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READ the NAFB’s National Ag News for Wednesday, February 13th

Shutdown Agreement Funds USDA through Fiscal Year

The agreement that averts the threatening government shutdown funds the Department of Agriculture and other federal agencies without a final budget through the current fiscal year, which began last October. President Trump, speaking Tuesday morning, told reporters “I don’t think you’re going to see a shutdown,” but added he has yet to study the agreement, and was initially “not happy” with the proposal. The deal includes $1.375 billion for border barriers and a roughly 17 percent reduction in the number of ICE detention beds. The agreement must still be drafted into legislation and pass both the House and Senate and get Trump’s approval by Friday to avoid another government shutdown. Politico reports another prolonged shutdown would be especially painful for agriculture, and it’s unclear if USDA could take steps to mitigate some of the headaches that accompanied the previous closures.

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Market Facilitation Program Deadline Thursday

The deadline for farmers to sign up for the Market Facilitation Program is Thursday. The program, launched last year to help producers suffering from trade retaliation damages, has already paid out roughly $8 billion to farmers. Since its launch in September 2018, more than 864,000 producers have applied. Producers can apply without proof of yield but must certify 2018 production by May 1, 2019. Producers of corn, cotton, dairy, hogs, shelled almonds, sorghum, soybeans, fresh sweet cherries and wheat should apply at their local Farm Service Agency office, according to a Department of Agriculture statement. USDA previously announced the second and final round of trade mitigation payments in December. Producers only need to sign-up once for the program to be eligible for the first and second rounds of payments. Applications are available online at farmers.gov/MFP. Applications can be completed at a local FSA office or submitted electronically either by scanning, emailing or faxing.

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Senators Introduce Bill to Lift Cuba Embargo

A bipartisan group of Senators recently reintroduced legislation to lift the Cuba trade embargo. Democrats Amy Klobuchar and Patrick Leahy, along with Republican Mike Enzi reintroduced the bipartisan Freedom to Export to Cuba Act. The legislation would eliminate the legal barriers to Americans doing business in Cuba and pave the way for new economic opportunities for American businesses and farmers by boosting U.S. exports. The legislation repeals key provisions of previous laws that block Americans from doing business in Cuba, but does not repeal portions of law that address human rights or property claims against the Cuban government. Senator Leahy of Vermont said in a statement that the bill would “put more food on the plates of the Cuban people.” Cuba relies on agriculture imports to feed the 11 million people who live in Cuba and the 3.5 million tourists who visit each year. The Senators say Cuba represents a $2 billion opportunity for American farmers annually.

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USDA To Host 2018 Farm Bill Implementation Listening Sessions

The Department of Agriculture Tuesday announced a listening session for input on implementation of the 2018 Farm Bill. USDA is seeking public input on the changes to existing programs implemented by the Farm Service Agency, Natural Resources Conservation Service and the Risk Management Agency. Each agency will consider stakeholder input when making discretionary decisions on program implementation. The listening session will be held February 26, at USDA offices in Washington, D.C. The listening session is open to the public, however,  participants must register at farmers.gov/farmbill by February 22, to attend. USDA undersecretary for farm production and conservation Bill Northey says the farm bill “improves farm safety net programs, protects federal crop insurance, and preserves strong rural development and research initiatives.” He says USDA is eager to hear from stakeholders on how the agency can “streamline and improve program delivery while also enhancing customer service.”

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U.S. Cattlemen’s Association Supports Montana COOL Legislation

The U.S. Cattlemen’s Association says the Montana country-of-origin meat labeling bill offers “truth in labeling.” USCA supports the legislation that would bring back a modified version of COOL for beef and pork sold within the state. The bill would require a placard be accompanied with any livestock or poultry products offered for sale in Montana that indicates it was either “Born, Raised, and Processed in the United States,” “Processed Inside the United States” or “Processed Outside of the U.S.A.” In addition to reviving the COOL program, the bill would also prohibit the marketing, advertising, or labeling of cell-cultured edible products as livestock or poultry. USCA’s Maggie Nutter of Sweetgrass, Montana says of the legislation that “our industry’s commitment to transparency creates greater consumer trust and credibility for our product.” The Montana Senate Agriculture Committee held the first hearing on the bill Tuesday afternoon.

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AEM Releases January Ag Equipment Sales Numbers

January 2019 saw increases in U.S. sales of combines and four-wheel-drive tractors as well as total U.S. two-wheel-drive tractor sales compared to January last year, according to the latest data from the Association of Equipment Manufacturers. The monthly sales report from AEM shows U.S. four-wheel-drive tractor sales gained 38.2 percent in January compared to last year and U.S. January combine sales grew 14.5 percent. Total U.S. sales of two-wheel drive tractors in January gained 4.9 percent compared to January last year. Curt Blades of AEM says the U.S. sales appear to be following a similar pattern as year-end sales did, with continued overall positive data despite a weak overall farm economy. For Canada, January four-wheel drive tractor sales were up 7.8 percent, and combine sales increased 31.1 percent. However, January two-wheel-drive tractor Canadian sales were down in all size categories. Blades of AEM cautioned, the association is “still concerned about continued market uncertainty and its effect on farmers’ business planning,” noting the current trade climate and farm income.

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.