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Report Looks at Trade Retaliation Impact on California

DTN | Posted on April 26, 2018

Farmers for Free Trade released a report that will highlight California concerns that retaliatory tariffs from China hurt commodities like almonds, grapes, apples, and what the group calls “many other iconic California exports.”


Russian Farmer Alters Rural Economy With Virtual Currency, as Moscow Watches Warily

Wall Street Journal | Posted on April 26, 2018

Farmer Mikhail Shlyapnikov says the best way to revive the ailing economy in this remote village is cutting financial ties to Moscow. Mr. Shlyapnikov has launched a cryptocurrency, the kolion, named after his hamlet some 80 miles southeast of Moscow, buoyed by an initial investment of a half-million dollars from investors in Russia and abroad.


U.S. sorghum armada U-turns at sea after China tariffs

Reuters | Posted on April 26, 2018

Several ships carrying cargoes of sorghum from the United States to China have changed course since Beijing slapped hefty anti-dumping deposits on U.S. imports of the grain, trade sources and a Reuters analysis of export and shipping data showed. The supply-chain pain felt by sorghum suppliers on the Pacific, Atlantic and Indian oceans underscores how quickly the mounting trade tensions between the U.S. and China can impact the global agricultural sector, which has been reeling from low commodity prices amid a global grains glut.


Soybeans symbolize the costs of a US-China trade war

Nikkei Asian Review | Posted on April 25, 2018

When the U.S. announced on April 3 plans to impose tariffs on certain Chinese goods to punish it for alleged infringement of intellectual property rights, China quickly retaliated with duties on 106 U.S. products. The surprise for the global commodities market is the inclusion of soybeans on the list. The question is whether, given the interdependence of the two countries in soybean trade, China can handle the pain the tariffs would impose. There is no doubt the tariffs will sting the U.S. if they cause a slump in exports. The U.S. devotes just under half its soybean production to exports; of those, 60% go to China. U.S. soybean exports to China totaled $14.2 billion in 2016. That far outstrips Japan's global export target for all agricultural products in 2019.


Europe and Mexico show the world can trade without the U.S.

Wall Street Journal | Posted on April 25, 2018

Mexico and the European Union agreed to a new trade deal over the weekend, and the timing is no accident. With the French and German leaders in Washington this week, and the Nafta talks getting serious, America’s trading partners are showing that the world won’t stop if the U.S. goes protectionist. The EU-Mexico deal is the sort of trade opening that is increasingly common beyond America’s shores. The two sides have agreed in principle to remove protections on a long list of agricultural goods, and to expand two-way trade...


Expanding Work Requirements For Food Assistance At Center Of Farm Bill Debate

Iowa Public Radio | Posted on April 25, 2018

There’s a Republican-authored proposal in the next farm bill that would require millions more people to work or volunteer in order to receive federal food assistance. The Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program accounts for most of the spending in the bill, which is up for renewal this year, and provides monthly stipends for more than 40 million low-income Americans to buy food (though in many cases the funds may only cover a couple weeks).Conservatives argue expanding work requirements will help SNAP recipients find jobs and move off of food assistance. But House Democrats have said the requirements would punish people who struggle to work, and it’s become the central contentious issue in this year’s farm bill debate.


Our View: Beware of Anti-Farm, Socialist Rhetoric

Farm Policy Facts | Posted on April 25, 2018

Critics contend that farmers can pick up an extra shift or two at the local mill, so we don’t need a Farm Bill to deal with things like weather disasters, or trade wars, or volatile price swings. We didn’t think agriculture’s critics could get more out of touch, or heartless.  But, they did. The “thinkers” who inhabit DC’s ivory tower think tanks now want farmers to work for free.Yes, you read that right.  In fact, here’s the Cato Institute’s view on farm policies that help growers survive low prices: Food is essential for human survival and we would all be better served if its price was, like sunlight and air, zero. The benefits of cheaper food and reduced hunger easily outweigh any losses borne by the farm sector….The best farm bill is none at all. How we stumbled upon this little socialist gem is just as significant as Cato’s words.


