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Articles from 2018 In March


Stoughton FFA

Mike Adams profiles Stoughton FFA, Stoughton, Wis.; an active chapter near Madison. Member Grace Link shares one of her favorite memories from being a member including her first officer team.

The weekly FFA Chapter Tribute is an opportunity to shine a spotlight on the good work of your local chapter. Tell us about what you're doing, give us some history from your group and tell our viewers of the work you do in the community. FFA chapters across the country deserve recognition for the work they do, make sure we include yours.

To have your chapter considered for this weekly feature, send along information about your group by e-mail to Max Armstrong at [email protected]. They'll get your group on the list of those that will be covered in the future. It's a chance to share your story beyond the local community. Drop Orion or Max a "line" soon.

The National FFA Organization, formerly known as Future Farmers of America, is a national youth organization of about 650,000 student members as part of 7,757 local FFA chapters. The National FFA Organization remains committed to the individual student, providing a path to achievement in premier leadership, personal growth and career success through agricultural education. For more, visit the National FFA Organization online www.ffa.org, on Facebook at facebook.com/nationalffa, on Twitter at twitter.com/nationalffa.

1960 John Deere 430

Max Armstrong shares the story a John Deere 430 with an interesting color scheme - in red - owned by John Craig, Mentone, Ind. This was really sold in that color by John Deere, as Max explains.

Max's Tractor Shed is a regular feature of This Week in Agribusiness. If you have a tractor story you'd like to share for this feature, contact Max at [email protected]

This Week in Agribusiness - March 31, 2018

Note: Start the video and all parts will play through as the full show

Part 1

Max Armstrong and Mike Adams open this week's show with a look at the challenges facing the U.S. Dairy Industry, including work to expand trade to build demand for milk and milk products. Max and Mike talk markets with Paul Georgy, Allendale, Inc., including a look at the planting intentions report.

Part 2

Max Armstrong and Mike Adams continue their market conversation with Paul Georgy, Allendale, Inc. Chad Colby, Colby AgTech, looks at the rising use of wireless cameras and their potential around the farm. Agricultural Meteorologist Greg Soulje looks at weather in the Western United States. And in the Bayer Farm Challenge of the Week, Max Armstrong looks at the importance of using a herbicide with multiple modes of action.

Part 3

Max Armstrong and Mike Adams share a report from Delaney Howell looking at a program at Iowa State University aimed at helping creating agricultural entrepreneurs. Max looks at a 1955 Chevrolet 4400 straight truck owned by Rock Katsching, Prophetstown, Ill.

Part 4

Max Armstrong offer a story about Woods Equipment Company, and how the company uses producer input to help develop products, including the company's newest Batwing mowers. Ag Meteorologist Greg Soulje looks at weather for the Eastern United States. And in Max's Tractor Shed, Max Armstrong shares the story a 1960 John Deere 430 with an interesting color scheme - in red - owned by John Craig, Mentone, Ind. This was actually sold in that color by John Deere, as Max explains.

Part 5

Max Armstrong and Mike Adams talks with Farm Broadcaster Lynn Ketelsen, Linder Farm Network, Owatonna, Minn., about what farmers are focused on in his part of the country including thoughts of spring.

Part 6

Mike Adams profiles Stoughton FFA, Stoughton, Wis.; an active chapter near Madison. Member Grace Link shares one of her favorite memories from being a member including her first officer team. Ag Meteorologist Greg Soulje looks at weather for the week ahead.

Part 7

Max Armstrong and Mike Adams wrap up the show with a report from Patrick Haggerty who visited with the American Soybean Association to talk about global trade issues, and the current market uncertainty. And Mike Adams offers a timely look at egg demand, which is up, with a look at the top 10 egg-producing states. And Orion Samuelson is celebrating his birthday, send your good wishes to [email protected]

MIDDAY-MidwestDigest-03-30-18

If you’re keeping an eye on the cost of money to buy a home, the mortgage rates did not go up this week. The 15-year fixed rate slid. Mortgage experts are split on where they are headed.

