Friday, June 7, 2019

Friday June 7 Ag News

Trump Says US, Mexico Reach Agreement to Prevent Tariffs

(AP) -- President Donald Trump says he has suspended plans to impose tariffs on Mexico, tweeting that the country "has agreed to take strong measures" to stem the flow of Central American migrants into the United States.

"I am pleased to inform you that The United States of America has reached a signed agreement with Mexico," Trump tweeted Friday night, saying the "Tariffs scheduled to be implemented by the U.S. on Monday, against Mexico, are hereby indefinitely suspended."

He said Mexico has agreed to work to "stem the tide of Migration through Mexico, and to our Southern Border" and said those steps would "greatly reduce, or eliminate, Illegal Immigration coming from Mexico and into the United States."

According to a "U.S.-Mexico Joint Declaration" released by the State Department late Friday, the U.S. said it will work to greatly expand a program that returns asylum-seekers who cross the southern border to Mexico while their claims are adjudicated.

Mexico has also agreed to take "unprecedented steps to increase enforcement to curb irregular migration," including the deployment of the Mexican National Guard throughout the country, especially on its southern border with Guatemala. And the U.S. said Mexico is also taking "decisive action to dismantle human smuggling and trafficking organizations as well as their illicit financial and transportation networks."

Trump's decision marked a change in tone from earlier Friday, when his spokeswoman Sarah Sanders told reporters in Ireland before Trump took off: "Our position has not changed. The tariffs are going forward as of Monday." Trump has often said unpredictability helps him negotiate.

The 5% tax on all Mexican goods , which would increase every month up to 25% under Trump's plan, would have had enormous economic implications for both countries. Americans bought $378 billion worth of Mexican imports last year, led by cars and auto parts. Many members of Trump's Republican Party and business allies had urged him to reconsider -- or at least postpone actually implementing the tariffs as talks continue -- citing the potential harm to American consumers and manufactures.

U.S. and Mexican officials met for more than 10 hours Friday during a third day of talks at the U.S. State Department trying to hash out a deal that would satisfy Trump's demand that Mexico dramatically increase its efforts to crack down on migrants.

The talks were said to be focused, in part, on attempting to reach a compromise on changes that would make it harder for migrants who pass through Mexico from other countries to claim asylum in the U.S., those monitoring the situation said. Mexico has opposed such a change but appeared open to considering a potential compromise that could include exceptions or waivers for different types of cases.

The joint declaration, however makes no mention of the issue.

Trump in recent months has embraced tariffs as a political tool he can use to force countries to comply with his demands -- in this case on his signature issue of immigration. And he had appeared poised earlier Friday to invoke an emergency declaration that would allow him to put the tariffs into effect if that was his final decision, according to people monitoring the talks.

"If negotiations continue to go well," Trump "can turn that off at some point over the weekend," Marc Short, Vice President Mike Pence's chief of staff, told reporters earlier in the day.

Talks had gotten off to a shaky start Wednesday, as the U.S. once again pressed Mexico to step up enforcement on its southern border with Guatemala and to enter into a "safe third country agreement" overhauling its asylum system. But as talks progressed Thursday, U.S. officials began to grow more optimistic, with Short reporting Mexican "receptivity" to potential asylum changes.

In Mexico, President Andrs Manuel Lpez Obrador held out hope during his daily news conference that a deal could be reached before Monday's deadline.

Mexican Foreign Secretary Marcelo Ebrard, who said Thursday his country had agreed to deploy 6,000 National Guard troops to its border with Guatemala, tweeted the news late Friday that there would be no "tariff application on Monday."

"Thanks to all the people who have supported us by realizing the greatness of Mexico," he wrote.

Lpez Obrador also tweeted. "Thanks to the support of all Mexicans, the imposition of tariffs on Mexican products exported to the USA has been avoided," he said, calling for a gathering to celebrate in Tijuana Saturday.

Beyond Trump and several White House advisers, few in his administration had believed the tariffs were a good idea, according to officials familiar with internal deliberations. Those people had worried about the negative economic consequences for Americans and argued that tariffs -- which would likely spark retaliatory taxes on U.S. exports -- would also hurt the administration politically.

Republicans in Congress had also warned the White House that they were ready to stand up to the president to try to block his tariffs, which they worried would spike costs to U.S. consumers, harm the economy and imperil a major pending U.S.-Mexico-Canada trade deal.

