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READ the NAFB’s National Ag News for Monday, May 20th

Trump Administration Lifting Section 232 Tariffs

The United States has reached a deal to lift the steel and aluminum tariffs imposed on imports from Canada and Mexico. A CNBC report says that removes a major obstacle to passing the U.S.-Mexico-Canada Trade Agreement. The Canadian and American governments say the tariffs will end in a couple of days. Canada will remove tariffs it levied on American goods in retaliation for the steel and aluminum tariffs. The countries will also drop all pending litigation before the World Trade Organization. While the U.S. and Canada officially announced the deal, Mexico hadn’t put out any kind of statement in mid-Friday afternoon. Trump mentioned the tariff removal during a speech to the National Association of American Realtors. “I’m pleased to announce we’ve just reached an agreement with Canada and Mexico to sell products without the imposition of major tariffs,” he said to the crowd. Canada’s Prime Minister Justin Trudeau says, “Now that we’ve had a full ilft on these tariffs, we are going to work with the United States on timing for ratification of USMCA.” He’s “optimistic” about moving the trade agreement forward in the weeks ahead.

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Will Trade Aid Affect Planting Decisions?

An agricultural economist from the University of Illinois says the next round of trade aid coming out of Washington, D.C. could impact planting in 2019. Politico says if the USDA should happen to model this aid package after the $12 billion it rolled out last year, it would dramatically skew incentives for Midwest farmers to plant soybeans this spring. Scott Irwin of the University of Illinois says there are two reasons for this. The Market Facilitation Payment Program’s payment rate for soybeans came in at $1.65 a bushel, the highest of any commodity. That compared to a payment of one cent per bushel for corn. Payments were tied to actual production in 2018. Irwin says, “My guess is USDA will try to not tie payments to actual production in order to not affect farmers’ planting decisions.” He notes that lawmakers have tried for decades to make farm policy more market-oriented. He says this round could be modeled after the old direct payment system that was in effect before the 2014 Farm Bill. Many Midwestern producers actually still have time to change their plans because of the historically wet spring around the region.

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U.S. Beef Now has Full Access to Japan

Ag Secretary Sonny Perdue says the United States and Japan have agreed on new terms and conditions that eliminate Japan’s longstanding restrictions on U.S. beef exports. That paves the way for expanded sales to the United States’ top global beef market. Last week, Perdue met on the sidelines of the G-20 Agricultural Ministerial Meeting in Japan with government officials. Everyone in attendance affirmed the importance of science-based trade rules. The new terms take effect immediately, allowing U.S. products from all cattle, regardless of age, to enter Japan for the first time since 2003. The U.S. Meat Export Federation is pleased with the news, saying, “This is a major step toward putting BSE in the rearview mirror.” USDA estimates that this expanded access could increase U.S. beef and beef product exports to Japan by up to $200 million annually. It’s also an important step in normalizing trade relations with Japan. It was back in 2003 that Japan banned U.S. beef and beef products following the detection of an animal with mad cow disease in the United States.

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Ethanol Group Wants Court to Block EPA-Issued RFS Waivers

The Advanced Biofuels Association is asking a Washington, D.C., Circuit Court to block the Environmental Protection Agency from exempting any small refiners from their 2018 biofuel blending requirements. The requirements are part of the Renewable Fuels Standard. The trade association is hoping to start on oral arguments for an injunction as soon as possible. The EPA and refiners have been pointing to a court decision in the Sinclair vs. EPA case, which said the EPA was setting the requirements for waivers too high. The EPA and the refiners have used that as justification for expanding the number of exemptions. But, as Reuters reported Thursday, the methodology change happened months before the court decision in August of 2017. The ABA court filing says the new EPA approach ignores all Department of Energy recommendations for partial exemptions and universally awards full exemptions. EPA issued no denials for the 2016 and 2017 compliance years. They also have 40 applications for 2018 waiting for a decision. An EPA spokesman says, “The state of the Renewable Fuels Standard and the small refinery exemption program have been subject to court opinions prior to and during the Trump Administration.”

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NFU Vice President; Bankruptcies, Suicides Still Rising

Wisconsin dairy farmer and current National Farmers Union Vice President Patty Edelburg told Fox News that the ongoing trade war with China is increasing financial stress and suicide among farmers. Edelburg joins other Midwest agricultural leaders in condemning President Trump’s ongoing trade war. She says the dire state of farming amid falling income and commodity prices is resulting in a surging amount of bankruptcies, stress, and suicide among the agricultural community. A Newsweek article quoted Edelburg saying, “It’s been insane. We’ve had a lot of farmers pushed into bankruptcy, as well as a lot more farmer suicides. These things are highlighting many of the stories in our local news.” The National Farmers Union and other Ag groups confirmed to Newsweek that they’re offering more resources to help prevent suicides in 2019. The NFU has established a website, www.farmcrisis.nfu.org, to help family farmers and ranchers make tough decisions. The government-backed Wisconsin Farm Center, which helps distressed farmers, saw its call numbers climb by 33 percent last November and December. Wisconsin saw a record 915 suicides as recently as 2017, which experts say might be farmers succumbing to severe financial pressure.

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Farm Bureau Wants Immigration Problem Solved

While the American Farm Bureau was pleased that President Trump put forth a proposal on fixing the nation’s immigration system, they say proposals aren’t going to solve the problem. AFB President Zippy Duvall says, “Nowhere is immigration reform more critical than in the Ag sector. Labor shortages are hitting farmers and ranchers across the country in dairy, fruits and vegetables, mushrooms, livestock, and other Ag sectors.” He says Farm Bureau will not relent in its fight to ensure that a solution to our agricultural labor needs is included in any immigration reform package. A Farm Bureau report in 2014 showed that potential losses in the vegetable, livestock, fruit and grain production could range as high as $60 billion because of immigration challenges. “A reformed agricultural guest worker program that’s flexible and affordable for farmers, fair to workers, and effective in meeting the needs of all producers is critical,” Duvall adds. “We also need to provide current workers the opportunity to earn legal status.” He says these workers are all extremely essential to the nation’s food production.

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.