Washington Insider

All Column Articles

  • The coming week will be an interesting and important one for agriculture. As lawmakers return after their two-week spring break, the Senate is expected to move quickly to a vote on the nomination of Sonny Perdue to be USDA Secretary, a test he is expected to pass easily.

  • It is hard to characterize Canadian policies for agriculture. Much of the nation's ag sector is avidly committed to open markets and depends heavily on exports, but there are exceptions. Supplies are tightly regulated for milk, eggs, chicken and turkey, for example.

  • Bloomberg notes that Congressional support for new trade agreements has eroded over the past two decades since many believe they have hurt U.S. competitiveness. Environmental groups, especially, argue that the environmental side deal negotiated alongside NAFTA was largely ineffective...

  • Digital Trends (DT) often carries far-out, technical stuff and is currently featuring a heavy theme. It focuses on "shoring up the current model of global food production" which can't meet food needs without a radical "transformation," DT says. However, it sees a range of "innovative new...

  • The April 28 funding deadline is approaching rapidly Politico says, and lawmakers are locked in negotiations over a funding bill that would last only until the end of September. Still, Republican leaders want to use the issue to "show they can govern," and are pledging they'll meet the deadline...

  • Bloomberg reports that DDGS prices have tumbled to the lowest levels in a decade for this time of year. The cause, it says, is that "China moved earlier in 2017 to impose import tariffs." This, it says, has significantly slowed American exports to this market, which is the world's largest.

  • A sort of cottage industry now aims at sorting out the challenges that await Governor Perdue's formal arrival at USDA. For example, Bloomberg put together a list of such issues this week, based heavily on statements to the Senate Ag Committee as well as other comments. The group suggests...

  • Despite the recent discussions at the summit meeting with Chinese officials, trade tensions between the two countries remain high. For example, the President is continuing to push China to rein in North Korea's saber rattling and missile testing. At the same time, following last week's meeting...

  • Last week, the administration held a trade summit with China's political leader and a number of top officials. The talks were reported to be serious and were characterized as "modestly encouraging." In fact, the summit itself was a welcome sign for agricultural groups who feared that recent...

  • Press reports indicate that President Trump and Chinese President Xi Jinping both emphasized progress in their relationship following their brief meeting last week in Florida. Informa Economics is reporting that there was "an initial give" by China on trade regarding U.S. beef and financial...

  • President Trump has asked for about $30 billion in emergency spending for defense, along with $18 billion in cuts to non-defense spending. However, Rep. Tom Cole, R-Okla., told Bloomberg that appropriations will ignore the proposal for $18 billion in cuts. Gridlock on this effort could "slow...

  • Bloomberg is reporting this week that strong disagreements between USDA and EPA are far from unusual, and that even the routine fights have gotten to the point where they are prompting "legislators and industry leaders to question EPA pesticide use decisions" especially concerning the...

  • While no one knows for sure what will come out of President Trump's upcoming meeting in Florida with Chinese leader Xi Jinping this week, there are a lot of interests pushing for one sort of change or another, Bloomberg is reporting. It is likely that geopolitical issues will be foremost on the...

  • Bloomberg is edging toward a pretty specific tax policy prediction this week in spite of the intensity of the fight. The agency says that while "the President's surprising election and his promise to overhaul the US tax code set off celebrations, some industries had barely applauded before...

  • Cargill, the large Minnesota company, recently announced that an outside group had certified more than a dozen of its ingredients as non-GMO. This led to "flack" from some of its closest allies, the paper said, and pitted familiar factions against one another: those for and those against...

  • The state of play on trade policy seems murkier than ever these days. Immediately after the election, in which both candidates ran against "job killing trade," press reports indicated a pullback in overseas investment, including in Mexico.

  • The search for more healthful food is important to all consumers and has led to a recent Bloomberg article on choices and actual benefits. The article highlights the use of information about the "scary chemicals used by agribusiness to keep your apples worm-free," and that this generates...

  • Last week, everyone was focused on the health care fight and its potential implications. This week, it is the budget, Bloomberg says, and the prospects of avoiding a government shutdown by passing an omnibus spending bill.

  • The Financial Times is reporting that Mexico, the largest buyer of U.S. corn is considering offering duty-free access to attract Brazilian and Argentine corn as an alternative to imports from the United States. Such a move could have "big consequences for U.S. farmers" already worried about...

  • The investigation into Brazil's meat scandal, named Weak Flesh, quickly cost Brazil access to some of its most important export markets, including China, Egypt and the European Union. However, by early this week, importers had begun to partially reopen consumer markets to Brazilian meat exports...