02-28-20 In Case You Missed the 31st Farm Credit Colorado Agriculture Hall of Fame Watch it on Livestream

In Case You Missed the 31st Farm Credit Colorado Agriculture Hall of Fame Watch it on Livestream

The Colorado FFA Foundation recognized three inductees into the Farm Credit Colorado Agriculture Hall of Fame on February 26, 2020. Mr. Chris Dinsdale, Sterling, Mr. Charles Hanavan, Jr., Cheyenne Wells, and Mr. Don Shawcroft, Alamosa were formally inducted into the Farm Credit Colorado Agriculture Hall of Fame in February 2020 at the annual Hall of Fame Banquet.

“These gentlemen embody leadership, innovation and a strong commitment to agriculture.  We are honored to publicly thank them by inducting them into the Hall of Fame for all they have done and continue to do for agriculture.“ said Tom Lipetzky, Chairman of the Colorado FFA Foundation.

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02-28-20 In Case You Missed the 29th Governor’s Forum on Colorado Agriculture Watch it on Livestream

In Case You Missed the 29th Governor’s Forum on Colorado Agriculture Watch it on Livestream

Beyond just production and profit, what really drives agriculturists is possibility. The 2020 Governor’s Forum on Colorado Agriculture zeroes in on this innate quality, with a program full of dynamic speakers and presentations, featuring the latest in innovation, collaboration, and glimpses into what the possibilities of Colorado agriculture holds not just in the present, but the future. The Colorado Agriculture Leadership program is pleased to once again host the Governor’s Ag Forum, with this year’s theme, Brand It Agriculture, promising a day full of networking and discovering what lies ahead for our state’s second-largest economic driver.

What’s included in the Video Archive:

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02-28-20 Bishop, Peterson Introduce Bipartisan Bill to Delist Gray Wolf

Bishop, Peterson Introduce Bipartisan Bill to Delist Gray Wolf 

WASHINGTON – February 28, 2020 – Today, Ranking Republican Rob Bishop (R-Utah) and House Agriculture Committee Chairman Collin C. Peterson (D-Minn.) released the following statements on the “American Wild Game and Livestock Protection Act.” Introduced today, the legislation would require the Secretary of the Interior to delist the gray wolf from Endangered Species Act protections in the lower 48 states and enable states to enact their own rules regarding management of gray wolf populations.

“I’m happy to co-lead with Congressman Peterson on introducing this critical piece of bipartisan legislation. Gray wolves have been recovered for a long time now, and this bill will bring finality to the issue by allowing states to manage their population.” – Ranking Republican Rob Bishop (R-Utah)

“Gray wolf populations have reached sustainable levels and it is well past time to return authority over their management to the states. This bipartisan legislation will allow states to protect the livelihood of their livestock owners and preserve a healthy balance of wild animal populations.” – U.S. Representative Collin C. Peterson (D-Minn.)

Background: Continue reading

02-28-20 US Senators Gardner, Bennet Announce $225,000 Grant for the Southwest Chief and Front Range Passenger Rail Commission

US Senators Gardner, Bennet Announce $225,000 Grant for the Southwest Chief and Front Range Passenger Rail Commission

Washington, D.C. – Today U.S. Senators Cory Gardner (R-CO) and Michael Bennet (D-CO) announced the Department of Transportation (DOT) will award the Colorado Department of Transportation (CDOT) in partnership with the Southwest Chief and Front Range Passenger Rail Commission, a $225,000 grant through the Consolidated Rail Infrastructure and Safety Improvements (CRISI) program. This funding will go toward the Southwest Chief Thru-Car Service to Colorado Springs Feasibility Study.

“For years, I have worked with my colleagues and our state and local partners to support the Southwest Chief and today’s announcement is exciting news,” said Senator Gardner. “I’m pleased that the Department of Transportation awarded this grant to study the feasibility of extending service, which has the potential to bolster transportation connectivity and support our communities.”

“I am thankful for the partnership over the years between local, state, and Congressional leaders on preserving the Southwest Chief’s services, and I am committed to continuing to invest in our rural infrastructure,” said Senator Bennet. “This grant will allow CDOT and the Southwest Chief and Front Range Passenger Rail Commission to explore the ways in which we can improve accessibility and to continue to provide vital services to rural Coloradans.”

