Trade Talks with China Continue—Last week, the sorghum industry welcomed news that the 178 percent tariff and anti-dumping and countervailing duty investigations were dropped. Trade talks between the two countries continued this week, showing signs that China has promised to help reduce the trade surplus by purchasing more U.S. agriculture and energy products. There are many questions being raised about those logistics, and details around the timeline and amount of increased purchasing are still looming. USDA officials have been working closely with the Trump Administration to provide information on potential products that China could buy. President Trump is pushing a $25 billion increase on U.S. agricultural products. NSP Remains engaged in these discussions and is cautiously optimistic, knowing there are a lot of ups and downs possible as negotiations continue the first week of June.
Clock Ticking on NAFTA Re-Negotiation—Last week on May 17, Speaker of the House Paul Ryan’s proposed deadline for the office of the United States Trade Representative to submit a new NAFTA agreement came and went. Negotiators from the three countries worked diligently over the last few weeks to finalize terms in the 24-year-old trade agreement but were unable to resolve a handful of the most contentious chapters – including agricultural provisions.
Speaker Ryan set the original deadline of May 17 based on the Trade Promotion Authority (TPA), which provides for a strict timeline of consideration in order for the final agreement to be eligible for a simple “yes/no” vote in Congress without the possibility for any amendments by members of Congress.
With mid-term elections in November expected to dramatically reshape the partisan makeup of Congress, Speaker Ryan’s deadline reflected the time required for this current Congress to be able to consider the new NAFTA. Speaker Ryan has since walked back the May 17 deadline, suggesting if an agreement is submitted to Congress in the next month, this Congress might still be able to approve it. Here is a helpful walkthrough of the steps still required by TPA. If the International Trade Commission does not use their entire allotted days for review and analysis, there still might be time for this Congress to approve the agreement. Otherwise, it will almost certainly be decided in 2018, possibly by a Congress with dramatically different priorities than the current one.
Export Report—Export sales were strong again this week with Mexico, South Africa and unknown destinations committing to purchase 1.2 million bushels. Shipments also continued with Mexico, South Africa, Taiwan and Vietnam taking delivery of more than 400,000 bushels. Basis at the Gulf was somewhat softer although still significantly higher than before China terminated its investigation. The gap between the basis available at port vessels and country elevators remained wide.
GMO labeling draft rules published. The USDA has published its proposed GMO food labeling rule. Once finalized and published, this federal law will pre-empt all state-level GMO labeling regulations. Public comment on the draft rule is currently open through July 3, 2018. [View draft rule here.]
TPPA Conference set for December—The 30th Annual Texas Plant Protection Conference will take place December 4-5 at the Brazos Center in Bryan. “The theme for the conference is Innovations in Texas Agriculture for a Profitable Ag Future,” said Dr. Kranthi Mandadi, TPPA President. “With this theme, we are pleased with the lineup of outstanding speakers that will kick off our two-day December conference.”
Dr. Patrick Stover, Vice Chancellor and Dean, College of Agriculture, Texas A&M University will begin the conference with a welcome and introductory comment. The Texas State Representative for the Bryan-College Station area, Kyle Kacal will then give an update on state legislation that will have an impact on Texas agriculture.
Next, Economist and Futurist Dr. Jay Lehr, Science Director, Heartland Institute will be the keynote speaker. “Mega Trends in Agriculture” is his topic. Mike Johnson, Head, Crop Protection Field Development at Syngenta Crop Protection will discuss “Innovations in Ag Research and Development.” Following his presentation, Loren Wernette, Manager, Ag Digital Solutions with BASF will present on “Agricultural Marketing in the Digital Age”. After lunch, three Texas A & M AgriLife Research and Extension personnel will present on innovations that will have an impact on Texas agriculture in the future.
These presentations are:
- “Unlocking Yield Potential by Translating Crop Microbiome Research into Healthier Soils and Biorational Products”, – Betsy Pierson, Microbe Interactions, Department of Horticultural Sciences, Texas A&M University
- “Adapting Remote Sensing from Research to Ag Applications”, – Juan Landivar, Resident Director, Texas A & M AgriLife Research & Extension, Corpus Christi & Weslaco, TX, et al
- “Gene Drive Applications to Agriculture in Texas: Knowledge, Perceptions, and Values”, – Zach Adelman, Associate Professor, Entomology Department, Texas A & M University
Following the opening session, there will be breakout sessions on: new technology and chemistry, pest identification, laws and regulations, cotton, fertility management, grain, horticulture/turf, pasture and rangeland and precision ag.
Foundation Scholarships Due June 1—The Bruce Maunder Sorghum Leadership Scholarship, Darrell Rosenow Memorial Scholarship and Sorghum Feed and Food Scholarship are all due June 1 to Foundation Director Larry Lambright. Scholarships can be turned in via email to email@example.com or postmarked by June 1. More on the scholarships can be found on the National Sorghum Producers website.