READ the NAFB’s National Ag News for Wednesday, January 30th

Sponsored by the American Farm Bureau Federation

READ the NAFB’s National Ag News for Wednesday, January 30th

Peterson Preparing for Possible Second Shutdown

House Agriculture Committee Chair Collin Peterson is trying to get out in front of another possible government shutdown. The first government shutdown temporarily shuttered Farm Service Agency offices across the country. Politico says Peterson, a Minnesota Democrat, is exploring possible ways to keep the FSA running in case government leaders can’t come to a budget agreement. Peterson says he didn’t know that agency staff in charge of getting the mandatory farm bill programs up and running didn’t get to continue working on that during the funding lapse. Peterson is also trying to figure out if it’s possible to get arrangements in place for certain FSA workers to remain on the job during a potential shutdown. Peterson says farmers were asking him, “What’s going on? NRCS offices are open but FSA isn’t?” He was referring to the Natural Resources Conservation Service, which was able to keep full staffing during the partial government shutdown, thanks to leftover money from fiscal 2018. “That’s hard to explain,” says Peterson.

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EU Biodiesel Market Now Open to U.S. Soybeans

The European Commission made a couple of announcements important to U.S. soybean farmers. Conservation practices required for U.S. soybean production now meet European Union standards. Also, biodiesel produced from U.S. soybeans can now be used in the EU. The European Union requires biofuels to meet a set of sustainability criteria outlined in its Renewable Energy Directive. The U.S. soy industry has its own sustainability guideline called the Soybean Sustainability Assurance Protocol. With this week’s announcement, the EU formally acknowledges that the SSAP meets its rigorous sustainability requirements. Davie Stephens, a Kentucky soybean grower and American Soybean Association President, says, “U.S. farmers have long prided themselves on adopting newer and better methods for producing high-quality soybeans that are grown responsibly and sustainably. We’re pleased that the EU Commission has recognized our efforts by opening the door for SSAP-certified soybeans to be used in EU biodiesel.” The United States is the leading soybean supplier to the EU. While this announcement only applies to soybeans exported specifically for biodiesel production, the ASA sees this as a positive step toward enhancing its share in the EU marketplace. The EU’s decision will be in place until at least July 1 of 2021.

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Critical Dairy Insurance Policy Now Available

Sales are once again underway for the Dairy Revenue Protection policy, offered through the federal crop insurance program. The policy, which is managed by the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Risk Management Agency, had been put on hold during the partial government shutdown. Dairy Revenue Protection is designed to insure against unexpected declines in the quarterly revenue from milk sales relative to a guaranteed coverage level. The potential revenue is based on the futures prices for milk and dairy commodities and the amount of covered milk production that’s chosen by the producer. The covered milk production is then indexed to the state or region where the dairy producer is located. Producers can find more information on the Risk Management Agency’s website. Sales of the Livestock Risk Protection Policy has also resumed. It’s designed to insure against declining market prices. Producers have a variety of coverage options and insurance time periods to choose from.

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NPPC Urges U.S., China to Resolve Differences

As Chinese officials are in Washington, D.C. this week for trade negotiations, the National Pork Producers Council is urging the two countries to resolve their differences quickly. A Farm Journal’s Ag Web Dot Com article says the NPPC is also asking China to purchase a minimum of $3.5 billion in pork products over the next five years. China is the world’s number one pork consumer. That fact has made it a top destination for U.S. pork exports for the last several years. In 2017, the U.S. pork industry shipped $1.1 billion worth of product there, which made it number three on the list of the top pork export destinations. Industry experts say pork represents approximately 15 percent of China’s Consumer Price Index and could almost singlehandedly make a large dent in the U.S.-China trade imbalance. NPPC President Jim Heimerl says China has been a “tremendous market” for U.S. pork. “Without numerous trade barriers, they would likely be our number one export market,” Heimerl says. “Even without the preexisting barriers on U.S. pork, the 50-percent punitive tariffs have slowed our exports to a trickle.” U.S. pork producers now face tariffs of 62 percent on exports to China. An Iowa State University report says producers have lost $8 per hog, or more than $1 billion on an annualized basis, because of the 50 percent punitive tariffs.

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Judge Allows Controversial Evidence in Roundup Trials

A federal judge in San Francisco overseeing lawsuits against Bayer AG’s Roundup weed killer tentatively allowed controversial pieces of evidence in the first phase of the latest trials. A Reuters article says the U.S. District Judge called his decision “probably most disappointing for Monsanto,” the Bayer subsidiary that manufactures Roundup. The company continues to deny the allegations that glyphosate, the key ingredient in Roundup, causes cancer. Monsanto also says decades of independent studies have shown the chemical is safe for human use. With the judge’s decision, plaintiffs can now introduce some evidence of Monsanto’s alleged attempts to ghostwrite studies and influence the findings of scientists and regulators. In his decision, the judge said, “documents showing the company taking a position on the science or a study introduced during the first phase were super-relevant.” Monsanto had argued that much of the evidence was a “sideshow” that would distract jurors from the scientific evidence. Plaintiff’s lawyers contend that some evidence of corporate misconduct was without a doubt linked to their scientific claims of product safety. On Monday, the judge appeared to agree, saying it was difficult to draw the line between scientific evidence and allegations of corporate misconduct. He also questioned whether it would be fair if the jury didn’t get to hear about the company’s alleged attempts to influence scientists.

SOURCE: NAFB News Service

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