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Trump touches on ag issues in the State of the Union

By Kolt Buchenroth, Ohio Ag Net

President Donald Trump addressed a joint session of Congress and subsequently the nation this week in an hour and 21-minute State of the Union address. It was clear that border security was at the forefront of the President’s agenda, as he mentioned the quickly approaching deadline for government funding which, if an agreement isn’t reached, will end in a government shutdown.

Agriculture was mentioned when President Trump boasted his administration’s elimination of the estate or death tax, mentioning specifically family farms and U.S. ranchers. That comment received a roar of applause from those in attendance. The farm bill got a nod from the Commander in Chief in the spirit of bipartisanship and cooperation. Trade was also a talking point, saying that the United States has placed tariffs on $350 billion of goods imported from China. President Trump also said that the negotiations will have to include a structural change to the deal that protects American jobs and ends the trade deficit, but there was no direct mention of how that will impact agriculture.

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Trump returns to AFBF Annual Convention

Donald J. Trump, the 45th president of the United States, will address farm and ranch families from across the nation at the American Farm Bureau Federation’s 100th Annual Convention. This address will mark the second time in as many years that the president has appeared at Farm Bureau’s Annual Convention. This year’s gathering takes place Jan. 11-16 in New Orleans, Louisiana.

“The American Farm Bureau Federation is honored once again to host our nation’s president,” said AFBF President Zippy Duvall, a beef and poultry farmer from Georgia. “President Trump has made agriculture a clear priority, giving farmers and ranchers a seat at the table on the top issues affecting our farms, ranches and rural communities. What better way to celebrate 100 years of Farm Bureau than to welcome the president of the United States to our centennial celebration?”

Other national officials attending the AFBF Annual Convention include Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue, USDA Under Secretary for Trade and Foreign Agricultural Affairs Ted McKinney and several members of Congress: Senate Agriculture Committee Chairman Pat Roberts (R-Kan.), Sen.

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Farm Bill could help farms battling low prices

Dairy farmers have a stronger safety net against low milk prices and high feed costs under the new federal farm bill, and more federal dollars will be spent to spur international trade of American agricultural products.

Both changes could help farmers at a time when revenues from selling milk, corn and soybeans have dipped and markets have shrunk.

Under the new farm bill, dairy farmers will pay lower premiums for a federal program that provides them payments when the margin between milk prices and feed costs dips below a certain level set by the government. The top level of coverage was raised from $8 to $9.50 per hundred pounds of milk, which will increase payments to dairy farmers.

“This is not a trivial change,” said Carl Zulauf, an agricultural economist and professor emeritus with the College of Food, Agricultural, and Environmental Sciences (CFAES) at The Ohio State University.

“It could mean a lot to dairy farmers.”

Ohio’s dairy farmers have recently been leaving the business at a higher than usual rate as a result of a drop in the price they’ve gotten for their milk for several years.

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Christmas comes early with a Dec. 20 Farm Bill

By Matt Reese and Ty Higgins

Today, President Donald Trump signed the Agriculture Improvement Act of 2018.

“With the passage of the farm bill we are delivering to the farmers and ranchers, who are the heart and soul of America, all sorts of things that they never even thought possible,” said President Donald Trump. “We are insuring that American agriculture will always feed our families, nourish our communities, power our commerce and inspire our nation.

“By signing this bill we are protecting our crop insurance programs and funding that producers rely on in times of disaster.”

Retired Ohio State University agricultural economics professor Carl Zulauf recently hit the high points of the 800-plus-page 2018 Farm Bill.

“This is a largely a bill that is a 5-year extension of current policy with a few exceptions in each title. The biggest exception is the Conservation Title. There are major changes in that title across all of the different programs.

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Agriculture applauds newly proposed clean water rule

The Trump Administration proposed a new water rule on Dec. 11 designed to replace the 2015 Waters of the United States (WOTUS) rule.

The new water rule would:

  • Protect the private property rights of American cattle producers;
  • Provide safeguards for America’s waters;
  • Observe the appropriate role of the federal government in regulating waterways;
  • Restore state and local authority to protect waters;
  • Respect Congress’s intent in limiting jurisdiction to “navigable waters” in the Clean Water Act.

As a next step, the proposed rule will be posted in the Federal Register and become open for public comment. The 2015 WOTUS rule is currently in effect in 22 states. The EPA and Army Corps of Engineers are currently in the process of repealing the 2015 WOTUS rule.

