Lawmakers Hear a Variety of Farm Bill Concerns- Localized Drought an Issue

Lawmakers are hearing a variety of Farm Bill concerns from constituents and agricultural interest groups as work on formulating policies for the reauthorization of the omnibus measure continues.   Today’s update looks at recent news articles that highlight some of these issues, including the negative ramifications of localized drought in North Dakota and parts of Iowa.
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Recent USDA Updates Provide Snapshot of Farm Economy Variables

Last week, USDA's National Agricultural Statistics Service (NASS) released three important updates that provide current insight into the state of the U.S. agricultural economy.  The releases focused on land values, cash rents, and production expenditures. Meanwhile, USDA's Economic Research Service (ERS) recently updated its monthly agricultural trade data, and on Monday, included an article related to farm household income in its Amber Waves magazine publication. As lawmakers and the executive branch continue to gather perspective in preparation for the next Farm Bill, today's post looks briefly at some of the key findings from these recent USDA updates on the farm economy.
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Farm Bill Issues- House Ag Committee “Listening Sessions” Continue, Sec. Perdue Visits Midwest

Following Monday's House Agriculture Committee Farm Bill Listening Session in Texas, lawmakers headed north to Minnesota on Thursday, the home state of Committee ranking member Collin Peterson, to host another forum to gather unfiltered input on farm policy issues from agricultural stakeholders.  And members of Congress went west, to California on Saturday, to hold their fourth Farm Bill listening session. Meanwhile, in Wisconsin on Thursday, Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue kicked off the Department's "Back to Our Roots" RV tour that is focusing "on getting input on the 2018 farm bill as well as working to increase rural prosperity." Also, the second Iowa Ag Summit was also held on Saturday in Des Moines where audience participants heard Sec. Perdue, Iowa GOP Senator Chuck Grassley, and other agricultural leaders discuss policy related issues. Today's update recaps some of the highlights from these recent farm policy linked activities, as well as some general background regarding the Farm Bill and House Ag Committee Chairman Mike Conaway (R., Tex.).
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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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