READ the NAFB’s National Ag News for Thursday, December 6th

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READ the NAFB’s National Ag News for Thursday, December 6th

Peterson: Farm Bill Could be Passed Next Week

The Ranking Democrat of the House Agriculture Committee predicts the farm bill will be considered next week. Representative Collin Peterson of Minnesota told reporters this week the bill is nearly finalized and should be filed Monday, with House consideration Wednesday and Senate consideration Thursday. Peterson says the bill would rename the Margin Protection Program and change the way it operates in an effort to better help dairy farmers. He says dairy farmers “got the best deal” out of the agreement, and “they needed it.” The bill includes another provision that will refund half the premiums paid under the MPP program “because everybody thought they got ripped off.” Peterson also says of the agreement in principle that it would raise the Conservation Reserve Program, or CRP, acreage by three million acres, but reform how it works. He says there are also changes in how yield is calculated in the Ag Risk Coverage and Price Loss Coverage programs. Full details of the bill will be made available next week.

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Steel and Aluminum Tariffs a USMCA Roadblock

Steel and aluminum tariffs against Canada and Mexico remain a roadblock that would limit the impact of the U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement. Politico says the tariffs could prove to be a huge obstacle for congressional passage of the deal next year, as lawmakers have expressed displeasure with the duties remaining in place, despite a new trade agreement. The U.S. is facing industry and agricultural retaliatory tariffs on more than $15 billion worth of goods. Agriculture industry analysts say the tariffs would negate any benefit from the trade agreement. Negotiations to remove the tariffs are ongoing, with some expecting the tariffs to be replaced with quotas. U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer said any deal to eliminate the U.S. duties should be “fair” to Canada and Mexico, but maintain “the integrity of the president’s steel and aluminum programs.”

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Activists Groups Target Kansas Law Protecting Livestock Owners Property Rights

A coalition filed a lawsuit this week in Kansas challenging the state’s law that protects the property rights of livestock owners. The Animal Legal Defense Fund, Center for Food Safety, Hope Sanctuary and others argue that the law violates the First Amendment by deterring activists from undercover investigations at animal facilities. Meat industry publication Meatingplace reports the groups have popularized the phrase “ag gag” to describe such laws. The Kansas law was enacted in 1990 and is the oldest of its kind in the country. The Animal Legal Defense Fund claims the law “exists solely to protect the financial interests of industries that abuse animals.” The Animal Defense Fund also led a coalition that saw significant parts of similar laws in Utah and Idaho struck down. Lawsuits against such laws are pending in Iowa and North Carolina.

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CoBank: Grain Elevator Margins Outlook

Average grain elevator margins are expected to be relatively normal this year for most of the Midwest. However, according to a new report from CoBank’, elevators should be cautious about the outlook, as several variables, such as trade issues, could affect elevator margins. Corn and wheat margins look solid on good carry and expected basis improvement, although corn ownership may be difficult for some elevators to obtain. Soybean margins for the year ahead face some uncertainties. Elevators are confident they will make a margin, but the question is when. Trade, logistics and export competitor production will be major factors impacting margins going forward. A CoBank economist says soybean basis appreciation will face resistance over the next year as “ample supplies and weak demand will continue to hobble the market.” Farmers will opt to store the crop as elevators seek to purchase it. Corn basis remains relatively strong considering the large crop, thanks to strong domestic demand. Ethanol use is expected to increase year-over-year, and feed demand will remain robust as cattle, hog and poultry numbers continue to increase. Amid this strong demand, elevators will likely see strong basis appreciation this year.

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Soil Health Partnership Expanding Associate Program

The Soil Health Partnership is launching phase two of its pilot Associate Program and will invite 75 farmers to enroll in 2019. The organization says the effort will enable more farmers to join the partnership in its mission of using science and data to support farmers in adopting agricultural practices that improve the economic and environmental sustainability of the farm. Joining the Associate Program during the pilot phase will give farmers access to no-cost soil health sampling and results. The program will provide data insights and reports on how making a change, like growing cover crops, impacts their soil. After enrolling 25 farms in the pilot program in 2018, phase two will bring the number of associate sites to 100. The partnership plans a full-scale launch of the Associate Program for 2020, when even more farmers can join. Learn more online at soilhealthpartnership.org.

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EPA, USDA Encourage  Collaborative Approaches to Address Excess Nutrients

The Environmental Protection Agency and the Department of Agriculture issued a letter this week to state and tribal co-regulators that encourages increased engagement to reduce excess nutrients in waterways. David Ross, Assistant Administrator for EPA’s Office of Water, says stakeholders have made significant progress reducing excess nutrients in some watersheds, adding “now is the time to build on that success.” EPA and USDA are committed to working with stakeholders to identify watersheds where market-based approaches can supplement traditional regulatory programs to reduce excess nutrients and improved water quality. The agencies say this work could include providing technical and financial support and participating in problem-solving at the local level to explore approaches including water quality credit trading, public-private partnerships, pay-for-success, supply chain programs, and more. USDA undersecretary Bill Northey says farmers are leading the way toward improved water quality by taking steps to decrease sedimentation and nutrient runoff, but adds ”we know more can be done.”

SOURCE: NAFB News Service

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