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02-28-20 USDA Secretary Perdue Directs USDA Fleet to Increase Biofuels Usage, Announces Notice of Funding for Biofuels Infrastructure Program

USDA Secretary Perdue Directs USDA Fleet to Increase Biofuels Usage, Announces Notice of Funding for Biofuels Infrastructure Program
Perdue Commends “DJ” LaVoy on Retirement and Successful Career
WASHINGTON, D.C., February 28, 2020 – U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue issued a memo today directing the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) to acquire alternative fueled vehicles (AFV) when replacing conventionally fueled vehicles. USDA owns and operates one of the largest civilian fleets in the Federal Government and this move to a fleet that can use E85 or biodiesel will increase efficiencies and performance. Additionally, as part of the President Donald J. Trump’s October agreement to seek opportunities to facilitate the availability of higher biofuel blends across the country, USDA will make $100 million in grants available this year for the newly created Higher Blends Infrastructure Incentive Program (HBIIP). Through this program, transportation fueling and biodiesel distribution facilities will be able to apply for grants to help install, retrofit, and/or upgrade fuel storage, dispenser pumps, related equipment and infrastructure to be able to sell ethanol and biodiesel. The Department plans to publish application deadlines and other program information in the Federal Register this spring.

“Both of these actions underscore USDA is putting our money where our mouth is when it comes to increased biofuels usage. Expanding nationwide infrastructure that offers biofuels and increasing the number of biofuel capable vehicles in our fleet will increase the use of environmentally friendly fuel with decreased emissions, driving demand for our farmers and improving the air we breathe,” Secretary Perdue said. “President Trump is fighting for our corn and soybean growers and biofuel producers by finalizing year-round E15, ensuring that more than 15 billion gallons of ethanol and 2.43 billion gallons of biodiesel enters the market in 2020, and opening up new markets abroad. USDA will continue to do its part to encourage the use of homegrown energy.”

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02-28-20 USDA Secretary Perdue Announces New RD Leadership

USDA Secretary Perdue Announces New RD Leadership

Perdue Commends “DJ” LaVoy on Retirement and Successful Career
WASHINGTON, D.C., February 28, 2020 – Today, U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue announced Bette Brand will serve as the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Rural Development (RD) Deputy Under Secretary following the retirement of Donald “DJ” LaVoy.

“DJ LaVoy is a true public servant and brought decades of leadership in economic development and affordable housing. We are appreciative of his service here at USDA and wish him nothing but the best as he heads into retirement,” said Secretary Perdue. “The mission of Rural Development to improve the economy and quality of life in rural America will continue to advance with Bette at the helm. Like President Trump, Bette’s drive and tenacity to fight for those living in rural areas and to increase rural prosperity is admirable. She is perfectly suited for this role.” Continue reading

02-28-20 USDA Opens Wildfires and Hurricane Indemnity Program Plus (WHIP+)

USDA Opens Wildfires and Hurricane Indemnity Program Plus (WHIP+)
Sign up March 23, 2020, for Producers Impacted by Drought or Excess Moisture as well as Announces Provisions for Sugar Beet Producer
WASHINGTON, D.C., February 28, 2020 – U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue today announced additional disaster assistance available to agricultural producers, including producers impacted by drought and excess moisture as well as sugar beet growers. Through WHIP+, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) is helping producers recover from losses related to 2018 and 2019 natural disasters.
USDA’s Farm Service Agency (FSA) will open signup on March 23 for producers to apply for eligible losses of drought (D3 or above) and excess moisture. USDA is also entering into agreements with six sugar beet processing cooperatives to distribute $285 million to grower members of those cooperatives who experienced loss.
“It’s true that farmers and ranchers are no strangers to the impact natural disasters have on their operations, but disaster events the past two years have been atypically widespread, relentless and unforgiving,” Secretary Perdue said. “In some instances, producers have suffered multiple disaster events in one year or in several years back-to-back. I am pleased that Congress has afforded USDA the authority to continue providing much-needed assistance to producers who have lost so much these last few years. President Trump has the backs of our farmers, and we aim to support them as they recover.”

