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CoBank: Loose ends remain in USMCA

Meat & Poultry | Posted on October 10, 2018

Negotiators for the United States and Canada continue work on finishing touches of the US-Mexico-Canada trade agreement following a hard Sept. 30 deadline that spurred down-to-the-wire talks on a rewrite of the North American Free Trade Agreement acceptable to both countries, CoBank’s Knowledge Exchange Division said in an analysis of the USMCA. The USMCA provides the US agriculture sector a level of certainty, improvements in market access for some ag-related products and momentum heading into trade talks with China, according to the report. However, the NAFTA rewrite leaves unanswered the question of when retaliatory tariffs – imposed when the US levied duties on aluminum and steel earlier this year – will end.“The US dairy and pork industries have been hardest hit by Mexican tariffs that were implemented in July as a response to US steel and aluminum tariffs imposed earlier in the year,” CoBank said in its report titled From NAFTA to USMCA. “Negotiations to eliminate the tariffs have begun, but there is no indication of how long they will remain in place.”Exporters of US poultry will receive 47,000 metric tons in tariff-free access to Canada's poultry market in the first year of USMCA. That amount will increase to 57,000 tons by year six and will grow by 1 percent annually for 10 years. US turkey also gained increased access of another 1,000 tons, up from 6,000 tons, sent to Canada in 2017, according to CoBank.However, the value of US meat exports to Mexico and Canada has dropped because of the retaliatory tariffs, pressuring margins especially for US pork producers.

Which US communities are most affected by Chinese, EU, and NAFTA retaliatory tariffs?

Brookings | Posted on October 10, 2018

The United States’ three largest trading partners—China, the European Union (EU), and NAFTA (Canada and Mexico)—have implemented tariffs on over $120 billion of U.S. exports.This short analysis reviews the exposure local communities have to these trade policy changes. It draws on the Export Monitor, a unique dataset developed as part of the Global Cities Initiative, to estimate which local and regional economies rely the most on export industries targeted by retaliatory tariffs. Of course, the U.S.-imposed tariffs on imports also affect cities, regions, and states—as well as the firms, workers, and consumers within them.China, the EU, and the NAFTA countries have now implemented tariffs on about $121 billion worth of U.S. exports. While that number has grown rapidly over the past several months, it still only represents about 6.1 percent of the $2 trillion in total U.S. goods and services exports in 2017. Our analysis indicates China’s retaliatory stance is strongest, accounting for $101.4 billion of the U.S. exports implicated by tariffs. We also estimate $12.8 billion of U.S. exports under Canadian tariffs, $3.5 billion under Mexican tariffs, and $3.3 billion under EU tariffs.Nationally, the tariffs touch about 6.1 percent of exports. But there is significant local variation across the 962 metropolitan areas, micropolitan areas, and rural geographies in our Export Monitor database, from a low of 0.3 percent of exports and 0.2 percent of export-supported jobs in Los Alamos, N.M. to a high of 26.1 percent of exports and 24.1 percent of export-supported jobs in Blytheville, Ark.

Abrupt release of hundreds of migrants in Phoenix is 'start of dam breaking'

NBC | Posted on October 10, 2018

Hundreds of migrant families seeking asylum in the U.S. were released from detention in Arizona this week without warning and without instructions on where to go, how to find relatives or travel to their court hearings. A senior Department of Homeland Security official told NBC News the release is "the start of a dam breaking" as family detention facilities, which now hold thousands of migrants, reach capacity.U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement officers are releasing the families from detention en masse without following their usual protocol that ensures immigrants have a means to travel to their court hearing and reunite with potential relatives in the U.S.The adults have ankle monitors to track their whereabouts until their scheduled court date to make their case before a judge for asylum.

Disqualified from SNAP? SAM I Am!

OFW Law | Posted on October 10, 2018

Owners of retail food stores permanently disqualified from participation in the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) are saddled with serious consequences in addition to the loss of the store’s ability to accept food stamp benefits (EBT). After USDA’s Food & Nutrition Service (FNS) permanently disqualifies a store, the agency promptly searches its SNAP retailer database to determine if the disqualified store’s shareholders have ownership interests in other SNAP-authorized stores. A store whose owner has been permanently disqualified from SNAP based on trafficking activity at another store will soon receive a letter from FNS advising that their SNAP authorization will be withdrawn based on the lack of business integrity of the owner. Owners will also not be able to sell or transfer a permanently disqualified store without being subject to a substantial transfer penalty. The transfer civil money penalty (CMP) imposed by FNS is calculated using a complicated formula and can exceed $113,000 – an amount greater than the CMP that FNS can assess against a store in lieu of permanent disqualification from trafficking.

Make Your Voice Heard: Uphold the Integrity of Milk!

American Dairy Coalition | Posted on October 10, 2018

As a branch of the American Dairy Coalition (ADC), the Protecting Milk Integrity Initiative works to advocate for the proper use of federally standardized terms established for the word “milk” on product labels. In an effort to provide clarity and consistency for consumers across the nation, ADC is urging the FDA to stop allowing the wrongful use of the word “milk” in branding on non-milk, plant-based alternative products. It is time to end this confusion and protect the nutritious, wholesome and pure reputation of milk that is confirmed in the current FDA Standard of Identity. ADC is urging the FDA to stop allowing the wrongful use of the word “milk” on non-milk, plant-based alternative products labels. In an effort to end confusion and protect the nutritious, wholesome and pure reputation of milk, ADC requests the administration upholds the current standard of identity for milk. The dairy industry is encouraged to submit their individual comments to FDA. ​Here's what you need to do:1. Submit your comments here. The deadline is October 11th, 2018. ​    You can view a comprehensive list of talking points here.


