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| Rural Advocate News | Thursday December 12, 2019 |


USDA Extends MFP, DMC Deadlines The Department of Agriculture Wednesday extended sign-up deadlines for the Dairy Margin Coverage program to December 20. USDA officials cited the prolonged and extensive impacts of weather events this year for moving the deadline beyond its original date of Friday, December 13. USDA announced it is also continuing to accept applications for the Market Facilitation Program through December 20, 2019. Bill Northey, USDA undersecretary for farm production and conservation, says some farmers are still in the field, adding, "we hope this deadline extension will allow producers the opportunity to participate in these important programs.” The DMC program offers protection to dairy producers when the difference between the all-milk price and the average feed cost, the margin, falls below a certain dollar amount selected by the producer. The Market Facilitation Program is part of a relief strategy to support farmers while the administration continues to work on trade agreements. Another round of payments could come next month. ************************************************************************************* Senate Won’t Vote on USCMA Until After Christmas U.S. farmers won’t see a North America trade deal under the Christmas tree this year, despite this week’s deal to move the U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement forward. The House of Representatives, which must act first, plans to vote by the end of next week, sending the trade deal to the Senate. However, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell told reporters Wednesday the Senate won’t be able to consider the agreement until after Christmas, pushing Senate action on USMCA into 2020. McConnell cited a full slate of issues to consider, including spending bills, judicial appointments and the pending impeachment trial. The January Senate calendar is blank, leaving room for a month of impeachment proceedings in the Senate. While Democrats were blamed for stalling the agreement, they’ve flipped the coin to blaming Senate Republicans for causing further delays. McConnell claims House Democrats waited too long before advancing the agreement to allow for the trade to become law this year. But, McConnell’s intentions could push a Senate vote to February. ************************************************************************************* Real Meat Act Introduced in Senate Lawmakers in the Senate Wednesday introduced the Real MEAT Act, a bill seeking to end deceptive labeling practices for alternative protein products. Senator Deb Fischer, a Nebraska Republican, introduced the bill Wednesday. Fischer says the bill would clarify the definition of beef for labeling purposes, eliminate consumer confusion resulting from misbranding, and ensure that the federal government can enforce the law. Fischer says, “Beef is derived from cattle—period.” She adds the legislations will stop so-called fake-meat companies from misleading consumers about “the nutritional merits and ingredient composition of their products.” The National Cattlemen’s Beef Association applauded the introduction of the legislation. NCBA President Jennifer Houston says the bill will “allow cattle producers to compete on a level playing field.” NCBA found in a study that 55 percent of consumers did not understand that “plant-based beef” wasn’t beef at all, but instead an entirely vegan or vegetarian product. The Senate bill is a companion to similar legislation in the House. ************************************************************************************ Farm Groups Partner to Help Farmers Manage Stress Top farm organizations Wednesday announced a partnership to address high levels of stress affecting farmers and ranchers. Farm Credit, the American Farm Bureau Federation and National Farmers Union, announced the partnership that will provide training to individuals who interact with farmers and ranchers. AFBF President Zippy Duvall says the partnership will "help our members recognize the warning signs and empower them to get help for their friends." In a national Morning Consult poll commissioned by AFBF in April 2019, a strong majority of farmers and farmworkers said financial issues, farm or business problems, and fear of losing the farm, impact the mental health of farmers and ranchers, and nearly half of rural adults said they are personally experiencing more mental health challenges than they were a year ago. Research also shows that while farmers experience higher levels of psychological distress and depression than the general population, they are less likely to seek help for mental health issues. ************************************************************************************ Johnson to Retire from Role as Farmers Union President National Farmers Union President Roger Johnson announced earlier this week he will retire from his role in Washington, D.C. next year. Johnson will not seek reelection during the 2020 NFU annual convention in March, when his current term will end. NFU will elect his successor during the meeting in Savannah, Georgia. Johnson told reporters that Rob Larew, NFU’s senior vice president of public policy, is currently the lone candidate for the role. Before leading the family farm organization, he served as North Dakota Agriculture Commissioner and as president of the National Association of State Departments of Agriculture. Johnson, a third-generation family farmer from Turtle Lake, North Dakota, grew up in Farmers Union, participating in the organization's youth programs and serving as a county president and chairman of the board of a local Farmers Union cooperative. He says, "it has been my greatest honor to serve this organization and the admirable farmers and ranchers who comprise its membership." ************************************************************************************* American Royal Acquires Land for “Epicenter of Agriculture” The American Royal Association is one step closer to its goal of being the “Epicenter of Agriculture.” The organization recently acquired 115 acres in Kansas City, Kansas, following a purchase of 47 acres earlier this year. The association recently submitted its preliminary development plan country officials, which was approved this month. The one million-plus square foot complex with an outdoor plaza and arena will allow for an expansion of programming to 365 days a year. The facility features more than 800,000 square feet of indoor event space, including barn and exposition areas, three performance arenas, a large educational area, and more than 50,000 square feet of exhibit space. The American Royal has been a nationally recognized brand for more than a century. Beginning in 1899 as the National Hereford Show, the American Royal has evolved into a comprehensive season of food and agriculture activity. A ceremonial groundbreaking is expected Spring 2020, with construction beginning Summer 2020. The core complex is to be complete by winter of 2021.

| Rural Advocate News | Thursday December 12, 2019 |


Washington Insider: Hints at Delays for Scheduled Tariff Boosts Well, there’s lots going on in U.S. trade policy these days but the implications are still tough to interpret. For example, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., said she would support the new NAFTA deal in in the House – less than an hour after she announced the articles of impeachment against President Donald Trump. Though a dense fog of uncertainty remains, the Times says it sees signs that the U.S. may delay scheduled increases in duties on Chinese imports – but that the decision “rests with the president who could go either way,” the report said. So, new tariffs on over $100 billion of Chinese goods are due to take effect on Sunday. While many American officials are eager to avoid the tariffs, key observers insist that no decision has been made and the President is continuing to meet with advisers this week. The United States and China announced in mid-October that they had reached a so-called Phase 1 trade agreement that would allow Chinese purchases of American agricultural goods to resume while the United States would cancel additional tariffs scheduled for Oct. 15. American officials said that future tariff increases could also be avoided if the pact were signed. Since then, negotiators have continued to grapple over the deal’s terms. The two sides remain divided over how many of the tariffs will be canceled in return for China’s trade concessions, and over the terms that will govern Chinese purchases of tens of billions of dollars worth of American agricultural products. The administration’s next scheduled tariff increase is set for 12:01 a.m. on Dec. 15 and would place a 10% tariff on $156 billion of products, including toys, smartphones and other electronics, weighing on consumers and potentially turning into a political liability for a president headed into a re-election campaign. Business groups are worried about the new levies. “We’re still in a high-stakes poker game,” Myron Brilliant, the executive vice president at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, said. “Having another round of tariffs would be a poison pill in the context of the current U.S.-China negotiations and in the context of the global economy,” Brilliant added. “We hope both sides understand the urgency of getting an agreement finalized as soon as possible.” If President Trump delays those tariffs to allow more time for negotiations, it would be the fifth time this year that he has delayed or canceled tariffs—and could prompt criticism that China is taking advantage of the negotiating process. In addition, the significant progress this week on moving the revised North American trade deal toward a vote in Congress appears to have slowed progress toward a resolution by diverting the administration’s attention away from China, the Times said. The Times report concludes that “as the deadline nears, the December tariffs’ fate has grown particularly cloudy.” And, China apparently tried to appeal to the administration’s desire to see more farm purchases by offering a waiver on tariffs it had placed on U.S. soybeans as Chinese companies made large bulk purchases of American goods. In addition, USDA Secretary Sonny Perdue said this week during a trip to Indiana that he did not expect the new tariffs would be imposed. Also, critics continue to argue that the Phase 1 deal would do little to address America’s longer-term concerns about China’s economic practices. Reports from China this week indicate that the Chinese government had discernibly hardened its negotiating positions since President Trump and Vice Premier Liu He reached their agreement in October. That deal has attracted criticism from the more nationalistic wing of the Chinese government, especially since it lacks any U.S. pledge to roll back some of the tariffs already imposed. Since early November, Chinese negotiators have demanded that a Phase 1 deal include some tariff relief in order to make the deal “equal” – otherwise it will be one-sided, said Professor Tu Xinquan, the executive dean of the China Institute for WTO Studies at the University of International Business and Economics in Beijing. The trade ministry founded the university and retains close links to it. But China clearly has been wary of offering further concessions to offset a tariff rollback. That has stymied negotiators at least temporarily. Now, U.S. officials are telling the press that they are still waiting for China to signal its willingness to make “necessary concessions” to seal a deal. Clete Willems, a partner at Akin Gump who left the White House this year, said China appeared to be taking actions, like the soybean purchases, to persuade the administration to delay the tariffs as both sides work toward a deal. The president has a decision to make,” Mr. Willems said, “and realistically he could still go both ways.” So, we will see. Political tensions are so high just now that it is increasingly difficult to anticipate any economic decision, especially in the area of trade. As a result, the trade talks should be watched very closely by producers, especially as the scheduled deadlines approach, Washington Insider believes.

| Rural Advocate News | Thursday December 12, 2019 |


Full US Approval Of USMCA Seen In Early 2020 Signing of the updates to the U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA) Tuesday by officials from the three countries was hailed by both Democrats and Republicans in Washington. The House vote on the pact is expected to come next week, with some suggesting December 19 after the House finishes its action on the articles of impeachment. Senate approval, however, is not expected until early 2020. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., said Tuesday that a Senate vote “will have to come up in all likelihood right after the (impeachment) trial is finished in the Senate.”

| Rural Advocate News | Thursday December 12, 2019 |


More Time To Sign Up For Trade Aid, Dairy Program USDA says the brutal weather conditions this year that have continued recently are enough to have the agency extend signup for the 2019 Market Facilitation Program (MFP 2) and the Dairy Margin Coverage (DMC) program. MPF 2 signup was to have ended December 6 and DMC enrollment for 2020 was to end December 13. USDA says enrollment will now be open through December 20. Just over one quarter of licensed dairy operations, 7,204 farms, have enrolled in DMC for the 2020 calendar year as of Dec. 9. By comparison, 82% of licensed operations, 23,164 in all, signed up for the program for 2019. Under the first two of three possible tranches of MFP 2 payments, FSA has paid $10.470 billion in MFP payments to farmers. The top five states were Iowa, Illinois, Minnesota, Texas and Kansas.

| Rural Advocate News | Thursday December 12, 2019 |


Thursday Watch List Markets In addition to weekly export sales at 7:30 a.m. CST, there will be weekly jobless claims, and producer price index reports. We will also be watching for any updates regarding ongoing trade negotiations, and of course any changes in South American weather. Weather Snow squalls will move across the northern Midwest Thursday, causing transport delays and stressing livestock. We'll also see rain and snow in the Northwest. Snow and cold will focus on northern areas through the end of the week. The Southeast will see rain on Friday.

| Rural Advocate News | Wednesday December 11, 2019 |


Pelosi Announces USMCA Deal with White House House Speaker Nancy Pelosi Tuesday morning announced a “win” for workers and Democrats, saying they reached an agreement with the Trump Administration to move the U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement forward. Pelosi says the agreement is “infinitely better than what was initially proposed by the administration.” Representative Richard Neal, a Democrat who helped lead the effort, says Democrats support the new agreement because they crafted the details of the improved trade pact. President Donald Trump says the agreement is “Good for everybody - Farmers, Manufacturers, Energy, Unions,” adding USMCA has “tremendous support.” The Trump administration now must send implementing legislation to the House. Neal told reporters a vote in the House isn’t likely this week, but adds “we’re close,” saying he’s hopeful for a vote possibly next week. Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue says the agreement “improves virtually every component” of its predecessor, the North American Free Trade Agreement. Perdue adds, “the House and Senate need to work diligently to pass USMCA by Christmas.” ************************************************************************************* Farm Groups Welcome USMCA Announcement Agriculture groups applauded the announcement by House Democrats regarding a deal with the Trump Administration on the U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement. In a statement, National Corn Growers Association President Kevin Ross says, “NCGA appreciates the bipartisan efforts between Speaker Pelosi, Ambassador Lighthizer and the House working group to reach an agreement.” While the announcement is a step forward, agriculture groups are calling for quick passage of the agreement. The National Chicken Council in a statement says that after a year of negotiations,” the time to act is now,” adding “We encourage swift Congressional consideration and passage of USMCA before Christmas.” American Farm Bureau Federation President Zippy Duvall says, “This is an opportunity for Congress not only to help U.S. farmers and ranchers turn the corner on trade, but also show that Washington can still get things done on a bipartisan basis.” Once the agreement is sent to Congress for a vote, Congress has 90 congressional days, 45 in the House and 45 in the Senate, to consider USMCA. ************************************************************************************* December WASDE Report Mostly Unchanged The monthly World Agriculture Supply and Demand report offered little to excite or scare markets Tuesday. As the market and trade experts expected, there was little change in the monthly figures by the Department of Agriculture, with no change to corn and soybean production expectations or yields. Trade experts say it’s likely significant updates will wait until the January 2020 WASDE report. The projected season-average farm price for corn was unchanged at $3.85 per bushel. Meanwhile, Total U.S. oilseed production for 2019/2020 is forecast at 107.6 million tons, down slightly due to a decrease for cottonseed. Soybean supply and use projections for 2019/2020 are unchanged from last month. The U.S. season-average soybean price for 2019/2020 is forecast at $8.85 per bushel, down 15 cents. The outlook for 2019/20 U.S. wheat is for decreased supplies, higher exports, and lower ending stocks. Wheat imports are lowered 15 million bushels to 105 million on a slower than expected pace to date. And, the season-average farm price for wheat was lowered $0.05 per bushel to $4.55. ************************************************************************************* GOA to Review USDA’s Emergency Watershed Protection Program The Government Accountability Office will review the Department of Agriculture Emergency Watershed Protection Program. The announcement follows a request by Senators Michael Bennet, a Colorado Democrat, and Mitt Romney, a Utah Republican. Bennet and Romney requested that the GAO focus on several specific items, including approval processes under the program, project timelines, opportunities to expand eligible projects, and agency and stakeholder views of the program. Administered by USDA's Natural Resources Conservation Service, the Senators call the program an important tool designed to reduce financial strain and help communities across the West address imminent threats following a wildfire. However, communities often face challenges when attempting to use the program to support recovery efforts, including after fires in Colorado and Utah in 2018. The GAO review, which will commence in the coming months, will lead to recommendations to improve EWP and more effectively assist communities recovering from wildfires across the West. ************************************************************************************ Farmers Union Urges White House to Replace Aromatics with Biofuels The National Farmers Union Tuesday sent a letter to President Donald Trump endorsing the Governors’ Biofuels Coalition recommendation to lower air toxic emissions caused by the use of gasoline aromatics. Following the coalition's position, the organization suggested that aromatics be replaced with biofuels, which NFU says are higher octane, burn more cleanly, and are “far better” in terms of greenhouse gas emissions, air quality, and public health. NFU is a longtime proponent of replacing toxic aromatics with ethanol, filing comments to that effect on several different rulemakings, including the Safer Affordable Fuel Efficient Vehicles Rule. In a statement, NFU President Roger Johnson emphasized the benefits of doing so and advised the administration to adopt the recommendations. Johnson says biofuels are "substantially cleaner than petroleum-based octane additives," and cost-effective and readily available. Johnson urged the administration to make the change, that would "reduce health care costs, ease compliance burdens, and provide lower-cost fuel for consumers." ************************************************************************************ Extreme Weather Leads to Silage Mycotoxin Concerns Given the extreme weather in 2019, producers and users of silage should carefully watch for molds and mycotoxins. In a company news release, Alltech says extreme weather conditions and moisture levels can reduce yields and induce plant stress, and they can also lead to future issues for the crop, including mycotoxins and molds. Mycotoxins are a concern for livestock producers, as they influence feed quality and animal safety. Samples of the 2019 corn silage from across the U.S. submitted to the Alltech mycotoxin analytical services laboratory include high levels of mycotoxins. The samples have included an average of 7.13 mycotoxins, with a range of two to 14 mycotoxins per sample. Dr. Max Hawkins, nutritionist with the Alltech Mycotoxin Management team, says, “These levels of mycotoxins found in the 2019 crop are significantly higher than the average values.” He recommends livestock producers across the U.S. should test their own corn silage to identify the levels of individual mycotoxins and the subsequent risk present to livestock health and performance.

| Rural Advocate News | Wednesday December 11, 2019 |


Washington Insider: Trade Rule Confusion Washington has hardly ever been as divided as it is today, and the debate is unusually toxic including new and old trade fights, Bloomberg says this week. In addition, this fight appears to focus on how trade disputes may be settled in the future. The background is that the United States has been systematically undercutting the WTO’s trade dispute settlement mechanism, Bloomberg reports. It has blocked new appointments to the WTO appellate body, a policy that will “effectively paralyze it on Dec. 11,” Bloomberg says. That panel is responsible for “final trade rulings” that can affect billions of dollars in commerce. Now, Bloomberg thinks, the U.S. policy has forced governments to select among four options if a dispute is to be settled: Option 1: Trade wars with tit-for-tat tariffs and other anti-trade policies; Option 2: File a WTO claim “with the knowledge that the losing party may appeal it into legal limbo;” Option 3: Launch a dispute with an understanding that neither party will appeal a WTO’s dispute ruling; Option 4: Engage in an appeal-arbitration system that replicates the work of the WTO appellate body. The U.S. administration has shown a preference for option one – unilateral tariffs instead of waiting for a WTO dispute settlement award, Bloomberg says Now, however. China is in preliminary talks to support the European Union’s backup plan for settling international trade disputes as the U.S. administration gets closer to “scuttling” the current WTO role in refereeing cross-border commerce. On Tuesday, China’s Ambassador to the WTO Zhang Xiangchen told Bloomberg that Beijing is actively working to support the EU’s vision of an appeal-arbitration model, which essentially replicates the work of the WTO’s soon-to-be defunct appellate body. Until now, only Canada and Norway have endorsed the EU’s plan. “This is not the best option” but “this is an interim solution that can help countries to deal with their disputes,” Zhang said in the interview. While the conversations are still preliminary, the plan has drawn serious interest from various other WTO members such as Australia, Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Japan and Turkey, Bloomberg said. “There has been a gradual support for this as a very unfortunate Plan B,” former appellate body member James Bacchus told Bloomberg. “Now it seems to be the best option, given all the lousy options we have left.” Trade officials concede that the second option is basically a waste of time and money and the third option isn’t much better because there’s little incentive for a defending nation to participate if they know they’re going to lose. This is why a growing number of WTO members -- except for the U.S. – are beginning to take a hard look at the appeal-arbitration approach, Bloomberg says. The model is rooted on an existing WTO rule – Article 25 of the Dispute Settlement Understanding – that permits nations to agree to a voluntary form of arbitration to settle their disputes. Under this approach, the WTO Director-General can select a panel of previously vetted former appellate body members who apply the same procedures of the appellate body to reach a final judgment. As a practical matter, WTO members who sign on to such an approach will basically undergo the same process as the current appellate body. “If enough other countries sign up to the EU proposal, it could work as a stop-gap measure that would temporarily allow the WTO to arbitrate disputes between the other 163 members,” said Chad Bown, a senior fellow at the Washington-based Peterson Institute for International Economics. “But there are downsides,” he said. “The biggest is obviously that the U.S. is unlikely to sign up, so it will not work to solve any disputes that countries have with America.” But the EU has a plan for that, too, Bloomberg says. The EU is due as soon as this week to move toward strengthening its trade-policy arsenal by allowing for penalties against nations that undermine WTO rulings by appealing them into a legal void. The plan has backing from European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen, who instructed European Trade Commissioner Phil Hogan to bolster the EU’s toolkit in international commerce. In September, EU leadership moved to upgrade its enforcement regulation “to allow us to use sanctions when others adopt illegal measures and simultaneously block the WTO dispute settlement process.” “It proposed an interim appeal arrangement for those partners who are willing to continue to resolve disputes in a binding way in respect of the WTO rules,” Hogan said in a statement. “The European Commission will soon unveil further proposals to make sure that the EU can continue to enforce its rights in international trade matters should others block the system.” So, we will see. At the current moment, the U.S. administration is claiming progress toward a trade deal with Mexico and Canada--but is facing high hurdles in talks with China and others, including the EU. In addition, it no longer has its familiar leadership role in expanding access to growing markets in several key areas, including agriculture. Still, the economic impacts of current trade policies seem less threatening to economic growth than they did only a few weeks ago. However, a number of important, well established overseas markets are involved in critical discussion that should be watched closely by producers as they continue, Washington Insider believes.

| Rural Advocate News | Wednesday December 11, 2019 |


Sen. Grassley Still Says He Has Again Been Assured On The RFS Plan EPA will finalize its plan for 2020 biofuel and 2021 biodiesel levels under the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) in line with the September agreement between President Donald Trump and biofuel backers and corn producers, Sen. Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, told reporters Tuesday. Grassley indicated he had been assured about the mandates when he spoke with Office of Management and Budget (OMB) acting director Russell Vought, and he also had conversations recently with White House adviser Larry Kudlow. Contacts have indicated Kudlow has been formulating the plan. “I believe Kudlow understands why the market reacted negatively to the proposed rule,” Grassley said. “I also called OMB acting director Vought on Friday and he assured me that he would work to make sure the rule is finalized according to the agreement that was made on September 12.” The final EPA plan is currently at OMB for review with the agency planning to issue the final rule yet this month.

| Rural Advocate News | Wednesday December 11, 2019 |


USMCA Deal Reached, Shifting Focus To Ratification Months of negotiations between several parties involved finally reached the conclusion that some did not expect would happen – an agreement on altering provisions in the U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA). Signed by leaders from the U.S., Canada and Mexico in November 2018, the USMCA pact already won approval in Mexico. But Democrats in the U.S. House of Representatives complained the pact did not do enough to address labor issues that they said had to be adjusted before winning their support. And perhaps more importantly, the deal has come together despite the global tensions on trade and areas like the WTO that have seen parties remain at odds. U.S. House Democrats on Tuesday claimed victory in negotiating changes to a U.S.-Mexico-Canada trade agreement to ensure better protection for workers, the environment and remove key provisions that they said would have benefited big pharmaceutical companies. But the year-long negotiations between a Democratic working group and U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer produced an agreement all parties could accept. Expectations are the pact can still come up for approval in the House yet this year, with Senate approval also expected. However, the latter could spill into the early part of 2020.

| Rural Advocate News | Wednesday December 11, 2019 |


Wednesday Watch List Markets Early in the morning there will be the Consumer Price Index and Core CPI, two indicators of inflation, and comments from the Fed regarding interest rates. We will also be looking for any additional news about the USMCA and U.S.--China trade deals. Weather Snow and rain in the northeast to middle Atlantic region will end early Wednesday. Showers in Florida during the day. Light snow or snow showers in the Dakotas late in the day. Drier elsewhere in the key U.S. crop and livestock areas Wednesday. The central Argentina corn and soybean areas will be hot for one more day before the heat wave breaks. Highs yesterday were middle 90s to low 100s F. Increased stress to these crops

| Rural Advocate News | Tuesday December 10, 2019 |


USCMA Tentative Deal Reached A deal to allow the U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement to move forward seemed imminent Monday, with anonymous sources telling the Associated Press a deal was reached. President Donald Trump told reporters Monday afternoon there were "a lot of strides over the last 24 hours" with unions, adding "if they put it up for a vote, it'll pass." Fox Business News first reported an agreement between Trump and Mexico, along with House Democrats, and that it could be finalized and ready for action before the House of Representatives adjourns for the year. However, details reportedly still need to be finalized, and implementing legislation must be submitted to Congress. Additionally, the House of Representatives will need to schedule a vote on the agreement. The news broke as 158 lawmakers penned a letter the House Speaker Nancy Pelosi urging her to "seize this opportunity" to create a win for America. The lawmakers say expanding agriculture exports through USMCA “will help put American agriculture back on its feet.” ************************************************************************************* Trade War Impact $42 Billion A trade organization says the U.S. trade war with China has cost the U.S. $42 billion since February of 2018. Tariffs Hurt the Heartland Monday released data showing that in October alone, Americans paid a total of $7.2 billion in tariffs, more than any other amount in U.S. history, with $4 billion of that total stemming from the trade war. Americans for Free Trade spokesperson Jonathan Gold says, "It's time the administration finalizes a deal with China to end the trade war and remove all tariffs.” Talks of a phase one agreement continue, which would include agriculture provisions, but new tariffs are planned on China starting December 15. President Donald Trump last week indicated a final overall agreement could wait until after the 2020 U.S. elections. Brian Kuehl, co-executive director of Farmers for Free Trade, says the 2020 campaign will turn to farm states, adding, “The president needs to show he can close not just a phase one deal, but a comprehensive deal,” for farmers and rural America. ************************************************************************************* China Fuels October Pork Exports, Beef Exports Down from Last Year Strong demand from China bolstered U.S. pork exports in October, while October beef exports were below the high totals posted a year ago. Department of Agriculture data, compiled by the U.S. Meat Export Federation, shows October pork exports increased 8.5 percent year-over-year to 225,300 metric tons, while export value climbed ten percent to $592 million. January-October export volume was five percent ahead of last year's pace at 2.13 million metric tons, while value increased three percent to $5.48 billion. Although still burdened by China's retaliatory duties, October pork exports to the China region reached 61,000 metric tons, up 150 percent year-over-year, while export value climbed 127 percent to $141.3 million. USMEF CEO Dan Halstrom says China’s efforts to rebuild its domestic swine inventory continue, but added, "there are still excellent opportunities for pork-supplying countries." Meanwhile, October beef exports totaled 108,000 metric tons, an eight percent decline from last year's large volume, while export value of $649.1 million was down 11 percent. ************************************************************************************ Farm Groups Plead for Biodiesel Tax Extenders A group of farm organizations is asking House and Senate leadership to extend the biodiesel tax credit. A letter sent last week to leaders of both chambers says, "we believe that Congress can, and must, pass an immediate extension before returning home at the end of the year.” The group includes 11 farm and biofuels groups, including the American Farm Bureau Federation and National Farmers Union. Since 2005, there has been a $1.00 per gallon biodiesel and renewable diesel blenders' tax credit, which was created to stimulate production and consumption of biodiesel and renewable diesel. The tax credit expired on December 31, 2017. Separately, the Petroleum Marketers Association of America says Congress must “act now to retroactively extend the credit for calendar year 2018 and through at least 2019.” The farm groups charge that since the start of the year, producers have cut back production, investments in new technologies and facility upgrades, and purchases of raw materials, because of the uncertain future of the tax credit. ************************************************************************************* Petersen Sends Letter to EPA Criticizing RFS Proposal A letter by House Agriculture Chairman Collin Peterson criticizing the Environmental Protection Agency suggests EPA's proposal to "fix" the Renewable Fuel Standard undermines the program. Peterson sent a letter to EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler last week raising concerns about the October supplemental rule proposed by the EPA. In October, the agency submitted a supplemental proposed rule and suggested changes to the formula EPA uses to restore gallons waived through the small refinery exemptions process. Biofuels and farm groups are disappointed that the proposal doesn't fully address lost demand stemming from small refinery exemptions. Peterson says, "any action from EPA that does not uphold the integrity of the RFS is unacceptable." He claims, "The bottom line is the EPA continues to undermine the RFS at the expense of our farmers and biofuel producers. A public comment period on the proposal closed late last month. The EPA is expected to release the final rule soon, possibly on December 20. ************************************************************************************* NCBA Accepting Intern Applications for Fall 2020 The National Cattlemen's Beef Association, along with the Public Lands Council, is seeking fall 2020 policy internship applications. Positions for next fall, early-September - mid-December 2020, include public policy interns and a law clerk. The public policy internship will give students an opportunity to learn about career options and provide practical experience. From tax and trade to environmental and food safety regulations, interns will work on a variety of issues and have the opportunity to work specifically in the area of their interest. The law clerk will provide support to NCBA’s Environmental Counsel on issues relating to environmental legislation and regulations that impact beef producers. The deadline to apply for either position is March 6, 2020College juniors, seniors and graduate students are encouraged to apply. PLC Associate Director, Policy & Administration, Allie Nelson, a former NCBA intern herself, says the internships “let students get an up-close look” at how policy impacts cattle producers.

| Rural Advocate News | Tuesday December 10, 2019 |


Washington Insider: Insider Jobs and Lessons to Learn Well, the media was quite surprised by last week’s very positive jobs report and now is scrambling to interpret what it means. For example, the New York Times concedes that “conventional wisdom” was too pessimistic about how much the economy could grow before setting off inflation. In hindsight, this was a “costly mistake,” the Times said. It concludes that there are a lot of good things to say but also a few not so good things regarding the November employment numbers. The 266,000 job-growth number is a “blockbuster” even after accounting for the one-time boost of about 41,000 striking GM workers who returned to the job,” the report said. Revisions to previous months’ job counts were positive. The unemployment rate fell to 3.5%, matching its lowest level since 1969. The report also noted that the share of the adult population in the labor force ticked down and average hourly earnings “continued growing at only a moderate pace, up 3.1% over the last year. Still it said it “feels churlish” to focus on a weaker area “when the big-picture numbers are so good.” However, the Times thinks it sees a “bigger lesson” contained in the data, one that is important beyond any one month’s tally of the job numbers — and that is that the US economy is “capable of cranking at a higher level” than conventional wisdom held as recently as a few years ago. It now sees the economy as “continuing to grow well above what once seemed like its potential without inflation or other clear signs of overheating” and concludes that it’s “clearer” that the old view of its potential was an extremely costly mistake. The mainstream view held by the economics profession—including leaders of the Federal Reserve, the Congressional Budget Office, private forecasters and many in academia—was that the United States economy was at, or close to, full employment.” Looking back, the NYT said that in January 2017, for example, nearly three years ago, the Congressional Budget Office forecast a 4.7% unemployment rate as far as the eye could see, and it projected that the United States labor force would consist of 163.3 million in 2019. The jobless rate has averaged less than 3.7% through the first 11 months of the year, and the labor force now stands at 164.4 million people. The Federal Reserve likewise was too pessimistic about the potential of American workers; in projections three years ago, the consensus view of its leaders was that the unemployment rate would average 4.5% in the final months of 2019. “If that forecast had materialized, 1.6 million more Americans would currently be unemployed than actually are,” the Times said. That view also expected that the target interest rate to be around 2.9%, reflecting rate increases they believed would be needed to head off inflation. Instead, that interest rate is around 1.6% —"and you have to squint to see signs of inflation,” the Times said. If you go back even further, to the late Obama years, there was an even more pessimistic tone about the outlook for American workers embedded in the fine print of both public and private-sector forecasts. If we knew then what we know now, it would have had big implications for what seemed like sensible policy, the Times concluded. Thus, the US probably didn’t need to reduce budget deficits the way it did between 2013 and 2016 — now that we know how much untapped growth potential there was. The Fed probably didn’t need to raise rates as quickly or as much as it did. The Times also thinks that markets “seem to be getting that message.” For years, whenever there has been a strong jobs report like the one issued Friday, markets viewed it as hawkish for monetary policy — as tilting the balance toward more interest rate increases. But this time, analysts and financial markets seemed to take the big-time job growth numbers in stride, given that they weren’t accompanied by any signs of ill effects from the low unemployment rate and strong growth. Still, the Times urges caution. It notes that people still worry that this expansion, now in its 11th year, is growing long in the tooth or that we are late in the cycle. And maybe that’s right. But the biggest lesson when you contrast where the labor market stands at the end of 2019, versus where smart people thought it would stand just a few years ago, is that “there’s a lot we don’t know about just what is possible and how strong the United States economy can get.” Well, that’s a mouthful for the Times — or anybody — and it likely means that the economy certainly will bear watching in today’s turbulent times. Inflation likely is a threat in the minds of many observers even if it has been slow to show itself. Global weakness and uncertainty in trade still must be factored in — very carefully. But, good news is still good news even if it is complicated. Global market access still needs to be expanded even if that continues to be heavy, heavy lifting. These are trends producers should watch closely and carefully, as usual, Washington Insider believes.

| Rural Advocate News | Tuesday December 10, 2019 |


Groups Fighting California Rules On Animal Housing The National Pork Producers Council (NPPC) and American Farm Bureau Federation (AFBF) have filed a legal challenge to California’s Proposition 12, which imposes animal housing standards. The state’s law would force hog farmers who want to sell pork to the state that makes up around 15% of the US pork market to switch to alternative housing systems. The new rules slated to take effect Jan. 1, 2022 would prohibit the sale of pork not produced via California’s “highly prescriptive standards” under which only 1% of US pork production would qualify, according to a press release from NPPC and AFBF.

| Rural Advocate News | Tuesday December 10, 2019 |


Final EPA RFS Plan At OMB EPA’s final rule for the 2020 biofuel and 2021 biodiesel levels and how they intend to account for small refinery exemptions (SREs) has arrived at the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) for review. Biofuel supporters continue to express disappointment at EPA’s supplemental plan to account for SREs, but Sen. Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, has continued to express hope that EPA will live up to the White House commitment on conventional ethanol under the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS). EPA is still targeting to issue the final rule on the 2020 biofuel and 2021 biodiesel levels yet this month. Some reports indicate EPA will use “partial” waivers to address the SRE and others indicate there has been little change in the EPA compared with the proposed effort. If there are few changes, that will continue to keep this issue as a factor even once it is finalized.

| Rural Advocate News | Tuesday December 10, 2019 |


Tuesday Watch List Markets There will be an NFIB small business index. DTN will also be watching for any news regarding both the USMCA and U.S.-China trade pacts. We will also be watching the USDA WASDE report for any changes in demand in the U.S. and any production changes in export competitor countries. Weather Mixed precipitation is expected during Tuesday through the northern Delta region and just south of the Ohio river. Rain through the southern Delta and from the middle Atlantic region into the northeast U.S. Dry but much colder through the Northern Plains and Midwest regions as an Arctic air mass continues to move south and east. The East Coast states will continue to see well-above-normal temperatures during Tuesday. In South America, Argentina will see a second day with readings reaching the 90s and low 100s F increasing stress to early planted crops. Showers in Brazil mainly in and around the Mato Grosso area. No significant concerns in Brazil crop areas at this time.

| Rural Advocate News | Monday December 9, 2019 |


Last Minute Demands Further Complicate USMCA Passage Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi has an unlikely ally in Republican Senator Ted Cruz of Texas when it comes to a last-minute push for changes to the U.S.-Mexico-Canada Trade Agreement. They’re pushing to strip the trade pact of language shielding internet companies from liability over user-generated content. The protection has come under scrutiny in Washington, D.C., as companies like Facebook, YouTube, and Twitter, come under fire for harmful content and political misinformation on their pages. Critics are arguing that putting those protections in trade deals limits Congressional ability to reconsider them domestically. However, Republican lawmakers see the effort to eliminate the language as a last chance move to delay the trade deal. Adding in a new and potentially controversial request could significantly delay the process that everyone involved repeatedly says is close to finishing up. Texas Democrat Henry Cuellar (KWAY-ar) said the U.S. put an additional demand on the table that Mexico “doesn’t want to touch.” He didn’t say what the new demand was but did say that it came about as Mexico was “pretty much almost ready to go.” ********************************************************************************************* China will Lift Some Tariffs on Some U.S. Pork, Soybean China announced plans on Friday to lift some tariffs on U.S. soybeans and pork. A CNN report says the move could be designed to take some of the heat out of the talks aimed at bringing a truce to the trade war. The Chinese finance ministry said last week it would waive taxes on some imports once companies had applied for exemptions. It didn’t specifically say which goods or how many of the goods would be exempted. Back in September, China said it would exclude some soybeans and pork products from its newest tariffs. China’s Customs Tariff Commission of the State Council says it will “dedicate a range of goods to be excluded from tariff countermeasures against the U.S. Section 301 measure.” President Donald Trump had told reporters late last week that talks with China were going well and hinted that he may not place new tariffs on Chinese goods on December 15th as planned. When asked about the new tariffs going into effect on December 15th, Trump said “We’ll have to see. Something could happen but we aren’t discussing that yet. However, we’re having very good discussions with China.” ********************************************************************************************** China, U.S. still at Odds Over Ag Purchases The Wall Street Journal reports that the U.S. and China still can’t agree on the size of future Chinese purchases of U.S. agricultural commodities. President Donald Trump wants China to commit to buying $40 to $50 billion worth of American farm goods per year, which is significantly higher than the $8.6 billion the country bought a year ago. The administration is also asking China to announce its purchase plans, which the White House says shouldn’t depend on market conditions or other Chinese trade obligations. The two countries are working to get a Phase One trade deal signed ahead of a potential 15 percent tariff increase on Chinese imports that is scheduled to begin on December 15. Trump said last week that something could very well happen with those tariffs but did say the two countries aren’t discussing that yet. The Chinese Commerce Department’s Ministry spokesman also said last week that the two sides remain in “close communication” on trade. He says that China believes relevant tariffs must be lowered if both sides can reach an agreement on the phase one deal. ********************************************************************************************* NPPC, Farm Bureau Team up to Challenge Prop 12 in California The National Pork Producers Council and the American Farm Bureau have filed a legal challenge to California’s Proposition 12. The proposition imposes animal housing standards that reach outside of California’s borders to farms across the U.S. “Proposition 12 revolves around a set of arbitrary standards that lack any scientific, technical, or agricultural basis, and will only serve to inflict further harm on U.S. hog farmers,” says Jen Sorenson, NPPC vice president. “U.S. farmers are already fighting to expand overseas market opportunities. We shouldn’t have to fight to keep our domestic markets too.” Prop 12 will force hog farmers who want to sell pork in California to switch to alternative housing systems, at a significant cost to their business. “The law was sold to California voters as a solution to improve animal welfare and food safety,” says AFB General Counsel Ellen Steen. “However, it has nothing to do with food safety and many animals will suffer more injury and illness under its arbitrary rules.” Farm Bureau says farmers are best qualified to make farm-specific and animal-specific decisions on animal care. Prop 12 will drive up costs and force smaller farmers out of business, leading to greater consolidation in the pork industry. ********************************************************************************************** White House Adviser Working on Biofuel Mandate Plan White House economic adviser Larry Kudlow is working on improving the Trump administration’s plan for bolstering biofuel requirements. Bloomberg says the move comes after ethanol boosters in politically important farm states said the current proposal doesn’t compensate for waivers that exempt some small refineries from the mandates under the Renewable Fuels Standard. Biofuel producers, corn farmers, and Midwest political leaders blasted the Environmental Protection Agency’s current approach to biofuels as inadequate. They say the EPA mandates completely ignored the terms of an agreement reached on October 1st to raise biofuel blending requirements enough to fully offset refinery exemptions. Senator Chuck Grassley of Iowa says the EPA could have the best of intentions but “farmers don’t believe it” because of the agency’s track record. Oil industry leaders say the EPA’s current proposal is illegal, arguing that it would unfairly force the larger refineries to bear a higher burden of biofuel-blending requirements. EPA is currently reviewing public comments as it prepares a final rule that will set the 2020 biofuel quotas. Kudlow’s work could lead to changes in the final rule that would ensure the final measure is more in line with what Trump gave approved in negotiations that led to the October 1st agreement. ********************************************************************************************** USDA Reminds Producers to Contact Insurance Agents about Harvest Delays The USDA is reminding producers with crop insurance are facing harvest delays to make contact with their crop insurance agents by December 10th. Farmers need to file a Notice of Loss by that date or the applicable end of their insurance period to request an extension of time to finish harvest. Once the extension gets approved, an insured producer needs to harvest the crop at the first feasible opportunity. “Farmers are certainly struggling this year because of wet weather conditions,” says Martin Barbre, Administrator of the Risk Management Agency. “Producers covered by Federal Crop Insurance that are unable to harvest on time need to contact their crop insurance agents to file a notice of loss.” The goal of filing the notice is so that crop insurance claims are settled based on the amount of harvested production. For crops like corn and soybeans, the end of the insurance period is December 10th. For other crop deadlines, farmers must make contact with their agents to find out the specific dates.

| Rural Advocate News | Monday December 9, 2019 |


Washington Insider: NAFTA and Why It Isn’t Dead Yet Bloomberg is reporting this week that uncertainty remains about the proposed new North American Trade deal and why the “original NAFTA” isn’t dead and gone in spite of numerous administration pledges to wipe it out. In the 2016 campaign, candidate Donald Trump frequently pledged to renegotiate and terminate the deal “if we don’t get the deal we want.” The 1994 agreement included the U.S., Canada and Mexico and was intended to phase out tariffs on most goods to create “the world’s largest free-trade zone,” and to “triple trade among the signatories.” Negotiations over a replacement deal were underway for more than 13 months in 2017 and 2018, and the three countries have agreed to modest changes to NAFTA and a new name, the U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement. However, the changes have still not been implemented, Bloomberg says. In fact, the original deal is still in effect, covering most of the $1.25 trillion in annual trade among the three countries while leaders work on the USMCA. The administration “never actually pulled the U.S. out of NAFTA,” Bloomberg says. A year ago, the three countries signed a new pact and Mexico’s Senate ratified it in June. President Trump has been pressing the U.S. Congress to approve it but House majority Democrats are seeking changes, including stronger enforcement of the stepped-up labor and environmental provisions. Canada’s Parliament has held off on ratifying the deal as talks continue. Bloomberg says that the reason why the administration disliked the agreement so much was that it integrated North American supply chains in auto manufacturing and other industries and removed barriers to foreign investment and cross-border trade in services—and so was blamed for “increasing the U.S. trade deficit and sending manufacturing jobs to Mexico.” Though economists argue over NAFTA’s actual impacts, most objective studies have found it didn’t cause major aggregate job losses in the U.S., but also “didn’t significantly boost U.S. GDP. Bloomberg and others note that NAFTA did need updating although the deal which had been in place since 1994 “couldn’t have anticipated e-commerce and digital trade.” Now, while the administration says the proposed new agreement is “altogether different”—many agree that it is quite similar. Even fellow Republicans such as Senate Finance Chairman Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, believe that “95% of the new deal is the same as NAFTA,” Bloomberg says. Some industries would notice changes, however. For example, automakers would require more vehicle components to be made in North America with a portion made by workers earning an average of at least $16 per hour. In addition, Canada agreed to allow more imports of U.S. dairy products and both Canada and Mexico would increase the value of goods that can be imported duty-free. Bloomberg cites the U.S. International Trade Commission finding that the new deal would boost U.S. trade with Mexico and Canada by about 5% overall, resulting in a 0.35% GDP increase in its sixth year. It would also boost U.S. workers’ annual incomes by an average of $150 and increase employment by 0.12%, or roughly 176,000 jobs. Bloomberg adds that the deal also would “benefit businesses by providing increased certainty about the future, especially because it would largely exempt Canada and Mexico from future auto tariffs.” So, it appears that the deal “has momentum” but still faces hurdles. U.S. Democrats have pushed for changes on pharmaceuticals, environmental protections, labor and enforcement of the accord and have especially focused higher wages for Mexico to reduce pressure on U.S. companies to move across the border. However, there is growing concern that Mexico will come up short on the reforms expected of it, which include independent labor courts and the right to elect union representatives. Mexican officials say they’re near a deal but have balked at proposals such as unannounced labor inspections that they say would infringe on their sovereignty. As negotiations drag on, other sticking points have emerged, including the agreement’s liability shield for tech companies and the required use of North American steel and aluminum in vehicles. The administration is pushing Congress to ratify the deal by year’s end. So, we will see. These talks involve high stakes for U.S. producers who have long invested in building access to growing markets across the region. Certainly, they should be watched closely by producers as they proceed, Washington Insider believes.

| Rural Advocate News | Monday December 9, 2019 |


FERC Approves Two More Tariff Amendments In Another Bid To Boost Midwest Propane Supplies Two oil pipeline tariff amendments aimed at boosting propane supplies to the Midwest were approved by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC). ONEOK North System and Enterprise EU Products Pipeline Company said they received requests from shippers for the changes after the start of the alternative dispute resolution (ADR) process initiated by FERC in November, the regulator said. The action was to “alleviate propane pipeline constraints in Midwest states,” FERC said. Relative to ONEOK, FERC cleared a revised pipeline transportation capacity allocation policy allowing shippers to transfer allocated capacity to other shippers through the end of this month, and to receive credit to their allocation history for barrels moved by replacement shippers. In the Enterprise TE case, the company is extending emergency transportation service of propane to the Midwest region. The Enterprise TE action will continue until canceled or modified by Enterprise TE, FERC said. “FERC continues to monitor the Midwest propane situation, and the ADR process is continuing,” the regulator noted.

| Rural Advocate News | Monday December 9, 2019 |


Agriculture Opens FY 2020 With Solid Rise In Exports U.S. agricultural exports improved to $12.08 billion in October, up from $10.3 billion in September, and the highest since they were $12.08 billion in November 2018, according to USDA’s Latest U.S. Agricultural Trade Data update. However, they were below the October 2018 mark of $12.16 billion. Imports, meanwhile, were at $10.92 billion, up from $10.08 billion in September, marking an eight straight month at $10 billion or more. They were just slightly ahead of the year-ago mark. The result is a trade surplus of $1.17 billion, down from the year-ago mark of $1.26 billion, but up from just $219.8 million in September. October and November tend to be the strongest two months for U.S. agricultural exports each FY, while imports have tended to peak in the March-May period. Imports have been at $10 billion or more in all but two months since October 2017. During FY 2019, which ended with a trade surplus of $4.6 billion, the smallest since FY 2006, only October and November saw the trade surplus above $1 billion and there were three monthly deficits registered, including a record monthly deficit of $865 million in April. USDA forecasts FY 2020 ag exports will rise to $139 billion versus the FY 2019 result of $135.5 billion, while imports are seen at a record $132 billion, taking out the prior record registered in FY 2019 of $130.9 billion. That is forecast to leave a trade surplus of $7 billion. But with imports maintaining a solid pace, the USDA forecast is far from certain at this point.

| Rural Advocate News | Friday December 6, 2019 |


Trump; China Agreement has to Work for the U.S. Ag Secretary Sonny Perdue made a recent appearance on CNBC to talk about U.S. trade negotiations with China. The secretary says President Trump wants a “phase one” deal with China that works for the United States. “The president wants to come to a deal that’s enforceable, that’s reliable, and will be consistent with what the deal says.” His appearance on CNBC happened shortly after a Bloomberg report said that the U.S. and China were edging closer to wrapping up an agreement before new U.S. tariffs go into effect December 15th on more Chinese imports. During the NATO summit this week, Trump told reporters that trade talks with China are “going well.” He made those comments just one day after saying he might want to delay a deal with China until after the 2020 presidential election. Beijing and Washington have hit each other’s goods with billions of dollars in tariffs. The moves have hit U.S. farmers especially hard. Nearly $20 billion in U.S. agricultural exports went to China last year alone. “We in agriculture are optimistically hopeful that we can conclude this,” Perdue tells CNBC. However, he reiterated administration concerns that China won’t follow through on what it promises in the agreement. ********************************************************************************************* Wisconsin Rep Asks Perdue for More Support Wisconsin Representative Ron Kind sent a letter of Ag Secretary Sonny Perdue demanding that he have a plan to provide certainty and support for family farms amidst the trade talks with China. Kind points out in the letter that the secretary refers to farmers as “casualties” of the trade war. Kind sent the letter as a deadline for new tariffs on Chinese goods is set to take effect on December 15th and after Trump suggested that waiting to settle the dispute until after the 2020 elections is an option. Kind’s home state of Wisconsin loses an average of two farms a day and is on top of the nation in terms of the number of family farmers who’ve declared bankruptcy. It’s the second-straight year that Wisconsin has led the U.S. in that dubious category. As U.S. farmers face sometimes overwhelming challenges, they’re finding export markets increasingly closed off. In the first four months of this year, Wisconsin agriculture exports dropped nearly five percent compared to the previous year. Ag exports to China dropped by 31 percent. Kind says Wisconsin taxpayers have forked over $743 million in additional tariffs since the trade war began in March of 2018. ********************************************************************************************* Settlement on Cooperatives Working Together Lifts Cloud over Dairy The National Milk Producers Federation announced a settlement agreement that would end a class-action lawsuit concerning the Herd Retirement Program that ended back in 2010. The program was administered through the federation’s Cooperatives Working Together initiative. The settlement will safeguard ongoing efforts to aid U.S. dairy producers, lift a cloud over the industry that’s lasted years, and it allows NMPF member cooperatives and the current CWT program to move forward with more certainty. The plaintiffs consisted of larger retailers and companies who directly buy butter and cheese from CWT member cooperatives. The settlement amount is $220 million in exchange for a release of all claims. Neither the NMPF nor any of its member cooperatives admit any wrongdoing as a result of the settlement. “There is no way to sugarcoat a settlement of this size, especially given that the Herd Retirement Program was a well-publicized effort designed to serve dairy producers in difficult times,” says Jim Mulhern, President and CEO of the NMPF. “It was praised by two Secretaries of Agriculture and a number of the leading members of Congress.” The plaintiffs sought damages relating to the Herd Retirement Program, which offered dairy farmers financial incentives to market their milking herds for beef. It operated between 2003 and 2010. ********************************************************************************************** USDA Opening CRP Signup on December 9th The USDA’s Farm Service Agency announced that signup for the Conservation Reserve Program will begin on December ninth. The signup period ends on February 28th for general CRP, while the signup for continuous CRP is ongoing. Farmers and ranchers who enroll in CRP get a yearly payment for voluntarily establishing long-term, resource-conserving plant species like approved grasses or trees that help control erosion. The practices also improve water quality and develop wildlife habitat on marginally productive agricultural lands. “The Conservation Reserve Program is one of our nation’s largest conservation efforts and a critical tool to help producers better manage their operations while they conserve natural resources,” says Ag Secretary Sonny Perdue. CRP currently has 22 million acres enrolled in the program. However, the 2018 Farm Bill lifts the cap on acres up to 27 million. That means many farmers and ranchers have the chance to enroll for the first time or continue their participation for another term. CRP was first signed into law in 1985 and is one of the largest private-lands conservation programs in the United States. The program has evolved over the years and provides a variety of conservation and economic benefits across the country. ********************************************************************************************** USDA will Take Seven Trade Mission Trips in 2020 The U.S. Ag Department announced it will sponsor seven agribusiness trade missions in 2020. The goal will be to diversify and grow export opportunities around the world for American farmers and ranchers. “I cannot overstate the immense value trade missions provide to the U.S. agriculture industry and our customers,” says USDA Undersecretary for Trade and Foreign Agricultural Affairs Ted McKinney. He says trade missions help agribusinesses big and small to get their foot in the door to new markets, build strong relationships with existing and potential customers, and expand their global footprint and sales of U.S. farm and food products. “I’ve had the pleasure of leading numerous trade missions at USDA and the results overwhelmingly speak for themselves,” he adds. “In 2019 alone, six USDA trade missions enabled more than 170 U.S. companies and organizations to engage in more than 3,000 face-to-face meetings with foreign buyers.” Those engagements generated more than $78 million in projected 12-month sales. Destinations in 2020 include North Africa, the Philippines, Spain and Portugal, the United Kingdom, Australia and New Zealand, Peru, and the United Arab Emirates. ********************************************************************************************** Sheep Industry gets Predator Control Approval from EPA Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Andrew Wheeler announced the final interim decision on the registered use of sodium cyanide for predator control. The EPA worked in conjunction with the USDA’s Wildlife Services to put out a label for the predator control tool. The label will include three additional use restrictions to promote public awareness and decrease non-target impacts. Benny Cox, President of the American Sheep Industry Association, says the nation’s sheep producers welcome the decision. “We sincerely appreciate the USDA and EPA working together to ensure livestock producers will have access to effective predator control, while also increasing public awareness and transparency,” he says. “Livestock producers face heavy losses from predators, with those losses totaling more than $232 million every year.” He says producers are especially vulnerable to losses during lambing and calving. Sodium cyanide is only used under the oversight of federal or state wildlife officials.

| Rural Advocate News | Friday December 6, 2019 |


Washington Insider: Banks Can Loan to Support Hemp Production The press is fascinated by the fact that last year, Congress chose to authorize farmers to produce and market hemp — sort of. However, the process of moving that industry into the mainstream has been fraught with difficulty but that may be changing. For example, the Wall Street Journal this week wrote that banks are no longer required to report hemp growers as suspicious and cited a group of financial regulators who said “lenders are no longer required to file reports on customers who produce hemp for commercial purposes.” The Journal noted, as have many others, that “until recently, hemp production largely was banned under federal law.” Then, last year’s farm bill removed hemp from a list of federally controlled substances and directed USDA to regulate domestic production. However, there are still some controls on hemp production and banks are still required to file reports on customers in the hemp business if they suspect “suspicious” activity, regulators said. The Treasury’s Financial Crimes Enforcement Network says it will issue additional guidance after further evaluation of the USDA’s rules governing hemp production. This week, the American Bankers Association, a trade association, praised the release of the industry guidance. Even after last year’s farm bill, access to banking services has been “an ongoing problem,” according to Erica McBride Stark, the executive director of the National Hemp Association, a trade group for growers. “So, this actually should be quite helpful.” Even after hemp production became legal, it took USDA most of a year to devise rules for the industry and bank regulators were even slower to change. The restrictions on the industry had held back even Stark’s organization, a nonprofit that does not actually produce hemp. The trade group had problems getting basic services because banks were worried that they it could be receiving proceeds from a crime when it collected its members’ dues, the New York Times said. The report charged that Stark said that USDA’s rule change “had not helped. They understood that hemp was removed from the federal Controlled Substances Act but because of the paperwork that was involved, a lot of producers were just like, ‘yeah, it’s just not worth it,’” she said. Rob Nichols, the president of the American Bankers Association, a trade group, said his members had been pushing for the change for some time, and was also interested in changing rules for marijuana production. Last month, the association surveyed 1,800 agriculture-focused banks in the country and found that almost half had gotten questions from their farmer-customers about whether they would still do business with them if they started growing hemp. “We appreciate the steps regulators have taken to clarify regulatory expectations for banks, and we look forward to working with them as they develop additional guidance,” Nichols said. While the change will help businesses making clothes and other hemp products, it does not affect even the legal marijuana businesses dealing with the same problems. The federal government still considers marijuana to be illegal and even local banks have been too worried about getting in trouble to deal with them. But banks large and small have come together to support a bill in Congress, the SAFE Banking Act, that would legalize marijuana banking by stipulating that the proceeds of a state-sanctioned marijuana business would not be considered illegal under federal anti-money-laundering laws. The House of Representatives passed a version of the bill, and the banking industry is pushing the Senate to take it up. If it were to become law, it would let banks dive into a lucrative new industry that has been plagued by security concerns and is desperate for even the most basic services, like checking accounts and credit card processing. Still, it wasn’t clear on Tuesday that the change to hemp regulations would immediately influence bankers’ attitudes. Bankers say they are still reviewing the complicated licensing requirements that states and USDA have devised for hemp growers. In the meantime, growers’ hopes might still be threatened. Stark said she had heard Wells Fargo was considering offering banking services to hemp businesses, but a Wells Fargo spokesman said the bank was taking no such steps. So, we will see. It clearly has been difficult for a staid old business like agriculture to shift to support what many believed, and believe, is an illegal activity. However, if hemp production proves to be profitable, even that reluctance likely will fade into the sunset, Washington Insider believes.

| Rural Advocate News | Friday December 6, 2019 |


USDA Opens General CRP Signup And Enrollments Could Be Sizable USDA will open a general Conservation Reserve Program (CRP) signup December 9 through February 28, 2020. At the end of October, there were 21.967 million acres in the CRP, including contracts that were to expire September 30 but were given a one-year extension. Contracts on around 970,000 acres were extended, about 81 percent of acres that were eligible to be in the program for another year. Continuous CRP signup in Fiscal Year (FY) 2019 enrolled about 245,000 acres. USDA also pledged that the general signups will be held annually. That has not been the case for several years as acres enrolled in the program were very close to the maximum level allowed via the 2014 Farm Bill. Under the 2018 Farm Bill, the CRP acreage cap is increased from the current cap of 24 million acres in FY 2019, to 24.5 million in FY 2020, 25 million in FY 2021, 25.5 million in FY 2022 and 27 million in FY 2023. The decision to hold annual general signups reflects the level of CRP contracts that will expire ahead. There are contracts on 5.36 million acres set to mature September 30, 2020. That could allow for a very robust general signup given the current level of CRP acres and the contracts maturing in September 2020.

| Rural Advocate News | Friday December 6, 2019 |


China Continues to Insist on Tariff Rollbacks in Phase One Deal As close communications between the U.S. and China continue, China is making clear it wants tariffs lowered as part of any Phase 1 trade deal. "The Chinese side believes that if the two sides reach a Phase 1 deal, tariffs should be lowered accordingly," Commerce ministry spokesman Gao Feng told reporters. In Washington, China’s Ambassador to the U.S., Cui Tiankai, said the two sides are trying to resolve their differences over trade, but warned some are trying to undermine those efforts. "At the same time, we must be alert that some destructive forces are taking advantage of the ongoing trade friction (through) extreme rhetoric such as 'decoupling,' the 'new Cold War,' and ‘clash of civilizations,'" Cui said in remarks at a U.S.-China Business dinner. He said some are trying to “rebuild the Berlin Wall between China and the United States in the economic, technological and ideological fields.” He called on U.S. and Chinese companies to withstand efforts he said were aimed at spreading “hostility and even create conflict between us," as well as "fake news" about the situations in both Hong Kong and Xinjiang. Cui did not specifically talk about the status of the trade talks, but said China remains committed to expanding bilateral trade and investment between the two nations.

| Rural Advocate News | Friday December 6, 2019 |


Friday Watch List Markets Weekly jobless claims will be out in the morning, along with the Trade Deficit and Factory orders. We will also be watching for any news regarding the U.S. and China trade negotiations. DTN will also be looking at U.S. export sales to see if corn sales pick up and whether soybeans can maintain the positive sales pace. Weather Showers may occur through west-central and southeast Plains areas later Thursday and in the Delta at night. Snow may develop through the upper peninsula of Michigan during this time. Mainly dry elsewhere in the key U.S. crop areas. In areas without a snow cover this should allow for some harvesting of corn and soybeans. In South America rainfall moves north through Brazil's corn and soybean belt maintaining favorable conditions. Drier weather returns to the central Argentina corn and soybean belt. Dryness remains a significant concern in key growing areas of Argentina.

| Rural Advocate News | Thursday December 5, 2019 |


USDA Announces Final SNAP Rule A final rule making changes to the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program restores intent of the program, according to the Department of Agriculture. However, critics say the rule could cut benefits to hundreds of thousands of recipients, and charge that the rule ignores a bipartisan agreement in the 2018 farm bill. The change tightens work requirements for able-bodied SNAP participants without dependents. Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue says amid the strongest economy in a generation, the rule "lays the groundwork for the expectation that able-bodied Americans re-enter the workforce where there are currently more job openings than people to fill them." Senate Agriculture Committee Ranking Democrat Debbie Stabenow of Michigan, counters, "this rule could cause one million people to lose their food assistance, while doing nothing to help them find jobs.” The National Farmers Union says the rule “will erode food security in rural and urban communities alike.” In the announcement, Secretary Perdue says, “Government can be a powerful force for good, but government dependency has never been the American dream.” ************************************************************************************* Japan Approves Partial Trade Agreement with U.S. Japan’s Upper House of Parliament Wednesday ratified a partial trade agreement with the United States, which will go into effect on January 1, 2020. Ryan LeGrand, President and CEO of the U.S. Grains Council, notes that the agreement “solidifies trade with our second-largest corn market." The agreement immediately reduces U.S. corn and sorghum imports for all purposes to a zero-tariff level, reduces the U.S. barley mark up and includes a staged tariff reduction for U.S. ethanol and U.S. corn, barley and sorghum flour. Also, U.S. feed and food corn, corn gluten feed, and DDGS will continue to receive duty-free market access. Meanwhile, the U.S. Meat Export Federation called the agreement “one of the biggest developments in the history of red meat trade.” With tariff rates mirroring those imposed on major competitors, USMEF's forecast for 2020 is for U.S. beef and pork exports to Japan to reach $2.3 billion and $1.7 billion, respectively. Export volumes are projected to be roughly 360,000 metric tons for beef and 410,000 metric tons for pork. ************************************************************************************* Trump: USMCA Action up to Pelosi President Donald Trump told reporters Wednesday the U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement is on the desk of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi. Trump says Pelosi, “doesn’t have to talk to anybody,” adding she “has to put it out for a vote.” The President made the comments to the White House press pool on the sidelines of the NATO summit in London. Talk of getting USMCA on the House floor this week brought optimism the agreement could be completed yet this year. However, it seems more likely to be finalized in early 2020, as the trade pact faces several procedural hurdles. Although, some fear the agreement could get lost in the shuffle of election-year politics next year. Mexico must first approve changes to the agreement before the House of Representatives can hold a vote on the agreement. A trade official from Mexico met with U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer Wednesday, as both sides are working towards a speedy compromise. Agriculture groups continue to urge the agreement be finalized as quickly as possible. ************************************************************************************* AFBF: Trade Progress Can’t Wait The American Farm Bureau Federation says farmers can’t wait for progress on trade deals, including the U.S.-Mexico-Canada agreement and a deal with China. President Donald Trump earlier this week suggested there was no deadline to reach a final agreement with China, and that an agreement could wait until after the 2020 elections. However, a phase one agreement including agriculture provisions could still come this month. In his comments, Trump said trade aid to help farmers cope with tariffs “got them whole.” AFBF President Zippy Duvall said in a statement that while the payments to farmers provide critical support, "trade aid payments are not making farmers whole." Duvall says a trade agreement with China's must be a priority, adding further delay in reaching an agreement "would make it hard for struggling farmers to hold on in the face of rising bankruptcy rates." Duvall also says passing USMCA would “send a message to the rest of the world that we are back in the game” of global trade. ************************************************************************************ Bankers Association Welcomes Hemp Banking Regulations The federal government this week released banking guidance for the finance industry related to hemp producers. The American Bankers Association says the guidance makes clear that banks are not required to file Suspicious Activity Reports on hemp producers operating under an approved federal, state or tribal license or plan. The guidance also states bank customers are responsible for complying with regulatory requirements, not the banks. The guidance came following an interim final rule in October from the Department of Agriculture, which provided a framework for how USDA will approve regulatory plans from states and tribes that wish to oversee hemp production, as well as a federal plan to license producers in areas without approved local plans. Federal regulators said they would issue further guidance after reviewing the USDA rule. While the 2018 farm bill reclassified hemp as a legal agricultural commodity, significant questions remained, and ABA encouraged regulators to provide additional clarity on banks' ability to serve hemp producers and hemp-related businesses. ************************************************************************************ Grain Elevators Facing Tighter Margins, Revenue Pressures in 2020 Grain elevators face significant challenges in the year ahead as they buy basis on corn, soybeans and wheat at the highest levels seen in years, according to a new report. CoBank reports basis for the three major grains is significantly tighter across the country from strong end-user bids, limited pipeline supplies, and lack of farmer selling amid an uncertain fall harvest. A CoBank researcher says, “grain elevators are being compelled to offer farmers a range of incentives to sell bushels,” including lower rates on storage, free delayed pricing and free grain drying, all cutting into elevator margins. Grain quality issues resulting from high moisture at harvest and frost damage on immature crops will also raise management costs for elevators, potentially resulting in greater losses to shrinkage and spoilage. A propane supply shortage in some regions is also driving up the cost of drying grain. However, grain elevators also have an opportunity to improve margins in an otherwise stressful year, as basis will likely soften as more bushels come to market as harvest operations conclude.

| Rural Advocate News | Thursday December 5, 2019 |


Washington Insider: Technical Basis for Ag Trade Aid Criticized The fact that efforts to compensate producers for the impacts of the trade wars with China and others are controversial likely is no surprise to most observers — the 1980 efforts to compensate producers for the Carter administration’s embargo on shipments of commodities to Russia were a political disaster. So it likely was expected to be a challenge to find a “just right” level for such payments this time. That appears to be the case, Bloomberg is reporting. It says that the President’s $28 billion farm bailout “may be paying many growers more than the trade war with China has cost them.” Bloomberg says it has found “six academic studies that conclude that the USDA’s calculations “overshot the impact of the trade conflict on American soybean prices.” The result likely will add to criticism that the bailout has generated distortions and inequalities in the farm economy. The dispute is involving big names in ag economics. For example, “it’s clear that the payment rates overstate the damage suffered by soybean growers,” Joseph Glauber said. He is USDA’s former chief economist and published a review of the research in late November. “Based on what the studies show, the damages were about half that.” The academic research has focused on soybeans in part because the crop has been the most visible target of Chinese retaliation and overall received the most trade aid. But USDA’s calculation method likely overstates the conflict’s financial impact on most other farm products, as well Glauber, now a senior fellow at the International Food Policy Research Institute, told Bloomberg. The divergence doesn’t necessarily mean a bonanza for American farmers, who are being financially squeezed on other fronts, including a global commodity glut that is depressing prices and a year of wild weather that is damaging crop yields. Also, the trade conflict risks long-term loss of market share for U.S. producers as overseas customers build relationships with replacement suppliers. Neither the academic nor the USDA estimates take potential future market losses into account. “You’re ruining a huge export market,” said Yuqing Zheng, an agricultural economist at the University of Kentucky. “Longer term, we don’t know for sure what the impact will be.” Still, a team Zheng led estimated the trade conflict depressed U.S. soybean prices by only 36 cents per bushel in its first year, a period in which the bailout program paid soybean growers more than four times that: $1.65 per bushel, Bloomberg said. The program is encountering other flak, as well. For example, Senate Democrats reported in November that the trade aid program favors large producers over smaller ones. And an advocacy group, the Environmental Working Group, released a study that asserted big farms so far have been the main beneficiaries of the billions of dollars in aid payments. Still, USDA appears willing to emphasize the current program’s positive impacts. It said last week that it expects net farm income to rise more than 10% this year to $92.5 billion “with government aid accounting for all of the increase in profits.” The trade aid, particularly for soybeans, largely goes to the president’s political supporters, Bloomberg said and notes that he has maintained overwhelming backing from them. Glauber estimates more than half of the direct payments under the USDA’s market facilitation program cover soybeans. The apparent over-payment stems from the method the USDA uses to compute trade damages. The department forecast the overall price impact of punitive tariffs China and other nations imposed on U.S. farm products without considering potential sales in alternative markets. For example, as China bought more soybeans from Brazil, other buyers stepped in to purchase more soybeans from the U.S. in some cases, replacing product they had previously bought from Brazil. “A broader analysis like some of these show the beans go elsewhere,” Glauber said. “They don’t just go into storage. Some of them go to Europe. Some of them go to other uses. We ended up crushing a lot more soybeans in 2018 than expected. We exported more vegetable oil, more protein meal. All of that mitigates the price impact.” Robert Johannson, the USDA’s chief economist, said the department decided to base trade aid on a projection of “gross” trade losses rather “net” losses primarily for consistent treatment of producers of diverse farm products affected. It’s harder to isolate net trade impact for specialty crops such as pecans or almonds than for major commodities such as soybeans, he said. “We need to be pretty sure whatever method we use is consistent across all commodities,” Johannson said. USDA officials also concluded after consulting with U.S. trade negotiators that there was an advantage to using the gross damages method because it is the basis the country uses for its negotiations. The USDA has boosted its trade damage estimate for soybeans in this year’s aid program, at $2.05 per bushel, a figure a number of analysts say still exceeds their estimates of impact in the period. This year’s payment is higher because the USDA decided to calculate the damage based on export sales over the past 10 years; last year’s payment was based on a comparison with the prior year. So, we will see. Glauber and several of the other critics of the program’s management are high-profile professionals and their criticism certainly will attract attention, although the current “fog” of the policy wars makes it very hard to focus on criticisms, let alone for advocates to react to them. Whether or not the economists’ views now emerging have much impact on the program’s technical design is difficult to anticipate, especially amid so many tough economic and political controversies. However, the amounts involved are significant and will be watched closely by budget hawks — and should be followed closely by producers as program decisions are debated, Washington Insider believes.

| Rural Advocate News | Thursday December 5, 2019 |


Government Bank Regulators Give Approval For Banks To Serve Hemp Companies Federal regulators gave banks the go-ahead to serve industrial hemp customers without any enhanced anti-money laundering reporting requirements. The Federal Reserve, the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp., the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency and the Financial Crimes Enforcement Network said in guidance that banks would no longer have to file suspicious activity reports just because they conduct transactions or other services for hemp-related businesses. Banks had been slow to serve industrial hemp-related businesses despite the cousin to marijuana being removed from federal controlled substance scheduling in the 2018 Farm Bill. There was uncertainty over whether hemp would be subject to the same types of robust reporting requirements as marijuana.

| Rural Advocate News | Thursday December 5, 2019 |


Approval by Japanese Diet Clears Way for January Implementation of Trade Deal with US Japan’s Diet, their upper house of parliament, has approved the limited trade deal reached with the U.S. that will cut tariff levels on farm and industrial goods. The lower house of parliament cleared the plan last month. No U.S. congressional approval of the deal is required. This now paves the way for the deal to be implemented starting in January. Agricultural provisions in the pact are the highlight for the U.S. side, while Japan insists that the U.S. has committed to remove tariffs it has in place on Japanese autos and auto parts, with the two sides to embark on negotiations on the time frame for such an action. As for the economic impacts of the deal, Japan’s Cabinet Secretariat indicated it would boost real GDP by 0.8%, with that expectation based on the assumption that existing tariffs on Japanese car exports to the U.S. would be removed. Japan’s agricultural production was forecast to fall between 60 billion-110 billion yen ($552 million-$1 billion), according to the estimate. For the U.S., the deal will result in tariffs being either lowered or removed on $7.2 billion in U.S. agricultural products like beef, pork, wine and cheese. The accord largely sets the tariff levels for U.S. market access in Japan at those that would have been put in place had the U.S. remained in the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) agreement that has since been finalized between the 11 countries that were part of the TPP. That pact is now the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP).

| Rural Advocate News | Wednesday December 4, 2019 |


Trump: No Deadline for Final China Trade Deal In a flurry of meeting with reporters Tuesday in London, President Donald Trump says he has no deadline for finalizing a complete trade deal with China. China and the U.S. are still working to reach a phase one agreement, with an unofficial deadline of December 15, but an overall agreement may extend beyond the 2020 elections. Trump told reporters, "In some ways, I think it's better to wait until after the election.” Trump says China wants to reach an agreement, adding, “the China trade deal is dependent on one thing: Do I want to make it?” Trump claims he is doing “very well” in the talks with China. The President also pointed out the $28 billion in trade aid given to U.S. farmers, with "many billions" leftover, adding about the funds, “that got them whole.” China wants Trump to remove tariffs in reaching a phase one agreement that also includes $40-$50 billion in purchases of U.S. agricultural products over two years. ************************************************************************************* November Ag Economy Barometer Released The Purdue/CME Group Ag Economy Barometer rose in November for the second month in a row, climbing to 153, 17 points higher than in October when the index stood at 136. This month’s rise in the ag economy sentiment index left the barometer tied with July for the highest reading of 2019. Once again, the rise was driven by improvements in farmers’ perceptions of both current economic conditions, and their belief that conditions will improve in the future, with the biggest boost coming from improved views of current conditions. Producers in November became much more confident that the trade dispute with China will be settled soon. On the November survey, 57 percent of respondents said they expect a resolution soon, up from 42 percent in October. Additionally, 80 percent of respondents now say they believe the trade dispute will end in a beneficial outcome for U.S. farmers. The index is based on a survey of 400 agricultural producers on economic sentiment each month. ************************************************************************************* NCBA Staff Directed to Work With USDA to Verify Beef Origin Labeling Claims The National Cattlemen’s Beef Association executive committee unanimously approved efforts to work with the Department of Agriculture to address geographic origin statements. NCBA is firmly opposed to mandatory Country-of-Origin labeling and is seeking solutions which “will resolve the concerns of beef producers,” while protecting commerce and meet trade obligations. Specifically, NCBA is Looking at Food Safety and Inspection Service labeling requirements and verification procedures in place for beef products labeled as “Product of the U.S.A.,” “Made in the U.S.A.,” or similar origin claims. NCBA CEO Colin Woodall says that while many beef products currently advertised, marketed, or labeled as ‘Product of the U.S.A.' are “likely compliant with current FSIS regulations, the potential for consumer confusion exists.” NCBA believes that beef labels with voluntary country-of-origin labeling marketing claims should be verified through existing USDA framework that is market-based and respects international trade commitments. The organization says it is critically important that any changes not trigger retaliatory tariffs from Mexico or Canada that have already been approved by the WTO. ************************************************************************************* FDA Nomination Heads to Senate Floor With NMPF Hopeful for Progress on Fake Milk The Senate Health Committee Tuesday advanced President Donald Trump’s nomination to lead the Food and Drug Administration to the full Senate. The committee sent the nomination of Stephen Hahn as FDA commissioner to the full Senate for final confirmation, which the dairy industry says represents another step towards greater transparency in the use of dairy terms in the marketplace. The National Milk Producers Federation is eager to see Hahn take the FDA role, as Hahn voiced his support in his confirmation hearing last month for "clear, transparent, and understandable labeling for the American people," when asked about dairy imitating products using dairy terms. Jim Mulhern, President and CEO of NMPF, says, "It is long past time for the FDA to begin enforcing its own standards." Current FDA standards make "clear that dairy terms are reserved for real dairy products, not plant-based imitators,” according to Mulhern. The organization, which has been speaking out on plant-based imitators for four decades, noted encouragement by recent FDA attention to the issue. ************************************************************************************ USCA Urges Review of Marfrig Global Foods' Acquisition of National Beef The United States Cattlemen's Association Tuesday submitted a request seeking an investigation of Marfrig Global Foods' “near-acquisition” of the U.S.-based National Beef Packing Company. The organization sent the request to U.S. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin (Muh-noo’-chin). The Brazilian-owned Marfrig Global Foods announced last week that it raised its stake in the U.S.-based National Beef Packing Company from 51 percent to 81.7 percent. In 2018, Marfrig acquired a majority stake in National Beef Packing Company, but USCA says this recent announcement means that Brazilian interests will almost wholly own the U.S.-based company. The association is "firmly opposed to the increasing consolidation of the meat-packing sector and foreign ownership of U.S. agricultural interests." USCA wants the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States to investigate the matter, and demands a full review of Marfrig Global Foods’ acquisition of U.S. companies, and calls for those outcomes to be explicitly written out and publicly published. ************************************************************************************ USDA to Conduct the 2019 Census of Horticultural Specialties The Department of Agriculture’s National Agricultural Statistics Service will conduct the 2019 Census of Horticultural Specialties this winter. USDA says the report will provide a comprehensive picture of the U.S. horticulture industry. Survey codes will be mailed this month to more than 40,000 horticulture producers to respond online. Collected just once every five years, the Census of Horticultural Specialties is the only source of detailed production and sales data for U.S. floriculture, nursery, and specialty crop industries, including greenhouse food crops. NASS Administrator Hubert Hamer (hay-mer) says, “Responding to this census is the best way for growers to help associations, businesses, and policymakers advocate for their industry.” The 2019 Census of Horticultural Specialties results will expand the 2017 Census of Agriculture data with information on horticultural crop production, value of products, square footage used for growing crops, production expenses, and more. The deadline for response is February 5, 2020. Results will be available December 2020. For more information about the 2019 Census of Horticultural Specialties, visit www.nass.usda.gov.

| Rural Advocate News | Wednesday December 4, 2019 |


Washington Insider: More Spending Fights While there are more and more trade policy issues emerging almost every day and the president appears to be actively downplaying expectations for a deal with China in the near future, concerns about next year’s spending bills are re-emerging and attracting more attention. To no one’s surprise, progress on funding the government for the year just beginning seems to be once again bogged down on the issue of funding for the border wall. For example, Bloomberg is reporting this week that lawmakers and the president may need a deal on border wall funding before any of the 12 fiscal 2020 spending bills can become law. This is widely seen as a “tall task” as the Dec. 20 deadline to fund the government approaches. President Donald Trump’s request for $8.6 billion in border wall funding remains the key sticking point in negotiations, lawmakers told Bloomberg — although appropriators have made progress recently, as the House and Senate Appropriations chairs agreed to top-line spending figures for the 12 bills. And appropriators have started work on bicameral versions of the bills, but it is seen as unlikely that the President will sign anything into law before there’s an agreement on the border wall, Senate Appropriations Military Construction-VA Subcommittee Chairman John Boozman, R-Ark., said Monday. “The wall funding has to be resolved before I think anything much gets moved,” Boozman said. A pairing of the two largest spending measures, covering Defense and Labor-HHS-Education appropriations, is possible “but I think they get held hostage” until border wall funding is settled, Boozman said. The President requested $5 billion for border fencing in the Homeland Security spending bill and $3.6 billion in the Military Construction-VA bill. Lawmakers will also need to come to an agreement on limitations to the president’s ability to reprogram additional funds. Because of the difficulty of those debates, those bills will likely be among the last completed, Boozman said. It’s one of the relatively few hot-button issues that subcommittee leaders won’t negotiate, instead kicking it up to either full committee leaders or members of congressional leadership to sort out with the administration, he added. He expressed hopes those discussions start this week. Senate Appropriations Chair Richard Shelby, R-Ala., also raised the prospect of a Defense and Labor-HHS-Education package, but said there needs to be “some understanding” on the border wall. “I think we’d have to have some kind of agreement or Trump wouldn’t sign it,” Shelby said. Senate Appropriations Homeland Security Subcommittee Ranking Member Jon Tester, D-Mont., said the border wall talks probably should be completed before lawmakers send a spending package to the president’s desk, but he’s not sure if it’s an absolute necessity. Sen. Brian Schatz, D-Hawaii, ranking member of the Military Construction-VA Subcommittee, said that depends on the president. Senate Appropriations Vice Chairman Patrick Leahy, D-Vermont, said he’d like to finish all the bills by December 20 but criticized the White House for being inconsistent about what they want, a complaint he’s repeated for months as spending talks have dragged on at a slow pace. White House Legislative Affairs Director Eric Ueland was in the Capitol Monday to meet with lawmakers on topics that included appropriations, he said. While Democrats oppose any funding for the border wall, they are pursuing their top priorities in the appropriations bills. Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., said his caucus’s top priorities include “significant resources to combat the opioid and gun violence epidemics, significant investment in infrastructure, significant investment in child care,” Violence Against Women Act funding, and “funding to secure next year’s presidential elections.” Senate Democrats also “strongly oppose the president stealing money from our military families to pay for this border wall,” Schumer said on the Senate floor yesterday. While there are other pressures, many of these seem to be resolved within committees. For example, the Senate Appropriations Committee approved a Commerce, Justice, Science bill that included $70.8 billion in discretionary spending, the same amount as proposed by the Senate Democrats for those programs. However, the House Democrats proposed $73.9 billion. In response, Sen. Jeanne Shaheen, D-N.H., said that while program funds “are low and while the bicameral allocations agreement provides less for them than many Democrats wanted, “she’s happy we have an agreement. Obviously I would like to have more money in it. I think it gives us a place to continue to go forward. We are in discussions now over what is going to have to come off, given the change in the number.” So, we will see. There have been whispers for some time about negative impacts of the ongoing and threatened trade fights on economic activity, and at least some of these appear to be resurfacing once again this week—and they are increasing pressure on the Fed to “do something” to bolster growth,” and to make sure that government operations can continue without interruption. These increasingly appear to be broadening, high stakes fights that producers should watch closely as they emerge, Washington Insider believes.

| Rural Advocate News | Wednesday December 4, 2019 |


House Extends Schedule By A Week House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer, D-Md., announced Monday that the House will be in session the week of December 16. Previously the chamber was to be in session only portions of the first two weeks of December. First votes of the week are expected to occur early in the day on Tuesday, December 17, with last votes of the week expected on Friday, December 20, Hoyer said in a message to House members. "Exact timing of last votes for the week will be announced at a later date.” The move is not a surprise given that there is now a December 20 deadline for lawmakers to take action to keep the government funded and this also opens the door for action on the U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA) to see action in the House. Hoyer mentioned several weeks ago the chamber could be in session longer than the original departure date of Dec. 12.

| Rural Advocate News | Wednesday December 4, 2019 |


Grassley: USMCA Deal Needed This Week For Year-End Ratification If a deal on the U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA) is not reached by the end of this week, “I do not see how the USMCA can be ratified in the year we are in,” Sen. Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, said on AgriTalk radio and on the Senate floor. “By all accounts, the deal is close,” Grassley said. “I urge House Democrats to act quickly and be reasonable so that we can finally deliver certainty on this issue to the American people.” Grassley said he has recently been in touch with both House lawmakers and members of the Trump administration. He said once the agreement is in place between House Democrats and the administration, the process of getting the legislative language to Congress and consideration of the pact in both the House and Senate could happen in a relatively short timeframe.

| Rural Advocate News | Wednesday December 4, 2019 |


Wednesday Watch List Markets A private estimate of U.S. job growth is due out at 7:15 a.m. CST Wednesday, a warmup for Friday's unemployment report. The U.S. Department of Energy releases weekly energy inventories at 9:30 a.m., including ethanol. Weather remains of interest with unharvested corn still in fields and trade comments provide daily entertainment with no agreement yet. Weather Dry conditions will again be in place over all primary crop areas Wednesday. Temperatures will be seasonal north and seasonal to above normal south. This combination favors transportation and livestock and late harvest.

| Rural Advocate News | Tuesday December 3, 2019 |


Hints of El Nino in Early Winter Just a couple weeks ago, it was noted how the Pacific Ocean was officially absent of either El Nino (warm) or La Nina (cool) sea surface temperature and barometric pressure conditions. And, the prospects for the winter 2019-20 season would more likely be dependent on more intermediate-term features. That scenario may indeed play out. However, recent measurements of both temperature and barometric pressure in the Pacific basin are at least worth noting for strong resemblances to a weak El Nino event. Sea surface temperatures at the equator in the Pacific Ocean show several pools of water with between 1 degree Celsius and 2 degrees Celsius above normal, going across the ocean from the coast of Ecuador and Peru in South America to the East Indies. When the water temperature is a sustained 0.8 degree C above normal, an El Nino event is indicated. At the same time, the atmospheric fingerprint of either El Nino or La Nina, the Southern Oscillation Index (SOI), is around a minus 10.0 reading on the 30-day moving average, and has a 90-day moving average of around minus 9.0. A value of the SOI at minus 8.0 is the threshold for El Nino on this measurement -- and research done on the influence of El Nino on weather patterns in the U.S. Midwest by Iowa State University shows that the 90-day SOI reading of minus 8.0 or lower indicates that a given El Nino event is robust enough to affect the U.S. Midwest weather pattern. This set of conditions will be interesting to keep track of through the winter season. When El Nino is in effect during the winter, the weather pattern over the northern U.S., Western Canada, and Alaska, tends to be warm and dry. In contrast, the southern tier of the U.S. has a cooler and wetter pattern. If the northern warmer and drier trend indeed develops, even for at least part of the season, there may be an opportunity for the final leg of the much-delayed 2019 corn harvest to get done. It would also, perhaps, dial back the prospect of winter moisture loading up to the point of enhancing spring flood threat quite as much as feared during the late-fall time frame. At the same time, higher chances for precipitation in the southern U.S. could improve drought conditions in the Southwest, along with offering better moisture for crop areas of the southwestern Plains ahead of spring 2020. So far, the winter forecast setup of a warm first segment of the season is verifying. There, of course, are still 11 weeks to go through the rest of the season.

| Rural Advocate News | Tuesday December 3, 2019 |


USMCA Deal Could Emerge This Week A final agreement on the U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement is within days, according to some in Washington. A Mexican trade official last week told reporters Mexico was expected to approve changes to the agreement this week, which could then set up a vote in Congress. The official said, “maybe days, so maybe sometime next week,” regarding timing, according to Politico. The comments followed a meeting with Canada’s Prime Minister, Justin Trudeau (true-doh), and Deputy Prime Minister Chrystia Freeland. A vote doesn’t mean the deal can be completed still in 2019, but would mark significant progress to finalizing the trade pact within the next few months. USMCA is one of many legislative items on the agenda this month, as Congress must also yet again work towards funding the federal government. Lawmakers may also consider two farm labor bills, and provisions regarding biodiesel tax credits, as part of a broader energy bill. Meanwhile, the House of Representatives continues its impeachment investigation this week in the House Judiciary Committee. ************************************************************************************* Ross: Ball in China’s Court on Trade Trade negotiations with China continue as the U.S. and China seek to wrap up a phase one agreement, promised two weeks ago. U.S. Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross told Fox Business News, "the ball is in China's court," in an interview Monday. He says the talks are making progress, but described the negotiations as "one step forward, one step backward." If nothing happens before December 15, President Donald Trump plans to move forward with a round of tariffs on China, as Ross called the date a "logical deadline." China wants the U.S. to roll back tariffs in making the agreement. Meanwhile, Ross again confirmed China promised $40-$50 billion of purchases of U.S. ag products as part of the agreement. China was a near $20 billion market for U.S. agriculture before the trade war began. However, that market has dropped roughly 50 percent since the trade war began, as retaliatory tariffs by China focused on U.S. agricultural products. ************************************************************************************* Trump Imposing Tariffs on Brazil, Argentina President Donald Trump Monday announced new tariffs on Brazil and Argentina, citing harm to U.S. farmers. Trump says the tariffs on steel from Brazil and Argentina are in response to the “devaluation of their currencies.” Speaking to reporters on the White House lawn before departing for the NATO gathering in London, President Trump stated, “Our steel companies will be very happy, and our farmers will be very happy.” Trump says the currency devaluation is "very unfair" to U.S. farmers and manufacturers. Brazil and Argentina are serving as alternative markets of soybeans for China, allowing China to avoid tariffs on U.S. agricultural products stemming from the tit-for-tat trade war between China and the United States. The United States is the top soybean-producing country in the world, followed by Brazil, Argentina and China. President Trump also called on the Federal Reserve to "likewise act " against all countries that are takin advantage of a strong U.S. dollar. ************************************************************************************* BP, Bunge, Merge Brazil Sugar and Ethanol Operations British oil company BP and U.S. commodities group Bunge Monday announced the completion of a deal to combine sugar and ethanol operations in Brazil. The partners call BP Bunge Bioenergia a leading company in the sugar, ethanol and low carbon bioelectricity market in Brazil. The deal creates the world's second-largest cane processor, according to Reuters. The 50-50 joint venture will manage 11 plants in five Brazilian states, and include capacity to crush 32 million metric tons of sugar cane annually. First announced in July, the Monday announcement indicates the partnership obtained all needed regulatory approvals. The sugar processing season in Brazil is coming to an end, with many mills stopping processing efforts. The new joint venture between BP and Bunge will target joint operations to begin during the next sugarcane season, which starts in April. The joint venture also focuses on ethanol, as demand in brazil is growing ahead of a new federal program next year to boost the use of biofuels in Brazil. ************************************************************************************* Canada Ag, Propane, Seeks Priority in Resuming Normal Rail Operations Amid the fallout of an eight-day CN Rail strike, Canada is facing similar propane woes as seen in the Midwest United States. Agriculture groups, along with the Canadian Propane Association, are asking for their products to take priority above other shipments as the railway works to get trains moving. However, the rail operator has stated no product would take priority. The Canadian Propane Association in a recent statement said, “the propane industry is now facing significant logistical challenges of getting the supply chain back to normal.” The strike occurred as harvest season ended and farmers, along with grain companies, seek to ship products. The Canadian Federation of Agriculture last week said the delays in rail service have resulted in significant costs for farmers. The group says the strike came at “the worst possible time” for farmers. However, the organization says, “we can express relief that a resolution was found, and these delays and losses are not continuing to mount.” ************************************************************************************ USDA Announces Fellowships to Develop the Next Generation of Agriculture The Department of Agriculture Monday announced fellowship opportunities connecting agency resources with faculty and staff at land grant and other universities. The USDA Office of Partnerships and Public Engagement made the announcement, which seeks to connect participants to USDA and other federal resources while focusing on student development. The fellowship is available for faculty and staff at Hispanic Serving Institutions, 1994 Tribal Colleges and Universities, and 1890 Land-Grant Universities. Participants in the program will receive access to long-term collaboration opportunities, and then share what they learned with students and colleagues at their home institutions. Each program offers opportunities for Education Fellows and Science Fellows. Education Fellows participate in a week-long program in Washington, D.C. scheduled to start June 15 and end on June 19, 2020. Science Fellows participate in a two-week program, consisting of one week in Washington, D.C. and a second week at a USDA research location, ending on June 26, 2020.

| Rural Advocate News | Tuesday December 3, 2019 |


Tuesday Watch List Markets There are no official reports on Tuesday's docket. With snow in the northern Corn Belt and dry weather expected across the central U.S. this week, attention will be given to the remaining row crop harvest. Any trade news concerning China will also be noticed, but prices may not show much response until an actual agreement is at hand. Weather Dry conditions will cover all primary crop areas Tuesday. Temperatures will be near to below normal north, central and southeast, and above normal southwest. This combination is favorable for livestock and transportation, along with offering some prospects for late harvest progress.

| Rural Advocate News | Monday December 2, 2019 |


EU Parliament Approves Increased U.S. Beef Access It was a happy Thanksgiving for U.S. beef producers. The European Parliament voted last Thursday to approve a plan that grants the U.S. a country-specific share of the European Union’s duty-free, high-quality beef quota. The agreement was originally signed back in August. The U.S. Meat Export Federation was pleased to hear of the approval. “Approval by the European Parliament keeps this agreement on track to be implemented early next year,” says USMEF President and CEO Dan Halstrom. “That’s outstanding news for the U.S. beef industry and our customers in Europe. Lack of capacity in the duty-free quota has been a source of frustration on both sides of the Atlantic.” He says a U.S.-specific share of the quota will help to make sure that U.S. beef can enter the European Market 52 weeks a year, without any delays or interruptions. The EU is one of the highest-value destinations in the world for American beef. Consistent access will not only benefit U.S. beef producers and exporters but also European importers and their clients. USMEF says in a release that it “thanks the U.S. Trade Representative and the USDA for negotiating the agreement and securing its approval.” ********************************************************************************************* USMCA, U.S.-China Deal Pushing Forward Both the U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement and a phase one agreement of a deal between the U.S. and China appear to be slowly edging forward. The Hagstrom Report quotes House Speaker Nancy Pelosi as saying, “We are within range of a substantially improved agreement for America’s workers. Now, we need to see our progress in writing from the trade representative for a final review.” The Trump Administration says that U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer will provide a written agreement to Congress this week. Trump is continuing to push House Democrats to bring the agreement up for a vote. “House Democrats have insisted that hard-working Americans need more from the USMCA than just the same broken NAFTA with better language but no real enforcement,” Pelosi says. “It still left American workers exposed to losing their jobs to Mexico.” Meanwhile, President Trump says the phase one deal with China is “close.” At the same time, he also says the U.S. is monitoring the situation in Hong Kong. “We’re in the final throes of a very important deal,” Trump says. “It’s going very well, but at the same time we want to see things go well in Hong Kong.” Trump’s comments last week came just hours after a phone call between the Chinese Vice-Premier, USTR Robert Lighthizer, and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin (Muh-NOO-chin). ********************************************************************************************* Farmers for Free Trade Launches New USMCA Ad Campaign Farmers for Free Trade, a bipartisan coalition supported by America’s top ag and business groups, announced a new ad campaign promoting quick passage of the U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement. The ad campaign launched with a $300,000 advertising blitz in more than 20 Congressional Districts. The ads focus specifically on why the USMCA is a badly needed victory for American agriculture. The 30-second radio spots feature American farmers who personally advocate for passing the agreement. The campaign also includes digital ads as well. The initial ad campaign will focus specifically on the home districts of many Democratic members of the House of Representatives. Those Democrats represent districts that have a high concentration of farmers and ranchers that would benefit from the USMCA. Farmers for Free Trade says those legislators are a very important part of making the case for the agreement and getting it to the finish line. Former Arkansas Senator Blanche Lincoln is a spokesperson for Farmers for Free Trade. She says, “With so many new Democratic members of Congress from districts with agricultural roots, they’ll have to be the ones to make the case that the agreement is vital for their farmers.” Farmers for Free Trade Co-Executive Director Angela Hoffmann says farmers are growing more and more frustrated by the delay in approving USMCA. ********************************************************************************************** Farm Income Rising in Part Because of Aid In spite of a challenging 2019, farm earnings are expected to rise this year by 10 percent. However, nearly one-third of producers’ net farm income is a result of crop insurance and direct government payments, which does include President Trump’s trade aid. An Agri-Pulse report says net farm income this year is projected to jump by $8.5 billion compared to last year, coming in at $92.5 billion. The USDA’s Economic Research Service says approximately 31 percent of that income is due to crop insurance benefits and government payments. Net cash farm income, which is another way to measure a farm’s profitability, is projected to reach $119 billion in 2019. That’s a jump of 15 percent compared to 2018. Commercial farms at which corn is the primary crop are projected to have net cash farm income around $206,000 this year, a 20 percent increase from 2018. Poultry is the only agricultural sector that’s projected to have a net decrease in cash income during 2019. The average income is projected at around $97,200, which is down from just over $105,000 last year. ********************************************************************************************** USDA Improves Crop Insurance for Sugar Beet Producers The U.S. Department of Agriculture announced it’s made changes to crop insurance for sugar beets in 2020. The Risk Management Agency made changes that will start in 2020 for some policies and 2021 for others. The agency says the changes will better protect sugar beet producers who may get a bumper crop in future years, as well as provide other flexibilities. “We continually listen to producers and stakeholders in developing our crop insurance policies,” says RMA Administrator Martin Barbre. “We also make adjustments to the policies when necessary to better support sugar beet producers and ensure the early harvest adjustment more accurately matches their current year production.” Key changes include revising the maximum early harvest adjustment to better reflect a unit’s production capabilities, especially in the case of a bumper crop. They’re also adding procedures to allow third-party testing of sugar beets for raw sugar content. Changes are further outlined in a final rule, now available at regulations.gov. Interested parties can comment on the final rule for 60 days. ********************************************************************************************** Hemp Innovation Challenge Coming to World Ag Expo in 2020 Something new is coming to the World Ag Expo. The Hemp Innovation Challenge is designed to kickstart the future of the hemp industry by supporting entrepreneurs, researchers, and students, who are launching some of the world’s biggest hemp industry innovations. Submissions are invited from hemp innovators in universities, companies, research institutes, barns, and government agencies. Finalists will be invited to the World Ag Expo in Tulare, California, in February of 2020 to take part in the Fast Pitch competition. Prizes will be awarded for ideas that include technology, software, and services driving growth and innovation in food, fuel, medicine, health, fiber, and sustainable development. The winners will receive strategic feedback about their innovation, business model, and go-to-market strategy. Event level highlights will include networking with executives, investors, and mentorship support for launching their innovations. Entering its 53rd year of existence, the World Ag Expo is the largest annual outdoor ag trade show in the world. The show had 102,800 people from 48 states and 65 countries enter the event in 2019 alone.

| Rural Advocate News | Monday December 2, 2019 |


Washington Insider: Hong Kong and the Trade Fight with China Trade observers are watching carefully following last week’s decision by President Donald Trump to sign legislation expressing support for Hong Kong protesters. In response, China threatened retaliation just as the two nations seemed close to signing a “phase one” agreement, Bloomberg reported. China summoned U.S. Ambassador Terry Branstad for a formal meeting in which Vice Foreign Minister Le Yucheng told the U.S. to “stop meddling in Hong Kong affairs.” He warned that such actions would strain ties and risk affecting “cooperation in important areas.” Earlier, the foreign ministry reiterated threats of retaliation with no specifics, Bloomberg said. Hu Xijin, the editor-in-chief of state-run Global Times, said Thursday in a tweet that China was considering putting the U.S. drafters of the law on a no-entry list. The new law requires annual reviews of Hong Kong’s special trade status as well as sanctions against any officials deemed responsible for human rights abuses or undermining the city’s autonomy. A second Hong Kong measure also bans the export of crowd-control items such as tear gas and rubber bullets to the city’s police. While signing the bills, President Trump signaled that he “didn’t want the broader relationship with China to veer off track.” He expressed concerns with unspecified portions of the new law, saying they risked interfering with his constitutional authority to carry out American foreign policy. “I signed these bills out of respect for President Xi, China, and the people of Hong Kong,” Trump said. “They are being enacted in the hope that leaders and representatives of China and Hong Kong will be able to amicably settle their differences leading to long term peace and prosperity for all.” Investors are watching closely for signs that the new measures might derail the proposed deal being counted on to de-escalate a trade war that’s dragged on for 20 months. President Trump would like the agreement finished in order to ease economic uncertainty for his campaign in 2020. China also is looking to avoid further damage to an economy growing at the slowest pace in decades. China is irked that the bill will bolster Hong Kong protesters who have become increasingly violent in their bid to secure demands including an independent inquiry into police abuses and meaningful elections, but it probably won’t affect trade talks much, said David Zweig, an emeritus professor at the Hong Kong University of Science and Technology and director of Transnational China Consulting Ltd. Hong Kong’s protesters cheered the bill’s passage and lauded President Trump for signing it into law. President Trump actually had little choice but to sign the bill, since the House cleared it 417-1 on Nov. 20 after the Senate passed it without opposition – majorities that would allow an override of any veto by the president, Bloomberg said. While many members of Congress in both parties had voiced strong support for the protesters who are demanding greater autonomy for the city, President Trump stayed largely silent, even as the demonstrations have been met by rising police violence. Last week, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, a Kentucky Republican, called on the president to speak out, saying that “the world should hear from him directly that the United States stands with” the protesters. China’s foreign ministry had repeatedly urged Trump to prevent the legislation from becoming law, warning the Americans not to underestimate China’s determination to defend its “sovereignty, security and development interests.” Chinese foreign ministry spokesman Geng Shuang dodged questions on whether trade talks would be affected as he briefed reporters in Beijing late last week. “We strongly urge the U.S. to refrain from implementing this law or it will undermine our bilateral relations and cooperation in important areas,” he said in response to a question on how the bill’s signing would impact the negotiations. Before a speech at the recent Bloomberg New Economy Forum in Beijing, China’s Vice Premier Liu He – the country’s chief trade negotiator – said that he was “cautiously optimistic” about reaching the phase one accord. Relations with China appear to be particularly fragile just now, although both sides are quick to say they are still working toward the “beginning” of a major deal – in spite of continued questions of what, exactly, might be included. Certainly, these continuing talks are enormously important and should be watched closely by producers as they proceed, Washington Insider believes.

