READ the NAFB’s National Ag News for Wednesday, June 27th

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READ the NAFB’s National Ag News for Wednesday, June 27th

Senate Farm Bill Making Progress

The Senate early this week showed large support for the farm bill, or at least debate on the bill. The procedural cloture vote Monday passed easily, 89-3. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell says the chamber has the opportunity to finalize this bill this week. Senate Agriculture Committee Chairman Pat Roberts spoke on the Senate floor Tuesday, calling the legislation “the best bill possible under these circumstances.” He says the goal of the farm bill is to provide agriculture “certainty and predictability during these very difficult times,” referring to the depressed farm economy. The bill is expected to soon enter the amendment process on the Senate Floor. Roberts will allow consideration of Senator Chuck Grassley’s farm payment limits amendment. The lack of the amendment in the committee-passed bill prompted Grassley to be the lone vote against the legislation at the time.

EPA Proposes Increase in RVO Announcement

The Environmental Protection Agency is proposing an increase in the total renewable fuel volume to 19.88 billion gallons, up from the 19.29 billion expected gallons. However, biofuels groups say the proposal falls short of damage done to the Renewable Fuel Standard from hardship waivers granted to refiners. The proposed conventional biofuel amount of 15 billion gallons maintains the level set for 2018. The proposal also calls for 4.88 billion gallons of advanced biofuel, including 381 million gallons of cellulosic biofuel and 2.43 billion gallons of biodiesel for 2020. The National Corn Growers Association says: “what’s not included in EPA’s proposed rule says more than what’s included.” Growth Energy CEO Emily Skor says the conventional biofuel amount from ethanol, “isn’t a real number we can count on.” Skor says by neglecting to reallocate gallons lost to waivers, the EPA is “doubling down” on another year of demand destruction. The National Biodiesel Board says the 2.43 billion gallons of biodiesel for 2020 sends a “hopeful signal,” but added the hardship waivers undercut prior year volumes and could negatively impact future standards.

Trade Promotion Authority to Auto-Renew

Trade Promotion Authority will auto-renew at the end of this month due to no congressional action. Originally authorized by Congress during the Obama administration for the advancement of the Trans-Pacific Partnership, TPA will auto-renew for another three years. The renewal comes due to the inaction by the House and Senate during a three-month window to pass a resolution of disapproval to deny the extension, according to Politico. The U.S. Trade Representative’s office describes Trade Promotion Authority as a legislative procedure that spells out detailed oversight for trade negotiations. The policy allows, or perhaps restricts, Congress to a simple up or down vote, without amendment, regarding the approval of trade agreements. Most recently passed in 2015, TPA was favored by a majority of agriculture groups which supported the Trans-Pacific Partnership.

China Dropping Tariffs on Feed Grains from Asian Countries

China is dropping tariffs on feed ingredients from five Asian countries as it seeks supplies that do not originate in the United States. The ongoing trade war between the U.S. and China is bringing further tariffs on U.S. soybeans and coproducts imported to China, as retaliation on U.S. tariffs implemented on China. Thus, China is seeking cheaper soybeans, soymeal, soybean cake, rapeseed and fishmeal originating from Bangladesh, India, Laos, South Korea and Sri Lanka starting July first. A market analyst from Shanghai told Reuters the move “demonstrates the government’s attitude that we will import from other countries.” While China had already planned to cut the tariffs since March of this year, as part of the Asia-Pacific Trade Agreement signed in Thailand last January, the move is still seen as a step to reduce China’s dependence on U.S. soybeans amid the ongoing trade war.

Brazil Soybean Exports Expected to Pass U.S.

A forecast by the Department of Agriculture shows an increase in production could drive Brazil to pass the U.S. in soybean exports. Brazil is already the leading global producers of soybeans, and the second-largest exporter of the crop. USDA says Brazil’s soybean output is currently forecasted to exceed that of the United States by the 2018/19 marketing year. The milestone would represent a 22 percent increase in production over the last three years for Brazil. Almost all the increased production has made its way to the export market,  according to USDA, which has risen 34 percent over the same time. In addition to significant growth in sales to China, Iran and Russia, domestic conditions in 2018 have also driven up exports. In May, Brazil’s soybean shipments reached a record high, despite a trucker strike in the nation and stalled deliveries to ports.

USDA Taking Comments on Product of USA Label

The Department of Agriculture is accepting public comment on a policy that allows foreign beef to be labeled as “Product of USA” if inspected in the United States. The comment period opened last week following a petition by the American Grassfed Association and the Organization for Competitive Markets. The petition demands the Food Safety Inspection Service policy be changed to ensure only U.S. domestic meat products can be labeled “Product of USA.” The groups allege the current policy allows food companies to “skirt the federal law and regulations governing labeling and leads to violations of FSIS’s own policies and regulations that clearly mandate truthfulness in labeling.” The Petition refers to research that says U.S. consumers want to know where their food comes from and consumers place a higher financial value on food that is local, regional and from the United States. The public comment period closes in mid-August.

SOURCE: NAFB News Service