READ the NAFB’s National Ag News for Monday, December 2nd

READ the NAFB’s National Ag News for Monday, December 2nd

Sponsored by the American Farm Bureau Federation

EU Parliament Approves Increased U.S. Beef Access

It was a happy Thanksgiving for U.S. beef producers. The European Parliament voted last Thursday to approve a plan that grants the U.S. a country-specific share of the European Union’s duty-free, high-quality beef quota. The agreement was originally signed back in August. The U.S. Meat Export Federation was pleased to hear of the approval. “Approval by the European Parliament keeps this agreement on track to be implemented early next year,” says USMEF President and CEO Dan Halstrom. “That’s outstanding news for the U.S. beef industry and our customers in Europe. Lack of capacity in the duty-free quota has been a source of frustration on both sides of the Atlantic.” He says a U.S.-specific share of the quota will help to make sure that U.S. beef can enter the European Market 52 weeks a year, without any delays or interruptions. The EU is one of the highest-value destinations in the world for American beef. Consistent access will not only benefit U.S. beef producers and exporters but also European importers and their clients. USMEF says in a release that it “thanks the U.S. Trade Representative and the USDA for negotiating the agreement and securing its approval.”

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USMCA, U.S.-China Deal Pushing Forward

Both the U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement and a phase one agreement of a deal between the U.S. and China appear to be slowly edging forward. The Hagstrom Report quotes House Speaker Nancy Pelosi as saying, “We are within range of a substantially improved agreement for America’s workers. Now, we need to see our progress in writing from the trade representative for a final review.” The Trump Administration says that U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer will provide a written agreement to Congress this week. Trump is continuing to push House Democrats to bring the agreement up for a vote. “House Democrats have insisted that hard-working Americans need more from the USMCA than just the same broken NAFTA with better language but no real enforcement,” Pelosi says. “It still left American workers exposed to losing their jobs to Mexico.” Meanwhile, President Trump says the phase one deal with China is “close.” At the same time, he also says the U.S. is monitoring the situation in Hong Kong. “We’re in the final throes of a very important deal,” Trump says. “It’s going very well, but at the same time we want to see things go well in Hong Kong.” Trump’s comments last week came just hours after a phone call between the Chinese Vice-Premier, USTR Robert Lighthizer, and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin (Muh-NOO-chin).

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Farmers for Free Trade Launches New USMCA Ad Campaign

Farmers for Free Trade, a bipartisan coalition supported by America’s top ag and business groups, announced a new ad campaign promoting quick passage of the U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement. The ad campaign launched with a $300,000 advertising blitz in more than 20 Congressional Districts. The ads focus specifically on why the USMCA is a badly needed victory for American agriculture. The 30-second radio spots feature American farmers who personally advocate for passing the agreement. The campaign also includes digital ads as well. The initial ad campaign will focus specifically on the home districts of many Democratic members of the House of Representatives. Those Democrats represent districts that have a high concentration of farmers and ranchers that would benefit from the USMCA. Farmers for Free Trade says those legislators are a very important part of making the case for the agreement and getting it to the finish line. Former Arkansas Senator Blanche Lincoln is a spokesperson for Farmers for Free Trade. She says, “With so many new Democratic members of Congress from districts with agricultural roots, they’ll have to be the ones to make the case that the agreement is vital for their farmers.” Farmers for Free Trade Co-Executive Director Angela Hoffmann says farmers are growing more and more frustrated by the delay in approving USMCA.

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Farm Income Rising in Part Because of Aid

In spite of a challenging 2019, farm earnings are expected to rise this year by 10 percent. However, nearly one-third of producers’ net farm income is a result of crop insurance and direct government payments, which does include President Trump’s trade aid. An Agri-Pulse report says net farm income this year is projected to jump by $8.5 billion compared to last year, coming in at $92.5 billion. The USDA’s Economic Research Service says approximately 31 percent of that income is due to crop insurance benefits and government payments. Net cash farm income, which is another way to measure a farm’s profitability, is projected to reach $119 billion in 2019. That’s a jump of 15 percent compared to 2018. Commercial farms at which corn is the primary crop are projected to have net cash farm income around $206,000 this year, a 20 percent increase from 2018. Poultry is the only agricultural sector that’s projected to have a net decrease in cash income during 2019. The average income is projected at around $97,200, which is down from just over $105,000 last year.

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USDA Improves Crop Insurance for Sugar Beet Producers

The U.S. Department of Agriculture announced it’s made changes to crop insurance for sugar beets in 2020. The Risk Management Agency made changes that will start in 2020 for some policies and 2021 for others. The agency says the changes will better protect sugar beet producers who may get a bumper crop in future years, as well as provide other flexibilities. “We continually listen to producers and stakeholders in developing our crop insurance policies,” says RMA Administrator Martin Barbre. “We also make adjustments to the policies when necessary to better support sugar beet producers and ensure the early harvest adjustment more accurately matches their current year production.” Key changes include revising the maximum early harvest adjustment to better reflect a unit’s production capabilities, especially in the case of a bumper crop. They’re also adding procedures to allow third-party testing of sugar beets for raw sugar content. Changes are further outlined in a final rule, now available at regulations.gov. Interested parties can comment on the final rule for 60 days.  

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Hemp Innovation Challenge Coming to World Ag Expo in 2020

Something new is coming to the World Ag Expo. The Hemp Innovation Challenge is designed to kickstart the future of the hemp industry by supporting entrepreneurs, researchers, and students, who are launching some of the world’s biggest hemp industry innovations. Submissions are invited from hemp innovators in universities, companies, research institutes, barns, and government agencies. Finalists will be invited to the World Ag Expo in Tulare, California, in February of 2020 to take part in the Fast Pitch competition. Prizes will be awarded for ideas that include technology, software, and services driving growth and innovation in food, fuel, medicine, health, fiber, and sustainable development. The winners will receive strategic feedback about their innovation, business model, and go-to-market strategy. Event level highlights will include networking with executives, investors, and mentorship support for launching their innovations. Entering its 53rd year of existence, the World Ag Expo is the largest annual outdoor ag trade show in the world. The show had 102,800 people from 48 states and 65 countries enter the event in 2019 alone.  

SOURCE: NAFB News Service

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