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READ the NAFB’s National Ag News for Friday, February 28th

READ the NAFB’s National Ag News for Friday, February 28th

Sponsored by the American Farm Bureau Federation

EPA Set to Back Down on Ethanol Waivers

The Environmental Protection Agency is backing down on its extensive use of blending exemptions for smaller oil refiners. A Reuters report says the decision comes after last month’s 10th ​Circuit Court of Appeals ruling that vacated three existing waivers and set stricter requirements for exempting refineries from their obligations under the Renewable Fuels Standard. It’s been well-documented that the EPA drastically ramped up its use of refinery waivers under President Donald Trump. That sparked a fierce backlash from farmers who have largely supported the president despite policies like trade tariffs that have hit the U.S. agricultural sector hard. The White House has been struggling to find a compromise between oil and agriculture, two of the bigger pieces of Trump’s political base as he looks toward possible re-election. The court decision from January found that only small oil refineries that had maintained blending exemptions continuously since 2011 were eligible to apply for extended waivers. Oil and biofuel industry estimates both say that could preclude all but three oil refineries from obtaining exemptions. The EPA is currently reviewing 23 petitions for blending waivers and most are expected to be rejected.

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Committee Hearing Highlights Differences over Trade Policies and Aid

At a House Ways and Means Committee hearing, the split between farmers and lawmakers over the trade policies of President Trump was a big topic of conversation. Another big topic of discussion included the impact of the Phase One trade deal with China. An Agri-Pulse report describes Republicans on the committee as playing down the overall impact of the trade war and saying the trade agreement with China was a “major success.” Democrats pointed out that tariffs are continuing to restrict trade. Both sides of the political aisle said Trump’s duties on imports and the resulting retaliatory tariffs hurt the U.S. agricultural sector. Some people at the hearing were optimistic that China would follow through on its promise to purchase $80 billion worth of farm products over the next two years. Others weren’t convinced and said billions more in government assistance may be needed to further blunt the damage from a continuing loss of overseas exports. Minnesota farmer Tim DuFault was one of the witnesses at the committee hearing and said, “As far as the Phase One deal goes, the purchases that haven’t yet materialized are a promise, while the tariffs are for real. Commodity prices, which plummeted when the trade war began, have actually fallen further after the U.S. and China signed the phase one deal.”

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Hemp Growers Get Good News

The Drug Enforcement Agency says it won’t require all labs testing the THC levels of U.S. hemp to be certified by the agency during the 2020 crop year. Politico says that offers producers a little more flexibility because it will alleviate potential bottlenecks at the more limited number of labs that have the certification. Greg Ibach (EYE-baw), the Undersecretary for Marketing and Regulatory Programs, first announced the change during remarks given to the National Association of State Departments of Agriculture. The department is also planning to give states more options for disposing of “hot hemp,” which are plants with THC levels above 0.3 percent, which is the legal threshold. When the department first released its initial regulatory framework for hemp production, farmers and state regulators pointed out that some states don’t have a single lab certified by the DEA, such as Alabama. That would greatly slow down testing, which is required to happen during a 15-day window before harvest. Delays would eventually threaten the market viability of the crop.

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Consumers will Stop Buying Pork if AFS Hits the U.S.

Bill Even, CEO of the National Pork Board, says the results of consumer research have amplified the need to promote safety in the event of a large foreign animal disease outbreak. Swine Web Dot Com says at the onset of the African Swine Fever crisis in 2018, the checkoff polled consumers about their perceptions of the safety of pork. After giving consumers more information about how it’s a viral disease in pigs, not humans, and telling them it’s not a public health threat, more than half of the consumers who responded to the checkoff survey say they would stop eating pork if ASF was found in the U.S. Consumers wondered in the event of an outbreak if the public “should be eating pork.” Others asked if it should still be for sale in the store in the event of an ASF outbreak. Hispanic respondents, who tend to eat more pork than other consumer demographics, had even more concern about the ability to have pork on the shelves that’s safe for consumers to eat. Even says the checkoff, along with partners like USDA, has developed video resources for consumers that are available in case there is a disease outbreak. “Rest assured, there will be millions of dollars at the ready should we have an event occur around a foreign animal disease,” Even says.

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Fertilizer Price Volatility Began in 2002

Fertilizers are important for the nutrients they provide in the production of crops. However, their prices have been more volatile in the last six years than ever before. From 1960 through 2002, both fertilizer and crop prices received by farmers increased in tandem at a fairly modest rate. Between 2002 and 2008, annual fertilizer prices paid by farmers increased rapidly, generally at a much faster rate than the prices farmers were paid for their crops. Fertilizer prices also became more volatile over those six years. Fertilizer price increases through 2008 were largely driven by high energy prices and the record costs of natural gas, which is a basic input in producing nitrogen. In response to record fertilizer prices in 2008, farmers reduced their use of fertilizers, contributing to a decline of 18 percent in fertilizer prices through 2010. Fertilizer prices recovered through 2012, driven by strong domestic demand for plant nutrients due to high crop prices, before declining afterward. Since June of 2017, fertilizer prices and crop prices received have both trended upwards.

