READ the NAFB’s National Ag News for Friday, January 17th

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Senate Passes USMCA

The Senate Thursday morning passed the U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement, sending it to President Donald Trump’s desk. The Senate vote, 89-10, moves the agreement ahead of the impeachment trial in the Senate. President Trump is expected to sign the agreement sometime next week during a formal ceremony, perhaps while the impeachment trial is underway. House Democrats took more than a year to make changes to the original agreement negotiated by the Trump administration. For agriculture, USMCA is expected to increase U.S. exports by $2 billion. The vote comes just one day after the United States signed a new trade agreement with China, which promises to increase agricultural exports overseas by tens of billions of dollars. On Twitter, President Trump proclaimed, “The farmers are really happy with the new China trade deal and the soon to be signed deal with Mexico and Canada.” The President said he hopes farmers remember he used tariff funds to “help them get through the tough times.” 

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Agriculture Reacts to USMCA Senate Passage

Agriculture organizations offered applause to lawmakers in the Senate who overwhelming supported approval of the U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement Thursday. National Corn Growers Association President Kevin Ross says the vote ensures “corn farmers will continue to have access to our largest and most reliable markets.” Mexico is a top destination for U.S. corn. Meanwhile, Bill Gordon of the American Soybean Association says the vote “means we can start 2020 on a more positive note.” Mexico is the number two market for whole beans, meal and oil, and Canada is a top ten buyer of meal and oil. U.S. Meat Export Federation CEO Dan Halstrom says the vote “bolsters our position as a reliable supplier to two leading markets that account for about one-third of all U.S. red meat exports.” Meat shipments to Mexico and Canada in 2019 totaled about 1.25 million metric tons valued at $3.8 billion. Finally, American Farm Bureau Federation President Zippy Duvall says USMCA “comes at a critical time for farmers and ranchers, increasing optimism that we’ll turn the corner in 2020.”

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Secretary Perdue Statement on Senate Passage of USMCA

Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue says of the U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement, farmers “are eager to see the President sign this legislation and begin reaping the benefits.” Canada and Mexico are the first and second-largest export markets for United States agricultural products, totaling more than $39.7 billion in food and agricultural exports in 2018. Under the agreement, all food and agricultural products that have zero tariffs under the North American Free Trade Agreement will remain at zero tariffs. Since the original NAFTA did not eliminate all tariffs on agricultural trade between the United States and Canada, the USMCA will create new market access opportunities for United States exports to Canada of dairy, poultry, and eggs, and in exchange, the United States will provide new access to Canada for some dairy, peanut, and a limited amount of sugar and sugar-containing products. The agreement specifically addresses agricultural biotechnology, including new technologies such as gene editing, to support innovation and reduce trade-distorting policies, and the agreement institutes a more rigorous process for establishing geographical indicators.

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USDA Reminds Producers to Pay Their Crop Insurance Premiums by January 31

The Department of Agriculture’s Risk Management Agency is reminding producers that their crop insurance premiums for the 2019 crop year are due January 31. Policies that do not have the premium paid by January 31, 2020, will have interest attach on February 1, calculated from the date of the premium billing notice. USDA had deferred to January 31, 2020, the accrual of interest on 2019 crop year insurance premiums for most policies with a premium billing date of August 15, 2019, to help the large number of farmers and ranchers affected by extreme weather and other challenges in 2019. RMA Administrator Martin Barbre says, “We urge producers to make their premium payment on time to ensure they don’t get charged interest back to their premium billing notice date.”  Producers are encouraged to contact their crop insurance agents for more information or assistance.

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USDA Seeks Input on New Ethanol Sales Infrastructure Incentive Program

The Department of Agriculture announced Thursday it is seeking public input to help with the creation of the Higher Blends Infrastructure Incentive Program. The new program, according to USDA, will expand the availability of domestic ethanol and biodiesel by incentivizing the expansion of sales of renewable fuels. Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue says, “USDA remains committed to fulfilling a key promise to American farmers to enhance the promotion of biofuels.” The request for information solicits ideas on options for fuel ethanol and biodiesel infrastructure, innovation, products, technology, and data derived from all program processes, or science, that drives economic growth, promotes health, and increases public benefit. Growth Energy CEO Emily Skor welcomed the request, saying, “Smart infrastructure investments will support rural jobs and allow more drivers across the nation to take advantage of the administration’s move to unleash sales of E15 year-round.” Working with Prime the Pump, Growth Energy has doubled the number of E15 stations five years in a row to include more than 2,000 stations across 30 states.

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Mexico Strikes Down Nationwide E10

Mexico’s Supreme Court this week ruled against a federal policy that would allow for higher ethanol blends nationwide. Mexico’s Energy Commission sought a rule that would allow up to ten percent ethanol in gasoline nationwide, excluding the country’s three biggest cities. The pre-existing fuel rule allows a maximum 5.8 percent ethanol content, according to Reuters. The court called for more science-based evaluation of higher-ethanol fuels. Kenneth Smith, a former Mexican trade negotiator, told Reuters Mexico should try again to craft a nationwide ten percent ethanol rule, calling it a “win-win” for Mexico. In a statement, the Mexican Association for Sustainable Mobility, an ethanol backing group, says, “Ethanol is part of the solution to reduce dependence on fossil fuels, use renewable energy, lower gasoline prices, create domestic jobs, boost the agricultural economy and improve the environment, it said.

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.