READ the NAFB’s National Ag News for Friday, December 14th

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READ the NAFB’s National Ag News for Friday, December 14th

China Soybean Purchase Larger Than Expected

China is officially buying U.S. soybeans again, which is good news for American agriculture. This week’s purchase amount was one for the record books. A Farm Journal report says the latest U.S. Soybean Export Sales Report from USDA shows that China bought 1,130,000 metric tons of soybeans. To give that amount some perspective, it’s the ninth-largest one-day purchase in ten years. It’s also the biggest Chinese soybean buy in the four years. It’s also the biggest soybean buy of this year, so far. President Trump told Reuters that, “They’re buying tremendous amounts of soybeans. They’re definitely back in the market.” Reuters says it seems to affirm the trade truce that the U.S. and China reached on December 1st. We still don’t know if China’s retaliatory tariffs on U.S. soybeans and other farm goods will be dropped as a part of the temporary truce. There’s also no word on whether or not the countries can resolve the longer-term disputes, including forced technology transfers and intellectual property theft within 90 days. That’s when President Trump said additional tariffs will go into effect and the trade war will resume

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Ag Groups Applaud Animal Health Provisions in 2018 Farm Bill

The National Pork Producers Council is pleased that the 2018 Farm Bill contains important mandatory funding for animal disease prevention and preparedness efforts. The five-year bill includes $120 million in funding for the first four years of the legislation going to animal health and disesase preparedness. At least $5 million a year will go directly to the National Animal Disease Preparedness Program. Money can go to a national disease vaccine bank; to the National Animal Health Laboratory Network, which provides disease and diagnostic support; and, through block grants, go to state efforts to prepare for any foreign animal disease outbreak. The Animal Agriculture Coalition is also pleased with the animal health provisions in the farm bill. “Livestock and poultry producers, working together with veterinarians, work hard to ensure the health of the animals they raise,” the coalition says in a statement. “They play a central role in feeding the nation’s families, as well as providing jobs that contribute to economic stability. That’s why producers and veterinarians agree that preventing the impact of devastating animal diseases must be a high priority.” The organization is pleased the bill provides funding for research into animal diseases, as well as the ability to respond if diseases are identified in the nation’s herds and flocks.

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Conservation Districts Approve New WOTUS Rule

Earlier this week, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and the Environmental Protection Agency announced rulemaking that includes a new definition of the Waters of the U.S. Rule under the Clean Water Act. The proposed rule is designed to revise the definition of WOTUS, in order to make sure the definition matches up with the Trump Administration’s Executive Order issued in February of 2017. Brent Van Dyke is President of the National Association of Conservation Districts. He’s pleased with the work done by the EPA and the Army Corps to address just how complex the definition of jurisdictional waters can be. “Locally-led conservation, including local decision-making, must be at the forefront of these clarification efforts,” he says. “That’s why the NACD has consistently stood against expanding federal jurisdiction under the Clean Water Act.” Van Dyke says they are optimistic the new rule will provide clarity and transparency around current WOTUS regulations and help landowners have a better understanding of exactly what is compliant with the law. The National Association of Conservation Districts says it will continue to work with the EPA and the Army Corps of Engineers to provide additional input as they complete the review of the proposed rule.

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Water Experts Digging Into New WOTUS Proposal

Water experts around the country are looking at the details of the Trump Administration’s proposed Waters of the U.S. rule. While the outlines are becoming clear, some of those experts tell Politico that there are different directions the administration could go when the final rule comes out next year. In written language before the actual proposal, the administration asks for comments on several specific alternatives. That’s something that might help the administration fight off expected legal challenges to a final rule, especially if it looks quite a bit different from the one proposed this year. The proposal would give protection to streams that flow year-round, as well as intermittent waterways that carry water only at certain times of the year. But the EPA and the Army Corps of Engineers ask commenters to weigh in on whether or not the definition should only cover perennial waterways. That would be a much bigger change than what the EPA is currently proposing. The text also asks for comments on whether protection should be given to water features that contribute less than intermittent flow. The proposed rule issued this week would dramatically shrink the number of wetlands protected federally by covering only those that touch or have a direct surface water connection with protected rivers, streams, and lakes.

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Grain Sales Top $400 Million at Export Exchange

The National Export Exchange conference in Minneapolis was profitable for the nation’s grain farmers. Grain buyers from 35 countries attended the conference. Those buyers report purchasing roughly $403 million worth of coarse grains and co-products, including dried distiller’s grains with solubles (DDGS), as well as feed grains. The biennial event was held in October. Buyers and end-users were polled while they were at the conference, as well as immediately after the conference, on their purchases. In total, conference attendees sold about 2.1 million metric tons of grains and co-products. The sales either took place at the conference or immediately prior to or after. “Bringing buyers and sellers together in this way is crucial to U.S. farmers right now,” says Tom Sleight, president and CEO of the U.S. Grains Council. “These sales show that buyers at Export Exchange 2018 were serious about making deals. Considering the international trade climate, we are pleased to see these numbers are holding steady.” Many buyers did admit that their purchasing strategies were more short-term than unusual, due in part to an uncertain relationship between the U.S. and China. However, the buyers also said they valued their long-term partnerships with U.S. suppliers. Those same buyers also report that they are still considering future purchases.

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Dicamba Rules Different Between States

The Environmental Protection Agency released its federal labels for three products that contain dicamba back on October 31st. A DTN report says different state-level restrictions are developing in rural states. For example, Arkansas is considering imposing a May 20th cutoff date, as well as requiring large protective buffers for sensitive crops. Indiana and Minnesota both submitted 24(c) special local needs labels to the EPA with proposed cutoff dates of June 20th. South Dakota has submitted a similar 24(c) proposal with a June 30th cutoff date. North Dakota is considering a similar proposal. Other states are said to be considering additional requirements. Some of the proposals include additional record-keeping rules, as well as state-specific application requirements. DTN says EPA approval of the different requirements is not a sure thing. EPA recently told state regulators they don’t want them to submit 24(c) labels to create restrictions in addition to those federal requirements that already exist. The agency’s reasoning is the practice of doing that may not be legally sound. Only four states have said they won’t add any additional requirements to the federal label.

SOURCE: NAFB News Service

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