READ the NAFB’s National Ag News for Wednesday, August 23rd

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READ the NAFB’s National Ag News for Wednesday, August 23rd

USDA Launches Animal Welfare Database

The Department of Agriculture’s Animal Plant Health Inspection Service has launched what it calls a “refined public search tool” offering access to compliance records for the Animal Welfare Act. Last year, APHIS formally initiated a comprehensive review and update of the Animal Care website. Meat industry publication Meatingplace reports the agency also hoped to balance its commitment to transparency with applicable laws, including rules protecting personal privacy. APHIS removed the Animal Care Information System search tool in February for review, and began posting inspection reports on a rolling basis in February, March, April and June of this year. A group of animal activists sued USDA and APHIS earlier this year over the removal of thousands of documents during the review period. The agency says that it is continuing to review animal inventories that accompany inspection reports for accuracy. For thatreason, the newly posted inspection reports do not include animal inventories, but APHIS intends to make this information available in the future.

U.S. Moving Forward with WTO China Grains Case

The United States is moving forward with a World Trade Organization case against China regarding tariff-rate quotas for agricultural products. The WTO said this week that the U.S. is requesting that the WTO set up a panel to investigate the tariff-rate quotas, a move that Reuters says sets up a showdown between the two largest economies in the world. The tariff-rate quotas at question include tariffs for wheat, rice and corn. The request was initiated by the Obama administration last year, and the Trump administration is moving forward with the format request. The U.S. Trade representative’s office last year said global prices for the three commodities were lower than China’s domestic prices, yet the country did not maximize its use of the tariff-rate quotas, which offer lower duties on a certain volume of imported grains every year. USTR said the lack of action by China limited market access for shipments from the United States, the world’s largest grain exporter, and other countries. Since then, Australia, the European Union, Canada and Thailand have joined the dispute as third parties. The WTO Dispute Settlement Body will consider the request during a meeting August 31st.

Wheat Growers Say NAFTA Can be Improved

The National Association of Wheat Growers says the North American Free Trade Agreement can be improved to benefit U.S. wheat farmers. While stressing the ag industry line of “do no harm” to agricultural trade, the Association says there are some areas where the framework for wheat trade between the three countries can be improved. Association CEO Chandler Goule (gool) says those areas include sanitary and phytosanitary rules that the three countries already agreed to as part of the Trans-Pacific Partnership negotiations. Goule also points to Canada’s grading system for U.S. wheat, stating: “Canadian wheat can freely enter U.S. elevators and receive a grade equal to its quality while U.S. wheat brought to Canadian elevators is automatically downgraded to a ‘feed wheat’ grade or the equivalent.” NAFTA negotiations started last week in Washington, D.C., and will continue next month in Mexico.


Groups See Pruitt NCBA Video Biased Against WOTUS

Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Scott Pruitt’s appearance in a video with the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association is drawing criticism from critics and so-called government ethics experts. The Cattle Network reports that critics say Pruitt inaccurately uses industry talking points to describe the EPA’s Waters of the U.S. rule, and that his comments sound as if he has already made up his mind about WOTUS, regardless of the comments posted to EPA’s website. In the video, NCBA suggests that viewers take action and “tell EPA to kill WOTUS,” offering a link to provide comment to the EPA. An administrative law specialist at the American University’s Washington College of Law says Pruitt’s appearance in the video makes the rulemaking process and the EPA seem like “it is not really open-minded and that public participation doesn’t really matter.” Critics also note that during a visit to Iowa last month, Pruitt was photographed holding a sign that says, “It’s time to Ditch the Rule,” with those photos posted to social media.

ISU Study Shows No Impact of RFS on Greenhouse Gasses

A study by Iowa State University says the Renewable Fuel Standard brings a net positive to the U.S. economy but fails to reduce greenhouse gas emissions globally. The study, produced in June, was released by the Renewable Fuels Association recently, highlighting the net positive to the U.S. economy. Iowa State University’s Center for Agriculture and Rural Development developed the study that found the increased cost of soybeans and corn benefits the agriculture sector and creates broader welfare gains for the U.S. However, the study found that the direct reduction from substituting biofuels for fossil fuels was outweighed elsewhere. The study found that increasing biofuels in the fossil fuel mix reduced carbon emissions in the U.S. by about 29 million tons of carbon dioxide equivalent under the 2015 baseline, but that was more than offset by increased emissions in the rest of the world.

Farm Computer Ownership Report Released by USDA

A report by the Department of Agriculture shows farm access to the internet is increasing. The 2017 USDA Farm Computer Usage and Ownership report shows that nationally, 73 percent of farms have computer access. Of those farmers having computer access, 72 percent, up one percent from 2015, own or lease a computer. To connect to the internet, eight percent of farmers indicated they use fiber-optic connections, while 17 percent indicated they used mobile internet service for cell phones. However, DSL connection continues to be the most common method of accessing the Internet, with 29 percent of the farms in the United States using it, down from 30 percent in 2015. A satellite connection, at 21 percent, remained steady from 2015. Computer usage for farm business at 47 percent nationally, is up four percentage points from 2015. However, the report does show that bigger farms are more likely to have internet access, than smaller farms.

SOURCE: NAFB News Service