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| 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 Thursday Farmers for Free Trade and a group of agricultural organizations will host a rally Thursday in Washington, D.C. on the National Mall in support of the U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement. Congress has returned from its August recess, and agriculture groups are mounting a push to get the trade deal passed by lawmakers this fall. The American Farmers Rally for Passage of USMCA starts at 9:30 a.m. ET Thursday morning. Rally organizers include the American Farm Bureau Federation, The American Soybean Association, the National Corn Growers Association, among other groups representing the dairy and fruit sectors. House Agriculture Committee Chair Collin Peterson will attend, along with ranking committee Republican Mike Conaway, and other key ag lawmakers. Tom Vilsack, former Agriculture Secretary and current President and CEO of the Dairy Export Council will also attend, along with Farm Bureau President Zippy Duvall. The rally is an effort to highlight the benefits of the trade agreement and to urge lawmakers to pass the agreement without delay. ************************************************************************************* Canada Consults WTO On China Canola Trade Canada is seeking consultation from the World Trade Organization with China regarding the ongoing Canola dispute. The Canola Council of Canada welcomed the action, noting that since market access issues started in early March, Chinese importers remain unwilling to purchase Canadian canola seed from exporters. Since then prices for canola have fallen approximately 10 percent - which translates into $1 billion less from canola for the Canadian economy on an annual basis. Council President Jim Everson says, "While we've supported continued technical engagement, the scientific basis for China's actions remains unclear." Everson says the action is the first step in regaining market access. The canola industry hopes the move can resolve the dispute to prevent further WTO dispute resolution actions. Further, the Canola Council of Canada believes more action is necessary to diversify canola markets, including enhancing market access in Asia and diversifying markets in Canada by increasing the amount of canola used in biofuel. ************************************************************************************* Farmers Union Board Calls on Administration to Strengthen Agricultural Markets The National Farmers Union is calling on Washington to address mounting financial difficulties worsened by recent policy decisions. The NFU board of directors is calling on Congress and the administration to "work to rebuild international and domestic markets, restore America's reputation as a reliable trading partner, and reverse policies that have undermined the Renewable Fuel Standard." The resolutions also call for strengthening and passage of the U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement. By most metrics, the farm economy is in a slump, and has been for six years. NFU says recent actions by the administration have added to family farmers’ and ranchers’ troubles. An international trade war has eroded international markets, while the undermining of biofuels programs has harmed domestic markets. Both have added to the oversupply of many American farm products and depressed prices even further. The resolutions were announced as nearly 400 farmers kicked off NFU’s fall fly in Monday in Washington. The farmers are expected to meet with lawmakers early this week. ************************************************************************************* Checkoff-Funded Masters of Beef Advocacy Program Reaches Major Milestones Just ten years after its inception, the Beef Checkoff-funded Masters of Beef Advocacy program celebrated its 15,000th graduate in August. The program was created to equip and engage beef industry advocates to communicate about beef and beef production. It is one of the strongest beef advocacy efforts in the industry. A self-directed online training program managed by the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association, a contractor to the Beef Checkoff, the program requires students to complete five lessons in beef advocacy. The program has also been made available via digital download to allow agriculture educators, state beef organization representatives and other beef industry and youth leaders to incorporate the modules into their curriculums. Ryan Goodman of the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association says the program has evolved “to become a key tool and support system” for beef industry advocates. The program is open to everyone, and there is no cost to participate. To enroll or find out more about this checkoff-funded program, go to MastersOfBeefAdvocacy.com.

| Rural Advocate News | Tuesday September 10, 2019 |


Washington Insider: US, India Trade Talks Seen Vulnerable Most of the media attention these days is on the U.S.-China trade fight and on the slow Congressional pace toward approval of the new NAFTA. However, Bloomberg also is calling attention to the potential vulnerability of U.S.-India trade negotiations that were suspended earlier. The report says potential outcomes include a limited trade deal, or could be undercut by the same type of aggressive approach the administration has taken with China. Bloomberg raises the question of whether President Donald Trump's “cordial relations” with Indian Prime Minister Narenda Modi are strong enough to avoid confrontations over trade barriers on medical devices, agriculture, telecommunications equipment, and energy. Still, there are potential paths to deals — India can diffuse potential escalation by taking small steps such as a better model for medical device price caps, concessions on heavy bike tariffs and addressing some agricultural issues, said Richard Rossow, senior adviser at the Center for Strategic and International Studies. However, so far those concessions have not been forthcoming, Sadanand Dhume, American Enterprise Institute resident fellow, told Bloomberg. Whether that is changed by increased U.S. pressure is the “million dollar question,” he said. Recently, Trump lashed out against India’s tariffs and special World Trade Organization privileges. His lead negotiator, U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer, ended India’s duty-free benefits last summer with the comment that India must address trade barriers or face some unspecified “additional actions.” “It’s looking like “China 2.0,” Ashley Craig, co-chair of Venable’s International Trade Group, said. “It’s all of the same — shock and awe,” Craig said of the administration’s trade strategy. Unless India is willing to make concessions, a deal is unlikely, Nicole Bivens Collinson, who leads the international trade and government relations practice at Sandler, Travis & Rosenberg P.A., said. Modi and Trump agreed that their top officials would meet to address trade tensions but no date has been set. Modi and his delegation will attend the UN General Assembly in New York in late September, a trip that is prompting speculation that Lighthizer could hammer out initial outlines of a deal on the sidelines with Indian Commerce Minister Piyush Goyal. Analysts are looking for hints about whether talks may proceed since the President has twittered about a “very big trade deal” on the horizon and also complained that India has had a “field day” with tariffs. Working against a possible deal is widespread frustration across the U.S. government with India’s trade barriers, Rossow said. But India has more leeway for deal-making now that Modi won re-election, he said. When the recent talks on India’s agriculture barriers, high tariffs on IT products and Harley Davidson motorcycles and medical device price caps collapsed last June, the U.S. canceled India’s GSP duty-free benefits. In retaliation, India hiked tariffs on 28 U.S. products costing U.S. exporters about $1 million dollars daily, Dan Anthony, vice president of The Trade Partnership, said. “India is digging a hole deeper and deeper by continuing to raise customs duties,” Rossow said. The tariff threat has spooked U.S. multinationals who already have a strong foothold in India and view it as a natural place to expand as the trade standoff with China has them seeking alternative sourcing. “India is a very logical spot to go” as companies look to leave China, Karen Giberson, Accessories Council president, said. Possible tariff escalation is threatening industries that could face having yet another sourcing option compromised. Business groups and lawmakers want India to enact trade reforms but worry another trade war could rob U.S. importers of key sourcing options for manufacturing. Stakes are significant as U.S. goods and services trade with India totaled an estimated $142.1 billion in 2018 and generated a $24.2 billion trade surplus for India. Top exports from India to the U.S. include precious metal and stone ($11 billion), pharmaceuticals ($6.3 billion), machinery ($3.3 billion), mineral fuels ($3.2 billion), and vehicles ($2.8 billion). However, the trade partnership has been growing with U.S. exports to India rising by 26% in the last quarter, according to Mukesh Aghi, U.S.-India Strategic Partnership Forum president. So, we will see. The administration is pushing back hard on any argument that its trade policies are requiring support from Fed interventions in monetary policy, but the debate has become increasingly contentious and increasing political. This is a fight producers should watch closely as it proceeds, Washington Insider believes.

| Rural Advocate News | Tuesday September 10, 2019 |


US corn export rise to Japan may not materialize Agriculture specialists say a pest infestation problem – Fall armyworm – in Japan’s corn crop is not severe enough to affect import demand, the Wall Street Journal reported, undercutting hopes that a pact with Japanese buyers would help cut into the big U.S. stockpile of corn. The conflicting signals over the grain are among the complications U.S. farm exporters face as they adjust to diminished agriculture purchases from China. Corn is one of many commodities at the heart of restructuring supply chains as a result of the U.S./China trade dispute, and the search for new markets shows how tough it will be for farmers to match production to demand in foreign markets, the article notes. “Farmers turned to more corn production after China stopped buying U.S. soybeans, creating an inventory surplus that has sent prices tumbling,” the paper said.

| Rural Advocate News | Tuesday September 10, 2019 |


USDA Details WHIP+ Program With Signup Starting September 11 Signup for the $3 billion in disaster assistance under the via the Wildfire and Hurricane Indemnity Program Plus (WHIP+) will start Sept. 11, USDA announced Monday. The relief package included new programs to cover losses for milk dumped or removed from the commercial market and losses of eligible farm stored commodities due to eligible disaster events in 2018 and 2019, USDA said. Also, prevented planting supplemental disaster payments will provide support to producers who were prevented from planting eligible crops for the 2019 crop year. “Disaster losses must have been a result of hurricanes, floods, tornadoes, typhoons, volcanic activity, snowstorms or wildfires that occurred in 2018 or 2019.” USDA said that those producers not in areas getting a disaster declaration or designation can apply for WHIP+, but will have to provide additional supporting documentation relative to their losses being from a qualified disaster event. WHIP+ payments for 2018 disasters will be eligible for 100 percent of their calculated value, USDA said, while WHIP+ payments for 2019 disasters will be limited to an initial 50 percent of their calculated value, with an opportunity to receive up to the remaining 50 percent after January 1, 2020, if sufficient funding remains.

| Rural Advocate News | Tuesday September 10, 2019 |


Tuesday Watch List Markets There are no official reports due Tuesday, but traders will be keeping a close eye on weather and any trade news that might emerge. Trading in grains is apt to be quiet ahead of Thursday's WASDE report, especially if the extended forecast continues to look safely warm for row crops. Weather Lingering shower activity early Tuesday over the north and west Midwest and the northern part of the central plains region will diminish somewhat during the morning hours. Rain, showers and thunderstorms will redevelop late today or during tonight over the northern plains, across the northwest Midwest and into the north-central Midwest. This rainfall may become locally heavy, threatening to cause some local flooding of fields. Drier elsewhere in the key US growing areas Tuesday and Tuesday night. Showers and some light rain over the southern Canadian Prairies during Tuesday. Temperatures will average above normal over the central/south plains, Midwest and Delta regions. Temperatures below normal northern plains and Canadian Prairies.

| Rural Advocate News | Monday September 9, 2019 |


U.S., U.K. Trade Talks Could Get Bumpy Around Poultry Assuming that trade negotiations ever get going between the United States and the United Kingdom, feathers on both sides could get ruffled over poultry. U.K. Prime Minister Boris Johnson told U.S. Vice President Mike Pence that, “We’re not to keen on chlorinated chicken.” During a visit to the U.K. last week, Pence did admit that poultry could become a sticky issue in the negotiations. Politico says Johnson’s comments refer to the American practice of washing chicken with chemicals to kill pathogens like salmonella and E. coli. The process is called “pathogen reduction treatment” and it’s banned in the European Union. During dinner remarks last week, Pence admitted that chlorinated chicken will be the subject of some “pretty tough discussions.” During discussions last week, Johnson talked about his desire to free up the U.S. market to more British exports. He says Americans “don’t eat any British lamb or beef or haggis from Scotland.” Haggis is the national dish of Scotland and a pudding made from sheep’s heart, liver, and lungs. Johnson promises to pull the U.K out of the European Union by October 31. ********************************************************************************************** Pork Exports Reach New High Mark Despite Trade War U.S. pork exports were at a record-high in July while beef exports were relatively steady with last year’s strong results. That’s from data released by the USDA and put together by the U.S. Meat Export Federation. July pork exports surged to 233,242 metric tons, a 32 percent jump that topped the previous record set in 2018. Export value was $623.3 million, up 34 percent as it broke the previous high reached in November of 2017. Although U.S. pork faces retaliatory tariffs in China, American pork exports to China and Hong Kong contributed a good chunk of the July volume and value records. Beef exports increased one percent in July to 117,842 metric tons. The export value of $720.4 million was down slightly from a year ago but was still the seventh-highest monthly total on record. January-July beef exports were down two percent from a year ago in volume, while export value was slightly below last year’s record pace. Shipments to Mexico jumped higher in July after a 20 percent tariff was removed. ********************************************************************************************** White House Considering Biofuel Quota Boost A Bloomberg report says top Trump Administration officials have put together a plan that would give a five percent boost to the renewable fuels blending quota in 2020. The plan comes as President Donald Trump seeks to counter farm-state accusations of undermining a U.S. mandate that compels the use of corn-based ethanol and soybean-based biodiesel in the nation’s fuel supply. Officials from the White House, USDA, and the Environmental Protection Agency have been cooperating for weeks in ironing out the final details of the initiative designed to encourage U.S. biofuel demand. Bloomberg sources say the president hasn’t given final approval to the plan yet. Back on August 29, Trump took to Twitter and promised a “giant package” of changes would be submitted and approved within two weeks. While biofuel company shares surged in value with the news, some biofuel advocates say the tentative plan falls short of their push for immediate action to offset waivers exempting some oil refineries from the mandates. “We just want the EPA to enforce the standards that Congress gave them,” says Renewable Fuels Association Chief Geoff Cooper. “That means redistributing projected exemptions in the 2020 rule to ensure the statutory volumes for conventional renewable fuels remain whole.” He says it’s hardly a big gift to corn. It’s just “following the law.” ********************************************************************************************* McKinney: No USMCA Sales to Canada So Far Canadians are pleased with the U.S.-Mexico-Canada Trade Agreement. However, the Hagstrom Report says U.S. companies haven’t yet made any new sales in Canada based on the agreement. That news comes from USDA Under Secretary for Trade and Foreign Agricultural Affairs Ted McKinney, who spoke to reporters while on a trade mission in Canada. Government and agriculture industry officials in Canada have said they’re happy with the agreement. However, there haven’t been any discussions about increases in dairy purchases or increases in any of the areas through which U.S. producers might benefit under the agreement. He did say that wheat grading, poultry, wine, and biotechnology provisions could also be a big benefit to U.S. agriculture. McKinney also says Canadian officials have told him that the Canadian Parliament will not vote on the agreement until the U.S. Congress has voted. McKinney says the USDA is also set to sponsor trade missions to Mexico, Ghana (GAH-nah), and Vietnam this year. ********************************************************************************************** More Farmers Falling Behind on Loans A U.S. banking regulator says more farmers are falling behind on loans held by community banks when compared to last year. The Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation says it’s watching for more risks in the ag sector. In its quarterly report, the FDIC didn’t refer directly to the Trump Administration’s trade war with China, which began in 2018. In a prepared statement, officials say, “We continue to monitor risks in the agriculture sector from low commodity prices and farm incomes.” The FDIC says the share of long-past due farm loans held by community banks, which are the major agricultural lenders, was 1.28 percent in April through June, up 13 basis points from the same time last year. The ratio captures the share of farm loans that are at least 90 days past due, or those loans which no longer accrue interest because of repayment doubts. Reuters says commodity prices have been hurt over the past year by a U.S.-China trade war that’s led to higher Chinese tariffs on U.S. agricultural exports, including soybeans. ********************************************************************************************** Tyson Volume Loss Due to Fire Minimal The fire at the Tyson Foods plant in Holcomb, Kansas, caused minimal volume losses to the company as it moved production to other plants. Chief Executive Noel White spoke at an investor conference last week. All of the employees were safely evacuated that day. The processing side of the plant wasn’t affected by the fire and is still operating. “I would say the volume loss has been somewhat minimal,” he said. “Now there is a cost in moving cattle a long distance. We can still service our traditional suppliers in that area and we have a lot of long-term, loyal customers that source from the plant. We’ve been able to move those orders to a number of our other plants.” Meating Place Dot Com says White expects the plant to get fully back in operation in the next couple of months. The electrical system was the hardest-hit part of the plant, with most of the downtime due to rewiring the plant’s electrical system. Last week, Tyson lowered its earnings guidance for fiscal 2019.

| Rural Advocate News | Monday September 9, 2019 |


Washington Insider: Slowing Job Growth and New Concerns Over the weekend, The Hill reported that “an underwhelming August jobs report is adding to fears of an economic slowdown, raising the stakes for President Trump's reelection bid.” New government data showed that the economy added roughly 130,000 jobs in August. The Hill said that “undershot economists' expectations as the labor market continues to slow.” The resilient job market has been one of the administration’s top selling points as it prepares for the re-election campaign on the strength of the U.S. economy, but the “disappointing August report threatens that message ahead of a critical stretch for the economy,” the report said. The new job numbers come as the administration and China try to revive trade talks after more than a year of tit-for-tat tariff hits. Deputy staff-level talks are now set to begin later this month with hopes that they will open the door to a meeting between higher-level officials in October. But with just 14 months until the 2020 election, the administration faces “a narrowing window to strike a truce with China that could steer the U.S. away from the edge of a recession,” The Hill said. While trade experts have generally ruled out chances of a comprehensive agreement at this time, the U.S. and China could seek a smaller deal to ease tensions and tariffs, The Hill said. “Failure to do so could derail not only the economy, but also weaken the President’s shot at another White House term,” The Hill opined. "Today's employment data, coupled with earlier revisions to 2018, suggest that we have hit a tipping point," wrote Diane Swonk, chief economist at Grant Thornton, in a Friday research note. "That is likely in response to trade tensions and the weakness we are seeing abroad." The President has remained defiant in the face of growing pressure to end his fight with China, downplaying the risks to the economy and talk that he is losing leverage. He has repeatedly warned Beijing not to wait to strike a deal with his potential successor, insisting the U.S. economy is strong enough to weather a battle with China. "'China is eating the Tariffs.' Billions pouring into USA. Targeted Patriot Farmers getting massive Dollars from the incoming Tariffs! Good Jobs Numbers, No Inflation(Fed). China having worst year in decades. Talks happening, good for all!," President Trump tweeted Friday. He continued to downplay media reports of an economic slowdown. "The Economy is great. The only thing adding to 'uncertainty' is the Fake News!" he added just hours after the jobs report was released. So far, consumers have been largely insulated from the direct effects of the trade war, even as business expansion, manufacturing and other trade-sensitive sectors faltered, The Hill said. And, it noted that “while the U.S. faces higher odds of a recession, it still enjoys a strong labor market, steady consumer spending, and solid wage growth.” Roughly 571,000 workers joined the labor force in August, pushing participation rates higher and keeping unemployment steady at 3.7%. "The stories in the paper have generated a psychology that is vastly worse than the reality," National Economic Council Director Larry Kudlow told reporters at the White House on Friday. "The underlying strength of the economy is much better than folks might think." Even so, months of fading industrial output, heightened tensions and dour economic data from abroad appear to be closing in on the job market, The Hill argued as job growth as the average monthly job gain has fallen from 234,000 last year to 158,000 in 2019. Economists worry that this indicator may be trending toward the 100,000 monthly average gain that is required to stave off a recession. The next test for the U.S. labor market will come in October, when president Trump is set to raise tariffs on $250 billion in Chinese imports to 30% from 25%. He also is set to finish imposing a 15% tariff on another $320 billion tranche of Chinese goods in December after applying those taxes to roughly half of those goods on Sept. 1. The Federal Reserve is expected to soften that blow with a rate cut when the bank's policy committee meets in Washington later this month. The Hill says it expects a moderate 0.25-percentage point cut “as a hedge against a potential downturn,” far less than the 1-percentage point cut president Trump is seeking. The president is pushing the Fed to slash interest rates in half from their 2% to 2.25% range, demanding a level of stimulus last seen during the 2008 recession. Fed Chair Jerome Powell, in a tweet posted shortly before the jobs report was released, countered during speech in Switzerland that "the most likely outlook for the U.S. is still moderate growth, a strong labor market, and inflation continuing to move back up," brushing off calls for a steep cut. Powell also acknowledged that the Fed could only do so much to protect the economy from trade policy. "Uncertainty around trade policy is causing some companies to hold back now on investment," Powell said. So, we will see. Administration analysts continue to insist that the outlook is mainly for fair economic weather – but that Fed interventions are long overdue. At the same time, economic observers are increasingly arguing that the U.S.-China fight is weakening the domestic economy, a debate producers should watch closely as it intensifies, Washington Insider believes.

| Rural Advocate News | Monday September 9, 2019 |


Uncertainty Over Trade Policy Is Likely To Reduce US Economic Output New research from the Federal Reserve indicates that trade uncertainty is likely to trim U.S. economic output by more than one percent through early 2020. Economists charted uncertainty with text analyses of newspaper articles and corporate-earnings calls. Higher uncertainty could lead firms to delay their investment and reduce their hiring, lower consumer confidence and spending, and ultimately curtail economic activity around the world. “The rise in [trade policy uncertainty] in 2018 and 2019 has gone hand in hand with a slowdown in world industrial production and global grade,” said the research report. The researchers found that an initial increase in trade-policy uncertainty in the first half of 2018 shaved around 0.8 percent from U.S. and global economic output in the first half of 2019. They further calculated that more-recent increases in uncertainty will now reduce U.S. output by more than one percent in the first half of 2020.

| Rural Advocate News | Monday September 9, 2019 |


Corn Growers: USMCA Must Top Fall Agenda Congress returns to Washington next week and passage of the new U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA) should be at the top of their agenda, according to the National Corn Growers Association (NCGA). Farmers have taken the opportunity to share this message with lawmakers at local events during the August break, it said, “and are eager to see the working group process bear fruit so the agreement can move forward for consideration.” The group detailed that USMCA will “solidify a $4.56 billion export market and provide some certainty for farmers weathering a perfect storm of challenges. Ratifying USMCA will also instill confidence in other nations that the U.S. is a reliable partner and supplier, ensuring U.S. agriculture remains competitive for generations to come.”

| Rural Advocate News | Monday September 9, 2019 |


Monday Watch List Markets Starting a new week, traders will check the latest weather forecasts and be interested in any trade news that might have happened over the weekend. USDA's weekly report of grain inspections is due out at 10:00 a.m. CDT, followed by Crop Progress at 3 p.m. Corn and soybean crop development will be Monday afternoon's topics of interest. Weather Monday features moderate to heavy rain from the Canadian Prairies through the Northern Plains and northern Midwest. We'll also see light rain in the western and central Plains and western Midwest. Other crop areas will be dry. Temperatures will be seasonal north and hot south. There is no frost threat in the next ten days.

