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READ the NAFB’s National Ag News for Tuesday, September 24th

USMCA, China Trade Talks Advancing This Week

Trade talks continue this week between the U.S. and China as the U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement inches closer to reality. President Donald Trump says talks last week between the U.S. and China “were very positive.” Negotiations will continue this week ahead of high-level talks planned sometime next month. A Chinese delegation canceled U.S. farm visits last week, but apparently not because of the ongoing trade negotiations. Officials say the trips were canceled to avoid excessive media attention. Meanwhile, Democrats in the House of Representatives plan to submit a counterproposal to the White House this week on changes to USMCA, according to Politico. House Ways and Means Chairman Richard Neal says the USCMA working group would meet with U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer this week to “intensify the discussion.” Neal is hopeful the group and Lighthizer can “strike a deal soon,” that allows the House to vote on the agreement. Neal says the concerns raised by Democrats are not resolved but added the Trump administration has “made substantial progress.”

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U.S. Dairy: Japan Trade Agreement Could Leave Dairy Behind

Lawmakers representing dairy country say the trade agreement with Japan fails to level the playing field for U.S. dairy. Late last week, a group of lawmakers joined Representative Ron Kind, a Wisconsin Democrat, in a letter to U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer detailing the issue. The lawmakers say U.S. dairy will have “inferior access to the market compared to competitors,” like the European Union and signatories of the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership. The agreement fails to level the playing field for U.S. exports of cheese, butter, skim milk powder, ice cream and condensed milk, according to the lawmakers. The administration is required to consult with Congress when new trade agreement negotiations are happening in order to ensure any new agreement would include access for key agriculture sectors like dairy, according to the letter. However, “Those conversations never happened.”  Representative Kind adds President Donald Trump “needs to stop using our farmers as pawns and start making trade deals that empower them.”

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USCA: Successful USMCA Negotiation Will Include COOL

The U.S. Cattlemen’s Association is urging President Donald Trump to reinstate country-of-origin labeling for beef in the U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement. Though COOL failed to make it into the final text of the trade pact replacing the North American Free Trade Agreement, the organization says, “there is still an opportunity to address the unfair treatment of cattle and beef in this trade agreement.” The association sent the request to President Trump in a letter, stating, “The impact of a poor cattle market and decreasing live cattle prices coincide with the continued decline in America’s rural economy and the rising income disparity between rural and urban residents.” USCA President Kenny Graner states, “We respectfully request the inclusion of a country-of-origin labeling program for U.S. beef products within the context of USMCA.” The letter continues to say USMCA without COOL “deprives U.S. Cattle producers of the ability to differentiate their product in the market.” The letter follows a similar effort in early July by a coalition of freshman House members.

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Senate Democrats: Withdraw SNAP Proposal Eliminating Categorical Eligibility

A letter from 15 senators urges Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue to withdraw a proposal they say would take food assistance away from millions of families. The proposal would eliminate categorical eligibility under the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program. The 15 Democrats, including Debbie Stabenow of Michigan, say the rule would impact the “most vulnerable populations” in the U.S., including 13 percent of seniors currently receiving SNAP benefits. According to an analysis by Mathematica, at least 3.6 million SNAP participants will lose benefits as a result of the proposed rule. In the 2018 farm bill, the letter says Congress deliberately chose to exclude any changes to categorical eligibility due to the “devastating impact on families.” Additionally, the Senators raised concerns that the administration failed to conduct an accurate regulatory impact assessment. In a briefing to Congressional staff, USDA acknowledged that, at a minimum, 500,000 children would lose access to school meals. However, these impacts, among others, are not included in the required analysis.

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Plant-Based Protein Market Projected at $40 billion in 2025

A market research study claims the plant-based protein market will be worth an estimated $40 billion by 2025. The report, published by MarketsandMarkets, says the sector is driven by the rising demand for so-called plant-based meat and healthy food products. Currently, the plant-based protein market is estimated at $18.5 billion. The $40 billion projection would represent a 14 percent growth rate. Researchers say public awareness regarding the increase in obesity levels due to unhealthy food consumption that includes packaged food, fast food, carbonated beverages, cold drinks, and excess consumption of animal meat has led to the demand for plant-based protein products. A significant increase in the usage of peas as a key ingredient is being noticed in the plant-based industry. The pea segment is projected to be the fastest-growing in the plant-based protein market during the forecast period. Pea protein is gaining popularity among plant-based protein manufacturers at a global level owing to its high protein content, and health benefits offered such as reduced cholesterol and lower blood pressure.

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USDA Invests in Water and Wastewater Infrastructure Improvements in 25 States

The Department of Agriculture Monday announced $144 million in rural water infrastructure improvements. USDA Rural Development provides loans and grants to help expand economic opportunities and create jobs in rural areas. Through the effort announced Monday, USDA will fund water projects in 25 states through 45 projects. The funds are authorized through the Water and Waste Disposal Loan and Grant program eligible applicants include rural cities and towns, and water districts. They can use the funds for drinking water, stormwater drainage and waste disposal systems in rural communities with 10,000 or fewer residents. Deputy undersecretary of rural development Donald LaVoy says “modern and reliable water and wastewater infrastructure systems are foundational to economic growth and quality of life in rural communities.” One of the projects, $8.8 million for Winfield, West Virginia, will upgrade its wastewater treatment plant. USDA had $2.9 billion available for Water and Environmental Program loans and grants at the beginning of fiscal year 2019. For more information and a list of funded projects, visit www.rd.usda.gov.

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.