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Maine Representative Introduces the Ag Resilience Act

Maine Representative Chellie Pingree introduced what she calls the “Ag Resilience Act,” which she says would promote “farmer-driven climate solutions.” The bill envisions reaching a net-zero greenhouse gas emissions in U.S. agriculture by the year 2040. “Farming has always been a risky business, but unpredictable, extreme weather patterns are creating immense challenges that threaten our nation’s food production and jeopardize the livelihood of American farmers,” Pingree says. The Maine Rep has been an organic farmer for more than 40 years. “Last year, farmers were unable to plant 19.6 million acres of crops due to record-breaking rainfall,” she says. “We must be proactive to keep farmers on the land and in business.” The bill contains provisions for increasing agricultural research, improving soil health, and protecting farmland by increasing funding for the Local Agriculture Market Program and the Agriculture Conservation Easement Program. The bill was endorsed by the National Farmers Union, the American Farmland Trust, the National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition, and the Union of Concerned Scientists.

SOURCE: NAFB News Service

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02-27-20 Governor Polis, Lieutenant Governor Primavera Unveil 2020 Health Care Roadmap

CLICK HERE to view the entire document

Governor Polis, Lieutenant Governor Primavera Unveil 2020 Health Care Roadmap

DENVER – On Thursday, Feb. 27, 2020, Colorado Governor Polis and Lieutenant Governor Primavera released an updated 2020 Roadmap to Saving Coloradans Money on Health Care to reflect the progress made over the last year to lower health care costs for Coloradans. The governor and lieutenant governor first released the roadmap in April of 2019. They were joined by state lawmakers and advocates at the state capitol today.

“We’re proud of what we’ve accomplished over the last year in partnership with Republican and Democratic legislators to help save Coloradans money on health care, but there’s more work to do,” said Governor Jared Polis. “Everywhere I go people tell me they are tired of getting ripped off on health care, which is why reinsurance, hospital transparency, lowering prescription drug costs and the public option are important tools to lowering prices and putting money back into the pockets of individuals and families. As long as the sky-high cost of health care continues to be a point of anxiety for Coloradans, saving people money on health care will be a priority for our administration.” Continue reading

02-27-20 Leon Vick Promoted to Vice President of Rodeo, Horse and Livestock Operations at NWSS

Leon Vick Promoted to Vice President of Rodeo, Horse and Livestock Operations at NWSS

DENVER, CO – National Western Stock Show (NWSS) is pleased to announce the promotion of Leon Vick to Vice President of Rodeo, Horse and Livestock Operations. For the past several years, Vick managed the rodeo and horse show departments for the NWSS. The office of Livestock Operations was vacated by former Senior Director, Marshall Ernst who retired at the end of January after ten years with the Stock Show. Continue reading

02-27-20 Colorado Governor Polis Commends USDA for Evolving Approach to Hemp Testing

Colorado Governor Polis Commends USDA for Evolving Approach to Hemp Testing

DENVER – Following reports that the federal government is abandoning its proposed requirement for utilizing only DEA approved laboratories for testing hemp, Gov. Jared Polis released the following statement:

“Colorado is leading the way when it comes to hemp production and cultivation. I’m relieved that the USDA and Sec. Perdue are recognizing the concerns that Colorado raised in our comments on the interim final rule. This move will help create more job opportunities, will help our farmers and our economy,” said Governor Jared Polis.  Continue reading

02-27-20 Register for the 2020 World Pork Expo: June 3-5 in Des Moines, Iowa

Register for the 2020 World Pork Expo

Join more than 20,000 industry professionals and supporters at a pork-focused trade show hosted June 3-5 in Des Moines

DES MOINES, Iowa, Feb. 27, 2020 – Registration is now open for the 2020 World Pork Expo presented by the National Pork Producers Council (NPPC). Attendees, media and exhibitors can complete their registration by visiting the World Pork Expo website. This year’s trade show will be hosted from June 3 to 5 at the Iowa State Fairgrounds.

“We are thrilled to continue the tradition of the World Pork Expo this year,” said David Herring, NPPC president, and pork producer from Lillington, N.C. “There’s truly something for everyone at the Expo — from the trade show to networking. Anyone in the pork industry is encouraged to attend!”