PVC Summer Tour Details Announced

Boyd Hellbusch, Platte Valley Cattlemen President

Once again, it’s time for our annual Cattlemen’s tour. The date for our local tour is set for June 17, 2019. With this year’s tour being local, we will not need a bus so we ask everyone to drive on their own or set up a carpool with others who will be going on the tour.

This year, we are planning to make three stops. The first will be at RMS just two miles west of Leigh. Ryan recently built a bulk fertilizer plant here. He will walk us around his facility and show us his new and improved way of loading out fertilizer. Ryan’s address is 48303 115 Ave., Leigh, NE, two miles west of Leigh on Hwy. 91, then ½ mile south. We will begin at 1-2 p.m.

Second stop will be at Mark Olmer’s chicken barns north of Humphrey. With all the talk about these big barns going up, we thought it would be good to tour them before the chickens arrive. Mark’s site will hold over 300,000 chickens. Join us at 82236 552 Ave., Humphrey, or from 81/91 junction, go three miles north on 81, one mile west and ½ mile north. We will begin this tour at 2:30-3:30 p.m.

The third and final stop will be at Larson Dairy just north of Creston. Larsons recently put up a new robotic dairy barn. Come see how dairy barns have improved over the years. The Larson address is 50903 190 Avenue, Creston. From the Creston spur on Highway 91, go 1 ½ miles north. This tour is scheduled 4:00-5:00 p.m.

After the tour ends at Larson Dairy, we will go 2.5 miles south of Creston on 190th Avenue and will be eating at Scott Hellbusch’s shop. Come join us for steaks and refreshments sponsored by the businesses listed below and cooked by the Platte Valley Cattlemen.

We want to personally thank those who helped sponsor our tour:
·    3 Jand G Shade, Richland
·    First National Bank
·    Pinnacle Bank

We look forward to seeing you all on June 17th!

USDA Funds Available to Help Improve Wildlife Habitat

Farmers and ranchers interested in improving wildlife habitat on their operations are encouraged to apply now for funding available from the USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS). Those interested in receiving funding should apply by July 5, 2019.

Craig Derickson, state conservationist for NRCS in Nebraska said, “Nebraska ag producers care not only about growing a crop, they also enjoy caring for the wildlife that share their land. This funding can help them make that goal a reality.”

Funding is available through the Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP). EQIP has designated funding specifically for wildlife habit improvement through the Wildlife Initiative Nebraska. Funding can be used to plant native grass species, control brush on rangeland, conduct prescribed burns to improve grassland and much more.

EQIP is one of the most widely applied conservation programs in Nebraska. Through this program, conservation practices were installed on over 475,000 acres in Nebraska during 2018 with over 900,000 acres currently under contract statewide.

The goal of EQIP is to provide a financial incentive to encourage landowners to install conservation practices that protect natural resources, resulting in cleaner air and water, healthy soil and more wildlife habitat.

Individuals interested in entering into an EQIP agreement may apply at any time, but the application cut-off to be considered for funding through the Wildlife Initiative Nebraska will be July 5, 2019. The first step is to visit your local NRCS field office and complete an application.

For more information about the Environmental Quality Incentives Program and other conservation programs, visit your local NRCS field office or

2019 Nebraska Beef Ambassador Contest

Seven contestants participated in the 2019 Nebraska Beef Ambassador Contest, hosted by the NCW Consumer Promotion and Education committee on June 4th in Columbus. There were two divisions, senior and collegiate, which were judged upon three different areas of the industry consisting of a mock consumer promotional event, media interview and an issues response.

Winners included the following:


1st Sydni Lienemann, Princeton
2nd Anna Kobza, Lincoln
3rd Kelsey Phillips, Mullen


1st  Jennifer Sedlacek, Nehawka
2nd Rachel Smith, Osceola
3rd Gracie Pinckney, Bassett

NE Farm Bureau Announces Listening Session Tour

Join them for food, updates, and discussion about key agriculture issues

-    Attend one of our upcoming Regional Listening Sessions
-    Share your thoughts on agriculture issues important to you
-    Get updates from Nebraska Farm Bureau leadership and staff on key issues

-    School Funding
-    Property Taxes
-    Health Care
-    Farm Bill
-    Trade
-    Broadband
-    Other issues impacting your agricultural operation


Monday, August 12
6:00 p.m.
Nielsen Community Center
200 Anna Stalp Ave.
West Point, NE

To RSVP text LISTENING SESSIONS to 52886 or click on the button below....
Learn more at

ICON’S Annual Meeting & Convention: Friday June 21, 2019, Broken Bow, Nebraska

    The Independant Cattlemen of Nebraska (ICON) will be hosting their 14th Annual Meeting & Convention in Broken Bow, Nebraska, on Friday June 21st, 2019, 1:30 p.m. – 8:30 p.m. (CST) at the Cobblestone Hotel.

