READ the NAFB’s National Ag News for Tuesday, January 15th

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READ the NAFB’s National Ag News for Tuesday, December 15th

Sponsored by the American Farm Bureau Federation

Farm Bureau Experts Talk Trade for 2019

American Farm Bureau policy experts talked trade during a workshop at the organization’s 100th annual convention. Farm Bureau will be keeping an eye on a lot of things this year when it comes to trade. Dave Salmonsen is the organization’s senior director of congressional relations. He says the diverse impact of tariffs, the outcomes of free trade agreement negotiations, and the future relationship between the U.S. and China are all factors critical to growing exports in the future. Salmonsen talked about the new U.S.-Mexico-Canada Trade Agreement and said the ratification process “could be quick or it could be slow, but there’s a timeline that has to be followed.” Salmonsen said the U.S. has also begun trade negotiations with Japan, the European Union, and the United Kingdom. Trade negotiations between the U.S. and China are still ongoing. Farm Bureau economist and director of congressional relations Veronica Nigh was also on stage and talked about the economic impact of trade and tariffs. “95 percent of the world’s population is outside the U.S., so export markets are always our best opportunity for growth,” Nigh says. Overall, 20 percent of U.S. agricultural products are exported.

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Duvall Highlights Key Policies and Issues for 2019

American Farm Bureau President Zippy Duvall didn’t pull any punches during his keynote address to the organization at its 100th annual convention. An Agri-Pulse report says Duvall called 2018 a “terrible year” for American agriculture. Roughly 7,000 people were in the audience as Duvall said farmers experienced a “perfect storm this past year.” The only exception came on some of the organization’s key policy issues. There were a lot of victories on the agricultural policy front, including tax reform that lowered taxes for just about every farmer and rancher. That included a doubling of the estate tax for farm families, a long-sought goal for Farm Bureau. One of the biggest victories was passing the 2018 Farm Bill. One of the brightest spots on the regulatory front is the new Clean Water rule proposed by the Environmental Protection Agency. Duvall notes that, of the 28 deregulatory actions taken by the Trump Administration, half of them involve agriculture. Looking ahead to 2019, Duvall encouraged members to gear up for Farm Bureau tackling challenges like farm labor, trade issues, as well as infrastructure needs like broadband expansion.

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Potential Fireworks Ahead During U.S. and EU Trade Negotiations

The Trump Administration included a range of agricultural demands in its list of formal objectives for trade talks with the European Union. That list came out late last week when EU Trade Commissioner Cecilia Malmstrom was in Washington to visit with U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer. Malmstrom reiterated last week that the EU will not be negotiating on agriculture. However, Reuters notes that if a wide-ranging trade deal is to be accomplished, something will have to give. The administration wants to bring down tariff and non-tariff barriers to U.S. agricultural goods that are a result of European skepticism about American agricultural practices, especially biotechnology. Agriculture has been a big sticking point in recent attempts to establish a trade deal between the U.S. and EU. Malmstrom told reports after the meeting with Lighthizer that the parameters of the discussions haven’t been decided yet. The USTR push to crank up full-fledged negotiations comes after a meeting in December with ag groups that pushed hard for their products to be included in the discussion. Now that the U.S. objectives have been made public, the USTR could be ready to start negotiations as soon as 30 days from now.

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Shutdown Hitting U.S. Trade Rep’s Office This Week

Robert Lighthizer, the U.S. Trade Representative, has so far refused to say how the ongoing partial government shutdown will affect operations. Politico sources in the administration and industry sources all say the office likely starts furloughing employees as early as today (Monday). Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin says the shutdown likely won’t affect a visit by the Chinese Vice Premiere which is set for the end of the month. A Chinese delegation is scheduled to visit Washington, D.C., on January 30th to continue trade talks. It’s possible the shutdown will affect the USTR’s preparations for other major trade talks, including negotiations with Japan that could begin as soon as January 20th. A Japanese official tells Politico that there’s been no agreement to this point on a start date for negotiations and that the shutdown could temporarily stall the start of those important trade talks.

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Doubts About Overall Size of Brazil Soybean Harvest

Dry weather appears to be having an impact on the potential Brazilian soybean harvest, at least according to some market watchers. A weak El Nino pattern brought dry weather to central and southern Brazil in December. The below-normal rainfall combined with seasonally hot temperatures has led to some net-drying conditions in the key soybean producing states of Mato Grosso (MAH-toe GRAHS-so) and Goias (GOY-ahs). A Farm Journal report says those two states produce roughly 40 percent of the country’s soybean output. The net-drying conditions are seen by market experts as trimming the region’s potential soybean harvest. Last year, the Brazil soybean harvest hit a record number, coming in at 120.3 million metric tons. The December World Ag Supply and Demand Estimates raised its latest projection to 122 million metric tons for this year’s harvest. The recent weather pattern may prevent that number from going up between now and harvest. Mostly dry forecasts through the first half of January coincide with the key production stages of flowering and early pod-filling. A potential downward revision to Brazil soybean output would likely cause soybean prices to respond in spite of more-than-ample supplies around the globe.  

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Pig Farmer of the Year Nominations Open

The National Pork Board is accepting nominations for the 2019 Pig Farmer of the Year award. Nominations are open until Sunday, March 10. Interested folks can submit nominations at www.americaspigfarmer.com. The award goes to an American pork producer who demonstrates excellence in raising pigs while using the WeCare ethical principles, all while sharing his or her story with the public. “Like most pig farmers, I’m most comfortable in the barn,” says Patrick Bane of Illinois, the 2018 Pig Farmer of the Year. “However, my passion for pig farming is why I decided to be involved in this program. It allows me to help more people understand the story of modern agriculture.” Bane has participated in several events since being named America’s Pig Farmer of the Year. A panel of third-party judges will help determine who will win the 2019 award. The winner will be announced during October, which is National Pork Month. Anyone can nominate a producer or themselves. The public can also play a role in selecting this year’s winner by viewing short clips of the finalists on their farms at americaspigfarmer.com and voting for their favorite through the Pork Checkoff’s social media outlets.

SOURCE: NAFB News Service

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