READ the NAFB’s National Ag News for Tuesday, April 23rd

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READ the NAFB’s National Ag News for Tuesday, April 23rd

USDA Announces Enhancements to Livestock and Dairy Insurance Programs

The Department of Agriculture’s Risk Management Agency Monday announced several enhancements to the Dairy Revenue Protection, Livestock Gross Margin and Livestock Risk Protection Programs. Risk Management Agency Administrator Martin Barbre says the changes “strengthen risk management options and provide peace of mind in times of unpredictable market fluctuations.” The Livestock Gross Margin program protects against loss of gross margin or the market value of livestock minus feed costs. The Bipartisan Budget Act of 2018 removed the livestock capacity limitation, which allowed the program to remove the individual capacity limitation under the cattle, dairy and swine program. The Livestock Risk Protection program protects livestock producers from the impact of declining market prices. Improvements include expanded coverage for swine, fed and feeder cattle to all states. The Dairy Revenue Protection program is designed to cover unexpected declines in the quarterly revenue from milk sales compared with a guaranteed coverage level. Improvements for the 2020 crop year include changes in minimum declarations for butterfat and adjusting coverage levels. Learn more about the changes at https://www.rma.usda.gov.

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Trade Coalition Calls for Tariff Elimination in U.S.-China Negotiations  

Americans for Free Trade, a coalition of business organizations, is urging the Trump administration to include tariff elimination in the U.S.-China trade talks. The coalition Monday sent a letter to Trump urging five specific outcomes from U.S.-China trade talks, which the White House has said are nearing completion. The letter, which was signed by 151 coalition association partners, is asking for the full and immediate removal of all recently imposed tariffs, including U.S. tariffs and China’s retaliatory tariffs as part of a final deal. The organization also wants a deal that levels the playing field for U.S. companies by addressing China’s unfair trade practices that put American technology, innovation and intellectual property at risk. Further, the coalition seeks the avoidance of any enforcement mechanism that would trigger further tariffs, and clarity on how the tariff exemption process will be carried out in the event of a deal. Finally, the coalition is asking for an economic assessment by the administration examining the costs of tariffs for American businesses and consumers.

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Ag Groups Welcome USMCA ITC Report

Agriculture groups welcomed the International Trade Commission report on the U.S.-Mexico-Canada Trade Agreement released late last week, even though it lacks full benefits for agriculture. National Corn Growers Association President Lynn Chrisp says the report “doesn’t fully capture” the economic benefits of trade with Canada and Mexico because it’s an update to NAFTA, which already eliminated most tariffs on exports of U.S. food and agriculture products. Brian Kuehl (keel) of Farmers for Free Trade called the report an important step, but noted “the benefits of North American trade are already well understood, particularly by farmers and ranchers.” Under the North American Free Trade Agreement, ag exports to Canada and Mexico, grew from $8 billion in 1993 to $40 billion last year. Farm groups are urging Congress to pass the agreement. U.S. Dairy Export Council President and CEO Tom Vilsack says that without USMCA, U.S. dairy farmers “lose out” on new rules that make reforms to Canada’s diary system. Vilsack also noted the importance of Mexico to U.S. dairy, as the U.S. shipped $1.4 billion in dairy products to Mexico last year, accounting for more than one-fourth of U.S. dairy exports.

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Farm Groups Request Disaster Relief

Farm groups and agriculture lenders are urging lawmakers to pass disaster aid. More than 135 farm groups and banks last week penned a letter urging President Trump and Congress to “put aside political differences and supply urgently needed relief.” The organizations, including the American Farm Bureau Federation, highlighted the “unprecedented destruction” in the letter from 2018 and 2019. Farmers and ranchers are especially anxious for relief because the disasters have come on top of an ongoing downturn in farm income. In response, many banks have tightened credit, placing some growers in jeopardy of not receiving critical funds needed to plant this year’s crops without some form of federal relief. Estimated agriculture losses in Alabama, Florida, Georgia, North Carolina, and South Carolina alone total nearly $5.5 billion. Nebraska, Iowa and Missouri currently estimate losses at more than $3 billion. Father, the groups say droughts have devastated the Southwest, and wildfires have done the same in the West. Meanwhile, Puerto Rico encountered its own humanitarian crisis from hurricanes Irma and Maria. For many farmers, the groups say, these events have meant near complete losses.

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New Legislation Would Ease Chapter 12 Bankruptcy Rules Amid Farm Economy Slump

A bill announced last week would ease the process of reorganizing debt through Chapter 12 bankruptcy rules, making more farms eligible. The move comes amid a continued downturn in the farm economy. Led by Representative Antonio Delgado, the legislation is the companion bill to a measure already filed in the Senate. The New York Democrat says The Family Farmer Relief Act “will provide the critical restructuring and repayment flexibility” farmers need to get through hard times. Specifically, the legislation expands the debt cap that can be covered under Chapter 12 bankruptcy from $3.2 million to $10 million. The changes reflect the increase in land values, as well as the growth over time in the average size of U.S. farming operations and are meant to provide farmers additional options to manage the downturn in the farm economy. The legislation is endorsed by the American Farm Bureau Federation and National Farmers Union. The bill will now be referred to the House Judiciary Committee for consideration.

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Culver’s #Farming Fridays on Social Media Returns

Back for its fourth consecutive year,  Culver’s #FarmingFridays return April 26, 2019. Created in 2016, the social media series profiles influential people who are passionate about educating others about agricultural. The influencers will share their stories on Culver’s Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and Snapchat accounts. Different folks that represent and work in agriculture will participate in April, June, August, September and October. A Culver’s spokesperson says the restaurant chain “feels it’s important to celebrate and support the hard work that goes into providing our country with food.” #FarmingFridays is part of Culver’s Thank You Farmers Project, which supports agricultural education programs. To date, Culver’s and its guests have donated over $2 million to agricultural education efforts, such as the National FFA Organization. Find the dates and list of influences who will participate at www.culvers.com.

SOURCE: NAFB News Service

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