READ the NAFB’s National Ag News for Thursday, October 10th

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China Talks in DC Underway

Trade talks between the U.S. and China are underway, even as the U.S. puts more pressure on China, and some say the talks may be cut short. U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo announced visa restrictions on certain Chinese officials this week, and the U.S. is expected to impose more tariffs on Chinese goods next week. The U.S. also recently blacklisted 28 Chinese tech companies, prohibiting them from exporting goods to the United States. A spokesperson for China’s Foreign Affairs Ministry says China “hopes the U.S. will meet China halfway” on the talks. Politico reports that China may cut the talks short by a day, and leave Friday, adding both sides appear to be working towards a mini trade deal. Financial Times reports China is offering to buy more U.S. agriculture products in a “goodwill” move. However, many speculate there will be little breakthrough in the talks, other than a possible delay in the U.S. tariffs planned to go into effect next week.

Voter Poll Shows Strong Support for RFS, Biodiesel Use

An annual poll of registered voters by the National Biodiesel Board shows a candidate’s support for policies to promote clean energy, including biodiesel and renewable diesel use, can influence votes. NBB CEO Donnell Rehagen stated, “Voters are consistent year-to-year in saying they support political candidates who champion federal policies to encourage development and use of cleaner fuels.” Among the respondents, nearly three-quarters, 73 percent, had previously heard some information about biodiesel. More than half, 57 percent, of all respondents agreed that federal policy should encourage use of biodiesel and renewable diesel. When asked if federal policy should support petroleum, 45 percent said “no,” while only 34 percent said “yes.” Nearly four of every five respondents expressed support for existing federal programs that encourage increased production and use of advanced biofuels, and 78 percent of respondents support the federal tax incentive for biodiesel. Finally, 79 percent of those surveyed said they support the Renewable Fuel Standard, and would encourage local communities and governments to promote use of biodiesel.

Share of Highly Leveraged Farms Forecast to Increase

The number of farm businesses that are highly leveraged has fallen since 2015, but is forecasted to increase slightly in 2019. Farm businesses accounted for more than 94 percent of U.S. farm sector production in 2017. That year, farm businesses held 90 percent of all farm assets and 96 percent of farm debt. However, the Department of Agriculture forecasts 4.3 percent of crop farm businesses to be very highly leveraged, the highest share since 2002. USDA Economic Research Service defines farm businesses as operations where farming is reported as the operator’s primary occupation or that have at least $350,000 in annual sales. Farm businesses specializing in crops tend to have higher shares of both highly and very highly leveraged operations than farm businesses specializing in livestock and animal products. Debt-to-asset ratios can indicate a farm’s risk exposure and ability to overcome adverse financial events. USDA says Lending institutions consider debt to asset ratios when evaluating credit worthiness of farms, adding highly leveraged farm businesses may have difficulty securing a loan.

Butter Institute: Congress Must Compel FDA to Uphold Butter Law

The American Butter Institute wants Congress to take action in making the Food and Drug Administration enforce laws that define butter as a dairy product. The organization sent letters to the leaders of the House Committee on Energy and Commerce and the Senate Committee on Health, urging them to compel FDA to enforce federal law against plant-based imposters that illegally misuse the term “butter” as a marketing trick. Butter’s definition has been settled law for more than a century, covered by legislation dating to 1886. Imitators made from vegetable oils have been able to use terms such as “margarine” and “spread,” ensuring a transparent marketplace. However, as butter’s popularity has grown in recent years, per-capita U.S. consumption last year reached its highest since 1968, the organization says marketing departments at brands such as Country Crock have been breaking the law by calling their products “plant-based butter.” The organization also supports the National Milk Producers Federation’s citizen seeking to address dairy imitators using dairy names.

Senators Seek Review of JBS SA Transactions

Two U.S. Senators are calling on the Treasury Department to review a 12-year history of transactions by Brazil’s JBS S.A. Democrat Bob Menendez of New Jersey, and Republican Marco Rubio of Florida penned a letter to Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin asking for the review. JBS S.A. has become increasingly active in the American food sectors, however, the company “engaged in illicit financial activities and suborned Brazilian government officials to secure the loans used for investment in the United States. In 2007, JBS S.A. established a U.S. subsidiary, JBS USA, that purchased the American beef and pork processing company Swift Foods. Through a deal in 2008, JBS USA acquired the beef processing operations of Smithfield Foods. In 2009, JBS USA obtained the majority of the poultry processing operations of Pilgrim’s Pride. Additionally, JBS USA purchased Cargill’s pork processing operations in 2015. The Senators say, “The growing trend of foreign investment in our food system demands increased attention and scrutiny in order to safeguard our nation’s food supply.”

Study Shows Limited Broadband Access in Rural America

A new study commissioned by the United Soybean Board reveals the lack of access to broadband in rural areas takes a significant toll on farmers and the economy. The study found 60 percent of U.S. farmers say they do not have enough connectivity to run their businesses. USB initiated the rural broadband study to better understand how and why farmers currently access the internet, and the implications that access. Data from the United States Department of Agriculture Economic Research Service indicates that farming contributes to nearly $133 billion of our country’s gross domestic product. Based on USB’s rural broadband survey, the lack of connectivity negatively impacts farmers responsible for $80 billion of gross domestic product. The survey also found 78 percent of farmers do not have a choice in internet service providers, and 60 percent of farmers say their service is too slow, and often rely on cell signals. Meanwhile, 40 percent of farmers say they have fixed internet connections, while others rely on satellite connections.

SOURCE: NAFB News Service


By Tucker Allmer - The BARN

Tucker 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.