| Rural Advocate News | Monday December 2, 2019 |


EU Approves US Beef Import Increase The European Parliament voted by 457-140, with 71 abstentions, in favor of a plan to permit U.S. farmers a larger share of an existing 45,000-ton quota from 2020. It came with a resolution that urges the removal of U.S. tariffs on EU steel and aluminum, and the withdrawal of a threat to raise tariffs on EU cars. "The message of this agreement is clear: we would like to de-escalate trade tensions with the U.S., but we want to see the same efforts of de-escalation on the other side of the Atlantic," said Bernd Lange, head of parliament's trade committee.

| Rural Advocate News | Monday December 2, 2019 |


Government Payments Key Contributor to Rise in 2019 Farm Income Forecast U.S. net farm income is now forecast at $92.5 billion for 2019, up $8.5 billion (10.2%) from the 2018 level, according to USDA’s November 2019 Farm Income Forecast. In inflation-adjusted terms, net farm income is seen up $7 billion, down 32.3% from $136.6 billion in 2013. In August, USDA forecast net farm income at $88 billion. Net cash farm income is seen at $119 billion, a rise of $15.5 billion (15%) from 2018, and up from the August forecast of $112.6 billion. Feeding the increase is a rise in cash receipts for all commodities of $2.2 billion, reaching $374.2 billion for 2019. With total animal/animal product receipts basically unchanged, there is a $1.9 billion rise forecast for total crop receipts compared with 2018. Key in the improved farm income outlook? Direct government farm payments are forecast to increase $8.8 billion (64%) to $22.4 billion in 2019, USDA said, “with the increase due to higher anticipated payments from the Market Facilitation Program” (MFP 2). USDA in August said those direct government payments were to be $19.5 billion, an increase of $5.8 billion from 2018. The 2019 forecast includes payments from the program first implemented in 2018 but received by producers in calendar year 2019, plus the expected payments from the first and second tranches of the program announced in 2019. “We assume producers will receive 75% of the announced 2019 payment total of $14.5 billion,” USDA stated.”

| Rural Advocate News | Monday December 2, 2019 |


Monday Watch List Markets Updated weather forecasts are probably the first things traders will check the first Monday of December, along with any trade news that might have come out over the weekend. USDA's weekly export inspections are due out at 10:00 a.m. CST. In the afternoon, the monthly Fats and Oils report is at 2 p.m., CFTC's Commitments of Traders report is at 2:30 p.m. and a USDA update on harvest progress follows at 3 p.m. CST. Weather Most primary crop areas will be dry Monday. Moderate to heavy snow cover in the Dakotas, Wisconsin, and Michigan -- where corn harvest is the most delayed -- will impede additional harvest progress. Dry conditions in the 10-day forecast offer some improvement for late harvest.

| Rural Advocate News | Friday November 29, 2019 |


No Final RFS Rule Friday Today (Friday) is when historically the Environmental Protection Agency would release it’s final Renewable Fuel Standard proposal. However, thanks to other changes pending in the rule, the EPA said earlier this week that the agency would review comments, and will seek to finish the rule this winter. The comment period for the proposed changes regarding small refinery exemptions closes today (Friday), which effectively puts the final rule on hold until the proposal is finalized. Corn and ethanol groups were busy earlier this week submitting comments to the EPA. Many say the proposal breaks a promise by President Donald Trump to make up for all lost demand created by the exemptions. The industry says more than four billion gallons of demand for biofuels has been lost due to retroactive small refinery exemptions for compliance years 2015 through 2018. National Corn Growers Association President Kevin Ross of Iowa states, “The proposed rule fails to provide the assurance needed that EPA’s practices for granting waivers will change going forward.” ************************************************************************************* Hoeven, Peterson, Meet with Sugar Growers Regarding Assistance Lawmakers recently met with sugar producers to discuss needed relief efforts after a challenging growing season. North Dakota Senator John Hoeven, a Republican from North Dakota and chairman of the Senate Agriculture Appropriations Committee, along with House Agriculture Committee Chair Collin Peterson, a Minnesota Democrat, met with sugar producers earlier this week. They are working with Department of Agriculture undersecretary Bill Northey to secure disaster assistance funding for sugarbeet growers, while urging USDA to avoid any premature actions, including increasing sugar imports. Sugarbeet growers, who were impacted by severe weather, are facing unique circumstances as they work to recover, including the inability to complete harvest and budgeting constraints faced by the cooperative. The current disaster programs do not account for these constraints, which is why Hoeven and Peterson are working with USDA to secure disaster assistance. Hoeven says producers “have faced real challenges this harvest,” while Peterson says, “we’ll continue having conversations to see what can be done to address the concerns.” ************************************************************************************* Committee to Vote on FDA Nominee Next Week The Senate Health Committee will vote on Stephen Hahn’s nomination to serve as Commissioner of the Food and Drug Administration next week. Tuesday, the committee will consider the nomination, among three others. If approved, the nominations would head for the full Senate for a final confirmation vote. During a hearing by the committee examining the nomination, Hahn briefly voiced his support for “clear, transparent, and understandable labeling” for dairy and dairy imitation products. The comments were welcomed by the National Milk Producers Federation, as NMPF CEO Jim Mulhern stated, “It’s heartening to hear” Hahn would “immediately examine this crucial unfinished business.” NMPF and others are seeking a labeling system that prohibits plant-based dairy imitators from using dairy marketing terms. Rules already do so, but FDA has not enforced them. Committee Chairman Lamar Alexander, a Republican from Tennessee, called Hahn an “impressive choice” to lead the FDA. Ranking member Patty Murray, a Democrat from Washington, demanded Hahn commit to putting science, data and families first. ************************************************************************************* Deere Reports 2019 Sales Increase Deere & Company reports worldwide net sales and revenues increased five percent in both the fourth quarter and full year of 2019 to $9.8 billion and $39.2 billion. Deere reported fourth-quarter net income of $722 million, compared with net income of $785 million, in 2018. Agriculture and Turf sales increased for the quarter and full year of 2019 due to price realization and higher shipment volumes, partially offset by the unfavorable effects of currency translation. However, operating profit decreased for the quarter and year. Deere CEO John May says the performance “reflected continued uncertainties in the agricultural sector,” adding “trade tensions coupled with a year of difficult growing and harvesting conditions have caused many farmers to become cautious about making major investments in new equipment.” Deere's worldwide sales of agriculture and turf equipment are forecast to decline between five and ten percent for fiscal-year 2020. Industry sales of agricultural equipment in the U.S. and Canada are forecast to be down about five percent, driven by lower demand for large equipment. ************************************************************************************* Online Cheese Sales Set to Surpass Half a Billion Dollars in 2020 Online cheese sales are experiencing major growth. By the end of 2019, data shows that e-commerce sales will surge past $440 million. The 54 percent annual growth in online sales over the past four years signals that shoppers are embracing the convenience and variety available when ordering cheese online. Suzanne Fanning, Senior Vice President at Dairy Farmers of Wisconsin, says, "Consumer research shows that cheese aligns with on-trend food preferences because it is packed with protein and good fat." With the holidays being the peak shopping season for cheese, it is poised to be one of the hottest gifts this holiday season. The organization is encouraging consumers to buy Wisconsin cheese. A list of holiday gift baskets is available on the organization’s website. The collection includes twelve unique gift baskets that offer a variety of cheeses from top specialty retailers. Get free shipping nationwide on the entire collection from Black Friday to Cyber Monday at WisconsinCheese.com/gift-basket. ************************************************************************************ USDA ERS: Potatoes Top U.S. Vegetable Consumption Potatoes rank number one among vegetables in terms of consumption, according to Department of Agriculture data. USDA’s Economic Research Service says that in 2017, 49.2 pounds of fresh and processed potatoes per person were available for Americans to eat after adjusting for losses. The loss-adjusted food availability data series takes per capita supplies of food available for human consumption and more closely approximates actual consumption by adjusting for some of the spoilage, plate waste, and other losses in restaurants and grocery stores, as well as at home. Loss-adjusted availability of fresh potatoes was 22.9 pounds per person in 2017, followed by frozen potatoes at 20.5 pounds per person, while canned and dehydrated potatoes, along with potato chips and shoestrings, totaled 5.9 pounds per person in 2017. Tomatoes came in second. While loss-adjusted canned tomato availability, at 16.1 pounds, leads fresh tomatoes, total tomato loss-adjusted availability, fresh and canned, came in second, at 28.7 pounds per person. Onions, lettuce, carrots and sweet corn finish the list of America’s top seven vegetable choices.

| Rural Advocate News | Friday November 29, 2019 |


Washington Insider: Potential Digital Sales Tax Fight You could be excused if you thought that the U.S., China trade fight was the main trade policy uncertainty these days, especially after Bloomberg reported this week that President Donald Trump told the press that “he’s holding up” the phase one deal. “We can’t make a deal that’s like, even,” Trump said, adding that he said as much to China’s President Xi Jinping. “We have to make a deal where we do much better, because we have to catch up,” he said. Still, the report said that the president thinks a China deal is in the “final throes.” However uncertain the China deal may be, it is not the only trade concern now bubbling up. The New York Times said on Wednesday that the “90-day pause in the taxation of technology companies and other corners of the digital economy had ended.” The report raised questions of whether the president would revive threats against French wine and other products. The Times focused on the potential for an escalating battle between the U.S. and France over taxing digital services. It noted that President Trump “gave no indication this week” whether he planned to return to his threats to impose new tariffs on imported wine and other French products as a result. French leaders voted earlier this year to impose a new tax on economic activity that takes place online and “crafted it in such a way that it would largely hit large American tech companies like Amazon and Facebook.” In response, the administration opened an investigation into whether “the tax posed a threat to national security and should be met with American tariffs on French products.” The President made that threat in July. Soon after, the countries reached a 90-day agreement that paused the American retaliation, while leaders from wealthy countries including France and the United States pursued negotiations toward an international agreement on digital taxation. The French tax was an effort to capture revenue from activities of companies that sell or advertise online to its citizens — an effort being considered by a growing number of countries outside America, including Britain, Italy and Canada, the Times said. The Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development is spearheading negotiations between the countries as it tries to avoid “an arms race of sorts” over digital sales revenue that crosses borders. Participants have set an ambitious goal to reach an agreement in principle sometime next year and key negotiators will meet next month in Paris to continue the process. A final global agreement has the potential to expand to cover large automakers and other multinational companies — not just tech firms — the Times said. Some tax experts predict that the administration will extend the truce period, perhaps unofficially, until at least January when the OECD is expected to update the status of the negotiations. Others say the administration is likely to hold off as long as negotiations remain fruitful. “Absent some sort of intervention from the president, it seems very unlikely that the U.S. will act on its investigation before seeing whether there is a satisfactory agreement at the OECD this coming January, and if such an agreement is reached, whether the French keep their promise and repeal their digital services tax,” said Itai Grinberg, an international tax policy professor at Georgetown University Law Center. The President has made it known that he is unhappy with the French tax even though he has separate concerns about the tech companies that are threatened by it. “I’m not a fan of those companies, but if anybody is going to tax those companies, it should be the USA,” the President said. “It shouldn’t be France and the European Union, who have really taken advantage of the United States.” David Kautter, the Treasury Department’s assistant secretary for tax policy, said last week that any countermeasures against France would be determined by the U.S. Trade Representative. He said that discussions between the United States and France had been “substantive” and “meaningful,” but it was not clear when the two countries would resolve their differences over the matter. “The administration adamantly opposes unilateral digital services taxes that are focused primarily on U.S. companies,” Kautter said. “We think the best way to resolve this issue is through multilateral discussions in the OECD. We are actively engaged in those discussions.” Still, Kautter cautioned that the target date for reaching a broader agreement was not until the end of next year and that there were many complicated matters to address in that time. So, we will see. This potential fight appears likely to be one more hot button trade issue to add to the several that concern other products in other areas, and which have the potential to become increasingly important, and which producers should watch closely as they evolve, Washington Insider believes.

| Rural Advocate News | Friday November 29, 2019 |


Comment Period on EPA Supplemental RFS Plan Ends Today As 2019 SREs Are On File The Environment Protection Agency (EPA) signaled last week via the unified agenda released November 20 that they would not be finalizing the 2020 biofuel and 2021 biodiesel levels under the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) by the November 30 deadline. Rather, the agency said they intended to file a final rule in December. An EPA spokesman is now telling media outlets that the agency would finalize the plan “this winter.” The Winter Solstice arrives December 21, so EPA’s guidance in the regulatory agenda of issuing a final rule in December would certainly match what the EPA is telling media outlets. Meanwhile, EPA has updated their data on small refinery exemptions (SREs). For the 2018 compliance year, EPA data shows 42 were submitted, 31 were approved and six were rejected. EPA data had previously shown three to have been withdrawn or declared ineligible. In late August, EPA data showed two were still labeled as pending. As of November 21, EPA now shows 42 were requested, 31 were approved, six were denied, and now it has separated the declared ineligible or withdrawn categories. Those figures now show that two have been declared ineligible and three have been withdrawn and no petitions are shown as pending for the 2018 compliance year. For the 2019 compliance year, EPA now lists 10 petitions for SREs having been received as of November 21, and all 10 are still shown as pending.

| Rural Advocate News | Friday November 29, 2019 |


Fed Says US Agriculture Conditions Remain Strained Conditions facing U.S. agriculture were “little changed overall” compared with late October, according to the Fed’s Beige Book, but conditions remain “strained by weather and low crop prices.” The report, issued two weeks prior to the next rate-setting meeting for the Federal Reserve, also offers comments from individual Fed Districts. The Chicago Fed indicated that “early frost and snow further delayed this year’s harvest and diminished yields.” Plus, there were concerns about crop quality. “Contacts noted that demand for pork from China had grown despite U.S. tariffs because African swine fever had decimated China's hog herd,” the Chicago Fed noted. “More generally, contacts reported a pickup in overall agricultural exports, with some noting that news on trade negotiations sounded promising for future exports. Farm incomes generally are expected to be down from last year, although government payments from the Market Facilitation Program will provide some support.” The St. Louis Fed reported conditions were basically unchanged from the October report. “Production levels for corn, rice, and soybeans are expected to be significantly lower than in 2018, while that for cotton is expected to increase modestly,” the bank said. “District contacts continued to express concerns over depressed agriculture commodity prices.” The Minneapolis Fed noted difficult conditions for the ag sector. “District agricultural conditions declined from an already weak position,” the report noted. “Roughly three in five lenders responding to the Minneapolis Fed's third-quarter (October) survey of agricultural credit conditions reported that farm incomes decreased in the third quarter relative to a year earlier, with a similar proportion reporting decreased capital spending.” Similarly, the Kansas City fed noted conditions in ag remained “weak” and “agricultural credit conditions deteriorated slightly.”

| Rural Advocate News | Friday November 29, 2019 |


Friday Watch List Markets Back from the Thanksgiving holiday, USDA will release its weekly report of grain export sales at 7:30 a.m. CST. Friday's grain and livestock futures open at 8:30 a.m. CST. Most U.S. grain futures close at 12:05 p.m. CST and livestock futures close at 12:15 p.m. CST. There are no other official reports, but traders will be interested in weather and any trade news. Weather Snow, ice and rain develops through the north-central U.S. region early Friday. This will become mostly snow later Friday or during Friday night into Saturday. Strong winds, heavy snow and ice tonight and Saturday will likely affect travel, transport, field activities and livestock in this area. Blizzard conditions may develop during this time. Some ice may also occur through the northwest Midwest later Friday or during Friday night. Mostly rain or showers through the eastern Plains, the southwest and central Midwest during this time frame. Strong winds but little rainfall through the west-central Plains winter wheat areas Friday, possible a risk to winter wheat. Drier through the eastern U.S. areas Friday.

| Rural Advocate News | Wednesday November 27, 2019 |


2019 Trade Aid May Violate WTO Commitments A recent independent report suggests U.S. trade aid in 2019 for farmers may surpass limits set in World Trade Organization commitments. The report for the American Enterprise Institute by Joe Glauber, a former Department of Agriculture Chief Economist, suggests the size of payments made to producers in 2019 may encourage other WTO members to challenge the payments. Glauber writes, a long-term concern is "how trade compensation comports with U.S. obligations in the WTO and, more generally, how it will affect future U.S. efforts to seek further reforms in the WTO.” President Donald Trump and his administration have approved the payments, roughly $28 billion, to offset any harm by other countries retaliating against the Trump trade agenda. Glauber says current WTO rules require that annual U.S. domestic supports that distort trade flows not exceed a maximum of $19.1 billion. Since the WTO disciplines went into effect in 1995, United States levels of support have remained in that annual limit. ************************************************************************************* NPPC: Improved Pork Trade with China can Lower Trade Deficit Securing zero-tariff access to China for U.S. pork would be an economic boon for American agriculture, according to the National Pork Producers Council. Based on an analysis by Iowa State University Economist Dermot (Der-Muht) Hayes, NPPC says unrestricted access to the Chinese chilled and frozen market would reduce the overall trade deficit with China by nearly six percent, and generate 184,000 new U.S. jobs in the next decade. NPPC Tuesday launched a digital campaign to spotlight the importance of opening the Chinese market to U.S. pork as trade negotiations continue. According to Dr. Hayes’ analysis, U.S. pork would generate $24.5 billion in sales if U.S. pork gained unrestricted access to the world’s largest pork-producing nation over ten years. NPPC President David Herring says the analysis shows, "The U.S. pork industry is missing out on an unprecedented sales opportunity in China when it most needs an affordable, safe and reliable supply of its favored protein." ************************************************************************************* Canada Rail Strike Prompts Potash Mine Shutdown Nutrien Ag Solutions says it will be forced to curtail production at its largest potash mine in Canada due to the CN Rail strike. Employees were sent notices this week, indicating the mine will be shut down for two weeks starting on December 2. The company says, "It is extremely disappointing that in a year when the agricultural sector has been severely impacted by poor weather and trade disputes, the CN strike will add further hardship to the Canadian agriculture industry.” The shutdown will continue despite the fact workers and CN Rail reached an agreement Tuesday. Nutrien is the world's largest provider of crop inputs and services, producing and distributing 27 million metric tons of potash, nitrogen and phosphate products worldwide. More than 3,000 CN rail employees are on strike, impacting agricultural shipments of grains, fertilizers and even propane for grain drying. A Fertilizer Canada official says an estimated $200 million to $300 million worth of fertilizer shipments will be impacted by the strike. ************************************************************************************* Organic Valley Unaffected by Dean Foods Bankruptcy When Dean Foods filed for bankruptcy this month, questions surfaced regarding the status of partnerships with the company and the health of the dairy industry. However, Organic Valley, a Wisconsin-based organic cooperative, says it’s Organic Valley Fresh LLC joint venture, which represents a small fraction of its milk processing and distribution, falls outside of the Dean Foods filing. The cooperative says its members are "disheartened by Dean Foods' bankruptcy as it represents the many challenges dairy farmers face in getting their products to market." Organic Valley officials say the cooperative remains strong and innovations have bolstered the business overall. Dean Foods this month announced the chapter 11 bankruptcy filing, adding the company was in advanced talks with Dairy Farmers of America regarding a potential sale. The National Milk Producers Federation says Dean's bankruptcy is creating uncertainty for some producers, but "seen from another angle, it's just another disruption this sector will be able to withstand,” due to the strength of cooperatives and their dairy farmer-owners. ************************************************************************************* Ag Innovation Necessary to Address Climate Change The American Seed Trade Association says agriculture innovation will help combat and mitigate the impacts of climate change. In comments submitted to the House Select Committee on the Climate Crisis, ASTA says, "The development and commercialization of innovative plant products is already playing a significant role in helping U.S. agriculture reduce greenhouse gas emissions. For U.S. agriculture to maximize its potential to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and increase carbon sequestration, several things are needed, according to ASTA, including additional private and public sector investment in agriculture research. The organization says agriculture also needs rational government policies regarding evolving innovation in the agriculture space, and programs that incentivize farmers to adopt conservation practices. The comments note plant breeders are helping through developing better and higher-yielding crop varieties. ASTA says, "It's critical we continue moving forward, through robust investment in agriculture research and development, to drive forward the next generation of innovative solutions to meet the new and emerging challenges of tomorrow." ************************************************************************************ USDA Announces Broadband Investments in Wyoming, Kansas The Department of Agriculture this week announced two more investments as part of its new rural broadband effort. Natural Resources Conservation Service chief Matthew Lohr announced the $5.2 million investment for broadband infrastructure in Kansas as part of the Reconnect Pilot Program, while USDA also announced a $4.79 million investment in Wyoming. In Kansas, Wave Wireless, LLC will use the funding to deploy a fiber broadband network servicing more than 1,300 households. In Wyoming, the funds will improve and create broadband connections in the county of Sweetwater, benefiting roughly 320 homes. USDA received 146 applications this year requesting $1.4 billion in funding through the ReConnect Program. The funds enable the federal government to partner with the private sector and rural communities to build modern broadband infrastructure in areas with insufficient Internet service. Insufficient service is defined as connection speeds of less than ten Megabit download and one Megabit per second upload speeds. Additional investments will be made in the coming weeks.

| Rural Advocate News | Wednesday November 27, 2019 |


Washington Insider: More Trouble With Romaine Lettuce Amid all the alarms about the trade war, another threat is being highlighted this week by federal health and regulatory officials who are cautioning about romaine lettuce “of any kind harvested from the Salinas Valley.” The danger is that the lettuce “may be contaminated with a particularly dangerous type of E. coli bacteria that has sickened 40 people in 16 states.” The warnings were highlighted by an unusual range of urban media, including the Washington Post and the New York Times, among others. The warnings were stark — the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Food and Drug Administration told consumers to throw away any romaine lettuce they may already have purchased. To be clear, they said “restaurants should not serve it, stores should not sell it, and people should not buy it, if it came from Salinas, a growing area in Northern California.” The warning covered products marketed in many forms, including “chopped, whole head, precut or part of a mix.” Most romaine lettuce products are now labeled with a harvest location showing where they were grown, the Washington Post said and reported that “officials said to throw out lettuce if it doesn’t have a label specifying where it’s from.” No deaths have been reported in this E. coli outbreak, but the strain is the same one that caused outbreaks linked to leafy greens and romaine lettuce in the last two years. Just two days before Thanksgiving last year, CDC issued an unusually broad alert, warning consumers to avoid eating romaine lettuce of any kind in response to an outbreak. Of those who have been sickened in this outbreak by E. coli O157: H7, 28 people have been hospitalized, including five who have developed a type of kidney failure. This E. coli strain produces a Shiga toxin that can enter a person’s bloodstream and wreak havoc on kidney function. Symptoms of infection include vomiting, painful cramps and diarrhea that is often bloody. The largest number of cases reported so far has been in Wisconsin, with 10 cases, the Post said. Other cases have been reported in Arizona, California, Colorado, Idaho, Illinois, Maryland, Michigan, Minnesota, Montana, New Jersey, New Mexico, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Virginia, and Washington. The report said that FDA and states are tracing the source of the romaine lettuce eaten by the ill consumers, but that “no common grower, supplier, distributor, or brand of romaine lettuce has been identified.” The Post also said that “whole genome sequencing shows the strain in romaine lettuce tested by the Maryland Health Department is closely related genetically to the E. coli found in sick people from several locations. And it noted that USDA has a list of 35 recalled products sold under different brand names and “use by” dates from Oct. 29, 2019 to Nov. 1, 2019. At this time, there is no recommendation for consumers or retailers to avoid using or selling romaine harvested from places other than Salinas, or labeled as indoor, or hydroponically- or greenhouse-grown, FDA officials said. Convenience salads, from tubs of prewashed baby spinach to bags of chopped romaine, are regularly implicated in foodborne illness outbreaks, the Post said. Last year, an outbreak that began in March from chopped, bagged, as well as whole heads of romaine was the largest E. coli outbreak in more than a decade, killing five people and sickening more than 200 others in three dozen states. Food safety experts have said those convenience greens carry an extra risk because they come in contact with more people and machinery before they arrive on your plate. Contamination can occur on the farm from birds flying overhead or when low-lying fields flood with contaminated water. E. coli can also be spread by farmworkers who don’t wash their hands or via farm equipment that has manure on it. Once the greens are picked, they move to packaging plants where they may be exposed to more workers and more equipment. Products from multiple farms is often bagged in the same facility, which further increases the odds of cross-contamination. The problem with lettuce is that it is usually consumed fresh without being cooked or otherwise prepared in ways that can kill bacteria. In addition special testing ahead of distribution is both difficult and costly since the amounts of produce involved can be very large. At the same time, food borne illness outbreaks are extremely damaging to the fresh food industry as well as to the credibility of the entire food supply system. Regulators have recently been given new authorities to take steps to insure the safety of the food supply and need to take extraordinary steps as necessary to carry out those directions, Washington Insider believes.

| Rural Advocate News | Wednesday November 27, 2019 |


Big Impact If China Cuts Its Tariff On US Pork A trade agreement that eliminates China’s 72% tariff on U.S. pork could reduce the bilateral trade deficit by nearly 6% and generate 184,000 new American jobs over the next decade, according to Iowa State University economist Dermot Hayes for the National Pork Producers Council. U.S. pork producers see a potential $24.5 billion market in China within 10 years if the Trump administration can gain unrestricted trade access after the Asian country’s hog herd has been devastated by African swine fever. The projection was based on a “best-case scenario” in which China drops all tariffs and barriers to pork imports, including speeding up customs processing to allow for imports of chilled pork. Hayes projected that without tariffs, China would import 35% of its pork — a level similar to Mexico and Australia after they concluded free-trade agreements — and U.S. producers would capture half that market.

| Rural Advocate News | Wednesday November 27, 2019 |


US Ag Exports Seen Rebounding While Another Import Record Forecast By USDA Increased values for U.S. pork, soybean and dairy exports helped fuel an increase in the forecast for U.S. agricultural exports for Fiscal Year (FY) 2020 with another record seen for U.S. ag imports, according to USDA. China remains a prominent factor in the U.S. agricultural export outlook. U.S. soybean exports are forecast to total $18 billion in FY 2020, up from USDA’s prior forecast they would be valued at $16.8 billion. The updated FY 2020 outlook is above the FY 2019 level of $16.9 billion, but shy of the FY 2018 mark of $21.7 billion. However, soybean export volumes for FY 2020 are seen holding at 48.3 million metric tons, down from 56.9 million metric tons in FY 2019. The value of U.S. pork exports is seen at $6.7 billion, up $400 million from the prior outlook at sharply higher than the FY 2019 result of $5.5 billion. China is also a factor in that outlook, with USDA noting the rise is “largely due to demand from China.” U.S. ag imports are now put at $132 billion, up from $129 billion and above the record of $131 billion in FY 2019. Imports also set new records in FY 2017 ($119.1 billion) and FY 2018 ($127.5 billion). Much of the increase is seen for fresh fruits and vegetables and grain products, USDA said. “Fresh fruit imports are raised $1.7 billion to $15 billion, largely due to increased deliveries of avocados, berries, and melons from Mexico,” USDA detailed. The aforementioned export and import forecasts would result in a trade balance of $7 billion, one billion less than USDA expected in August, but up from the $4.5 billion mark in FY 2019, the smallest U.S. ag trade black ink since FY 2006.

| Rural Advocate News | Wednesday November 27, 2019 |


Wednesday Watch List Markets Wednesday before Thanksgiving is loaded with reports, starting with U.S. GDP, weekly jobless claims and durable goods orders at 7:30 a.m. CST. U.S. personal incomes and pending home sales are out at 9 a.m. The U.S. Energy Department releases weekly energy inventories at 9:30 a.m., including ethanol. Natural gas inventory is set for later in the morning, followed by the Fed's Beige Book at 1 p.m. CST. U.S. grain and livestock futures close at normal times on Wednesday and open again Friday at 8:30 a.m. CST. Weather Snow, ice and rain along with strong winds lingers over the northern Midwest early Wednesday while later in the day it should be drier. A new storm is taking shape over the western U.S. with widespread rain and snow expected mainly west of the Rockies. A minor disturbance will bring rain and mixed precipitation to New Mexico and west Texas mainly this afternoon. Drier elsewhere in the key U.S. growing areas. Impacts to travel, transport and harvesting today the Midwest due to recent and current snow, rain and wind. Impacts to travel and harvesting due to yesterday's snow through the northern portion of the central Plains region. Impacts to travel in many areas west of the Rockies.

| Rural Advocate News | Tuesday November 26, 2019 |


Trump Twitter Tirade on USMCA Inaction The president once again took to Twitter to lash out at House Democrats over their inaction on the U.S.-Mexico-Canada Trade Agreement. President Trump placed the blame for leaving USMCA squarely on Speaker Nancy Pelosi and House Democrats for leaving USMCA “dead in the water.” USMCA isn’t the only legislation that’s awaiting action as the House and Senate are both out of session for the Thanksgiving break. There aren’t many days left on the congressional schedule in 2019. Politico says Democrats are expected to conduct negotiations with U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer by phone this week. However, the House’s impeachment process and yet another government shutdown deadline looming will likely take up a lot of that remaining time on Capitol Hill through December. The good news for USMCA proponents is Mexico passed a budget for 2020 that includes more money for overhauling its labor laws. That could give some reassurance to House Democrats and U.S. labor groups, who’ve been worried that Mexico wouldn’t follow through on its labor commitments under the three-nation trade agreement. It’s been one of the biggest sticking points that’s held up Congressional ratification. ********************************************************************************************* Commission says Mexican Tomato Imports Threaten Domestic Production The U.S. International Trade Commission ruled Friday that Mexican tomato imports threaten local production. That decision comes after the U.S. Commerce Department had already determined that Mexican tomatoes were likely to be sold at an unfairly low price as they were dumped into the U.S. market. The Florida Tomato Exchange asked for a dumping investigation shortly after the U.S. and Mexico signed a new trade deal. The Florida group says the ITC’s decision gives credibility to its long-standing concerns about Mexican imports. The Mexican-based Fresh Produce Association of the Americas says it is disappointed in the decision, saying that rising Mexican imports simply reflects growing demand by U.S. consumers for Mexico’s produce. Mexican officials say, “Consumers prefer vine-ripened tomatoes, and this is why (U.S.) domestic gassed-green tomatoes continue to lose market share in the U.S.” The ITC ruling means that the recently negotiated tomato suspension agreement is still in effect. The deal will bring much-heavier inspection requirements for tomatoes entering the U.S. If the deal is ended for any reason, the U.S. will then impose a 21-percent duty on Mexican tomatoes, which account for nearly half the tomatoes sold in the U.S. ******************************************************************************************** “Phase Two” U.S. and China Agreement not Imminent U.S. and Beijing officials, lawyers, and other trade experts all tell Reuters that a “phase two” trade deal between the U.S. and China is nowhere near imminent. The two largest economies in the world are still having trouble getting the phase one deal signed. Back in October, U.S. President Trump said he expects to quickly start on phase two negotiations after the phase one deal is completed. The phase two trade deal would focus on the U.S. accusations that China steals U.S. intellectual property by forcing U.S. companies to transfer technology to Chinese rivals. Reuters says things like the 2020 presidential election, phase one deal difficulties, combined with the president’s reluctance to work with other countries to pressure China into playing by World Trade Organization rules are starting to dampen hopes for a more ambitious agreement in the future. Officials in Beijing have already commented publicly that they won’t start discussions on a phase two agreement until after the 2020 election because they want to see if Trump wins a second term. Reuters reported last week that signing the phase one agreement has the potential to slide into 2020. ********************************************************************************************** Rural Mainstreet Index Rises Again The Creighton University Rural Mainstreet Index for October climbed above growth-neutral. The index is a monthly survey of bank CEOs in rural areas of a 10-state region that depends on agriculture and/or energy. The index rose to 51.4 in October, up from 50.1 in September. While the reading is still weak, it’s the highest reading since last June. It’s the third time in the last four months that the index came in above growth neutral. Doctor Ernie Goss of Creighton says, “Federal agriculture crop support payments and somewhat higher grain prices have boosted the Rural Mainstreet Index slightly above growth neutral for the month. Even with that said, almost three of four bank CEOs reported continuing negative impacts from the trade war.” By way of comparison, the farmland and ranchland price index for October slumped to a weak 40.3 from September’s 43.1. It’s the lowest reading since last March and the 71st-straight month that the index has been below growth neutral. The October farm equipment-sales index improved to 39.7 in October, up from 35.9 in September. ********************************************************************************************** Bill will Help Preserve Family Farms A bill introduced in the House of Representatives last week will help more farm families continue operating their farms after the death of a loved one. The Preserving Family Farms Act of 2019 is sponsored by Jimmy Panetta of California and Jackie Warlorski of Indiana and has the full support of the American Farm Bureau Federation. “Farm and ranch families often face a significant financial burden when they have to pay estate taxes,” says AFB President Zippy Duvall. “Farm families should be able to pay based on how their land is used, rather than its potential value as commercial property, such as a shopping center.” The legislation will give more families hope they can hold onto their farm when a loved one passes away. The bill modernizes the special use valuation provision of the estate tax. This valuation allows the property to be appraised as farmland rather than its development value when determining estate taxes. Increasing the amount of farmland or ranchland that can be valued at agriculture value rather than development value would help protect family-owned farm and ranch businesses by assessing estate taxes on the actual value of the businesses they’ve spent decades building. “We strongly urge members of the House to co-sponsor this important bill,” Duvall says. ********************************************************************************************** Brazil says the U.S. will Open to Beef Imports Soon Brazilian officials tell Bloomberg it’s a matter of “if, not when,” the U.S. will reopen its market to Brazil’s meat exports. The trade and foreign relations secretary for Brazil’s Agriculture Ministry says, “We are 100 percent confident that it will happen. Our meat has the necessary quality to be exported to the U.S. Our meat’s quality is not an issue.” No date has been set in stone yet as to when the U.S. will begin accepting imports from Brazil. The U.S. has several questions about the current state of Brazil’s beef industry. Brazil provided additional answers and is now waiting for the U.S. to finish its analysis of those answers. As recently as October, the U.S. informed Brazil it would keep the ban on fresh-beef imports in place. The U.S. suspended imports from the largest economy in Latin America back in 2017. American inspectors found Brazilian beef to contain blood clots and lymph nodes. Brazil said the findings were abscesses that came about from a reaction to components of a foot-and-mouth disease vaccine. Because of that incident, Brazil reduced the vaccine dosage and made changes to the product’s compound.

| Rural Advocate News | Tuesday November 26, 2019 |


Washington Insider: Phase Two China Trade Prospects Fading Tea leaf reading has always been both difficult and dangerous during times of political turmoil and the current moment is no exception, Reuters said earlier this week. At a time when most pundits are focused on the likelihood of a “phase one” deal that avoids more and bigger tariffs along with continued pressure on the economy from trade uncertainty, Reuters is suggesting that an ambitious “phase two” trade deal between the United States and China is looking less likely as the two countries struggle to complete a phase one agreement. Although in October, President Donald Trump told the press in a joint conference with Chinese vice premier Liu He that he “expected to quickly dive into a second phase” once phase one had been completed. But hold-ups in getting the first-stage done along with “the White House’s reluctance to work with other countries to pressure Beijing” are dimming hopes for anything more ambitious in the near future, Reuters said. The 16-month trade war with China has thrown U.S. businesses and farmers into turmoil, disrupted global supply chains and been a drag on economies worldwide. Failure to address a key reason it was started is already raising questions about whether the sacrifice has been worth it — especially as many of Beijing’s trade practices widely seen as unfair remain unaddressed, Reuters said. In addition, last week Reuters reported that the signing of a phase one deal could slide into next year as the two countries tussle over Beijing’s demand for more extensive tariff rollbacks. Representative Jim Costa, D-Calif., who sits on two key agricultural committees, also reported to the Congress last week that “pragmatic” Chinese sources had described significant hurdles to the agreements and a lack of focus by the administration. White House spokesmen say the administration’s main priority is to secure a “big phase one announcement,” locking in big-ticket Chinese purchases of U.S. ag goods that can be touted as an important win during the coming re-election campaign. After that, China could recede somewhat on the president’s policy agenda as he turns to domestic issues, the official said. “As soon as we finish phase one we’re going to start negotiating phase two,” a second administration official said. “As far as timing around when a phase two deal could be completed, that’s not something I can speculate on.” Reuters said that the White House initially laid out ambitious plans to restructure the United States’ relationship with China. But many of these critical concerns will not be addressed in the phase one agreement, which focuses on China agricultural product buys, tariff roll backs, and includes some intellectual property pledges. “That’s the easy stuff,” said Costa. The harder issues are “industrial espionage, copyrights, privacy and security issues.” Further complicating the issue, the administration’s economic advisers are split: some are pushing for a quick phase one deal to appease markets and business executives, others want the focus to be “a more comprehensive agreement,” Reuters said. Beijing officials, meanwhile, are balking at pursuing larger structural changes to managing China’s economy and are anxious not to appear to be kowtowing to U.S. interests. Both China and the United States have a clear interest in getting a phase one deal completed relatively soon to soothe markets and assuage domestic policy concerns, said Matthew Goodman, a former U.S. government official and trade expert at the Center for Strategic and International Studies. “I think phase one probably will happen because both presidents want it,” Goodman said at a Congressional briefing last week. But he said China was less willing now to make structural changes that might have been possible in the spring. “They’re not going to do those things,” he said. The United States needs better coordination with its allies to pressure China to make urgently needed structural changes, including ending the forced transfer of technology and better intellectual property protections, trade experts and former officials say. Europe and other U.S. allies have been reluctant to join Washington’s pressure campaign on Beijing, partly due to frustration with the administration’s focus on unilateral action and in part due to their reliance on Chinese investment. “We need an international coalition to successfully attack phase two,” said Kellie Meiman Hock, managing partner at McLarty Associates, a trade consulting group in Washington. So, we will see. Clearly the trade talks with China are a major priority for the administration and for many industry groups including agriculture. However, the administration has set high goals for containing trade practices that are seen as unfair—and can expect substantial criticism if it does not focus systematically in those areas — efforts producers should watch closely as they emerge, Washington Insider believes.

| Rural Advocate News | Tuesday November 26, 2019 |


China Clears Large Number of US Poultry Facilities For Import USDA has released a list of 172 facilities that are now approved to export poultry to China, continuing the process of reopening the Chinese market to U.S. poultry. U.S. facilities approved by FSIS for export to China must be listed on the General Administration of Customs of the People’s Republic of China (GACC) website, FSIS noted, “before slaughtering and processing poultry and poultry products for export to China. U.S. facilities can only export to China poultry that are slaughtered and further processed after the facility has been added to the GACC website.”

| Rural Advocate News | Tuesday November 26, 2019 |


USDA Releases Clarification On Definitions For Export Sales Rules On Pork, Beef USDA Monday published its final rule on clarifications to the Export Sales reporting system in the Federal Register, after the Foreign Agricultural Service (FAS) “received informal inquiries whether exports of different types of beef and pork carcasses must be reported under the regulations.” The final rule notes now there is a footnote to the appendix of items covered under the systems relative to “fresh, chilled or frozen muscle cuts/whether or not boxed” for beef and pork. “For greater clarity, ‘muscle cuts’ includes carcasses, whether whole, divided in half or further sub-divided into individual primals, sub-primals, or fabricated cuts, with or without bone,” the footnote explains. “Carcasses which are broken down, boxed, and sold as a complete unit are muscle cuts. Total weight of carcasses reported may include minor non-reportable items attached to carcasses (e.g., hooves attached to carcasses). Meats removed during the conversion of an animal to a carcass (e.g., variety meats such as beef/pork hearts, beef tongues, etc.) are not muscle cuts nor are items sold as bones practically free of meat (e.g., beef femur bones) or fat practically free of meat (e.g., pork clear plate) removed from a carcass.” The rule was effective when published as it is “a final rule without prior notice and opportunity for comment.” USDA had signaled the update was coming in the regulatory agenda released last week and FAS had previously indicated it was going to update guidance to the trade on pork and beef reporting requirements under the export sales reporting system.

| Rural Advocate News | Tuesday November 26, 2019 |


Tuesday Watch List Markets Financial traders will pay attention to a report on U.S. new home sales and an index of U.S. consumer confidence, both due out at 9 a.m. CST Tuesday. Any news about a possible limited trade agreement with China gets traders' attention as do the latest weather forecasts with U.S. corn still in the fields. Weather Moderate to heavy snow and wind spread from northeast Colorado and northwest Kansas across much of Nebraska, through the northwest portion of the Midwest region Tuesday into Wednesday. This is likely to greatly affect travel, transport and any late-season field work. Winter storm warnings have been issued for much of this area. A high wind warning is also in effect for the southwest Plains region today. Rain or showers will occur through the balance of the Midwest and in the Delta associated with this storm. Drier weather through East Coast states and also in the Northern Plains region. Snow, ice and rain in the western U.S. and the central Rockies region. In South America, rain yesterday in Argentina and today in Brazil will maintain favorable growing conditions for corn and soybeans. Temporary planting delays.

| Rural Advocate News | Monday November 25, 2019 |


Phase One Trade Agreement may be Heading to 2020 U.S. legislation supporting Hong Kong protesters didn’t stop China’s trade chief from making a phone call recently to invite U.S. negotiators to a new round of trade talks. The Wall Street Journal says U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin (Muh-NOO-chin) were invited to Beijing for more face-to-face trade negotiations. While it wasn’t immediately clear if U.S. officials said yes to the invitation, the Wall Street Journal says U.S. trade officials were willing to meet with their Chinese counterparts. The U.S. Trade Representative’s office has yet to respond to requests for comment. The report on the Chinese invitation comes shortly after U.S. legislation on Hong Kong had threatened to push trade talks between the world’s biggest economies off track. Last week, the U.S. House of Representatives passed two bills intended to show support for protesters in Hong Kong. Beijing then accused the U.S. of interfering in its domestic affairs. Trade experts and people close to the Trump Administration say the limited trade agreement could be pushed into next year, news which is not good for U.S. agriculture. The U.S. and China have both imposed tariffs totaling billions of dollars on each other’s goods. ********************************************************************************************* Doubt Growing on USMCA Passing in 2019 Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi appears doubtful that the U.S.-Mexico-Canada Trade Agreement will be passed this year. After she met with U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer and House Ways and Means Committee Chair Richard Neal last week, there was no deal and not much time left on the legislative clock. “We’ve made progress,” she said after leaving the 90-minute meeting. “I think we’re narrowing our differences.” She said earlier in the day that they’ll still have several steps to take even after they finally reach an agreement. The clock is ticking. Last Thursday was the last day before the House takes its Thanksgiving break. The Trump Administration and some Democrats hoped to strike a deal before the week-long recess to give lawmakers time in December to take up the pact. The House only has eight days of official session left in the 2019 calendar year. Lawmakers will stay on for an extra week in December to resolve budget issues and avoid a government shutdown. ********************************************************************************************* Michigan Joins Four Other States as Cage-Free A new law says the 15 million egg-laying hens in Michigan’s poultry flocks will have to lay their eggs in cage-free housing systems before 2025. An Associated Press report says Michigan Lt. Governor Garlin Gilchrist (GILL-krist) signed the legislation last week as Governor Gretchen Whitmer is on a trade trip to Israel. The law also prohibits non-cage-free eggs from being sold in Michigan starting in 2025. Gilchrist says the measure ensures Michigan standards for animal welfare are among the strongest in the U.S. At the same time, he says the law ensures egg producers can thrive. Under an older law, each hen was going to have to be confined in a one-square-foot space by April. The new law says each hen has to be housed in a cage-free system by the end of 2024. Michigan is the fifth state and the largest egg-producing state to adopt a cage-free law. The bill is part of a broader update of the state’s animal industry laws. Large restaurant and grocery chains like McDonald’s, Walmart, and Kroger have said they’ll only buy eggs from cage-free farms by 2025. ********************************************************************************************** Farmers Employing More Farm Workers, Paying Higher Wages than in 2018 U.S. farmers are hiring more laborers than they were a year ago and they’re paying higher wages too. The U.S. Department of Agriculture issued a new report saying that farm operators directly employed 809,000 workers during the week of October sixth. That’s three percent higher than the same time last year. The USDA says farmers paid an average gross wage of $15.02 per hour during the same week in October, four percent more than last year. Field laborers averaged $14.38 per hour, which is five percent higher than last year. Livestock workers earned an average of $13.77 per hour, which is three percent higher than last year. The combined livestock and field worker wages average $14.21 per hour, four percent higher than last year. The report says the 2019 all-hired worker annual average gross wage rate comes in at $14.91 per hour, five percent higher than in 2018. The 2019 field worker’s annual average gross wage rate was at $14.11 per hour, six percent higher than the annual average in 2018. Field workers in Oregon and Washington were among the highest-paid this year, averaging $16.56 per hour, up from $15.62 last year. ********************************************************************************************** Feed Industry says China still has Partial U.S. Poultry Ban in Place The American Feed Industry Association says China’s lifting of its ban on U.S poultry imports is only a “partial” lifting. The association has received official confirmation from USDA’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service that the announcement only includes poultry imports for human consumption. It doesn’t include other poultry products, such as those used in pet foods. At this time, the import restriction for pet foods with poultry products is still in effect. The association says there’s no difference in the risk of introducing poultry diseases between importing poultry for human or animal consumption. AFIA says it is “extremely disappointed to learn that China is implementing only a partial lifting of the ban and we look forward to working with APHIS and the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative to rectify the situation.” AFIA’s President and CEO, Constance Cullman, says, “China is a valuable market for the entire U.S. animal food industry, for exports of feed, feed ingredients, and value-added products such as meat and poultry.” ********************************************************************************************** Hoeven, Peterson Ask USDA to Help Sugar Growers Senate Ag Appropriations Chair John Hoeven (HOH-vehn) of North Dakota and House Ag Committee Chair Collin Peterson of Minnesota asked the USDA to assist to sugar growers in the Red River Valley. Producers in both states were unable to harvest their crops because of severe weather. The Hagstrom Report says USDA Undersecretary Bill Northey recently made a trip to those areas to see how producers were hit by a wet fall and early snowstorm. Hoeven says, “This has been an unprecedented year of challenges in farm country and we’re working to do all we can to support our producers.” He says sugar growers in the Red River Valley left 118,000 acres of sugar beets unharvested, which is one-third of their entire planted crop. Peterson says, “A tough harvest season has challenged sugar beet growers more than anyone would have anticipated. We’re committed to working with USDA to see if they have a way to access help.” USDA recently announced that the domestic sugar crop was smaller than anticipated due to weather problems. That means the agency expects it will allow an increase in imports.

| Rural Advocate News | Monday November 25, 2019 |


Washington Insider: Edging Closer to Spending Bills The Hill is reporting this week that top negotiators from the House and Senate have reached a long-stalled deal on top-line spending levels for the fiscal 2020 bills. The report cited House Appropriations Committee Chairwoman Nita Lowey, D-N.Y., and Senate Appropriations Committee Chairman Richard Shelby, R-Ala., who say they have settled on “302(b)s,” which set the top-line number for each of the 12 government funding bills. The Friday night agreement marks a “breakthrough” for the government funding negotiations and comes after days of behind-the-scenes horse trading, including back-and-forth funding offers, between Senate Republicans and House Democrats as they hunted for a path to a deal. In the meantime, Congress passed another very short-term spending bill last week, giving lawmakers until Dec. 20 to prevent a shutdown. To do that, they'll either need to pass the fiscal 2020 bills or another continuing resolution. Although the House has passed 10 of the 12 Fiscal Year (FY) 2020 bills and the Senate has passed four, lawmakers hadn't been able to reach a final deal on any of them “as they awaited the deal on the top-line numbers.” Shelby and Lowey said they want to pass each of the 12 funding bills by Dec. 20. That gives them less than a month — roughly 15 session days — to iron out the details of the bills and get them through both chambers. "The subcommittees are getting to work immediately in an effort to pass all 12 bills before the CR expires on Dec. 20," The Hill reported. The deal on subcommittee allocations adheres to the defense and nondefense caps agreed to as part of a two-year budget deal announced in July. Under that agreement, overall defense spending was $738 billion for fiscal 2020, while nondefense spending was $632 billion. The agreement between Shelby and Lowey does not resolve all of the remaining issues, including the “looming fight over the border wall, The Hill said. The House included no money for new border barriers in its Department of Homeland Security bill, while the Senate included $5 billion for the border in DHS as well as an additional $3.6 billion that could be reprogrammed from military projects to the border,” The Hill said. Democrats are also eager to block President Trump from reprogramming funds for the wall under emergency powers, a major sticking point with Republicans. Now it is up to the subcommittees to try to work out several tough policy differences, including the wall. "Individual funding items are being left to the subcommittees in keeping with long-standing committee practice," The Hill reported. In addition, other policy fights — including policies related to abortion and the number of Immigration and Customs Enforcement beds—are significant potential roadblocks for negotiators as they draft the FY 2020 bills. While many members have been skeptical that it would be possible to pass 12 appropriations bills by the new December deadline, The Hill says its sources expressed optimism that the timeline was achievable. Lowey and Shelby’s ability to strike a deal on the allocations had been a major stumbling block for weeks. Appropriators had noted that without a deal before Thanksgiving, the new deadline was “ambitious.” “If they can get those numbers done, I still think we have time to get those bills done before the end of the year when we get back,” Rep. Tom Cole, R-Okla., an appropriator, said ahead of the announcement of the deal last week. Senate Minority Leader Charles Schumer, D-N.Y., warned the President to stay out of the funding negotiations as lawmakers head toward the Dec. 20 deadline. "On the first path, President Trump stays out of our way and gives Congress the space to work together and find an agreement," he said. "On the second path, President Trump stomps his feet, makes impossible demands and prevents his party, the Republicans, from coming to a fair arrangement." So, we will see. It appears now that numerous members prefer the newly proposed budget levels to those that would be used if another CR is required. At the same time, the remaining time is very short and several of the potential remaining issues are highly contentious. These talks include very high stakes and should be watched closely by producers as they proceed, Washington Insider believes.

| Rural Advocate News | Monday November 25, 2019 |


Grassley Waiting On EPA’s Next Move On Ethanol Targets Sen. Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, again met with President Donald Trump on the issue of biofuel policy, but said he wants to see EPA’s final plan before he is willing to say that the agency will live up the pledge on making sure that 15 billion gallons of conventional ethanol get used. “I left the meeting satisfied that the president was saying the same thing — and [EPA Administrator Andrew] Wheeler heard him say it — said we got to produce 15 billion gallons,” Grassley said. Grassley said he told Trump that EPA’s actions since a September meeting on the topic “leaves a lot of questions whether or not we are going to get the 15 billion gallons that we said we were going to get.”

| Rural Advocate News | Monday November 25, 2019 |


China’s Xi Insists Country Wants Phase One Deal With US Chinese President Xi Jinping said the country wants to reach an initial trade deal with the U.S. but also was not afraid to retaliate if need be. "We want to work for a 'phase one' agreement on the basis of mutual respect and equality," Xi said at an international forum in Beijing organized by Bloomberg. "When necessary we will fight back, but we have been working actively to try not to have a trade war. We did not initiate this trade war and this is not something we want." He also commented that China has a “positive attitude” on the trade talks. Xi met with former U.S. Secretary of State Henry Kissinger Friday, with Xinhua reporting Xi stated that the two sides need to boost communications when it comes to strategic issues so as to avoid misunderstandings. Chinese diplomat Wang Yi Wang Yi said on Friday the U.S. needs to meet China halfway and should promote healthy and stable development of bilateral relations. Meanwhile, the South China Morning Post quoted Ian Bremmer of the Eurasia Group political consulting firm as saying the Hong Kong issue will not impact the trade deal provided things do not escalate. “I was with Liu He two nights ago, it was very clear to me in his level of, not confidence but certainly hopefulness, and cautious optimism that we will move to a phase one deal and that Hong Kong was not going to play into that,” Bremmer stated. "President Trump has made it clear that he is not going to talk about Hong Kong, and not allow it to interfere as long as they are discussing trade." President Donald Trump today told Fox Business News that “We have a deal potentially, very close, he [Chinese President Xi Jinping] wants to make it much more than I want to make it, I am not anxious to make it,” As for Hong Kong, Trump said the U.S. has to “stand with Hong Kong, but I am also standing with President Xi.”

| Rural Advocate News | Monday November 25, 2019 |


Monday Watch List Markets USDA's weekly report of grain export inspections will be released at 10 a.m. CST Monday, as usual, but don't be surprised if trade is quiet ahead of Thursday's Thanksgiving holiday. With corn still in the fields, USDA announced Monday's 3 p.m. Crop Progress report will not be the final one in 2019, as originally scheduled. More Monday reports will follow until harvest gets closer to finishing. Weather Snow and some mixed precipitation from eastern North Dakota through northern Minnesota during Monday. Snow and rain through the Pacific Northwest with snow through the north and central Rockies region into western Nebraska. Little of note elsewhere in the key U.S. crop and livestock areas Monday . Favorable for the delayed harvests of corn and soybeans and mostly favorable for winter wheat. In South America, rain and thunderstorms have developed in the central Argentina corn and soybean belt while in Brazil it will be drier and warmer Monday. Mostly favorable conditions for planting and developing crops at this time.

| Rural Advocate News | Friday November 22, 2019 |


Ag Exports Projected to fall $5.2 Billion in 2019 The Department of Agriculture projects the fiscal year 2019 U.S. agricultural trade balance to fall to $5.2 billion. USDA’s Economic Research Service projects exports at $134.5 billion, and imports at $129.3 billion, leaving a $5.2 billion surplus, the lowest since fiscal year 2006. Unlike overall U.S. trade in goods and services, U.S. trade in the agricultural sector consistently runs at a surplus. Although agricultural exports have increased in value since 2016, the value of imports has risen at a slightly faster rate, leading to a declining trade balance. Compared to the previous outlook in May 2019, exports were revised down by $2.5 billion, while imports were raised by $0.3 billion. The decline in expected export value was primarily due to lowered expectations for corn and soybean exports. For imports, the increase in the forecast was due in part to an increase in the expected value of horticultural imports, such as fruits and vegetables. Initial projections for fiscal year 2020 suggest a small recovery in the agricultural trade balance to $8.0 billion. ************************************************************************************* China Phase One Delays Continue, China Claims Talks on Track Promised for mid-November, reports this week suggest an agreement and signing of the so-called phase one trade deal with China faces delays until mid-December. However, China maintains that the talks are on track. A Chinese government spokesperson told reporters this week “China is willing to work with the United States to resolve each other’s core concerns," adding the "external rumors" regarding the unraveling of the agreement are not true. China has invited the United States to Beijing for talks, possibly next week before the Thanksgiving holiday. Chinese officials suggested the deal could be signed in early December. Despite the claims by China, markets appear to sluggish on any trade news, seemingly growing tired of delayed promises of agreements and little progress. President Donald Trump says the phase-one agreement would include $40-50 billion worth of U.S. ag trade to China over a two-year period. U.S. farm exports to China reached nearly $20 billion before the trade war began, but since fell roughly 50 percent. ************************************************************************************* Farm Bureau Calls for Improvements to Ag Labor Bill While many farm groups seem pleased with the House labor bill, the American Farm Bureau Federation says it falls short of a long-term solution. AFBF President Zippy Duvall says that "While welcome, these changes unfortunately fall short of assuring that American producers will be able to keep their farms going." Changes made to the Farm Workforce Modernization Act before introduction improve the ability of farmers to retain H-2A workers, take a small step toward protecting farmers from frivolous litigation, and add a study to examine whether the H-2A program affects U.S. farmers’ ability to compete with foreign ag imports. However, AFBF says the key amendments not included in the bill would ensure a fair and competitive wage rate and limitations on the use of federal courts to solve workplace grievances. Duvall says that “once Congress passes legislation, no one will have an appetite to revisit the issue and simply put, this bill’s approach is not yet good enough.” ************************************************************************************* Hahn Pledges Transparent Dairy Labeling in Confirmation Hearing The National Milk Producers Federation welcomed comments made during a confirmation hearing of President Donald Trump’s nominee to lead the Food and Drug Administration. The hearing briefly touched on dairy labeling transparency. NMPF and others are seeking a labeling system that prohibits plant-based dairy imitators from using dairy marketing terms. Rules already do so, but FDA has not enforced them. Hahn voiced his support for “clear, transparent, and understandable labeling for the American people.” Hahn says, “people need this so that they can make the appropriate decisions for their health and for their nutrition.” NMPF President and CEO Jim Mulhern says, “It’s heartening to hear the nominee pledge that an FDA under his leadership will immediately examine this crucial unfinished business.” The comments by Hahn came before the Senate Health Committee. Committee Chairman Lamar Alexander, a Republican from Tennessee, called Hahn an “impressive choice” to lead the FDA. Ranking member Patty Murray, a Democrat from Washington, demanded Hahn commit to putting science, data and families first. ************************************************************************************* New Motor Oil Made with High Oleic Soybean Oil Now Available on Amazon America’s drivers have a new choice that unites performance and sustainability at a competitive cost, according to the United Soybean Board. Biosynthetic® Technologies’ biobased synthetic motor oil, using high oleic soybean oil from U.S. soybeans, is now on commercial shelves. USB Director Mike Korth, a Nebraska Farmer, says, “Soy-based motor oil is another great opportunity to drive demand for U.S. soybeans" and meet consumer sustainability demands. Biosynthetic Technologies’ motor oil is also recognized as a USDA Certified Biobased Product in the United States Department of Agriculture’s BioPreferred Program. The company will market both 5W-20 and 5W-30 through Amazon.com and direct from their website. The product is available for purchase and use immediately. Biosynthetic is also offering farmers a limited-time 20 percent discount to purchase the synthetic oil. They can use code BioTrialFarm available only at motoroil.biosynthetic.com through January 31. USB and USDA have supported the soy-based, drop-in synthetic alternative to petroleum-based motor oil, calling the oils well-suited for high-temperature automotive and industrial applications. ************************************************************************************* Farm Bureau Survey: Thanksgiving Dinner Cost Rises Only a Penny An annual survey finds the Thanksgiving Day dinner average cost this year for ten is $48.91, less than $5.00 per person. The American Farm Bureau Federation’s 34th annual survey on Thanksgiving Day meal items increased just once cent from last year. The centerpiece on most Thanksgiving tables, the turkey, costs slightly less than last year, at $20.80 for a 16-pound bird. That’s roughly $1.30 per pound, down four percent from last year. Survey results show retail turkey prices are the lowest since 2010. Although the overall average cost of the meal was about the same this year, there were some price changes for individual items. In addition to turkey, foods that showed slight price declines include cubed bread stuffing and canned pumpkin pie mix. Foods showing modest increases this year included dinner rolls, sweet potatoes and milk. Meanwhile, despite the growing popularity of prepared foods, 92 percent of Americans celebrate Thanksgiving at home or at a family member’s home and most cook their entire meal at home, according to the survey.

| Rural Advocate News | Friday November 22, 2019 |


Washington Insider: Cautious Optimism on China Deal Bloomberg is reporting this week that China’s chief trade negotiator indicated he was “cautiously optimistic” about reaching a phase one deal with the U.S. in spite of “warnings of the dangers of escalating the tariff war” by experts. Vice Premier Liu He commented in a speech in Beijing on Wednesday ahead of the Bloomberg New Economy Forum. He also said he had invited his U.S. counterpart, U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer, to travel to China for talks this month but noted that “the invitation hasn’t yet been accepted.” On Thursday, former U.S. Secretary of State Henry Kissinger said America and China were in the “foothills of a Cold War,” and warned that the conflict could be worse than World War I if left to run unconstrained. Later in the day, former Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson also warned of the perils of decoupling the world’s two largest economies. President Donald Trump announced a “phase one” deal a month ago, but since that time, markets have been whipsawed by comments from both sides, first indicating progress, and then the opposite. The latest potential hurdle came after Liu made his dinner-time comments, when the U.S. House voted 417-1 for legislation supporting Hong Kong protesters that has already been unanimously approved by the Senate. The President said earlier that he plans to sign the bill, Bloomberg said. Liu also explained China’s plans for reforming state enterprises, opening up the financial sector, and enforcing intellectual property rights, issues at the core of U.S. demands for change in China’s economic system. However, in a separate comment, he told one of the attendees that he was “confused” about the U.S. demands but was confident the first phase of an agreement could be completed nevertheless. Liu’s remarks cushioned declines in stocks in Asia, Europe and the U.S. as investors weighed the impact of the House bill on relations between the world’s two largest economies. U.S. and Chinese trade negotiators will continue communicating closely and work toward a phase one deal, Ministry of Commerce spokesman Gao Feng said at a briefing in Beijing on Thursday. Responding to questions including whether the two sides agreed on agricultural purchases and tariff removal, as well as a media report on the timetable for a deal, Gao said related rumors were not accurate. It was unclear exactly what he was referring to. If efforts to reach a phase one deal fail before Dec. 15, the White House has threatened to impose 15% tariffs on some $160 billion in imports from China. While the Hong Kong bill is a negative factor for the phase one deal, China still may be able to reach an agreement with the U.S. this year, said Zhang Yansheng, who previously worked at the National Development and Reform Commission, the country’s top economic planning body. “The optimistic view is that the phase-one deal can be reached within this year – but a more pessimistic one is that the first phase will be dragged to some point next year,” said Zhang, who is now chief researcher at the China Center for International Economic Exchanges. Kissinger, 96, said he hoped trade negotiations would provide an opening to political discussions between the two countries. “Everybody knows that trade negotiations, which I hope will succeed and whose success I support, can only be a small beginning to a political discussion that I hope will take place,” he said. Kissinger spoke hours after Chinese Vice President Wang Qishan addressed the NEF, saying his country was committed to peace and would follow through on policy changes despite facing challenges at home and abroad. “Between war and peace, the Chinese people firmly choose peace,” he said. “We should abandon the zero-sum thinking and Cold War mentality.” The Forum is being organized by Bloomberg Media Group, a division of Bloomberg LP, the parent company of Bloomberg News. Meantime, Paulson called on China to open more and said the U.S. should resist the temptation to delist Chinese firms from U.S. exchanges, calling it a “terrible idea.” Both countries should determine the rules of the road for high-end technology such as 5G, he said. “There will be some natural decoupling,” Paulson said. “But the delusions of a wholesale, comprehensive decoupling and an economic iron curtain will leave our countries, and the world, worse off. We need to avoid that outcome.” After almost two years of negotiations and escalations – and plenty of false dawns – trade negotiators from the U.S. and China are making progress in key areas, Bloomberg said. The negotiating teams are using their failed May proposal as a benchmark for how much a phase-one deal covers of the once-near agreement and how much tariffs will be removed as part of the initial deal. There’s been signs of a thawing on other fronts. The U.S. Commerce Department has started approving some suppliers’ applications for licenses to do business with China’s Huawei Technologies Co., partially reopening access to one of the biggest buyers of U.S. technology. However, Charlene Barshefsky, who negotiated China’s entry into the WTO, said that “No outcome is inevitable but two decades of careful management of the relations between China and the West have run its course.” So, we will see. The positive signals from China are certainly welcome in spite of the remaining large areas of uncertainty to be addressed. These are very important fights that producers should watch closely as they emerge, Washington Insider believes.

| Rural Advocate News | Friday November 22, 2019 |


USDA To Issue Final Rule On Export Sales Reporting Of Pork, Beef The fall 2019 regulatory agenda released by the Trump administration Wednesday included a notice that USDA intends to issue a final rule in December, which will clarify export sales reporting requirements. “The final rule would amend the Export Sales Reporting Requirements Regulation to clarify certain definitions as they relate to beef and pork, which are subject to this regulation to ensure accuracy of the weekly U.S. Export Sales report,” the notice said. This appears to be aimed at addressing details on things like the specific cuts that are to be reported to USDA and the timeline for making those reports to USDA. The most-recent sales data did show that nearly one half of the total for U.S. pork sales to foreign buyers were “late reported” sales.

| Rural Advocate News | Friday November 22, 2019 |


McConnell Chides House Democrats For Giving AFL-CIO Big Role In USMCA Process Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., on Wednesday argued that Democrats are giving AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka too much sway in talks on the U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA). “How ironic. We are talking about a trade deal that would create more American jobs, and Democrats are considering outsourcing their judgment to Big Labor special interests — who, to my recollection, have not supported a single major trade deal in living memory,” McConnell said on the Senate floor. This comes after Trumka met with House Democrats on USMCA, noting that changes are still needed in the trade deal to get his union to back the deal. Meanwhile, Mexico’s Congress delayed the government’s 2020 spending bill, which includes proposed funds to implement the labor reforms required under the USMC

| Rural Advocate News | Friday November 22, 2019 |


Friday Watch List Markets On the Friday before Thanksgiving, it is reasonable to expect quiet trade in ag futures, but there are a few items to note. An index of U.S. consumer sentiment is due out at 9 a.m. CST, followed by USDA's monthly cattle on-feed and cold storage reports at 2 p.m. A possible trade meeting is brewing with China and any comments or related news will get attention. Weather Rain and snow are in the Southern Plains, and rain from the far Southern Plains to the eastern Great Lakes, will be the areas of precipitation Friday. Drier conditions will be in place elsewhere.

| Rural Advocate News | Thursday November 21, 2019 |


GREEN Act Would Extend Renewable Energy Tax Incentives A renewable energy bill includes biodiesel tax extenders, although the legislation’s future is uncertain. This week, California Democrat Mike Thompson introduced the Growing Renewable Energy and Efficiency Now, or GREEN Act, in the House of Representatives. Thompson says the bill will “build on existing tax incentives that promote renewable energy and increase efficiency.” The bill would extend the currently expired biodiesel tax credits through a multiyear extension. The legislation would keep the credit at its current rate of $1.00 per gallon for 2018 through 2021 but gradually reduce it to $0.33 per gallon by 2024. The National Biodiesel Board supports the legislation, as the industry seeks certainty. Since the start of the year, ten biodiesel plants have been forced to cut production or close and lay off workers due to policy uncertainty. However, the fate of the bill is unclear, as Democrats and Republicans clash over so-called “green” legislation and climate issues. Among other things, the bill would promote green energy technologies, increase energy efficiency, and support use of zero-emission transportation and infrastructure. ************************************************************************************* Growth Energy Celebrates New York’s Move to E15 Growth Energy calls New York's move to E15 a "major regulatory victory" that will open the nation's fourth-largest fuel market to E15 Under a rule finalized Wednesday by the New York Department of Agriculture. New York will become the newest state to allow the sale of E15, which is approved for all vehicles model year 2001 and newer. Growth Energy CEO Emily Skor says the organization “looks forward to working with retailers across the state to quickly get E15 into the market.” Over the last five years, Growth Energy has worked together with community leaders, retailers, farm advocates, and biofuel supporters across New York to push for an update to the state’s fuel regulations. Western New York Energy President and CEO Timothy Winters says the update “will allow more New York motorists to make their own decisions about purchasing renewable fuel blends.” Last month, American drivers topped 11 billion miles on E15, and adoption rates continue to rise following recent regulatory changes by the EPA to permit year-round sales of the fuel. ************************************************************************************* Farmers Receive 12 Cents of the Thanksgiving Food Dollar Farmers and ranchers take home just 12.1 cents from every dollar that consumers spend on their Thanksgiving dinner meals, according to the National Farmers Union. NFU’s annual Farmer’s Share publication compares the retail food price of traditional holiday dinner items to the amount the farmer receives for each item they grow or raise. On average, farmers receive 14.6 cents of every food dollar consumers spend throughout the year, more than the recent study finds. NFU President Roger Johnson says, “We’re in the midst of the worst farm economic downturn in generations, and we’re hopeful the Farmer’s Share can help illustrate that fact to the general public.” Wheat farmers averaged a meager $0.03 on 12 dinner rolls that retail for $2.69. Dairy producers received only $1.66 from a $4.59 gallon of milk. And turkey growers, who raise the staple Thanksgiving dish, received just $0.06 per pound retailing at $1.49. Johnson says that $0.06 figure—while striking on its own—is particularly shocking when considering the fact that poultry integrators received $0.62 per pound. ************************************************************************************* Plant Response Biotech, Koch Biological Solutions Merge Plant Response Biotech and Koch Biological Solutions, LLC. have combined operations to form Plant Response Biotech, Inc. The new venture will leverage both companies' complementary capabilities, assets and product offerings. Plant Response Biotech is a plant biotechnology company specializing in plant innate immunity, plant physiology and nutrient use efficiency. It has developed several product candidates which are approaching commercial launch status in the areas of drought tolerance and plant health. Koch Biological Solutions focuses on developing science-based, live microbial and biologically derived chemistries that improve plant performance at every stage of growth. Through various modes of action, their biological solutions perform directly on the plant or its environment to improve crop efficiency and nutrient uptake, maximizing yield potential. Tom Warner, chairman of the board for the new Plant Response Biotech, says of the move, "These companies are naturally complementary, and it made tremendous sense to bring the two together.” The new company will be headquartered in Raleigh, North Carolina, with operations in California and Spain. ************************************************************************************* USDA Invests in the Expansion of Rural Education and Health Care Access The Department of Agriculture Wednesday announced a $42.5 million investment for education and telemedicine projects in parts of rural America. The effort will fund 133 projects in 37 states and two U.S. territories through the Distance Learning and Telemedicine grant program, benefiting 5.4 million rural residents. DJ LaVoy, USDA Deputy Under Secretary for Rural Development, says the program helps “rural residents to take advantage of economic, health care and educational opportunities without having to travel long distances.” The funded projects include $488,000 for Mississippi State University to update video conferencing equipment in 93 counties. USDA’s investment will enable participants in extension offices and experiment stations to deliver educational programming to interactive audiences. In Ohio, the Lisbon Exempted Village School District is receiving a $323,000 grant to create a distance learning network at eight sites within one county. The district will offer classes and behavioral health services to 850 students. Information on additional projects funded by the effort is online at www.rd.usda.gov.

| Rural Advocate News | Thursday November 21, 2019 |


Washington Insider: Pressure to Complete the New NAFTA Pressures are building on Democrats from rural areas, many of whom face tough re-elections in 2020, Bloomberg is reporting this week. This group is “pushing their party leaders to complete the U.S., Mexico, Canada trade pact before the end of the year to give them a solid legislative achievement—but also to “undercut GOP criticism that they are doing nothing but impeachment.” “It’s only going to get harder to make a good deal as we get closer and closer to the presidential election,” said Rep. Ben McAdams, D-Utah. “There’s a window right now to get it done.” An agreement between House leaders and U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer is close to being done with enforcement provisions on labor and environment still being ironed out, Bloomberg said. AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka met with freshman Democrats on Tuesday morning to convey the message that it’s important to strengthen labor enforcement in the final deal. Rep. Cindy Axne, D-Iowa, said she told Trumka that while she supported the enforcement of labor regulations, farmers and manufacturers in her district were hurting due to the trade war and tariffs, which a new trade agreement would alleviate. “The longer we wait, [the more] it increases the pain the folks in Iowa like our farmers are getting right now,” she said. Several lawmakers alluded to criticism that they were doing little besides impeachment. President Trump has branded them “Do-Nothing Democrats” despite the 100-plus bills the House passed this year, Bloomberg said. “I was sent here by the people of my district to get things done and one of those big-ticket items is a solid trade deal with Mexico and Canada,” Rep. Anthony Brindisi, D-N.Y., said, leaving the meeting with Trumka. “That’s what my district wants and that’s what I’m trying to get towards.” McAdams said an agreement might be “even more important now, in light of the impeachment inquiry, that we show our constituents that we are still moving forward legislation that is good for the public.” Other lawmakers are working to calm the anxieties of the freshmen by emphasizing the need for not merely a good deal but one they can stand behind for decades. Rep. Elissa Slotkin, D-Mich., said veteran House members warned her they were still facing negative reaction from their 1993 vote on NAFTA. “The senior members are making it very clear that we all understand the stakes,” she said. Rep. Jimmy Gomez, D-Calif., a member of the group of Democrats meeting with Lighthizer, said the freshmen haven’t been shy about making their needs known. “They’re feeling a lot of pressure,” he said. “But in the end, they still need a good agreement to vote for and something they don’t have to run away from.” The trade deal still could get done before the end of the year, although it’s competing for attention and floor time with the impeachment inquiry and with work on an agreement on how to fund the government for the rest of Fiscal Year (FY) 2020. The House passed another continuing resolution Tuesday to fund the government until Dec. 20. Draft language for the trade agreement is being exchanged, Gomez said, and added that the final language could be complete a few days after a final agreement is reached. “Anything is possible, to be honest with you,” he said. So, we will see. Observers argue that work is progressing steadily on the new NAFTA, even though they say they recognize that pressure for speed is often the “enemy of a thoroughly vetted and refined final product.” Nevertheless, there seems to be growing optimism regarding the evolving deal, so the process is one producers should continue to watch closely as it progresses, Washington Insider believes.

| Rural Advocate News | Thursday November 21, 2019 |


Farm Credit System Weathering Farm Income Situation Officials from the Farm Credit System testified before a House Ag subcommittee Tuesday, telling the panel the ag lender is so far weathering the farm income difficulties. Large payouts to farmers under the Market Facilitation Program (MFP) are providing help, officials said, but they noted that farm debt has grown some $41 billion in the last three years. The farm bill safety net programs are working as they should, officials said. USDA next week will update its farm income forecast for 2019 and issue its outlook for 2020 and that is expected to continue to show that government payments are making up a greater share of U.S. farm income. But, conditions remain better than those seen in the 1980s.

| Rural Advocate News | Thursday November 21, 2019 |


FERC Approves Temporary Emergency Shipment of Propane to Midwest Temporary emergency shipment of propane from Texas to the Midwest has been approved by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC). The pipeline company asking for the action said “record demand for propane is due to an unusual coincident increase in heating demand, resulting from unseasonably cold weather in the region, and crop drying demand.” There were no comments or protests filed on the request and FERC determined the matter is accepted effective November 13. In addition, FERC announced it will “initiate an alternative dispute resolution (ADR) process with pipeline companies, shippers and their representatives to explore actions FERC and industry can take to alleviate propane pipeline constraints in the Midwest.”

| Rural Advocate News | Thursday November 21, 2019 |


Thursday Watch List Markets As usual, 7:30 a.m. CST is a busy time Thursday with weekly grain export sales, weekly jobless claims and the U.S. Drought Monitor set for release. Early Thursday, the National Weather Service will have new forecast for December, in addition to its usual forecasts. U.S. existing home sales and leading index of U.S. indicators are out at 9 a.m., followed by natural gas storage at 9:30 a.m. and an update of U.S. propane supplies Thursday afternoon. Weather Thursday features rain and snow in the Midwest, disrupting harvest and transportation. Rain is also in store for portions of the Southern Plains, offering some moisture for winter wheat. In South America, rain is indicated over northeastern crop areas of Brazil.

| Rural Advocate News | Wednesday November 20, 2019 |


USMCA 2019 Deadline Nears Fewer and fewer days remain for Congress to pass the U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement in 2019. Washington is sending mixed signals on whether the deal can be completed this year. Some lawmakers have suggested the House stay in session an extra week, adding time to the calendar to wrap up business before Christmas. Meanwhile, last week, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said a labor deal in USMCA was "imminent." However, President Donald Trump claimed this week Pelosi was holding up the trade deal to gather more votes in favor of impeaching Trump. Representative Richard Neal, who chairs the Democrats USMCA working group, last week suggested union support was within reach, adding “we need it.” AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka met with Pelosi and other Democrats Tuesday, while also vowing during an unrelated speech to not allow Democrats to fold on core issues. Trumka stated that until USMCA includes stronger labor standards, “there is still more work to be done,” according to Reuters. Democrats leaving the meeting were skeptical that an agreement could be reached this year. ************************************************************************************* U.S., South Korea Reach Agreement on Guaranteed Market Access for American Rice The Trump administration Tuesday announced an agreement to allow U.S. rice more market access in South Korea. Under the agreement, Korea will provide access for 132,304 tons of U.S. rice annually, with an annual value of approximately $110 million. Korea also agreed to important disciplines to ensure transparency and predictability around the tendering and auctioning for U.S. rice. U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer says the announcement “will prove enormously beneficial for American producers.” Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue says the exports “are critical for the economic health of the U.S. rice industry,” as half of the U.S. rice crop is exported annually. Perdue called the announcement “another great testament of President Trump’s determination to expand export opportunities” for farmers and ranchers. The agreement gives the U.S. the greatest volume of guaranteed rice market access in Korea ever secured by the United States. Additionally, the agreement provides U.S. suppliers with enhanced disciplines related to the administration of the U.S. country-specific quota. The agreement will enter into force on January 1, 2020. ************************************************************************************* Midwest lawmakers Introduce Fair Trade Legislation A group of Senators from the Upper-Midwest Tuesday introduced a bill to crack down on trade cheating. Legislators say the Play by the Rules Act will hold China accountable for ignoring trade rules and harming American workers. U.S. anti-dumping and countervailing duty laws are designed to stop trade partners from tipping the scales in their favor and forcing American workers to compete at a disadvantage. The rules are widely used and mostly followed by World Trade Organization members. However, nonmarket economies—like China—are engaged in a sophisticated and government-backed effort to avoid paying the duties required by the rules, according to the lawmakers. The bill provides the Commerce Department additional flexibility when reviewing anti-circumvention petitions filed against nonmarket economies like China. The flexibility will allow the Commerce Department to better combat China’s attempts to cheat U.S. workers and businesses. Senate Democrats Tammy Baldwin of Wisconsin, Debbie Stabenow of Michigan, along with Senate Republicans Shelley Moore Capito of West Virginia, and Bill Cassidy of Louisiana, introduced the bipartisan legislation. ************************************************************************************* Tyson to Reopen Kansas Beef Plant Next Month Tyson will reopen a Kansas beef processing facility next month, following repairs prompted by an August fire that disrupted operations at the facility. This week, Tyson announced repairs at the Holcomb, Kansas facility are nearly complete, and efforts to resume beef processing are planned for the first week of December. The company expects the plant to be fully operational by the first week of January. The fire severely damaged a critical part of the plant containing the hydraulic and electrical systems that support the harvest floor and cooler areas. Reconstruction included completely replacing support beams and the roof, hydraulic piping and pumps, installing over 50,000 feet of new wiring and the reconstruction of all new electrical panel rooms and equipment. The fire disrupted cattle markets and processing as the facility reduced industry slaughter capacity by six percent. A Department of Agriculture Investigation into beef pricing practices following the fire should wrap up by the end of this year. ************************************************************************************* USDA Begins 2019 Organic Survey The Department of Agriculture's National Agricultural Statistics Service will mail letters with survey codes this December to more than 22,000 organic producers. Specifically, the surveys target producers involved in certified or transitioning to certified organic farming for the 2019 Organic Survey. Each producer who self-reported organic farming in the 2017 Census of Agriculture will receive a unique survey code to respond conveniently online and to be represented in this once-every-five-year data. The 2019 Organic Survey results will expand on the 2017 Census of Agriculture data by looking at several aspects of organic agriculture during the 2019 calendar year, including production, marketing practices, income, expenses and more. Producers who receive the 2019 Organic Survey are required to respond by federal law, as this survey is part of the Census of Agriculture Program. The same federal law that requires response also requires NASS to keep all individual information confidential. The deadline for response is January 10, 2020. Results will be available in October 2020. For more information about the Organic Survey, visit www.nass.usda.gov. ************************************************************************************* E15 Summer Sales up 46 Percent Growth Energy recently announced that summer sales of E15 increased 46 percent in 2019, compared to 2019, on a per-store basis. E15 contains 15 percent ethanol or another renewable biofuel and is now often sold as Unleaded 88 at the pump. Growth Energy CEO Emily Skor says the “explosive growth in summer sales” demonstrates consumers “will come back again and again,” to E15, once available and they know the benefits of the fuel. She says the industry expects to see interest from retailers and consumers alike continue to grow. 2019 also saw an increase in retailers offering E15. Led by Casey's, the retail industry added 149 stores over the summer months. The 2019 summer driving season was the first summer Unleaded 88 was sold without restriction, and the increase “underscored the fuel's popularity with drivers” who have logged more than 11 billion miles using E15. Earlier this month, Growth Energy announced NASCAR drivers surpassed 15 million miles using E15, since launching a partnership with the ethanol industry in 2011.

| Rural Advocate News | Wednesday November 20, 2019 |


Washington Insider: Working to Avoid Another Congressional Shutdown News from the Congress this week includes a Bloomberg article that focused on efforts to avoid another Congressional shutdown. The report said that House Democrats on Monday released a four-week spending bill negotiated with Republicans to avert at least temporarily a federal government shutdown on Friday. The measure, which would extend funding through Dec. 20, would also keep the Export-Import Bank open through that date and would allow the Census Bureau to spend money at a higher rate to prepare for the 2020 head count, prevent an automatic cut to highway funding next year and provide the military with a 3.1% pay increase. The House announced plans to vote on the bill early this week, according to House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer, D-Md. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., said that Republican-controlled chamber will also vote on the measure this week. Current funding runs out at the end of the day Thursday. However, in spite of the high level of political tension just now, it appears that almost nobody wants another shutdown. For example, the White House has indicated that President Donald Trump is ready to sign the measure, McConnell said. Elements of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act set to expire on Dec. 15 would be extended through March 15, 2020 under the proposal. The provisions allow expanded authority to wiretap terrorism suspects and to examine business records related to terrorism investigations. In addition, Senator Rand Paul, R-Ky., who opposes the FISA extension and single-handedly triggered a brief shutdown in the past, said Monday he doesn’t expect to block passage of the measure this week--although he hasn’t made a final decision. The bill would extend funding for community health centers through Dec. 20 and increase funding to combat Ebola in Africa. It would also provide a payment to the widow of the late Maryland Representative Elijah Cummings, a standard practice. The short-term spending measure is needed because Congress has failed to agree on any of the 12 annual spending bills needed to fund government agencies for the fiscal year that began Oct. 1. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin agreed in July on a $1.3 trillion budget cap for fiscal 2020, raising hopes that the 12 spending bills could be enacted quickly. Instead, disputes over President Trump’s border wall have hampered the appropriations committees’ ability to set top spending levels for each of the 12 bills under the overall cap. The administration budget asked for $9 billion in new wall funding and Senate Republicans have proposed providing $5 billion, while House Democrats have vowed to provide no new money. The two parties are also arguing over whether to replenish military accounts that the president raided earlier this year to fund the wall, a move that has been challenged in court and which Democrats argue was unconstitutional. Pelosi and Mnuchin met last week with Senate Appropriations Chairman Richard Shelby, R-Ala., and House Appropriations Chairwoman Nita Lowey, D-N.Y., to try to break the impasse. Afterward, Lowey said the group is aiming for a deal on top spending levels by the end of this week, but talks have made little headway. The White House has said the president would be willing to sign a stopgap spending bill as long as it doesn’t hinder the president’s executive authorities, including the ability to spend the transferred wall money. So, we will see. Most of the Washington tea-leaf readers are being extremely cautious just now even though it appears that few, if any, are actively pushing for another shutdown fight. Still, these are certainly tense times and even the development of the annual budget should be watched closely as it proceeds, Washington Insider believes.

| Rural Advocate News | Wednesday November 20, 2019 |


Global Trade Is Set To Stay Weak As 2019 Draws To A Close The World Trade Organization's trade barometer shows some stabilization for the global flow of goods, albeit at low levels. The WTO's Goods Trade Barometer recorded signs of a pickup in export orders, container shipping and automobile shipments, offset by weakness in airfreight, and shipments of raw materials and electronic components. This signals international trade is likely to end the year having risen at the slowest pace since 2009. Trade flows have been weakened by several developments, including the U.S.-China trade war and a slowdown in the global automobile industry.

| Rural Advocate News | Wednesday November 20, 2019 |


Farmer Payments Continue to Add Up Via MFP As USDA starts issuing the second round of payments under the 2019 Market Facilitation Program (MFP 2) this week, county FSA offices have been directed to prioritize processing the payments and wrap up that exercise by November 22. USDA said in a release the payments would go out from November 18-28. As the second round of payments starts rolling, the payouts thus far under MFP 2 total $6.899 billion. That includes $6.58 billion for non-specialty crops, $69.7 million for specialty crops, and $252 million for livestock. Midwest states and Texas lead the top states in terms of dollars received under the MFP 2 effort so far. The second round of payments is expected to total around $3.6 billion.

| Rural Advocate News | Wednesday November 20, 2019 |


Wednesday Watch List Markets In addition to weather and any news updates on trade with China, the U.S. Energy Department will release its weekly report of energy inventories, including ethanol, at 9:30 a.m. CST. At 1 p.m. CST, the Federal Reserve will release minutes from its most recent FOMC meeting, offering clues to future interest rate changes. Weather Wednesday will be dry across primary crop areas, offering one more day of favorable harvest conditions. The pattern turns wetter and colder with rain and snow Thursday. There is still almost one quarter of the U.S. corn crop still unharvested.

| Rural Advocate News | Tuesday November 19, 2019 |


Washington Insider: The President and the Fed It seems like a strange world when a presidential meeting with his Fed chair attracts significant media attention but the press is focusing pretty heavily on the recent session President Donald Trump held with Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin to discuss the economy. For example, Bloomberg noted that it was the second face-to-face sit-down this year “amid relentless White House criticism of the U.S. central bank.” Powell’s comments “were consistent with his remarks at congressional hearings last week,” the Fed told the press after the meeting adding that the gathering was at the president’s invitation. Bloomberg emphasized that the meeting came amid a steady stream of criticism of the Fed as the president “makes his economic record the center of his bid for re-election next year.” His attacks included an August tweet asking “Who is our bigger enemy, Jay Powell or Chairman Xi?" The report said the comments “shattered a decades-long White House tradition of avoiding public comment on monetary policy out of respect for the Fed’s independence.” In the recent meeting, Powell “did not discuss his expectations for monetary policy, except to stress that the path of policy will depend entirely on incoming information that bears on the outlook for the economy,” the Fed said. The President subsequently tweeted that they’d had a “very good & cordial meeting” and had discussed a range of issues including “interest rates, negative interest, low inflation, easing, dollar strength & its effect on manufacturing, trade with China, EU & others, etc.” The dollar dropped to a session low amid gains in the euro after press reports that that negative interest rates had been among their topics of conversation. Powell last week called the U.S. economy a “star” performer and voiced solid confidence that its record expansion will stay on track. He and other Fed officials have consistently said that European or Japan-style negative interest rates would not be appropriate in the U.S. Still, the chairman’s remarks on the economy reinforced a sense that officials judge they have done enough to keep the economy on track after three rate cuts this year and that monetary policy is now on a prolonged hold as long as the outlook remains favorable. Trump has publicly raged against Powell and the Fed for many months, complaining about the rate increases during 2018 and continuing to pound the central bank this year even as it has cut rates to keep a record U.S. expansion on track — as the president “seeks to deflect blame for slowing growth that many have pinned on his trade war with China,” Bloomberg said. With less than a year until the 2020 vote, the U.S. economy has been generally holding up this year on resilient consumption. GDP increased at a 1.9% annualized rate in the third quarter, though that was down from 2% in the second quarter and 3.1% in the opening three months of the year. Powell had dinner with Trump in February and the two have spoken since by telephone. Meetings between a president and Fed chief are rare but not unprecedented. Meetings this year, however, have come amid repeated public criticism by Trump that culminated late last year with press reports in December that the president had discussed firing the man he picked to lead the central bank. That direct threat to Fed independence — an article of faith among investors in U.S. assets, contributed to already steep stock-market losses that turned the month into the worst December for U.S. equities since the Great Depression. While the President has been critical of the Fed, he was responsible for choosing candidates for its policy-setting committee including four of the five current members. However, two vacancies remain open and he announced his intention to nominate at least somewhat controversial people for those jobs — most recently in July when he named Trump supporter Judy Shelton and St. Louis Fed research chief Christopher Waller. However, he has yet to actually nominate either. So, we will see. While the Fed appears to believe that several sectors of the economy are slowing, it also appears determined to avoid any significant exposure to inflationary policies or to weaken its political independence — policies investors widely applaud. This is a high stakes debate especially in these extremely politicized times and involves numerous battles producers should watch closely as they emerge, Washington Insider believes.

| Rural Advocate News | Tuesday November 19, 2019 |


US-China Trade Talks Labeled ‘Constructive’ U.S. and Chinese trade negotiators held “constructive discussions” in a phone call on Saturday to address each side’s core concerns of Phase One of the trade deal. China’s Vice Premier Liu He spoke with Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin and U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer, according to the Chinese Commerce Ministry. The call was held at the request of the U.S. negotiators, and the two sides agreed to remain in close communication, it said in a statement. President Donald Trump had not yet agreed to remove any tariffs as part of a deal, and the size of China's commitment to purchase U.S. farm products was not yet clear, Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross said on Friday in an interview on Fox Business Network. China's reluctance to commit to a specific amount of farm purchases remains a sticking point in the talks, as is U.S. reluctance to roll back tariffs.

| Rural Advocate News | Tuesday November 19, 2019 |


Midwest Lawmakers Press Energy Regulator for Action on Propane Midwest lawmakers are pressing the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) to address issues with propane supply problems in the region, which are impacting producers as they seek to harvest this year’s corn crop. “Farmers are calling our offices looking for answers about what can be done,” said a group of House lawmakers led by House Ag Committee Chairman Collin Peterson, D-Minn. “Those who are lucky enough to have crops to harvest this year are now struggling with drying a wet corn crop.” Wet corn put into storage can start to spoil in as little as three days, the lawmakers pointed out. The lawmakers noted that trucks have been running to Kansas and Texas to bring additional supplies back to the Midwest, “and we appreciate efforts taken by several state governors and the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration to assist companies in this effort.” Iowa Republican Sens. Chuck Grassley and Joni Ernst also penned a letter to FERC Chairman Neil Chatterjee, asking the regulator to address the situation. “We understand that the nationwide supply of propane is adequate, but it is not in Iowa,” the letter said. Those with crops still standing in fields face issues, the letter said, along with livestock and poultry producers who are “concerned about supply with the winter months ahead,” with their offices receiving “numerous” calls. “As farmers continue to face obstacles with the trade disputes and late harvest this year, the cold weather and propane issue compounds frustration and financial struggles,” the Iowa lawmakers said.

| Rural Advocate News | Tuesday November 19, 2019 |


Tuesday Watch List Markets The only report on Tuesday's docket is U.S. housing starts, due out at 7:30 a.m. CST. North and South American weather forecasts remain of interest as well as any trade news concerning China. Weather Dry conditions will be in place over almost all primary crop areas Tuesday. Precipitation will be confined to light rain in the immediate Great Lakes. Conditions will generally favor late harvest for one more day before snow develops in the Northern Plains during midweek.

| Rural Advocate News | Monday November 18, 2019 |


USDA Announces Second Round of MFP Payments Ag Secretary Sonny Perdue announced the second round of Market Facilitation Program payments will be heading out to farmers suffering from trade retaliation by foreign nations. The payments will begin the week before Thanksgiving. Producers of eligible commodities will now be eligible to get 25 percent of the total payment expected, in addition to the 50 percent they already received. “The second round of payments, along with the already provided disaster assistance, will give farmers, who’ve had a tough year due to unfair trade retaliation and natural disasters, much-needed funds in time for Thanksgiving,” Perdue says. “While we continue to have confidence in the President’s negotiations with China, this money will show that President Trump is following through on his promise to help and support farmers as he continues to fight for fair market access. Earlier this year, President Trump authorized USDA to provide up to $16 billion in aid through various programs, which is in line with the estimated impact of the retaliatory tariffs on U.S. agricultural goods and other trade disruptions. ********************************************************************************************* Monopoly Concerns Surround DFA Acquisition of Dean Foods Dean Foods, one of America’s largest dairy companies, filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy last week. A New Food Economy report says that leaves a lot of dairy producers up in the air about where they’ll be selling their milk in the future. The timing of the bankruptcy couldn’t be worse as milk prices are still low, even though they’ve bounced back somewhat in recent months. In the announcement last week, Dean Foods said it was “engaged in advance talks with Dairy Farmers of America about a possible acquisition.” DFA is the country’s biggest dairy cooperative. However, one antitrust expert says the potential deal causes serious concerns about anti-competitive activity. Cooperatives negotiate with processors like Dean Foods on behalf of producers to get the best price they can for their farmers. “The problem with DFA is the conflict of interest that will result from trying to lower prices to farmers to increase their revenue as a milk producer,” says Peter Carstensen, a University of Wisconsin Law School Professor. Some farmers have accused the co-op in the past of trying to suppress milk prices to maximize its profits. Dairy Farmers of America represents over 13,000 dairy producers and controls 30 percent of the milk production in the U.S. ********************************************************************************************* Moderate Democrats Now Pushing for USMCA More than a dozen House Democrats from key battleground states are now trying to rally support for the U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement. Politico says they held a special caucus meeting to talk through the issue. The push marks the newest sign that moderate House Democrats are getting impatient over a lack of movement toward getting the deal finally done. Some of the moderate Democrats worried about potential pushback from progressives, which they did get from Representatives Jan Schakowsky (Sha-KOW-skee) and Bill Pascrell. Schakowsky did say after the meeting that she’s confident they can reach an agreement before the end of this year. However, she cautioned those who are “anxious just to move the deal,” saying they need to make sure it gets done the right way. Late last week, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi gave a positive indication of USCMA’s fate in Congress. The California Democrat said a deal between House Democrats and the Trump Administration was “imminent.” Politico says that means an announcement could be coming within days. “I do believe if we can get this to a place it needs to be, which is imminent, this can be a template for future trade agreements,” she said. “A good template.” ********************************************************************************************** Biodiesel Coalition Sends Joint Letter to Congress on Tax Incentives The National Biodiesel Board teamed up with 140 member companies, allied trade associations, and industry partners to send a letter to House and Senate leadership on expired tax incentives. They’re asking Congress to extend those incentives before the end of 2019. The Hagstrom Report says the letter attempts to convince Congressional leadership that an “immediate extension of the biodiesel tax incentive is vital to prevent a severe economic disruption of the U.S. biodiesel industry.” The groups say 10 biodiesel plants have closed or cut back on production since the start of 2019. Several hundred workers have been furloughed and as the economic impact spreads across the U.S. economy, it will impact more than 7,500 jobs. Connecticut, Georgia, Indiana, Iowa, Michigan, Mississippi, Missouri, Pennsylvania, and Texas have all seen work slowdowns or stoppages at their biodiesel plants. NBB Vice President of Federal Affairs Kurt Kovarik says an immediate extension of the tax credit is vital to prevent more plants from closing, more production cutbacks, as well as potentially many more jobs being lost. “Continued uncertainty about the tax incentive impacts businesses, workers, and industry partners across the economy and in every state,” Kovarik adds. “The number of companies and trade groups that joined us on the letter demonstrates the broad impact of the expired incentives.” ********************************************************************************************** Farm Finances Weaken Further Amid Uncertainty Farm credit conditions within the Federal Reserve’s Tenth District steadily deteriorated in the third quarter of 2019. The Kansas City Fed Report says in spite of a slight increase in the price of some agricultural goods, as well as additional support from government payments, farm income declined at a modest pace. Loan repayment rates also declined at a modest pace in the third quarter. District bankers say agricultural economic conditions were influenced by uncertainty about crop production, agricultural trade uncertainty, as well as a variety of other factors, all contributed to commodity price fluctuations. Continuing weakness in the ag sector put even more pressure on farm finances. Signs of modest increases in credit stress continued in the third quarter of 2019. Farm borrowers made additional cuts in spending in response to the continued lower-revenue environment. 75 percent of bankers reported farmer working capital deteriorated at least modestly in 2019, compared with 90 percent as recently as 2016. However, farmland values continue to be a positive note in the sector. Those values remained stable and continue to provide ongoing support to an otherwise struggling economic sector. ********************************************************************************************** House Ag Chair Leads Letter on Midwest Propane Shortages House Ag Committee Chair Collin Peterson of Minnesota and a group of bipartisan lawmakers sent a letter to the Chair of the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission. The letter sent on behalf of farmers and rural residents in the Midwest is intended to bring awareness of the need for a continued supply of propane to the Midwest states. The letter details how farmers and grain elevator operators are dealing with propane shortages while trying to finish harvest and prepare their grain for storage. The propane shortage is hitting because of early cold temperatures in the region, which has picked up residential use of propane to heat homes. Back in 2014, the commission took extraordinary measures to address catastrophic conditions and shortages of propane. The letter is intended to remind commissioners that they do have the tools needed to help address the conditions facing rural communities. The letter says, “We hope to avoid a disastrous situation with cold temperatures and snow in the forecast spiking demand for residential deliveries just as farms are needing to heat poultry and livestock barns. Crop farmers also need to dry down their commodities after one of the most frustrating harvest seasons in years.”

