READ the NAFB’s National Ag News for Friday, June 7th

Sponsored by the American Farm Bureau Federation

READ the NAFB’s National Ag News for Friday, June 7th

U.S., Mexico Still Talking About Immigration, Tariffs

The U.S. and Mexico are still talking about immigration and President Trump’s threats of a new tariff on Mexican imports. An Agri-Pulse report says the two sides haven’t come to an agreement so far and talks were scheduled to continue on Thursday. In several Twitter posts on Wednesday evening, the president says, “Progress is being made, but not nearly enough.” He also says, “Further talks will continue Thursday with the understanding that, if no agreement is reached, tariffs at the five percent level start on Monday, with monthly increases as per schedule.” Trump wants Mexico to halt the flow of Central American migrants making their way through the country to cross the southern border of the U.S. The Mexican Foreign Minister says talks with Vice President Mike Pence and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo are going well and that he’s “optimistic.” GOP Senators are worried about the tariff threat derailing the U.S.-Mexico-Canada Trade Agreement. “We’ve got a lot invested in that,” says John Thune of South Dakota. “We don’t want to do anything to put that at risk.”

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Mexico Retaliation List Doesn’t Include Corn

Mexico released a list of U.S. products that could face a retaliatory tariff in response to possible Trump Administration tariffs that are scheduled to start this Monday on Mexican imports. A Reuters report says the focus appears to be on states that supported Trump’s bid for the presidency. However, the list doesn’t include corn, one of Mexico’s biggest imports. Mexico’s rapidly-growing livestock industry relies on millions of tons of U.S.-grown yellow corn annually. Industry experts say it would be extremely difficult for Mexico to replace American corn with imports from other countries quickly enough to fill the gap. President Trump has said he’ll apply the first round of tariffs on all Mexican imports starting next week if Mexico doesn’t take steps to help stop the flow of Central American immigrants seeking entry into the United States. Four anonymous Mexican government officials told Reuters that the list was prepared by the economy ministry and is sitting in President Lopez Obrador’s office. Mexico’s retaliatory tariffs focus on states that voted for Trump in 2016, where agriculture plays a major role in the economy. The tariffs are also targeted at several industrial states like Michigan, Pennsylvania, and Ohio.

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No Trade Aid Available for Unplanted Crops

There won’t be any trade relief payments for farmers with unplanted crops. Politico quotes an unnamed official as saying USDA has made the determination. However, a department spokesman did not confirm or deny that a decision had been made either way. Last month, the department said it would pay up to $14.5 billion directly to producers who’ve been hit hard by President Donald Trump’s trade war. The payment rate would be determined partly by the total amount of a farm’s planted acres. Growers who didn’t get a crop in the ground wouldn’t be eligible for the help. Ag economists raised concerns that producers might plant crops just to try and collect some trade aid help when they otherwise wouldn’t put a crop in the ground. Ag Secretary Sonny Perdue said USDA was looking at whether or not they could legally offer trade aid for unplanted acres, noting that, “You have to have something to sell or trade for a tariff impact.” However, farm groups made the case that trade tension can affect producers’ crop insurance coverage when they can’t plant due to the weather. Those revenue guarantees are based in part on commodity prices, which have dropped because of retaliatory tariffs. Politico says not offering trade aid on unplanted acres would bring USDA right back to where it started on the issue.

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USDA Announces Proposed Rule Updating Biotechnology Regulations

The USDA’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service released a rule proposal that’s designed to update its biotechnology regulations. The rule, titled ‘Movement of Certain Genetically Engineered Organisms,’ was put together with what the Trump Administration calls a “balanced approach that continues to protect plant health while allowing agricultural innovation to thrive.” The Hagstrom Report quotes USDA Under Secretary for Marketing and Regulatory Reform Greg Ibach (EYE-baw) as saying the proposal was guided by the following principles: Sustainable, Ecological, Consistent, Uniform, Responsible, and Efficient, or SECURE for short. An APHIS news release says SECURE is the first significant change to USDA’s biotech regulations since they were first written in 1987. Ibach says, “SECURE would enable APHIS to evaluate genetically engineered organisms for plant pest risk with greater precision than the current rule allows, ensuring oversight and risk are based on the best available science.” He says this would be a more common-sense approach to regulation, not only giving farmers more choices in the field but consumers more choices at the grocery store. The proposed rule is available for public review and comments from now until August fifth.

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China, Canada Trade Relations Continue to Deteriorate

A report on Meating Place Dot Com says China is planning to escalate inspections on Canadian imports as the trade relationship between the two countries continues to struggle. Agricultural products have become political tools in the trade dispute between the United States and China, with the same thing now happening between China and Canada. Beijing has suspended permits for two Canadian pork plants and is currently demanding that a Chinese tech executive facing extradition to the U.S. be released. Reuters says the Canadian agriculture minister sent a notice to the meat industry saying Chinese customs would be opening all containers of Canadian meat products. In many cases, customs officials would be inspecting 100 percent of the contents. Canadian meat industry executives say that could have a “disastrous effect” on their business. The Canadian Pork Council says the inspection issue had more to do with supporting documentation than actual food safety. The Canadian Meat Council is urging all its members to be extremely vigilant when it comes to surveillance and compliance with all requirements. The CMC says the slightest non-compliance could jeopardize all meat exports to China, which would be “disastrous.”

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U.S. Dairy Rallying Coast to Coast Against Child Hunger

June is Dairy Month, so the U.S. dairy community will build on its commitment to nourish people by joining forces with Feeding America to address food instability and child hunger. One in six U.S. children faces hunger, with the problem getting worse in the summer as many don’t have access to school meal programs. The dairy community and Feeding America will kick off National Dairy Month by taking a three-vehicle convoy on a cross-country tour in June and July. The goal will be to provide kids with free, nutritious milk and dairy foods at locations like farmers markets, feeding sites, and even sporting events. Community pop-up events will also take place in markets stretching from California all the way out to Maine. Over the last five years, the U.S. dairy community has helped to secure more than 31 million servings of milk to children and families in need, thanks to the Great American Milk Drive. They’re committed to providing 50 million servings of milk to children and families in need by 2020. Last year alone, U.S. dairy farmers and companies contributed 686 million servings, or 275 million pounds, of milk, cheese, and yogurt to the Feeding America Network of food banks.

SOURCE: NAFB News Service

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