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READ the NAFB’s National Ag News for Tuesday, July 16th

China Economy Slowing, Planting More Soybeans

Growth of China’s economy is slowing as China remains embattled in a trade war with the United States. China’s National Bureau of Statistics reported China’s gross domestic product grew at 6.2 percent in the second quarter of 2019, the slowest rate since 1992. China says its economy continues to face “downward pressure.” The report, however, says China’s agricultural production was “sound.” The value added of crop farming grew by 3.9 percent year on year, 0.5 slower than the first quarter. The overall output of summer grain was 141.74 million metric tons, an increase of 2.93 million over last year, up by 2.1 percent. China says it’s soybeans and cotton plantings increased, while livestock production was down 2.1 percent. China is buying less U.S. soybeans due to tariffs enacted in the tit-for-tat trade war between the two countries. China agreed to reopen trade talks last month and U.S. officials will soon travel to China. However, the outcome of future talks remains uncertain.

Senator Calls on Trump to Stop False Claims Regarding Purchases of U.S. Ag Products

Senator Tammy Baldwin is calling on President Trump to stop making false claims regarding China purchasing U.S. ag products. The Wisconsin Democrat penned a letter to Trump claiming the President’s “exaggerated claims about export opportunities” make doing business in agriculture difficult. Last month, the President claimed Mexico had agreed to immediately begin buying large quantities of agricultural products from U.S. farmers. More recently, Trump claimed that China will buy “a tremendous amount of food and agricultural product” but has so far offered no evidence or details to support the claim. Trump made the China claims following a meeting with China, where both sides agreed to reopen trade negotiations. However, China has not confirmed the purchases and trade experts say no agreement on ag products exists. U.S. agricultural exports to China dropped from $25 billion in 2015 to a projected $6 billion this year. Baldwin notes the impact of the trade war as part of the reason Wisconsin has lost more than 1,600 dairy farms since Trump took office.

House Judiciary Committee Bill Would Increase Farm Debt Coverage under Chapter 12

A bill passed by the House Judiciary Committee would increase the amount of farm debt covered by chapter 12 bankruptcy. Last week, the committee passed the Family Farmer Relief Act. Introduced by New York Representative, Democrat Antonio Delgado, the bill would increase the current debt limit used to determine whether a farmer is eligible for relief under chapter 12 of the Bankruptcy Code, a specialized form of bankruptcy relief specifically intended for farmers, from approximately $4.4 million to $10 million. Delgado says the bill gives “farmers and growers the flexibility they need to continue operations.” The bill, which is the House companion to legislation introduced by Republican Senator Chuck Grassley and Senate Democrat Amy Klobuchar, is endorsed by the American Farm Bureau Federation and National Farmers Union. Delgado says the changes reflect the increase in land values, as well as the growth over time in the average size of U.S. farm operations and are meant to provide farmers additional options to manage the downturn in the farm economy.

Crawford Introduces Legislation to Reform H-2A Program

Legislation introduced in the House of Representatives would transfer jurisdiction for agricultural guest workers from the Department of Labor to the Department of Agriculture. The bill comes as the labor Department Monday opened a comment period on proposed rulemaking changes to the program. The changes “strengthen protections” for workers. Meanwhile, the Agricultural Guest Worker Reform Initiative, or AGRI Act, introduced by Arkansas Republican Rick Crawford, would transfer the program to USDA which is “better equipped” to address the need for temporary workers and will make the program more accessible to farmers. The legislation would also allow employers to offer market-based contracts and wages, and increase the security of the program by requiring workers to return to their country of origin for one month following every 10 months of labor in the United States. By returning, workers payroll taxes will be refundable at the U.S. consulate in their home country. The legislation also requires the Department of Homeland Security to provide guest workers with a traceable, biometric ID card.

Report: Iowa Farmland Values Decline Four out of Last Five Years

A new report shows Iowa farmland prices have declined four out of the last five years. Researchers from Iowa State University say lower commodity prices and higher interest rates have forced the declines. Based on the Farmland Value Survey, the 2018 Iowa land values have fallen 17 percent off the 2013 peak. However, despite these decreases, current Iowa farmland values are still almost three times more than the 2000 values, 66 percent higher than the 2009 values, and eight percent higher than the 2011 values. The report compared farmland values and the S&P 500, to determine which provided a better investment. While the results varied, the report suggests that with the decline in farm income and a possible increase in interest rates, farmland values may continue to recede in the foreseeable future. Meanwhile, the S&P market is increasingly influenced by the global economy, especially emerging markets like China, trade and world security. Regarding which is a better investment, the report says, “timing is everything in the success of a rain dance.”

Public Lands Council Opens 2019 Annual Meeting Registration

Online registration is now open for the Public Lands Council 2019 Annual Meeting in Great Falls, Montana, scheduled September 25-28. The PLC Annual Meeting features legislative updates, educational seminars, and a federal lands range tour. During the 2019 meeting, more than 20 speakers will share updates regarding federal lands ranching policy. Speakers include key decisionmakers from the Department of the Interior, the Forest Service, the U.S. Department of Agriculture, and the National Resource Conservation Service. Additional industry partners such as the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association, the American Sheep Industry Association, and the National Association of Grasslands will also provide updates. Since 1968, the Public Lands Council has represented public lands ranchers in Washington, D.C. PLC President Bob Skinner says the meeting offers attendees “a better understanding of the issues impacting their grazing permits.” The 2019 event also features a predator tour along the Rocky Mountain front. Attendees can take advantage of early bird registration rates through September 1st. To register for the PLC Annual Meeting visit, publiclandscouncil.com.

SOURCE: NAFB News Service


By Brian 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.