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Egg-Cellent Easter Tidbits -- Friday Five (April 19, 2019)

Which part of the chocolate bunny is supposed to be eaten first?? Hannah and Alex reveal the most popular choice in Friday Five! STORIES: 5 - Flood Relief Funds Available for Ag Producers 4 - Hemp Bill in Nebraska Advances 3 - USDA, NASS Release Five-Year Ag Census 2 - 2019 Husker...

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Egg-Cellent Easter Tidbits -- Friday Five (April 19, 2019)

Which part of the chocolate bunny is supposed to be eaten first?? Hannah and Alex reveal the most popular choice in Friday Five! STORIES: 5 - Flood Relief Funds Available for Ag Producers 4 - Hemp Bill in Nebraska Advances 3 - USDA, NASS Release Five-Year Ag Census 2 - 2019 Husker...

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(Video) Sundstroms Receive Nebraska Leopold Conservation Award

Russ, Angela, and Cheyenne Sundstrom are the recipients of the 2019 Nebraska Leopold Conservation Award®. The Sundstroms own and operate Broken Box Ranch in Moorefield, Nebraska. The prestigious award, given in honor or renowned conservationist Aldo Leopold, recognizes extraordinary achieveme...

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Southwest Nebraska Helping 4-H’ers in Flood Recovery

Nebraska Extension and 4-H in Southwest Nebraska is reaching out to our communities to participate in the 4-H’ers Helping 4-H’ers program. The bomb cyclone that created devastating flood and blizzard conditions across much of Nebraska is a month behind us however, the reality of it continues for...

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Cattle on Feed *Audio With Jerry Stowell*

Cattle and calves on feed for the slaughter market in the United States for feedlots with capacity of 1,000 or more head totaled 12.0 million head on April 1, 2019. The inventory was 2% above April 1, 2018, USDA reported Thursday. Listen to see what Jerry Stowell had to say about the report: https...

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Kansas Livestock Association to receive Don L. Good Impact Award

The Kansas Livestock Association (KLA), a trade organization protecting the business interests of livestock producers, has been selected to receive the 2019 Don L. Good Impact Award. The award, presented by the Livestock and Meat Industry Council, is named in honor of Good, the former head of the...

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Crops

US wins WTO case against China over grain exports

WASHINGTON (AP) — The World Trade Organization handed the United States a win Thursday in a trade dispute with China, ruling that Beijing did not fairly administer quotas on U.S. wheat, rice and corn. The WTO, the Geneva organization that oversees the rules of global trade, found that China had not been transparent, predictable or fair in managing so-called tariff rate quotas on U.S. grain exports. The import tax, or tariff, is higher on U.S. grain shipments that exceed the quota. The case, started by the Obama administration, is not directly related to a larger U.S.-China trade standoff: President Donald Trump has slapped tariffs on $250 billion in Chinese imports in a dispute over Beijing's aggressive drive to challenge U.S. technological dominance; China has retaliated by targeting $110 billion in U.S. products. The two countries are in talks to settle their differences. The decision Thursday was the second U.S. victory over China this year in a trade dispute over agriculture. In February, the WTO ruled that China unfairly subsidized its grain producers. "This second important victory for the United States further demonstrates that President Trump will take all steps necessary to enforce trade rules and to ensure free and fair trade for U.S. farmers," said U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer. "The Administration will continue to press China to promptly come into compliance with its WTO obligations." China can appeal Thursday's decision.

