READ the NAFB’s National Ag News for Tuesday, August 29th

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READ the NAFB’s National Ag News for Tuesday, August 29th

Mexico Won’t Negotiate NAFTA Via Twitter

Mexico declared over the weekend the nation would not negotiate the North American Free Trade Agreement via social media. The announcement followed another post on Twitter by President Donald Trump calling NAFTA the “worst deal ever made.” Trump wrote on Twitter that Canada and Mexico were being “very difficult” and suggested he “may have to terminate” the trade agreement. Many dismissed Trump’s latest Twitter barrage as a negotiating ploy in advance of the second round of NAFTA talks, which are scheduled to take place in Mexico City next week, according to the Los Angeles Times. Agriculture is among several industries that benefit from NAFA and have expressed concerns about the prospect of terminating the trade deal.

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Harvey Impact on Texas Agriculture

Hurricane Harvey arrived on the Texas coast as the state’s cotton harvest of an expected bumper crop was getting underway. The Texas cotton harvest is around 10 percent complete, with bales in the field and high storage levels. The storm came at what one cotton gin operator called “the worst possible time.” Southeast Texas agriculture has extensive damage from the storm. However, quantifying the damage will take some time, according to DTN. A Texas A&M AgriLife spokesperson says the storm is still in progress and it’s impossible to evaluate damages. For livestock producers, the state has set up animal supply points and shelters. Key agriculture areas hit by the hurricane could receive more than 40 inches of rain before the storm leaves the area. A DTN meteorologist says the worst of the storm is what comes after landfall, the destructive rainfall, adding: “It will be a top-5 costliest tropical system of all time, and likely the worst flooding event in U.S. history.”

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Harvey Forces Shutdown of Texas Ports, Threatens Others

Two major ports along the Gulf of Mexico in Texas are closed following the flooding and damage from Hurricane Harvey. Ports at the Texas Gulf account for about 24 percent of U.S. wheat exports, three percent of corn shipments and two percent of soybeans. In 2011, the Port of Corpus Christi ranked 13th in the Nation for total waterborne agricultural exports, moving about four million metric tons of cargo. The same year, the Port of Houston ranked sixth in the Nation for total waterborne agricultural exports and ninth for containerized exports, according to data compiled by the U.S. Department of Agriculture. Mike Steenhook of the Soy Transportation Coalition told Bloomberg News that the bigger threat to shipments of corn and soybeans comes from Harvey’s potential impact in Louisiana and the Gulf of Mexico. About 60 percent of American soybean exports depart from the region, as do 59 percent of corn shipments.

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WOTUS Public Meetings Scheduled

The Environmental Protection Agency and the Army Corps of Engineers Monday announced a series of teleconferences regarding the repeal and revision of the Waters of the U.S. rule. Nine of the conferences will focus on a specific sector, including agriculture, conservation, small entities, construction and others. The teleconferences will run throughout the fall on Tuesdays beginning September 19, 2017. The teleconference for agriculture is scheduled for Tuesday, October 17, 2017. Registration information can be found on the EPA website (https://www.epa.gov/wotus-rule/outreach-meetings). The EPA is following an executive order by President Donald Trump in repealing and replacing the WOTUS rule. Earlier this year, EPA administrator Scott Pruitt said the change would offer certainty for agriculture.

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China, India, Call for End of Farm Subsidies by U.S., Others

China and India are calling for an end to farm subsidies by others, including the European Union and the United States. India-based newspaper Live Mint, a collaboration with the Wall Street Journal, reports China and India have jointly proposed the elimination of $160 billion of farm subsidies in the U.S., European Union and other wealthy nations. The move comes months before the World Trade Organization is set for annual ministerial meetings in December. At issue is the Aggregate Measurement of Support, which China and India call the “most trade distorting element in the global trade in agriculture,” referring to allowable domestic support measures.

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Brazil Bank Investor Seeks Removal of JBS CEO

A state development bank in Brazil is seeking to remove JBS SA CEO Wesley Batista following an investigation into a meat inspection corruption scheme. Reuters reports that the BNDES Bank is blaming Batista’s conduct for a 28 percent plunge in the company’s stock this year. A May plea-bargain deal exposed the Batista family’s bribing of politicians. Additionally, an investigation led Brazil to indict 63 people for their role in a corruption scheme within the nation’s Ministry of Agriculture. The charges alleged federal auditors at meat processing facilities took bribes for years in exchange for fraudulent sanitary permits. JBS, which grew through a series of self-financed local takeovers, began leaning heavily on the bank in 2005, when the Batista family pitched bank officials on making the company a dominant global player. The company received more than $3 billion and used the money to buy rivals in the United States and elsewhere over the past decade.

SOURCE: NAFB News Service

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