READ the NAFB’s National Ag News for Wednesday, January 17th

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READ the NAFB’s National Ag News for Wednesday, January 17th

Senator Ernst Suggests Trump is Softening on NAFTA Threats

U.S. Senator Joni Ernst of Iowa told the Iowa Corn Growers Association this week that President Donald Trump appears to be reassessing his position on the North American Free Trade Agreement. Ernst told farmers Monday that “I think he has doubts,” when it comes to withdrawing from NAFTA. Iowa’s Cedar Rapids Gazette reports that Ernst expects a follow up NAFTA meeting with the President, following a meeting between Trump and a group of farm-state Senators in December. She says the goal is to make sure the President understands that NAFTA is “a good thing nationwide,” and not just for one particular economic sector. The NAFTA negotiations will resume later this month in Canada. Ernst fears that if the talks fail, Mexico, the top buyer of U.S. corn, will find mass supplies of the commodity from other nations.

Speaker Ryan: Canada the Real Problem with NAFTA

U.S. House Speaker Paul Ryan of Wisconsin says the biggest problem with the North American Free Trade Agreement “comes from the North,” referring to Canada. Ryan points to Canadian dairy producers dumping low-cost products on the market to compete with Wisconsin farms, as the real issue with NAFTA. Late last week, the Republican said NAFTA needs updated, but said the U.S. should work within the framework of the deal that took effect in 1994, rather than withdrawing from the agreement. Bloomberg reports that dairy has long been one of the sticking points in Canada-U.S. trade, especially for Ryan’s native Wisconsin. Canada’s system of tariffs and quotas, known as supply management, restricts much of its market. The U.S. is proposing changes to the program through NAFTA, but Canada has so-far refused, calling the system “fair.”

NPPC: Mexico Pork Exports Rule Maintains Good Trade Relationship

The National Pork Producers Council says allowing Mexico to export pork to the U.S. is a sign of good trade relations. The Department of Agriculture last week finalized a regulation allowing Mexican states to export pork to the United States. USDA’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service is implementing a science-based risk assessment that determined Mexico is free of Classical Swine Fever, a highly contagious viral disease in pigs. It was eradicated from the United States in the late 1970s. APHIS in 2016 concluded that the risk of the disease from pork imports from Mexico is negligible. Noting that Mexico is the second largest export market for U.S. pork, NPPC President Ken Maschhoff says: “Maintaining our good relationship with that country by ensuring fair and reciprocal trade is paramount for our producers.” Mexico first requested access to the U.S. market in 2007, but USDA determined Mexico’s control program for Classical Swine Fever was not sufficient to classify the country as negligible risk for the disease.

U.S. Top Beef Exporter to South Korea

The United States has reclaimed the title of top beef exporter to South Korea in 2017. The change comes 14 years after a U.S. outbreak of mad cow disease that led to a ban of U.S. beef in South Korea, handing the top spot of the market to Australia, according to Reuters. U.S. beef shipments jumped 13.7 percent last year to 177,400 metric tons, accounting for nearly half of South Korea’s beef imports. Australian shipments eased about four percent to 172,800 metric tons. Beef is a diet mainstay of South Korea, and the nation is the world’s fourth-biggest beef importer, and the third biggest buyer of U.S. beef in 2016, rising to a value of $1.1 billion in 2017. A Korea-based trade researcher attributed the change to the 2017 drought in Australia and a tariff gap between the U.S. and Australia. U.S. beef will attract a 21.3 percent tariff in 2018 while the tariff for Australian beef will be 26.6 percent.

Native Farm Bill Coalition Formed

More than 30 native American tribes have formed the Native Farm Bill Coalition in an effort to give native American farms a voice at the farm bill table. Minnesota Public Radio reports that the coalition is an outgrowth of programs to improve health and expand access to health food for Native Americans. The coalition says that for decades, Indian Country has largely been pushed to the side during farm bill discussions. That means, according to coalition leaders, Native Americans and tribes are “missing out on major opportunities to protect and advance their interests.” The Native Farm Bill Coalition is a joint project by the Seeds of Native Health campaign, the Intertribal Agriculture Council, the National Congress of American Indians, and the Indigenous Food and Agriculture Initiative, to improve Native dietary health and food access.

Farmers Market Legal Toolkit Launched

Farmers markets now have an online tool that provides the markets with accessible resources to understand legal issues and legal risk. The Center for Agriculture and Food Systems at Vermont Law school, along with the Farmers Market Coalition, and others, have launched the Farmers Market Legal Toolkit online, a free resource created with support from the Department of Agriculture. The toolkit responds to recurring questions from farmers market managers as they make decisions to build and grow their markets. Topics covered include how different business structures would affect their organizations, what types of legal risks exist and how to manage them, and how to make local food available and accessible for all community members. The toolkit can be found at

SOURCE: NAFB News Service