USMCA Necessary for Soy: Report Does Not Convey Full Scope of Benefits

Washington, D.C. April 19, 2019.  While the International Trade Commission (ITC) report on the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA) demonstrated marginal increases in agricultural exports, the value of USMCA to soybean producers goes beyond the pages released yesterday. The report is a good tool, yet it does not account for valuable non-tariff provisions in the “new NAFTA” –or look back historically on the myriad benefits to agriculture since NAFTA’s inception. Davie Stephens, soy grower from Clinton, Kentucky, and American Soybean Association (ASA) president said, “USMCA builds upon the strong foundation set by the original NAFTA. Under NAFTA, the value of agricultural exports to Canada and Mexico increased to roughly $43 billion each year. Soybean exports to Mexico quadrupled under NAFTA, making Mexico the number two market for U.S. soybeans, meal and oil. We also saw a doubling of soybean exports to Canada, making it the number four market for soybean meal and the number seven market for soybean oil.” Stephens continued, “We know that the modernizations included in USMCA will make trade with our North American neighbors even smoother. These non-tariff enhancements include the highest enforceable sanitary and phytosanitary (SPS) standards of any trade deal to date, an enforceable biotechnology chapter that supports 21st century innovations, and create a rapid response mechanism to address trade challenges. These provisions not only serve to update the North American agreement but set a paradigm for future free trade agreements.” While continuing to review and assess the ITC, the American Soybean Association reaffirms its support for USMCA and urges Congress to pass the agreement once the bill arrives. Passage of USMCA is vital to ensuring continued trade with two of U.S. soybeans’ top trading partners, Canada and Mexico.

Now Accepting NSP Board Member Applications

The National Sorghum Producers Nominating Committee is now accepting applications from members for the 2020 board of directors. Each director can serve two consecutive three-year terms and is charged with representing, leading, advising and supporting NSP goals and objectives. Information is available online that provides requirements, responsibilities and deadlines. NSP board members represent the organization by improving the sorghum industry through advocacy and leadership. Applications are due Friday, May 10.

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Livestock

Egg-Cellent Easter Tidbits -- Friday Five (April 19, 2019)

Which part of the chocolate bunny is supposed to be eaten first?? Hannah and Alex reveal the most popular choice in Friday Five! STORIES: 5 - Flood Relief Funds Available for Ag Producers 4 - Hemp Bill in Nebraska Advances 3 - USDA, NASS Release Five-Year Ag Census 2 - 2019 Husker Food Connection 1 - Egg-Cellent Easter Tidbits

