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READ the NAFB’s National Ag News for Thursday, September 26th

U.S. and Japan Sign Trade Agreement

The U.S. and Japan have signed a trade agreement. President Donald Trump says the two sides have agreed to the first phase of the deal. The agreement is not finished enough to be signed, but the two sides signed a statement explaining the agreement is to be signed. Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue called the agreement a “big win” for agriculture, as the deal increases market access for farmers and ranchers to Japan. Once implemented, the agreement grants the U.S. the same level of agricultural tariffs for other nations included in the Comprehensive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership. USDA says Japan has committed to provide substantial market access to U.S. food and agricultural products by eliminating tariffs, enacting meaningful tariff reductions, or allowing a specific quantity of imports at a low duty. The agreement is expected to be approved by the Japanese Parliament later this fall. The effective date could be January 1, 2020. Japan is the third global market for U.S. agricultural exports with nearly $13 billion in exports in 2018.

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Farm Groups Welcome Japan Agreement

Agriculture groups say the intent to sign a final agreement with Japan will increase market access for U.S. farmers. The U.S. Grains Council says the first phase of the agreement signed Wednesday show that the agreement would bring commodities the organization represents largely back in line with the Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement. National Corn Growers Association President Lynn Chrisp says, “with many farmers struggling amid challenging times in agriculture, this is very welcome news.” The U.S. Meat Export Federation called the announcement “excellent news for U.S. farmers and ranchers,” noting Japan is the largest value destination for U.S. pork and beef exports, estimated at $3.7 billion last year. American Farm Bureau Federation President Zippy Duvall says the announcement is “a positive step for America’s farmers and ranchers.” Duvall says AFBF is “thankful” for the agreement, and urges “trade negotiators to achieve many more like it.” Duvall added, “The time for trade wars has come and gone,” saying farmers and ranchers “need to get back to doing what they do best,” feeding the world.

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Impeachment Inquiry Could Dampen Chances of USMCA

House Democrats seeking to impeach President Donald Trump spells trouble for the U.S.-Mexico-Canada agreement. White House officials claim the effort has “destroyed any chances of legislative progress.” Meanwhile, Iowa Republican Senator Chuck Grassley says if Democrats in the House use impeachment proceedings as a basis to not act on policy, the effort will halt progress on USMCA. Grassley says Congress “must step up and deliver” a finalized agreement for agriculture and other industries. House Agriculture Committee Chairman Collin Peterson, a Minnesota Democrat, says he believed the inquiry will be “a failed process.” Peterson worries the impeachment effort will further divide the country, “weakening our ability to act together on issues like passing USMCA.” Representative Richard Neal, a Democrat from Massachusetts who chairs the House USMCA working group, says he won’t let the impeachment process hinder progress on USCMA. However, Neal in a statement did say he “strongly backs” the call for formal impeachment by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi.

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Livestock Producers Describe Trade Headwinds to Congress

Livestock groups told the Senate Agriculture Committee they need certainty in trade. During a hearing Wednesday, groups including the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association and the National Pork Producers Council urged lawmakers to approve the U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement quickly. NCBA President Jennifer Houston says the U.S. needs to pass USMCA to “send a message to the rest of the world that the United States is open for business.” Agriculture groups focused on other trade needs, including  finalizing negotiations with Japan and China. A pork industry representative from NPPC told lawmakers the U.S. is missing out “on an unprecedented sales opportunity.” Punitive tariffs have cost U.S. producers $8 per animal, or $1 billion last year, according to the organization. Affordable pork is in short supply in China because African swine fever has ravaged the Chinese hog herd and significantly reduced the production of pork. NPPC says “we need to remove market access uncertainty and level the playing field in the world’s largest pork-consuming nation.”

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EPA Granted Waivers Against Energy Department Recommendations

The Environmental Protection Agency granted some small refinery waivers against recommendations by the Department of Energy. Reuters obtained an August 9 memo that states the EPA granted “full exemptions for those 2018 small refinery petitions where the Department of Energy recommended 50 percent relief.” The waivers allow the EPA to exempt small refineries from complying with the Renewable Fuel Standard if the refineries can prove compliance would cause economic hardship. The memo did not specify how many refineries were involved. Biofuels producers and farmers are waiting for the White House to announce a mitigation plan for the waivers. President Donald Trump has promised a “giant package” for farmers to boost the ethanol market. Many expect the plan will reallocate lost biofuels due to the waivers. The 31 small-refinery exemptions granted by the EPA for 2018 amounted to about 1.6 billion gallons taken away from ethanol and biofuel use. Ethanol plants are stopping production, claiming the waivers are eroding demand for biofuels in the United States.

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Gates Foundation Supports Small-Scale Food Producers in Climate Adaptation

The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation this week announced $790 million to help small-scale food producers adapt to climate change. The funds stem from a partnership between the foundation, the World Bank and others. The group says climate change “is already taking a severe toll on farmers, especially in developing countries.” The commitment follows the recently released report from the Global Commission on Adaptation that calls for global leadership to accelerate adaptation. The Commission finds that investing in adaptation “can yield significant economic, environmental and social benefits.” The funds will support the organization CGIAR (C-G-I-A-R) formally called the Consultative Group for International Agricultural Research. The funds will assist the organization in developing innovations that will help smallholder farmers “improve their livelihoods and build resilience in the face of climate change.” CGIAR is self-described as a global partnership that unites international organizations engaged in research for a food-secured future. The global organization was founded in 1971 as an effort to reduce poverty and hunger.

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.