Last week, USDA updated portions of its monthly agricultural trade data. Despite some positive indications, news reports demonstrate that concerns over the renegotiation of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) persist in both Mexico and the U.S. agricultural sector.
A news release on Tuesday from the American Bankers Association (ABA) stated that, "Eighty-two percent of agricultural lenders reported a decline in farm profitability in the last 12 months, according to a joint survey by the [ABA] and the Federal Agricultural Mortgage Corporation. Despite the continued decline, the survey of more than 580 agricultural lenders revealed that the agricultural loan approval rate is 84 percent."
Jacqui Fatka reported on Friday at Farm Futures Online that, "House Agriculture Committee Chairman Mike Conaway, R-Texas, said [on October 25th] that the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) has sped up its analysis of farm bill provisions that the committee is considering. He told reporters that the committee is still on track to bring out a bill before the end of the year or early 2018."
A report earlier this month from USDA's Economic Research Service (ERS) ("Global Ethanol Mandates: Opportunities for U.S. Exports of Ethanol and DDGS," by Jayson Beckman and Getachew Nigatu) noted that, "The increased use of ethanol globally could provide strong and diverse export market opportunities for U.S. ethanol and ethanol byproducts." Parts of the ERS report are highlighted in this update.
A recent GAIN (Global Agricultural Information Network) report by USDA's Foreign Agricultural Service (FAS) took a closer look at important variables regarding biofuels and China. Today's update includes some highlights from the report, which is available in its entirety here, "China- Biofuels Annual, 'Growing Interest for Ethanol Brightens Prospects.'"
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.
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.
On Wednesday, the Federal Reserve Board released its October 2017 Beige Book update, a summary of commentary on current economic conditions by Federal Reserve District. The report included several observations pertaining to the U.S. agricultural economy.
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."
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."