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READ the NAFB’s National Ag News for Monday, September 30th

McConnell Tells Democrats “Time to Act on USMCA”

Much of Washington, D.C., is consumed with questions about Ukraine and the impeachment inquiry. However, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell publicly scolded Democrats’ handling of the U.S.-Mexico-Canada Trade Agreement. Politico says McConnell wants House Democrats to pass the North American trade agreement, noting that “the time for excuses is over.” Speaking on the Senate floor, McConnell said Democrats continued objections to the new pact are nothing more than “heel-dragging.” He says the delay is because of the House impeachment inquiry and related investigations. “Canada, Mexico, and millions of Americans are waiting for Speaker Pelosi to remember that serving the public interest requires more than just picking fights with the President,” McConnell says. His comments come after House Democrats pledged last week that the newly-launched impeachment inquiry will not affect their ability to work with the administration to negotiate changes in four key areas of the agreement with our North American trade partners. Those areas include labor, the environment, access to medicines, and enforcement.

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House Democrat says USMCA Vote Depends on Mexican Budget

Texas Democrat Henry Cuellar (KWAY-yar) says he expects Congress to vote on the U.S.-Mexico-Canada Trade Agreement in either November or December. The Hagstrom Report says that House Democrats consider that vote to be contingent on Mexico agreeing to spend more money on enforcing labor provisions in the agreement. Cuellar is one of the more vocal Democrats advocating for passing USMCA. At a recent speaking engagement, Cuellar says he’s spoken with both House Leader Nancy Pelosi and the White House about the prospects for USMCA since Pelosi announced a formal impeachment inquiry on President Donald Trump. He expects both the impeachment and USMCA approval will be kept on separate tracks. Cuellar, who has cautiously endorsed Pelosi’s impeachment inquiry, says, “The last couple of days have kind of complicated things, but we can walk and chew gum at the same time.” What House Democrats want is for Mexico to budget enough money to enforce the labor provisions in the agreement. Cuellar says U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer with doing a “very good job” on labor issues. However, the Mexican enforcement budget is still the key to getting House support.

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China’s Ag Buying Surges Ahead of Next Round of Talks With U.S.

Late last week, China said it’s already bought a considerable number of U.S. soybeans and pork as it prepares for the next round of trade talks with Washington, D.C. The Chinese Ministry of Commerce says both countries are in “close communication” ahead of the next round of talks. A ministry spokesman says as China has ramped up its purchases, the tariffs on those recent orders will be exempted. The Ministry says that “China’s stance has always been consistent and clear, hoping the U.S. will meet China halfway.” China purchased $5.9 billion in U.S. farm products in 2018. Tensions between the two largest economies in the world seem to have eased ahead of trade talks next month. President Trump granted tariff exemptions to many Chinese products, while China says it will exempt U.S. agricultural products and other goods from additional tariffs. Trump said last week that a U.S. and China trade deal could possibly arrive sooner than expected. He made those comments shortly after House Democrats announced an impeachment inquiry.

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Producers to Get “Top-Up” Payments

The U.S. Department of Agriculture says producers who are currently participating in the federal crop insurance program are in line for some extra help. Farmers who had a payable prevented planting indemnity related to flooding, excess moisture, or causes other than drought will automatically receive a “top-up” payment. Producers will get that payment from their Approved Insurance Providers starting in mid-October. Producers with Yield Protection and Revenue Protection with Harvest Price Option will get a 10 percent top-up payment. Producers with Revenue Protection will receive a 15 percent top-up. They don’t need to sign up to get the payments as all producers with a 2019 prevented planting indemnity will receive the top-up. “It was a challenging season for many of our farmers,” says USDA Undersecretary for Farm Production and Conservation Bill Northey. “We are doing everything we can to ensure that producers get the help they need.” The crop insurance industry will deliver the payments as part of the Additional Supplemental Appropriations for Disaster Relief Act of 2019. After the initial payment, additional payments will be made in the middle of each month as more prevented planting claims get processed.

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NCBA Exposes OCM/HSUS Smear Campaign

The National Cattlemen’s Beef Association says the Organization for Competitive Markets is using half-truths and smear tactics to pit beef producers against each other. They say it’s clear that the Humane Society of the U.S. has taught the OCM staff some tricks to help them tear apart the beef industry from the inside. It’s no coincidence that they’ve chosen to do so at a time when the industry is struggling with market-related challenges and producer unrest to fire their latest shots. The NCBA points out that both groups would like farmers to think that the industry is weak when in reality the demand for beef is strong. That demand has been climbing for many years in both the United States and overseas. Much of that increasing strength comes from programs that are funded by the Beef Checkoff. HSUS knows this and opposes it because they’re against the consumption of animal products. The NCBA says that’s why they’ve come together with OCM to organize and fund the ongoing smear campaign. Discrediting the beef checkoff and the work done by contracting organizations allows the Humane Society, the OCM, and R-CALF to build up their membership numbers. The NCBA says division within the beef industry serves no one but the industry’s adversaries.

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RFA Corrects EPA on Ethanol Demand

The Renewable Fuels Association sent a letter to the Environmental Protection Agency regarding its testimony before the House Committee on Science, Space, and Technology. The letter had a lot to say about the real impacts of small refinery exemptions under the Renewable Fuels Standard. The letter followed EPA assertion that there is “zero evidence” that the waivers are negatively impacting ethanol producers. “In light of our August letter and the continued evidence of deterioration in the ethanol market, we were disappointed to hear you make similar claims about the impact of the small refinery exemptions,” says RFA CEO Geoff Cooper to EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler. “Several statements made during the hearing about ethanol supply and demand are inconsistent with government data and market intelligence. I write today to challenge your statements on the impact of exemptions and provide additional information.” Wheeler told the committee that ethanol production and consumption is “on the rise.” Data from the Department of Energy and even the EPA itself tell a different story.

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.