Trade War Retaliation Cost Agriculture $27 Billion in Exports

Tariffs imposed on American agricultural exports in retaliation for Section 232 tariffs on steel and aluminum imports from key trading partners cost agriculture a lot of export sales. Combine that with the Section 301 tariffs on Chinese imports and China’s retaliatory actions, and it led to an overall $27 billion reduction in U.S. ag exports from mid-2018 to the end of 2019. Six trading partners, including Canada, China, the European Union, India, Mexico, and Turkey all responded to the U.S. tariffs by implementing retaliatory duties on America’s agricultural and food exports. A summary of a report from the Economic Research Service says state-level losses were largely focused in the Midwest, with Iowa, Illinois, and Kansas accounting for roughly 11 percent, 11 percent, and seven percent, respectively, of all losses. Soybeans accounted for the largest share of the total losses at 71 percent, followed by sorghum and pork. Brazil gained most of the lost U.S. soybean trade.

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Mississippi River Locks/Dams Get $829 Million for Improvements

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers is investing $829.1 million in investments for modernizing locks and dams along the Mississippi River. The funding was made available through the bipartisan Infrastructure Investment and Jobs act. “Our agriculture, manufacturing, and shipping industries rely on a functioning and efficient lock and dam system along the Mississippi River to move goods,” says Iowa Senator Chuck Grassley. The long-time Iowa senator was one of 19 Republicans to back the bipartisan infrastructure bill. The funds will help modernize and expand seven outdated locks at the most congested locations along the Upper Mississippi and Illinois Rivers. The Upper Mississippi River System transports more than 60 percent of America’s corn and soybeans. Enhancing the reliability and capacity of the seven highest-use and most-delayed locks will ensure an environmentally-conscious and safe method for transporting bulk commodities continues well into the next generation. Two billion dollars will go toward ecosystem restoration.

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NCGA Testifies Against WOTUS Changes

The National Corn Growers cautioned the EPA on Tuesday about moving forward with a rule that could give the government expanded regulatory power across American farmlands. NCGA President Chris Edgington gave testimony as the Environmental Protection Agency considers a proposed rule revising the definition of “Waters of the United States” under the Clean Water Act. The proposed rule would give the federal government leeway to assert jurisdiction over features that are remote from and carry only minor volumes of water to downstream navigable waters. “The Clean Water Act simply doesn’t allow the agencies to insert themselves into local and farmer land-use decisions in the manner that was proposed,” said Edington during testimony. “There is a limit under the CWA to the direct federal control over land-use decision and policies.” The Iowa farmer added that proper CWA policy respects the roles of each participant in the system, including landowners, citizens, and all levels of government.

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Vilsack Highlights USDA’s Market Development Efforts

Ag Secretary Tom Vilsack says his agency went to work early in 2021 on addressing supply chain disruptions the ag sector experienced during the pandemic. He identified a wide range of improvements, which produced a more diversified food system that serves farmers, ranchers, and consumers. “The COVID-19 outbreak has been tragic and heartbreaking for our communities and families, but the disruptions it allowed us an opportunity to identify and address vulnerable spots in our food system,” he says. “Those disruptions to the agricultural sector highlighted the need for our nation’s food system to be more diversified, thereby creating more options for producers and consumers while enhancing the resiliency of our food sector.” Vilsack highlighted several USDA steps, including providing $1 billion in American Rescue Plan funds for expanding independent processing capacity in the U.S. Also, $32 million in grants will help 167 meat and poultry processing facilities reach more customers by becoming federally inspected.

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FFA Members Tour California Agriculture

Earlier this month, 46 current and former state FFA officers visited California to learn about the wide variety of agriculture the state has to offer. Members recently flew into California and toured a number of the state’s agribusinesses. Stops included the largest U.S. producer of caviar, a fourth-generation ranch practicing responsible carbon farming, and many others. They also visited with California’s Secretary of Agriculture, Karen Ross, the vice-chair of California’s Water Board, and the vice president of state government affairs from Western Growers. During the second week of the tour, the FFA members visited berry farms, nurseries, a horse ranch, and a feedlot. They also went whale-watching and explored the Muir (Meer) National Forest. The young people spoke with a wide variety of agricultural experts on the trip and learned about practices they could take home to their communities. The experience was made possible through sponsorship help from John Deere and Bunge (BUN-gee).

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Brazil Coffee Crop Looking Smaller Than Expected

Brazil’s government says its farmers will harvest 55.74 million bags of coffee in 2022. That number is 16.8 percent higher than last year, but experts say that’s a smaller amount than most people in the world’s largest coffee producer were expecting. Reuters says the smaller-than-expected number is important because Brazil’s coffee production is the key to balancing global supplies. If the smaller numbers are realized, it could cause a deficit and sustain coffee prices that are currently around 10-year highs. Total production is going to fall far short of the 2020 record, the previous “on-year” crop, which was estimated at 63 million bags. Rabobank predicts that Brazil will harvest 63.5 million bags, while Hedge Point Global Markets is guessing 65.8 million bags. “It does confirm the general pessimism about the 2022 on-cycle crop,” says Ryan Delaney of Coffee Trading Academy. The worst drought in 90 years and several severe frost events hit Brazil’s coffee fields last year.