| Rural Advocate News | Friday September 6, 2019 |


U.S., China to Meet in October on Trade Negotiators from the United States and China will meet face-to-face next month. Chinese officials told reporters Thursday the agreement was reached in a phone conversation this week. China’s Vice Premier visited over the phone Thursday morning with U.S. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin and U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer. Following the call, China announced negotiators plan to travel to Washington next month for high-level talks, and will continue consultations through September ahead of the meeting in October. The announcement from China comes as President Trump told reporters in the Oval Office this week that China wants to reach a deal with the United States. The U.S. Trade Representative’s office has yet to confirm the planned October meeting, but did say discussions will take place in the coming weeks. The tit-for-tat trade war with China has dropped U.S. ag exports to China from more than $20 billion in 2017, to $9 billion last year. A breakthrough in negotiations would be welcome news for agriculture. ************************************************************************************* Federal Reserve Beige Book: Agriculture Sector is Weak The Federal Reserve Bank Beige Book released this week reports continued weak economic conditions in farm country. Released Wednesday, the report states agricultural conditions remained weak as a result of unfavorable weather conditions, low commodity prices, and trade-related uncertainties. Districts with agricultural ties, but especially in the Midwest, report declining agricultural economy measures, with further farm income declines expected. The Tenth District in Kansas City reported earlier this summer that farm income and credit conditions showed some signs of stabilizing. Demand for agricultural lending remained high, but bankers anticipated slower growth in coming months. The Kansas City district reports the share of new farm operating loans denied by bankers declined slightly in the second quarter of 2019 after reaching a five-year high a year ago. The Beige Book, published eight times a year, is a Federal Reserve publication about current economic conditions across the 12 Federal Reserve Districts. It characterizes regional economic conditions and prospects based on a variety of mostly qualitative information, gathered directly from district sources. ************************************************************************************* Trade War Costing Nebraska Farmers $1 Billion A new analysis by the Nebraska Farm Bureau estimates the ongoing retaliatory tariffs imposed on U.S. agricultural exports will cost Nebraska producers $943 million in lost revenues in 2019. The projected losses would be in addition to tariff-related losses in farm-level income estimated between $695 million to $1 billion in 2018. The analysis was conducted to provide an assessment of losses independent of the Market Facilitation Program assistance available to farmers. Nebraska Farm Bureau President Steve Nelson says the results show “how critical it is that we resolve the prolonged trade conflicts that have created the tariff pressures.” The analysis shows that Nebraska soybean and corn growers will likely see the greatest cumulative losses. Soybean producers as a group are projected to lose out on nearly $589 million from retaliatory tariffs, and corn producers are estimated to lose roughly $251 million. Pork producers in the state are projected to see $40 million in losses, while sorghum and wheat growers will collectively experience losses around $20 million. ************************************************************************************* National Milk Producers Federation Urging Farmers to Sign up for DMC With the signup deadline for the Dairy Margin Coverage program quickly approaching on September 20, the National Milk Producers Federation is urging all dairy farmers to enroll in the program. The program is guaranteed to pay all producers enrolled at the maximum $9.50 per-hundred-weight coverage level for at least every month of production this year through July, according to USDA data. The latest enrollment numbers indicate that 68 percent of dairy operations with an established production history have enrolled so far for this year. This represents more than 18,000 producers nationwide. Jim Mulhern, NMPF President and CEO, says the program “offers better support for dairy farmers than its predecessor,” and is “worthwhile for every farmer.” The Dairy Margin Coverage program replaced the Margin Protection Program for dairy. NMPF says the new program offers a more robust safety net for dairy producers of all sizes. NMPF has a resource page on its website, www.nmpf.org, to help farmers sign up for the program. ************************************************************************************* USDA: U.S. Food Insecurity Declined in 2018 The Department of Agriculture says food insecurity declined in 2019. Data released this week by USDA’s Economic Research Service shows that in 2018, an estimated 88.9 percent of U.S. households were food secure throughout the entire year, meaning they had access at all times to enough food for an active, healthy life for all household members. The remaining households, 11.1 percent, were food insecure at least some time during the year, including 4.3 percent that experienced very low food security. However, the prevalence of food insecurity overall declined from 11.8 percent in 2017. The reported decline was statistically significant, according to USDA, and continued a decline from a high of 14.9 percent in 2011. Very low food security was not significantly different from its 4.5-percent rate in 2017.USDA says that in very-low-food-secure households, the food intake of one or more household members was reduced and their eating patterns were disrupted at times because the household lacked money and other resources for obtaining food. ************************************************************************************* Kellogg Introducing Incogmeato Plant-Based Products Kellogg’s Morningstar Farms announced this week it will introduce a new plant-based product line, called Incogmeato. The company says the new product line will include the company's first ready-to-cook plant-based burger and fully prepared plant-based chicken tenders and nuggets. The company claims the new product line offers a “delicious and satisfying meat-like experience.” The new Incogmeato plant-based portfolio will hit retail meat cases in grocery stores and foodservice in early 2020. Sold in the refrigerated meat case, the four-ounce plant-based patties are made with non-GMO soy, according to the company. The plant-based chicken tenders and nuggets will be placed in the freezer section next to traditional chicken offerings. Morningstar is the plant-based brand owned by Kellogg and includes many different plant-based products, from plant-based sausages to corndogs. Morningstar Farms was introduced in 1975 by Worthington Foods. Kellogg purchased Worthington Foods in 1999, including the MorningStar brand. Kellogg then sold Worthington Foods in 2014, but retained the Morningstar Farms product line.

| Rural Advocate News | Friday September 6, 2019 |


Washington Insider: Military Project Funds Shifted to Wall, States Complain As might be expected, the funding fight continues as the list of military projects to be deferred to provide the extra $3.6 billion funding for the southern border wall draws bipartisan complaints this week. The result, Bloomberg says, is an increase in pressure on Congress to resolve the long-running conflict – or to find the money elsewhere. The administration already successfully faced down a bipartisan resolution to end the emergency declaration that was issued after Congress refused to appropriate funds for a border wall in a lengthy government shutdown earlier in the year. Congress was unable to override the veto, even though more than two dozen Republicans in the House and Senate joined Democrats to oppose that attempt to unilaterally shift taxpayer money. The current list of projects the Department of Defense proposes to put aside includes nearly $1.1 billion targeted for facilities in 23 states, with the rest coming from projects in U.S. territories and overseas. The cuts hit states represented by members of both parties, including $62.6 million for a middle school at Fort Campbell in Kentucky, the home state of Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., and $160 million for engineering and parking projects at the United States Military Academy in New York, home to Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y. Alaska, represented by Republicans, and Virginia, represented mostly by Democrats, are also among the biggest losers on the hit list, as are Puerto Rico, Guam and the Virgin Islands, with the trio of territories targeted for $687 million in deferred projects. A handful of Republican senators seeking re-election next year also are facing cuts in their states, including Sen. Thom Tillis, R-N.C., who once wrote a Washington Post op-ed to oppose the president’s emergency declaration, but who later flipped to vote with the president in March. Among the deferrals in his state are projects at Camp Lejeune, one of the state’s major employers. Projects in Arizona, Colorado, Texas and South Carolina are also on the list. Amid the ongoing controversy over spending on the southern wall, China announced this week that its trade negotiators will travel to Washington early next month for talks boosting the chances for a resolution to the tariff war after weeks of uncertainty and escalation, Bloomberg says. Vice Premier Liu He agreed to the visit in a phone call on Thursday morning Beijing time with Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin and U.S. Trade Representative (USTR) Robert Lighthizer, China’s commerce ministry said. Lower-level officials will have “serious” discussions this month to prepare for the talks, which had originally been expected to take place in September. In addition, the U.S. and Japan are “still thrashing out details of a trade deal” that the administration hopes to sign this month, including the crucial issue of whether he’ll refrain from imposing higher tariffs on imported cars, Bloomberg said. The president, at the Group of Seven meeting in France last month, celebrated what he called a “major deal” that he and Prime Minister Shinzo Abe would sign on the sidelines of the United Nations General Assembly, starting later this month in New York – although observers also note that so far the agreement only includes “broad strokes” of a trade deal. So, we will see. It appears that the fall will mean increasing tensions over old topics like the economic outlook, trade and spending levels and priorities and that even details about the expected storm tracks can be highly controversial. The result is a broad array of constantly evolving debates that producers should watch closely as they intensify, Washington Insider believes.

| Rural Advocate News | Friday September 6, 2019 |


Judge Orders Anheuser-Busch to Remove ‘No Corn Syrup’ Labels U.S. District Court Judge William Conley Wednesday ruled that Anheuser-Busch has to stop using packaging on 12-packs and 24-packs of Bud Light that say “No Corn Syrup” once they run out of the packaging that it has or by March 2020, whichever comes first. The decision came in the case filed by MillerCoors, which charged the statement on the packaging implies that Miller Lite and Coors Light contain corn syrup. MillerCoors uses corn syrup in the fermentation process but the final product does not contain corn syrup. "In light of the limited number of beers in the light beer market, with Bud Light, Miller Lite and Coors Light accounting for almost 100 percent of sales, that same jury could also find a substantial segment of consumers would infer that Bud Light's principal competitors contain corn syrup," Conley said in his decision. Anheuser-Busch said in a statement that it looked forward to defending its position in court, saying that MillerCoors was “resisting consumer demands for transparency in the ingredients used to brew its beers.”

| Rural Advocate News | Friday September 6, 2019 |


Near-Steady US July Ag Exports Outpaced By Import Growth U.S. agricultural trade registered a deficit for July, marking three out of the last four months with trade red ink. U.S. ag export values held basically steady in July at $10.79 billion against imports that rose to $10.91 billion for the $115 million monthly deficit. With the cumulative ag exports in Fiscal Year (FY) 2019 at $114.0 billion and imports at $110.4 billion, it suggests USDA’s recently updated outlook for FY 2019 ag exports to be close as imports would have to average just under $9.5 billion in August and September and exports would have to average $10.25 billion to meet the export forecast of $134.5 billion and imports at a record $129.3 billion. Typically, imports register their lowest mark of the fiscal year in September. It would appear the import forecast from USDA is at risk for being too low at $129.3 billion. The value of ag imports has not registered back-to-back months of less than $10 billion since FY 2017. The current forecast ag trade surplus of $5.2 billion would be the smallest since it was $4.57 billion in FY 2006.

| Rural Advocate News | Friday September 6, 2019 |


Friday Watch List Markets USDA's weekly report of grain export sales will be released at 7:30 a.m. and will show exports for all but the final two days of 2018-19. At the same time, the U.S. Labor Department will release non-farm payrolls and the U.S. unemployment rate for August, important factors for the Federal Reserve's next rate decision on September 18. Weather remains closely watched with dry conditions noted in the central Corn Belt. Weather Friday will be dry over most crop areas. Some light showers will form in the Great Lakes and interior Northwest. Category 1 Hurricane Dorian will bring heavy rain to the mid-Atlantic coast.

| Rural Advocate News | Thursday September 5, 2019 |


Citibank Reports on Trade War: No End Before 2020 Election A top U.S. investment bank sees no conclusion to the U.S.-China trade war before the 2020 presidential elections. In a new report, Citibank says the “Implied probabilities of a 2020 recession are now high enough to warrant caution,” due to the ongoing trade war. The report suggests U.S. economic metrics will “likely deteriorate further” as the trade war continues. CNBC reports Citi’s shift represents a departure from others on Wall Street who see a trade deal likely happening before the election next year. Farmers recently reported similar expectations in the August Ag Economy Barometer released by Purdue University and CME Group this week, but that changed slightly last month. Of 400 farmers surveyed, 71 percent say a quick resolution is unlikely, down from 78 percent in July. Agriculture is taking the brunt of trade war retaliatory tariffs from China. And, China appears poised to hold out to see if President Trump will be reelected or not, potentially shifting the U.S. negotiation views and tactics. ************************************************************************************* Trump Says Tariff Income to Help Hurricane-Damaged Farms President Donald Trump told reporters Wednesday that money the U.S. receives from tariffs on China will help farmers recover from Hurricane Dorian. Trump says, "we've taken in many billions of dollars of tariffs from China and we will have a lot of money to be helping our farmers along the coast if they get hit." The President made the statement as part of an update to members of the press inside the Oval Office. Trump says China has paid for most of the tariffs, adding, "We have a lot of money to help our farmers." Trump pointed to the trade mitigation payments to farmers, as well, saying he is making up the trade war impact “dollar-for-dollar” to farmers. The brunt of the hurricane appeared to spare Florida and was expected to travel up the Eastern Seaboard, hitting the Carolinas Thursday and Friday. The North Carolina Agriculture Department says hurricane Dorian “creates an imminent threat of severe economic loss of livestock, poultry and crops ready to be harvested.” ************************************************************************************* ARC, PLC Enrollment Open The Department of Agriculture this week opened enrollment for the Agriculture Risk Coverage, and Price Loss Coverage programs. Agriculture Risk Coverage, known as ARC, provides income support payments on historical base acres when actual crop revenue declines below a specified guarantee level. Price Loss Coverage, known as PLC, provides income support payments on historical base acres when the price for a covered commodity falls below its effective reference price. Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue called the programs “the bedrock of the farm safety net,” for crop farmers. Updated provisions in the 2018 Farm Bill allow producers with an interest in a farm to enroll and elect coverage in crop-by-crop ARC-County or PLC, or ARC-Individual for the entire farm, for program year 2019. For crop years 2021 through 2023, producers will have an opportunity to make new elections. Farm owners cannot enroll in either program unless they have a share of interest in the farm. Interested producers must sign up for either program by March 15, 2020. ************************************************************************************* Lawsuit Alleges Chicken Processors Fixed Wages A class-action lawsuit claims 18 chicken processors have conspired to fix wages for workers. Three poultry plant workers filed the lawsuit last week claiming the industry has conspired to fix and depress wages since 2009. The lawsuit named defendants including chicken processors Perdue Farms, Tyson Foods, Keystone Foods, and Pilgrim’s Pride, among others. Meat industry publication Meatingplace reports the lawsuit claims leadership for the processors held “off the books” meetings to fix wages and benefits, along with exchanging wage data. The companies named in the lawsuit operate approximately 200 processing plants in the United States, employing hundreds of thousands of workers, and produce roughly 90 percent of the nation’s chicken processed chicken. The lawsuit also claims the price-fixing has held employees of processors in poverty. A spokesperson for Perdue Farms told Meatingplace “we do not believe this suit has any merit,” adding employees receive wage increases, and that the company makes adjustments as wage trends shift in the United States. ************************************************************************************* NCGA Supports EPA’s Interim Decision on Glyphosate Registration The National Corn Growers Association recently submitted comments in support of the Environmental Protection Agency's proposed interim registration review decision for glyphosate. EPA is required to review pesticide registrations every 15 years to comply with the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide and Rodenticide Act, but may choose to issue interim decisions as needed to account for completed risk assessments and the availability of new data. Lynn Chrisp, NCGA president from Nebraska, says NCGA “appreciate the EPA’s recognition of the sound science behind this product in its interim review decision.” In the decision at hand, EPA states it is issuing an interim decision to move forward with aspects of the registration review that are complete, including the human health and ecological risk assessments. Glyphosate continues to be the cornerstone for comprehensive and sustainable weed management, Chrisp noted, though growers understand that a diverse plan is necessary for both season-long control and resistance management. The EPA expects to issue its final registration decision for glyphosate once the Endangered Species Act evaluation is complete. ************************************************************************************* Alltech Forms Strategic Research Alliance for Sustainable Beef Production Alltech and Archbold Biological Station’s Buck Island Ranch in Florida recently formed a research alliance to develop beef management approaches. Specifically, the partnership seeks to increase the quality and quantity of beef produced in subtropical regions while maintaining and enhancing the environment. The collaboration brings together scientists from two different disciplines, ecologists from Archbold and ruminant nutritionists from Alltech, to understand the impact that cattle production has on an ecosystem. A spokesperson for the program says the research may lead to improved supplemental feed strategies and reducing cattle methane emissions. The research at Buck Island Ranch has long been focused on the relationships between agricultural production, management and natural resources, including water and soils, as well as biodiversity and addressing threats like invasive species and climate change. An Alltech spokesperson says the collaborations aims to demonstrate that the maintenance of the ecosystem is a critical factor in sustainable beef production and also to show how cattle can be a critical part of maintaining natural ecosystems.

| Rural Advocate News | Thursday September 5, 2019 |


Washington Insider: Global Consumers and Growing Economic Tensions The gap in perceptions of trade policy impacts between administration advocates and officials from export-dependent industries continues to grow, Bloomberg says this week. While the Trump administration emphasizes the impact of growing economic pressure on China, many analysts are focusing heavily on emerging threats to global demand. Bloomberg thinks these are intensifying at the same time business confidence and investment are weakening in many key markets. Consumers have been providing the main drivers of global growth for much of this year. And, while recent retail sales growth has been strong, “there are signs that could soon change, as weakness in manufacturing seeps into hiring and financial markets tighten amid the trade war.” Both forces could lead households to retrench, fanning fears that the world economy is heading to recession, Bloomberg says. Morgan Stanley economists are already warning that American consumers are all that stand in the way of a U.S. contraction and their counterparts at JPMorgan see global employment growth remaining around the 1% of the last quarter, a sharp slowdown from the previous pace. “It would be misguided to believe that manufacturing weakness is not going to filter through to the rest of the economy,” even though factories are a relatively small share of U.S. output, said Gregory Daco, chief U.S. economist at Oxford Economics. A big warning came last week, when concerns about tariffs and inflation helped push down the University of Michigan’s U.S. economic sentiment index by the most in almost seven years. If that’s the start of a new fault line in the global economy centered on consumers, that spells deeper trouble ahead for world growth, Bloomberg thinks. A key risk is the potential unraveling of the solid labor-market story across advanced economies as surveys show employment at factories falling around the world. Germany, at risk of recession, has seen initial signs of weakness in its labor market. UK sentiment is being battered by Brexit uncertainty and Asian economies such as Korea and Indonesia have recorded declines in consumer sentiment. In the U.S., the Institute for Supply Management’s factory index indicates manufacturers are cutting jobs. Monthly U.S. jobs figures from the Labor Department are due Friday and will be watched closely. Bloomberg says its own economists are expecting that consumer spending will be “the main driver of growth in the second half, so barometers of household demand, such as sentiment, savings patterns and income growth will be major focal points in the medium term. For this reason, the cooling in the ISM employment sub-index bears watching,” according to Carl Riccadonna, Bloomberg’s chief U.S. economist. For central bankers, the question is whether other parts of the economy can keep riding out the storm that’s been largely isolated in manufacturing--or a broader “infection” is inevitable. How they gauge that spillover threat could be central to how much stimulus they need to pump into their economies. Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco President Mary Daly noted the contrast in the economy last week, saying that uncertainty has hurt business investment but that domestic demand looks “really solid.” U.S. consumer spending rose 0.6% in July, beating estimates, according to a report on Friday, following the best quarter in more than four years. In the euro area, retail sales are rising at about a 2% year-on-year pace, slightly faster than the average in 2018. But the situation could shift as the punches to the global economy keep coming—such as the administration’s escalation of the U.S.-China trade war along with weaker corporate earnings, a manufacturing pull-back and Brexit. In the U.S., the University of Michigan gauge showed how the trade war may have a psychological effect, with tariffs spontaneously mentioned by one-in-three consumers. Pressured by a trade spat of its own with Japan, along with ongoing labor-market weakness, Korea’s sentiment gauge fell in August to its worst level since the start of 2017. Unemployment at a 45-year high is seriously crimping consumption in India, where car sales plunged the most in almost two decades in July. At its last policy meeting, the European Central Bank noted weakening hiring intentions and “the question was raised as to how long the job market would still be posting positive surprises.” U.S. electronics retailer Best Buy Co. last week trimmed its guidance because of “general uncertainty related to overall customer buying behavior in the back half of the year.” So, we will see. There are broad expectations that the Fed will cut interest rates at least some in the near future—even as a U.S.-China trade deal appears increasingly unlikely. However, the administration-Fed squabble appears likely to continue and even intensify and should be watched closely as it persists, Washington Insider believes.

| Rural Advocate News | Thursday September 5, 2019 |


Trump Says Biofuels Plan Coming In Next Two Weeks President Donald Trump now says a set of biofuel policy changes will be coming in the next two weeks. Previously, the plans were rumored to be announced this week at an event in the Midwest. “Making great progress for our Farmers. Approved E15, year-round. Big additional list to be submitted & approved within two weeks. Will be even better for Ethanol, and we save our small refineries!” Trump tweeted earlier this week. Biofuel proponents want an increase in 2020 blending requirements to offset small refiner exemptions (SREs) while refining advocates are urging Trump not to move forward with any increases. For his part, Trump said he will deliver a “giant package” of changes, adding that “the farmers are going to be so happy when they see what we are doing for ethanol.” Currently, USDA Secretary Sonny Perdue, EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler and White House aides are working out the details of the plans – which aim to boost both corn ethanol and soy-based biodiesel. Senate Environment and Public Works Committee Chairman John Barrasso, R-Wyo., warned President Trump this week not to move forward with the biofuel policy proposals currently under consideration, saying they “risk closing refineries and killing thousands of jobs.”

| Rural Advocate News | Thursday September 5, 2019 |


NRCS Details Updated RCPP Conservation Program The launch of the updated Regional Conservation Partnership Program (RCPP) was announced by USDA's Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) this week. The program now includes changes from the 2018 Farm Bill. NRCS said it is accepting proposals for RCPP projects seeking fiscal year (FY) 2019 funding, with submissions due by December 3, 2019. Partners can request between $250,000 and $10 million in funding. In all, $300 million is available for FY 2019, NRCS said. NRCS noted the updated RCPP now has dedicated funding, rather than having to rely on monies from other conservation programs like the Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP). The move to dedicated funding was among the changes brought by the 2018 Farm Bill. The changes will help "[simplify] rules for partners and producers," NRCS said. Meanwhile, the fewer funding pools involved should "make the submission and approval process easier," the agency added.

| Rural Advocate News | Thursday September 5, 2019 |


Thursday Watch List Markets Weekly jobless claims and the U.S. Drought Monitor will be released at 7:30 a.m. CDT, but USDA's weekly export sales report will not come out until Friday morning, due to this week's holiday schedule. The Department of Energy will release all its weekly inventories, starting at 9:30 a.m. CDT and will include ethanol and natural gas. Any changes in weather or trade news will continue to be watched closely. Weather Thursday features mostly dry and warm conditions in primary crop areas, with only light rain in the western Midwest. Meanwhile, category 3 Hurricane Dorian will bring heavy rain, strong winds and storm surge to the Carolina coast.

