READ the NAFB’s National Ag News for Friday, July 2nd

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USDA to Review Product of USA Labeling

The Federal Trade Commission Thursday voted to strengthen its enforcement of the Made in USA standard. Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack responded, “American consumers depend upon accurate, transparent labels to obtain important information about the food they consume.” The FTC requires products to display a country of origin. However, if the products are imported and produced in the United States, they can display the Made in USA label. USDA announced last year the intention to conduct rulemaking to address the concern that the voluntary “Product of USA” label may confuse consumers about the origin of food products. Following that effort, Vilsack says USDA is initiating a top-to-bottom review of the “Product of USA” label. Vilsack says the review will help determine what the label means to consumers. Vilsack adds, “I am committed to ensuring that the Product of USA label reflects what a plain understanding of those terms means to U.S. consumers.”

Dairy Industry Urges Renewal of Trade Promotion Authority

Dairy groups call on the Biden Administration to seek renewal of Presidential Trade Promotion Authority, which expired Thursday. The National Milk Producers Council and U.S. Dairy Export Council say the move will foster further expansion of U.S. dairy exports. TPA lays out congressional expectations for trade agreements negotiated by the administration and establishes a clear pathway for straightforward congressional input. To remain globally competitive, future trade agreements are vital for U.S. dairy farmers, workers, and manufacturers, according to the groups.  The call for renewal comes on the one-year anniversary of the U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement, enacted with the help of TPA. For dairy, USMCA provisions established improvements to market access in Canada and set clear standards for trade with Mexico. USDEC President and CEO Krysta Harden states, “Our ability to retain foreign customers in an increasingly competitive global dairy market is absolutely essential to farmers and dairy manufacturing facilities employing workers here at home.”

United States, Taiwan Talk Trade and Investments Priorities

The United States and Taiwan held the eleventh Trade and Investment Framework Agreement, or TIFA, Council meeting this week. The discussions, held virtually, focused on enhancing the longstanding trade and investment relationship between the United States and Taiwan. The TIFA establishes council meetings as the key mechanism for trade and investment dialogue between the U.S. and Taiwan. At the TIFA Council meeting, U.S. officials emphasized the importance of the U.S.-Taiwan trade and investment relationship and expressed a desire for stronger and more consistent engagement going forward. The U.S. and Taiwan authorities committed to intensify engagement aimed at addressing outstanding trade concerns, including market access barriers facing U.S. beef and pork producers, as well as concerns raised by the U.S. in areas such as copyright legislation, digital piracy, financial services, investment and regulatory transparency.  Taiwan is the United States’ 9th largest goods trading partner, with two-way goods trade totaling $90.9 billion in 2020. 

NPPC Calls for Labor Reform, Launches New Foreign Worker Campaign

The National Pork Producers Council Thursday introduced a campaign, “Year-Round Pork Needs Year-Round Workers.” The campaign highlights the vital role of foreign-born workers across the U.S. pork industry and the need for comprehensive labor reform to address a labor shortage. NPPC President Jen Sorensen says, “Unfortunately, current visa programs don’t provide access to enough workers to meet our labor needs on farms and in plants.” The campaign features the stories of four foreign-born workers and their employers in the U.S. pork industry. NPPC is urging Congress to address labor reform that both opens the H-2A visa program to year-round labor, without a cap, and provides legal status for agricultural workers already in the country. NPPC says pork producers offer jobs with good pay and benefits, but most Americans do not live near hog farms or harvest facilities and rural populations continue to decline, causing the industry to be largely dependent on foreign-born workers.

CoBank: China Changes Buying Tactics as U.S. Grains Turn Volatile

China shook up the U.S. feed grain export market over the last year, purchasing massive quantities of U.S. soybeans, sorghum and corn. A new report CoBank’s Knowledge Exchange finds the outlook for continued U.S. grain exports to China remains strong, primarily due to its projected growth in pork production. However, the current U.S. grain run has entered a new phase marked by significant price volatility, and China is leveraging that volatility to its advantage. A CoBank researcher says, “The increased volatility in grain prices has led China to shift its buying pattern to wait for price weakness before committing to additional purchases, as well as to contract now for the next marketing year.” China’s heightened demand resulted in record-high grain prices that peaked in May and have since been extremely volatile. A period of elevated price volatility, coupled with an ongoing inverted futures curve, means that grain elevators and merchandisers will require capital discipline and excess liquidity.

Upper Midwest Drought Impacting Missouri River Navigation Season

The Missouri River Water Management Division will reduce navigation flow support for the second half of the navigation flow support season. Drought conditions continue in the upper Missouri River basin, where river flows are managed by a series of lakes and dams. Downstream, this means reduced flows coming from Gavins Point dam near Yankton, South Dakota, lowering the flow of river navigation channels. Reducing navigation support is a necessary water conservation measure to ensure continued service to all stakeholders for the short- and long-term.  The decrease in stage due to the reduced flow support will be less than half a foot. Actual stages will depend on the amount, timing, and location of tributary inflow below Gavins Point dam. Per the July 1 System storage check, and as outlined in the Missouri River Mainstem Reservoir System Master Water Control Manual, the service level to support navigation will be reduced 1,500 cubic feet per second from full-service levels. 

SOURCE: NAFB News Service

By Tucker Allmer - The BARN

Tucker 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.