China sets import quotas for grains
China has set its 2018 low-tariff import quotas for corn, wheat and rice at levels basically in line with this year's quotas. According to a statement from the National Development and Reform Commission the quotas are set at the following levels: Corn 7.20 MMT, Wheat 9.64 MMT, and Rice 5.32 MMT. These quotas are the subject of a World Trade Organization case brought by the U.S., who argues they limit its imports of grains and violate China's global trade obligations.
NAFTA 2.0 update
Top Trump administration officials have reportedly told Canada and Mexico there is "no give" on the part of the U.S. when it comes to negotiations, but veteran trade policy observers say this is yet another one of the Trump team's negotiating tactics. Meanwhile, USDA Secretary Sonny Perdue revealed yesterday in Indianapolis that he met with President Donald Trump, U.S. Trade Representative (USTR) Bob Lighthizer, Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross and others on Tuesday for an update on NAFTA 2.0. Perdue said they believe "all three countries really want a deal at the end of the day." Like others, including Ross, Perdue said negotiations are still in the early stages and that most of the hard lifts in decisions will come in the waning days of talks.
Ag guest-worker bill clears panel
A bill pushed by Rep. Bob Goodlatte (R-Va.) that would create a new H-2C program barely advanced out of the House Judiciary Committee Wednesday, 17-16. The panel also voted to back legislation by Rep. Lamar Smith (R-Texas) on a 20-10 party-line that would mandate employers use the E-verify electronic system to check a potential employee's legal status. Republicans argue it would allow agricultural employers to hire tens of thousands of foreign laborers, but Democrats say it would drive down wages to the detriment of American workers. Even if the bill gets through the House, by no means a certainty, Senate Democrats would likely filibuster the measure because of major opposition to parts of the bill.
ARC yield changes proposed
Senators Joni Ernst (R-Iowa) and Heidi Heitkamp (D-N.D.) introduced a bipartisan proposal intended to address complaints about payment disparities in the Agriculture Risk Coverage (ARC) program. The bill would not alter the formula for ARC revenue but it does propose several changes. One change would base county yields on Risk Management Agency data. Another change would allow Farm Service Agency state committees to adjust yield data when there are unusual variations.
U.S. pork to hit online Chinese market via Smithfield Foods and JD.com
For the first time, Smithfield Foods, a U.S. subsidiary of WH Group Ltd., will sell its U.S. pork online to China. It will do so via the online retailer JD.com Inc. China's e-commerce market is massive and its growing middle class is increasing seeking branded and imported meat products. The fresh food division of JD.com is China's largest online retailer of pork and it has seen tremendous growth in direct meat sales, with imported meat making up more than a third of its sales. For the first half of 2017, the retailer saw direct sales of meats surge 780% over last year.
Brazil dominating China's soybean imports so far this year
Official Chinese customs data shows that of the nearly 8.113 MMT of soybeans China imported last month, 5.938 MMT came from Brazil. The U.S. supplied just 937,262 MT of the tally. For the first nine months of the year, Brazil has shipped China more than 42.850 MMT of soybeans, a 20% gain from year ago, versus the U.S.'s 20.679 MMT, up 14.8% from year-ago. But the U.S.'s main shipping season lies ahead.
China steps up cotton imports
China imported 92,847 MT of cotton in September, a 53.2% surge from last year at this point, with Australia as its lead supplier. Between January and September, China has imported a total of 905,371 MT of the fiber, with the U.S. supplying nearly half of that total. So far this calendar year, China's imports are up 37.5% from the year prior. This has led to a dramatic increase in U.S. shipments to Beijing.
Farm bill debate could go into 2019 or later
Sources ProFarmer recently polled on the farm bill said the timeline for the next farm bill could slip into 2019, or later, though most of them quickly said they hope they are wrong. Not all the respondents were in that camp, but even those who said one will get done in 2018 indicated getting the final bill will take well into the year — possibly post-election. Why? Getting a farm bill through the House will be a struggle as Republican support for farm bills has been waning and there is the added challenge of an election year. Getting the measure through the Senate may depend on whether Democratic senators want a bill or an issue, with politics and election pressures again coming into play.
Monsanto sues Arkansas plant board
Monsanto went after Arkansas agricultural officials last Friday seeking to block a decision prohibiting the use of dicamba during the summer.