READ the NAFB’s National Ag News for Tuesday, August 15th

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READ the NAFB’s National Ag News for Tuesday, August 15th

Canada Plans to Protect its Dairy System in New NAFTA

Canada plans to protect its dairy system under a new North American Free Trade Agreement. As the first round of talks get underway Wednesday, Canada officials say they will protect the nation’s system of tariffs and quotas that keep domestic dairy prices high and imports low. U.S. dairy farmers strongly dislike the system and want it dismantled. Canada’s Foreign Minister Chrystia Freeland laid out the nation’s goals for NAFTA during a speech Monday. She also suggested that Canada could walk away from the talks if the U.S. pushed to remove a key dispute-settlement mechanism in the trade deal, according to Reuters. Canada opposes Washington’s plan to scrap the so-called Chapter 19 dispute settlement mechanism, under which binational panels made binding decisions on complaints about illegal subsidies and dumping. The United States has frequently lost such cases.

Wall Street Journal Names Agriculture a NAFTA Issue to Watch

With the first round of negotiations on the North American Free Trade Agreement set for Wednesday, the Wall Street Journal listed agriculture as an issue to watch throughout the negotiation process. Noting that corn, beef and pork producers are happy with the current NAFTA, The Wall Street Journal points out that disagreements over agriculture can quickly turn bitter in trade talks. When President Trump threatened to withdraw from NAFTA, some Mexican politicians warned that their nation could import corn from other Latin American nations instead of the U.S. Meanwhile, Labor, trade deficits, rules of origin, currency manipulation and immigration also top the list of issues to watch during the renegotiation.

U.S. Beef Struggling China

U.S. beef products are struggling to gain traction following a return to China after a 14-year ban. Bloomberg reports that U.S. cuts of beef are largely unnoticeable in China’s meat isles. China, the world’s largest pork producer and consumer, has seen beef demand climb as incomes increase, prompting people to spend on new and varied types of food. Imports are predicted to climb to 950,000 metric tons this year from 26,000 tons in 2003, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture. However, out of 600,000 head of cattle slaughtered in the U.S. each week, only about 1,600 can meet Chinese specifications. Currently, what’s being exported to China is processed into small strips for stir-fry dishes. A Rabobank analyst says U.S. beef trade with China will grow gradually, but adds it doesn’t’ seem likely trade will increase “to the extent that would affect China’s beef market, because of its limited supply.”

U.S. Feed Grain and Ethanol Exports Up

Feed grain exports from the U.S. are up 20 percent this year and could set a record high, according to the U.S. Grains Council. Exports of U.S. feed grains in all forms were up 20 percent year-over-year from September through June to 96.9 million metric tons, according to data from the U.S. Department of Agriculture. The U.S. Grains Council says the new record could be achieved by the end of this marketing year thanks to attractive prices. Meanwhile, U.S. ethanol exports have already reached a new all-time high at 1.15 billion gallons this marketing year. Exports of U.S. ethanol to Canada, a key partner through the North American Free Trade Agreement, also increased to 263 million gallons, a five percent growth compared to the same time the year prior. And India set a record for U.S. ethanol purchases, more than doubling year-over-year to 116 million gallons. Exports of U.S. corn increased 36 percent year-over-year to 49.9 million tons, already exceeding export totals for the last five marketing years.

DuPont to Purchase Granular Inc.

DuPont last week announced that it would buy Granular Inc. for $300 million. The software company provides software management that helps the business side of farm operations, and both parties expect to close the acquisition at the end of the third quarter of this year. The acquisition gives DuPont ownership of Granular’s Farm Management Software and AcreValue website that together serves 250 farms on two million acres in the U.S., as well as farms in Canada and Australia, according to Farm Journals AgWeb. Granular’s current CEO and founder Sid Gorham will lead digital agriculture at DuPont. Granular will keep its offices in San Francisco and Champaign-Urbana, Illinois. DuPont will also leverage Granular’s existing partnerships with other agricultural companies.

Kid Rock Potential Stabenow Challenger

Ranking member of the Senate Agriculture Committee, Michigan Democrat Debbie Stabenow, may have a challenger in entertainer Kid Rock in the upcoming 2018 election. Kid Rock, whose real name is Robert Ritchie, has not declared his candidacy, and many still consider the move a mere publicity stunt. However, as Politico points out, a recent poll conducted last month shows Kid Rock trailing Stabenow by eight points, what some call “a good start.” The Senate Leadership Fund, a super PAC formed during the 2016 election that has Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell’s backing, expressed support Friday for a potential Kid Rock candidacy in 2018. Steven Law, the group’s president, said on C-SPAN: “We’d be actually very interested in his candidacy.” Politico says, if Kid Rock moves forward with a campaign, he would bring a Trump-like element to the race for the Michigan Senate seat. Stabenow also served as the Senate Agriculture Committee chair from 2011 to 2015.

SOURCE: NAFB News Service