READ the NAFB’s National Ag News for Friday, February 2nd

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READ the NAFB’s National Ag News for Friday, February 2nd

State Ag Officials Want Bilateral Trade Talks to Commence

State agriculture officials are questioning the Trump Administration on the promise of creating new bilateral trade deals. During a meeting in Washington, D.C. this week, the National Association of State Departments of Agriculture members commented on the lack of new bilateral agreements, as promised by the administration a year ago. Trump promised bilateral agreements as he withdrew the U.S. from the multilateral Trans-Pacific Partnership. Montana Agriculture Department Director Ben Thomas says: “We haven’t really seen any substance behind that,” according to Politico. The Democrat also mentioned Trump’s comments regarding rejoining the TPP, if the deal “got substantially better.” Thomas encouraged the organization to start thinking about what those terms may be. TPP was recently revived by the 11 other countries involved in the pact that are planning to sign an amended version in March.

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CattleFax Predicts Large Supply and Strong Demand in 2018

Although beef production is expected to increase to 27.5 billion pounds during 2018, CattleFax says current consumer demand is expected to remain good and potentially increase. Moderating prices. At the 2018 Cattle Industry Convention in Phoenix, Arizona, CattleFax celebrated its 50th anniversary with the CattlFax Outlook Session. Analyst Kevin Good told the audience U.S. beef cow inventory increased 2.8 million head in four years, and an additional 200,000-400,000 head are expected to be added to the herd over the next few years. Good said there are growing supplies of protein coming to market during the year ahead, including large supplies of competing proteins, which will weigh on all beef prices. However, “demand is robust on all fronts,” according to Good, who says retail demand is increasing and beef is being featured more in the consumer markets. Input costs are expected to remain manageable, with grain prices expected to remain steady. CattleFax analysts predict fed cattle prices lower than prior year levels, averaging $115 per hundredweight.

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Report Says Trade Shuffle Poses Risk for Beef Exports

Demand and production for beef may rise this year, but trade remains a wildcard that poses risks to the beef export market, according to a new report by CoBank. The report says trade uncertainty could hamper the U.S.’s ability to capture market share in the coming years. CoBank says 80 percent of beef exports are sold to countries that could be affected by ongoing trade pact negotiations. Japan, South Korea, Mexico, Canada and Hong Kong top the list of countries importing beef from the U.S., representing 83 percent of all U.S. beef exports. Of these trade partners, only Hong Kong will be unaffected by current trade pact negotiations. Competing exporters that are part of the Trans-Pacific Partnership will gain preferential access to Japan, exports to Mexico and Canada are at risk with the North American Free Trade Agreement, and beef trade with South Korea could decline if the U.S.-Korea Free Trade Agreement, KORUS, is renegotiated, according to the report.

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Drought Slowing Cattle Herd Growth

Growing drought in the U.S. southern plains is again threatening cattle production. As the cattle industry meets in Phoenix this week for the 2018 Cattle Industry Convention, one market analyst is suggesting the slowing pace of herd growth is a repercussion from dry condition in the southern plains. Drought in the region contributed to the smallest rise in the nation’s cattle population in three years, according to government data. Allendale analysts Rich Nelson told Reuters that the report implies that the U.S. is “Trying to rein in herd growth,” and current herd expansion could stop by 2020. Insufficient moisture in parts of Texas and Oklahoma, along with areas of persistent dryness in the northern Plains, hurt winter wheat grazing pastures for cattle, forcing more of them into commercial feedyards earlier than planned. The most recent drought monitor shows all of Oklahoma and nearly all of Texas in a classified drought.

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Equipment Groups Tackle Right to Repair

The Association of Equipment Manufacturers and the Equipment Dealers Association announced Thursday a new industry commitment to giving farmers and ranchers the right to repair their machines. The commitment aims to provide a comprehensive set of service information tools for tractors and combines put into service by model year 2021. A set of principles released with the announcement outline the tools the initiative will make available through authorized dealers to allow farmers and ranchers to perform basic service, maintenance and repairs on their equipment. Those principles include manuals, product guides and service demonstrations, on-board diagnostics and diagnostics tools. AEM President Dennis Slater says the initiative will provide customers with “commonsense solutions they have asked for,” to help them make simple repairs. The two organizations have also launched a website, R2Solutions.org, where farmers and ranchers can find more information.

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USDA Unveils New Website for Farmers

A new website developed by the Department of Agriculture offers a one-stop-shop for farmers and ranchers to conduct business with USDA. While visiting Michigan Thursday, Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue unveiled the website, Farmers.gov. USDA describes the website as a streamlined, single point of online access to agricultural programs and information, tools and personal advice for agriculture. Perdue told the Michigan Farm Bureau the website will help producers complete paperwork “without taking a big chunk out of the day.” The website gathers together the three agencies of USDA’s Farm Production and Conservation mission area: The Farm Service Agency, the Natural Resources Conservation Service, and the Risk Management Agency. USDA says new functions will be added soon, including an interactive calendar, an online appointment feature, digital forms, and a business data dashboard.

SOURCE: NAFB News Service

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