READ the NAFB’s National Ag News for Wednesday, November 20th

Sponsored by the American Farm Bureau Federation

USMCA 2019 Deadline Nears

Fewer and fewer days remain for Congress to pass the U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement in 2019. Washington is sending mixed signals on whether the deal can be completed this year. Some lawmakers have suggested the House stay in session an extra week, adding time to the calendar to wrap up business before Christmas. Meanwhile, last week, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said a labor deal in USMCA was “imminent.” However, President Donald Trump claimed this week Pelosi was holding up the trade deal to gather more votes in favor of impeaching Trump. Representative Richard Neal, who chairs the Democrats USMCA working group, last week suggested union support was within reach, adding “we need it.” AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka met with Pelosi and other Democrats Tuesday, while also vowing during an unrelated speech to not allow Democrats to fold on core issues. Trumka stated that until USMCA includes stronger labor standards, “there is still more work to be done,” according to Reuters. Democrats leaving the meeting were skeptical that an agreement could be reached this year.

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U.S., South Korea Reach Agreement on Guaranteed Market Access for American Rice

The Trump administration Tuesday announced an agreement to allow U.S. rice more market access in South Korea. Under the agreement, Korea will provide access for 132,304 tons of U.S. rice annually, with an annual value of approximately $110 million. Korea also agreed to important disciplines to ensure transparency and predictability around the tendering and auctioning for U.S. rice. U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer says the announcement “will prove enormously beneficial for American producers.” Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue says the exports “are critical for the economic health of the U.S. rice industry,” as half of the U.S. rice crop is exported annually. Perdue called the announcement “another great testament of President Trump’s determination to expand export opportunities” for farmers and ranchers. The agreement gives the U.S. the greatest volume of guaranteed rice market access in Korea ever secured by the United States. Additionally, the agreement provides U.S. suppliers with enhanced disciplines related to the administration of the U.S. country-specific quota. The agreement will enter into force on January 1, 2020.

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Midwest lawmakers Introduce Fair Trade Legislation

A group of Senators from the Upper-Midwest Tuesday introduced a bill to crack down on trade cheating. Legislators say the Play by the Rules Act will hold China accountable for ignoring trade rules and harming American workers. U.S. anti-dumping and countervailing duty laws are designed to stop trade partners from tipping the scales in their favor and forcing American workers to compete at a disadvantage. The rules are widely used and mostly followed by World Trade Organization members. However, nonmarket economies—like China—are engaged in a sophisticated and government-backed effort to avoid paying the duties required by the rules, according to the lawmakers. The bill provides the Commerce Department additional flexibility when reviewing anti-circumvention petitions filed against nonmarket economies like China. The flexibility will allow the Commerce Department to better combat China’s attempts to cheat U.S. workers and businesses. Senate Democrats Tammy Baldwin of Wisconsin, Debbie Stabenow of Michigan, along with Senate Republicans Shelley Moore Capito of West Virginia, and Bill Cassidy of Louisiana, introduced the bipartisan legislation.

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Tyson to Reopen Kansas Beef Plant Next Month

Tyson will reopen a Kansas beef processing facility next month, following repairs prompted by an August fire that disrupted operations at the facility. This week, Tyson announced repairs at the Holcomb, Kansas facility are nearly complete, and efforts to resume beef processing are planned for the first week of December. The company expects the plant to be fully operational by the first week of January. The fire severely damaged a critical part of the plant containing the hydraulic and electrical systems that support the harvest floor and cooler areas. Reconstruction included completely replacing support beams and the roof, hydraulic piping and pumps, installing over 50,000 feet of new wiring and the reconstruction of all new electrical panel rooms and equipment. The fire disrupted cattle markets and processing as the facility reduced industry slaughter capacity by six percent. A Department of Agriculture Investigation into beef pricing practices following the fire should wrap up by the end of this year.

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USDA Begins 2019 Organic Survey

The Department of Agriculture’s National Agricultural Statistics Service will mail letters with survey codes this December to more than 22,000 organic producers. Specifically, the surveys target producers involved in certified or transitioning to certified organic farming for the 2019 Organic Survey. Each producer who self-reported organic farming in the 2017 Census of Agriculture will receive a unique survey code to respond conveniently online and to be represented in this once-every-five-year data. The 2019 Organic Survey results will expand on the 2017 Census of Agriculture data by looking at several aspects of organic agriculture during the 2019 calendar year, including production, marketing practices, income, expenses and more. Producers who receive the 2019 Organic Survey are required to respond by federal law, as this survey is part of the Census of Agriculture Program. The same federal law that requires response also requires NASS to keep all individual information confidential. The deadline for response is January 10, 2020. Results will be available in October 2020. For more information about the Organic Survey, visit www.nass.usda.gov.

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E15 Summer Sales up 46 Percent

Growth Energy recently announced that summer sales of E15 increased 46 percent in 2019, compared to 2019, on a per-store basis. E15 contains 15 percent ethanol or another renewable biofuel and is now often sold as Unleaded 88 at the pump. Growth Energy CEO Emily Skor says the “explosive growth in summer sales” demonstrates consumers “will come back again and again,” to E15, once available and they know the benefits of the fuel. She says the industry expects to see interest from retailers and consumers alike continue to grow. 2019 also saw an increase in retailers offering E15. Led by Casey’s, the retail industry added 149 stores over the summer months. The 2019 summer driving season was the first summer Unleaded 88 was sold without restriction, and the increase “underscored the fuel’s popularity with drivers” who have logged more than 11 billion miles using E15. Earlier this month, Growth Energy announced NASCAR drivers surpassed 15 million miles using E15, since launching a partnership with the ethanol industry in 2011.

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.