01-15-20 NFU: First Phase of U.S.-China Trade Deal Finalized

NFU: First Phase of U.S.-China Trade Deal Finalized

National Farmers Union Cautiously Optimistic Agreement Will Stabilize Agricultural Export Markets

WASHINGTON – In an effort to ease tensions between their two countries, President Donald Trump and Chinese Vice Premier Liu He today signed the first phase of a trade agreement. At the time of the signing, the deal’s text had not yet been published. However, according to the White House, China has agreed to “structural reforms” on trading, currency, and intellectual property rules and practices. The country will also reportedly increase its purchases of American goods and services by at least $200 billion over the next two years, which includes $40-50 billion worth of agricultural products. Though China has confirmed that it will increase its agricultural purchases, it has not publicly committed to a specific dollar amount, nor has it indicated which products it plans to buy.
The progress comes as a relief to National Farmers Union (NFU), which has consistently expressed concern about the consequences of President Trump’s antagonistic trade policy for American farmers and ranchers. But because the terms of the deal are still largely unclear, the organization continues to be apprehensive about its implications for agriculture and China’s trade practices.
In a statement, NFU President Roger Johnson conveyed cautious optimism about the first phase of the agreement and pushed for stronger and more enforceable provisions in the second phase:

01-15-20 RMFU Commends Tri-State’s Responsible Energy Plan, Offers To Work Collaboratively

RMFU Commends Tri-State’s Responsible Energy Plan, Offers To Work Collaboratively

Denver, CO – In response to Tri-State Generation & Transmission’s (Tri-State) announcement of its Responsible Energy Plan, Rocky Mountain Farmers Union (RMFU), a general farm organization comprised of farm and ranch families across Colorado, New Mexico, and Wyoming, renewed a request to provide meaningful input in Tri-State’s initiative.

“Farmers and ranchers work within razor-thin margins to make ends meet. We need to think strategically to reduce our cost-of-production, be flexible in how we plan for and manage input costs, and constantly react to the demands of our own customers. We believe our energy providers should do the same,” says RMFU President Dr. Dale McCall. “We do commend Tri-State for mapping out this strategy for the future and we look forward to continuing to work together.”

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01-15-20 U.S Senator Gardner Urges USMCA Passage on the Senate Floor

Click here or the picture above to view Senator Gardner’s remarks. 

Gardner Urges USMCA Passage on the Senate Floor

Gardner voted to advance the North American trade agreement out of two committees today

Washington, D.C. – U.S. Senator Cory Gardner (R-CO) spoke on the floor of the United States Senate today, urging his colleagues to support the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA).

NOTE: Click here or the picture above to view Senator Gardner’s remarks.

“USMCA is an important opportunity for the United States to gain more jobs, incentivize more economic growth, and create more opportunity for the people of Colorado. This agreement will continue to boost Colorado’s already vibrant trade relationship with our two largest global trading partners, Mexico and Canada,” said Senator Gardner. “Without a free trading relationship between the U.S., Mexico, and Canada, Colorado’s agriculture community would suffer, leaving dairy farmers in Northern Colorado, wheat farmers on the Eastern Plains, cattle ranchers on the Western Slope, and potato farmers in the San Luis Valley, among others, without major marketplaces for their exports. We have to give all of our Colorado exporters the best chance to access markets around the world and USMCA is a welcome modern agreement that helps us retain that access in North America.” Continue reading

01-15-20 CLA: In Remembrance of John Schurr

CLA: In Remembrance of John Schurr

John L. Schurr, 79, of Farnam, NE, died at Good Samaritan Hospital in Kearney on Saturday, Jan. 4, 2020.
John was born Dec. 21, 1940 to John and Estella Schurr in Farnam where he grew up on the family farm. John graduated from Farnam High School in 1958, then attended the University of Nebraska and Colorado State University until the death of his dad in 1960 brought him back to work on the farm. In 1961 he started raising purebred Angus cattle and farming with his brother, Jerry. Then in 1983 they added a purebred Charolais herd to the ranch. Continue reading

01-15-20 NPPC Welcomes Phase-One Trade Deal with China; Urges Elimination of All Punitive Tariffs

NPPC Welcomes Phase-One Trade Deal with China; Urges Elimination of All Punitive Tariffs

WASHINGTON, D.C., January 15, 2020 – Today, President Trump signed the first phase of a trade deal with China that includes the purchase of $40 billion in agricultural products, including pork—by far the most significant protein consumed in China. National Pork Producers Council (NPPC) President David Herring and Board Member Craig Andersen were in attendance at today’s signing ceremony. Herring, a hog farmer from Lillington, N.C., issued the following statement: Continue reading

01-15-20 FSA Encourages Producers to Enroll Soon in Agriculture Risk Loss and Price Loss Coverage Programs

FSA Encourages Producers to Enroll Soon in Agriculture Risk Loss and Price Loss Coverage Programs

WASHINGTON, January 15, 2020 – USDA’s Farm Service Agency (FSA) encourages agricultural producers to enroll now in the Agriculture Risk Loss (ARC) and Price Loss Coverage (PLC) programs. March 15, 2020 is the enrollment deadline for the 2019 crop year.

