READ the NAFB’s National Ag News for Wednesday, July 10th

Sponsored by the American Farm Bureau Federation

READ the NAFB’s National Ag News for Wednesday, July 10th

Farm Loan Delinquencies Increase, But Remain Historically Low

New research shows farm loan delinquencies remain historically low. Several years of persistently low net farm income, collapsing levels of working capital, and rising debt, has sparked concern regarding the overall health of the farm economy. However, Agricultural Economic Insights shows that at the end of 2018, delinquencies rates for non-real estate farm loans totaled 1.84 percent. After reaching a low of 0.7 percent in 2014, the measure has trended higher over the last five years, and current levels are at the highest levels since 2011. However, data compiled since 1987 shows the current level of 1.84 percent remains below the 32-year average of 2.26 percent, and current levels are well below the increase in delinquencies observed in 2009, which peaked at 3.15 percent. Further, the delinquencies rate on non-real estate farm loans remains lower than levels experienced during the 1990s and early 2000s. The research concludes that the increase seen over last several years came from historically low levels, attributing to the still below average rate.

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Oil Industry Ad Campaign Calls Ethanol Mandates Job Killers

An oil industry group has launched an anti-ethanol advertising campaign, calling ethanol mandates “job killers.” American Fuel and Petrochemical Manufacturers launched the campaign asking President Trump to “keep his promise to protect U.S. refiners from unchecked ethanol mandates that threaten to kill our jobs.” The organization calls current Renewable Fuel Standard ethanol mandates “unrealistic,” and says the RFS does not match “the realities of the fuel market.” The campaign is running in Washington D.C., Pennsylvania, Ohio, Wisconsin and Michigan. Meanwhile, the National Biodiesel Board launched a campaign Monday showing the harm small refiner waivers have on biofuel demand and rural economies. Those ads were placed in Washington, D.C. and Des Moines, Iowa. However, AFPM asserts the harm is unfounded, citing data showing ethanol blending rates are steady and exports are at all-time highs. The Environmental Protection Agency did not account for volumes lost to small refiner waivers in its proposed Renewable Volume Obligation rule for 2020, which was announced last Friday.

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Florida Fruit and Vegetable Growers Oppose USMCA

The Florida Fruit and Vegetable Association says the U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement does not address seasonal surges in imports from Mexico and is opposing the agreement. The association is asking its members to tell lawmakers that represent Florida to vote against approving the trade deal. Association spokesperson Lisa Lochridge told the Hagstrom Report that if Mexico’s alleged unfair trading practices continue unchecked, “Florida’s fruit and vegetable industry simply will not survive.” The organization says many Mexican government subsidy programs over the last two decades have contributed to the Mexican produce industry’s “growing dominance in the U.S. market.” Lochridge says all U.S. representatives from Florida have expressed support for H.R. 101, the Defending Domestic Produce Production Act. The legislation would amend the Tariff Act of 1930 to provide for the treatment of core seasonal industries affected by antidumping or countervailing duty investigations. The Florida Fruit and Vegetable Association represents a broad range of crops, including vegetables, citrus, tropical fruit, berries, sod, sugar cane, and tree crops.

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ASF Changing Poultry Outlook

A new outlook from Rabobank says African swine fever impacting pork production is balancing trade for poultry. The latest report on poultry found the sector has experienced gradually improving market conditions in the first half of 2019 and the trend is expected to remain over the coming months. The report says the main driver for the market improvement has been a more balanced supply in key trading markets like Brazil Thailand, the U.S. and the European Union. The gradual improvement has come despite global trade volumes being disappointing due to ongoing trade issues. Rabobank says China is the best performing poultry industry, with exceptionally high poultry prices due to the shift from pork to poultry as a result of the worsening situation with African swine fever and very low breeding stock levels. However, the report says the Chinese market situation will have limited impacts on the global market if China continues not to allow more imports of poultry from other nations.

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47 Percent of Canadian Farmers Can’t Fill Labor Needs

A new report shows nearly half of Canadian farmers are unable to fill their labor needs. The Canadian Agricultural Human Resource Council released a forecast this week that surveyed farm employers. More than 47 percent of respondents say they cannot fill their labor needs. Across the sector, more than one third reported that they receive zero Canadian applicants when they post an available job. Considering that approximately 37 percent of the workforce is expected to retire in the next ten years, the forecast indicates that there will be an increasing labor shortfall for Canadian agriculture. Solutions to resolve worker shortages include focusing on untapped potential within Canada, as well as looking outside the domestic workforce. Employers are looking to hire Canadians first and then recruit international workers when no Canadians can be found to work on the farms. Jobs filled by international workers have increased from almost 45,600 in 2014 to nearly 60,000 in 2017, representing one in every six positions in Canadian agriculture.

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Farm Aid 2019 Planned for Wisconsin in September

Organizers this week announced Farm Aid’s annual music and food festival will return to the heart of dairy country on Saturday, September 21, in Wisconsin. Coordinators of the event say this year, the organization stages Farm Aid 2019 in an economic climate similar to the one that sparked the first Farm Aid concert in 1985. President and Founder Willie Nelson  says, “America’s family farmers are facing immense challenges to hold on to their farms,” adding “It’s not right.” Farmer stress also is growing, with the risk of depression and suicide among people working in agriculture increasing as compared to the general population. Calls to Farm Aid’s farmer hotline have confirmed the trend, with a 109 percent increase in calls in 2018. Organizers also point out that Wisconsin lost nearly 700 dairy farms in 2018 alone. Farm Aid 2019 will include performances by Farm Aid board members Willie Nelson, John Mellencamp, Neil Young and Dave Matthews with Tim Reynolds, and others.

SOURCE: NAFB News Service

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