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READ the NAFB’s National Ag News for Monday, September 23rd

House Passes Continuing Resolution That Allows Aid Payments to Farmers

On a bipartisan vote of 301 to 123, the House passed a continuing resolution that funds the government through November 21. The resolution includes a provision that will allow the Ag Department’s Commodity Credit Corporation to continue to make aid payments to farmers. That includes Market Facilitation Payments to help make up for export sales lost in recent trade wars. The Hagstrom Report says House leadership and USDA officials negotiated a provision that requires the Ag Department to report to Congress on the trade aid program. The bill goes to the Senate and is expected to be passed quickly. It then moves to President Trump’s desk for his signature. House Appropriations Chair Nita Lowey had initially left the CCC provision out of the bill but put it back in after getting pressure from both Republicans and Democrats. House Ag Committee Chair Collin Peterson is happy the assistance is continuing. “The call for more transparency in this program is a good one,” he says. “I appreciate USDA’s willingness to ensure that help gets out the door on time to the farmers who need it. At the same time, it allows taxpayers to see where the funds are going.”

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Chinese Delegation Visits U.S. Farms as Trade Talks Continue

A Chinese delegation is scheduled to visit rural America this week. Reuters says it’s an effort to build goodwill while the trade negotiations with the U.S. continue. “They want to see U.S. production agriculture,” says Ag Secretary Sonny Perdue. “I think they want to build goodwill.” He tells Reuters that he’s not sure of the specific areas the delegation will travel to. CNBC had reported the delegation will be visiting with ag producers in Bozeman, Montana, and Omaha, Nebraska. The current round of negotiations between the U.S. and China are expected to focus heavily on agriculture. The tensions between the world’s two largest economies have upended supply chains around the world and have put a dent in economic growth across the globe. However, recent actions between the two countries are showing that the dispute may be easing somewhat. President Trump recently delayed a tariff hike on more Chinese goods, while China also postponed tariffs on U.S. cancer drugs, lubricants, and animal feed ingredients.

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U.S. and Mexico Avoid Anti-Dumping Dispute on Tomatoes

Mexican tomato growers have signed a deal to raise the prices of the tomatoes they sell in the U.S. market. Politico says that ends a threat from Washington, D.C., to slap a 25-percent anti-dumping tariff on tomato imports. Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross says the deal will protect U.S. growers from unfair trade practices. However, not all domestic importers were happy with the final agreement. They say the pact doesn’t include border inspection waivers for individual shipments if USDA can’t complete an inspection within a day. Lance Jungmeyer is president of the Fresh Produce Association of the Americas, who says the tomato deal is a step backward. “USDA has assured us the inspections can be done within 24 hours,” he says. “If that’s really the case, then there shouldn’t be a problem including language for a waiver if a deadline can’t be met occasionally.” The new deal will likely end the 17.5 percent duty that importers have paid since early May on Mexican tomato imports. The agreement also suspends the dumping investigation of Mexican tomatoes into the U.S.

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China, Russia Agree to Double Their Trade in Five Years to $200 billion

China and Russia recently wrapped up three days of talks with an agreement to double their trade in five years. The two nations set a goal of increasing their trade to $200 billion in the next half-decade. Business Times says the two nations will work together to remove tariff and regulatory barriers to the exchange and trading of various goods. China and Russia will work to improve the flow of agricultural, industrial, and technological products and services. Soybeans were a big topic of conversation between the Chinese Premier and Russian President Putin. Soybeans have become a major issue for China during its trade dispute with the U.S. Industry experts have said that China will get a good number of soybeans from Russia, which still won’t be able to replace the U.S. as China’s main supplier. While Russia doesn’t produce nearly the number of soybeans as the U.S., it is planning to increase soybean production in eastern parts of the country to help increase exports to China.

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Labor Department to Modernize H-2A Requirements

Ag Secretary Sonny Perdue spoke positively about changes the Department of Labor will make to modernize the H-2A process. The Labor Department published a final, common-sense rule that becomes effective October 21, and eliminates the requirement to advertise job openings in local newspapers. Instead, it shifts the advertising to the Department of Labor and State Workforce Agency websites, which reach farther and are more cost-effective. The DOL’s Office of Foreign Labor Certification announced updates to the H-2A forms and online filing process for the H-2A temporary agricultural programs. Perdue says the two actions will ease regulatory burdens on U.S. farmers and ranchers, making it easier for them to follow the law and hire farmworkers through the program. “Both of these changes are absolutely critical and needed to improve the H-2A application process,” Perdue says. “By bringing these processes into the 21st century, it allows farmers to be able to better and more cost-effectively advertise for the workers they need and fill out the required forms faster and more efficiently.” He adds that no one should have to hire a lawyer just to hire a farmworker. The DOL’s final rule is designed to reduce burdens on American farmers and ranchers.

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Taiwan Trade Mission Signs Letter of Intent to Purchase U.S. Wheat

Representatives from the Taiwan Flour Millers Association signed letters of intent to purchase wheat and other U.S.-grown commodities over the next two years. The millers, who signed the letters last week in Washington, D.C., are part of a biennial Taiwan Agricultural Trade Goodwill Mission. The wheat delegation first made stops in Oregon, Seattle, and Idaho before making the trip to D.C. The letter states that the Taiwan Flour Millers Association intends to purchase a total of 1.8 million metric tons, or about 66.1 million bushels of U.S. wheat between 2020 and 2021. The value of those purchases will be about $576 million. U.S. Wheat Associates President Vince Peterson says, “We’ve long had a mutually beneficial trade relationship with Taiwan’s milling and flour products industry. U.S. wheat farmers pioneered the market more than 60 years ago by meeting with members of the developing flour milling industry.” He says the members of the Taiwan Flour Millers continue to be reliable trading partners that fully recognize the value of purchasing quality U.S. grown wheat.

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.