With 360,000 square feet of exhibition space, more than 500 exhibitors are planned for the 2020 World Pork Expo. 

Continually Maximizing Indoor and Outdoor Trade Show Space

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02-27-20 American Lamb Jam Set for Epic 10th Year, includes Denver, CO on August 23rd!

American Lamb Jam Set for Epic 10th Year, includes Denver, CO on August 23rd!

A little more than a decade ago, the American Lamb Board (ALB) came up with a novel idea: create an event featuring a city’s most innovative chefs, giving them a venue to showcase and reward their talents. And, use this event to introduce consumers to American Lamb’s great taste while enjoying it with friends. Thus Lamb Jam began.

Now, 10 years later, the American Lamb Jam is an epic chef competition and gastronomic experience that brings together the most talented chefs at each of the 6 tour stops to vie for the title of Lamb Jam Champion and celebrate the 80,000 family operated farms and ranches raising lamb across the nation.

“Lamb Jam is attracting millennials who afterwards appreciate the versatility of lamb and are likely to ask their butcher for American Lamb,” said Gwen Kitzan, ALB chairman from Nisland, SD. “I encourage the sheep community to visit the Lamb Jam website, www.americanlambjam.com, to see how your American Lamb checkoff is showcasing our products to consumers and influencers.”

Evaluation data following the 2019 tour indicates Lamb Jam’s success: Continue reading

02-27-20 Truterra, LLC and Syngenta collaborate to support growers with cutting-edge stewardship advancement capabilities

Truterra, LLC and Syngenta collaborate to support growers with cutting-edge stewardship advancement capabilities

Truterra™ Insights Engine by Truterra and Syngenta’s AgriEdge® robust data analytics, along with their extensive ag retailer networks, will make stewardship more accessible and streamlined for U.S. growers to benefit the entire food value chain.

WASHINGTON, D.C. and ARDEN HILLS, Minn., USA, Feb. 27, 2020 – Truterra (formerly Land O’Lakes SUSTAIN) and Syngenta announced today that they are collaborating to offer a step-change in stewardship and conservation best practices for U.S. growers while helping them focus on maximizing acre-by-acre productivity and profitability.

This technology-based alliance will make use of data analytics from both the TruterraTM Insights Engine and the Syngenta AgriEdge® platform. The combined power of insights and expertise will help assess and improve soil health, carbon sequestration, greenhouse gas emissions, livestock lifecycle assessment and water management on American farms.

“We believe this long-term effort will enhance retailers’ experience when servicing growers that use the Truterra and AgriEdge systems,” said Jason Weller, vice president, Truterra, LLC. “In addition, Consumer Packaged Goods companies will have far greater visibility into their sourcing sustainability when working with both Syngenta and Truterra customers.”

“Teaming up our systems will reduce data entry for growers and retailers, and enable seamless data flow,” said Aaron Deardorff, Syngenta head of Digital Solutions in North America. “This capability will enable growers to establish a baseline stewardship level on each agricultural field and benchmark against other fields they farm, or those in their geography, with the appropriate level of grower data privacy.” Continue reading

02-27-20 Join the rest of the food chain at the 2020 Stakeholders Summit in Arlington, Va. May 7-8

Join the rest of the food chain at the 2020 Stakeholders Summit in Arlington, Va. May 7-8

Program includes discussions around sustainability, animal welfare and other hot topics

Leaders from farm to fork will gather for the Animal Agriculture Alliance’s 2020 Stakeholders Summit in Arlington, Va. May 7-8. Make sure you’re part of the conversation by registering today. To register, visit Summit.AnimalAgAlliance.org.

“This is one of the best organized and beneficial conferences I have attended. From the conversation and connections to the content…I often recommend that dietitians and others in the retail, restaurant and foodservice industry attend.”

– Leah McGrath, RDN, LDN, retail dietitian, Ingles Markets

Themed Primed & Prepared, the 2020 Summit will feature sessions covering sustainability, animal welfare, building relationships from farm to fork, preparing for animal rights activist campaigns and other hot topics. Attendees will leave primed and prepared with the tools they need to take action and be part of any and all conversations that could impact the future of their business.

LEARN MORE & GET REGISTERED TODAY!