(Video) Sundstroms Receive Nebraska Leopold Conservation Award

Russ, Angela, and Cheyenne Sundstrom are the recipients of the 2019 Nebraska Leopold Conservation Award®. The Sundstroms own and operate Broken Box Ranch in Moorefield, Nebraska. The prestigious award, given in honor or renowned conservationist Aldo Leopold, recognizes extraordinary achievement in voluntary conservation and management of natural resources by American ranchers, farmers and foresters in 13 states. Nebraska Governor Pete Ricketts presented the Sundstroms with a $10,000 award, and a ranch sign recognizing them as Leopold Conservation Award recipients, at a special ceremony in the Nebraska State Capitol in Lincoln on April 18. (Video) Sundstroms Receive Nebraska Leopold Conservation Award In Nebraska. the award is presented by Sand County Foundation, Alliance for the Future of Agriculture in Nebraska (AFAN), Cargill, and the Nebraska Environmental Trust. The Sundstroms are land stewards committed to productive, restorative and sustainable conservation practices on one of Nebraska’s biologically unique landscapes. The native prairie rangelands, hardwood trees, flowering plants, and abundant wildlife found on their ranch in the Loess Canyons are testaments to their conservation ethic. The soil beneath the scenic, hilly landscape is highly-erodible. However, Russ Sundstrom’s proactive use of prescribed burning and innovative grazing techniques have nursed back the once-tired pastures and cropland that he bought from others. Productive rangeland with diverse vegetation results in quality forage for his beef cattle, and provides an oasis for wildlife including more than 250 species of birds. Not only has Russ removed hundreds of acres of invasive cedar trees from his Broken Box Ranch, but he and his brother, Neil, cooperate and educate neighbors on conservation land management issues. They volunteer with the Loess Canyons Prescribed Burn Association, a landowner-led effort to burn invasive species from the rugged canyon landscape. Russ is a skillful grazing manager who uses an innovative style of rotational grazing of his beef cattle. He intensely mob grazes an area to rid it of invasive species. This welcomes native vegetation to return to the landscape during the year-long rest period that follows. Intensive mob grazing around an area designated for a burn also reduces the risk of fire escape. When Broken Box Ranch was accepted recently as a Rangeland Health Demonstration Ranch, it was further evidence of Russ’ leadership and innovation. He will be responsible for collecting data and monitoring effects of various management strategies and their impacts on wildlife, beef production, and soil and plant health. This community-driven landowner will then share his findings through public access and tours of the property. The Sundstroms share large swaths of their ranch with the public through its enrollment in the Nebraska Game & Parks Commission’s Open Fields and Waters Program. Public hunting access provides wildlife population management of turkey, deer, prairie chickens, quail and elk, while other areas are managed for endangered species. In addition, he has established 20 acres of flowering pollinator habitat for bees and butterflies. Sometimes conservation success comes from what you don’t do to the landscape. They do not aerially apply herbicides or insecticides out of concern that it will kill non-target species. Instead, they spot spray for noxious weeds only. Russ has a sharp pencil when it comes to knowing the economic impacts of his decisions on his business. His tireless devotion to leaving the landscape better than he found it is making a positive impact on his ranch and far beyond the Loess Canyons. Sand County Foundation, the nation’s leading voice for conservation on private land, created the Leopold Conservation Award to inspire American landowners by recognizing exceptional ranchers, farmers and foresters. In his influential 1949 book, A Sand County Almanac; Aldo Leopold called for an ethical relationship between people and the land they own and manage. He wrote it was “an evolutionary possibility and an ecological necessity.” “The Sundstroms are an excellent example of the care Nebraska farmers and ranchers put into their land,” said Steve Martin, Alliance for the Future of Agriculture in Nebraska (AFAN) Executive Director. “What really impressed us is not only what they've implemented on their own ranch, but their willingness to share the lessons they've learned with others. That spirit of cooperation is fundamental to continuing to improve our stewardship of the natural resources that support our number one industry: agriculture.” “Devotion to finding balance between production and conservation in agriculture is tireless, and often unappreciated work,” said Sammy Renteria, general manager of Cargill in Schuyler. “Cargill is proud to support the recognition of the Sundstroms through the Leopold Conservation Award. Their devotion to their land is evident by their efforts to reduce invasive cedar trees, and provide quality habitat for wildlife and livestock.” “The Nebraska Environmental Trust is proud to be part of the annual Leopold Conservation Award in Nebraska recognizing families that do so much for conservation like the Sundstroms,” said Mark Brohman, Nebraska Environmental Trust Executive Director. “The Sundstroms have removed hundreds of acres of eastern redcedars on their land and thousands of acres in the region with their local prescribed burn association. Their burning and grazing practices have had very beneficial impacts to wildlife and cattle.” “Leopold Conservation Award recipients are at the forefront of a movement by America’s farmers and ranchers to simultaneously achieve economic and environmental success,” said Kevin McAleese, Sand County Foundation President and Chief Executive Officer. The Leopold Conservation Award in Nebraska is made possible thanks to the generous contributions from Cargill, Nebraska Environmental Trust, Alliance for the Future of Agriculture in Nebraska, Farm Credit Services of America, Rainwater Basin Joint Venture, Sandhills Task Force, Tri-State Generation & Transmission Association, Audubon Nebraska, Nebraska Game & Parks Commission, Lyle Sittler Memorial Fund, McDonald’s, World Wildlife Fund – Northern Great Plains, and Green Cover Seed. For more information about the Leopold Conservation Award and Sand County Foundation, visit www.leopoldconservationaward.org.

