Corn Belt: “Hoping to Breakeven,” in a “Persistently Weak” Ag Economy

An article on the front page of Saturday's Des Moines Register explored issues associated with corn and soybean production, prices, and farm profitability in Iowa.  Meanwhile, the Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City released a paper last week which noted that, "Lending at agricultural banks appeared to stabilize in the third quarter of 2017, but risks in the sector have remained alongside a persistently weak agricultural economy."  Today's update includes highlights from these two current news items that shed additional light on the state of the Corn Belt farm economy.
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After Pressure from Senators, Iowa Governor- Trump Administration Signals RFS Support

In late September, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) released a proposal to reduce the volume requirements for biodiesel for 2018 and 2019 under the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS).  However, on Thursday, in a letter to several senators, the EPA Administrator committed to at least maintain current blending requirements.  Today's update provides a brief timeline of some of the reaction by lawmakers, including Senator Chuck Grassley (R., Iowa), that transpired between the EPA proposal in September, to Thursday's letter from EPA. 
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NAFTA Renegotiation Talks Extended– U.S. Dairy Proposal Rejected

Ana Swanson reported on Tuesday at The New York Times Online that, "Until Tuesday, the North American Free Trade Agreement looked like it might be headed for a quick demise. Now, it could be headed for a slow, painful one. The United States, Canada and Mexico said on Tuesday that they would extend Nafta negotiations into next year, with the parties citing 'significant conceptual gaps' in how to rewrite the 1994 trade pact."
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USDA-FAS Report: China’s Meat and Poultry Import Forecast, 2018

On Thursday, the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Foreign Agricultural Service (FAS)  released its biannual "Livestock and Poultry: World Markets and Trade" report, which is published in April and October, and is "designed to give a snapshot of the current situation among the major players in world beef, pork, and broiler meat trade." Today's update provides a recap of some of the highlights from the FAS report, which was titled, "China’s Meat and Poultry Import Forecast 2018: Decline and Constrained Growth."
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Rural Economy: Farm Income, Manufacturing- Both Important Variables

The Bureau of Economic Analysis (BEA) indicated in a news release last week that, "State personal income grew 0.7 percent on average in the second quarter of 2017, after increasing 1.4 percent in the first quarter, according to estimates released [Tuesday] by [BEA]." However, the release added that, "Farm earnings declined for the nation and in every state in the second quarter and was the leading contributor to slow earnings growth in many states."
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