READ the NAFB’s National Ag News for Friday, April 26th

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READ the NAFB’s National Ag News for Friday, April 26th

U.S.-Japan Accelerated Trade Talks Continue

The U.S. and Japan are meeting again to wrap up the week in the second round of trade talks. Japan’s Economy Minister is meeting with U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin. Meanwhile, Japan’s Prime Minister Shinzo Abe (sheen-zoh ah-bay)  plans to meet President Donald Trump today (Friday) in Washington. The negotiations continue to focus on reaching a quick agreement on agriculture and automobiles. The U.S. wants better access to Japan’s agricultural products market, as trade agreements between Japan and other nations have made products from other countries more lucrative to Japanese buyers. Nearly 100 farm groups sent a letter to Lighthizer this week outlining the market loss U.S. producers are facing from competing trade agreements, including the new Trans-Pacific Partnership, the agreement Trump removed the U.S. from upon taking office. Just last week, the U.S. and Japan agreed to accelerate trade talks to reach a fast agreement.

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Congress to Return with Push for USMCA

Lawmakers return to Washington next week with a renewed industry push to approve the U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement. Following the International Trade Commission Report, few steps remain to reach implementation. Vice President Mike Pence touted the deal during a stop in Michigan this week, and a road tour from Farmers for Free Trade is crossing the country building support for passage of the agreement. The ITC Report found the agreement will increase U.S. agricultural exports by $2.2 billion, according to the American Farm Bureau Federation. The Trump administration must submit the final text of the agreement to Congress 30 days before it is formally introduced. The House Ways and Means Committee and Senate Finance Committee may then take up to 45 days before introducing the bill to the full bodies of Congress. The bill will be considered by the House first, followed by the Senate. Because of Trade Promotion Authority, the deal will be considered with no amendments on an up or down vote.

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Argentina Seeking Expanded Trade with China

Argentina wants to increase agricultural trade with China ahead of a bumper crop of soybeans. China, the world’s largest buyer of soybeans, purchased $3.48 billion worth of Argentine exports, with more than 86 percent of which were from the agricultural sector. Argentina’s agriculture secretary said in a statement, “We believe Argentina still has a big chance to advance agro-industrial trade and increase its role as a reliable supplier of food to China,” while leading a trade delegation in China. Farmers in Argentina are expected to harvest 55.9 million metric tons of soybeans this season, or 48 percent more than the previous year, according to Reuters. The move comes as the U.S. continues to negotiate a trade agreement with China following a tit-for-tat trade war that shut off U.S. soybean exports to China. Complicating the market further, China uses the soybeans for animal feed, as it is the largest pork producing nation. However, African swine fever is projected to reduce pork production in China by more than 20 percent this year.

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Farmer’s Share of the Food Dollar Falls to All-Time Low

The farmers share of the food dollar has reached an all-time low. For every dollar American consumers spend on food, U.S. farmers and ranchers earn just 14.6 cents, according to a report recently released by the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Economic Research Service. This value marks a 17 percent decline since 2011 and the smallest portion of the American food dollar farmers have received since the USDA began reporting the data in 1993. The remaining 85.4 cents cover off-farm costs, including processing, wholesaling, distribution, marketing, and retailing. National Farmers Union President Roger Johnson says the data, among other economic conditions, shows “we are in the midst of an agricultural financial crisis.” Johnson points out that conditions for farmers have been eroding since 2011, and “many have already made the heartbreaking decision to close up shop.” In the past five years, the United States lost upwards of 70,000 farm operations. Johnson is hopeful the report “will open policymakers’ eyes” to the financial challenges in agriculture.

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USGC Updates Protocols to Guard against African Swine Fever

The U.S. Grains Council has strengthened biosecurity safeguards for overseas travelers and USGC-led trade teams in recognition of the severity and spread of African swine fever. As part of the updated protocol, no USGC-led or organized teams will visit swine farms or operations in the United States in 2019, and teams from confirmed affected countries will not visit any type of U.S. livestock operation. Travelers will still be able to meet with livestock companies to discuss livestock production and feeding practices. Tom Sleight, USGC president and chief executive officer, says USGC is “taking precautions to limit exposure,” as African swine fever is not in the United States. USGC says the updated protocols limit risk while still enabling the Council to work to build international markets for U.S. feed grains and co-products. The National Pork Board and the National Pork Producers Council have fully detailed biosecurity guidelines for pork industry-related international travel, which USGC used in it’s updated protocols.

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Corps of Engineers Release Three Week Missouri River Forecast

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers updated its near-term forecast for the Missouri River this week as the basin prepares for mountain snowpack to melt and collect in the system. The three-week forecast calls for increased water output from the Missouri River water control facilities along the river. Currently, system reservoirs are below their exclusive flood control pool elevations. However, as the mountain snowpack melts, the pool elevations will increase significantly. Storing water in the exclusive flood control pools at reservoirs in the middle of the system limits flexibility for reducing flood risk from upstream or downstream rain events. Thus, officials say they will maintain release levels higher than inflows. Gavins Point releases are forecast to remain steady at 55,000 cubic feet per second to continue evacuating runoff from the spring plains snowmelt. John Remus, chief of the Corps’ Missouri River Basin Water Management Division, says fluctuations to river stages downstream from Gavins Point are possible due to rain events occurring downstream from Gavins Point. Some areas downstream are still at flood stage and have been since last month’s bomb cyclone weather event.

SOURCE: NAFB News Service

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