READ the NAFB’s National Ag News for Tuesday, April 18th

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READ the NAFB’s National Ag News for Tuesday, April 18th

Japan Taking Lead on TPP Without U.S.

Japan is seeking to revive the Trans-Pacific Partnership trade deal without the United States. President Donald Trump in January removed the U.S. from the deal that was estimated to be worth more than $4 billion to U.S. agriculture. Now, Japan is seeking to amend the deal to 11 nations, cutting out the U.S., and moving forward. The Nikkei (Nee-kay) Asian Review reports Japan has confirmed that President Trump would not object to the deal moving forward without the U.S., paving the way for a possible final agreement. Tokyo aims to hold a TPP ministers meeting in Vietnam in late May to consider ways an 11-member pact could be brought into force. Doing so would require those members to settle on a revision to exclude the United States. However, for some countries, that means reopening the deal to renegotiation.

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USDA Seeking to Advance Modernized Pork Slaughter

The Department of Agriculture wants to move forward with a modernization of pork slaughter. USDA’s Food Safety and Inspection Service last week announced the agency wants to move forward with a system that will focus inspection resources and improve food safety. The effort is supported by the National Pork Producers Council, which says the improvements would increase efficiency and effectiveness of the federal inspection process, and allow for the rapid adoption of new food safety technologies in pork slaughter. NPPC says it also has the potential to increase U.S. hog slaughter capacity. Like the system already implemented in the chicken industry, the pork version, also a result of the years-long Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Points Inspection Models Project, currently has five U.S. pork packing plants participating in pilot programs. Enactment of a modernization rule would make the system available to all packers.

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Little Time to Reverse Organic Livestock Rules

If confirmed next Monday, Agriculture Secretary nominee Sonny Perdue will have little time to oppose organic livestock rules finalized by the Department of Agriculture just a day before President Donald Trump was sworn in. Politico reports the rules will go into effect May 19th, but Congress has until April 28th to undo the measure, and Congress doesn’t seem likely to take action. Large organic egg producers want USDA to roll back portions of the Obama-era rule setting animal welfare standards for organic livestock and poultry, but need Perdue in place to do so. Under government rules, to take the rule off the books, Perdue would have to issue a new regulation, a years-long process. However, he can delay it almost indefinitely, and that’s what egg producers are asking for. The rules set treatment standards for organic animals produced for meat, dairy and eggs, including controversial provisions for outdoor access for poultry. Some of the nation’s largest organic egg producers say the outdoor and space requirements for hens would expose them to disease and cost millions to comply with due to the potential need for larger laying houses and pastures.

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EPA Administer Promises Back-to-Basics Agenda

Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Scott Pruitt last week promised a back-to-basics agenda approach for the federal agency. While visiting a Pennsylvania coal mine, Pruitt announced the agenda, saying the new focus “means returning EPA to its core mission: protecting the environment by engaging with state, local,and tribal partners to create sensible regulations that enhance economic growth.” In his speech to Pennsylvania miners, Administrator Pruitt explained that the EPA would be partnering with states and tribes to ensure a “thoughtful approach is used to maximize resources to protect America’s air, land and water.” The agenda reinforces Pruitt’s pledge to refocusing EPA on its intended mission, returning power to the states, and creating an environment where jobs can grow.

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China Growing Less Corn as Acreage Drops

Farmers in China will plant less corn this season, resulting in the nation’s smallest crop in six years. A poll by Reuters finds that during the spring planting season, growers in China plan to cut corn acreage for the second straight year to 35.2 million hectares, the equivalent of roughly 85 million acres, 4.1 percent less than a year ago. The lower acreage will result in corn output dropping to 207.5 million metric tons in the 2017-18 crop year that ends in September, 5.5 percent lower than the 219.6 million produced in the 2016-17 season. At the same time, China’s soybean output will edge higher to 13.5 million metric tons, 2.9 percent higher than the 13.1 million produced last year. Reuters says the shift towards rising soybean output and falling corn production reflects Beijing’s goal of reducing corn growing to cut its bloated stockpiles. China currently has around 250 million metric tons of corn in storage, more than one years’ worth of consumption.

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Survey Shows Farmers Concerns

A new survey by the Farmer’s Business Network shows the current concerns farmers have in the United States. The new Voice of the Farmer Report examines the state of modern day farming through a combination of interviews with farmers and analysis of millions of acres of real farm yield and thousands of farmer seed and chemical invoices and price records. The survey finds issues including farm profits, industry consolidation, farm consolidation and health care, along with technology needs, are all top-of-mind for farmers and ranchers. The report predicts industry consolidation will likely further hurt the current low farm profits, and farm consolidation will put further pressure on independent farmers. The report also says health care coverage and cost is a major concern for farm families, noting a family of five might pay thousands of dollars for health care premiums, forcing farm families to add off-farm jobs and further pressure their profits. You can find the 72-page report online at Farmers Business Network dot com (https://www.farmersbusinessnetwork.com/).

SOURCE: NAFB News Service

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