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READ the NAFB’s National Ag News for Thursday, May 2nd

Outlook for May China Agreement Positive

Optimism is growing that the U.S. and China could wrap up a trade agreement this month. Trade officials from the U.S. and China concluded talks in Beijing Wednesday with another critical round scheduled for next week in the United States. The Trump administration has appeared to be ready to walk away if an agreement isn’t reached soon. However, Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said on Twitter that he and Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer concluded “productive meetings” this week. The South China Morning Post reports that the U.S. has dropped the demand that China halts alleged instances of commercial cyber theft, to bring an end to the long-running tariff dispute. A deal at this point between the U.S. and China is expected in Mid-May, with a possible signing of the agreement planned for June. However, an agreement doesn’t mean an end to tariffs. The U.S. is planning on keeping some tariffs on China, and China will likely keep retaliatory tariffs on U.S. agricultural products, according to a Chinese trade expert.

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New National Poll Shows Impacts of Rural Economy on Farmer Mental Health 

A majority of farmers and farmworkers say financial issues, farm or business problems and fear of losing the farm impact farmers’ mental health. Other factors included stress, weather, the economy, isolation and social stigma, according to a new national poll by Morning Consult commissioned by the American Farm Bureau Federation. Polling found that many rural adults have either personally sought care or have a family member who has sought care for a mental health condition. Three in four rural adults, 75 percent said it’s important to reduce the stigma about mental health in the agriculture community, while two in three farmers and farmworkers, 66 percent, said the same. Large majorities of rural Americans polled agreed that cost, social stigma and embarrassment would make it harder for them to seek help or treatment for mental health conditions. In response to the results, AFBF President Zippy Duvall said, “we can and must do more to address farmer stress and mental health issues in rural America.”

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Peterson: South America Seeks Improved Infrastructure

Following a trip to South America, House Agriculture Committee Chairman Collin Peterson said he believes South America as a competitor to the U.S. will “only become stronger with time.” Peterson led a delegation to South America to see firsthand its impact and potential in global agricultural trade. The delegation saw the commitment South America has to improve its infrastructure, a key issue holding back the region when it comes to exports. During meetings, the delegation learned that the country is looking to attract billions in private investment to improve the country’s infrastructure, and in particular the capacity of its agricultural supply chain. Peterson says “it’s only a matter of time” before infrastructure investments improve the export of agricultural products, and “cut into” the competitive advantage the U.S. enjoys over South America. Further, Peterson says the Chinese are “happy to buy everything the South Americans can grow” right now, while the U.S. is embattled in trade negotiations and facing retaliatory tariffs.

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Canada Increasing Trade Aid to Farmers Amid China Canola Ban

Canada Wednesday announced more assistance to farmers amid its own trade woes with China. The announcement provides additional credit to producers through the Advance Payments Program, expanding available credit to C$1 million and providing up to C$500,000 interest-free for canola production. China has blocked imports of Canadian canola seed from two companies because China “discovered pests” in shipments. While technical discussions have taken place between the Chinese and Canadian governments, the scientific basis for China’s actions remains unclear, according to the Canola Council of Canada. China has been a major market for Canadian canola, accounting for approximately 40 percent of all canola seed, oil and meal exports. Canola seed exports to China were worth C$2.7 billion in 2018, and demand has been very strong until recent disruptions. Canada’s Trade Minister Jim Carr also announced planned trade missions to boost exports in Japan and South Korea of Canadian Canola. The Canola Council says it’s an “ideal time” to “seize the opportunity to develop markets.”

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Democratic Leaders, Trump, Agree on Infrastructure Plan, Mulvaney Cast Doubs

President Donald Trump and Democratic leaders from Congress this week agreed to work on an infrastructure deal worth $2 trillion. Senate Minority leader Chuck Schumer and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi called the talks this week productive. However, acting chief of staff for the Trump administration, Mick Mulvaney, told Fox Business Network there’s a much better chance the U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement would pass, casting doubt on an infrastructure deal. Mulvaney says any agreement would break down over the administration’s determination to change environmental laws and other regulations, as Mulvaney seeks to waive environmental rules to allow for quick construction. Democrats want to expand the agreement beyond infrastructure. Speaking to reporters, Pelosi said the agreement is about jobs, and “clean air, clean water,” and called infrastructure a quality of life issue in “getting people out of their cars.” Pelosi says the president agrees the deal should include broadband infrastructure improvements. More meetings are planned three weeks from now to seek ways to fund the plan.

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Cattle Industry Welcomes Transporting Livestock Across America Safely Act

Cattle industry organizations Wednesday welcomed introduction of the Transporting Livestock Across America Safely Act. The bipartisan bill would provide livestock haulers with regulatory relief from the restrictive Hours-of-Service rules by the Department of Transportation. The bill was introduced By Nebraska Republican Senator Ban Sasse and Montana Democratic Senator Jon Tester. The U.S. Cattlemen’s Association calls the bill a “prescriptive solution for livestock haulers that gives them the flexibility needed to get their live cargo to its destination as safely and efficiently as possible.” The bill would increase the exempt miles under the Hours of Service regulation, increase the current driving time hours and give more flexibility to allow drivers to finish their delivery. National Cattlemen’s Beef association’s senior vice president for government affairs, Collin Woodall, says current Hours of Service rules “present major challenges” for livestock haulers. Woodall says the bill recognizes the unique needs of livestock haulers, as “hauling livestock is inherently different than hauling typical consumer goods.”

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.