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February 19, 2020
Livestock and Ag Credit News

China to Grant Tariff Exemptions on 696 U.S. Goods to Support Purchases

By Stella Qiu, Se Young Lee, Reuters, 02/18/20— China will grant exemptions on retaliatory duties imposed against 696 U.S. goods, the most substantial tariff relief to be offered so far, as Beijing seeks to fulfill commitments made in its interim trade deal with the United States.

Tuesday's announcement comes after the Phase 1 trade deal between the two countries took effect on Feb. 14 and is the third round of tariff exemptions China has offered on U.S. goods.

China has committed to boosting its purchases of goods and services from the United States by $200 billion over two years as part of the agreement, and has already rolled back some additional tariffs on U.S. imports after the deal was signed.

U.S. goods eligible for tariff exemptions include key agricultural and energy products such as pork, beef, soybeans, liquefied natural gas and crude oil, which were subject to extra tariffs imposed during the escalation of the bilateral trade dispute.

The coronavirus epidemic that emerged late last year in China has raised concerns about its ability to meet the purchasing targets, however. Authorities throughout the country imposed major restriction on travel and transportation to curb the spread of the virus, which has killed nearly 1,900 and infected more than 70,000 in the country.


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Livestock and Ag Credit News

NPPC's Wagstrom: ASF Vaccine Shows Great Promise, But Hurdles Remain

By Ken Anderson, Brownfield Ag News, 02/12/20—The chief veterinarian for the National Pork Producers Council says they're optimistic about development of a new African swine fever vaccine.

Dr. Liz Wagstrom says the vaccine developed by USDA researchers shows great promise. But she says there are still several hurdles to be cleared before it becomes commercially available.

"One is to find and identify a commercial partner that could take that vaccine and adapt it, so it can be grown in a commercial facility to a high enough concentration that can make a vaccine," Wagstrom says.

"I would not want to guess how long, but I would say a minimum of two years would be, I think, optimistic."

NCBA Says Survey Shows Widespread Confusion About Plant–Based Proteins

By Meghan Grebner, Brownfield Ag News, 02/12/20—The National Cattlemen's Beef Association says some of the results from a recent survey asking consumers their thoughts on plant–based proteins are worrisome.

Danielle Beck, executive director of government affairs says across the board, the survey showed confusion. "Fifty–five percent of respondents thought that plant–based 'beef' had some form of animal product in it," she says. "They did not understand that it was vegan or vegetarian. One–third, if you break that down any further thought it had real meat in it in some form or another."

She tells Brownfield they asked consumers to rank plant–based vs. beef on several attributes. "The good news is that consumers recognized beef is a great source of protein and it's affordable," he says. "They know that it's nutritious and affordable."

Beck says there are some survey results that weren't as positive. "When it comes to qualities like 'is healthy', 'is natural', 'is less processed', 'is lower in sodium', 'is good for the environment'," she says. "Plant–based products won out, if not tied with beef."

World Pork Expo Returning In 2020

Southern Farm Network, 02/12/20—The 2020 World Pork Expo is set to return this year after being canceled in 2019 due to fears of African Swine Fever.

"We're excited to welcome all members of the pork industry back to Des Moines after a brief hiatus last year," says NPPC President David Herring. "The 2020 Expo allows us to reconnect across the industry and share knowledge, as well as discuss the state of the industry together."

As a precaution, the 2019 World Pork Expo was canceled due to the outbreak of African Swine Fever in China and other countries. Since the outbreak began last year, the U.S. has stepped up biosecurity measures to prevent an outbreak in the United States. The 2020 Expo will have increased biosecurity on–site during the show.

Additional changes to the 2020 show include relocating the live swine show to reduce an already negligible risk. "Continuing to host the show for our more than 20,000 producers and pork professionals visiting from across the country is extremely important to us," Herring added.

The show is scheduled for June 3–5 at the Iowa State Fair Grounds.

BQA Positively Influences Consumer Confidence in Beef

By B. Lynn Gordon, Beef Magazine, 02/14/20—Consumers are saying they want to know more about how their food is produced. As the beef industry strives to meet their needs, one of the most effective ways to accomplish this is to learn more about the consumer and especially their preferences when it comes to animal care and well–being.

Shawn Darcy, director of market research for NCBA, a contractor of the Beef Checkoff, provided presented data collected from October through December 2019, gathered from an estimated 1,500 consumers, focusing on what consumers know or think about how cattle are raised.

Twenty–seven percent of consumers indicated they are familiar with how cattle are raised. "This means more than 70% do not understand our production practices and how beef gets to their table," says Darcy. Yet, over 40% said they are often thinking about how their food is raised when they are making their food choice.