“After years of uncertainty stemming from the 2015 WOTUS rule, the Trump Administration’s new water rule represents a fresh start for America’s cattle producers,” said Kevin Kester, president of the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association.

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Harvest delays, tariffs and China all influencing markets

By Doug Tenney, Leist Mercantile

The last half of November continued the weather trend of summer: wet. As I write this there are still many producers across Ohio who want to be done harvesting corn and soybeans. Unfortunately, it is not going according to plan for those producers. As I talk with customers along with other Ohio producers, many have hundreds of acres of corn or soybeans still remaining in the fields. Rains in central Ohio the weekend following Thanksgiving reached one-half inch or more in many locations. Some of our customers went on to report that one-half looked like three inches in many areas. On the lighter side, one customer who farms with his brother jokingly relayed that he could still be harvesting in May with his brother following immediately behind planting 2019 crops. He went on to say he needed a head start in the combine as the planter covered twice the footprint compared to the combine.

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President Trump, politics and the FFA

By Matt Reese

Are you ready for an FFA kerfuffle? It’s been going on all week.

I must confess I was totally in the dark about this until I read an odd comment on the post at ocj.com about President Donald Trump speaking this weekend at the National FFA Convention. Here is is:

(From September)

To Whom It May Concern,

My name is Kari Hanson and I am the advisor of the FFA members you have referenced in your letter to me regarding their attendance at the September 6, 2018 President Trump rally for Matt Rosendale. I want you to know that I am deeply sorry and regretful for how my students have been portrayed and the impact that this has had on each of them, my chapter, my school, the Montana FFA Association, and National FFA Organization.

I know that some that read my response will find no value in any justification I attempt to provide.

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Opioid measures signed into law

President Trump signed into law the Support for Patients and Communities Act, a measure that promises help in the fight against drug addiction.

“Opioids are stalking rural America. Our farmers and ranchers once thought addiction was predominantly something cities had to deal with,” Zippy Duvall, president of the American Farm Bureau Federation. “Sadly, we know now that opioids are taking the lives of Americans from all walks of life. And unlike years ago, rural America is showing some of the highest rates of opioid addiction anywhere.”

The new law will make it easier for Medicaid patients to seek and receive the treatment they need to overcome drug addiction. It increases policing of the mail that accounts for much of the opioid trade and increases grant funding to fight addiction in our communities.

“We lost a record 72,000 lives to overdoses in 2017,” Duvall said.

“We thank Congress and the President for making this legislation law.”

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President Trump to speak at the 91st National FFA Convention

President Donald Trump will be attending the National FFA Convention & Expo on Saturday, Oct. 27, 2018, during the ninth general session at Bankers Life Fieldhouse and will address the FFA members.

Over time, it is has become a tradition of the National FFA Organization to invite the sitting president to make remarks during its annual national convention and expo.

Former President Harry S. Truman spoke in 1957. Presidents Gerald Ford and Jimmy Carter spoke in 1974 and 1978, respectively. Then Vice President George H.W. Bush spoke in 1987 followed by a pre-recorded message from President Ronald Reagan in 1988. President George H.W. Bush spoke in 1991. First Lady Michelle Obama also brought pre-recorded greetings in 2015, and Vice President Mike Pence did the same at last year’s convention.

Please note that the 91st National FFA Convention is a private event and is a closed convention; therefore, it is not open to the public.

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Trump proposes an end to Reid Vapor Pressure regulations

By Matt Reese and Dale Minyo

Currently, citing air quality concerns, Reid Vapor Pressure (RVP) regulations force fuel retailers to restrict sales of E15 to only flex fuel vehicles from June 1 to Sept. 15, the peak driving season. For years, ethanol proponents have fought to have the RVP waived to open the door for expanded summer ethanol sales. On Oct. 9, President Donald Trump proposed just that.

“We heard some needed good news out of the president today. They are taking away some regulations that were simply unexplainable barriers to ethanol demand and corn demand. The news today is especially good because we are harvesting a very large crop of corn and wondering where we are going to put it. This opens the door for additional demand for ethanol,” said Tadd Nicholson, executive director of the Ohio Corn & Wheat Growers Association. “In essence, E15 is a cleaner burning fuel but it had this restriction on being sold in the summer months for air quality reasons.

