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How farm aid became a fixture

The Wall Street Journal-subscription may be required | Posted on July 30, 2018

The U.S. government has been spending directly on agricultural-support programs ever since the Great Depression.  “Most of these [programs] were put in place in the 1930s originally as temporary programs,” said Joseph Glauber, a visiting fellow at the American Enterprise Institute and a former chief economist for the U.S. Department of Agriculture. “Here we are, however many years later, and they’re ingrained.”Over the century following the country’s founding, the U.S. government supported agricultural production through steps such as public land sales and establishing the land-grant university system, which pursues regional crop research. Government spending also funded early irrigation and drainage projects that boosted agricultural output.It worked—in some cases, too well. American farmers’ expanding harvests helped pushed down crop prices in the years leading up to the Great Depression, prompting the government to look at national-level farm support programs. The 1933 Agricultural Adjustment Act, part of the Depression-era New Deal, introduced government price supports, paying farmers to leave grain and cotton fields idle and shrink hog herds. The government also purchased farm goods and subsidized export sales. Farm incomes improved, but the U.S. agricultural sector didn’t fully recover until World War II jump-started demand.

Trump’s trade war boosts the economy — before it bites

Politico | Posted on July 30, 2018

President Donald Trump is likely to get one of the best headlines of his presidency on Friday with a highly tweetable report expected to show the U.S. economy grew at its fastest rate in years in the second quarter.But the big number risks becoming fool’s gold.Economists warn that Trump’s trade war sped up U.S. exports in the second quarter as China and other countries rushed to snap up American soybeans and other products ahead of impending tariffs, lifting growth in ways likely to be reversed in the coming months. And as Trump continues to argue that the strong economy and stock market offer him leeway to press his aggressive approach, his trade battles could wind up slowing an economy that is among the GOP’s strongest selling points to voters.“We are going to see a spike in growth in the second quarter that’s in part related to front-loaded soybeans and other exports and that’s going to be paid back in the next quarter,” said Eric Winograd, senior U.S. economist at Alliance-Bernstein.Wall Street’s concern over potential trade wars was on display Wednesday as shares spiked on initial reports of a deal between the U.S. and the E.U. to avoid Trump’s threatened 20 percent tariffs

State Ag Officials Praise FDA For Produce Safety Funding

NASDA | Posted on July 26, 2018

Members of the National Association of State Departments of Agriculture (NASDA) today praised the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for their expanded $32.5 million commitment to 46 states and one territory to support the proper implementation of the Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA) Produce Safety Rule. “NASDA Members have a long history of successfully working with farmers to grow our safe food supply,” said NASDA CEO Dr. Barbara P. Glenn. “We praise the FDA for making their largest funding commitment to date as we work cooperatively towards the proactive and integrated food safety system envisioned by Congress in 2011.”FDA received funding to initiate the integrated food safety system in 2016. The number of states receiving funding to implement the Produce Safety rule has grown from 42 in 2016 to now 46 and one territory. Funding has steadily grown from $21.8 to $32.5 million. The state agency cooperating with FDA in 44 of the states is the department of agriculture. The vast majority of funding recipients are operating education and outreach programming as well as compliance and enforcement. FDA will have a presence in states and territories who have not applied to cooperatively implement the rule.

Midwest Lawmakers United Against Tariffs as Trump Unveils Farm Bailout

Roll Call | Posted on July 26, 2018

Lawmakers from the Midwest are sticking together in their criticism of President Donald Trump for the White House’s bailout proposal for farmers acutely feeling the recoil of a trade war the president himself started. Across party and ideological lines, senators and House members from Wisconsin, Illinois, Nebraska, Ohio, and elsewhere across the Midwest assailed Trump’s plan to send an additional $12 billion to farmers affected by Chinese and European counter-tariffs on U.S. agriculture.

USDA Announces $12 Billion Short-Term Tariff Relief Program

Ag Web | Posted on July 26, 2018

Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue announced a $12 billion program to help farmers who are currently bearing the brunt of President Trump’s trade tactics.  The programs include a market facilitation program which would result in farmer payments, a food purchase and distribution program which would purchase surplus of goods going to nutrition programs, and a trade promotion program to provide private sector assistance to new markets.  “The Trump Tariff Aid plan draws on the financial resources of a program known as the Commodity Credit Corporation (CCC) and Section 32 funding,” said Jim Wiesemeyer Pro Farmer’s Washington policy analyst. “The initiative does not authorize any new money and thus not need approval from Congress. But U.S. taxpayers will see deficits go still higher.” Officials called this program a "one-time" action. While farmers should be prepared to take advantage of the program, how it will actually work is still unclear.“USDA says it will take some time to develop the needed rules and regulations for the efforts and there will be a Federal Register notice published,” Wiesemeyer said. “There will be a relatively simple signup —producers will need to tell USDA what their 2018 production is for the crops targeted, and that level of what they actually produced times a payment rate and producers would get a payment based on that formula.”Specific details for how the program will work, how the program will be implemented and how farmers can sign up for payments have not been announced. According to USDA undersecretary, Greg Ibach, the details will be released closer to Labor Day when USDA plans to fully implement the program.  

2.5 billion pounds of meat stack up in cold storage

Washington Examiner | Posted on July 26, 2018

It is a good time to fire up the grill domestically and a bad time to export globally. Because of the trade war, around 2.5 billion pounds of meat is just sitting in U.S. cold storage. The meat won’t spoil. It will go on sale in domestic markets, meaning cheaper hams and steaks. This will be good for restaurants and for consumers, especially anyone already stocking up for a Labor Day barbecue.

Scientists warn that proposed US-Mexico border wall threatens biodiversity, conservation

Science Daily | Posted on July 26, 2018

Amidst increased tensions over the US-Mexico border, a multinational group of over 2500 scientists have endorsed an article cautioning that a hardened barrier may produce devastating ecological effects while hampering binational conservation efforts. In the BioScience Viewpoint , a group led by Robert Peters, William J. Ripple, and Jennifer R. B. Miller call attention to ecological disturbances that could affect hundreds of terrestrial and aquatic species, notably including the Mexican gray wolf and Sonoran pronghorn.

Trump’s plan to revoke California’s car pollution waiver makes a mockery of conservative principles

Vox | Posted on July 26, 2018

Earlier this week, Bloomberg broke the news that the Trump administration plans to press ahead with its plans to roll back the new national fuel economy standards established under President Obama and to freeze standards at current levels through 2030. That’s not all. The White House also plans to try to nullify the waiver California has under the Clean Air Act to set its own standards — effectively forcing the state, and the dozen states that have aligned their standards with it, to roll back their standards back as well.This is the most aggressive position the administration could possibly take, which seems to be its default mode. If successful, the plan would wipe out one of Obama’s biggest accomplishments on both air pollution and greenhouse gases. As I described in more detail in this post, the fuel economy of the US fleet would virtually stagnate through 2030. And according to new research from Energy Innovation, it would cost American consumers hundreds of billions of dollars.

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.