Ag Chat with Bob Bosold - June 7

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ALTOONA, Wis. (WEAU) -- Agriculture continues to be the punching bag as talks continue with our trading partners around the world. Following the announcement that the U.S. is going to impose import tariffs on steel and aluminum from Mexico and other countries, Mexican officials say they will impose their own tariffs on American products-many of them agricultural product imports. Their initial list will hit the pork industry the hardest with tariffs on hams and shoulders. And those import duties will start at 10% and go to 20% on July 5th. Mexican officials say the tariffs won't affect their supply of pork since they will fill the void with imports from Canada, the European Union and Brazil. Canadian hogs now go to Mexico duty free under NAFTA and Mexico and the European Union recently wrapped up a new trade deal. Also included on that list of products facing higher import tariffs into Mexico are U.S. apples, potatoes, cheese and bourbon.

But there may be some good news in our trade dealings with China. Following last weekend's trade talks in Bejing where the U.S. team was led by Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross, the Chinese gave Ross a list of about $70 billion worth of U.S. products they said they might be willing to buy from the United States to help lessen our negative balance of trade with China. That list does include farm products like corn and soybeans. But Chinese officials also made it clear that they will throw that list away if President Trump goes ahead with his plan to impose tariffs on $50 billion worth of Chinese made products. Those Chinese tariffs on U.S. goods are scheduled to take effect on June 15th.

There's a push in the U.S. Senate to get industrial hemp recognition as a mainstream crop. A bipartisan group of senators, including both Wisconsin U.S. Senators Ron Johnson and Tammy Baldwin, have signed onto a bill that would remove industrial hemp from the federal Controlled Substances Act. That would give farmers a better chance to make a profit from growing and processing hemp. A group of our Representatives in the House, including Third District Congressman Ron Kind are also supporting similar legislation on their side of Congress. And there is also a plan to include hemp provisions in the Senate's version of the 2018 farm bill-including letting states set up their own system of regulating hemp, letting researchers apply for USDA grants to do more research on hemp and to make industrial hemp eligible for federal crop insurance.

That one week extension given to dairy farmers to sign-up for the Margin Protection program runs out tomorrow. Last week Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue granted the extension so farmers could get field work under control and still get involved in MPP for 2018. USDA economists have figured the margin costs for February, March and April and those costs are triggering payments at the $8, $7.50 and $7 coverage levels. Again sign-up is open through tomorrow at county Farm Service Agency offices.

It's time for Breakfast in the Valley, put on by the Eau Claire Area Chamber of Commerce. Serving starts at 5 tomorrow morning and runs until 10 at the Eau Claire Exposition Center south of Eau Claire along Hiway 93. And if you want to see Courtney win the milk drinking contest, that happens about 7:30. You can buy tickets at the door--$7 for adults.

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