READ the NAFB’s National Ag News for Tuesday, April 11th

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READ the NAFB’s National Ag News for Tuesday, April 11th

China Opens Access for U.S. Beef

China has agreed to lift a barricade against U.S. beef exports, ending a ban on U.S. beef that’s been in place since 2003. The agreement was struck between President Donald Trump and China President Xi (she) Jinping over the weekend. Meat industry publication Meatingplace reports the opportunity for U.S. beef exporters could be significant. The greater China region, which includes China, Hong Kong and Vietnam, is estimated as a $7 billion beef market. The agreement follows a coalition letter urging President Trump to restore beef trade with China. Led by the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association, The U.S. Meat Export Federation and the North American Meat Institute, the letter called access to China “essential to the future health of the beef industry.”

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Pence, Ross, to Talk Trade with Japan

Vice President Mike Pence and Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross will travel to Japan to discuss trade later this month. The duo is scheduled to travel to Tokyo on April 18th. The U.S. officials will meet with Japan’s finance, foreign and industry Ministers. Japan is the top export market for the U.S. pork industry, and the National Pork Producers Council has urged the Donald Trump administration to begin negotiations on a free trade agreement with Japan. Republican Representatives Adrian Smith of Nebraska and Ted Yoho of Florida also recently introduced a House Resolution asking the administration to start the process of establishing a free trade agreement with Japan. Congressman Smith said the U.S. “cannot afford” to miss the opportunity to reduce trade barriers with Japan, “especially for U.S. agriculture producers.”

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DTN Poll Finds Increase in Farmer Confidence

A poll by DTN-The Progressive Farmer shows confidence by farmers has increased since December 2016. The Agricultural Confidence Index for spring 2017 scored 130 overall, which DTN calls a significant improvement from the mostly neutral 98 for the December 2016 survey, and a complete flip from the pessimistic 75 score produced in spring 2016. The survey, conducted three times a year, determines farmers’ opinions about their current economic situation and about that situation in the year to come. The current conditions index within the survey was a pessimistic 70, but the index on future prospects was a record high 163.6, resulting in the overall score of 130. Researcher Robert Hill says questions asked in the survey are specific to income expectations, costs of inputs, and overall business conditions. Farmers are not asked about political, regulatory or other non-revenue-related issues. Agribusinesses showed a more subdued optimism. Business owners rated their current prospects at a mostly neutral 96.6, with future expectations slightly more optimistic at 119.3. The next Ag Confidence Index will be conducted just before harvest this year.

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Hog Prices Expected to Increase in 2017, Despite Challenges

Hog prices are expected to increase this year, even as pork production is expected to increase by three percent, according to a Purdue University agricultural economist. Christ Hurt writes that stronger demand will support prices because of a growing U.S. economy, and by a robust eight percent growth in exports as projected by the U.S. Department of Agriculture. Hurt says new packer capacity is also expected to contribute to stronger bids for hogs. Also, feed costs will be the lowest in a decade, and total production costs are expected to be at decade lows. Based on USDA numbers, Hurt says pork supplies are expected to rise by five percent in April and May and then drop to a four percent increase for June through August. Three percent more pork can be expected for September through November of 2017 with supplies up one percent this coming winter compared to year-previous levels.

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Wheat Growers: Prospective Plantings Report Alarming

The National Association of Wheat Growers finds wheat plantings included in the Department of Agriculture’s Prospective Plantings report alarming. The recent report anticipates that all wheat plantings will be at 46.1 million acres, which is down eight percent from 2016. For winter wheat specifically, the planted area is estimated at 32.7 million acres, which is down nine percent from last year, but it is one percent higher than the previous estimate. The estimates represent historically low levels of wheat plantings that the Association says the U.S. hasn’t seen “since a time when farmers worked with a horse and plow.” The Association says it is working to communicate the tough economic conditions in wheat country to members of Congress and the Donald Trump Administration. Further, the Association says low prices and the associated low plantings will help to frame the upcoming Farm Bill discussion.

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Mexico Approves ChemChina Acquisition of Syngenta

Mexico has signed-off on ChemChina’s acquisition of Swiss-based Syngenta. The Federal Economic Competition Commission of Mexico recently announced approval the $43 billion takeover of Syngenta by the state-owned Company, ChemChina. The two companies call the move a step towards closing the transaction, which is expected to take place in the second quarter of this year. The approval by Mexico follows last week’s approval announced by the European Union and the U.S. Federal Trade Commission. The U.S. is requiring the companies to divest three types of pesticides in the U.S. as a condition for completing the deal, while the EU approval is conditional on ChemChina’s offer to divest “a significant part” of its Adama unit’s pesticide business, and other conditions. The acquisition still needs approval from regulators in China and India.

SOURCE: NAFB News Service

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