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READ the NAFB’s National Ag News for Tuesday, May 14th

How Quickly Will Farmers Get More Tariff Relief?

President Donald Trump further hiked tariff rates on $200 billion on Chinese imports last Friday. Now, the administration is trying to assure farmers and ranchers that they’ll get more help to deal with Beijing’s retaliation. Politico says Ag Secretary Sonny Perdue put out a Twitter post last Friday saying that USDA will be working on a relief plan “quickly.” The president says the administration may buy up to $15 billion worth of U.S. farm commodities and send them to needy countries. However, Politico says that plan might take months to get going, would offer little in the way of relief to farmers, and could possibly sow even more chaos in the world markets. It’s difficult to picture that food aid programs could buy up enough commodities to significantly reduce huge stockpiles and thus give farmers a boost to crop prices. That’s the opinion of former USDA Chief Economist Joe Glauber. The Trump trade agenda is facing the double-whammy of increasing tensions with China and major opposition in Congress to the USMCA trade pact. As Trump eyes the 2020 election cycle, Politico says there isn’t a lot to show for his trade promises other than frustrated farmers and a turbulent stock market.  

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Soybean Farmers Fed Up with Tariffs

The American Soybean Association says U.S. farmers are frustrated by the lack of progress between the U.S. and China in bringing the trade war to a close. The dispute threatens soybean prices and farmers’ ability to even stay in business. The ASA has consistently opposed using unilateral tariffs to address U.S. trade deficits with China and other countries. The organization supports the negotiation of trade agreements and other measures that can increase U.S. agricultural exports, including soybeans. “The U.S. has been at the table with China 11 times and still hasn’t closed the deal,” says ASA President Davie Stephens. “What that means for soybean farmers is that we’re losing a valuable market, stable pricing, and losing an opportunity to support our families and communities.” He says the trade negotiations are directly impacting farmers’ livelihoods. The organization says the soybean industry realizes the Administration’s reasons for trying to force China to make structural changes to its predatory economic policies. However, ASA continues to recommend that the U.S. achieve these goals through coordinated actions with like-minded countries. “The soybean market in China took 40 years to build,” Stephens says, “and as this confrontation continues, it will become increasingly difficult to recover. Soybean farmers aren’t willing to be collateral damage in an endless trade war.”

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China Announces Retaliation Against U.S. Tariff Hikes

The Chinese Finance Ministry made the expected announcement on Monday that it would respond to the most recent hike in U.S. tariffs on Chinese imports. China will raise tariff rates on $60 billion in U.S. imports, including agricultural products. The Ministry will boost tarif rates in June on more than 5,000 U.S. products. Agricultural commodities that will cost more in China include citrus fruit, berries, vegetables, and nuts. President Donald Trump and Vice President Mike Pence both said over the last several days that the U.S. Department of Agriculture will begin work immediately on a new trade assistance package for U.S. farmers and ranchers in the event that China retaliated. Ag Secretary Sonny Perdue echoed that pledge on Friday in a Twitter post. While at the G-20 Ministerial Meeting in Japan, Perdue said China indicated they would retaliate against the U.S. tariff hike. “If and when they do, President Trump is committed to supporting our producers who may be harmed by the retaliatory efforts of China,” Perdue said in Japan. An Agri-Pulse report says it wasn’t even a month ago that optimism was running high that the trade war would soon be ending. However, that optimism quickly disappeared after U.S. Trade Rep Robert Lighthizer and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin (Muh-NOO-chin) returned from talks in Beijing.

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Ag Ministers Will Work to Heighten Acceptance of Biotech Crops Worldwide

Ag Ministers from Argentina, Brazil, Canada, and the U.S. say global food demand is climbing and food production faces significant hurdles. Those obstacles include limited access to arable land and fresh water. Because of that, they agreed that agricultural innovation like biotechnology will continue to play a large role in addressing these challenges and can improve farmer productivity in ways that are both safe and sustainable. The ministers say the number of biotech crops being developed and cultivated around the world is growing quickly. However, despite twenty years of experience in safely using these kinds of products, regulatory processes in many jurisdictions create time gaps between introduction and authorization. That leads to a risk in trade disruptions resulting from low-level presences (LLP) of biotechnology crops that are approved in countries that grow them but are not approved in many importing countries. In a joint statement, the four ministers say they’ll work together with other countries to advocate for global approaches to manage LLP’s in ways that are practical, science-based, predictable, and transparent. These efforts will include the universal use of international science-based guidelines.

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April Tractors Sales Up 12 Percent in 2019

The Association of Equipment Manufacturers’ Monthly Flash Report showed good news for April tractor sales. The sales of all tractors in April of 2019 were 12 percent higher than they were in April of last year. So far this year, the association says they’ve sold more tractors than they did in 2018. To date, a total of 73,820 tractors have sold so far in 2019, compared to a total of 68,147 through April of 2018. Smaller tractors had an especially good month of April. Two-wheel drive tractors under 40 horsepower sold at a 17 percent higher rate than last April. 40-100 horsepower tractor sales were down two percent in April compared to last year. Sales of two-wheel drive tractors over 100 horsepower climbed seven percent higher compared to last April, while four-wheel drive tractor sales were up 32 percent. Two-wheel drive tractors under 40 horsepower have some of the best year-to-date sales numbers compared to last year, climbing 13 percent compared to last year’s numbers. Four-wheel drive tractors are also up 27 percent year-to-date compared to 2018.

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USDA Investing in Water and Wastewater Infrastructure in 20 States

The Acting Assistant to the Secretary for Rural Development, Joel Baxley, announced that the U.S. Department of Agriculture will make significant investments to improve rural water infrastructure. The investments will include 40 separate projects that stretch over 20 states. USDA estimates that the investments will benefit approximately 111,000 rural Americans. “The investments will have a far-reaching, positive impact on rural residents, businesses, and communities,” Baxley says. “Improving water and wastewater infrastructure enhances the quality of life, helps support economic development, and ensures that rural areas have safe and abundant water supplies.” USDA will invest $82 million through the Water and Waste Water Disposal Loan and Grant Program. Rural communities, water districts, and other eligible entities can use the funds for drinking water, stormwater drainage, and waste disposal systems. The projects can only be in rural communities with 10,000 or fewer residents in order to be eligible for the funds.

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.