READ the NAFB’s National Ag News for Tuesday, July 9th

Sponsored by the American Farm Bureau Federation

READ the NAFB’s National Ag News for Tuesday, July 9th

China, U.S., Still Far From Ending Trade War

A recent meeting between the leaders of China and the U.S. brought optimism a deal to end the trade war could be reached, a year after it began. Last week marked the one-year anniversary of the trade war enacted by President Donald Trump against China, and the billions of dollars’ worth of tariffs between the two nations. An agreement signed by Trump and Chinese President Xi Jinping, however, is not a done deal, according to the South China Morning Post, which points out that little has changed since the two leaders last met. Despite the agreement to return to the negotiating table, neither side has agreed to any changes, following the stalemate earlier this year in what was expected to be the final round of talks. For now, the truce signals a pause in hostilities between China and the United States. The trade war has harmed U.S. agriculture, as China targets U.S. agricultural commodities in its retaliatory tariffs against the U.S., including nearly all U.S. ag products shipped to China.

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Pork and Beef Exports Rebound in May; Volume and Value Reach 2019 Highs

May exports of U.S. pork and beef were steady with last year’s strong volumes and increased year-over-year in value. The U.S. Meat Export Federation says pork exports totaled 218,000 metric tons in May, steady with last year’s pace, while value increased one percent to $567 million, the highest monthly value total since April 2018. For January through May, pork exports were still four percent below last year in volume and down 10 percent in value to $2.57 billion. USMEF President and CEO Dan Halstrom called the May pork exports “very encouraging, especially the renewed momentum in Japan and China/Hong Kong.” May beef exports were also steady year-over-year in volume at  117,500 metric tons, while export value increased one percent to $727.6 million, the second-highest on record, trailing only the August 2018 total of $751.7 million. For January through May, exports were three percent below last year’s record pace in volume, but only slightly lower in value at $3.3 billion.

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NFU Urges Additional Improvements to USMCA

The National Farmers Union says the U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement could be improved to reduce health care costs and protect rural jobs before it is sent to Congress for approval. In a letter sent to Speaker of the U.S. House Nancy Pelosi and House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, NFU President Roger Johnson emphasized the value of trade agreements to agricultural communities. However, farmers are becoming more dependent on off-farm employment, according to Johnson, who urges congressional leaders to include proposals to address labor, the environment and strengthening enforcement standards. Johnson also expressed concern about the implications of USMCA for rural health care, as USMCA would grant pharmaceutical companies marketing exclusivity for biologic drugs for a minimum of 10 years. Johnson says that provision could “worsen the problem of increased healthcare costs for farmers. Johnson says all Americans “should have access to effective health care, but given the added risks of agricultural professions, it is particularly critical that legislators work to improve coverage and affordability in rural areas.”

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NBB Launches New Ad: EPA’s RFS Waivers Harm Biodiesel Producers, Farmers

The National Biodiesel Board Monday launched an ad campaign highlighting the economic damage to biodiesel and renewable diesel producers from the Environmental Protection Agency’s small refinery exemptions. The ads are currently scheduled to run for one week in Washington, D.C., and in Des Moines, Iowa. The ad says, “The president’s EPA is hurting farmers and eliminating jobs by giving special favors to big oil companies.” Kurt Kovarik, NBB’s Vice President of Federal Affairs, adds, “Just last month, President Trump vowed that his administration would defend America’s farmers. Yet his EPA is preparing another flood of RFS exemptions that will harm farmers.” NBB contends that the small refinery exemptions destroy demand for hundreds of millions of gallons of biodiesel and renewable diesel, which means a loss of jobs and a loss of value for agriculture. An estimate from University of Illinois Professor Scott Irwin says the demand destruction could reach 2.45 billion gallons over the next few years causing a $7.7 billion economic loss for the biodiesel industry.

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Rodale Launches Organic Research and Training Center in Georgia

The Rodale Institute will launch a new organic research and training center in Georgia this fall. The Southeast Organic Center aims to innovate agriculture and increase healthy food access in the region, according to the organization. The regional resource center will focus on the unique challenges of farmers in the southeast United States, at Many Fold Farm, outside Atlanta, Georgia. Farm owner Rebecca Williams says research and education at the center will “validate and expand truly sustainable agricultural practices.” The 300-acre farm in the Chattahoochee Hills will be home to research seeking to increase the number of farms and acres in organic production in the region. Despite organic having grown to a $50 billion industry annually in the United States, according to the 2017 Census of Agriculture, Georgia has only 88 certified organic farms, representing just 0.5 percent of organic farms in the United States. The center is Rodale Institute’s second regional resource center. They opened the Midwest Organic Center in Marion, Iowa, earlier this year.

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JCB Tractor reaches 103 MPH

JCB has set a new British speed record for tractors with its high-speed Fastrac tractor. The tractor reached 103.6mph at England’s Elvington Airfield, with British TV presenter and engineering guru Guy Martin behind the wheel. The tractor beat the previous 87.27mph record. A team of JCB engineers has been working on the project to develop the tractor over the past few months. However, the tractor reaching the speed record is not exactly suitable for fieldwork. In a statement, JCB says the record-breaking tractor is powered by its 7.2 liter, 6-cylinder DieselMax engine. Capable of delivering 1,000hp, the Fastrac had been “put on a diet” to shed weight, had its aerodynamics enhanced, and given an upgraded transmission. However, JCB is no stranger to land speed records. In 2006, its DieselMax streamliner car set a new diesel land speed record when it reached 350mph on the U.S. Bonneville Salt Flats, using two JCB DieselMax engines. JCB was founded in 1945 and is headquartered in the United Kingdom.

SOURCE: NAFB News Service

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