READ the NAFB’s National Ag News for Wednesday, September 6th

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READ the NAFB’s National Ag News for Wednesday, September 6th

NAFTA Round Two Concludes in Mexico City

Round two of the renegotiation talks regarding the North American Free Trade Agreement were largely uneventful, according to those included in the talks. While the U.S. is suggesting a deal can be completed by the end of this year, many see the slow progress as an indication of a much longer negotiation process. Mexico’s top agriculture official told Bloomberg, however, “there is a will of the three countries” to get a deal finished. Dairy Farmers of Canada called a lack of policy proposals from the U.S. “surprising,” making it unbelievable to finish a deal by December. The U.S. took aim at Canada ‘s dairy supply and demand management system over the weekend. While negotiators have made some progress, they have yet to agree on any major contentious issue and are far from a deal on individual NAFTA chapters. Round three of negotiations is scheduled later this month in Canada.

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Ag to Trump: Don’t Mess with KORUS

Agriculture groups responded to President Donald Trump’s comments regarding a free trade agreement with South Korea over the weekend by urging the President not to withdraw from the accord. Trump said the U.S. would consider withdrawing from the U.S.-Korea Free Trade Agreement, known as KORUS. U.S. Wheat Associates chairman Mike Miller says: “it would be irresponsible to unilaterally walk away from this or any other trade agreement.” Korea was the third largest volume importer of U.S. wheat in marketing year 2016/17. The U.S. Grains Council says walking away from KORUS is a “rash move that will harm relationships” at the expense of U.S. farm country. South Korea is the third largest importer of U.S. corn this marketing year, buying 5.3 million metric tons, more than 200 million bushels. Over the weekend President Trump confirmed reports that he was considering formally notifying South Korea as early as this week.

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Lower Commodity Prices Dragging Farm Optimism

Lower commodity prices in August pushed farm economy optimism lower, according to the Purdue-CME Group Ag Economy Barometer released this week. The barometer drifted lower in August to 132 points, down seven points from July, but still stronger than the year ago level of 96. A reading over 100 indicates optimism regarding the farm economy, while a reading below indicates pessimism. Since peaking in January at a reading of 153, monthly barometer readings have ranged from a low of 124 in March to 139 in July. The current conditions index within the barometer drove the monthly decline, which dropped 22 points to 122 as commodity prices dropped lower in August. However, recent declines in commodity prices did not noticeably dampen farmer expectations regarding future economic conditions. Still, approximately six out of 10 respondents indicated that grain-marketing opportunities over the last six months were likely better than the opportunities that will be available in the next six months.

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Trump Announces USDA Nominations over Labor Day Weekend

President Donald Trump over the weekend announced three nominations to the U.S. Department of Agriculture. Trump has nominated current Iowa Agriculture Secretary Bill Northey to serve as the undersecretary for farm production and conservation, a post created by Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue earlier this year. Trump also nominated Nebraska Department of Agriculture Director Greg Ibach (eye-bah) to serve as undersecretary of agriculture for marketing and regulatory programs. Finally, Trump nominated Stephen Vaden to serve as USDA’s general counsel. Vaden has been the acting general counsel at USDA since January. Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue applauded the nominations, and urged the Senate to take up their nominations as quickly as possible.

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EPA Considering Dicamba Limits

The Environmental protection Agency is considering establishing limits to dicamba-based herbicides next year. Agriculture officials from several states that are advising the EPA on dicamba tell Reuters that the EPA is considering banning the use of dicamba after a cutoff date, likely in early 2018. The initiative is similar to rules being considered in Arkansas, which would ban the use of dicamba after April 15th. The cutoff date would aim to protect plants vulnerable to dicamba, after thousands of complaints were filed this year with states over spray drift of dicamba herbicides. State regulators and university specialists from Arkansas, Missouri, Illinois, Iowa and North Dakota are pressuring the EPA to decide soon on rules guiding usage because farmers will make planting decisions for next spring over the next several months.

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HSUS Seeks Cage-free Eggs, Crate-free Pork, in California

The Humane Society of the United States has launched a new initiative to force California farmers to adopt cage-free egg production and gestation crate-free pork production. Last week, HSUS and other groups filed ballot language that would require eggs produced and sold in the state to come from cage-free birds, and that pork sold come from farms that do not use gestation crates, and that veal sold there does not come from farms that use crates. Once the California Secretary of State issues a ballot title and summary, the coalition will attempt to gather the 365,880 signatures required, within 180 days, for placement on the statewide ballot in November 2018.

SOURCE: NAFB News Service

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