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READ the NAFB’s National Ag News for Tuesday, March 19th

U.S. Likely to Battle with EU Over Ag Before Trade Talks

U.S. Trade Representative chief agriculture negotiator Gregg Doud calls European Union protectionist measures “non-science-based” and “backward-looking.” The comments signal a fight ahead between the EU and the U.S. before the two nations discuss a trade agreement, according to Bloomberg. The U.S. is seeking a trade negotiation with the EU that includes agriculture, but the EU is not receptive to the idea. Agriculture policies differ greatly between the EU and the U.S., something Doud says is “shocking,” regarding the direction the EU is heading “when it comes to the use of science and technology in agriculture.” Farm production in the region is subsidized and measures including controls on approvals of genetically-modified products which keep some American goods from going into the market. And, European Trade Commissioner Cecilia Malmstrom has insisted that agriculture would not be included in trade talks with the United States. The Trump administration, however, is seeking “comprehensive access.” For U.S. farm goods in any trade agreement with the European Union.

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Tentative Agreement Reached on China Trade Enforcement Mechanism

China and the U.S. have reached a tentative agreement on enforcement of a potential trade agreement between the two nations. White House economic adviser Larry Kudlow said Friday the mechanism blocks Beijing from retaliating if the U.S. implements tariffs on Chinese products because China violated the terms of an eventual agreement, according to Politico. Seemingly, that means U.S. agricultural products would be protected from retaliation, like seen in the tit-for-tat trade war, if true. China targeted U.S. agricultural products such as pork and soybeans as part of its response to the massive list of U.S. tariffs placed on China by the Trump administration. The two sides appear to be inching closer to reach some sort of agreement. The agreement though, won’t come this month, as previously thought. The administration says a summit between the U.S. and China will not happen at the end of March as more work is needed in the negotiations. That meeting may now be postponed until June. Also, while China may agree to enforcement measures, the adage of “say one thing, do another,” applies, as many market experts will caution that China has a history of ignoring previously agreed trade rules.

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Assistance Available for Flooded Farms

Last week’s bomb cyclone continues to inundate parts of the Midwest with flood waters this week. Following the storm that hit Nebraska the hardest, the flood waters made their way downstream over the weekend to include, Iowa Kansas and Missouri. Multiple levees have been topped or breached, which has swamped farmland and small towns along the Missouri River. Some areas broke record levels, including those set in the historic floods of 2011 and 1993. The Army Corps of Engineers has reduced water releases from the Gavins Point dam over the weekend, but much of the current problem stems from the saturated Platte River in Nebraska. Still, releases from Gavins Point have been above average since last June, stemming from a wet spring and fall last year. Nearly the entire lower Missouri River, along with the Mississippi River, are included in flood warnings. Producers are urged to contact their local Farm Service Agency to find information on assistance programs. In addition, the Nebraska Farm Bureau has set up a relief fund and exchange. Details of the fund can be found at www.nefb.org.

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NPPC Releases Statement on Illegal Pork Seizure

Following last week’s discovery of an illegal shipment of pork from China, The National Pork Producers Council called prevention of the spread of African swine fever a “top priority.” Last week, U.S. Customs and Border Protection announced that it intercepted a large shipment of illegal pork products from China before it could enter the United States. Farm groups say the shipment could have contained pork contaminated with African swine fever. It is illegal to import pork products from countries, like China, that are positive for African swine fever to the United States. In its statement, NPPC said “Illegal import/export activities like this can’t stand and must be met with swift and severe penalties.” USDA credits enhanced protection measures to combat the spread of African swine fever for the interception. The contraband shipment, which will be destroyed in accordance with U.S. government policy, reportedly contained products derived from pork, such as flavorings in ramen noodles, and did not include fresh meat.

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NMPF Backs DAIRY PRIDE Act

The National Milk Producers Federation voiced strong support for the DAIRY PRIDE Act, calling it another means toward a crucial end of the mislabeling of non-dairy products as “milks” in the marketplace. The legislation was reintroduced last week by Senator Tammy Baldwin, a Democrat from Wisconsin. NMPF says the bill further prods the FDA toward “increasingly necessary action” as plant-based imitators of milk, cheese, butter and other products disobey FDA rules that restrict the use of dairy terms on non-dairy products. NMPF CEO Jim Mulhern says the legislation “demonstrates strong support within Congress for fixing this problem.” Following NMPF’s submission of a citizen petition to FDA outlining a path forward, as the agency considers more than 13,000 comments submitted to on the proper use of dairy terms, the DAIRY PRIDE Act would protect the integrity of food standards by prompting FDA to enforce labeling requirements for dairy, according to NMPF.

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USDA Announces Investments in Rural Community Facilities

The Department of Agriculture Monday announced $91 million in investments to rural community facilities. The facilities included in the funding announcement provide essential services for nearly 300,000 rural residents in 12 states, according to USDA. USDA is funding 16 projects through the Community Facilities Direct Loan Program. The funding helps rural small towns, cities and communities make infrastructure improvements and provide essential facilities such as public schools, libraries, courthouses, public safety facilities, hospitals, colleges and day care centers. Acting assistant to the secretary for rural development Joel Baxley called modern community facilities “key drivers of economic development.” The projects are located in Alabama, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Nebraska, North Carolina, Ohio, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas and Wisconsin. More than 100 types of projects are eligible for Community Facilities funding. Eligible applicants include municipalities, public bodies, nonprofit organizations and federally recognized Native American tribes. Applicants and projects must be in rural areas with a population of 20,000 or less.

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.