02-01-20 USDA Reminds Producers of February 28th Deadline for Conservation Reserve Program General Signup

USDA Reminds Producers of February 28th Deadline for Conservation Reserve Program General Signup

WASHINGTON, February 1, 2020 – The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) reminds agricultural producers interested in the Conservation Reserve Program (CRP) 2020 general signup to enroll by February 28, 2020. This signup is available to farmers and private landowners who are either enrolling for the first time or re-enrolling for another 10- to 15-year term.

“This is the first opportunity for general sign up since 2016, and we want producers and private landowners to know that we have just one month remaining,” FSA Administrator Richard Fordyce said. “It is critical that they make their final determinations and submit offers very soon to take advantage of this popular conservation program.” Continue reading

USDA – FAS Weekly Export Sales Report for February 27th

USDA FAS - Foreign Agricultural Service header

Weekly Export Sales for February 27th

READ the NAFB’s National Ag News for Thursday, February 27th

READ the NAFB’s National Ag News for Thursday, February 27th

Sponsored by the American Farm Bureau Federation

Deadline for CRP Signup is Friday

The deadline to get involved in the Conservation Reserve Program is this Friday, February 28. Agricultural producers and private landowners need to make an offer of acres or schedule an appointment to do so with their local USDA service center by Friday. The signup first opened in December and is available to producers and private landowners who are either offering acres for the first time or re-offering acres for another 10-15 year term in the Farm Service Agency’s conservation program. “Call your FSA county office today to make an appointment to sign up for the Conservation Reserve Program,” says FSA Administrator Richard Fordyce. “As long as you have an appointment scheduled, your CRP offer will be able to compete in this general signup, even if the appointment is in the first week of March. This is the first opportunity for general signup since 2016 and we want to make sure interested producers and landowners take advantage of the popular conservation program.” Farmers and ranchers who enroll land in CRP receive yearly rental payments for voluntarily establishing long-term, resource-conserving plant species, such as approved grasses or trees, which are called “covers.” CRP currently has about 22 million acres enrolled, but the fiscal cap for 2020 is 24.5 million acres.

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Agriculture Still Slowing Pace of EU, U.S. Trade Talks

U.S. President Donald Trump is turning up the heat on Brussels when it comes to trade discussions. He’s set on taking down some trade barriers to so-called “chlorine chicken,” GMO crops, and other U.S. products that don’t fit into the EU’s strict food safety standards. The two sides are still stuck on agriculture, which isn’t helping the talks that have struggled to get off the ground since 2018. Each side has been talking up the potential of a deal ahead in the coming weeks or months. EU Trade Commissioner Phil Hogan has said recently he’s aiming for a mini agreement as soon as March 18. U.S. officials have long been unhappy with the EU policy that tightly controls agricultural tools like pesticides. Hogan notes that U.S. rules currently block sales of European apples and pears, so there is an opening for regulatory tradeoffs on both sides of the Atlantic. Politico says the U.S., is an agricultural powerhouse that has seen its share of the EU market shrink steadily for decades. The trade deficit with Europe topped $2 billion in 1989 and evolved into a $15 billion deficit in 2019.

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Trump Leaves India without a New Trade Deal

President Trump is leaving India without the trade deal in place he was hoping for. The U.S. president was looking to expand access to the massive market for U.S. dairy goods and other products like motorcycles and medical devices. India currently has tariffs on American farm goods at an average rate of 32.8 percent. As if that’s not high enough, India has 100 percent tariffs on raisins and coffee, as well as 150 percent on alcoholic beverages. For the second time since last September, when India’s prime minister visited the U.S., the two sides failed to reach even a limited “mini-trade deal,” which would increase trade on focused groups of goods, which would include dairy products. The New York Times says negotiators have worked since 2018 on a deal that would lower India’s barriers to some American products, as well as restore India’s access to a program that allows goods to enter the U.S. tariff-free. The U.S. India Business Council released a statement that says,” Both sides are tuned into their own political imperatives and not where the other side might have an area of accommodation. That makes it harder to find where the common ground is and where a deal could be struck.”  

