Radio Script 8-20-19

NRCS Photo by Gary Kramer

Vesicular Stomatitis, often called VSV, continues to infect horses and other livestock in the Four Corners Region. So far, outbreaks are confirmed in Montezuma and La Plata counties, and San Juan County New Mexico. VSV is a contagious disease that afflicts horses, livestock, wildlife and even humans. It’s caused by a virus that is rarely life threatening but can have a financial impact on the livestock industry. Because the disease is thought to be spread by insects, VSV usually does not carry on into the late Fall.

US ranchers are excited over a beef export agreement signed Friday between the US and the European Union. The agreement allows sales of 35,000 tons of beef to the Union. The U.S. exports $1 trillion of goods and services to the European Union annually, and in 2018, the U.S. exported $12.7 billion in agricultural products to them, while they sent $23.7 billion in agricultural products to the U.S. Over the course of the agreement, annual duty-free U.S. beef exports to the European Union are expected to nearly triple to $420 million from the current $150 million, according to the Office of U.S. Trade.

While farmers have been staunch supports of president Trump through the saga of the trade war with China, there has been some grumbling coming from farm country about a couple of things. First, the President’s comment that while Japan sends cars to the us, Japan buys some wheat from the U.S. farmers to quote ”make us feel good.” In reality, Japan purchases 30% of the wheat exported by the U.S. In a tweet last Wednesday, the National Association of Wheat Growers stated that “They don’t buy our wheat because ‘they want us to feel okay.’ They buy it because it’s the highest quality wheat in the world. That’s not fake news.” In another instance last week, farmers and Iowa Republican Senator Chuck Grassley responded to the report that waivers were granted to 31 refineries to eliminate blending ethanol in the fuel they produced, Senator Grassley said, quote, “They screwed us.” Referring to the Trump Administration granting the waivers.

I occasionally I rummage around in data contained in the 2018 USDA Census of Agriculture report to satisfy my curiosity about some fact. I often find some statistics of interest. First, 421.5 million acres of land are dedicated to crop production, and livestock production and aquaculture utilizes more than double the cropland at 478.6 million acres.

Soy beans are a hot topic of discussion in ag circles when talking about the trade war. This crop has been hit hard due to the current scuffle, with low prices, and a buildup of supplies that may plague farmers for a couple of years, even if the U.S. and China were to kiss and make up tomorrow. According to the USDA, no other countries besides the U.Sand Brazil have enough land to challenge these two soybean-producing giants. But when combined with Argentina’s production, China could still get much of the soybeans that they need from South America. However, an end to the trade war doesn’t guarantee profitable prices for U.S. farmers even if China returns to sourcing U.S. soybeans, because once South American farmers ramp up, they may produce enough beans to keep world soybean prices at near to break even levels for several years.

Today’s thought is by Israeli diplomat and politician Abba Eban, “History teaches us that men and nations behave wisely once they have exhausted all other alternatives.

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