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The fog of trade wars

Progressive Farmer | Posted on March 14, 2019

Amid this trade-war fog, one thing seems clear: The Chinese are happy to talk about importing more American agricultural products -- maybe a lot more. That is not the case in another of America's unfolding trade wars. In the talks between the U.S. and the European Union, the EU is refusing to even discuss agriculture. Why? Because the EU knows what the U.S. would demand: relaxation of the EU's non-tariff barriers to American products, starting with genetically engineered crops. Previous EU-U.S. talks deadlocked over the Europeans' refusal to budge on these demands, which are highly unpopular with the European electorate. In 2015 150,000 Europeans took to the streets of Berlin assailing a proposed EU-U.S. trade deal as a "Trojan Horse" for sneaking unwanted GMOs into Europe. Faced with that threat, EU President Jean-Claude Juncker flew to Washington last July to meet with Trump. The presidents agreed to further negotiations, during which the car tariffs would not be imposed. From the moment they announced their agreement, though, they differed on what the negotiations would cover.


Perdue's list of possible relocation sites include private companies and private citizen

USDA | Posted on March 14, 2019

U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue today announced the initial down-select list of 136 Expressions of Interest received from parties in 35 statesvying to become the new homes of the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Economic Research Service (ERS) and National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA).  USDA is following a rigorous site selection process to identify the new locations with involvement from USDA, ERS, and NIFA leadership. 


Agriculture Department Staff Given Marching Orders for Controversial Move

Government Executive | Posted on March 12, 2019

Hundreds of employees of two key Agriculture Department research offices on Tuesday learned that they’re on the list to be transferred outside of Washington as part of Secretary Sonny Perdue’s disputed plan to move operations closer to farm industry stakeholders. At the Economic Research Service a list was circulated showing the job titles and descriptions (but not the names) of 76 positions that will remain in the national capital region, leaving the rest of that office’s 350 employees to assume their job will move to the still-unspecified new location.The “stay/go” list, obtained by Government Executive, was supplemented during a staff meeting with names, according to a source who spoke on condition of anonymity. This employee called the steps—for which there is still no timetable-- “a disaster” that will “split up operational groups that work together. It will engender departures,” the employee added, noting that supervisors are being separated from their underlings.


Census Bureau quietly seeking immigrants' legal status: report

The Hill | Posted on March 12, 2019

The Census Bureau is quietly seeking information on millions of immigrants’ legal status, The Associated Press reported. According to the news service, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) would give the Census Bureau extensive personal data about immigrants under a pending agreement.The DHS data would include names, addresses, birth dates and places, Social Security numbers and sensitive alien registration numbers, the AP added, citing a document it obtained.The news service said the DHS data would be more precise than the information collected by the bureau in its household canvassing every 10 years.


For 3rd straight year, Trump proposes massive USDA cuts

Daily Yonder | Posted on March 12, 2019

The Trump administration’s latest budget recommendation for USDA looks a lot like proposals that failed to pass a Republican-controlled Congress for two years running. With Democrats now at the helm in the House, it’s doubtful the third time will be the charm for the president’s goal of creating big funding cuts for USDA.“People who are working day-to-day on the farm or in rural communities, they don’t have time to pay attention to all of this, those are the people getting the short end of the stick in this budget,” said Wes King, senior policy specialist for the National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition. “It does seem sometimes like they [the Trump administration] have made a calculation to keep the Freedom Caucus and Heritage Foundation happy.”


USDA, FDA Announce Agreement To Regulate Cell-Cultured Food Products

National Chicken Council | Posted on March 11, 2019

 The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ (HHS) Food and Drug Administration (FDA) on announced a formal agreement to jointly oversee the production of human food products derived from the cells of livestock and poultry.  “FSIS has the statutory authority, relevant experience, and robust regulatory frameworks to regulate the labeling and safety of these products, and FDA has experience with similar food production technologies and has long played a role in ensuring that ingredients used in meat and poultry products are safe for use in food.”FDA will oversee collection of initial cell lines, maintenance of a cell bank, and oversee proliferation and differentiation of cells through the time of harvest.  At harvest, USDA will determine whether harvested cells are eligible to be processed into meat or poultry products that bear the USDA mark of inspection.  Establishments that are harvesting cells cultured from livestock or poultry are subject to the Federal Meat Inspection Act or the Poultry Products Inspection Act.  USDA will conduct inspections of establishments where cells cultured from livestock and poultry are harvested, processed, packaged, or labeled in accordance with applicable regulations.


Federal court rules against adding citizenship question to 2020 Census

CBS | Posted on March 10, 2019

Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross's decision to add a citizenship question to the 2020 Census violates the Administrative Procedure Act and the Enumeration Clause, a federal judge ruled on Tuesday. Judge Richard Seeborg of the Northern District of California ruled that the question was "quite effective at depressing self-response rates among immigrants and noncitizens, and poses a significant risk of distorting the apportionment of congressional representation among the states."


Delayed USDA report reveals 'shocking' level of butter stocks

Leader Telegram | Posted on March 7, 2019

The Dec. 31, 2018, butter stocks totaled a surprising 179.3 million pounds, up a whopping 16.6 percent from November and 6.2 percent above December 2017, according to the delayed U.S. Department of Agriculture Cold Storage report issued Feb. 22. FC Stone dairy broker Dave Kurzawski says that’s a shocking 42 million pounds heavier than pre-report expectations and over 1,000 truckloads but adds the caveat that “these numbers are more than 60 days old. If the number was incredibly burdensome, we think the markets would have felt it already. This leads us to think revisions following a government shut-down are likely.” The January Cold Storage report will be issued March 7.The U.S. had less cheese on hand than expected. American cheese stocks were up 7 percent from a year ago and Kurzawski says, “What’s a little odd is that the usual build from November to December was nonexistent.”


Trump moves to scrap trade privilege for India

Reuters | Posted on March 7, 2019

U.S. President Donald Trump looked set to open a new front in his trade wars with a plan to end preferential trade treatment for India that allows duty-free entry for up to $5.6 billion worth of its exports to the United States. The move comes as trade tensions between the United States and India mount. The United States is trying to rework pacts with a number of other countries as well, including China. Trump has said weak deals have cost millions of American jobs and has vowed to cut U.S. trade deficits.


U.S. Trade Deficit Exploded In 2018

Forbes | Posted on March 7, 2019

In 2018, the trade records came tumbling down, including the highest-ever imports from China, though President Trump's trade war did seem to put a damper on U.S. exports to China.For the first time in 12 years, the United States set a record for total trade, total exports, total imports and total deficit all in one year, according to U.S. Census Bureau data released today.The U.S. trade deficit exploded in 2018, reaching $878.68 billion. It had not topped $800 billion since 2008, though it has increased seven of the last nine years. The previous record year was 2006. Somewhat surprisingly, the reason for the 12-year drought for a record for total trade, total exports, total imports and trade deficit in one year was, in fact, the much-maligned trade deficit.


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