Cattle on Feed *Audio With Jerry Stowell*

Cattle and calves on feed for the slaughter market in the United States for feedlots with capacity of 1,000 or more head totaled 12.0 million head on April 1, 2019. The inventory was 2% above April 1, 2018, USDA reported Thursday. Listen to see what Jerry Stowell had to say about the report: https://post.futurimedia.com/krvnam/playlist/cattle-on-feed-report-wjerry-stowell-4-19-6528.html This is the highest April 1 inventory since the series began in 1996. The inventory included 7.45 million steers and steer calves, down 1% from the previous year. This group accounted for 62% of the total inventory. Heifers and heifer calves accounted for 4.51 million head, up 8% from 2018. Placements in feedlots during March totaled 2.01 million head, 5% above 2018. Net placements were 1.95 million head. During March, placements of cattle and calves weighing less than 600 pounds were 325,000 head, 600-699 pounds were 300,000 head, 700-799 pounds were 595,000 head, 800-899 pounds were 539,000 head, 900-999 pounds were 185,000 head, and 1,000 pounds and greater were 70,000 head. Marketings of fed cattle during March totaled 1.78 million head, 3% below 2018. Other disappearance totaled 69,000 head during March, 3% above 2018. "The increase in placements as well as the combined growth in overall fed cattle numbers is expected to negatively affect trade values early Monday once futures trade opens following the long holiday weekend," said DTN Analyst Rick Kment. "Cattle marketed in March were slightly higher than early estimates, but still fell 3% from year-ago levels based on adverse weather conditions, limiting gain in many areas of the country. The lower marketed level is not expected to offset the pressure of growing cattle supplies." ** To view the full Cattle on Feed report, visit https://www.nass.usda.gov/… USDA Actual Average Guess Range On Feed April 1 102.0% 101.8% 100.4-102.2% Placed in March 105.0% 103.8% 97.9-106.0% Marketed in March 97.0% 96.8% 95.7-98.4%

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Technology

Wrangler® Uses 100 Percent Local, Sustainable Cotton in New Rooted Collection

GREENSBORO, N.C.--(BUSINESS WIRE)--Apr 18, 2019--Wrangler®, a global icon in jeanswear and casual apparel, is taking another groundbreaking step in its sustainability efforts, working with local farmers to create a traceable, locally-sourced denim collection that honors land stewardship and champions state pride. The Wrangler Rooted Collection™ is a limited, premium line made from 100 percent sustainable, local cotton. Each piece was grown, milled, cut and sewn in the United States, helping to ensure America’s denim heritage for future generations. This press release features multimedia. View the full release here: https://www.businesswire.com/news/home/20190418005545/en/ The Rooted Collection features five state-specific pairs of jeans: the Alabama Jean, the Georgia Jean, the North Carolina Jean, the Tennessee Jean, and the Texas Jean. The sustainable cotton used for each state’s jean is fully traceable to a family farm in that state. Each state’s design includes a unique wash, as well as trim and patch details featuring the state’s silhouette and other embellishments. The collection will also include two T-shirt designs for each state, as well as three national designs. “The Wrangler Rooted Collection™ reflects our commitment to strengthening local communities and supporting U.S. farmers,” said Tom Waldron, President of Wrangler. “Equally important, the introduction of this collection aligns with our goal to continually improve the environmental performance and traceability of our products.” The family farms supplying cotton to the Rooted Collection are the first growers in the Wrangler Science and Conservation program, which advocates for land stewardship and soil health best practices. These science-backed methods build crop resilience to weather disruptions while improving yield, reducing water and energy inputs, fighting erosion, and reducing greenhouse gas emissions. Wrangler aims to source 100 percent of its cotton from farms using land stewardship practices by 2025. The Wrangler Rooted Collection™ is all-American, from the farm to the fabric to the cut and sew operations. The family farms that provided the sustainably-sourced cotton for each state’s collection are: The Alabama Jean - Newby Family Farms of Athens, Alabama The Georgia Jean - McLendon Acres of Leary, Georgia(available June 2019) The North Carolina Jean - Lassiter Family Farms of Conway, North Carolina(available June 2019) The Tennessee Jean - Pugh Farms of Halls, Tennessee(available June 2019) The Texas Jean - Vance and Mandie Smith of Big Spring, Texas Mount Vernon Mills in Trion, Georgia, makes the denim fabric and the jeans are cut and sewn by Excel Manufacturing in El Paso, Texas. The Rooted Collection T-shirts were made exclusively with sustainable cotton grown by Vance and Mandie Smith and were manufactured throughout the Carolinas: Spinning at Patrick Yarns in Kings Mountain, North Carolina Knitting by Contempora Fabrics in Lumberton, North Carolina Dyeing by Carolina Cotton Works in Gaffney, South Carolina Cut and sewn by Palmetto Apparel Service in Andrews, South Carolina Printed by TS Designs in Burlington, North Carolina The Wrangler Rooted Collection™ initially will be available through Wrangler.com and participating retailers. Jeans will retail for approximately $100 per piece, with T-shirts priced from $30 per piece.

