READ the NAFB’s National Ag News for Thursday, April 13th

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READ the NAFB’s National Ag News for Thursday, April 13th

World Trade Expanding Amid Deep Uncertainty

The World Trade Organization says world trade is on track to expand 2.4 percent this year, although there is “deep uncertainty” about economic and policy developments in the United States. The WTO says clarity is needed on President Donald Trump’s trade policies. The WTO pushed against trade protectionism in comments as a spokesperson said: “we should see trade as part of the solution to economic difficulties, not part of the problem.” Trump has already removed the U.S. from the Trans-Pacific Partnership trade agreement that was worth more than an estimated 4$ billion to U.S. agriculture.  Trump also intends to renegotiate the North American Free Trade Agreement, which could cause tensions between the U.S. and Mexico and Canada. Mexico is the number one customer for U.S. corn and corn-based products.

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Senators Ask Administration to Act on Dairy Trade Barriers by Canada

A group of Senators is urging the Donald Trump administration to act against what they call trade barriers restricting U.S. dairy farmers access to Canada. New York Democrat’s Charles Schumer and Kristen Gillibrand, along with Wisconsin Democrat Tammy Baldwin, sent a letter to the Trump administration saying the trade barriers are hurting American dairy farmers and processors. The letter was sent to Acting U.S. Trade Representative Stephen Vaughn, Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross and Acting Secretary of Agriculture Michael Young. The Senators wrote: “Dairy farmers should not have their businesses ruined and lives upended as a result of this unfair trade practice.” At issue is Canada’s new milk pricing scheme that the Senators say led customers of U.S. dairy products in Canada to drastically reduce or eliminate purchases. But, Canada says the nation is not to blame for the actions. A spokesperson for Dairy Farmers of Canada told the Milwaukee Journal-Sentential: “We don’t feel good about U.S. farms going out of business. But you know what? It’s not our responsibility. It’s your own responsibility, as a country, to manage your production.”

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NFU Urging Trump to Keep U.S. in Paris Climate Agreement

The National Farmers Union says the Paris Climate Agreement is vital to enhancing the climate resiliency of family farm operations and rural communities. In urging President Donald Trump not to remove the U.S. from the accord, NFU says the agreement is vital to U.S. agriculture and allows farmers and ranchers to join carbon sequestration efforts that stimulate economic growth in rural America. The President is expected to decide on whether to stay in the Paris Agreement by late May. NFU has been an adamant proponent of the agreement since its adoption in 2015. NFU President Roger Johnson says “farmers are on the front lines of climate change,” adding the contributions rural communities can make under the agreement “will drive economic growth in the countryside and make American agriculture more resilient to extreme weather.” The United States, under the Paris Agreement, has a current target of reducing greenhouse gas emissions by 26-28 percent by 2025.

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U.S. Tractor Sales Up in March

U.S. tractor sales in March increased six percent compared to a year ago. The Association of Equipment Manufacturers released its monthly sales report this week. The report shows that for the first three months in 2017, a total of 42,033 tractors were sold which compares to 39,878 sold through March 2016, representing a five percent increase for the year. For the month, two-wheel drive smaller tractors, rated 40 horsepower and under, were up ten percent from last year. Meanwhile, sales of 40 to 100 horsepower tractors were up two percent, and 100-plus horsepower two-wheel drive tractor sales were down 15 percent, but four-wheel drive tractors in the same category increased 21 percent. Combine sales were up 11 percent for the month, and sales of combines for the year so far totaled 715, a 16 percent decrease from levels last year.

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Chinese Authority Approves ChemChina-Syngenta Deal

The ChemChina takeover of Syngenta continues to march through the approval process this month as China has now green-lighted the deal. The acquisition received approval from the Ministry of Commerce of the People’s Republic of China, according to Syngenta. The approval from China follows approval from Mexico earlier this week, and approval with conditions by the European Union and the United States last week. The $43 billion takeover of Syngenta by the state-owned Company, ChemChina, was announced in February of last year. It’s expected to close by July of this year. The acquisition still needs approval from India. The acquisition is one of three major mergers in the crop protection and seed industry, which includes the Bayer-Monsanto and Dow-DuPont merger agreements.

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Reebok to Manufacture Shoes Made from Corn, Organic Cotton

Reebok will begin making shoes from corn and organic cotton later this year. The initiative is an effort to create more sustainable products. A Reebok spokesperson says: “Reebok is trying to clean up the entire life cycle of shoe making,” Reebok says the sole of the new shoe will be made with petroleum-free, non-toxic industrial-grown corn, while the body of the shoe will be made with 100 percent organic cotton. The line is part of the company’s Corn + Cotton initiative. Both the cotton and corn in Reebok’s new shoes are compostable and that by composting the shoes after use, the compost can become part of the soil to grow new materials for the next “range of shoes.” Currently, most shoes are made with oil-based plastics. Both Nike and Adidas have similar initiatives to create sustainable and recyclable shoes.

SOURCE: NAFB News Service

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