READ the NAFB’s National Ag News for Monday, November 11th – Veterans Day

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Perdue Hoping Trade Aid Payments Unnecessary in 2020

Ag Secretary Sonny Perdue is hoping that a third round of trade aid payments to farmers will be unnecessary in 2020 because of a new trade deal with China. The Hagstrom Report says Perdue spoke with reporters last week shortly after returning from a “successful” trade mission to Mexico. Farmers “would rather have trade than aid,” Perdue says. At the same time, he did say the second round of 2019 trade aid is approved and will be heading to farmers soon. “We have just gotten authorization on the second tranche,” he said. “I expect payments to be out to farmers by late November or early December.” The U.S.-Mexico-Canada Trade Agreement was one of the big topics of conversation on the trip to Mexico. Perdue says Mexican officials are hoping Congress will sign off on the agreement as soon as possible. “They’ve done their work, as you know, and they’re anxious for us to complete our task as well,” Perdue says. Immigration was another topic of conversation with Mexican officials. Perdue is hopeful that the Mexican government will begin a program to “pre-certify” workers southeast Mexico for the H-2A Program. Southeast Mexico is one of the most poverty-stricken areas of the country.

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House Ag Chair Undecided About Another Congressional Run

Speculation seems to be swirling about whether or not House Ag Committee Chair Collin Peterson will be running for office again. Politico says the Democrat from Minnesota is thinking “long and hard” about whether or not he wants to help put together another farm bill. Peterson is confident he would win another term if he decides to run. However, he’s trying to decide whether he wants to stick it out for another cycle of putting together another farm bill. The current farm bill expires in 2023, but discussions begin several years ahead of that. “It’s getting harder every time to do a farm bill,” Peterson says. “It’s a big commitment. So that’s what my main thing is, do I want to do that? If I do, then I’d feel like I have a responsibility to see it through.” The ag chair wouldn’t give a yes or no answer to the question of whether he’ll run again. Peterson says he’ll make a public announcement in either January or February of next year, as he’s done in the past. Republicans point out that Peterson recently sold his condo in D.C., saying that’s a sign he’s not running again. Peterson said he did that to gain additional capital for his Minnesota farm.  

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Peterson: USMCA Vote Possible this Week or Next

The House of Representatives could vote on the U.S.-Mexico-Canada trade agreement as early as this week or the next. Farm Journal’s Ag Web Dot Com says Peterson appeared on the “D.C. Signal to Noise Podcast” recently and said Speaker Nancy Pelosi wants to get USMCA approval “on the fast track.” Peterson says USMCA Working Group Chair Richard Neal of Massachusetts told him that Neal will try to move the legislation forward either this week or the next. “He’s pushing hard,” Peterson says. “It’s going to get done. The question is whether it will be done during the next two weeks or sometime in December?” While on a caucus conference call last week, Peterson says Pelosi talked about the push to pass USMCA. “She wouldn’t be doing that if she didn’t want this to get done,” Peterson explained. “So, this is going to get done.” The USMCA Working Group has been meeting regularly with U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer to negotiate the changes needed to get votes from both sides of the political fence. The House Ag Chair says he anticipates that work will clear the way for rapid approval from all three countries.

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China’s Demand for U.S. Pork Continuing to Grow Despite Tariffs

The USDA recently raised its pork export forecast for both 2019 and 2020. The predicted rise is due in large part to the significant growth in Chinese demand for more U.S. pork. China’s growing demand for pork imports is a direct result of the African Swine Fever outbreak that spread throughout the country in 2018 and continued into this year. As of September, China’s pork inventory was down 41 percent from the previous year. Many farmers slaughtered their animals to prevent herds from becoming infected. By October, Chinese hog and pork prices had doubled compared to a year earlier, as pork supplies quickly grew tighter. To help fill the gap between supply and demand, China turned to more imports from the U.S. and 10 other countries. Despite retaliatory tariffs of up to 78 percent implemented on U.S. pork products, 2019 U.S. exports of pork to China have increased 91 percent through August. Total U.S. pork exports in 2019 are now forecast at 6.85 billion pounds, 12 percent higher than last year. In 2020, USDA is forecasting total U.S. pork exports of 7.3 billion pounds, an 11 percent jump over this year.

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September Beef Exports Steady; Pork Higher but Pace Slowing

September exports of U.S. beef were steady with last year’s volume, but the export value was trending lower. That’s according to USDA data compiled by the U.S. Meat Export Federation. Pork exports were above last year’s levels in September but had pulled back from the larger totals in June, July, and August. September beef exports were just shy of 109,800 metric tons, basically even with 2018, and down four percent in value to $661 million. Through the first three quarters of this year, beef exports were two percent below last year’s record pace in both volume and value. September pork exports increased 13 percent from a year ago in volume, totaling 202,248 metric tons, and valued at $532 million. Those numbers pushed the January through September export volume five percent ahead of last year’s pace at 1.9 million metric tons. The retail value of exports to date two percent higher at $4.89 billion. Beef exports to Japan are still struggling with the tariff rate gap between U.S. beef and the competition. However, beef exports to South Korea continue to build on a strong performance last year. Pork exports to Mexico have rebounded significantly since Mexico removed its 20 percent retaliatory duty on U.S. pork in late May.

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Hemp Federation of America Flying into Washington, D.C.

The brand-new Hemp Federation of America is planning its first-ever fly-in to Washington, D.C., this week. The fly-in is happening at the same time that Reuters is reporting farmers are having a difficult time finding markets for this year’s hemp crop. Oklahoma farmer Will Wheeler is the board chair for the federation. He says an industry with a domestic market estimated at $800 million to $2 billion every year needs to have its trade association in Washington. “There’s no question that a viable crop like this has hundreds and even thousands of uses,” Wheeler says. “But, we have to get this right. That’s why we formed the Hemp Federation of America, so farmers can be a part of shaping the legislation that regulates industrial hemp, thanks to our presence in Washington.” Scott Graves is the HFA’s executive director, who says, “There is a tremendous amount of work ahead with Congress and the administration to put together a regulatory framework that makes sense. That’s how we’re going to help grow the market for American farmers and businesses.” Federation priorities include educating lawmakers and others on how to tell the difference between hemp and cannabis.

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.