READ the NAFB’s National Ag News for Thu Dec 3rd

Sponsored by the American Farm Bureau Federation

Biden Won’t Immediately Drop Tariffs on Chinese Imports

President-elect Joe Biden says he won’t immediately rescind the tariffs that President Donald Trump placed on many Chinese imports or break Trump’s Phase One trade deal with China. ABC News says Biden wants to be able to maximize his leverage in future talks with the Southeast Asian nation. Biden says, “I’m not going to make any immediate moves, and the same applies to the tariffs. I’m not going to prejudice my options.” Under President Trump, the U.S. and China engaged in a yearlong trade war that has been frozen in place since the two sides reached the Phase One trade deal in January. There have been some industries that benefited from Trump’s trade policies, but the actions have been panned by the business community and many trade experts. ABC News says most of the tariff costs have been paid for by American consumers and businesses. Biden’s January goal will be to restore U.S. relationships with allies to strengthen his negotiating position with China. He says the key to talks with China is leverage and, in his view, “We don’t have it yet.”

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NCBA Congratulates Scott for House Ag Chair Nomination

The National Cattlemen’s Beef Association is pleased that U.S. Representative David Scott of Georgia was nominated by the Democratic Steering Committee to be the next Chair of the House Ag Committee. That means Scott is now one step away from officially becoming the first black chair of the committee. The steering committee selected Scott over California Democrat Jim Costa by a vote of 32-19. “Congressman Scott is a devoted friend of America’s cattle producers, and I congratulate him on being selected by his colleagues to lead the House Agriculture Committee,” says NCBA CEO Colin Woodall. “His expertise and leadership on cattle issues demonstrate his commitment to helping producers succeed.” Woodall also says Scott is an ideal choice to lead the committee and that NCBA members are “looking forward to the opportunity to continue working with him in the future.” The Georgia Democrat still has to be approved by the full Democratic caucus. Scott was previously endorsed by outgoing Chair Collin Peterson of Minnesota. Scott was second only to Peterson in seniority on the committee.

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Bipartisan Aid Package Pitched in Congress

A bipartisan group of lawmakers announced a proposed coronavirus aid package that would cost $908 billion overall and would contain $26 billion for nutrition and agriculture. A DTN report says that proposal is less than 50 percent of a White House proposal issued before the election. It’s also one-third the cost of a plan backed by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi. DTN says the package is considered by many to be a short-term plan as President-elect Joe Biden hinted that his new economic team would propose a larger economic stimulus package once he’s sworn in. Biden adds that “Any package passed in the lame-duck session is likely to be, at best, just the start.” Mitt Romney of Utah says the aid package would repurpose $560 billion from last spring’s aid passed by Congress. That would lower any new spending level to $348 billion. Senate Finance Committee Chair Chuck Grassley, who just returned after recovering from COVID-19, says that Congress is working on an aid package. However, the costs had to be lower than earlier proposals for any aid package to have a chance at clearing the Senate.

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Farmworker Advocates File Suit Over H-2A Pay Freeze

Farmworker groups filed a lawsuit accusing the Trump administration of trying to suppress worker wages. Their suit asks a federal judge to set aside a Labor Department rule that could cut agricultural guest worker wages by up to $170 million over the next ten years. A Successful Farming article says the Labor Department rule goes into effect on December 21. The advocacy group Farmworker Justice says the estimated drop in wages would be a result of the Labor Department’s new approach to calculating the minimum wage, also known as the Adverse Effect Wage Rate, for foreigners working in the U.S. under H-2A visas. The AEWR is intended to protect pay rates for U.S. workers. “Labor Secretary Scalia’s decision to freeze farmworkers’ wage rates under the H-2A agricultural guest worker program for two years is an utterly arbitrary and unlawful act that inflicts harm to some of the most vulnerable workers in the nation,” says Bruce Goldstein, head of Farmworker Justice. The Labor Department says its rule would stabilize H-2A wage rates for 2021 and 2022 at this year’s levels. Goldstein says the actual effect would be to “lower the wage rates of several hundred thousand farmworkers.”

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U.S. Poultry Provides Over Two Million Jobs: Economic Impact Growing

The U.S. Poultry and Egg Association, the National Chicken Council, the National Turkey Federation, and United Egg Producers released an updated study on the economic impact of the poultry industry. The new study shows the positive impact the industry has on jobs, wages, and federal and state revenue in the United States. As a dynamic and important part of the American economy, the U.S. poultry industry provided more than 2,130,000 jobs, over $121 billion in wages, $576 million in economic activity, and almost $42 billion in government revenue. Since the last study in 2018, the poultry industry has added almost 155,000 jobs, and the economic impact increased by over 15 percent. Of these totals, the chicken industry provides more than 1.6 million jobs, $91 billion in wages, more than $433 billion in economic activity, and over $31 billion in government revenue. “We are pleased to continue providing this valuable tool across the industry that shows the positive economic impact the poultry industry has on our nation and communities,” says John Starkey, President of USPOULTRY. The new data is hosted on interactive websites that can be viewed collectively or by individual product. For more information, go to www.poultryfeedsamerica.org.

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Singapore Will Allow Sale of Cultured Meat

Singapore is the first country in the world to approve lab-cultured meat for commercial sale. On Wednesday, the Singapore Food Agency said that the cultured chicken produced by the San Francisco-based start-up Eat Just met the country’s safety standards for use in nuggets, opening the door for a commercial launch in the country. The cultured meat industry says it’s faced several challenges that, up to this point, have prevented the release of a commercial product. Those barriers include high production costs, difficulty in scaling up production, and securing regulatory approval. Before the announcement this week, no regulatory agency in the world had approved cultured meat. Industry experts say the approval process for cultured meat in the European Union and the U.S. will take years to finish. That means approval in Singapore may be a major step forward for the industry. The safety testing carried out in the approval process is likely to be useful for getting approved in other countries. A successful commercial launch in that country may help convince regulators around the globe that lab-cultured meat is safe.

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.