READ the NAFB’s National Ag News for Thursday, July 6th

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READ the NAFB’s National Ag News for Thursday, July 6th

Farm Bill Number Crunching

It looks like lawmakers will have $130 billion less to write the upcoming farm bill than they did for the past one. The Congressional Budget Office made that announcement when it published its 10-year baseline projections. The C.B.O. predicts that both farm and nutrition programs would cost roughly $822 billion over the next ten years. That breaks down to $679 billion for the SNAP program and $143 billion for ag programs like crop insurance, commodity subsidies, conservation, and other programs. However, the money lawmakers have available could go even lower if Congress passes a budget resolution. House Budget Committee Chair Diane Black, a Tennessee Republican, along with the House Freedom Caucus, had been asking for massive farm bill spending cuts over the next ten years. House Ag Committee Chair Mike Conaway and Black came to an agreement on a spending number that Conaway says will allow him to write a farm bill. Politico’s Morning Ag Report took a look at costs in the 2014 Farm Bill and found lower numbers than expected. The SNAP program, crop insurance, and conservation programs all cost less than budgeted for, with commodity subsidies the only area that cost more than budgeted for in 2014.

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Farmland Market Trend Hard to Define

The Farmers National Company recently released a semi-annual market update on farmland prices and it’s hard to nail down just what the trend is. A Pro Farmer report says the best description may be “steady, with exceptions.” The report says the reason trends are hard to figure out is some farmland sells at better prices than expected while other farmland shows a price decline from previous selling prices. Ag land values in most areas should be expected to continue gradually declining over the next several years if commodity prices and farm incomes remain bottomed-out. Interest rate increases, small tax law changes, and world economic challenges will likely keep the pressure on farmland prices over the next year.  The report says there are potential positives ahead for farm and ranch incomes in the future. If the stress on land prices slows and there are no other shocks to the market, land values should move to stabilize over the next few years.  

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Specialty Crop Farmers Weigh in on NAFTA  

The House Ag Committee held a 2018 Farm Bill hearing last weekend in Florida. Farm groups and producers attended the session hoping to influence legislators as they put the new bill together. A Pork Network Dot Com article says the top of mind concerns included the farm safety net, agricultural research, and marketing. The upcoming renegotiation of the North American Free Trade Agreement was a big topic as well, especially for the state’s specialty crop producers. Florida Farm Bureau President John Hoblick says other parts of the U.S. have gotten much more benefit than Florida growers when it comes to NAFTA. “Florida has indisputably struggled for market access and international demand,” he said to lawmakers. “We have seen dramatic drops in market share in key Florida specialty crop markets.” He says Florida crops like strawberries, tomatoes, and bell peppers have all been victimized by “prolific Mexican dumping” into the market. Farm labor and the H-2A program also received a lot of attention at the hearing which was held at the University of Florida.

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Copyright Office Wants Congress To Handle “Right to Repair”

A U.S. Copyright Office report says it no longer wants to review exemptions to Section 1201 of the Digital Millenium Copyrights Act every three years. Industry-by-industry reviews have led to a patchwork of exemptions where “some technology repairs and modifications are allowed and some aren’t.” The office wants Congress to pass laws that give consumers a permanent “right-to-repair.” The issue has come up before the office on a much more regular basis, due in part to right-to-repair bills brought before eleven state legislatures. The Copyright Office says Section 1201 was never intended to facilitate manufacturers’ use of software locks to tie up products or to lock consumers into repair services offered by the manufacturer. However, the Equipment Dealers’ Association has a different point of view. “Improper repairs and modifications can void equipment warranties and/or violate applicable safety or environmental laws,” says Natalie Higgins, Vice President of Governmental Affairs and General Counsel for the E.D.A. She adds, “Those are serious concerns for our industry.”

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Global Food Insecurity Expected to Drop

The USDA’s Economic Research Service recently issued a report showing a projected drop in global food insecurity. The drop is expected to be significant over the next decade. The report evaluates the food security status and outlook over the next ten years for 76 low-and-middle-income countries that either were or are still recipients of food aid. Projections show rising incomes and low food prices for many countries in the study, so food security is likely to improve by 2027. The population percentage labeled as ‘food insecure’ is 17 percent this year and is projected to fall to 8.9 percent in 2027. The total number of food-insecure people is expected to decline by 42 percent, leaving 372 million people still short on food. The report also says the intensity of the food insecurity is expected to decline. GDP in Asian countries is projected to grow 6.3 percent per year over the study, with the share of Asia’s population that’s food insecure projected to take the biggest drop of all. The drop will range from 13.5 percent in 2017 to 4.6 percent in ten years.

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Retailers Expect Growth in Precision Farming

The last few years have been a challenge in the precision farming industry. Precision Farming Dealer reports that dealers all over the country have been navigating the instability in commodity prices and cautious buying habits of their customers. The fifth annual Precision Dealers Benchmark Study has a more optimistic tone to it than recent years. Retailers are more optimistic about revenue expectations and business objectives. Dealer responses from 28 states and Canada showed 23 percent of dealers showing growth of eight percent or more, more than doubling the 10 percent of dealers projected a year earlier. On the other end of the spectrum, eight percent of dealers reported revenue dips of eight percent or more. It’s the first time in three years that the percentage of dealers experiencing revenue drops was in single digits. Looking ahead, 59 percent of all dealers forecast at least a two percent gain in revenues this year.  Only 11 percent of dealers in the study are predicting a revenue drop of at least two percent, the lowest number of dealers in the study’s history.

SOURCE: NAFB News Service

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