READ the NAFB’s National Ag News for Monday, September 18th

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READ the NAFB’s National Ag News for Monday, September 18th

Japan Interested in Multi-nation Trade Agreements, Not Bilateral Trade

Leaders from Japan told a Nebraska trade delegation last week that Japan is not interested in a bilateral trade agreement with the United States. Instead, Japan told Nebraska Governor Pete Ricketts that the nation is holding out for the U.S. to rejoin the Trans-Pacific Partnership, according to the Omaha World-Herald. Ricketts says he is pressing U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer to negotiate new agreements between the U.S. and Japan, and encouraged Japan to engage with the U.S. in those talks. President Donald Trump removed the U.S. from the TPP agreement upon taking office earlier this year. TPP was worth an estimated $4 billion to U.S. agriculture. Nebraska Farm Bureau President Steve Nelson, who is also on the trip, says they are hopeful that Vice President Mike Pence will make progress on the issue during talks planned for October.

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Farm Bill This Fall “High Hurdle” for Senate

Getting the farm bill done this fall is a “high hurdle,” according to Senate Agriculture Committee Chairman Pat Roberts. The Kansas Republican told reporters last week it would be easier to write a bill once a budget is in place, noting that the Senate Budget Committee has said the Senate would have a budget this year. Roberts did note that Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has agreed it would be better to pass a farm bill “sooner rather than later,” according to the Hagstrom Report. Roberts added that he and Senate Agriculture Committee ranking member Debbie Stabenow “are a team,” and that the committee had marked up a bill quickly in 2014 and could do it again. At the beginning of August, House Agriculture Committee Chairman Mike Conaway said work on the 2018 Farm Bill would start within the next eight weeks, making House work on the Farm bill just two weeks away.

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Ag Organizations Support Northey, Ibach Nominations

More than 20 agriculture organizations recently sent a letter to the Senate Agriculture Committee expressing support for Department of Agriculture Nominees Bill Northey and Greg Ibach (eye-bah). The letter, initiated by the National Association of Wheat Growers, urged the committee to advance the nominations to the full Senate for consideration. President Donald Trump has nominated Northey, the current Iowa Secretary of Agriculture, to serve as the USDA Undersecretary for Farm Production and Conservation. Trump also nominated Nebraska Department of Agriculture Director Ibach to serve as the USDA Undersecretary of Agriculture for Marketing and Regulatory Programs. The letter, sent to Senate Agriculture Committee Chairman Pat Roberts and Ranking Democrat Debbie Stabenow, calls both a “worthy candidate” for the nominated positions.

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Forrest Fire Fighting Costs $2 Billion

Wildfire suppression for the fiscal year 2017 will cost the U.S. Forest Service more than $2 billion, the most expensive year on record. Wildfires have ravaged states in the west, Pacific Northwest, and Northern Rockies regions this summer.  Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue called on Congress last week to fix the way the agency’s fire suppression efforts are funded. The Department of Agriculture overseas the U.S. Forest Service. Perdue says spending on fire suppression in recent years has gone from 15 percent of the budget to 55 percent. He says the budget takes away from fire prevention funds, leading to more severe wildfires. Continuous fire activity and the extended length of the fire season is driving costs. At the peak of the Western fire season, there were three times as many uncontained large fires on the landscape as compared to the five-year average, and almost three times as many personnel assigned to fires.

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China Poultry Safety Standard Similar to U.S.

The Department of Agriculture last week quietly released an audit report of China’s inspection system for poultry processing. The audit says China’s system is equivalent to U.S. systems and standards. The Food Safety and Inspection Service performed the audit last year. USDA released the report one month after the comment period closed on a proposed rule that will allow China to not only process and package cooked chicken, but to export the chickens, ducks and turkeys it raises. Food Safety News reports that when USDA pulls the trigger on the new rule, the $30 billion American poultry market will be open to the world’s second-largest poultry producer. However, the Center for Foodborne Illness Research & Prevention says the audit was not in-depth, and is opposed to allowing Chinese poultry in the U.S. CFI attributes its opposition to China’s “questionable food safety record and its lack of rigorous on-farm management practices.”

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Farm Aid Concert Served Certified Humane Meats

Willie Nelson’s Farm Aid annual concert over the weekend in Pennsylvania served Certified Humane meats as part of its “Homegrown Concessions. Niman (Nye-man) Ranch partnered with Legends Hospitality to feature “foods sourced from family farms committed to sustainability and offering a fair price to growers,” according to organizers. Meat industry publication Meatingplace reports that Niman Ranch Certified Humane meats will be served at 34 Live Nation events across the country, including Farm Aid. Niman Ranch says it represents more than 720 independent family farmers and ranchers who raise livestock traditionally, humanely and sustainably. All Niman Ranch pork, beef, lamb and prepared products are certified under the Certified Humane program.

SOURCE: NAFB News Service

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