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Canadian agriculture ministers briefed on trade-war contingency plan

CTV News | Posted on July 25, 2018

Federal Agriculture Minister Lawrence MacAulay emphasized the importance of the provinces working together as an escalating trade war with the United States puts some farmers on edge. The minister said his provincial and territorial counterparts discussed trade negotiations and the contingency plan during their conference that wrapped up Friday in Vancouver.There's already a safety net in place through the $3-billion Canadian Agricultural Partnership launched earlier this year to help farmers manage risks and deal with problems, MacAulay said. MacAulay also announced a renewed $55-million AgriRisk Initiatives Program, which he said will help protect farmers against business risks they face.B.C. Agriculture Minister Lana Popham said she was satisfied with the federal plan and said the provinces are united in the context of the trade war.“We stand as one voice, as Canada, in a situation like this,” she said.

The Trump Administration Proposes Limiting Protections for Threatened Species

Time | Posted on July 25, 2018

The Trump administration on Thursday proposed ending automatic protections for threatened animals and plants and limiting habitat safeguards meant to shield recovering species from harm. Administration officials said the new rules would advance conservation by simplifying and improving how the landmark Endangered Species Act is used. The proposals drew immediate condemnation from Democrats and some wildlife advocates.Critics said the moves would speed extinctions in the name of furthering its anti-environment agenda. Species currently under consideration for protections are considered especially at risk, including the North American wolverine and the monarch butterfly, they said. “It essentially turns every listing of a species into a negotiation,” said Noah Greenwald with the Center for Biological Diversity. “They could decide that building in a species’ habitat or logging in trees where birds nest doesn’t constitute harm.”A number of conflicts have arisen in the decades since the 1973 passage of the Endangered Species Act, ranging from disruptions to logging to protect spotted owls in the Pacific Northwest, to attacks on livestock that have accompanied the restoration of gray wolves in the Rocky Mountains and upper Midwest.

How will USDA decision on media access affect farmers?

The Progressive Farmer | Posted on July 24, 2018

There are a handful of tenets to good journalism: Always seek the truth. Never proclaim something as true without corroboration from multiple sources. Serve readers first. Keep yourself, the journalist, out of the story. That last one has unfortunately become impossible for us at DTN in relation to the July 11 announcement that USDA will end the century-old process of media access to its report.To be clear, we at DTN have a dog in this fight. This is not a story we can cover with neutrality, because it affects our reporting, the news we can supply customers and readers, and our business.But that's not why we'll continue to cover it. We're making a pretty big deal out of this issue because we think it puts farmers, elevator operators, and rural citizens in general, at a huge disadvantage in the marketplace. The agency is adamant that forcing everyone to download commodity report data from its website puts all users on even footing. But as Clayton so deftly points out, this is the same agency that for some time has been saying the lack of reliable broadband access in farm country is the greatest hurdle for rural economic development.

Trump praises tariffs as 'the greatest' ahead of meeting with European Commission chief

Politico | Posted on July 24, 2018

President Donald Trump defended his trade policy Tuesday morning, declaring that “tariffs are the greatest” because they allow him to fight back against nations that engage in trade practices unfair to the U.S. “Tariffs are the greatest! Either a country which has treated the United States unfairly on Trade negotiates a fair deal, or it gets hit with Tariffs,” the president wrote on Twitter. “It’s as simple as that - and everybody’s talking! Remember, we are the “piggy bank” that’s being robbed. All will be Great!” Trump has paid special attention to international trade in recent months as part of his effort to rebalance trade relationships around the globe with terms that are more favorable for the U.S. Controversially, much of Trump’s efforts thus far have focused on allies, with the president imposing or threatening to impose import taxes on longtime allies and partners, including Canada, Mexico, South Korea and the European Union. Tariff talk directed at allies has apparently strained Trump’s relationships with some world leaders, leading to tense international meetings this summer at the G-7 summit in Canada and the NATO summit in Brussels. Trump's tariffs have not been without downside for the U.S., with reciprocal tariffs already hurting the market for American agricultural goods and the threat of a full-on trade war looming. The president, seemingly eager to offer reassurances to his broad base of support within the agricultural community, has insisted that farmers will ultimately be better off as a result of his trade policies.

Ernst stikes back at Trump advisor comment that trade losses are "rounding error"

Ernst Senate Website | Posted on July 20, 2018

Even as the Trump administration’s trade war with China starts to bite farm country, producers aren’t getting a lot of sympathy from White House trade adviser Peter Navarro.  Navarro, speaking from the White House lawn , said the trade losses due to China’s new tariffs amount to a “rounding error.” Some soybean growers already are expected to go out of business later this year due to the depressed prices that resulted from China’s 25 percent retaliatory tariff. Senator Ernst released the following statement, with regard to White House trade advisor Peter Navarro telling CNBC that theeconomic impact of a trade war is a mere “rounding error,” and that the administration is playing a broader “chess board”: “Mr. Navarro, America’s farmers are caught in the crosshairs of this game of ‘chess.’ Offhand comments like the ones that Mr. Navarro made in his interview with CNBC today disregard the people whose livelihoods depend on global trade. In Iowa alone, more than 456,000 jobs are supported by trade, and these new tariffs are threatening $977 million in state exports.  That is no ‘rounding error.’ Those are real people – Iowans – who are waiting for terms to be negotiated, for new deals to be finalized.  We need to lessen the pressure on these hard-working farmers, and let them sell their goods.