    It’s been 14 years and the Independent Cattlemen Of Nebraska (ICON) are still going strong and making a difference. Come out and join them and be a part of positive change for the Independent Cattlemen, protecting your rights, your industry and your’ wallet so you can continue to grow a quality “real” beef, American raised product for the American consumer.

    At 1:30 p.m. Registration & Silent Auction benefiting the “Jim Hanna Memorial Scholarship” begins.

    At 2:30 p.m. the ICON Annual Meeting, Legislative updates like property taxes; as well as new and proposed laws relating to the brand committee, fence law and artificial meat from featured legal counsel Rick Leonard for the Nebraska Agricultural Committee starts.

    At 4:00 p.m. the first of our two dynamic and informative speakers – Brian O’Shaughnessy of New York, he is the Chairman of Revere Copper and the Vice Chairman of the Coalition for a Prosperous America and has testified before Congress and before the International Trade Commission. He will speak on “What You Don’t Know About Trade & It's Impact on Your Country & Your Cattle”.

   At 6:30 p.m. our second honored guest speaker from Nebraska, Michael B. Yanney, will speak. He is Chairman Emeritus of the Board of Burlington Capital and has done business in 14 countries and served on a joint U.S.-Russia delegation. He will speak about “Nebraska is in a Crisis ~Time to make Changes.”

   Supper will be catered by the Bonfire Grill at 6:15 p.m. with cocktails prior. End the evening relaxing & laughing with entertainment by humorist & cowboy poet R.P. Smith and mingle afterwards with fellow Cattle men & women.

   Registration is $25.00 per person and includes the sirloin tip supper. Bring a first time attendee and both of you will get in free (some restrictions). If you have not paid your’ 2019 membership, get $10 off the $100 membership fee if paid with registration or at the event.

   Register with Maureen by calling 308-880-1505 or e-mail her at, or visit our website for forms & mail to: 432 N. 10th Ave., Broken Bow, NE 68822.

   Spend the night at the Cobblestone Hotel, (308-767-2060) with our special ICON block of room rates for $80.00/night (rates honored Thursday –Saturday). Saturday enjoy an informal round of golf at the Broken Bow Country Club.

April Beef and Pork Exports below 2018 Levels; Lamb Still Trending Higher

April exports of U.S. beef and pork were lower than a year ago while U.S. lamb exports continued their upward trend, according to data released by USDA and compiled by the U.S. Meat Export Federation (USMEF).

Beef exports totaled 105,241 metric tons (mt) in April, down 5% year-over-year, though export value was down only slightly at $674.2 million. For January through April, exports were 4% below last year’s record pace in volume (412,547 mt) and 1% lower in value ($2.58 billion).

On a per-head basis, beef export value per head of fed slaughter averaged $305.61 (down 7% from April 2018). The January-April average was $308.34 per head, down 3% from a year ago. April exports accounted for 12.5% of total U.S. beef production and 10.2% for muscle cuts only, down from 14.1% and 11.3%, respectively, a year ago. For January through April, these ratios were 12.7% and 10.2% (down from 13.4% and 10.8%).

Pork exports totaled 216,757 mt in April, down 6% from a year ago, valued at $535.2 million (down 8%). January-April exports were also 6% below last year’s pace in volume (817,025 mt) and were down 12% in value to just over $2 billion.

Pork export value averaged $50.58 per head slaughtered in April, down 13% from a year ago but the highest in 10 months. For January through April, export value averaged $47.25 per head, down 15% from the same period last year. April exports accounted for 26.6% of total U.S. pork production and 23.3% for muscle cuts only – down from 29.9% and 25.8%, respectively, in April 2018. January-April exports accounted for 24.9% of total pork production (down from 27.4%) and 21.8% for muscle cuts (down from 23.7%).

