Georgia Ag Commissioner Concerned About USMCA

Carrie Muehling Leave a Comment

Georgia Commissioner of Agriculture Gary Black is optimistic about the agriculture industry in his state, and shared a priority to open markets in new places for Georgia-grown products in the months ahead. At the same time, he has some concern regarding the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA) as it stands currently, because of hardships it may bring to produce growers.

“With this agreement, there’s still unbridled access to our market window and that is a cause of concern,” said Black, who attended the 2020 Southeast Regional Fruit and Vegetable Conference.

Black also stressed the importance of looking at food safety standards, regulatory standards and labor practices when passing these types of agreements.

Listen to Chuck’s interview with Commissioner Black here: Interview with Gary Black, Georgia Commissioner of Agriculture

2020 Southeast Regional Fruit & Vegetable Conference Photo Album

Audio, fruit, Produce, Trade, Vegetables

Zimfo Bytes 1/17

Carrie Muehling Leave a Comment

  • House Agriculture Committee Chairman Collin Peterson of Minnesota introduced legislation that would provide the Food and Drug Administration with the flexibility to allow hemp-derived cannabidiol (CBD) to be marketed in dietary supplements. The bill would also require a study and report from the U.S. Department of Agriculture, which oversees the production of hemp, on the regulatory and market barriers for farmers engaged in hemp production.
  • At this month’s Beltwide Cotton Conference in Austin, Texas, Dr. Dan Fromme was named the 2020 Cotton Specialist of the Year. The award, sponsored by BASF, was presented to Fromme at the event’s annual award dinner and reception, attended by cotton specialists from across the Cotton Belt.
  • Dr. Don Jones, Cotton Incorporated’s director of Agricultural Research – Breeding and Genetics in Cary, N.C., has been selected by the Joint Cotton Breeding Committee as the recipient of the 2019 Cotton Genetics Research Award.
  • HELM Agro US, Inc., a global manufacturer of high-quality crop protection and fertilizer products, announces the hiring of Jeff Krieger as Regional Sales Manager for the east Cornbelt.
  • Swanson Russell announced that Brent Schott has been appointed to president. Chief Executive Officer Dave Hansen has moved into the role of chairman. Brian Boesche will continue his role as chief creative officer.
  • Swanson Russell recently promoted Stuart Adams to media strategist, Jack Chatelain to designer and Jon Lundeen to associate creative director.
  • The Global Farmer Network welcomed 29 new farmers at its first international-based Global Farmer Roundtable, January 6-10, 2020 in Mexico City.
  • The Empire State Potato Growers announced that they have entered into agreement with Lee Newspapers Inc., publishers of Country Folks weekly farm newspaper, to purchase Empire Farm Days.
  • AgGrad nominations for the second cohort of the ‘AgGrad 30 Under 30’ program soon close. Submit nominations for worthy candidates today at The deadline is January 31st.
  • Sukup Manufacturing Co. and the Iowa Department of Cultural Affairs are bringing SILO, the first ever feature film about a grain entrapment, to the Iowa Power Farming Show on January 29th, 2020 at 4:30pm CST. The film will screen at Hy-Vee Hall at the Iowa Events Center. The event is presented with the support of the Iowa Power Farming Show, Successful Farming Magazine and Iowa Corn.
  • Texas A&M AgriLife has hired Jennifer Yezak, an experienced public servant in agriculture policy, to lead AgriLife’s extensive agriculture and natural resources policy agenda in our nation’s capital.
  • The GROWMARK Foundation is once again offering 15 $1,500 scholarship program for students in the United States and Ontario, Canada, pursing two- or four-year degrees or trade school certification in an agriculture-related field.
  • Vermeer and professional bull rider, Jess Lockwood, have forged a marketing partnership, making the two-time world champion of the PBR tour the newest face of Vermeer Agriculture.
  • Case IH is proud to announce a new partnership with Montana-based farmstead, Welker Farms Inc.
  • The National Association of Wheat Growers has announced that it has selected House Agriculture Committee Ranking Member K. Michael Conaway (TX-11) for its “Wheat Leader of the Year Award”.
  • The U.S. Department of Agriculture announces plenary speakers for the 2020 Agricultural Outlook Forum, to be held Feb. 20–21, 2020, in Arlington, Va., under the theme “The Innovation Imperative: Shaping the Future of Agriculture.”
Zimfo Bytes

USDA Deputy Secretary Talks Trade at Iowa Biofuels Summit

Cindy Zimmerman Leave a Comment

USDA Deputy Secretary Steve Censky had the pleasure of announcing the Senate passage of USMCA to the crowd at the 2020 Iowa Renewable Fuels Summit Thursday in Altoona, Iowa.

