READ the NAFB’s National Ag News for Tuesday, October 23rd

READ the NAFB’s National Ag News for Tuesday, October 23rd

Sponsored by the American Farm Bureau Federation

Perdue Promises Five Percent Budget Cut as part of Trump Plan

Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue will help President Donald Trump reach his goal of reducing agency budgets by five percent next year. Perdue has promised to cut his budget five percent, as last week Trump asked every Cabinet agency except the Pentagon to make a five percent cut. During the meeting, Trump told the leaders to “get rid of the fat, get rid of the waste.” A Department of Agriculture spokesman said, “USDA stands with the president and his goal of being fiscally responsible with taxpayer dollars and will absolutely meet his target,” according to the Hagstrom Report. Perdue said following the meeting that USDA would participate in the Trump plan and that he thinks USDA will “be able to meet greater than the five percent target.” The five percent announcement followed reports that the government’s budget deficit has reached a six-year high.

Many Cities Interested in Hosting USDA Agencies

The Department of Agriculture says more than 130 cities have expressed interest in hosting USDA agencies that would move from Washington as part of a controversial reorganization plan. USDA says 136 entities in 35 states are interested in becoming the new homes of the Economic Research Service and the National Institute of Food and Agriculture. In August, Secretary Sonny Perdue announced that most ERS and NIFA personnel would be moving to outside the Washington area by the end of 2019 and invited interested parties to submit proposals. Perdue called the interest “overwhelming,” adding that it is “gratifying” states are stepping forward to prove “not all wisdom resides in Washington, D.C.” The entities expressing interest include educational institutions, nonprofit organizations, state development agencies, county development agencies, municipalities, and for-profit entities. Find the complete list of interested parties on the USDA website,

Federal Reserve: Farm Loan Volume Increasing

Large operating loans made by large agricultural banks led to a significant increase in farm lending in the third quarter of 2018, according to the Kansas City Federal Reserve Bank. The total volume of non-real estate farm loans was more than 30 percent higher than a year ago. A sharp increase in the volume of loans exceeding $1 million was a primary contributor to the increase in non-real estate farm lending. In the third quarter, the volume of loans larger than $1 million nearly doubled and accounted for almost 40 percent of total non-real estate lending during the reporting period. In particular, a majority of the increase was supported by loans used to fund current operating expenses. The increase in the size of loans also sharply increased the share of agricultural lending at large banks while interest rates on farm loans continued to trend upward.

Bankers Expect Farmland Prices to Continue Decline

Rural bankers expect farmland prices will continue to decline. In the latest Creighton University Rural Mainstreet Index, Midwest lenders on average estimated that farmland prices declined by 4.0 percent over the past 12 months and expect farmland prices to fall by another 3.2 percent over the next 12 months. An Illinois lender says “more than ever,” farmland values are extremely dependent upon quality and location. The farmland and ranchland-price for October sank to 34.8 from 37.5 in September. This is the 59th straight month the index has fallen below growth neutral 50.0. The overall rural economy index expanded to 54.3 from 51.5 in September. Organizer Ernie Goss says that while the rural main street economy is expanding outside of agriculture, “the negative impacts of tariffs and low agriculture commodity prices continue to weaken the farm sector.”

EU Cleared to Start Talks on Increasing U.S. Beef Imports

The European Union late last week agreed to allow negotiations with the U.S. to increase imports of U.S. beef to the EU. The move could help ease some transatlantic trade tensions, according to Reuters, which reports the EU says “finding a mutually beneficial solution to our longstanding dispute over beef would be a major step forward in improving” trade cooperation. The European Commission, which negotiates on behalf of the 28 EU nations, said it would open formal talks in the coming days on increasing the U.S. share of an existing 45,000-metric ton quota. However, the EU limits beef imports to beef that has not been treated with certain growth hormones. Further, beef is not part of the U.S. and EU trade talks formally announced last week to improve trade relations and remove tariffs. However, U.S. agriculture officials and the U.S. Trade Representative’s Office maintains that agriculture, in general, will be a part of those talks.

Japan Finds African Swine Fever in Travelers Suitcase from China

Japanese officials stopped a travelers luggage from China bound for Japan because of pork in the suitcase that later tested positive for African swine fever. Japan’s Agriculture Ministry announced the finding Monday of sausages in a passengers luggage that tested positive for the disease. African swine fever is a highly contagious disease spreading across China and other nations. The case in Japan is the first in the nation, and agriculture officials say there are no domestic cases of infections in Japan.  The passenger arriving on October first from Beijing was found to have about 1.5 kilograms of sausages which are prohibited from being brought into Japan. A Tokyo-based news agency reports the passenger was asked to abandon the sausages and they tested positive in the state’s genetic test conducted later. The U.S. has similar safeguards. Recently, a detection dog sniffed out a full roasted hog in Atlanta’s Hartsfield-Jackson International airport being transported by an international traveler. The Department of Agriculture trains the dogs in Georgia and is using them to protect the U.S. from African swine fever.

SOURCE: NAFB News Service