Beef demand strong in Korea and Taiwan; Japan edges lower

South Korea remains the export growth leader for U.S. beef, with April volume up 18% to 22,584 mt. April value surged 22% to $164.3 million, surpassing Japan as the month’s leading value market. January-April exports to Korea were 11% ahead of last year’s record pace in volume (78,757 mt) and climbed 15% higher in value ($578.5 million). U.S. share of Korea’s total beef imports climbed to 47.5%, up a full percentage point from last year. U.S. share of Korea’s chilled beef imports reached 60%.

Taiwan is also coming off a record year for U.S. beef exports and posted a strong April at 5,118 mt (up 15% from a year ago) valued at $47.9 million (up 14%). Through April, exports to Taiwan totaled 18,605 mt (up 6%) valued at $165.6 million (down 2%).

In Japan, where all of U.S. beef’s major competitors have gained tariff relief in 2019, April exports were down 6% from a year ago in both volume (24,149 mt) and value ($156.8 million). Export volume through April was steady with last year’s pace at 98,296 mt while value increased 2% to $637.2 million. U.S. market share in Japan is still more than 41%, but this is down from nearly 45% in the first four months of 2017. For chilled beef, U.S. share has slipped two percentage points to 47.4%. In April, Japan’s imports from Mexico more than tripled year-over-year and imports also increased from Canada (up 52%), New Zealand (up 41%) and Australia (up 9%) as competitors of U.S. beef benefited from lower tariff rates.

“U.S. beef is holding its own in Japan, but the April numbers are telling,” cautioned USMEF President and CEO Dan Halstrom. “With the April 1 rate cut, Australian, Canadian, New Zealand and Mexican beef are now subject to a 26.6% duty while the rate for U.S. beef remains at 38.5%. It is absolutely essential that the U.S. secures an agreement that will level this playing field. U.S. beef’s exceptional growth in Korea is a great example of what’s possible when tariffs are less of an obstacle.”

Other January-April highlights for U.S. beef include:

-    Beef exports to Mexico continue to post strong results, especially for muscle cuts. Combined beef/beef variety meat exports through April were 2% below last year’s pace at 76,870 mt, but value increased 9% to $372.4 million. For muscle cuts only, exports to Mexico climbed 8% from a year ago in volume (47,379 mt) and 11% in value ($293.3 million).
-    Strong growth in the Philippines fueled a 20% increase in beef exports to the ASEAN region as volume reached 17,770 mt, valued at $86.9 million (up 6%). Export volume also trended higher to Indonesia and Vietnam.
-    An exceptional performance in the Dominican Republic is fueling a strong year for U.S. beef in the Caribbean. Exports to the Dominican Republic soared 56% above last year’s pace in volume (3,068 mt) and 50% higher in value ($25 million). The Caribbean was up 16% in volume (9,826 mt) and 18% in value ($65.2 million) with exports also trending higher for Jamaica and the Bahamas.
-    Exports to Hong Kong slipped 36% from a year ago in volume (27,825 mt) and were 29% lower in value ($236.6 million). Despite a 25% retaliatory duty, U.S. beef exports to China increased 5% to 2,417 mt, but value was down 15% to $18.2 million as most of the tariff cost was borne by U.S. suppliers. China’s beef imports already eclipsed $2 billion through the first four months of this year, up 54% from last year’s record pace, but the U.S. holds less than 1% of China’s booming beef import market.
-    Exports to Canada were down 15% in volume to 31,070 mt and 14% in value to just under $200 million. Demand has been impacted by larger Canadian beef production in 2019, but elimination of the 10% retaliatory duty on prepared beef products from the U.S. will help exports in this important category rebound.

Latin America, Oceania, Taiwan bolster pork exports

On May 20, the 20% retaliatory duty on most U.S. pork entering Mexico was removed, as the U.S., Mexico and Canada reached an agreement on steel and aluminum tariffs. This was obviously too late to boost April pork exports to Mexico, which sank 30% from a year ago in volume (54,971 mt) and 29% in value to $94.5 million. For January through April, exports to Mexico were down 18% in volume (232,391 mt) and 29% in value ($356.5 million).

“Lifting of Mexico’s retaliatory duties was the most welcome news the U.S. pork industry has received in a long time,” Halstrom said. “Now let’s hope the duty-free access U.S. pork has enjoyed in Mexico since late May isn’t short-lived.”

