READ the NAFB’s National Ag News for Monday, July 3rd

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READ the NAFB’s National Ag News for Monday, July 3rd

Farm Groups Have Their Say at NAFTA Hearings

Farm groups and Ag organizations spoke their mind during hearings before the International Trade Commission on the upcoming North American Free Trade Agreement negotiations. While they all had different messages, Politico’s Morning Agriculture Report said the overriding theme was a simple one: don’t harm agricultural exports. Each speaker pushed for benefits favorable to their groups while trying to hold onto or increase benefits from the original agreement. Several different commodity groups expressed general support for the agreement, saying it promoted jobs, growth, and productivity in America. Don Shawcroft, President of the Colorado Farm Bureau, told the committee, “NAFTA has facilitated a very significant increase of trade of U.S. agricultural products to Canada and Mexico, more than quadrupling the $8.9 billion in 1993 to $38.1 billion in 2016.” Non-Ag groups spoke before the committee as well. Automakers showed up to express support for the current NAFTA Rules of Origin. The trucking industry pushed to prevent Mexican truckers from driving in the U.S. Politico says most of the supporters were echoing the Chamber of Commerce by saying “do no harm,” a phrase repeated several times over the three days of hearings.

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Groups Celebrate First U.S. Beef to China

In a historic ceremony on Friday, the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association helped welcome the first shipments of American-produced beef into China since 2003. NCBA President Craig Uden joined Ag Secretary Sonny Perdue, U.S. Ambassador Terry Branstad, and Chinese officials at the ceremony in Beijing. The highlight came when Uden and Perdue participated in a “joint cutting of the prime rib.” Uden said restoring American beef access to China has been a top priority for many years. “We are excited to have the opportunity to provide Chinese consumers with safe, tender, and delicious beef once again,” said Uden. NCBA efforts to help restore access to the Chinese market finally paid off this year as U.S. and Chinese negotiators reached an agreement to break the 14-year stalemate. Uden said getting access to the world’s largest market is a step in the right direction. “We still have a lot of work to do, including negotiating a bilateral trade agreement with Japan that puts us on an even ground with competitors,” Uden says, “while also ensuring the NAFTA negotiations don’t mess up the great deal we’ve had with consumers in Canada and Mexico for years.”

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U.S. Swine Herd is Expanding

The June USDA quarterly hog and pigs report showed an expanding U.S. swineherd. As of June 1st, there were 71.7 million hogs and pigs on American farms, up three percent from June of 2016 and the second largest inventory on record ever. National Hog Farmer Dot Com says the industry is in a growth mode, with the question now being how fast will the industry continue to grow. Despite record production for the industry, hog prices are decent, with expectations of an annual average of $15 per head. Iowa State University Livestock Economist Lee Schulz said swine profitability turned positive in June. While industry experts say the forecast is likely to prompt producers to expand the breeding herd, the growth of the breeding herd is at 6.07 million head, only a slight increase from the previous quarter. It’s also a mere two percent increase from 2016. Scott Brown of the University of Missouri Extension Service says the numbers in the breeding herd show stability in the industry.

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NBB Considers Legal Action over Biodiesel Dumping

The National Biodiesel Board says it will consider all possible legal actions as it looks into what it calls a flood of biodiesel entering the country from Argentina. The N.B.B. says new data is out showing subsidized biodiesel imports from Argentina are still continuing to surge, pushing even higher in recent weeks. A June report from a business intelligence company showed biodiesel exports shipped out of Argentina reached a five-month high and all of it went to the United States. Argentina recently reduced and then dropped export taxes on biodiesel, contributing to the surge in shipments to America and making the situation that much harder for American producers. In March, the NBB filed a petition with the U.S. Department of Commerce and the U.S. International Trade Commission because of the rising amount of biodiesel imports. The NBB says in the petitions that higher volumes of subsidized biodiesel from Argentina and Indonesia have taken away market share from American manufacturers and injured domestic producers. Anne Steckel is the NBB Vice President of Federal Affairs and she says they filed the petitions to level the playing field for America’s producers.

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USDA Report Shows Record Soybean Acres

The USDA released it’s June Acreage and Stocks report on Friday, with soybean acres coming in at record levels. Soybean planted area for 2017 is estimated at a record high 89.5 million acres, up 7 percent from last year. Corn planted area for all purposes in 2017 is estimated at 90.9 million acres, down 3 percent from last year. Area harvested for grain, at 83.5 million acres, is down 4 percent from last year. All wheat planted area for 2017 is estimated at 45.7 million acres, down 9 percent from 2016. This represents the lowest all wheat planted area on record since records began in 1919. All cotton planted area for 2017 is estimated at 12.1 million acres, 20 percent above last year. Corn stocks in all positions on June 1, 2017, totaled 5.23 billion bushels, up 11 percent from June 1, 2016. Of the total stocks, 2.84 billion bushels are stored on farms, up 15 percent from a year earlier. Soybeans stored in all positions on June 1, 2017, totaled 963 million bushels, up 11 percent from June 1, 2016. On-farm stocks totaled 333 million bushels, up 18 percent from a year ago. Old crop all wheat stored in all positions on June 1, 2017, totaled 1.18 billion bushels, up 21 percent from a year ago.

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House Subcommittee Limits USDA Cuts to 5 Percent

The House Agriculture Appropriations Subcommittee advanced the fiscal year 2018 spending bill for discretionary programs at USDA and other agencies at just over $20 billion. That’s a $1.1 billion cut from last year’s funding bill and 5.2 percent less than current funding levels. If those numbers hold, USDA would get roughly $876 million less in funding levels compared to the current year. However, that $1.1 billion cut is actually $3.7 billion less than President Trump’s proposed cut to USDA alone. Republican Robert Aderholt of Alabama, the Subcommittee Chair, said he couldn’t go along with the President’s proposal to eliminate several rural development programs. A DTN report says the subcommittee bill also doesn’t go along with the Trump proposal to eliminate as many as 17 USDA Ag Research Facilities across the country. Aderholt says a $1.6 billion funding amount for areas such as the Farm Service Agency and conservation programs will ensure every county FSA office is fully manned.

SOURCE: NAFB News Service

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