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National Ag News for June 24, 2022

USTR Says Tariffs Give U.S. “Leverage” on China

The U.S. has tariffs in place on over $300 billion worth of Chinese imports. U.S. Trade Representative Katherine Tai says those duties give the U.S. significant leverage on China, making them useful when negotiating with the Asian nation. Bloomberg says a debate is ongoing among members of the Biden administration on whether to keep those tariffs in place for the time being. “The China tariffs, in my view, are a significant piece of leverage, and a trade negotiator never walks away from leverage,” Tai said during Senate testimony. Biden recently said he’s in the process of deciding on whether to remove any of the duties first put in place by President Trump in 2018. Tai also points out that removing the tariffs would have a limited impact on the rapid rise in inflation. Earlier this month, Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen said that a reduction in duties may help bring down prices.

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Iowa State University Report Says No Price Gouging on Fertilizer

A report from Iowa State University says fertilizer prices are four times higher than they were in 2020. While crop prices have doubled during the same period, higher fertilizer prices are contributing to rising costs in farm country. Iowa’s Attorney General requested the ISU report in February while questioning the justification of higher prices. Yahoo News says the six economists who wrote the report found no conclusive evidence that fertilizer companies are artificially inflating prices. The 58-page report says price increases are tied several factors, like supply chain disruptions, disease outbreaks, and many other factors. “We aren’t saying there’s no market manipulation at all,” says Chad Hart, an ISU economist. “We just can’t tease out if it was one of the components.” The ISU Center for Agricultural and Rural Development says researchers need more data to determine if companies are raising prices far beyond the level needed to offset rising costs.

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Some G-7 Leaders to Push for Temporary Waivers on Biofuel Mandates

Leaders from the G-7 countries will meet on Sunday, and biofuel mandates will be among the discussion topics. Officials from Germany, Britain, and other G-7 members will push for temporary waivers on biofuel mandates to combat rapidly rising food prices. Reuters says the food crisis sparked by the Ukraine war has led to a food versus fuel debate among certain G-7 countries. Some policymakers are asking to ease mandates for blending biofuels into gasoline and diesel to increase the supply of global grain and vegetable oil. A British government official told Reuters, ”We’re quite keen to look at the issue of biofuel mandates to ensure that crops are prioritized for food consumption and not necessarily for use in fuels.” It’s not known ahead of the meeting on Sunday if there is enough support to temporarily waive biofuel mandates among the G-7 members. Talks are said to be in the preliminary stages.

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North American-Owned Grain Terminals Hit in Ukraine

Two grain terminals owned by companies in North America were hit by a Russian attack in Ukraine. The University of Illinois’ farm policy news website says Canadian agribusiness Viterra, and U.S. grain trader Bunge said they had a grain terminal hit on Wednesday. Viterra reported that it had a terminal on fire. While there were no casualties, Viterra did say one employee was injured at the plant, which had been closed since Russia’s invasion began. The attack on Wednesday is also the second time Bunge has been targeted. Ukraine’s grain exports have dropped significantly from last year. During the first 22 days of June, exports were down 48 percent from 2021 at 907,000 tons. Russia is preventing shipments from Ukraine’s Black Sea ports, trapping thousands of tons of grain in the country. Experts say setting up alternative export routes won’t be sufficient enough quantities to keep up with global food demand.

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Smithfield Foods Ranked on LinkedIn’s List of Top Companies

Smithfield Foods was named to LinkedIn’s Top Companies: Industry Edition List. Smithfield is ranked as one of the best workplaces for professionals to grow their careers in nine U.S. industries, including financial services, retail and consumer goods, and several others. “We take pride in being an industry leader at Smithfield and are honored that LinkedIn recognized our ongoing efforts to be an employer of choice,” says Keira Lombardo, chief administrative officer with Smithfield. “Our people are our greatest asset. Supporting our team members and their career growth continues to be a top priority for our company.” The LinkedIn platform’s Top Companies: Industry Edition List is designed to celebrate people and companies with more than 500 employees that are making an impact in the professional world. The platform’s methodology assesses data driving insight into company attributes, like professionals’ ability to advance, skills growth, company stability, external opportunity, company affinity, and others.

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U.S. Domestic Honey Production Falls and Imports Rise

U.S. honey production has dropped by 1.4 percent per year during the past three decades, while honey imports have grown by 7.6 percent every year, so imports have been filling the domestic supply deficit. Imports have exceeded domestic honey production since 2005 and accounted for 74 percent of U.S. honey supplies in 2021. The top three foreign suppliers are India, Vietnam, and Argentina, and together they supply more than 71 percent of the total imports. Honey imports grew as domestic consumption of honey and honey-sweetened products increased. The expansion reached an all-time high last year when domestic production was at its lowest volume since 1991. During 2021, production in all three of the major honey-producing states, including North Dakota, South Dakota, and California, were 25 percent below 1991 levels, while production in the rest of the U.S. declined by almost half during the same period. Shrinking market production was mainly due to decreased honey production per colony.

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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.

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