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Vilsack: China Living Up to Trade Deal

Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack says China is making good on its promises in the phase one trade deal it signed with the U.S. last year. CNBC says Vilsack points out the agreement allows market conditions to determine how much it has to buy from American farmers. COVID-19 qualifies as a market condition that would legitimately impact how much China has to buy under the agreement. In the first year of the deal, China imported $100 billion of the U.S. goods agreed to in the deal; that’s 58 percent of the $173.1 billion-goal set in 2020. However, the secretary says he’s upbeat on Chinese progress. “I think they still have a few days to be able to meet the phase one, year one goal,” Vilsack says. “Whether they meet the exact amount, I think, is in question because of the pandemic.” The secretary will tackle a lot of challenges in the world of U.S. ag, including the COVID-19-era rise in hunger, as well as a sharp drop in restaurant demand for food products.


USTR Nominee Testifies Before Senate Finance Committee

Katherine Tai, President Biden’s nominee for U.S. Trade Representative, testified at a confirmation hearing before the Senate Finance Committee last week. Politico says she addressed concerns that the Biden Administration “will stand still” on trade policy. Senators in both parties pushed Tai on the administration’s pledge that it wouldn’t negotiate new trade deals until it gets the domestic economic stimulus package it wants from Congress. The committee’s Ranking Member Mike Crapo (CRAH-poh) of Idaho told Tai, “You must make the president understand that trade is a domestic priority.” The USTR nominee says she’ll stay busy on trade policy but didn’t stake out concrete positions on the major questions facing the agency. A potential trade deal with the United Kingdom is one of those questions, as a deal must get signed by July 1 to qualify for fast-track treatment under the trade promotion authority. To meet that deadline, the USTR would need to formally notify Congress by April 1 of its intent to sign a pact. “If I’m confirmed, I’ll need to review the progress and conversations so far during the talks with the U.K.,” she said to the committee members. Tai was also noncommittal about restarting negotiations on a new trade deal in the Asia-Pacific after former President Trump pulled the country out of the Trans-Pacific Partnership.


Scott and Thompson Agree/Disagree on Climate Change

The tone is set on the climate change debate in the House Agriculture Committee, and it took place during the committee’s first hearing. Committee Chair David Scott says changes in weather patterns bring serious risks to production agriculture, forest resources, and the overall economy. He says, “These risks cannot be understated.” He also says the USDA’s Economic Research Service notes that climate change will likely affect risk-management tools, financial markets, and America’s global food security, as well as many other areas. Ranking Member G.T Thompson says agriculture has been on the menu when it comes to climate change, noting that last week’s hearing now puts agriculture at the table. The Hagstrom Report says Thompson wants to be very clear on his position, which is that “The climate is changing, the Earth’s temperature is rising, and I trust the science that global industrial activity has contributed to the issue.” Thompson says we should be reducing global emissions because it’s the right thing to do. “It requires smart science-based policies,” Thompson adds. “But the apocalyptic narrative of the world coming to an end within a decade is not evidence-based and isn’t supported by science.”


Soybean Growers Approve 2021 Resolutions

American Soybean Association members completed the organization’s annual resolutions process to set the tone and direction for policy advocating in the months ahead. The organization aims each year to build on sound existing resolutions by adapting where needed and supplementing with new resolutions to address emerging priorities. A couple of priorities that the ASA will be focusing on more often in 2021 is climate and conservation. Kevin Scott is the President of the ASA and a soybean farmer from South Dakota. “Throughout this year’s document, we recognize the role that climate and conservation will play in policy discussions in 2021; from thoughtfully addressing development of public and private ecosystem services markets to promoting precision agriculture technology as a tool to improve environmental stewardship while providing economic returns to growers,” Scott says. The many resolutions they approved include Trade Promotion Authority reauthorization, a sufficiently funded Commodity Credit Corporation account to ensure timely benefits for farmers, and a strong farm safety net and crop insurance program, including expanding support for double-crop soybean coverage. They also want to see the development of voluntary carbon markets that incentivize agricultural conservation and significant increases in rural infrastructure funding.  


“Thank You Farmers” Project Donations Reach $3 Million

Culver’s created the “Thank You Farmers Project” back in 2013 and has raised a lot of money since then. The donation total recently hit $3 million, and the funds go to support agricultural education. The Thank you Farmers Project is about more than showing appreciation for the hard work of today’s farmers. It’s also about ensuring America has enough food to serve its growing population by supporting agricultural education efforts that encourage smart farming. One way that Culver’s does this is by supporting FFA. “Today’s FFA members are tomorrow’s ag leaders,” says Allison Wedig, Culver’s marketing specialist and a former Wisconsin FFA state president. “Many of these students will go on to dedicate their careers to ensuring a sustainable future food supply, so we want to support them and give them a forum to share their voices and passions.” One of the many ways that Culver’s supports FFA is through the annual FFA Essay Contest that just launched on February 22. As in the past six years of the contest, three winners will receive funds for their FFA chapters, including $7,500 for first place, $5,000 for second place, and $2,500 for third. Go to for more information. The deadline is April 19.


Corn and Wheat Exports Sales Drop to Marketing Year Lows

The USDA says export sales of corn and wheat dropped to marketing-year lows last week while soybean sales plunged. Corn sales to overseas buyers dropped to 453,300 metric tons in the seven days that ended on February 18. That’s down 55 percent from the previous week and 85 percent from the previous four-week average. It’s also the lowest point since the 2020-2021 marketing year began last September 1. Peru was the biggest buyer at over 160,000 metric tons, followed by Vietnam and Japan. Unknown countries canceled shipments of just over 300,000 metric tons. Total exports fell 14 percent to 1.19 million metric tons. Wheat sales totaled 167,700 metric tons, down 58 percent week-to-week and 67 percent from the four-week average, the lowest level since the marketing year got started. Soybean sales to offshore buyers plunged to 167,900 metric tons, 63 percent lower than the prior week and 72 percent from the four-week average. The Netherlands was the top buyer at 139,100 metric tons, followed by Japan and Germany.

SOURCE: NAFB News Service

By Brian Allmer - The BARN

Brian Allmer & the BARN are members of the National Association of Farm Broadcasting (NAFB), the Colorado FFA Foundation, the Colorado 4H Foundation, the Colorado Farm Show Marketing Committee, 1867 Club Board Member, Denver Ag & Livestock Club Member, the Weld County Fair Board, the Briggsdale FFA Advisory Council, Briggsdale 4H Club Beef Leader & Founder / Coordinator of the Briggsdale Classic Open Jackpot Show.