| Rural Advocate News | Wednesday September 4, 2019 |


Trump: China Talks Going “Very Well” President Donald Trump offers an optimistic view of trade talks with China. Trump on Twitter Monday proclaimed, "We are doing very well in our negotiations with China." Over the weekend, new tariffs were enacted by the United States and China, yet negotiators from China could still visit the U.S. this month. A spokesperson for China’s Foreign Affairs Ministry says, “What matters the most at this moment is creating necessary conditions for ongoing consultations.” With the implementation of new tariffs, the American Farm Bureau Federation is urging both sides to focus on trade negotiations. AFBF President Zippy Duvall says the Chinese tariffs are “no surprise,” but are “no more welcome than before.” AFBF says farmers welcome the trade mitigation payments that are keeping some farms in business as the trade war continues, but says many “cannot withstand continued uncertainty in trade.” The latest round of tariffs is expected to hit U.S. consumers the most, as practically every product shipped to the U.S. will face additional taxes. ************************************************************************************ August Ag Economy Barometer Falls Farmer concern regarding low prices and the farm economy led to a sharp drop in the August Ag Economy Barometer. The Perdue/CME Group economic measure fell 29 points last month to a reading of 124. The barometer’s decline was attributed to declines in both the Index of Current Conditions, which dropped 19 points, and the Index of Future Expectations, which fell 34 points below its July reading. A reading greater than 100 still indicates positive sentiment, while a reading below indicated negative sentiment. Weaker views were fueled in part by both crop and livestock price declines that took place during late July and early August. Meanwhile, producers’ concerns about the future of the farm economy led to a more negative outlook on the advisability of making capital investments and on the short-term farmland value outlook. Meanwhile, farmers in August were slightly more optimistic the trade dispute with China will be resolved soon, although many still think resolution of the dispute will not come quickly. ************************************************************************************* Farm Income to Increase in 2019 The Department of Agriculture predicts farm income will rise in 2019, despite challenges impacting the farm economy. Last week, USDA reported inflation-adjusted U.S. net cash farm income is set to increase $5.8 billion, up 5.4 percent, to $112.6 billion. U.S. net farm income, a broader measure of farm sector profitability that incorporates noncash items including changes in inventories, economic depreciation, and gross rental income, is forecast to increase $2.5 billion, or 2.9 percent, from 2018 to $88.0 billion in 2019. USDA says the forecast increases are due to a combination of lower production expenses, which are subtracted out in the calculation of net income, as well as increases in government payments and farm-related income. The trade aid payments are expected to more than offset the forecast decline in cash receipts. If the forecast holds true, USDA says net farm income would be 2.3 percent below the 2000–2018 average, but net cash farm income would be four percent above its 2000–2018 average. ************************************************************************************* 2020 Planting Intentions Include More Corn, Soybeans A survey by Farm Futures magazine reports farmers are planning to plant more corn and soybeans next year. The 2020 planting intentions survey found farmers intend to plant 94.1 million acres of corn next year, up 4.5 percent from the 90 million planted this year, as reported by the Department of Agriculture last month. Farmers also reported to Farm Futures their intention to plant 83.6 million acres of soybeans next year, nine percent more than 2019, but 5.6 million below the 89.2 million acres planted in 2018. Hard red winter wheat seedings are expected to increase 1.3 percent to 23 million acres, and soft red winter wheat seedings could also increase. Meanwhile, farmers in cotton-growing states are planning to reduce cotton seedings by 8.7 percent to 12.7 million acres next spring, and sorghum could gain 9.3 percent to reach 5.8 million acres planted. However, given the wet spring in 2019, and the number of acres not planted, some of the survey results should come as no surprise. ************************************************************************************* NCC: RFS Threatens Animal Feed Prices The National Chicken Council wants the Environmental Protection Agency to reduce volumes proposed in the Renewable Fuel Standard. Comments submitted to the EPA last week by NCC claim that given the current crop year, the volume proposal is “overly aggressive, overly reliant on corn-based ethanol, and will likely cause disruptions to the nation’s feed supply.” NCC President Mike Brown says the volumes should be reduced “to more accurately reflect the availability of feedstock and the usage rate of biofuels.” The organization claims that since the RFS began in 2007, broiler producers have faced $68.5 billion in higher feed costs for the production of broiler meat. NCC believes that the potential for supply disruption and a resulting similarly destructive pattern as 2008, 2012 and 2013, poses a threat to the broiler industry during the 2020 RFS compliance year and 2019/2020 crop year. Brown says in 2008 and 2012, chicken producers were denied protection from the impact of the RFS mandate during times of market volatility. ************************************************************************************* Alternative Meat Makers Form Coalition Five companies creating meat imitating products have formed a coalition for educating consumers and advocating for market access. the Alliance for Meat, Poultry & Seafood Innovation was founded to allow the sector to “speak with a unified voice,” according to a news release. Founding member companies include BlueNalu and Finless Foods, makers of cell-based/cultured seafood, and Fork & Goode and JUST, makers of cell-based/cultured meat and poultry, and Memphis Meats, which is making cell-based/cultured meat, poultry and seafood. The coalition seeks to educate consumers about their products, and create a clear path to market for their products. Coined as fake meat by the animal agriculture sector, groups such as the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association have called for science to drive the regulatory framework, current being crafted by federal agencies. The new coalition will soon begin lobbying lawmakers and the Department of Agriculture regarding the framework. The coalition aims to “create an environment for the industry that will support continued innovation for years to come.

| Rural Advocate News | Wednesday September 4, 2019 |


Washington Insider: Helpful Farm Trade Aid Bloomberg and other urban media are taking note of the effort the administration is making to downplay ag producers’ economic problems with weak markets as the trade war with China escalates. An example is the recent USDA report that “farmers are doing better than previously thought,” as new forecasts show farm profits rising 5% in 2019--the best in five years “because of the president’s trade aid program.” The report and its “more favorable portrait of agricultural finances” comes as the administration faces increasing criticism from farmers over losses from the president’s intensifying tariff war with China. Bloomberg notes that farmers openly challenged Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue last month at an event in Minnesota. USDA emphasized that projected net farm income this season will reach $88 billion, up from $84 billion last year. It called the projection “a rosier financial picture for farmers than prior estimates, which didn’t anticipate the level of aid” the administration would provide to compensate for lost sales to China, said Jeffrey Hopkins, the economist who supervised the forecast. Hopkins said that the previous forecast, made in March, also didn’t include the level of aid payments farmers received for being unable to plant because of floods. However, producers were not exactly thrilled by the news, Bloomberg reported. For example, Rob Larew, vice president of public policy for the National Farmers Union, the second-largest general farm organization, said the boost in profits “belies the economic difficulties that most farmers are still facing” and relies entirely on aid from taxpayers. “Though those payments are helpful in the short term, they ultimately are not a sustainable solution to the ongoing farm crisis,” Larew said. “Unless the government plans to either keep throwing money at these problems or implement real solutions, farm income will likely fall again next year.” John Newton, chief economist for the American Farm Bureau Federation, the largest general farm group, said a 13% increase in farm bankruptcies in the 12 months through June and an uptick in delinquent farm loans suggest a tightening financial squeeze. “A lot of real-time indicators don’t show signs of a stronger farm economy, but you can’t deny the impact of the trade aid,” Newton said, adding that most farmers haven’t yet received payments from this year’s trade assistance package. The revised forecast suggests farmers will have their most profitable year since 2014—but that the projection is still 2.3% below average farm profits since 2000 and 36% below their net income in 2013 when adjusted for inflation, Bloomberg said. Farmers will receive $19.5 billion in direct government aid by year-end, the most since 2005, according to the projections. That doesn’t include an additional $10.5 billion in federally subsidized crop insurance payments forecast for the year. Rural voters are a key constituency for President Donald Trump as he heads into the 2020 election and the farm economy was under stress even before the trade war with China. The administration announced $16 billion in trade aid for farmers this year after providing $12 billion last year. Congress also appropriated $3 billion in disaster assistance for farmers on top of payments they receive from existing farm subsidy programs for those who were unable to plant. The new USDA projections also include big upward revisions for net farm income for last year and this year based on a 2018 survey on farm production practices and finances. The survey showed farmers’ expenses were considerably lower than previously estimated, Hopkins said. The USDA had previously estimated last year’s farm profits at $63.1 billion. The 2019 projection of $88 billion is up from a $69.4 billion forecast released in March. Many producers have been critical of the sweeping scope of the “get tough” trade policies that include products and markets like those for many farm products that have been built steadily over many years and which are not been the focus of the most damaging Chinese trade policies, observers say. The administration’s “trade aid” payments are controversial in some quarters and are widely seen as inadequate by producers. Still, such subsidies have been used by many administrations over decades — with varying degrees of success – that create policy and political issues that should be watched closely as they intensify, Washington Insider believes.

| Rural Advocate News | Wednesday September 4, 2019 |


USDA Announces 2019 ARC, PLC Enrollment Now Open Producers can now enroll in the Agriculture Risk Coverage (ARC) and Price Loss Coverage (PLC) programs for the 2020 crop year, USDA announced Tuesday (September 3). Enrollment for the two programs will be open through March 15, 2020. If no election is made by the deadline, it will default "to the current elections of the crops on the farm established under the 2014 Farm Bill," USDA said. No payment will be earned in 2019 if the election defaults, the department noted. Under changes introduced by the 2018 Farm Bill, farmers may enroll and elect program year 2019 coverage in crop-by-crop ARC-County or PLC, or ARC-Individual for the entire farm. The 2019 election will apply for both the 2019 and 2020 crop years. Farmers will then have an opportunity to change their program elections in crop years 2021 through 2023. Once 2019 crop year elections are completed, producers can submit an enrollment contract for the 2020 crop year beginning October 7, 2019 and ending June 30, 2020. "The ARC and PLC programs, in combination with crop insurance, are the bedrock of the farm safety net for crop farmers and something I hear about frequently on the road," USDA Secretary Sonny Perdue said in a statement. "This exciting opportunity for enrollment in these programs marks the first time folks will have the opportunity to switch their elections since the 2014 Farm Bill was implemented. I am pleased to add that today’s announcement means our staff met yet another major Farm Bill implementation goal and they are continuing to move full speed ahead," he concluded.

| Rural Advocate News | Wednesday September 4, 2019 |


China Hits Back at New US Tariffs with WTO Complaint China is challenging the latest round of U.S. tariffs targeting $110 billion in Chinese goods that took effect over the weekend, in a new complaint filed at the World Trade Organization (WTO). The U.S. asserts that the duties, which it imposed over alleged Chinese theft of U.S. intellectual property, are not subject to review by WTO – but China repeatedly rejected that assertion. In a statement, the Chinese Commerce Ministry said the U.S. reneged on an agreement not to impose new tariffs that was reached at the June G20 summit in Osaka, Japan. That, in turn, prompted China to lodge the complaint at WTO, the ministry said. The U.S. and China have 60 days to resolve the dispute. If they are unable to reach a mutually agreed solution China could then request the establishment of a WTO dispute panel to adjudicate the matter.

| Rural Advocate News | Wednesday September 4, 2019 |


Wednesday Watch List Markets At 7:30 a.m. CDT, the U.S. Census Bureau will report on the U.S. trade deficit and give USDA more specific export data to be released later Wednesday morning. Weather will continue to be monitored for late-developing row crops. Trade remains a touchy topic for traders after the most recent increases in tariff levels. Weather Wednesday will be dry and mild over all primary crop areas. Hurricane Dorian off the southeastern U.S. coast, and tropical storm Fernand in the far western Gulf of Mexico will not threaten most agricultural interests.

| Rural Advocate News | Tuesday September 3, 2019 |


Grassley: Administration Considering “Handful” of EPA Waiver Fixes Since Donald Trump took office, the Environmental Protection Agency has issued 85 exemptions to oil refineries allowing them to stop blending ethanol into their fuel. NBC News Dot Com says that’s a “staggering increase” from previous administrations. The waivers have been given to some of the nation’s biggest oil corporations, including Chevron and Exxon. Iowa Senator Chuck Grassley, a Trump ally, ripped the administration over the waivers. “They screwed us when they issued 31 waivers compared to less than 10 waivers in all of the Obama years,” he says. “What’s bad isn’t the waiver, it’s that it’s being granted to people who really aren’t going through any hardship.” During a recent conference call, Grassley says the administration is looking at “four-or-five things” to help make up for the damage inflicted on U.S. farmers by a large number of small-refinery waivers. Grassley says there is one thing above all others that matters to farmers. “We need the reallocation of every gallon that was waived by the EPA, getting them added back into the Renewable Fuels Standard requirement,” he said. “I welcome the administration’s admission that the EPA’s move was wrong and taking steps to try and right it.” ********************************************************************************************** While Farmer Frustration Grows, They Still Seem to Support Trump While farmer frustration with the Trump Administration continues to grow because of the trade war with China and small refinery waivers under the RFS, he still seems to have their support. Bloomberg says support for the president bounced back this year, with 67 percent of farmers in a Farm Futures Survey saying they’ll support his re-election in 2020. That number is up from last year, when Trump’s rural support dropped to under 60 percent, shortly after China introduced retaliatory tariffs on American soybeans. In spite of the difficulties, growers still back Trump in his battle to reduce the trade deficit with countries like China. A farmer in southern Minnesota spoke with Bloomberg, saying he didn’t like it but he understands the need to get a better trade deal for the U.S. Only six percent of farmers who voted for Trump say they wouldn’t back him if the elections were held today. Even two percent of Hillary Clinton voters in 2016 now say they’ll support Trump in 2020. Farmers cite other issues outside of agriculture that help cement their support for the president, including health care, immigration, and education. ********************************************************************************************** China Buying More Ag Goods from the Philippines China says it may import more fruits and other agricultural products from the Philippines in the years ahead as the two countries enjoy close ties. The Philippine Trade Minister, Ramon Lopez, says Chinese President Xi (Zhee) Jinping made that comment during a meeting with the Philippine president in Beijing last week. Philippine government officials were happy to hear that as the country has a goal of balancing the trade deficit with China. Lopez said in a statement that, “President Xi reiterated China’s policy to help balance trade with the Philippines by buying more goods, especially agriculture and Agri-based products, and industrial goods.” Xi also says, “China is willing to import more high-quality fruits and agricultural products from the Philippines and will send experts to the Philippines to teach agricultural and fishery technology.” A wide trade gap exists between the two countries. China was the Philippines biggest supplier of imported goods with a 23 percent share of total imports as of last June. Meanwhile, China was only the third-largest importer of products from the Philippines. ********************************************************************************************** U.S. Cattlemen’s Association Wants “Transparency Summit” Late last week, the United States Cattlemen’s Association sent letters to the U.S. Department of Agriculture and the Commodity Futures Trading Commission. The USCA is requesting each department to bring together cattle market participants and stakeholders to discuss concerns related to price transparency and true price discovery. The letters were specifically addressed to USDA Secretary Sonny Perdue and CFTC Chairman Heath Tarbert. The USCA sent the letter in response to the untimely fire at the Tyson Foods Beef Plant in Holcomb, Kansas. U.S. cattle producers have seen unprecedented disruption in the cattle marketplace over the last several weeks since the fire took place. U.S. Cattlemen want two separate Cattle Industry Summits that would directly address issues related to the Mandatory Price Reporting Program. Packers and Stockyards Act Violations and definitions, as well as cattle futures contracts. USCA says it looks forward to working with both the USDA and the CFTC to bring together cattle industry stakeholders in the months ahead. ********************************************************************************************** China Taking Steps to Boost Pork Supplies The Chinese Commerce Ministry says it will look at ways to boost pork imports and will look at releasing frozen pork, beef, and mutton from state reserves. Reuters says the goal is to increase the supply of meat in the domestic market. The moves will come as pork prices hit record highs in China because of the African Swine Fever epidemic that has killed millions of pigs in the country’s herds. The world’s top pork consumer has seen its hog herd shrink by as much as a third over the past year. Pork prices have soared since June. A Commerce Ministry spokesman says the country will “continue to encourage the expansion of pork imports.” Imports are up 36 percent over the first seven months of this year. China is looking at other sources for pork beside the U.S. as the trade war continues between the two largest economies in the world. Beijing has agreed to start importing pork from Argentina this year. They’re also expected to approve additional plants for export in Brazil and Great Britain. China also will release some meat from its reserves to help stabilize supplies. ********************************************************************************************* U.S. Exporters to Join McKinney on Trade Mission to Canada Ted McKinney, USDA Under Secretary for Trade and Foreign Agricultural Affairs, will lead a trade mission to Canada September 3-6. He’ll be accompanied on the trip by 41 U.S. agribusinesses and associations who are looking to expand sales to the United States’ top agricultural export markets. “With the new U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement poised for passage in Congress, this is a great time for U.S. agricultural exporters to shore up ties with our neighbors in the north,” McKinney says. “Our two nations already enjoy the world’s largest bilateral agriculture trade relationship, with almost $120 million worth of food and farm products crossing the border every day.” McKinney says the USMCA will make this good relationship even better and they’re looking forward to meeting with current and potential customers in Toronto and Montreal. “We’ll be exploring new and expanded business opportunities while we’re there,” he adds. McKinney will be joined on the trip by officials from multiple state departments of agriculture. Other companies and organizations on the trip include the American Peanut Council, the American Sweet Potato Marketing Institute, the Food Export Association of the Midwest, and many more.

| Rural Advocate News | Tuesday September 3, 2019 |


Washington Insider: More Trade Friction Much of the Chinese media is continuing to shrug off President Trump’s latest escalation of the tariff war as state sources, especially, signal that the government is ready to weather the economic turbulence. For example, Bloomberg says that Chinese editorials and commentaries since the administration slapped tariffs on roughly $110 billion in Chinese imports on Sunday have focused on the impact the latest tariff hikes will have on U.S. consumers. In addition, late Sunday, the State Council, or cabinet, released a statement pledging to increase economic support if needed, the report said. Chinese officials have yet to give a clear sign that they intend to carry through a plan for in-person negotiations in Washington this month, a meeting planned before the latest round of tit-for-tat measures. Few column inches were dedicated to the trade war Monday and there was little evidence of any change in stance. However, the theme was clear: “It is time the U.S. administration reconsidered its poorly thought out China-bashing moves,” an editorial in the China Daily argued. “Working to secure a trade deal would be a more fruitful approach.” The 15% U.S. duty hit consumer goods ranging from footwear and apparel to home textiles and certain technology products like the Apple Watch. A separate batch of about $160 billion in Chinese goods--including laptops and mobile phones--will be hit with 15% tariffs on Dec. 15. The new tariffs imposed over the weekend are “a turning point in the trade war” with the U.S., an editorial in the Communist Party’s tabloid Global Times wrote Sunday evening. “The U.S. economy cannot sustain its superficial prosperity and is facing a bigger risk of decline,” the editorial said. “The Trump administration has shot Americans in the foot. When more and more Americans feel the pain, maybe it will be time for Washington to recover rationality.” While the Trump administration has dismissed concern about a protracted trade war, business groups are calling for a tariff truce and the resumption of negotiations—and talks scheduled for Washington in September are still on, the President told reporters Sunday. “We are talking to China, the meeting is still on,” he said. The President repeated the assertion that China, not the U.S., is “paying” for the tariffs and said that farmers hurt by Beijing’s retaliation are being made “more than whole” by federal payments. Chinese media disagree with both statements, as do many in the United States. While president Trump has repeatedly said China pays for U.S. tariffs on Chinese sales, many companies and economists report that U.S. importers bear the cost, as do consumers. The non-partisan Congressional Budget Office in August projected that by 2020, administration tariffs and its trade war will reduce the level of real U.S. GDP by about 0.3% and reduce average real household income by $580. That followed a JPMorgan Chase & Co. note to clients estimating that the latest round of tariffs will increase the average cost per U.S. household to $1,000 a year--up from $600 for duties enacted last year. That estimate is in the low range because it was based on a duty rate of 10%, before it was increased it to 15%. The tariffs are also harming the global economy, Bloomberg says. The International Monetary Fund in July further reduced its world growth outlook, already the lowest since the financial crisis. China’s retaliation took effect as of 12:01 p.m. Sunday in Beijing, with higher tariffs being rolled out in stages on a total of about $75 billion of U.S. goods. Its target list strikes at the heart of the President’s political support--factories and farms across the Midwest and South at a time when the U.S. economy is showing signs of slowing down. The Sept. 1 duty boosts include an extra 10% on American pork, beef, and chicken and various other agricultural goods, while soybeans will get hit with an extra 5% tariff on top of the existing 25%. Starting in mid-December, American wheat, sorghum, and cotton will also get a further 10% tariff. While China imposed a new 5% levy on US crude oil starting from September there was no new tariff on liquefied natural gas. The resumption of a suspended extra 25% duty on U.S. cars will resume Dec. 15, with another 10% on top for some vehicles. With existing general duties on autos taken into account, the total tariff charged on U.S.-made cars would be as high as 50%. Gary Shapiro, president of the Consumer Technology Association, said the Trump administration’s approach of using tariffs to pressure China into a deal has backfired and many producer groups now appear to agree. So, we will see. It appears to be increasingly difficult for the administration to make its case that the tariffs only hurt the Chinese, or that its trade aid farm programs are fully successful. Still, both sides are deeply dug in on their current policies and are resisting change—as the debate continues to rage. This is an important fight; one producers should watch closely as it proceeds, Washington Insider believes.

| Rural Advocate News | Tuesday September 3, 2019 |


USDA's McKinney To Lead Canada Ag Trade Mission USDA Undersecretary for Trade and Foreign Agricultural Affairs Ted McKinney is leading a trade mission to Canada Sept. 3-6, the department announced. He will be accompanied by representatives from 41 U.S. agribusinesses and associations looking to expand sales to the United States’ top agricultural export market. "With the new U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA) poised for passage, this is a great time for U.S. agricultural exporters to be shoring up ties with our neighbors to the north,” McKinney said. "Our two nations already enjoy the world’s largest bilateral agricultural trade relationship, with almost $120 million worth of food and farm products crossing the border every day," McKinney noted. "The USMCA will make this good relationship even better, and we’re looking forward to meeting with current and potential customers in Toronto and Montreal to explore new and expanded business opportunities."

