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Trump administration eyes more aid to farmers if necessary: White House aide

Reuters | Posted on May 1, 2019

The Trump administration is ready to provide more federal aid to farmers if required, a White House adviser said on Monday, after rolling out up to $12 billion since last year to offset agricultural losses from the trade dispute with China. “We have allocated $12 billion, some such, to farm assistance. And we stand ready to do more if necessary,” White House economic adviser Larry Kudlow told reporters.The U.S. Department of Agriculture had previously ruled out a new round of aid for 2019. As of March, more than $8 billion was paid out as part of last year’s program. On Monday, the department said it had extended the deadline to apply to Ma

Trade disputes take toll on beef, pork exports

Capital Press | Posted on May 1, 2019

The trade wars with China and Mexico are cutting into U.S. exports of beef and pork. Pork exports were down 9% in volume and 17% in value year over year, the U.S. Meat Export Federation reported in its monthly trade tally.Beef exports declined 6% in volume and 3% in value. That’s a stark contrast to last year’s record-breaking performance, which brought a 7% increase in volume and a 15% increase in value.

Farm program provisions should reduce income risk not contribute to it

Ag Policy | Posted on April 24, 2019

After years of declining prices that are below the full cost of production for a large number of farmers and crops, scattered payments for some crops in a few counties are insufficient to ameliorate the growing financial crisis in farm country. So, what will things look like under the 2018 Farm Bill that begins with the 2019 crop marketing year? An article by Zulauf et. al. raises the question of fairness on the timing of the ARC/PLC election on the certainty farmers have in knowing the final marketing year price. The better they know the price, the easier the choice will be, allowing farmers to choose the program that maximizes their benefits. We looked at ten-year crop projections and though they are useful for comparing the potential impact of various farm programs, they are of little help in providing farmers with guidance in selecting the appropriate supplemental farm payment program.

USDA orders scientists to say published research is ‘preliminary’

The Washington Post | Posted on April 23, 2019

Researchers at the Agriculture Department laughed in disbelief last summer when they received a memo about a new requirement: Their finalized, peer-reviewed scientific publications must be labeled “preliminary.” The July 2018 memo from Chavonda Jacobs-Young, the acting USDA chief scientist, told researchers their reports published in scientific journals must include a statement that reads: “The findings and conclusions in this preliminary publication have not been formally disseminated by the U.S. Department of Agriculture and should not be construed to represent any agency determination or policy.”  The claim that reports are not “formally disseminated” runs counter to the USDA policy that “permits and, indeed, encourages researchers to publish in scientific journals,” Offutt said. The disclaimer has been added to studies published in peer-reviewed journals since at least November. These include a report on pestilent moth larvae caught at the U.S. border, an analysis of food poisoning from chicken livers and a study of the SNAP food assistance program and childhood asthma.“Any scientist reading a journal, seeing that, would be very confused by this statement,” said Ed Gregorich, editor of the Journal of Environmental Quality, which frequently publishes research by USDA scientists.Peer-reviewed articles are the gold standard for sharing scientific information, Gregorich said. After a research team submits an article to a journal, the editors ask other experts in the subject to review the work. Those reviewers, often anonymous, check the study’s experimental designs, statistics and conclusions, and they can ask for revisions or reject the article if it is not scientifically sound.

WTO finds fault with China's agriculture trade restrictions

Bloomberg | Posted on April 23, 2019

China didn’t follow proper procedures when it imposed trade restrictions on agricultural imports, the World Trade Organization said on Thursday in a ruling that bolsters President Donald Trump’s dispute against Beijing. China used a flawed and opaque approach when it administered tariff-rate quotas for rice, wheat, and corn, the Geneva-based arbiter of global trade disputes said on its website. It’s tariff-rate quota “administration contains legal flaws from the beginning through to the completion of the process,” the text of the ruling said.The decision could increase U.S. farmers’ access to China at a time when they are struggling to compete amid the fallout from Trump’s trade war. The U.S. Department of Agriculture previously said that Beijing’s actions prevented an additional $3.5 billion worth of crops being imported into China.China’s Ministry of Commerce said it "regrets" the ruling in a statement published Friday, and that it’ll review the report and continue to manage agricultural product tariff-rate quotas based on WTO rules.The ruling “will help American farmers compete on a more level playing field,” the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative said in an emailed statement after the decision. “The administration will continue to press China to promptly come into compliance with its WTO obligations.”Either the U.S. or China may appeal the case at any point in the next 60 days.

