READ the NAFB’s National Ag News for Monday, June 18th

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READ the NAFB’s National Ag News for Monday, June 18th

Administration Approves $50 Billion in 301 Tariffs

Farmers for Free Trade Executive Director Brian Kuehl (Keel) says the Trump Administration’s approval of $50 billion worth of imported goods from China is “scary.” The tariffs on Chinese imports will result in heavy retaliatory tariffs on U.S. agricultural exports. “For American farmers, this isn’t theatrical anymore, it’s scary,” Kuehl says. “It’s no longer a negotiating tactic, it’s a tax on their livelihoods. Within days, soybean, corn, wheat, and other American farmers are likely to be hit with retaliatory tariffs of up to 25 percent on the exports that keep their operations afloat. When they do, they aren’t going to remain silent.” Farmers for Free Trade says these tariffs are not only a blow to U.S. farmers, it’s a win for our competitors. When American corn and soybeans become more expensive, South America wins. When American beef becomes more expensive, Australia wins. As this trade war drags on, the group says farmers will rightly question why U.S. competitors are winning while American farmers are losing. Kuehl adds, “Farmers for Free Trade will continue to hold town hall meetings across the country this summer to ensure that farmers voices are being heard. The message will be heard loud and clear. American farmers demand that elected officials support them by ending this trade war.”  

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Nebraska Farm Groups Press Pruitt for Answers

Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Scott Pruitt met with Nebraska farm leaders on Thursday and told them his agency is moving toward allowing year-round E15 sales. A DTN report says he told those same leaders that his agency doesn’t have a choice in granting small refinery waivers to the Renewable Fuels Standard. Before getting around to tough questions on the RFS, Pruitt told a coalition of Nebraska farm groups that his agency sent a revised Waters of the United States Rule to the Office of Management and Budget on Friday. Pruitt gave several hints as to what the new rule would and wouldn’t apply to. However, while he may have preferred to focus on WOTUS, he spent most of his time answering questions about the RFS. When asked about the timeline for year-round E15 approval, Pruitt says they stand ready to proceed. “I can’t give you a timeframe but we are doing the work,” he said to the groups. Recent media reports say the EPA has been granting waivers to some of the largest oil refiners in the country. Pruitt says that’s not the case. He says waivers are determined facility by facility and analyzed jointly with the Department of Energy.

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Trump Says He’s “Not Happy” With EPA Chief Pruitt

On the surface, President Trump says Environmental Protection Agency Chief Scott Pruitt has done a fantastic job of running the agency. However, Trump tells Bloomberg that “he’s not happy” with some of Pruitt’s actions as ethics allegations continue to threaten the EPA chief’s tenure. “I’m looking at Scott and he’s done a fantastic job,” Trump says to reporters on Friday, “but I’m not happy about certain things. I’ll be honest.” Pruitt is under fire for several ethics questions, including having EPA employees run personal errands for him, as well as helping his wife secure a job. Bloomberg says Pruitt has been under scrutiny for months over a series of questionable decisions, which includes an arrangement to rent a condo on Capitol Hill from a lobbyist, as well as taxpayer-funded travel to his home state of Oklahoma. The latest revelations surrounding Pruitt have drawn sharp condemnation from some of his conservative allies. Pruitt enlisted aides to help his wife, Marilyn, find employment, including contacting the Chick-Fil-A CEO about possibly acquiring a franchise.  

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Senate Farm Bill Would Legalize Hemp Production

An amendment to the Senate Farm Bill that recently passed out of the Ag Committee contains an amendment that would remove hemp from the federal definition of marijuana. The amendment, sponsored by Majority Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, would free up hemp farmers to receive federal crop insurance under the 2018 farm bill. “I think it’s time we took this step,” McConnell told the Senate Ag Committee on Wednesday. “I think everybody has now figured out that this is clearly not the other plant (marijuana).” McConnell says people in his home state who grew up with tobacco are hoping this will turn into a viable crop. “As we all know, hemp is very diversified,” McConnell says. “It can end up in your car dashboard, it can end up in your food, it can also end up in pharmaceuticals. It’s time to figure out and see where the market will take us.” Not all the Ag Committee members supported the change, including Iowa Senator Charles Grassley. While the bill may be modified during Senate floor debate, hemp industry experts aren’t expecting much change because of good bipartisan support.

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Conaway Looking for Republican Votes as House Farm Bill Redo Approaches

House Ag Committee Chair Mike Conaway has compiled a list of 36 Republicans he needs to persuade to vote in favor of the House Farm Bill. That’s a lot of work to do before it comes up for a second vote, which is tentatively expected to take place next week. Politico says that will happen after votes on two different immigration bills in the House. Conaway, a Texas Republican, wants 29 Republicans who voted against the bill to change their vote, as well as influence another seven GOP members who were absent the day of the first vote. Conaway, with a list of members’ names in hand, told reporters on Thursday that, “It’s going to be close.” Not a single Democrat voted for the bill when it failed 198 to 213. Many members of the House Freedom Caucus didn’t vote for the farm bill because they wanted GOP leadership to first schedule floor time for an unrelated immigration proposal put forth by Judiciary Committee Chair Bob Goodlatte of Virginia. The House is expected to vote on the farm bill next week and will also vote on a more moderate package that’s still being negotiated.

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Unapproved GM Wheat Found in Canada

The Canadian Food Inspection Agency confirmed the finding of genetically modified wheat which contained a trait developed by Monsanto. The wheat was found in southern Alberta, growing on an access road to an oil platform last summer. The website Real Agriculture Dot Com says that the suspicious plants were reported by a custom applicator after they survived an application of glyphosate. Seven plants were taken in for testing while the rest of the patch was destroyed. Testing showed the wheat contained a genetically modified trait, or “event,” that was field tested by Monsanto. However, the plants don’t match any Canadian registered wheat variety. Monsanto tested the trait from 1998 to 200, but the trial sites were hundreds of miles away from where the wheat was found. A CFIA scientist says that the GM wheat has a genetic background that doesn’t match any currently registered wheat in Canada. “It has a fingerprint that is distinct from any registered wheat,” the scientist said during a press briefing, “and CFIA is working to identify the specific class of this wheat.

SOURCE: NAFB News Service

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