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READ the NAFB’s National Ag News for Thursday, January 17th

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USDA Temporarily Reopens FSA Offices for Limited Services During Shutdown

Ag Secretary Sonny Perdue announced that many Farm Service Agency offices will reopen temporarily over the next few days to perform limited services for farmers and ranchers. The USDA recalled about 2,500 FSA employees to open offices on Thursday, January 17th and Friday, January 18th, in addition to Tuesday, January 22nd, during normal business hours. The offices will be closed for the Martin Luther King Jr. holiday on Monday, January 21st. In almost half the Farm Service Agency locations, FSA staff will be available to assist agricultural producers with existing farm loans and to ensure the agency provides the 1099 tax documents to borrowers by the Internal Revenue Service’s deadline. “Until Congress sends President Trump an appropriations bill he will sign, we are doing our best to minimize the impact of the partial federal funding lapse on America’s agricultural producers,” says Perdue. “We’re bringing back part of our FSA team to help producers with existing farm loans. Meanwhile, we continue to examine our legal authorities to ensure we are providing services to our customers to the greatest possible extent during the shutdown.” Information on which FSA offices will be open during the three-day window can be found on the USDA website, the USDA Facebook page, and on the USDA Twitter account.


Farm Bureau Adopts 2019 Policies at Convention

The farmer and rancher delegates at the 100th annual convention set the organization’s policy priorities for the upcoming year. Topics included farm bill implementation, cell-cultured food products, trade, and much more. “As our organization has done for the last 100 years, grassroots delegates from across the nation came together to express a unified voice on issues vital to the success of our farms, ranches, and rural communities,” says AFBF President Zippy Duvall. Among the many topics delegates covered, they are urging the administration and Congress to work together to end the government shutdown as soon as possible because farmers are delayed in securing loans and crop insurance. The impasse has also delayed implementation of the new farm bill. Delegates also adopted a comprehensive policy to support innovation in cell-based food products while ensuring a level playing field for traditional protein. They affirm that USDA is best able to be the primary regulator of the new industry.  Delegates supported improving broadband coverage maps through better data and third-party provider verification. They also support increased funding for programs and facilities for the treatment of substance abuse and mental health issues.


WTO Will Rule Against Chinese Agriculture Subsidies

The World Trade Organization will soon rule in favor of the United States in a long-standing dispute with China. The U.S. says Chinese government subsidies it gives to corn and rice growers are a violation of WTO rules. Politico says the confidential ruling was shown to interested parties before Christmas. The ruling could be released to the public sometime in late February when China and the U.S. will hopefully be in the final stages of trade talks. It’s also possible the ruling will be out in early March. It was back in 2015 that then-U.S. Trade Representative Michael Froman alleged China had exceeded international limits on ag subsidies by as much as $100 billion in 2015. The Chinese vice premier will lead a delegation to Washington for more trade negotiations on January 30-31. He’ll meet with current U.S. Trade Rep Robert Lighthizer and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin. Iowa Senator Chuck Grassley met with Lighthizer last week, who told Grassley that there hasn’t yet been progress toward structural reforms of China’s trade practices. Lighthizer did tell Grassley that discussions on China purchasing more U.S. farm good were going well.


Hours of Service Bill Reintroduced in House

A bill proposed in the last session of Congress has surfaced once again in this session, specifically in the House of Representatives. The bill is designed to make Electronic Logging Devices and hours of service regulations friendlier to those who transport livestock. The legislation is called the Transporting Livestock Across America Safely Act and was introduced by Florida Republican Ted Yoho (YO-ho). Yoho says the safe transportation of livestock is an essential part of feeding America. The hours of service regulations are rigid and costly for cattle haulers. Yoho, a Florida veterinarian, says the regulations also place the wellbeing and welfare of cattle, hogs, fish, and other livestock at risk. The extended stops called for by these regulations will be dangerous for livestock in both the summer and winter months. Last year, Yoho’s bill got the support of 64 cosponsors but didn’t even make it out of committee. “The bill will make the right changes to the current rules so we can protect the safety of not only livestock but that of the haulers themselves while they are traveling to their destination,” Yoho says. The current version of the bill has 27 cosponsors, with Collin Peterson of Minnesota as the only Democrat currently signed on to the legislation.


African Swine Fever Continues to Spread Overseas

Another province in China is now infected with African Swine Fever. A Pork Checkoff report says there are now 24 distinct areas in China that have tested positive for the disease. China is requiring their slaughterhouses to run testing for the virus on pig products before they’re allowed to sell them to market. Slaughterhouses must slaughter pigs from different areas separately. They can only sell products if the blood from the same batch of pigs’ test negative for the ASF virus. A new regulation will go into effect on February 1st requiring slaughterhouses to suspend operations and disinfect their facilities if they get a positive test. Officials in Taiwan reported that one dead pig found on the shore of its Kinmen Island has tested positive for ASF. They believe the animal was dumped on the beach in mainland China and washed ashore in Taiwan. The island nation is taking precautions to protect itself from ASF, including tighter security on all incoming boats and planes from the Chinese mainland. In Europe, officials in France have begun to cull wild boar populations near the border with Belgium in an attempt to keep the virus from spreading out of wild hog populations within Belgium.


Dairy Prices May Be Ready to Rise in 2019

Milk prices haven’t exactly jumped higher early on in 2019. A Drovers’ report says dairy farmers are in need of a market rally after years of low prices. However, at least some relief may be coming this year. Bryan Doherty, VP of Stewart-Peterson, tells Drovers that dairy is a tough market to be in right now because there’s too much product out there yet. The rate of efficiency per cow is still improving, which makes the market difficult to get going in the right direction because there’s just too much milk. Doherty says prices are low enough where demand is starting to grow again. Global dairy prices have begun to rise once again. Doherty also predicts more culling in the U.S. dairy herd while demand for dairy products should continue to increase. Recent cow numbers in the national dairy herd have been dropping. He points to that as a sign of a possible rally in milk prices in the coming months. Trade will also play a role in which direction the price of milk goes. Ongoing negotiations with China could possibly bring a boost to the demand side of the milk pricing equation.

SOURCE: NAFB News Service


By Tucker Allmer - The BARN

Tucker 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.

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