READ the NAFB’s National Ag News for Wednesday, April 17th

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READ the NAFB’s National Ag News for Wednesday, April 17th

U.S. Agriculture Disappointed in EU Trade Talks Without Ag

U.S. agriculture is disappointed in the European Union’s failure to include agriculture in trade talks with the United States. “Agriculture will certainly not be part of these negotiations,” European Union Trade Commissioner Cecilia Malmstrom said earlier this week while announcing the EU is ready to begin trade talks with the United States. The two sides seek an agreement before the end of this year. Pushback from U.S. agriculture includes ag state senators such as Chuck Grassley of Iowa, who threatens and deal that excludes agriculture would be “unlikely” to win approval in Congress. The American Soybean Association called the EU announcement a disappoint. Soybeans exported to the EU in 2017 were valued at $1.6 billion. ASA President Davie Stephens says U.S. farmers had “high hopes” the negotiations could address longstanding concerns regarding EU policies on agricultural biotechnology and pesticide laws. ASA is urging the Trump Administration to push back against the EU and insist that agriculture issues are addressed in trade discussions.

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Some Fear China Trade Deal Will Leave Farmers Worse Off

Some in agriculture fear a trade deal with China will leave farm trade worse off than before the trade war began. Bloomberg News reports that some farmers are unnerved by Trump’s enthusiasm for tariffs and his tendency to pick industry winners and losers. Mark Powers, president of the Northwest Horticultural Council, says tariffs are expected to remain on cherries this year, adding the retaliatory tariffs costs Northwest cherry growers $96 million last year, as sales dropped 41 percent. President Trump has previously said of the negotiations that tariffs on China would be lasting “a substantial period of time” after an agreement is entered. Agriculture groups fear that would allow China to continue retaliatory tariffs on U.S. agricultural products. However, Jim Sutter of the U.S. Soybean Export Council told Bloomberg it doesn’t seem likely the tariffs would continue, stating he “would be surprised if the Chinese found that an acceptable solution.” Talks between the U.S. and China continue as the Trump administration seeks to wrap up an agreement soon.

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Hyde-Smith Bill Would Codify Oversight, Regulation of Cell-based Meats

Senator Cindy Hyde-Smith of Mississippi has introduced a bill that would give the Department of Agriculture responsibility to regulate, inspect, and label cell-cultured meat and poultry. The Cell-Cultured Meat and Poultry Regulation Act of 2019 introduced last week, would codify the responsibilities of the USDA Food Safety and Inspection Service and the Food and Drug Administration over food products grown in laboratories from animal cell cultures. USDA and the FDA have already agreed to a joint regulatory effort regarding cell cultured meats. Hyde-Smith, who serves on the Senate Agriculture Committee and chairs the Subcommittee on Livestock, Marketing, and Agriculture Security, stated, “The fact that FDA and USDA have agreed to identify necessary changes to statutory authority confirms the need for a legislative fix as I’ve proposed.” The legislation would place cell-cultured food products derived from livestock and poultry under FSIS jurisdiction by amending the Federal Meat Inspection Act and the Poultry Products Inspection Act, the primary laws governing FSIS jurisdiction and oversight responsibilities.

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Farmland, Flooded Fields, At Risk of Value Declines

Farmland damaged by spring flooding is at risk of declining values, according to Farmers National Company, a farm management, real estate and auction service. The company says there will be short term and longer-term effects on flooded farmland and its value, depending on if farmers can plant and grow a crop this year, and future production forecasts. Farmers National notes that the value of farmland depends on the income it can generate and how consistent production is. The less income the land produces, and the riskier production is each year, will impact long term land values. The concerns come as the Kansas City Federal Reserve Bank last week reported that overall, risks of further declines in farmland values have increased. Those risks, among other indications, include a recent increase in farmland sales in some states that suggests a decline in farmland values could be on the horizon. A Persistently low volume of land sales has contributed to the stability of farmland values through an economic downturn.

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USDA Data Shows Cover Crop Acreage Up 50 Percent

The adoption of cover crops as a key soil health practice continues at a rapid rate throughout the country, according to new data from the 2017 Census of Agriculture. The Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education Program says new data shows cover crops were planted on 15.4 million acres in 2017, up 50 percent over five years. Iowa led the way with a 156 percent increase during that period, and a number of other states also more than doubled their cover crop acreage, including Missouri, Illinois, Ohio, Mississippi, Nebraska, Vermont and Arizona. Dr. Rob Myers of the organization says the growth in cover crop acreage is “providing major dividends in soil health and conservation.” He called the need for cover crops for soil protection “paramount, as our whole food system depends on having healthy soils.” The Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education Program has funded nearly 1,000 research and education projects on cover crops in the 30 years since it was first funded by the Department of Agriculture.

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Treated Seed Stewardship Campaign Launched

A coalition of agriculture groups is urging farmers who are using treated seed this spring to follow label guidelines to protect pollinators. Farmers today rely on neonicotinoid (nee-oh-nick-uh-tin-noyd) products as a tool to manage insects, increase yields and boost revenues. But, as farmers continue their commitment to the environment and pollinators, the Growing Matters coalition is providing tips for handling treated seed as part of it’s BeSure! Campaign. The coalition urges farmers using treated seed to follow handling, storage, planting and disposal guidelines on product labels, as well as using seed flow lubricants that minimize dust. It’s also important to thoroughly clean equipment used to plant and handle treated seed as to keep all treated seed out of the commodity grain channels. Growers can learn more tips online at www.growingmatters.org/besure, powered by the Growing Matters coalition, National Pesticide Safety Education Center and American Seed Trade Association.

SOURCE: NAFB News Service

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