Although more than 200,000 producers have enrolled to date, FSA anticipates 1.5 million producers will enroll for ARC and PLC. By enrolling soon, producers can beat the rush as the deadline nears.

“FSA offices have multiple programs competing for the time and attention of our staff.  Because of the importance and complexities of the ARC and PLC programs; and to ensure we meet your program delivery expectations, please do not wait to start the enrollment process,” said FSA Administrator Richard Fordyce. “I cannot emphasize enough the need to begin the program election and enrollment process now. Please call your FSA county office and make an appointment soon to ensure your elections are made and contracts signed well ahead of the deadlines.” Continue reading

01-15-20 USDA Secretary Perdue: China Phase I Deal is a Bonanza for American Agriculture

USDA Secretary Perdue: China Phase I Deal is a Bonanza for American Agriculture

(Washington, D.C., January 15, 2020) –

U.S. Secretary Perdue issued the following statement after President Donald J. Trump signed the historic Phase One Trade Agreement between the United States and China:
“This agreement is proof President Trump’s negotiating strategy is working. While it took China a long time to realize President Trump was serious, this China Phase I Deal is a huge success for the entire economy. This agreement finally levels the playing field for U.S. agriculture and will be a bonanza for America’s farmers, ranchers, and producers,” said Secretary Perdue. “China has not played by the rules for too long, and I thank President Trump for standing up to their unfair trading practices and for putting America first. We look forward to exporting to Chinese customers hungry for American products.”
*NOTE: You may click HERE for audio of Secretary Perdue’s statement.

01-15-20 Tri-State announces transformative Responsible Energy Plan actions to advance cooperative clean energy

Tri-State announces transformative Responsible Energy Plan actions to advance cooperative clean energy

  • Increasing renewables to 50% of energy consumed by members by 2024, adding 1 gigawatt of renewables from eight new solar and wind projects.
  • Reducing emissions with the closure of all coal plants operated by Tri-State, cancelling the Holcomb project in Kansas and committing not to develop additional coal facilities.
  • Increasing member flexibility to develop more local, self-supplied renewable energy.
  • Extending benefits of a clean grid across the economy through expanded electric vehicle infrastructure and beneficial electrification.
(January 15, 2020 – Westminster, Colo.) – In the most transformative change in its 67-year history, Tri-State Generation and Transmission Association today announced actions of its Responsible Energy Plan, which dramatically and rapidly advance the wholesale power supply cooperative’s clean energy portfolio and programs to serve its member electric cooperatives and public power districts.
“Our cooperative and its members are aligned in our transition to clean power,” said Rick Gordon, chairman of Tri-State and director at Mountain View Electric Association in eastern Colorado. “With today’s announcement, we’re poised to become a new Tri-State; a Tri-State that will provide reliable, affordable and responsible power to our members and communities for many years to come.” Continue reading

01-15-20 CFVGA Sixth Annual Conference Feb. 24-25, 2020

CFVGA Sixth Annual Conference Feb. 24-25, 2020

Small Farms Workshop Track to be Featured, Free Memberships for New Grower Attendees

The Colorado Fruit & Vegetable Growers Association (CFVGA) will feature a small farms workshop track throughout its sixth annual conference Feb. 24-25 at the Renaissance Denver Stapleton Hotel. Workshop sessions will include produce pricing strategies, developing & implementing a farm food safety plan, farm labor management best practices and record keeping & farm management.

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READ the NAFB’s National Ag News for Wednesday, January 15th

READ the NAFB’s National Ag News for Wednesday, January 15th

Sponsored by the American Farm Bureau Federation

McConnell: Senate to Process USMCA This Week

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell suggests the Senate will vote on the U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement this week. Bloomberg News expects a vote Thursday, as the Senate committees required to sign off on the implementing legislation are doing so quickly. However, a final vote has not been confirmed. The Senate Environment and Public Works Committee approved the agreement on a vote of 16-4 Tuesday morning. The Senate Budget Committee also approved the trade agreement Tuesday. Up next, the bill must be approved by the Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee, along with the Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee today (Wednesday). The Senate Foreign Relations Committee changed its hearing from Thursday to today (Wednesday), and the Senate Appropriations Committee is expected to do the same, sending the agreement to the full Senate for approval. The House of Representatives is expected to send the articles of impeachment to the Senate this week, but the trials won’t likely start until next week, offering a small window of opportunity for the Senate to pass the agreement.

