Daybreak Oct. 14: EU weighs new tariffs on US fruits, nuts and wine

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A World Trade Organization arbitrator on Tuesday awarded the European Union the right to hit the U.S. with tariffs on roughly $4 billion worth of U.S. goods – including some ag commodities – in retaliation for subsidies provided to Boeing. The next step is for the EU to ask the WTO’s Dispute Settlement Body for final authorization to impose the tariffs.  
 
The EU already has a list of U.S. commodities that it is considering for retaliation, including hazelnuts, pistachios, walnuts, frozen concentrated orange juice, grapes, grapefruit, vegetable oils and fats, rum, wine, vodka and a wide array of seafood products.
 
The EU, which is suffering under U.S. tariffs on $7.5 billion worth of European goods due to a WTO decision on Airbus subsidies, is making it clear that it would rather negotiate with the U.S. than implement the tariffs.
 
U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer sharply criticized the WTO decision, saying Washington state has ended the Boeing tax breaks, but also acknowledged negotiations. “We are waiting for a response from the EU to a recent U.S. proposal and will intensify our ongoing negotiations with the EU to restore fair competition and a level playing field to this sector,” he said.
 
Biden beefs up rural outreach
 
Joe Biden’s campaign has beefed up his rural plan for America by adding elements of his Build Back Better plan and drawing a sharper contrast with President Donald Trump, his campaign said.

Build Back Better is billed as Biden’s jobs and economic recovery plan for working families. In it, the Democratic candidate says he’ll “mobilize American ingenuity to build a modern infrastructure and an equitable, clean energy future.”

The updated rural plan says Biden “will make a $2 trillion accelerated investment over four years in our infrastructure and clean energy future, putting millions of people to work in good-paying jobs and setting us on an irreversible course to meet the ambitious climate progress that science demands.”

The plan says Biden will adopt smarter trade policies, promote ethanol and the next generation of biofuels, strengthen antitrust enforcement and support beginning farmers, among other goals.
 
Trump, Biden campaign stakeholders spar on ag issues 
 
Tuesday’s virtual gathering of Trump and Biden campaign stakeholders likely featured more agreement than either candidate ever would, but the two speakers also drew drastically different positions on key ag issues. 
 
Speaking at a Farm Foundation Forum on behalf of the Biden campaign, Pam Johnson, an Iowa farmer and former National Corn Growers Association president, said she was “ready for us to get back into a place where we have certainty in our trade markets.” 
 
“We simply cannot stand four more years of this,” she said. “We’ve gone backwards while the rest of the world and our competitors move on without us.” 
 
Sam Clovis, a former USDA and 2016 Trump campaign staffer, celebrated the fact that “finally we have a president who has been willing to fight back,” specifically calling out the former Trans-Pacific Partnership, which would have been “a bad situation for us.” 
 
The two speakers drew points of agreement on things like opposing supply management or set-asides, but butted heads on the governance of renewable fuels. Clovis said Trump lived up to his promises to support the industry, but Johnson predicted farmers – a traditionally Republican voting bloc – could be led to vote against Trump over their frustration about the issue. 
 
Dairy producers encouraged to enroll in 2021 DMC coverage
 
With dairy margins expecting to be volatile next year, the National Milk Producers Federation is encouraging producers to sign up for Dairy Margin Coverage. The program protects dairy producers when the difference between the all-milk price and the average feed price falls below a certain dollar amount selected by the producer.
 
“Coronavirus-related volatility in dairy markets is expected to continue well into 2021, with DMC payments a possibility,” says Jim Mulhern, president and CEO of NMPF. Mulhern says the program “empathetically” proved its worth this year as payouts rapidly reacted to unprecedented price plunges. 
 
As of Sep. 28, according to USDA, there were 13,479 dairy operations enrolled in 2020 coverage out of 26,351 dairy operations with established production history. 
 
Senators ask EPA to update biogenic carbon emissions rule
 
Senate Environment and Public Works Committee member Joni Ernst, R-Iowa, along with 13 other farm-state senators, is asking the Environmental Protection Agency to better define biogenic carbon emissions from agricultural feedstocks used to make food, fuel, beverages, or bioproducts.   
 
“With the exception of EPA, environmental regulatory authorities worldwide distinguish between biogenic carbon emissions from agricultural crops and carbon emissions from fossil fuels,” the letter reads. 
 
The letter argues the agency’s current policy on biogenic CO2 emissions has hampered investment in the nation’s bioeconomy because of uncertainty regarding the permitting process, lawsuit risks, and costs of building new manufacturing facilities.
 
Bangladeshi veterinarian recognized for livestock work
 
A Bangladeshi veterinarian is the recipient of the Norman E. Borlaug Award for Field Research and Application for her work with livestock farmers in her country.
 
Salma Sultana “founded Bangladesh’s first vocational training institute to educate hundreds of livestock service providers and create sustainable employment opportunities, especially for women and young people,” the World Food Prize Foundation said in announcing the award. 
 
Barbara Stinson, president of the foundation, said Sultana was being honored “for her innovative model of providing veterinary outreach, treatment and education to thousands of small-scale farmers in Bangladesh.”
 
“These achievements have not been easily won,” Stinson said. “As a woman in a male-dominated field operating in situations with less than adequate resources, Sultana has encountered numerous obstacles, shown great persistence and innovation, and demonstrated exemplary accomplishment in her efforts to overcome the food security challenges in her country.”
 
He said it: “It’s kind of like if you hit a mule with a two-by-four to get their attention.” Sen. Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, referring to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers improving a levee along the Missouri River in Southwest Iowa after that area flooded again in 2019.

Questions? Tips? Contact Bill Tomson at bill@agri-pulse.com

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