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Trump admin sees grim climate outcome in car rule

E & E News | Posted on August 9, 2018

The last time carbon dioxide levels hit the mark the Trump administration envisions for the end of the century, crocodiles roamed the poles and palm trees existed where glaciers are today. In fact, there were no glaciers — not even in Antarctica. Although the White House has avoided addressing climate change, it made a rare acknowledgement that its proposal to weaken vehicle fuel efficiency standards would contribute to a warmer planet. Its prediction for what the atmosphere will look like in 2100 startled climate scientists — a carbon dioxide concentration of 789.76 parts per million. That's nearly double current levels.Scientists said reaching that mark would be devastating for the planet. Although humans would survive, much of that would depend on the ability to adapt to new conditions. Food and water scarcity would result from changing precipitation patterns and higher temperatures. Potentially billions of people would struggle. Some species and ecosystems would collapse."By mid Century, food and especially water shortages will likely become so widespread that regional conflicts and environmental refugees will dwarf anything we see now, and hence it is not really livable for all humans," Kevin Trenberth, a climate scientist at the National Center for Atmospheric Research, said in an email. "So the last time 800 ppm occurred is not really pertinent because there were not 10 billion people present."

U.S., China, each disclose new tariff proposals

Chemical and Engineering News | Posted on August 9, 2018

As the U.S. and China escalate hostilities in their trade war, the manufacturing sector on both sides is at risk of becoming collateral damage. New tariff proposals unveiled by the U.S. and China in recent days cover many chemicals and key materials that the two countries trade widely and for which, in some cases, few alternative suppliers exist. Acting on a request from President Trump, the office of the U.S. Trade Representative—the equivalent of the ministry of international trade in other countries—raised from 10% to 25% the custom duties proposed on $200 billion worth of goods that the U.S. imports from China. The U.S. started levying tariffs on Chinese goods this summer in an effort to prompt China to modify business practices that the U.S. deems unfair.The newly proposed U.S. tariffs follow the implementation of a 25% custom duty on $34 billion worth of Chinese goods in early July. The U.S. is also finalizing a separate 25% levy on another $16 billion worth of Chinese merchandise.The American Chemistry Council, the main industry group representing the chemical industry, says the new round of proposed U.S. tariffs would be “devastating for U.S. chemicals manufacturers.” It notes that more than $16 billion of the $200 billion in targeted goods are chemicals. “Small and medium-sized enterprises in particular are at risk of being put out of businesses by a cost increase of that kind.”

Dairy Revenue Protection is Here

Farm Bureau | Posted on August 9, 2018

Since 2014 the annual average U.S. all-milk price has fallen by more than 30 percent. This year, it is projected to be at the lowest level since 2009, at $16.10 per hundredweight. Milk prices are projected to improve slightly in 2019 to $16.75 per hundredweight, but ongoing trade tensions in July compelled USDA to push its 2019 milk price projection down by 45 cents per hundredweight. The 45-cent revision represents a nearly $1 billion decline in projected milk revenue – in just one month in 2019.  Dairy Revenue Protection was developed and approved through the Federal Crop Insurance Act’s 508(h) process, which allows private parties to develop insurance products that are in the best interests of producers, follow sound insurance principles and are actuarially appropriate. 

Senate minibus spending bill addresses ag needs

Feedstuffs | Posted on August 8, 2018

On Wednesday, the Senate passed the minibus appropriations bill, which contains several important amendments addressing issues pertinent to agriculture. Besides funding for agriculture, the minibus also offers interior, financial and transportation funding. It also prohibits the closure of the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Farm Service Agency (FSA) county offices and provides funding to hire additional FSA loan officers.On the research front, it provides $2.726 billion to support agricultural research conducted by the Agricultural Research Service (ARS) and the National Institute of Food & Agriculture. It also provides $405 million for the Agriculture & Food Research Initiative. It specifically provides $1 million in ARS funding for each of the following: the Pulse Crop Health Initiative, chronic wasting disease, sugar beets, alfalfa research and small grain genomics. It maintains funding at $3 million for UAS Precision Agriculture and $8.7 million for the U.S. Wheat & Barley Scab Initiative.Specifically, the bill continues funding for the Agriculture Risk Coverage pilot program to offer an alternate calculation method for crop payments when National Agricultural Statistics Service data are insufficient.Sens. Tammy Baldwin (D., Wis.) and Susan Collins (R., Maine) secured funding and bipartisan support to promote dairy business innovation activities included in the Dairy Business Innovation Act. It was debated on the Senate floor Wednesday to include a $7 million investment for dairy businesses in the fiscal 2019 agriculture appropriations bill. The amendment passed 83-15.

EU imports of US soy were up before agreement

Watt Ag Net | Posted on August 7, 2018

EU imports of U.S. soybeans were already on the rise before an announcement in July that the EU would increase its purchase of U.S. soy. According to a report, the increase was due to falling prices in June, after China stopped buying U.S. soybeans as part of a trade rift between the two countries. In addition, EU imports from Brazil and Paraguay fell sharply, and U.S. exports to the EU increased more than 280 percent in the first five weeks of the 2018-19 marketing year, compared with the previous year.

