READ the NAFB’s National Ag News for Tuesday, June 11th

Sponsored by the American Farm Bureau Federation

READ the NAFB’s National Ag News for Tuesday, June 11th

Mexico Offers Little Details on Tariff Agreement

Mexican officials and President Trump differ in details regarding an agreement to stop the U.S. from imposing tariffs this week due to border crossings. Speaking on CBS’s Face the Nation over the weekend, a Mexican official simply stated that trade between both countries, including agriculture, is expected to increase over time. President Trump last week on Twitter said a deal with Mexico would include immediate buys of U.S. farm products. A deal was later reached, but there is no word or evidence to back his claims. The primary concern of the Trump administration was to address the migrants passing through Mexico to reach the United States. Mexico did make border concessions in the agreement, vowing to send National Guard officers to the border and to not only allow those returned to stay in Mexico, but offer them work permits, health care and education. Trump claimed over the weekend the new purchases of U.S. farm products by Mexico would start immediately. Another Mexican official Monday said there was no side deal for agriculture made during the talks. Mexico is already one of the largest markets for U.S. agriculture. 

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China Targeting Tech Exports in Latest Trade War Move

New technology export controls by China are part of the nation’s efforts to shield “against certain countries,” a shot at the United States as part of the ongoing trade war. The new national technologic security management list announced over the weekend would blacklist “unreliable” foreign entities “deemed to have damaged the interests of Chinese firms,” according to the South China Morning Post. The U.S. and China remain embattled in a trade war after both sides appeared to be nearing an agreement in May. However, a Department of Agriculture official included in the talks confirmed China was “backsliding” on agreed-to terms in the final round of negotiations. The new tech controls from China are just part of the long list of tit-for-tat measures between the two that have largely resulted in tariffs on U.S. agricultural products. Experts are eying an end of June meeting between President Trump and Chinese President Xi Jinping (Shee Jihn’-ping) in Japan that could be “a replay of the summit in Argentina last December.” However, that meeting has not been confirmed.

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Farmers National Reports Increase in Farmland Sales

Farmers National Co. reports an increase in land sales in 2019. A spokesperson for the self-proclaimed national leading agricultural landowner services company says it is seeing an increase in the number of farmland sales by financially stressed producers due to multiple years of reduced income. Despite the slower land market and cautious buyers, Farmers National Company is experiencing a 29 percent increase in the number of acres sold by the company compared to last year, and 22 percent over two years ago. The company says agricultural land values have been surprisingly resilient over the past two years despite the continuation of depressed farm incomes. However, concerns are building in the land market primarily surrounding the financial health of farmers and ranchers. The U.S. farm economy is in its sixth year of a downturn with overall net farm income for 2019 projected to be down 50 percent from 2013. Working capital has declined almost 70 percent since 2012 and inflation-adjusted farm debt is at the highest level since the 1980s.

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Record Flooding to Enlarge Gulf Dead Zone

This year’s flooding in the Corn Belt will lead to a larger dead zone in the Gulf of Mexico. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration says the abnormally high amount of spring rainfall in many parts of the Mississippi River watershed led to record high river flows and much larger nutrient loading to the Gulf of Mexico. The Mississippi River watershed drains 1.2 million square miles, including all or parts of 31 U.S. states and two Canadian provinces. The excessive amount of runoff, along with its contents, is slowly mixing fresh water with salt water, creating the uninhabitable space for marine life. NOAA says the annually recurring Gulf of Mexico hypoxic zone is primarily caused by excess nutrient pollution from human activities, such as urbanization and agriculture. Once the excess nutrients reach the Gulf, they stimulate an overgrowth of algae, which eventually die, then sink and decompose in the water. The resulting low oxygen levels near the bottom are insufficient to support most marine life.

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House Lawmakers Call for Biodiesel Tax Incentive Extension

A letter from 22 lawmakers urges House leadership to immediately extend the biodiesel tax incentive. The lawmakers, led by Democrats Rosa DeLauro of Connecticut, Cheri Bustos of Illinois and Dave Loebsack of Iowa, say failure to extend the tax incentives “jeopardizes environmental and public health benefits, as well as the future of the industry.” The incentive was retroactively extended for only 2017 in the last Congress, and the economic uncertainty over the status of the incentive is harming the biodiesel industry. The National Biodiesel Board welcomed the call, stating biodiesel producers “are looking for an immediate resolution to the uncertainty they’ve faced since the start of 2018.” In the letter, the lawmakers call biodiesel a significant economic driver in rural communities, supporting more than 60,000 jobs. The lawmakers are urging House leadership to consider a retroactive credit for 2018, and an extension through 2019. The National Biodiesel Board adds that the industry “needs policy certainty to meet the nation’s goals for low-carbon fuels, green jobs, and cleaner air.”

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ARS Study Identifies Scab Resistant Wheat Gene

A new Agricultural Research Service study should boost efforts to develop new varieties of wheat that are better equipped to resist a fungal disease, according to the Department of Agriculture. The report announced Monday identifies a key gene that could be used as a genetic resource by wheat breeders to address the challenge posed by Fusarium head blight. FHB, also known as “scab,” thrives in warm and moist conditions and is becoming an increasing threat worldwide because of unpredictable weather patterns, according to USDA. The disease has caused an estimated $2.7 billion in losses in Minnesota alone since the 1990s, and forced many wheat and barley farmers there into bankruptcy. A plant molecular geneticist with the ARS Central Small Grain Genotyping Laboratory, in Manhattan, Kansas, identified a gene, known as TaHRC, that plays a key role in conferring resistance to FHB. The findings may be applied to breeding improved varieties of wheat. The discovery is the result of more than ten years of research by an international team.

SOURCE: NAFB News Service

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