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READ the NAFB’s National Ag News for Thursday, June 27th

Pressure Mounting on Trump, Xi to Get Agreement in Place

U.S. President Donald Trump and Chinese President Xi (Zhee) Jinping will meet Saturday on the sidelines of the G-20 political summit in Osaka, Japan. Politico says both leaders are under mounting economic and political pressure to end their trade war. It’s a high-stakes meeting that may or may not mark a turning point in the negotiations after talks slammed to a halt back in May. Each side’s top trade official got things going with a phone call this week. U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer and Chinese Vice Premier Liu He spoke on the phone on Monday. Lighthizer and U.S. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin (Muh-NOO-chin) are expected to get together with their Beijing counterparts before Trump and Xi go face-to-face on this weekend. Trump’s trade war is taking a huge toll on U.S. farmers and causing major uncertainty for American businesses. Financial conditions in agriculture have gotten much worse, with that weakness starting to show up in lending data and threatening the broader rural economy. Xi faces economic growth in China that’s lagging, food prices are soaring, and his administration could take a hard knock if Trump follows through on his latest tariff threat.


Mnuchin: the U.S., China Trade Deal 90 Percent Done

Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin (Muh-NOO-chin) told CNBC that the U.S. and China are getting much closer to a trade deal than people realize. He’s also optimistic that progress will be made when Presidents Trump and Xi meet face-to-face this weekend at the G-20 in Osaka, Japan. “We’re about 90 percent of the way there and I think there’s a definite path forward to completing this,” he said on CNBC. Mnuchin also says he’s confident that Trump and Xi will make additional progress in the stalled trade talks. “The message we want to hear is that they want to come back to the table and continue,” he says. “I think there’s a good outcome for their economy and the U.S. economy to get balanced trade and continue to build on the relationship between the two countries.” What he didn’t provide to CNBC was additional details on what the final 10 percent of the agreement entails, or what some of the more important sticking points still are. The outcome of Saturday’s meeting is very important to the global economy and financial markets, which have been shaken up by the 1.5-year trade dispute between the economic giants. A survey of investors says they don’t expect a deal this weekend, but they don’t expect any new tariffs either.


Perdue Says Farmers Are “A Casualty” in Trade War

Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue acknowledged in an interview earlier this week that farmers are “casualties” in President Trump’s trade war with China. Perdue told CNN he didn’t think a trade deal was likely this weekend when Trump and Chinese President Xi meet in Japan. He’s now hoping a deal can be reached by the end of this year. The administration has set aside aid money for farmers, who make up a key group of voters that pushed Trump over the top in the last presidential election. However, they’ve been among the hardest-hit groups in the country by this trade dispute with China, once a top market for U.S. soybeans. “I think they are one of the casualties in the trade war, yes,” Perdue says. “We knew going in that when you throw a penalty flag on China, any retaliation would come right at the American farmer.” Perdue tells CNN that he’s told the president “you can’t pay the bills with patriotism,” adding that the president understands that. That why Trump is trying to supplement the damage they’re facing from the trade disruption with market facilitation payments. The trade dispute escalated earlier this month after Washington and Beijing raised tariffs on each other’s goods. It’s left U.S. farmers sitting on record volumes of soybeans as China halted purchases.


House Passes Ag Appropriations in Minibus Spending Bill

The U.S. House passed H.R. 3055, a minibus of appropriations that does include the fiscal year 2020 Ag Appropriations Bill. The Hagstrom Report says the final vote was split mostly along party lines. The Ag section of the bill covers the Agriculture Department, as well as the Food and Drug Administration, the Commodity Futures Trading Commission, and the Farm Credit Administration. The funding runs from October 1 of this year through September 30, 2020. New York Democrat Nita Lowey is Chair of the House Appropriations Committee, who says that “The bill makes important investments that will strengthen communities and improve millions of lives. It invests billions into America’s infrastructure, strengthens and modernizes public housing, and delivers on the promise of broadband to rural communities.” House Ag Appropriations Subcommittee Chair Sanford Bishop of Georgia says, “Few people may recognize the far-reaching jurisdiction of the agriculture subcommittee. From food safety and agricultural research to rural development and nutrition assistance, the programs touch the lives of every citizen on a daily basis.” He says that why they rejected the administration’s “draconian cuts” to programs that assist America’s rural communities and vulnerable populations.


Animal Antibiotic Sales are Dropping

The incentives that companies use to help develop new antibiotics for food animals are coming under pressure. A USDA research economist says those incentives are being pressured by high development costs, changing markets, and shifting consumer trends. The trade industry website Meating Place Dot Com says sales in antibiotics in both the U.S. and Europe are dropping, and incentives for companies that manufacture new branded or generic products are slipping as well. Those pharma companies have to cope with research-and-development costs that could run for 10 years from the first idea to market. The companies also have to contend with regulations that ban the use of medically important antibiotics which are used to treat humans. They also have to respond to growing consumer demand for food from animals that haven’t been treated with antibiotics. It’s becoming more expensive for companies to develop alternatives, even if it’s reforming earlier antibiotics. Livestock farmers who can’t use antibiotics to treat their animals are in for slower animal growth rates, a higher cull rate, and even could be affected by growing ineffectiveness of the current drugs. Industry experts say government regulators want to see non-medically important antibiotics developed for animals to treat bacterial infections once they appear.


Brain Drain Coming for Economic Research Service

U.S. Department of Agriculture economists have been saying for some time that Ag Secretary Sonny Perdue’s plan to move the Economic Research Service from Washington to Kansas City won’t be a positive for the agency. Those economists say the potential move was causing a “brain drain” of veteran scientists. An Agri-Pulse report says nearly 70 percent of the employees at the ERS who’ve been ordered to make the move to Kansas City will leave the agency instead. A survey from American Federal Government Employees says even more than that are considering quitting. Now that the first group of agency employees is set to be relocated by August first, that number will likely accelerate. USDA gave the workers tapped for relocation until July 15 to make a decision, just one month after Perdue announced the final site selection. The secretary says the move will save money and improve customer service by bringing the agency closer to farming regions. However, some ERS economists say they see it as retaliation for their reports that cast an unflattering light on Trump administration policies. Not a single employee in the Information Services Division said they were likely to move. About 90 percent of the employees that study topics like food assistance, climate change, and the rural economy are thinking of quitting.

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.