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Humane Farming wants USDA to take action against farmers that lose livestock in severe weather

Meat + Poultry | Posted on April 19, 2017

The Humane Farming Association (HFA) is asking the US Dept. of Agriculture to take action against livestock owners who don’t protect their animals from severe weather. HFA filed a petition with the agency to cease payments to producers under USDA Livestock Indemnity Program (LIP), which compensates livestock producers who incur losses from inclement weather. Producers can receive compensation in the amount of 75 percent of the animals’ market value up to $125,000 per year, HFA said.A Freedom of Information Act request produced records showing that in the last three years, LIP issued payments of $134,140,346 to farmers and ranchers for animal deaths due primarily to weather-related issues. Total animal deaths included 202,445 livestock and 2,461,443 poultry, according to HFA.

Reshaping NAFTA could benefit Mexico, Brazil, and Argentina

U.S. News & World Report | Posted on April 19, 2017

Among other threats targeting Mexico during his election campaign, U.S. President Donald Trump harshly criticized the North American Free Trade Agreement.   As Trump has pointed out, NAFTA contributed to a U.S. trade deficit with Mexico reaching US$63.2 billion last year. This is the country's fourth-largest trade deficit, after China, Japan and Germany. America's deficit with the other NAFTA nation, Canada, was slightly over US$11 billion in 2016.But that's only part of the story. Remove cars and auto part imports, for example, and the U.S. deficit with Mexico virtually disappears. Overall, NAFTA has been beneficial to Mexico, Canada and the U.S. alike. Since it was signed in 1994, foreign direct investments (FDI) in Mexico have averaged 2.6 percent of GDP (compared to 1 percent for two decades before NAFTA). At present, annual bilateral trade between the U.S. and Mexico is running at US$580 billion. Much of Trump's outdated protectionist rhetoric hinges on manufacturing, outsourcing of jobs to Mexico and immigration. Agriculture – a key link between the two nations – does not seem to have entered his calculations.Globalization may have contributed to manufacturing job losses in the U.S., but it has had significant benefits for the American agricultural sector. U.S. exports of agricultural products to Mexico have increased nearly fivefold since NAFTA was signed.For the 2014–15 crop marketing year, U.S. corn production was 360 million metric tons, 13 percent of which was exported. Mexico accounted for 23 percent of these exports.In 2016, Mexico imported US$17.9 billion in American agricultural products: US$2.6 billion in corn, US$1.5 billion in soybeans, US$1.3 billion in pork and US$1.2 billion in dairy products.Around 98 percent of the corn that forms a staple of the Mexican diet comes from the U.S. Mexico also buys 7.8 percent of all U.S. pork production.As America threatens to close its agricultural export door, it has damaged Mexico's confidence in the reliability of its major supplier – perhaps permanently. In a January 2017 Washington Post opinion piece, former Mexican president Ernesto Zedillo wrote that it was a "waste of time" to play "NAFTA tweaking games with the Trump Administration."Though Mexico currently has free trade agreements with 45 countries (more than any other country in the world), agriculture has consistently been the most sensitive issue in Mexico's free trade agreements. Trump has changed that.Today, the country is accelerating its search for new partners to meet its national agricultural needs. Sensing long-term opportunities, Brazil and Argentina – both major exporters of beef, wheat, soybeans and other prized U.S. agricultural products – are elbowing their way to the front of the queue. Neither currently has a free trade agreement with Mexico.


Future of U.S. exports

The Progressive Farmer | Posted on April 17, 2017

Lately, China has increasingly turned to South America to fill more bean demand. The U.S. has exported 26.74 mmt of soybeans to China so far in the 2015-16 marketing year. During the same period, U.S. soybean exports to China are down about 2.74 mmt from a year ago, but Brazil's exports to China are up 5 mmt and Argentina's soybean exports to China are up 1.8 mmt from a year ago, according to Informa Economics. "Brazil's currency is such that Brazil's farmers are selling everything they have got and U.S. producers are holding on to their beans waiting on higher prices," Sutter said.

iry farmers worry about trade to Mexico

The New York Times | Posted on April 17, 2017

U.S dairy farmers already struggling with low milk prices worry President Donald Trump's talk of renegotiating the North American Free Trade Agreement could harm trade to Mexico, its biggest export market. About 15 percent of dairy production in the United States is exported with one-third valued at $1.2 billion going to Mexico in the form of milk powder, cheese and whey protein, according to the National Milk Producers Federation, which says trade with Mexico is its top priority. That's nearly double the value exported to Canada, the country's second biggest export market, according to the United States Department of Agriculture."The income of dairy farmers, whether they're in Vermont or California, depends heavily on our export to Mexico," said Jaime Castaneda, senior vice president responsible for domestic and international policy for the federation. Anything that happens that reduces the ability to trade products to Mexico will be troubling for dairy producers in the United States, said Scott Brown, a dairy economist with the University of Missouri."Can we renegotiate and get a better NAFTA deal? Only time will tell. Those trade agreements traditionally have taken a lot of time and effort to get everybody on the same page and we know we've benefited tremendously on the NAFTA agreement that we have," Brown said.



