Ag Chat with Kristin Smith - Jan 31st

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ALTOONA, Wis (WEAU) -- The sixth round of the North American Free Trade Agreement talks is in the books, with all sides signaling there has been at least incremental progress, but none are signaling there have been any major breakthroughs in the talks that ran January 21-29 in Montreal.

U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer said some progress was made on certain issues and said this round was a step forward but they are progressing very slowly. Attention will now be on going through several issues leading up to the next installment of the talks coming up on February 26 thru March 6 in Mexico City.

But there was some tension during the 6th round of talks involving tariffs. U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer and Canadian Foreign Minister exchanged verbal volleys over Canada's complaint with the World Trade Organization over how Washington applies tariffs. Canada’s Foreign Minister said the complaint was triggered by U.S. tariffs on Canadian softwood, which it views as unfair and punitive. She added Canada was clear it would take this legal route if necessary. But she said if the U.S. renegotiates a settlement on softwood lumber it could lead to the withdrawal of Canada's complaint.

Both the National Milk Producers Federation and the International Dairy Foods Association are praising a proposed USDA rule for the positive effect it will have on declining school milk consumption. Last summer, Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue announced the USDA would reinstate low-fat flavored milk as an option allowed by the department. According to the interim rule, school districts can solicit bids for low-fat flavored milk in the spring before the 2018-19 school year, giving milk processors time to formulate low-fat flavored milk that meets the specifications of a school district. In 2012, USDA eliminated low-fat flavored milk as an option in the school meal and a la carte programs, which resulted in students consuming 288 million fewer half-pints of milk from 2012-2015. While the two dairy groups acknowledged that the interim rule does not compel schools to offer more milk options, both hope the option to do so will attract more students to school meal programs and increase the average daily consumption of milk.

Starting tomorrow and going on thru Friday is the 2018 Corn/Soy Expo at the Kalahari Resorts in Wisconsin Dells. Registration begins at 7:30 tomorrow morning. The general sessions will be going on throughout the day. The trade show opens at 10, the Annual meetings will be around noon, and also, the Dicamba Certification training starts in the afternoon. And don’t forget in the evening will be the Taste of Elegance where chefs from all over will be preparing food made from Pork. Last years Taste of Elegance winner Chef Mitchel Weber will also be in attendance.

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