Money talks when trying to influence climate change legislation

Science Daily | Posted on July 19, 2018

Climate lobbying is big business. A new analysis shows that between 2000 and 2016, lobbyists spent more than two billion dollars on influencing relevant legislation in the US Congress. Unsurprisingly, sectors that could be negatively affected by bills limiting carbon emissions, such as the electrical utilities sector, fossil fuel companies and transportation corporations had the deepest pockets.

USDA responds to SNAP issues at farmers market, but does not clarify

Modern Farmer | Posted on July 19, 2018

After widespread outrage in the news and on social media, the USDA has responded to reports that SNAP will not be available to use at many farmers markets. use of SNAP benefits at farmers markets has been increasing more and more each year. But the system used to actually process the payments is supported by a middleman between the USDA and the markets. Until recently, that middleman was the Famers Market Coalition, but the USDA recently awarded the contract to a new middleman. That middleman is a brand new and totally unknown company called Financial Transaction Management, LLC, and it told the biggest processing companies that their technology will not be supported in the future. This means that those processing companies can no longer afford to offer their technology. Even more convoluted: FTM has yet to announce a replacement for those processing companies. Therefore, starting July 31st, those who receive SNAP benefits will no longer have a way to purchase healthy food or support local farmers throughout most of the country.

House sends farm bill to conference

The Progressive Farmer | Posted on July 19, 2018

The House on Wednesday passed by voice vote a motion to proceed to conference on the farm bill, which is numbered HR 2 and titled the Agriculture Improvement Act of 2018. The House also passed a Democratic motion to instruct conferees to insist on 10-year permanent funding for an animal vaccine program. The House bill has permanent funding, but the Senate bill has only an authorization for appropriations.That recorded vote was 392 to 20.House leadership also named House conferees on the farm bill Wednesday afternoon. The Senate must now also proceed to conference and appoint conferees. The Republican list consists of 29 members and seems to reflect the fact that 2018 is an election year and that Ryan has made nutrition programs a priority in the bill. In a statement accompanying the list, Ryan ignored the agricultural sections of the bill and emphasized the bill as a piece of social legislation. "We see this farm bill as pivotal for building a sturdier ladder of opportunity in America," Ryan said. For the full list of House Republican conferees, click here, and for the full list of House Democratic conferees, click here.

Determining tariff damage will be hard

Brownfield Ag News | Posted on July 17, 2018

How will the USDA estimate tariff damages to farmers? “We have analytical procedures that can give us some idea but it’s really going to be really hard,” says Carl Zulauf, Ohio State ag economist. US Ag Secretary Sonny Perdue continues to say there will be help for farmers hurt by the trade disruptions, “I’ve kind of set a deadline for myself, not for anyone else, as Labor Day. That if we can’t have some resolution on trade by Labor Day then we need to look at mitigation procedures and protections for ag producers that really have a negative impact of trade on their bottom line.” Perdue made those comments in Georgia. But, Zuloff says determining how trade disruptions affect prices – aside from a dozen other factors – will be VERY difficult, “We’ve never really been in this situation.” Zulauf says if a damage number comes up as early as Labor Day, it’s going to have a lot of uncertainty around it. USDA could decide to give out partial payments then, and again later as more market impact is known.

Blame Congress for immigration inaction that jeopardizes American agriculture

The Hill | Posted on July 17, 2018

For more than 50 years, since the nullification of the Bracero Treatyand left-unprotected U.S. border, the issue of illegal immigration has vexed our democracy. If there is one thing worse than the byzantine immigration system left in its wake, it’s the unending blame game from the very people charged with providing sound immigration policy: Congress.   On one side are the hardliners more than willing to cast the first stone at the illegal immigrant, yet completely unwilling to see their own neglect of leaving a border wide open to a poverty-stricken nation for so many years. On the other side of the aisle are the power-hungry politicians who hide behind the façade of compassion while taking votes from anyone, legal or not, to broaden their political base. mployers are blamed for hiring illegal immigrants but by law are not allowed to question their documentation, which places these employers in the crosshairs of conflicting federal and state laws. Wayward city leaders are blamed for protecting hard-working mothers and fathers and their children who seek to stay in America. Legal and illegal families believe they have nowhere to turn, and border security guards are forced to separate children from parents as they cross the open border with Mexico. The best response Congress can muster is half-baked, sound-bite solutions such as, “Build a wall,” “Give them citizenship,” “Finance the Dreamers,” “Legalize the Dreamers,” “Make them touchback,” or “Send them all back.”