Comparing results from 2018 to 2019, there continues to be an increase in consumers' interest in consideration of production attributes such as the use of hormones and antibiotics and if animals are raised in a responsible, humane and environmentally friendly manner. However, consumers' attention to taste, value, food safety, and nutrition remain their primary focus.

Comparing perceptions between production practices of beef or chicken, the beef industry scored slightly higher. Consumers were 40% positive in their perception of beef production practices; 35% neutral and 25% negative compared to their perceptions of chicken production at 37% positive; 35% neutral and 28% negative.

More specifically, animal welfare topped the consumers' concern for beef production at 29%, followed by hormones at 6%, antibiotics at 5% and the environment at 3%.

Global Livestock News

McDonald's Says It Remains Committed to Canadian Ranchers While Piloting Plant–Based Options

Real Agriculture, 02/17/20—For a company that proclaims its loyalty to Canadian ranchers on the back and sides of its transport trucks, navigating a foray into the plant–based market is going to be somewhat tricky.

McDonald's marketing director Jean–Guillaume Bertola fully understands that the company has to strike a balance between adapting menus based on changing consumer preferences, and celebrating and nurturing the community it has built with its Canadian value chain members — farmers and ranchers.

Bertola says its "Not without Canadian ranchers" campaign is just one part of the company's commitment to Canadian producers and to continued improvement of the beef industry. As a founding member of the Canadian Roundtable for Sustainable Beef, McDonald's has been at the forefront of bringing branded sustainably–raised product to the fast food market.

Though McDonald's originally said it would stay out of the plant–protein marketing, the company is moving forward with a Beyond Meat–based "P.L.T." Bertola says support for the recent plant–protein initiative has no impact on McDonald's continued commitment to the beef sector, noting, "It's a response to consumer demand, and we want to explore that as well, to have variety on the menu."

Uncertainty Over Coronavirus Puts Selling Pressure on US Hog Markets

By Jim Wyckoff, The Pig Site, 02/17/20—Some medical experts are now saying China under–reported the coronavirus cases in the country. World Health Organization officials have now warned the outbreak "could still go in any direction." Markets do not like uncertainty. Look for the hog futures market to continue to see selling pressure from this situation, as the once again wonder about a worst–case scenario playing out, including less demand for pork coming from the world's most populous nation.

Some analysts believe China will restructure its meat production and distribution system, shifting away from smaller producers and toward large–scale operations in the wake of the coronavirus outbreak, African swine fever and avian flu.

On the positive side, many market watchers say it is still very likely China will need to boost imports of pork to reduce shortages and alleviate high prices that are currently near the 2019 record highs.


Global Livestock News

Building Better Relationship Between the EPA and Ag for the Future

By Meghan Grebner, Brownfield Ag News, 02/12/20—The head of the EPA says one of his goals is to improve the relationship and dialogue between the agency and America's farmers and ranchers.

Administrator Andrew Wheeler says that's why the agency recently revitalized its Farm, Ranch, and Rural Communities Committee. "We're taking a look at everything we can do, but one of the things that was very important was for us to not sit back and guess at what farmers might need, or what might be beneficial to work on," he says. "It's to have an agriculture committee like we are reconstituting in order to solicit advice."

He tells Brownfield they've recently signed a Memorandum of Understanding with the National FFA Organization. "We're also starting to talk with young farmers as they're coming up," he says. "That's a two–way street, it's to find out what they're thinking about but it's also educate them on what EPA is doing."

Animal Abuse Claims Against Iowa Senator Are 'Unfounded,' Say State, Local Investigators

By Donnelle Eller, The Des Moines Register, 02/14/20—An animal abuse complaint against Iowa state Sen. Ken Rozenboom, an Oskaloosa–area pork producer targeted by an animal rights group for his role in passing the state's new "ag–gag" law, is unfounded, say state and local investigators.

"The investigation did not indicate there was any abuse," said Mahaska County Sheriff Russell Van Renterghem, who worked with County Attorney Andrew Ritland in reaching the conclusion.

Direct Action Everywhere, a California–based animal rights group, filed the complaint against Rozenboom after entering one of his pig facilities without permission in April, taking photographs and video of the animals inside.

The group said it targeted the Republican lawmaker because of his support for the ag–gag law, which makes it a crime for animal welfare activists, journalists and others to go undercover at meatpacking plants and livestock facilities to document conditions.

"These people do not believe that milk, meat and eggs should be consumed by people and they're determined to destroy those industries," said Rozenboom, who was leasing the facility to another producer when Direct Action Everywhere entered the building last year.

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Prepared by Polly Welden

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