READ the NAFB’s National Ag News for Thursday, April 26th

Sponsored by the American Farm Bureau Federation

READ the NAFB’s National Ag News for Thursday, April 26th

Soybean Growers Talking Tariffs, Trade on Capitol Hill

American Soybean Association farmer-leaders from across the country are on Capitol Hill this week to talk with lawmakers about the potential impact of Chinese tariffs on U.S. soybeans. ASA President John Heisdorffer says China purchases 61 percent of U.S. soybean exports, as well as 30 percent of the overall U.S. soybean production. “In short, trade with China matters and is vital not only to the hundreds of thousands of U.S. soybeans producers but to rural economies and communities that depend on them,’ Heisdorffer says. “Today, we’re asking lawmakers to support their communities and constituents by joining ASA in encouraging the administration to rethink the Section 301 tariffs, and instead, empower soybeans to continue to be part of the solution.” He says the growers have come to D.C. and left their fields during planting season to educate and convey the importance of trade with China. Heisdorffer says the message is clear: “A 25 percent tariff on U.S. soybeans into China will have a lasting effect on every soybean farmer in America.”

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Time Running Out to Participate in the 2017 Census of Agriculture

The National Ag Statistics Service wants to remind farmers and ranchers that the window is closing on the opportunity to participate in the 2017 Census of Agriculture. NASS has received more than 1.5 million completed questionnaires. However, the national return rate is currently lower than it was at this point in the 2012 Census. NASS is asking U.S. producers who have not returned their completed Census questionnaires to please do so as soon as possible in order to avoid follow-up phone calls or in-person visits. NASS Administrator Hubert Hamer says they’re very grateful for the responses they’ve received, but it’s important that the others who received a Census questionnaire join their neighbors, colleagues, friends, and family in being a part of the Census count. “If you produced and sold $1,000 or more of agricultural products in 2017, or normally would have produced and sold that much, we need to hear from you,” says Hamer. “If you’re a landowner who leases your land to a producer, we need to hear from you as well.” The Census of Agriculture is the only comprehensive source of agriculture data for every state and county in the nation. The data is used by policymakers, trade associations, researchers, agribusinesses, and many others.

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Farm State Senators Worry About Trade During Hearing

The Senate Agriculture Committee convened a hearing on Tuesday and expressed a great deal of concern over the trade strategy of President Donald Trump and its effects on the U.S. farm economy. Politico says farm-state senators used the opportunity to direct Ag Secretary Sonny Perdue to impress on the Trump administration just how sensitive commodity markets are to trade actions. Committee Chair Pat Roberts of Kansas says producers are being used as pawns in Trump’s crackdown on what he argues are unfair trade practices by China and other countries. After a full year in the Trump administration, Politico says Perdue has gotten good at defending the president’s trade actions while assuring farmers he has their back. Perdue says the updated trade agreement between the U.S. and South Korea is an example that the strategy is working, but he did acknowledge there wasn’t much added benefit for food producers in the new agreement. In the meantime, Trump announced Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin (Muh-NOO-chin) and others will be traveling to China in a few days to hopefully negotiate a deal to help both countries avoid slapping tariffs on each other’s goods.

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NFU Board of Directors Opposes Current House Farm Bill

The National Farmers Union Board of Directors unanimously passed a resolution opposing the current version of the House Farm Bill that passed out of the Ag Committee last week. The Board called on House members to make significant changes in the legislation before passing it. The Board says in a release that, “The House Farm Bill, as currently written, lacks the improvements needed to help farmers cope with continued low commodity prices. The bill fails to provide farmers with the tools they need to be the best possible stewards of our natural resources, and it reverses progress toward expanding access to local, regional, and specialty markets.” The NFU Board says the House bill also makes “unnecessary cuts” to programs that feed hungry Americans. Among the changes recommended by the NFU Board, they’d like to increase PLC reference prices to improve the farm safety net and offset possible trade retaliation. They’d like to strengthen payment limitations and actively engaged requirements for Title 1 programs. The NFU would also like to see dairy farmers provided enhanced price supports and a mechanism in place that manages our nation’s milk inventories to meet market demand.

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Trump Says NAFTA Talks Are “Doing Nicely”

President Donald Trump says this week that the North American Free Trade Agreement talks are “moving along nicely.” Bloomberg says trade ministers from Mexico, Canada, and the U.S. are meeting in Washington, D.C., and pushing to finish an agreement by early May. During a meeting with the president of France, Trump said, “NAFTA, as you know, is moving along. I could make a deal very quickly but I’m not sure that’s in the best interest of the United States. We’ll see what happens but we’re doing very well.” The trade head of the Mexican version of the Chamber of Commerce says an agreement on an updated NAFTA could be reached within the next ten days. If no deal is reached in the coming days, the Bloomberg report says it may make sense to put further negotiations on hold until the end of this year, or even early 2019. That’s because of the Mexican presidential election in July and the American midterm election in November. Negotiating teams have agreed on nine or ten more topic areas that are ready for the ministers to review. However, there are still some sticky issues left to deal with.

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USDA Launches Website Promoting Rural Development Best Practices

The U.S. Department of Agriculture has launched a new interactive website to help identify best practices for building rural prosperity. Anne Hazlett, Assistant to the Secretary for Rural Development, says communities need forward-thinking strategies to build strong futures. “The Rural Development Innovation Center is focused on identifying unique opportunities, pioneering new, creative solutions to tough challenges, and making Rural Development’s programs easier to understand, use, and access,” she says. The webpage will highlight effective strategies that have been used to create jobs, build infrastructure, strengthen partnernships, and promote economic development in rural America. An interactive feature allows webpage visitors to submit comments on ways USDA can improve the Rural Development program delivery. The Center staff will review the citizen recommendations and direct resources, services, and expertise that will help their communities create transformative solutions to complex rural challenges. The website will also highlight USDA resources that can be used for investments in infrastructure and innovation.

SOURCE: NAFB News Service

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