This was the week USDA gave us a peak at what farmers are planting this year. Farmers said plant less than 90 million acres each to corn and soybeans. There is slight tendency for numbers to be higher for corn and soybeans in report than what is actually planted.

Orion Samuelson is 84 this weekend. Orion is from Norwegian area of Wisconsin.

MORNING-MIdwestDigest-03-30-18

Many of us will have to cover our Easter finery with coats this weekend. It appears it could be coolest Easter in 10 years in Quad Cities.

This just doesn’t look good. If police are trying to question you and you bail out of moving car while it’s moving.

The bulls came out of hiding yesterday after release of Prospective Planting report. Farmers always complaining about USDA reports being bearish should tack this one up somewhere, Farm Futures analyst Bryce Knorr says.

Tax time. The clock is ticking. April 17 is the deadline this year. IRS is auditing fewer taxpayers than they were. Down to lowest level last year in 15 years. IRS has lost one-third of enforcement personnel since 2010.

Farm Progress America, March 30, 2018

Max Armstrong turns his attention to the American Egg Board, and its work to promote egg consumption. Max shares that the effort of the group may be working, as consumption is up. Max offers stats on the top table egg producing states; and he shares how dietary guideline changes may also have helped boost demand.

Farm Progress America is a daily look at key issues in agriculture. It is produced and presented by Max Armstrong, veteran farm broadcaster and host of This Week in Agribusiness.

Photo: Joe Readle/Getty Images

Proposed tariffs have ag industry on edge

Getty Images/Mark Wilson Dark storm clouds over the U.S. Capitol building

There’s never a good time for something bad to happen.

That is what’s potentially happening across the U.S. ag industry and rural America as retaliatory rhetoric is being spewed in response to President Donald Trump’s proposed tariffs on steel and aluminum on countries around the world, with a few exemptions.

China is one of the main targets of these tariffs, and as with any proposed tariffs, the Chinese government has threatened retaliation. The Chinese threat has been estimated to come in the form of tariffs of their own on approximately $3 billion worth of goods including pork, steel pipes, fruit and wine.

Trade is imperative to a thriving U.S. agriculture industry, and quite possibly the means of survival for a lot of American producers. International trade has been treading on tenuous ground ever since Donald Trump assumed his role as president of the United States.

Early in his term in office, he followed through on campaign promises to pull out of the Trans-Pacific Partnership and the North American Free Trade Agreement. The remaining 11 countries of the TPP have moved on without the United States, while U.S., Canadian and Mexican officials continue to renegotiate the double-decades old NAFTA, working to resolve and update the trade pact.

“We’re so fortunate in this country that we grow whatever we can use. Trade is really our safety net. We like to think of the farm bill and crop insurance and commodity programs are good risk management tools, but our safety net over the years has really been that 95.6% of the people that don’t live in the United States that want more protein and want to do better,” says Kevin Paap, president of the Minnesota Farm Bureau. “This is the worst possible time (to disrupt export channels) in that 52% drop net farm income in the last five years, this is the fifth year of declining farm income, so with those concerns, and a lot if it is the low prices, and the best way to increase commodity prices is to increase demand. It’s not worth anything sitting on the farm, so by increasing that demand and by using 95.6% of the world’s market share seems so important to us.”

Dale Norton, former president of the National Pork Board and hog producer from Bronson, Mich., says even though China has not always been a consistent customer for U.S. pork, he fears what retaliation may mean. “If tariffs are put on Chinese products, China will likely retaliate with tariffs on our pork and other agricultural products. They will do this to hit hard at the middle American electorate that likely voted for Trump. Tariffs on our pork will raise the price to the Chinese people who will the buy less. It will lower prices to producers like us at a time when production levels are becoming overbearing,” he writes in an email.

Kent Bang, Compeer Financial vice president of Swine Lending, has spent time with his producer-clients and says the general consensus is that agriculture will take the brunt of any trade war with China and that the meat industry and pork specifically is an easy target.

“Timing of a trade war, if it were to continue, couldn’t be much worse from a supply standpoint in the pork sector. Not only do we have record pork production in the U.S., but we have increasing supplies of beef and broiler meat,” Bang writes in an email. “Other clients believe that the impact will be fairly minimal as pork imports to China are an easy decision at this time as the price for pork in China for a domestic product is quite low relative to recent history. North America will likely continue to export pork to China and there could be a fix to the tariff issue before too long.”