Food stamps and online grocery shopping are about to mix

NEW YORK (AP) — Amazon and Walmart on Thursday kicked off a two-year government pilot program allowing low-income shoppers on government food assistance in New York to shop and pay for their groceries online for the first time. ShopRite will join the two retailers on the program early next week, said the U.S. Department of Agriculture, which oversees the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, or SNAP. The USDA has long required customers using electronic benefits transfer, or EBT, pay for their purchases at the actual time and place of sale. So the move marks the first time SNAP customers can pay for their groceries online. ShopRite and Amazon are providing the service to the New York City area, and Walmart is providing the service online in upstate New York locations. The agency said the pilot will eventually expand to other areas of New York as well as Alabama, Iowa, Maryland, Nebraska, New Jersey, Oregon and Washington. The pilot program will test both online ordering and payment. SNAP participants will be able to use their benefits to purchase eligible food items but will not be able to use SNAP to pay for service or delivery charges, the agency said. "People who receive SNAP benefits should have the opportunity to shop for food the same way more and more Americans shop for food — by ordering and paying for groceries online," said USDA Secretary Sonny Perdue. "As technology advances, it is important for SNAP to advance too, so we can ensure the same shopping options are available for both non-SNAP and SNAP recipients." Perdue said he will be monitoring how the pilot program increases food access and customer service, specifically for those who have trouble visiting physical stores. Roughly 38 million individuals receive food stamps in the U.S., according to the USDA. Nearly $52 billion, or 82% of all food stamp dollars, were spent at big box stores and grocery chains in 2017, according to the most recent USDA data. The 2014 Farm Bill authorized the USDA to conduct and evaluate a pilot program for online purchasing prior to national implementation. The USDA says the move was intended to ensure online transactions are processed safely and securely. Seattle-based Amazon said those who qualify don't need to be Prime members to buy groceries with their benefits. They'll get free access to its AmazonFresh service, which delivers meat, dairy and fresh produce to shoppers' doorsteps. And they'll also be able to use Prime Pantry, which delivers packaged goods like cereal and canned food. However, they'll need to spend over a certain amount to qualify for free shipping: $50 at AmazonFresh and $25 at Amazon.com. The online shopping giant launched a website, amazon.com/snap , where people can check if they qualify. Amazon said it's working with the USDA to expand service to other parts of New York state. Amazon.com Inc. was on the initial list for the government pilot program, and Bentonville, Arkansas-based Walmart Inc. made the list later. The world's largest retailer, however, in late 2017 had started allowing customers in limited locations to order items through its online grocery pickup service and then pay for it in person at the stores. "Access to convenience and to quality, fresh groceries shouldn't be dictated by how you pay," Walmart said. "This pilot program is a great step forward, and we are eager to expand this to customers in other states where we already have a great online grocery." Walmart said that nearly 300 locations with grocery pickup in the states will be part of the USDA government program.

