SFNtoday Headlines Thursday March 8

The American Soybean Association recognized E. James Dunphy, from Raleigh, N.C., with its Pinnacle Award at its annual awards banquet during the 2018 Commodity Classic in Anaheim, Calif. 

The Pinnacle Award is an industry-wide recognition of individuals who have demonstrated the highest level of contribution and leadership within the soybean family and industry, through work involving a significant amount of their lifetime.

Dr. Dunphy is a professor of crop science and soybean extension specialist at North Carolina State University. He’s served and led within the soybean family and industry for nearly 50 years.

Dunphy is recognized as an excellent teacher, a top-notch researcher and an exemplary extension specialist. (photo credit: Joe Murphy)


USDA to Host Roundtables on Rural Opioid Misuse

The Department of Agriculture will host a series of roundtable talks on opioid misuse. Assistant to the Secretary for Rural Development Anne Hazlett Wednesday announced a series of monthly roundtables on opioids through the summer. The action follows the creation of Farm Town Strong, an effort by the American Farm Bureau Federation, the National Farmers Union and USDA to combat the opioid epidemic. Hazlett says the opioid epidemic in rural America goes beyond a public health issue, saying “this is a matter of rural prosperity.” The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that in 2016 nearly 64,000 Americans died from a drug overdose, with an overwhelming majority of these overdose deaths involved an opioid. The first roundtable will be held March 14th in Pennsylvania, with events in Utah, Kentucky, Oklahoma and Maine scheduled throughout the summer. Key topics will include challenges associated with substance use disorder, strategies for prevention, treatment and recovery, and how th0se measures can be replicated to effectively address the epidemic in other rural communities.
Trump Considering Trade Protection Measures Against China

The Trump administration is mulling trade protections against Chinese investments in the United States and a broad range of tariffs. The consideration is seen as a punishment by the administration to Beijing for its alleged theft of intellectual property. An announcement by the U.S. Trade Representative’s office investigation into China’s intellectual property practices is expected in the coming weeks, setting the stage for further trade protections by President Trump. The move comes as Chinese officials have been studying curbs on U.S. products such as soybeans, according to Bloomberg. Officials from Japan met with the Trump administration last week, with both sides expressing a desire to avoid a trade war. However, further escalating Trump’s desire to protect U.S. trade, the deficit between Chinese goods imported to the U.S. and American goods exported to China last year reached $375.2 billion, an eight percent jump from $347 billion in 2016.
Coalition Formed to Fight Steel, Aluminum Tariffs

Industry and agriculture groups have formed a coalition to address the proposed steel and aluminum tariffs by President Donald Trump. The National Foreign Trade Council announced formation of the Alliance for Competitive Steel and Aluminum Trade this week. The coalition includes industrial and agriculture groups, such as the National Pork Producers Council, The American Soybean Association and U.S. Wheat Associates. In a statement announcing the coalition, organizers say members will meet with Congress and the Trump administration to express concerns about the downstream effects of the proposed tariffs on imports of steel and aluminum, and the potential for foreign retaliation. The National Foreign Trade Council says the alliance is “deeply concerned about the effects that these tariffs will have” on U.S. sectors that use steel and aluminum. The coalition says the tariffs pose risks to U.S. consumers, exports and economic growth.
South Korea Forming Response team to U.S. Trade Protectionism

South Korea is creating a task force to respond to U.S. trade protection measures. South Korea’s Foreign Ministry has ordered the South Korean embassy in Washington set up the special response team. South Korea has requested to be excluded from proposed higher import tariffs on steel exports under Section 232 of the Trade Expansion Act, emphasizing the negative effects the measures would have on bilateral relations, according to KBS World Radio. The move comes as the U.S. also is seeking to renegotiate KORUS, the Korea-U.S. Free Trade Agreement. South Korea is a major U.S. agriculture market. According to a U.S. Trade Representative’s fact sheet, Korea is currently the fifth largest U.S. agricultural export market, with beef leading the way, followed by lemons, shelled almonds, cheese, cherries and wine and beer. Korea was also a top market for U.S. corn in the last marketing year.
Biofuel Plant Managers Write To Trump Regarding RFS

Roughly 150 biofuel plant managers are urging President Donald Trump to pursue the path that’s a win for agriculture, the biofuels industry, and blue-collar workers, regarding the Renewable Fuel Standard and RIN prices. Growth Energy joined the managers in the letter that calls for Reid Vapor Pressure relief for E15 fuels and asking the administration to reject Ted Cruz’s proposals that they say “pick winners and losers.” Growth Energy CEO Emily Skor says the Cruz campaign against RINs “is based on fairytales designed to justify handouts for the same folks who raided corporate funds at the expense of local workers in Philadelphia,” referring to the failed refinery in Pennsylvania that claimed RIN prices led to its bankruptcy. The letter to Trump explains that allowing year-round E15 sales would “support growth on all sides, generate a new supply of RINs, and ease pressure on refiners.” But the letter states the proposal “holds no value” if it becomes tied to RIN caps that eliminate market access for biofuels.
Bayer in Exclusive Talks With BASF to Sell Vegetable Seed Business

Bayer confirmed this week that the company is in exclusive talks with BASF regarding the sale of Bayer’s entire vegetable-seeds business, a move it expects to help it win approval for its acquisition of Monsanto. The move, according to Bayer, is part of its effort to address concerns made by the European Commission regarding the Bayer-Monsanto deal. The European antitrust regulator, which has raised concerns that the Monsanto acquisition could pressure farmers, is expected to make its decision on the Monsanto deal by April 5th, though it could issue a ruling earlier, according to Dow Jones. Bayer had already agreed to sell selected crop-science businesses to BASF for $7.3 billion last October. This first deal covers Bayer’s LibertyLink technology for herbicide tolerance, and essentially all of the company’s field-crop seed businesses, and related research and development capabilities.