Ag Chat with Kristin Smith - Nov. 8

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ALTOONA, Wis. (WEAU) -- The North American Free Trade Agreement re-negotiation talks were scheduled to start next Friday the 17th, but now negotiators are considering moving the talks up by two days. According to Bloomberg, the NAFTA talks will take place yet in Mexico City, but will start on the 15th and go thru the 21st. The decision to extend the round comes after officials from the U.S., Canada and Mexico abandoned a December target last month to wrap up talks to revamp NAFTA, saying they needed until the end of March to negotiate a new deal. They also extended the time between each round, giving themselves more space to consider proposals. The 6th round of talks between the three countries is set to be in Washington December 11-15, though the nations' ministers aren't expected to attend those meetings.

Four months after the United States announced it would withdraw from the Trans Pacific Partnership, the remaining 11 countries agreed to launch a process to assess options to bring the high quality agreement back into action and how to facilitate membership for the original signatories. The countries agreed to a November 10 deadline at the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation leaders summit that took place in Vietnam. However, U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer said this wouldn't draw the US back in to TPP and also said "TPP 11 can make their decisions, and the US makes its decisions."

A loyal sidekick to turkey and stuffing on the Thanksgiving table is the humble cranberry which now has a new fan base -- in China. According to DTN, Chinese consumers, who five years ago barely knew what a cranberry was, now snack on the dried berries and toss them into smoothies and baked goods believing they are healthful and unique. Their increased appetite for the Craisin has helped boost China to the second-largest export market for U.S. processed cranberries in 2016, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, behind the Netherlands. That is good news to cranberry growers in places like Massachusetts, one of the nation's top two cranberry-producing states, along with Wisconsin. Local bogs now find themselves hosting Chinese entrepreneurs visiting the U.S. looking for products to take back home.

With the holidays only a few weeks away some are interested in desserts, even pecan pie. Now, a tiny bug is causing a problem to one of New Mexico's biggest cash crops. A bug known as the pecan weevil was found in orchards in late 2016 and early 2017 in southeast New Mexico. Quarantines were put in place and now New Mexico's Department of Agriculture wants to make them permanent which would prevent trading to the west where demand is high. According to the USDA, New Mexico growers produced 72 million pounds of pecans in 2016 worth roughly $180 million.

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