Tariffs Leave the Kidney Bean Crop in Limbo

By Dan Gunderson, MPR News

Kidney beans are just one of several varieties of beans classified as dry edible beans. “When you take the North Dakota, Minnesota and southern Manitoba growing region, half of the North American dry bean crop is produced in that area,” says John Bartsch, a trader with Kelley Bean Company, who also grows beans on an eastern North Dakota farm. “And so if they have a good crop or a poor crop, it has an outsized impact on price.”

About 60 percent of kidney beans harvested are used in the United States and the rest are exported. “Domestically, they’re going down to Faribault, Minnesota for canning there and for foreign export. Most of them go to the E.U. or Central America,” says Perham, Minnesota farmer Mark Dombeck.

Lately, trade disputes have played a larger role in the direction of the industry. “Right now, our competition for exports is Canada and Argentina,” says Dombeck. “They don’t have a tariff, so we’re at a disadvantage,” The European Union has been a steady kidney bean customer for years, he adds. But last year, trade disputes disrupted the relationship when the E.U. put a retaliatory tariff on the beans after the U.S. had placed tariffs on steel and aluminum.

Read more and listen to the story.

U.S. and Japan Roll Out a Trade Agreement

During the United Nations General Assembly in New York, President Donald Trump and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe announced the first stage of the new trade agreement between the U.S. and Japan. This agreement levels the playing field in terms of market access for certain agriculture and industrial goods, as well as on digital trade. In the next two weeks, the two countries will work out more details. The first stage of the agreement is expected to be finalized by January 2020.

U.S.-Japan Trade Agreement Fact Sheet

 

Rallying Support for USMCA Ratification

Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue, along with former agriculture secretaries, held a press conference on Thursday to rally support for the U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement. There is a window of opportunity for Congress to ratify the agreement between now and the end of the year. One concern from House Democrats is labor provisions. Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue says there are enforceability consequences in the USMCA to ensure labor concerns are addressed. Read more.
 
The U.S. Dry Bean Council, including the Northarvest Bean Grower Association, has also sent a letter to U.S. Trade Representative Ambassador Robert Lighthizer asking for ratification of the USMCA. That letter can be read here.

Dry Bean Scene

Farm organizations and members of Congress gathered in Washington D.C. on Thursday for a rally supporting ratification of the U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement. Hear more in this week’s Dry Bean Scene on the Red River Farm Network, made possible by the Northarvest Bean Growers Association.

NDSU Study Looks at the Impact of EU Tariffs

A study from North Dakota State University, commissioned by the U.S. Dry Bean Council, concluded that retaliatory tariffs by the European Union have put U.S. farmers at a price disadvantage in international markets. This has resulted in reduced exports and potentially lost export markets in the future.
 
The study looked at the impact of tariffs on the three principal types of dry beans exported to the EU; dark red kidney, navy, and Great Northern beans. NDSU researchers concluded that tariff levels must reach an inflection point, or key level, before export amounts are negatively impacted.
 

MN Farmers Voice Concerns at Farmfest

Tough growing conditions and trade were all part of the House Agriculture Committee Listening Session at Farmfest on Wednesday. At the beginning of the discussion, farmer-leaders asked for continued bipartisan work on trade. House Agriculture Committee Chairman Collin Peterson responded. “I’ve done what I can to get others to support the U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement. I’ve had some success. We have a ways to go, but I think it’s going to pass.”

Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue addressed the concerns of the validity of USDA data. Perdue said USDA staffers are professionals and facts are facts. “Your complaints aren’t the first time I’ve heard farmers don’t believe what the National Agricultural Statistics Service says,” said Perdue. “What I’ve found by looking at the research is the NASS numbers, in the end, are more likely than what I heard.”

Watch the Farmfest listening session.

FSA Administrator Visits ND to Discuss MFP Payments

USDA Farm Service Agency Administrator Richard Fordyce paid a visit to North Dakota, meeting with farmers, agriculture organizations and other state leaders. The trip was prompted by North Dakota Senator John Hoeven to discuss details of the new Market Facilitation Program payments. This was the first roundtable event for the Administrator with farmers regarding the payments.
 
Farmers are still curious as to how the county rates were determined. Fordyce said in order to get payments out sooner rather than later, USDA had to come up with a calculation that didn’t require taking a crop to harvest. “It’s based on acres of crops that were planted in that county, the average yields of those crops times a number by commodity,” said Fordyce. “For example, if there was a county that experienced a weather anomaly within the last three years, that would impact the county yield number.”
 
Hear more and read more about Fordyce’s visit.

U.S. Dry Bean Council Holds Summer Board Meeting

The U.S. Dry Bean Council’s summer board meeting took place July 19 and 20 in Snowmass, Colorado in conjunction with the U.S. Dry Bean Convention. This year’s meeting focused on USDBC’s response to the current trade environment and the downturn in global exports.
 
The Agricultural Affairs and International Promotion Committees both discussed and defined several new approaches to shoring up global markets and expressing industry policy priorities. That includes another Washington D.C. Fly-In in the spring of 2020, and the implementation of several new trade opportunities under the new Agricultural Trade Promotion program.
 

U.S. Dry Bean Convention Begins this Weekend

The U.S. Dry Bean Convention kicks off tomorrow in Snowmass, Colorado. During business sessions, attendees will hear from the U.S. Dry Bean Council, get an update on international markets, listen to U.S. and Canadian crop updates and more. Also speaking at convention is NDSU Extension crops economist Frayne Olson on trade, tariffs and the crop market outlook.
 
A full schedule of events can be found here.

PP Claims Expected to Exceed $1 Billion

According to USDA Undersecretary for Farm Production and Conservation Bill Northey, numerous prevented plant claims have already been paid out. “I think those claims have climbed over the $100 million mark so far and we expect that probably to pass the $1 billion mark at some point as you look at the acres that are likely to be in the prevented plant area.”

The NRCS has also announced special cost-share funding for farmers to plant cover crops in eight states. Those eight states include Minnesota and South Dakota. These cost-share dollars are available through the EQIP program.