Legislative Watch: USDA predicts record ag exports; RSC proposes cuts to agriculture; Lift the Cuba embargo.

P. Scott Shearer, Vice President

May 28, 2021

4 Min Read

USDA announced Wednesday that it would not appeal the March court decision that vacated the provision of the 2019 New Swine Inspection System that allowed increased line speed in pork processing plants. The court had given USDA 90 days to respond to the ruling.

The National Pork Producers Council (NPPC) earlier this week asked USDA to appeal the court ruling. NPPC said if the ruling stands, it will negatively impact pork producers' bottom line and "undermine" pork industry competition.

NPPC cited a study by Professor Dermot Hayes of Iowa State University that found the ruling would equate to a 2.5% loss in pork packing capacity and an $80 million decline in producer income.

NPPC President Jen Soren said in a press release, "With the stroke of a judge's pen, the lives of many hog farmers will be upended if this misguided ruling takes effect.  The lost revenue projected by Dr. Hayes is not theoretical; it is based on breeding decisions made several month ago and pigs already in the production cycle that will go to market in a few months." 

In March, U.S. District Judge Joan Ericksen in Minnesota ruled in the case United Food and Commercial Workers Union, Local No. 663 v. U.S. Department of Agriculture that USDA acted unlawfully when it eliminated limits on the speeds at which plants run their slaughter lines for pork without considering the increased risk of injury to plant workers. 

USDA predicts record ag exports

The USDA's Economic Research Service's (ERS) latest "Outlook for U.S. Agricultural Trade" projects FY '21 U.S. agricultural exports at a record $164.0 billion, an increase of $7.0 billion over ERS' February forecast. This is the result of increased demand from China and other countries for U.S. corn, soybeans, livestock, poultry, dairy products and tree nuts. 

The latest forecast for FY '21 agricultural exports includes:

  • Grain and feed at a record $41.2 billion including corn at $17.2 billion, sorghum at $2.4 billion, wheat at $6.9 billion, rice at $2 billion, feed and fodder at $8.1 billion.

  • Oilseed and oilseed products at a record $40.6 billion with soybeans at $28.9 billion.

  • Cotton at $6.1 billion.

  • Livestock, poultry, and dairy at $34.2 billion with beef at $7.6 billion, pork at $7.2 billion, poultry and poultry products at $5.5 billion, and dairy at $7.0 billion.

  • Horticultural exports at $34.1 billion.

Agricultural imports are projected at $141.8 billion. ERS forecasts increased livestock, horticultural, and sugar and tropical products.

China will be the largest market for U.S. agricultural exports at $35 billion. Other key markets are Canada, Mexico, Japan, the European Union, and South Korea.

RSC proposes cuts to agriculture

The Republican Study Committee (RSC) is proposing cutting federal spending by $14 trillion over 10 years, including agriculture. The RCS' membership is nearly three-fourths of the House Republicans.

The RSC's proposed cuts in agriculture include:

  • Eliminate the Price Loss Coverage (PLC) and Agricultural Risk Coverage (ARC) programs.

  • Reduce government support for crop insurance.

  • Phase out the sugar program.

  • Eliminate the milk program.

  • Eliminate Agricultural Marketing Orders.

  • Prohibit new enrollments in the Conservation Reserve Program (CRP) and the Conservation Stewardship Program.

It also proposes decoupling the farm programs and nutrition programs, arguing that each should stand on its own. History shows that when we have tried to pass a farm bill without nutrition programs, it fails.

Lift the Cuba embargo

The Freedom to Export to Cuba Act introduced by Senators Jerry Moran, R-Kan., Amy Klobuchar, D-Minn., and Patrick Leahy, D-Vt., would lift the Cuba trade embargo. The legislation eliminates legal barriers to Americans doing business in Cuba and provides opportunities for increasing U.S. exports. It does not repeal provisions regarding human rights or property claims against the Cuban government

Moran, R-Kan., said, “The unilateral trade embargo on Cuba blocks our own farmers, ranchers and manufacturers from selling into a market only 90 miles from our shoreline, while foreign competitors such as China benefit at our expense. This legislation will expand market opportunities for U.S. producers by allowing them to compete on a level playing field with other countries. It is time to amend our own laws to give U.S. producers fair access to market to consumers in Cuba."

According to the senators, the U.S. International Trade Commission found that if restrictions on trade with Cuba are lifted, exports like wheat, rice, corn and soybeans could increase by 166% within five years to a total of about $800 million.

The Cuba trade embargo was authorized 60 years ago in 1961.


Source: P. Scott Shearer, who is solely responsible for the information provided, and wholly owns the information. Informa Business Media and all its subsidiaries are not responsible for any of the content contained in this information asset.

About the Author(s)

P. Scott Shearer

Vice President, Bockorny Group, Inc.

Scott Shearer is vice president of the Bockorny Group Inc., a leading bipartisan government affairs consulting firm in Washington, D.C. With more than 30 years experience in government and corporate relations in state and national arenas, he is recognized as a leader in agricultural trade issues, having served as co-chairman of the Agricultural Coalition for U.S.-China Trade and co-chairman of the Agricultural Coalition for Trade Promotion Authority. Scott was instrumental in the passage of China Permanent Normal Trade Relations and TPA. He is past chairman of the USDA-USTR Agricultural Technical Advisory Committee for Trade in Animals and Animal Products and was a member of the USAID Food Security Advisory Committee. Prior to joining the Bockorny Group, Scott served as director of national relations for Farmland Industries Inc., as well as USDA’s Deputy Assistant Secretary for Congressional Affairs (1993-96), serving as liaison for the Secretary of Agriculture and the USDA to Congress.

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