READ the NAFB’s National Ag News for Monday, June 10th

Sponsored by the American Farm Bureau Federation

READ the NAFB’s National Ag News for Mnday, June 10th

U.S., Mexico Reach Deal to Avoid Tariffs

President Trump tweeted late Friday that he’d suspended plans to impose tariffs on Mexican goods, saying the U.S. and Mexico had reached an agreement on stemming illegal immigration. The president says Mexican officials “agreed to take strong measures” to cut down on the flow of illegal immigrants traveling through Mexico and entering the U.S. An Associated Press report says the move puts to an end a threat that had sparked warnings from members of Trumps party, as well as administration officials, about long-term damage to the economy. The damage would include driving up prices for consumers, as well as put the recently-updated U.S.-Mexico-Canada Trade Agreement in jeopardy. U.S. and Mexican officials met for more than 10 hours on Friday and ended a third day of talks with an agreement that would satisfy Trump’s demand that Mexico crack down on illegal immigration into the U.S. Republicans in Congress had recently warned the president that they were ready to try and stop imposing tariffs on Mexico that were scheduled to begin on Monday. They were worried about driving up costs to consumers and the damage to the economy.

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President Signs Disaster Aid Bill Into Law

President Donald Trump signed the $19.1 billion disaster aid bill into law on Thursday. A DTN report says that means farmers in at least six states will likely be eligible for financial help. Three billion of the total has been designated specifically for agricultural losses. It will help southeastern farmers hit hard by last fall’s hurricanes, as well as help Midwest farmers recover from flooding that destroyed grain stored on their farms. However, the report says there is some confusion over language in the bill regarding “crops prevented from planting in 2019.” USDA will have to decide how it wants to divide up the $3 billion in disaster help for damage done by Hurricanes Michael and Florence, as well as wildfire damage to California crops and flooding in several Midwest states. While Ag Secretary Sonny Perdue commended the president and Congress for getting the bill done, USDA didn’t provide any details on how the agency would begin to distribute the aid. The disaster aid package comes as farmers across the Corn Belt continue to battle wet weather and are struggling to get crops in the ground. Multiple groups are asking USDA to adjust planting dates or restrictions. Farmers are looking at their options as they’ve passed the prevented planting date for corn and are approaching the late planting period for soybeans.

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Settlement Talks Ongoing Regarding Missouri Meat-Labeling Law

Settlement talks kicked off last week as part of a lawsuit challenging a Missouri law that makes promoting plant-based-food products as “meat” a misdemeanor crime. Attorneys for the state of Missouri and vegetarian food companies that sued the state are working toward a settlement agreement, part of a court-ordered mediation process. An Associated Press report says the Missouri law first took effect in August of 2018. It was challenged shortly after that by the Tofurky Company of Oregon, which makes vegetarian food products, as well as the Good Food Institute, a Washington D.C.-based non-profit group that advocates for meat alternatives. The suit claims the Missouri law infringes on First Amendments rights of free speech to use product labels like “veggie burgers” and “vegetarian ham roast.” Missouri cattlemen who supported the law say they want to make sure that consumers know what they’re buying at the meat case. The dairy industry is facing the same kind of challenges from almond milk and the Missouri cattlemen don’t want to go down that road. A federal judge overseeing the case hasn’t yet ruled on a request for a preliminary injunction.  

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April Beef, Pork Exports Below 2018 Levels

April exports of U.S. beef and pork were lower than in 2018, while U.S. lamb exports continued to trend higher. The numbers come from data released by USDA and compiled by the U.S. Meat Export Federation. Beef exports totaled just over 105 metric tons in April, five percent lower year-over-year, although the export value was down just slightly to $674.2 million. For January through April, exports were four percent lower than last year’s record pace in volume and one percent lower in value. Pork exports came in at 216,757 metric tons in April, six percent lower than April of 2018. Pork export value was down eight percent compared to last year, coming in at $535.2 million. January through April exports were six percent below last year’s volume and down 12 percent in value to a little over $2 billion. South Korea remains the export growth leader for U.S. beef, with April volume up 18 percent. Strong variety meat demand in Mexico and muscle cut growth in the Caribbean, Middle East, and Panama fueled an upward climb in U.S. lamb exports. April lamb exports were up 26 percent from a year ago, coming in at 1,227 metric tons. The value was up 15 percent to $2.2 million.

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Animal Activist Groups Target Tyson Again Over Contract Growers

The activist group Mercy for Animals is going after Tyson Foods again, but this time it’s not about the chickens. It’s in regards to Tyson’s treatment of its contract growers. The Atlanta Journal-Constitution says Mercy for Animals is launching a four-billboard campaign in northern Georgia seeking anonymous reports from contract farmers about Tyson Foods. The relationship between growers and the entity they contract with has typically been contentious in recent years. Mercy for Animals says it will “use the information to pressure the meat industry giant for better pay to farmers and more humane conditions for the birds.” Mercy for Animals President Leah Garces says, “Each year, more and more contract poultry farmers are speaking out against unethical practices in the chicken industry. We’ve launched ChickieLeaks.com to provide a platform for whistleblowers to securely report wrongdoing.” Georgia’s broiler industry is worth $456 million to the state’s economy. Georgia is the nation’s number one producer of broilers, while Tyson is a major integrator in the state. A Tyson spokesman told Meating Place Dot Com that, “Tyson Foods believes that ensuring the proper health and welfare of animals is an important moral and ethical responsibility.”

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NCGA Shows D.C. Officials How RFS Waivers Affect Ethanol

The National Corn Growers Association made a trip to Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C., to talk about the Renewable Fuels Standard and blending waivers given to refiners. NCGA Renewable Fuels Public Policy Director Kathy Bergren held a briefing for House of Representatives staff. The goal was to explain the damaging effects of the Environmental Protection Agency’s Renewable Fuels Standard blending waivers given to large, profitable refineries. They also talked about potential solutions to the dispute between the oil and ethanol industries. Since early 2018, the EPA has granted a total of 53 RFS exemptions to refineries for the 2016 and 2017 compliance years. Those exemptions equal a total of 2.61 billion gallons of ethanol. EPA currently has 39 waiver petitions for the 2018 compliance year awaiting action. The NCGA told the staff in attendance that the waivers have taken a toll on farmers by undercutting the RFS and reducing corn demand. NCGA President Lynn Chrisp was there as well, saying, “While corn farmers are immensely grateful that the barrier to year-round E15 has been lifted, we won’t be able to reap the full benefits if the EPA continues to allow oil companies to avoid blending biofuels in accordance with the RFS.”

SOURCE: NAFB News Service

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