WASHINGTON, June 13, 2016 - The market is doing its job to help out corn farmers and now producers are calling on Congress and the Obama administration to do their shares. 

The small increase for corn exports predicted by USDA on Friday will translate into a boost in the prices farmers get for their crops. That’s proof, says the National Corn Growers Association, that increased demand and trade improves the bottom line for farmers. It’s also evidence that Congress should ratify the Trans-Pacific Partnership deal and the EPA was wrong to propose cutting the renewable volume obligations for ethanol.

“Farmers need the EPA to step up and comply with its statutory obligations under the Renewable Fuel Standard,” said NCGA President Chip Bowling. “We need Congress to help us push export demand even further by opening new markets by passing the Trans-Pacific Partnership and lifting the Cuban Trade Embargo. As this month’s report demonstrates, even small increases in demand can have an impact on prices. Working together, we can make each small impact add up to a real, necessary boost for farm families.”

Net exports of corn are expected to decline if TPP is implemented between the U.S., Japan, Mexico, Canada, Vietnam and seven other countries, but corn farmers are still expected to reap significant benefits, according to a study produced by the American Farm Bureau Federation. 

Beef and pork exports are expected to get a major boost from the trade pact, creating significant new demand for animal feed and pushing up domestic corn prices.

In regards to the EPA, corn farmers are still smarting from the agency’s recent proposal to cut renewable volume obligations to 14.8 billion gallons of ethanol that will need to be blended into gasoline in 2017.

“For farmers and others in rural America, this new EPA proposal means low corn prices and ethanol plant and industry cutbacks. And for everyone else, it means higher gas prices and dirtier air,” Bowling said recently.

U.S. corn farmers have Brazil to thank. While the fate of the Trans-Pacific Partnership deal is still uncertain, U.S. corn farmers can still be thankful for a less-than-bumper crop in Brazil, South America’s largest farming country.

Good growing weather and plentiful rains have spurred the Brazilians to keep planting more corn for the past several years. But not this year.

“This year they had dryness … and we dropped our estimate of their production by 2.5 million metric tons,” says USDA Chief Economist Rob Johansson in a recording posted on the department’s web site. “As a result, that’s going to boost U.S. export potential and sales potential.”

Counting on an export boost from weaker South American competition, U.S. ending stocks for the 2015-16 marketing year will dip, boosting average farm-gate prices by about 10 cents. Prices for the 2016-17 marketing year will likely do even better, Johansson said, with a lower-than-expected carry-in.

Lawmakers ask for expedited farm worker visas. Farmers are desperate for seasonal labor, but the government’s H-2a visa program is slow, ineffective and can’t meet even a small percentage of the need, more than 100 lawmakers complained in a recently published letter.

Reps. Dan Newhouse, R-Wash., Sanford Bishop, D-Ga., Suzan DelBene, D-Wash., Elise Stefanik, R-N.Y., and many others signed onto a letter to Labor Secretary Thomas Perez and Director of U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services León Rodriguez to ask that farmers get access to expedited service so they don’t lose their crops.

“For the past two years, H-2A employers have experienced unacceptable delays in the processing of labor certifications, visa petitions, and interviews for final border crossing and arrival on farms and ranches,” the lawmakers wrote. “These delays are devastating to growers and ranchers that cannot wait to plant, tend, and harvest … This trend leaves growers fearful of a major break-down in the system when peak demand for H-2A workers hits beginning in June.”

African millers tour U.S. wheat country. Today is the second day of the traditional tour of U.S. wheat country by Nigerian millers, but they’ll have some more company this time around, according to the U.S. Wheat Associates.

Representatives of the milling industries in Ghana and South Africa will be joining the Nigerians as they travel through Texas, Kansas, North Dakota and Minnesota from June 12 to 24 "to assess trade opportunities and U.S. wheat quality,” USW said.

Nigeria, which bought about 1 million tons of hard red winter wheat from the U.S. in the 2015-16 marketing year, is one of the largest foreign markets for U.S. farmers. South Africa is a relatively smaller market, but has potential for growth, the U.S. group said.

“The milling industries in these countries rely on an uninterrupted supply of quality wheat,” said Gerald Theus, regional assistant director for Sub-Saharan Africa for the U.S. Wheat Associates. “In competitive markets where we face new challenges, there is nothing more valuable than connecting these participants directly with the farmers and other members of the supply chain.” 



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