READ the NAFB’s National Ag News for Wednesday, June 7th

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READ the NAFB’s National Ag News for Wednesday, June 7th

U.S., Mexico, Reach Sugar Deal ahead of NAFTA Talks

The United States and Mexico Tuesday agreed to end a dispute regarding the trade of sugar ahead of renegotiations of the North American Free Trade Agreement. NAFTA talks are expected to begin in August, and experts say the sugar agreement shows promise regarding the NAFTA efforts. Under the agreement, Mexico will cut its refined sugar exports to the United States from 53 percent to 30 percent. The deal is designed for Mexico to avoid the imposition of punitive tariffs due to a finding by the U.S. government that Mexico had sent the United States subsidized sugar, and that the sugar was sold at dumped prices, according to the Hagstrom Report. U.S. Grains Council CEO Tom Sleight called the agreement an important milestone as the Grains Council works to “maintain our existing, robust trade of U.S. grains and related products” ahead of the NAFTA talks. Former chairman of the U.S. International Trade Commission, Daniel Pearson, told Reuters if the negotiations “had melted down, the NAFTA conversation would have been more difficult.” USDA Secretary Sonny Perdue said the agreement “sets an important tone of good faith” leading up to NAFTA renegotiations.

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Canada, U.S., Ag Leaders Talk Tade

The top agriculture leaders from the United States and Canada met earlier this week, discussing trade and the renegotiation of the North American Free Trade Agreement. While no negotiations took place during the meeting, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, the pair did lay out concerns on agricultural trade issues, including dairy. U.S. Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue said the two had “very good, very candid discussions” that were “very frank, like family members discussing some things that are not necessarily comfortable.” Perdue said they laid out a “great framework” to begin renegotiating NAFTA. Noting that the U.S. and Canada have one the closest trading relationships in the world, Canada Agriculture Minister Lawrence MacAulay said: “I’m confident that we can reinforce this relationship in a balanced manner, allowing us to boost farmers’ bottom lines and create good, middle-class jobs on both sides of the border.”

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Beef and Pork Exports Moderate in April, Remain Above Year-ago Levels

U.S. red meat exports last month slowed moderately from the pace established in March, but were still significantly higher year-over-year, according to the U.S. Meat Export Federation. Beef exports reached 99,000 metric tons in April, up 13 percent from a year ago, valued at $550.4 million. For January through April, beef exports were up 14 percent in volume and 18 percent in value, at $2.16 billion, compared to the same period last year. Pork exports followed a record-breaking March with a solid April performance, reaching 203,000 metric tons, up eight percent from a year ago, and the largest April volume on record. Export value was up 11 percent to $517 million. For January through April, pork exports increased 15 percent in volume and 19 percent in value at $2.1 billion. USMEF President and CEO Philip Seng cautioned: “While April was a very solid month for U.S. red meat exports, we remain in an extremely competitive situation across the world and must stay aggressive with our marketing efforts.”

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Monthly Farm Economy Survey Holds Steady

A monthly survey on farmers thoughts regarding the farm economy held steady last month. The latest reading of the Purdue/CME Group Ag Economy Barometer, which is based on a monthly survey of 400 agricultural producers from across the country, was 130. The producer sentiment index has hovered near 130 for five of the last six months and remains considerably stronger than both last fall and a year ago. A reading above 100 reflects positive sentiment, while a reading below 100 reflects negative sentiment. Producers’ forward-looking expectations, as measured by the Index of Future Expectations, improved modestly to 136. This was the second month in a row that the index increased. Meanwhile, the Index of Current Conditions fell to 117, a 10-point decline from its April reading. The latest survey also asked farmers about the renegotiation of the North American Free Trade Agreement. Results show 61 percent of respondents thought the outcome of a renegotiated NAFTA agreement would be beneficial for U.S. farmers.

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Farm Bureau Seeks Advancement of EPA Assistant Administrator Nominee

The American Farm Bureau Federation is asking a Senate committee to approve the nomination of Susan Bodine to a top Environmental Protection Agency post. Bodine was nominated last month as Assistant Administrator for the Office of Enforcement and Compliance Assistance at EPA. AFBF President Zippy Duvall penned a letter to Chairman John Barrasso and Ranking Member Tom Carper of the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee seeking the advancement. Duvall praised Bodine for her many years of “fair and effective leadership” in the House of Representatives and Senate, as well as the Bush-era EPA. The Senate committee was expected to consider Bodine’s nomination Wednesday morning. Bodine currently serves as chief counsel for the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee, a position she has held since 2015.

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World Pork Expo Underway in Des Moines, Iowa

The 2017 World Pork Expo is getting underway today (Wednesday) In Des Moines, Iowa. The annual event includes the Pork Checkoff and the National Pork Producers Council, and features thousands of U.S. and global pork producers, industry professionals and industry experts at the Iowa State Fairgrounds. The event offers learning sessions and seminars, a trade show, and a hospitality tent for pork producers. The Pork Academy seminar by the Pork Checkoff offers producers information on the latest technologies and practices. The seminars will be offered Wednesday and Thursday. Learn more about the events and sessions at World Pork Expo this year online at world pork dot org (www.worldpork.org).

SOURCE: NAFB News Service

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