President Trump has proposed a 5% tariff on all goods imported from Mexico unless more steps are taken to curb illegal migration at the U.S.-Mexico border. The tariff would take effect June 10 and increase to 25% by Oct. 1, but negotiations are ongoing and Mexico has not yet announced any retaliatory measures.

U.S. pork also faces a significant disadvantage in China, where retaliatory duties remain in effect and competitors are positioning to fill China’s looming African swine fever-driven pork shortfall. January-April exports to China/Hong Kong were 16% below last year’s pace in volume (128,200 mt) and down 32% in value ($242 million).

Leading value market Japan has not imposed any new tariffs on U.S. pork but its main competitors (European, Canadian and Mexican pork) have gained tariff relief in 2019. January-April exports of U.S. pork to Japan were down 7% from a year ago in volume (123,166 mt) and fell 9% in value ($493.3 million), as U.S. share of Japan’s total imports fell from 36% last year to 32%. The sharpest decline was in Japan’s imports of U.S. ground seasoned pork, which were down nearly $40 million.

January-April highlights for U.S. pork include:

-    A strong performance in mainstay market Colombia and excellent growth in Chile and Peru drove exports to South America 44% above last year’s record pace in volume (57,005 mt) and 42% higher in value ($136.9 million). In Colombia, where USMEF has helped bolster demand for U.S. pork through promotional campaigns, educational seminars and enhanced efforts to overcome technical barriers, exports climbed 25% from a year ago to 37,283 mt valued at $79.6 million (up 17%). Last year, even with domestic production on the rise, the Colombian market took more than $215 million in U.S. pork, more than double the value exported in 2016.
-    Exports to Central America are also coming off a record year in 2018 and climbed 11% in volume (29,321 mt) and 8% in value ($68.3 million), led by growth in Guatemala, Panama and Costa Rica.
-    April exports to Australia were the largest of 2019, pushing January-April volume to 37,979 mt (up 37% from last year’s record pace) valued at $98.6 million (up 21%). Exports to New Zealand are also performing extremely well in 2019, climbing 53% in volume (3,390 mt) and 36% in value ($10.1 million). Oceania is a strong region for U.S. hams used for further processing, which is especially important at a time when ham exports to Mexico and China were being pressured by tariffs.
-    Despite facing ractopamine-related restrictions in Taiwan, exports increased 80% in volume (8,819 mt) and 55% in value ($19.3 million). Exports to Taiwan slumped in 2016 but have been rebounding over the past 2½ years.

Momentum continues to grow for U.S. lamb

Strong variety meat demand in Mexico and muscle cut growth in the Caribbean, the Middle East and Panama have fueled an upward trend in U.S. lamb exports. April exports totaled 1,227 mt, up 26% from a year ago, while value was up 15% to $2.2 million. For January-April, exports were up 56% year-over-year in volume (5,400 mt) and up 26% in value ($9.1 million). Muscle cut exports were up 17% in volume to 828 mt and climbed 19% in value to $5.4 million.

Biosecurity Featured at The Exposition Pig Show

The Pork Checkoff, in collaboration with the National Junior Swine Association and Team Purebred – the nation’s largest youth swine organizations – led an industry panel on biosecurity and farm preparation. Nearly 1,400 exhibitors, parents and industry spectators were on-site at The Exposition pig show at the Iowa State Fairgrounds as the panel addressed hot topics to stem on-farm disease spread.

“Our youth exhibitors have always strived to demonstrate good biosecurity measures to keep their pigs healthy,” said Clay Zwilling, chief executive officer of the National Swine Registry, the pedigree livestock association for the Duroc, Hampshire, Landrace and Yorkshire breeds. “With the pork industry focused on keeping African swine fever (ASF) from entering the U.S., it was an appropriate time to remind youth about the importance of biosecurity and to further educate them on foreign animal diseases, as well as reemphasize their understanding and appreciation of the broader pork industry.”

The panel discussed biosecurity best practices and the important role youth exhibitors play in protecting the health of the U.S. swine herd. This took place prior to the grand barrow selection and was held in the main show ring to engage the most attendees.

The biosecurity panelists included Doug Albright, Zoetis Animal Health and Albright Swine Farm, Michigan; Nick Doran, Swine Genetics International, Iowa; Daniel Hendrickson, DVM, Stoney Creek Veterinary Service and Consultation, Indiana; and Benny Mote, University of Nebraska.