| Rural Advocate News | Monday November 18, 2019 |


Washington Insider: Trade Policy Frictions and Evolution A major effort is underway now to build some form of agreement with China over trade policy, Bloomberg reported last week, but there also is a new cottage industry in Washington trying to predict what the next steps in these talks actually will be. Amid all that speculation, Bloomberg notes that although the administration began the fight with a carefully “calibrated trade weapon,” intended to rebalance the relationship between the world’s two biggest economies and to achieve a goal of forcing wholesale changes in China’s economic architecture while limiting the pain to businesses and consumers at home.” The original list of Chinese-made products was valued at $34 billion, matched an estimate of the annual cost to U.S. businesses of Chinese intellectual-property theft and forced technology transfers. “The items on the list were selected for their potential to inflict pain on industries Beijing has designated as strategically important while taking into account the potential disruption to U.S. supply chains. The task also was intended to throttle back China’s imports without endangering the president’s promised economic boom. However, that list was equal to 7% of the $505 billion in goods the U.S. imported from China in 2017 — and was seen as “almost as an affront” by the President who decreed it was “too low and demanded it be rounded up to at least $50 billion.” The result is what began as methodical, calculated penalties quickly became “a tit-for-tat tariff war” that includes more than 70% of bilateral trade in goods and threatens to decouple two economies that once seemed destined to become progressively more intertwined. In addition, if the two countries can’t resolve at least some of their differences quickly the White House will on Dec. 15 add 15% punitive tariffs on a further $160 billion—a move Bloomberg thinks “could jeopardize America’s record-long expansion.” These disruptions may yet be averted. President Trump and China’s president, Xi Jinping, appear intent on reaching at least a partial truce by mid-December and in mid-Nov President Trump again signaled he would refrain from a new tariff assault if Beijing agrees to a “phase one” deal that hinges largely on it stepping up U.S. agricultural purchases to as much as $50 billion within two years and curtailing intellectual-property theft. President Donald Trump sees this first step as the start of a more comprehensive agreement but Chinese officials quietly say they see any future successful phases as unlikely and that commodity purchases will at first simply be at the level they were before the Trump tariffs. Skeptics in the Trump administration also question whether Beijing is willing to close a larger transformative deal with a president running for reelection amid a slowing economy. Politicians and businesses across the board agree that the administration was right to take on China but many disagree with the approach used. At the same time, the issues being tackled in a first phase of the trade deal are much narrower than the ambitious goals the White House once claimed for itself. Douglas Irwin, an economic historian at Dartmouth, cautions that while Trump created an opportunity, he risks squandering it as well. “Are we going to look back and say, ‘This was all a failure’? I don’t think so,” says Wendy Cutler, a former U.S. trade negotiator who leads the Asia Society Policy Institute. “But if we end up comparing what they’re able to accomplish vs. their initial objectives, their accomplishments are going to fall way short. But wow, they certainly raised the stakes and certainly allowed U.S. interests to suffer through the tariffs in this effort.” Bloomberg argues that the picture that emerges from the administration’s policy moves focuses on its “impetuousness that confounded attempts at strategy.” Fears of an economic slowdown in the U.S. that coalesced in August appear to have changed the equation. Despite the diminished expectations, Trump and his allies are quick to defend his handling of the trade war. Critics, on the other hand, point to a U.S. trade deficit that’s on track to end 2019 some $150 billion larger than at the end of 2016 when the administration took office. A U.S. business community that wants both a short-term end to the uncertainty and longer-term fundamental changes in China’s economic governance is also wondering if it was all worth it. “What we all need now is a trade truce,” says Myron Brilliant, who heads the international division at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. Whether the fight will prove worth it “will depend on what comes next.” Irwin, the Dartmouth professor, says that during the War of 1812, one slogan was “on to Canada!” — a promise to annex new territories. When the war ended it was, ‘Not one inch of territory ceded!’ ” The president “launched the trade war against China and promised to remake the economy.” Irwin says. “We are ending it by saying, ‘They are buying just as much stuff as they did before.’” So, we will see. This is certainly a political tense moment in Washington and both sides have extremely complicated perspectives. Certainly, the trade dialogue should be watched very closely as it unfolds over the coming weeks, Washington Insider believes.

| Rural Advocate News | Monday November 18, 2019 |


USDA’s McKinney Says Deputy-Level Talks Ongoing With China USDA Undersecretary Ted McKinney told Todd Gleason of the University of Illinois that there have been deputy level talks via video conference that have been ongoing. McKinney puts odds at “better than 50%” that there will be a signed agreement. “The warming trend continues,” he noted. However, in his remarks at the National Association of Farm Broadcasting, he said, “Maybe we can get to an eventual signing of a phase one agreement. There were a lot of negotiations going on and then they withdrew, backslid on a number of things.” But things are in “a warming trend,” he observed. “We’ve got a number of things lined to sell if they agree to it,” McKinney said. “But we also have to have some structural changes. We have been led down this path before only to see promises fizzle.” As for the deal, McKinney said, “So unless there is some enforcement opportunity, and unless there are some changes, even modest changes, in structural… how they apply things like please approve biotech traits at a time sooner than eight years, those kinds of things are very, very important and must haves. So we will see, but I am very optimistic.”

| Rural Advocate News | Monday November 18, 2019 |


Commerce’s Ross Sees High Probability of Phase One Deal With China Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross was interviewed on Fox Business News this morning and stated he felt there were high odds of a Phase One trade deal between the U.S. and China. “You do not really have a deal on anything until you have a deal on everything, so it is not surprising that at the very last minutes pieces of bouncing around occur,” Ross stated. “But I think the main thing is what the President said at the rally last night: China wants to make a deal. We think we would like to make a deal if it is the right deal. This will get done in all likelihood.” He also observed that the Phase One deal is “relatively limited in scope” and the debate now is on the level of that limitation. “What is really being debated is how much limitation will there be on the scope of Phase One relative to Phase Two or maybe Phase Three. So, let's see what comes out. The devil is always in the details. And we are down to the last details now.” Ross was asked if China will stop stealing intellectual property and will President Trump remove the tariffs. Ross replied, “The president has not agreed to move the time so I think he made that pretty clear the other day, but let's just see what comes. I think the important thing is, it looks as though there will be this first giant step toward peace and quiet today with the Chinese, that is the important thing to focus on. We will see the details as they come through, and they are going to be good details or else the President will not go along with this.”

| Rural Advocate News | Monday November 18, 2019 |


Monday Watch List Markets A typical Monday schedule is in store with traders catching up on the latest weather forecasts for North and South America and any comments about trade that might have happened over the weekend. USDA's weekly report of grain export inspections is set for 10 a.m. CST, followed by the Crop Progress report at 3 p.m. Weather Monday features light rain in the northern Plains, causing some harvest delays. Other primary crop areas will be dry. Temperatures will have a wide range from below normal in the Midwest to much above normal in the southwestern Plains.

| Rural Advocate News | Friday November 15, 2019 |


China Drops Ban on U.S. Poultry Imports Ag Secretary Sonny Perdue and U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer are both pleased that China lifted it’s “unwarranted ban” on U.S. poultry imports. “This is great news for both America’s farmers and China’s consumers,” Lighthizer said. “China is an important export market for America’s poultry farmers, and we estimate they will now be able to export more than $1 billion worth of poultry each year to China.” He says reopening China to U.S. poultry will also support thousands of workers employed by the U.S. poultry industry. Perdue says, “America’s producers are the most productive in the world and it’s critical they can sell to consumers in other parts of the world.” China had banned all U.S. poultry imports since January of 2015 because of an avian influenza outbreak, even though the U.S. has been free of the disease since August of 2017. The U.S. had exported more than $500 million worth of poultry products to China in 2013. The United States is the world’s second-largest poultry exporter, with global exports of poultry meat and products totaling $4.3 billion last year. ********************************************************************************************** Poultry Organizations say China Access Worth Billions The National Chicken Council, the National Turkey Federation, and USA Poultry and Egg Export Council all applaud China’s decision to lift its ban on U.S. poultry products. The ban had been in place since 2015 when the U.S. was hit by an outbreak of highly pathogenic avian influenza in America’s poultry flocks. In a statement, the groups say, “Lifting the ban has been a top priority of the U.S. poultry industry for the past four years. “We thank administration officials, congressional leaders and their staffs, all of whom worked tirelessly to reach an agreement with China and ensure the poultry industry has access to this vital market.” This represents a potentially significant opportunity for U.S. chicken and turkey producers. Renewed access to China could results in $1 billion every year for chicken paws alone. Because China has been hit hard by African Swine Fever, it could mean up to another $1 billion worth of potential exports of other chicken products like leg and breast meat. Turkey exports could be worth another $100 million in sales and poultry breeding stock worth at least another $60 million dollars. The groups say, “America’s poultry producers are pleased to once again have a chance to share their high-quality, nutritious products with Chinese consumers in the weeks to come.” ********************************************************************************************** Japan Likely to Vote on U.S. Trade Pact Next Week Media reports in Japan are saying that the parliament is likely to start voting on a trade pact with the U.S. sometime next week. The lower house of the Japanese Diet will take up the pact next Wednesday, while the upper house, called the House of Councilors, will begin considering the deal the next day. A Japan Times report says Japan’s parliament had wanted to hold their votes this week, but complications came about from opposition lawmakers, who demanded that minutes of the meetings between President Donald Trump and Prime Minister Shinzo Abe (AH-bay) be released. Trump wants the deal implemented by January 1, which will likely happen as both houses of parliament are expected to pass the agreement. Trump and Abe announced in September that the countries had reached a deal on the first phase of a trade pace that will have a positive impact on U.S. commodities, including beef, wheat, and pork. An Agri-Pulse report says Japan agreed to cut or eliminate tariffs on $7.2 billion worth of American ag products. The Asian country will also install new quotas that will help to boost import levels of U.S. farm goods even further. ********************************************************************************************** U.S., China Negotiations still Working through Sticky Subjects The U.S. and China are still trying to put the final touches on a limited trade agreement that will involve Chinese purchases of U.S. ag commodities. The question appears to be just how much those purchases will amount to. A CNBC report says the two sides appear to be stuck in a stalemate, even though they announced a tentative agreement a month ago. A Wall Street Journal report says China is hesitant about writing down a specific amount of agricultural purchases in the actual text of the trade agreement. President Donald Trump said last month that China had agreed to purchase up to $50 billion in U.S. farm products. The two sides are still expecting to sign the limited trade agreement later this month. China is still insisting that the two sides roll back their tariffs as part of the agreement, something the U.S. opposes. White House Economic Adviser Larry Kudlow tells CNBC that no agreement will be made on rolling back tariffs until the trade deal is signed. He did say the U.S. and China have progressed in talks on subjects like IP theft, financial services, currency stability, commodities, and agriculture. The administration has slapped tariffs on more than $500 billion in Chinese imports, while China has retaliated with duties on $10 billion worth of American imports. ********************************************************************************************** Emergency Funds Secured to Dredge Mississippi River Wisconsin Representative Ron Kind, along with Minnesota Representatives Angie Craig and Betty McCollum, announced they have secured emergency funding for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. The funds will help the Corps to address the impacts of this spring’s devastating floods on the Mississippi River. As a direct result of the flooding, the Mississippi River and many others in the Inland Waterway System have higher sedimentation levels in their riverbeds. The system is responsible for one-sixth of the nation’s intercity cargo and 25 percent of foreign exports. The Army Corps of Engineers needs to increase dredging to overcome those rising sediment levels, allowing barges to navigate successfully. “I’m proud to have worked with my colleagues across the Mississippi River to obtain the funding,” Kind says. “How, the Corps will have the resources they need to make sure the Mississippi remains open for business. Craig points out that farmers, families, and communities depend on the Mississippi River to export goods and to drive economic growth. McCollum says, “This disaster aid will help agricultural businesses fully recover so they can look to the future.” ********************************************************************************************** USDA Offering Flexibility on Crop Insurance Premiums The USDA’s Risk Management Agency says it will continue to defer accrual of interest for 2019 crop year insurance premiums to help farmers hit hard by extreme weather. More specifically, USDA will defer the accrual of interest on 2019 crop year insurance programs to the earlier of the applicable termination date or January 31 of 2020, for all policies with a premium billing date of August 15, 2019. The extension is necessary because harvest has been very delayed, and crop insurance claims typically aren’t settled until after the harvest. That puts an even bigger squeeze on farmers and their cash flow. USDA Undersecretary for Farm Production and Conservation Bill Northey made the announcement during the NAFB convention in Kansas City. “USDA is committed to helping farmers and ranchers impacted by the weather challenges this year, and we hope this deferral will help ease cash flow challenges for producers, many of whom are dealing with serious harvest delays.” The extended deferral builds on other steps USDA has taken to support farmers and ranchers impacted by flooding and other disasters. More than $3 billion in assistance is available through the disaster-relief package passed by Congress and signed by President Trump.

| Rural Advocate News | Friday November 15, 2019 |


Washington Insider: Powell on Interest Rates and Economic Stability Bloomberg is reporting this week that Fed Chair Jerome Powell told the Joint Economic Committee of Congress on Wednesday that interest rates are “probably on hold after three straight reductions,” while signaling that the U.S. central bank could resume cutting if the growth outlook falters. “We see the current stance of monetary policy as likely to remain appropriate as long as incoming information about the economy remains broadly consistent with our outlook,” Powell said. However, he emphasized, “noteworthy risks to this outlook remain.” Bloomberg noted that Powell’s comments on Wednesday largely echoed his message on Oct. 30 after the Fed’s third rate cut this year. He cited slowing global growth and trade developments as “ongoing risks.” And, he added that persistently low inflation could lead to an “unwelcome” slide in the public’s longer-run expectations of inflation. Powell said the Federal Open Market Committee cut the policy rate, which is now in a range of 1.5% to 1.75%, to support growth and move inflation back to the 2% target. He said the committee was prepared to respond to a “material reassessment” of its outlook, and the tone of his remarks suggest that downside risks for now outweigh the possibility of economic overheating. Explaining why wages haven’t moved up with the unemployment rate at 3.6%, Powell said it could be a sign that there is still slack in the labor market. “It also may be that the neutral rate of interest is lower than we have been thinking and that therefore our policy is less accommodative than we have been thinking. We are letting the data speak to us.” The comments suggest that the rate cuts this year weren’t entirely about insuring against a global slowdown but also about recalibrating interest costs to an economy where inflation has remained stubbornly low. “We continue to hear from him that they can run the economy with lower rates of unemployment than they thought they could,” said Michael Gapen, chief U.S. economist at Barclays Plc. “That underscores that they expect there to be a high bar to raising rates.” Asked if he meant to signal that policy was on hold through next year, Powell responded “I wouldn’t say that at all” before repeating the line from his opening remarks on policy likely to remain appropriate as long as the economy stays on track. “We do think monetary policy is in a good place, but we’re going to be watching very carefully incoming data,” he said. Yields on 10-year Treasury notes were steady around 1.87% following the testimony while U.S. stocks were higher in New York trading, Bloomberg said. Powell and the Fed have been relentlessly criticized by President Trump, who has blamed the central bank’s policies, rather than the U.S.-China trade war, for a slowdown in the U.S. economy as he increasingly focuses on the 2020 re-election campaign. “We’re paying actually high interest. We should be paying by far the lowest interest,” Trump said Tuesday in New York, complaining that by shunning the negative interest rates deployed by other central banks, the Fed “puts us at a competitive disadvantage.” Powell argued that “politics played no role whatsoever in the Fed’s policy decisions,” which were based on the analysis of the data. He also said that negative rates “would certainly not be appropriate in the current environment.” U.S. economic data have continued to show strength among households and financial conditions have eased with stocks touching record highs on Wall Street this month. Consumer sentiment improved for a third month in November, according to the University of Michigan’s preliminary sentiment index, while employers added 128,000 new jobs in October. Powell said the Fed expected some easing in the pace of job gains after last year’s strong pace. Manufacturing and business investment continue to lag, however. A gauge of U.S. manufacturing signaled the sector contracted for a third straight month with the weakest production level since the last recession. “The outlook is still a positive one. There is no reason this expansion can’t continue,” Powell said. “There is a lot to like about this rare place of the 11th year of an expansion and we’re certainly committed to [support].” So, we will see. Chairman Powell has been eager to deny that any political pressure is reflected in ongoing Fed policy in spite of the president’s criticism — a posture that may become more difficult to defend as the 2020 election approaches. That tension also could involve high stakes for producers and should be watched closely if it intensifies, Washington Insider believes.

| Rural Advocate News | Friday November 15, 2019 |


China Lifts Bird-Flu Linked Import Restrictions On US Poultry China announced it will lift its ban on imports of poultry meat from the U.S., making official the plan that was announced by China’s Commerce Ministry in late October. The measure has now been published by the country’s Customs Administration. The move comes after USDA’s Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) published a rule in the Federal Register that would allow cooked/processed poultry products from birds slaughtered in China to come into the U.S. U.S. poultry has not had access to the Chinese market since the U.S. bird flu outbreak. The market could result in around $1 billion or more in sales of U.S. poultry to China, particularly with demand for protein sources other than pork rising in the wake of African swine fever.

| Rural Advocate News | Friday November 15, 2019 |


China says in-depth talks going on with US The U.S. and China are holding in-depth discussions on Phase One of a trade deal, with the cancellation of tariffs a key issue, according to Commerce Ministry spokesman Gao Feng. "China has emphasized many times that the trade war began with additional tariffs and should end with the cancellation of additional tariffs," said Gao. “If both sides reach a 'Phase One' deal, the degree of tariff cancellation should fully reflect the importance of the 'phase one' deal; and its importance should be appraised by both sides together. Both sides are conducting in-depth discussions on this now.” However, Gao did not appear to have addressed the issue of increased buys of U.S. commodities, a U.S. demand in the negotiations in the Phase One deal and a component of the deal that the Wall Street Journal reported Wednesday was the latest sticking point. China sources indicated the country was reluctant to put specific dollar amounts into the agreement. But it is clear that getting tariffs removed is a key for the Chinese. "Cancelling tariffs is in the interests of producers, consumers, China, the U.S., and the world," Gao stated. President Donald Trump Wednesday indicated the talks between the two sides were going “rapidly” and he did not reprise his threat to raise tariffs on China in the event an agreement is not reached.

| Rural Advocate News | Friday November 15, 2019 |


Friday Watch List Markets USDA's weekly report of grain export sales will get early attention Friday at 7:30 a.m. CST, along with a report on U.S. retail sales. Industrial production is released at 8:15 a.m., followed by a monthly soybean crush estimate from the National Oilseed Processors Association later Friday morning. Weather Friday will be dry in all crop areas, favorable for harvest. Conditions will be notably warmer, especially in the Plains.

| Rural Advocate News | Thursday November 14, 2019 |


Court Tosses Out Lawsuit on Biofuel Waivers A federal court dismissed one of the multiple lawsuits challenging the Environmental Protection Agency’s use of small refinery exemptions. The Washington, D.C., District Court of Appeals said in its ruling that the Advanced Biofuels Association didn’t “identify a final agency action” in the lawsuit it filed back in May of 2018. The biofuels group said the EPA was exceeding its authority when it granted a larger number of waivers under the Renewable Fuels Standard to small oil refineries. A DTN report says even though the court threw out the case, it did note that the industry concerns raised by the group seem valid. “To be sure, the EPA’s briefing and oral argument paint a troubling picture of intentionally shrouded and hidden agency law that could have left those troubled by the agency’s actions without a viable avenue for judicial review.” The EPA has granted a total of 85 waivers since 2016. Those waivers accounted for 4.04 billion gallons of biofuels that weren’t blended into the nation’s fuel supply. The EPA is currently seeking public comment on its proposal to account for gallons waived in the 2020 RFS volumes proposal, which biofuel and agricultural groups are not in favor of. ********************************************************************************************** Trump: Trade War is “Good for Business” President Donald Trump defended his tariff policies during a speech on Tuesday at the Economic Club of New York. Politico says he denied that his erratic trade policies are causing uncertainty for U.S. businesses. Trump doubled down, saying the U.S. would “actually be in much worse shape” over the long term if he wasn’t aggressively challenging China right now. Despite the negative impact on farming, manufacturing, and other economic sectors, Trump has plenty of positive ammunition. Some of the positive economic data include unemployment down to 3.6 percent in October, while consumer confidence surveys remain high. However, Politico points out that economic growth is on a course to slow to about 2.3 percent this year. Growth may even be on track to slow further in 2020. The Port of Los Angeles says Trump’s tariffs are threatening nearly 1.5 million American jobs and over $186 billion in economic activity across the nation. Trump is also claiming that the U.S. and China are closing in on a partial ‘Phase One’ trade agreement, even though the sides are still negotiating over tariff rollbacks after the deal is signed. ********************************************************************************************** Trump Pressuring Pelosi for USMCA Vote While the House impeachment hearings got started on Wednesday, Republicans are trying to make the case that the issue is making it difficult to pass the U.S.-Mexico-Canada Trade Agreement. Speaking Tuesday in New York, President Trump said the existing North American Free Trade Agreement is “disastrous,” even though the agreement made ag trade virtually tariff-free between the three countries. Trump says “nervous Nancy (Pelosi)” and other House Democrats are concentrating on “outrageous hoaxes and delusional witch hunts which are going nowhere.” Trump says there is already enough Democrat support in the House of Representatives to pass USMCA, a sentiment shared by Chuck Grassley, Chair of the Senate Finance Committee. House Ways and Means Committee Chair Richard Neal said Tuesday that his negotiations with U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer on the USMCA are “progressing.” Neal told Agri-Pulse that the two of them will continue to talk this week. Neal says a recent trip to Canada to speak with Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, couldn’t have gone any better. Trudeau says “they’ll do what they have to do to get this to the finish line.” ********************************************************************************************** First CottonU will Show Off New Cotton Trust Protocol Cotton farmers who want to capitalize on sustainability for their operations should plan to attend the first-ever CottonU on December fifth at the Amarillo Farm and Ranch Show in Texas. It’s a chance to learn about a new pilot program initiated by the National Cotton Council. The NCC is intending to quantify sustainability data through its U.S. Cotton Trust Protocol. Craig Brown is vice president of producer affairs for the National Cotton Council and will keynote the Cotton U lunch. The National Cotton Council says the protocol was developed to help the U.S. cotton production sector to reduce its environmental footprint via specific sustainability goals targeted for 2025. The goals include a 13 percent increase in productivity or land used per pound of fiber, as well as an 18 percent increase in irrigation efficiency. Other targets include a 39 percent reduction in greenhouse gas emissions, a 15 percent reduction in energy expenditures, as well as a 50 percent reduction in soil loss. Before these goals can be met, farmers must enroll and complete self-assessments to provide a baseline of data for the industry. ********************************************************************************************** Farmers Using Less Water to Irrigate The 2018 Irrigation and Water Management Survey results are out this week, showing that over 231,400 farms irrigated 55.9 million acres. That included 83.4 million acre-feet of water in the United States. By way of comparison, the 2013 survey showed there were just over 229,230 farms that irrigated 55.3 million acres, which included 88.5 million acre-feet of water. The results show that even though the number of farms irrigating, and the amount of land increased slightly over those five years, the total amount of water used to irrigate land actually declined. The 83.4 million acre-feet of water used to irrigate land in 2018 represent a 5.8 percent drop from 2013. The average acre-feet applied to land was 1.5, which is lower than the 1.6 in 2013. An acre-foot is the amount of water required to cover one acre to a depth of one foot. The largest portion of irrigated farmland acres in the U.S. was dedicated to cropland, including grains and oilseeds, vegetables, nurseries, greenhouses, as well as hay crops. The survey also shows that more acres are irrigated with sprinkler systems than with gravity irrigation. ********************************************************************************************** NASCAR Drivers Surpass 15 Million Miles on E15 At the Bluegrass Vacations 500 race, NASCAR reached a significant milestone, announcing that their drivers surpassed 15 million miles on the E15 ethanol blend. NASCAR adopted E15 in 2011 across its three national racing series to reduce emissions in their sport, all while maintaining the high-performance standard needed by drivers during every race. Growth Energy, the nation’s largest association representing ethanol producers and supporters, launched its American Ethanol Program in 2011, in conjunction with NASCAR’s decision to adopt E15. “American Ethanol’s partnership with NASCAR has been a fantastic platform to promote the benefits of cleaner-burning ethanol ever since the sport adopted it,” says Growth Energy CEO Emily Skor. “NASCAR fans have now seen the fuel perform flawlessly for 15 million miles under the most demanding circumstances imaginable.” She says consumers have put E15 to the test for more than 11 billion miles of commutes, road trips, and picking kids up from school. “Whether on or off the track, day after day, mile after mile, E15 continues to be the smart choice for divers who care about their engines, reducing emissions, and saving money at the pump,” Skor adds.

| Rural Advocate News | Thursday November 14, 2019 |


Washington Insider: Challenging the WTO Bloomberg is reporting this week that the Trump administration is “ratcheting up its pressure on the World Trade Organization (WTO) by raising the possibility of blocking the approval of the institution’s biennial budget.” Such a move could effectively halt the WTO’s work starting next year, the report said. During a regular meeting of the WTO budget committee in Geneva on Tuesday, a U.S. delegate expressed concern about the organization’s payments to the appellate body, which the U.S. administration argues has overstepped its mandate. The U.S. also expressed concerns about funding being diverted to a proxy dispute settlement system recently championed by the European Union, Canada and Norway, Bloomberg said. Because WTO decisions must be made by consensus among all 164 members, the U.S. blocking maneuver would threaten the effective functioning of the organization responsible for overseeing the rules of global commerce. The members have until Dec. 31 to adopt a budget for 2020 and 2021 and they will take up the issue again next Tuesday. If the U.S. unilaterally kills off funding, it could imperil the future of the WTO’s work and force countries to fundamentally rethink their reliance on it to negotiate trade deals and settle the surging number of disputes. The move marks an escalation in the administration’s approach toward the body, which it is threatening to abandon entirely. The administration also blames the WTO partly for allowing China to grow into a rival economic power over the past two decades by flaunting the rules. The U.S. contributes more money than any other single country to the WTO’s annual budget – 22.7 million Swiss francs in 2019, Bloomberg says. The total budget for 2019 was 197.2 million francs, the same as a year earlier. Trump, U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer and other U.S. critics argue that the WTO dispute settlement system threatens America’s sovereign rights and has strayed from its mandate. The U.S. Trade Representative plans to deliver a statement about the “systemic concerns regarding the compensation of appellate body members” at the Nov. 22 meeting, according to a document published Tuesday by the WTO. Over the past two years the U.S. administration has blocked all new appointments to the appellate body, which has the final say in upholding, modifying, or reversing WTO rulings that often affect some of the world’s biggest companies and billions of dollars in international commerce. The seven-member appellate body is now operating with just three active members, the minimum required to sign off on WTO appellate rulings. The terms for two of those members are set to expire on Dec. 10. Thomas Graham, a U.S. lawyer who is one of the appellate body’s last remaining members, recently said he may leave at the end of his term on Dec. 10, rather than stay on to adjudicate the cases he has already been assigned – as has been done in the past. One of the Trump administration’s key complaints is that former appellate body members have continued to deliberate appeal cases they were assigned prior to the expiration of their terms. Graham’s departure would throw all pending and future appeals into legal limbo because there wouldn’t be enough appellate members to resolve disputes. About a dozen appeal cases are pending, including a dispute over EU restrictions on Russian natural-gas imports and a pair of U.S., Canadian disputes over paper and softwood lumber. Canada, the EU and Norway have already agreed to set up an alternate channel for settling trade disputes in order to sidestep the looming deadlock. The EU plan would create an alternate arbitration process that would continue the “essential principles and features” of the appellate body with a panel of former appellate body members. It is envisaged as a stopgap measure to be used until the U.S. resolves the impasse. Outgoing EU Trade Commissioner Cecilia Malmstrom argues that the step is necessary to prevent the international trade system from devolving into the “rule of the jungle.” “If you have no rules, everyone can do what they want and that would be really, really bad, not least for the smaller and developing countries,” she said in July. Observers note that it is not clear what the administration’s plan is for settling future trade disputes if the WTO body is abandoned. The well-known U.S. hostility toward the dispute settlement body has not become much of a political cause the way its “get tough” tariffs have – in part because the issue is far more complex than its use of “get tough” tariffs have been. Still, the administration’s strategies in the current U.S., China negotiations as well as those concerning many other current and potential markets are being examined much more widely these days, and criticism can be expected to grow if the anticipated “first phase” deal with China stumbles. This debate with all its complexities is one producers should watch closely as it intensifies, Washington Insider believes.

| Rural Advocate News | Thursday November 14, 2019 |


Grassley Calls on Biofuel Backers, Farmers To File Comments On EPA’s Supplemental RFS Plan Farmers and those in the biofuel industry need to let EPA know their support for the Renewable Fuel Standard via filing comments on EPA’s supplemental plan for the RFS, Sen. Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, urged Tuesday. EPA is accepting public comments on their plan through November 29. Grassley said he and other Midwest senators will soon send a letter to President Donald Trump outlining the importance of the RFS to the region. “He has long been a supporter of biofuels and made a commitment to Iowa and the surrounding biofuel-producing states,” Grassley said, according to Radio Iowa. “The EPA should not undercut President Trump’s support of the RFS.”

| Rural Advocate News | Thursday November 14, 2019 |


Trump Continues His Mixed Message On US-China Trade President Donald Trump’s wide-ranging speech to the Economic Club of New York included what is Trump’s consistent theme on U.S.-China trade deal prospects – mixed messages. Trump declared that the U.S. is “deciding whether or not we want to make a deal. We are close.” He also stated that a “significant phase one trade deal with China could happen. It could happen soon. But we will only accept a deal if it is good for the United States and our workers and our great companies, because we have been hit very hard.” But then Trump proceeded to remark, “I tell it to everybody: If we do not make a deal, we are going to substantially raise those tariffs. They are going to be raised very substantially.” Those mixed messages were cited as pressure points in overnight equity market action Tuesday night and early Wednesday morning. Meanwhile, China’s Foreign Ministry said that the two sides have agreed to remove tariffs in stages once an interim deal is signed, and both sides are working on finalizing the details of the agreement, according to the South China Morning Post. The report said once the deal is finalized, then the two sides would decide how many of the tariffs would be removed.

| Rural Advocate News | Thursday November 14, 2019 |


Thursday Watch List Markets Weekly jobless claims and Producer price index will both be out at 7:30 a.m. CST on Thursday. We will also be watching for any news regarding the U.S.-China trade deal progress on phase one, updated weather forecasts for both U.S. and South America, and for confirmation of any new China soybean purchases that have been rumored. Weather All central U.S. crop areas will be dry Thursday, with improved harvest conditions. Precipitation will be confined to light rain in southeast Texas.

| Rural Advocate News | Wednesday November 13, 2019 |


Farmers Turning to Riskier Loans to Stay in Business Weather challenges, trade tensions, and long-term financial struggles continue to make life difficult in the U.S. agricultural sector. The Wall Street Journal says those headwinds are forcing an increasing number of farmers and ranchers to take on high-interest loans from lenders outside of the ag sector, just to stay in business. The more traditional farm banks are offering less money and placing tighter restrictions on their loans. That’s forcing cash-strapped farmers to go to other lending sources for the capital they need to stay afloat. Financial services providers that are less regulated can offer significant help to producers. However, those loans can be treacherous to farmers that fall behind, with interest rates twice those charged by the more typical ag lenders. Heath Jobe is a farmer from Arkansas who recently lost a crop to dry weather. His loan payments carried a nine percent interest rate and piled up quickly, while his request for a new loan was rejected. Producers are increasingly falling behind on their loans and it’s putting a squeeze on ag lenders too. Farmers face almost $416 billion in debt this year, which is the highest number since the 1980s farm crisis. ********************************************************************************************** Opportunity Ahead for More U.S. Wheat Exports to Brazil Brazil is set to open a tariff-rate quota on wheat imports, a potential opportunity for U.S. wheat producers. The quota will allow 750,000 metric tons of wheat to enter Brazil duty-free from outside of South America. The agreement comes 24 years after Brazil joined the World Trade Organization in 1995. The Fence Post Dot Com says both U.S. Wheat Associates and officials in the U.S. Government have worked for years to open the tariff rate quota and establish a more accessible market in Brazil for U.S. hard red winter wheat and soft red winter wheat. USW President Steve Peterson says, “Brazil is a quality-focused wheat market and its flour millers recognize that U.S. wheat can help them to better meet their customers’ needs. “ Opening the TRQ gives their millers more consistent access to our wheat classes while still having an option to source from other countries if they choose to.” He says that’s how markets are supposed to work. The Brazilian government is moving ahead on a formal process and date for implementing the TRQ. U.S. Wheat Associates Chair Doug Goyings says, “This is a perfect example of how fulfilling commitments can work for all trading partners.” ********************************************************************************************** Ag Lender Survey Shows Lower Profitability and Higher Concerns The American Bankers Association teamed up with Farmer Mac for their Fall 2019 Ag Lender Survey. The biggest takeaway from the report is that the agricultural economy and farm income remain under stress, with little if any signs of improvement ahead in 2020. Over 82 percent of lenders in the survey said farm profits were being squeezed this year, with every region in the survey reporting profitability declines in their respective areas. The top concerns for producers in the survey included income, liquidity, and leverage, but trade, tariffs, and weather moved up on the list. The top concerns for lenders included credit quality, competition for loans, as well as weaker loan demand. Lender sentiment remained cautious between August of 2018 and August of 2019. A similar percentage of lenders reported farm profitability declines, increasing farm leverage, and increasing loan default rates. Dairy, grains, and cattle were the sectors that gave lenders the most concern, while they were less concerned about the swine, poultry, and vegetable sectors. Survey respondents generally expect higher loan delinquency rates going into 2020 for both production and real estate. In spite of quality concerns over credit, lenders remain positive about approvals. ********************************************************************************************** America’s Largest Milk Producer Files for Bankruptcy Dean Foods, a 94-year-old milk producer, is filing for bankruptcy. The largest milk producer in the country is struggling as Americans are no longer drinking as much milk from cows. This year has been especially difficult as company sales dropped seven percent in the first half of this year, with profits falling 14 percent. A CNN Dot Com article says Dean Foods stock has lost 80 percent of its value. The company manufactures some of the more recognizable milk and dairy products in the country, including Land O’ Lakes and Organic Valley. The company blames its struggles on declining consumption in white milk. Company debt has made it difficult for Dean Foods to fund all of its workers pensions. In a statement, the company says it’s working with the Dairy Farmers of America cooperative on a potential deal in which the cooperative would buy almost all of the company. Sales of cow’s milk has declined for the past four years. Over the past 52 weeks, white milk sales totaled around $12 billion dollars. Another problem Dean Foods faced is Walmart. Once one of Dean Food’s biggest customers, Walmart dropped them last year after building its own dairy plant. ********************************************************************************************** Senate Democrats Report Says Trump Trade Policies Pick Winners and Losers Senate Ag Committee Ranking Member Debbie Stabenow and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer led a group of fellow Democrats in releasing a report on the Trump Administration’s trade policies. The report says the administration’s agricultural trade aid program “is picking winners and losers in their attempt to aid farmers affected by President Trump’s turbulent trade agenda.” The Democrats say the data shows that in the wake of trade uncertainty created by the president’s actions, the $25 billion in mitigation payments to help farmers has been distributed “unevenly” across the country, benefiting some regions of the country more than others. The senators wrote a letter to Ag Secretary Sonny Perdue, saying “instead of taking a careful approach as Congress did in the recent bipartisan 2018 Farm Bill, the USDA has replaced markets with short-term inequitable payouts that lack transparency.” The report goes on to say that “the administration’s Market Facilitation Program has treated farmers “unfairly” by sending 95 percent of the top payment rates to farmers in the south, who they say have been hurt less by the trade disputes than farmers in other regions of the country. They also say the administration’s policies have helped farms owned by billionaires and foreign-owned companies. As an example, the Democrats point out that $90 million in purchase contracts went to a Brazilian company. ********************************************************************************************** Justice Department Asks for Stay in Sugar Decision Late last week, the U.S. Justice Department filed a motion requesting a 90-day stay in the Court of International Trade’s ruling that an amended Mexico-U.S. trade agreement wasn’t valid. The Hagstrom Report says an agreement on Mexican sugar imports to the U.S. was amended in 2017. However, the court said that the amended agreement wasn’t valid because the Commerce Department didn’t release all the notes of meetings held during the negotiations. The American Sugar Alliance says U.S. sugar producers, as well as Mexico’s sugar industry and government officials, support the U.S. request for a stay. Phillip Hayes, an ASA spokesman, says, “This 90-day stay is necessary to ensure that everyone has enough time to file comments with the Department of Commerce on the suspension agreements, as well as gives the Commerce Department time to follow proper procedure during the process.” Hayes points out that it’s important to remember the court didn’t comment on the merits of the amendments and was instead based purely on record-keeping procedures by the Department of Commerce. “Mexico’s government and sugar industry have both asked the U.S. government to reinstate the suspension agreements without change, something U.S. producers support,” Hayes adds. The Commerce Department has now published the suspension agreements without change and is looking for comments from interested parties.

| Rural Advocate News | Wednesday November 13, 2019 |


Washington Insider: Unhappiness Over Trade Bailout Program US agriculture is so large and diverse that it is difficult if not impossible to meet industry-wide needs with a single program, even if it is basically a cash payment. For example, Senate Democrats are “attacking President Trump’s $28 billion farm trade aid program on the grounds that it favors southern farmers at the expense of their counterparts in the Midwest and Northern Plains.” Also there are charges that it favors growers of cotton over soybeans and large producers over smaller ones. “The administration is using a flawed formula that helps big, wealthy farms and billion-dollar foreign-owned companies, while small farms get left behind,” Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., said. He wants USDA to stop “picking winners and losers, and ensure all of America’s farmers get the help they need--not just a lucky few.” Democrats on the Senate Agriculture Committee, led by Debbie Stabenow, D-Mich., issued a report Tuesday accusing the administration of “extreme disparities” in the way it calculated the trade aid payments. The report said five heavily Republican southern states – Georgia, Mississippi, Alabama, Tennessee and Arkansas – received the highest payment rates per acre under this year’s market facilitation payments. Ninety-five percent of counties that have a payment rate of at least $100 an acre are in the South. This is in spite of the fact that farmers in the Midwest and Northern Plains have been hurt most by the trade war, the Democrats said. The payments also “overcompensate” cotton growers, the Democrats claim, citing US Department of Agriculture data showing a 3.9% increase in the price of upland cotton for the 2018 crop compared with the prior year. Democrats also criticized the program for making commodity purchases from large, foreign-owned agricultural conglomerates, including $90 million paid to a subsidiary of Brazilian-owned JBS SA. More than half of the administration’s first-year market facilitation payments went to just 10% of the recipients in the program, according to an analysis by the Environmental Working Group of records obtained through the Freedom of Information Act. Democrats complained the Trump administration nonetheless doubled payment caps for this year’s trade assistance program. Last year’s trade aid made payments based on crop type, but this year the assistance rates are on a “per-county rate based on the blend of crops grown in the area,” with payments ranging from $15 to $150 an acre. The administration hasn’t released details on how it calculated financial damage from the trade war for the aid program. Rural voters are a key constituency for President Trump as he heads into the 2020 election and government aid has become an increasingly important source of income for America’s farmers amid the financial stresses of the trade war with China, a commodity glut and wild weather, Bloomberg said. A recent American Farm Bureau Federation study found that almost 40% of projected farm net returns this year will come from trade aid, disaster assistance, federal subsidies and insurance payments, Bloomberg said. The AFBF said the supports totaled some $33billion of a projected $88 billion in net income. Farm bankruptcies are rising nonetheless, this year hitting the highest levels since 2011, Bloomberg said. As criticism of the payments and the formulas used to define them grows, the administration likely faces a daunting task in its efforts to convince producers not only that the “trade aid” program is effective and fair, but also that benefits from the “get tough, tariff-based policies” will be worth their cost. This debate should be watched closely by producers as it intensifies, Washington Insider believes.

| Rural Advocate News | Wednesday November 13, 2019 |


USDA Publishes Interim Rule On CSP USDA has published an interim rule in the Federal Register putting changes in place for the Conservation Stewardship Program (CSP) that were part of the 2018 Farm Bill. Funding for the program is set at $725 million in Fiscal Year (FY) 2020, rising to $1 billion in FY 2023. The interim rule reflects public feedback gathered via a listening session in February 2019 with the agency also receiving 183 written comments from various interests. The rule is effective today, with USDA taking comments by January 13, 2020. The notice also contains an Environmental Analysis and Finding of No Significant Impact, with comments on that portion of the rule due on or before December 12, 2019.

| Rural Advocate News | Wednesday November 13, 2019 |


Ag Bankers Concerned About Credit Quality In Midst Of Farm Downturn Even as 57 percent of farmer borrowers were profitable in 2019, up six percentage points from 2018, some 82.5% of ag lenders reported declines in farm profitability from all reporting regions in results of an ag lenders survey conducted by the American Bankers Association (ABA) and Farmer Mac. Lenders listed credit quality, competition for loans and weaker loan demand as their chief concern, the report said, while producers listed liquidity, income and leverage as their top concerns. However, the report noted that “trade, tariffs and weather edged up on the list.” Only 9.1% of respondents said that they expected increased profitability for farmers the next 12 months while 55.1% expected profitability to decline. As for specific ag sectors, the report said that dairy, grains and cattle were sectors of the most concern. However, interest in financing for hemp and alternative energy were big of note, with 49.9% of lenders say farmers were asking about financing for hemp production and 36.8% inquired about alternative energy financing. Some 49.6% of lenders expect land values to decline in 2020, with lenders reporting an average of 37.8% of land in their markets was above market value. “Lenders also expect compression in cash rents, but few lenders reported above-market value rents compared to 2018,” the report said. Nearly half of lenders said there was an increase in farmer retirements in 2019 and nearly two-thirds said they look for that pace to quicken in the next 12 months.

| Rural Advocate News | Wednesday November 13, 2019 |


Wednesday Watch List Markets Weather forecasts for North and South America remain important for Wednesday's grain markets and any trade news with China will be noticed. For financial traders, the U.S. Labor Department releases the consumer price index at 7:30 a.m. CST. A report on the U.S. federal budget follows at 1 p.m. CST. Weather Snow and mixed precipitation will cover the Northern Plains and northern Midwest Wednesday, further disrupting harvest. Other crop areas will be dry. Temperatures will be warmer, notably in the southwestern Plains.

| Rural Advocate News | Tuesday November 12, 2019 |


Washington Insider: Mobilizing to Meet New, Dangerous Food Safety Threats The Hill is highlighting continuing focus on what it sees as new and dangerous food safety threats, citing a paper by Thomas Grumbly, president of Supporters of The Agricultural Research Foundation, who has held several senior policy roles in USDA, OMB and FDA. Grumbly argues there are severe dangers from neglecting agricultural research and thinks "the one bright spot in the U.S. ag sector" is now increasingly at risk -- and "that the entire sector is poised to fall off a cliff deeper than anyone can imagine." He is warning about what he calls a lethal trifecta of "adverse weather, weak commodity prices and trade disruptions." His outlook was initially prepared for the Federal Reserve Bank of Cleveland. Grumbly notes farm bankruptcies are up 24% over last year and pork production has been doing OK, for now. USDA is expecting a 10.8% increase in hog prices in 2019 compared to 2018. In the first nine months of 2018, U.S. pork exports to China exceeded 142,200 metric tons (mt) despite the trade war. At the same time, hog farmers across the U.S. "are holding their breath" because this outlook depends on African swine fever (ASF) not arriving on U.S. soil. Despite the name, ASF is an international threat, appearing in more than 50 countries. In China, which normally produces more pork than every other country combined, an estimated 300 million pigs have been killed by either the incurable viral infection or by mass culling on an inconceivable scale. In the U.S., which produced approximately 130 million hogs for meat last year, USDA says it is working with state officials and industry representatives to prepare for a potential outbreak, running drills to isolate farms with infections and identify how the virus could enter production systems. But developing effective contact tracing responses doesn't even close the barn door after all the animals leave, Grumbly thinks. It just helps us figure out which way they went. The real imperative, since a decade ago when an ASF viral outbreak in Eastern Europe spiraled out of control, has been to find a way to prevent transmission or cure the infection before it spreads. Right now, we have no answers except to slaughter hundreds of millions of animals. And finding the funding for such critical research needs has gotten harder and harder every year. With world-class laboratories, the U.S. once led the world in agricultural innovation. But now we are practically standing in place, despite all the threats from viral diseases like ASF to extreme weather conditions to food poisoning outbreaks. The last time an outbreak of this magnitude hit U.S. farms was the avian influenza outbreak of 2015, in which more than 50 million chickens and turkeys were culled to stop the spread of the disease. This year Chinese farmers have had to kill five times that number of livestock, Grumbly says. In the earlier outbreak, the tens of millions of bird corpses became a public health threat when they could not be buried fast enough so U.S. farmers shudder to think of how to dispose of much larger hog corpses in that scale of slaughter if it were necessary in the U.S. Despite the paltry funding, researchers still have made strides in determining how viruses like ASF are propagated. For example, a team of scientists at Kansas State University determined threshold levels of contamination for the virus to be transmitted through animal feed. Previous research at the university, which determined how to remove another contagious virus from pig feed, tapped grants from two other sources. Eleven years ago, in an effort to revamp how USDA provides research grants, Congress established the Agriculture and Food Research Initiative. The program provides funding through a competitive process in which proposals are rigorously peer-reviewed. AFRI research was "authorized" with a $700 million budget in the 2008, 2014 and 2018 farm bills. But this level has never been reached amid the horse trading that takes place during the annual federal budget negotiations. Too many other priorities pushed this important effort aside. As a result, the program typically provides funding to less than a quarter of the science that the program's expert panels deem necessary. And researchers tackling critically important problems first have to tackle the question of how to get funded. Science can solve many of our problems but often falls short without steady funding. Producing food has become increasingly difficult as farmers struggle to solve increasingly difficult challenges before new crises arise to challenge their operations. Agriculture cannot evolve without new breakthroughs -- an increasing challenge, Grumbly said. Industry experts are increasingly mobilizing to meet this new threat, which will be intensified if the U.S. and China rebuild closer trade relationships. Clearly, dealing with this threat will increasingly challenge the U.S. scientific community, and should be watched closely by producers as the mobilization process proceeds, Washington Insider believes.

| Rural Advocate News | Tuesday November 12, 2019 |


Alabama, Florida, Georgia Get Disaster Aid Block Grants Alabama, Florida and Georgia will receive a combined $800 million in block grants from USDA to help their agriculture industries recover from 2018 hurricanes, USDA announced Friday. Florida will get $380.7 million, Georgia $347 million and Alabama $24.9 million. Florida officials said the funds will compensate timber producers for lost value of their crop damaged by Hurricane Michael, helping them clear downed trees and replant. Block grant funding will also help producers repair and replace irrigation infrastructure damaged by Hurricane Michael. Officials say an estimated 550 million trees, weighing 72 million tons, were damaged or destroyed by the massive Category 5 hurricane. The funding in Georgia is expected to reach pecan growers, timberland owners and poultry and cattle farmers who suffered heavy damage but had some operations that weren't covered by an earlier federal disaster aid program. USDA is aiming to wrap everything up and disburse the funds by Thanksgiving. But that is not likely the timeframe for when the money will reach farmers.

| Rural Advocate News | Tuesday November 12, 2019 |


Trump Injects Uncertainty Into US-China Trade With Tariff Comments President Donald Trump Friday said he has not agreed to the rollbacks of U.S. tariffs sought by China, sparking fresh doubts about when the world's two largest economies may end a 16-month trade war that has slowed global growth. Trump also remarked he has not yet approved the phase one deal negotiators are working on. "I have not agreed to anything," Trump said. "China would like to get somewhat of a rollback, [but] not a complete rollback because they know I will not do it." The Financial Times reported last week the White House was considering rolling back levies on $112 billion of Chinese goods. Meanwhile, there continue to be different views expressed by White House officials on the topic. National Economic Council Director Larry Kudlow told Bloomberg that any phase one deal would include "tariff agreements and concessions." However, Peter Navarro, a White House trade adviser, slammed the media for reporting that the tariff removal was in the cards. Navarro said the media was relying on sources "without direct knowledge of the negotiations" -- even though Kudlow publicly mentioned the possibility of concessions. Navarro also reprised his view that some reporters were being duped by "propagandists within the Chinese government." He also said China was trying to "negotiate in public" and said if the U.S. gave up any existing tariffs, Washington would not have leverage ahead of further phases of the talks.

| Rural Advocate News | Tuesday November 12, 2019 |


Trump says No Agreement with China on Easing Tariffs Yet Late last week, the Chinese government stated that the U.S and China had reached an agreement to begin rolling back tariffs after a phase one trade deal is signed. That statement led to some optimism and a jump upward in financial markets. Politico says it was just 24 hours after that when President Donald Trump poured “cold water all over the positive vibes.” The president said during a press conference on Friday that there’s no such understanding between the two countries to scale back duties on each other’s goods. “I haven’t agreed to anything,” Trump said on the White House lawn. “China wants to get somewhat of a rollback in tariffs, not a complete rollback, because they know I won’t do it.” White House Trade Adviser Peter Navarro sent an email on Friday complaining about the media coverage of the apparent deal on tariffs, saying too many journalists are “getting the trade stories on China wrong.” Politico points out that they asked the White House and the U.S. Trade Representative’s Office to confirm the Chinese claims on an agreement to cut back on tariffs. Both refused to comment on the record and didn’t make any attempt to contradict the Chinese statement. ********************************************************************************************** USDA Set to Allow Chinese Poultry Imports as a Sign of Progress The U.S. Department of Agriculture is taking steps to allow poultry imports from China. Farm Progress Dot Com says it’s a sign of ongoing progress in the talks between Washington and Beijing that will hopefully lead to a resolution in their trade dispute. The new regulation covers birds as well as poultry parts and products slaughtered in certified Chinese facilities. A compromise on poultry came out of advanced discussions between the two nations as they gradually work toward a “Phase One” partial trade deal. China said last month that it was prepared to lift a ban on U.S poultry imports that had been in place since 2015. A report last Thursday said that China’s General Administration of Customs and Ministry of Agriculture were looking into the removal of curbs on American supplies. China is currently allowed to send poultry products into the U.S. that are slaughtered in America or certain other countries. However, the new regulation would allow China to send processed poultry products made from birds slaughtered in the Asian country. If Beijing ultimately lifts its ban on U.S. poultry imports, that would be a major win for U.S. producers and processors. China banned U.S. poultry imports in 2015 after an outbreak of highly pathogenic avian influenza in the U.S. ********************************************************************************************** USDA Announces Aid Package for Southern Farmers Hurt by Hurricanes Ag Secretary Sonny Perdue says his agency is making $800 million available to agricultural producers in Alabama, Florida, and Georgia, who were affected by Hurricanes Michael and Florence. These state block grants are part of a larger $3 billion package to aid producers in recovering from natural disasters in 2018 and 2019. The broader package includes the Wildfire and Hurricane Indemnity Program, as well as programs for loss of milk and stored commodities. “Natural disasters hit producers with some hefty blows in the past couple of years,” Perdue says. “This relief complements USDA’s tool chest of disaster assistance programs and crop insurance.” He says the additional aid helps producers who’ve suffered losses beyond what the regular USDA programs can cover. USDA is working out the final details of the grants with the Florida governor’s office and the state departments of agriculture in Alabama and Georgia. The grants are designed to cover all of the qualifying losses not covered by other USDA disaster assistance programs. Grant funding covers losses of timber, cattle, poultry, as well as necessary expenses related to the loss of horticulture crops and present-value losses associated with pecan production. ********************************************************************************************** Brazil Taking Cotton Exports Away from U.S. Producers While soybeans have gotten a lot of attention during the U.S. trade war with China, U.S. cotton is one of the lesser-known victims of the trade dispute. Just 14 million acres of the crop were planted this year across states like Texas, Georgia, and Mississippi. That’s compared with 76.5 million acres of soybeans and almost 90 million corn acres. The U.S. is the world’s top exporter of cotton and over 75 percent of the crop is sent overseas. The U.S. cotton industry depends heavily on Chinese purchases. Bloomberg says even if the U.S. and China were to strike a trade deal, the global demand outlook isn’t solid and industry experts say harvest doesn’t look encouraging, due in large part to a hot and dry summer in many key cotton regions. The global customers that are out there are currently looking to Brazil for cotton. The lagging Brazil economy is making its supply of cotton more affordable for other countries when compared to U.S. cotton. The forecast supply from this season’s crop will likely boost domestic supplies to their highest point since 2009. This will bring down cotton futures, which dropped over eight percent last year and are down another 10 percent this year. ********************************************************************************************** Rabobank: China’s Hog Herd Won’t Bounce Back for Five Years Rabobank says China’s pig herd, once the largest in the world, will take more than five years to recover from the African Swine Fever outbreak. Even then, Rabobank International says their meat consumption won’t be the same as it was before the disease outbreak. The world’s biggest pork market won’t stabilize until 2025 and meat imports won’t make up for the shortfall. China’s once giant hog herd is more than half of what it was, down to less than 200 million since the first case of ASF was made public in August of 2018. A Rabobank analyst notes that China is rapidly trying to increase its domestic production, while importing more pork and other proteins like beef and chicken, in hopes of satisfying consumer demand. The crisis will change the way China consumes protein. Rabobank says pork will remain the meat of choice in China, but its overall share of meat consumption will fall from 63 percent to 53 percent. Poultry’s share of Chinese meat consumption will increase by 30 percent by 2025. Restocking and importing will take place through 2021 before hog output increases through 2025. However, Rabobank says even then, the total herd is unlikely to return to its peak size in 2018. ********************************************************************************************** New Tractors Presented to Farmer Veteran Coalition Members In partnership with the Farmer Veteran Coalition, Kubota presented five farmer veterans with new tractors as a part of its “Geared to Give” program. In observance of Veterans’ Day, each farmer received the keys to their new tractor during a ceremony in their respective hometowns. Hundreds of applications came in for the giveaway program, with Kubota selecting five winners in each of their operating divisions. Winners included three Army veterans, an Air Force Veteran, and a U.S. Marine. Alex Woods, Kubota’s Vice President of Sales, says, “The program empowers farmer veterans to achieve their dreams. We’re very happy to have selected the five veterans to receive their awards.” Michael O’Gorman, Executive Director of the Farmer Veteran Coalition, says, “One of the great joys of doing this work is being able to make a positive impact on our farmer veterans by providing them with the tools to succeed on their operations. Having horsepower on the farm is the ultimate gift for a farmer.” Farmer veterans can apply every year to the FVC Fellowship Fund to be considered for donated Kubota equipment through the “Geared to Give” program.

| Rural Advocate News | Tuesday November 12, 2019 |


Tuesday Watch List Markets Tuesday's reports start with weekly export inspections at 10 a.m. CST and end with USDA's Crop Progress report at 3 p.m. Harvest progress remains slower than usual in 2019, but drier weather has helped lately. The weather forecast continues to be watched as does any hints of trade progress with China. Weather Most primary crop areas will be dry and unseasonably cold Tuesday. Conditions favor harvest.

| Rural Advocate News | Monday November 11, 2019 |


Monday Watch List Markets USDA's usual Monday reports will be released Tuesday, due to Veterans Day. That leaves an open docket with U.S. government offices and Federal Reserve banks closed. U.S. futures markets will be open as usual and traders will still be interested in weather forecasts and any trade news pertaining to China. Weather Snow and mixed precipitation are in store for the central Plains and most of the Midwest Monday, causing harvest disruption. The Delta and southeastern Plains will have rain for winter wheat, along with row crop and cotton harvest delays. Conditions will be very cold for the season in northern and central areas, adding to slow progress.

| Rural Advocate News | Monday November 11, 2019 |


Perdue Hoping Trade Aid Payments Unnecessary in 2020 Ag Secretary Sonny Perdue is hoping that a third round of trade aid payments to farmers will be unnecessary in 2020 because of a new trade deal with China. The Hagstrom Report says Perdue spoke with reporters last week shortly after returning from a “successful” trade mission to Mexico. Farmers “would rather have trade than aid,” Perdue says. At the same time, he did say the second round of 2019 trade aid is approved and will be heading to farmers soon. “We have just gotten authorization on the second tranche,” he said. “I expect payments to be out to farmers by late November or early December.” The U.S.-Mexico-Canada Trade Agreement was one of the big topics of conversation on the trip to Mexico. Perdue says Mexican officials are hoping Congress will sign off on the agreement as soon as possible. “They’ve done their work, as you know, and they’re anxious for us to complete our task as well,” Perdue says. Immigration was another topic of conversation with Mexican officials. Perdue is hopeful that the Mexican government will begin a program to “pre-certify” workers southeast Mexico for the H-2A Program. Southeast Mexico is one of the most poverty-stricken areas of the country. ********************************************************************************************** House Ag Chair Undecided About Another Congressional Run Speculation seems to be swirling about whether or not House Ag Committee Chair Collin Peterson will be running for office again. Politico says the Democrat from Minnesota is thinking “long and hard” about whether or not he wants to help put together another farm bill. Peterson is confident he would win another term if he decides to run. However, he’s trying to decide whether he wants to stick it out for another cycle of putting together another farm bill. The current farm bill expires in 2023, but discussions begin several years ahead of that. “It’s getting harder every time to do a farm bill,” Peterson says. “It’s a big commitment. So that’s what my main thing is, do I want to do that? If I do, then I’d feel like I have a responsibility to see it through.” The ag chair wouldn’t give a yes or no answer to the question of whether he’ll run again. Peterson says he’ll make a public announcement in either January or February of next year, as he’s done in the past. Republicans point out that Peterson recently sold his condo in D.C., saying that’s a sign he’s not running again. Peterson said he did that to gain additional capital for his Minnesota farm. ********************************************************************************************** Peterson: USMCA Vote Possible this Week or Next The House of Representatives could vote on the U.S.-Mexico-Canada trade agreement as early as this week or the next. Farm Journal’s Ag Web Dot Com says Peterson appeared on the “D.C. Signal to Noise Podcast” recently and said Speaker Nancy Pelosi wants to get USMCA approval “on the fast track.” Peterson says USMCA Working Group Chair Richard Neal of Massachusetts told him that Neal will try to move the legislation forward either this week or the next. “He’s pushing hard,” Peterson says. “It’s going to get done. The question is whether it will be done during the next two weeks or sometime in December?” While on a caucus conference call last week, Peterson says Pelosi talked about the push to pass USMCA. “She wouldn’t be doing that if she didn’t want this to get done,” Peterson explained. “So, this is going to get done.” The USMCA Working Group has been meeting regularly with U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer to negotiate the changes needed to get votes from both sides of the political fence. The House Ag Chair says he anticipates that work will clear the way for rapid approval from all three countries. ********************************************************************************************** China’s Demand for U.S. Pork Continuing to Grow Despite Tariffs The USDA recently raised its pork export forecast for both 2019 and 2020. The predicted rise is due in large part to the significant growth in Chinese demand for more U.S. pork. China’s growing demand for pork imports is a direct result of the African Swine Fever outbreak that spread throughout the country in 2018 and continued into this year. As of September, China’s pork inventory was down 41 percent from the previous year. Many farmers slaughtered their animals to prevent herds from becoming infected. By October, Chinese hog and pork prices had doubled compared to a year earlier, as pork supplies quickly grew tighter. To help fill the gap between supply and demand, China turned to more imports from the U.S. and 10 other countries. Despite retaliatory tariffs of up to 78 percent implemented on U.S. pork products, 2019 U.S. exports of pork to China have increased 91 percent through August. Total U.S. pork exports in 2019 are now forecast at 6.85 billion pounds, 12 percent higher than last year. In 2020, USDA is forecasting total U.S. pork exports of 7.3 billion pounds, an 11 percent jump over this year. ********************************************************************************************** September Beef Exports Steady; Pork Higher but Pace Slowing September exports of U.S. beef were steady with last year’s volume, but the export value was trending lower. That’s according to USDA data compiled by the U.S. Meat Export Federation. Pork exports were above last year’s levels in September but had pulled back from the larger totals in June, July, and August. September beef exports were just shy of 109,800 metric tons, basically even with 2018, and down four percent in value to $661 million. Through the first three quarters of this year, beef exports were two percent below last year’s record pace in both volume and value. September pork exports increased 13 percent from a year ago in volume, totaling 202,248 metric tons, and valued at $532 million. Those numbers pushed the January through September export volume five percent ahead of last year’s pace at 1.9 million metric tons. The retail value of exports to date two percent higher at $4.89 billion. Beef exports to Japan are still struggling with the tariff rate gap between U.S. beef and the competition. However, beef exports to South Korea continue to build on a strong performance last year. Pork exports to Mexico have rebounded significantly since Mexico removed its 20 percent retaliatory duty on U.S. pork in late May. ********************************************************************************************** Hemp Federation of America Flying into Washington, D.C. The brand-new Hemp Federation of America is planning its first-ever fly-in to Washington, D.C., this week. The fly-in is happening at the same time that Reuters is reporting farmers are having a difficult time finding markets for this year’s hemp crop. Oklahoma farmer Will Wheeler is the board chair for the federation. He says an industry with a domestic market estimated at $800 million to $2 billion every year needs to have its trade association in Washington. “There’s no question that a viable crop like this has hundreds and even thousands of uses,” Wheeler says. “But, we have to get this right. That’s why we formed the Hemp Federation of America, so farmers can be a part of shaping the legislation that regulates industrial hemp, thanks to our presence in Washington.” Scott Graves is the HFA’s executive director, who says, “There is a tremendous amount of work ahead with Congress and the administration to put together a regulatory framework that makes sense. That’s how we’re going to help grow the market for American farmers and businesses.” Federation priorities include educating lawmakers and others on how to tell the difference between hemp and cannabis.

| Rural Advocate News | Monday November 11, 2019 |


Washington Insider: Fed Focus on Potential Impacts of Climate Change While differences of opinion between the Trump administration and the Fed are well known, one more seems to be in the process of being added, Bloomberg says – changes in the climate. The Fed held a conference in San Francisco last week and potential impacts of changes in the climate were featured for the first time. Bloomberg says the presentations noted that climate change makes investments riskier, blunts workers’ productivity, and shakes up monetary stability. President Donald Trump and some of his key advisors have been famously skeptical of scientific data about shifting climates. So the central bank’s decision to host a daylong series of climate talks this week – the first ever for the Federal Reserve system – appears to mark another step in its growing public recognition that climate change is creating financial uncertainty and an increasing difference of opinion on the importance of the topic. “The Federal Reserve’s job is to promote a healthy, stable economy,” San Francisco Fed President Mary Daly said at the Nov. 8 event. “This requires us to consider current and future risks, whether we have a direct influence on them or not. Climate change is one of those risks.” Bloomberg also weighed in with the observation that the conference “heightens tensions between the Fed and the President,” who has called climate science a hoax, and repeatedly blasted the bank on Twitter – mostly for not cutting interest rates. Bloomberg very briefly noted a few conference highlights. It said “one conference paper,” presented by Dana Kiku, an associate professor of finance at the University of Illinois Gies College of Business, detailed how rising temperatures create long-term economic risks. Another by Sandra Batten, a senior economist at the Bank of England, concluded that the risks of climate change can trigger inflation and cause businesses and individuals to struggle to anticipate how the economy will perform. Rising temperatures also reduce the labor supply for outdoor workers in industries such as construction, mining, and manufacturing, said Solomon Hsiang, a public policy professor at the University of California at Berkeley Goldman School of Public Policy. That leads to reduced work time and damaged firm profits, Hsiang said. Other economists spoke about the link between pollution and economic output, the possibility of anti-oil policies generating a run on oil and how differences in nations’ trade policies create implicit subsidies to carbon emissions. Fed Chairman Jerome Powell wrote earlier to Sen. Brian Schatz, D-Hawaii, that severe weather events “have the potential to inflict serious damage on the lives of individuals and families, devastate local economies (including financial institutions), and even temporarily affect national economic output and employment.” As a result, “these events may affect the economic conditions, which we take into account in our assessment of the outlook for the economy,” Powell said. Damage from severe weather in the U.S. cost insurers more than $50 billion in 2018, Daly said. That figure nearly doubles if uninsured damage is taken into account, she said. “This impacts banks’ customers, making it harder for them to satisfy their loan obligations,” Daly said. “And this can ultimately stress banks’ balance sheets. So ensuring that financial institutions are regularly evaluating their exposure to climate-related risks is an increasingly important part of our work.” The talks also raised concerns about future efforts by Congress to deal with climate change problems. Schatz, who sits on the Senate Banking Committee, told Bloomberg that he is readying legislation that would direct large banks and other financial institutions to conduct stress tests to gauge whether they are well-positioned to absorb climate change risks. So, we will see. It would seem to be an uphill climb to expect that the impact of the Fed’s new focus on the climate will rapidly change the policies of the numerous agencies including USDA and others who have been struggling with internal efforts to downplay the issue. At the same time, political concerns about the climate are growing widely and likely will continue to do so in spite of the skeptics’ efforts. This is a debate producers should watch closely as it intensifies, and especially if it results in new practices and rules applied by the banking community, Washington Insider believes.

| Rural Advocate News | Monday November 11, 2019 |


Rep. Peterson: House Could Vote On USMCA As Soon As This Week House Ag Committee Chairman Collin Peterson, D-Minn., said House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., wants to get the U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA) vote on the fast track. “[USMCA Working Group chair] Richard [Neal] told me he is going to try to move it when we get back…, or the week after, so he is pushing hard,” Peterson told Pro Farmer in an interview. “It is going to get done. The question is, is it going to get done in those two weeks or is it going to get done in December?” Peterson noted that Pelosi talked about the push to pass USMCA on a caucus conference call last week. “She was pushing and explaining the USMCA on that call, and she would not be doing that if she did not want to get this done,” Peterson explained. “So, this is going to get done.” The USMCA working group has been meeting with U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer to negotiate changes to the trade agreement required to get votes from both sides of the aisle. Peterson said he anticipates that work will clear the way for rapid approval in all three countries.

| Rural Advocate News | Monday November 11, 2019 |


USDA’s Perdue Confirms Second MFP 2 Payment Coming The second installment of the Market Facilitation Program 2 (MFP 2) payments to farmers has been approved, USDA Secretary Sonny Perdue confirmed in a press call with reporters. “We have just gotten authorization on the second tranche” of aid payments and USDA is working to get them ready “hopefully by the end of this month, early December,” he remarked. Asked if another MFP effort in 2020 is in the cards, Perdue said he hoped that a U.S.-China deal could temper the need for such an effort. USDA has paid out $6.7 billion under the MFP 2 program so far. The amount of Chinese purchasing under discussion “would be very beneficial to agricultural producers and we’re hopeful that trade would supplant any type of farm aid needed in 2020 in that regard,” Perdue told reporters. However, given that the commodity purchases by China will be ramping up over at least a two-year period, that could temper the market response. An MFP 3 program is potentially more difficult, but not impossible, to get approved. Meanwhile, USDA Undersecretary Bill Northey said in Minnesota Thursday that USDA has paid out $500 million in the top-up payments on prevent plant under the disaster aid effort.

| Rural Advocate News | Friday November 8, 2019 |


China, U.S., Strike Tariff Rollback Agreement The U.S. and China will roll back tariffs if they strike a preliminary deal, a move requested by China before signing a phase one trade agreement. The signing of the agreement may be now delayed until next month, but the two sides continue to wrap up the talks, according to the South China Morning Post. A spokesperson for China’s Commerce Ministry says, "top negotiators have had serious and constructive discussions on resolving issues of core concerns” over the last two weeks. China’s Agriculture Ministry announced it will consider removing restrictions on the import of U.S. poultry. China says the U.S. and China should remove tariffs simultaneously, as part of reaching the agreement. If reached, the agreement would be welcome news to U.S. agriculture, as it’s thought to include $40-50 billion of U.S. ag exports to China over the next two years. U.S. agricultural exports to China dropped roughly $10 billion annually, half the usual amount since the trade war began. ************************************************************************************* U.S. Democrats Tell Trudeau USMCA Negotiations Near Completion A delegation of U.S. House Democrats this week told Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau the U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement negotiations are nearly complete. Led by Representative Richard Neal, the group met with Trudeau and other top officials from Canada. Neal says of the talks, “Significant progress is being achieved” on the agreement. Trudeau says the group talked about jobs and opportunities USCMA will create and how they will "work together to keep strengthening the long-standing relationship between Canada and the United States.” Few U.S. legislative days remain to pass the agreement in 2019, with Congress mired by the House impeachment inquiry and the need to quickly pass spending bills. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi last week appeared optimistic the White House and her chamber could reach an agreement to pass USMCA. However, she suggested the process may linger into 2020. Neal says House Democrats continue to engage in productive discussions with Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer to “achieve their priorities” in the agreement. ************************************************************************************* NPPC Launches USMCA Campaign The National Pork Producers council Thursday launched a campaign to highlight the importance and benefits of the U.S.-Mexico-Canada trade agreement. The "It's Pork O' Clock Somewhere," campaign focuses on pork and the many ways it's enjoyed across North America. NPPC president David Herring says, “Ratification of USMCA is the top priority for U.S. pork producers, and there is no better way to highlight its importance." Last year, more than 40 percent of U.S. pork exported went to Canada and Mexico. The campaign thanks lawmakers for making USMCA ratification this year a priority and highlights the history behind pork-related dishes in the United States, Mexico and Canada. For example, tacos al pastor from Mexico have origins in the Lebanese method of cooking meat on a spit, referred to as shawarma. The tacos are a staple in Mexico City, where taco shops and stands line the streets. Last year, the United States sent more than 770,000 tons, worth $1.3 billion, of pork to Mexico. To learn more about NPPC's campaign, visit www.porkoclock.org. ************************************************************************************* EPA Seeks Nominations for Farm/Rural Federal Advisory Committee Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Andrew Wheeler Thursday asked for nominees to serve on the Farm, Ranch, and Rural Communities Committee. EPA is seeking 20-30 nominees to serve on the committee that provides independent policy advice, information and recommendations to EPA’s Administrator on environmental issues and policies important to agriculture and rural communities. Members will be selected from a variety of sectors and may represent allied industries and stakeholders, including farm groups, rural suppliers, marketers, processors, academia/researchers, state, local, and tribal government, and nongovernmental organizations. The previous charter for the committee was scheduled to expire and was renewed in 2018. However, the committee currently has no members. EPA is specifically seeking 20-30 members for two-three-year terms, and the committee expects to meet approximately twice a year. Applications must be received by EPA by December 31, 2019. Full details about qualifications and how to apply will be published in the Federal Register Notice, and on the EPA’s website. ************************************************************************************* USDA Finds Genetic Path to Double Sorghum Yield Scientists with the Department of Agriculture’s Agricultural Research Service have discovered genes in sorghum that can double the amount of grain the plant produces. Their findings, spelled out in a series of papers, are based on years of research that initially focused on a search for the genetic underpinnings of high yielding strains of sorghum. They also lay out a potential strategy for increasing the yields not only of sorghum but of other grain crops, such as corn, wheat and rice. Sorghum is drought tolerant and is an important crop for farmers worldwide. Increasing production is considered a key to addressing the threat of food shortages in the years ahead with changing climates, growing populations overseas and the loss of arable land in many parts of the world. Their results show that the gene, known as MSD1, is a major regulator of a cascading series of events along a genetic pathway. They found two other genes in the genetic pathway, and say mutating any of the three genes causes a similar increase in grain yield. ************************************************************************************* Hemp Farmer Says New York Police Mistook Hemp Shipment as Marijuana Police in New York last week intercepted and seized a shipment of organic hemp, allegedly mistaking it for marijuana. Vermont’s NBC-5 reports Fox Holler Farms of New Haven, Vermont, took a 106 lbs. shipment of organic hemp to FedEx, and “made clear what it was,” adding the shipment was legal. However, police acted on an apparent tip and seized the shipment, and arrested a CBD shop owner who arrived to pick up the boxes. The farm owners allege detectives seemed unaware of the difference between hemp and marijuana. While hemp and marijuana look similar, the farm owners say paperwork and testing information was included in the shipment. The 2018 farm bill legalized hemp production, but it must be tested to be sure it meets federal guidelines of low THC levels. Vermont agriculture leaders say they have contacted New York Agriculture Commissioner Richard Ball, to make him aware of the situation, hoping he might help sort out the confusion. Meanwhile, New York police continue their investigation.

| Rural Advocate News | Friday November 8, 2019 |


Washington Insider: High Tariff Costs Well, a few hints of easing pressure on the U.S.-China trade standoff are being reported this week and markets have been responding accordingly. However, not all the press was favorable. The Hill reported that U.S. consumers and businesses paid a record $7.1 billion in tariffs in September “due largely to President Trump’s trade war with China.” It said the calculation was based on new data and a new analysis. Roughly $4.1 billion of the $7.1 billion in import taxes paid by Americans in September were levied through tariffs the administration imposed on Chinese goods since 2018. The total amount of tariffs paid by Americans has increased 59% since September 2018 and has risen $600 million since August 2019, The Hill said. The work behind the report was commissioned and released by Tariffs Hurt the Heartland, a coalition of trade groups opposed to import taxes, The Hill reported. Since March 2018, the administration has imposed tariffs on more than $350 billion in imports from China and another round of tariffs on close to $200 billion in Chinese goods is scheduled to take effect on Dec. 15. That would subject almost all U.S. Chinese imports to additional tariffs. However, U.S. and Chinese officials claim to be nearing a preliminary trade deal that would grant China relief from some tariffs in exchange for drastically increasing purchases of American farm exports, among other concessions, the report said. President Trump and Chinese President Xi Jinping were expected to sign the so-called phase one trade deal at a now-canceled summit of Pacific nations in Chile later this month. Reuters reported Wednesday that the signing may be delayed until December as Trump and Xi mull new locations. “Negotiations are continuing and progress is being made on the text of the phase-one agreement," White House spokesman Judd Deere told The Hill. "We will let you know when we have an announcement on a signing location.” The U.S. has collected tariffs on foreign goods throughout its history and import taxes were once a primary source of federal revenue. But after decades of trade liberalization, the administration’s imposition of steep tariffs on Chinese goods has vastly increased the amount in import taxes paid by U.S. consumers and firms. President Trump frequently insists that China effectively pays the cost of U.S. tariffs on its goods through currency devaluation and reduced product prices. And while the president argues that the U.S. economy has not been harmed by tariffs, manufacturers and farmers have been slammed with higher costs and lower global demand. The U.S. manufacturing sector has suffered through a recession for most of 2019, due largely to the rising costs of Chinese goods and parts not easily obtainable from other nations. A steep decline in global economic growth has also dampened foreign demand for U.S. goods. U.S. farmers and ranchers have also lost billions in sales to China after Beijing imposed retaliatory tariffs on American agricultural exports, The Hill says. While the U.S. exports to China are “a fraction” of the value of goods it imports from the country, China is a crucial market for the ailing American ag sector. “This data offers concrete proof that tariffs are taxes paid by American businesses, farmers and consumers – not by China,” Jonathan Gold, a spokesman for Americans for Free Trade, another anti-tariff coalition of trade groups told The Hill. President Trump has consistently blamed the Federal Reserve for the steep decline in American manufacturing and business investment, insisting that the central bank has hindered the U.S. from its full economic potential. President Trump’s tariffs on Chinese goods have yet to hinder solid consumer spending and the unemployment rate is “near record lows,” The Hill said. But the bulk of pending tariffs on Chinese goods apply to crucial consumer items like clothing, shoes, toys, household products and technology. In addition, economists say that new consumer-facing tariffs are the biggest threat posed by the administration’s trade policy to the broader economy. So, we will see. Clearly, many producers and others see any reduction of tensions in the U.S.-China trade war as very good news, but many observers continue to be skeptical of the success of “phase one” of the negotiations, and of the eventual benefits from the “get tough” trade policy. The report of a more than $7 billion tariff cost in the month of September is likely to attract attention among nearly all interest groups in the trade policy issue—a debate that should be watched closely by producers as it intensifies, Washington Insider believes.

| Rural Advocate News | Friday November 8, 2019 |


House Democrats, Canadian PM Meet to Discuss USMCA House Democrats met with Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, Foreign Affairs Minister Chrystia Freeland and Labor Minister Patty Hadju Wednesday to discuss the U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA). “I particularly stressed the importance of meaningful enforcement mechanisms that ensure the protection of workers in all three nations and of our shared environment,” said House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Richard Neal, D-Mass., who led the delegation. “I’m pleased that our neighbors to the north also have a strong desire for an agreement that benefits our economies while also lifting up our people,” he added. Meanwhile, Canadian news outlets reported Trudeau said is working with U.S. lawmakers to reach a “good place where we have the right deal for Canada, the United States and for Mexico. It is a pleasure to see the positive momentum that seems to be happening on this renewal of this very important trade deal.”

| Rural Advocate News | Friday November 8, 2019 |


China Touts Agreement With US To Lift Tariffs In Phase One Deal The U.S. and China have agreed to remove trade tariffs in stages as part of a “phase one” trade agreement currently being negotiated, the Chinese Ministry of Commerce said on Thursday. “In the past two weeks, top negotiators have had serious and constructive discussions on resolving issues of core concern. Both sides agreed to remove the additional tariffs imposed in phases as progress is made on the agreement,” ministry spokesperson Gao Feng said. “If China and the U.S. reach a Phase One deal, both sides should roll back existing additional tariffs in the same proportion simultaneously.” Gao said that both sides will negotiate how much of the tariffs to eliminate based on the content of the final Phase One deal. Negotiations to finalize the deal are ongoing, and “economic and trade teams from both sides have been in constant communication,” he added. Trump administration officials have yet to confirm the agreement to lift duties and the exact details regarding what tariffs may be eliminated remain unclear.

| Rural Advocate News | Friday November 8, 2019 |


Friday Watch List Markets Friday's main event will be USDA's WASDE report at 11 a.m. CST, featuring new crop estimates for corn and soybeans. USDA's Crop Production report will also include updated estimates of spring wheat and durum crops in several northern states where harvest experienced adverse weather. Recent trade news with China suggests progress and ears will be tilted to hear more specifics. Weather Dry conditions will cover all primary crop areas Friday, favoring harvest. Temperatures will have a sharp contrast between warm west and cold east.

| Rural Advocate News | Thursday November 7, 2019 |


Washington Insider: Potential Trade Interdependence This week The Hill is carrying an OpEd by Thomas Parsons, Vet Med professor, and Scott Moore, China Program Director at the University of Pennsylvania regarding livestock disease dangers. The note is in response to the recent “animal apocalypse” unfolding in China as African Swine Fever has devastated its swine population and likely killed more than 25% of the world’s hogs. However, as stark as those data are, the authors argue that the real costs of this calamity go much deeper. Perhaps more than any other commodity, pork’s role is “as much political and environmental” as it is economic. And the writers argue that even if Washington and Beijing manage to end their commercial conflict, “they’ll need to find new ways to cooperate to prevent threats like ASF from reaching the U.S.” For both China and the U.S., “pork stands out among the hundreds of thousands of commodities that make up nearly $700 billion worth of annual trade for its political importance.” In the U.S., this significance comes by way of the political clout of hog producers since a “very large share of the top pork counties were part of the President’s base in 2016” — a political link that remains strong despite the negative consequences of the trade war. In China, pork consumption is deeply embedded in the Middle Kingdom’s culture and cuisine. China is both the world’s largest producer and consumer of pork, and pork accounts for more than 75% of its meat consumption, especially during holidays, festivals, and formal banquets. Given this importance, politicians have grown nervous as the trade war devastates “what should have been a classic gains-from-trade scenario for American producers and Chinese consumers,” the writers say. In fact, Chinese pork prices have skyrocketed, the authors say and now are four times their U.S. level. Ordinarily, this would present a great opportunity for America’s highly efficient pork producers to fill the gap. But because Beijing responded to the administration’s tariffs by imposing duties of their own on U.S. ag exports, American producers “have largely have been priced out of the Chinese market,” leaving other countries to fill the void. USDA pegs the loss to U.S. producers at $860 million while the National Pork Producers Council says it is “over $1 billon.” So far, U.S. producers are attempting to compensate by expanding into markets like South Korea, but export opportunities there are only a fraction of those in China. China’s leaders, meanwhile, are clearly concerned about the long-term impact of both ASF and the trade war. Recently, Beijing has agreed to buy large quantities of U.S. agriculture products, including pork, as part of a “phase one” trade deal. However, the writers say it would be a mistake to read too much into this move since similar Chinese overtures in the past have never been fully implemented and Beijing is already “starting to waiver on its most recent commitment.” When it comes to the trade war at large, Beijing has shown no signs of willingness to throw in the towel, The OpEd writers say in spite of short-term concessions on pork and other agricultural imports. It is making long-term investments in self-sufficiency in swine production — signaling that for pork, like other commodities, its long-term objective is not to increase imports but rather to phase them out altogether. Meanwhile, the fallout from the combined effects of ASF and the trade war continue to imperil the pork industry “on both sides of the Pacific.” The Chinese government is working to incentivize commercial swine production by both low cost loans and reduced environmental regulations. But losses from ASF are so great that even after the deployment of their strategic pork reserve, China will be faced with insufficient pork supplies and high consumer pork prices, possibly for years to come. Meanwhile, in the U.S., the pork industry is still reeling from the billion dollars of lost income in previous years. Volatility from on-again/off-again Chinese pork purchases driven by the ebbs and flows of the trade war has confounded strategic planning by individual businesses. ASF has now spread from China to nine neighboring countries and thus is a lingering fear among many experts that it’s not a question of whether ASF reaches American shores, but when. Pork, though just one of the many items that make up China’s trade with the United States, tells the story of the two countries’ political and economic interdependence more poignantly than any other, the writers think. No other commodity so vividly illustrates the trade war’s economic, political, and environmental costs — or the reality that, whatever the state of tensions between Washington and Beijing, the fate of farmers in both the U.S. and China is fundamentally shared. So, we will see. In spite of basic self-sufficiency policies, in recent years China has moved to increase its dependence on some imports, including vital products like vegetable oil seeds — and they might well do something similar with pork, an argument against continued heavy U.S. dependence on tariffs. This tends to argue for increasingly sensitive and detailed trade negotiations, as a number of U.S. groups are now arguing, Washington Insider believes.

| Rural Advocate News | Thursday November 7, 2019 |


China Lifts Ban On Imports Of Canadian Beef, Pork Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced on Twitter Tuesday that China has lifted its ban imports of Canadian pork and beef. “Good news for Canadian farmers today: Canadian pork and beef exports to China will resume.” Trudeau credited Dominic Barton, the recently appointed Canadian ambassador to China, and the country’s meat industry for “reopening this important market for our meat producers and their families.” The move ends a four-month long trade dispute that started soon after Canada arrested a Huawei executive at the request of the U.S. Pork processed on or after November 5 is eligible to be shipped to China, meaning that provided the proper paperwork accompanies shipments, exports can start nearly immediately. However, there was no news on the situation with canola or soybean trade between the two countries.

| Rural Advocate News | Thursday November 7, 2019 |


US Ag Exports Miss USDA’s Forecast For FY 2019 U.S. agricultural exports in September totaled $10.30 billion against imports of $10.08 billion for a monthly surplus of $219.8 million. That put U.S. ag exports for Fiscal Year (FY) 2019 at $135.57 billion against imports of $130.94 billion for a trade surplus of $4.63 billion. USDA’s forecast for exports was too robust at $137 billion while their import outlook was too conservative at $129 billion. The level of imports still registered a new record even as the September result was the second lowest of FY 2019. But imports topped $11 billion four months in FY 2019 with one of those months seeing imports of more than $12 billion. The September ag export total was the lowest of FY 2019 and the smallest monthly export total since June 2016. The resulting trade surplus for FY 2019 is the smallest since it was $4.57 billion in FY 2006.

| Rural Advocate News | Thursday November 7, 2019 |


Ethanol Industry Looking South for New Business Corn growers and ethanol manufacturers are increasingly frustrated with blending waivers for oil refiners deflating the domestic biofuel market. While those groups continue to negotiate with the White House for a solution to the challenge, the industry is looking at foreign buyers as a way to make up for lost sales. Trade groups are looking south of the border for more business. The U.S. Grains Council and the American Coalition for Ethanol have been working with Mexican officials to promote the use of a 10 percent ethanol blend in Mexico. They’re hosting workshops on the topic and using them to target Mexico’s gas station owners, petroleum equipment retailers, as well as the nation’s ag and energy leaders. U.S. ethanol exports to Mexico have been used more for producing other products instead of as transportation fuel. However, retailers in border locations are buying more pre-blended E10 at U.S. locations and reselling it at Mexican gas stations. Mexico currently allows E10 sales nationwide, except in its three largest cities, which are Guadalajara (Gwad-ah-lah-HAR-ah), Mexico City, and Monterrey. But, Ryan LeGrand, CEO of the U.S. Grains Council, expects Mexico’s energy officials to offer up a proposal to allow E10 in those three locations by the end of 2019. ********************************************************************************************** NPB Study Shows Protein Opportunity in China A new National Pork Board report looks into the short term and long-term need for protein in China. It also talks about how U.S. pork producers can position themselves to fill that need. The new report is titled “Pork 2040: China Market Assessment.” It also looks at the impact African Swine Fever is having on China’s short term and long-term protein needs and how the Chinese pork industry and supply chain will change as a result of the outbreak. Norman Bessac (bah-sack), the NPB’s Vice President of International Marketing, says “Pork is a critical part of the Chinese diet, with per capita consumption estimated to be nearly 88 pounds per person every year.” The report will help exporters position U.S. pork as the supplier of choice, which will add value for all U.S. pork producers. The NPB report says Chinese pork consumption peaked in 2014 and will continue a slow decline as the Chinese population grows to its highest level on record in 2030. Other proteins like chicken, fish, and beef, will become more available as Chinese disposable income increases, which means consumers will diversify their protein consumption. The report outlines key steps exporters can take before China’s domestic pork production rebounds, which experts predict will happen by 2025. ********************************************************************************************* Canada Resuming Beef, Pork Exports to China Prime Minister Justin Trudeau says Canada’s beef and pork exports to China will resume, ending a four-month trade dispute with Beijing. Trudeau said earlier this week on Twitter that China has lifted the import ban it put in place earlier this year. “Good news for Canadian farmers today,” Trudeau tweeted. “Thanks to Ambassador Barton and the Canadian meat industry for their work on re-opening this important market for our meat producers and their families.” Farm Journal’s Ag Web Dot Com says the dispute began when China and Canada worked together and suspended all Canadian meat imports on June 25 after finding a forged delivery certificate on pork cargo, which was later confirmed by the Canadian Food Inspection Agency. Rick Bergmann, Chair of the Canadian Pork Council, appreciates the efforts of government officials to help restore their access to the Chinese market. In July, the council said Canada had put out an action plan that addressed some of the Chinese concerns and was waiting for a response. China is an important market for Canadian producers. In 2018, Canada’s pork exports totaled just about $4 billion, with over $500 million going to China. ********************************************************************************************** Grassley Working on Tariff Reform Iowa Senator Chuck Grassley, who also chairs the Senate Finance Committee, is working on reforming Section 232 tariff authority. He says Congress gave away their authority on trade to the White House back during the Kennedy Administration. Agri-Pulse says Grassley is looking for legislators to take back some of the power they gave away. Grassley says some lawmakers are worried that such a move would upset President Donald Trump. Grassley’s response is “that shouldn’t stop Congress from acting.” Grassley’s staff has been busy trying to combine two bipartisan bills designed to tone down the president’s authority to impose Section 232 tariffs on foreign countries. The tariff authority was first put in place to punish other countries that threatened U.S. national security. “We need reforms to Section 232 that make it clearer where Congress stands on national security and trade,” Grassley says. “Such reforms would make it clearer to our trading partners that when Section 232 is used, Congress stands with the president.” The Finance Committee’s ranking Democrat, Ron Wyden, says there hasn’t been any agreement yet because both sides of the political aisle have concerns that need to be worked out. ********************************************************************************************** NBB Applauds Letter on Tax Incentives Forty Democratic members of the House of Representatives sent a letter to Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Ways and Means Chair Richard Neal regarding expired tax incentives. They’re asking leadership to make an extension of expired tax incentives an urgent legislative priority before the end of the year. The National Biodiesel Board thanked them for their efforts and emphasized that renewing the biodiesel tax credits before the end of the year is crucial to reviving production. It would reopen production facilities and save countless jobs. The representatives say in the letter that, “Extending the biodiesel, alternative fuel vehicle refueling property, and second-generation biofuel producer tax credits are especially important to the regions we represent. Participants up and down the supply chain are experiencing hardship as a result of this lengthy collapse in credits.” NBB Vice President of Federal Affairs Kurt Kovarik says his group appreciates the representatives drawing attention to the economic situation facing advanced biofuel producers. “Nine biodiesel producers in six states have been forced to close, cut production, and lay off workers,” Kovarik says. “That’s because blenders count on Congress to renew the tax credit and demand a discount on the price of biodiesel.” He says producers have taken a loss for nearly two full years because of the expired credits. ********************************************************************************************** Is a Hemp Checkoff Coming from USDA? A USDA official said earlier this week that the U.S. hemp industry could have a producer-funded checkoff program coming soon. The Agricultural Marketing Service’s Director of the Specialty Crops Programs’ Promotion and Economics Division spoke at the Hemp Industries Association’s annual conference. Hemp Industry Daily notes that the director said the hemp industry “clearly has shown interest” in paying fees to promote their product, saying that “the idea here is that a rising tide would lift every boat.” If a checkoff program comes to fruition, hemp would join 21 other crops that have their own checkoffs, including soybeans, cotton, milk, pork, watermelon, and even popcorn. Growers would pay mandatory fees to go into a fund that’s used for research and marketing. A checkoff would benefit the emerging hemp industry struggling to get out from under marijuana-related misconceptions. A checkoff program would also be seen as an endorsement from USDA, making hemp a legitimate crop with long-term potential. Thousands of farmers took the plunge into hemp production after the 2018 farm bill legalized production of the plant. That flood of new growers is why some hemp farmers are struggling to find markets for their first post-farm bill harvest. Despite increasing demand for hemp-related products, the rush of new growers appears to have driven down prices.

| Rural Advocate News | Thursday November 7, 2019 |


Thursday Watch List Markets Thursday's reports start at 7:30 a.m. CST and include weekly grain export sales, U.S. jobless claims and an updated U.S. Drought Monitor. Weekly natural gas inventory follows at 9:30 a.m. CST. Weather forecasts and trade news still have interest for markets, but grain trading may be slow ahead of Friday's WASDE report. Weather A broad swath of rain and mixed precipitation will extend from the Texas Panhandle to the eastern Great Lakes Thursday. This includes locally heavy rain and flood threat in the southeastern Plains and northern Delta. Other areas will be dry. Harvest progress is favored in northern crop areas with this setup. Cold temperatures north will keep progress slow.

| Rural Advocate News | Wednesday November 6, 2019 |


October Ag Economy Barometer Improves The October Ag Economy Barometer improved to a reading of 136 in October, up 15 points compared to September. The monthly measure of the farm economy saw an increase in the assessment of current and future conditions by farmers. The Current Conditions Index rose from 100 in September to 115 in October, and the Futures Expectations Index also rose 15 points to a reading of 146. The results are based upon a nationwide telephone survey of 400 U.S. crop and livestock producers. Organizers say farmers in October were more inclined to think now is a good time to make large investments in their farming operations, and more farmers said they expect farmland values to rise, than in September. Although three-fourths of farmers in this month’s survey said they expect the soybean trade dispute with China to be resolved favorably to U.S. agriculture, 62 percent of producers said they expect to receive another round of trade aid payments for the 2020 crop year. ************************************************************************************* China Urges Trump to Lift Tariffs China wants the United States to commit to lifting tariffs to reach a phase one trade agreement. The South China Morning Post reports Beijing needs America to be more responsive to its concerns, if it wants Chinese President Xi Jinping (Shee Jihn’-ping) to visit the U.S. to sign the deal. There’s been no firm commitment by the U.S. to delay a December round of tariffs, and China also appears to want the U.S. to lift its recent round of tariffs from September. China says that without a move by President Donald Trump to make a “solid commitment” towards removing tariffs, scheduling a visit to the U.S. to sign the agreement “would be politically difficult.” U.S. officials have suggested they meet in Alaska, Iowa or Hawaii to sign the agreement. The two sides originally planned to sign the agreement on the sidelines of a now-canceled meeting in Chile. Sources close to the China talks say China fears it may have made too many concessions in the agreement. ************************************************************************************* Rabo Releases Ten-year Grain Forecasts A new grain price outlook underlines continuing long-term challenges for U.S. farmers. Rabo AgriFinance just released its ten-year outlook for corn, soybeans and wheat. The report says ending stocks will continue to be an issue for the crops, as the long-term trends for yield increases make up the difference in lower acre numbers while demand remains flat. The report says these stocks will keep a lid on commodity prices. Even if the U.S. and Chinese government’s resolve their trade dispute, Rabo expects soybean demand to drag due to the lingering effects of African swine fever, namely slow or limited sow herd rebuilding in China and Southeast Asia. The analysis shows a 75 percent probability that soybean prices will remain under $9.60 per bushel. For corn and wheat, the report says, "oversupply, flat domestic use, no or little growth in exports, and increased global trade competition" continue to pile up. Given no changes to ethanol policy, the outlooks call for animal feed to overtake ethanol as the demand driver for corn in 2026/27. ************************************************************************************* Peterson: MFP Picks Winners and Losers A recent letter to Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue says the current Market Facilitation Program creates “winners and losers among neighbors.” The Letter by House Agriculture Committee Chairman Collin Peterson urges the Department of Agriculture to strongly consider a list of concerns in issuing the next round of payments under the program. Peterson says acres not certified or enrolled in farm programs in 2018 are not eligible for the program, which is problematic for farms that recently changed hands where the previous owner didn’t participate in farm programs. Additionally, Peterson says crop rotations have prevented farmers from receiving payments, and the payments don’t account for the impact on crop basis created by trade disruptions. Regarding the MFP dairy program, Peterson says farmers have many questions about why their payments were based on established farm program production history, and not actual production. Peterson says he “stands ready to work with the administration” on long term fixes to the commodity safety net. ************************************************************************************* Senator Baldwin Announces Increased Rural Mental Health Funding Senator Tammy Baldwin this week announced increased mental health funding for farmers. The Wisconsin Democrat’s Facilitating Accessible Resources for Mental health and Encouraging Rural Solutions for Immediate Response to Stressful Times, or FARMERS FIRST Act, provides funding for local mental health resources. The bill was included in the 2018 farm bill, passed last year. Baldwin worked to pass an amendment last week to a Senate appropriations bill that will provide $8 million, an increase of $6 million from Fiscal Year 2019, for the bipartisan legislation. Baldwin says, “farmers are facing many difficult challenges and we all need to work together to provide them the support they need.” Reports from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have found that farmers and other individuals who work in agriculture experience a high rate of suicide. The increased funding will help expand access to stress reduction strategies and suicide prevention programs for people who work in agriculture. ************************************************************************************* Coalition Urges Trump to Uphold Biofuel Promise A broad coalition of biofuel and farm advocates this week sent a letter to the White House calling on President Donald Trump to fix a flawed proposal from the Environmental Protection Agency. The EPA proposal on biofuels, according to the coalition, "fails in its mission to reinvigorate farm economies and reopen biofuel plants across America's heartland." The letter was signed by 60 organizations, including the Renewable Fuels Association. It notes that the EPA's draft plan undermines the administration's commitment to restore integrity to the Renewable Fuel Standard and accurately account for biofuel demand destroyed by small refinery exemptions. The groups state that the flawed proposal “swaps out a critical component of the SRE remedy sought by farmers and,” and instead proposes to recover only those gallons previously recommended for exemption by the U.S. Department of Energy. The National Corn Growers Association says to the President, "The proposal - as written - will not provide the relief we believe you are seeking."

