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READ the NAFB’s National Ag News for Tuesday, September 3rd

Grassley: Administration Considering “Handful” of EPA Waiver Fixes

Since Donald Trump took office, the Environmental Protection Agency has issued 85 exemptions to oil refineries allowing them to stop blending ethanol into their fuel. NBC News Dot Com says that’s a “staggering increase” from previous administrations. The waivers have been given to some of the nation’s biggest oil corporations, including Chevron and Exxon. Iowa Senator Chuck Grassley, a Trump ally, ripped the administration over the waivers. “They screwed us when they issued 31 waivers compared to less than 10 waivers in all of the Obama years,” he says. “What’s bad isn’t the waiver, it’s that it’s being granted to people who really aren’t going through any hardship.” During a recent conference call, Grassley says the administration is looking at “four-or-five things” to help make up for the damage inflicted on U.S. farmers by a large number of small-refinery waivers. Grassley says there is one thing above all others that matters to farmers. “We need the reallocation of every gallon that was waived by the EPA, getting them added back into the Renewable Fuels Standard requirement,” he said. “I welcome the administration’s admission that the EPA’s move was wrong and taking steps to try and right it.”

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While Farmer Frustration Grows, They Still Seem to Support Trump

While farmer frustration with the Trump Administration continues to grow because of the trade war with China and small refinery waivers under the RFS, he still seems to have their support. Bloomberg says support for the president bounced back this year, with 67 percent of farmers in a Farm Futures Survey saying they’ll support his re-election in 2020. That number is up from last year, when Trump’s rural support dropped to under 60 percent, shortly after China introduced retaliatory tariffs on American soybeans. In spite of the difficulties, growers still back Trump in his battle to reduce the trade deficit with countries like China. A farmer in southern Minnesota spoke with Bloomberg, saying he didn’t like it but he understands the need to get a better trade deal for the U.S. Only six percent of farmers who voted for Trump say they wouldn’t back him if the elections were held today. Even two percent of Hillary Clinton voters in 2016 now say they’ll support Trump in 2020. Farmers cite other issues outside of agriculture that help cement their support for the president, including health care, immigration, and education.

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China Buying More Ag Goods from the Philippines

China says it may import more fruits and other agricultural products from the Philippines in the years ahead as the two countries enjoy close ties. The Philippine Trade Minister, Ramon Lopez, says Chinese President Xi (Zhee) Jinping made that comment during a meeting with the Philippine president in Beijing last week. Philippine government officials were happy to hear that as the country has a goal of balancing the trade deficit with China. Lopez said in a statement that, “President Xi reiterated China’s policy to help balance trade with the Philippines by buying more goods, especially agriculture and Agri-based products, and industrial goods.” Xi also says, “China is willing to import more high-quality fruits and agricultural products from the Philippines and will send experts to the Philippines to teach agricultural and fishery technology.” A wide trade gap exists between the two countries. China was the Philippines biggest supplier of imported goods with a 23 percent share of total imports as of last June. Meanwhile, China was only the third-largest importer of products from the Philippines.

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U.S. Cattlemen’s Association Wants “Transparency Summit”

Late last week, the United States Cattlemen’s Association sent letters to the U.S. Department of Agriculture and the Commodity Futures Trading Commission. The USCA is requesting each department to bring together cattle market participants and stakeholders to discuss concerns related to price transparency and true price discovery. The letters were specifically addressed to USDA Secretary Sonny Perdue and CFTC Chairman Heath Tarbert. The USCA sent the letter in response to the untimely fire at the Tyson Foods Beef Plant in Holcomb, Kansas. U.S. cattle producers have seen unprecedented disruption in the cattle marketplace over the last several weeks since the fire took place. U.S. Cattlemen want two separate Cattle Industry Summits that would directly address issues related to the Mandatory Price Reporting Program. Packers and Stockyards Act Violations and definitions, as well as cattle futures contracts. USCA says it looks forward to working with both the USDA and the CFTC to bring together cattle industry stakeholders in the months ahead.

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China Taking Steps to Boost Pork Supplies

The Chinese Commerce Ministry says it will look at ways to boost pork imports and will look at releasing frozen pork, beef, and mutton from state reserves. Reuters says the goal is to increase the supply of meat in the domestic market. The moves will come as pork prices hit record highs in China because of the African Swine Fever epidemic that has killed millions of pigs in the country’s herds. The world’s top pork consumer has seen its hog herd shrink by as much as a third over the past year. Pork prices have soared since June. A Commerce Ministry spokesman says the country will “continue to encourage the expansion of pork imports.” Imports are up 36 percent over the first seven months of this year. China is looking at other sources for pork beside the U.S. as the trade war continues between the two largest economies in the world. Beijing has agreed to start importing pork from Argentina this year. They’re also expected to approve additional plants for export in Brazil and Great Britain. China also will release some meat from its reserves to help stabilize supplies.

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U.S. Exporters to Join McKinney on Trade Mission to Canada

Ted McKinney, USDA Under Secretary for Trade and Foreign Agricultural Affairs, will lead a trade mission to Canada September 3-6. He’ll be accompanied on the trip by 41 U.S. agribusinesses and associations who are looking to expand sales to the United States’ top agricultural export markets. “With the new U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement poised for passage in Congress, this is a great time for U.S. agricultural exporters to shore up ties with our neighbors in the north,” McKinney says. “Our two nations already enjoy the world’s largest bilateral agriculture trade relationship, with almost $120 million worth of food and farm products crossing the border every day.” McKinney says the USMCA will make this good relationship even better and they’re looking forward to meeting with current and potential customers in Toronto and Montreal. “We’ll be exploring new and expanded business opportunities while we’re there,” he adds. McKinney will be joined on the trip by officials from multiple state departments of agriculture. Other companies and organizations on the trip include the American Peanut Council, the American Sweet Potato Marketing Institute, the Food Export Association of the Midwest, and many more.

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.