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USDA Delays Deadline for Tariff Relief Applications

Ag Web | Posted on January 9, 2019

USDA has delayed the deadline for applications for the Market Facilitation Program (MFP) payments. Farmers had until Jan. 15 to apply for the tariff relief payments, but applications were stopped by the partial government shutdown when Farm Service Agency (FSA) offices closed December 28. USDA will resume taking applications for MFP when the government shutdown ends.  The deadline will extend for as many days as FSA offices are closed by the ongoing shutdown. The May 1 deadline for submitting 2018 production has not been changed according to a USDA spokesman. Farmers who applied for the program and had certified 2018 production before FSA offices closed on Dec. 28 will receive payments as scheduled despite the shutdown, according to USDA Under Secretary Bill Northey.

Trade war lingering for US chemicals

S & P Global | Posted on January 8, 2019

A 90-day pause on the Trump administration's plan to hike tariffs on $200 billion in Chinese goods in January may delay higher consumer costs for everything from tires to galoshes, but the US petrochemical industry remains among the top targets of tariffs already in place and there is no obvious end in sight.Petrochemical-heavy 25% tariffs the US imposed on Chinese goods in August are not part of the temporary trade detente reached by US President Donald Trump and Chinese President Xi Jinping in early December at the G-20 Summit in Argentina.The two leaders agreed the US would hold off on raising 10% tariffs to 25% on Chinese goods -- many of which involve finished plastics products -- to allow the two largest global economies to negotiate a trade deal.

Livestock haulers no longer must use electronic logging devices

Meating Place (free registration required) | Posted on January 3, 2019

The Department of Transportation in the last weeks of 2018 permanently suspended the requirement that livestock haulers use electronic logging devices (ELDs).A brief statement on the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration stated simply: “Transporters of livestock and insects are not required to have an ELD. The statutory exemption will remain in place until further notice. Drivers do not need to carry any documentation regarding this exemption.” As part of the 2012 Moving Ahead for Progress in the 21st Century Act, the Commercial Motor Vehicle Safety Enhancement Act mandated that drivers of commercial motor vehicles replace by Dec. 18, 2017, their paper logs with ELDs, which record driving time, engine hours, vehicle movement and speed, miles driven and location information.

China Buying Rice for the First Time From U.S.

Ag Web | Posted on January 3, 2019

China is buying U.S. rice for the first time. The "South China Morning Post" reported Chinese customs officials cleared American rice for import on Thursday. It's not clear how much China will buy, but the U.S. rice industry calls China the 800 pound gorilla for the industry, and a market barrier it's been trying to break for decades. Johnny Sullivan of Producers Rice Mill, Inc. says "China is a monster of a market. The facts are based on the consumption rate of rice in China, the short story is China could chew through the entire U.S. crop in 14 days, so it's unreal."

Now 11 countries are going ahead with TPP without the US

CNN | Posted on January 3, 2019

A major 11-country agreement goes into effect Sunday, reshaping trade rules among economic powerhouses like Japan, Canada, Mexico and Australia — but the United States won't be a part of it.That means that Welch's grape juice, Tyson's pork and California almonds will remain subject to tariffs in Japan, for example, while competitors' products from countries participating in the new Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership will eventually be duty-free.Japan will offer similar tariff relief to the European Union, in a separate trade deal set to go into effect on February 1."Our competitors in Australia and Canada will now benefit from those provisions, as US farmers watch helplessly," said US Wheat Associates President Vince Peterson at a hearing on the potential negotiations with Japan.

Trump team makes controversial change to allow chicken plants to operate at faster speeds

Washington Post | Posted on January 3, 2019

he Trump administration is now allowing more chicken-processing plants to operate at faster speeds, a controversial move that some fear will hurt workers and chicken consumers by lowering safety standards. Plants that receive a waiver from the Trump administration will be able to process up to 175 birds per minute, up from the old limit of 140 birds per minute. The administration recently published new criteria spelling out what it would take to get a waiver.