“The panelists are experienced professionals within their specific industry segment,” said Brett Kaysen, assistant vice president of sustainability for the Pork Checkoff. “They each shared the relationship among pig health, biosecurity and foreign animal diseases, such as ASF, and why it’s so critical to take steps now to safeguard their pigs from these threats.”

Dakota Moyers, executive director with Team Purebred, the junior association for the Berkshire, Chester White, Poland China, Hereford and Spotted breeds, reiterates the panel’s bottom line.

“We realize that as an association focused on helping youth raise quality, healthy pigs across the country, we must do our part to help ensure proper biosecurity protocols are being understood and implemented,” Moyers said. “It’s a responsibility that we don’t take lightly and one that we are committed to achieving.”

Kaysen, who moderated the discussion, reminded the audience that ASF is a viral disease that affects only pigs, not people – so it is not a public health threat nor a food-safety concern.

Pork Checkoff resources on youth exhibitor biosecurity can be found on A toolkit – Keep Your Pigs Healthy, A Biosecurity Toolkit for Youth Exhibitors – also is available online.  A recording of the panel can be found at 

Joint Statement from USW and NAWG on New Discovery of GE Wheat Plants

U.S. Wheat Associates (USW) and the National Association of Wheat Growers (NAWG) are aware that USDA’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) has confirmed the discovery of genetically engineered (GE) wheat plants growing in an unplanted agricultural field in Washington State. APHIS says the GE wheat in question is resistant to the herbicide glyphosate.

We believe APHIS is well prepared to identify additional information about this discovery and has confirmed to us that:
-    there is no evidence suggesting that this wheat event, or any other GM wheat event has entered U.S. commercial supplies or entered the food supply;
-    there are no GE wheat varieties for sale or in commercial production in the United States at this time, as APHIS has not deregulated any GE wheat varieties;
-    there is no health risk associated with glyphosate resistance events in wheat based on U.S. Food and Drug Administration evaluations

We appreciate that USDA is collaborating with our organizations and our state, industry and trading partners to provide timely and transparent information about their findings as they investigate this discovery. We understand samples of the wheat plants from the field in Washington were sent to the USDA Federal Grain Inspection Service lab in Kansas City, MO, as well as USDA Agricultural Research lab in Pullman, WA, for testing and confirmation.

We cannot speculate or comment about any potential market reactions until we have a chance to discuss the situation in more detail with overseas customers. Based on what we know today from APHIS, we are confident that nothing has changed the U.S. wheat supply chain’s ability to deliver wheat that matches every customer’s specifications.

U.S. Ethanol Exports Rose Further in April, as Distillers Grains Exports Moderated

Ann Lewis, RFA Research Analyst
U.S. ethanol exports rose to 150.2 million gallons (mg) in April, according to data issued by the government and analyzed by the Renewable Fuels Association (RFA). This was a 7% increase from March and the highest volume since last October.

Brazil was the top destination for the fifth straight month, purchasing 40.9 mg of ethanol, which represented just over one-quarter of total U.S. shipments. India edged out Canada as the second-largest destination, as shipments more than tripled from a month earlier to 34.1 mg, the highest level since March 2017. This occurred even though exports to Canada surged 37% to 31.0 mg. Other top importers included South Korea (8.5 mg), the Philippines (7.6 mg), the European Union (7.2 mg) and Colombia (5.3 mg).

April exports of undenatured fuel ethanol receded 11% to 82.2 mg, as sales to Brazil, the top destination, fell 40% to 39.5 mg. Shipments to India surged to 24.8 mg, offsetting a significant share of the decline in shipments to Brazil. Other key destinations were the EU (7.2 mg), South Korea (3.5 mg) and Mexico (3.2 mg).

On the other hand, U.S. exports of denatured fuel ethanol climbed 88% in April to 62.6 mg. This occurred as U.S. exports to Canada increased 38% to 29.8 mg, and shipments to India reached 9.3 mg versus none a month earlier. The Philippines (4.9 mg), South Korea (4.9 mg), Colombia (4.3 mg) and Peru (3.7 mg) were other major markets.

