07-05-19 NFU Urges Additional Improvements to USMCA

NFU Urges Additional Improvements to USMCA

Provisions Could Help Reduce Health Care Costs and Protect Rural Jobs

WASHINGTON – As Congressional leadership and the Trump administration work towards a compromise on the U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA), the country’s oldest general farm organization is urging additional improvements to the deal that could help to reduce health care costs and protect rural jobs before it is sent to Congress for approval. Continue reading

07-05-19 NFU: EPA’s RFS Obligations Are Another Setback for American Farmers

NFU: EPA’s RFS Obligations Are Another Setback for American Farmers

WASHINGTON – The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) today released its proposed renewable volume obligations (RVOs) under the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) for the year 2020. The proposal would set required biofuel use at 20.04 billion gallons next year, a marginal increase over this year’s 19.92 billion gallons. The difference is almost entirely attributable to an expansion of cellulosic biofuel, from 420 million gallons to 540 million gallons. The rule maintains the current 15 million gallon target for corn ethanol.

The RFS, which is intended to drive investments in American-grown biofuels, is an important mechanism for creating market opportunities for farmers, vitalizing rural economies, establishing energy independence, cutting fuel costs for consumers, and reducing greenhouse gas emissions. However, the ongoing misappropriation of RFS small refinery exemptions to multinational corporations has eliminated demand for biofuels by 2.6 billion gallons, thus undermining the efficacy of the program.

National Farmers Union (NFU), a strong proponent of biofuels and the RFS, has repeatedly urged EPA to account for the damage caused by the waivers. NFU President Roger Johnson expressed disappointment that EPA failed not only to factor the lost demand into its proposed RVOs but to increase biofuel use at all.

USDA – FAS Weekly Export Sales Report for July 5th

USDA FAS - Foreign Agricultural Service header

Weekly Export Sales for July 5th

READ the NAFB’s National Ag News for Friday, July 5th

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READ the NAFB’s National Ag News foFriday, July 5th

Time Running Out on USMCA Summer Vote

Supporters of the U.S.-Mexico-Canada Trade Agreement have been pushing for some time to see a summer vote on the deal. They’d like Congress to ratify the deal before they head off on their August recess. However, House Democrats say they’re not in a hurry to hold a vote. That pre-recess legislative window is getting closer to slamming shut. Politico says Democratic lawmakers have said for some time that a summer deadline to pass the agreement wasn’t realistic. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s nine-member working group is holding meetings with U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer to address potential changes to the agreement. As a result, some aides think that there may still be a chance to get the deal ratified in 2019. One aide tells Politico that a September vote is possible, depending on how far Lighthizer can or is willing to go to address Democrat concerns on enforcement, labor, environment, and drug pricing provisions in the deal. Many legislators, officials, and industry observers in Washington agree that once the presidential election year begins, the chances of ratifying USMCA will plummet.


Vietnam Says ASF Vaccine is “Coming Soon”

Vietnam says it has had early success in creating a vaccine to fight African Swine Fever. The disease has infected farms across the Southeast Asian country and led to the culling of about 10 percent of the nation’s pig herds. The virus was first detected in Vietnam last February and has spread to farms in 61 of the 63 provinces in the country. Prior to the outbreak, Reuters says the hog herd totaled roughly 30 million animals. Since the disease was first detected, over 2.9 million pigs have been culled in Vietnam. The country’s ag minister says, “I think we’re on the right track and will soon have a vaccine.” Experts on vaccines and the disease itself were skeptical about the claims of progress. They want to see much more research to prove the viability of any potential vaccine. A professor of epidemiology tells Reuters that they need to see different phases of clinical trials, first in an experimental setting with controlled exposure, and then a field trial with natural exposure to the virus. However, a Vietnam TV report says in initial trials, 31 of 33 pigs injected with the test vaccine are still healthy after getting two shots over a period of months.


