READ the NAFB’s National Ag News for Tuesday, February 2nd

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Speculation Developing Over How Biden Will Use Commodity Credit Corporation

Speculation is brewing over how the new Biden administration may use the Commodity Credit Corporation. The CCC, as it’s known, was used by the Trump-era Department of Agriculture to provide trade relief to farmers, including Market Facilitation Program payments. The CCC has a $30 billion fund, with several ideas on how to use the funding, setting up a “tug of war over its limited resources,” according to Politico. Incoming Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack has indicated that he has the authority to implement a carbon bank for farmers through the CCC. President Joe Biden’s stimulus plan also identified the CCC as a means to provide economic relief for restaurants suffering during the pandemic. Meanwhile, Senate Agriculture Committee Chair Debbie Stabenow, a Michigan Democrat, told reporters last week, farmers can be leaders in the climate crisis. She says her focus will be on “voluntary, producer-led opportunities” to allow farmers to cut down emissions and create new income sources.

UK Applies to Join CPTPP

The United Kingdom seeks to join the Comprehensive and Progressive Trans-Pacific Partnership. The CPTPP is the trade agreement between former Trans-Pacific Partnership nations after then-President Donald Trump withdrew the U.S. from TPP. Officials from the UK made the request Monday with planning to begin formal negotiations this year. Officials say joining the CPTPP would deepen the UK’s access to fast-growing markets and major economies, including Mexico, Malaysia and Vietnam. UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson stated, “One year after our departure from the EU, we are forging new partnerships that will bring enormous economic benefits for the people of Britain.” The United States has been seeking a bilateral trade agreement with the UK since BREXIT, under the Trump Administration. In a phone call with President Joe Biden, Prime Minister Johnson sought to “resolve existing trade issues as soon as possible.” However, Biden’s focus is on domestic issues for now, and Biden also wants to evaluate rejoining the former TPP countries in CPTPP.

Philippines Considering Reducing Pork Import Tariffs

The Philippines’ government plans to hold a hearing this week to discuss a proposal to reduce its pork tariffs for in-quota and out-quota imports. Specifically, the country’s Department of Agriculture recommends pork imports under the minimum access volume have a five percent tariff for the next six months and a ten percent tariff for the succeeding six months, compared to the current 30 percent tariff. For pork imports outside the minimum access volume, the Philippines proposes tariffs be reduced to 15 percent for the next six months and 20 percent in the succeeding six months, compared to the current 40 percent. The National Pork Producers Council welcomed the proposal. NPPC last month met with the U.S. Ambassador to the Philippines to discuss trade. NPPC has been working with the Philippines’ government for more than a year to negotiate lower pork import tariffs, saying the nation “holds tremendous market opportunities for U.S. pork exports.” The Philippine Tariff Commission plans to consider the proposal Thursday.

United States Cattle Inventory Down Slightly

A report on U.S. cattle inventory shows 93.6 million head of cattle and calves on U.S. farms as of January 1, 2021, slightly below the 93.8 million last year. The Department of Agriculture’s National Agricultural Statistics Service published the data Friday. Of the 93.6 million head inventory, all cows and heifers that have calved totaled 40.6 million. There were 31.2 million beef cows in the United States, down one percent from last year. The number of milk cows in the United States increased to 9.4 million. The 2020 calf crop in the United States was estimated at 35.1 million head, down one percent from the previous year’s calf crop. All cattle on feed were at 14.7 million head, up slightly from 2020. NASS surveyed over 34,900 operators across the nation during the first half of January. Surveyed producers were asked to report their cattle inventories and calf crop for the entire year of 2020.

USDA Forest Service Announces 2021 Grazing Fee

The Department of Agriculture’s Forest Service recently announced federal grazing fees on national forests and grasslands will remain $1.35 per head month for 2021. A head month is a unit the Forest Service uses to define a month’s use of the range by a cow/calf pair, by five goats or sheep, or by a single bull, steer, heifer, horse, burro, or mule. The grazing fee is calculated by considering the average annual change in beef cattle prices, leasing rates for grazing on private land in the western states, and livestock production costs. The fee applies to approximately 6,000 grazing permits administered by the Forest Service on national forests and grasslands in 17 Western states. The formula used for calculating the grazing fee was established by Congress in the 1976 Federal Land Policy and Management Act and as amended in the 1978 Public Rangelands Improvement Act and has continued under a presidential executive order issued in 1986.

Bunge Announces Agreements to Use Renewable Energy

Bunge just announced a 10-year agreement with Direct Energy Renewable Services to use renewable energy at its Fort Worth, Texas oils packaging facility. The initiative will offset 100 percent of Bunge’s power usage in that location with an equivalent amount of Renewable Energy Credits derived from Texas wind power. Beginning in August of 2021, Bunge’s Fort Worth plant energy will be sourced from a local wind farm. The agreement is part of a broader effort by Bunge to reduce emissions and energy in target amounts by 2026. Bunge recently made additional strides in its sustainable energy journey by achieving 100 percent renewable electricity powered by wind at its corn mill in Atchison, Kansas and its soybean processing plant in Emporia, Kansas. In 2019, Bunge signed a long-term contract with Evergy for eight percent of their total wind farm in Nemaha County, Kansas. Besides these locations in Kansas, Bunge’s soybean processing plant in Council Bluffs, Iowa, gets over 60 percent of its electricity from wind power.

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.