Heuermann Lecture to Focus on Water Management for Food Security

Lincoln, Nebraska, April 17, 2019 – Mark Rosegrant, research fellow emeritus at the International Food Policy Research Institute, will discuss managing water and agriculture for sustainable food security during the next Heuermann Lecture on April 30. The free lecture, sponsored by the University of Nebraska–Lincoln’s Institute of Agriculture and Natural Resources, will be at 5 p.m. at the Nebraska Innovation Campus Conference Center, 2021 Transformation Drive. With a doctorate in public policy from the University of Michigan, Rosegrant has extensive experience researching and analyzing policy related to agriculture, economic development and the world's future food security. He focuses on water resources and other issues that influence rural livelihoods and environmental sustainability. Rosegrant is the author or editor of 15 books and more than 100 refereed papers in agricultural economics, water resources and food-policy analysis. He has won numerous awards and is a fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science and the Agricultural and Applied Economics Association. The lecture is in conjunction with the annual Water for Food Global Conference, which will convene leading international experts and organizations to discuss “Water for a Hungry World: Innovation in Water and Food Security,” focusing on the next generation of research, smart technology, policy development and best practices that are achieving breakthroughs in this vitally important mission. The conference is organized by the Daugherty Water for Food Global Institute at the University of Nebraska. Heuermann Lectures are funded by a gift from B. Keith and Norma Heuermann of Phillips. The Heuermanns are longtime university supporters with a strong commitment to Nebraska’s production agriculture, natural resources, rural areas and people. Lectures are streamed live at https://heuermannlectures.unl.edu and air live on campus channel 4. Lectures are archived after the event and are later broadcast on NET2.

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Ag Policy

North Dakota, Dakota Access developer settle land dispute

North Dakota and the developer of the Dakota Access oil pipeline settled a lawsuit over the Texas company's ownership of ranch land in the Plains state where corporations aren't allowed in the farming industry. The deal awaiting a judge's approval involves a business structure that technically keeps the land tied to Energy Transfer Partners. However, Attorney General Wayne Stenehjem told The Associated Press on Thursday that the setup is "proper and legal" and he is not opposing a recent motion filed by ETP attorney Lawrence Bender to dismiss the case. "The corporation has divested itself of the land in question, and so there is no longer a complaint to be had against them," Stenehjem said. ETP subsidiary Dakota Access LLC in September 2016 paid an undisclosed price for about 12 square miles of private ranchland in an area where thousands of pipeline opponents gathered to protest in 2016 and 2017. The company cited the need to protect workers and help law officers monitoring the demonstrations against the $3.8 billion pipeline that's now moving North Dakota oil to a shipping point in Illinois. A Depression-era law in North Dakota prohibits large corporations from owning agricultural land in order to protect the state's family farming heritage, with certain exceptions. ETP denied violating the law and said it planned to transfer ownership of the land once the pipeline work was done. It reached a deal with Stenehjem that allowed it to keep ownership until July 2018 to help maintain the safety of pipeline workers. When the deadline passed and ETP still owned the property, Stenehjem sued , asking the court to fine ETP at least $25,000. In March, the developer formed the 1806 Ranch family farm limited liability company to hold legal title to the property, Bender said in court documents. ETP vice president Greg Mcilwain is listed on the warranty deed as the 1806 Ranch president. Bender said in court documents that the structure complies with an exception to the farming law that allows for corporations or limited liability companies to comply. That exception requires at least one person with the company to live on or operate the farm. A federal judge last year in a separate, unrelated lawsuit ruled the operator need not live on the property but could manage from afar. ETP did not respond to a request for comment on how the land will be used. The company has said previously the land has been leased for agricultural purposes. Stenehjem said the company has several options, including leasing out the land, hiring people to operate a farm or ranch, or leaving the land idle and "just let the pheasants reside there."