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Wisconsin Representative Asks Perdue for More Certainty

Wisconsin Representative Ron Kind fired off a letter to Ag Secretary Sonny Perdue demanding more information after the Secretary and the President brought up the possibility of more trade aid for farmers. Perdue had recently told farmers “not to anticipate” more aid in 2020, but Kind points out that the purchases promised in the trade deal with China have not materialized yet. The president says the trade aid would be paid for by tariffs the Administration has slapped on imported goods. However, Kind says that’s a tax actually paid for by working families. Because the purchases outlined in the Phase One trade deal haven’t happened yet, the Wisconsin Representative is pushing for a clear plan from the Ag Department on how they will enforce China’s commitments and ensure farmers “see the proof” of these purchases as promised. “Farmers in Wisconsin have been forced to bear the burden of this Administration’s trade war for nearly two years,” Kind says in the letter. “This deal was supposed to bring them some much-needed relief but instead, the secretary and the president continue to create more uncertainty.” Kind says he’s consistently expressed concerns that the agreement wasn’t fully binding like a more traditional trade agreement.

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Commodity Experts Worried About the Coronavirus

Commodity experts at the International Sweetener Colloquium say announcements on the spread of the coronavirus and the falling stock market are making them nervous about the future. The director of dairy market intelligence for High Ground Dairy says fear is gripping the entire supply chain. While dairy prices have risen recently after multiple bad years, the coronavirus could pull dairy prices lower. That means price forecasting in any agricultural sector is extremely difficult. Stephen Nicholson is a senior analyst for Rabo AgriFinance, who says, “We have to be ready for more volatility as we see trade disrupted. We’re going to see economic activity contract and there may be a little more downside than we’d thought.” He’s not in the same camp as those who are sure that the Chinese will fulfill their promises to buy $40 billion to $50 billion in agricultural products. Nicholson says commodity prices are low, which means China will have to buy a lot of products to spend that much money. The Hagstrom Report quotes Nicholson as saying the Trump Administration will have to make a “tough decision on whether to punish China if they don’t live up to their promises.”

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Wisconsin Senator Working to Slow the Tide of Dairy Bankruptcies

Wisconsin is currently leading the nation in farm bankruptcies, a position that no one wants to be in. Wisconsin Senator Tammy Baldwin is working to give flexibility to local banks and credit unions to help fight the surging number of farm bankruptcies. Local financial institutions like banks and credit unions are restricted in their regulatory lending ability to farmers, even though they are uniquely positioned to help farmers get the loans they need to get by. In a letter to financial regulators, Baldwin and John Thune from South Dakota are urging the federal government to give those local banks and credit unions the flexibility they need to help farmers navigate through these tough economic conditions. Baldwin says, “We’re calling on the federal government to lift the regulatory restrictions on local financial institutions to ensure our farmers have the tools to be successful and move our state forward.” Baldwin and Thune sent their letter to financial regulators from the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System, the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation, the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency, and the National Credit Union Administration.

SOURCE: NAFB News Service

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READ the NAFB’s National Ag News for Wednesday, February 26th

READ the NAFB’s National Ag News for Wednesday, February 26th

Sponsored by the American Farm Bureau Federation

Progress on Implementing the Phase One Trade Deal with China

Ag Secretary Sonny Perdue and U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer announced that China has taken numerous actions to begin implementing its agriculture-related commitments in the Phase One trade deal. The countries first entered into the landmark agreement back on February 14. China’s actions toward implementing the deal include signing a protocol that allows the importation of U.S. fresh chipping potatoes. They’ve lifted the ban on imports of U.S. poultry and poultry products, including pet food containing poultry products. China has lifted restrictions on imports of U.S. pet food that contains ruminant material. They’ve also updated lists of facilities approved for exporting animal protein, pet food, dairy infant formula, and tallow for industry use to China. The Chinese government has also updated the lists of products that can be exported to China as feed additives. Additionally, China has begun announcing tariff exclusions for imports of U.S. agricultural products subject to its retaliatory tariffs, and it announced a reduction in retaliatory tariff rates on certain U.S. agricultural goods. Lighthizer says, “We’re already seeing positive results just a month after signing the agreement with China. We will continue to ensure the agreement is strictly enforced for the benefit of our workers, farmers, ranchers, and businesses.”

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Wheat Exports Set to Rise

Ag Secretary Sonny Perdue had good news for U.S. wheat farmers. Effective immediately, U.S. wheat can now be shipped to Kenya regardless of the state of origin or which port of export it comes from. This important step means that Idaho, Oregon, and Washington can now join the list of states that can ship wheat to Kenya. “America’s farmers in the Pacific Northwest now have full access to the Kenyan wheat market,” says Greg Ibach (EYE-baw), USDA Undersecretary for Marketing and Regulatory Programs. “This action proves our commitment to securing fair treatment and greater access for U.S. products in the global marketplace.” The USDA’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service has been working closely with Kenya for 12 years to address plant health concerns that kept U.S. wheat exports from Idaho, Oregon, and Washington, out of Kenya. The export protocol signed off on by Kenya’s Plant Health Inspectorate Service and APHIS gives U.S. exporters full access to the wheat market in Kenya, valued at nearly $500 million annually.