U.S. exports of ethanol for non-fuel, non-beverage purposes fell back to 5.4 mg in April after moving higher in March. Shipments of undenatured product shrank to 1.3 mg, over two-thirds of which went to Canada. Exports of denatured product for non-fuel applications declined to 4.2 mg, 91% of which was destined for Nigeria.

The U.S imported ethanol for the second straight month. Imports rose to 13.2 mg in April from 10.7 mg in March. Almost all was undenatured fuel ethanol. Of the total, 10.5 mg was received from Brazil, 2.6 mg from Guatemala and minor amounts from Canada.

U.S. exports of dried distillers grains, the animal feed co-product generated by dry-mill ethanol plants, declined modestly to 917,836 metric tons (mt) in April from 956,828 mt in March. Shipments to Mexico, the top destination, increased 42% to 182,229 mt. Exports to South Korea (107,488 mt) and Vietnam (89,464 mt) receded. Thailand (60,231 mt) and Canada (53,492 mt) rounded out the top five destinations, while shipments to Turkey fell to zero after surging the month before.

Tariffs on Mexican Cattle Will Restore Lost Opportunities for U.S. Cattle Producers

According to R-CALF USA, the proposed implementation of a five percent tariff on Mexican imports will benefit U.S. cattle producers. Last year, the R-CALF USA board of directors unanimously called upon President Trump to impose new tariffs on cattle, beef, sheep, and lamb imported from countries that maintain substantial trade surpluses with the United States.

The group said that underpriced imports were displacing domestic cattle and sheep production and tariffs were needed to offset the artificial price advantage that foreign countries gain through currency manipulation, cutting food safety corners, hidden subsidies, and lax environmental standards.

Last year, Mexico exported nearly 1.3 million cattle to the United States, which was the largest volume of exports in 14 years. Export volumes to the United States in 2019 are on track to be even higher, as they were 22 percent higher during the first four months of this year compared to last.

According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, Mexican feeder cattle weighing about 550 lbs. in June are priced at about $131 per hundredweight. Comparable U.S. cattle of the same weight are bringing $152 per hundredweight in Oklahoma City and $170 per hundredweight in other areas of the United States.

“This means those Mexican feeder cattle are imported into the United States at a price that is up to $214 per head cheaper than they can be produced by U.S. cattle producers,” said R-CALF USA CEO Bill Bullard.

Bullard added, “This is why the U.S. continues to lose cattle farms and ranches at an alarming rate – we are allowing cheaper imports to displace our domestic production, and this eliminates opportunities for U.S. cattle producers to remain profitable as well as opportunities for aspiring cattle producers to enter the cattle industry.

Bullard said that to make matters worse, U.S. cattle producers cannot compete against these cheaper imports because the meat from these imported cattle is no longer differentiated from meat produced exclusively in the United States.

In 2015, Congress repealed the country-of-origin labeling (COOL) law that previously informed consumers as to which meat was derived from imported cattle. Today, when these imported cattle are slaughtered, all the resulting beef is eligible for a “Product of USA” label, which Bullard says undermines the integrity of the higher quality beef produced exclusively in America.

He contends this is blatantly unfair to U.S. cattle producers as well as to consumers who are misled by the deceptive labels.

“This is a scheme to allow importers to reap windfall profits off the backs of both producers and consumers – they import these cattle at low costs but are able to sell the beef at the same price as domestically-produced beef, meaning consumers do not benefit at all from the price differential.

“Applying tariffs on imported Mexican cattle is the first step to leveling the playing field for hard-working American farmers and ranchers who don’t want to reduce their quality or food safety standards, which is what they would have to do to compete with this rising tide of cheaper, undifferentiated imports from Mexico,” he concluded.

Settlement Talks Begin Over Missouri Meat-Labeling Law

Settlement discussions are under way over a lawsuit challenging a Missouri measure making it a misdemeanor crime to promote plant-based food products as "meat."

A federal court document dated Monday says attorneys for Missouri and vegetarian food entities who sued are working diligently toward a settlement agreement as part of a court-ordered mediation process.

The Missouri that law took effect last August was challenged by the Oregon-based Tofurky Co., which makes vegetarian food products, and The Good Food Institute, a Washington, D.C.-based nonprofit that advocates for alternatives to meat.

The suit claims the law infringes on First Amendment free speech rights to use product labels such as "veggie burgers" and "vegetarian ham roast."

A federal judge never has ruled on a request for a preliminary injunction.

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