READ the NAFB’s National Ag News for Wednesday, September 20th

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READ the NAFB’s National Ag News for Wednesday, September 20th

Lighthizer: NAFTA Negotiation at Warp Speed, May Not Be Successful

U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer said this week that negotiations on the North American Free Trade Agreement are moving at “warp speed,” but may lead to no agreement. Lighthizer said: “we don’t know whether we’re going to get to a conclusion. That’s the problem. We’re running very quickly somewhere.” Lighthizer says the U.S. would like to reach an agreement and conclude the negotiations with Canada and Mexico by the end of this year. He refused to answer any questions about whether the administration planned to propose a “sunset” provision to automatically terminate NAFTA after five years, unless countries agree to extend, according to Politico. Lighthizer made the comments during a speech at the Center for Strategic and International Studies. He also commented on China, calling the nation an “unprecedented” threat because of policies that subsidize domestic production, create national champions, force technology transfers and distort markets.

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Ag Exports, Trade Surplus, See Increases

Data from the Department of Agriculture shows exports of farm goods will push higher in 2017. A forecast compiled by USDA predicts the value of agricultural exports in fiscal year 2017 will hit nearly $140 billion, up $10 billion from fiscal year 2016. With stronger exports and modest import increases in 2017, the U.S. will have an agricultural trade surplus of roughly $23 billion compared to $7 billion last year. USDA says the increase reflects the improvement in the global economy, and it represents a lower value for the U.S. dollar to make a better deal for foreign buyers to purchase U.S. agricultural products, according to Farm Journal’s AgWeb. The initial fiscal year 2018 forecast shows exports will reach $139 billion, slightly lower than the current level.

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Bayer Seeking EU Review of Monsanto Deal

Bayer has asked the European Commission to extend its review deadline on its planned takeover of Monsanto. The move by Bayer, according to company officials, seeks to allow more time for Bayer to finalize the agreement. Dow Jones reports that in late June, Bayer filed a submission to obtain antitrust approval for the deal from the European Commission. The Commission initiated an in-depth investigation in August, and Bayer’s application this week requested a ten-working-day extension of the review deadline to January 22, 2018.The company says it requested the extension to facilitate “an appropriate evaluation given the size of the transaction.” Company officials say the deal remains on track to close early next year.

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Beef Cattle Contribute to Sustainable Food System

A recent study by the United Nations’ Food and Agriculture Organization says cattle raised for beef production play a key role in maintaining a sustainable food system. Meat industry publication Meatingplace reports that the research essentially counters claims that beef production consumes too much human-edible feed, finding that cattle are net contributors to the global protein supply, and concludes that “modest yield improvements” can reduce further land expansion for feed production. The research shows that 86 percent of the feed cattle consume is grasses grown on marginal lands, not edible to humans. The study says: “Livestock play, and will continue to play, a critical role in adding value to these residual products, a large share of which could otherwise be an environmental burden.”

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Tyson Reevaluating Planned Facility After Locals Back Away from Incentives

Local officials in Kansas have backed away from an incentives package to bring a Tyson Foods processing facility to the northeast corner of the state. The Leavenworth County, Kansas Commission, voted 2-1 to rescind a previous resolution in favor of issuing $500 million in industrial revenue bonds to help finance the project. The resolution would have made the project eligible for an 80 percent property-tax reduction. The Topeka Capital-Journal reports that the company was disappointed in the County Commission’s decision Monday. The plant would employ roughly 1,600 employees, once completed. But, those plans are now in jeopardy after the county decision, which followed a town hall meeting that persuaded the local officials to oppose the project.

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Pecan Pies at Risk Following Hurricane Irma

Hurricane Irma’s destruction is putting the iconic Thanksgiving pecan pie at risk. The storm ripped through pecan orchards in Georgia, the number one grower of pecans in the nation, just weeks before harvest. The University of Georgia estimated that 30 percent of production may have been lost after high winds sent pods flying off branches and blew down trees. Bloomberg News reports that while pecans are a niche crop, the nuts are often associated with holiday desserts, and they’re among Georgia’s top agricultural commodities. Prices were already at the highest on record, averaging $2.59 a pound in the marketing year that ended in August 2016. Supply damage from Irma could mean even pricier pies for Thanksgiving. Pecan trees can produce for decades and some in the state are 100 years old, but any new trees planted won’t bear a crop for about five to seven years.

SOURCE: NAFB News Service

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