READ the NAFB’s National Ag News for Monday, October 16th

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READ the NAFB’s National Ag News for Monday, October 16th

U.S., Japan, Planning Another Trade Meeting

Vice President Mike Pence is meeting with Japan Monday in Washington. D.C. to talk trade. Politico reports that Pence and Japan’s Deputy Prime Minister will meet for the second round of the U.S.-Japan economic dialogue launched by the Trump administration in the wake of Trump’s decision to pull out of the Trans-Pacific Partnership. Japan is expected to propose to change its safeguard mechanism on frozen U.S. beef imports to shorten review periods and allow importers to voluntarily lower import volumes to prevent tariffs from automatically kicking in. Japan is currently the fourth largest goods trading partner with the U.S., according to the U.S. Trade Representative’s Office. U.S. total exports of agricultural products to Japan totaled $11 billion in 2016. Leading domestic export categories include corn, valued at $2.1 billion, pork products, valued at $1.6 billion, beef products, valued at $1.5 billion, and soybeans, valued at $1 billion.

Business Leaders Push to Keep KORUS in Tact

Business leaders from the U.S. and Korea are pressing South Korea and the United States to “eliminate the uncertainty” around the U.S.-Korea Free Trade Agreement, known as KORUS. The U.S.-Korea Business Council, along with the Korea-U.S. Business Council, issued a joint statement, calling KORUS “a platform to expand bilateral trade.” President Donald Trump has threatened to withdraw the U.S. from the agreement and Korea has agreed to a renegotiation effort by the Trump administration. However, the two business councils, led by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, expressed concern with the discussions, and the “limited consultation with the business community.” The statement points out the benefits of KORUS to the U.S., noting that Korean tariffs have been reduced or eliminated. U.S. exports of agricultural products such as beef and pork have increased because of the trade agreement.

EPA Announces Dicamba Label Changes

The Environmental Protection Agency Friday announced new restrictions for dicamba-based herbicides, classifying dicamba as a restricted-use product. The EPA said that only certified pesticide applicators, or people under their supervision, will be allowed to spray dicamba. The EPA also is reducing the maximum wind speed and the hours during each day when dicamba may be sprayed, and will require farmers to keep records proving they’re complying with the product label, according to Reuters. Monsanto says the EPA decision will “ensure farmers have even more success” with dicamba-based herbicides, such as Monsanto’s Roundup Ready Xtend Crop System. Thousands of complaints during this growing season, and many last year, of dicamba drifting to neighboring fields not tolerant to the herbicide, prompted the announcement by the EPA.

BASF to Acquire Bayer’s Crop Science Unit

BASF has signed an agreement to purchase Bayer’s Crop Science business for $7 billion. BASF is purchasing Bayer seeds for mainstay crops including cotton and soybean, plus the herbicide brand Liberty. The move by Bayer is part of its agreement to purchase Monsanto. The transaction is subject to regulatory approvals as well as the successful closing of Bayer’s acquisition of Monsanto. A global analyst told Bloomberg that BASF “needed to buy a seeds business,” saying the industry business model is shifting toward chemical and seeds businesses being sold together. The transaction includes the transfer of intellectual property and facilities, as well as more than 1,800 employees primarily in the United States, Germany, Brazil, Canada and Belgium. As part of the agreement, BASF has committed to maintaining all permanent positions, under similar conditions, for at least three years after closing of the transaction.

Barges Stalled on Ohio River

Another lock and dam closure along the Ohio river stalled more than 500 barges waiting to pass through. The Waterways Council said late last week the issue was related to rising river conditions, which boosted water levels above maximum operating limits. However, water levels were expected to fall back below the maximum locking stage by the start of this week. The closure is the second at lock and dam 52, which closed last month to replace wooden wickets. Another lock was closed last month because the gates could not close properly. River levels have changed over the last week. However, this harvest season, basis levels for grain have dropped along river markets that ship the crops from the Midwest to New Orleans for export. That’s because water levels across the waterways system have been low, and lock and dam failures are slowing barge traffic.

Tractor Sales Fall in September

Overall sales of tractors were lower in September compared to last year. The Association of Equipment Manufacturer’s monthly report on equipment sales found the sale of all tractors in the U.S. in September 2017, were down 10 percent compared to the same month last year. For the nine months in 2017, a total of 168,600 tractors were sold, which compares to 163,160 sold thru September 2016, representing a three percent increase for the year. For the month, two-wheel drive smaller tractors, under 40 horsepower, were down nine percent from last year, while 40 and under 100 horsepower sales were down eight percent. Sales of two-wheel drive 100-plus horsepower tractors were down 25 percent, while four-wheel drive tractors were up 25 percent. Meanwhile, combine sales were up six percent for the month. Sales of combines for the year total roughly 2,900 a four percent decrease from 2016.

SOURCE: NAFB News Service