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Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue endorses work requirements for food assistance

The Spokesman-Review | Posted on July 5, 2018

Congress is preparing to reconcile two versions of the farm bill, a sweeping piece of legislation renewed every five years that governs an array of agricultural and food assistance programs, including SNAP, the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program. Once known as food stamps, SNAP helps nearly 44 million Americans – mostly children, working parents, the elderly and people with disabilities – afford a basic diet each month. While the Senate version of the farm bill would mostly leave SNAP intact through 2023, the House version, which was backed by Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers, would require able-bodied adults to work or participate in a training program for 20 hours a week to receive benefits, or risk being disqualified from SNAP for up to three years.

Trade disputes get real as Trump delays move on NAFTA decision

Meatingplace (free registration required) | Posted on July 5, 2018

The U.S. agricultural industry is now formally on the receiving end of tariffs on a variety of fronts, even as President Trump said he will wait until after the November midterm elections to sign any new form of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA). Prospects for a new NAFTA agreement remain stalled as President Trump told Fox News this weekend he is “not happy” with the revised proposal and doesn’t want to sign any new pact until after November’s midterm elections. “I want to make it more fair,” Trump said on the broadcast. He also has called for additional tariffs on China and imported cars, which would potentially harm automakers and economies in Europe, Japan and South Korea.

Podcast: Ticking Debt Bomb

Roll Call | Posted on July 5, 2018

The Congressional Budget Office recently issued an alarming report on the nation's debt outlook, which CQ senior budget reporter Paul M. Krawzak says should worry millennials. The US debt burden is set to break records in early 2030s

With binational tensions unusually high, trends in key Midwest sectors are reminder of value of U.S.-Canada partnerships

CSG Midwest | Posted on July 5, 2018

Recent headlines have pointed to some of the strains (a mix of new tensions and a flare-up of longstanding conflicts) in the U.S.-Canada relationship. There have been proposed U.S. tariffs on steel, harsh words exchanged on Canadian dairy policy, and threats by President Donald Trump to end the North American Free Trade Agreement.But dig a little deeper, and a much different story emerges — one of economic interdependence and cooperation in key areas such as energy and the environment.“The relationship at the provincial-state level is probably as strong, if not stronger, than it has been since the mid-1980s,” says Carlo Dade, director of the Canada West Foundation’s Trade and Investment Centre, pointing, in particular, to the deeper relations built between state governors and provincial premiers.Canada and the United States share much more than the largest binational border in the world; their peaceful relationship has contributed to economic growth in both countries as well as to the development of an intricate, integrated trading partnership.Canada is the largest purchaser of U.S. exports (goods and services combined) in the world; likewise, the United States is Canada’s largest trading partner. According to the U.S. Trade Representative, trade in goods and services between Canada and the United States totaled $674 billion in 2017, with U.S. exports to its northern neighbor exceeding imports.Services, a sometimes overlooked part of the trading relationship, produced this $8 billion surplus for the United States. In Illinois alone, for example, $2.6 billion worth of business, professional, technical, financial and other services were exported to Canada last year.On the goods side, several states in the Midwest have particularly close economic ties with their Canadian neighbors, thanks to this region being a hub of production activity related to the making of cars, industrial engines, plastics, food and energy products.

Farm bill heads to conference committee with concerns over food stamps, animal rights

Lawrence Journal World | Posted on July 5, 2018

Roberts, who chairs the Senate Agriculture Committee, along with the ranking Democrat on the committee, Sen. Debbie Stabenow, of Michigan, were largely responsible for coordinating the drafting of the Senate version of the bill. It passed Thursday, 86-11.But it is significantly different from the House version of the bill, which passed June 21 by a vote of 213-211, with only Republican support.Democrats in the House objected to provisions of that bill that would impose stricter work requirements in order to qualify for food stamps, while the Senate version makes only modest adjustments to existing eligibility requirements.

Canada Slaps Tariffs on US Beef

DTN | Posted on July 2, 2018

Canada announced a final list of items targeted for retaliation over U.S. steel and aluminum tariffs, hitting U.S. beef, agricultural chemicals and whiskey, as well as a large number of steel and aluminum products. The $12.6 billion of tariffs will go into effect on July 1. Items will be subject to taxes of 10% or 25%.

Farm Bill Passes Senate

Politico | Posted on June 28, 2018

The Senate easily passed its farm bill by a vote of 86-11, clearing the way for a conference committee to reconcile differences with the House's version of the sweeping agriculture and nutrition legislation. The Senate's bipartisan support of the $867 billion bill, coming a week after the House passed its partisan measure by a margin of just two votes, gives Congress some leeway in its effort to deliver legislation to President Donald Trump to sign before the current farm bill expires on Sept. 30. Reauthorizing the farm bill on time is a priority in farm country, where a prolonged slump in commodity prices has more than halved net farm income in recent years and trade retaliation has already cut into some farmers’ bottom line.

House Rejects GOP’s ‘Compromise’ Immigration Bill — Overwhelmingly

Roll Call | Posted on June 28, 2018

ouse Republicans’ legislative attempt to find consensus within their own party on the divisive issue of immigration failed on the floor Wednesday, with the chamber overwhelmingly rejecting their so-called compromise bill, 121-301.  The compromise bill was negotiated by members representing all sides of the various factions in the GOP Conference and Republican leaders in recent weeks. But some of the negotiators had maintained concerns throughout the process.

USDA surveys small, very small establishments

Meatingplace (free registration required) | Posted on June 28, 2018

The USDA’s Food Safety and Inspection Service is conducting a survey to “help enhance the creation and delivery of information and resources” for small and very small meat and poultry processing and slaughter establishments, the agency said in a news release. FSIS is emailing a survey link to small and very small establishments that slaughter or process livestock or poultry. Owners will have about 30 days to complete the survey.

Tariff uncertainty puts some Chinese hay orders on hold

Capital Press | Posted on June 28, 2018

Chinese customers are holding back on some orders of alfalfa from Washington’s Columbia Basin as they wait to see what happens with tariffs, a major U.S. hay exporter says.