Mexico Approves the USMCA

On Wednesday, the Mexico Senate approved the U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement by a vote of 114 to 4. Mexico is the first of three countries to ratify the trade deal. Now, all eyes are on Canada and the U.S. to approve the agreement. An implementation bill has been introduced in the Canadian Parliament. Earlier this week, U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer said Democratic concerns with labor and environmental provisions in the USMCA can “be sorted out quickly.”

Censky Meets with MN Farmers

USDA Deputy Secretary of Agriculture Stephen Censky came back to his home state of Minnesota and met with state farm leaders on Tuesday. States like Minnesota and North Dakota, which are more dependent on exports, will see that reflected in the new Market Facilitation Program payments.

“It is based on the calculated impacts on trade per commodity.” says Censky. “That is totaled up together with all the commodities within a county, including how much is produced in each county, and that will determine the county rate. So yes, there will be differences between counties.” The country rate structure has not been announced and that may not happen until after the Farm Service Agency certifies acreage in mid-July. “Our goal is have it available right around or shortly after the USDA acreage report.”

Perdue Promises Trade Assistance as “Quickly as Possible”

While few details are still available, the proposal for USDA’s latest round of Market Facilitation Program payments is currently under review by the Office of Management and Budget. Speaking to reporters in Washington D.C. on Wednesday, Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue said the trade assistance will go out to farmers as quickly as possible.

“It more than likely won’t be completed in the next two months, but we’re going to move as quickly as we can. We are not revealing details at this point in time.” One reporter asked if the $16 billion would make farmers whole. Perdue said “the purpose is to make them where they’re able to pay their obligations and be able to produce again the following year.”

Trump Issues Disaster Declaration for MN and ND

President Donald Trump has issued a disaster declaration for North Dakota and Minnesota. The declaration covers winter weather and flooding conditions that occurred in the states, triggering the release of Federal funds for recovery. Nineteen North Dakota counties and 51 Minnesota counties can now access assistance for repair or replacement of disaster-damaged facilities.

Dry Beans Included in New MFP Program

The new round of trade-related assistance totals $16 billion with $14.5 billion going to Market Facilitation Program payments. Rather than different rates for the various commodities, USDA Undersecretary Bill Northey said farmers will now be paid based on a single county rate. “The team has gone through and looked at the trade damage each county is feeling and we then divide that by the acreage planted within the county and will have a single payment, no matter which of the crops you plant.” This relief strategy is still being reviewed by OMB, but payments will be expedited. “The payments will come out in three different times of the year; we’re looking at a first payment coming out in July or August.” The second payment can be expected in November and the third will come in January. Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue said payments will likely be front-loaded, coming out shortly after the Farm Service Agency acreage reporting is wrapped up in mid-July. The first tranche of payments are the only ones guaranteed. The second and third tranches will be made if market and trade conditions are warranted.

Department of Agriculture Working on New Trade Mitigation Package

The U.S. Department of Agriculture is in the middle of developing a trade assistance program for farmers. According to Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue, there are very few details available at the moment. The new trade package is expected to cost between $15 and 20 billion, which is the general calculation of the damage to U.S. farmers due to trade disputes. Direct farmer payments and market development programs will likely be in the package, as they were last time. Some new elements will also be included.

Steel and Aluminum Tariffs a “Hurdle” in USMCA Chats

Chief Agricultural Negotiator in the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative Gregg Doud confirmed Tuesday that steel and aluminum tariffs are a big hurdle in the U.S. Mexico Canada Agreement discussions. “I can tell you there’s not a day that goes by at USTR someone isn’t having a conversation with Canada and Mexico to figure out how to sort this out,” says Doud.

“This is an enormous priority for us. It’s been challenging and it’s taken more time than I think we would have liked in regards to the new administration in Mexico. The election process is evolving in the U.S. and Canada, which makes things challenging as well.”
 

Dry Bean Scene

Vice President Mike Pence met with farmers in rural Glyndon, Minnesota. Dry beans were apart of the conversation, as Borup farmer Mark Harless had the opportunity to speak with Pence. Get the details in the Dry Bean Scene on the Red River Farm Network, made possible by the Northarvest Bean Growers Association.

Dry Bean Scene

North Dakota and Minnesota dry bean growers were in Washington D.C. this week for the U.S. Dry Bean Council Fly-In. U.S. Dry Bean Council director and Webster, North Dakota farmer Kevin Regan says trade remains the top priority for the industry. Hear more in this week’s Dry Bean Scene on the Red River Farm Network, made possible by the Northarvest Bean Growers Association.

Dry Bean Scene

Trade and farm bill implementation remain top policy priorities for agriculture. Senator John Hoeven hosted a roundtable discussion about those topics with North Dakota agriculture groups in Bismarck. Hear more in this week’s Dry Bean Scene on the Red River Farm Network, made possible by the Northarvest Bean Growers Association.