READ the NAFB’s National Ag News for Monday, August 12th

Sponsored by the American Farm Bureau Federation

READ the NAFB’s National Ag News for Monday, August 12th

USDA says Land Values Rising; Farm Bureau Notes Declines

The U.S. Department of Agriculture released its 2019 Land Values Survey that showed land values nationwide are on the rise. However, the American Farm Bureau Federation says that’s not entirely the case. Farm Bureau notes in its own Market Intel analysis that land values and farm rents have gone in the opposite direction in certain parts of the country. “Many of the areas with declining agricultural land values and cash rents over the past half-decade are found in the Midwest, where a prolonged downturn in crop and livestock prices has reduced net cash income,” says Farm Bureau’s Chief Economist John Newton.” Around the rest of the country, Newton says agricultural land values were the highest in states near urban areas, such as Rhode Island, Connecticut, New Jersey, Massachusetts, and California. The USDA report says the U.S. farm real estate value averaged $3,160 per acre, which includes the value of all the land and buildings on farms. That’s a rise of $60 per acre, or 1.9 percent, over 2018. The U.S. cropland value averaged $4,100 per acre, $50 per acre higher over the previous year, or a jump of 1.2 percent.

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China Makes Last Ag Buy Before Suspending Purchases

Is this China’s last ag purchase for now? The answer appears to be yes. Reuters notes that China actually made small purchases of U.S. soybeans, wheat, sorghum, and pork during the week of July 26-August 1. That could be China’s last ag buys from the U.S. for some time as trade tensions continue to heat up between the U.S. and China. It was shortly after those purchases that China announced it will be suspending more ag purchases after President Trump decided to slap more tariffs on Chinese goods starting on September 1. China’s overall soybean imports fell by 5.6 percent during July. However, the country’s soybean exports jumped by their highest level in almost a year. The South China Morning Post says a 3.3 percent jump in Chinese exports came about because of higher demand from some of China’s neighbors, including Taiwan, Singapore, and South Korea, who’ve all been hurt economically by the trade war between the world’s largest economies. The South China Morning Post says it’s unlikely that China’s neighbors will be able to adequately fill in the gap in China’s outbound sales totals as the U.S. remains the world’s largest economy and the world’s most vibrant consumer market.

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Guarded Optimism in the Minneapolis Fed’s Ag Survey

Sixty-two percent of ag lenders across the Minneapolis Fed District say that farm incomes across the district decreased through the second quarter of 2019 when compared to last year. Only eight percent say that farm incomes have increased. Capital spending was also down in the second quarter, with 64 percent of lenders reporting spending had dropped, while just five percent say it increased. A Wisconsin banker wrote in the survey that, “Crops are behind, and we will need warmer weather and an extended fall for our crops. Yields have been affected and will be lower in our area.” However, that same banker did say with improved crop prices, farmers are in a better position than they’ve been in for the last three years. The survey also shows that falling farm incomes have pushed loan repayment rates down slightly, while renewals and extensions increased. Respondents did note that cropland values did increase slightly. While the third-quarter outlook is for continued contraction in the ag sector, fewer survey respondents predicted decreasing income, capital expenditures, and household spending over the next three months than they did in the last three months. States in the Minneapolis Fed District include Minnesota, Montana, North and South Dakota, northwest Wisconsin, and the Upper Peninsula of Michigan.

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EU: ASF is an “Urgent Challenge”

The European Union faces a serious challenge in taking on the outbreak of African Swine Fever that is threatening Bulgaria’s pig breeding industry. Reuters quotes an EU Commission spokeswoman as saying, “Fighting African Swine Fever in the EU represents an extreme and urgent challenge.” As many as ten EU nations are currently affected by ASF. However, the outbreaks are especially bad in Bulgaria and neighboring Romania. Outbreaks in Slovakia were found in July in four backyard farms. Bulgaria is one of the poorest states in the European Union and has reported more than 30 outbreaks of the disease, which is harmless to humans but incurable to pigs. Approximately 130,000 pigs have already been culled in Bulgaria. The disease first spread into the EU from Russia and Belarus. While many of the outbreaks that occurred on small farms were quickly contained, the European Food Safety Authority says it is still spreading locally among wild boar. Experts say a country like Bulgaria could eventually lose its entire pig breeding industry that totals up to 600,000 animals. Outbreaks of ASF have taken place in both the European Union and in Asia.

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Six States Sue EPA Over Chlorpyrifos

An Agri-Pulse report says that six states, including both California and New York, have filed a lawsuit against the Environmental Protection Agency. The suit alleges that the EPA’s decision to allow continued use of Chlorpyrifos (Klor-PEER-ih-fahs) didn’t ensure that infants and children were protected. “Chlorpyrifos causes significant harm to our children, farmworkers, and vulnerable communities,” says California Governor Gavin Newsom. “California is doing its part to address the harms of this pesticide and it’s time for D.C. to do theirs.” The states filed their lawsuit on the same day that a coalition of environmental, farmworker, and other groups also sued the EPA over the same decision. The EPA says it didn’t have enough evidence of the insecticide’s neurodevelopmental effects to justify revoking its use. The states are saying that the EPA didn’t comply with the language in the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act that requires the agency to “ensure that there’s reasonable certainty that no harm will result to infants and children from exposure over time to the pesticide’s chemical residue.” The groups’ lawsuit says, “Rather than carrying the burden of finding that the tolerances of Chlorpyrifos are safe, the EPA wrongly placed the burden on the petitioners to furnish “valid, complete, and reliable data that set forth why tolerances are unsafe.”

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EPA Won’t Add Cancer-Causing Labels to Glyphosate

A DTN report says that the Environmental Protection Agency will no longer approve product labels that claim glyphosate causes cancer. The agency issued new guidance late last week that says, “EPA will no longer approve product labels claiming that glyphosate is known to cause cancer, a false claim that does not meet the labeling requirements for the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide, and Rodenticide Act.” EPA says California’s much-criticized Proposition 65 has led to misleading labeling requirements for products like glyphosate because it misinforms the public about the risks they face. Most of the scientific work and study of the product shows no link between glyphosate and human cancers. In May, the EPA said it continues to find no risks to human health and the herbicide is not a carcinogen. “It’s very irresponsible to require labels on products that are inaccurate when the EPA knows it’s not a cancer risk,” says EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler in a press release. “We will not allow California’s flawed program to go ahead and dictate what federal policy should be.”

SOURCE: NAFB News Service

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