Administration lifts GMO crop ban for U.S. wildlife refuges

Reuters | Posted on August 7, 2018

The Trump administration has rescinded an Obama-era ban on the use of pesticides linked to declining bee populations and the cultivation of genetically modified crops in dozens of national wildlife refuges where farming is permitted. Environmentalists, who had sued to bring about the 2-year-old ban, said on Friday that lifting the restriction poses a grave threat to pollinating insects and other sensitive creatures relying on toxic-free habitats afforded by wildlife refuges.“Industrial agriculture has no place on refuges dedicated to wildlife conservation and protection of some of the most vital and vulnerable species,” said Jenny Keating, federal lands policy analyst for the group Defenders of Wildlife.Limited agricultural activity is authorized on some refuges by law, including cooperative agreements in which farmers are permitted to grow certain crops to produce more food or improve habitat for the wildlife there.The rollback, spelled out in a U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service memo, ends a policy that had prohibited farmers on refuges from planting biotech crops - such as soybeans and corn - engineered to resist insect pests and weed-controlling herbicides.

The agriculture industry is losing its voice in American politics

Stratfor | Posted on August 7, 2018

Over the past few decades, agribusiness contributions to politics have declined substantially. Lobbying spending by agribusiness as a percentage of total lobbying spending has decreased since 2008, even in election years. Contributions have also gotten slightly more partisan, with more and more contributions going to the Republican Party. Moreover, the composition of the vital, influential Farm Bill has shifted significantly since 2000; its main focus has become funding for food assistance programs rather than protections for farmers.

U.S. trade gap widened in June

Wall Street Journal | Posted on August 7, 2018

The U.S. trade deficit expanded in June at the fastest rate since November 2016, underpinned by a stronger dollar and buoyant economic growth. The trade deficit in goods and services increased 7.3% in June from the previous month to a seasonally adjusted $46.35 billion, the Commerce Department said Friday. Exports fell 0.7% from May, while imports into the U.S. increased 0.6% on the month. The data confirmed economists’ expectations that a narrowing trade deficit earlier this year was likely to reverse, despite a renewed focus on trade policy from President Trump. Economists surveyed by The Wall Street Journal had expected an even wider gap of $46.6 billion in June. “We look for the trade deficit to widen modestly ahead as export growth slows on the heels of cooler global momentum while imports remain well-supported by fiscal stimulus and solid domestic demand,” Oxford Economics’ Gregory Daco and Oren Klachkin wrote in a note to clients Friday.

Farm groups go on anti-tariff blitz after Trump offers trade aid

Politico | Posted on August 2, 2018

arm groups are going on the offensive with a multimillion-dollar advertising and advocacy campaign against President Donald Trump’s tariffs just days after the administration rolled out a $12 billion bailout for farmers harmed by a mounting trade war. The launch of the campaign also comes as Trump is due Thursday in Iowa and Illinois, where he is likely to reassure farmers growing increasingly anxious over trade retaliation that has targeted soybeans, pork and other major farm commodities.

The casualties of Trump’s trade war

High Country News | Posted on August 2, 2018

The story of the Colorado Fuel and Iron Company in Pueblo, Colorado, is a classic tale of American industry. It was founded in the late 19th century, and its mines, forges and quarries grew into a company of 15,000 people and the largest steel mill in the West. Yet even this behemoth, once part of the Rockefeller empire, could not endure. When the Reagan administration toppled barriers to free trade in the 1980s, CF&I bowed to foreign competition. It declared bankruptcy in 1990, almost a century after its founding, only to reboot as a shadow of its former self, the Rocky Mountain Steel Mill. When President Donald Trump levied tariffs this spring on imported steel and aluminum and then picked a trade war with China, he was hoping to throw a lifeline to iconic American companies like Rocky Mountain. His protectionist policies may help that particular mill, but in today’s economy, in which “local” industries are so often inextricably entangled with global supply chains, Trump’s tariffs and the resulting blowback are already hurting a lot of other Westerners. Theoretically, tariffs help U.S. companies by slapping a tax on imported goods so that they are no longer cheaper than domestic ones. Retailers are then more likely to purchase domestic goods, thereby supporting U.S. manufacturers. Yet this false sense of triumph relies on a simplistic worldview, in which shipping containers full of imported products flood American ports and then return empty to their points of origin. That’s not the case. In fact, goods move back and forth across a complex — sometimes illogical — global web of markets. Perhaps those who miss out on the aid can take some comfort in knowing that there are some winners in this scuffle. One of them is none other than Rocky Mountain Steel, which will benefit from the tariffs slapped on foreign competitors. There’s just one catch: The steel mill today is a wholly owned subsidiary of Evraz — a Russian company. One of its top shareholders is Roman Abramovich, a Russian oligarch who has close ties to Russian President Vladimir Putin — and allegedly gave him a $35 million yacht. Abramovich is also chummy with Trump’s daughter, Ivanka, and son-in-law, Jared Kushner. “America First,” indeed.