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READ the NAFB’s National Ag News for Thursday, August 1st

U.S.-China Talks to Continue in September

The U.S. and China will resume trade talks in September following meetings this week in Beijing. A White House statement confirmed the plans Wednesday, adding the meetings this week were constructive. The two sides talked forced technology transfer, intellectual property rights, services, non-tariff barriers, and agriculture. China and the U.S. remain in a tit-for-tat trade war, but talks seem to be progressing after stalling earlier this year. The White House says the Chinese confirmed their commitment to increase purchases of U.S. agricultural exports. China has reportedly increased buys of U.S. ag products, but not at the presumed volumes touted earlier this summer by President Trump. Some Democrats in Congress are questioning the legitimacy of the claim, but the President says China is not following through on its commitments. President Trump continued his battle against China via Twitter this week, saying “they just don’t come through,” when referring to purchases of U.S. agricultural products, adding that in negotiations, “they always change the deal in the end to their benefit.”

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Baldwin, Hawley Lead Effort to Restore Competitiveness to U.S. Exports

Lawmakers say new legislation in the Senate will make U.S. exports more competitive and reduce the trade deficit. The Competitive Dollar for Jobs and Prosperity Act, announced Wednesday by Wisconsin Senate Democrat Tammy Baldwin and Missouri Senate Republican Josh Hawley, would manage the U.S. dollar exchange rate and bring it into alignment by placing a “market access charge” on foreign purchases of U.S. stocks, bonds and other assets. According to the Coalition for a Prosperous America, bringing the U.S. dollar into alignment could add nearly $1 trillion to America’s GDP, create more than five million new U.S. jobs and raise more than $2 trillion in tax revenue over six years. Senator Baldwin says the bipartisan fix “will increase American exports” and boost the “manufacturing and farming economy.” Senator Hawley says the legislation “creates a powerful new tool to fight back against foreign currency manipulators.” Hawley adds farmers “deserve a chance to earn a fair profit on their crops,” saying the bill will help create a level playing field.

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Biofuel Industry, Farm Groups, Criticize EPA RFS Volume Proposal

Farm groups Wednesday criticized the Environmental Protection Agency’s proposal for the 2020 Renewable Fuel Standards and the 2021 Biomass-based Diesel Volumes. The proposal does not include exempted biofuels through small refiner waivers. The groups claim the targets are misleading because of the many waivers issued by the EPA during the Trump administration, with more expected. During a field hearing in Michigan, Kurt Kovarik of the National Biodiesel Board told the EPA the agency is “failing its duty to ensure that the annual required volume obligations are met.” Meanwhile, National Corn Growers Association board member John Linder pressed the agency to move forward with a stronger RFS rule that “supports America’s farmers, their rural communities, and consumers.” Growth Energy also testified, stating, “If EPA is going to waive billions of gallons, it must properly account for those gallons in the RVO calculation.” Under the EPA proposal, conventional ethanol would hold steady at 15 billion gallons. Biodiesel targets, which are set two years in advance, were proposed at 2.43 billion gallons for 2021.

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Conaway Won’t Seek Reelection Following Current Term

Representative Mike Conaway of Texas announced Wednesday he would not seek reelection. The long-time House Agriculture Committee member and former Chairman calls his time in Congress “an honor and privilege that I cannot adequately describe.” Conaway made the announcement in Midland, Texas, during a news conference. Conaway told reporters he would be term-limited from continuing his leadership as the ranking member of the House Agriculture Committee, noting little opportunity for leadership positions elsewhere. Given the situation, he called this “the perfect time” to transition. During his chairmanship, Conaway led the House Ag Committee in crafting the 2018 farm bill. He previously chaired the House Ethics Committee, and currently serves on four committees. The 71-year-old was first elected to represent the 11th District of Texas when it was redrawn to include Midland in 2005. Conaway is a military veteran and CPA, who noted at the end of his current term, he will have spent 34 percent of his adult life in public service.

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Study: Soil Health Practices Increase Farm Profitability

Research by American Farmland Trust shows healthier soil on farmland brings economic benefits to farmers and environmental benefits to society. Two case studies announced this week show that through soil health management, producers can increase their yield and improve profits. Soil health helps to conserve resources for the public, on the farm and in watersheds, according to AFT Water Initiative Director Dr. Michelle Perez, the lead researcher on the project. The two-page case studies focus on corn-soybean production in Illinois and Ohio, almond production in California and a diversified rotation of crops in New York. The four farmers featured implemented soil health practices like no-till or strip-till, nutrient management, cover crops, compost, and mulching. All four of the farmers profiled saw improved yields ranging from two percent to 22 percent that they attributed, in part, to their soil health practices, with an average return on investment of 35 percent. The studies were developed through grants provided by the Department of Agriculture’s Natural Resources Conservation Service.

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AFBF Accepting Farm Dog of the Year Nominations

Farmers are invited to submit nominations for the 2020 Farm Bureau Farm Dog of the Year contest. This is the second year of the contest, which celebrates farm dogs who work alongside their people on the farm to feed America. The grand prize winner – Farm Bureau Farm Dog of the Year – will win a year’s worth of Purina dry dog food and $5,000 in prize money for his or her farmer to offset travel costs to attend the 2020 American Farm Bureau Federation Annual Convention. AFBF will hold the convention January 17-22, 2020, in Austin, Texas. AFBF President Zippy Duvall calls farm dogs “loyal members” of the farm and ranch families, saying the companions “lighten the workload and enrich our lives by providing faithful and playful companionship.” Desired attributes in the Farm Dog of the Year include helpfulness to the farmer and his/her family, playfulness and obedience. Farm dog owners must be Farm Bureau members to enter their dogs in the competition. Eligibility guidelines and submission requirements are available online at fb.org.

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.