Federal order prices reflect a bleak milk price landscape

Edairy News | Posted on January 3, 2019

The Class I mover ranged from a low of 13.36/cwt in March to a high of just $16.33 in October. At no time did the Class I mover in 2018 close higher than the December 2017 price of $16.88.The Class I mover is the base price for fluid milk prices, with differentials then added on top of the mover to determine the fluid milk minimum price for each Federal Order. In the Midwest, for example, a $1.80 differential is commonly added to the Class I mover; in Florida, the differential can be $5.40.The Class III price ranged from a low of $13.40/cwt in February to a high of $16.09 in September. The Class IV price ranged from $12.87/cwt in February to a high of $15.06 in November. In November, the Class IV actually became the “higher of” Class III and IV, making it the determinant for Class I prices. In November, the Class IV price was 62¢/cwt higher than Class III.In the Midwest, the producer mailbox price peaked at $17.40/cwt in September. 

Federal move to tighten work requirements for food stamps stirs worry about village hunger

Anchorage Daily News | Posted on January 2, 2019

A new rule proposed by the U.S. Department of Agriculture has drawn alarm from food security advocates in Alaska because it would make it tougher to waive work requirements for food stamps. Some are concerned about the impact that would have on people who live in subsistence-dependent villages where there are few jobs.For years, Alaska has had a waiver that means recipients of the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program — also known as food stamps — are exempt from a rule about how much able-bodied adults without dependents have to participate in an employment program to get assistance.In some villages that depend on subsistence, cash economies are weak and there are not enough full-time jobs to employ all the adults. Residents contribute to the community food supply by hunting, fishing, gathering and sharing. Food stamps help supplement that subsistence diet.Earlier versions of the farm bill sought such changes to SNAP, but they didn’t make it into the final bill passed in December. The USDA is now proposing the change related to work requirements through a rule the agency announced on Dec. 20.The proposed rule would make it harder for states to get the statewide waiver, said Monica Windom, director of the Alaska Division of Public Assistance.

2018 Farm Bill: The Good, the Bad and the Ugly

Ag Policy | Posted on January 2, 2019

As we began reading details from the recently passed 2018 Farm Bill, it reminded us of the old 1960s Spaghetti Western starring Clint Eastwood, Lee Van Cleef, and Eli Wallach, “The Good, the Bad and the Ugly,” except in this case no one is likely to end up with the gold. Let’s start with the good.The farm bill eliminates the long-standing prohibition against the growing of industrial hemp on US farms. In addition, the recently passed legislation increases the maximum number of acres that can be enrolled in the Conservation Reserve Program from 24 million to 27 million acres. With 5 years of generally increasing year-ending stock levels that have resulted in low crop prices, the taking of 3 million acres out of production and adding a crop that will compete with existing crops for planted acreage has to be a good thing. These changes may not be enough to restore farm profitability, but in today’s dire financial straits every little bit helps. The bad.The 2018 Farm Bill kept the payment limitation threshold at $900,000 a year in adjusted gross income instead of lowering it to the $700,000 limit that was in the Senate version. Even more troubling is the expansion of those who are allowed to receive farm program payments to more distant relatives of farmers including first cousins, nieces, and nephews, even if they aren’t directly involved in agricultural production.

More on the Farm Bill

Daily Independent | Posted on January 2, 2019

But the new Farm Bill also has a lot of other good attributes. They include: — Reform of the failed insurance program for dairy farmers. The old system is known as the Margin Protection Program and it was a failure. A lot of dairy farmers facing difficult markets and prices couldn’t get relief from the program despite contributions to it. Now, according to news outlet WWNY, the new changes include improved premium programs and making it cheaper for farms of any size to enroll in the coverage.— AgWeek reported the new Farm Bill gives more flexibility between Agricultural Risk coverage and Price Loss coverage and increases commodity loan rates for many crops.— Cuts to food stamps are not in the new Farm Bill.— It costs the taxpayer nearly $1 trillion, but this is what has been budgeted. This means it will not have an additional impact on the defict, according to the Washington Post.— There is now permanent funding available for farmers markets and local food programs.Not everything in the farm bill is good. Curiously, the new farm bill allows a farmer’s cousins, nieces and nephews to qualify for commodity program payments. Sen. Charles E. Grassley told The Washington Post that “I’m very disappointed the conferees decided to expand the loopholes on farm subsidies,” Grassley said before the vote. “I’ve been trying to make sure the people who get the subsidies are real farmers. … I’ve been trying for three years, and it gets worse and worse and worse.”