READ the NAFB’s National Ag News for Thursday, December 19th

Sponsored by the American Farm Bureau Federation

Republicans, Democrats Battle to Claim Credit for Final Version of USMCA

While the U.S-Mexico-Canada Trade Agreement is set for a vote in the House on Thursday, Republicans and Democrats both claimed credit for the final version of the pact on Wednesday. Agri-Pulse says Republican lawmakers piled their praise upon President Trump for demanding that the North American Free Trade Agreement be renegotiated. However, Democrats say the changes they demanded were what made the agreement work. During the early days of negotiations, Democrats said they wouldn’t support the agreement unless it discouraged U.S. companies from relocating to Mexico. “The Trump Administration’s initial agreement fell short, but House Democrats fought hard for greater accountability in the final draft,” says California Representative Linda Sanchez. Republican Kevin Brady of Texas says, “President Trump and Ambassador Lighthizer delivered on their promise for a pro-growth and modern trade pact. We now have a trade deal that will deliver historic wins for our economy.” Democrats say the new measures in the USMCA will allow for unions nationwide in Mexico and will eventually push wages higher within that country. Republicans point out that it’s been over a year since the new agreement was signed, saying Democrats’ obsession with impeachment has kept a vital agreement from getting approved.

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China Appears Set to Buy U.S. Ethanol

Some details are starting to emerge on how China would increase imports from the U.S. by as much as $200 billion over the next two years. That would meet its commitments under the phase one trade deal announced last week. Bloomberg says the still-unsigned deal includes Chinese purchase levels of $40 to $50 billion in U.S. ag commodities, a level which many experts think isn’t reachable. To help get closer to that figure, sources close to the matter tell Bloomberg that Beijing plans to restart purchases of ethanol by lifting or waiving trade war tariffs on the fuel. China is also considering taking U.S. trade from Hong Kong into its mainland ports, which would enable about $10 billion a year in U.S. goods to go directly to the mainland, which would boost the tally. The U.S. doesn’t count the shipments that go through Hong Kong as a part of its trade with China. China will also grant more regular waivers on retaliatory tariffs to local buyers of U.S. farm products like soybeans and pork. Back in November, China had lifted its ban on U.S. poultry shipments as a part of trade negotiations. U.S. officials estimate poultry exports will top $1 billion a year.

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ASF Makes First Appearance in Indonesia; Growing Outbreak in Poland

The African Swine Fever virus continues its relentless march across Asia. Indonesia’s Minister of Agriculture confirms the country’s first outbreak of the virus in the far northwest part of the multi-island nation. The confirmation came on December 12 and wasn’t unexpected as increasing reports of pig deaths have come from that area, as well as several others, since late September. The United Nation’s Food and Agriculture Organization is working with Indonesia’s director-general of Livestock and Animal Health Services. The nation’s animal health director asked the FAO to provide guidance on containment and control measures for the virus. Indonesia joins an unfortunate list of Asian countries with ASF outbreaks. In a different part of the world, a pocket of the African Swine Fever virus in Poland is continuing to grow near the border with Germany throughout the past month. Even though the outbreak is 30 miles from Germany, which is the European Union’s top pork producer, the European Commission has extended Poland’s ASF control zone to the German border. For German hog producers, the increasing number of positive ASF reports is very bad news. Some German producers and officials are asking Poland to construct a border-type wall to keep infected wild pigs from entering into Germany.

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Farm Groups Want Crop Insurance Protected in Fiscal 2021 Budget

The Crop Insurance Coalition is asking Ag Secretary Sonny Perdue and the Office of Management and Budget to oppose crop insurance cuts as the Trump Administration develops its fiscal year 2021 budget. The Hagstrom Report says the coalition sent a letter to President Trump and OMB Acting Director Russel Vought (Vote), saying, “For good reason, the state of the agricultural economy has been the subject of numerous hearings, reports, and media coverage. Cash crop receipts have dropped more than $34 billion since 2012.” They point out that despite a recent bump in net farm income this year, net farm income is still down $44 billion from 2013 in inflation-adjusted dollars. Multiple hardships have taken a big toll on farm families all over the country, with farm bankruptcies up 24 percent from last year. “Given the state of the ag economy,” the coalition writes, “now is not the time to make cuts to crop insurance, a program that farmers have described over and over as a linchpin of the farm safety net.” It provides predictable, on-budget assistance to farmers in a way that helps lenders continue to support American farmers and ranchers. The Crop Insurance Coalition Is made up of 57 national farm, lending, ag input, conservation, and insurance organizations.

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NPPC Applauds Funding for Ag Inspectors

The House of Representatives approved $19.6 million in funds for more agricultural inspectors at U.S. land, air, and seaports. The main goal is to keep African Swine Fever and other foreign animal diseases from getting into the United States. The funding is a part of the fiscal year 2020 Department of Homeland Security appropriations bill and a top priority for the National Pork Producers Council. “For more than a year, the NPPC has advocated for an increase in the number of agricultural inspectors at our borders,” says NPPC President David Herring. “We applaud the approval of an essential provision to reduce the risk of ASF and other diseases, as well as to protect the rural economy from a devastating outbreak.” The NPPC also says they would also like to thank USDA and Customs and Border Protection for all they have done to strengthen U.S. biosecurity. The most likely path for a foreign animal disease to enter the country would be through the importation of infected animals or contaminated products. An outbreak would immediately close U.S. pork export markets, causing significant economic harm to U.S. farmers, consumers, and the overall economy. Herring adds, “NPPC continues to advocate for other disease preparedness measures, including establishing a U.S. Foot-and-Mouth Disease vaccine bank as provided for in the 2018 Farm Bill.”

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Farmers Launch U.S. Hemp Growers Association

The formation of the new U.S. Hemp Growers Association was announced in Indianapolis. The brand-new association will focus on things like educational efforts and market development resources, research, and networking opportunities. A USHGA release says the organization will provide a unified voice for farmers to actively engage in critically important advocacy efforts. More than 300 members of the U.S. Hemp Farming Alliance will fold into the new USHGA. Caryn Wilcox will serve as the initial executive director of the organization. A majority of the organization’s board of directors is expected to be active hemp farmers. “The forward-thinking industry leaders who’ve come together in this association see the potential for hemp as an agricultural commodity,” Wilcox says. “They also understand how much this industry can contribute to the environment and the sustainable products that benefit farmers and consumers at the grassroots level.” Wilcox also says she’s honored to be part of this historical moment.

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.