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Mexico: USMCA Would Provide Certainty in Global Trade

4 years, 6 months ago AFBF

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. 


National Ag News Audio

Suggested lead: Congress has lots of work to do in agriculture and other areas, but impeachment and spending fights plus a dwindling legislative calendar are vastly complicating the job.

 Two more week-long breaks between now and Christmas, possible House impeachment action around Thanksgiving, a December Senate trial, and no deals yet on spending, tax or defense bills.

Congress faces a November 21 deadline when a temporary spending extension runs out, and December 31, when some tax breaks expire, recur, or like biodiesel, already expired.

And then, there’s the U.S. Mexico Canada Agreement, USMCA, worth some $2-billion in new U.S. ag exports.

American Farm Bureau Executive Director Dale Moore…

“Whatever else is going on in Congress, whether it’s the impeachment inquiry, the budget process that dominates this time of the year, our focus and our push and our urging to folks on Capitol Hill is, let’s get USMCA done.”

 But the reality is a toxic political climate that invites legislative 'hostage taking' as leverage for or against impeachment, and a legislative clock that's running out.

AFB trade advisor Dave Salmonsen on USMCA…

“I think, over the next few weeks, we really need to see some agreement on this implementing legislation, if it’s going to be presented to the Congress this fall.”

 House GOP Leader Kevin McCarthy says, if the trade deal’s not voted on by Thanksgiving, it won’t get done this year.

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