READ the NAFB’s National Ag News for Tuesday, January 7th

Sponsored by the American Farm Bureau Federation

USMCA Senate Passage Possible This Week

The Senate could pass the U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement by the end of this week. A Trump administration official told reporters over the weekend the agreement could clear the Senate by Thursday or Friday. The Senate Finance Committee scheduled a markup the agreement Tuesday (today), and the Senate could schedule a floor vote following the hearing. White House trade adviser Peter Navarro says fast track trade legislation requires a minimum wait of 20 hours after a committee markup before a vote. The timeline differs from what was offered by Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell following House passage of the agreement. At the time, McConnell said USMCA would follow impeachment hearings in the Senate towards the end of this month. However, the impeachment trial won’t begin this week in the Senate. The House passed the trade deal following a year-long negotiation between the Trump Administration and House Democrats seeking changes to the agreement.

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Chinese Officials to Travel to Washington to Sign Phase One Deal

A Chinese delegation will travel to Washington, D.C. next week to join President Donald Trump in signing the phase one trade agreement between the two nations. The South China Morning Post reports China’s trade delegation plans to travel to the U.S. on January 13, two days before President Trump plans to sign the accord. China and the White House both have yet to officially announce the visit and the officials included in the delegation. However, Chinese Vice Premier Liu (Lou) He will lead the group to Washington. The signing of the deal will mean increased agricultural purchases by China, as well as a partial end to the trade war that’s dominated headlines for the past 18 months. China’s soybean imports from the U.S. recently hit a 20-month high at 2.6 million tons, the highest number since March of 2018, when the trade war between the world’s largest economies began to pick up steam.

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USDA Seeks Input on Agricultural Conservation Easement Program Rule

The Department of Agriculture’s Natural Resources Conservation Service seeks public comments on its interim rule for the Agricultural Conservation Easement Program, known as ACEP. The rule is considered USDA’s premier conservation easement program, helping landowners protect working agricultural lands and wetlands. The rule – now available on the Federal Register – takes effect on publication and includes changes to the program prescribed by the 2018 Farm Bill. NRCS Chief Matthew Lohr says the changes to the program “make it stronger and more effective and will result in even better protection of our nation’s farmlands, grasslands and wetlands.” Changes to ACEP for agricultural land easements include USDA authorizing assistance to partners who pursue “Buy-Protect-Sell” transactions. Additionally, the new rule requires a conservation plan for highly erodible land that will be protected by an agricultural land easement. Changes to wetland reserve easements will identify water quality as a program purpose for enrollment of wetland reserve easements and expand wetland types eligible for restoration and management under wetland reserve easements.

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NASDA: Policy Dominates 2020 Priorities

Policy issues top the priority list for the National Association of State Departments of Agriculture in 2020. The NASDA board of directors identified several policy issues to tackle this year, focusing most  efforts on international trade, workforce development, food safety and hemp production. NASDA is urging lawmakers in the Senate to quickly pass the U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement, which could happen this week. The organization also seeks full funding to implement the Food Safety Modernization Act and pledges to work with the Food and Drug Administration and states to effectively implement the Act. However, hemp may be the top priority for NASDA in 2020. Before harvest comes and the Department of Agriculture interim rule goes final, many questions and details remain to be navigated. NASDA is working with USDA to “provide a clear pathway for U. S. hemp growers.” NASDA CEO Barb Glenn says, “it’s imperative that FDA establishes consistent CBD regulations to ensure the crop has a stable market and consumers are safe.”

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2020 Fuel Outlook: Lower National Average Prices

National average fuel prices for both gasoline and diesel in 2020 are expected slightly lower than 2019, but with several uncertainties. Gas Buddy’s 2020 Fuel Outlook predicts 2020 will feature a yearly national average of $2.60 per gallon, representing a two-cent drop versus 2019. The report predicts the 2020 national average diesel price at $3.03 a gallon. However, the report notes prices are largely season and location-driven, noting that refinery maintenance, seasonable blend switches, and environmental regulations all impact price. Further, the report suggests that with the U.S. entering an election year in 2020, the most likely scenario will be for President Donald Trump to shore up the U.S. economy ahead of the election to increase his chances of being re-elected. Researchers say such a move may contribute to a more reliable period of growth and rise in oil demand, met by increasing global oil production, even against OPEC’s production curb through March.

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Coca-Cola Company Purchases all Shares of fairlife Milk Brand

The Coca-Cola Company announced the acquisition of all shares of fairlife LLC. Coca-Cola Company takes 100 percent control of fairlife after previously owning a minority stake of 42.5 percent of the company. Financial terms of the transaction were not disclosed. Launched in 2012, fairlife LLC started with a high-protein milkshake called Core Power and has grown to offer a broad portfolio of products in the fast-growing value-added dairy category in North America. Coca-Cola says fairlife will continue to operate as a stand-alone business based in Chicago. Value-added dairy products have been growing steadily in the United States, in contrast to the traditional fluid milk category, with fairlife milk products playing a significant role in that growth. The brand also has been supported by the reach of Coca-Cola’s U.S. system with products distributed both through the Minute Maid distribution system, as well as by Coca-Cola bottlers across the country. 2018, fairlife also launched in Canada and will begin local production and sourcing in Ontario in spring 2020.

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.