| Rural Advocate News | Wednesday November 6, 2019 |


Washington Insider: Trade Outlook Uncertainty Persists There is lots of media interest in trade negotiations this week, amid continuing deep uncertainty, Bloomberg is reporting. It notes that President Xi Jinping stressed China’s commitment to the global trading order as his trade negotiators “wrangle with the U.S. over rolling back punitive tariffs” ahead of a phase one deal. As Xi spoke in Shanghai, the nation’s central bank acted in Beijing to stem a sell-off in the debt market. The People’s Bank of China reduced the cost of 1-year funds to banks for the first time since 2016 after a week in which investors had dumped debt amid fears of tightening liquidity. At the opening of the second annual China International Import Expo, Xi said the country would “open its doors only wider” to the world. He refrained from taking a swipe at his U.S. counterpart Donald Trump, as he’d done the previous year, and didn’t refer to the prospective deal to defuse the tariff war. “We must all put the common good of humanity first rather than place one’s own interests above the common interests of all,” Xi said. Amid the current trade standoff, China has sought to stabilize its economy without flooding it with liquidity for fear of worsening its debt problems. It has retaliated against the administration’s tariff barrage but been careful not to escalate a conflict that’s sapped confidence and weighed on manufacturers. “It is obvious that deep conflicts of interest still exist between China and the U.S.,” Li Yang, a member of the government think tank the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, said in an interview in Shanghai after Xi’s address. “But China and the U.S. have now embarked on a path seeking practical solutions. I feel the likelihood for a major clash or start of a new cold war has disappeared.” The central bank has been similarly restrained this year, defying many economists’ expectations of major stimulus. Tuesday’s 5 basis-point reduction in the 1-year medium term lending facility was greeted as largely symbolic in economic terms, though it did stop the “rot in bonds” for now. The offshore yuan on Tuesday strengthened past 7 per dollar for first time since falling below that key level in August. China’s benchmark 10-year yield dropped the most since August, while the cost on 12-month interest-rate swaps fell the most in a month. China’s economic growth has slowed to the weakest pace in almost three decades, with economists forecasting that the expansion will slip further to below 6% next year. Rather than embark on a short-term stimulus boost, Xi’s government has instead focused on defusing the nation’s ticking debt bomb and promoting structural changes such as the shift to a more consumption-led economy. “China will give greater importance to imports,” Xi said Tuesday. “We will continue to lower tariffs and institutional transaction costs,” he added, repeating earlier pledges. China’s imports have contracted this year. “Xi’s speech endorsed the trade optimism as he indicated that he sees negotiations as the right way to solve disputes,” said Gai Xinzhe, a senior analyst at Sino-Ocean Capital in Beijing. But Xi also warned against “intellectual blockages” and “the widening technology gap,” highlighting China’s worry over the technology decoupling some U.S. politicians are advocating, he said. However, Chinese negotiators “continue to chip away at the wall of U.S. tariffs imposed on their exports since last year,” Bloomberg said. They are wary of conceding too much for fear of a political backlash at home, the report noted. Negotiators asked the Trump administration to eliminate tariffs on about $110 billion in goods that were imposed in September and lower the 25% tariff rate on about $250 billion that began in 2018, Bloomberg said. China has also previously demanded that the U.S. administration cancel plans to impose duties on roughly $160 billion in imports, scheduled for Dec. 15, which would hit consumer favorites like smart-phones and laptops. At the very least, those tariffs have to be taken off the table for Xi to get on a plane to meet Trump, Bloomberg said. The prospective deal for agreement this month would not address most of the major structural complaints that the U.S. has made, with thornier topics like state industrial subsidies or intellectual property theft left for later rounds, according to U.S. Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross. Speaking in Bangkok Tuesday, Ross said he was “hopeful that phase one will be precursor for a much more robust set of agreements. I’m reasonably optimistic we can get something done,” he said. So, we will see. Clearly, plenty of potential for breakdowns in the talks remain — but also optimists seem to be finding a good bit to talk about. These are debates producers should follow very closely as they proceed, Washington Insider believes.

| Rural Advocate News | Wednesday November 6, 2019 |


US-China Said To Be Mulling Rollback of Tariffs In Quest For Phase One Trade Deal The U.S. is debating whether to roll back tariffs deployed on around $112 billion of Chinese imports, according to the Financial Times, with the Wall Street Journal reporting that both countries are considering tariff reductions as they work finalizing Phase One of the trade deal. The initial focus was on the U.S. not imposing tariffs on Chinese goods on December 15, but the reports now suggest that duties put in place by the U.S. on September 1 may also be in play. Should the U.S. agree to do more than just not impose tariffs on December 15, the Financial Times said the U.S. would likely seek something in response from China, “including beefed up provisions on the protection of intellectual property for U.S. companies, greater certainty on the scale of Chinese purchases of U.S. farm products, and a signing ceremony for the agreement on American soil.” There has been no confirmation of the tariff discussions from the Chinese side. "Trade consultations have made progress and are advancing in accordance to plan," Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Geng Shuang told reporters in a briefing. Asked about the tariff situation, Geng said he could only speak in “principle” on the topic. “Adding tariffs is not the correct way to resolve trade issues,” he observed.

| Rural Advocate News | Wednesday November 6, 2019 |


House Ag Panel Chair Urges Changes to USDA Trade Aid Efforts House Ag Committee Chairman Collin Peterson, D-Minn., is asking USDA to address several issues with the latest Market Facilitation Program (MFP 2) trade mitigation package, including crops that are not eligible for aid and the formula for determining payments to dairy producers. That follows questions raised by dairy farmers as to why their payments are based on historical – and not actual – production. “The current program has created winners and losers among neighbors who find themselves facing the same market situations, meaning that some producers may remain viable while others may be forced out of business,” Peterson said in a letter to USDA Secretary Sonny Perdue. He also pointed out that the MFP 2 payments do not account for “the impact on basis that have resulted from disruptions in trade flows.” He called on Perdue to “strongly consider rectifying these situations as you contemplate the next rounds of assistance under the MFP program.”

| Rural Advocate News | Wednesday November 6, 2019 |


Wednesday Watch List Markets The U.S. Labor Department releases a monthly report on U.S. productivity at 7:30 a.m. CST, followed by the Energy Department's weekly report of energy inventories at 9:30 a.m. Weather forecasts for both, North and South America remain important as do any developments on the trade front. Weather Snow north and some light rain south will slow harvest progress in parts of the Midwest region Wednesday. Rain and thunderstorms through Oklahoma and north Texas Wednesday and Wednesday night will recharge soil moisture for winter wheat. Pre-winter development will continue, although slowed at times of low or very low temperatures during the coming days. Drier elsewhere in the central Plains wheat areas Wednesday. Cold, dry conditions will favor late harvests in the Northern Plains.

| Rural Advocate News | Tuesday November 5, 2019 |


Washington Insider: President and Fed Continue Monetary Policy Fight There is a modest amount of optimism about a possible U.S.-China trade deal just now, in spite of the usual comments about making sure the agreement treats both sides fairly, among other things. However, there is overall policy friction over the President’s unhappiness about monetary policy. The Fed is taking pains to say that it is pretty well satisfied with the current key rates even though President Trump isn’t. In a series of appearances last week, central bank officials hammered home the message that policy is “on hold” after three cuts in interest rates this year. “We have a favorable outlook for the economy,” Fed Vice Chairman Richard Clarida told Bloomberg on Friday. “We think the economy is in a good place, we think monetary policy is in a good place.” Bloomberg argues that “faced with an election a year from now, Trump certainly wouldn’t disagree with the former assessment — and, he hailed “a blowout jobs number” following the report that payrolls grew by a bigger-than-expected 128,000 in October in spite of the since-ended General Motors Co. strike. But that doesn’t mean that he’s happy with the job being done by Fed Chairman Jerome Powell and his colleagues, Bloomberg thinks. “People are VERY disappointed in Jay Powell and the Federal Reserve,” Trump tweeted last week after the central bank lowered rates by a quarter percentage point. “The Fed has called it wrong from the beginning, too fast, too slow.” Trump economic adviser Larry Kudlow was more restrained. “Monetary policy fortunately has finally turned around,” said Kudlow, who is director of the White House’s National Economic Council. “We’ve gone from extreme tightness to a somewhat more accommodative position.” After raising rates four times in 2018, the Fed has reduced them this year to shelter the economy from slowing growth overseas and uncertainties stemming from Trump’s trade policies, particularly with regard to China. Fed Vice Chairman for Supervision Randal Quarles commented last week that the current stance of monetary policy was “likely to remain appropriate” as long as the economy grows moderately, the jobs market stays strong and inflation is near the Fed’s 2% goal. Economists at JPMorgan Chase & Co. and Deutsche Bank AG were among those who declared last week that the Fed is now on hold. But moderate growth — generally seen by economists as equivalent to about 2% — might not be enough for an administration that has promised increases of 3% or more. After heating up last year in response to the administration’s tax cuts, the economy has cooled in 2019 as trade tensions and sluggish global growth have dampened business confidence. Since Trump took office in January 2017, gross domestic product has risen at an average annual clip of 2.6%, a bit faster than the 2.4% rate in President Barack Obama’s second term, Bloomberg said. Speaking Friday in Washington, San Francisco Fed President Mary Daly affirmed the central bank’s independence. “We don’t think about politics,” she told students at Howard University. Morgan Stanley Chief U.S. Economist Ellen Zentner defended the central bank against Trump’s attacks. “If their job is to extend the expansion for as long as possible, it also includes not allowing the economy to overheat, which can stop expansions short,” she told Bloomberg. Fed policy makers generally played up the performance of the U.S. economy and the jobs market in separate appearances last week. “The economy is strong,” New York Fed President John Williams declared at Rutgers University in New Jersey. He said he sees “people who’ve been out of the labor force for maybe years, or much of their life, now getting job training, getting back into the labor force.” Dallas Fed President Robert Kaplan agreed with that upbeat assessment, telling reporters in Houston that the U.S. was “at or past full employment.” At 3.6% in October, the jobless rate is hovering near a 50-year low and is below the 4.2% rate that Fed officials reckon is sustainable in the long-run, according to the median projection of policy makers released in September. Kaplan said the Fed had acted in “a modest, restrained and limited way” to support the economy by cutting rates this year. “We want to give it some time to work through the economy and to see how events unfold,” he said, adding, “I’d want to be patient here, at this point.” That approach isn’t seconded by the President, as his tweet last week attacking the Fed made clear. So, we will see. There are many uncertainties that could affect both domestic and foreign markets — and while inflation is not one of them, at least, not at the moment, that could be a modestly strong talking point for the administration as long as a reasonable likelihood remains for significant easing of the trade tensions with China and as long as global market tensions do not intensify. These are all key issues that should be watched closely by producers as the season advances, Washington Insider believes.

| Rural Advocate News | Tuesday November 5, 2019 |


Farmer Borrowing Costs Down Commodity loans disbursed in November by the Commodity Credit Corporation (CCC) will have a 2.625% interest rate, down from 2.750% in October. This marks the fifth straight month that the interest rate on commodity loans has declined. The interest rate in effect for November is a full percentage point below the level in place in November 2018 when it was 3.625%. This means lower borrowing costs for farmers opting to utilize the nonrecourse marketing assistance loan (MAL) program for their 2019 production. In USDA’s August farm income update, they noted that interest rates were a key farm expense area that had risen.

| Rural Advocate News | Tuesday November 5, 2019 |


Positive Views Continue On US-China Trade Front Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross said he is optimistic the U.S. would reach a “Phase One” trade deal with China this month and said licenses would be coming “very shortly” for American companies to sell components to Huawei Technologies, adding that the government received 260 requests. “You will not have a deal on anything until you have a deal on everything,” Ross told the Financial Times in Bangkok. “But we are quite optimistic that the remaining issues for the phase one can be closed out.” China also gave a positive readout on the situation. U.S. and Chinese trade officials were able to reach a “consensus on principles,” according to a statement released Friday by China’s Commerce Department. The negotiators moved on to begin discussing Phase Two, the Chinese said. As for a location for a signing of the agreement, Ross said Iowa, Alaska, Hawaii and locations in China are all possible places for President Donald Trump and Chinese President Xi Jinping to sign the deal after the cancellation of this month’s Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) summit in Chile due to unrest in the country. President Trump also mentioned the possibility of Iowa for the meeting in remarks on Friday — Trump reportedly wants to make sure the signing takes place in the U.S.

| Rural Advocate News | Tuesday November 5, 2019 |


Tuesday Watch List Markets The U.S. Census Bureau releases the U.S. trade deficit for September at 7:30 a.m CST, Tuesday's only official report. Later in the morning, USDA will take the Census Bureau report and release export data for various ag products. Otherwise, traders remain interested in weather forecasts for both, North and South America and any new trade comments concerning China. Weather Mostly dry conditions for harvest will be noted Tuesday. Precipitation will be confined to light snow in the far Northern Plains and light rain in the southeastern Midwest. Temperatures will again be below to much below normal.

| Rural Advocate News | Tuesday November 5, 2019 |


Ross Optimistic U.S. Will Reach Phase One Agreement with China Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross seems confident the U.S. and China will reach a “phase one” agreement this month on trade. Speaking at the Association of Southeast Asian Nations, Ross says the U.S. and China are “making good process,” according to Bloomberg News. He added that Iowa, Alaska, Hawaii and locations in China were all possible places for Trump and Xi Jinping to sign the deal after Chile canceled the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation summit. The two leaders were expected to sign the agreement during the event in Chile later this month. President Donald Trump told reporters that if an agreement is reached, it would be signed somewhere in the United States. China Monday offered little comment regarding a location to sign the agreement, only to say the U.S. and China are in constant communication. Meanwhile, Ross wouldn’t say whether the U.S. would halt new tariffs on China planned in December. China has asked the U.S. to suspend the December round of tariffs, as a condition of signing the phase one agreement. ************************************************************************************* Pence Presses House Democrats to Hold USMCA Vote Vice President Mike Pence again called on the House of Representatives to bring the U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement to a vote. Speaking at an event in Virginia over the weekend, Pence says Democrats in the House “are spending all their time on endless investigations and a partisan impeachment.” Pence told the event, “The time has come for your congressmen and every Democrat from Virginia to put politics aside and pass USMCA.” House Democrats maintain the impeachment process will not impede progress on the trade agreement. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi last week hinted she was optimistic they could reach a deal with the White House. Few days remain on the legislative calendar to pass the agreement this year, and the House is on recess this week. Pelosi told reporters last week, “hopefully we can do it sooner,” but she wouldn’t rule out the process stretching into next year. The U.S., Canada and Mexico agreed to the accord now more than a year ago, and Mexico ratified the agreement this summer. ************************************************************************************* Trump Names FDA Commissioner Nominee President Donald Trump’s nominee to head the Food and Drug Administration offers a bolstered resume in the medical field. Trump recently announced Stephen Hahn of Texas as the nominee to be the next FDA Commissioner. Hahn has been Chief Medical Executive at The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center in Houston, Texas, since May of 2018. MDACC is a research-driven patient care organization that has approximately 21,000 employees with an annual revenue of $5 billion and the largest number of clinical trials in the United States. As a radiation oncologist, Dr. Hahn specializes in treating lung cancer and sarcoma. Politico reports Hahn offers a sharp contrast from former FDA chief Scott Gottlieb, as Hahn’s last government job was in the 1990s, while Gotleib had a wealth of federal experience when nominated. The nomination passes over acting commissioner Ned Sharpless, who is the former head of the National Cancer Institute. Hahn must be confirmed by the Senate. ************************************************************************************* Bill Would Create New USDA Agency Focused on Supporting Innovation Legislation introduced Monday would create a new research agency in the Department of Agriculture. Introduced by Senator Michael Bennet, a Colorado Democrat, and Representative Cindy Axne, an Iowa Democrat, the legislation would create the Advanced Research Projects Agency–Terra (Latin for land) to invest in innovative technologies that increase economic opportunity for farmers. ARPA–Terra would provide competitive funding to land-grant universities for early stage research on technologies that industry might not undertake due to the long-term and high-risk technological barriers that exist. The agency will enable the United States to develop technologies – and put them in the hands of farmers to enhance export competitiveness, environmental sustainability, and crop resilience to extreme weather. Axne says the bill “will help our researchers continue to lead the way in Agriculture science and development.” Bennet says the legislation will “strengthen American global leadership in agricultural research and development.” The lawmakers point out that the legislation is supported by the American Farm Bureau Federation. ************************************************************************************* USDA Broadband Investments Continue Continuing support for rural broadband, the Department of Agriculture Monday announced a $3.8 million broadband investment in Virginia. The announcement creates and improves high-speed broadband connections to more than 1,250 rural homes in Virginia as part of the new ReConnect Pilot Program investments. DJ LaVoy, deputy undersecretary for rural development, says the USDA mission of increasing rural prosperity “cannot be achieved without addressing the digital divide rural communities face.” In March of 2018, Congress provided $600 million to USDA to expand broadband infrastructure and services in rural America. Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue announced the ReConnect program in December, and started receiving applications in May of this year. USDA received 146 applications requesting $1.4 billion in funding across all three ReConnect Program funding products, a 100 percent loan, 100 percent grant, and loan-grant combinations. USDA is reviewing applications and announcing approved projects on a rolling basis. Additional investments will be announced in the coming weeks. ************************************************************************************* Iowa Signs Propane Delivery Relief Emergency Proclamation Propane delivery issues prompted Iowa’s Governor to sign an emergency proclamation last week. The Emergency Executive Order signed by Governor Kim Reynolds will help “help resolve delivery challenges resulting from increased seasonal propane demands,” according to the Iowa Department of Agriculture. The proclamation exempts drivers of commercial motor vehicles delivering propane from the hours of service requirements during November. Iowa Agriculture Secretary Mike Naig says a late harvest and wet weather has left farmers with higher-than-normal moisture levels in their corn. The propane industry states there is propane available in the Midwest, but there are transportation and pipeline capacity limitations that are creating logistical challenges. The Iowa Department of Agriculture is working with the Iowa Propane Gas Association to monitor the situation and explore options to expedite the delivery of propane to homes, farms and businesses. The industry is tracking potential interruptions to rail or pipeline distribution lines and working with those industries to help facilitate the movement of propane during peak demand periods.

| Rural Advocate News | Monday November 4, 2019 |


Washington Insider: Happy Talk and Reality There is quite a bit of talk around about the outlook for the economy these days, Bloomberg is reporting this week. President Trump has been saying that “a robust economy will protect him from impeachment and ensure his re-election.” However, Bloomberg says that argument rests “on a shaky foundation,” and goes on to explain. It says that the middle-class Americans who are the main targets of the President’s economic pitch “aren’t sharing much in the gains of U.S. growth.” Worse yet for the administration wage growth has been slower in the counties the president carried in 2016.” By several measures, middle-class Americans’ incomes have risen more slowly in recent months than during Barack Obama’s final years, which were “hardly a period renowned for gangbuster pay increases.” Workers should finally be getting big raises with the unemployment rate down to 3.5%. Yet while wage growth picked up last year, it is still subdued and slowing again after manufacturing output contracted in the first half of the year, Bloomberg said. The economy’s overall performance hasn’t changed much since Trump took office, with GDP growth averaging 2.6% versus 2.4% during Obama’s second term, far below the president’s own forecasts, Bloomberg says. On Wednesday, the Commerce Department reported the economy expanded 1.9% at an annualized rate in the third quarter, a level that when Obama was president Trump derided as a sign the “economy is in deep trouble.” While the jobless rate continued to fall during the president’s first two years, median household income, adjusted for inflation, grew at an average annual rate of 1.3% – down from a 4.1% annual rate the previous two years and a 1.8% annual rate during Obama’s entire second term, Bloomberg said. Asked about the income and wage data, White House spokesman Judd Deere argued that Trump’s “policies of lower taxes, deregulation, and fair and reciprocal trade have supported the longest economic recovery in U.S. history with record low unemployment and rising wages.” However, Bloomberg noted that there are numerous measures of workers’ wages that show tepid growth under the current administration despite a roaring stock market, surging corporate profits and a $1.5 trillion deficit-financed tax cut that is often promoted as a way to rev up pay gains. Nevertheless, in counties Trump won in 2016, growth in real average weekly earnings slowed to a 1.2% annual rate under his presidency, down from 1.5% the prior two years, Bloomberg said. In the presidential battlegrounds of Wisconsin, Michigan and Pennsylvania the drop-off has been sharper with weekly earnings in counties he carried up 0.8% annually versus 1.8% the previous two years. The “manufacturing recession” threatens to further weaken pay growth in those states, where 1 in 6 workers hold factory jobs, Bloomberg says. The president often claims that wage gains have picked up since he took office. But with inflation factored in, overall progress on wages doesn’t look much different. Real average hourly earnings under President Trump have grown at an average annual rate of 1.1% through September versus 1% during Obama’s second term. Workers in the middle fared worse. The median weekly paychecks for full-time workers, adjusted for inflation, have grown at an average annual rate of 1% through September versus 1.5% during Obama’s second term. A measure created to minimize potential distortions from more low-wage workers entering the workforce also shows slower pay growth under the current administration. The Atlanta Federal Reserve Bank’s national wage growth tracker is based on surveying the same workers 12 months apart on their pay and calculating their median raise. Adjusted for inflation, the index increased at an average annual rate of 1.3% during the past two years versus 1.7% during Obama’s second term. And, there is considerable diversity among groups, Bloomberg says. Real median earnings for high-school educated men – a key Trump constituency – rose at a 1.2% average annual rate during the administration’s first two years, up from a 0.4% rate the prior two years. Conversely, high-school educated women’s real median earnings declined at a 1.1% annual rate under this administration versus a 0.6% rise during Obama’s final two years. High-school-educated men still haven’t caught up to their pay in 2000. Their $45,459 median earnings in 2018 was $2,128 lower than their counterparts at the turn of the century. High-school-educated women are further behind, with 2018 median earnings of $32,412, down $2,356. Weak pay increases contribute to “ambiguous feelings” about the economy even as unemployment remains at historic lows, said Alan Abramowitz, a political science professor at Emory University who studies public opinion and presidential election forecasting. “What matters politically is the subjective economy, how people feel about the economy,” Abramowitz said. “Real incomes aren’t rising that much, so it’s not obvious that things are that good.” So, we will see. Much depends on the current medium-term economic policy trends and trade developments. Clearly, the administration intends to lean heavily on the “economic growth and prosperity arguments,” but whether these prove persuasive remains to be seen – and should be watched closely by producers in the coming months, Washington Insider believes.

| Rural Advocate News | Monday November 4, 2019 |


Mexico, US Officials More Upbeat On USMCA Mexico’s North American negotiator Jesus Seade, after talking with House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., and U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer said he is optimistic the White House and lawmakers can reach an agreement on the U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA) before Thanksgiving. Seade was basing his outlook on conversations this week with the two officials. Seade stressed that any changes agreed to between Lighthizer and Democrats is really a “proposal of sorts” because it will require a stamp of approval from Mexico and Canada. But Seade said he is optimistic the changes will be acceptable to Mexico — which would allow for Mexico City to approve the changes “in a few days,” clearing the path for Congress to vote on USMCA ratification before the end of the year. But if not, Mexico could be forced to get back into negotiations with the U.S. and offer counterproposals, he said. Pelosi on Thursday said she will allow a vote in return for concessions on labor and enforcement provisions. Pelosi said talks between congressional Democrats and Trump administration officials over changes to the pact with Canada and Mexico were in the “last mile,” and she was optimistic that an agreement could be reached. “If we can come to terms, [which] I think we are close to doing, this will be a template for future trade agreements,” Pelosi said. This continues to match our expectation that a vote in the U.S. House remains likely yet this year.

| Rural Advocate News | Monday November 4, 2019 |


US, China Looking For New Spot for Phase One Deal Signing The U.S. and China are continuing their work on finalizing a Phase One trade deal, with China’s Ministry of Commerce saying Thursday the two sides are continuing their bilateral negotiations according to plan and that the talks are progressing well. They said the two sides are still in close communication and that top-level discussions would take place Friday. President Donald Trump tweeted Thursday morning, “China and the USA are working on selecting a new site for signing of Phase One of Trade Agreement, about 60 percent of total deal, after APEC in Chile was canceled due to unrelated circumstances,” Trump said. “The new location will be announced soon. President Xi and President Trump will do signing!” Trump on Friday floated the idea of signing the deal in Iowa. "I want to get the deal done first," Trump told reporters. "But we're thinking about Iowa. You know why? Because it would be the largest order in history for farmers. ... It's a possibility." However, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Geng Shuang dismissed reports that China had suggested Macau as a possible signing location as purely speculation. As for the Phase One deal, Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross told Fox Business Network that the U.S. is pretty comfortable that the Phase One deal is in good shape and that the U.S. hopes it can be signed around the same timeframe as the cancelled APEC meeting. Meanwhile, China’s Ministry of Justice published a draft rule Friday that would allow foreign-funded firms to make stock and bond issuances in China and overseas and would let foreign investors in China repatriate profits. The draft rule is aimed at facilitating a foreign investment law that would take effect January 1, 2020.

| Rural Advocate News | Monday November 4, 2019 |


Monday Watch List Markets The latest weather forecasts will get a look early Monday with many hoping for more favorable harvest weather this week. U.S. factory orders will be reported at 9 a.m. CST, followed by weekly grain export inspections at 10 a.m. and Crop Progress at 3 p.m. CST. Any trade news pertaining to China also gets attention. Weather Snow will cross the Northern Plains Monday, disrupting harvest. Drier conditions elsewhere will allow progress. Conditions will be cool to cold north and warm south.

| Rural Advocate News | Saturday November 2, 2019 |


Beijing Considers Axing Extra Tariffs on U.S. Ag Products to Boost Imports The head of a government-sponsored trade association in China says Beijing could remove extra tariffs on U.S. farm goods to smooth the way for importers to potentially buy up to $50 billion in products. A Reuters article says Beijing would make that move instead of directing importers to purchase specific amounts of goods. President Donald Trump said earlier in October that China would be buying anywhere between $40 and $50 billion worth of agricultural goods as part of a “Phase One” deal to pave the way for an end to the trade war that broke out in 2018. However, that number has become problematic as China wants to purchase U.S. ag products based on market conditions, rather than commit to a specific number. The President of the China Chamber of Commerce for Import and Exports of Foodstuffs says, “What the government can do is remove the extra tariffs, which both sides need to do. Then, let the companies make purchases based on their own will and market rules.” The chamber president says that would create conditions for a “convenient” and “good” trade environment, rather than creating obligations for firms to buy a certain amount of product during a certain time. While China can step up purchases based on market conditions, $40 to $50 billion is “very high.” ********************************************************************************************** Thailand Wants Talks on Loss of Trade Privileges with the U.S. Thailand will be looking to start talks with the United States about its decision to end preferential privileges of a large number of exports from Thailand. A New York Daily News article says the acting director-general of the Thailand Commerce Ministry’s Foreign Trade Department says his office had been warning exporters about the potential loss of duty-free access on multiple exports. The Office of the U.S. Trade Representative announced on Friday that it was suspending $1.3 billion in trade preferences for Thailand under the Generalized System of Preferences for its failure to adequately protect worker rights. Thailand wants to initiate talks with the U.S. before the move takes effect in April. Thailand has faced complaints for years over multiple labor issues, especially in its fisheries industry. The U.S. announcement about the revocation says, “Despite six years of engagement, Thailand has yet to take steps to provide internationally recognized worker rights in many important areas identified in a 2015 petition from the AFL-CIO.” The U.S. move drew special attention because it came soon after Thailand had announced a ban on glyphosate. However, both U.S. and Thai officials denied any connection. ********************************************************************************************** NCBA Announces Campaign to Promote its Beef Quality Assurance Program About 85 percent of U.S. beef comes from farmers and ranchers who are certified in the Beef Quality Assurance Program. However, do consumers know what that means? A new campaign from the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association aims to answer that question for consumers. The goal is to close the gap between consumer knowledge and what the country’s producers are doing to produce high-quality beef in a humane and environmentally friendly way. Consumers are also more interested than ever before about how their food is produced. The new campaign began last month with a series of videos from “Beef, It’s What’s for Dinner.” The videos highlight how cattle farmers and ranchers raise their cattle under BQA specifications. The videos, as well as corresponding audio clips, will be used to advertise BQA on platforms like YouTube, Hulu, Pandora, and Spotify. Consumers will also get to learn more through interactive “BQ&A” Instagram stories that address common questions about how cattle are raised. The videos, website, and social interactions with consumers give them an overview of what the BQA program is and the ongoing commitment of cattle farmers and ranchers to care for their animals and provide the safest and highest quality beef possible. “The campaign expands the reach of a traditionally producer-facing program,” says Josh White, executive director of producer education at NCBA. U.S. beef producers who have embraced the BQA program are excited that the program is now a “consumer-facing” effort as well. ********************************************************************************************* USDA Finds New Site in Kansas City for ERS, NIFA Ag Secretary Sonny Perdue announced that the USDA officially signed a lease on office space in Kansas City, Missouri. The Hagstrom Report says it’s now the new place of work for most of the employees of the USDA’s Economic Research Service and the National Institute of Food and Agriculture. It’s at 805 Pennsylvania Avenue right in downtown Kansas City. Employees of both agencies who made the move out of Washington, D.C., had been working in another USDA facility. “We’re excited to announce ERS and NIFA’s new, permanent home in downtown Kansas City,” says Perdue. “It provides clarity on commute times and work-life balance for our employees. Both agencies have been working at the Beacon Center after relocating to the region over a month ago.” Perdue says signing the lease is an important next step to maximizing the efficiency, effectiveness, and customer service over the long-term. In a separate statement, USDA also says 90 percent of USDA employees are located outside of the DC area. Before their relocation, ERS and NIFA were the only USDA agencies that didn’t have any representation outside of the nation’s capital. Out of 329 ERS positions, 76 remain in DC. Out of a total of 344 NIFA positions, just 21 remain located in Washington, D.C. ********************************************************************************************** World Wheat Crop Experiencing Mixed Planting Conditions Drought conditions in the southern U.S. plains continue to be a growing concern for winter wheat producers. The southern plains are the top winter wheat producing region in the country. Extra precipitation helped to boost yields and harvests this year, even though growers planted fewer acres than in previous growing seasons. A return to the more typical arid conditions may put some limit on crop potential come harvest time in 2020. However, other countries that grow a lot of wheat are also having some concerns. Growers in Great Britain are hoping for dry weather to help pick up the pace in planting throughout rain-soaked farm fields. Growers in Ukraine, a major wheat-producing competitor of the U.S. need a good rainfall on their newly planted fields before settling in for the winter. As the planting period is mostly coming to an end in the northern hemisphere, places like France and Germany have seen higher-than-normal rainfall over the past month. That’s not only slowed the harvest of summer crops, but it’s also planting of winter wheat behind schedule. Russia is the world’s top winter wheat exporter and may plant a record amount of the crop this year. Favorable temps and near-normal moisture have made it possible for Russian producers to plant in an ideal timeframe. ********************************************************************************************** Montana Senator Introduces Resolution to Restart COOL Senator Jon Tester of Montana introduced a resolution in support of the reestablishment of Country of Origin Labeling. The COOL resolution puts forth a firm statement of support for the program, which was repealed back in 2015. The introduction follows months of coordination and collaboration by Tester, who’s been pulling together consumer and producer stakeholders to push the labeling solution forward. U.S. Cattlemen’s Association Director Emeritus Leo McDonnell says pushing the resolution forward could ultimately benefit consumers at their local grocery stores. “Consumers are increasingly seeking out more information on the products they choose to feed their families,” he says. “The U.S. produces the highest quality, safest, and most eco-conscious beef in the world. U.S. cattle producers deserve the opportunity to showcase their product in the retail marketplace.” The group thanks Senator Tester for championing their Truth in Labeling efforts through the introduction of the resolution. “We’re asking other Senators to follow his lead and stand with American consumers and ranching families,” McDonnell says.

| Rural Advocate News | Friday November 1, 2019 |


Cancelation of APEC Meeting Doesn’t Change China Trade Talks Chile’s cancellation of the November APEC summit shouldn’t change the outlook for trade talks with China. Planned for November 16 and 17, Chile canceled the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation summit to focus on restoring law and order in the country, according to Reuters. President Donald Trump and Chinse President Xi Jinping (Shee Jihn’-ping) were set to sign a so-called phase one agreement along the sidelines of the event. However, President Trump Thursday said China and the U.S. were working on selecting a new site for signing the agreement, add the new location would be announced soon. A Chinese Foreign Affairs Ministry spokesperson downplayed any concern, adding the U.S. and China remain in constant communication in working towards signing the agreement. Trump says the phase one agreement includes roughly 60 percent of the total deal sought by the United States. The agreement also covers $40-50 billion of U.S. agricultural exports to China over the next two years. ************************************************************************************* Farm Bankruptcies up 24 Percent Since Trade War Start Farm bankruptcies are at the highest level seen since 2011. Data compiled by the American Farm Bureau Federation shows farm bankruptcies surged 24 percent since the trade with China began. For the 12-month period ending September 2019, Chapter 12 farm bankruptcies totaled 580 filings, the highest level since 676 filings in 2011. AFBF Chief Economist John Newton points out that bankruptcy filings over the last 12 months were the highest in Wisconsin at 48 filings, followed by 37 filings in Georgia, Nebraska and Kansas. Iowa, Kansas, Maryland, Minnesota, Nebraska, New Hampshire, South Dakota, Wisconsin and West Virginia all experienced Chapter 12 bankruptcy filings at or above 10-year highs. USDA currently projects farm income in 2019 to reach $88 billion, the highest net farm income since 2014’s $92 billion, but still 29 percent below 2013’s record high. Nearly 40 percent of that income, roughly $33 billion, is related to trade and disaster assistance, along with crop insurance programs. ************************************************************************************* South Dakota Senators Introduce Beef Integrity Act Senators Mike Rounds and John Thune this week took steps to keep beef born, raised and slaughtered in foreign countries from receiving a “Product of the U.S.A.” label. The South Dakota republicans say the U.S. Beef Integrity Act would make certain that the “Product of the U.S.A.” label only goes to beef and beef products exclusively derived from animals born, raised and slaughtered in the United States. Currently, the Food Safety and Inspection Service does not require that beef be born, raised and slaughtered in the U.S. in order to carry a “Product of the U.S.A.” label. The U.S. Cattlemen’s Association says the legislation would “immediately close the loophole,” and allow for a continued push towards establishing of a country-of-origin labeling program. However, the National Cattlemen’s Association says, “In general, NCBA members are opposed to requesting additional government regulation on our industry." The organization recently formed a working group to gather information regarding labeling practices to "fully understand the scope of the issue" and seek solutions. ************************************************************************************* USDA Announces NIFA, ERS, Office Location in Kansas City The Department of Agriculture this week announced the signing of a lease for office space in downtown Kansas City, Missouri. 805 Pennsylvania Avenue will be home to the National Institute of Food and Agriculture, and the Economic Research Service. The lease is part of USDA's effort to move the two agencies out of the Washington, D.C., area, for alleged cost savings and to put the agencies closer to their customers. The criticized effort moves roughly 600 jobs to Kansas City, with several job openings as many USDA employees of the two agencies opted to seek employment elsewhere, rather than relocate. The Kansas City metro, split by the Kansas-Missouri border, has faced an economic border war for years. While the two states have worked towards a so-called truce regarding economic incentives to lure employers, Kansas City and Port KC, a political subdivision of the State of Missouri, offered $26 million worth of incentives to support the relocation. Missouri Governor Mike Parson says the USDA location will “benefit both Missouri and Kansas for years to come.” ************************************************************************************* Women in Ag Survey Reveals Business Acumen and Leadership Women are active advocates for agriculture and successful business owners interested in filling leadership roles, according to a new Farm Bureau survey. A majority of those surveyed, 91 percent, also believe there should be more women in leadership roles in the industry. More than 3,000 women completed the informal survey online, which AFBF conducted to determine the goals and achievements of women in agriculture. Sherry Saylor, chair of Farm Bureau's Women's Leadership Committee, says, "We hope to use the survey results to drive our program of work and also to give women their voice and help them make even more of an impact in their communities." More than 50 percent of women surveyed have started their own business that's still in operation, 25 percent have not started a business but indicated they would like to do so in the future. Respondents cited prioritizing and finding time to accomplish tasks, acquiring financial support and marketing plan development as their top business challenges. Full survey results are available online at fb.org/women. ************************************************************************************* Increased Demand for Dark Chicken Meat Creating Market Opportunities Evolving U.S. demographics are shifting consumer preferences from white meat chicken to dark meat, according to new research by CoBank. Since 2000, chicken breast's share of the value of the bird has dropped from 66 percent to just 45 percent, while the value of chicken legs has increased dark meat's share from 12 percent to near 30 percent. The report says the change presents the chicken industry with an opportunity to diversify its profit centers. Advances in mechanical deboning technology have allowed U.S. chicken producers to capture the emerging demand for dark meat while addressing the ever-present labor shortage, according to CoBank. Age and ethnicity are behind the change. Millennials are projected to surpass Baby Boomers in 2019 as the largest living adult generation in the U.S. As Baby Boomers age, their consumption of meat, including white chicken meat, is declining. Latino and Asian populations are growing in the U.S. and dark meat chicken, rather than white meat, is typically used in the cuisines of their cultures.

| Rural Advocate News | Friday November 1, 2019 |


Washington Insider: FY 2020 Spending Progress Slow The Senate on Thursday cleared a “minibus” spending package that covered $214 billion in government spending for Fiscal Year (FY) 2020 (HR 3055) which melded the Agriculture (S 2522), Commerce-Justice-Science (S 2584), Interior-Environment (S 2580) and Transportation-HUD (S 2520) spending bills. But, as CQ Roll Call reports, “But further progress isn't guaranteed.” That view comes as a procedural vote on a second “minibus” package (HR 2740) would fund the Defense (S 2474) and Labor-HHS-Education measures. The procedural vote, which needed 60 votes to be approved, was rejected. The issue, not surprisingly, Democrat objections on the border wall. “Democratic objections to funding levels and disagreement over when and how the Trump administration should be able to divert Pentagon funding for the border wall doomed the cloture motion to proceed to debate,” CQ Roll Call said. However, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., blamed the impeachment situation for the Democratic opposition to moving ahead on the spending plan. "I'd hoped our Democratic friends would be able to put impeachment aside, at least, long enough to fund the Department of Defense," McConnell said. Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., did not cite the impeachment situation in his remarks on package. "A bill that is supposed to provide resources for our troops and their families actually steals money from them and puts it toward a border wall that President Trump promised Mexico would pay for," Schumer stated. But the wall is not the only component that is a stumbling block. There are significant differences between the House and Senate over topline spending numbers even after the budget accord reached in July that set overall spending amounts. "The only thing that will move the appropriations process forward is agreement on allocations, a step which will require Senate Republicans to drop their demands to fund a border wall by cutting education," said House Appropriations Committee spokesman Evan Hollander. This now keeps the spending situation more uncertain than it has been. Currently, the government is operating on a continuing resolution (CR) that is in place through November 21. But the fact the Senate has not moved ahead on most of the spending plans, odds are rising even higher that another CR will be needed to keep the government from shutting down just ahead of Thanksgiving. Some favor just a short-term extension of spending, while others want any temporary government funding plan to keep the government open into 2020. Given that lack of agreement, getting even a temporary funding plan in place could prove to be a challenge. There are also precious few legislative days that both chambers will be in session this month, with a break for Thanksgiving at the end of the month. Some also fret that if the government were to shut down, that could imperil the Market Facilitation Program (MFP) 2 payments that have been flowing to farmers. The first installment of those payments has totaled over $6 billion and a decision is looming on making a second tranche of those payments this month. A chunk of U.S. farm income is coming from the government – $33 billion out of the estimated $88 billion in net farm income is expected to come from government payments of one form or another. So we will see. It appeared after the most-recent government shutdown, that all parties – the House, Senate and the administration – agreed that shutting down the government yielded no real benefits and produced only costs. Hopefully, that view will not have faded as November 21 draws closer and closer. Agriculture needs to closely monitor this situation as these issues outside of agriculture could impact spending for the agency responsible for dealing with farmers, Washington Insider believes.

| Rural Advocate News | Friday November 1, 2019 |


USDA’s Censky Downplays APEC Summit Situation Re: US-China Trade Deal The cancellation of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) summit in Chile prompted immediate speculation that the prospects for signing Phase One of a trade deal between the U.S. and China were suddenly dimmed or put into question. While addressing reporters via a teleconference from Ghana, USDA Deputy Secretary Steve Censky was asked about the situation. While acknowledging he was not in Washington and that the APEC development was new, “I will say that I do know that those discussions between the United States and China have been continuing this week to try and finalize that Phase One agreement.” Given that, Censky reasoned, “everything is still all systems go for the United States and China to keep working to finalize that Phase One trade agreement as quickly as possible. And of course, we had the goal of having it finalized by mid-November for the APEC summit in Chile.” “But I think the goal of having it finalized by mid-November still remains,” Censky concluded.

| Rural Advocate News | Friday November 1, 2019 |


Chile Cancellation of APEC Summit Sets Off Search for US-China Deal Signing Location Chile Wednesday cancelled the upcoming Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) summit where President Donald Trump and Chinese President Xi Jinping planned to meet and potentially sign Phase One of a trade accord between the two nations. The cancellation by Chile came as social unrest continued to rock Santiago. APEC officials indicated there were no plans to hold the meeting elsewhere, but Reuters reported that the U.S. was indicating a Trump/Xi meeting could take place in Alaska or Hawaii with China said to be suggesting Macau. Trump has also indicated he may want to travel to Australia for the Presidents Cup golf tournament that starts December 9, putting him in the region. Chinese diplomatic observers and government advisers said the APEC cancellation had eased the pressure on negotiators from China and the U.S. to finalize the Phase One portion of the trade deal. The Trump administration insisted it would continue to press to finalize Phase One of the accord in the coming weeks. “We look forward to finalizing Phase One of the historic trade deal with China within the same time frame, and when we have an announcement, we’ll let you know,” White House spokesman Hogan Gidley told news services.

| Rural Advocate News | Friday November 1, 2019 |


Friday Watch List Markets According to forecasts, Friday should mark the first day of a stretch of mostly dry weather across the entire Midwest, offering more favorable help for harvest. At 7:30 a.m. CDT, the U.S. Labor Department will release October nonfarm payrolls and the U.S. unemployment rate. An index of U.S. manufacturing follows at 9 a.m. USDA's monthly report of Fats and Oils caps off the week's reports at 2 p.m. CDT. Weather Light snow is in store for northern crop areas Friday. Dry conditions will be in place elsewhere. Harvest progress will remain slow due to Midwest rain and snow the past few days.

| Rural Advocate News | Thursday October 31, 2019 |


Chinese Ag Purchases Becoming a Sticking Point in Negotiations U.S. President Donald Trump has said China will commit to buying up to $50 billion in U.S. agricultural products as part of a Phase One trade agreement between the countries, However, Reuters says that amount is becoming a sticking point in the negotiations. That $50 billion is more than double the amount of U.S. ag commodities that China purchased during the year before the trade war began. People who’ve been briefed on the negotiations say that U.S. officials are continuing to push for that amount in talks, while Beijing doesn’t want to commit to purchasing that number of products in a certain time frame. China would like its buyers to be able to buy based on market conditions. An official of a Chinese state-owned company says China “doesn’t want to buy a lot of products that people here don’t need or something during a time when it’s not in demand. If a lot of U.S. products come into China all at once, the domestic market might not be able to digest them.” As an example, that same official points out that China wouldn’t be able to use large amounts of U.S. soybeans because of the African Swine Fever virus that’s decimated their herds. ********************************************************************************************** Biofuels Groups Ask EPA to Fix Flawed Proposal Growth Energy CEO Emily Skor testified on Wednesday before Environmental Protection Agency officials at a hearing on its proposed supplemental rule on 2020 biofuels targets under the Renewable Fuels Standard. Skor, whose organization represents more than half of U.S. ethanol producers, is asking the EPA to fix the flawed draft proposal and reverse the demand destruction that has shuttered biofuels plants across the country. “As drafted, EPA’s plan fails to accurately make up for lost gallons and betrays President Trump’s promise to rural America,” she said during testimony. “It cuts the fix we were promised in half, if not more, and destroys what may be our last chance to bring back the ethanol plants that have shut down and help to ease the burden facing American farmers.” The National Biodiesel Board also testified on Wednesday and said they appreciate the proposal to account for small refinery exemptions in the future. However, they pointed out that the EPA’s supplemental rule doesn’t do anything about small refinery exemptions before 2020. “Over four billion gallons of demand for biofuels has been lost due to small refinery exemptions from 2016 through 2018,” says David Cobb, NBB Federal Affairs Director. “The impact has been particularly significant for biomass-based diesel producers because biomass-based diesel can be used to satisfy multiple categories of fuel under the RFS.” ********************************************************************************************** Another Attempt to Fix Farm Labor Problems Introduced in Congress Representatives Zoe (ZOH-ee) Lofgren of California and Dan Newhouse of Washington introduced comprehensive legislation that attempts to overhaul the nation’s agricultural labor programs. Politico says the legislation will attempt to “thread the needle” between agriculture and labor groups that have long butted heads over the issue. The bill, called the Farm Workforce Modernization Act, would provide a way to legal status for undocumented farmworkers who’ve been working at least two years on their jobs and are planning to continue. The bill would also put into place a mandatory E-Verify system nationwide for farmers, something that would give conservatives incentive to support the bill. It will simplify the H-2A application process, cap wages for farmworkers, and it will raise funding for USDA programs that support housing for laborers. It also attempts to meet the needs of dairy farmers and others who need year-round labor. The bill offers 40,000 extra green cards for agricultural labor and creates a capped program to grant three-year visas for workers in certain sectors, including dairy. Politico says it’s the latest attempt to bring together labor and ag groups, as well as convince both Republicans and Democrats to pass major reform to the farm labor system. It’s something that has failed multiple times in the past. ********************************************************************************************* House Ag Committee Reauthorizes Commodity Futures Trading Commission The House Agriculture Committee passed legislation to reauthorize the Commodity Futures Trading Commission through 2025. H.R.Bill 4895 passed by voice vote on Wednesday morning. “The bill helps strengthen our financial market infrastructure and makes it more resilient,” says Ag Committee Chair Collin Peterson. “It also combats fraud and promotes cooperation among the regulators. What’s even more important to me is that it was put together in a bipartisan way that sends a strong message to the Senate.” Peterson says the people that look to U.S. markets for integrity don’t care about political wins and losses, but rather expect legislators to conduct the business of the committee. The bill includes system safeguard requirements for clearinghouses, trading platforms, and swap data repositories. It also clarifies provisions for relief in the event of broker bankruptcy. The bill adds whistleblower protections for employees of organizations that fall under CFTC jurisdiction, as well as enables further cooperation between the CFTC and international regulatory bodies. ********************************************************************************************** Agency Partnership Designed to Reduce Food Waste The U.S. Department of Agriculture, the Environmental Protection Agency, and the Food and Drug Administration announced they’re partnering with the Food Waste Reduction Alliance. It’s part of the “Winning on Reducing Food Waste Initiative” launched by the three agencies last year. The agencies will formalize industry education and outreach efforts with the Grocery Manufacturers Association, the Food Marketing Institute, and the National Restaurant Association, which are the three founding partners in the Food Waste Reduction Alliance. The alliance is working on three goals, including reducing the amount of food waste, increasing the amount of food donated to those in need, and diverting food waste from landfills. In the United States, more than one-third of all available food goes uneaten through loss or waste. Food is the single biggest type of waste in America’s daily trash. The agencies will contribute to the goal of reducing food waste through research, community investments, education and outreach, voluntary programs, public-private partnerships, technical assistance, and policy discussion. ********************************************************************************************** NCBA Happy with Hours of Service Legislation Introduced in Congress The National Cattlemen’s Beef Association is pleased with bipartisan legislation introduced in Congress that would provide flexible and common-sense relief from Hours of Service rules for agricultural haulers. The Responsible and Efficient Agriculture Destination Act would make sure that the current Hours of Service exemption that applies to the 150-air-mile radius from the source of an agricultural commodity adds the same radius flexibility to the back end of a trip or the destination. The bill also clarifies that this exemption would apply in every state on a year-round basis because agriculture and specifically livestock move across the country every day. “Agricultural haulers, especially those that move livestock, face very unique challenges that haulers in other industries don’t face,” says NCBA President Jennifer Houston. “This bill recognizes that need.” The bill was introduced in the House by Democrat Angie Craig of Minnesota and Republican Lloyd Smucker of Pennsylvania. “On behalf of all cattle producers, I’d like to thank everyone that signed on to this bill, which works toward needed flexibility within Hours of Service regulations for our livestock haulers,” Houston added.

| Rural Advocate News | Thursday October 31, 2019 |


Washington Insider: Modestly Bad Trade News There was more than a little bad economic and trade news for the ag sector this week, including a report that U.S. farm bankruptcies in September surged 24% to the highest since 2011. Bloomberg linked the bankruptcy data to “strains from President Trump’s trade war with China and a year of wild weather.” At the same time, the American Farm Bureau Federation is reporting that growers are becoming “increasingly dependent on trade aid and other federal programs for income and that the “squeeze on farmers underscores the toll China’s retaliatory tariffs have taken on a critical Trump constituency” as the 2020 election campaign heats up. The Farm Bureau report said that almost 40% of “projected farm profit” this year will come from trade aid, disaster assistance, federal subsidies and insurance payments, based on Department of Agriculture forecasts — as much as $33 billion of a projected $88 billion in income. AFBF noted that the trade war and two straight years of adverse weather “rattled” farmers already facing commodity price slumps. Chapter 12 bankruptcy filings in the 12 months ended September rose to 580 from a year earlier. That marked the highest since 676 cases in 2011 under the chapter of the bankruptcy code tailored for farms. The total “remains well below” historical highs in the 1980s, the federation said. Recent bankruptcies were concentrated in the 13-state Midwestern region, a key battleground in the upcoming election where grain, soybean, hog and dairy farms have been hit by trade disputes. More than 40%, or 255 filings, were in the region. Another piece of bad news came as Chile announced the cancellation of the Nov. 16-17 summit where President Trump had hoped to sign the preliminary trade accord with China. The decision to cancel follows a wave of protests that overwhelmed Chilean police, Bloomberg said. It called the unrest the most extensive “in a generation.” How and when the leaders of the world’s two largest economies will meet to resolve their trade differences appears to be the biggest question thrown up by the Chilean decision. The expected deal, which Trump had previewed in mid-October, had calmed fears of a continuing escalation in the trade war that has cast a shadow over the global economy for the past 18 months. The new cancellation “suggests that the trade war uncertainty might be hanging over us for longer,” Torsten Slok, the chief economist at Deutsche Bank AG, told Bloomberg. “It raises the risk that we could never see a phase two or phase three.” Chile also canceled the United Nations climate change conference, known as COP25, scheduled for December in Santiago, President Sebastian Pinera said. “We understand perfectly the importance of APEC and COP for Chile and the world, but we have based our decision on common sense,” Pinera said from the presidential palace. “A president needs to put its people above everything else.” The decision to cancel the meetings highlights the depth of trouble facing the Latin American nation that has seen almost two weeks of rioting and protests. It also comes as a deep embarrassment to the government that had insisted it would go ahead with the conference just two days ago. Bloomberg also reported that the White House says it still hopes to sign a preliminary accord with Xi Jinping next month, even after the cancellation by Chile appeared to catch the White House off guard. White House spokesman Hogan Gidley said that Trump still intends to sign a partial trade deal with Xi at about the same time in November as the planned Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation summit. “We look forward to finalizing Phase One of the historic trade deal with China within the same time frame, and when we have an announcement, we’ll let you know,” Gidley said. The possibility of a Trump-Xi meeting in Santiago next month had buoyed markets as investors look for signs that an end to the multi-year trade war between the two nations is in sight. The White House was working as recently as Tuesday to finish a “phase one” agreement with an eye toward the leaders signing it in Chile, according to a statement from White House spokesman Judd Deere. Both President Trump and Vice President Mike Pence said last week they were optimistic the deal would be finalized at the summit. So, we will see. Both parties to the proposed partial trade deal appear inclined to favor at least a modest cooling off now, thus boosting chances for something positive to happen. However, given all the political tensions affecting both sides, the process still seems fragile and one producers should watch closely as it proceeds, Washington Insider believes.

| Rural Advocate News | Thursday October 31, 2019 |


USDA Releases Hemp Rule USDA released its interim final rule covering hemp production, with the measure coming into effect October 31. The plan would set up a nationwide regulatory framework to oversee commercial production of the newly legalized crop in time for the 2020 growing season. USDA said the measure will be in effect for two years and the agency will accept public comments as it considers potential revisions. USDA said it will act on state plans within 60 days of submission after it publishes the rule in the Federal Register. Some have expressed concern on the testing provisions in the plan. USDA said samples of hemp flower to be collected by a USDA - or state-approved agent within 15 days of anticipated harvest, and the sample must then be tested at a Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) registered laboratory using one of several widely used methods, including post-decarboxylation as well as gas or liquid chromatography. However, USDA appears to have acknowledged the variance in testing methods, including a "measurement of uncertainty" for testing results that effectively bumps the legal THC level from 0.3% to 0.5%. Under the plan, states can set stricter rules but they cannot put rules in place that have easier standards than those laid out by USDA.

| Rural Advocate News | Thursday October 31, 2019 |


House Hearing Reveals Rifts Remain on Biofuel Policy The chasm between biofuel supporters and refiners shows now signs of being bridged based on testimony both sides delivered at a House Energy & Commerce subcommittee hearing this week on small refinery exemptions (SREs) under the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS). Both sides are clearly set in their positions and there was little indication that will change. The situation still remains that both biofuel supporters and refiners are not happy with EPA’s supplemental rule issued relative to 2020 biofuel requirements under the RFS which aimed at addressing the SRE issue. Given that the comment period on the plan runs through November 29, the November 30 deadline for finalizing the 2020 biofuel standards will be missed. And EPA has not committed to a timeline of when they will do so, only saying it will be later this year. The U.S. biofuel policy situation will remain uncertain until the final 2020 biofuel plan is in place.

| Rural Advocate News | Thursday October 31, 2019 |


Thursday Watch List Markets Halloween trading starts with weekly grain export sales, an updated U.S. Drought Monitor, U.S. jobless claims, personal incomes and the employment cost index -- all due out at 7:30 a.m. CDT. U.S. natural gas inventories are available at 9:30 a.m. Weather radar will be watched as rain and snow are expected to move eastward Thursday. Weather Thursday features rain and snow in the eastern Midwest, disrupting harvest. Dry and cold conditions elsewhere will be more favorable for harvest progress.

| Rural Advocate News | Wednesday October 30, 2019 |


China, U.S., on Track to Sign Phase One Agreement The U.S. and China are on track to sign the phase one trade agreement next month. President Donald Trump this week stated the negotiations are running “ahead of schedule.” The South China Morning Post reports Trump and Chinese President Xi Jinping (Shee Jihn’-ping) are set for a November 17 meeting in Chile to sign the interim trade deal. Trump says the agreement would “take care of the farmers,” among other things, including banking provisions. A spokesperson from China’s Foreign Affairs Ministry confirmed the progress, saying, “the two sides made substantial progress” in recent talks. Top-level negotiators met over the phone last Friday and will again very soon. The agreement includes an estimated $40-$50 billion of agricultural purchases by China over a two-year period, with $20 billion possible the first year. Market analysts say agricultural trade with China appears to be starting to normalize, ahead of the agreement. In 2017, before the trade war began, the U.S. shipped $19.5 billion worth of agricultural products to China. However, the trade war cut those exports in half. ************************************************************************************* USDA Releases Hemp Regulations Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue Tuesday released the long-awaited regulation plan for hemp production. Perdue says rulemaking teams operated as “all hands on deck” over the last few months in creating a “fair and science-based” program. The Department of Agriculture says the framework makes hemp producers eligible for several agricultural programs, including crop insurance. Under the interim final rule, USDA will approve hemp production plans developed by states. The program requires documentation of the land where hemp is produced, along with testing and licensing requirements. USDA will begin accepting applications 30 days after the effective date of the interim rule. Meanwhile, all hemp production must be sampled and tested for THC concentration levels at Drug Enforcement Agency registered laboratories. If a test confirms a THC level exceeding the approved level, then the crop must be disposed of. Hemp must not contain more than .3 percent THC on a dry weight basis, as a level above .3 percent is federally considered marijuana. The complete rule is available online at ams.usda.gov. ************************************************************************************* Ethanol Industry Tells Lawmakers Biofuel Waivers Created Economic Crisis Ethanol producers say small refinery waivers granted by the Environmental Protection Agency have caused an economic crisis for the industry. At hearing in Washington, D.C. Tuesday, Growth Energy told lawmakers “small refinery exemptions under the Renewable Fuel Standard is crippling rural America.” The ethanol industry and farm groups are not optimistic the EPA plan to restore biofuel blending to the statute of 15 billion gallons annually will be followed. Growth Energy says the regulatory attempts by EPA “give us little confidence that we will see the relief we need.” Farmers and ethanol producers are also upset the plan doesn’t make up for lost gallons over the last few years. Several biofuels and farm groups voiced support for the Renewable Fuel Standard Integrity Act of 2019, introduced by House Agriculture Committee Chair Collin Peterson. The groups say the legislation would bring transparency to the small refinery waivers. Refinery exemptions under the Trump Administration have totaled nearly six times more gallons than those under the previous Administration. ************************************************************************************* Food And Beverage Industry Urges Congress to Pass USMCA Food and beverage industry workers recently sent more than 10,000 individual letters to Congress to urge passage of the U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement. The Corn Refiners Association says the letters emphasized the economic benefits USMCA will bring to the U.S. business community and consumers alike. The letters are part of a grassroots effort by the association, along with several other food and agriculture organizations. Corn Refiners Association President and CEO John Bode (Boh-dee) adds, "the agriculture-related benefits of North American trade reach far into our economy." Bode says more than 70 percent of the agriculture-related jobs created by the North American Free Trade Agreement were outside of the farm sector. In recent weeks, members of the USMCA Coalition have been urging members of Congress to announce their support for the agreement. The Coalition reminds Congress that the food and agriculture industry "is the economic backbone of rural America" and an essential driver of the overall economy, accounting for one-fifth of American economic activity. ************************************************************************************* Fall Harvest Poses Grain Quality Challenges Grain inspection experts warn that the 2019 fall harvest will bring quality challenges for many. Tom Dahl, president of the American Association of Grain Inspection and Weighing Agencies, this week stated quality challenges may vary by region. Some may see weathered grain, while others may see green or immature grains. Or, it could be frost damaged kernels, mold, or fungus issues. Any of these create marketing issues for producers. For users, whether they are processors, feeders, or millers, Dahl says it is a matter of understanding the quality they are receiving so it can be used for its best purpose. The organization recommends accurate measurement of crop quality, as both buyers and sellers can benefit from clearly understanding the quality of the grain or oilseeds they are handling. Consistent, accurate test results can be best assured through using an Official Grain Inspection Agency. These are agencies supervised by the Department of Agriculture’s Federal Grain Inspection Service. Farmers can learn more about accurate quality testing online at www.aagiwa.org. ************************************************************************************* Syngenta Named Top AG Employer in 2019 A Science Magazine survey names Syngenta as one of the world's leading biotech employers - and the top agriculture employer. The 2019 Science Careers Top Employers Survey ranked Syngenta ten out of 20 top employers in biotechnology, biopharmaceutical, and pharmaceutical and related industries, marking the tenth year of recognition by the global survey. The annual survey identifies companies with the best reputations as employers, based on 23 attributes, including treating employees with respect, being socially responsible and being an innovative leader in the industry. The results were compiled by a sample of 7,600 people across the applicable industries. A Syngenta spokesperson says of the ranking, "One of Syngenta's greatest strengths is our collaborative culture." The company has biotechnology and seeds research operations globally, with centers of innovation in Research Triangle Park, North Carolina, and Beijing, China. The complete rankings of the 2019 survey are available on the Science magazine website, www.sciencemag.org.

| Rural Advocate News | Wednesday October 30, 2019 |


Washington Insider: Speculation About What Follows Expectations for Rate Cuts Well, it is hard to keep up with the speculations about economic and trade policy these days. For example, Bloomberg is reporting this week that not only is the Fed projected to lower borrowing costs today for the third straight time, “a slew of economic reports this week will play a key role in whether the central bank needs to keep cutting or can take a breather.” Figures due for release today “are projected to show gross domestic product in the July-September period expanded at 1.6% annualized pace, the second-slowest quarter under President Trump and about half the pace at the start of 2019 – as consumer spending pulled back from gangbusters growth. Also, a couple of days later, the October jobs report may indicate that the largest strike in more than a decade pushed nonfarm payroll gains below 100,000—tepid gains even if the impacts of the General Motors Co. walkout are excluded. The key question is whether the economy is stumbling toward a recession or merely cooling off, Bloomberg thinks. Stocks at a record high, along with a yield curve that’s turned positive again, have mitigated concern about a downturn. Still, deteriorating global growth, administration tariffs on Chinese goods and a weakened manufacturing sector have put the record-long expansion – and the potential political impacts that implies “on the backs of consumers who are increasingly in a tougher position,” Bloomberg says. “It has the potential to be a pretty ugly week,” said Sarah House, senior economist at Wells Fargo & Co. “We are far from out of the woods in terms of this slowdown and some of the headwinds that the economy is facing.” While GDP and payrolls will take much of the spotlight, the widely watched Institute for Supply Management manufacturing index due Friday is expected to contract for another month in October, deepening concerns about fragile factories. Meanwhile, the employment cost index, a broad gauge monitored by the Fed, on Thursday could suggest companies remain hesitant to offer better wage gains and benefits. “Until there’s some clarity on trade then it’s hard to see any kind of a meaningful rebound in business investment,” said Richard Moody, chief economist at Regions Financial Corp. Business spending on equipment and structures may hit bottom this quarter or continue to decline “and the two have very different implications for the course of the economy,” he said. Bloomberg reports that its own economists say that, “economic activity in the second half of the year is poised to decelerate markedly as several drivers of growth fade and consumers are left dominating the outlook to an even greater degree than usual,” according to Carl Riccadonna, Yelena Shulyatyeva, Andrew Husby and Eliza Winger. While there have been positive signs on trade, negotiations are far from over, the President said Monday. He noted that the U.S. is ahead of schedule with finalizing sections of the first phase of a trade deal with China that could be signed soon. At the same time, Bloomberg claimed to see “one bright spot”: Residential investment, which has shrunk for six consecutive quarters, is poised add to accelerate its recent growth in the latest period as low mortgage rates helped boost sales. Still, the group thinks that this gain “was likely too small to make a significant impact on GDP for the period, so the onus remains on Americans to keep buying goods and services.” As a result, Friday’s employment report, the first on the state of the labor market in the fourth quarter, is seen as increasingly important. The overall trend in payroll gains has slowed this year down to 161,000 new jobs a month versus 223,000 in 2018. While that’s still more than enough to keep up with working-age population growth, a continued pullback could dent consumer spending. “If you see more slowing in the labor market than is already expected I think that is going to call into question whether the consumption story is going to hold up,” said Brett Ryan, senior U.S. economist at Deutsche Bank AG. “And that’s the fear.” The now-ended walkout of 46,000 General Motors Co. workers together with its follow up implications “could complicate the headline number.” However, the strike will be concentrated in manufacturing payrolls, making it easy to separate from the overall trend. In past jobs reports, the Bureau of Labor Statistics has flagged when a strike causes large payroll declines in specific industries. Another wrinkle could come from hiring for the 2020 census. Fewer than 30,000 of roughly 40,000 temporary hires were accounted for in official data for August and September. Bank of America Corp. economists expect nonfarm payrolls to rise just 25,000--the low end of forecasts ranging as high as 140,000 – with wages stalling and the Fed signaling it’s open to further interest-rate cuts. If all goes as Bank of America expects, that indicates “the economy is shaky and the Fed still perceives there to be risks,” said Michelle Meyer, the firm’s head of U.S. economics. So, we will see. The current uncertainties are certainly significant, trends producers should watch closely as the season progresses, Washington Insider believes.

| Rural Advocate News | Wednesday October 30, 2019 |


Spanish Olive Producers Call on EU to Investigate US Farm Subsidies Spanish olive producers are calling on the European Union (EU) to hit the U.S. with stiff countermeasures over the tariffs imposed by the U.S. on a host of products in the Airbus dispute. Olive producers face additional duties on black olives as a result of a trade action by the U.S. International Trade Commission to apply anti-subsidy tariffs on the imports. The Airbus-related action also imposed tariffs on green olives – essentially putting tariffs on all table olive shipments from Spain. The Spanish table olive producer group Interaceitunas is calling on the European Commission to investigate whether the U.S. unfairly subsidizes its farmers. The group is calling for the matter to be pursued at the WTO.

| Rural Advocate News | Wednesday October 30, 2019 |


Mixed Signals Continue on US-China Trade Front Developments on the U.S.-China trade front continue to see mixed reports emerge. President Donald Trump on Monday said “Phase One” trade talks with China were ahead of schedule. “We are looking probably to be ahead of schedule to sign a very big portion of the China deal, and we will call it phase one but it is a very big portion,” Trump said. “That would take care of the farmers. It would take care of some of the other things. It will also take care of a lot of the banking needs.” The agreement is expected to be signed when Trump and Chinese leader attend the APEC summit November 16-17 in Chile. “So we are about, I would say, a little bit ahead of schedule, maybe a lot ahead of schedule,” the president said. “Probably we will sign it.” However, Tuesday saw Reuters quote a Trump administration official as saying that the pact may not be ready to sign by the November APEC meeting. Financial markets took the development as a negative even as the report also quoted the official as saying that if the agreement was not ready for signing, it did not mean that the talks have fallen apart.

| Rural Advocate News | Wednesday October 30, 2019 |


Wednesday Watch List Markets At 7:15 a.m. CDT, ADP releases estimates of private job growth in the U.S., an early hint for Friday's unemployment report. The first estimate of third-quarter U.S. GDP is set for 7:30 a.m. CDT. The U.S. Energy Department's weekly inventory report is due at 9:30 a.m., followed by the Federal Reserve's next interest rate decision at 1 p.m. CDT. Weather Snow and mixed precipitation across the central Plains, the southwest to the north-central Midwest regions during Wednesday will affect travel, transport and seasonal fieldwork, including harvesting in Midwest areas. The heaviest snow, 2-4 inches and locally heavier, is likely to occur from east Iowa and northwest and north Illinois through southern Wisconsin. Rain, showers and thundershowers elsewhere in the east and south Midwest, the Delta and into the east-central U.S. areas is also likely to affect seasonal fieldwork today. Cold, dry conditions, will favor harvesting in the Northern Plains and for the most part in the Canadian Prairies as well.

| Rural Advocate News | Tuesday October 29, 2019 |


Farm Debt Repayment Stretching Terms Farmers need more time to pay off non-real estate loans, according to recent data. An analysis published last week by Agricultural Economics Insights, an agriculture economic analysis firm, shows repayment term length on farm loans recently reached levels not seen in decades. In 2018, the average repayment term on all non-real estate loans was 15.4 months. The report says that’s the highest annual observation noted since 1977. In recent years, even as farm income has turned higher, producers are still relying on higher levels of debt for farm machinery, livestock and all non-real estate loans. However, the analysis says longer repayment terms, coupled with historically low-interest rates, make it easier for producers to meet the annual debt service obligations of high debt levels. Terms over the last 20 years generally stayed between 12 and 14 months, with a decline in 2008 and 2009 due to the Great Recession, when the average non-real estate farm loan term dipped to 11 months. ************************************************************************************* USDA Pauses RFID Ear Tag Proposal The Department of Agriculture has paused its effort to mandate RFID ear tags for cattle and bison. The proposal would have mandated the ear tags for animals moved in interstate commerce beginning in January of 2023. A guidance document detailing the proposal on the USDA website was recently removed, following a lawsuit against the proposal filed by R-CALF USA. USDA’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service says that based on industry feedback and Executive Branch policy, “APHIS believes that we should revisit those guidelines.” President Donald Trump earlier this month signed an executive order to stop federal agencies from using guidance documents to impose rules. APHIS removed the factsheet from its website, saying it is “no longer representative of current agency policy.” R-CALF CEO Bill Bullard called the proposal a federal overreach by USDA, saying the proposal would “gift RFID ear tag manufactures” more profits. USDA says it still believes “RFID devices will provide the cattle industry with the best protection against the rapid spread of animal diseases.” ************************************************************************************* Marshall, Brindisi, Introduce Real MEAT Act A bill introduced Monday would address deceptive labeling practices in alternative protein products, such as plant-based imitators of meat. Republican Representative Roger Marshall of Kansas, along with New York Democrat Anthony Brindisi (brin-dis-see), introduced the Real Marketing Edible Artificial Truthfully, or Real MEAT Act. The legislation would codify the definition of beef for labeling purposes, reinforce existing misbranding provisions to eliminate consumer confusion, and enhance enforcement measures available to the Department of Agriculture if the Food and Drug Administration fails to take appropriate action. Marshall says alternative protein products “have confused many consumers with misleading packaging and creative names for products.” Brindisi says the bill is “about safety and transparency.” The National Cattlemen’s Beef Association applauded introduction of the legislation. NCBA President Jennifer Houston says a growing number of fake meat products are “clearly trying to mislead consumers” about what they’re trying to get them to buy, adding “consumers need to be protected from deceptive marketing practices.” ************************************************************************************* Study: Risk of ASF in U.S. has Doubled A recent study shows the risk of African Swine Fever entering the U.S. has nearly doubled since the ASF epidemic began in 2018. Researchers at the University of Minnesota College of Veterinary Medicine say the probability of ASF already reaching the U.S. is high, but efforts to stop the virus at the borders have stopped its entry. The study measured the risk of ASF entering the United States through the smuggling of pork products in air passenger luggage. The study reports five specific airports account for over 90 percent of the potential risk: Newark-New Jersey, George Bush-Houston-Texas, Los Angeles-California, John F. Kennedy-New York, and San Jose-California. If ASF were to enter the United States, its spread would cause immense economic damage to the pork industry and food production more broadly, and could lead to billions of dollars of losses for swine producers. Since the 2018 outbreak in China, the country has slaughtered an estimated 1,170,000 animals. ************************************************************************************* Early 2020 Forecast Signals More Trouble for Missouri River Farmers Early predictions for the 2020 runoff season suggest more flood risks for farmers along the Missouri River. Through a series of public meetings, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers says wet and saturated soils, along with increased rainfall in the long-term forecast, means 2020 looks similar to the 2019 spring. Flooding remained common this year along the Missouri River since the so-called bomb-cyclone storm in March, where saturated and frozen soils led to a large amount of water runoff in the lower Missouri River basin. The lower basin is uncontrolled, meaning no dams regulate the flow, below the Gavins Point dam. Water releases from Gavins point remain well above average, at roughly 80,000 cubic feet per second, as the Corps tries to prepare the reservoir system for next year. However, winter weather and the risk of ice jams will soon halt those efforts. The last forecast update predicted 2019 runoff would equal the record set in 2011. ************************************************************************************* Voting Begins for 2019 Farm Service Agency County Committee Elections The Department of Agriculture Monday announced it will begin mailing ballots on November 4 to eligible farmers and ranchers across the country for the Farm Service Agency county committee elections. Each committee has three to 11 elected members who serve three-year terms of office. One-third of county committee seats are up for election each year. Newly elected committee members will take office January 1, 2020. To be counted, ballots must be returned to the local FSA county office or postmarked by December 2. FSA Administrator Richard Fordyce says the members “play a key role in our efforts to provide assistance to producers.” Producers must participate or cooperate in an FSA program to be eligible to vote in the county committee election. Farmers can find out if their local administrative area is up for election and if they are eligible to vote by contacting their local FSA county office. Eligible voters who did not receive a ballot in the mail can pick one up at their local FSA county office. Visit fsa.usda.gov for more information.

| Rural Advocate News | Tuesday October 29, 2019 |


Washington Insider: MIT Media Lab Food Project Closed The New York Times reported this week that MIT has “mostly shut down the futuristic project known as “OpenAg” following accusations of “misleading sponsors and the public." The once-celebrated Media Lab’s micro-greenhouses were supposed to grow food under virtually any conditions — but apparently “worked under almost none,” the Times said. And now, MIT has turned off the lights, possibly for good. The Times report said that the Massachusetts Institute of Technology confirmed Thursday that it had “mostly closed” the OpenAg project which has been accused of misleading sponsors and the public by exaggerating results. In addition, the Media Lab has been under scrutiny for its financial ties to the convicted sex offender and financier Jeffrey Epstein. OpenAg received millions of dollars in corporate sponsorships and was promoted in glowing news features, including a “60 Minutes” segment about the Media Lab called “The Future Factory.” MIT shut down the project late last week after a sweeping assessment, it said. The project was a favorite of Joichi Ito, the Media Lab’s director until September when he resigned under pressure after his efforts to conceal his financial connections to Epstein were disclosed. The financier killed himself in jail in August after being indicted on federal sex-trafficking charges. The OpenAg project focused on designing and deploying so-called “food computers,” small high-tech greenhouses meant to allow crops to thrive in thin air, without soil or sunlight and under precisely controlled conditions. The project also operated larger “food servers,” which are housed in shipping containers about 15 miles north of the MIT campus in Middleton, Mass. According to the university statement, its vice president for research, Maria Zuber, “halted OpenAg activities, pending completion of ongoing assessments.” Zuber consulted with other members of the executive committee running the Media Lab and agreed to permit some documentation and design work to resume, but provided no timetable for finishing those assessments. Throughout the tumult at the OpenAg project, its leader, Caleb Harper, had been posting to Instagram photos and a video of what looked like experiments. Harper did not respond to requests for comment, the Times said. The Times described Harper as an architect “without any scientific training” who described food computers as integral to a “fourth agricultural revolution.” In a TED Talk from 2015, which has more than 1.8 million views, Harper laid out his vision: Food computer owners would share their data on optimal growing conditions — called “climate recipes” — with fellow food producers around the world, who would use that information to improve yields from their own food computers. According to former researchers at the project, however, Harper made exaggerated or false claims to the project’s corporate sponsors as well as in talks and interviews with the news media. They said plants bought in stores had been inserted into the food computers so visitors would think they had been grown there. More broadly, the researchers said, the food computers could not independently control the conditions within their boxes — changing the amount of light would raise the temperature, and so on. Whatever data was collected by the food computers would therefore have little scientific significance. Nonetheless, the lab produced a paper for a peer-reviewed journal that claimed to have used machine learning to discover the ideal combination of light, nutrients, temperature and water to grow the most flavorful basil. The independent news organization ProPublica and the Boston radio station WBUR reported last month that the larger food servers in Middleton were dumping wastewater with 20 times the legal limit of nitrogen underground, an apparent violation of state regulations. MIT halted the research at Middleton and said it was evaluating how the water had been disposed of there. The nitrogen levels were not an immediate danger to the public, the town administrator, Andy Sheehan, said in an interview, but could lead to overgrowth of plants that can threaten local wildlife. On Thursday, IEEE Spectrum, the publication of the one of the world’s largest professional organizations devoted to engineering and applied sciences, released a lengthy investigation on OpenAg. The investigation examined OpenAg’s plan to deliver personal food computers to a Syrian refugee camp in Jordan through the United Nations World Food Program. According to the investigation, Harper, in talks to sponsors and the public, described his pride in giving the refugees the means to grow their own food inside the camp. However, as the IEEE Spectrum article noted, the food computers never made it to the camp itself, but were kept in a Jordanian research lab where they faltered because of hot, dry conditions and technical failures. So, it seems that yet another “super tech” idea and application is raising more questions than answers. Clearly, super tech approaches can yield ideas and lessons more conventional market participants can use some of the time but artificial environments have often proved both difficult and expensive to manage. It is not clear yet what lessons were intended by the Open Ag experiment, but they seem likely to reveal that even heavy investments do not always provide large returns and that promises of fundamental breakthrough technology in basic food production processes should be watched very carefully by producers as they emerge, Washington Insider believes.

| Rural Advocate News | Tuesday October 29, 2019 |


EPA Publishes Supplemental RFS Plan EPA’s supplemental proposal for the 2020 biofuel and 2021 biodiesel levels under the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) has been published in the Federal Register. There are no discernable changes to the plan that the agency released earlier this month. There is a 32-day comment period on the plan – it runs through November 29 which that means the agency will not meet the statutory deadline to finalize the 2020 levels by November 30. EPA will also hold a public hearing on the plan October 30 in Michigan. The Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) will stay in the headlines via a House hearing today regarding the small refinery exemptions (SREs) granted by the Trump administration. The House Energy & Commerce Environment and Climate Change Subcommittee will hold a hearing on "Protecting the RFS (Renewable Fuel Standard): The Trump Administration's Abuse of Secret Waivers."

| Rural Advocate News | Tuesday October 29, 2019 |


USTR Notes Progress In US-China Trade Talks U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin spoke by phone Friday with Chinese Vice Premier Liu He, and afterward USTR said that the two sides “made headway on specific issues and the two sides are close to finalizing some sections of the agreement.” More talks of course are on tap. Indications are the components so far are the halt of additional U.S. tariffs in exchange for a two-year phase-in of Chinese purchases of a U.S.-reported $40 billion to $50 billion of U.S. farm goods, new rules on currency manipulation and efforts by China to finish opening its financial sector to foreign firms. It might include some measures to protect intellectual property. In a statement from China, Xinhua reported the two sides reached an agreement for the U.S. to import cooked poultry products from China, as well as to regard its catfish product regulation system as equivalent to the United States. “Both sides agreed to appropriately resolve the core concerns of both parties,” Xinhua said. “Working-level deputies will speed up talks for the trade deal before the principals talk over the phone in the near future.”

| Rural Advocate News | Tuesday October 29, 2019 |


Tuesday Watch List Markets On Tuesday, the Federal Reserve begins a two-day meeting, which ends with a decision on interest rates on Wednesday. U.S. consumer confidence and pending home sales are Tuesday's only official reports, both set for 9 a.m. CDT. Weather forecasts remain of interest through harvest and any trade moves by China get close attention. Weather Tuesday features dry but cold conditions in northern and central crop areas, slowing harvest progress. Light rain will be noted in the far Southern Plains. Southeastern areas will have a warmer pattern. Rain, snow and cold will cover much of the central U.S. Tuesday evening through Wednesday.

| Rural Advocate News | Monday October 28, 2019 |


Chinese Importers Buy Even More U.S. Soybeans The U.S. Department of Agriculture says that private exporters reported the sale of 264,000 tons of U.S. soybeans to China for delivery in the 2019/2020 marketing year. The deal comes as hopes continue for a partial trade deal between the world’s two largest economies. Reuters says this is the first U.S. government confirmation of a soybean sale to China since October 11, when President Trump announced that China will buy up to $50 billion in American farm commodities thanks to a partial trade agreement. A prior report showed U.S. soybean export sales of 475,200 tons, which included just 68,300 tons to China during the week ending on October 17. Those numbers were quite a bit lower than analysts’ projections for that week, ranging from 800,000 to 1.6 million tons. Earlier last week, Beijing had offered major Chinese and international soybean processors waivers that would exempt them from tariffs on imports of up to 10 million tons of U.S. soybeans. USDA has confirmed sales totaling six million tons of soybeans to China since the marketing year began on September 1. That compares with just 431,000 tons over the same time in 2018, as well as 8.4 million tons during the same period in 2017, before the trade war. ********************************************************************************************** Ag Sales Could Hit Pre-Trade War Levels by 2020 Election U.S. farmers could see a return to a pre-trade war level of ag sales to China by the 2020 election. Bloomberg says that would relieve economic pressure on one of President Trump’s key voting blocs as he campaigns for another term. The president announced a tentative partial trade deal back on October 11. China is looking to buy $20 billion worth of agricultural products per year if the partial deal with the U.S. is signed. People familiar with the negotiations told Bloomberg that China would consider boosting that level of purchases as high as $40-50 billion. That would take China’s imports of American commodities back to near-2017 levels before the feud broke out between the White House and Beijing. People close to the situation say increasing the level of purchases would depend on President Trump removing remaining punitive tariffs. Beijing says it will exempt some U.S. agricultural goods from tariffs if the U.S. removes tariffs imposed on September 1 and cancels the tariff hike scheduled for December. President Trump is hoping that he and Chinese President Xi Jinping will sign a phase-one deal when they meet in Chile next month. Chinese officials have also said publicly that talks are progressing. ********************************************************************************************** Mexico Says U.S. Congress Will Move on USMCA Trade Deal Soon Mexico’s Deputy Foreign Minister for North America said Friday that he believes U.S. lawmakers will begin the process of approving the U.S.-Mexico-Canada Trade Agreement soon. He believes it will move forward in the U.S. Congress now that Mexican President Obrador has vowed to increase wages and funding for labor reforms. A Yahoo Dot Com article says the USMCA must win approval in a divided U.S. Congress, where Republicans control the Senate and Democrats control the House. At a news conference last week, the Deputy Foreign Minister said, “The progress made in dialogue with House Speaker Pelosi, U.S. lawmakers, and negotiators makes us think that the end to this complex story is near, that soon we’ll see the United States initiate the formal process for approving the trade deal.” Mexican President Obrador has vowed to increase wages and other labor provisions in a campaign to convince House Democrats to ratify the North American trade agreement. When reporters asked if Mexico’s push to convince U.S. lawmakers about its commitment to implement the labor reforms was working, the Deputy Minister said, “I think we’re getting there.” President Obrador sent a letter recently to Speaker Pelosi calling for ratification “soon,” to not have the 2020 election process “Impede or delay” its finalization. ********************************************************************************************* Rabo Agrifinance Offering Industry’s First Organic Transition Loan Farmers looking for organic certification on all or part of their operations can get some financial help from Rabo Agrifinance. The company has developed a loan product so farmers can get the capital they need up front to help with costs associated with changing production practices. Farmers can then schedule loan repayments when they get additional revenue from selling certified organic products. The USDA requires a three-year transition period for farmers to get their land certified as organic. The deputy head of Rabo Agrifinance says, “During that transition period, farmers often experience yield loss in comparison to conventional production, and they can’t collect organic premiums for that land’s production to compensate for the lower yield. That challenge has created a financial barrier against making the transition to organic production.” Farmers want to take advantage of consumer demand for organic products, but they often have trouble penciling out how they’ll survive the transition period it takes to be able to meet that demand. Stephen Nicholson, a grain and oilseed analyst at Rabo Agrifinance, says the demand for organic products has grown faster than domestic production. ********************************************************************************************** USDA Releases Partial List of Agricultural Projections to 2029 The USDA will release selected tables prepared for the upcoming “USDA Agricultural Projections to 2029” report on November 1. USDA will post online tables containing long-term supply, use, and price projections to 2029 for major U.S. crops and livestock products. The tables will also include supporting U.S. and international macroeconomic assumptions. The short-term projections from the October 11, 2019, WASDE report are used as a starting point. The complete USDA Agricultural Projections to 2029 will be released in February of 2020. The complete report will include a full discussion of the commodity supply and use projections, as well as projections for farm income and global commodity trade. The early-release tables will be posted to the Office of the Chief Economist’s website at www.usda.gov/oce. USDA’s long-term agricultural projections represent a departmental consensus on a ten-year representative scenario for the agricultural sector. The projections don’t represent USDA forecasts, but rather reflect a conditional long-run scenario based on specific assumptions about macroeconomic conditions, policy, weather, and international developments, along with no domestic or external shocks to global agricultural markets. ********************************************************************************************** Legislation Will Protect America’s Food Supply The Senate unanimously approved bipartisan legislation designed to address the shortage of agricultural inspectors who protect the nation’s food supply and agricultural industries at the border. The Protecting America’s Food and Agriculture Act of 2019 would ensure the safe and secure trade of agricultural goods across the nation’s borders. It authorizes the U.S. Customs and Border Protection to hire additional inspectors, support staff, and even canine teams to fully staff American airports, seaports, and land ports of entry. “Agriculture is a critical economic driver across the country, but longstanding shortages of agricultural inspectors limit Customs and Border Protection’s ability to prevent pests, diseases, and other dangers from entering our country and putting production agriculture at risk,” says Michigan Democrat Gary Peters, one of four senators who introduced the legislation. Senate Ag Committee Chair Pat Robers says, “By strengthening the agricultural inspector workforce at the border, American agriculture and our entire food system will be safer.”

| Rural Advocate News | Monday October 28, 2019 |


Washington Insider: Push Back on Trade Policies There has been significant unhappiness for some time among groups on the frontline in the trade fight, primarily in response to the administration’s heavy reliance on tariffs — and on its willingness to apply them to well established, functioning markets. Bloomberg is reporting that this week a group of prominent economists from the U.S. and China have released a joint statement calling for the world’s two largest economies “to abandon their trade war and agree to a new path forward that would give both countries more latitude to both pursue their own domestic economic policies and hit back at those that hurt them.” In a joint statement issued in China on Sunday, 37 economists – a including Joseph Stiglitz, Michael Spence and three other Nobel winners – bemoaned what they said has been a descent of the trade conflict into a binary debate where the only emerging solutions are either wholesale economic reforms by China leading to a converging of economic models or an economically damaging “decoupling.” The group argued a more sensible framework for future trade relations would give China room to pursue industrial policies that are often a target of criticism from the U.S., while also allowing the U.S. latitude to respond with targeted tariffs if China’s policies were damaging its interests. “We believe this approach preserves the bulk of the gains from trade between the two economies without presuming convergence in economic models,” the statement says. It also would be in line with the current multilateral system, they argued, although it would enlarge both the U.S. and China’s rights under current World Trade Organization rules. The push is emblematic of the ways in which economists and other thinkers are wrestling with how to respond to U.S. President Trump’s challenge to the existing governance of the global economy. While many countries have circled the wagons to try and protect the WTO and other institutions from Trump’s attacks, there is also a growing acknowledgment from many sides of politics that the current system has not worked in addressing China’s economic rise and its effect on other economies. The statement comes as Trump is working to close what he has described as “phase one” of a trade truce with China that is designed to avoid a further escalation of their trade wars. It would see China commit to resuming agricultural purchases from the U.S. at levels similar to those seen before the U.S. started imposing new tariffs last year and would put on hold the threat of further U.S. duties. It is also expected to include commitments on intellectual property reforms and currency manipulation by China. But the interim deal, which President Trump has said he hopes to sign with China’s Xi Jinping at a summit in Chile next month, would crucially push discussions of other U.S. complaints such as China’s industrial policies to later rounds of negotiations. Bloomberg said that the effort unveiled Sunday was led by New York University law professor Jeffrey Lehman, Harvard economist Dani Rodrik and Yang Yao, dean of the National School of Development at Peking University. Rodrik is a long-standing critic of globalization and has advocated giving countries more “policy space” to pursue and protect domestic economic priorities, arguing that the current global trading system often violates nations’ sovereignty. The statement’s other signatories include former World Bank chief economists Justin Yifu Lin and Kaushik Basu. Professor Rodrik said President’s Trump’s trade attack on China has shifted the debate on how to manage the economic relationship into dangerous territory. “What he is doing is crowding out space for a more reasonable discussion,” he said. “What the United States is doing is actually engaging in a trade war and imposing tariffs as a way of forcing China into a series of economic arrangements,” he said. “The modus operandi is ‘China you are not playing by the rules of the game and we are going to raise our tariffs on you until you fall into line.’” At the same time, he said, “China brings to a head the fundamental tensions of the world trading regime like nothing else” and policymakers needed to realize that their expectation that China would simply “fall into line” with global trading rules had not worked. “China is the clearest example that that is an unrealistic expectation and because it is such a large economy it makes the tension existential,” he said. While the economists statement likely will receive considerable media attention, it is unclear whether it will have any significant impact on administration policy makers who long have been “deeply dug in” on the use of aggressive tariffs to achieve fundamental shifts in China’s policies. Still, there were a few hints that some reconsiderations may be already underway. For example, one of the administration’s most active “China hawks,” White House Trade Adviser Peter Navarro said over the weekend that a postponement of tariffs on China due to be implemented in December “might be in play” as the administration “works toward the signing of a partial trade deal in Chile next month.” “If they walk away again it won’t be our fault,” Navarro said in a TV interview, referring to the breakdown in talks in May. “We are on a glide path to Chile...let’s see what happens” So, we will see. It seems clear that both economic and political pressures are building on both sides for some sort of reset on trade, especially if the global economy continues to show signs of weakening. Whether or not the changes extend as far as the recent letter from the economists’ group suggests remains to be seen, but could well mean at least consideration of a widened dialogue that producers should watch closely if it emerges, Washington Insider believes.

| Rural Advocate News | Monday October 28, 2019 |


Sen. Ernst Warns She Could Call For Wheeler to Exit Over Biofuel Plan Should the biofuel plan from EPA not result in restoring demand for ethanol as has been pledged by President Donald Trump, Sen. Joni Ernst, R-Iowa, said she will call for EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler to leave his post. "If we get to a point where the EPA is not following through on what the president has directed them to do then we will have to hold them accountable," Ernst said Thursday in remarks to Iowa reporters. "And I, at that point if we do not see that result, that 15 billion gallons, then I am ready to call for the resignation of Andrew Wheeler.” She said if that were to happen, she would go to President Donald Trump and say, “‘Andrew Wheeler is the one that is not following through with your commitment to America’s farmers. You need to get rid of him.'"

| Rural Advocate News | Monday October 28, 2019 |


China to Ask Removal of Existing Tariffs in Exchange for Stepped-up Ag Buys Discussions between top-level U.S. and Chinese negotiators – U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer, Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin and Chinese Vice Premier Liu He – were expected to see China request cancellation of “some planned and existing U.S. tariffs” on Chinese imports in exchange for China’s increased purchases of U.S. farm goods, according to sources cited by Reuters. China was expected to request the U.S. not impose tariffs December 15 on $156 billion in goods from China and that the U.S. remove the 15 percent tariffs put in place in September on $125 billion in China products. “The Chinese want to get back to tariffs on just the original $250 billion in goods,” one source told the news service. China would, in turn, exempt some U.S. ag products from tariffs, including soybeans, wheat and corn, the report said, with Chinese buyers exempt from existing tariffs to make purchases and get refunds of tariffs already paid on prior purchases. The report also indicated that Lighthizer and Mnuchin would travel to China the week of November 3, but the Treasury Department did not confirm that possibility.

| Rural Advocate News | Monday October 28, 2019 |


Monday Watch List Markets Traders will check the latest weather forecasts for harvest opportunities and have ears perked for any trade news with China. USDA will release its weekly report of grain export inspections at 10 a.m. CDT, followed by a new Crop Progress report at 3 p.m. Weather Dry conditions are in store for all primary crop areas Monday. Temperatures will be very cool north and central and warm south and southeast. A rain-snow mix is indicated to form in the Midwest Tuesday.

| Rural Advocate News | Friday October 25, 2019 |


China First Year Phase One Agreement Ag Purchases aimed at $20 Billion The phase one agreement with China would boost U.S. ag exports to at least $20 billion in its first year. The overall agreement includes $40-50 billion of U.S. farm commodity sales to China over a roughly two-year period. China claims it would aim to buy at least $20 billion worth in the first year, if the agreement is signed, according to Bloomberg News. $20 billion would boost U.S. export sales to China back to levels seen before the tit-for-tat trade war began. China imported $9.1 billion of U.S. farm products in 2018, down from the 2017 level of $19.5 billion. China and the U.S. are working out the details of the limited phase one agreement that could be signed next month. Meanwhile, Vice President Mike Pence delivered a closely watched speech on China in Washington, D.C. Thursday. In his remarks, Pence called on China to “start anew by ending the trade practices that have taken advantage of the American people for far too long.” ************************************************************************************* EPA Proposes Pesticide Application Exclusion Zone Requirements Update The Environmental Protection Agency Thursday issued a notice of proposed rulemaking regarding application exclusion zones, known as AEZ. The National Corn Growers Association says the proposal would make two major changes for farmers. The changes include modifying the AEZ so it is only enforceable on a farmer’s property. The proposal would replace the current regulation requiring farmers to ensure individuals are outside of the pesticide AEZ not only on their property, but off their property as well. The proposal would also exempt farm owners and their immediate family members from the requirement that they leave their home during certain pesticide applications. EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler stated in an agency news release the updates maintain safety requirements, “while providing greater flexibility for farmers.” The American Farm Bureau Federation welcomed the proposed rule change. AFBF President Zippy Duvall says, “every effort to make the rule more sensible and practical for farmers while safeguarding workers is important.” EPA will accept comments on the proposal through a 90-day comment period. ************************************************************************************* USDA Encourages Producers to Contact Insurance Agents for Delayed Harvest The Department of Agriculture says farmers in the federal crop insurance program facing harvest delays should contact their Approved Insurance Provider. USDA says those farmers should file a Notice of Loss and request more time to harvest. Producers in several states, including Colorado, Iowa, Minnesota, Montana, Nebraska, North Dakota, South Dakota, Wisconsin, and Wyoming, have been affected by extremely wet and snowy conditions early this fall. Martin Barbre, Administrator of USDA’s Risk Management Agency, says, "producers covered by Federal crop insurance should contact their insurance agent as soon as possible to determine what actions they can take." Producers must file a Notice of Loss and request more time to harvest before the end of the insurance period, so that federal crop insurance claims are settled based on the amount of harvested production. The end of the insurance period for crops such as spring-planted wheat and barley is October 31, and for corn and soybeans is December 10. Insurance providers may allow additional time to harvest, on a case-by-case basis, under specific circumstances. ************************************************************************************* Drought Expanding in South, Southwest Drought conditions expanded in the South and Southwest over the last week, while the Midwest largely remains drought-free. The weekly Drought Monitor Thursday showed drought and abnormal dryness expanded across parts of Texas and Oklahoma. But, other parts of Texas, Arkansas, Louisiana, Mississippi and Tennessee experienced a reduction of drought and abnormal dryness. Meanwhile, 75 percent of the Southeast region of the U.S. remains in classified drought conditions. However, heavy rain, locally over five inches, contracted drought and abnormal dryness across much of the region. Much of the Four Corners states in the west are in a classified moderate to severe drought. Parts of Illinois, Ohio, Indiana and Kentucky are considered abnormally to moderately dry, while much of the Upper Midwest and High Plains remain mostly drought-free. California, along with the Pacific Northwest, remains mostly drought-free, as well. Meanwhile, more rains are expected in the South and Southeast over the next week, providing potential drought relief for those regions. ************************************************************************************* Hawley, Blackburn, Introduce Bill to Move Most Federal Agencies Missouri Senator Josh Hawley introduced legislation this week to move the Department of Agriculture to Missouri. Joined by Tennessee Senator Marsha Blackburn, the Republicans seek to move the headquarters of USDA to Missouri and the Department of Education to Tennessee. However, the legislation doesn’t stop there, as the bill would move 90 percent of ten federal agencies out of Washington, D.C., and into what the lawmakers describe as economically distressed regions. Hawley claims federal employees of the two agencies are “too removed from the rest of America.” The Helping Infrastructure Restore the Economy, or HIRE Act, the Senators claim, would “move policymakers directly into the communities they serve.” Senator Blackburn says moving federal agencies out of Washington, D.C., “boosts local economies and lowers costs.” The Senators cited the relocation of two USDA agencies, the Economic Research Service and the National Institute of Food and Agriculture, along with the Bureau of Land Management’s planned move to Colorado, in introducing the legislation. ************************************************************************************* USDA Opens Registration for the 2020 Agricultural Outlook Forum The Department of Agriculture Thursday opened registration for its 2020 Agricultural Outlook Forum. Planned for February 20-21 next year, the event is the largest annual meeting of USDA. The 2020 event, themed “The Innovation Imperative: Shaping the Future of Agriculture,” will feature more than 30 sessions. The topics include innovations in agriculture, global trade trends, food loss and waste, conservation, and the science of food safety. USDA’s Chief Economist will unveil the outlook for U.S. commodity markets and trade in 2020 and discuss the U.S. farm income situation. USDA’s Agricultural Outlook Forum began in 1923 to distribute and interpret national forecasts to farmers in the field. The goal was to provide the information developed through economic forecasting to farmers so they had the tools to read market signals and avoid producing beyond demand. USDA says the event will be at the Crystal Gateway Marriott Hotel in Arlington, Virginia. The 2020 Forum’s program will be announced at the beginning of November. Registration information is available at usda.gov.