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Trade deal with Japan in the works

Many in agriculture are optimistic about the announcement that the United States and Japan will pursue a bilateral trade agreement.

“The National Cattlemen’s Beef Association strongly supports President Trump’s commitment to expanding trade with Japan. Today’s announcement is exciting news for America’s beef producers because Japan is our top export market, accounting for nearly $1.9 billion in U.S. beef sales in 2017,” said Kevin Kester, National Cattlemen’s Beef Association president. “Unfortunately, U.S. beef faces a massive 38.5% tariff in Japan—a trade barrier that hurts America’s beef producers and Japanese consumers. NCBA has been a strong advocate for a bilateral trade deal between our nations and looks forward to working closely with the Trump Administration to secure increased market access for our industry. We congratulate President Trump and Prime Minister Abe for taking this important step in our trading relationship. The faster negotiations conclude, the faster U.S. producers can provide more Japanese consumers with the high-quality beef they demand.”

The trade talks are starting and U.S.

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White House continues trade war with China

In a move that will further escalate trade tensions, the Trump administration announced its intention to place a 10 percent tariff on $200 billion worth of Chinese goods and threatened to levy tariffs on an additional $267 billion worth of imports.

The Chinese government has already responded in kind with tariffs on $60 billion worth of American imports.

“China has unquestionably engaged in unfair and manipulative trade behavior for many years. Though we agree with President Trump’s effort to address these actions, we strongly disagree with his go-it-alone approach. We believe he would be more successful in achieving fundamental reforms in China’s trading tactics by leading the rest of the world in a united front,” said Rob Larew, National Farmers Union vice president Public Policy and Communications. “The administration’s current strategy has created serious and potentially irrevocable problems for American farmers and ranchers. The loss of export markets and severely depressed commodity prices cost wheat, soy, and corn growers to the tune of $13 billion dollars in the month of June alone; yesterday’s announcement to escalate tensions further will undoubtedly cost them billions more in the years to come.

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Farm groups respond to trade aid package

The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) released details of its $12 billion aid package to help offset the impact of tariffs, which includes a Market Facilitation Program that will make payments to producers of seven farm commodities for the 2018 crop. The program also includes an increase of USDA purchases of various impacted U.S. agricultural products, and a Trade Promotion Program to develop foreign markets for American agricultural exports.

The Ohio Soybean Association (OSA) welcomes the support from the Trump Administration and details of the how that support will be distributed, while also reiterating the need for a long-term solution that opens export markets.

“We’re pleased to see the details of the aid package released in a timely manner so there can be some certainty for farmers moving into the harvest season,” said Allen Armstrong, OSA president and Clark Co. soybean farmer. “However, this is a short-term fix and we continue to advocate for free and open markets with our national affiliate, the American Soybean Association, and for a resolution to the trade dispute with our biggest international customer.”

The value of the 2018 soybean crop has been under increasing pressure ever since tariffs were imposed in early July, with prices dropping approximately $2 per bushel nationally.

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USDA announces details of agricultural assistance for trade retaliation

This week, Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue announced details of the trade assistance package for farmers hurt by the President’s aggressive trade agenda. The $12 billion package will provide payments to producers as part of a “short-term relief strategy” to protect agriculture.

“Early on, the President instructed me, as Secretary of Agriculture, to make sure our farmers did not bear the brunt of unfair retaliatory tariffs. After careful analysis by our team at USDA, we have formulated our strategy to mitigate the trade damages sustained by our farmers. Our farmers work hard, and are the most productive in the world, and we aim to protect them,” Perdue said.

The Department of Agriculture’s Farm Service Agency will administer the Market Facilitation Program (MFP) to provide payments to corn, cotton, dairy, hog, sorghum, soybean and wheat producers starting Sept. 4, 2018. The payments to producers will total $4.7 billion with soybeans accounting for the largest single commodity estimated cost at over $3.6 billion.

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Trump Administration announces relief for farmers hurt by trade war

Since late May, soybean prices have dropped more than $2 per bushel as the trade war has escalated and tariffs have been implemented. Farm commodities across the board have been targeted and the farmers who produce those commodities are paying the price.

The President has vowed for weeks that he would “take care” of farmers, but agriculture groups did not know until today what that help would look like. The plan outlined today by the Trump Administration includes three components: direct payments to farmers to mitigate lower prices resulting from retaliatory tariffs, direct commodity purchases by USDA, and funding for a temporary program similar in purpose to the current Market Access Program (MAP) and Foreign Market Development (FMD) programs. The cost of the package is expected to total around $12 billion spread across multiple commodities, which is in line with the estimated $11 billion impact of the unjustified retaliatory tariffs on U.S.

