Drought Persists in the Plains

Last week, Billings Gazette writer Tom Lutey reported that, "The life had been fading from Grant Zerbe's stunted chickpeas for the better part of a month, and now drought’s hot breath was burning through the final green inch of every plant stem. The Montana farmer’s worst growing season in 30 years was coming to a brutal end. There are few crops to harvest in the region, and with a lack of food and water, unwanted livestock are headed to auction."
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House Ag Committee Examines NAFTA- Trade Issues

Since President Trump took office in January, many in the agricultural sector have been leery of potential executive branch actions on trade, particularly with respect to China and our NAFTA trading partners.  As the NAFTA renegotiation process begins to unfold, the House Agriculture Committee held a hearing yesterday titled, "Renegotiating NAFTA: Opportunities for Agriculture."  Today's update looks at some of the issues that lawmakers highlighted at yesterday's Ag Committee hearing.
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Senate Farm Bill Hearing, Risk Management- Crop Insurance, Payment Limits, Base Acres

On Tuesday, the Senate Agriculture Committee held a Farm Bill hearing that focused on commodity, credit, and crop insurance programs.  This follows previous Farm Bill field hearings in both Kansas and Michigan, as well as Committee meetings on the farm economy, agricultural research, and conservation issues. Today’s update highlights issues that lawmakers discussed at yesterday's hearing, including crop insurance, payment limits and eligibility for farm programs, and base acres.
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Policy Change on U.S. Beef Exports to China- Early Impacts Explored

Recall that last month, trade rules regarding U.S beef exports to China were finalized.  The U.S. had not exported beef to China since 2003, and on June 30th, an update from USDA indicated that, "U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue today joined with U.S. Ambassador to China Terry Branstad to slice a Nebraska prime rib in a Beijing ceremony, formally marking the return of U.S. beef to the Chinese market after a 13-year hiatus."  Today's update highlights a recent news report describing how this important trade policy change is beginning to impact market participants.
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Budget, Appropriations Issues Continue to Unfold- Agriculture, Farm Bill

This week, the House Budget Committee unveiled, and subsequently passed, a 2018 fiscal year budget resolution.  Meanwhile, the Senate Appropriations Committee on Thursday approved its fiscal year 2018 agricultural appropriations measure.  Today's update provides additional details on these budgetary developments as the legislative process advances in anticipation of the next Farm Bill.
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Farm Lending Variables- Updated Analysis From the Kansas City Fed

On Friday, Nathan Kauffman and Matt Clark, of the Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City, penned an update titled, "Farm Lending Steady, but Risks Remain," which noted that, "Agricultural lending at commercial banks was steady in the second quarter, but risks in the farm sector continued to weigh on loan growth and credit conditions."  Today's post looks at the Kansas City Fed article in more detail.
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Drought in High Plains- “Simple Survival” a Goal for Some

Associated Press writer Blake Nicholson reported on Saturday that, "Drought in North Dakota is laying waste to fields of normally bountiful food and hay crops and searing pastures that typically would be home to multitudes of grazing cattle. Some longtime farmers and ranchers say it’s the worst conditions they’ve seen in decades — possibly their lifetimes — and simple survival has become their goal as a dry summer drags on without a raincloud in sight."
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Spending and Budgetary Issues- Agriculture, Farm Bill

Today's update looks at recent spending and budgetary issues impacting agriculture and the Farm Bill.  The House Appropriations Committee this week passed the fiscal year 2018 appropriations bill for USDA.  Meanwhile, recent reporting from Politico indicated that House Agriculture Committee Chairman Mike Conaway (R., Tex.) reached a "handshake agreement" with House Budget Chairwoman Diane Black (R., Tenn.) on potential cuts to ag and nutrition programs.  And, the Congressional Budget Office recently released its latest baseline for farm programs.
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