READ the NAFB’s National Ag News for Tuesday, April 24th

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READ the NAFB’s National Ag News for Tuesday, April 24th

Comprehensive New NAFTA Coming Soon

Negotiators from Mexico, the U.S., and Canada are still pushing hard to get a “comprehensive” new North American Free Trade Agreement in place. Politico says negotiators from the three NAFTA countries have been meeting regularly in recent weeks, hoping for breakthroughs on some of the toughest issues yet to deal with. Those remaining issues include auto rules of origin, labor, and dispute settlement mechanisms. “We are certainly in a more intense period of the negotiations and are making good progress,” says Canadian Foreign Minister Chrystia Freeland. U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer appeared confident in recent meetings with administration officials and Congress that he will be able to reach a preliminary NAFTA agreement in the next couple of weeks. The goal would then be to have a preliminary agreement in place by May fourth. U.S. officials have set a goal of Congressional approval before the lawmakers head home for the December holidays on December 13. Mexico’s own legislative session ends on August 31 and any renegotiated deal would have to be passed before then.  

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Mexico/European Union Reach Trade Deal

The European Commission announced over the weekend that the European Union and Mexico had reached a free trade deal. A CNN Money report says the deal virtually eliminates tariffs on “practically all goods” traded between EU members and Mexico. The EU and Mexico said last year they would upgrade their trade talks to update the agreement they signed back in 2000. The announcement came at the same time that the U.S. was threatening to pull out of the North American Free Trade Agreement. Mexico and the EU appeared to take a shot at U.S. President Donald Trump when they announced the deal, calling it a defense of open and rules-based trade. The European Commission President, Jean-Claude Juncker, said over the weekend that Mexico and the EU worked together to reach a mutually beneficial outcome. “We did it as partners who are willing to discuss, to defend their interests, while, at the same time, being willing to compromise to meet each other’s expectations,” says Juncker. The deal marks a move by Mexico to lessen its reliance on the U.S. as its main trading partner.

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Treasury Secretary Optimistic on Settling Trade Dispute

The International Monetary Fund and the World Bank both issued warnings that trade disputes could put a healthy global economic expansion in jeopardy. An Associated Press report says U.S. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin (Muh-NOO-chin) showed cautious optimism over the weekend that the U.S. and China could settle their differences without a full-blown trade war. Mnuchin met recently with finance officials from Japan, China, and Europe to discuss a series of punitive tariffs the Trump Administration unveiled recently against China and other trading partners. Mnuchin wouldn’t tell reporters how close the U.S. was to resolving the various trade disputes, but he did say that progress has been made. In a speech earlier this month, Chinese president Xi (Zhee) Jinping said his country would open itself wider to foreign companies. That raised hopes that the dispute with Washington, D.C., could be resolved. Mnuchin recently discussed Xi’s proposals with Chinese officials, saying “we’re cautiously optimistic.” The Treasury Secretary says he may soon travel to Beijing for further talks with Chinese officials.

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Wildfire Livestock Losses Will Qualify for Financial Help

Livestock producers who lost animals in the central plains’ wildfires may qualify for the USDA Farm Service Agency’s Livestock Indemnity Program (LIP). An Oklahoma State University Extension report says the LIP program provides assistance to producers who’ve experienced abnormal livestock deaths due to a number of different conditions, ranging from adverse weather, certain disease outbreaks, or animals reintroduced into the environment by the government. The wildfires in northwestern Oklahoma more than qualify as an adverse weather-related loss. LIP payments are made by calculating 75 percent of the fair market value for the affected livestock, as determined by the Commodity Credit Corporation. Producers need to file a notice of the livestock losses directly to their county FSA offices. In order to be eligible for the program, growers must have had legal possession of the livestock, with the deaths happening no later than 60 days from the ending date of the disaster. Livestock must have been utilized for commercial use as part of a farming and ranching operation on the day they died. There are exceptions to which animals are covered on different operations, and producers should check with their local FSA offices for more information.

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CA Judge Says Glyphosate Can Be Listed Under Prop 65

A California Appeals Court sided with the Center for Food Safety and the state of California in affirming that Monsanto’s glyphosate pesticide can be listed under Prop 65. The listing says glyphosate is a known carcinogen. Monsanto filed a lawsuit challenging a California announcement that it would be listing glyphosate, the active ingredient in Monsanto’s Roundup herbicide, under California’s Prop 65. The proposition requires notification and labeling of all chemicals known to cause cancer, birth defects, or other types of reproductive harm. Prop 65 also prohibits their discharge into drinking waters of the state. The Center for Food Safety then intervened in the case after Monsanto filed suit, saying the glyphosate listing under Prop 65 was correct and the public had a right to know when it’s being exposed to cancer-causing chemicals. In 2015, the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) concluded that glyphosate is “probably carcinogenic.” California subsequently issued the notice of intent to list glyphosate as a Proposition 65 chemical based on the IARC finding. 

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Rabobank: Challenges Ahead for U.S. Global Pork Trade

A Rabobank analysis says the proposed Chinese tariff on U.S pork imports could cost American producers $6 to $8 per head. The Rabobank Pork Quarterly Q2 report says the China-U.S. tension exemplifies what could be a challenging year ahead for the pork industry in 2018. African swine fever in Europe could be another challenge in the global pork trade. The report says agility will be a big key in navigating what could be an uncertain global market. The wildcard is whether or not China opts to crack down on U.S. pork exports shipped via Hong Kong. January U.S. pork shipments grew five percent year on year, but U.S. pork exports are slowing due to the uncertainty over Chinese tariffs. The report says South Korea, the third-largest U.S. export market, might be a bright spot. Renegotiation of the KORUS trade pact should spur demand into Korea, as well as neighboring Asian countries. Rabobank says the most critical piece of the puzzle is successfully renegotiating the North American Free Trade Agreement, as 40 percent of all U.S. pork exports go to Mexico and Canada.

SOURCE: NAFB News Service

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