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READ the NAFB’s National Ag News for Thursday, April 25th

U.S.-China Talks Resume Next Week

The U.S. and China will resume trade talks next week. U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer will travel to China to meet with trade officials along with Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin. China is also expected to return to the U.S. for negotiations on May 8th. Next week’s discussions will cover intellectual property, forced technology transfer, non-tariff barriers, agriculture, services, purchases, and enforcement, according to a White House statement. Both sides appear hopeful to reach a draft agreement by the end of May. The negotiations, which stem from the tit-for-tat trade war last year, bring hope that tariffs will come to an end for U.S. agriculture. However, the ongoing African swine fever outbreak in China, which is forcing a more than 20 percent drop in China’s hog production, will also reduce demand for soybeans and feed products, a top agriculture export product for the United States. If the two sides can reach a favorable agreement, the U.S. could be in a position to provide addition pork exports to China to cover the production loss.

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Farm Bank Lending Rises to $108 Billion in 2018

U.S. farm banks increased agricultural lending by 5.3 percent, or $5.5 billion, to $108 billion in 2018. The American Bankers Association recently released its annual Farm Bank Performance Report. The report found that in 2018, farm banks’ asset quality remained healthy and non-performing loans stayed at a pre-recession level of 0.52 percent of total loans. The report is an analysis by ABA’s economic research team based on FDIC data and examines the performance of the nation’s 1,700 banks that specialize in agricultural lending. ABA defines farm banks as banks whose ratio of domestic farm loans to total domestic loans is greater than or equal to the industry average. More than 94 percent of farm banks were profitable in 2018, with more than 63 percent reporting an increase in earnings. Farm banks also served as job creators, adding more than 1,500 jobs in 2018, a 1.8 percent increase, and employing more than 86,000 rural Americans. Since 2008, employment at farm banks has risen 24.4 percent.

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R-CALF Files Class Action Lawsuit Against Beef Packers

The Scott+Scott law firm has filed a class action lawsuit in federal district court in Chicago on behalf of R-CALF USA and four cattle-feeding ranchers from Iowa, Nebraska, Kansas, and Wyoming. The suit alleges the nation’s four largest beef packers violated U.S. antitrust laws, the Packers and Stockyards Act, and the Commodity Exchange Act by unlawfully depressing prices paid to American ranchers. The complaint was filed against Tyson Foods, Inc., JBS S.A., Cargill, Inc., and National Beef Packing Company, LLC. The suit claims the packers, which purchase and processes more than 80 percent of U.S. fed cattle, conspired to depress the price of fed cattle they purchased from American ranchers, thereby inflating their own margins and profits since January of 2015. The class action lawsuit seeks to recover losses suffered by two classes believed harmed by packers alleged conduct. The first class includes cattle producers who sold fed cattle to any one of the companies from January 2015 to the present. The second class consists of traders who transacted live cattle futures or options contracts on the Chicago Mercantile Exchange from January 2015 to the present.

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New York Mayor Announced Own Green New Deal

New York Mayor Bill de Blasio announced a Green New Deal of his own this week, calling for a reduction in purchases of processed meats in New York City. The deal, according to the mayor’s office, would ensure a near 30 percent reduction in emissions by 2030. The plan was passed by the New York City Council last week. As part of the plans waste and carbon reductions, it calls for the city to end “unnecessary purchases of single-use plastic foodware, phase out the purchase of processed meat, reduce the purchase of beef by 50 percent and commit to a carbon neutral City fleet by 2040.” Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams said of the deal he is “particularly thrilled” that the city “has taken up our mantle to reduce our overconsumption of meat through the phasing out of processed meat purchasing and the reduction of beef purchasing.” The New York Green New Deal also bans the “inefficient” steel and glass skyscrapers that adorn the city, and calls for vast changes to make current building more efficient.

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Tariffs Could Skyrocket Tomato Prices in the U.S.

Threatened tariffs could hike U.S. tomato prices between 40 and 85 percent. Research commissioned by the Fresh Produce Association of America suggests that if the U.S. withdraws from the Tomato Suspension Agreement on May 7, and applies duties on Mexican tomatoes, consumer prices could rise up to 40 percent in the period from May to December. During other periods, such as winter, prices for certain varieties like vine-ripened tomatoes, tomatoes on the vine and Romas could rise more than 85 percent. At the request of tomato growers from Florida, U.S. Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross announced the U.S. would end the current suspension agreement between the two countries. By doing so, the U.S. would resume an anti-dumping investigation that could result in steep duties on Mexican tomatoes. The Tomato Suspension Agreement is an agreement suspending the antidumping investigation on fresh tomatoes from Mexico, which stops Mexico from dumping tomato exports on the U.S. market.

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Study: Red Meat Safe Shelf Life Seven Weeks

A new study suggests red meat can safely be stored for up to seven weeks. Advancements in storage and vacuum packaging may extend the shelf life of red meat, according to researchers from the British Meat Producers Association and Meat and Livestock Australia. The research indicated that raw beef doesn’t become toxic with the bacterium that causes botulism until 50 days after first developing spores. The beef needed to be chilled at 46 degrees Fahrenheit or below, noting that it takes 45 days for lamb and 25 days for pork to land in similar circumstances at the same temperature. U.K. officials initially set a shelf-life rule of ten days for fresh beef in 1992, with revised guidance issued in 2008. Meat industry publication Meatingplace reports the findings could give meat processors the ability to apply longer retail shelf lives to their products, benefitting consumers and the environment thanks to lower levels of food waste and improved sustainability.

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.