After President Trump’s recent comments on the possibility of the United States rejoining the Trans-Pacific Partnership trade agreement, a group of 25 Republican Senators sent a letter urging him to consider rejoining the trade pact. Sens. Steve Daines (R-MT) and Mike Rounds (R-SD) organized the letter.
The Senators say, “increased economic engagement with the 11 nations currently in the TPP has the potential to substantially improve the competitiveness of U.S. businesses, support millions of U.S. jobs, increase U.S. exports, increase wages, fully unleash America’s energy potential and benefit consumers. Increasing access to a region and market that has a population of nearly 500 million can create widespread benefits to the U.S. economy.”
They also say, “Further, TPP can serve as a way to strengthen ties with our allies in the region, counter the influence of the People’s Republic of China, and increase pressure on the PRC to adopt substantive and positive economic reforms.”
Trump withdrew from TPP in January 2017, however, the remaining 11 TPP countries have reached an agreement and plan to sign the new trade agreement next week.
Northey confirmed as undersecretary for farm production
After a four-month delay, the U.S. Senate has confirmed Bill Northey as USDA’s undersecretary for Farm Production and Conservation. Northey will oversee the Farm Service Agency, Risk Management Agency, and Natural Resources Conservation Service.
Northey in a statement says, “While this process has taken longer than expected, I remain as excited as ever to work with Secretary Perdue and the staff at USDA to support our nation’s farmers and ranchers.
Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) had placed a hold on Northey’s nomination because of his strong objections to the Renewable Fuels Standard and his desire for changes to the RFS. Cruz, along with ethanol supporters, Sens. Charles Grassley (R-IA) and Joni Ernst (R-IA), met with President Trump and administration officials on Tuesday to discuss ethanol policy but no agreement was reached on changes to the RFS.
Northey is a former president of the National Corn Growers Association and has been serving as Iowa secretary of agriculture for the past 11 years. He received strong support from state and national agricultural organizations.
Doud confirmed as chief ag negotiator
The Senate yesterday confirmed Gregg Doud to be U.S. Trade Representative’s chief agricultural negotiator. U.S. agricultural groups and businesses have been waiting on this critical position to be confirmed with the importance of the current North American Free Trade Agreement renegotiations. Doud was strongly supported by the agricultural community.
Doud has worked on numerous agricultural trade issues when serving as a senior staff member of the Senate Agriculture Committee and chief economist for the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association. He currently is president of the Commodity Markets Council and holds a bachelor’s and master’s from Kansas State University.
USDA’s forecasts lower net farm income and record meat and poultry production
Net farm income is dropping, agricultural exports remain steady, and farmers will produce record amounts of meat, poultry and milk in 2018. These are some of the latest projections from USDA’s Agricultural Outlook Forum last week. Projections include:
• Net farm income for 2018 is estimated to drop to $59.5 billion or $4.3 billion (6.7%) below last year. This is the lowest net farm income level in nominal dollar terms since 2006.
• Fiscal year 2018 agricultural exports are estimated at $139.5 billion with the U.S. agricultural trade surplus at $21 billion.
• Farmers are expected to plant 90 million acres of corn with the average price estimated at $3.40 per bushel.
• Soybean plantings are estimated at 90 million acres with a projected average price of $9.25 per bushel.
• Wheat acreage is expected to increase 1.1% to 46.5 million acres with an average price forecast at $4.70 per bushel.
• Cotton acres are expected to reach 13.3 million acres, an increase of 5.6%, with price projected at 64 cents per pound, a decline of 9% from last year.
• Meat and poultry production is forecast to reach 104 billion pounds in 2018 with increases in beef, pork and broiler production.
• Hog prices are estimated to be $48 per hundredweight.
• Fed steer prices are projected to drop to $119.25 per hundredweight.
• The debt-to-asset ratio is forecast at 13% for 2018.
• Farm debt is projected to increase by $3.8 billion to $388.9 billion.