Ag Chat with Bob Bosold - July 3

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ALTOONA, Wis. (WEAU) -- The U.S. dairy industry is getting hammered in trade disputes with Mexico, China and Canada, putting Wisconsin farms at risk. About 90 percent of Wisconsin milk is turned into cheese, and all but about 10 percent of that cheese is sold outside the state's borders. Mexico buys nearly a quarter of all dairy products exported by the U.S., and the American dairy industry is reeling from $387 million in Mexican tariffs - of between 15 and 25 percent - on cheese. Wisconsin lost 500 dairy farms in 2017, and about 150 have quit milking cows so far this year, putting the total number of milk-cow herds at around 7,600 - down 20 percent from five years ago.

And now it looks like it's wait 'til next year on NAFTA.. That's the latest from the Trump administration on the rewrite of the North American free Trade Agreement. During an interview that aired on Sunday, President trump said he could sign an agreement with Canada and Mexico before the end of the year but he said he wouldn't be happy about it. He said he wants to wait until after our fall elections so the deal will be more fair. And right now the atmosphere on trade is tense as the Canadians announced retaliatory tariffs against the U.S. on Friday because of our tariffs on their steel and aluminum coming into this country. During that interview, the president added that tariffs on Canadian cars, trucks and auto parts might be next.

The Senate did approve its version of the 2018 Farm Bill last week 86-11. And one Wisconsin Senator, Ron Johnson voted against the bill and we now know why. Johnson said the final legislation was too bloated with earmarks for him to support and that "the bill had many worthy provisions but it failed to take even small steps to reform runaway government spending on programs that have little if anything to do with Wisconsin's farm families". The Senate and the House will have a busy July as they will be preparing for the conference committee this summer so they can negotiate a final bill, hopefully before September 30.

The corn and beans didn't look quite as good around the country as they did a week earlier, but they're still in good shape. This week's Crop Progress report rates the corn crop at 76% good to excellent-the best it's been during the last week in June since 1999. Soybeans fell 2% in this week's report as they're now rated 71% good to excellent. The only trouble spots for crops this year appears to be in Texas, North Carolina, Kansas and Missouri.

In Wisconsin, the corn crop is rated 84% good to excellent, down 3% from last week. And most of the corn is having no trouble getting to be "knee high by the 4th of July." Soybeans are also looking good around the state as they're rated 83% good to excellent this week with 13% of the plants already in bloom. This week's report also shows 68% of the oats and 93% of the winter wheat has headed while farmers have made 96% of their first hay crop and 35% of their second. Topsoil moisture this week is rated 93% adequate to surplus.

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