“Just about 20 minutes ago, I’m proud to say that the Senate finally passed the U.S. Mexico Canada Agreement on a vote of 89 to 10,” said Censky as the crowd broke into applause. “Yeah, let’s clap for that.”

During his address, Censky also talked about the other big trade news out this week – signing of the phase one trade deal with China. “And that is going to have major impacts across the board for a host of commodities, not only soybeans and corn, pork, beef, poultry, specialty crops, tree nuts, ethanol, dried distillers grains, pet food … it all is going to really add up.”

Censky discussed actions the Trump Administration has taken on behalf of the biofuel industry, including approval of year round E15, working with EPA to guarantee mandated levels of biofuels under the Renewable Fuel Standard, and USDA’s creation of a new Higher Blends Infrastructure Incentive Program announced Thursday.

Listen to Censky’s remarks here.
2020 IRFA Summit - USDA Deputy Secretary Steve Censky remarks (17:26)

Audio, Biodiesel, Biofuels, Ethanol, Exports, Trade, USDA

‘American Grown’ Campaign for Produce Growers

Carrie Muehling Leave a Comment

A new campaign to encourage consumers to buy “American Grown” produce was launched at the Southeast Regional Fruit and Vegetable Conference last week.

The American Grown campaign was started with a mission to “empower growers and consumers to fight for the American farm, making our country strong economically and environmentally.”

Speakers introducing the campaign included Georgia Fruit and Vegetable Growers Association President Charles Hall, Russ Goodman with the Georgia Blueberry Growers Association, Florida Blueberry Growers Association President Ryan Atwood, and American Grown campaign director Bud Chiles.

Find more information by visiting Demand American Grown on Facebook.

Listen to the panel discussion here: American Grown Panel Discussion

2020 Southeast Regional Fruit and Vegetable Conference Photo Album

Audio, fruit, Produce, Vegetables

Senate Passage of USMCA Praised by Ag Groups

Cindy Zimmerman Leave a Comment

By a vote of 89-10 the U.S. Senate approved the United States-Mexico-Canada agreement (USMCA) today and sent it on to President Trump for his signature.

Just before the vote, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) said USMCA will benefit the entire economy, but especially agriculture – “farmers, growers, cattlemen, manufacturers, small businesses, big businesses.”

Sen. McConnell floor speech prior to USMCA vote (2:18)

Reaction from the agricultural sector was quick and positive.

Farmers for Free Trade – “Today’s overwhelmingly bipartisan show of support for North American trade will help restore certainty and predictability in our farmers’ most important markets. USMCA also provides important ag victories including on market access for poultry and dairy, provisions that require science-based decision making on trade, and advances in supporting 21st century agricultural innovations.”

The Agricultural Retailers Association (ARA) – “Agricultural retailers and their farmer customers will directly benefit from the expanded market access and the preserved zero-tariff platforms among ag products, which is a relief during a challenging time in the ag economy.”

American Seed Trade Association (ASTA) – “Mexico and Canada are the two largest markets for U.S. seed, with 2018 exports combining for a total of $630 million. Today’s passage of USMCA provides much-need certainty as well as some key reforms to ensure continued open market access to these two critical trading partners.”

American Farm Bureau Federation (AFBF) – At a time when farmers continue to face strong economic headwinds, the agreement is expected to increase U.S. agriculture exports by $2 billion.

National Farmers Union (NFU) – Though USMCA is not a perfect replacement, it does make some important changes to its predecessor. We are particularly encouraged by the inclusion of stronger labor standards, more robust enforcement mechanisms, and better environmental protections.

American Coalition for Ethanol (ACE) – “Although USMCA doesn’t set ethanol-specific trade provisions, its ratification positively reaffirms this long-standing relationship with markets next door as we enter into this new decade of market growth.”