| Rural Advocate News | Tuesday September 3, 2019 |


Refiners Critical Of Trump Plans to Boost Biofuels Executives for major oil refiners urged President Donald Trump not to move forward with proposed changes to the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) program meant to boost biofuel usage. The biofuel moves are meant to compensate for the Environmental Protection Agency's (EPA) granting of small refinery exemptions (SREs). Trump is expected to boost federal mandates for production of corn-based ethanol and biodiesel in response to complaints from farmers about the administration’s policy of issuing a growing number of the refinery waivers. "The fixes that are being suggested by the Department of Agriculture and the biofuels community that would raise the conventional biofuel mandate will do nothing to increase domestic ethanol usage, but will only give incentives for more imported biodiesel," said CEOs Joseph Gorder of Valero, Gary Heminger of Marathon and Jeff Ramsey of Flint Hills Resources, in a letter to President Donald Trump. The companies led by the three chief executives produce nearly one fifth of U.S. ethanol. The refiners also pushed back on the suggestion that ethanol demand has been undermined by EPA waivers exempting some small refineries from biofuel-blending requirements, saying the notion is "simply untrue." Oil industry groups may file lawsuits to stop the policy changes under discussion at the White House if they cannot persuade Trump to abandon the plans, said American Fuel and Petrochemical Manufacturers (AFPM) President and CEO Chet Thompson. "It’s never over until it’s over with this administration," Thompson remarked. He argued the administration cannot "unilaterally" move forward with the changes now under consideration and said the industry will fight them through EPA's rulemaking process and in court if necessary. Trump is expected to announce the biofuel package next week in the Midwest. Thompson and American Petroleum Institute (API) President and CEO Mike Sommers also penned a joint letter to President Trump urging him not to move forward with the changes and disputing claims from biofuel proponents that SREs are causing demand destruction for ethanol.

| Rural Advocate News | Tuesday September 3, 2019 |


Tuesday Watch List Markets The first day back from Labor Day weekend, traders will be checking the latest forecasts and noting any news about trade that might have developed. A report on U.S. manufacturing is due out at 9 a.m. CDT, followed by USDA's weekly export inspections at 10 a.m. CDT and Crop Progress at 3 p.m. CDT. Weather Moderate to locally heavy rain will cross the northern Midwest Tuesday, including some severe storm potential. Temperatures will be seasonal to below normal north and central, and hot south. Other primary crop areas will be dry. Hurricane Dorian will bring strong winds, locally heavy rain and storm surge to the south Atlantic coast as a Category 3 hurricane.

| Rural Advocate News | Friday August 30, 2019 |


Trump Says Farmers will be Happy with Ethanol Package President Donald Trump says “the farmers will be so happy” when they see what the White House is doing for ethanol. On Twitter, Trump says “it will be a giant package, get ready.” Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue at the Farm Progress Show this week said President Trump would announce details within the next couple of weeks. Perdue declined to offer any details, other than he pushed for easier access to higher blends of biofuels. Trump says that while the package will be welcomed by farmers, it also saved “the small refineries from certain closing.” Ethanol groups have charged that small refinery waivers are killing demand for biofuels, because they exempt refiners from complying with volume requirements in the Renewable Fuel Standard. The Environmental Protection Agency recently announced 31 waivers for small refineries in 2020. In the last year of the Obama administration, the EPA issued seven waivers. Trump has held several White House meetings with cabinet members over the last two weeks, working a mitigation package. ************************************************************************************* Weekly Ethanol Production Increases as More Plants Close Weekly ethanol production increased 1.6 percent this week, according to the Energy Information Association. The slight increase comes as ethanol producers say they are struggling due to small refinery waivers that are diminishing demand for ethanol. POET, the world’s largest biofuels producer, announced last week it has reduced production at half of its biorefineries, with the largest drops taking place in Iowa and Ohio. As a result, numerous jobs will be consolidated across POET’s 28 biorefineries and corn processing will drop by an additional 100 million bushels across Iowa, Ohio, Michigan, Indiana, Minnesota, South Dakota and Missouri. This week, the leadership of the Minnesota Corn Plus ethanol plant in Winnebago announced its closure. The plant was expected to halt production as early as this week. The shareholder-owned plant is laying off about 40 employees. The Renewable Fuels Association and Growth Energy both say the waivers are causing the closures are harming rural America's economy. The Trump administration fix to the ethanol market is expected in the next couple of weeks. ************************************************************************************* USDA Plans Foreign Animal Disease Exercise in September The Department of Agriculture and the pork industry will hold a foreign animal disease exercise next month. The industry is working on a “full function” exercise that will be conducted the week of September 23. The effort will focus on a fictional outbreak of African swine fever and the subsequent response by federal and state authorities, along with the rest of the pork industry. Industry leaders say the exercise should better prepare the U.S. pork industry and its stakeholders in the event of an outbreak. The drill will focus on exercising plans, policies, procedures and staff members involved in management, direction, command and control functions. National Pork Board senior vice president of science and technology, Dr. Dave Pyburn, says, “We're trying to create a realistic scenario of a confirmed foreign animal disease in this country to see how each stakeholder reacts and to find the gaps that need more work.” To find out if your state is participating, contact your state pork association office. ************************************************************************************* FAPRI Releases U.S. Baseline Outlook Report Update Excessive spring rain, trade disputes and African swine fever have disrupted agricultural markets in 2019. Despite reduced 2019 United States corn and soybean production prospects, prices for many commodities are under downward pressure because of the many factors that have weakened demand. Economists with the Food and Agricultural Policy Research Institute at the University of Missouri just released an update to its baseline price report. Assuming a return to more normal weather conditions in 2020, “projected corn and soybean production should rebound,” according to researcher Pat Westhoff. Projected 2020-21 marketing year average prices for corn fall to $3.39 per bushel and soybean prices fall to $7.94 per bushel. This year’s update was prepared the week of August 19. Policies in place at that time, including China’s 25 percent retaliatory tariff on U.S. soybeans and other farm products, are assumed to remain in place. The update uses 2019 acreage, yield and production estimates included in United States Department of Agriculture’s August 2019 Crop Production report. ************************************************************************************* American Dairy Coalition Seeks Scientific Review of EPA Nitrate Study The American Dairy Coalition wants a scientific review of the Environmental Protection Agency’s 2013 nitrate report. In a letter to EPA Director Andrew Wheeler, the coalition says the 2013 report never received a proper scientific review, and is a “flawed and damaging” report. The EPA Yakima Nitrate Report began in 2010 and was published in 2012 and 2013. The coalition says the report has been proven false by fifteen national agricultural science experts, and was developed without the peer-review required on "influential science information" as the study was categorized. Laurie Fischer, CEO of the American Dairy Coalition, says, "It is vital that the administration demonstrate their commitment to maintaining the integrity and transparency of science." The coalition is concerned for farmers that have already been severely affected by the report and believes EPA must stop a "dangerous precedence" from being set which could impact other farmers throughout the United States. Usage of the study led to highly disciplinary enforcement and threats of federal litigation, which has devastated four large dairy farms. ************************************************************************************* Deere Appoints New CEO Deere & Company announced the appointment of John C. May as CEO. May, who has served as Deere's president and chief operating officer since April 2019, will assume the CEO role on November 4, 2019. May will take the place of Samuel Allen, who will continue as chairman after he steps down from the CEO role. Allen says May’s experience in precision agriculture, information technology, and overseas operations “will be instrumental in driving the company's digitalization journey and extending its success in agricultural and construction equipment." May becomes the 10th chief executive in the company's 182-year history. The 50-year-old May joined Deere in 1997 and became part of the senior management team in 2012 as president, agricultural solutions and chief information officer. Last year, he was named president, of the Worldwide Agriculture & Turf Division. Earlier in his career, May headed the company's China operations, served as factory manager at an Iowa Deere facility and was vice president of the turf and utility platform.

| Rural Advocate News | Friday August 30, 2019 |


Washington Insider: Economic Growth and Spending, Broken There is a lot of angst around the country just now regarding the prospects for the medium-term economic outlook. In that context, the Washington Post is carrying an Op-Ed by Jared Bernstein, senior fellow at the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities and former advisor to Vice President Joe Biden, who writes that the large and growing budget deficit for FY 2018 of $779 billion is a huge jump over the prior year’s level and a particularly large deficit considering the strong underlying economy. Bernstein says that the Trump administration, with its tax cut, has broken a key fiscal function. In the past when employment was high tax revenues as a share of the economy were expected to rise significantly, deficits were expected to fall. Instead, revenues recently have gone way down, and deficits have climbed. He argues that this is primarily because the recent tax cuts have significantly cut the amount of federal tax revenue being spun off for any given growth rate. Increased spending also played a role, he says, but “not as large a one as the tax cuts.” If this sounds out of sync with Republican claims that “tax cuts will pay for themselves,” that’s because it is. They don’t … never did … never will, he asserts. Bernstein presents data back to the mid-1940s and calculated the average deficit as a share of GDP. In every year since the late 1940s when unemployment rate was at or below 4.5% (it’s currently 3.7%) the average deficit was 0.4%, as opposed to the 3.9% for 2018. This shows, he says, a shift in the heretofore “tight correlation between deficit and unemployment rates.” For example, he notes that in both fiscal 2000 and 2018, the unemployment rate was 4%. In 2000, the strong economy teamed up with the structure of the tax code generated revenues to the Treasury of 20% of GDP. This year, that share fell to 16.5%. Bernstein expects that advocates of the tax cuts will point to the difference in the spending between the two years, but uses projections by Congressional Budget Office to compare the two periods. The CBO projected in the summer of 2017, before the tax cuts and this year’s spending deal, that we’d spend 20.5% of GDP this year, almost exactly what happened (20.3%). But CBO also thought, ahead of the tax cut that we’d collect 17.7% of GDP in revenues when the actual was, as shown, 16.5%. This diminished revenue figure is the key difference between what CBO expected then and what occurred, he says. He sees this difference as highly important. Based on our aging demographics alone, we will need more revenue over the next decade, not less. Add in geopolitical threats, climate change and the damage from increasingly intense storms, infrastructure, the need to push back on poverty and inequality, as well as counter-cyclical fiscal policy that will be needed for the next downturn and he concludes that “it’s not hard to understand why a rising deficit at full economic capacity is so ill-advised.” These observations lead him to conclude that it is necessary to take steps to claw back the lost revenue, as well as to look for reasonable savings on the spending side. He thinks this will be hard, given claims from administration officials who believe that expected strong economic growth, combined with proposals to cut wasteful spending, will lead America toward a sustainable financial path. He calls that “magical thinking” and also argues that the red ink we learned about this week is merely the beginning of a tide that will only, absent corrective action, get larger. Here it seems we have the basis for an intense debate, both between the parties and within them. The administration wants a bustling economy and it seems completely unwilling to be deterred by implications of growing deficits and debt. At the same time, many of the Democratic contenders are proposing large, strong government programs to do many things and have been willing to argue that “modern economics” leads to less prominent concerns about debt levels and deficits—although their spending priorities are very different than most of those proposed by the administration. That raises the question of who will focus on the debt, and whether that concern will—or won’t—constrain ambitions for government programs, given the many, many concerns regarding urgent public needs. It still seems that debt worries have not disappeared entirely, and that possibly Bernstein’s former link to a top democratic contender may mean new policy efforts from that direction. So, we will see. The Post carried the Bernstein note but did not weigh in on the intensity and potential political impact of the debt issue—or of its absence. Nevertheless, this is a fight that can be expected to emerge at some point and which should be watched closely by producers and others as it does, Washington Insider believes.

| Rural Advocate News | Friday August 30, 2019 |


USDA Again Cuts FY 2019 US Agricultural Export Outlook U.S. agricultural exports are now forecast at $134.5 billion for Fiscal Year (FY) 2019, down $2.5 billion from May's forecast of $137 billion, according to USDA's August 2019 Outlook for U.S. Agricultural Exports. If those export numbers hold they would be the lowest since FY 2016 when U.S. agricultural exports were valued at $129.6 billion. It would also mark first year since FY 2016 that exports have not reached at least $140 billion. The value of U.S. agricultural imports held steady at a record $129 billion, the same as the May forecast. If the forecast comes to pass, it would mark three years in a row of record import values. The decline in ag exports is forecast to put the U.S. agricultural trade surplus at just $5.3 billion, down $2.8 billion from May's forecast of $8 billion and around one third of the $15.8 billion surplus registered for FY 2018. If realized, it would be the smallest U.S. agricultural trade surplus since FY 2006 when it stood at $4.6 billion.

| Rural Advocate News | Friday August 30, 2019 |


China Mulls Next Moves After Latest Trade War Escalations China Ministry of Commerce spokesman Gao Feng said Thursday (August 29) Beijing "firmly reject[s] an escalation of the trade war," adding that it remains "willing to negotiate and collaborate in order to solve this problem with calm attitude." China will not immediately retaliate over the duties announced by President Donald Trump that are set to take effect this weekend, Gao stated. "China has ample means for retaliation but thinks the question that should be discussed now is about removing the new tariffs to prevent escalation of the trade war," he said. Gao noted that the U.S. and China have maintained "effective communications" since the last set of face-to-face talks in Shanghai in July. He added that the two sides are "still discussing" whether Chinese negotiators will travel to Washington for more in person talks in September. On the U.S. side, Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said officials still anticipate additional talks, but would not confirm whether the previously planned September meeting is still on tap. "We continue to have conversations. We’re planning for them to come," he told Bloomberg in an interview.

| Rural Advocate News | Friday August 30, 2019 |


Friday Watch List Markets Early Friday we'll be watching personal income, consumer spending and core inflation reports to be released. DTN will also be watching for deliveries on expiring September futures contracts, updated longer term weather outlooks and any news regarding new biofuel incentives and U.S.--China trade talks. Weather Heavy rain and flash flooding are in store for the southeastern Plains Friday. Other crop areas will be dry. Temperatures will be seasonal to below normal north and central, keeping crop progress slow. Meanwhile, Hurricane Dorian in the western Atlantic Ocean is forecast to reach major hurricane status during Friday.

| Rural Advocate News | Thursday August 29, 2019 |


Perdue Calls for Investigation Into Cattle Markets After Kansas Fire U.S. Ag Secretary Sonny Perdue has been monitoring the impact of a fire at the beef processing facility in Holcomb, Kansas. As a part of that monitoring effort, Perdue says, “I have directed USDA’s Packers and Stockyards Division to launch an investigation into recent beef pricing margins to determine if there is any evidence of price manipulation, collusion, restrictions of competition, or other unfair practices.” Perdue says if any unfair practices are found, his agency will take quick enforcement action. The USDA remains in close contact with plant management and other stakeholders to understand the fire’s impact on the industry. The National Cattlemen’s Beef Association was pleased with Perdue’s announcement. NCBA President Jennifer Houston says the announcement demonstrates the government’s understanding of the extreme strain placed on the cattle industry by the plant fire in Kansas. “We encourage USDA to look at all aspects of the beef supply chain and to utilize internal and external expertise in the investigation,” she says. “We believe it adds transparency that will help build confidence in the markets among cattlemen and women.” ********************************************************************************************** The List of Asian Countries Battling ASF Continues to Grow African Swine Fever has now claimed another country in Asia. The disease is now in Myanmar (ME-yahn-mar), a country west of the previous known outbreaks. A National Pork Board release says if eastern Russia is included, that makes eight Asian countries that are struggling with the disease. The World Organization for Animal Health says two provinces in far-eastern Russia that aren’t far from the Chinese border have recently reported new outbreaks of the disease on multiple farms. While ASF cases have been found in eastern Russia before, these provinces hadn’t been affected by outbreaks until recently. The United Nation’s Food and Agricultural Organization says Myanmar’s Ministry of Agriculture, Livestock, and Irrigation confirmed the first ASF outbreak occurred on August 1. It’s in the northwest part of the country near the Chinese border. Other outbreaks then occurred on August 10 and 11, respectively, also in the northeast part of the country. Elsewhere, officials in the Philippines have seen suspiciously high mortality in backyard pigs recently. As a result, the multi-island nation is setting up animal inspection points and a quarantine area so officials can check pigs for signs of African Swine Fever. Many cities and provinces within the country are taking additional action to help prevent the spread of ASF. ********************************************************************************************** Michigan Lawmakers Ask Trump to “Stop Choosing Oil” Michigan Senators Debbie Stabenow and Gary Peters recently joined five other senators in asking the Trump Administration to support a strong Renewable Fuels Standard. The administration recently took more action to benefit oil companies and undercut American-grown biofuels. The Environmental Protection Agency issued 31 small refinery hardship waivers, which allows oil companies to blend less biofuel into gasoline. The August 8 announcement effectively cut demand for biofuels by over 1.4 billion gallons. Stabenow says, “The President needs to stop putting the interests of big oil companies ahead of farmers who are already struggling thanks to the administration.” The effect of the 31 small refinery waivers is compounded by the 54 additional waivers the EPA has granted over the last two years.” “I’m disappointed that our farmers continue to be undermined by the Trump Administration’s waivers for big oil companies,” Peters says. “The RFS was created to reduce our reliance on foreign oil sources and shift us to homegrown biofuels that we grow and produce domestically.” The Administration’s use of waivers has increased 370 percent, with some of them going to the world’s largest oil companies. Recently, more than 13 ethanol plants and eight biodiesel plants have idled their production or shut down entirely across the country. ********************************************************************************************** Hemp Production and Processing Rules Expected in September The USDA is expected to issue new rules for growing and testing hemp sometime next month. Capital Press reports that has farmers feeling anxious about establishing consistent standards for producing the booming crop. Senator Ron Wyden of Oregon tells the Capital Press that he expects the USDA to issue those regulations sometimes within the next two to four weeks. Wyden was one of the sponsors of legislation decriminalizing hemp in the 2018 Farm Bill. The Hemp Farming Act of 2018 passed with bipartisan support and classified hemp as an agricultural product. “I think it’s pretty obvious that you are on the right side of history,” Wyden said during remarks to a crowd at the Western U.S. Hemp Growers Conference and Expo on August 19 in Portland, Oregon. “You don’t have thousands of farmers moving into this space for nothing. Hemp can be used to make multiple products like paper, textiles, clothing, and building materials. The primary use in the market today is for an extract called CBD Oil, which companies put into everything from cosmetics to beverage, touting health benefits. ********************************************************************************************** Coalition Says Tariff Increases “Come at the Worst Possible Time” Americans for Free Trade has a lot to say about the pending U.S. tariff increases on Chinese goods. The coalition of over 160 businesses set a letter to President Trump asking him to postpone tariff increases that are scheduled to take effect next week. The association says the proposed tariff increases come as consumers draw nearer to the holiday shopping season, which means costs will rise in the coming months. The letter says, “These tariff rate increases, some starting as early as Sunday, come at the worst possible time, right in the middle of the busy holiday shopping period. U.S. consumers are driving the growth of the U.S. economy and we want to ensure that their confidence remains high.” Americans for Free Trade represents many of the sectors and products that will be hit hardest by recent trade war escalation. Starting on September 1, approximately $112 billion in goods will be hit by a 15 percent tariff, including products that range from clothing and footwear to televisions and Christmas decorations. “We want to ensure that economic prosperity continues for the American families, farmers, and workers we employ every day.” ********************************************************************************************* Conagra Teams With HSUSA on Chicken Welfare Standards Conagra Brands recently announced steps it will implement when it comes to company treatment of broiler chickens in its supply chain sourcing practices. The company worked with the Humane Society of the U.S. on the new goals, which add higher standards to the company’s existing broiler policy. Conagra says it will work with suppliers, peers, and external stakeholders to implement several improvements in its treatment of chickens by 2024. Among the improvements, Conagra says it will provide birds with more space to perform natural behaviors, including a stocking density of no greater than six pounds per square foot and no use of broiler cages. They’ll also be tracking supplier compliance with the new standards through third-party auditing. In a statement, Conagra says it’s proud to work with the Humane Society of the United States, as well as others in the food industry, to take meaningful steps toward positive change in broiler chicken welfare practices. HUSU says, “We applaud Conagra for addressing the most pressing concerns related to chicken meat production.”

| Rural Advocate News | Thursday August 29, 2019 |


Washington Insider: Collateral Issues and the China Trade Battle A political factor in the U.S.-China trade war is attracting the attention of the urban press this week. For example, the New York Times gave front-page coverage to a story about farmer concerns over President Trump’s trade war. Also, The Hill highlighted a quote from “Iowa corn farmers” charging that the government put us in “one hell of a bad situation.” At least one trade association was hammering the President for approving what it called 31 “unjustified” refinery waivers tied to ethanol, along with his growing trade war with China. It said those two issues, combined with the effects of climate change, are forcing the value of Iowa corn to drop ahead of harvest season. The farmer group also charged that while the President has sought to cast himself as a staunch supporter of American farmers, the U.S. agricultural community has been disproportionately harmed as China targets farm products in an apparent attempt to hit some of Trump’s main backers. Meanwhile, the President is continuing to argue that while the trade war may cause some “short term” pain,” farmers will be “big winners.” The Times article emphasized a sophisticated aspect of this issue, the fact that in the current fight American farmers’ woes are collateral damage in a war that the administration is using to help manufacturers and others it believes were hurt by China’s trade practices—although the issues involved are not mainly agricultural. More than a year into the dispute, sales of American soybeans, pork, wheat and other ag products to China have dried up as Beijing retaliates against U.S. tariffs, the Times notes. Lucrative contracts that farmers long relied on for significant sources of income have evaporated, with Chinese buyers looking to other nations like Brazil and Canada to get the commodities they need. While the Times focuses on farm market pressures, it also thinks they have generally “remained resolute,” as the President continues to argue that his trade policies will help the agricultural industry in the end—even as questions grow regarding what those benefits may turn out to be. “We’re not starting to do great again,” Brian Thalmann, the president of the Minnesota Corn Growers Association told Ag Secretary Perdue at a recent event. “Things are going downhill and downhill quickly.” On Monday, after a 72-hour period during which Trump twice escalated his trade war with China, Thalmann said he could no longer support the President as he did in 2016. Losing the world’s most populous country as an export market has been a major blow to the agriculture industry. Total American agricultural exports to China were $24 billion in 2014 and fell to $9.1 billion last year, the Times says and exports of farm products to China fell by $1.3 billion in the first half of the year. The administration also has tried to mollify farmers by rolling out two financial aid packages totaling $28 billion—and is looking for other ways to help farmers, including additional trade deals such as the one recently described between the U.S. and Japan. Last Thursday, President Trump summoned Perdue and Andrew Wheeler, who heads the EPA, to the White House to discuss options for increasing ethanol demand. The three came up with a package of policies that Trump plans to unveil at a White House ceremony in the next week that the Times expects to keep the waivers for ethanol refineries in place, while slightly increasing federal mandates for production of corn-based ethanol and biodiesel and allowing vehicles that use high-ethanol blends of gasoline to qualify for special EPA credits. Perdue is a somewhat unlikely lieutenant in the administration’s trade war, the Times says because as Georgia’s governor, he worked to strengthen ties between the state and Chin. But as a member of the administration, he has been a staunch backer of the President’s policies, publicly defending tariffs, working to shrink the federal government and expressing doubts about the science behind climate change. At Minnesota’s recent Farmfest, it was clear that Perdue’s Southern charm could go only so far. His answers to questions about how the trade war with China would end were curt the Times said. Last week, USDA staff members in Nebraska left the Pro Farmer Midwest Crop Tour after receiving a threat from an angry farmer. An organizer of the event told the Times that farmers have been venting to government employees about depressed crop prices, falling farm income and lack of access to credit. “This is a stressful time in agriculture,” said Joel Jaeger, the general manager of Pro Farmer. “There’s certainly a lot of stress in the farm community.” The fact is that one of the reasons trade negotiations are so tough is that they typically involve significant “collateral issues.” Thus, ag producers now are increasingly arguing that the trade fight that risks well established, lucrative ag markets in an effort to strengthen non-ag sectors like manufacturing are unfair and that government trade aid payments are greatly insufficient. In fact, collateral issues always involve very difficult issues—and almost always provide very attractive targets for the “other side” to exploit, as the Chinese are doing now. So, what this debate may mean for future U.S. policies remains to be seen, but the fight appears to be growing increasingly confrontational and difficult, and should be watched closely as it intensifies Washington Insider believes.

