READ the NAFB’s National Ag News for Wednesday, January 8th

Sponsored by the American Farm Bureau Federation

Senate Finance Committee Advances USMCA

The Senate Finance Committee Tuesday approved the U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement on a 25-3 vote, setting the agreement up for a potential quick passage. Chairman Chuck Grassley, a Republican from Iowa, says the full Senate could consider the agreement within a week. However, if House Speaker Nancy Pelosi sends articles of impeachment to the Senate, that must immediately take priority and would stall USMCA until after the impeachment hearings in the Senate. Grassley told the Finance Committee the USMCA implementing legislation “has something in it for everyone, and it’s not often that we can say that about an implementing bill.” Mexico’s Senate has already approved the agreement, and Canada plans to approve USMCA following U.S. action. Ranking member of the committee, Democrat Ron Wyden of Oregon, says USMCA provides “long-overdue upgrades to labor standards, the environment and digital trade” compared with the North American Free Trade Agreement, adding the agreement also provides certainty to farmers and manufacturers.

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Farm Groups Applaud USMCA Action

Agriculture groups welcome action in the Senate to advance the U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement. Passed by the Senate Finance Committee Tuesday, American Farm Bureau Federation President Zippy Duvall says the agreement is “one step away” from completion. Duvall says passage of the agreement “will protect our valuable trade relationships with our nearest neighbors and return certainty to our markets.” The agreement is expected to increase U.S. ag exports by $2 billion and result in a $65 billion increase in gross domestic product. National Pork Producers Council President David Herring in a statement said, “We now urge Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell to schedule a vote on the floor as soon as possible.” For the U.S. pork industry, USMCA will maintain long-term, zero-duty market access to Mexico and Canada. In 2018, Canada and Mexico took over 40 percent of the pork that was exported from the United States, and a similar percentage is expected in 2019. U.S. pork exports to Canada and Mexico support 16,000 U.S. jobs

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Purdue/CME Group Ag Economy Barometer December

The December Purdue/CME Group Ag Economy Barometer suggests farmers are optimistic about the future, despite a weakened perception of current conditions. The survey dropped three points in December to a reading of 150, down from 153 in November. The Index of Current Conditions dropped 12 points to 141, down from 153 in November. Meanwhile, the Index of Future Expectations remained strong, up two points to a reading of 155. In the December survey, producers were asked whether their farm’s 2019 financial performance was better, as expected, or worse than their initial budget projections. Just over-half, 52 percent, stated that their initial projections matched their farm’s financial performance. Meanwhile, 30 percent stated it was worse, and 19 percent stated it was better than expected. The barometer is based on a mid-month survey of 400 U.S. crop and livestock producers. A reading over 100 suggests optimism, while a reading under 100 indicates pessimism amongst farmers regarding the ag economy.

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Loeffler Joins Senate Ag Committee

Newly appointed Senator Kelly Loeffler (Leff-ler), a Republican from Georgia, is replacing Georgia Republican David Perdue on the Senate Agriculture Committee. Loeffler was appointed to fill the vacancy caused by the resignation of Senator Johnny Isakson (eye-zeck-son). The Illinois native grew up on a family farm and says she “will stand with our farmers.” Loeffler is co-owner of the Atlanta Dream professional women’s basketball team, and has spent her career as a finance executive. Senate Agriculture Committee Chairman Pat Roberts of Kansas says of Loeffler, “Her farming roots make her a welcome addition to the Committee.” The 49-year-old Loeffler is recognized as the 26th woman currently serving in the Senate. The Senate seat formally occupied by Isakson will face a special election for the seat this year, which could be highly competitive. The winner of the special election will serve out the last of Isakson’s term and face reelection in two years.

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NPPC: Impossible Pork is Impossible

The National Pork Producers Council Tuesday called Impossible Foods’ naming convention for its plant-based products designed to mimic real pork a brazen violation of labeling law. Citing law that prohibits the use of words that redefine pork as consumers have known it for centuries, Dr. Dan Kovich, director of science and technology for the National Pork Producers Council, says, “What’s impossible is to make pork from plants.” NPPC supports consumer choice and competitive markets on a level playing field. Accordingly, plant-based and cell-cultured products designed to mimic real meat must face the same stringent regulatory requirements as livestock agriculture, including truthful labeling standards, according to NPPC. Kovich calls the efforts by Impossible Foods, “a brazen attempt to circumvent decades of food labeling law and centuries of precedence.” NPPC maintains “plant-based alternative protein products cannot be called pork, and cultured products cannot be called pork without qualification making it clear how they were made.”

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36th ASA Young Leader Class Kicks Off in Indianapolis

The 36th class of American Soybean Association Corteva Agriscience Young Leaders recently began its journey at the Corteva Agriscience Global Business Center in Indianapolis, Indiana. The training session was the first phase of the program designed to identify future leaders within the agriculture community and provide them with opportunities to enhance their skills and network with other farmers. A Corteva spokesperson says the program “provides participants developmental training to hone their leadership skills and strengthen the voice of agriculture.” Representatives from 19 states and the Grain Farmers of Ontario participated in the program. The attendees learned about the soy checkoff and leadership in the future. The Young Leaders also participated in leadership styles and communications training, discussed consumer trends and acceptance. Additional discussion provided updates on other soybean industry advancements. The second phase of the Young Leader program will take place February 25 – 29, 2020 in San Antonio, Texas, with training held in conjunction with the annual Commodity Classic Convention and Trade Show.

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.