Japan says TPP agreements are as far as they will go in US negotiations.

AP News | Posted on April 18, 2019

Motegi told reporters that he told Lighthizer that Japan will not compromise on imports of agricultural products, saying that the conditions agreed in past negotiations are as far as Japan could go. Japan made significant concessions on imports of dairy and other farm products during tough negotiations on the Trans-Pacific Partnership, a Pacific Rim trade deal that President Donald Trump withdrew from shortly after taking office in 2017.“In the area of agricultural products, conditions we have promised in past economic cooperation is as far as we can go. I have told him that that’s the line Japan cannot go beyond,” he said.Japan’s conservative ruling party, the Liberal Democrats, have traditionally relied on strong support from rural voters and have sought to protect the country’s farm sector from foreign competition.

Trump team readies PR offensive on North America trade deal's economic effects, report says minimal gains

Reuters | Posted on April 18, 2019

The Trump administration is readying a public relations offensive over the economic impact of its new North American trade deal to counter a crucial report expected on Thursday that economists see as likely to show minimal gains at best.Industry sources familiar with the administration’s plans told Reuters the U.S. International Trade Commission’s analysis of the U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement would be met with a rosier forecast from the U.S. Trade Representative’s office.The three countries agreed last year to the deal to replace the 25-year old North American Free Trade Agreement after President Donald Trump’s relentless criticism of NAFTA, calling it “the worst trade deal ever made” and insisting it be improved or scrapped.The ITC report has been kept under wraps and is being keenly awaited by U.S. lawmakers to help them decide whether to support USMCA. A report showing little or no gain from the changes would be a setback for the administration and give some Democrats an excuse to deny Trump a major political victory.

EU says it is ready to launch U.S. trade talks, but without agriculture

Reuters | Posted on April 18, 2019

The European Union is ready to start talks on a trade agreement with the United States and aims to conclude a deal before year-end. The EU approved two areas for negotiation, opposed by France with an abstention from Belgium. But agriculture was not included, leaving the 28-country bloc at odds with Washington, which has insisted on including farm products in the talks.

A nationwide campaign against tariffs that are hurting American families and communities

Tariffs Hurt | Posted on April 18, 2019

Tariffs are taxes that Americans pay. These taxes are being paid by American farmers, retailers, manufacturers, businesses and consumers.  Based on monthly tariffs on imports Americans have paid thus far, every second the trade war drags on costs Americans $1,155. While that number alone is far too high, it doesn't include the cost of retaliatory tariffs that are causing exports to plummet, or the price of programs that are paying our farmers for the losses they have incurred, or the tariffs’ ripple effects on the broader U.S. economy. It also doesn’t include the cost of uncertainty the trade war has created that is preventing American businesses from being able to plan for the future, invest and grow.

F.D.A. sends C.B.D. warning letters to three companies

Food Business Network | Posted on April 18, 2019

The Food and Drug Administration has become more active in regulating cannabidiol (C.B.D.) products. The agency sent warning letters dated March 28 to three companies marketing C.B.D. products with “egregious and unfounded claims that are aimed at vulnerable populations,” the agency said. The F.D.A. also has scheduled a May 31 public hearing to discuss how C.B.D. products may be marketed legally. “As our actions today make clear, the F.D.A. stands ready to protect consumers from companies illegally selling C.B.D. products that claim to prevent, diagnose, treat or cure serious diseases, such as cancer, Alzheimer’s disease, psychiatric disorders and diabetes,” said Scott Gottlieb, M.D., commissioner of the F.D.A  “The agency has and will continue to monitor the marketplace and take enforcement action as needed to protect the public health against companies illegally selling cannabis and cannabis-derived products that can put consumers at risk and are being marketed and distributed in violation of the F.D.A.’s authorities.”