| Rural Advocate News | Thursday August 29, 2019 |


USDA Releases Study Showing Waterway Investment Benefits to US Ag USDA unveiled a new study detailing the importance of inland waterways to U.S. agriculture and the economic benefits that additional investments could yield. The study, prepared by Informa Agribusiness Intelligence, found the U.S. inland waterways system employed nearly 256,000 Americans and contributed $27.2 billion to U.S. gross domestic product (GDP) in 2016. It determined that additional investments totaling $6.3 billion over the next 10 years and $0.4 billion per year thereafter would see inland waterways contribute $64.6 billion to U.S. GDP by 2045, and employ some 472,000 people. The study considered the impact of dredging the lower Mississippi River from Baton Rouge through New Orleans and the Southwest Pass into the Gulf of Mexico. It found the project - along with other waterway investments - would increase the market value of corn and soybeans by $39 billion by 2045 compared with the status quo of no additional investments, including new dredging. “Water transport is the most efficient, cost-effective transportation for our producers, and our waterways keep the American exporter the most competitive in the world," USDA Secretary Sonny Perdue said in a statement accompanying the report. "President Trump has made it a priority to revitalize our nation’s infrastructure and invest in our rural communities, and his goal to reestablish America’s economic prowess on the global stage can be furthered by rebuilding our waterways to support agriculture exports. We must continue to invest in modernizing our lock and dam infrastructure that flows through the heartland of agricultural production," he concluded.

| Rural Advocate News | Thursday August 29, 2019 |


USDA Announces Hemp Crop Insurance Coverage For 2020 Production Crop insurance for hemp production will be available for the 2020 crop year via the Whole-Farm Revenue Protection (WFRP) program, according to USDA’s Risk Management Agency (RMA). Producers can obtain WFRP coverage for hemp now if they are part of a Section 7606 state or university research pilot as authorized by the 2014 Farm Bill. Other producers cannot obtain coverage until a USDA-approved plan is in place. But USDA has not completed the rulemaking process on the hemp provisions in the 2018 Farm Bill, with plans to finalize the rules this fall. WFRP allows coverage of all revenue for commodities produced on a farm up to a total insured revenue of $8.5 million. The 2018 Farm Bill amended the Controlled Substances Act to address how industrial hemp is to be defined and regulated at the federal level.

| Rural Advocate News | Thursday August 29, 2019 |


Thursday Watch List Markets Personal income, consumer spending and core inflation will be closely watched for signs of a slowing economy. DTN will be watching U.S. export sales on especially corn and soybeans, along with updated weather forecasts and any news on U.S. trade deals with China and Japan. Weather Light rain or showers will develop in the northern Midwest during Thursday. Heavier showers and a few thunderstorms may occur late Thursday or during Thursday night in the southwest Midwest and the east-central Plains area. This activity may become locally heavy. Mainly dry elsewhere in the key U.S. and Canada crop areas Thursday. Temperatures continue to average below normal today over the Canadian Prairies and the Northern Plains while the Midwest should see near to below normal temperatures. Hurricane Dorian will move towards the northwest east of the Bahamas today and Friday. A turn towards the west after that with a threat to Florida's east coast by Sunday night.

| Rural Advocate News | Wednesday August 28, 2019 |


Beijing “Not Aware” of Weekend Calls with Trump President Donald Trump claims China is ready to return to the negotiating table, but China says they don’t know who the President talked to over the weekend. A spokesperson for China’s Foreign Ministry told reporters “I am not aware of the phone calls over the weekend.” Trump claims Chinese officials called top U.S. trade officials to say, “let’s get back to the table.” However, China refutes the claim, and hopes the U.S. will “remain calm, return to reason, and immediately stop its wrong approach,” referring to the trade war escalation and Trump’s order against U.S. companies doing business in China. However, the order met pushback from the stock market and the U.S. business sector. China replied, “We hope the U.S. will heed the views from various sectors, calculate its gains and losses, and come to prudent rather than hot-headed decisions.” Over the phone negotiations were set to resume this week and Chinese officials are scheduled to meet in Washington with the U.S. for negotiations next month. ************************************************************************************* RFA: EPA Rejected White House Recommendation on Waivers The Renewable Fuels Association claims White House documents show the Environmental Protection Agency ignored Trump Administration recommendations on small refinery waivers. Documents obtained by the association apparently show the EPA ignored strong recommendations from within the Trump Administration to redistribute Renewable Fuel Standard blending obligations lost to small refinery exemptions in the proposed rule for 2020 volumes. According to the documents, which detail the White House Office of Management and Budget’s interagency review of the 2020 RVO proposal, some reviewers within the administration raised concerns about EPA’s failure to redistribute exempted biofuel blending volumes to non-exempt parties. The documents recommended that EPA include prospective redistribution of waived volumes in the 2020 proposal and suggested a method for addressing a court order to restore 500 million gallons of blending obligations inappropriately waived in 2016. RFA President and CEO Geoff Cooper says the documents “will only exacerbate the outrage and anger in farm country over EPA’s abuse of the small refinery waiver provision.” Cooper says the EPA “must adopt the prospective reallocation approach.” ************************************************************************************* Hemp Crop Insurance Coverage Available for 2020 Certain industrial hemp growers will be able to obtain insurance coverage under the Whole-Farm Revenue Protection program for crop year 2020. The Department of Agriculture’s Risk Management Agency Tuesday announced coverage for hemp grown for fiber, flower or seeds. The coverage will be available to producers who are in areas covered by USDA-approved hemp plans or who are part of approved state or university research pilot programs. RMA Administrator Martin Barbre says producers “are anxious for a way to protect their hemp crop,” adding that the policy will “provide a safety net for them.” Producers can obtain the coverage for hemp now if they are part of a Section 7606 state or university research pilot as authorized by the 2014 Farm Bill. Other producers cannot obtain coverage until a USDA-approved plan is in place. The program allows coverage of all revenue for commodities produced on a farm up to a total insured revenue of $8.5 million. It is popular for specialty crops, organic commodities and non-traditional crops. ************************************************************************************* Vilsack, Grassley, Tout USMCA in Iowa Senator Chuck Grassley and former Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack touted the U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement this week while touring an Iowa dairy processor. Grassley, the chair of the Senate Finance Committee and a prominent Agriculture Committee member, says “There’s going to be tens of thousands of jobs created” stemming from USMCA. The two toured AE Dairy in Des Moines, Iowa, a dairy plant that will benefit from the trade agreement, once signed. Vilsack of Iowa, who served as Agriculture Secretary for President Obama, is the current CEO of the U.S. Dairy Export Council. Speaking during the event, Vilsack stated, “USMCA makes vital improvements to NAFTA and its passage is necessary to modernize trade in North America.” According to a recent International Trade Commission Report, USMCA could mean up to $314 million in additional dairy sales. Agriculture remains hopeful lawmakers will consider the agreement when they return from the August recess. Washington insiders expect Congress won’t consider the agreement until November or December of this year. ************************************************************************************* National Pork Board to Host First-Ever Swine Innovation Summit The National Pork Board will host the inaugural Swine Innovation Summit in Indianapolis on September 17, 2019. NPB bills the Summit as a special event, prior to the Forbes AgTech Summit in Indianapolis. The program seeks to help pork producers and food influencers better understand emerging technology trends facing today’s food production systems. NPB says today’s food production systems are undergoing explosive change and the animal agriculture industry needs to prepare in order to keep pace. The Swine Innovation Summit will focus on three key drivers of change including emerging technology, new and dynamic business models and consumer behaviors which impact shopping preferences and food choices. An NPB spokesperson says, “In the span of a few short hours, we intend to educate today’s pig farmers on what they need to know and how they must adapt to the changing world in which we live.” NPB is offering the conference free of charge to pig farmers, swine veterinarians, authorized academics and allied industry. Learn more at pork.org. ************************************************************************************* KFC Testing Beyond Fried Chicken KFC announced the brief introduction of Beyond Fried Chicken in a trial run, a meat-free alternative to its staple products. In partnership with Beyond Meat, the fast food chain tested the new offering briefly Tuesday at an Atlanta, Georgia, location. Customer feedback from the Atlanta test will be considered as KFC evaluates a broader test or potential national rollout. Beyond Fried Chicken is fried to order. It is available as a nugget or as a boneless wing. The products are 100 percent plant-based, and Beyond Meat says they are prepared in a dedicated fryer. In a news release, , KFC president and chief concept officer Kevin Hochman stated, “our customers will find it difficult to tell that it’s plant-based.” Beyond Meat continues to grow its line of meat-imitating products through fast food restaurant chains. Within the last month, Beyond Meat announced product offerings at Subway and Dunkin Donuts, along with including in meal delivery companies Hello Fresh and Blue Apron.

| Rural Advocate News | Wednesday August 28, 2019 |


Washington Insider: The President’s Stark Choice It seems that the world of trade and economic policy has gotten quite a lot more challenging in recent days, and the urban press has noticed. For example, the New York Times says that the administration has recently sent numerous conflicting signals on trade policy — and that in addition to the impact of protectionist policies themselves, the uncertainty and anxiety from conflicting policy moves are also negative market factors. Overall, the Times says, the president can try to sever the deeply intertwined American commercial relationship with China, or he can prod economic growth to assuage the fears of investors around the planet. “But he cannot do both at the same time,” the report asserts. The Times waxes a little poetic about all of this—it proclaims that the President “can disregard the admonitions of news outlets he derides as fake news. He can simply consult the one source whose verdicts he tends to celebrate: the stock market.” There’s proof, NYT says — among those who control money, portents of further trade hostilities lead to stock sales “with abandon” while amplifying talk of recession. By contrast, intimations of a deal reverberate as a clarion call to buy, sending share prices higher while easing worries about a potential global economic downturn. Talk of a trade deal with China makes for happy stock markets. However, thunderous threats of fresh tariffs on Chinese goods and efforts to push American industry to forsake China damage share prices and shrink economic growth prospects — even as they bring approval from Trump’s most ardent political supporters who portray the trade war as a tough but necessary piece of business, too long avoided by the cowards who resided at the White House before. NYT recounts that on Friday the president unleashed furious threats toward China and vowed to raise tariffs on $550 billion of Chinese goods and declared China’s president, Xi Jinping, whom he had previously called a “good man,” an “enemy.” And he commanded American companies to abandon China and start making their products in the United States. In markets around the globe, investors reacted to these developments as powerful signals to yank their money to safety. They reacted as if much of the globe suddenly appeared riskier, the Times said. The Times also notes that the trade war that has escalated over the last year has already produced distress. For much of the world, countries that are innocent bystanders will actually suffer “even more than the United States and China,” said Louis Kuijs, the Hong Kong-based head of Asia economics at Oxford Economics. “There is not going to be any de-escalation any time soon.” While the U.S. is still growing, with an unemployment rate lower than it had been in half a century, companies are deferring investments as they puzzle over the impact of trade hostilities. Such a slowdown in investment could eventually prompt households to curb their spending and lower growth, the Times says. Long before Trump took office, American governments complained about China and its failed promises to open its markets—and on its lavish subsidies for state-owned companies. It turned itself into an export juggernaut while ignoring labor and environmental standards. The administration sees no solution in slow-moving cases at the WTO but often pushes for a fundamental redrawing of commercial geography. In that view, the American economy should “decouple” from China, the Times says. The president’s recent pronouncements appear to underscore that he is truly “willing to see Americans accept the costs”—plunging stock markets, weakening investment—for a wholly new sort of relationship with China as adversary. “The potential outcomes are many, but none of them involve the world’s getting richer, the Times said. So, by Sunday morning, at the Group of 7 summit in France, the President was expressing “second thoughts” about his new tariffs and by Monday he was calling Xi a “great leader” and reporting that China was interested in resuming trade talks. Stock markets were buoyant. At least for a few hours, the bewildering notion that the United States and China were dissolving ties could be forgotten. Throughout the administration’s tenure, trade experts have struggled to separate its real policy aims and beliefs from negotiating ploys. Many administration positions are seen as perpetually flexible, depending on which advisers have the President’s ear — and on the tenor of television conversations about economic growth prospects and—especially — the stock market. In addition, key advisers — like USTR Robert Lighthizer and chief trade adviser, Peter Navarro, author of a book called “Death by China” — urge the president to untether the American economy from China. At the same time, other advisors such as Larry Kudlow, who leads the National Economic Council and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin tend to focus on areas of interest to investors, not least share prices. While President Trump is famously adept at maintaining positions that seem mutually exclusive, the Times says, the trade war threatens to force him to choose between it and economic growth. In Beijing and Washington alike, hard-liners have dug in, shrinking room for a compromise. In both capitals, a sense of permanent alteration has transpired, a deepening assumption that — whatever comes next — China and the United States will proceed with profound wariness. The Times concludes that for the global economy, that could entail grave uncertainties and perils. So, we will see. So far, it seems as if policy uncertainty has been worsening, rather than clarifying — but it also seems that pushback from the Congress and the industries is growing. These are key trends and will affect both economic and political trends—and which should be watched closely by producers through the coming months, Washington Insider believes.

| Rural Advocate News | Wednesday August 28, 2019 |


Bankruptcy Filings in Farm Country Climb Farm bankruptcy filings in the year through June were up 13% from 2018, and loan delinquency rates are on the rise, according to the American Farm Bureau. A challenging growing season, low prices, liberal use of Renewable Fuel Standard waivers and, of course, trade policy, are straining the ag sector, the group noted. President Donald Trump signed into law a measure that would more than triple the debt cap on Chapter 12 bankruptcy to $10 million from a prior $3.237 million. While the level of bankruptcies is up, they still are well below the levels seen during the farm crisis in the 1980s. This also puts more attention on the Friday update from USDA on U.S. farm income.

| Rural Advocate News | Wednesday August 28, 2019 |


Perdue Refutes EPA Claim On Small Refiner Exemptions USDA Secretary Sonny Perdue delivered a strong rejection of EPA's claim small refinery exemptions (SREs) are having "zero impact" on corn ethanol producers. "I would refute the comment" as "[there is a] negative impact" on ethanol production from the waivers, Perdue told IEG Policy in a Virginia appearance. EPA "likes to point to export totals of ethanol production, which is good and healthy" to argue the waivers are not hurting ethanol producers, he noted. While welcoming ethanol exports, Perdue stated, "the demand destruction over domestic usage has been affected by the small refinery waivers." Perdue pointed out that with a 15 billion gallon mandate for conventional ethanol, “every time you issue a waiver, you decrease that [obligation], which decreases corn use, and that decreases ethanol capacity for the American producer.” Perdue cited a need to boost the infrastructure for E15 fuel as one way to help offset the small refiner exemptions.

| Rural Advocate News | Wednesday August 28, 2019 |


Wednesday Watch List Markets There are no significant government financial reports out on Wednesday. DTN will be watching for new September weather outlooks and any news regarding trade agreements, especially with China and Japan. Weather Rain is expected through the northeast U.S. during Wednesday, showers through the Texas and Louisiana areas. Mainly dry elsewhere in key U.S. growing areas. Light rain through the eastern Canadian Prairies. Temperatures averaging below normal through the Canadian Prairies, the Northern and central Plains and the Midwest regions during Wednesday will slow development of filling crops. Tropical storm Erin will be southeast of the Carolinas Wednesday. Tropical storm Dorian will move through the northeast Caribbean near Puerto Rico.

| Rural Advocate News | Tuesday August 27, 2019 |


Japan Agreement to Restore U.S. Benefits in TPP The trade agreement announced over the weekend between the U.S. and Japan should close the tariff gap created when President Trump removed the U.S. from the Trans-Pacific Partnership. Details have yet to be announced, but agriculture groups expect the tariff levels to be comparable to those of other nations who continued the TPP negotiation without the United States. While there are details yet to be worked out, U.S. Grains Council CEO Ryan LeGrande says, "lowering market access barriers with one of our most valuable and loyal grain buyers is a critical win-win.” LeGrande says the deal will level the playing field for U.S. agriculture. The agreement is expected to be finalized and signed late next month in conjunction with the United Nations General Assembly meeting. Meanwhile, following last week’s turbulent developments in the trade war with China, President Trump Monday said the two sides would resume negotiations. China announced retaliatory tariffs Friday, including increased tariffs on U.S. ag products, prompting Trump to do the same. ************************************************************************************* U.S. Farms Paying Cost of Retaliatory Tariffs U.S. farmers are taking the brunt of retaliatory tariffs, according to a recent CoBank report. The report confirms what the industry has pointed out over the course of the trade war, that China is targeting U.S. farm products in retaliation. In an analysis of 11 U.S. agricultural commodities representing a cross-section of agricultural exports, U.S. producers - not the importing country or its consumers - paid much of the cost of these tariffs in all but two cases. CoBank says the impact of retaliatory tariffs placed on U.S. farm products reflects the lopsided balance of power between U.S. producers and their importing customers. The nature of agricultural products, inventories with long shelf lives, and ease of identifying and sourcing suitable substitutes are among the factors that give importing customers the upper hand. The report says that with the prospect of declining bargaining power, U.S. producers of most agricultural commodities will face pressure to absorb more of the costs of retaliatory tariffs in the future. ************************************************************************************* Amazon Fires Could Alter Global Soy Trade Fires in the Amazon are likely to alter global soy trade in the future. Jim Bower of Bower Trading points out in his daily newsletter that many of the fires are started by humans to clear the land for crops. More than 75,000 fires have been reported since January, an 84 percent annual increase. Bower suspects that China is behind the increase as the trade war between the U.S. and China is escalating. China, the world’s largest consumer of soybeans, is seeking alternate markets after blocking imports from the United States, even though China made small purchases of U.S. soybeans last week. The land clearing of the Amazon is seen as a way to capture soy demand previously filled by U.S. producers. If true, the increase in production area in Brazil could permanently change soybean trade. The fires had the attention of the G7 Summit in Europe, with some nations saying they would block a trade agreement between the European Union and Brazil until Brazil takes action. ************************************************************************************* Ethanol Plant Representatives Ask Trump to Stop EPA Waivers The ethanol industry is asking President Trump to restore biofuel demand that was damaged by small refinery waivers. The Waivers exempt refineries from the Renewable Fuel Standard, and effectively reduce the blending targets set under the RFS, according to Growth Energy. On Monday, the group, along with several workers from ethanol plants across the county, penned a letter to Trump asking the President to restore the demand. The letter points to the billions of gallons of “lost” biofuel demand, leading to ethanol plants idling production or shutting down. Each time a plant idles production, the letter states that “farmers are notified that biofuel producers can no longer accept grain deliveries, and the impact has been devastating for communities already on the edge.” Farm income is now down by half since the start of this year alone, according to the Bureau of Economic Analysis. Growth Energy CEO Emily Skor says the EPA “must immediately repair the damage from abusive refinery exemptions and get lost gallons back into the marketplace.” ************************************************************************************* Trump Signs Family Farmer Relief Act President Trump last week signed the Family Farmer Relief Act of 2019. The law raises the Chapter 12 debt limit from $4.1 million to $10 million. The bipartisan bill “will help family farmers reorganize after falling on hard times,” according to American Farm Bureau Federation President Zippy Duvall. The law allows more farmers the opportunity to qualify under Chapter 12 bankruptcies and gives producers and their creditors a better chance to reorganize and avoid mass liquidation. A recent AFBF analysis found the delinquency rates for commercial agricultural loans in both the real estate and non-real estate lending sectors are at a six-year high. The bill was introduced this spring and passed both chambers of Congress earlier this month. House sponsor, Representative Antonio Delgado of New York, says the changes reflect the increase in land values, as well as the growth over time in the average size of U.S. farming operations and are meant to provide farmers additional options to manage the downturn in the farm economy. ************************************************************************************* Sorghum Checkoff Hosts International Buyers The Sorghum checkoff Monday welcomed a group of international buyers interested in grain sorghum as part of the Export Sorghum event. The one-day expo in Dallas, Texas, included more than 65 international buyers. Sorghum Checkoff executive director Florentino Lopez says the event “serves as our opportunity to share the value of U.S. sorghum.” Export Sorghum is centered around creating networking opportunities while providing buyers with information to help them make sorghum the “smart choice” for their feed grain solutions. Attendees of the event also tour parts of the U.S. to experience sorghum production and the value chain firsthand while developing relationships with U.S. sorghum farmers and suppliers. The Sorghum Checkoff says sorghum has proven to be a reliable ingredient across several industries including swine, poultry, beef, dairy and human food, increasing export opportunity. The event was held in conjunction with the United Sorghum Checkoff Program, in coordination with the U.S. Grains Council, Kansas Grain Sorghum Commission and Texas Grain Sorghum Producers Board.

