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READ the NAFB’s National Ag News for Friday, March 22nd

Unchanged Interest Rates in 2019 Better for Agriculture

With the Federal Reserve hinting at leaving interest rates unchanged in 2019, the farm economy has one less chance for deterioration. Low-interest rates have been cited as the reason the current farm economy has not reached the crisis seen in the 1980s. Politico reports that while farmers are having losses, those losses don’t compare to the 1980s when interest rates were between 10 and 20 percent, compared to the five or six percent rates seen today. Despite declining farm income and low commodity prices, the low-interest rates are keeping land values strong. The Federal Reserve bank this week signaled interest rates will not likely be raised in 2019, veering away from the previous plan that included two interest rate hikes this year. Chairman Jerome Powell noted that there is “major uncertainty” regarding the U.S. economic picture, suggesting that the outlook is overall positive, but growth “is slowing somewhat more than expected.”

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EPA Likely to Grant Partial Biofuel Waivers for 2018

The Environmental Protection Agency is poised to issue partial waivers to some of the 39 refiners asking for a reprieve from the Renewable Fuel Standard. Reuters reports the EPA is set to decide on its pending 2018 exemption applications by the end of March, the compliance-year deadline under the RFS. Officials close to the issue say the EPA seems likely to issue partial waivers, a move only made once by the EPA in the past. Expansion under the waiver program has angered farmers, as the waivers reduce ethanol demand. Just last week, reports showed ethanol consumption declined last year for the first time 20 years in the United States. Under the trump administration and then EPA administrator Scott Pruitt, the number of small refinery exemptions granted went from seven in 2015 to at least 34 in 2017. The waivers are intended for small refiners, but the EPA granted waivers to facilities owned by billion-dollar oil companies, including Chevron and Exxon Mobil.

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Flood Losses Include Fields, Facilities and Stored Grains

Flood losses along the Missouri River include farm ground and farm facilities, along with stored grains and livestock. The flooding came quick for many, leaving little time to evacuate farm products, animals and equipment. Those damages, topping $1 billion from flooding in a four-state area, includes rural roads, bridges and public infrastructure such as schools. Lawmakers are prepping to quickly consider adding the flooding to a large disaster bill when Congress returns to session next week. However, officials in states like Nebraska say the impact is not yet tallied, as the adverse conditions linger. Meanwhile, flooding continues to move downstream, and weather officials warn of more flooding this spring as the snowmelt begins and broken levees leave large areas unprotected. The National Weather Service Kansas City office reported Thursday the Missouri River was discharging 315,000 cubic feet per second at Rulo, Nebraska, where the river beat its 1993 records earlier in the week. NWS says that’s enough water to fill Kansas City’s Arrowhead Stadium in under nine minutes. The stadium has room for more than 76,000 football fans and stands 260 feet tall.

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Long Term Outlook Shows Trade Issues to Define the Next Ten Years

A long-term outlook from the Department of Agriculture predicts trade will continue to dictate the agriculture sector over the next ten years. Specifically, the report says that over the next several years, the agricultural sector will continue to adjust to the ongoing China-U.S. trade dispute. USDA’s Agriculture Projections to 2028 report out this week shows an improved environment, including a continued increase in trade, supports growing global demand for agricultural products. However, slowing global economic growth rates and a relatively strong dollar are expected to weigh on growth in U.S. agricultural exports. The 102-page report does predict increases in nearly all U.S. agricultural exports, adding developing countries will continue to account for most of the growth. However, regarding China, trade tariffs are limiting demand, and the report assumes those tariffs to continue through the projection period. Any trade outcome with China could drastically change U.S. exports to China, making the trade talks a vital step for the next ten years.

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Pork Essentially Free of Veterinary Drug Residues

A survey by the Department of Agriculture shows no veterinary drug residues were found and none at levels that even approached U. S. regulatory limits in pork samples. The Survey by the USDA Agricultural Research Service looked at more than 1,000 pork kidney samples. The findings, according to USDA, signal that U.S. pork producers are using veterinary compounds properly and indicate that veterinary drug residues in pork are not posing a health concern to U.S. consumers. A total of 1040 pork kidneys were purchased from four grocery stores in the Midwest and tested for residues of five commonly used veterinary drugs and feed additives. Pork kidneys are commonly used as an indicator meat as they are readily accessible and tend to concentrate drug residues compared to more commonly consumed muscle meats. Only six samples, or 0.58 percent, were positive when screened for antibiotics, indicating those samples potentially contained antibiotic residues.

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Chinese Leaders Visit NCGA Offices

Two business leaders from China visited the National Corn Growers Association’s offices this week to discuss the U.S. corn industry and NCGA’s role in working to create opportunities for farmers. Robyn Allscheid, NCGA director of Research and Productivity, said the visitors were intrigued by NCGA’s focused mission of sustainably in a way that is profitable for the nearly 40,000 dues-paying members nationwide, as well as the 300,000 growers who contribute through corn checkoff programs. The two officials from China are part of the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs International Visitor Leadership Program. The program connects current and emerging leaders who travel to the U.S. for programs that reflect their professional interests and U.S. Foreign Policy Goals. Allsheid says they were “were very interested in how farmers make independent planting decisions but also the role the market plays in determining corn prices.”

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.