| Rural Advocate News | Friday October 25, 2019 |


Washington Insider: Economic Outlook Still Cloudy The tea-leaf readers are at it again and the administration’s pressure for lower interest rates continues to be intense. This week, Bloomberg reports that government bonds in Denmark, Germany, Japan, Sweden, and Switzerland carry negative yields — meaning it will cost money for investors to hold them to maturity. Thus, a “big question for fixed-income markets in 2020 is whether it could happen in the U.S., too.” Bond yields fall when their prices rise, and in August investors piled heavily into U.S. Treasuries, driving yields on the benchmark 10-year bond to a three-year low of 1.43% by early September. Yields have climbed back some since that time, to around 1.8%, but investors are still getting a razor-thin income for lending to the U.S. government. There are several reasons why that matters, the report says. First, the yields on these bonds help set the pace for long-term borrowing costs throughout the economy — but they also reflect investors’ sentiments about the economy. “And the story these low yields tell isn’t rosy,” Bloomberg says. One force pulling down bond yields has been the U.S. Federal Reserve’s recent cuts in key short-term interest rates that are added to stimulate the U.S. economy — in part because it’s worried about a slowdown in global growth. Meanwhile, the fact that 10-year bond investors are willing to be paid so little suggests they have little fear of inflation, which usually goes hand in hand with a strong expansion. If the Fed keeps cutting short-term rates back to near zero, where they were from late 2008 to 2015, and also restarts quantitative easing, “negative yields on U.S. Treasuries could swiftly change from theory to reality,” Joachim Fels, global economic adviser at Pacific Investment Management Co., said. Still, that scenario is an “outside shot,” Bloomberg says. Futures markets are anticipating more Fed rate-cutting, perhaps as soon as late October. But zero is several normal-size cuts of 0.25% away. Even more than usual, the direction of rates may depend on global politics. Bruno Braizinha, U.S. rates strategist for Bank of America Corp., says he sees “meaningful” risks to the economic outlook and even a chance that the 10-year yield may hover near zero by the end of 2020—but that a signed U.S.-China trade deal could go a long way toward halting that momentum. However, JPMorgan Chase & Co. strategist Jan Loeys foresees the possibility of the benchmark yield reaching zero by 2021, a full year quicker than he previously thought, citing trade tensions and worries about capital spending. Others think a big drop in yields from here may be hard to get. Margaret Steinbach, a fixed-income investment specialist at Capital Group, says, “Global investors are trying to figure out if we are in a midcycle slowdown heading into next year or the beginning of a more protracted downturn. In addition to borrowers, one more group should be paying attention to yields: investors in fixed-income funds. Since the drop in yields has gone along with rising values for existing bonds, many funds have recently enjoyed strong returns and that would continue if the march toward zero resumes. If the economy finds its footing and yields stabilize—or rise—gains like that will be a thing of the past. Still, consumers appear to be buoying up the economy — and are accounting for almost 70% of the U.S. economy — higher than in almost every other country. And while the propensity of Americans to shop has long been crucial for economic growth, it’s particularly the case now. That’s because companies have pulled back, hiring at a slower pace and postponing long-term investments, and business spending declined earlier this year for the first time since 2016. Manufacturing, which was booming two years ago, is constrained after contracting earlier this year. A good deal of the blame appears to fall on the Trump administration’s trade wars, which have increased costs and created uncertainty for businesses. Also, a “strong” dollar hasn’t helped. Despite all that, the overwhelming majority of economists, including Bloomberg’s, aren’t predicting a recession in the next 12 months. They are counting on Americans to keep spending—as in 2015 and 2016 when they powered the economy through weakness in the energy and manufacturing sectors. Continued strong household consumption reflects a simple reality, according to James Sweeney, chief economist at Credit Suisse Group AG. “Households are employed, and their incomes are growing,” he says. And inflation isn’t eating away at those gains and consumer confidence is near historic highs. Still, some analysts are emphasizing the economic “cracks,” Bloomberg notes and emphasizes that “more people are hunting for bargains now, which could foreshadow a pullback. There’s weakness across some discretionary sectors and prices in once-hot markets such as Los Angeles and New York are stagnant or in decline. Americans also have loaded up on credit card debt. “It’s just a matter of time until it catches up with people,” says Shah, who reckons that some 40% are on the edge of having to cut back on spending. So, we will see. The current outlook is increasingly complex, with many, many moving parts and an unusually complicated array of stake holders. Thus, although the situation remains extremely difficult, it is one producers should watch closely as these trends emerge, Washington Insider believes.

| Rural Advocate News | Friday October 25, 2019 |


Groups Express Dismay at Additional Brazil Moves on Ethanol Imports U.S. ethanol and corn interests are expressing even more disappointment at Brazilian decisions relative to their imports of U.S. ethanol. On August 31, Brazil announced it was increasing the tariff-free quota for imports of U.S. ethanol to 750 million liters (198 million gallons) from a prior 600 million liters (158 million gallons). Imports above that level would be subject to a 20% import tariff. Last week, Brazil also introduced a seasonality clause for the imports, saying that from Aug. 31, 2019 through Feb. 29, 2020, another 200 million liters (53 million gallons) could be imported without the 20% tariff, with 275 million liters (73 million gallons) able to imported each quarter without the tariff from March 1, to August 31, 2020. The quota reflects the cycle of when Brazilian producers are producing more domestic ethanol, according to the U.S. Grains Council. While expressing disappointment earlier this fall that the tariff-free quota was not eliminated and only increased, now U.S. interests complain the latest move to include seasonality provisions further restricts U.S. shipments. “The decision by Brazil to place seasonal restrictions on its tariff rate quota for U.S. ethanol is disappointing and puts up additional roadblocks to free trade, hurting consumers and our respective ethanol industries,” the U.S. Grains Council, Growth Energy and the Renewable Fuels Association said in a joint statement. “The action by Brazil to impose seasonal restrictions on the sale of ethanol does not create a case study in leading by example, but rather the opposite - it is up-ending real opportunities for free trade.”

| Rural Advocate News | Friday October 25, 2019 |


Grassley Accuses Democrats of Foot Dragging On USMCA House Democrats appear to be “foot-dragging” relative to the approval of the U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA), Senate Finance Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, said in remarks Wednesday in the Senate floor. “The Democratically controlled House of Representatives looks increasingly less likely to act this year on USMCA,” Grassley stated. “That threatens passage of the trilateral trade deal this Congress, as next year is a presidential election year.” Even though a group of House Democrats have been meeting with U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer and staff-level discussions have been taking place, Grassley questioned “how long” it will take to get a resolution on the issues Democrats want addressed. Grassley noted there has been no “date or timeline” for concluding those talks. “With every passing month, these seem less like good-faith assurances, and more like stalling tactics,” he alleged. “I am beginning to wonder if Democrats are interested in reaching a compromise at all. It’s looking more like they would prefer to deprive the administration of a victory, even if it comes at the expense of the American people.” Grassley’s comments come despite House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., Democrats want to get to “yes” on the trade pact as it is a positive overall for the U.S.

| Rural Advocate News | Friday October 25, 2019 |


Friday Watch List Markets Friday is a quiet day for reports with an index of U.S. consumer sentiment due out at 9 a.m. CDT. At 2 p.m. CDT, USDA will release its monthly cattle on-feed report for October 1. September placements are expected to be slightly higher, but the on-feed total down 1% from a year ago. DTN continues to sort the wheat from the chaff where it comes to rumors of Chinese ag purchases. Weather Dry and cool conditions in northern and central crop areas Friday will offer harvest progress. Rain will focus on the Delta and Deep South.

| Rural Advocate News | Thursday October 24, 2019 |


Coalition Challenges EPA on 2018 Refinery Waivers A coalition of renewable fuels and agricultural trade organizations filed a petition with the Washington, D.C., Court of Appeals on Tuesday. The petition challenges the process the Environmental Protection Agency uses to exempt certain unknown small refineries from their respective obligations under the Renewable Fuels Standard in 2018. The coalition includes American Coalition for Ethanol, Growth Energy, National Biodiesel Board, National Corn Growers Association, National Farmers Union, and Renewable Fuels Association. In the petition, the coalition noted that the EPA’s document outlining the waiver decisions was just two pages long. These two pages outlined the reasons behind granting 36 waiver exemptions to small refineries that didn’t then have to blend approximately 1.5 billion gallons of renewable fuel. The document doesn’t reveal details and contains just “bare-bones” reasoning behind the decisions. Furthermore, the groups point out that the decision didn’t even address whether or not the refineries were eligible for the exemptions. It also didn’t include an analysis of “disproportionate economic hardship” as the statute requires. The coalition says, “Even as the Trump Administration indicates it’s taking steps to account for future small refinery exemptions, the coalition remains concerned that the EPA’s abuse of the small refinery exemption program diverges from the spirit and letter of the Clean Air Act.” ********************************************************************************************** Grassley; Losing Hope on USMCA Passage This Year Senate Finance Committee Chair Chuck Grassley of Iowa says he’s “very worried about the U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement for the first time.” He tells Politico that he’s pessimistic that Congress will sign off on the deal before the end of this year. Grassley has maintained an optimistic outlook for some time as the Trump administration negotiated with House Democrats on potential changes to the deal. However, Politico says talks are stretching into month number four, and with only 22 legislative days left in 2019, Grassley is losing faith. He’s also asking U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer to not cave into Democrat demands. He says changing the trade deal’s labor, environmental, enforcement, and prescription drug provisions too much could put Republican support for the pact in jeopardy. As recently as July, Grassley had said he was “optimistic” after a 30-minute meeting with House Speaker Nancy Pelosi. The Trump Administration’s trade boss is scheduled to meet again with House Democrats this week in continuing efforts to push the legislation through Congress and get it to the president’s desk for his signature. ********************************************************************************************** Judge Says Amendment to U.S.-Mexico Sugar Deal is “Unlawful” A judge with the U.S. Court of International Trade struck down a sugar trade pact between the U.S. and Mexico that was renegotiated by the Trump Administration in 2017. Nasdaq Dot Com says the judge ruled the decision to amend a previous agreement between the two nations was unlawful. Specifically, Judge Leo M. Gordon says the U.S. Commerce Department’s determination to amend an agreement that suspended U.S. countervailing duties on Mexican sugar imports was unlawful. The Trump Administration’s Commerce Secretary, Wilbur Ross, had redone the 2014 trade deal, which some U.S. companies said had curtailed their sugar supplies. Trump said on Twitter back in 2017 that the agreement was “a very good one for both Mexico and the U.S.” A U.S. sugar company had challenged the 2017 amended agreement, alleging that competitors were using the trade talks to deny it access to cheap Mexican sugar imports. The U.S. Department of Commerce’s failure to maintain full records of all its meetings cannot be described as “harmless,” the judge said in his ruling. The decision will revert sugar trade terms between the U.S. and Mexico back to the 2014 agreement, and it marks a blow to the Trump Administration by overturning its very first trade agreement. ********************************************************************************************* Missouri Cattle Deal Leads to Murder of Wisconsin Brothers A Missouri man at the center of an investigation into the disappearance of two brothers from Wisconsin has been charged with murdering both of them. The brothers, Nick and Justin Diemel (DEE-mul), were visiting Garland Joseph Nelson on cattle business. They traveled to Missouri to collect a $250,000 check from Nelson for cattle that were currently in Nelson’s care. Nick Diemel, age 35, and Justin, 24 years old, were in Missouri when they went missing on July 21 after not making their return flight to Wisconsin. KMBC Dot Com says after the brothers were reported missing, police say Nelson gave different explanations of events that were an attempt to keep them from locating the missing brothers. In a court affidavit, authorities believe that Nick and Justin Diemel never left Nelson’s property and were killed there. Authorities found bloodstains on clothing belonging to Nelson, and DNA testing confirmed the blood was Nick Diemel’s. Nelson was charged with two counts of first-degree murder, abandonment of a corpse, tampering with physical evidence, unlawful possession of a firearm, as well as an armed criminal action. ********************************************************************************************** U.S. Cattlemen’s Association Fights for Truth in Labeling The United States Cattlemen filed a petition for rulemaking with the USDA’s Food Safety and Inspection Service to address “Product of the USA” and “Made in the USA” claims on U.S. beef. The USCA says since the repeal of Country of Origin Labeling (COOL) back in 2015, there is no clear definition of what constitutes a U.S. beef product. Cattle or beef imported into the U.S. that undergoes further processing or handling at a USDA-inspected facility can then be labeled as a “Product of the United States.” That’s even if the handling of the product inside U.S. borders was minimal. The petition says, “To eliminate the likelihood of confusion and to better inform consumers, USCA contends that voluntary labels indicating ‘Made in the USA,’ ‘Product of the USA,’ or similar content should be limited to beef from cattle born, raised, and harvested in the United States.” U.S. Cattlemen’s founding members were the first proponents of Country of Origin Labeling in the 2002 Farm Bill. The organization says it remains steadfast in its support for a truthful and transparent labeling program for U.S. beef products. ********************************************************************************************** CoBank: Hemp Offers Big Risks, Big Rewards to Agriculture Since the 2018 Farm Bill removed industrial hemp from the Controlled Substances Act, agriculture has never been more interested in adding hemp to its crop rotations. A lot of available information says there’s a large financial upside to the industry. Producers responded to that by tripling hemp acreage between 2017 and 2018. However, CoBank says that false, outdated, biased, or contradictory information can make it difficult to navigate the industry. CoBank’s Knowledge Division released a report that includes nine risks or uncertainties that face each of hemp’s three crops and markets, which include fiber, grain/seed, and CBD production. Crystal Carpenter, a specialty crop analyst, says,” Overall, CBD production has the highest level of risk across the board due to a range of factors. The industry could face many headwinds from seed quality, labor costs and availability, THC limit risks, as well as long-term acceptance by the Food and Drug Administration.” Carpenter adds that the risks of a new industry like hemp are compounded by potential legal and regulatory hurdles. The USDA is expected to release hemp regulations and guidance soon. The timing of future FDA regulation will be critical to long-term demand for CBD.

| Rural Advocate News | Thursday October 24, 2019 |


Washington Insider: Testing Fake Burgers If you think these are confusing times, you would both be right and have company. For example, a central idea of the food elitists in recent years has been built on commitments to the most natural, the simplest, the most traditional—and the least processed. All else was suspect, at the very least. So, how are we to interpret the recent tidal wave of market interest, as well as intense and approving reports in the urban press for the new “fake meat?” It is claimed to be a way to deal with global warming—based on extremely controversial claims by manufacturers and supporters and by the press including high profile urban magazines and dailies. And it is credited with many desirable characteristics, these reviews say, including its “almost meat” taste. So, it probably was inevitable that some group would run a test, and the New York Times reported just that this week. The report said that new generation of veggie burgers aims to replace the beefy original with “fake meat or fresher vegetables.” The report included a “blind tasting of six top contenders.” The article says that in only two years, food technology has moved consumers from browsing for wan “veggie patties” in the frozen aisle to selecting fresh “plant-based burgers” sold next to the ground beef. The Times says there is still a fight going on behind the scenes at the supermarket as meat producers sue to have the words “meat” and “burger” restricted to their own products as government standards have traditionally done. Even so, makers of meat alternatives like Beyond Meat and Impossible Foods are vying to claim growing shares of the global fast-food market as big players like Tyson and Perdue join the fray. However, some stakeholders are less enthusiastic – environmental and food scientists are insisting that we eat more plants and less processed food, while many vegetarians and vegans say the goal is to break the habit of eating meat, not feed it with surrogates. “I would still prefer to eat something that’s not lab-grown,” said Isa Chandra Moskowitz, the chef at the vegan restaurant Modern Love in Omaha, where her own burger is the most popular dish on the menu. “But it’s better for people and for the planet to eat one of those burgers instead of meat every day, if that’s what they are going to do anyway.” The new refrigerator-case “meat” products already comprise one of the fastest-growing segments of the food industry, the Times says. Some products are “proudly high-tech,” the Times notes, assembled from an array of starches, fats, salts, sweeteners and synthetic umami-rich proteins. They are made possible by new technologies that, for example, whip coconut oil and cocoa butter into tiny globules of white fat that give the Beyond Burger the marbled appearance of ground beef. Others are resolutely simple, based on whole grains and vegetables and reverse-engineered with ingredients like yeast extract and barley malt to be crustier, browner and juicier than their frozen veggie-burger predecessors. At the same time, some consumers are turning away from those familiar products, not only because of the taste, but because they are most often made with highly processed ingredients, the Times says. But how do all the newcomers perform? The Times restaurant critic and its cooking columnist lined up both kinds of new vegan burgers for a blind tasting of six national brands. Though many people have already tasted these burgers in restaurants, the Times said it aimed to replicate “the experience of a home cook with children.” In fact, the test produced a winner although it reported that it had a fairly high cost of almost $9 for a 12-ounce package. The test notes said that the winner had a “brawny flavor,” that convinced some of the children that it was real and that it “quite successfully replicates the bloody look and taste of a rare burger.” But meat it was not. The article say the ingredient list included water, soy protein concentrate, coconut oil, sunflower oil, natural flavors, 2 percent or less of: potato protein, methylcellulose, yeast extract, cultured dextrose, food starch-modified, soy leghemoglobin, salt, soy protein isolate, mixed tocopherols (vitamin E), zinc gluconate, thiamine hydrochloride (vitamin B1), sodium ascorbate (vitamin C), niacin, pyridoxine hydrochloride (vitamin B6), riboflavin (vitamin B2), vitamin B12. The other, lesser ranked products differed in several ways, including whether or not they included GMOs, a somewhat odd criterion. They generally cost between $4 and $6 for two four-ounce patties. Several of the “fake burgers” were less aimed at seeming like traditional burgers than at being better “artificial burgers.” So, we will see. It seems certain that the move to acceptance for a totally processed product will prove harder for the food elitists to accept than it has seemed so far and the product cost may discourage consumption for some – although cost has not slowed acceptance of organic products nearly as much as some expected. How well the products, with all their varied ingredients, fare under the microscopes of nutritionists and other analysts; and, how acceptable the corporate provenance of the manufacturers proves to be in the longer term may be a factor, as well. One thing is clear; these competitors are real, often well-funded, and seriously intend to take traditional markets wherever they can, and producers should watch their investments closely as they emerge, Washington Insider believes.

| Rural Advocate News | Thursday October 24, 2019 |


Suit Filed on EPA’s 2018 Small Refinery Waiver Actions A suit has been filed by a coalition of biofuel supporters over the EPA rationale for granting small refinery exemptions (SREs) for the 2018 compliance year. The lawsuit was filed with the Court of Appeals for the DC Circuit. The groups cited an August 9 document from EPA detailing its rationale for resolving 36 SREs for 2018 in their lawsuit. “Unlike previous years, EPA’s entire decision document was only two pages long… In these short two pages, EPA purported to resolve 36 pending petitions for disproportionate economic hardship exemptions — a decision that exempted small refineries from having to blend almost one and a half billion gallons of renewable fuel,” the coalition wrote in a joint release. In the document, EPA explained that it granted full exemptions in cases where the Department of Energy had recommended only partial waivers. The court challenge was filed by American Coalition for Ethanol, Growth Energy, National Biodiesel Board (NBB), National Corn Growers Association (NCGA), National Farmers Union (NFU) and Renewable Fuels Association (RFA).

| Rural Advocate News | Thursday October 24, 2019 |


House Panel Plans Hearing On RFS Small Refiner Waivers A House Energy & Commerce subcommittee will hold a hearing Tuesday on the Trump administration’s use of small refinery exemptions (SREs) relative to the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS). Chairman of the House Energy and Commerce Committee, Frank Pallone, D-N.J., and the chairman of the Environment and Climate Change Subcommittee, Rep. Paul Tonko, D-Ill., said in a statement that “the Trump administration’s abuse of EPA’s waiver authority is undermining the RFS program and devastating the renewable fuel industry.” House Agriculture Committee Chairman Collin Peterson, D-Minn., welcomed the hearing. "Our farmers and rural communities rely on the RFS for their economic viability, and EPA’s actions have done nothing but provide uncertainty and the potential for economic ruin," Peterson said. It is not yet clear who will be testifying on behalf of the administration.

| Rural Advocate News | Thursday October 24, 2019 |


Thursday Watch List Markets Thursday's reports start at 7:30 a.m. CDT with weekly export sales, U.S. jobless claims, U.S. durable goods orders and an updated U.S. Drought Monitor all due out at the same time. U.S. new home sales are released at 9 a.m. CDT, followed by natural gas inventory at 9:30 a.m. Weather remains critical with a wider coverage of freezing temperatures entering the latest forecasts. Weather Thursday will be rainy with some snow in the Southern Plains. Other crop areas will be dry. A cold temperature pattern will begin spreading over northern and central areas.

| Rural Advocate News | Wednesday October 23, 2019 |


EPA Finalizes Rule to Repeal WOTUS The Environmental Protection Agency Tuesday published the final rule repealing the Waters of the U.S. rule. The EPA and Army Corps of Engineers effort repeals and returns the law to provisions in place prior to 2015. The new rule will go into effect on December 23, 2019. However, legal challenges are expected from environmental groups. First announced in September, the American Farm Bureau Federation at the time called the rule a victory for farmers and ranchers. The EPA attributed the repeal to four factors. First, the agency says the 2015 rule did not implement the legal limits on the scope of the agency authority under the Clean Water Act as intended by Congress. EPA also says the Obama-era rulemaking failed to adequately consider states’ rights. The repeal is an effort by the EPA to avoid interpretations of the Clean Water Act that “push the envelope of their constitutional and statutory authority.” Lastly, the EPA and Army Corps conclude that the 2015 Rule’s distance-based limitations suffered from “certain procedural errors” and a lack of adequate record support. ************************************************************************************* EPA’s Wheeler: Response to RFS Proposal a “Knee Jerk” Reaction Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Andrew Wheeler this week downplayed criticism towards the EPA's small refinery exemptions proposal. Wheeler told reporters, "I think a lot of people who had a knee jerk reaction" because the rule "wasn't exactly what they were expecting," according to Politico. Wheeler, along with President Donald Trump, this week reiterated that the proposal would get the Renewable Fuel Standard to the 15 billion gallons of ethanol, as per requirements of the law. President Trump claimed during a Cabinet meeting Monday the rule was “fully approved,” while Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue suggested agriculture was confused about the new rule. Perdue stated, “Once they fully understand what you’ve done here, they’ll be fine as they see it implemented.” The ethanol industry called the rule a “bait and switch” attempt to avoid fixing demand problems created by an excess of small refinery waivers issued by the Trump administration. Growth Energy CEO Emily Skor says the proposal “will do nothing to bring back the ethanol plants that have shut down.” ************************************************************************************* USDA Announces More Rural Broadband Investments The Department of Agriculture Tuesday announced investments into a $9.7 million high-speed broadband project in South Carolina. The project will create or improve rural connectivity for 3,900 rural households in the state, and is part of the USDA ReConnect Pilot Program. USDA last Friday announced the first investment in the program, funding a $2.8 million infrastructure project in Tennessee to improve broadband access for nearly 350 households. Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue says of the program, “We know that rural communities need robust, modern infrastructure to thrive, and that includes having access to broadband e-Connectivity.” In March 2018, Congress provided $600 million to USDA to expand broadband infrastructure and services in rural America. Secretary Perdue announced the program in December 2018, called “ReConnect,” to help build broadband infrastructure in rural America. USDA received 146 applications this summer, requesting $1.4 billion in funding across all three ReConnect Program funding products: 100 percent loan, 100 percent grant, and loan-grant combinations. ************************************************************************************* NCBA Applauds Livestock Risk Management and Education Act The cattle industry welcomed legislation introduced this week that would provide grants to certain state land-grant universities to better equip livestock producers with risk management training. South Dakota Republican Representative Dusty Johnson this week introduced the Livestock Risk Management and Education Act in the House of Representatives. The National Cattlemen’s Beef Association says the bill “speaks directly to our core values as an industry,” adding the legislation gives producers the latest farm management resources and tools to help them navigate dynamic markets. NCBA announced support for the bill following its introduction. The legislation would authorize the National Institute of Food and Agriculture to provide resources to improve livestock producers’ knowledge of futures markets, and to help them better manage market volatility. Representative Johnson says an understanding of futures contracts and risk management strategies will allow producers to better anticipate cattle prices. Republican Representatives Liz Cheney of Wyoming and Frank Lucas of Oklahoma joined Johnson in introducing the bill. ************************************************************************************* Legislation Introduced to Help Support Rural Hospitals New legislation in the Senate would support rural health care providers to deliver high-quality care. Introduced by Kansas Republican Pat Roberts and Nevada Democrat Catherine Cortez Masto. the Rural ACO Improvement Act would fix a glitch in the program, according to the lawmakers. The legislation would change the accountable care organizations, or ACO, reimbursement formula which inadvertently punishes rural health care providers when they reduce costs. The bill would put rural providers on a level playing field with their urban counterparts and ensure that all providers are rewarded equally for their work to deliver value in health care. ACOs are made up of groups of health care providers that share responsibility for providing coordinated care to patients to improve health care quality and reduce unnecessary spending. When ACO providers work together to improve care and lower costs below what Medicare expected to spend, Medicare saves money. The health care providers in ACOs are then able to receive a share of those savings. ************************************************************************************* USDA Publishes Pumpkin Production With Halloween approaching, many consumers are searching for the nearest pumpkin patch. Meanwhile, the Department of Agriculture just updated pumpkin production data, showing production is widely dispersed throughout the United States. All U.S. states produce some pumpkins, but according to the 2017 U.S. Census of Agriculture, about 62 percent of pumpkin acres were grown in only ten States. Illinois is consistently the nation's largest producer of pumpkins, the majority of which are used for pies and other processed foods. Pumpkin production from the other states surveyed annually by USDA is primarily destined for decorative, or carving, use. While 2019 production has not yet been surveyed, early feedback indicates an average year for Illinois and California with a healthy crop. Retail prices for pumpkins typically fluctuate from week to week leading up to Halloween. At the end of the first week of October, average retail price for jack-o-lantern style pumpkins was $3.42 per pumpkin compared to $3.32 for the same week in 2018.

| Rural Advocate News | Wednesday October 23, 2019 |


Washington Insider: Brighter Trade Outlook President Donald Trump told the Cabinet on Monday that “negotiations over an initial trade deal [with China] are advancing and raising expectations” and that a trade deal could be signed at a global leaders’ meeting next month in Chile.” For example, Bloomberg quoted the President as telling the Cabinet, “they have started the buying,” during Monday’s White House meeting, referring to Chinese purchases of U.S. agriculture products that he has pushed as part of a deal. “I want more,” he added. Earlier in the week, Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross said that it was more important to get details of the agreement right than it was for the President to sign it at an expected meeting with Chinese President Xi Jinping next month. Stocks in Asia gained Tuesday as positive signs regarding the trade talks emerged ahead of earnings from some of the world’s biggest companies. S&P 500 futures rose suggesting there is scope for the underlying gauge to extend gains after it surpassed 3,000. Ross also said on TV that the “actual meat” of the agreement would come in two additional phases yet to be completed. While the White House touted a preliminary agreement earlier this month, officials in Beijing have yet to confirm that anything is set in stone. U.S. officials say they expect China to significantly increase purchases of American agricultural commodities and agree to some intellectual property, financial services, and currency concessions. In exchange, the U.S. paused a tariff increase due to hit in the middle of October, just ahead of Christmas shopping season. The agreement is being seen by some observers as a pause in the 18-month trade war that has hurt the economies of both countries – but which falls short of the dramatic overhaul of Chinese economic policy the administration has sought. The agreement also doesn’t address Huawei Technologies Co., which has pushed forward with a global effort to sign 5G commercial contracts even as the U.S. seeks to persuade other countries to blacklist the firm. In addition, Reuters was reporting earlier in the week that India’s Trade Minister Piyush Goyal had said that the broad outline of a trade deal with the United States has been worked out. He suggested that an announcement would follow soon. The two countries have been locked in trade disputes for months, “slapping higher tariffs on each other’s products and the U.S. withdrawing a key concession to India,” Reuters said. Washington has been especially concerned about Indian policies that mandate foreign firms to store more data locally and restrict the way U.S. e-commerce giants such as Walmart-owned Flipkart and Amazon.com operate. Goyal told a business conference that he was hoping to meet U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer soon. “We have almost resolved the broad contours of what we are going to announce. I don’t see any great difficulty in closing the gap on the first announcement,” Goyal said at the U.S.-India Strategic Partnership Forum (USISPF). The deal under discussion includes lowering tariffs on U.S. farm produce while giving Indian pharmaceuticals faster approval to enter the U.S. market. India dominates the world’s generic drugs market and the United States is among its top importers. “With regards to the trade talks between India and the U.S., the Commerce and Industry Minister said that things are on the right track and India is looking to the U.S. for technology, innovation, skills and quality education,” a government statement quoted Goyal as saying. According to USISPF estimates, India-U.S. bilateral trade is projected to grow to $238 billion by 2025 from $142.1 billion in 2018. The expected boosts in trade and investments are expected to include sectors such as defense, commercial aircrafts, oil and LNG, coal, machinery and electronics, Reuters said. India is aiming to promote automotive, pharmaceuticals, seafood, IT and travel services to the U.S. market. Goyal indicated that India and the U.S. “must look at a larger trade agreement,” the government statement said, without elaboration. So, we will see. Clearly, the negotiating progress in these talks being pointed to is in early, vulnerable stages similar to those in which disruptions have come before with little warning. But even fragile signs of agreement are better than the alternative and should continue to be watched closely as they approach completion, Washington Insider believes.

| Rural Advocate News | Wednesday October 23, 2019 |


Repeal of Obama-Era WOTUS Rule Published The rule to repeal the 2015 Waters of the U.S. (WOTUS) rule has been published in the Federal Register by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. The agencies said they were taking the action as they view the 2015 rule as not implementing legal limits on the scope of the agencies’ authority, the 2015 rule did not give Congress adequate weight in the process, that the 2015 rule and more. The final rule from the agencies indicates that the 2015 WOTUS rule will be replaced with the portions of law under the Clean Water Act that “existed before the amendments promulgated in the 2015 rule.” The action will become effective December 23. EPA and the Corps are also continuing to work on a replacement for the 2015 WOTUS rule.

| Rural Advocate News | Wednesday October 23, 2019 |


Commerce Reopens Dumping Probe On Imports of Mexican Tomatoes The Commerce Department is reactivating an anti-dumping case against tomato imports from Mexico, just one month after signing a deal to resolve the dispute. The suspension agreement reached remains in effect, Commerce said Monday. The investigation was continued at the request of Red Sun Farms and the Florida Tomato Exchange (FTE). The antidumping investigation by Commerce’s U.S. International Trade Commission (USITC) had been nearly complete when it was shelved after a new suspension agreement was reached August 20 and finalized September 19. FTE said it was requesting the investigation be reopened amid evidence the Mexican tomato industry was looking to launch legal challenges to the new agreement and could even seek to withdraw from it. Commerce is required under the Tariff Act of 1930 to resume the antidumping investigation upon the request of interested parties when there is a suspension agreement in place. The USITC will hold a public hearing on the situation October 24.

| Rural Advocate News | Wednesday October 23, 2019 |


Wednesday Watch List Markets The U.S. Department of Energy will release the only report Wednesday, its weekly energy inventories at 9:30 a.m. CDT, which includes ethanol. The latest weather forecasts and any trade news with China also remains interesting for markets, while row crops work through a slow harvest pace. Weather Rain and snow are in store for the northern Plains Wednesday, disrupting harvest. Dry conditions elsewhere will favor progress. Temperatures will be chilly north and mild south.

| Rural Advocate News | Tuesday October 22, 2019 |


Mexico: USMCA Would Provide Certainty in Global Trade A government official from Mexico says global trade uncertainty is another reason the U.S. and Canada should ratify the U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement. Mexico’s Finance Minister last week noted global trade was a common topic during the fall meetings of the International Monetary Fund and World Bank in Washington. Arturo (Are-tur-roh) Herrera says that in a world that is "probably facing some uncertainties for a while," USMCA is "going to help attract investments to the region," according to Reuters. Herrera says the ongoing trade war between the U.S. and China, now 15 months long, is partly to blame for a sharp slowdown in global growth. USCMA replaces the North American Free Trade Agreement and was ratified by Mexico this summer. The U.S. and Canada have yet to ratify the agreement, and some fear if Congress doesn't act soon, the deal will be stalled by the 2020 elections. Democrats in the House of Representatives are set to continue negotiations with the White House this week. However, Congress is running out of working days to pass the agreement this year. ************************************************************************************* Ross: China Phase One Must be Right Agreement U.S. Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross Monday suggested the phase one agreement with China doesn’t have to be ready to sign next month. Speaking on Fox Business Network, Ross says, “It has to be the right deal, and it doesn’t have to be in November.” President Donald Trump has indicated the deal would be ready to sign at the November APEC summit. The agreement includes the intent by China to purchase up to $50 billion worth of U.S. agricultural goods over the next two years. However, China has said it won’t move forward with significant purchases unless Trump agrees to cancel a planned round of tariff increases set for December. The comments from Ross seem to suggest the phase one agreement may not be as solid as previously portrayed. Agriculture is described best as cautiously optimistic that the phase one agreement can be completed, and that China massively increases its purchases of U.S. farm products. However, China recently purchased soybeans from Brazil, an uncharacteristic move for this time of year. ************************************************************************************* Democrats Switch Focus on USDA Moves Key Democrats in Congress appear to be shifting focus on the Department of Agriculture agency relocations. USDA is moving the Economic Research Service and National Institute for Food and Agriculture to the Kansas City region, and many employees are fleeing. Last week, Democrats in the House of Representatives announced they are still “upset” with the relocation, but are now focused on making sure the agencies continue to do their jobs, according to the Hagstrom report. Stacy Plaskett, a Democrat from the U.S. Virgin Islands, chairs the House Agriculture Subcommittee on Biotechnology, Horticulture and Research. During a hearing, Plaskett noted that ERS has appropriated funding to support 329 employees, but currently, a total of 214 positions are vacant, a vacancy rate of 65 percent. At NIFA, 264 of 344 jobs are currently vacant, a vacancy rate of over 76 percent. She told a USDA representative she expects "ERS and NIFA to quickly be restored to their former prominence.” While the agency moves are underway, USDA has yet to announce permanent office space locations for either agency. ************************************************************************************* GasBuddy: China/U.S. Talks Behind Gas Price Volatility Average fuel prices declined slightly again for the second straight week as farmers attempt to harvest their crops. The national average price of gasoline posting a drop of 0.7 cents over the last week to $2.63 per gallon according to GasBuddy data. Meanwhile, the average price of diesel fell 1.1 cents to $2.98 per gallon. While farmers are in the fields and dealing with trade uncertainties and a challenging harvest, GasBuddy says the ongoing trade war with China is providing more overall volatility to gas and crude oil markets, at a time of year when the market typically sees prices steadily fall. Patrick DeHaan (De-hawn), head of petroleum analysis for GasBuddy, says “I can’t remember an autumn where we saw so many factors that could impact prices so quickly and in such different directions,” adding “expect this roller coaster to continue.” Meanwhile, data from the Energy Information Administration showed oil inventories surging nearly ten million barrels as refined products inventories moved lower as refinery maintenance season continues. ************************************************************************************* Beef Industry Long Range Plan Task Force Begins Year-long Process The Beef Checkoff is undergoing a year-long process to determine direction for the organization over the next five years. The long-range strategic planning process for the beef industry is underway, a process that pulls together key leaders from all over the country representing different sectors of the beef business. Updated every five years, the Beef Industry Long Range Plan is the standard the beef checkoff focuses on as one strategic direction, identifying key areas to advance beef demand. Since 1995, industry leaders have gathered to develop an aligned, comprehensive plan with the goal of increasing consumer demand for beef. The leaders are brought together to study and compile major areas of opportunity for the next five years. The current plan, in place since 2016, focuses on increasing beef demand and growing consumer trust. The newly appointed committee will convene over the next several months and consider all aspects of the industry from production trends, economic factors, foreign markets, consumer trends, and the competitive climate. ************************************************************************************* USDA Honors 25 Years of Tribal Land-Grant Universities The Department of Agriculture Monday honored the 25th anniversary of legislation that recognized 29 tribal colleges and universities as land-grant institutions. Signed on October 20, 1994, the Equity in Educational Land-Grant Status Act enabled tribal colleges and universities to receive federal support and train the next generation of agricultural professionals. Mike Beatty, Director of USDA's Office of Partnerships and Public Engagement, says, "Tribal colleges and universities draw on the strength of traditions while preparing graduates who can contribute to their communities." USDA says tribal colleges and universities play a significant role among tribal nations. Today there are 36 federally recognized tribal colleges and universities designated as land-grants. The 1994 institutions are the latest additions to the land-grant university system. The Morrill Act of 1862 created land-grant institutions to give working-class citizens equal access to higher education, focusing on agriculture and mechanical arts. A second Morrill Act of 1890 authorized land-grant institutions for African Americans.

| Rural Advocate News | Tuesday October 22, 2019 |


Washington Insider: US Diplomatic Corps Problems and Concerns Usually there is not a great deal of sympathy in Washington for the State Department’s diplomats who are often seen as detached and sometimes condescending. However, in a somewhat unusual take on current Washington goings on, The Hill is reporting this week that the administration's perennial push for steep budget cuts has led to a large exodus of experienced senior staffers and assertions of mistrust there that have has sent morale to an unprecedented low. For example, the President fired a senior diplomat “after a whisper campaign mounted by his personal lawyer, Rudy Giuliani” – and abandoned steadfast allies in the Middle East at the behest of Turkey's government, The Hill said. The “weight of those events is taking a startling and measurable toll” on American foreign relations and on the diplomats’ ability to carry out policy. The diplomats themselves are increasingly concerned that the White House and senior State Department leadership “do not have their backs,” particularly after the “whisper campaign” that ended in the recall of Marie Yovanovitch as U.S. ambassador to Ukraine, The Hill said. In interviews, half a dozen current and former senior foreign service officers told The Hill that experiences over the last few weeks have undermined what little faith they had left in the Secretary of State. Secretary Pompeo arrived in Foggy Bottom after “a trying year under his predecessor who tried to slash his own budget and let senior civil and foreign service members walk out the door,” The Hill sources said. Former Secretary Rex Tillerson’s proposed cuts were so dramatic that Congress refused to allow them. Secretary Pompeo and his top deputy held several town-hall meetings and distributed videos of his foreign trips in an effort to rebuild the State Department’s “swagger.” When he came in, “people were absolutely willing to give him the benefit of the doubt,” said Laura Kennedy, a former U.S. ambassador to Turkmenistan and deputy assistant secretary of state for European and Eurasian Affairs in the George Bush administration. Now, however, the Secretary’s alliance with the President is increasingly seen as having come at the cost of his ties with career officials. He participated in the July 25 phone call between the President and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky – when President Trump promised that Yovanovitch was “going to go through some things.” Last Wednesday, Secretary Pompeo’s former top aide, Michael McKinley, told House lawmakers that Pompeo “did nothing” when McKinley urged him to offer Yovanovitch a show of public support. Ambassadors serve at the pleasure of the president, the Secretary said on TV and when a president loses confidence in an ambassador it's not in the best interests of that ambassador, the State Department or America for them to continue to stay in their post. Still, current and former officials have panned Pompeo's handling of the situation, The Hill said. “The irony of the White House phone call was that rooting out corruption has been at the heart of American policy toward Ukraine for years – and Ambassador Yovanovitch had made fighting corruption a cornerstone of her years in Kiev,” The Hill said. Now, some foreign service officers who pride themselves on carrying out orders from Washington, regardless of whether those orders are given by a Democratic or Republican administration, worry that “they serve at the pleasure of a president who views them as members of a so-called deep state.” Also, internal State Department tensions between political and career appointees are rising, The Hill said. Yovanovitch’s firing has underscored the tensions and a lack of trust between career officials and political appointees. Sources told The Hill, they “felt they were being scrutinized by political appointees who could report disloyalty to senior officials.” The staff reductions that began under Tillerson have left gaping holes that remain today, The Hill said. Eight of the 28 assistant secretary positions are headed by acting secretaries who have not been confirmed by the Senate. Two more are vacant. One of six undersecretaries is acting, and two more posts – overseeing public diplomacy and civilian security, democracy and human rights – are vacant. A number of bureaus are being run by career people, who have not been nominated to those jobs. “It sends a very strong signal of lack of trust and respect,” The Hill said. Amid the departure of experienced senior officers, and further White House efforts to slash the State Department's budget, The Hill found “worrying signs that the ranks of the foreign service are not being replenished.” The number of applicants who took the Foreign Service exam, the first step toward becoming a career foreign service officer, has fallen every year since 2009 – but the recent drops have been even more precipitous. In 2018, the number of people taking the FSO test was less than half the number who applied in 2013, according to the American Foreign Service Association. The ag attaches who play strong and continuing roles in support of U.S. ag product trade are very senior Foreign Service officials in many cases, and many operate very large programs – so the ag stake in a strong U.S. diplomatic corps is large. Any policy changes that could weaken that role, or the active presence of those officials in far flung foreign embassies should be watched closely by producers as this debate continues, Washington Insider believes.

| Rural Advocate News | Tuesday October 22, 2019 |


Questions Continue On USDA Pork Export Sales Data USDA’s Weekly Export Sales report for the week ended October 10 included huge pork export sales figures, but USDA cautioned the data did not reflect purchases made just during the reporting week covered by the update. “The information in the export sales report for the week ending Oct. 10, 2019, accurately reflects what was reported to USDA by U.S. exporters. This week’s report includes a significant quantity of pork sales for the current marketing year that may have occurred in previous weeks but were not previously reported.” The agency has since said that if it happens again in the future, it will put a notation in the report explaining the situation.

| Rural Advocate News | Tuesday October 22, 2019 |


US, China Both Say Progress Being Made In Talks Officials from both the U.S. and China are indicating there has been progress on the phase one agreement between the two sides. Chinese Vice Premier Liu He offered positive signals that talks with the U.S. are making “concrete progress” and both sides are working toward a partial trade deal, but he added negotiations must be on an equal basis. “China and the U.S. have made substantial progress in many aspects and laid an important foundation for a phase one agreement,” Liu said at a virtual reality conference in Nanchang Saturday. He reiterated that China is “willing to work in concert with the U.S. to address each other’s core concerns on the basis of equality and mutual respect.” Meanwhile, President Donald Trump Friday said he thinks a trade deal between the two countries will be signed by the time the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation meetings take place in Chile on November 16-17. "I think it will get signed quite easily, hopefully by the summit in Chile, where President Xi and I will both be," Trump told reporters at the White House, without providing details. “We are working with China very well," Trump also said. Deputy-level talks have taken place already this week and top-level talks are expected later this week as the two sides keep working toward finalizing the phase one deal.

| Rural Advocate News | Tuesday October 22, 2019 |


Tuesday Watch List Markets As usual, Tuesday is a quiet day for reports, but U.S. existing home sales are due out at 9 a.m. CDT. At 2 p.m. CDT, USDA releases a monthly cold storage report of frozen meat inventories. Weather updates remain important for understanding harvest status and any trade news pertaining to China still gets attention. Weather Dry, breezy and cool conditions will cover most crop areas Tuesday. Rain will focus on the Great Lakes and Southeast. Harvest remains difficult in northern areas following heavy precipitation to start the week.

| Rural Advocate News | Monday October 21, 2019 |


Next Round of Trade Aid Is Still “TBD” The U.S. and China recently reached a partial trade deal that included the promise of large agricultural purchases by China. Because of that, the U.S. Department of Agriculture is deciding on whether or not it will go through with the next round of trade relief payments to farmers for their 2019 production. USDA Deputy Secretary Stephen Censky tells Politico that the department is looking to make a final decision in the “very near future.” After a recent Senate Ag Committee hearing, Censky said, “I think we’re very much aware that producers have been impacted by the trade retaliation, they’ve been impacted by weather, and low incomes.” The Ag Department is currently dividing up the $14.5 billion it set aside for direct payments in three installments. The second and third rounds will be available in November and January if they’re needed. The Trump Administration claims that Beijing will soon ramp up its U.S. ag purchases to about $40 billion per year. That could make it more difficult for the USDA to justify giving out the remainder of the $14.5 billion set aside for this year’s direct aid program. ********************************************************************************************** Vietnam Trade Mission Already Generating New Sales Companies on a trade mission to Vietnam are reporting as much as $5 million in new sales. That report came in last week from USDA Undersecretary for Trade and Foreign Agricultural Affairs Ted McKinney. McKinney says the new numbers come from just 14 of the 34 companies traveling with him and are the result of 665 meetings they held with buyers from Vietnam, Thailand, and Myanmar. Other companies will be reporting new sales early this week. During a phone conference with reporters, McKinney said U.S. agricultural exports to Vietnam have grown “incredibly” since 1995 when the United States re-established diplomatic relations with Vietnam following the war. Back then, Vietnam ranked 95th in the listing of countries that imported food from the U.S. The Hagstrom Report says Vietnam now ranks number seven on that same list with $4.2 billion in imports. McKinney notes a lot of future potential for growth as 60 percent of the country’s population is under 30 years old. As an example of how the trade relationship has grown, McKinney says Vietnam has increased its imports of U.S. cotton to more than $1 billion per year. During the phone call from Vietnam, McKinney said the overall relationship between the U.S. and Vietnam is “really, really outstanding and getting better.” ********************************************************************************************** U.S., European Equipment Manufacturers Ask For Trade Negotiation The American Association of Equipment Manufacturers and the Committee for European Construction Equipment issued a joint statement asking American and European government leaders for a friendlier trade environment. After the recent World Trade Organization ruling on European Airbus subsidies, the U.S. announced tariffs of $7.5 million in European goods, including some construction equipment. “Equipment manufacturers in the U.S. are proud to stand with our European partners in calling on the U.S. and EU policymakers to affirm their commitment to a strong transatlantic relationship,” says Kip Eidenberg, AEM VP of Government Affairs. “Our partnership has brought considerable benefits to consumers, workers, and businesses of all sizes on both sides of the Atlantic.” He also says supply chains drive 80 percent of global trade, and tariffs on European manufacturing products will hurt American businesses that source parts and components from across the EU. “We’re asking Washington and Brussels to recognize the importance of our transatlantic alliance and the negative impacts that tariffs have on equipment manufacturers,” Eidenberg adds. ********************************************************************************************* Vietnam ASV Outbreak Slowing The government of Vietnam is urging its pig farmers to start rebuilding their herds as the spread of African Swine Fever is starting to show some signs of slowing down. Vietnamese officials are anticipating a surge in pork demand just in time for the Lunar New Year coming up in January. The disease was first detected back in February of this year and has since appeared in all 63 provinces across the country. Reuters said Vietnam was forced to cull more than five million pigs or roughly 18 percent of the total hog herd. That action has since driven up pork prices in the country nearly 70 percent. The head of the Vietnamese Department of Livestock Production tells Reuters that, “Farmers’ efforts to enhance hygienic conditions on farms have helped put a brake on the spread,” while adding that improving weather conditions have helped too. They’re also encouraging larger-size pork farms that meet hygiene requirements to expand their pig production efforts. Vietnamese government officials say the outbreak “has initially been contained and showing signs of slowing down,” but didn’t offer any extra details. While ASF is deadly to pigs and there is no available vaccine, the sickness isn’t harmful to human beings. ********************************************************************************************** Lawmakers Urge USDA to Prioritize CRP State Acres for Wildlife South Dakota Senator John Thune and Minnesota Senator Amy Klobuchar led a bipartisan group asking USDA Secretary Sonny Perdue to prioritize enrollment and implementation of the State Acres for Wildlife Enhancement (SAFE) initiative within the Conservation Reserve Program. The senators wrote a letter saying they’re “concerned that the decision to limit the practices and associated cost-share incentives available in recent continuous sign-ups, and excluding wildlife practices like SAFE, will decrease landowner interest in CRP and the overall effectiveness of the program.” They say the statutory purpose of CRP is to “conserve and improve the soil, water, and wildlife resources of enrolled land and address issues raised by state, regional, and national conservation initiatives.” The letter says land enrolled in SAFE serves as an example of how USDA, landowners, and other partners can work together to address all three resource concerns on the same acre of enrolled land. The letter to Perdue was signed by another 15 senators from both sides of the political aisle. ********************************************************************************************** USCA Says Washington Grizzly Bear “Restoration” Unnecessary The United States Cattlemen’s Association is less-than-thrilled with the North Cascades Mountain Grizzly Bear Restoration Plan Draft Environmental Impact Statement. The plan seeks to bring in as many as 200 grizzly bears to the region, despite serious stakeholder concerns, especially when it comes to safety. USCA Public Lands Committee Co-Chair Jack Alexander says, “The original intent of the Endangered Species Act was to serve as a means of ensuring the survival of specific species that faced the serious threat of extinction. We have not yet witnessed the utilization of the law as a tool to promote range expansion for any non-threatened species, as is happening with this ‘plan.’” He points out that the International Union for Conservation of Nature has listed the grizzly bear as a “Species of Least Concern,” due in no small part to its population of over 55,000 in North America. “In short, the basis for this ‘restoration plan’ fails to take into account local stakeholder concerns regarding the safety and well-being of their families, neighbors, and livestock,” Alexander says. “USCA wholly rejects the findings in the draft environmental impact statement and encourages the agencies to reconsider its ‘plan’ to attempt to ‘restore’ a grizzly bear population into the Northern Cascades Ecosystem.”

| Rural Advocate News | Monday October 21, 2019 |


Washington Insider: Political Fights and Threats to the Congressional Schedule Political uncertainties of many kinds and types are rising just now, and not just in trade policy, the Washington Post reported over the weekend. The report said that Congress is "heading toward a multicar collision that could leave a lot of collateral damage if lawmakers aren't careful." It notes that the list of must-do items between now and year's end is "long and expansive, touching on every aspect of the federal government and beyond." One result, the Post says, is that while chances for a government shutdown before Thanksgiving were once thought impossible but now, with no progress reported on any of the 12 spending bills, "the risk grows each week." This could mean a showdown that would be "far more sweeping than the 35-day partial shutdown earlier this year," the Post said. In addition to the always tough budget fights, many non-budget Congressional authorities are expiring or lapsing, ranging from some foreign surveillance laws to the potential reinstatement of a very unpopular tax on medical devices. The result is that while the "rational minds" in Washington see each of these issues as separate and distinct from the impeachment fight, the administration "has increasingly demonstrated" in the past few weeks that it regularly sees issues as "one large negotiation, linking together seemingly disconnected threads into one massive ball of legislative wax." The article says the president's blowup with House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., on Wednesday over the crisis in northern Syria was clearly linked to her threat to impeach the president. At his rally in Dallas on Thursday night, he presented a "greatest hits parade of issues" he has long pushed, especially border wall funding and grievances against his political opponents including Rep. Adam Schiff of California, who chairs the Democratic House Intelligence Committee. On Friday, at a photo opportunity to promote the first an all-female spacewalk, the president took a reporter's question about his acting chief of staff's conflicting answers on Ukraine policy and turned it into "a montage of ongoing crises." For example, he discussed his talks with Turkey's president, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, about a pause on attacking Kurds in northern Syria, railed against the Schiff-led investigation and claimed to have "taken control" of oil in the Middle East, the Post said. This is leaving Congressional leaders "fearful that any of these must-pass bills could turn into a hostage situation" if the administration sees it as possible leverage against impeachment, the Post says. The article discussed several must-pass items developed by a political intelligence firm, Cowen Washington Research Group. It included several numerous controversial concerns, including completion of the National Defense Authorization Act, which sets Pentagon policy and has been approved every year since 1946 -- but also the 12 bills that fund all federal agencies, which expired Oct. 1 but have been given a temporary extension until Nov. 21. The list didn't include approving the a new North American trade pact—which both sides agree that waiting too far into next year will probably torpedo its chances of passing. The most obvious obstacle created by these political tensions is simply "time," the Post says. The House schedule already has two week-long breaks between now and Christmas, leaving fewer than 30 planned days in session -- with quite a few of those days actually half-days to allow for travel. The Speaker then must decide when to hold the House debate. At this time, she has not posted a deadline for completion, although most insiders believe it could wrap up by early February when voters start casting ballots in the 2020 presidential primary. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., has indicated that if the House votes to impeach before or right after Thanksgiving, he would like to use those next several weeks before Christmas to hold a Senate trial—which, by rule, would begin each day just after lunch, six days a week, the Post says. Technically, there would be a couple of hours each morning to process legislation, but it is likely that only "pretty noncontroversial bills" would be considered even if the usual long procedural votes and debate time were waived or shortened. In addition, some of the current must-pass legislation has potential for side confrontations. For example, the 2017 tax bill included $17 billion worth of breaks that will expire at year's end, including the paid family leave measure and legislation that ended a tax on medical devices that was originally imposed in the 2010 Affordable Care Act. Under normal circumstances, those popular credits would just be extended. However, following Wednesday's blowup between the president and the speaker, the Cowen group's analysts warned that anything could happen. "From a domestic political perspective, recent events in Washington are likely to cast a negative pall over the remainder of the year," the Cowen analysts wrote last week. It is clear that political tensions are high and rising, especially those concerning trade but also many other economic policies as well -- issues that should be watched closely by producers as they emerge, Washington Insider believes.

| Rural Advocate News | Monday October 21, 2019 |


Rep. Neal Pleased With USMCA Process So Far Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador sent a letter to House Ways and Means Chairman Richard Neal, D-Mass., outlining steps Mexico is taking to strengthen labor standards relative to the US-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA). "I am very pleased with Mexico's demonstration of good faith," Neal said. He is among the Democrats working with the administration on USMCA issues. "Given the high labor and enforcement standards Democrats require from the new NAFTA agreement, I am eager to receive further details from USTR regarding the Trump administration's preparation to meet our priorities," Neal said in a statement. Neal met with U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer and said that Democrats are still looking for assurances on enforcement. Asked whether the two sides might be able to reach a handshake deal by Thanksgiving, Neal replied: "I would like to think that, but I think that even based on what we discussed here today ... that there's still a ways to go." We expect the House will vote on USMCA most likely in December but it could still take place in November.

| Rural Advocate News | Monday October 21, 2019 |


USDA's Censky Says Remaining MFP Payments Decision Coming Soon USDA Deputy Secretary Steve Censky said $5.5 billion in Market Facilitation Program (MFP) 2 payments have been made to farmers since the Farm Service Agency began issuing checks the week of August 19. USDA is deciding whether to go through with the next installment of trade relief payments to farmers for 2019 production. Censky said the department is aiming to make a final call "in the very near future... I think we are very much aware that producers have been impacted by the trade retaliation, they have been impacted by the weather, low incomes," Censky said. MFP2 payments will potentially be in three installments: The first round became available over the summer, while the second and third tranches will be available in November and January, if warranted. Meanwhile, Senate Ag ranking Member Debbie Stabenow, D-Mich., told Censky the trade mitigation program is upsetting the delicate balance lawmakers attempted to strike in the 2018 Farm Bill relative to spreading federal dollars evenly across the ag sector. Our expectation is the second and third installments of MFP2 payments will be made.

| Rural Advocate News | Monday October 21, 2019 |


Monday Watch List Markets Getting deeper into harvest season, traders will be watching the latest weather forecasts and checking USDA's Crop Progress report at 3 p.m. CDT for updates on row crop harvest progress and winter wheat planting. Weekly export inspections are due out at 10 a.m. CDT and any mention of trade negotiations with China still gets attention. Weather Showers and thunderstorms are in store for the Northern Plains, northern and eastern Midwest, and the Delta Monday, disrupting harvest. Dry and windy conditions elsewhere will favor harvest progress.

| Rural Advocate News | Friday October 18, 2019 |


China Confirms Phase One Agreement Ag Purchases Chinese officials confirmed this week they are working on finalizing a “phase one” agreement with President Donald Trump that includes significant purchases of U.S. ag products. An official from China’s Commerce Ministry confirmed the purchases to reporters, but did not provide details on how much U.S. ag products China will buy. The spokesperson says, “China will increase U.S. farm purchases based on domestic demand and market principles,” adding the U.S. will “provide favorable conditions.” China will move forward with the purchases if President Trump cancels a planned round of tariff increases in December. President Trump says the agreement included Chinese purchases of U.S. ag products worth $40-50 billion over the next two years, and suggested the initial agreement could be finished and signed next month. Agriculture is taking a wait and see approach. Missouri Farm Bureau President Blake Hurst told Yahoo! Finance, “The challenge we have is that we’ve been promised a lot of things throughout these negotiations and not all of them have come to fruition.” ************************************************************************************* U.S. Dairy Thanks Trump for EU Trade Tariffs The National Milk Producers Federation Thanked President Donald Trump for including European dairy products on a new tariff list. The organization Thursday sent a letter to Trump to “commend his Administration for its excellent judgment” for including the products. The tariffs stem from a U.S. World Trade Organization complaint about illegal subsidies to Airbus. The WTO approved the tariff list this week. However, Italy requested an agreement on a solution, rather than U.S. tariffs, during a White House visit. NMPF urged President Trump to stand with dairy farmers "and resist Italy's request that he side with the Italian farmers and cheesemakers who have blocked” U.S. cheeses from store shelves in the European Union. NMPF says the U.S. is running a $1.5 billion dairy trade deficit with Europe because of unfair trade practices that largely block U.S. access. EU policies such as Italian-initiated bans on American-made cheeses mean the EU can ship $1 billion in cheese each year while U.S. cheese exports to the EU are at $6 million. ************************************************************************************* Fed Beige Book: Farm Finances Deteriorating The Federal Reserve Bank’s Beige Book updated this week suggests farm financial conditions are deteriorating. The report, published eight times a year, says the agriculture sector remained weak, while crop and cattle prices remained relatively stable. Bankers reported modestly higher loan demand and an improvement in loan quality. However, many Midwest districts report lower crop production and yield forecast. Lenders remain concerned as the ongoing impacts of adverse weather, weak commodity prices and trade disruptions, will continue. However, the Kansas City Federal Reserve Bank did note that the distribution of 2019 USDA trade relief payments could provide additional short-term support to farm cash flows. The Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco reports lumber producers are scaling back due to lower exports, and apple growers report oversupply. And California farmland prices are decreasing due to current trade issues. Meanwhile, the Federal Reserve Bank of Texas reported trade issues were still very prominent on the minds of agricultural producers, but some banks reported more optimism regarding a resolution. ************************************************************************************* Stabenow Questions USDA SNAP Change During Senate Hearing Senator Debbie Stabenow Thursday questioned the Department of Agriculture over its categorical eligibility rule proposal for the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program. USDA this week published an analysis finding the rule would remove nearly one million children from automatic enrollment for free school meals, and 40,000 would no longer be eligible for free meals. During a Senate Agriculture Committee hearing on farm bill implementation, Stabenow alleged that USDA “has continued to ignore what we’ve put in the farm bill,” which she says rejected changes to SNAP. Deputy Agriculture Secretary Stephen Censky says the changes are to ensure “eligibility requirements are being enforced.” Censky cited criticism over USDA's handling of eligibility by the Government Accountability Office, adding USDA "needs to do a better job" of making sure eligibility requirements are being enforced, and that states are not finding loopholes to increase enrollment. Stabenow says the analysis published this week by USDA, is flawed, adding "I would strongly urge you to reconsider" the proposal. USDA has reopened the comment period for the rule. ************************************************************************************* Organic Corn and Soybean Farmers Face Sharp Production Declines Spring weather has taken a toll on U.S. organic commodity producers, shown by a significant drop in overall corn and soybean production for 2019, according to a new report. Organic industry data service Mercaris (Meh-CAR-us) just released its 2019 fall Organic Commodities Outlook. The report predicts a 12 percent year-over-year decline in organic corn production and a 14 percent decline in organic soybean production due to challenges during spring planting. In the Corn Belt, the report estimates organic wheat production will see a 19 percent decline. However, overall U.S. organic wheat production is predicted to increase seven percent over 2018 thanks to gains in areas outside of the Corn Belt, namely the High Plains and West regions. Meanwhile, organic livestock production growth is expected to slow but will still see a one percent increase overall. Because of that, imports should bridge the gap between domestic organic feed demand and U.S. 2019 production. Mercaris, who published the report, is a data services firm launched in 2013 focused on growing demand for organic foods. ************************************************************************************* USDA Declares United States Free from Plum Pox Virus The Department of Agriculture Thursday declared the U.S. free of plum pox virus. USDA undersecretary for marketing and regulatory programs Greg Ibach made the declaration at a ceremony, saying the 20-year fight against the disease “is officially over.” Ibach says USDA has eliminated the disease, protection the $6.3 billion U.S. stone fruit industry. USDA calls plum pox is a serious disease impacting stone fruit such as plums, almonds, and peaches. No other countries where plum pox disease is known to occur have successfully eradicated the disease. Plum pox does not kill infected trees outright. However, it causes severe yield losses and greatly reduces the marketability. The virus spreads over short distances by aphids and over long distances via the movement of infected nursery stock or by grafting infected buds onto healthy trees. The disease was first detected in Pennsylvania in 1999. A USDA program helped test, remove and avoid infected trees.

| Rural Advocate News | Friday October 18, 2019 |


Washington Insider: Questioning the Get Tough Trade Policy There have long been concerns in some quarters about the basis for the Trump administration’s “get-tough” policy with China, and other. This week, a number of industry and media sources are persistently questioning what the longer-term impacts on the domestic and global economies may be. For example, the New York Times said on Thursday that the current “agreement in principle,” with China has yet to be finalized — and likely would not roll back the hundreds of billions of dollars in tariffs that China and America have placed on each others’ products. In addition, it noted that the president is also considering escalating the trade fight to other fronts, as it prepares to tax $7.5 billion worth of wine, cheese, aircraft and other European goods. And, the administration says it will decide next month whether to impose tariffs on imported cars from European and other countries. On Wednesday, President Trump discussed the possibility of additional tariffs on the European Union if the bloc is unwilling to reduce the EU-U.S. trade imbalance — but said “for right now, we’re going to try and do it without that,” although he continues to argue that “the United States is not being treated fairly.” The Times also commented especially on the president’s “unpredictable” approach, and said that new, limited deals with South Korea and Japan and the proposed “new” NAFTA will come at a cost. The recent and proposed “tit for tat” tariffs have raised prices for businesses, uprooted global supply chains and created crippling uncertainty for companies, delaying investment and hiring. The pain has spread beyond the United States and China and is exacerbating a global economic slowdown, particularly in Europe. “Economists warn the damage is likely to outlast any interim trade deal with China,” the Times said. The article mentioned several fairly gloomy, new forecasts, including a World Bank expectation that next year’s growth would be below previous estimates of 2.6%. It acknowledged that trade uncertainty remains a drag on the global economy along with the possibility of a “hard” Brexit resulting from Britain’s plan to leave the European Union. There could be reason for optimism in 2020, it said, “if there can be a reduction in uncertainty and more clarity on the outlook on trade and that includes U.S.-China trade but that also includes “the global trade environment itself.” Not all of the negative economic effects are a result of the trade war, the report said. But it asserts that policymakers say Mr. Trump’s trade policies “could help tip the global economy into recession.” The Federal Reserve has begun cutting interest rates to try and insulate the American economy against the effects of President Trump’s trade war, but its officials have warned that their power is limited and that economic damage is likely to persist, particularly if uncertainty continues and tariffs remain in effect. The president and his trade advisers continue to insist that China is paying the cost of the tariffs, not American businesses or consumers. But a new paper by researchers at Harvard University, the University of Chicago and the Federal Reserve Bank of Boston suggests that businesses and consumers in the United States are feeling an impact from the trade fight and that the pain could escalate and that additional costs could be passed on to American consumers in the months to come. President Trump agreed to forgo a tariff increase planned for Oct. 15. But another round of tariffs is still on the table for December, the Times said, in addition to those already existing on $360 billion worth of Chinese goods. And, while the president “has floated the idea of signing an agreement with his counterpart, Xi Jinping, at a summit of global leaders in mid-November,” the deal has yet to be finalized and analysts say there are plenty of ways the fragile agreement could crumble, as happened in May. Secretary Mnuchin told NYT on Wednesday that he has no plans to travel to China for more negotiations, and that there has been no decision as to whether the existing tariffs or those scheduled to take effect in December would be reversed if a deal is reached. In addition, he said issues such as intellectual property protections, forced technology transfers and how to enforce an agreement are still being worked out. The lack of a final deal, let alone a comprehensive agreement that ends the tariff war, is enough to stymie global growth for the foreseeable future, economists and other analysts say. “The U.S. is attempting to pluck low-hanging fruit first, rather than hold out for a more complete trade deal,” Julian Evans-Pritchard, an economist at Capital Economics, wrote in a note to clients. “But reaching an agreement on the more contentious structural issues remains an uphill battle and it still seems more likely than not that trade tensions will escalate again before long.” So, we will see. Clearly, new questions and concerns about the administration’s focus on tariffs can be expected to intensify, especially if the economy continues to slow. This is a high stakes fight producers should watch closely as it proceeds, Washington Insider believes.

| Rural Advocate News | Friday October 18, 2019 |


Disaster Aid Funding Soon: Perdue USDA Secretary Sonny Perdue said this week that U.S. farmers should see disaster aid funding soon. “Farmers who are eligible for individual disaster aid that signed up last month, the money should start flowing in this week.” Perdue said earlier this week in Georgia, adding USDA is working with the states on block grants to cover damage to non-traditional items like timber and animal facilities. However, farm and commodity groups have notified lawmakers that the $3.050 billion in funding for Wildfire and Hurricane Indemnity Program Plus (WHIP+) will not likely come close to needs, a development that was widely expected given the amount of funding and potential claims expected to be made.

| Rural Advocate News | Friday October 18, 2019 |


Pelosi Comments Still Positive On Prospects For USMCA While most have focused on Democratic leaders walking out of a meeting with President Donald Trump where both sides have traded accusations about someone suffering a “meltdown,” House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., made additional statements that indicate she is still working toward House approval of the U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA). "We will do what we need to do for the good of the American people, and that has nothing to do with him," Pelosi said, with “him” being Trump. "There may be some collateral benefit to him when we successfully achieve some things for the American people. But there's no reason not to do it because there's collateral benefit to him." U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer was scheduled to meet with House Democratic working group on USMCA Thursday, and some indicate there could be multiple meetings in the next week on the matter. Members of the group and Speaker Pelosi continue to insist that progress is being made.

| Rural Advocate News | Friday October 18, 2019 |


Friday Watch List Markets USDA's weekly report of export sales is due out at 7:30 a.m. CDT, followed by the Conference Board's index of leading indicators at 9 a.m. As usual, weather forecasts will be watched for harvest opportunities with more rain expected in the central Corn Belt Monday. Any comments of trade with China also remain of interest. Weather Friday will be dry in all primary crop areas. Conditions favor harvest progress outside of the northwestern Corn Belt areas affected by last week's snowstorm.

| Rural Advocate News | Thursday October 17, 2019 |


Pelosi Hopeful for Path to Passing USMCA House Speaker Nancy Pelosi says work continues on the U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement, while impeachment proceedings move forward in the House of Representatives. Still, a fear persists outside of Washington, D.C., that USMCA may not reach the finish line because of the full schedule in Washington. Speaking to reporters earlier this week, Pelosi reaffirmed that House Democrats are working towards a solution, saying, "we hope to be on a path to yes." Pelosi says Democrats are still waiting on assurances about enforceability. Those in Washington, both Democrats and Republicans, remain optimistic House Democrats can reach an agreement with the Trump administration to pass USMCA. The Trump administration threatened when the impeachment inquiry was announced that “House Democrats destroyed any chances of legislative progress,” including USMCA, which will replace the North American Free Trade Agreement. Mexico’s President recently pledged to sign a letter to U.S. lawmakers urging passage of the agreement. Mexico ratified USMCA this summer, and Canada is expected to do so following its federal elections later this month. ************************************************************************************* Biofuels, Oil Industry, Both Disapprove of RFS Proposal Neither the biofuels industry nor the oil industry seems happy with the latest Renewable Fuel Standard proposal to address waived biofuels. The Environmental Protection Agency released its supplemental rule proposal this week, directing the EPA to use a three-year average to determine waived volumes to be reallocated, based on recommendations from the Department of Energy. Biofuels groups charge the proposal provides a loophole, as the EPA has previously ignored similar Energy Department recommendations. National Corn Growers Association President Kevin Ross says the proposal “fails to provide the assurance needed that EPA’s practices for granting waivers will change going forward.” Meanwhile, the American Petroleum Institute released a statement following the announcement, alleging the Trump administration, once again, decided to “play politics with our fuel system.” API says the proposal includes “misguided reallocation of volumes,” that will “punish oil companies to comply with the RFS.” API adds that “If this arbitrary policy was conceived to help farmers, it provides no immediate relief.” ************************************************************************************* Grassley, Tester, Introduce Rural Stress and Mental Health Legislation Two farm state Senators are promoting legislation that seeks to curb farmer suicides. Announced last month, the Seeding Rural Resilience Act would offer ways to help farmers and rural America deal with stress. The bill was formally introduced this week by Senator John Tester, a Democrat from Montana, and Iowa Republican Senator Chuck Grassley. Grassley and Tester say the legislation is receiving praise from farm and mental health organizations. Tester says the legislation “puts us on track towards giving farmers the resources they need” to cope with stress in a tough economy. Federal data shows the suicide rate is 45 percent higher in rural America than in urban areas. The bill would provide Department of Agriculture employees voluntary stress management training, and for a partnership with the Department of Health to create a $3 million public awareness campaign, and create a path to identify the best practices for responding to farm and ranch stress. ************************************************************************************* Legislation to Improve Weather Forecasting Models Introduced New legislation introduced in the Senate seeks more accurate weather forecasting. The Learning Excellence and Good Examples from New Developers, or LEGEND Act, would require the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration to make certain weather models public and seek innovations to improve weather models. The bill was introduced by Republican John Thune of South Dakota, and Brian Schatz, a Democrat from Hawaii. Thune says the legislation builds on his efforts to improve weather forecasting during his time on the Commerce Committee, saying the “livelihood of farmers and ranchers” often depend on accurate forecasts.” Thune says it’s “important that we find innovative ways to improve government forecasting capabilities.” Included in the legislation is a requirement for the U.S. Weather Research Program to establish the Earth Prediction Innovation Center, which was intended to advance weather modeling. The legislation would clarify and strengthen those efforts, according to Thune. When fully established, the program will provide a platform for collaboration to improve operational models and advance NOAA’s forecasting skills. ************************************************************************************* Chinese Consumer Pork Prices Surge The National Bureau of Statistics of China Wednesday reported that pork prices in the nation have increased 69.3 percent, compared to last year. China released its September Consumer Prices report, which details food prices, among other general items. Overall, food prices have increased by 8.4 percent since last year. African swine fever has taken a toll on pork production in China as experts believe the virus has wiped out as much as half of the nation’s pork herd. Pork is a staple of the Chinese diet, and China is the top pork producing nation in the world. Reuters reports that Chinese importers recently made a record large weekly purchase of American pork last week, ahead of trade talks with the United States. The purchases included 18,800 metric tons of pork for shipment this year, and 123,300 metric tons of pork for shipment in 2020. Meanwhile, Chinese imports of pork from all sources is up 43 percent this year, compared to 2018. ************************************************************************************* NCGA Commits to Focus on Aflatoxin The National Corn Growers Association just announced new research grants to help manage and solve aflatoxin issues. The grants are part of a long-term initiative by the organization to help farmers eliminate aflatoxin. The Aflatoxin Mitigation Center of Excellence Research Program will again offer grants to researchers for projects focused on solving aflatoxin issues. The grants, which will be awarded to researchers focusing on six priority areas, were designed by southern corn checkoff boards to bring a unified approach to funding research projects across the region, and will favor research teams that include members from multiple states. NCGA Corn Productivity and Quality Action Team Chair Charles Ring, a corn grower in Texas, says, “Working together, we can improve the tools available for aflatoxin control and get real results that farmers can see in their fields.” Letters of intent from researchers and collaborators not exceeding the $75,000 per year limit will be accepted until October 25.

| Rural Advocate News | Thursday October 17, 2019 |


Washington Insider: Growth Drug Use Under Pressure In a development largely below the radar for most urban media, Food Safety News says this week that a mega Pork Producer JBS USA has banned the use of growth drug ractopamine in the hogs it purchases because it sees a growing trade opportunity with China “where the drug remains prohibited.” Ractopamine is used by many producers to raise leaner pigs. However, that practice remains highly controversial and is banned in the EU and China who neither allow its use of or tolerate residues in imported meat. JBS, owned by JBS SA based in Brazil, hopes to help China fill a huge gap created by the African swine disease by shipping it ractopamine-free pork. Other companies have similarly limited the drug’s use to allow competition in more export markets. JBS, based in Greeley, Colo., limited its use of the growth drug on its own in 2018. The company now says it won’t buy hogs from any farm that uses it. FSN notes that China, the world’s leading pork producer and consumer, is being hammered by African swine fever—a disease that “is not harmful to humans but is always deadly to pigs.” And, by dropping use of the feed additive entirely, the company expects to accelerate competition for pork exports there. There is no vaccine for African swine fever, which broke out in China a year ago. The World Organization of Animal Health reports it has since spread to more than 50 counties, which normally account for about 75 percent of the planet’s pork production. FSN expects that the dramatic decline in the global supply of hogs will create enough demand to pay JBS to drop ractopamine to compete more broadly. JBS USA sells pork under brands including Swift and Swift Premium and until now has focused mainly on the domestic market, leaving China mainly to Smithfield Foods which is owned by China’s WH Group and bans ractopamine on company-owned and contract farms. “We are confident this decision will provide long-term benefits to our producer partners and our industry by ensuring U.S. pork products are able to compete fairly in the international marketplace,” JBS USA said. Tyson Fresh Meats, the beef and pork subsidiary of Tyson Foods, Inc. (NYSE: TSN), today announced plans to prohibit the use of ractopamine in the market hogs it buys from farmers beginning in February 2020. Ractopamine is a feed ingredient that helps increase the amount of lean meat in hogs. While it is FDA-approved and considered safe for use, some countries such as China prohibit the import of pork from hogs that have been given the product. Tyson Fresh Meats has been offering a limited amount of ractopamine-free pork to export customers by working with farmers who raise hogs without it, and by segregating the animals and products at processing plants. However, these programs no longer adequately meet growing global demand. "We believe the move to prohibit ractopamine use will allow Tyson Fresh Meats and the farmers who supply us to compete more effectively for export opportunities in even more countries," stated Steve Stouffer, President, Tyson Fresh Meats. Most of the hogs delivered to the company's pork plants are purchased from about 2,000 independent farmers. The growth additive has frequently been in the news. It was approved by FDA in 1998 to improve the rate at which animals convert feed to lean meat and is used in other countries, including Canada and Brazil, for livestock production. However, China, Russia, the European Union and several other countries continue to question its safety and refuse to accept meat from animals that use the drug. Since 2012, the standards-setting Codex Alimentarius Commission, the UN food standards-setting body, has established residue limits for the drug but animal rights and food safety groups have frequently petitioned FDA to lower the residue limits and have called for more study of the drug’s effects on human health and animal welfare. However, trade disputes have continued in recent years and a number of politicians including Sens. Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa and Amy Klobuchar, D-Minn., have urged the U.S. to “demonstrate to Russia that its newfound commitment to WTO membership includes adherence to science-based standards, such as the CODEX MRL for ractopamine.” And, the growth drug continues to be controversial both in export markets and among American activists groups such as the Center for Food Safety, the Center for Biological Diversity, and the Sierra Club who argue that the FDA has not done enough to test the potentially harmful effects of it on people, animals, and the environment. So, we will see. The decisions by JBS and other US companies, as well as pressure from potential export markets certainly is upping the ante on the US industry, if not on the FDA. In addition, the meat industry is under increasing political and social pressure from many directions these days, and it would seem prudent to continue to undertake hard-nosed evaluations of product quality as fights for competitive position continue both domestically and abroad, Washington Insider believes.

| Rural Advocate News | Thursday October 17, 2019 |


USDA Mulling Adding Revisions to Corn Crop in Sept. Stocks Update USDA is considering adding revisions of the previous year’s corn crop to its September quarterly stocks report, beginning in 2020, Lance Honig, crops branch chief for USDA’s National Agricultural Statistics Service. He made the remarks on the sidelines of a meeting for USDA data users. USDA currently updates its corn crop estimates in an annual crop production summary released in January. Honig also said USDA rarely makes big revisions to a previous year’s corn crop. USDA already makes revisions of the previous year’s soybean crop in the September stocks report. In fact, revisions are the norm. It has revised its estimate of the previous year’s soybean crop in 18 of the past 20 September stocks report.

| Rural Advocate News | Thursday October 17, 2019 |


Focus Continues On Purchases of US Ag Goods By China More doubt and questions surface on China’s potential buys of $40 billion to $50 billion in U.S. farm products, with questions on how much, the time frame for purchases, and what the U.S. might have to give in return for China committing to purchase a quantity of US farm products. Chinese negotiators continue to say purchases must be based on actual demand and at fair-market prices. It will take up to five weeks to see the official language of any conclusion to Phase One agreements, as both sides meet and work on language to be hopefully signed by President Donald Trump and Chinese President Xi Jinping on the sidelines of the November 16-17 APEC meeting in Chile. Sen. Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, said Tuesday he wanted to get more details on what the agreement entails. Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Geng Shuang told reporters Tuesday that Beijing would step up purchases of US agricultural products but provide details. He said that China’s understanding of the latest trade talks was “consistent” with what the U.S. described. Some indicate that China could attach conditions to a written pact that would allow it to buy less farm products than the US expects, such as by stretching out the time frame for purchases. China could also insist on language saying that prices for US goods are reasonable and that Chinese purchases comply with the rules of the World Trade Organization, which bans managed trade. This is why the official Phase One language regarding farm product purchases will be key.

| Rural Advocate News | Thursday October 17, 2019 |


Thursday Watch List Markets Thursday's schedule is busy and different due to Columbus Day. NOAA will update its 30-day and 90-day forecasts early. Weekly jobless claims and September U.S. housing starts are set for 7:30 a.m. CDT, followed by September industrial production at 8:15 a.m. The U.S. Energy Department releases weekly natural gas inventory at 9:30 and other weekly energy inventories at 10 a.m. CDT, including ethanol. USDA's weekly export sales report gets pushed to Friday. Weather All primary crop areas will be dry Thursday. This drier pattern will offer improved harvest conditions.

| Rural Advocate News | Wednesday October 16, 2019 |


EPA Biofuels Proposal Comes up Short for Ethanol Industry The Environmental Protection Agency Tuesday released its plan to change the Renewable Fuel Standard regarding small refinery exemptions. However, biofuels proponents don’t approve of the changes. The National Biodiesel Board says in a statement the notice “contains a never-before-discussed proposal to estimate small refinery exemptions, with no assurance that the estimate will come close to actual exemptions.” The EPA says the notice does not change the proposed volumes for 2020 and 2021. Instead, it proposes and seeks comment on adjustments to the way annual renewable fuel percentages are calculated. Specifically, the agency is seeking comment on projecting the volume of gasoline and diesel that will be exempt in 2020 due to small refinery exemptions based on a three-year average of the relief recommended by the Department of Energy. However, Renewable Fuels Association CEO Geoff Cooper called the terms of the announcement baffling, because the proposal uses “the very same DOE recommendations that EPA blatantly ignored over and over.” The EPA will hold a public forum on October 30, 2019. ************************************************************************************* China Wants More Phase One Talks Optimism over a trade breakthrough with China is fading as China wants more talks this month to work out the details of the “phase one” agreement. Bloomberg News reports China may send another trade delegation to Washington, to finalize a written agreement. A statement from China’s Commerce Ministry noted “substantial progress” in the talks last week on agriculture and other provisions. However, China wants President Donald Trump to cancel plans to increase tariffs in December. The phase one agreement could be signed at the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation summit next month. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin earlier this week suggested work in the coming weeks to ready the agreement, adding, if not, the U.S. will impose the December tariff increase. As part of the agreement, President Trump says China will purchase $40-50 billion of U.S. agricultural goods over the next couple of years. Trump said this week, “They’re going to have to buy more land fast and lots of tractors,” regarding the economic impact of the agreement for farmers. ************************************************************************************* Manufacturing Groups, Businesses, Ask Congress to Pass USMCA A group of business organizations wants Congress to ratify the U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement. Led by the National Association of Manufacturers, the group of more than 350 associations and businesses sent a letter to Congress urging approval of the agreement. The groups support the call by saying, "Canada and Mexico alone, despite representing less than four percent of the global economy, buy more U.S.-manufactured goods than our next 11 trading partners combined." Mexico's government has ratified the USMCA. It now awaits approval from lawmakers in Canada and the United States. Canada is expected to ratify the agreement following its national elections later this month. The coalition says USMCA would spur economic growth and provide much-needed certainty for manufacturers across North America. The letter also says the deal includes “best-in-class” intellectual property rules, and would expand U.S. manufacturing access to Canada and Mexico, while providing a level playing field. Signatories on the letter include international agribusiness and food companies, along with animal feed and food manufacturing associations. ************************************************************************************* Study Shows Pig Farmers Improving Their Environmental Footprint Through Efficiencies A new environmental study shows that pig farms are generating less manure nutrient content associated with odor. Data gathered from more than 106,000 samples at 182 North Carolina farms shows significant reductions in ammonia levels and manure nutrient content. The improvements are attributed to gains in feed efficiency, which means it takes less feed to raise a pig. The Pork Checkoff, which funded the study, announced the findings Tuesday. The study found that North Carolina pig farmers have significantly increased feed efficiency over the past 17 years. Long-term, continuous improvement has resulted in trending reductions in nutrient content in manure lagoons at the farms. Specifically, data gathered from the participating North Carolina pig farms showed a reduction of 35 percent to 78 percent in the nutrient content from hog finishers in primary lagoons, and a reduction of 17 percent to 68 percent in primary lagoons for sow farms. Also, the study showed a reduction of 22 percent to 54 percent in ammonia levels. ************************************************************************************* Growth Energy Announces New Chairman of the Board Following a year of milestones for the biofuels industry, Growth Energy this week announced the election of Dan Sanders as the association's new chairman of the board of directors. Sanders is the vice president of Front Range Energy, a 48 million gallon ethanol production facility located in Colorado. Front Range Energy joined Growth Energy in 2008, when the organization was founded. As chairman, Sanders succeeds Jeff Broin, CEO of POET, LLC, who held the position since the association's inception in 2008, and through the successful campaign to achieve year-round E15, the original goal on which the association was founded. Upon reaching the industry milestone, Broin announced in September he would step down as chairman, but plans to remain an active member of the Growth Energy Board. Sanders previously served as vice-chair of the board, which will now be filled by Mitch Miller. Miller is the chief executive officer and managing director for Michigan’s Carbon Green BioEnergy. ************************************************************************************* Illinois Ag Department Announces New Dicamba Restrictions The Illinois Department of Agriculture recently announced additional label restrictions for the 2020 growing season for dicamba. Agriculture Director John Sullivan announced the rules due to a dramatic rise in the number of off-target complaints received during the 2019 growing season, adding “the department is taking action to reduce those numbers." The new restrictions halt the use of dicamba after June 20, 2020. The new regulations also prohibit the application of dicamba if the air temperature at the field at the time of application is over 85 degrees Fahrenheit, or if the National Weather Service's forecasted high temperature for the nearest available location for the day of application exceeds 85 degrees. Applicators also must maintain the label-specified downwind buffer between the last treated row and the nearest downfield edge of any Illinois Nature Preserves Commission site. In addition to these provisions', applicators must follow the federal guidelines when it comes to applying dicamba, including taking an annual certified applicator training course.

| Rural Advocate News | Wednesday October 16, 2019 |


Washington Insider: New Weed on the Block Amid trade wars and rumors of even newer fights, Politico is focusing this week on hemp — the “new weed on the block,” it says. The report follows a group of producers from Kentucky that are looking for a “high-profit alternative to tobacco” and see hemp’s promise in markets for fiber, livestock feed and in food supplements. However, early adopters found both production and marketing “very tricky,” Politico says. The producers had known that “hemp and marijuana are versions of the same plant: cannabis.” The only difference is that marijuana contains much higher concentrations of the chemical THC, which causes a psychoactive high. Still, cannabis can be used for other purposes and the federal government has decided that cannabis that has only a small amount of THC, no more than 0.3%, is a different crop. In response, Politico thinks that Kentucky farmers — and others — are experimenting with the creation of a “whole new industry.” All forms of cannabis used to be illegal to cultivate. But to help early adapters, Congress legalized hemp production nationwide as part of the 2018 farm bill. The crop offers a new source of income for some who have losses because of the trade war with China, dropping commodity prices and a series of natural disasters. But, the change also is creating new challenges including the need to keep a close eye on crops to make sure that their THC level doesn’t creep above 0.3%. Even where marijuana is legal, farmers who accidentally grow marijuana can’t just sell it — THC levels for marijuana are typically around 15% to 20%, much higher than for hemp. Also, control of THC levels in growing plants is a delicate, high-stakes task, one of many issues that have popped up as the country grapples with how to grow and regulate this brand new product. USDA is under pressure to replace the patchwork of state regulations on measuring THC with national testing standards the department says it plans to implement this fall, ahead of the 2020 growing season. And, there is also the problem of market focus. Hemp proponents like those Politico followed in Kentucky try distinguish between policies for hemp and marijuana—but marijuana advocates have made it clear that they want legal hemp to be a step toward legalizing all varieties of cannabis. So far, that doesn’t seem to be happening but Politico thinks it remains unclear how the growing popularity of hemp will factor into that broader debate. And, across the country, the exploding number of hemp farmers and products containing hemp oil are quickly normalizing consumption of cannabis products “complicating an already complex legal and policy debate,” Politico said. Hemp has a range of uses, but most farmers grow it to produce cannabidiol, or CBD — a compound that doesn’t get you high but is the key ingredient in trendy new products from lotions to gummy vitamins. Companies claim it can alleviate anxiety, pain and treat other health conditions. It’s also trapped in a regulatory black hole at FDA which hasn’t explained how it plans to regulate these products. Despite that uncertainty, hemp harvests have exploded. In 2014, the first year of Kentucky’s program, farmers planted just 33 acres. This year, Kentucky approved the planting of 56,000 acres across the state, Politico said. Politico also thinks “hemp enthusiasm” comes partly from its profitability. It can bring in as much as $2,200 per acre—and has helped farmers feel more comfortable about growing a plant related to marijuana, said Jeff Sharkey, a lobbyist in Florida on behalf of the medical marijuana and hemp industries. Also, the support of Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and endorsement of hemp by the farm bill certainly helps, Sharkey added. Hemp is hardy enough to grow in many climates and soils: Montana, Colorado and Oregon also rake in sizable harvests and many other states are experimenting with it. Still, hemp farmers risk more than a failed crop and lost cash if their plants test “hot.” They could also get into legal trouble. A Minnesota farmer in June was charged with two felonies after his crop was seized by authorities and tested at THC levels of 3%—10 times the legal threshold for hemp. And, when it comes to sampling practices and standards, every state takes its own approach. Holly Bell, the architect of Florida’s hemp market, said the state has learned from other states not to just focus on the farming side of hemp but also the processing, manufacturing and distributing components of the industry. A USDA spokesperson told POLITICO that the draft rule regulating hemp is under review by OMB and the department intends to have the regulations in effect this fall. “USDA staff are exercising due diligence to address multiple requirements for hemp,” including maintaining records, designing inspections and developing THC testing standards, among other marketing and handling concerns,” he said. So, we will see. Certainly, the development of a new, profitable ag product is welcome—but some of the steps to understanding both the production and marketing challenges are formidable. The development of equitable and effective rules will be a significant challenge, one producers should watch closely as it proceeds, Washington Insider believes.

| Rural Advocate News | Wednesday October 16, 2019 |


Mexico’s President Urges Pelosi to Speed Up USMCA Process Mexico’s president wants Pelosi to accelerate USMCA ratification vote. Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador said Friday he sent a letter to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., asking her to speed up the process of ratifying the U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement, (USMCA), according to reports out of Mexico City. Obrador, in a press conference, said the letter was a follow up to a visiting delegation of House Democrats last week, according to a translation published in the New York Times. “There is agreement, and I took the opportunity to send Mrs. Pelosi a letter explaining that it is in the interest of the three peoples, the three nations, that this deal is approved,” Obrador said. Meanwhile, indications are that the votes are there for ratification of the trade deal in both the House and Senate. A vote is possible as soon as November, but it may take into December. Contacts believe Pelosi may not have the majority of her membership that will vote for ratification, but will have enough of them, along with House Republicans, to clear the measure.

| Rural Advocate News | Wednesday October 16, 2019 |


China, US Appear on Same Page Regarding Phase One Trade Deal Attention on the announcement Friday (October 11) that the U.S. and China had reached agreement on phase one of a trade deal continues to garner attention. Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin Monday commented on the situation Monday in an interview with CNBC, telling the news service that the two sides “made substantial progress last week in the negotiations. We have a fundamental agreement, it is subject to documentation, and there is a lot of work to be done on that front.” He said the deal includes “very significant structural issues in agriculture” as well as the promise of buying up to $50 billion of U.S. commodities. China had “some concerns as to whether our farmers can meet those numbers. We think they can,” Mnuchin said. “The next phase is deputy-level calls that will be going on this week,” Mnuchin observed. Mnuchin and U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer “will have a principal-level call next week with the vice-premier. My expectation is [that] we will have the deputies meet between now and Chile, and my expectations are that we will be meeting with the vice-premier in Chile before the presidents meet to finish the deal,” the Treasury chief said. From the Chinese side, Foreign Ministry spokesman Geng Shuang told reporters that what the U.S. said is "accurate" regarding phase one of the deal and that the U.S. and China have the same understanding of the situation.

| Rural Advocate News | Wednesday October 16, 2019 |


Wednesday Watch List Markets Wednesday is a light day for reports with U.S. retail sales at 7:30 a.m. CDT and the Federal Reserve's Beige Book due out at 1 p.m. CDT. Weather remains important for row crop harvest conditions and winter wheat planting. Trade with China also remains an ongoing topic of interest. Weather Wednesday will be dry and favorable for field drying and harvest in all primary crop areas. Rain will be confined to the eastern and southern U.S. The 10-day pattern is drier and cool, giving additional harvest prospects.

| Rural Advocate News | Tuesday October 15, 2019 |


Trump: China Ag Purchases Already Underway President Donald Trump says China will immediately start buying U.S. agricultural products. Via Twitter over the weekend, Trump says China will start buying “very large quantities” of U.S. farm products, adding, “they have already started.” The administration says the agreement Friday includes $40-$50 billion of commodity sales to China over the next couple of years. China already had increased purchases of agricultural goods, like soybeans and pork, heading into the talks last week. China also agreed to certain intellectual property measures, as well as concessions related to financial services and currency. President Trump says the U.S. and China will work quickly to finalize phase one of the agreement and proceed to phase two. Agriculture groups expressed careful optimism following the announcement last week. The American Soybean Association called the partial agreement "good news," but awaits further details on the potential economic impact of the agreement. ASA adds the organization “remains hopeful this is a step toward rescinding the tariffs and helping restore certainty and stability to the soy industry.” ************************************************************************************ AEM Releases September Equipment Sales Results September was a fairly solid month overall for retail sales of tractors and combines in the United States and Canada, according to the latest data from the Association of Equipment Manufacturers. Total farm tractor sales in the U.S. increased 18.7 percent in September compared to last year, while combine sales increased 12.3 percent. Year to date, total U.S. tractor sales are up nearly five percent, while sales of combines are up 1.8 percent. For Canada, total farm tractor sales were up 13.7 percent, while sales of combines were down 25.5 percent. Year-to-date, total tractor sales in Canada are down 4.4 percent, while sales of combines have decreased 27.7 percent. AEM senior vice president of ag services, Curt Blades, calls the sales figures solid, but says the organization continues “to hear from our members real concerns about the overall ag economy." AEM is an international trade group representing off-road equipment manufacturers and suppliers with more than 1,000 companies and more than 200 product lines in the agriculture and construction industry sectors worldwide. ************************************************************************************ Farm Equipment Leasing Doubles A new report shows the leasing of farm equipment has nearly doubled since 2012. The Wall Street Journal reports Deere & Co. is spending billions of dollars each year on its own equipment for leasing programs. Records show that more than one-third of financed purchases of high horsepower machinery made by John Deere is being leased to farmers and construction builders. Roughly 90 percent of those machines are owned by Deere's financing business. Deere reports that in 2018, leased equipment represented a value of $7.8 billion, compared to more than $2 billion in 2012. Meanwhile, CNH Industrial, the maker of Case IH and New Holland, is also leasing more equipment. The company says more than 40 percent of high horsepower tractor sales are leased, up from 25 percent back in 2012. The current farm economy is drastically different from 2012, around the time farm income reached an all-time high before plummeting over the last few years. ************************************************************************************ Trade Aid Includes Lamb Purchases The Department of Agriculture is moving forward with select trade aid provision in buying U.S. lamb products. USDA’s Agricultural Marketing Service recently announced the food purchase of up to $17 million of American lamb for distribution to various food nutrition assistance programs. The products include, but are not limited to, boneless lamb leg roasts and boneless lamb shoulder roasts. The Chief Economist’s office determined the amount to be spent on American lamb. The $17 million allotted is a larger amount than USDA has spent in previous lamb buys. The American Sheep Industry Association is helping facilitate the program between USDA and sheep producers. Meanwhile, the broader trade aid effort, including payments to farmers, remains unclear. USDA had planned another payment to producers this fall, with a final payment early next year. However, a breakthrough in talks with China, and the Japan agreement signed last week, could mean the payments are no longer needed in the eyes of the Trump administration and farmers. ************************************************************************************ NCGA Making Contributions to Bee Health National Corn Growers Association staffers recently participated in the annual meeting of the Honeybee Health Coalition. The effort is part of NCGA’s work to ensure corn growers' voices are represented in wide-ranging conversations on sustainability issues. Through its participation, NCGA ensures the coalition includes representation across a spectrum of stakeholders, including grower groups like NCGA, commercial beekeepers, input providers, specialty crop growers and more. Even though corn production does not require pollination from bees, NCGA still engages with groups like the Honeybee Health Coalition to “create dialogue and foster a better understanding” of the similarities and differences in crop production around the country. During the meeting, NCGA staff had the opportunity to lead a discussion on row crop production to allow others to better understand the decisions farmers make. NCGA says farmers can take small steps to support the health of honeybees. One such step is the planting of pollinator habitat on unused land on the farm, such as areas near farm buildings, or on marginal lands, like CRP group. ************************************************************************************ Midwest, Western Farmers to See Mid-South Cotton Operations Farmers from Idaho and North Dakota have a unique opportunity to observe cotton and other agriculture-related operations in the Mid-South. A group of farmers this week are touring southern cotton-growing areas as part of the National Cotton Council's Multi-Commodity Education Program. Launched in 2006, the program is a Cotton Foundation education project supported by a grant from John Deere. It is coordinated by NCC's Member Services and local leaders and organizations. The program is designed to provide its participants with a better understanding of production issues and concerns faced by their peers in another geographic region, along with an observation of that region’s agronomic practices, technology utilization, cropping patterns, marketing plans and operational structure. Finally, the program provides tours of the region’s research facilities and its agricultural processing operations and related businesses relevant to the area economy. The group began the tours Monday at NCC headquarters in Tennessee and will travel to cotton farms, warehouses and production facilities in Arkansas.

