READ the NAFB’s National Ag News for Wednesday, January 2nd

Sponsored by the American Farm Bureau Federation

READ the NAFB’s National Ag News for Wednesday, January 2nd

Partial Government Shutdown Closes FSA County Offices

Farm Service Agency offices are officially shut down as of the close of business on Friday, December 28th. What does that mean for the second round of Market Facilitation Payments? A DTN report says producers who have already certified their 2018 production acres with FSA will continue to get their payments. For those who weren’t able to get the certification completed, they will have to wait until the government shutdown is over. Up until last Friday, farmers were able to apply for the payments without having finished harvest. While official signup was scheduled to end on January 15th, farmers are still able to certify their 2018 production until May 1st. USDA isn’t completely halted and several services are ongoing despite the shutdown. A USDA news release says, “Certain activities will remain ongoing because they’re related to law enforcement, protecting life and property, or financed through other funding mechanisms. If the shutdown continues, the number of employees exempted from the shutdown will decrease. As funding for certain activities lessens, those activities will decrease.” Continuing services include meat, processed egg, and poultry inspection services. SNAP benefits are still going out to eligible households in January.

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Trump, Xi Express Optimism on Upcoming January Trade Talks

President Donald Trump took to Twitter to talk about a recent phone call with Chinese President Xi (Zhee) Jinping. The president noted that the two had what he called a “long and very good call,” saying that a possible deal between the two nations is making good progress. A Reuters article says it’s been a rough 2018 for the world economy as the trade war between the two largest economies has disrupted the flow of hundreds of billions of dollars’ worth of goods. Trump and XI agreed to a 90-day truce that began on December 1st, while they attempt to negotiate a deal that would bring months of escalating tensions to an end. “Just had a long and very good call with President Xi of China,” Trump said on Twitter. “Deal is moving along very well. If made, it will be very comprehensive, covering all areas, subjects, and points of dispute. Big progress being made!” Chinese state media also reported the two had a phone conversation. Xi was quoted as saying teams from both countries are working to implement a consensus reached with Trump in Argentina. The Chinese Ministry says the countries have endured storms in their relationship before, but also say strong ties are important to both economies and to ensuring stability in the global economy.

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China Buys First-Ever U.S. Rice

For the first time in history, China has bought rice from the U.S. A report in the South China Morning Post says customs officials approved U.S. rice for import last week. U.S. rice officials don’t know just how much China will buy but they do know it’s a market they’ve been trying to break into for a long time. Johnny Sullivan of Producers Rice Mill, Incorporated, in Arkansas says, “China is a monster of a market. That fact is based on the consumption rate of rice in China. The unreal part of the story is China could chew through the entire U.S. rice crop in 14 days.” Ag Day TV says the news comes as leaders from both China and the U.S. will get together for trade negotiations in January. The two sides began a temporary cease-fire in December by agreeing to postpone any tariff increases for 90 days while they try to negotiate a settlement. After a six-month lull, China had recently begun purchasing U.S. soybeans again, so there is some optimism as the negotiations draw near.

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Pacific Rim Trade Deal Kicks Off, Means Big Cuts In Tariffs

A large trade deal comprised of 11 nations became official on Sunday, December 30th after years of back-and-forth talks. A Straits Times Dot Com article says the first six countries to ratify the pact are now enjoying steep cuts in tariffs. Consumers in countries like Singapore and Japan will benefit from the pact, called the Comprehensive and Progress Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership. For example, a Japanese retailer has already cut the price of Australian beef at its supermarkets. Australia’s Prime Minister, Simon Birmingham, says the opportunities for his country are extensive. “They range from more Victorian wine and cheese being enjoyed on the slopes of Canada to more New South Wales prime beef being served up in Japanese restaurants.” Singapore’s Trade and Industry Minister says the country’s businesses will enjoy a lot more access to markets across the region. In a statement, the Minister says, “We’re looking forward to the rest of the participants ratifying the agreement so the full force of the pact can go into effect.” The trade deal was led into existence by Japan. It contains all but just 22 of the more than 1,000 original provisions in place before the U.S. pulled out in the early days of the Trump Administration.  

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U.S. Soybeans Making Big Progress in EU

While U.S. soybean sales to China suffered in 2018, they’re making some headway across the Atlantic Ocean. On the 50th anniversary of the soybean industry’s development efforts in the European Union, the United States has outpaced Brazil as the number one supplier to the continent. The website U.S. Soy Dot Org says America is also the top soybean supplier to the Middle East and North Africa. Farmers and industry officials say the challenge is to make sure the growth that began as a result of the trade dispute with China keeps going in the right direction. Brazil soybeans are currently fetching a big premium. Government data says Brazil soybeans are getting $89 per metric ton more, on average, than U.S. oilseeds were last month, due to Chinese demand. A drought also dramatically cut production and meal output in Argentina, the world’s top exporter in 2017. As a result, U.S. soybeans and meal exports are up 243 percent and 105 percent, respectively, to Europe and the Middle East/North Africa regions. Countries like Egypt, Spain, Saudi Arabia, and many others have either increased their soybean purchases or have become new customers.

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California Citrus Growers Avoid Freeze Damage

The Packer Dot Com says temperatures in the Central Valley of California dipped to a recent low of 27 degrees. However, no damage to the citrus crop is expected. The California growers even say the cold temps can lead to better flavor and fruit quality. Lows across the valley ranged between 27 and 31 degrees. Growers actually ran wind machines in preparation for the temp drop. A news release from California Citrus Mutual says, “In the event of a hard freeze, the combination of a wet grove floor and using wind machines can elevate the temps by five degrees.” The cold weather took place on the morning/nights of December 28 and 29. But, below-freezing temps only lasted from three to four hours, which isn’t long enough to cause damage. The crop has grown through high summer temperatures and a mild winter so far, and the colder temperatures are actually welcome because they allow citrus to stay on trees longer and extend the season. The release from California Citrus Mutual says Mandarin oranges are more susceptible to below-freezing temperatures. Navel oranges can tolerate temperatures as low as 27 degrees

SOURCE: NAFB News Service

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