READ the NAFB’s National Ag News for Thursday, February 20th

READ the NAFB’s National Ag News for Thursday, February 20th

Sponsored by the American Farm Bureau Federation

Farm Groups Come Together for Sustainability Discussion

Twenty-one farm and ranch groups that represent millions of U.S. farmers and ranchers are launching Farmers for a Sustainable Future. It’s a new coalition committed to environmental and economic sustainability. The coalition will serve as a primary resource for lawmakers and policymakers as they consider climate policies. One important task for the new coalition is to share with elected officials, media, and the public, U.S. agriculture’s commitment to sustainability and the incredible strides they’ve already made to reduce agriculture’s environmental footprint. As policy proposals are developed and considered, the goal is for the coalition and its guiding principles to serve as a foundation to ensure the adoption of meaningful and constructive policies and programs affecting agriculture. Those guiding principles include calling for policies that support science-based research, voluntary incentive-based conservation programs, investment in infrastructure, and solutions that ensure vibrant rural communities and a healthy planet. The coalition says farmers and ranchers are committed stewards of the land, leading the way to climate-smart farming by promoting soil health, conserving water, enhancing wildlife, using nutrients efficiently, and caring for their animals.

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Ag Groups Excited about New Sustainable Farming Coalition

Farm groups that represent millions of farmers and ranchers across the country have come together to form a new coalition called Farmers for a Sustainable Future. It’s a coalition committed to environmental and economic sustainability. One of the ag groups is the American Soybean Association. Their CEO, Ryan Findlay, says, “Soybean farmers have an awesome story to tell, including their sustainability initiatives, so it’s great to be able to collaborate with like-minded organizations to facilitate sound policy and program decisions and have a platform to share our efforts.” The National Council of Farmer Cooperatives also joined the coalition. Chuck Conner, President and CEO of the NCFC, says, “This effort is important as policymakers at both the state and federal levels, and our partners in the value chain develop programs to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and address climate change.” National Cattlemen’s Beef Association Vice President of Government Affairs Ethan Lane says, “Twenty-one agricultural groups are now standing side-by-side in unity to correct a false narrative that’s haunted us for as long as I can remember.” The National Pork Producers Council says farmers and ranchers are “committed stewards of the land” and leading the way in climate-smart farming.

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Meat Import Containers Piling Up in Chinese Ports

There are thousands of containers of frozen pork, chicken, and beef, all sitting in major Chinese ports because of the impact of the coronavirus outbreak. Bloomberg says transportation disruptions and labor shortages are slowing operations down drastically. People familiar with the situation tell Bloomberg that there aren’t enough truck drivers to pick up and move the containers due to travel restrictions imposed on the country to control the coronavirus. Ports are running out of electricity to help freeze the containers, while some ships have been told to move on to other destinations in mainland China or Hong Kong. China imports massive amounts of meat products from South America, Europe, and the United States. It’s been boosting purchases to help ease some of the shortages caused by the African Swine Fever outbreak that decimated its hog herds. Customs data shows that China boosted its imports of meat and offal by almost 50 percent last year to a record 6.2 million tons. It’s not known if or when port operations will be able to return to normal as truck drivers returning from other cities are quarantined for 14 days. Other transport restrictions on trucks also remain in place.

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China Offers More Tariff-Relief on U.S. Imports

The University of Illinois’ Farm Policy News website says reports are surfacing that China is looking at purchasing some U.S. farm products by early March. The gesture would be intended to show the U.S. that it will meet its commitments outlined in the Phase One trade deal. The Chinese government is in discussions over what commodities it could potentially buy at the end of February or in early March. The purchases would show the U.S. that China intends to stick to the trade deal despite the impact of the coronavirus outbreak. Additional reports from Reuters show that China intends to “grant exemptions on retaliatory duties imposed on almost 700 U.S. products,” which would be the most substantial tariff relief to be offered so far. That would be the third round of tariff relief offered by China and comes after the Phase One trade deal officially went into effect on February 14. China has already been issuing tariff waivers on more of an ad hoc basis for U.S. farm products, including soybeans. The exemption announcement that came this week includes energy products like crude oil.

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Don’t Forget to Complete Census of Agriculture Special Studies

The USDA’s National Ag Statistics Service continues to collect responses to the 2019 Organic Survey and the 2019 Census of Horticultural Specialties, both of which are special studies that take place every five years. The response window runs through March of this year. NASS is asking producers who received the questionnaires to respond online, by mail, or by telephone. “We are extending the deadlines for responses since we still have a steady stream of completed questionnaires coming in,” says NASS Administrator Hubert Hamer. “NASS produces the most comprehensive data about U.S. agriculture. Our record of accuracy is why NASS data continues to be used throughout the industry.” Hamer says the better response they get from the questionnaires means the better data they have to offer. “Responding to NASS surveys and censuses means contributing to the future,” Hamer adds. The resulting data will be used by commodity associations, agribusinesses, policymakers, researchers, Extension, and more. Producers who didn’t respond to the original deadline will receive a second questionnaire this month.

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CRP Signup Deadline Rapidly Approaching

The USDA is reminding producers interested in the Conservation Reserve Program that the signup deadline is on February 28. The 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. Farmers and ranchers who enroll in the program get yearly rental payments for voluntarily establishing long-term, resource-conserving plant species, such as approved grasses or trees, which can control soil erosion, improve water quality, and develop wildlife habitat on marginally productive agricultural lands. The CRP has 22 million acres currently enrolled, but the 2018 Farm Bill lifted that cap to 27 million. The program is marking its 35th anniversary in 2020 with many milestones. It’s prevented more than nine billion tons of soil from eroding, which is enough soil to fill 600 million dump trucks. The program has also sequestered an average of 49 million tons of greenhouse gases, equal to taking nine million cars off the road.

SOURCE: NAFB News Service

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