Washington Insider

All Column Articles

  • The agricultural sector is deeply worried these days about potential market losses from trade policy changes under discussion in some quarters. For example, Informa Economics is reporting this week about a white paper produced by the National Pork Producers Council that digs deeply into...

  • While there are issues facing the Congress as it attempts to come to agreement on the FY2018 budget, one of the most controversial has been the proposal for a "border adjustment tax," Informa Economics is reporting this week. The powerful House Ways and Means Committee focused on the...

  • Making low-income Americans work to qualify for so-called welfare programs is a key theme of the administration budget proposal, the Washington Post says. "If you are on food stamps and you are able bodied, we need you to go to work," said budget director Mick Mulvaney during a White House...

  • Bloomberg is reporting this week that the coming budget wars are likely to get a great deal hotter in the near future. It says the President plans to propose $1.7 trillion in cuts to a category of spending that includes major social and entitlement programs for lower-income Americans as part...

  • House Speaker Paul Ryan, R-Wis., last week doubled down on a vow to reform the tax code this year, an optimistic timeline that could face headwinds amid the ongoing Russia investigations. Ryan chafed at a question of whether tax reform would slip beyond 2017.

  • Ag Secretary Sonny Perdue appeared Wednesday before the House Agriculture Committee to discuss the rural economy and to give Committee members a chance to ask about their favorite farm and trade policy issues.

  • Informa Economics reported this week that the upcoming NAFTA talks could be long and complicated, according to Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross and that pressures are building on participants. For example, Senate Finance Chairman Orrin Hatch, R-Utah, said that that he wants the Trump...

  • Republican lawmakers and agribusiness groups generally think this is a good idea and are reacting positively to USDA Secretary Sonny Perdue's reorganization announcement boosting the role of trade.

  • The Washington Post is reporting this week that the administration has nominated a former Republican congressman from Wisconsin and ex-ambassador to Tanzania, Mark Green, to head the U.S. Agency for International Development (USIAD). The Post sees the nomination as a "rebuttal to the...

  • The U.S. Department of Commerce recently released a comment it received from the Government of Mexico. The letter is long, and quite academic and broad in nature. For example, it argues that the U.S. aggregate trade deficit is a poor measure of trade equity, since it is the result of low...

  • Julie Gunlock is policy director at the Independent Women's Forum and runs the organization's Culture of Alarmism Project. She wrote recently in the Investors' Business Daily regarding Cargill's decision to partner with the Non GMO Project and offers some pointed criticism. She thinks the Cargill...

  • Bloomberg is reporting this week that USDA is once again pushing back implementation of an Obama-era rule tightening living standards for organic poultry and livestock. In addition, the agency is now asking whether the USDA should move forward with the regulations at all.

  • Last Saturday's Senate Ag Committee hearing in Michigan featured many of the expected arguments. It noted that the farmers and ag officials who turned out demanded more investment in international development, better crop insurance and a steady agricultural workforce.

  • Bloomberg is exclaiming this week at sort of a new development, market cycles for organic milk. For some time, observers have struck by the booming demand for organic milk. Now there is a different reality. "While everyone from hipsters to housewives is drinking more of the stuff than ever...

  • Even as feelings among House Ag Committee members have been hurt over the failed efforts to change the 2014 Farm Bill to help dairy and cotton producers, another report about a policy problem is circulating. Bloomberg says that the peanut program stimulates supply beyond demand, even...

  • POLITICO spends time this week tracking the new spending bill, and notes that Congress clinched passage of the omnibus package, including authority to keep the government running for the last five months of FY 2017.

  • Bloomberg is reporting this week that an Interior Department rule requiring energy companies to curb emissions of methane from wells and pipelines on public land is a problem for them and they want it overturned. Some Midwest senators want to include an ethanol waiver in legislation in exchange...

  • Two groups have worked hard recently to claim more favorable program provisions through an early "limited reopening" of the 2014 Act, involving a proposed new support program for cotton seed and more favorable protections for the dairy "margin insurance" program.

  • U.S. House and Senate negotiators reached a bipartisan deal on a $1.1 trillion spending bill that will keep the government open through September 30. Because the bill required Democratic votes for passage, it now reflects a lot of their priorities, Bloomberg reports.

  • While the United States is heavily focused on defining its trade and economic policies, the European Union is already pushing once again its basic demands for any free trade deal. In a visit last week, the EU Ag Commissioner Phil Hogan took aim at what he called "sticky issues that weren't...