| Rural Advocate News | Tuesday August 27, 2019 |


Washington Insider: Breaking Ties With China Trade issues continue to have top billing in the media this week and there is a new wrinkle — whether or not the president has the authority to force American companies to cut ties with China. He claims that he can do that and at least a couple of White House aides agree, Bloomberg says, but notes that numerous trade experts and others question such a policy. And, the more important question is whether or not he seriously plans to assert such powers. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, speaking on a Sunday talk show said the president would have the ability under the International Emergency Economic Powers Act but that he would first need to define and declare “an emergency.” White House economic director Larry Kudlow agreed — but went further to argue that “there’s nothing right now in the cards” to do so.” The president cited the 1977 measure late Friday, saying it gave him the power and declaring, “Case closed!” In addition, Bloomberg noted “some China hardliners in the administration have been urging the president to invoke the law on a number of fronts over the past two years.” Bloomberg called the approach “extreme,” but opined that it could be a way to take aim at operations of American businesses ranging from automakers General Motors Co. and Tesla Inc., to industrial companies such as Caterpillar Inc. and retail giants including Walmart Inc. Bloomberg also said that applying the IEEPA in this fashion was never the intent of the legislation — but that this wouldn’t be the first time the administration has looked into it. The president cited the law when he threatened in May to place levies on Mexican goods as a way to force curbs on the flow of undocumented immigrants across the U.S.-Mexican border. The intensifying trade battle between the world’s two largest economies and the potential for pushing the limits of presidential authority earlier roiled markets with the Dow Jones Industrial falling 623 points on Friday before strengthening somewhat on Monday. Mnuchin and Kudlow fielded questions Sunday after the president said he “hereby ordered” American companies to seek alternatives to business in China, including moving operations “home and making your products in the USA.” The president’s comments were followed hours later by tweets declaring that the U.S. would increase the rate of existing and impending tariffs on Chinese goods in response to China’s earlier announcement that it was planning to retaliate against earlier U.S. tariffs. Trump’s Friday warning reflected the possibility of a long trade war, Mnuchin said. Kudlow echoed the point, while emphasizing that the president wasn’t currently issuing such an order. “There’s no emergency powers being invoked right now,” Kudlow said. “Ultimately, we do have such authority, but it is not going to be exercised presently. What he is suggesting to American businesses — and it’s something he has said to many companies, in many different forms, on many different occasions — you ought to think about--to the companies — you ought to think about moving your operations and your supply chains away from China.” Trade experts have previously questioned the president’s authority to impose tariffs under IEEPA, which has been used primarily to sanction countries in national security threats, such as Iran during the hostage crisis in 1979-1981. “I’m not saying it’s an easy case to make, but I don’t think it’s laughable,” said Raj Bhala, a specialist in international trade law at the University of Kansas. If the president did invoke IEEPA, he would have to craft a remedy that’s proportional to the threat, Bhala said. Thus, a complete ban on doing business in China probably wouldn’t stand but restrictions on companies dealing with sensitive intellectual property might, he said. The Information Technology Industry Council, which represents companies such as Amazon.com Inc. and Facebook Inc., responded Saturday with alarm about the prospect of invoking the law. In Trump’s announcement Friday of another wave of higher tariffs, he said existing 25% tariffs on some $250 billion in imports from China would rise to 30% come Oct. 1, the 70th anniversary of the founding of the People’s Republic of China. Planned 10% tariffs on a further $300 billion in Chinese goods will be taxed at 15% instead of 10% starting with the first tranche on Sept. 1. Bloomberg said that China is “seriously making” preparations for relations with the U.S. to deteriorate, according to Global Times’ editor-in-chief Hu Xijin. The Global Times is a Chinese tabloid run by the People’s Daily, which is the flagship newspaper of the Communist Party. Hu has said the paper voices opinions that official sources can’t. So, we will see. This increase in trade tensions with China, especially if it continues to worsen, seems to imply a diminishing chance of a new China trade deal and a growing need to cultivate markets elsewhere, as Mnuchin said. The recent especially tough talk all around is not good news for ag producers and suggests that the negotiations should be watched more closely than ever as they proceed, Washington Insider believes.

| Rural Advocate News | Tuesday August 27, 2019 |


USDA Food Price Forecasts Hold Mostly Steady USDA made few changes to its food price forecasts for 2019 and 2020, keeping the overall food price inflation outlook for both years at 1.5% to 2.5%. They also still see food away from home (restaurant) prices rising two percent to three percent for both years and grocery store food at home) costs are seen rising 0.5% to 1.5% both in 2019 and 2020. The grocery price increase outlook remains well below the 20-year average and comes after prices at the store rose just 0.4% compared with 2017 when they declined 0.2%. Compared to their prior outlooks, USDA edged down expectations in 2019 for poultry, fresh fruits and cereals and bakery products. While food prices are currently forecast to rise more than the increases for 2018, grocery store costs in particular remain below trend.

| Rural Advocate News | Tuesday August 27, 2019 |


Rescinding Prior Small Refiner Exemptions Now Not Expected President Donald Trump and Cabinet officials decided to retain the biofuel blending waivers granted to small refineries but take steps to make up for lost biofuel volumes, according to contacts. The plan under development would encourage the use of gasoline that contains 15% ethanol and would increase by 500 million gallons the amount of conventional renewable fuels that have to be used in mandates, presumably for 2020. A separate quota for biodiesel, typically made from soybeans, would get a 250 million gallon increase for 2021. Additionally, the administration will enhance a program meant to expand U.S. fueling infrastructure and get more ethanol into the system. EPA will adopt a USDA assessment of the greenhouse gas emissions associated with renewable fuel and will expand environmental credits encouraging automakers to produce “flex-fuel” vehicles that can run on high-ethanol gasoline. However, details could still change as the plan has not yet been finalized.

| Rural Advocate News | Tuesday August 27, 2019 |


Tuesday Watch List Markets The Case-Shiller Home Index and the Consumer Confidence Index will be out. DTN will also be watching for any news on the renewal of U.S.-China trade talks and more talk of a U.S.-Japan trade deal alluded to on Monday. Weather Light rain or showers may linger in the eastern and southeastern Midwest region early Tuesday. Showers, a few thundershowers and some rain in the southeast U.S., through the southern Delta and over the Southern Plains. Light rain or showers also for the eastern part of the Canadian Prairies and the northern part of Minnesota. Drier elsewhere in key U.S. and Canada growing areas Tuesday. Filling crops will benefit from any late-August shower activity. However, development will slow with below-normal temperatures, especially through the Northern and central Plains and western Midwest regions. Tropical depression 6 has formed well southeast of North Carolina in the western Atlantic. This system is expected to remain off shore of the U.S. East Coast.

| Rural Advocate News | Monday August 26, 2019 |


U.S.-Japan Reach Trade Agreement The United States and Japan reached an agreement over the weekend on an agriculture-related trade deal. The agreement, according to President Trump, will lower tariffs on U.S. agricultural goods, although specific details have not been announced. President Trump during a news conference on the sidelines of the G7 Summit in France, says the U.S. and Japan hope to finalize the agreement next month. The agreement is expected to increase U.S. access to Japan for beef, pork, wheat, dairy and ethanol. Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue says the agreement closes tariff gaps and allows the U.S. to compete on a level playing field in Japan. Perdue says, “We will be able to sell more to the Japanese markets.” Agriculture groups welcomed the agreement, as the U.S. Meat Export Federation says, “favorable access to Japan is a major win, not only for the U.S. red meat industry but for all of U.S. agriculture.” American Farm Bureau Federation President Zippy Duvall stated, “This is much-needed good news on the agricultural trade front.” ********************************************************************************************** Pro Farmer's National Corn and Soybean Crop Estimates Pro Farmer Friday released its crop estimates from the Pro Farmer Midwest Crop Tour. For corn, Pro Farmer estimates a 13.2 to 14.4 billion bushel crop in 2019, with an average yield of 163.3 bushels per acre. For soybeans, Pro Farmer estimates a 3.49 billion bushel crop, with a yield of 46.1 bushels per acre. Pro Farmer lowered corn harvested acreage 217,000 acres from USDA’s August estimate. The national estimates reflect Pro Farmer’s view on production and yields. They take into account data gathered during the Pro Farmer Crop Tour and other factors, such as crop maturity, acreage adjustments, historical differences in tour data versus USDA’s final yields, and areas outside those sampled on Crop Tour. Find state-by-state results and analysis at www.ProFarmer.com ********************************************************************************************** China Purchases U.S. Soybeans Despite Boycott The National Review Dot Com says China bought a small amount of U.S. soybeans last week. The purchase happened in spite of promising to boycott U.S. farm products because of deteriorating trade negotiations with the Trump Administration. Data from the U.S. Department of Agriculture says Beijing agreed to a purchase of 9.589 metric tons of U.S. soybeans for the current marketing year. They also agreed to a buy of 66,000 metric tons for the following year, which starts on September 1. An August 5th statement from the Chinese Commerce Ministry said Chinese companies would be boycotting American farm products as a response to the Trump Administration’s tariffs on Chinese goods. Despite breaking that boycott, China still isn’t purchasing nearly as many American soybeans as it has in the past. China is the world’s largest soybean importer and spent last year giving most of its business to South America. The administration had said it would impose tariffs on another $300 billion in Chinese goods on September 1. However, the White House later said it would delay imposing them until December. ********************************************************************************************** ASA Responds to Further Trade Dispute Escalation from China China has officially announced it will impose an extra five percent tariff on U.S. soybeans starting on September 1. They’ll also add another 10 percent in duties on other major U.S. crops grown by many American soybean farmers. The latest details come after China vowed last week that it will retaliate if the U.S. goes through with its original plan to increase tariffs on Chinese goods on September 1. ASA President Davie Stephens says, “ASA has strongly requested an end to the tariffs on U.S. beans for more than a year. This escalation will affect us not because of the increased tariff on our sales, which have been at a virtual standstill for months, but through time.” He says the longevity of the situation means worsening circumstances for soy growers who still have unsold product from this past season and new crops in the ground this season. Stephens adds that “prospects are narrowing even more now for sales to China, a market that soy growers have valued, nurtured, and respected for many years.” ASA is asking both parties to step up and stop the tariffs and find a resolution that doesn’t target soy growers trapped in the middle. Real people, including Chinese citizens and the American public, along with our soybean growers, are the ones actually feeling the effects of the trade war. ********************************************************************************************** Corn Farmers Push President for More Corn Demand Rural America is feeling the impact of the Trump Administration’s recent granting of 31 small refinery waivers to big oil companies across the country. The waivers are only adding to a list of farmer concerns about markets, trade, and crop conditions. Fifteen ethanol plants have either been shuttered or idled over the past 12 months. One of the most recent plants taken out of production is POET’s Cloverdale facility, with POET specifically citing the most recent waivers as the reason for the decision. As demand for ethanol drops because of the list of waivers, it’s more likely that other plants will follow. A National Corn Growers Association news release says President Trump appears to be reconsidering the actions of the Environmental Protection Agency. The NCGA is currently working with members of the administration and Congress to share solutions to help boost corn demand. Redistributing and accounting for the waived gallons in the upcoming Renewable Volume Obligations (RVO) rulemaking is just one of the steps that the administration can take today to help. NCGA is asking corn farmers to submit comments directly to the EPA asking them to do that. Farmers are losing patience with tariffs and trade negotiations and the NCGA says the president needs to remember his promises to American farmers. ********************************************************************************************** NFU Worried Trade Aid Could Undermine Next Farm Bill National Farmers Union President Roger Johnson says he’s concerned that billions of dollars in trade aid could have a negative impact on the next farm bill. He says the aid monies the Trump Administration is sending to farmers could undermine political support for the next farm bill. Johnson says it’s important to note that the $16 billion in aid promised to farmers this year exceeds total spending on Title 1 farm programs in a year. Politico says it’s a part of sweeping legislation that already has somewhat tenuous support as political power shifts away from rural voters. Congress also relaxed payment limits for the trade aid program, making it easier for millionaires to qualify. Johnson says, “That’s a dangerous thing. I think a lot of urban congressmen and women are going to look at this and say, ‘there was a lot of damage done in my state in this industry or that industry as a result of the trade disruption – none of them got a nickel in trade help.’” Johnson says the last time an administration used the Commodity Credit Corporation to pay aid to farmers, “their hands were immediately slapped.” He points out that Congress immediately put riders on appropriations bills and said administrations won’t do this again. ********************************************************************************************* Whole Foods CEO Says Alt-Meat is “Highly Processed” Whole Foods was the first retailer that carried Beyond Meat’s vegan “chicken strips” back in 2013. However, the CEO of Whole Foods says he can’t endorse any of today’s plant-based meat substitutes as healthy because of their ingredients. CEO John Mackey has been a vegan for more than 20 years. While he didn’t list any specific names, Mackey tells CNBC that the brands currently “taking the world by storm are highly-processed foods,” as shown in their ingredient lists. “I don’t think eating highly-processed foods is healthy,” he says. “I think people thrive on eating whole foods. As for health, I will not endorse that, which is about as big of a criticism that I’ll do in public.” Mackey believes plant-based alternatives are a more ethical choice and better for the environment. He also tells CNBC in an article that meat substitutes are considered by some as a way for meat-eaters to “re-educate” their palates. Alissa Rumsey is a registered dietitian who told CNBC early this year that, “They aren’t necessarily healthier than beef burgers. They’re totally fine to eat, but there’s no need to replace your beef burger if you don’t enjoy these.” ********************************************************************************************** Federal Court Sends Water Rule Back to EPA A federal court in Georgia says the 2015 Waters of the United States rule is unlawful under the Clean Water Act, due to its “vast expansion of jurisdiction over water and lands that typically fall within states’ regulatory authority.” The federal court for the Southern District of Georgia found that the agency overstepped both the Clean Water Act and the Administrative Procedure Act. The APA lays out the basic rules on how agencies may propose and establish federal regulations. The Georgia court kept a preliminary injunction in place that prevents the rule from becoming law in 11 states involved with the lawsuit while the Environmental Protection Agency finalizes its repeal and replacement of the Obama-era 2015 rule. The American Farm Bureau Federation says the ruling wasn’t just a victory for the plaintiff states, but also a broad coalition of more than a dozen private-sector groups. “The court ruling is a clear affirmation of exactly what we have been saying for the past five years,” says AFBF General Counsel Ellen Steen. “The EPA badly misread Supreme Court precedent and encroached on the traditional powers of the states. They simply ignored the basic principles of the Administrative Procedure Act when issuing this unlawful regulation.”

| Rural Advocate News | Monday August 26, 2019 |


Washington Insider: White House Announces US-Japan Agreement in Principle Bloomberg is reporting this week that the US and Japan have agreed in principle on a trade deal which will slash Japanese tariffs on U.S. beef, pork and other ag products — but will continue to impose tariffs on Japan’s auto exports. President Trump announced the deal Sunday and said Japan also would commit to buy large quantities of U.S. wheat and corn. Bloomberg opined that “Japanese officials may consider that a good deal if they can elicit a promise in return that its automakers will be shielded from threats of more painful tariffs in the future.” The U.S. President and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe announced the agreement in Biarritz, France at the Group of Seven summit following a bilateral meeting earlier in the day. “We’ve agreed in principle,” the President said. “We’ve agreed to every point.” He also referred to a “massive” purchase of wheat and a “very, very large order of corn” that he said would happen quickly. Abe said only that agricultural product purchases, which would be conducted by the private sector, were a possibility. Bloomberg said that Japanese officials had been “spooked by threats of punitive tariffs on Japanese autos and agreed last September to start bilateral trade talks with the U.S.” President Trump has in turn come under pressure from U.S. beef and pork farmers, reeling from the trade war with China, “who have also been hobbled by a tariff disadvantage in the Japanese market compared with competitors from signatories of the Trans-Pacific Partnership regional trade deal he rejected.” The countries have reached consensus on “core elements” and are setting a goal to sign a deal at the end of September during United Nations meetings. Abe also noted that “there is still some work to be done by officials.” If we are to see the entry into force of this trade agreement, I’m quite sure that there will be the immense positive impact on both the Japanese as well as American economies, he said. Bloomberg commented that “while the proposed deal may provide Trump with a fillip as he heads into his campaign for re-election, it remains to be seen how it will be received in Japan, where some officials have said the country should not give up its leverage over U.S. farmers without substantial concessions in return.” Japanese trade agreements generally have to be approved by parliament before going into effect. Japanese media reported earlier that the U.S. and Japan had agreed to an outline deal that would lower tariffs on U.S. beef to levels offered to members of the TPP. Japan and the U.S. agreed last year this would be the maximum possible level. U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer also commented on the content of the proposed deal, which he said would open markets to $7 billion of products including ethanol, as well as beef, pork, dairy products and wine. He said U.S. tariffs on some Japanese industrial products would be reduced—"but that these would not include cars.” The farming provisions of the deal won some early praise in the U.S. with the National Pork Producers Council and Senate Agriculture Committee Chairman Pat Roberts among those welcoming a deal they expect “would put U.S. agriculture on an even basis with TPP-member nations.” President Trump had teased the deal throughout the day, saying he was “very close to a major deal with Japan” and that talks had been held over five months. “Frankly, I think what’s happening with China helps with respect to Japan. But it’s a very big deal. It will be one of the biggest deals we’ve ever made with Japan,” he said. So, we will see. The President’s heavy criticism of the U.S. Fed and his suggestions of even tougher tariff levies on future Chinese imports sharply weakened U.S. markets ahead of the G-7 meeting and it remains to be seen how that uncertainty will play out in the days ahead—and how the “agreement in principle” will be received amid all of the ongoing tension. These are fights that should be watched closely by producers as they continue, Washington Insider believes.

| Rural Advocate News | Monday August 26, 2019 |


NFU President Calls MFP Trade Aid 'Dangerous.’ Trade relief payments to farmers via the Trump administration's Market Facilitation Program (MFP) should have been granted by Congress, Roger Johnson, president of the National Farmers Union, told reporters. In July, the Trump administration unveiled a second aid package providing $16 billion more in federal aid for agriculture – including $14.5 billion in payments to farmers – following an 2018 trade mitigation program totaling $12 billion in aid. But rather than basing funds on crop type, MFP 2 sets a per-county rate based on the blend of crops grown in the area, with payments ranging from $15 to $150 an acre, which critics say will cause vast disparities in aid. “It would have made more sense for the money to come through Congress,” Johnson said during a media roundtable in Washington. He said the action is a “dangerous thing USDA did,” expressing concern it could have on the next U.S. farm bill. The group issued a statement when USDA detailed the MFP 2 effort, expressing disappointment that the agency did not include any incentives to reduce production. Johnson said Trump's "strategy of constant escalation and antagonism" has "just made things worse." America's family farmers and ranchers "cannot withstand this kind of pressure much longer,” he observed. Despite NFU’s call, no limitations on production are expected to be implemented.

| Rural Advocate News | Monday August 26, 2019 |


USDA Official: China Far Short of Soybean Purchase Pledge China has purchased about only half the U.S. soybeans it pledged to buy earlier this year, a USDA official said on Thursday, after a small sale was reported in the weekly sales recap by the agency. USDA Undersecretary for Trade Ted McKinney told Reuters that Beijing was a long way from doing that. "Very publicly in the Oval Office, they made commitments for 20 million metric tons of purchases, and only about 9 or 10 (million tonnes) have been shipped and accepted,” McKinney said on the sidelines of a conference in Chicago, where he later shook hands with a delegation of Chinese buyers. China's Commerce Ministry said on August 5 that Chinese companies had stopped buying U.S. farm products and that it could impose additional tariffs on them, a move that targets rural states that supported Trump in the 2016 election.

| Rural Advocate News | Monday August 26, 2019 |


Monday Watch List Markets After Friday's new tariff news, traders will be looking any trade-related news or comments this week. Weather remains important with row crops still developing and spring wheat being harvested. USDA's weekly report of grain export inspections is due out at 10 a.m. CDT, followed by Crop Progress at 3 p.m. Weather Rain, showers and thunderstorms will occur Monday from the northeast and east-central Plains through the Midwest, the north and west Delta and also in the southeast U.S. areas. Rain through the central Midwest area improves soil moisture for filling summer crops. Runoff from recent heavy rainfall in parts of Nebraska and Kansas will cause flooding of small creeks and streams, country roads, farmland and other low-lying spots. Cooler weather returning to the Canadian Prairies, the Northern Plains and the Midwest regions will slow development of already delayed crops. Many crops are vulnerable to damage from an early or even an on-time fall freeze.