USDA Rural Development Innovation Center Launches Interactive Webpage to Share Best Practices for Rural Economic Development

USDA | Posted on April 25, 2018

Assistant to the Secretary for Rural Development Anne Hazlett today unveiled a new interactive webpage to identify best practices for building rural prosperity. “Rural communities need forward-thinking strategies to build strong, resilient futures,” Hazlett said. “USDA’s Rural Development Innovation Center is focused on identifying unique opportunities, pioneering new, creative solutions to tough challenges, and making Rural Development’s programs easier to understand, use and access.”The webpage highlights effective strategies that have been used to create jobs, build infrastructure, strengthen partnerships and promote economic development in rural America.An interactive feature allows webpage visitors to submit comments on ways USDA can improve Rural Development program delivery. Innovation Center staff will review these recommendations and direct customers to resources, services and expertise that will help their communities create transformative solutions to complex rural challenges.The webpage also highlights USDA resources that can be used for investments in infrastructure and innovation. These resources include USDA’s Distance Learning & Telemedicine Grant ProgramCommunity Connect Grant Program, and Community Facilities Programs.


House Ag Committee advances farm bill with few farm changes, major SNAP dispute

The Progressive Farmer | Posted on April 19, 2018

After hours of criticism by Democrats on changes to food programs, the House Agriculture Committee passed a farm bill out of committee Wednesday on a strictly partisan 26-20 vote as every Republican voted for the bill and every Democrat opposed it. Ranking Member Collin Peterson, D-Minn., called the legislation "a flawed bill that is the result of a bad and nontransparent process." Peterson said Republicans are on an "ideological crusade" regarding SNAP changes that would turn urban lawmakers against farm programs on the House floor.  Democrats said roughly 1.6 million people would end up removed from SNAP, while states would be required to greatly expand job-training programs that would end up underfunded. Democrats said the cuts were attacks on poor people."We sometimes look at poor people as if they are not taxpayers," said Rep Al Lawson, D-Fla. "They pay a higher cost of food than most of us here." Rep. Glenn Thompson, R-Pa., chairman of the nutrition subcommittee, said changes in nutrition programs aren't about saving money, but getting good policy."We want to look at good policy to help our neighbors in need who find themselves in a tough circumstance," Thompson said. He added, "No one is kicking them off of SNAP because of mandatory work requirements," though if people do not participate in job training or get a job, then they do not participate in SNAP. The House bill would eliminate new signups under USDA's largest conservation program, the Conservation Stewardship Program. Two amendments had some extended debate. One was by Rep. Steve King, R-Iowa, who has pushed for nearly eight years for his "Protect Interstate Commerce Act," which is meant to target states that require agricultural standards beyond federal law.Specifically, King criticized California's law that requires eggs imported into the state to meet the same cage-space requirements and standards California imposes on eggs produced in the state. King said the Founding Fathers expected the states to have a free-trade zone amongst each other that is blocked by such laws. Denham and King then had another back-and-forth over Denham's amendment to make it a felony to knowingly slaughter a dog or cat for human consumption, or import a dog or cat for human consumption.


The Facts About Food Stamp Fraud

Forbes | Posted on April 19, 2018

There's too much misinformation about the U.S. government's food stamp scheme. So after some investigation, here are some facts about the benefit, also known as the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP).The takeaway is that food stamp fraud ballooned during the four years through 2016 but that it still represents a tiny percentage of the program. How much did fraud grow? It jumped to $592.7 million in 2016, up a staggering 61% from $367.1 million in 2012, according to data from the U.S. Department of Agriculture. The monetary figures are "Fraud Dollars Determined By Investigations." In other words, these figures are based on identified incidents. In 2016, the number of fraud investigations totaled 963,965, up more than 30% from 2012. In simple terms, if you swapped your benefits for cash, etc., or lied about your income or assets, then that's fraud. The fraud totals include what would have been given as a benefit if it had gone undetected, or what the government could recover, the USDA says. If you are concerned, then consider the following. The total cost of the SNAP benefits disbursed in 2016 was $66.5 billion, down from $74.6 billion in 2012. Those are significant figures because America is a big country.


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