READ the NAFB’s National Ag News for Tuesday, December 18th

READ the NAFB’s National Ag News for Tuesday, December 18th

Sponsored by the American Farm Bureau Federation

USDA Launches Second Round of Trade Mitigation Payments

The Department of Agriculture Monday announced the launch of round two of the trade mitigation payments to farmers. The payments are the second installment of trade aid through the Market Facilitation Program announced earlier this year as the U.S. and China were engaged in a trade war. The payments assist farmers “suffering from damage due to unjustified trade retaliation by foreign nations,” according to USDA. The payments were expected in early December but were then held by the White House Office of Management and Budget as China recently agreed to and began purchases of U.S. ag products. The first Chinese soybean purchase from the U.S. in six months brought questions on whether there should be a second round of trade aid, which could amount to as much as $6 billion. Perdue met with Trump in the White House late last week, noting that the payments were “a commitment that the president made.”

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Trump Expected to Sign Farm Bill This Week

President Donald Trump is expected to sign the 2018 farm bill this week, rumored to be Thursday. The President hinted over the weekend that he would sign the Agriculture Improvement Act of 2018, saying “we’ll get the farm bill,” at the White House Congressional Ball. Trump said the bill was in “very, very good shape,” according to the Hagstrom Report. The House and Senate each passed the farm bill last week and Trump must sign it before December 31, 2018, when commodity title programs start to expire. The 2014 farm bill expired at the end of September, but some programs were allowed to operate beyond expiration. Meanwhile, the Department of Agriculture needs further action by Congress this week. Funding for USDA and the Food and Drug Administration expire at the end of this week and federal agencies are preparing for a partial government shutdown as lawmakers and President Trump fight over spending and a border wall.

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U.S. Plans Tariff Increases on China if no Resolution Reached by March

The U.S. will increase tariffs on China next year if the two can’t resolve a trade dispute. U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer says the ten percent tariffs on $200 billion of Chinese goods will increase to 26 percent, if there is no resolution by the March deadline. Politico reports that it’s somewhat unclear what China is expected to do to avoid the higher tariffs, and that the heart of the U.S. complaints against Beijing’s trade practices focus on deeper issues like Chinese technology transfers and intellectual property policies. China has begun purchasing U.S. soybeans within the last week, a promised action stemming from the G20 Summit meeting. China also announced it would lower tariffs on U.S. auto imports. Lighthizer says the Trump administration is looking for structural changes to increase market access for American companies, protect intellectual property and end forced technology transfers.

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Zinke Leaving Interior Department

President Donald Trump will replace Department of Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke with a former oil lobbyist. Zinke will leave the federal post at the end of this year, after holding the position for roughly two years. Bloomberg News reports Deputy Secretary David Bernhardt is expected to be named acting secretary, a former lobbyist who has played a behind-the-scenes role driving Trump administration policies to expand drilling and soften wildlife protections. The Department of Interior oversees drilling, grazing and other activities on public land and in federal waters. The Department includes the National Park Service, Fish and Wildlife Service and Bureau of Land Management. Trump has said he will nominate a new secretary this week. The Senate previously confirmed Bernhardt as deputy secretary on a narrow 53-43 vote.

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Harvest Analysis indicates high levels of mycotoxins across the U.S.

Harvest samples from across the U.S. submitted to Alltech in 2018 show high levels of mycotoxins. Samples collected across the U.S. include corn grain containing multiple mycotoxins, with an average of 7.0 mycotoxins per sample — more than 3.9 mycotoxins more, on average, than what was seen during the same period in 2017. Mycotoxins are a concern for livestock producers, as they have toxic properties that impact feed quality as well as animal health and performance. Mycotoxins in U.S. corn silage samples are also showing an increase in occurrence this year, with an average of 6.8 mycotoxins per sample, compared to the 4.6 on average during the same time period last year. Alltech’s Alexandra Weaver says the extreme weather events this year led to the increased mycotoxins.

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Tennessee Corn Growers Vote in Favor on Statewide Checkoff

Corn farmers in Tennessee have passed a referendum to establish a corn checkoff program. The statewide vote authorized a one cent per bushel assessment of corn sold to support in-state promotions of corn. Of 474 total votes, 303 were in favor of the checkoff. The National Corn Growers Association says the checkoff will allow NCGA to fund research, market development and promote increased production and sales of Tennessee corn. Assessments will begin March 1, 2019. Producers who do not want to participate may request a refund of the assessed amount within 90 days of sale. Tennessee joins the other 20 top corn-producing states in the nation in collecting a checkoff. According to the United States Department of Agriculture’s National Agricultural Statistics Service, Tennessee farmers harvested approximately 740,000 acres of corn in 2017, generating more than $418 million.

SOURCE: NAFB News Service

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