READ the NAFB’s National Ag News for Monday, July 16th

READ the NAFB’s National Ag News for Monday, July 16th

Sponsored by the American Farm Bureau Federation

Pre-Conference Committee Farm Bill Discussions Get Heated in House

The U.S. House could take a step forward on moving farm bill talks ahead by voting to send the bill to conference. However, Politico says Thursday was the latest indicator that the bad blood between House Ag leaders is one of the many issues that need to be fixed. House Ag Chair Mike Conaway and Ranking Member Collin Peterson met for the first time in two months. Their working relationship burst into flames over proposed changes to the food stamp program, which Democrats say won’t happen. Peterson vowed to team up with Senate Ag counterparts Pat Roberts and Debbie Stabenow during the conference negotiations. Both of the Senate Ag Committee leaders say they won’t play ball with any significant adjustments to the program outside of what they try to do in their version of the farm bill, which is combat fraud. Peterson says the face-to-face got heated on Thursday. “I was not easy on him and told him bluntly what I think, which I always do,” he says. “He didn’t like it, but I said I’m just telling what I think and I’m trying to be helpful.” Peterson adds that when the bill goes to conference, if people are “sensible,” it won’t take long to get it done. 

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Chinese Trade Surplus with U.S. Hits High Amid Tariff Concerns

The Chinese trade surplus with the U.S. hit a record number in June as its exports grew at a solid pace, something that could possibly make a trade dispute with Washington, D.C., that much worse. A Nasdaq Dot Com article points out that it could be a “one-off” as Chinese exporters were rushing to get shipments out before tariffs went into effect during the first week in July. Analysts say the trade balance will be much less in China’s favor during the months ahead as tariffs take a bite out of their business. China’s trade surplus with America is a key component of the trade dispute and it widened to a record monthly high of $28.97 billion. One analyst tells Nasdaq that “the record surplus won’t help the already sour relations and escalating tensions.” President Trump has demanded that China cut into that trade surplus, threatening to eventually impose tariffs on a total of $500 billion in Chinese imports. The dispute between the two largest economies in the world has jolted global financial markets and triggered worries of a full-scale trade war possibly derailing the world economy.  

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Japan Will Resume Sheep and Goat Imports from U.S.

Ag Secretary Sonny Perdue announced that the Japanese government has finalized the technical requirements that will allow U.S. sheep and goat exports to Japan to resume for the first time in 14 years. U.S. Meat Export Federation Chair Dennis Stiffler says Japan was a primary market for U.S. lamb before losing access in December of 2003 because of mad cow disease detection in the American cattle herd. “Our lamb producers and the overall industry are very excited about the opportunity to export our quality products to an upscale market,” Stiffler says. “The Japanese have proven in the past that they’re very receptive to the unique flavor of U.S. lamb.” While U.S. lamb has already been well-received in other markets like Taiwan, which reopened to U.S. lamb in 2016, Japan presents an exceptional opportunity for significant export growth. Japan is already the leading value market for U.S. beef and pork, and their consumers are expected to embrace U.S. lamb’s flavor and consistency. Ag Secretary Sonny Perdue says this success is a direct result of USDA’s dedication to helping farmers find new markets for their products.

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McKinney to Lead Trade Mission to Southeast Asia

USDA Under Secretary for Trade and Foreign Agricultural Affairs Ted McKinney will lead a trade mission to Southeast Asia July 16-19. He’ll be joined by U.S. business and state government leaders who are seeking to expand agricultural opportunities in Southeast Asia. The trade mission will be based in Jakarta, Indonesia, but will also include delegations of buyers from Malaysia and the Phillippines who are interested in purchasing U.S. farm and food products. “USDA trade missions are an incredible opportunity for companies looking to branch out into new markets,” McKinney says. “Participants have the chance to forge personal relationships with potential customers and learn first-hand about the ins and outs of doing business in those countries.” Like much of the rest of Asia, Indonesia, Malaysia, and the Phillippines are experiencing rapidly growing economies, rising middle-class populations, and continuing urbanization. Those are all factors that contribute to favorable conditions for U.S. export expansion. Trade mission participants include members of the Georgia and Idaho Departments of Agriculture, as well as representatives from 24 U.S. businesses.

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NCBA Comments on “Fake Meat” Oversight”

Danielle Beck, Director of Government Affairs for the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association advocated for the USDA to oversee lab-grown fake-meat products. She spoke during a meeting hosted by the Food and Drug Administration. The goal of the meeting was to give interested parties and the public a chance to comment on the technology and regulations associated with lab-grown meat. In spite of laws that designate the USDA with primary oversight of fake meat, USDA was not given a spot in the public meeting. Beck says NCBA does applaud the questions the FDA has asked regarding risks, hazards, and manufacturing methods of lab-grown meat products. “However, the appropriate agency to ask the questions under discussion today is the agency that will ultimately have jurisdiction over lab-grown meat food products,” Beck says. “Any fair reading of the law places lab-grown meat products within the primary jurisdiction of the USDA Food Safety and Inspection Service.” She says continuous inspection that draws on the scientific expertise of FSIS provides the most stringent oversight of any perishable meat product. Many promoters of lab-grown meat claim USDA oversight of lab-grown fake meat is unnecessary because animals aren’t harvested. However, USDA inspection is required for all federal meat plants, whether harvesting occurs or not.

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Arizona FB President Wants Congress to Save Ranches and Federal Lands

Arizona Farm Bureau President Stephanie Smallhouse asked Congress to streamline regulations to preserve ranching, as well as the land itself. The fifth-generation rancher appeared before the Subcommittee on Federal Lands. Smallhouse told the members that America’s vast government-owned grazing lands would be much worse off if there weren’t private caretakers who work to maintain those federal and state lands. Those caretakers put in the same effort to care for those lands as they do privately-owned ranch land located next to and within the federal and state rangeland. Smallhouse says the partnership maintains open space on private, state, and federal lands through the management of watersheds. Access to government lands also helps cattle to not overgraze the areas they live in, which is good for the environment. Smallhouse did say that environmental review of projects that help both the environment and the economy take too long. “Agencies should be focusing on cutting red tape so that more time and effort is devoted to on-the-ground improvements,” Smallhouse says. 

SOURCE: NAFB News Service

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