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READ the NAFB’s National Ag News for Thursday, April 11th

U.S. and China Near Enforcement Agreement in Talks

The U.S. and China have “pretty much agreed on an enforcement mechanism,” a major hurdle in trade talks between the two nations. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin told CNBC Wednesday that both sides have agreed to establish enforcement offices as part an effort to reach a trade agreement. Enforcement is a top priority and one of the most difficult to agree on, as previously stated by the Trump Administration. Meanwhile, earlier this week, Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue described ongoing talks with China to cut ethanol tariffs “positive” for U.S. farmers. However, Perdue warned the talks were not over. Perdue says lowering ethanol tariffs in China “would obviously be good for our domestic corn industry,” but “it’s never over till it’s over with the Chinese.” Last year, China imposed up to 70 percent tariff levels on U.S. ethanol as part of the tit-for-tat trade war between the two nations. An industry source told Reuters the expectation is China will decrease the ethanol tariff level to five percent and push for E10 fuels in China.

Disaster Aid Uncertain in Congress

Disaster aid for states hit by flooding is more uncertain as Congress nears recess and ag lawmakers seem at odds over what producers need. Politico reports negotiations to pass a disaster relief package have collapsed just as another storm hits the Midwest and Great Plains, prompting blizzard warnings from Colorado to Minnesota. Midwest Senators are pushing for a disaster bill that includes $3 billion for flooding in 2019. But, House Agriculture Committee Chairman Collin Peterson told reporters the Midwest doesn’t need billions in disaster aid like farmers in Southern states do. Peterson says the majority of crops or livestock damaged by flooding in Nebraska and Iowa were covered by crop insurance or are eligible for farm bill disaster programs, which isn’t the case for many Southern crops like pecan trees and peaches hit by last year’s hurricanes. Peterson says the only thing not covered in the Midwest is stored grain that was damaged. Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue told lawmakers this week USDA can assist in crafting language that would allow those farmers help. However, time to provide immediate assistance is running out as both chambers begin a two-week recess Friday.

NPPC Cancels World Pork Expo

Citing an abundance of caution, The National Pork Producers Council Wednesday announced its decision to cancel World Pork Expo 2019 as African swine fever continues to spread in China and other parts of Asia. World Pork Expo, held each June at the Iowa State Fairgrounds in Des Moines, hosts approximately 20,000 visitors over three days, including individuals and exhibitors from ASF-positive regions. David Herring, NPPC president, called prevention the “only defense against ASF,” adding “while an evaluation by veterinarians and other third-party experts concluded negligible risk associated with holding the event, we have decided to exercise extreme caution.” The decision to cancel this year’s World Pork Expo comes as more than 100 U.S. pork producers gather in Washington this week to meet with their members of Congress during NPPC’s Legislative Action Conference. Pork producers are asking Congress to appropriate funding for 600 new U.S. Customs and Border Protection agriculture inspectors to further strengthen defenses against African swine fever. Despite the cancellation, the National Swine Registry, Certified Pedigreed Swine, and the American Berkshire Association are still planning a live swine show during the week of June 2-8, 2019.

Midwest Senators Push for Locks Modernization

A group of Midwest lawmakers is leading a new push to modernize locks along inland waterways. A letter from lawmakers representing Iowa, Illinois, Missouri and Wisconsin. urges Senate and House appropriators to include funding for the Navigation and Ecosystem Restoration Program in the Fiscal Year 2020 Energy and Water Development Appropriations bills. The program, authorized in the Water Resources Development Act of 2007, would modernize and expand seven outdated locks and restore ecosystems along the Upper Mississippi and Illinois Rivers. Funding is needed so the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers can move forward with preconstruction engineering and design for the projects. The letter, led by Iowa Senator Chuck Grassley, says Inland and intercoastal waterways and ports are vital to the U.S. economy. Those waterways serve 38 states throughout the nation as shippers and consumers depend on the ability to move around 600 million tons of cargo valued at $232 billion annually. 73 percent of U.S. agricultural exports were carried on U.S. waterways, as well as 65 percent of imports.

R-CALF Praises Introduction of Beef Checkoff Reform Legislation

Legislation reintroduced last week seeks to reform the beef checkoff program. The Voluntary Check-Off Program Participation Act, reintroduced by Senate Republicans Mike Lee of Utah and Rand Paul of Kentucky, would “allow producers to vote freely with their pocketbooks regarding whether they are individually satisfied with the checkoff’s performance,” according to R-CALF USA CEO Bill Bullard. R-CALF applauded the reintroduction of the bill, calling the mandatory checkoff a “cattle tax.” The bill was previously introduced during Congress’ 2017-2018 session and was referred to the Agriculture Committee. Reintroduction will ensure the measures are again considered by the full Congress. Bullard of R-CALF says the bill would bring accountability and transparency to the beef checkoff program. In reintroducing the bill, Senator Lee of Utah stated, “Checkoff programs force farmers to pay into a system that sometimes actively works against their interests.” Lee continued that boards of checkoff programs have also “come under fire for a lack of transparency and for misuse of their funds.”

Former Senate Ag Chair Blanche Lincoln Joins Farmers for Free Trade

Former U.S. Senator and Agriculture Committee Chair Blanche Lincoln is joining Farmers for Free Trade to help launch the #MotorcadeForTrade Tour in Pennsylvania. The tour kicks off Friday and Lincoln will join the campaign as a senior advisor and spokesperson. She brings over two decades of experience working on agriculture and trade policy. Her expertise brings a powerful voice to American farmers during a critical time in trade history, according to the organization. Lincoln called Congressional approval of the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement “a top priority for our nation’s agriculture industry.” Senator Lincoln represented Arkansas in Congress for 16 years as both a two-term member of the House and a two-term member of the Senate. She is the youngest female ever elected to serve in the United States Senate and became the first female in history to serve as Chair of the Senate Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition and Forestry.

SOURCE: NAFB News Service


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.

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