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READ the NAFB’s National Ag News for Wednesday, February 6th

U.S. and EU Trade Discussion Not Progressing Well

Preliminary trade discussions between Washington and Brussels aren’t going well. In fact, Politico says the talks now appear to basically be an effort to not jump into a full-on trade war. That possibilities potentially include new U.S. tariffs being slapped on automobiles. The two sides can’t even seem to agree on how the negotiations should proceed. The U.S. wants greater access to Europe’s agricultural markets. However, EU officials say that topic is a deal-breaker. They fear potential backlash from the EU’s politically powerful bloc of farmers. Brussels wants to get rid of tariffs on the industrial goods it ships to the U.S., including cars. However, President Trump is determined to protect American manufacturing. Politico says the stalemate over agricultural negotiations appears to be dimming hopes for a comprehensive transatlantic trade deal even before official negotiations get going. To keep the U.S. president at the negotiating table, the EU has agreed to boost U.S. soy imports by allowing the use of crops subsidized for biofuel production. Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross originally had a deadline of February 19th to make recommendations to the president regarding possible duties on auto imports. However, the government shutdown may have delayed that. Once the recommendations are made, Trump will have 90 days to make a decision The EU Parliament’s Trade Committee vote this month on whether or not to formally oppose the U.S.-EU negotiations.

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Farmer Sentiment Improves in January

Farmers had more optimism about the agriculture economy in January than they had in previous months. However, that doesn’t mean they don’t have concerns. The Purdue University/CME Group Ag Economy Barometer says one of their biggest worries is farmland values. The January reading of 143 was a 16-point jump over December. The survey was the first opportunity to measure how farmers were feeling after the second round of Market Facilitation Payments came out, as well as how they felt about the passage of the 2018 Farm Bill. Those two announcements gave a positive shot in the arm to producers’ sentiments on both their current and future economic conditions. The January Index of Current Conditions jumped from 109 in December to 132 in January. The Index of Future Expectations rose from 135 to 148. The January survey also included early planting intentions. The survey asked farmers who planted soybeans last year what their plans are in 2019. Two-thirds of the farmers who responded to the survey say their soybean acreage won’t change from last year. However, 25 percent of soybean producers will be looking to reduce their soybean acreage compared to what it was last year.

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Groups Want Congress to Focus on Rural Infrastructure

The Farm Credit Council joined with the Rebuild Rural Coalition in sending a letter this week to congressional leadership. They did so on behalf of rural communities, U.S. farmers, rural businesses, and rural families. “We’re asking the President and Congress to consider the unique needs of rural communities,” says Farm Credit Council CEO Todd Van Hoose. “The more than 240 organizations signing this letter have united on behalf of our rural America.” The groups say they’re asking the White House and Congress to ensure that rural communities have access to clean and safe drinking water, secure and dependable surface transportation, reliable and affordable power, healthcare, housing, broadband, as well as research institutions with state-of-the-art facilities. Their goal is to help rural communities thrive and become more attractive places to live. The 240-plus local, state, and national organizations from across the country are asking leadership in both chambers to strengthen the nation’s infrastructure, including specific provisions focused on the needs of rural communities and agriculture.” Farm Credit supports rural communities and agriculture with reliable, consistent credit and financial services. Farm Credit has been fulfilling its mission of helping rural America grow and thrive for more than a century

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Growth Energy Sues EPA Over Exemptions

On Monday, Growth Energy filed a petition in the Washington, D.C., Court of Appeals. It challenges the Environmental Protection Agency’s failure to address small refinery exemptions in its 2019 Renewable Volume Obligation (RVO) rulemaking, which was issued late in 2018. “EPA’s inaction on addressing lost gallons due to small refinery exemptions in this rulemaking is a clear violation of the law,” says Growth Energy CEO Emily Skor. “In doing nothing to remedy these and other deficiencies, EPA has again failed to meet its statutory obligation to ensure that annual RVOs are met each year. The filing calls for greater accountability from EPA to ensure that every renewable fuel obligation is fulfilled as the law intended.” The EPA has a deadline of November 30th each year to issue their RVOs, which establish the total volume of renewable fuel that must be blended with transportation fuel for the upcoming calendar year. In July of 2018, the industry found out that in previous years, the EPA had been granting an unprecedented amount of small refinery exemptions to numerous refiners. The EPA made no apparent effort to publicly identify the refineries that received the exemptions. In the petition, Growth Energy is challenging the EPA’s failure to reallocate the renewable volume obligations of exempt refiners.

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Super Bowl Commercials Are Good News-Bad News for Farmers

It might be safe to say that many corn growers in the Midwest weren’t particularly pleased with all of this year’s Super Bowl commercials. An Agri-Pulse report says the most notable thing for Midwest farmers appeared to be a “war on corn” launched by the Bud Light ads promoting the fact that no corn syrup is used in making that particular brand of beer. National Corn Growers Association CEO Jon Doggett had something to say. Doggett took his concerns directly to Anheuser-Buch, who manufactures Bud Light. He didn’t wait long either, showing up for a face-to-face meeting on Monday, the day after the ads ran. A spokeswoman for the NCGA says the discussions were productive, adding that the two sides “plan to speak again soon.” An Anheuser-Busch spokesman issued a statement to Agri-Pulse, attempting to soothe the hurt feelings of American corn growers. According to the spokesman, the company bought “more than 1 billion pounds of corn ingredients in 2018. We fully support corn growers and will continue to invest in the corn industry.” Another Anheuser-Busch ad promoted Michelob Ultra Pure Gold as organic, using the USDA Organic Seal in the advertising. The Organic Trade Association was thrilled that a beer made from organic rice and barley malt got that kind of exposure.

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NFU Accepting Applications for the Beginning Farmer Institute

The application period for the National Farmers Union’s Beginning Farmer Institute program class for 2019-2020 is now open. NFU is encouraging new farmers of any age from operations of any size, type, or location to apply for the class. The program’s hands-on training provides beginning farmers and ranchers with the tools they need to lead successful operations. It’s also a unique opportunity to grow as leaders in their communities and in American agriculture. NFU Foundation Director Tom Driscoll says the National Farmers Union is continuing to build on the BFI Program’s past successes in order to provide new farmers and ranchers from across the country with the best training and development opportunities in adult education. “It’s vital to the future of both American agriculture and our entire country that we have skilled family farm operations and proven leaders in rural communities,” Driscoll says. “We’re proud of what we’ve achieved with the BFI program to date. The BFI will host three in-person events in Washington D.C., California, and Georgia. Programming will focus on equipping participants with the skill sets they need in business formation, accounting, taxation, labor, credit, and business planning. More information on the Beginning Farmer Institute can be found here.

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.