Paap says all this trade banter is coming at a bad time with a lot of uncertainty in the ag world. “We have uncertainty with the farm bill, uncertainty with the RFS (Renewable Fuels Standard) and adding value that way. It seems like a lot of things are piling on at once. … if it were just the China discussion, it would be bad enough, but we also have NAFTA, then we have the other 11 countries in TPP moving on forward without us, and we’re not at that dance.”

Market analysts say to take the trade rhetoric with a grain of salt. China is not our only trade partner but any trade disruption will be negative. Kevin Bost, president of Procurement Strategies in Des Plaines, Ill., says, “Frankly, I do not see it as a market mover. It is not a great big chunk of business.”

Steve Meyer of Kerns and Associates says U.S. pork exports to China and Hong Kong account for 66% of our byproducts and only 9% of our muscle meat. China is important to the byproduct value.

Looking at the bigger picture, John Nalivka, president of Sterling Markets, notes 27% of total U.S. pork exports go to Mexico, 16% to Japan and 5% to China. “In the bigger scheme of things when you talk about trade, the North American trade is more critical,” he says.

Norton fears this tariff talk will undo trade progress that has been made. “Trade of American agricultural products has been a bright spot in our economy,” he writes. “It has taken a long time to build the relationships that allow for beneficial trade to take place. A trade war would destroy those relationships and truly be a shame.”

Paap agrees, “that it’s time that we need to remind people that it’s a lot easier to avoid a trade war than it is to stop one. … we must be getting old because there are a lot of people who really don’t remember the Russian grain embargo and what that did to our markets and our farm income for a significant amount of time. … Hopefully cooler heads will prevail.”

“We’ve got to make sure our elected officials realize and understand how important exports are to agriculture,” Paap says. “We’re very dependent. We need to tell our elected officials just how important this is, and not just for agriculture, but rural America.”

Though the timing of tariffs is never good, Paap sees these discussions and the Easter recess provide a good time to add a side dish of trade talk to Congressional leaders’ Easter ham while they are back in their home areas. “Hopefully they will get an earful from those it will be affecting,” Paap says, “We need to keep the pressure on. I hope we’re considering the consequences.”

Hopefully, these wars of words will remain in the rhetoric stage and not develop into true trade wars.

U.S. and Korea reach agreement

National Pork Board U.S. pork in an Asian meat display case

The United States and South Korea reached an agreement that modifies the six-year old United States-Korea Free Trade Agreement by addressing the administration’s concerns regarding autos. The agreement will allow the United States to sell more autos and auto parts while sparing South Korea the steel tariffs announced by the United States last week. There are no changes in the agreement that will affect agriculture tariffs.

KORUS has been a significant trade agreement for U.S. agriculture. South Korea is the sixth largest market for U.S. agriculture. The United States exported $6.9 billion in agricultural products in 2017. South Korea is the second largest market for U.S. beef, third for corn, fifth for pork and third for fresh fruit.

Dan Halstrom, president of the U.S. Meat Export Federation, says, “The announcement of a successfully revised KORUS trade agreement comes as excellent news for the U.S. beef and pork industries because it helps ensure that we will continue to be able to serve the growing South Korean market and a critically important customer base. The United States is the largest supplier of beef to Korea and trails only the European Union as the second-largest pork supplier. U.S. red meat exports to Korea set a record last year of $1.7 billion, up 19% year-over-year and up 69% from 2012.”

Under the agreement:

• Autos — The United States will be able to double to 50,000 the number of autos each U.S. automaker can sell to South Korea without meeting local safety standards. In 2016, the United States exported 16,400 passenger vehicles.

• Trucks — South Korea will lift the cap on imports of U.S. trucks and the United States will extend its 25% tariff on imported pickup-trucks until 2041. The tariff was originally set to expire in 2021.

• Auto parts — South Korea will eliminate various environmental and “country-of-origin” labeling regulations on U.S. imports that will make it easier to sell American-made auto parts.

