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READ the NAFB’s National Ag News for Thursday, August 22nd

China Hopeful U.S. Will Meet Halfway in Trade Talks

China is hopeful the U.S. will meet them “halfway” in trade negotiations. In a daily news conference, a Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson expressed hope the two sides could “find a mutually-acceptable solution” through trade negotiations. China maintains that economic cooperation between China and the U.S. is “win-win in nature.” China and the U.S. are each other’s top trading partner and represent “one of the world’s most important bilateral relationships.” Trade experts don’t think the U.S. sale of fighter jets to Taiwan will interfere with the talks. However, the spokesperson from China did request the U.S. “immediately cancel” the planned sales. Otherwise, “the U.S. will have to bear all the consequences.” President Trump on Twitter said the U.S. is “doing great” on trade talks with China and others, as part of a tirade against the U.S. Federal Reserve Bank. Negotiators are set to meet early next month in Washington. U.S. farm groups continue to urge a quick resolution to the trade war, as China has halted buying U.S. ag products.

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USDA Pulls Employees from Crop Tour Following Threat

Farmer angst spread to Pro Farmer’s Midwest Crop Tour Wednesday. The Department of Agriculture pulled all personnel from the tour after an angry farmer allegedly threatened a USDA employee over the phone. Pro Farmer says the threat reported on the western leg of the tour was not from a tour scout or farmer that attended a crop tour meeting. The threat was reported to local authorities, and Pro Farmer announced additional security measures for the remainder of the event. Officials did not announce the nature of the threat, or who was threatened. Federal Protective Services are investigating the incident. Compounding stress in farm country continues to grow as farmers face depressed prices, trade issues and a challenging growing season, along with farmers questioning USDA data. Pro Farmer recognized that “it’s clearly a stressful time right now,” but that stress does not justify making threats to federal employees, or anyone on crop tour. The tour concludes Thursday night in Rochester, Minnesota, and final estimates will be released Friday.

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Ethanol Industry Counters EPA “Zero Evidence” Claim

The Environmental Protection Agency says small refinery waivers have no impact on ethanol producers. However, the biofuels industry disagrees. EPA this week claimed, “there is zero evidence” the waivers have a negative impact on domestic ethanol producers. Yet, POET, the largest U.S. ethanol producer, just announced it will idle production at its facility in Cloverdale, Indiana. The Renewable Fuels Association said last week that 13 ethanol plants have been closed, three permanently, because of the waivers. POET Chairman and CEO Jeff Broin says through the waivers, EPA “has robbed rural America, and it’s time for farmers across the Heartland to fight for their future.” Growth Energy CEO Emily Skor says Closures in Iowa, Illinois, Kansas, Minnesota, Florida, Virginia, Texas, Pennsylvania, Missouri and Nebraska “are only the beginning.” Growth Energy points out that dozens of biofuel plants have cut production, and ethanol consumption fell for the first time in 20 years because of the small refinery waivers being issued to now 42 of the nation’s 48 small refineries.

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EPA Seeks Public Comment on Pesticide Applications for Hemp

The Environmental Protection Agency is seeking comments on ten pesticide applications to expand their use on hemp. The requests are the result of the December 2018 Farm Bill provisions that removed hemp from the Controlled Substances Act, legalizing hemp for commercial use and production. EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler says the comment period is the next step toward registering crop protection tools for hemp in time for use during the 2020 application and growing seasons. Hemp farmers told the Trump administration and Congress earlier this year pesticide availability is one the biggest challenges in hemp production. The ten products are existing insecticides and fungicides from Agro Logistic Systems, Marrone Bio Innovations and Hawthorne Hydroponics. Comments are due 30 days after the notice publishes in the Federal Register, expected in the coming days. Once public comments are received, EPA anticipates deciding about the possible use of the specified products on hemp before the end of 2019 to help growers make informed purchasing choices for the upcoming growing season.

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U.S., Mexico, Agree to New Tomato Suspension Agreement

The Department of Commerce has announced a new draft agreement between the U.S. and Mexico on fresh tomato trade. Mexico and the U.S. have a preliminary agreement in place to suspend the ongoing anti-dumping investigation of fresh tomatoes from Mexico. The Commerce Department says the agreement will protect U.S. tomatoes from unfair trade practices. For years, the U.S. has disputed the roughly $2 billion worth of tomatoes that are imported from Mexico annually. The disputes led the Commerce Department to terminate an earlier suspension agreement. The U.S. also continued an investigation that could have led to duties of 25 percent for most Mexican tomato producers. The draft includes a brand-new inspection mechanism to prevent the importation of low-quality, poor-condition tomatoes from Mexico. The draft agreement also allows the Commerce Department to audit up to 80 Mexican tomato producers per quarter. The statute requires a 30-day notice and comment period. United Fresh says the draft agreement “will be beneficial for the entire distribution chain, most importantly growers and consumers.

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USDA Reports Farm Computer Ownership and Usage

The Department of Agriculture says computer ownership and usage among farmers increased over the last two years. The Farm Computer Usage and Ownership report released last week updated numbers from 2017, as the report is compiled during odd-numbered years and released in August. The new data shows 75 percent of farms reported having access to the internet, with 73 percent of farms having access to a desktop or laptop. Over half of the farms in the United States used a smartphone or tablet to conduct farm business, compared to 44 percent in 2017. In 2019, 26 percent of farms used satellite and 22 percent of farms used a Digital Subscriber Line, known as DSL, to access the internet. Since 2017, Satellite and DSL continue to be the most popular choices that United States farms use to access the internet. The 2019 computer usage estimates are based on responses from more than 20,000 agricultural operations, and represent all sizes and types of farms.

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.