READ the NAFB’s National Ag News for Monday, May 18th

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The U.S., China Relationship Deteriorating Soon After Phase One Trade Deal

Analysts already expect China to be unable to meet its obligations under the Phase One trade deal it signed with the U.S. this year. Now, the relationship between the two largest economies in the world appears to be in trouble. President Donald Trump seemed to add fuel to the fire when he told the Fox Business Network that he has no interest in speaking to Chinese President Xi (Zhee) Jinping right now. He even went as far as admitting the possibility of cutting ties with the Asian nation. Reuters says the U.S. president is very disappointed with China’s failure to contain the COVID-19 outbreak, noting that the pandemic cast a pall over his Phase One deal with China, which was previously hailed as a major achievement. “They should never have let this happen,” Trump says. “So, I make a great trade deal and now I say this doesn’t feel the same to me. The ink was barely dry, and the plague came over. And it doesn’t feel the same to me.” Trump’s irritation extended to the Chinese president, who Trump one said he had a good relationship with. “Right now, I don’t want to speak to him,” Trump told Fox. “There are many things we could do. We could even cut off the whole relationship.”


China Now Open to U.S. Blueberries, Barley Imports

China said late last week it would immediately allow imports of barley and fresh blueberries from the United States. That move came just days after announcing plans to impose tariffs on barley imports from Australia, as well as blocking Australian beef imports. The South China Morning Post says opening up to more U.S. agricultural imports is a step towards meeting the nation’s Phase One trade deal commitments. “The U.S. barley import decision is mainly due to the trade deal,” says Rosa Wang, an analyst with JCI China, an agricultural data provider. “To meet the targets, it is necessary for U.S. farm products to enter China.” Wang says it indicates China is making an effort, but also says the Australian side of things is a “separate matter.” Trade data shows that China is a long way from fulfilling its obligations. However, the Asian nation has been busy ramping up its purchases of U.S. pork. Early last week, China also exempted a total of 79 American products from tariffs. The new list of exemptions was made public just one day after China suspended imports from four Australian beef processing plants due to labeling and health concerns.


Higher Blends Infrastructure Incentive Program Applications Open

The USDA launched an online portal to start accepting applications for the Higher Blends Infrastructure Incentive Program grants. The agency plans to make up to $100 million available in competitive grants for activities that will help expand the sale and availability of ethanol and biodiesel fuels. “As the coronavirus response continues, America’s energy independence has proven to be critical to our economic security now more than ever,” says USDA Deputy Secretary of Agriculture Stephen Censky. “We know the positive impacts that affordable, abundant, and clean-burning fuel provide to our country’s farmers and consumers. The Higher Blends Infrastructure Incentive Program will help rural communities build stronger economies and will give consumers more choices when they fill up at the pump.” USDA will make the funds directly available to help transportation fueling and biodiesel distribution facilities convert to higher ethanol and biodiesel blends by sharing the costs related to the installation of fuel pumps, related equipment, and infrastructure. Online grants must be submitted by August 13.  


R-CALF Asks Perdue to Open CRP Land to Emergency Grazing

R-CALF USA is asking Ag Secretary Sonny Perdue to consider opening up the 24 million acres of land enrolled in the Conservation Reserve Program to emergency grazing. The group says it would help to alleviate the backlog in the live cattle supply chain caused by COVID-19, which has reduced overall slaughter capacity. “The fed cattle backup requires the entire upstream live cattle supply chain to hold lighter-weight cattle out of the feedlot sector of the supply chain until the current backlog of cattle can be processed,” says R-CALF CEO Bill Bullard in the Hagstrom Report. “To hold these lighter-weight cattle back, more grazing land than normal is needed to maintain their health and measured growth.” He points out that some areas in rural America are experiencing drought conditions, which means the industry is faced with a greater need for more grazing land than normal. “At the same time, some grazing lands are producing less forage than normal because of the drought,” Bullard adds. “An immediate solution to this challenge is to open CRP lands to emergency grazing and making accommodations so non-CRP landowners can rent CRP land from others for a reasonable fee.”


More Ag Groups Respond Positively to SECURE Rule on Plant Breeding

Last week, USDA announced a final rule that updated and modernized the agency’s biotechnology regulations under the Plant Protection Act. The final rule is called The Sustainable, Ecological, Consistent, Uniform, Responsible, Efficient Rule, which USDA says will bring its plant biotechnology regulations into the 21st Century. The American Farm Bureau says the revision will encourage innovation of new plant breeding techniques while safeguarding our food supply. “We appreciate the USDA and Secretary Perdue for their common-sense approach to encouraging innovation,” says AFB President Zippy Duvall. “At a time when agriculture is facing many economic headwinds, the science-based rule provides the opportunity to solve current and future challenges for agricultural production and food security.” The American Soybean Association is another group pleased with the changes. “We’re happy that the new rule streamlines the regulatory process for low-risk crops to come to market,” says ASA Regulatory Committee Chair Caleb Ragland. “By establishing a common-sense regulatory process to ensure new biotech plant varieties are reviewed quickly with predictable timelines and allowed to go to market if they pose no threat, soybean growers will remain efficient and competitive through this continued access to innovation.”


Growth Energy Asks COVID-19 Panel to Examine Benefits of Biofuels

Growth Energy sent a letter to the Environmental Protection Agency’s Science Advisory Board asking a new COVID-19 review panel to look into the impacts of gasoline on air quality. They want the panel to examine the impact of toxic gasoline additives on respiratory health, as well as the potential benefits offered by bio-based alternatives like ethanol. “As you explore the human costs of air pollution, including the heightened risk from COVID-19 among vulnerable parts of the population, we are asking you to examine the wide body of related research pointing to readily available solutions,” says Chris Bliley, Senior Vice President of Regulatory Affairs at Growth Energy. “Federal regulators have long acknowledged that biofuels reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 39 percent more, but ethanol also serves as the single most affordable and abundant alternative to toxic fuel additives.” The letter points out that the petroleum-based aromatics play a dominant role in the formation of toxic emissions linked to cancer, as well as neurological, cardiovascular, and reproductive damage in humans. “Now more than ever, it’s critical that the EPA explore the full impact of petroleum-based aromatics on air quality,” Bliley adds.

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.