READ the NAFB’s National Ag News for Tuesday, February 13th

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READ the NAFB’s National Ag News for Tuesday, February 13th

Trump Unveils Infrastructure Improvement Plan

President Donald Trump released his long-awaited plan to upgrade the nation’s infrastructure, including roads, bridges, and airports. Bloomberg says it may be a tough sell in Congress. Democrats say it falls short and Republicans are said to be wary of another large spending measure. The 53-page document shows how Trump plans to stimulate $1.5 trillion in new investments. It also looks to shorten project permitting time to two years, invest in rural projects, and improve worker training. Many of the main points in the plan have been known for some time. There were some new elements in the proposal, including expanding the use of private-activity bonds to finance projects. That would extend the use of tax-exempt debt by private entities and broaden the number of projects the bonds could be used for. Other proposals include letting states add tolls on interstates, as well as fostering public-private partnerships in transit projects. The plan also proposes streamlining legally required environmental analysis for public projects. Under the plan, regulators would have more latitude in waiving required environmental reviews.  

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Perdue Praises Trump Infrastructure Plan

Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue applauded the infrastructure plan laid out by President Donald Trump, specifically for its emphasis on investment in rural America. The plan calls for 25 percent of new federal funds to be dedicated to rural infrastructure needs, as prioritized by state and local leaders. Perdue says Trump has made it a priority to address the nation’s infrastructure since the day he took office and has now followed through on that commitment. “No other area of the country needs investment in infrastructure more than rural America,” he says. “With a quarter of new federal money going to rural parts of the country, states will have the ability to expand broadband access, increase connectivity, rebuild roads, and supply affordable utilities.” Perdue also says it’s important to remember that states get the flexibility to choose the projects that best meet their needs. “I’ve heard directly from people in the Heartland that this is just the type of investment they’re looking for to help create jobs, improve education, improve the quality of life, and increase overall prosperity.”

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Canada: 73 Percent of U.S. Milk Price is Subsidized

Canada’s dairy subsidies have been a controversial topic during the North American Free Trade Agreement negotiations. For many years, the U.S. dairy industry has claimed that their Canadian counterparts are heavily subsidized through their dairy supply management program. The U.S. says that supply management program, and the Class and pricing systems in place, creates an unfair playing field. The website Dairy Herd Dot Com says Canada has issued a report that says the U.S. should examine its own dairy subsidies before pointing the finger at Canada. Dairy Farmers of Canada commissioned the 588-page report that looks into the role that subsidies play in the U.S. dairy market. The report says that 73 percent of returns that American dairy farmers received in 2015 were the result of subsidies, including the Margin Protection Program and the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program. The Canadian report says those subsidies returned $12.06 per hundredweight. Sean Haney is the founder of the Canadian ag website Real Agriculture Dot Com, who says the report is tilted in favor of Canada. However, he also says it’s important to remember that there is probably some truth to the report as well.   

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USDA: Pesticide Residue Levels Show No Risk to Consumers

More than 20 percent of the food sampled by the USDA in 2016 showed no detectable pesticide levels and less than .5 percent of the food had detectable residue levels above limits set by the Environmental Protection Agency. A USDA report titled “What Consumers Should Know” says, again this year, the U.S. food supply is one of the safest in the world. Fresh and processed fruits and vegetables accounted for 90 percent of the more than 10,300 samples collected by the agency. Four percent of the samples collected were organic. The report says more than 99.5 percent of the samples had pesticide residue levels well below the EPA limits. 22 percent of the samples had no detectable residue levels at all. The USDA report is one source of residue data that the Environmental Working Group uses to create its annual Dirty Dozen/Clean 15 rankings of fruits and vegetables. USDA says the report “provides reliable data to help assure consumers that the food they feed their families and themselves is safe.” The Food and Drug Administration and the EPA would be notified of a residue test that could potentially pose a significant health risk.

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Cotton Council Releases Outlook Report

Economists with the National Cotton Council released a report showing a few key factors that will influence the cotton industry’s 2018 outlook. Cotton prices have maintained a strong appearance in spite of an increase in global production. The current supply and demand fundamentals do appear bearish. However, strong U.S. export sales, a weaker U.S. dollar, heavy speculative buying, and large mill fixations have supported prices. Looking ahead to the coming year, projections of record ending stocks in China may bring pressure on world cotton prices. The longer-term outlook points to some positive factors over the next few years. The world economy is improving. World cotton demand is on the rise, with estimates calling for an increase of five percent in 2017, more than doubling the previous five-year average. China is expected to hold their next round of reserve auctions this month. A successful auction series this year might make China a large importer of cotton again. World mill use is expected to exceed world production in the 2018 marketing year, with global stocks projected to decline by 5.4 million bales. On the domestic side, 2017 U.S. mill use is estimated at 3.4 million bales, 100,000 higher than the previous year. The NCC is projecting a modest increase in mill use totaling 60,000 bales in 2018.  

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Sorghum Producers Look into Chinese Anti-Dumping Investigation

The National Sorghum Producers are looking at how to respond to China’s announcement of anti-dumping and countervailing duties investigations into imports of U.S. sorghum. China’s Ministry of Commerce made the investigation announcement on Sunday. National Sorghum Producers CEO Tim Lust said his organization plans to fully participate in the investigations. They also intend to work closely with industry stakeholders and partners to demonstrate U.S. sorghum producers do not dump their product into the Chinese market and that U.S. sorghum isn’t unfairly subsidized. NSP says it’s had a long-standing relationship with customers in China. U.S. Grains Council CEO Tom Sleight says the Chinese market isn’t closed to American imports right now. As far as the industry knows, sales contracts are still being fulfilled. Roughly 100 sorghum producers happened to be in Washington, D.C., as the investigation announcement was made. Those producers were able to talk with elected officials about the situation and ask for their support. The investigation is expected to take up to a year.

SOURCE: NAFB News Service

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