• Steel — South Korea will limit its steel exports to the United States to approximately 2.7 million tons per year which is about 70% of current exports. In exchange the United States will not impose the 25% tariff announced last week.

• Aluminum — The 10% tariff on aluminum will remain.

Trump asks for TPA extension
President Trump is requesting a three-year extension of Trade Promotion Authority. This will give him authority to negotiate free trade agreements that he can then submit to Congress under fast track approval procedures.

Trump says, “I hope my administration can continue to work with the Congress to pursue new and better trade deals for America’s workers, farmers, ranchers and businesses. Extension of trade authorities procedures is essential to fulfill that task and to demonstrate to our trading partners that my administration and the Congress share a common goal when it comes to trade.”

Trade Promotion Authority was last passed by Congress in 2015.

Coalition says retaliation hurts rural families
A coalition of national and state agricultural associations and companies launched an initiative, “Retaliation Hurts Rural Families,” to oppose President Trump’s decision to impose tariffs on steel and aluminum imports, as well as goods from China.

The goal is to educate administration officials and Congressional members how retaliatory tariffs could result in job losses and decreased market access for U.S. farm products.

Casey Guernsey of the coalition says, “The reality is that the Trump administration’s tariffs on imported steel and aluminum would result in retaliation from other nations eliminating hundreds of thousands of jobs as evidenced by a recent study. Already, the European Union has produced a list of targets for retaliation meaning billions of import taxes on American products, which directly and negatively impact various agricultural commodities. This is not a hypothetical discussion, it is real job losses and real lack of market access, which will hurt rural families and the agricultural industry.”

The initiative is sponsored by Americans for Farmers and Families coalition. Members of the coalition include the American Farm Bureau Federation, American Soybean Association, Animal Health Institute, National Association of Wheat Growers, National Corn Growers Association, National Pork Producers Council and National Turkey Federation.

Group asks for increase in ag research
The Friends of the Agricultural Research Service Coalition is urging Congress to reject the administration’s proposed cuts for agricultural research and provide $1.35 billion in discretionary funding for ARS for fiscal year 2019. The administration’s fiscal year ’19 budget also proposes closing 20 ARS facilities located throughout the United States.

The coalition in a letter to Congressional leaders says the U.S.’s “premier agricultural research programs are struggling to keep pace with innovation, emerging challenges and global competition, while our national research facilities continue to defer necessary maintenance.” They also say the proposed ARS funding cuts would “cause job loss across the country, undermine the health of our children and elderly and threaten our nation’s competitiveness as a leader in agricultural research and innovation.”

Those signing the letter include American Seed Trade Association, American Society of Animal Sciences, National Association for the Advancement of Animal Science, National Association of State Departments of Agriculture, National Association of Wheat Growers, National Cattlemen’s Beef Association and North American Meat Institute.

MIDDAY-MidwestDigest-03-29-18

Officials in Kansas have announced plans for full safety compliance audit at amusement park where 10-year-old boy was killed a couple years ago. A woman was injured at the park last year, but the incident wasn’t made public.

From this week in agribusiness, are you aware of how much productivity has increased in egg laying? Each hen lays 279 eggs per year. Rate of lay is substantially better than it was in the 1980s.

Eagles will prick tiny hole in each egg to allow each egg to breathe. One eaglets are hatched, one will stay with while other hunts for first two weeks. After 10-12 weeks, they will take first flight.

Lighthizer 'hopeful' NAFTA deal can be reached 'in the next little bit'

Chris Kleponis/Pool/GettyImages Robert Lighthizer
U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer at the White House in August 2017.

by Greg Quinn, Josh Wingrove and Andrew Mayeda

Robert Lighthizer’s trial balloon of seeking a stopgap NAFTA deal has caught the attention of counterparts with Canada hailing recent progress, saying it remains ready to bargain while warning that gaps remain. 

The U.S. Trade Representative said Wednesday he’s “hopeful’’ of reaching a deal “in the next little bit” with Canada and Mexico to update the North American Free Trade Agreement. “If there’s a real effort made to try to close out and to compromise and do some of the things we all know we should do, I’m optimistic we can get something done in principle in the next little bit,” he said in an interview on CNBC television. 

