READ the NAFB’s National Ag News for Thursday, February 13th

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Beijing Asks World for Trade Calm Amid Coronavirus Outbreak

The U.S. and several of the world’s major trading powers are dealing with uncertainty surrounding China. Politico says the spread of the coronavirus has killed hundreds of people and sickened tens of thousands in mainland China. However, at the World Trade Organization gathering in Geneva (Juh-NEE-vah), Chinese officials were quick to “flex their economic muscles” and remind other officials from countries around the world about China’s contributions to worldwide growth. Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell told a House panel this week that the coronavirus will “very likely” affect the U.S. economic growth, but it’s far too early to predict what kind of impact it will have. He also says the central bank doesn’t see any need to adjust interest rates right now as U.S. manufacturing has weakened over the past year. The outbreak is putting a damper on speculation that China will be able to meet the obligations it agreed to in the Phase One Trade Deal with the U.S. China’s Ministry of Agriculture says the country may have to delay its purchases of $40 billion due to the outbreak, but also says it will fulfill its commitments within a year.


U.S./EU Bracing for Potentially Rough Trade Negotiations

Fresh off a phase one trade deal with China, U.S. President Donald Trump has his sights on a new deal with the European Union. The president wants to restructure the over $1 trillion U.S. trade relationship with the European Union. Reuters says that’s already raising the specter of another major trade war as the global economy is slowing. Trump has long complained that the EU position on trade “is worse than China’s.” Trump says, “Europe has been treating us very badly. Over the last 10 to 12 years, there’s been a tremendous deficit with Europe. That have incredible trade barriers, so we’re going to be starting with that.” Meantime, EU officials say they are willing to work with the U.S. president to address some of the challenges in the relationship. A German conservative lawmaker tells Reuters that Trump needs to remember the EU and the U.S. are “evenly matched” in the economic realm, and that they will defend themselves if the need arises. EU officials say, “We will respond to U.S. tariffs, and we know how to structure them to be effective.” Reuters says there may be a “mini-deal” like the Phase One agreement signed with China. However, that likely won’t solve the main issues that would allow both sides to declare a truce.


EU Strikes Trade Deal with Vietnam

European Union lawmakers overwhelmingly approved free trade and investment deals with Vietnam that will eliminate almost all tariffs over the next decade. The website U.S. News Dot Com says the deal is expected to give the EU a competitive foothold in an important overseas market for the United States. European legislators voted 401 to 192 in favor of striking the deal. The EU hopes the deal will bring in 15 billion euros, or $16.5 billion, in additional exports from Vietnam to the continent by 2035. They also expect EU exports to Vietnam will jump by more than eight billion euros to an annual level of 22 billion euros. Vietnam sends a lot of telecommunications equipment, food, and clothing to Europe, while the EU sends machinery, transport equipment, chemicals, as well as agricultural products to the Asian nation. EU officials say the deal is all about strengthening economic ties to Vietnam amid fierce competition from the U.S. and China within that marketplace. Once adopted by lawmakers, the deal needs to be approved by the EU council and ratified by all 27 member nations to go into effect.


Study says FCC Underestimates Number of Americans without Internet

A report issued by BroadbandNow Research says the number of Americans that are without internet service is 43 million. The Hagstrom Report says that’s double the estimate of 21.3 million from the Federal Communications Commission. The report also says the problem is worse than the FCC says it is in rural America. They say the discrepancy occurs because the FCC relies on semi-annual self-reporting by Internet service providers using the FCC-mandated Form 477. If an ISP offers service to at least one household in a census block, then the FCC counts the entire census block as covered by that provider, even if the rest of the block doesn’t have service. BroadbandNow Research says it examined the magnitude of this flaw by manually checking internet availability using FCC data as the source of truth for randomly selected addresses. BroadbandNow Research says it believes that “provider reporting on address-level availability is the best and most transparent way to understand and quantify the digital divide.” They also believe that FCC reporting should be timelier. FCC Form 477 data typically comes out to the public about 12-18 months after the ISPs file their required reports.


December U.S. Pork Exports Set a Record to End 2019

U.S. pork exports finished up 2019 on a good note, setting records for both the dollar value and total volume. The U.S. Meat Export Federation compiled USDA data and found that 5.89 billion pounds of U.S. pork and pork variety meats were exported to countries around the world. The volume was a 10 percent jump over the previous year, while the value came in at $6.95 billion, up nine percent over 2018. Pork exports accounted for almost 27 percent of total U.S. pork production in 2019. Export value per head averaged $53.51, up four percent of 2018. “China was the main driver for the record-breaking pace of U.S. pork exports during the last year,” says David Newman, president of the National Pork Board. “We are poised to help China fill its protein gap caused by the recent African Swine Fever outbreak.” He also says that the U.S. pork industry is focusing on recapturing lost market share with key customers and investing in research to develop emerging markets. While exports to China were higher last year, key customers like Japan and Mexico, the number one export markets in terms of value and volume, respectively, saw significant drops as the U.S. negotiated new trade deals with each country.


NACD Elects Next President

The National Association of Conservation Districts’ Board of Directors has elected Michael Crowder of Washington as the association’s president-elect. “Michael epitomizes conservation, both in his leadership at the national level and on the ground on his operations in Illinois, Indiana, and Washington state,” says current NACD President Tim Palmer. “Having worked with Michael closely for several years on the NACD officer team and board of directors, I’m confident he’s well-suited to champion locally-led conservation in the years ahead.” Crowder will serve a one-year term as president-elect alongside Palmer. Crowder was first elected to the NACD Officer Team in 2017 as the second vice president and previously served on the organization’s Board of Directors as the Washington state delegate. “Locally-led conservation is the backbone of conservation delivery,” Crowder says. “It’s an honor to be selected by my fellow district officials to represent and advance conservation work at the national level for farmers, ranchers, and fellow conservationists.” Crowder will be sworn in as the next president in February of 2021.

SOURCE: NAFB News Service


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.