U.S. “cannot afford” to miss the opportunity to reduce trade barriers with Japan, “especially for U.S. agriculture producers.” Smith pointed out a trade agreement could address the 40 percent tariff on U.S. beef imported to Japan compared to the 28 percent tariff Australia has negotiated. The difference in tariffs allows Australia a competitive advantage over U.S. beef in Japan. Congressman Yoho says a bilateral trade agreement with Japan would “continue to strengthen the U.S.-Japan relationship,” noting Japan is the fourth largest trading partner for the United States. The resolution was welcomed by the National Pork Producers Council and the Nebraska Cattlemen’s Association.

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U.S. Considering Tariffs on EU Products over Beef Spat

The Donald Trump administration is considering tariffs on specific products from the European Union in response to the EU’s ban on American beef from hormone-treated cattle. Trump is considering imposing tariffs of 100 percent on Perrier (Perry-eh) mineral water, Vespa motor scooters and Roquefort (rockfort) cheese over the issue. The Wall Street Journal reports the beef case will offer an early demonstration of how aggressive the administration is likely to be with trading partners. In 1998, the EU lost a case at the World Trade Organization for banning American beef. In 2009, the U.S. negotiated an agreement to allow limited market access for specially produced beef that meets EU standards, but the U.S. beef industry has been prevented from gaining the intended benefits from the agreement because of increased imports under the duty-free quota from non-U.S. suppliers.

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Agriculture Groups Focus on Importance of Immigration Reform in Letter to President

The Agriculture Workforce Coalition last week emphasized the importance of immigration reform for America’s farmers and ranchers in a letter sent to President Donald Trump. 70 groups representing a variety of crops grown in every region in the country joined in sending the letter that calls for reforms to ensure that American agriculture has a legal, stable supply of workers in both the long and short-term for all types of producers. The groups say farmers are facing growing shortages of legally authorized and experienced workers each year. The letter says the labor shortage “negatively impacts economic competitiveness, local economies and jobs.” The groups say they support strengthening the border and says the U.S. must relieve pressure on the border by providing a lawful path for foreign workers to enter the U.S. on a nonimmigrant basis. The groups point out the only current guest worker program available, the H-2A visa program, is cumbersome and dysfunctional and only allows for temporary or seasonal workers. Therefore, it cannot be used by farmers.

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FMC to Acquire Part of Divested DuPont Crop Protection Business

FMC Corporation announced Friday it would acquire a portion of DuPont’s crop protection business that DuPont is divesting as part of its merger agreement with Dow. Additionally, DuPont will acquire FMC Health and Nutrition and receive $1.2 billion in cash. The European Union agreed to approve the Dow-DuPont merger, if the companies divested some assets, including research and development. FMC will acquire DuPont’s global chewing pest insecticide portfolio, its global cereal broadleaf herbicides, and a substantial portion of DuPont’s global crop protection research and development capabilities. After closing of the acquisition, FMC Agricultural Solutions will become the fifth largest crop protection chemical company in the world by revenue, with estimated annual revenue of approximately $3.8 billion. The transaction is subject to the closing of the Dow and DuPont merger. Closing is expected to occur in the fourth quarter of 2017. 

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USDA Offers Renewal Options for Expiring Conservation Stewardship Program Contracts

The Department of Agriculture has announced a contract renewal sign-up is underway for the Conservation Stewardship Program, USDA’s largest working lands conservation program with more than 80 million acres enrolled. USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service made several updates to the program last fall. USDA says those changes help producers better evaluate conservation options that benefit their operations while improving the health and productivity of lands. Participants with existing contracts that will expire this year can access the benefits of the recent program changes through an option to renew their contracts for an additional five years. Applications to renew expiring contracts are due by May 5th. Through CSP, landowners earn payments for actively managing, maintaining, and expanding conservation activities like cover crops, buffer strips, pollinator and beneficial insect habitat, and soil health building activities – all while maintaining active agricultural production on their land. Producers interested in contract renewals or applying for CSP for the first time should contact their local USDA service center to learn more.

SOURCE: NAFB News Service

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