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Tariff threats from China frustrating agriculture

Across the nation those involved in agriculture are expressing frustration (to put it mildly, in some cases) about the escalation of a trade dispute that has resulted in China’s announcement of a proposed 25% tariff on imported U.S. soybeans.

It does not take many guesses to figure out the topic of most concern heard by U.S. Department of Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue as he toured Ohio yesterday.

“[President Trump] understands that agriculture, based on its bountiful production, is always the tip of the spear on retaliatory measures. He is convinced that this will not be the case this time. He asked me to tell the farmers in Ohio, Kentucky, and Michigan exactly that,” Perdue said. “We have a renewed agreement with Korea and we have maintained that business. I do think there is optimism regarding NAFTA, which will help reduce that anxiety a little. Then we cope with China. These announcements are just the beginning.

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Mr. President, do not take farm vote for granted

I know that many people involved in agriculture, myself included, were thrilled to see President Donald Trump take time out of his very busy schedule to visit the American Farm Bureau Federation Annual Meeting in Nashville in January.

In that speech, we found out that the President is hearing about and working on so many issues that will affect farm country. From a new farm bill, to NAFTA, immigration reform, infrastructure, or countless regulations that are currently hindering progress in our industry, Mr. Trump mentioned the many woes facing agriculture as he spoke directly to thousands of farmers and ranchers from that stage in Music City.

The elephant in the room when it comes to rural America and politics at the highest levels of government is whether President Trump will truly take into account why he holds the title of Commander-In-Chief. If not for farm country, the oval office décor would have a completely different vibe.

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We’ll always have Paris…oh wait, never mind

President Donald Trump again sent the left wing aflutter when he fulfilled another campaign promise by announcing a U.S. withdrawal from the Paris Agreement that laid out a framework for countries to adopt clean energy and phase out fossil fuels in a global effort to address climate change.

The Paris Agreement seeks to hold “the increase in the global average temperature to well below 2 °C above pre-industrial levels and to pursue efforts to limit the temperature increase to 1.5 °C above pre-industrial levels, recognizing that this would significantly reduce the risks and impacts of climate change.”

This, to be sure, is a noble goal, but in the world of climate science (and much more so in the world of climate politics) there are many ifs, buts, unknowns, and educated guesses that can render even the best of intentions ineffective. At its best, the Paris Agreement is something that makes people who are terrified of climate change feel good that we are collectively doing something to address the challenge.

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Longest National Anthem delays lunch, but highlights reasons to be thankful moving into the politics of 2017

Last Thanksgiving, some of you may recall the football game that kicked off with what may be the longest-ever version of the National Anthem. Though it is typically around two minutes, legendary singer Aretha Franklin stretched the song to a full four minutes and 35 seconds before a matchup between the Lions and the Vikings.

On that day I was at the end of the line for a Thanksgiving feast and very hungry. The television was on in the background leading up to the game when I had finally gotten my massive plate full of Thanksgiving food and sat down to eagerly feast.

I didn’t even notice what was on the television across the room, and neither did anyone else, except for my seven-year-old son. I shoveled the first heaping fork full of food into my mouth to kick off one of my favorite meals of the year.

I quickly scooped up my next fork full but stopped with the food halfway to my mouth when I saw my son, sitting up on his knees in his chair beside me with his hand over his heart watching the waving American flag on the television.

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The roles (and realities) of rural America show up at the polls

Once again this week, the massive rift between philosophies, values and political priorities was gashed wide open. Half of the nation was left lamenting and pledging to flee to Canada and the other half was silently smirking at their televisions as newscasters tried to veil their confusion and outrage while blinking back tears to preserve their liberal media makeup jobs.

A quick glance though social media indicates that many on the losing side of this election feel votes were cast out of hate, fear, ignorance, and malice and that is the direction this country is now heading. The winning side seems to think finally things are on the right track to moving away from hate, fear, ignorance and malice.

This election very clearly had no perfect candidates running for President, but no election ever has. Regardless of which candidate you voted for, I don’t think you voted because you hate anyone, or because you are ignorant or because you harbor an underlying malice for anyone.

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