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China, U.S., on Track to Sign Phase One Agreement

4 years, 5 months ago AFBF

The U.S. and China are on track to sign the phase one trade agreement next month. President Donald Trump this week stated the negotiations are running “ahead of schedule.” The South China Morning Post reports Trump and Chinese President Xi Jinping (Shee Jihn’-ping) are set for a November 17 meeting in Chile to sign the interim trade deal. Trump says the agreement would “take care of the farmers,” among other things, including banking provisions. A spokesperson from China’s Foreign Affairs Ministry confirmed the progress, saying, “the two sides made substantial progress” in recent talks. Top-level negotiators met over the phone last Friday and will again very soon. The agreement includes an estimated $40-$50 billion of agricultural purchases by China over a two-year period, with $20 billion possible the first year. Market analysts say agricultural trade with China appears to be starting to normalize, ahead of the agreement. In 2017, before the trade war began, the U.S. shipped $19.5 billion worth of agricultural products to China. However, the trade war cut those exports in half.

USDA Releases Hemp Regulations

Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue Tuesday released the long-awaited regulation plan for hemp production. Perdue says rulemaking teams operated as “all hands on deck” over the last few months in creating a “fair and science-based” program. The Department of Agriculture says the framework makes hemp producers eligible for several agricultural programs, including crop insurance. Under the interim final rule, USDA will approve hemp production plans developed by states. The program requires documentation of the land where hemp is produced, along with testing and licensing requirements. USDA will begin accepting applications 30 days after the effective date of the interim rule. Meanwhile, all hemp production must be sampled and tested for THC concentration levels at Drug Enforcement Agency registered laboratories. If a test confirms a THC level exceeding the approved level, then the crop must be disposed of. Hemp must not contain more than .3 percent THC on a dry weight basis, as a level above .3 percent is federally considered marijuana. The complete rule is available online at ams.usda.gov.

Ethanol Industry Tells Lawmakers Biofuel Waivers Created Economic Crisis

Ethanol producers say small refinery waivers granted by the Environmental Protection Agency have caused an economic crisis for the industry. At hearing in Washington, D.C. Tuesday, Growth Energy told lawmakers “small refinery exemptions under the Renewable Fuel Standard is crippling rural America.” The ethanol industry and farm groups are not optimistic the EPA plan to restore biofuel blending to the statute of 15 billion gallons annually will be followed. Growth Energy says the regulatory attempts by EPA “give us little confidence that we will see the relief we need.” Farmers and ethanol producers are also upset the plan doesn’t make up for lost gallons over the last few years. Several biofuels and farm groups voiced support for the Renewable Fuel Standard Integrity Act of 2019, introduced by House Agriculture Committee Chair Collin Peterson. The groups say the legislation would bring transparency to the small refinery waivers. Refinery exemptions under the Trump Administration have totaled nearly six times more gallons than those under the previous Administration.

Food And Beverage Industry Urges Congress to Pass USMCA

Food and beverage industry workers recently sent more than 10,000 individual letters to Congress to urge passage of the U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement. The Corn Refiners Association says the letters emphasized the economic benefits USMCA will bring to the U.S. business community and consumers alike. The letters are part of a grassroots effort by the association, along with several other food and agriculture organizations. Corn Refiners Association President and CEO John Bode (Boh-dee)  adds, "the agriculture-related benefits of North American trade reach far into our economy." Bode says more than 70 percent of the agriculture-related jobs created by the North American Free Trade Agreement were outside of the farm sector. In recent weeks, members of the USMCA Coalition have been urging members of Congress to announce their support for the agreement. The Coalition reminds Congress that the food and agriculture industry "is the economic backbone of rural America" and an essential driver of the overall economy, accounting for one-fifth of American economic activity.

Fall Harvest Poses Grain Quality Challenges

Grain inspection experts warn that the 2019 fall harvest will bring quality challenges for many. Tom Dahl, president of the American Association of Grain Inspection and Weighing Agencies, this week stated quality challenges may vary by region. Some may see weathered grain, while others may see green or immature grains. Or, it could be frost damaged kernels, mold, or fungus issues. Any of these create marketing issues for producers. For users, whether they are processors, feeders, or millers, Dahl says it is a matter of understanding the quality they are receiving so it can be used for its best purpose. The organization recommends accurate measurement of crop quality, as both buyers and sellers can benefit from clearly understanding the quality of the grain or oilseeds they are handling. Consistent, accurate test results can be best assured through using an Official Grain Inspection Agency. These are agencies supervised by the Department of Agriculture’s Federal Grain Inspection Service. Farmers can learn more about accurate quality testing online at www.aagiwa.org.

Syngenta Named Top AG Employer in 2019

A Science Magazine survey names Syngenta as one of the world's leading biotech employers - and the top agriculture employer. The 2019 Science Careers Top Employers Survey ranked Syngenta ten out of 20 top employers in biotechnology, biopharmaceutical, and pharmaceutical and related industries, marking the tenth year of recognition by the global survey. The annual survey identifies companies with the best reputations as employers, based on 23 attributes, including treating employees with respect, being socially responsible and being an innovative leader in the industry. The results were compiled by a sample of 7,600 people across the applicable industries. A Syngenta spokesperson says of the ranking, "One of Syngenta's greatest strengths is our collaborative culture." The company has biotechnology and seeds research operations globally, with centers of innovation in Research Triangle Park, North Carolina, and Beijing, China. The complete rankings of the 2019 survey are available on the Science magazine website, www.sciencemag.org.


The ethanol industry told Congressional lawmakers Environmental Protection Agency biofuel waivers have destroyed billions of gallons of demand, killed thousands of industry jobs, and hurt corn prices, all while a proposed 'fix' is unlikely to resolve the problem.

Renewable Fuels Association chief Geoff Cooper accused the EPA of secretly granting Small Refinery Exemptions as a way to control the cost for so-called 'RIN' ethanol credits…

"At least in my opinion, EPA is using the SRE program, as a 'back-door way' of managing RIN prices, and controlling RIN prices."

And, as for a 'fix' brokered by President Trump, and then apparently altered by his EPA to 'estimate' using Energy Department data, and not count 'actual' lost gallons…

The 'bait and switch' employed by EPA in this latest proposal, does not ensure that the statutory volume for conventional biofuels will be enforced in 2020, or beyond…and we think it is likely that the 2020 requirement for conventional biofuels, could again be eroded to less than 15-billion gallons."

Cooper says his group backs legislation by House Ag Chair Collin Peterson to guarantee replacement gallons for those lost to waivers.

Chet Thompson told House Energy lawmakers, his American Fuel and Petrochemical Manufacturers, representing small refiners, backs neither Peterson's bill, nor the waiver' fix.' …

“All the testimony that we’ve heard today is contradicted by EIA data that I put on the screen. This is the highest ethanol blend rates, as a country, we’ve ever had.”

However, Southern Illinois’ John Shimkus says the bill would modernize the Renewable Fuel Standard…

“Our bill would transition from blend-specific mandates to performance based standards for future fuels and vehicles, remove longstanding barriers to the availability and usability of higher ethanol blends, provide an additional decade of certainty for advanced biofuels, and harmonize EPA and DOT vehicle efficiency programs.”

Meanwhile, the EPA is taking public comment on the proposal today (Wednesday, October 30,) in Michigan.

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