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READ the NAFB’s National Ag News for Thursday, February 21st

African Swine Fever Found in Vietnam

A report on Swine Health Dot Org says the Vietnamese Ministry of Agriculture released a communication confirming that the African Swine Fever Virus has been found in two northern provinces. The area is located about 100 miles from the Chinese border. Outbreaks appeared on three farms, and all of the infected animals have been culled from their herds. Animal Health Department officials are testing the herds at neighboring farms. Local authorities in the region have put control measures in place to help limit any potential spread of the disease. Moving animals in the infected areas is restricted and quarantines are in place. Pork is a very popular protein in Asian countries and United Nations experts said the spread of ASF was highly likely. Pork is a major part of Vietnamese diets, making up 75 percent of the meat consumed in the country. Vietnam has a population of 95 million people that consume most of its 30 million farm-raised pigs domestically.  The Vietnamese Chief of Epidemiology says animal smuggling and tourism are making it difficult to protect Vietnam against ASF spreading further into the country.

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New Report Says Hold the Line on Chinese Tariffs, For Now

A new report out from the National Bureau of Asian Research warns the Trump Administration to temper its expectations on China significantly changing its economic policies. The bureau says China can’t make deep structural reforms to its economy in the 10 days before the March 1 deadline to produce a trade deal. The report says the better strategy may be to keep tariffs on Chinese goods in place, potentially for years. The bureau also wants the U.S. to work with allies like the European Union and Japan to crank up international reform pressure on Beijing. “We don’t think inflicting collateral damage on the U.S. economy is a good thing,” says former Louisiana Representative Charles Boustany (Boo-STAH-knee), one of the co-authors of the report. “All we’re saying is hold the line for now on tariffs, short of any kind of major breakthrough.” The report’s authors say a good idea in the interim is to work on what they call “interim agreements.” An example would be the Chinese lifting tariffs on U.S. farm goods in exchange for Trump removing tariffs on Chinese electronic goods.

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China Expanding Domestic Agriculture Reforms to Offset Future Trade Difficulties

The Chinese government says it will make changes in domestic agriculture policy to help it withstand potential trade difficulties in the future. The statement from Beijing comes after the country saw its weakest economic growth in almost three decades during 2018. Of course, China remains entangled in a trade war with America. The statement from government officials is known as the “No. 1 Document,” and it outlined plans to rejuvenate and improve living standards in rural China. One of the goals it set forth was becoming less reliant on oilseed imports. The document highlighted a plan to boost domestic soybean production, but it didn’t give any further details on the idea. Industry analysts told Reuters that they’re looking forward to more details in order to assess the potential impact of the plan to boost soy production in China. Beijing has been looking to boost oilseed production even before the trade war with the U.S. began. The dispute led China to slap a tariff on U.S. soybean imports, which had the effect of tightening domestic supplies as China looked to other countries to fill in the gap. The policy document is calling for increasing stable grain production opportunities but also importing ag products where the domestic market comes up short. The Reuters article says that’s potentially good news for the U.S. on the other side of the trade war.

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Ag Lenders Say Farmers Depend on Off-Farm Income

The chief economist for the American Farm Bureau Federation says the worst threat to farmers currently is a general economic recession. It’s because so many farmers have now become dependent on off-farm income to make ends meet and stay in operation. Farm Bureau’s Chief Economist, John Schaefer, spoke during a panel of ag economists’ discussion at the Crop Insurance Industry Convention. “Farm lenders say the reason why we can continue to do what we are doing is off-farm income,” Newton says. “It’s off-farm income that allows folks to continue to farm. Lenders are really concerned about a slowdown in the U.S. economy.” The Hagstrom Report says Newton presented statistics on the decline of farm income since 2013. Newton told the people in attendance that the overall U.S. economy is still performing well. The concern comes in because the consumer confidence index, as well as the CEO Confidence Index, are both down. Newton says USDA statistics show a drop of $57 billion in farm income since 2013, a 47 percent drop. Gross farm income in 2018 came in at $435 billion, while production expenses were $369 billion. The net farm income total was $66.3 billion, a steep drop since 2013. Net farm income last year was the third-lowest in the last two decades in inflation-adjusted terms. Without the government payments figured in, 2018 would have seen the lowest net farm income of all time, Newton adds.

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Farm Bureau Supporting Utah Farmers, Ranchers Access to Utah Public Lands

The American Farm Bureau Federation, along with the Utah Farm Bureau, the state of Utah, and San Juan County in Utah weighed in on court deliberations regarding access to public lands. President Donald Trump made a proclamation in 2017 on decreasing the size of the Grand-Staircase Escalante (ehs-cah-LAHN-tay) National Monument, as well as the Bears Ears National Monument, both in Utah. The brief supports the federal government’s motion requesting dismissal of a series of consolidated legal actions filed against the president’s declaration. The brief describes how the changes made by the proclamation will benefit ranchers’ livelihoods by giving them expanded grazing for their livestock in and around the monuments. “Granting the plaintiffs’ claims would significantly jeopardize those Farm Bureau members who ranch in the area, having done so for generations under the authority of multiple federal laws and regulations.” The groups emphasized that President Trump has the authority to take such an action under the Antiquities Act. They point out that other presidents before him took similar actions on at least 18 different occasions. They said there is no legal precedent for limiting a sitting President’s ability to make such modifications.

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OK Places Limits on Chicken Farm Locations and Expansion

The Oklahoma Department of Agriculture took action to limit both the placement and expansion opportunities for the state’s chicken farms. The department approved new rules covering the locations of chicken farms relative to schools, homes, and water sources. The new provisions include a grandfather clause and won’t apply to current farms that were in operation before October of 2018. The meat industry website Meating Place Dot Com says the new rules say farms with fewer than 150,000 chickens must be at least 500 feet from homes. Larger chicken farms must be set up at least 1,000 feet from nearby homes. All chicken farms must also be 500 feet from public wells, 100 feet from private wells, and 200 feet from the nearest streams. There were previously no regulations in place on poultry housing locations. At least one advocacy group doesn’t think the new regulations go far enough. The Green Country Guardians say on their Facebook page that the new limits won’t be enough to protect homes, schools, and water sources. The new regulations must be approved by the Oklahoma legislature and signed by the governor. If that happens, the new rules could take effect as soon as September.

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.