READ the NAFB’s National Ag News for Monday, October 29th

READ the NAFB’s National Ag News for Monday, October 29th

Sponsored by the American Farm Bureau Federation

Perdue Talks Possible Trade Aid Adjustments

USDA is considering the possibility of adjusting direct payments to producers who’ve been hurt by the trade war. The adjustments may include factoring in hurricane damage after southeast U.S. producers were hit hard by hurricanes this year. A DTN report says Perdue asked USDA staff to look at the fact that they believe payments should be based on actual production and not country averages. “I think we’ve got to look at situations where people had good crops that were totally obliterated,” Perdue says in the DTN report. “These safety-net programs don’t factor that consideration into the equation.” Meantime, Perdue made clear that USDA will be announcing a second round of payments under the Market Facilitation Program to producers hurt by tariffs. He didn’t say when the announcement of another round of payments would be made. USDA officials had previously said it would be happening in December. The secretary said last week that he wanted to allay concerns that the second round of trade-aid payments might not be made to U.S. producers.


No USDA Trade Aid Planned For 2019

The Trump Administration has no plans in place for 2019 to give any more aid to farmers hurt by tariffs. Bloomberg says that’s based on assumptions that markets will recover even if the trade war with China keeps going. Ag Secretary Sonny Perdue made that announcement last week. Back in July, the administration announced it would deliver $12 billion in aid to farmers hurt by the tit-for-tat tariff war with China. Last month, farmers were able to apply for the first round of aid that totaled $4.7 billion. Perdue didn’t disclose when a second round of aid would be distributed. Perdue says, “The trade war impacted farmers after they made planting decisions for 2018. The market will equilibrate over a period of time.” He told farmers at a stop in Illinois last week that there is not an expected or anticipated market facilitation program for 2019. Perdue didn’t offer any guesses as to how much longer the trade war with China would continue, saying only that “the onus is on China.”


Grassley: No Trade Aid for Smithfield Foods

When it comes to just who is eligible for trade aid, Iowa Senator Chuck Grassley said Smithfield Foods shouldn’t be one of the companies which are eligible help. Smithfield is owned by Chinese conglomerate WH Group. Grassley took to Twitter and says, “Smithfield seems to be in a ‘can’t-lose’ situation thanks to American taxpayers.” A spokesman for the Iowa Republican, who’s also a member of the Senate Ag Committee, says Grassley is looking into the matter. Early last week, the Washington Post reported that Smithfield does qualify for trade aid assistance. The Post says the idea of a bailout program helping out Smithfield has angered small hog producers across the country. The Post report says the situation shows how difficult it is to craft relief programs and keep the payments exclusively in the hands of domestic companies. Companies that have long international reach make it difficult to ensure U.S. dollars stay in U.S. hands, regardless of their intended target. In an email, a USDA spokesman says the agency doesn’t have the ability to make sure relief money doesn’t eventually filter into Chinese hands.


Only Out of Control African Swine Fever Will Hurt U.S. Prices

A handful of economists tell Politico that the African Swine Fever outbreak in China and parts of Europe won’t have a major impact on U.S. exports. That’s due in large part to the fact that the outbreak has hit only a fraction of the massive Chinese hog industry. Chinese officials have culled hundreds of thousands of pigs from the nation’s herds since August, which sounds like a lot. However, that’s only a small part of the estimated 433 million pigs in China at the start of 2018. In fact, Politico points out that China has more hogs than the U.S. has people. If it gets to the point where China has to import pork, economists say it would turn to Canada or Europe first because of the 62 percent retaliatory tariffs on U.S. pork. If the disease gets out of control, China would effectively be forced to buy pork from the U.S., even with the high duty rates. Dermot Hayes of the Food and Agricultural Policy Research Institute at Iowa State University says that would only come about if “the situation got very extreme.” African Swine Fever still hasn’t been found in the U.S.


USDA/FDA Meeting on What to Call Cell-Cultured Meat

Politico says a recent two-day joint USDA/FDA public gathering on cell-cultured food technology boiled down to a simple question. If it looks like meat and tastes like meat, can you call it meat? During the public comment period, stakeholders offered opinions on what the new form of meat should be called and how it should be labeled, which is a critical factor in shaping public perception of the product. The food technology takes cells from animals and grows them into meat products like burgers, nuggets, fish, and sausages. Supporters say the products are effectively meat and should be labeled as meat. Mike Selden is CEO of Finless Foods, a cell-based seafood company. He says the term “lab-grown meat,” which has been widely used for some time now is “intensely misleading” and unfair. Traditional meat groups have made it clear they don’t want the new companies using their product name. Kevin Kester, National Cattlemen’s Beef Association President, calls the products “lab-grown fake meat” and says those manufacturers should not be permitted to use the term “beef.”


John Deere Gives Significant Grant to National FFA Organization

John Deere and the National FFA Organization have been in partnership for the past 75 years. To commemorate that, John Deere is making a $75,000 contribution to the FFA Living to Serve Platform. The funds are in addition to the wide range of FFA activities that John Deere already supports. Sam Allen, Deere and Company CEO and Chairman, says, “The FFA Living to Serve Platform inspires members to put leadership into action through service activities and prepares them to be responsible leaders in agriculture and many other professions in the future.” The Deere contribution provides support for FFA chapters to help build stronger communities through various service projects that address environmental responsibility, hunger, health and nutrition, community safety, and community engagement. John Deere is the longest-running corporate sponsor of FFA. They’re celebrating the partnership not only with the grant but with the presentation of a time capsule with 75 items donated by FFA members. Those items represent the past, present, and future of FFA, John Deere, and the agriculture industry.

SOURCE: NAFB News Service