China Imports of U.S. Soy, Pork, Rebound

China’s purchases of U.S. pork and soybeans rebounded in November and December, ahead of today’s (Wednesday’s) signing of the phase one trade agreement between the two nations. Reuters reports that Chinese agricultural imports from the United States were at 14.1 billion yuan, or $2 billion, in December. A Chinese customs spokesperson says the increase in imports of soybeans and pork comes as “positive U.S.-China trade sentiment has boosted companies’ confidence in December.” African swine fever has severely reduced China’s hog herd, the world’s largest producer and consumer of pork. China has since increased exports of U.S. pork to record levels. Pork exports to China and Hong Kong were up 49 percent in value at $1.18 billion from January to November 2019. Consumer prices for pork in China nearly doubled since the initial outbreak of African swine fever, and efforts to rebuild the hog herd in China are slow going. China has also released frozen pork from state-owned reserves to help ease the situation for consumers.

Trade Group Seeks Accountability and Transparency

A trade lobby group seeks accountability and transparency from the phase one agreement between the U.S. and China. Farmers for Free Trade seeks further details regarding both the China agreement, and the U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement. The China agreement includes $40 billion of increased purchases of U.S. agriculture products, according to the Trump administration. Farmers for Free Trade Co-Executive Director Brian Kuehl says, “There is a healthy skepticism about whether American farmers will actually see these purchases, adding “that skepticism is only compounded when we’re told we won’t see the full text of the deal.” Specifically, the organization is asking whether the $40 billion in ag purchases commitment is contingent on any actions by the U.S. and for details on how China will meet the commitment if it’s been made. Meanwhile, Chinese Vice Premier Liu (Lou) He was reported to be in last-minute talks with the U.S. ahead of today’s (Wednesday’s) signing ceremony. A potential phase two agreement is expected to tackle more sensitive issues between the U.S. and China.

GMA Rebrands as Consumer Brands Association

The Grocery Manufacturers Association is now the Consumer Brands Association, as part of a rebranding effort. Geoff Freeman, president and CEO of the association, says the Consumer Brands Association is “an entirely new organization with a focused, compelling agenda.” The association represents the grocery product industry. Research by the organization suggests the association should focus on concerns regarding transportation costs, growing investment and prioritization around sustainability. Board Chairman and CEO of General Mills, Jeff Harmening, says the association “will be a vital reflection of our united interests and alignment with today’s consumer.” From household and personal care to food and beverage products, the consumer-packaged goods sector contributes $2 trillion to U.S. GDP and supports more than 20 million American jobs. As the Grocery Manufacturers Association, the organization saw a handful of companies discontinue membership in 2017 over a GMO labeling disagreement. Several companies that left the organization went on to form the Sustainable Food Policy Alliance.

USDA Reminds Historically Underserved Producers of Advance Payment Option

The Department of Agriculture reminds historically underserved producers, who are participating in the Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP), of the advance payment option. The advanced payment option allows them to get conservation practice payments in advance of practice implementation. EQIP is administered by the Natural Resources Conservation Service. The program provides financial and technical assistance to address natural resource concerns and to deliver environmental benefits. In fiscal 2019, NRCS invested $1.3 billion through EQIP to implement conservation practices on more than 13 million acres. A historically underserved producer includes beginning farmers, socially disadvantaged farmers, veteran farmers and limited resource farmers. Under the advance payment option, producers may request payments when they have final designs and job sheets and are ready to begin their EQIP practices. Advance payments provide at least 50 percent of the payment rate for each practice. The funds must be spent within 90 days of receipt and practices must be completed as agreed to in an EQIP plan of operations.

Illinois Leads Nation in Soybean Production Again

Illinois continues to top the annual crop production report estimate for soybean production, according to 2019 Department of Agriculture estimates. Despite a tough growing season for most of the Midwest, Illinois farmers consistently produced strong soybean yields. Illinois soybean farmers raised 532.4 million bushels of soybeans in 2019 on 9.86 million harvested acres with an average yield of 54 bushels per acre. Illinois Soybean Association chairman Doug Schroeder says 2019 will be remembered as the most challenging growing season on record, but adds “I think this report reflects the Illinois soybean industry’s resiliency and ability to produce a consistent, high quality product year after year.” Iowa ranked second in production with 501.6 million bushels raised on 9.12 million acres. Nationwide, soybean production in 2019 totaled 3.56 billion bushels, down 20 percent from 2018. The average yield per acre was estimated at 47.4 bushels, down 3.2 bushels from 2018. Harvested area was down 14 percent from 2018 to 75.0 million acres.

SOURCE: NAFB News Service