READ the NAFB’s National Ag News for Thursday, September 20th

READ the NAFB’s National Ag News for Thursday, September 20th

Sponsored by the American Farm Bureau Federation

China Sets More Tariffs on U.S. Food and Ag Imports 

China said Tuesday that it will hit back against President Donald Trump with retaliatory duties of five or 10 percent against another $60 billion worth of American products. The response comes one day after Trump issued the largest number of tariffs yet in an escalating trade dispute. Politico says China is scheduled to implement their plan on Monday to coincide with the new U.S. duties. A total of $113 billion in U.S. exports are now subject to tariffs while duties will be in place on $253 billion in Chinese products. Trump is prepared to go even higher, saying Tuesday that he’s ready to impose duties on another $267 billion in Chinese imports. The new tariff list includes meat products, including lamb and salted beef; frozen and canned produce like peas and spinach; refined ingredients like soybean, corn, and coconut oil, to processed oats; along with coffee, teas, and liquors. Ag groups weren’t happy with Trump’s decision to take things further. “As we head into the 2018 harvest season for corn and soybeans out here in Iowa, this escalation of the trade conflict couldn’t have come at a worse time,” says Iowa Ag Secretary Mike Naig.

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Is Canada Purposefully Dragging Out NAFTA Negotiations?

As Canadian Foreign Affairs Minister Chrystia Freeland returned to Washington, D.C. for continued NAFTA negotiations, a prominent Congressional member says time is running out. House Majority Whip Steve Scalise (Skah-LEESE) says sentiment is building among members of Congress that Canada is purposefully dragging out the negotiations for political purposes. “Members of Congress are concerned that Canada doesn’t seem to be ready or willing to make the concessions necessary for a fair and high-standard agreement,” Scalise says. The Chronicle Herald Website in Canada says Scalise, who represents Louisiana, notes that Congress absolutely wants Canada in the agreement with Mexico and the U.S. Mexico negotiated an agreement with the U.S., doing so separately from Cinda, much to the consternation of the Canadian government. However, Scalise says Congress isn’t willing to wait for an indefinite amount of time for Canada to come to an agreement with the other two countries. “Mexico negotiated in good faith and in a timely manner,” Scalise says. “If Canada doesn’t cooperate in the negotiations, Congress won’t have any choice but to consider options on how to move forward and stand up for American workers.”

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Florence Washing Away Cotton and Tobacco Crops

The record-setting and still-rising floodwaters of Hurricane Florence are wreaking havoc on cotton and tobacco crops in the Carolinas. North Carolina Farm Bureau spokesperson Lynda Loveland says it’s going to take some time to get an accurate picture of the damage to flooded tobacco, cotton, corn, soybean, and sweet potato fields because they’re still flooded. Bloomberg says it’s going to take awhile for that much water to recede. Leaves were blown off tobacco plants across the area and are now lying in puddled fields. Sweet potato fields are waterlogged but experts say the root crop vegetable is hardy and may withstand the conditions if the fields are able to drain soon. Most of the bolls on about 2,000 acres of cotton plants hadn’t opened yet. The fiber on the ones that did open was drenched, which means the quality will be very poor. Water pulls out the oil in the fiber, reducing the yield, which will be detrimental to the crop’s quality. Some of the counties hardest hit by Florence are in the southern part the largest tobacco-growing region in North Carolina. Many other large tobacco-growing counties had damage as well.

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Global Pork Production Shifting Because of Virus

A Rabobank report says the African Swine Fever virus has shifted the outlook for the global pork industry. The virus was first found in China and has now been confirmed in Belgium. Rabobank says the potential for the spread of the disease around the world has increased exponentially. Twenty cases have been confirmed in China. The Rabobank report says, “It’s unlikely that this disease has been contained, with additional cases expected to be reported.” China has placed restrictions on animal transportation in the country, which means significant disruptions in pork supplies. Surplus pork supplies are weighing the markets down as producers are rushing to market their healthy animals. Chinese pork prices have risen 40 percent since the country put the curbs in place on transportation. The report predicts a supply gap of two million to three million metric tons may emerge. Rabobank also says finding the virus in feral hogs in Belgium may make it much harder to contain the spread if those wild animals carry the virus into other countries.  

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Iowa Allowed To Join WOTUS Lawsuit

A North Dakota federal judge says Iowa can temporarily stop enforcing the 2015 Waters of the U.S. rule. The Associated Press says several ag and business groups challenged the law in court, seeking to halt its implementation. A news release from Iowa Governor Kim Reynolds’ office says the rule went back into effect in Iowa in August. A federal court in South Carolina ruled the Environmental Protection Agency improperly suspended the WOTUS rule. With the decision, the court reinstated the rule where it hadn’t already been previously enjoined by a lawsuit. Iowa wasn’t one of the states in the original lawsuit. Governor Reynolds asked the court to allow Iowa to join in on the suit. By being allowed to join in, Iowa can postpone enforcing WOTUS until the court proceedings are complete. The rule is now on hold in 28 states. “Iowa farmers and small business owners will not be burdened by this federal overreach while we continue fighting to permanently end WOTUS.” While ag and business groups oppose the rule, it’s currently supported by many environmental groups in the U.S.  

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USDA Helping to Improve Rural Infrastructure in 13 States

Assistant to the Secretary of Rural Development Anne Hazlett announced that the USDA is investing $385 million to improve rural electric service in 13 states. “Reliable and affordable electricity is undeniably a necessity in today’s world,” Hazlett says. “The USDA is committed to being a strong partner in keeping our rural communities connected to this essential infrastructure. USDA is making the investments through the Electric Infrastructure Loan Program. USDA says the project will help improve the quality of life for rural residents in Arkansas, Colorado, Indiana, Iowa, Minnesota, Missouri, New Mexico, North Carolina, Ohio, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Texas, and Virginia. The investments that USDA is making include nearly $43.7 million for smart grid technology to increase system efficiencies. Smart grid includes computer applications, two-way machine-to-machine communications, as well as other tools designed to increase the reliability and efficiency of electric power systems.

SOURCE: NAFB News Service

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