READ the NAFB’s National Ag News for Wednesday, April 18th

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READ the NAFB’s National Ag News for Wednesday, April 4th

Farmers Have Other Concerns Than Farm Bill

Farmers are more concerned with trade and being burdened with overregulation, rather than the farm bill, according to one U.S. Senator. Republican Roy Blunt of Missouri said during a Senate hearing last week that “the farm bill never came up” during a recent listening session with farmers in his state, as pointed out by the Food and Environment Reporting Network. Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue told Congress that low commodity prices, slumping farm income, attacks on the ethanol industry and a possible trade war are all causing anxiety in farm country. Perdue says those issues “have overshadowed” farm bill discussions, even as the House Agriculture Committee released its draft of the farm bill last week with markup of the bill this week. Meanwhile, House Agriculture Ranking Democrat Collin Peterson described the farm bill to reporters last week as the fifth item farmers bring up right now. Peterson says “some groups never bring up the farm bill,” and instead focus on the other issues impacting agriculture.

Ending Payment Limits Could Cause Farm Consolidation

The farm bill draft released by the House Agriculture committee includes provisions that “would reverse decades of precedent,” and usher in an era of “unlimited farm subsidies for the nations largest mega-farms,” according to the National Sustainable Ag Coalition. The coalition calls the farm bill a “brazen attempt to undo years of statute for the benefit of the nation’s largest farm operations.” The bill, according to the coalition, would exempt most corporate farms from being limited to a single payment, and make it easier for large farms to reorganize as family farms. The coalition also says the draft would remove payment limitations from marketing loan gains and loan deficiency payments, and exempt partnerships, joint ventures, LLCs and Subchapter S corporations from the adjusted gross income means-testing provision. The coalition alleges that current rules already “allow for rampant abuse of subsidy payments,” making the reforms in the farm bill draft “unconscionable.” The coalition is urging the House Committee to reject in its entirety the proposed changes to payment limitation and AGI provisions in the draft.

Thune Seeks Livestock Indemnity Program Changes

South Dakota Senator John Thune has asked the Department of Agriculture to make urgent changes to the Livestock Indemnity Program to assist farmers and ranchers. In a letter to Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue, Thune says a series of winter storms across the upper Midwest in March and April, the peak lambing and calving months for many livestock producers, has taken their toll on young livestock in several states. Thune alleges that some producers have been denied assistance through the program, as USDA says the producers lacked proper management protocols and failed to properly care for livestock before, during or after the weather events. Thune is asking that USDA allows a statement or certification from a licensed veterinarian that an applicant’s livestock died due to a weather-related cause. Thune also asked USDA to allow state Farm Service Agency committees to approve applications in the program, with state committee’s having the final approval. Thune says local veterinarians and committee’s “are considerably more familiar with the management practices of applicants” to the program, and are better able to make accurate determinations.

Ethanol Organizations Applaud Japan Policy Shift To Allow Use Of U.S. Ethanol

Ethanol and trade groups are applauding the news that Japan will allow imports of a gasoline additive made from U.S. corn-based ethanol. The change comes as part of  Japan’s update of its existing sustainability policy, approved in 2010, in which only sugarcane-based ethanol was eligible for import and which only allowed sugarcane-based ethanol for the production of ETBE, an oxygenate for gasoline. U.S. Grains Council President and CEO Tom Sleight says the decision shows “continued improvements in carbon intensity reductions are critical to gain and maintain market access for U.S. ethanol.” The new policy calls for an increase in the carbon intensity reduction requirements of ethanol used as a feedstock to make ETBE meet a 55 percent reduction, up from 50 percent, and recognizes corn-based, U.S.-produced ethanol’s ability to meet that goal, even with the higher greenhouse gas reduction standard. Japan will now allow U.S. ethanol to meet up to 44 percent of a total estimated demand of 217 million gallons of ethanol used to make ETBE, or potentially 95.5 million gallons of U.S.-produced ethanol annually

National Sorghum Producers Disappointed in China Antidumping Determination

National Sorghum Producers expressed the organization is “deeply disappointed” in the preliminary antidumping determination issued by China’s Ministry of Commerce. China slapped a 179 percent tariff on U.S. sorghum imports. China is the largest buyer of U.S. sorghum products, purchasing more than $900 million worth last year. National Sorghum Producers released a statement Tuesday, saying U.S. sorghum producers and exporters have not caused any injury to China’s sorghum industry. NSP says it has submitted “several thousand pages of data demonstrating conclusively that U.S. sorghum is neither dumped nor causing any injury to China.” The organization says the decision in China reflects a broader trade fight in which U.S. sorghum farmers are the victim, not the cause. Further, NSP says the organization is “evaluating all legal options moving forward.”

Farm Groups Show Unity in Addressing Opioids

The presidents of the nation’s two largest general farm organizations Tuesday visited the “Prescribed to Death” opioid memorial in Washington, D.C., in a show of unity to address the national opioid epidemic that is disproportionately affecting farming communities. American Farm Bureau Federation President Zippy Duvall and National Farmers Union President Roger Johnson joined Anne Hazlett, Assistant to the Secretary for Rural Development at the U.S. Department of Agriculture. The three toured the exhibit, which memorializes the 22,000 people who died from a prescription opioid overdose in 2015. AFBF President Zippy Duvall says of the opioid epidemic, “we all need to talk about this problem to get help for those we care about.” NFU President Roger Johnson stated farming communities can overcome the epidemic if “local communities and local governments make it a priority. ”A survey by the two organizations in late 2017 found that just under half of rural Americans say they have been directly impacted by opioid abuse, while 74 percent of farmers and farmworkers say they have.

SOURCE: NAFB News Service