READ the NAFB’s National Ag News for Wednesday, April 24th

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READ the NAFB’s National Ag News for Wednesday, April 24th

Ag Seeks Swift Agreement in U.S.-Japan Trade Talks

A large coalition of agriculture groups is urging for swift action in the negotiation and implementation of a U.S.-Japan trade agreement. The National Association of State Departments of Agriculture, along with many agriculture organizations, signed a letter to U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer this week. The groups say the U.S. food and agriculture industry is increasingly disadvantaged by competing regional and bilateral agreements with Japan that have already been implemented, including the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership, and the European Union-Japan Economic Partnership Agreement. As a result, U.S. exporters of wheat, beef, pork, dairy, wine, potatoes, fruits and vegetables, and other products are facing collapse of their Japanese market share as these sales are handed over to their competitors. Agriculture is seeking an agreement with Japan that includes market access provisions that at least equal the terms of the other agreements. Further, the groups say the agreement must include an accelerated phase-in of tariff cuts to ensure the U.S. is not facing a disadvantage compared to other countries, and address non-tariff barriers.

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Study Claims Majority of Consumers Approve Non-Dairy Items Labeled as Diary

A study commissioned by the Plant-Based Foods Association says 76 percent of survey respondents are in favor of allowing dairy terms on plant-based items, while those self-described as consumers were 97 percent in favor. The Food and Drug Administration accepted comments on the issue of labeling non-dairy imitators as dairy items recently. National Milk Producers Federation spokesperson Chris Galen says, however, that the survey shows “that the vegan community was confused about the question being asked by FDA.” Galen says the purpose of the FDA comment period was to assess whether all consumers, “not just those sending back postcards,” understand the nutritional inferiority of the plant-based alternatives, per comments made by former FDA commissioner Scott Gotlieb. Galen called the comment period “a qualitative review of evidence that there is a lack of understanding that not all products labeled as ‘milk’ have the same nutrition.” The National Milk Producers Federation is confident the data it and other organizations provided will help provide the rationale for the FDA to enforce its standards against labeling plant-based alternatives as dairy products.

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USDA Seeks Another Experimental ASF Vaccine License, Years from Implementation

The Department of Agriculture intends to grant an experimental license for an African swine fever vaccine. The intent was published in the Federal Register this week that USDA’s Agricultural Research Service intends to grant the license to a company in Bulgaria that manufactures and markets human and animal health products. Currently, there is no commercially available vaccine to protect swine from the deadline virus. Despite the work by the company in Bulgaria and others, National Pork Producers Council Veterinarian Liz Wagstrom told Reuters in February that researchers at USDA believe a vaccine is “a decade away.” Researchers in the European Union believe development of a vaccine may take 20 years. The threat of the disease spreading to the U.S. prompted the cancellation of the World Pork Expo this summer. Since its discovery in China in August 2018, Rabobank estimates that African swine fever has affected 150 million to 200 million pigs, which is nearly 30 percent larger than annual U.S. pork production and equivalent to Europe’s annual pork supply, according to the National Pork Board.

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80 Percent of Chinese Farms Not Restocking Following ASF Outbreak

Many farms in China infected with African swine fever are not restocking with pigs. Bloomberg News reports that 80 percent of farms infected with the deadly virus are not restocking, leaving a significant gap in production. China is the world’s largest pork producer, but agriculture officials in China say production has dropped 21 percent since African swine fever was first reported last August. And, a new outbreak on an island province was reported over the weekend. The declining hog production in China will result in lower demand for soybeans and feed products, but an increase in the need for pork products. Officials in China say, “if confidence among breeders fails to recover, it will hurt consumers.” They predict pork supplies could start to tighten and prices may hit record levels in the second half of the year, before tightening further in 2020. Pork accounts for more than 60 percent of meat consumption in China.

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NCBA CEO Kendal Frazier Announces Plans for Retirement

After 34 years with the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association, the past four as CEO, Kendal Frazier announced his plans for retirement Tuesday. Frazier’s career began as a farm broadcaster in Kansas, where he also served as director of communications for the Kansas Livestock Association, before moving to Denver, Colorado, to join the staff of the National Cattlemen’s Association, the predecessor organization to NCBA. Frazer says it “has been an honor to serve the men and women who make their living in the cattle business,” adding he is confident that he is “leaving NCBA in a good place.” During his tenure, the organization says his commitment to improving domestic and international demand for beef has been unwavering. Likewise, he has dedicated significant resources to ensuring beef producers continue to enjoy the freedom to operate by ensuring member’s priorities in Washington, D.C., remain a core focus for the association. NCBA will begin the search process to select a new CEO immediately, and Frazier will remain in place to assist with the transition process, until December 31, 2019.

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ACLU Suing Iowa Over Ag-gag Law

ACLU Iowa has filed a lawsuit challenging the sates new ag-gag law. Filed Monday, the lawsuit claims the law is unconstitutional, like the 2012 law passed in Iowa that was struck down in a federal court in January. The new law creates a new crime, called “agricultural production facility trespass,” that makes it illegal for a person to gain access to an agricultural production facility through deception if the person intends to cause “economic harm or other injury” of the facility. ACLU Iowa claims the new law “aims to silence critics of worker rights abuses, animal cruelty, unsafe food safety practices, and environmental hazards in agricultural facilities.” However, Iowa agriculture secretary Mike Naig told the Des Moines Register that the law “provides important protections that allow producers to raise their livestock without the fear of special interest groups with malicious intentions harming their animals or businesses.” Lawmakers say the new law narrowly focused on false speech that is intended to cause harm.

SOURCE: NAFB News Service

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