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

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

Trump Will Impose New Tariffs on Steel and Aluminum

After hosting what the White House initially called a “listening” session, President Donald Trump took American investors by surprise Thursday. Trump announced to the group attending the meeting that he will be imposing the long-rumored steel and aluminum tariffs next week. A Zero Hedge Dot Com article says the president will impose a 25 percent tariff on steel imports and a ten percent for aluminum. Trump told a meeting of steel and aluminum executives that he’ll sign the paperwork next week. “You’re going to have protection for the first time in a long time,” he said to the executives. He says steel and aluminum workers haven’t been represented in some time and moves like this will help rebuild the American industries. Before making the announcement, Trump praised his recent tariffs on solar panels and washing machines, saying they were a good example of how tariffs can lead to investment in different U.S. business sectors. Metal company stocks rose sharply after the midday announcement. At the same time, the announcement pushed the Canadian dollar sharply lower. While it did bounce back somewhat, the tariffs remind people on both sides of the border about lingering tensions as the countries continue to participate in NAFTA negotiations.

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Ag Groups Concerned About Trade Retaliation

U.S. Wheat Associates and the National Association of Wheat Growers were both very disappointed in the Trump Administration’s decision to impose tariffs on steel and aluminum imports. A statement says they have repeatedly warned of the risks of retaliation and the precedent set by such a policy would have potentially serious consequences for agriculture. The groups say it’s disappointing that the voices of farmers and many other industries were ignored in favor of an industry that’s already among the most well-protected in the country. Also, Brian Kuehl of the Farmers for Free Trade Organization says they are also deeply concerned that the move to impose tariffs will unintentionally hurt American agriculture. “These tariffs are very likely to accelerate a tit-for-tat approach on trade, putting U.S. agricultural exports in the crosshairs,” Kuehl says. “We’ve already seen China discussing tariffs on sorghum, while the EU and China have both indicated they will move forward with swift retaliation in the wake of these tariffs.” He adds that everyone agrees on the need to hold trading partners accountable but taking unilateral action like this will have unintended consequences. “The ag sector knows from experience that our ag exports are the first to be hit by retaliation,” he adds.

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Perdue Reaffirms Support for Ethanol, RFS

Ag Secretary Sonny Perdue spoke at the Commodity Classic this week and defended his support for the Renewable Fuels Standard. A DTN report says that Perdue told farmers attending the event that President Trump unequivocally supports the RFS, corn farmers, and ethanol. The biofuel industry and corn farmers are concerned that the secretary doesn’t understand the importance of Renewable Identification Numbers, or RINS, to the biofuels industry. Corn farmers had heard RINs were one of the topics of conversation at the White House during the Tuesday biofuels meeting. While speaking to hundreds of the nation’s corn, soybean, wheat, and sorghum farmers, Perdue says he’s beginning to understand the president’s frustration with “fake news.” The secretary has been under fire since Tuesday due to the idea of possible changes to RINs standards. Perdue said, “Hear me clearly, all of you. I will not, and have not, supported any policies in this country that would diminish demand, undermine the RFS, and are harmful to our agriculture producers. I will not.”  

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EPA Unresponsive to Letter on RIN Prices

The official position of the Environmental Protection Agency is that high-priced Renewable Identification Numbers do no significant harm to refiners. That position was made public most recently in November of last year. Grassley, along with a handful of other Senators, sent a letter to the EPA in January asking about the agency’s previous findings that RIN prices don’t affect the success of the nation’s refiners. EPA has yet to respond to the letter, in spite of numerous attempts by staff to follow-up with them. Grassley says leaders are being told that steps are needed to lower RIN prices to help refiners. However, under Democratic and Republican administrations, EPA found that RIN prices don’t determine the success or failure of refiners. “Several of my colleagues and I sent a letter to the EPA in light of calls to make changes to the RFS, with no response,” Grassley says. “I’m always willing to engage in good faith discussions. But changing the RFS based on misinformation and baseless arguments wouldn’t be fair to the thousands of farmers and workers throughout rural America that would be harmed if the RFS is undermined.” EPA found that refiners recovered the cost of RINs in the prices they get for their products.

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USTR Wants Renewal of Trade-Promotion Authority

The Office of the U.S. Trade Representative says it plans to ask for a three-year extension of trade-promotion authority in order to negotiate new trade deals. Robert Lighthizer says those discussions could be with Japan, Vietnam, and other members of the Trans-Pacific Partnership if they’re interested. Politico quotes Lighthizer as saying, “The Trump administration will aggressively negotiate trade deals designed to benefit all Americans.” He spoke during an introduction to the USTR’s report on its annual trade agenda. The office intends to ask Congress to extend the President’s Trade Promotion Authority, also known as ‘fast track authority,’ to obtain an up or down vote on new trade agreements submitted to Congress. Lighthizer adds, “Based on our discussions with Congressional leaders, we believe there is strong support for such an extension, which would allow fast-track authority to remain in place until 2021.” The president has an April 1 deadline to formally request the extension in a letter to Congress. Utah Senator Orrin Hatch, chair of the Senate Finance Committee, says it might not be a sure thing. He looks forward to reviewing how the administration conducts itself on trade in the months ahead and hearing how the administration plans to use fast-track authority.

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2018 Pig Farmers of Tomorrow Chosen

The National Pork Board announced Thursday that Adam Krause from South Dakota, as well as Emma Lasco and Christine Snowden, both from Iowa, have been named the 2018 Pig Farmers of Tomorrow. They were recognized today at the 2018 National Pork Industry Forum in Kansas City. Pork Board President Terry O’Neel says it’s important for the Pork Checkoff to recognize the future leaders of the pork industry. “We are very excited for these young farmers to share their unique stories with consumers,” O’Neel says. The award recognizes farm leaders, ages 18-29, who intend to make pig farming their life’s work and who are committed to raising pigs using the pork industry’s We CareSM ethical principles. The winners will speak at Pork Checkoff events and provide content on #RealPigFarming, which is the pork industry’s social media program. Krause is the fourth generation on his family farm near Clear Lake, South Dakota. He owns a pig nursery barn and grows corn, soybeans, and wheat. Lasco is a territory manager for Smithfield Foods Midwest Production in Roland, Iowa. She assists growers with implementing Smithfield’s industry-leading animal care standards on their farms. Snowden is an assistant farrowing manager for AMVC, located in Audubon, Iowa. She works with other employees to care for piglets from birth until they are weaned.

SOURCE: NAFB News Service

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