READ the NAFB’s National Ag News for Thursday, March 29th

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READ the NAFB’s National Ag News for Thursday, March 29th

Lighthizer Hopeful of New NAFTA Deal

U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer told CNBC television Wednesday he is “hopeful” there will be compromise and a deal reached on the North American Free Trade Agreement. His comments follow those from Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau (True-doh), who earlier this week said a “win-win-win deal is not only possible but likely.” Lighthizer said Wednesday he is optimistic the three NAFTA members can “get something done in principle in the next little bit.” He acknowledged there is a short window to reach an agreement, as Mexico will hold summer elections and the U.S. will hold midterm elections in the fall.  Round eight of the negotiations are scheduled for Washington, D.C., in early April. In the last round of talks, some agricultural topics advanced, including sanitary and phytosanitary measures. However, the American Farm Bureau Federation reported there was much work left to be done on market access, referring to the U.S.-Canada dairy trade issue.

KORUS Agreement a Relief to Agriculture

Agriculture was ‘left out’ of the U.S.-Korea Free Trade Agreement renegotiation effort, a relief to the sector. For many in agriculture, there was more to lose than gain in the renegotiation effort. The U.S. is the largest supplier of beef to Korea and the second largest pork supplier. Data from the U.S. Meat Export Federation shows red meat exports to Korea set a record last year of $1.7 billion, up 19 percent from the prior year and up 69 percent from 2012. USMEF spokesperson Joe Schuele (She-lee)  told Meat industry publication Meatingplace the revised KORUS is “excellent news” for U.S. beef and pork because it ensures the U.S. “will continue to be able to serve the growing South Korean market.” South Korea is also a top-five importer of U.S. corn, buying more than 5.3 million metric tons in the last marketing year, which is more than 200 million bushels. Under the new agreement, South Korea will limit its steel exports to the U.S. and allow more imports of U.S. autos. The U.S. agreed to exempt South Korea from Trump’s steel and aluminum tariffs.

NCGA Submits Comments on PES Proposed Settlement

The National Corn Gowers Association says poor financial decisions and management caused a Pennsylvania refinery to file for bankruptcy protection, not the Renewable Fuel Standard. NCGA this week submitted formal comments to the U.S. Department of Justice on the proposed settlement agreement between Philadelphia Energy Solutions, or PES, and the Environmental Protection Agency. The settlement stems from the outstanding RFS compliance obligations the refiner has included in its Chapter 11 bankruptcy filing. NCGA claims the settlement would undermine the RFS. The association’s comments state the proposed settlement would allow the refiner “to walk away” from more than half of its outstanding RFS obligations and allow its parent companies to avoid liability. NCGA President Kevin Skunes says the proposal “would have negative policy implications for the RFS and future compliance with the Clean Air Act,” as the settlement does not hold all parties liable for violations of the Clean Air Act. The bankruptcy court will decide on the settlement agreement on April 4th.

Secretary Perdue Announces Third “Back to Our Roots” RV Tour

Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue will hit the road again next week in his third “Back to Our Roots” RV tour. Perdue will start the tour Tuesday to hear ideas and concerns from farmers and others. Joining Perdue is Administrator Linda McMahon, the head of the Small Business Administration, for part of the tour. The tour spans from Tuesday to Friday and includes stops in Michigan, Ohio and Kentucky. While Congress works on the next farm bill, Perdue says the tour serves as an opportunity to hear “directly from the American people in the agriculture community.” This is Secretary Perdue’s third “Back to Our Roots” tour since taking office just under a year ago. On his first tour, in August of 2017, Secretary Perdue toured Wisconsin, Minnesota, Iowa, Illinois and Indiana. In September of 2017, Secretary Perdue traveled on his second tour to Connecticut, Massachusetts and New Hampshire. Complete details of the tour can be found online at

Global Crop Protection Groups Announce Data Transparency

Global crop protection associations have agreed to a safety data transparency initiative. Crop Life America announced the partnership with its European counterpart as a voluntary commitment to enable more public access to pesticide product safety data from non-commercial use. Doing so, the associations say, will help explain the existing regulatory process, focusing on the European Union, and to address the safety, efficacy and benefits of crop protection products. The initiative stems from the global pesticide industry’s commitment to transparency, responsibility and sustainability. In the U.S., federal law requires the Environmental Protection Agency to make pesticide safety data available to the public, which has made the U.S. a world leader in transparency and access to the public. Crop Life America says the association supports a “continuing conversation” with the public on safety issues and the “continued transparency” of pesticide safety data around the world.

Washington State Salmon Farms to Comply With Phase Out  Legislation

The operator of salmon farms in Washington State says it will comply with legislation ordering the phase-out of operations by 2025. Cooke Aquaculture says it is “deeply disappointed” in the action by the state legislature and Washington Governor Jay Inslee. However, in a recent company news release, officials say Cooke Aquaculture “will respect the wishes of the legislature.” Last month, a spokesperson for the company said: “Any ban on Atlantic salmon farming will be based purely on emotion and ideology, not science.” Washington’s salmon farms have operated in Puget Sound since the 1980s, but Cooke owns all operations now. The bill by Washington State lawmakers follows the collapse of a pen structure owned by Cooke that allowed the escape of 250,000 salmon. The company says it will evaluate operations and investments in the state moving forward, as it prepared to comply with law.

SOURCE: NAFB News Service