READ the NAFB’s National Ag News for Tuesday, March 3rd

Sponsored by the American Farm Bureau Federation

NFU President Johnson Retires, Larew Elected

National Farmers Union President Roger Johnson this week delivered his final address to the organization before retirement and the election of a new leader. After 11 years, Johnson announced his plans to retire in 2020. Delegates Monday elected Rob Larew to succeed Johnson as the organization’s president. Patty Edelburg, a Wisconsin dairy farmer, was reelected to serve a second term as vice president. Larew and Edelburg’s two-year terms begin today and will conclude at NFU’s 120th Anniversary Convention in 2022, at which point both may seek reelection Larew says, “I am so honored that the farmers and ranchers, rural Americans, and advocates who make National Farmers Union all that it is have entrusted me with this great responsibility.” Larew, who was raised on a West Virginia dairy farm, served as NFU’s Senior Vice President of Public Policy and Communications since fall 2016. Prior to his employment with NFU, Larew served more than 22 years in Congress and the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

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USTR: Trump Trade Agenda Creating “Blue Collar Boom”

U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer says the Trump administration’s trade agenda is resulting in a “blue-collar boom.” In the Trade Policy Agenda and Annual Report delivered to Congress Friday, Lighthizer highlighted the trade accomplishments over the past year, including the signing of trade agreements with Mexico, Canada, China and Japan, as well as enforcement actions and efforts to bring change to the World Trade Organization. Going forward, the report states that President Donald Trump will “continue to rebalance America’s trade relationships” to benefit American workers, aggressively enforce U.S. trade laws, and take prompt action in response to unfair trade practices by other nations. Lighthizer says President Trump seeks new trade agreements with the United Kingdom, the European Union and Kenya, which would be the United States’ first free trade agreement in sub-Saharan Africa. The 2020 trade agenda also includes the enforcement of commitments by trading partners in trade agreements, including the USMCA, the China Phase One Agreement and WTO agreements.

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China Calling ASF Vaccine Effective in Lab Test

A research institute in China says it’s African swine fever vaccine is proving to be safe and effective. China’s Harbin Veterinary Research Institute, overseen by the Chinese Academy of Agricultural Sciences, says the live vaccine with reduced virulence was created from a series of gene-deleted viruses using the country’s first African swine fever strain, according to Bloomberg News. The institute says the vaccine is “currently the most promising one for commercial production,” potentially providing prevention and control of African swine fever. Researchers in the United States earlier this year announced a separate vaccine that was 100 percent effective. However, development and availability to farmers are still years away. African swine fever is thought to have impacted 40 percent, or more, of China’s hog herd. China is the world’s largest pork consumer and producer. However, China is set to have a record number of pork imports this year, due to the virus. In February, Rabobank expected U.S. pork exports to remain strong because of African swine fever, and recent trade agreements.

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USDA Announces Additional Disaster Assistance Signup

The Department of Agriculture will open signup for disaster assistance on March 23 for producers to apply for eligible losses of drought and excess moisture. Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue announced the additional disaster assistance late last week. Through WHIP+, USDA is helping producers recover from losses related to 2018 and 2019 natural disasters. USDA is also entering into agreements with six sugar beet processing cooperatives to distribute $285 million to grower members of those cooperatives who experienced loss. Secretary Perdue says, “disaster events the past two years have been atypically widespread, relentless and unforgiving,” adding “President Trump has the backs of our farmers, and we aim to support them as they recover.” In June 2019, more than $3 billion was made available through a disaster relief package passed by Congress and signed by President Trump. In December 2019, Congress passed, and President Trump signed the Further Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2020 that provides an additional $1.5 billion for the continuation of disaster assistance program delivery.

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Perdue Orders USDA Fleet Vehicles to Increase Biofuels Use

Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue last week directed Department of Agriculture employees to acquire alternative fueled vehicles when replacing conventionally fueled vehicles. USDA owns and operates one of the largest civilian fleets in the Federal Government. Through the directive, USDA is moving to acquire E85- or biodiesel-capable vehicles that meet USDA mission requirements instead of those that take conventional gasoline. This will occur over time during the normal fleet renewal process. USDA currently has 37,000 vehicles and replaces approximately 3,000 every year. Additionally, USDA will make $100 million in grants available this year for the newly created Higher Blends Infrastructure Incentive Program. Through the program, biodiesel distribution facilities will be able to apply for grants to help install, retrofit or upgrade fuel storage and related infrastructure to sell ethanol and biodiesel. USDA plans to publish application deadlines and other program information in the Federal Register this spring. Secretary Perdue says both actions “underscore that USDA is putting our money where our mouth is when it comes to increased biofuels usage.”

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Mid-Mississippi Delta River Region Potentially a “Next California”

A report from the World Wildlife Fund details how the Mid-Mississippi Delta River Region could become the “Next California” of fruit and vegetable production because of climate change. The report, The Next California, Phase 1: Investigating Potential in the Mid-Mississippi Delta River Region, explores the viability of shifting some fruit and vegetable production to an area of the U.S. currently dominated by row crops. Findings show that while California will continue to be a key agricultural state, the mid-Mississippi Delta River region is well-positioned to supplement fruit and vegetable production, contributing to a more distributed and climate-resilient food system. Jason Clay, senior vice president of markets at the World Wildlife Fund, says, “A hotter and drier California, with more extreme weather events, is bad news for farmers,” adding, “We need a plan to mitigate risk and take some pressure off the state and its environment.” The report identifies several advantages to selecting the Delta region as a pilot for more intensive fruit and vegetable production. These include a long history of farming, the low cost of land and labor, fertile soils, abundant rain and surface water and economic benefits.

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.