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Doing a Deep Dive into U.S. Dairy Consumption

It’s no secret that the dairy sector has been struggling with low milk prices for years. Agricultural Economic Insights took a deep dive into the U.S. dairy industry in the face of rising bankruptcies among small farmers and big milk processors like Dean Foods. Fluid milk consumption per capita in the U.S. has been falling for decades. However, consumers are actually buying more dairy goods overall, including more butter and cheese. Cheese consumption per capita has doubled since 1975, with mozzarella and cheddar each representing about 30 percent of consumption in 2018; butter consumption has grown by a third since 2001 and a Politico article says part of that surge comes because fat has lost some of its stigma among dietary health advocates. Per-capita yogurt consumption was steadily climbing up till 2014 before dropping over the past five years. Fluid milk consumption dropped more than 40 percent since 1975, or about 1.2 percent per year. In the meantime, alternatives like almond and soymilk have grown in popularity. Overall, the dairy industry is primarily driven by slow rates of changes unfolding over several decades,” says AEI farm economist David Widmar. Farm bankruptcies in the dairy industry jumped by nearly 20 percent in 2019.

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UK Farmers Union Wants High Food Standards in Trade Negotiations

The United Kingdom shouldn’t allow imports of food that fall short of the country’s own standards when it draws up trade agreements. That thought comes directly from the head of the UK’s National Farmers Union. NFU President Minette Batters says domestic production standards should be used as a benchmark in trade talks. Business Times Dot Com says her comments signal that British farmers would face a setback if the government allows imports of products that are treated with certain chemicals or made using lesser animal-welfare rules. After leaving the European Union last month, the UK is working on getting trade talks going with multiple nations that cover everything from food trade to data protection. “It’s not just about chlorinated chicken,” Batters says in a statement. “This is about a wider principle. We must not tie the hands of British farmers to the highest rung of the standards ladder while waving through food imports which may not even reach the bottom rung.” As it has in America, trade uncertainty is weighing down UK farm sentiment, with one-year confidence falling to its third-lowest point since 2010.

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U.S. Facing a Sugar Shortage and Higher Prices

Last year was a rough one for American sugar farmers. The Hagstrom Report says America is facing a sugar shortage after last year’s bad weather in the Midwest, a freeze in Louisiana, and drought in Mexico. The shortage is driving the prices for the industrial sweetener higher, reaching several cents above average. A national refiner of raw sugar is offering refined cane sugar at 44 cents per pound now and 41 cents for the calendar year 2021. That’s compared with the more usual prices of 37 to 38 cents. The bad weather hit particularly hard in the Red River Valley of North Dakota and Minnesota. Those areas have some of the most sophisticated delivery systems to candy makers and other food companies in Chicago and other midwestern cities. The U.S. Ag Department can make changes if needed to its sugar management system to make it easier and cheaper to bring in raw cane sugar from other countries into the United States, but also has no control over the refining process once the sugar enters the country. The U.S. sugar industry used to have 104 production plants but now has 45.

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More Farmers Converting to Organic

U.S. farmers harvested almost 3.3 million acres of certified organic field crops in 2019, with that number driven by 14 percent more organic operations. Those numbers come from Mercaris, the market data service and online trading platform for organic, non-GMO, and certified agricultural commodities. The company’s final 2019 report shows that the number of growers converting land to organic production escalated significantly throughout 2019, adding to the U.S. organic harvest and offsetting the impact of a wet growing season. Producers harvested 1.1 million acres of organic hay and alfalfa in 2019, up eight percent year-over-year with 11 percent more certified organic operations. Thirteen percent more certified organic operations harvested organic corn over 2019, offsetting a significant decline in the number of harvested acres per operation. The number of certified operations harvesting organic soybeans reached 2,835, up 11 percent. The amount of harvested organic wheat acres was driven by expansion in the High Plains region, growing 16 percent in 2019. A release from Mercaris says, “Despite what can fairly be described as the most difficult growing season in more than a decade, 2019 was a remarkable year for organic production.”

SOURCE: NAFB News Service

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