READ the NAFB’s National Ag News for Friday, May 8th

Sponsored by the American Farm Bureau Federation

Pork Exports Hit All-Time High in March

Spurred on by record production, U.S. pork exports completed a tremendous first quarter with new March records for both volume and value. Data released by USDA and compiled by the U.S. Meat Export Federation says beef exports also trended higher year-over-year in March, establishing a record first-quarter pace. “March export results were very solid, especially given the COVID-19 related challenges facing customers in many international markets right now,” says USMEF President and CEO Dan Halstrom. “Stay-at-home orders created enormous challenges for many countries’ foodservice sectors, several of the world’s key currencies slumped against the dollar, and logistical obstacles surfaced in some key markets. However, demand for U.S. red meat proved very resilient.” Recent events like temporary plant closures aren’t reflected in the first-quarter export data. Pork exports, driven by strong demand from China, Hong Kong, Mexico, Japan, and Canada, totaled well over 291,000 metric tons, a 38 percent increase from last year. The export value was up to more than $764 million. March beef exports were over 115,300 metric tons, seven percent more than last year, while the value was more than $702 million, four percent higher than 2019.


Path Cleared for U.S. Sorghum Exports to Vietnam

The door is open for U.S. sorghum exports to flow into Vietnam for high-value uses like pet food and liquor, as well as feed for the aquaculture, poultry, and swine industries. A new pest risk assessment has been approved by both the USDA and Vietnam’s Ministry of Agriculture. The opening is a result of almost five years of work by the U.S. Grains Council, the United Sorghum Checkoff Program, and the National Sorghum Producers, as well as the USDA’s Foreign Ag Service and APHIS. “We are excited to see our hard work and collaboration pay off in Vietnam,” says USGC President and CEO Ryan LeGrand. “It’s been a long time coming but it is a model of how by working together with industry and government, good things can happen for U.S. commodities.” The pest risk assessment outlines how U.S. sorghum must be handled to meet regulations in Vietnam. The assessment became even more critical after a shipment of sorghum destined for China in 2018 was diverted to Vietnam but couldn’t be delivered because there was no pest risk assessment protocol in place.


Trump: Will Know Next Week if China Making Progress on Phase One Deal

Top negotiators from China and the U.S. will talk next week about the progress on the Phase One Trade Deal between the two countries. Bloomberg says the move comes after President Donald Trump threatened to terminate the agreement if Beijing doesn’t meet its obligations. The planned phone call will be the first time the Chinese Vice Premier and U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer will talk about the agreement since it was signed in January. That was just before COVID-19 hit the world’s two largest economies and turned the world’s global supply chains upside down. Trade numbers this week showed a sharp drop in U.S. exports to China when compared to the 2017 benchmark levels, which in turn caused doubt that Beijing would meet its obligation to buy at least $262 billion in U.S. agriculture, manufacturing, and energy goods. Beijing hasn’t yet removed many of its dumping duties on U.S. imports. Trump recently told reporters that he’d be able to tell them within the next two weeks if he’s happy with how the trade deal is progressing. Relations have been strained since the coronavirus outbreak. Trump says China misled the world about the scope and risk of the disease. China says U.S. officials are trying to “shift their responsibility for the poor handling of the disease.”


Farm Credit Council Supporting Rebuild Rural Letter to Congress

Farm Credit Council President and CEO Todd Van Hoose says his organization supports the Rebuild Rural Coalition’s letter they sent to Congress. “Parents working and students studying from home has brought the urban/rural divide on broadband to the fore in a way we can no longer afford to ignore,” Van Hoose says. “That same broadband would help rural residents avoid medical appointments through tele-health initiatives, thereby decreasing their exposure to others at the hospitals and clinics.” The coalition is also concerned about several other aspects of rural infrastructure, noting that we’ve already seen the problems with our food supply chain. “Once these processing plants return to normal operations, they will rely on roads, bridges, locks, and dams, many of which are all crumbling, to transport protein to consumers,” Van Hoose adds. “As Congress considers future COVID-19 relief packages, they need to prioritize rural America’s infrastructure.” The Rebuild Rural coalition is made up of more than 250 local, state, and national organizations from across the country that collectively represent U.S. agricultural producers, cooperatives, rural businesses, as well as rural communities and the families that live in them.  


Duties to Stay on Biodiesel from Argentina

The National Biodiesel Board is pleased that the Department of Commerce will keep countervailing duty orders on imports of Argentinian biodiesel. The Commerce Department made the determination after its “changed circumstances review” of the anti-dumping duty. The department determined that there are no “changed circumstances” that would warrant any changes in U.S. duty rates. That means the rates on imported biodiesel from Argentina will stay at their current levels. Kurt Kovarik is the NBB Vice President of Federal Affairs, who says the NBB’s Fair Trade Commission fought hard for this outcome. “We certainly appreciate Secretary Wilbur Ross and the administration for supporting U.S. biodiesel producers at a critical moment. We are also grateful that they took the time to listen to U.S. biodiesel producers.” The NBB says the Department of Commerce took the time necessary to fully evaluate the status of Argentina’s export tax regime and made the right decision. “Also critical to the outcome is the support and leadership of Senators Chuck Grassley and Maria Cantwell, along with Representative Darren LaHood,” Kovarik adds. “The U.S. biodiesel industry appreciates their help in amplifying the industry’s push for fair trade conditions.”


Specialty Crop Industry Protocols Keep Workers Safe During COVID-19

A national coalition of 64 organizations representing specialty crop producers sent a letter to Congressional leadership this week on safety protocols within the industry during COVID-19. They want Congress to know the steps agricultural employers are taking to protect their workers. “Farmers and ranchers across the country moved quickly to implement new employee safety protocols early in the crisis,” says National Council of Agricultural Employers President Michael Marsh. “While America was being placed on lockdown, agricultural employers were already at work trying to figure out how to best protect their employees and the public.” The letter details the collaboration between the agriculture industry, public health experts, and regulatory officials to develop the best safety practices in the field and packing. As future rounds of COVID-19 pandemic legislation is debated, the coalition is asking congressional leaders to acknowledge the widespread employee protection protocols that are already in place, as well as provide additional support to help agricultural employers continue to meet the needs of their employees. The Western Growers Association, a member of the coalition, is asking Congress to “extend current relief efforts for agriculture, and to include additional funding for personal protective equipment and other measures to offset the costs of maintaining an essential workforce during COVID-19.”

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.