READ the NAFB’s National Ag News for Wednesday, March 11th

Sponsored by the American Farm Bureau Federation

USDA Reports Progress on Implementation of China Phase One Agreement

The Department of Agriculture Tuesday said there’s progress in the implementation of the U.S.-China Phase One Economic and Trade Agreement. Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue says China has taken several additional actions to reach its agriculture-related commitments. The actions include the signing of a protocol that allows the importation of fresh California nectarines, and the lifting of a ban on imports of U.S. beef and beef products from animals over 30 months of age. Additionally, China has updated its lists of facilities approved for exporting dairy, infant formula, seafood, and fish oil and fish meal. Also, China’s new tariff exclusion process went into effect on March 2 and importers can now apply for exclusions from retaliatory tariffs. Perdue says USDA will continue to closely monitor China’s implementation of the agreement that was signed February 14, 2020. Perdue adds, “These implementation measures are promising steps showing that China is taking steps to fulfill their purchase commitments.”

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USDA WASDE Report Offers Little Change

The monthly World Agriculture Supply and Demand Report Tuesday offered little change to Department of Agriculture forecasts. This month’s 2019/2020 U.S. corn supply and use outlook is unchanged relative to last month. The season-average corn price received by producers was lowered five cents to $3.80 per bushel based on observed prices to date. U.S. soybean supply and use projections for 2019/2020 are mostly unchanged this month, as well. With soybean crush and exports projected at 2.1 billion bushels and 1.8 billion bushels, respectively, ending stocks remain at 425 million bushels, down 484 million from last year’s record. The U.S. season-average soybean price is projected at $8.70 per bushel, down five cents. Finally, the 2019/2020 U.S. wheat supply and demand outlook is unchanged this month. The projected season-average farm price is also unchanged at $4.55 per bushel. The report followed Monday’s market plunge on coronavirus fears and large cuts to oil prices, which drug farm commodity prices lower, as well. However, farm prices and Wall Street mostly regained some ground Tuesday.

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Rapid Start to 2020 for U.S. Pork Exports; Beef Exports also Trend Higher

Following a record-breaking performance in 2019, U.S. pork exports maintained a torrid pace in January, while beef exports were also higher year-over-year.  The U.S. Meat Export Federation says January pork exports cooled slightly from the volume and value records established in December 2019, but still far exceeded year-ago levels. Both the January export volume of 273,603 metric tons, up 36 percent year-over-year, and export value at $738.7 million, up 50 percent, were the second-highest on record. Meanwhile, beef exports posted more modest growth in January, increasing 2.5 percent from a year ago in volume at 107,374 metric tons and five percent in value at $672.7 million. Exports accounted for 13.1 percent of total beef production, down slightly from a year ago. Release of the January export data comes as coronavirus is dominating news headlines, including those related to global trade. USMEF President and CEO Dan Halstrom said the virus has had an impact on red meat exports, which will likely be more evident in February and March data.

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Farmers Seek Reassurance of Trade During House Ag Subcommittee Hearing

Farmers Tuesday asked lawmakers to assure positive trade outcomes for agriculture. The House Agriculture Subcommittee on Livestock and Foreign Agriculture heard from farmers regarding the current trade atmosphere. Subcommittee Chairman Jim Costa of California stated, “The President’s trade agenda has adversely impacted farmers in California and nationwide.” The National Milk Producers Federation urged lawmakers to “work with the administration to use negotiating resources wisely to target important agricultural markets and create greater access for U.S. dairy products.” In 2019, America’s dairy industry exported more than $6 billion in dairy products ranging from cheese to ice cream to milk powders. Iowa soybean farmer Robb Ewoldt told the committee 2020 holds a “50/50 proposition as to whether I’ll receive an operating loan this year,” adding he’s taken a second job as a truck driver. He urged lawmakers to encourage the administration to initiate free trade negotiations with other trading partners and “assure positive outcomes to bilateral trade negotiations with the EU and the UK.”

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Farmers National: Slight Increase in Number of Land Buyers

Despite volatile and uncertain markets, interest appears to be growing in farmland purchases. Farmers National Company reports a small increase in land buying interest from individual investors. The company specializes in farm management, real estate sales and auctions. The recent Market Facilitation Program, low interest rates and the idea of farmland as a long-term asset appear to support farmland prices. Further, with the stock market volatile and low CD rates, investors are more willing to look for alternatives to invest in, including farmland. Investment funds, for the most part, are remaining active in the land market. Meanwhile, farmers continue to be interested in buying land as there is a bit of optimism among producers for a better year than the last. Farmers National agents have seen stronger than expected prices being paid for cropland. Despite the short-term uncertainties swirling around agriculture, land is seen as the solid long-term asset that both farmers and investors are interested in owning.

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USDA Predicts Sugar Market Gap, Request Export Increase

The Department of Agriculture Tuesday requested an increase in sugar imports. Consistent with the Commerce Department’s Agreement Suspending the Countervailing Duty Investigation on Sugar From Mexico, USDA notified the Department of Commerce of an additional need for sugar in the U.S. market. Consequently, Commerce has increased the quantity of Mexican refined sugar permitted to be exported by 200,000 short tons raw value for the October 1, 2019 through September 30, 2020 period. Commerce previously increased Mexico’s refined sugar export limit by 100,000 short tons, also at the request of USDA, in November 2019. In the same way as the November request, Tuesday’s increase in Mexico’s refined sugar export limit will only change the mix between refined and other sugar. USDA says current market conditions point to a sugar shortage. This action is a further step in ensuring an adequate supply of sugar to the U.S. market, given the terms of the U.S. sugar program and the Agreement Suspending the Countervailing Duty Investigation on Sugar from Mexico.

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.