READ the NAFB’s National Ag News for Thursday, June 1st

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READ the NAFB’s National Ag News for Thursday, June 1st

Midwest Railroad Watching NAFTA Talks Closely

A railroad company that exports U.S. agricultural products to Mexico is closely watching the North American Free Trade Agreement renegotiation effort. Kansas City Southern Railway Company CEO Pat Ottensmeyer told KMBC-TV in Kansas City, Missouri: “We once branded ourselves the NAFTA railroad.” Since NAFTA took effect, the railway has grown to send 40 percent of its business to Mexico. The CEO says a strong agriculture industry would rally the railway through any NAFTA uncertainty. Agriculture exports have grown 330 percent since 1993. Ottensmeyer is part of the U.S.-Mexico CEO Dialogue Group formed in 2013, a private sector voice on trade and economic issues when negotiations happen between the two countries. While President Trump plans to renegotiate NAFTA and has threatened to end the agreement, Ottennsmeyer says as time goes on, he gets “more and more confident that there is going to be a reasonable resolution” to the NAFTA discussions.” The company says it would be extremely difficult for the President to remove the United States from NAFTA, without the approval of Mexico and Canada, adding that any taxes or tariffs would also have to go through Congress.

Equipment Sales Show Ag Optimism Tied to Policy Promises

A new industry report suggests improvements in optimism in agriculture is fueled by discussions over federal tax and regulatory reform. Farm Policy Facts reports policy experts are hopeful the momentum will continue, especially if Congress makes sound decisions regarding farm policy, which provides a foundation for the rural economy. Agricultural equipment sales have increased for six straight months, and the outlook for future sales is promising, according to the Association of Equipment Manufacturers. Former House Agriculture Committee Chairman Larry Combest says one of the best ways to help all growers turn the tide is by combining legislative certainty on the farm policy front with lower taxes and continued reductions in regulatory burdens. Combest says: “We need stronger policies right now, not weaker ones, and if lawmakers can provide that kind of certainty, farmers are poised for a comeback.”

Ag Groups Seek Truck Weight Limits Increase

A coalition of agriculture groups has asked Congress to include language in an appropriations bill to allow ten states to increase commercial truck weight limits. The coalition is asking Congress to allow the states to engage in a pilot program to obtain information on the safety and environmental benefits of increasing the maximum commercial truck weight on interstate highways. In a letter sent to leaders of the House Appropriations Committee, the coalition noted that it’s been 35 years since the government last updated the gross vehicle weight limit of 80,000 pounds on federal interstate highways. Meanwhile, all 50 states have passed exceptions allowing trucks greater than the weight limit to operate on local roads. Also, more than 30 states have higher limits on their portions of interstate highways. Under the pilot program, ten states could opt-in to allow 91,000-pound, six-axle, bridge formula-compliant trucks on federal interstate highways within their borders, and collect additional safety data regarding the gross vehicle weight and axle configurations of commercial trucks involved in serious accidents.

Ractopamine Found in Pork Shipment from Canada to China

A shipment of pigs’ feet to China from Canada was flagged for containing ractopamine. Ractopamine is a banned growth drug by China and may impact future exports by Canada. China views the tainted shipment as a “systemic failure” of Canada’s program that certifies pork sent to China is free of ractopamine, and the situation “could affect future pork exports,” as reported by Reuters. The Canadian Food Inspection Agency has temporarily stopped signing certificates that allow the meatpacker in question to export to China and has asked for any other shipments that may be in transit to be sent back to Canada. China, the world’s biggest pork consumer, is one of Canada’s biggest pork markets, importing 314,000 metric tons of pork last year. The last time China detected ractopamine in a Canadian pork shipment, in 2015, it removed several Canadian processing plants from its list of eligible exporters to China.

Four New PEDV Cases Confirmed in Manitoba

Agriculture officials in Canada announced four new cases of Porcine Epidemic Diarrhea Virus, or PEDV, bringing the total number of cases to nine confirmed cases since the beginning of May. National Hog Farmer magazine reports Manitoba Pork, the provinces pork association, will hold a telephone town hall for producers Friday to discuss biosecurity protocols aimed at preventing the spread of the virus. Federal agriculture officials are investing the confirmed cases. The two latest farms where the virus was confirmed are located in southeast Manitoba, nearby other farms with the virus. Meanwhile, Ontario reached 100 PEDV cases this spring, while over 3,000 sites in the United States have tested positive for the virus between June 5, 2014, and April 27, 2017, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

Maryland Joins California in Banning Routine Antibiotics Use in Livestock

A bill passed by Maryland’s legislature makes the state the nation’s second to ban routine use of antibiotics in livestock. Meat industry publication Meatingplace reports the Keep Antibiotics Effective Act prohibits administration of antimicrobial drugs to cattle, swine and poultry that are not sick, a practice public health experts say can fuel the spread of drug-resistant bacteria. The law passed without the state’s governor’s signature and will go into effect on January first. The laws in Maryland and California go beyond U.S. Food and Drug Administration guidelines, which prohibit the use of antibiotics for growth promotion in animals. In 2015, Maryland ranked ninth among states in the number of broilers, or chickens raised for their meat, with 303 million birds produced, according to the Maryland Department of Agriculture. The state was also home to some 190,000 head of cattle, and more than 45,000 hogs and pigs.

SOURCE: NAFB News Service