READ the NAFB’s National Ag News for Monday, April 22nd

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READ the NAFB’s National Ag News for Monday, April 22nd

EU Targets U.S. Ag in Proposed Tariff List

The European Union revealed a list of $12 billion in potential tariffs on American imports. The Wednesday announcement came out in response to the U.S. not removing subsidies on Boeing aircraft. That move comes a week after the U.S. threatened to impose tariffs on EU imports worth $11 billion because of European Union subsidies given to French aviation manufacturing company Airbus. The U.S. Trade Representative’s Office says those subsidies adversely affect the United States. The European Union’s tariff threat appears to be targeted at American agriculture, one of President Trump’s biggest support bases. A good number of the proposed tariffs are aimed at ketchup, nuts, tobacco-seed oil, and many other food items. Back in 2011, the World Trade Organization found that Boeing received billions of dollars in subsidies from the U.S. Earlier this month, the WTO said the United States had not removed some of those subsidies. Other products like chocolate, frozen orange juice, vodka, video game consoles, and even bicycle pedals are also on the EU’s proposed tariff list.

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China Guilty of Violating World Trade Organization Responsibilities

A World Trade Organization dispute settlement panel found that China has administered its tariff-rate quotas (TRQs) for wheat, corn, and rice, inconsistently with its WTO commitments. The way China runs its TRQ administration isn’t transparent, not predictable, not fair, and it ultimately prevents TRQs from filling. In turn, that denies U.S. farmers’ access to China’s grain markets, a clear violation of its WTO commitments. A USDA release says the panel report is the second significant victory for American agriculture this year. Together with the victory against China’s excessive domestic support for grains, this will help American farmers compete on a more level playing field. China’s grain TRQs have annually underfilled. USDA estimates that if Chinese TRQs had been fully used, the country would have imported up to $3.5 billion worth of corn, wheat, and rice in 2015 alone. Secretary Sonny Perdue says, “Making sure our trading partners play by the rules is vital to providing our farmers the opportunity to export high-quality, American-grown products to the world. The announcement is another victory for American farmers and fairness in the global trade system.”

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Fed Report Shows Tough Conditions in Ag Country

The latest outlook from the Federal Reserve regional surveys shows low prices, severe weather, and trade tensions continue to weigh heavily on large segments of the agricultural economy. Politico says the Fed gathers information eight times a year on economic conditions in its 12 districts to make up its Beige Book Report. For example, southeastern states faced “abnormally dry to moderate drought conditions.” Cash prices were lower for cotton, rice, soybeans, broilers, and eggs compared to last year. Farm conditions remained “weak” in the Ninth District, which includes much of the Upper Midwest. Severe flooding in South Dakota and southern Minnesota is expected to heavily impact planting. The Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago oversees much of the Corn Belt, saying low corn and soybean prices remain a big problem for growers in that region. The Fed’s farm contacts also expect soybean prices to remain low. That means the corn-soybean acreage totals could be closer to a more typical 50-50 split after soybean acres jumped higher in 2018.

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Army Corps of Engineers Catches Heat at Hearing

The Army Corps of Engineers caught some heat from lawmakers and several witnesses at a field hearing held in Glenwood, Iowa. The hearing was called because of concerns over how the Corps manages floodwaters along the Missouri River. Iowa Republican Senator Joni Ernst, who chairs the Environment and Public Works Committee, convened the hearing a month after floodwaters hit states like Iowa, Nebraska, and several surrounding states hard. Repeated complaints at the hearing centered on concerns that other priorities dominated the Corps’ management plans for the Missouri River. A DTN report says Major General Scott Spellman of the Army Corps of Engineers said, “The number one priority of the Corps in its operations is life and public safety.” Iowa farmer Leo Ettleman says changes in 2004 to how the Corps manages the Missouri River have actually caused more flooding. Part of the 2004 changes included the Missouri River Recovery Plan, which is meant to help recover habitat for endangered fish and birds. During the hearing, Ernst said she believes the Corps puts too much emphasis on environmental protections over protecting the lives and property of people.

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CA Irrigation District Sues to Block Colorado River Plan

Seven states appeared to have come to an agreement on how to deal with a drought and falling water levels along the Colorado River. However, the LA Times says the river’s biggest user brought the agreement to a halt. Southern California’s Imperial Irrigation District filed suit, asking a state court to block the plan until more analysis is done on the environmental impact of the agreement. The district is attempting to halt the agreement until the federal government ponies up $200 million to restore the shrinking Salton Sea. Imperial holds the senior rights to the single-biggest allocation of river water along the entire length of the Colorado River. The Imperial district threatened legal action and followed through on the same day that President Trump signed federal legislation that authorized the agreement. Henry Martinez, General Manager of the Imperial district, says, “This legal challenge will put the focus of the agreement back where it should have been all along, right on the Salton Sea.” Imperial contends the agreement violated the California Environmental Quality Act by not analyzing the environmental impact of cutting river water usage without considering how the agency would make up for the shortfall.

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New Curriculum Promotes Biofuels in Classrooms

Growth Energy announced a new partnership with the National Association of Agricultural Educators to help promote biofuels in high school classrooms across America. It’s the first industry-supported biofuels curriculum and designed to provide students with a guided in-classroom experience. It also provides tools to ag educators that help them provide students with an array of technical skills and historical knowledge about biofuels. “Our one-of-a-kind curriculum offers students a glimpse into the innovative world of biofuels,” says Growth Energy CEO Emily Skor. “We’re excited to show high school students the role that STEM education plays in our nation’s agriculture and energy sectors.” Students will also learn how the next generation of biofuels is moving rural America into the future. Dr. William Jackman, NAAE Executive Director, says “Our Curriculum for Agricultural Science Education team was pleased to partner with Growth Energy to develop these instructional resources. We’re looking forward to teaching students, as well as non-ag teachers, the important role of biofuels in meeting energy demands for the twenty-first century.”

SOURCE: NAFB News Service

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