READ the NAFB’s National Ag News for Thursday, January 31st

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READ the NAFB’s National Ag News for Thursday, January 31st

Sponsored by the American Farm Bureau Federation

& the Colorado Farm Bureau

U.S., China Begin Two Days of Talks

Wednesday was the first of two days that the U.S. and China would be face-to-face for high-level talks aimed at ending the trade war between the two countries. A Bloomberg article says the dispute is starting to cast a growing shadow over the two largest economies in the world. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin (Muh-NOO-chin) tells the Fox Business Network that he expects significant progress in the talks this week. Bloomberg says administration officials and others close to the talks say there are still several big issues that the countries remain far apart on. Sources also tell Bloomberg that U.S. officials are still working through an internal debate on how to proceed from this point forward and are ill-prepared for the talks. This week’s negotiations come after a period of turmoil in markets that has left both governments wanting to be able to point out progress and settle the nerves of worried investors. U.S. demands still include structural reforms in Chinese economic policy and America still wants concessions on issues like intellectual property. The talks will also cover Beijing’s recent pledge to buy more American goods, including large amounts of agricultural products. Sources familiar with the discussions say that President Donald Trump appears to want to strike a deal soon.

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Peterson Says Farm Bill “Is What It Is”

House Ag Committee Chair Collin Peterson says he’s worried the new farm bill won’t be able to provide adequate benefits to U.S. agriculture. While he admitted to those worries on Monday, he also said, “It is what it is.” The Hagstrom Report says Peterson first expressed those same concerns in December, just before the bill passed through Congress. At that time, Peterson said his specific concern was that the benefits wouldn’t be generous enough for farmers during a period of low commodity prices compounded by trade conflicts. Peterson also says bankers are telling him they are also “concerned,” but he also said agriculture is “going to have to live with it.” While farmers were able to overcome the problem of low prices thanks to big crops, Peterson said that farmers in part of his district weren’t able to do that because of poor crops. The House Ag Chair says he believes the new dairy provisions in the bill are “adequate.” Peterson also discussed climate change this week, saying he would consider the issue “if anyone comes up with effective ideas.” He also discussed biofuels policy, noting that agriculture had allied with environmentalists to write legislation on biofuels and ethanol. However, because cellulosic ethanol hasn’t taken off, environmental support for biofuels has diminished.   

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U.S. Dairy Fears Losing Japanese Market

The U.S. dairy sector is worried about access to the lucrative Japan market. Dairy groups and officials are sending a brand-new, industry-funded study to President Donald Trump, administration officials, and to members of Congress. Politico says the study stresses the need for expanding market access overseas. The report points out that the U.S. is the only major dairy-exporting country not included in one of two new trade deals with Japan. The report was commissioned by the U.S. Dairy Export Council and conducted by a Tokyo-based consulting company. The new report projects export losses for the U.S. dairy sector of up to $1.3 billion within 10 years because countries like Australia, New Zealand, and Germany all have better terms under the Trans-Pacific Partnership, as well as a new economic partnership with the European Union. The Dairy Export Council is also concerned that a potential trade agreement with Japan may get lost in the shuffle of other trade agreements. The White House is placing a higher priority on getting the U.S.-Mexico-Canada Free Trade Agreement through Congress, where it’s expected to face opposition by members of both major political parties.

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Global Feed Production Climbs Three Percent in 2018

The Alltech Global Feed Survey came out this week and showed that international feed tonnage grew by three percent in 2018. The total of 1.103 billion metric tons topped the 1 billion-mark for a third-straight year. The eighth annual survey covers 144 countries and 30,000 feed mills. The global feed industry is 14 percent larger than it was five years ago. The eight biggest producers include China, the United States, Brazil, Russia, India, Mexico, Spain, and Turkey. Together, these eight produce more than half of the world’s feed production and contain 59 percent of the world’s feed mills. Predominant growth came from the layer, broiler, and dairy feed sectors. Specific region results show that North America saw steady growth of more than two percent last year, with beef and broilers leading the growth at three percent each. The U.S. remained the second-largest feed producer in the world, behind only China. North America has the lowest feed prices in the world across all species. Elsewhere, Latin America was relatively stagnant last year while the European Union grew four percent. Africa continued a strong growth pattern with a five percent increase in feed production.

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Pork Producers Readying for Possible African Swine Fever in the U.S.

Many industry experts say it’s a “when not if situation” in terms of African Swine Fever reaching U.S. soil. Pork producers at the recent Illinois Pork Expo all agreed that ASF hitting the U.S. would be a disaster. Mike Haag is a past president of the National Pork Producers Council who says the U.S. pork industry is being proactive on keeping the virus out of American pork herds. “At this point, ASF in other countries has benefitted our industry from a demand standpoint,” he says. “However, if it does come to America it’ll be just the opposite. It will be devastating.” Illinois pig farmer Derek Dunkirk says he doesn’t think ASF in America is inevitable because America does a pretty good job with biosecurity. The Illinois Pork Producers message to their members at the Illinois Expo included preparedness. While it’s important to implement solid biosecurity protocols, Haag told producers it’s also vital to make sure their premise ID numbers are correct. “Make sure your addresses and barn locations are correct,” Haag says. “If the industry does ever get shut down by a foreign animal disease, it’s vital to have the correct information because that’s how all livestock will move through a state.”

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Crappie Masters Fishing Tournament Educates Boaters on Ethanol

The 2019 Crappie (CROP-pee) Masters Fishing Tournament Trail is underway and the Renewable Fuels Association and the National Corn Growers Association are co-sponsors. The first of 16 tournaments begin this weekend in Florida. Crappie Masters President Mike Valentine says they’re very happy to have the Renewable Fuels Association back as a co-sponsor. “We’ve done significant education outreach to the boating community on the benefits of 10 percent ethanol blends, and we’ve also helped push back against misinformation surrounding E15,” Valentine says. “Every Crappie Masters Tournament winning team has used E10 in their boats safely and with no reported engine problems.” Valentine says they plan to continue to work at dispelling myths propagated by ethanol’s opponents, and to support homegrown, environmentally-friendly ethanol as a great choice for the boating community. Robert White, VP of Industry Relations for the RFA, says, “Thanks to our partnership with Crappie Masters, with each passing year, more and more boaters learn about the benefits of clean, lower-priced, higher-octane ethanol. 10 percent ethanol has been used in all types of marine engines and the fuel blend has been approved for all marine engine manufacturers for the better part of 30 years.

SOURCE: NAFB News Service

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