READ the NAFB’s National Ag News for Wednesday, April 19th

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READ the NAFB’s National Ag News for Wednesday, April 19th

Tax Reform by August Unlikely

Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin (mi-new-chin) says getting tax reform legislation on the President’s desk by August appears unlikely. Mnuchin told the Financial Times this week the tax reform timeline is “highly aggressive to not realistic at this point,” in referring to his prior comments on finishing tax reform by August. He cites health care reforms as the delaying factor, but still expects tax reform to be completed sometime in 2017. Farm groups, including the American Farm Bureau Federation, have testified to Congress on the need to eliminate the estate tax, and have called on Congress to create a simpler tax code for farmers and ranchers. Ag groups are also urging Congress to reduce income tax rates, reduce capital gains taxes and allow for immediate business expensing.

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U.S. Petition Seeks Brazilian Beef Ban

An online petition is seeking a ban on beef imports to the U.S. from Brazil. Posted on the White House’s We the People Website, the petition cites Brazil’s tainted meat scandal in asking the administration to ban “unsafe imports” from Brazil until all beef in the U.S. is sold with a country-of-origin label. Food Safety News reports the petition was filed April 13th with the goal of collecting 100,000 signatures in 30 days to get a response from the Trump White House. The online petition states: “This petition will benefit the largest segment of American agriculture – the U.S. cattle industry, as well as protect American consumers.” The petition is backed by the Ranchers-Cattlemen Action Legal Fund or R-CALF USA. R-CALF has long been a supporter of country-of-origin meat labeling. However, Congress in 2015 voted to take the U.S. COOL law off the books after the World Trade Organization approved retaliations by Mexico and Canada of more than $1 billion as a result of the law.

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63 Indictments in Brazil Tainted Meat Scandal

Brazil has indicted 63 people for their role in a corruption scheme within the nation’s Ministry of Agriculture. Drovers Cattle Network reports the charges allege federal auditors at meat processing facilities took bribes for years in exchange for fraudulent sanitary permits. Suspects in the case are charged with falsifying medical records and certificates, tampering with food products, conspiracy and corruption. Allegations also include selling spoiled meat and injecting water to sell poultry at higher prices. Police also reported that the producers under investigation used chemical ingredients, in quantities far above the legally permitted amount, to “disguise the physical aspect or smell of rotten meat.” Brazil is the world’s largest beef exporter, but after the investigation was announced, the nation saw exports drop to near zero within a week. Most export sales have resumed since. The U.S. Department of Agriculture last month said none of the slaughter or processing facilities implicated in the Brazilian scandal had shipped meat products to the United States. 

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Commerce Department Investing Argentina and Indonesia Biodiesel Imports

The U.S. Commerce Department has launched an antidumping and countervailing duty investigation aimed at biodiesel imports from Argentina and Indonesia. DTN-The Progressive Farmer reports the investigation is in response to a complaint filed by the biodiesel industry in the United States. U.S. biodiesel industry representatives testified to the International Trade Commission last week, saying biodiesel produced in Argentina and Indonesia has been flooding the U.S. market since 2014. The industry claims the subsidized biodiesel from Argentina and Indonesia forced U.S. producers out of their home market. The Commerce Department says there is reason to believe that Argentine and Indonesian biodiesel companies were selling into the U.S. “at less-than-fair value.” The National Biodiesel Board said imports from Argentina and Indonesia increased by more than 460 percent from 2014 to 2016, gaining about 18 percent of U.S. market share during that time.

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2017 Corn Plantings Falling Behind

Wet conditions across the Corn Belt are delaying corn plantings. The Department of Agriculture indicated earlier this week corn plantings have fallen slightly behind the five-year average, and wet weather this week in the Midwest will likely bring further delays. With six percent of total corn acres planted by April 16th, progress fell three percentage points short of the five-year average. Over the next ten days, the National Weather Service’s Climate Prediction Center is predicting normal to cooler temperatures in the Eastern Corn Belt and normal to above average precipitation in all areas of the U.S., except the Southwest. The American Farm Bureau Federation’s new Market Intel website says the potential for additional corn planting delays remain because of the wet forecast. USDA currently projects U.S. farmers to plant four million fewer corn acres in the 2017-18 crop year at 89.9 million acres. AFBF says significant weather complications due to excessive moisture that delay or slow planting could ultimately lead to even fewer corn acres being planted, adding weather will continue to play a critical role in the coming weeks as farmers seek to plant this years’ corn crop.

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More Farmers Considering Drone Use

A new poll finds 21 percent of farmers plan to operate a drone this year. The poll by Farm Journal Media found 21 percent of farmers will operate the drone themselves, while another 12 percent of farmers indicated they would opt for a third-party entity to fly drones. More than 1,000 farmers responded to the poll. 31 percent of respondents say they will keep an open mind about drone use on their operation for 2018. Last August, the Federal Aviation Administration released its final unmanned aircraft rule allowing for the commercial use of drones, including for agricultural purposes. RnR Market Research in April 2016 predicted the agriculture drone market would be worth $3.69 billion by the year 2022. A forecast by the research firm says the market is poised for significant growth over the next few years. The forecast says the use of drones brings transparency to agriculture, along with improved efficiently and higher productivity.

SOURCE: NAFB News Service

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