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READ the NAFB’s National Ag News for Monday, April 15th – Tax Day!

Trump, Senators Meet Regarding Stalled Disaster Aid

Senators from states that are still recovering from natural disasters met with President Trump at the White House to talk about stalled disaster aid. The House passed a bill that failed to advance in the Senate. Politico says the legislation has been bogged down for months over a dispute about U.S. aid to Puerto Rico. Roll Call Dot Com says Hurricane Maria battered the island in 2017 and Congress set aside billions of dollars in assistance. However, some $20 billion in rebuilding aid hasn’t been spent yet and President Trump has accused Puerto Rico officials of mismanaging the aid. Senate Republicans have introduced a $13 billion aid package, which includes $600 million in additional assistance to Puerto Rico. Democrats want an additional $462 million for the long-term rebuilding of the country. House Democrats introduced a $17.2 billion bill last week that builds on the House version while adding an additional $3 billion to help Midwest flooding victims recover. Another winter storm dumped heavy snow on parts of the Plains and the Midwest last week. At one point, almost 90,000 people were without power in Iowa, Minnesota, South Dakota, and Wisconsin. The additional precipitation and snowmelt could cause another surge in the Missouri River after severe flooding swamped farmlands and grain storage sites last month.

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U.S. Pork Still Pushing for Quick Trade Agreement with Japan

The U.S. pork industry is pushing for trade talks with Japan to get underway immediately. Politico says the industry is lobbying the administration to move quickly in striking a favorable deal. Nick Giordano (Jee-oar-DAH-no), vice president and counsel for the National Pork Producers Association, spoke during a recent media roundtable. He says the 11-nation CPTPP, which is the new name for the Trans-Pacific Partnership, has squeezed out U.S companies that are already being hit hard by retaliatory tariffs from China and Mexico. “The pork industry is on no less than three retaliation lists,” Giordano says. “I’m not sure there’s another industry in our country that’s on three lists. It’s an immediate hair-on-fire issue.” He says a lot of people really don’t know what’s at stake in Japan. It’s the pork industry’s biggest-value market and “the math says we have a big problem.” Politico says there was a slight glimmer of hope for the pork industry. China bought more than 77,000 metric tons of U.S. pork last week as African Swine Fever continues spreading throughout parts of Asia. It’s the biggest weekly sale to China since the USDA began keeping records.  

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Rabobank Says ASF Will Create Large Protein Shortfall

Production losses from African Swine Fever have exceeded initial estimates. When you combine the shortfalls in China with those in the rest of Asia where the disease has popped up, Rabobank says there are both challenges and opportunities for protein exporters. Rabobank says it expects China’s pork production losses to total between 25 and 30 percent. The disease is also in Vietnam, where productions losses will reach 10 percent. ASF has also reached into Cambodia and Europe. Animal protein companies that have the necessary supply, as well as access to Chinese and Asian markets, will likely benefit from the impact of ASF. The European Union, the U.S., and Brazil appear to be in the best place to respond to the increased import demand for pork and other animal proteins in China and Asia. However, the disease outbreak in eastern Europe could potentially restrict the amount of available European exports. The U.S. is a major pork producer, yet the tariffs in place on U.S. pork exports to China are restricting current trade opportunities. The U.S. is also a major poultry exporter but can’t send shipments to China because of a ban that’s in place thanks to avian influenza back in 2015.

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Fewer Biofuel Waivers in the Future

In a statement sure to please ethanol backers, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency may grant fewer waivers that exempt small refineries from the country’s biofuel policy. Reuters says EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler feels that move can be made because lower prices for blending credits have made the cost of compliance lower. The administration’s recent use of those waivers to save the oil industry money has drawn the ire of the corn lobby, which claims the exemptions have been overused and threaten demand for corn-based ethanol. The waivers have been handed out at a time when farmers are already struggling financially. During the Trump Administration, the EPA has granted far more waivers than at any time in the past. In an interview with Reuters, Wheeler says the prices of the Renewable Identification Numbers have fallen, easing the financial strain on refineries in complying with the biofuel blending requirements. “RIN prices have been relatively low and relatively calm since last spring,” Wheeler says, “so that tells me that there should be less economic harm in the refining industry now than there was a year ago.”

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Veterinary Association Applauds Bill to Address Vet Shortage

The American Veterinary Association is happy about the re-introduction in Congress of the Veterinary Medicine Loan Repayment Program Enhancement Act. It’s an important bill to the industry because if it’s passed, it will play a critical role in addressing shortages of food animal and public health veterinarians in rural and agricultural communities. “Veterinary shortages are one of the many significant challenges facing farmers and ranchers today,” says AVMA President Dr. John De Jong (Young). “If we don’t take steps to address these shortages, we’ll likely see an increase in animal disease incidents that impact our economy and even public health.” De Jong says they’re very grateful to all lawmakers who’ve been supportive of the legislation. The USDA’s National Institute of Food and Agriculture designated 190 regions in 44 states as suffering from shortages of food animal or public health veterinarians, the most in the program’s history. Student debt is a key cause of the shortage. Students typically graduate with $180,000 in debt. Careers as a food animal vet typically pay less than a career as a companion animal vet.

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Livestock Producers Pleased with Bernhardt Confirmation

Ethan Lane, senior executive director of the Public Lands Council and NCBA Federal Lands, says the confirmation of David Bernhardt as Secretary of Interior is good news for livestock producers. “We look forward to continuing our partnership with the Secretary and are glad he can finally focus on the Department of Interior’s critical work,” Lane says. “While we celebrate the new Secretary’s confirmation, several senior positions at the Interior Department remain vacant.” Lane says they’re asking the administration to get those vacant spots filled as quickly as possible. In the meantime, American Farm Bureau Federation President Zippy Duvall says Bernhardt reinvigorated multiple-use management of America’s public lands while serving as Deputy and then Acting Secretary. “This included regulatory efforts to reform implementation of the Endangered Species Act, streamlining the National Environmental Policy Act, as well as promoting outcome-based grazing across our nation’s rangelands,” Duvall says. “He also implemented policies to reduce the risk of catastrophic wildfires in the West.” Duvall says they look forward to working with the new Secretary on behalf of all farmers and ranchers.

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.