SFNToday Headlines for Wednesday March 14

Barrasso Introduces Catch-all Farm Regulation Reduction Bill

Senator John Barrasso introduced a bill Tuesday that incorporates several measures designed to ease the regulatory burden on farmers and ranchers. Barrasso, a Wyoming Republican who chairs the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee, says the bill “would help defend agricultural industries from punishing federal rules and reporting requirements,” according to Politico. Known as the ACRE Act, the legislation includes eight bills, including the Fair Agricultural Reporting Method, or FARM Act. The FARM Act was introduced by Nebraska Republican Senator Deb Fischer, which seeks an exemption to emission reporting requirements for farmers and ranchers. The bill would also end overlapping environmental permitting for pesticide application requirements, protect the personal information of agricultural producers, and prevent farmers from being hit with penalties for engaging in “normal agricultural operations that could be considered ‘baiting’ of migratory game birds.”

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Study: Trump Tariffs to Cost an Estimated 24,000 Agriculture Jobs

A study by the Trade Partnership estimates that the Trump administration’s steel and aluminum tariffs will cost 495,000 jobs in the United States. That figure is up from a previous estimate of 179,000 jobs. Specific to agriculture, the report estimates that tariffs will cost 24,000 jobs. The job losses, according to the study, would impact the services, manufacturing and agricultural sectors. The new report says the updated figure takes into account threats of retaliation from other countries, as well as the expectations that Canada, Mexico and Australia will be exempt from the tariffs. The bulk of the losses are expected in the services sector, including construction, transportation, trade and others. However, the report says the tariffs would boost employment in the steel and the aluminum sectors by 26,000 jobs. The numbers show that 18 jobs would be lost for every steel/aluminum job gained. Meanwhile, some trade experts don’t expect the tariffs to last long because the tariffs have an overwhelming U.S. and global unpopularity.

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Monthly Tractor Sales Decline, Combine Sales Increase

U.S. tractor sales fell ten percent last month, compared to 2016, while combine sales increased 34 percent. According to the Association of Equipment Manufacturers, for the two months in 2018, a total of 10,486 tractors were sold which compares to 11,630 sold thru February 2017, representing a ten percent decrease for the year. Meanwhile, sales of combines for the year total 481 compared to 393 in 2017, a 22 percent increase for the year. An AEM spokesperson says the association is “cautiously optimistic for some growth in 2018” following what the association calls a “bumpy” 2017. However, the association remains concerned with the Trump administration’s pending U.S. steel tariffs and their implications on agriculture beyond the equipment sector. Noting that past trade wars have targeted commodities, AEM says the association will be “carefully monitoring” the tariffs impact to sales throughout the year.

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Study Finds Breakthrough in Glyphosate Resistance Research

Kansas State University researchers have discovered how weeds develop resistance to glyphosate, which researchers say could have broad future implications in agriculture. Researchers say they found how weeds have evolved resistance to glyphosate over a short period of time. The research shows resistance to glyphosate in Palmer amaranth “appears to have occurred very rapidly.” Researchers say glyphosate-resistant Palmer amaranth plants carry the glyphosate target gene in hundreds of copies, meaning even if a farmer applied an amount much higher than the recommended dose of glyphosate, the plants would not be killed. Armed with their new knowledge, the researchers can begin work on developing strategies to combat resistance in weeds. However, in the meantime, researchers say farmers should incorporate best management strategies, such as rotating herbicides and crops, to reduce weed pressure. The study recommends that farmers “do not abuse glyphosate” so the industry doesn’t lose the option of using the herbicide in the future.

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Farmers Seek Syngenta Lawsuit Settlement Approval

U.S. farmers in a class action lawsuit are seeking approval of a settlement agreement with Syngenta. Court records show the class action lawsuit is seeking court approval for a record $1.51 billion settlement with Syngenta. The lawsuit includes farmers, grain handlers and ethanol plants nationwide that sold corn after September 15, 2013. Reuters reports that lawyers for the plaintiffs said they believed the deal to be the largest agricultural class action settlement in U.S. history. The farmers’ class action lawsuit, which was certified in 2016, concerns Syngenta’s 2010 decision to sell Agrisure Viptera in the United States. The trait was unapproved for import by China at the time, and was found in shipments of U.S. grain to China, which the nation rejected. The lawsuit claims those rejections caused U.S. corn prices to plummet. China later approved the trait for import, and Syngenta denies any wrongdoing in the case.

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USDA Announces Rural Electric Infrastructure Investments

The Department of Agriculture Tuesday announced a $276 million investment effort in rural electric infrastructure to improve system efficiency and reliability. Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue says the investments are “fundamental for rural economic growth.” USDA’s $276 million investment will build nearly 1,000 miles of electric lines and improve 733 miles of line to meet current and future needs of rural businesses and residents. It will also support $65 million in smart grid technologies to help rural electric utilities reduce outages and integrate new systems. Investments are being made in Colorado, Georgia, Indiana, Iowa, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maine, Minnesota, Missouri, North Dakota, Ohio and Virginia. The loan guarantees are being provided through USDA Rural Development’s Electric Program, which is the successor to the Rural Electrification Administration. Complete details of the investments are available at www.rd.usda.gov.