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READ the NAFB’s National Ag News for Wednesday, March 27th

Canada, Mexico, Continue to Press for Removal of Steel, Aluminum Tariffs

Canada and Mexico this week are again pressing the Trump administration to remove steel and aluminum tariffs. Canadian Foreign Minister Chrystia Freeland met with U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer earlier this week and threatened to withhold ratification of the U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement if the duties remain in place, according to Politico. Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue and others have previously said that if the tariffs remain in place following the implementation of the USMCA, the tariffs would offset any gains reached in the agreement. Specifically, Freeland of Canada is urging the administration to lift the tariffs without replacing them with a quota, telling reporters “Canadians feel the right thing is there should be no 232 tariffs or retaliatory measures between our two countries.” A trade official from Mexico echoed the comments, saying “what industry in North America needs is the elimination of this tariff.”

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Trump Effort to Change China Trade Drawing Global Support

The efforts by the Trump Administration that seek trade policy changes by China are drawing global support. Reuters reports the European Union shares many of the same frustrations over China’s technology transfer policies and market access constraints and is a “quiet supporter” of Trump’s efforts with China. That comes though as the U.S. is seeking trade talks with the EU, as well, which agriculture is a key sticking point. The ongoing talks with China continue later this week, and the Trump administration claims to be in the final stages of the negotiation. Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue has previously said China could double, or even triple its purchases of U.S. agricultural products as part of a trade agreement. The current tariff climate between China and the U.S. slowed China’s purchases of U.S. farm products, including soybeans and pork. Originally thought to be completed at the end of March, some experts now say a deal may be finalized early this summer.

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Upper Midwest Farm Bankruptcies on the Rise

The Minneapolis Federal Reserve Bank reports farm stress and bankruptcies have increased in the upper Midwest, which includes dairy country. The Federal Reserve Ninth District reported 103 chapter 12 bankruptcies in 2018, compared to 79 in 2017. Farmers in the region continue to face low prices for commodities, including dairy products, and high production costs. Total costs for inputs like seed, fertilizer, pesticide, fuel, and electricity have risen by 50 percent since 2006 for Minnesota farmers. The district of the Federal reserve includes parts or all of Minnesota, Montana, North and South Dakota, Wisconsin and Michigan. Dairy farmers in particular have seen hard times, with overproduction and low prices. Many farms have gone out of business or shifted to other agricultural production sectors, while surviving dairies are growing. Bankers apparently don’t have the optimism of farmers either as the Minneapolis Fed reports the most recent quarterly ag credit survey conducted in January found that bankers widely predicted lower capital spending and net farm income for the coming three months, as well as more weakness in loan repayments.

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FSA Permits Emergency Grazing on Conservation Reserve Program Acres in Nebraska

The Farm Service Agency this week authorized emergency grazing of Conservation Reserve Program acres for 45 Nebraska counties impacted by the recent weather events. The emergency grazing authorization is effective immediately and ends April 30, 2019. The authorization was granted to address the impacts of the recent extreme weather, including flooding, snowmelt and mud. CRP contract holders who are interested in using the emergency grazing authorization must contact their FSA county office to complete required paperwork before allowing grazing to begin. Farmers should also contact their local FSA office to report all damages and losses. CRP participants who use this option will need to obtain a modified conservation plan, which includes emergency grazing provisions, from the Natural Resources Conservation Service. CRP participants can allow others to use their CRP acres under the emergency grazing authorization. However, the livestock owners also will need to complete FSA paperwork indicating their grazing land was adversely impacted by severe weather.

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Flooding Impact Could Include Thousands of Rural Water Wells

Thousands of water wells are located within flooded areas of the Midwest that could be contaminated with E. coli, according to the National Ground Water Association. The Association says the number of wells impacted could be substantial because a large portion of the Midwest affected by flooding relies on groundwater for rural and small municipal water supply. Household, farm, and small business wells could be standing in water for several days, raising the potential for contamination. While the exact number of wells possibly affected by contaminated floodwater cannot be readily counted, Census Bureau data show over one million wells in 300 counties impacted by flooding. This estimate includes counties flooded in Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Minnesota,  Missouri, Nebraska, South Dakota, and Wisconsin during the March 2019 winter storm. Following a flood, disinfection and wellhead repair may be common needs among well owners. Well relocation and elevation may also be useful and protective. The association says well owners should continue to monitor and test their systems.

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USDA Announces Investments in Water and Wastewater Infrastructure in 23 States

The U.S. Department of Agriculture Tuesday announced a $116 million effort to help rebuild and improve rural water infrastructure for 171,000 rural Americans in 23 states. USDA is working with local partners to provide financing for 49 water and environmental infrastructure projects. The funding is being provided through the Water and Waste Disposal Loan and Grant program. It can be used for drinking water, stormwater drainage and waste disposal systems for rural communities with 10,000 or fewer residents. Acting Assistant to the Secretary for Rural Development Joel Baxley called the funding “foundational to health, safety and economic development.” One of the larger projects includes a $2.3 million loan for Lake City, Arkansas, to modernize its wastewater treatment and collection system, which serves more than 2,000 residents. Another effort in rural Northwest Indiana includes a $3.4 million loan and a $1.7 million grant to connect three unserved areas of the city to the sewer system and to replace the main water lift station. Find the list of projects at www.rd.usda.gov.

SOURCE: NAFB News Service

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By Tucker Allmer - The BARN

Tucker 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.