Austria Bans Use of Glyphosate

A Dow Jones report says Austrian lawmakers banned the key chemical in Roundup Herbicide, the first country to do so in Europe. Lawmakers in the country were voting on a proposal by the opposition Social Democratic Party to ban the use of the chemical glyphosate, the most widely used herbicide in the world. A Social Democrat who helped craft the legislation, says, “We want to be a role model for other countries in the EU and around the world.” However, Bayer, which acquired glyphosate maker Monsanto, insists the product doesn’t cause cancer if it’s used as indicated. The company points out that regulators around the world, including the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the European Chemicals Agency, have all declared glyphosate to be safe and not carcinogenic. A report commissioned this week by Austria’s Ministry for Sustainability and Tourism says the total ban doesn’t conform to EU law. The bill’s sponsors say other countries have been allowed to ban specific compounds. The vote came despite glyphosate being cleared for use in Austria and the rest of the European Union until 2022. Some critics say that fact could make any national ban illegal. The European Commission has three months to reject the Austrian measure.


NBB Unhappy with Change to Duty Rates on Argentina Biodiesel Imports

The National Biodiesel Board’s Fair Trade Commission criticized a Department of Commerce action that would lower the duty rate on Argentinian biodiesel. The Commerce Department made a  preliminary decision in a “changed circumstances” review of countervailing duties on the Argentinian biodiesel imports, finding that recent changes to the country’s export tax regime eliminated certain government subsidies provided to Argentina’s biodiesel producers. If these results are finalized, Commerce will reduce the existing countervailing duty rates on Argentine biodiesel from the current average of 72 percent down to 10 percent. “NBB and the Fair Trade Coalition strongly disagree with Commerce’s proposal to virtually eliminate countervailing duty rates on Argentine biodiesel,” says Kurt Kovarik, NBB Vice President of Federal Affairs. “This appears to be an unprecedented and unjustified accommodation to Argentinian producers that threatens to harm U.S. biodiesel producers and soybean farmers.” While the review was taking place, NBB made the case that Argentina continues to massively subsidize its domestic biodiesel producers. Kovarik adds, “The proposal to eliminate trade protections for U.S. biodiesel producers and soybean farmers is difficult to understand at a time when the administration is asking growers and biodiesel companies to bear huge economic costs from trade disruptions.”


ASA Looking for Young Leader Applicants

The American Soybean Association and Corteva Agriscience are looking for applicants to the 2019-2020 Young Leader Program. It’s a two-part educational program for actively farming individuals and couples who are passionate about the future possibilities of agriculture. The women and men who take part in the program are the leaders who will shape the future of agriculture. Stuart Sanderson, a Class of 2019 member, says, “The training and interaction with fellow growers and ASA leaders over the past year have been an invaluable asset to me personally, and a source of new ideas and avenues for my family farm.” Phase 1 of the program takes place in Indianapolis, Indiana, December 3-6. Phase 2 is February 25-29 in San Antonio, Texas, in conjunction with the annual Commodity Classic Convention and Trade Show. “The Young Leader Program has had a tremendous impact on agriculture, and we are grateful to Corteva Agriscience for continuing to invest in our future leaders,” says ASA President Davie Stephens. “The program encouraged and trained many soybean farmers that are guiding the industry today.” He says the Young Leader Program focuses on building growers’ potential while helping to create meaningful and lifelong relationships with growers across the U.S. and Canada. Interested applicants can go here for more information.


Mississippi Sued Over Fake-Meat Labeling Law

A federal lawsuit is accusing Mississippi of violating free-speech rights by prohibiting makers of plant-based foods from using terms like “meatless meatballs” and “vegan bacon.” The lawsuit was filed earlier this week by the Plant Based Foods Association and the Illinois-based Upton’s Naturals Company, which makes vegan-based products and sells them in many states, including Mississippi. The suit was filed the exact same day that a new Mississippi law went into effect that said, “A plant-based or insect-based food product shall not be labeled as meat or a meat food product.” The lawsuit says the ban only serves to create consumer confusion where none previously existed. The suit is backed by the Institute for Justice, which is a free-market advocacy group based in Virginia. Producers of beef, poultry, pork, and lamb have been pushing to protect meat terminology as companies look to develop more plant-based products that look and taste similar to meat. The Good Food Institute says 12 states have enacted what it calls “meat label censorship.” Those states are Mississippi, Alabama, Arkansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Montana, North Dakota, Oklahoma, South Carolina, South Dakota, and Wyoming.

SOURCE: NAFB News Service