READ the NAFB’s National Ag News for Wednesday, May 17th

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READ the NAFB’s National Ag News for Wednesday, May 17th

Mexico Rejecting Prospects of New tariffs in NAFTA

Officials from Mexico visiting Washington, D.C. this week are sporting a clear message that a revamped North American Free Trade Agreement will not include any new tariffs or quotas. The group from Mexico hopes to meet with U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer later this week to start the first talks of renegotiation, which they say is expected to happen quickly. Mexico’s Economy Secretary told Politico: “Nobody wants this agreement, this negotiation, to extend for too long because then it will get in the middle of the Mexican presidential election and the U.S. congressional election.” A speedy renegotiation would minimize chances of Mexico from rejecting any agreement, if the negotiators can finish the process by the July 2018 presidential election in Mexico. A graphic by the U.S. Department of Agriculture shows the 1994 NAFTA agreement represented a $4 billion increase in agricultural exports.

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Roberts, Stabenow, Pressing USDA on Canada Dairy Policy

Senate Agriculture Committee leaders want the Department of Agriculture to address a dairy pricing issue between the U.S. and Canada. Senators Pat Roberts and Debbie Stabenow are pressing USDA and the U.S. Trade Representative’s office to provide continued engagement with Canada over its dairy pricing policies that are harmful to U.S. dairy producers. In a letter to Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue and U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer, the Senators say: “The potential for further and greater injury to U.S. producers will only continue to grow if this scheme remains in place.” The Senators also asked USDA and the USTR office to evaluate all tools available to mitigate any damaging effect from the pricing scheme being implemented by Canada.

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Japan Wishes for U.S. to Return to TPP

Japan’s Prime Minister Shinzo Abe (sheen-zoh ah-bay) said this week he hopes the U.S. will rejoin the Trans-Pacific Partnership trade agreement that is worth billions of dollars for U.S. agriculture. Japan is continuing to push to finalize TPP, following Donald Trump removing the U.S. from the agreement. The 11 remaining members have started discussions on how to proceed. Prime Minister Abe told CNBC this week “Japan must now take on a leadership role and bring the talks forward,” because of the U.S. dropout from the agreement. The prime minister added that “momentum” should not be lost, but he left the door open for a U.S. return to the deal. He says: “Since the U.S. understands the importance of having free and fair rules in the trading world, it is our wish that the U.S. will return to TPP.”

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USDA Approves Modifications to Margin Protection Plan of Insurance for Crops

The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Risk Management Agency this week announced greater crop insurance options for farmers against unexpected decreases in their operating margin. Offered through the federal crop insurance program, margin protection insurance for corn, wheat, rice and soybeans will be available in more states and have updates designed to better clarify the real input costs covered beginning in 2018. The RMA is expanding margin protection for corn and soybeans to Illinois, Indiana, Kansas, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, North Dakota, Ohio, South Dakota and Wisconsin. The expansion also includes a harvest price option, which allows farmers to get the greater price so they can rebound faster. Margin protection insurance is privately-developed and first became available in 2016 to provide coverage based on an expected margin, which is the expected area revenue minus the expected area operating costs, for each applicable crop, type and practice. A producer may choose coverage from 70 percent to 95 percent of their expected margin. The last day to purchase a margin protection policy for corn, soybeans, and spring wheat is September 30, 2017.

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National Farmers Union Opposes USDA Reorganization

The National Farmers Union says reorganization of the U.S. Department of Agriculture as proposed last week would “cause harm” to programs that benefit farmers and rural America. In a letter to Congress, Farmers Union President Roger Johnson said underfunding or understaffing or demoting the rural development issue area of USDA would harm rural America. The letter says programs under the rural development portfolio provide critical resources and technical assistance for some of the most underserved communities in the country. The letter also noted the USDA reorganization is the result of a congressional directive included in the 2014 Farm Bill, which instructed USDA to create a new Undersecretary of Trade. Although Congress directed USDA to create a Trade undersecretary, NFU says USDA was under no legal obligation to eliminate any other mission area or undersecretary to accomplish the directive.

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Dairy Industry Launches Marketing Campaign

The dairy industry has launched a multi-year marketing campaign promoting more than just milk. The Innovation Center for U.S. Dairy, in partnership with America’s Dairy Farm Families and Importers, has launched “Undeniably Dairy,” showcasing the “undeniable taste and enjoyment” that comes from dairy products. A marketing executive at Dairy Management Inc. said in a statement that the campaign “is about reestablishing the connection between the enjoyment of the product and the hard work and pride of the people who make it possible.” A preview of the campaign video along with other content can be found at Undeniably Dairy dot org ( www.undeniablydairy.org).

SOURCE: NAFB News Service

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