In the immediate aftermath of three days of trade talks in Beijing, U.S. officials report some progress in negotiations with China. But very substantial issues remain unresolved.
Some of the best news coming out of the talks relates to agriculture. In addition to purchasing more U.S. soybeans, China also agreed to approve five genetically modified crops for import. Other concessions from China include an agreement to cut punitive tariffs on U.S.-made cars, a promise to open its markets for more foreign investment, and the drafting of a law to prevent forced technology transfers. However, American Farm Bureau trade adviser Dave Salmonsen says the key for the U.S. side is enforcement of China’s commitments:
Our morning ag show (The KGNC Golden Spread Agribusiness Update) featured a conversation I had with a south Texas farmer who has had his own dialogue on trade with folks from China. Allen Hensley grows sorghum in an area west of Corpus Christi:
Hensley says, when foreign buyers visit, they are often are looking for assurances regarding the reliability of U.S. sorghum supply. By coming out to the farm, he says, the buyers are able to see firsthand the agricultural practices and technologies that maintain steady sorghum production despite challenges like drought and the sugar cane aphid.
With the government shutdown ongoing, some symbolic moves from House Democrats are expected in the way of pushing through spending bills that likely won’t even get a vote in the Senate. Among the legislation expected to be approved in the House: money for various ag programs.
One byproduct of the shutdown that is having a growing impact on ag is the loss – for the time being – of USDA reports, such as the grain stocks and WASDE reports that were due out tomorrow. Maybe we’ll eventually get those on a delayed basis. But, if shutdown keeps going, also in line to go missing are the monthly Cattle on Feed and Cold Storage reports and the annual January cattle inventory report. Texas A&M livestock economist David Anderson says those would be significant losses. But, at least for now, those in the livestock business are still getting information from USDA’s Agricultural Marketing Service: