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READ the NAFB’s National Ag News for Tuesday, May 7th

Trump Says Tariffs on China to Increase Friday, Pressuring for Trade Deal

Trade officials from China are in Washington, DC this week as the Trump administration places further pressure on China to reach an agreement with the United States. Trump will increase tariffs on China Friday, saying talks between the two nations are going too slowly. On Twitter, Trump states he will increase tariffs on $200 billion of goods from 10 to 25 percent. Trade organization Tariffs Hurt the Heartland says the move would cost nearly one million American jobs, and “increase the likelihood of retaliation on American farmers.” China and the U.S. meet this week in what was expected to be the final round of formal talks. Trump is expected to host his Chinese counterpart Xi Jinping (Shee Jihn-ping) in June, with the expectation the two would sign an agreement. A spokesperson for China’s Foreign Ministry said Monday the negotiations held so far between the two sides have achieved positive progress, adding, China hopes the U.S. will work to “meet each other halfway and strive for a mutually beneficial agreement on the basis of mutual respect.”

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Finalist Sites Named, Groups Restate Opposition to USDA Moves

The Department of Agriculture is eying the Kansas City metro, Purdue University and Research Triangle Park to relocate two department agencies. USDA announced the three finalists Friday as relocation spots for the Economic Research Service and the National Institute of Food and Agriculture. The controversial move “will help ensure USDA is the most effective, most efficient, and most customer-focused agency in the federal government,” and allows USDA to be closer to the agency’s stakeholders, according to agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue. However, the National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition says the proposal would result in the loss of skilled staff and bring the potential for politicization of the nonpartisan research agencies. The Coalition says its “deeply disappointed” USDA is pressing forward with the plan, adding that the lack of cost-benefit analysis from USDA is concerning regarding the alleged benefits. USDA plans to release a cost-benefit analysis when announcing the final site.

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Midwest Senators Seek Better Communications from Army Corps

A group of Midwest Senators is urging the Army Corps of Engineers to communicate better with lawmakers and stakeholders during flood events. Senators Jody Ernst and Chuck Grassley of Iowa led the effort, along with Senators from Kansas, Missouri, and North and South Dakota. In a letter to the Army Corps of Engineers, the Senators describes issues with communications between the Corps and local levee sponsors and those in harm’s way. The Senators requested the Corps begin sending email updates to all local sponsors of Corps levees in the Missouri River Basin weekly starting within 30 days of receiving their letter. Better communications, the Senators say, “could have mitigated some of the damages,” during the beginning of ongoing flooding along the Missouri River this spring, according to the letter. During heightened flood events along the Missouri River, the Corps of Engineers hosts scheduled conference calls with stakeholders and media, sometimes daily, with the most recent call scheduled Tuesday (today). The Corps also generally provides a forecast for the Missouri River once every three weeks. During this spring, that forecast has been updated weekly.

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Midwest River Flooding Expected to Linger

Record flooding continues on the Mississippi River as the Army Corps of Engineers also warns Missouri River Runoff will remain at near record levels. Navigational passage was closed along parts of the Mississippi River over the weekend around St. Louis with flooding expecting to continue. The U.S. Coast Guard says restrictions to operations will be lifted as soon as conditions improve. The National Weather Service says current national weather patterns are the same “seen in most of the significant flooding events in the Mississippi Valley over the past 120 years.” NWS model guidance suggests the pattern will continue through at least the middle of May and will produce areas of very heavy rains across the Mississippi watershed. Meanwhile, above-average runoff continues in the upper Missouri River basin. April runoff in the upper basin, the Missouri River above Sioux City, Iowa, was 7.8 million-acre feet, the third highest April runoff recorded. The Corps announced Monday that releases from all Missouri River reservoirs will be above average for the next several months, and possibly as late as November.

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USDA Accepting Applications to Help Cover Producers’ Costs for Organic Certification

Federal funds are available to help farmers applying for receiving and maintaining organic certification through the Organic Certification Cost Share Program. The Department of Agriculture’s Farm Service Agency announced the funding Monday. The program provides cost-share assistance up to 75 percent of certification costs each year to producers and handlers of agricultural products for the costs of obtaining or maintaining organic certification. The maximum funding available is $750 per certification scope, including crops, livestock, wild crops, handling and state organic program fees. FSA Administrator Richard Fordyce says the program also “gives organic producers an opportunity to learn about other valuable USDA resources, like farm loans and conservation assistance, that can help them succeed.” Producers can visit their local FSA county offices to apply for fiscal year 2019 funding. Eligible expenses for cost-share reimbursement include application fees, inspection costs, fees related to equivalency agreements and arrangement requirements, travel expenses for inspectors, user fees, sales assessments and postage.

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USDA Announces Repayment Option for Previous MPP Participants

The Department of Agriculture announced options last week for repayment to dairy farmers who participated in the Margin Protection Program for Diary, now replaced by the Dairy Margin Coverage Program. To be eligible for repayment, a dairy operation must have participated in the MPP-Dairy during any calendar year from 2014 through 2017, have the repayment calculated and verified by the Farm Service Agency and elect one of two options by September 20, 2019. An operation’s repayment amount is calculated for each applicable calendar year in which that dairy participated in MPP, from 2014 through 2017. An operation either can elect to receive 50 percent of the repayment amount as a cash refund or take 75 percent of the amount as a credit that can be used toward premiums for the new Dairy Margin Coverage Program. Signup for DMC begins June 17 and also ends September 20.  Eligible dairy producers soon will receive a letter from FSA, outlining their repayment options.

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.