READ the NAFB’s National Ag News for Wednesday, December 13th

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READ the NAFB’s National Ag News for Wednesday, December 13th

McKinney: Farmers Need NAFTA Backup Plan

Farmers need a backup plan if the U.S. exits the North American Free Trade Agreement, according to a top Department of Agriculture official. Ted McKinney, USDA undersecretary for trade and foreign agricultural affairs, told that he “would advise anybody to be prepared with contingencies,” despite the administration knowing “very well where the farm and ag industries stand.” The ongoing talks to renegotiate NAFTA aren’t going as well as hoped, and McKinney says abandoning the trade agreement still seems to be a real possibility. While McKinney says he and others within the Agriculture Department are optimistic that the Trump administration will successfully “carry the day” during the negotiations, he says it would be prudent for crop and livestock producers to look at some contingencies in the event the U.S. were to exit the 23-year-old trade agreement.

Chairman Roberts: “Trade Is More Than a Product Crossing a Border”

Senate Agriculture Committee Chairman Pat Roberts says “trade is more than a product crossing a border,” in a speech while outlining all facets of seed planted in the U.S. may lead to during its export journey, including the combine, processing facilities and employees along the way. The comments come as worry remains that the U.S. may withdraw from the North American Free Trade Agreement. Addressing the Washington International Trade Association, Roberts said Tuesday that U.S. ag exports have grown because of trade agreements, like NAFTA. Roberts, along with his Kansas counterpart in the Senate, Senator Jerry Moran (more-ran), have been pressing the agriculture community to stress the importance of trade to the Trump administration. Roberts said over the weekend that he spoke with the President regarding NAFTA at the White House Christmas party, and Trump said: “We’re going to be all right on NAFTA.” However, many, including Goldman Sachs, believes the U.S. will withdrawal from NAFTA before the talks are completed.

USDA Ends Prevented Planting +10 Percent Option

The Department of Agriculture has ended a ten percent higher crop insurance coverage option for prevented planting claims. In a memo sent out to insurers and USDA’s Risk Management Agency field offices, USDA eliminated the Prevented Planting +10 Percent Option for the 2018 crop year and future crop years. USDA kept the five percent option for farmers, though analysis shows very few farmers have taken the five percent option, according to DTN. Some suspect that Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue wants to expand insurance policies for livestock and dairy producers, so the move may be a way to fund that initiative. The move comes after USDA changed prevented planting coverage factors for some crops last spring, which included lowering the coverage factor for corn from 60 percent to 55 percent.

Senate Ag Committee Approves Vaden as USDA General Counsel

Despite concerns, the Senate Agriculture Committee advanced the nomination of Stephen Vadenn (Vay-den) as the Department of Agriculture’s general counsel this week. The nomination moves on to the full Senate for a vote. The committee approved the nomination on a 14 to 7 vote, Senate Agriculture ranking Democrat Debbie Stabenow, along with fellow Democrats Heidi Heitkamp and Joe Donnelly, joined all Republican members if the committee to vote in favor of the nomination, according to the Hagstrom Report. Stabenow said she was voting to move the nomination forward because” USDA needs a full staff as development of the next farm bill begins”, although adding that “this has not been an easy decision.” Stabenow says she remains concerned about Vaden’s past legal work and personnel practices at USDA. Vaden has been working in the general counsel’s office since shortly after Trump took office. While in private practice, he represented conservative groups on voting rights issues.

USDA Predicts Less Corn in Storage in Latest WASDE

The latest World Agricultural Supply and Demand Estimates report released Tuesday by the Department of Agriculture predicts lower corn stocks. USDA predicts that about 2.43 billion bushels of corn will be in storage at the end of the 2018 marketing year, down from a previous estimate of 2.48 billion. USDA expects 50 more million bushels of corn will be used for ethanol production. Meanwhile, USDA predicts soybean inventories will total 445 million bushels at the end of the marketing year, an increase from last month’s prediction of 425 million bushels. That prediction comes as USDA previously projected soybean planted acres to reach a record 91 million acres in 2018. USDA left the season average price for corn unchanged from last month at $4.60 per bushel for the midpoint, but narrowed the price range by 10 cents on both ends to $4.50 to $4.70 per bushel. The U.S. season-average soybean price range was narrowed to $8.60 to $10.00 per bushel.

Monsanto Offering Incentive for XtendiMax with VaporGrip Herbicide

Monsanto is offering an incentive for U.S. farmers who buy a dicamba-based herbicide. The incentive to use XtendiMax with VaporGrip could refund farmers over half the sticker price of the product in 2018 if they spray the herbicide on soybeans Monsanto engineered to resist the weed killer, according to Reuters. However, further restriction on dicamba-based herbicides are in place for 2018, following two-years of crop damage on non-targeted fields. XtendiMax costs about $11 per acre to buy, and Monsanto is offering an extra $6 per acre in cash back to farmers when they apply the product on Xtend soybeans. Reuters says the rebate means farmers can receive up to $11.50 per acre in cash back next year when they use XtendiMax along with other approved chemicals, such as one called Intact that aims to prevent drift and costs $2.40 per acre.

SOURCE: NAFB News Service