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Perdue confirmed as ag secretary, NAFTA drama and biodiesel tax credit introduced.

Janet Kubat Willette, E-Content Editor

April 28, 2017

2 Min Read

There's been a bevy of agricultural news this week with Congress returning to town following a two-week recess. Here are seven stories you may have missed as you tried to get some spring fieldwork done.

1. Sonny Perdue was confirmed as the 31st secretary of agriculture on April 24. The nomination was approved 87-11. On his first day in office, President Trump put Perdue in charge of an Interagency Task Force on Agriculture and Rural Prosperity. – Farm Futures 

2. The first nitrogen fertilizer production facility built in the United States in nearly 30 years opened April 19 at Wever, Iowa. The $3 billion plant received more than $100 million in state tax subsidies plus federal tax benefits and $30 million in local tax abatement. The plant is expected to produce up to 2 million metric tons of nitrogen fertilizer products annually. – Wallaces Farmer

3. President Trump caused an uproar among commodity groups when he hinted that he was going to withdraw from the North American Free Trade Agreement on Wednesday. The next day, he announced he had changed his mind after speaking with leaders of Canada and Mexico. He now intends to renegotiate the trade agreement to get a better deal for the United States. – Farm Futures 

4. A pair of Ohio State University agricultural economists are predicting higher farm bankruptcies as a result of declining farm income. The nation's farm debt-to-asset ratio has been increasing since 2012 and is projected to be 14% this year. Net farm income is expected to decline this year by 8.7%, the fourth consecutive year of declines after a record high in 2013. – Ohio Farmer

5. The first of at least a half dozen trials that allege Syngenta rushed its Viptera trait to market without import approval from China began Monday in Minneapolis. Farmers and grain handlers are attempting to prove the introduction of the trait and a second insect-resistant GMO seed to market before the import approval was granted caused a drop in corn prices. – Farm Futures 

6. Washington state has joined a growing list of states that is allowing growers to raise industrial hemp. The state's agriculture department has established rules to start the process for creating a research program for industrial hemp. – Western Farmer Stockman

7. Iowa Sen. Charles Grassley and Washington Sen. Maria Cantwell have introduced legislation to transfer the biodiesel credit from blenders to producers and to extend the credit for three years. – Farm Futures 

And your bonus: Two companies are racing to get robotic fruit-picking machines to market. The robots don't have to worry about being legal and they can work 24 hours a day. – Star Tribune

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