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READ the NAFB’s National Ag News for Thursday, May 23rd

Aid Package Announcement Coming Soon

Bloomberg says the Trump Administration is about ready to officially announce another round of aid to help farmers hurt by the trade war with China. The announcement could come as soon as Thursday. People familiar with the plan say it could exceed $15 billion. The aid plan looks to be quite similar to the program the administration put together to help farmers last year after China slapped retaliatory tariffs on U.S. agricultural products. The biggest difference between the first and second round of aid is the payments will be larger. Two people familiar with the details tell Bloomberg that the administration is considering payments of $2 per bushel for soybean growers, 62 cents per bushel for wheat growers, and four cents a bushel for corn growers. The payments are designed to help compensate farmers for financial losses from the trade war. “Corn farmers are going to be very upset about this,” says Iowa Senator Joni Ernst. “It’s better than the one cent per bushel they got last year but it’s nowhere near enough.” Bloomberg says other commodities will receive help but there were no specific numbers available.

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African Swine Fever Vaccine is Eight Years Away

USDA Under Secretary Greg Ibach (EYE-baw) says scientists have pegged an effective vaccine for the African Swine Fever Virus is at least eight years away. The Fence Post Dot Com says he made the announcement during a hearing in front of the House Agriculture Livestock and Foreign Agriculture Subcommittee hearing on animal pest disease prevention and response capabilities. Ibach says the USDA is also working with Canada on research on how to detect the disease, as well as on biosecurity measures. In fact, the agency is working closely with both Canada and Mexico to control African Swine Fever, which hasn’t been found in North America. If the virus does show up, USDA would consult with governments of both countries before deciding where and when to limit animal movements. Ibach was asked about importing organic animal feed from China, where the ASF virus is prevalent. He says imports of feed from China are much lower than they’ve been, but also pointed out that “shutting down imports of feed would hurt the swine industry.

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Optimism Renewed on Capitol Hill Around USMCA

U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer had kind words for Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi after they met this week to discuss the U.S.-Mexico-Canada Trade Agreement. Lighthizer attended a closed-door lunch with Republican Senators earlier this week, saying he was optimistic about the prospects of getting the USMCA passed. Lighthizer says the House Speaker is focusing on the deal. Iowa Senator Joni Ernst told Politico that he was “very complimentary of Speaker Pelosi, I’ll be honest.” Senate GOP members seemed more optimistic about the future of the deal, which Politico says was on “life-support” just weeks ago. One sign that Pelosi is working in good faith on the deal is the formation of four working groups to address Democratic concerns. Those concerns included improvements in the areas of labor, environment, and medicines. The fourth group will work on miscellaneous issues that Democrats want to get resolved. There’s no timeline yet as to when the administration will formally submit the text of the agreement to Congress. Senate Republicans know time is of the essence. They share an administration goal of getting the deal done and approved by the end of the summer. That would give Republicans and President Trump a big victory going into the 2020 elections.

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Kentucky Hosting U.S.-China Governors Collaboration Summit

Governors from across the U.S. and leaders from China are converging in Lexington, Kentucky, this week, as part of the fifth annual U.S.-China Governors Collaboration Summit. The event, immediately following ONE19: The Alltech Ideas Conference offers a discussion on economic development opportunities at a time when the U.S.-China economy is overshadowed by a trade war. National Governors Association CEO Scott Pattison says that in times of uncertainty around the world, “U.S. governors are reaffirming our country’s value as a trading partner.” Kentucky Governor Matt Bevin says the U.S. and China are at a “pivotal junction,” adding that the gathering will “provide a platform for progress, cultural understanding, and development of mutually beneficial trade relationships.” Kentucky-based Alltech is among the companies offering support for the summit, and President and CEO Dr. Mark Lyons says the need to identify opportunities for collaboration “is greater than ever.” The forum alternates each year between the two countries. The event started Wednesday morning and will conclude at the end of the week.

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Ag Groups Want Immediate Biodiesel Tax Credit Extension

Thirteen trade groups that represent farmers, rural lenders, crop and biodiesel-based oil producers, as well as biodiesel producers, fired off a letter to the House and Senate. They’re asking each body to take action on bipartisan legislation to extend the biodiesel tax incentive. “America’s farmers and rural communities are facing a mounting economic threat,” the groups say in the letter. “Congress can help lessen the crisis by taking immediate action on a policy that enjoys bipartisan, bicameral support. We are writing today to ask you to renew and extend the biodiesel tax incentive at the earliest opportunity.” Kurt Kovarik, National Biodiesel Board VP of Federal Affairs, says, “Income for America’s farmers is falling, and the impact is beginning to be felt in other sectors of the rural economy. Biodiesel production adds value to oilseeds crops and recycled oils, providing one bright spot for the agriculture sector.” The trade groups’ letter says Senators and Representative from both sides of the aisle and across the country agree that the biodiesel tax incentive should be renewed. That’s why they’re asking lawmakers to bring an extension of the biodiesel tax incentive up for immediate consideration in Congress.

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Farm Credit Administration Chair Dallas Tonsager Passes Away

Farm Credit Administration Chair Dallas Tonsager passed away this week at the age of 64. Tonsager, who’s had a long career in agriculture, was a former Under Secretary for Rural Development. Farm Credit Council President and CEO Todd Van Hoose said Tonsager had a life-long passion for rural communities and agriculture. “During his time in Washington, D.C., Dallas worked tirelessly to support farm families and make a more vibrant rural economy,” Van Hoose says. “His leadership and friendship will be deeply missed.” House Ag Committee Chair Collin Peterson says his thoughts are with the Tonsager family. “Dallas spent his career fighting on behalf of farmers and ranchers in his native South Dakota, as well as those across the country,” Peterson says. “He worked especially hard to ensure the success of the biofuels industry, as well as highlighted the healthcare and broadband needs of rural America.” House Ag Committee Ranking member Michael Conaway of Texas says Tonsager’s leadership will be greatly missed. “Production agriculture and rural America are better off due to the hard work of Dallas Tonsager,” Conaway says.

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.