The path forward is unclear. Canada’s chief negotiator, Steve Verheul, said he didn’t know what an “in principle’’ deal would look like and “significant gaps” remain. The desire for faster talks hasn’t been followed up with Canada and Mexico being given a firm date or an invitation to attend the next round of talks expected in April in Washington.

‘Short Window’

Lighthizer is pushing to sew something up before Mexico’s July election, and ahead of Trump’s threat to impose steel and aluminum tariffs on Canada and Mexico as early as May 1 –- a “short window,’’ he said. Canadian Foreign Minister Chrystia Freeland said afterward she saw Lighthizer’s comments but gave little indication she viewed them as a major shift -- instead saying her country remains willing to work around the clock to get a deal.

“It is quite standard in trade agreements, in trade negotiations, as you get closer to the finish line to start reaching agreements in principle on key issues,” Freeland said, speaking to reporters by phone from Seoul on Thursday. “We don’t have a deal yet,’’ she said while noting the progress so far, including on the key issue of autos.

Politicians from the U.S., Canada and Mexico are showing increasing optimism they can reach a deal as negotiators prepare for what would be the eighth round of talks. President Donald Trump and Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau have spoken recently about the need for a quick deal. Trudeau recently took a step Trump called for to toughen regulations ensuring that countries such as China aren’t dumping steel into the U.S. through Canada.

Korea Deal 

“We have yet to see exactly what the U.S. means by an agreement in principle,” Verheul said after meeting union leaders. “And if we are going to achieve that we would clearly require some considerable flexibility in U.S. positions, in order to be able to obtain that, as would Mexico.”

Canada has previously floated the idea of what its ambassador to Washington, David MacNaughton, called in February an “agreement in principle or whatever it is’’ that tackles four or five big issues. That would leave technical details and less-controversial issues to lower-level staff to hash out free of heavy political pressure.

The U.S. this week confirmed it has reached agreement in principle on a revised free-trade agreement with South Korea. Under the revamped deal, U.S. automakers will gain greater access to the South Korean market. The two countries are also working on a related agreement on currency manipulation aimed at securing Seoul’s commitment to avoid competitive devaluations of its currency. 

The new U.S. trade accord with South Korea suggests Trump may be in a mood to make deals, not start trade wars. Under an agreement-in-principle with the U.S., South Korea will double a cap on American automakers to 50,000 cars per year. But most U.S. carmakers aren’t anywhere close to the new limit, suggesting the near-term boost to sales will be minimal. Trump previously called the South Korea deal a “disaster,” and threatened to scrap it. 

The European Union is also locked in talks with the U.S., trying to secure a permanent waiver from the steel and aluminum tariffs. The European Commission, the bloc’s executive arm, warned ambassadors this week that it was worried that Trump was seeking to upend the World Trade Organization system and replace it with a new commercial order, according to a person with knowledge of the discussions. The commission also believes a deal by May 1, Trump’s deadline, is not possible.

Freeland credited Lighthizer with presenting “some constructive ideas’’ on autos that helped them make progress on what she called the most difficult issue. She said “heartening’’ progress is being made on less-controversial “modernization’’ topics in the talks, and that Canada was very aware of the pressures of upcoming U.S. and Mexican elections.

There are still “significant gaps,” Verheul said, including on the auto sector, dispute settlement panels, government procurement, a U.S. proposal for a sunset clause and “a number of other issues.” The Canadian negotiator conceded that there’s room for progress but said the wheels aren’t yet in motion for talks. 

“So far, we haven’t really seen that process get going,” he said. “We have to see flexibility from all sides if we have any hope of making progress.”

--With assistance from Nikos Chrysoloras.

To contact the reporters on this story: Greg Quinn in Ottawa at [email protected]; Josh Wingrove in Ottawa at [email protected]; Andrew Mayeda in Washington at [email protected]

To contact the editors responsible for this story: Theophilos Argitis at [email protected]

Robert Jameson, Chris Fournier

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