READ the NAFB’s National Ag News for Wednesday, August 16th

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READ the NAFB’s National Ag News for Wednesday, August 16th

NPPC Wants Pork Trade to Keep Flowing in NAFTA

With the North American Free Trade Agreement renegotiations set to begin on Wednesday, the National Pork Producers’ Council is just one of the many agricultural groups weighing in on the topic. The NPPC is urging the administration to maintain a zero-tariff rate on pork traded in North America. President Trump has made renegotiating NAFTA a priority even before taking office. “Canada and Mexico are top export markets for our pork, so, obviously, we don’t want any disruption in our exports to those countries,” says NPPC President Ken Maschoff (Ma-shoff’), “and we need to keep pork exports flowing.” Like many other agricultural groups, the Pork Producers want to reemphasize to the administration what a boon NAFTA has been for American agriculture. The original agreement first went into effect on January 1, 1994. Since then, U.S. trade north and south of the border has more than tripled. Trade with Canada and Mexico has grown more rapidly than U.S. trade with the rest of the world. Canada is the number two overall market for American agricultural products and Mexico is number three.

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Trump Wants Produce Dumping Protection in NAFTA 2.0

As NAFTA renegotiations begin on Wednesday, U.S. negotiators are planning to introduce a proposal aimed at making it easier for produce growers to bring potential anti-dumping cases against Mexico. Politico’s Morning Ag Report says that’s a move that will make Southeast growers happy, but it could also fuel criticism of the Trump administration’s protectionism. The proposal would make it easier for U.S. fruit and vegetable producers to prove that Mexico is dumping produce into the U.S. at below-market prices. The current rule says U.S. producers need to prove damage by gathering three years of seasonal data. The new U.S. proposal would make it possible to prove dumping cases through using a single season’s worth of data. However, there are groups against the proposed move. Lance Jungemeyer, President of the Fresh Produce Association of America called it a “Pandora’s box.” He says, “If tomato growers in the Carolinas do it (file a dumping complaint), if Florida does it, if New Jersey does it, you’re looking at what could essentially be a year-round tariff.” Jungemeyer’s group represents Mexican growers and advocates for free trade in produce across the Americas.

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Canada Bringing Guarded Optimism to NAFTA Talks

Canada is bringing a mix of optimism and dread at the thought of damaging its most important trading relationship as the North American Free Trade Agreement renegotiations begin this week. The Washington Post reports Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau recently spoke to the National Governors Association conference in July, making a pitch for free trade. Trudeau told the governors, “Free trade has worked,” he said. “It’s working now.” He also made a plea for Americans to stay away from protectionism. “If anything, we’d like thinner trade barriers, not thicker,” he added. Canada seems to think President Donald Trump’s NAFTA concerns are primarily with Mexico. However, Canadian officials are very concerned over U.S. efforts to gain concessions in politically contentious issues like lumber, dairy, and wine. They’re also concerned about America pushing to weaken a trade-dispute mechanism that Canada had to work very hard to get in the first NAFTA agreement. There is also a push among the three countries to modernize the agreement when it comes to trade services and the digital economy. Larry Herman, a Toronto trade lawyer, says Canada should be prepared for tough, difficult, and “rather unpleasant negotiations.”

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Dicamba Damage Reports Still Climbing

A new report issued on Monday shows the dicamba damage footprint is still growing. Both the number of investigations and damaged acres are climbing, especially in the Midwest. Kevin Bradley, a plant science professor at the University of Missouri, compiled the data and it shows complaints of off-site dicamba movement now cover 21 states, stretching from North Dakota to Georgia. Through state departments of agriculture surveys, at least 2,242 official investigations have taken place up through August 10th. Estimates from state weed extension experts show suspected dicamba damage totals 3.1 million acres, an area about the size of Connecticut. The number of investigations across the country has grown exponentially as well. The report issued just three weeks earlier showed 1,411 investigations across roughly 2.5 million acres. Bradley says the ultimate effect any dicamba damage will have on yields and farmer profits will be difficult to guess until harvest time. “In reality, we will likely not know the extent of dicamba damage until the end of the season,” Bradley says.

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25th Annual Farm Journal Crop Tour Starts Next Week

The 25th annual Farm Journal Midwest Crop Tour starts next Monday, August 21st and every year the participants take on the challenging task of guessing the nation’s corn and soybean harvest. Farm fields were impacted by a variety of weather extremes this year, from drought in the Upper Midwest to too much rain in the eastern Corn Belt during the spring. Crop scouts will share their reports daily during the four-day tour. “Our job is to peg potential yield numbers to these really varied conditions we’re seeing out there this summer,” says Chip Flory, Editorial Director for Farm Journal Pro. More than 100 growers, industry experts, and media will scout more than 2,000 fields in seven Midwestern states. The eastern leg of the tour will start scouting in western Ohio before working its way through Indiana, Illinois, eastern Iowa, and southern Minnesota. The western leg begins in southern South Dakota before traveling across eastern Nebraska, western Iowa, and into southern Minnesota. Flory says they’ll pull enough samples to provide accurate data from a large geographical area. “The crop tour doesn’t predict results for individual fields or even a county,” Flory adds, “but we do want to have a good handle on each of the seven states we tour.”

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FDA Relaxes Restrictions on Ultra-Filtered Milk

The Food and Drug Administration is easing its policy on some domestic milk products, making a change the dairy industry has pushed for over the last 20 years. Trade tension with Canada brought the issue to the forefront. Earlier this year, Canada changed policy and stopped importing ultra-filtered milk from the U.S. As a result, many American milk processors were forced to drop their contracts with producers, who then had to scramble to find a new buyer. Before the announcement, UF milk products could only be produced at certain American cheese plants. Now, industry leaders say the relaxed regulations means the product can be taken to multiple plants because it reduces hauling costs and increases cheese production. The FDA released a statement saying it was taking the action because of recent changes in some export markets that have caused an oversupply of dairy products and pricing challenges as a result. The Wisconsin Cheesemakers Association says there’s been an oversupply of milk for over a year and it’s caused real stress among American dairy producers. The announcement comes as the U.S., Canada, and Mexico sit down this week to renegotiate the North American Free Trade Agreement.

SOURCE: NAFB News Service

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