NFU Urges Implementation of E15 Waiver, Common-Sense Provisions for Higher Level Blends

WASHINGTON - As the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) works towards allowing year-round use of E15 gasoline, National Farmers Union (NFU) is concerned EPA’s proposed rule will make it harder for retailers to sell higher level blends of ethanol.   In a letter to EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler, NFU President Roger Johnson urged EPA to rewrite a provision contained within the rule that could amount to a cap on ethanol. It is viewed within the farm community as yet another barrier to family farmers and ranchers being able to sell farm products for biofuel production.   “Farmers Union is eager for EPA to follow through on its promises to get an E15 waiver out of the door by June 1,” said NFU President Roger Johnson. “But we are concerned that certain provisions within EPA’s rulemaking unnecessarily work against expanded use of higher level blends of ethanol.”   NFU’s concerns stem from EPA’s interpretation of the “substantially similar” clause of the Clean Air Act, which prohibits the sale of any fuel or fuel additive that is “not substantially similar” to fuels or fuel additives used in the certification of new vehicles. In 2017, E10 gasoline—gasoline blended with 10 percent ethanol—became the nation’s certification fuel, making higher level blends of ethanol, like E15 and E30, substantially similar. Yet in its proposal, EPA has limited its “substantially similar” interpretation to only an E15 blend, making the prospects of using higher level blends of ethanol harder to achieve.   “Unfortunately, EPA’s substantially similar determination is limited to E15,” said Johnson. “While we do not necessarily disagree with EPA’s interpretations that would allow for E15 year-round, we believe the statute clearly allows for higher ethanol blends as part of the substantially similar determination based on E10 certification fuel.”   “Indeed, higher ethanol blends would further reduce emissions and provide similar or better engine and vehicle performance,” he added.   Johnson noted EPA should continue to consider the needed changes to facilitate and promote use of mid-level ethanol blends. “These fuels provide enormous societal benefits and represent a win-win-win for automakers, consumers, the environment, and farmers,” he said.   “For that reason, we respectfully request that EPA clarify that the Clean Air Act’s “substantially similar” provisions for gasoline do not cap ethanol at 15 percent.”

EU says it is ready to launch U.S. trade talks, but without agriculture

BRUSSELS (Reuters) - The European Union is ready to start talks on a trade agreement with the United States and aims to conclude a deal before year-end, European Trade Commissioner Cecilia Malmstrom said on Monday. The EU approved two areas for negotiation, opposed by France with an abstention from Belgium. But agriculture was not included, leaving the 28-country bloc at odds with Washington, which has insisted on including farm products in the talks. The EU vote allows the Commission to start two sets of negotiations - one to cut tariffs on industrial goods, the other to make it easier for companies to show products meet EU or U.S. standards. Malmstrom said she would now reach out to U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer to see when talks could begin. “We are ready as soon as they are,” Malmstrom told a news conference. A spokeswoman for Lighthizer declined to comment. But U.S. Senator Chuck Grassley, chairman of the tax and trade-focused Senate Finance Committee, said a U.S.-EU trade deal that excluded agriculture would be “unlikely” to win approval in the U.S. Congress because so many lawmakers want farm access to Europe. “Elimination of industrial tariffs and non-tariff barriers only get us part of the way there, especially when we face major barriers to agricultural trade in the EU,” Grassley, himself an Iowa farmer, said in a statement. “Agriculture is a significant piece of the global economy and it simply doesn’t make sense to leave it out.” The European Commission has said it is willing to discuss cars as part of the industrial goods talks, but not agriculture. “Agriculture will certainly not be part of these negotiations. This is a red line for Europe,” Malmstrom said. She added Brussels would strive to agree what amounted to a limited deal before the Commission’s term ends on Oct. 31. “If we agree to start, I think it can go quite quickly.” Malmstrom stressed that the potential tariffs deal was far less ambitious than the previous “TTIP” negotiations, which stalled after three years and have now been rendered obsolete. The two sides are each other’s largest trading partners. Flows between the two represent 30 percent of global trade. A Commission survey estimates an agreement on industrial tariffs would increase EU exports to the United States by 8 percent and U.S. products bound for Europe by 9 percent.

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