President Trump Signs $2 Trillion Stimulus Package

The U.S. House approved a $2 trillion stimulus package on Friday that passed the Senate earlier in the week. Hours later, the package gained President Donald Trump’s signature, as coronavirus continues to spread in the U.S. The legislation stands as the largest emergency aid package in U.S. history, featuring $350 billion in Small Business Administration loans. It also includes $14 billion to replenish Commodity Credit Corporation funds and $9.5 billion in separate USDA funding to help ag producers impacted by COVID-19.

Dry Bean Scene

The U.S. Department of State is temporarily waiving interviews for first-time and returning H-2 visa applications. This flexibility will allow farmers to use past workers or those already in the U.S. Learn more in the latest Dry Bean Scene from the Northarvest Bean Growers Association on the Red River Farm Network.

Governor Walz Issues Stay-at-Home Order

Governor Tim Walz has issued a two-week stay-at-home order for all Minnesotans. This executive order comes as a result of the coronavirus pandemic, limiting citizen movement outside of their homes beyond essential needs. The executive order is effective this Friday, March 27 and will last for two weeks. Food and agriculture are among the list of “essential services.”
 

Dry Bean Scene

Agriculture and food have been declared by the Department of Homeland Security as critical infrastructure during the coronavirus outbreak. This allows ag businesses to continue normal operations, despite restrictions to stop the spread of the virus. Learn more in the Dry Bean Scene on the Red River Farm Network, made possible by the Northarvest Bean Growers Association.

Trump Administration Implements COVID-19 Guidelines

The Trump Administration has announced 15 guidelines to slow the spread of coronavirus.The guidelines are intended to help save lives and keep critical U.S. infrastructure in place amid the outbreak, including the food supply chain. The Food Industry Association says grocery stores are working 24 hours-a-day to replenish and restock shelves while ensuring cleanliness.
 
According to a statement, the department is ensuring that Food Safety and Animal and Plant Health Inspection Services and Agriculture Marketing Service employees remain healthy and safe. USDA says these agencies are prepared to make sure grading and inspection personnel are available, so USDA-inspected products continue to be available.

Dry Bean Trade Policy Update

 
With so much going on in the world of trade policy for dry beans, the U.S. Dry Bean Council has provided a update:
 
China Phase One Agreement
A 5% reduction on dry bean retaliatory import duties to 38%, still not at levels previous to the ongoing trade dispute. We have also learned that Chinese importers can apply for an exemption to bring in U.S. dry beans at previous applied tariff rates.
 
US/UK Trade
Discussions continue on prospects for a US/UK trade agreement as the UK continues to define the terms of its trade regime during the transition Brexit year through the end of 2020. The UK government is holding a consultation period on its MFN tariff levels once Brexit is complete in 2021, this is open to comments through March 5, 2020.
 
US/EU Trade
There is renewed vigor to engage in trade discussions with the EU. Negotiations are starting up again behind the scenes while ongoing retaliatory tariffs remain in place.
 
CAFTA/DR
The CAFTA/DR trade agreement has reached full implementation for US Dry Beans. This means that all U.S. origin dry beans enter the Dominican Republic duty free with no limits on tonnage via TRQs. In many ways this opens the market to more bean imports from the U.S but it is also creating some roadblocks. We are addressing these with both the U.S. and DR governments to ensure full market access.

USDA Announces Additional Disaster Assistance

Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue today announced additional disaster assistance available to agricultural producers, including producers impacted by drought and excess moisture. Through WHIP+, USDA is helping producers recover from losses related to 2018 and 2019 natural disasters. In addition, producers have reported widespread crop quality loss from eligible disaster events that results in price deductions or penalties when marketing the damaged crops.
 
USDA’s Farm Service Agency will open signup on March 23 for producers to apply for eligible losses of drought (D3 or above) and excess moisture. The full details can be found here.

Phase One Trade Agreement Implementation Moving Forward

Following concerns that China may not follow through with the phase one trade deal, USDA says China has taken numerous actions to implement commitments to the U.S. In a statement, Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue says the Trump administration negotiated a strong trade agreement with China and there are expectations with compliance on all elements of the deal. The phase one trade deal agreement went into effect in mid-February. Read the press release.

Dry Bean Scene

On Wednesday, President Donald Trump signed the U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement. This action is receiving praise from the dry bean industry. Learn more in this week’s Dry Bean Scene, made possible by the Northarvest Bean Growers Association.

Dry Bean Scene

Trade with the European Union remains a top priority for the dry bean industry. U.S. Dry Bean Council Executive Director Rebecca Bratter has more in the Dry Bean Scene, made possible by the Northarvest Bean Growers Association.