READ the NAFB’s National Ag News for Wednesday, April 11th

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READ the NAFB’s National Ag News for Wednesday, April 11th

China Files WTO Complaint, Pledges to Lower Some Tariffs

China has filed a dispute with the World Trade Organization alleging the U.S. tariffs on steel and aluminum violate world trade rules. However, the nation also reconfirmed it will open it’s economy by lowering tariffs on cars, paving the way for negotiations. “Actions speak louder than words” when it comes to China, one U.S. economist told Reuters. But, China’s President did announce this week the intention to raise the foreign ownership limit in the automobile, shipbuilding and aircraft sectors “as soon as possible”, and push previously announced measures to open the financial sector. Plans to open the auto sector to the U.S. by China have been in the works since before the Trump administration. The announcement by China could offer a glimmer of negotiation to end or dampen the trade spat, which includes proposed tariffs on U.S. agricultural products. Trump has been insistent that the two nations will reach a mutually beneficial agreement, while Chinese officials recently said negotiations would be impossible under “current circumstances.”

Trade War Help for Farmers: All Options on the Table

A top Department of Agriculture official says “all options are on the table” when it comes to finding relief from a trade war with China for farmers. Deputy Secretary of Agriculture Steve Censky told reporters earlier this week USDA is “looking at all of our authorities” to find ways to assist farmers, according to Politico. Those options include buying up commodities through the Commodity Credit Corporation. The comments by Censky confirm Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue’s comments from last week, eluding to USDA having something in the works to shield farmers from a trade war. However, Perdue has not announced any details to what that may be. Meanwhile, President Donald Trump this week said: “We’ll make it up to them,” referring to the risks farmers face in a trade dispute with China. Trump claimed that “farmers will be better off than they ever were,” but offered a vague timeline of when that help may arrive for farmers and ranchers.

GOA Issues Report on Cattle Markets

A report by the Government Accountability Office shows supply and demand factors, such as a drought that affected the price of cattle feed, affected changes in prices of fed cattle—those ready for slaughter from 2013 through 2016. The price of fed cattle has fluctuated widely from 2013 through 2016 and experienced a sharp downturn beginning in late 2015, raising concerns about the market and questions about USDA’s oversight, which prompted those in the industry to request the report. GAO’s analysis of cattle market data from USDA also indicated that competition levels among packers that slaughter and process fed cattle did not appear to affect the national price changes in the fed cattle market in 2015 but that areas of the country with less competition among packers had lower cattle prices. GOA offered two recommendations, including USDA review the extent to which, under statute, the price reporting group can share daily transaction data with the Packers and Stockyards Program. And if USDA determines the statute does not permit such sharing, and it is advisable, submit to Congress a proposal to allow such sharing.

WASDE Report Predicts Record Soybean Crop for Brazil

The latest World Agriculture Supply and Demand Report from the Department of Agriculture shows Brazil is reaching a record soybean planting. USDA predicted a record Brazilian soybean crop in the report Tuesday of 115 million metric tons, or 4.2 billion bushels. Domestically, U.S. soybean supply and use changes for 2017/18 include increased crush, lower seed and residual use, and lower ending stocks. Soybean ending stocks are projected at 550 million bushels, down five million. The season-average soybean price is forecast at $9.10 to $9.50, unchanged at the midpoint. The monthly outlook for corn saw reduced feed and residual use, and increased ending stocks. With supply unchanged and total use declining, ending stocks were raised 55 million bushels. The projected range for the season-average corn price received by producers is unchanged at the midpoint with the range narrowed to $3.20 to $3.50 per bushel. For wheat, USDA increased ending stocks by 30 million bushels to 1,064 million, all on lower feed and residual use. The season-average wheat farm price is unchanged at the range of $4.60 to $4.70 per bushel.

Farm Groups Outline Fake Meat Regulation Desires

The National Cattlemen’s Beef Association submitted comments Tuesday to the Department of Agriculture outlining key principles for the regulation of fake meat products. NCBA is requesting USDA to work with the Food and Drug Administration to “take appropriate, immediate enforcement action against improperly-labeled imitation products.” In its comments, NCBA stated the organization believes the term beef “should only be applicable to products derived from actual livestock raised by farmers and ranchers.” Meanwhile, the National Farmers Union submitted comments Tuesday, as well, supporting another set of proposals by the U.S. Cattlemen’s Association. NFU President Roger Johnson says NFU supports USCA’s request to restrict the broader definition of “meat” to the tissue or flesh of animals that have been harvested in the traditional manner. That includes not allowing the use of “meat” on labels for plant-based alternatives and lab-grown alternatives.

Nebraska’s “Most Expensive Farm” Hits the Market

A $34 million farm is up for sale in Nebraska. Billed as the state’s “most expensive farm,” the more than 10,300-acre operation includes 5,600 acres of center pivot irrigated farmland. The Zeman ranch, located in north-central Nebraska, is described as a large cattle operation that also includes 44 center pivot irrigation systems. The property is near the eastern edge of the Nebraska Sandhills and on the northern edge of Nebraska in a major farming and ranching area. Hall and Hall, a U.S.-based ranch brokerage firm, says the ranch also includes an open-air feeding facility, processing facilities, barns and corrals. The ranch features 2,300 acres of hay grounds that supports the 2,300 cow/calf pairs and the 2,500-head feeding facility. The listing company says the area is one of the largest remaining tracts of mid and tall grass prairie in North America.

SOURCE: NAFB News Service