READ the NAFB’s National Ag News for Monday, September 9th

Sponsored by the American Farm Bureau Federation

READ the NAFB’s National Ag News for Monday, September 9th

U.S., U.K. Trade Talks Could Get Bumpy Around Poultry

Assuming that trade negotiations ever get going between the United States and the United Kingdom, feathers on both sides could get ruffled over poultry. U.K. Prime Minister Boris Johnson told U.S. Vice President Mike Pence that, “We’re not to keen on chlorinated chicken.” During a visit to the U.K. last week, Pence did admit that poultry could become a sticky issue in the negotiations. Politico says Johnson’s comments refer to the American practice of washing chicken with chemicals to kill pathogens like salmonella and E. coli. The process is called “pathogen reduction treatment” and it’s banned in the European Union. During dinner remarks last week, Pence admitted that chlorinated chicken will be the subject of some “pretty tough discussions.” During discussions last week, Johnson talked about his desire to free up the U.S. market to more British exports. He says Americans “don’t eat any British lamb or beef or haggis from Scotland.” Haggis is the national dish of Scotland and a pudding made from sheep’s heart, liver, and lungs. Johnson promises to pull the U.K out of the European Union by October 31.

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Pork Exports Reach New High Mark Despite Trade War

U.S. pork exports were at a record-high in July while beef exports were relatively steady with last year’s strong results. That’s from data released by the USDA and put together by the U.S. Meat Export Federation. July pork exports surged to 233,242 metric tons, a 32 percent jump that topped the previous record set in 2018. Export value was $623.3 million, up 34 percent as it broke the previous high reached in November of 2017. Although U.S. pork faces retaliatory tariffs in China, American pork exports to China and Hong Kong contributed a good chunk of the July volume and value records. Beef exports increased one percent in July to 117,842 metric tons. The export value of $720.4 million was down slightly from a year ago but was still the seventh-highest monthly total on record. January-July beef exports were down two percent from a year ago in volume, while export value was slightly below last year’s record pace. Shipments to Mexico jumped higher in July after a 20 percent tariff was removed.

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White House Considering Biofuel Quota Boost

A Bloomberg report says top Trump Administration officials have put together a plan that would give a five percent boost to the renewable fuels blending quota in 2020. The plan comes as President Donald Trump seeks to counter farm-state accusations of undermining a U.S. mandate that compels the use of corn-based ethanol and soybean-based biodiesel in the nation’s fuel supply. Officials from the White House, USDA, and the Environmental Protection Agency have been cooperating for weeks in ironing out the final details of the initiative designed to encourage U.S. biofuel demand. Bloomberg sources say the president hasn’t given final approval to the plan yet. Back on August 29, Trump took to Twitter and promised a “giant package” of changes would be submitted and approved within two weeks. While biofuel company shares surged in value with the news, some biofuel advocates say the tentative plan falls short of their push for immediate action to offset waivers exempting some oil refineries from the mandates. “We just want the EPA to enforce the standards that Congress gave them,” says Renewable Fuels Association Chief Geoff Cooper. “That means redistributing projected exemptions in the 2020 rule to ensure the statutory volumes for conventional renewable fuels remain whole.” He says it’s hardly a big gift to corn. It’s just “following the law.”

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McKinney: No USMCA Sales to Canada So Far

Canadians are pleased with the U.S.-Mexico-Canada Trade Agreement. However, the Hagstrom Report says U.S. companies haven’t yet made any new sales in Canada based on the agreement. That news comes from USDA Under Secretary for Trade and Foreign Agricultural Affairs Ted McKinney, who spoke to reporters while on a trade mission in Canada. Government and agriculture industry officials in Canada have said they’re happy with the agreement. However, there haven’t been any discussions about increases in dairy purchases or increases in any of the areas through which U.S. producers might benefit under the agreement. He did say that wheat grading, poultry, wine, and biotechnology provisions could also be a big benefit to U.S. agriculture. McKinney also says Canadian officials have told him that the Canadian Parliament will not vote on the agreement until the U.S. Congress has voted. McKinney says the USDA is also set to sponsor trade missions to Mexico, Ghana (GAH-nah), and Vietnam this year.

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More Farmers Falling Behind on Loans

A U.S. banking regulator says more farmers are falling behind on loans held by community banks when compared to last year. The Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation says it’s watching for more risks in the ag sector. In its quarterly report, the FDIC didn’t refer directly to the Trump Administration’s trade war with China, which began in 2018. In a prepared statement, officials say, “We continue to monitor risks in the agriculture sector from low commodity prices and farm incomes.” The FDIC says the share of long-past due farm loans held by community banks, which are the major agricultural lenders, was 1.28 percent in April through June, up 13 basis points from the same time last year. The ratio captures the share of farm loans that are at least 90 days past due, or those loans which no longer accrue interest because of repayment doubts. Reuters says commodity prices have been hurt over the past year by a U.S.-China trade war that’s led to higher Chinese tariffs on U.S. agricultural exports, including soybeans.  

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Tyson Volume Loss Due to Fire Minimal

The fire at the Tyson Foods plant in Holcomb, Kansas, caused minimal volume losses to the company as it moved production to other plants. Chief Executive Noel White spoke at an investor conference last week. All of the employees were safely evacuated that day. The processing side of the plant wasn’t affected by the fire and is still operating. “I would say the volume loss has been somewhat minimal,” he said. “Now there is a cost in moving cattle a long distance. We can still service our traditional suppliers in that area and we have a lot of long-term, loyal customers that source from the plant. We’ve been able to move those orders to a number of our other plants.” Meating Place Dot Com says White expects the plant to get fully back in operation in the next couple of months. The electrical system was the hardest-hit part of the plant, with most of the downtime due to rewiring the plant’s electrical system. Last week, Tyson lowered its earnings guidance for fiscal 2019.

SOURCE: NAFB News Service

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