READ the NAFB’s National Ag News for Wednesday, December 4th

READ the NAFB’s National Ag News for Wednesday, December 4th

Sponsored by the American Farm Bureau Federation

Trump: No Deadline for Final China Trade Deal

In a flurry of meeting with reporters Tuesday in London, President Donald Trump says he has no deadline for finalizing a complete trade deal with China. China and the U.S. are still working to reach a phase one agreement, with an unofficial deadline of December 15, but an overall agreement may extend beyond the 2020 elections. Trump told reporters, “In some ways, I think it’s better to wait until after the election.” Trump says China wants to reach an agreement, adding, “the China trade deal is dependent on one thing: Do I want to make it?” Trump claims he is doing “very well” in the talks with China. The President also pointed out the $28 billion in trade aid given to U.S. farmers, with “many billions” leftover, adding about the funds, “that got them whole.” China wants Trump to remove tariffs in reaching a phase one agreement that also includes $40-$50 billion in purchases of U.S. agricultural products over two years.

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November Ag Economy Barometer Released

The Purdue/CME Group Ag Economy Barometer rose in November for the second month in a row, climbing to 153, 17 points higher than in October when the index stood at 136. This month’s rise in the ag economy sentiment index left the barometer tied with July for the highest reading of 2019. Once again, the rise was driven by improvements in farmers’ perceptions of both current economic conditions, and their belief that conditions will improve in the future, with the biggest boost coming from improved views of current conditions. Producers in November became much more confident that the trade dispute with China will be settled soon. On the November survey, 57 percent of respondents said they expect a resolution soon, up from 42 percent in October. Additionally, 80 percent of respondents now say they believe the trade dispute will end in a beneficial outcome for U.S. farmers. The index is based on a survey of 400 agricultural producers on economic sentiment each month.

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NCBA Staff Directed to Work With USDA to Verify Beef Origin Labeling Claims

The National Cattlemen’s Beef Association executive committee unanimously approved efforts to work with the Department of Agriculture to address geographic origin statements. NCBA is firmly opposed to mandatory Country-of-Origin labeling and is seeking solutions which “will resolve the concerns of beef producers,” while protecting commerce and meet trade obligations. Specifically, NCBA is Looking at Food Safety and Inspection Service labeling requirements and verification procedures in place for beef products labeled as “Product of the U.S.A.,” “Made in the U.S.A.,” or similar origin claims. NCBA CEO Colin Woodall says that while many beef products currently advertised, marketed, or labeled as ‘Product of the U.S.A.’ are “likely compliant with current FSIS regulations, the potential for consumer confusion exists.” NCBA believes that beef labels with voluntary country-of-origin labeling marketing claims should be verified through existing USDA framework that is market-based and respects international trade commitments. The organization says it is critically important that any changes not trigger retaliatory tariffs from Mexico or Canada that have already been approved by the WTO.  

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FDA Nomination Heads to Senate Floor With NMPF Hopeful for Progress on Fake Milk

The Senate Health Committee Tuesday advanced President Donald Trump’s nomination to lead the Food and Drug Administration to the full Senate. The committee sent the nomination of Stephen Hahn as FDA commissioner to the full Senate for final confirmation, which the dairy industry says represents another step towards greater transparency in the use of dairy terms in the marketplace. The National Milk Producers Federation is eager to see Hahn take the FDA role, as Hahn voiced his support in his confirmation hearing last month for “clear, transparent, and understandable labeling for the American people,” when asked about dairy imitating products using dairy terms. Jim Mulhern, President and CEO of NMPF, says, “It is long past time for the FDA to begin enforcing its own standards.” Current FDA standards make “clear that dairy terms are reserved for real dairy products, not plant-based imitators,” according to Mulhern. The organization, which has been speaking out on plant-based imitators for four decades, noted encouragement by recent FDA attention to the issue.

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USCA Urges Review of Marfrig Global Foods’ Acquisition of National Beef

The United States Cattlemen’s Association Tuesday submitted a request seeking an investigation of Marfrig Global Foods’ “near-acquisition” of the U.S.-based National Beef Packing Company. The organization sent the request to U.S. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin (Muh-noo’-chin). The Brazilian-owned Marfrig Global Foods announced last week that it raised its stake in the U.S.-based National Beef Packing Company from 51 percent to 81.7 percent. In 2018, Marfrig acquired a majority stake in National Beef Packing Company, but USCA says this recent announcement means that Brazilian interests will almost wholly own the U.S.-based company. The association is “firmly opposed to the increasing consolidation of the meat-packing sector and foreign ownership of U.S. agricultural interests.” USCA wants the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States to investigate the matter, and demands a full review of Marfrig Global Foods’ acquisition of U.S. companies, and calls for those outcomes to be explicitly written out and publicly published.

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USDA to Conduct the 2019 Census of Horticultural Specialties

The  Department of Agriculture’s National Agricultural Statistics Service will conduct the 2019 Census of Horticultural Specialties this winter. USDA says the report will provide a comprehensive picture of the U.S. horticulture industry. Survey codes will be mailed this month to more than 40,000 horticulture producers to respond online. Collected just once every five years, the Census of Horticultural Specialties is the only source of detailed production and sales data for U.S. floriculture, nursery, and specialty crop industries, including greenhouse food crops. NASS Administrator Hubert Hamer (hay-mer) says, “Responding to this census is the best way for growers to help associations, businesses, and policymakers advocate for their industry.” The 2019 Census of Horticultural Specialties results will expand the 2017 Census of Agriculture data with information on horticultural crop production, value of products, square footage used for growing crops, production expenses, and more. The deadline for response is February 5, 2020. Results will be available December 2020. For more information about the 2019 Census of Horticultural Specialties, visit www.nass.usda.gov.

SOURCE: NAFB News Service

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