READ the NAFB’s National Ag News for Thursday, October 19th

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READ the NAFB’s National Ag News for Thursday, October 19th

Trump Tells EPA to Stand Down on RFS Weakening Proposal

The White House has directed the Environmental Protection Agency to stand down on efforts to weaken the Renewable Fuel Standard. Bloomberg reports the agency was told to abandon two changes that were under consideration: a possible reduction in biodiesel requirements and a proposal to allow exported renewable fuel to count toward domestic quotas. President Donald Trump spoke with Iowa Governor Kim Reynolds Wednesday, who said she thought the “administration was feeling the pressure” from biofuels advocates. EPA administrator Scott Pruitt Tuesday met with a group of senators, led by Iowa’s Chuck Grassley, as the lawmakers claimed they “pushed Pruitt to abandon” the proposals. Iowa’s junior Senator, Joni Ernst, said she would not commit to backing Trump’s EPA air office nominee, the office that oversees the renewable fuel program. Administration officials say the handful of senators blocked the administration by “threatening to hold nominees hostage until they get their way.”

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NAFTA Talks Reach Standstill

Agriculture and other contentious issues proposed by the U.S. during round four of the North American Free Trade Agreement talks has stalled the renegotiation effort. The U.S., Canada and Mexico have now agreed to extend the talks into 2018, failing to meet the Trump Administration’s goal to conclude the talks by the end of this year. The move comes as U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer has confirmed the U.S. will table its dairy proposal, for now. The proposal seeks to end Canada’s dairy supply management program, a “non-starter” for Canada. Lighthizer has also tabled a proposal related to produce exports, opposed by Mexico. Negotiators say the longer timeline allows for them to “dig in” to the tough issues, and pledge to continue to work out a deal, while acknowledging that strong differences remain. The next round of talks is scheduled for November 17th in Mexico.

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TPP Members Nearing Agreement

As the U.S. remains focused on reworking the North American Free Trade Agreement, and to a lesser extent, the U.S.-Korea Free Trade Agreement, the Trans-Pacific Partnership is heading closer to reality. TPP was worth an estimated $4 billion annually to U.S. agriculture. However, upon taking office ten months ago, President Donald Trump withdrew the U.S. from the massive trade agreement. Now, CNBC reports the 11 remaining partners included in the agreement could finalize the accord without the U.S. next month. A trade policy expert at the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation says there is “reasonable chance” the 11 nations will finalize the agreement. The effort is being led by Japan. The original framework, which included the U.S., required formal consent by six nations that account for 85 percent of members’ combined gross domestic product. Without the U.S., that condition now needs changing. However, even if a change is finalized, allowing TPP to move forward, trade experts expect the deal won’t be in place for at least another year.

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Report Shows Uncertainty Harming Farmers

Trade and regulatory uncertainty is hampering U.S. Farmers. The Global Harvest Initiative released its 2017 GAP reports, or Global Productivity Report. The report shows that for the fourth straight year, global agricultural productivity growth is not accelerating fast enough to sustainably feed the world in 2050. Meanwhile, the report says uncertainty about trade opportunities and regulations complicates planning for U.S. farmers and industry. The study says global agricultural productivity must increase by 1.75 percent annually to meet the demands of nearly 10 billion people in 2050. The annual assessment of global productivity growth, the GAP Index, shows the current rate of growth is only 1.66 percent, globally. The report was announced Wednesday during an event in Des Moines, Iowa. Find the report online at http://www.globalharvestinitiative.org/​.

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U.S. Wheat Closing Cairo Office

U.S. Wheat Associates announced it would close its office located in Cairo, Egypt in December. U.S. Wheat President Vince Peterson called the decision “difficult.” However, he said the organization saw a need to begin adjusting its activities in the Middle East and North Africa several years ago as the supply of significantly lower-priced wheat from Russia increased. The organization previously eliminated a Cairo-based marketing position in 2014. Peterson noted that U.S. Wheat would continue to provide trade service to government wheat buyers in Egypt, Iraq, Saudi Arabia and other countries in the region on a targeted basis. U.S. Wheat is the export market development organization for the U.S. wheat industry with funding from 17 state wheat commissions and USDA’s Foreign Agricultural Service.

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Deere Wins Trademark Lawsuit

A U.S. District Court in Kentucky ruled in favor of Deere and Company in a trademark lawsuit. The lawsuit was filed by Deere to protect the use of the trademark green and yellow color combination on John Deere agricultural equipment. Following a one-week trial held in June, the court recently announced it had ruled in favor of Deere. The court decision permanently bans the use of the John Deere colors by FIMCO, Inc., a South Dakota company that manufactures and markets agricultural sprayers under the “Ag Spray Equipment” brand name. Deere said the lawsuit is part of an ongoing effort to protect the company’s trademarks and intellectual property. Deere also claimed that use of the colors by another manufacturer confuses the public as to where the product originated and dilutes the value of the John Deere brand.

SOURCE: NAFB News Service

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