READ the NAFB’s National Ag News for Thursday, October 11th

READ the NAFB’s National Ag News for Thursday, October 11th

Sponsored by the American Farm Bureau Federation

E15 Challenges Ahead

President Donald Trump paved the path for year-round E15 sales this week, but the road ahead is promised to be challenging. The President directed the EPA to move forward with allowing year-round sales, but the National Wildlife Federation says the move is not allowed under the Clean Air Act. Collin O’Mara, president and CEO of the National Wildlife Federation says the action “is simply not legal” and would “accelerate the vast damage to our wildlife habitat.” The Federation is a long-time critic of the Renewable Fuel Standard, and pointed to an Environmental Protection Agency report that they say shows the RFS “was responsible for widespread negative natural resource impacts.” The Federation is one of many organizations considering legal challenges. Ranking House Agriculture Committee Democrat Collin Peterson, like several other ag-lawmakers and farm groups, applauded the announcement. Peterson, however, stated the action “will likely get tied up in the courts,” adding that action by Congress to support the move is “the most reliable avenue to finally getting this done.”

Roberts: We’re Making Progress on Farm Bill

Senator Pat Roberts says lawmakers are making progress on the farm bill. The Senate Ag Committee Chairman told Politico this week “we’re making progress,” adding “I know I keep saying that, but it’s true.” None of the 12 titles of the farm bill are completed, but Roberts says the commodity title is “close” to being finished. However, Ranking Senate Ag member Debbie Stabenow reported that she and House Ag leader Mike Conaway remain at odds over moving funding around in the commodity title. Conaway allegedly wants to move a small amount of funding from Midwest-based crops to cotton. The so-called “Big Four” leaders of the conference committee, Senators Roberts and Stabenow along with Representatives Conaway and Collin Peterson,  are waiting for review by the Congressional Budget Office before forging quickly ahead, according to Roberts.

EU Ready for Talks over U.S. Beef

The European Union is readying to negotiate with the United States to allow the U.S. to increase beef exports to EU countries. The European Commission sought approval from its 28-member states last month to open negotiations with Washington. The approval process is expected to be completed next week to allow negotiations to begin. Beef is separate from an arrangement between President Trump and the EU to consider a free trade agreement. Reuters reports that a negotiated agreement on beef would settle a dispute that dates back to 1981 when the European Union banned the use of growth hormones in meat across the EU, including imports. The EU says it will look to raise the U.S. share of hormone-free beef imports into Europe, but would need to convince other countries considered to be “substantial” suppliers to accept less. In 2009, the EU and the U.S. agreed to a quota system for hormone-free beef imports, but U.S. share of the quota has slipped from 100 percent to 30 percent.

U.S., Canada Trade Officials Discussing Next Steps

The U.S. and Canada are discussing the next steps for approving the U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement that will replace the North American Free Trade Agreement. U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer visited Canada this week meeting with his Canadian counterpart, Chrystia Freeland. A spokesperson for Freeland told Bloomberg News the meeting I was an “opportunity to take stock of the next steps on USMCA.” The countries expect to sign the agreement by November 30th, when Mexico’s incoming president takes office. However, lawmakers from all three nations would need to approve the trade pact. Once in place, USMCA promises increased market share to Canada for U.S. dairy. However, Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue said any gains in USMCA are dampened by the U.S. steel and aluminum tariffs, adding that he is an advocate for removing the tariffs against Canada and Mexico.

Agriculture Leaders Unite to Oppose USDA Relocation Plans

A coalition of agriculture leaders is urging the Trump Administration to reconsider a plan to reorganize and relocate Department of Agriculture agencies. USDA Secretary Sonny Perdue announced in August that the department’s National Institute of Food and Agriculture and Economic Research would be moved out of Washington, DC, to save money and be closer to the agricultural community. The plan would also place ERS under the Office of the Chief Economist. USDA also said the move would help tackle ERS’s poor job retention rate, which was significantly higher than the USDA as a whole. However, the coalition wrote to Congress this week warning of likely damage to U.S. agriculture and urging the administration to abandon the plan. The coalition was organized by the American Statistical Association and includes 56 former USDA and federal statistical agency officials. The group questioned how moving the agencies to a location outside DC could bring them closer to the agricultural community they serve, beyond the general area they jobs would be located.

USDA Ready to Respond to Hurricane Michael

The Department of Agriculture is ready to respond to Hurricane Michael. The department this week reiterated its commitment to rural communities that may be impacted by the Hurricane, saying state and county offices stand ready and eager to help. Hurricane Michael began landfall in the Florida panhandle region Wednesday and was expected to impact Georgia, along with the Carolinas, where farmers are still assessing damages from Hurricane Florence. The Federal Emergency Management Agency is coordinating the federal response to support the affected states. Meanwhile, USDA’s Forest Service coordinates the response of interagency firefighting personnel, equipment, and supplies mobilized in support of FEMA’s response efforts. USDA recently launched a disaster assistance discovery tool through its new website that walks producers through five questions to help them identify personalized results of which USDA disaster assistance programs can help them recover after a natural disaster.

SOURCE: NAFB News Service