Chinese flag flanked by U.S. flags Getty Images/Feng Li

China trade war on hold

Legislative Watch: China-U.S. trade war on hold; House farm bill vote coming; groups not happy with first failure; meat inspection appointees named; WOTUS definition coming.

The potential trade war with China has been put on hold as the U.S.-China trade talks reached a commitment by China to “significantly increase” its purchases of agriculture and energy products while seeking to address the U.S. concerns about protection of intellectual property.

A U.S. delegation is headed to China to work out the details of the agreement. Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue says the administration would like for China to buy an additional $25 billion of U.S. agricultural products thus doubling its current level of imports ($20 billion).

Secretary of the Treasury Steve Mnuchin, on Fox News Sunday, says the administration expects to see “35 to 45% increases in agriculture this year alone. In energy, doubling the energy purchases.”

Earlier President Trump threatened to impose $150 billion in tariffs against China for intellectual property theft.

House to vote again on farm bill in June
The Republican leadership has announced the House of Representatives will vote again on the House farm bill no later than June 22 after the House considers immigration legislation. A number of Republicans voted against the farm bill last week to force a vote on immigration.

Congressman Mike Conaway (R-TX), chairman of the House Agriculture Committee, says the bill will not be changed before the second vote.

Ag groups react to farm bill failure
The agriculture community is reminding Congress on the importance of enacting a farm bill this year. Following the House of Representatives failure to pass the farm bill last week, a number of agricultural organizations urged the House to pass the farm bill as soon as possible.

American Farm Bureau Federation: “We are already starting to hear from farmers across the nation, many of whom are perplexed and outraged at this morning’s vote. They are facing very real financial challenges. We call on all members of Congress not to use farmers and ranchers as pawns in a political game. The risk management tools of the farm bill are too important, particularly at a time of depressed farm prices. We urge the House to pass H.R. 2 as soon as possible.”

National Cattlemen’s Beef Association: “Today’s vote on the 2018 House farm bill is a disappointing outcome for American cattlemen and women. It is unfortunate that some in Congress chose not to stand with the farmers and ranchers who work hard every day to feed families in the United States and around the world. The bill addresses a number of priorities for producers, including an expanded foot-and-mouth disease vaccine bank, funding for environmental stewardship initiatives and trade promotion programs. It is critical that Congress pass a new farm bill before Sept. 30 to provide certainty for cattle and beef producers. We will continue to work with our allies in Congress to make that happen.”

American Soybean Association: “Plain and simple: the farm bill matters. U.S. soybean growers and everyone involved in agriculture depend on this vital piece of legislation. This bill provides a farm safety net, improves conservation, places value on exports and feeds our nation. Soybean growers are facing a down farm economy and significant export uncertainty, and are relying on a strong farm bill. The House failure to pass a farm bill only adds to the uncertainty across rural America.”

National Association of Wheat Growers: “NAWG is disappointed that the farm bill reauthorization process has stalled. Between low commodity prices, a suffering ag economy, extreme weather conditions and disease, growers need access to a strong farm bill after Sept. 30. Congress needs to enact a farm bill before the current one expires to give farmers long-term certainty that a safety net will be available through these uncertain and difficult economic conditions.”

National Corn Growers Association: “Passing a farm bill through the House is the first, critical step in getting a new bill. NCGA urges House leaders to quickly find a way forward to pass a new farm bill as soon as possible. Depressed commodity prices, the increasing threat of a trade war, and disruptions in the ethanol market are creating uncertainty across rural America. Our farmers need clarity on the prospects of a new farm bill signed into law this year. While today’s action is disappointing, we will continue to work with members of Congress and advocate for a strong farm bill that can be signed into law this year.”

New members appointed to USDA Meat and Poultry Inspection Committee
Five new members were recently appointed by Secretary Perdue to the USDA’s National Advisory Committee on Meat and Poultry Inspection. The new members are Thomas Gremillion, Consumer Federation of America; James Jenkins, Louisiana Department of Agriculture and Forestry; Amilton De Mello, University of Nevada; Tina Rendon, Pilgrim’s Pride Corp.; and Kimberly Rice, U.S. Foods.

Twelve members were reappointed: Manpreet Singh, University of Georgia; Randall K. Phebus, Kansas State University; Patricia Curtis, Auburn University; Brian Sapp, White Oak Pastures; Sherri Jenkins, JBS USA; Betsy Booren, Olsson Frank Weeda Terman Matz PC; Alice Johnson, Butterball; Michael Crupain, Dr. Oz Show; Tanya Roberts, Center for Foodborne Illness Research and Prevention; Kurt Brandt, United Food and Commercial Workers Union; Dustin Oedekoven, state of South Dakota; and Kryzsztof Mazurczak, state of Illinois.

The committee was established in 1971 to advise Food Safety and Inspection Service on food safety concerns and other matters affecting federal and state inspection program activities.

New WOTUS definition coming
Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Scott Pruitt recently told the Senate Interior, Environment, and Related Agencies Appropriations Subcommittee that he plans to release a new definition of the “waters of the United States” by the end of May. He hopes to have the new definition finalized by the end of the year which would end the WOTUS rule adopted during the Obama administration.

TAGS: Regulatory
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