Renewable Fuels Association (RFA) – Canada and Mexico are among our most important and reliable export markets for both ethanol and distillers grains, and we look forward to strengthening our trading relationship with the two countries.

National Cattlemen’s Beef Association (NCBA) – “The ratification of USMCA is a crucial win for all U.S. beef producers and a reassurance that U.S. beef will continue to have unrestricted, duty-free access to Canada and Mexico.”

National Pork Producers Council (NPPC) – “USMCA provides U.S. pork producers with certainty in two of our largest export markets. It received strong support in both chambers of Congress, and we look forward to seeing President Trump sign it into law.”

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Ag Group, Audio, Ethanol, Exports, Trade

Heart of America Agricultural Hemp Classic Kicks Off

Chuck Zimmerman Leave a Comment

Joe ZahnerThe inaugural Heart of America Agricultural Hemp Classic takes place today in Independence, MO. Our MC is Joe Zahner, general counsel, Missouri Hemp Association. Joe is a scientist so he gets to help members on technical issues. We talked about the conference yesterday after the membership of the association met.

The program here includes farmers who have experience growing and processing hemp along with legal experts. There are a lot of questions and judging by the participation so far, there is a lot of interest in this “new” crop. Joe is also participating in a session on legal issues and another on hemp registration and permitting in Missouri. One thing he wants to encourage growers to do is “pump the brakes a little bit.” He says the Missouri Hemp Association doesn’t want growers to get hurt by growing too much or losing a crop so they have a program called the Hemp Subdivision Program. MHA will lease one acre plots to growers to learn about what it takes to grow the crop.

You can listen to my interview with Joe here: Interview with Joe Zahner, Counsel, Missouri Hemp Association

2020 Heart of America Agricultural Hemp Classic Photo Album

Ag Group, Audio, Farming, hemp

National Biodiesel Conference to Unveil “Vision 2020”

Cindy Zimmerman Leave a Comment

The National Biodiesel Board will unveil its “Vision 2020” for the industry during the National Biodiesel Conference & Expo in Tampa, Florida on January 20-23.

The largest gathering of North American biodiesel enthusiasts arrive in Florida on a roll with recent policy victories in Washington, DC, and California, as well as a heating oil industry that is partnering with producers to reduce pollution in the Northeast with the cleaner burning, renewable fuel.

“Last year at this time, U.S. biodiesel and renewable diesel producers faced an uncertain future,” said Donnell Rehagen, CEO of the National Biodiesel Board. “Thanks to our members and the support of the industry’s coast-to-coast champions, we’re rolling into the new year reinvigorated to deliver even more biodiesel to both our transportation and home heating fuel customers.”

While celebrating the advancements in 2019, Rehagen said the focus at the conference will be to share a clear vision for what the biodiesel industry needs to accomplish in the years ahead.

NBB Communications Manager Samantha Turner provides a preview of the conference in this interview, more information and registration can be found at

Interview with Samantha Turner, NBB Communications Mgr (6:02)

Full multi-media coverage of the conference can be found for the 15th year on the Biodiesel Conference Blog. Check out archives going back to the 2006 conference in San Diego.

Audio, Biodiesel, National Biodiesel Conference

Agri-Pulse Partners with AEM on “Campaign 2020”

Cindy Zimmerman Leave a Comment

Agri-Pulse is partnering with the Association of Equipment Manufacturers (AEM) to provide comprehensive coverage of the 2020 elections.

“Agri-Pulse first launched in-depth election coverage for the 2016 cycle, and we plan to expand our reports and analysis under a new series called ‘Campaign 2020’,” said Agri-Pulse Editor Sara Wyant. “This year’s coverage will explore important House and Senate races and take a close look at how the presidential campaigns are addressing farm policy and rural issues like infrastructure, trade, and rural healthcare. We will also be conducting a nationwide opinion poll and covering both presidential nominating conventions,” added Wyant.

“From long-term infrastructure investment to promoting free and fair trade, we need candidates this year who are going to support pro-manufacturing policies. That’s why we felt it was important to partner with Agri-Pulse this year on sponsoring their election coverage, their readers need to know what’s at stake and what candidates are talking about to address these issues,” said AEM president Dennis Slater.

