04-12-18 NFU Urges Congress to Address Farmer Suicides in Farm Bill

NFU Urges Congress to Address Farmer Suicides in Farm Bill

In a letter sent Monday, National Farmers Union and a coalition of 36 prominent farm and rural advocacy groups urged U.S. Senate and House of Representatives agriculture committees’ leadership to address farmer suicides in the 2018 Farm Bill. Specifically, the groups asked that the Farm and Ranch Stress Assistance Network (FRSAN) be reauthorized and fully funded. Continue reading

READ the NAFB’s National Ag News for Thursday, April 12th

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READ the NAFB’s National Ag News for Thursday, April 12th

Farm Bill Text Expected Thursday

Democrats and Republicans on the House Agriculture committee remain at odds with each other over the nutrition title of the farm bill. As the committee scheduled the draft release today (Thursday, 12:30 p.m. ET), the bill is “in trouble,” as ranking member Collin Peterson puts it, according to the Hagstrom Report. Peterson and committee Democrats previously vowed not to support the bill because of reported changes committee leadership is allegedly proposing to the nutrition title. Markup of the House version of the bill is expected next week. Meanwhile, the Senate Agriculture Committee does not expect to markup its version of the bill this month. Senate Agriculture Committee Chairman Pat Roberts says he and Ranking Democrat Debbie Stabenow are working together on a bill, adding he wants to introduce the bill soon, but first wants “a good bill.” Roberts says he views any differences not as problems but as challenges, and that he and Stabenow are determined to work together.

Report: Midwest States Among Most Vulnerable from Proposed Tariffs

An analysis of tariff proposals on the U.S. shows Midwest states will feel the brunt of the damage. IHS Markit, a business and financial consulting company, says any action that reduces demand for U.S. agricultural products would reduce prices received by farmers for their output, and diminish farm incomes. China has proposed tariffs on U.S. ag items, including staple exports of pork and soybeans, among others. The report says Nebraska, South Dakota and Iowa have the most exposure, with farm income accounting for at least three percent of total personal income in the state from 2014 to 2016. The report notes that some states with large agricultural industries, such as Illinois, have small shares of farm income as a percent of total personal income because of their large metro areas. Outside the middle of the country, California and Washington will see tariff impacts as they are major producers of fruits and tree nuts that are on the initial tariffs list, according to the report, which suggests the economic impact will worsen if China follows through on all of its proposed tariffs.

Colorado Senator Demands Dairy Fix in NAFTA

Senator Michael Bennett of Colorado wants a new North American Free Trade Agreement to fix dairy trade with Canada. In a letter to U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer, the Democrat insisted that Lighthizer meet “the President’s unambiguous commitment” to address dairy issues with Canada, while also maintaining existing agricultural market access to Canada and Mexico. Bennett referred to President Trump’s visit to Wisconsin when he promised he would correct the alleged unfair practices by Canada. At the time, Trump said: “some very unfair things have happened to our dairy farmers and others,” calling dairy trade with Canada “another typical one-sided deal against the United States.” The letter comes as trade negotiators continue work to complete the updated agreement and hope to do so by early May, according to reports this week. Dairy trade, however, has been largely absent from the talks so far. Canada calls the issue a “non-starter.”

Peterson Introduces MPP Replacement Program

House Agriculture Committee Ranking Member Collin Peterson this week introduced the Dairy Risk Management Act. Peterson says the legislation would provide dairy farmers with a strong safety net to address volatile market conditions outside of their control. The act would replace the Margin Protection Program with the Dairy Risk Management Program. Peterson says dairy farmers from his congressional district and across the country are “facing tough times that show no signs of letting up.” USDA’s Economic Research Service forecasts dairy farms to experience a 19.2 percent decrease in net cash farm income from 2017 to 2018, the largest decrease expected for any livestock specialization. Peterson says his bill, creating the new proposed risk management program, address the “shortcomings of MPP” and what he says “should have been included in the Bipartisan Budget Act,” which made changes to MPP. Dairy industry groups have vowed to continue to seek more support for dairy farmers through Congress and the next farm bill.

AEM: First-Quarter Ag Tractor & Combine Sales Data Released

Total U.S. two-wheel drive tractor sales gained four percent for March compared to last year, while four-wheel-drive tractor sales dropped five percent and self-propelled combine sales declined 20 percent, according to the latest sales data from the Association of Equipment Manufacturers. First-quarter 2018 U.S. sales were essentially flat for the smaller-size tractors, and 100-plus horsepower two-wheel drive tractors declined about five percent for January-March compared to 2017. And, U.S. four-wheel-drive tractor sales gained about five percent for the first quarter, and U.S. sales of self-propelled combines gained four percent for January-March compared to 2017. AEM AG Services senior vice president Curt Blades says equipment dealers are “still contending with diplomatic jockeying” in regards to trade, negative changes to the Renewable Fuel Standard, and the Department of Agriculture forecast of a decline in 2018 net farm profits.

Roberts Explores Use of Telemedicine to Help Fight Rural Opioid Addiction

Senate Agriculture Committee Chairman Pat Roberts of Kansas intends to introduce legislation to allow telemedicine to address rural opioid addiction. During a recent Senate panel hearing, Roberts said rural residents suffering from substance abuse “face many challenges in accessing the clinical services they need.” Roberts says community mental health and addiction treatment facilities in rural areas often do not house a full-time clinician who can prescribe controlled substances for the treatment of substance use disorders. Further, the Republican says many rural patients need to travel long distances, sometimes across state lines, to access the needed treatments. He says the use of telemedicine, the remote diagnosis and treatment of patients through communications technology, could be a way to reduce the travel burden on rural residents. His comments came during a hearing of the Senate Health, Education Labor and Pensions Committee.

SOURCE: NAFB News Service