READ the NAFB’s National Ag News for Thursday, August 9th

READ the NAFB’s National Ag News for Thursday, August 9th

Sponsored by the American Farm Bureau Federation

Next Round of Tariffs Set

The U.S. says it will begin imposing tariffs of 25 percent on an additional $16 billion in Chinese imports in t, further escalating the trade war between the two countries. The U.S. Trade Representative’s office says Customs will begin collecting the extra duties on 279 different product lines. The list includes a lot of industrial and machinery products. Agricultural machinery is on the list, including tractor pistons, seeders, planters, and irrigation systems. Bloomberg says this will be the second time the U.S. slapped more duties on Chinese imports in a month. The move comes as American companies complain that the more tariffs will eventually cost them more to do business and raise consumer prices. China has promised to retaliate with another $16 billion in tariffs on U.S. imports. The tariff total could actually increase soon. The U.S. Trade Representative’s Office is looking into the possibility of a ten percent tariff on another $200 billion in Chinese goods. Those duties could be implemented shortly after the comment period ends on September 5th.  

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Farmers for Free Trade Unhappy with Tariff Escalation

Farmers for Free Trade Executive Director Brian Kuehl (Keel) says he’s unhappy the White House is ratcheting up the trade war. While more tariffs on Chinese goods are set to go into effect in two weeks, he says the President is telling farmers to be patient as prices plummet and their markets are overtaken by foreign competitors. “That’s why with each new tariff announcement, polls show the patience of American farmers wearing thin,” Kuehl says. “Tariffs are causing long-term damage, not just to farming either, but also to American manufacturers and consumers.” He adds that members of Congress from both parties are hearing from Americans that are angry about tariffs while they’re back in their states and districts. “It’s time to end the trade war before tariffs cause any more economic pain for America’s heartland,” he adds. The group is launching an $800,000 ad campaign called “Tariffs Hurt the Heartland,” spread across radio, TV, print,  and online ads on farm programming across the heartland. The ad buy is part of a larger $2.5 million national anti-tariff campaign the group launched in July.

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NAFTA Negotiations: Mexico Close, Canada Talks Not Close

North American Free Trade Agreement negotiations with Mexico are going “as well as we can possibly expect right now.” That’s from Gregg Doud, the Chief U.S. Agriculture Negotiator, who spoke at the International Sweetener Symposium in Michigan. The Hagstrom Report says he also mentioned that negotiators “haven’t had market access conversations with Canada of any substance.” He also told the gathering of beet and cane growers who are members of the American Sugar Alliance that, “I think we are going to get there with Mexico in a relatively short order.” Doud also talked about discussions with Canada, saying the agricultural issues with Canada have been the same for years, which is a veiled reference to their country’s dairy and poultry supply management programs. The negotiations with Canada have been very difficult, with Doud adding that “We’ve got to get to a situation where we can bring Canada on board and wrap this up.” The Trump Administration wants the negotiations finished by the end of August, so the current Mexican Administration could sign off on the deal.

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Doud Rips China, India Farm Subsidies

The Chief Agricultural Negotiator for the U.S. is attacking both China and India for blowing past their World Trade Organization spending limits on farm subsidies that distort trade. “We think China has done in excess of $100 billion more in subsidies to its farmers than it was allowed to do,” Gregg Doug said at the American Sugar Alliance’s International Sweetener Symposium in Michigan. Politico says he also accused India of vastly exceeding its subsidy limits on rice and wheat, while also mentioning the country’s recent moves to increase subsidies to its sugar producers as a cushion against a drop in world prices. “I can’t think of a commodity that’s more distorted,” Doud said to symposium attendees. “If you think there’s a problem in steel, take a long look at the sugar market.” He also tried to allay the concerns about the Trump Administration’s trade policy, which has had a negative impact on agricultural markets for the past year and a half. He says the administration is working to wrap up talks on the North American Free Trade Agreement quickly. They’re also looking for new export opportunities in Canada, Japan, and Europe.

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New State Water Authority Good for Farmers and Ranchers

The Trump Administration’s decision to return water-permitting authority to more states is being hailed as a good thing by agriculture groups. The American Farm Bureau Federation says it means faster, better, and more affordable decision-making for all Americans. The U.S. Army, the Environmental Protection Agency, the Justice Department, and the White House all signed an agreement on the issue. States can assume the authority to issue permits for earth moving in and around regulated waterways, wetlands, and land that sometimes channels water. “The Clean Water Act was supposed to give states a real say in how water was regulated,” says AFB President Zippy Duvall. “Regular farming and ranching activities shouldn’t get tangled up in red tape.” He says only two states currently have authority to issue permits to allow landowners to move soil that could potentially affect federally regulated waters, those being Michigan and New Jersey. At least 14 more states have expressed interest in having that same ability. Duvall adds, “This announcement takes us closer to how the law was intended to work.”

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NPPC Jumps Into North Carolina Lawsuit Gag Order Battle

The National Pork Producers Council and the North Carolina Pork Council filed a court brief in support of lifting a judge’s gag order related to nuisance lawsuits filed against more than two dozen hog farms. Judge Earl Britt of the Eastern U.S. District Court in North Carolina imposed the gag order in late June, applying it to the lawsuit parties, lawyers, and potential witnesses in the lawsuits brought against Murphy-Brown, a Smithfield Foods subsidiary. The judge said a “significant increase in trial publicity” and the “volume and scope of prejudicial publicity” around the first two cases could taint future jurors. Both pork organizations filed a brief with the U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, asking that the Appeals court grant the Murphy-Brown petition to vacate the District Court’s prior restraint on free speech. In the brief, the pork producers say that “

“all but the most carefully crafted, narrow gag orders are unconstitutional.” They also pointed out that “it’s not reasonable to think that any gag order will reduce coverage of the cases or the public’s interest in them.”  

SOURCE: NAFB News Service

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