READ the NAFB’s National Ag News for Thursday, October 4th

READ the NAFB’s National Ag News for Thursday, October 4th

Sponsored by the American Farm Bureau Federation

Congress Could Press for NAFTA Vote This Year

Republicans could push for a swift vote on the U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement if Congressional power swings to Democrats in the November elections. Some Republicans in the Senate are pushing to approve the new trade deal this year, if the party loses majority in the House. The USMCA will replace the North American Free Trade Agreement, and if one of the chambers switches sides, some believe Democrats would vote against the agreement because it’s a “win” for President Donald Trump. Bloomberg reports not all Republicans are sure that a vote will happen this year, given that trade is such a volatile issue in the U.S. and that NAFTA has faced widespread criticism. However, Senate Finance Committee chairman Orrin Hatch has said the Senate “ought to move on NAFTA as soon as we can.” The Committee is the top panel in the Senate responsible for trade. A vote this year would be part of a busy lame-duck session that would include budget bills and the farm bill.

USMCA Deters China’s Efforts of FTA’s With Mexico, Canada

A clause in the upgraded and renamed North American Free Trade Agreement nearly forbids deals with “non-market” countries, such as China. The language deep in the new U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement marks another blow in the tit-for-tat trade war the U.S. is leveraging against China. Reuters points out that the clause, which has stirred controversy in Canada, fits in with U.S. President Donald Trump’s efforts to isolate China economically and prevent Chinese companies from using Canada or Mexico as a “back door” to ship products tariff-free to the United States. Specifically, the provision specifies that if one of the current North American Free Trade Agreement partners enters a free trade deal with a “non-market” country such as China, the others can quit in six months and form their own bilateral trade pact.

USCMA: Turkey and Poultry Trade Changes with Canada

In another win for U.S. agriculture, the upgraded North American Free Trade Agreement includes expanded access to the Canadian market for U.S. chicken and turkey products. Dairy stole the show in the negotiations, but the U.S. will also gain the market share in turkey in poultry if all three countries approve the new U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement. Meat industry publication Meatingplace points out that for chicken, the new tariff rate quota is 57,000 metric tons by year six of the agreement, growing one percent for an additional ten years. The United States will still be eligible to export up to 39,844 metric tons under Canada’s World Trade Organization tariff rate quota regime. For turkey, Canada has agreed to provide the United States and other country members of the WTO access equivalent to no less than 3.5 percent of the previous year’s total Canadian turkey production, allowing the United States to export additionally up to 1,000 metric tons of turkey products each year for the next 10 years than the current access and potentially more thereafter.

DTN Poll: Farmers Continue Supporting Trump

A recent poll by DTN-The Progressive Farmer finds rural Americans continue supporting President Donald Trump. The poll asked rural residents if, given a chance, they would cast their ballots differently than they had in 2016. More than 70 percent said no. Further, the survey shows support for Republican candidates, for President Trump, himself, and for his trade policies. In addition to showing support for President Trump, 45 percent of participants in the poll are satisfied with the direction the Trump administration is taking farm policy. Only 30 percent, however, believe that President Trump devotes enough attention to rural America, while only nine percent of respondents believe that Congress does. Overall, 72 percent of respondents indicated that issues that affect their farm are more important to them than political party. A DTN spokesperson concluded that: “With their support of President Trump and his farm policies, it is possible that the Republican Party will fare well this November.”

Farm Real Estate Levels Remain Near Record Highs

Farm real estate values remain near record levels set in 2015, despite a significant drop in farm income and a weak farm economy. The Department of Agriculture’s Economic Research Service says the value of U.S. farm real estate is a critical barometer of farm financial performance, that’s because farm real estate, including land and the structures on the land, generally accounts for over 80 percent of U.S. farm sector assets, and often serves as collateral for farm loans. After a long period of appreciation following the farm crisis of the 1980s, farm real estate values have leveled off in recent years. USDA research indicates that, in general, the substantial growth in farm real estate values since 2000 was attributable to high farm earning potential and historically low interest rates. In 2000, after adjusting for inflation, average U.S. farm real estate values were $1,541 per acre—and reached a historic high of $3,178 per acre in 2015. By 2018, U.S. farm real estate values averaged $3,140 per acre, with the leveling off in recent years coinciding with declines in farm sector income.

Most Americans Confused About GMOs

A new survey by GMO Answers shows many Americans remain confused over genetically modified organisms, and that this lack of knowledge may be driving overall uncertainty and discomfort. However, the organization says concern and confusion do not equate to rejection, as the survey finds that nearly the same number of Americans want to learn more about GMOs. The survey’s key findings, which come shortly before the United States Department of Agriculture plans to publish its final bioengineered food disclosure labeling standard, found that 69 percent of consumers are not confident they know what GMOs are, and less than a third of Americans, 32 percent, say they are comfortable with the use of GMOs in their food products. Further, roughly three in five Americans are interested in learning more about GMOs. Finally, 43 percent of consumers believe that food sold in the U.S. is safe for consumption, leading GMO answers to conclude there is widespread distrust as a whole when it comes to food production, despite the U.S. having the safest food supply in the world. GMO Answers conducted the survey to better understand public perceptions.

SOURCE: NAFB News Service