READ the NAFB’s National Ag News for Tuesday, February 25th

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Trump says More Trade Aid an Option; Conflicting Messages on the Need for it.

A Twitter announcement from President Donald Trump last week made it seem like more trade aid for farmers hurt by trade disputes is a legitimate possibility. Evidently, he hadn’t yet made it known to USDA that this was on the table. “The president’s tweet was a surprise to us,” says Ted McKinney, Undersecretary for Trade and Foreign Ag Affairs. “That’s the decision we’ll go with.” Politico says the administration’s agricultural forecasts offer some conflicting messages about whether additional trade is actually needed this year. USDA’s Chief Economist, Robert Johansson, predicts a return to what he called “normal trade” in 2020, along with mentioning more hopeful signs for the farm economy ahead this year after a recent economic downturn. Farm income is projected to increase this year despite a large drop in federal farm payments as the 2019 trade aid program wraps up. Ag Secretary Sonny Perdue has already predicted a “record year for agricultural exports with China.” But, market analysts say isn’t entirely possible because of Beijing’s insistence on following market demand and complying with World Trade Organization limitations. USDA has already paid out $23 billion directly to U.S. producers since 2018.


Brazilian Beef is Back in the U.S.

Late last week, the USDA reopened the door into the U.S. market for imports of raw beef from Brazil. The agency says the world’s largest beef exporter has taken the right steps to improve its food-safety inspection system, bringing it up to U.S. standards. Some farmers, ranchers, and food safety groups are already pushing back against the decision. The National Cattlemen’s Beef Association is one of those groups that has serious concerns about the decision. “NCBA strongly supports science-based trade and the administration’s efforts to enforce it,” says Kent Baucus, the Senior Director of International Trade and Market Access for NCBA. “But, NCBA has serious concerns about Brazil returning to the U.S. beef market.” He says the NCGA has frequently questioned the lack of scientific evidence that was used to justify Brazil’s initial entry into the U.S. market in 2016. “Unfortunately, we weren’t surprised that Brazil forfeited its beef access to the U.S. in 2017 due to a large number of food safety violations,” Baucus says. “Given Brazil’s history with foot-and-mouth disease and its track record of repeated food safety violations at ports-of-entry, you can rest assured that we will keep a sharp eye out on all future developments with Brazil.”


Deere says Farms, Ag Economy Beginning to Stabilize

Deere and Company had a surprisingly strong first quarter after an extended period in which the tractor and construction equipment maker was hit hard by the trade dispute between China and the U.S. “Farmer confidence, though still subdued, has improved due in part to hopes for a relaxation of trade tensions and higher agricultural exports,” says CEO John May. An Associated Press report says China has suspended more punitive tariffs on imports of U.S industrial goods in response to a truce in its trade war with Washington. It’s been well-documented how hard Chinese tariffs hit U.S. agricultural commodities like soybeans, which hurt farmers, and in turn, hurt farm equipment manufacturers as well. Illinois-based Deere and Company had posted three consecutive quarters of falling profits and slowing sales growth as trade tensions between China and the U.S. continued. It also stuck to a conservative outlook during 2020. Deere expects sales in its agriculture-and-turf business to fall between five and ten percent, and those in the construction and forestry segments to fall between 10 and 15 percent.


NFU says Goodbye to Roger Johnson; Election Coming for New President

The National Farmers Union officially saw Roger Johnson off into retirement late last week during a party that took place in the Farmers and Distillers Restaurant in northwest Washington, D.C. Johnson, the NFU President for 11 years, announced back in December that he would be retiring. “Farmers Union has been a fundamental part of who I am for all my life,” Johnson says. “It’s been the biggest honor of my life to serve this organization and the farmers and ranchers that make up the membership ranks. It’s a bittersweet feeling to step away from the role of a lifetime but I need to spend more time with my wife and four grandkids.” The Hagstrom Report says the election to replace Johnson at the top spot of the NFU is coming up March 1-3. There are three candidates to replace Johnson, including Rob Larew, NFU’s Senior VP of Public Policy; Donn Teske, president of the Kansas Farmers Union and a former NFU National Vice President; and Mike Eby, spokesperson and chair for the National Dairy Producers Organization. The Farmers and Distillers Restaurant where the retirement celebration took place is part of a restaurant group owned by the North Dakota Farmers Union.


U.S. Launches Pilot Program for Prairie Pothole Region to Plant Cover Crops

The USDA’s Farm Service Agency announced a new pilot program to enable farmers in the Prairie Pothole region to receive payments for planting cover crops on their land for three to five years. The new Conservation Reserve Program’s Soil Health and Income Protection Program, or SHIPP, is available for producers in Iowa, Minnesota, Montana, North Dakota, and South Dakota. The signup for the pilot program starts on March 30 and ends August 21. “We’re excited to provide a short-term Conservation Reserve Program option tailored to the unique soil health needs of producers in the Prairie Pothole Region,” says FSA Administrator Richard Fordyce. “The number of people that can be enrolled in the program is limited, and participation will be on a first-come, first-served basis.” Fordyce says interested landowners need to contact their FSA county office for an appointment to apply. Through the SHIPP program, producers have the option of taking a three, four, or five-year CRP contract to establish cover crops on less productive cropland in exchange for payments. Cover crops, used either in a single crop rotation or over multiple years, can improve the productivity and health of soils on a farm for generations and increase the bottom line for the farmer.


Cargill Moving into the Fake-Meat Business

Cargill is making a jump into the plant-based protein business. The global giant announced plans to sell its private-label plant-based patties and ground products to retailers and restaurants beginning in early April. Cargill says the offerings are part of its “new approach” to the future of the protein market, and they predict protein demand will jump by 70 percent over the next three decades. The plant-based products were developed and will be manufactured in Cargill facilities. The company’s managing director of the alternative protein team says they’ve created some of the “best-tasting products available in the plant-based category.” However, it doesn’t mean that Cargill is going to a 100 percent plant-based protein production plant. Brian Sikes, the leader of Cargill’s global protein and salt business says, “We need to keep all protein options on the table. Whether pe

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.