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U.S. to stop taking payments from drillers, miners for damage to public land

Reuters | Posted on July 26, 2018

The Trump administration on Tuesday said it would no longer require oil drillers, miners and other industries to compensate for damage they cause to public lands under their permitted projects, in a bid to speed up development on federal lands.

Trump sees deal with EU

The Progressive Farmer | Posted on July 26, 2018

President Donald Trump and the president of the European Union announced after meeting Wednesday that the EU had agreed, as part of early trade talks, to lower industrial tariffs and increase soybean buys from the U.S. As a region in the world, the EU is already one of the larger buyers of U.S. soybeans. The European Union as of now has imported 4.3 million metric tons of soybeans (157 million bushels) from the U.S., about 4% more than by this same time a year ago. Netherlands and Germany are the two largest EU buyers of U.S. soybeans.No specifics were laid out on just how much more soybeans the EU has agreed to increase imports of U.S. Globally, U.S. soybean exports are down nearly 2.8 million metric tons from a year ago, or 101 million bushels.

Why record-breaking trade aid for farmers could fail

Politico | Posted on July 26, 2018

The government will pay some farmers directly and buy food from others to blunt the impact of a trade war entirely of the president’s own making. Despite the massive size, it won’t offset the sweeping damage to markets as other countries slap penalties on U.S. farm goods in retaliation to Trump’s tariffs on imports. And ultimately, efforts by past presidents to manipulate global trade have ended up boosting farmers in other countries at the expense of U.S. agriculture, no matter how much the federal government spends to buoy local markets.The Nixon administration in 1973 embargoed exports of soybeans and cottonseed to shield U.S. meat producers from skyrocketing costs for feed. And former President Jimmy Carter in 1980 blocked U.S. grain exports to the Soviet Union to punish the country for its military occupation in Afghanistan.These actions were a “stimulus to U.S. competitors” like Brazil, now a top exporter of soybeans, which increased agricultural production to meet the demand American farmers couldn’t fill, said Scott Irwin, an agricultural economist at University of Illinois.“Based on a couple historical episodes, farmers’ biggest fear is this could put the United States in category of an unreliable supplier,” Irwin said.

Fifth Circuit Holds That FHFA is Unconstitutionally Structured

Adminstrative Law | Posted on July 25, 2018

The decision by the United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit earlier this week in Collins v. Mnuchin holding that the structure of the Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA) is unconstitutional is an important development not only for the FHFA but also for the constitutionality of the CFPB.  The per curiamopinion in Collins almost guarantees that the Supreme Court will grant cert in the near future on whether the FHFA, the CFPB and similarly structured agencies are unconstitutional. In addition, a powerful dissent by Judge Don Willett, who is on President Trump’s published list of potential Supreme Court candidates, also increases the possibility that the Supreme Court may grant cert on a separate issue: whether the FHFA exceeded its statutory authority as conservator of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac when it agreed to the  net worth sweep amendment without the consent of their non-government shareholders.

Pushing Back on President Trump's Trade Team

DTN | Posted on July 25, 2018

Republican lawmakers and the American Farm Bureau Federationare no longer holding their powder when it comes to criticizing Trump Administration leaders about trade. Sen. Joni Ernst, R-Iowa, fired off a news release Thursday after White House trade advisor Peter Navarro told CNBC that the economic impact of the trade war is a mere "rounding error" and that the Trump Administration is playing a broader game of chess.“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," Ernst said. "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."

'Hi, I'm a soybean': In trade war, China deploys cartoon legume to reach U.S. farmers

Reuters | Posted on July 25, 2018

In the tense trade war with the United States, China’s government has turned to an unlikely weapon: a cartoon bean. “Hi, everybody. I am a soybean. I may not look like much, but I’m very important,” says the animated character in a video posted on Friday on the website of China Global Television Network (CGTN), the overseas news network of state-owned China Central Television.The short video in English with Chinese subtitles seems designed to undermine support for the trade dispute from U.S. farmers, key supporters of President Donald Trump, by highlighting the damage tariffs could have on American soybean exports.Its release follows the imposition on July 6 of tariffs on $34 billion of Chinese imports by the United States. In return, China levied taxes on the same value of products from the United States, including soybeans. Trump has also threatened further tariffs on $200 billion in Chinese goods.

Farm Bureau Response to Navarro’s ‘Rounding Error’ Statement

Farm Bureau | Posted on July 25, 2018

The following statement may be attributed to American Farm Bureau Federation President Zippy Duvall: “White House trade advisor Peter Navarro’s recent comments that the damage this trade war is doing to certain sectors of the U.S. economy, of which we all know includes agriculture, is little more than a ‘rounding error’ are out of touch with the pain our farmers and ranchers are experiencing. Making farmers and ranchers pawns in this chess game is extremely risky for our nation’s agriculture economy and food security.“Prices for all of our export-sensitive farm goods have tanked since May, when this tariff game started. Farm income was already off by half compared to four years ago, with debt levels rising—hardly a strong position for agriculture going into this trade war. This situation will only worsen as combines roll between now and the fall election season. The nation’s farmers and ranchers support the broader goal of strengthening our overall economy and trade balance, but not at the risk of long-term, irreparable harm to our ag exports and the jobs they create.

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.