READ the NAFB’s National Ag News for Tuesday, April 16th

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READ the NAFB’s National Ag News for Tuesday, April 16th

U.S. Talking Trade with Japan This Week

Trade talks are underway between Japan and the United States this week as Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer meets with Japan’s Economic Advisor. Agriculture complaints are “front and center” according to Politico, ever since President Trump withdrew the U.S. from the then-called Trans-Pacific Partnership. The Trump administration is expected to push for similar concessions for U.S. agriculture as seen in the TPP. The Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership, called the CTPP, replaced the original agreement the U.S. backed away from, giving U.S. agriculture’s competitors a market advantage. Japan will be seeking market access in return, which could include growing markets for its specialty agricultural products. The preliminary talks are expected to wrap up early this week. For now, there’s little word on what objectives the Trump administration has for any deal with Japan, with the expectation that talks this week will surface more details.

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2018 Farm Bill Increases Limits and Makes Other Changes to Farm Loans

Higher limits are now available for borrowers interested in farm loans from the Department of Agriculture. USDA announced last week the increase would help farmers purchase farms or cover operating expenses. The 2018 Farm Bill increased the amount that producers can borrow through direct and guaranteed loans available through USDA’s Farm Service Agency, and made changes to other loans, such as microloans and emergency loans. FSA Administrator Richard Fordyce called farm loans “increasingly important” to farmers and ranchers “as natural disasters, trade disruptions and persistent pressure on commodity prices continue to impact agricultural operations.” Key changes include increasing the Direct Operating Loan limit from $300,000 to $400,000. The Direct Farm Ownership Loan limit increased from $300,000 to $600,000, and the Guaranteed Farm Ownership Loan limit increased from $1.429 million to $1.75 million. Producers can now receive both a $50,000 Farm Ownership Microloan and a $50,000 Operating Microloan. For more information on FSA farm loans, visit fsa.usda.gov.

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Farm Bill Status Update: Dairy Programs to Open Soon

In an update on the 2019 Farm Bill, the Department of Agriculture has provided target dates for dairy programs. In the announcement, Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue stated, “we still have a lot of work ahead of us,” but added USDA is diligently working on completing the process. Specifically relating to dairy in Title One of the farm bill, USDA says the Farm Service Agency will begin offering reimbursements to eligible producers for Dairy Margin Protection Program premiums paid between 2014 and 2017 by May first. The Office of the Chief Economist has entered into an agreement with the University of Wisconsin to develop a Dairy Margin Coverage decision tool that will be available to producers by May first, as well. FSA will open sign-up for the new Dairy Margin Coverage Program beginning June 17, providing coverage retroactive to January 1, 2019, with applicable payments following soon after enrollment. Additionally, USDA says Agriculture Risk Coverage and Price Loss Coverage program elections by producers for the 2019 and 2020 crop years should be available beginning in September of this year.

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USDA Announces Changes to Future WASDE Reports

The Department of Agriculture Monday announced changes to future World Agricultural Supply and Demand Estimates Reports. Starting with the May 10 issue, USDA announced price range forecasts will be eliminated in favor of single price points for all crops and livestock. USDA says the international Supply and Use tables for Crops will include an aggregate value for “World less China,” representing the balance sheet values outside of China. Also, the ordering of countries and lists of Major Importers/Exporters will be updated to eliminate outdated aggregations, such as “Former Soviet Union,” and better reflect current trade patterns. The World Agricultural Supply and Demand Estimates, or WASDE, is prepared monthly by the USDA World Agricultural Outlook Board based on information from USDA and other domestic and foreign official sources. It includes forecasts for U.S. and world wheat, rice, and coarse grains, oilseeds, and cotton. U.S. coverage is extended to sugar, meat, poultry, eggs, and milk.

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Midwest Lawmakers File Tax Relief Bill for Disaster Victims

Midwest lawmakers last week introduced a bill that would provide tax relief for disaster victims stemming from events this spring. Senator Chuck Grassley of Iowa announced the Tax Relief Act of 2019. The bill would provide tax deductions for individuals and businesses affected by federally declared disasters that occurred between January 1, 2019 and April 15, 2019, including flooding in the Midwest and tornadoes in the South. Benefits under the bill include special rules allowing access to retirement funds, a special credit for employee retention during business interruption, suspension of limits on deductions for certain charitable contributions, special rules for deductions for disaster-related personal casualty losses, and special rules for measurement of earned income for purposes of qualification for tax credits. Iowa Senator Joni Ernst joined Grassley and says the bill would “help provide important and badly-needed relief for Iowans in disaster areas.”

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USDA, Transportation, Provide Funding Assistance to Iowa

The Departments of Agriculture and Transportation are providing federal relief for parts of Iowa damaged by spring flooding. USDA announced Monday that Farm Service Agency offices in six Southwest Iowa counties are now accepting applications for the Emergency Conservation Program. Last week, FSA also announced that emergency grazing use of Conservation Reserve Program acres is approved in Iowa through May 14, 2019. Similar measures have been approved for Nebraska producers. Meanwhile, the Department of Transportation has made $9 million of emergency quick release funds immediately available from the Federal Highway Administration. The funds are to help Iowa repair road damages caused by flooding in Iowa. Requests for emergency relief funding for transportation repairs have reached approximately $90 million The “Quick Release” funds are intended as a down payment on the costs of short-term repairs while further damage assessment for long-term repairs take place. A major thoroughfare that connects Missouri, Iowa and Nebraska, Interstate 29, remains closed primarily due to extensive flood damages in Iowa.

SOURCE: NAFB News Service

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