READ the NAFB’s National Ag News for Wednesday, April 12th

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READ the NAFB’s National Ag News for Wednesday, April 12th

Livestock Groups, Roberts, Praise GIPSA Rule Delay

Livestock groups welcomed a delay by the Donald Trump administration to an interim final rule under GIPSA, the Grain Inspection, Packers and Stockyards Administration. A notice in Wednesday’s Federal Register will indicate the Department of Agriculture is delaying the April 22nd effective date for the interim final rule by 180 days and setting a 60-day comment period from April 12th  to June 10th on whether to further delay or withdraw the rule. The National Pork Producers Council said the regulation “likely would restrict the buying and selling of livestock, lead to consolidation of the livestock industry, putting farmers out of business and increase consumer prices for meat.” NPPC, along with the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association and others, is calling on the Trump Administration to withdraw the rule. The National Chicken Council applauded the delay, saying the rules would “inflict billions of dollars of economic harm to American agriculture.” Senate Agriculture Chairman Pat Roberts of Kansas also welcomed the delay, saying the rule “ignored the comments submitted by thousands of cattle producers in opposition to the rule.”

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White House Plans to Tackle Tough Issues First in NAFTA Talks

The Donald Trump administration is considering front-loading the upcoming renegotiation of the North American Free Trade Agreement by negotiating the political issues first, ahead of more technical talks. A former official at the U.S. Trade Representative’s office told Politico this week the idea would be to “have a lot of those high-level discussions with principals at the beginning, and find out within the first few months: Is this doable or not?” Typical trade negotiations put technical talks first and saves the tougher political issues until near the end of talks. Jeff Weiss, who has served in the USTR office and just recently left the Commerce Department, says discussions surrounding the potential elimination of Chapter 19 dispute settlement, which the U.S. wants, as well as intellectual property issues with Mexico and dairy talks with Canada, will likely be some of the toughest areas of negotiations. NAFTA renegotiations could start in July, after a formal waiting period required following notification to Congress by the Trump administration.

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Trade Critical for U.S. Railway Operators

Union Pacific says millions of American jobs depend on trade occurring along the U.S.-Mexican border, and that fact needs to be considered during any discussion of changes to the North American Free Trade Agreement. The railroad company is highlighting the impact of the agreement as an effort to promote trade across the border. Less trade between the U.S. and Mexico would undoubtedly impact Union Pacific’s profits. The company points out that each year, NAFTA-related trade generates about 200,000 export-related jobs that pay about 15 to 20 percent better than the manufacturing jobs lost due to rising imports from Mexico, according to the International Trade Commission. In the agriculture sector alone, Mexico is America’s third-largest agricultural market, importing $18 billion of U.S. agricultural products. Union Pacific points to comments by a Mexican trade economist who was also an architect of NAFTA, who says the deal “probably” needs renegotiated, to be “brought into the 21st century.”

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Global Soybean Stocks Increase in Latest USDA Report

The April World Agricultural Supply and Demand report expects increases in soybean production and global soybean stocks. Released by the U.S. Department of Agriculture Tuesday, the report raised global soybean production for the 2016-17 crop year by 5.18 million metric tons and boosted global soybean ending stocks by 4.59 million metric tons to 87.4 million. For the U.S., soybean ending stocks are projected up 10 million bushels to 445 million. Also in the report, USDA is forecasting increased corn usage for ethanol production, up 50 million bushels to 5.45 billion. Global corn production was raised 4.52 million metric tons, and global ending stocks for corn were bumped up by 2.3 million metric tons to just under 223 million metric tons. U.S. wheat ending stocks were raised 30 million bushels on lower feed and residual use, which more than offsets a slight import reduction.  At 1.15 billion bushels, ending stocks are projected to reach a near 30-year high. Global wheat supplies were raised 1.7 million tons due to higher projected beginning stocks and a 0.3-million-ton increase in production. 

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Grassley Bill Would Ban Packer Ownership of Livestock

A bill reintroduced in the U.S. Senate last week by Iowa Republican Senator Chuck Grassley seeks to ban packer ownership of livestock. A news release from his office says the Senator is concerned about the continued impact of consolidation within the livestock industry. Grassley says over the last several decades large packing companies in the poultry and pork industries have moved to concentrate and vertically integrate, noting the beef industry is showing similar signs of consolidation. Pork Network Magazine reports online the National Pork Producers Council is opposed to mandates on ownership of livestock. NPPC President Ken Maschhoff (mash-off), says “NPPC is opposed to any government mandate that would restrict producers’ ability to sell and packers’ ability to buy livestock.” Maschhoff also pointed out that at least one existing packing plant and all five of the new plants coming online over the next two years are partially or fully owned by producers, raising concerns about the legislation’s effect on those operations.

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Canada Farmland Values Up 10 Percent

Farm Credit Canada announced this week farmland prices in Canada increased 10 percent last year as the nation’s property boom is spreading to agriculture. A report by Farm Credit Canada found the average price of farmland across Canada increased 10.1 percent in 2016 as low-interest rates and strong crop income helped maintain demand. The 2016 increase, according to the report, follows part of a continuous uptrend in farmland prices in Canada that started in 1993. The gains, however, are lower than in recent years, as 2013 saw a 22 percent increase and 2014 recorded a 14 percent increase. The agricultural finance group says prices aren’t going up evenly across Canada. Despite the higher average nationally and in every province, many more regions across the country saw price declines in 2015 than saw them in 2014. In a news release, Farm Credit Canada said: “There appears to be greater volatility with a higher number of locales where values decreased,” advising farmers to prepare for a potential softening of the market as lower crop prices have an impact.

SOURCE: NAFB News Service

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