| Rural Advocate News | Friday August 23, 2019 |


USDA Mailing Trade Aid Checks Farmers are seeing payments from the first round of the latest trade aid in the mailbox. Farm Service Agency director Richard Fordyce says the first payments are being mailed out now, and farmers are reporting receiving the checks. Round one of the three potential payments is 50 percent of the overall amount farmers may receive. USDA expects up to $14.5 billion of payments will be sent to farmers, pending on the trade negotiation progress. Another 25 percent of the total would go out later this fall, if the Department of Agriculture deems the payments necessary. The final round, if needed, is planned for some time around January. The payments are meant to offset the losses stemmed from the Trump trade agenda and trade war with China. Payments range from $15 to $150 per acre, depending on location. Payments are also available for dairy and hog producers, under certain reporting parameters. This is the second time the Trump administration has used the Market Facilitation Program since the trade war with China began. ************************************************************************************* CBO: Trade War to Slow Economic Growth The bipartisan Congressional Budget Office says the trade war will slow economic growth, adding more fears of a possible recession. The CBO says tariffs, which reduce U.S. gross domestic product through higher prices, reduces consumer purchasing power. The report predicts the economy will grow at 1.8 percent per year over the next decade, below historical average growth rates. Agriculture has already seen the impact of tariffs stemming from the trade war. Agricultural sales to China dropped more than 50 percent since the trade war began, and China recently announced it would no longer buy U.S. ag products. However, a range of developments, such as unexpected changes in international conditions, could make economic outcomes differ significantly. For example, if new trade agreements lowered trade barriers, economic growth could be faster than projected. Conversely, if trade barriers rose higher, domestic investment and output could be slower than projected. Previous private firm reports have suggested the U.S. will enter a recession within the next year if the trade war escalates. ************************************************************************************* Canada-China Relations Strain over Politics, Trade While the U.S. continues its trade war negotiations with China, Canada's relations with China are straining, as well. Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau says Canada' won't back down' to various disputes with China. Meanwhile, China, which has made a similar warning to the U.S., tells Canada comments regarding the unrest in Hong Kong are not welcome. Specifically, China says, "Hong Kong affairs are purely China's internal affairs." China hopes Canada can "reflect on its wrongdoing," regarding Hong Kong and other issues, including those that now impact agricultural trade. China has detained two Canadian citizens and halted imports of canola seed and meat products from Canada. The move was in response to Vancouver police detaining a senior Huawei (Wah-Way) executive on a U.S. arrest warrant in December. China imported 4.8 million metric tons of Canadian canola in 2018, and 1.1 million metric tons of canola oil, supporting more than 16,000 Canadian jobs. China is typically the largest market for Canadian canola, and Canada is the world's largest producer of canola. ************************************************************************************* U.S. Wheat: Trade Deal with Japan Would Ensure Competitiveness U.S. Wheat Associates says a trade deal with Japan would allow U.S. wheat to fairly compete with wheat from other nations exported to Japan. Currently, under the Comprehensive and Progressive Trans-Pacific Partnership, Japan’s effective tariffs on Canadian and Australian wheat imports are discounted and will continue being discounted to the tariff on U.S. wheat imports. Japanese flour mills prefer and choose to source 50 percent of their annual needs, almost three million metric tons per year on average, of wheat from the United States. However, the CPTPP will grant preferential access to Canada and Australia by reducing the effective tariff on their wheat, eventually a reduction of about $70 per metric ton, or 45 percent below the current tariff on U.S. wheat. A bilateral trade agreement with Japan, which the Trump administration is working on, could reduce the tariff level on U.S. wheat, according to the organization. The U.S. lost the opportunity to level tariffs with other markets when the U.S. left the then-called Trans-Pacific Partnership. ************************************************************************************* Soy Groups Seek Meeting with Trump on Waivers The National Biodiesel Board and American Soybean Association have requested a meeting with President Donald Trump to discuss small refinery exemptions. In a letter to the President, NBB CEO Donnell Rehagen (don-NELL Ray-HAY-gen) and ASA President Davie Stephens detail the damage the waivers have dealt the biofuels industry and farmers. The letter, noting the conditions in farm country, says that while many fear an economic recession within the next year, farmers are “already facing a severe economic downturn.” The two groups conclude the letter with a request to meet with the President: "We would appreciate an opportunity to discuss how the administration can repair the uncertainty.” President Trump held a meeting earlier this week to find ways to smooth over farmer anger, specifically related to the small refinery waivers. Biodiesel and ethanol groups start with asking for a reallocation of waived volumes, now estimated at more than four billion gallons. More than 15 ethanol plants have shut down, blaming the demand destruction caused by the waivers. ************************************************************************************* Senators Request USDA IT Review from GOA As farmers report information technology problems with Department of Agriculture programs, two farm-state senators are asking the Government Accountability Office to investigate. Senate Democrats Debbie Stabenow and Gary Peters, both of Michigan, penned a letter to the GAO this week seeking the review. In 2017, Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue announced a major IT modernization at USDA to ensure better customer service to America’s farmers and ranchers. Part of the modernization was the combination of and modernization of the IT systems of three agencies which impact farmers and ranchers most directly. The letter states, “we are particularly interested in whether the changes have improved, interfered with, or added risks for the successful and timely implementation of the 2018 Farm Bill.” Michigan dairy farmers have reported to the Senators that IT problems made signing up for the new Dairy Margin Coverage program a challenge. Some farmers even report enrollment took multiple trips to Farm Service Agency offices complete because of IT challenges.

| Rural Advocate News | Friday August 23, 2019 |


Washington Insider: Trade Fight’s North Dakota Impacts Bloomberg is reporting this week that as economic anxiety has intensified nationwide, the ag industry in North Dakota – on the far northwestern edge of the U.S. farm belt but relatively close to Pacific ports – is reflecting on its earlier economic decisions to invest millions on grain storage and rail-loading infrastructure while boosting plantings by five-fold in 20 years. However, now that “the world’s top soybean importer shuns the U.S. market for a second growing season, Dakota farmers are reeling from the loss of the customer they spent two decades cultivating.” This experience underscores the uneven impact of the U.S.-China trade war across the U.S., Bloomberg says. Although Chinese tariffs target many heartland states that, like North Dakota, supported President Trump’s 2016 election, those further south and east are better able to shift surplus soybeans to other markets such as Mexico and Europe. They also have more processing plants to produce soymeal, along with larger livestock and poultry industries to consume it, Bloomberg thinks. For North Dakota, losing China – the buyer of about 70% of the state’s soybeans – has destroyed a staple source of income. Agriculture is North Dakota’s largest industry and it “probably has taken a bigger hit than anybody else from the trade situation with China,” Jim Sutter, CEO of the U.S. Soybean Export Council, said. China shut the door to U.S. agricultural purchases on Aug. 5 after the administration intensified the conflict with threats of additional tariffs on $300 billion in Chinese imports, some as soon as Sept. 1. In addition, Bloomberg says that some farmers who were relying on the administration’s $28 billion in farm aid payments to compensate them for trade war losses have been disappointed with new payment rates for counties in North Dakota, which are below those for some southern states that rely much less on exports to China. The rates were determined by USDA who said it will provide higher rates for states with higher “level of exposure” to tariffs than North Dakota – because they also depend on crops, such as cotton and sorghum which also face Chinese tariffs.” This spring’s soy crop was planted at a time when the White House was talking up a “nearly finished trade deal with China” that collapsed in May weakening prices, Bloomberg notes. Vanessa Kummer farms in Colfax, N.D., and has yet to sell a single soybean from this year’s harvest because of low prices. Normally, the farm would have sold 50% to 75% of the upcoming harvest. In addition, she fears the U.S.-China soy trade is now “permanently damaged” as China shifts its purchases to Brazil, uses less soy in animal feed and consumes less pork as African swine fever kills of millions of the nation’s pigs. Options for North Dakota farmers are limited. U.S. wheat has been losing export market share for years. Demand for specialty crops such as peas and lentils, which grow well in the northern U.S., has been dampened by retaliatory tariffs imposed by India, a major importer of both products. North Dakota’s farmers did not set out to become so dependent on a single buyer of one crop, Bloomberg says. But with wheat profits shrinking and Chinese demand for soy growing, soybeans increasingly seemed like the obvious choice. Rail companies expanded capacity to open up a West Coast corridor and Pacific Northwest seaports expanded to handle more exports to China. Seed companies offered new varieties that thrive in the state’s colder climate and shorter growing season. A $200 million crop two decades ago blossomed into a $2 billion crop, topping the value of wheat, once North Dakota’s top crop. The number of high speed shuttle train loading terminals tripled with investments totaling at least $800 million. But now one of those facilities, CHS Dakota Plains Ag elevator in Kindred, North Dakota, has gone three or four months without loading a soybean train this year, said Doug Lingen, a grain merchant there. Normally the elevator would load at least one train a month with beans bound for the Pacific Northwest. The weakened demand has soybean prices in North Dakota trading at an historic discount to the U.S. average, and farmers are putting investments on hold. Justin Sherlock, who grows corn, soybeans and other crops near Dazey, North Dakota, had been planning to invest $100,000 to $150,000 in a grain drier this year – but now has shelved those plans. One reason is the low level of government aid in his county – now expected to be $55 per acre, well below the maximum $150 rate offered in 22 counties nationwide. Sherlock called the latest announcement “disappointing.” “I’m just going to defer all my investment,” he said, “and try to limp along for a few years.” So, we will see. It is clear that the farm economy is feeling economic pressure from several directions including lost overseas sales. Reports from the farm fair circuits indicate that there is growing criticism from producers as a result – a trend producers should watch closely through the fall, Washington Insider believes.

| Rural Advocate News | Friday August 23, 2019 |


China Signals Any New Tariffs By US Will Bring Retaliatory Response Even though the U.S. has delayed a portion of the 10 percent tariffs set to go into effect September 1, China says any new tariffs put in place will bring a response from China. "Despite the U.S. decision to delay tariffs on some Chinese goods .... if the United States rides roughshod over China's opposition and impose any new tariffs, China will be forced to adopt retaliatory actions,” Ministry of Commerce spokesman Gao Feng told a news briefing. Gao would not say what response China would offer if the U.S. tariffs were put in place. He noted that the trade war is bad for the U.S. and China and would have a recessionary impact on the global economy. He also observed that U.S. and Chinese trade teams have been keeping in contact, but did not offer any guidance as the nature of those talks. As for President Donald Trump’s statement that the U.S. would not intervene in the Hong Kong situation, Gao said, "I hope U.S. side can stick to its words.” Meanwhile, China’s Foreign Ministry also weighed in, calling on the U.S. to meet China “halfway” in the trade situation. "We hope the United States will meet China halfway," said Foreign Ministry spokesman Geng Shuang. He said there is a hope that the two sides can “work out a resolution that is acceptable to both sides on the basis of mutual respect and equal treatment."

| Rural Advocate News | Friday August 23, 2019 |


Initial Round of MFP 2 Payments On Their Way USDA has started making the initial payments to farmers under the Market Facilitation Program 2 (MFP 2). "The process began today (August 21) for payments for producers that have approved applications so producers should be seeing that first 50% tranche of those payments very soon," Fordyce told USDA Radio. Second and third tranche payments accounting for 25% each of the total MFP payment will be sent out conditioned on continued trade challenges. However, there are reports that glitches in USDA/FSA software regarding some components of the program will mean some producers will not get their payouts until September. Looking forward, if trade conditions fail to improve by late fall, the second MFP payments will be made, likely in November, while a third would come "probably in January at some point" if the trade difficulties persist, Fordyce said. Those are payment timelines that USDA has signaled in public filings on the MFP 2 payments and in press releases.

| Rural Advocate News | Friday August 23, 2019 |


Friday Watch List Markets Weather will continue to be monitored Friday with beneficial rains in the seven-day forecast for much of the Midwest. The only two reports on the docket are U.S. new home sales at 9 a.m. CDT and USDA's monthly cattle-on-feed report at 2 p.m. Weather Showers and thunderstorms will extend from the southeastern Plains east to the mid-Atlantic coast Friday. Heavy amounts and flash flooding are likely in the southeastern Plains. We'll also see light rain in the northwest Plains and Canadian Prairies. Seasonal to below-normal temperatures in northern and central areas slow crop development compared with the average pace.

| Rural Advocate News | Thursday August 22, 2019 |


China Hopeful U.S. Will Meet Halfway in Trade Talks China is hopeful the U.S. will meet them “halfway” in trade negotiations. In a daily news conference, a Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson expressed hope the two sides could “find a mutually-acceptable solution” through trade negotiations. China maintains that economic cooperation between China and the U.S. is “win-win in nature.” China and the U.S. are each other’s top trading partner and represent “one of the world's most important bilateral relationships.” Trade experts don’t think the U.S. sale of fighter jets to Taiwan will interfere with the talks. However, the spokesperson from China did request the U.S. “immediately cancel” the planned sales. Otherwise, “the U.S. will have to bear all the consequences.” President Trump on Twitter said the U.S. is “doing great” on trade talks with China and others, as part of a tirade against the U.S. Federal Reserve Bank. Negotiators are set to meet early next month in Washington. U.S. farm groups continue to urge a quick resolution to the trade war, as China has halted buying U.S. ag products. ************************************************************************************* USDA Pulls Employees from Crop Tour Following Threat Farmer angst spread to Pro Farmer’s Midwest Crop Tour Wednesday. The Department of Agriculture pulled all personnel from the tour after an angry farmer allegedly threatened a USDA employee over the phone. Pro Farmer says the threat reported on the western leg of the tour was not from a tour scout or farmer that attended a crop tour meeting. The threat was reported to local authorities, and Pro Farmer announced additional security measures for the remainder of the event. Officials did not announce the nature of the threat, or who was threatened. Federal Protective Services are investigating the incident. Compounding stress in farm country continues to grow as farmers face depressed prices, trade issues and a challenging growing season, along with farmers questioning USDA data. Pro Farmer recognized that "it's clearly a stressful time right now," but that stress does not justify making threats to federal employees, or anyone on crop tour. The tour concludes Thursday night in Rochester, Minnesota, and final estimates will be released Friday. ************************************************************************************* Ethanol Industry Counters EPA “Zero Evidence” Claim The Environmental Protection Agency says small refinery waivers have no impact on ethanol producers. However, the biofuels industry disagrees. EPA this week claimed, "there is zero evidence" the waivers have a negative impact on domestic ethanol producers. Yet, POET, the largest U.S. ethanol producer, just announced it will idle production at its facility in Cloverdale, Indiana. The Renewable Fuels Association said last week that 13 ethanol plants have been closed, three permanently, because of the waivers. POET Chairman and CEO Jeff Broin says through the waivers, EPA “has robbed rural America, and it’s time for farmers across the Heartland to fight for their future.” Growth Energy CEO Emily Skor says Closures in Iowa, Illinois, Kansas, Minnesota, Florida, Virginia, Texas, Pennsylvania, Missouri and Nebraska “are only the beginning.” Growth Energy points out that dozens of biofuel plants have cut production, and ethanol consumption fell for the first time in 20 years because of the small refinery waivers being issued to now 42 of the nation’s 48 small refineries. ************************************************************************************* EPA Seeks Public Comment on Pesticide Applications for Hemp The Environmental Protection Agency is seeking comments on ten pesticide applications to expand their use on hemp. The requests are the result of the December 2018 Farm Bill provisions that removed hemp from the Controlled Substances Act, legalizing hemp for commercial use and production. EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler says the comment period is the next step toward registering crop protection tools for hemp in time for use during the 2020 application and growing seasons. Hemp farmers told the Trump administration and Congress earlier this year pesticide availability is one the biggest challenges in hemp production. The ten products are existing insecticides and fungicides from Agro Logistic Systems, Marrone Bio Innovations and Hawthorne Hydroponics. Comments are due 30 days after the notice publishes in the Federal Register, expected in the coming days. Once public comments are received, EPA anticipates deciding about the possible use of the specified products on hemp before the end of 2019 to help growers make informed purchasing choices for the upcoming growing season. ************************************************************************************* U.S., Mexico, Agree to New Tomato Suspension Agreement The Department of Commerce has announced a new draft agreement between the U.S. and Mexico on fresh tomato trade. Mexico and the U.S. have a preliminary agreement in place to suspend the ongoing anti-dumping investigation of fresh tomatoes from Mexico. The Commerce Department says the agreement will protect U.S. tomatoes from unfair trade practices. For years, the U.S. has disputed the roughly $2 billion worth of tomatoes that are imported from Mexico annually. The disputes led the Commerce Department to terminate an earlier suspension agreement. The U.S. also continued an investigation that could have led to duties of 25 percent for most Mexican tomato producers. The draft includes a brand-new inspection mechanism to prevent the importation of low-quality, poor-condition tomatoes from Mexico. The draft agreement also allows the Commerce Department to audit up to 80 Mexican tomato producers per quarter. The statute requires a 30-day notice and comment period. United Fresh says the draft agreement “will be beneficial for the entire distribution chain, most importantly growers and consumers.” ************************************************************************************* USDA Reports Farm Computer Ownership and Usage The Department of Agriculture says computer ownership and usage among farmers increased over the last two years. The Farm Computer Usage and Ownership report released last week updated numbers from 2017, as the report is compiled during odd-numbered years and released in August. The new data shows 75 percent of farms reported having access to the internet, with 73 percent of farms having access to a desktop or laptop. Over half of the farms in the United States used a smartphone or tablet to conduct farm business, compared to 44 percent in 2017. In 2019, 26 percent of farms used satellite and 22 percent of farms used a Digital Subscriber Line, known as DSL, to access the internet. Since 2017, Satellite and DSL continue to be the most popular choices that United States farms use to access the internet. The 2019 computer usage estimates are based on responses from more than 20,000 agricultural operations, and represent all sizes and types of farms.

| Rural Advocate News | Thursday August 22, 2019 |


Washington Insider: Ag Policy Fight in Oval Office Bloomberg is reporting this week that a “farm state uproar” reached the Oval office on Monday — but that the difficulty was not the “get tough” trade policies that have been hammering ag markets this year, but rather concerned ethanol fuel mandates. The report said that the president not only presided over the dustup but urged officials to soften the impact of recent policy moves that angered Midwestern farm states critical to his re-election, especially the EPA’s Aug. 9 decision to give 31 refineries exemptions from annual biofuel-blending requirements. The report quoted Iowa Senator Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, as asserting that the administration’s biofuel policy had “screwed” farmers. Trump suggested rescinding some of the newly granted waivers during the Monday meeting, Bloomberg said, but was told the waivers may not be reversible. In response, officials offered other ideas to mitigate the political impact in Iowa, a state he carried in 2016 and needs again in 2020 to win. Monday’s back-and-forth illustrates an intensifying clash over U.S. biofuel policy that pits two of Trump’s top political constituencies — farmers and oil interests — against each other, Bloomberg said. The administration is divided, with USDA favoring farmers and the EPA insisting the law compels them to waive the requirement for refineries facing economic harm. The Monday meeting was organized to discuss trade with China but quickly turned into a fuels discussion because the U.S. ambassador to China, former Iowa Governor Terry Branstad, had just visited the state and was concerned about “the harm” he believed the waivers will cause rural America. The meeting was lively and lasted roughly two hours, with at least one follow-up call. The discussion included broad policy changes designed to mollify farm-state critics and expand the market for corn-based ethanol. At one point, Branstad even questioned whether the U.S. could mandate that auto companies make all vehicles capable of running on a variety of fuels to allow consumers to choose what to use, an idea that was quickly rebuffed after warnings that it would provoke a big fight with automakers. Among the other options discussed: fuel policy changes designed to make E15 — gasoline that contains 15% ethanol — the new nationwide standard, replacing the 10% variety that is now commonplace. The EPA in May lifted restrictions on E15 gasoline that blocked widespread summertime sales, but fewer than 2,000 stations offer that blend. Flex-fuel vehicles are capable of using both but limited consumer interest has discouraged widespread adoption. It is not clear that any of Monday’s ideas will materialize. Since 2017 the administration has tried to broker a compromise on biofuel policy between warring ethanol and oil industry interests, but the design of the U.S. Renewable Fuel Standard makes it nearly impossible to satisfy both stakeholders simultaneously. And many of the ideas advanced Monday would require congressional action or lengthy federal rulemaking; some even conflict with regulatory changes already under way. Moreover, some of the proposals would benefit ethanol but do little to address concerns by U.S. biodiesel makers that use soybean oil as a feedstock and whose footprint extends beyond the corn belt. The White House discussions center around a 14-year-old federal law that dictates oil refineries use biofuel to satisfy annual quotas set by the EPA. The statute authorizes the EPA to issue exemptions for small refineries facing a “disproportionate economic hardship,” but biofuel proponents argue the administration has handed out the waivers too freely and is undermining domestic demand for the products. The EPA decided to grant 31 exemptions from 2018 biofuel-blending quotas — and deny six other applications — following months of internal deliberations and after the President intervened to authorize the move. The exemptions have caused anger throughout the Midwest, where biofuel producers, their political allies and farmers view the waivers as curbing demand for their products, amid a trade war with China that has already diminished sales. Democratic candidates for the White House also have seized on the issue. EPA officials and oil industry advocates push back against assertions that refinery exemptions are eroding demand for ethanol and point to the fact that the administration has overseen year-over-year increases in domestic fuel ethanol production to the highest level in history and that the U.S. exported a record volume of ethanol in 2018 for the second consecutive year. The EPA said its decisions take into account direction from Congress, recommendations from the Department of Energy and recent court decisions that rapped the agency for denying some refinery waivers. Still, participants in Monday’s meeting are highlighting the backlash in Iowa and other midwestern states, illustrating the political concern about alienating crucial swing voters. Oil industry allies, including Senator Ted Cruz, R-Texas, have made the opposite pitch during earlier administration discussions on the issue, arguing that support from refinery workers in Pennsylvania and other battleground states is also at risk if the president strengthens U.S. biofuel mandates. So, we will see. Ethanol and biodiesel mandates have always been controversial in some quarters and those fights intensify sharply during elections — especially when other markets have already been diminished by other administration policies. These are economic battles producers should watch closely as they emerge, Washington Insider believes.

| Rural Advocate News | Thursday August 22, 2019 |


US, Mexico Reach Deal on Tomatoes Mexican tomato producers and the U.S. government have reached agreement on tomato trade in a deal that will avoid an antidumping investigation, according to Mexican Economy Minister Graciela Marquez. While 92% of Mexican tomatoes coming into the U.S. will be inspected at the border – a “controversial proposal,” according to a statement from several Mexican agricultural organizations – the deal would also raise the reference price of specialty tomatoes and an increase in the price of organic tomatoes that would amount to a 40% increase compared with conventional tomatoes. The groups releasing the statement included the SPTN tomato producers group. The deal calls for a “sunset review” of the agreement by September 2024. Mexico’s Marquez said on social media that the accord was “good news” that will keep the U.S. market open to Mexican tomatoes, noting the deal was reached just before midnight August 20. That will allow for a 30-day comment period before a September 19 deadline from the U.S. Department of Commerce to complete its antidumping investigation. Resolution of the issue could help ease concerns about vegetable imports from Mexico that some lawmakers have cited and it could help build further support for the U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA) in Congress.

| Rural Advocate News | Thursday August 22, 2019 |


Small Refiner Exemptions Are The Issue That Won’t Die Pressure continues on the Trump administration over the issue of small refiner exemptions (SREs) under the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS). The SREs have taken “a devastating toll on rural families facing one of the toughest years on record,” said Iowa Governor Kim Reynolds and Iowa Agriculture Secretary Mike Naig in letter to EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler. EPA should be more transparent in issuing waivers and “immediately reallocate the gallons that have been lost due to the waivers that have already been granted,” Reynolds and Naig said in their letter. Meanwhile, biodiesel advocates are seeking to ensure anything the Trump administration does to mitigate damage does not ignore biodiesel. The National Biodiesel Board and American Soybean Association asked President Trump for a meeting on the issue, stressing in a letter that refinery exemptions disproportionately affect biodiesel and renewable diesel producers because of the design of the RFS. The Iowa Soybean Association said in a separate letter the actions to help ethanol really have not benefitted biodiesel.

