READ the NAFB’s National Ag News for Monday, February 24th

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Pork Pessimistic on EU; Cattle Optimistic on China

U.S. pork producers don’t seem optimistic about a potential trade deal with the European Union coming together anytime soon. Nick Giordano is the Vice President of Global Government Affairs for the National Pork Producers Council. Giordano tells Politico that he’s “very skeptical” that the two sides will even reach a mini agreement in the weeks ahead. He feels the real goal should be a comprehensive trade pact covering all sectors of agriculture. “It’s outrageous that a market of that size, with that level of income, is so closed to us,” Giordano says. “They’re stealing jobs from us because of their protectionism and that’s unacceptable.” The VP says there will be widespread support in the U.S. agriculture community for the Trump Administration to take tough action against the EU if there are no concessions regarding a more open EU market. Meantime, U.S. cattlemen might annually sell $4 billion worth of beef to China within the next five years. Kent Baucus, Senior Director of International Affairs with the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association, says the Phase One trade deal and the meat shortage in China cause by African Swine Fever should drive U.S. beef exports higher. “We haven’t even scratched the surface on the Chinese market,” he says. “There is a tremendous amount of unmet protein demand in China.

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USDA Ag Outlook Forum Calls for a Return to “Normal” Trade in 2020

The USDA’s top economist predicted agricultural trade will return to normal this year. USDA Chief Economist Robert Johansson says farm exports to China will rise from $10 billion last year to $14 billion in 2020. That “slight” $4 billion jump doesn’t quite add up to the $40 billion in U.S. ag products that China committed to import from the U.S. under the Phase One trade deal. Johansson says the forecast “reflects public information that’s available right now on phase one.” Later, he added that the calendar year predictions don’t completely include the phase one commitments. However, Ag Secretary Sonny Perdue says that China’s import commitments were not included in Johansson’s estimates. “We expect to exceed that, certainly,” Perdue told reporters. An Agri-Pulse report says Johansson noted that improved exports this year should help farmers’ bottom lines in 2020, while lower interest rates would reduce borrowing costs and strengthen land values. USDA is projecting a corn price at $3.60 a bushel this year, down four percent from last year. The price of soybeans is expected to be $8.80 a bushel, one percent higher last year. Wheat prices are predicted to average $4.90 a bushel, up eight percent from 2019.

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Trump Promises Farmers More Trade Aid if Needed

President Donald Trump took to Twitter again to talk trade. There have been questions on the possibility of more trade aid distribution this year, with the president seemingly saying it’s a possibility. “If our formally targeted farmers need additional aid until such time as the trade deals with China, Mexico, Canada, and others fully kick in, that aid will be provided by the federal government, paid for out of the massive tariff money coming into the USA,” he said in a Friday Tweet. However, The Hagstrom Report says Trump isn’t technically accurate when he says the aid will come out of tariff income. The money comes from the Commodity Credit Corporation, which was set up back in the 1930s as a way to distribute aid to farmers. The CCC is a division of the U.S. Department of Agriculture. It has a line of credit set up at the Treasury Department that Congress replenishes. Ag Secretary Sonny Perdue has told farmers recently to not expect more trade aid in 2020. The Trump Administration has already paid out a total of $28 billion in trade aid by way of payments to farmers, trade promotion, and purchases from food items for distribution to food shelves across the country.

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ASF Virus Infections Last Longer Than Originally Thought

A group of researchers and veterinarians put together a fact sheet dealing with the African Swine Fever that’s called “Holding Time Calculations for Feed Ingredients to Mitigate Virus Transmission.” However, they’ve revised the necessary holding time upward when it comes to determining if the African Swine Fever virus is sufficiently degraded in feedstuffs to potentially prevent transmission. The new recommendation is to hold conventional soybean meal an average of 125 days from when it’s placed in a package, which is up from only 52 days found in previous research. The new research was funded by the Swine Health Information Center with Pork Checkoff Funds. The study was conducted at Kansas State University using the ASF virus inside the National Bio and Agro-Defense Facility. Experts recommend that producers talk with their feed suppliers and ask for the “born-on” date for all imported feed products. Vigilance is the best protection against a potential ASF outbreak in the U.S. To further ensure the U.S. swine herd remains free of African Swine Fever, the National Pork Producers Council is asking Ag Secretary Sonny Perdue to take further measures to keep potentially infected animal feed out of the country.

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Hopes Fading for a U.S.-India Trade Deal Before Trump Visits

It’s looking like the U.S. and India won’t be able to reach a trade deal before President Donald Trump visits the country. A Reuters report says India has proposed new tariffs that have complicated the negotiations. The U.S.-India Business Council tells reporters that hopes were fading for the two sides to be able to quickly bridge the gap in their efforts to restore some U.S. trade preferences for India, as well as improve market access for selected U.S. farm products. “We’re still hopeful that some kind of agreement could be reached,” the council says in a statement. “We do recognize and acknowledge that both governments have been indicating that an agreement is not likely to happen at the stage of the talks.” Trump himself is sending mixed messages on the possibility of a trade agreement with India. “We’re going to India and we may make a tremendous deal there,” he says. “Maybe we’ll slow it down and do it after the election. We’ll see what happens, but we will only make deals if they are good deals that put America first.” A spokesman for India’s Foreign Ministry says they won’t rush into a trade deal with the U.S. unless there’s a balanced outcome that’s good for both countries.

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Farm Bureau Readying for Ag Safety Awareness Program Week

The American Farm Bureau says its groups across the nation are getting ready for Agricultural Safety Awareness Week, which is coming up on May 1-7. U.S. Agricultural Safety and Health Centers will join the Farm Bureau in promotion of the week with the theme as “20:20 Vision on Ag Safety.” Ag Safety Awareness Program Week has a different focus each day. Topics Monday through Friday include Mental Health on Monday, followed by Transportation Safety, Weather Disasters, Confined Spaces, and Farmer Wellness on Friday. Both organizations encourage farmers across the country to make safety a priority on the farm during the week and throughout the entire year. The Agricultural Safety Awareness Program is part of the Farm Bureau Health and Safety Network of professionals who share an interest in identifying and decreasing safety and health risks. They invite farmers to visit their YouTube channel for new content and fresh ideas on how to stay safe while working in agriculture, forestry, and fishing. There’s a lot more information on the Agricultural Safety Awareness Week webpage as well.

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.