Sponsored by the American Farm Bureau Federation

READ the NAFB’s National Ag News for Monday, June 24th

Summer Passage of USMCA Looking Doubtful

Key lawmakers in Washington, D.C., cast significant doubt on the possibility of the U.S.-Mexico-Canada Trade Agreement getting passed through Congress yet this summer. This comes in spite of the fact that political pressure is ramping up. Congress has a long summer recess rapidly approaching. Politico says it’s looking like Democrats are sticking to their ideas that the agreement needs more changes. That may push a vote on the House floor at least into the fall. Waiting that long will only increase the risk of the much-needed bill getting swallowed up in the politics of the 2020 presidential campaign. Representative Earl Blumenauer of Oregon is Chair of the House Ways and Means Trade Subcommittee, who talked about the prospects of a vote on USMCA in the next few weeks. At an event last week in Washington, his response was a simple one, saying, “It’s not going to happen. I think it’s very unlikely that something is going to happen before Congress heads out of town on the August recess.”


27 Governors Send Letter Asking Congress to Ratify USMCA

Just over half the nation’s governors co-signed a letter to Congress asking for rapid ratification of the U.S.-Mexico-Canada Trade Agreement. In a letter dated Thursday, June 20, it says, “Nearly 25 years after passing the North American Free Trade Agreement, it’s time to update our trade policies with two of our most critical trading partners.” The governors, all Republicans, say the USMCA is a “comprehensive, twenty-first-century trade agreement” which will protect trade secrets and intellectual property, prevents corruption, prevents importation of goods produced by forced labor, and expands the agricultural market by lowering trade barriers for farmers and ranchers. The Jamestown, North Dakota, Sun says the letter also reads, “As chief executives of our states, we urge Congress to pass the USMCA quickly so American workers can begin reaping the benefits of improved trade with our North American neighbors,” The letter also says. “Passing the agreement quickly will give our small and large businesses the stability and predictability they need to expand, invest, and create more jobs.” North Dakota Governor Doug Burgum, one of the co-signers, says, “American producers are among the world’s best and can compete with anyone on a level playing field. The USMCA represents a tremendous opportunity to advance free and fair trade.”


U.S. Trade Rep Looking for Deal with Japan Within Weeks

U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer talked trade during an appearance before the House Ways and Means Committee last week. He told committee members that he’s hopeful the U.S. and Japan are close to a deal on agricultural tariff cuts. He says the key to reaching a bilateral trade agreement with Japan is resolving those differences over Ag tariffs. According to various media reports, Lighthizer says, “I’m hopeful that we’ll come to an agreement in the next several weeks. It’s a high priority.” He also says, “The principal thing we’re trying to do is to get agriculture access equal to what the Japanese have given to the TPP countries.” The trade industry website Meating Place Dot Com points out that one of President Trump’s first acts in the Oval Office was to withdraw the U.S. from negotiations over the multilateral Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement. Hillary Clinton had also been critical of the pact during the most recent presidential campaign. The U.S. and Japan are scheduled to have more trade discussions this week during the Group of 20 summit meeting in Osaka, Japan. The negotiations have been ongoing since April.


Honeybee Losses Jumped Sharply Higher Last Winter

Bee colony death numbers are continuing to climb. The Bee Informed Partnership released its latest survey last week, saying U.S. beekeepers lost 40 percent of their colonies last winter. That’s the largest number of overwintering hive losses since the survey began more than a decade ago. The total annual loss in 2018 was estimated to be slightly above average. An NPR Dot Org article says the survey included responses from 4,700 beekeepers who managed approximately 320,000 hives. The USDA says pollinators like honeybees are directly responsible for one of every three bites of food that people consume. Most of the pollinators are domesticated honeybees and they’re essential for many different types of flowering crops. Wild insects can’t always be counted on to pollinate hundreds of acres of crops, so fruit and nut growers will use commercial honeybee colonies instead. Studies have shown that bee decline has multiple causes. Decreasing crop diversity, poor beekeeping habits, as well as a loss of habitat are just some of the reasons given for bee numbers dropping. Pesticides have been shown to weaken bee immune systems. Varroa mites are the number one concern of beekeepers in the wintertime because the tools beekeepers use to control the mites aren’t as effective as they have been in the past.  


Administration Approves Disaster Aid for Mississippi, Kansas

Late last week, President Trump declared that a major disaster exists in Mississippi. He’s ordered federal assistance to help supplement state and local recovery efforts after severe storms, tornadoes, straight-line winds, and flooding did a large amount of damage on April 13-14. Federal funding is available to state and eligible local governments, as well as private nonprofit organizations on a cost-sharing basis for emergency work, as well as repairing or replacing facilities that suffered damage. The disaster declaration covers eight different counties in Mississippi. Trump also approved a disaster declaration in Kansas and ordered supplemental recovery assistance for state and local government agencies there as well. Kansas was hit by several storms, straight-line winds, tornadoes, flooding, landslides, and mudslides beginning on April 29 and continuing afterward. The declaration covers 53 counties within Kansas. Federal funding is also available on a cost-sharing basis for hazard mitigation measures statewide.


Legislation Introduced to Extend Biofuel, Bioenergy Tax Credits

Democratic Representative Mike Thompson of California introduced the Taxpayer Certainty and Disaster Tax Relief Act of 2019. The bill is designed to extend several biofuel and bioenergy-related tax credits. “For far too long, Congress has not extended important tax provisions on a forward-looking basis, resulting in confusion and uncertainty for taxpayers,” Thompson says. “We just took the first step toward untangling this mess.” He says the Taxpayer Certainty and Disaster Tax Relief Act of 2019 extends a number of provisions that expired at the end of 2017 and 2018, as well as those that will expire at the end of this year. The bill would extend the $1-per-gallon tax credit for biodiesel and biodiesel mixtures, as well as the small Agri-biodiesel producer credit of 10 cents per gallon through 2020. The bill treats renewable diesel the same as biodiesel, except there’s no small producer tax credit. The second-generation biofuel producer credit would also be extended through 2020.

SOURCE: NAFB News Service


By Tucker Allmer - The BARN

Tucker 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.

%d bloggers like this: