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U.S. “Can’t Afford” Missing Out on USMCA

1 week, 4 days ago AFBF

View of U.S. Chamber of Commerce in letter sent to House members

The U.S. Chamber of Commerce continues its pressure for Congress to pass the U.S.-Mexico-Canada-Agreement. In a letter to all House of Representative members, the organization says the U.S. “cannot afford for enactment of USMCA to fall by the wayside.” The letter coins the term “No Rest Recess,” in calling on lawmakers to pass the agreement, following the current two-week recess. The Chamber says USMCA is critical to the economic future of the United States because it will preserve and strengthen U.S. trade ties, ensuring farmers, manufacturers, and small businesses continue to have access to the Canadian and Mexican markets. The future of the agreement rests with House Democrats and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi. Wednesday, Pelosi said the House is “making progress” on the agreement. Pelosi says the USMCA working group submitted its counter-proposal to the White House last week, adding the "the quiet you hear is progress," regarding negotiations with U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer. Pelosi has maintained that the House impeachment inquiry will not stall progress on the agreement.

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CoBank: Volatility Continues to Roil Ag Markets

Uncertainty over trade policy, weather and African swine fever dominated agricultural markets last quarter, causing greater volatility. A report just released by CoBank says issues in the market are affecting producers, supply chains and end users. Trade negotiation breakthroughs have largely remained elusive, and the U.S. agricultural sector is preparing for its second consecutive harvest under the shadow of hefty tariffs. A CoBank spokesperson responded that, "Global trade tensions are ratcheting up as world economic growth slows." Meanwhile, the historically late planting of the 2019 corn crop is creating extremely volatile cash corn prices. End users like ethanol producers and livestock feeders are biding old-crop corn supplies higher in anticipation of a short harvest this fall, with prices falling back to levels seen before spring planting. And, the report says the already volatile U.S. animal protein markets have gotten more volatile in the third quarter on nearly every front. The full Quarterly Rural Economic Review is available on cobank.com.

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USDA Opens Comment Period on Organic Origin of Livestock Rule

The Department of Agriculture this week reopened the public comment period for the National Organic Program Origin of Livestock proposed rule. First introduced in 2015, the proposal would add requirements about transitioning dairy animals to organic production. Current regulations provide two tracks for replacing dairy animals which are tied to how dairy farmers transition to organic production. The proposed action would eliminate the two-track system and require that upon transition, all existing and replacement dairy animals from which milk or milk products are intended to be sold, labeled, or represented as organic, must be managed organically from the last third of gestation. The National Organic Program received 1,580 public comments during the original comment period in 2015. USDA will consider all public comments in developing a final rule, including comments from 2015 and the new comment period. The comment period is open for 60 days and will close December 2, 2019.

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Deere Announces Layoffs amid Demand Declines

Deere & Company this week announced indefinite layoffs amid demand woes. Deere officials say more than 160 U.S. workers at agriculture machinery facilities in Illinois and Iowa will be laid off, after the company last week announced it would reduce production by 20 percent. Reuters says Deere, the world’s largest farm equipment maker, is reeling from the fallout of the U.S.-China trade war that has slowed purchases from farmers. The layoffs include roughly 50 workers at the Harvester Works facility in East Moline, Illinois, and more than 100 workers at the Davenport Works facility in Davenport, Iowa. Deere also lowered its income forecast to $3.2 billion in August, from the previous forecast in February set at $3.6 billion. In an August earnings report, Deere explained market concerns forced farmers to postpone major equipment purchases. The Association of Equipment Manufacturers in its monthly equipment sales report for August reported that overall sales numbers are flat to positive for the year, but the industry “remains cautious about the overall Ag economy.”

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NPB Calls for Pork Industry to Better Meet the Needs of Hispanic Consumers

A new report from the National Pork Board shows ways to capture market share in the biggest growth opportunity for U.S. pork producers. The report, “Time to Tango: Latinos are Pork’s Future,” reveals steps food retailers and packers can take to connect with influential consumers in the Hispanic community. According to the report, as Hispanic consumers become acculturated in the United States, the link between pork and culture weakens. Often, Hispanic consumers can't find the cuts they want for traditional dishes in mainstream stores, so they use other proteins or shop at specialty stores that offer the service to deliver the cuts they want. To maintain and increase loyalty among Hispanic consumers, the report outlines three key motivators retailers and packers must address, being accessibility, authenticity and health. The report is the first in a series the National Pork Board will provide in the months ahead to help the food industry better respond to Hispanic consumers' needs.

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National Chicken Council Unveils New Sustainability Resources

Through sustainability practices, U.S. chicken producers have significantly reduced the use of water, farmland, electricity, greenhouse gas emissions, and other valuable natural resources, according to the National Chicken Council. The organization in a new report says producing the same amount of chicken today as 1965 has 50 percent less impact on the environment. However, knowledge of the environmental impact of chicken among consumers is low. Only half of respondents to an NCC survey are moderately knowledgeable about chicken’s impact on the environment and the strides the industry has made. To help bridge the gap, answer questions and address misperceptions, NCC is unveiling several new resources related to environmental sustainability, including videos, infographics, farmer testimonials, FAQs, social squares, blog posts and more. The consumer resources are available online at www.chickencheck.in. The survey found the environmental impact of chicken is statistically as important as animal welfare in purchasing decisions by consumers. Half of the survey participants indicated a willingness to eat more chicken if they learned it is more sustainable than other protein sources. 

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Frustration is building among ethanol backers over the lack of a promised package of ethanol waiver 'fixes' from the White House.

So, where is it? President Donald Trump promised a package of 'fixes' for ethanol market losses to small oil refinery biofuel waivers weeks ago.

But, a Trump meeting with oil patch senators followed one with ethanol lawmakers, and now there’s impeachment, both feared as slowing White House decision-making.

Senate Finance Chair Chuck Grassley says he thought he had a deal with Trump to fix the waiver damage and give ethanol and corn growers, the 15-billion gallons promised…

“So, 15-billion gallons ought to be 15-billion gallons. In other words, let’s either do our job or get off the pot. In other words, let’s call this thing to an end. The EPA ought to put this down on paper and get it out. This is hurting the president more, in Iowa, than even, the China debate.”

Grassley complains that instead, the administration was still entertaining oil industry proposals to grant caps or rebates of ethanol credits, known as 'RINS.’

House Agriculture Committee Chair Collin Peterson doesn’t see a deal coming that satisfies both sides, and has introduced legislation…

“And, so what this bill does, is it requires them to notify us, the Congress, on the waivers, and why…the basis on which they’re giving them. We’re also wanting them to reallocate these gallons that were lost on the waiver situation.”

Instead of 15-billion gallons, Peterson says waived volumes have reduced the total to 13.6 billion gallons, not accounting for losses in earlier years. Trump’s June approval of year-round E-15 sales will add only some 50-million gallons in the first year.

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