READ the NAFB’s National Ag News for Tuesday, February 11th

Sponsored by the American Farm Bureau Federation

China says it Will Meet Purchase Agreement Goals

A Bloomberg article last week reported that Chinese President Xi (Zhee) Jinping made a phone call to U.S. President Trump to reassure him China will meet its goals in the Phase One trade agreement. White House Economic Adviser Larry Kudrow told Bloomberg that the Chinese government intends to live up to the agreement in spite of the impact of the Coronavirus on the country’s economy and people. “XI apparently said it may be a little slower to purchase American exports, but it will get done by the end of this year and next year,” Kudlow told Bloomberg Television last Friday. “Xi admitted there may be some delays in purchases of American imports but reiterated that they would hit the goal of $200 billion over the next couple of years.” The virus outbreak has claimed hundreds of lives and impacted the Chinese economy, where reports of rapidly rising food prices continue to make headlines. Meanwhile, the reaction to the U.S.-China trade deal has been hard to gauge, mostly because of the lack of specific numbers in the deal regarding how many soybeans China intends to source from the U.S. Plus, China will struggle with its demand for soybeans because of the impact of the African Swine Fever outbreak that killed a large number of hogs.

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Trump Budget Proposal Cuts Ag Spending

The president rolled out the final budget request for his first term in office. Like all of the previous budget ideas, Politico says the bulk of Trump’s fiscal 2021 spending plans are heading straight for the congressional paper shredder. Among the many ideas lawmakers are likely to say no to are the White House calls for SNAP cuts, as well as cuts to Medicaid and other safety-net programs. That’s a big piece of the Trump effort to lower federal spending by $4.4 trillion over the next ten years. And yes, the cuts do include the Ag Department. Trump would trim the USDA discretionary budget by more than eight percent from its current levels. That would take it from $23.8 billion this year down to $21.8 billion next year. The Trump budget would propose $57.7 billion in mandatory cuts to agricultural spending by 2030, including lowering crop insurance subsidies, tightening eligibility for farm payments, and by slashing spending on conservation programs. Politico points out that like virtually all other budget proposals from previous presidents, this one has no chance of ever going into effect.

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Army Corps Proposes a Flooding Study on the Missouri River

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers is proposing to conduct a long-term study of flood risk in the lower Missouri River basin. The idea comes after the Corps received many formal letters of intent from officials in states along the river who intend to help partially fund what would be about a $400,000 project. A DTN story says landowners across the basin watched helplessly as their livelihoods were washed away in last spring’s intense weather. People living in the lower Missouri River basin continued to see high water levels long after the floodwaters had receded. The lower basin consists of a 735-mile expanse, where flooding has been a significant problem for years. The Corps says it has submitted a budget request for the flood risk management study for the fiscal year 2020 and is now awaiting funding approval. The study would be a place to start in developing plans along the lower Missouri River corridor to improve flood protection and include recommendations for actions at specific problem areas. The governors of Nebraska, Iowa, Missouri, and Kansas all signed a memorandum of agreement to pool state resources to help address continuing flood concerns. In total, the flooding disaster in 2019 caused billions of dollars in damages across the lower Missouri River basin.

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Vision 2020 Focuses on Growing Ethanol Demand at Home and Overseas

The Growth Energy Executive Leadership Conference set forth its Vision 2020 goals last week. Vision 2020 includes growing demand for the ethanol industry domestically with E15 or higher ethanol blends, as well as expanding markets internationally. National Corn Growers Association President Kevin Ross took part in a stage discussion at the event. Ross told the crowd, “The farmers’ voice is so important in Washington, D.C. We are a grassroots organization and our partnerships with industry groups that have similar goals, such as Growth Energy, will help us continue to grow the E15 market and add higher blends of ethanol.” Growth Energy CEO Emily Skor says E15 ethanol will pave the way forward for even higher blends. But she also points out that the industry will only get to higher ethanol blends by “showing that E15 isn’t a niche fuel, but instead is the preferred, regular fuel that consumers use every time they go to the pumps.” The ethanol industry currently has more than 2,000 locations up and running in 30 states. During the first summer without RVP limits, ethanol sales jumped 46 percent compared to the previous year on a per-store basis. Skor adds, “With year-round E15 secured, we’re moving into an exciting new phase of expansion.”

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Illegal Pesticide Trade Growing Overseas

A Washington Post report says the trafficking of illegal pesticides has grown significantly in overseas countries like Brazil. While the product doesn’t sound extravagant, it’s quickly growing into one of the more lucrative criminal enterprises in the world. The World Health Organization says these illegal pesticides will hurt countries in the developing world. Excessive use of these products can and will poison soils, contaminate water supplies, and devastate ecosystems. World population growth may be one of the factors behind the trade. Javier Fernandez, a senior official with CropLife, says, “it’s unknown, and it’s very common. The increasing demand for food is accelerating the need for pesticides, so the illegal trade is getting bigger and more violent.” Multinational corporations that sell Brazilian food into the United States say their products are safe, despite the presence of illegal pesticides in the country. For example, Bunge (BUN-gee) is a U.S. producer that sources crop from Brazil and says its contract with farmers includes clauses that “require the responsible use of pesticides.” It also conducts chemical analysis on its products to ensure their safety. Similar companies provide training for their Brazilian producers and monitor the products entering the U.S. market.

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NCBA Elects New President at the Cattle Industry Convention

Marty Smith is a fifth-generation cattle rancher who was elected as the new president of the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association over the weekend at the annual Cattle Industry Convention. Smith runs a cow-calf operation in Central Florida that’s been in continuous operation since 1852. Smith graduated from the University of Georgia with a degree in Agricultural Economics and Animal Science. Smith also graduated from the University of Florida College of Law and was admitted to the Florida Bar in 1984. “It’s a tremendous honor to lead the oldest and largest national organization representing American cattle producers,” Smith says. “We have a great product and a great story, and I’m looking forward to helping tell that story without apology during the year ahead as President of the NCBA.” Smith was formally elected at a meeting of the NCBA’s Board of Directors. Jerry Bohn of Kansas was named President-Elect and Don Schiefelbein (SHEH-fel-byne) of Minnesota was elected Vice President. More than 8,000 people attended the annual Cattle Industry Convention and NCBA Trade Show over the weekend in San Antonio, Texas.

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.