Fruit growers, poultry producers worry that anti-immigration rhetoric will hurt business

Penn Live | Posted on April 14, 2017

With this year's growing season about to get into full swing, the hardline anti-immigration rhetoric coming out of the White House is about to play out across the fields brimming with peach and apple blossoms. Increasingly fruit and vegetable growers like Peters are anxious that they will not be able to fill the thousands of jobs needed to operate and deliver their goods to markets."Certainly the political rhetoric will have an impact," Peters said. "Even before the rhetoric we didn't have enough workers.  The whole need for labor isn't something new that suddenly happened in the last three to four months." But growers are increasingly worried that the anti-immigration rhetoric has the potential of keeping workers away not only out of fear of deportation, but for those who enter legally, out of a desire to avoid being the target of hateful rhetoric."This year I don't think a lot are going to come out of fear," said Garcia, who has worked for Peters for the past four years. "A lot come from far away and they are scared that they will come all that way and the police can come and deport them. I think we are not going to see a lot of workers."

Trade Negotiations Sow Seeds of Doubt for U.S. Agriculture

Stratfor | Posted on April 14, 2017

Grant Wood's 1930 painting "American Gothic" is quintessential Americana. The austere depiction of a farmer and his land evokes the agrarian core that has long underpinned the United States' geopolitical strength. Today, the U.S. agricultural system is still central to the country's success, though it looks much different now than it did in Wood's time. Small family farms have given way to massive industrial operations, and the agricultural sector as a whole has become far more globalized. In fact, despite its reputation as the "breadbasket of the world," the U.S. agricultural sector depends as much on other countries as they depend on it. The United States exports more than 20 percent of its agricultural production by volume, and export revenues account for about 20 percent of net farm income. As productivity improves each year with help from technological advancements, moreover, it will outpace domestic demand, leaving exports to sustain the U.S. agricultural sector. But the extent to which they can depends in large part on the future of international trade deals such as NAFTA.

What Would You Change About the Federal Government?

OFW Law | Posted on April 14, 2017

President Trump issued an Executive Order (Reorganization EO) on March 13 directing the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) to submit a comprehensive plan to reorganize Executive Branch departments and agencies.  OMB has now issued a Memorandum for heads of Executive Departments and Agencies calling for a Comprehensive Plan for Reforming the Federal Government an Reducing the Federal Civilian Workforce.  The Memorandum calls for agencies to take immediate action to achieve near-term workforce reductions and cost savings, including planning for funding levels in the President’s Fiscal Year (FY) 2018 Blueprint; to develop a plan to maximize employee performance by June 30, 2017; and to submit an Agency Reform Plan to OMB this September as part of the agency’s FY 2019 Budget Submission.  An initial, high-level draft of the Agency Reform Plan is due to OMB by June 30. 

China's H7N9 bird flu death toll at 47 in March

Reuters | Posted on April 14, 2017

China reported 47 human fatalities from H7N9 bird flu in March, the national health authority said on Wednesday, compared with 61 deaths in February. It also reported 96 cases of human infection from H7N9 bird flu for last month.

Court requires CAFOs to report air emissions

Meatingplace (free registration required) | Posted on April 13, 2017

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit has thrown out a 2008 final rule issued by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) that had exempted concentrated animal feeding operations (CAFOs) from reporting when large quantities of hazardous materials such as ammonia and hydrogen sulfide are released into the air from animal waste. EPA had reasoned that such reports were unnecessary because a federal response was “impractical and unlikely,” the appeals court noted in its ruling.

NIFA Announces $2.4 Million to Relieve Veterinary Shortages

Bovine Vet Online | Posted on April 11, 2017

The U.S. Department of Agriculture's (USDA) National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA) today announced $2.4 million in available funding to relieve veterinarian shortage situations and support veterinary services. Funding is made through NIFA's Veterinary Services Grant Program (VSGP), authorized by the 2014 Farm Bill.