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China Buys Another Large Shipment of U.S. Corn

China bought a large shipment of U.S. corn on Tuesday. Private exporters reported the sale of 1.15 million tons of corn for delivery by the end of August. The corn is equivalent to more than 45 million bushels and was worth 251 million dollars based on Chicago futures prices. It was the largest sale of U.S. corn to China since the Asian nation bought 2.1 million tons on January 29. Successful Farming says the USDA expects China to buy a record $31.5 billion worth of U.S. farm products in the fiscal year that ends on September 30, thanks in part to its large corn purchases last fall. Sales in the fiscal year 2020 totaled $17 billion when the trade war was in full swing. If those purchases happen, China would be back on top as the number one customer for U.S. farm goods. Last year, China was third in line behind Canada and Mexico. Despite a large number of recent purchases, China didn’t meet the target in its Phase One trade agreement with the U.S. when it pledged to buy $36.6 billion worth of U.S. food, agricultural commodities, and seafood products in 2020. This year, the target is even higher at $43.5 billion.

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Oil Industry Asking for Help with Rising Costs

The price of renewable fuel credits in the U.S. hit new multi-year highs this week. That has an oil refining trade group asking the White House for help in stabilizing the industry. Prices for the Renewable Identification Numbers have climbed all year as the costs of feedstocks like soybean oil continue to climb higher. Reuters says the American Fuel and Petrochemical Manufacturers group sent a letter on Monday to the Environmental Protection Agency saying that uncertainty about blending obligations for 2021-2022, which have been delayed since missing a November 30 deadline, is contributing to the rising cost of RINs. The group says the high RIN prices threaten the viability of refiners already hard-hit by COVID-19s effect on fuel demand. Renewable fuel credits for 2021 were trading at $1.43 each earlier this week, the highest price since 2013. Also, in the letter to the EPA, the group is asking the agency to finalize proposed extended compliance deadlines for the RFS and urging the EPA to consider the demand destruction brought on by COVID-19 as it decides on the blending requirements for 2021.

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Tai Confirmed as U.S. Trade Representative

Katherine Tai is the new U.S. Trade Representative. CNBC Dot Com says Tai, a critic of Chinese trade practices, was confirmed by a Senate vote of 98-0. She’s the first Asian American woman and the first woman of color to fill the USTR spot since the position was created 60 years ago. Her confirmation comes as the Biden Administration attempts to move away from the previous administration’s more belligerent tone in dealing with China while also taking a tough U.S. stance against the rival economic power. Several times between 2007 and 2014, Tai successfully argued the U.S. case against China’s trade practices before the World Trade Organization. “There’s also a lot of gray areas where the rules aren’t as clear, or where we don’t have rules yet,” she said last month. Tai also wants the U.S. to work together with other countries to confront China on its trade policies. When testifying before the Senate Finance Committee in February, Tai said she wanted to hold China to its Phase One commitments in the agreement negotiated by the Trump administration. While her predecessor, Robert Lighthizer, used tariffs against China, Tai didn’t say she’d add any additional duties on Chinese goods but did say there are “legitimate tools in the trade toolbox.”

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Senate Approves Haaland as New Secretary of the Interior

The Senate confirmed New Mexico Democratic Representative Deb Haaland (Holland) as the new Secretary of the Interior. The Hagstrom Report says Haaland is the first American Indian to hold the post. Native American groups applauded her confirmation, but there is controversy over her views on oil and gas leases on federal land and fracking. The vote was 51-40, with four Republicans joining with Democrats in favor of her confirmation. She earned bipartisan support to take over the department that employs a staff of 70,000 people and oversees the country’s natural resources. The agency manages a total of 50 million acres of land, which is one-fifth of the surface area of the U.S. During the hearing, Haaland emphasized her ability to work across the aisle. During her first year in the House, Haaland introduced more bills with a co-sponsor from another party than any other House freshman. Those stats come from the website Gov Track Dot Com, which also rates her as the tenth most politically left member of Congress.  

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EU Crops off to “Fair Start” After Rapid Temperature Change

The European Union’s MARS weather forecasting agency says it’s been a fair start to the spring for winter crops in Europe. Cold spells in February were followed by warm weather that kick-started plant growth. A MARS monthly report says cold weather in southern Russia has likely caused some damage to winter crops. Temps in parts of western and northern Europe swung a long way, going from five degrees above zero to 59 degrees during February. The agency says, “The warm weather contributed to rapid snowmelt and the restart of growth and development after winter dormancy.” Based on trend models, MARS now says it expects 2021 yields to be higher than the disappointing yields of recent years. EU wheat sales will likely rise 3.1 percent year-over-year and 3.5 percent over the prior five-year average. Soil moisture levels shouldn’t be problematic for EU farmers, as even the eastern EU countries all have moisture levels above critical thresholds.

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Syngenta Selects Site for North American Crop Protection Headquarters

Syngenta has selected its current campus location on Swing Road in Greensboro, North Carolina, as the place to redevelop its North American Crop Protection headquarters. The announcement follows a comprehensive assessment of the company’s future needs and multiple site options in North Carolina and several other states. The company intends to build a more than 100,000 square-foot office building to connect with its existing laboratory facility on the north side of the 70-acre campus. Plans also include a complete renovation of the lab facilities. The new workspace will support approximately 650 employees and 100 contract workers. “The Syngenta family in Greensboro has been part of the fabric of this community for many decades,” says Vern Hawkins, president of Syngenta Crop Protection. “It’s our goal to remain in Greensboro for many years to come.” Construction will begin on the new building later this year. The entire project will take about three years to complete. The redeveloped headquarters will include contemporary work and conference spaces, health, wellness, and fitness centers, a cafeteria, auditorium, coffee areas, and many other amenities.

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.