READ the NAFB’s National Ag News for Tuesday, September 19th

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READ the NAFB’s National Ag News for Tuesday, September 19th

Mexico Considering Protections in NAFTA

A potential counterproposal by Mexico could limit pork leg imports from the United States under the North American Free Trade Agreement. As renegotiation efforts continue, Mexico may counter a proposal U.S. trade officials are considering that would give seasonal fruit and vegetable farmers added protection, according to Reuters. The U.S. is considering a proposal to protect certain products by making it easier for U.S. seasonal produce growers to launch anti-dumping cases against Mexico. Pork leg exports from the U.S. to Mexico account for the bulk of exports and are used in some of Mexico’s most popular dishes. Some Mexican agricultural leaders have said that dairy and chicken could also be deemed sensitive, though those products have not been mentioned by those included in the trade talks.

Senators Want Action on Brazil Ethanol Tariff

A group of Midwestern Senators is urging U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer to respond to Brazil’s 20 percent ethanol tariff on imports over 600 million liters, or 158 million gallons. Brazil recently reinstated the tariff that will apply to U.S. ethanol exports to Brazil. In 2016, the U.S. exported 264 million gallons of ethanol to Brazil and is poised for an increase this year as the U.S. is the primary ethanol exporter to Brazil. U.S. ethanol producers called Brazil’s tariff plan “a trade barrier that threatens over $750 million in U.S. exports and American jobs.” Led by Iowa Senator Chuck Grassley, a letter asked Lighthizer to “directly engage the Brazilian government and quickly work to resolve” the issue. The letter included Iowa Senator Joni Ernst, Nebraska Senators Deb Fischer and Ben Sasse, Illinois Senators Tammy Duckworth and Dick Durbin, Minnesota Senators Al Franken and Amy Klobuchar, along with Michigan Senator Debbie Stabenow and Indiana Senator Joe Donnelly.

Lighthizer Presses Taiwan on Ag Trade Barriers

Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer highlighted the need to address trade barriers between the U.S. and Taiwan last week. During a meeting with Thailand’s Minister of Commerce, Lighthizer said Thailand needs to address the “longstanding trade barriers,” including those on U.S. meat and other agriculture exports, according to Politico. Total exports of U.S. agricultural products to Thailand totaled $1.6 billion in 2016, the 15th largest agricultural export market. Overall, the United States is Thailand’s third largest source of imports, after China and Japan. Top U.S. ag exports to Thailand include soybeans, cotton, soybean meal, wheat and dried distillers grains. Lighthizer also highlighted the need for progress on customs, goods, worker rights, and other issues discussed during the Trade and Investment Framework Agreement meeting in July.

Egypt Downplaying Wheat Cargo Denials

The world’s largest wheat buyer is backing away from recent comments regarding poppy seeds found in wheat shipments. Egypt has rejected two cargoes of wheat for import after testing found the shipments were contaminated with poppy seeds that Egypt called “drug-producing.” However, the poppy seeds were found to be of non-opium producing kinds, and Egypt now calls them “not very dangerous,” according to U.S. News and World Report. The comments could avert a trade issue between Egypt and wheat suppliers. Egypt is still considering its options on what the nation will do with the contaminated cargoes. Traders are watching closely, and have said that any rejection could lead them to boycott the nation’s massive tenders. In a similar move last year, Egypt temporarily banned any trace of ergot, a common grain fungus, in cargoes. That move halted the country’s billion-dollar grain trade after suppliers said the zero-tolerance level was impossible to guarantee.

Western Growers Hosting AgSharks Competition Next Month

The Western Growers Association’s Foundation will host a Shark Tank TV-like competition during the Association’s annual meeting next month. The competition, sponsored by Seed 2 Growth Ventures, seeks to identify key innovations in the fresh produce industry. Dubbed AgSharks, the event will offer participants the chance to win investments totaling up to $250,000 to support the development and growth of their businesses. Selected entrepreneurs will pitch their ideas to a panel of experts who will decide on the spot whether and how much to invest. The entrepreneurs must then accept the offer, negotiate or decline. Companies interested in participating in AgSharks at Western Growers Annual Meeting can apply online at The competition is planned for October 31st.

Retail Meat Prices Slip Lower in August

Consumer prices for meat decline 0.4 percent in August, compared to figures compiled in July. A monthly report by the Bureau of Labor Statistics shows overall U.S. meat prices for consumers were lower on softer prices for beef roasts and ham. August prices fell 2.1 percent on beef roasts, 1.5 percent on beef steaks and 0.1 percent on ground beef. The decline follows gains of one percent in June and 1.3 percent in July. Bacon went against the downtrend, increasing 3.8 percent in price from July, as did pork chops, with a gain of two percent, according to Meat Industry Publication Meatingplace. Record-high prices on bacon reflect higher wholesale values that were present in the supply chain earlier in the summer. However, those prices have dropped since then.

SOURCE: NAFB News Service