From the front lines of NAFTA, more relief than rejoicing

NPR | Posted on October 9, 2018

Doyle Lentz, a farmer in North Dakota whose crops include wheat and barley, talked about similar concerns, even though he does see a particular benefit for wheat farmers in the new deal.American farmers had been frustrated by Canada's policy of classifying all U.S. wheat as low-quality (and therefore low-price). The new deal prohibits that low-quality classification, essentially allowing U.S. farmers to sell more wheat to Canada at fairer prices. That's good news, Lentz says. But threatening to tear the deal up in order to improve it was "not worth the risk," he believes."I don't think there was any need to open NAFTA from an agriculture standpoint," he says. "Most of these things could have been remedied by just having an open communication and dialogue ... I guess I'm more of the belief that's how you do negotiations and trade than, you know, hold a gun to somebody's head."It's not just farmers who are more relieved than rejoicing.Analysts and former policymakers echoed a similar note of relief.The "best thing that can be said about the new agreement" is that it might bring certainty, says Michael Camuñez, the president and CEO of Monarch Global Strategies and a former assistant secretary of commerce under President Obama. Camuñez notes the uncertainty, itself, was "totally self-inflicted.""I don't want to sound like a naysayer," he says. "I'm very happy that this agreement has been reached. I hope it will bring more stability and certainty than we've had for ... the last 16 months."

The Farm Bill Stalemate, Part 2: The SNAP Question

Farm Doc Daily | Posted on October 7, 2018

The September 30th expiration date for the Agricultural Act of 2014 has passed and conference negotiations appear no closer to completion; a period of uncertainty likely to last through at least a lame-duck session after the November elections.  Part 1 of this series on the farm bill stalemate reviewed the economic situation for the major supported commodities, as well as the level of assistance they are likely to receive for the 2018 crop.  In Part 2, we explore the issues concerning the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) and how they are contributing to the stalemate.  The issues surrounding SNAP offer an important contrast to those discussed in Part 1 for covered commodities.SNAP is considered an automatic stabilizer; a program that is counter-cyclical to the economy at large because it responds to downturns, particularly in the labor market (Edmiston 2018; Ganong and Liebman 2013).  SNAP benefits are for the purchase of food.  By helping with shortfalls between needs and resources, research finds that SNAP can help alleviate food insecurity for adults and children, improve health outcomes and lift some families out of poverty (Ziliak 2016).  Most SNAP households (84%) have monthly incomes below the Federal poverty guidelines and nearly half (43%) have monthly income that is less than or equal to 50% of poverty (Oliveria et al., 2018).  In 2014, SNAP benefits have been estimated to have raised 4.7 million people out of poverty, including 2.1 million children (Oliveira et al., 2018).  Nearly two-thirds of SNAP participants are children or elderly and non-elderly adults with disabilities; they receive 60% of SNAP benefits.  More than 30% of all SNAP households had earned income and are considered “working poor” (Oliveira et al., 2018).

Devin Nunes Isn’t the Only Dairy Farmer Souring On California

Bloomberg | Posted on October 7, 2018

You may notice a dip in California milk production since 2014, though. It’s not a fluke! Earlier this week came the news, for example, that the family of Tulare County’s most famous dairy farmer, U.S. Representative Devin Nunes, had quietly moved its operations to northwestern Iowa a decade ago. But while traveling through Iowa and South Dakota last month, I heard enough about the recruiting and arrival of California dairy farmers beset by drought and other hassles to know that it is of agricultural and economic significance.It is also of technological significance, given that new and improved ways of ventilating dairy barns have been among the biggest drivers of the move. 

Court denies USDA motion to dismiss organic lawsuit

Capital Press | Posted on October 7, 2018

A ruling by the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia will allow a lawsuit by the Organic Trade Association against USDA over its withdrawal of the Organic Livestock and Poultry Practices rule to proceed. U.S. District Judge Rosemary M. Collyer on Thursday denied USDA’s petition to dismiss the lawsuit and granted OTA’s request for oral arguments at a date and time to be determined.The rule, finalized in the waning days of the Obama administration, included new standards for raising, transporting and slaughtering organic animals.USDA withdrew the rule in March, stating the rule exceeds the agency’s statutory authority under the National Organic Program and could have a negative effect on voluntary participation in the program.

Hemp, on the Brink of Being Legal, Still Faces Challenges

Pew Trust | Posted on October 4, 2018

It’s a giddy time for the U.S. hemp industry. Farmers are planting more acres. Businesses are selling more products. And with Congress on the brink of fully legalizing hemp, industry insiders are eagerly anticipating a boom. But even if the legalization provisions in the 2018 farm bill pass, hemp will remain a tightly regulated crop facing plenty of regulatory and legal challenges. As the more than 30 states that operate hemp pilot programs have discovered, it’s not easy to oversee a plant that’s used to make everything from car parts to hand cream and that, except for the chemical that produces a high, is identical to marijuana — which the federal government still classifies as a dangerous drug.It could take one or two years for federal officials to craft regulations for hemp, said Tim Gordon, president of the Colorado Hemp Industries Association. “Just because the farm bill passes doesn’t mean hemp is suddenly legal and everything’s great.”