READ the NAFB’s National Ag News for Wednesday, March 28th

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READ the NAFB’s National Ag News for Wednesday, March 28th

Spring Food Prices Increase

The annual Spring Picnic Marketbasket Survey by the American Farm Bureau Federation shows higher retail prices for several foods. The informal survey showed the total cost of 16 food items that can be used to prepare one or more meals was $51.05, up $1.02 or two percent compared to a year ago. AFBF attributed the increase to higher retail prices for several foods including eggs, orange juice, meat products, bagged salad, shredded cheddar and vegetable oil. AFBF market intelligence director John Newton says eggs own the highest price increase, saying: “Easter eggs are going to be a bit more expensive, 37 percent higher than a year ago.” U.S. egg exports were up nearly 50 percent in 2017 while egg production remained flat. Meanwhile, the price of orange juice increased 7.5 percent, due to the devastating hurricane late last year that came through parts of Florida, where most orange juice comes from. The hurricane led to growers harvesting the smallest crop in 70 years. Of the 16 items surveyed, nine increased and seven decreased in average price.

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Mexico and Canada Face U.S. Tariffs If NAFTA Talks Extend Beyond May

President Donald Trump says Mexico and Canada will face steel and aluminum tariffs if the North American Free Trade Agreement talks don’t progress to his likings by May first. The administration has granted an exemption to Canada and Mexico from the tariffs. However, a White House document says Trump will decide by May first “whether to continue to exempt these countries from tariffs, based on the status of discussions.” The move, Bloomberg reports, puts pressure on Canada and Mexico to progress and complete the talks. Mexican officials have hoped to wrap-up the process by the end of April, before the country’s summer election, and the U.S. midterm election later this year. The move by Trump comes as Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau says momentum is building, and that “a win-win-win deal is not only possible but likely.” Still, there are many issues left to agree on, including major agriculture issues. An American Farm Bureau Federation economist speculated earlier this month that the NAFTA renegotiation effort would stretch into next year.

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Trade Coalition Launches Effort Against U.S. Tariffs

A new effort seeks to protect U.S. agriculture from trade retaliation. Americans for Farmers and Families Tuesday announced the “Retaliation Hurts Rural Families” project. Former Missouri state lawmaker and spokesperson for the project, Casey Guernsey, says the effort will help farmers and ranchers “communicate with one voice” to the Trump administration that “rural and farming communities must be heard.” The project is using spokespeople, like Guernsey, to convey agriculture’s message on trade through media. Organizers hope the effort will help protect U.S. agriculture from retaliation due to President Trump’s tariffs on U.S. steel and aluminum imports. Guernsey says the tariffs “negatively impact” agriculture as U.S. trade partners are targeting U.S. ag products for retaliation. He says the retaliation efforts will represent “real job losses and real lack of market access” for U.S. farmers. The coalition was originally formed to protect agriculture’s interest in the North American Free Trade Agreement.

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McConnell Introduces Hemp legislation

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell this week announced legislation he intends to introduce in the Senate to support hemp farmers. The Hemp Farming Act of 2018 will legalize hemp as an agricultural commodity and remove it from the list of controlled substances. McConnell announced the legislation in his home state earlier this week, which implemented a hemp pilot program that McConnell calls a nationwide example of how to cultivate hemp. Noting the history of hemp cultivation in Kentucky, McConnell says he believes hemp can “be an important part of our future.” As of 2017, 38 states allow hemp cultivation for commercial or research programs. McConnell says the legislation would also remove the federal barriers in place which will help expand the domestic production of hemp. It will also give hemp researchers the chance to apply for competitive federal grants from the U.S. Department of Agriculture, allowing them to continue their work with the support of federal research dollars.

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Veterinarians Take to Capitol Hill

Nearly 100 veterinarians took to the nation’s capital earlier this week to discuss farm bill priorities. While lawmakers are on break this week, the American Veterinary Medical Association held its annual fly-in to meet with congressional offices. In the next farm bill, fly-in attendees are asking Congress to help prevent animal disease outbreaks by establishing and funding a three-pronged measure, including an animal pest, disease and disaster prevention and response program, a stronger national animal health laboratory network, and a U.S. livestock vaccine bank with immediate priority to foot-and-mouth disease. AMVA President Michael Topper says decisions by Congress will ultimately “determine whether veterinarians are able to afford their educations and effectively do their jobs.” The veterinarians are also seeking congressional support for AVMA’s Higher Education Act principles, with a focus on preserving Public Service Loan Forgiveness and loan options through Grad PLUS. These programs, the association says, play a vital role in enabling veterinarians to fund their educations, which is increasingly important as veterinary debt has risen.

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Deputy Secretary Censky to Keynote Farm Foundation Workshop

A Farm Foundation workshop on rural Infrastructure Investment will feature Deputy Agriculture Secretary Steve Censky. A collaboration of Farm Foundation and the Department of Agriculture’s Economic Research Service, the workshop will examine current research on the impact of rural infrastructure investments on economic activity. Farm Foundation President Constance Cullman says the workshop is a “vital step in sharpening those tools” needed for rural infrastructure improvements. Farm Foundation says the workshop will help researchers and stakeholders identify practical research that exists or is needed on the economic returns of investments in rural infrastructure. The workshop will be at the National Press Club, Washington, D.C., Tuesday, April 10, and Wednesday, April 11. Learn more and how to register at www.FarmFondation.org.

SOURCE: NAFB News Service

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