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READ the NAFB’s National Ag News for Wednesday, March 20th – Colorado Ag Day!

China Could Triple U.S. Ag Purchases

Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue this week again said China could triple its purchases of U.S. agricultural products. The U.S. and China are still hashing out the details of a trade agreement, now thought to conclude in June. Perdue told Bloomberg Television this week “we could easily see, if we are able to come to a trade resolution, a doubling or tripling” of normal ag purchases by China over a period of two to five years. China has averaged about $20 billion a year of U.S. ag purchases, before the trade war beginning last year. As part of the talks, China earlier proposed to buy an additional $30 billion of U.S. ag products. Additional massive purchases of U.S. farm products, particularly pork and soybeans which China has targeted in the trade war, would likely be a huge boon for the United States. China began “good-faith” purchases of U.S. agricultural products as the trade talks began in December.

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Livestock Group Calls Beef Trade with Brazil Risky

Livestock groups warn any trade allowing Brazil to export beef to the U.S. would put the U.S. beef industry at risk. President Donald Trump and his counterpart from Brazil discussed trade issues Tuesday, including beef, sugar and ethanol. However, some livestock groups expressed concern regarding the potential reopening of fresh beef exports to the U.S. market. The United States Cattlemen’s Association reiterated its strong opposition to the move that the organization says would compromise the “health of the domestic cattle herd for the sake of increased beef exports, especially from a country marred by scandal.” The group urged President Trump and Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue to strongly consider potential animal health issues stemming from possible trade with Brazil, including the 2017 discovery that Brazilian meat inspectors had been caught accepting bribes to allow expired meats to be sold and sanitary permits to be falsified.

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Flooding Disrupting Midwest Rail Services

Flooding in the central-U.S. is halting rail traffic, including shipments and deliveries from agricultural facilities. Union Pacific noted the flooding has caused “significant damage” to the company’s rail network. Five routes of the Union Pacific rail network are closed due to flooding and track washouts in the Iowa, Kansas, Missouri and Nebraska four-state area. Meanwhile, BNSF Railway reported track closures in the same area, along with additional closures in North and South Dakota, and Illinois near the Mississippi River. The track closures impact shipments of grain and rail services from ethanol plants in the region as the floodwaters continue to migrate down the Missouri River basin. The rail companies say crews from across the county are in the region to restore service as soon as possible. Meanwhile, a more than 100 mile stretch of Interstate 29 that runs parallel by a few miles along the river was closed Tuesday. Vice President Mike Pence also visited flood-damaged areas of Nebraska and Iowa, along with Nebraska Governor Pete Ricketts and Iowa Governor Kim Reynolds. Missouri Governor Mike Parsons toured flooded areas of his state earlier over the weekend.

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Additional Trump Budget Documents Show Extensive USDA ERS Cuts

New documents detailing President Trump’s budget request show significant cuts to the Department of Agriculture’s Economic Research Service. The White House released the rest of its fiscal year 2020 budget proposal this week, and cited savings on salaries in the Economic Research Service as a way to cut spending, according to the Hagstrom Report. A document titled “Major Savings and Reforms” noted the administration proposal to move the Economic Research Service closer to stakeholders and outside of the Washington, D.C. region, which would provide “the potential for savings on employment costs.” The proposal notes that the 28 percent locality pay for the national capital region is higher than the national average. In the Agriculture Department, the document also cited a reduction in forest and rangeland research and elimination of the McGovern-Dole International Food for Education Program, the Rural Business and Cooperative Programs and single-family housing direct loans. Agriculture lawmakers in the House and Senate have already voiced their planned rejection to USDA and crop insurance cuts proposed by the administration.

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AEM: Tariffs Costing U.S. GDP $290 Billion

A new study shows tariffs impacting U.S. equipment manufactures will cost the U.S. GDP $29 billion a year for ten years, or $290 billion total, if continued. The Association of Equipment Manufacturers says the data released in the report show tariffs are “driving up the cost of production, delaying capital investments, and impeding job creation.” The report, The Economic and Industry Impact of Protectionism Tariffs on the Off-highway Equipment Sector, estimates tariffs will increase costs of producing U.S. agriculture and construction equipment by six percent. With its higher steel-related product content, the costs of producing U.S. mining equipment will increase seven percent. Equipment manufacturing executives have attributed the increasing costs of manufacturing in the United States to the Trump administration’s tariffs. Tariffs Hurt the Heartland, a campaign backed by AEM, found that the tariffs are costing businesses up to $2.7 billion each month and have caused exports of American products to plummet by 37 percent.

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USDA Announces New Resources to Raise Awareness of African Swine Fever

The Department of Agriculture is promoting resources to help prevent the spread of African swine fever. USDA notes that USDA-trained detector dogs played a major role in the seizure of roughly one million pounds of pork smuggled from China where there is an outbreak of African swine fever. Stating “prevention is our best protection,” the resources included potential African swine fever pathways, biosecurity measures, signs and symptoms producers should watch for, as well as traveler tips. USDA is monitoring the recent outbreaks of African swine fever in Asia and Europe, and has proactively taken steps to increase safeguarding efforts to keep the disease out of the United States. Specifically, the U.S. has increased detector dog teams within the U.S. Customs and Border Protection, restricted the imports of pork from affected countries, and expanded testing capabilities of the National Animal Health Laboratory Network. The resources announced this week can be found at www.aphis.usda.gov.

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.