Campaign 2020 launched this week with a home page logo on as well as a specific landing page for all election coverage.

AEM, Agri-Pulse, politics

NCBA Calls China Trade a “Game Changer” for Beef Producers

Cindy Zimmerman Leave a Comment

The National Cattlemen’s Beef Association (NCBA) applauded the Phase One China Trade Deal signing, saying this agreement will lay the groundwork for American-produced beef to be highly competitive in the world’s most populous market.

“The Phase-One Agreement with China will be a game changer for the U.S. beef industry,” said NCBA President Jennifer Houston, who joined President Trump at the White House for today’s event. “For many years, Chinese consumers have been denied access to high-quality U.S. beef—the same U.S. beef we feed to our families. Non-scientific trade barriers like the ban on production technologies, the extensive traceability requirements, and the 30-month BSE restriction have greatly limited our ability to tap into growing beef demand in China. The removal of these massive trade barriers gives Chinese consumers access to the U.S. beef they desire, and it gives America’s cattlemen and cattlewomen the opportunity to provide U.S. beef to a growing consumer-base that represents one-fifth of the global population and a middle-class that is greater than the entire U.S. population.”

Houston joined Kent Bacus, NCBA director of international trade and market access, for a press call Wednesday afternoon to discuss what the agreement means for beef producers.

NCBA China trade deal press call
AgWired Animal, Animal Agriculture, Audio, Beef, Exports, NCBA, Trade

Agriculture Celebrates China Phase One Signing

Cindy Zimmerman Leave a Comment

Agricultural organizations are very positive overall about the signing of the historic Phase One Trade Agreement with China Wednesday, an agreement which calls for China to purchase between $40 and $50 billion in American agricultural goods each year for two years.

“Together we are righting the wrongs of the past and delivering a future of economic justice and security for American workers, farmers, and families,” said President Donald Trump as he prepared to sign the agreement with Chinese Vice Premier Liu He. “The agreement tears down major market barriers for U.S. food and agricultural exports. China will now welcome American beef and pork, poultry, seafood, rice, dairy, infant formula, animal feed, biotechnology and much, much more.”

Listen to soundbites from President Trump and Vice President Pence related to agriculture:
China trade agreement signing soundbites

Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue attended the signing ceremony. “This agreement finally levels the playing field for U.S. agriculture and will be a bonanza for America’s farmers, ranchers, and producers. China has not played by the rules for too long, and I thank President Trump for standing up to their unfair trading practices and for putting America first. We look forward to exporting to Chinese customers hungry for American products.”

USDA released an eight-page summary of the agreement on agriculture.

USDA Secretary Perdue statement on China signing

Agricultural organizations mostly praised the agreement and many had representatives in attendance at the signing.

Agricultural Retailers Association (ARA) President and CEO Daren Coppock – “This agreement will boost U.S. goods and services exports to China by a reported $200 billion over the next two years. The changes made to China’s trade policies surrounding agriculture, intellectual property, and dispute resolutions, among other aspects, will be a huge boost to the American trade economy.”

American Farm Bureau Federation President Zippy Duvall, who will be greeting President Trump at their annual meeting for the third time later this week, says this is a great way to start the new year. “China was once the largest market for U.S. agricultural products but has dropped to fifth largest since retaliatory tariffs were introduced. This agreement will help turn around two years of declining agricultural exports.”

American Seed Trade Association (ASTA) First Vice Chair John Latham of Latham Hi-Tech Seeds represented the U.S. seed industry at the signing ceremony. “The deal is an important step in increasing U.S. ag exports and providing needed reforms to the Chinese biotech approval process, which is critical to bringing new seed varieties to market for U.S. farmers. Additionally, ASTA supports the deal’s focus on ensuring America’s seed companies have IP protection in the Chinese marketplace.”

ASTA is hopeful that discussions will continue in the near future toward a phase 2 deal to end tariffs on seed imports from China. The current 25% tariff on American seed that is multiplied in China and returned to the U.S. for seed companies to sell to America’s farmers is having a severe impact on the seed industry. ASTA and its member companies look forward to continuing to work with the Administration as it moves forward in these discussions.

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AFBF, Ag Group, ARA, Audio, Corn, Ethanol, Exports, Government, Livestock, Trade