READ the NAFB’s National Ag News for Friday, January 19th

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READ the NAFB’s National Ag News for Friday, January 19th

Ag Coalition Formed to Support NAFTA

A new coalition of agriculture groups is focusing on the importance of the North American Free Trade Agreement. More than 30 organizations across the agriculture sector announced the formation of Americans for Farmers and Families, noting that food and agriculture supports 43 million U.S. jobs and depends on trade with Canada and Mexico. The group was formed to “ensure” President Trump and Congressional leaders understand the “importance of preserving and modernizing” NAFTA to America’s agricultural economy. As part of the effort, the coalition will be launching an educational campaign to highlight the positive impact of NAFTA and lay the groundwork for an updated trade agreement that “preserves America’s strong economic standing for decades to come.” Coalition members include the American Farm Bureau Federation, the National Association of State Departments of Agriculture and many various commodity groups.

Trump See’s Ag Benefits of NAFTA, Still Threatening Withdraw

President Donald Trump said again this week he “may” terminate the North American Free Trade Agreement, saying such a move would yield the “best deal” in renegotiations. The president says many people “are going to be unhappy,” if he terminates the agreement, but counters that they “don’t realize how good it would be” if he did. But, just last week Trump said he would be “a little bit flexible” on the withdrawal threat. Agriculture and the auto industry is pressing the administration to not withdraw from the agreement, and the auto industry is even suggesting Trump back away from some of his demands. The comments from Trump come as Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue says the president now understands the benefits of NAFTA for agriculture, according to Bloomberg. However, Perdue warns the president’s view on trade should not be confused with a softer approach to the negotiations.

Conaway: Farm Bill on Track for March Unveil

The House version of the 2018 farm bill remains on track for a March unveiling, according to House Agriculture Committee Chair Mike Conaway. The Republican told Politico the committee is waiting for an official 10-year cost estimate from the Congressional Budget Office to ensure “we can afford the proposal.” The committee started working on the House version of the bill last fall. Lawmakers are trying to come up with a bill that won’t increase the federal deficit. The current 2014 farm bill is projected to cost about $875 billion over a decade, but the Congressional Budget Office is expected to update that estimate this month. The Senate is further behind the House in its work to craft a farm bill, and some in the chamber fear a farm bill will not be finished or passable this year.

Growth Energy: American Drivers Top Three Billion Miles Driven on E15

American drivers have logged another billion miles on E15 in just the past three months, according to Growth Energy, which says the total number of miles driven on E15 now sits at more than three billion. Growth Energy CEO Emily Skor says the growth comes from “forward-thinking retailers who have figured out that E15 is smart business,” and from consumers who rely on the “value proposition” of E15 fuels. Growth Energy, which works with the nonprofit Prime the Pump, helps build the needed infrastructure and distribution of biofuel blends, which they say give drivers more choice at the pump. E15 is approved for use in all vehicles 2001 and newer, as well as in all flex-fuel vehicles, which combined represent more than 87 percent of vehicles on the road.

EU Moves to Ban Palm Oil from Biofuels

The European Union gave approval to a climate plan that includes banning palm oil from use in fuels, angering palm oil producers. Indonesia and Malaysia, the two largest palm oil producing nations in the world, call the move a protectionist trade barrier. The ban is part of a power market overhaul aimed at reducing energy consumption to meet climate goals, with the palm oil ban starting in 2021. The EU approved draft measures of the plan this week, meaning the European Parliament, the European Commission and the EU national governments must craft and vote on a final version of the plan, according to Reuters. Palm oil can be used as a substitute for crude oil to make biofuel, of which a large portion of European palm oil imports are used to for biofuels, giving the palm industry cause for concern as they fear overall demand will fall. However, the palm oil industry has come under fire in Europe recently over its impact on forest destruction.

Report: Rural Hospitals Need Transforming

Research by the Bipartisan Policy Center shows a need to reform rural healthcare to better serve rural Americans. The Bipartisan Policy Center spoke with more than 90 stakeholders about the current state of rural healthcare in the Upper Midwest last year. The research found that a hospital cutback is needed in rural areas to better align access to healthcare. While that may sound backward, the report says rural communities might benefit if their critical access hospitals are transformed into small inpatient care centers or rural emergency rooms. The report says not every rural community needs to have a Critical Access Hospital, and that communities should tailor available services to the needs of the community, which for many rural areas are driven by changing demographics. The report also says rural health systems need to equip health professionals with the tools necessary to provide quality care to patients. The research is available online at

SOURCE: NAFB News Service