READ the NAFB’s National Ag News for Thursday, January 10th

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READ the NAFB’s National Ag News for Thursday, January 10th

Sponsored by the American Farm Bureau Federation

& the Colorado Farm Bureau

Trade War Increases U.S. Tariff Collections

U.S. tariff collections increased, expectedly, in 2018 as President trump waged a trade war on China, along with other tariff heavy trade policies. The U.S. government collected  6.7 billion more in customs duties in fiscal 2018 than in the previous fiscal year, according to the Treasury Department’s final monthly statement for fiscal 2018. That’s more than the estimated $5 billion needed to build the Trump border wall that’s shuttered the federal government for now 20 days. But, as Politico reports, the trade policies have perhaps cost the U.S. more than it’s received. The data from the Treasury Department does not include the $12 billion aid plan for farmers through the Market Facilitation Program. Further, economists say the extra revenue isn’t actually paid by foreign governments, but rather American companies importing those products into the United States.

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Trump Nominates Wheler to Permanently Head EPA

President Donald Trump Wednesday formally nominated Andrew Wheeler to head the Environmental Protection Agency. Wheeler, who assumed the role of acting EPA administrator following the resignation of Scott Pruitt, has done “a fantastic job,” according to Trump. The nomination will be considered by the Senate, which narrowly confirmed Wheeler as EPA deputy administrator by a vote 53-45. Bloomberg News calls Wheeler a politically savvy former energy lobbyist and Republican Senate aide who shares Trump’s approach to environmental regulation. Wheeler said he was “honored and grateful” for the nomination. President Trump has previously said in November that he would make the nomination of Wheeler. At the time, Renewable Fuels Association President and CEO Geoff Cooper called the move a positive step for the biofuels industry. He says Wheeler has been more open and transparent in managing the Renewable Fuel Standard.

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Senate Expected to Block House Funding Bills

House Democrats were expected to push through more individual spending bills late this week that Senators will not consider. A sign of partisan politics and split leadership, the House was expected to move spending bills that would secure funding for federal agencies, including the Department of Agriculture, during the ongoing government shutdown. The piecemeal of spending bills is largely seen as a symbolic move, as Senate Republicans and leadership will block the action. The White House has already rejected the plan, noting that it falls short of Trump’s goal of border security, or funding for a border wall. Both sides, however, the Republican-led Senate and President Trump, and the Democratic-led House appear to be digging in their heals on the issue, refusing to budge. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said earlier this week “the senseless uncertainty and chaos of the Trump shutdown must end, now.”

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USDA SNAP Plan Secures February Funding

The Department of Agriculture has secured February funding for the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program. USDA will rely on a provision of the just-expired Continuing Resolution, which provides an appropriation for programs like SNAP and child Nutrition to incur obligations for program operations within 30 days of the CR’s expiration. States will need to take action to issue February benefits on or before January 20, 2019. The move appears to show that the Trump administration is preparing for the government shutdown to continue through much of January, if not longer. Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue says the action was directed by President Trump, and that it “works and is legally sound.” The plan was announced following reports that the program was close to running out of reserve funding.

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China Ag Trade Improving with Biotech Approvals

Trade talks progressed and U.S. agriculture trade with China continues to improve following China’s purchase this week of U.S. soybeans, and the announcement of biotech approvals for export. China approved five genetically modified crops for import earlier this week. The approved products included a DowDuPont corn variety, along with Enlist soybeans, and a soybean variety developed by Bayer CropScience and Syngenta, but now held by BASF. The other approvals include GM canola traits from BASF and Monsanto, now Bayer CropScience, according to Reuters. The companies applauded the approvals, but some noted that many other products remain stuck in China’s approval system. The trade talks between the U.S. and China were extended for a third day this week, another sign that talks are progressing positively, and reports are swirling that the U.S. and China will meet in the U.S. in mid-February to continue the negotiations.

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New Study Shows U.S. Pork’s Long-term Sustainability Progress

A new study from the University of Arkansas confirms that America’s pig farmers are producing a product that has become increasingly sustainable over the past five decades. According to the new study, A Retrospective Assessment of U.S. Pork Production: 1960 to 2015, the inputs needed to produce a pound of pork in the United States became more environmentally friendly over time. Specifically, 75.9 percent less land was needed, 25.1 percent less water and seven percent less energy. This also resulted in a 7.7 percent smaller carbon footprint. National Pork Board president Steve Rommereim says the study is “a great barometer of our environmental stewardship over the years and gives us a solid benchmark for future improvements.” The Checkoff-funded study used a comprehensive life-cycle assessment approach and used the best available methodology along with a field-to-farm gate approach.

SOURCE: NAFB News Service

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