READ the NAFB’s National Ag News for Thursday, March 7th

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READ the NAFB’s National Ag News for Thursday, March 7th

USDA Predicts Net Farm Income Increase

A new forecast from the Department of Agriculture predicts net farm income will increase ten percent in 2019. The forecast from the USDA Economic Research Service predicts net farm income will increase $6.3 billion in 2019 to $69.4 billion, following a 16 percent decline in 2018. Meanwhile, net cash farm income is forecast to increase $4.3 billion, or 4.7 percent, to $95.7 billion. In inflation-adjusted 2019 dollars, net farm income is forecast to increase $5.2 billion, and net cash farm income is forecast to increase $2.7 billion. Overall, farm cash receipts are forecast to increase $8.6 billion to $381.5 billion in 2019. Crop cash receipts are forecast to be $201.7 billion in 2019, an increase of $4.0 billion. Total animal and animal product receipts are expected to increase $4.6 billion. Receipts for milk, cattle/calves, corn, and fruits/nuts are forecast to increase largely due to expected higher prices for those commodities.

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USDA Announces Additional Steps to Stop African Swine Fever from Entering U.S.

The Department of Agriculture has announced additional steps to keep African swine fever from entering the United States, even as the disease spreads internationally. The steps strengthen the protections announced last fall after the deadly swine disease reached China. USDA says the goal remains to protect our nation’s swine industry from the disease. The new measures include training additional beagle teams with Customs and Broder Patrol to identify pork products, expand screening of arriving products into the United States, increase inspection of garage feeding facilities, develop reliable testing procedures for the virus in grains and feeds, and heighten producer awareness. USDA says the steps are in continued cooperation with Canada and Mexico on a North American coordinated approach to ASF defense and response. ASF is a highly contagious and deadly viral disease affecting both domestic and wild pigs in all age groups. It is spread by contact with the body fluids of infected animals. It can also be spread by ticks that feed on infected animals.

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Trade Gap with China Reaches All-time High

As the Trump administration works towards an agreement with China to end the tit-for-tat trade war, the federal government Wednesday reported the trade deficit in goods with China set a record in 2018. The trade gap rose to $419.2 billion in 2018, from the previous record of $375.5 billion in 2017, according to the U.S. Commerce Department. Trump imposed billions of dollars of tariffs on China in the last year to pressure the nation to enter trade talks with the United States. Those trade talks could reach an agreement at the end of this month, but the damage from the trade war remains. China imposed tariffs on U.S. agriculture products, causing further market harm to U.S. producers. Meanwhile, the report shows the U.S. exported a record $147.4 billion worth of food, feeds and beverages in 2018. The U.S. also set record export levels to more than 50 countries, including Mexico and Japan.

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Mexican Farmers Call for Mirror Tariffs on U.S. Ag Products

Mexican farmers are urging mirror measures on U.S. farm imports of yellow corn, poultry and other products to counter decades of subsidized imports from the United States. Reuters reports Mexico is currently working on an updated list of products imported from the U.S. on which to possibly apply a second round of tariffs in response to U.S. measures imposed on Mexican steel and aluminum by the Trump Administration last year. Mexico’s Deputy Minister for Foreign Trade told reporters Mexico knows “the U.S. agricultural sector is what hurts the United States’ government the most.” U.S. farm leaders, including Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue, have called for an end to the section 232 steel and aluminum tariffs on Mexico and Canada, arguing the retaliating tariffs negate the benefits of the recently negotiated U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement that will replace the North American Free Trade Agreement.

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Farm Groups Demand Justice for North Carolina Hog Farmers

A judgment stemming from a $50 million verdict must be overturned, according to farm groups appearing in a federal appeals court in Richmond, Virginia, this week. Last year, juries in three separate trials in Raleigh, North Carolina, awarded punitive damages of more than $500 million to neighbors of North Carolina hog farms. Plaintiffs claimed the odor and truck noise related to the farms should be declared a nuisance. The first judgment from these trials is the subject of the recent appeal. But, runaway damages awards based on commonplace and highly regulated farm activities would cause enormous harm to farmers and rural communities, according to a  brief filed by the American Farm Bureau Federation, National Pork Producers Council, North Carolina Farm Bureau Federation and North Carolina Pork Council. Attorneys noted the North Carolina Right to Farm Act, which recognizes that normal farming practices do not constitute a nuisance, insulates farmers from these types of suits.

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Pig Farmers Pack 900 Meals for Orlando-Area Children

Kicking of the Pork Industry Forum in Orlando, members of the National Pork Board helped pack 900 meals to feed hungry children in the area. NPB partnered with the Second Harvest Food Bank of Central Florida to provide the meals. NPB President Steve Rommereim says that “While we have important business to attend to, we are never too busy to give back to communities.” Second Harvest Food Bank’s Hi-Five Kids Pack program will distribute the meals. Since 2006, the program supports educators seeking a solution to students who came to school sick and unable to learn on a Monday because they had not eaten since their school lunch the previous Friday. Producer delegates from across the country are in Orlando this week for the annual National Pork Industry Forum. The business meeting allows directors and staff of the National Pork Board to hear directly from Pork Act delegates appointed by the U.S. Secretary of Agriculture.

SOURCE: NAFB News Service

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