READ the NAFB’s National Ag News for Friday, December 28th

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READ the NAFB’s National Ag News for Friday, December 28th

U.S. and China Will Be Face-To-Face in January

Two people familiar with the matter tell Bloomberg that U.S. officials will travel to Beijing on January seventh to talk trade with Chinese officials. Deputy U.S. Trade Representative Jeffery Gerrish will lead the Trump Administration’s team to China for the talks. A Chinese Ministry of Commerce spokesman did confirm that the two sides will get together in January but didn’t provide a specific date for the talks to take place. The January meeting will be the first time the two sides have held face-to-face discussions since President Trump and Chinese President Xi (Zhee) Jinping agreed to a 90-day truce during da meeting in Argentina. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin (Muh-NOO-chin) did tell Bloomberg the two sides have had phone discussions since then. Bloomberg says the meeting adds to signs that the two largest economies in the world are cooling off trade tensions. Beijing recently announced a third round of tariff cuts, lowering the duties on more than 700 goods starting January first. Two people in Beijing with knowledge of the discussions told Bloomberg that China isn’t clear on exactly what the U.S. wants. President Trump has agreed to hold off on $200 billion in additional tariffs while negotiations are taking place.  

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Trade-Aid Payment Deadline May Need To Be Extended

The majority of the U.S. Department of Agriculture hasn’t been disrupted by the partial government shutdown yet. If the dispute between Congress and the White House drags on, it could potentially affect how quickly the second round of trade aid payments get to farmers. Farm Service Agency offices remain open through Friday (today). That’s when money appropriated in previous years runs out. Farm Journal says if the standoff continues into January, it will more than likely affect the timing of at least a portion of the MFP payments. The article says if the dispute does drag on into early January, FSA will likely have to extend the application deadline for those payments, which is currently January 15th. That would be one consequence of any potential work stoppage at USDA. There are also some major reports that could be disrupted if the shutdown drags on. USDA would not get to issue some major reports, including the daily export sales numbers. That means it will have an impact on some major agricultural data.

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South American Soybean Production May Put a Damper on 2019 U.S. Exports

Upcoming trade negotiations between the U.S. and China in January and the possibility of trade conflict resolution rallied prices after the G-20 summit in Argentina. However, Todd Hubbs of the University of Illinois says changes in the export market look to be minimal in the months ahead, even with China buying more beans from the U.S. “The potential for strong South American soybean export competition in the marketing year is the limiting factor in expanded U.S. soybean exports,” says Hubbs, an agricultural economist. “That’s in spite of any possible trade resolution with China.” The USDA World Production report estimates crop production in the major South American soybean-producing countries to be 7.02 billion bushels. Hubbs says that forecast is likely lower than what the real final number will be, due in large part to optimum growing conditions in Brazil. Overall, Hubbs says the prospects for a large South American soybean crop look very good, on top of an already excellent U.S. crop.

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NASS Collects Nearly Half-Million Census of Ag Questionnaires Online

The National Ag Statistics Service wrapped up its Census of Agriculture collection in 2018. The agency plans to release the new up-to-date Census data in 2019. “Over the course of 2018, NASS conducted the single-largest federal agricultural data collection in the United States with an improved questionnaire and asked some new questions to document changes and emerging trends in American farming,” says NASS Administrator Hubert Hamer. “These efforts, along with the partnership of hundreds of farm organizations across the country, and participation by hundreds of thousands of producers who completed the census, provide public data to tell the changing story of agriculture since 1840.” NASS received 445,000 responses online, a 57 percent increase from the 283,000 responses in 2012. The overall national response rate from the more than three million known and potential farms and ranches across the United States was 71.8 percent. That number was down from the 74.5 percent in the 2012 Census of Agriculture. The new Census of Agriculture results will include first-time-information on military service, food marketing practices, and on-farm decision-making. These additions will help to better capture the roles and contributions of beginning farmers, women farmers, and others involved in running a farm enterprise.

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China Relaxes Hog Transport Restrictions

The Chinese hog industry has been hit hard by the African Swine Fever virus. The disease has a nearly 100 percent mortality rate among infected animals. Earlier this year, the Chinese government placed transportation restrictions on moving hogs in provinces that had ASF outbreaks. As a result, pork supplies are running low in certain areas. Chinese officials have relaxed those restrictions to make sure the country has adequate supplies. Breeder pigs and piglets from provinces without infection can now be transported to other provinces. Breeders and piglets from infected provinces can now be moved anywhere within that province. Hogs in infected areas of China can be moved to large slaughterhouses if the farm they were raised on meets certain biosecurity requirements. The Chinese Ministry of Commerce wants to grow its hog supplies ahead of the Chinese New Year and the Spring Festival in early 2019. China is home to the world’s largest hog herds, containing 55 percent of the world hog population. Forty percent of those are called “backyard hogs,” which makes the disease that much harder to contain.

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Food Banks Struggling With Too Much Milk

A USDA program designed to buy and distribute almost $50 million in dairy products is overwhelming food pantries in Iowa and Illinois. An Associated Press article says River Bend Foodbank CEO Mike Miller says about 80,000 half-gallons of milk will be sent to food banks across the Quad City (Iowa) region through March. The large rise in milk donations comes from a USDA program designed to help dairy farmers caught in the middle of a trade dispute between the U.S. and several key trading partners. Retaliatory tariffs have cost American dairy farmers more than $1 billion since May. The USDA is buying the milk to help dairy farmers facing low milk prices and an oversupply of milk. The USDA is distributing the milk that would have been sold overseas to food banks across the country. “It’s certainly helpful to farmers who are hurt by tariffs placed on their products going into China,” Miller says. “It’s also a huge help to hungry people in our communities.” He says it’s challenging because milk has such a short shelf life, so it has to move quickly. Some food banks also lack adequate storage for the large number of dairy donations and don’t have a large enough staff to help distribute the milk quickly.

SOURCE: NAFB News Service

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