READ the NAFB’s National Ag News for Friday, April 21st

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READ the NAFB’s National Ag News for Friday, April 21st

Australia and New Zealand Dairy Leaders Would Support U.S. WTO Action on Canada

Dairy industry leaders from Australia and New Zealand say they would support the U.S. in potential World Trade Organization action against Canada. Leaders from both nations say they would support President Donald Trump if he included the WTO in a trade dispute over a milk pricing scheme by Canada that is harming U.S. dairy farmers. U.S. dairy groups say the issue will hurt the entire U.S. dairy industry, and President Trump said in Wisconsin this week that the existing rules were unfair. New Zealand Trade Minister Todd McClay told Reuters in an email his government was assessing the “WTO-consistency” of Canada’s dairy industry policy, and had raised concern with the Canadian government. Malcolm Bailey, chairman of the Dairy Companies Association of New Zealand, said his organization was working with his foreign ministry to gather information for a possible WTO complaint. The dairy industry in the European Union, which has two-thirds of Canada’s cheese import allocation, signed a letter last September along with Australian, New Zealand, U.S. and Mexican peers, demanding the start of a WTO dispute, as well.

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Canada Doubling Down on Dairy Trade Comments

Canada continues to say ‘it’s not our problem’ when asked about dairy trade with the United States. Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau (true-doh) told Bloomberg News Thursday: “It’s not Canada that’s the challenge here.” Trudeau said the U.S. has a large dairy trade surplus with Canada. He stood by his own system, by saying every country subsidizes agriculture, adding: “Let’s not pretend we’re in a global free market when it comes to agriculture.” Canada says the problem is that the U.S. is over producing, rather than the new milk pricing scheme implemented by Canada. The comments were Trudeau’s first response to President Donald Trump’s Wisconsin pledge to press Canada for changes to its dairy system as part of North American Free Trade Agreement talks. The dispute was spurred by changes to Canada’s milk policy that the U.S. claims violate NAFTA. 

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Organic Farms Increasing at Highest Level Since 2008

The number of organic farms in the United States continues to increase, and at a level not seen since 2008. Data by the U.S. Department of Agriculture shows there are now 24,650 certified organic operations in the United States, a 13 percent increase from a year ago. USDA has tracked the number of certified organic operations in the U.S. since 2002. Organic certification is managed through a public-private partnership. USDA accredits and oversees about 80 business and state governments which directly certify organic farms and businesses. USDA also provides educational resources to assist the growing organic market, including interactive videos and fact sheets.

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General Mills Backing Soil Health Partnership

The Soil Health Partnership announced Thursday General Mills has agreed to back the partnerships sustainability efforts. The Soil Health Partnership started as an initiative by the National Corn Growers Association to help farmers achieve better soil health. General Mills chief sustainability officer Jerry Lynch said: “We are grateful to partner with farmers in our supply chain in their ongoing work to build healthy soils, and welcome further collaboration with all interested parties in the value chain.” Nick Goeser (Gay’-zer), NCGA director of soil health and sustainability, says the commitment by General Mills will allow the partnership to expand to new geographies in and out of the Upper Midwest, where efforts have been focused so far. General Mills joins a list of supporters that includes Monsanto, the Walton Family Foundation, the Midwest Row Crop Collaborative and the Natural Resources Conservation Service.

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Walmart Urging Suppliers to Join Greenhouse Gas Reducing Project

Walmart has launched a sustainability platform aimed at reducing greenhouse gas emissions and is calling on its supply chain to join the initiative. Dubbed Project Gigaton, the initiative will provide an emissions reduction toolkit to a broad network of suppliers seeking to eliminate one gigaton of emissions, focusing on areas such as manufacturing, materials and use of products by 2030. The company estimated achieving the goal would be equivalent to taking more than 211 million passenger vehicles off U.S. roads and highways for a year. Meat industry publication Meatingpalce reports the company has identified energy, agriculture, waste, packaging, deforestation and product use and design as the goal areas in which to focus part of the plans climate efforts.

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Idaho Researcher: Farmers Benefit from Drought

A researcher at the University of Idaho says farmers can benefit from droughts. Garth Taylor says droughts can be harsh on the farmers who are directly impacted, but as a whole, farmers benefit from droughts because they reduce production and drive prices higher, according to news organization The Capital Press. Taylor pointed out that during the most recent extended drought period in the United States, the value of crop production in the U.S. set records in 2012 and 2013. He made the comments during a joint meeting of the Western Snow Conference and Weather Modification Association. Taylor told The Capital Press that many farmers are initially shocked when he shares his data with them “but when you explain it to them, they understand.” Taylor adds: “You’ve heard farmers say, gee, if we could just get everybody to reduce potato production 10 percent this year or onion production 20 percent, we’d do all right with prices.” He says when you have good water years, it causes prices to go down because farmers are over-producing.

SOURCE: NAFB News Service

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