| Rural Advocate News | Thursday August 22, 2019 |


Thursday Watch List Markets Reports begin rolling out at 7:30 a.m. CDT with USDA's grain export sales and the Labor Department's weekly jobless claims. The U.S. Drought Monitor is updated at the same time and should show some moisture improvement in the Midwest. An index of U.S. leading indicators is due out at 9 a.m. CDT, followed by U.S. natural gas inventory at 9:30 a.m. At 2 p.m. CDT, USDA posts its monthly cold storage report. Weather Moderate to heavy rain is in store for the Southern Plains and southeastern Midwest Thursday. Some flash flooding is likely. Other crop areas will be dry.

| Rural Advocate News | Wednesday August 21, 2019 |


Trump Allegedly Seeks to Lesson Blow from EPA Waivers President Donald Trump this week asked cabinet members to appease farmers angry over small refinery waivers. Following a rash of blowback from ethanol and commodity groups, Trump held a meeting to find a solution. Representatives from the Departments of Energy and Agriculture, along with the Environmental Protection Agency attended a two-hour meeting Monday on the subject, according to Reuters. However, no clear action has been identified so far. The EPA has received 42 requests for small-refiner exemptions for 2018, while there are only 48 classified small refineries in the United States. The waivers exempt refineries from provisions in the Renewable Fuel Standard. Farmers argue that reallocating the exempted gallons of biofuel would be a good start in addressing the issue. The National Corn Growers Association says the waived volume now accounts for 4.04 billion ethanol gallons. NCGA President Lynn Chrisp says, “waivers reduce demand for ethanol, lower the value of our crop and undermine the President’s support for America’s farmers.” ************************************************************************************* U.S. Comments on Hong Kong Could Jeopardize Trade Talks Any U.S. attempt to sway China’s dealings with Hong Kong could jeopardize efforts to reach a trade agreement. Communist party leaders in China say, “Events in Hong Kong were the internal affairs of China, and linking them with trade negotiations was a dirty aim," according to the South China Morning Post. The remarks followed Vice President Mike Pence's remarks that the Trump administration would continue to urge Beijing to resolve differences with the protesters peacefully. China officials say the U.S. would "be naive in thinking China would make concessions if they played the Hong Kong card." Further trade talks are planned for early September. However, Hong Kong, and the U.S. selling fighter jets to Taiwan, has brought further political uncertainty to the mix. The talks stalled earlier this year, and China announced it would stop purchasing U.S. ag products this month, following more tariffs announced by President Trump. China was once a $24 billion market for U.S. agriculture, falling to $9 billion last year. ************************************************************************************* U.S. Dairy Seeks Swift Trade Deal with Japan A coalition of U.S. dairy groups is urging the Trump administration to reach a trade agreement with Japan quickly. More than 70 dairy groups and companies sent a letter to Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer and Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue this week asking the administration to finalize a strong trade deal with Japan quickly. The coalition, including the National Milk Producers Federation and U.S. Dairy Export Council, say Japan is an established market with a growing demand for dairy products. The letter states that a robust trade agreement with Japan "will bring a much-needed boost to the economic health of the U.S. dairy industry." The letter says the Japan-EU agreement and the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership have allowed the European Union, New Zealand and Australia to position themselves to take sales from the U.S. dairy industry. The U.S. exported $270 million in dairy products to Japan in 2018. Once the trade deals are fully implemented, the U.S. risks losing $5.4 billion in total export sales. ************************************************************************************* FSA Announces Payment Acceptance of Debit Cards, AHC The Department of Agriculture’s Farm Service Agency is expanding its payment options to now accept debit cards and Automated Clearing House or AHC, debit. The paperless payment options allow FSA customers to pay farm loan payments, measurement service fees, farm program debt repayments and administrative service fees, as well as to purchase aerial maps. Previously, only cash, check, money orders and wires were accepted. By using debit cards and ACH debit, transactions are securely processed from the customer’s bank through Pay.gov, the U.S. Treasury's online payment hub. While traditional collection methods like cash and paper checks will continue, offering the new alternatives will "improve effectiveness and convenience to customers while being more cost-effective." In 2017, the average cost to manually process checks cost USDA more than $4.6 million. The expanded payment options will cut the time employees take processing payments by 75 percent. The announcement, USDA says, marks the beginning of a multi-phased roll-out of new payment options for USDA customers. ************************************************************************************* Elanco to Acquire Bayer Animal Health Elanco Animal Health has entered into a $7.6 billion agreement with Bayer to acquire its animal health business in a transaction valued at $7.6 billion. The transaction, which is subject to regulatory approval, will double Elanco's companion animal business. Bayer CEO Werner Baumann says the acquisition by Elanco will “give rise to a leading competitor in the animal health industry, benefiting customers, employees and shareholders alike." Following the transaction, Elanco will become the second-largest global animal health company. Elanco will finance the transaction through both cash and equity. Bayer will receive $5.3 billion in cash, and $2.2 billion or approximately 68 million Elanco Animal Health common shares. The transaction is expected to close in mid-2020, subject to regulatory approvals and other standard closing conditions. Elanco is a global animal health company that develops products and knowledge services to prevent and treat disease in food animals and pets in more than 90 countries. The company employs more than 5,800 employees. ************************************************************************************* Target Launches Grocery Brand Target this week announced the introduction of Good & Gather, a company-owned food and beverage brand. The flagship brand will offer a wide range of food and beverage products that prioritize taste, quality ingredients and ease, at a great value, according to the company. Good & Gather will be available in stores and online for same-day delivery beginning September 15, 2019. The assortment will include new and trend-forward products such as avocado toast, salad kits and beet hummus alongside everyday staples such as milk, eggs and cheese. By the end of 2020, it will include more than 2,000 products across food and beverage from dairy to produce, ready-made pastas and meats to granola bars and sparkling water. Good & Gather is Target’s largest owned brand launch. Developed by Target’s internal team, the products are made without artificial flavors and sweeteners, synthetic colors and high fructose corn syrup. However, in a news release, Target notes that some products, such as fresh vegetables and eggs, never contained these ingredients.

| Rural Advocate News | Wednesday August 21, 2019 |


Washington Insider: The Huawei Interlude Economic and trade policy have become exceedingly complex these days, especially as the U.S. economy is seen by many as possibly slowing ahead of next year’s elections. One central issue, the New York Times says this week, is how the U.S. treats Huawei, the Chinese telecommunications giant that is seen by many as a potential security threat — and which the administration has moved to ban from U.S. operations. This week, however, the United States announced that it will allow American companies to continue doing business with Huawei for an additional 90 days, Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross said. The announced reason is to give rural telecommunications companies more time to wean themselves from reliance on Huawei supplies of parts and equipment. Many rural telecom firms have been scrambling to figure out how they will replace Huawei equipment since the administration banned the company from U.S. communications networks in May, and have mounted a strong lobbying effort at the White House for more time, the Times said. “As we continue to urge consumers to transition away from Huawei’s products, we recognize that more time is necessary to prevent any disruption,” Ross told the press this week. Although Huawei has been thrust into the middle of the President’s trade fight with China, he has given mixed signals on U.S. policies. After the trade talk breakdown in May, the Commerce Department added the company to a United States “entity list” that effectively banned U.S. firms from buying Chinese technology and products without government approval. But following U.S. company complaints that the ban would be hard to comply with on such short notice, the Commerce Department offered a temporary reprieve in exchange for China’s purchasing more American farm products, but no such agreement emerged. On Monday Secretary Ross said that the administration would extend the reprieve through mid-November. In a sign that the administration is not completely easing pressure on Huawei, the Commerce Department said that it was also adding 46 affiliates of Huawei to the entity list. In a terse statement issued on Monday, Huawei called the addition of the affiliates “politically motivated” and unrelated to national security and said that it was being treated “unjustly.” “These actions violate the basic principles of free market competition,” Huawei said in the statement. “Attempts to suppress Huawei’s business won’t help the United States achieve technological leadership.” President Donald Trump has called the company a national security threat, and the United States has concerns that Huawei could be used to help the Chinese government’s espionage efforts and to disrupt American telecommunications infrastructure in the event of a conflict. “Huawei is a company we may not do business with at all,” Trump said last weekend, and argued that the relief for Huawei comes as trade negotiations between the United States and China remain at an impasse. The President agreed last week to delay some additional tariffs on toys and electronics until December, but the United States is still expected to slap levies on more Chinese imports on Sept. 1. Earlier this month it labeled China a currency manipulator for the first time since 1994. China is expected to unveil plans to retaliate. Despite the continuing tension, President Trump says that he and President Xi Jinping of China are planning to speak and that the two countries would continue to have trade talks. Republicans and Democrats in Congress have been urging President Trump to keep his hard line on Huawei. Lifting the ban outright would probably be met with strong bipartisan disapproval, NYT says. The Trump administration continues to warn that Huawei poses a national security threat — and American officials have been warning allies for months that the United States will stop sharing intelligence if they use Huawei and other Chinese technology to build the core of their fifth-generation, or 5G, networks. There is widespread concern among U.S. firms that Huawei is a security threat but some observers believe that effective safeguards can be designed and implemented, as they are in Britain and several other countries that monitor Huawei activities closely but continue to allow Huawei operations. At this time, the easing of the Huawei ban is seen as an easing of the U.S.-China trade fight and a lessening of the negative economic impacts of that battle. However, so far, positive signs of a let-up in that war have mainly been temporary and so they continue to be issues that producers should watch closely as they emerge, Washington Insider believes.

| Rural Advocate News | Wednesday August 21, 2019 |


VP Pence Pushes on China Trade, USMCA Passage Vice President Mike Pence has warned China that it will be harder to strike a trade deal if it violates Hong Kong’s laws amid the continued protests. "For the United States to make a deal with China, Beijing needs to honor its commitments, beginning with the commitment China made in 1984 to respect the integrity of Hong Kong's laws through the Sino-British joint declaration," Pence said during a speech at the Detroit Economic Club. He also called on Congress to quickly pass the new U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA) after the recess. Pence noted that passage of USMCA would also help bolster the administration’s agenda with Beijing. “Make no mistake about it ... passing the USMCA will strengthen the president’s hand in negotiations with China,” he said.

| Rural Advocate News | Wednesday August 21, 2019 |


Small Refiner Exemption Issue Continues to Erupt The issue of small refiner exemptions (SREs) continues as a focal point in Washington and in farm country. Reuters reported that President Donald Trump “ordered cabinet members on Monday to stem the tide of rising anger in Iowa and other Farm Bill states” over the EPA granting of SREs. The report said Trump’s order came after a two-hour meeting at the White House Monday that involved representatives from USDA, EPA and the Energy Department. EPA last week announced that it had granted 31 SREs of the 40 that had been submitted for the 2018 compliance year at that time, with six rejected and three either withdrawn or declared ineligible. Since then, EPA data now shows two more SRE requests are pending for the 2018 compliance year, bringing the total requested to 42. The announcement last week prompted several lawmakers to criticize the administration’s action which reports indicated were due to Trump’s own orders to EPA to announce the SREs. Senate Finance Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, denounced the action. “They screwed us when they issued 31 waivers compared to less than 10 waivers during all of the Obama years,” Grassley told reporters.

| Rural Advocate News | Wednesday August 21, 2019 |


Wednesday Watch List Markets Midwestern weather continues to capture much of the market's focus after USDA recently said over two-thirds of soybeans were setting pods. A report on U.S. existing home sales will be out at 9:00 a.m. CDT, followed by weekly energy inventories from the U.S. Energy Department at 9:30 a.m. At 1 p.m. CDT, the Federal reserve releases minutes from their latest meeting -- holding possible clues of future interest rates. Weather Moderate to heavy rain is in store for the central Plains and portions of the western Midwest Wednesday. Some flash flooding is possible. Meanwhile, stressful heat will again be featured in the Southern Plains and Delta.

| Rural Advocate News | Tuesday August 20, 2019 |


Tyson Fire Boosting Beef Processor Margins A recent fire at a large Kansas beef processor has boosted margins for other processors. The Tyson Foods facility in Holcomb, Kansas, represents about five percent of the U.S. daily slaughter, or roughly 6,000 head of cattle. The fire has closed the facility indefinitely as Tyson makes repairs. Reuters says the fire spiked margins for packers, such as Tyson, Cargill and JBS USA to $344 per head of cattle slaughtered, up from $153 the week before the fire. The National Cattlemen’s Beef Association responded last week sending letters to federal watchdogs and agencies urging them to assist the market and closely monitor sales. In order to compensate for the loss of capacity at Holcomb, NCBA says major packing plants in Texas, Kansas, Colorado, Nebraska, and Iowa, would need to slaughter 8.2 percent more cattle per week, or run 3.3 more hours per week. Department of Agriculture undersecretary Greg Ibach says that “as the cattle industry adjusts, USDA stands ready to assist our customers however we can.” ************************************************************************************* 17,000 Dairy Farmers Enroll in New Safety Net Nearly 17,000 dairy producers have signed up for the new Dairy Margin Coverage Program. The Department of Agriculture Monday reported the data with a reminder the sign-up period closes September 20. 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. USDA undersecretary Bill Northey calls the enrollment data encouraging but says, "we are hopeful that we will get more folks in the door." To date, more than 60 percent of dairies with established production histories have enrolled in the program. Wisconsin has seen the most participants with more than 4,800 dairy operations, followed by Minnesota, New York, Pennsylvania and Michigan. USDA’s Farm Service Agency began issuing program payments to producers on July 11. Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue at the time called the choice to sign-up a “no-brainer” as the retroactive coverage through January has already assured 2019 payments will exceed the required premiums. ************************************************************************************* Trade Deals Spark More Compensation for Canada Dairy Farmers Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada will provide 1.75 billion to dairy farmers to offset changes to market access in recent trade agreements. Canada is allowing other nations more access to enter the Canadian dairy market as a result of the trade agreements. Through Canada's supply management system, the funds will be distributed to nearly 11,000 dairy farmers. $345 million will be paid in the first year in the form of direct payments and will benefit all dairy producers in proportion to their quota held. The federal government will continue to work with Dairy Farmers of Canada to determine terms and conditions for future years. Dairy Farmers of Canada welcomed the announcement, saying the funds will help mitigate the impact of trade agreements, such as the Canada-European Union Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement, the Comprehensive and Progressive Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement and the U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement. The three agreements are estimated to contribute to an 8.4 percent loss of domestic market access for Canadian dairy farmers. ************************************************************************************* Tariffs, Farm Income, Squeezing Sales for Deere Low farm income, a challenging growing season and the impact of trade tariffs on agriculture have farmers putting off purchases of equipment. The depressed farm economy is part of the factors why Deere &Co. trimmed its earnings forecast for the year to $3.2 billion, from an expected $3.3 billion and a five percent increase in sales. The sales figures are still up four percent from last year. Deere reports quarterly sales of farm equipment fell six percent from 2018 levels as profit from the farm equipment business dropped 24 percent. Deere chairman and CEO Samuel Allen says the third-quarter results "reflected the high degree of uncertainty that continues to overshadow the agricultural sector." Overall, Deere's worldwide net sales and revenues decreased three percent to $10 billion, for the third quarter of 2019 and increased five percent to $29.4 billion, for nine months. Net sales of the equipment operations were $9 billion for the quarter and $26.2 billion for the year, compared with $9.3 billion and $25 billion last year. ************************************************************************************* Study Shows Decrease in Poultry Antibiotics Use A new report on antimicrobial use in broiler chicken and turkey farms shows antibiotics use has decreased from 93 to 17 percent since 2013. The U.S. Poultry and Egg Association announced the findings as part of its commitment to transparency and sustainability. The report represents a five-year data set, collected between 2013 and 2017. The report shows that medically important in-feed antimicrobial use in broiler chickens decreased by as much as 95 percent. The findings also show there was a documented shift to the use of antimicrobial drugs that are not considered medically important to humans. Meanwhile, Turkeys receiving antimicrobials in the hatchery decreased from 96 percent to 41 percent. The report attributes the shift to changes in Food and Drug Administration regulations which were fully implemented in January 2017. The changes effectively eliminated the use of medically important antimicrobials for production purposes and placed all medically important antimicrobials administered in the feed or water of poultry under veterinary supervision. ************************************************************************************* Hearing Scheduled for Suspect in Missing Ranchers Case A preliminary hearing for tampering with a motor vehicle charge is scheduled next month for Garland Nelson of Missouri. The Northwest Missouri farmer admitted to authorities he took the rental truck of two missing Wisconsin ranchers and abandoned it in a parking lot in mid-July. Human remains were found on Nelson's farm a couple of weeks ago but have not been identified. No other charges have been filed. Nelson is the only named suspect in the disappearance of Nick and Justin Diemel who went to visit Nelson’s farm regarding cattle they owned in his care. Other farmers who have done business with Nelson admitted they feared he could hurt others, and several stories have surfaced regarding his lack of care for animals. In a recorded phone call with a Kansas rancher, Nelson mentioned he had no money to pay borrowers and may have to resort to turning a gun on himself, or someone else, to remedy his situation. Nelson was previously sentenced to two years in prison for cattle fraud.

| Rural Advocate News | Tuesday August 20, 2019 |


Washington Insider: The Continuing Spin on the Economy The big news this week is the increasing economic uncertainty and growing exposure to the “trade risk.” Bloomberg says that President Donald Trump is working to calm the waters on talk of a weakening economy by asserting that the U.S. is “doing very well with China, and talking!” However, he suggested he wasn’t ready to sign a trade deal, hours after his top economic adviser laid out a potential timeline for the resumption of substantive discussions with Beijing. The president continues to assert that China needs a trade agreement more than the U.S. given the relatively weak condition of the Asian nation’s economy. White House economic director Larry Kudlow said on Sunday that recent phone calls between U.S. and Chinese trade negotiators had been “positive,” potentially opening the door to further progress toward a deal. More teleconference meetings with Chinese negotiators are planned over the next week to 10 days, the White House National Economic Council director said on Sunday. “If those deputies meetings pan out, as we hope they will, and we can have a substantive renewal of negotiations then we are planning to have China come to the USA and meet with our principals to continue the negotiations and the talks,” Kudlow added. The state of the economy is key to Trump’s re-election prospects in 2020; a downturn would dim the outlook for a president whose approval ratings have stayed stubbornly low, Bloomberg said. Major U.S. equity indexes, often referenced by the administration as a litmus test of its success, have been essentially flat over the past 12 months. “There’s no recession on the horizon,” Kudlow claimed. He added that there were no plans for additional fresh measures to boost the economy and that the administration would stay the course on its current agenda. At the same time, trade advisor Navarro denied on CNN that the U.S. had seen an inverted yield curve, often a forerunner of recession because it signals market expectations for weaker growth ahead. “Technically we didn’t have a yield curve inversion,” he said. “All we’ve had is a flat yield curve” that he called “the result of a very strong Trump economy.” However, as recently as last Wednesday, the president had lashed out at Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell specifically citing the “CRAZY INVERTED YIELD CURVE,” Bloomberg noted. Navarro once again criticized Powell and the Fed on Sunday. “The Federal Reserve chairman should look in the mirror and say ‘I raised rates too fast,’” he said on CNN. Additional Fed rate cuts beyond the quarter-point move in July will be a good thing, Navarro said, and a potential easing by the European Central Bank in September will help Europe’s struggling economy. Navarro noted that the U.S. still has “significant structural issues” with China. In an interesting side note on the economy amid administration discussions of trade issues with China, Europe and others, an NBC-Wall Street Journal poll released Sunday showed support for free trade among Americans is on the rise, Bloomberg said. Almost two-thirds – 64% – see free trade as good for the U.S., an all-time high for the survey series and up 7 percentage points from the last time it was asked, in 2017. Only 27% believe it’s bad, citing damage to key U.S. industries, a key claim in the last campaign. Trump and his top aides have said repeatedly that Beijing, not U.S. companies or consumers, are bearing the brunt of the tariffs imposed on imports from China. Trump tweeted on Sunday that China is “eating” the tariffs. However, many analysts disagree and the administration is working to counter those conclusions. Navarro rejected a study by researchers at the University of Chicago, the Federal Reserve Bank of Boston and elsewhere that found U.S. importers are shouldering the vast majority of price changes from the tariffs, versus China’s 5%. Tariffs “aren’t hurting anyone in the United States,” Navarro said. However, Labor Department measures of U.S. inflation increased in July, driven by costs of shelter, apparel and used cars, and gained the most in a decade in the past two months, the report said. Economists say the boost in inflation shows the tariffs are gradually filtering through. The tariff war has increased prices for goods and U.S. companies are paying the higher levies, according to a survey by the Federal Reserve Bank of New York. The U.S. government collected $57 billion in customs duties in the fiscal year that began Oct. 1, according to the Treasury Department. So, we will see. The recent increases in volatility in stocks in addition to increases in consumer prices are indicators that likely will continue to increase pressure on the administration as elections draw nearer – areas in which the ag sector likely will continue to be on the front line, and which should be watched closely as they intensify, Washington Insider believes.

| Rural Advocate News | Tuesday August 20, 2019 |


Two New Small Refiner Exemption Requests Received By EPA Fresh on the heels of EPA announcing they have granted 31 small refiner exemptions (SREs) under the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS), EPA data now shows that additional requests have been made. EPA now shows that 42 SREs have been received for the 2018 compliance year as two are currently listed as being “pending petitions.” Agency data previously indicated that 40 requests had been made with 31 of those being approved. The data showed that six were denied and three were declared ineligible or were withdrawn. It is not clear when the two latest SREs were received nor is there any indication as to when the agency will make a decision on the latest requests.

| Rural Advocate News | Tuesday August 20, 2019 |


Canada to Pay Dairy Farmers Hurt by Trade Deals Canada will spend C$1.75 billion ($1.32 billion) over eight years to compensate dairy farmers facing greater competition due to free trade deals, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau's government said on Friday. The move is seen as an attempt to satisfy an influential group of voters two months before a national election. Payments to be made in the first year are budgeted to take up C$345 million from the C$1.75 billion funded program. The payments to dairy farmers are to compensate sales they have lost after trade pacts were struck with the European Union and Pacific nations, Agriculture Minister Marie-Claude Bibeau said in an announcement made at a dairy farm in Compton, Quebec.

| Rural Advocate News | Tuesday August 20, 2019 |


Tuesday Watch List Markets There are no official reports on Tuesday's schedule, but trade with China remains a moving target and will be watched for any new developments. Weather remains the other area of interest with concerns of dry conditions in the eastern Midwest and hot temperatures in the southern U.S. Plains. Weather Tuesday rain for much of the Midwest, including moderate to heavy potential in western and central sectors, offering beneficial crop moisture. Meanwhile, stressful heat and humidity are in store for the Southern Plains, southern Midwest and Delta.