Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue visited an Iowa farm on Friday and took questions from producers. In his remarks, Secretary Perdue addressed a number of issues; today's update focuses more narrowly on his comments relating to trade and biofuels. Also, Secretary Perdue was in Arkansas on Sunday to survey flood damage with Arkansas Governor Asa Hutchinson.
Today's update looks briefly at the U.S. agricultural economy from a variety of perspectives. A recent news report has shown that some Corn Belt producers may be losing money from farming this year, while a survey of agricultural lenders this month demonstrates that many are concerned about commodity prices, liquidity and farm income. Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue has stated that U.S. farmers won't be worse off if NAFTA is renegotiated, and adverse weather conditions continue to adversely impact farmers and ranchers in the Nation's midsection.
A deal reached on Sunday to fund the federal government through September, did not include assistance for programs sought by cotton and dairy producers. House Ag Committee Chairman Mike Conaway (R., Tex.) expressed disappointment with this result and reassured farmers and ranchers that he and many of his colleagues "are fully committed to correcting this wrong and seeing them through their current economic challenges.”
During last week's tumultuous developments on trade, news reports indicated that Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue was providing President Trump with data driven advice with respect to NAFTA and agriculture, and urged him not to trigger a U.S. withdrawal from the trade accord. Nonetheless, recent remarks from a Senator from Mexico regarding corn imports, and potential NAFTA renegotiation issues means trade policy will likely remain an ongoing concern for Illinois producers and farmers throughout the U.S.
A recent article from the Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis discussed the downward economic trajectory that has impacted the U.S. farm economy in recent years. Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue, in remarks this week to USDA employees, noted that trade is an area that could help provide relief for surplus stocks. News reports yesterday indicated that President Trump could sign an executive action withdrawing the United States from the North American Free Trade Agreement; since NAFTA's implementation, U.S. agricultural trade has grown significantly. However, subsequent news developments explained that Trump had decided not to pull out of NAFTA. Many in the agricultural sector are already anxious about U.S. trade policy, yesterday's executive branch actions on trade may not alleviate ongoing concerns.
After a two week break, lawmakers returned to Washington, D.C. this week to face a variety of issues, including a Senate confirmation vote for Sonny Perdue to be the new Secretary of Agriculture, as well as a looming federal budget deadline on Friday. While on Easter recess, several lawmakers had the opportunity to discuss the next Farm Bill and agricultural policy issues with constituents. Topics included: cotton support, dairy, trade, crop insurance, and conservation policy.
The Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City released two interesting reports this month that provide timely insights into the U.S. agricultural economy. The first report took a closer look at crop inventories and agricultural finance, while the second update included recent analysis on farm lending. Meanwhile, a front page article in Friday's Wall Street Journal highlighted issues associated with America's agricultural export competitiveness in the global market.
On Wednesday, the Federal Reserve Board released its April 2017 Beige Book update, a summary of commentary on current economic conditions by Federal Reserve District. The report included several observations pertaining to the U.S. agricultural economy.
Recall that a FarmPolicyNews update last week noted that a trade dispute with Canada over dairy policies related to ultra-filtered milk is adversely impacting some dairy farms in Wisconsin, Minnesota, and New York, and some of these dairy farms could be forced out of business as a result. Today's update highlights additional news developments on the Canadian dairy dispute, including remarks on the issue from President Trump, as well as concerns the U.S. dairy sector has with exports to Mexico.
Many agricultural producers have expressed concern over the direction of executive branch trade policy since January. These apprehensions may not be universally shared in all quarters of Rural America; however, tariffs and other trade restrictions are important considerations for U.S. agriculture. Today's update looks at recent news items on trade, with a focus on corn exports, ethanol byproducts and beef.