READ the NAFB’s National Ag News for Friday, August 18th

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READ the NAFB’s National Ag News for Friday, August 18th

Lighthizer: NAFTA Costing Jobs, Failing Americans

At the start of the negotiations of the North American Free Trade Agreement this week, U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer told reports the deal had benefited many Americans, but it had also failed countless others. Lighthizer noted that Canada and Mexico are the largest export markets for U.S. farmers and ranchers, but claims at least 700,000 Americans have lost their jobs due to changing trade flows under the agreement, according to meat industry publication Meatingplace. Lighthozer says: “We cannot ignore the huge trade deficits, the lost manufacturing jobs, the businesses that have closed or moved because of incentives — intended or not — in the current agreement.” Although Americans send billions of dollars in corn, soybeans, and poultry across the borders, trade deficits in other sectors totaled nearly $57 billion in the last year, according to Lighthizer. In the auto sector alone, the United States had a $68 billion deficit with Mexico.

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Dairy Farmers of Canada in Washington, D.C. to Defend Supply Management System

Representatives of a dairy industry group from Canada were visiting Washington, D.C. this week to support the nation’s dairy supply management system. Dairy Farmers of Canada made the visit as negotiations were getting underway on the North American Free Trade Agreement modernization effort between the U.S., Canada and Mexico. The dairy sector is not a part of the current edition of the free-trade agreement, and the dairy group is hoping the status quo will remain. Meanwhile, dairy groups in the United States wants the negotiation effort to address Canada’s dairy supply management system, and open access for more U.S. dairy products into Canada. The first round of NAFTA talks this week were to establish an action plan for future negotiations. Dairy Farmers of Canada says representatives of the group will be present on the ground at all future rounds of the renegotiation effort.

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Roberts: Goal is to Finish Farm Bill This Year

The Chair of the Senate Agriculture Committee is echoing his House of Representatives counterpart, saying the goal is to get the farm bill to the finish line by the end of this year. In his home state this week, Senator Pat Roberts of Kansas told farmers and ranchers that the farm bill process is in “good shape,” according to the High Plains Journal. The current farm bill will expire at the end of September next year. The House and Senate committees on agriculture are both in the process of holding field hearings around the nation to take input on the next farm bill. House Agriculture Committee Chair Mike Conaway of Texas previously said the goal is to have the farm bill finished this year and up for a vote in the House early next year.

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EPA Extends WOTUS Repeal Comment Period

The Environmental Protection Agency has extended the deadline to submit comments on the Waters of the U.S. Rule repeal effort. The EPA announced Thursday that it, along with the Army Corps of Engineers, will accept comment through September 27th. The original deadline for the comment period was set for August 28th. The EPA formally proposed to repeal the rule in late June. The Trump administration plans to separately write a new regulation to replace the rule. Additionally, President Trump signed an executive order in February ordering EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt to consider repealing the rule. Comments on the repeal effort can be submitted online at regulations dot gov (https://www.regulations.gov/).

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GAO Estimates 200,000 Wild Horses Roaming on Federal Lands

A new report by the Government Accountability office estimates that 200,000-some wild horses, burros and mules, are free-roaming on federal and tribal lands. The report released this week also says there could be as many as 9.2 million domesticated horses, burros and mules in the United States. The GAO says there are several challenges in managing the wild herd, including affording care for the animals, finding new homes for unwanted animals, protecting welfare and controlling population growth. Additionally, free-roaming horses, burros and mules could pose unintended environmental impacts to public lands. Farm and land groups such as the American Farm Bureau and Public Lands Council have repeatedly asked lawmakers to address the wild horse population. Last year, AFBF estimated that more than 64,000 wild horses and burros were roaming public lands managed by the Bureau of Land Management in ten western states, with an additional 47,000 residing in government-funded holding facilities at a cost of more than $40 million annually to taxpayers.

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Missouri Again Blocks Multi-State Wind Energy Transmission Line

Missouri regulators have again blocked the Grain Belt Express, a proposed transmission line for wind energy between Kansas and Indiana. Missouri’s Public Service Commission says the project would be in the best interest of the state, but said a recent court decision means each individual county the transmission line would run through must approve the proposal first. The 780-mile transmission line would originate in Kansas, carrying electricity generated by wind turbines through Missouri and Illinois, before stopping in Indiana. The St. Louis Post-Dispatch reports the transmission project would cross eight Missouri counties. Clean Line Energy, the company behind the project, says the decision by the Missouri Public Service Commission “sends a bad signal to the marketplace” of renewable energy. It’s estimated the transmission line would bring 1,500 construction jobs to Missouri, and that 68 cities in the state had agreements to buy power from the project.

SOURCE: NAFB News Service

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