Low Farm Prices Impacting Ag Economy– Will Executive Branch Trade Policy Help?

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.
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Lawmakers Discuss Farm Bill Issues

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.
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Farm Bill: Cotton Issues a Significant Concern

The House Ag Committee's Subcommittee on General Farm Commodities and Risk Management held its second policy related Farm Bill hearing on Tuesday, as lawmakers continue their examination of agricultural programs in advance of the next Farm Bill. Following a farm policy related hearing last week that focused mostly on perspectives from corn, soybean and wheat growers, lawmakers on Tuesday heard perspectives from representatives of the cotton, rice, peanut, sunflower and sugar industries. Today's update focuses on the cotton issues that were discussed on Tuesday.
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House Ag Committee Examines Livestock, Dairy Issues

Last Tuesday, the House Ag Committee’s Subcommittee on Livestock and Foreign Agriculture held a hearing to examine perspectives from the U.S. livestock sector. And on Wednesday, the full Committee took a closer look at economic and policy issues impacting the U.S. dairy sector. The meetings were part of the Committee’s ongoing series of hearings that are setting the stage for the next farm bill. Today's update provides a brief look at some of the highlights from the hearings last week.
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House Ag Subcommittee Hearing: Specialty Crops

A news release from the House Agriculture Committee on Thursday indicated that, "[T]he Subcommittee on Biotechnology, Horticulture, and Research, held a hearing to evaluate the effectiveness of the 2014 Farm Bill programs aimed at benefiting specialty crop production." The meeting was part of the Committee's ongoing series of hearings that are setting the stage for the next farm bill. Although not under the Committees's jurisdiction, immigration and labor issues were also highlighted.
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Farm Bill: Senate Ag Committee Hearing, Chairman Conaway Speech at USDA Forum

Following on the heels of the House Agriculture Committee, which held its first Farm Bill hearing earlier this month, the Senate Ag Committee of the 115th Congress convened its first Farm Bill discussion on Thursday in Manhattan, Kansas. Committee Chairman Pat Roberts (R., Kan.) explained that, "We start the journey to a successful and timely 2018 Farm Bill in the Heartland, because that is where it matters most.." Also on Thursday, House Ag Committee Chairman Mike Conaway (R., Tex.) addressed attendees at USDA’s Agricultural Outlook Forum in Arlington, Virginia. Today's update provides a brief overview of testimony provided during last week's Senate Ag Committee discussion, with a specific focus on trade issues and crop insurance; as well highlights from Chairman Conaway's speech.
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115th Congress Starts Farm Bill Discussions by Focusing on the Farm Economy

The House Agriculture Committee of the 115th Congress began laying the ground work for the next Farm Bill yesterday by holding a hearing to "review the economic challenges facing rural America." Although the majority of federal agricultural appropriations are related to nutrition issues, yesterday's hearing signaled that the rural and farm economy are priorities for the Committee and current economic conditions in the heartland "must be front and center" as the Farm Bill process begins.
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