| Rural Advocate News | Tuesday October 15, 2019 |


Washington Insider: Trade News and Confusion The good news for the trade outlook with China reported over the weekend seems to have been at least somewhat premature. Later, on Monday, the media began to say that China had not actually confirmed elements of the deal earlier touted by the administration. A little later, Bloomberg reported that “China wants to hold more talks this month to hammer out the details of the phase one trade deal … before Xi Jinping agrees to sign it.” The report cited “people familiar with the matter.” Confusion exploded into press speculation almost immediately. “Beijing may send a delegation led by Vice Premier Liu He, China’s top negotiator, to finalize a written deal that could be signed by the presidents at the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation summit next month in Chile, Bloomberg said. Another report said China also wants the U.S. to scrap a planned tariff hike in December in addition to the hike scheduled for this week, “something the administration hasn’t yet endorsed.” Mainly, these sources are cited as “asking not to be named discussing the private negotiations.” Bloomberg summed up with “The U.S. and China have emerged from last week’s talks with different takes on what’s in the accord and how close they are to signing a document.” President Donald Trump said “we’ve come to a deal, pretty much, subject to getting it written” and indicated it might take several more weeks of negotiation. China’s Ministry of Commerce merely said that “the two sides have made substantial progress” and “agreed to work together in the direction of a final agreement.” The state-run Xinhua news agency didn’t mention “a deal” at all, Bloomberg said. Hu Xijin, the editor-in-chief of the Global Times, said in tweet that “China-U.S. trade talks made breakthrough last week and the two sides have the strong will to reach a final deal.” Bloomberg noted that the tabloid is “run by the People’s Daily, which is the flagship newspaper of the Communist Party.” Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said Monday on TV that he expects officials to work in coming weeks to get the first stage ready for both sides to sign. If that doesn’t happen, the new U.S. import taxes on Chinese products will be imposed starting Dec. 15, he said. Taoran Notes, a state-affiliated blog that focuses on the trade talks, said that the difference in tone struck by Chinese media was due to “cultural and language” differences and both sides are in consensus over the deal.” President Trump is scheduled to meet with Liu He on Nov. 11. China’s Ministry of Commerce did not immediately comment on the spate of confusing reports. Geng Shuang, a foreign ministry spokesman, reiterated on Monday that both sides had made progress and said he hoped “the U.S. will work with China and meet each other halfway.” Investors have struggled to determine whether or not the U.S. and China did reach a breakthrough in the 18-month trade war. Worse-than-expected September trade figures in China underscored the growing pressure on both Trump and Xi to reach a deal to avert a wider slowdown in the global economy. Bloomberg also noted that “China has become increasingly wary of any statements from President Trump.” Trust between the two sides suffered a big blow in May 2018, when President Trump put a stop to a deal for China to buy more energy and agricultural goods to narrow the trade deficit. The U.S. president further sowed distrust in August when he claimed that Chinese officials had called and requested to restart trade talks. For Xi, observers suggest that it is politically infeasible to accept a final deal that doesn’t remove the punitive tariffs altogether. Nationalists in the Communist Party have pressured him to avoid signing an “unequal treaty” reminiscent of those China signed with colonial powers. “The U.S. must concede on its December tariff threat if they want sign a deal during APEC summit, otherwise it would be a humiliating treaty for China,” said Huo Jianguo, a former Chinese commerce ministry official who is now vice chairman of the China Society For World Trade Organization Studies. “The U.S. has definitely shown some good gestures but we shouldn’t exclude the possibility of another flip-flop.” So, we will see. While there were numerous concerns voiced about the remaining gap between the U.S. and China following last week’s reports, few observers seem to have understood how preliminary — and, fragile — the perceived progress actually may have been. Certainly, the administration has considerable explaining to do if in fact there was very little agreement in spite of claims that there was—and what all that means for the future of crucial overseas markets and opportunities for U.S. producers and many others in these very tense political times, Washington Insider believes.

| Rural Advocate News | Tuesday October 15, 2019 |


Florida Tomato Exchange Calls for Reopening of Antidumping Probe The Commerce Department is being asked to reopen its antidumping investigation on imports of tomatoes from Mexico, with the request from the Florida Tomato Exchange (FTE) coming as they maintain that Mexico could walk away from the recently reached deal. Both sides had welcomed the deal when it was reached, but FTE said that Mexican tomato growers have been threatening to either launch legal challenges to the deal or seek to renegotiate the pact. Given the situation, FTE said they had “no choice” but to ask that Commerce reopen the investigation. It is not clear yet whether Commerce will take the step requested by the FTE.

| Rural Advocate News | Tuesday October 15, 2019 |


WTO Clears US Retaliation Against EU Over Airbus Subsidies The special meeting Monday at the WTO requested by the U.S. saw the U.S. granted approval to impose sanctions on $7.5 billion in goods from the European Union (EU). The EU continued to contend the U.S. action was unfair while the U.S. maintained the position that the dispute has been ongoing for some 15 years without any changes on the part of the EU. Incoming EU Trade Commissioner Phil Hogan said he would seek a negotiated settlement with the U.S. and said the block would likely finance and aid plan for olive farmers as they are among the sectors that will be hit by tariffs. The U.S. intends to hit the full $7.5 billion slate of products with tariffs, setting them at 10% for large commercial aircraft and 25% on agricultural and industrial goods. The tariffs will take effect October 18.

| Rural Advocate News | Monday October 14, 2019 |


U.S., China Reach Limited Trade Agreement The U.S. reached a limited trade agreement with China on Friday afternoon that would pave the way for resolutions on broader issues later in the year. Business Insider Dot Com says it temporarily defuses a dispute between the worlds’ two largest economies. President Donald Trump told reporters in the Oval Office that, “We’ve come to a very substantial phase one deal.” China reportedly agreed to sginificantly increase agricultural purchases, as much as $40-50 billion worth. China also agreed to certain intellectual property measures, as well as concessions related to financial services and currency. The U.S. will delay a tariff increase that was set to take effect this week as the deal is finalized. China had already been making more purchases of agricultural goods like soybeans and pork heading into the talks last week in Washington, D.C. The U.S. was threatening to increase tariffs Tuesday on approximately $250 billion worth of Chinese goods, upping the duties from 25 to 30 percent. The agreement will take three to five weeks to get written down on paper. It marks the first breakthrough in the 1.5-year trade war that has hurt the economies of both nations. Trump also told reporters that this is just the first phase of a broader agreement. It’s important to note that the Chinese Vice Premier doesn’t have the full authority to approve the agreement. China’s President Xi Jingping must agree to the deal as well. ********************************************************************************************** More Optimism Surrounding USMCA Passage One of the biggest hurdles to passing the U.S.-Mexico-Canada Trade Agreement could soon go away. Mexico recently promised House Democratic Leadership that it would improve its enforcement of new labor standards to protect the rights of workers in that country. The LA Times says Mexican President Obrador also told Democrats during meetings in Mexico that his government would add more funding to make sure Mexico complies with the agreement’s provisions. That could mean the road to the revised North American Free Trade Agreement could become much easier with Mexico’s concessions to labor concerns. That’s assuming Obrador’s assurances are put into writing as House Democrats want. The Democratic trip to Mexico comes almost a full year after Trump signed the new trade pact with the leaders of Mexico and Canada. Congress hasn’t approved the deal yet and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi says it won’t come up for a vote in the chamber until all of their concerns are resolved. U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer has worked with a group of House Democrats who want Mexico to improve its policy on labor, pharmaceutical, and environmental issues. However, the changes don’t require reopening the agreement with Mexico and Canada, something that would derail the trade pact entirely. ********************************************************************************************** McKinney Will Lead Trade Mission to Vietnam USDA Undersecretary for Trade and Foreign Agricultural Affairs Ted McKinney will lead a trade mission to Vietnam on October 15-18. It’s a large trade mission as McKinney will be accompanied by almost 80 industry and government representatives looking to grow agricultural export opportunities into one of the fastest-growing regions in the world. The mission will be based in Ho Chi Minh City, and it will also include buyer delegations from Thailand and Burma. “The size of this trade mission speaks to the phenomenal potential that exists for U.S. exports in Vietnam and the surrounding countries,” McKinney says. “Since the United States normalized relations with Vietnam in 1995, our agricultural exports have grown exponentially, reaching a record $4 billion last year.” Sales of U.S. food and farm products to Thailand and Burma also set records last year, reaching more than $2.1 billion and $126 million, respectively. The heads of six state departments of agriculture from Montana, New Mexico, North Dakota, South Dakota, Texas, and Wyoming will join McKinney on the trip. Officials from agriculture companies and commodity organizations will also be making the journey to Asia with McKinney. ********************************************************************************************** Tomato Virus Entering U.S. Through Mexican Imports The Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services issued an alert regarding the Tomato Brown Rugose Fruit Virus. The disease has been recently found in Mexican tomatoes at several grocery stores throughout the state. Multiple large-scale greenhouses in Mexico were confirmed to have shipped infected tomatoes to Florida. The virus can affect both tomatoes and peppers, causing severe yield reduction for growers and defects that make the fruit unmarketable to consumers. A Florida Tomato Exchange news release says this disease making its way into the U.S. tomato and pepper crop would be a crisis for American growers and shouldn’t be taken lightly. Growers around the world are already on high alert as the fruit virus, which originated in the Middle East, spread to Europe and Mexico. What makes the disease even more of a concern for growers is that it can be transmitted by touch. That makes it easy to spread the disease from infected imports in the marketplace to producer fields or greenhouses. The Florida Tomato Growers are asking the USDA to follow the lead of the European Commission, which voted to implement a quarantine status in all EU countries to help prevent the spread of the disease. ********************************************************************************************** Beef Exports Trail Last Year’s Record Number August beef exports this year were below the record-large numbers in August of last year. That’s according to data from the USDA that was compiled by the U.S. Meat Export Federation. August beef exports totaled just over 114,000 metric tons, a four percent drop from the large volume of a year ago. The export value dropped eight percent, coming in at a little more than $690 million. January through August beef exports were also just below last year’s record pace, declining two percent in volume to 881,500 metric tons and one percent in value at $5.44 billion. Exports accounted for 14 percent of total U.S. beef production in August. In terms of specific markets, beef exports to Korea slowed nine percent compared to 2018. That drop followed value records on beef shipments to Korea that were set in June and July. However, January-August exports to Korea were still eight percent ahead of last year’s record pace in volume and 10 percent higher in value. Beef variety meat exports to Japan have been a bright spot in 2019, increasing 31 percent in volume and 18 percent in value. “The U.S. beef industry is excited about the prospect of lower tariffs in Japan,” says USMEF President and CEO Dan Halstrom. “At 38.5 percent, the Japanese tariffs U.S. beef faces are the highest of any of our major markets.” ********************************************************************************************** Crowdfarming Platform Launched Steward, the world’s first crowdfarming platform, announced it is now open to individual investors. The platform allows people to invest directly in sustainable farms. Platform founder Dan Miller says the crowdfarming model creates a win-win for both farmers and investors, unlike traditional farm funding. Farmers can purchase the land and equipment they have to have while investors earn a return while they support regenerative agriculture. “Access to capital is a critical problem that limits many farmers, but for every farm that needs funds, there are many people ready to invest,” Miller says. “We created Steward as a platform for people to invest directly in sustainable farms, knowing that their dollars will earn a return while they make a positive impact.” Steward offers a variety of investment options, including a diversified portfolio of farm loans, individual farm loans, or Steward itself. The company does its homework and vets each farm, developing a customized plan with the farmer to get the funds they need to grow and operate their business. Steward has invested more than $2.2 billion in 16 sustainable farms to date.

| Rural Advocate News | Monday October 14, 2019 |


Washington Insider: Good News on China Trade There is at least some good news on trade this week—an interim pact announced Friday between the United States and China “came together” as both country’s leaders faced mounting political pressures and rising economic worries at home, the New York Times said on Sunday. It said that both sides decided that “half a deal was better than none,” consenting to a preliminary agreement that would involve China buying more American farm products and taking several other limited steps to open its economy “in exchange for the United States foregoing its planned tariff increase next week.” NYT noted that the truce will help calm a trade fight that has taken a significant toll on the world’s two largest economies and threatened to further slow global growth at a precarious moment. “It’s pretty clear that the U.S. and China have fought this war to a stalemate,” said Edward Alden, a senior fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations. “At the moment, neither side sees any real advantage in escalation. Of course, both sides are claiming a win, the Times said, and pointed to cautions including an International Monetary Fund warning last week that argued that the trade fight with China could cost the global economy around $700 billion by 2020 — a loss equivalent to the size of Switzerland’s entire economy. The Times also pointed to an American farm economy hurt by a sharp drop-off in sales to China, among the largest export markets for agricultural goods like soybeans, pork and corn. Although the administration has tried to blunt the pain with two rounds of financial assistance, farmers pushed the White House to end the war, saying the handouts “are not enough to make up for the lost sales.” NYT said. The administration had planned to increase tariffs on $250 billion worth of goods to 30% from 25%, a hike that would likely have been met with further retaliation by China and “been particularly burdensome for U.S. consumers and businesses going into the holiday season,” the Times said. The administration said on Friday that China has agreed to buy $40 billion to $50 billion worth of American farm goods annually after scaling up over a period of two years. The compromise is even more timely for Chinese President Xi Jinping, the Times said. Sharply rising food prices have become a national issue in China. A lethal epidemic among the country’s swine has sent prices skyward for pork as well as for alternatives like beef and lamb. As the Chinese public has begun asking, “Where’s the beef?” China’s trade negotiators suddenly have an answer: It can come from the United States, along with a lot of pork, soybeans and other food, the Times said. However, it also noted that the deal likely will not reverse a trend toward greater economic divisions between the two countries. If the understanding on Friday holds together, it would allow the U.S. to retain tariffs imposed over the past 16 months on a wide array of Chinese industries. That could prompt many companies to continue efforts to shift production away from China, possibly to the United States but more likely to American allies in Southeast Asia. Eswar Prasad, a professor of trade policy at Cornell University and a senior fellow at the Brookings Institution, said the agreement will defer new sanctions but will do little to resolve the major underlying sources of friction between the two countries. “It’s hard to see this really amounting to an actual de-escalation of tensions or anything that businesses can take to the bank,” Mr. Prasad said. The president has often criticized past administrations for ceding too much to China, and negotiating endlessly with limited results. China experts say that the many months of painful standoff have perhaps shown the limits to his winner-take-all approach. Negotiators say they will continue discussing other issues once the deal is signed. Still, the compromise does signal a shift in strategy for the administration, which had previously said it would settle for no less than a comprehensive pact that addressed so-called “structural issues” — that is, various industrial policies seen as harmful to American businesses, including subsidies to its state-owned companies, policies that pirate technology and a pernicious history of cybertheft. But while the agreement includes some new protections on intellectual property, greater access for financial services companies and guidelines as to how China manages its currency, it does not appear to address several of these deeper concerns. The U.S.-China Business Council, which represents American companies that do business in China, said it hoped the tentative agreement would restore sufficient confidence to allow negotiators to tackle other issues, including “market-distorting subsidies for state-owned enterprises and equal treatment for U.S. and other foreign companies.” Whether China will agree to deeper concessions is not guaranteed, particularly given Xi’s political sensitivities at home. In the next three weeks, Xi will face a long-awaited session of the 204-member Central Committee of the Chinese Communist Party. The committee, which has not gathered since February of last year, holds enormous power in China and has authority to change the country’s leaders. So, we will see. While a pause in hostilities likely will be seen as welcome by producers, the fact that so many of the often stated, key objectives have not been achieved can be expected to lead to questions of basic administration policy — a growing debate that producers should watch closely as it intensifies, Washington Insider believes.

| Rural Advocate News | Monday October 14, 2019 |


USDA Corrects August Trade Data to Trade Surplus, Not Deficit USDA has corrected its figures released October 7 on U.S. ag export and imports for August, essentially swapping the figures for the two categories. USDA now says that exports in August totaled $11.27 billion and imports at $10.46 billion, putting the monthly balance at a surplus of $813 million. USDA on October 7 reported the figures as exports at $10.46 billion against imports of $11.27 billion for a trade deficit of $813 million. The adjustment by USDA means the U.S. has only registered a trade deficit in agriculture three months of Fiscal Year (FY) 2019 and would indicate a deficit for the entire FY is now far less likely. While it appeared unlikely that the U.S. would register a trade deficit in agriculture for all of FY 2019, that is even more the case now in light of the updated figures.

| Rural Advocate News | Monday October 14, 2019 |


Top House Appropriator Lowey Announces She Will Not Run In 2020 House Appropriations Chair Nita Lowey, D-N.Y., the first woman to lead the panel, announced Thursday she will not seek reelection in 2020. That has set off a potential contest to replace her atop the panel that controls government purse strings. Rep. Rosa DeLauro, D-Conn., announced she will seek the top position, a move that would put a sharp critic of the current administration’s food safety and Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) in charge of the panel that decides on House versions of government spending. DeLauro also has pushed a means test and other restrictions on crop insurance to limit its use by large farms. But Rep. Marcy Kaptur, D-Ohio, is also mentioned as a possible contender and is the second-ranking Democrat on the panel – DeLauro is the third-ranking Democrat in terms of seniority. However, Democrats have not relied solely on seniority relative to full committee chair roles.

| Rural Advocate News | Friday October 11, 2019 |


USDA Releases Monthly Reports The monthly World Agriculture Supply and Demand Report, along with the monthly Crop Production Report, led to a drop in corn prices Thursday. The Department of Agriculture pegged corn ending stocks at 1.92 billion bushels, while the trade guess estimated stocks at 1.78 billion. That sent corn futures down 12-14 cents. Corn production is forecast at 13.7 billion bushels, down 20 million as a decline in harvested area more than offsets an increased yield forecast. The season-average corn price is raised 20 cents to $3.80 per bushel. Meanwhile, Soybean production is forecast at 3.6 billion bushels. USDA estimated soybean production at 3.55 billion bushels, while the trade guess was 3.58 billion. Soybean yield is projected at 46.9 bushels per acre, down one bushel from the September forecast. Harvested area is reduced slightly to 75.6 million acres. The U.S. season-average soybean price is forecast at $9.00 per bushel, up 50 cents reflecting smaller supplies. Finally, the outlook for wheat this month is for smaller supplies, reduced total use, and rising ending stocks. The season-average farm price is lowered $0.10 per bushel to $4.70. ************************************************************************************* EPA Employees Seek Democrat Oversight Investigation Questioning Political Retaliations Nearly 600 former employees of the Environmental Protection Agency seek an investigation into alleged political retaliations. A letter by employees announced Thursday asks the House Oversight Committee to investigate President Donald Trump’s alleged abuse of EPA authority. The group cites Trump threatening California with enforcement actions while ignoring worse violations in other states. At least six states have had more major pollution sources in significant noncompliance with environmental laws over the last three years than California. The letter was a partial response to President Trump's September 19 claim that homeless people are responsible for "tremendous" amounts of ocean pollution in California and EPA's September 26 follow-up letter threatening enforcement action. The 593 former EPA officials objected to a September 24 letter from Wheeler to California Governor Gavin Newsom that threatened to withhold federal highway funds based on California’s failure to meet air quality standards. That letter was sent shortly after the Trump EPA announced it would undermine California’s efforts to reduce air pollution by blocking the state’s limits on greenhouse gas emissions from vehicles. ************************************************************************************* Southeastern U.S. Facing Flash Drought An unprecedented early blizzard in the Northern U.S., along with the second-highest runoff year on record in the Missouri River basin, combine now with a flash drought in the Southeastern United States. The latest Drought Monitor shows conditions continue to dry out, coinciding with record warmth, with deteriorations widespread and rapidly occurring in the region. Florida and Alabama had their third warmest September on record, South Carolina their fourth and Georgia their fifth. Alabama, Georgia and Florida all had their driest September on record. Mississippi had their driest September on record and Tennessee had their second driest, while Texas and Louisiana had their warmest Septembers. And, Oklahoma, Arkansas, and Mississippi had their second warmest. Meanwhile, the High Plains and Midwest regions will likely see season-ending freeze events, as a blizzard moves across the region with some areas expecting up to a foot of snow. And, the Missouri River remains flooded by what could become a record runoff season. Flooding started in March following the bomb-cyclone winter storm. ************************************************************************************* Cattlemen Participate in White House Event Spotlighting Federal Overreach Two members of the National Cattlemen's Beef Association joined President Trump earlier this week during an event focused on curbing government overreach. The NCBA members attended a White House signing ceremony of executive orders to provide more clarity and transparency to “complicated federal regulatory processes.” Kevin Lunny of California attended, saying afterward, "We applaud the administration for finally giving ranching families a voice, and look forward to working with the President to find solutions to these challenges.” Lunny was the owner of the Drakes Bay Oyster Company, which was forced to close in 2015 after a years-long battle with the National Park Service, Interior Department, and environmental groups that attracted national attention and outrage. NCBA Vice President of Government Affairs Ethan Lane commented, "Washington needs to help our producers succeed and continue to help feed the world - not actively try to put them out of business." Lane says eth Trump administration "understands that," saying President Trump has proven his commitment to regulatory relief and reform for agricultural producers ************************************************************************************* California to End Chlorpyrifos Sales The California Environmental Protection Agency announced Thursday that virtually all use of the chlorpyrifos (clo-PEER-uh-foss) in California will end next year. The announcement follows an agreement between the Department of Pesticide Regulation and pesticide manufacturers to withdraw their products. Regulators cite evidence that chlorpyrifos is associated with serious health effects in children. The agreement with Dow AgroSciences and other companies means that use of chlorpyrifos will end sooner than anticipated. Under the settlement, the companies agreed that All sales of chlorpyrifos products to growers in California will end on February 6, 2020. Growers will no longer be allowed to possess or use chlorpyrifos products in California after December 31, 2020. Until then, all uses must comply with existing restrictions, including a ban on aerial spraying, quarter-mile buffer zones and limiting use to crop-pest combinations that lack alternatives. Chlorpyrifos is used to control pests on a variety of crops, including alfalfa, almonds, citrus, cotton, grapes and walnuts. It has declined in use over the past decade as California growers have shifted to alternatives. ************************************************************************************ National Cattlemen’s Foundations Accepting Scholarship Applications The National Cattlemen’s Foundation is now accepting applications for 2020-2021 beef industry scholarships sponsored by CME Group. Announced this week, the ten scholarships of $1,500 each will be awarded to students pursuing careers in the beef industry. The CME Beef Industry Scholarship was first introduced 30 years ago in 1989. Today, the scholarship recognizes and encourages students who will each play an important role in the future of food production in America. Students studying education, communication, production, research or other areas related to the beef industry should consider applying for the scholarship. Tim Andriesen of CME Group says the scholarships "strengthen the education of tomorrow's industry leaders on risk management in the beef industry." Online applications should be submitted by November 8, 2019, at midnight Central Time. Applicants must be a graduating high school senior or full-time undergraduate student enrolled at a two- or four-year college. Application requirements and other information are available online at nationalcattlemensfoundation.org.

| Rural Advocate News | Friday October 11, 2019 |


Washington Insider: Tougher Fed Scrutiny for Future Rate Cuts Discussed There is a great deal of tea-leaf scanning these days regarding possible future Fed moves. Bloomberg says that Fed officials in September began debating "how far their current interest-rate cutting campaign should extend, even as they agreed to lower rates in response to growing risks to the U.S. economy." Bloomberg noted that participants at the September Open Market meeting generally judged that downside risks to the outlook for economic activity "had increased somewhat since their July meeting, particularly those stemming from trade policy uncertainty and conditions abroad." The minutes of the Sept. Federal Open Market Committee meeting were released Wednesday. In discussing policy beyond the September session, however, several committee officials made a push for the FOMC's statement to signal the limits future policy easing. "A possible base case for the Oct. 30 meeting is that the Fed will cut rates another 25 basis points, but then add language to the statement to signal that the bar for additional cuts is getting higher," Roberto Perli, a partner at Cornerstone Macro LLC in Washington, wrote in a note to clients. "That would also be a way to address the obvious divisions inside the committee about the desirability and extent of future rate cuts." Michael Feroli, chief U.S. economist at JPMorgan Chase & Co. in New York, was more skeptical that Fed officials might soon put down such a marker. "Between October and December you're going to have two jobs reports, some Brexit developments -- a lot of things can happen," he said. "I don't know that a day after October they want to put things on a pre-set course." At their September meeting, the FOMC lowered rates by a quarter percentage point for the second time this year -- a move Chairman Powell described as providing insurance against risks threatening the economic outlook. However, projections on the best future path for rates, also released after that meeting, showed divisions among policy makers. Five thought it was a mistake to cut rates, five agreed with the reduction and thought that would be enough this year, and seven favored another decrease by December. The minutes again reflected concern over slowing global growth and uncertainty created by the administration's trade disputes. "Several participants mentioned that uncertainties in the business outlook and sustained weak investment could eventually lead to slower hiring, which, in turn, could damp the growth of income and consumption," the record of the gathering said. Officials agreed consumer spending was increasing at a strong pace and household spending was likely to hold up, while several said the housing sector was starting to rebound as mortgage rates fell. Nonetheless, several Fed officials noted that statistical indicators pointing to the probability of a recession over the medium term had increased notably in recent months -- and Bloomberg added that economic data released since the meeting has been soft. Closely watched reports on manufacturing, services and payrolls all came in weaker than expected, though hiring was still seen as sufficient to push the U.S. jobless rate down to a half-century low of 3.5%. In addition, Chairman Powell sounded non-committal Tuesday on the need for another cut in October, describing the economic outlook as "favorable" but threatened by risks connected to trade and slowing global growth. "We will act as appropriate to support continued growth, a strong job market, and inflation moving back to our symmetric 2% objective," he said. Earlier this week, Powell stressed that the Fed increase in purchases was to solve "technical issues" and was not designed to stimulate the economy. The New York Times said in its review of the minutes, that the Fed has two main tasks: promoting maximum employment and maintaining stable inflation, which it defines as 2 percent annual price gains. However, it also noted that the Fed has become increasingly divided over how to achieve those objectives because the economy's prospects have been clouded by trade and other economic uncertainties even as consumer spending and job growth have held up. Still, the Times report said, "despite the mounting risks, a few Fed officials felt that markets were expecting too many Fed interest rate cuts, "and that it might become necessary for the committee to seek a better alignment." The debates over the economy and trade have become the most intense of recent years and likely will continue to be both contentious and persistent and should be watched closely by producers as they continue to intensify, Washington Insider believes.

| Rural Advocate News | Friday October 11, 2019 |


AFL-CIO'S Trumka says USMCA would be defeated in pre-Thanksgiving vote If a House vote on the U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA) is taken before Thanksgiving, AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka told the Washington Post in an interview that it would be a "colossal mistake" and "the agreement would be defeated." However, Trumka did not rule out his organization backing the deal, provided that labor enforcement issues are addressed. "If they can't enforce their own laws, we have a real problem," he said. "No agreement will be able to work." Should those items be addressed, Trumka said, "we can get to yes. If we can't get them fixed, we can't get to yes.".

| Rural Advocate News | Friday October 11, 2019 |


Commerce's Ross: US Focus With China Is On Getting Them To Follow World Trade Rules The U.S. is "not opposed to trade with China," Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross said at an American Chamber of Commerce meeting in Australia. But the U.S. is seeking to address "fundamental issues in our trade relationship with China, including forced technology transfers, cyber intrusions, the stealing of [intellectual property] and industrial subsidies to state-owned enterprises." He blamed China for causing "massive dislocations due to overcapacity and dumping excess production into global markets." Getting China to "abide by the global rules of trade, every nation in the world will benefit - including China. China is, after all, a real powerhouse. It is growing rapidly. And with its success comes responsibility - its responsibility to act as a member of the global community." China has not changed its behavior since joining the WTO, Ross stated. "In fact, its practices have become more protectionist than before," he said. In other remarks in Australia, Ross noted that the U.S. does not like to use tariffs. "In fact we would prefer not to use them, but after years of discussions and no action, tariffs are finally forcing China to pay attention to our concerns," Ross said, according to Reuters.

| Rural Advocate News | Friday October 11, 2019 |


Friday Watch List Markets Subfreezing temperatures are a new threat in the northwestern Corn Belt, possibly extending into central areas that will be closely watched through the weekend. A second day of U.S.-China trade talks is scheduled for Friday if both sides are still willing and an index of U.S. consumer sentiment is due out at 9 a.m. CDT. Weather Heavy snow and blizzard conditions are in store for the far Northern Plains Friday, with moderate to locally heavy rain featured from the northern Midwest to the Gulf Coast. Freeze warnings are now in effect from the Texas Panhandle to the northern Great Lakes for season-ending cold this weekend.

| Rural Advocate News | Thursday October 10, 2019 |


China Talks in DC Underway Trade talks between the U.S. and China are underway, even as the U.S. puts more pressure on China, and some say the talks may be cut short. U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo announced visa restrictions on certain Chinese officials this week, and the U.S. is expected to impose more tariffs on Chinese goods next week. The U.S. also recently blacklisted 28 Chinese tech companies, prohibiting them from exporting goods to the United States. A spokesperson for China’s Foreign Affairs Ministry says China “hopes the U.S. will meet China halfway” on the talks. Politico reports that China may cut the talks short by a day, and leave Friday, adding both sides appear to be working towards a mini trade deal. Financial Times reports China is offering to buy more U.S. agriculture products in a “goodwill” move. However, many speculate there will be little breakthrough in the talks, other than a possible delay in the U.S. tariffs planned to go into effect next week. ************************************************************************************* Voter Poll Shows Strong Support for RFS, Biodiesel Use An annual poll of registered voters by the National Biodiesel Board shows a candidate's support for policies to promote clean energy, including biodiesel and renewable diesel use, can influence votes. NBB CEO Donnell Rehagen stated, "Voters are consistent year-to-year in saying they support political candidates who champion federal policies to encourage development and use of cleaner fuels.” Among the respondents, nearly three-quarters, 73 percent, had previously heard some information about biodiesel. More than half, 57 percent, of all respondents agreed that federal policy should encourage use of biodiesel and renewable diesel. When asked if federal policy should support petroleum, 45 percent said "no," while only 34 percent said "yes." Nearly four of every five respondents expressed support for existing federal programs that encourage increased production and use of advanced biofuels, and 78 percent of respondents support the federal tax incentive for biodiesel. Finally, 79 percent of those surveyed said they support the Renewable Fuel Standard, and would encourage local communities and governments to promote use of biodiesel. ************************************************************************************* Share of Highly Leveraged Farms Forecast to Increase The number of farm businesses that are highly leveraged has fallen since 2015, but is forecasted to increase slightly in 2019. Farm businesses accounted for more than 94 percent of U.S. farm sector production in 2017. That year, farm businesses held 90 percent of all farm assets and 96 percent of farm debt. However, the Department of Agriculture forecasts 4.3 percent of crop farm businesses to be very highly leveraged, the highest share since 2002. USDA Economic Research Service defines farm businesses as operations where farming is reported as the operator’s primary occupation or that have at least $350,000 in annual sales. Farm businesses specializing in crops tend to have higher shares of both highly and very highly leveraged operations than farm businesses specializing in livestock and animal products. Debt-to-asset ratios can indicate a farm’s risk exposure and ability to overcome adverse financial events. USDA says Lending institutions consider debt to asset ratios when evaluating credit worthiness of farms, adding highly leveraged farm businesses may have difficulty securing a loan. ************************************************************************************* Butter Institute: Congress Must Compel FDA to Uphold Butter Law The American Butter Institute wants Congress to take action in making the Food and Drug Administration enforce laws that define butter as a dairy product. The organization sent letters to the leaders of the House Committee on Energy and Commerce and the Senate Committee on Health, urging them to compel FDA to enforce federal law against plant-based imposters that illegally misuse the term "butter" as a marketing trick. Butter's definition has been settled law for more than a century, covered by legislation dating to 1886. Imitators made from vegetable oils have been able to use terms such as "margarine" and "spread," ensuring a transparent marketplace. However, as butter's popularity has grown in recent years, per-capita U.S. consumption last year reached its highest since 1968, the organization says marketing departments at brands such as Country Crock have been breaking the law by calling their products "plant-based butter." The organization also supports the National Milk Producers Federation's citizen seeking to address dairy imitators using dairy names. ************************************************************************************* Study Shows Limited Broadband Access in Rural America A new study commissioned by the United Soybean Board reveals the lack of access to broadband in rural areas takes a significant toll on farmers and the economy. The study found 60 percent of U.S. farmers say they do not have enough connectivity to run their businesses. USB initiated the rural broadband study to better understand how and why farmers currently access the internet, and the implications that access. Data from the United States Department of Agriculture Economic Research Service indicates that farming contributes to nearly $133 billion of our country’s gross domestic product. Based on USB’s rural broadband survey, the lack of connectivity negatively impacts farmers responsible for $80 billion of gross domestic product. The survey also found 78 percent of farmers do not have a choice in internet service providers, and 60 percent of farmers say their service is too slow, and often rely on cell signals. Meanwhile, 40 percent of farmers say they have fixed internet connections, while others rely on satellite connections.

| Rural Advocate News | Thursday October 10, 2019 |


Washington Insider: Trade Deal Still Possible Well, there are more rumors than usual circling Washington this week -- talk of a "new kind of recession, driven by trade fights" is one. Also, there is talk that China is still open to a partial deal with the U.S. The idea is that Beijing is increasingly focused on "limiting the damage" to the world's second-largest economy. However, Bloomberg noted that as negotiators head to Washington there is little optimism about a broad agreement that would end the current war "for good," the report said. As a result, the group is focusing on the likelihood that China would accept a "significant" proposal as long as no more tariffs are imposed by the U.S., including two rounds of higher duties set to take effect this month and in December. In return, Beijing might offer "non-core concessions" like purchases of agricultural products without giving in on major sticking points. No further details were offered, the administration said. Even so, equities markets responded positively to the report and the offshore yuan extended recent gains. Separately, as noted above, the Financial Times reported that China is offering to increase purchase of American soybeans to 30 million tons annually from 20 million presently. The latest round of negotiations comes just days after the White House announced the blacklisting of Chinese technology firms over alleged roles in oppression in the far west region of Xinjiang, as well as visa bans on officials linked to the mass detention of Muslims. In addition, there is a dust-up between China and the National Basketball Association, triggered by a tweet backing Hong Kong's protesters. Many observers see this as an indication of a "widening gap between the countries," Bloomberg thinks. "I think there might be big breakthrough in the coming trade talks as both sides have expressed good gestures and positive signals," Huo Jianguo, a former Chinese commerce ministry official who is now vice chairman of the China Society for World Trade Organization Studies said. "The recent blacklist and sanctions from the U.S. are just another usual tactic to showcase that it has multiple tools in the trade negotiations in line with president Trump's maximum pressure policy. It is hardly surprising to us and we shouldn't take it too seriously," he said. President Xi Jinping's government is under pressure to stem the broadening conflict as the trade war adds to the forces slowing China's economy. At the same time, China has resisted changes to its own industrial and economic policies that could potentially weaken the Communist Party's grip on that economy. Talks have failed to make serious headway since negotiations collapsed in early May. Since then, China has ramped up its nationalist rhetoric as the U.S. has targeted national champions like Huawei Technologies Co. "The rising nationalism sentiment at home is creating hurdles for President Xi to make concessions in the upcoming trade talks especially in light of the NBA firestorm and Xinjiang sanctions," said Suisheng Zhao, executive director of the Center for China-U.S. Cooperation at the University of Denver's Graduate School of International Studies. "Even if China is willing to make some compromise, that space is limited." In addition, on Tuesday Jerome Powell, chairman of the U.S. Federal Reserve, said "my colleagues and I will soon announce measures to add to the supply of reserves over time." Powell was speaking at the National Association of Business Economics meeting in Denver, Colorado. However, he emphasized that "This is not Quantitative Easing," the Washington Post reported. The Fed chair did not specify the size of the new asset purchase program, but said it would not be a resurrection of what was done after the recession 10 years ago. "I want to emphasize that growth of our balance sheet for reserve management purposes should in no way be confused with the large-scale asset purchase programs that we deployed after the financial crisis," Powell said. The Tuesday announcement was a widely anticipated move. Its final details are expected at the Fed's next meeting and press conference on October 30. Powell left the door open to additional rate cuts to protect the U.S. economy from weak growth abroad and the administration's trade war, but he did not promise lower rates. Wall Street is pricing in nearly an 85 percent chance of a rate cut in October, the Post reported. It all makes for many, many economic and trade uncertainties. The Fed seems fully poised to act — and any sign of life in the upcoming talks will be welcomed widely, it seems. The key unknown is whether both negotiators are actually willing to make the necessary concessions to move toward a deal — a process producers should watch closely as it unfolds, Washington Insider believes.

| Rural Advocate News | Thursday October 10, 2019 |


Senators call for investigation of JBS SA An investigation of Brazilian meat packer JBS SA by the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States (CFIUS) is being called for by two members of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. Listing off several acquisitions that JBS has made of U.S. meatpackers and food companies, Sens. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., and Bob Menendez, D-N.J., said in a letter to Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin that JBS "engaged in bribery of public officials as a methodology to obtain funds that it then used for such acquisitions." The two argued the actions of JBS "have implications for our national security and the security of the American food system." The letter also noted the fines and admissions by JBS officials of bribery are not the only concern point as the company is linked to Venezuela, including the Venezuelan Corporation of Foreign Trade (CORPOVEX) which has been cited for its involvement in "public corruption." The linkage to the government of Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro and admissions that JBS used criminal conduct to secure loans used to finance U.S. investments are enough to warrant a review by CFIUS, the lawmakers said.

| Rural Advocate News | Thursday October 10, 2019 |


Report Indicates China to Offer to Boost At Least Soybean Buys China will propose to increase purchases of U.S. ag goods in a bid to stave off tariff hikes between the two countries, according to the Financial Times. The proposal includes an offer to increase its annual soybean purchases from the U.S. to 30 million tonnes from a current 20 million tonnes. China would also make "a raft of changes to non-tariff barriers" that have been a frustration point with USDA. The article quoted a source as saying China has "fundamentally agreed to all of the USDA's demands on beef, pork and lamb." The source indicated China has agreed to make around 60 internal changes on their import process. Chinese Vice Premier Liu He will be in Washington for talks with U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer and Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin Thursday with the report saying that there would be a meeting Friday with President Donald Trump "if the discussions go well." The paper said the trip will not be an "empty visit" as the Chinese are "ready to de-escalate."

| Rural Advocate News | Thursday October 10, 2019 |


Thursday Watch List Markets Early on Thursday will be weekly jobless claims and consumer price index. DTN will be watching weather, with a major storm set to hit the northern Plains, and more importantly USDA's October WASDE report and any media reports from the U.S.-China trade talks in Washington. Weather Thursday features a powerful snowstorm in the Northern Plains and moderate to heavy rain in the central Plains and western Midwest. Harvest disruption, crop damage, livestock stress, and hazardous travel and transport will occur. Record snowfall of more than three feet is possible in the Northern Plains. In addition, hard freeze temperatures will cover most of the Plains and western Midwest by the weekend.

| Rural Advocate News | Wednesday October 9, 2019 |


VP Pence Calls on Congress to Pass USMCA Vice President Mike Pence spent time early this week promoting the U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement while calling on Congress to pass the trade deal. Pence penned an editorial in the Arizona Daily Star promoting the trade agreement. The Vice President also toured a Tyson Foods facility in Tennessee. Meanwhile, in a White House statement, Pence says USMCA will add more than $68 billion to the U.S. economy and create another 176,000 American jobs. That includes nearly 50,000 good manufacturing jobs. Pence says, “to keep the momentum going, Congress must pass a trade deal that President Trump negotiated,” with Mexico and Canada. The House Democrats working group spent time in Mexico at the start of the week, focusing on enforcement of labor provisions included in the agreement. Democrats in the House are negotiating with U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer to reach a deal they can approve. Mexico ratified the agreement this summer, and Canada is expected to ratify the agreement following its federal election later this month. ************************************************************************************* Unions File Lawsuit Against USDA Slaughter Modernization Rule Food worker unions announced a lawsuit against the Department of Agriculture this week over the new swine slaughter modernization rule. The rule eliminates the line speed limits in pork slaughter facilities. United Food and Commercial Workers, along with other unions, filed a federal lawsuit seeking to stop the rule. A spokesperson says increasing pork plant line speeds “is not only a reckless giveaway to giant corporations, it will put thousands of workers in harm’s way.” The unions also say, “USDA admitted in its rule that it simply ignored the mounds of evidence that showed its actions will harm workers.” The lawsuit alleges that the new rule violates the Administrative Procedure Act because it is not backed by “reasoned decision-making.” The groups say that even at current line speeds, swine slaughter and processing workers face many job risks that can lead to severe injury, illness and death, adding there “is no evidence that line speed increases can be done in a manner that ensures food and worker safety.” ************************************************************************************* R-CALF Seeks to Stop RFID Ear Tag Mandate A lawsuit by R-CALF USA seeks to block the Department of Agriculture’s mandate of radio frequency identification, or RFID, ear tags for all animals required to have official identification. R-CALF and other groups filed the lawsuit last week seeking an injunction against Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue and Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service Administrator Kevin Shae, who together issued the RFID mandate in April of this year. Beginning January 1, 2023, USDA says all cattle and bison that are required to have official identification under current regulations must have official RFID ear tags. The lawsuit alleges that USDA’s mandate, along with the requirement that they obtain a premises identification number, and the elimination of all other animal identification options currently available to U.S. cattle producers, violate current traceability regulations. R-CALF USA CEO Bill Bullard says the move by USDA shows “USDA is catering to special interests,” adding “the agency wants to gift RFID ear tag manufactures even more profits.” ************************************************************************************* NPB: Prioritize Flu Vaccinations to Protect People and Pigs The National Pork Board is reminding producers to add flu vaccinations to their fall priority list. Pork producers are working through the on-farm tasks ahead of winter, including a focus on ventilation and rodent control. However, the Pork Checkoff says farm managers should also prioritize flu vaccinations for everyone working on the farm. Heather Fowler, DVM, director of producer and public health for the Pork Checkoff, says vaccinating farm employees “is the best thing producers can do to protect their families, co-workers and pigs from the flu.” A seasonal flu vaccination is a public health recommendation and part of the One Health approach to protect people, pigs and the global environment. Equally important, Fowler says farms need to have sick-leave policies in place that encourage workers to stay home if they are suffering from flu-like respiratory symptoms. Find more tips and recommendations to how to best protect your animals and employees from the flu at www.pork.org. ************************************************************************************* AFBF Opens Convention Registration The American Farm Bureau Federation Tuesday announced the opening of online registration for its 2020 annual meeting. AFBF will host the 101st Annual Convention & Trade Show, January 17-22, 2020, in Austin, Texas. Attendees will learn about the policies and perspectives affecting their farms, ranches or agribusinesses and gain deep insight into current trends impacting food production. With a focus on AFBF’s theme for the year, 2020 Vision: Sustaining America’s Agriculture, the convention will bring thousands of farmers and ranchers from around the country together to hear from powerful speakers on subjects ranging from trade, broadband and the farm economy to business development, consumer engagement and technology. AFBF President Zippy Duvall notes agriculture is at a crossroads, adding “it has never been more important for farmers and ranchers to have the latest information about the challenges and opportunities we face.” Duvall says the convention is “unique in its ability to inform, engage and unite farmers and ranchers.” Find more information and registration details at www.fb.org. ************************************************************************************ John Deere Collectors 2020 Conference Announced Organizers recently announced the 11th Gathering of the Green Conference in Davenport, Iowa. The event, planned for March 18-21, 2020, is a conference for John Deer enthusiast and collectors. Organizers say the conference site at the RiverCenter in downtown Davenport, Iowa, will transform into a County Fair atmosphere with elaborate displays that focus on the 2020 theme, "It's Fair Time.” Gathering of the Green board member Ken Reese says it’s also important because county fairs “were an important place for Deere and John Deere Dealers to exhibit and market their latest equipment in the 1930-1970's." The Gathering of the Green offers more than 60 workshops for attendees and typically includes a collection of old John Deere tractors and implements, along with collectible items. Organizers of the event are all volunteers who are members of one of four tractor clubs in the Quad Cities region. Conference registration is now open. Conference details are available on the Gathering of the Green's website at www.gatheringofthegreen.com.

| Rural Advocate News | Wednesday October 9, 2019 |


Washington Insider: New Dimension to Trade Fight Bloomberg is reporting this week that the Trump administration has placed eight of China’s technology giants on a blacklist over alleged human rights violations against Muslim minorities—and that China says that it may retaliate. Asked Tuesday about Chinese reactions, foreign ministry spokesman Geng Shuang told reporters “stay tuned.” He also denied that the government abused human rights in the far west region of Xinjiang. “We urge the U.S. side to immediately correct its mistake, withdraw the relevant decision and stop interfering in China’s internal affairs,” Geng said. “China will continue to take firm and forceful measures to resolutely safeguard national sovereignty, security and development interests.” The administration’s move, which was announced after U.S. markets closed, came on the same day negotiators from the two sides began working-level preparations for high-level talks set for Thursday in Washington. A U.S. Commerce Department spokesman said the “action is unrelated to the trade negotiations,” and China confirmed Vice Premier Liu He would lead the delegation as planned. Bloomberg reported that U.S. equity-index futures fell, reversing an earlier gain, while European stocks slipped to snap a two-day advance. U.S. futures fell after China said it strongly opposed the “blacklist” decision. Equity benchmarks across Asia had climbed earlier as trading showed little concern about ongoing unrest in Hong Kong. The blacklist, first reported by Reuters, takes the president’s economic war against China “in a new direction,” marking the first time the administration has cited human rights as a reason for action, Bloomberg said. Past moves to blacklist companies such as Huawei Technologies Co. have been based on national security. Companies on the blacklist include two video surveillance companies – Hangzhou Hikvision Digital Technology Co. and Zhejiang Dahua Technology Co. – that by some accounts control as much as a third of the global market for video surveillance and have cameras all over the world. Also targeted were SenseTime Group Ltd. – the world’s most valuable artificial intelligence startup – and fellow AI giant Megvii Technology Ltd., which is said to be aiming to raise up to $1 billion in a Hong Kong initial public offering. Backed by Chinese e-commerce giant Alibaba Group Holding Ltd., the pair are at the forefront of China’s ambition to dominate AI in coming years. Entities on the list are prohibited from doing business with American companies without a government license, although in the past, some U.S. operations have maintained relationships with banned companies through international subsidiaries, Bloomberg said. Hikvision and Dahua were suspended from trading Tuesday. “Specifically, these entities have been implicated in human rights violations and abuses in the implementation of China’s campaign of repression, mass arbitrary detention, and high-technology surveillance against Uighurs, Kazakhs, and other members of Muslim minority groups” in Xinjiang, the U.S. Commerce Department said on Monday. The foreign ministry’s Geng accused the U.S. of having “sinister intentions.” “The measures taken by China to eliminate extremism from the roots are fully in line with Chinese law and international practice,” he said. “Hikvision strongly opposes today’s decision by the U.S. government. It will hamper efforts by global companies to improve human rights around the world,” the company said. Megvii said the U.S. had “no grounds” to put it on the list, and noted that Human Rights Watch had corrected a report that implicated the company. It added that it hadn’t earned revenue from Xinjiang in the first part of the year and the impact on its business from the designation was minimal. The blacklist comes as the administration faces growing pressure at home to support pro-democracy protests in the Chinese-controlled territory of Hong Kong. The administration’s move targets Chinese surveillance companies involved in the crackdown in Xinjiang, where as many as a million Uighur Muslims have been placed in mass detention camps, prompting global criticism. The White House in May had readied the sanctions package for surveillance technology companies accused of human rights violations but decided to hold back because of the trade negotiations. In June, the administration again considered the sanctions and had planned to roll them out with a human rights speech by Vice President Mike Pence on the anniversary of the Tiananmen Square massacre, Bloomberg reported. The speech was postponed indefinitely, so that Trump could secure a meeting with Chinese leader Xi Jinping in Osaka, Japan. Also to be placed on the Commerce Department’s “entity list” are the Xinjiang region’s public security bureau and 18 other municipal and county public security bureaus as well as the province’s police college. So, we will see. The move against China’s surveillance companies is likely to generate strong support some quarters of the U.S., observers note, but if it also blows up this week’s trade talks, it may also prove to be a high political hurdle for U.S. groups already facing sharp reductions in important overseas markets, including China, Washington Insider believes.

| Rural Advocate News | Wednesday October 9, 2019 |


Trump Again Dashes Talk of Partial Trade Deal with China President Donald Trump at the White House Monday said that was not what the U.S. was looking for in the talks. “I think it’s not what we prefer at all,” he noted. “They are starting to buy a lot of our agricultural products. You see that. They’re coming in very strong on pork.” Trump said he did not know if the ag purchases would be considered a “partial” agreement. “My inclination is to get a big deal. We have come this far. But I think that we will just have to see what happens. I would much prefer a big deal. And I think that’s what we are shooting for.” But Trump also injected his brand of humor into the situation, noting both sides have top people in the negotiations. “If I do not think they are doing a good job, I will fire them and I’ll go over and take their place.” The situation remains uncertain on the prospects for a deal and some observers remain downbeat on whether the U.S. and China can bridge their differences and come to terms on an overall package.

| Rural Advocate News | Wednesday October 9, 2019 |


Wheeler Sheds More Light on Coming Details of Biofuel Plan In an interview with the Red River Farm Network on Tuesday, EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler offered some additional explanation on what the Friday announcement means. The action, he explained, strikes a balance so that EPA can continue offer the small refinery exemptions (SREs). “We will estimate what that number will be and add it to the RFS for next year so that after the small refineries are exempted, the final number will still end up being 15 billion gallons.” For corn farmers, he noted, that means there will be a “15-billion gallon certainty” and also means that the SREs will be preserved for “those refineries that truly are in jeopardy of going out of business because of the RFS.” EPA will come out with the supplemental plan for the 2020 biofuel and 2021 biodiesel levels in the “next week or so,” Wheeler said, with a 30-day comment period. Asked if the action is to account for the SREs that have been granted so far, Wheeler stressed, “It is not retroactive. It is going forward.” He noted EPA has already proposed the Renewable Volume Obligations (RVOs) for 2020 biofuel. “We will go out for a supplemental proposal in the next few days and increase that for 2020, so that in 2020, the number will be set somewhere above 15 billion gallons knowing that we will be providing some small refinery relief so that we net out at 15 billion gallons.” That way the 15 billion gallons of conventional ethanol that is in statute will be met “so we provide that certainty so that corn farmers will be able to produce up to 15 billion gallons of ethanol.”

| Rural Advocate News | Wednesday October 9, 2019 |


Wednesday Watch List Markets Here in early October, a winter storm is developing in the northwestern U.S. Plains and will catch many row crops not ready. Any comments from U.S. or Chinese trade officials are also getting attention ahead of Thursday's new round of talks. At 9:30 a.m. CDT, the U.S. Energy Department releases its weekly energy inventories, including ethanol. Minutes from the latest Fed meeting will be posted at 1 p.m. CDT. Weather An intense winter storm system will bring snow, strong winds and season-ending cold to the Northern Plains Wednesday. Ahead of the storm, rain will develop in the Southern Plains. Temperatures in advance of the storm system will be mild. Winter storm and freeze bulletins cover most of the Plains through Thursday.

| Rural Advocate News | Tuesday October 8, 2019 |


House Democrats in Mexico for USMCA Considerations House Democrats are wrapping up a two-day trip to Mexico to discuss the U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement. Led by House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Richard Neal, the visit comes as the Democratic Working Group on NAFTA 2.0 “continues to engage in productive discussions with the U.S. Trade Representative regarding important improvements to the agreement,” according to Neal. Representative Neal also leads the working group on USMCA. The lawmakers are meeting with representatives from the Mexican Government as well as local workers, focusing on enforcement of the agreement regarding labor standards in Mexico. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi last week maintained “we are making progress” on reaching an agreement to pass the trade deal. The group forwarded a counterproposal to the White House just over a week ago. Lawmakers Joining Neil on the trip include Representatives Bill Pascrell of New Jersey, Dan Kildee of Michigan, Jimmy Panetta of Jimmy Gomez of California. The group maintains a commitment to reaching an agreement with the White House to pass the trade agreement. ************************************************************************************* Meat Institute Challenging California Prop 12 The North American Meat Institute Friday filed a lawsuit challenging the constitutionality of California’s Proposition 12, The Farm Animal Confinement Initiative. The Meat Institute opposes the law because the organization claims the law will "hurt the nation's food value chain by significantly increasing costs for producers and consumers." The lawsuit, filed in the United States District Court for the Central District of California, asks the court to halt implementation of the law by granting a preliminary injunction. The Meat Institute alleges that Prop 12 violates the commerce clause and the federal structure of the United States Constitution. The Constitution prohibits states from discriminating against interstate and foreign commerce, regulating commerce outside of their borders or imposing undue burdens on interstate and foreign commerce. Meat Institute President and CEO Julie Anna Potts says if the law is allowed to stand, “California will dictate farming practices across the nation.” Enacted in November 2018, Prop 12 imposes space requirements regarding breeding pigs and veal calves within California, and obligating out of state producers to comply. ************************************************************************************* AFIA Awarded Funds to Conduct Market Assessment of Vietnam The American Feed Industry Association has received funding from the Department of Agriculture's Foreign Agricultural Service to conduct a market assessment in Vietnam. The goal and focus of the assessment will be to identify how to improve the availability and transparency of distribution channels. The effort will address sanitary and phytosanitary issues and other non-tariff barriers, thereby increasing prospects for U.S. trade and investment. Once the market assessment is completed, AFIA will work with USDA on implementing and addressing the recommendations from the assessment. AFIA, with the support from experienced, reputable consultants and in collaboration with FAS and existing resources in Vietnam, will implement the market assessment over the next six months. Vietnam is one of the fastest growing economies in Asia, maintaining an average six percent annual GDP growth over the past ten years. In recent years, Vietnam has also risen as a leading agricultural product importer. The key driver of the local feed industry has been the Vietnamese hog industry. ************************************************************************************* AEM: Manufacturers Welcome Biofuels Reallocation The Association of Equipment Manufacturers joins corn belt farm groups in applauding the Trump Administration for reallocating biofuel demand displaced by waivers. President Donald Trump’s plan to reallocate biofuels lost to small refinery waivers announced last week will reopen the rulemaking process to account for the volumes waivers displace. The National Corn Growers Association points out the latest round of waivers increased total waived biofuels demand to 4.04 billion gallons under the Trump Administration. In addition to the commitment to redistribute waived gallons, the Trump administration is also proposing to take further steps supported by farmers, including removing other barriers and supporting infrastructure to help grow demand for higher blends of ethanol. AEM says reallocating the ethanol gallons lost through small refinery waivers will directly benefit the 1.3 million employees in the equipment manufacturing industry. AEM President Dennis Slater says the organization is “grateful the President recognizes the importance of the RFS to farmers, equipment manufacturers and the entire agriculture community.” ************************************************************************************* NCBA Opens 2020 Cattle Industry Convention Registration The National Cattlemen's Beef Association recently opened registration and housing for the 2020 Cattle Industry Convention and NCBA Trade Show. NCBA encourages attendees register early, as convenient housing will fill quickly. The event, held in San Antonio, Texas February 5-7, 2020, includes annual meetings of NCBA, the Cattlemen's Beef Board, American National CattleWomen, CattleFax and the National Cattlemen's Foundation. U.S. astronaut and retired U.S. Navy Captain Scott Kelly will share his lessons from space during the Opening General Session, and other noted speakers will be on hand to inform, energize and motivate audiences. The convention will again be preceded by 27th annual Cattlemen's College, which is famous for sessions that can help generate high returns for cattle operations. NCBA President Jennifer Houston of Tennessee says the convention represents an important annual get-together for cattlemen and women from around the country, adding “there are valuable education, information, entertainment and engagement opportunities” at the event. To register and secure housing, visit www.beefusa.org. ************************************************************************************* USDA Invests $152 Million to Improve Broadband Service in 14 States The Department of Agriculture Monday announced $152 million in rural broadband development funding. The funds support developing and improving rural broadband service through 19 projects across 14 states. USDA rural development deputy secretary Donald LaVoy says the effort will expand access to essential health, educational, social and business opportunities. USDA is making the investments through the Community Connect Grant Program, the Telecommunications Infrastructure Loan Program and the Rural Broadband Access Loan and Loan Guarantee Program. USDA says investing in telecommunications infrastructure connects businesses to customers, farmers to markets, and students to a world of knowledge. As part of the investments, a $34 million loan will upgrade fiber connections in Kentucky, benefitting 5,300 customers. A $3 million loan will help enhance broadband in southwest Virginia, and another $850,000 loan will help develop a fiber network in Morton County, North Dakota. The funds are part of the Interagency Task Force on Agriculture and Rural Prosperity effort by President Donald Trump. A complete list of funded projects is available online at visit www.rd.usda.gov.

| Rural Advocate News | Tuesday October 8, 2019 |


Washington Insider: Declining Expectations for Trade Talks There was bearish trade news on Monday as Bloomberg, and others, report that Chinese officials are signaling that they are “increasingly reluctant to agree to a broad trade deal pursued by President Trump.” The reports came just ahead of negotiations this week that raised hopes of a potential truce. It seems that in recent meetings with U.S. visitors to Beijing, Chinese officials have emphasized that the range of topics they’re willing to discuss has narrowed considerably, Bloomberg said. Vice Premier Liu He, who will lead the Chinese contingent in the talks that begin Thursday, told visiting dignitaries he would bring an offer to Washington “that won’t include commitments on reforming Chinese industrial policy or the government subsidies that have been the target of longstanding U.S. complaints,” Bloomberg said. That development would appear to take one of the administration’s core demands off the table. In addition, it is “emblematic of what analysts see as China’s strengthening hand” as the Trump administration faces an impeachment crisis and a slowing economy blamed by businesses on the disruption caused by the president’s trade wars. Bloomberg said that the administration still denies that the impeachment inquiry is affecting trade talks. “Any attempt to portray anything different is an attempt to weaken the U.S. hand at the negotiating table,” they argue, and would be a “miscalculation” by the Chinese. Bloomberg observed that China is beset by its own escalating political crisis in Hong Kong and was drawn into the Washington political furor last week after President Trump called for a Chinese investigation into his Democratic rival, Joe Biden, and the former vice president’s son – moments after threatening another escalation in the trade fight. Still, the president insisted on Friday that there’s no linkage although his latest comments suggest why Chinese leaders, already frustrated with what they see as his impetuous conduct in the talks, may see room to take advantage. China’s leadership “are interpreting the impeachment discussion as a weakening of Trump’s position, or certainly a distraction,” said Jude Blanchette, an expert on China’s elite politics at the Center for Strategic and International Studies. Their calculation is that “Trump needs a win” and is willing to make compromises on substance as a result, he said. On Monday, the White House said the gathering “will look to build on the deputy-level talks of the past weeks. Topics of discussion will include forced technology transfer, intellectual property rights, services, non-tariff barriers, agriculture, and enforcement.” The President has said repeatedly he would entertain only an all-encompassing deal with China, and he remains firm in that view, Bloomberg said. “We’ve had good moments with China. We’ve had bad moments with China. Right now, we’re in a very important stage in terms of possibly making a deal,” the president told reporters on Friday. “But what we’re doing is we’re negotiating a very tough deal. If the deal is not going to be 100% for us, then we’re not going to make it.” However, Bloomberg reported that contacts that resumed over the summer after a breakdown in May have focused on how to resume negotiations and avoid further escalating the tariff fights that have unnerved financial markets. It also notes that recent discussions have centered more on a timeline for implementing a limited deal rather than the substance of provisions where the two sides are at odds. Administration officials view the agenda as having three-phases, the report said. It would involve large-scale purchases of U.S. agricultural and energy exports by China, implementing intellectual-property commitments China made in a draft agreement this year and, finally, a partial rollback of U.S. tariffs – elements already discussed earlier with the Chinese. Still, if China refuses to engage in any discussions on its industrial policy, those plans could be scuttled, Bloomberg said. In spite of the president’s earlier statement, Bloomberg argues that hopes have always been limited that China would agree to give up its economic model in a deal with the U.S. It also says that such ambitions likely scuttled earlier efforts to secure “a few substantive commitments from China to abandon the sort of industrial policies the administration and others have complained about,” Bloomberg said. That draft focused on securing more Chinese transparency on the extent of its subsidies and included a commitment “essentially to disavow Made in China 2025,” Xi Jinping’s plan for Chinese domination of key 21st century industries such as artificial intelligence, robotics and electric vehicles. China pushed back on those proposals even though they lacked a specific schedule for removing government subsidies. U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer declined to comment on the current state of negotiations but Bloomberg suggests that while he’s unlikely to accept any Chinese offer that doesn’t address industrial subsidies or policy, he may be willing to embrace “sequencing” a deal and an “early-harvest” agreement as long as broader talks continue. Still, observers also believe that the administration’s trade chief probably would need some kind of commitment resembling a concession on subsidies and industrial policy to sell the agreement at home. So, we will see. Both sides are under pressure, and some form of agreement seems possible. However, both tend to take “tough” positions as part of their public image. Clearly, the negotiations will be tense and contentious and should be watched closely as they proceed, Washington Insider believes.

| Rural Advocate News | Tuesday October 8, 2019 |


Questions Continue on Administration Biofuel Plan The package or reforms to U.S. biofuel policy announced Friday (October 4) continues as an attention point given the lack of some key details in that plan. EPA is expected to release the supplemental plan and open the comment period with a goal of still finalizing the 2020 biofuel and 2021 biodiesel levels by the November 30 statutory deadline. One focus will be on how EPA accounts for small refinery exemptions (SREs) as EPA officials stressed last week it would not be accounting for the waivers already granted. Biofuel interests will also want to see the specific increased levels for biofuel use in 2020. President Donald Trump will be in Minnesota on Thursday for a campaign-style rally and that could be the format for him to talk more about the effort given Minnesota being a prominent biofuel producer and a state that has taken several steps to encourage biofuels use. In Washington Monday, Trump said the deal will mean 16 billion gallons of corn ethanol would be used in 2020.

| Rural Advocate News | Tuesday October 8, 2019 |


Trade Talks Between US and China Underway in Washington Deputy-level talks between the U.S. and China got underway in Washington Monday and are expected to continue today. The talks will then shift to higher-level officials on Thursday and Friday. U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer and U.S. Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin will meet Thursday and Friday with Chinese Vice Premier Liu He. There have been both positive and negative signals emerging ahead of the talks. Monday, President Donald Trump insisted there was a good possibility for a trade deal with China, but he did not signal when that could take place. Trump administration officials and business leaders have discussed ways each side could make concessions to yield a mini deal, to delay the October 15 and December 15 tariffs or to jump start drawn-out negotiations, some sources and reports note.

| Rural Advocate News | Tuesday October 8, 2019 |


Tuesday Watch List Markets The U.S. Labor Department issues its index of producer prices at 7:30 a.m. CDT and that is the only official report on Tuesday. The weather forecast draws attention this week with a winter storm developing in the western Canadian Prairie. Any comments from trade officials also get noticed ahead of the resumption of U.S.-China trade talks on Thursday. Weather Dry, warm and windy conditions will cover all primary crop areas Tuesday ahead of an intense storm system for mid to late week.

| Rural Advocate News | Monday October 7, 2019 |


EPA, USDA Agree on RFS “Fix” Ag Secretary Sonny Perdue and Andrew Wheeler, Administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency, agreed on a plan to boost renewable fuel production and improve the Renewable Fuels Standard. Perdue says this agreement builds on the success of the year-round E15 rule. “This forward-looking agreement makes improvements to the RFS program that will better harness the production of our farmers and ensure America remains energy dominant,” Perdue says. Both agencies will take a series of steps to help boost biofuels. The EPA will propose and request public comment on expanding biofuel requirements beginning in 2020. EPA will seek comment on its actions to ensure that more than 15 billion gallons of conventional ethanol will be blended into the nation’s fuel supply beginning next year. They also will ensure that the volume obligation for biomass-based diesel will be met. EPA will also include accounting for relief expected to be provided for small refineries through RFS waivers. Building on year-round E15, EPA will initiate a rulemaking process to streamline labeling and remove other barriers to the sale of E15. EPA will also evaluate options for RIN market transparency and reform. USDA will look for opportunities for infrastructure projects to help facilitate higher biofuel blends. The administration will continue to work to address ethanol and biodiesel trade issues. ********************************************************************************************** Ag Groups Respond to Biofuel Announcement Growth Energy CEO Emily Skor was pleased with the White House announcement that President Trump will uphold the integrity of the Renewable Fuels Standard. “It’s been a long process,” she said, “but when the chips were down, the president delivered for farm families and biofuels producers.” The National Corn Growers Association says the announcement that the Environmental Protection Agency will reopen the rulemaking for the 2020 RFS volumes and propose to account for waivers in volume requirements allows the EPA to follow the law and restore integrity to the RFS. NCGA President Kevin Ross says the announcement, “Gets the RFS back on track.” The National Biodiesel Board says nine producers from across the country closed their doors or reduced operations and laid off more than 200 employees. The NBB says this announcement is the first step in reversing the loss of production and restoring those jobs. NBB Vice President of Federal Affairs Kurt Kovarik says, “The biodiesel industry relies on the RFS program to support continued growth and market development. While the proposal addresses the lost gallons from future RFS exemptions, it doesn’t provide for additional volumes of biomass-based diesel in 2021.” ********************************************************************************************** U.S. Trade Deficit Narrow with China The United States’ trade deficit with China is as small as it’s been in recent months. U.S. exports hit a five-month high, which Bloomberg says is a possible sign of goodwill from China as the two nations continue to try and resolve their trade war. According to data released late last week by the Commerce Department, the trade gap shrank to a seasonally adjusted $28.9 billion. Exports increased by $10 billion while imports dropped slightly to $38.9 billion. Even with the new numbers, imports and exports with China have declined significantly since the trade war began in 2018. China is now the third-largest U.S. trading partner this year, behind Mexico and Canada, after it was number one in 2018. So far this year, the U.S. merchandise deficit with China narrowed to a seasonally adjusted $238.4 billion over the first eight months of this year, compared to $270.1 billion through the same period in 2018. Since the end of August, the trade war has continued to escalate as additional duties went into effect on September 1. Others are set to rise or take effect on October 15 and December 15. Chinese officials are scheduled to visit Washington, D.C., for more trade talks this week. ********************************************************************************************** THC Testing Still a Challenge for Hemp Farmers The hype over hemp sparked a rush of enthusiasm from farmers looking to add it to their crop rotations after it was legalized in the 2018 Farm Bill. Stuck in a declining farm economy, Politico says hemp offers a new source of income for farmers who’ve been hit from all sides by a trade war with China, a stretched-out cycle of low commodity prices, as well as a series of natural disasters. The potential of an economic payday is calling a lot of farmers to try to grow the crop for the first time. However, legalizing hemp has been far from a smooth ride. Farmers have had a series of challenges as they continue to figure out the hemp process from growing to harvesting to selling the crop. One of the biggest complications involves the THC levels, which growers have to keep a close eye on to make sure it doesn’t climb above .3 percent. That’s the legal threshold that technically classifies the crop as marijuana, a cannabis cousin of hemp. Measuring THC is a patchwork procedure between states. USDA is under pressure to overwrite that patchwork with a national standard on THC testing. ********************************************************************************************** European Union Reacts to New Trump Tariffs European leaders and businesspeople slammed the Trump Administration’s plans to impose large tariffs on a wide array of European goods. The tariffs are going in place after the World Trade Organization ruled in favor of the U.S. in a longstanding dispute over subsidies given to Airbus, a European aircraft manufacturer. The administration is set to impose tariffs on roughly $7.5 billion in European goods, pending WTO approval. The Washington Post says goods facing a higher duty include Italian cheeses and one of Trump’s favorite targets, French wine. The tariffs will be as high as 25 percent on agricultural and industrial products and could take effect as soon as October 18. The director of Europe’s largest wine and spirits lobby says the retaliatory U.S. tariffs will hit industries that aren’t related to the core of the dispute, which is airline subsidies. The EU’s top trade official, Cecilia Malmstrom, says regardless of the WTO ruling, she opposes retaliatory U.S. countermeasures. “We say that the U.S. opting for applying countermeasures now would be shortsighted and counterproductive.” ********************************************************************************************* New York City Bans Processed Meats in School Lunches Kids are notorious for their love of hot dogs but they won’t get them in New York City schools this year for lunch. A Fox 5 New York Dot Com article says the Board of Education will no longer allow processed meats in public school cafeterias following a resolution passed by the New York City Council. Councilman Fernando Cabrera is a Bronx Democrat who sponsored the resolution. “We’re talking about hot dogs, we’re talking about cold cuts, and we’re talking about any processed meats,” he says. Salami and cheese sandwiches are no longer on the menu, as well as bologna and cheese sandwiches, cheese and turkey ham sandwiches, and pre-sliced Canadian turkey bacon and turkey ham. The Board of Education says it banned the meats that are defined by the World Health Organization as “processed.” The city has already stopped serving any meat products on Mondays, which Mayor Bill de Blasio says is a way to help reduce greenhouse gasses.

| Rural Advocate News | Monday October 7, 2019 |


Washington Insider: The Recent US Jobs Report Looking back on Friday’s jobs report, there is considerable disagreement over just what the trends mean, but Bloomberg say a clear signal is emerging: The world’s biggest economy is slowing down.” The amount of the slowdown is not clear, however. “Friday’s report contained ammo for the optimists, as well as the pessimists – and plenty for the Federal Reserve to ponder ahead of its next interest-rate decision,” Bloomberg opined. Clearly, the headline number for new jobs fell short of expectations, Bloomberg says – although the president looked past that, focusing on the unexpected drop in unemployment to a half-century low of 3.5%. Traders may have focused on that number too, paring expectations for a third straight rate cut. Fed chief Jerome Powell didn’t even mention the jobs report when he told a Washington audience Friday that the economy is in a “good place” – but stopped short of any guidance about what to expect from the Oct. 29-30 rates meeting. Bloomberg concludes that a cut in interest rates is still the likeliest outcome following a week of data that showed U.S. factories already in recession and service industries in the weakest state for three years. “The economy is slowing,” Pacific Investment Management Co.’s chief U.S. economist, Tiffany Wilding, said. The jobs report wasn’t as bad as it could have been, she hedged, but the Fed is likely to cut again in October “because of broader indications of slowing growth.” Bloomberg also sorted out some of the “up-and down-arrows” from the report that U.S. monetary policy makers are looking at now. Bloomberg thinks the “disappointing” wage gains are “better than they look, although growth in average hourly earnings unexpectedly cooled to 2.9% from 3.2%. Production and non-supervisory employees, the bulk of the workers, did better. Their pay rose 3.5%, down only slightly from the previous month’s decade-high of 3.6%. In addition, Bloomberg sees the decline in unemployment as an “unvarnished up-arrow.” The jobless rate was the lowest since December 1969 and below all estimates in Bloomberg’s survey. The participation rate, which measures the proportion of working-age people who are employed, held at 63.2%. Even the demographic data look pretty solid, Bloomberg says. Black unemployment held at 5.5%, a record low going back to the early 1970s, while the jobless rate among Hispanics fell to a new all-time low of 3.9%. The White House says the numbers as a sign of progress and Fed policy makers likely agree, since “they’ve spoken frequently this year about making sure economic gains are reaching more Americans.” Also, the underemployment rate slipped to 6.9%, the lowest since 2000, from 7.2%. Since this rate includes part-time workers who’d prefer a full-time position, and those who aren’t actively looking for work, it is watched closely by analysts. However, job growth is seen as “wobbling” as this year’s average rate of non-farm payroll gains fell to 161,000, down by a quarter from last year, while the figure for the private sector is down by a third to 143,000. “It’s quite mixed in that job creation has slowed but it’s still running above break-even rates,” said Michelle Meyer, head of U.S. economics at Bank of America Corp. Also, job growth in manufacturing and construction is “dimming fast” with the recent reading one of the weakest in the past couple of years. Construction is in the doldrums too, with employment growth well below last year’s pace. In terms of ag trade, among the recent market metrics being reported, is that Brazil is chipping away market share from America’s cotton producers and the world’s top exporters as the U.S.-China trade fight continues. Favored by a slumping currency against the American dollar, Brazil’s cotton growers have harvested their biggest crop yet and are preparing to ship the most volume ever to China, the top global importer. In the previous four years, Brazil produced 6% of China’s imports on average. This year, it’s expected to supply 23% of the imports, second only to Australia’s 26%, USDA forecasts. “The persistent U.S.-China trade battle continues to force unprecedented dislocations in global soybean and cotton trade flows, while the U.S. dollar strength dampens U.S. export competitiveness relative to Brazil and Argentina,” Tracey Allen, an agricultural commodity strategist for JPMorgan Chase Co., reported. Meanwhile, Brazil’s push into China comes at a time when American growers are also set to harvest their biggest crop in 14 years, with prices down 22% since the end of 2017. White House economic adviser Larry Kudlow noted that the U.S. team’s trade team will approach next week’s talks with China with everything “on the table.” The schedule, going forward, involves meetings with deputies on Monday and Tuesday and with senior officials later in the week, the White House said. So, we will see. There is a great deal of concern about the economy, as well as with both east and west trade tensions – fights producers should watch closely as they intensify, especially given the growing political tensions, Washington Insider believes.

| Rural Advocate News | Monday October 7, 2019 |


WTO DSB meeting set for October 14 The WTO has confirmed that a special meeting of the Dispute Settlement Body (DSB) will be held October 14 to consider the U.S. request to take retaliatory action against the European Union (EU) over subsidies the bloc has provided to Airbus – subsidies the WTO ruled were counter to EU trade commitments. The WTO authorized the U.S. to take up to $7.5 billion in retaliatory actions against the WTO over the situation, the largest in WTO history. The U.S. announced Tuesday it would put tariffs in place on a host of EU goods starting October 18, prompting the special meeting request of the DSB. The action will be approved under what is called the "negative consensus" rule – the U.S. request can only be blocked if all members in attendance reject the request.

| Rural Advocate News | Monday October 7, 2019 |


USDA’s Perdue Clearly Focused on E15 Relative to Biofuel Policy The long-awaited biofuel package from the Trump administration was released Friday, but still had more questions it seems than answers. Even USDA Secretary Sonny Perdue did not have a lot of details to offer in remarks he made after the announcement. Perdue told Agri-Talk that certainty was the biggest thing this announcement will bring. The administration is seeking to “follow the letter of the law,” Perdue remarked, referring to the RFS requirement that 15 billion gallons of conventional ethanol (primarily corn-based ethanol) be used in the nation’s motor fuel. But the focus for USDA will especially be on E15, Perdue noted, explaining they are “working on ideas” and “listening to the industry on ideas of what it will take to grow E15 demand. What is the best way we can quickly make E15 the fuel of choice.” Perdue said there will still be small refinery exemptions (SREs) issued, although “maybe not at 100 percent, but maybe 50 percent.” The use of a three-year average of SREs is one way that those “will be accounted for,” Perdue said. While reallocating those SREs was looked at, he noted it was “a hill too high to climb.” But EPA will be using that three-year average to “maintain the minimum 15 billion gallons” for conventional ethanol, he observed. One way to bolster E15 is “those pumps capable and certified for E10 can be used for E15,” Perdue said. Noting that E15 fuel is typically cheaper, he predicted: “If we give customers the choice, I am pretty confident of the choice they will make.”

| Rural Advocate News | Monday October 7, 2019 |


Monday Watch List Markets Markets will be watching weather forecasts for row crop harvest conditions and paying attention to any trade-related comments ahead of this week's trade talks between the U.S. and China. USDA's weekly report of export inspections kicks off at 10 a.m. CDT, followed by the Crop Progress report at 3 p.m. Weather Moderate rain is in store from the Delta through southeastern Midwest Monday, offering some drought easing while slowing harvest. Dry conditions elsewhere will allow for harvest progress. A season-ending freeze is indicated for the Northern and western Plains and the northwestern Midwest this week, along with harvest-disrupting rain and snow.

| Rural Advocate News | Friday October 4, 2019 |


U.S. Implementing Tariffs on EU Products The U.S. will place tariffs on European Union food products. Following a World Trade Organization win, the U.S., announced the new tariffs, expanding a trade war with the European Union. The U.S. won the largest arbitration award in WTO history of $7.5 billion in a dispute over illegal subsidies to Airbus. Countermeasure tariffs will be applied to a range of imports from EU Member States, with the bulk of the tariffs being applied to imports from France, Germany, Spain, and the United Kingdom – the four countries responsible for the illegal subsidies. The U.S. announced this week it will impose a 25 percent tariff on food products, including wine, scotch and cheese. The U.S. will also place a ten percent tariff on large civil aircraft products, and another 25 percent tariff on coffee, and some tools and machinery from Germany. USTR has the authority to apply a 100 percent tariff on affected products, and the authority to increase the tariffs at any time, or change the products affected. ************************************************************************************* DMC Payments Top $300 Million More than 22,000 dairy farmers enrolled in the new Dairy Margin Coverage program, paying out more than $300 million this year. The National Milk Producers Federation says none of the assistance would have occurred under the old Margin Protection Program. The DMC program replaced MPP in the 2018 farm bill. Monthly milk price/feed cost margins so far in 2019 have been above the $8 per hundredweight coverage cutoff that existed under MPP, but below the new $9.50 per hundredweight coverage limit under DMC. An analysis of the program found that under the old MPP rules, the total paid out under the entire program so far this year would have been $75,000, about $3 per farmer and a net loss after premium costs. Wisconsin signed up the largest number of farmers, while California enrolled the highest production volume of any state. NMPF CEO Jim Mulhern says, “The Dairy Margin Coverage program has proven its worth.” Enrollment into the program for 2020 begins Monday. ************************************************************************************* Senators Call for Financial Certainty for Rural Counties A group of Senators request any end-of-year legislation include reauthorization of programs to help counties with federal lands. The group seeks at least a two-year reauthorization of the Payments in Lieu of Taxes and the Secure Rural Schools and Community Self-Determination Act programs. The programs help rural counties containing tax-exempt federal lands to cover typical tax-funded services. Led by Senator Ron Wyden, a Democrat from Oregon, the bipartisan group of 31 Senators penned a letter to Senate Leader Mitch McConnell and Minority Leader Chuck Schumer outlining the request. The group says, “a short-term reauthorization of at least two years is critical to provide fiscal certainty for counties containing federally-owned lands.” The Senators say Congress has an obligation to ensure counties with large swaths of federally-owned, tax-exempt forests and rangelands can adequately provide essential services for their residents. Nearly 1,900 counties rely on the funding to cover basic services, including law enforcement, mental health programs and libraries. The Payments in Lieu of Taxes program expires at the end of this year, while the Secure Rural Schools and Community Self-Determination Act expired last year. ************************************************************************************* Study Finds Hydrologic Models may be Inaccurate A new study by the University of Illinois finds hydrologic models that simulate and predict water flow can be difficult to interpret correctly. The study focuses on the Soil and Water Assessment model, which simulates water circulation by incorporating data on land use, soil, topography, and climate. The models are typically used to estimate how natural systems respond to different scenarios, such as changes in climate, land use, and soil management. The input from the models can inform policy and regulatory decisions regarding water and land management practices. Model accuracy is important to ensure policy decisions are based on realistic scenarios. A researcher involved in the study says if the model is not representing reality, "you are going to draw the wrong conclusions.” And, wrong conclusions will lead to wrong policies, “which can greatly affect communities that rely on the water supply.” The researchers recommend using a combination model, which integrates two different processes to limit variability in results. Funding for the research was provided by the Department of Agriculture’s National Institute for Food and Agriculture. ************************************************************************************* USDA Invests $11M in Research That Will Support Specialty Crop Farmers The Department of Agriculture’s National Institute of Food and Agriculture Thursday announced $11 million in research funds for specialty crop farmers. The funding will focus on applying innovative solutions to pest management problems “that often are otherwise not available to specialty crop farmers,” according to a USDA statement. The investment is made through the Minor Crop Pest Management Program known as the Interregional Research Project. The program enables crop protection technology often designed for field crops, but equally safe, effective and economical for growers of specialty crops. As part of the funding investment, four universities across different U.S. growing regions will lead regional programs to generate additional data for registration of conventional and bio-based crop protection technology for specialty and minor crops. The efforts require effective collaborations among grower organizations, federal agencies, the private sector, and land-grant colleges and universities. A list of the four universities and their research projects is available on the NIFA website, https://nifa.usda.gov/. ************************************************************************************* Smithfield Foods Collects 130,000 Pounds of Food for Feeding America Employees of Smithfield Foods collected more than 130,000 pounds of food in support of Hunger Action Month, the Feeding America nationwide network of food banks' awareness campaign. Smithfield announced the donation this week, stating, “We're proud to have our employees go above and beyond to support their neighbors in need.” The campaign from Feeding America seeks to raise awareness of the fact that 37 million Americans, including more than 11 million children, are food insecure, and inspire action. For 11 years, Feeding America, the nation's largest domestic hunger-relief organization with a nationwide network of 200 food banks and 60,000 partner food pantries, has dedicated the month of September to re-igniting its commitment to ending hunger. In addition to employee efforts during Hunger Action Month, Smithfield works with Feeding America throughout the year for the company's hunger-relief initiative Helping Hungry Homes. Since the program's inception in 2008, Smithfield has donated more than 140 million servings of protein across all 50 U.S. states.

| Rural Advocate News | Friday October 4, 2019 |


Washington Insider: New Tariffs for European Exports The Trump administration said Wednesday that it would impose tariffs on European aircraft, French wine and cheese, Spanish olive oil and other goods starting Oct. 18, the New York Times reported this week. The tariffs are part of a WTO decision over a long-running complaint over subsidies given to the European plane maker Airbus and are intended to allow the United States to recoup some of the losses the American plane maker Boeing sustained because of Europe’s trade practices. The WTO said the U.S. could to impose tariffs on $7.5 billion in trade from Europe annually, and the new duties can be applied “until the two sides reach a negotiated settlement, or the organization decides that Europe is in compliance with its rules.” The tariffs are seen as likely to raise prices for American customers who import products from Europe and to affect airlines, manufacturers and consumers at the grocery store, the Times said. It said the list of products affected “reads like a gourmet shopping list, with the administration planning to place a 25 percent tax on imports of Parmesan cheese, mussels, coffee, single malt whiskeys and other agricultural goods from Europe.” The WTO decision ends a roughly 15-year dispute over the financial assistance Europe provides to its major plane maker. It followed a ruling last May that Europe had illegally subsidized several Airbus models and is the largest authorized retaliation in the organization’s history. The U.S. Trade Representative (USTR) said it plans to levy a 10 percent tariff on European aircraft and a 25% tariff on agricultural goods, industrial products and other imports “in an effort to pressure the European government to abandon its subsidies.” USTR Robert Lighthizer said. “We expect to enter into negotiations with the European Union aimed at resolving this issue in a way that will benefit American workers.” European officials pushed back hard on the U.S. announcement and said while they are eager to negotiate a solution they also are prepared to respond with levies on American goods. The WTO is considering a parallel case that the EU brought against the U.S. for subsidizing Boeing and the EU has its own list of $20 billion in American products that it could tax in response. However, Cecilia Malmstrom, the European commissioner for trade, said that the European Union had been trying to head off the possibility of American retaliation through negotiations, but had failed so far. The U.S. had been receptive to further discussions but not to the idea of delaying its tariffs, she said. The USTR argued that the Europeans had not put forward a sufficient solution and that the nature and size of the subsidies provided by the EU dwarfed anything that the United States provided to domestic companies. An escalating trade spat with Europe would open another front in the global trade war that the administration has undertaken in an effort to change trade terms that it claims have long disadvantaged the U.S. The president already has imposed tariffs on more than $360 billion of products from China in addition to levies on washing machines, solar panels and steel and aluminum from Japan and Europe. Those actions have raised the average American tariff rate on imported goods to levels not seen in decades — the U.S. now has the highest tariff levels of any of the Group of Seven industrialized nations. In a report published Tuesday, the WTO slashed its forecast for global trade growth for this and next year as trade tensions between the U.S. and the EU have already been running high. The governments announced in mid-2018 that they would work toward a trade agreement but negotiations quickly stalled over a dispute about agriculture which the U.S. insists should be included in the talks. President Trump has been fiercely critical of Europe’s trade policies and is considering hitting the eurozone with additional tariffs this fall on cars exported to America, the Times said. Chad P. Bown, a senior fellow at the Peterson Institute, said the planned exchange of tariffs highlighted the failure of the U.S. and Europe to work together to write more comprehensive rules about global trade, particularly subsidies. That could have major implications for China, which the U.S. and other countries have criticized for unfairly subsidizing its companies and undercutting other companies around the world. Even though the new tariffs would be in line with global rules they still would weigh on the economy and American companies. Airbus said that the company spent $50 billion purchasing products in the United States in the last three years — more than it spent in France, Germany or Britain. And if the U.S. does impose tariffs on aircraft or aircraft parts, the company said, it would “create insecurity and disruption not only to the aerospace industry, but also to the broader global economy.” They “would have a negative impact on not only the U.S. airlines but also U.S. jobs, suppliers and air travelers,” Guillaume Faury, the company’s chief executive said. So, we will see. The new U.S.-EU tensions come amid growing concerns about the economy and about the next steps expected by the Fed and others. Certainly, these developments should be watched closely by producers and others as they are revealed in the coming weeks, Washington Insider believes.

| Rural Advocate News | Friday October 4, 2019 |


Expectations Rising For Biofuel Announcement The Trump administration’s EPA may use partial waivers under the Small Refinery Exemptions (SREs) as part of a biofuel package, according to Reuters. The news service previously reported that EPA ignored advice from the Department of Energy that some of those applying for SREs should get only partial waivers. While most reports indicate the deal will be announced next week, sources have indicated that the package could be announced by President Donald Trump as early as today. The announcement is close to what has been speculated about the package in recent weeks. Keys will be how it is accepted or rejected by both biofuel proponents and the oil industry. An expected boost in ethanol use would begin to impact starting with the 2020-21 corn marketing year.

| Rural Advocate News | Friday October 4, 2019 |


US-China Trade Talks Ahead Trade talks between the U.S. and China are expected to resume next week in Washington as the thirteenth round of negotiations unfolds. It is unclear whether either side is willing to make the concessions necessary for a deal, observers note. Chinese officials and some media reports are still spinning a possible interim agreement that President Donald Trump has made clear he does not support as he favors a comprehensive, enforceable agreement. However, an interim or small-scale deal centered around China buying more U.S. agriculture products and the U.S. postponing planned tariff increases set for October 15 and December 15 is seen as still being possible if the two sides show some flexibility, according to some reports. Unknown is whether the U.S. will demand more in return for postponing the tariff increases.

| Rural Advocate News | Friday October 4, 2019 |


Friday Watch List Markets After this week's bearish news for U.S. manufacturing, there is increased talk of another rate cut in October. The U.S. Labor Department is set to disclose September non-farm payrolls and unemployment data at 7:30 a.m. CDT and traders will be watching. The U.S. trade deficit will also be posted, allowing USDA to release specific export data for August later in the morning. Weather Most crop areas will be dry Friday. A swath of rain is in store for the Texas Panhandle through Southern Plains. Conditions will be cool north and again very warm to hot southeast. Rain returns to the Northern Plains and western Midwest Saturday.

| Rural Advocate News | Thursday October 3, 2019 |


U.S. “Can’t Afford” Missing Out on USMCA The U.S. Chamber of Commerce continues its pressure for Congress to pass the U.S.-Mexico-Canada-Agreement. In a letter to all House of Representative members, the organization says the U.S. “cannot afford for enactment of USMCA to fall by the wayside.” The letter coins the term “No Rest Recess,” in calling on lawmakers to pass the agreement, following the current two-week recess. The Chamber says USMCA is critical to the economic future of the United States because it will preserve and strengthen U.S. trade ties, ensuring farmers, manufacturers, and small businesses continue to have access to the Canadian and Mexican markets. The future of the agreement rests with House Democrats and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi. Wednesday, Pelosi said the House is “making progress” on the agreement. Pelosi says the USMCA working group submitted its counter-proposal to the White House last week, adding the "the quiet you hear is progress," regarding negotiations with U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer. Pelosi has maintained that the House impeachment inquiry will not stall progress on the agreement. *************************************************************************************​ CoBank: Volatility Continues to Roil Ag Markets Uncertainty over trade policy, weather and African swine fever dominated agricultural markets last quarter, causing greater volatility. A report just released by CoBank says issues in the market are affecting producers, supply chains and end users. Trade negotiation breakthroughs have largely remained elusive, and the U.S. agricultural sector is preparing for its second consecutive harvest under the shadow of hefty tariffs. A CoBank spokesperson responded that, "Global trade tensions are ratcheting up as world economic growth slows." Meanwhile, the historically late planting of the 2019 corn crop is creating extremely volatile cash corn prices. End users like ethanol producers and livestock feeders are biding old-crop corn supplies higher in anticipation of a short harvest this fall, with prices falling back to levels seen before spring planting. And, the report says the already volatile U.S. animal protein markets have gotten more volatile in the third quarter on nearly every front. The full Quarterly Rural Economic Review is available on cobank.com. ************************************************************************************* USDA Opens Comment Period on Organic Origin of Livestock Rule The Department of Agriculture this week reopened the public comment period for the National Organic Program Origin of Livestock proposed rule. First introduced in 2015, the proposal would add requirements about transitioning dairy animals to organic production. Current regulations provide two tracks for replacing dairy animals which are tied to how dairy farmers transition to organic production. The proposed action would eliminate the two-track system and require that upon transition, all existing and replacement dairy animals from which milk or milk products are intended to be sold, labeled, or represented as organic, must be managed organically from the last third of gestation. The National Organic Program received 1,580 public comments during the original comment period in 2015. USDA will consider all public comments in developing a final rule, including comments from 2015 and the new comment period. The comment period is open for 60 days and will close December 2, 2019. ************************************************************************************* Deere Announces Layoffs amid Demand Declines Deere & Company this week announced indefinite layoffs amid demand woes. Deere officials say more than 160 U.S. workers at agriculture machinery facilities in Illinois and Iowa will be laid off, after the company last week announced it would reduce production by 20 percent. Reuters says Deere, the world’s largest farm equipment maker, is reeling from the fallout of the U.S.-China trade war that has slowed purchases from farmers. The layoffs include roughly 50 workers at the Harvester Works facility in East Moline, Illinois, and more than 100 workers at the Davenport Works facility in Davenport, Iowa. Deere also lowered its income forecast to $3.2 billion in August, from the previous forecast in February set at $3.6 billion. In an August earnings report, Deere explained market concerns forced farmers to postpone major equipment purchases. The Association of Equipment Manufacturers in its monthly equipment sales report for August reported that overall sales numbers are flat to positive for the year, but the industry “remains cautious about the overall Ag economy.” ************************************************************************************* NPB Calls for Pork Industry to Better Meet the Needs of Hispanic Consumers A new report from the National Pork Board shows ways to capture market share in the biggest growth opportunity for U.S. pork producers. The report, “Time to Tango: Latinos are Pork’s Future,” reveals steps food retailers and packers can take to connect with influential consumers in the Hispanic community. According to the report, as Hispanic consumers become acculturated in the United States, the link between pork and culture weakens. Often, Hispanic consumers can't find the cuts they want for traditional dishes in mainstream stores, so they use other proteins or shop at specialty stores that offer the service to deliver the cuts they want. To maintain and increase loyalty among Hispanic consumers, the report outlines three key motivators retailers and packers must address, being accessibility, authenticity and health. The report is the first in a series the National Pork Board will provide in the months ahead to help the food industry better respond to Hispanic consumers' needs. ************************************************************************************* National Chicken Council Unveils New Sustainability Resources Through sustainability practices, U.S. chicken producers have significantly reduced the use of water, farmland, electricity, greenhouse gas emissions, and other valuable natural resources, according to the National Chicken Council. The organization in a new report says producing the same amount of chicken today as 1965 has 50 percent less impact on the environment. However, knowledge of the environmental impact of chicken among consumers is low. Only half of respondents to an NCC survey are moderately knowledgeable about chicken’s impact on the environment and the strides the industry has made. To help bridge the gap, answer questions and address misperceptions, NCC is unveiling several new resources related to environmental sustainability, including videos, infographics, farmer testimonials, FAQs, social squares, blog posts and more. The consumer resources are available online at www.chickencheck.in. The survey found the environmental impact of chicken is statistically as important as animal welfare in purchasing decisions by consumers. Half of the survey participants indicated a willingness to eat more chicken if they learned it is more sustainable than other protein sources.

| Rural Advocate News | Thursday October 3, 2019 |


Washington Insider: Growing Economic Angst New confusion erupted across economic circles this week as a prominent measure of U.S. manufacturing “unexpectedly fell deeper into contraction,” posting the weakest reading since the end of the last recession. The global economic slowdown and the U.S.-China trade war are weighing increasingly on a number of economies, Bloomberg said this week. The Institute for Supply Management’s factory index fell to 47.8 in September, the lowest since June 2009, the report said. It added that the “figure missed all estimates in a Bloomberg survey that had called for an increase from August’s 49.1.” The group’s production gauge slipped to a 10-year low while the employment measure also dropped to the lowest since January 2016. Bloomberg called that “a worrying sign before a jobs report Friday that’s forecast to show private payroll growth remains subdued.” The second straight PMI reading below 50 – the line separating expansion and contraction – extends the drop from a 14-year high just over a year earlier and raised concern about a recession even after two straight interest-rate cuts from the Federal Reserve. Recent manufacturing data “make you worried that this could spread from the manufacturing sector to the services sector,” Torsten Slok, chief economist at Deutsche Bank AG said. “When the employment report comes on Friday we will have an even better idea on whether this is just a manufacturing issue or whether this is something that not only continues to deteriorate but is also spreading.” Bloomberg reported that just three of 18 industries reported growth in September, the lowest total since April 2009. Contracting industries were led by apparel, leather and allied products; printing and related support activities; and wood products. The only expansions reported were in miscellaneous manufacturing; food, beverage and tobacco products; and chemical products. ISM’s measure of new orders, considered a leading indicator of downturns, edged up slightly to 47.3 from an August reading that matched the weakest of this expansion. However, the production index declined to 47.3, while the inventories gauge fell to 46.9, the lowest since late 2016. ISM’s trade gauges showed American producers struggling with headwinds from abroad as well as the effects of a resurgent dollar. The measure of export orders, a proxy for overseas demand, fell to 41, the lowest level since March 2009, while the imports index remained in contraction, the report noted. While manufacturing makes up just over a tenth of gross domestic product, its slower growth combined with cooler business investment and economic growth puts the longest-ever American expansion in a more precarious position. It also could have negative political impacts for the administration, Bloomberg said. Shortly after the report, the president renewed his attacks on the Fed and Chairman Jerome Powell, saying they “allowed the Dollar to get so strong,” hurting manufacturers. Fed officials “don’t have a clue” and are “pathetic,” he tweeted. The pullback in the employment gauge, to 46.3 from 47.4, comes amid economist projections that the main monthly Labor Department report Friday will show limited manufacturing payroll growth. Economists forecast a 3,000 gain in factory employment for a second month. Elsewhere, reports this week showed that China’s factory sector contracted for a fifth month in September, and that the euro area’s manufacturing slumped as German factories experienced their worst month since the depths of the financial crisis. In addition, the International Monetary Fund, already projecting a 3.2% growth pace this year that would be the slowest since the financial crisis, will release an updated estimate later this month as policy makers from across the world gather in Washington for the fund’s annual meeting. The manufacturing report was “quite weak, consistent with significant export-led weakening in manufacturing continuing,” Jim O’Sullivan, chief U.S. economist at High Frequency Economics Ltd., said. But it may still be too early for alarm, as “so far at least, the less-export-oriented non-manufacturing parts of the economy have remained reasonably solid,” he wrote. However, Bloomberg sees another hit for manufacturing in the offing. The United Auto Workers union called its first national strike against General Motors Co. since 2007 midway through the month, halting production at the carmaker’s dozen assembly plants and 22 stamping, powertrain and parts factories. In addition, the work stoppage has spilled over to suppliers including American Axle & Manufacturing Holdings Inc., which has temporarily laid off staff. However, not all economic news was bad this week – a separate U.S. manufacturing purchasing managers’ index showed improvement on Tuesday. The gauge from IHS Markit rose to 51.1 from 50.3, with employment at the best reading since May and new orders up from the prior month. Analysts expected a level of 51, equal to the preliminary reading, the report said. So, we will see. Although there is broad agreement that the increasing global trade tensions are weighing significantly on economies around the world and that one or more major trade breakthroughs would be extremely welcome, but breakthroughs still seem unlikely given how deeply all sides are committed to current policies. These are continuing standoffs producers should watch closely as they continue, Washington Insider believes.

| Rural Advocate News | Thursday October 3, 2019 |


Perdue Signals Changes to H-2A Farmworker Visa Program USDA Secretary Sonny Perdue on Tuesday said the White House is planning to propose immigration legislation that could include major changes to the H-2A farmworker visa program. Speaking to reporters at the World Dairy Expo on Tuesday, Perdue suggested the legislation could make H-2A workers available year around, something pushed by the dairy sector, and also lower wage rates. “We are hoping to have an opportunity to address not only the seasonability issue but also the adverse wage rate,” Perdue said. “Many people that can get legal H-2A workers now are priced out of the provisions,” he added, referring to the required wage rates. However, odds remain low for any immigration legislation.

| Rural Advocate News | Thursday October 3, 2019 |


US To Move Quickly On Imposing Tariffs on EU Goods in Airbus WTO Case The WTO ruled that the U.S. could apply tariffs on up to $7.5 billion in goods from the European Union (EU) in response to the EU failing to change subsidies for Airbus that were found in violation of WTO rules. While the U.S. can request WTO permission to impose the duties at the next Dispute Settlement Body (DSB) meeting October 28, a senior U.S. Trade Representative (USTR) official said the U.S. was asking for a special meeting of the DSB Oct. 14 to formally adopt the ruling, clearing the way for the U.S. to impose the retaliatory tariffs Oct. 18. The U.S. will impose tariffs on the full $7.5 billion worth of goods authorized by the WTO decision, the WSJ said. The tariff rates, however, will not be 100%. Instead, the U.S. would set a 10% tariff on large commercial aircraft and 25% on agricultural and industrial goods, according to the official. The list of those goods to be targeted was released, but the final list will be set when published in the Federal Register.

