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Pelosi: USMCA Needs Changes

House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi caused doubt about whether or not Congress will approve the new U.S.-Mexico-Canada Free Trade Agreement. Pelosi and her party take control of the House next year. The Canadian Press says Pelosi met with U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer in her Capitol Hill office before issuing a statement that said the trade pact does have some positive aspects to it. However, she says, “It’s just a list without real enforcement of the labor and environmental positions.” In the statement, Pelosi said she and Lighthizer had a “constructive conversation.” The chief trade negotiator says that he wants Democrats to not only vote for the deal but to “be happy with the agreement.” Meantime, President Trump is now threatening to pull out of the North American Free Trade Agreement. That might potentially leave lawmakers either ratifying his trade agreement or going back to the pre-NAFTA trade laws. Pelosi called Trump’s tactic “disappointing but not surprising.

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Dairy Farmers Want Access to Japan

America’s dairy farmers are urging President Trump to work on opening up the Japanese market as soon as possible. Officials are getting ready to begin trade talks between the two countries next month. The National Milk Producers Federation was one of four groups that gave testimony at the U.S. International Trade Commission hearing on the potential trade pact. The Office of the U.S. Trade Representative will also hold a hearing on  Monday about the possible agreement with Japan. U.S. dairy exports to Japan could grow by 450 percent if American farmers had full access to the country’s market. It would also raise dairy farmers’ income by up to $12 billion over the next decade. However, Politico says there might be a problem with that idea. President Trump has already agreed not to press the Japanese Prime Minister, Shinzo Abe (AH-bay) to expand access to Japan’s ag markets when they agreed back in September to start talks aimed at establishing a bilateral agreement between the nations.

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October Tariffs Highest in History

Tariffs Hurt the Heartland released data that showed an increase in import tariffs and falling U.S. exports due to new tariffs and international retaliation. They say tariff costs to U.S. businesses have never been higher. The data is drawn from U.S. Census statistics on tariffs. It includes the first look at the full weight of the tariffs that were imposed on $200 billion in Chinese imports, as well as the impact of trade retaliation. The data shows that U.S. businesses paid $6.2 billion in tariffs during October. That’s the highest monthly amount in U.S. history. It’s also more than twice the amount that businesses paid in tariff costs last year. A Tariffs Hurt the Heartland release says the numbers don’t lie. “Americans are paying these taxes and they’re paying more than ever before,” says group spokesman Charles Boustany (boo-STAN-ee). The tariffs aren’t making our country wealthier, they’re doing the exact opposite.” Boustany says the data shows that the tariffs have been an unmitigated failure in achieving any of the Administrations’ goals. The former Congressman says, “American businesses, farmers, manufacturers, and consumers are suffering under the weight of the current tariffs and are reeling from the continued uncertainty over whether they’ll be increased further.”

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USDA Gives Schools Flexibility in Meal Preparation

Schools across the country now have additional options in serving students meals that are both healthy and appealing. USDA issued a final rule on school meals last week. A USDA release says the rule increases local flexibility in implementing school nutrition standards for milk, whole grains, and sodium. Ag Secretary Sonny Perdue says the final rule will deliver forward-thinking strategies that ensure school nutrition standards are both healthy and practical. “USDA is committed to serving meals that are both delicious and satisfying,” Perdue says. “These common-sense flexibilities provide excellent customer service to our local school nutrition professionals while giving children the world-class food service they deserve.” The USDA actions will benefit almost 99,000 schools that feed 30 million children annually through the USDA’s school meal program. The new rule lets schools provide low-fat flavored milk to children in school lunch programs. It requires half of the weekly grains in school food programs to be whole grain-rich. It also gives schools more time to reduce sodium levels in school meals.

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DOJ Recommends Supreme Court Not Touch CA Animal Welfare Laws

The U.S. Department of Justice filed a brief recommending that the Supreme Court not hear the lawsuit the state of Missouri filed against California. The subject of the lawsuit is California’s laws requiring larger enclosures for egg-laying hens and other animals. The industry website Meating Place Dot Com says the Department’s position could be a big benefit to animal rights groups and activists who are pushing for similar laws in other states. Missouri officials said in spite of the recommendations, they’ll be pushing ahead with their lawsuit against California. Missouri joined a dozen other states in filing the complaint last year. They argue that California’s laws, which were implemented in 2015, make interstate commerce much more difficult, which in turn drives up egg prices. In its brief, the Department of Justice says egg prices are determined “by a series of market factors.” Because of that, the Justice Department contends that the plaintiffs’ argument that California laws are raising egg prices in other states is not reasonable.

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Culver’s Support for Ag Education Tops $2 Million

The average age of American farmers is rising, coming in most recently at 58. The Culver’s restaurant chain wants to make sure that young people have access to quality agricultural education in order to properly maintain the nation’s future food supply. Culver’s has donated $465,000 to agricultural education, including the FFA, during 2018. The donations are a part of the Culver’s “Thank You Farmers” project, an initiative that supports agricultural education programs that teach smart farming. Culver’s raised money and awareness for ag education through a number of different outlets. The Scoops of Thanks Day raised over $111,000. Customers give a donation of $1 or more to local agricultural education programs in return for a free scoop of custard. A Culver’s news release says, “Every day we’re inspired by the passion and intelligence of our country’s agricultural students. Through the Thank You Farmers Program, we’re able to support them and ensure the agricultural industry has bright future leaders.” Culver’s established the Thank You Farmers program in 2013 and, with the help of its customers, has donated over $2 million to agricultural education programs since then.

SOURCE: NAFB News Service

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By Brian Allmer - The BARN

Brian Allmer & the BARN are members of the National Association of Farm Broadcasting (NAFB), the Colorado FFA Foundation, the Colorado 4H Foundation, the Colorado Farm Show Marketing Committee, 1867 Club Board Member, Denver Ag & Livestock Club Member, the Weld County Fair Board, the Briggsdale FFA Advisory Council, Briggsdale 4H Club Beef Leader & Founder / Coordinator of the Briggsdale Classic Open Jackpot Show.