News & Media

Market Briefs for September 27, 2017

Report defends U.S. farm programs
A comprehensive study by Brandon Willis, a lawyer, academic, and former administrator of USDA's Risk Management Agency (RMA), examined the implications of the Heritage Foundation recommendations to eliminate the farm bill's safety net, deeply cut and phase out crop insurance, make unilateral concessions in the context of the World Trade Organization (WTO), and repeal U.S. domestic trade laws. He called the report flawed because it "selectively uses data" to draw certain conclusions.

NAFTA 2.0 talks update
The chief U.S. North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) negotiator said talks are progressing at a rapid pace, despite a lack of final U.S. proposals in several contentious areas. "We've been working very hard, so I don't see a problem," John Melle, assistant U.S. trade representative for the Western Hemisphere, said. "We're moving across the board, so it's very ambitious." On Sunday, Canada's chief NAFTA negotiator Steve Verheul said he did not expect the U.S. to make any proposals in Ottawa on sensitive areas. The Ottawa-based round finished said his week, and the three countries have four more rounds scheduled this year in the hopes of reaching a deal by December.

The bulk of China's bean buys came from Brazil in August
China imported nearly 8.448 MMT of soybeans in August, a 10.12% gain from year-ago. Brazil supplied 6.079 MMT of this business followed by Argentina at 1.379 MMT and Uruguay at 762,941 MT. But next month's data should reflect more of a shift to U.S. supplies if daily sales announcements are any indication. From January through August, China has brought in more than 63.337 MMT of the oilseed, a 15.85% gain from year-ago. Brazil has made up 58.3% of these shipments, while the U.S. has supplied 31.2% of the business.

WTO grants U.S. request for probe of Chinese ag tariffs
The World Trade Organization granted the Trump administration's request to investigate whether Chinese trade policies violate international trade rules during a Sept. 22 meeting in Geneva. Over the next year, the WTO will evaluate U.S. allegations that China imposed "impermissible" restrictions on farm imports, failed to provide sufficient information about its import quantities, and didn't disclose changes to those import quotas. Should the WTO rule China's tariff-rate quotas (TRQ) policies violate international rules, Beijing could be forced to accept increased amounts of U.S. grain imports or face retaliation from Washington.

Plant Board Seeks comments on dicamba changes in Arkansas
The Arkansas State Plant Board voted to approve regulatory changes for the application of products labeled for agricultural use that contain dicamba in Arkansas during their regularly scheduled quarterly meeting.  The regulatory changes will prohibit the use in Arkansas between April 16 – October 31.  The regulations include exemptions for the use of dicamba in pastures, rangeland, turf, ornamental, direct injection for forestry, and home use.  The approved regulations are closely aligned with the recommendations from the Dicamba Task Force and the Plant Board’s Pesticide Committee.  

The Board’s regulatory changes concerning the use of dicamba will now be subject to a 30-day public comment period which will be followed by a public hearing that will be held on November 8.  Following the public comment and public hearing period, the final proposed rule will be forwarded to the Executive Subcommittee of the Arkansas Legislative Council for final rule approval. 

Senators push for more funding of ag export promotion programs
A group of lawmakers have introduced bipartisan legislation that would double funding over the course of five years for two of USDA's export promotion programs -- the Market Access Program and Foreign Market Development Program. The measure was introduced by Senators Joe Donnely (D-Ind.), Angus King (I-Maine), Joni Ernst (R-Iowa) and Susan Collins (R-Maine). "As American farmers and ranchers are struggling with historically low commodity prices, maintaining and strengthening U.S. trade relationships around the world is critical to the survival and profitability of the agricultural community," Ernst explained, adding that these programs have "proven to be effective in expanding foreign markets for American agricultural goods."

Japan's use of corn, wheat and barley in feed up from year-ago
Corn made up 46.6% of Japan's feed rations in July, or roughly 863,768 MT of corn. This was down 0.2 points from July but up 0.4 points from year-ago. Sorghum made up 2.1% of its rations, down 0.4 points from year-ago, while wheat and barley usage were each up 0.1 points from year-ago at 1.9% and 3.6%, respectively.

U.S. may close Havana embassy over alleged sonic attack
The United States is considering closing its embassy in Havana in response to alleged sonic attacks on U.S. personnel in Cuba. "We have it under evaluation," Secretary of State Rex Tillerson told Face the Nation. At least 21 employees have suffered mysterious health issues, including hearing loss, nausea, headaches, dizziness and mild traumatic brain injuries.