READ the NAFB’s National Ag News for Tuesday, December 11th

Sponsored by the American Farm Bureau Federation

Farm Bill Text Released *UPDATED*

Leadership of the farm bill conference report late Monday released the text of the bill to be considered by Congress later this week. The 2018 farm bill, titled the Agriculture Improvement Act of 2018, reflects a hard-fought bipartisan, bicameral agreement on a five-year farm bill to strengthen U.S. agricultural, according to leadership. Senate Agriculture Committee Chairman Pat Roberts thanked his counterparts, in announcing the text, for “coming to and staying at the table to reach a bipartisan” agreement. House Agriculture Committee Chairman Mike Conaway says “passing a farm bill this week that strengthens the farm safety net is vitally important.” The conference report was signed by the Senate and House Farm Bill conferees and will be considered with a vote in both chambers, likely Wednesday and Thursday of this week.

The full text of the report is available here: https://docs.house.gov/billsthisweek/20181210/CRPT-115hrpt1072.pdf

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Washington Post Calls Farm Bill a Bad Outcome

The Washington Post editorial board over the weekend called the 2018 farm bill a bad outcome that “could have been worse.” The editorial board says the farm bill “simply maintains the existing set of subsidy programs, bloated and wasteful as they often are.” Lawmakers are expected to consider the conference committee report of the farm bill this week, with votes possible Wednesday and Thursday. The bill largely continues much of the 2014 farm bill, which expired at the end of September. It does make few changes, most notably to dairy programs. The biggest complaint by the Washington Post focuses on a so-called loophole that allows extended relatives of a family farm to receive safety net benefits. That’s a measure that Senator Chuck Grassley of Iowa last week said may jeopardize his support for the bill.

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U.S.-China Deal Needed by March 2019

U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer says the U.S. and China must reach a trade agreement by March. Lighthizer said March 1st is a “hard deadline” for a long-term deal to be reached between the two nations, according to Politico. Lighthizer says the administration wants additional market access for U.S. producers and structural changes by China to protect American technology. If an agreement cannot be reached, more tariffs are expected, according to Lighthizer. Currently, while tariffs remain in place, the two nations agreed to a ceasefire that will stop any future tariff announcements, if the two nations stay engaged in trade talks. U.S. agriculture is eager for China to remove tariffs on U.S. farm products, and awaiting the Trump-announced China purchases of agricultural commodities, as part of the recent G20 talks between China and the United States.

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U.S. Beef Exports Still Red-Hot; Pork Exports Slightly Below Year-Ago Level

U.S. beef exports remained on a record-shattering value pace in October, according to data released by USDA and compiled by the U.S. Meat Export Federation. October pork exports trended seasonally higher compared to recent months but were still below the results posted in October 2017. October beef exports totaled 117,800 metric tons, up six percent from a year ago, valued at $727.4 million – up ten percent and the second-highest monthly total on record. For January through October, beef exports totaled 1.13 million metric tons, up nine percent year-over-year, while value was up 17 percent. October pork export volume was 207,725 metric tons, the largest since May but still two percent lower year-over-year, reflecting smaller variety meat exports. Export value was also the largest since May but still down five percent from a year ago. For January through October, pork exports were one percent above last year’s record pace at 2.02 million metric tons, while value was also up one percent. Dan Halstrom, USMEF president and CEO says of the pork numbers, that “Despite some very significant obstacles, global demand dynamics for U.S. pork remain strong.”

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NBB Seeks Long-Term Extension of the Biodiesel Tax Incentive

The National Biodiesel Board Monday urged lawmakers to enact a multiyear extension of the biodiesel and renewable diesel tax incentive. A letter sent to leadership of the House and Senate seeks the extension before Congress adjourns for the year. In February 2018, Congress retroactively extended the tax incentive for 2017, leaving it expired for this year and beyond. In the letter, the biodiesel industry stakeholders state, “a multiyear extension of the tax incentive would help the biodiesel industry achieve substantial growth over the next several years, creating significant new employment opportunities, an important market for agricultural products and renewable feedstocks, as well as opportunities for rural economic growth.” The U.S. biodiesel and renewable diesel market has grown from about 100 million gallons in 2005, when the incentive was first implemented, to nearly 2.9 billion gallons in 2016.

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Former Ag Secretary Bergland Passes

Former Agriculture Secretary Bob Bergland died over the weekend. The former secretary in the Jimmy Carter Administration from Northern Minnesota served agriculture at a time when Carter made an unpopular decision to embargo grain sales to the Soviet Union. The 90-year-old Bergland, a Democrat, served in the House of Representatives in the 1970’s before becoming Agriculture Secretary. Following Carter’s tenure as President, Bergland later served as vice president and general manager of the National Rural Electric Cooperative Association and as a regent at the University of Minnesota. House Agriculture Committee Ranking Member Collin Peterson in a statement, noting that Bergland also served the same congressional district in Minnesota, said he “served the Seventh District of Minnesota exceptionally before taking his farmer’s experience and work ethic to USDA.”

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.