READ the NAFB’s National Ag News for Friday, January 25th

Sponsored by the American Farm Bureau Federation

READ the NAFB’s National Ag News for Friday, January 25th

Mexico Ambassador Predicts Quick Mexico USMCA Passage

Mexico’s new ambassador to the United States recently predicted Mexico could quickly approve the U.S.-Mexico-Canada Trade Agreement that replaces the North American Free Trade Agreement. Pro Farmer reports the ambassador said, “Our process will be faster than your process,” at a conference of city mayors in Washington, adding “now the USMCA needs to move forward.” The agreement only needs to pass one chamber, the Senate, of Mexico’s legislature. The agreement is also expected to easily gain approval in Canada once considered. The U.S. timeline, however, is uncertain as the necessary steps to move forward, economic impact reports from the U.S. International Trade Commission, could be delayed by the federal government shutdown. Those are due in March, if the process is to stay on-time. Then, the administration must submit to Congress a draft bill, and ultimately an implementing bill for consideration.

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Groups Urge Administration to Lift Metals Tariff

A diverse group of more than 45 organizations is calling for an end to U.S. tariffs on Canadian and Mexican aluminum and steel imports so that America can take advantage of the U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement. Farm groups, including the National Pork Producers Council, took part in a letter sent to the Trump Administration urging the administration to lift the tariffs so Canada and Mexico will rescind their duties on U.S. goods. The Trump administration on June 1, 2018, imposed a 25 percent tariff on steel and a ten percent duty on aluminum imports from Canada and Mexico. Both countries subsequently retaliated against a host of U.S. products. The groups want the metals dispute resolved soon so they can turn their undivided attention to generating congressional support for the USMCA. Farmers and food companies have been particularly hard hit by the Canadian and Mexican retaliation. Mexico’s 20 percent punitive tariff on U.S. pork, for example, has inflicted severe financial harm on America’s pork producers, according to NPPC.

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CoBank Releases 2019 Year Ahead Report

The U.S. economy is still performing well by most key measures. However, Global and U.S. economic prospects are weakening, and the agricultural economy shows few signs of an imminent comeback, according to a comprehensive 2019 outlook report from CoBank’s Knowledge Exchange Division. A CoBank spokesperson says trade uncertainty, rising debt levels and market volatility are “threatening to derail the global economy and creating difficult operating environments for U.S. agriculture.” The CoBank outlook report examines ten key factors that will shape agriculture and market sectors that serve rural communities throughout the United States. With agricultural commodity markets depressed by global supply abundance and ongoing trade disputes, farmers and ranchers face the difficult task of cutting production costs.  However, continually rising costs in agriculture are expected to squeeze producers, causing further margin erosion and financial stress in 2019. Further, the report says farmers should not bank on a fourth consecutive year of above-trend crop yields to make up for low commodity prices and rising costs.

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Farm Futures Survey Shows Planting Intentions

A survey by Farm Futures finds growers said they want to boost corn and cotton acreage, while cutting back on crops affected by China’s import tariffs on soybeans and sorghum. Farm Futures surveyed 626 farmers in December and January and reported soybean planting intentions of 84.6 million acres, down 5.5 percent from 2018, but more than the 82.5 million projected in estimates USDA released in November. Farmers intend to plant 90.3 million corn acres. While that would be up 1.3 percent from 2018 it was below the 92 million USDA projected in November. USDA doesn’t release its first survey of prospective plantings until March 29, though it will update the statistical guess at its annual outlook conference in February. The survey found spring wheat intentions of 12.5 million, down 5.3 percent from 2018. Only durum seedings could rise, moving to 2.5 million after a significant cutback in 2018. Meanwhile, cotton acreage could be up 4.1 percent this spring to 14.6 million thanks to better prices and soil moisture across the growing region.

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Farmer Registrations for 2019 Commodity Classic Outpacing Past Two Years

Farmer registrations for the 2019 Commodity Classic in Orlando, Florida, are trending well ahead of the past two years. As of January 23rd, farmer registrations were 17 percent ahead of the same period in 2018-and 23 percent ahead of 2017.  Commodity Classic will be held February 28 through March 2 at the Orange County Convention Center in Orlando. Wesley Spurlock, a Texas corn farmer and co-chair of the 2019 Commodity Classic, says “We’re extremely pleased with the response and excitement being generated for the 2019 Commodity Classic.” Those interested in attending Commodity Classic can avoid late registration fees by registering online by Thursday, January 28, 2019. To register, visit CommodityClassic.com. A complete schedule of events is also available on the website. Established in 1996, the event features a robust schedule of educational sessions, a large trade show, unique tours and the opportunity to network with thousands of farmers from across the nation.

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Farm Simulator Game Popularity Rising, Tournaments in Europe

The farming simulator community in Europe is growing in popularity to now include a competitive pro league with a €250,000 prize pool, according to PCGamer magazine. The Farming Simulator League from Giants Software, maker of the game, will host tournament games that will run on the latest game, Farming Simulator 19, and will expand from bale stacking, to a competitive mode where teams will challenge each other to determine who is the best on the field. The new endeavor will be “a full-fledged esports league” with ten tournaments across Europe. A spokesperson for Giants Software says, “We have lots of enthusiasts in our company who can’t wait to show the world that farming can indeed be fun and competitive at the same time.” Each event in the tournament series will offer prizes and circuit points that will take the best teams into a €100,000 grand finale. The game series is also available in the United States, though there are no known competitive leagues in the U.S. at this time.

SOURCE: NAFB News Service

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