READ the NAFB’s National Ag News for Monday, March 18th

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READ the NAFB’s National Ag News for Monday, March 18th

U.S. Beef Agreement with EU Still Needs Approval

The European Union currently has a quota in place that allows up to 45,000 tons of hormone-free beef imports. Thanks to a new agreement between Washington and Brussels, 35,000 of those tons will come from U.S. beef producers. Politico says it’s important to remember the deal still needs approval from EU nations and the United States. As part of the new agreement, Brussels wants Washington to declare a final settlement in the original 2009 World Trade Organization dispute over the EU’s hormone-treated beef ban. The guaranteed share of the quota for American producers would be phased in over a five-year period. Australia, Uruguay, and other major U.S. competitors could still file a WTO lawsuit against the European Union, claiming they’re being discriminated against in favor of U.S. exports. While the EU is still against including agriculture in a potential deal with the U.S., Politico says the EU is trying to ease tensions with President Donald Trump through “one-off” moves like the beef deal, buying more soybeans, and approving oilseeds for use in European biofuel production.

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Bomb Cyclone Clobbers Farm Country

An intense winter storm known in weather-forecasting lingo as a “bomb cyclone” of snow and wind has stranded a large number of drivers and shut down roads across the Rockies and Plains States. MPR News Dot Org says blizzard conditions were expected to continue in multiple states through the end of last week, including Wyoming, Colorado, Nebraska, North and South Dakota, as well as parts of Minnesota. The storm even reached as far south as Texas. There was widespread flooding, power outages, as well as numerous canceled flights. The Nebraska Lincoln Journal Star reports that very heavy rains have trapped cattle in fields, forcing ranchers on dangerous rescue missions in 40-mile-per-hour winds. Faulkton, South Dakota beef producer Troy Hadrick posted a video on Twitter this week saying they had to turn around twice because of heavy snow and wind when trying to get to their barns to feed cows. Visibility was so low that they couldn’t see where they were going. Colorado Public Radio says the National Guard was called out to help stranded drivers on highways. Photos of flooding in states like Nebraska are popping up all throughout various social media platforms.

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States Dealing With Hemp Differently

More than a month after being introduced, the Idaho House Agriculture Committee voted to advance a bill that would legalize hemp production in the state. With just two committee members voting no, the bill now heads to the House floor for debate. During the debate over the bill while in committee, members pointed out that hemp is an industrial use product. The Idaho Statesman Dot Com says debate even reached back into the history books, saying that there was 162 tons of hemp on the Mayflower when it came to the U.S. The bill’s proponents say there are currently 26,000 uses for the hemp product. At the other end of the spectrum, South Dakota Governor Kristi Noem vetoed a hemp production bill that was passed by the legislature. The Argus Leader Dot Com says she reiterated her support for farmers during tough economic times, but also says legalizing industrial hemp “opens the state up to consequences that are too large a risk right now.” She’s not sure what impact the legislation will have on the state as a whole. Noem also vetoed the bill because it would have legalized CBD oil. She says states shouldn’t legalize CBD oil until it’s been approved by the Food and Drug Administration.

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U.S. Ethanol Consumption Drops for First Time in 20 Years

Between 2017 and 2018, U.S. ethanol consumption dropped for the first time in two decades. The Renewable Fuels Association says the decline follows years of rising numbers of waivers being handed out to oil refiners by the Environmental Protection Agency in order to subvert the requirements of the Renewable Fuels Standard. The waivers have destroyed demand for at least 2.6 billion gallons of ethanol. National Farmers Union President Roger Johnson says U.S. farmers and ethanol producers are struggling through the most difficult economy in years while the Administration continues to undermine its own promises to support the ethanol industry. “The actions on the part of the Trump Administration to subvert the will of Congress, undermine the positive growth of the U.S. biofuels industry and destroy demand for U.S. farm products is appalling,” Johnson says. “The President has promised family farmers for more than two years to advance the biofuels industry, and thereby to expand markets for U.S. farm products.” Johnson points out that the president’s actions, as well as those of his EPA, are to blame for family farmers losing significant markets. “The handing out of these waivers to large corporations must end immediately,” Johnson says, “and the demand that has been destroyed to date must be made up in future RFS obligations.”

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Study Shows Ag Plays a Big Role in the U.S. Economy

A new study shows that agriculture plays a big role in the success of the overall U.S. economy. More than one-fourth of the nation’s job total and more than one-fifth of the nation’s economy are tied, either directly or indirectly, to the food and agriculture sectors. A coalition of 23 agriculture groups commissioned the economic impact study that came out last week. It’s the foundation of a new website called Feeding the Economy. Among some of the bigger report highlights, it shows that the total number of food and ag job come in at 45.5 million. The total wages amount to $2.06 trillion, with total taxes on the income at just over $913 billion. Agriculture exports total $154.4 trillion. The total food and industry economic impact is $7.06 trillion. Senate Ag Committee Chair Pat Roberts says people are more interested in learning about the food they eat, but folks in agriculture must also ensure those same people know the value of what farmers and ranchers do. “Everyone can benefit from knowing about the great contributions of agriculture to our economy, to our rural communities, to our security, and to our natural resources,” Roberts says. “We need resources like the Feeding the Economy Dot Com website report to better tell this story.”

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4-H and FFA Students May Get to Keep More Income

A recently introduced House bill is designed to put more money in the pockets of young people in agriculture. It would allow 4-H and FFA students ages 21 and younger to keep more of the modest income they earn. The students could then turn around and put the money they earn toward higher education or future agricultural projects. The Student Agriculture Protection Act of 2019 (H.R. 1770) would create a tax exemption on the first $5,000 of income students earn from projects completed through either 4-H or the FFA. The American Farm Bureau Federation supports the measure, saying the long-term sustainability of agriculture depends on talented young people pursuing careers in farming and ranching, as well as related agricultural fields. “Student agricultural projects encourage interests in fields of study that will provide the next generation of farmers, ranchers, food scientists, agricultural engineers, agronomists, horticulturalists, and soil scientists,” says AFBF President Zippy Duvall.

SOURCE: NAFB News Service

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