READ the NAFB’s National Ag News for Friday, July 28th

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READ the NAFB’s National Ag News for Friday, July 28th

Exports Slip on NAFTA Uncertainty

A panel of expert witnesses told the House Agriculture Committee this week that speed is a critical factor in renegotiating the North American Free Trade Agreement. The uncertainty over how negotiations may play out is causing some importers to look elsewhere for suppliers. Many of the importers that are looking elsewhere for chicken and grain products are located in Mexico. Those buyers are looking at South America to supply their needs and it shows in America’s export numbers. Corn, sorghum, and barley exports are down seven percent and will only get worse if negotiations drag on for a long period of time. Foreign importers are worried that President Donald Trump will follow through on his threat to pull the U.S. out of NAFTA altogether. “That threat prompted the Mexican government to look to Brazil and Argentina for alternative sources of corn and other grain products,” says Floyd Gaibler (Gayb’-lur), a Director with the U.S. Grains Council. Government and trade sources have told Agri-Pulse that they hope to wrap up negotiations by the end of this year, but that’s not a firm deadline. Ag groups fear exports will fall further if it’s not done by the end of 2017.


EPA Formally Proposes WOTUS Withdrawal

The Environmental Protection Agency and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers will formally propose to withdraw the “Waters of the U.S. Rule,” a controversial Obama-era rule on clean water. This move will mark the end of years of efforts by farm groups to get rid of something they called a burdensome federal overreach. Politico’s Morning Ag Report says the proposed rule to withdraw WOTUS was first revealed back in June, but it hadn’t been noticed in the Federal Register. That formal step kicks off a 30-day public comment period. Critics of the withdrawal have called for more time to weigh in on the matter. The proposed rule to withdraw WOTUS won’t have much of a noticeable effect out in the countryside. WOTUS was only in effect for a short time before the Sixth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals put it on hold. The repeal rule is seen as a possible safety net in the event that the U.S. Supreme Court determines that the Court of Appeals didn’t have jurisdiction over the case and lifts the hold. While the repeal rule keeps the status quo, the Trump Administration will work on its own plan to decide which waters are subject to federal regulation and will reveal the plan in December.


SCN Resistant Soybeans are Showing Some Problems

Iowa State University nematologist Greg Tylka (Till’-kah) says soybeans with Soybean Cyst Nematode resistance are becoming less effective. He calls it an alarming trend that sets the stage for even more yield loss to SCN in the future. Farmers have effectively managed the pest for decades thanks to the built-in resistance. Just about all the SCN-resistant varieties have the same resistance gene. Iowa State researchers analyzed 25 years of data from four-row variety evaluation research plots to look for long term trends. The results show a breakdown in resistance in SCN-resistant soybeans. “In the 1990s, SCN was well controlled by the resistance gene,” says Tylka. “Starting in 2001, we saw a steady decrease in control of SCN in the varieties that had the resistance gene.” He says the buildup in SCN resistance is similar to weeds developing resistance to glyphosate after prolonged use of a single mode of action. The study concludes that resistance issues will worsen if farmers only have the same resistance gene going forward. Tylka adds, “This is a serious situation. SCN has infested 70 percent of Iowa’s soybean fields.”


Drought Still Growing Across the U.S.

The latest Drought Monitor shows soils continuing to dry out and crops suffering as drought and abnormal dryness expands and intensifies across the Plains, Midwest, northern Rockies, and Virginia. Montana saw the most severe level of drought, called exceptional drought, grow by 10 points in a week. 12 percent of the state is in exceptional drought and 24 percent is under extreme conditions. In neighboring North Dakota, eight percent of the state is in exceptional drought. Another 30 percent of the state is in extreme drought. In the Corn Belt, drought conditions have shown up in Iowa. The state’s moderate drought grew to 34 percent. All states east of the Mississippi River are drought free for now, but patches of abnormal dryness mean it could change as early as next week. USDA meteorologist Brad Rippey says drought conditions are intensifying across the central United States. The Corn Belt has seen double-digit percentage increases. Drought coverage is growing around the nation, with the current drought monitor showing over 32 percent of the country in some form of drought.  


China Sets Ban on Australian Beef imports

China has imposed a temporary beef ban on the products from six Australian processors. A Meating Place Dot Com report says the concern is regarding label non-compliance. Australian government officials have confirmed the ban is in place, vowing to work closely with the country’s beef industry and Chinese officials to get the ban resolved. The dispute doesn’t involve food safety concerns or health issues. It stems from non-compliance issues centered on labeling meat from Australian processors that include two facilities owned by JBS of Brazil. Australia’s trade minister says there are significant amounts of beef products involved in the ban, which even includes shipments already in the water and on the way to China. Officials hope the issue can get resolved before those shipments reach Chinese ports. China is currently the fourth-largest beef market for Australia, whose beef exports were worth over $600 million in 2016.


KSU Researchers Looking for New Ways to Preserve Bacon

Kansas State University researchers are looking into the question of whether or not an antioxidant could increase the sizzle in America’s love affair with bacon. Meat scientists have known for a long time that meat doesn’t taste as good the longer it sits, even if it’s in the refrigerator. KSU Meat Scientist Terry Houser says the fat in the meat deteriorates over time, a process called oxidation. It’s caused by exposing the meat product to oxygen. “We know that bacon has a problem with oxidation over time,” Houser says, “so we’re looking at finding an antioxidant that can stabilize the fat.” He says the challenge is to add antioxidants to the frozen products so they last longer and keep the flavor that customers want. The KSU study will focus on adding natural antioxidants found in smoke and plant extracts that could possibly be the most effective in preventing oxidation in bacon. After that, Houser says they’ll work on determining how long the antioxidants work and what are the most optimal concentrations. The university research is funded by the National Pork Board.

SOURCE: NAFB News Service