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National Ag News for July 19, 2022

International Trade Commission Rejects Fertilizer Duties in Win for Farmers

The U.S. International Trade Commission Monday ruled against imposing tariffs on nitrogen fertilizers imported from Russia and Trinidad and Tobago. The decision comes after CF Industries filed a petition with ITC in late 2021, requesting that the commission place tariffs on urea ammonium nitrate used in liquid fertilizers. Shortages and prices have since increased exponentially. National Corn Growers Association President Chris Edgington says, “This comes as a welcome relief,” adding, “We have been sounding the alarms and telling the ITC commissioners that tariffs will drive up input prices to even more unaffordable levels for farmers.” American Soybean Association President Brad Doyle says the ruling “will provide much-needed relief from tariffs for U.S. soybean growers and farmers across the country.” Few inputs have exhibited more price inflation than UAN, which has experienced a high price increase due largely due to the Russia-Ukraine conflict. Last month, agriculture groups asked ITC to take into consideration that price pressure experienced by commodity farmers has cascading effects that reverberate through the farm economy.

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Report: China Largest Global Funder of Agricultural R&D

While public agricultural research and development funding in the United States has trended downward in recent decades, several other major trading partners have increased their funding. USDA’s Economic Research Service reported Monday that China leads the world in agricultural research and development funding. The European Union’s expenditures have grown since 2000, as have the expenditures in India and Brazil. However, none experienced as rapid an increase as China, which became the largest funder of agricultural R&D after 2011, surpassing the European Union. By 2015, the last year for which the Economic Research Service has full data, China was spending more than $10 billion annually on agricultural R&D. That level of spending was roughly twice the U.S. expenditures in 2015 and nearly quintuple that of China’s own R&D spending in 2000. With China as a major importer of U.S. agricultural goods and Brazil a competitor to the U.S. in the global corn and soybean markets, these developments could impact U.S. export competitiveness.

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FAS Administrator Whitley Kicks Off Philippines Trade Mission

Foreign Agricultural Service Administrator Daniel Whitley arrived in Manila Monday to launch a USDA trade mission. The trade mission seeks to foster stronger ties and build economic partnerships between the United States and the Philippines. Whitley is joined by representatives from 29 U.S. agribusinesses and farm organizations and ten state agriculture departments interested in exploring export opportunities in the Philippines. Whitley says, “I’m confident the next few days will produce mutually beneficial results to help expand trade, increase collaboration on key issues impacting agriculture in both our countries, and ultimately strengthen Philippine food security.” This week, local staff from the FAS office in Manila will host business meetings between U.S. trade mission delegates and local companies seeking to import American food and farm products. The trade mission itinerary also includes three memoranda of understanding signing ceremonies, including one to launch a USDA-funded program to help combat African Swine Fever in the Philippines.

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Vilsack to Address Western Governors’ Association Annual Conference

Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack will travel to Idaho for a series of events next week, including addressing the Western Governors’ Association Annual Conference. The events are related to the Biden administration efforts to build climate resilience and recover from the impact of wildfires. USDA says Vilsack will visit a U.S. Forest Service tree nursery in Boise, Idaho, on July 25, and announce USDA efforts on climate mitigation and significant investments in reforestation and wildfire risk reduction funded in part by President Biden’s Bipartisan Infrastructure Law. On July 26, Vilsack will deliver a keynote address at the Western Governors’ Association Annual Conference. In his address, he will speak about challenges facing western communities and how state and federal governments can partner to address these challenges. Before his keynote, Secretary Vilsack will participate in a press conference with the governors in attendance, where he will discuss Bipartisan Infrastructure Law programs that will help communities reduce risk and build resilience against wildfire.

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Agriculture, Business Organizations Oppose Tax Increases

The National Pork Producers Council last week joined 191 agriculture and business organizations voicing opposition to two key changes to the tax code that may become part of a budget reconciliation bill. Media reports suggest Senate lawmakers want for non-corporate taxpayers to expand the current 3.8 percent Net Investment Income Tax to all non-wage income and expand and extend the “excess business loss limitation.” Both provisions were included in the $1.6 trillion budget reconciliation package of mostly social welfare and environmental spending approved by the House last fall. For pass-through entities such as most pork operations, the increase would directly impact the bottom line, limiting deductions of excess business losses would reduce the ability of farm operations to recover from bad years, according to NPPC. In a letter last month, the groups wrote, “In the face of a possible recession, 40-year high inflation, unprecedented supply-chain challenges, and chronic labor shortages, raising taxes on small, individually, and family-owned businesses is the wrong approach and should be rejected.”

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Overwhelming Interest in USDA Climate-Smart Commodities Opportunity

The Department of Agriculture says the second funding pool through the Partnerships for Climate-Smart Commodities opportunity received over 600 applications from over 400 groups. While USDA is in the process of calculating the total requested amount for the second funding pool, the overall interest in the opportunity already exceeds more than $18 billion. Undersecretary for Farm Production and Conservation, Robert Bonnie, says, “The results of the second funding pool clearly demonstrate the strong demand in the U.S. agriculture and forestry industry for solutions that expand markets for American producers.” The second funding pool, which closed on Friday, June 10, included proposals from $250,000 to $5 million that emphasize the enrollment of small and/or underserved producers, and/or monitoring, reporting and verification activities developed at minority-serving institutions. First-round proposals requested more than $18 billion and offered to match more than $8 billion in nonfederal dollars. The submissions are currently being reviewed, and selections are anticipated later this summer.        

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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.