READ the NAFB’s National Ag News for Wednesday, August 1st

READ the NAFB’s National Ag News for Wednesday, August 1st

Sponsored by the American Farm Bureau Federation

U.S., Mexico, Leaving Canada behind in NAFTA Talks

The United States and Mexico are progressing on the North American Free Trade Agreement renegotiations, leaving Canada behind, for now. Top trade officials from Mexico are in the U.S. this week after optimism showed through last week with a potential agreement on automotive rules as part of NAFTA, according to Politico, which notes progress on the contentious issue bodes well for farmers wishing for the certainty a NAFTA 2.0 would promise. As for Canada, however, the nation is largely on the sidelines this week, as an international trade lawyer told Politico that the U.S. is “pretty frustrated with Canada,” accusing them of “foot-dragging.” President Trump has announced his desire previously to wrap up talks with Mexico before reaching an agreement with Canada, even though Canada and Mexico have also vowed to stick to three-way negotiations. The White House is hopeful progress with Mexico will pressure Canada to act or even concede on trade issues, like it’s dairy supply management system.

NFU Urges Long-Term Trade Solutions in Farm Bill

In a letter to lawmakers, National Farmers Union President Roger Johnson emphasized the need to address agricultural economic hardships in the 2018 farm bill. The NFU Board of Directors unanimously approved the motion to send the letter during a meeting held Monday afternoon. With an already grim farm economy, an escalating global trade war and uncertainty in export markets has pushed prices even lower in the last month, worsening farmers’ financial stress. While the Department of Agriculture announced a $12 billion aid package for farmers, NFU’s Johnson stressed the package was not enough, adding Congress should provide “substantive and long-term relief to farmers” as part of the 2018 farm bill. Johnson says congressional inaction “will have very tangible and harmful impacts as farmers and ranchers get closer to fall harvest.”

U.S. Crop Protection Market Sees Sales Increase

A new report shows industry consolidation, investments in precision agriculture, and new product introductions propelled a five percent growth in sales for the crop protection industry in 2017. The Kline Group this week released its Crop Protection Manufacturers Report, which found the increase in planted crop acreage, particularly in soybeans and cotton, helped contribute to an increase in the sales of herbicides, insecticides and fungicides. 2017 is the third consecutive year with above-average yields in corn and soybeans in many areas of the Midwest, which helps offset the continuing low commodity prices impacting growers in the region, according to the report. The research shows that while low commodity prices force growers to look for ways to cut expenses, crop protection chemicals still maintain a strong performance in 2017, with herbicides and seed protection products showing the strongest growth.

Plant-Based Foods Retail Sector Growing

Retail sales of plant-based foods jumped 20 percent over the past year. The Plant-Based Foods Association says new data shows sales of plant-based foods topped $3.3 billion, with milk alternatives generating $1.5 billion of total plant-based sales. Other dairy alternatives, such as plant-based products imitating yogurt, cheeses and ice cream, accounted for $727 million in sales, up 19.8 percent from the prior reporting period. In a statement, Plant-Based Foods Association Executive Director Michelle Simon said the data confirms that “sales are up, investment is increasing, and new jobs are being created in the plant-based foods industry.” The data comes as all food sales increased just two percent over the last year, and at a time with the Food and Drug Administration, at the request of the dairy industry, will begin to enforce labeling requirements for dairy products, meaning the plant-based industry may face a wave of label and product name changes.

USDA Opens Election for Cotton Seed Program

Cotton producers, who want to participate in the Agriculture Risk Coverage and Price Loss Coverage  programs for the 2018 crop year may now submit applications. The Department of Agriculture opened the sign-up period this week, which will end on December 7, 2018. In accordance with changes to ARC and PLC made by the Bipartisan Budget Act of 2018, farm owners with generic base acres and recent planting history of covered commodities have a one-time opportunity to allocate all of the generic base acres on their farm. Farm Service Agency Administrator Richard Fordyce called ARC and PLC “vital parts of the safety net” for farmers while encouraging cotton producers to consider the programs. Farms with generic base acres that were planted or approved as a prevented planted commodity during the 2009 through 2016 crop years, are eligible to allocate generic base acres, including upland cotton. Learn more by contacting your local FSA office.

Fish and Chicken Top Sources of Foodborne Viruses

A new study by the Centers for Disease Control finds fish and chicken as the most linked foods for foodborne disease outbreaks. Over a six-year period, the CDC analyzed more than 5,700 foodborne disease outbreaks that result in more than 100,000 illnesses and 145 deaths. Norovirus was the most common disease, followed by Salmonella. Multistate outbreaks comprised of only three percent of all outbreaks reported but accounted for 11 percent of illnesses, 34 percent of hospitalizations, and 54 percent of deaths. Among 1,281 outbreaks in which the food reported could be classified into a single food category, fish led the way at 17 percent, and chicken, at ten percent. However, chicken, pork and seeded vegetables were responsible for the most outbreaks, overall. The CDC says the report highlights the continued need for food safety improvements targeting worker health and hygiene in food service settings.

SOURCE: NAFB News Service