| Rural Advocate News | Thursday October 3, 2019 |


Thursday Watch List Markets USDA's weekly export sales report, weekly jobless claims, and the U.S. Drought Monitor are all released at 7:30 a.m. CDT. U.S. factory orders are at 9 a.m., followed by natural gas inventory at 9:30 a.m. Weather and any news of trade with China remain perpetual topics of interest. Weather Thursday features light rain in the Great Lakes and light to moderate rain in portions of the Southern Plains and Texas Panhandle. Dry conditions are in store elsewhere. Temperatures will be cool north and central and very warm to hot southeast. Crop progress and harvest remain stalled in northern and western crop areas due to recent heavy rain and cool to cold conditions. South and southeast areas have better conditions for harvest, but are seeing the beginning of drought conditions.

| Rural Advocate News | Wednesday October 2, 2019 |


Farmer Pessimism Increasing over Current Conditions A monthly measure of farmer sentiment shows producers are more pessimistic about current conditions. The monthly Purdue/CME Group Ag Economy Barometer slipped to 121, down three points from August. However, the Index of Current Conditions, a sub-index of the barometer, dropped 22 points to a reading of 100. The barometer is based on a mid-month survey of 400 agricultural producers across the United States. A reading of 100 is considered neutral, with anything below negative, and anything above, positive. Despite the weak near-term outlook provided by farmers, they expressed some optimism about the future. The Index of Future Expectations rose six points compared to August. In the September survey, only one in five producers said they expect profitability to decline over the next year, compared to 41 percent back in May. Organizers say this could be a signal that farmers expect better times in 2020 compared to 2019, possibly because they are looking forward to a return to more normal growing conditions and crop production. ************************************************************************************* McConnell, Others, Optimistic on USMCA Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell hopes lawmakers can reach a resolution on the U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement soon. Speaking to CNBC this week, McConnell says “USMCA is something we can agree on,” referring to the Democrat-led House of Representatives and Republican-led Senate. President Donald Trump announced the three nations reached an agreement one year ago this week. Concerns regarding the impeachment effort in the House are building as some fear the effort may derail USMCA. However, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi says the USMCA working group will continue efforts to reach an agreement with the White House. However, labor and environment provisions remain as sticking points in the talks. Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue told dairy farmers Tuesday at World Dairy Expo he is optimistic a vote in the House will happen soon. Perdue says every provision in the agreement is an improvement, compared with the North American Free Trade Agreement, for U.S. agriculture. Mexico has already ratified the agreement and Canada is expected to do so following its federal elections later this month. ************************************************************************************* Agriculture Urges USDA to Quickly Establish FMD Vaccine Bank Agriculture groups are urging the Department of Agriculture to move quickly to establish a Foot-and-Mouth Disease vaccine bank. The National Pork Producers Council, National Milk Producers Federation, National Corn Growers Association and Iowa State University, made the joint call during a Tuesday press event. Recognizing the steps USDA has taken to establish the bank, the groups called for “expedient use of mandatory funding included in the 2018 farm bill to purchase the volume of vaccines required to effectively contain and eradicate an FMD outbreak.” The groups say USDA currently does not have access to enough vaccines to avoid “devastating economic consequences,” should an outbreak occur. FMD is an infectious viral disease that affects cloven-hooved animals, including cattle, pigs and sheep. Iowa State University research predicts an outbreak would result in $128 billion in losses for the beef and pork sectors, $44 billion and $25 billion, respectively, to corn and soybean farmers, and job losses of more than 1.5 million across U.S. agriculture over ten years. ************************************************************************************* Farm Bureau, Hemp Council, Seek Approvals for Hemp Protection Products The American Farm Bureau Federation and the National Industrial Hemp Council are seeking crop protection tools for hemp. The two groups have asked the Environmental Protection Agency to consider ten crop protection product applications approved for use on hemp. The groups made the request in rulemaking comments submitted to the agency. For hemp to reach its full potential, the groups say, "it is essential the EPA take a leadership role in the consistent review of applications for use on hemp, to facilitate a consistent and equal playing field across state jurisdictions.” Interest in hemp production is growing since authorized by the 2018 farm bill. However, farmers lack access to approved crop protection products. EPA requested comments regarding adding hemp to the labels of products registered under the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide, and Rodenticide Act. The groups also asked EPA to approve the products and additional applications to expand the range of approved products and provide their members with legal options for pest control beginning in 2020. ************************************************************************************* Organic Commodity Sales Double over Five Year Period Although the total value of U.S. agricultural sales remained relatively flat between 2012 and 2017, U.S. organic sales more than doubled to $7.3 billion. The Department of Agriculture’s Economic Research Service reports growth in the U.S. organic sector has accelerated since the early 2010s as retailers, food manufacturers, and livestock producers have increased demand for organic food and inputs. Agricultural sales averaged $400,600 for organic operations in 2017, more than double the average agricultural sales for all farms of $190,200. The organic share of U.S. agricultural sales doubled to two percent between 2012 and 2017, and was over six percent in some states. California was the top State in both organic and overall agricultural sales. Most other top organic states were in the Pacific Northwest, Upper Midwest and Northeast. Pennsylvania and North Carolina were among the states with the fastest growth, with organic sales up ten- and eight-fold, respectively. In contrast, Iowa ranked second in overall agricultural sales and twelfth in organic sales, reflecting the low adoption of organic systems for U.S. grain production. ************************************************************************************* Pennsylvania Farmer Named America’s Pig Farmer of the Year The National Pork Board Tuesday announced Chris Hoffman as the 2019-2020 Pig Farmer of the Year. Hoffman, a first-generation hog farmer from McAlisterville, Pennsylvania, received the highest combined score in third-party judging and online voting in the contest. The award recognizes pig farmers in the U.S. that exemplify industry leadership, a demonstrated focus in raising pigs following the We Care ethical principles and a commitment to connecting consumers with the farmers who raise the pork they consume. National Pork Board President David Newman calls Hoffman a “strong advocate” for the pork industry. Hoffman was named America’s Pig Farmer of the Year after an on-farm audit of animal health, safety and management practices, a series of personal interviews and an online vote. Hoffman says of the achievement, “I want to meet with our nation’s leaders, including the president, and show them that we are an integral part of our food supply and the nation’s workforce.” Learn more about Hoffman and the America’s Pig Farmer of the Year Award at americaspigfarmer.com.

| Rural Advocate News | Wednesday October 2, 2019 |


Washington Insider: Red Meat and Health The New York Times and a number of other media publications are highlighting a new report this week on human nutrition that calls the scientific evidence “too weak to justify telling individuals to eat less beef and pork.” Critics are up in arms. For years, public health officials have urged reduced consumption of red meat and processed meats on the grounds that they are linked to heart disease, cancer and other ills. But on Monday an international collaboration of researchers produced a series of analyses concluding that the advice is not backed by good scientific evidence. “If there are health benefits from eating less beef and pork, they are small,” the researchers concluded. Indeed, the advantages are so faint that they can be discerned only when looking at very large populations, the studies said. “The certainty of evidence for these risk reductions was low to very low,” Bradley Johnston, an epidemiologist at Dalhousie University in Canada and leader of the group publishing the new research in the Annals of Internal Medicine told the press. These studies are among the largest such evaluations ever attempted and may influence future dietary recommendations. However, the Times — and several other publications — emphasized that the findings raise uncomfortable questions about current and future dietary advice and nutritional research and what sort of standards these efforts should be held to. The Times said that the reports have already “been met with fierce criticism by public health researchers,” and pointed out that the American Heart Association, the American Cancer Society, the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health and other groups have savaged the findings and the journal that published them. The NYT says these “conclusions represent another in a series of jarring dietary reversals involving salt, fats, carbohydrates and more.” The Times also says that “a renewed appetite for red meat also runs counter to two other important trends: a growing awareness of the environmental degradation caused by livestock production and longstanding concern about the welfare of animals employed in industrial farming.” NYT notes that beef is not “just another foodstuff,” but is a symbol set firmly in the center of America’s dinner plate. Even so, as concerns about health effects have risen, consumption of beef has fallen steadily since the mid-1970s, especially among highly educated consumers. However, the average American still eats about 4 1/2 servings of red meat a week, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention data. In three reviews, the group looked at large numbers of studies asking whether eating red meat or processed meats affected the risk of cardiovascular disease or cancer. In each study reviewed, the scientists concluded that the links between eating red meat and disease and death were small and the quality of the evidence was low to very low. That is not to say that those links don’t exist, but the health effects of red meat consumption are detectable only in the largest groups, the team concluded, and “an individual cannot conclude that he or she will be better off not eating red meat.” The study asserted that “if Americans were highly motivated by even modest health hazards, then it might be worth continuing to advise them to eat less red meat” — but it found that the “evidence even for this is weak,” and that “omnivores are attached to meat and are unwilling to change ...even when faced with potentially undesirable health effects.” Taken together, the analyses raise questions about the longstanding dietary guidelines urging people to eat less red meat, the Times said. The new studies were met with indignation by nutrition researchers who have long said that red meat and processed meats contribute to the risk of heart disease and cancer. So, the debate is rapidly turning to the value of nutritional research and health advice and whether it’s possible to ascertain the effects of just one component of the diet, the Times said. It called this “a time to “reconsider how nutritional research is done in the country.” It also questioned how effectively research results “really help to inform an individual’s decisions.” Despite flaws in the evidence, health officials still must give advice and offer guidelines, said Dr. Meir Stampfer, also of the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health. He believes that the data favor of eating less meat and that, although imperfect, they indicate there are likely to be health benefits. One way to give advice would be to say “reduce your red meat intake,” Stampfer said, although he mused about how that would be interpreted, and how it could be better communicated. Perhaps there is no way to make policies that can be conveyed to the public and simultaneously communicate the breadth of scientific evidence concerning diet. Or maybe policymakers should try something more straightforward: “When you don’t have the highest-quality evidence, the correct conclusion is ‘maybe,’” one expert told the Times. So, we will see. There is little dispute that there are severe health problems linked to diets, as well as social concerns about climate change and animal welfare, among others. But what should be done to encourage better health and nutrition and how the government should be involved is far from clear and likely to be increasingly debated, fights producers should watch closely as they emerge, Washington Insider believes.

| Rural Advocate News | Wednesday October 2, 2019 |


Groups Want Meeting With Commerce’s Ross Re: Argentina Biodiesel Duties The National Biodiesel Board and the American Soybean Association asked Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross for a meeting before the agency finalizes a review that would end most countervailing duties on biodiesel from Argentina. “It remains unclear why Commerce is rushing to issue final results when recent developments in Argentina suggest a likely change in leadership and tax policy,” the groups said in a letter. The groups called on Ross to “protect” U.S. biodiesel from the trade practices that resulted in the initial duties, issued in 2018, saying “Argentina’s tax policies are likely to continue to change.” They argued that U.S. soybean growers “continue to find international markets unbalanced as a result of uncertainty over trade agreements and retaliatory trade practices,” the letter added. While U.S. farmers grapple with “reduced demand and lower prices as a result of trade disruptions to address unfair practices by China unrelated to soybean markets, it would be inconsistent and further damaging to relax measures addressing unfair practices by Argentina.”

| Rural Advocate News | Wednesday October 2, 2019 |


McConnell Notes GOP Need For Trade Deal With China Commenting during an interview with CNBC Monday, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., said “rural America really needs” a China trade deal soon. McConnell noted the trade war with China has been tough on American farmers. “As you know, my party is very deeply based in rural America and small-town America,” McConnell said. “So, I hope the president can get a good outcome here.” McConnell said he appreciates what Trump is trying to do, but said things need to get wrapped up soon. “I admire what he is trying to do, but I hope we can get a conclusion to this soon because rural America really needs it.” McConnell said.

| Rural Advocate News | Wednesday October 2, 2019 |


Wednesday Watch List Markets A report on U.S. private sector employment from ADP starts the day at 7:15 a.m. CDT, followed by weekly inventories from the U.S. Energy Department at 9:30 a.m. The latest weather forecasts are being watched for harvest conditions and winter wheat planting and any trade news ahead of the October 10 meeting with China will be noted. Weather Wednesday features showers and thunderstorms over the northern, central and southwestern Plains through the western and northern Midwest. The rain adds to flood issues and further delays harvest. Southern and southeastern crop areas will be dry. Temperatures will have a sharp contrast between cool north and very warm to hot south.

| Rural Advocate News | Tuesday October 1, 2019 |


USDA Releases September Grain Stocks Report The Grain Stocks Report Monday sent grain futures higher as estimates from the Department of Agriculture were lower than markets expected. Old crop corn stocks totaled 2.11 billion bushels, down one percent from September 1, 2018. USDA reports 753 million bushels are stored on farms, up 22 percent from a year earlier, but 331 million bushes below the last estimate by USDA. Meanwhile, old crop soybeans stored totaled 913 million bushels, up 108 percent from last year. Soybean stocks stored on farms totaled 265 million bushels, up 162 percent from a year ago. All wheat stored totaled 2.38 billion bushels, down slightly from a year ago. Barley stocks totaled 192 million bushels, up ten percent from September 2018. Oats stored totaled 61.2 million bushels, 18 percent below last year. Finally, old crop grain sorghum stored totaled 63.7 million bushels, up 83 percent from a year ago. Meanwhile, USDA announced it would resurvey producers for the Small Grains Summary, as many crops were not harvested at the time of survey earlier this year. ************************************************************************************* United Fresh Responds to Gillibrand Produce Price Inquiry A Democrat on the Senate Agriculture Committee is calling on the federal government to investigate fruit and vegetable prices received by farmers. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand wants the Department Agriculture to investigate if fruit and vegetable farmers across the country are receiving fair prices for their produce, While the prices of fruits and vegetables have increased for both consumers at the grocery store and for wholesale buyers. Gillibrand says the prices that farmers receive for these same products has not kept up with the increases, and even gone down in some cases. United Fresh Monday responded to the inquiry, saying, “Transparency in any supply chain is a good thing, and we always welcome USDA’s analysis of our markets.” However, the group representing the U.S. produce industry cautions that “It’s important for each sector in our supply chain not to lose sight of our goal to grow fresh produce consumption, while fighting with one another over whose share of a dwindling pie is bigger.” ************************************************************************************* Stabenow Seeks USDA Relocation Details Senator Debbie Stabenow wants the Trump Administration to explain its plans to fill jobs for Department of Agriculture agencies moving to the Kansas City metro area. Last week, Stabenow sent a letter to Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue seeking more information on how the move will delay operations at the Economic Research Service and National Institute for Food and Agriculture. Stabenow, the top Democrat on the Senate Agriculture Committee, points out that more than 75 percent of reassigned employees opted not to relocate, on top of already high vacancy rates, adding the relocation “has left these agencies with little ability to do their important work.” Stabenow says, “It is clear that the lack of capacity is affecting Farm Bill implementation.” Stabenow raised several questions about the impact of staffing shortages and requested a thorough explanation of how the department plans to fill its job capacity for both NIFA and ERS. Stabenow requested the information be delivered to her by October 11, 2019. ************************************************************************************* Iowa State Releases Entry Level Ag Salaries Report Iowa State University recently released its annual entry-level salary summary for jobs in agriculture. The report includes data from 19 universities collected by career services offices at participating universities from December 2018 and May 2019 undergraduates. The report found entry-level jobs in agricultural economics and business have average salaries of $49,300. Entry-level jobs in agriculture education and communication averaged $43,300. Agronomy and crop sciences salaries averaged $46,400, while animal and dairy science salaries averaged $38,200. The average salary for jobs in biological sciences was reported at $35,100. Environmental sciences, fisheries and forestry and wildlife biology jobs offer an average salary of $35,700. Meanwhile, food science and human nutrition jobs averaged $47,300. The average salary for horticulture is $37,800, and technical engineering and industrial technology salaries average $59,100. Additionally, data compiled by USA Today shows agriculture sector jobs consistently rank among sectors with the lowest unemployment rates. The unemployment rate for agricultural economics ranked at .75 percent, 1.4 percent in soil sciences, and 1.5 percent in animal sciences. ************************************************************************************* Boehringer-Ingelheim Developing World’s Largest Vaccine Production Facility Boehringer Ingelheim is developing a biotechnology production site for veterinary vaccines in Europe. A groundbreaking ceremony last month marked the start of construction on the site that may become the largest vaccine production facility in the world. The 200-million-euro investment will significantly increase production capacities for antigens and vaccines against highly contagious diseases, providing the means to fight animal epidemics that often have dramatic health and financial consequences, such as foot-and-mouth disease and bluetongue disease, according to the company. The high-security facility will begin operating in France during the third quarter of 2022. Its five floors will be home to 35 cell and virus culture tanks, a purification area, a decontamination station and a strategic active ingredient reserve. The antigen bank will enable the company to “quickly and efficiently respond” to government orders in case of an outbreak of foot-and-mouth disease or bluetongue disease. Boehringer Ingelheim is the second largest animal health business in the world. ************************************************************************************* McDonald’s Testing Plant-Based Burger in Canada McDonald's announced last week the fast-food restaurant chain is testing a new plant-based burger in Canada. The P.L.T., a plant, lettuce, tomato burger, launched Monday as part of a 12-week test in Canada. The P.L.T. is made with a Beyond Meat plant-based patty. A McDonald’s spokesperson says, “We've been working on our recipe and now we're ready to hear feedback from our customers." The plant-based burger is available in 28 restaurants in Southwestern Ontario. McDonald's says the test allows the company “to learn more about real-world implications of serving the P.L.T.,” including customer demand and impact on restaurant operations. Through the effort, McDonald’s joins other restaurant chains in testing or rolling out a plant-based alternative. In August, KFC announced a beyond fried chicken product test in Atlanta, Georgia. HelloFresh, a U.S.-based meal delivery service, added beyond meat products to its offerings in September. And, Burger King and Carl’s Jr. both have permanent beyond meat menu items available, launched earlier this year.

| Rural Advocate News | Tuesday October 1, 2019 |


Washington Insider: Wall Street Warns Against Betting on Trade Truce In a somewhat gloomy post, Bloomberg warned this week against optimism on a U.S.-China trade deal this month. It further notes that the “next round of U.S. tariff hikes on China is little more than two weeks away,” though equity and foreign-exchange markets aren’t signaling much obvious concern. Possible increased trade tension “may set things off to a rocky start in the fourth quarter, a period when thinning liquidity is perceived to increase the risk of volatility,” Bloomberg said. For their part, strategists at some of Wall Street’s biggest banks –including Citigroup Inc., JPMorgan Chase & Co. and Goldman Sachs Group Inc. – "are warning against expectations of any truce in the upcoming round of U.S.-China trade talks.” “We have more conviction that, without a circuit breaker, escalation continues over the medium term, meaning any pause is fleeting,” Morgan Stanley strategists including Michael Zezas wrote in Monday’s note to clients. “Investors should price in all announced actions (i.e., tariffs on both Oct. 15 and Dec. 15) even if further delays or pauses are announced.” Amid news about administration deliberations on curbs on U.S. investments in Chinese companies that hit stocks Friday, S&P 500 futures and the yuan both rose in Asian trading Monday. “That’s after China confirmed that its top trade negotiator, Vice Premier Liu He, is still heading to the U.S. for negotiations after national holidays end Oct. 7,” Bloomberg said. Bloomberg also noted that the Morgan Stanley team highlighted that “rounds of top-negotiator talks lately have been followed by tariff escalation, not by an easing in tensions.” Indeed, President Donald Trump on Aug. 1 announced a new round of tariff hikes shortly after the principal U.S. negotiators returned from talks in Shanghai. And that triggered the worst month for global stocks since May – when investors were also handed an escalation in tariffs. In currencies, the yuan slid through 7 per dollar, for a time spooking investors across emerging markets. September saw both stocks and exchange rates settle, as the U.S. and China announced goodwill gestures that took tensions down somewhat. However, the next round of headlines may not be so cheery, the report said. “While trade talks so far have been noted as constructive and the delay of some tariffs has led to some market optimism, we do not expect the Trump administration to reach a deal assuming continued strong U.S. economic and financial conditions,” Cesar Rojas, an economist at Citigroup, wrote last week. Rojas flagged the fact that, in addition to the upcoming tariff hikes, the U.S. Treasury’s semiannual foreign-exchange report is due in October. The department already has labeled China as a currency manipulator, so the focus now is whether the Commerce Department has any related announcement on treating the exchange rate as amounting to a subsidy, clearing the way for countervailing duties, according to Rojas. One new element going into the upcoming negotiations is President Trump’s impeachment fight in the House of Representatives. JPMorgan analysts noted that those tensions could have a bearing: The president “may experience an epiphany that inclines him to accept a weak offer from mainland China to end the trade war,” John Normand, JPMorgan’s head of cross-asset strategy, wrote on Friday. “But the adverse scenario is also credible: realizing President Trump’s vulnerability, China may slow-walk negotiations and even court another tariff hike, on the expectation that another year of mutual stress might raise the odds that Trump loses the 2020 elections.” JPMorgan’s base case is for talks to drag into next year. And the bank sees the yuan sliding by year-end to 7.35 per dollar, the weakest since 2007. Bank of America Merrill Lynch is even more bearish on China’s currency, seeing it tumbling to 7.50. “Cautious optimism is building that a narrow deal can be achieved” in the upcoming talks, Claudio Piron, a Bank of America strategist in Singapore, wrote recently. But even if there is a truce, the yuan may still slide, he argued--with China likely to ease monetary policy and try to offset existing tariffs through currency depreciation. Goldman isn’t quite so bearish on the yuan, keeping its near-term target at 7.20, compared with 7.1375 in Shanghai trading Monday. In addition, Goldman’s economists offer some sobering broader context for major American trade disputes over history. “In most instances, tariffs remained in place for several years, with a median duration of three-to-four years in our sample of major postwar disputes,” analysts including Alec Phillips wrote last Friday. “The more complicated conflicts saw periodic detentes that in some cases remain unresolved years or decades later.” So, we will see. Clearly, uncertainty over many economic, financial and trade policy issues continues to grow, as well as the weather, the national political situation and trade policy, among others. As a result, producers are well advised to watch closely, including especially the national fights over trade policy as the pre-election runup continues, Washington Insider believes.

| Rural Advocate News | Tuesday October 1, 2019 |


Host of State Corn Grower Groups Urge Trump on Biofuels The granting of 31 small refinery exemptions (SREs) for the 2018 compliance year are negatively impacting U.S. corn farmers, according to leaders of corn grower associations from 23 states in a letter to President Donald Trump. “The 31 new Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) waivers to big oil companies, recently approved by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and bringing total waivers issued under your Administration to 85, could not have come at a worse time for agriculture,” the presidents wrote. “Ethanol plants in several states, including Iowa, Ohio, Wisconsin, Michigan, Indiana, Minnesota and Mississippi have closed or idled. These closures have cost 2,700 rural jobs and impacted demand for more than 300 million bushels of corn. Corn farmers are beginning harvest and continuing to lose markets to deliver their corn. Frustration in the countryside is growing.” The officials said they are not “asking for a special deal,” but rather they want “EPA to uphold the law.” While thanking Trump for pushing ahead with year-round sales of E15, the officials said, “but EPA’s current use of waivers undermines growth potential for higher blends of ethanol, reduces demand, lowers the value of our crop, and puts the outlook for the rural economy in jeopardy.”

| Rural Advocate News | Tuesday October 1, 2019 |


U.S. Cleared to Hit EU With Retaliatory Tariffs Over Airbus The World Trade Organization (WTO) is expected to allow the U.S. to hit European imports with $7.5 billion in tariffs over a 15-year old aircraft subsidy dispute, according to a report from IEG Policy. The tariffs on European Union (EU) goods are expected to include dairy, fruit, meat, whiskey and wine exports. The U.S. requested a much larger amount, but the WTO typically trims those requested levels. Meanwhile, the EU is expected to get a green light from the WTO to hit U.S. goods with tariffs in response to a WTO ruling against subsidies to Boeing. But, the U.S. will be able to impose its tariffs first as the case against Airbus is eight months ahead of the EU’s case on Boeing.

| Rural Advocate News | Tuesday October 1, 2019 |


Tuesday Watch List Markets Fresh off of Monday's Grain Stocks and Crop Progress reports, market attention will turn back to weather, trying to figure out how these immature crops will fare through wet harvest conditions. An index of U.S. manufacturing is scheduled for 9 a.m. CDT and U.S. soybean crush statistics will be updated at 2 p.m. China celebrates its 70th anniversary with a one-week holiday. Weather Moderate to heavy rain is in store for the southwestern and central Plains through the western and northern Midwest Tuesday. Flash flooding is likely, along with hail and high winds. Harvest disruption will be widespread. Meanwhile, the northwestern Plains will be cool, while very hot and dry conditions remain in place from the Ohio Valley through the Delta and Southeast.

| Rural Advocate News | Monday September 30, 2019 |


McConnell Tells Democrats “Time to Act on USMCA” Much of Washington, D.C., is consumed with questions about Ukraine and the impeachment inquiry. However, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell publicly scolded Democrats’ handling of the U.S.-Mexico-Canada Trade Agreement. Politico says McConnell wants House Democrats to pass the North American trade agreement, noting that “the time for excuses is over.” Speaking on the Senate floor, McConnell said Democrats continued objections to the new pact are nothing more than “heel-dragging.” He says the delay is because of the House impeachment inquiry and related investigations. “Canada, Mexico, and millions of Americans are waiting for Speaker Pelosi to remember that serving the public interest requires more than just picking fights with the President,” McConnell says. His comments come after House Democrats pledged last week that the newly-launched impeachment inquiry will not affect their ability to work with the administration to negotiate changes in four key areas of the agreement with our North American trade partners. Those areas include labor, the environment, access to medicines, and enforcement. ********************************************************************************************** House Democrat says USMCA Vote Depends on Mexican Budget Texas Democrat Henry Cuellar (KWAY-yar) says he expects Congress to vote on the U.S.-Mexico-Canada Trade Agreement in either November or December. The Hagstrom Report says that House Democrats consider that vote to be contingent on Mexico agreeing to spend more money on enforcing labor provisions in the agreement. Cuellar is one of the more vocal Democrats advocating for passing USMCA. At a recent speaking engagement, Cuellar says he’s spoken with both House Leader Nancy Pelosi and the White House about the prospects for USMCA since Pelosi announced a formal impeachment inquiry on President Donald Trump. He expects both the impeachment and USMCA approval will be kept on separate tracks. Cuellar, who has cautiously endorsed Pelosi’s impeachment inquiry, says, “The last couple of days have kind of complicated things, but we can walk and chew gum at the same time.” What House Democrats want is for Mexico to budget enough money to enforce the labor provisions in the agreement. Cuellar says U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer with doing a “very good job” on labor issues. However, the Mexican enforcement budget is still the key to getting House support. ********************************************************************************************** China’s Ag Buying Surges Ahead of Next Round of Talks With U.S. Late last week, China said it’s already bought a considerable number of U.S. soybeans and pork as it prepares for the next round of trade talks with Washington, D.C. The Chinese Ministry of Commerce says both countries are in “close communication” ahead of the next round of talks. A ministry spokesman says as China has ramped up its purchases, the tariffs on those recent orders will be exempted. The Ministry says that “China’s stance has always been consistent and clear, hoping the U.S. will meet China halfway.” China purchased $5.9 billion in U.S. farm products in 2018. Tensions between the two largest economies in the world seem to have eased ahead of trade talks next month. President Trump granted tariff exemptions to many Chinese products, while China says it will exempt U.S. agricultural products and other goods from additional tariffs. Trump said last week that a U.S. and China trade deal could possibly arrive sooner than expected. He made those comments shortly after House Democrats announced an impeachment inquiry. ********************************************************************************************** Producers to Get “Top-Up” Payments The U.S. Department of Agriculture says producers who are currently participating in the federal crop insurance program are in line for some extra help. Farmers who had a payable prevented planting indemnity related to flooding, excess moisture, or causes other than drought will automatically receive a “top-up” payment. Producers will get that payment from their Approved Insurance Providers starting in mid-October. Producers with Yield Protection and Revenue Protection with Harvest Price Option will get a 10 percent top-up payment. Producers with Revenue Protection will receive a 15 percent top-up. They don’t need to sign up to get the payments as all producers with a 2019 prevented planting indemnity will receive the top-up. “It was a challenging season for many of our farmers,” says USDA Undersecretary for Farm Production and Conservation Bill Northey. “We are doing everything we can to ensure that producers get the help they need.” The crop insurance industry will deliver the payments as part of the Additional Supplemental Appropriations for Disaster Relief Act of 2019. After the initial payment, additional payments will be made in the middle of each month as more prevented planting claims get processed. ********************************************************************************************** NCBA Exposes OCM/HSUS Smear Campaign The National Cattlemen’s Beef Association says the Organization for Competitive Markets is using half-truths and smear tactics to pit beef producers against each other. They say it’s clear that the Humane Society of the U.S. has taught the OCM staff some tricks to help them tear apart the beef industry from the inside. It’s no coincidence that they’ve chosen to do so at a time when the industry is struggling with market-related challenges and producer unrest to fire their latest shots. The NCBA points out that both groups would like farmers to think that the industry is weak when in reality the demand for beef is strong. That demand has been climbing for many years in both the United States and overseas. Much of that increasing strength comes from programs that are funded by the Beef Checkoff. HSUS knows this and opposes it because they’re against the consumption of animal products. The NCBA says that’s why they’ve come together with OCM to organize and fund the ongoing smear campaign. Discrediting the beef checkoff and the work done by contracting organizations allows the Humane Society, the OCM, and R-CALF to build up their membership numbers. The NCBA says division within the beef industry serves no one but the industry’s adversaries. ********************************************************************************************* RFA Corrects EPA on Ethanol Demand The Renewable Fuels Association sent a letter to the Environmental Protection Agency regarding its testimony before the House Committee on Science, Space, and Technology. The letter had a lot to say about the real impacts of small refinery exemptions under the Renewable Fuels Standard. The letter followed EPA assertion that there is “zero evidence” that the waivers are negatively impacting ethanol producers. “In light of our August letter and the continued evidence of deterioration in the ethanol market, we were disappointed to hear you make similar claims about the impact of the small refinery exemptions,” says RFA CEO Geoff Cooper to EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler. “Several statements made during the hearing about ethanol supply and demand are inconsistent with government data and market intelligence. I write today to challenge your statements on the impact of exemptions and provide additional information.” Wheeler told the committee that ethanol production and consumption is “on the rise.” Data from the Department of Energy and even the EPA itself tell a different story.

| Rural Advocate News | Monday September 30, 2019 |


Washington Insider: President Signs Stopgap Spending Measure The Hill and other media are reporting this week that the president on Friday signed a stopgap funding measure to keep the government running until Nov. 21, an eight-week extension into the new fiscal year that begins this week. The measure was agreed in an effort to avoid another government shutdown this fall. The legislation, which passed in the House last week and the Senate on Thursday, keeps 2019 funding levels in place while Democrats and Republicans look to hammer out a broader spending deal. Controversy over the president’s proposed border wall has stalled most new spending bills, The Hill noted. While the House passed 10 of the 12 annual measures early in the summer, the Senate, where bipartisan support is required to pass legislation, has not been able to complete a single appropriations bill for the 2020 fiscal year. In recent weeks, the Senate Appropriations Committee succeeded in marking up 10 bills, but several more bills, such as defense and homeland security, received only Republican support. Democrats have continued to oppose the provision of an additional $5 billion for the wall at the U.S.-Mexico border, and insist that other bills should block the administration from using emergency powers to reprogram funds. So far, the administration has reprogrammed upwards of $6 billion from defense, military construction funds and a Treasury asset fund for the proposed wall. In an effort to resolve the current standoff, the president was scheduled to meet with Senate Appropriations Committee Chairman Richard Shelby, R-Ala., about a way forward for the legislation. However, Shelby warned on Thursday that without a bipartisan deal on border issues, Congress might be forced to rely on stopgap measures—that is, continuing resolutions – for the entire 2020 fiscal year. That would prevent agencies from embarking on new projects and deny them an already agreed-upon, multi-billion dollar boost in spending levels. The stopgap measure signed last week also extended major health programs, flood insurance, authorization for the Export-Import Bank and disaster funds. In the meantime, Bloomberg is reporting that China’s foreign minister hit back at President Donald Trump’s trade policies at the UN on Friday, warning that protectionism could plunge the world into a recession just as negotiators from both countries prepare to meet in Washington next month. Foreign Minister Wang Yi, speaking from the General Assembly rostrum days after President Trump used the same setting to criticize China’s trade practices, said that “tariffs and provocations of trade disputes” are upsetting the global industrial and supply chain and risk undermining the “global economic and trade order.” “China will not ever be cowed by threats, or subdued by pressure,” Wang said. “Erecting walls will not resolve global challenges, and blaming others for one’s own problems does not work.” President Trump devoted much of his General Assembly speech on Tuesday to China’s trade practices, accusing Beijing of failing to adopt promised reforms and embracing an economic model dependent on massive market barriers, heavy state subsidies, forced technology transfers and the theft of intellectual property. He defended his imposition of tariffs, saying he wouldn’t accept a “bad deal.” As the trade conflict unfolded, China targeted American farmers – an important political constituency for the administration – in retaliation for U.S. tariffs by cutting purchases of soybeans and other commodities. The administration “has responded with a bailout for farmers that, so far, totals about $28 billion,” Bloomberg said. “Regarding economic and trade frictions and differences, China is committed to resolve them in a calm, rational and cooperative manner, and is willing to demonstrate utmost patience and goodwill,” Wang said. “Should the other side act in bad faith, or show no respect for equal status or rules in negotiations, we will have to make necessary responses to safeguard our legitimate rights and interests.” Trade talks are to resume in Washington early in October and China’s Vice Premier Liu He is expected to lead his country’s delegation. So, we will see. The difficulty in completing work on the next U.S. budget along with Chinese saber rattling are both regarded as significant economic danger signs for the coming months, along with the growing political tensions in Washington. These are among the many ongoing and expected debates that producers should watch closely as they emerge, Washington Insider believes.

| Rural Advocate News | Monday September 30, 2019 |


Pelosi, McConnell Comment On USMCA Situation The top leaders of the House and Senate both made remarks Thursday relative to the U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA). “Let me just say … we are moving ahead on the U.S.-Mexico-Canada-Agreement (USMCA),” House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., told reporters as she concluded a news conference. “Again, we are hoping to be on a continued path to yes,” Pelosi added. Other House Democrats said the newly launched impeachment inquiry will not affect their work with the Trump administration to negotiate changes to the deal in four core areas: labor, environment, access to medicines and enforcement. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., told Democrats that “the time for excuses is over.” In a speech on the Senate floor, McConnell said Democrats’ continued objections amount to little more than “heel-dragging,” and suggested a chief reason for the pact’s delay is the House’s impeachment inquiry and related investigations. “Canada, Mexico and millions of Americans are waiting for Speaker Pelosi to remember that serving the public interest requires more than just picking fights with the president,” McConnell said. “It actually entails addressing the people’s business.” Meanwhile, the House Democrats USMCA working group will meet with U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer today. The group will reportedly tell Lighthizer its responses to proposals USTR sent over earlier this month.

| Rural Advocate News | Monday September 30, 2019 |


Farmers To Automatically Get Bump Up In Prevent Plant Payment Farmers with crop insurance who claimed prevent plant for 2019 will automatically get a “top-up” payment via the disaster aid package approved this year by Congress. Payments will be made by Approved Insurance Providers (AIPs). The announcement from USDA clears up a question of whether the payments would be made via crop insurance or would come from the Farm Service Agency (FSA). Producers with Yield Protection and Revenue Protection with Harvest Price Exclusion will receive a 10% top-up payment while those with Revenue Protection policies will get a 15% payment. Initial payments will be made in mid-October with additional payments the middle of each month after that as more prevent plant claims are processed. There were crop insurance indemnity claims on an estimated 19.6 million acres this year. The top-up payments are separate from disaster payments via the Wildfires and Hurricanes Indemnity Program Plus (WHIP+).

| Rural Advocate News | Monday September 30, 2019 |


Monday Watch List Markets After checking new weather forecasts for the week and any news over the weekend, the market will get ready for several reports on Monday's docket. USDA's weekly export inspections is set for 10 a.m., followed by the September 1 Grain Stocks report and Small Grains Summary at 11 a.m. Crop Progress is due out at 3 p.m. and will be watched for row crop maturity and spring wheat harvest progress. Weather Moderate to heavy rain is in store for the far Northern Plains and northern Midwest Monday. The heavy precipitation, including snow, will also be noted in the Canadian Prairies. Harvest disruption and crop damage is likely in these areas. We'll also see light rain in southern Texas. Other areas will be drier ahead of a new round of rain in the Plains and Midwest Monday night and Tuesday. Delta and Southeast areas will again be hot and dry.

| Rural Advocate News | Friday September 27, 2019 |


Trump: Impeachment effort Hindering USMCA Would "Be a Shame" President Donald Trump told reporters this week it "would be a shame" if The U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement doesn't pass through Congress. Speaking during a White House Press Conference, Trump said the fate of USCMA is "going to be a very interesting question." The White House earlier indicated this week that the impeachment effort by House Democrats "destroyed any chances of legislative progress." House Agriculture Committee Chair Collin Peterson warned the effort will be a "failed process," and worried about the chances of USMCA getting through Congress. However, some now say the impeachment effort may give the Trump administration more reason to work with Democrats on the agreement. Further, U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer indicated earlier this week he was confident the trade agreement could rise above the toxic political climate. Lighthizer told Bloomberg News, “On the merits, this is demonstrably good for the people of the United States. And I think, for that reason, it will pass.” Lighthizer was scheduled to meet with House Democrats Friday. ************************************************************************************* Tester Introduces Mental Health Bill for Farmers A bill introduced by Senator John Tester seeks to bring mental health resources and awareness to rural communities. The Montana Democrat this week introduced the Seeding Rural Resilience Act to help reduce stress and suicides in rural America. While Tester says, “there is no silver bullet,” he says the bill “provides better tools and resources for folks in rural communities to manage and reduce stress." Data from the Center for Disease Control shows the suicide rate is 45 percent higher in rural America than in urban areas. Tester says Americans in rural communities deal with substantial isolation, significant travel times for basic health services, lack of broadband access that would enable tele-health services, and stigmas against receiving counseling. The bill would provide Department of Agriculture employees voluntary stress management training, and for a partnership with Department of Health to create a $3 million public awareness campaign, and direct the Agriculture Secretary to work with stakeholders to identify the best practices for responding to farm and ranch mental stress. ************************************************************************************* House Passes Bill Allowing Cannabis Industry Access to Banks The House of Representative this week passed a bill allowing banks to work with the cannabis industry. Known as the SAFE Banking Act, the Secure and Fair Enforcement Act of 2019 passed 321 to 103. However, with a mostly party-line vote in the Democrat-led chamber, the legislation faces an uncertain future in the Republican-led Senate. Sponsored by Representative Ed Perlmutter, (pearl-mutter) a Colorado Democrat, the bill allows marijuana-related businesses in states with some form of legalized marijuana and strict regulatory structures to access the banking system. Perlmutter notes that 47 states, four U.S. territories, and the District of Columbia, representing 97.7 percent of the U.S. population, have legalized some form of recreational or medical marijuana, including CBD oil. The bill was co-authored by Representatives Denny Heck, a Washington Democrat, and Steve Stivers, an Ohio Republican. Mike Crapo (cray-poh), a Republican Senator from Idaho who serves as the Senate Banking Chairman, told reporters he wants the Senate to vote on the measure in the coming month. However, Crapo says he does not support the bill. ************************************************************************************* Kind Introduces CURD Act to Protect Quality of Cheese A bipartisan bill introduced by a dairy country lawmaker would create a formal definition of “natural cheese” to ensure consumers are fully informed when purchasing cheese. Representative Ron Kind, a Democrat from Wisconsin, this week introduced the bipartisan Codifying Useful Regulatory Definitions Act, called the CURD Act. Kind says the bill “will give customers the information they need to continue buying the quality Wisconsin cheese their families have used for generations.” The Wisconsin Cheese Makers Association says the legislation “preserves our industry’s ability to use this term to describe cheese made naturally with fresh milk and dairy ingredients.” Cheesemakers have been using this term for decades to differentiate “Natural Cheese” from “Pasteurized Process Cheese” in the grocery store. The term “natural cheese” is historically used to identify cheeses made directly from milk and distinguish those products from pasteurized process cheeses. It describes cheese that is made from milk to which salt, enzymes, and flavorings can be added, and is the result of the fermentation of milk by adding starter culture. ************************************************************************************* Grocery Manufacturers Association to Rebrand in 2020 The Grocery Manufacturers Association announced this week it will become the Consumer Brands Association, effective January 2020. The new identity is part of a sweeping overhaul of the 110-year old trade organization, led by President and CEO Geoff Freeman and the GMA board of directors. Leaders of the organization say GMA’s new advocacy agenda represents the broader interests of a modern consumer packaged goods company by focusing on four core pillars, enhancing packaging sustainability, championing smart regulation, creating frictionless supply chains and building trust, while also advancing a narrative about the industry’s social and economic impact. The organization faced controversy during the GMO labeling debate, along with labeling issues regarding added sugars. In 2017, several high-profile member-companies left the organization because of those issues. The trade organization has already begun to advance its strategic priorities. This summer, it released the industry’s first-ever economic study, which found the industry supports more than 20 million American jobs and contributes $2 trillion to the country’s GDP. ************************************************************************************* Farm Bureau Extends Rural Ag Innovation Challenge Application Deadline Rural entrepreneurs have until mid-October to apply for the Farm Bureau Ag Innovation Challenge. The American Farm Bureau Federation, in partnership with Farm Credit, will accept applications for the 2020 Farm Bureau Ag Innovation Challenge through October 14. In its sixth year, the Farm Bureau Ag Innovation Challenge is a national business competition for U.S. food and agriculture startups. Entrepreneurs will compete for $145,000 in startup funds. The funds for the challenge are provided by sponsors Farm Credit, John Deere, Bayer Crop Science, Farm Bureau Bank and Country Financial. AFBF President Zippy Duvall says, "It takes faith, courage and creativity to start a business," adding that the funds in the challenge can help entrepreneurs "take their businesses to the next level." Ten semi-finalist teams will be announced on November 22 and awarded $10,000 each. The ten teams will at the 2020 AFBF Annual Convention in Austin, Texas, in January. Competitors can apply online at www.fb.org.

| Rural Advocate News | Friday September 27, 2019 |


Washington Insider: US, Japan Trade Deal Signed Despite earlier concerns regarding possible U.S. tariffs on Japan’s auto exports to the U.S., Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and U.S. President Donald Trump signed a trade agreement this week that removed that threat for now, Bloomberg — and others — are reporting. Akio Toyoda, president of the Japan Automobile Manufacturers Association and the chief executive officer of Toyota Motor Corp., told Trade Minister Isshu Sugawara that he welcomed the pact. However, he was reported as noting that the industry “faces extremely difficult challenges,” citing a stronger yen, an impending hike in sales tax and other uncertainties and hopes for continued support for the sector. In the months leading up to the deal, Toyoda had pushed for the interests of Japan’s $260 billion automobile industry, using unusually sharp language to rebuff earlier U.S. threats of auto tariffs. Under the new agreement, Japan will eliminate or reduce import duties on $7.2 billion of U.S. food and agricultural products, while the U.S. will retain its existing 2.5% tariff on cars and light trucks. “The pact maintains and strengthens the free and fair trade environment in the auto industry between Japan and U.S., and we welcome that,” Toyoda said. “The discussion toward avoiding further tariffs is very beneficial for stakeholders in both countries.” During the negotiations, the association had stressed the fact that Japan’s auto industry has 24 factories, 45 research-and-development or design centers and 39 distribution centers in 28 U.S. states. Japanese carmakers have invested more than $50 billion in manufacturing facilities and provide more than 93,000 direct American jobs, the group said. Japan has faced sharp criticism from the administration for the fact that it has accounted for more than a quarter of the $208.8 billion deficit the U.S. ran with the rest of the world in the trading of passenger vehicles and auto parts last year, Bloomberg said. Bloomberg and others also noted that the agreement is “limited” and covered what U.S. trade officials called the “first stage” and “early achievements.” However, President Trump told reporters that he expects “in the fairly near future” that the U.S. will have “final comprehensive deals signed with Japan.” Bloomberg repeats that the main “sticking point” in the more than year-long talks was Abe’s need for a guarantee that the U.S. will not impose “national security tariffs” on imported Japanese automobiles and auto parts. “Trump doesn’t intend to levy the duties on Japan for the time being,” U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer said. Bloomberg cited U.S. election year politics as important in the agreement reached, and called the U.S. president “eager to make a deal with Japan to appease U.S. farmers who have been largely shut out of the Chinese market as a result of his trade war with Beijing.” American agricultural producers, also reeling from bad weather and low commodity prices, are a core component of the president’s political base. The president said the agreement, which also covers a $40 billion digital trade agreement, would help reduce a chronic U.S. trade deficit. The countries’ goal is for the accord to go into force on Jan. 1, 2020. Abe said he was pleased with the deal and said that it will help “bring benefit to everyone in Japan as well in the United States, namely consumers, producers, as well as workers.” “I confirmed clearly with President Trump that the content of the agreement is intended to mean that extra tariffs will not be imposed on Japan’s cars or car parts and President Trump agreed on that,” Abe told reporters. Foreign Minister Toshimitsu Motegi, Tokyo’s point man in the trade talks, said he had also confirmed with Lighthizer that no quotas or voluntary restraints would be imposed on Japan’s auto sector. In the longer term, the U.S. agreed to remove existing tariffs on the sector, according to a statement issued by the Japanese government, but no time line was given for this. Bloomberg noted that the new pact won’t lower the barriers protecting Japan’s rice farmers — a powerful group supporting Abe’s ruling Liberal Democratic Party. This could help the prime minster smooth the deal’s course through parliament, where it must be ratified before coming into effect. However, Senator Ron Weyden, D-Ore., the ranking member on the Finance Committee, criticized the narrow scope of the agreement. “The agriculture deal is not a comprehensive one and there is much more to do to level the playing field in Japan for American workers, businesses, farmers and ranchers.” Senator Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, who chairs the Finance Committee, told reporters that he’s happy with the deal, but added, “I think the negotiations ought to be more comprehensive than just for agriculture.” The President noted that this limited deal would not require a vote by Congress. So, the new pact is good news for those producers whose products are included, but reflects no immediate change for others. However, it would seem to reflect a reduction in emphasis the administration is placing on the use of tariffs to improve the U.S. trade balance, a metric many analysts regard as “unreliable” in evaluations of important U.S. overseas markets, Washington Insider believes.

| Rural Advocate News | Friday September 27, 2019 |


RFA Rebukes EPA’s Wheeler on View Refiner Exemptions Don’t Cut Biofuel Demand Congressional testimony by EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler September 19 before a House committee have prompted the Renewable Fuels Association (RFA) to again criticize the EPA leader. Wheeler testified to the House Science, Space & Technology Committee that small refinery exemptions (SREs) have had no impact on U.S. biofuel demand. “Several statements made during the hearing about ethanol supply and demand are inconsistent with government data and market intelligence,” RFA President and CEO Geoff Cooper said in a September 25 letter to Wheeler. Cooper cited U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA) data showing U.S. ethanol consumption fell from 14.485 billion gallons in 2017 to 14.382 billion gallons in 2018 – the first year-over-year decline in over 20 years. The drop in ethanol demand came despite gasoline demand remaining essentially steady from 2017 to 2018. Plus, the latest EIA projections peg U.S. ethanol consumption at just 14.38 billion gallons for 2019, down from their forecast of 14.82 billion gallons that was made in January 2018 – before 2016 and 2017 SREs had been issued by EPA. In their updated outlook for ethanol consumption in 2019, EIA said that outlook “…assumes growth in higher-level ethanol blends is limited in the near-term by recent Small Refinery Exemptions that reduced volumes of renewable fuels required under the RFS.”

| Rural Advocate News | Friday September 27, 2019 |


China Notes Soy, Pork Buys from US Are Without Duties Details are still under discussion between the U.S. and China on high-level trade talks set for early October, according to China’s Commerce Ministry. China is hopeful of making progress at the talks, Commerce Ministry spokesman Gao Feng said, pointing out that Chinese firms have made significant buys of U.S. pork and soybeans, purchases that are exempt from tariffs. "We hope both sides can work together and take tangible actions to create favorable conditions for such cooperation," Gao said. He also reiterated a China view that they hope the U.S. will meet China half-way and find a win-win solution in the trade dispute. China could buy even more U.S. farm products, according to Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi in New York. Asked by Reuters about the potential for more purchases, he said China would be willing to do so on products “needed by the Chinese market.”

| Rural Advocate News | Friday September 27, 2019 |


Friday Watch List Markets Weather will be of interest through the weekend with winter storms in Alberta and rain expected across the Northern Plains and central Midwest. Reports of U.S. durable goods orders and personal incomes are due out at 7:30 a.m. CDT, followed by a consumer sentiment index at 9 a.m. USDA's quarterly hogs and pigs report is set for 2 p.m. CDT with a 4% increase expected for all hogs. Weather Moderate to heavy rain is in store for the central Midwest Friday, disrupting harvest and threatening a new round of flooding. We'll also see light rain in the northern Plains ahead of a stormy weekend with rain and snow. Southern and southeastern areas will be dry and very warm to hot. Drought is building in the far Southern Plains, Delta, southeastern Midwest, and the Southeast.

| Rural Advocate News | Thursday September 26, 2019 |


U.S. and Japan Sign Trade Agreement The U.S. and Japan have signed a trade agreement. President Donald Trump says the two sides have agreed to the first phase of the deal. The agreement is not finished enough to be signed, but the two sides signed a statement explaining the agreement is to be signed. Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue called the agreement a “big win” for agriculture, as the deal increases market access for farmers and ranchers to Japan. Once implemented, the agreement grants the U.S. the same level of agricultural tariffs for other nations included in the Comprehensive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership. USDA says Japan has committed to provide substantial market access to U.S. food and agricultural products by eliminating tariffs, enacting meaningful tariff reductions, or allowing a specific quantity of imports at a low duty. The agreement is expected to be approved by the Japanese Parliament later this fall. The effective date could be January 1, 2020. Japan is the third global market for U.S. agricultural exports with nearly $13 billion in exports in 2018. ************************************************************************************* Farm Groups Welcome Japan Agreement Agriculture groups say the intent to sign a final agreement with Japan will increase market access for U.S. farmers. The U.S. Grains Council says the first phase of the agreement signed Wednesday show that the agreement would bring commodities the organization represents largely back in line with the Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement. National Corn Growers Association President Lynn Chrisp says, “with many farmers struggling amid challenging times in agriculture, this is very welcome news.” The U.S. Meat Export Federation called the announcement "excellent news for U.S. farmers and ranchers,” noting Japan is the largest value destination for U.S. pork and beef exports, estimated at $3.7 billion last year. American Farm Bureau Federation President Zippy Duvall says the announcement is “a positive step for America’s farmers and ranchers.” Duvall says AFBF is “thankful” for the agreement, and urges “trade negotiators to achieve many more like it.” Duvall added, “The time for trade wars has come and gone,” saying farmers and ranchers “need to get back to doing what they do best,” feeding the world. ************************************************************************************ Impeachment Inquiry Could Dampen Chances of USMCA House Democrats seeking to impeach President Donald Trump spells trouble for the U.S.-Mexico-Canada agreement. White House officials claim the effort has “destroyed any chances of legislative progress.” Meanwhile, Iowa Republican Senator Chuck Grassley says if Democrats in the House use impeachment proceedings as a basis to not act on policy, the effort will halt progress on USMCA. Grassley says Congress “must step up and deliver” a finalized agreement for agriculture and other industries. House Agriculture Committee Chairman Collin Peterson, a Minnesota Democrat, says he believed the inquiry will be “a failed process.” Peterson worries the impeachment effort will further divide the country, “weakening our ability to act together on issues like passing USMCA.” Representative Richard Neal, a Democrat from Massachusetts who chairs the House USMCA working group, says he won’t let the impeachment process hinder progress on USCMA. However, Neal in a statement did say he “strongly backs” the call for formal impeachment by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi. ************************************************************************************* Livestock Producers Describe Trade Headwinds to Congress Livestock groups told the Senate Agriculture Committee they need certainty in trade. During a hearing Wednesday, groups including the National Cattlemen's Beef Association and the National Pork Producers Council urged lawmakers to approve the U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement quickly. NCBA President Jennifer Houston says the U.S. needs to pass USMCA to "send a message to the rest of the world that the United States is open for business." Agriculture groups focused on other trade needs, including finalizing negotiations with Japan and China. A pork industry representative from NPPC told lawmakers the U.S. is missing out "on an unprecedented sales opportunity." Punitive tariffs have cost U.S. producers $8 per animal, or $1 billion last year, according to the organization. Affordable pork is in short supply in China because African swine fever has ravaged the Chinese hog herd and significantly reduced the production of pork. NPPC says “we need to remove market access uncertainty and level the playing field in the world's largest pork-consuming nation.” ************************************************************************************* EPA Granted Waivers Against Energy Department Recommendations The Environmental Protection Agency granted some small refinery waivers against recommendations by the Department of Energy. Reuters obtained an August 9 memo that states the EPA granted “full exemptions for those 2018 small refinery petitions where the Department of Energy recommended 50 percent relief.” The waivers allow the EPA to exempt small refineries from complying with the Renewable Fuel Standard if the refineries can prove compliance would cause economic hardship. The memo did not specify how many refineries were involved. Biofuels producers and farmers are waiting for the White House to announce a mitigation plan for the waivers. President Donald Trump has promised a “giant package” for farmers to boost the ethanol market. Many expect the plan will reallocate lost biofuels due to the waivers. The 31 small-refinery exemptions granted by the EPA for 2018 amounted to about 1.6 billion gallons taken away from ethanol and biofuel use. Ethanol plants are stopping production, claiming the waivers are eroding demand for biofuels in the United States. ************************************************************************************* Gates Foundation Supports Small-Scale Food Producers in Climate Adaptation The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation this week announced $790 million to help small-scale food producers adapt to climate change. The funds stem from a partnership between the foundation, the World Bank and others. The group says climate change “is already taking a severe toll on farmers, especially in developing countries.” The commitment follows the recently released report from the Global Commission on Adaptation that calls for global leadership to accelerate adaptation. The Commission finds that investing in adaptation “can yield significant economic, environmental and social benefits.” The funds will support the organization CGIAR (C-G-I-A-R) formally called the Consultative Group for International Agricultural Research. The funds will assist the organization in developing innovations that will help smallholder farmers “improve their livelihoods and build resilience in the face of climate change.” CGIAR is self-described as a global partnership that unites international organizations engaged in research for a food-secured future. The global organization was founded in 1971 as an effort to reduce poverty and hunger.

| Rural Advocate News | Thursday September 26, 2019 |


Washington Insider: Tensions at the Economic Research Service A political fight at USDA that has spanned decades has broken out once again, and seems as controversial as ever, Politico is reporting this week. It involves the former Bureau of Agricultural Economics and its modern derivative, the Economic Research Service. Most reports about ERS history see 1961 as its beginning but its roots go back much further, even to the 1905 Office of Farm Management – which later became the Bureau of Agricultural Economics. That bureau was charged with analyzing USDA’s depression-era programs and became USDA’s “central planning agency” for policy and analysis of policy impacts. In 1953, the incoming administration shifted BAE’s policy planning efforts to an administrative office and reassigned most of its research to operating agencies. It was reestablished as a separate agency, the Economic Research Service, in 1961 where it has operated since. The agency sees its responsibility as conducting sound, peer-reviewed economic research – including the anticipation of issues that are on the horizon, as well as a broad range of statistical indicators that gauge the health of the ag and rural sector. These are used by the White House and other USDA agencies and many others across the nation. Most of the agency’s work is conducted in Washington, DC – its 2018 activities report said that it had no field staff. Recently Trump administration began to shift many of the ERS positions and a few others to Kansas City, a decision that has been highly unpopular in ERS – Politico says it led to “mass attrition.” A key aspect of the move is whether or not it will interfere with important agency functions. Now Politico says the agency is warning USDA officials that the move could lead to “significant delays in vital research reports.” Politico says the internal USDA memo was drafted for planning purposes and identifies some 38 specific reports that may be delayed “because staff members have departed,” and which include research on topics such as consolidation in the dairy industry, food security among veterans, international agricultural market access and others. Some reports may even be discontinued, such as those that calculate “price spreads,” the share of food dollars that goes to farmers. Asked to comment on the internal document, a USDA spokesperson told Politico that "ERS has taken important action to ensure mission continuity and delivery of mission critical work throughout the transition and as a result, the agency is on track to complete its congressionally mandated projects. Separately, the union for the agency’s employees estimates that only 19 out of 280 employees have chosen to move, just 7 percent of total staff. USDA has a deadline of Sept. 30 for current employees to change their status and those "numbers are changing daily," Politico said. Since the move was announced in August of last year, 88 employees left the agency and 50 staffers chose to retire, according to the union. Forty-four employees were granted special accommodations allowing them to temporarily keep working in Washington, such as via telework or an extension to their report date in the new office space. A reported 79 employees will stay in DC to carry out operations deemed "core" by USDA, Politico said. USDA says it is actively recruiting for more than 100 positions for the agencies affected by the move. Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue has defended the move as a means to cut costs, improve recruitment and retention of staff and bring USDA closer to farming communities. USDA claims that the relocation would save about $20 million per year over 15 years. But several employees and former officials dispute that estimate and suggest the department ordered the relocation to stifle research that contradicts the administration's agenda. Congress is set to confront the issue during conferences of the fiscal 2020 spending bills. The House bill blocks the department from carrying out the move while the Senate measure provides $25 million in relocation funds. An investigation by USDA's inspector general released this summer suggested that the department may have broken the law by not obtaining congressional approval before relocating two research agencies out of Washington, Politico says. Many commodity and trade-related outlook products are expected to be released on time, the internal memo states. But most outlook reports “will be shortened if key staff depart before new hires are trained and if secure IT connections preclude remote participation” in the World Agricultural Supply and Demand Estimates report, an important forecast of market conditions for major crops and livestock. A current ERS employee, granted anonymity out of fear of retribution, told POLITICO that cellphone service and Wi-Fi access was cut off several weeks ago. Photos have been removed from office walls and personal trash cans were taken as well, the staffer said. So, this political fight continues and likely will intensify. The Economic Research Service is a highly regarded operation, responsible for important studies and analyses. At the same time, USDA notes that many offices of other agencies such as the Forest Service and the Bureau of Land Management – among many others – have highly decentralized operations. However, producers should watch closely to insure that the Department does not, in fact, cut back on important services as opponents of the ERS location shift change is happening, Washington Insider believes.

| Rural Advocate News | Thursday September 26, 2019 |


Mixed Signals Continue from Trump on China Trade Deal Prospects President Donald Trump Wednesday again shifted his commentary on the U.S.-China trade situation, proclaiming that an agreement between the two sides could come faster than most think. "They want to make a deal very badly... It could happen sooner than you think," Trump told reporters in New York. He said China was trying to be nice to him and added to reporters: “I was nice to them.” Later on Wednesday, Trump commented, "We're having some very good conversations.” He continued his positive tone, stating, "China is starting to buy our agricultural product again. They’re starting to go with the beef and all of the different things, pork, very big on pork." But as he has shown previously, he followed up by commenting, “The question is, do we want to make a deal?” His Wednesday remarks stand in contrast to the harsh words he delivered at the UN on Tuesday. “Not only has China declined to adopt promised reforms, it has embraced an economic model dependent on massive market barriers, heavy state subsidies, currency manipulation, product dumping, forced technology transfers and the theft of intellectual property and also trade secrets on a grand scale,” Trump said. So the U.S.-China trade situation continues to marked by comments that at times are positive only to be followed by up remarks that quickly dampen hopes this trade issue is going to be resolved soon

| Rural Advocate News | Thursday September 26, 2019 |


US and Japan Ink Partial Trade, Boosting US Ag Access President Donald Trump and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe signed a trade deal that covers agriculture and digital trade between the two countries in New York. But the agreement does not cover a huge portion of the U.S.-Japan relationship – autos. Under the agreement, some $7.2 billion in U.S. ag goods will get improved access to the Japanese market, access equal to what would have resulted from the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) agreement. After the deal is in place, more than 90 percent of U.S. ag goods will be able to go to Japan with more-favorable terms. As for autos, that was kept out of the agreement. The issue had become a sticking point and prompted some downbeat expectations Tuesday for success. But jettisoning auto provisions helped seal the agreement signed by the two leaders in New York. Most U.S. ag groups welcomed the deal and several indicated they looked forward to being on the same page as supplier from other countries that are part of the successor to TPP.

| Rural Advocate News | Thursday September 26, 2019 |


Thursday Watch List Markets Weekly jobless claims and GDP numbers will be out on Thursday morning. We will also be watching for export sales, and confirmation of any new soybean sales to China, and any new details regarding the new U.S.-Japan trade deal signed on Wednesday. Weather A few thundershowers will move from the southeast Plains across the northern Delta Thursday and Thursday night but these look to be light. Light to moderate rain will develop across the southern Canadian Prairies and northernmost areas of the Northern Plains during this time. Mainly dry elsewhere in the key U.S. growing areas Thursday. Temperatures below normal in the west and central Canadian Prairies, near to above normal northern US, above normal southern U.S.

| Rural Advocate News | Wednesday September 25, 2019 |


U.S., Japan Hit Sticking Point in Negotiations U.S. President Donald Trump is hoping to sign a limited bilateral trade deal with Japan when he’s face-to-face with Prime Minister Shinzo Abe (AH-bay) on Wednesday at the U.N General Assembly. However, Japanese officials are pushing for a provision that the U.S. won’t like. Politico says Japan wants a provision in the agreement that would allow them to “blow up the agreement” and slap retaliatory tariffs on U.S. farm goods if President Trump moves forward with tariffs on automobiles from Japan. Multiple sources who are familiar with the negotiations tell Politico that the request is putting a speed bump in the final stages of the talks. Negotiators are looking to give Japan a full exemption from Trump’s tariff threats. However, Japanese officials are said to “remain cautious” about reassurances from Washington. This pact with Japan is a big priority for U.S. agriculture. Farm exporters say they’re losing market share to competitors like Australia, Canada, and the European Union. Competitors continue to benefit from greater access to the lucrative Japanese market. ********************************************************************************************** More Optimism for Upcoming Talks Between China and the U.S. The Chinese Vice Premier, who’s leading China’s efforts in the trade talks with the United States, will be back in Washington next week. An Agri-Pulse report says he’ll be across the table from U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer. Earlier this week on the sidelines of the United Nation’s General Assembly in New York, U.S. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin (Muh-NOO-chin) said, “We’re looking forward to those conversations.” Deputy Ag Secretary Steve Censky spoke in Kansas City on Monday during the annual Ag Outlook Forum. He said the conversations that took place last week with Chinese officials were “positive and productive.” Several media reports say Chinese buyers purchased between 600,000 and 1.5 million metric tons of U.S. soybeans on Monday for delivery between October and December. The U.S. Soybean Export Council reports that China relaxed import tariffs for the purchases to make sense, given a price spread that favored U.S. soybeans. Additionally, Mnuchin admitted Monday that it was a White House decision to call off a planned trip a Chinese delegation was going to take to Montana and Nebraska this week. Mnuchin said officials “didn’t want any confusion around the trade issues.” ********************************************************************************************** Chinese Demand Pushing Meat Prices Higher China has recently been buying a lot of meat. The Wall Street Journal says their recent purchases are pushing up the prices of beef, pork, and poultry around the globe. Meat buyers are increasing their activity after African Swine Fever hit the country hard and reduced the size of the world’s largest pig herd by more than a third. Domestic pork prices have jumped in China and meat imports are rising in response and placing a strain on global meat supplies. For example, Brazil poultry shipments to China have jumped 31 percent compared to last year. Retail prices for chicken breasts, thighs, and legs have increased roughly 16 percent. European meat buyers are paying five percent more for pork because more of their domestically produced supplies are heading to China. American shoppers haven’t felt the impact yet, but that may change. Futures prices recently rose after Chinese officials say the country could exempt some U.S. pork and other agricultural goods from punitive tariff increases. Many American meat companies have watched as European and South American competitors have raced each other to supply China’s pork needs. ********************************************************************************************** U.S. Biofuel Industry is Still Waiting Despite meetings last week at the White House, the waiting is continuing for the biofuels industry. No new details have emerged on the possible reallocation of lost biofuels in the nation’s fuel supply. USDA Deputy Secretary Steve Censky (SEHN-skee) announced on Monday that the administration isn’t ready to give out details on potential changes in volume obligations to offset lost demand due to the Environmental Protection Agency’s small-refinery RFS waiver exemptions. Censky says the administration wants to ensure that potential policy changes will meet the blend level requirements under the Renewable Fuels Standard. Censky spoke at the Ag Outlook Forum in Kansas City. He says the next steps on any plan coming out of the White House will be taken by Larry Kudlow, the White House Economic Council Director. Censky says he doesn’t have any specific timeframe in mind yet for an announcement. “I’d love to have it sooner than later,” he says. “I think that farmers, as well as the biofuel community would love to have that kind of certainty announced soon. That’s what we’re advocating.” The 31 small-refinery exemptions granted by the EPA amounted to about 1.6 billion gallons taken away from ethanol and biofuel use. ********************************************************************************************** HungerU Launches College Tour to Share Ag Story This year’s class of HungerU (Hunger You) ambassadors are getting ready to launch a tour of colleges around the country. The preparation work included a day of educational presentations in Washington, D.C. For those who don’t know, HungerU, a Farm Journal Foundation program, is an educational and advocacy platform designed to engage university student populations around the country. A central purpose of HungerU is to communicate outside the agricultural bubble with future influencers, including voters, consumers, and community leaders. The goal is to educate people on the central and necessary role that modern agriculture plays in creating affordable, wholesome food for everyone. This year’s college tour focuses on the Mid-Atlantic states. Just a few of the schools include George Washington University, Howard University, the University of Pennsylvania, and more. This year’s ambassador team combines expertise in areas such as nutrition, communications, gardening, and many more. Additionally, this year’s fall tour marks the third year of the National Corn Growers Association’s partnership in the program ********************************************************************************************* Food and Farm Facts Now Available to Tell the Story of Agriculture The new Farm and Food Facts book, map, and pocket guide are now available. The information is produced by the American Farm Bureau Foundation for Agriculture. “Food and Farm Facts provides the opportunity to share the story of agriculture,” says Foundation Chair Zippy Duvall. “It talks about the how and why farmers do what they do to produce food, fiber, and renewable fuel. I hope it also puts into perspective how blessed we are to be Americans.” Food and Farm Facts will help answer questions like, “Where does our food come from and who grows it?” The 32-page, full-color book features updated facts and easy-to-read infographics that can be used in a variety of ways to help increase agricultural literacy. The Farm Bureau Foundation says the book will be a valuable resource in the classroom, at fairs and events, for student leadership organizations, and on social media.

| Rural Advocate News | Wednesday September 25, 2019 |


Washington Insider: Concerns About US, Japan Trade Deal The urban media is intensely interested in trade policy now, especially the talks with China but also with Japan. Thus, it was a modest surprise when the New York Times and others reported on Tuesday that the U.S. and Japan may fall short of signing a new deal this week, as negotiators from both countries grapple with how to resolve the U.S. threat to place tariffs on cars from Japan. However, reports late Tuesday afternoon indicated the two sides had completed their negotiations. The two countries had been working toward finishing a “limited” deal this week, as both President Donald Trump and Prime Minister Shinzo Abe of Japan prepare to appear side by side at the UN General Assembly meeting in New York. The key holdup had been the U.S. threat to tax cars imported from Japan. The threatened levies would be similar to those already placed on steel and aluminum imported from Japan, Europe and other nations. NYT says the President has long seen the threat to tax cars, which make up more than one-third of U.S. imports from Japan, as a source of leverage that has brought Japan to the trade negotiating table. But that threat — and the U.S. administration’s “mercurial negotiating strategy” — has also become an obstacle to the deal’s resolution, the Times said. Japan is seeking a firm commitment from the administration not to tax its cars and is pushing to include a “sunset clause” that would cause the deal — and any benefits it has delivered to American agricultural producers — to expire if the U.S. follows through on its car tax threats. The impasse raises questions about whether the United States and Japan will be able to finish the deal in the near future, in time for the Japanese legislature to consider it when it convenes next month. The prospective deal was expected to reduce barriers to American exports of beef, pork and wheat, helping to shore up administration political support for U.S. farmers who have been badly hurt by his trade war with China, the Times said. In return, the United States would drop its barriers to Japanese machinery and chemicals and both sides would sign onto new standards for e-commerce and other digital trade. After meeting with Abe at the summit of global leaders in France in August, Trump said that the United States and Japan had reached an agreement “in principle.” Last week, his administration sent a notification to Congress that it intended to enter into an agreement in the coming weeks. Unlike a traditional trade agreement, which would cover nearly all sectors of the economy, the proposed Japan deal would be confined to a few sectors and products. But it would be an important political talking point for the president who has struggled to make progress in trade talks with China and has not persuaded congressional Democrats to pass the revised North American trade deal. It could also help mollify American farmers and ranchers, who have complained about the administration decision to pull the U.S. from the Trans-Pacific Partnership, a multi-country trade deal that included Japan. The president argued then he could secure better trade terms for American farmers through bilateral talks. While Japan initially resisted administration requests for one-on-one negotiations on trade, the threat of auto tariffs brought Japan to the negotiating table to discuss a more limited agreement. The administration determined this year that automobile imports posed a threat to U.S. national security by eroding its industrial base that also supplies its military. That allowed the president to impose tariffs on foreign cars and car parts as he has done on imports of steel and aluminum, including from Japan. But in May the administration postponed that decision an additional six months as it continued to negotiate trade agreements with both Japan and the European Union. One of Japan’s main priorities has been a guarantee that its cars will not be hit by such a tax. Daniel C. Sneider, a lecturer in East Asian studies at Stanford University, said inserting a clause into the deal that would withdraw Japan’s concession on agriculture if U.S. taxes cars “is a very clever solution to their problem.” He added current tensions at least in part arise from the perception that the administration “cannot be trusted” but that the Japanese cannot say that in public. So, we will see. The proposed deals awaiting approval are very important for both economic and political reasons. However, the debates over approval likely will continue to be contentious and should be watched closely by producers as they evolve, Washington Insider believes.

| Rural Advocate News | Wednesday September 25, 2019 |


Grassley Blasts Delay in Biofuels Announcement Patience on a biofuels announcement from the Trump administration is running thin with Sen. Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa. “This agreement we have with the White House, it is 15 billion gallons, why isn't that the end of it?” Grassley told reporters on a weekly call. "Let's either do our job or get off the pot. Let's call this thing to an end. We ought to have this paper from the EPA yesterday.” Grassley has talked about an apparent agreement reached during a meeting at the White House some two weeks ago in which the Small Refinery Exemptions (SREs) would still be granted by EPA, but the agency would account for those in setting biofuel levels under the RFS. “This is hurting the president more in Iowa than even the China debate,” Grassley said. “I think farmers have patience with China, the negotiations going on with China. They know China has been cheating. What they do not understand is, they are promised 15 billion gallons of ethanol to be used, but get 13.6 [billion gallons].” EPA data shows that as of September 19, there have been 42 SREs requested, with 31 granted, six were denied, three were withdrawn or declared ineligible and two are listed as still pending.

| Rural Advocate News | Wednesday September 25, 2019 |


US-China Talks Set for Week of October 7 Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin initially said Monday that U.S.-China trade talks with Vice Premier Liu He would take place next week in Washington, but later revised his statement to say that it would be the week of October 7. “I think it is not next week but the following week we will be having those talks,” Mnuchin said in an interview with Fox Business Network, adding that deputy-level negotiations last week had made some progress in easing trade tensions. Some people closely following the talks said they expect the confab to take place October 10-11. “We look forward to those conversations,” Mnuchin said Monday on the sidelines of the United Nations General Assembly in New York. “The president has been very clear: if we can get the right deal, he wants the deal,” Mnuchin said. “If we cannot get the right deal, he is happy with the tariffs.” Mnuchin also said the U.S. had requested China postpone visits to U.S. farms in Montana and Nebraska this week, a development which raised anxiety about the trade talks. Word that the talks are scheduled has eased some concerns on the U.S.-China trade front, but have not totally removed concerns given the history of how quickly this issue can shift.

| Rural Advocate News | Wednesday September 25, 2019 |


Wednesday Watch List Markets The U.S. Census Bureau starts the day with a report of new home sales for August at 9 a.m. CDT, followed by the Energy Department's weekly reports of energy inventories at 9:30 a.m. U.S. ethanol inventory is included and showed an increase to 23.2 million barrels last week. Weather forecasts remain closely watched with row crops getting closer to harvest in southern states. Weather Light to moderate rain will cross the southern and eastern Midwest Wednesday. Dry conditions will be in place elsewhere. Temperatures will be seasonal to above normal north and central and hot south. A new storm system is indicated for northern and western crop areas during the coming weekend.

| Rural Advocate News | Tuesday September 24, 2019 |


Washington Insider: Congress Struggles Ahead of Coming Recess The Hill and other media are reporting this week that the Congress is working under pressure to pass a continuing resolution to fund the government through Nov. 21 before it leaves town. The House already passed its stop-gap bill and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., has started the process of bringing it to the Senate floor, but it hasn’t been scheduled yet for a vote. McConnell acknowledged earlier that a short-term bill would be needed to avoid an end-of-September shutdown and that a temporary continuing resolution for the outstanding parts of the government will be needed before that time. However, he hasn’t yet weighed in on the House-passed CR, which was unveiled last Wednesday. In addition to funding the government, the bill would require USDA to provide state-by-state data on the effects of the president’s trade war. It also extends several health programs, the National Flood Insurance Program and authorizations for the Export-Import Bank. The decision to punt the government funding fight to later in the year comes amid other significant battles that loom over the fiscal 2020 bills. While the House passed 10 out of its 12 funding bills, many of them include “poison pills” inserted by Democrats meaning they won’t get taken up as is by the GOP-controlled Senate. The Senate, meanwhile, hasn’t passed any of its fiscal 2020 bills. Senate Democrats blocked an attempt by McConnell last week to bring the first funding package to the floor, which was expected to include funding for the Pentagon; the departments of Health and Human Services, Labor, and Education; the Energy Department and water development; and the State Department and foreign operations. Democrats opposed bringing up the bill because of frustration about the top-line spending numbers for all 12 bills. Those estimates were approved by the Appropriations Committee in a party-line vote but opposed by Democrats who believed that they included extra border money in the Department of Homeland Security bill to replace that diverted by the administration for the border wall. Democrats also opposed the Senate’s defense funding bill after Republicans objected to language that would prevent Trump from shifting military spending toward the wall without congressional sign off. “The appropriations process demands that Republicans and Democrats work together. If one party decides to go it alone, it can wreck the spirit of bipartisanship necessary to responsibly fund the government. Unfortunately, Republicans elected to depart from a bipartisan path early in the appropriations process this year,” said Senate Minority Leader Charles Schumer, D-N.Y. The Senate Appropriations Committee is scheduled to vote on four bills this week: interior and environment; commerce, justice and science; the legislative branch; and the Department of Homeland Security. The DHS bill is expected to spark a brawl in the committee because Republicans included money for the U.S.-Mexico border wall and because it covers lightning rod issues like Immigration and Customs Enforcement and detention beds. Senate Democrats could force a vote as soon as this week on a resolution to nix Trump’s emergency declaration on the wall. Congress previously voted to end the emergency declaration in February, but the House was unable to override the president’s veto. Under the National Emergencies Act, Democrats can force a vote on the resolution every six months. A bipartisan group of senators reintroduced the resolution on Sept. 11. Democrats are fuming after the Pentagon announced earlier this month it would be moving forward with its plan to redirect $3.6 billion in military funding toward the wall under the emergency declaration. Schumer said that Democrats would force a vote within the month, which would have to be this week before Congress leaves town. “The president’s national emergency declaration was, and is, an outrageous power grab by a president who refuses to respect the constitutional separation of powers,” Schumer said from the Senate floor at the time. House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer, D-Md., announced Friday that the House will take up two bills led by Democrats and aimed at improving "how the Department of Homeland Security oversees border issues in a humane and responsible manner, including the care of children." Both bills are expected to face an uphill battle in the Republican-controlled upper chamber. So, we will see. It appears that there is little support for a government shutdown just now, but the number of inflammatory issues is very large — and reluctance to push bi-partisan agreement appears to be fully woven into the partisan politicking ahead of the 2020 election. Producers should watch each of these fights very closely as they intensify over the coming days, Washington Insider believes.

| Rural Advocate News | Tuesday September 24, 2019 |


Biofuel Announcement Now on Hold as Trump Seeks Still More Info As last week closed, it appeared that issues relative to US biofuel policy had been settled and an announcement from the Trump administration was expected to come. That assessment came from sources in the wake of the meeting September 19 between President Donald Trump and senators representing refining interests. However, as this week opens, sources now indicate that Trump is seeking more perspective and options in the matter, reportedly bringing National Economic Council chief Larry Kudlow into the mix. Expectations were that the Trump administration was poised to announce that they would use a three-year average to reallocate Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) obligations that were covered by small refinery exemptions (SREs), starting with the 2020 compliance year. Coming out of the Thursday meeting, it appeared that refiner interests were likely to get a cap on prices for Renewable Identification Numbers (RINs), the credits refiners can buy to show compliance with the RFS. However, now that the matter has apparently been thrown open once again, the expectation for an announcement has turned to uncertain relative to the timing of any announcement from the Trump White House.

| Rural Advocate News | Tuesday September 24, 2019 |


US, China Label Deputy-Level Talks ‘Positive’ & ‘Constructive’ U.S. and Chinese deputy-level talks Thursday and Friday in Washington were labeled “positive” and “constructive” by both the U.S. and China in separate statements issued following the talks. The sessions were “aimed at improving the trade relationship between the two countries,” the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative (USTR) said in a statement. “These discussions were productive, and the United States looks forward to welcoming a delegation from China for principal-level meetings in October.” The China Daily reported the talks “discussed the trade issues in a constructive way. Moreover, the two countries also talked the specific arrangements for the 13th round of China-U.S. high-level economic and trade consultations in Washington DC in October. The two sides agreed to maintain communication on relevant issues.” President Donald Trump declared Friday that the U.S. would not accept an interim agreement on trade as the U.S. is “looking for a complete deal.” Speaking to reporters at a news conference Friday with Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison, Trump said China’s offer to boost purchases of U.S. agriculture exports alone is not enough to compel his administration to sign a deal. Intellectual-property theft, he added, remains an issue that must be resolved. As for the farm visits that were canceled, Han Jun, vice-minister at the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Affairs, said the canceled visit was due to a change in the itinerary of the team. "There was a good outcome from the negotiations in the agriculture area too. The two sides had thorough and candid communications," Han said, according to a report by state-backed Yicai news outlet.

| Rural Advocate News | Tuesday September 24, 2019 |


USMCA, China Trade Talks Advancing This Week Trade talks continue this week between the U.S. and China as the U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement inches closer to reality. President Donald Trump says talks last week between the U.S. and China "were very positive." Negotiations will continue this week ahead of high-level talks planned sometime next month. A Chinese delegation canceled U.S. farm visits last week, but apparently not because of the ongoing trade negotiations. Officials say the trips were canceled to avoid excessive media attention. Meanwhile, Democrats in the House of Representatives plan to submit a counterproposal to the White House this week on changes to USMCA, according to Politico. House Ways and Means Chairman Richard Neal says the USCMA working group would meet with U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer this week to “intensify the discussion.” Neal is hopeful the group and Lighthizer can “strike a deal soon,” that allows the House to vote on the agreement. Neal says the concerns raised by Democrats are not resolved but added the Trump administration has “made substantial progress.” ************************************************************************************* U.S. Dairy: Japan Trade Agreement Could Leave Dairy Behind Lawmakers representing dairy country say the trade agreement with Japan fails to level the playing field for U.S. dairy. Late last week, a group of lawmakers joined Representative Ron Kind, a Wisconsin Democrat, in a letter to U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer detailing the issue. The lawmakers say U.S. dairy will have “inferior access to the market compared to competitors,” like the European Union and signatories of the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership. The agreement fails to level the playing field for U.S. exports of cheese, butter, skim milk powder, ice cream and condensed milk, according to the lawmakers. The administration is required to consult with Congress when new trade agreement negotiations are happening in order to ensure any new agreement would include access for key agriculture sectors like dairy, according to the letter. However, “Those conversations never happened.” Representative Kind adds President Donald Trump “needs to stop using our farmers as pawns and start making trade deals that empower them.” ************************************************************************************* USCA: Successful USMCA Negotiation Will Include COOL The U.S. Cattlemen's Association is urging President Donald Trump to reinstate country-of-origin labeling for beef in the U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement. Though COOL failed to make it into the final text of the trade pact replacing the North American Free Trade Agreement, the organization says, “there is still an opportunity to address the unfair treatment of cattle and beef in this trade agreement.” The association sent the request to President Trump in a letter, stating, “The impact of a poor cattle market and decreasing live cattle prices coincide with the continued decline in America’s rural economy and the rising income disparity between rural and urban residents.” USCA President Kenny Graner states, "We respectfully request the inclusion of a country-of-origin labeling program for U.S. beef products within the context of USMCA.” The letter continues to say USMCA without COOL “deprives U.S. Cattle producers of the ability to differentiate their product in the market.” The letter follows a similar effort in early July by a coalition of freshman House members. ************************************************************************************* Senate Democrats: Withdraw SNAP Proposal Eliminating Categorical Eligibility A letter from 15 senators urges Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue to withdraw a proposal they say would take food assistance away from millions of families. The proposal would eliminate categorical eligibility under the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program. The 15 Democrats, including Debbie Stabenow of Michigan, say the rule would impact the "most vulnerable populations" in the U.S., including 13 percent of seniors currently receiving SNAP benefits. According to an analysis by Mathematica, at least 3.6 million SNAP participants will lose benefits as a result of the proposed rule. In the 2018 farm bill, the letter says Congress deliberately chose to exclude any changes to categorical eligibility due to the “devastating impact on families.” Additionally, the Senators raised concerns that the administration failed to conduct an accurate regulatory impact assessment. In a briefing to Congressional staff, USDA acknowledged that, at a minimum, 500,000 children would lose access to school meals. However, these impacts, among others, are not included in the required analysis. ************************************************************************************* Plant-Based Protein Market Projected at $40 billion in 2025 A market research study claims the plant-based protein market will be worth an estimated $40 billion by 2025. The report, published by MarketsandMarkets, says the sector is driven by the rising demand for so-called plant-based meat and healthy food products. Currently, the plant-based protein market is estimated at $18.5 billion. The $40 billion projection would represent a 14 percent growth rate. Researchers say public awareness regarding the increase in obesity levels due to unhealthy food consumption that includes packaged food, fast food, carbonated beverages, cold drinks, and excess consumption of animal meat has led to the demand for plant-based protein products. A significant increase in the usage of peas as a key ingredient is being noticed in the plant-based industry. The pea segment is projected to be the fastest-growing in the plant-based protein market during the forecast period. Pea protein is gaining popularity among plant-based protein manufacturers at a global level owing to its high protein content, and health benefits offered such as reduced cholesterol and lower blood pressure. ************************************************************************************* USDA Invests in Water and Wastewater Infrastructure Improvements in 25 States The Department of Agriculture Monday announced $144 million in rural water infrastructure improvements. USDA Rural Development provides loans and grants to help expand economic opportunities and create jobs in rural areas. Through the effort announced Monday, USDA will fund water projects in 25 states through 45 projects. The funds are authorized through the Water and Waste Disposal Loan and Grant program eligible applicants include rural cities and towns, and water districts. They can use the funds for drinking water, stormwater drainage and waste disposal systems in rural communities with 10,000 or fewer residents. Deputy undersecretary of rural development Donald LaVoy says "modern and reliable water and wastewater infrastructure systems are foundational to economic growth and quality of life in rural communities." One of the projects, $8.8 million for Winfield, West Virginia, will upgrade its wastewater treatment plant. USDA had $2.9 billion available for Water and Environmental Program loans and grants at the beginning of fiscal year 2019. For more information and a list of funded projects, visit www.rd.usda.gov.

| Rural Advocate News | Monday September 23, 2019 |


House Passes Continuing Resolution That Allows Aid Payments to Farmers On a bipartisan vote of 301 to 123, the House passed a continuing resolution that funds the government through November 21. The resolution includes a provision that will allow the Ag Department’s Commodity Credit Corporation to continue to make aid payments to farmers. That includes Market Facilitation Payments to help make up for export sales lost in recent trade wars. The Hagstrom Report says House leadership and USDA officials negotiated a provision that requires the Ag Department to report to Congress on the trade aid program. The bill goes to the Senate and is expected to be passed quickly. It then moves to President Trump’s desk for his signature. House Appropriations Chair Nita Lowey had initially left the CCC provision out of the bill but put it back in after getting pressure from both Republicans and Democrats. House Ag Committee Chair Collin Peterson is happy the assistance is continuing. “The call for more transparency in this program is a good one,” he says. “I appreciate USDA’s willingness to ensure that help gets out the door on time to the farmers who need it. At the same time, it allows taxpayers to see where the funds are going.” ********************************************************************************************** Chinese Delegation Heads Home Early Chinese trade negotiators did an about-face on Friday, canceling a visit to meet U.S. farmers after they wrapped up trade talks in Washington last week. A CNBC article says the Chinese delegation is headed back to China earlier than planned. Nicole Rolf, director of national affairs with the Montana Farm Bureau, says there wasn’t any explanation as to why they cut their trip short. Nebraska ag department officials also confirmed that the Chinese delegation called off a visit to farms in that state as well. U.S. Ag Secretary Sonny Perdue had confirmed last Thursday that the meetings were in the works as a way for China to build goodwill with American farmers. The Chinese delegation was going to visit Bozeman, Montana, and Omaha, Nebraska. The unexpected cancellation puts a damper on hopes that China would restart purchases of U.S. agricultural products, which it halted in April as retaliation against U.S. tariffs. China made up $5.9 billion in U.S. farm product exports in 2018. It’s the world’s top buyer of soybeans and purchased about 60 percent of U.S. soybean exports that year. Tensions between the two countries had eased as both countries held off on imposing additional tariffs on each other’s goods. ********************************************************************************************** U.S. and Mexico Avoid Anti-Dumping Dispute on Tomatoes Mexican tomato growers have signed a deal to raise the prices of the tomatoes they sell in the U.S. market. Politico says that ends a threat from Washington, D.C., to slap a 25-percent anti-dumping tariff on tomato imports. Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross says the deal will protect U.S. growers from unfair trade practices. However, not all domestic importers were happy with the final agreement. They say the pact doesn’t include border inspection waivers for individual shipments if USDA can’t complete an inspection within a day. Lance Jungmeyer is president of the Fresh Produce Association of the Americas, who says the tomato deal is a step backward. “USDA has assured us the inspections can be done within 24 hours,” he says. “If that’s really the case, then there shouldn’t be a problem including language for a waiver if a deadline can’t be met occasionally.” The new deal will likely end the 17.5 percent duty that importers have paid since early May on Mexican tomato imports. The agreement also suspends the dumping investigation of Mexican tomatoes into the U.S. ********************************************************************************************** China, Russia Agree to Double Their Trade in Five Years to $200 billion China and Russia recently wrapped up three days of talks with an agreement to double their trade in five years. The two nations set a goal of increasing their trade to $200 billion in the next half-decade. Business Times says the two nations will work together to remove tariff and regulatory barriers to the exchange and trading of various goods. China and Russia will work to improve the flow of agricultural, industrial, and technological products and services. Soybeans were a big topic of conversation between the Chinese Premier and Russian President Putin. Soybeans have become a major issue for China during its trade dispute with the U.S. Industry experts have said that China will get a good number of soybeans from Russia, which still won’t be able to replace the U.S. as China’s main supplier. While Russia doesn’t produce nearly the number of soybeans as the U.S., it is planning to increase soybean production in eastern parts of the country to help increase exports to China. ********************************************************************************************** Labor Department to Modernize H-2A Requirements Ag Secretary Sonny Perdue spoke positively about changes the Department of Labor will make to modernize the H-2A process. The Labor Department published a final, common-sense rule that becomes effective October 21, and eliminates the requirement to advertise job openings in local newspapers. Instead, it shifts the advertising to the Department of Labor and State Workforce Agency websites, which reach farther and are more cost-effective. The DOL’s Office of Foreign Labor Certification announced updates to the H-2A forms and online filing process for the H-2A temporary agricultural programs. Perdue says the two actions will ease regulatory burdens on U.S. farmers and ranchers, making it easier for them to follow the law and hire farmworkers through the program. “Both of these changes are absolutely critical and needed to improve the H-2A application process,” Perdue says. “By bringing these processes into the 21st century, it allows farmers to be able to better and more cost-effectively advertise for the workers they need and fill out the required forms faster and more efficiently.” He adds that no one should have to hire a lawyer just to hire a farmworker. The DOL’s final rule is designed to reduce burdens on American farmers and ranchers. ********************************************************************************************* Taiwan Trade Mission Signs Letter of Intent to Purchase U.S. Wheat Representatives from the Taiwan Flour Millers Association signed letters of intent to purchase wheat and other U.S.-grown commodities over the next two years. The millers, who signed the letters last week in Washington, D.C., are part of a biennial Taiwan Agricultural Trade Goodwill Mission. The wheat delegation first made stops in Oregon, Seattle, and Idaho before making the trip to D.C. The letter states that the Taiwan Flour Millers Association intends to purchase a total of 1.8 million metric tons, or about 66.1 million bushels of U.S. wheat between 2020 and 2021. The value of those purchases will be about $576 million. U.S. Wheat Associates President Vince Peterson says, “We’ve long had a mutually beneficial trade relationship with Taiwan’s milling and flour products industry. U.S. wheat farmers pioneered the market more than 60 years ago by meeting with members of the developing flour milling industry.” He says the members of the Taiwan Flour Millers continue to be reliable trading partners that fully recognize the value of purchasing quality U.S. grown wheat.

| Rural Advocate News | Monday September 23, 2019 |


Washington Insider: Tough Trade Talks With China Continue The New York Times is reporting that both the United States and China issued statements Saturday saying their recent talks were productive. At the same time, the Times noted that the combination of Friday’s tough words from President Trump and the cancellation of a planned U.S. trip by Chinese ag officials to two U.S. states seemed to cast a cloud over prospects for a trade deal and caused something of a sell-off in New York stock trading. China’s state-run Xinhua news agency said Saturday that fairly senior negotiators had “conducted constructive discussions” in Washington in recent days and had “agreed to continue to maintain communication.” The tone of the Xinhua statement was matched by a separate statement from the United States Trade Representative in Washington. “These discussions were productive, and the United States looks forward to welcoming a delegation from China for principal-level meetings in October,” the statement said. In addition, the Times emphasized that both sides’ trade negotiators have continued to look for a resolution of their differences even as tensions ratcheted ever higher over the summer — although the report noted that its sources “all insisted on anonymity, citing diplomatic sensitivities in the negotiations.” The delegation of Chinese ag officials that had planned to travel to Montana and Nebraska in the coming week but cancelled at the last moment did not act because of “any new difficulty in the trade talks,” the NYT said. Instead, the trip was canceled out of concern that it would turn into a media circus and “give the misimpression that China was trying to meddle in American domestic politics,” the Times said. The Chinese government has long taken the position that countries should not interfere in each other’s domestic affairs, a position developed partly in opposition to foreign criticisms of China’s human rights record. In recent weeks, the Chinese government and many Chinese internet users have also reacted angrily to calls by American officials for Beijing to show restraint in responding to increasingly violent pro-democracy protests in Hong Kong. China’s foreign ministry has repeatedly objected to what it describes as intervention in China’s internal affairs over Hong Kong. The question now is whether Vice Premier Liu He of China can make any progress when he comes to Washington for high-level talks next month. While the dates for those talks have not been confirmed, they look likely to be scheduled for Oct. 10-11, the Times said. The biggest obstacle facing negotiators may be agreeing on the scale and ambition of any deal they try to reach. The Times cited several of its sources that argue that China especially wants to reach a partial deal that would head off President Trump’s planned increases in American tariffs on Chinese goods set for Oct. 15 and Dec. 15. China is also seen as becoming increasingly wary of seeking any comprehensive resolution of the dozens of issues facing the two countries. As a result, its negotiators have tried to focus the talks on issues that can be resolved through regulations that the country already plans to issue by early January to implement a new law on foreign investments that the National People’s Congress approved in March. At the same time, Chinese trade negotiators have tried recently to exclude issues like data flows, the location of data and the setting of cybersecurity standards. These concerns tend to infringe on the turf of China’s internal security agencies, which have resisted any limits on their ability to conduct comprehensive surveillance within the country and are wary of allowing in American tech companies, the Times said. The United States has tried to persuade Beijing to adopt broad changes to Chinese laws to make the country more open to imports and to limit subsidies for industries, particularly advanced manufacturing industries that compete with American industries. However, President Trump objected on Friday to any partial deal. “I’m looking for a complete deal, I’m not looking for a partial deal,” the president said during a joint news conference with Prime Minister Scott Morrison of Australia. “We’re looking for the big deal.” There have nonetheless been several discussions between the two sides on reducing the value of American tariffs that are still pending and which are set to increase even further by mid-December. The United States also has been pressing China to buy more American food in exchange, purchases China likely will need as an epidemic of African swine fever has killed huge numbers of hogs and pigs. The two sides have nonetheless undertaken a series of smaller, confidence-building trade measures in the past two weeks. So, we will see. The pressure is strong and growing on both sides to strike some deal that will support increased trade and reduce recent reliance on broad tariffs — especially if the economies continue to exhibit signs of weakening. Clearly, the economic and trade talks and the fights they concern are issues producers should watch closely as they intensify, Washington Insider believes.

| Rural Advocate News | Monday September 23, 2019 |


Labor Department Sets Final Rule On H-2A Changes The Department of Labor (DOL) will modernize the burdensome H2A visa process, eliminating the requirement to advertise a job opening in print newspapers. The advertising will now shift to the SeasonalJobs.dol.gov website, a mobile-friendly platform, and on State Workforce Agency websites. The changes will take effect October 21. “Both of these actions by DOL are critical changes the Administration is making to improve the H-2A application process,” USDA Secretary Sonny Perdue said. “By streamlining these processes, DOL is bringing the H-2A process into the 21st Century allowing farmers to be able to better and cost-effectively advertise for workers they need and fill out the required forms faster and more efficiently, because no one should have to hire a lawyer to hire a farm worker.”

| Rural Advocate News | Monday September 23, 2019 |


Biofuel Meetings Appear to Have Wrapped Up The meeting between President Donald Trump and oil-state senators Thursday appears to be the final meeting on the topic of U.S. biofuel policy, with those lawmakers focusing on their concerns over a package of changes the administration has developed. No details of Thursday's White House meeting have surfaced yet, although Sen. Bill Cassidy, R-La., said in a tweet that Trump had been receptive. “Just spoke with @realDonaldTrump on the renewable fuel standard — the president is very engaged on the issue, and feels as if we can work towards a solution which protects jobs,” Cassidy wrote. Biofuel backers remain cautiously optimistic the package that reportedly has been agreed to will be the final word. However, they are also wary of the potential for the apparent package to change. Said Senate Finance Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, last week: “I have been hoodwinked so many times, not just by EPA on this issue but by other bureaucracies as well, so I am going to see if what they talked about is the end product.” It is not clear whether the plan will be announced prior to November 30, the date that EPA has to finalize Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) volume requirements for 2020 biofuels and 2021 biodiesel. The fact that neither biofuel backers nor oil industry interests are talking about the plan could be a sign it has met with approval by both camps. However, as signaled by Grassley, at least biofuel backers are wary until the final announcement is made.

| Rural Advocate News | Monday September 23, 2019 |


Monday Watch List Markets New weather forecasts for the week will be checked early Monday as will any news from over the weekend, especially if it concerns trade with China. USDA's weekly grain inspections will be released at 10 a.m. CDT, followed by the Crop Progress report at 3 p.m. Percentages of dented and mature corn remain markers of interest for this year's late planted crop. Weather Monday features a swath of rain from the Southern Plains to the eastern Great Lakes. Dry conditions will be in place elsewhere. Temperatures will be seasonal north and central and hot south.

| Rural Advocate News | Friday September 20, 2019 |


Former Ag Secretaries Join in Support of USMCA A group of former Agriculture Secretaries joined current Secretary Sonny Perdue in backing the U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement. The group signed a letter to Congress urging lawmakers to pass the trade agreement to “provide certainty in the North American market for the U.S. farm sector and rural economy.” The group included former Agriculture Secretaries John Block, Mike Espy, Dan Glickman, Ann Veneman, Mike Johanns, Ed Shafer and Tom Vilsack. Secretary Perdue says the letter shows support for USMCA “crosses all political parties, specifically when it comes to the agriculture community.” USDA says the agreement will create new market access opportunities for U.S. exports to Canada of dairy, poultry, and eggs. In exchange, the U.S. will provide new access to Canada for some dairy, peanut, and a limited amount of sugar and sugar-containing products. Canada and Mexico are the first and second-largest export markets for U.S. food and agricultural products, totaling more than $39.7 billion in exports last year, supporting more than 325,000 American jobs. ************************************************************************************* Dairy Margin Coverage Enrollment Deadline Extended The Department of Agriculture is giving dairy producers an extra week to sign up for the Dairy Margin Coverage program. USDA’s Bill Northey told lawmakers Thursday the deadline will extend to September 27. Northey made the comment during a House Agriculture Subcommittee on General Farm Commodities and Risk Management hearing. The Farm Service Agency later announced the deadline extension. More than 21,000 dairy farmers have signed up for the program. Authorized by the 2018 farm bill, the program offers protection to dairy producers when the difference between the all-milk price and the average feed cost, known as the margin, falls below a certain dollar amount selected by the producer. Margin payments have triggered for each month from January through July. Dairy producers who elect higher coverage levels could be eligible for payments for all seven months. Under certain levels, the amount paid to dairy farmers will exceed the cost of the premium. USDA encourages dairy producers to visit their Farm Service Agency office to learn more and enroll. ************************************************************************************* Study Confirms ASF Survives in Animal Feed Researchers at Kansas State University say African swine fever can survive in feed grains, prompting greater concerns of the disease spreading. The research confirms the virus can survive a simulated 30-day transoceanic voyage in contaminated plant-based feed and ingredients. Detailed analysis shows the half-life of African swine fever in feed ranges from 9.6 to 14.2 days after exposure to varying temperature and humidity conditions simulating transoceanic shipment. This means it would take approximately two weeks for the total viable virus concentration to decay by half its original count during shipment. Over the last year, African swine fever has emerged on new continents and spread to historically negative countries. Surviving shipments overseas provides an opportunity for the virus to infect swine in the United States and other countries through imported feed. African swine fever is now considered endemic in China, where pork production is forecasted to fall 25 percent by the end of the year. The disease has also spread to several other Asian countries and recently to Western Europe. ************************************************************************************* AFIA: Japan Trade Agreement a Boon for Animal Food Industry The American Feed Industry Association says a trade agreement with Japan will allow America's animal food and ingredient manufacturers greater access into Japan’s marketplace. President Donald Trump recently notified Congress of his intent to sign an agreement with Japan. AFIA President and CEO Joel G. Newman says the organization is hopeful the agreement “will show progress” in bringing the U.S. animal food industry closer to tariff levels offered to U.S. competitors in the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership. Japan represents the United States' third-largest export market behind Canada and Mexico for feed, feed ingredients and pet food products at a value of $986 million in 2018. The agreement is expected to be signed along the sidelines of the United Nations General Assembly in New York this month. Agriculture has welcomed the agreement because it will remove market access barriers for U.S. exports to Japan. Top U.S. agricultural exports to Japan currently include beef, corn, pork, soybeans and wheat, totally $13 billion last year. ************************************************************************************* Health Groups Propose Recommendations on Drinks for Children Leading medical and nutrition organizations recommend staying away from added sugars in drinks for children five and under. The groups say breast milk, infant formula, water and plain milk are part of the new set of beverage recommendations for children. They caution against beverages with added sugars, including flavored and low-calorie sweetened beverages. The new guidelines add to recommendations to avoid other drinks on the market targeting children such as toddler formulas, caffeinated beverages, and plant-based/non-dairy milks which provide no unique nutritional value. The recommendations were developed as part of a collaboration by experts at the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry, American Academy of Pediatrics and the American Heart Association. The groups say research shows that what children drink from birth through age five has a big impact on their health, both now and for years to come. Spokesperson Megan Lott says the recommendations “represent a clear set of objective, science-based recommendations for healthy drink consumption.” ************************************************************************************* USDA Highlights 2018 Food Spending Habits U.S. consumers spent $1.71 trillion on food and beverages in 2018, according to the Department of Agriculture. USDA’s Economic Research Service says spending at food-away-from-home establishments, restaurants, school cafeterias, sports venues, and other eating places, accounted for 54.4 percent of expenditures. The remaining 45.6 percent took place at grocery stores, supercenters, convenience stores, and other retailers. However, USDA says a 54.4-percent share of food expenditures does not equate to 54.4 percent of food quantities, as food purchased away from home is generally higher priced than food prepared at home. Food-away-from-home outlets incur costs for the workers required to prepare and serve food, as well as for buildings, equipment, and utilities. The away-from-home market, which accounted for about one-third of total food expenditures 50 years ago at 33.8 percent, has grown through the decades, except in some recession years. During most of the 2007–09 recession, food away from home spending stayed at or just below 50 percent before rising to 50.1 percent in 2009 and continuing to grow.

| Rural Advocate News | Friday September 20, 2019 |


Washington Insider: Farmer Politics and Trade Bloomberg is reporting this week that the administration has what it calls a "$28 billion bet that rural America will stick with the president." It begins with a long public phone call the White House made to a group being addressed by Ag Secretary Perdue. The President said, "horrible dishonest reporters will say that 'oh jeez, the farmers are upset.' Well, they can't be too upset, because I gave them $12 billion and I gave them $16 billion this year," he said. A couple of years ago, such a pep talk might have drawn raucous applause from one of the president's key constituencies, Bloomberg said, but notes that this time the crowd was "subdued." It cited a farmer who attended the event and said, "The aid package that has come in is a relief, and it softens the landing, but it's not a solution, it's a Band-Aid." When asked if the payments make him whole, the producer who grows 500 acres of soybeans near Decatur, responded, "Of course not." He'd rather have free trade, he said. China hawks in Trump's administration want Beijing to quit subsidizing strategic industries, "but that hasn't deterred the White House from doling out billions in aid to American farmers who have become more dependent on government money than they've been in years," Bloomberg said. At $28 billion so far, the farm rescue is more than twice as expensive as the 2009 bailout of Detroit's Big Three automakers, which cost taxpayers $12 billion. And farmers expect the money to keep flowing: A Purdue University survey in August found the almost 60% of producers said "they anticipate another round of trade aid next year." Farmers became collateral damage in the president's tit-for-tat tariff war with China, which is being waged primarily for the benefit of such sectors such as manufacturing and tech, Bloomberg notes. Efforts to cultivate China's appetite for American soybeans stretch back almost four decades and China bought more than $12 billion worth in 2017. Sales have declined sharply in recent years as the tariff wars accelerated. The administration slapped additional tariffs on about $110 billion in Chinese imports on Sept. 1 and China responded with tariffs on American-raised pork, beef, chicken, and other agricultural goods. Since then, the two sides have warmed, and in early September, China has reported that it will exempt some American soybeans, pork, and other agricultural products from more tariffs. For American producers, the hit to exports has further strained finances amid a six-year slump in prices for agricultural commodities. Net farm income is projected to be down 29% this year from 2013 levels, and debt is expected to reach $416 billion. Also, bad weather prevented farmers from planting about 11.4 million acres of corn and 4.5 million acres of soybeans, according to government estimates. Producers also have been dismayed that the administration has faltered on campaign pledges to uphold national consumption mandates for renewable fuels. Bloomberg thinks farmers will receive $19.5 billion in direct government aid this calendar year, the most since 2005 -- a figure that does not include the $10.5 billion forecast this year in federally subsidized crop insurance payments, the main vehicle for the regular farm subsidy program. Those funds won't cover all of farmers' losses. Iowa producers, for example, were purported to receive $973 million in direct payments from the first round of trade aid, covering a period in which Iowa State University estimated the trade war cost them $1.7 billion. So, the stakes are unusually high just now as the U.S. and China begin to take what the press calls "baby steps to ease tensions in their trade war," through face-to-face talks in Washington. However, Bloomberg warns, taken together the measures likely to be considered "pale in comparison to the oncoming hit from U.S. tariff increases still in the pipeline for October and December." At the same time, as evidence mounts in both nations of the economic damage that the trade war is doing, there appears to be more urgency for a deal. Also, despite the goodwill gestures, the two sides remain far apart on fundamental issues and officials continue to trade barbs. China wants the U.S. to remove all extra tariffs, and the U.S. has long sought concessions on intellectual property and state-subsidies for industry that Beijing has been unwilling to give. Clearly, producers should watch extremely closely as trade talks are undertaken in both the Atlantic and Pacific markets and as new trade interventions continue to be considered, Washington Insider believes.

| Rural Advocate News | Friday September 20, 2019 |


China Officials to Visit US Farms A portion of the Chinese delegation in the U.S. for deputy-level trade talks this week in Washington will stick around a little longer -- some of the group will visit U.S. farms with reports indicating stops in Nebraska and Montana. The South China Morning Post initially reported the visits would take place. CNBC Thursday also reported the delegation's plans. USDA Secretary Sonny Perdue confirmed the development after he appeared at a Washington event. "I think they want to see the production of agriculture," Perdue said. "I think they're trying to build goodwill and we welcome that. Specifically, where they will go and what they will do is not clear to us." Perdue also said the U.S. still expects China to make additional purchases of U.S. agricultural products. "They know our shopping list and we hope that they come and are prepared," he said. It is not clear if the trip will result in any signing ceremonies for the purchase of U.S. ag products or whether it is merely a goodwill gesture by China ahead of what have been expected to be higher-level U.S.-China talks in early October.

| Rural Advocate News | Friday September 20, 2019 |


House Clears Spending Plan With CCC Funding The House Thursday passed a continuing resolution (CR) to keep the government funded through Nov. 21 and avert a shutdown when Fiscal Year (FY) 2020 arrives Oct. 1. The bill won approval 301-123, sending the measure off to the Senate where it is expected to pass and be signed by President Donald Trump. The measure included restocking funding for the Commodity Credit Corporation (CCC), but calls on USDA to provide a report by Oct. 31 detailing the Market Facilitation Program (MFP) payments and other aid efforts used by the administration to help the ag sector deal with trade impacts. The efforts also revealed that partisanship has worked its way into the usually bipartisan world of agriculture, prompting a contentious exchange between Democrats and Republicans during a joint House Agriculture Subcommittee hearing on implementation of disaster and farm programs.

| Rural Advocate News | Friday September 20, 2019 |


Friday Watch List Markets USDA's monthly cattle on-feed is the only official report on Friday's schedule, due out at 2 p.m. CDT. Weather continues to be closely followed with warm temperatures giving help to this year's late-planted crops. Traders will also be interested in any comments leading up to the October trade meeting with China. Weather Friday will feature showers and thunderstorms in the central and northern Midwest, far northern and southwestern Plains, and the Texas coastal bend into the Delta. Other crop areas will be dry. Temperatures remain well above normal with no freeze threat through the next 10 days.

| Rural Advocate News | Thursday September 19, 2019 |


African Swine Fever Shows Up in South Korea South Korea is now the ninth Asian country to find itself positive for African Swine Fever. The pigs that tested positive for the disease were located near the border with North Korea, which has been ASF positive since May. The South Korean agriculture minister says the country’s first case of the highly-contagious disease was confirmed on Tuesday. Officials ran tests on five pigs that had died on a farm just miles south of the North Korean border. The South Korean government is making a stronger effort to disinfect farms and transport vehicles. The government also ordered a 48-hour standstill on all pig farms, slaughterhouses, and feed mills across the country to help prevent the disease from spreading further. South Korea has about 6,000 farms that produce more than 11 million pigs. The country doesn’t import any pork products or live pigs from China due to the severe outbreak of ASF inside that country. South Korea mainly imports from the United States and Germany. Pork imports account for about a third of the country’s total pork supply. ********************************************************************************************** Lawmakers Want India’s Trade Privileges Restored Reuters says 44 members of Congress are asking U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer to restore trade concessions to India. They say the U.S. withdrawal of that trade privilege has led to retaliatory tariffs, which hurt the U.S. ag industry. Back in June, the United States ended its preferential trade treatment for India. The Generalized System of Preferences Program allowed India to send up to $5.6 billion worth of imports into the United States duty-free. India retaliated with higher tariffs on 28 U.S. products, including almonds, apples, and walnuts. The letter from the U.S. lawmakers to Lighthizer says a lot of American jobs depend on trade between India and the United States. After President Trump decided to remove India from trade privileges, American and Indian trade negotiators met in July. However, neither side made much progress on the issue of tariffs and other protectionist measures imposed by each side. The U.S. and India resumed trade talks after meetings on the sidelines of the G20 summit in June and agreed to take steps to deepen the two countries’ relationship. ********************************************************************************************** NCBA Announces Woodall as New CEO The Executive Committee of the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association says Colin Woodall will serve as the group’s new Chief Executive Officer. Woodall was named to the post this week after an extensive national search. He most recently was the Vice President of Government Affairs and managed NCBA’s efforts in Washington, D.C., for more than ten years. He first joined NCBA in 2004 and was instrumental in ensuring the interests of NCBA members and the beef community were well-represented in DC. “Colin has served NCBA members for 15 years, and in that time, he’s done a great deal for beef producers everywhere,” says NCBA President Jennifer Houston. “Much of his work and many of the victories registered by NCBA in Washington are the result of his ability to build coalitions and bring people together.” Ethan Lane was chosen to replace Woodall as the Vice President of Government Affairs. Most recently, Lane was the Executive Director of the Public Lands Council and NCBA Federal Lands. Houston says Lane has been a “driving force in many of NCBA’s most important policy wins.” ********************************************************************************************** Farmers and Ranchers Launch Pro-Green New Deal Coalition The U.S. Farmers and Ranchers for a Green New Deal coalition held a press conference on Capitol Hill Wednesday, along with a handful of Democrats from the House of Representatives. Sherri Dugger is an Indiana farmer who co-chairs the new coalition. She says a lot of the farmers that she talks to every day don’t understand what the Green New Deal is about. “I’m here to say we need to be involved in this discussion and we need to be at the table to have our voices heard,” she says. The coalition delivered a letter to Congress that calls for farming to have a key place in meeting the goals of the Green New Deal, which seeks to get to net-zero emissions between 2030-2050. The coalition says the U.S. economy needs to move away from fossil fuels and transition “toward family farm-based organic and regenerative farming.” The group also favors land-use practices that improve soil health and draws down and sequesters carbon. The coalition’s announcement this week is timed to coincide with the global Climate Strike event on Friday. ********************************************************************************************** Organic Farmers Association Opposes Genetic Engineering Earlier this week, the Organic Farmers Association delivered a letter to USDA in response to a statement made by Undersecretary Greg Ibach (EYE-baw). The Undersecretary for Marketing and Regulatory Programs recently spoke about possibly opening up a dialogue about gene-editing in organic agriculture. The letter speaking against the idea was signed by 79 organic farm organizations. It strongly opposes any form of genetic engineering into the organic standard and expressed opposition against the possibility of including it. Instead, the OFA is asking the USDA to build the organic market by focusing on building healthy soil and addressing the core issues that affect the domestic organic market. Kate Mendenhall, Director of the Organic Farmers Association, says introducing a dialogue on genetic engineering would be a “major distraction” within the industry. “We have crucial issues in organic agriculture that need the USDA’s full attention, such as stopping organic import fraud, closing certification loopholes, and enforcing current organic standards fairly and equitably,” Mendenhall says. ********************************************************************************************* Farm Bureau Wants USDA to End NRCS Abuses Farmers and ranchers are being denied due process as part of an abuse of discretion by officials from the Natural Resources Conservation Service. That comes straight from a scathing ruling by the Seventh Circuit’s U.S. Court of Appeals. The ruling is highlighted in a letter sent from the American Farm Bureau Federation to Ag Secretary Sonny Perdue asking him to enact much-needed reforms in the agency. The letter focuses on the case of an Indiana farm owned by David and Rita Boucher (BOW-cher). The battle between the Boucher family and the NRCS has gone on for 17 years. The Bouchers removed nine trees on 2.8 acres the agency declared a wetland, and the NRCS demanded they plant 300 trees per acre as compensation. The court found that the NRCS wrongly accused the Bouchers of harming a non-existent wetland on their property. The NRCS made no effort to correct the decision, even after the accusations were proven to be groundless. The Farm Bureau letter notes that the Bouchers aren’t the only victims of regulatory abuse. AFBF is asking Secretary Perdue to accept the Seventh Circuit’s decision and compensate the family for costs incurred during the battle against the government.

| Rural Advocate News | Thursday September 19, 2019 |


Washington Insider: Trade Deal With Japan The administration has been celebrating a new trade deal with Japan for some time, and Bloomberg is reporting this week that the deal will be formally announced this month, according to White House economic adviser Larry Kudlow. President Donald Trump and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe are scheduled to hold a one-on-one meeting Sept. 25 during the UN General Assembly in New York, Kudlow said Tuesday. “There just might be an announcement at the United Nations,” Kudlow told the U.S.-Japan Business Conference in Washington. “You can never tell, but I’m an optimist.” On Monday, President Donald Trump said that his administration had struck a partial trade accord with Japan on tariff barriers and digital trade. He says a formal agreement is expected in the “coming weeks.” The president, however, didn’t make clear whether he’d end the threat of slapping steep auto tariffs on Japan – a key reason that Tokyo wanted to negotiate with the U.S. from the outset of talks that began last year, Bloomberg says. Japanese Foreign Minister Toshimitsu Motegi, the country’s point man for the talks, said on Tuesday that Tokyo wanted the Trump administration to end the threat of new auto tariffs before agreeing to a final trade deal. “We are aware of the internal process that is going on in the U.S. and the president’s notice of the U.S.-Japan trade negotiations,” Motegi told reporters in Tokyo. The President announced the initial agreement in a notice to Congress, though he doesn’t require their approval to implement the deal. U.S. Chamber of Commerce Chief Executive Officer Thomas Donohue, speaking at the same event as Kudlow, said business leaders are urging the administration to keep its focus on securing a “comprehensive high-standard trade agreement with Japan in the near future.” “We need to make sure this initial package is a step in that direction,” said Donohue. “A comprehensive trade deal with Japan will provide some badly needed predictability – not only with the U.S. and Japan, but for our trade allies.” On the prospects of a U.S.-China trade deal, Kudlow said the mood has turned more optimistic. “There’s a little music in the air, which is not always so but right now, we should enjoy the day,” Kudlow said. U.S.-China trade deputies are meeting today and tomorrow in Washington and trade principals from the two countries will meet in mid-October to continue talks, Kudlow said. However, in the midst of positive news about the expected deal, Bloomberg said that U.S. rice growers won’t get increased sales under the current terms of the expected deal. While there are still details to be finalized, Bloomberg reported that there is not expected to be any expansion of Japan’s quotas for U.S.-grown rice. U.S. producers hope the issue will be dealt with in the second phase of negotiations between the two countries, Bloomberg said. The report also cautioned that it is unclear whether or when Trump and Abe will continue talks given that any trade deal in Japan has to be approved by the parliament and the Trump administration is running out of time before the 2020 presidential election. Japan is a key export market for U.S. rice farmers, who have been under pressure since the Asian nation signed agreements with other countries included in the revised 11-member Trans-Pacific Partnership that the administration ditched early in its tenure. U.S. Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue had suggested the White House may make a concession on rice, which is “sort of a cultural issue in Japan,” local media have reported. “Although we are glad to see the bilateral agreement between the U.S. and Japan, we were disappointed to see that U.S. rice was not included,” Stuart Hoetger, a rice trader and manager of Pinnacle Rice Coop in Chico, California said. Japan is required to import 682,000 tons of rice under a WTO commitment with the U.S. typically making up about half of that amount, according to USA Rice. Since Japan signed the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership there’s been more competition from Australian producers, the industry group said. Chris Crutchfield, president of rice miller and marketer American Commodity Company LLC in Williams, California, said the U.S. industry wants not only more volume but better quality access to the Japanese market. Much of the U.S. rice going to Japan is auctioned by the government and used to make noodles, beer or sake, with only a small amount sold as table rice. American rice should be allowed to be auctioned directly to private buyers and marked as being grown in the U.S. “We still believe the administration is going to get us something better than we currently have,” Crutchfield said. So, we will see. The administration is looking to this agreement, along with similar ones with other important markets to damp down farmer resentments over the abandonment of the Trans Pacific deal. However, those pressures likely will depend heavily on how successful the next round of talks with China prove to be – negotiations producers certainly will watch closely as they take place, Washington Insider believes.

| Rural Advocate News | Thursday September 19, 2019 |


Sen. Hoeven Calls On House To Support Payments To Farmers Senate Appropriations Committee Chairman John Hoeven, R-N.D., said the House should support farmers and ranchers, and ensure Market Facilitation Program (MFP) payments are not delayed. In a letter Tuesday, Hoeven led Republican members of the Senate Appropriations Committee in pressing House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D., Calif., and House Appropriations Committee Chair Nita Lowey, D., N.Y., to support the nation’s farmers and ranchers and ensure that Market Facilitation Program (MFP) payments for producers are not blocked or delayed in the House of Representatives’ continuing resolution (CR). The Senate GOP group urged the House to reimburse the CCC, which is routinely supported by Congress, to ensure producers have access to much-needed agriculture assistance. “Our nation’s farmers and ranchers badly need the MFP committed to them by the President, using the legal authority that we in Congress provided. For many of our producers, MFP will be the difference between continuing the family tradition or being denied the credit necessary to farm and ranch for another year,” the letter said. DTN reported late Wednesday that House Agriculture Committee Chairman Collin Peterson, D-Minn., said he had received assurances the Commodity Credit Corp. funds will be in the continuing resolution.

| Rural Advocate News | Thursday September 19, 2019 |


Trump Again Talks Potential For US-China Deal, Or Maybe Not President Donald Trump told reporters en route from New Mexico to California that the U.S. and China could ink a trade deal soon, or it may still wait until after the 2020 elections. "I think there will be a deal maybe soon, maybe before the election, or one day after the election. And if it is after the election, it will be a deal like you have never seen, it will be the greatest deal ever and China knows that," Trump said. As for the elections, Trump stated China thinks he will win in November 2020. "China thinks I am going to win so easily and they are concerned because I told them: 'If it's after the election, it's going to be far worse than what it is right now.' I told them that. Would they like to see somebody else win? Absolutely," Trump added. China's trade and economic officials arrived in Washington Wednesday for talks Thursday and Friday at the deputy level.

| Rural Advocate News | Thursday September 19, 2019 |


Thursday Watch List Markets Weekly jobless claims and existing home sales are a few of the economic reports out on Thursday morning. We'll watch for any macro market response to the 25-basis-point cut in interest rates by the Fed on Wednesday. We will also be watching for any news regarding the next U.S.-China trade negotiation, which begins on Thursday. Weather Scattered thunderstorms that developed in the western Midwest overnight will linger this morning before diminishing. Heavy rain may mean local flooding due to this activity. A few scattered showers in the northern part of the central Plains region and the western areas of the Canadian Prairies Thursday or Thursday night. Tropical depression Imelda will continue to cause locally heavy rain as it moves north over east Texas with rain also extending into western Louisiana. Little elsewhere in the key U.S. and Canada growing areas Thursday. Temperatures average above normal through key growing areas of the U.S. and Canada today, although it has turned cooler through eastern areas and it is also cooler in western areas.

| Rural Advocate News | Wednesday September 18, 2019 |


White House Sends Formal Announcement of Agreement with Japan The White House has notified Congress it will sign a trade agreement with Japan. President Donald Trump notified lawmakers he will enter an agreement on tariffs and digital trade with Japan, as the two sides wrap up the talks still this month. The White House published the notice Monday evening. Trump told lawmakers he is “pleased to report that my administration has reached an initial trade agreement.” The agreement is expected to be signed along the sidelines of the United Nations General Assembly in New York this month. The agreement does not need approval from Congress and can go into effect immediately. The agreement will mostly lower tariffs on U.S. ag products, to levels granted to other exporters to Japan in the Comprehensive and Progress Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership. The lower tariffs allow U.S. farmers to better compete in the Japanese market. Top U.S. agricultural exports to Japan currently include beef, corn, pork, soybeans and wheat, totally $13 billion last year. ************************************************************************************* Trump Backing Plan to Increase Biofuels Production President Donald Trump will soon unveil a biofuel plan that farm groups are hopeful will increase demand for biofuels production. The President has tentatively approved the plan that will increase biofuel blending requirements, but the administration has not yet publicly announced the plan. Iowa Senator Chuck Grassley said Tuesday the announcement is coming, and will be a “win-win” for farmers. However, Grassley is unsure when the administration will announce the plan. Reuters says the plan requires the Environmental Protection Agency calculate a three-year rolling average of total biofuels gallons exempted from the mandates under its Small Refinery Exemption program and add that figure to its annual biofuel blending quotas each year. The administration recently granted 31 waivers to exclude refineries from the RFS blending requirements. Trump was planned to meet with oil industry executives earlier this week, as well. Grassley says Trump “listened to Iowans” who spoke out against the small refinery waivers. President Trump ordered a review of the waivers in June. ************************************************************************************* Saudi Attacks Represents Opportunity for Biofuels Drone attacks Saturday in Saudi Arabia that destroyed oil fields show diversification, which includes biofuels, could curb market volatility, according to the Renewable Fuels Association. RFA President Geoff Cooper says the United States imported 2.8 billion barrels of crude oil last year, equivalent to 45 percent of the oil processed by U.S. refineries. $18 billion flowed out of the U.S. economy to Saudi Arabia in return for 330 million barrels of petroleum. However, U.S. farmers helped produce more than 380 million barrels of “lower-cost, cleaner-burning renewable fuel last year-more barrels than we imported from Saudi Arabia.” Cooper says the United States cannot “simply frack its way to energy independence,” in his call to increase biofuels use. Cooper says with enforcement of the Renewable Fuel Standard, removal of regulatory barriers, and a rapid transition to 15 percent ethanol blends nationwide, U.S. ethanol producers could quickly ramp up production and help fill the void in the global liquid fuel supply caused by the Saudi oil attacks. ************************************************************************************* Lawmakers Seek Mississippi River Disaster Funds Representatives from Minnesota and Wisconsin are pushing for funds to allow the Army Corps of Engineers to address issues stemming from Mississippi River flooding this year. Democrat Representatives Ron Kind of Wisconsin, and Angie Craig and Betty McCollum representing Minnesota, sent a letter to the Office of Management and Budget pushing for the distribution of $100 million for flood repairs. The funds were included in the Additional Supplemental Appropriations for Disaster Relief Act, and were signed into law by President Trump in June 2019. Those funds have not yet been disbursed so the Army Corps can do their jobs. Right now, the lawmakers say the immediate concern remains keeping the Mississippi River operational for commercial use, which requires additional dredging because of excess sediment build-up this spring. The river is responsible for one-sixth of the nation’s intercity cargo and 25 percent of foreign exports. The letter states the lawmakers urge the Trump Administration “to act swiftly in allocating long-term funding to reinstate emergency dredging operations.” ************************************************************************************* USDA Modernizes Swine Slaughter Inspection The Department of Agriculture Tuesday announced a final rule to modernize swine slaughter inspection. For the first time in more than five decades, USDA’s Food Safety and Inspection Service is modernizing inspection at market hog slaughter establishments with a goal of protecting public health while allowing for food safety innovations, according to USDA. Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue says the final rule “allows us to ensure food safety while eliminating outdated rules.” National Pork Producers Council President David Herring says the new inspection system “codifies the advancements we have made into law, reflecting a 21st century industry,” and ensures “a safe supply of wholesome American pork.” In the final rule, FSIS amends the regulations to require all swine slaughter establishments to develop written sanitary dressing plans and implement microbial sampling to monitor process control for pathogens that can cause foodborne illness. The final rule also allows market hog establishments to choose if they will operate under the rule or continue to operate under traditional inspection. ************************************************************************************* Peterson, Others, Establish 4-H Congressional Caucus House Agriculture Chairman Collin Peterson, a Minnesota Democrat, this week announced the bipartisan 4-H Congressional Congress. Joining Peterson is Republican Representatives Cathy McMorris Rodgers of Washington and Jeff Fortenberry of Nebraska, along with Democrat Henry Cueller of Texas. Peterson, saying he was “a 4-H kid myself,” says he looks forward to growing the caucus “so we can help ensure the next generation of young leaders have access to 4-H experiences that will help them succeed." 4-H is America's largest youth development organization, empowering youth through programs and experiences that develop critical life skills and preparing them for life today and a career tomorrow. Thousands of 4-H professionals and educators, as well as 500,000 volunteers serve nearly six million youth in every county in the United States. National 4-H Council president and CEO Jennifer Sirangelo welcomed the caucus, saying “Their support ensures life-changing 4-H experiences are available to young people in rural, urban and suburban communities throughout America.”

| Rural Advocate News | Wednesday September 18, 2019 |


Washington Insider: New Tariffs for EU Luxury Items The question of what might be next in the ongoing global trade wars is increasingly the focus of urban media these days. For example, Bloomberg is reporting this week that at almost the same moment as the U.S. and China attempt to resume trade talks some of Europe’s top luxury brands are being targeted in President Trump’s latest tariff salvo. The new development reflects a decision by a World Trade Organization dispute-settlement panel that ruled Friday that the U.S. can legally impose tariffs on an array of European exports in retaliation for the bloc’s illegal aid to Airbus, SE. The WTO is expected to publicly circulate a report by month’s end that will allow new U.S. duties on a range of goods worth $5 billion to $7 billion per year. Shares of French luxury conglomerate LVMH fell as much as 4.4% on Monday in Paris while Airbus shares fell as much as 5.4%. Continuing political turmoil in Hong Kong and a slowing Chinese economy have also weighed on European fashion and drinks companies. Washington’s formal response is expected within days after the WTO’s green light for retaliation. The U.S. has identified possible targets – with tariffs potentially as high as 100% – on a list of goods with a total export value of $25 billion a year. Though the most valuable items on the U.S. list are exports of European aircraft and parts, the tariffs could also hit products made by Europe’s most recognized high-end brands. The U.S. market for luxury goods is among the top destinations for European companies where the U.S. accounted for perhaps a quarter of their total global sales last year. American shoppers bought 11.2 billion euros worth of goods from LVMH in 2018, Bloomberg said. New tariffs will increase costs that will undoubtedly be passed on to U.S. consumers, said Luca Marotta, the CFO of Paris-Based Remy Cointreau SA, which produces Remy Martin cognac, Cointreau, Passoa and Mount Gay rum. “If the tariff increase happens, I repeat myself, we will increase prices at the same moment,” Marotta said. The administration’s planned EU tariffs are unusual in one sense because, unlike the trade war it started against China, the U.S. will be applying duties explicitly authorized by the WTO, an organization it has threatened to withdraw from if it doesn’t reform. The dispute between Toulouse, France-based Airbus and Chicago-based Boeing Co. encapsulates a criticism from Trump and others that the WTO is a slow-moving bureaucracy. The Airbus case, for example, has taken about 15 years to resolve. European beverage producers are already reeling from the uncertainty stemming from repeated U.S. threats to slap new tariffs on wine, liquor and other alcohol, Bloomberg said. It notes that the U.S. is currently evaluating whether to penalize French wine and other goods in response to France’s tax on digital companies like Amazon.com Inc., Facebook Inc., and Alphabet Inc.’s Google. Bloomberg notes that the impact of new U.S. tariffs could have an unwelcome effect on Scotch whisky producers, which are already girding for the fallout of a potentially messy no-deal Brexit. The EU exported $2.1 billion worth of Irish and Scotch whiskeys to the U.S. in 2018, Bloomberg said. Many U.S. exporters oppose the administration’s proposed tariffs which they say could boomerang and jeopardize thousands of American jobs. Bloomberg notes that U.S. whiskey producers have already become collateral damage from the administration’s steel and aluminum tariffs – which led to EU retaliation and a 25% tariff on U.S. bourbon and whiskey. “Depending on the level of tariffs imposed on EU spirits and wine, we estimate it could negatively impact U.S. businesses, leading up to a loss of jobs from 11,200 to even 78,600 jobs across the United States,” said Chris Swonger, the president and CEO of the Distilled Spirits Council. There are two ways the EU can avoid new tariffs from the long-running aircraft dispute with the U.S.: by ending its illegal subsidies for Airbus, or reaching a settlement agreement. Though U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer and the current European Trade Commissioner Cecilia Malmstrom have both welcomed the idea of negotiating a settlement, talks to resolve the issue haven’t begun. Also, such negotiations could become more difficult after Malmstrom cedes her post on Nov. 1 to Phil Hogan, a hard-nosed Irish trade negotiator who’s pledged to take a more pugnacious approach to EU-U.S. trade relations and recently threatened that “we are going to do everything we possibly can to get Trump to see the error of his ways.” So, we will see. While U.S. economic anxiety continues to fuel market uncertainty, and the administration is working to open both European and Asian markets, it is depending increasingly on expanding interventions to offset negative economic effects—a strategy that is seen as increasingly risky in some quarters, and which should be watched closely as it intensifies, Washington Insider believes.

| Rural Advocate News | Wednesday September 18, 2019 |


White House Notifies Congress on US-Japan Trade Deal The White House formally notified Congress it plans a trade agreement with Japan on tariffs and an executive agreement on digital trade. In a September 16 notice to Congress, Trump again mentioned the initial accord and said the U.S. would be entering an “executive agreement” with Japan on digital trade, without providing details. The communication cites section 103(a) of the legislation, which gives the president the authority to do so as long as the tariff is no higher than five percent. Japanese Foreign Minister Toshimitsu Motegi says Tokyo wants to stymie the threat of new auto tariffs before agreeing to a final trade deal with the U.S. and is seeking confirmation on the position. Motegi, Japan’s point person with U.S. on trade negotiations, told reporters in Tokyo that there is consideration of language covering car tariffs. Expectations are still for the accord to be inked yet this month.

| Rural Advocate News | Wednesday September 18, 2019 |


US-China Deputy-Level Trade Talks Set For Thursday/Friday Deputy-level trade talks between the U.S. and China will start on Thursday in Washington, according to a Reuters report quoting the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative (USTR). On Monday, U.S. Chamber of Commerce chief Thomas Donohue revealed U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer indicated there are staff-level meetings between Chinese and U.S. negotiators on Friday, with senior negotiators to meet in the ensuing week or week and a half. The Chinese news agency Xinhua said China’s Finance Vice Minister Liao Min will lead the Chinese delegation for the thirteenth round of talks, departing for the U.S. on Wednesday. He will be accompanied by Vice Minister of Commerce Wang Shouwen. Early October continues to be signaled as the expected time for high-level talks between the U.S. and China and that could depend heavily on how the deputy-level talks this week unfold.

| Rural Advocate News | Wednesday September 18, 2019 |


Wednesday Watch List Markets The only report scheduled for Tuesday is U.S. Industrial Production in August, set for 8:15 a.m. CDT. Weather, trade-related news and after this weekend, news about the restoration of Saudi Arabia's oil facilities are all topics of current interest. Weather Dry conditions will cover all major crop areas Tuesday. Conditions will be very warm to hot, favoring crop development along with early harvest.

| Rural Advocate News | Tuesday September 17, 2019 |


Trump Administration Shows Flexibility in USMCA Proposal The Trump administration has offered Democrats “significant flexibility” regarding demands for the U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement. The counterproposal sent to House of Representative leadership last week addresses concerns raised by Democrats, according to Politico. The proposal from U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer offers a fix to concerns raised on how disputes between governments are resolved. Additionally, the proposal addresses labor, environmental and pharmaceutical concerns. The counterproposal is increasing optimism the agreement can be finished yet this year. Trump administration officials have said they expect the agreement can be passed by Congress within the next two months, although lawmakers have a full plate to tackle this fall. Farm groups and House Agriculture Committee leaders rallied outside the capitol last week in support of the agreement. This spring, the American Farm Bureau Federation estimated the agreement could increase U.S. agriculture exports by $2.2 billion. USMCA also changes sanitary and phytosanitary standards, biotech rules and other provision. Mexico has already ratified the agreement and Canada is in the process of finalizing the agreement. ************************************************************************************* Oil Markets Headed for Volatility Following Saudi Attacks Expect volatility in oil markets following the weekend attacks in Saudi Arabia. Jim Bower of Bower Trading says volatility “is going to heighten tremendously” over the next few weeks because of the attack. Bower says the drones had a cost of approximately $15,000 and suggested “oil facilities can and will receive further attacks in the future,” because its “simply too easy to do.” The facility attacked by drones and reportedly cruise missiles over the weekend produces roughly six percent of the world’s oil supply. The U.S. Energy Department has said it is willing to release oil from the strategic oil reserves if needed. Oil prices Monday briefly spiked 19 percent, the biggest spike since the 1990-1991 invasion of Kuwait by Iraq. The attacks also represent the largest disruption of maximum daily supply loss in history. Officials at GasBuddy, a crowdsourced, real-time fuel price reporter, predict prices will increase 10-25 cents per gallon. Additionally, prices could increase higher depending on how long it takes to restore production at the attacked facilities. ************************************************************************************* Farm Credit Service Outlines Quarterly System Conditions A quarterly review of the Farm Credit System shows reported steady earnings and higher capital, but a decline in loan quality, so far, in 2019. The Farm Credit Administration received the report last week that outlines economic issues affecting agriculture, with an update on the financial condition and performance of the Farm Credit System. Although the levels of portfolio credit risk are acceptable, they are rising, and the increase “underscores the significant operating challenges facing System borrowers.” Overall, the System remains financially safe, strongly capitalized, and well-positioned to support agricultural producers, according to the report. Additionally, land values generally have remained stable, supported by the limited supply of farmland for sale. Farm sector real estate debt has been rising for the past several years and is approaching the historical 10-year average. Also, total farm debt relative to income in 2019 is high, but the Market Facilitation Program has slowed its advance. The report says the MFP payments represent considerable support for the U.S. farm sector. ************************************************************************************* Japan to Eliminate Tariffs on U.S. Wine Japan will eliminate tariffs on U.S. wine imports as part of a trade agreement announced between the U.S. and Japan. Reuters says Japan will eliminate the tariffs on U.S. wine within five to seven years after the trade agreement goes into effect. Japan currently taxes wine at 15 percent per liter, and the trade agreement would cut the tariff by roughly 13 percent. Leaders of the two nations are expected to sign the agreement on the sidelines of the U.N. General Assembly meeting later this month. The agreement, welcomed by agriculture, also gradually lowers tariffs on U.S. beef exports to Japan, from 38 percent, to nine percent by 2033. Many of the bilateral agreement provisions match those included in the Trans-Pacific Partnership the U.S. backed out of when President Donald Trump took office. The remaining nations enacted the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership. The bilateral agreement with Japan should level the playing field for U.S. agriculture and its competitors, provide increased market opportunity. ************************************************************************************* USDA, Trump, Recognize Farm Safety Week President Donald Trump has proclaimed this week as National Farm Safety and Health Week. Trump signed the proclamation Friday, designating the week as September 15 -21, 2019. The theme for this year's National Farm Safety and Health Week is “Shift Farm Safety into High Gear” as a reminder that it is everyone’s responsibility to prioritize safety on the farm and rural roadway. USDA says this week is an opportunity to spread awareness of the inherent risks associated with work in the agriculture sector and commit to improved practices that advance health and safety. Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue says promoting farm safety will “help our American agriculture workforce,” adding “farming is not always the safest profession and it is our responsibility to continue to improve workplace safety. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, 581 workers in agriculture and related industries died from a work-related injury in 2017, making agriculture one of the most dangerous professions in the United States. *************************************************************************************​ NCGA: Farmers Must Play a Role in Reducing Greenhouse Gases Efforts throughout society, and virtually every industry, to cut greenhouse gases are underway and agriculture is no exception, according to the National Corn Growers Association. Fortunately, NCGA’s Stewardship and Sustainability Director Rachel Orf says, “we are working in the right direction.” Throughout the Ag supply chain, from conservation groups to the largest retailers, Orf says there is solid agreement that the effort needs to be driven by science, adding “if it doesn’t work for farmer’s it doesn’t work at all.” Orf attended a meeting hosted by Field to Market last week in Washington, D.C. with the objective of better understanding climate change risk facing the ag value chain, including retailers, conservation groups, farmers, agribusiness. The effort began last fall with the goal of exploring collaborative actions that can deliver benefits for farmers, consumers and the planet. While agriculture has become increasingly efficient, relying on fewer inputs to produce more, NCGA’s partnership with Field to Market, is fostering collective action to address the significant challenges ahead in meeting increased global demand in a sustainable manner.

| Rural Advocate News | Tuesday September 17, 2019 |


Washington Insider: Senators Struggle Over Spending as Shutdown Looms As if there weren’t enough to worry about amid concerns over the economy and ongoing trade clashes, there is a report from The Hill this week that government funding talks in the Senate are off to “a rough start.” The report notes that there are only 10 working days to go until the shutdown deadline. This is an important problem because it “throws into question if senators will be able to get any of the fiscal 2020 bills through the chamber this month, a setback for Republicans who wanted to clear a major package before October.” Of course, there are still optimists. For example, Senate Appropriations Committee Chairman Richard Shelby, R-Ala., said he still wants to bring bills to the Senate floor for a vote but warned that lawmakers need to “negotiate the terrain.” “We’ve been down that road before,” he said when asked how the funding talks get unstuck. “There’s got to be a resolution to it.” However, the darker view is that the partisan breakdown has left lawmakers visibly flummoxed about how to resolve the impasse, The Hill says. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., warned against getting “bogged down in too many foxholes… I’m praying for Chairman Shelby and ranking member Patrick Leahy, D-Vt., to make the curtains part here so we can figure a way to move forward,” said McConnell, who is also a member of the Appropriations Committee. But The Hill thinks that a quick resolution is “nowhere in sight” with senators at a stalemate over major provisions, including the top-line spending figures for each of the bills, known as 302(b)s. The Senate Appropriations Committee passed its top-line figures, a mammoth fiscal 2020 defense bill and an energy and water funding bill, on Thursday. But neither the 302(b)s nor the defense bill currently have the votes to pass the Senate where they would need the support of at least seven Democrats if every Republican voted for them. Democrats are taking issue with the top-line figures, which break down how much money each bill will get, because they believe Republicans are padding them with extra money that could be shifted to homeland security. And they balked at supporting the Pentagon spending bill after Republicans rejected an amendment that would have prevented the President from shifting funds from the bill toward the border wall without congressional sign off. Sen. Dick Durbin, D-Ill., the Senate minority whip and top Democrat on the Appropriations Defense Subcommittee, warned that the spending bill for the Pentagon is stuck until they resolve the fight over top-line spending figures. Republicans could bring the bills to the floor anyway just to make Democrats vote in what would amount to a messaging fight as they did in 2016. Democrats are making it clear they won’t provide Republicans with their votes unless they sit down and renegotiate the spending legislation. Sen. Chris Murphy, D-Conn., when asked if any spending bills could pass on the floor, responded, “Absolutely not.” “You had every member of the Democratic caucus voting 'no'” in committee, he said. “I think we've got to renegotiate the allocations” to move forward.” Senate Minority Leader Charles Schumer, D-N.Y., noted that no one wants to resort to a continuing resolution or another government shutdown. “But my Republican colleagues must know that what happens in the next few days and weeks will determine whether we can proceed with a bipartisan appropriations process this fall or not,” he said. There’s more. With the full-year funding bills stuck in limbo, Congress will need to pass a short-term spending bill, known as a continuing resolution, by the end of the month. The House is expected to vote on a bill this week to fund the government until Nov. 21. In addition, major funding fights await both the bill for the departments of Labor, Health and Human Services and Education and funding for the State Department and the Appropriations Committee still has to take up a funding bill for the Department of Veterans Affairs and military construction, which certainly will be controversial because Republicans are expected to try to replace the $3.6 billion the administration redirected to the border wall. And funding for the Department of Homeland Security is considered so controversial that Republican senators say they aren’t sure that they will even bring the bill up. Shelby characterized the spending talks as in “round one.” But asked if he could move DHS funding in his committee, Shelby demurred. “That’s challenging,” he said, before throwing his arms up as he got in an elevator. “Sooner or later we’re going to have to do something.” So, we will see. These last minute spending fights have become much more common in recent years and are very, very hard to control even when there is fairly broad underlying agreement. They are important and should be watched closely by producers as they emerge, Washington Insider believes.

| Rural Advocate News | Tuesday September 17, 2019 |


US Chamber of Commerce Says US/China meeting Friday The U.S. Chamber of Commerce says U.S. deputy-level officials will meet with their Chinese counterparts on Friday. The next meeting of top-level officials will likely occur either later this month or early October. U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer spoke to state and local business groups Monday in Washington, after which U.S. Chamber of Commerce Chief Executive Officer Thomas Donohue said while “there’s much more work” to be done on a trade deal with China he’s optimistic about passage of the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement by the end of the year. Donohue said while Lighthizer indicated there’s some movement on China buying U.S. farm products and other issues, getting a complete deal will be “an extraordinary challenge.”

| Rural Advocate News | Tuesday September 17, 2019 |


House Ag Panel Democrats Come Out Against Plan to Impact Farmer Aid The lack of a provision to address funding for the Commodity Credit Corporation (CCC) in a proposed continuing resolution (CR) to keep the government funded through November 21 has raised opposition from House Ag Committee Democratic leaders. The lack of the provision threatens to hold up trade aid payments to farmers. Rep. Filemon Vela, D-Texas, Chairman of the House Agriculture Subcommittee on General Farm Commodities; Jim Costa, D-Calif., Chairman of the Subcommittee on Livestock and Foreign Agriculture; and Collin Peterson, D-Minn., Chairman of House Agriculture Committee are leading efforts to secure the inclusion of language in the CR which would allow USDA to move forward with the recently announced Market Facilitation Program (MFP) payments. “As Members of Congress who represent agricultural communities, we repeatedly hear from farmers in our districts whose livelihoods have been severely impacted by the ongoing trade wars. Although we mutually have concerns with President Trump’s approach to trade negotiations, we refuse to engage in the same tactics that punish our constituents and harm our communities that rely on agriculture. The upcoming CR should include the anomaly requested by USDA that would allow them to access the $30 billion in spending of the Commodity Credit Corporation prior to October 1st to ensure that MFP and farm bill payments continue to go out. We cannot and will not allow our farmers to be used as political pawns.”

| Rural Advocate News | Tuesday September 17, 2019 |


Tuesday Watch List Markets The only report scheduled for Tuesday is U.S. Industrial Production in August, set for 8:15 a.m. CDT. Weather, trade-related news and after this weekend, news about the restoration of Saudi Arabia's oil facilities are all topics of current interest. Weather Dry conditions will cover all major crop areas Tuesday. Conditions will be very warm to hot, favoring crop development along with early harvest.

| Rural Advocate News | Monday September 16, 2019 |


China Lifts Punitive Tariffs on Pork, Soybeans A Chinese state news agency says the country will lift punitive tariffs imposed on U.S. soybeans and pork. Both China and the U.S. have made conciliatory gestures ahead of upcoming negotiations that will hopefully lead to an end to the trade war between the two nations. The Chicago Tribune says China will suspend tariff hikes on soybeans, pork, and some other farm goods. The Chinese Commerce Ministry says Beijing also supports “domestic companies in purchasing a certain amount of U.S. farm produce,” but didn’t give out any specific details. A release from the National Pork Producers Council says, “If media reports are accurate, this is a most welcome development.” The Chinese have placed punitive tariffs of 60 percent on most U.S. pork products, bringing the effective tariff rate for most U.S. pork to 72 percent. NPPC President David Herring says, “U.S. pork exports could singlehandedly make a huge dent in the trade imbalance with China. When you consider that China is the largest producer and consumer of pork in the world, the importance of this market to U.S. pork producers is clear.” ********************************************************************************************** China Buys Soybeans Ahead of Trade Talks Privately run Chinese firms bought at least ten boatloads of U.S. soybeans late last week. Reuters says that was the most significant Chinese purchase since June. The move comes ahead of high-level talks next month which both sides hope will end a trade war that’s gone on for over a year. The purchases totaled more than 600,000 tons and will be shipped out from export terminals in the Northwest U.S. between October and December. Reuters says the purchases are hopefully another indication that trade tensions between the two countries are easing. Talks hit another low point last month when China suspended all U.S. farm product purchases in response to threats by President Trump to impose more tariffs on Chinese imports. Jack Scoville, Vice President of Price Futures Group in Chicago says, “I’m impressed that the day they allow their commercial interests to buy from the United States, we’ve got this much sold immediately. Clearly, they’re trying to show what they can do if we get back to a normal trade relationship.” Also, late last week, the USDA reported China buying 10,878 tons of U.S. pork in the week ending September 5, the most in a single week since May. ********************************************************************************************** Farm Leaders, Congressmen Rally for USMCA Farm group leaders and members of Congress gathered at the National Mall in Washington, D.C., last week to rally for approving the U.S.-Mexico-Canada agreement on trade. The rally happened in front of a 25-foot RV decorated with pro-USMCA signs that had traveled 20,000 miles to 30 states and made 100 stops to promote approval during a “Motorcade for Trade” event sponsored by Farmers for Free Trade. The Hagstrom Report says House Ag Committee Chair Collin Peterson of Minnesota was in attendance. He’s already deviated from his personal history of opposition to trade agreements by endorsing the USMCA months ago. Peterson told folks attending the rally to be patient, but to also expect a vote sometime this fall. While U.S. Trade Rep Robert Lighthizer has sent his proposals to address Democrat concerns to House leadership, Peterson says he hasn’t seen them yet. Farmer leaders also repeated earlier statements that USMCA will provide farmers with new market access to Canada and Mexico while keeping the zero-tariff platform they rely on. Farmers for Free Trade also held a roundtable discussion last week for ag groups to discuss the impact of the USMCA on each sector. ********************************************************************************************** Top Democrat Attempting to Block Trade Aid House Appropriations Committee Chair Nita Lowey of New York is proposing to block a White House request regarding its farm trade aid program. A Washington Post review of the draft legislation says it would potentially mean trouble for President Trump’s ability to direct aid payments to thousands of American farmers. A key Republican lawmaker says the Democrat’s move could potentially stall a key bill needed to avoid another government shutdown. The farm bailout is one of several unresolved issues that lawmakers will have to work through to meet a deadline by the end of this month. Up until now, the payments haven’t needed congressional approval. However, the timing of the next round of payments is directly tied to approval from Congress. The USDA is planning to spend about $28 billion in payments over two years. However, the program Trump is using for the payments has a $30 billion spending limit, which they’re expected to hit this year before completing the second round of payments. Republicans have said they won’t support the government funding bill if it leaves the farm payment issue unresolved. ********************************************************************************************** Trump Touts “Progress” on Biofuels Deal President Donald Trump says his administration has made progress on a biofuel reform package after meeting with key farm-state senators late last week. The meetings were part of an ongoing effort to boost ethanol demand to help hard-hit corn farmers. Trump is having a hard time trying to appease two key constituencies, Big Oil and Big Corn, that he hopes will help propel him to reelection in 2020. “I think we had a great meeting on ethanol for the farmers,” Trump said to reporters at the White House last week. “Let’s see what happens.” Politico says despite recent meetings, it appears the White House doesn’t intend to slow down the Environmental Protection Agency’s use of waivers that allow some refiners to ignore ethanol-blending requirements under the Renewable Fuels Standard. It also seems as though the White House won’t offset the volumes expected to be lost to those exemptions in the annual rule. Trump is pushing a plan to add another 500 million gallons of ethanol and 500 million gallons of advanced biofuels to the 2020 blending mandate to appease farmers. ********************************************************************************************* Wisconsin Legislation will Stop Mislabeling of Dairy Products The Wisconsin Dairy Business Association is applauding three state lawmakers for new legislation designed to stop the use of misleading labels on imitation milk and other “dairy” products. The legislation would ban the labeling of products as milk or as a dairy product or ingredient if the food was not made from the milk of a cow, sheep, goat, or other mammals. Tom Crave, DBA President, says, “The plant-based food industry increasingly masquerades its products as real dairy foods. This mislabeling confuses customers who often make judgments about a food’s nutritional value based on its name.” Crave says words do matter. “Milk is milk and cheese is cheese,” he adds. “Customers deserve transparency.” A recent national survey about imitation cheese confirms customer confusion. About one-quarter of customers mistakenly think plant-based products that mimic cheese contain milk. About one-quarter of customers purchase plant-based foods that mimic cheese because they believe them to be low in calories and fat, as well as without additives. The reality is plant-based foods contain a comparable amount of fat and calories and substantially more additives than dairy cheeses.

| Rural Advocate News | Monday September 16, 2019 |


Washington Insider: Reduced Trade Tensions Almost everybody noticed last week after the U.S. delayed the imposition of some tariffs and China announced it is encouraging its companies to buy U.S. farm products including soybeans and pork. The media generally indicated that both the U.S. administration and Chinese leader Xi Jinping are working to lower tensions that are clouding the global economic outlook. For example, Bloomberg said that China needs more pork because it faces shortages that are pushing up prices during a holiday period, “prompting officials to ration sales in some areas.” “The ice is thawing,” said Chua Hak Bin, an economist at Maybank Kim Eng Research Pte., in Singapore. "China’s reciprocity to the U.S. administration’s goodwill gesture will set the stage for more cooperative trade talks.” On the Chinese side, the government faces soaring pork prices that could potentially mar celebrations for the 70th anniversary of the People’s Republic of China’s founding on Oct. 1, Bloomberg said. It hopes to import 2 million tons for the year, some of which would be added to state reserves, the report said. China bought 237,800 metric tons of U.S. pork and variety meats from January through July of this year, according to USDA data, a 51% increase from low 2018 sales to China. Data published by the European Commission on the EU’s pork exports show that during the first half of 2019, EU exports to China grew by 42% compared to the same period in 2019, going from 680,686 metric tons in 2018 to 965,768 metric tons in 2019. The New York Times noted that the news of China’s action came after President Trump delayed the next round of tariff increases on Chinese goods until after trade talks scheduled for early October—and after officials in Washington confirmed China had made its first major purchase of American soybeans in months. China’s move was welcomed by the administration as an effort to help ease tensions ahead of the next round of talks. “The really good part about this is there is some relaxation in the air with China exempting some tariffs. We’ve returned the favor and the negotiations are moving along nicely,” Larry Kudlow, director of the National Economic Council, said on Friday. The increased imports will “only go part of the way to addressing shortages.” The country is likely to see a 10 million ton pork deficit this year, more than the roughly 8 million tons in annual global trade, according to Vice Premier Hu Chunhua. That means the country will need to fill the gap by itself, he said. China halted U.S. farm-product imports in August after trade negotiations deteriorated. Before that, Beijing had given the go-ahead for five companies to buy up to 3 million tons of U.S. soybeans free of retaliatory import tariffs, Bloomberg said. The goods China exempted from additional tariffs this week included pharmaceuticals, lubricant oil, alfalfa, fish meal and pesticides. Further rounds of Chinese exemptions will be announced in due course, the ministry said. The Times also emphasized the negative impacts of the trade fight on some U.S. farmers. It said that the political implications of the trade fight for farmers have been widely acknowledged and came up in Thursday’s Democratic presidential debate. Administration advisers continue to say they will still press China for a “transformative” deal but many are also eager to calm tensions and avoid further tariff increases that might rock equity markets. There has even been talk of “striking an arrangement that would walk back the latest tranche of the administration’s tariffs on $112 billion of Chinese goods, leaving tariffs on at least $250 billion of products in place in return for substantial purchases of soybeans, pork and other products, the Times said — but emphasized that it is far from clear how China would react to such an offer. Friday’s state media reports from China, brief in length and substance, left unclear whether it would be willing to consider roll-backs of tariffs previously placed on American goods. It began to stop imports of American agricultural products a year ago as trade tensions escalated. The trade war, with a rising number of goods being taxed, not only has pushed prices higher for businesses and consumers in China and the United States, but risks a more permanent chill in relations between the two countries, a threat increasingly discussed by producer groups. So, we will see. It now seems that both sides agree that they would benefit from better trade relations. However, these negotiations are fundamentally political and therefore subject to forces that are exceedingly difficult to appraise. It is a debate producers should watch extremely closely as it proceeds, Washington Insider believes.

| Rural Advocate News | Monday September 16, 2019 |


Speaker Pelosi Addresses USMCA Possibilities “It boils down to enforceability... and I think it can be achieved,” House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., said Thursday relative to the U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA). Meanwhile, House Agriculture Committee Chairman Collin Peterson, D-Minn., said he expected Congress to vote on USMCA within the next one or two months. "Right now, I am optimistic about getting this done," Peterson said during a rally in Washington in favor of the agreement. Democrats are now examining information sent to them by U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer, sparking more optimism that the issue will be headed for a vote. We continue to expect that a vote in the House will be held, likely in the November-December timeframe and it will be approved.

| Rural Advocate News | Monday September 16, 2019 |


Xinhua Reports US Soybeans, Pork Exempted From Additional Tariffs Markets are abuzz on reports from the Xinhua news that U.S. soybeans and pork will be exempted from additional tariffs. “The Customs Tariff Commission of the State Council will exclude some agricultural products such as soybeans and pork from the additional tariffs on U.S. goods,” Xinhua reported. “China supports domestic companies in purchasing a certain amount of U.S. farm produce in line with the rules of the market and the World Trade Organization, according to sources with the National Development and Reform Commission and the Ministry of Commerce,” the report noted. The news service also noted the move was “after the United States decided to make adjustments to the additional tariffs to be imposed on Chinese goods on October 1.” Plus, the report talked up “high-quality” U.S. farm products. “China has a huge market, and the prospects for importing high-quality U.S. farm produce are broad,” Xinhua said. “China hopes the United States will be true to its word, make progress on its commitments and create favorable conditions for bilateral agricultural cooperation, said sources with the relevant departments of China.” This backs up a Xinhua report Thursday which said the list of 16 U.S. products that would be exempt from additional tariffs was the "first set of U.S. goods to be excluded," with Ministry of Commerce spokesman Gao Feng saying the commission would "continue to work on the exemption process and release subsequent lists in due course," Xinhua said.

| Rural Advocate News | Monday September 16, 2019 |


Monday Watch List Markets Early Monday, new forecasts for the week and any trade news that might have come out over the weekend will be topics of interest. USDA's weekly grain inspections are released at 10 a.m. CDT, followed by the Crop Progress report at 3 p.m. CDT. The percent of corn dented remains widely watched. Weather Dry conditions will be in place over all primary crop areas Monday. Conditions will be very warm to hot. No freeze threat is indicated through the next 10 days.

| Rural Advocate News | Friday September 13, 2019 |


Agriculture Pleased with WOTUS Repeal Agriculture groups Thursday celebrated the Waters of the U.S. repeal by Trump administration as a victory. The rule greatly expanded the EPA’s federal jurisdiction and scope of waterbodies subject to Clean Water Act requirements. Senate Agriculture Chairman Pat Roberts says the action to repeal and replace the 2015 WOTUS rule will “alleviate regulatory burden” on farmers and ranchers. The repeal reverts regulations to those in place before 2015, while the Trump administration works to craft a new rule. The American Farm Bureau Federation called the repeal a victory for farmers and ranchers. AFBF President Zippy Duvall says Farm Bureau will now “work to ensure a fair and reasonable substitute that protects our water and our ability to work and care for the land.” Last month, a U.S. District Court ruled the Environmental Protection Agency must redraft the rule, stating the 2015 rule violated the Clean Water Act, and that the procedures for enacting the WOTUS rule were in violation of the Administrative Procedures Act. ************************************************************************************* USDA Lowers Corn and Soybean Production Estimates The monthly World Agriculture Supply and Demand report released by the Department of Agriculture lowered corn and soybean production. Markets responded closing six to seven cents higher for corn, and soybeans up 26-30 cents Thursday. This month’s corn outlook is for reduced production, lower corn used for ethanol, and slightly higher ending stocks. Corn production is forecast at 13.799 billion bushels, down 102 million from last month on a lower yield forecast, and supplies were lowered, as well. The season-average corn price received by producers is unchanged at $3.60 per bushel. USDA projects Soybean production at 3.6 billion bushels, down 47 million on a lower yield forecast of 47.9 bushels per acre, and soybean supplies are down two percent. Ending stocks are projected at 640 million bushels, down 115 million from last month. The season-average soybean price is forecast at $8.50 per bushel, up ten cents. The wheat supply and demand outlook is unchanged this month. The projected season-average farm price is $4.80 per bushel, down $0.20. ************************************************************************************* Lighthizer Submits USMCA Proposal to House Democrats U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer has sent the House of Representatives the latest White House proposal for addressing Democrats concerns in the U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement. Democrats are now reviewing the proposal, according to Reuters. House leadership holds the key to passing the agreement that replaces the North American Free Trade Agreement. Democrats have argued for stronger labor, environmental and enforcement standards within the trade agreement. While little details have emerged as to how the White House proposes to address those concerns, optimism is growing that Congress can pass the agreement before the end of the year. Ag organization leaders and farm-state lawmakers attended a rally outside the Capitol Thursday morning, in support of USMCA. American Farm Bureau Federation President Zippy Duvall says passing the agreement would “bring certainty to our already-positive trade relationship with our closest neighbors.” The rally included House Ag Chairman Collin Peterson and the committee’s top Republican Mike Conaway. Lighthizer is expected to meet with the House working group on USMCA next week. ************************************************************************************* Organic Trade Association Launches Fraud Prevention Program The Organic Trade Association this week announced the development of three online training courses to bolster its Organic Fraud Prevention Solutions program. The training courses are designed for organic businesses, accredited certifiers and organic inspectors, with one of the courses a pre-requisite for businesses pre-enrolled in the program. The Organic Fraud Prevention Solutions program was launched by the Organic Trade Association earlier this year, and almost four dozen organic businesses have joined. The new anti-fraud courses will analyze where opportunities for crime in the organic supply chain most commonly occur, and offers education on the Organic Fraud Prevention Plan and how to put it into real on-the-job practice. A spokesperson for the Organic Trade Association says the effort “will strengthen our ability to protect against fraud and maintain the integrity of organic.” The three online courses will be available in late 2019 and early 2020. Enrollment and program information is available on the association’s website, OTA.com. ************************************************************************************* FFA Announces Record Student Membership The National FFA Organization announced this week a record-high student membership of 700,170, up from nearly 670,000 in 2018. National FFA Organization CEO Mark Poeschl (Peh-shl) says the membership growth “reflects continued enthusiasm for agriculture as well as agricultural education.” The top six student membership states are Texas, California, Georgia, Oklahoma, Ohio and Missouri. Interest in FFA and agricultural education continues to grow as membership continues to increase. This year, the organization has more than 100,000 Latino members, 45 percent of the membership is female with 52 percent of the membership being male. Females hold more than 50 percent of the leadership positions. FFA chapters can be found in 24 of the 25 largest U.S. cities. The National FFA Organization provides leadership, personal growth and career success training through agricultural education to student members who belong to one of the more than 8,600 local FFA chapters. The organization is also supported by more than eight million alumni and supporters. ************************************************************************************* NASDA Elects North Dakota’s Goehring as President The National Association of State Departments of Agriculture this week elected a new slate of officers for the coming year. North Dakota Agriculture Commissioner Doug Goehring (Gore-ing) will serve as NASDA’s 2019-20 President and will host the 2020 NASDA Annual Meeting in Medora, North Dakota next August. Goehring says, “Now is the time to leverage NASDA’s nonpartisanship to get things accomplished in Washington D.C.” to help struggling farmers and ranchers. Also elected to NASDA’s Board of Directors were Kentucky Commissioner of Agriculture Ryan Quarles as Vice President, and New York Commissioner of Agriculture Richard Ball as Second Vice President. The organization held its annual meeting this week in Albuquerque, New Mexico. A top policy amendment for the group passed during the meeting supports voluntary, incentive-based climate-smart agricultural programs. During the meeting, the organization adopted new climate resiliency policy. California Secretary of Agriculture Karen Ross introduced the policy amendment. The policy asserts that addressing climate resiliency in agriculture requires a comprehensive approach.

| Rural Advocate News | Friday September 13, 2019 |


Washington Insider: War on the Fed and Push for Negative Interest Rates While President Donald Trump’s criticism of the Fed is not exactly news, there is a new wrinkle — he recently urged not only low rates but that the Fed should “get our interest rates down to ZERO, or less,” Bloomberg and others are reporting this week. “We should then start to refinance our debt. INTEREST COST COULD BE BROUGHT WAY DOWN, while at the same time substantially lengthening the term,” the President tweeted. Bloomberg quickly called the idea “flawed” and noted that “while it’s true that the government could sell bonds at lower interest rates than those on much of its outstanding debt, it would have to pay a big premium to buy back and retire some old bonds, effectively negating the financial benefits. Certain mature treasuries, for instance, fetch prices of as high as $1.40 for every $1 of face value.” The report also noted that the current federal funds target rate is already on a track to be lowered following a quarter-point reduction on July 31 — the first cut since the Fed lowered rates effectively to zero in 2008, during the worst financial crisis and economic downturn since the Great Depression. Barrons weekly newsletter published by Dow Jones and Company went into even more detail but agreed that negative rates likely would bring their own problems. Barrons cited industry views that the call for negative rates reflects the view of the self-proclaimed “King of Debt” and thinks the President’s view “that of a highly leveraged property developer…thinking about negative rates from the perspective of a borrower.” It cites especially comments by Paul Ashworth, chief U.S. economist at Capital Economics. He notes that the Fed has been lukewarm at best about such a possibility, “partly because officials know that it could cause outrage among savers and drag the central bank into a political maelstrom.” Money-market funds also could see large-scale outflows which could disrupt short-term funding for businesses, banks, and perhaps even the Treasury. Moreover, the record of negative rates in the euro zone, Sweden, Denmark, Switzerland, and Japan has been mixed, Ashworth continues. While bond yields have fallen below zero, banks been reluctant to impose negative rates on depositors, resulting in a squeeze on their profits. Trump has said that the U.S. deserves to have subzero interest rates since it has “a great currency, power, balance sheet.” In fact, negative interest rates reflect the economic torpor in Europe and Japan. By contrast, U.S. interest rates were at their peak in real terms when it was “Morning in America” in the mid-1980s, Barrons said. Long-term Treasury bonds briefly touched 14% in May 1984 — a full 10 percentage points above inflation. Now, real yields on Treasury inflation-protected securities are just above zero. The 10-year TIPS yields 0.14% while the 30-year TIPS yields 0.56%. After taxes, which are levied annually on the inflation adjustment, those yields already are below zero. Unlike last year, Trump’s Fed bashing now seems unfounded, Barrons thinks — since the bank is already poised to cut its federal-funds target rate at next week’s meeting of the Federal Open Market Committee. The fed-funds futures market puts an 88.8% probability of a cut of 25 basis points then and a 72.3% probability of a further reduction of 25 basis points or more at its December meeting. The Fed also has ended the shrinkage of its balance sheet, the report said. Meanwhile, the stock market has been rallying, with the S&P 500 retaking the 3000 level Wednesday for the first time since July 30. That left the benchmark just 0.82% shy of its record and up 2.54% since the start of the month. The Dow Jones Industrial Average was just 0.81% away from its all-time high. The report concludes, “be careful what you wish for when calling for zero or negative interest rates, Mr. President.” So, we will see. The President appears to have already turned the Fed’s attention toward guarding against negative impacts from trade fights and it will now be important to watch how large that shift proves to be — policies and trends producers should watch closely over the coming weeks, Washington Insider believes.

| Rural Advocate News | Friday September 13, 2019 |


EPA Finalizes Repeal of Obama-Era WOTUS Rule Rollback of the Obama-era Waters of the U.S. (WOTUS) rule was finalized by the Trump administration Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and U.S. Army Corps of Engineers on Thursday. The Obama-era WOTUS rule expanded Clean Water Act jurisdiction to cover over 60% of bodies of water across the U.S. The rollback will narrow the scope of the CWA to the 1986 standards in place before the 2015 regulation while EPA continues work on a new update to the rule. "With this final repeal, the agencies will implement the pre-2015 regulations, which are currently in place in more than half of the states, informed by applicable agency guidance documents and consistent with Supreme Court decisions and longstanding agency practice," EPA said in a September 12 statement. Repeal of the 2015 rule will be effective 60 days after being published in the Federal Register.

| Rural Advocate News | Friday September 13, 2019 |


Trump Delays Increases in China Tariffs With Talks Set For Next Week Both China and the U.S. are confirming that there will be working-level or deputy-level talks between the two countries next week. That came in the wake of President Donald Trump announcing Wednesday even he will delay for two weeks a tariff rate increase on $250 billion worth of Chinese goods ahead of upcoming trade negotiations. “At the request of the Vice Premier of China, Liu He, and due to the fact that the People's Republic of China will be celebrating their 70th Anniversary.... on October 1st, we have agreed, as a gesture of good will, to move the increased Tariffs on 250 Billion Dollars worth of goods (25 percent to 30 percent), from October 1st to October 15th,” Trump said in a pair of tweets. Meanwhile, China’s Commerce Ministry today welcomed the postponement and said Chinese companies had started making price inquiries for U.S. agricultural goods including soybeans and pork, although there were no details on the timing or size of any intended purchases. Beijing suspended purchases of the U.S. products in August. Ministry spokesman Gao Feng said that the possible resumption of agricultural products is not a bargaining chip in trade talks. With top-level talks hoped for in early October, those are expected before October 15 which would open the door to a further postponement of higher U.S. tariffs.

| Rural Advocate News | Friday September 13, 2019 |


Friday Watch List Markets There is little on the economic docket on Friday other than retail sales,. DTN will also be looking for confirmation of a rumored China purchase of 600,000 mt of U.S. soybewans on Thursday and any news regarding the U.S.-Japanese trade accord. Weather Friday will be dry over most crop areas. A few showers will develop in the far southern Plains. Flood issues will continue in the Northern Plains and northern Midwest after heavy rain earlier this week. There is no freeze threat indicated in the next seven days. Meanwhile, extreme heat in the southern and southeastern U.S. remains in effect

| Rural Advocate News | Thursday September 12, 2019 |


China Removes Some Tariffs, Pork, Soybean Tariffs Remain China this week announced tariff exemptions for 16 U.S. products, but not for top agricultural commodities. China’s Minister of Finance says the exemptions will apply to some anti-cancer drugs and lubricants, as well as animal feed ingredients of whey and fish meal. China says the exemptions are an effort to remove tariffs on products not easily sourced from countries other than the United States. The exemptions are valid for one year, expiring in September 2020, and 12 products on the list are eligible for tariff refunds. The exemptions do include products used in piglet feed, difficult to source in large volumes from elsewhere. The exemptions do not include U.S. pork or soybeans, two commodities China has targeted in retaliation to U.S. tariffs. Some analysts view the move as a friendly gesture but don’t see it as a signal that both sides are readying a deal, according to Reuters. The U.S. and China are set to meet next month in Washington, D.C. to continue high-level trade talks. ************************************************************************************* Tariffs Cost U.S. Importers $6.8 Billion in July Trade group Tariffs Hurt the Heartland claims the tariffs enacted by President Donald Trump cost U.S. importers a record $6.8 billion in July. The vast majority were on Chinese goods, though the administration has imposed on other commodities. Michelle Meyer, an economist with Bank of America, says, “The unpredictable nature of the trade will keep businesses, at best, in wait-and-see mode.” Before the trade war with China began, the organization says the U.S. was shipping $1.47 billion more in hardwoods overseas than American companies were importing. However, that surplus shrank last year as the U.S. imposed double-digit tariffs on Chinese goods, and Beijing retaliated. The industry is agricultural but relies on a crop that can take 30 years to mature as opposed to a single growing season. Members of the Hardwood Federation, a Washington-based trade group representing the $210 billion industry, are eager for a trade agreement, though they believe it will still take considerable time to rebuild the ground they have lost in China. ************************************************************************************* EU Ag Commissioner Named to Trade Post The European Union Ag Commissioner is taking a new job, becoming the EU trade commissioner. Phil Hogan will take the place of Cecilia Malmström in November, according to Politico. Hogan will oversee trade talks with the United States, if the talks launch, pending a standoff over the inclusion of agriculture. Hogan will also be tasked with developing retaliations against countries blocking the dispute settlement system of the World Trade Organization, which includes the United States. Hogan was appointed to the trade position by European Commission President-elect Ursula von der Leyen (lay-in), who says she will travel to Washington “the moment I’m in office,” to discuss tariffs threats with President Donald Trump. Hogan says he is looking forward to helping von der Leyen pursue a “strong, open and fair trade agenda,” and strengthening Europe’s role as a global trade leader, adding that trade is “political priority” for the European Commission. Hogan has served as European Commissioner for Agriculture and Rural Development since November 2014. ************************************************************************************* Processing Equipment Manufacturer Says U.S. Lacks Hemp Processing Needs Hemp farmers are worried about losses because of a lack of processing equipment. Delta Separations, a manufacturer of hemp processing equipment, claims the holdup is because U.S. banks won't make loans for processing equipment. The company's CEO says banks are "scared that the FDIC will penalize them for supporting anyone that has the word cannabis in their supply chain." Because of this, the company claims farmers fear $7.5 billion of hemp will be rotting in fields this fall. The U.S. lacks roughly 90 percent of the processing capacity needed for hemp. Hemp represents a potential $8.5 billion market, according to the company, which says much of the potential is contributed to CBD oils. CBD is one of the fastest-growing consumer product segments, as 128,00 acres of hemp were planted this year, a 300 percent increase, now the hemp cultivation is legal. The 2018 farm bill legalized hemp for production, and the Department of Agriculture is working on guidance for hemp production and processing, due out later this year. ************************************************************************************* AEM Releases August Ag Equipment Sales Numbers August 2019 saw increases in U.S. sales of combines and four-wheel-drive tractors as well as total U.S. two-wheel-drive tractor sales compared to August of last year. The Association of Equipment Manufactures monthly sales report shows four-wheel-drive tractor sales increased 19.3 percent in August compared to last year and combine sales increased 11.5 percent. Total sales of two-wheel-drive tractors in August increased 1.9 percent compared to August last year. Sales of under 40 horsepower two-wheel-drive tractors increased 2.1 percent, while sales of 40-100 horsepower tractors decreased 1.4 percent, and sales of 100-plus horsepower tractors increased 13.6 percent. For Canada, August four-wheel-drive tractor sales were flat and combine sales decreased 45.4 percent. August two-wheel-drive tractor Canadian sales were mixed, with a 9.9 percent increase in small tractors, and a 4.2 percent increase in 40-100 horsepower tractors. AEM’s Curt Blades says that, while the numbers are flat to positive for the year, “we and the industry remain cautious about the overall Ag economy.” ************************************************************************************ ESMC Partners with United Soybean Board, The Ecosystem Services Market Consortium has received $255,000 from the United Soybean Board to help develop an ecosystem service protocol for the Soy and Corn Belt. ESMC's ecosystem services protocols measure soil organic carbon, greenhouse gas emissions, water quality and water use efficiency. Through the partnership, ESMC will work with soybean farmers in Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska and Ohio in a pilot project covering 50,000 acres. The Consortium will be building on its experience with an initial pilot project in the Southern Great Plains on 12 ranches in Oklahoma and Texas. ESMC champions a voluntary, market-based approach to incentivize farmers and ranchers to implement conservation practices that provide quantified ecosystem benefits. The resulting environmental credits will be available for purchase by corporations to meet their sustainability goals when ESMC launches its marketplace in 2022. The Consortium's long-term goals are to enroll 30 percent of available land in the top four crop regions and top four pasture regions to impact 250 million acres by 2030.

| Rural Advocate News | Thursday September 12, 2019 |


Washington Insider: Farmers and the Trade Bailout Press reports this week indicate that a great deal of media ink continues to be dedicated to the political impact of administration trade policies. And at the same time, the Washington Post is highlighting what it calls “the growing concerns” by some administration insiders over the “unprecedented farmer bailout.” The report says that senior government officials, including some in the White House, privately expressed concern that the administration’s $28 billion bailout for farmers “needed stronger legal backing,” according to several officials who participated in the programs’ planning. The bailout was created by the administration as a way to try to calm outrage from farmers who have been caught in the middle of the White House’s trade war with China. USDA authorized $12 billion in payments last year and another $16 billion this year, and “more money could be on the way,” the President promised. But two USDA officials involved in the program told the Post they were worried the funding could surpass the original intent of the New Deal-era Commodity Credit Corporation, which is being used to manage the programs. Separately, some officials in the Office of Management and Budget also raised questions about the scope of the $16 billion second round of payments. They pushed USDA to provide more legal reasoning for the effort, the officials said. Now the department says the concerns raised by OMB have been resolved. Concerns about the programs are coming at a crucial time as many farmers are relying on the funding. However, Congressional approval likely will be required to allow the program to exceed its current $30 billion cap on payments. The Post says that while the President has touted his financial support for farmers, administration officials have said little publicly about “internal consternation” over the process. White House aides are for the first time pressing Congress to increase how much the administration can spend under the program before hitting Commodity Credit Corporation’s (CCC’s) legal spending limit, likely this fall. The bulk of the current program consists of direct checks intended to compensate for farmer losses from the trade war. There is little precedent for such an open-ended farmer bailout of this nature, the Post says. Even some officials who believe the bailout is legally sound worry about its scope and the speed with which it is being implemented. “They’re doing it really fast and shorthanded,” a former USDA official who spent several decades involved in reviewing new department regulations but left the government earlier this year told the Post. “The agencies implementing it are stretched thin, and there’s immense political pressure to get the money out quick.” In a statement to the Post, USDA acknowledged that OMB had raised concerns as part of its “normal clearance process” but said it cleared the package before it was published in the Federal Register. The statement also said OMB has no outstanding requests about the programs and that both “have been deemed legal by department attorneys.” The administration says its trade war is necessary to counter anticompetitive Chinese economic measures. However, China’s retaliatory actions have increased economic pressure on thousands of American farmers. Net farm income has fallen by nearly half over the past five years, from $123 billion to $63 billion. Still, close to three in 10 farmers feel the bailout payments will “not at all” make up for losses related to the tariff battle in 2019, according to an index calculated by Purdue University released this month. But about 70% said the bailout would either “completely or somewhat relieve” their concerns about the tariffs. Questions around the program’s design may become increasingly urgent as the administration seeks approval from Congress to bailout funding for the first time. The CCC is expected to hit its $30 billion borrowing limit sometime after Oct. 1, according to an administration request for budget increases first reported by Roll Call. In addition, it is unclear how strong producer support is for the administration’s trade policy. For example, Reuters reported this week that many farmers are angry and that some are directing their wrath not at the Republican president, but at Washington's bureaucracy. The report notes that the administration has faced backlash from agricultural groups, ethanol producers and Midwestern politicians, but that polls still show that while administration support in farm country has slipped, it remains substantial. In still another wrinkle, Reuters says that instead of directing their anger at the administration, dozens of farmers interviewed blasted USDA and other Washington institutions they believe are thwarting his true agenda. “Unsubstantiated conspiracy theories involving USDA staff are circulating in farm country and gaining traction online,” Reuters said. So, we will see. Numerous ag observers warned earlier that proposed bailout programs were unlikely to fully pacify producers, who have invested heavily in overseas markets. Such bailout efforts failed badly in 1980 following the administration’s embargo on ag product shipments to Russia and the following severe political pushbacks and bad feelings that have persisted to this day. It may be difficult for the current administration to escape similar criticism, especially if current trade negotiations fail and overseas markets decline further. These are developments producers should watch closely over the coming months, Washington Insider believes.

| Rural Advocate News | Thursday September 12, 2019 |


White House Told Biofuel Backers to Accept Boost in RFS Levels Trump administration officials urged biofuel companies to accept a proposed increase of around five percent in the 2020 biofuel targets under the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS), with reports indicating the companies were told they needed to accept the plan by Friday. While some question if that was merely a negotiating tactic on the part of the administration, indications are the administration told biofuel interests work on boosting the 2020 biofuel levels beyond the marks proposed by EPA earlier this year would need to be started by Friday for the final version of the 2020 standards if the administration were to stick to the law requiring the standards to be finalized by November 30. A meeting was expected to be held later Wednesday with refiners who have also chafed at the proposal to increase the levels for conventional biofuel by 500 million gallons and advanced biofuels by 500 million gallons. That would increase the total biofuel mandate to 21.04 billion gallons for 2020. It was not clear whether the White House would make the same “request” of refiners – that they accept the plan by Friday.

| Rural Advocate News | Thursday September 12, 2019 |


Treasury’s Mnuchin Says Ag Key Focus for This Month’s Trade Talks With China Deputy-level talks between the U.S. and China this month will have a focus on agriculture, Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin told the Senate Banking Committee Tuesday. Mnuchin assured lawmakers that they have spent a “lot of time even on trying to get an interim agreement” on agricultural issues with China. “I never thought I would become an expert on soybeans and other agricultural products,” he noted. “I have been accused at times of just wanting to sell soybeans. That is not what we are trying to do. But we want to make sure that China treats our farmers fairly and does not retaliate against the farmers in an unfair way.” As for the talks later this month at the deputy level, Mnuchin said, “I can tell you that [agriculture] is top of the agenda for the conversations we are having this month." Mnuchin also referred to China’s commitments to buy U.S. ag goods that have not been met with actual purchases. “I can also tell you that there were specific commitments made in the Oval Office from the Chinese that they did not follow through on and that has been great concern on us for U.S. farmers,” he noted.

| Rural Advocate News | Thursday September 12, 2019 |


Thursday Watch List Markets Weekly jobless claims, consumer price index and core CPI are three reports out at 8:30 a.m. DTN will also be watching updated weather, any news on the U.S.-China trade talks and the biofuel meeting at the White House, and of course at 11 a.m. the all-important September USDA report. Weather Rain and developing strong winds in the northern plains and the southeast Canadian Prairies regions during Thursday will bring field work to a halt. Rain and thunderstorms also extend southeast into the northwest and north-central Midwest regions. Flooding remains a risk due to recent rains in the northwest and north-central Midwest and an increasing risk in the Northern Plains as well. Scattered thundershowers this afternoon or tonight will also occur in the east and south Iowa area southwest through southeast Kansas and into Oklahoma. Drier elsewhere in the key U.S. and Canada growing areas Thursday.

| Rural Advocate News | Wednesday September 11, 2019 |


China Ready to Purchase U.S. Ag Goods China is expected to agree to purchase more U.S. agricultural products in hopes of a better trade agreement. The South China Morning Post reports working-level officials were discussing the text of a deal, which would be reviewed when trade officials meet in Washington next month. The text is based on details negotiated back in April, before talks fell apart in May, after China backtracked on several previously agreed-upon issues. China offered to purchase more U.S. agricultural products in exchange for the U.S. delaying implementation of further tariffs. China may also offer more market access and better intellectual property protection, according to a Chinese source familiar with the talks. A Chinese official told a group of U.S. business representatives Tuesday that China wats a "mutually accepted solution to the trade dispute." However, U.S. trade experts based in China suggests the October meeting is an attempt to peacefully get past the 70th anniversary of the People's Republic of China, suggesting talks will stall in 2020. ************************************************************************************* Navarro: Congress Will Pass USMCA yet This Year Peter Navarro says there is a 100 percent chance Congress will pass the U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement. The advisor to President Donald Trump told CNBC news that he “can’t imagine that Nancy Pelosi would not put this on the floor to at least have a vote.” He expects the vote will occur before the end of this year. Navarro has played a critical role in the negotiations with Canada and Mexico, as well as in the current U.S.-China trade war. Democrats in the House are still voicing concerns over labor and environmental standards included in the trade agreement. Speaker of the House, Pelosi, has not offered comment in response to Navarro’s claims. The U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement replaces the North American Free Trade Agreement and offers improved trade for U.S. agriculture. Farm groups are planning a rally Thursday at the capitol in support of the agreement, and urging lawmakers to pass the trade deal. Mexico has already approved the agreement, and Canada is in the process of gaining approval for the trade deal. ************************************************************************************* Report: Lack of Infrastructure Investment Threatens Export Future An independent report says a lack of funding for infrastructure improvements could put more than $72 billion in additional GDP and 77,000 new jobs at risk. The report by Agribusiness Intelligence was commissioned by the Department of Agriculture’s Agricultural Marketing Service. The study examined three scenarios that included potential impacts of reduced investment for U.S. waterways, maintaining the status quo of less than two percent growth, or increased investment of $6.3 billion during the next ten years. Currently, appropriated funds, which are considered maintaining the status quo, do not enable the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to keep pace with barge-volume traffic, or growth and infrastructure maintenance needs. As a result, the percentage of vessels delayed on all waterways has increased from 35 percent in 2010 to 49 percent in 2017, which, in turn, adds to the total shipping cost. A spokesperson concludes, “the U.S. inland waterways infrastructure needs major rehabilitation and construction to restore it to its full capability, to forestall major disruptions, and provide opportunities for growth.” ************************************************************************************* NBB Asks President Trump to Save Small Biodiesel Producers The National Biodiesel Board is urging President Donald Trump to protect small biodiesel producers. The organization penned a letter to the President this week, asking he “save” small biodiesel producers harmed by his administration's small refinery exemptions. The letter indicates that more than 200 million gallons of U.S. biodiesel production capacity has been idled as a result of policy instability. NBB anticipates additional facilities will close over the next several months if the President does not “take quick action to restore RFS volumes for biodiesel and renewable diesel." The letter highlights additional policy headwinds that NBB says are harming the biodiesel industry, including the U.S. Department of Commerce's recent proposal to “virtually eliminate” trade protections against heavily subsidized biodiesel imports. Kurt Kovarik, NBB Vice President of Federal Affairs, added, "Its important for President Trump to keep his word and continue supporting the Renewable Fuel Standard.” NBB is asking the administration to restore RFS volumes undercut by exemptions and to provide growth opportunities for biodiesel. ************************************************************************************* Organic Sector Set to Harvest Record Acreage Organic farmers will harvest a record number of acres across the U.S. this year despite the weather and trade challenges plaguing agriculture in 2019. According to the Annual Acreage Report by Mercaris (mur-car-us), farmers will harvest 3.1 million acres of U.S. land certified for organic production, an increase of seven percent over 2018. The increase is driven in large part by a surge in new certified organic field crop operations across the nation. The West and High Plains regions saw the largest jump in organic harvested field crop acres this year. Overall total organic acres, which includes pasture, rangeland, and organic crop area, will reach 8.3 million acres this year. Additionally, more than 18,000 U.S. farm operation are now certified compliant with the USDA National Organic Program standards, a three percent increase from 2018. A Mercaris spokesperson says the increase comes despite weather challenges this year, and that “with better weather in 2020, the industry will likely see even more growth in the year to come." ************************************************************************************* Alltech Announces Industry-wide Survey on Women in Agriculture Alltech has launched a survey to gather insights into the professional landscape for women in agriculture. Announced Tuesday, the survey aims to collect feedback about the barriers that impede progress, and to identify the resources needed to ensure workplace equality. The survey is open to all sectors of agriculture, and the results will be revealed at the Women in Food & Agriculture Summit this December in Amsterdam. Alltech CEO Mark Lyons says, “we hope to gain a better understanding of the challenges facing women in ag and identify opportunities for growth.” Lyons says the industry needs to make sure “young people see themselves represented and can envision a future career in the industry.” Alltech has partnered with AgriBriefing to conduct the survey. Women and men in agriculture are encouraged to participate in the survey that will contribute to global conversation about gender equality in agriculture. A link to the survey can be found online at Alltech.com/news.

| Rural Advocate News | Wednesday September 11, 2019 |


Washington Insider: Fight Over Trade Facts For the past several years there has been an important policy disagreement in many quarters over trade basics — whether trade deals simply ship jobs overseas, or not. Powerful groups in both parties openly disagree on trade issues, a controversy that is not new; the previous administration sharply criticized trade impacts during its campaign, but later came to support proposals for far-reaching deals. Many press reports glibly cite trade agreements as the source of U.S. job losses in several sectors, although more recently, more detailed investigations have begun to focus on the role of new technologies in increasing productivity and causing changes in the investment and employment landscape. Still, the current administration has adamantly insisted that its heavy reliance on tariffs — taxes and tax threats on imports — has little impact on the domestic economy. And the New York Times is reporting this week that Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said that “President Trump’s tariffs on Chinese imports were having no impact on the United States economy.” The Times called the assertion “at odds with a raft of increasingly gloomy economic data and industry surveys.” It noted that the administration has used large tariffs — increased rates on $360 billion of imports from China and is preparing to tax another $160 billion worth on Dec. 15. It concluded that the levies have begun to hit consumer products including furniture, televisions and bicycles, prompting retailers and manufacturers to warn of lower sales and profits going forward. And, it cited the administration’s provision of $28 billion in payments “to help struggling farmers who have lost sales as a result of Chinese retaliation” as evidence of current and potential negative impacts. While the United States and China are expected to resume high-level trade talks next month, and a deal could ultimately be reached, Secretary Mnuchin suggested that the administration “saw no downside to keeping the trade war going, dismissing the idea that Trump’s tariffs were doing any damage to the United States economy.” “It’s fair to say it’s impacted the Chinese economy,” Mnuchin said in a TV interview. “We have not yet seen any impact on the U.S. economy.” Mnuchin’s comments dovetail with those of the President who has continued to insist that the trade war is hurting China more than the United States, “which is taking in billions of dollars in tariffs.” Still, the Times charged that “the Treasury secretary’s view seems increasingly divorced from economic data, which are showing pain from a trade war that has lasted more than a year.” The report proceeded to list statements and studies that report such impacts, including those already affecting the economy. For example, last week an Institute for Supply Management survey showed that manufacturing activity in the United States contracted for the first time since 2016 and employment growth was moderating. Countries from Germany to Australia are feeling the effects of the trade war, contributing to a slowdown in a global growth, the report said. The Treasury secretary did allow that certain companies had been feeling the pinch from higher taxes on their imports from China but claimed that the administration was managing this through an exemption process that allowed companies to avoid certain tariffs to help mitigate the effect. “It is the U.S. importer which technically pays the tax,” said Brad Setser, a Council on Foreign Relations fellow and former Treasury Department economist. “The extent that other countries pay for a share of the tax, it is because the tax induces them to reduce the price they charge to the United States.” Business groups representing a wide range of sectors, from retailers to soybean growers, have blamed the tariffs and China’s retaliation for disrupting their supply chains and slowing their sales and hiring. However, the administration’s top spokesmen and economic advisers have publicly tried to put a positive spin on the trade war, saying it is having little to no effect in the short term and will pay off in the long term. “If we can get a good deal, a deal that’s good for us, we’ll sign it,” Mnuchin said on Monday. “If not, the president is perfectly fine with continuing the tariffs, which are raising significant amounts of money for the U.S. Treasury.” The Times charged further that “while they express optimism in public, some administration advisers have begun to caution the President about the potential economic impact from a long-running trade war. That includes Sec. Mnuchin, who has privately tried to prevent Trump from escalating his trade fight with additional tariffs. In the meantime, economists in the administration have been carefully tracking economic data and considering strategies to spur growth, including a potential payroll tax cut. The President has called for additional tax cuts and has repeatedly pressed the Fed to cut rates more aggressively to stimulate an economy that he says is firing on all cylinders. Mnuchin acknowledged that slowing global growth could have a “moderate impact” on the U.S. economy, though he has previously insisted that any slowdown is unrelated to the trade war. But he said he remained optimistic that the passage in Congress of a trade pact with Canada and Mexico would jump-start the economy and that a deal with China remained a possibility. So, we will see. Sectors like agriculture that have worked hard to build overseas markets are deeply unhappy to see them limited by tariffs, and are increasingly critical of the administration’s “get tough” policy as it is currently being administered. Whether that pushback reaches a critical level as the campaign season for the 2020 election nears remains to be seen, but producers should watch that debate closely as it intensifies, Washington Insider believes.

| Rural Advocate News | Wednesday September 11, 2019 |


More Pressure on Administration as They Try to Find Biofuel Compromise Small refinery exemptions (SREs) continue as a source of scorn for biofuel backers, with the National Biodiesel Board and 33 biodiesel producers calling on the Trump administration to boost mandates for biodiesel. “Small refinery waivers destroy demand for all biofuels across the board, with a significant impact on domestic biodiesel and renewable diesel producers,” the firms said in a letter to President Donald Trump. “Every small refinery waiver issued by the Environmental Protection Agency has the potential to put a U.S. biodiesel producer out of business.” The letter noted that small refiners can produce nearly one billion gallons of fuel in a year, with the biodiesel requirements requiring the blending of about 20 million gallons of biodiesel or renewable diesel annually. The companies said that amounts to a “very small fraction” of total fuel production. The 31 SREs granted for the 2018 compliance year amount to 1.4 billion gallons of renewable fuels not being used, the letter noted, including “millions of gallons of biodiesel and renewable diesel in the biomass-based biodiesel, advanced and overall volumes.” This comes as the administration continues to work on a biofuel policy plan, a package that USDA Secretary Sonny Perdue told reporters Tuesday would make farmers “happy” and still “save small refiners from certain closing.” Discussions are still ongoing, Perdue noted. “The best answer is it is still in process,” he said, including discussing “how we can recover some of the small refinery waivers that were given, from a gallons perspective.”

| Rural Advocate News | Wednesday September 11, 2019 |


NFU not yet backing USMCA The National Farmers Union is so far not yet backing the U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA), despite the agreement being widely viewed by most in U.S. agriculture as a positive for the sector. A resolution adopted by NFU’s board and released Monday says that country-of-origin labeling (COOL) should be added to the agreement, and that the trade pact should also address concerns Democrats have raised about labor standards and drug pricing. COOL language will not be part of any final USMCA voted on by Congress, congressional and administration sources stress, but discussions continue on some of NFU's other shortcomings in the environmental, labor and drug pricing areas. The group held a session at USDA as part of their annual flyin for members to visit Washington and meet with administration officials and lawmakers. Some in the group were critical of the Trump trade policies, but USDA Undersecretary Ted McKinney sought assured the farmers he heard their concerns and pledged the administration was seeking to open markets for U.S. ag goods. For perspective, NFU has never supported a multilateral trade deal.

| Rural Advocate News | Wednesday September 11, 2019 |


Wednesday Watch List Markets Producer price index and wholesale inventories may gave some indication of how the economy an inflation is faring. We will also be watching for any news about the upcoming U.S.-China trade deal, the proposed U.S.-Japan trade agreement, and upcoming weather in the Midwest. Weather Moderate to very heavy showers and thunderstorms expected during the day Wednesday and Wednesday night from the northern Rockies across the west and south portion of the Northern Plains through the northwest and north-central Midwest areas. This is likely to cause local flooding of fields. Rain may also extend northward into southern Saskatchewan during this period. A few showers into the northeast Midwest. Little elsewhere in the key US and Canada growing areas Wednesday. Temperatures below normal Canadian Prairies and the northern plains today, above normal elsewhere in the central and eastern U.S.

| Rural Advocate News | Tuesday September 10, 2019 |


China Offers to Purchase U.S. Ag Products ahead of Trade talks Planned trade talks next month between China and the U.S. has agriculture and the U.S. economy optimistic the talks will make progress. Politico reports that in the talks last week, China offered to purchase more U.S. agricultural products ahead of the planned negotiations for October. Phone conversations are expected to increase in volume between the two sides over the next few weeks. China will travel to Washington in early October to meet face-to-face, a rescheduling of talks planned for early September. The planned meetings this month lost traction after an escalation of tariffs between the U.S. and China in August. During phone conversations last week, Chinese official confirmed that the "two sides agreed that they should work together and take practical actions to create favorable conditions for consultations.” Meanwhile, farm groups are urging Congress and the administration to finalize the U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement, as lawmakers have returned from a six-week recess. Finally, President Trump is expected to sign a trade agreement with Japan this month, another welcomed trade development for agriculture. ************************************************************************************* USDA Announces Resources Available for Farmers Hurt by 2018, 2019 Disasters The Department of Agriculture Monday announced signups for disaster aid for 2018 and 2019, including aid for damages from Hurricane Dorian, will open this week. Wednesday, September 11, producers will be able to apply for assistance through the Wildfire and Hurricane Indemnity Program Plus. Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue says, "We hope the assistance will ease some of the financial strain farmers, ranchers and their families are experiencing." More than $3 billion is available through the disaster relief package passed by Congress and signed by President Trump in early June. In addition, the relief package includes new programs to cover losses for milk dumped or removed from the commercial market, and losses of farm stored commodities due to eligible disaster events in 2018 and 2019. Also, prevented planting supplemental disaster payments will provide support to producers who were prevented from planting crops for the 2019 crop year. WHIP+ (whip-plus) will be available for eligible producers who have suffered losses of certain crops, trees, bushes or vines in counties with a Presidential Emergency Disaster Declaration or a Secretarial Disaster Designation for primary counties. ************************************************************************************* USCMA Capitol Rally Planned for Thu